Sue Hardy-Dawson Gets a Grilling

when one of the There’s No Smoke Dragons dropped in for a chat!

Sue Hardy-Dawson


Did you start writing in order to tell the world just how absolutely brilliant dragons are?

No, don’t be silly, I’ve only just found out you exist. I’m not dreaming am I?   

Humph, so have you always liked writing then?

No, in fact I hated it I still can’t spell and my handwriting is very messy. But in the olden days computers were the size of walls and elderly relatives were scared of telephones, so children had to write thank you letters and post cards. I wrote my first poem when I was eight. I wrote poetry because I found it didn’t need so many words just the best most powerful ones. Even my aged relatives seemed to like them  and it was so much easier than writing a long boring letter about the weather and what I’d been doing.      

Which poem was it that first made you want to write poetry? I bet it was one about a dragon…

Well gulp! I’m sure at least one of them was. There were lots that my Dad shared with me, he used to recite poetry to me at bed times. I loved the rhythms and the sounds of the words and I wanted to make words sound like that. The first grown up poem I fell in love with was The Thought Fox. The fox is really the idea in the poet’s head and the footprints he leaves are the finished poem.   

Oh, so not in fact a dragon at all, was it written by a dragon then?

Er no it was written by Ted Hughes he was the poet laureate when I was at school.    

Which are your other favourite dragons, er I mean poets?

That’s so hard, the first poems, I remember loving, were by A. A. Milne who also wrote Winnie the Pooh. Later I fell in love with:  Seamus Heaney, Roger McGough and Carol Ann Duffy. I could go on forever so I’d better stop there.   

Sue day-dreaming

When did you think you might become a poet then, when you were two or three hundred years old?

No, humans don’t live to be that old. In any case, I never thought I would be clever enough or lucky enough to do it as a job. But when I was fifteen my teacher insisted the poem I’d written for homework had been copied, from a book. I was really cross at first. But then I realised it was really a compliment. She must have thought it was good, too good to be mine. And she wasn’t even an elderly relative so at last I’d found something I could do. Later on I started to write and illustrate poems about my children and a poet called Nick Toczek chose two of them for an anthology – I was so excited I put the milk in the dishwasher.   

Do you write anything other than poetry, something just for dragons maybe?

I’ve written a story about a dragon.   

Dragon puts Sue in the hot-seat!


Oooh goody

But that was for children   

Booh grrr

Gulp, well er dragons might enjoy it. But at the moment I’m writing a Toad. He has however complained the pen tickles so I may have to stop and give him a scratch.   

I do write lots of different things though, children’s stories, some of a novel, shopping lists and birthday cards for my children.   

What is your novel about? Any dragons in that?

It’s top secret I haven’t even told myself what’s going to happen yet.   


How long does it take to write a poem when it’s not about something absolutely fantastic like dragons?

The longest time I’ve spent writing and rewriting a poem was seven years but sometimes it only takes me a few minutes to get the main ideas down. Usually, I have to work to deadlines set by publishers and editors though, because of this I write every day so that when I get asked for poems I already have something. As you can see I keep all my poems beautifully filed so I can find them instantly. Well apart from that singed pile can’t think how that happened?  


Apart from drawing and writing about us dragons, we must be wonderfully inspiring (we are wonderfully inspiring aren’t we?) what else has inspired you to write a poem?

Being embarrassed by teachers because I’m dyslexic; although I had some very nice teachers, who really tried to help me, there was one or two who thought I was lazy because I couldn’t learn to spell or write neatly. Nowadays teachers know more about learning difficulties but back then some teachers still thought embarrassing children about their writing would improve their work.   

So where do you write your poems, in your nice comfy cave, or whilst soaring through the treetops? And do you have a special time to write maybe after a bit of marauding or something?

Er, I don’t do much marauding. But I would write whilst soaring through the treetops if I could.   

Flying through trees


No, I write poems anywhere and everywhere and not just in my, um…cave. I write them down quickly before they have a chance to escape. I never really know when one will sneak up on me. But I write a lot in the middle of the night, I always keep writing paper and pens in the upstairs loo so as to not wake anyone else up rummaging. I do this because poems often escape on the way downstairs. I also find that some of my best ideas arrive as I’m waking up in the morning so I keep a pad by the bed just in case. In fact, I once thought of a really brilliant poem, no honestly the best one I’ve ever not written, whilst walking along the street. Sadly, it got away before I made it back to paper. So now I have an emergency poem kit in every coat and bag just in case.   

Rummaging sounds a bit like marauding if it wakes people up. Is it anything like marauding?

No not really.   

Oh so you wouldn’t recommend it then?

I’d avoid it especially during the night.   


Obviously,  you love drawing dragons. Who could resist? We’re so handsome and lithe. We dragons are extremely svelte aren’t we? Which leads me to question the apparent size of my behind in some of your drawings?

Y,y,yes well what to say? I think we’d better put it down to artistic license. After all Mr Dragon, sir, small skinny dragons aren’t very scary are they?   

Humph! I shall ignore that comment and assume you mean very slim and perfectly formed. So which do you like doing best writing or painting and drawing pictures?

I love both so much I couldn’t choose.   



What about incinerating knights? Burning princesses, CATS, that kind of thing?

Are you trying to tell me something, where’s the cat?   

No particular reason I’m very fond of cats…and sofas, oops! What am I saying?

Must press on; in a bit of a hurry. So what did you do before becoming a poet and artist? Pillage villages and steal princesses?

Certainly not, I worked in a school pillaging words and stealing ideas for pictures, stories and poems.   

What advice would you give to young humans and dragons wanting to be poets?

Read lots and lots of other peoples’ poetry, keep an emergency poem kit with you at all times, read the results to anyone who will listen and send your poems to Roger on the


Well thank you for clearing that up. Obviously it’s plain to see we dragons have been your greatest muse and are largely responsible for all your successes. Yes, yes, I know, don’t say a word, we dragons are brilliant. 


Your cat, well he looks just fine to me. I could’ve sworn he was black when I arrived.  Well, a slightly burnt smell and surprised expression are common in cats I’ve found. Your sofa, also not previously black then, green in fact. Ho humm…tit-tum, don’t sofas normally moult then, are you sure? In my experience… Yes, yes, insurance and all that.  Well must fly, dragon business, don’t you know


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