To celebrate the publication of Mystery & Mayhem this month, I headed out on tour! With my author essentials all packed up, it was time to hit the road…
The tour began with the Tales on Moon Lane Festival. Robin Stevens and I hosted two fun mystery-themed sessions with groups from local schools at the gorgeous Dulwich Picture Gallery.
En route to the Dulwich Picture Gallery!
In between events, we had time for a bunbreak in the sun, and a wander around the beautiful gallery. Their collection includes paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Canaletto and Poussin – perfect inspiration for me, since I’m currently working on The Mystery of the Painted Dragon, which centres around an art world mystery!
Our day finished up with an after-school event, where lots of lovely readers came along to meet us and hear us chat about why we love mystery stories, and the inspiration behind our contributions to Mystery & Mayhem.
Many thanks to Tales on Moon Lane for a really lovely day of events!
Lots of lovely books for sale from Tales on Moon Lane
The next day, I headed to Sevenoaks for an afternoon event at the Sevenoaks Bookshop.
Brilliant bookshop owner Fleur had planned an extravaganza of an afternoon, including Jewelled Moth-inspired cakes and biscuits, complete with jelly moonbeam diamonds, and Clockwork Sparrow and Jewelled Moth badges to create!
The highlight was a secret code competition which gave everyone the chance to put their own detective skills to the test, with the winner receiving a fabulous prize – their very own jewelled moth! Congratulations to prize-winner Amelie!
I loved meeting lots of readers, and having the chance to chat to them – including blogger Miss T Recommends who wrote this lovely post about the event.
Thank you so much for having me Sevenoaks Bookshop, and for organising a super fun afternoon!
On Sunday, it was time to head to Leeds, for the Leeds Book Awards ceremony on Monday. I was so pleased that The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was in the running for the 9-11 category of these awards, which are voted for by children – you can see all their brilliant reviews of the shortlisted books here.
The event was huge fun – there were 500 children attending as well as the shortlisted authors. There were questions from the schools who took part, a spot of live poetry, and author Gill Lewis even taught us all how to communicate with gorillas, inspired by her shortlisted book, the wonderful Gorilla Dawn.
Finally Gill was announced as the winner (congratulations Gill!) and we spent time signing lots of books and meeting lots of the school groups that took part. Such a fun day and a great awards scheme – thanks so much to Leeds SLS and Leeds Public Libraries!
All the shortlisted authors were presented with their own special Leeds Book Awards crystal!
Next stop on my mystery tour was Liverpool!
On Tuesday, I visited Edge Hill University with Just Imagine, to meet trainee primary teachers, and talk to them about books, reading and writing. It’s always great meeting students, and as a bonus I also got to hear Just Imagine’s brilliant Nikki Gamble talking about the power of picture books. There was time to sign a few books for some of the students and staff before I was on the road again.
On Wednesday, I was in Oxford, where I joined up with Robin and our fellow Crime Club member Julia Golding for an event as part of Oxford Bookfeast.
Our session took place at the amazing Pitt Rivers museum, which is one of my favourite places in Oxford. We had a great fun event (including a detective quiz!) and a highlight for me was the chance to say hi to author M G Leonard, author of the amazing Beetle Boy, in the Green Room.
Selfie time in the Green Room!
Back in London, I headed to the Greenwich Book Festival. I zipped up the river on the Thames Clipper for a solo session as part of the festival’s schools programme, in the beautiful Old Royal Naval College.
Me and Mystery & Mayhem on the Thames Clipper
I had such a lot of fun meeting local school groups, talking everything from Enid Blyton books to Edwardian hats.
If that wasn’t enough, on the same day, Mystery & Mayhem was reviewed in The Sun who gave it four stars! Check out the review here, as well as a review of Robin’s new book, the fab Jolly Foul Play.
The final stop – Hay Festival! I was there for a mystery-themed event, this time teaming up with Frances Hardinge, Lyn Gardner and Emma Carroll.
I had a great time chatting all things mystery with Frances, Lyn and Emma. On the same day, I was also really pleased to be able to go along to the YA Book Prize announcement at Hay – I was lucky enough to be one of the judges for the prize this year, which was a huge privilege. It was fantastic to hear from all ten amazing shortlisted authors at the event, and to see the Prize awarded to this year’s winner Sarah Crossan.
It was pretty amazing to remember that just a year ago I was at Hay for my first ever author event (which you can read about here). That was also the first time I saw The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow on a real bookshop shelf – so it felt extra special to be back at the Hay Festival bookshop, and this time to see not just one book, but three!
What could be a better finale to a brilliant tour to celebrate Mystery & Mayhem? Thanks to Hay Festival and everyone I visited!
Yesterday, Daunt Books in Cheapside hosted the launch of the brand new Crime Club anthology Mystery and Mayhem!
The book features twelve authors, and twelve original short stories for ages 8+. Inside, you’ll find everything from a fantastic historical mystery from Helen Moss, to a contemporary crime story from Robin Stevens – as well as a brand new story from me. Set in the world of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, and taking place between the end of the first book and its sequel, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, ‘The Mystery of the Purloined Pearls’ is told from the point of view of chorus-girl turned detective Lil and takes us behind the scenes in the Edwardian theatre.
