"This is science fiction at its most moving and exciting." The Guardian

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Posted by Christopher at 2:22pm

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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’.

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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.

Festivals, Awards and Summer Reads

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.

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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!

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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.

News, reviews and interviews

Posted by Christopher at 12:46pm

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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!

The soundtrack to The Jamie Drake Equation

Posted by Christopher at 7:10pm

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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]

Science and fiction

Posted by Christopher at 11:17am

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.

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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.

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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.

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So thanks for the inspiration 2000AD and here’s to the next 40 years!

A belated thank you

Posted by Christopher at 1:47pm

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Last week the nominations for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals 2017 were announced and, thrillingly, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017. At the time of the announcement I was buried under an avalanche of deadlines, so didn’t have time to write this blog then, but to say that I was thrilled about this news would be a serious understatement as you’ll see if the video ever leaks of the Intergalactic dance moves I busted out when I heard about the nomination.

The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards are described as ‘the gold standard in literature and illustration for children and young people’ and one of the key reasons for this is because they are chosen by the experts in children’s literature and illustration - librarians.

Every writer is a reader and the books that turned me into a writer were the ones I found on the shelves of my local library, as I explained in this blog post from five years ago where I talked about the inspirations that set me on the path to becoming an author.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know about authors; my brain was full to bursting with their names. I was the Incredible Book Eating Boy before Oliver Jeffers had even drawn him, devouring the shelves of my local library. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, John Wyndham, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Cormier, Ursula Le Guin. With every book I took out, a new favourite author could be discovered and I’d then eagerly seek out everything that they had written.

At a time when even the idea of the library seems to under attack like never before, and librarians battle against cuts and closures, I’d like to thank every single librarian for the vital work that they do in inspiring new readers and writers, and the way they still make time to celebrate children’s literature with the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals and help share the amazing worlds that can be found in its pages with young readers everywhere. As I tweeted when I first found out about the Carnegie nomination:

Festivals, feedback and a shortlist

Posted by Christopher at 11:46am

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As the snow falls in April, thoughts inevitably turn towards summertime and festivals!

I’ll be at the Hay Festival on Thursday 2 June at 2.30pm, taking part in a fantastic event with Time Travelling with a Hamster author Ross Welford, where we’ll be exploring the wonder of science as a way to explain some of the mysteries of the world. Tickets are £6 and you can book these here.

On Monday 25 July at 2.30pm I’ve got an event at Octavia’s Bookshop as part of the Cirencester Children’s Book Week festival, talking about quantum physics, parallel universes and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.

I’m also proud to be a part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival Schools Programme and will be appearing at the Garden Theatre on Tuesday 23 August at 12.30pm, where I’ll be talking about the real-life science behind The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.

As well as these literary extravaganzas, I’ll also be representing the world of children’s books at some fantastic music festivals this summer.

I’m back at the Wychwood Festival this year, and if you head to the Kids Literature tent at 6.00pm on Friday 3 June, you’ll find me explaining exactly how to travel to a parallel universe.

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I’m also incredibly excited to have been asked to appear at Tim Peaks Diner at Kendal Calling and Festival No.6. In case you haven’t heard about it, Tim Peaks Diner is a festival within a festival, created and curated by Tim Burgess from The Charlatans. In this unique space you’ll find amazing bands, book readings, DJ sets, science talks, dance classes, great tea and coffee, and now children’s literature! Read this interview with Tim to find out more and if you’re at Kendal Calling or Festival No.6, I hope to see you at Tim Peaks Diner.

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Since its publication back in January, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright has been receiving some wonderful reviews. As well as being chosen by The Times as their Children’s Book of the Week, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright has been described as “heartwarming” and “a touching story” by The Guardian, “Moving, and exploding with scientific ideas and wonder” by The Herald, and has also received some lovely comments from authors I admire.

