Tag Archives: Joseph Delaney

The Ghost Prison

It’s a really good idea to launch a book in the place that first inspired its author to write the story. That’s what happened yesterday at Lancaster Castle, for Joseph Delaney’s new book The Ghost Prison.

Joseph Delaney, The Ghost Prison

Unfortunately I wasn’t there. (That’s because I am now here, travelling at great speed – it’s those Pendolinos – past that very castle, just to be on the safe side. I’m going to Bloody Scotland, and to chase ghosts round a dark old castle the night before just got too much in the end…)

Besides, there is a witch in this book. And not one of your friendly neighbourhood ones.

The Ghost Prison is a great little story, although possibly best enjoyed in full daylight. I first read it as part of the Andersen anthology Haunted almost two years ago. It features Billy, who is a young orphan and who has just started working as a prison guard at the castle. Then someone requests him for night duty…

I’ll say no more.

I’ve not heard back from the launch. I hope it went not only well, but that everyone who was there emerged safe and sound at the end. As I said, it’s good to get into the spirit of things, but you could take it too far.

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Neither present nor correct

Having planned for almost a year to attend the third Scarefest in Crosby, I ended up not going at all, so missed seeing and hearing the charming Barry Hutchison, Curtis Jobling, David Gatward, Jon Mayhew, Joseph Delaney, Philip Caveney, Ruth Symes and Tommy Donbavand. Formby Books had organised a whole Saturday of horrible things for the young and innocent, and I’m so sorry not have been able to drag myself there.

I know! I’ll steal a photo off facebook! I’m sure facebook was there.

Philip Caveney, David Gatward, Tommy Donbavand, Barry Hutchison and Jon Mayhew

Hmm, that’s not all of them. Perhaps a few perished early? Oh well. I know the feeling.

There is a certain something about late September and early October. Book festivals. You couldn’t go to them all even if you wanted to. Actually, maybe you could, if you’re happy with a day here and a day there. I’m so greedy that I expect to ‘go for a while.’

What I am currently not doing is roaming around Cheltenham. But oh how I wish I were. They have some interesting people on offer this year. Even J K Rowling is there. And whatever you say, she is a writer first. Many of the other tempting names are celebrities first. Actors who have written a book. Television presenters. Politicians. But is is tempting. Benedict Cumberbatch. As I said, tempting.

I have missed Bath, and Wigtown, and I have a feeling I am in the midst of missing Bouchercon in Cleveland. Luckily Peter Rozovsky is doing his duty and posting daily, by the looks of it. Dead Guy has someone there, as well. Facebook (there it goes again…) has offered up countless photos of people posing with their favourite crime writer. One day I will do that too. If I was the type to pose with authors, which I’m not, unless it’s done under duress. Stephen Booth is doing an event called Murder in the Great Outdoors, and that just sounds so frightfully healthy, don’t you think?

And so is, to some extent, the non-attendance at countless festivals. Rest. Sleep…

Tony Higginson, David Gatward, Barry Hutchison, Tommy Donbavand, Jon Mayhew, Philip Caveney and Joseph Delaney at Scarefest 3 - photo by Sean Steele

PS It was only poor Curtis who didn’t make it through the evening. In fact, he didn’t make it at all. And Ruth Symes who had an early pumpkin arrangement.

Bookwitch bites #87

As you might have noticed, I have found Terry Pratchett’s horses. Go back to Thursday’s blog where the lovely horses, and the carriage, have been added. Oh, go on, I’ll put the horses here too.

Dodger's horses

While I’m feeling a bit Pratchetty, I’ll post this link to an interview Terry did in the spring, on the Late Late Show. Me being me, I thought of the American Late Show. Was very relieved to find it was an Irish namesake, because the quality of the interview was rather better for it.

My journey to Soho on Wednesday wasn’t quite in the style of Sir Terry’s, but it was OK. You know how I am a witch? I looked at the London train before mine (Is it only in the UK you worry so much about your connecting train being late, that you catch the one before?) and thought to myself I had never seen the 11-coach Pendolino. (Is this too geeky?) So, obviously my train when it arrived turned out to be an 11-coach Pendolino.

That means that coaches E and G no longer join together, but have coaches F and U between them. (Fascinating, isn’t it?) I sat in E. In case anyone is interested.

So that’s where I ended up assisting in the translating of a Danish press release about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and you-know-what. At the time I thought ‘oh, it will be some sort of homework,’ until I recalled the caller no longer is in a place where homework is handed out.

