Sunday, 20 November 2011

Grk and the Phoney Macaroni

The next Grk book, the eighth in the series, will be published in the UK in March 2012.

Tim and Grk go to the land of pizza, pasta and the leaning tower of Pisa...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Grk in the Evening Standard

I was amazed and delighted to see Grk on the front page of the Evening Standard yesterday...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Review of The Island of Thieves

There was a lovely review of The Island of Thieves in The Times last week, written by Amanda Craig.
Josh Lacey made a name for himself with his charmingly Tintinesque adventures about a boy and his dauntless dog, Grk. In The Island of Thieves, Tom Trelawney is foisted on his irresponsible Uncle Harvey while his exhausted parents go abroard for a week.

Uncle and nephew share the same nose - not least for mischief. Harvey, an inept conman, just hapens to have stumbled on a tantalising diary about treasure buried by Sir Francis Drake in Peru, so the pair head to South America. Harvey, however, owes a criminal a lot ofmoney and is told he must repay him with the treasure, or die. Luckily the vital clue is being used in a remote Peruvian toilet...

Funny and action packed, this well-paced, smartly written crime caper is just the thing for boys of 8+. Uncle Harvey is a wonderful comic creation; more, please.
If you're a subscriber, you can read the whole article behind the paywall.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Kindle

I'm pleased to say that I've now got a book available for the Kindle: my novel Bearkeeper can be bought from Amazon for the frankly bargain price of £1.99 (or just over three dollars if you're in the States).


Friday, 22 July 2011

Books for Keeps

The Island of Thieves is "book of the week" on Books for Keeps; in their (lovely!) review, they describe it as "one of the best children’s adventure stories of the year".

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Death in children's literature

I've written an article for We Love This Book, a new magazine published by the Bookseller. Here are the first three paragraphs.

There comes a moment in every child’s life when they understand that everyone dies: not just pets, or neighbours, or relatives, but even themselves. It’s a terrible, terrifying realisation – life is never the same again once you know that you have to die – so it’s no wonder that children’s books are full of death.

Without death, many great heroes of children’s literature wouldn’t even have a story to tell. If their mothers and fathers had lived, Harry Potter wouldn’t be banished to 4 Privet Drive, the Baudelaires wouldn’t suffer a series of unfortunate events, Mary Lennox wouldn’t come near the secret garden, and James would never grow a giant peach.

But death is much more than a plot device. From a surprisingly young age, most children want to know the answers to questions about death and the afterlife. Why do I have to die? What will happen to me? Fiction allows children to articulate the fears and anxieties about mortality that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

You can pick up the magazine in bookshops, or read the whole article on the website.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Winchester

New event: I'll be at P&G Wells Bookshop in Winchester at 3pm on Sunday 3rd July, reading from The Island of Thieves and signing books. See you there!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Kew

I'm going to doing several events over the next few weeks to mark the publication of The Island of Thieves. If you're anywhere near the lovely Kew Bookshop on Thursday 7 July, please come along and say hi.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Island of Thieves

How long does it take to write a book? I've just written a short piece here about the length of time that I took to write my new book, The Island of Thieves.

The book itself is published next month; here's the cover...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Glass Collector

I recently reviewed The Glass Collector, Anna Perera's second novel, a story about the Zabbaleen, the rubbish sifters and collectors who inhabit a Cairo slum named Mokattam.

My review is here, but if you're interested on the book or its subject, I'd suggest you read Leslie Wilson's review first. As she explains, she has visited Mokattam and knows the subject well:
I was with my husband, who is a consultant in Wastes Management with a special interest in the informal sector, and a group of waste experts that included some informal recyclers from India and South Africa. We were welcomed into the workshops and saw the recycling of plastic and textiles; we also visited the 'recycling school' where boys and girls can earn a living as well as learning to read and write. It's a cheerful building, whose bright blue paint made a brave show in the November sunshine. I was deeply impressed by the Zaballeen's expertise, their hard work and cheerfulness, and their hospitality - and moved by their problems.
Her review is in Armadillo magazine; you'll find it here. I wish I'd read it before I wrote my own.

She also discusses a film called Garbage Dreams, which sounds fascinating; a documentary about the Zaballeen which Leslie describes as "sensitive, moving, and totally engaging". It's the sort of film that should be on TV, but probably won't, so I'm going to have track down a DVD.

(The amazing picture is by a photographer named Bas Princen: I don't know him, or anything about him, but I took it - without permission, I'm afraid - from this website, which has more of his fabulous photos.)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Some books

I went into a bookshop recently and spent a long time wandering through the fiction shelves, searching for a novel to read. I went through crime, sf, children's books and general fiction, skimming titles, reading a few pages here and there, but nothing sprang out at me. I don't know where the problem lies; have I become tired of fiction? Are novels losing their fizz? Or was I looking at a particularly uninspiring selection? I don't think so: this was a fairly big bookshop with long lines of shelves.

I eventually left with two books. Both were in the Psychology section, although neither should have been; they're both what would probably be described as "creative non-fiction" and so, perhaps, unclassifiable. One has proved to be brilliant; the other interesting and worthwhile.

The first was a wonderful book by Tim Parks about his struggles with illness: Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing. It's funny, clever, illuminating, intriguing, surprising and highly recommended. Teach Us to Sit Still describes how he lived in a state of agony for many years, trying all kinds of conventional medical techniques, before finally, reluctantly, sceptically, turning to meditation. To his astonishment, it worked. To my astonishment, this book actually made me want to start meditating. I haven't yet. It also made me want to read more Parks; I've read a couple of his non-fiction books before, but none of his novels; I'm now going to remedy that.

Then I read The Case for Working with Your Hands: or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good by Matthew Crawford. (Which was published in the US as Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work; the British title was changed because we have no idea what "shop class" means.) Not a perfect book by any means, but fascinating in places; he mingles some neat description of his own working life - as an electrician, a philosopher and a mechanic - with a polemic on the failings of modern industrial society.

I've also reviewed a couple of good books for the Guardian: a new biography of Romain Gary by David Bellos - author of the wonderful biography of Georges Perec - and his translation of Gary's strange book, Hocus Bogus, which could also be called "creative non-fiction" too, although in a very different way to these other two.