Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Star Wars, Comics & Sci-Fi this Weekend!

Well it is only Monday morning and already I am thinking about the weekend!
Why this weekend amongst 52 others of the year you may ask!
As many people of the geeky persuasion already know Saturday is May the Fourth – also known as Star Wars Day and Sunday is the sequel – Revenge of the 5ith.
Apart from three excellent films, two Ewok spin-off movies, three prequels of varying quality, two Clone Wars animated series and cartoons there is an entire expanded universe of novels, comics, computer and table top role-playing games.
Admittedly the novels vary from excellent to um not so good actually.
My personal favourites being the Heir to the Empire trilogy (aka the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn and Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber which is Star Wars with Zombies!
Star Wars is instantly recognizable as a brand and the novels & comics may attract reluctant readers who prefer movies. Posters are fairly easy to get hold of (or you could create your own) and making a display of Star Wars related library materials can be eye-catching and if you run a teen group they could be inspired to try new books or even create Star Wars fan fiction and comics if you tie it in to creative writing.
vaderslittleprincessVader’s Little Princess is also being launched at Forbidden Planet on Saturday.
Not only that, but May 4th is also Free Comic Book Day.
fcbgWhat is “Free Comic Book Day?”
As the name implies, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book speciality shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops.
When is Free Comic Book Day?
Free Comic Book Day is held the first Saturday in May each year.
Are they really free?
Yep! Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Check with your retailer for their policies and plans for FCBD.
Find participating stores that may be near you here:
(be sure to click on the Locate shops outside of North America link underneath the search bar)
Staying with the whole geeky, comic vibe this week marks the launch of Sci-Fi London!
sci_fi_london_2013SCI-FI-LONDON (The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film), is a UK based film festival, dedicated to the science fiction and fantasy genres. Now in its 12th year Sci-Fi London launches on Wednesday and runs until Monday 6th May.

Designed to be a festival that “takes a serious look at sci-fi and fantasy, bringing new, classic and rare movies from around the world to the UK”, Sci-Fi-London (SFL) annually screens world and UK Premieres, seminal cult classics, as well as documentaries, debates and talks.
Short films are also an important part of the festival programme, screening in front of every movie shown, as well as together in the Blink Of An Eye short film programme. Over its history Sci-Fi-London has also held a number of Short Film competitions, and in 2008 launched the Sci-Fi-London 48hr Film Challenge, in order to encourage filmmakers to create sci-fi short films over a very short space of time.

So if you love anime, science-fiction, fantasy and the weird (and can get to Stratford Picturehouse in East London) it is a phenomenal festival!

The Soterion Mission

Shakespeare said it first!


The Film's the Thing!

Shakespeare is looked upon as the greatest writer in the English Language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

He created many words and phrases still in use today and the very mention of his name can make teenagers turn pale and quake in fear. Fortunately Hollywood in the late ’90’s and early years of the 21st century saw a gap in the market and a number of High School adaptations were made.
shakespeare10_things_i_hate_about_you 10 Things I Hate About You is my personal favourite (I have no idea why – I just enjoy it so much), based on The Taming of the Shrew. It is about a new kid must find a guy to date the meanest girl in school, the older sister of the girl he has a crush on, who cannot date until her older sister does.
white barrier

shakespeare12thnightshesthemanShe’s the Man, based on The Twelfth Night is about teenager Viola Hastings whose brother decides to ditch schoolfor a couple weeks in London, Viola heads over to his elite boarding school, disguises herself as him, and proceeds to fall for one of her soccer team-mates. Little does she realize she’s not the only one with romantic troubles, as she, as he, gets in the middle of a series of intermingled love affairs.
white barrier

ShakespearegetoveritLoosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Get Over It is a high school drama about a series of romantic entanglements around a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
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shakespeareothelloThe darkest adaptation in this list, based on Othello, the main character is now Odin James (‘OJ’), star of the basketball team and the school’s only African American student. Desdemona is Desi, the dean’s daughter and Odin’s girlfriend. Iago is Hugo, the coach’s steroid-addicted son, who plants seeds of doubt that fester in Odin’s mind, leading them all to a violent fate.
white barrier

shakespeareromeo_and_juliet_movie_posterOne of the best-known updates, Romeo+Juliet is set in modern day Verona Beach. Unusually for a modern version the director (Baz Luhrmann) used the original Shakespearean language and apart from a few changes the movie is almost exactly the same as the play.

