2018 Book News

Happy New Year!

After a quiet time publication-wise in 2017, I’m going to be BUSY over the next twelve months. Here’s a list of all the Reeve, McIntyre and Reeve & McIntyre titles which will be released in the UK during 2018.

Station Zero

 

This is the third book in the Railhead trilogy. I wrote a bit about it here, and I’ll be writing a lot more about it as publication date draws near. I’ve really enjoyed living in  Zen and Nova’s world for the past few years – in fact, I think it’s the best time I’ve had as a (solo) writer, and the best work I’ve done. I’ll be sorry to move on, but I hope Station Zero is a suitably grand and explosive way to bring the series to a conclusion. The cover illustration is by Ian Mcque.

Published by Oxford University Press, May 2018

 

Night Flights

Ian McQue is also going to be providing a cover and some interior illustrations for this book, which gathers together three short stories about Anna Fang, adding a bit of detail to the stories of her early life which are hinted at in Mortal Engines. The middle story is based on my long out-of-print World Book Day story Traction City, but I’ve re-written it to bring Anna to the centre of things – she made more of a cameo appearance in the original version. The other two are episodes from Anna’s life which never found a place in the original Mortal Engines Quartet, and which I think make good stories in their own right – I’m very much looking forward to seeing what images Ian puts with them. As there’s no artwork to show you yet, here’s a picture of Jihae, who plays Anna in the forthcoming Mortal Engines movie. (It was talking to her in Wellington last year which made me decide to do this book.)

 

Published by Scholastic, June 2018

 

The Legend of Kevin

By Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Work in Progress!

This is my fifth story book with splendidly-befrocked illustration legend and international celebrity hatstand Sarah McIntyre! The first four each had a different setting and central character, but The Legend of Kevin will be the start of a four book series. It seems to be set in the same world as Oliver and the Seawigs (the mermaids make a guest appearance, and those Sea Monkeys are up to mischief again) but our heroes this time are a boy called Max and a roly-poly flying pony named Kevin, who crash-lands on the balcony of Max’s flat one stormy night and decides to stay. Kevin made his first appearance in a story Sarah and I made up one Christmas here on Dartmoor. He was inspired by a plump Pegasus I painted on a bit of Brighton beach driftwood back in 1989 – little did I know where that would lead!)

Published by Oxford University Press, September 2018

 

When she isn’t slaving over the illustrations for our joint efforts, McIntyre is usually to be found creating picture books (Jampires and There’s A Shark In The Bath are borrowed from UK libraries more often than all the books I’ve written put together). She has two new titles coming out this year:

Dinosaur Firefighters

 

Dinosaur Firefighters is a follow-up to the very successful Dinosaur Police, and if you know any picture-book fans who like firefighters and/or dinosaurs, this is the book for them. Dipsy the Diploducus is desperate to join the Dinoville Fire Brigade, but is she too big and clumsy? SPOILERS: Of course she isn’t, and after a couple of comic catastrophes Dipsy finds her feet and saves the day. (I eagerly await the adventures of Dinosaur Paramedics, Dinosaur Coastguards and all the other dinosaur emergency services, but I think Sarah might feel it’s time to move on…)

Published by Scholastic, May 2018

The New Neighbours

Dinosaur Firefighters is bright, goofy, and fun, and it’s main purpose is to make small children laugh uproariously. Sarah’s other picture book this year is drawn and coloured in a slightly softer-edged, more subtle style, but it’s just as much fun and will have the same effect. It’s based around her Vern and Lettuce characters, and takes place in a tower block where each floor is home to a family of different animals. Behind all the charm and silliness and cute bunnies there is a gentle, generous, very McIntyre-ish lesson about tolerance and neighbourliness. It’s her picture book masterpiece, and it deserves to do very well indeed.

