Monday, 30 March 2009

Oaklands Secondary School

Last Friday I visited Oaklands Secondary School as part of my 'unofficial' book tour.
Given that it was the last lesson slot before the beginning of the weekend and they'd had the likes of Darren Shan visit, I was slightly apprehensive that this was going to be hard work.
Totally the opposite. The students were seriously getting into their stride with the scene setting and the final dramatic acting out of their own version of the story, and fortunately, no one was hurt.
I intend to put pics up of the visit, including the students themselves, on the website proper shortly, so in the meanwhile you'll have to bear with one of me in full 'I wish I'd thought of that' mode.
We talked a lot about where stories come from, and how to add drama into a scene, lots of shooting ideas about and the hour whizzed by, so alas we didn't get as far as the Q&A.
The unofficial tour thing continues with me popping up at the Crystal Palace Festival on the 25th April. There'll be advanced copies of DEVIL'S KISS available, a couple of weeks before official publication. All very fitting since Chapter 1 opens at Crystal Palace itself.
Thanks to all who attended last Friday, it was great and I'll see you again next year with THE DARK GODDESS!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Now that was FUN!

Got back from Bologna yesterday. Still haven't quite gathered my thoughts on it so this blog may spill out over a period.
Simply put, it was a BLAST.
Flew out of Gatwick and was very pleased to be upgraded. God, it made the trip so much more pleasent having a chicken tikka meal on proper plates rather than cheese and tomato sandwiches.
Explored Bologna after dumping the bags at the hotel and it's beautiful. It's a old university city and perfect scale for walking. Some of the buildings are huge monolithic late medieval castles almost, the squares are gorgeous and even the pedestrian walkways under the arches have mosaics. Elegant shops and chic from it's well coiffured Italian head to its dainty polished toes. You know you're in Italy, it just drips effortless STYLE.
Monday evening was the main event, my dinner with my foreign language publishers. It was at the Antica Hosterica Romagnola, the sort of restaurant where you have to be on first names terms with the owner for decades to have any hope of getting a table during the Book Fair week. Unsurprisingly EVERYONE there was in publishing.
It was a GREAT dinner. Food fantastic (what else would you expect in Italy?) and a bit overwhelming. Sarah was there of cousre, though suffering terribly from almost a total lost of voice, as well as Rod, Chris, Alex and Caroline (the UK gang). Also present was Urban (my stylish German publisher), Jurgen from Holland (the piccie in the corner is the Dutch edition of DEVIL'S KISS< due out in June), Glenn and Natacha of Pocket Jeunnesse, and Ana, who'd just arrived from Brazil. Marzena, who's a scout, was sitting to my left and it was great to finally meet one of the 'spies' of the industry. Speeches were made, tears were (almost) shed and food was consumed. Certain members of the party had already started on the alcohol before dinner and what they say about publishers is true, they know how to have a good time.
About midnight we wondered off to the infamous Pink Bar and by 1am I stumbled blearily into bed.
Tuesday was wall to wall meetings with everyone I'd met yesterday but now had a chance to talk in more detail about DEVIL'S KISS, THE DARK GODDESS and PROJECT X. Really enjoyed finding out what the publishers were up to and how each territory operates. ALSO met another publisher from a new territory, more on that if it all comes through.
What it demonstrated is how much people LOVE what they do. Apart from the JK Rowlings and Stephenie Meyers, very few ever make it BIG in the industry. But wandering around the fair, looking at the sheer scale of the books available, AND the beauty of them (seriously, books are so beautiful, Kiddle be damned!), you realise the passion everyone has. They work such long hours and put so much care into what they do, it's very humbling and incredibly inspiring. It's a huge privilege to part of it.
I will report more, but that's my first impressions.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Bologna, here I come!

Haven't started packing yet but have bought a new outfit(s) in my once every five years shopping spree. Slight panic as I realise I can no longer retreat into the safety of a cheap suit. Smart casual, what's that?
So...this time last year it all kicked off. I've my diary open on 14/03/08 and it's:
I've signed with Hyperion! The book publishing branch of Disney for $(yeah, right. Like I was going to put that in)!

