Mortal Engines Art

I've not been blogging so much this year, what with Goblins 2 to write and lots of school events.  While I've been off the air, as it were, several people have sent me very impressive artwork inspired by Mortal Engines and its world.  I'm aiming to post them here over the coming week, in the order in which they arrived.  First up is my old friend Justin Hill.  Justin's non Mortal Engines related  drawings and photographs can be seen at his Zazzle stores (and he's been posting a lot of brilliant HDR photography on Google+ lately) but these are examples of his digital artwork, loosely inspired by the books, and very atmospheric, I think.  Enjoy!   

                                                                                                                                                  Mortal Engines by  Justin Hill
                                                                                                                                                                    Airship by Justin Hill



Here's some news to make a goblin grin: the film company LAIKA have optioned GOBLINS, with a view to turning it into an animated feature.  They do very beautiful stop-motion animation, as you'll know if you've seen their movie version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (and if you haven't yet, I'd highly recommend it.)  Here's a link to the full press release on LAIKA's website.

And here's the trailer for their forthcoming movie, ParaNorman.

Litopia After Dark


This coming Sunday (April 22nd) I'll be appearing on Litopia After Dark, 'the net's premier live literary salon'.  It will be 50 minutes of free-ranging discussion about books and writing and any other subject that seems interesting, and if you'd like to get involved then you can do so by going to the chat room on the Radio Litopia website while the show is on.  But if you miss the live broadcast, never fear; it will still be available to listen to, and I'll put a link on this blog and/or my website.
A typical Litopia After Dark listener...
Litopia after Dark is produced by Litopia, and goes out live at 8pm GMT (that's 3pm Eastern, 12 noon Pacific if you're listening in the USA).  It would be great if you could listen, and even better if you can find your way to the chat room and join in!


To mark the launch of GOBLINS, Scholastic have put together a goblintastic computer game called Goblins: Catapult Wars, which you can play on the Swapit website. If you don't already have a Swapit account you'll need to sign up, but that doesn't take long, and then you'll be able to waste while away hours and hours catapulting boulders, battle-axes and fireballs at a horde of grumpy goblins based on David Semple's cover art from the book.

You may have noticed that this blog (and my website) have had a major spring-clean, thanks to Ian at Graphic Alchemy.  My official Facebook Page has a new look too, but that's nothing to do with me: Facebook have foisted their 'timeline' on me, and so far I'm not impressed: it's cluttered, and I keep missing people's posts and comments.  Partly in response to that, I've asked Ian to switch on the 'comments' function on this blog, so from now on you'll be able to leave comments after each post, should you so wish.  I'll try to respond to all of them, but it may take me a couple of days if I'm busy writing.  And, of course, you can still get in touch with me by e-mail.

GOBLINS Reviews & Reactions

Today is the International Day of the Goblin today - well, GOBLINS is officially published in the UK, which amounts to much the same thing, I'm sure you'll agree.  Here are some choice quotes from some people who've read it already.

“You know you are in the hands of a master storyteller when a dangerous yet frivolous fantasy world is brought to life with such imagination that it not only entertains and amuses - it actually seems real and makes its own curious sense. Phillip Reeve has created such a world in his marvellous new book Goblins… playful and witty... I wouldn't be surprised if there is a sequel and hooray for that because Goblins is an utterly charming delight and children will love it”

 "MoRe thAn wun HUNDRID sheets of Top-kwolitee Bumwipe! Perfickt for aLL your pooing nEEds'
Breslaw, Hatchling Master of the Blackspike Goblins

You can never guess what is coming next in the story. Instead you fall into it head-first… Highly imaginative… A fantastical world that only the best can ever dream of…There are so many ingredients that make this book so enjoyable to read…Clever and witty … Philip is such a great story builder. He constructs the most amazing worlds that manifest into something out of the ordinary… This story is action packed and full of great ideas… A captivating story… A good old-fashioned fairytale… What a brilliant family read - loaded with energy. Will we have more? I hope so”
Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books

"Soft, Strong, and very, very long."
Squitter the Insanitary, Redcap Tower

“Wry and funny, with some gloriously slapstick moments, not to mention a few disgustingly icky ones… An exciting story, full of scary creatures and dangerous situations. All the traditional elements of the heroic ballads are there, from knights and magic swords to mysterious strangers and dangerous quests, but they are twisted and distorted into wildly funny new forms, so that the whole feels fresh and vivid... The appearance of any new Philip Reeve book is an event in the book world, and this one is up there with the best of them. Don't miss it!”
The Bookbag

"Very absorbent."
Modern Goblin Magazine

The GOBLINS are here!

