Archive for February, 2012

Time Nearly Up!

I can’t believe that’s a whole month gone, already! I think just got time to squeeze in one last post…

March 1st  is World Book Day and like many other authors here in the UK, I’ll be spending my time trundling around  libraries in Manchester, telling people all about my latest book, Night On Terror Island. Looking forward a little, I see quite a few more school visits lined up for March, several book festivals through the spring and summer and on May 10th, I’ll be launching the sequel to NOTI, Spy Another Day, at the Plaza cinema in Stockport, where we’re expecting over 500 excited kids to attend. (I’m giving you a sneak preview of the cover art!) The Plaza is the perfect venue for the Movie Maniacs adventures. It’s an old 40’s cinema that’s been beautifully refurbished and we’re able to put the latest book trailer up on the big screen, it looks amazing! Looking way, way forward to September, I’ll be releasing the fourth and final Sebastian Darke adventure – Prince Of Fools. I’ve got mixed feelings about finally saying goodbye to Sebastian. he’s the guy who got me into this children’s publishing lark in the first place! Anyway, I guess that’s me about wrapped up. Thanks for letting me be your guest blogger for February. When you’re enjoying the New Zealand sunshine, think of me shivering away here in the cold, wet UK… and whatever you do, keep reading!

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New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2012 Finalists

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Join us for New Zealand Book Month

March is the month that we celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.  It’s New Zealand Book Month  – and we’ll have some special events and competitions to celebrate our fantastic authors and illustrators.  Stay tuned for:

  • Vote for your favourite New Zealand children’s author – everyone that votes goes in the draw to win a New Zealand book pack.
  • New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators answer our Fast Five questions.  Find out how books have changed the lives of our best authors.

There are also lots of other cool events happening in our libraries.  Find out more about our events on the library website.

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February Star Author – Philip Caveney

Our first Star Author for 2012 is British author, Philip Caveney.  Philip has been a children’s author since 2007 and has written several different series.  We have almost all of Philip’s books in the library including the Sebastian Darke series about a hapless would-be jester and his miserable sidekick, Max, and the Alex Devlin mysteries about a fifteen-year-old archaeologist, with a knack for encountering danger and intrigue, wherever he goes.  His latest book, Night on Terror Island, is all about movies.

Thanks for joining us Philip! We look forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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February Star Author Competition

Our fantastic Star Author this month is Philip Caveney.  Philip has written books in a couple of different series, including the Sebastian Darke and Alex Devlin series.  His latest series is the Movie Maniacs series, and the first book is called Night on Terror Island.

You can win a copy of Night on Terror Island in our February Star Author Competition.  Night on Terror Island is about a couple of kids who find themselves stuck in a movie, so we want you to tell us: If you could be trapped in a movie which one would you choose?  To get in the draw leave a comment on this post with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).  Competition closes Monday 27th February, 2012.

See below for terms and conditions  Read the rest of this entry »

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Steel Pelicans by Des Hunt

Back in November 2010, Des Hunt told us about a new story that he was working on, which he thought would be called Steel Pelicans.  He told us all about the characters, the setting and a little bit about the plot, but he didn’t know whether it was going to get published.  I’ve loved all of Des Hunt’s books so far and Steel Pelicans sounded like a really great story.  Now you can read the finished story.

Steel Pelicans is about two friends called Dean Steele and Pete Kelly who are the Steel Pelicans of the story.  The story starts in Wollongong, Australia where Dean and Pete have spent most of their life.  Dean gets them into all sorts of trouble, especially when it comes to mucking around with explosives.  Pete’s parents don’t like him hanging around with Dean, and when Pete’s grandmother in New Zealand becomes ill his family decide to move to Auckland to look after her.  Dean doesn’t want Pete to go and gets him involved in one last dangerous stunt before he leaves.  It’s not long before Pete becomes friends with Afi at his new school.  Pete’s parents approve of Afi and let Pete go and stay with Afi and his family at their batch in Port Waikato.  It’s here that Pete and Afi stumble on a smuggling operation and find themselves in deep trouble, which only gets worse when Dean comes over for the holidays.  They’re about to learn that they shouldn’t mess with the Redfern family.

Steel Pelicans is a classic Des Hunt story with all the adventure, mystery and danger that make his stories so good.  His stories are usually set just in New Zealand but this story starts in Australia as that’s where the two main characters are from.  One thing I like about his stories is that they have a real Kiwi feel about them and they’re set in different parts of the country, from the Coromandel to the West Coast to Port Waikato.  He always adds an ecological message into the story and this time it’s about fishing and Paradise Ducks.  I always finish his books knowing that I’ve read a great story and learnt a little bit about New Zealand wildlife at the same time.  I really liked the characters of Pete (or Pelly) and Dean.  They’re almost complete opposites but somehow are still best mates.  I liked how Des Hunt added a second friend into the mix because it created some conflict between the three boys.  Des Hunt also really knows how to write scumbag villains, whether they’re gang members or drug dealers, and you can imagine that they’re the sort of people who might live in your neighbourhood.  If you’re a fan of Des Hunt’s books you’ll love Steel Pelicans, but if you haven’t read any of his books then this one is a great one to start with.

