About me

This really wasn’t my idea, you know. But now that I’m doing it, I find it’s a lot of fun. Many thanks to Meg Rosoff for starting me on my blogging path, and also to some of my ‘firsts’ like Adèle Geras and Tim Bowler for being both lovely and supportive.

Meg wanted gossip, but there isn’t much of that here. I usually stick to my favourite subjects – authors and their books – as much as I can. Apart from children’s fiction I like crime, but only in books. And when I feel the urge, I will blog about other things and pretend it’s all very literary.

I like hearing from people, and I do appreciate offers of books to review. But somehow I find I can only fit in about a hundred every year, and even very good books get put to one side. That’s why I simply can’t spend time ‘mentioning’ or publicising books just because someone writes to me and asks. I’m fond of the occasional sleep and don’t mind having a few minutes every day to talk to my family.

But then, some of the best books I’ve read have come to me in unconventional ways, so it’s always worth letting me know about books. And people who can spell have a higher success rate.

As you can tell from this, I’m a grumpy old thing, so we’ll probably get on famously.

Here is a link to my profile on Normblog which may or may not provide more clues to who I am.

And here is a link to the blogs I wrote for the Guardian.

PS From September 2008 I have another blog, which is not about books.

PPS (Always like writing that!) In November 2009 I branched out and created a Swedish Bookwitch too. You just can’t keep a good witch down, and I had several spare minutes a day that needed filling.

67 responses to “About me

  1. Big welcome to the Blogosphere ,Bookwitch! You neglect to say that you are an EXCELLENT READER….not very many people are!

  2. Well I’m glad the Bookwitch has finally got her act together and started up this terrific blog. Never met such a fanatical children’s book reader, and all I ask is for lots of gossip and scurrilous rumour to come. As I don’t get a chance to read 1/10th of the books coming out at the moment, I look forward to hearing what the witch has to say. She’s also pychic, and always knows who’s going to win book prizes, and is only occasionally wrong!

  3. Crime only in books? I think not. I’ve seen the Bookwitch many a time steal a cup of tea because as she was on the verge of paying, she spotted an author, and simply disappeared…

  4. There’s obviously a secret initiation rite here, but I’m going to assume that even strangers and aliens and ghostwriters are also welcome.

  5. Yes, Lee, you’re welcome. Nothing secret here, just nice people who make comments. The stranger the better. I seem to recognise your name from somewhere. Looked you up and will try to read a bit of that book of yours, except I hate reading a lot on screen.

  6. Hi Bookwitch, thanks for the welcome. I only meant that everyone seems to know everyone else, but nothing nasty implied! I came over from Dina’s blog.

    If you want to give my book a try, you can always download the PDF file and then print out a small bit.

  7. I also came over from Dina’s. Will keep an eye.

  8. Hi Bookwitch,

    Thanks for coming over to the site. I’ve added you to my daily list and will visit regularly as it’s always good to find another children’s lit. fanatic.

  9. Welcome Ann. I got confused and thought you were me for a moment. With a bit of luck none of us will ever have time to read anything but blogs…

  10. Kollar din blogg då och då. Bara så du vet.Bra jobbat!

  11. Hi Bookwitch,
    I found your site through Scattered Authors (or the alternative SAS). You ARE a writer – you write beautifully.
    Try my website sometime. There’ll soon be three more books to be added (for fairly young readers), but please check out my older stuff, mostly with Walker… much of it now out of print but still obtainable.
    Enid X

  12. Bookwitch is great! Keep it up

  13. At long last I’ve accessed your blog!!! Very interesting, I like the idea of all these blogs, looks like a good way to communicate and keep in touch!! Hope you’ve had a good Christmas and a happy new year!!!
    Cant wait to read more.

  14. Just found your blog through Bridge to the Stars, and added it to my Favourites at once.

  15. Hi Bookwitch,

    You can see our logo on your home page banner image!

    You seem to be very well connected in Children’s book publishing already, but I was wondering if you’d like one more connection?

    I’d be pleasedto send you some of our advance reader copies to review.

    There is a new Catherine Forde I’d like your reaction to.

    If you are interested please drop me an email and I’ll send you one.

    Best wishes,

    Alistair

  16. My friend the fantastic children’s writer Malachy Doyle alerted me to your column on Nick Green’s Cat Kin. I am a writer with a similar fate – the author of Hybrids – Winner of the HarperCollins-Saga Magazine 2006 Childrens Novelist competition.

