Posted by Christopher at 12.58pm
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.
The Jamie Drake Equation,
CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals,
Posted by Christopher at 7.36pm
So begins my new novel, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day, which will be published by Nosy Crow on the 5th April 2018. As the dark nights draw in, April seems like an age away, but the brilliant team at Nosy Crow have already created beautiful bound proofs of the book which are now making their way into the hands of some early readers.
In her essay 'Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?', Ursula Le Guin - author of A Wizard of Earthsea, one of the urtexts of my childhood reading - wrote:
"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it alive: a live thing, a story."
It's thrilling - and a little bit scary too - to realize that The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is now coming alive and becoming a story, so it's been incredibly heartening to hear some early responses to the book:
Huge thanks to Jane, Nicola and Jo (whose tweet won't embed for some reason but you can find it here) for these kind words about the story.
I'll be revealing more details about The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day in the run-up to publication, but on Wednesday 1st November BookLoverJo will be revealing the cover to the book. If, like me, you're a fan of the amazing art that Matt Saunders created for The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation, you're going to want to see his art for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.
I'll leave you now with a few more of the opening lines of the story.
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day
Posted by Christopher at 2.22pm
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.
Edinburgh Book Festival,
The Jamie Drake Equation
Posted by Christopher at 12.07pm
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.
Edinburgh International Book Festival,
Cheltenham Literature Festival,
Birmingham Literature Festival,
The Jamie Drake Equation,
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright,
How To Be A Young Writer,