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Archive of ‘Short Stories’ category

Announcing Aarhus 39

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I’m so excited to be able to share the news that I’ve been selected as one of the Aarhus 39!

At the London Book Fair last week, the Hay Festival announced that 39 children’s and YA writers from around Europe aged 40 and under have been chosen to take part in this amazing new project for European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 – and I’m delighted to be one of them.

The other UK authors on the list include the brilliant Katherine Rundell, Laura Dockrill and BR Collins, as well as multi-award-winning superstar Sarah Crossan, representing the UK and Ireland. There are lots more amazing writers included too from all around Europe – some whose work I’m already familiar with, like Maria Turschaninoff who wrote the amazing Maresi, but lots who I am excited to discover. I’m tremendously grateful to the judges for selecting me to be part of such an inspiring list!

As part of the project, we’ve each been commissioned to write an original story on the theme of ‘Journey’. Two anthologies of the stories, edited by Daniel Hahn, will be published later this year, both in English (by Alma Books) and in Danish by Gyldendal. The two English language anthologies – Quest (aimed at children age 8+) and Odyssey (for young adults) – will be launched in May at the Hay Festival.

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The anthologies will also feature drawings from some of the world’s leading illustrators, including Barroux, Britta Teckentrup, Dave McKean, Satoshi Kitamura, Axel Scheffler, Benji Davies, Chris Riddell and many more. I’m thrilled that my own story has been illustrated by the amazing Joel Stewart – his illustrations are absolutely magical.In October we’ll all be off to Denmark for the inaugral International Children’s Literature Festival in Aarhus – and I can’t wait! I’m especially pleased to be part of this project at a time when it feels more important than ever to be building positive relationships across Europe, and I’m really looking forward to the chance to learn more about children’s books across the continent. Many thanks to Hay Festival and Aarhus!

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Celebrating Winter Magic

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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)!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Happy book birthday Winter Magic!

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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!

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Winter Magic Cover Reveal

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Check out the beautiful cover for forthcoming short story anthology Winter Magic,  illustrated by Thomas Flintham!

I’m so thrilled to be part of this beautiful collection of frosty and magical winter short stories from a whole host of wonderful children’s writers, which has been curated by the brilliant Abi Elphinstone.

Here’s how publisher Simon & Schuster describe the new book:

Dreamsnatcher’s Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers from classic children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Katherine Woodfine, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward and Emma Carroll, among others. An unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.

I love stories with wintery festive settings, and I had so much fun writing my contribution to this anthology. It’s another historical tale, but this time it doesn’t take place in the world of the Sinclair’s Mysteries series – but instead in snowy St Petersburg in the 1890s…

Winter Magic will be published in November, but you can pre-order now from Waterstones or The Hive or Amazon and add it on Goodreads.

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Mystery & Mayhem on tour

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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What could be a better finale to a brilliant tour to celebrate Mystery & Mayhem? Thanks to Hay Festival and everyone I visited!

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