Blog posts tagged "The+Jamie+Drake+Equation"
Last week I appeared on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours talking about the popularity of science-based children's fiction and you can listen to the programme again here. My interview starts at the 30 minutes mark.
Both The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and my forthcoming novel The Jamie Drake Equation were inspired by science, but, as I say in the interview, science lessons for me in school were mostly a battle for control of the gas taps between the kids who wanted to blow up the Science block and those of us who wanted to live. Any experiments we did get round to performing involved rolling marbles down slopes or heating salty water to boiling point and usually went wrong anyway as most major scientific laws didn’t seem to apply in Salford in the 1980s. In the real world, the Voyager spacecraft was flying past Saturn whilst the space shuttle zoomed in and out of orbit, but science in school kept my eyes firmly fixed to the blackboard and didn’t spark for me any sense of wonder about the universe.
It was a different story on my paper round. There, at the bottom of a bag bulging with tomorrow’s chip papers, I discovered 2000AD. This weekly comic was filled with stories of space exploration, alien invaders, genetically-engineered super soldiers, and time-travelling paradoxes. In comic strips such as Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog and Tharg’s Future Shocks, I found stories inspired by theories and discoveries at the cutting edge of science, and used to paint exciting and terrifying pictures of the future. And every week, I’d eagerly flick through the pages of 2000AD as I traipsed round my paper round, my mind whirling with thoughts of alien life and parallel worlds, until the time came to push the rain-spattered copy of the comic through the letterbox of the poor kid who had ordered it.
Unfortunately the interest in science sparked by 2000AD wasn’t enough to prevent me getting a grade D in my GCSE Physics exam, but it did lead me to E.T., The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Back to the Future and Doctor Who. In the world of fiction, I found real scientific ideas sparkling with a sense of wonder that science in school had kept hidden.
On Saturday 11th February, courtesy of prize tickets from Geek Syndicate, I made a pilgrimage with my brother to London’s Hammersmith Novotel for 2000AD’s 40th Anniversary Festival to say thank you to the writers and artists whose imaginations lit up my childhood in the pages of the galaxy’s greatest comic and helped plant the seeds of an interest in science that eventually blossomed into the books that I write. It was a real thrill to meet Pat Mills, the Charles Dickens of British comics, whose vision for 2000AD and timeless creations have helped to inspire generations of readers.
So thanks for the inspiration 2000AD and here’s to the next 40 years!
On Thursday 2 March 2017 - World Book Day appropriately enough - The Jamie Drake Equation will be published by Nosy Crow, although, as I've heard reports of copies finding their way into shops already, maybe I should just say OUT NOW!
Some fantastic book bloggers, librarians and reviewers are already sharing their first reviews of The Jamie Drake Equation and I'd like to thank them for these kind and thoughtful reviews.
"Reminded me of classics from my own childhood - especially Chocky by John Wyndham and the film E.T." Reading Zone
"This story is a cosmic ray of light that will uplift your soul to the nebulae and back. It will take you on the best journey that the imagination has to offer." Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books
"I have been looking forward to reading this book for so long and it really didn’t disappoint. This stunning sci-fi adventure is out of this world." Miss Cleveland
"One of those great books that offers a humorous, intelligent, warm and gripping read. I can't wait to get it into the hands of children in my class." North Somerset Teacher's Book Award blog
"A funny, brilliant story with a twist." Sue & Pakka's blog
Thank you too to the brilliant Matt Saunders for the amazing cover he's created for The Jamie Drake Equation. And the ace team at Nosy Crow for all their work too.
Just like for The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, I've created a soundtrack for The Jamie Drake Equation which you can listen to on Spotify below. These are the songs that accompany the action or inspired me in some way as I was writing the book. You can read my guide to creating a book soundtrack here, but I'm very excited to say that I'm going to be talking about the soundtrack to The Jamie Drake Equation and why I think every book should have a soundtrack on Chris Hawkins' Early Breakfast Show on BBC 6 Music tomorrow to launch World Book Day week. I should be on just after 6am, so tune in and let Chris know what songs you'd like to soundtrack the books you love.
Update - Click this link to listen to my full interview with Chris Hawkins. Thanks so much Chris, producer Jen and all the team at BBC 6 Music for supporting World Book Day. Reading is the new rock'n'roll!
