I’m grateful to Nazy at The Enchanted Bookcase for hosting my visit to her excellent website as part of the YA Shot 2016 blog tour.
YA Shot is an annual all-day festival for young-adult and middle-grade readers, bloggers, vloggers and aspiring writers, which is being held this year in Uxbridge, West London, on Saturday October 22nd, with more than 70 authors taking part in panel and in-conversation events, workshops and book signings. For my part, I’ll be chairing a panel discussion – “There Will Be Blood: murder and other crimes in YA” – with fellow YA writers Tanya Byrne (Heart-Shaped Bruise; Follow Me Down; For Holly) and Simon Mason (Running Girl).
The build-up to this year’s festival includes a blog tour by participating authors. My stopping-off point on the tour was The Enchanted Bookcase, a YA book reviews site, which invited me to post a blog on my switch from adult fiction to writing for teenagers. To whet your appetite, here’s the opening of the piece:
I have a former editor to thank for my first novel for teenagers – I wrote it because he advised me not to. After more than 12 years writing fiction for adults I had an idea for a story more suited to a younger audience. When I mentioned it over a pizza one day, the editor shook his head.
“You don’t want to write one of those.”
“Why not?” I asked.
He didn’t really give a reason, just shook his head again. With the teen market so buoyant, perhaps he thought I was jumping on the bandwagon, or that I wouldn’t be able to write well for that readership. Maybe he foresaw a “re-branding” problem. Whatever, I came away from that lunch feeling cross. Like any author, I resented being told what to write – or what not to write (he hadn’t even asked what the story was about!) I decided to go ahead with my YA novel and to hell with him, even if he had just paid for my pizza.
To read the full post, and to visit the rest of The Enchanted Bookcase site, please click on this link.
And follow this link for full details of the YA Shot 2016 programme.
North Yorkshire beckons this weekend with a trip to the wonderfully named Deer Shed Festival, where I’ll be rubbing shoulders with a whole host of musicians, singers, actors, comedians, storytellers, artists and other writers.
The family-focused festival, now in its seventh year, is expected to draw a crowd of up to ten thousand over three days of events in the lovely setting of Baldersby Park, between Thirsk and Ripon – 90 acres of parkland whose features include a lake, an obelisk . . . and a historic deer shed. I’ll be giving a talk and reading at 11.30am on Saturday on the Obelisk Stage, which has a capacity of 500 (eek!), followed by a book-signing.
For full details of the festival click to visit the Deer Shed website.
I’m delighted to announce that Twenty Questions for Gloria has been shortlisted for the 2017 Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. It’s the second time I’ve been in contention for this award – one of the bigger regional children’s and YA prizes – following Flip‘s shortlisting in 2012.
Gloria is competing in the “Simply the Book” category for novels aimed at readers aged 13 and upwards. Voting begins in the autumn, with hundreds of students at schools throughout the Coventry area taking part. I’m up against some excellent YA authors and some terrific books. Here’s the shortlist in full:
Eve Ainsworth – Crush
Martyn Bedford – Twenty Questions for Gloria
Moira Fowley-Doyle – The Accident Season
Nick Lake – Whisper to Me
Philip Reeve – Railhead
Dave Shelton – Thirteen Chairs
Jon Walter – My Name’s Not Friday
Matt Whyman – Bad Apple
The UK might be on its way out of the European Union but Twenty Questions for Gloria (and its author) are very much in love with Europe. This week sees the publication of the novel’s Spanish edition, Veinte preguntas para Gloria, by Montena, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in Madrid. This follows hot on the heels of the Italian edition, Tutta la verita su Gloria Ellis, which came out in June from De Agostini, in Novara, and S’Enfuir, the French edition, published in May by Nathan, in Paris.
Interestingly, each publisher went with a different cover design, as you can see. Meanwhile Gloria’s happy union with Europe continues with translated editions coming out soon in Germany and the Netherlands. Final score: Remain 5, Leave 0.
I’m not easily excited but I’m very excited by the news that Twenty Questions for Gloria has been included in The Guardian‘s Best New Children’s Books Guide for 2016. The guide, which was published with Saturday’s edition of the newspaper (June 18th), is also available in independent bookshops throughout the country to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week.
Books for children of all ages were selected and reviewed for the guide by a panel of booksellers from independent bookshops. Twenty Questions for Gloria is one of just 25 titles for teenagers included in the ‘Fiction 12+’ section, rubbing shoulders with books from the likes of former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman, best-sellers Francesca Simon and Michael Grant, and this year’s Costa Book Award winner, Frances Hardinge.
