Tag Archives: Lucy Christopher

Dame in a nebula outfit

The weirdest thing was running into Andy Mulligan at Euston. Not that he knows me, but there he was. Probably going towards ‘Up North’ like Formby (for tomorrow’s event), whereas we (trusted photographer and witch) were heading for Branford Boase, which is an award and it’s in London. (There is a point to that which you will not get.) And then there was Jodi Picoult in the tube station, but she was merely a poster, if a life size one.

Walker Books employee

I’d have got lost at Vauxhall tube station. I have been before. Once. Thankfully Daughter, who has never been, put us on the right path. So we were not lost after all.

Sarah McIntyre and Candy Gourlay, Branford Boase

So, there they all were, the shortlisted authors, apart from Gregory Hughes (I deduced he was not the winner). Candy Gourlay seemed to have brought Sarah McIntyre along, which was wise, and one of the men in the Fickling basement was present. That’s Simon Mason of Moon Pie fame. So we had met before, which the clever-clogs Daughter remembered and I didn’t. You can’t memorise all men kept in basements everywhere.

Keren David, Branford Boase

Keren David was surrounded by admirers at all times so was hard to get close to. But her shoes were marvellous. And her glasses. (Sorry, is this a book blog?)

J P Buxton, Branford Boase

Had no idea what Jason Wallace looks like, but the photographer identified him with her eagle eye. There was something about her wanting his shirt for her bedroom…

J P Buxton was someone I didn’t know at all, but he turned out to be the tall guy with the impressive hair.

Pat Walsh, Branford Boase 2011

And Pat Walsh had a crutch with her that I very nearly stole. Being kind, I only held it for her during the photocall. Pat was what you have to call the experts’ favourite, so I am very interested in her book (which is another one published by someone I’m not managing to establish a – professional – relationship with).

Clare S

Klaus Flugge

David Lloyd

John McLay

Lots of other lovely book world types, including Andersen’s Clare, Nicky with the impressive memory, Philippa Dickinson, former winner Frances Hardinge and many more. Klaus Flugge, whose chair Goldilocks sat in. Super agent Hilary Delamere, Julia Eccleshare, Walker Books’ David Lloyd. And I have finally met and been introduced properly to John McLay of the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature.

And then there was Jacqueline Wilson (Dame, OBE, etc, etc) in a starry outfit that Daughter will have when Jacky is finished with it. Please.

Jason Wallace and Charlie Sheppard, Branford Boase winners 2011

Henrietta Branford winners 2011 with Jacqueline Wilson

Jason was not the only winner last night. There was a whole bunch of talented children who had won the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition. One girl was so keen to come that she’d travelled on the coach from Scotland since five that morning and going back overnight. Maybe the future of writing is safe, after all?

Anne Marley and Jacqueline Wilson

Julia Eccleshare

In her speech, Branford Boase organiser Anne Marley slipped in a Freudian Wife of Never Letting Go for Patrick Ness, son of the Walker house, which made us laugh. David Lloyd pointed out what a fun – and easy – job editing books is. Julia Eccleshare spoke about the history of the Branford Boase Award.

And then it should have been last year’s winner Lucy Christopher, but she was off on some very important business elsewhere, so had written a lovely speech to be delivered by Damien Kelleher who was one of the judges. The Branford Boase is awarded not only to authors like Jason, but to editors like Charlie Sheppard. What Lucy had to say about editors is that authors need them ‘like crazy people need therapists’. She can talk. According to Charlie, editors occasionally spend time polishing turds. I fully expect Out of Shadows not to have been anywhere near turd status.

Although, Jason did mention ‘gutted fish at feeding time’. Andersen Press is the nicest bunch of people. (I had noticed.) Jason also muttered something incomprehensible regarding cats, empty bottles and loneliness. And most importantly, he talked about Zimbabwe, where his novel is set. Things are still not good and people are still suffering. Let’s hope books like Jason’s will make a difference.

Branford Boase winning books

Anne Marley warned us off stealing the display of former winners’ books. Apparently Philip Ardagh tried it last year. (Could be why he wasn’t there?) The good thing about neither Candy nor Keren winning was – as they said – that now they don’t have to kill each other. Competing against friends is never fun.

