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Showing posts from August, 2020

Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit

After a lot of posts about other people's books, here's a post about one of mine... Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit is the third book in the Roly Poly Flying Pony series which I co-author with Sarah McIntyre . Here's the trailer she created for it: We always have fun coming up with stories together, but we really upped the stakes with this one. A spate of biscuit burglaries has shaken the small town of Bumbleford, and all the clues point straight to its roliest, poliest, flying-pony-est resident, the biscuit-loving Kevin. Kevin and his friends set out to clear his name and unmask the real biscuit bandit, while adventure-loving guinea pigs Neville and Beyoncé start plotting a heist of their own. It's thrill-a-minute stuff, and chock full of stupid action sequences, which Sarah has done an amazing job of turning into pictures...  Sarah's website also has a page of activities based around the new book, including drawing guides, suggestions for making your o

The Worlds of J.R.R.Tolkien

While I was working on my recent series of posts about The Lord of the Rings , the writer and Tolkien scholar John Garth kindly sent me a copy of his new book, The Worlds of J.R.R.Tolkien . Here’s my review.  When you’re a fan of a writer’s work, it’s natural to want to follow it to its sources, and find out what inspired it. The temptation is always to delve into their biography and connect key experiences to images in their books. I think one can go too far with that - when I was coming up with the various worlds on which the Railhead trilogy takes place, I sometimes drew on vivid memories of places I know well, sometimes took inspiration from nice photographs and concept art I saw online, and sometimes just made stuff up on the hoof to suit the demands of the story. Once it’s all been rewritten a few times, I don’t think the reader can tell the difference, and even I have often forgotten where a particular image came from. But there is no doubt that JRR Tolkien drew on some real-w

The Silmarillion

I'm still in a Tolkieny mood after my latest Lord of the Rings re-read so I thought I should give The Silmarillion another try. As with the earlier Tolkien posts, I'm not claiming any expertise, this is purely my personal response. When I was nine or ten I started to notice that a lot of my favourite authors claimed The Mabinogion as an important influence. So I ventured forth across the wilds of Queen’s Park even unto the Kemptown Bookshop and picked up the Everyman paperback edition, only to discover when I got it home that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Obeying no narrative structures that I’d encountered before, and sometimes consisting of little more than long lists of names, the Welsh legends collected in The Mabinogion contained little on which my imagination could get a grip, and the book was quickly abandoned. But it turned out to be useful practice, because soon afterwards The Silmarillion was published, a new work by my favouritest author of all. I got

The Arrow of Apollo

The Greek Myths are still going strong in children's books, with centaurs, cyclops (cyclopses?) gorgons, and the gods of Olympus all popping up fairly regularly. Often these days they tend to be  placed in modern settings (by Rick Riordan in his Percy Jackson series, for instance,) or used for humour (by Maz Evans in Who Let the Gods Out? or by yours truly and Sarah McIntyre in Kevin's Great Escape ). But Philip Womack's latest novel The Arrow of Apollo plays its mythic goings on absolutely straight and sets them in the time and place they belong. Actually we're not just in Ancient Greece but also Ancient Italy, for the story opens a generation after the Fall of Troy. It's the tail end of the Age of Heroes; the borderland between myth and history. The gods are departing, and in Lavinium, a city founded by the Trojan Aeneas in Italy, a wounded centaur arrives with news that the evil Python is stirring, plotting to take over once the Olympians have gone. Aeneas'