I also wrote the introduction to the new book, which is all about why crime stories make such brilliant reading. I’m so excited to be part of the Crime Club with so many brilliant authors, and it was a real privilege to write the introduction to the book.
We managed to gather one third of the Crime Club together, as well as lots of friends, for a launch party to celebrate the new book. Here I am with three of the other authors – Harriet Whitehorn, Helen Moss and Robin Stevens:
Robin and Egmont publicist extraordinaire Maggie Eckel were beautifully coordinated with the book cover:
Lovely window display!
Some detective work in action:
Robin and Helen with crime fan Yu
And of course, no launch is complete without a spread of cakes, biscuits and buns! The pineapple decorations come courtesy of Helen (you’ll have to read her Mystery & Mayhem story to find out why pineapples are significant!)
What a fab evening! Thanks so much to Daunt Books and to everyone who came for helping to welcome Mystery and Mayhem into the world. Find out more about the new book here.
Over the last few months, I’ve been busy going out and about to lots of events, and talking about The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth. I haven’t had much time for blogging – but I have been capturing my adventures via Instagram!
Here are a few highlights:
2016 got off to a great start with a trip down to Falmouth, in Cornwall, with Louise. The visit had been organised by Falmouth University, who had invited us to talk to their creative writing students about getting published and getting an agent. The perfect opportunity for a winter trip to the seaside!
As well as a lovely event at the university, where we had the chance to meet and chat with lots of students, we also visited a fantastic local school, where Year 5 had turned a corner of their classroom into the Millennium Falcon!
I wasn’t at all surprised to discover lots of lively imaginations in the class when we got started coming up with ideas for mystery stories.
Afterwards there was even chance for a quick paddle on the nearby beach (it was a bit cold though!)
In February I spent lots of time out and about visiting schools. One highlight was my day out with Little Star Writing: a fab organisation that runs award-winning children’s creative writing workshops.
I visited two fantastic schools with the lovely Mel, for author talks and signings – as well as as the chance to join some of the Little Star Writers for an after-school writing group.
I was really inspired by talking to them about their writing and hearing them read aloud – what a wonderful initiative. It happened to be the day of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlist announcement, and the children enthusiastically helped me celebrate!
Also in February, I travelled up to Chester for the WayWord Festival. I had a really fun afternoon in Chester Town Hall, which had been gorgeously decorated with book-themed bunting and vintage suitcases exploding with books and book characters for the occasion.
I talked to an audience of children and families about Clockwork Sparrow and Jewelled Moth – with a little help from some young detectives in the audience. But my favourite thing of all was the music they played when I came on stage… now I feel like the Jurassic Park theme should be playing every time I enter a room!
Soon after, Jewelled Moth was officially published – and then it was time for World Book Day!
I headed out for several days of school visits, including a visit to the Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School in Hampton, where as well as meeting lots of keen readers, I also had the chance to meet the school archivist, who showed me some amazing Edwardian photographs from the school archives – like this one:
I also headed out to The Weald School in Billingshurst, who were celebrating World Book Day with their annual Weald Book Awards. Local primary schools take part in the awards, reading all seven books on the shortlist, and voting to choose the winner – as well as making lots of brilliant work inspired by the shortlisted books.
The awards culminate with a special evening event hosted by the pupils themselves, with some of the authors in attendance. I had a great evening and really enjoyed meeting the two other shortlisted authors who were tehre – Jennifer Grey and Kim Slater.
Although none of our books scooped the top prize – that honour went to Danny Wallace for Hamish and the World-Stoppers – we all had a fantastic evening, and I especially loved seeing some of the amazing work that pupils had created inspired by Clockwork Sparrow.
And for World Book Day itself, I headed out with the brilliant Just Imagine for some events at primary schools in Billericay in Essex. Everyone got involved, putting their detective skills to the test, trying their hand at my new secret code puzzle, and even helping to come up with some amazing ideas for titles for my next book!
I saw some truly amazing World Book Day costumes (the teachers had pretty great outfits too). I wished that I’d dressed up as well, but at least I had my trusty straw sailor hat with me as an accessory:
And to complete World Book Day… I was on TV!
Back in London after a busy day, I headed over to Channel 5’s studios to be a guest on their 6.30pm news programme. I joined presenter Matt Barbet for a chat about World Book Day, and why celebrating reading is so important.
You can watch the interview here:
Being on live TV was a little bit nerve-racking, but fun – a great conclusion to World Book Day week! Now I’m looking forward to a couple of quiet weeks … and oh yes, perhaps doing a bit of writing…!
PS Follow my next round of author adventures on Instagram at @followtheyellow
Illustration from The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Julia Sarda.
To celebrate the publication of The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, what better than a blog tour? During publication week I popped over to one of five fantastic blogs each day, to share some insight into the book – the background to the story, and the real-life Edwardian history that helped inspire it.
