Last night I went to the fab book launch for Abi Elphinstone’s The Shadow Keeper, which is the sequel to her excellent debut The Dream Snatcher. I read The Shadow Keeper prologue online a couple of weeks ago and it’s even more creepy than the scary opening to The Dream Snatcher. The book has another incredible map by Thomas Flintham – who designed the gorgeous cover.
It was a great fun launch, and very inspiring because I got to hang out with lots of middle grade / children’s writers and bloggers and talk loads about books! Also got a chance to meet co-agenteers Andy and Tamsyn, and another MG Usborne author: Lara Williamson, who wrote the amazing A Boy Called Hope. Plus, I was given a copy of Yellow by Yü Kops Chow. He’s nine years old and wrote this amazing looking book -pictured next to Abi’s -in fact he was only seven when he wrote it. It’s designed by his dad with superb illustrations by his mum. Abi and Yü both signed their book for me, though Yü’s pen had nearly run out!
I’m very much looking forward to reading both books but especially The Shadow Keeper – to finally catch up with Moll, Siddy, Alfie and Gryff on their new adventures.
The other week a photographer friend Thomas Butler came round to take some author photos for the jacket of my book. It was all super-professional, apart from the fact that Mike had to hold the flash/lamp because Tom had forgotten to bring the lamp stand! And then another friend Susie gatecrashed the session with her gorgeous baby Zeph and did a bit of photobombing. Here are a few of the amazing pictures Tom took:
More Of Me revolves around the newest of many clones, Teva. Teva is sixteen and trying to lead a normal life, and yet time is running out for her…
Teeva’s mother, and various past-versions of herself, have been hiding out for years behind a high wire fence and a locked coded gate. Meanwhile, inside their suburban home, an insane reality is playing out. Once a year Teva splits like an ameoba into an identical other – a replacement for her older (yet younger) self. In six months, it’s due to happen again. To Teva Sixteen.
This weird premise feels fantastically unique, yet Kathryn Evans treats in such a matter of fact and human way that you totally buy into it. All the differently aged Teva clones are vividly drawn and it is a brilliant metaphor for the idea that our personalities are constantly growing and in flux. As the story moves on, Teva tries to solve the mystery around her being, but she must still go to school, cope with the interest of two different boys, one of whom is still in love with a previous clone – Teva Fifteen, and keep the secrets of her home life from her best friend Maddy.
Like each clone before her, Teva colludes with her mother to hide the rest of her selves, which creates strong feelings of guilt. More of Me is also about how alien you feel as a teen, and how frightened you are of your peers finding out you’re not what might be considered normal. This comes across very strongly in Kathryn’s writing, especially with the bittersweet quality of the ending. The set up also made me think of stories where paranoid parents lock their children up – like the movie The Wolfpack -but perhaps that link is a little more tangential!
Overall I really enjoyed More of Me, it’s beautifully written and I would categorize it as a mix of teen-drama and uniquely original science fiction.
At the beginning of the month I went to the launch of Kathryn Evans amazingly original YA teen story MORE OF ME at Daunt Books. The book was published by Usborne at the start of February. I’ve had a chance to meet Kathy a couple of times at Usborne events and she is truly lovely. Her book is quirky and original sci-fi take on how much you change as a teenager, how out of place you feel, and how you must be kind to the past versions of yourself and learn from their mistakes. Kathy gave a really good speech, as well as the usual thank you-s and stories, she had brought blow up photos of herself at different ages to talk about – which reflected brilliantly on the theme of the book.
It was a fantastic day and evening. My friend Sarah came down from Edinburgh and we went to see the Alice in Wonderland Exhibition at the British Library before the book launch. Then afterwards we went for a dinner with all the SCBWI folk who had come to the launch (-which was a LOT! as Kathy is devoted member of SCBWI and also their finance officer).
I made this gorgeous wrapping paper for my friends 40th a few weeks ago. It features Malkin the talking mechanical fox in my book, here giving some birthday advice…
We met at Etc Venues, round the corner from Usborne publishing, where for some reason there is a horse with a lampshade on his head in the lobby. Look, I kid you not…
PJ Norman and Anita Naik were our lecturers/ facilitators/ wise people – not quite sure what the word is here – for the day, and they took us through the basics of setting up a social media platform and posting content that links with and develops your author brand.
We spent some time looking at the plusses and minuses of various social media platforms. What kind of audiences used them, what worked in terms of content and frequency of posts, and the different kind of responses you might want to get from target audiences on the different platforms.
We also talked about author brands, and there was a little quiz about what we thought the brands of some well-known authors were. Afterwards we had to boil down those famous author personalities into three sentences that described them and their work.
And then, after the coffee break, horror of horrors, we were tasked with doing the same for ourselves. It was a great opportunity to pitch your own themes and interests not just for your debut novel, but more generally, and get feedback from PJ and Anita and the other authors.
The day was also a chance for me to finally get to meet the three other Usborne authors who are debuting alongside me and my book Cogheart in 2016.
Kathryn Evans, whose YA book More of Me published this week (hopefully I’ll have time to write another post about that soon) I had met before at a few SCBWI events, but the other two authors – Sarah Alexander (whose YA book The Art of Not Breathing comes out in April 2016) and Simon Cherry ( whose MG book Eddy Stone and the Pirate in the bath comes out sometime in the Summer) – I was meeting for the first time. It was very interesting to find out about their books and then have the chance to chat to them in the pub afterwards about their publishing experience.
Waiting for Callback launch…
Then, Sarah and I ended up going on to Perdita and Honor Cargill’s glamorous book launch for Waiting for Callback at Daunt books that evening, which was a fantastic way to finish up the day!
Here are a few pictures from that as well. I have only managed to read the first twenty or thirty pages of Waiting for Callback so far, but it is BLOOMING HILARIOUS…