World Book Night 2013

Yes! Today is World Book Night 2013. This year as in previous years I will be participating as a giver.
I was fortunate enough to be picked again and this year I will be giving copies of The Dark Judges – one of the greatest Dredd stories.
They came from Deadworld – twisted, ungodly versions of Judges with enough power to destroy the world! Led by the cadaverous super-fiend Judge Death, Judges Fear, Fire & Mortis share a chilling ethos – as only the living can break the law, all life is a crime!

The fearsome foursome are intent on bringing their brand of justice to Mega-City One. Only Judge Dredd and Psi-Division’s finest telepath Cassandra Anderson can stop them from committing a Mega-City massacre!
and I will be giving copies to 20 struggling & reluctant readers in my school.
I chose a graphic novel as I have found in working with reluctant readers that they do not equate comic books and graphic novels with reading and most of the kids are happy to give comics a read as opposed to books with just words.
World Book Night has (for the past two years) formed part of my getting kids reading in my school, I also utilise a collection of old proof copies of books and duplicate donations I have received to reach more than 20 potential readers.

Geekhood: Mission Improbable the Video Interview

A few weeks ago Laura of SisterSpooky, Kerrie from ReadandRepeat and I were invited by Stripes Publishers to interview author Andy Robb on his houseboat near Taplow.

Laura has a brilliant write up of what went on during the filming here: On the Boat with Andy Robb.
While we chatted we were painting Dark Angels Space Marines.


There are many like it, but this one is mine!

Andy is an excellent host and all-round geek and nice guy. We chatted for ages between filming; about comics (He showed off his Spiderman signed by Stan Lee) I drooled over his Batman/Joker Animated Adventures, Doctor Who and the literary merits of Terry Pratchett versus J.R.R. Tolkien (Andy is a die-hard Middle Earther while I tend more towards the Discworldian view). He played the voice of Kring the magic sword in The Colour of Magic.
The video was made to promote and celebrate the release of


Which is a sequel to:


Both of whom were written by:


The Batman?

Noooooooooooo not the Batman – although that would have been amazing!


They were actually written by BatmAndy Robb.
The last few photos were taken at the book launch, which was held at the Waterstones on Kensington High Street. The launch was fantastic with a number of people dressing up as comics characters (my favourites being Walter ‘Rorschach’ Kovacs and The Big Figure from Watchmen), I was too busy enjoying myself to take photos.

This is Andy and Cristina of Crisckracker Films who filmed the interview.

Important Note: Each of the bloggers has a unique coda at the end of their videos so be sure to watch them all!

Totally Random Tour Competition (Random House)

Random House is offering one lucky teen the chance to interview 3 of their YA authors as part of the Totally Random Tour in May. The tour will take place across several websites and blogs. The lucky winner would also receive a package of books worth £100!

For full details and to enter follow this link:

Teen Librarian (almost) Monthly April 2013

You can download the latest edition of Teen Librarian Monthly here: tlmapril2013
This month Teen Librarian looks at:
A petition to ask the Department for Education to ensure that all school students have access to a well-run school library
Rookie Mag
Shakespeare Day
Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Competition
Shelterbox Competition
Google Reader news
an interview with Joanne Macgregor

Monster Odyssey: an Interview with Jon Mayhew

Teen Librarian is proud to feature an interview with Jon Mayhew, author of Mortlock, The Demon Collector, The Bonehill Curse and the soon to be published The Eye of Neptune, first book in the Monster Odyssey series.

