Showing posts with label Sharon Tregenza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sharon Tregenza. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 January 2021

My intriguing Christmas gift book. by Sharon Tregenza

 


THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET






by Brian Selznick

I was lucky enough to get this book as a Christmas gift. The friend who bought it for me had worked on the film version by Martin Scorsese (which she says is nowhere near as good as the book, by the way).

I've heard of it, as a Caldecott Medal winner, but know nothing about the story so I thought I'd give an overview of the actual book and then post a review next time.

Firstly, I love the heft - it's a big ol' brick of a book. Then when you look inside...









It's crammed full of stunning illustrations. Even the print pages have a black border which makes them look precious and special. It looks like a picture book/chapter book amalgam which is interesting in itself. 

If the substance is anywhere close to the style, I'm in for a massive treat. The blurb says...

With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.

I expect loads of you have already read it and possibly seen the film too. I'd be interested to hear what you think. Book? Film? Both?

Anyway, a lovely, lovely gift and I can't wait to dive in. 







Saturday, 12 December 2020

PISKIES, MERMAIDS AND GIANTS by Sharon Tregenza





I recently published a small educational book with OUP based on a Cornish myth. This triggered a long-time wish to delve deeper into the folklore and legends that were a part of my upbringing. Cornwall has a rich heritage of stories and superstitions. I got really engrossed with the research (for engrossed read obsessed) and ended up with three huge folders crammed full of stories of mermaids, witches, giants and much, much more.


 


It's wonderful stuff. Here's a taster...



 

PISKIES, MERMAIDS AND GIANTS



PISKIES: mischievous little creatures known for dancing and playfulness. Their leader is Joan the Wad. They supposedly inhabit stone circles and ancient barrows. As a kid I convinced myself that I saw several of these little folk in the wood near our house.




MERMAIDS: Probably the most famous Cornish mermaid is the mermaid of Zennor who's wonderful singing lured a local man, Mathew Trewhella, away from the village never to be seen again. I claim a sort of kinship to this particular mermaid - my mother was a Trewhella. 




GIANTS: If you've been to Cornwall you'll know St Michael's Mount - the tidal island off Cornwall's southern coast with the fairy-tale castle on top. It's said that the giant, Cormoron, carried white granite from the mainland to build it. If you walk up to the castle you'll see a heart-shaped stone on the pathway. It's all that's left of the giant - if you stand still and listen carefully, you'll hear it beat. As an eight-year old I knew I heard the thrum of the giant's blood.


I'm not sure yet what I want to do with this treasure trove. Maybe take  the legends as they stand and adapt them for children. Maybe incorporate the mythical stories into contemporary MG fiction. Maybe both. In the meantime, I need to stop researching - but it's so addictive isn't it. 



MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE.

www.sharontregenza.com


Email: [email protected]



Tuesday, 3 November 2020

HALLOWEEN QUIZ by Sharon Tregenza

 




THE HALLOWEEN QUIZ 
How well do you know your horror books?
1. Regan MacNeil is one of the central characters in which horror novel?

2. A deaths-head moth is found lodged in the throat of a murder victim. In which horror novel does this happen?

3. Which novel features a murderous, sacrifice-loving teenager and his mentally unstable brother, living in a remote part of Scotland?



4. Which story features Eli, a Swedish child vampire who is hundreds of years old?

5. The Turn Of The Screw is a gothic ghost story by which 19th century literary author?

6. Which novel features a family living in an old apartment building which is also home to a Satanic coven?



7. Wall Street is the backdrop to which sinister work of fiction by  Brett Easton Ellis?

8. Which book features a murderous monster masquerading as Pennywise the Clown?

9. Belasco House is the setting for which chilling novel by Richard Matheson?




Answers:
1) The Exorcist, 2) Silence of the Lambs, 3) The Wasp Factory 4) Let the Right One in 5) Henry James 6) Rosemary's Baby 7) American Psycho 8) It 9) Hell House








Saturday, 3 October 2020

R L STINE - OCTOBER'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza




R L STINE



Robert Lawrence Stine was born on October the 8th, 1943. His father was a shipping clerk and his mother a home-maker. The oldest of three children, Stine puts his early shyness down to the fact that the family was so poor he had to wear his cousin's old clothes to school.

