How to make a Muppet

June 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

It doesn’t get much better than this.

The Mouse Exhibition

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

With the final Mousehunter book pretty much signed off now, I’ve started thinking about the launch. This time round it will coincide with me becoming a dad, at the start of January, so free time is going to be a bit on the short side. However, there are a couple of things in the pipeline, first and foremost being a Mouse Exhibition.

Mousebeard’s Revenge revolves around the International Mouse Exhibition, which, for the first time in many years, is taking place in Old Town. With this in mind, I thought it would be nice to create my own mouse exhibition, potentially something that could be boxed up and travel – maybe to bookshops around London (this is wishful thinking on my part, but I’m going to give it a go).

Planning is in the formative stages, so to get the ball rolling, I’m calling out for people who might like to help me create this thing. Time is not on my side at the minute, so I’m attempting to create an avalanche of mice by using hired hands.

If you’re handy and might like to make a mouse, whether it’s a little plasticine model, stitched or made of card, i want to hear from you. In return, you’ll definitely get invited to the launch (still planning that, likely to be in Crystal Palace…), and you’ll also get something from me in return, be that a signed copy of the book, or maybe a mouse of your choice drawn by me.

Either leave me a comment here, or drop me an email (contact address is at the top).

Be lovely to get your help and send the Mousehunter Trilogy off with a proper big mousey bang.

Garen Ewing and The Rainbow Orchid

June 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

I shall forever be indebted to Garen Ewing for designing the wonderful dinosaur logo for my children’s book festival, and it won’t be long before his wonderful Rainbow Orchid is released into the world, published by Egmont.

He deserves all the luck in the world with this, and his many friends and followers are getting behind the marketing push. Sarah McIntyre has even launched her own ‘draw a moustache on Garen’ competition. I’m a bit late at doing this, but here’s my tribute to Garen. Of course, it’s a full beard…
orchidbeard


Been a bit busy

June 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

I’ve been up to my eyeballs with work of late, which sounds like a bad thing to be. It’s not, I assure you. It just means the blog’s taken a hit. Hecky thump, everything’s taken a hit apart from work!

But let’s not dwell on that. The future is bright. There are bees in the garden, visiting our flowers. The sun has been out for 5 consecutive days. There was a Time Team special about Stonehenge last night. And Final Fantasy XIII, now previewed on the Xbox, is looking fabulous.

The Museum's Secret Quote

May 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

quoteAs a children’s author, I’m very aware that it’s never easy securing reviews in print. Unless you’re already well-known, or have written a children’s book aimed at the adult market, the chances are slim. And the problem that not having reviews means for anyone wanting to create an advert is that you won’t have any good, punchy quotes.

Children’s book reviewers online, on blogs and the like, are still getting established so there remains quite a bias towards the authority of old media. A favourable snippet (even tailored) from a big newspaper will look wonderful writ large in the advert, and will definitely add kudos.

Now having said all that, this advert for The Museum’s Secret by Henry Chancellor (it has no visible website, otherwise I’d link to it!) from Saturday’s Guardian does have a good quote – from the Times – about the first chapter being as gripping as an Indiana Jones film. But that is the second quote. To make up the numbers they’ve reproduced an ‘amazing’ un-credited quote from a review on Amazon.

For anyone who’s never looked at the reviews on a book’s Amazon page, I can tell you that there’s a good chance two of them will be by members of the author’s family, three of them in their circle of friends, and one of them by their cat. Alright, I maybe made up that last one, but you get the idea.

I’m not saying that the review isn’t real, because it is, it’s by someone called Davina, and here’s the link. She’s the first reviewer of the book on the page. (I must admit, I prefered her other review of a pregnancy book, which started, ‘ OK if you are a 1st time mum with no clue and no instincts’.)

So come on Oxford Children’s Books, if you’re willing to print quotes to sell books, do everyone a favour and credit them to their creators. Without a source it’s of no use and might well have been written by the author’s mum.

Lemurs and London Zoo

April 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

lemursYesterday’s trip to the London Zoo yielded many surprises. I was hoping to see a Lemur, my favourite type of animal which features so heavily in my Mousehunter School Talks, and I did. I saw a Ring-tailed Lemur, and as with all the Madagascan Lemurs it’s under threat in the wild – even if it’s not in as dire a predicament as some of the others, such as the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur.