I’ll be heading up into the Highlands of Scotland later this summer to co-tutor a six-day residential course on writing for teenagers and young adults. Having taught numerous similar courses over the years for the Arvon Foundation at their centres in West Yorkshire, Shropshire and Devon, I’m very much looking forward to my first visit to Moniack Mhor, near Inverness.
My fellow tutor for the week is the excellent, edgy YA novelist Cat Clarke – author of Torn, Entangled, Undone and, most recently, The Lost and the Found – and we’re honoured to have the former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine, as guest speaker during the week.
There are still a few places left on the course, which runs from August 1st-6th, so if you fancy spending a week writing YA fiction, attending workshops, readings and one-to-one tutorials – not to mention wining and dining with other aspiring writers in a beautiful part of Scotland – then please check out the details on the flyer, above, or click on this link to the Moniack Mhor website to make a booking.
I’m clocking up the miles in the next week as I take Twenty Questions for Gloria on another mini-tour. On Thursday, I’ll be spending a day at Merchant Taylors’ School, in north London, where I’ll be giving talks and readings and running a creative writing workshop.
Then, on Saturday (June 18th), I’m at Birmingham Waterstones for a YA ‘Thrills and Chills’ panel event, sharing a stage with Cat Clarke (The Lost and the Found), M.A. Griffin (Lifers) and Sue Wallman (Lying About Last Summer). For details of this event, which starts at 6pm, please click on this link to the bookshop’s website.
The mini-tour ends closer to home next Monday (20th), with another school visit. This time I’ll be taking part in a curriculum enrichment day at Allerton High School, in Leeds, running two creative writing workshops as part of Ilkley Literature Festival’s schools programme.
I’ll be sharing a stage in Leeds tomorrow (Sun 5th) with colleagues and students from Leeds Trinity University as we join forces to put on a showcase of our creative writing. No fewer than thirteen of us will be reading at the event – five students from the current Creative Writing MA cohort (Lucy Brighton, Sophie Joelle, Lewis King, Rebecca Leeming and Liz Mistry), five recent graduates (Lynn Bauman-Milner, Caroline Bond, Gill Lambert, Maria Stephenson and Hannah Stone) and the MA’s three tutors (me, Amina Alyal and Oz Hardwick).
The readings will be mix of prose and poetry – I’ll be reading my latest short story, “The Wrong Coat”, which is included in the newly launched 2016 Leeds Trinity anthology Journeys: A Space for Words, published in May by Indigo Dreams Publishing. The event will be a celebration of the writing to have emerged from the course, which was only established in 2013 but has already seen a number of its students enjoy publication success for their poetry and short-story collections and novels.
Tomorrow’s event is part of the 2016 Leeds Big Bookend Festival: “Crossing City Limits”, and is taking place at 3.30pm at the Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, LS2 7DY (just behind the bus station.) Admission is free. For the full Big Bookend programme please follow this link to the festival website.
I’m very pleased to announce that my latest short story has been published this week in an anthology of prose and poetry by new and established writers. The story, “The Wrong Coat” – which evolved
from a creative-writing exercise – tells the tale of a man troubled by unbidden memories after he pulls on someone else’s coat when leaving a party. It has been included in Journeys: a Space for Words, the second annual anthology from Leeds Trinity University tutors, students and guest contributors. The book, edited by two of LTU’s Creative Writing MA students, Stephanie Buick and Lucy Brighton, and English lecturer and poet Oz Hardwick, has been released by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
It is available directly from the publisher via this link or from Amazon via this link.
Fresh back from a long round-trip to the Hay Festival, I’m gearing up for my next gig (much closer to home) in Horsforth.
The session at the Starlight Stage, in Hay, on Saturday morning was hugely enjoyable – a panel discussion on young adult fiction, expertly chaired by the writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn, in which I shared a platform with the novelists Eve Ainsworth, Juno Dawson and Patrice Lawrence. There were around 170 in the audience and we were busy in the book-signing tent afterwards, before being whisked to the Green Room for lunch, where we rubbed shoulders with none other than . . . Benedict Cumberbatch!
My next appearance may not be as well-attended, or star-studded, but I’m very much looking forward to headlining at Wordspace, at The Sandbar, Horsforth, on Wednesday – the monthly open-mic event run by Leeds Trinity University, where I teach creative writing. In amongst the poetry and prose performances from colleagues, students and members of the pubic, I’ll be reading extracts from my latest YA novel, Twenty Questions for Gloria. No doubt I’ll bump into Martin Freeman in the gents.