He discovered an old typewriter when he was only nine and began writing stories and joke books and he's been writing non stop ever since.

Stine graduated from Ohio State University in 1965 and in 1967 headed to New York City to become a writer. He worked for Scholastic writing for school magazines. That's when he began his career of writing joke books and humour books for kids. Under the name of Jovial Bob Stine he created Bananas Magazine which he wrote and edited for the next ten years.

He married Jane Waldhorn in 1969 and they worked together on several books. 



Stine's most famous work, the Goosebump series, began in 1992. It quickly became a hit around the world and the Goosebumps TV show was number one in the US for three years in a row. You can see the Goosebump shows on Netflix now.






Five fun facts about R L Stine:

1. His favourite horror novel is "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury.

2. He has a phobia about jumping into water.

3. Goosebumps is one of the best-selling series of all time.

4. He's still writing books at the rate of about seven a year.

5. He keeps a mask, a skeleton and a three-foot long cockroach in his study to create a creepy atmosphere.





Stine lives in New York City with his wife, Jane and their dog, Minnie.







 

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Tomie DePaola - SEPTEMBER'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza

 




Tomie DePaola


Tomie DePaola was born on September 15th 1934 in Meriden, Connecticut, USA. His father Joseph was a barber and his mother Florence, a homemaker. Tomie had an older brother and two younger sisters. He came from a loving family of Irish and Italian descent and later drew on his heritage for many of his books. His best known series of picture books, 'Strega Nona' were inspired by his paternal grandparents and their home in Italy.

Tomie knew at the age of four that he wanted to be an artist and his family supported him. He earned fine arts degrees as well as a doctoral-level degree in fine arts from Lone Mountain College. At the age of 31 he illustrated his first picture book and he soon established the bright, folksy style he became famous for. 



Tomie illustrated over 270 books and wrote more than a quarter of them - many based on his own life.



Five fun facts about Tomie DePaola:

1. His art studio was a large barn.

2. He was also a singer and tap dancer.

3. At one time he received more than 100,000 fan letters a year.

4. His pictures are full of hearts, doves, flowers and cats.

5. He loved dogs, popcorn and the colour white.


Sadly, Tomie DePaola died on March the 30th this year at the age of 85.



















Wednesday, 23 October 2019

CorshamStoryTown event, by Sue Purkiss

I had a lovely day last Saturday at a book event in Corsham, Wiltshire, along with several other authors. Corsham is the home of the renowned Bath Spa creative writing department: many in the Scattered Authors' Society are alumni of the MA in Children's Writing, and I think there are several who teach there.

I imagine it's because of the proximity of the department that Corsham seems to be a very writerish sort of a place. It also has the gloss that comes from being one of the settings for Poldark; yes, Ross first set eyes on Demelza in the picturesque streets of this very town!

But part of what the CorshamStoryTown event was about was finding out the stories of people who live there. As I understand it, there were opportunities for people to go along over the weekend and have their stories, memories and anecdotes recorded - it all sounded really interesting. I didn't see much of this side of things, though, as I was in Corsham's rather splendid library along with Sharon Tregenza, Jasbinder Bilal, Chris Vick, Jak Harrison and Julia Seal, at a mini book fair.

I've never taken part in a book fair before, but I certainly would again. It's a very relaxing way to meet and chat to young (and older) readers, and also to meet other authors. I've long been rather envious of the lovely network which you instantly belong to as a graduate of the Bath Spa courses, as Sharon, Jak, Chris and Jas do, so I'm very grateful to Sharon for inviting me along to this event - it was so nice to actually physically meet up with other writers: something which I realised I very rarely do except at the wonderful Scattered Authors' Society gatherings.

