First editions & original artwork for sale – in a Good Cause!

If you saw my post about Excalibur a couple of weeks ago you’ll already that I’ve been trying to help drum up some funding for Mossy Hare Productions and their documentary film Behind the Sword in the Stone.

Like many other people (but not enough yet) I’ve made a donation on their Indiegogo page. But while the rewards they’re offering contributors all look highly desirable to a dyed-in-the-wool fan like me, I thought it might be worth adding some of my own. So if a signed photo of Clive Swift isn’t enough to get you hitting the ‘Contribute Now’ button, you can claim signed editions of my books or a piece of my original artwork as well.

All you need to do is make a contribution via the aforementioned Indiegogo page, then forward a copy of your receipt to me at thesolitarybee@gmail.com.  I’ll then get the item to you as quickly as possible by standard post (air mail if you’re outside the UK).

I do realise that this a bad time of year to be running this – I can’t guarantee posting anything in time for Christmas now, and if you’re anything like me your credit card has just melted from prezzie-buying – but the Indiegogo campaign runs till the 15th January, so hopefully there will be some takers.

I have four items on offer, and they’ll be dished out on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

UPDATE: All these items have now been sold. Thanks very much to all the generous people who donated to Mossy Hare.  I’ll be doodling, signing and mailing the books early in the New Year.

1. Sorry: SOLD!
 Goblins and Goblins vs Dwarves, signed and doodled in. 

You may have to wait a while for delivery, because my new book Goblins vs Dwarves is so new that it isn’t actually out until next spring (I’d hope to have copies by March). I’ll sign them, dedicate them if you like, and draw an original Reeve goblin (or dwarf) on the title pages.

It’s yours for a donation of  $25 or more. 

 2. Sorry – SOLD!


The Mortal Engines Quartet (AKA Predator Cities), US editions, signed and doodled in.


Unfortunately the only spare copies I have of the UK edition are the new ones with the sub-X-Box covers which nobody likes. But the US paperbacks are lovely (though UK readers should be warned that the spellings have been Americanised, and they call Shrike ‘Grike’).

 These four are the only signed copies currently in existence, and if you like I’ll do a quick doodle of a character of your choice in each book.

Minimum donation of $50



















































3.   Sorry – SOLD!  Fever Crumb 1st Edition hardback, signed and doodled in.


As with the books above, I’ll draw a character of your choice on the title page. Unlike the ones above it’s a hardback, with a fantastic David Wyatt cover complete with peek-a-boo hole which opens to reveal a huge landscape on the endpapers. It’s also a first edition. It’s therefore quite collectable, and a bit more expensive.

Minimum donation $100

4. Sorry – SOLD! 
A pen-and-ink drawing of London





Last year Scholastic asked myself and Jeremy Levett to write a short guide to the world of Mortal Engines, which we called The Traction Codex.  I think you can find it attached as a sort of appendix to the ends of the current UK e-book editions, and I’m assured that it will eventually be available as a separate e-book (although it seems to be taking a bizarrely long time and there is still no firm publication date as yet).

Anyway, I did some illustrations for this project, and this is one of them: the only time I’ve managed to draw the Traction City of London and make it look even remotely like the thing that was in my mind’s eye when I wrote the book.  It measures approximately 24.5 x 18.5 cm, and it took flippin’ ages, so I don’t part with it lightly.  I had planned to have it on my office wall, but I’d rather see Behind the Sword in the Stone finished, so I’ll exchange it for a whoppingly generous donation of $800 (about 500 of your British Pounds).






LATE EXTRA: Sorry: SOLD
For $75 you can have Four Rusty Knights, a very old picture by me. Details here.








Please don’t approach the Mossy Hare people with queries about these – this is my own initiative, and I’m sure they have enough on their minds already! All queries should be e-mailed to thesolitarybee@gmail.com. I try to check messages there at least once a day, and will reply as soon as possible.  