The Jamie Drake Equation - a chapter-by-chapter tracklisting
1. Wish You Were by Pink Floyd [Chapter 1]
2. D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman by Oasis [Chapter 2]
3. Observatory Crest by Mercury Rev [Chapter 4]
4. Pi by Kate Bush [Chapter 8]
5. Out of Space by The Prodigy [Chapter 10]
6. Stars All Seem To Weep by Beth Orton [Chapter 12]
7. Pictures of You by The Cure [Chapter 15]
8. Space Carnival by The Comet is Coming [Chapter 15]
9. New Light of Tomorrow by Husky Rescue [Chapter 16]
10. The Hive by BE [Chapter 16]
11. 1st Man in Space by The All-Seeing Eye [Chapter 18]
12. Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell [Chapter 20]
13. Space Oddity by David Bowie [Chapter 21]
14. Around by Tim Burgess & Peter Gordon [Chapter 22]
15. Blackstar by David Bowie [Chapter 23]
16. Light & Day/Reach for the Sun by The Polyphonic Spree [Chapter 24]
17. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized [Chapter 25]
18. Sky Holds The Sun by The Bees [Chapter 25]
19. All We Have Is Now by The Flaming Lips [Chapter 25]
20. The Moment by Tame Impala [Chapter 26]
Since The Jamie Drake Equation was published last month, I've been thrilled by the reception it's received. It was chosen by Alex O'Connell as the Children's Book of the Week in The Times, selected by Booktrust as one of their March picks and was also picked by Imogen Russell Williams as one of the best new children's books in The Guardian's March review round-up. I've also been delighted by the reviews it's been receiving from brilliant book bloggers such as LH Johnson, Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books, Read It Daddy and the Big Book Project.
It's been wonderful too to have the chance to talk about The Jamie Drake Equation, and in addition to chatting to the ace Chris Hawkins on BBC 6 Music to launch World Book Day week, I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by top children's author Philip Womack for Books for Keeps magazine. I also blogged about the top 3 influences behind the book for Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books, absent parents in children's fiction for Minerva Reads, and the inspiration I've found in science for the Federation of Children's Book Groups.
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is also making it's way round the world, with Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, publishing the North American edition at the end of May, with translations also appearing or on their way in Poland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, China, Japan and South Korea. Huge thanks to all the team at Nosy Crow for their work helping Albie to see the world!
Finally, I also received the brilliant news last month that The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was the winner of the 2017 Brilliant Book Award! This award is managed by the Nottinghamshire Education Library Service, with the winner voted for by KS3 students from schools in Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City and Derbyshire. A huge thank you to Rachel and all the team at Inspire behind the award for the work they do inspiring readers and to all the students themselves, especially those who voted for Albie!
I’m really excited to be heading to Edinburgh at the end of this week to take part in the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I had an amazing time at the festival last year in a whistle-stop 24-hour visit, so was thrilled to be invited back this year. My ‘Writing for Young Readers’ creative writing workshop on the evening of Friday 18 August is sold out, but there are still tickets available for my ‘Strange and Unexpected’ event with Ross Welford at 10.30am on Sunday 20 August. So if you’re in Edinburgh on Sunday morning, please come along to find out which one of us is strange and who’s unexpected!
Later this year I’m appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday 8 October in an event entitled ‘Get Creative!’ alongside authors Jonathan Stroud, Katherine Woodfine and Lizzie Stewart. To quote the festival website this is ‘a creative madcap event for the whole family discussing all aspects of creativity, from things they made as children, to finding time for it in their busy adult lives and sharing top tips for budding creatives’ and apparently we’ll be ‘proving our creative skills live on stage too’ which sounds like enormous fun/potentially disastrous!
I’m also appearing at the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum on Saturday 14 October as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival for a ‘Cosmic Adventure’ event exploring the science behind The Jamie Drake Equation and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.
At the start of the summer I was thrilled to see my books The Jamie Drake Equation and How to be a Young #Writer included in the Best New Children’s Books Summer 2017 guide, published in The Guardian for Independent Bookshop Week. The Jamie Drake Equation was also picked by Alex O’Connell of The Times as one of her recommended summer reads in her round-up of her favourite children’s books of the year to date, alongside brilliant books by MG Leonard, Emma Carroll, Patrice Lawrence, Gill Lewis and others. I hope any readers who were inspired to pick up a copy of The Jamie Drake Equation as a summer read had a cosmic holiday! Although I’ve spent most of my summer working on edits to my new novel which will be published by Nosy Crow in Spring 2018, I’ve also made time for some of summer reading of my own, and plan to share some of the books I’ve enjoyed in a future blogpost.
Looking back, I’ve been absolutely delighted by the reception The Many Worlds of Albie Bright has received since its publication. The US edition of the novel was published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, at the start of the summer and was selected by Amazon as an Editor’s Pick of the Best Kids’ Books of June. Earlier in the year The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was also voted the winner of the Brilliant Book Award organised by Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries for schools in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Nottingham City. Then, in a totally thrilling flurry of announcements in June, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was voted the winner of the Harrow School Library Service Award, the Hounslow Junior Book Award, the West Sussex Story Book Award, the East Sussex Children’s Book Award and the Redbridge Children’s Book Award!