Jak, Chris, Sharon, me, Julia and Jas (l-r)

So off I went, armed with a tablecloth, lots of books, twinkly lights (thanks to Sharon for that suggestion!), book stands, and my trusty (but sadly not blue) rhododendron. (Jack Fortune is all about the search for a blue rhododendron in the Himalayas, but I've not so far managed to get hold of a true blue artificial one.) It was jolly nice and somehow quite surprising to see all my books spread out in one place instead of being tucked away in drawers and cupboards: several people commented on how many there were, and as I chatted to young readers, I realised that there's actually quite a nice spread of titles for different age groups. I've often thought it was a drawback that I've written very different books, rather than producing a recognisable 'brand' of similar books aimed at a specific audience, but I began to realise that in some ways, it's no bad thing - there was pretty much something for everyone.

Sharon and I

There were other interesting things too. My most recent book, Jack Fortune, about plant-hunting adventures in the Himalayas, got a lot of interest, but the book I sold most of was Emily's Surprising Voyage, which is set on the SS Great Britain. Naturally so, as many children 'do' the Victorians and Brunel, and, certainly in this area, go to visit the ship in Bristol: the book is now on sale at the ship and doing well, but I do wish that I, and the publisher, had managed to get the message out to schools about it more successfully.

Another was something I realised as I talked to people about Warrior King, my book about Alfred the Great and his fabulous daughter Aethelfled. This book, like Emily, was originally published by Walker. The cover they designed was beautiful, and it featured Alfred (looking rather as if he'd just escaped from Lord of the Rings) standing in front of a marshy landscape.

When it went out of print, I republished it myself. I was quite keen to appeal to adult readers, so I used a moody black and white photograph I had taken of the land around Athelney, where Alfred took refuge from the Vikings and where much of the book is set.

But talking to people about the book, I realised I had to do a lot of explaining about the story - the cover didn't do much of it for me. Neither cover made the point that most of the story is told from Aethelflaed's point of view; and that's important and unfair to her. Nor would girls looking at either cover realise that it's a book about a girl, as well as about a king. So I'm going to see if I can do something about that.

Readers!

Another comment came from a great children's book enthusiast with whom I've been in touch on social media, but whom I hadn't actually met before. She said she'd had no idea that I'd written so much. (Please note - I do realise that I've written very little compared to many other members of the SAS!) So how did that happen? Or rather, not happen? How come that with all the blog and social media posts I do, I somehow haven't managed to talk much about my books?

All of this, and the conversations with children, made me think. It's very easy, particularly when you are geographically a bit out on a limb, to brood (just ever so slightly) on the prizes you didn't win, the books that didn't get published, the stories that got away. But in so doing, it's easy to lose sight of the virtues of the books that did see the light of day: a bit like my grandma, who spent much of her life brooding over the son she lost in the war, to the detriment of the daughter who lived.

So apologies in advance, because from now on I'm going to start paying a lot more attention to those neglected children...

Huge thanks to Sharon Tregenza in particular for inviting me, and also to the other writers whose company I so enjoyed, and to the extremely hospitable library and Paper Nations staff. (Our event was under the auspices of Paper Nations.) And the next time I go to a fair, I'll remember to take my toy rat. (A reference to Emily, which I think may go down rather well.) You have been warned.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

SEPTEMBER'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza


JACK PRELUTSKY






Jack Prelutsky was born on September 8th 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Charles Prelutsky, was an electrician, and his mother Dorothea, a homemaker.


