Lemons in foreign languages, and encouraging teens to write bad language

26 Nov

I have been in full-on ‘Get Through To Do List’ mode recently! Latest crucial things have been edits on Electrigirl 2 (Electrigirl and the Deadly Swarm, out next Aug) and trying to come up with an idea for 5-7 year-olds as I’d been asked to pitch for a specific range by a publisher. Also I made a speech at Burford School’s Annual Charter Day (senior prizegiving, to me and you) which went really well, and I ran some school workshops for the Chipping Norton Literary Festival with my good friend John Dougherty.

Last week was quite busy and tiring, so I was really over the moon to get some great news on Friday afternoon – A LIBRARY OF LEMONS had gone to auction in Germany! For those who go, ‘huh?’ at this, let me explain. ALOL is being published by Piccadilly Press next May. They have world rights to the text, which means that they can publish it here in the UK and also sell it to publishers in other countries to be translated. On Friday, three German publishers bid against each other in an auction because they all wanted the book so much! I can’t tell you how exciting it was, or how thrilled I was. ALOL has been a very difficult book to get right, and there were times that I really wasn’t sure I’d ever manage to satisfy my agent or my editors!

I was so, so delighted by the outcome of the auction that on Saturday I went into Oxford to Blackwells bookshop and bought twelve books for disadvantaged children on their Giving Tree. The Giving Tree makes me cry just thinking about it. It’s very simple – kids in care, or in poverty, those who are being supported by charities like Barnados. These kids might not get any presents this year. But you can buy them a book, which might actually (given then stats) be the first book they’ve ever owned.

Blackwells has a Christmas tree set up in the store, decorated with red tags. Each tag represents a child. They say things like, ‘9 year old boy likes books about space’ or ‘2 year old girl would like a sticker book’. Last year I helped to launch the Giving Tree, and I had to limit myself severely to buying four books. I wanted to buy a book for every child on the tree, but an author’s earnings really don’t stretch to that… However, the German deal means I have some money coming to me that I didn’t expect, and so what better way to spend it than to buy books for kids who don’t have any?

When I’d spent a lot of money on books, I went to the shoe shop and bought something for myself too, to celebrate. I’ve been hankering after these for a while…aren’t they beautiful?

Wonder Woman onverses!

Wonder Woman converses!

And then on Sunday I did something completely different again. This is my third appearance at Banbury Literary Live, the lit festival held at the North Oxfordshire Academy in Banbury. It’s a brilliant concept – you buy one ticket for the whole day and go to whichever events take your fancy. Such a good way of running a one-day festival! This year the organisers had asked me to run a workshop for teenagers as my alter ego Joanna Kenrick. I took along copies of Red Tears and Screwed (my teenage novels for Faber, now, sadly, out of print, but I’m hoping to release them as ebooks soon) and encouraged them to write a scene that felt REAL and covered at least one issue eg depression, self-harm, violence, pornography, gender confusion, sexuality etc. I had a small audience but goodness me, they were BRILLIANT. Got straight down to writing – none of this, ‘I don’t know what to write’ business that I usually get from kids in writing workshops. I said they could put in as many swear words as they liked, or as much violence or sex – and it was hard to STOP them writing! Two of them even volunteered to read out their work at the end, which was incredibly brave of them. Their pieces were really powerful, and I think everyone there was so impressed.

It made me wish I did more workshops like that, with older teens. This is something that’s hard to do in schools because from the age of 14, students are locked into a severely restrictive timetable. Such a shame, because those young people had talent and ideas and more than that – a desire to write.

Thanks to the organisers of Banbury Literary Live for inviting me along again, and I look forward to next year!

Sarah McIntyre re-draws Star Crossed

12 Nov Sarah McIntyre Star Crossed

I love social media. Where else could you get an award-winning illustrator to re-draw one of your own book covers in under five minutes for a laugh? Thank you, Sarah McIntyre, for this wonderful re-imagining of my first Sweet Hearts book, Star Crossed!

Sarah McIntyre Star Crossed

And here’s the original, designed by Helen Huang and the team at Random House:

STAR CROSSED front nov2011

If you like Sarah’s style, you should check out her awesome website HERE! And thanks for being such a good sport, Sarah!

A wonderful afternoon at the Oxfordshire Book Awards 2015

6 Nov

We all like to feel special, don’t we? And sometimes for writers that can be difficult. We work in isolation most of the time; we are now (through social media) more aware than ever of what other writers and publishers are up to (which means we know when we haven’t been invited to launches or parties or when our publisher has made a huge offer for a brand new book just after they’ve turned down our own); and the precious little space given to reporting of children’s books means that most new publications don’t get reviewed. And there are the awards – which we all try very hard not to want, but can’t help dreaming about.

