Thursday, 27 May 2010

Having Something to Say

Attended the Young Muslim Writers Awards ceremony yesterday alongside these guys and gals in the picture. ANY award ceremony that has Marie Antoinette handing out the prizes is going to be a blast, and it certainly was.
Then we have Dreadlockalien as the master of ceremonies and Anna Perera, author of the amazing Guantanamo Boy.
I think what pleased me was the break in the standard 'po-faced' nature of the awards. The art was supplied by graffiti artist Mohammed Ali and a poetry from international slam champion Warsan Shire. Frankly far, far more fun that the Muslim events I used to go to, back in my distant, hazy youth. The competition was for under 16's and it's awesome they had the courage to get down and write. Now I don't mean stories about knights and quests and dragons and the undead, stuff that don't mean much and while, hey, immense fun, isn't nourishment for the soul. But what they feel, what they believe and what they want the world to know. It's certainly a courage I find difficult to access, even now.
Anyway, to the writers and poets who entered and to ANYONE writing and rhyming.
Have something to say and say it out LOUD.
People will try and shut you up. They'll mock you, say that your words are wrong, or stupid, or not important.
If it's important to you, say it LOUD and CLEAR.
This is what art is, ultimately. It's souls speaking to each other.
Remember that as well as telling a good story, you want to tell a meaningful story. A story that lingers and is remembered long after. Maybe not the words or a clever bit of dialogue, but the spirit the writer was trying to awaken in you.
Every now and then I get taught a lesson about writing. Yesterday's was both a lesson and a warning. About writing and the power of words. There's an obligation to use them well and it's something those children at the awards yesterday knew better than I.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Andi desperately hopes her long lost half brother Bernardo will be as mad on
basketball as she is. But when he steps off the plane from the Philippines,
she can't believe her eyes.
She hasn't seen him for ten years, but even so, how did he get to be EIGHT
FOOT TALL? An eight-foot-tall boy who is about to crash into her life with
his size 22 feet.

But Bernardo is not what he seems. Bernardo is a hero, Bernardo works
miracles, and Bernardo has an amazing story to tell.

A bittersweet story, funny, sad and magical...

Candy was one of the winners of the Undiscovered Voices competition back in 2008. She's a shining example of just sticking at it, being dedicated, being enthusiastic and having a great story to tell WILL get you through.

I'm so pleased TALL STORY's been the one for her to break through. I love mythology and she's picked up a myth from her native Phillipines as the starting point of her book. It's about how giants are responsible for earthquakes and poor Bernado, being a giant, feels pretty guilty over the recent earthquake back in his home town. Go and check it out, it's different, it's great and will give you a fresh insight into a brand new world. Below are a few more reviews for TALL STORY.

"Tall Story combines wry humour and profound comment on cultural identity .
convincing, witty and poignant" The Bookseller children's book choice for
June 2010

"It isn't often that I am in fits of laughter one minute and in tears the
next - TALL STORY is one of the warmest, funniest, most moving books I've
read in a long time - and Candy Gourlay is a rare and new voice in
children's fiction." Bella Pearson, editorial director, David Fickling Books

"Marvellous ... Tall Story is the kind of book which even as early as in
January you can say will be one of the best in 2010." Book Witch

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Rearranging the shelves, as you do

What's up? Quite a lot. Where to begin?
1. The Book Club book. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Written by Hemingway. Set during the Spanish Civil War and the plot's about blowing up a bridge. Couldn't get more testosterone filled, could it?
OMG, its more soppy that a bucket of soppy with a dash of soppy all washed down with another bucket of soppy. If you love Twilight, you'll LOVE this! Pages and pages of a couple wondering around the countryside dwelling on HOW MUCH THEY LOVE ONE ANOTHER. It just goes on and on and on. There was one spark of excitement (massacre at a village) but it was told in the past, a recollection of Pilar. The book club meeting was postponed, but I'm not sure I'm going to finish it, like ever. I'm sorry for all the English students out there who've been told it's a classic and awesome and all that, but I've found it hard, hard work.
2. The Summer Scream (see entry below) is proceding at pace. More authors. More goodies. More wonderful things galore. I'm going to bang the drum on and on about this so I'll warn you now. Saturday 19th June, 12pm-4pm, Foyles Bookshop.
3. Book Three. Almost done.
4. Blog Tour for Dark Goddess. I didn't really understand how all this worked last year but this should be a fun project. I've got a wide range of different bloggers who've been kind enough to interview me. But each will cover a different theme. Girl action heroes. Foreign settings and overseas research. Violence in children's books. Witches and werewolves. Female mythology, etc. Something for everyone, I hope.
5. School tours. Over the first two weeks of July I'll be darting here there and everywhere. Maybe I'll be popping into your school? Details will come up soon-ish! This is something I will pick up more on in September, onwards.
6. Competitions! This will be part of the blog tour but I'll be running one in the next couple of weeks for you to get your hands on pre-publication copies of Dark Goddess. Yumm. I love the smell of newly printed books.
I'm sure there's more.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Summer Scream!

What are you doing on Saturday 19th June? Are you in Northern Europe?
Whatever it is, cancel it (they'll forgive you) and come to this instead!
Foyles Bookshop (yes, THE Foyles bookshop) are organizing a gothic horror treat of fantasmagorical proportions.
Taking the theme of horror circus you'll be able to meet Rachel Caine, Sarah Rees Brennan and me and discuss all things supernatural, paranormal and BEYOND!
Rachel's the bestselling author of the Morganville Vampire series to give all you fang-fiends something tasty to chew on and this is one of her rare visits from the sunny US of A. Sarah's great debut, The Demon's Lexicon, is a YA urban supernatural series set in the not-so-sunny UK and centres around a pair of demon hunting brothers. The sequel, The Demon's Covenant, would have just come out.
What is there not to like?
As well as signings and Q&A session there'll be competitions (I've seen some of the prizes and all I can say is 'juicy'), including a short story competition kicked off by Cassandra Clare. So, if you've ever wondered about getting into the spooky story business, this is your chance!
My own small contribution to this will be the early release of Dark Goddess. So, rather than wait with every one else you'll be able to get your hands on it two weeks early, and signed (assuming I remember my pen).
You will be instantly adored by friends and family! I guarantee it!
Honestly, I feel light-headed even thinking about it.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Being manly...ROAARR!!

No, this isn't a picture of me with my personal trainer but it is Hemingway, possibly the most manliest man of writing ever.
A few months ago I decided that I needed to hang out with blokes more. Now I don't want my wife (or anyone else in my family reading this) suddenly worried that I've decided to grow a moustache and listen to the Village People but more that, suddenly, I have very few male companions.
Now, once, that was not a problem. In fact, I had too many. You work in construction, you work with men. You work in publishing, you work with women. Plus the child-care duties and school runs and basically me being ultra-intouch with my feminine side and having been bottle-fed and having daughters all added up to a huge bubbling cauldron of oestrogen in my life.
So, what's the solution? Hang out at boxing clubs? Well, maybe later but at present I've decided to set up a 'Men Only' book group. Except the first three members are (or were) women.
But now it's me, Eddie, Paul and Stephen, very manly names I'm sure you'll agree (Paul even has a beard), and the first book is For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway (see above).
It has sex, violence, horses and war. It even has unprintable swearing! How more manly can you get?
Right, need to finish the book before our Wednesday meet. That and arrange the manicure.