I’m going to have to find some sort of Danish-English dictionary if this is going to go on. (It has, already. Gone on.) I have done deeds, also in Danish. And I don’t even ‘get’ them in Swedish.

The travelling has been paused. I need a rest. Although, I am considering ScareFest 3 on Saturday 6th of October, in Crosby Civic Hall. At least if my horse and carriage will get me there. If it does, I will be entertained by Philip Caveney, Curtis Jobling, Jon Mayhew, Tommy Donbavand, Joseph Delaney, Barry Hutchison and David Gatward (who I don’t know at all).

Apparently it’s Halloween come early. You need to catch the little ones before half term.

Haunted

Would you rather sleep well? If so, don’t do what I did. I read a short story every evening before going to bed. I thought it’d be a good way of enjoying this new anthology – Haunted – for Halloween. How wrong I was.

Haunted

The stories aren’t bad. Not at all. Most of them do exactly what they are meant to do. Scare you, and make you think of ghosts, and possibly even make your pulse go a wee bit faster.

Who’d have thought there could be so many ghosts? There are bad ones and small ones and sweet ones (I think so, anyway) and funny ones and ones you wouldn’t want to meet in your friendly neighbourhood graveyard. Even in daylight.

Some stories end well (ish). Others don’t.

As I might have mentioned when Derek Landy guest blogged here the other day, his story is very funny. Doesn’t mean people don’t die.

And if you look in the mirror, is there someone there? Apart from your good self, I mean. Also, whatever possesses people – children – to go out late at night to some dark and haunted place? On their own. It’s just asking for trouble.

I have to take issue with Matt Haig over giftshops. At first I thought he’s a really enlightened man. Then I realised he’d got it all wrong. He could have done the umbrellas even by doing the giftshop the other way round.

It’s not just dark dungeons that are haunted. Sunny beaches aren’t necessarily any better. Sunnier, but not safer. And what are you most scared of; computers or dogs?

Anyway, don’t let me put you off. Joseph Delaney, Susan Cooper, Mal Peet, Jamila Gavin, Eleanor Updale, Derek Landy, Robin Jarvis, Sam Llewellyn, Matt Haig, Philip Reeve and Berlie Doherty have come up with some good stories. Best enjoyed with your elevenses, than with your bedtime snack, though.

The Sefton ScareFest 2

Skeleton 2

Barry Hutchison and I are doomed. At least photo wise. I press. He blurs. Happily he’s not as doomed as some. Whether this is a former performer or an ex-member of the audience, I’m not sure. But almost anything can happen at ScareFests.

My train travel was a wee bit doomed yesterday. But I suppose there has to be a first time for waiting for a train on the opposite platform. (I blame Liverpool South Parkway. I have rarely seen a more confusing station. Apart from Edgware Road, of course.)

Tommy Donbavand, Joseph Delaney, Barry Hutchison, Jon Mayhew and Curtis Jobling behind the fire at Sefton ScareFest

Which will be why when I arrived at Crosby Civic Hall, Tony of Formby Books had taken his performing authors and gone to the pub. This much was clear from what the locked-in technician could tell me. ‘I have no keys. They have gone to the pub.’ Thanks to my Resident IT Consultant Tony’s mobile number was found and the scary authors were found and I was found and so on.

Curtis Jobling, Sefton ScareFest

Facebook is such an introducer of perfect strangers, that I almost didn’t say hello properly to Tommy Donbavand. We’ve shaken hands now, so must know each other. And Curtis Jobling I didn’t know at all. He seemed like a perfectly nice looking man until he did this.

Philip Caveney, Sefton ScareFest

As I mentioned earlier, we were fed. Some clowning around was done for the benefit of the photographers. The authors forced chocolate cake down and worried about laptop support for their performances. I admired Philip Caveney’s red Converses. (This thing with grown men wearing cool red shoes has to stop!)

Then it was time to descend to the level of the waiting throngs, where Philip was first to be thrown to the wolves. He survived by reading from his new book The Eye of the Serpent, and if I never hear about crawling beetles in ancient Egyptian tombs again it will be too soon.

Philip Caveney, Sefton ScareFest

Second out was Tommy who cheated by wrapping a member of the audience in toilet paper, assisted by Barry, and terrorising a perfectly good egg. Sorry, this was a nice girl, who was made to act the part of the dragon’s egg. But we had fun. Even the pumpkin had fun. It looked far too happy for a ScareFest.

