I’m so bad at taking photos. All the latest HD tech cannot help when you’re the type of person who always has your finger over the lens. So I’m not much good when it comes to reporting on events. Here’s a couple of recent ones:
Book buddies Gary Northfield and Alex Milway had a joint party at the fab Tales on Moon Lane children’s bookshop for their latest books, Julius Zebra: Entangled with the Egyptians and Pigsticks & Harold Lost in Time, respectively. These gents are such great writers and put on a hilarious show. If the photos are blurry, it’s because I’m laughing as much as anything else. Baked goods were included (always welcome).
And Laura Ellen Anderson had a magnificent party for her new series Amelia Fang. It was held in the crypt of St Pancras’ Church and everyone was suitably dressed in a Halloweeny style. The first book is already doing marvellously, thanks in part to being selected as Waterstones’ Book of the Month for October. Congrats, Lil!
[Click on the image for a slightly more readable version of the catalogue.]
I’ll be posting more information when I can but for now, I’m keeping my fingers/toes/other bits crossed for October’s Frankfurt Book Fair, where I’m hoping some foreign publishers will be interested in buying rights.
It’s the publication day for Boyband of the Apocalypse by Tom Nicoll! It was my pleasure to do the illustrations, with fabulous design help from Sophie Bransby of Stripes. The whole project was a lot of fun to work on.
Here’s the blurb:
When Sam agrees to take his little sister, Lexie, to see the world’s most popular boy band, Apocalips, he expects it to be bad. But he doesn’t expect to get locked in a cupboard, to overhear the band plotting to destroy the world and to witness them disintegrate one of their own members. When no one believes him but his best friend, Milo, Sam is left with no option but to take part in a contest to join the band to try and save the world from Armageddon. To do this Sam will have to become someone he’s never been before. With help from Milo and Lexi, he’ll have to overcome the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, pop Svengali Nigel Cruul, a dodgy haircut, and his complete inability to sing or dance. Still, it’s not the end of the world. Not yet anyway.
And here’s one of the interior illustrations (and my favourite): Apocalips on stage!
All the information for BOTA is here. Go buy and make Tom a happy man!
Here’s what has been happening with me for the first part of this year.
When I’m a Mummy Like You!, the picture booked created by me and Francesca Gambatesa was released into the wild in February! We had a launch party at Gosh! Comics in Soho to celebrate (pic by Sarah McIntyre). It’s also out now in the US as When I’m a Mommy Like You! You can read a lovely review at Bookblog Book Monsters here. Francesca spotted the book in Foyles window as part of a Mother’s Day display.
Meanwhile, I finished the illustrations for Tom Nicoll‘s Boyband of the Apocalypse that’s out in June, and I’m pleased to say there’s a sequel on the cards which I’ll also be drawing. I’m looking forward to that, as I really enjoyed working on Boyband.
In March I had another big event at Leicester Author Week, organised by Whatever It Takes, an initiative to encourage reading within the city. I gave a talk to two sets of school children – about 400 children in all – about my work, followed by creative writing workshops. It was a busy day, but a lot of fun! Thanks to WIT for organising it, probably the best organised event I’ve been invited to. (Pic by WIT)
World Book Day (or at least, the UK version!) is in March and it always pleases me to see how many people dress up as Jampires, year after year. Here are some pics that appeared on Twitter:
Currently, I’m working on the edits for the first book of my novel series with Bloomsbury books, which comes out next year. An illustrator has been chosen and I’m very excited about the whole thing. Fingers crossed that other people like it too!
2016 is rapidly coming to its end and most people seem to be quite happy about that, as far as I can tell. It’s been a bit of a bumpy one, current affairs-wise, but 2017 promises more of the same. Let’s hope that cooler, wiser heads will prevail and that it’s not too troublesome.
For me, the second half of 2016 (as it’s been that long since I updated this blog!) was quiet, book-wise. I was focused almost entirely on writing, something that makes me very happy! I can report that the first draft of the first of my two books for Bloomsbury has been handed in, and I’m awaiting the editorial verdict. I’m expecting lots of red pen as even I could see the flaws of this draft, but I’m looking forward to fixing things up with my editors’ help. I love the world I’ve created in this book and really enjoyed writing it, in spite of a few uneven sentencesparagraphs chapters. I have to finish this book and hand in the first draft of the second book by June next year, so I’m expecting the first six months of 2017 to be spent tapping away on a keyboard…
…apart from January/February, when I’ll be working on the illustrations for this book written by Tom Nicoll. It’s very funny and I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty on the drawings. There are some great, quirky characters in it, which are always very satisfying to do. More info on that when I’m allowed to show it.
The last Creature Teacher book was published in July. It’s now out in six languages (English, Turkish, Danish, Slovak, Hungarian and Vietnamese) which is very pleasing.