Branford Boase 2011, authors and editors

As usual Paul Carter was taking photographs, and he is not above sharing the task with others. Which is why I brought my own picture person. As they do in real life sometimes, the photographers ended up taking pictures of each other.

We were chatting to Jacqueline Wilson just before leaving, when Candy sneaked up, wanting to be photographed with a star. One of these days she’ll realise that no sneaking is necessary. She too, is a star.

Jacqueline Wilson and Candy Gourlay

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Authors in the kitchen

The 2011 author calendar has landed. I know. It’s late. I put my order in late. The calendar maker was busy. After which the calendar maker made, and I was too busy to proofread. There were two 27th of Februarys. No 28th. That’s been fixed.

Then there was the printing of. Ran out of time. Then ran out of legs. Eventually stashed laptop in bag on back and dragged myself upstairs towards printer. And printed. And guillotined. Even worked out a way for authors not to have their heads stapled.

No, I mean hole punched. It always used to look so uncomfortable with the little hole at the top of their heads. And heads are useful things for authors to have.

2011 calendar

This year’s crop is exclusively from the Edinburgh festival, so if you weren’t there you’re not in. If you’ve been in before, you are less likely to be in this time. And in the end it was down to best photos, and then the calendar maker was allowed final say.

At the moment I have Lucy Christopher smiling away. She will be followed by Marcus Sedgwick, after whom come Francesca Simon, Stuart Neville, Eleanor Updale, Sally Gardner, Keith Gray, Debi Gliori, Philip Ardagh, Jacqueline Wilson, Theresa Breslin, Michelle Lovric and Sophia Jansson.

Yes. That is 13 names. Two share. And Ardagh has been before, but since my pet name for him is Calendar Boy, I suppose it’s OK. Fully dressed. Always.

And all the heads intact.

It’s not easy having a kitchen wall 13 cm wide. In fact, that is anything but wide. 13 cm narrow, is what it is.

Hair apparent,

Nick Sharratt

and not. Bald is in, and didn’t even qualify as a description for when I went looking for Michael Grant. Not that that is his name. Plenty of other bald men in and out of yurt. Nick Sharratt at least has a beard. Found him signing on Sunday afternoon, wearing my favourite colour.

Ally Kennen

David Almond

Ally Kennen and Lucy Christopher had to squeeze up and share a table, but they looked cheerful all the same. David Almond had one to himself, and a pretty long queue. So I didn’t get my book signed. Sigh.

Lucy Christopher

Joyce Carol Oates was on early, for a Sunday, and we only just caught her at her signing, with not a hope of getting there for the official photo call. I was interested to see that some fans didn’t hesitate bringing out piles of their favourite books. With that long a queue I wouldn’t have, but we’re not all the same.

Joyce Carol Oates

Francesca Simon was the star turn of the day for us. She’s still not blonde, but she assured us that her lovely dark hair is now nit-free. (She brought the subject up!) Never having seen Francesca in action, her Horrid Henry talk was high up on my wishlist. I even managed to get my Horrid Henry non-fan to come along, which isn’t bad going. She, and I, were very taken with Jolly Josh who seems like a dream young man, not averse to the HH limelight. Rabid Rebecca was there as well, and I wouldn’t hesitate having her as my babysitter.

This Anglo-Saxon expert told us about alliteration, her horrible younger siblings and her badly behaved niece and nephew (I can see the next family get-together will be a real success), and had the nerve to admit that she’d sent Josh to dance lessons. There were pink Polish underpants, and the sign language interpreter did a lot of jumping about, making funny faces. It’ll be the HH effect.

Francesca’s beautiful dress appeared to be fully zipped up, unlike that very embarrassing moment in the past. We were treated to the world premiere of a reading from Horrid Henry Rocks, and children were carried out, and carried back in again. The brave Francesca even sang her own heavy metal rock number, which isn’t bad, considering she doesn’t know anything about heavy metal.

Francesca Simon

And then we all ran to make it to the front of the signing queue. Obviously we didn’t all make it to the front, but I didn’t do bad for an old witch. Even got to meet lovely PR lady Kate at long last.