He attended local public schools in the Bronx but hated it. He also claims to have hated poetry when he was younger. He says that in elementary school he “had a teacher who, in retrospect, did not like poetry herself. The syllabus told her she had to recite a poem once a week. She would pick a boring poem from a boring book and read it in a boring voice, looking bored while she was doing it."
Because of his musical talents, he went to The High School of Music and Art and was happy there. He graduated in 1958 and attended Hunter College to study philosophy and psychology. He failed English three times before dropping out.
Prelutsky loved to draw imaginary animals, and a friend encouraged him to send them to a publisher in New York. He wrote the poems to go with the drawings at the last minute. He was astonished that they wanted his work; not the drawings that took him six months to complete, but the poems which took two hours. They appeared in his first book, A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems, in 1967. 




He has now written over 50 collections.



Prelutsky married his wife Carolynn in 1979. They met when he was on a book tour in Albuquerque, she was a children's librarian and showed him around town. He says it was love at first sight.  They currently live in Seattle where he has a studio with a writing desk, computer, lots of books, and his collection of miniature frogs.





Five fun facts about Jack Prelutsky:

1. Before becoming a writer he was a busboy, a potter and a door-to- door salesman.

2. In the late 1960s, while singing in coffee houses he became a friend of Bob Dylan.

3. He asked his wife to marry him on the first day they met.

4. He collects miniature frogs.

5. He was the first Children's Poet Laureate.













Sunday, 3 February 2019

FEBRUARY'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza




JACOB GRIMM



I need to start this post with a disclaimer because as you all know, Jacob and his brother Wilhelm, weren't the authors of the famous GRIMMS FAIRY TALES, they were the compilers. I thought they were interesting though, so...


Jacob Grimm was born on January 4th, 1785, in Hanau, Germany. He and his younger brother Wilhelm were academics who studied the folklore of their region. The stories were an amalgamation of oral and previously printed fairy tales. 

Jacob (on the right) and Wilhelm Grimm 



The Grimms' Fairy Tales was originally known as the Children's and Household Tales. The stories, which include, 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Snow White' and 'Little Red Riding Hood' have been retold in many different formats over the decades.



Originally the tales weren't meant for children at all. They often contained, sex, incest and violence. 

In 1830, King Ernest Augustus demanded oaths of allegiance from all professors in Gottingen. This included Jacob and Wilhelm who taught Germanic studies.
The brothers refused and they were made to leave the city and branded as political dissidents. They were forced to borrow money from friends to complete their story collection.

The brothers Grimm were buried next to each other in Berlin-Schoneberg, Germany. Two of Wilhelm's sons, were buried next to them.




Five interesting facts about Grimms' Fairy Tales:

1. The first story to be eliminated after the first edition was Hans Dumm, about a man who had the power to make women pregnant just by looking at them.

2. In some early versions Rumpelstiltskin "in his fury seized his left foot with both hands and tore himself in two."

3. In the first Cinderella, the sisters cut off bits of their feet to fit into the slipper and doves peck out their eyes.

4. The Frog King was originally transformed by being thrown against the wall, not kissed.

5. The newest version is 'Philip Pullman's, Grimm Tales for Young and Old.' He also includes some background for each story.















Saturday, 3 November 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON by Sharon Tregenza



Robert Louis Stevenson born November 13th 1850





Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh and was an only child. His father Thomas was from a family of engineers who built most of the deep-sea lighthouses around the coast of Scotland. His mother Margaret Isabella Balfour's family were mostly lawyers and church ministers.

He was a sickly child, prone to constant coughs and fevers which confined him to bed. Because of this he had a limited formal education and was taught at home mostly by his nanny. Stories from the Old Testament and Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress fired the imagination of the boy created dreams of becoming a writer.

In 1867, Stevenson entered Edinburgh University  where it was understood hat he would become a civil engineer and join the family's lighthouse building company. When he confided his literary ambitions to his father they settled on a compromise. He would study law so that if he had no success as a writer he would have a profession to fall back on.





On the 19th May 1880 Robert Louis married an American woman, Fanny Osbourne, who had two children by a previous marriage. They spent the following nine weeks in the Napa Valley. They returned to England and 1880 to 1887 marked a time of great literary achievement but also ill health for him.