For those of us who just want to write books for kids and enjoy the process, it can be a bit daunting to navigate the emotional waters of publishing. Which is why it’s always so wonderful to have a letter from a child saying how much they enjoyed your book. And which is why I was really properly utterly thrilled to go along to the Oxfordshire Book Awards yesterday and pick up a cup – A REAL CUP!! – for Looking at the Stars, which took the ‘Highly Commended’ prize in the secondary category. My first ever book prize!


I’ve been gatecrashing the OBAs since 2011 when Malorie Blackman won for Boys Don’t Cry. It’s always a fantastic occasion, with hundreds of kids from around thirty schools involved in the judging process and ceremony. So many members of staff work extra time just to make it happen – and the tea and cake and bookselling reception afterwards is always buzzing. In the earlier years, I looked on in envy as children with just-bought books flocked to the winners, forming long queues and wanting to share their reading experiences with the authors. Having grown up in Oxfordshire, I hold particular affection for these awards and I told myself: one day – that might be me.

Yesterday, it was. And it was brilliant.

Left to right: me, Robin Stevens, Sue Heap and Teresa Heapy

Left to right: me, Robin Stevens, Sue Heap and Teresa Heapy (photo by Mark Thornton from Mostly Books)

Thank you so much to the organisers and sponsors for making it happen (and for the cake!). Thank you to Oxford High for hosting, and for Alec Williams for MCing so beautifully. Thank you to Mostly Books in Abingdon for being stellar booksellers as always. Thank you most of all, of course, to the kids who read the books and argued with each other passionately about which should win. The awards are entirely voted-for by children, which is extra specially nice for an author. A huge thank you also to Emma from Marlborough School for reading her wonderful review of my book as an introduction:

“It made me think of how girls, the same age as me, survive their situation, How girls in war-torn countries around the world deal with their circumstances. The book encourages us to see light in the darkest times as courageous and beautiful Amina does. She is such a strong-minded and loving character who never gives up hope on those that she loves and, I think, is an inspiration to us all. I valued the seriousness of this book as it showed me what really happens in the world and about how lucky I am…The book shows how stories can change things, like the thoughts in my head…the wonderful stories Amina tells makes the people feel free. The camp restricts them but their minds are open and running on imagination. Jo Cotterill talks of how, however enclosed and fenced off you are, the mind can escape to wonderful places as high as the stars with the power of storytelling.”

A fantastic review of which I am very proud – thank you, Emma.

This is the full list of winners for the awards – it was lovely to share the stage with Robin, Teresa and Sue! Sadly Marcus couldn’t join us but he sent a fab video message. It was also lovely to see Matt Brown and Virginia Bergin as fellow authors in the audience – Matt was shortlisted for Compton Valance in the primary category.

Best Secondary Novel

Winner – She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Highly Commended – Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

Best Primary Novel

Winner – Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Highly Commended – Goth Girl & the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Best Picture Book

Winner – Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy & Sue Heap

Highly Commended – There’s a Shark in the Bath by Sarah MacIntyre

Today I am back to earth with a bump, rushing to hit a deadline and trying to catch up on emails. But I still have a very lovely glow from yesterday and I’m sure it’ll last quite some time :-)

Did I mention there was CAAAAAKE?!!

Did I mention there was CAAAAAKE?!!

Joe All Alone – review

30 Oct

joe all aloneJoe All Alone, by Joanna Nadin, is written in such a strong voice that for the first half of the book I felt drawn to writing my review in the same style. It would, I felt, have been entering into the spirit of Joe, who is a boy who desperately wants to do the right thing despite his situation. But halfway through the book I changed my mind, because spirit is one thing, but deprivation and neglect are something quite different.

Joe lives with his mum and her boyfriend Dean, who is about as unpleasant as someone can get without being physically violent. Joe’s mum has made a series of unfortunate mistakes when it comes to men, it seems – though at least her previous man, Carl, had money so that although he was also a wrong ’un, they lived in a nice house in a nice area. Not now – Joe’s apartment is on the top floor of a small block of flats in Peckham, and Dean is so bigoted and racist, he’s made sure that Joe doesn’t have any friends among their neighbours.