It certainly has been an insane 12 months, far exceeding everything I could have hoped for. Last year the idea of attending Bologna belonged in Neverland, and now I have a ticket and hotel reservation. I have a full itinerary.
My thoughts on the last 12 months are well documented in this blog but I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who's helped get me here. So, if you'll indulge me I'll get into my 'Oscar' mode:
My agent, Sarah. I never understood why EVERYONE thanks their agent until Sarah came along. Talent and a vague understanding of sentence structure will only get you so far, it's the agent who makes it life-changing. She's done it for a few now, most recently Jon Mayhew and Michael 'Leonidas' Ford, and the woman works like a Trojan. I'm very very lucky to have her as my guru and friend.
Everyone who's helped me with reading my early early work. That's Mona, Nusho, Ruth, Alison and John primarily, as well as a few others. Thanks for pretending it was okay!
Helen, Lee and Kathryn at Cornerstones. If you've vaguely followed my progress you'll know all about them already. Certainly wouldn't be here without you folks and your stirling advise and enthusiasm.
The SCBWI crew. The Undiscovered Voices has brought a number of writers to the fore and I'm very proud of the company I keep. I'm sure there'll be a few more in the next 12 months but, blimey, what a start!
To Matt, for allowing me to get intouch with my sibling rivalry and 'encouraging' (actaully more like 'forcing') me to give up the day job. Best move I ever made.
The Puffin gang and the Hyperion posse. Publishers do what they do for the love of their profession. You get paid a lot more in construction but having been in both I know where I want to stay. Lins and Ari have had huge patience in my meandering rewrites. That's the absolutely BEST thing about writing and the publishing industry in general, the endless enthusiasm and passion for 'the books'.
My family and wife and two girls. My daughters and the reponsibilty of parenthood was the catalyst in starting my life over again which is why everything is dedicated to them.
Really, I'm having a BLAST and it's thanks to you guys! Ice creams are on me.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Moving on...

Things are starting to hot up on several fronts as publication date looms...

But first, news on a new book deal(s).

Alas, not for me, but for my 'brother from another mother' Jon Mayhew.

His Mortlock has gone for a THREE book deal with Bloomsbury as they're obviously found something to lift them out of the post-Potter slump.

Jon and I have been swapping concerns, dreams and tactics for a year or so, and I'm very very pleased that all his hard work's paid off. The story's a Victorian Gothic adventure story, also with a female protagonist (is it something in the air?) and will be out, as a hardback (now that shows a lot of faith) and will no doubt be preceeded by a media blitzkrieg.

Despite the shrinking of lists and the tightening of belts, talent will win through.
Congrats Jon and you thoroughly deserve it.

Anyway, this is my blog so we'll get back to talking about ME ME ME!

First, I'm finally having a proper website built. The one I had now was always meant to be a place filler, now the filling is coming. Candy's doing a splendid job and it'll be launched in a month or so.

So, this blog will evolve into something new. I'm not sure what exactly but for a while now I've realised that I'm going over the same old stuff, technically. What I want is a change in emphasis, as much to do with the 'journey' of being a debut novelist (though when Book 2 comes out I'll no longer be a debut, will I?) and other aspects, maybe more about the book itself and the characters within it.

This means some info will migrate into the website 'proper', but that's a month or so ahead.Meanwhile, THE DARK GODDESS has gone off to the publishers. I'm now working on a BRAND NEW book, totally unrelated to the Templar series. It's very exciting having a whole new world to play in and no baggage at all. All I can say right now is the hero's name is Tom, and I have savage plans for this boy, I just hope he's up to the challenge.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Invaders must DIE!

Just bought the Prodigy's new album, INVADERS MUST DIE. I've ben a fan since way back, since Charley and they've lost none of their raging power.

Run with the Wolves is utterly awesome and if there was a title track for THE DARK GODDESS, this would be it. What amazes me is how a piece of work that's just three or four minutes long can strike so deep. There's something elemental about it, you just want to bang your head. It's as primitive as an expression as you can get.

I'm listening to it right now, for the third time in a row.

Okay, we've got drums, guitars, a thunderous beat so it's not the words that are relevant, not it this case. But think about Johnny Cash, the Beatles or (fill in your favourite) and you know what I mean. You could write hundreds of pages, thousands, and never touch the pure emotion of music. It needs no translation (haven't you ever been moved to tears by a song you couldn't understand?), it needs no understanding, it's that fundamental.


Rewriting THE DARK GODDESS. I'm sharpening all the edges just before I send it off to the publishers.

March is also the month the publicity machine comes alive. More on that as it happens.
Also, have you seen the Watchmen yet? Much better than I expected. I must admit, part of that is I was never a huge fan. Of Alan Moore's work I prefered 'V for Vendetta' (and quite liked the film too) and 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' (ditto. I loved Dorian Grey).