My Next Big Thing

I’ve been seeing a lot of  ‘My Next Big Thing’ blogs around lately, but I’d somehow assumed this relay or cascade of blogs was for new authors, who could legitimately claim to have a chance of being the Next Big Thing – that’s not me; I was just a medium-sized thing, ten years ago.

But it turns out that the titular NBT doesn’t refer to the author but just to the book they’re working on, so established writers get to have a go as well, and I’m very grateful to Andy Robb for ‘tagging’ me at the end of his NBT blog.  I met Andy earlier this year; he’s a lovely chap, and his book Geekhood is a treat, though slightly cringe-making if, like me, you were of a geeky persuasion when young. (The hero of Geekhood is much like I was as a teenager, only he meets an ACTUAL GIRL.)

Anyway, enough about him, I have important questions about ME to answer…

What is the working title of your next book?

 Well, I have a whole bunch of things in the pipeline. There’s the McIntyre-tastic illustrated adventure Oliver and the Seawigs, there’s its outer-space based follow up, and at the moment I’m busy with my Massive Untitled Space Opera.  But the next one of my books to actually hit the shops will be Goblins vs Dwarves, and that’s its actual title, not a working title. It’s the sequel to Goblins, it will be published in April, and it’s going to look like this:

(Artwork by the brilliant Dave Semple, as before.)

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Goblins was pretty obviously inspired by The Lord of the Rings; I read it to my son a few years back and it made me think a)This is still the best fantasy world ever, and b)Why are all the orcs and goblins EVIL?  Aren’t there any nice ones? Maybe they’re just getting a bad press…  So I set out to write a fantasy where goblins were the heroes, and Goblins vs Dwarves continues to explore the same theme.  And just as everybody knows that goblins are bad, everybody knows that dwarves are good, right?  Well, not exactly

Also, when I started pondering sequels for Goblins I thought of the well-worn plot of The Seven Samurai (remade as The Magnificent Seven, Hawk the Slayer, Battle Beyond The Stars, etc…) in which the inhabitants of a beleaguered settlement have to go off and find some heroes to help defend them from the bad guys. So I started writing a Clovenstone-based version of that. It quickly escaped and found its own path, but that was the seed of it.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a fantasy adventure (but I hope it’s a funny fantasy adventure).

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

This was quite a quick book to write. All the world-building had been done in the first book, and I knew what I was after, so I sat down to start work in the first week of January and was finished in mid March. Most of my books take a LOT longer.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I can’t always think of actors I’d match to particular characters. I have no idea who would play my fresh-faced and accident-prone hero Henwyn, though I think Jenny Agutter would be a good Princess Ned.  As for the goblins and other creatures, they were partly inspired by 1970s illustrations by Brian Froud (right) who went on to design the films Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and there’s definitely something quite muppet-y about them.  (At the moment the movie rights for Goblins are with LAIKA, makers of Coraline and ParaNorman, so if that goes ahead all the parts will end up being played by stop-motion puppets anyway. Which is fine by me!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Goblins vs Dwarves! (The clue is in the title.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As with most of my books to date, it will be published by Scholastic.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?


It’s about goblins vs dwarves, so I suppose there’s a clear comparison with The Hobbit, though it features no giant spiders and 100% less golf.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I don’t want to give away too much but there is an oracular bathtub, and some giant moles, and ghosts. WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT?

So there you have it, and it only remains for me to tag some other writers who can tell us about their Next Big Thing. I nominate…

Gary Northfield, whose Gary’s Garden strip in The Phoenix is always a highlight of the week here, and who I happen to know has a fantastic looking book on the way…

…and Natasha Ngan, who may well be the actual Next Big Thing.

Next Year’s Cover!

This may be a wee bit premature, since I only sent off the final draft of my next book yesterday, but I had my first peek at the cover today, and it’s too good not to share… Goblins vs Dwarves will be a sequel to Goblins, and it’s going to be as red as the first book is green.  It will be published next spring. (Goblin and dwarf drawings by Dave Semple, as before…)

Incidentally, Goblins is also available for Kindle.

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