Chris


About Chris

Chris Callaghan is a children's author of The Great Chocoplot, who enjoys visiting schools and spreading news about The Chocopocalypse - the end of chocolate! He was once an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force and an environmental scientist. It was during his time as a Stay at Home Dad that stories in his head turned into stories on paper - and then real books!

Chocoplot Returns to Durham Waterstones

It was wonderful to be invited back to sign copies of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ in store at Waterstones Durham. It is one of my favourite bookshops in one of the most beautiful places around, where I also always get made to feel incredibly welcome.

I was even treated to a queue of keen and patient readers/chocoholics for an hour or so after first arriving. I try to arrive at these events nice and early to get set up and shake the nerves away, but I was greeted by a couple of young readers sitting on the floor, already a few pages into their new copies. What a thrill to see that!!

Thank you to everyone who came along – some travelling quite a distance! It was an honour and I always appreciate these special occasions of meeting my readers and scribbling in their copies. After a few fantastic hours, here’s a picture of me emerging into the strong sunlight, with a bag full of newly purchased books (Fiona is an unstoppable bookselling machine!). I especially like this man’s ‘who are you?’ expression to immediately burst my short-lived ‘famous author’ bubble!! Great day!


Awards Fun

I had a great time at the recent Tees Valley Education Book Awards in Middlesbrough. It was an honour to be on a shortlist that included some of my favourite authors, who are also all fab people (yes, authors are people too!).

Catching up with Gabrielle Kent, Em Lynas and Dan Smith is always a pleasure, but it was a shame Sophie Anderson couldn’t make it (as she was adventuring in Canada!). I also got to meet Tom Palmer for the first time, which was brilliant.

It was a pleasure spending the morning in a local school and getting to meet lots of the keen readers involved in the process. An awards scheme like this is all about the readers – we just come along at the end and steal the glory! The teaching staff and all the pupils had put huge amounts of work into it and had obviously had fun. The awards ceremony itself was wonderful entertainment. A choir sang (thankfully not including the authors), awards were given out to the outstanding readers contributions and there was a quiz too! Although my book didn’t win (and you can see by the photo that I wasn’t upset by that!), I think the children chose very well as Tom’s Armistice Runner is an amazing book and a worthy winner.

Hugest of thanks to everyone involved, especially to Dan Mount, who came up with the idea and organised the event. Good luck with next year!


Website Issues!!

After a recent website update, this site has gone all wobbly!

The basic information is there, but pictures, links and other bits and bobs have decided to have a little holiday. I’m in the process of sorting it out, so please don’t think this is how my website always looks.

It should be up and running properly soon! 🤞


Easter Chocoplot Signing at Waterstones Uxbridge

If you are looking for some chocolatey Easter fun in the London area, then come along to

Waterstones Uxbridge on

Wednesday 10th April 2019.

I’ll be there from 11am to talk about my silly story and tell you some unusual chocolate facts. In addition, you’ll get to write your own chocolate story or create your own apocalyptic story plan. How does that sound?

After that, I will be signing books and chatting to anyone who’ll let me. Come along and say ‘hello’.

I might even bring chocolate!


The Tees Valley Education Book of the Year 2019

TVEd Book Award

Yay!!!

It is a massive honour to be shortlisted in the inaugural Tees Valley Education Book of the Year 2019 Award!

Especially as my book is alongside some AMAZING books by fantastic authors – most of who I am friends with! I hope that doesn’t cause any problems to our friendships!! It is an award that encourages school children in the area to share, express and hopefully develop their love of reading and this year it has focussed the shortlist on Northern authors.

It is a thrill to be involved. Thank you to all the organisers and best of luck to everyone.

The full shortlist is:

The House with Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson

Armistice Runner – Tom Palmer

Knights and Bikes – Gabrielle Kent

Below Zero – Dan Smith

You Can’t Make Me Go To Witch School – Em Lynas

Some chocolatey book – by some bloke!


World Book Month

I’ve been lucky to not just be able to celebrate World Book Day, but I’ve been out and about for a busy World Book Month!

It’s been my busiest year and I’ve almost lost count of all the schools and libraries that I’ve visited during this time. It’s a huge honour to get to do what I do. I’ve been able to talk (and sometimes shout) about my silly story and had so much fun. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting so many keen readers and book fans – and chocoholics too!

I must admit, there were a few times when I didn’t think my voice was going to make it! Strepsils have been my saviours!

