Oh dear, my first blog post in six weeks. The emperor of the Galactic Federation of Bloggers will be round here threatening to deport me to a blogger's prison colony on an asteroid orbiting some far-off star. No, please give me one last chance! I'll make up for it with a long entry right now!
I do have a reasonably good excuse for having been absent, I've been on holiday! No foreign shores for me, though, or exotic volcanoes, or sunny beaches. I was at Centerparcs... I took Jamie and Lynsey and Lucy there a couple of years ago and I've been promising Jamie for AGES that I'll take him back. So we went!
I have to say that I absolutely love Centerparcs. We went to the one in Thetford, Suffolk, as we always do. For anyone who's ever been you'll know what it's like, loads of wooden cabins in the forest, and this huge village in the middle of them packed full of cool stuff. Of course the best thing there is the pool, which really is this vast tropical paradise full of shoots and rapids and wave machines and bubble pools. It's actually better going in the winter than in the summer, as a) it's soooooo nice climbing into the hot water when you've just come in from the cold, and b) when it gets dark outside the entire pool is mirrored in the glass ceiling so it gives the illusion that you're floating underwater. Beautiful!
Jamie and I actually were underwater for parts of the holiday, as we decided to give scuba diving a go. It's one of the best things I've ever done in my life! Admittedly it would have been better if we'd been diving in a coral reef with cool fish to look at instead of the bottom of the pool, but even so it was a real adventure. Being able to glide through the water without coming up for air, or just drift upside down beneath the surface watching the bubbles rise, is so magical. We played tag, threw an underwater Frisbee, swam through hoops and just had a whale of a time, literally.
We're definitely both going to try and complete our PADI open water course now, which will let us dive anywhere in the world. So exciting! Although it is just a little bit scary. I panicked once when my mouth filled with water and I tried to breathe in. It's fine when you're two feet below the surface, but I wouldn't like to be in that position with thirty metres of water above me... Still, I wouldn't let that put me off!
So, other than the scuba diving we spent most of our time in the pool and going down the rapids. Lucy didn't want to go down them, and I kept telling her how much fun they'd be. It was only on the last day that she braved them, then she didn't want to stop! I'm covered in bruises from where we were all wrestling each other to get to the bottom first, including actual fingerprints running up both arms! I look like a leopard.
Other than that we just chilled out in the cabin, playing the Game of Life quite a bit (and Monopoly, which almost resulted in physical combat). There was a quiz machine in the village, which was cool, and Lynsey and I spent hours at a time on that. We won fifteen quid on the first day... then nothing after than. It must have remembered who we were. There was so much to do there, but we were so knackered each night from all the swimming that most of the time we just had dinner then fell asleep by 10!
Oh, and I have to mention the ducks and the squirrel that congregated outside our cabin every morning. They were so cute! The squirrel was so tame that it kept trying to come in, even when it had to climb over Jamie and Lucy to do so! There was even a baby deer grazing outside our window.
It really was a fantastic holiday, especially as it is my first, and only, one this year. None of us wanted to come home, and as soon as we did we all succumbed to flu. Obviously Jamie and I had it worst because we had man flu. Horrible stuff.
So now it's back to work, although I don't have a huge amount to do right now. Furnace: Lockdown has gone to the printers, so it's totally out of my hands now. The most terrifying part of the whole process is when you finally sign off on the finished manuscript, you always think 'but what if I've missed something? What if there are still loads of mistakes? Oh my god I'd better have another read through' and you end up reading it and reading it and reading it until you wouldn't notice an error if it took up the whole page. The American copyeditor did actually spot a chronology error which I managed to change seconds before it got sent to the printers, so thank you for that! Furnace: Solitary has been typeset and I'll be proof editing that next week. Furnace: Death Sentence is with my editor now and probably won't be back until next year.
I've been doing bits and pieces for the US edition, which is now called Escape From Furnace (because, as Wes, my fantastic editor over there, pointed out, in the States everybody has a furnace in their basement which heats up the house and isn't very scary at all!). I love the new title, and the book also has a gripping new prologue. I can't believe that it will be out over there in less than a year. How awesome is that?!