    In November HarperCollins declined to publish a follow-up as their numbercrunchers didn’t think Book One had sold enough copies. V.
    disappointing. I too was distinctly underwhelmed with the launch publicity compared to what was promised. I have two further Hybrids books planned which I still hope will see the light of day.

    It too got great revews: The Times “A stunningly clever novel. Hybrids will get boys (and girls) talking and thinking about a brave new world without technological stimuli.”

    James Lovegrove, Financial Times: “There is vigour and validity in Hybrids… a commendable first novel.”

    Orange-prize winning author Helen Dunmore: “The writing is sharp, the dialogue good, and the action pacey and page-turning. But there’s a real depth to this story, too. Like all good fiction it makes the reader see the world in a different light.”

    and many more.

    Also -

    • Hybrids has been shortlisted for the Sefton Super Reads award in the Sefton borough of Merseyside.
    • Hybrids is being adapted for the stage by The Comedy Trust, Liverpool
    • In Lewisham school librarians and their students shortlisted Hybrids for the second annual Lewisham Book Award.
    • Hybrids is currently being adapted for comics by Brazilian artist Felipe Cunha.

    I did have an agent. But she was so awful I let her go. I am now without an agent or publisher – but with several very exciting book proposals I am trying to pitch to publishers, and trying to find a new agent.

    I agree with a lot of the comments on your blog. If you have any advice on which publishers or agents I might approach, or if you want to feature my story on your blog, that would be much appreciated.

  17. Thanks David, for your long comment. I’m sorry to hear about your predicament, and it seems this is not unusual, which is a shame.

    My understanding is that it’s no longer worth contacting publishers direct, so you have to charm an agent. I’m afraid I don’t know a lot of them, and I’m puzzled as to how some can be so useless. If they get paid a percentage, it seems strange not to work for your money.

  18. Hello! I just discovered your blog when doing search for Siobhan Dowd whose London Eye Mystery I just requested from library.

    My favorite reading tends to be catagorized as “for children”–but I think are much more interesting than a lot of books for adults!

    I’m in the USA, so much of what is mentioned on this blog is unavailable to me :-( — especially as I don’t have access to a large library, being stuck out in a literal desert.

    My screen name was inspired in part by my feeling marooned marooned on a desert island away from the libraries and bookstores in Los Angeles where I used to live (I had cards at 14 library districts in LA!)

    Favorite quote from Edward Eager’s very amusing book HALF MAGIC after character gets only half of wish to go to Crusoe’s desert island–but ends up in the Sahara instead–”Desert, yes; island, no.”

    My own blog doesn’t have much to do with kids books (so far) and I haven’t had time or energy to post in a while, but it still might interest the curious.

    Will try to respond to your query on kids books on handicapts.

  19. Oops! Actually I had cards from eight (8) different library systems when I lived in Los Angeles–but that included many individual branch libraries (maybe my brain thought “More than 7 equals 14 somehow… ;-)
    LA County is huge tho–bigger than some small states in the USA!

  20. Nice to meet you, bookworm.

    No matter how many library cards you have, I’m sure you’ll like The London Eye Mystery.

  21. Dear Bookwitch,

    What an inspiring site! I spent hours yesterday reading all your great author interviews. I’m an aspiring children’s writer who has just found an agent and it’s lovely to look through your window on the literary world.

  22. Welcome, Isobel. Hope your writing goes well, and maybe I can blog about your best-selling book one day.

  23. What a fab blog! Good to see you have a Doctor Who fan in the family and that you’re not ashamed to mention it, although I have a feeling he’s probably a good few years younger than I am. We’re known as Whovians. We’re not all weird though. Some of us write children’s books about sensible things such as desensitising your dog to vets with beards (Puppy Love, pub Macmillan, Jan 08, two more books to follow – Pup Idol and Puppy Power). Talking of beards and Doctor Who, I notice you are an Ardagh fan. Who wouldn’t be with a beard like that? He also follows the Doctor on his travels. Has beard, will travel. If you like Mr Ardagh’s beard, you’ll love my bag o’ beards which the afore-mentioned hirsuite beauty kindly bought me to liven up a dull afternoon. They come in useful when reading from the appropriate passages in Puppy Love…

  24. I’m afraid he is a she. But I’m not afraid to admit to the problem…

    Nice to meet you.

