Thursday, 25 January 2018

Pineapple Inspiration at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Museums are great places for inspiration and for research, and I'm lucky to have some great ones in my home town of Cambridge. One of my favourites is the Fitzwilliam Museum. Two regal stone lions guard the building. There is a story that they come alive at midnight and drink from 'Hobson's conduit' - the gulley that runs along the edge of the street nearby. This story was the seed of the idea that became The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost. You can see the two lions on the front cover, posing on the steps of Pendragon Manor.

Another of my stories was inspired by an object in the Fitzwilliam Museum. High over a doorway there hangs a rather dark portrait by Theodorus Netscher. It's not a portrait of a king or a queen or a girl in a pearl earring or a boy with a dog. This is a prize pineapple - perhaps the first one ever grown in England.

School Visit News

Thank you to all the lovely schools that made me so welcome last term.

October was a month of secondary schools, and got off to a great start with a return visit to fantastic Litcham School in Norfolk. Thank you to superstar librarian, Cathy Berry, for organising it all and looking after me as always. I'm honoured to be Litcham's Author in Residence for a second year - thanks to the generous support of Swaffham Rotary Club.  We have lots of exciting things planned for 2018.Watch this space!

Lots of students squeezed into the lovely library at Dereham Neatherd High School
Not far away in Norfolk, I made my first visit to Dereham Neatherd High School. It was a lovely action-packed day with an author talk, book signing and workshops with enthusiastic, creative Y7, 8 and 9 students. Special thanks to fantastic librarian, Lorraine Gill for making everything run like clockwork.  I could tell your library is the heart of the school!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Thank you

I've had some lovely letters and e-mails from readers this week. I was delighted to receive a big envelope of letters from Y5 and Y6 pupils at Shakespeare Primary School in Leeds. They have been reading The Phoenix Code alongside their topic on ancient Egypt and had lots of great questions about the book. One of my favourite questions was whether Cleo and Ryan are going to get married and what jobs will they do when they grow up! I've been busy making some videos this morning with answers to the questions and some tips for writing their own mysteries.

I also received a message from a dad who is enjoying reading The Mystery of the Whistling Caves with his daughter (such a lovely message that it made me cry!), and a letter from a nine-year old boy who is reading The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost, and whose favourite character is Emily because she "leads the missions and uses evidence to find suspects" Who says boys don't like reading books with girl heroes! And then there was the brilliant story by a girl at a school I visited last week . . .

Thank you so much to you all. Your letters and messages have made my week and really spurred me on with my new project (more about this soon!)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Competition Results

Thank you very much to everyone who entered the Drift in Action competition with a story or picture showing Drift busy being a canine-super-agent.

Drift has helped me to pick out our two favourites - one story and one picture.

Second Prize goes to Tierney Hodgkinson for her excellent pencil drawing of Drift, carefully keeping an eye on Scott's food outside Dotty's cafe. Drift thought Tierney had made him look very handsome, and we liked the way all the characters are shown in the picture. (It's come out a little faint in the photo so hope you can see it!)

First prize goes to Jorge Araujo for his fantastic story, Drift, My Dog Agent. Jorge's story picks up where The Mystery of the Whistling Caves finishes. It seems that not all of the Saxon treasure has been found, and Emily, Scott, Jack - and, of course, Drift - have to race to search Roshendra Farm before the sceptre is stolen. Jorge's story is really exciting and brilliantly written and captures the essence of Adventure Island. It cleverly highlights Drift's role in solving the crime, and makes him the hero of the story. Jorge's story is all the more impressive as he is Portuguese, and had to translate it into English (he very honestly admits he had some help with the translation, but even so!)
Here are some quotes to give a flavour of Jorge's story. You can read it in full on the Young Writer's Page here.
"Drift followed everything, turned to the window, wanting to tell everything he thought and felt . . . but he was a dog. Not a dog like everyone else, but still a dog that couldn't speak."

"Drift skirted the hill and climbed carefully to the top where he saw the thief raise his hand. He clenched his teeth, and with the anger and the fear for his friend's health in his chest, he leapt and snatched the neck of the man, who moaned and fell in pain."

Congratulations to both Jorge and to Tierney. Your signed book prizes will be on their way to you soon.

Both winners were kind enough to answer a few questions about themselves.