Here are the answers to some of the most common questions David Almond is asked when he visits schools. These can be used in school for discussion or follow-up ativities:
Readers ask many questions about Skellig. Here are answers to some of the more common questions.
The name Skellig comes from the Skellig Islands, which are off the SW coast of Ireland, and which have a fascinating history.
I'm not sure who or what Skellig is. I don't know where he came from, how he got into the garage, or where he goes to at the end. He remains a mystery - like much of life. Right from the earliest times, people have told stories and made images of beings who are like us but who also have wings.
For me, the most important character in the book is Mina. She just jumped into the book ready-formed, with her opinions about education, her knowledge of William Blake, her interest in birds.
When I was little, my mum used to tell me that shoulder blades are where our wings used to be, when we were angels.
The book is set in my house and my garage. When we moved here, the garage was in the same condition as the garage in the book, and there really was a toilet in the dining room.
When I was a boy, I had a poorly baby sister, just like Michael has.
My mother had arthritis, and sometimes she referred to it as 'Arthur'.
I used the numbers 27 and 53 because they sound good when they're spoken together. So too, do the words Leakey and Coot.
Skellig was great to write, because at times it really felt as if it was writing itself. The book took seven months to write. It was a journey of discovery. I didn't know what Michael had found in the garage. Much of the time I didn't have a clue what was going to happen next. I didn't know if the baby was going to die.
I'm very interested in education and how we learn. Some children, like Mina, get a great education at home, but there is a danger of isolation. Most schools, and most teachers, are just great these days, though I do think that our approach to education is much too formal. There are many unnecessary pressures placed on teachers and their pupils.
There are plans to make both a stage play and a feature film of Skellig. There should be more news on these projects soon.
A couple of incidental things that I didn't know until I'd written the book, but which some people assume I did: the word 'skell' means a homeless person who lives by begging; there is a character in Dracula called Mina.