Tuesday, 12 August 2008

How do I love books? In many, many ways...

Why is it that at the beginning of the summer holidays it seems like the school year will never start again, and then towards the end you are left wondering what happened to all that time? Here we are again: in Scotland schools start again next Monday (if you’re reading this south of the border count yourself lucky! You have another 2 weeks to go!)

The school holidays for us are our quiet time: to plan our forthcoming autumn projects and events (keep an eye out for our autumn schedule … we’ve got some really fantastic authors appearing) and to think about what we’d like to do in the coming year, and how we’re going to do it!

Next week sees the re-launch of our Writer in Residence programme, in which writer Keith Gray is getting the best teen fiction writers to write short stories appearing exclusively on our website … just up is Marcus Sedgwick’s story … have a read if you haven’t come across it already. A spooky tale about a near-death experience – not to be missed! But the best thing about the project is that we want teenagers aged 12-16 to send in their own stories … and as it’s all online you don’t have to be based up here in Scotland to enter. Go to the competition information here.

It may be quiet in our office but outside Edinburgh is bustling, bursting at the seams with festival attendees and performers. I’ll be at the book festival later this week for Lari Don’s event about her First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts, a fabulous tale including a centaur, a fairy, a Pheonix, a journey from the Borders to Orkney and back again and, best of all, a really feisty heroine.

Festival season is also party season, and I went to my first last night, the launch of Joan Lingard’s new book from Catnip, The Eleventh Orphan, a happy and chatty evening in Joan’s own house, making it a really special atmosphere. What I love about a book launch is buying your crisp, brand new copy and getting it signed – a really special thing to keep.

One of the best things about this job is that brand new, often not-yet-published books arrive on mine, Jasmine’s and Chris’s desk every day, and, although I’m not nearly as efficient as Chris and Jasmine at getting through them, the summer is a great time to catch up on some overdue reading! I’m very much enjoying Life, Interrupted by Damian Kelleher (due to be published by Piccadilly Press in January), although I know it’s going to make me weep. I’m also taken with Joe Donnelly’s original blend of thriller writing and fantasy in the second of his Jack Flint trilogy, Jack Flint and the Spellbinder’s Curse. Debi Gliori’s new picture book, The Trouble with Dragons, a timely warning about human destruction of the earth, is absolutely stunning. Finally my colleague handed me the latest Diana Wynne Jones book, The House of Many Ways, last week. I am a HUGE fan and exercising the largest degree of self restraint in saving it for a long plane journey on Friday! I cannot wait!

Children's Programme Manager

Next week: author Marcus Sedgwick drops in to the blog...

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