Which turns out to be unfortunate, because when disaster strikes, Joe has no one to turn to. His mum and Dean head off to Spain, leaving him £20 and the promise to return in a week. I loved this first section of the book because it rang so very true. This is no Lord of the Flies; Joe doesn’t go and blow the whole lot on sweets. He’s a highly responsible boy for thirteen, with a very good idea of exactly what he’s going to need financially, and he knows how to budget. Instead, what we get is a very subtle description of Joe’s developing sense of relief that Dean is no longer there. A weight has been lifted; he has a whole week before that awful man returns, and the effect on Joe is substantial. Dean is still there, in his head, but as the days pass, Joe grows in confidence in his own abilities and even starts up a friendship with Asha, a girl Dean would definitely not approve of, being ‘not like us’. Asha is delightful – coming from a family with their own problems, she nonetheless has great emotional maturity and a deep sense of loyalty.

Mum and Dean don’t return on the appointed day – which is a problem because the money has run out, and Joe is being menaced by a bully at school. And this is where the book starts to take a darker turn, and where you’ll be unable to put it down. As a reader, I wanted so much for everything to turn out OK for Joe. As a writer, I had full confidence in Joanna not to tie everything up in a big bow!

Joe All Alone is a great book, simple in concept and linear in execution but powerfully written in a way that any young person should be able to connect to. There’s swearing but it’s not gratuitous, it’s real, and there’s a romance, which develops more than I was expecting but is similarly real and is a glimmer of niceness for Joe in an otherwise bleak world. I read Jo’s last book EDEN and raved about it here. This is a very different beast but no less brilliant.

On a side note, I couldn’t help noticing that both Jo and I have recently created male characters called Joe in our books (mine is brother to Electrigirl, out next Feb). I wonder if there’s a point in our lives that we unconsciously want to use our own names in our books to immortalise ourselves in some way…? Only to write about a heroine called Jo might be seen as egotistical, so we craftily gender-swap and add an extra ‘e’…! Have any other writers done this, I wonder?


Joe All Alone is out now and published by Little, Brown. It’s warm, funny, frightening and real, and everyone should read it. And then go read Eden too.

The Jo Cotterill UKMG Extravaganza write up!

18 Oct

Whew! What a fab day I had yesterday! 32 (yes, that’s right, THIRTY-TWO) authors who write books for the 8-12 age range got together at Nottingham Central Library to talk about their books to a packed-out room of eager readers! I am still recovering from the awesomeness, so here are some photos to give you a flavour of the event.

Thanks to Cas Lester and John Dougherty for being my chauffeurs for the day, to Julia Golding and Susie Day for travelling camaraderie, and to Paula Rawsthorne for her incredible compering. Biggest thanks of all to Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery for setting the whole thing up – RESPECT!

UKMG bunting!

UKMG bunting!

The library has our books on display!

The library has our books on display!

The audience listens to Paula explain how the afternoon will work - there was no room for the authors to sit down, LOL!

The audience listens to Paula explain how the afternoon will work – there was no room for the authors to sit down, LOL!

We were divided into panels of four to 'pitch' our books - L-R Tamsyn Murray, Cas Lester, Kate Maryon and Matt Ralphs

We were divided into panels of four to ‘pitch’ our books – L-R Tamsyn Murray, Cas Lester, Kate Maryon and Matt Ralphs

There were badges!

There were badges!

There was swag!

There was swag!

There was Kerry Drewery stealing the swag ;-)

There was Kerry Drewery stealing the swag ;-)

There were Fleur Hitchcock's teeny tiny shrunken copies of her book SHRUNK (CLEVER!!)

There were Fleur Hitchcock’s teeny tiny shrunken copies of her book SHRUNK (CLEVER!!)

John Dougherty put the rest of us to shame by SINGING his book Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face

John Dougherty put the rest of us to shame by SINGING his book Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face

I love this pic. This girl is going, ‘I could have been at HOME…’

I went as Electrigirl, natch! (photo by the fabulous Chelley Toy, who is SUCH a supporter of all things UKYA and UKMG)

I went as Electrigirl, natch! (photo by the fabulous Chelley Toy, who is SUCH a supporter of all things UKYA and UKMG)

Emma and Kerry revealed the venue for the next UKYA/UKMG events - Newcastle!

Emma and Kerry revealed the venue for the next UKYA/UKMG events – Newcastle!

I delivered thank you presents to the organisers and clearly said something VERY witty...

I delivered thank you presents to the organisers and clearly said something VERY witty… photo by Candy Gourlay

So fab to meet up with lovely author pal Linda Chapman

So fab to meet up with lovely author pal Linda Chapman

Group photo by Peter Bunzl

Group photo by Peter Bunzl

Another group photo! Taken on my camera by the fab L.D.Lapinski - so nice to meet you!

