Friday, 29 February 2008

Anthony McGowan, author

I was at a library conference in Surrey yesterday, there to speak about the National Year of Reading.

There was an author there: Anthony McGowan.

I'd heard of him, epsecially his book Henry Tumour. He did a talk - and read a bit of his stuff.

Because I do so many events myself, I can never justify to myself going to see other authors. This may seem selfish and insular, but the truth is if I'm not working, I'm at home with my wife and daughter.

But seeing this author was great. He talked about how he became a writer. Fascinating. He read from his books. Brilliant. He made people laugh, disgusted them, challenged them.

And then I found out he's from Leeds.

He's got a new book coming out called The Knife that Killed Me. It sounds good, if grim. I'm going to buy it.

Eoin Colfer and other things I've read

I've read the last of Eoin Colfer's Legend of books this week. The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth. I love all that series. Especially The Legend of Spud Murphy, about a fierce librarian.

Now I'm reading book 3 of the Anthony Horowitz Power of Five series. Night Rise. It's good. Strong plot. Lots of suspense. Compelling characters. But they don't do it for me like Alex Rider.

I read a lot to my daughter. She's 4 and has got into stories in a big way. Rainbow Fairies. Magic Kitten. Worst Witch. I know them all.

You'd think a grown man should be reading grown man books. But I never read children's stories when I was a child. And, since I started reading children's authors like Horowitz, Higson and McNab, it's been hard to go back to adult fiction.

But to prove I sometimes read adult books... I am in Reading today. In a hotel room. Earlier I got a bus to the hotel from the station. The bus went past a house I'd lived in with a Boro fan in 1991. But also past what used to be Blackwell's Bookshop. Going past I remembered I bought my first Juan Goytisolo book in there. 1990. He became my favourite author for years. I loved him. He writes really hard to read stuff, no sentences: lots of colons: half phrases... dots: you know what I mean. I wonder if I went back and read him now, 18 years later, if I'd still be into it.

Monday, 18 February 2008


I got my first feedback about my forthcoming novel last week.

Puffin sent early copies of Football Detective: Foul Play out to people in the media, books and football. One of them emailed me to say that her son, aged 12, had read it and she wanted to let me know what he thought.

That made me nervous. What would he say? Would he hate it? What if he spotted some dreadful mistake?*

He liked it. A lot. He said:

Really, really, really good. Clever, well written. Very good for people like me who like football. Really well aimed at my sort of audience. Almost as good as Cherub.

I'm happy to be almost as good as Cherub. I like Cherub.

I admit that this blog is a boasting blog - and I am sorry. There'll be no more like this, I promise.

But to hear that the first reader has read my book - and liked it - is a good feeling.

And that it was a 12 year old boy I've never met that likes it, not a reviewer or a friend or any other adult.


* - not that that would happen... the editing and proof reading team at Puffin have been brilliant.

Sunday, 10 February 2008


The first half of the England game against the Swiss was difficult. But once the second half got going I was happier. I loved seeing Capello prowling on the side of the pitch, like a caged lion.

Most people I meet are behind him. Young and old. I think there's real hope.

To help him with his English, Puffin are sending him a proof of my new book, Foul Play.

Writers in Schools

I go into a lot of schools and libraries to talk about football and reading. I do a game called the Football Reading Game, which is part quiz, part penalty shoot out. I end up getting lots of balls hammered past me by ten and eleven year olds. But so what? I can take it.

This month I'm working at Ghyllgrove and Lee Chapel primary schools in Basildon, 250 miles of train lines from my home in Yorkshire.

I admit I was a bit depressed by the thought of going to Basildon four times in February. I'm supposed to be writing 8 books. But...

... it has been one of the best things I could have done. Talking to the boys and girls about stories, what they like and dislike, has been brilliant. I read them short bits from my manuscripts and could see immediatley where the problems were - and where I'd done a good job with the writing. Then reading what they wrote too. Really inspiring.

It made me think I must keep doing events - as much to meet the people I'm supposed to be writing for as to tell people about my books.