Thank you to everyone that has made me feel so welcome in your halls and classrooms. And to everyone who has shouted, ‘Chocopocalypse!!!’. And many thanks to Authors Aloud, who have been so brilliant at helping me organise all these amazing events.

I’m a tired, but extremely happy author. I hope everyone keeps on reading and having fun all year round!

Thanks to Arthur Bugler Primary for this wonderful photo.


Beanstalk Celebration of Reading

Beanstalk and Jon Snow

Recently, I had the pleasure of celebrating a new collaboration between Beanstalk (a charity for helping to get kids reading) and McCarthy & Stone (a retirement house builder).

It was an ideal opportunity for me to meet some Beanstalk volunteers, as I have been considering becoming a volunteer myself. They all spoke so positively about their experiences of reading one-to-one with pupils who are struggling with reading. I was one of those kids myself. Reading was extremely hard work when I was young and as a result I didn’t read much at all. I certainly never read at home or for my own pleasure, which is something I wish I had done. I’m busy catching up on all the wonderful children’s books now, but feel like I missed out on so much of the magic of a young reader getting lost in an amazing story.

It was a lovely morning where I also got to meet the wonderful Beanstalk staff and author – and Beanstalk volunteer – Matt Oldfield, who writes fantastic football stories. There was also a chap called Jon Snow – Channel 4 News legend!! He was a real gent. It was brilliant to have such an esteemed reader supporting the event. And his socks were just as jazzy as his tie!!

As for myself – yes, I have started the process to become a volunteer. I’m excited and also nervous. But really looking forward to it. Hopefully, I’ll help young readers, like myself, to discover the pure joy of reading.


Patron of Reading

Patron of Reading, Chris Callaghan, The Great ChocoplotIt’s a huge honour and pleasure to be the new Patron of Reading at West Thornton Primary School in Croydon.

Last year, as a Northerner, this was the first London school that invited me to come in for an author visit. I was hugely impressed with the fantastic welcome I received, and the incredible school itself. It is such a stunning building. When my family and I moved into the capital, we were delighted that my wife became the Deputy Head there. What a coincidence!!

I’m convinced my role as Patron was nothing to do with my wife … but I’m sure it helped!

It’s a school, and an area, that has a lot of challenges ahead. I’m delighted to be part of the big plans that are being put into place to build upon the character and enthusiasm that so clearly exists. It’s an exciting time and I’m a little nervous, if I’m honest, but I can’t wait to get involved.

Reading should be a pure pleasure. I hope to encourage the joy of reading and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot along the way.

West Thornton, Patron of Reading, Chris Callaghan, The Great Chocoplot


Chrismassy Thank You

Christmas Thank you

One of the pleasures of being a children’s author is connecting with my readers. I love hearing comments and seeing art and stories generated from my book. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way (although, there is a bit of that!), but I always learn something from this too. Hopefully, that will make me a better writer.

I had the honour of a school choosing my book to be a name of a group of pupils – ‘The Great Chocoplot Group’ has a nice ring to it, do you think?!. We’ve exchanged a few things and it’s been great seeing all their fantastic work.

To say ‘thank you’, I did a little video, which is something I don’t do very often. But as they had been so amazing, I felt I had to up my game!

I got a lot of help from my daughter (a youtube whizz!) and quite enjoyed it. Maybe (maybe) I’ll do more and even consider doing some Skype calls to schools – see, always something to learn!

Thank you to Kestrel Class for all your work this year – the video is here, if anyone is interested!!

And a very Happy Christmas to you all (don’t forget to eat plenty of chocolate!)


New Chocoplot School Resources

It’s been wonderful hearing of schools using my book as part of their lessons or topic work (although it is still just as wonderful hearing of children reading it purely for a giggle!). I’m often asked about school resources … so, I’m delighted to reveal that Educational Consultant supremo, Jane Considine and The Training Space have put together some amazing English Unit Plans for Year 4 around The Great Chocoplot.

And they are FREE!

Check them out and download here.

How amazing is that?!

Investigate Jane’s book The Write Stuff, which compliments and further explains the Units.

More resources to follow very soon.

 


London Calling

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, London schools, Chocopocalypse

 

 

A little while ago, my family and I made the huge move from Newcastle to London. It’s been stressful, if I’m honest, but our welcome has been wonderful. I’ve already had the pleasure of visiting a few schools in and around our capital and it’s been amazing.

The schools down here are MASSIVE!! Leading to extremely loud assemblies!

