Last night I was twitterviewed by Emlyn Chand and her followers. It was really interesting – and a challenge to fit my replies into tweets. You can read the full twitterview on Emlyn’s blog.
January 21, 2011
January 14, 2011
January 6, 2011
The wonderful, talented Sara Wallcraft has designed special friezes for my Ghost of a Chance webpage, one of the Chance house, one of some beautiful peacocks. Do make sure to check it out.
You can also find a sample chapter of the book. Hopefully once you’ve read it, you’ll be inspired to rush out and immediately buy a copy.
But for one lucky person there could be a free copy heading your way. To celebrate, I’m announcing a competition to win a signed copy of the book. For your chance to win, comment on my blog with your answer to the question “What’s the best way to solve a murder?” Winners will be announced tomorrow at 9am GMT, to give everyone time to take part. (Make sure to comment on the blog itself, not on the Facebook syndicated version.) If you’ve already ordered a copy, why not have a go anyway and win a copy for a friend or family member?
Happy Ghost of a Chance day to me and to all of you!
Edited to add: Ghost of a Chance is already Book of the Week at new crime blog Crime Central!
Competition entrants, please make sure to check back tomorrow to see if you’re the winner because I will need to get your street address from you to send you your prize!
January 3, 2011
May 12, 2010
I have some exciting news for Hex fans. Ever since the trilogy was first published I’ve had letters from fans asking me if there could be a film of the books – there’s at least one thread on the forums about it. Last week I agreed the first stage of a film option for the Hex trilogy.
The film company developing the property is called Sweet Revenge and they are based in Hollywood. On the eve of the Clarke award ceremony I had a conversation with producer Isadora Martin-Dye who has loved the books since they first came out and is really enthusiastic about the project. This is great news for the fans because it means that the creative vision doesn’t involve making significant changes to the work. If Raven hits the screen she’ll be her own cantankerous self.
I say if because there’s a long way to go with this project. It’s in the earliest of early stages and there’s a lot of work to be done. Luckily for me, I’ve already done my bit – now it’s up to Isadora and the rest of her team to put in place the things one needs to make a major feature film. They will be keeping me informed and involved though so I’ll report more as I hear more news.
I expect fans will have a lot of questions and I’ll try and anticipate some of them here since some were things I wanted to know myself:
Q: Will there be one film or three (one for each book)?
A: The option will be for the whole trilogy. Right now we’re planning for one film but which would take elements from the world of all three books.
Q: Is this going to be a small or large production?
A: The plan is for a big budget film.
Q: Will Rhiannon be writing the script?
A: It’s usual for companies to bring in their own script writers. I’ll be in contact with those writers once they’ve been chosen.
Q: Who will play Raven?
A: It’s much too early to answer that but I know it’s the question everyone will want to ask. I’ll let you know more as soon as I can.
Meanwhile, if you’re a Hex fan, there’s something you could do to help bring this film into reality. Since Hex wasn’t an illustrated or graphical novel there isn’t any concept art. If you’ve created Hex fan art please post it on the fanart forum so that Sweet Revenge have an idea of how fans see the Hex series. Lots of people posted art back in the day but because they used photobucket many of those links have expired – please do repost your old art or any new art you’ve done. Your artwork and imagery will help establish a vision for the film so do please get involved.
And if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
April 4, 2010
I’ve uploaded two Bologna videos to my You Tube account, one still to come.
So far I’ve uploaded some video of the illustrators wall and a video of the launch party for the Great Big Book of Families, written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Ros Asquith and published by Frances Lincoln.
March 28, 2010
Last week I was in Italy for the Bologna book fair. This is the biggest trade fair for the childrens books industry and a great opportunity for me to meet my overseas publishers.
I went with my mother, Mary Hoffman, who was wearing two hats for the fair (no, not literally). She was visiting her publishers as an author but also writing about the fair for Carousel magazine. She’s written about the fair on her Book Maven blog.