Another group photo! Taken on my camera by the fab L.D.Lapinski – so nice to meet you!

Thanks to all involved behind the scenes as well – esp Library staff and Waterstones seller. I came home with a bag bulging with books too – that’s everyone’s Christmas presents sorted, cheers!

Lockwood & Co. The Hollow Boy – review

16 Oct

lockwood 3I have spoken of my love for Lockwood & Co before. Let’s just now assume that I devour these books like Tunnocks teacakes, and that when I grow up I’d like to be able to write as well as Jonathan Stroud.

The Hollow Boy is the third in the series, and we pick up pretty much where we left off. Lockwood is still tall and brooding (though one of his secrets has been revealed, which Lucy finds very encouraging), Lucy is still impetuous and brilliant, and George still prefers biscuits and the library to anything involving real danger. Chelsea is in the grip of a Ghost Epidemic, and all the other agencies have been called in to help deal with it. Lockwood & Co has not – a really quite ridiculous snub, since they proved themselves more than capable in the last book, beating the Fittes agency to a ghostly victory. They try not to mind too much – after all, if everyone else is in Chelsea, that leaves the rest of London’s ghosts to deal with. They’re overworked and exhausted.

So the boys decide to bring in a secretary, to help deal with the administration (and the cleaning, to be honest). Holly is the result. Oh, how Lucy hates Holly – and thus, by default, so do I, being a staunch supporter of the main character. Holly bakes. Holly cleans. Holly is like Mary Poppins, not a hair out of place. (I’ll also just mention that Holly is black – which is relevant given the recent awareness of lack of black characters in chidren’s books, and given that all the other major players at Lockwood are white.)

The worst thing, of course, is that Lucy suspects that Anthony Lockwood likes Holly more than her. And that makes her even snippier towards Holly than she might otherwise be. (And, by default, me too, since I wish for nothing more than that Lucy and Lockwood should fall romantically into each other’s arms after some epic battle – which is precisely why Jonathan Stroud is much too clever to do something as easy as that.) Holly has more to her than meets the eye though – and as with all well-written fiction, the reader should beware of making assumptions based on other characters’ viewpoints.

In the meantime, Lucy has taken to carrying around the whispering skull in its jar, which now talks to her on a regular basis, being alternately insulting and helpful.

Gosh, these books are funny. They really are – I can’t possibly work out how it’s done, because basically they’re horror (and I don’t like horror) but they make me laugh out loud on a number of occasions. I’ve picked out two excerpts that made me chortle:

Lucy and the Skull have one of their nice chats...

Lucy and the Skull have one of their nice chats…

Description of Quill Kipps from the Fittes agency. I was on the bus when I read this bit and had to stifle the mirth

Description of Quill Kipps from the Fittes agency. I was on the bus when I read this bit and had to stifle the mirth

This is a really gripping story, as ever – and the ending is the sort of ending that must have been immensely satisfying to write because you KNOW your reader is going to go, ‘NOOOOO!!!’ and spend hours weeping into a tissue afterwards. Not that I did that. Obviously.

Lockwood & Co: The Hollow Boy is out now, published by Penguin Random House, and is totally brilliant. Apart from my ONE gripe. And it’s a gripe I had with Book 2 too. WHERE IS LUCY ON THE FRONT COVER? Come on, Random, sort it out. Lucy is the narrator, FFS. And she’s one of the best females in YA right now. By all means, put the brooding hero on the cover too, but you’re doing all the female ghost-hunting fans out there a MAJOR disservice by missing her off. NOT HAPPY.

Jonathan, on the other hand – you’re brilliant. More, please :-)

Notebook Doodles – review

16 Oct

I’ve never reviewed a colouring book before. You know, of course, that colouring books for adults are HUGE at the moment (well, not literally, they’re usually sensibly-sized…oh dear, it’s been a long day. I need to unwind with some colouring…) and of course there are billions of colouring books for small children. But what about the kids in between? What about the ones (particularly girls) who still love felt-tip pens and doodling at the age of ten?

