Tag Archives: Julie Hearn

Losing hope

The monster creature was really quite cute. Sort of. Destined to plunge the world into the depths of despair, you still had to feel a little sorry for it. At least that’s what Gary does. He loves the little beast.

It’s the tale of Pandora’s box, set in what feels like today’s Cornwall, except that it can’t be, because something very dreadful has happened to change the world as we know it. So, perhaps set in the future twenty years on?

Julie Hearn’s novel Wreckers features a future world where people have had to go back to basics. It’s not quite a dystopia, but there’s something wrong in the Kingdom of Britain. The world is on the verge of dying if people don’t ‘do something’.

Gary and his four best friends live in the isolated little village of Port Zannon, and they have been friends since potty training. Now Danzel has come up with an idea for Halloween and he and Gary and Dilly, Jenna and Maude end up doing something that might not have been such a good thing, when you think about it.

The past, with its tradition of wrecking, features heavily. What really happened that night in 1732? What did they see? And what happened next?

Julie Hearn, Wreckers

Julie uses a narrator, whose identity you can only guess at after a while, which means you can learn much more than would otherwise be possible. You also see what happens through the eyes of each of the five friends, which is a good move, or I at least would have disliked a couple of them, quite a lot. Learning someone’s thoughts you understand and learn to like and tolerate.

There is the most marvellous mix of things happening in Wreckers. You couldn’t guess where the plot is going, even if you can work out who or what the creature is. It’s a vaguely insane mix of the most unexpected developments. To begin with I thought it’d go very wrong, and then I started to hope it wouldn’t. I even thought that maybe there was a big… But there wasn’t.

This is friendship at its best, and it’s fascinating to see what unexpected effects kindness can have.

The adults are not your typical fictional adults, seeing as they’re neither dead nor old and stupid. The reader sees that they, too, are human.

It wouldn’t hurt if we all tried some of the lifestyle changes before they are absolutely necessary.

Wreckers is fun and exciting, and I’d had no idea Julie writes such good books. Could be why she’s been shortlisted for a few things, but I’m slow to try new writers some of the time, and to be honest, neither Pandora nor Cornwall struck me as very tempting topics.

Wrong again.

Bookwitch bites #43

3 OUP Spring books, 2011

When I grow up I’m going to be a children’s books publisher. They have such very nice offices. Klaus Flugge’s office looks nothing like David Fickling’s, but they have more in common than they are different. And I will have a canteen that does ginger cake. I didn’t know modern work places still had canteens.

Klaus Flugge's mantelpiece

David Fickling's mantelpiece

Forgot a few things when I wrote yesterday’s post. Hardly surprising. At my age one tends to go gaga. I meant to show you this picture of the OUP party bags. Not a lollipop in sight.

Ice Maiden, Wreckers, Buried Thunder

And I suppose if I can’t run a publishing house, I could perhaps get a job as the one who ties books up with ribbon.

Did you happen to notice how they had matched the cover of Wreckers to Julie Hearn’s dress? If you missed it you need to go back to the last post. The ‘creature’ matches Julie’s hair, so that’s a job well done.

Candy and Tim

I’m unsure what happened here. I doubt it’s camera malfunction, so am guessing it’s some devilishly clever way of playing and making Tim Bowler and Candy Gourlay fizz.

My own fizz has just about come to a temporary end, so this witch will go and rest until she becomes normal again. Or until tomorrow, whichever occurs first. Suspect it will be Sunday. Normal feels too much to hope for.

Gridlock, heavy medal and stacked aubergines

You, my dear readers, are very lucky to be reading (at this very moment, in fact) the best blog in the world. Tim Bowler says so, and I don’t feel he could be mistaken. I have admired him for long enough that I’d take his word for (almost) anything. The man has taste.

So, I had eight hours in a very wet and dismal looking London yesterday. I had three events booked in, and four authors to meet up with. That was until the day before, when I saw fit to squeeze Candy Gourlay into a small gap perceived when the timetable was looked at in a slanted sideways kind of way. Candy made five. (That’s not counting waving to Jon Mayhew as our trains passed…)

Tim Bowler

I started some weeks ago by arranging to meet Tim for a very overdue interview. I mean, I’ve treated the poor man as I would a local museum. It won’t do. Then I discovered that his publishers, OUP, had a dinner thing the same evening, featuring not just Carnegie Medal winner Tim, but Sally Prue and Julie Hearn, and I invited myself and my trusted Photographer to it… I ought to be ashamed. The very patient Jennie from OUP put up with a lot and allowed us to come.