So yes, it's nice to have a bit of time off now before Christmas. I've got loads of DIY that I've been meaning to do for, well, the last ten years or so. I might even go and get the tree today. Yay! I hope you're all looking forward to the festive season.
So, that entry should keep the Galactic Federation of Bloggers at bay for now. I will try and stay more regular from now on. My gran tells me that a glass of prune juice every morning will help, although I can't for the life of me see how...
Oh dear, my first blog post in six weeks. The emperor of the Galactic Federation of Bloggers will be round here threatening to deport me to a blogger's prison colony on an asteroid orbiting some far-off star. No, please give me one last chance! I'll make up for it with a long entry right now!
Just a quick post tonight because I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did on my Japanese test. Right? No? Oh, okay, well I can't tell you anyway because I won't find out until next week! I did seem to forget almost everything I'd learned, though, which isn't good. I'd forgotten how stressful it was to take an exam!
So anyway, it's just been another day of writing. I say 'just' but it is actually really exciting. Furnace 3 is glowing white hot at the moment as the action heats up, but it has become very violent... Even when compared to the first two... I hope my editors (in the UK and the US) don't panic too much! I've just passed the 35,000-word mark.
I'm just having a quiet night in tonight. Last night I cooked a stew and took it round to Mum's to give her a night off the cooking. Me, Mum and Jamie ended up playing a riddle game where you have to solve puzzles. It's called Mind Trap and I'd really recommend it to anyone wanting to stretch their brain power, or for anyone wanting to write mystery books for that matter. It was lovely spending some time with Mum and Jamie anyway.
Oh, and I got such a lovely email the other day from a lady called Lynda in New Zealand. She said some lovely things about my creative writing book, Inspired Creative Writing, which is always nice to hear. But the best part was when she finished the email with this offer:
There is absolutely no need to reply - but should you ever visit New Zealand, drop me a line and I'll bake a batch of scones and invite you to tea :-)
Scones and tea! I think that's the nicest offer I've ever had! Lynda, if I am ever in New Zealand I shall take you up on that, thank you (and I will reply to your email very soon)!
Last night went pretty well, there was a good turn out up at uni and the readers were all great. It was still a shame that mum couldn't make it as her piece of life writing would have been a nice contrast to the poetry and prose, and just as interesting. But we did the best we could without her! Nathan was pretty chuffed with how many copies of the anthology we sold (plus the ones sold the night before in London), which is all money that gets pumped back into the egg box coffers for more fantastic books. Fab!
I have spent most of the day writing, which is good. Passed the 30,000-word mark for Furnace 3 today, which is a huge milestone psychologically as I always see that as the half-way mark (even though the books have tended to be a bit longer). The story has also reached a vital turning point at exactly the place I wanted it to, which is cool. It's definitely been the hardest of the three to write so far, but I'm really enjoying it and things will only get more exciting in the second half...
Now I'm just putting off doing a bit of Japanese revision. Yup, I have started learning Japanese, mainly in the hope that one day I'll have a book translated into the language and turned into a film by Studio Ghibli (the latter in my top five of the most amazing dreams I can think of). This will be my fourth week and it's also EXAM TIME! I think it's a little early for a test, personally, but then I'm not the teacher! I'll crack on with it in a bit, but for now here are some things I can say about myself in Japanese:
Watashi no namae wa Gordon desu - My name is Gordon!
Watashi no shigoto wa sakka desu - I am a writer!
Watashi wa Igirisu-jin desu - I am British!
Watashi no sumai wa Norwich desu - My home is in Norwich!
Watashi wa eigo to nihongo o hanashimasu - I speak English and Japanese... (kind of!)
Watashi wa kekkon shite imasen - I am not married!
Watashi no dengwa bangou wa ... desu - My telephone number is (now that would be telling)!
Anyway, I'd better go and get revising. Wish me luck for my test!