His first novel, Treasure Island was published in 1883, followed by A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Kidnapped (1886). His work was hugely popular and received great critical acclaim.





Robert Louis Stevenson died at the age of only 44 on the 3rd of December 1894.

Favourite RLS quotes:


  • Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. 
  • To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
  • Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.
  • That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.







Thursday, 23 August 2018

Interview with Sharon Tregenza by Steve Gladwin





Talking at the Scattered Authors Charney retreat recently, Sharon and I came up with the 
idea of swap interviews. We thought this might give a chance to learn one or two more interesting facts about a couple of children’s authors and be a little more in depth than the usual interview.

Sharon and I have some things in common - we both came to children’s novel writing later in life and we’ve both been short-listed for the Tir Na n-og Welsh Children’s book of the year and not quite made it to the main prize.

Sharon has had what you'd call a varied life, full of adventures far and wide and numerous careers. And yet throughout her life there  has been her love of books and perhaps a certain kind in particular, something which I believe is reflected in the children's books she has written, which are full of engaging characters in believable situations, with the next peril just round the corner. 

Q. Let’s start with the prizes that you did and didn’t win. You clearly know what it’s like to win because your first book ‘Tarantula Tide’ won both the Kelpies Prize and The Heart of Hawick Award and was also nominated for the Branford Boase. More recently, ‘The Jewelled Jaguar’ won the Calderdale Prize. They must have been very different experiences.

A. They were. For the Calderdale I travelled from Bath to Halifax. I wasn’t expecting too much as the competition was fierce, so I was thrilled to win. We spent the day in the extraordinarily glamorous town hall giving workshops to the most enthusiastic children I’ve ever dealt with. They were brilliant.





Q. Now, let’s take a look back at your childhood and the first time you picked up a book which turned out to mean something to you. Can you tell us what it was and what it was about the story that first captured your attention and imagination?

A. This:




The idea of sneaking out with your sisters at night AND dancing the night away was thrilling. I wasn’t too bothered about the princes at age 7 or 8.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your career before being a children’s writer? I gather you’d written quite a lot before that but give me a flavour of life’s highways and byways. It’s clear you’ve travelled widely and lived in a number of interesting places.

A. Pffft. How long have you got? I’ve had several businesses including a guest house in Mousehole, Cornwall, a run- down holiday park in North Wales and apartments and a fishing lake in West Wales. Chuck in there somewhere, five years as library assistant for an American school in Dubai and teaching conversational English to local girls in Sharjah. Most of that time I was also writing children’s copy for a large newspaper group in the Middle East.




Q. Let’s talk about ‘The Jewelled Jaguar’ which I’ve just read and greatly enjoyed. In its story of secret caves, deadly knives and an enigmatic mathematician it’s an adventure mystery for which the word skulduggery might have been invented. The same applies to your other books. Was it a conscious decision you made because it’s the sort of book you enjoyed reading as a child?

A. I haven’t really thought about that but I suppose the simple answer is yes. Being Cornish, beaches, caves and coves were an integral part of my childhood and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of good ol’ skulduggery.

Q. Now, as well as completing an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales you have another MA in ‘Writing for Young People’ from Bath Spa University. I’ve met a lot of graduates from that course – what did you appreciate most about it.

A. There was such a lot to enjoy there. Firstly, the campus – Corsham Court:





Corsham Court is a country house, surrounded by stunning gardens complete with peacocks.

Add to that the first-class tutoring by established children’s authors, the camaraderie of other writers and the opportunities available as a direct result of the course. I still miss it.


Q. What about authors you admire and why? They needn’t be children’s authors.

A. Ooh, too, too many. I’ll pick one from each age group for now and I could write an essay on why (don’t worry, I won’t)

Children’s: Norton Juster
YA: Louis Sachar
Adult: Toni Morrison



Q. And finally for a bit of light relief, let’s do…

Favourite Book? ‘Holes’

Favourite Film? ‘In Bruges’

Favourite place? Cornwall

Favourite Food? Souvla or Gumbo


Well, thanks Sharon for talking to us and all the best for your future plans and ideas.