Check out the blog tour here:
If you’d like to find out more about the background to The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, you can also check out this piece for the Guardian, about why I chose to write about Edwardian China Town.
I also took part in this celebratory Happy Book Birthday blog post over at MG Strikes Back.
And finally, I wrote this classics-inspired piece for Ya Yeah Yeah about how the classic detective story The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins helped to inspire The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth.
Thanks so much to all the lovely bloggers who took part for hosting me – and for helping to celebrate The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth!
World Book Day is coming up next week, on Thursday 3 March and there are all kinds of exciting things going on to celebrate reading! Like most authors, I have a busy World Book Day week in store, including the Weald Book Award ceremony, as well as lots of events in schools.
For anyone who might be looking for some extra Sparrow and Moth themed World Book Day fun, with perfect timing, I’ve just added some lovely new resources created by my publishers, Egmont, to my website:
Code cracking activity
Fancy yourself a bit of a detective? Put your code-cracking skills to the test and see if you can find the solution to this secret code puzzle, which will also reveal the title of the third book in the series, coming in early 2017! Download the puzzle
I love a bit of colouring-in myself, and if you do too, you can download one of three lovely colouring sheets with artwork from the books.
Choose from a Clockwork Sparrow, a Jewelled Moth, or a mysterious mask that you can then cut out and wear, perfect for a fancy-dress party like the one that Sophie and Lil attend undercover in The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth.
If you have a go at one of the colouring sheets, then don’t forget to send me a picture of the finished product – I’ll be making a new Pinterest board of your colouring creations!
On the subject of fancy-dress, I also wanted to share a few ideas for anyone who wants to dress up as a character from The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow or The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth for World Book Day!
There are lots of characters to choose from, but here are a few ideas to get you started – plus a couple of pictures to help inspire you (click the image to find the source). Of course you can find lots more inspiration for your Edwardian costumes on my Pinterest board here.
‘… she lifted her chin and set off smartly round the corner of the great building, the little heels of her buttoned boots clicking briskly over the cobbles. As she approached, her heart began to thump, and she put up a hand to check that her hat, with its blue ribbon bow, was at exactly the right angle, and that her hair was not coming down.
Dress up as Sophie on her way to work in the Millinery Department at Sinclair’s! Sophie would wear a long, dark-coloured skirt; a white blouse with a lace collar; and a straw hat with a ribbon round it. Sophie usually wears her long hair pinned up, but when she isn’t at Sinclair’s, she might wear it loose or in a plait.
‘Her cheeks were flushed with excitement: it had been her first night at her show at the theatre… and now she was on her way to the party. She was wearing a hat wreathed in poppies and she had a crimson scarf at her neck.’
Lil might wear glamorous clothes when she’s working as a mannequin at Sinclair’s, or performing in the theatre – but for ordinary life, she would wear an outfit very similar to Sophie’s. She likes bright colours – so you might want to add a colourful ribbon, or some brightly-coloured flowers to her hat.
‘He was wearing the Sinclair’s porters’ uniform – trim, dark blue trousers, a matching jacket with a double row of brass buttons and a peaked hat – but the jacket looked a bit too big for him, the trousers a bit short, and the hat was askew on his untidy, straw-coloured hair.’
Create your own version of Billy’s uniform from a dark-coloured jacket with shiny buttons, and dark coloured trousers – plus maybe a cap. Don’t forget that as a shop porter, he’ll need some brown-paper parcels or boxes to carry – and of course, a story stuffed into his pocket for when he can sneak away to read in secret!
‘He stood up in the gallery, high above the throng below. A champagne glass was in his hand, and he wore an exquisite dress coat over a snowy white waistcoat, against which a gold watch chain gleamed.’
Why not dress up as the Captain himself? Mr Sinclair is always very elegant: he wears a smart suit with a shirt and a bow-tie. You could add a pocket-watch, a top-hat, and a flower for his button-hole. Don’t forget a soft toy dog to be Lucky, Mr Sinclair’s pug!
Miss Veronica Whiteley
‘…she was dressed very beautifully in a much-ruffled, lace-trimmed ivory gown. She must be one of this season’s debutantes, and a particularly wealthy one at that.’
If you’ve read Jewelled Moth, you’ll have met new character Veronica – a debutante in Edwardian high society. Fashionable society ladies would wear long dresses, decorated with lace and ribbons. Debutantes like Veronica and her friends would usually wear light colours like white, pale pink or pale blue – bright colours would have been considered in very bad taste!
Remember to acccessorize with white gloves, a pearl necklace, or a lacy parasol – and of course, a hat decorated with flowers, bows or feathers. If you want to dress up as Veronica, you could even add a sparkly brooch to your costume to be the mysterious jewelled moth itself …
If you do dress up as a characters from Clockwork Sparrow or Jewelled Moth, be sure to send me a picture!
And if you’re looking for more ideas for fun bookish costumes, check out the Guardian’s gallery here.
However you plan to celebrate this year’s World Book Day, I hope you have a wonderful time!