Published by David Fickling, March 2018

 

An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines

(by Jeremy Levett and Philip Reeve)

With the Mortal Engines movie looming, it seemed a good opportunity to revise and expand the old Mortal Engines Codex, which had a very patchy e-book release a few years ago. Jeremy Levett knows far more about history and technology than I ever will, and he’s come up with an impressively plausible account of the centuries which separate the Fever Crumb books from the beginning of Mortal Engines, as well as lots of extra details about the cities, airships and characters who inhabit the books. There are glimpses of what the Traction era means for Australia, South America, and other bits of the world my stories never managed to encompass. And it will all be full of paintings, maps and diagrams by an illustrator (or illustrators) whose name (or names) I’ll reveal nearer the publication date.

Published by Scholastic, November 2018

 

These titles will be available from all good bookshops, and it should be possible to pre-order them from a few months before publication date. Page 45  in Nottingham ship internationally and stock the Reeve & McIntyre books  (and if you pre-order The New Neighbours from them you get a limited edition signed bookplate).

At time of writing, Amazon UK seems only to have a US edition of Night Flights for pre-order – it has the wrong publication date and a strange price – so UK readers should be careful to wait for the UK edition to be listed. The current Amazon listing also says there are four stories, but that’s wrong: there are three.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Puglication Day To Us

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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…

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

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

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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…

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

In the Bleak Midwinter

I’ve not written much about Mortal Engines on the blog this year – mainly because I’ve been busy reinventing myself as one half of Reeve and McIntyre and trying to help Sarah McIntyre and our brilliant publishers at OUP to publicise our first book together, Oliver and the Seawigs (available at all good bookshops, and ‘a fun-packed delight’ according to the Daily Telegraph.)

But, inspired by the brilliant paintings which Jaguar Lee has been sending me (like these and these, and the one above), I’ve decided that this is officially MORTAL ENGINES WEEK.

There will be more Jaguar Lee tomorrow in a post about Airhaven, and on Saturday I’ll post a little snippet from my notes for Fever Crumb 4.

But first, since it’s Christmas, I thought I’d re-post the festive Mortal Engines story which I wrote, and Sarah McIntyre illustrated, two years ago…

