Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Hello readers of textbooks, readers of fun books and readers of this here blog. Chris is back in the blog seat this week and he has lots and lots to tell you.

I’ve been travelling round Scotland quite a bit since I spoke to y’all last; Moray with Simon Bartram, Argyll & Bute with Chris Mould (you can now listen to our exclusive chat with Chris) and I have just returned from a weekend away in a remote lighthouse on Wester Ross.

It was a wild place: single track roads, horizontal rain, gale force winds that could blow you off your feet, stunning lightning storms, power-cuts and fresh hens eggs. I would recommend it to anyone who is brave (or stupid enough) to venture that far into the wilderness. I love travelling round this country, it’s amazingly beautiful and it constantly changes and on a road trip or tour you get to see so much that you just wouldn’t see or know about, The Drovers Inn, McCaig’s Tower or Rua Reidh.

I have just arrived back in the office following a fantastic event at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh with literary genius, Neil Gaiman, who flew up from London to do this special event for us. Neil was talking about his new book The Graveyard Book, a dark and spooky tale that will send tremors down your spine and have you hooked from the very first page. It was such a pleasure and privilege to meet such a hugely talented author. Celia, from the children’s team, was lucky enough to get to interview Neil (she is a massive, massive fan) and this will be up on the website soon so keep your ears cleaned out.

But all of these things are in the past and at the moment I am working like only a member of Scottish Book Trust knows how on a variety of projects. Of course there is the Royal Mail Awards, fast drawing to a close, votes flooding in but a huge ceremony to organise (its gonna rock)in Aberdeen. But I am not the only one who is working hard on the Royal Mail Awards, children right across Scotland have been reading the books, discussing them, voting for them and some like this lot from St Joseph’s College in Dumfries have been videoing and blogging about them. The videos are completely brilliant, crazy music, dazzling costumes and wonderful camera angles – you should not miss them and the best bit is that there is even more to come!

We also have a Halloween event with Vivian French in the spooky Caves on Friday complete with fancy dress and atmospheric lighting that promises to be a huge amount of fun. So I guess its all hard work with a few fun things thrown in there too.

Witch reminds me, as Halloween is almost upon us, we have this special feature from Debi Gliori who tells us her Top 5 Scary Places:

1 Any knife-edge mountain ridge. I am the kind of wussy hillwalker that lies down and sobs with acute vertigo when I find that the only way onwards is across one of these things. The only other option being turn back, descend and cross a field of cows. A knife-edge mountain ridge is one of those crumbly things about as wide as your boot with a sheer drop on either side. That's 'sheer' as in 'killer'.
Examples - An Teallach, Liathach Ben Ailligin( sp?), and just about everything in the Cuillins on Skye. Why do I go to these places if they scare me? Because clambering up to the roof of Scotland is the best fun this woman has ever had, even if it scares me witless.
2 Anywhere in front of a microphone in front of an audience. I may look as if I'm cool, calm and collected, but inside I'm a sobbing blob of terror.
3 Walking along the corridor in my house after dark when my partner Michael isn't home. I jump at shadows, imagine axe-murderers, hear rustlings...how pathetic am I?
4 Walking into the 'Lounge Bar' in Lerwick on the island of Shetland with my fiddle in hand to join in with the frighteningly talented Shetland Fiddlers. The only seat left in the entire bar was right in the middle of these geniuses. This is a bit like an enthusiastic amateur tennis player walking onto centre court at Wimbledon. Or a useless hillwalker like me heading off up to the summit of Everest.
5 Some nameless underground station in the bowels of New York City.
The platform was no wider than my handbag, there were rats running on the line below and I felt as if I had a big sign over my head saying "This woman is lost. Please steal her handbag and fling her off the platform for the rats to eat". Of course, this didn't happen. A complete stranger said 'Hey, Lady. You look lost. Can I hep' you?'.

Which only goes to show that the scariest places are inside your own imagination.

After all this I am going back on the road, heading north to see my niece for the first time and I might try and go surfing with a couple of friends.

Things im enjoying
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Conor Oberst
Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain on Audiobook
The West Wing

Quote of the week
"Writing is acting for shy people" - Neil Gaiman

Monday, 20 October 2008

"Duct tape... I LOVE duct tape!"

Hello! Celia here, the newest member of the children’s team, and gosh I’ve been busy since I arrived (that's not me on the left by the way - watch the video below if you don't know who it is!).

I’ve been all over the place. I went with the team to Keith Gray’s event in Fife, the Royal Mail Awards event in Moray, just over the road to The Scottish Storytelling Centre for Joan Lingard’s event and a few weeks ago we had an event with the brilliant Cornelia Funke in the Glasgow Film Theatre. I’ve read Inkheart, the first of her trilogy and I was completely hooked. It’s perfect for anyone who’s ever wished characters from books could walk right off the page, but then again, be careful what you wish for… Inkdeath, the latest and last tome in the Inkheart trilogy has just been released, and it is weighty enough to stun a burglar (not that I am suggesting that you should hit people with books.)

Four hundred kids listened to Cornelia Funke do a reading from her book in her soft German accent, and then watched the trailer for the new Inkheart film on the big screen! Afterwards she had plenty of time to answer everyone’s questions.

The film is out in the UK on 12th December and I think you’ll agree it looks pretty darn good:

That day there was also some excitement as a bat was found nestled above one of the pipes in our old building. He was quickly nicknamed Marlon (after another talkative bat in Vivian French’s Robe of Skulls). Bats are a protected species, so the helpful people at the Bat Conservation Trust instructed us to move the sleepy little guy to a box, feed him some water and then release him at dusk. We’re thinking of getting a bat box so if he comes back he’ll have somewhere to stay.

So what’s up next? Well, events with Neil Gaiman, Vivian French at Halloween (spooky), Malorie Blackman and Kenneth Steven. Can’t wait!

We have also received a recommendation from one of our Teen Ambassadors for a series she says got her into reading:

"The Percy Jackson Series is a series of books written by Rick Riordan.
They focus on a boy named Percy Jackson. In the first book we find out that his life is more than meets the eye, for not only is his father a Greek God, he is rumoured to be one of the "Big Three". His life is now destined for dangerous quests and some very strange meetings with members of the mythological world.

I found this series of books very imaginative and thoroughly enjoyed them as it opened my eyes to Greek mythology which I now find very interesting and enjoyable. I love these books and cannot wait until the next one comes out." - Annabel of Armadale Academy

See you soon!
Children's Programme Assistant and part-time bat handler

'Children's writers do good stuff for readers' story of the week!
In November, bidders on eBay will be given the opportunity to own an original
Emily Gravett illustration, a rare first edition set of Darren Shan novels or appear as a character in the next Cliff McNish book. These are just a few of the long list of pledges that children’s writers and illustrators have generously donated for the IBBY World Congress Benefit auction. What's IBBY? I hear you ask. Find out here.