If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that last Christmas I ran a festive competition to win a signed copy of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, plus a box of lovely goodies worthy of Sinclair’s department store itself!
I asked people to tell me what they’d buy from Sinclair’s, and had some lovely entries including those from the joint winners, who sent beautiful illustrations of their ideas.
Well guess what? The competition was so much fun last year that I’m running it again this year! This time round, you can win a signed and dedicated copy of The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth plus a special box of festive goodies that you might find in the store’s confectionery department.
Here’s a little sneak peek at the box:
To enter all you have to do is tell me: which of the characters from the Sinclair’s Mysteries would you most like to spend Christmas with, and why?
You can leave me a comment below, tweet me, leave me a comment on my author Facebook page, or even leave a comment on my Instagram – it’s up to you! Or if you’d prefer you can also send me an email to enter.
Just make sure you send over your entry by 5.00pm on Monday 19 December for the chance to win – I’ll choose my favourite response to win the prize. The competition is open to the UK only. Good luck!
It’s been such fun being part of Winter Magic! As if it wasn’t enough to be part of one lovely middle-grade anthology this year, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of TWO – the crime anthology Mystery & Mayhem, and now this gorgeous festive collection.
It’s been wonderful to join forces with other middle grade authors, and to have the chance to collaborate on these projects. What’s more, it’s also been great to hear from teachers and librarians about how useful they’re finding these books, and how popular they are with young readers. Short stories make great bite-size reads, and teachers have told us that they find these collections incredibly useful for the classroom, providing a series of complete texts that they can share with pupils from beginning to end. An anthology bringing together lots of different authors can also offer a great way for readers to explore a variety of different kinds of writing – and to discover new authors they love.
Winter Magic also offered me a chance to try my hand at writing a story outside the ‘world’ of the Sinclair’s Mysteries, which was an enjoyable challenge. My story ‘Casse-Noisette’ explores one of my favourite Christmas traditions – going to the ballet. Set in 1890s St Petersburg, it will whisk you behind the scenes at the Marinsky Theatre, for the first ever production of the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker. I’ve been noticing The Nutcracker popping up all over the place this Christmas – from a brand new immersive production to the Liberty’s Christmas windows and displays (below)!
I’ve had such a lovely time reading and enjoying the other stories in the anthology, and celebrating the book at several events.
We marked the launch of Winter Magic at Waterstones Piccadilly with mince pies, candy canes, chocolate treats, and mulled wine. Anthology curator Abi made a fantastic speech about the book, and lots of people came along to celebrate with us – it was especially wonderful to see a big gang of Little Star Writers in attendance!
I was back at Waterstones Piccadilly a couple of weeks later, together with Abi, Geraldine McCaughrean and Lauren St John, for a panel event all about the anthology. We talked about everything from Christmas traditions to our favourite books to read at Christmas – and signed lots of books for people who came along.
I also popped along to lovely London indie the South Kensington Bookshop to sign some books, together with Abi, Emma Carroll and Piers Torday. As well as signing lots of copies of Winter Magic, we had chance to admire the shop’s beautiful window display – check out those snowflakes!
Look out for more Winter Magic events coming up soon – including a session with Abi, Emma, Piers and Michelle Harrison at Waterstones Birmingham on 7 December.
You can also find out more about Winter Magic – and read some of the lovely reviews we’ve had so far – on my website here.
It’s been another VERY busy few months! I’ve been hard at work on the next books in the Sinclair’s Mysteries series – but I’ve also been out and about a lot talking about my books. Here’s a few pictures from some of my recent events and adventures…
Back in July, I was part of a Mystery & Mayhem panel event at Waterstones Piccadilly alongside Robin Stevens, Frances Hardinge, and brilliant chair Imogen Russell Williams. It was such a treat to do an event with Robin, Frances and Imogen – and I always love doing events at Waterstones Piccadilly, one of my all-time favourite bookshops (which of course is also situated on the very same spot as Sinclair’s in the Sinclair’s Mysteries!)
August means time for the Edinburgh Book Festival! This year, I had a brilliant time doing an event with children’s author and theatre critic Lyn Gardner, who was talking about her gorgeous book Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret – as well as meeting lots of readers at the booksigning afterwards. I also got to introduce two other author events at the festival – Julian Clary and David Roberts talking about their hilarious The Bolds books, and Andy Stanton’s laugh-out-loud show ‘Me and Mr Gum’.
In September I was super excited to go over to Dublin to be part of the ‘Abundance of Katherines’ panel at the Children’s Books Ireland conference. The title of the panel was inspired by An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and teamed up four authors called ‘Katherine’ – me, Catherine Doyle, Katherine Rundell and Katherena Vermette, to talk about what our writing process had in common. I had such a lot of fun at the event, which I’d highly recommend to anyone working in children’s books – all the sessions I heard were great but I especially enjoyed hearing Alan Cumyn talking about his book Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend – surely one of the best titles for a YA book ever? (And I also got to pick up some lovely new Oliver Jeffers swag!)