I was able to attend the Redbridge Children’s Book Award ceremony in person and had the pleasure of meeting fellow authors Peter Bunzl, Anne Cassidy, Katherine Evans and Teri Terry, as well as the wonderful readers who’d voted for the award. In his essay ‘The Lost Childhood’, Graham Greene wrote, ‘Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives’ and seeing the passion these young readers had for the books they’d read and the joy they shared as readers, I could only agree with this sentiment. These young readers are the future and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Nina Simon and all the team at the Redbridge Schools’ Library Service, Claire Morley and the team at East Sussex, Susan Heyes and the team at West Sussex, Rachel Marshall and the team at Inspire, the librarians and teachers responsible for the Hounslow and Harrow awards, and all teachers and librarians involved in similar awards and schemes, for all the work they do to inspire and celebrate young readers.
One of the highlights of my summer was attending the Edinburgh Book Festival. After a flying visit last year where I took part in the brilliant Baillie Gifford Schools Programme and talked quantum physics, parallel universes and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright to a packed theatre of awesome young readers, I was thrilled to be invited back to the festival this year for events in both the children’s and adults’ programmes.
Arriving in Edinburgh on Friday evening, I headed straight to the Author’s Yurt where I was greeted by Janet Smyth, the festival’s ace Children & Education Programme Director who took me along to the swanky new Greenhouses that had sprung up along George Street opposite the festival’s home on Charlotte Square. This was the venue for my first festival event – a creative writing workshop for adults on ‘Writing for Young Readers’.
I’d asked all the attendees at the event to bring along a favourite children’s book and as we talked about the ways these books had shaped us and explored the craft of writing for children, it reminded me of how important children’s books are to us at different stages of our lives and what an honour it is to write for young readers. At the end of session, some of the attendees shared the openings of the stories they had worked on in the workshop with me and I’m sure I’ll be reading more from these writers in the future. Huge thanks to Joely Badger for her ace organisation of this workshop and the lovely folk at the Printing Press Bar and Kitchen who prepared cocktails on the night!
On Saturday morning, I got the chance to hang out with Kathryn Evans, author of the amazing YA novel More of Me which won the Edinburgh Book Festival First Book Award in 2016. Popping into Jonathan Stroud’s ‘Freedom to Think’ creative workshop at the festival, Kathryn and I promptly invented the HOW TO MAKE IT BIG IN BOOKS board game which you can see below. I’m sure this will soon get snapped up by some forward-thinking publisher, so keep an eye out for it under your Christmas tree!
At the Edinburgh Book Festival the Author’s Yurt is a constant hive of creative brilliance with ace authors, illustrators and festival folk buzzing around. It was great to catch up there with Jonathan Meres, Andy Seed, Sam Gayton, Helen Peters and Harry Baker. At one point, I was sitting in the summer sunshine outside the yurt whilst inspirational former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell sharpened his pencils on the table next to mine, but I managed to resist the temptation of asking him to draw me like one of his French girls...
Sunday morning in Edinburgh brought with it my ‘Strange and Unexpected’ event with Ross Welford, author of Time Travelling with a Hamster and What Not to Do If You Turn Invisible, in the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. I had tons of fun talking about astronauts, aliens and The Jamie Drake Equation and a big thank you to the audience members who got up on stage to help me to prove that any aliens orbiting Gliese 131, a star system seventy light years away, would probably be big fans of Elvis Presley! It was great to have the chance to chat to so many readers at the signing after the event and inspirational to learn from them how books like The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation are sparking their interest in science.
After this, I just had time to get the author portrait you can see at the top of this blogpost taken by super-talented festival photographer Chris Close and finally attend the Jenny Brown Associates summer party after ten years of being represented by my wonderful agent Lucy Juckes there, before bidding a reluctant farewell to Edinburgh and finally heading home.
Huge thanks to Janet Smyth and all the fantastic team who make the Edinburgh Book Festival run like a dream. Thank you for inviting me to be part of the wonderful carnival of ideas and excitement that you create every year in Charlotte Square Gardens.
Over the past few months it’s been thrilling to hear about The Jamie Drake Equation being shortlisted for several awards including the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award, the Haringey Children’s Book Award and the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award. Today, however, with the announcement of the nominations for CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals 2018, I’ve hit thrill-power overload as I learned that The Jamie Drake Equation has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018!
As I wrote when The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was nominated last year, the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards are described as 'the gold standard in literature and illustration for children and young people' because they are chosen by the experts in children's literature and illustration – librarians.
The Jamie Drake Equation is a book about astronauts and aliens, family and friendship, and was written for anyone who has ever looked at the stars. When I was writing the book, I wanted to use the following quotation from the film, A Matter of Life and Death, as the opening epigraph, but sadly wasn’t able to clear the permission to use this:
“This is the Universe. Big, isn’t it?”
I believe that reading opens the door to the Universe. Every one of the books nominated for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals is a shining point of light in the sky, and beyond this list there are countless more brilliant books shining there too. Libraries are the spaceships that help us explore this universe and librarians the starship commanders, helping readers to aim for the stars and discover new worlds. Thank you to all librarians for the vital work that you do. Thank you for nominating The Jamie Drake Equation.