Back from a few days of refreshing seaside sun. I love Southwold!
So many different textures and tones to be seen. The coastal landscape is quite stunning.
It always helps when you’ve got decent weather, of course. Fortunately, it was a beautiful week and the town wasn’t busy, as it was the just before the summer season starts in earnest.
Back to work! I had some nice news whilst I was away – hopefully I will be able to share it soon.
I’m off for a summer break soon, escaping to the seaside from the city and its current political wailing and grinding of teeth. There is a folder filled with creative projects going with me. Past experience says they won’t even make it out of the suitcase – it’s good to do nothing sometimes. I might post some terrible snaps on Instagram, but aside from that it will be a very welcome social media-free zone.
To counteract that, here is a blog post written around other people’s Twitter photos! I may not do social media very well but I can’t deny it’s very useful.
Out and About
— Hachette Children’s (@HachetteKids) June 21, 2016
I was very privileged to be asked along to the first Lollies awards ceremony recently, hosted by TV presenters Sam & Mark, to honour the best in funny children’s books. It was a jolly event at the Lyric Theatre in the West End of London with entertainment provided by the performers of the stage show of Horrible Histories. There were even lollies for the audience – very welcome on a hot day.
This year’s winners were:
Picture Book: I Need A Wee! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet
6-8 years: Badly Drawn Beth by Knife & Packer
9-13 years: The Parent Agency by David Baddiel & Jim Field
Among the nominees was my book buddy Jamie Littler, one of the hardest working people around. He wasn’t a winner on the day, alas, but it was great to see him recognised, and to see an award for funny books to replace the late lamented Roald Dahl Funny Prize. My friend Alex Milway has done a huge amount of work with his This Book is Funny Campaign to highlight the hunger for funny books amongst children. The more attention they can get, the better!
— This Book is Funny! (@ThisBookIsFunny) June 17, 2016
— francesca gam (@francescagam) June 20, 2016
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.
— Brentwood Art Trail (@BwdArtTrail) June 21, 2016
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 – tickets are available at the above link.
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.
Now, off to pack my bucket and spade!
Last week was holiday time. I haven’t had such a good holiday in years. It was our first attempt at going on holiday with the dog so we didn’t wander too far. We rented a tiny fisherman’s cottage in Southwold, Suffolk, a few hours drive away from London.
The weather was perfect all week: sunny with a light sea breeze, so just right for lots of walking (and we did LOTS). We even managed a couple of afternoons on the beach too.
It’s a lovely part of the world – people often think of East Anglia as boring because it’s flat. And it most definitely is that.
But it’s wonderfully isolated and hugely atmospheric. Big, windswept skies; smuggler’s creeks hidden by tall, whispering reed beds; soft sun-baked sand dunes; storm-battered shingle bars; salt-bitten fishing boats and drowned towns.
There were even a few cheap but cheerful robots.
Look at those big east country skies! Whoosh!
Southwold harbour. Some great fresh fish and seafood to be bought here. A ferryman will row you across the river for 90p! Otherwise it’s a walk up to a disused railway bridge.
Lots of interesting things buried in the sand for the dog to sniff.
It was our second attempt at introducing the Treacle to the sea, but she didn’t seem that impressed. She was much more excited by the potential of sand for digging. She also had the walkies of her life. We set out early each day for a long walk through the dunes to the harbour and various other parts of the nearby countryside. She’s come back home looking a lot slimmer than when she left.
I’d like to think we have too, but there were too many cream teas, home-made cakes, ice creams, good pub food and local beer (Adnams Brewery has its home in Southwold) so I doubt that’s the case.
Do I look relaxed? Because I was. It was a wonderful week.