Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Geek Night Revisited

Last night I was at the Deptford Lounge Library in conversation with authors Mark Walden, Rohan Gavin and Steve Feasey for the inaugural Geek Night organised by The Reading Agency and Bloomsbury Books.

I arrived just after 5pm and chatted to Paolo, one of the Deptford Lounge librarians and Caroline Fielding until the authors arrived along with Ian Lamb and Charli Haynes from Bloomsbury.

Deptford Lounge is a geek heaven, one of the things we noticed was the film’s they will be showing over the next few weeks, this included Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Star Wars, Godzilla and other science fiction greats. Apparently it is fairly inexpensive to get the rights to show films if you do not advertise them outside the building that you are going to show them in.
geek panel
Last night was the first time I had met Steve, Mark and Rohan although I had attended events that they were also at, but our paths had never crossed.

For a first-time event the evening ran remarkably smoothly. I was almost superfluous to requirements as, except for posing questions in the lulls between conversation the talk flowed effortlessly between the authors about their geeky interests and what inspired their books to whether or not the Moon Landing had been faked (consensus was that it was in fact real) and other topics of personal and geeky interest. The talks elicited laughs from the small but perfectly formed audience who seemed engaged throughout the hour.

Our talk also touched on why geeks seem to be typified by socially maladroit men and why sports geeks have always seemed to be socially accepted at the expense of the comic reading and gaming groups. This led on to a pointed discussion as to why some parts of (male) geekdom turned on their geeky sisters with the “fake geek girl” accusations and threats over the past few years.

The evening wrapped up with questions from the audience which included a shout-out to top trumps and Joss Whedon as geek culture’s primary go to guy for mainstream acceptance.

Knightley & Son is Rohan Gavin’s first novel and reflects his love for Sherlock Holmes and criminal conspiracy tales.

Mutant City is the first novel in a new series by Steve Feasey and has echoes of Mega City 1 and the X-Men as well as the current real world fascination of genetic manipulation and repressive governments.

Earth Fall by Mark Walden is a modern take of alien invasion and resistance but removing the use of FTL travel and having aliens use other means of infiltrating and directing the human race.

Three completely different novels but each influenced by the varied geeky interests of the authors.

Photographs by Andrea Reece and Caroline Fielding.

Free Reading INSET with Alan Gibbons in Birmingham Wednesday 4th June 2014

4TH JUNE 2014
4.30pm – 6.30pm
Join award-winning author, Alan Gibbons for a twilight session on practical strategies to engage reluctant readers including hints and tips on how to engage your struggling pupils with reading and make them want more.

The session will also include a reading from Alan’s latest books, Being Rooney and On the Run alongside a quick overview of Collins Read On and how this series can help your pupils progress to achieving a secure level 4 in reading.

This is a free event and refreshments will be available on the evening.

4.30-4.45pm Arrival with refreshments
4.45-5.45pm Workshop on practical strategies to engage reluctant readers with activities
5.45-6.00pm Overview of Read On scheme from Collins
6.00-6.30pm Author reading, book signing and questions
6.30pm Finish and take away free resources from Collins

Q3 Academy, Great Barr, Birmingham
B43 7SD
Places at this exclusive event are strictly limited so please reserve yours by e-mailing
on Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sarah McIntyre's 25 tips for hosting an awesome author visit!

The amazing Sarah McIntyre has compiled a list of 25 tips on hosting an author visit over at her LiveJournal:

25 tips for hosting an awesome author visit!

Reading this list is a must for anyone who has ever hosted an author and for those that want to organise a visit to their school but are not too sure where to begin!

James Dawson and the Countdown to June 5th

Yesterday you read 20 Random Questions with Holly Smale over at Sister Spooky’s site.

Tomorrow you can read about Jennifer Gray at Big Book Little Book.

But TODAY… today we are BLESSED for we have James Dawson here, brought to you by the wonder that is digital video:

Future8 Awards

Dylan Collins’ latest start-up venture SuperAwesome has joined forces with The Guardian newspaper to launch the Future 8 awards, aimed at highlighting young digital creators from schools in Ireland and the UK.

The Future 8 Awards, which are supported by Enterprise Ireland, will invite youngsters ages 7-17 to compete in eight categories, including games, music, animation, maker (hardware and software combined), online video, mobile development, web development, and writing and blogging.

Find out more here:

Barrington Stoke marks centenary of WW1 in print and online

April 2014 sees Barrington Stoke launch Reading War, a website dedicated to literacy and World War One. The site is published to coincide with the release of Tom Palmer’s Over the Line and also focuses on Linda Newbery’s Tilly’s Promise, published January 2014.

