Heathrow jumps on the imaginary friend bandwagon

Heathrow Airport have issued a video announcing that they are now Imaginary-Friend Friendly.

They claim that they will cater to every whim of your imaginary friend.

Though whether this applies to the whole family being bumped up to first class is yet to be tested.


New book news!


I’m really very overexcited to announce that I’ve been given an amazing new book deal with superstar publisher Sarah Odedina at a brand new imprint, Rock the Boat Books.

Swan Boy, which will be out next summer, is about a bullied kid who accidentally lands the lead in a school production of Swan Lake. When his teacher tells him to live the role, things start to go very strange.

The following year there will be a second book, which will be about a dog. That’s all I can say!

It’s really special to be one of the first few authors on a new imprint. If you have a look at the press announcement you’ll get to read about the other new books, which sound really great too (who doesn’t love a plane crash story?)


Brighton Rocks Books!

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In fact, everywhere rocks books, but Brighton, my hometown on the South coast of England, will be positively blaring out bookish love on the 11th July for a very special event, dreamed up by myself and fellow authors Tatum Flynn and Lisa Heathfield.

It all started because we’d noticed that there were an awful lot of brilliant kid lit authors kicking around the city with not much to do on a Saturday, so we decided to see how many of them we could get together in one place to talk about books.

A few tweets and emails later we had an answer: 12! All published authors of fantastic books suitable for kids aged 8-18.

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This was obviously going to require a bigger venue than my front room, so we approached the award-winning Brighton Jubilee Library and the lovely folk there suggested that we could run our event to coincide with the start of their Summer Reading Challenge. We jumped at this opportunity, not least because the library has tons of space and comfy chairs, but also because it means that the event could be absolutely FREE!

What could be better? we thought.

Then something better happened.

The new Children’s Laureate was announced. And it was an author from Brighton!

And not just any old author, but CHRIS RIDDELL, author, illustrator extraordinaire and all round good guy.

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Of course, we thought, the newly-crowned Royal Highness of Reading would be much too busy and important to come along to our little old event.

But we asked him, and he said, ‘Wonderful. I’ll pop by and do some drawing.’

So, it’s really happening. And we’d love YOU to come. The day starts at 11am and is suitable for anyone from 5 upwards, though anyone under 8 might get a bit wriggly if they have to sit and listen for too long.

There will be panels, workshops, books for sale, and children’s authors wandering around who will be delighted to talk to you about books and reading, and sign any copies you buy or bring along.

And here’s the lineup:

*big breath* AF Harold, Julia Lee, Tatum Flynn, Cameron McAllister, Nikki Sheehan (me), Jenny McLachlan, Sarah Sky, John Walter, Jane McLoughlin, Lisa Heathfield, Eve Ainsworth, Jess Valence, Nicky Singer, and, of course, Chris Riddell.

Hope we’ll see  you there!



Imaginary friend app developed

What do you all think of this? A South Korean developer has come to the rescue of lonely teenagers with an “imaginary friend” app that they can use to have ‘comforting’ conversations.

Apparently you confide in it and the app replies with answers such as, ‘How come?’ and ‘Is everything OK?’, which I think could get a bit annoying.

Anyway, South Koreans must disagree because so far it has been downloaded four million times!


Who Framed Klaris Cliff? wins an award!

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So exited to announce that Who Framed Klaris Cliff? has won the North Herts Book Award for 2015!

The award was judged by over 70 children from nine schools, which makes it all the more special.

I’d like to say thank you for everyone who voted for the book, and also to Linda Aird from St Christopher’s school, who championed it for the awards.

Sadly, there was no golden trophy, just the golden glow from knowing that people have read and loved the book, which is even nicer.

Awards and other fun stuff

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I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but Who Framed Klaris Cliff? has managed to find its way onto the long and shortlists for a few book awards, including the Oxfordshire Book Awards, the North Herts Book Award, the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year, and the Wirral Paperback of the Year.

And last week, on what happened, serendipitously, to be my birthday, I was lucky enough to travel to the Wirral Grammar School for Girls to talk all things books and imagination to the students from the ten schools which will be choosing the winner.

It was an amazing event, which started with a Skype conversation between the 200 or so people in the hall and author Edward Carey who lives in Texas and whose book Heap House is on the shortlist. Present in the real actual glorious flesh were myself, Keren David (Salvage), Berlie Doherty (the Company of Ghosts), Catherine Bruton (I Predict a Riot) and Jon Mayhew who, as a former winner assisted the amazing school librarian, Mrs Laura Ferguson, in keeping the whole big, complicated show on the road.

After our 15 min presentations the questions came fast and thick, and, being Year 9s no one asked about my cardigan, or when they would be allowed the drink and biscuits. In fact I was hugely impressed that so many of the students had already read the whole list.

My favourite comment of the day was from one girl who told me that my book was ‘weird, but in a good way’. Phew!

The winner will be announced in May, but the competition is very tough, and I really don’t know who I would vote for because the books are all so different, with contemporary thrillers, a ghost story, and a fictionalised version of Victorian London where people are given objects at birth, such as bath plugs and fireplaces, that they lose at their peril.

Naturally I did tell the audience that as none of them had got me a birthday card or a present, a vote for Who Framed Klaris Cliff? would be an entirely acceptable alternative.

Fingers crossed this may just swing it.

If you’re looking for what to read next here are the shortlisted books, plus Jon’s 2013 winner, in alphabetic order:

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and finally…

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Klaris Goes International

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A really lovely thing that sometimes happens to authors is that foreign publishers ask to be allowed to translate the book and publish it in their country.

So I was really excited when the German publisher Carlsen (the same one that published Harry Potter in Germany) bought the rights to Who Framed Klaris Cliff?

It feel like that was ages ago, and it’s not a particularly quick process because the whole book has to be translated, and a new cover designed, but today it finally hit the shelves.

The title translates as My Plan to Save the Imaginary Friend From Next Door, which is a lot more literal than the British title, but works really well.

And I love, love, love the cover. Especially the pencil with my name on.

I really want one of those.