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.)

Reeve & McIntyre at the BBC

Those lovely people at Scottish Book Trust took us all the way to sunny Glasgow last week to perform our Cakes in Space show, which BBC Scotland broadcast live online. You can see a recorded version here, featuring all the usual nonsense and Sarah’s ‘How To Draw Pilbeam’ tutorial.  And we’ve written a full account of our Scottish adventures on Sarah’s blog.

Forthcoming Events and Girls Heart Books

Nearly a month without social media, who’d have thought it possible?

Actually I cheat a bit, because I look at Facebook sometimes, and I’m still posting Instagrams. I mostly post Dartmoor landscapes on Instagram, which tend to pick up six or seven likes if I’m lucky, but my most popular Instagram ever, with a hipstertastic 13 likes, was this view of part of my bookcase… (?)

Anyway, I’ve been glad of the extra time that’s been freed up by abandoning Twitter, because I seem to be working on five different books at the moment; I’m writing the third Reeve & McIntyre adventure and another thing, checking through proofreader’s comments on the third Goblins book, Goblin Quest (to be published this spring), illustrating Kjartan Poskitt’s new book for Faber and Faber (more on that soon), and looking through the layouts for Reeve & McIntyre 2, Cakes in Space – it’s always great to see Sarah’s illustrations start to come together, and you can see a sneak peek of some of them on her blog.

Photo: That Sarah McIntyre

What I should be doing, of course, is practising the Sea Monkeys song on my ukelele, because Sarah McIntyre and I will be back on the road again very soon. We’re appearing on 4th February at the ‘Joy of Reading’ day at the University of Hertfordshire, where we’ll be talking to children from local schools. Then on 16th February we’ll be playing the Royal Festival Hall in London, as part of the Imagine Festival – we’ll be in the Clore Ballroom at 3pm, and available for signing etc afterwards.  There will be lots of other authors and illustrators appearing throughout the week, too, so if you’re in London do check out the Imagine section on the Royal Festival Hall website.

Also, I’ve been asked to do some guest posts for Girls Heart Books, and you can see the first of them here