Eek! Goblins!

What with it being Hallowe'en and all, I thought this might be a good day to unveil the cover artwork for my next book, GOBLINS.  It won't be published until next April, but is already available for pre-order on where it's described thus: 

A wild world of magical creatures and heroic adventure from the extraordinary imagination of Philip Reeve. The squabbling goblins who live in the great towers of Clovenstone spend their time fighting and looting. Only clever young Skarper understands that dark magic created by a vanquished sorcerer is rising again. From the lands of men come fortune-seekers - and trolls, giants, cloud-maidens, boglins, swamp monsters, tree-warriors and bloodthirsty goblins are swept into a fabulous magical conflict to thrill all fantasy fans...

It's also, hopefully, quite funny - closer in spirit to Larklight than to my Mortal Engines or Fever Crumb books.  I think David Semple's goblins capture the tone beautifully.

(For some reason the Amazon listing describes GOBLINS as a hardback, but actually I think it's going to be a fancy, large-format paperback.)

Happy Hallowe'en!

Haunted Dartmoor

To celebrate All Hallows Eve and the recent launch of the HAUNTED anthology I've written a short piece about Dartmoor and its ghosts for BookZone.  It comes complete with some of Sarah's photographs, and a mysterious, spooky video...  Click here to read it!

A Walk in the Sunshine

This week I've been getting distracted by Instagram, which is a free app which lets you try out different filters on your iphone camera.  Basically it means that my expensive and highly sophisticated 'phone can now take the same sort of pictures I used to take on a box brownie or my mum's Polaroid when I was ten -  so what's not to like?  Here are some of the sights I passed when I walked Frodo up the hill this afternoon, in glorious October sunshine.  

Honeybag Tor

My favourite beech hedge, on the side of Hameldown

Looking towards Natsworthy...

Also this week I've been having brainstorming sessions with Sarah McIntyre about a couple of Secret Projects: here's her account, with more photographs...


Last Saturday's BristolCon was the first Science Fiction convention I've attended since I was no higher than... well, the same height I am now, I suppose, but a lot younger.

So I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I've heard a lot about comics conventions from Sarah McIntyre (a woman so glamorous that even her spots are named after Spanish royalty) and somehow I was assuming there would be lots of people dressed up in outrageous fantasy and sci-fi costumes, but there weren't.  Sarah was outraged when I texted her with this news: here's her message to the SF fans of Bristol:

I still can't believe the sci-fi fans didn't wear costumes, what a chiz and a let-down. Get with it, sci-fi people! 

So, no cosplayers, but the conference-y bit of the Ramada Hotel was filled with fans, artists and authors, and there were two programmes of discussion panels running through the day, talking about subjects which ranged from the minutiae of a writer's life - copyright, reviews, and how books turn into epics (the 'Genesis' panel) - to big picture stuff about how science became the bad guy and how science fiction has failed (and sometimes succeeded) at predicting future technology (that one was subtitled, 'Dude, Where's My Jet-Pack?')  There was also an art exhibition, including work by Jim Burns, who did the covers for some of the SF books I remember reading as a teen, and Bristol based comics and storyboards illustrator Simon Gurr.

I won't try to list all the writers and artists who attended, because I'm bound to leave some out (and I somehow managed to miss all three guests of honour; Jim Burns, Juliet McKenna and Justina Robson) but it was great to finally meet Alex Keller, whose novel Haywired has now a sequel, Rewired.  (We both contributed to the 'Genesis' panel, which suggests there are many more Wireds... to come.

The Genesis panel (image nicked from Marjorie73's Twitter, hence its superior quality).  L-R: Alex Keller, HM Castor,  Some Other Bloke, MD Lachlan, Alastair Reynolds.

After the panel I did a brief reading from Scrivener's Moon, which seemed to go over all right.  Kian Momtahan was in the audience, and let me take a picture of the note he made while I was reading. If only this motto could be embroidered on samplers and hung on the wall of every home in the land:

Kian's friend Tomas L. Martin is a writer who has published acclaimed short stories in a number of magazines, and also in the new collection Transtories, which was being launched at BristolCon.

Here I am with another member of the Genesis panel,  author H.M. Castor, attending her first convention, and promoting VIII, a YA historical novel about Henry VIII with fantasy elements. 

As you can see, my photos haven't come out very well - they were taken on my 'phone, which doesn't have a flash and didn't seem able to cope with the hotel lighting.   So I don't have my own photos of the rest of the panel; Alastair Reynolds, MD Lachlan and moderator Cheryl Morgan.  Nor do I have a snap of Tim Maughan, whose reading from his new collection of Cyberpunky short stories Paintwork was very impressive, and prompted me to buy it in memory-stick form (futuristic or WHAT?)  I also came home with a copy of The Recollection by Gareth L. Powell.

Operating the dodgy phone-cam was Jeremy Levett, friend of the WoME and my chief military advisor and unlikely tracked vehicle consultant.  Jeremy's family (who are LOVELY) live in Bristol, so I stayed at their house and took him along with me to be my minion for the day.  He was such a good minion that I may have to up-grade him to henchman, and he might make it all the way to sidekick if he plays his cards right.  He was wearing a red shirt, which has unfortunate connotations in sci-fi circles, being the uniform worn by those crewmen of the starship Enterprise whom the scriptwriters deemed expendable. I think we were all quite concerned for his safety, especially when he chose to sit in the front row for Mike Shevdon's talk on archery, but happily he emerged un-pincushioned.

