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Showing posts from 2012

Season's Greetings

New Book Revealed!

Here it is at last, the cover of my new book.
I'm afraid you'll have to wait until 9th May 2013 to buy a copy (unless you pre-order) but there will be ARCs available in the New Year from Headline Publishing for eager journos and book bloggers.

Pygmy Shrews and Sore Ribs

Morning! No wait, it's afternoon. Sorry. This post is much later than I intended. I only woke up three hours ago! Here's why...

Yesterday I took the train up to London to have some fun at the Natural History Museum (and do book research, honest!). If you've never been, you must. It's awesome! Here's what I saw...
Very, very big things like dinosaurs, blue whales and these antlers which were the size of a large delivery van!
Very, very small things like blood cells, diamonds, these beetles and a Pygmy Shrew the size of my thumb!
Very, very funny things like this startled Chameleon and freaky Long-Spined Porcupine Fish!
It was SO COOL I didn't want to leave and, at closing time, they had to drag me out. Luckily, there was stuff happening outside too, like ice-skating, Christmas lights, fairground rides and high winds blowing people over (!). And I saw these -  a carved stone pterodactyl and a carousel horse.

If that wasn't excitement enough, I then hopped on …

Manuscripts, murals and more deadlines

You may recall a blog I posted earlier this year in which I listed all the projects I was working on over the summer. It was a long and scary list and it's length and scariness finally prompted me to resign from my art department job so I could focus full-time on freelance writing and illustrating. Most of my deadlines seemed to be in October and November, so I began to plan some much needed time off. Huh! My mistake!
Last week I delivered a manuscript to Barrington Stoke and the illustrations for my next novel, 'Everything is Fine - and Other Lies I Tell Myself' (here's a preview), then I breathed a sign of relief... for about 2 minutes! Because, instead of booking an autumn holiday as planned, I'd already said yes to another three projects! Eek!
So, this week I'm finishing sketches for a mural in a local school, designing characters for two new books for a French publisher, working on cover ideas for my book for Barrington Stoke AND writing proposals for my ne…


Even Mr Pumpkinhead needs his 5-a-day, right? Happy Halloween everyone!


I've just finished my last day working in the Art Department. It's been a great final week. Busy and varied, as usual. I made sure that the materials cupboards and paper store were fully restocked and the that the accounts and paperwork were in 'hand-over' order, so towards the end of the week I had the time and opportunity to do some creative stuff - printing trials.
Later in the term the pupils will be exploring dry-point etching on Perspex. Early experiments weren't getting the desired results so I decided to have a go.
It's an effective printing technique and a lot less fuss than metal plate acid etching. With this type of printing an image is scored into the surface of a piece of Perspex (acrylic sheet) with a hard needle point. Ink is then smoothed or rolled on to the surface and the excess rubbed away. A piece of specialist printing paper is soaked in water (to loosen the fibres) then dried off between blotting paper. Then you are ready to print.
I spent…

180 Liars and Lapsang Souchong in Bath

Yesterday, I traveled here...

 ... for the Bath Kids Lit Festival.

First stop was Hayesfield School where I talked to 180 Year 7 girls about my favourite subjects, story-telling and drawing. I went well over my allotted hour (with permission), stretching the creative writing workshop until the very end of the school day, with some startling results. It turns out that Hayesfield girls are excellent liars! In a good way, obvs! We had stories about giraffes, vampires, helicopters, cannibals and Justin Beiber. There was some real writing talent too. Very impressive. As was their black and purple-trimmed uniform, which is probably the coolest I've EVER seen. Wish I'd had a uniform as chic as that when I was at school!

Thank you to Jennifer from the Festival and to everyone at Hayesfield, especially Gill, for a brilliant event and for making me so welcome. I enjoyed it enormously and could have stayed all afternoon!

That is, unless Sam Eades from Headline hadn't dragged me away …

Work in Progress #2

Work in Progress

I'm painting and drawing like crazy at the moment, creating the illustrations for my new novel. As always, there will be loads of pictures. It's bliss being able to draw all day instead of typing. Although it's great to write, I really love making the images. It's my favourite bit. A lot of the story takes place on a beach so I'm drawing surfboards and wetsuits and cool teenagers having fun . . . as well as coping with some serious traumas. It's a real tear-jerker, doesn't yet have a title (maybe this week) and will be hitting the shelves in May 2013! Here's a sneak peek for those who can't wait that long.
BREAKING NEWS: The title has been confirmed! It's 'Everything is Fine - and other lies I tell myself'. The character above is the heroine, Esther. She's clearly NOT fine. In fact, she's about as far from 'fine' as it's possible to be. Poor Esther.