“At Barrington Stoke, we are all about expanding new readers’ horizons with powerful fiction,” says MD Mairi Kidd. “Over the Line is a hugely important title for us both because it marks the centenary of the First World War and because it approaches the conflict through the lens of football – and we know that many young people who are reluctant to read find sport an enticing hook. We’re delighted also to launch Reading War, a site packed with materials for schools and families to use to explore the War and the themes of Over the Line and Tilly’s Promise in more depth.”

Over the Line is a powerful first-person narrative of one young footballer’s experiences of World War One. Jack Cock scored England’s first international goal after the end of the war, and he did it as a veteran of the trenches. One of the first generation of pro footballers, Jack enlisted in the Footballer’s Battalion and went on to play in the Flanders Cup. But his footballing duties spared him nothing of the horror of the trenches, and he saw many of his teammates fall.

Tremendous black-and-white illustrations by Ollie Cuthbertson march along the bottom of every page.

“We are immensely proud to publish Over the Line,” says Editor Emma Baker. “It is a marvelous tribute to the game of football and to a heroic young man. We also believe it is a breakthrough for Tom Palmer as a writer, into a different league.”

Reading War is packed with rich content relating to the themes of Over the Line and Tilly’s Promise. Video content includes Tom Palmer visiting all significant sites from Over the Line and Linda Newbery discussing white feathers and other means used to recruit men – and on occasion boys – to the army. There are activities linked to the videos, teachers’ guides and stories, diaries and other reading materials created specially for the site. Tom Palmer will be blogging regularly on WWI in the media and ways to use this material to develop literacy in the classroom.

• football in 1914–1918
• pals’ battalions
• the home front
• medicine and nurses
• forgotten victims

See for more.

Geek Night at the Deptford Lounge

On Tuesday 13th May I will be ringmaster at a Geek Show.

GEEK: ’g?k, noun
From the low German geck, meaning “fool” (1914).
1: A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off of a live chicken or snake.
2: A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked.
3: An enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity (computer geek).
— geek•dome, noun
— geek•i•ness, noun
— geeky, adjective
— geek, verb
Merriam Webster Online dictionary

On this night there will be no sordid acts of sideshow freaks biting the heads off chickens to the baying of an appreciative and horrified audience..

Rather I will be at the Deptford Lounge in conversation with top authors and self-confessed geeks Mark Walden, Steve Feasey and Rohan Gavin.

Come along to find out why they are proud to be geeks, and how their love of games, gadgets and graphic novels inspires their writing.

This FREE event is supported by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and there will be a special book offer on the night. Each book will be on sale for £5 or guests can get all three for £10.

WHEN: May 13, 2014 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

WHERE: Deptford Lounge, Giffin Street London SE8 4RJ UK

Shift the Blame – an interview with Jeff Povey

Hi Jeff welcome to Teen Librarian – would you like to introduce yourself to readers that may not have come across you before

Hello Matt and firstly thank you for letting me do this. I’m usually a scriptwriter. I’ve written over 250 episodes of prime time British TV over the past 20 years. EastEnders, Casualty, Silent Witness, Grange Hill, Holby and quite a few others. I have also written original pieces, one of which I directed. I also write film screenplays, all of which never get made. I also had a couple of plays on in London many moons ago. About eight years ago I wrote a novel called The Serial Killers Club which was a black comedy about a lonely guy who inadvertently joined a Chicago based serial killers club – and found love. It was published by Warner/Hatchette in America and in quite a few other countries but the UK wasn’t at all interested. I loved writing it though and swore I would write another novel one day. Trouble is I really love writing scripts and before I knew it, quite a few years passed and I still hadn’t done it.. Til now of course.

Did you make a conscious decision to write for teens or did you write Shift and think “hey this would be perfect for YA readers”?

That’s a good question. I actually just thought it would be a much more exciting story if it was about teenagers rather than adults. I hoped there would be a naivety to teenagers who don’t know as much about themselves and the world as perhaps an adult would and thus it would be a bit more dangerous and a lot more thrilling. But I also thought they’d be a bit more daring and free and that when it came to relationships and friendships it would be more fun – and funnier. I also write adult characters every day of my life and a little bit of me didn’t want to do that. I also like teenagers, I have four kids and the house has always been full of teenage kids who you find sleeping in the hallway or you sit down to dinner and they’ve already eaten everything. They are bold and brash one minute and nervous and self doubting the next. They have their whole lives ahead of them and have so many huge decisions to make and I remember being like that – ready to rule the world one second, and then scared stiff of it the next. One of my kids friends turned up one day wearing his mum’s wedding dress and I thought now there’s a great character. I was also going to write this as a blog from the main character’s – REV – perspective. I was going to publish it online and do one chapter/blog a week. I probably have those pages somewhere but I was really interested in putting a story onto the web and seeing what happened. (Probably nothing!) But I hoped teenagers would maybe find it and maybe enjoy it. I’m droning on now but I think if you write a novel then you just write it, I didn’t know I was writing YA fiction, I was just thinking about who best served the story. I was very happy when someone said I’d written a YA novel though.