October brought around the annual celebration of bookshops from Books are My Bag – and me and my brand new Winnie the Pooh Books are My Bag tote headed off on an adventure!
First up was Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for a lovely event in the bustling Little Big Top with Sarah Rubin, author of the Alice Jones mysteries. We were chaired by Alex O’Connell of The Times, and had a wonderful time talking about all things mysterious!
While I was there I also got to hang out in the Green Room with lots of lovely folks – including meeting fellow middle grade author Shane Hegarty, author of the Darkmouth books!
Next stop was the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, where Julia Golding and I talked about our mystery books with fab festival director Gill McLay.
I also teamed up with ‘History Girls’ Rhian Ivory, Helen Maslin, Emma Carroll and Lauren James for a couple more history-themed events – one in Milton Keynes, and one at Waterstones Oxford. I always have lots of fun with this gang!
In October, I headed down to beautiful Totnes for an event at the Turn the Page Festival. While I was there I was lucky enough to have the chance to see some other events, including Lucy Letherland talking about her Atlas of Miniature Adventures and Josh Lacey’s event about The Dragonsitter.
October was also time for YA Shot! I saw some fantastic events at this year’s one-day YA and MG festival in Uxbridge, including Melinda Salisbury & Julia Gray, and Laure Eve & Anna McKerrow. I was lucky enough to join an amazing line-up of historical fiction authors – Lydia Syson, Tanya Landman and Catherine Johnson – for a really interesting panel exploring what it means to write about history.
Finally to wrap up my autumn events, I went along to the Dulwich Book Festival for an event all about how to write mystery stories. Here I am in the amazing surroundings of venue Dulwich College.
I had a great time with the children in the audience, who also had the chance to enter a mystery writing short story competition after the event. Here’s winner Daisy with Gabriel from Dulwich Books!
If you’ve come along to one of my events over the last few months, I hope you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to keep an eye out on the events page on my website here for details of where I’ll be going and what I’ll be up to for my next round of book events!
I’m so excited that Winter Magic is published today! I’m delighted to be part of this beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical tales curated by the wonderful Abi Elphinstone and published by Simon & Schuster. Featuring everything from snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers, it’s a real festive treat.
The anthology includes brilliant stories from classic children’s writers Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward & Emma Carroll. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of such an impressive line-up of children’s writing talent.
My story ‘Casse-Noisette’ is set in 1890s St Petersburg, and is told from the point of view of a young dancer in the very first production of The Nutcracker. I’ve always loved reading ballet stories by the likes of Noel Streatfeild, Eva Ibbotson and Lorna Hill, so it was wonderful to have a go at writing one of my own.
The book itself is a thing of beauty: a gorgeous hardback (my first hardback!) with silver foil on the cover, and fabulous endpapers featuring all the authors’ signatures. The beautiful cover illustration is the work of illustrator Thomas Flintham.
You can get hold of a copy of the book from Waterstones The Hive or Amazon now – or if you’re in London, I’ll be doing a special signing with Abi and Piers at the South Kensington Bookshop on Monday 7 November; and appearing at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly with Abi, Lauren and Geraldine on 22 November – find all the details on my events listing here.
Keep an eye out on social media for lots of fun festive tweets to celebrate Winter Magic – this week the authors celebrated publication day by sharing childhood photos of ourselves enjoying the snow. Here’s me aged 4, setting out on an intrepid winter adventure. Follow #WinterMagic on Twitter for lots more!
We’re so excited to be announcing some new developments to children’s books radio show Down the Rabbit Hole today!
This morning we’ve launched our brand new website dtrhradio.com, featuring a gorgeous new logo and artwork from amazing illustrator Rebecca Cobb (see above). The website will be an online home for the show, with information and lots of extra content.
We’ve also launched a podcast version of the show, available via iTunes. You can pop over to iTunes to listen to our archive, or subscribe – and if you’re a fan of the show, we’d love it if you would also consider rating the podcast, or leaving us a review.
Finally, we’re launching a brand new Down the Rabbit Hole e-newsletter. You can sign up to stay in touch with all the latest DTRH news – and to be sure you’ll never miss out on an episode again!
It’s been so wonderful to see Down the Rabbit Hole grow and flourish since the first epsisode, broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm way back in February 2014. Melissa, Louise and I are so grateful for all the enthusiasm for the show from authors, illustrators, publishers and readers alike. Now more than ever it feels like we are in real need of space to discuss and celebrate books for children – we hope that our new website, podcast and newsletter will offer new ways to help us reach listeners and readers, and to start up even more conversations about children’s books.
Visit the new website here – and don’t forget to check out our September episode, featuring journalist, presenter and author Clare Balding talking about her first children’s book The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop, illustrated by Tony Ross.