Wednesday, September 23, 2009

X Isle: London signings - and more reviews!

I shall be signing copies of X Isle in London on Tuesday October 6th - at Harrods (Knightsbridge) and at Goldsboro Books in Leicester Square.

Update: Harrods signing (in Waterstones book dept) will be from 12.30 - 1.30.

In the meantime here are another two great reviews of X Isle just come in, from the FantasyBook Review, and from SFFworld. (Warning: Bridie Roman's SFFworld review is very comprehensive, and perhaps gives rather more of the story away than you'd want to know in advance!)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci

In the run-up to X Isle's release on Oct 1st, I should mention that I have another title due out on the 5th: Leonardo da Vinci, published by Macmillan.

This was a lovely project to work on. The brief was to try and give an idea of da Vinci's genius and scope by viewing him through the eyes of one of his young apprentices - someone who was 'there at the time'. We invented a character called Paolo, a ten year old boy, and placed him in Leonardo's studio amongst other apprentices whose history is to some extent known. Fictionally told, factually accurate, as it says on the Macmillan website.

Through research and reference we were able to put together a little adventure story that allows us some insight into Leonardo's 'Milan' period, culminating in his painting of The Last Supper. Along the way we learn that painting was only one of Leonardo's skills - and not necessarily the most important one to him. Architect, sculptor, scenery painter, costume designer, inventor, civil engineer, portrait artist...the man turned his hand to whatever was required, accepting commissions from whoever had the money to pay him.

The book is for young readers, beautifully illustrated by Leo Brown, and hopefully serves as both entertainment and an introduction to the work of perhaps the greatest free-lancer ever.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Woo hoo!

Top review site The Bookbag have just made my day by awarding X Isle a full five stars! Here's an extract from what they have to say:

'This is a teen read of impeccable depth. The world has been fully realised, and the company of Baz is most welcome for seeing the ordeal everyone is in. While the language is pitched ideally for a 12-16 year old bracket, the book is quite a dark one at times. Nothing is gory or too graphic, but there are deaths, misery, sewage-based revenges, and more. It's not a very cheery book.

In fact I did take some time to get into it. At first it just seemed to be a retread of Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick, but things soon diversified. I sought a bit more sprightliness, before realising that would be counter-productive. And by the end I was most impressed by this author. He has put so much into this world, and as an adult reader I was aware, and waiting for everything to become relevant, and it often did in unexpected ways. There are several instances of him leaving something unsaid for hundreds of pages, then to give us the answer, and never patronise us with a flashback. Ray's mother is just one instance.

It's always up to us to put the pieces together. And that wouldn't work if things were not so memorable from beginning to end. The style is a great, cinematic one, with practically everything clear to the reader, and the plot and mood is brilliantly sustained. This is a title I hold in high regard, and while I have not read any of his other titles, such as Winter Wood, I can say with the highest recommendation that this book will go down exceedingly well with the target audience. It feels more than a little masculine at times, but young ladies - if your brother passes this on to you, you should not hesitate to snap it up.

I can see a flood of awards for X-Isle, and must thank the kind David Fickling Books people for my review copy.'
(John Lloyd.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

All TalkTalk2

Note: I removed the original post, detailing my battles with TalkTalk. Too long and boring. But this was the upshot:

So they finally sent a (BT) engineer out. Took him two minutes to remove a suppressor from the master socket, and now I'm finally online.

I can't believe it. Nearly three months of hassle for a job that I could have done with a pair of nail scissors. Anyway, I'm now waiting to see how TalkTalk are going to compensate me. I'm sort of hoping for a Mercedes SLK.

Red would be nice...