Tag Archives: Steve Cole

Choices

I was quite tickled to discover vigilante dentists in the book I was reading in the dentist’s waiting room this week. It was by Steve Cole, so not all that unlikely. I require books when in waiting rooms. It deals with the nerves. But I had nothing I’d started on this time, and it can be hard to open up a new novel in a waiting room situation. Because you just don’t know, do you? So I grabbed Steve’s latest, reckoning I’d be safe with him.

Wasn’t sure if I’d been sent this book for having been so positive about the first one in the series, or if I just look like a Steve Cole fan.

But these days I have shopping lists for books. It used to be I’d want the odd book I’d not been sent, and I’d maybe buy it if temptation got the better of me. Now I’m resorting to lists of books I want to read. The main reason for not having dealt with my current list yet is that I’ve not had time to shop, or felt I’ve had lots of time for reading. It’s not that I’m not wanting to read these books.

I even want a copy of Good Omens, despite having already bought one, over ten years ago. I pressed it into the hands of Son, and that was it. Now I want my own copy.

There are far too many top choices in books that publishers are being quite sparing with. Malorie Blackman’s new book was offered on Netgalley to a limited number of readers. Adrian McKinty’s golden new crime novel is proving impossible to hunt down. And so it goes.

Bad for the image of the blogger who not only gets everything free, but makes money from their blogging. WordPress are quite insistent that I want, need, their professional upgrade. Not so much to spread the word, but to make money for ‘my business.’ And I thought I was merely writing for pleasure…

I admit I’m tempted sometimes. But then I remember that with the lesser paid-for options you don’t even get snow in December. I almost cried last winter when the snow failed to fall on Bookwitch.

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Adventure Duck vs Power Pug

Did I really want to read about a duck struck by a meteorite? It promised to be quite a silly book. But then, Adventure Duck vs Power Pug is by Steve Cole, and we like Steve Cole.

Steve Cole and Aleksei Bitskoff, Adventure Duck vs Power Pug

So they all came with me to the GP’s waiting room yesterday, and luckily the nurse was distracted by her friends over lunch and was late, allowing me to read on. By page 39 we’d just got to the cool secret camp the meteorite-stricken egg (yes, really) had organised for himself and Adventure Duck – who, between you and me is a silly duck – and I didn’t particularly want to get up from my reading.

As you will have gathered I have yet again fallen under the super-powers of Steve Cole, and you wouldn’t know I am really an adult.

It’s a good sign when even old people can enjoy rather silly books intended for much younger readers. I suspect that 6-8 year-olds will really really like Adventure Duck, and Yoki the egg and Ziggy the not-sidekick. As for Apocalypse Cow, well…

Steve Cole and Aleksei Bitskoff, Adventure Duck vs Power Pug

There will be more instalments of the meteorite-induced adventures, and knowing the speed with which Steve writes, I would imagine the second book will be here weeks ago. (I don’t mean that. Even this one is only out next week. But we are talking meteorite time.)

The illustrations by Aleksei Bitskoff are suitably crazy too.

Steve Cole – ‘Made to eat salad’

Steve Cole

On the 482nd anniversary of Anne Boleyn losing her head, Steve Cole walked into the Tolbooth in Stirling for his Off the Page event, to ‘deafening applause’ on a day when a few other things were also happening. Royal weddings, football, warm sunny weather. That kind of thing. He was going to tell us about writing, with the help of a ukulele. The telling, more than the writing, I believe.

Stirling Off the Page

I’d successfully climbed the hill, almost all the way to the castle, and Steve had come all the way from England, and this after his first – very eventful – encounter with oysters. The plane’s cabin crew had apparently questioned whether he really should be flying, but Steve insisted, and with a huge stack of sick bags at his side, he made it all the way.

Steve Cole

He treated us to his version of the Sick Man Blues, on ukulele. I shouldn’t think anyone in the audience will be having a meal of oysters any time soon.

This man who has written 157 books in the last 20 years, got his career started with the diary they had to write for Mrs Cave at school, every Monday. It got so boring he began to make it up, and seemingly Mrs Cave was also bored, so she told him to continue making things up.

Steve Cole

From oysters to salads, and more vomiting, this time courtesy of the dinner ladies at school. Once Steve’s parents realised they made him eat salad every Wednesday, an early introduction of packed lunches occurred. This was the dark days of the 1970s. But let that be a lesson to you; tell your parents if you are ever forced to eat your salad.

Some years after the eight-year-old Steve wrote his own Mister Men book, Mister Paint, he moved on to his Astrosaurs series of books, partly with the help of Enid Blyton’s daughter. The nice one. He told us in great detail how the dinosaurs got their names, but I suppose it’s what you should expect from the office junior at Noddy magazine.

Steve Cole

From Astrosaurs Steve went to writing Doctor Who stories, but then felt the need to return to writing about his own characters. Which must be why he borrowed Lucy the labrador from a child in the audience, and made Lucy – who I am sure is an upright, if doggy, citizen – into a secret bank robber, Canine X, master of crime. It was really to show how you can play with everyday stuff, or dogs, and make them do surprising things. Stories are everywhere.

Steve’s own alternate reality features cows. On this sad anniversary (for Anne Boleyn) he tested the audience on their knowledge of the wives of Henry VIII, and we eventually arrived at ‘the other Anne’ [of Cleves] who appears in his first CIA book. Something to do with a concrete cowpat.

This was a suitably Royal ending to an event on a day when we could hardly avoid hearing about other royal wives.