monsteroddcover1. You have chosen a young Prince Dakkar – better known as Captain Nemo as the (anti?) hero of your story. Is there any particular reason you chose a pre-existing character in the public domain rather than creating someone new for the story?
I have a bit of a track record for using past works of literature as a springboard for my writing. The character of Sergeant Major Morris in The Bonehill Curse is taken from WW Jacobs’ story The Monkey’s Paw. I quite like imagining the characters before the events of a story and the best characters allow you to do that. I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Captain Nemo and so when Bloomsbury asked me to do an adventure series, he sprang to mind straight away. I wanted to write undersea and historical so inventing anew Captain Nemo, seems a bit pointless. There’s also the challenge of doing something new but something that has a ring of truth about it.
2. Obviously in his youth he was merely Prince Dakkar, will your series touch on how he became Nemo (no-one) and eventually refused to step on to inhabited land? Or is it going to be a swash-buckling tale of derring-do and adventure?
Both, I hope! What intrigues me about Nemo is that he had a past. It is referred to in Mysterious Island. He returns to India at the age of 30 and marries but becomes embroiled in the Indian Uprising of the 1850s. His wife and child die and he goes to an island with some compatriots and builds the Nautilus. But that doesn’t really explain how he knew how to build a submarine, or why he was so driven to save the oppressed or why he wept bitterly whenever he killed men. It didn’t tell us how he became educated, where he got his encyclopaedic knowledge of the sea or his love of Art from. I wanted to explore how his character forms. For example, he is obviously an inspiring leader, so in one book he may encounter famous generals, emperors and politicians of the time. It would be a shame to miss such an opportunity for swash-buckling tales of derring-do and adventure, though!
3. There is also (according to the Amazon page) a Girl but she is only referred to as ‘a Girl’ – is her identity going to be a surprise or can you share a bit more information with us?
She is a fictional character. Georgia Fulton, a niece of one of the other characters, she’s a fist-fighting, All-American girl who generally acts as a foil to Dakkar’s Princely pomposity. In other words, she punches his lights out when he gets too big-headed!
20kus4. I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island when I was a youth and loved it (also the Disney Movie which I enjoyed as a child) and did not give the character any thought for years until I read Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. There is a Nemo graphic Novel by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill due out in February focusing on the captain‘s daughter. Have you read any of the works featuring Captain Nemo (apart from the Verne originals)?
dakkarThere is a lot of Nemo-inspired material out there! I loved the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but wondered why Moore made him a Sikh. Dakkar would either be Hindu or more likely, Muslim. I’ve read a manga Captain Nemo which was great fun but I’ve avoided other texts. I also enjoyed the films and various cartoons that have popped up through the years.
5. Prince Dakkar was portrayed as being virulently anti-British and anti-imperialist in general, will your novels be showing how he became this way?
I hope so. It is interesting to look back at how Dakkar was portrayed because in early English translations, he came to England to improve his country, in American translations of the time, he came to ‘learn the ways of his oppressors.’ In the original versions of Verne’s books, Dakkar was Polish and hated Russia. This was quickly changed when France and Russia became close allies. All fascinating and the reason why MY Prince Dakkar is mentored by a Polish nobleman in exile from his home country!
6. Apart from Prince Dakkar will any other literary characters be making an appearance in the series?
Probably not literary characters but certainly historical characters from the time I have set the books. So in Book one, Dakkar meets Jean Lafitte, notable American/French pirate, he meets Robert Fulton, real inventor of the first Nautilus submarine. In the second book, Napoleon crops up amongst others!
7. You are currently working on a sequel to Monster Odyssey, will this series be finite in length or is it going to be more open-ended?
As open-ended as possible! I have an ending in mind and a broad character arc for Dakkar but anything could happen on the way!
8. How much research went in to developing the story?
Obviously, I needed to reread the originals and then it’s a question of interrogating the year I set the first book. Dates and chronology proved tricky as there were inaccuracies in the originals which I discuss here: It also involves reading around certain key events such as the Battle of Waterloo and getting a feel for that time. Verne wrote speculatively at the time but he pinned a lot of his work down with what he believed to be scientific fact. The beauty of writing in Verne’s world is that you have an essentially recognisable world but tinges of fantasy. A good example of this would be the fact that Verne thought it plausible that undersea craft could survive much deeper below the sea than we now know is possible. So we can go deeper.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions
Thank you for asking!

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