Latest Event Updates
It’s here, it’s here, it’s nearly here!
This very Sunday, 14th September, I’ll be appearing at the Ham and High Lit Fest from 5-6pm. The Ham and High have a brilliant Kidsfest programme with great authors doing some excellent talks, all of which I intend to go to. I’m going to spend the day there, seeing as much as I can, because it’s right up my alley.
It’s at the LJCC near Golders Green, so if you’re in London, free, and fancy coming, do it. Just do it. Throw caution to the wind, grab the opportunity, seize the day and Say Yes More because YOLO and life is short and what the heck.
I’ll be there talking about life, the universe and everything. I’ll also mention Dream on, Amber and read part of it, and talk about my next book, due out next year, and we’ll talk writing and storytelling and all kinds of magic like that.
You can buy tickets here or, unless it gets sold out between now and then, presumably at the door too.
In other news, I found out what it’s like to stand in a queue to meet an author and have your book signed. It’s downright nerve-wracking, that’s what it is. I very nearly ran out when I got to the front of the line. I told the two guys either side of me what to do in case I fainted or died on the floor, right in front of the author. Not because he was scary or intimidating, and not because I was star struck or filled with hysteria anything like that. But because I’m shy. No, really. People laugh when I say that because I’m also confident, bold, fearless and could run the country single handed, but I’m also really shy. I am. And the truth is, I don’t like feeling like a fan – I don’t know why. I find it so cheesy and teacher’s pet-like and sucky-grovelly, even though it isn’t at all. Maybe I need to see someone about that.
But anyway, I did it. I got my book signed and didn’t faint or die right there on the floor in front of him and all those people in the bookshop and I’m so very proud of my signed book that I’m going to post a photo of it. I wonder if everyone feels like that in a queue to have their books signed.
The book is amazing, by the way. Not for children – there’s too much stuff that even I don’t understand about the Iraq war. But I’m enjoying it so much. Well worth the heart failure.
There are so many reasons why you should visit Edinburgh, especially in August. Firstly, Edinburgh is a stunning city. It’s built on seven hills, near lots of water, and has steep craggy cliffs and cobblestoned streets, so geographically, it’s beautiful. It also has a long and fascinating history and contains some of the spookiest architecture you’ve ever seen, so it’s worth seeing at any time of the year. It’s known for being cold, wet, windy and having porridge-skies, so summer is a better time to go, but it’s also like that in summer so be prepared.
Then, in August, its population doubles. For almost a month, the fringe festival takes place, with thousands of short acts featuring music, comedy, cabaret, theatre and lots more, all in a small (very hilly) area so you can get around easily and as they’re all quite cheap to see, the hardest decision you have to make is what to see and when. There’s an app to help – finding good Internet access though, well, that’s a different story. You can fits lots of shows in to a day and then there’s all the other stuff to see, like museums, graveyards, bars with over 200 whiskies on the menu (over 18s only, of course) and the nature and blusteriness on the outskirts of the city, not to mention the rest of beautiful Scotland.
Then there’s the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is great. It was my first time appearing at the Book Fest and I loved it. My event was with Jane Elson, who wrote ‘A Room Full of Chocolate’. We spoke for an hour about our books and did short readings, in a small tent with the rain lashing on the roof. Some lovely children and adults came to see and hear us talking about our books and some of their similar themes, and they asked us very good questions. Here we are, holding our books.
We signed books afterwards and got to meet some lovely readers and budding writers. It was utterly amazing and I had so much fun, I hope to go to Edinburgh again for a whole week next year.
If you’re around, or even if you aren’t but like the sound of it, come along. It’s fantastic. But there are no guarantees the sun will shine. Bring a warm jacket, comfortable shoes and a strong umbrella. It’s summer in the UK after all.
Oops. It’s been far too long since I last posted and so much is going on. So many that I don’t know where to start. Maybe I should start with the big things first…
1) I’ve finished my next book – YAY! – and have submitted it to the publishers. It’s a whole new story, not the sequel to Amber, although I’ve written that too. This is about a girl called Maly Palmer who wants to be an actor. The publishers are happy, which of course makes me happy, and I start working on it with Rachel, my amazing editor, very soon. It’ll be published in 2015.
2) I’m flying to Edinburgh for the book festival next weekend: my event is on Sunday 17 August at 6pm. It’s with Jane Elson, who I met recently, and liked so much. I’m glad to be going and glad to be appearing with Jane. We’ll be discussing her book, A Roomful of Chocolate, my book, Dream on Amber, and dreams of escape. I’m happy to be escaping myself – Edinburgh in August is kicking. I can’t wait!
3) I’m doing a very different type of event at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival on 14th September. I’ll be talking about story writing and cake baking and looking at recipes. Come along! I’d love to meet you. You won’t be getting any cake though, so don’t get too excited.
4) I’ve had lovely letters and emails, the most recent (and my current favourite) is from Elizabeth in Melbourne (Hi Elizabeth). It’s heart-warming to receive feedback and hear what you think of Amber so don’t be shy – get in touch via the ‘Contact me’ tab if you want to say hi.
