What does your main character look like?

A thought suddenly occured to me this morning as I arrived home after dropping my kids off to school. They were dressed up as Goldilocks and William The Conqueror for their Book Character Parade.  It is Book Week, which by the sounds of the many excited children in the playground, tells you that this is a hugely popular week within the school year.

The thought was this:

If my middle grade novel ever got published, and a child wanted to dress up as my main character, Sirona, a 12 year old girl from Gaul in the 1st Century AD, what would she wear?

I already had some idea and little hints are written in the text but the question made me think about it properly.

Could the child make-do and find the whole outfit within her household? Maybe she would need to buy at least one accessory.

In this photo below is my son dressed up as William The Conqueror. Most of his outfit has been found in our wardrobes. The crown is made out of card. All I had to buy was the sword. (Yes, I am hoping I don’t get a phonecall from his school saying there’s been an accident. :-))

Joseph as William The Conqueror


So how does Sirona look? She is a 12 year old girl from from ancient Gaul in the 1st Century AD. I had to do some research as to what type of garments were worn in that time period.

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I looked online. Pinterest was a great help.

I read non-fiction and fiction books, inlcuding Asterix.

Here is my research board for this novel:

The Hidden Hoard – writing research



So the questions are:

How does Sirona where her hair?

Does she wear a long  dress or tunic and breeches?

What colour is her dress or tunic?

What colour are her breeches?

Are her tunic and breeches checked as was the fashion and method was used to create fabric for clothing?

Does she wear sandals or boots?

What accessories does she have on her person?


Even though I thought I knew all of this, considering Sirona’s outfit as something children might want to wear, made it real. It made me think about it in a practical way. Which was great.

So I ask you, if a child wanted to dress up as your main character that you are writing about, what would they wear?



What are your middle grade kids reading?

I am almost at the end of another big edit for my middle grade novel that I am writing at 9-12 year olds . When submitting to editors or querying agents it is suggested that you have some comparable books in mind to your own story that you have written. So here are a couple of books I have read over the past year:


Although the story themes are similar they are not the same. But they did help me understand about world building, setting the scene up and adding touches of historical content without making the story feel like a boring old history lesson. With comparables you need to know what it is that makes your story different and stand out. So that is something for me to consider. Mine is:

  • based around 50AD
  • about a tribe of Gauls escaping the conquering Roman army
  • based on the true discovery of 70,000 coins and jewellery on farm land in my birth place, the island of Jersey, (UK) that date back to the time of the Roman invasion.

It is also fortunate that I have two children of middle grade age. Therefore I am always interested in what it is they choose to read. I have always let my children have free choice when choosing a book. It is important for me to see what grabs their interest and why. No matter how much I may think the book is rubbish. After all, I read rubbish sometimes too.

So here are a few books my 12 year old son has chosen to read in the past year, bearing in mind he is not an avid reader.


He is currently reading Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Soon,’ and to my surprise he cannot put it down, reading it far too late into a school night. But then I reflect and realise that as a child I loved apocalyptic types of books. A book that had a great affect on me as a high school student was ‘Z For Zachariah’ by Robert C. O’Brien.

And here are a few of the hundreds of books my 10 year old daughter has read. She reads morning, noon and night!


She is currently reading ‘The Ruby Talisman’ by Belinda Murrell. Her name is Ruby and yes, I am one of those mum’s that buys books with her children’s name on. And this is something I consider quite strongly when choosing names for my book characters. I f you are interested in knowing what the most popular names are at the moment read this link here: Northern Beaches parents opting for classic baby names. I have observed that names seem to have a one hundred year cycle. My daughters name is Ruby Grace and I thought I was being highly original calling her that. After all, Grace was my grandmother’s name and she was born in 1927. But lo and behold there are a thousand Grace’s out there, in Australia where I live now and in Jersey where Ruby was born.

And finally, here are some books I read out loud to my children. I am currently reading ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ in a South American drawl and it is so much fun. I have often read in different accents especially with picture books. The kids love it and can do quite a few accents themselves now.


I realise that sometimes the books we have to read at school can have a positive or negative affect on us. I read Mrs Frisby and the rats of Nimh at secondary school and loved it. And because of that, I have shared it with my kids. That is the long lasting affect a curriculum or teachers can have on their readers.


Anyway, all this sitting down writing is giving me a ‘writer’s bum,’ so I better stop here and go for a walk before sitting down again to do the final tweaks, edits and changes of my 36,000 word manuscript SIRONA. 🙂