The fantastic Books for Topics website has included ‘The Great Chocoplot’ as part of their 50 Recommended Reads for Year 4. What a huge honour! Check out their website here, where you can download a handy poster and checklist for your classroom.
Thanks you, Alison (at Books for Topics) for choosing Chocoplot!
My week took a strange twist when I received a message from a BBC producer asking me if I wanted to appear as a surprise guest on Colin Murray’s BBC 5 Live radio show while he was interviewing Steve Cram. He was chatting to the Olympian, World Champion and multiple World Record Breaker in advance of the start of the Olympic athletics programme about his life as a runner.
You would have thought maybe Seb Coe, Steve Ovett or Daley Thompson would have made a more appropriate guest to sing the praises of one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes. But no, I was asked.
You may ask why? Well, it’s probably not what you think.
But if you click on the link here you’ll find out. I’m on at the start of the programme, but the rest is well worth a listen too.
Incredibly honoured to be Middlesbrough Libraries‘ Author of the Month.I’ve had the pleasure of doing many events in libraries and schools in the Middlesbrough area and always received a warm welcome (in spite of the fact I come from Newcastle!!) and my audiences have always been a lot of fun.There is such a wonderful culture of reading for pleasure in this area. I am hoping that as libraries continue to reopen and expand their services and activities once restrictions allow, that everyone in Middlesbrough will rediscover what fantastic libraries and librarians they have there.
Please check out here to see me talking about my books and banging on about why libraries are so great.
When I was a kid, I used to create my own comics, which were stitched together with my mam’s leftover wool. As printers and photocopies were not a familiar sight in the 70s, I only ever produced one copy of each comic. Therefore, I had to knock on doors of my hometown of Wallsend (a then shipbuilding town on the banks of the coaly Tyne) and hope that any friendly folk would want to ‘loan’ my copy for 5 pence per day. Sometimes, after a week, I’d get enough money to splash out on a can of Top Deck, a packet of Tudor crisps and sometimes even a Texan Bar from the offy at the end of the street.
Today I received a ‘Big Box of Chaos’ (as my publisher called it) with multiple copies of my new set of 12 graphic novels (as the cool kids call them). Luckily, they have not been illustrated by me, but by the AMAZING Amit Tayal. It has been such a team effort, especially with my editor, the fabulous Zoë Clarke, dealing with my stories constantly drifting randomly from the synopsis which had gone through rigorous approval meetings with the High Council at HarperCollins!
These are now going to go ALL OVER THE WORLD for, admittedly, a little more that 5 pence a pop, but you do get to keep them.
The best part is that I don’t even have to knock on any doors!
There are 12 brand new non-fiction books available based upon my ‘Shinoy and the Chaos Crew’ series and using characters and ideas from the books.
They have been written by a group of brilliant authors (far cleverer than me!) to investigate the curious and unusual topics that have cropped up in Shinoy’s adventures. They would make a fantastic addition to any primary classroom and I’m sure will trigger lively discussions and fire imaginations.
It has been a joy working with Amit and the artwork team on the ‘Shinoy and the Chaos Crew’ books, who have all done an amazing job. Book cover artwork is always such an important and often over-looked part of producing a book. With the Shinoy series we wanted something dynamic and outstanding for every page – and with such a talented team, we certainly got that!
Here are some fascinating insights into the illustration process from Beehive Illustration’s first ‘Under the Cover‘ feature.
I am totally mega excited to announce that there will be twelve ‘Shinoy and the Chaos Crew’ graphic novels being released in June (2021).
It has been great fun writing these stories with my ever-so-creative editor, Zoë Clarke, and our amazing illustrator, Amit Tayal. We have tried to cram in even more action and thrills than we thought possible.
I can’t wait for more Chaos to be released into the world!!
You can take a sneaky look and maybe pre-order them here.
It is an honour to have been chosen to be one of the Open University’s Author Spotlights.
Every month the OU’s Reading for Pleasure website has an author answering a few questions about reading and books. It was a thrill to be asked in amongst some incredible company who had previously been asked. There is also a downloadable version available for classroom displays – which is very handy!
My new series of books, ‘Shinoy and the Chaos Crew’, are largely aimed at young people who would not normally choose to pick up and read a book. In an article I wrote for my publisher, I talk about my own experiences of being a ‘reluctant reader’ when I was young. Sometimes people who don’t read much (or at all) are not those who are uninterested in stories, as some people think, but are those that LOVE stories. Reading can be a slow way to access a story, which does put readers like me off. I wrote my new series with this in mind and wanted to bring the story bursting into the readers mind as soon as possible.
You can read the whole article here (don’t worry, it’s very short!).
Shinoy and the Chaos Crew are spreading action, adventure and the best kind of chaos throughout the world.
Recently released in the UK, the series has already arrived in places like India and Australia. It will soon hit the coast of Canada (27th February) and then onto the United States of America (1st April – no joke!).
It’s so exciting seeing these crazy characters being welcomed wherever they go. And they have no plans on stopping just yet!
The nasty S.N.A.I.R. from my ‘Shinoy and the Chaos Crew’ books has reminded me that this website needs updating with all of his evil deeds – and the not-so-evil doings of the Chaos Crew. So I will be adding lots of new and groovy stuff to this website in the coming weeks.
I’m honoured to be a part the National Literacy Trust‘s ‘Connecting Stories‘ campaign. This is a new programme to champion the joy of writing and reading for enjoyment with schools and communities in some of the most deprived areas of the country.
It was the livestream launch today for the communities that I will be involved in and it was a lot of fun connecting with homeschoolers from the Blackpool area. We had some great questions which allowed me to gibber away and hopefully explain why this is something so important to me.
There is plenty more happening – including a writing competition – so watch this space!
There are 24 books in the series – seven of them written by the fabulous Zoë Clarke – and artwork by Amit Tayal, who has done a staggering job bringing all our craziness into life.
They have been written with young reluctant readers especially in mind, but hopefully will be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. I’ve tried to pack them with as much action, adventure and silliness that I can. They’ve been so much fun to write. More details and options to buy them are here.
Obviously … schools, teaching staff and their pupils have lots of more important things going on right now. I wish everyone strength in these coming weeks as schools only take in the children of critical workers, and carry out their lessons online. This is far from perfect, but the time will soon be here when teaching and learning can get back to normal. These books can wait until then.
Stay safe and keep using those fantastic imaginations!