Sunday, 25 February 2018

The First Emperor Comes to Liverpool

Now you don't have to go all the way to China to find out about the setting for The Dragon Path.

A magnificent exhibition about the First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors has just arrived at the World Museum in Liverpool and will be there until October 2018.

I was lucky enough to see the terracotta warriors and the other treasures from the site around the tomb on my research trip to China, but I will definitely be calling in at this exhibition. Luckily I have a few trips to Liverpool coming up when I'll be visiting my amazing Patron of Reading School, Kensington Community Primary School, so I should have chance to pop in soon.

Even if you can't get to Liverpool to see the exhibition in person, do have a look at the museum website - there are some fascinating short videos all about it.

If you go to the exhibition, I'd love to know what you think! I'm pretty sure you will be amazed!

Find out more about the exhibition here.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Research Secrets

I was delighted to be interviewed for the Research Secrets feature of the brilliant magazine Writers' Forum. Look out for next month's issue if you would like to read all about my research for Secrets of the Tombs, including some of my top research tips!

Friday, 4 August 2017

A Thread Running Through

One of the best parts of my job is getting involved with schools and helping to spread the buzz of reading and creative writing.  A Thread Running Through, a fantastic anthology of student's creative writing and illustrations - all related in some way to themes, locations, characters or ideas from Secrets of the Tombs. The work covers all sorts of genres from horror to rom com, and formats from poems to short stories and even play scripts. Ranging from immortality to archaeology, from exploration to discovery, from skeletons to curses, from love to friendship to treachery and back again, there's truly something for everyone in this book -  and you'd be amazed at some of the new adventures Cleo and Ryan find themselves facing!
reading and writing for pleasure. I'm especially proud of having been Author in Residence at Litcham School in Norfolk this year, where we've been working together to produce

A great deal of work over the year culminated in a truly beautiful book (with a cover brilliant designed by one of the students, Fred Foulkes), which we launched with a special assembly and a party in June. It was a wonderful day and really exciting to see the students enjoying that magical feeling of seeing their work in print and holding an actual copy of their actual book in their hands.

Huge congratulations to everyone who contributed, and a big thank you to all the school staff who were so helpful, to Swaffham Rotary Club for supporting the project, and most of all to Cathy Berry, Litcham School librarian, who make the whole thing happen and worked so hard to see it through.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Class Reader?

If you are a Y5/6/7 teacher who would like to read The Phoenix Code with your class, Cornerstones have published a great guided reading pack.

"Cornerstones Love to Read teaching guide for The Phoenix Code*, packed with ideas for classroom activities that encourage children to talk about their reading.
The Phoenix Code is an exotic adventure story told with momentum and full of fun, action and discovery. It features two likeable teenage characters that younger children should have no problem associating with. Some of the plot details could be a little tricky for some children to remember."

If you do read The Phoenix Code together, I'd love to hear how you get on.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The world of The Serpent King on the BBC

Photograph from BBC website
The incredible landscapes of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico provide the backdrop for The Serpent King. If you would like to find out all about this amazing place - the forests, cenotes, ruined cities and wildlife, do watch Mexico: Earth's Festival of Life (Episode 2) on BBC1. I'm watching it now, and reliving my research trip to Mexico two years ago. It even features Calakmul, the setting for Cleo and Ryan's adventures. You can hear howler monkeys and see divers exploring cenotes jsut like the one where Cleo and Ryan find the White Finder Tree - the sacred secret world of Xib'alb'a.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Ancient Egypt Comes to Birmingham

I always enjoy school visits, but it was an extra special treat to visit Lyndon Green Junior School in Birmingham this week.

Y5 have been studying Ancient Egypt this term, and they've all been reading The Phoenix Code too. The children were all so incredibly knowledgeable and full of amazing questions. We had a lovely time chatting about books and how to write mystery stories.  You are very lucky to have such amazing teachers in your school who really promote the joy of reading and learning.

Can you spot the red herring?

So many questions, so little time!
I'd love to hear your thoughts about The Phoenix Code as you read more of the story. Who do you think stole the Benben Stone? What is that strange soapy smell? How many different birds can you spot? What is Nathan Quirk up to? Will Ryan ever escape that curse? 

And maybe you'll send me some of your own Ancient Egyptian mystery stories so I can read them? I have a feeling they're going to be spectacular!

I was so impressed by all the amazing displays about Egypt on the walls and can't resist sharing some of them here. Keep up the good work and thank you to all at Lyndon Green -  staff, students and parents who came along the book signing at the end -  for your warm welcome and support.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Table of the Tombs

One of the best things about writing the Secrets of the Tombs series was the chance to visit some fabulous parts of the world to research the settings for each book.

Karnak Temple

Terracotta Army

I came back with photographs, maps, tickets, brochures, menus from all the wonderful things I'd seen. While I was writing each book, I would have lots of them pinned up on the corkboard above my desk.

When I'd finished the books I was left with a question; what should I do with all those mementos now? I couldn't bear to throw them away. For a while they lived in a box on my desk but that took up a lot of room. I thought about a scrap book, but then, I had a brainwave.

For many years, the old pine coffee table in our living room had been getting tattier and tattier. Two kids, two dogs and a distinct lack of polishing action had taken their toll on what was not exactly the pinnacle of furniture perfection in the first place

So, some sanding down,

a large piece of glass, some cutting out and a lot of arranging bits of paper, later, I present The Secrets of the Tombs table . . .

The final result . . . The Table of the Tombs