More Festivals

Hello. Have you had a great summer? There was so much cool stuff to enjoy this year wasn't there? Jubilee, Olympics, book festivals. Soon enough you'll be thinking about going back to school. I already have.
Well, here's something else to really look forward to in the autumn - the Bath Festival of Children's Literature which runs from 28th September until 7th October. There are loads of awesome events for kids of all ages, and it's especially exciting if you are a teenager because this year there's a whole new teen programme called KLF. (Here's the brochure. Can you tell who designed the logo and did the illustrations?!)
Check out the website for Darren Shan, Moira Young, Sophie McKenzie, J D Sharpe, Julia Donaldson, Cathy Cassidy, Horrible Histories with Martin Brown, Dr Who, Dinosaurs and . . . me!

Awesome London!

I can't tell you how proud I am of my hometown, London, right now. I'm walking with a extra spring in my step, my back a little straighter and chin a little higher. The Cycling Road Race came through my village this morning and it was quite a thrill to watch the bikes, cars and helicopters pass my window and my TV screen simultaneously. My sister has been texting me from the Olympic Park all day (she's there with my nieces) and her messages about the swimming, the big screen and over-priced fish and chips have been stuffed full of exclamation marks!!! And what about that Opening Ceremony? A mash-up of ALL my fave music plus Mary Poppins, Voldemort, Her Maj and live sheep! Perfect crazy London awesomeness!

Synchronised Summer

It's the end of term next week. Only five more days of school then the holiday begins and this year I'm feeling an extra buzz of excitement as I count down the days. Why? Well, because the story in my current work-in-progress takes place during the summer holidays. This synchronicity has never happened before. I've written about Halloween at Easter (Scarlett Dedd) and a chilly London Spring while roasting in August heat (Verity Fibbs). Now, in book four, I'm exploring the summertime dramas of a teenage surf girl and her family and planning to visit the real location, a beach resort on the south coast. It'll be fun to recreate some of the scenes in the book but I hope I don't experience ALL of the traumas I'll been putting my character through!

New Glasses and Hey Hay!

I got new glasses this week. They're great, but there is one down side. I've got to change all my profile pics on all my different blogs and sites. All seven of them! I'm off to the Hay Festival this weekend so I don't want people to come to my events and say 'you don't look anything like your profile pic' with a really disappointed expression on their face. Having an accurate profile pic can be terribly useful in schools too. Sometimes 'I've got orange hair' just isn't enough info for a school librarian and pupils are somehow reassured when they see my actual face just about matches the multiple images plastered up around the school in anticipation of my arrival. If you are coming to Hay then look out for me. FYI, I have orange hair and glasses like this... Oh, and a very bright pink cardigan!

Say 'Yes, please' to Everything

You know that old cliché about there never being a bus when you need one, then three come along at once? Well, it's often like that when you're a freelance writer/illustrator.

I was given a couple of great bits of advice when I was at college. One was that artists tend to spend more time pitching for work and advertising themselves than actually being artists. I soon learned that this was true and luckily (having been warned) I'd prepared myself for all the cold-calling, art editor shmoozing and endless fee negotiations.
The other was that freelancers are very lucky if they get a steady stream of work arriving at manageable intervals throughout the year (even with an agent), allowing them to pay bills each month, buy food and perhaps even keep a car on the road, like a normal person. I was warned that I might have to last for several months without any work (living on baked beans and pound coins picked out of the fluff behind the sofa) and that, when they did come along, …

Part Two

Oh dear. I think I may have opened a can of worms... and not just for breakfast (see right). I did two days of creative writing workshops with Year7 at The Howard of Effingham School and the result was some seriously ingenious lying. I know, I know, it's my fault for introducing them to Verity Fibbs, truth-twister extraordinaire, but they did seem to have a natural inclination for telling massive whoppers when asked what they had for breakfast, how they travelled to school and what they saw on the way. Here are a few of my favourites.

Porky Pies

Year7 at The Howard of Effingham School are outrageous liars!  Potential there, I think, for a life of crime... or writing fiction, of course. Here are some of my fave fibs from today's workshops.

Back tomorrow for round 2...

