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

Back on the Beach

Lucy has been in Wells for a couple of nights on a school trip, so Lynsey and I made the most of having a bit of time to ourselves. On Thursday we drove up to Holkham and pottered around for a bit, visiting the gorgeous pine forests and the endless beach. Holkham really is endless when the tide is out, I remember thinking that as a kid when you’d literally have to walk a mile or so from the dunes to the sea. It is beautiful there, though. After that we drove to Cromer to get some fish and chips from Mary Jane’s, the best F&C place on the coast, then went back into town and watched Watchmen. I have to say I really, really loved it, very faithful to the graphic novel and stunningly shot. The next couple of days we spent chilling out, which is always nice!

Lucy’s back now and we all went to see Monsters Vs Aliens at the weekend. OMG, the 3D is incredible! Gone are the days when you have a pair of rubbish paper glasses and are forced to watch the film in shades of lurid red and green and don’t really know what’s going on. This new 3D system uses clear, slightly tinted glasses so you get to watch the film in full colour (it’s only a tad darker than it would be without the glasses), and it really does look like it’s spilling out of the screen. I was so impressed, and judging by the ‘ooo’s and ‘aaaah’s coming from the packed cinema everybody else was too. It was a funny film, not amazing, but the 3D made it unmissable. There are so many films being made with the same system, including Tintin, Avatar and Pixar’s new one, Up. It really is a new dawn in filmmaking!

I Ache!

Kung Fu again last night and I ache all over! You’d have thought that after five weeks I’d be used to it, but evidently not. I bought ‘My Fitness Coach’ for the Wii the other week and used it for the first time yesterday – I couldn’t even finish the section where you’re supposed to measure your heartbeat by doing star jumps! But the diet has definitely started now (well, apart from the chili I cooked last night and the doughnut I had for pudding…) so wish me luck!

I Love My Couch!

I do, I really do. I love being away, too, but there’s something so nice about getting back home, crashing down on the sofa, and knowing you don’t have anything to do for a couple of weeks except play Silent Hill 5 and maybe do a bit of writing too. Heaven!

It’s been a great few weeks, though, and I have visited loads of fantastic schools. I started off with the Loreto College in St Albans, which was a terrifying prospect because it’s an all-girl school – and Furnace is very much a boy book! But they all seemed to enjoy the talk, even if some of them were a bit grossed out by the Wheezer (pictured above)! Thanks to all the staff and pupils for making me feel so welcome, especially Jan the librarian, and to those of you who came up afterwards to talk about your writing: good luck with it!

After St Albans came a mini-tour of Edinburgh and Motherwell. It’s so wonderful when I get the chance to go up to Scotland, and I wish I could do it more often (and I wish I had time to visit all my relatives when I was up this time, but alas it was a whirlwind trip). The schools were all fantastic, and everybody was so enthusiastic. The first talk was in the Wester Hailes Education Centre, which was an amazing place because they had a leisure centre in the middle of their school, complete with a proper leisure pool! I had a super audience, and a great host in the form of Anne the librarian (who was the craziest librarian I have ever met, and I mean that in a nice way)!

Next up was Portobello School, which was a smaller group but no less exciting. It was a little unusual as the chairs were laid out in a circle, with me in the middle, which meant by half way through the talk I was feeling a little sea sick from spinning around. It was great fun, though, and thanks to Margaret for arranging the visit!

That afternoon was the Royal High, which was also wonderful although the school library was like a Furnace (I don’t think it was a deliberate attempt to recreate the conditions of the book…). Combined with the fact that it was the last period before hometime, I think people were struggling to stay awake, but everybody stuck in there valiantly until the end and seemed to enjoy the talk. It was filmed, too, so I’ll try and post a version on the site soon! After the talk I did an interview for Teen Titles, which was great – a big thanks to Max and Lucy (I think!) for asking the great questions! Once we’d finished Evelyn very kindly drove me back into Edinburgh, and gave me a tour of some of the sights, including Fettes College (which I thought was a palace!!!) and Morningside, which is where J. K. Rowling has a house. We cruised around for a bit but we didn’t see her! After that all the tea I’d drunk that day caught up with me, so I had to cut the tour short and dash back to the hotel, but thanks so much Evelyn for showing me the sights of Edinburgh!

The following day I was in Motherwell. The first school was Caldervale High, which was fantastic because their teachers had read Snot out in class before I arrived. All the kids and staff were suitably grossed out by it, and there were loads of questions after the talk about why I came up with such a disgusting story! In the afternoon (after a lovely lunch in the staff room) I was whizzed over to Braidburst where I faced a much larger crowd in the school hall. Everyone was brill, especially the three boys who stayed behind to talk to me afterwards and have their photos taken! Thanks so much to all the staff and pupils in both schools for making it so much fun! And thanks too to Alison for driving me around Motherwell all day.

Anyway, that’s a brief summary of my lightning tour of Scotland, it was super! But it is wonderful to be home. I should be starting a new book, but I might just have a quick go on Silent Hill first…

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