Thank you, Steve and I look forward to hearing the results of my interview of you.

NB For anyone who missed that interview, you can find it on August 3rd.


Steve Gladwin
'Tales From The Realm' - Story and Screen Dream
Connecting Myth, Faerie and Magic
Author of 'The Seven' - Shortlisted for Welsh Books Prize, 2014





Friday, 3 August 2018

INTERVIEW WITH STEVE GLADWIN






Over a glass of wine (or two) at the recent magical Charney retreat, Steve Gladwin and I thought it might be an interesting idea to swap interviews for our next ABBA post. Here are the results...


Steve is a performer, storyteller, teacher, director, writer and ran theatre and storytelling companies. He is an honorary bard of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. So question number one has to be...


Q. Your spiritual life obviously has a strong influence on your writing. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

A. I'm happy to talk about my spiritual path which in essence can be summed up with one name: Taliesin. He was a Welsh Bard who wrote in the sixth century - a mythical figure who wrote visionary poems of astonishing depth and power. He was said to be King Arthur's Bard.

My Bardic life can be summed up in the three encounters with Taliesin and the branches that interconnected with other parts of my path. The first was hearing the storyteller Hugh Lupton tell the story of Taliesan at the Brewhouse in Taunton. That had an impact, but the version I heard Philip Carr-Gomm tell on the magical bardic retreat on the island of Iona in 1995, had even more. Not only did we hear the story, but we worked through longer visualisations in a house called Grianon which once belonged to the psychic Lucy Bruce. We took silent walks in the landscape and made twice daily pilgrimages from the hotel to Grianon and back. On the Friday, like little Gwion in the story, we were "reborn" from the cauldron after the last visualisation. For me, it happened unexpectedly a week later when I was giving a storytelling with a friend for Beltane (May Day Eve) and I was granted the awen of story - a Welsh word meaning flowing spirit, or inspiration. It has been with me in some way ever since.

The final and probably most important Taliesan was reading a copy of John Mathews beautifully lyrical and powerful collection of stories called "The Song of Taliesan" while attending a week long psychosynthesis course in Glastonbury. This book and another of Johns had such a profound effect that I later adapted it both for the stage in 2000 and as a double CD in 2009. Somewhere in the middle of all that I also read Philip Carr Gomm's book "The Druid Way"and signed up for their correspondence course. I attended many of their camps where I directed the plays at summer camp for five years in the nineties. My love of storytelling and Welsh myth came from Taiesan and in twenty years of druidery the relationship and the awen has continued.


Storytelling at Dolforyn Woods for Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust





Q. Describe the route to your first novel being published...

A. The actual route was a bit of luck. It was Rosie, my partner, who found the submissions for Gomer Press and Pont Books. It was almost Viv, my editor's, last job before she left to train for the priesthood. I still have a copy of the email which ends by saying "I hope you're not too shocked!"

The idea for 'The Seven" came from two things. The first was a series of books I was writing for adults called "The Lies of the Summerland" which followed the death of my wife, Celia, and our discovery of the Grove of Seven near our home in Meifid. These stories were reborn as a single book about a boy called Tony who loses his artist mother who has left him seven mysterious paintings which are actually keys to unlock the mysteries of the Grove of Seven.

The second comes from my absolute fascination with the Mabinogi stories which are so full of things that simply don't make sense. Perhaps the biggest of these is in the story of Branwen, where Gwern, the little prince is thrown into the fire by his mad uncle Efuisien. I never bought that, so I decided to write a book to redress it.






Gateway to the Grove of Seven




Q. Why do you write?

A. That's a great question, Sharon. It's lifeblood to me, possibly further fuelled by my awen and my need for answers. I consider that really I know next to nothing and the moment I start believing otherwise I may as well pack-up.

