Sunday, 14 September 2014

Interview Time

It's always exciting to receive a nice review of a book that you have written - and it's especially joyous when the review has been written by a young reader. I've been really impressed at all the kids out there who'd been setting up their own review websites and blogs - either on their own or with a group of friends - to tell the world all about the books they've been reading.

One young reviewer who has been kind enough to review both Adventure Island and The Phoenix Code (and I didn't even bribe him with a lifetime supply of  Aunt Kate's jam tarts) is eleven-year old Jed Owens. Jed is a massive mystery fan, and also a talented wildlife photographer.

I asked Jed if he would mind being interviewed for my blog. Here are his answers to my questions.

1. How long have you been writing your blog?

I've started my blog quite recently, on the 20th of December last year.

2. How do you decide which books to review?

 I review books I like and have just read, and sometimes take notes while I'm reading a book that I'll want to review later on.

3. What are your favourite books?

I've got a few favourite books, but the best mystery book ever is the Phoenix Code.  I also like Sherlock Holmes, and Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Adventure series, and the Adventure Island series.

4, What's the best/worst thing about writing a book blog?

The best thing about writing a book blog is that when you review books you have just read, you get to say what you think of them, and it's really good fun to have something like this to do.

The worst thing is that it is so easy to not write enough reviews, and not write on your blog for ages.

5. What advice would you give to other young readers who might be thinking of starting a book blog?

Free websites like Wordpress have default website themes so you don't need to design the website yourself, and they also make writing posts easy, so all the behind the scenes stuff is quite simple.  One of the hardest things is posting reviews often and consistently- I am terrible at that!- but it is good to do it in the long run. 

6. Do you have any favourite blogs that you like to follow?

 I don't really follow any blogs except yours!

Thank you for answering my questions, Jed! Good luck with your blog. If there are any other young book bloggers out there who'd like to be interviewed, please do get in touch!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

My Life as a Jellyfish

One of the fun things about writing children's books is that you get to lead to double life.

For months  you are cloistered away in your office planning a book, writing the first draft or wrestling the second draft into shape. You surface only to forage for toast, stomp round the fields with the dogs or halfheartedly harrass passing teenagers into tidying their bedrooms.

Then, there are other phases, packed with school visits or promotional events. You rise, creaking and blinking, from your desk, put on your party dress and venture out into the world.

Or maybe that's just me. I've come to realise that I'm the world's worst multi-tasker. I know of many more balanced authors who are able to, say, write two days a week, and do events, or other jobs on the other days. Or even write in the evenings or before breakfast. Not me. I only have two modes of operation. (1) Writing (nothing else gets done), and (2)  In Between Writing (everything else gets done as quickly as possible before Writing starts again).

This is me!
That's why I'm like a jellyfish.

That Takes the Biscuit

Ta da! Can you spot the cool biscuit logo?
I'm very excited to tell you about a brand new publication that I've been working on for the last few months.

No, I don't mean The Phoenix Code (although I'm pretty excited about that too, of course) and I haven't secretly been rustling up a new Adventure Island mystery either.

This new publication is a brilliant magazine by Coton Primary School newspaper club.

Now, when I say I've been "working" on this publication, I have to admit my role in the process was pretty minor. It's the pupils who've done all the real work.  In the early sessions, I talked about what goes into a newspaper and how to write exciting articles. The children were bursting with so many great ideas, one of my main jobs was to try to filter them down to something that we could actually fit into one copy - otherwise it could have turned into a newspaper fatter than Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows!  

Saturday, 21 June 2014

School Visit Round-up

I've been very lucky lately to have been invited to some great schools. Last week it was Oakham Primary School in the West Midlands. It was a great honour to have been adopted as the class author for this term by Class Twelve. I was so impressed by all the great literacy work the chldren had done based on the Adventure Island books. There was a display of brochures and leaflets they'd designed for different places on Castle Key Island,  letters from some of the charaters,  fascinating profiles of Jack, Scott and Emily, and beautifully written sentences describing different scenes.
Castle Key Brochures for Roshendra Farm, St Michaels Church, The Lighthous B & B, Westward Beach and more. . .