  25. Don’t be afraid! That is even more fabulous news, indeed something to celebrate. I raise my glass to a fellow female Whovian. Am counting down to my next visit to the Library… BTW, I wonder if anyone else thought last week had undertones of The Time Traveler’s Wife lurking in the plot?

  26. I certainly thought so AW (your remark about time traveler’s wife), and I wasn’t certain whether it was deliberate or not. I suppose that that kind of thing is pretty much an established rule/plot device in ‘time travel’ so it would be bound to come up. After all, the Children in Need special was the modern Dr performing a task he’d taught himself…

  27. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog–and column–after someone, somewhere in my online life linked to your column about children’s self-selecting age-appropriate books. (I am very late on a deadline for an article for parents about choosing books for their children, which is I imagine how I came across your blog.)

    I’m an avid Guardian Books reader (and a children’s and YA lit blogger), so I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to come across you! I’ve just spent a happy hour reading back over recent entries (my, you’re assiduous!) which I am glad to say I can justify as work.

    I’ll look forward to reading you regularly!

  28. So do I. You reading me regularly, I mean.

  29. Hi, Bookwitch
    I’ve found your blog ‘via your Cat Entry’, and I love it!
    I don’t write for children but I really enjoy reading your blog and interviews.

  30. Thank you. Cats are definitely popular around here. I have a feeling most of my customers/fans/readers are adults, so I’m sure you will fit in nicely.

  31. I forgot to ask – What is your first language?
    (‘Feline curiosity’ – so to meow) :o)

  32. I know the answer! – I’ve just finishws reading all the previous entries. Did I tell you that I love your blog?
    ;o)

  33. Yep. You’re allowed to say it often, though.

    Mjau.

  34. Hi there – If you send me your address (to 123oleary AT gmail DOT com) then I will be happy to send you some postcards.
    S.

  35. What a brill blogster you are. Keep up the good work.
    Steve

  36. Thank you, Steve. Normally I’d be happy to agree with you (I believe in modesty!), but recently I feel it’s all pretty rubbish. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

  37. Mary Cavanagh

    Dear Ann

    I have put in touch with you by Karen Cornflower and Elaine Random. I am writing a book called ‘A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide. Publicity, Marketing and The Book Industry’. Both Karen and Elaine have written articles for me on ‘why I am a bookblogger and the pleasure I get out of it’. My deadline is end of October for a publication date in February. I wondered if you would have time to write me a similar piece from a children’s blogger viewpoint? If not, can I have your permission to mention the blog on the chapter devoted to BookBloggers?

    With very best wishes

    Mary Cavanagh

  38. Charlotte Berry

    Hi bookwitch!
    Vanessa from Fidra Books suggested that I get in touch with you as a source of inspiration! I am doing some research on the translation of Scandinavian children’s books into English, and she thought that you might be able to help with some ideas. I am new to the publishing world, but can read Scandinavian, which helps somewhat. Perhaps you could drop a line, if you have a moment?

    Tak paa forhand,

    Venlig hilsen,

    Charlotte

  39. Hi Ann

    I’d love to send you some info about new fantasy/sci-fi books we have coming out in Spring from Random House Children’s Books. Maybe you could drop me an email and I can tell you more?
    Thanks,
    Georgia Lawe, RHCB

  40. Dear Bookwitch

    Your blog is beautiful. Lawless, uncensored, not created with one eye on future sales, not written in the sure and certain knowledge that one second after it hits the shelves it will be deeply discounted Elsewhere, and not trying to be anything but itself. Unto itself it is being true. Or something like that.

    May the Force be with your keyboard and hexenkessel too.

    Respect, good Bookwitch, respect.

    Debi

  41. Ah, my favourite Scottish-Italian witch! How nice to see you here.

    I read your first three books about the lovely family with the frozen Granny and the babies in nappies tumbling through the internet. Red, purple and green, I believe. Then time overcame me, and I found that it’s impossible to keep up with every new book by every author I like. It’s so unfair! I see your name, and want to read more…

    I don’t hit any shelves at all, except my own when they are too full for new books. And as I get no money for anything, it’s quite nice (no it isn’t) not to worry about discounts.

    Cheap witch going cheaper…

  42. Hi Bookwitch – I’ve an update on the LOST AND FOUND animated film I wrote to you about at Christmas. The half hour film, which is based on the book by Oliver Jeffers is available on DVD from this Monday 20th April from Amazon, Borders and all good retailers… The DVD includes a ‘making of’ featurette.