Shift made me think of a cross between Stephen King and John Hughes (The Breakfast Club) in the Twilight Zone – what were your inspirations for writing it?

That’s a great description. The Breakfast Club only became an inspiration when I suddenly realised that I had been inspired by it if you know what I mean. I hadn’t watched it for years but then it suddenly sunk in. John Hughes was a brilliant film maker, one of my favourites, and although I’ve only recently read Stephen King he is incredible and I wish I’d started reading his books years ago. What a writer. The main inspiration was a simple ‘What if’ question. I always do this if I come up with a story. I’ll look at a bit of life, or a person or an event and ask myself “What if that happened, or what if they said this, or what if that didn’t happen and something else did instead. For SHIFT it was obviously What If some schoolkids stepped out of school and found the world was empty? That’s all I really had. The harder part is answering that question, but it’s also the best part. Sometimes you can’t answer the question there and then and you leave it to simmer for a year or two. I had this question for a year before I could figure out an answer. I think we are bombarded with images and music and ideas every second and sometimes you don’t even know that your brain has taken them in – and then twisted them into something else. But I always get inspired when I ask that question: What If….

Did you do any scientific research for the story or is it pure science fiction?

I did a little bit of research and there are theories on the multiverse – but that’s all they are. Just theories. No one has proof so I decided that I would be the master of my reality. My main aim was to make it logical, that even if I made this new world up, it would have to have a logical sense to how it operated etc. But also we’re dealing with 16/17 year olds and if they suddenly start spouting great swathes of theory and scientific understanding then I don’t think anyone would believe in them. The characters are not interested in WHY so much as they are in HOW the hell do we get home? I would be the same, I would have one major thought – let me get home! REV’s dad has written a paper on how and why it happens but only one character, The MOTH, can get a grasp of it. Even if he explained every last detail to the others they probably still wouldn’t quite grasp it. I don’t recall The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe stopping to explain itself. I might be completely wrong there, it’s been a long time since I read it. But sometimes if you explain too much then you take away a bit of joy a reader may have in the wonder of it all, and also in coming up with their own theories. (I hope anyway). I’m not saying don’t research though because the more grounded and believable the better. It was just a hard one to research when alternate worlds may or may not exist.

Shift is the first book in a trilogy – I am looking forward to books 2 & 3 can you let us know when they are due out?

I’m writing the Second one now and I think it will be published around 6-8 months from now (April 2014), and the Third instalment will appear 6-8 months after that.

Are you currently working on any other stories?

Only for television but as everyone knows you really need to have your second and third ideas lined up just in case someone asks you to come up with something else. I’m asking those What If questions again. But I know it will be YA fiction because it’s brilliant to write. I’m a little worried though because I really love the characters in SHIFT and I fret about making up new ones that I love just as much. I can see why JK Rowling wrote so many Harry Potter books, she loved those characters unconditionally. Also, do I go back to apocalyptic worlds? They’re my favourite type of fictitious world but would I just be copying myself? I think I’ll just wait til the right What If presents itself. There’s a few bubbling away.

Do you ever read the works of other Teen/YA authors? If yes what can you recommend?

I have a list of books by my bed now. The YA world is very new to me and as soon as someone said I had written a YA novel then I made a point of not reading any. I didn’t want to be influenced by them. I didn’t want people telling me that I had been influenced by them either. Someone mentioned Michael Grant to me and I immediately looked him up on Wikipedia and thought, ‘My God it’s almost the same idea I had!’ I e-mailed Simon & Schuster and told them what I’d found and of course they obviously knew all about Michael Grant and said don’t worry I was a very different type of writer. But I really panicked for a while. As a writer you strive for originality and think you’ve hit on the best idea in the world and lo and behold someone’s already thought of it. So I have a lot of books, some of which you recommended to me, and I am waiting until I’ve written my second book in case they get into my head. Also they might have a style I like and I’ll ape it before I even know what I’m doing. And worst of all they could be much better writers and my fragile mind doesn’t need to know that. One thing I would say is before I started this, I would go into bookshops and not look at YA. It was not drawing my attention, I’m older obviously, but I used to stick to the world I knew. I don’t think that’s a good thing because avid readers like me are probably missing out big time. Anyway my list comprises of Scott Westerfeld, Neal Shusterman, Darren Shan, Clare Furniss, Suzanne Collins to name but a few.

Do you ever do Library visits to Teen Reading Groups? If yes, what is the best way to get into contact with you or your agent about it?

I have never been asked but I would do that in a heartbeat. Just send an e-mail and I will do whatever I can.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Teen Librarian!

Thank you for asking them! I know I waffle a bit so apologies for that.