Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 11 – The Boy In The School Uniform


Apologies! A little later than advertised… but certainly worth the wait!


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

‘Last one out is a toe-biter!’ announced Kyp.

Atticus hushed him.  He pointed with his tail to the body of the shear-shrike lying on the floor nearby.  The creature was covered in a crust of dirt, inches thick, its beak clogged with muck. 

‘We’re not alone,’ whispered Atticus.

Only now did Kyp see the cavern’s walls, floor and ceiling were crawling with large brown beetles.  There was a loud popping noise, as one launched its fat, drab body into the air, trailing grey powder from its backside. 

‘Dust-bugs,’ cautioned Atticus. ‘Try not to -.’  

His warning came too late; erupting like firecrackers, the beetles took off in unison, the air turning black and unbreathable with the dirt sprayed from their bottoms.  Kyp staggered towards what he hoped was the exit from the cave, dustbugs ricocheting off the walls all about him like artillery shells.  He managed to crawl his way out of the cave and stand up, a dust-cloud surrounding him.

Atticus?’ 

Over here!’  

Kyp froze.  

If Atticus was ‘over there’ then who, or what, had touched him on the shoulder?  

Chapter 11 – The Boy In The School Uniform

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Tune in next Sunday at 4pm for the next instalment

Chapter 12 – The Phawt-Gnoks Oligarchy


Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #6

Phil CooperFossil, 40cm x 40cm, acrylic on paper


Hey,’ said Kyp, and he touched Atticus very lightly with his hand. ‘Back home there’s this museum.  It’s full of great stuff.  It’s got a dressed flea and the horn of a narwhal. It’s got snakes in great big tanks and dinosaur bones and dodos, but there’s nothing like you there.  There’s a circus me and Sprat would go to, Fatty Barnstorm’s.  He’s got a tiger called Pinstripe and there’s Petula, the human projectile.  She gets fired from a cannon.  People ooh and ahh, but if they saw you, Atticus, if they saw you, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.’

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 10 – Caramels & Coconut Cracknell


As usual, with this chapter, I was spoilt for choice with so many vivid images conjured by the words. In the end, I chose to depict a fossilised dinosaur from the museum Kyp describes. I have very fond memories of going to the local museum with my grandmother when I was a little boy. I was completely entranced by the butterflies and insects in glass cases, a giant stuffed lion called Nelson. and the rather dusty, hushed gloom of the galleries. It was a magical place, a place of extraordinary things, like postcards from strange worlds that one day I might visit…

Phil Cooper, November 2020


Phil Cooper’s fossil painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, October 2020




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 10 – Caramels & Coconut Cracknell



It’s 4 o’clock, there’s a nip in the air, and with a little bit of luck there’s a slice of cake nearby. Time then to rejoin Kyp Finnegan and Atticus Weft in their continuing adventures in the fantastical realm of Chimera, the realm of lost things.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

The freshly-hatched metamorph surveyed its surroundings, its feet scratching amongst the sediment. It ruffled its stubby plume of tail feathers and turned in a circle. It put its head between its legs and blinked. It began pecking at the remains of is cocoon, picking up the husks in its beak and arranging them about its body as if making a nest. The shear-shrike sought to nestle within in it, resting its head on its chest. Agitated suddenly, it kicked the remains of its cocoon. It cawed and flapped its wings, sending the dust of long-dead detritums whirling around it. The blades of its beak snapped open and closed. It made another sound, a scream that set Kyp’s teeth on edge.

‘What’s wrong with it?’ Kyp whispered.

The shear-shrike launched itself into the air. It struck the cave roof and fell back to the ground. Enraged, it took flight again. This time when it met with the ceiling, it emitted a shrill scream of frustration and began to half-fly, half-throw itself at the cave walls. The scissor-snap of its beak made Kyp queasy with dread. At any moment, he expected to be cut into bloody strips or find Atticus sliced into snake rings. The shear-strike began attacking the walls again, slashing at the mattresses. Kyp thought the creature would never tire of its tantrum.

When finally the beating of wings and tearing sounds subsided, Kyp peered up through the white whirl of wadding and saw the shear-shrike had managed what other metamorphs had not; using the formidable tool of its beak, it had cut a way out through the roof.

Kyp and Atticus were free.

Chapter 10 – Caramels & Coconut Cracknell

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Tune in next Sunday at 4pm for the next instalment:

Chapter 11 – The Boy In The School Uniform


Dan Snelgrove: “There’ll Never Be Another Girl Like Stacey!”

