My new book Level Up! officially hits shops today, although I was delighted to spot it last week on one of the tables in the Waterstones in the West End of Edinburgh.
Level Up is illustrated by the super talented Anjan Sarkar who did a fantastic job bringing the main characters of Flo and Max to life. Level Up is the first in a series of books about an obsessed gamer called Flo and her best friend Max who find themselves trapped inside Flo’s favourite video game Star Smasher. It’s aimed at 7-9 year olds and I think will especially appeal to video game fans and reluctant readers.
Some big news. Boyband of the Apocalypse has won the Stockton Children’s Book of the Year Award for 2019! To say I was shocked is an understatement. This is the 22nd year the prize has been running and has had some incredible books win it, like Skellig and The Last Wild. I was properly honoured and excited to be a part of it. There was a ceremony with the mayor and everything.
Boyband was up against four other brilliant books:
One of the great things about this award was that the books shortlisted were all voted on by the schools involved in it. Children were encouraged to read as many as they can and write reviews for their favourites. The best reviews from each school were picked and the winners got to go to the ceremony where they all received certificates and book tokens for winning.
The shortlisted authors got to visit some of the schools during the day before the ceremony so I spent much of the day talking about Boyband and trying and failing to convince kids I had once been in One Direction.
Afterwards it was on to the ceremony. I had been asked by lots of people if I had come up with an acceptance speech and I had said no, because OBVIOUSLY I wasn’t winning. In fact I had to lean heavily on the old awards ceremony cliches of “just being happy to be nominated” and “haven’t prepared a speech”. Of course I always thought people were lying when they said those things but now I don’t know, because in my case they were genuinely true. So I think I remembered to thank everyone but just in case, thanks to my wife and family, David O’Connell for his brilliant illustrations, my agent Jodie, my editor Katie, Lauren, Charlie and everyone else at Stripes, the kids for voting for me and enjoying the book, all the librarians involved in making the award such a success and Guy, Guy, Vashti and Amy for making the day such good fun.
This week, my eighth book is published: Boyband of the Apocalypse: Washed Up. It’s the sequel to Boyband of the Apocalypse, which you might have already guessed. Once again words are provided by me and the brilliant pictures have been supplied by the extremely talented David O’Connell. And the whole thing is published by Stripes Publishing, the IPG Children’s Publisher of the Year (whoop whoop!). Here’s the blurb:
Just when Sam thinks life has returned to normal he’s bundled into a black van by agents of the Apocalypse Intelligence Agency who send him off the remote jungle island of Fin del Mundo to appear on a celebrity reality TV game show. One of Sam’s rival ‘celebrity’ contestants is none other than evil music mogul Nigel Cruul, who the A.I.A. suspect is planning to bring back the Horsewomen of the Apocalypse. Luckily his best friend Milo and kick-ass sister Lexi are starring in the show too. But they’ll have to survive everything from alligator-infested swamps to public vote offs, if they’re to save the world once more.
And here’s the awesome cover:
And just to get you in the mood, I’ve made a teaser trailer for it:
It comes out this Thursday (3rd May). I’ve really loved writing this series, it’s been a lot of fun. If you happen to pick it up, and enjoy it, I’d really appreciate it if you could take the time to add a review on amazon to help increase visibility. No bother if you can’t though.
Also, if you’re a teacher and you’d like me to come to your school and talk about boybands and apocalypses and what not, then please get in touch. Not to toot my own horn, though this is my website so I’m probably allowed and indeed supposed to, but my talks for Boyband of the Apocalypse have gone down really well so far. There’s a whole bit on East 17 in there and some clips of westlife getting up off some stools, which I’m almost certain no other author is doing. I mean, there might be a good reason for that, but still.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.