If you work in a school, or know of one in the London area (although I do travel too) and you’d like me to come along and share my silly chocolatey story, please get in touch with Authors Aloud – the lovely people who help me arrange visits.

I’d love to visit your school.


Chocopocalypse Apocalypse Update

The problems regarding getting copies of The Great Chocoplot that so many have been having – and which have been causing LOTS of problems for my events – are about to be over!

The lovely people at Chicken House Books are printing a whole load more and they will be (apparently) available from Tuesday next week (16th October).

I am incredibly sorry to anyone who has been trying to get their hands on one – especially to schools keen to use them in topic work. It has been a very frustrating time and completely out of my hands, but I am grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding.

I have my fingers firmly crossed that everything will be back to normal very soon!!


Chocopocalypse Apocalypse Now

Chocopocalypse, Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, chocolate

I’ve been hearing that some schools have been having difficulties getting copies of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ in advance of the start of the new academic year. My lovely publishers at Chicken House are aware of the problem from some distributors (Amazon are showing a wait of months!!) and we will try and sort this out.

There are plenty of ways to get copies, so I’d be grateful if you have any difficulties to try other routes. Obviously, there are libraries and your local bookshops, but there are plenty available at Waterstones.com. You could even be adventurous and get the American version – which is pretty much the same, they’ve just changed the names of some of the bars of chocolate! And the kindle version is easily available.

I’m sorry to anyone who is having difficulties and appreciate your patience!


Crazy Days!

It’s been a mad few weeks, for all the best reasons.

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Hexham, Waterstones, ChocopocalypseI’ve been book signing in a number of Waterstones. Yeah – like a proper grown-up author with a chair, table and everything! Getting to scribble in a book that you’ve written, for someone who is going to read it, is crazy wonderful! And quite nerve-wracking. I’m always worried no one is going to turn up. Luckily, quite a few did, and they were all lovely. I’m still doing more to come, so please keep checking my ‘Events’ page.

Also, I was involved in a mad cap scheme called the ‘Great North Author Tour’, alongside fellow writers Dan Smith, Em Lynas, Chloe Daykin and the incredible (soon to become legendary) Richard from Drake’s Bookshop. We were celebrating the start of Independent Book Shop Week by visiting six independent book shops scattered around our region (see earlier post for venues). We received such a warm welcome in all the shops – although I suspect that most of the customers didn’t have a clue who we were! It was so much fun and I’m sure this is an event that will get bigger and bigger.

Forum Books, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, ChocopocalypseIt was a thrill to be invited along to the North East Book Awards – even though I wasn’t nominated (but I’m not bitter!). It was exciting, but terrifying, to be sharing a stage with a host of amazing authors like Ross Welford (nominated for ‘The 1000 Year Old Boy’ and who did some magic!), Mitch Johnson (nominated for ‘Kick’ and speaking intensely about child labour in Indonesia) and my fellow ‘Tour’ authors Chloe Daykin and Dan Smith. We listened to the passionate readers on why they had enjoyed reading the fantastic shortlist. Huge congratulations to Helena Duggan (who unfortunately couldn’t be there) for winning the award with ‘A Place Called Perfect’. It was a wonderful evening.

North East Book Awards, Chris Callaghan, The Great Chocoplot, The Chocopocalypse

There’s also been my regular school visits too. It’s been hectic, but so much fun.

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse, Waterstones    The Great North Author Tour, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse

And there’s lots more coming. So please stayed tuned …


The Great North Author Tour – Sat 16th June

I’m delighted to be part of the first ever ‘Great North Author Tour’ on Saturday 16th June.

It’s been organised by the fantastic and award winning Drake’s Bookshop and I’ll be touring independent bookshops alongside fellow writers Dan Smith, Chloe Daykin and Em Lynas.

Great North Author Tour, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan

It’s part of Independent Bookshop Week and we’ll be calling at:

09:30 – 10:00 Forum Books, Corbridge

11:15 – 11:45 Drake’s Bookshop, Stockton

12:15 – 12:45 The Book Corner, Saltburn

13:30 – 14:00 Guisborough Bookshop, Guisborough

14:45 – 15:15 The White Book Cafe, Thirsk

15:45 – 16:15 The Little Ripon Bookshop, Ripon

Independent bookshops are huge supporters of all authors (not just the celebrities or heavily promoted ones!). They are also an important part of our book community, offering readers a knowledgable and enthusiastic service. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. It would be brilliant to see lots of friendly faces along the way, but you can keep up to date with the tour on the day with

#greatnorthauthortour

It should be a lot of fun!!


