Some papercuts from the weekend…

Over the weekend, when I wasn’t at the Coraline screening or racing to buy the last strawberries in Dublin, I read some newspapers…

Alison Flood in the Guardian has a look at the stiff competition in the Arthur C Clarke SF Award.

While in the Irish Independent, Cathy Kelly (who doesn’t quite write science fiction), has some tips and bugbears for would-be writers. This is my favourite:

If you are stunningly attractive, a photo may help. They won’t publish your book because you’re cute, and people won’t buy it because you’re cute…  …if and when you do publicity, there is a slightly greater chance that newspapers will want to publish an article if they get gorgeous pictures too. Sad but true.

Oxford University Press come out guns blazing in their own defence in the Times UK:

it gives children structured support and engagement. It has always been the intention of Oxford Reading Tree to get children reading as quickly as possible so that they can access the richly diverse world of children’s literature for themselves. - Kate Harri, Managing Director, Educational and Children’s Division, OUP.

Sticking with the Times UK, this time with Nicolette Jones, who reviews Emily Gravett’s Dogs.

Over in the Guardian Julia Eccleshare has not one but two reviews - Joe Berger’s Bridget Fidget and Helen Cooper’s Dog Biscuit.

In our own Irish Times, Peter Crawley reviews The Giant Blue Hand (Marina Carr’s new play for children playing in The Ark)

Some will be surprised by how dark Carr is willing to go here, but even as the Giant Blue Hand boasts about eating his victims with mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise, each hardship comes cushioned with a savoury gag.

“Time can do terrible things,” says Walker, “but it can also do the wonderful.” That desire to explore the dark folds of fantasy in a production brimming with imagination speaks directly and sincerely to kids. To grown-ups too, for that matter.

And finally - Slashfilm have some sneak peaks from Where the Wild Things Are. Go see! Go see!

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Oh, that cunning ham | Children’s Fiction Competition

I managed to miss the piece in the Times UK about their Children’s Fiction Competition but Emerging Writer spotted it. Tying in with yesterday’s blather about editors - I thought it was pretty interesting to read Barry Cunningham’s comments about the shortlist:

Threads by Sophia Bennett

Funny, serious and absorbing. The lives of a group of friends who love fashion and style become entwined with a young, brilliantly talented African refugee with a painful background.

Marshes of Magdalen by Victoria Suzuki

A colony on another planet runs into trouble from the survivors of the previous failed expedition and the intelligent life forms already there. Physically gripping and exciting, with very real teenagers at its heart.

The Psychic Squad by Shar Ros-Elman

Children with psychic abilities are singled out for special training. The question of whether they are to be used for good or evil is mixed in with their relationships to each other.

Charlie Squires Goes Elsewhere by Justine Windsor

Amusing fantasy romp for younger readers. A young boy follows his mother through a painting to an alternative world of mild peril, but strong adventures.

Chasing the River by Anne Giraud

A beautifully written African odyssey. A young refugee from a massacre travels through a devastatingly beautiful landscape and battles with danger, betrayal and impoverishment. Hope, resourcefulness and courage beat in his breast.

Head over to the Times site to find out more about the competition - and to read extracts of all the shortlist.

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: ,

So what happens now?

Last week Bookbrunch asked a few UK editors what they were looking for in 2009. It makes for interesting, and contradictory, reading.

In times such as we face this year, escapism becomes even more important and will fuel the need for high entertainment - action, humour, riveting interest - in both fiction and non-fiction. - Roland Philipps, from John Murray.

And it has gotten me thinking about what is to come in children’s lists, more specifically Irish lists. Last week Puffin came out guns blazing with a list that would make anyone shed a tear of envy; and Simon and Schuster have some big titles coming through in the first 6 months. (Have a read of what’s to come) While Waterstones are begging publishers for more ebook releases - with competitive prices.

O’Brien Press have the Secret of Kells franchise releases - with a picture book and novel - as well as a new Judi Curtin book, Linda Moller’s The Great Pig Escape, James Allison’s Demon from the Deep End and Celine Kiernan’s next installment Crowded Shadows.