Just a quick post this evening as I'm running out for the launch of the UEA anthology, which as I mentioned a few posts ago is published by Egg Box. It should be quite an interesting mix of writers reading their work, although unfortunately mum's been feeling ill the last few days so she has decided not to read. It's such a shame as she would have been fab!
Last night went really well. Me, Kate, Simon and Jen went out for dinner with Tania, who is a Director of Photography. She has read the script for the film and she loves it, and we all loved her, so it looks like we've got ourselves a DoP for next year! Tania really knows her stuff, and I think she and Jen will make a fantastic team. Stagnant may only be a horror film, but they are planning to make it look gorgeous!
Oh, and I was good and only had a salad, you'll be pleased to know. Although there was so much oil on it that I might as well have had a pizza... Still, at least it means my diet has officially started... Anyway, I must dash. Check the news page tomorrow for an exciting update!
Oh god, what a horrible night. I thought yesterday was going to be incredibly healthy because Jamie, Christopher, Matthew and I went for a swim up at the university. It was great to have some exercise, but it all went downhill when we got home. I had one of my 'well my diet will start tomorrow so we really should pig out as much as possible tonight' moments and Jamie and I ended up ordering a mountain of Chinese food which we set about devouring with an animal ferocity which, to an outsider looking in, might suggest that we hadn't eaten in weeks. I don't know whether it was that, or the doughnuts we had for pudding, which kept me awake all night feeling like I was going to explode. Blurgh.
So now it's morning and I feel awful and I've promised myself that's the last time I'm going to eat crappy take-away food (I've heard that before). To be honest I think it's Jamie's fault, because we've made a bet that I'll have a flat stomach by my 30th birthday next February. I think I will (well I don't, but I'm eternally optimistic) and he sincerely doubts it. He doubts it so much, in fact, that we have each put 500 squids on it! I think he's sneaking into the house at night injecting fat into all my fruit and veg just so he can win the bet...
Anyway, today is the start of my new diet and I'm determined to stick to it. Partly for the money, and partly because I had loads of dreams last night about having a heart attack and going to hospital, and if that isn't my body crying out for help then I don't know what is!!! I figured that I'll keep track of my weight here online because if you are all watching then maybe I won't eat that last bit of cake...
It's just a shame that I'm meeting Kate and the director and DP of our film tonight in Pizza Express. And I always feel so silly ordering a salad. Maybe my diet should start tomorrow...
Well, so much for blogging regularly! Never mind, I'm here now and that's the most important thing... It's been a bit of a rotten week actually because I've had a horrible case of flu. Not just normal flu either, but the dreaded MAN FLU. It really is rotten. My head has been stuffed full off cotton wool, and my nose is dripping so much I could be a character in my own short story, snot. Gross! I've just been steadily overdosing on Lemsips all week, and am starting to feel a little better. But only a little...
So yes, most of the week has been spent in bed or in front of the telly feeling sorry for myself, which apparently is the most common symptom of man flu. It's not been a total loss. Yesterday Jamie, Lynsey, Lucy and I went to see the City of Ember, which I have to say was totally awesome. I mean the plot was a little too baggy at times, and there were a couple of clumsy moments. But overall I really enjoyed it.
I think what impressed me most was the concept of the city itself, buried underground and powered by a single generator which is on the verge of meltdown. The blackouts, when they happened, were terrifying because of the idea that without the generator these people will live in a world of total darkness. It is effectively a plague of blindness which effects everyone. I won't say if it happens or not, but the threat of it is enough to really drive the film forwards. It's a similar sort of motivation that drives Furnace, to be honest, as you hopefully develop the same hunger - craving - for daylight and fresh air when reading them. I'd really recommend this, anyway. I'm off to buy the book today.
Speaking of Furnace, being ill has given me a chance to crack on with number 3. It's absolutely chilling at the beginning of the book, although obviously I can't say why because it will spoil it! Now I'm about a third of the way through and it's turning from horror into pure, adrenaline-fuelled adventure! The word count currently stands at 24,000.
