Part Two of The Last Duel is now live and free on my Wattpad page. To go with it, here’s a collage I made of some of the gorgeous sketches that were created for the story by ace artist and illustrator Phil Harvey.
More next week with Part Three.
December 19, 2014
December 12, 2014
In the spirit of the season here’s a gift that I hope you’ll like – a short story of mine called The Last Duel.
I’m putting it out on Wattpad for free in three parts, one a week for the next three weeks. On my profile there you’ll find four more free stories of mine that have already appeared elsewhere on the internet. The Last Duel, however, has never seen daylight before.
If you like action, romance or both I hope you’ll find it worth your wallop. And see the sketch above, that I’m using for a cover? It’s by a fabulous artist called Phil Harvey. There’s more of his work to show you next week, with part two.
December 3, 2014
Yesterday’s Book Doctor sessions for my first engagement as Patron of Reading for Alexandra Park School were a blast. I saw fifteen students, spending fifteen minutes with each talking about what kinds of stories they liked before making a reading recommendation that I hoped that person would enjoy.
These above are the books I chose. See that piece of paper on the right? That form was created by APS’ awesome librarian Ms Constantinou so that I, as Book Doctor, could prescribe my recommendations! Each student could then choose to get their prescription filled either by borrowing their recommended book from the school’s excellent library or buying it from superb local indie booksellers The Big Green Bookshop, who offered my ‘patients‘ a generous 15% discount.
Here’s the full list of what I recommended:
Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
I Am Jackie Chan – My Life in Action by Jackie Chan
Persuader by Lee Child
Blade by Tim Bowler (though it’s Bloodchild in the pic; that’s terrific too!)
Wolf by Tommy Donbavand
Sawbones by Catherine Johnson
I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah
Replica by Jack Heath
Web of Darkness by Bali Rai
Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
Parasyte by Hitoshi Awaki
Claymore by Norihiro Yagi
Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu
Ice Station by Matthew Reilly
Every student I spoke to had strong opinions about what would appeal to them and what wouldn’t, and expressed them with clarity and passion. It was inspiring.
Then, in the evening, I took myself off to The Big Green Bookshop to catch SF grandmaster Brian Aldiss launching a new collection of his short stories and looking back at his amazing writing life.
Now, that was a good day.
November 21, 2014
The time has come to say goodbye to Trapped By Monsters. For the four years the blog was active my part in writing it was, for me, an absolute hoot. One of the things I loved about TBM was that it gave me the chance to do what I miss most from the ten years I worked in a bookshop: recommending books.
From now on I’m going to do that a little differently.
On Tues Dec 2nd I make my first official visit to Alexandra Park School as its Patron of Reading. In place of what I normally do at my school events I’m going to be working as a Book Doctor. Over the course of the day I’ll be taking appointments with individual students from the school’s Year 8. We’ll discuss what each student likes and dislikes. I’ll then ‘prescribe‘ a book recommendation specifically for that young person.
I believe that the right book at the right moment can make someone a reader for life. The Patron of Reading scheme is, for me, another chance to put that belief into action. Over the coming months I’ll also be recommending more books here on my own blog as another part of my role. Meanwhile, though TBM will soon be gone, you can find all the recommendations I made there on the reviews page of my LibraryThing profile.
Goodbye, Trapped By Monsters. I’d like to take this chance to thank all the awesome authors and artists with whom I shared the caves and everyone who came to visit us.
Best wishes and power to your reading tentacles,
November 14, 2014
Yesterday I was delighted to pay my third author visit to The City of London Academy to speak to three groups of excellent young people from Year 8 as part of their literacy week. As before in my sessions at this school, the students’ attention was impeccable and their questions were inspiring.
Here’s a pic taken during a previous visit:
A neighing, wickering thank you to the school’s librarian, the dynamic Sean Delaney (above, left), for inviting me back.
November 7, 2014
The strangest thing for me about The Centrepoint Sleep Out was sleeping so close to so many other people…
We lay on cardboard sheets to soften the paving stones beneath us. Above us was a canopy roof to keep off the rain.
We needed it. In the brief period between the last late-night talkers nodding off and the first early-morning ones waking, I opened my eyes and listened.
The wind grappled with the roof, making it ripple and crack like sails on a stormy sea. Rain smashed down like hammers. Behind these sounds the snores and grumbles of the three hundred dreamers all around me were a constant, ghostly moan.
It was even more thrilling and wonderful than I remembered.
With thanks to all my friends and family who sponsored me so generously,
October 17, 2014
My thanks to APS’ Samurai School Librarian Sonia C. for appointing me. HEE HEE HEE ‘scuse me; rather excited.
October 13, 2014
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.
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.
October 6, 2014
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: email@example.com
September 22, 2014
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:
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:
(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:
Thank you, Sylvie!