Summer Highlights: Orcas

And now for the most beautiful and terrifying highlight of my summer: watching orcas at close quarters in the Straits of Gibraltar. When the bluefin tuna run from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea, the orcas are waiting like hitmen to pick them off for dinner. We took an astonishing three hour boat trip with a Swiss marine charity and watched as the orcas battled fishermen in small boats over the tuna caught on their lines. A couple of […]

September 22nd, 2017|

Summer Highlights: Return to Tallinn, Estonia

In spring 2012, I took a ferry trip from Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland for a day trip to Tallinn. I fell in love with the Old Town’s medieval architecture, folklore and friendly people. One of the highlights of my day was a visit to the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre and I blogged in detail about it here. I didn’t think it would take five years to return but I finally returned for a couple of […]

September 22nd, 2017|

Summer Highlights: My Candlewick Press Presents podcast

Earlier this year I was invited to do a Top Secret project with my wonderful U.S. publisher, Candlewick Press, which published the American edition of my Blackhope Enigma trilogy. (By the way, happy 25th birthday, Candlewick!) They were producing a series of podcasts with their authors and I was lucky enough to be one of them. I was also sworn to secrecy! I sneaked into Candlewick H.Q. in Somerville, Massachusetts last April and with the help […]

September 22nd, 2017|

Summer Highlights: Leeds West Indian Carnival 50th Anniversary Project

As summer highlights go, this one is right up there. In the spring I had the honour of being asked to create an illustrated map for the Leeds West Indian Carnival‘s 50th anniversary as part of a Heritage Lottery Grant project. Every late August bank holiday, the Carnival brings colour, music and joy for all communities in Leeds and the North of England – and it has been doing this since a few West Indian students brought it […]

September 22nd, 2017|

Summer Highlights: Spring Fling in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

I know it’s September and we’re almost at the Autumn Equinox, but technically it is still summer. I’m holding onto that thought until 21:02 this Friday, the 22nd, when I finally have to let go of summer. It’s been a rich summer season, busy with work, school and holiday time. I’ve chosen few highlights to reflect on over the last few days until autumn sets in.

This first highlight is probably a bit cheeky because I’m looking back into late May. But, […]

September 17th, 2017|

Holiday Greetings!

I’m giving thanks for the many wonderful days this past year – and reflecting on the ones that weren’t so good. Despite enjoying the fond memories of good times, I always find I learn more from the difficult days, even if it takes a bit of time to come around to realisations. This has not been a hugely productive year for completed manuscripts … but it has been useful for taking stock, learning new visual art skills, working with wonderful colleagues […]

December 22nd, 2016|

50 Word Spooky Story Winners!

I had an inspiring visit with Year 7 at St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate last month and I set them a little challenge to write a 50 word story about a nearby spooky place. The prize for the top five entries was one of my Blackhope Enigma notebooks.

The students certainly rose to my challenge and delivered some evocative stories. I think we have some budding writers! Here are the top 5 entries, in no particular order, as […]

February 13th, 2016|

Gallery of Pupil Art!

Earlier this autumn I had the pleasure of visiting Belmont Grosvenor School in Harrogate and working with the pupils on creating stories and illustrations. Here’s a lovely article about the day. We had loads of fun making up crazy tales prompted by character and setting cards I brought along. Sometimes the best stories are created from random elements chosen by chance. I set a little competition for the pupils to illustrate a scene from their stories and I was recently sent […]

December 12th, 2015|

Inspiration Monday: Taking a Breath

I haven’t been near this blog since last month because life has been incredibly busy (in a good way). The last time I checked in with great news about JET BLACK HEART, I was at the start of a jam-packed schedule of teaching, school visits, events and workshops. The studio started to resemble a dumping ground. I worked around piles of paper and books, sketches and snippets of material going into my current manuscript.

Today I did a ritual tidy-up of […]

October 26th, 2015|

Jet Black Heart News!


This is a pretty cool surprise: JET BLACK HEART has been shortlisted for the 2016 Coventry Inspiration Book Award in the 11-16 ‘Rapid Reads’ category. It’s in a splendid list of eight books by great authors. That list will go through elimination rounds and be whittled down to three finalists.

NEWS FLASH: On top of that news, I’ve learned that Book Trust has chosen JET BLACK HEART to be […]

September 5th, 2015|

Illustration Wednesday – The A-Z of Children’s Books with Fig Taylor

I don’t know whether the last week of August affects you the way it does me. I get excited in anticipation of the annual September buzz, the kind of buzz I should really be feeling on New Year’s Day but often don’t. That’s because years of schooling conditioned me to feel like September is the real new year.

This is the week I start looking at autumn jackets and new pens and most importantly, I think about my creative goals for […]

August 26th, 2015|

Inspiration Monday – East Street Arts Open Studios 2015

Participating in an Open Studios event can be a bit nerve-wracking. You clean all the paint-covered coffee cups, sweep up bits of paper stuck in the floor boards and generally make the place presentable without sanitising it too much. Then you think about what you’d like to tell people about your work and hope you don’t talk too much (or too little).

When the first visitors arrive, a little thrill runs through the building. You stand up a little straighter and […]

July 13th, 2015|

Inspiration Monday! A Great Day Out.

teresa-flavin-big-posterThis fantastic poster greeted me when I arrived at Allerton High School yesterday. The excellent team of students who organised my day of speaking and bookmaking with visiting primary pupils also made a variety of wonderful posters, flip charts, bookmarks and certificates. They were all charming, friendly and creative – a credit to their school!

Big thanks to everyone at all the schools involved and to the Ilkley Literature Festival which sponsored the […]

June 30th, 2015|

Inspiration Monday: Exploring Huddersfield!

I was delighted to be invited to speak to Year 6 at South Crosland CE Junior School recently, especially because Huddersfield Literature Festival awarded my visit as a prize for a schools writing competition. I discovered that the pupils are also keen illustrators when I set them a quick drawing activity and they all came up with a great array of characters. I always get a real buzz from seeing what young people can invent within a short period of […]

June 1st, 2015|

Announcing a New Partnership with Book Events for Schools!

I am very excited to announce that I am working with the excellent Book Events for Schools on my Yorkshire-based school and library visits. You may already be familiar with the comprehensive events listing, interview and review site offered by its sister organisation, Book Events for Children.

Book Events for Schools was created to offer author services to schools and already represents Emma Barnes, Kate Pankhurst, Andy Seed, Jason Beresford, Andy Seed, CJ Busby, Anneliese Emmans Dean […]

March 17th, 2015|