Have Yourselves A Seawiggy Christmas Time...

In all the hustle and bustle at this time of year, it's all too easy to forget about the true meaning of Christmas - which is, BUYING LOADS AND LOADS OF BOOKS, preferably MINE.

So, should you be thinking of picking up a copy of Oliver and the Seawigs for your nearest and dearest, Sarah McIntyre has produced a range of exclusive Sea Monkey gift-tags, which you can download in PDF form HERE. They're in black and white, but feel free to colour them in if you think they need it. (And feel free to attach them to presents which DON'T contain a copy of Oliver and the Seawigs if you want - the Sea Monkeys don't care).

Also, if you're handy with knitting needles or a crochet hook, you could create your own stuffed Sea Monkey toy to go along with the book. This one was knitted by Holly Skeet, who was my utterly brilliant copy editor on the Mortal Engines series, and also writes her own very successful books under the name Holly Webb. (The Sea Monkey is on the left.)

Pop over to Sarah's blog for a whole knitted Sea Monkey gallery, or just download the knitting pattern here.

Oliver & Iris


Way back in March or April Sarah McIntyre and I did this Oliver and the Seawigs puppet show - puppets and stage both made by Sarah, of course.We used it 'live' at the Oxford University Press sales conference, and Ed Beck and David Mead from MB Films filmed this version in Sarah's studio, The Fleece Station. I think this one was done first, and was a sort of trial run - I had a rather fetching Oliver hat by the time we did the sales conference. I'm still hoping it will ride again one day, but so far it's proved too cumbersome to transport to literary festivals.

In another Seawiggy development, I did an interview for a feature called 'Inheritance Books' on Mel Giedroyc's Four O'Clock Show on Radio 4 Extra. You can hear it here:

Coincidentally, Mel Giedroyc is appearing at the moment in The Opinion Makers, a new musical by my old friends Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon. I haven't seen it yet, but I have seen almost all the other plays they've written since the mid-1990s, like this one and this one, and I'm sure it will be brilliant. It's just finishing its run at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, and will be on at the Derby Theatre later this month.

Oliver and the Seawigs, meanwhile, is available from all good bookshops.

A Walk on Hameldown


Last week, in between downpours, I took the dog for a quick walk up the hill outside the village...

I hadn't planned to go far, but when I reached the top it was so nice in the wind and the autumn sunshine that I kept going. I ended up walking right along the back of Hameldown hill, much to Frodo's delight.

I always wonder about these old posts, which are dotted all over the top of Hameldown.  I've read that they were erected in the war to stop German gliders landing and were originally much bigger, with barbed wire strung between - but why would you land a glider on top of Hameldown? It's a big old boggy hill in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, they look very good, standing there in the wind and weather.

Looking north west from the summit. In the sunlight over there are Kes Tor and Batworthy, one of my favourite parts of the moor.

Coming down off the northern end of Hameldown, I passed this monument to the crew of an RAF bomber which crashed there during the war.

At Natsworthy, the storms hadn't quite stripped the last of the autumn leaves off the beech trees. Sarah and I were staying at Wooder Manor, a bit further down the valley, when I started writing Mortal Engines, and this is where Tom Natsworthy's name came from.)

And from Natsworthy it was a pretty easy stroll back down the lanes in the evening sunlight.