Next year we are reprinting Peter Dickinson’s novel Eva Tupper’s Diary. Guess who did the cover? Kathleen Jennings, yay! Publishing being what it is, we’re telling the sales reps about the book now so that they can take it to the booksellers and then when you wander into your local bookshop next May, boom! there it is. Emma arrives in Scotland to spend the summer with her cousins, the McAndrews. The McAndrews have the typical kid’s book family: a late mother, a distant father, and an assortment of cousins four years apart from 14 onup.
There’s also a mini-submarine and perhaps more. Here’s an excerpt from early on in the book:
“Creature?” said Emma. “Do you mean a monster?”
“Oh yes, we’ve got one of those,” he said. “It’s made of rafts of weed which get carried up from the bottom by gases from decaying stuff underneath them. They make black hummocks, quite long sometimes, so that you see several things in line that might be the humps of a sea-serpent, and then the gas gets out and they sink again. That’s what all the monsters really are—Loch Ness and Loch Morar as well as ours. How long since anybody saw its head, Mary? Mouth, eyes, teeth?”
“Och, you’ll not see them and live,” said Mary placidly. “But there was poachers came up from Glasgow when you were in your cradle, Master Andy—an ignorant class of men, as everybody knows there’s no fish worth poaching in our loch. But they brought two boats by night, and nets, and by morning both boats were overturned and three of the men vanished. Those were the last poachers I heard of coming this way.”
“And the first,” said Roddy, “if everyone knows there’s no fish worth poaching. Hey!”
Mary had walked round behind his chair while he was talking, and now biffed him hard on the ear with her open palm; then she nodded to Emma and walked out smiling. Roddy rubbed his ear and went on eating his toast.
“Even if there’s only a story about a monster. . .” said Emma. “I mean there’s only a story about Loch Ness.”
“That one’s had two hundred years to spread,” said Andy.
“But things happen so much faster now,” said Emma. “I mean if only you could get your story on television . . .”
“Cousin Emma,” said Andy, lordly and handsome, “you have only just reached civilisation after a formative childhood in the desert. Understandably you are besotted by the television set. But you will later learn that it cannot do everything—in particular it cannot make one stretch of water which might have a monster in it look more interesting than another stretch of water which might not.”
“He’s the expert,” said Roddy. “His girl’s in the Glasgow studios.”