Bexhill Pictures

Caroline Mortlock, who helped to organise my event at Bexhill High School on Friday, has sent me a few pictures.  It's a new school with a very impressive lecture theatre, in which about three hundred pupils came to hear me talk.  I mostly concentrated on Mortal Engines, since that's the book they've been reading in class.  You can see Christian Bravery's painting of London on the wall behind me here - it's been oddly squished into a vertical format, but it still captures the sheer scale of London better than most I've seen...

I did a few drawings while I was talking: here I am trying to explain Shrike...

And at the end I signed books and autographs for anyone who wanted them.

All in all, it felt like a really good event, so thanks again to everyone at Bexhill who made it possible, and to all the students, who asked some very good questions.

Brighton and Bexhill

Well, this week has gone by in a whirl.  Our visit from Sarah and Stuart last week left us in a happy sort of daze ("If I had three wishes, my first wish would be that they could have stayed a bit longer," said Sam, and so say all of us) and we had to do a bit of tidying up after the Treasure Hunt we held here for the Friends of Widecombe School on Sunday afternoon.  On Tuesday and Wednesday I tried to write things but didn't get very far - I'm in that odd gap between projects at the moment, with Clovenstone/Goblins more-or-less finished and my next move not decided - and then on Thursday I was off on my travels again.  I visited Brighton for just long enough to catch Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon's latest play, Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks (read my full review here), stopped the night at David Mounfield's house in Lewes and then whizzed off to Bexhill-on-Sea, where I talked about my life & work to some of the pupils at Bexhill High School, and had a tour of their very fancy new school building, which is all learning pods and heart spaces, but still has a library - hooray!

Many thanks to Karen Randall for organising my visit (and giving me a lift from Lewes) and to all the other members of staff who showed me around, and had obviously worked hard to organise things.  The children have been working on Mortal Engines in class (sorry, 'pod') and had some good questions to ask; there were some nice model traction cities laid about, too.  If I can get some photos of the event I'll post them soon.  Meanwhile, here's  one from the illustration workshop I did with Sarah McIntyre at Sam's school last week.

Tall Tales & Short Stories

A lovely busy weekend, walking and drawing on the moor with Sarah McIntyre: here we are sketching in the drizzle at Leather Tor Bridge while long-suffering spouses, son and dog hung around waiting.

In other news, I've done an interview Tracy Ann Baines for her blog Tall Tales and Short Stories.  Tracy asks some very good questions, so hopefully there are some things here which I haven't covered in previous interviews; even if I have, her blog is well worth following anyway as it's a treasure-trove of interviews and advice for anyone who likes reading or writing children's and YA fiction.

At Home with the Reeves


We've been invaded this week by Sarah McIntyre and her husband Stuart.  She did an event yesterday at Sam's school, which I'll post a full account of here as soon as I have the photos uploaded.  Sam came home all inspired, and has been busy drawing comics ever since...

Yesterday we walked up to Bonehill Rocks and over to Holwell Lawn to see the Bluebells...

 Today we took a longer walk up the valley to Natsworthy and then back over Hameldown.  Along the way we stopped to do drawings of King Tor.  Here's Sarah's:

And here's mine:

Sci Fi in Cambridge

It was strange to return to Cambridge on Wednesday.  I spent two and a half years there, from Sept 1985 to the summer of 1988, while I was studying illustration at CCAT (which has now taken to calling itself Anglia Ruskin University, possibly in an attempt to throw off its association with the likes of me).  Anyway, I stepped off the train expecting to be assailed by old memories, but oddly enough nothing  felt that familiar.  Its not just that all the shops have changed, as shops do; it's simply that very little about the place actually impressed itself on my memory.  I remember being vaguely miserable for two and a half years and then fleeing to Brighton in Andrew MacCallum's Morris Minor, Boris.  At that point I think I deleted the Cambridge Years from my memory banks.  I wandered around like a tourist for a bit, then took refuge in the Pickerel Inn with That Sarah McIntyre, her friend Bridget, Edge Chroniclers Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart, Manga queen Emma Viecelli, and Dave Shelton, an alumnus of the same CCAT course as me and a much better illustrator (check out his comic Good Dog Bad Dog - it's one of Sam's favourites).