Tommy Donbavand with dragon and others at Sefton ScareFest

Curtis Jobling, Sefton ScareFest

Scarecrow by Curtis Jobling

Last before the interval was Curtis, who was cooked to a crisp by then, having been made to sit more or less right inside the flames on the right of the stage. He’s a jack of all trades who can write books but also draw pretty pictures and does animation. Cool. (Well, he was hot, but you know…) It’s a neat party trick that; being able to draw scarecrows with parsnip noses, not to mention Were-Bob the Were-Builder. Who was raffled for charity. (I’d have liked him. I suppose if I’d bought a ticket I would have stood a small chance.)

Tommy Donbavand, Sefton ScareFest

Joseph Delaney, Sefton ScareFest

In the interval sweets were eaten and books were bought and signed. And people generally thronged. They could only be tempted back by the promise of having won Were-Bob and other goodies. There were prizes for best costume, and that was a hard choice, so it was lucky someone like Tommy got to pick the little cat.

Sefton ScareFest

Joseph Delaney, Sefton ScareFest

Joseph Delaney set a cracking pace after his ‘rest’, talking about book covers and what he thinks of them. He’s got a lot of book covers, and some of the more foreign ones don’t get anywhere near Preston or Lancaster in looks. Oh well.

Next was Jon Mayhew, who told us what we should ask for when the angels and the devil come calling. And then he read us the prologue to his new book, The Bonehill Curse. (It’s not out yet.) It won’t have a prologue, which will be why Jon read it and then gave it away. Authors!

Jon Mayhew, Sefton ScareFest

Last out was Barry who is still scared of squirrels. (So he should be…) There was also the small matter of scary milk cartons and cream eggs. Being a boy at heart, Barry managed to mention both number ones and number twos in his little act. It involved the kitchen sink (ew) and imaginary friends, possibly by the name of Derek. With or without knives. If the book trade runs dry he should have a go at stand-up.

Barry Hutchison, Sefton ScareFest

He just about finished on time. The reason I go on about time is that Tony thought it’d be a good thing for me not to disappear on an early pumpkin as I had planned to, but to stay and let Jon drive me (along with Philip and Curtis) to a better railway station to catch a later train.

I didn’t think it’d be possible. Philip was extricated from the proceedings. Then Curtis. No, he had more doodles to do in books. And a suitcase to pack. I found Jon and decided to hold on to him. But the man has little fans. He signed. And doodled. More books.

Now Philip had started signing. And Curtis, asked by Tony, who soon realised the error of his ways. So stop again. Then more fans for Curtis. Suitcase packed. Same fan with booklet for Jon. At this point Philip gave up all hope of ever seeing Stockport again.

Skeleton 1

It blurs. But eventually we were all squeezed into two-door car. (Ow.) Curtis sat on the windscreen liquid bottle. Nice drive into Liverpool, with lots of book talk. (And yes, I know one shouldn’t get into cars with men one has met on facebook.)

Liverpool has been so re-arranged that to get to the station you find yourself up close to the Catholic Cathedral, where you have no business being when catching trains. And then Jon missed the turning, so we went round again, not going down the one way street the wrong way as suggested by Curtis.

We decanted ourselves from small car. Hands were shaken. Witches were hugged. Philip and I headed into station despite it being five minutes too late by then. I insisted on looking at the departure board anyway, because the Resident IT Consultant has brought me up to do things like that.

Happy pumpkin

Did we catch the train?

Yes, we did. It was late. And I have not done such running for years, is all I can say. Philip ran faster, if only to make sure he didn’t have to spend an extra hour in the pub with a witch.

Curtis? Don’t know what happened to him. He wasn’t going where we went. You win some, you lose some.

Halloween – The prologue

Yes, I think it’s a bit early too. But Tony of Formby Books believes in Halloween starting early. So it did. He had that Barry Hutchison down from the Scottish Highlands, and then he looked more locally for the rest. Tony came up with Philip Caveney, Joseph Delaney, Tommy Donbavand, Curtis Jobling and Jon Mayhew.

Sefton Scarefest skull

It was their job to scare the children of Sefton, but in order to reign in their worst behaviour he fed them first. He fed me too, which was nice of him. And he bought me a drink in the pub across the road, where they had all gone to hide. Next time I will make sure I have all the mobile phone numbers I need, as well.

And this my dear readers, is as much as you get in the prologue. The whatever-logue will follow on another happy two-post day.