There has been some great news about foreign rights deals for Furnace as well, really really exciting stuff. I don't want to say too much now for fear of jinxing it, but I'll let you know as soon as I can!
And just one last thing for now. Thanks so much to everybody who has sent emails and letters in the last few weeks, they've all been fantastic to read. I promise I will get back to each and every one of you as soon as possible. I've just been so busy with the book! Sorry for being so rubbish at replying.
I blatantly failed to do any writing yesterday, again! I ended up going round to Jamie's and playing COD (or Call of Duty for the uninitiated) on his 360. It's a great game, very realistic. You can almost feel the bullets zipping past your head. Well, when I play they tend to zip into my head because I'm not very good. Jamie is ace at it, though.
I'm not really a wargame fan. I'm much happier with a survival horror. I love horror, I absolutely do, in all its many forms. But I think the genre really reaches its apex with games. Take something like Silent Hill, for example. The most terrified I've ever been in my life is playing that game. You get the immersive plot of a great horror novel, combined with the remarkably disturbing visuals and music of a film. But instead of being a passive observer you are literally in the game, your very survival depends on your own actions. It's utterly terrifying, but great! I'm currently waiting impatiently for Dead Space, Silent Hill 5 and the new Resident Evil too. I've just downloaded Siren Bloodsong from the Playstation store but to be honest that's a little too scary even for me...
We went out for dinner with Lynsey and Lucy, which was nice. I fancied pasta, but everywhere was fully booked, so we went to Pizza Express in the end. Their Sloppy Giuseppe pizza is amazing, as are their dough balls. It was a very funny evening, and for some reason Lucy and Jamie got a total giggling fit when I said 'would you like a bite of my strudel' in a German accent. I thought Lucy was going to wee herself!
Anyway, I shouldn't play any more games or eat any more pizza until I've finished my own horror story, Furnace 3. I promised myself I'd get up at eight this morning and start writing. I slept in until 10.30!!! I'm going to stop procrastinating with this blog and start doing some now. Maybe it will be easier if you all know my word count, then I'll feel bad for not writing as much as I need to each day. Okay, it currently stands at the 13,000 word mark... Wish me luck!
Yesterday turned out to be an Egg Box day, which is the first one I've had in ages. Egg Box is the name of the publishing company I set up years ago whilst at UEA, and which is now run by my great friend Nathan Hamilton. He's just published the University of East Anglia creative writing anthology, which is a gorgeous looking book full of some incredible writers (including my mum, who has just finished the Life Writing MA).
We spent a few hours up at uni stuffing envelopes, which was kind of fun in a weird way. Then we celebrated by losing a lot of money on the quiz machine... Then by going for a curry. I cooked myself a curry the night before, so I didn't particularly fancy another one, but Nathan was insistent. It was delicious though. He is usually a very messy eater, but last night I definitely won the award for 'most disgusting mess on the tablecloth'.
So anyway, today is my first weekend of being a full-time writer, so I do feel like I should be doing some writing. But then again maybe I'll go to the cinema...
I went on a bit of an adventure last weekend with the gang (for those who didn't read my old blog the gang consists of me, Lynsey, Lucy and Jamie). Lynsey is thinking about writing a children's book, which I think is a great idea. It will make a nice change from the very morbid (but very good, Bridport-winning good) short stories she writes.
So, for a bit of research, we decided to visit a traditional Iceni village in Norfolk. It was a bit of a drive away, but fortified with some Aero Bubbles and Mars Planets we made it in the end. It was an odd place, with not a hell of a lot in it to be honest. I mean there was a village, made in the style of Iceni architecture, but back then villages only consisted of a couple of huts and a place to park your cow, and this recreation was no different. It was fun wandering round the huts, though, until Jamie pulled the hand off a dummy and we ran for the hills in case the rest of the plastic family suddenly came to life to exact some Iceni-style revenge... We might have had our heads put on spikes like these poor souls!
It was a great day, and lovely to see Big L and Little L again. We shall have to plan more adventures soon!