Day off school... to visit another school

I've been at Oakwood School, Horley all day which was brilliant... if a little exhausting. I met loads of talented pupils and friendly members of staff, bored them to tears with the story of my life, then we all had fun telling whopping great lies. And what outrageous lies they were! Those guys could lie Verity Fibbs off the planet. And that is pretty near impossible.
Thank you everyone for making me feel so welcome. I had a blast. Honest.


Mmmm... I think it's time to take a break from drawing characters...
and have a cup of tea and a bickie.

Back to School...

Today is the last day of my Easter hols (Groan) so I'm doing a final splurge of writing and drawing before I go back to school. I've been working on so many different projects that it's been almost impossible to decide which to focus on. This morning I drew this character here, on the left, (she doesn't actually have a name yet. Any ideas?) who is having a really terrible time during the summer holidays. I'm kind of hoping I'll get to write the rest of her story when school breaks up in July (Yay!). Then I can sort her life out and give her a happy ending before we both have to go back to school in September (Groan).


Scarlett Dedd has revamped her blog, Scardeparted. Check it out...

Scarlett is off to America

Woohoo! I can't wait for the summer.
There are so many amazing
things to look forward to -
JubileeStreetParties, LondonOlympics,
birthdays and book festivals.
But more exciting than any of that
is Scarlett Dedd's publication in the US.

Hello America!
*waves madly at US readers*

Here's the cover. What do you think?
Great isn't it? :)

I hear Scarlett and her ghost mates are planning a bit of state-side haunting. Pop over to her blog for details...


I'm off to Wales next weekend for a day of workshops at Bangor University. If you're visiting my blog because you're attending SCRIBBLERS on Monday and thought you'd check me out, then Hello, I'm really looking forward to seeing you!

'Truth' Detector Test

I visited the Warwick School in Redhill today where I did two workshops with Yr8 and Yr9. Well, that's not strictly true. I completed the workshop with the Yr8 group but was interrupted by a fire alarm just as I was about to introduce the writing task to the Yr9s. That's now happened to me THREE times in different schools! Just as it's getting interesting, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring! I'm sure they don't do it on purpose but it completely mucks up the session, as you can imagine. All the poor Yr9s got was me talking about myself (boring) and no chance to be creative.
Still, I hung about in the library through the lunch break and was joined by a third group of eager book-lovers, so that made up for the aborted workshop. In fact, the lunchtime group were brilliant, very funny, and there are probably a couple of people who will end up as characters in my next book!!
The 'Truth' Detector Test workshop was great. Students were set the task of writing (and drawing) the…

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day everyone! I've been at my favourite local school doing a talk, signing books and (best of all) doing an impression of the Queen! Let me explain. The pupils (and teachers) at the the Priory School had painted a wall of tiles, each one with an image from their fave book, and I was invited to say a few words and pull off a sheet! I name this wall 'Reading Rocks', or words to that effect! Then we had our pics taken, drank tea and ate 'book cake' - which had a sugar bookworm crawling through it and was made by a pupil. Awesome! Here's the beautiful gift I was presented with for my attempt at a Queen impression. Thank you. It matches the decor of my studio perfectly.


I just got home from my favourite kind of day - chatting to readers... in a library... with lots of cake! What could be better?! I did lots of sketching too, which I always enjoy. Mostly because I get to talk to my 'victims' while I'm drawing and can ask them lots of questions about anything and everything. It's great research for my books. You can see some of my sketches above. Thank you to the Ashcombe Posse and everyone who posed and didn't complain about me taking absolutely ages because I was chatting and not concentrating!

I didn't have to travel far today because the event was at my local library in Dorking (see previous post) because it's National Libraries Day and because it has moved to a new location in the centre of the town. There were loads of people there, despite the finger-numbing icy weather (Brrrrrrrr!), checking out the cool new kids section, which has brilliant cave-like round seats set into the walls and a huge purple armchair (which I …

National Libraries Day

This Saturday, 4th Feb, is National Libraries Day. There will probably be all sorts of cool stuff happening at your local library so head on over and have a look. If you happen to be anywhere near Dorking in Surrey you can come to my event at the lovely new relocated library. It's right in the centre of the town which is brilliant. We'll be having tea and cakes and lots of book chat from 2pm in the children's and teen area so brave the snow and join us!

Psychic Powers and Rocket boots

I spent this morning at Boxhill School, *waves at students* , doing a character development workshop. Here are some of the brilliant results. I was extremely impressed with the writing talent too. I expect we'll see several student's names on the book shelves in the future (and perhaps getting Oscar nominations, Harry!). Thank you to everyone for making me so welcome. :)