Mercier have two great books on the horizon - Damsel, Susan Connolly’s debut, and Kieran Crowley’s excellent and thrilling Colm And The Lazarus Key. On top of the new releases Mercier have picked up Anvil Press and the Children’s Press so there should be some really great reappearances - all available on the Mercier site soon.

So… what are Irish editors, agents and companies looking for in 2009?

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: ,

What the papers say…

P-p-p-plenty happening in the UK papers over the weekend, not so much in the Irish press though. In other news… the blanket of snow this morning made it harder than usual to get up. We still managed to throw a few snowballs before being desk bound.

The Sunday Tribune covers Suzanne Collins’ new YA book The Hunger Games.

Peter Murphy gets more of a look-see in the Tribune and the Irish Independent.

And across the pond, the Times UK had a pretty busy weekend - Amanda Craig goes to the dogs with a review of Emily Gravett’s Dogs and Dogger by Shirley Hughes.

Nicolette Jones, in the Sunday Times, reads the excellent Siobhan Dowd’s new book Solace of the Road.

In the Guardian Mal Peet reads Ally Kennen’s Bedlam

One of the many things I like about Ally Kennen’s novels is that they are built around big, centralising metaphors but she doesn’t overcrank them, nor resolve them. At the heart of Bedlam is the image of asylum, sanctuary. However, like our government’s policy on asylum, it’s a shambles. Kennen powerfully suggests that the real place of safety is within the generous hearts of the young.

And if all that wasn’t enough reading for ye - Declan has worked out a new fitness regime for everyone. 39 steps to getting published. A sure fire way to the top.


Toxic children

Polly Curtis reports on new research from ChildWise into children’s digital habits. The report surveys 1,800 children at 92 schools in England - and there is plenty of interesting statics coming from the annual figures released… …84% said they read for pleasure in 2006, 80% in 2007 and 74% this year.

Rosemary Duff, ChildWise’s research director:

It’s so clear that a lot of children are fluent communicators but not in a conventional way. They aren’t readers, they are reliant on spellchecks. They are a generation abandoning print and paper, and the whole integration of technology and the way they glide from one to the other is seamless. They will be surfing the net, talking to a friend and downloading a track simultaneously. 38% of nine- to 14-year-old girls take a games console to bed at night. That is the age group of girls who used to be the most avid readers. Now they have a media hub in their rooms.

There’s nothing new in the statistics but Duff’s response speaks volumes - I’m not convinced that a generation reliant on spellchecking aren’t going to want to read books. Brace yerselves for the sweeping, generalised statements about how publishing could adapt:

The next step for writers should be crossing media - building an online presence and developing projects for books and reading on screen alongside interactive elements - a twitter account for a character, a simple java game for mobiles, a DS sampler with video/sound - the ideas are endless. Next year it’d be great if Duff’s comments read: “surfing the net, talking to a friend, downloading a track and reading a character feed simultaneously”.

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: , ,

tweet tweet.

Twitter is gaining a huge following from publishers and others of a wordy interest. If yer an interweb fiend then it is a far more interesting place than my blog, sometimes. Okay, most of the time.

Thanks to a tweet from abigailrieley, yes that Abigail Reilly, I found out just how big and interesting it has become.

High Spot inc have a list of 188, American-centric, publishing related twitter profiles. Publishers, agents, bookstores, publicity agencies and reviewers have all taken to the 140 character craze. Then there are the writers who are up there - including Neil Gaiman, Diane Duane, Warren Ellis, Alex Milway John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Scalzi, Alan Carr, Dani Jones and so many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting…

Just beware of the Banana Goo Fingers.

Written by david. in: Publising | Tags:


There is a lot to look forward to this year, despite the bleak economic outlook. Irish children’s publishing has especially got plenty to look forward to - including three new imprints.  So here’s a very glimpse of what 2009 has to offer:

Jonathan Stroud has already hit the shelves with Heroes of the Valley alongside Anna Godbersen’s Rumours.