Well I am absolutely shattered after working on the site all day, but it wouldn't feel right if I didn't at least write a little something on my blog. So here it is:
A Little Something.
I've just got back from the Hay Festival, and what a weekend it was! Along with most people who are blogging about the event, I'd just like to start by mentioning the weather. I mean it really was like an entire year's worth of seasons squished into two days. Saturday afternoon was as beautiful and balmy as a summer's day, with everybody walking around in T-shirts and whistling chirpy tunes and generally turning rather alarming shades of crimson. By the evening however, it was as bitterly cold as a winter night, with red cheeks in every direction for a different reason.
Sunday saw the heavens open, and I mean really open. I was outside for about five minutes scuttling from the car to the festival site and I got absolutely drenched! Ridiculous! In the course of the day I changed my clothes three times and each time only minutes later it was like Id been for a dip in the Wye. It certainly put a bit of a damp edge on things but being soggy was a small price to pay for being at such a great festival!
My event itself was buffeted by some of the fiercest winds in the history of winds (okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly felt that way)! I was performing in the Book People's Workshop and it was sold out, which was great! But the wind was doing its best to get inside, and the tent was rattling and groaning and whipping so much that I thought it was going to take off! I was convinced that we'd all step outside and find that we'd been blown up to Scotland or something.
Despite the gale, I think it went okay. People were struggling to hear me to start with but then a microphone was wheeled in. It's the first time I've used one and it was difficult to resist the temptation to do a Tom Jones impersonation. The audience were fantastic, and came up with some brilliant inventions. Hopefully some of them will try and write a story for the 'Invent Your Way Out Of Trouble' competition starting soon. Thanks to everyone who came, you were all fab! Oh, and the festival even gave me a rose after I had finished, which was a lovely touch!
Once the event was over I could relax a bit (I still get so nervous before a show, I think I always will). I travelled down with my Mum and Jamie, so we all hung out in Hay for a bit visiting the book shops and a food festival and basking in the sun. Jamie and I played some American Football in a meadow, and I think I broke my finger trying to catch one throw! In the evening we went over to a camp site where some good friends of mine Luke and Sally were camped with Sal's family (in the biggest RV I've ever seen). We had dinner there and chilled out a bit, which was lovely!
On Sunday, despite the rain, we had another good look round the shops (so many books!) and wandered around the festival site. Rather embarrassingly I didn't actually manage to see any of the shows, although I did see some cool celebs in the Green Room (ooh, posh!) including Cherie Blair! To be honest it was just really nice to spend some time with Mum and Jamie, and to get a little holiday!
I've got some time off now before my next show, so it's full steam ahead on Furnace 2. I'll let you know how it goes. But thanks again to everyone at Hay for making me feel so welcome!
Yay! The Inventors and the City of Stolen Souls has just been delivered and it looks sooooooooo great! I honestly didn't think the thrill of having a second book out would match the excitement of seeing the first, but I'm pleased to report that I was wrong. I got the same heart-pounding, sweaty-palmed, tingling-scalp feeling pulling the first copy out of the box Faber sent me as I did last year when I first saw The Inventors!
The best thing about having two books is that I can put them together on the shelf. The Inventors was getting a bit lonely up there by itself (it did have my creative writing books to keep it company, but they didn't really talk to each other much, fiction and non-fiction just don't seem to get on that well). The covers go perfectly, and the spines match as well, making them look like purple and red peas in a pod! I could sit and look at them all day, and in fact have done ever since they arrived. I really should get on...
But I do just want to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thanks to everyone at Faber who worked so hard on the book, especially my editor Julia, her assistant Emily, plus, as always, Helena, Susan and Kate. Once again you've made mine and Jamie's dreams come true and we will be forever grateful!
To celebrate the book coming out we had a lovely lunch at mum's on Sunday, complete with a bottle of champagne (ooo, la de da!) and lots of crisps (that's more like it). It was a really nice excuse for the family to get together, with my sister and her husband coming over and even my gran hobbling up the road to join the fun. The highlight of the day had to be playing Pictionary, although Jamie and I were beaten by Kate and Simon. But they are married, so can probably read each other's minds, which is cheating obviously.