The next serendipitous thing to occur was an invitation from Andersen Press to come and meet Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead in the afternoon, nicely positioned between the other two meetings. It took care of that annoying period when you have time to kill and may be forced to drink tea and eat cake somewhere.

Rebecca Stead

In actual fact, Andersen’s lovely Clare made lovely tea and served it up with three kinds of cake, including ginger, so I’m a fan forever. We discovered that Daughter/Photographer was quite comfy in the chair belonging to Klaus Flugge, elephant cushion and everything. Did an interview with Rebecca, and talked about the previous night’s Waterstone’s prize event, where she had met Candy, and been introduced to David Fickling.

So that’s the heavy medals taken care of. I had joked with Tim about causing gridlock in central London. Just hadn’t expected the gridlock to happen, but the streets round his hotel were very much of the not-going-anywhere kind. OK, I know streets rarely move at all. I meant the traffic. You knew that.

Candy had been squeezed in before this, and had to ‘put up with’ meeting Tim and being hugged, despite being wet. I felt that having Candy around made for a more writerly chat, and she is considerably easier on the eye than yours truly. The two of them made mutually admiring noises. And if David Fickling’s ears burned it’s because he was the topic of conversation twice in one afternoon.

Candy Gourlay and Tim Bowler

At the end of the day we found ourselves in the Judges Chamber with the cream of the children’s books world and I totally refrained from making a fool of myself over Nicholas Tucker again. Super-agent (book variety) Catherine Clarke was there and it was only the second time in two hours we saw her.

Sally Prue

I finally met Sally Prue, who is as lovely as she has seemed in her emails. And Julie Hearn was equally nice to meet, and both of them agreed to pose for photos, before we sat down to the stacked aubergines. Which were very tasty, I have to say. Veggie food can be so bland, and my only problem here was the discrepancy between the amount offered on the plate and my own internal capacity. The aubergines won.

Julie Hearn with Wreckers

There were talks from all three stars, but we only heard Tim’s (and he managed to avoid his ten minutes taking longer than twelve) before we dashed off to the late northbound broomstick from Euston. The advantage of seeing Tim twice in a day was that he got to hug us four times. (I need to point out that Mrs B was present. She’s just as nice as we remembered from Northampton four years ago.) Then lovely Tim saw us off the premises.

Because this is such a marvellous blog, I am writing this in the middle of the night, when sensible people are in bed. So all you get is this flimsy account of the day’s proceedings, and there may well be more. Later. Post-sleep.

2010 Carnegie shortlist

At last! I kept checking and checking, until the shortlist snuck in the back door while I wasn’t looking at all.

ANDERSON, LAURIE HALSE  – CHAINS

GAIMAN, NEIL  – THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

GRANT, HELEN  –  THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN

HEARN, JULIE  – ROWAN THE STRANGE

NESS, PATRICK –  THE ASK AND THE ANSWER

PRATCHETT, TERRY –  NATION

REEVE, PHILIP –  FEVER CRUMB

SEDGWICK, MARCUS –  REVOLVER

Of the eight I have read six and they are all excellent, as is to be expected. I have never read either Julie Hearn or Philip Reeve, but I’m fairly certain they are equally good.

Which book will win? So far Neil Gaiman seems to have won everything with The Graveyard Book, so there may be no stopping the man. Will they go for old established, like Terry Pratchett, or new like Helen Grant? And Patrick Ness has won quite a bit in a short period of time.

Or they could simply surprise me if they feel like it.

2009 Guardian longlist

It’s that time of year again; time for the longlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize. The only reason it feels strange to me, personally, is that I’d expect to be on a plane going away for half term. But those blasted GCSEs have moved my plane experience. Don’t worry, I’ll be going away later.

So, this is what they have chosen:

Bernard Beckett, Genesis

Siobhan Dowd, Solace of the Road

Sally Gardner, The Silver Blade

Morris Gleitzman, Then

Julie Hearn, Rowan the Strange

Mal Peet, Exposure

Terry Pratchett, Nation

Marcus Sedgwick, Revolver

I have read four of these. I’ll leave it to you to use my search facility to find which ones. That way you get a lot more for your money today. Two more are quivering on the front row of the TBR book arrangement. And one I have heard of, and one I haven’t.

You’ll be wanting a prediction for the shortlist, won’t you? Hard. Three of them will be Siobhan, Sally and Morris. The fourth will be either Mal, Terry or Marcus. I’m not seeing clearly enough for more detail.

And if you are very young (hah), you can compete here.