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“Back to the Future for the Large Hadron Collider generation. Hilarious and full of heart.” Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild trilogy

“I’d love this book in all the worlds. Heartbreaking, heartwarming, heartstopping. Amazing.” Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series

“A beautiful thing. Moving, funny, twisty, wise and deserves to be remembered.” A.F. Harrold, author of The Imaginary

“A delightful story to excite children about quantum mechanics - and adults should learn a thing or two as well.” Robin Ince, comedian, writer and co-presenter of the BBC Radio 4 comedy and popular science series ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’

“Christopher Edge’s warm-hearted writing sucks you in from the start with a sparkling take on parallel worlds, fuelled by a delightfully fresh understanding of quantum physics and a fearless ability to take on life, loss and dreaming big while never talking down to his readers. Bananas will never be the same again. I have one complaint about this book. I wanted it to be longer.” Samira Ahmed, writer, journalist and broadcaster

You can also read a round-up of the latest reviews of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright on the Toppsta Children’s Books website here and I loved taking part in the #KidLitReaders chat about the book which is storified here. I’m so grateful to all the reviewers who have shared their thoughts on The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and if any reviewers felt able to cross-post their review on the websites of online retailers such as Amazon, Waterstones etc. I’d really appreciate this, as sometimes these websites are the places where readers learn about new books for the first time.

Finally, I’m thrilled that The Many Worlds of Albie Bright has been shortlisted for the New Children’s Fiction Awards, run by Teach Primary magazine. It has been shortlisted in the KS2 category alongside some wonderful books and authors, so please keep your fingers crossed for Albie! The winners and runners up will be announced in the June edition of Teach Reading and Writing magazine.

The 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Posted by Christopher at 1:23pm

On Sunday night I flew back from Dubai where I had spent the previous week as part of the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Attending this festival has proved to be one of the most inspirational experiences of my writing career to date and I just wanted to write this brief blog post to share some of my thoughts and feelings about the experience.

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I arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Tuesday morning and that evening attended an Oasis in Time, an event to celebrate the opening of the festival with readings from Carol Ann Duffy, Anthony Horowitz, Meera Syal and Robert Lindsay to name but a few. This event contained two highlights for me. The first was listening to the eight-year-old Emirati author Abdullah Ali Hassan speaking from the stage with such youthful power and vigour that he put authors five times his age (i.e. me!) to shame. The second was listening to the astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield talk about the power of books and imagination. He spoke about his childhood dreams, of humanity’s greatest achievements, the wonders of the universe and the power of inspiration. “It begins with the spark of an idea,” he said, “It begins with literature.” And over the next few days at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, I saw for myself how true these words were.

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On Wednesday morning I had an event scheduled at the Nord Anglia International School in Dubai, where students from twelve different schools were due to hear me talk about Twelve Minutes to Midnight and the Penelope Tredwell series, but as monsoon rains fell and the car sped through flooded streets, I wondered whether even one student would be able to make it through the chaos that the rain in Dubai brings. Luckily, I had reckoned without the indomitable thirst for books that students in Dubai possess and managed to speak to an auditorium of over 150 students about where I found inspiration for Twelve Minutes to Midnight, exploring with them the world of 19th century stories from Sherlock Holmes to The War of the Worlds, and talking about how Penelope Tredwell fights against the expectations of her age to succeed in her endeavours. After the event I had the chance to chat to the students, who seemed to come from every corner of the world, and it was an honour to share in the love of books that they had. Huge thanks to the staff at Nord Anglia school for looking after me, especially Jasmine Ismael who is the wonderful librarian there.

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Racing back through flooded streets to the festival site, I quickly got myself ready for my first How To Write Your Best Story Ever event, a creating writing workshop for children aged 9-11. In these sessions I talk about the process of writing a story, helping children to develop story ideas from initial sparks of inspiration, create characters and settings and finally write the openings to their own stories. There was a great mix of children at the event with a panoply of ideas and we had great fun developing their story sparks into some fantastic stories.