  43. Hi,

    Erm, I’m a bit nervous about intruding here so please forgive me if this is rude.

    I was swept off my board while “surfing” & landed with a splosh on your site.

    Couldn’t help but notice you’re interested in children’s stories, crime & Asperger’s Syndrome. My first book, “Dead Puzzling” has just been published & guess what? It’s a children’s story. A murder mystery. And one of the three young heroes has Asperger’s! Now that’s what I call a coincidence.

    I’m donating half my royalties from “Dead Puzzling” to the National Autistic Society because when our eldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s the NAS gave him incredible support.

    I would really welcome any help or advice you can give me to help promote the book as I feel it is vitally important to raise awareness of this condition.

    Thank you so much for a great site & for reading this.

    Sue

  44. Hi. Really interesting blog. I don’t read nearly enough and I tend to blame lack of time – which to be honest is just an excuse. This blog is what blogging in general SHOULD be about – people writing about things they have a passion for in a way that they clearly enjoy.

  45. Dear Bookwitch,

    I’m Numberwitch – we must be distant cousins.

    Delighted to have bumped into you & shall visit often.

  46. Thanks for your Aspie list and fascinating interviews.

  47. I love the blog and just had to say it!

  48. Great blog Bookwitch. Very engaging. You seem like the prefect person for a nice drink and sharing stories of an ocean baloney.

  49. This is really a marvellous site. I’ve only just found it, but will dip into it, I’m sure, again and again. I’ve been writing for many years now [since my novel 'Midnight Blue' won the Smarties Award in 1991] but am fairly new to blogging. Do look me up.

  50. Thanks, Pauline! I do know your name, and have always been fascinated by someone called Fish.

  51. There’s a character called Fish in Tim Winton’s ‘Cloudstreet’. Have you read it?

  52. No. The only one I could think of was the weatherman, Michael Fish.

  53. I like your blog. Hope you managed to find gossip. I actually have quite a lot about children’s authors. Maybe I should start a blog. Hmm…

  54. hello bookwitch! i happily stumbled across your website today and spent much of my working day sneakily reading it whenever i could. i will definitely be back for more and commenting all over the place. good work :)

  55. Nice new banner! But not as nice as the banner I made for you….. ;)

  56. yellowhighwaylines

    Just stumbled across your blog thanks to Egmont/Electric Monkey tweeting your interview with Michael Grant. Enjoying what I’ve read so far and having a good dig through the rest of it! Really can’t wait for Fear. And to actually get my hands on All Fall Down.

  57. Hello Yellow..,
    So you like fear and pestilence? Just you wait for the end of Fear!

  58. Hello Bookwitch,
    I’ve nominated you for the Lovely Blog award. I know these things take ages to accept, so no worries if you don’t have time, but I wanted you to know I really like coming here.
    http://writerreaderbakerbride.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/one-lovely-blog-award/

  59. Nice piece about Eoin’s visit to Preston, BW. He’s a lovely guy too. Came over very well. First time I’ve chanced upon your blog. I shall return. But for now, here’s a link to a piece which mentions that self-same visit … http://writewyattuk.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/am-i-old-enough-to-read-this/

  60. This is a great site. Clicked through from Meg Rosoff and looking forward to having a rummage around.
    Thanks Bookwitch!

  61. Hello Bookwitch, I’ve discovered you via Helena Pielichaty’s blog. What a lovely site this is, and you’re friends with some of my favourite YA authors! I’d love you to have a look at mine if you get the chance – I blog about writing, reading, books, libraries – whatever I’m thinking about really: lucymarcovitch.wordpress.com

  62. Hello Bookwitche, I’ve been reading your posts for a short while now and enjoy them a lot. They make me feel calm and positive. Thank you!

  63. Calm and positive? I’ll have to try harder… ;)

  64. Fantastic blog. This is my first time stopping by – I just finished reading Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and searched the web for interviews with the author. Found yours first, and read through a few other posts. Thanks for an illuminating, intelligent site.

  65. Thank you, Andrew. The interview is one of my short ones. I’m sure we could have gone on forever.
    You might like Ruta’s next book, set in New Orleans.

  66. I read and reviewed Out of the Easy a few weeks ago, actually. That led me to Shades of Gray. Looking forward to seeing future releases from Sepetys.

  67. Hi Bookwitch, first time on your blog. Love what I see. I will keep an eye out for more.

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