… author of Escape From Furnace, The Fury, The Inventors, and the brand new Devil's Engine series

I’m Back!

Oh dear, my first blog post in six weeks. The emperor of the Galactic Federation of Bloggers will be round here threatening to deport me to a blogger’s prison colony on an asteroid orbiting some far-off star. No, please give me one last chance! I’ll make up for it with a long entry right now!

I do have a reasonably good excuse for having been absent, I’ve been on holiday! No foreign shores for me, though, or exotic volcanoes, or sunny beaches. I was at Centerparcs… I took Jamie and Lynsey and Lucy there a couple of years ago and I’ve been promising Jamie for AGES that I’ll take him back. So we went!

I have to say that I absolutely love Centerparcs. We went to the one in Thetford, Suffolk, as we always do. For anyone who’s ever been you’ll know what it’s like, loads of wooden cabins in the forest, and this huge village in the middle of them packed full of cool stuff. Of course the best thing there is the pool, which really is this vast tropical paradise full of shoots and rapids and wave machines and bubble pools. It’s actually better going in the winter than in the summer, as a) it’s soooooo nice climbing into the hot water when you’ve just come in from the cold, and b) when it gets dark outside the entire pool is mirrored in the glass ceiling so it gives the illusion that you’re floating underwater. Beautiful!

Jamie and I actually were underwater for parts of the holiday, as we decided to give scuba diving a go. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life! Admittedly it would have been better if we’d been diving in a coral reef with cool fish to look at instead of the bottom of the pool, but even so it was a real adventure. Being able to glide through the water without coming up for air, or just drift upside down beneath the surface watching the bubbles rise, is so magical. We played tag, threw an underwater Frisbee, swam through hoops and just had a whale of a time, literally.

We’re definitely both going to try and complete our PADI open water course now, which will let us dive anywhere in the world. So exciting! Although it is just a little bit scary. I panicked once when my mouth filled with water and I tried to breathe in. It’s fine when you’re two feet below the surface, but I wouldn’t like to be in that position with thirty metres of water above me… Still, I wouldn’t let that put me off!

So, other than the scuba diving we spent most of our time in the pool and going down the rapids. Lucy didn’t want to go down them, and I kept telling her how much fun they’d be. It was only on the last day that she braved them, then she didn’t want to stop! I’m covered in bruises from where we were all wrestling each other to get to the bottom first, including actual fingerprints running up both arms! I look like a leopard.

Other than that we just chilled out in the cabin, playing the Game of Life quite a bit (and Monopoly, which almost resulted in physical combat). There was a quiz machine in the village, which was cool, and Lynsey and I spent hours at a time on that. We won fifteen quid on the first day… then nothing after than. It must have remembered who we were. There was so much to do there, but we were so knackered each night from all the swimming that most of the time we just had dinner then fell asleep by 10!

Oh, and I have to mention the ducks and the squirrel that congregated outside our cabin every morning. They were so cute! The squirrel was so tame that it kept trying to come in, even when it had to climb over Jamie and Lucy to do so! There was even a baby deer grazing outside our window.

It really was a fantastic holiday, especially as it is my first, and only, one this year. None of us wanted to come home, and as soon as we did we all succumbed to flu. Obviously Jamie and I had it worst because we had man flu. Horrible stuff.

So now it’s back to work, although I don’t have a huge amount to do right now. Furnace: Lockdown has gone to the printers, so it’s totally out of my hands now. The most terrifying part of the whole process is when you finally sign off on the finished manuscript, you always think ‘but what if I’ve missed something? What if there are still loads of mistakes? Oh my god I’d better have another read through’ and you end up reading it and reading it and reading it until you wouldn’t notice an error if it took up the whole page. The American copyeditor did actually spot a chronology error which I managed to change seconds before it got sent to the printers, so thank you for that! Furnace: Solitary has been typeset and I’ll be proof editing that next week. Furnace: Death Sentence is with my editor now and probably won’t be back until next year.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces for the US edition, which is now called Escape From Furnace (because, as Wes, my fantastic editor over there, pointed out, in the States everybody has a furnace in their basement which heats up the house and isn’t very scary at all!). I love the new title, and the book also has a gripping new prologue. I can’t believe that it will be out over there in less than a year. How awesome is that?!

So yes, it’s nice to have a bit of time off now before Christmas. I’ve got loads of DIY that I’ve been meaning to do for, well, the last ten years or so. I might even go and get the tree today. Yay! I hope you’re all looking forward to the festive season.

So, that entry should keep the Galactic Federation of Bloggers at bay for now. I will try and stay more regular from now on. My gran tells me that a glass of prune juice every morning will help, although I can’t for the life of me see how…