Archive of ‘adventures’ category
Merry Christmas everyone!
It’s been a brilliant 2015 – thanks for reading and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
This Edwardian Christmas card is exactly how I imagine Christmas Eve would be like at Sinclair’s department store…
[Image via Pinterest]
I couldn’t resist sharing some pictures of a boating excursion that I recently had with my agent Louise and editors Ali and Hannah from Egmont.
Boats – and in particular, a boat race – feature prominently in the sequel to The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, so for research purposes it seemed only appropriate to do a little rowing ourselves – in this case on the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park.
Hannah and Ali take to the oars
Louise is taking this rowing business seriously
Are you sure you’re up to this, Woodfine?
Hilarity sets in
As it turns out, my characters are much better at rowing than I am. I don’t think I am going to be winning any boat races anytime soon, unless it is a competition to see who is best at rowing in a circle!
But in spite of my less-than-brilliant rowing abilities (and interruptions from some very curious geese) we had a fantastic afternoon – very Swallows and Amazons!
Naturally we followed our boating excursion with a delicious afternoon tea, which I think Sophie and Lil would definitely approve of.
Time for tea!
Autumn wallpaper by Bravelets
Autumn is here and it’s the season for book events!
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been all around the country, meeting children, visiting schools, and getting into the swing of doing lots of author events.
No sooner was I back from my visit to the Manx Litfest than it was time to head to Cambridge for a mystery-themed afternoon at the lovely Heffers Bookshop.
There, I was joined by two other mystery authors – Helen Moss, author of the Adventure Island and Secrets of the Tomb series – and Patricia Eliot, author of House of Eyes, which is also an Edwardian mystery story set in 1909 – the very same year as The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. We each read from our books, and answered questions from our host, bookseller Hilary, as well as lots of questions from children in the audience.
As well as having the chance to take part in a great event, it was fantastic to have the chance to explore Cambridge – including watching punting on the river, sampling some of the famous Fitzbillie’s buns, watching punting on the river, and rummaging in one of the best second-hand bookshops I’ve ever visited. (With great difficulty, I managed to restrain myself to just three purchases including a beautiful 1940s hardcover edition of the first in the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville, Mystery at Witchend.)
Next up I headed north to Weatherhead High School on the Wirral, for a visit as part of their Author Week. Weatherhead High is a fantastic school with a lovely school library. Each year, the library plays host to a whole week of author visits organised by the school librarian (the appropriately-named) Miss Grainger. Every single class in Year 7 and Year 8 gets the chance to meet an author (the other authors taking part included Amy Alward, Sarah Sky, Tamsyn Murray and Julian Sedgwick) which I thought was a brilliant idea.
A few highlights from Weatherhead!
During my visit, I met three classes from Year 7 and Year 8 for a session in the school library – and also met lots more pupils during the lunchtime signing session. Being in the school library really took me back to my own secondary school days, when the school library was one of my favourite places (I even had a school librarian badge to prove it!) The day was great fun, and I really enjoyed being in a school where there was so much obvious enthusiasm for reading.
Next up, I headed to Cheltenham for this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. Here, I teamed up with fellow Mystery Girl Robin Stevens for a sell-out event: Murder Mysteries and Iced Buns for Tea!
We were excited to discover on arrival that our event was taking place in a brightly-coloured big top tent – and that our publishers were also providing iced buns for all the children in the audience.
I always have a great time doing events with Robin, and this was no exception. We were so well looked after by the festival, and the audience were fantastic and had lots of really great questions about mysteries, writing and our inspirations. Everyone was especially excited to see the cover of Robin’s forthcoming fourth book in the Murder Most Unladylike series, Jolly Foul Play, which had only been revealed a couple of days previously.
After the event we signed lots of books at the outdoor signing session – it was brilliant to meet so many enthusiastic mystery fans!
Slightly windblown authors after outdoor signing! Photo courtesy of Robin
Thanks so much to Heffers Bookshop, Weatherhead High School, and Cheltenham Literature Festival.
[Download Bravelets Blog Hello Autumn wallpaper here]
I was super excited to be invited over to the Isle of Man this month, to take part in this year’s Manx LitFest.
I’ve visited the Isle of Man just once before, when I was only about 8 years old. I don’t remember very much from that trip, except for the ferry crossing over from Heysham, saying ‘hello’ to the fairies while going over the Isle of Man’s famous ‘fairy bridge’ and er… making friends with a nice dog on a beach.
This time, however, I flew over to the island on Thursday afternoon to find the Isle of Man was looking spectacular in the beautiful September sunshine. My first port of call on arrival was a reception to launch the Manx LitFest, at the Noa Bakehouse in Douglas – complete with local Isle of Man beer, and the bakery’s own freshly-baked sourdough bread.