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One prompt I give children if they have trouble coming up with an initial spark of inspiration is to take down a book from the shelf and flick through this until they find a line that could inspire their own story. The example I used in the session was a line taken from The Adventures of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie:

“By and by there was to be heard a sound at once the most musical and the most melancholy in the world: the mermaids calling to the moon.”

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In the workshop, we talked about the stories this line might inspire. An eight-year-old Emirati girl suggested that the mermaids might be singing to their cousins who lived on the moon, moon mermaids made of sand and dust who were longing to visit the Earth. I asked the girl where in the world the sand mermaids would want to visit, and, of course, the answer was Dubai. This girl then wrote the opening to the most magical story: a story about a young Emirati girl who walked out into the desert one day to discover a sand mermaid who had fallen from the moon. It was a real honour to share in this girl’s creative process and see how a line written in England over a hundred years ago could inspire a 21st century Emirati girl to create the most wondrous tale.

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I took part in several other inspirational events as part of the festival: a creative workshop for teen authors, a panel event talking ‘scintillating science’ and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright alongside the amazing authors Nick Arnold, Rachel Hamilton and Rehan Khan, and a ‘Now There’s a Scary Thought’ panel moderated by Jo Wroe where I appeared alongside the fantastic authors Curtis Jobling and Darren Shan talking about fiction that chills and thrills. And in every event I was reminded of the power of books: to engage and open minds, to share ideas and to inspire.

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After the final panel event, I had the chance to meet Hanna Ladha, an eight-year-old girl from Dubai who had been prevented by the rain from attending my Education Day event, and she presented me with a piece of art that she’d created inspired by Twelve Minutes to Midnight. This beautiful gift brought home for me the wonder that can be found in stories – how the solitary act of writing can create connections that span the continents.

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Perhaps more selfishly, another way in which the festival inspired me was by giving me the chance to meet some incredible authors. From chatting about the writing process with Ian Rankin to letting Simon Armitage know that I owed him money from my days as a student when I bought his collected works for 20 pence from a bookshop which priced books by their weight – a debt now karmically repaid – the writers who I met reminded me of the inspiration that books have given me, taking me on a once unimagined journey into another life.

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Apart from the wonderful readers that I met, the people I spent the most time with at the festival were fellow authors from the world of children’s books: Jonathan Meres, Holly Smale, Lauren St John, A. F. Harrold, Curtis Jobling, Chris Haughton, Rachel Hamilton, Gill Lewis, Petr Horacek, David Melling, Garth Nix, Lauren Child, Sean Fay-Wolfe, Darren Shan, Jacqueline Wilson. Thank you one and all for being such great company.

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The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature hasn’t been without controversy this year, with several people calling for a boycott of the festival. The author Chris Cleave writes here why he decided not to boycott the festival and his reasons echo my own – although they’re much more eloquently expressed. But one experience crystallized for me what I think the festival achieves.

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On Thursday night I was in the audience for Desert Stanzas, a night of poetry from John Agard, Simon Armitage, Harry Baker, Nujoom Al Ghanem and Grace Nicholls. As I listened to these incredible poets from all around the world, I was reminded of these lines from William Blake’s poetry:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour”

And as these poets scattered their words like grains of sand into the desert night, I thought to myself this is what is happening here. Writers and readers being brought together to share in the wonder of words. Sparks of inspiration, worlds of stories and ideas, scattered like dust into thousands of minds.

It was a real honour to be part of the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Isobel Abulhoul, Yvette Judge and everyone else involved in the festival, from the organisers to the volunteers. Thank you for inviting me to scatter my grains of sand.

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Children’s books on Radio 4

Posted by Christopher at 9:48am

On Thursday 28th January I appeared on Front Row, BBC Radio 4’s live magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music. It was a real honour to be interviewed by Samira Ahmed and have the chance to discuss quantum physics, children’s fiction and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. You can listen to or download the whole programme, which also featured the Elizabethan magician and spy John Dee, the sixties comedian Marty Feldman and the textile designer Tibor Reich, here and listen to the interview below.