Anyway, one of the changes which has befallen the city is that the Heffers chain of bookshops, which used to bestride it like a collossus (and where I worked for a few months, in the Paperbacks and Video dept, which was regarded as worryingly cutting-edge in the '80s) has dwindled to a single shop on Trinity Street.  Luckily it's a very big and well-stocked bookshop, and on Wednesday night its excellent staff hosted an event so jam-packed with sci-fi and fantasy writin' talent that, as Miss Mcintyre says,  it might as well have been a whole festival.  Unfortunately I never had a chance to speak to most of these luminaries, but that was for the very good reason that there were lots of readers to talk to  (always a relief, for I still remember some of the early signings I did when it was Just Me).   But I did manage to talk briefly to Alex Scarrow of Time Riders fame, Australian fantasy goddess and Geraldine McCaughrean look-alike Trudi Canavan (who was stopping in Cambridge on the first leg of a lengthy European book tour) and new Scholastic author Moira Young, whose debut novel Blood Red Road is already attracting some dazzling reviews.   I also met Ian Whates, whose space opera The Noise Within I've just started reading, and Sophia McDougall, whose modern-day Roman Empire novel Romanitas I've been meaning to read for ages (a copy is on order now).  Sarah has already read it, and was quite overcome to discover she was sitting next to its authoress at dinner...

China Mieville came over to say hello, and was totally charming, despite looking like the sort of chap you'd usually see giving Mad Max a hard time.  I suppose if you're a science fiction writer it's a good thing to look as if you come from the future.  (Needless to say, I still look as if I'm running for the last tram in 1929.)  I'll definitely be ordering up some of China's books as well, particularly his latest, Embassytown.

We all took turns to talk about our work and read a bit, and when we weren't busy doing that we were signing and chatting to... is fans the word?  It seems a bit dismissive, somehow.  I was very pleased to meet a few Facebook friends ; Joseph Hammett, Dana McConkey and Natasha Footman, who were all LOVELY.  And towards the end of the evening someone I do remember from my student days arrived, in the form of Helen Patterson, who once had to stand on a chair with a teapot on her head as part of some Z-grade comedy sketch what I wrote (but she claims to have forgiven me...).   

So in the end a very nice time was had by all, and maybe I won't let another twenty three years go by before I return to Cambridge. 

(You can read more on this whole thing over at Sarah McIntyre's blog, which is where I pinched all these nice pictures from.)

Scrivener's Moon Wordled

Wordle is a toy that creates decorative 'word clouds' out of chunks of text which you provide, and is an invaluable resource for idle writers looking for new ways to waste time when they should be working.  Here's what it made of the first two chapters of the latest Fever Crumb adventure, Scrivener's Moon...

Bluebell Time

The bluebells are out on Dartmoor, and they don't just grow in the shade of the woods, bout in great swathes on open hillsides, which I don't recall ever seeing in other parts of the country.  Holwell Lawn, not far from our house, is crammed with bluebell-spotters at the moment.  We managed to get it to ourselves this weekend just long enough for Sarah to take these pictures...

Science Fiction and Fantasy Evening at Heffers

Just a quick update about the Science Fiction and Fantasy event I'll be taking part in at Heffers Bookshop, Trinity Street, Cambridge this coming Wednesday (11th May).  Doors open at 6.30pm, and I'll be doing a short talk about Mortal Engines, Scrivener's Moon etc at 7pm.  I'll then be staying till 9pm to meet readers and sign books.  The other authors attending will also be giving talks through the course of the evening, and the timetable should run something like this:

6.30 pm: Ian Whates, (The Noise Within and The Noise Revealed).

6.45 pm: Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles, Wyrmweald, etc).

7.00 pm: Philip Reeve (Who he?)

7.15 pm: Alex Scarrow (Time Riders)

7.30 pm: Peter F. Hamilton (The Void trilogy)

7.45 pm: Trudi Canavan (The Black Magicians trilogy)

8.00 pm: Moira Young (Her debut novel, Blood Red Road, will be published by Scholastic later this year.)

8.15 pm: Jasper Kent (The Danilov Quintet).

8.30 pm: Stephen Erikson (The Malazan Book of the Fallen).

9.00 pm: China Mieville (UnLun Dun,  The City & The City, Arthur C Clarke Award magnet).