David Almond’s award winning Skellig will be making an appearance on the small screen in April - with Tim Roth playing the fallen angel and Bill Milner (the famous Son of Rambow) playing Michael.

Popeye will be ripped off by dozens of imitations after the 70th anniversary of Elzie Segar’s death.

The much maligned and delayed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will make it’s way onto the silver screen.

Dave Eggers has transformed Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are into a film with Spike Jonze, and a new novel, The Wild Things.

Mercier Press will launch Susan Connolly’s Damsel and Walker Books are teetering on the edge of teen-hysteria with Sarah Webb’s Amy Green, teen agony queen.

There’ll be more violence and public health hazardry with books from Patrick Ness and Derek Landy.

Shirley Hughes has a graphic novel for adults on its way, Bye Bye Birdie.

Simon and Schuster unleash the next big thing with Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon Lexicon. (S&S have other coups up their sleeve for 2009 with the release of Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop and Michelle Harrison’s The 13 Treasures)

Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing, the new The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, hits the shelves - and propel him into literary super-stardom.

And then there is Watchmen to look forward to. Need I say more?

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books, news | Tags: , ,

Tales from across the pond

Two links of note this morning from the US - first from the School Library Journal - where Gail Giles gives her opinion on why boys read, or don’t read, as the case may be.

Giles’ premise runs that, above a certain age boys become more influenced by male role models. Follow the hypothesis through and Giles suggests that the number of men working in teaching and in libraries needs to increased in order to encourage young male readers. Not a bad idea and it could work… but…

Somewhere in the middle, Giles slips into a strange Utopian fantasy with this ditty:

Whenever a male enters your home, before you offer him a cup of coffee, make him read to your son. If there’s a live-in male at hand, make sure your son sees him reading books on a regular basis. If you can swing it, get some of the neighborhood men to start a book club. And if you really want to please the reading gods, persuade the local guys to launch a father-and-son book club. - Gail Giles, School Library Journal.

Elsewhere, namely USA Today, Sharon Jayson has an interesting feature on how US teenagers use their mobile phone. A report, commissioned by CosmoGirl.com and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, has some interesting statistics - though much of it has already been established as a reality in Ireland and the UK (the heaviest mobile telecoms users in the world).

The statistic that 93% of 18-24 year old US teens use mobile phones there is an easily targeted market for books. With the advent of larger screens that are easier to read and more adaptable to personal preferences - publishers could easily develop campaigns to publish or promote books through the devices. An MMS animation or short YouTube video distributed through a mobile could generate some incredible hype.

Remember Nokia’s The Game campaign about 6 years ago? A brilliant interactive online/mobile phone puzzle game that led users to virtual clues and eventually to a prize. That could be adapted easy enough - for the right book that is.


Telling tales | Beedle the Bard

What would Christmas be without Harry Potter? Like the coca-cola Santa tune and the Pennys/Primark radio ad, Harry Potter has become synonymous with Christmas in our house. The movie release has been put on the long finger this year so The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the festive choice.

I haven’t landed my hands on a copy, yet, but reviews started to appear in newspapers on Thursday:

The pared-down language is tinged with antiquity but never patronises. Her gift for finding the perfect name, and the unexpected twist is undimmed. -

Features in the Guardian and Independent UK have a look at the launches up and down the UK while Nicolette Jones over at Book Brunch bemoans the decision by booksellers not to sell the book at cover price:

I wish the book trade would - belatedly, and for once - sell this volume at the cover price of £6.99. It is £3.49 at Tescos, Waterstone’s, on Amazon, and at W H Smith, though from 3-8 December it is only 99p at Smiths IF you spend another £15 (including on stationery or gifts). At  Borders it is £5.29 online, though on launch night it was £4.99 and while stocks lasted came with two free books, Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand and Justin Somper’s Demons of the Ocean - each the first in a series, and thereby properly encouraging future sales. On the whole, though, such an opportunity has been thrown away over the years by the discounting of the Harry Potter books.