Actor Dan Snelgrove reading Chimera Book 1 in his recording studio, October 2020


Chapter 9 of Chimera Book 1 – entitled Captain Toothache & The Silver Locket – takes place in a locked room, with Kyp Finnegan, the book’s 8 eight year old hero, and Atticus Weft, a snake comprised from all the odd socks that go missing from your washing machine, baring their souls. It doesn’t have the peril and the running and the collapsing bridges of previous chapters, but for the voice of Chimera, Dan Snelgrove, this much more introspective episode was the most challenging yet.

I caught up with Dan recently to find out more about how he’d approached these meatier moments, and was fascinated to learn even more about the various ways in which his he is approaching the work of bringing this book to life as an audio book. I also found out Dan can ‘dance like pirate’ – something I’ve always suspected.

Dan & Phil in conversation, November 2nd, 2020


You’ll find all nine previous chapters of Chimera Book 1 here – with a new chapter going out here and everywhere else at 4pm on Sunday.


Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #5


‘I knew it was wrong, sneaking into their room and opening the drawer like that, but I was hoping they’d catch me.  They’d have to talk to me then.’

‘What did you find?’ 

‘Nothing much.  Loose change, tubes of face cream, a few photos of me when I was little, and a silver locket.  It looked really old and didn’t have a chain.  It didn’t look like anything much. I tried looking inside, but the hinges wouldn’t open.  I put it inside an old crisp packet and buried it in the garden.’

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 9 – Captain Toothache & The Silver Locket


Chapter 9 of Chimera Book 1 is a very important one to me. I took the decision at the outset of the very first draft of Chimera that the reader’s first experience of the novel should mirror Kyp Finnegan’s – a head-long rush down the rabbit hole, breathless, panicked, sensorially intense – a boy on the run, a boy out-running perils and predators, but also a boy outrunning something else – his shame. But then we get to the ‘locked room’ of Chapter 9, and Kyp and Atticus are forced to confront the secrets they’ve been keeping and we come to understand Kyp is carrying much more weight around with him than just his rag-bag collection of remembering treasures. When I first heard actor Dan Snelgrove’s reading of this chapter just a few hours before it went live, I cried. I couldn’t help it, and if that sounds a bit naff, so be it. I wrote the words obviously, but to hear Kyp going through it in the gloom of the ankle-snatchers’ hoarding cell, to hear Dan pushing all that feeling through it – well, it broke my heart. Bravo, Dan! But I had a similar reaction too when Berlin-based artist, Phil Cooper, sent through this week’s painting, for there was the old silver locket, moments before being forgotten, all those earthy colours a million miles away from the vivid hues of Chimera. You can even see Kyp’s finger marks in the mud, which gave me a strange thrill. Here is an image beamed from the Elsewhere world, the world from which Kyp Finnegan has so totally lost his way.


Following on from the Chapter 8, where we learnt a bit more about the world of Chimera, in Chapter 9 we learn more about Kyp’s backstory in the mundane world. We find out about why the silver locket is such an important object, possibly the most important object in the book, so I had to paint it. Abandonment comes up again, as well as the idea of burying things, sometimes because they are precious treasures, and sometimes because they are too painful to look at in the light of day; either way, the consequences can be profound!

Phil Cooper, November, 2020


Phil Cooper’s old silver locket painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, October 2020




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 9 – Captain Toothache & The Silver Locket


It’s 4pm on Sunday afternoon, which means, here in Red’s Kingdom, it’s time once again to gather around the wireless (or more probably your smart phone!) and continue Kyp Finnegan’s adventures in the curious, fantastical realm of Chimera – a world of peril, danger and excitement!


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

Kyp, who was struggling to take everything in, said, ‘I still don’t understand why you did what you did for her.’

Atticus sighed.

‘Not long after my final transformation, I encountered a boy lost in the labyrinth.  This was many years ago.  He had a label around his neck and a gas mask in a box.  He’d been sent away from his family for his own protection, only no one came to collect him from the railway station. They were supposed to, but no one did. I offered to take him to see Saint Anthony.  I assured him I meant no harm, but the more I talked, the louder he screamed.  He ran from me and Madame Chartreuse was waiting.  He ran right into her arms.  Madame Chartreuse thanked me, praised me.  She offered me a job.  I was to seek out lost children, keep them safe from the dangers of Chimera, from its hazards, but herd them into her clutches, scare them, cajole them, befriend them, whatever it took.  It was a purpose, Kyp.  I was useful again.  I was useful again and I liked it.’


Chapter 9 – Captain Toothache & The Silver Locket

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Tune in next Sunday at 4pm for the next instalment:

Chapter 10 – Caramels & Coconut Cracknell


Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #4


“I encountered a boy lost in the labyrinth.  This was many years ago.  He had a label around his neck and a gas mask in a box.  He’d been sent away from his family for his own protection, only no one came to collect him from the railway station. They were supposed to, but no one did.”