Anyway, I really had better get on. We're driving down (across?) to Hay tomorrow for the festival and I've lost the cable thingy that goes with my sat nav. And if I don't have the nice lady telling me where to go then I'll end up in Bolton.
Hope to see some of you down there!
What can be better, in weather like this, than to take a trip to the seaside? That's exactly what I did on Sunday. I drove up to Sheringham with Kate (my sister), Nathan (poet, great friend and managing editor of Egg Box) plus his girlfriend Jennifer (who is going to direct our horror film next year). We went to my dad's, as he lives about two minutes from the beach, and chilled out there for a bit in his gorgeous garden. Then we all strolled down to the seafront and basked for a while in the glorious weather!
It got so hot that I even decided to go for a swim! It was absolutely freezing when I first got in, like being dunked in a bath full of cold water with ice cubes in it! But after a while it warmed up (either that or I just went numb all over), and it was so refreshing! I stayed in for about half an hour and when I came out I was a very alarming shade of pink.
Afterwards we headed back to dad's for a barbeque, which really didn't do my diet much good at all. Although the double angry wopper I guzzled down after going to Brighton had already scuppered it I think. It was a really relaxing day, and just what I needed! It was great to see dad too, we really don't see each other as much as we should do.
Anyway, The Inventors 2 should be at the Faber offices in a couple of days, I can't wait!!!
After more than a month off I'm now back on the touring circuit! Well, it's not so much a touring circuit as a couple of shows this month, but saying touring circuit makes it sound like I'm a rock star! I guess children's literature is the new rock and roll! Or should that be rock 'n roll?
Anyway, I'm blethering already. It's the heat. The weather this last week has been so gorgeous, a longer and more intense period of sunshine than I remember having all of last year! I've spent most of my time this week sitting in the garden reading books, which had been lovely, but not very productive I must confess. For a start it makes it difficult for me to focus on anything, my mind just goes a-wandering. Oh look, is that a squirrel over there...? Now where was I? Oh yes, hard to focus. Especially on the new book... Although if anyone from Faber is reading then it's coming along fine :-) Actually it is coming on fine to be honest, but it's very grisly! I'm still aiming to finish it by the first couple of weeks of June.
In the meantime, though, I'm back on the touring circuit! Yesterday I was down in the lovely Brighton, which was absolutely baking! The Festival was in full swing and the streets were packed with musicians and performers and poets and crowds of sun-loving families enjoying the show. I arrived a bit early and went and sat on the beach for an hour. As usual with events I was feeling really nervous, but the sea really helped calm me down. It was so beautiful! The only thing that spoilt it was the evil pigion that came and sat down next to me. I love Brighton, but I swear it is home to the most evil pigions in the world!
I'm blethering again! After sitting on the beach for a while I went to meet my publicist Helena at the venue. I say 'my publicist' because it makes me sound important. She's really Faber's PR guru, but I'm going to refer to her as my publicist until she tells me to stop! The event was at the Jubilee Library, which was a lovely space. And the staff were all delightful, really sweet and welcoming. Thanks for making me feel at home! The event was sold out, with about 60 people there despite the temptation of the sun outside. They were a wonderful crowd, full of suggestions for crazy inventions and superpowers. And they laughed at my jokes, which is always great! Thanks to everyone who came, you made it a fantastic day!
Afterwards Helena and I went for a cool drink, then I went and sat on the beach for a little while until I was even more sunburnt than when I arrived, then got back on the train for the long slog home. It was a nice journey though and I spent most of it reading a book. Ah, it's a hard life! Next up is the Hay festival, which I am really, really looking forward to! It's two weeks yesterday if anyone wants to come along!
Before that, though, I've got to try and get at least three quarters of the way through Furnace 2. And, more exciting still, The Inventors and the City of Stolen Souls should come back from the printers next Tuesday!!! I think I might take a trip down to London to get some copies, I'm so excited to see it!