Jampires has become something of a Hallowe’en book – not quite what Sarah McIntyre and I intended, but I love hearing about little Jampires turning up at costume parties in October – there are more and more each year!
On the subject of Jampires, here is Mrs Coventry from St Joseph’s School in Keighley, Yorkshire, reading the book aloud for us:
A very impressive performance! I went to a workshop for children’s writers in October on how to inject a bit of drama into book presentations so I’m hoping my reading skills have buffed up a bit. It was hosted by the Golden Egg Academy who mentor up-and-coming authors through the writing and publication process. It was an excellent day and the Golden Eggers are a lovely bunch of people too. I’ve a big couple of presentations in March (among other things) where I need to step up my showbiz side a bit more.
My most recent public gig was at the brilliant Brentwood Children’s Literature Festival back in July, organised by Natasha and Jim at the Chicken & Frog Bookshop. It was very well-organised for a first-time festival and there was a great crowd at the Brentwood theatre to see me do my Monster & Chips comic-making spiel. Some fab comics came out of it too, my favourite being about a prince and princess who meet, fall in love… and are eaten by a giant fly. (Pic below by Natasha.)
Here are some more monster-y drawings that have been sent my way – firstly, this fearsome chap who comes with his own specials board (I love this colour combination!):
And also this brilliant comic featuring Fuzzby and pals (a couple of years old but which I only just found out about):
Last, but definitely not least, I’m very excited about the next book from me and the amazing Francesca Gambatesa: When I’m A Mummy Like You! It’s out in early February (just in time for Mothering Sunday in the UK) and a bit later in the US – where it’s called When I’m A Mommy Like You! (obviously).
I can’t get over how super Francesca’s art is! She’s done such a wonderful job with my rhyming nonsense and I hope people love it! There’ll be a launch party at some point which I’ll post about here when we’ve firmed up the details.
I’m going to be offline for the rest of the year but have lots of plans for 2017 so will be back refreshed and recharged in January.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful 2017!
It was great seeing When I’m A Monster Like You, Dad! in various shop windows over the Father’s Day weekend. It’s going down well in the U.S., apparently, and everyone wants to know what Francesca will do for the illustrations for our second book together (including me). There will be a wait, I’m afraid, as that’s not out until early next year. However, you can colour in some of her illustrations with these lovely activity sheets she made, available on my activity page.
I will be at the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival next month, and in the run up to that I’m taking part in the Brentwood Art Trail. Some of my illustrations are in the window of the wonderful Chicken and Frog Bookshop, who are organisers of the festival. I’ll be running a writing workshop on the 29th July so do come along.
Meanwhile, I’m super-excited about a new book deal which means I’ll be writing a couple of books for an older age group (9-12 years) than my usual 7-10 years. It doesn’t sound like a big age gap but there’s quite a leap in reading ability in that time. Monster & Chips was about twelve thousand words in all, these will be about thirty thousand words long: loads more to write but loads more to play with, developing characters and exploring new worlds. It’s going to be a real challenge but I’m so looking forward to it, especially as I’ll have an editor holding my hand along the way. The first book won’t be out until 2018 but I can’t wait to see what people think.
Happy book birthday to us! Francesca Gambatesa and I have a new picture book in the shops today (and if you’re on the USA, it’s been out for a month already!).
When I’m a Monster Like You, Dad! is about a little monster who wants to be just like his dad: BIG and BAD! But Daddy Monster just wants little monster to have fun. The words are by me and the beautiful artwork is by Francesca. I’m thrilled with how it looks! It’s been a long-timing coming (I wrote the text in 2013) but it’s great to see it finally in the shops -just in time for Father’s Day (June 19th).
We had a launch party at the wonderful Gosh! Comic Shop in London last Friday. Lots of people turned up and I did a dramatic reading of the book! It was a lot of fun – thank you to every one that came along, and thank you to Gosh! for being such good hosts.
Francesca made some goody-bags with little note-cards and badges in. So cool!
Here’s me and Francesca, with monster ears, proudly holding our book baby (taken by Sarah McIntyre):
There are a load of other great photos from the night here, taken by Gosh!’s resident photographer, Mauricio Molizane De Souza. Here’s one of us signing some books (fascinating fact: it was the first time Francesca and I had actually met!):
All the buying information can be found here. Francesca and I will be at Village Books in Dulwich on Sunday 11th June at 11am for a story-telling session, and we’ll be making Father’s Day cards too, so do come along if you’re around. Toot-a-loo!
Firstly, lovely letters. Here’s a drawing from Theo, aged 7, a Monster & Chips reader. He’s drawn a brilliant monster with a snot-burger and chips. Great use of colours, too. You can almost smell the fart!
I also had a very nice letter from Charlie, which was beautifully written, so I’ve taken extra care with my reply. Charlie, from St Bede’s School in Weaverham, said the Barry the cat was his favourite character in Monster & Chips so here’s a little picture of Barry that I drew at the bottom of the letter.