But the other answer, I suppose, is I've done it and loved it right from picture-story at Nunsthorpe Juniors in Grimsby. It's all degrees isn't it. And for much of the second part of my life (I've only been writing seriously since 2012)  it's been combined with storytelling and performance. I'm as happy on a stage as I am anywhere and love it even more than writing.


Q. Which novelists do you admire?

A. Blimey, it will have to be a list. Sometimes it's one book from that author, like Rose Tremain's wonderful "Music and Silence" which I happily re-read. Also "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" by Susannah Clarke, "Gentlemen and Players" by Joanne Harris, Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" and a whole lot more.

But writer's include: David Almond, Catherine Fisher and Kevin Crossley-Holland in the field of children's books and Nick Hornby, Milan Kundera, Andrea Camilleri and Colin Dexter and anything by Phil Rickman. There's also James Lee Burke's wonderful series of books about detective Dave Robicheaux, set in Louisiana. He's simply a great writer who happens to use detective fiction as a genre.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your work?

A. There's nothing to beat that moment when something clicks when you've had a heck of  a time getting nowhere and bashing your head against the proverbial brick wall and then, just like that, you don't just see the light, but the entire illuminated ballroom. 

I'd also say that there's also nothing quite like the experience, of what I'd call, peopling your own universe.


'Who will raise the Tall Ship that will bring them back again?'


Q. Can you describe your typical working day?

A. Is there such a thing? For me it's changed recently as well because I've been sort of retraining myself as a screenwriter and apart from all the sometimes irritating pedantry of the 12 beat verses 14 beat structures, one of the main things you have to do is read examples of other writer's screenplays - particularly pilots, and keep up to date with new series and find what makes old favourites. How tough is that!

I generally work from 10:00 until 5:00 or 6:00 and never in the evenings unless there's a deadline. I do yoga and take walks, with my partner Rosie, and alone and I must remember to do more of both. I always work to music  and Vaughan Williams in particular. "The Seven" was nearly all written to the background of his third and fifth symphonies.

Q. What's coming up next for you?

A. There is a book called "Bess o' Bedlam" about a straight-laced young Victorian lady who moonlights as a professional Mad Girl. I'd though it complete, but I want to go back to it, as it's very much a book with my heart in it.

Most of the rest of my concentration however will be following the hopeful journey of my as yet unpublished book for "grown ups" "The Enchanting Mr Williams" to the small screen. My lovely friend and co-writer, Kelly McKain and I submitted our pilot for the series and the "bible" that goes with it at the end of June. We await various possibilities on both sides of the Atlantic. I've also finished what has turned out to be the very long "Mr Williams" book, but it will probably have to change now after the pilot. I describe it as 'a story of English Faerie' and it concerns the consequences, in the 21st century, of the gift of a lady of Faerie to the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Q. And finally for a bit of light relief, let's do...

Favourite Book? It's a series of three called "The Fionavar Tapestry" by Canadian writer Guy Gavvriel Kay who worked for a year with Christopher Tolkien on "The Silmarillion"and then produced those powerful, wonderful books.

Favourite Film? Lots of them but it has to be Powell and Pressburger's "A Matter of Life and Death" - it's a wonderful, visionary and moving fantasy made long before its time. David Niven is wonderful and it uses both colour and black and white.  Small screen would probably be "The West Wing" but at the moment I'm riveted by John Logan's writing and the performance in Penny Dreadful.

Favourite Place? I love and yearn for the sea and especially when its close enough to splash you. My favourite sea place is Glebe Cliffs near Tintagel in Cornwall just above Merlin's Cave.


Merlin's Cave


Favourite Food? If I could go there it would be haddock and chips from the Pea Bung in my home town of Grimsby. Failing that spaghetti and sea food. Then there's cheese, but don't get me started on that, Sharon.

Thank you, Steve that was a full and interesting interview. I really enjoyed reading it.