978-1-4972-0014-2-2 (1) 978-1-4972-0015-9 (1) 978-1-4972-0016-6 (1)

Now there are some brand-new books out – and gosh, I really, really like them. And so does my 7-year-old daughter:


I said she could choose one colouring book to try out. She chose GO GIRL! – and I was secretly pleased that she’d chosen that one. Because the feminist in me hopes that she’s drawn to strong empowering words and not just flowers and fashion. Though then I had to eat my own hopes (can one do that?) when I flicked through the flowers and fashion books. Because on each double page spread there’s a doodle to be coloured, and some words of wisdom. And these words are FAB:




How amazing are those quotations? I’m MORE than happy for my daughter to read and absorb the messages contained here. The doodles themselves are lovely too:


In fact, these appeal to me more than the adult colouring books available at the moment (but maybe that’s because I’m still not quite grown up). They’re very good quality, and should keep any colouring enthusiast occupied for hours. The designs are by Jess Volinski and the publisher is Design Originals. To buy on Amazon (they’re £4.99 each), click on the jacket covers above. Highly recommended and would make great Christmas and birthday presents!

Jimmy’s War – review

15 Oct

JIMMYS-WAR-FINALThe author of Jimmy’s War, Lynne Benton,  had trouble getting this book published, so in the end she decided to publish it herself – and I’m so glad she did! Jimmy’s War is an engaging and exciting read, with a lovely central character and a great plot.

I have to confess that I did struggle with the first few chapters, though not for the reasons you might expect. Jimmy and his little sister Molly suffer a string of disasters early on, and I began to feel that the story was just too bleak for me. It’s no spoiler to say that Jimmy and Molly have to leave London as bombs rain down on the city during WW2. The reason they have to leave at a specific time though is really very sad indeed, and Jimmy has to carry a terrible secret for most of the book, to spare his little sister the knowledge.

They take refuge with a relative but that, too, goes wrong – and although I’m quite sure many such things did happen at the time, I began to be anxious that the whole book would depress me beyond belief. Happily, I was COMPLETELY wrong, and the second half of the book is a lot more uplifting as Jimmy and Molly make an unexpected friend, find hope and and a welcoming community, and even help foil an invasion.

LynneThe writing style is classic rather than modern, which perhaps explains why it didn’t find a traditional publishing home, but that should not put off any competent reader – and the story itself (despite its bleak start) has some truly thrilling moments and a great ending (I cheered). It’s also an excellent addition to the many stories for children about the world wars. You can find it on Amazon here – and Lynne’s website is here.

YA Shot guest blogger: Ian Johnstone

10 Oct

Today I’m delighted to part of the YA Shot blog tour, hosting the marvellous Ian Johnstone. The YA Shot is an inaugural event taking place in Uxbridge on Weds 28th October, and it brings together 71 (yes!! SEVENTY-ONE!) published authors who write books for children aged 8 to 18. Ian will be there talking about his books, and you can find out more about the YA Shot event (and how to book tickets) HERE. It’s supported by Hillingdon Libraries, and goodness knows libraries have it hard at the moment. I asked Ian a load of questions about stories, his books – and, of course, libraries!


Where did your love of stories come from?

Reading is such funHmm… I can’t remember not loving stories! I loved stories before I even read books. I still remember stories my mum and my uncle told me when I was tucked up in bed: stories about enchanted forests, strange cottages in forgotten clearings, ghostly women in white, ships lost at sea. But it was when I started to read that I went on my own story journeys – those first amazing adventures of the mind that seemed to exist only for me. I still remember the earliest of those as the most spine-tingling and wondrous of my life. I was mesmerized by Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series, and Roald Dahl’s many spellbinding stories, and later, by swashbuckling stories like The Hardy Boys, and fantastical stories like The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit. I think young people have the capacity to lose themselves absolutely and completely in a story, in a way that we find more difficult as we get older. It’s because of the wonder I felt at those early stories that I now choose to write for children.


What was your childhood experience of libraries?

I was lucky enough to have libraries to choose from. I had a little one at school, which was tiny but full to the brim with goodies. And then there was the mobile library – a lorry that came and parked in the school playground, so heaving-full of books that we could never work out how they all stayed on the shelves when it went round corners. And finally there was the Wallingford Town Library, which was light and airy and lovely, and was such a treasure trove of books that I never managed to make a serious dent in it. I do remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by that larger library at times. I think that’s the particular genius of a great librarian: to take a young story-adventurer by the hand, and lead them on an extraordinary journey through the shelves without ever losing sight of the needs and interests of the particular adventurer in their care.


How have stories helped you over the years?

