Boyband of the Apocalypse is out!

Boyband of the Apocalypse is released today!

I’m so unbelievably happy with how it’s turned out. Everyone at Stripes has done an incredible job with it. I’m so grateful to my editor Katie for all the help and hard work she’s put in making this book the best it could be. And to David O’Connell whose artwork is just brilliant and adds so much to the book. And to my agent Jodie for all her encouragement and selling the thing in the first place. And to my wife Kaye for her support and making sure I had time to write it. Right, Oscar acceptance speech over, I have to go work on the sequel. I’d be really grateful if you could buy this by the way. You can find it in places that sell books. Like Waterstones in Edinburgh where I spotted it yesterday:

No, YOU were totally creeping in waterstones to see if they had your book in early.

There’s a Dragon in my Popcorn! Now Available

May the fourth be with you etc.

There’s a Dragon in my Popcorn! is out now!

This was a lot of fun to write because I got to fill it with film references. I love film references. So much so that the book has been released on May the 4th, the most film referency of all the dates including:

4th July (Born on the 4th July, Independence Day, Independence Day 2)

Halloween (Halloween and all subsequent films in the Halloween franchise)

Valentines Day (Valentines Day)

New Years Eve (New Years Eve)

25th December (Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause)

Those are the main ones.

But today’s is the biggest because it’s about that film with the stars and the wars. Star Trek I think. Whatever. Anyway, Popcorn is out, so it’d be great if everyone could buy it so I could buy me one of those Millennium Enterprise toys.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” – Dr Spock (Jedi Knight)

Boyband of the Apocalypse

So the awesome cover for my new book Boyband of the Apocalypse has been announced by @TheDarkDictator

I think it looks incredible! The cover was designed by Sophie Bransby featuring illustrations by David O’Connell, published by the fine folks at Stripes. I’m still waiting to get my hands on a copy but I’ve seen the layouts and you won’t believe the job they’ve all done with it. David’s illustrations are ridiculously good. I mean seriously. Jeezo, they’re good. I almost cried when I saw the drafts. Good crying I mean. And that was just for the drafts. And it’s been great working with my fantastic editor Katie again, who edited the There’s a Dragon in my… books 3-6.

Here’s the blurb:

Sam is just an ordinary boy with ordinary hair. The closest he’s ever come to SUPER-STARDOM is playing the back end of a donkey in the school Nativity play. Then his sister drags him along to an APOCALIPS concert and he overhears members of the band plotting to DESTROY all humanity. Starting with their own lead singer.

Can Sam discover his hidden talents, infiltrate the World’s MOST EVIL Boyband™ and foil their fiendish plan? One thing’s for sure – if he’s going to save the UNIVERSE, he’ll need a bit of help…

Boyband is out on the 1st June. I think I might be more excited about this than anything I’ve ever written. And nervous. And proud. And nervous.

New Website

Hurrah! My new website is live. I’m still tweaking things, but I’m much happier with it now. I’ve updated the books section, and there’s a mailing list you can sign yourself up for if you like. If that’s the sort of thing that you like to do.

There’s a Dragon in my Backpack Out Now

There’s a Dragon in my Backpack! (written by me, illustrated by Sarah Horne) is out in shops now. Look here it is in Foyles in that London:

There's a Dragon in my backpack - foyles

And look at that little run of Stripes books. It’s like when those little Transformers used to combine to form a big Transformer. Remember that? Remember before Michael Bay ruined it all? Oh, and there’s Julius Zebra by Gary Northfield who I literally passed about half an hour before as he was painting a window display for Gosh Comics. I was too shy to go and say hello though.

I was down in London this weekend attending the Royal College of Nursing’s RCNi Awards with my wife whose group was up for an award. Which they won! Hurrah. Since I’m not a nurse and was basically only there for the wine and food (and moral support obviously) in the evening, I had the day to myself. And what better way to spend it that a school visit to celebrate the launch of the new book? There is no better way.

So it was off to Newmarket to visit All Saints Primary School. What a brilliant time. We had a reading of the new book and a Q and A with P3 outside in the lovely weather then it was on to a school assembly inside where I gave a rousing, inspirational speech earning a standing ovation. Or perhaps I just rambled on about being a writer for a bit. Who can remember these things? And then I signed some books. Well, not some. A lot. This was the biggest signing I’ve ever had, which was absolutely amazing. Thanks to Miss Bacon and the entire school for having me, it was a blast.

If you’d like to book me to visit your school/library/event then you can get in touch via here.

Here’s a roundup of some of Backpack coverage:

Tales of Yesterday Book Blog – 10 Places Pan Would Like To Visit + Giveaway

The Ginger Bread House – Giveaway

Ya Yeah Yeah – Article on James and the Giant Peach

Reading Zone – Review

Reading Zone – Why Children need funny books

Top 20 Dragon Facts

Quick Update

It’s 4 weeks until There’s a Dragon in my Backpack! hits the shelves. So pleased to get my hands on a copy. Even though I already knew what happened. Here’s a picture of it next to There’s a Dragon in my Dinner! because why not?

