Spring into March with six steampunk stories!

Here’s a video I made for George Kirk – the librarian at the BGRS Learning Resource Centre  – all about my six favourite steampunk stories! You can read the transcript for the chat and more about each book below!

Hello! It’s March, almost springtime! And there are a lot of springs in steampunk. So to spring into March I would like to recommend six of my favourite steampunk stories. What is steampunk I hear you ask, well, I’ll tell you… steampunk is science-fiction fantasy with a Victorian flavour. Technology wise, there’s airships, steam-vehicles, clockwork machines, and sometimes there’s also a little bit of magic! And now that we’ve cleared that up. Let’s talk about the books–

1: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.

Northern Lights is the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s about a girl called Lyra, who has a daemon called Pantalaimon.Pan is a fragment of Lyra’s soul in animal form, who can change shape to any creature under the sun. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped from Oxford, they set out on an adventure to find him that takes them to the frozen island of Bolvangar. They meet: gyptians, fairies, explorers, witches, evil scientists and enormous armoured polar bears!

It’s a cracking adventure, beautifully written and a classic of the genre.

Look out for the new BBC series that is based on His Dark Materials coming soon! And for the prequel series – The Book of Dust – that starts with The Belle Sauvage.

2: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.

A story of traction cities: armoured cities on wheels that move through the wastelands of the world eating each other up. While investigating a mystery, our heroes Tom and Hester, get pushed of the edge of London and end up in the desert. To make their way home, they must deal with traction pirates, asassin robots, and a plot to blow up the rest of the world!

It’s a story filled to the brim with action, unique ideas and quirky characters, and also the first part in a long running series.

Look out for the new movie of Mortal Engines coming in the autumn, produced by Peter Jackson!

3: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is set in a steampunk 1914 on the brink of the 1st world war. It’s the Clankers, with their enormous steam-powered machines vs the Darwinists with their genetically engineered flying creatures! Alex, a clanker prince heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is running away from the men who killed his father, when he bumps into Derren a girl who’s disguised herself as a boy to join the Darwinist airforce of Great Britain. So begin their adventures together. Can they stop the looming World War?

It’s a war story unlike any other – filled with spy missions, enormous battles between flying whales and walking tanks. And is also the first part of an excellent series.  Plus it has amazing illustrations!

4: The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart

When Emmeline’s scientist parents disappear, she finds herself on the way to a safehouse in France with an orphan boy called Thing. But she’s kidnapped before she can arrive by the evil Dr Bauer, who hopes to summon a dangerous creature from beneath the frozen North pole…

An action packed story that’s filled with so much adventure it will make your head spin! Thing is my favourite character in this one: resourceful, mouthy and brave, he rescues Emmeline as many times as she saves him!

5: Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word their father has died in an attempt to reach the South Polaris. A mysterious clue leads them to question this fact and they set out to discover the truth of what happened to his expedition…

What I like so far is: the fun world building of Lontown, and that Arthur has a bionic arm that makes him different from everyone else. Hopefully that theme develops throughout the story…

UPDATE: I finished the book. It’s a great fun younger mg steampunk adventure. Fast paced and filled with broad, bubbly characters and bright, colourful world building, with lots of different sights to see. The friendly and enjoyable writing style evoked the feel and tone of Aardman’s pirates, or a classic kids anime-manga adventure series.

6: COGHEART by me!!

Lily’s life is torn apart, when her papa, a famous inventor, disappears in an airship crash. With her friends, Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin her pet mechanical fox she set out on a journey to discover the truth of what happened to him. But first she must escape the plans of her evil governess and the machinations of a pair of silver-eyed men who are after her papa’s most famous invention: the Cogheart.

I promise you it’s an exciting and scary read, full of twist and turns that you hopefully won’t see coming!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my video and that you read some of my steampunk book selection. If you do let me know what you thought of them! Goodbye and good luck, may the steam be with you! And keep reading!

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Podcast double- #DownTheRabbitHole & #WordMonkeys

 This week I appeared on two podcasts: the Down the Rabbit Hole Radio Show and the WordMonkeys Podcast 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole Radio Show

Here’s me chatting to Polly Ho-Yen, and Katherine Woodfine and Mellissa Cox about three new books, each with a connection to poetry and spoken word: You Can Do Anything: Hip and Hop written by Akala, illustrated by Sav Akyuz Overheard in a Tower Block written by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner and Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence…

WordMonkeys Podcast 

Here’s me chatting to Matt Brown over on his WordMonkeys Podcast this week — discussing writing Cogheart, Postman Pat, Children’s TV shows, and how I get mistaken for another 72YO Peter Bunzl — and if you like that, there are lots of previous episodes featuring Matt’s writer chats with the likes of Piers Torday, Holly Bourne, Robin Stephens, SF Said etc.

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Cogheart Blogpost Roundup

Finally for December, I thought I would share some of the blogposts and Q and As I have written since Cogheart was published in one big group post. Here they are…

It was fun to answer everyone’s various questions about the book, and even occasionally get to write about a few different things, like my favourite animals in children’s fiction…

 

Bringing Animals to Life in Children’s Fiction for The Writers and Artists Blog….

Talking about the genesis of Cogheart with Stephanie over on her blog Typewritered…

 I also spoke with Pippa Wilson  at the HelloPipski Blog about the inside story behind Cogheart.

Who posted a lovely review of the book…

 

For the YaShot Blog Tour 2016 I spoke to George Lester over on his blog.