Steve Cole feedback, or book selling

The children bought books, and filled in feedback forms. (I didn’t, as I was a bit embarrassed about my age. I almost claimed I’m a year older than I am…)

Steve Cole

Steve encouraged the children to ask him questions over the book signing, and as far as I managed to overhear, there were several who required some writing advice.

Steve Cole

Steve Cole

There just might have been a hug for me as we swapped questions. I asked if he’ll ever eat oysters again, and Steve asked after Daughter. I almost suggested that next time it might be she who dedicates a ‘space book’ to him.

And no, he won’t have more oysters and advised me not to, either.

As I walked down the hill, I thought, not for the first time, how very dutiful my authors are, whether it’s murderous new boots, or oysters. They persevere, and come to talk to their fans. It’s why I love them.

And ten years on…

Ten years go so quickly, don’t they? While the fresh-faced Bookwitch looks good for ten, that other, tired witch propping her up is certainly showing her age. I reckon she thought she’d still be 29, ten years in. Whereas it’s more like, well, at least 49.

Meg Rosoff and the ALMA award, with Alice Bah Kuhnke and Katti Hoflin

I’ve often wondered if I’d last this long. The next wondering has always been whether to give it up. You know, nice round figure (and I don’t only mean me) to end it all.

Philip Pullman

But when I voiced this thought to Ross Collins last month he seemed shocked (and I’m not fooling myself into thinking he’s been here for the duration), so I immediately retracted my threat.

Julie Bertagna, bookwitch and Neil Gaiman

Ross then said I must have ‘got’ a lot of authors in that time, so I sighed deeply and said yes. He seemed concerned that I wasn’t sounding happier, which kicked me out of my morose state of mind. Yes, I do ‘have’ lots of authors, and I love every single one, and treasure them, and this is a cause for celebration. Not sighing. But you know, when you’re 49 sighing comes easily.

John Barrowman

In the last few days I’ve been in email conversation with someone else, about books and publishing and all that kind of thing, and I realised I’ve picked up quite a bit over the years. Not just authors, I mean.

Gordon Brown and Nick Barley

Actual knowledge, except it’s more like English grammar; I couldn’t tell you what it is. I just feel it.

So don’t ask me anything. I don’t know.

Philippa Dickinson and Terry Pratchett

There have been many absolutely wonderful books. And some less so. There have been really fun and interesting events, many of them in unusual places I’d not otherwise have got to visit. And those authors. Oh, those authors.

Steve Cole

Thank you.

(That’s the ‘I will go on for many more years’ thank you. Not the farewell thank you. I hope.)

Sara Paretsky

Digital slices

After the proverbial sliced bread, I reckon you ought to praise digital cameras.

I know. They have been around for so long now that hardly anyone can recall what went before them. I was a late believer, saying I’d never go for this ridiculous digital stuff. I wanted paper pictures in real albums.

Yes.

But. I began thinking the other week, as I snapped picture after picture of authors and books and stuff at Charlotte Square, most of them blurry and unusable. The thing is, I could. Snap, snap, snap, with no expensive prints to pay for when all you get is twelve blurred images of the back of someone’s head.

It does take time and effort to prune ten excellent photos of someone you like a lot, in order to keep maybe three. Because you don’t need dozens of identical pictures, however good. But since it didn’t cost anything, you could take all those spares and not worry about the consequences.

I know that should most of my pictures be really bad, I can generally still salvage something from one or two, chopping and cutting, getting rid of unfortunate wavy hands or unsightly dustbins as required.

Digital really helps a witch blog.

Secret Agent Mummy

Mind Writer

They are good at scaring me, these old favourites of mine, who have new books out with Barrington Stoke. This time it’s Steve Cole, dabbling in reading minds.

Steve Cole, Mind Writer

In Mind Writer Luke has discovered he can read people’s minds, which to begin with seems rather convenient. Knowing what a teacher is going to ask, for instance. But suddenly Luke reads exactly what goes on in people’s heads, and he finds he doesn’t want to know.

And then a girl called Samira turns up and she can make people do what she wants, including Luke. She puts thoughts into their heads.

Now there is nowhere for Luke to go, and he finds himself having to do what Samira says, which brings them to…

You could hate Samira, who seems evil. Or you can hang in there and wait to see what happens.

Close encounters

To me Chris Close and his ‘backstage’ photos of authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival are the bookfest to a great extent. I didn’t know who he was when I stumbled over to the press yurt the first time, in 2009. Chris had only just started his long quest then, and it’s been a pleasure seeing him at work every summer since.

Chris Close, Between the Lines

If you walk round Charlotte Square you will see his photos, displayed wherever there is a free space. You might go to an event and hear one of his ‘victims’ talk about books, or you could see them walking round the square if you are lucky. But you probably won’t have any idea of how Chris works. That he’s limited to a white sheet on the side of one of the large theatre tents, and that he has all of us milling about behind his back as he chats to the authors and makes them do the strangest things.

I have watched him read the list of today’s guests, deciding which of them seem the most interesting or unusual, and then asking if they will pose for him. And it’s fun to see Chris discover someone unusually outlandish looking, someone he couldn’t have imagined from merely reading the programme. Someone like Steve Cole who, dressed as Spiderman, jumped and cavorted until Chris had his shot. [not in the book]

Steve Cole

I like the way Chris chats to the authors, sometimes showing that he knows something about his prey – or has read up on them – and occasionally learning as he shoots. The whole concept of how he takes these photographs is great. It seems simple, and you wonder why no one thought of it before.

And equally obvious is the idea of a book of the best pictures. When I saw that Chris was publishing one, I knew I had to have a copy. To me Between the Lines is the best possible memento of summers in Charlotte Square. I wouldn’t mind one every year.