I’m thrilled and honoured to announce that I am Alexandra Park School‘s new Patron of Reading.

All kinds of grand and sinister masterplans are afoot, involving brilliant indie booksellers The Big Green Bookshop and others. Find out more about the Patron of Reading scheme here.

My thanks to APS’ Samurai School Librarian Sonia C. for appointing me. HEE HEE HEE ‘scuse me; rather excited. :D

On 6th November I’ll be spending a night outside – getting a small taste of what it’s like, here in London, to try to sleep in the open.

sleepout_overview

It’s to raise money for Centrepoint, a charity that helps homeless young people. You can find out more about the Sleep Out here. If you’d like to sponsor me – and I would very much appreciate it – you can do that here.

On Thurs 2nd Oct I gave three talks at Beaumont Leys School in Leicester. Here’s a pic of me there, gesticulating and gurning.

I spoke to three whole year groups – around seven hundred and fifty young people in all – and did my best to answer some wonderfully searching questions about writing, reading and more. With two of the groups I also took the chance to test out the current draft of the opening scene of my new book and was thrilled (and relieved!) to find it went down well. My thanks to everyone I met for the warm welcome they gave me – especially Jane Robinson, the school’s fabulous librarian.

I adore school visits. If anyone reading this is interested in having me visit your school, I want to hear from you! As well as my page at Contact An Author you can now reach me via the Society of Authors, the National Association of Writers in Education and (I’m especially happy about this one-!) Authors Aloud. Click through or email me directly: visits@samenthoven.com

As I suspect is the case with most writers, the question of author photos has been, for me, a vexed one. My ten years working in a bookshop gave me strong views on what not to do: booksellers take great delight from jacket pics that are vain and pretentious. But what to do instead?

Since my publication debut in 2006 I’ve been using a selfie I fondly call ‘half-headed me and my evil eyeball.’

It was partly inspired by this shot of one of my heroes, Alan Moore:

alan_moore1

As I explained at my school events, it also came from the hypothesis that if young readers saw my whole head it might put them off my books. ;p

I took the pic myself, treated and cropped it on my computer and thought the problem solved. However, as became apparent in the years since, it wasn’t. Repeated requests from schools, libraries, festivals and other interested parties for something ‘less arty’ and in higher resolution persuaded me at last that a rethink was required.

I’m lucky to know a photographer called Sylvie Joly, aka The Opsimath, whose work I think is fabulous. I contacted her, and here’s the result:

SamEnthovenbySylvieJolyFeb2014

(Click for full size)

See that looming shadow, past my shoulder? It’s a Chinj from my book The Black Tattoo, beautifully knitted for me by my friend Elaine. This pic below was my second choice:

ChinjAndBlokeBySylvieJolyFeb2014

Thank you, Sylvie!

…Meanwhile as of last week I’m now on Wattpad, where I plan to put out some stuff. Come and take a look.

On my Facebook profile I’ve been nominated to list some of my favourite things.

Fifteen films I never forget:

Akira

Ed Wood

Wild At Heart

Hero

Mind Game

Sexy Beast

Porco Rosso

Once Upon a Time in the West

Men in Black

Delicatessen

Finding Nemo

Black Cat White Cat

The Life Aquatic

Speed Racer

-and, hell yes-

The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Ten Favourite Books:

Stone Junction by Jim Dodge

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

True Grit by Charlies Portis

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

Burning Your Boats (collected short stories) by Angela Carter

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

-and-

The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola.

The books list was harder than the film one. To discover another four hundred and ninety(!) books I love, check my LibraryThing profile. :D

How has your summer been? Mine’s been ace. I’ve spent it binge-reading the works of Georges Simenon and Christopher Isherwood, dreaming up thrilling ideas for my next book – and making a racket with this:

ThereminDelight

It’s a theremin. I hope one day to play it with even a quarter of the delicacy, style and haunting beauty of virtuosos like Lydia Kavina and Thomas Grillo. For now, however, I’m more than happy to sound like flying saucers, the scream of rifts in time and space and the fatal frequencies conjured by the hapless Crawford Tillinghast in H. P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond.

It’s been a long, bloody and entirely self-inflicted slog but Draft Three of my new book is FINISHED.

Check out what I got for a tenner in a secondhand bookshop to celebrate:

AFineCatch

I’m especially pleased with the middle one – a lovely hardback of Beast by Peter Benchley. In view of my own book’s cephalopodal elements my chancing across this titan of Squid Lit. now is eerily appropriate. :D

I’m in full deep dive mode on Draft Three of the new book. As a matter of fact I recently upgraded my writing bathysphere to one of these:

TheIsolator

The current challenge, as often before with stories of mine at this stage, is characterisation. You’ve heard of authors who know their characters inside out before they start to write, or claim that their creations come to life and drive the story themselves? I’m not one of those. My tendency with early drafts is to focus on plot, world-building, action, structure – stuff. But of course the people in stories need attention too. Hence the question above, as posed (often) by my editor Ruth K. during the redrafting of Crawlers and resounding in my brain ever since.

That gas tank? Mine’s full of coffee. And sometimes Scotch. ;D

Books are a large part of my life, and for most of the past two months my life has looked like this:

Boxed

Now it looks like this:

Booksed

Happy New Year :D

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