Mini Chocoplot ‘Book Signing Tour’!

Can I call it a Book Signing Tour if I’m visiting a few places soon to sign some books? Yes?! OK, I will. I’m thrilled to be on the road on a new ‘Book Signing Tour’ over the next few weeks. I’ll be popping into a few Waterstones and visiting the countryside to take part in my first ever County Show. I hope those country folk will be kind to this city boy! Really thrilled and grateful to have been invited along to the following:

 

 

Sat 26th May 2018 – Waterstones Darlington – I’ll be book signing between 11am – 2pm

Bank Holiday Monday 28th May 2018 – Northumberland County Show – Schedule to be confirmed, but I’ll be there somewhere!

Sat 2nd June 2018 – Waterstones Sunderland – I’ll be around from 11am until 2pm

Sat 23rd June – Waterstones Hexham – Times to be confirmed, but possibly 11am – 2pm like the rest!

 

It would be great to see some friendly and enthusiastic readers waving copies of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ at me. So please come along and say ‘hello’!

 

 


Lovely Company

I try not to make a habit of checking my Amazon ranking and ratings because it can be an easy way to spoil a perfectly good day! But I do pop in now and then (and maybe more than I should – I envy those cool authors who say they don’t check, but wonder if I believe them!!), and sometimes I get a nice surprise.

Lucky, the last time I checked, this is what I found! My chocolatey book snuggling up next to Charlie and Mr Wonka and looking like best friends (am I looking too much into this?).

The Great Chocoplot, Chocopocalypse, Schokopokalypse, Chris Callaghan, Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka

I know that it doesn’t take much for Amazon’s sub division lists to fluctuate, but a sight like this seemed like a great ‘screen-shot moment’ before it disappeared. I try not to take rankings and rating too seriously, but they can sometimes put a little spring in an author’s step.

If you have read a book that you’ve enjoyed, it’s a great idea to leave a comment on Amazon (or other platforms like goodreads) to let the author know. It also helps that author get more notice as Amazon will promote the books that get reviews, which is a great help to all of us struggling writers. Consider it a polite ‘thank you’, and it’s something the author will be very, very pleased with (so long as it’s positive, obviously!). You don’t even need to have bought the book on Amazon to leave a review there – you could have borrowed it from a library or a friend.

Thank you to everyone that has already left a review and I’ll keep checking back and crossing my fingers!

 


Very First Guest Writer

I’m delighted to have my long-standing Twitter friend and fellow writer, Louise Nettleton, as my very first guest on my website. Louise is a book fanatic and dedicated writer, who runs a fabulously booky blog called Book Murmuration, so please check it out. (You can also find Louise on Twitter here!)

Happy Easter

How to survive Easter in the event of a Chocopocalypse

By Louise Nettleton – bookmurmuration.wordpress.com

Easter is approaching, and one thing is high on everybody’s thoughts. Chocolate. The supermarket shelves are stacked with chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies and fantabulous chocolate sculptures. Wheel your trolley past that aisle and you will find crème eggs at the till. There’s no escape. Open  your Easter egg and it is likely you will find even more chocolatey-goodness inside. There’s no escaping it! For many people Easter is one massive sugar hit.

What if the Chocopocalypse hits this weekend? Is it even possible to have Easter without chocolate?

Don’t hit the panic button. Take inspiration from around the world to find your new favourite Easter traditions. Whether you take the Chocopocalypse seriously or you’re just looking for some variety, there are many wonderful ways to celebrate Easter.

 

Make a giant omelette:

The world has already run out of chocolate. It might as well run out of eggs! Every year the people of Bessiéres in Southern France prepare an omelette big enough for 10,000 people to eat. According to Lonely Planet, that’s 15,000 eggs and a whole lot of duck fat in the pan.

Legend says Napoleon passed through the town and enjoyed an omelette so much that he ordered a second one big enough for his entire army. The omelette has been made every Easter Monday since 1973 in celebration of this story.

Imagine how big the wooden spoons must be.

 

Dress as a raggedy-witch:

In Sweden Easter is largely a secular (non-religious) holiday. On Maundy Thursday children dress up as witches. They paint their cheeks red, wear headscarves and, carrying a copper kettle, visit their neighbours hoping for sweet offerings.

 

Oooooo, a kite!Fly a kite:

Swap bright wrappers for bright ribbons. In Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean kite-flying is an Easter tradition for all the family.

