What with one thing and another I’ve been too busy to publish any new fiction this year – although I have been hard at work on Railhead 3, which will be coming out next spring. (I’ll be announcing the title and sharing the cover artwork soon.)
But although Sarah McIntyre and I won’t be releasing a new story until next autumn we are publishing one book together this year, and here it is – PUG-A-DOODLE-DO, the Reeve & McIntyre Bumper Book of Fun:
When those nice people at Oxford University Press asked us to come up with an book of doodling and colouring activities based on characters and illustrations from our four books with them (Oliver and the Seawigs, Cakes in Space, Pugs of the Frozen North, and Jinks and O’Hare, Funfair Repair) we had to have a good hard think…
And some full and frank discussions…
We decided that we didn’t want to just re-use pictures from the other books, so we ended up writing and drawing quite a lot of new material too, including some surprisingly pointless quizzes, the autobiography of Colin the superstar crab, a day in the life of put-upon space tyrant Lord Krull, Iris the Mermaid’s Beauty Tips and super villain Stacey de Lacey’s frankly disturbing debut as an agony aunt. There are, inevitably, Quite A Lot Of Pugs. It was also a chance to publish print versions of a few things which have hitherto existed only online, like the excellent character drawing guides which Sarah produces to go with all our books, and the touching tale of Kevin, the Dartmoor Pegasus.
That lot filled about half the book. For the rest, I went to Sarah’s studio in London’s exotic Deptford, where we sat up late into the night dreaming up jokes and activities to fill the remaining pages. This resulted in some lovely spreads…
…and some rather odd ones…
…and towards the end it all started to get a bit Conceptual…
Anyway, PUG_A_DOODLE_DO is available now from all UK booksellers, price £10, and I think it’s turned out rather well. When I was a kid I always looked forward to the Bumper Summer Specials which comics like the Dandy and Whizzer and Chips used to publish in the summer holidays – extra thick editions crammed with stories, jokes and puzzles – and I hope our Bumper Book of Fun has something of that quality. It made us laugh like drains while we were thinking it up, so hopefully it will amuse somebody else too. Here’s my 8-year-old cousin Aretha test-driving a copy, and she seems to approve!
If you’re able to get to Tales On Moon Lane bookshop in London’s exotic Herne Hill this coming Saturday (8th September) Sarah and I will be launching the new book with a special doodling event, featuring guest pugs (including pug superstar Benny Bean).
Look! Seawigs have reached Germany! Here are some young rambling isles who we met last week at the European School Rhein Main in Bad Villbel, near Frankfurt.
Dressler, our German publisher, had asked Sarah McIntyre and I to go and visit some international schools to spread the word about Oliver and the Seawigs, or ‘Schwupp und Weg’ as it’s known in those parts.
Me, Stephanie, McIntyre and Mystery Guest.
Our main host was Stephanie von Selchow who is the librarian at the European School in Frankfurt. She’d arranged for us to do two sessions there, for her own students, and a visiting class from the Textorschule in Sachsenhausen. A lot of the kids had already read Oliver and the Seawigs, so after we’d talked a bit about it we went on to cakes in Space, which has just been published in Germany as Kekse im Kosmos. Most of the audience spoke good English, and it seemed to go down well – of course, some of the show needs no translation; the bit where Sarah hits me over the head with a mandolin case goes down well in any language. Ow.
That afternoon we had a quick wander around Frankfurt, and tried to draw some of the odd but attractive pollard linden trees which line the riverside.
Then it was off to the Goldmund Restaurant at the Literaturhaus, where we had dinner with Stephanie and some of her colleagues from ESF and other schools. As you can see, it was very grand, and the food was lovely.
The next morning we were picked up by Manuela Rossi, who whirled us down the Autobahn to Bad Villbel, where we talked Seawigs and Cakes to some of the students of the European School Rhine Main. Utte, the librarian there, showed us some of the great artwork the children had produced, including this fantastic tower of houses. It looks a bit like a Traction City from my Mortal Engines books.
Best question of the day: “Where did you get those GIGANTIC SHOES?”
We’d met Samantha Malmberg and Caitlin Wetsch from the school at the previous night’s dinner, so it was good to see them in their natural surroundings, and meet their students, who were VERY EXCITED TO SEE US. Some of the classes had done whole whole projects on Oliver the Seawigs, complete with some great drawings.
Samantha Malmberg with one of the drawings we did at accadis…
…and the seawig Sarah drew for Caitlin.
And after that we had a little bit more time to mooch around Frankfurt, in the guise of Mitteleuropean crime-fighting duo Peek & Cloppenburg.
Strange things were going on in Frankfurt city centre. Nobody seemed to be bothered by the fact that the shopping mall was being devoured by a freak wormhole…
Oliver and the Seawigs has won an award in Switzerland! It’s the Prix Enfantasie, organised by Payot bookshops and the Swiss Institute for Youth, and Sarah McIntyre and I are very pleased about it! Here’s her blog, with all the details. And here’s a little video we made since we couldn’t get to the award ceremony. Lots of people know McIntyre for her fabulous illustrations, but did you realise she can also throw a book more than 200 miles with pinpoint accuracy?