I’m so excited that The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is now available as an audiobook, beautifully read by actress Jessica Preddy. You can listen to a sample of the audio book here.
I loved audiobooks growing up and listened to lots of them – I have lots of very vivid memories of long car journeys listening to Winnie the Pooh, Roald Dahl stories and tapes of children’s poetry. It’s brilliant to think that people will now be able to discover The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in exactly the same way!
This week we revealed the cover for the sequel to The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth! Say hello to The Mystery of the Painted Dragon!
As you might guess from the title (and the graphic above) the third book in the series takes Sophie, Lil and the rest of the gang into the Edwardian art world. The story centres around a priceless painting that has been stolen in such baffling circumstances that even our young sleuths don’t know what to make of it.
Can Sophie and Lil find the missing painting, unmask the villain, and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with? You’ll have to wait until February 2017 to find out…
For now, let’s take a closer look at the incredibly gorgeous cover art, created by amazing illustrator Karl James Mountford.
Karl worked closely with Benjamin Hughes, Art Director at Egmont, to create this stunning cover, which features beautiful shiny copper foil. I think it’s going to look so lovely on the shelf next to Clockwork Sparrow and Jewelled Moth.
I’ve also been lucky enought to have an early peek at some of the interior illustrations that Karl is creating for this book, which are so special. I can’t wait to be able to share the finished book!
Starting a channel is something I’ve been thinking about for a little while. Recently, I made this video for my US publisher Kane Miller to show to their sales consultants, and really enjoyed it – even just filming quickly on my phone, using basic editing software (and my very basic skills!) it was such a fun creative project.
What’s more, whilst obviously I love any excuse to talk about children’s books, at the moment, it seems especially important to be shouting about them. It’s so sad to see the brilliant Guardian Children’s Books site closing its doors; as well as that some great children’s book reviewers have recently been cut from newspapers like the Telegraph. In spite of the fact that children’s books make up a big part of the overall books market, coverage in the mainstream media tends to be relatively limited (which is exactly why we started up Down the Rabbit Hole in the first place) and with these kinds of changes underway, there could be even less space to talk about children’s books in the future. With this in mind, it seems more important than ever to use all the platforms available to make as much noise as we can about children’s books.
Here’s my first attempt at a video – a little introduction, plus a book haul:
It’s been wonderful to see so many lovely responses to my first effort at Youtube already! Thanks so much to everyone who has been kind enough to subscribe, like, share, or leave a comment! I’m looking forward to making some more vlogs soon. Check out my channel and subscribe here.
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled (or should I say Jeweled?) Moth have now been published in the USA by Kane Miller Books!
Louise and I celebrated the books going Stateside with a trip to Shakeshack for peanut butter and banana frozen custard, fries and peach lemonade. YUM.
I’m so excited that the books are now available in the US, and so pleased to be published by Kane Miller. Take a look at this little video I made for them to introduce their sales consultants to the books:
For my short story for the Mystery & Mayhem anthology, I wanted to try something a little different. Unlike the other Sinclair’s Mysteries, ‘The Mystery of the Purloined Pearls’ is written in the first person – from the point of view of aspiring actress Lil.
The action of the story takes place in between ClockworkSparrow and Jewelled Moth. As well as being a fun opportunity to see Lil doing some solo detective work, this story also allowed me to explore another area of Edwardian London – the Edwardian theatre!
We see something of the theatre in Clockwork Sparrow when Sophie goes to see Lil performing in the chorus line of a new show called The Shop Girl (fun fact: there really was a popular Edwardian musical comedy with this title – in real life it was originally performed in 1894!) However ‘The Mystery of the Purloined Pearls’ shows us more of the theatre world – and takes readers behind the scenes with Lil and the other performers.
Theatre was incredibly popular in Edwardian London. Before cinema or television, it was one of the most important form of entertainment; and whether they preferred the lively music halls of the East End, or the grand theatres of the West, the people of London flocked to see all the latest productions. Many theatres took advantage of exciting new techologies, such as electric light, to create impressive spectacles for their productions.
One of the most important of the West End’s theatres at this time was The Gaiety on Aldwych. Run by George Edwardes, known as ‘The Guv’nor’, it became famous for its frothy musical comedy productions – and in particular its dancing, singing chorus line of ‘Gaiety Girls’. Shows like A Gaiety Girl, and Our Miss Gibbs were hugely popular and were soon copied by many other theatres, both in London and beyond.
Gabrielle Ray on the cover of a 1909 edition of the Illustrated London News
Theatre stars like Gabrielle Ray (above), Gertie Millar, and Phyllis Dare, were the celebrities of their day – much like (the fictional) Miss Kitty Shaw, whose pearls dramatically go missing in ‘The Mystery of the Purloined Pearls’.
Theatre also had a huge influence on Edwardian fashion and style – The Merry Widow, which opened at Daly’s Theatre in 1907, not only helped make a big star of actress Lily Elsie, but also inspired a widespread fashion for wide-brimmed and plumed ‘Merry Widow’ hats which were an essential accessory for any fashionable lady over the next few years.
Lily Elsie’s costumes for the production were designed by leading London fashion designer Lucile who went on to design her personal clothes as well as costumes for several of her other shows. Lucile wrote: ‘That season was a very brilliant one… And just when it was at its zenith, a new play was launched with a new actress who set the whole town raving over her beauty.’ Lily Elsie soon became one of the most-photographed women of the Edwardian era.
There are lots of pictures of Edwardian theatre stars on my Edwardiana Pinterest board – as well as theatre programmes, tickets and photographs of what the theatres looked like. I found it fascinating to explore all this visual material about the glamorous world of the Edwardian theatre – but I particularly love these pictures of Lily Elsie, because she looks rather like how I imagine Lil!
If you like reading about the Edwardian theatre in this story, you might also enjoy reading Lyn Gardner’s Rose Campion mysteries, which are set a little earlier than the Sinclair’s Mysteries, and take place in the exciting world of the Victorian music hall!
The pictures in this post all come via my trusty Edwardiana Pinterest board (click the image for the source) where you can also find lots more pictures of the Edwardian era.