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Museum of Thieves revisited – the names

March 9th, 2019

One of the Year Six classes at Dodges Ferry primary school is currently reading Museum of Thieves, and I’ve been invited to talk to them – which has sent me looking through my old notebooks.

I didn’t really know what I was doing when I was writing Museum. The whole thing was a learning process, which is why I rewrote it more than twenty times over a three-year period. And the story in the early drafts was nothing like the one that was eventually published.

Some things were the same; Goldie was always the central character, and the museum was always there. Fingertalk was part of the story from the beginning, and so were the guardians (though they weren’t the Blessed Guardians at that stage). In fact, the very first draft began like this:

First paragraph, first draft, Museum of Thieves

But so much else was different, mainly because I didn’t yet know much about the world I was writing into existence. And one of the important things I didn’t know was the system whereby parents gave their children names that were lucky or fortunate or brave, in the belief that it would help keep them safe.

So the guardian in that first draft was called Guardian Kyte, not Guardian Hope. Goldie’s friends were Bree and Jorn and Eddie, rather than Jube (Jubilation), Fort (Fortitude) and Glory. And the boy who eventually became Toadspit was called Lionel.

I can hardly believe it now. Lionel? What was I thinking? Luckily, he turned into Toadspit fairly quickly, which suited him much better.

Illustration of the boy Toadspit

And that’s exactly why we have second and third (and twentieth) drafts. So we can find the story that’s meant to be there. And the right names.

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