Monday, 14 January 2019

Happy New Year

Christmas Eve - Santa has been!
After a festive season full of family, food and fun I'm back at my desk finishing the first draft of Time Dogs 4 and looking forward to the first two school visits of term next week.

I love the beginning of a new year. It's like opening a new notebook, the umpire's whistle at the start of a netball match or waking up to freshly fallen snow.  That blank page demands my neatest handwriting. That whistle reminds me to play better than last time. Fresh snow invites running around and snow angels.

This year I'm planning to start writing something new. I have lots of ideas but I don't know which one I'll run with yet.  I'm going to set myself some big physical challenges. I'll maybe climb a mountain or run a marathon - I haven't decided yet. I'm going to travel to some far-off places.  I'll be looking out for great stories ideas all the while.

Travel will be the theme for 2019.  Time travel to be precise! In June the first two books in my new Time Dogs series will publish in the USA.  They're all about a group of canine friends who accidentally discover a time machine and zoom off through time and space on some extraordinary adventures - meeting real dogs from history along the way. These stories have already had a long and winding journey from the initial idea several years ago, so I'm hugely excited (and nervous!) that they will soon be real actual books.

Time Dogs One
Would you like a sneak peak at Books 1 and 2? Of course you would! You're in luck - you can see the covers and the first few pages here on the Macmillan website.

I'm so delighted and honoured to have been paired with the brilliant illustrator, Misa Saburi. Misa has brought the stories to life with gorgeous line drawings that capture the characters and action perfectly. I love the way she drawn the dogs - the balance of cuteness and realism is just lovely. I couldn't have asked for more.

Happy New Year.

Wishing you joy and peace and success and fun in everything you do this year - even if it includes time travel!

Here's to new notebooks and fresh snow!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

School Visit Round-up

I've had some lovely school visits this term, including a return visit to the fantastic Park Hall Junior Academy in Walsall, where I spent a lovely day talking about Ancient Egypt and creating new long-lost artefacts with Y5. Thank you to everyone for making me so welcome, and especially to Ms Ragdale for organising the visit.

I've also been back to the wonderful Litcham School where I'm lucky enough to be Author in Residence. In the morning, several groups of Y2, Y3 and Y4 students from some of the surrounding primary schools came in for a combined creative workshop.  We invented supervehicles with animal powers and made up stories about them. In the afternoon it was back to Ancient Egypt with the fantastic Golden Eagles class - venturing into the tomb of Phraraoh Smenkhkare. As always a special thank you to librarian extraordinaire Cathy Berry for organising it all and looking after me.

Here are just a few of the amazing animal supervehicles we invented.

Beatrice's Bee Bike won the prize book
The Meg-Lab

The Super Snail Car
The Octodragon

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

October 4th is National Poetry Day . . .

Which makes it the perfect day to share some brilliant poems by students at Litcham School in Norfolk
Thinking about home

I'm not a poet, but I love poetry, so I was delighted to be asked to spend a day creating poems with a Y7/8 group at Litcham - where I've been lucky enough to be Author in Residence for the last two years.

I had lots of discussions with the wonderful Litcham librarian, Cathy Berry, about the content of the workshop. We wanted to tie in with the theme of homelessness that the students had been focusing on. Around the same time I saw an announcement for the Betjeman Poetry Prize - a national competition for young people, with the theme of PLACE. There's no place like home, I thought . . . and we went from there.

Friday, 31 August 2018

The Writer's Map

I love maps - faded old maps, shiny new maps, everyday street maps, maps of extraordinary expeditions, maps of imaginary worlds in the pages of books . . . 

So, I was very excited to be asked to contribute an essay to a fantastic and beautiful new book, The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands. It's edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, and it includes pieces by the most incredible line-up of authors - some you might just recognize! I can hardly believe that my name is casually hanging out in such an illustrious list!

It's all down to the lovely maps of Castle Key that appear in all the Adventure Island, of course. They are drawn by Leo Hartas, and I can't tell you how much I love them. In The Writer's Map, you can see my original scrappy sketch of Castle Key - the one that Leo had to work from to produce the lovely final version. You can also find out what maps mean to me and why I love them so much.

The Writers' Map will be published in October by Thames & Hudson and by the University of Chicago Press in America

I can't wait to read the articles by all the other writers - and to pore over all the maps, of course! I think I'll be buying extra copies for Christmas presents for all my map-loving family and friends too.