The archery talk itself was excellent, dealing with the use of bows and arrows in fantastic literature, and revealing a lot of things I didn't know about how they work.  Here's Mike demonstrating how to pull a composite recurved bow (I think).

After that we were a bit panelled-out, so retired to the bar, where I talked to lots of charming and erudite people, including Shana Worthen of the British Science Fiction Association, and writers Dolly Garland, E.J.Newman and  Kim Lakin-Smith, whose new novel Cyber Circus I'm looking forward to reading. And then there was a QUIZ, which I didn't mean to enter, but somehow did, and it turned out to be Fun After All; we were lucky enough to have Iain Cairns on our team, and thanks to his startling recall of obscure SF facts we came second - and would have come first if I'd been able to identify the poster for Dark City and hadn't cast doubt on Iain's (actually quite correct) hunch that the planet Babylon 5 orbits is called Epsilon Eridani.  

Anyway, it was a very good day, full of meetings with lovely and interesting people, and a triumph of organisation on the part of chair Jo Hall and the committee - Andy Bigwood, Cheryl Morgan, MEG Broadribb, Heather Ashley, Roz Clarke, Mark Robinson and Sam Pearson.  If you're in the west of England on 20th October next year you should get yourself along to BristolCon 2012.  I'll be there for sure.  (Though you might not want me on your quiz team...)

A happy redshirt survives another day...

Manchester and Cheltenham and Goblins and Librarians...

Suddenly I'm busy!  I've been putting the finishing touches to GOBLINS (out next April), writing a new book for the following year, and also working on a couple of smaller projects which I shall tell you about soon.  Meanwhile, I have an autumn of events lined up.  Unfortunately I have so many events that I can't find time to blog about them!  

It's already nearly two weeks since I went up to London to attend the School Librarian of the Year Award, in the middle of that startling October heatwave.  I'm glad I was only presenting the award rather than actually judging it, because I would have found it very difficult to choose between the three finalists, all of whom run fantastic school libraries and are clearly inspiring whole armies of young readers.  The winner in the end was Carol Webb from Forest Hill School in London.  You can see her holding her award in the middle of this picture (taken by celebrity gatecrasher Sarah McIntyre, who later kidnapped me).

Then last week I travelled up to Salford to visit Salford City Academy, where I talked about my work and made the students do some work of their own in the form of some quick writing exercises - not the sort of thing I usually do, but it seemed to go down all right, and the students produced some very good pieces.  Many thanks to librarian Debbie Wilkinson for inviting me.

Then it was on to Cheltenham, which is in the grip of its annual Literary Festival at the moment.  I did an event to an audience of about 525 pupils from various schools in the area, and then hung around the Writers' Room doing some Writing and helping myself to free coffee.  Here's a picture of Alex Sedgwick, my lovely publicist from Scholastic, and Jane Churchill, who organises the children's events at Cheltenham. (It's a bit out of focus 'cos I took it on my Fancy New Phone).

(I also had two pieces of good news about GOBLINS last week, but I'd better not tell you those yet, either.  Here, however, is a sneak peek of just a tiny detail the brilliant cover artwork...)

And next weekend the merriment and rail travel continues when I head off to BristolCon.  If you're going, I hope to meet you there.  If not, tickets are still available...

A Web of Air

Hello America!  A WEB OF AIR, the second book in the Fever Crumb sequence, is published in the USA today!

The story follows Fever Crumb as she travels with the Persimmon's travelling theatre to Mayda, a city built in a volcanic crater somewhere off the coast of present-day Portugal.  There, needless to say, she becomes embroiled in danger and intrigue.  Here's the trailer that I commissioned from Ian Forster when the UK edition was published (so if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll already have seen it). You can see more of Ian's work, and get him to design blogs, websites and trailers for you, by clicking on the link to Graphic Alchemy on the side of this page.) The photos in the trailer were mostly taken by Sarah Reeve, and there's a brief glimpse of a scary-looking biomechanical tentacle thingy designed by Justin Hill, and another of some cogs and gears drawn by Sam Weber. Other images come from David Wyatt's cover artwork for the original UK edition, some of which was never actually used(!) 'Fever' is Sophia Oppel, daughter of Kenneth Oppel, the author of top-notch airship adventures for the discerning reader as well as many other things. If you haven't yet read his book Airborn and its sequels then you should; he spins a good tale, and he knows and cares how airships work, unlike certain authors we could mention, hem hem. I should point out that Sophia doesn't really have different colour eyes; Ian did that. (By magic, as far as I can understand.)   

I always intended A Web of Air to be quieter and more focused on Fever herself than Fever Crumb, and in some ways it feels - and is meant to feel - very different to the other books I've written about the world of Mortal Engines.  Like Predator's Gold, the second of the Mortal Engines books, it seemed a chance to turn away from the big, high-stakes, world-altering adventures of the first volume and focus in more on particular characters: for Fever the events of A Web of Air are a matter of life and death, but the vast upheavals going on in the north as London motorises and the other states and cities react to it have barely touched Mayda... yet.

A Web of Air may not be quite as disconnected from the adventures of previous books as it appears, though: as reviewer Jonathan Hunt points out in The Horn Book magazine, "The resolution sorts out the allegiance of the various players ... and sets the stage for greater things to come. It’s clear that Reeve, just as he did in the original Mortal Engines quartet, is building toward an epic, and his remarkable storytelling gifts, coupled with a trenchant understanding of human nature, make the projected volumes worth the wait."

Here's a link to A WEB OF AIR on