Shrike was dead: to begin with.  Dead as a doornail.  The girl had known that since she first saw his stark, white, armoured face staring down at her.  But thanks to the machineries and miracles the old-time folk had stuffed his carcass with, he could still move faster than her. She had to trot to keep up with him as he strode up the steep western face of the bluff.  Snow lay deep there, scrunching and squeaking under her boot-heels as she stumbled along in the old Stalker’s tracks.  As long as she kept setting her feet down in the deep prints he’d left she could manage; each time she strayed off his path she found herself floundering thigh-deep in drifts.
They’d been on a long trip, Shrike and the girl.  They’d been hunting a fugitive named Lardy Ampersand who’d robbed a bank aboard the traction town of Twyne.  Ampersand had fled into the Out Country, and the mayor of Twyne hadn’t bothered sending good men after him.  He just called in Shrike, the best and most feared of all the bounty killers, and Shrike had tracked the robber half way to the Westersea, with the girl following.  Now they were heading back to Twyne with Lardy’s head in a bag slung from Shrike’s belt.  For the first few miles of their hike the bag had seeped and dripped, leaving red splotches like a trail of poppies on the snow.  The blood had long since dried or frozen, though.  Twyne had moved on, and Shrike and the girl had been following its wheel-marks for a week.
The day was fading now.  A lavender twilight lay over the snowfields, and the air was sharp.  Above the hill’s curve a big planet shone, or maybe it was one of those left-over space-castles from the olden times.  The girl had stopped feeling her feet a long way back, but deep in her pockets her clenched hands burned cold.  Her face hurt too, but then her face hurt always. It was barely a face at all, riven in two by some dreadful blow – she did not remember the circumstances – which had left her with one eye, no nose to speak of, and a twisted mouth which was having to learn new ways to eat, and drink, and make words.
The girl’s name was Hester.  Shrike had found her that summer, washed up with the weed and driftwood on some Westersea beach.  Nobody knew why he had taken her in, least of all Shrike himself, a stone-cold killer with weirdy old-tech whirring and glowing where his heart should be.  Something about that ruined, thrown-away child had touched him.  He’d untangled her from the sea-wrack and kept her with him ever since.
He reached the top of the bluff and stopped there.  Hester caught up with him.  She stood at his side and looked east, and there was Twyne, rumbling away from them across the frozen marshes with long black bundles of exhaust smoke blowing sideways from its stacks like lumpy pennants.  It was moving slow, but not so slow that Hester could catch it without running.  She sagged at the thought of running, the weariness of her long walk coming down on her like a weight.
Shrike sensed it.  He turned, and the green beams from his headlamp eyes lit up her face.  He was not used to thinking about anyone but himself.  He forgot sometimes the girl had muscles in her legs instead of pistons.  He reached out his metal hands and lifted her, setting her on his wide iron shoulders.  Hester grabbed hold of the ducts and flexes on his armoured skull as he set off again, striding along at an improbable pace which made the frozen head of Ampersand go bomp, bomp, bomp against his hip.  The chimneyed smudge of Twyne started to resolve itself into houses and factories; two decks, with the big, clawed, barrel wheels turning beneath.  Soon Hester made out individual windows, and in each window was a warm glow and pinprick points of light a-twinkling.  The glow and the lights put her in mind of something.  She could not say what it was because most of her memories had spilled when her face was broken, but she stared at those lights and felt the memories brushing past her like big fish circling in the sea’s depths, just out of sight.
Shrike caught up with the town and strode into the din and dark between its rumbling wheels.  No lights down here, unless you counted the slivers of furnace-glow showing through chinks in the deck-plates.  But the old Stalker could see in the dark, and knew his way around the underside of towns.  He found an access ladder, and Hester held on tight while he scrambled up it, punched open a locked hatch, and emerged into the streets of Twyne. 
It was quiet up there.  Just a few passers by to stare at the Stalker and his shadow as they went up and aft towards the Town Hall.  Singing came from taverns and the temple of Peripatetia.  In every window candles burned, and tinsel stars hung.  In the snowy square in front of the Town Hall a whole tall pine tree stood, fresh cut, held roughly upright by four creaking guy-ropes, swaying with the town’s movements.  Little electric lamps burned among its branches, and strands of glittering stuff were wrapped around it.
“Winter festival,” said Hester.
Shrike looked down at her.  She didn’t often say much, and he didn’t often listen, but something had stirred his memories too.  He’d been making his way among the towns and cities of the world since before towns and cities learned to move, and it hadn’t escaped his notice that some decked themselves in lights and greenery every twelvemonth.  It had just never occurred to him before to wonder why.