I also did a super-long interview with the website Airship Ambassador, which I think answers any question anyone could possibly conceive of about the book, here…

Over on Christina Banach‘s blog I took part in her spotlight author interviews…

And on Words and Pictures the SCBWI Blog I answered questions in Nicky Schmidt’s Scbwi Debut Authors series, talking about my journey to publication.

Words and pictures Banner Andrea L Paktchi

Fab Cogheart review on Books-a-Go-Go blog

Check out this fab Cogheart review by Becca Judge on her children’s book blog Books-a-Go-Go.

Here’s a lovely quote from her about Cogheart….

…an ingenious and fresh take on adventuring in Victorian England. Readers should get ready for danger and imminent peril in a world of automatons and airships. Think Christmas Day Doctor Who special, only much, much better, as Bunzl’s beautiful writing is as soulful as it is thrilling.cogheart-done

Books I read in 2015 + a few of my faves…

Sepia Library Flying books

2015 is not quite over yet, and I might get one more book read if I’m lucky, but for now here are all the books I read in 2015. Looking at them all, there is quite a lot of Middle Grade, a bit of YA and one or two adult SCIFIs in there.

It’s a tough call but my favourite books of the year were probably.

In Middle Grade: PHOENIX,  ROOFTOPPERS being a close second.

In YA: SABRIEL

And in Adult fiction (of which I barely read any!): THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Read all four and you will not be disappointed – they are all amazing!!

And to be honest, most of the rest of the year’s read were pretty amazing too…

Books I read in 2015 #2Books I read in 2015 #1

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Three

First off –  went to see Chris Jones interview Eddie Hamilton – a film editor who worked with Matthew Vaughn on Kick Ass and various of his other movies as a producer. Also with Guy Ritchie. He was very interesting  on editing and on how he reads spec scripts for friends projects and gives feedback from an editors point of view.

Then there was – a comedy writing panel discussion with – Dean Craig, Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil chaired by Paul Bassett Davis. This again was a great informal discussion on writing comedy, process and how to get into it as a career. 

In the afternoon I went to Chris Jones talk – Winning your first Oscar – a bit of a hyperbolic title – but as Chris pointed out every year some unknown does win an Oscar for a short film/animation – so it is within the realms of possibility. The talk was about making and distributing Gone Fishing – his brilliant short – and how they planned a festival campaign with a view to maximizing their chance of an Oscar nomination. They end up sixth on the shortlist, just missing the nomination. But his  views on how to work the film festivals ‘system’ were interesting and pragmatic.

Then I went to a talk on crime writing. This was something I know nothing about and a random choice. I thought they might talk about crime structures in features, but it was mostly about developing concepts for long running crime TV shows and how to keep them interesting and varied. I found it a little dull as it’s not really my area of interest.

I didn’t stay for the very end of the festival, but overall it was a very enjoyable three days and I met quite a few writers – all of whom were very friendly –  most also starting out, and in the same boat as me. 

The first time organizers did fantastically well to put on such a festival and I would definitely consider going again.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day Two

Started with – in conversation with Barry Keith on the Long Good Friday. I arrived late and just caught the end of this. They showed some clips from the movie – I have seen it, but a long time ago – in my mind I had it mixed up with Mona Lisa. Barry Keith was very interesting and talked on writing about social issues for theatre in the seventies and eighties.

Then – Non Linear Story telling with Linda Aronson who had lots of great tips on structuring non linear and multi protagonist stories. She was trying to cram too much material into her time slot and it became a bit much for me in the end. I think she should have stuck to the basics more but having said that I left with a few stand out revelations about structuring these kinds of movies.

After that I took a break – I needed to stop brain overload. I went for lunch and chatted to a few people.

In the afternoon – there was a brilliant panel discussion on writing for young people, which was much more informal and chatty. Panelist – Danny Stacke, Gayle Reynard, Chris Hill, Andy Briggs. There was lots of advice from the panelists on breaking into shows for young people. Be it animation, childrens drama or teenage drama shows like Skins.

London Screenwriters Festival – Day one

I Started off seeing – Tim Bevan in conversation with Michael Gubbins. A very interesting potted history of Working Title going from My Beautiful Launderette to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – and there was me thinking they only produced Richard Curtis/Bridget Jones/ Rom-coms and Bean movies. Tim Bevan also talked about the Film Councils demise and how he thought this was a regretable decision (which he would as he ran it) but he’s yet to hear from Jeremy Hunt what the alternative is going to be.

Then I saw – in conversation with Gub Neal ( ex C4 – now an indie producer) and Ben Stephenson (drama commissioner for the BBC) . It was interesting to hear about how the commissioning process worked at the various TV channels and what they looked for. Both had good things to say about the state of TV drama.

Then I went to Kate Leys workshop on script editing and process. Which had some good tips on script development – I have written up in another post.

Then meet the BBC writers room – which was all about finding your voice, and also about BBC writers room submission process. By this time my brain was pretty fried.

The day ended with Chris Jones interviewing John August over skype. It was slightly surreal seeing this projection of a big talking head from LA , Chris said it was rather like the Wizard of Oz. John had interesting things to say about working practices and being a Hollywood writer. I am already an avid reader of his blog and think he gives good down to earth advice.

Finally ended with a drink in the bar and met a few more delegates. Everyone seems very friendly and open to chat. I have met quite a few people already. A good – if mind frying first day!