Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Bluffer's Guide to Greek Mythology

Chairete! I'm giving a short talk on Greek Myth for the How To: Academy. Come and join! Details here.

Autumn round up of children's books

Here's my autumn round up of children's books for the Telegraph. Read it here.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bath Festival of Children's Literature & War Girls review

This year I'll be appearing at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature; the Telegraph asked me to do a round up of some of the authors who are also doing events, from September 26th to October 5th. The round up is in the paper today, (not online yet - I'll post it when it appears) and features:

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah
Wild Boy and the Black Terror by Rob Lloyd Jones
The Tornado Chasers by Ross Montgomery
Secret Agent Mummy by Steve Cole
Boy Face and the Tartan Badger by James Campbell
Papa Chagall, Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt

My review of War Girls, a collection of short stories about girls in the First World War, published by Andersen, was cut, so I've pasted it here below:
 
 War Girls: A Collection of First World War Stories (Andersen Press, 258pp, £6.99), is a welcome addition to the reams of books commemorating the Great War. The nine stories here cover a wide range of the feminine perspective: among them Berlie Doherty’s outstanding “Sky Dancer”, in which a young singer goes to the front to entertain troops; Anne Fine’s tightly-wound “Piercing the Veil” which deals with spiritualism; and Theresa Breslin’s finely-cut “Shadow and Light”, about an artistic ambulance driver. All nine engage thoughtfully with the battles that girls faced: to love, to work, and to become themselves whilst all around the world exploded.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Launch of Dan Jones' The Hollow Crown

Dan Jones: Moody
Evenin' all! Despite the fact that it seems like no time at all since his last book, last night I went to the launch of Dan Jones' new historical tome, The Hollow Crown, at the Rook and Raven Gallery near Tottenham Court Road. It was very hot. As these photographs on the Tatler website will attest. Obviously, both Anna Friel and Heston Blumenthal were in attendance. I wonder if I missed the canapés because they were all shaped like something else? Oh well.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Summer reading 2014

Samuel Pepys: salty
These are the books I'm lugging with me for my week away. I'll be delving, as usual, into Samuel Pepys, and savouring his salty, vivid prose, although it does sometimes feel rather Sisyphean. Henry Green's first novel, Blindness, was written whilst he was still at school; I hope to be left very jealous. I'm revisiting Aldous Huxley, having chanced upon After Many a Summer recently; I'm taking Eyeless in Gaza, his most sincere novel. A classic I've never looked at, and timely given the publication of the final volume, is Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts.

Concerning contempory fiction: Continuing my attempts to catch up on Hilary Mantel's backlist before her next book comes out, I've got Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, a study of isolation in Jeddah. I love those sinister, eerie earlier works. Having loved, as many did, Middlesex, I've left off reading Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot for ages, so that's coming too, and for similar reasons, Don DeLillo's Libra, another author whose works I'm hungrily devouring. Zadie Smith's NW friends assure me is brilliant so she's along for the ride.

I'm also very much looking forward to two works of non-fiction: Peter Stothard's Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra, and Helen Macdonald's already bestselling H is for Hawk. I've  read T H White's The Goshawk in preparation, and am tempted to get my own hawk. I wonder if they'll let it through customs?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Photographs by Izzy Mathie

These photographs were taken by Izzy Mathie, who interviewed me today as part of an ongoing project.

The interview, and videos of readings from THE BROKEN KING, will be appearing soon.



Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My inspiration: T H White's Once and Future King

I've written a piece for The Guardian about T H White's The Once and Future King. You can read it here. It follows S F Said's My Inspiration piece, about Ursula Le Guin.