Hester wiped frost from a window and peered in.  She saw holly branches; paper chains; candles burning on a shrine to household gods.  She said, “I remember when I was little…  Every year…  Roast chestnuts and stories by the fire.  Presents too.  The old Winterdad in his red coat, carryin’ his sack of presents for good children…”
And somehow Shrike remembered those things too.  Snatches of memories from long ago; candles and stories, the excitement of children.  
Now he stood in the snow in front of Twyne Town Hall, his old dark coat flapping around him, the stained bag weighty in his steel hand. 
A door opened with a sudden crash, as if kicked.  Lamplight lapped at Shrike’s toes.  In the doorway stood Twyne’s mayor.  Two other men stood with him, goggled and body-armoured, clutching shiny guns.
Shrike upended his sack.  The robber’s head fell into the snow like a dropped cabbage.  The mayor of Twyne looked down at it, and nodded.
“Nice job,” he said.  
“He needs payin‘ now,” said Hester.  She’d noticed that Shrike didn’t always stay around to collect the bounty once a job was done.  To be fair, he hadn’t much to spend the blood-money on; he didn’t care about clothes or a place to live, and she’d never seen him eat.  She hungered though; she needed clothes on her back and a roof over her.  So she always made sure he got paid.  “Ten gold ones,” she said, tugging her scarf up to hide her face. “That’s what you promised, for Ampersand’s head.”
“Ah…” said the mayor.  Pilbeam was his name, and he at least had the decency to look ashamed.  “Stuff’s changed, since I set you after Ampersand.  These gents…” (He indicated the men who stood on either side of him, the tree-lights starry in their goggles.) “They work for the Shkin Corporation; a big slaving company from down south.  Seems they provide fighters for the Nuevo Mayan circuses and they’re after new attractions.  They’d dearly love a Stalker, so they asked if they could have a word with you when you got back here, Mr Shrike, and I said…”
“I AM NOT AN ATTRACTION,” said Shrike, in a voice like a city changing its rusty gears.  His hands stayed at his sides, but his fingers all grew sharp, bright blades, like icicles. He said, “SHKIN’S MEN HAVE ASKED ME TO APPEAR IN THESE CIRCUSES BEFORE.  I TOLD THEM NO.”
“Well this time we ain’t asking,” said one of the slavers, and both together raised their silvery guns and pulled the triggers.
Lightning arced across the square and crackled against Shrike’s armour.  He stumbled backwards, tinselled with sparks, eyes flickering.  “Now!” shouted Mayor Pilbeam.  Hester looked up and saw that there were other men on the front of the town hall, perching like trainee gargoyles on ledges and gutterings.  A weighted net spread as it fell, settling over the Stalker where he struggled, wrapped in electricity.
Hester had grown so used to the idea of Shrike as unstoppable that it had never occurred to her that she might one day be called upon to help him.  She ran through the jerking blue light, the stuttering shadows.  She drew her knife and hacked through one of the lines which held the pine tree up.  The men ignored her, advancing towards Shrike, playing the blue fire of their strange guns over him.  She hacked another.  That was enough.  The tree teetered.  She pressed her small body against its outer branches and its scratchy clouds of needles; shoved.  
The falling tree swept a couple of men off the front of the Town Hall.  It came down hard on Mayor Pilbeam and the men with the electric guns: curses, a crackle of splintering branches, the great trunk smashing them flat.  One of the guns exploded with a shear of blue light.
Shrike was recovering.  He shook himself, like a wet dog shaking off water.  He tore his way out of the net.  One of his eyes was on the fritz, flickering and buzzing like faulty neon till he smacked himself hard on the side of the head and it righted itself.  He listened for a moment to the faint groans that came from underneath the tree.  He dragged out the remaining gun and crushed it.  He did not thank Hester, just went into the Town Hall with her following.  
The building was full of running footsteps, cries.  No one was sure what happened in the square, but they all knew that the Stalker had triumphed despite those fancy electric weapons, and nobody wanted to stay and face him.  As Shrike and Hester went from room to room they sometimes glimpsed people scrambling for the exits or squeezing out of windows.  They found a big, dim room where a fire was burning and plates heaped with food waited on a long table.  Hester tried some pie, a cake.  Shrike spiked a chestnut on each of his finger-blades and stood by the fire.  “ONCE UPON A TIME,” he said, “THERE WAS THIS…  IT WAS…  THERE WAS A GIRL WITH A DOG, AND THE DOG WAS CALLED NOODLE POODLE.  AND THERE WAS…  THERE WAS…  ONCE…”
He was trying to tell a midwinter story, Hester realised, but he wasn’t very good at it.  She crammed more pie awkwardly into her awkward mouth and said, “How about, ‘Once upon a time there was these two people, and it was a cold, hard world they lived in, so they went about together, for company.  And one midwinter they found a good snug place to stay, and stuff to eat, and they were warm enough for a bit.  And it was good.’”
Shrike looked at her, and the lamps of his eyes flickered ever so slightly, and from his outstretched hands there came wafting a smell of roasted chestnuts.  
THE END…
…and a Merry Midwinter to us, one and all!
Illustrations © Sarah McIntyre