I just found out that The Crimson Shard, the second novel in the Blackhope Enigma trilogy (published in the US by Candlewick Press), has been nominated for the 2013 Teen Choice Book of the Year in the USA! Needless to say, I am totally thrilled to be on the nominations list with so many fantastic authors. The great thing about this award is that YOU can vote! And not just that, you can vote for your five favourite books of 2012 to be finalists (from the nominations or you can choose a book that isn’t on the list). Then you’ll be able to vote for your favourite of the finalists. Sounds good, yes?
You’ve got until February 13, 2013 to vote on the teenreads.com website. I hope you’ll vote soon!
Two weeks in and 2013 is looking pretty eclectic. Just the way I like it.
There hasn’t been any time for hibernating. I’ve just finished inking the interior illustrations for The Shadow Lantern and, any day now, the typeset script will come back to me for proofreading. By the end of this month, the book will be ready for reproduction and I will begin looking forward to the first of May, its publication date.
I’m also juggling a couple of other projects right now: a downright fun illustration commission that I hope to reveal later this spring and my two new websites. Yes, two. One will be about the writing side of things and the other will be about my art and illustration. Stay tuned for the launch date!
Throughout this year I’ll be presenting at various book festivals as well as leading some exciting writing and illustration workshops for young people and for adults. As each event is announced I’ll post information here and on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
This looks to be a year of rich variety, change and experimentation. One of my favourite bands, I Am Kloot, is bringing out a new album soon and their song, These Days Are Mine, sums up the surge of optimism I’m feeling right now. Consider it my January anthem. (And you can have a free listen to the whole album here.)
Last week children’s author and friend Lynne Rickards kindly ‘tagged’ me in her blog post called ‘The Next Big Thing’. I was one of five authors she mentioned – just as she had been mentioned along with four other writers in author Lari Don‘s blog the week before. Each tagged author answers some set questions about his or her current project and tags five more authors whose work s/he admires. This ‘meme’ has grown and grown in the children’s book online world and this week it’s my turn to answer the questions and mention some wonderful writers!
What is the working title of your next book? The Shadow Lantern
Where did the idea come from for the book? This is the third book in my Blackhope Enigma trilogy and I knew I wanted to set it in Scotland at Halloween. From there all the elements fell into place: new characters, spooky influences and the arrival of a strange sixteenth-century invention that draws in my main characters, Sunni and Blaise.
What genre does your book fall under? It’s fantasy/mystery for age 9+.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? We’d need some talented teenagers (several Scots and one American) as well as Javier Bardem, David Tennant and a few other character actors for adult parts.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? The arrival of a special magic lantern at Blackhope Tower pulls Sunni and Blaise back to the infamous castle and into new danger.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m represented by the lovely Fraser Ross Associates.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Approximately eight weeks.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My books have occasionally been compared with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Cornelia Funke’s books.
The Shadow Lantern will be published by Templar Books on May 1, 2013.
And now, on to the author tags in alphabetical order!
I’ve known author, poet and teacher Magi Gibson for a number of years and have been delighted to follow the success of her Seriously Sassy book series for young people. Maggi is currently busy with some very interesting projects that I hope she’ll describe in her blog post.
I met the engaging debut author Jane McLoughlin during the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August and am really pleased that her book, At Yellow Lake, has just been long-listed for the 2013 CILIP Carnegie Medal. This is a fantastic achievement!
Daniela Sacerdoti has already met with success as a writer of books for older readers but her new book, Really Weird Removals. com, will appeal to a younger audience. I had the pleasure of attending Dani’s book launch for Really Weird Removals last month and and was impressed with her passion and excitement about her work. If you click on the link, you can read about her next book, as she has already participated in The Next Big Thing – but I decided I’d like to tag her anyway!
It was great to meet Elizabeth Wein at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August. I had already heard about her latest novel, Code Name Verity, which has been storming onto lists of 2012′s best young adult books as well as being nominated for numerous awards including the Scottish Children’s Book Awards and the 2013 CILIP Carnegie medal long-list.
Deborah White‘s first book, Wickedness, was an intriguing and atmospheric fantasy revolving around ancient Egyptian spells, an emerald casket and a powerful prophesy connecting two red-haired young women in different centuries. I’m hoping Deborah will talk about the next book in her series, Deceit!
I now hand over the reins to Maggi, Jane, Elizabeth and Deborah, who will answer questions about their Next Big Things on their blogs next week. Many thanks to all of them.
I haven’t quite caught up with the fact that I am now in Finland.
I learned just over two weeks ago that I had been selected for a Helsinki International Arts Programme residency and it felt slightly unreal. The Scottish Book Trust, who are administering the two new residencies for Scotland-based children’s writers, pulled out all the stops and rapidly got everything set up for my arrival. I packed my gear and said goodbye to the daffodils, knowing I was unlikely to see any in Helsinki yet.
