Sunday, 23 December 2012

Mighty Boosh Christmas Cake!

Long time visitors to this blog will know that around this time of year I dig out my copy of the Elvis Presley Christmas album (on original 'bacon and eggs' vinyl of course) to crank out some festive spirit while my youngest and I stir-up this year's Christmas Cake. It's one of those family traditions that has evolved and gathered a momentum of its own. I don't remember when, or why, we started making 'themed' cakes, but these days the question of what is going on top of the cake is almost as important as what goes into it!

In recent years we've had Monster Munch, Doctor Who and, my personal favourite, Calvin and Hobbes. This year's choice was proving difficult, until Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh mysteriously replaced the angel on top of our Christmas tree. 

At the time of writing, nobody in the house had owned up to the switch, but it did give us an idea for what to put on the cake.

So come with us now, on our festive journey, as we wish you a very Merry Boosh …

The cake – awaiting decoration

Christmas icing – made from the tears of Noddy Holder!

Cake! Cake! A tasty … cake!

Enjoy the festivities folks, thanks for all your support this year, hope to see you in 2013.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

City of London School Literary Festival

One of the most rewarding moments for any author is when readers write to say they've enjoyed reading one of your books – that the story has connected with them in some way – made them think, or laugh or cry! 

I received such a message from a Year 10 student at City of London School earlier this year.

City of London School from the Millennium Bridge

Not only did Devang say how much he had enjoyed reading 15 Days Without a Head, but he invited me to take part in the school's Literary Festival in December. 

Which is how I came to be on the banks of the River Thames on a very wet Friday morning a few weeks ago, taking photos of the lights in the driving rain …

The school were great hosts and I had a really enjoyable day, taking part in a number of events at the festival – one in the impressive Asquith Room over looking the river, and another at nearby St Paul's Cathedral school, where I met a great bunch of Year 7s and fellow festival author Tom Palmer.

The Asquith Room

The festival was organised largely by the students themselves and boasted an impressive line-up of guests. I must thank Devang for inviting me in the first place and Jake for the extremely well researched introductions. Also thanks to David and Tim for looking after me and making me so welcome at the school.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Kenilworth School and the 2012 Kids' Lit Quiz

Last year I took part in the Kids' Lit Quiz for the first time. I was in an author team with Fiona Dunbar, Sita Bramachari and Sophia Bennet and we won! No thanks to me, I should add. If I remember correctly, my single contribution was the answer of Mulch Diggums to an Artemis Fowl question! I had a great afternoon though and was delighted to be invited back to Broxbourne School for this year's heat.

The Cat in the Hat – Quizmaster Wayne Mills
The Kids' Lit Quiz is an international competition that has been running for over twenty years. Teams from all over the world compete to take part in a World Final, which this year is being held in South Africa.

The quiz was started by Wayne Mills, after attending a prize giving at his children's school. "There were lots of prizes being given out for sport and music and science, but nothing to award achievements in reading!" he told me. Wayne now spends his time travelling across the world, writing all the questions and acting as quizmaster in every single heat of quiz – an incredible feat in itself. Not to mention the fact he has to keep up to date with all the latest book releases …

This year at Broxbourne, author SC Ransom and I were given the task of keeping score. (Luckily Sue's maths is much better than mine.) It was another great afternoon – just to be in a room full of people so enthusiastic about books and reading, is quite a buzz.

The final took place two days later, at the suitably grand Royal Court Hotel in Coventry. On the morning of the event, I was invited along to nearby Kenilworth School to talk to a group of students about 15 Days Without a Head and my life as an author.

 In the library audience that morning were the four members of the Kenilworth Kids' Lit Quiz team, who had, a few days earlier, won a place in the final.

The Kenilworth team doing their best to ignore the nutter
in the background trying to get in on their picture!
It was a real honour to be asked to lead Emily, Andrea, Fin and Charlie out into the hall to take their seats for the quiz.

The great hall ready for the quiz to start
On this occasion, Kenilworth didn't get to go home with the trophy, but it was a hard fought contest. I was amazed at the speed and knowledge of the participants and once again struggled to answer more than a handful of questions myself!

Fellow OUP author Matt Dickinson brought along his mascot
complete with lucky pants! (His team didn't with either though!)

It was a fantastic occasion and all the young people involved clearly had a great time. Huge credit must go to Wayne Mills and all the library staff, teachers and authors who give up their time to organise and support the events. The Kids' Lit Quiz is a superb way to recognise, encourage and reward the act of reading. Long may it continue.

Kids' Lit Quiz website
Kids' Lit Quiz UK
Photo Gallery from the 2012 UK Final

Thanks to the staff and students at Kenilworth School for their hospitality. Thanks also to John for the photos.