Seawigs in Lyme Regis, Arthur in Wistman’s Wood

Lyme Regis

 It was a lovely day here on Wednesday, and Sarah McIntyre and I were off to the seaside. We persuaded my wife Sarah to drive us to Lyme Regis, delightful Dorset seaside resort famed for Mary Anning, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and thingy falling off the Cobb in that Jane Austen book, you know the one.

It’s only about an hour’s drive from Dartmoor to Lyme, but I’m afraid McIntyre still got very bored in the back of the car…

But we weren’t just going to the seaside for a jolly, OH NO. We were visiting the Woodroffe School.  Head teacher Richard Steward had asked us to talk to the to year seven pupils about our work.  This is a bit of a strange time, because our first joint book, Oliver and the Seawigs, isn’t published yet, but it’s coming soon, and we’ll be touring the festivals with it this autumn, so it’s nice to have a chance to talk about it in advance, and to show people some of Sarah’s fabulous illustrations.  And Sarah showed everyone how to draw sea monkeys, which is a very useful skill.

Afterwards, I talked to a group who have been doing some work on Mortal Engines. It’s nice that it’s still finding new readers after these years, and they’d produced these posters for an imaginary Mortal Engines movie, and some pamphlets for Magnus Crome’s re-election campaign. Would you buy a used Traction City from this man?

We even had our photo taken in front of one of the school’s amazing murals (and behind some of its amazing pupils) for the local paper…

…though I prefer this picture.

And as we were leaving we met a human whoopee cushion, which rounded the morning off nicely.

Then we strode down the steep hill into the centre of town, met Sarah (who had been pottering about taking photographs and looking for ichthyosaurs) and had lunch at a nice cafe on the sea front, before walking out along the Cobb, as every visitor to Lyme must, especially the ones who have just bought fancy new hats and want their photos taken.

It was pretty much a perfect day…

Wistman’s Wood

By Thursday, normality had been restored: it was raining again.  But we set out anyway for Wistman’s Wood, in the company of Joyce Herbeck, her colleague Kim, and their students from Montana State University, who are on a whistlestop tour of Britain’s literary sites. They’d been at Tintagel the day before, and met me to talk about Here Lies Arthur, among other things. Joyce makes this trip every other year, and when she got in touch last time round to ask if we could meet up  I suggested a quick detour to Wistman’s Wood, which is only a short way from the road along a fairly easy track, and looks like the perfect fairytale/fantasy forest. Last time the weather was rather better, but I hope this year’s students enjoyed it despite the fog, drizzle and gnats. More on the McIntyreblog, as always. 

Afterwards Joyce bought us lunch at the Two Bridges Hotel, and kindly gave McIntyre and I a lift part of the way home. I think the students were a bit surprised when we got Vince the coach driver to drop us off near Bennet’s Cross, on an absolutely featureless stretch of fog-bound heather. (We know how to make a dramatic exit.) We waved them off on their way to their next stop (Stonehenge), and hiked home through the old mining gullies of Heathercombe.

This writing lark is fun, and you get to meet the nicest people! Except that, now and then, you actually have to sit down and do some writing. That’s what I shall be doing for the next few weeks – there are a lot of Goblins clamouring for my attention…

Summer Days

Sorry for the absence of posts recently, but I’ve busy (mostly) writing.  This week I’ve been editing the manuscript for the second Goblins book, Goblins Vs Dwarves, which will be out next spring and will be full of characters like this:

Last week we had a visit from Sarah McIntyre, and as well as getting lots of nice walks in we found time to discuss some ideas for the second of our books for OUP. The first, Oliver and the Seawigs, won’t be out till autumn 2013, but Sarah is already hard at work on the illustrations, and you can follow the process on her blog. (There’s also a bit there about a comics workshop she did in my kitchen...) The second story won’t be connected to …Seawigs in any way – in fact, it’s as different as we could make it, and I’m quite excited about it.  Here’s Sarah rocking the Vietnam LURP look in Wistman’s Wood during one of our editorial strolls.

I was planning that Fever Crumb 4 would be my next big project, but sadly it’s had to be put on the back burner for contractual reasons. I’ve consoled myself by starting in on a huge new story which I just call ‘The Epic’ for the moment. It’s far and away the most science-fictional thing I’ve ever written,  and it also looks set to be the longest – I’ve done 50,000 words so far and I don’t think I’ve reached the half-way point yet.  It’s not a children’s book, but whether it’s ‘YA’ or for grown-ups (and whether anyone will want to publish it) it’s too early to say.  It’s a lot of fun to write, though, so I don’t really care.  And as soon as it’s done I’ll be back to Fever 4.

And on a more practical note, we’re having our shed done up to make a writing/drawing/photography studio. I’m not remotely practical so all the work is being done by our brilliant builders, Claud and Neil, but I did pop out between rainstorms to slap a bit of preservative stain on the exterior cladding…

If you’re in Edinburgh next weekend I’ll be appearing at the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square.  If you’re in Ireland in September Sarah McIntyre and I will be doing our thing at the Mountains to Sea Festival in Dún Laoghaire. And if you’re a fan of SF or fantasy and can get to Bristol in October I’ll hope to see you at BristolCon on 20th October.

And wherever you are, I hope you’re having a great summer.*

*Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case Happy Winter.