Storm Horse - Chicken House, 2015
Winner of the Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award, 2017.
(Chosen by the children of Hawick's schools, which makes it - for me - even more of an honour. Because I was up against some stiff competition.)
I was visiting the Dutch island of Ameland when I first heard of the horses that used to pull the lifeboat out into the waves. Right then and there the idea for a story popped into my head. It all went through many, many changes in the writing, but the initial idea - of a lonely boy and a lost horse - remained.
Here's a little film I found on YouTube, showing the horses in action. It's in Dutch, but if you skip to the 3.00 minute mark, everything is pretty easy to follow.
A 5-minute film showing the Ameland lifeboat horses at work - in a demonstration staged several times a year for visitors to the island. (my photos from one such event are at the bottom of the page.)
This is how I've always pictured Storm, although perhaps without such a long mane.
And here's a short YouTube clip of me reading an extract from the book.
Several times a Year, the Abraham Fock lifeboat museum - on the island of Ameland - puts on a demonstration of the old way of getting the lifeboat into the sea. I took all the pictures below at one such demo.
UK & Australia edition
UK - troubador book club edition
latin america edition
(The quality of some of them isn't so hot: with so many people watching, i couldn't get close enough for a good shot. It's a very popular attraction: spectators turn out in their hundreds.)