Last week, the author SF Said launched the #CoverKidsBooks campaign, calling on newspapers to feature more children’s book reviews in their print editions. Sales of children’s books currently account for 30% of the UK book market, but the campaign’s research shows that children’s books receive a much smaller fraction of the available review space in print newspapers. The #CoverKidsBooks campaign has already received an enthusiastic response, with the TES announcing on Friday that they are bringing back children’s books reviews to give pupils a platform in the newspaper to write about the books they love.

Commenting on the importance of the #CoverKidsBooks campaign, Charlotte Eyre, the Children’s Editor at The Bookseller, writes that when new children’s books are featured in the review pages of national newspapers they are putting children’s fiction “in front of hundreds - and even thousands - of adults who, and I think this is a very crucial point, weren’t looking for children’s book reviews in the first place.” This serendipitous discovery is vital, perhaps prompting adult readers to move on from memories of their own childhood favourites and encouraging them to discover new authors and future classics with their own children.

Children’s books are the wellspring of so much of our popular culture and a vibrant part of it too. Thank you to Samira Ahmed and Front Row for helping to show this.

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A round-up of reviews

Posted by Christopher at 1:55pm

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The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was published on the 14th January and I’ve been absolutely thrilled by the reception it’s received so far from readers. Just ahead of publication, The Times chose The Many Worlds of Albie Bright as their Children’s Book of the Week and Albie’s also received some lovely reviews from magazines and book blogs too.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s read and reviewed The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. Last night, Frances Hardinge was awarded the Costa Book of the Year for her amazing novel The Lie Tree, and in her acceptance speech she described how it is a fantastic time to be writing children’s fiction and invited readers who might think that children’s books are not their thing to come and explore because ‘there’s a beautiful jungle out there.’

I love this image of the ‘beautiful jungle’ of children’s fiction, a world filled with wonder and excitement, where writers of real ambition such as Hardinge have made their home. Reviewers of children’s books are the indispensible guides to this ‘beautiful jungle’, leading readers through the thickets and vines to discover amazing books and fantastic authors, and I’m so grateful to all the reviewers who have shared their thoughts on The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. And if any reviewers felt able too to cross-post their review on the websites of online retailers such as Amazon, Waterstones etc. I’d really appreciate this, as sometimes these websites are where new readers take a first peek at the ‘beautiful jungle’ that’s out there.

Here’s the round-up of reviews and if you’ve reviewed The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and would like me to add a link to your review to this list, just drop me a line and I’ll update this blogpost.

“This book is such a delight – it made me laugh out loud, took my breath away and made me cry. It truly is a wonderful story which I loved reading.” BookLover Jo

“This is an extraordinary novel for children that sets out to explore the possibilities of our world” Minerva Reads

“It is a world full of many possibilities, a world of imagination and one that I would recommend to everyone, not just children Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books

“This eccentric, rather vividly compelling book is something that I think will mark its space very distinctly in the world.” L.H. Johnson

“This book offers accessible insights into such perplexing subjects as quantum physics, while telling a great story at the same time” Family Traveller

“This is an amazing, wonder-filled novel that ... really touches the heart and excites the mind. More than that, it is FUN. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” Fallen Star Stories

“I am quite certain that this book will find its way into the hearts of children and adults alike” Armadillo Mag

“With its brilliant story and universal appeal, I wholeheartedly recommend The Many Worlds of Albie Bright to readers of all ages.” Sofi Croft’s Book of the Month

“A quantum fairy tale” John K. Fulton

“An accessible, inclusive delight of an adventure, with a bittersweet centre - that will take readers as far as their curiosity dares them to go” Teach Primary magazine

Finally, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Samira Ahmed for Front Row, Radio 4’s premier magazine programme about the arts, earlier this month, and you’ll be able to hear me discussing quantum physics, children’s fiction and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright when this is broadcast on Front Row at 7.15pm on Thursday 28th January. Here’s the link to the podcast of the programme which should be available shortly after broadcast.

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