There are quite a number of characters in DarkIsle, too many to count, so I’ve only listed the main ones.
Morag MacTavish – the heroine. Her birthday is on September 14 and she’s just celebrated her tenth birthday when the story begins. She’s got shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes and is small for her age. She’s intelligent, loves reading and her favourite book is the one left to her by her missing parents. She lives in a tumbledown guesthouse in Irvine with her foster parents, Jermy and Moira Stoker, until she’s rescued by Bertie and Aldiss.
Albert (Bertie) Alonzo Fluke – a pompous dodo with grey feathers and a short white tail. He’s quite fat owing to his love of food, particularly cream cakes. He lives in an underground house in the middle of an old oak tree in the magical town of Marnoch Mor. His best friend is Aldiss Drinkwater and his favourite thing is his magic satchel, which was left to him by his Great Aunt Marjory.
Aldiss G (Graham) Drinkwater – a brown rat with black, beady eyes and a long tail. He loves smelly cheese (the smellier the better) and lives in a small house near the Town Hall in Marnoch Mor. His best friend is Bertie Fluke and his favourite thing is food…any kind of food.
Shona – large green dragon with yellow eyes. Was turned into a stone statue by Devlish and sat on a hill overlooking Irvine Beach for 30 years before being rescued by Bertie, Aldiss and Morag. She’s a bit grumpy, but loveable none-the-less. Her favourite thing is pickles, although she’s partial to a bit of roast chicken. She’s terrified of rats and rat-like creatures, but is getting used to Aldiss. She DOES NOT have wings!
Kyle the Fisherman – a human man in his 30s who is unshaven and untidy, but nice. He’s a friend of magical folk, having first been introduced to them by his father. He lives on board a fishing boat, the Sea Kelpie, which is normally moored in Oban harbour. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, although now counts Morag, Bertie, Aldiss and Shona as such. His favourite thing is a penknife left to him by his father.
Montgomery – a wizard. He’s tall with short brown hair, no beard and is kind and caring. He is the chairman of the Witches’, Wizards’ and Warlocks’ Convention, which runs Marnoch Mor. He lives in a large mansion house on the outskirts of Marnoch Mor.
Devlish – an evil warlock (male witch) who lives in Murst Castle on the island of Murst with his daughter, Mephista. No-one in the magical world likes him. He’s feared. He’s tall with short red hair and a pale complexion. No-one knows when his birthday was, but when alive he used to pretend it was on Halloween
Mephista – the beautiful daughter of Devlish. Tall, striking, with long red hair. She’s cruel and nasty. She has a horrible temper and treats her servants badly. Her favourite pastime is hurting other people and animals. Her birthday is April 1.
MacAndrew – Devlish’s righthand man and a very good warrior. He’s dark and brooding. He has long dark hair and a shaggy beard. No-one knows if he’s human or a magic person. He’s not known for being particularly evil, but will carry out Devlish and Mephista’s orders to the tee…no matter what they ask of him. MacAndrew does not know who is parents are, is unsure of his age (although he believes he’s about 37) and does not celebrate his birthday because he does not know when he was born.
Tanktop – a Klapp demon, which are nasty, smelly, ugly, monkey-like creatures with long arms and legs, and strong hands. They get about by clinging on to the underside of cars. Tanktop is one of the Meermore Klapp demons, ruled over by the Grand Pappy Meermore. There were other Klapp demon clans, but the Meermores killed them. The Klapp demons work for Devlish, mainly spying on other magical folk. Klapp demons can’t do magic. Tanktop has no friends and his favourite thing to eat is boiled fish eyes. He doesn’t know when he was born, but was one of a litter of six. His siblings are: sisters Lipstick, Dolly and Angelcake and brothers Lawnmower and Strimmer.
Arrod – a giant boy whom Morag first meets on board his mother’s trading ship. He’s not like the other giants in that he’s kind and gentle.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DARKISLE
Where do you get your ideas for stories from?
Anywhere and everywhere. I got my inspiration for DarkIsle from the dragon in Irvine Beach Park. It was created by artist Roy Fitzsimmons in the 80s and I’ve always loved it. My family used to go down to Irvine Beach a lot when I was growing up, so it was lovely to discover the dragon on the hill overlooking the beach.
Is DarkIsle your first book?
It’s the first children’s novel I’ve written and the first novel to be published. I’ve written four adult books, which have never been published, but I plan to go back to them and rewrite them in the hope that some day they will be published.
Will there be any more books like DarkIsle?
Lots, hopefully. I’m bursting with ideas about stories about Marnoch Mor and the characters that live there. I’ve also got some mad thoughts mulling around my head for other stories that are not set in that mythical town.
How did you get the idea to make the main characters a girl, a rat, a dodo and a dragon?
It was a mad burst of inspiration! Only joking. I wanted to make one of the main characters a girl because when I was growing up, all the heroes of stories were boys and I felt us girls should get a turn. I’ve always loved dragons – good or bad – and one of my favourite book of short stories was The Last Dragon, it was different tales about…you guessed it…dragons! Regarding the rat and the dodo, well I have a fondness for rats which are extremely clever creatures in real life (although Aldiss isn’t that clever!) and the dodo was put in because I wanted a character that was unusual. He’s a bit of an uppity old bird is Bertie, but very loveable.
Why did you set the story on an island?
I think islands can be pretty mysterious places and I wanted a setting that humans wouldn’t know about, so it had to be hidden. I’ve always loved the idea of secret places, so an island that was cloaked in magic was the natural place to put all my baddies. Murst is a pretty bleak place and you’ll learn more about it in my next book.
What’s your favourite bit of the book?
I love the part when Morag meets Bertie and Aldiss for the first time. I was laughing to myself when I wrote it. I love the fact that the dodo and the rat try to make her think she’s dreaming when she’s not, but Morag isn’t taken in. I also like the bit where they go on the Underground. I had great fun writing it.
How long did it take you to write DarkIsle?
I started with the idea about 20 years ago, but didn’t actually get down to writing it until the middle of 2006. It took me around six months to get it to a stage where I was happy with it. Then it was another four or five months of ‘polishing’ before both myself and my editor finally agreed that it was ready for printing.