As you can see from the photo to the left, this was not a sunny Italian holiday. Sometimes it rains, sometimes the sun shines, it’s even been known to snow. This was warm but grey weather. But inside the fair was as colourful as ever. I’ll try and give you a flavour of that in words and pictures…
The most colourful part of all is the illustrator’s wall. Last year this was a cube in the entrance area but this time it hall spilled out along one wall of the central atrium area. This is where aspiring illustrators come to post their wares. It carries posters, flyers, brochures and business cards, overlapping and spilling out form the wall itself on to the floor. I took a video when it was still in creation. By the end of the fair there wasn’t a spare bit of wall to be seen. (I was hoping to be able to embed the video into this post but YouTube is still processing it as I write this, so I’ll add the link later.)
You don’t get a lot of authors at Bologna, only a scattering from across the world. But there are illustrators aplenty from local universities and art schools and some do travel from other countries to show their wares at the fair. It’s tough for them to get noticed on the wall or get appointments at the stand and this is a rough market for all unpublished creative people. I asked some publishers if they look at unsolicited art and the consensus seems to be (as with writing right now) that if your stuff is amazing, it will get noticed, but it does need to be amazing to sell.
Not a lot of art directors visit Bologna either. You’re much more likely to find people from rights, sales, and marketing. Publishing directors, art directors and MDs do visit but not necessarily and it’s difficult to get appointments with these worthies. If you’re an illustrator, Bologna is a wonderful place to see the market and get to know the styles used by different publishing houses but it’s not the best place to try and sell your work.
The exhibition centre has many halls, and the book fair uses four of these in addition to the central atrium. This means four halls of publishers’ stands, clustered roughly in country groupings. Some stands are three walls with bookshelves, others are huge fortresses with crenellations, shields and tabards. See some of them on my Flickr events page.
There’s an obvious hierarchy. Big rich publishing houses have big colourful stands. Small houses have hopeful little stands. Of course it’s possible to spend a lot badly or a little well. I’ve seen giant boxes with no display space at all and tiny cubicles full of cunningly worked displays. As with the illustrators’ wall the publishers are here to sell themselves and some do with with real panache. Selling and buying is the order of the day and big deals are being done. The most talked about book at the fair this year was The Emerald Atlas, a junior title which has already sold to the USA, Germany, Italy, Holland and Norway. Rumours abounded that each deal was for a million euros plus.
Meanwhile the other 95% of the fair was getting on with the daily business of more earthbound deals. It’s a privilege for me to be able to meet overseas publishers in person and talk about the market in their country.
The good news for me is that Bad Blood is still selling well abroad. German sales of the hardback alone are very encouraging and the book is paperbacked this year. I met my German editor, Antje Keil of Fischer Verlage, for the second time and sat in a brief splash of sunshine to talk about the book. It’s reassuring to know that such an English book with a Lake District setting, can be popular with German readers. I do feel though that I should try to write some more international settings. That won’t be true of my next book though: Ghost of a Chance is set in an English stately home.
I also met Lucie Šavlíková, from my Czech publishers Mlada Fronta, and Natalia Sikora from my Polish publishers Wydawnictwo WAB. I am ashamed to admit that my foreign language skills are not especially impressive (a smattering of restaurant Italian, unconvincing French, GCSE German, surprisingly helpful Latin and the ever useful Anglo Saxon) but fortunately for me everyone I met spoke English with a fluidity that made it hard to believe it was a second language for any of them. They all made me welcome at their stands and talked very positively about Bad Blood. I also caught up with some of my previous publishers of earlier books abd was flattered that they remembered me with so many books frothing and crashing into publication each year like the battering of tidal waves.
I can’t write about Bologna without a shoutout to multicultural British publishers Frances Lincoln who have only published one book of mine and that the non-profit Lines in the Sand. But although I’ve not made them one red cent they kindly sponsored me at the fair, allowed me the use of their stand and took me out to a delicious meal at one of the best restaurants in Bologna. Thank you once again, Frances Lincoln people! I tried to repay them a tiny bit by acting as a photojournalist at the launch party for my mother’s new title, illustrated by Ros Asquith, the Great Big Book of Families. I’ll upload some video and photos from the party soon. Unfortunately my trusty digital camera, all of three years old, is no match for the SLR I use at university. I fear an SLR will be an expensive piece of kit not only to buy but to travel with but it’s racking up points on my list of things I wish I owned.
Another shoutout to the SCBWI people who had their conference the week before Bologna and were kind enough to invite me to their closing party (and Bologna opening for me) at which I met old friends and contacts, internet buddies, Lines in the Sand contributors and new writers fizzing with enthusiasm and not nearly vain enough of their success in getting deals in this difficult climate.