Children today are as likely to fly an expensive kite. Traditionally kites were made by their fliers, and one of the most popular kites was a Caddy Old Punch. This kite was made from paper, sticks and scraps of material. Instructions exist online if you are a budding kite-maker.

Why not make a day of it? Families in Guyana might pack a picnic and make a day of the celebrations. Get outside and let your imaginations soar.

 

Pace eggs:

Egg RollingWho needs a chocolate egg? Pace eggs originate from Lancashire in the UK. Take a chicken’s egg and carefully boil it in onion skin. This will give the egg-shell a marbled pattern. (To make it more colourful, boil it in beetroot. The possibilities are endless!)

Pace eggs might be given as a gift. The museum at Dove Cottage in the Lake District has beautiful examples of pace eggs given to the children of the poet William Wordsworth in the 1800s. If the idea of treasuring a hard-boiled egg doesn’t excite you, why not have an egg-rolling contest? Roll your eggs down from the top of a hill. Whoever’s egg goes furthest is the winner. Egg-rolling still takes place in some parts of the UK.

 

Throw pottery out of the window:

Corfu. A beautiful Greek Island. On Easter Saturday at 11am, the silence is broken by the sound of shattering pots and cheers. Whether this tradition is a symbolic rejection of Judas or whether it dates from an historical Venetian tradition, it is a great opportunity to break stuff!

Please note:

  • People choose pots especially for the event. They don’t borrow their family’s favourite flowerpot.
  • This tradition is well-known, so it is organised to ensure people’s safety. People walking past your window may not expect a pot to land on their head.
  • If this is still your life’s ambition, wait until you can visit Corfu over Easter.

 

Read a good book:

Love a good mystery? In Norway reading detective fiction has become an Easter tradition. Head to your log cabin, light a wood fire and settle down with a good crime novel.

Could there possibly be a bigger mystery than the total disappearance of chocolate? The Seven Show says the Chocopocalypse is coming, but the more our hero Jelly investigates, the more certain she becomes that there is a great chocoplot to unwrap. Can she piece it together before chocolate disappears for good? Embrace this tradition by starting with The Great Chocoplot.

Huge thanks, Louise, for this wonderful Easter post. You didn’t have to mention my book, but I’m glad you did! Egg rolling sounds like a lot of fun, but so does throwing stuff out of windows!! Reading a good book sounds even better!

Happy Easter


Easter Treat in Durham

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse, Waterstones, Durham

It was a great Easter treat to be invited back to Waterstones Durham for a chocolatey signing session. Durham is a beautiful place and the people are always the friendliest around. As it was Easter, I gave away a bar of Dairy Milk with every copy of Chocoplot. I like to think that this was more about my generosity than a blatant attempt to bribe customers! But it worked and we completely sold out!!

Thanks to everyone who came along, it’s always wonderful to meet readers and have a quick chocolate chat. I’m very grateful to the Waterstones staff, especially bookselling superstar Fiona Sharp, for being such massive Chocoplot supporters.

Happy Easter to you all.


Awesomest Day

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Awesomest Book AwardIt was with mixed feeling that I attended this year’s Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book Award ceremony. I was excited to continue to celebrate being the current holder of that wonderful title, but a little sad that I would move from ‘current’ to ‘former’. Or is this me just being greedy?

It was a fantastic event, attended by many schools in the area and the award scheme is driven by the young readers themselves. There was a quiz, which was won for the second year by Westacre Middle School (and which I was rubbish at!) and it was a pleasure to listen to a selection of readers talking about all the shortlisted books and why they had enjoyed reading them. It is a delight to see the enthusiasm that so many young people have for books in the Worcestershire area.

I also got to prance about and talk about my book and have some chocolatey fun – and I made the most of being the ‘current’ award winner as I watched the minutes of my reign (I can call it a ‘reign’ can’t I?) tick away.

Matt Stanton, Funny Kid for PresidentThe winner (by a huge majority) was announced to massive applause. Congratulations to Matt Stanton and his book ‘Funny Kid for President’. I’m delighted that another funny book has been chosen by Worcestershire’s awesomest readers. Matt follows in the footsteps of Rachel Hamilton, David Walliams (whoever he is?) and me, to be the Awesomest Book Award winner.

It was a wonderful day. Thank you to all the amazing library staff who organise the whole award scheme, to the teaching staff who encourage it in schools and especially to all the brilliant readers.

It is them who are the awesomest!

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Worcestershire's Awesomest Book Awards