And a note for the more charitable of ye - the net proceeds from the sale of the book will go to charity , The Children’s High Level Group (CHLG), which campaigns for the rights of eastern European children.

I hope that The Tales of Beedle the Bard will not only be a welcome Christmas present to Harry Potter fans, but an opportunity to give these abandoned children a voice - JK Rowling.


Irish publishing models | Conor Kostick

After the Children’s Books Forum last week - and the ensuing comments - Conor Kostick mentioned he never had a chance to discuss other models that would ‘allow for a sustained relationship with Irish publishers’. The microphone is now certainly turned on and Conor has the floor: (this is a long post - but well worth reading)


Written by david. in: Publising | Tags:

Burning the candle at both ends

Book Brunch report this morning that Candlewick in the US have agreed a partnership with Templar - the people behind the ‘-ology‘ books (Pirateology, Dragonology, Spyology) and Varmints. Candlewick will be publishing 8 new titles from Templar’s catalogue after Christmas and a further 12 later in the year.

This kind of partnership could be another interesting mechanism of cross contamination for Irish publishers to stimulate sales for new, and old, talent. Something to watch.


Even more things to do…

Fresh faced from the New Media Conference (notes from that tomorrow I hope) I found a string of emails with interesting bits and pieces when I got back home:

Achockablog never misses Andrea Deakin’s Newsletter - the next issue is up for enjoyment. And stolen borrowed from the pages of Andrea’s newsletter: The NYT’s Children’s Books Special issue. And within it’s pages -the Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2008.

And Eoin Purcell appears on theBookseller.com with an interesting look at the state of play for Irish publishing.

Of the top 50 fiction titles only four were published by native Irish publishers, seven of the top 50 were from Irish-based arms of foreign publishing concerns and the rest were published by foreign publishers.

More events tonight - the launch of PJ Lynch’s new book - The Gift of the Magi - and if you haven’t seen it yet… go visit PJ’s online Retrospective Exhibition, with prints from his books for sale.



The interwebs most famous blogging agent, Kristin, is off conferencing in New York. Her notes from the world of publishing and what they are looking for:

Looking for contemporary stories with a paranormal element. Contemporary main story with just a touch of paranormal.

Voice and character driven fiction (isn’t that what all editors want?)

A family-oriented story with complicated relationship between main character and parents or main character and siblings etc.

Gritty fiction

Novels where the reader watches as the main female protagonist making bad choices or learning to survive

Quirky funny, outcasts, dark but weirdly funny

MG fantasy

Literary voices in YA or MG, well-crafted stories

More Meg Cabot-type stuff

Hip or hot topics

MG or YA with boy protagonists

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: ,

Magnifying Glasses at the ready | examining publishing for children in Ireland

Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) and the Irish Book Publishers’ Association (CLÉ) - more acronyms than you can shake a stick at - have organised a panel discussion to look at Irish children’s book publishing on November 27.

Publishing guru Seamus Cashman will chair the panel, joined by who-be-whatsits: Seosamh Ó Murchú (An Gúm), Michael O’Brien (The O’Brien Press), Eoin Purcell (Mercier Press), Conor Kostick (author and former chairperson of the Irish Writer’s Union) and Mary Esther Judy (Dubray Books, Galway).

It will be a unique chance to hear the views and opinions from some very interesting people on and off the panel- I’m sure there will be plenty of others from the publishing world in the audience with comments, questions and plenty of debate.

So if you haven’t already - book your place!

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: ,

Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Longlists

The longlists for the 2009 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards have been announced - the lists are pretty long, thus the name, but plenty of deserving books up for awards. There have been so many great books out this year - the longlists are certainly proof of that!

The shortlist won’t be announced until 24 April 2009 - loads of time to get reading! No excuse.


