Maurice Sendak (the curmudgeonly creator of, among other things, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’) was recently interviewed on The Colbert Report. (For anyone who hasn’t heard of the show, it’s essentially a parody of right-wing political broadcasting; Fox News etc.)
Anyway, the interview was spread across two episodes (season 9 episodes 13/14) and were a real treat. Sendak was a real match for the witty Colbert and was perftly able to give as good as he got. At one stage, Colbert quipped that he believed that kids ”are just biding their time until we’re gone and then they get our stuff.”
This beautiful film has been nominated for an Oscar in the Short Animation category. It draws on influences as varied as Buster Keaton and the Wizard of Oz and is all about the magic of books. Put 15 minutes aside today and watch it.
I enjoy visiting schools, bookshops or libraries. The people I meet there – and the children who are excited about the book – are always so welcoming. Thanks to the ‘Children Save Dublin’ initiative, I’ve been asked to attend quite a lot of events over February and March. The two months are filling up nicely but I’m always happy to make it to as many visits as possible.
So, if you would like me to attend your school, library, bookshop or book club, just email me to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form here!
(And don’t forget, I’m available for book events all year round. If Feb/Mar don’t suit your group, we’ll still be able to arrange something!)
A while back, a reader asked me to describe my desk. I thought the best thing to do would be to throw up a few pictures here.
Space is at a premium in my room, so this fold-up desk from Ikea was a perfect solution. It has just the right amount of space for my laptop and a few books without allowing me to clutter it. Read the rest of this entry »
As I mentioned briefly in this earlier blog, my book has been chosen to be the featured book in the inaugural ‘Children Save Dublin’ reading project. The initiative has been established by UNESCO Dublin City of Literature – (the people behind the hugely successful ‘One City, One Book’ project) – and will run from today right up to the end of March. There are lots of events planned for the duration of the festival. I’ll be giving workshops in libraries, schools and bookshops and Michael Moylan of Irish History Live will be bringing his Viking History show to various locations around the city. The project culminates with a huge event as part of the St Patricks Festival. We’re going to have a train parked in Connolly Station, designed to look like the World Serpent itself. Each carriage will host a different fun event – (I’ll be there giving workshops and more!)
This morning I could be seen at Stephens Green for a photo call. Why, you ask. Well it for the launch of the UNESCO Dublin City Of Literature reading project “Children Save Dublin”, that is encouraging children between the ages of 8 and 13 to read my book. There will be some big events throughout and I will blog about it properly later but for now, here are a couple of images of a Viking with Arthur and Ash!
From time to time I get asked to speak to creative writing groups or English classes. I always oblige. I love taking questions from enthusiastic students of writing and sharing what [modest] knowledge I have. There are five tips I always share with the groups; five tips that I believe have improved my writing.
So here they are. They may be helpful for some people.
1. Keep a journal (or in my case use post-its!)
Almost everything you will ever read on creative writing will suggest that you should keep a journal. You’re supposed to carry it around with you so that you can take note of every idea you have as you have it. Any of these ideas could eventually make a story.
I tried it for a while a few years ago and it just didn’t work for me. I found that my ideas became too jumbled and that I couldn’t focus on one. I’m an unusual case though. I find it much easier to work an idea through in my head for a few weeks before putting pen to paper. And I can juggle a few ideas at a time.
However, when I am sitting down at my laptop to write, I like to plot out that day’s chapter using post-its. I scrawl a plot point on a post-it each and stick it on the wall in front of me. Then, when I’ve written that plot point, I pull away the post-it and dump it. It’s hugely satisfying!
So, I don’t keep a journal. It might work for some people but it doesn’t work for me. That said, I do think that everyone should try it for a while. If it works for you, you will never want to be without your little notebook. Failing that, use post-its. I swear by them! Read the rest of this entry »