Thursday, 19 February 2009

Good Books

I've read two great books this week.

Joe Rat by Mark Barratt
It's based in Victorian London and about a boy who makes a living finding valuables in the sewers. It's a grim start for any character. But it gets worse. Once he's out of the sewers a gang try to rob him of what he's found before he can sell it. But Joe is a great hero and the book is wonderful. If you like drama, danger and brilliant characters, this is for you. Really. I can't recommend it highly enough.

There's Only One Danny Ogle
by Helena Pielechaty
A story about a boy who moves from the town to the country and tries to get a football team going at his new school. It's about friends, enemies, family and football. I read it one sitting. I have read dozens of football stories. This is the best short one (i.e. under 15000 words) so far. Five stars.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Bearkeeper by Josh Lacey

Just finished Bearkeeper by Josh Lacey. What a story!

It's about a boy who goes to London to search for his missing (maybe dead) father - and to avenge a wrong. But he gets caught up in the world of London and its dark side. And then with bears. And dogs. And murderers. And actors.

I don't want to give too much away, but the bear scenes are amazing. One almost too sad to read. Then others brilliant and uplifting.

This is a cracking story that barely* lets up, always something happening. It's frightening. Horrible. Moving. Everything. I'd really recommend it.

* no pun intended!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


It's been a good day for news.

My agent rang to say the BBC are going to do an audio tape of Foul Play - and they want to do a large print version too. I'm really pleased.

Also, two TV things.

Blue Peter are doing a short interview with me for their show in the first week of March. I'm going in next week to answer their questions. It airs on World Book Day - 5th March - I think.

Plus, there's a docmentary on BBC4 on 9th Feb (at 9pm) called Why Reading Matters. I think I'm on it. They came and interviewed me then to see an event I did at Sowerby Bridge Library in Yorkshire.

Week Off

I was meant to do school events all week. Monday in Warrington. Tuesday in London. Wednesday in Birmingham. Thursday and Friday in Port Talbot.

But they've all cancelled: except one today in Birmingham. All because of snow.

The school today was great. From Kings Norton. They asked some brilliant questions.

There was one girl at the back who must have asked six questions about what it's like being a writer. She said she wants to be a writer. I think she will be.

So I'm glad I made it there.

Now I've got a week without an event. So I'm going to write. A lot.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Stockton Children's Book Prize

I'm up for the Stockton Children's Book prize next month. With four other authors. We have a day of events in Stockton, then there's a prize ceremony in the evening. It'll be the first time I've done something like that, so I'm really looking forward to it. Win or lose.

I went to my local library to get the other four books out. To see what they were like. Weigh up my chances. All four were in stock. Pretty good!

The first one I read - and still am - is Bearkeeper by Josh Lacey. And...

... it's brilliant.

A really good story about a boy who wants to be a fighter like his (missing) dad. But he doesn't quite know how to find his dad. He lives on the edge of a forest, but has to go to London. It's really well written, has great characters and makes you want to keep reading. Top marks.

It'll be good to go back to Stockton. My best mate lived there for years. Still does. I know parts of the town pretty well.

Snowed In

I've been snowed in for two days. Like lots of people.

I was meant to be in schools in Warrington (Monday) and London (Tuesday). But our valley ground to a halt.

The upside is that I've finished the sixth and last book (so far) of the Football Academy series, which is out in two months. It feels good. I think I should celebrate. Do something. I reckon I'll take my wife and daughter out for a meal. And a film. And bowling. Something like that.

I think I'm not easy to live with when I'm doing a book. I come downstairs in a dream and can barely have a conversation - after hours in the attic. So they deserve something better than that.

I went sledging yesterday with my wife, daughter and her friends. There's a decent hill near out house, which is not surprising seeing as we live in the Pennines. That was pretty good.