Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Editing... a game, a tennis match, a battle of wits, an exercise in horse-trading, and whatnot, but every once in a while you just have to concede the point to your editor. So (sadly) the following lines will not now appear in White Crow, when it's published in July.

I know some who have seen great fissures in the earth, rent cave mouths and slit rock, wherein lies the entrance to the path to Hell. I spoke to a man from the North of England some years gone, who told me he had seen such an entrance with his very eyes. I understood from him that the gateway to Hell is somewhere outside Bolton.

Maybe it's for the best...there are some nice librarians in Bolton, after all.

I think I might start posting more deletions. Could make a whole new book out of them...

White Crow

So I wrote this book and it was supposed to be called The Angel and the Devil and then I changed that to The Angel or the Devil, because prepositions make all the difference, and then, well, shucks, after many 'discussions' (please imagine really exaggerated air-quotes at this point) with my publisher, it has been changed again. It's now White Crow, and actually, I'm pretty happy with that.

And also, and VERY strangely for me, I'm really enjoying working on the rewrites for it. Usually I hate this bit so much, and I figure it's the bit where I actually earn my money, because it's the only bit of writing that feels like work... Maybe this time is different because writing the first draft was harder than usual. It all comes out in the wash, swings and roundabouts, what goes around comes around, somebody up there must really hate me....*

* please supply your own cliché if these are not to your taste.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Magic and Mayhem... the title of Raven Mysteries Book V, which I am writing at the mo. I'm about halfway through which is good, because I promised myself I'd have it done by Christmas, and if I'm still writing at five minutes to midnight on Christmas eve, I'll nod at Santa as he comes down the flue of the log burner and jolly well keep on writing.

All is going fine so far, and the 'plot' has frequent mention of cabbages, bunnies and the lethal combination of the two. Obviously. I have to confess I'm getting some help with this one; rabbit names are being supplied by the best rabbit namer in the country (that's official), and my very own daughter told me the funniest thing I've heard in years the other day, so that's going in too!

Now, how many hours till Christmas exactly? Oh, dear...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Blooming Christmas

Except I'm actually quite enjoying it this year. Of course the house always looks better with a giant inflatable Homer Simpson Santa outside ;-)

Apologies for the profanities displaying on my Twitter feed - I've deleted it now as it seemed to have been infiltrated by people with lots of bad words in their naughty little heads...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Ghosts and gadgets interview with Martin Jarvis

He is such a gent, I cannot tell you. Whether it's his Christopher Lee impression or his thoughts about Derren Brown, I remain in awe of his skills....

Monday, 2 November 2009


As my daughter says, you gotta love it.

And we certainly had fun. Dressed as (inept) Victorian Vampire Hunters, we welcome visitors to the ghostwalk at Wicken Fen. An almost full moon, mist drifting in from the fen, and some fantastic tableaux, including a werewolf chewing on someone and howling, and zombies emerging from the reeds!

Oh, why is next Samhain 12 months away?!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Things Can Only Get Better...

When the first date of your world domination book tour is cancelled with 6 hours notice, you know things can only get better. Shame, I was looking forward to extricating myself from my studio and remembering what talking to other people is like, rather than all the voices in my head (these are characters I'm talking about here, people. Honest)

So instead I'm going to have to keep talking to those characters for another 24 hours and hit the road tomorrow instead. What miffs me the most is I was planning a sneaky trip to All Saints in Spitalfields first...

Onwards and upwards.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Raven Mysteries Website is alive!

Please pop along and take a look:

The Sun Also Rises...

...As Ernest Hemingway once said.

This picture is yesterday's sunset, I'm just sorry I didn't snap sunrise this morning too, as it has been absolutely beautiful. Again.

Anyway enough romanticising. More pressing matters, like that thumping great re-write I'm working on await me. Shucks. But when that book is put to bed then it's time for the sun to rise on the next one, and that is always the most exciting part of writing, I find. When all is fresh and new and you haven't had time to doubt what you're doing...
Ok! To the book!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

If I Believed in Heaven it Would Look Like This

Today I finished writing the first book I've written in my new writing room at the bottom of the garden, and the whole thing fills me with joy!

The book in question is Raven Mysteries IV: "Vampires and Volts" and features The Annual Pumkpin Hunt (look out for the squishy ones), a Great Hallowe'en Ball (which gets a bit scary when the lights go out), and yes, vampires. Very naughty ones.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Vetting for School Visits

I'm not writing about the rights and wrongs of the new procedure for being vetted before visiting schools, but I thought (because I didn't know) it might help to actually set out what the exact details are and how to go about registering, since like many authors, whatever one's thoughts about it, there's just the pragmatic question of how to get on with it...

So thanks to Nina Douglas at Orion for finding all this out - here's the story...:

I couldn’t find the guidelines this morning from the DCSF and so rang the ISA helpline and I think have it clarified – see below:

In basic language, yes you do need to register – and it is open from next July, a one-off fee, for life with automatic updates fully in place by 2011!

The definition of needing to be part of the scheme is such:

In a specified place: ie school or juvenile detention or other place over the course of ‘frequently’: defined as once a month, or 3 or more occasions in 30 days

This means that for author tours and authors holding regular school events, even if not at the same school (can be different places of the same type, ie different schools), authors and those accompanying them, ie publicists will also need to register

This is not immediate, registration is from July 2010, with all ‘new starters’ registered by Nov 2010, and full scheme integration by 2011. It is a one off fee and is for life with no renewal required – it automatically updates. As far as I can make out authors can simply apply themselves through the website.

I have signed up to the e-newsletters for any news or progress on the scheme. A helpline, which actually helped is on 0300 123 1111.

And a useful presentation, is here:

CRB checks can still be requested by schools in addition to this.

Friday, 17 July 2009

23 years

OK so it's a shocking amount of time since I last posted, but that's because I'm rubbish...

It's not quite 23 years since I posted, but it is 23 years since I left 'big' school, to where I returned on Tuesday gone to give a talk to Year 8. And a lovely bunch they were too. I was delighted to go, but have to say it was extremely weird to be back on the stage of the old hall from where maters used to bark at us all... Anyway, I enjoyed it, and didn't even have to resort to telling the story about the time I nearly blew up the pavilion...

Friday, 24 April 2009

Creative thinking...

Have been in Wales teaching creative writing with Matt Whyman. Enormously rewarding and even more tiring, and even more than that, my brain actually hurts. 
But the chance to think freely for a few days - priceless.

Love the path by the river below David Lloyd (/Health Clubs/Cole and the Commotions) George's grave, and eventually discovered that just because you and your mate think a bad joke is funny fifteen times over, doesn't mean anyone else will. 

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Genius that is... Martin Jarvis

I was so enormously delighted when I heard that Martin Jarvis would record the audiobook version of Flood and Fang, first book in the Raven Mysteries, and even more delighted to witness his utter genius last Thursday evening as he put the finishing touches to the book. He's added a whole new level of humour to the book and it was great to see such a great actor at work on Edgar and co...
Humble thanks are in order.


I've been fairly busy with events of late. Here's shot from a signing after a lovely visit to Burford School for World Book Day. I've also been recently to Magdalen College School, Oxford, and Eastbourne, for a great time with the East Sussex Libraries Service.
Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming and making the events such fun!

Gasp! The Raven Mysteries is unleashed...

Heh, heh, heh. Solstice, Cudweed and of course Edgar the Raven are now available and waiting to be discovered in the first of The Raven Mysteries; Flood and Fang. 

I only pity the poor kitchen maids who keep getting eaten...