Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reading next weekend

I'll be reading from 'Bogbrush' on Saturday at New City Library at 1.30. I always enjoy public readings as it gives me a chance to use my collection of silly voices in public without fear of rebuke.

Plus I have the very fine plastic viking helmet that Bill Slavin gave me. The chances I have to wear this fine item are few, and I have to seize them when I can.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Young writers keep showing up!

One of the risks of running a group for middle grade writers is that - being 9-12 years old and all - they sometimes drop out easily. People do that anyway, but at least adults aren't at risk of having their parents decided they can't take the writer to the library today because it's time to shop for groceries.

My current group is three weeks into the five week course, and we've got five of the original seven. That's pretty good. One kid was clearly too young, and his mother was very apologetic about withdrawing him. The other has been in my class before, and he's pretty hyper - I'm not complaining if he stays away!

We covered dialogue yesterday, making a list of verbs that can be used instead of 'said'. Then we went around making up a conversation between the fictional 'Jim' and 'Steve' in which each participant uttered (there's one!) something in the voice that matched the verb they used. Being ten year olds, we had a lot of "screamed Jim" and "Yelled Steve".

It was great. I am now deaf, and lucky not to be banned from the library.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who am I and what am I up to?

My old school (and it's a very old school, dating to 1552) has taken to the interweb in a big way, mostly - I assume - to beg for money from those former pupils who have any. Ha! Fooled them!

Anyway, they ask what we've been up to. My former classmates seem largely to be (predictably) a bunch of accountants, finance professionals, civil servants and the like. One's a hedge fund millionaire, one (interestingly - and a nice bloke) is working on creating a museum for the Parachute Regt, one (interestingly, if tragically) died on the way down from the summit of Everest in 1995.

(Other old boys, from other years since 1552 include JRR Tolkien, the painter Burne-Jones, Bill Slim - the best allied general of WWII bar none - the comedian/naturalist/TV personality Bill Oddie and airport novelist supreme Lee Child)

Here's what I claim to have done this year:

This year Howard Whitehouse (1976) has helped dig out a bus from an Andean streambed at 17,000 feet, been stung in the ear by wasps, and written a novel involving quite a lot of zombies. His “Mad Misadventures” series of books for discerning young persons has been sold to a publisher in Belgrade for translation into Serbo-Croat. His luggage was searched in El Salvador. He performed a self-penned song about a courgette in a contest for zucchini-oriented poetry, and came second in a field of two. He has refused to eat deep-fried guinea pig, and thinks you should too.

Every bit of this is true.

Getting them thar reviews in!

The first reviews for Bogbrush are coming in. Here's one from the Barnes and Noble's site: No idea who the writer is, but he/she reviews a lot of books.

Posted September 20, 2010, 9:55 AM EST: Absolutely hilarious. The illustrations are perfect and the text is laugh-out-loud funny and ridiculous. Recommended for fans of Howard Whitehouse's other books (and if you haven't read those, you are really missing out!) as well as fans of the slightly absurd who want to laugh a lot. The story is not overly long and would make a great read aloud/read together for middle graders (4th-6th) and their parents.

And here's Melissa at Book Nut:


Thank you, I say. The cheques will be in the mail :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Starting a new young writer's group

I began teaching a new group of middle graders at New City library yesterday. This is something I've been doing twice a year for the last three or four years. Six kids, the oldest a seventh grade boy.

We started inventing characters, which comes very easily to some and is clearly like pulling teeth for others. One little girl thought, and thought, and thought -- and after five minutes started to write furiously. She came up with a typical superhero ---- except that it's a second grade girl with superpowers!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I taught a workshop for younger kids on 'story-making' today - basically a writer's workshop for nine year olds. Did you know that magic unicorns can sink a pirate ship if the crew is drinking rum and doesn't notice?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bogbrush rushes in -----

When I said "my new books", of course I meant "my new book".

This is not because the plural form is a mystery to me, but editing this blog is.


You can read Bogbrush here --- http://www.kidscanpress.com/Assets/StaticPageDownloads/AdvanceReadingCopies/BogbrushTheBarbarian_2086_eARC.pdf

Okay, I don't want you to read the whole darn thing. I want you to buy it from the usual suspects!


I decided it was time to start a new blog. I'd essentially abandoned my previous attempt at a blog, which was all about my excellent Emmaline and Rubberbones books. I'll tell you more about those later.

But now I'm here to talk about Bogbrush the Barbarian, my new books from Kids Can Press.

It's a hugely silly affair, with a giant, dimwitted barbarian blundering dangerously through a series of near-disasters that constitute his great quest to pull an axe out of a stone, which will prove that he's the true king of Scrofula.

Which, of course, he isn't.

More to come!