Recently, I finished the illustrations for the last Creature Teacher book. It’s a great series and I was over the moon when the first book won the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award! Woohoo! I couldn’t be more pleased for writer Sam Watkins as it was her first published book.
Freshmade NYC are a cooking and craft studio that run cookery sessions for kids in New York City. They have a storybook cooking class, which sounds like a fab idea, and recently ran a Jampires doughnut making session! Here’s a pic from their Instagram feed:
Banana doughnuts! Yum.
What am I up to at the moment? I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately and a few weeks back finished a manuscript for a book idea that I’m really hopeful will prove to be publisher-friendly. It’s doing the rounds of publishers right now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and praying to the book gods that it works out.
I’m also working on a window artwork display for the nice people at Chicken & Frog bookshop in Brentwood. I visited them a couple of years back and am doing an event for the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival which they are organising. It’s not something I’ve done before so it’s very exciting.
In the meantime, When I’m A Monster Like You, Dad! is out in the shops very soon! My advance copies arrived from the publisher today. Illustrator Francesca Gambatesa and I are hosting a launch event at Gosh! Comics in London on the evening of May 27th – all are welcome, so do come along if you can and say hello (and buy a book!).
A second book of Sam Watkin‘s Creature Teacher series came out in August with me on art duties again. Creature Teacher Goes Wild is set at a theme park which meant lots of fun things to draw. Here’s a bit when Mr Hyde and the gang are on their way to Wilf’s Wild Adventure Theme Park – it gets messy pretty soon afterwards:
There’s another Creature Teacher book out very soon – next week in fact! Creature Teacher Science Shocker introduces a new character who’s more than a match for Creature – but who is it?
The fourth CT book is due out in July and I’ll be drawing the illos for that any day – can’t wait to get started!
CT is also coming out in Turkish which is very exciting. I love seeing books I’m involved with coming out in different languages!
Speaking of foreign editions, JAMPIRES is going to be coming out in Korean which should be really interesting to see as it’s such an attractive written language. My fab co-author, Sarah McIntyre, and I donned our Jampire gear for a spooky Hallowe’en window-painting session at the wonderful GOSH! Comics in London back in October.
It’s very hard to paint on glass, never mind back-to front. I’ve borrowed these photos from GOSH’s Facebook page – they’re both taken by Mauricio Molizane De Souza and there’s plenty more of his ace work to be seen there too.
We talked about our books – all of them funny books – having visited the schools involved in the previous weeks to see what kind of funny stories they could come up with themselves.
It had to be one of the hottest days of the year – not a day to be dressed up as a lion fighting a zebra Roman gladiator.
Yes, dear reader, that is me in the furry onesie, having taken on gladiator Gary, and in the middle of my (very dramatic) death throes. A career highlight.
Finally, I’ve recently got to see the artwork for When I’m a Monster Like You, Dad!, the picture book I wrote that is being illustrated by Francesca Gambatesa. It’s been ages coming (for publisher scheduling reasons) and I was over the moon to see the final images. Francesca’s done such a great job so I couldn’t be more happy!
The second book in our collaboration is in production now and will be out next year some time, but WIMLY (as I call it) is out in the beginning of June – just in time for Father’s Day. I’ll be talking a lot more about this before then, but here is one spread from inside just to whet the appetite:
Now: time to look forward to the challenges of 2016. Onwards!
Madame Picque recently emailed me from the Collège Romain Rolland of Waziers in northern France to say that she had been using my ‘Create Your Own Monster’ sheet as a way of teaching her English class physical descriptions. What a great idea!
Here are some of the results, they’re all wonderful but I think Nathan‘s monster ‘Georges’ was my favourite (see if you can spot him)!
Thank you to Mme Picque for letting me know – I’m sending a drawing of my own monster to the school in return:
I get lots of emails from readers in the Netherlands who have to do book reports for school – it sounds like it’s quite a common thing to do. Students have to find out about the book’s authors as well as telling their classmates about the story. I’m quite happy to answer questions as it’s always nice to know that people like your book enough to tell others about it.
I don’t often get to hear how the book reports go, so was very pleased to hear back from Philippe (aged 8) who was awarded a 9 for his report! I’m not surprised, as he included a monstrous menu of his own making:
Blood Soup with Living Human Eyes
Hamburger with Dead Cricket
Pizza of Darkness (the title of the second Monstersnackbar book)
That is the scariest pizza I’ve seen in quite a while. I think I’d stick to the hamburger.
Philippe also included a menu made by one of his classmates.
Dung Beetles with chips
Frog Legs with chips
Lion’s Eyeballs with (large) chips
Zombie Cupcakes with Icing and chips
Beetles with chips
Very tasty! I love the little illustrations that go with the food, just like the menus in the Monster & Chips (De Monstersnackbar in Dutch) books.