This is the first post for a while, because I've been Away. On Monday 12th I flew to Dublin, taking Sarah and Sam along with me, and they spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning looking around the city while I did my best to publicise A Web of Air (available now folks, in all good bookshops.) I don't like cities, but Dublin seems a nice one; broad streets, big parks, fine architecture, and more barbers' shops than I think I've ever seen in one place - clearly having a haircut is a very popular pastime in Ireland. And the sun shone, which I gather isn't typical Dublin weather.
Tuesday started early with an interview on breakfast television, which seemed to hurtle by but which I'm told lasted a good eight or ten minutes - if only British TV would give time like that to children's authors. Then off to Trinity College. Their annual Trinity Week was in progress, and as part of it Children's Books Ireland had some lucky school groups bussed in to hear me talk about my work along with two fellow authors, Oisin McGann and Conor Kostick. Oisin McGann seems to be the Irish Philip Reeve (or maybe I'm the English Oisin McGann) in that he's another illustrator turned steampunkish YA author (although he's written many books for younger readers too); Conor Kostick is a steely left-wing academic who also finds time to write popular and highly acclaimed sci-fi adventures for teens. It was a pleasure to meet both of them, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading their books.
I was back at Trinity in the early evening for an event with Robert Dunbar, the Merlin of Irish children's books, a fascinating man whose love and enthusiasm for children's literature is inspiring. We had a long conversation in front of a small audience, during which he (and they) asked many perceptive questions about my books and didn't mention any of their manifest flaws, which is always a relief. Then off to a posh upper room for a small reception at which A Web of Air was officially launched; I suppose I should have said a few words to mark the occasion, but as I'd been up since dawn and talking all day I left that to Marion, my editor, who of course did it very well.
On Wednesday morning Alex from Scholastic led me off on a brisk tour of Dublin's bookshops, where I signed lots of copies of my books, and then to lunch and an interview with Jane Carroll for Inis magazine; another perceptive questioner with a deep knowledge of children's books. Hopefully my answers were of interest, although I was feeling a bit tired by then so we'll have to see how it turns out...
And meanwhile Sam and Sarah toured Dublin by open topped bus, went round the Guinness factory, played on St Stephen's Green and shopped for folk music (Sarah) and T-shirts and shoelaces (Sam).