Monday morning moan…

I’ve really little to moan about. I’m just back from the Aspects literature festival and a day or so in Belfast so I’m only catching up on what the web has been up to since Thursday. While I find something interesting to blog about have a look at these:

> Julia Eccleshare talks about Patrick Ness and winning the Guardian Prize… (You heard about that, right?)

> Eoin Purcell is going back through the archives and revisiting old favourites. (Gmail IM is great sometimes)

> The crew at Just One More Book have a really interesting discussion on independent/self-published books.

> The Bookwitch ponders who the Queen of Teen will be… (The Queen of Teen has a very pink website - the opposite of a yorkie bar)

> Eve Harvey has a look at Siobhan Dowd’s Bog Child and Kate Thompson’s Creature of the Night on Vulpes Libris. (And Chicklish have an interview with the Kate up to boot - spoiling us.)

> Amanda Craig has a look at Phillipa Pearce’s A Finder’s Magic and Edward Ardizzone’s Johnny’s Bad Day over at the Times UK.

And to make Monday that little bit easier why not check out Chicklish’s interview with Meg Cabot, as part of their ‘Meg Cabot Week‘.



Gaiman? Dublin? I’m there.

A copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book somehow found its way into my hands and I’m enjoying it. A lot.

Gaiman said elsewhere that he has tried to write this book a number of times before and it is only now he feels like he can finally do it justice - and he has. The copy I have is brilliantly illustrated by Chris Riddell but the adult crossover has a Dave McKean cover I think.

To promote the book some clever people are sending Neil on a tour around the US, Britain and Ireland. That’s not a typo, I did say Ireland. He’ll be in Dublin on Thursday October 30 for a book signing at 7pm in Easons on O’Connell Street. (Click for more details on the tour - it’s a long list)

Now, if only I could fast forward time and make sure I was at the top of the queue…

Written by david. in: Publising, Reading, childrens books | Tags:

Press Catch up

A few quick clippings from the papers over the last few days:

> Deirdre Falvey has a look at children’s festivals throughout October - no mention of the Book Festival though which is really odd… (irishtimes.com)
> Frank Cotrell Boyce
looks at Terry Pratchett’s new book - Nation (guardian.co.uk)
> Adele Geras
enjoys Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool (guardian.co.uk)
> UK children’s minister, Ed Balls, is against age-branding on books (guardian.co.uk)
> Amanda Craig looks at three books featuring well-known heroes as children (times.co.uk)
I’m sure I linked to this already but: Philip Pullman’s Essential Reading List (times.co.uk)
Stephanie Meyer’s new book has been put on indefinite hold after a draft was leaked online (times.co.uk)
> Star of MTV’s reality show The Hills Lauren Conrad is working on a young adult fiction series (rte.ie)
UTV’s new sitcom, No Heroics, following the everyday lives of British superheroes kicks off next Thursday (Guardian.co.uk)

Right, back to nursing a hangover. Ugh.


Lexiconical - Rowling’s copyright fight

JK Rowling has won her law suit against the publication of the Lexicon (an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter world). As a fan I am disappointed by the outcome - I found one of the most interesting aspects of Harry Potter was the explosion of fan fiction that surrounded it and Rowling’s support of that. However, there is a growing part of me that thinks as a writer that this makes sense:

I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work - JK Rowling.

More about the lawsuit and the outcome on the Guardian.

Written by david. in: Publising, childrens books | Tags: ,

Over the weekened I read…

I’m off galavanting in Sligo today and with long trips across country comes long hours of trawling through newspapers. A couple of highlights from 4 hours of sitting on a bus:

> Anthony Horowitz appears in the Irish Indepdent - interesting read and good interview by Julia Moloney.

> Alan Garner encourages the habtit of reading outside your age bracket in the Times (UK) - comes ahead of the The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group Conference next week.

> Louise Tucker investigates the phenomenon of boys reading Shakespeare as a graphic novel but not in text on the Guardian Blog.

Mobile broadband… it even works on a bus trekking through the middle of nowhere in west coast Ireland.

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