• Out today – The Chocolate Factory Ghost!

    Finally – it’s out and in the shops! It’s feels like I’ve been talking about this book for years. It’s great to know people can now actually read The Chocolate Factory Ghost for themselves. Do buy it from your local bookshop if you can.

    Huge thanks to my publishers Bloomsbury (editors Ellen Holgate and Lucy Mackay-Sim,  publicist Lizz Skelly and team) for guiding the book into the world, and thanks of course to Claire Powell for the fab illustrations that brought the world of the Dundoodle Mysteries to life.

    It’d be great to hear what people think – if you’ve bought the book, a review on Amazon is always helpful.

    If you tweet or Instagram a picture of yourself with the book, I’ll send you a  nice, shiny signed bookmark. Just tag your pic with #DundoodleMysteries so I can find it.

  • Chocolate Factory Ghost Preview

    There’s less than a month until The Chocolate Factory Ghost is out in the shops, and I’ll be posting some special things here in the run up to its release.

    Firstly, how about a preview of the insides of the book? Bloomsbury, my publishers,  have put the first four chapters online, including Claire Powell‘s wonderful illustrations, so you can have a sneak peek.

    The Chocolate Factory Ghost is published on April 5th (though I expect it will be in shops before then). All the info is here, including some lovely reviews.

  • Bloomsbury Fiction Showcase

    Last night, a clutch of slightly apprehensive authors faced the press, librarians, book buyers and bloggers at a comedy club in central London to talk about their new books, and I was privileged to be amongst them, talking about The Chocolate Factory Ghost.

    It was a bit nerve-wracking, as we had a five minute time-limit to talk. It felt like were on the Dragons’ Den TV show, but the Bloomsbury Kids’ Fiction Showcase was thankfully filled with friendly, supportive people.

    My general aim for these kind of events is ‘don’t look like an imbecile’ and I think I did ok. It was nice chatting to everyone afterwards too.

    Here’s a couple more pics from some audience members:

    Me with Katherine Rundell, James Campbell, Mark Powers, Laura James, librarian Georgiana Martincu, A.F. Harrold, Sibéal Pounder and Jo Simmons.

    Thanks to the good folk at Bloomsbury for organising a fun evening.

  • NEWSFLASH! Archie McBudge & the Summer Reading Challenge

    I’m thrilled that even though it’s not even been published, The Chocolate Factory Ghost is going to be part of 2018’s Summer Reading Challenge!

    The Summer Reading Challenge gets three quarters of a million children into libraries to keep up their reading skills and confidence during the long holidays. Here’s what organisers the Reading Agency‘s website says:

    The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read six books during the long summer holiday.

    There is a different theme each year. Children can read whatever they like – fact books, joke books, picture books, audio books – just as long as they are borrowed from the library.

    Children receive special rewards each time they finish a book and there’s a certificate for everyone who completes the Challenge.

    The Summer Reading Challenge is open to all primary school aged children and is designed for all reading abilities. Schools work with local libraries and give out information to encourage children to take part, and most libraries run Summer Reading Challenge linked early years activity for pre-schoolers.

    This year’s theme is ‘Mischief Makers’ and The Chocolate Factory Ghost is one of seventy titles that children have to choose from.  It’s really exciting that lots of readers will get the chance to discover Archie McBudge’s adventures through their local library. You might just be able to make out the book’s cover in the image above, even though it’s not been officially approved!

    The full book list for older children can be found here. I’ll be talking about this much more in 2018, and on that cheery note I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

  • Book proofs

    I had a lovely parcel from my publisher Bloomsbury today: book proofs!

    These are a test print run so that the publisher gets an idea of what the book might look like when it’s printed. The cover and illustrations aren’t completed, but it’s a chance to check for mistakes in the text amongst other things. Copies are sent to reviewers and potential buyers so they can get an advance look. Marketing is everything!

    Bloomsbury also sent me a genuine McBudge Fudge bar, made in the Dundoodle Chocolate Factory! Fabulous – it made my day.


  • Quick post

    To St. Paul’s cathedral for the very touching memorial service for Paddington creator Michael Bond.

    BBC article here.

    Video from (unfortunately) the vile Daily Mail:

  • Coming soon…

    It’s still a bit early to talk about this, but my new fiction series (illustrated by Claire Powell) has made an appearance in Bloomsbury Children’s Books online catalogue for the first half of next year.

    [Click on the image for a slightly more readable version of the catalogue.]

    I’ll be posting more information when I can (and as usual, the book will have its own page on my website) 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.

  • Quick post

    Visiting One Blackfriars for #openhouse #blog

    A post shared by David O’Connell (@davidoconnell.uk) on

    ETA: One Blackfriars is a new residential tower on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge. It’s unfinished but will be about fifty stories tall when complete. Apartments will cost from £1-23 million. The views along the Thames are worth quite a bit in their own right.

  • Quick Post

    Last night I went to the launch for Katherina Mannolessou‘s Look for Ladybird in Plant City at Gosh! Comics in London.

    It’s a gorgeous-looking book. Above is author Katherina giving a speech with editor Kate Davies (left) of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

    Molly Jamieson and Emily Talbot from United Agents, with authors Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah McIntyre.

    An interior of the book (click for a bigger version) – so much work! It’s amazing. Congrats, Katerina!

  • Happy Book Birthday: Boyband of the Apocalypse!

    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!

  • Quick Post

    Sunshine through the mailbox today: advance copies of Boyband of the Apocalypse!