The Schools at Somerhill

I’m just back from my first book event of the year – a visit to the Schools at Somerhill, with that Sarah McIntyre. I stopped in London with Sarah and her husband Stuart on Wednesday night, and we set off bright and early on Thursday morning to catch a train down to Tonbridge…Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.29.57

Well, it was certainly early, but we weren’t that bright – Sarah needed a bit more sleep once we were on the train…

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I guess authors who do lots of school events carefully Google any school which requests a visit, but I always forget, so I’m never quite sure what sort of place I’ll end up at. Somerhill turned out to be amazing – three schools sharing a beautiful Jacobean manor house in the middle of acres and acres of rolling parkland. We both wished we’d had time to draw this tree outside the entrance.

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Here we are with librarian Susan Smith, who had arranged the whole day. Note Susan’s specially commissioned Cakes In Space T-shirt! And there can’t be many school libraries with a fireplace this impressive…

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(The fireplace in the room where we did our Pugs of the Frozen North presentation wasn’t too shabby, either.)

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It was Book Day at Somerhill, so we were confronted with a large cast of book world characters….

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We did the Pugs show for them in the morning, then split up in the afternoon so that Sarah could do comics workshops with the younger children while I changed into my Serious Author costume and talked about Mortal Engines, Goblins and Railhead with the older ones. Meanwhile, in another part of the building, the brilliant author/illustrator Jonny Duddle was doing his piratical thing, but I was so busy I barely saw him.

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It was a packed day, but filled with lovely kids, lovely staff, and lovely views from the library windows…

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On the way home we were so tired that we needed FURTHER NAPS.

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Thanks to Mrs Smith, Mrs Bodenham and all the Somerhill staff and pupils who gave us such a warm welcome. And also to bookseller Rosie Hill, who supplied boxes and boxes of our books.

We’re both too busy to take on any more school visits at the moment. But if you’re in the south east and you’d like to see the Pugs of the Frozen North show for yourself, we’ll be part of the Daunt Books festival in London next month.




(Photos of me and Sarah by ourselves, the ones featuring pupils, Jonny and both of us are by Somerhill staff.)

Pug and Blog Tours

Next week, Sarah McIntyre and I will be setting off to bring the good news of Pugs of the Frozen North to Manchester, Birmingham, Colchester, bath, Cheltenham and various points in between. Details on McIntyre’s Blog.


A pack of knitted pugs awaits our arrival at Simply Books in Bramhall, Manchester…

But next week also marks the publication of Railhead.  I’ll be marking that with a slightly less strenuous tour of Other People’s Blogs. I’m going to do something called the Railhead A-Z, twenty-six posts, arranged in alphabetical order, about various aspects of the Railhead world and the writing process. The first will appear right here on Thursday 1st October, as long as I remember to press the ‘publish’ button while I’m knee deep in pugs. You can follow me on Twitter for day-by-day updates about where the rest are appearing, and at the end of the process I’ll post links to all 26 here.

And while we’re on the subject, head over to Bart’s Bookshelf for the latest bit of Railhead concept art, a superb Hive Monk by Ian McQue…


Happy Puglication Day To Us


Today is the official publishing date for Pugs of the Frozen North, my third book with illustrator, megastar and international hatstand Sarah McIntyre.  It’s the tale of Shen, Sika, sixty-six pugs, and how they get mixed up in a wild and magical dogsled race to the North Pole. It draws on Sarah’s knowledge of Alaska and Russia, and my knowledge of Wacky Races. Sarah’s written a lovely blog about how she created one of the characters, hirsute heroine Helga Hammerfest…


And our brilliant puglishing and puglicity teams at OUP have been getting into the spirit, too…


Sarah also designed these lovely free-standing pugs, which will be helping to advertise the book in shops…


It’s been great working on these books with Sarah and the OUP team, and I think Pugs is my favourite so far. Thanks, guys!

Also, if you want to check out my old stuff, remember that this is also the publication day for these…



(Balalaika LP cover photo by Stuart Pyle, graphics by by Jo Cameron.)

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