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 8 – The Moppet-Drover


It’s always exciting when artist, Phil Cooper sends me his new Chimera-themed paintings, not least because Phil has complete freedom in terms of which elements within each chapter he focuses on. For this week’s painting, Phil has chosen an image of the young evacuee mentioned by Atticus Weft, when the sock-serpent explains how he first became a willing accomplice to the dark deeds of villainous Madame Chartreuse. Seeing Phil’s image of this abandoned little boy gave me a little thrill, for while this particular character is but a footnote in Chimera Book 1, he won’t always remain so as Kyp’s adventures in Chimera’s realm of lost properties continue…


“So, this week’s image is terribly sad; a little boy who is alone and frightened. We’re not told much about this boy. He’s just mentioned in a couple of lines by Atticus near the end of chapter 8, but those couple of lines speak volumes. They go to the heart of the book for me; that abandonment, either real or imagined, can be catastrophic for children. We see a lot of stories at the moment of children separated from families due to war and conflict. There must be countless horrors that are happening every day to these children and nobody will ever know. They will be forgotten.”

Phil Cooper, October, 2020


Phil’s ‘evacuee’ painting in development on his art table in his Berlin studio, October 2020




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 8 – The Moppet-Drover


The clocks have gone back and the weather is rotten. It’s time to get comfortable with a cuppa and biscuit, and pick-up where we left off with Kyp Finnegan and Atticus Weft at the mercy of the ankle-snatchers…


Last time in Chimera Book 1 read by Dan Snelgrove:

Sandwiched between a compress of bedsprings, Kyp thought he was going to suffocate. In the hot, airless dark, the ankle-snatchers pulled and prodded him. They put their long clammy fingers in his ears, up his nose and rifled through his pockets. They pulled at his hair. Kyp wanted to scream, but he didn’t dare open his mouth.

At last, he felt the squash of mattresses give way as the ankle-snatchers pulled him out into a dimly illuminated cave. That done, the creatures dropped to the floor and crawled away quickly into the walls.

Kyp sank to his knees, Atticus gathered around his neck and shoulders like a scarf. He tried to get up, but the atmosphere in the cave was hot and airless. If he could only keep his eyes from closing…


Chapter 8 – The Moppet-Drover

Keep up-to-date to with all the latest chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Tune in next Sunday at 4pm for the next instalment:

Chapter 9 – Captain Toothache & The Silver Locket


Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #3

Phil Cooper, ‘Bedside Lights Sprouting’, 40cm x 40cm, Acrylic on paper

The tunnel led into a much larger cave, its walls, ceiling and floor formed from old stained mattresses in different prints and patterns. Dim orangey light was given out by an assortment of bedside lights sprouting toadstool-like from the floor and walls.

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 7 – The Bedrock Catacombs


In Chapter 7 of Chimera Book 1, Kyp Finnegan finds himself all alone in the Bedrock Catacombs after narrowly escaping the clutches of Madame Chartreuse and her two henchmen, the Berserker and the Tealeaf. Like everything in the world of Chimera, the Bedrock Catacombs are comprised of abandoned things – in this instance, all those old mattresses you see fly-tipped at the sides of roads.

For his inspiration this week, artist Phil Cooper focuses on one of the bedside light-come-mushrooms that grow out of the floor and walls of the catacombs – a moment of comfort and calm – before events in the chapter take a more sinister turn!


Chapter 7 takes place in the Bedrock Catacombs, a series of caves and tunnels, hollowed out of layers and layers of compressed detritus. The caves are lit by the glow of discarded bedside lamps, growing out of the walls and floors of the Catacombs like fungi. These images, in particular, chimed with me this week, as I’d been out walking in the woods over the weekend and found them alive with mushrooms and toadstools of all kinds. Some, I know, are edible, and others highly toxic; but which is which? I’ve no idea, so I’d never trust myself to take some home to cook. But the shapes and colours of the fungi always fascinate me when I find them each autumn. They just look so weird, straight out of a dark fairytale. So, a toadstool has found its way into the illustration for this chapter of Chimera, in the form of a children’s plastic lamp. There isn’t much time to sit and enjoy the warm cosy glow it casts though – the toe-biters are coming!

Phil Cooper, October, 2020


Some of Phil Cooper’s reference photographs taken in-situ in the Berlin woods, October, 2020


Phil’s ‘Toadstool light’ painting in development on his art table in his Berlin studio, October 2020



Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 7 – The Bedrock Catacombs


It’s time to pop the kettle on, toast those crumpets and grab a handful of Jammie Dodgers as we rejoin Kyp Finnegan after last week’s close encounter with Madame Chartreuse, in Chapter 7 of Chimera Book 1, read by Dan Snelgrove.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:


Tune in next Sunday at 4pm for the next instalment:

Chapter 8 – The Moppet-Drover