At the events I went to and at the fair I met more lovely people than I have time or space to mention and I’ll spare you the story of our travel adventures in the face of union action and the longest taxi queues in the world. Stay tuned to my YouTube for some attempts at videobloggery of some more book fair experience.
We stayed three days at the fair and although it was a near thing I was not kidnapped by moomins. I also managed to tear myself away from an Italy in which the sun had escaped from its prison and conjured up a emerald atlas of its own sweeping skies. I’ll be back in Italy in June for my first real holiday since Rhodes in 2008, so the sunshine will have to save itself up for me then.
Look out for Mary’s articles on the fair in Carousel magazine and Armadillo online. And, if you’re thinking of coming to Bologna in 2011, drop me a line. I’ve got several projects in pre pre production but one thing I’m sure of is that I’ll be launching Ghost of a Chance next year. If enough people I know are about I might even have a party of my own!
I would have written this up earlier but I was in a tearing hurry to leave for Bologna! However we had the first Children’s Author Roadshow event in Abingdon on the 13th of March at The Bookstore in Abingdon.
The event was organised by the Oxfordshire branch of the Children’s Author Roadshow which is a new project of the scattered Authors Society to link groups of local authors for visits. Our group of authors were: Leslie Wilson, Joanna Kenrick, Mary Hoffman, Kath Langrish, Rhiannon Lassiter, Dennis Hamley and Mary Hooper.
With so many authors I was a bit worried we’d fill up the whole shop so customers couldn’t get in. But The Bookstore turned out to be surprisingly spacious almost Tardis-like in its ability to cram in so many of us and still keep plenty of room for people having books signed, people buying books and people simply browsing the shelves. We took up two tables with our books and the authors took turns behind the tables, meeting and greeting and handing out free postcards and bookmarks inside and outside the store. The staff members were very friendly and supportive and had put together a beautiful window display of all of our books and a swingstand outside the shop.
At this event I was promoting Bad Blood and the reissued Rights of Passage sequence, of which Borderland and Outland have been published so far. I handed out competition flyers with the opportunity to win a free copy of Borderland or Outland by answering the question “If you discovered a secret doorway into another world, what would you do?”
We had a number of entrants and almost everyone who answered included having adventures in their reply. Quite a few people would take a friend or family member with them and an honorable mention to the contestant who wanted to fill her world with music.
I chose the winner later that evening and can now announce the winner was Kathlyn, from Abingdon, UK with the answer: “Bring a friend with me so we could discover the world together and hopefully have adventures. And also meet interesting characters in the other world to be my friends.” Congratulations, Kathlyn! A copy of Borderland is on its way and should reach you by the end of the month.
The photos you see in this entry were taken by Sara Wallcraft, Monkeyflower Designs, who kindly helped me out at this event. She’s one of my cloest friends and if I ever do discover a door into another world I’m sure she’ll be close behind me. Thanks also to Jo Kenrick who did the lioness’ share of the organising (all the hard work of tracking down suitable prey and organising the pride of authors) and to Mary Hoffman for transporting me to Abingdon. Thank you as well to the rest of the CAR team who were a joy to work with. I hope to do more signings with the group this year.
March 12, 2010
Saturday 13th March 2010 - The Oxford branch of the Children’s Authors’ Roadshow, including Leslie Wilson, Joanna Kenrick, Mary Hoffman, Kath Langrish, Rhiannon Lassiter, Dennis Hamley and Mary Hooper will be talking to customers and signing books between 11am and 2pm at The Book Store in the Abingdon shopping precinct – come along and say hello!
Rhiannon will also be judging a competition to win copies of her books. For a chance to win, entrants must answer the question “if you discovered a secret doorway into another world… what would you do?”
March 7, 2010
From the 23rd to the 26th of March I’ll be at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. Bologna is the biggest children’s rights fair and has over a thousand exhibitors from publishing companies, agencies and production companies around the world. I’ve been going to Bologna every other year for the last decade and am now attending every year to meet my international publishing companies, find out about the current trends in publishing and surround myself with children’s books and book people.
I’ll be there with my mother, the children’s author Mary Hoffman. If you’re attending the fair let me know and perhaps we can meet.