I always used to say I wouldn't be interested in writing a traditional fantasy story, with magic and monsters, trolls and goblins.  However...

Illustration: Dave Semple now available from All Good Booksellers*!  

So how on earth did that happen?

It all started about two years ago, when Sam went through a brief trolls'n'goblins phase himself, and I read him The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  It reminded me of how much I used to love stories like that when I was growing up, and made me wonder if I could do one of my own.  I wasn't really after the high seriousness of Tolkien, though: I was aiming for something lighter and funnier that would be a change of pace for me before I embark on the final Fever Crumb book.   So I started writing a long, rambling comedy adventure which I read to Sam in installments as a bedtime story.

One of the things that always troubled me about The Lord of the Rings, even as a boy, was the way that all the orcs and goblins are evil.  All of them? It seemed a bit unfair to me: surely there must be some who were just fighting in the armies of the Dark Lord because they'd been conscripted, and would have preferred to lead a quiet life somewhere given half the chance.  Even Sam, when we were half way through LOTR, wondered why Sauron wanted to take over Middle Earth.  There is no reason, of course; that's just what Dark Lords do, but I thought it might be fun to write about a goblin who starts to ask the same question, and that gave me the idea for the hero of this book, who is a goblin named Skarper.

In the first version, Skarper and his goblin tribe lived in a cave on top of a mountain, and when Skarper was thrown out he set off to seek his fortune and met an ill-assorted bunch of companions who wandered around... and around... and around...  Eventually I realised that what this story lacked was one of those PLOTS you hear so much about, so I decided that they were all heading for a sinister ruined fortress which had once been home to an evil enchanter called the Lych Lord.  I even found a name for this fortress:


 ... which I saw on the front of a bus while I was heading into Edinburgh from the airport for the 2010 Edinburgh Book Festival (I've just remembered that it was on THAT VERY SAME EVENING that I first met Sarah McIntyre, so that was definitely an important day).  

Once Clovenstone had a name, it started to take shape in my imagination.  Soon I realised that it was by far the most interesting thing in my story, and that it would make much more sense if the whole book took place there.  Rather than trekking off in search of Clovenstone and reaching it in the final chapters, the story would open there, and the characters would either live there, or arrive in search of treasure and adventure.  And of course it wasn't just a fortress any more; it was an entire ruined city, dominated by the black Keep where the long-gone Lych Lord once lived, and by the seven towers which still house the remnants of his savage goblin armies.  Here's a not-very-to-scale map which I drew for the front of the book...

Of course, without the Lych Lord to keep them in line, the goblins have become even more savage and feckless - all except for Skarper, who is a bit brighter than the rest.  In the old chambers of Clovenstone there are piles of old books and papers, which the goblins call 'bumwipe' and use for wiping their bottoms on (when they remember).  From these, Skarper learns to read, and starts to understand and question his world.  This annoys King Knobbler, who rules Skarper's tower and has been known to bite the heads off goblins who get a bit too clever.  (He looks a bit like this...)

That's how Skarper comes to be thrown out of goblin society (well, catapulted out, actually) and left to fend for himself among the other strange creatures who infest the overgrown ruins of Clovenstone.
There he meets a young would-be hero, Henwyn, who has come to Clovenstone in search of adventures, hoping to rescue Princess Eluned, who is said to be held prisoner by a dreadful giant who makes his lair in one of the old gatehouses.  I don't have a picture of Henwyn, but I imagined the giant (and the woods where he lives) as looking rather like this painting by Brian Froud...  

Of course, it turns out that the giant isn't quite what he is expecting, and nor is Princess Eluned.  But adventures happen to Henwyn and Skarper anyway, for there are always adventures of some sort to be had at Clovenstone.  There are marshes and tunnels, woods and water, cloud maidens and catapults, and always some strange new creature just around the corner.  I've had a fine old time exploring it, and I hope you will too!

*All Good Booksellers in the UK, that is, where the official publication date is 5th April (though most shops will have stock in by now).  Sadly the US edition won't be out until next year.