Just before dusk last night, I flew in over tall birch forests and snow fields. There was something mysterious about the landscape. It definitely seemed like a place where trolls might roam. I made my way to the city centre, with its wide avenues and majestic buildings, and waited for the ferry to my temporary island home, Suomenlinna. The small boat ploughed through ice sheets in the harbour as the darkness set in. I tried to put all thoughts of the Titanic aside…
Helsinki is gradually coming out of winter and the ice is changing every day, I was told. Earlier this week there was none in the harbour but it returned in time for my arrival. I feel lucky to be able to watch spring tiptoe in here.
One of my friendly hostesses greeted me at the Suomenlinna dock and we crunched over icy paths, under old arches and past huge rough-hewn walls, sometimes encountering the fragrance of wood smoke when we turned a corner.
I was shown to my toasty-warm quarters in a two-hundred year old brick building with huge wooden doors. This is the place where I’ll be working on my next book and keeping a log of all my discoveries in Finland. I’ll be learning about the local literature scene from writers and publishers, visiting bookshops and museums and getting immersed in Finnish culture. And what about the language, you might ask? I’ll try to learn as much as I can while I’m here. I’ve got a few phrases down already, and though everyone I have met so far has spoken good English, I think it’s not only polite but also important to “taste” the host language wherever I go. And the number one word is, of course, kiitos – thank you!
…and the launch of THE CRIMSON SHARD!
Next weekend’s Artists Open Studios event coincides with the publication of my second illustrated historical fantasy novel for age 9+, The Crimson Shard, published by Templar Books. I’ll be opening my studio and displaying original paintings, drawings and limited edition prints, but I’ll also be taking time out to read from The Crimson Shard in the Gallery area of our building. These will be short tasters and will take place at 1pm and 3pm. Both The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard will be on sale and I’ll be signing them, of course! If you can’t make it to the Studios this weekend, but would like to read a sampler or buy either book, click here.
Click here for information on how to find the building.
I’m celebrating my Facebook page achieving 100 followers AND Blackhope‘s publication in the USA by launching a little competition.
You can win a signed paperback copy of both The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard (which will be published on 1 October in the UK), plus a hand-cut raven silhouette (made by me) and a leather-bound notebook with an original sketch on the first page (also by me). The deadline is 5 September at midnight UK time (that’s 7pm US time).
It’s easy to enter. Go to my Contact page, type in your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win) and answer this question in the message box below:
What bird is on The Blackhope Enigma cover?
If you are under 16, please fill out the Children’s Contact form here.
I won’t keep any of your information after the competition ends. If you are the winner, I’ll email you to ask for your mailing address and who you’d like the books to be dedicated to.
Looking forward to getting your entries! And if you’d like to follow me on Facebook, click here.
It has been a mighty long absence.
I have some pretty good excuses for not posting in some time. A trip to Boston took me out of circulation for a while – I had great hopes of communicating with the blogosphere while I was there, but there was just too much going on. Here are a couple of highlights from the visit:
-a fantastic day of speaking to and drawing with children at Center School in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, a beautiful community by the sea. Great kids, great teachers, great experience! Thanks to everyone there.
-poking around independent bookshops like The Children’s Bookshop in Brookline and Porter Square Books in Cambridge. It was interesting and gratifying to see the breadth of children’s fiction available, especially books from the UK. If you are interested in learning more about independent bookstores in the USA, check out Indie Bound, their website. There are some excellent items there, especially their recommendations for reading groups.
Since I got back, it’s been go, go, go. There’s a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon that I will be sharing with you soon!
Your chance to participate in a picture book workshop with the award-winning American author of over 300 books.
The Scottish branch of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has let me know that Jane Yolen will be leading an all-day workshop about children’s picture books on Sunday, October 4, from 9am to 5pm at the Braid Hills Hotel in Edinburgh.
This is a rare opportunity to connect with an author who has written everything from babies’ board books to graphic novels. The cost seems very reasonable at £25 for the day, including lunch and tea/coffee. Spaces will be limited, of course, so sign up soon to avoid disappointment.
Jane is also offering (to 8 delegates only) the opportunity to have your picture book manuscript critiqued for an additional cost of £12.50.
To get a full run down on the workshop schedule and to sign up, email email@example.com
To learn more about what the SCBWI does in Scotland, check their site here.
I wonder whether most people regard Philip Pullman as an author and illustrator, picking up on the fact that he made the striking black and white images throughout the His Dark Materials trilogy.
If you visit Philip’s newly expanded website, you will be in no doubt of his illustrative talents. He has created a gallery page showing his illustrations from all three volumes and the book jackets used in many foreign editions, from the Faro islands to Indonesia to Galicia.
I found this section interesting because (in some cases more than others) it shows how other countries’ publishers choose to represent the stories. I am intrigued with the Dutch jackets for His Dark Materials, though I am not sure how much they would entice a child to pick them up. They have used three paintings by the Greek-Italian Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico.
I identified two of the jackets as The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street and Torino Printaniere. I guess the publisher decided to show us the arrid, haunted Italianate cityscape of the books’ parallel universe, Cittagazze, rather than main character Lyra and the huge polar bear, Iorek, who seem to be on many of the other jackets.
The most frightening jacket has to be the Slovakian cover of The Subtle Knife – if that deranged pair of eyes doesn’t keep you awake at night, I don’t know what will!