At the launch, I had the chance to meet some fellow authors and illustrators, as well as some of the festival’s organisers, who were lovely. The Manx LitFest only started a few years ago, and it has such a friendly atmosphere – it is obviously a real community effort, with lots of people getting involved to help make it a success.
The launch was followed by a book-themed quiz – the hotly-contested annual Book Fanatics Quiz Night. The authors and illustrators taking part in the festival took on the role of quizmasters for the occasion – and my round, appropriately enough, was Enid Blyton themed!
After a great evening of quizzing it was back to the hotel, situated on the promenade in Douglas. The Isle of Man was a popular holiday destination in the Victorian era, and the Douglas sea-front is lined with beautiful old buildings that were once boarding houses. Now it has a kind of faded grandeur that is hugely appealing – even our hotel, The Regency, had lots of old-fashioned charm, including a tiny, very old-school lift.
Friday brought a full day of events in Isle of Man schools, as part of the Lit Fest’s Schools Day. My lovely festival volunteer Kirsty took me on a tour of the island, visiting three different primary schools – Victoria Road School, Arbory School and Peel Clothwoker’s School. At each school I had the chance to meet lots of enthusiastic young readers – from Year 3 up to Year 6 – and to tell them about The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. We also had a lot of fun coming up with our own ideas for mystery stories – including creating some incredibly imaginative heroes and villains.
Poster in Arbory School!
With Year 6 at Peel Clothworker’s School
Talking to Years 3 & 4 at Arbory Road School – photo by Manx Lit Fest
Doing four school sessions in a day was intense but luckily Kirsty knew exactly when it was time to stop off for an emergency ice-cream break!
On Saturday there was time for a traditional breakfast of Manx kippers before I set out to Ramsay to Mooragh Park for the festival’s Family Day – which this year was Famous Five and Secret Seven themed With a detective trail to follow, puzzles to solve, Blyton-themed craft activities and even its very own ‘Kirrin Island’ it couldn’t have been much more up my street!
At the Famous Five & Secret Seven Family Day
I was due to give a short reading from The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, as well as signing books at the pop-up bookshop, run by the wonderful Bridge Bookshop from Port Erin. As usual though I couldn’t resist getting a bit more involved and ended up doing a ‘secret agent fingerprinting’ activity with kids, and then revisiting my bookselling days helping out in the bookshop. It was great to see lots of the children that I had met in schools the day before coming back with their families to join in the fun.
At the pop-up bookshop!
Reading at the family day! Photo via Manx Lit Fest
Sunday was my final day in the Isle of Man – and happily there was time for a final long stroll along the beautiful Douglas sea-front in the sunshine, before heading to the airport.
I had such a wonderful time on the Isle of Man – many thanks to the entire Manx Lit Fest team for a really fantastic weekend!
The Edinburgh International Book Festival has been a firm fixture in my diary over the last few years. August just wouldn’t be August without some sunny (or more likely, cold and rainy!) days in Charlotte Square. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, and the festival is always great fun – I’ve so enjoyed the chance to visit each year, when the various Children’s Laureates have been appearing as part of the Book Festival programme.
So this year, I couldn’t have been more delighted to be appearing at the Book Festival as an author myself! On Saturday, I joined fellow debut author Gabrielle Kent for an event entitled Crime Solvers and Mystery Keepers, as part of the children’s programme.
Photo by Gabrielle’s husband Satish aka @asianastroboy
It was lovely to meet Gabrielle and have the chance to chat to her – I really enjoyed her book, Alfie Bloom and the Secret of Hexbridge Castle, published by Scholastic.
This is the story of young hero Alfie Bloom, whose life changes dramatically when he inherits a mysterious old castle concealing some strange (and dangerous) secrets. A shape-shifting solicitor, an enigmatic butler, a flying bearskin rug and a pair of truly horrible villains all appear in this very entertaining magical adventure.
Alfie and his gang of friends have a Famous Five vibe that I really like – so it was no surprise to discover at the event that Gabrielle is a fellow Blyton fan! Her day job is lecturing in computer game design, and it was really interesting to hear about how this influences her writing – she talked about how she envisioned certain scenes in the book being like a level in a computer game.
We had a really great time chatting on stage, chaired by the brilliant Lindsey Fraser, who gave the children in the audience the chance to ask us lots of questions. We talked about everything from writing tips to whether we’d like our books to be made into films (a resounding YES PLEASE!) to Harry Potter.
Photo by @asianastroboy
Afterwards we signed books in the festival bookshop where we got to meet lots of the children who came along.
Photo by @kwebberwrites
I also had chance to pay a quick visit to Waterstones on George Street where I was pleased to espy The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow on display!
Needless to say there was time for lots of other Edinburgh treats and fun times – including going to amazing vintage ice-cream parlour Mary’s Milk Bar and visits to Peter’s Yard to eat lots of BUNS – a definite Edinburgh essential.
Thanks so much for a wonderful weekend Edinburgh Book Festival – hope to see you again next year!