Well, it's been another busy fortnight! Highlights include:
Science Week! Doing a workshop at the Norwich Forum for Science Week. It turned out to be quite a small event because of a horrid virus that's been going round the schools. But I had a great time with the few that turned up. We talked about all kinds of inventions and scientific superpowers, and when it came to the 'Invent Your Way Out Of Trouble' section they came up with loads of awesome gadgets and gizmos and potions. Paris, one of Lucy's best friends, was there too which was cool. She was one of the first fans of The Inventors!
Adventures According to Faber! Last Wednesday I was asked to do a little talk at the Youth Librarians' AGM, which was being hosted by Faber. I was one of four authors who was asked to talk a little bit about their books. Also there was Alex Milway, who has written the fantastic Mousehunter book which I have just started reading. We've met a few times and he's such a nice guy. We both got signed up by Faber at roughly the same time, so we've gone through the process together. It's great to have someone else to talk about the highs and, well, other highs of being a published writer! There was Steve Voake, author of the brilliant Dreamwalker's Child, Web of Fire and The Starlight Conspiracy, another really nice guy who's been nothing but supportive and friendly the few times I have met him! And Rachel Wright joined us. She has written a book called You've Got Blackmail, which sounds great! She was lovely too, and almost as nervous as I was!
It is always terrifying talking in front of a crowd, but all the librarians there were so lovely and laughed at all the right points in my talk, which is the most important thing! Afterwards we all mingled, and it was fab to talk to them all about libraries and children's books and other things. I even wore the cool librarians tattoos that Lynsey got me for my birthday, which went down very well. And, as always, it was great to talk to everyone at Faber. A brilliant night all round!
The New Book! Okay, I know I'm supposed to be writing Furnace 2, and I am (it's coming along very nicely and is much scarier than the first), but I've started writing something new for younger readers and I'm really getting into it. I'll put up some information, and maybe the first chapter, up on the website in the next couple of weeks, but I'll hopefully have finished it by the end of the month! I'm trying to write four books this year so not off to a bad start!
That will do for now, more to report but I'll do it tomorrow! The only downside is that my heating is still broken, and with the snow outside it is absolutely freeeeeeeeeeezing!!! You can see your breath in my house. I really should get it fixed, but like I said things are busy busy busy!
Well, it's been another busy fortnight! Highlights include:
- Science Week! Doing a workshop at the Norwich Forum for Science Week. It turned out to be quite a small event because of a horrid virus that's been going round the schools. But I had a great time with the few that turned up. We talked about all kinds of inventions and scientific superpowers, and when it came to the 'Invent Your Way Out Of Trouble' section they came up with loads of awesome gadgets and gizmos and potions. Paris, one of Lucy's best friends, was there too which was cool. She was one of the first fans of The Inventors!
Yay, I've finally done my first show! After being terrified of the thought of it for months on end, and paranoid that I'd freeze on stage and stand in silence for an hour or just run from the room screaming, I managed to get up there and keep some delightful Scottish children entertained!
It was a really lovely experience, and I'll talk about it in a minute. But first I need to get something off my chest, I need to have a grumble, about the trains...
I was supposed to get the 9.55 from Norwich to Peterborough on Wednesday, followed by the train from Peterborough to Glasgow which was supposed to get me there for 4pm. But no. The Norwich to Peterborough was cancelled, so I had to go to Ely, then to Peterborough. And the Peterborough to Glasgow was cancelled so I had to travel to Edinburgh. I arrived in Edinburgh at about 7pm to find that the trains to Glasgow Central weren't running, so had to wait for one to another station. I eventually arrived at the hotel five hours late and fuming! Things were almost as bad on the way back, the train from Glasgow to Peterborough was cancelled again so I had to go via Edinburgh, then change at York, then Peterborough then Ely then finally Norwich at way past midnight yesterday.
So, eight trains instead of four, and six hours more on them than I was supposed to have. When is this country going to sort out its rail system?!