But of more excitement to me were the unexpected creatures I came upon. Sloths proved to be wonderful, and I had the joy of watching one have a scratch. Then there were the Loris, which came as a complete surprise. I hadn’t realised that they’d look so human-like in their body shape. They were really something else.

And when you add all that to the Giant Anteaters, the Meerkats, the Vultures (who were keenly disecting mice/rats when I saw them) and, best of all, the performing Otters, it was a brilliant day out.

I’ve had reservations about visiting zoos in the past, but London Zoo gets it right in so many ways. Its emphasis is on conservation and while it obviously has some crowd-pleasers amongst its collection, it also focuses on many species that might otherwise get overlooked.

Something that particularly interests me is its EDGE programme. EDGE is uniquely concerned with the creatures that have few close relatives on the Tree of Life. These creatures are usually incredibly rare and very endangered, but they’re also the most peculiar and wonderful of all the species. If you don’t believe me, check out the Short-beaked Echidna.

So go to London Zoo. Yes, there are animals are in cages, but it’s not what you might expect. You might even be pleasantly surprised. And as an institution, it’s doing excellent work in research to keep many endangered species alive, both in captivity and in the wild.

Mousehunter toys

April 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

petsandowners1After seeing all the excellent Monsterism Pets and Owners figures at the exhibition yesterday, I’ve now become determined to make up my own Mousehunter figures one way or another. It’ll be good practice for the Yetis, which will definitely need toys.

I don’t know why I’ve become fixated with this. I suppose it’s much the same as badges – and I really do like those. The only slight issue is the cost of getting them made. But hey! Merchandise is the way forward.

I used to follow the progression of the Rustboy film, but that’s seemingly died, although the guy did make vinyl toys of his character. So it’s got to be doable right?

I’m in the process of rejigging and designing all the Mousehunter online stuff, so maybe I’ll soon have shop attached to it all. I’d certainly like to get some mouse prints made up. Any ideas for mousing paraphenalia, and I’m all ears, whiskers and tails.

Digging the garden again

April 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

seed3


I’m having a week of garden demolition. This is pretty dull stuff, as it happens, like sawing through a tree that fell down and churning over my veg plot ready for lettuce, peas and courgettes. I’m hoping for a better summer this year so that the slugs don’t eat everything.

The reason I mention this is because I tend to think of nothing while digging. It’s very refreshing to think of nothing, because it’s in those times that there’s space for new ideas to form. It was about fours years ago today that I was tending my veg plot while writing the Mousehunter. That photo at the top is from this April 2nd’s post on my long-dead veg blog from four years ago. Obviously, you’ll see Milo with his head in a bag of compost. It’s a pretty usual sight, Milo with his head in something, checking something out. And i know it doesn’t mention it, but at the time I was planning how Algernon Mountjack should come into the story.

It’s nice to look back sometimes.

Tintin and "Chang!"

March 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

tintinI’ve been reading a book about the life of Hergé, the creator of Tintin, and the stories about the intrepid Belgian reporter are suddenly making much more sense – particularly Tintin in Tibet.

I now understand all about “CHANG!” and the peculiar storyline that relies on nothing other than Tintin’s dreams and intuition for narrative drive. Tintin in Tibet was the first Tintin I read, and I just didn’t get it at the time – it’s pretty basic fare compared to some of the others, even if the art is amazingly clean and beautiful (and there’s a yeti!).

But now I know the history of Hergé and his real friend Chang (someone who’d opened his eyes to Chinese culture, and even played a major role the creation of Tintin and the Blue Lotus), it becomes clear that Tintin in Tibet is a calling cry to a friend who he’s sure is still alive, even after they’d lost touch many years ago. I was almost in tears reading how events of the 20th Century conspired to keep Hergé from Chang for nearly 50 years.

It is a story worthy of a Tintin book in itself, and I can’t do it justice here, but when I read that after Hergés death Chang took to wearing a yellow scarf in honour of him (the same as the character wore in Tintin in Tibet), I realised that Tintin in Tibet had a lot more going for it than I first thought.

Furnace: Lockdown

March 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Bits and Bobs

furnace

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now, so here it is. Alexander Gordon Smith’s new series is shaping up to be a corker.

I’m currently about half way through the first book – I want to get it finished before I hear him talk about it at the Crystal Palace Book Festival – but it’s already scary and exhilarating in equal measure. The book’s very different to his Inventors stories, and it’s interesting to see him write for older readers. There’s burglary, torture and death, and all sorts of wonderfully nasty Prison Break style situations. I just hope that none of it’s based on real-life experience.

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