Hope to see you there!

BristolCon 2011

When I was a teenager in Brighton the 'EasterCon' science fiction convention was held at the Hotel Metropole a couple of times, and I went along with my best friend Justin Hill.  We had a great time oohing and aahing over illustrations in the art show, watching movies, and mingling with proper grown-up writers and artists.  What with one thing and another (mainly me being too snooty to admit to liking sci-fi in my twenties) I haven't been to a convention since, but all that is about to change:  I've just signed up for BristolCon '11, a one day event to be held in Bristol (the clue is in the name) on October 22nd.  I've always heard good things about BristolCon, so I'm looking forward to seeing it for myself.  Hopefully I'll be sitting in on some panel discussions, and selling and signing some books.  

More details as they become available, but if you're interested you can learn more about BristolCon on the official website, or on the Facebook page.  Membership is just £15 until 31st May (rising to £20 thereafter and £25 on the door).

Scrivener's Moon and The Twilight of the Poo Goblins

Scrivener's Moon has been picking some very good reviews. Many thanks to Julia Eccleshare at Lovereading 4kids ("A fabulous new adventure..."),Rhys Jones at Thirst For Fiction ("probably the novel closest to the original Mortal Engines series we’ve had from the prequel series so far") and Tim Knight at HeroPress, who has got hold of the idea that Scrivener's Moon is the last we'll be seeing of Fever Crumb and her adventures - though he seems to think it's a pretty good farewell. 

I hope Tim won't be disappointed to learn that Fever will be back for at least one more book.  It was always my intention that there would be four Fever books, because it seemed important that if you placed them on one end of a seesaw and the original Mortal Engines quartet on the other, they would balance each other.  

However, Tim's right to suppose that I'm working on other stories and other worlds too: this morning I delivered a final draft of my fantasy novel to Scholastic, who will be publishing it next spring.  Its title at the moment is Clovenstone, and ancient and mythically resonant name which I stole off the destination board of an Edinburgh bus - but the publishing industry is always looking for more marketable titles these days, so by the the time it hits the shelves it will probably be called Twilight of the Poo Goblins or something.  I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and I keep forgetting to put the 'other' Scrivener's Moon cover on here: the funky non-illustrative one which adorns the large-format paperback.  So here it is:

A Prize-Winning Larklight Letter by George Fernandes

10-year-old George Fernandes has been in touch to tell me about the Royal Mail Young Letter Writers Competition which he won with a letter based on my Larklight books.  You can read more about George here, and this is the text of his winning entry:

Dear Daddy,
Since leaving Earth to go to my outerspace pen pal’s party I have been on a perilous adventure which took all my courage and cunning. What was my adventure?  Well, on my way to my pen pal’s party my ship crashlanded on a desolate planet.  I was the sole survivor.  At first I thought I was going to die but these people and aliens rescued me.  On board their ship I asked them what they were doing.  They told me that their mission was to track down a gigantic Galaxian Bull Worm which was destroying the universe.  After explaining their mission they asked me if I wanted to help them.  I said yes, but on one condition, that they fix my ship.  “Agreed,” they said, and we set off.
On the way we stopped at some planets and asked if the worm had been seen but nobdody had.  We finally reached the last planet in the quadrant.  Mushroom-like aliens told us that they saw the worm flying around a nearby asteroid.  As quick as lightning we set off to fight the worm.  As we approached the asteroid a long silhouette passed in front of it.  We knew it was the worm.  The asteroid was a wasteland, nothing in sight but rocks.  Suddenly out of nowhere the giant worm lunged at us, but it just missed.  The atmosphere was tense, everybody was waiting for the worm to return.  Aggressively the worm tried to snatch us.  Its teeth were knives glistening in the pale light.  The roar of gun fire filled the air.  As the worm passed me I clung on to its silky skin and hauled myself onto its neck where I sliced through its throat.

The worm came crashing down, dead.  I jumped to safety and my crewmates gathered around me singing in joy.  Within minutes the whole universe knew and celebrated wildly.  My ship was repaired and sadly I said goodbye to my new friends.  Now I am returning home and am looking forwards to seeing you and Mum.  Unfortunately I missed my pen pal’s party, but there’s always next year!
Love from George.

Illustration: David Wyatt