Anyway grumble over. My time in Glasgow more than made up for late trains. When I got to the (extremely swanky) hotel I met Justin Richards, the author of many books including the excellent Death Collector which I am reading now. We had a great chat and he put my mind at rest about doing shows (I was pretty much quaking in my shoes all night at the thought of my morning's performance)! So thanks Justin!
After a while we were joined by the people who run the Aye Write Festival in Glasgow, which has an absolutely fantastic line-up this year (not just me)! Andrew and Karen were both really lovely and welcoming, and had some great stories about the literary celebs they had met whilst running the event. Speaking of which, Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat) and Blake Morrison joined us for dinner, which was cool! I had a few glasses of wine and soon felt quite relaxed!
I have to mention my dreams that night though. I must have had about three nightmares about getting up to do my show and forgetting all my notes and props and not knowing what to say! In one I even got to the venue and realised that I had to perform from the top of a tree, and I was trying to climb it but there were spiky brambles and slippery bits and I just couldn't get there! Talk about classic anxiety dreams!
Fortunately I didn't have to perform from the top of a tree. I was in a beautiful room in the Mitchell Library, and there were two classes waiting for me when I arrived. The guy introducing me was so friendly, and really made me feel at home, which I will be forever grateful for! But my heart was still pounding when I walked to the front of the room and introduced myself. But in the end I had a great time, and was soon discussing crazy inventions with the kids and future gadgets that can give you superpowers and even some inventions they came up with themselves! Before I knew it an hour had flown by and I didn't want to stop!
So now I've done my first show and I feel much happier about getting up and talking to people. It really is fantastic fun and it's amazing some of the ideas the audience comes up with! I'm doing many more appearances this year, so keep an eye on the website and if I'm coming to a town near you then pop along and say hi!
Just don't take the train...
Yesterday Jamie and I had a fantastic time in London. Faber asked us to come down and film a video for a website called meettheauthor.co.uk. It's a fabulous site, with hundreds of authors talking about their books and inspirations, and we were thrilled at being asked to become a part of it! We went down by train, practicing what we were going to say in between watching episodes of Lost on the laptop.
Money makes the world go round. It's an old adage that goes down well with yuppies and parents (especially when you're young and don't want to get a job). But I think it's one of the greatest fallacies of all time. Money doesn't make the world go round, it makes everything come screaming to a halt and stops good ideas from getting anywhere. Money grounds us in all the wrong ways, especially when it comes to contracts and rights for creative ideas.
Well it's taken me a little longer than I thought to get round to my New Year's post. Twenty-two days to be precise. But I do have a good excuse, kind of... I've actually finally properly really started my diet, the same diet I've been saying I'm going to start every other day for the past two years. I haven't touched any chocolates or sweets since the beginning of the year and I've only had two take-aways (treat days as I've come to call them) instead of, well, twenty-two!
I've been going down the gym too, which is actually quite daunting because nobody in there seems to need to lose any weight, they're all either very athletic or positively bulging with muscles! And then there's me absolutely drenched in sweat, my belly rippling like a statue made from jelly and grunting like a sick reindeer as I make my merry way on the cycle machine thing. I'm definitely getting fitter though, and it does feel good to lose weight. I've gone from a whopping 16st1lb on January 1st to 15st5lb today. Okay there's still a way to go, but I'm actually getting there this time!
Keeping with my New Year New Everything plan I've also got a brand spanking new computer, which is nice. My old laptop was steadily losing its grip on reality, constantly telling me it was actually 1968 and wheezing through its battery life in all of twenty minutes. I thought I'd give it a break and put it out of its misery. It's actually quite sad. I grow quite attached to my computers, especially this one which I wrote The Inventors in the City of Stolen Souls on, and Furnace and another book (huh? you ask, what books are these? I'll tell all soon). I might take it apart and use the case as a pencil pot or something so it's still here in spirit... I did that a while back with my ancient eMac, using the faceplate as a mirror for my bathroom! So New Me, New Computer too! That's a piccy of it up there, which you probably guessed.