The middle of the afternoon passed in a bit of a blur, but I know we toed and froed. Had been having an exchange of messages with Michael Grant about where and when to meet up for a brief interview (a witch has to make good use of his rare trip to Europe, all the way from California). In the end we just accidentally ran across each other, so sat down on that well used decking for a chat. I believe I even prevented the poor jet-lagged man from drinking his much needed coffee. Now that I think about it.

Michael Grant

Michael then went to get ready for his event, where his fondness for Mac Keynotes caused a wee hiccough while all available computer nerds rushed to his aid. I suspect he was seconds away from phoning his son for help.

This was another talk where there were a good number of readers in the audience, by which I mean it wasn’t full of parents. And that’s always good. Michael wanted to show us what it’s like to be hungry, so experimented with ‘moral ambiguity’ on two basically decent volunteers, who were willing to bash each other with a baseball bat for a Snickers bar.

He played us the theme songs he’s chosen to identify his characters by, and told us how he met his wife. We know they cleaned toilets for ten years, before deciding to earn piles of money writing books. There was also the question of whether Stephen King ripped Michael off, or vice versa.

It seems Michael doesn’t plan his writing, but instead writes ‘as he goes along, freaking out every day’. And this two-finger typist likes the grossest scenes the best.

Gone signing

It was like Piccadilly Circus in the bookshop at five thirty, with three authors and their queues competing for attention. After the photographer was done, we met up with the lovely Donna Moore, who had come all the way from Glasgow to see us. (And for a party, it has to be admitted.) Donna wore her summer Doc Martens, which was a relief to me who had imagined nothing other than heels would do.

Donna Moore

We went to the Spiegeltent for drinks (tea, you know), where we swapped information on what we’ve done and what we want to do and all that. Talked Old Dogs and who can be permitted to read it. (Neither the Grandmother nor Donna’s parents’ elderly neighbour.) She’s writing more capers. Two at once, or something. And we talked about Bristol and Alaska.

Left the Spiegeltent before we were kicked out. The tired witches to ‘go home’ and Donna to her party.

Bookwitch bites #17

Big Beat From Badsville

I’m satisfied beyond belief by the above screen cap. I have worked so hard and for so long and until now everyone has been nothing but kind and polite. Thank goodness for someone like Donna Moore who understands my level of sickness.

Another clever woman, also based in Scotland (could it be the water?), has an excellent idea for the forthcoming Edinburgh International Book Festival. Look here for Nicola Morgan’s plans for meeting up in Charlotte Square.

Continuing with the ladies, Lucy Christopher won the Branford Boase award for Stolen this week, receiving the prize from the fair hands of Jacqueline Wilson. Wish I’d been there. Wish I’d read the book. I don’t know what’s become of me. No time for anything at all.

And finally, I need to announce the birth of Photowitch. There can never be too many witches, and now there is somewhere for you to go when all you need is something to look at, without tiring yourself with reading. Tortoises, roses, whatever next?

2010 Branford Boase shortlist

Gulp. This is bad. Not the shortlist, but me. I haven’t read a single one of them! Yet.

I hope this state of affairs is not an indication that I’m out of the loop. I do have two of them, Devil’s Kiss and Numbers, waiting for some loving attention. Admittedly Sarwat’s book has waited very long, but had made it onto one of the aforementioned holiday reading piles. Even before Monday’s announcement of the shortlist for the Branford Boase award, I mean.

Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda, edited by Lindsey Heaven (Puffin)

Stolen by Lucy Christopher, edited by Imogen Cooper (Chicken House)

Life, Interrupted by Damian Kelleher, edited by Anne Clark (Piccadilly Press)

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera, edited by Shannon Park (Puffin)

Big and Clever by Dan Tunstall, edited by Ross Bradshaw (Five Leaves)

Numbers by Rachel Ward, edited by Imogen Cooper (Chicken House)

Paradise Barn by Victor Watson, edited by Leonie Pratt (Catnip)

Seeing as Branford Boase winners tend to go on to do very well, it’s a case here of having to find out more. And I hope that the six that don’t win, also go on to great things.