Johnston014bwGreat question! Well, I suppose stories have helped me both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, stories take you places, broaden your mind and bring the world within your reach. I have learned an incalculable amount from the stories I have read, and more than that, they have inspired me to go out into the world and see it for myself. It’s because of the stories that I went and lived and taught in Africa, and travelled the world as a younger man, and sought out a career that took me to far-flung places. More directly, it was my love of stories that got me my degree in English Literature. When I went for my very intimidating interview for university, I suddenly (and quite despite myself) found that I was raving about The Lord of the Rings instead of talking sagely about poetry and Shakespeare. And to the great credit of the tutors interviewing me, they liked that. They saw that a love of stories and an ability to talk about them was what I would need to do the degree. Finally and most importantly, of course, it’s my love of stories that brought me to writing, which has been, and continues to be, a real joy to me.


Why should people read stories?

Well I suppose I could use many of my other answers! I think stories are a source of wonder, and joy, and adventure, and escape, and inspiration, and insight. I think they help us in our lives in ways we can never predict, and they make us more rounded, more passionate, and more engaged with our world. They connect us with other people – with all those others who have enjoyed the same story, who have lived in it for a while and shared its emotions, its highs and lows. And why we should read them, as opposed to watching them on TV or at the cinema? Well apart from the fact that reading allows immersion in a story for many hours on end, it also allows us to make the story distinctly ours. It creates that sizzling fusion of the author’s imagination and our own: a blend that will never be quite the same for anyone else. How exciting is that? And that’s the other reason why I decided to write.


Tell me about The Mirror Chronicles. What’s it about and how did you come up with the idea?

PB Cover FINALIn fact I had the underlying idea for the Mirror Chronicles when I was a boy, reading some of those first stories that so fired my imagination. I was at that age when you first start to doubt yourself and feel  horrendously self-conscious, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to come up with a magical story that explained all that? I wondered, what if the reason we have these doubts is that we’re not quite whole? What if each of us has a second part of ourselves living in another similar but different world, right now? What might they be like, and what might they tell us about ourselves? What world might they have created, and how might it relate to ours? That was where the basic idea came from, but when I sat down to write the story, aged 13, I found that I didn’t quite have the tools. It was only much later, as an adult, that I finally decided on the story for The Bell Between Worlds, and settled down to write.


Thank you so much, Ian! If you want to check out Ian’s books further, look at his mega-cool website ianjohnstone.com – and don’t forget to book your ticket for the YA Shot event – it’s going to be HUGE!!



Launching Lockwood and other busyness

5 Oct

I have four deadlines to hit in two weeks, so this will be short! But firstly, HOW NICE for me to have so much work on! Really, it’s great to have projects in different stages of ‘production’ and I’m enjoying them all (well, mostly – I mean, when they involve edits, I’m afraid there’s no hope of enjoyment where I’m concerned). I even had a lovely piece of news about a book acceptance last week but will stay schtum until contracts are signed!

On Tuesday last week I managed a dash up to London for the launch of Lockwood & Co: The Hollow Boy, the third in the stupendous series by Jonathan Stroud. I’ve raved about the first two books here and here, and I’m going to rave about this one too, once I find a way to write the review that doesn’t involve prostrating myself on the floor and wailing, ‘We are not worthy!’

Ahem. As I said, I went to London on Tuesday (though failed Basic Travel Rule #1 by leaving my purse at home) and had a really lovely time. Jonathan’s whole family was there (when I arrived, he was sporting hip accessory New Baby with extra Muslin Attachment) and he talked about the book and about how his kids tell much better ghost stories than he does.


Jonathan reading from his new book

There was a competition to locate the ghost - I came nowhere near. It was practically in a pub! (Very sensible)

There was a competition to locate the ghost – I came nowhere near. It was practically in a pub! (Very sensible)

Jonathan signing for starstruck author Savita Kalhan, with another author Sarwat Chadda, next in the queue

Jonathan signing for starstruck author Savita Kalhan, with another author Sarwat Chadda, next in the queue

It was lovely to meet up with other booky people there too – Jonathan’s (and my) editor Ruth Knowles, Cheltenham Lit Fest organiser Jane Churchill and Oxford Lit Fest organiser Andrea Reece. And good to meet Philip Daws, Reading Champion for Bury Schools, who reminded me that I had been due to visit Bury at some point but for some long-forgotten reason, it didn’t happen. Hopefully next year I can remedy that!

It was also lovely to meet Luna from the brilliant blog Luna’s Little Library – Luna was sporting some beautiful blue hair!

I had serious hair envy

I had serious hair envy

But now I must get back to work! Thanks to Jonathan for inviting me to his fab launch!

Not starstruck in the least. Honest. Well, maybe a bit.

Not starstruck in the least. Honest. Well, maybe a bit.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 902 other followers