Railhead Resources

Now that Railhead is on the shortlist for the Carnegie Medal pupils in schools all over the country will be reading it as part of the Carnegie Shadowing scheme (and probably going ‘this is SO BORING’, but hopefully it’s winning a few new fans). Anyway, here’s an interview which I recorded for the Carnegie/Kate Greenaway website. It was shot outside my house a few weeks ago, and the curious creatures in the background are Alfie and Iggy, the alpacas.

Here’s a companion video in which I put my glasses on and read an excerpt from early on in the book…

You can find another version of that reading, complete with music and visuals, here.

And if you’re reading Railhead and would like to know more, don’t forget the Railhead A-Z; twenty-six short entries about the world of the book and some of the things which inspired it.  Here’s Part One (A-E), Part Two (F-L), Part Three (M-R) and Part Four (S-Z).

And here’s the official soundtrack!

And here’s the unofficial soundtrack (put together by Jake Hayes for his Tygertales blog)!

Mortal Engines: Where To Begin?


There has been a lot of interest in Mortal Engines since Peter Jackson’s big announcement last week, and a couple of people, astutely noticing the existence of prequels, have asked in what order the books should be tackled. It’s up to you, of course, but I’ve always thought they’re best read in the order they were written. So start with Mortal Engines, then go on to Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain. That’s the original Mortal Engines quartet, and it covers the final years of the Traction Era, the far-future age of mobile cities which I dreamed up in the 1990s.


Then, if you have an appetite for more, you could go on to read the Fever Crumb trilogy, (Fever Crumb, A Web of Air and Scrivener’s Moon) which goes back to the very beginnings of the Mortal Engines world. It’s a different setting in many ways – there are, for instance, no airships and no mobile cities. I think the books have a slightly different tone, too – the heroes of the Mortal Engines quartet are always zooming across continents and oceans, but Fever Crumb’s adventures all take place in London or in the island city of Mayda, until Scrivener’s Moon, when Municipal Darwinism finally begins to take off and there is a certain amount of charging about on ramshackle motorised fortresses.


And if you still want more… tough, ‘cos that’s all there is*.

But in my latest novels, Railhead and Black Light Express, I’ve tried to take everything I learned about writing and world-building from the Mortal Engines books and tell a new story on the same scale, but set in a very different future world.


(All the books mentioned above should be available from UK booksellers, and there are US editions of everything. The Mortal Engines and Fever Crumb books are published by Scholastic, Railhead and Black Light Express are published by Oxford University Press in the UK and Switch Press in the US. Station Zero, the third book in the Railhead trilogy, will be out next year.)

(*There is actually a 10,000 word World Book Day novella from a few years back, Traction City, about the young Anna Fang, and also a sort of encyclopaedia called The Traction Codex (written with Jeremy Levett) but they are only patchily available – I’ll let you know if that changes!)



I met so many interesting people at Lucca Comics and Games last week that they wouldn’t all fit in one blog post. One of those who I should have mentioned is the fantasy illustrator Paolo Barbieri. Many years ago Paolo did a cover for the Italian edition of Predator’s Gold (then trading as Freya della Lande di Ghiacco), and although Freya looks a bit too skinny to be Freya it’s one of my favourite covers and captures just the sense of pulp adventure I was after.


So it was great to meet Paolo at last, and between signing books for his huge queue of fans he took time to draw this sketch of London on the move in Mortal Engines!



Black Light Express

Eek!  I’ve been so busy zooming around on publicity missions that I forgot to post anything here about Black Light Express, which was officially published in the UK on 6th October.  It’s the first sequel to Railhead, and was tricky to write. In addition to the first book’s vast interstellar network of railway stations inhabited by a diverse bunch of human beings, artificial intelligences and sentient insects, Zen and Nova have discovered a way onto another network, still more vast, inhabited by… well, read Black Light Express and find out!  Not only that, but the events of Railhead have led to all kinds of upheavals in the Network Empire. Threnody finds herself Empress – but for how long? Not all the god-like Guardians think Empress Threnody is a good idea, and out on their icy branch-line worlds the Prell family are plotting plots and scheming schemes. Meanwhile, Chandni Hansa, a character so minor that in Railhead she was only seen through the lid of a freezer in a cryogenic prison, has surprised me by waking up and demanding a part in the story for herself…


Black Light Express is published in the UK by Oxford University Press, and available from all good bookshops.

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