5) I did two school visits in July, just before schools broke up for the summer. I visited Frithwood School in Northwood and West Lodge in Pinner, where I talked about Dream on, Amber and variety of other things, like where I get my ideas from, what I did before I was an author, what being an author is like and how to create stories. I also answered lots of intelligent questions even though it was SO HOT and everyone was melting, including me. I love doing school visits and hope to do lots more in the coming year. If you’d like me to come to your school, ask your parents or teachers to look at the ‘School Visits’ tab. I’d be happy to visit your school. If you live in Australia I’d love to come even more but it’s unlikely unless my publisher arranges a book tour. You could always ask. You never know. I live in hope.
It’s coming out in Germany at the end of September with a very different cover. There it’s called ‘Amber Katastrophal Genial’, which means ‘Amber Catastrophe Genius’. I love that my name is inside a bubble gum bubble.
That’s it for now. I’ll be in touch after Edinburgh. Wish me luck!
I can finally announce that I’ll be speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August (whoop whoop).
If you’re in and around Edinburgh on 17th August, come on by. Our event is at 5pm in Charlotte Square Gardens. I’ll be talking with another debut author, Jane Elson, whose novel is called ‘A Room Full of Chocolate’. It’s a gorgeous story about a girl called Grace who has to go to live with her grandfather when her mother finds a lump and needs treatment. Although Grace is worried and doesn’t want to stay with her grumpy grandfather, she meets a new friend and a pig called Claude. It’s more about wellies and friendships than chocolate but it’s lovely and so is Jane.
Tickets to our event are £4.50 and are available here: http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/415094-dreams-of-escape-with-jane-elson-and-emma-shevah/
There’s so much going on in Edinburgh in August: fringe theatre, comedy, music, book talk – it’s the place to be. I’ve only been once and that was years ago but we had a great time so I’m really looking forward to going again. Come if you can. I’d love to see you there.
Inspiration is one of my favourite words. It comes from the Latin word ‘spiritus’, meaning breath, which is where we get the words respire, expire and aspire. But it also means ‘soul’ – breath and soul are from the same root in Latin, Hebrew, Slavic, Chinese – there’s a whole list – hence the words spirit, spiritual, spirited.
The things that inspired me recently were certainly soulful things: Maya Angelou for one. She died this week having inspired so many with her wisdom, her writing, her ability to empower others, her strength to rise above the events in her early life and keep rising. I wish I’d known her, but I think one of her rare gifts was that she made the whole world feel as if they did know her. Through her work, through her words, through the energy she gave out and through footage we’ve seen of her, we feel her and are one with her. Her love and understanding, her compassion and empathy for humanity and her love of life infuse into my soul and somehow, she is as familiar to me as an aunt.
I was also inspired by a school – I visited Cassiobury Junior School in Watford this week and the feeling there was very special. The school itself has great facilities and grounds, but the teachers seemed happy, the children were happy and thriving, and there seemed to be the right balance of a relaxed learning environment and good management and organisation. I really enjoyed talking about being an author as part of their careers week and hope some of the Y3 children I spoke to feel inspired to be authors too when they grow up.
Lastly, I love the window in Pickled Pepper books in Crouch End – thank you so much to Urmi and Rachel for doing this. I didn’t even know they’d done it until my sister walked past, saw the window and sent me this photo. Independent bookshops back and promote authors in a way that online retailers can’t, and some of the big shops would never do unless you’re one of the five bestselling names that have been around for years, so go to them and buy your books, because you may pay a pound or two more but they’ll disappear if you don’t, and a bookshop is not only one of the most inspiring places you can spend an afternoon, you also take home in a bag (usually with a free bookmark) something that can inspire you for the rest of your life.
It’s been busy, silly busy, but at last things are slowing down a bit. Well, they’re not because I’m filling the tiny spaces in time with other things, as per usual, but at least I’m managing to get some writing done again.
Writing is so much fun. It’s like I’m let loose with my subconscious and anything can happen. Of course, there are parameters: I’m writing for 7-12 year olds and I need to remember that and not write about Kierkegaard, and I have a nebulous idea of where the story is going and what’s going to happen and I know in the back of my mind that I need to blinking well get on with it because the publisher is waiting, but otherwise, it’s like going to an inflatable play zone with my mind. I’m constantly amused and entertained (and sometimes worried about myself), and I love that.
I’ve also been doing some reading and researching and making connections between me, other people, the things around me in the world and the world of ideas and imagination that lie beyond, and it’s so fascinating, I’m having trouble sleeping. My brain is fizzing and foraging and going but what about THIS? And THAT? HAH! and my conscious mind is being an old-fashioned nanny and saying, ‘that’s quite enough now brain, settle down or I won’t take you for a stroll in your perambulator this eventide.’
Plus the sun is shining, which makes all the difference because it makes you feel like dancing with your daughter to Beyoncé (done) and making birthday cakes (going to do) because she’s turning 18 today and that’s just the maddest thing you’ve ever heard. But I must get back to writing or that book will never leave the inflatable play zone.
The lovely employees at Waterstones, Bromley recommended Dream on, Amber to a customer who was looking for a book to read and review for school.
The customer is called Sophie and she liked the book so much, she did this amazing review, which she then took in to Waterstones, who sent it on to Chicken House, who passed it on to me.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to Sophie for your review- it warmed my heart and made me smile a smile from here to here.
And thank you to the staff at Waterstones, Bromley. I really appreciate your support and recommendation.