Always share your banana

If you don’t, you can’t be sure of where literary history will lead. In this case it always comes back to Preston and Lancashire.

Lancashire Book of the Year 2011

As you well know, Keren David won the Lancashire Book of the Year award, and yesterday we travelled to Preston to see her receive her prize and to hear her speech. It was a good one, and it features UMIST and non-iron fabric for the Royal family and several generations’ worth of romance in her family. And the banana.

Keren David

With space at a premium I can’t tell you the whole story, but rest assured that coincidence is not dead and it really is a small world. And had Keren’s mother not been the type to share bananas, we might not have had When I Was Joe to read and enjoy and to reward with huge cheques (physical size, mostly) and art.

Chris Higgins

Joseph Delaney

This was a good year, with nine out of ten shortlistees  present; C J Skuse, Chris Higgins, Hilary Freeman, Jane Eagland, Jim Carrington, Joseph Delaney, Keris Stainton, Sam Mills and Keren. And as ever, Adèle Geras, overseeing the young members of the jury. Unfortunately, I have only read Keren’s and Keris’ books. Fortunately, those excellent child readers have read every single book on the longlist, and some of them have read and re-read their favourites on the shortlist several times.

Hilary Freeman

Jim Carrington

When the witch and her photographer arrived, Adèle was busy drinking coffee but took us round to meet everyone. To my horror some people had heard of me, which makes you wonder what they had heard. It was lovely to meet super-publicist Nicky for the first time, and now she will be not simply a name at the end of my email line.

County Councillor Geoff Roper

The place was heaving. The place being the plush home of Preston’s councillors. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel important, and those men wandering round with fancy necklaces add to the style. Pleased to see the efficient Sue and Elaine of the SilverDell Bookshop providing books for sale, at this oldest of book awards.

Jake Hope

More than one speaker reminisced about 1987, when the award started, and whereas I can remember much further back than that, I suppose it was quite long ago. Especially if you weren’t born. Super-librarian Jake had dressed to impress, and he certainly did. It’s not just a jacket; it’s a whole suit. Note his ‘cheeky’ 25!

Jane Eagland

C J Skuse

As always, the children spoke about everything to do with the award and the reading, and I’m glad the boys realised that some books might be pink, but the reading of them ‘has to be done’.

Keris Stainton

The authors, too, had to speak, and they pointed out how important it is to have reviews by children, and not just by us boring adults. Awards like these can also save authors’ careers, for which we have to be grateful.

Adèle Geras

Adèle spoke, and she mentioned her predecessor Hazel Townson, who died this year, and who had supervised the readers for 21 years. And finally it was Keren’s turn, and as I’ve mentioned, she spoke of bananas. If I’d been her, I’d have died of nerves by that time, so it’s to her credit that she was both alive and completely lucid. She was pleased to hear the other shortlisted books praised so often, since that made her win even more valuable. It also seems that Keren had always wanted to marry someone from Lancashire. (No need to propose. She’s already married.)

Keren David

The cheque Keren received was beautiful, and so was the work of art by Hayley Welsh, which came in the shape of a defaced book. But it was beautifully done, and seeing as it even had a picture of me, I wholeheartedly approve.

Art by Hayley Welsh

Keren wasn’t the only one to receive prizes, with the children each getting a signed copy of When I Was Joe. And despite her dislike for attention, the hardworking librarian Jean, who is retiring was also on the receiving end of speeches and flowers and a hug from Keren. She admitted to always being bossy. Well, how else do you get something like this award to happen? So, thank you Jean for telling so many dignitaries how and when and where to sit, stand, do, or whatever. They need that kind of thing.

Jean with Keren David

It’s funny how after my last and only presence at these awards two years ago, how many friendly faces I recognised, and who recognised me back. It was like coming home. Julie was another hardworking ‘face’, so it must have been the power of the Js. Jake. Jean. Julie.

Jane Eagland

Joseph Delaney and Jim Carrington

And I talked quite a bit to author Jane (Eagland), so she was another J for the day. Also Joseph and Jim and C J. There was a signing afterwards, and even more afterwards there was that lovely lunch they do so well in Preston.

Then it was time for us to catch trains home in all directions. Luckily Preston offers through trains to my back garden, so there was no need for any broomsticks at all.

Sam Mills

Of all the admirable books yesterday, the one that was praised the most, besides When I Was Joe, was Blackout by Sam Mills. I might have to try and read it.

Shortlist