There's a Dragon in my Backpack!

Book 3 – There’s a Dragon in my Toilet! is done and dusted now, due out August. It’s easily going to be the best book you’ll ever read about Dragons and toilets. That’s a guarantee.

I was also very excited this week when the Guardian published an article I wrote on Terry Pratchett as part of their My Inspiration series. It was such a pleasure to write and a bit of a thrill seeing my name on the Guardian website.

There was also a nice review for Dinner on Lothian Life.

In other news I’ve just finished Daredevil Season 2 and Happy Valley Series 1 and 2. Bloody hell they were a bit good weren’t they?

Yes. Yes they were.

Still playing too much Rocket League too.

There’s a Dragon in My Dinner! is out now!

So happy to finally write these words:

There’s a Dragon in My Dinner! is out!

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Thanks to everyone involved – Sarah Horne for her fantastic, hilarious artwork, my editor Emma and all the brilliant, supportive people at Stripes and to my awesome agent Jodie for general awesomeness.

It’s available in most places that sell books. If it’s not then you can try politely asking for them to stock it. If you like. Or get it from somewhere else I guess. Look, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life okay? You do what you got to do.

I’ve been out visiting more schools to promote the books this week. Even though my first visit had gone really well, I was still nervous about these visits. Mostly my fears were:

  1. The kids wouldn’t care what I had to say.
  2. I’d completely forget everything I had to say.
  3. I’d say everything I had to say within the first five minutes and be forced to stall for the remaining time. “Okay kids, who wants me to read chapter 2 for the fourth time?”

Luckily I was fine.

  1. I can’t say if the kids did actually care about what I had to say, but if they didn’t they did a great job pretending they did.
  2. I wrote everything I wanted to say down on some paper then referred to them if I needed it, which I did a few times but less as the events went on.
  3. If anything the opposite was the case. I had to cut stuff on the fly for some events.

The thought of school visits was so terrifying to me at one point that it caught me by surprise how much I actually enjoyed them. I know I’ve still got some way to go before I’m completely comfortable doing them. I’d love to be able to go in without the safety net of notes for example, and I’d love to figure out why my mouth goes so dry half-way through doing a reading, but I’m hopeful that these aspects will get easier with time. Here’s some pictures from some of the events:

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school visit - cockenzie3

school visit - cockenzie2

school visit - cockenzie

My favourite moment so far was when a very talented young boy called Daniel presented me with a picture he had made of all the characters in There’s a Dragon in My Dinner!:

DIMDPicture

Thanks to Liam for looking after me on the visits.

Feedback has been really positive on the book so far:

Minerva Reads

Bookwitch

Rhino Reads

My Book Corner

Love Reading 4 Kids

 

School Visits

I was lucky enough to have my first school visit this week, meeting some of the P3 pupils at Law Primary in North Berwick. Law Primary are one of a number of schools in North Berwick who make their own radio programmes for local community radio station East Coast FM and I had been invited to be interviewed for their show. It was a great experience. The kids asked some brilliant questions and really seemed to be enjoying There’s a Dragon in my Dinner! which their teacher had been reading to them. They all had their own favourite bits and it was wonderful to see a story that had mostly lived in my head for a while finally out there and actually being enjoyed by the people it was aimed at.

There’s a Dragon in my Dinner! officially releases this week, 11th February so I will be visiting a few more schools in East Lothian this week. Really looking forward to those.

If you’d like me to visit your school, feel free to get in touch via my contact page.

And if you’d like to buy There’s a Dragon in My Dinner! then you can do so here:

Amazon

Waterstones

Foyles

WH Smith

2015 – Listogeddon

As you might be aware, they’ve only gone and changed the numbers on the years again. Those of you with long memories will recall that around this time last year, they dropped the ‘4’ at the end of 2014, replacing it with a ‘5’. Well, apparently the ‘5’ wasn’t working out either so that’s gone and now we have a ‘6’ making it 2016. I don’t know what I make of it. On the plus side, they seem convinced that ‘201’ is still working so that’s something at least. It looks unlikely that they’ll consider ever changing those again, but given recent history, I don’t like ‘6”s chances of still being around this time next year.

Anyway, here’s some things that I enjoyed this year, not necessarily things that came out this year:

Books

The Last Wild/The Dark Wild/The Wild Beyond – Piers Torday

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

After The Crash – Michel Bussi

Dead Girl Walking – Chris Brookmyre

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Films

Mad Max – Fury Road

Inside Out

Star Wars – The Force Awakens

What We Do In The Shadows

TV Shows

Fargo

The Leftovers

Jessica Jones

Rick and Morty

Mad Men

The Walking Dead

Better Call Saul

Portlandia

Silicon Valley

Girls

Video Games

Elite: Dangerous

Her Story

Rocket League

The Binding of Isaac Rebirth/Afterbirth

Battlefield 4

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Grim Fandango Remastered

Death Ray Manta