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

A Tribute to Bowser

No, I don’t mean Mario’s nemesis, I mean my car. I’m always astonished how easy it is to become attached to inanimate objects. Even though the logical part of your brain is telling you that a car is a hunk of metal and plastic and other lifeless materials, that it cannot possibly hear what you are saying or feel any semblance of human emotion, you still cannot help but think of it as alive, as a living, breathing, thinking, feeling thing.

Which is why, when you have to give up a car, it can be like losing a best friend, a member of the family.

Bowser has been my faithful Volvo V40 for four years now, it has carried me many thousands of miles and joined me on many an adventure. But sadly the week before last his engine went totally bonkers and he started trying to drive himself. Literally trying to drive himself. He was moving forward even when I didn’t have my foot on the accelerator. At first I thought that the many years of wishing my car was alive had paid off and he had actually become a sentient vehicle. However, the people at the garage told me his throttle was shot and that he basically needed a new engine. I felt a bit like how Gepetto would have felt if, after witnessing his puppet come to life, somebody had said “actually, he’s not alive at all, sorry about that. By the way, if you ever want to use him again it will cost you £3,000”. Gutted.

Bowser was my second car, after a little red Dihatsu Charade called Clint which I bought from my friend Luke after uni (and yes, that’s where Clint in The Inventors got his name from)! I couldn’t really justify spending more money to fix him than I paid to buy him in the first place, so I said my sad farewells and traded him in for another car. But that moment when I patted him on the steering wheel for the last time, gently closed his door and said goodbye was heartbreaking!

Anyway, I’m welling up again now, but I just wanted to write a tribute to Bowser, the best car in the world. Thanks for everything. I’ll miss you!

And even though my new car is pretty cool, it doesn’t have an ejector seat / rockets / wings and a turn-into-a-boat button like Bowser (okay, you can’t really see them on this picture, but he did!):

Room With a View

Hello everybody! It’s been a good long while since my last entry (which is becoming a rather standard first line in my blogs recently) but I have been on tour again so I do have an excuse! But right now I’m sitting in my new office (the picture above is the view from my window, which isn’t great I have to admit but that is a field you can kind of see in the distance) with a bit of spare time so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to catch up!

Why the new office? Well, I usually work from home, which is absolutely perfect most of the time. However, anybody who works from home will be able to tell you that it is often quite difficult to motivate yourself to do any work at all. “Working from home” becomes more like “washing up from home” or “doing laundry from home” or, more usual for me “playing on the X-Box from home”. There’s just something about getting out of bed and strolling through to the living room that really doesn’t feel like work.

So… Tired of not getting much done, I decided to look for an office. And it was good timing, as two great friends of mine, Luke and Nathan, were also looking for a space to work in that was far enough from the telly (or in Luke’s case a new baby) to be conducive to a little hard work. Luke discovered an old shoe factory just down the road from us that was offering rooms on the cheap, and after a quick look round we took it! It is a fantastic space, and the building itself is very inspiring (well, for horror stories, that is, as it’s full of creepy corridors and shadowy old factory floors). I’ll take some more piccies soon and post them here.

I haven’t had much of a chance to use the office yet (which Luke affectionally named The Garret), as I’ve been so busy on tour. But I have been sitting here today and it’s been so nice to have a space without any distractions (apart from Facebook, and drawing hilarious but inappropriate gags about Nathan on the new blackboard wall…) and I have actually managed to get loads of stuff done!

Anyway, speaking of the tour, I just want to say a huge thanks to everybody who came to see me talk, and who joined in the workshops, I have had an amazing time! I’ll write about it in more detail very soon, but for now let me just give a shout out to all the pupils, teachers and librarians at Edenham School, Oasis Academy, the Archbishop Lanfranc School, the Archbishop Tennison School, Harris Academy and Riddlesdown Collegiate in Croydon, Christ’s College in Guildford, Seven Stories in Newcastle, the Durham Festival, the Richmond Festival, Worksop Library (and the school that came to visit) and Buxton Library! I think that’s everyone… Two more events to go and then I’m taking some time off to do some writing! It has been an amazing month though!

Right, I’m off to Kung Fu, see you all soon!