What an extraordinary couple of months! World Book ‘Day’ became eight weeks of solid work, including three fantastic foreign trips to international schools in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Muscat in Oman and Jeju Island in South Korea.
I had wonderful hosts at all the schools. All librarians, who treated me grandly, supplying endless cups of tea and taking me out sightseeing and dining. I worked with hundreds of children, whose exuberant welcomes, enthusiasm and sheer love filled my heart daily.
And at the British International School in Jeddah, I was finally given what I have secretly long for for fifteen years – a book door!! I was impossibly thrilled 🙂
Introducing my new book… Jack’s Diamond and other stories.
It’s a collection of eight magical short stories – perfect for sharing at bedtime! There are ghostly pirates, dragons, a troll, a monster pudding – and a poem about what would happen if the world turned to chocolate…
I’ve written the stories especially for
younger children, aged 5 – 8.
The book is fully illustrated by Graham Higgins, who also illustrates Terry Pratchett books.
I have recently returned from another long trip. It began in Jaipur at the Kahaani Festival. From there I travelled across Rajasthan, to Pushkar and Jodhpur. Then I flew to Goa for Christmas and New Year … flew on to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam… on to the islands of Hong Kong… and then back to Barcelona for nine days, to acclimatise myself before heading back to the UK!
I love sitting in a cafes, with my notebook and Ipad, working on stories and ideas. In Goa, I worked in various cafes along the beach. A sweet lassi always helps, I find!
In Ho Chi Minh City, I favoured the rooftop of the iconic Rex Hotel. During the Vietnam War (or the American War, as it is known in Vietnam) the foreign journalists used to gather here at five pm every day for press briefings. They called them The Five O’Clock Follies.
In Barcelona, I spent long hours in the lobby of a fabulous nineteenth century hotel on La Rambla, called Hotel 1898. It was formerly the home of the Philippines Tobacco Company.
I am still working on my travel memoir, but also came home with twenty story plans for a book of stories for children, which was an unexpected bonus. I hadn’t planned on doing that!
The sold-out Secret Storytelling event at this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival was wonderful…
The venue was The Roundhouse – an old industrial building on the canals in Birmingham city centre. It used to be where the barge horses were stabled; now it is being renovated by the National Trust. It was a perfect place to tell ghost stories! Fabulously atmospheric and without electricity, so we finished the show in near darkness.
I was joined for the performance by four participants from a workshop I had led earlier in the week: How to Tell a Great Ghost Story.
I had a wonderful time at Sydney Literature Festival. I led a full day storytelling workshop and performed a show called DARK ENCHANTMENTS with the fabulous Australian author Kate Forsyth.
What an extraordinarily beautiful place Sydney is. So often, famous places disappoint. They are so iconic, so photographed, your expectations of them are unmeetable. But Sydney Harbour is totally wonderful, especially by night.
I’m back from my latest adventure! I began in Hanoi and spent three weeks travelling down the coast of Vietnam, via Hue and Hoi An, to Saigon. Then I spent a few days exploring the Mekong delta before flying to Goa on New Year’s Eve. And Goa was where I stayed for a month.
I wrote most days, but I’m still not sure if it will ever be published. Sometimes it’s nice just to write for your own pleasure 🙂
Now I’m gearing up for World Book Day – which is something of a misnomer, because it has become a sprawling beast for many authors. I am booked solid for the whole of the week and the two weeks either side. I’m not complaining, but it does get overwhelming when you’re doing four sessions a day, five days a week! You find yourself talking while your brain is shouting at you: ‘Have I already said this?!’ The answer is YES, but you haven’t the slightest idea when it was 😀
And then I’m off to Nigeria, with a group of fellow authors, poets and illustrators. We’ll be working in an international school in Lagos for the week. That should be a whole lot of fun!