Recommended for 9+     5 out of 5 stars

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If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid try these books

Have you read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and want something like them?  Have you been waiting ages to read them and want something to read while you wait?  Here’s a list of some books and authors you could try:

Try these series too:

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Cool new book trailers

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Getting Started

I’m often asked, what got me started in this weird old writing game? It’s a question I can answer with absolute accuracy. When I was a youngster, after my 11 Plus exams (as they were called in those days) I was sent to continue my education in a boarding school, while my parents (my dad was in the Royal Air Force) spent a couple of years working in Singapore. The boarding school was a cold, unfriendly place and I didn’t make many friends there. Consequently, I spent a lot of time in the school library, immersed in a book. One story in particular gripped my imagination. It was Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, a dark fantasy about two young boys who visit a really strange and disturbing carnival. I breathed the book in like oxygen and when I had finished it, I knew right then and there, that I wanted to be a writer myself, that I wanted to weave incredible dreams that would keep young readers spellbound as they devoured my words. I started straight away, creating short stories and showing them to everyone I met. The good news? It only took me ten years to learn how to do it well enough to sell my first novel! so I was wondering… do any you out there have a favourite book that makes you want to write? If so, drop me a line and let me know what it is and why it inspires you so!

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Going Electronic

The publishing world is going through one of the biggest changes in its history – in many areas, ink on paper is being replaced by text on screens. Some people are resistant to the idea, others embrace it. I have decided to follow the latter path. All of my children’s books are already available for the kindle and just recently, I decided to release a book exclusively for this exciting new format. Which means you’ll only find it at the kindle store. It’s called The Talent and I think of it very much as a crossover book, one that can be read by children and adults alike. Set in a rather gloomy future UK, it tells the story of Josh and Holly, two would-be pop stars, who decide that their only hope for a brighter future is to enter… and hopefully win, The Talent, a nationwide, government-sponsored show that offers fame and fortune to the lucky winner. But they soon discover that in this corrupt world, even The Talent doesn’t offer the level playing field they had hoped for…       Of course, it’s debatable how many younger readers actually own a kindle and I’m well aware that many people hate the idea of reading a book in this way. So I was wondering, what do you think about the subject? How many of you have already begun to read your books in this way? And how many would prefer to hang on to your paper books until the bitter end? Why not drop me a line and let me know what you think on the subject? I promise to answer every comment.

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Guest Author: Amy Brown, author of the Pony Tales series

The first pony I rode was called Johnny.  The size of a St Bernard dog, and brownish black, Johnny was a Timor pony, who belonged, I think, to a family that lived a few baches down from ours. I don’t remember exactly, because I was four years old at the time. This memory comes mostly from a photo of myself in a sundress, sitting on Johnny’s back, my jandals dangling next to his sides as Dad leads him along Ocean Beach[1].  I do remember being enchanted by Johnny’s kind, dark eyes with the sun-bleached lashes, and his sweet, horsy smell.

This, Mum tells me, was the beginning of the obsession.  Dad bought himself a dapple-grey gelding called Poncho.  He kept his horse at Mahara Riding School, run by a man called Mr Green. Mr Green ate molasses (a black syrup) on bread and slept in the tack room.  He lived with his horses and knew, I thought, everything about them.  Soon, Dad wanted to go to shows, sports days and one-day events.  He needed a horse float and a vehicle heavy enough to tow a horse float. Edward, our yellow sedan, would not do.

When a farmer called Mr White advertised a horse float and Ford Falcon in the Classifieds section of the newspaper, my father called him.  At the inspection, we decided the car should be named The Shark, as it was great and white.  Before we left, Mr White asked my father, ‘Would your daughter like a pony, to go with the float?’ Dad looked at me. It had been agreed that I would not have a pony of my own until I was at least eight. I was five. But, a little bay gelding called Twinks was being offered for free! He was sixteen years old and needed a retirement home, so we took him to Mahara Riding School to live with Poncho and Mr Green’s many horses.

Like Jade, the heroine of Pony Tales, I acquired my first pony unexpectedly. The only other things I have in common with Jade are being an only child and loving pony books, especially old English ones like Jill’s Gymkhana, National Velvet and Pony Club Cup.  As a ten-year-old I read a range of books; I enjoyed Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy, Maurice Gee and Jack Lasenby.  But, when I’d had my tonsils out and needed comfort, I reached for an old favourite with a horse on the cover.  I wrote four books about Jade’s adventures with her ponies Pip and Taniwha because when I was younger this was the kind of book I most enjoyed reading.

We have all of Amy’s Pony Tales books in the library, including Jade at the Champs, Jade and the Hunters and her latest book, Jade’s Summer of Horses.

[1] Ocean Beach is the setting of Jade’s Summer of Horses, the latest book in the Pony Tales series.

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Greetings From The UK!

Hi everyone. I’m Philip Caveney and I’ll be your Star Author for February. I’m starting on this blogging malarky at a very interesting time in my writing career. I’ve just returned from three days touring around the schools and libraries of London promoting Night On Terror Island, the first book in my Movie Maniacs series. The book tells the story of a very special little cinema – The Paramount Picture Palace, where the new projectionist Mr Lazarus can put you in the movies… quite literally! But watch out! When you are ‘in’ a movie, everything is real… and if you don’t get out before the closing credits roll, you’ll never be able to leave. My publishers, Andersen Press, have created an exciting cinema-style trailer for the book, which you can view right here!

I’d love to hear what you think about it… so please let me know! And stay tuned for more posts from the cold and rainy UK. If you’d like to know a bit more about me and my books, visit my website at

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