Monday, 21 April 2008

Wheels Start Turning...

After my last, rather morose posting, I've decided to stop muttering darkly about lone magpies and bad omens and try and be a bit more upbeat about things. 

And besides, I've recently heard that Tesco are going to take a large number of copies of Alec Devlin: The Eye Of The Serpent for their book club. I'm so excited, I've decided to give you a glimpse of one of Julek Heller's fabulous illustrations. here are three hyenas looking well scary, I think you'll agree...

And yes, I know, it's a sad day when an author has to get all excited by the fact that his masterpiece has been purchased by a supermarket chain, but hey, these are hard times and Tesco are very influential in the book trade, so... bring it on, I say! 

I've decided to do everything I can to bring my work to a wider audience, which is why, in two days time, I'll be heading off to Southport, to speak to several hundred school children, in what promises to be an energetic sort of day. Actually, I love going into the schools and meeting the audiences, it's one of the nicest things about being a children's author.

I also heard this morning that Alec Devlin is finally going to press today, which means we'll soon have some advance copies to send out to those publishers who asked to see it at the Bologna Book Fair - and I think I can confirm at this stage, that it's quite a list. 

And from Random House, I've been picking up the first mutterings about plans for the launch of Alec D in August - some pretty exciting things, if the stories are to be believed, though I dare not mention any of them yet, in case they don't happen and I end up looking like a bit of a prat. 

Now, I understand this blog is mostly about Alec Devlin, but I have a bit of news about Sebastian Darke too. Both of the available titles have made it onto the SLA Boys Into Books lists. This is great news because it means they will be recommended to children all over the country. Prince Of Fools made it onto the list last year and I was thrilled because it's up there with classic titles like Treasure Island and Wind In The Willows. I'm currently putting the finishing touches to volume three, Prince Of Explorers and meanwhile, I'm hoping that I might just be able to persuade Random House to go for two more adventures to complete the series. Watch this space...

Monday, 7 April 2008


The Bologna Book fair, the biggest international event for children's publishing has been and gone and I've heard nothing more than the fact that lots of publishers expressed interest in Alec Devlin. I have to admit, I have an unrealistic view of proceedings. Two years ago, the Sebastian Darke series came back from Bologna having been signed to ten publishers in four days, but I had no idea how unusual this was.

Furthermore, most of those publishers are only up to their first volume of Seb; indeed Random House USA publishes volume one tomorrow - so understandably, they are going to be somewhat cautious about throwing their hat into the ring for a brand new (and radically different) series and not just because of the awful exchange rate for the dollar! 

This hasn't stopped me creeping about the house looking as though I'm waiting for the news of an imminent birth; or twitching convulsively every time the phone rings. To compound matters, I'm waiting for my editor, Charlie, to come back to me about Sebastian Darke 3

I've fallen back on my old ruse of counting magpies. If I see two of them (and it's not unusual because we have a pair that nest in the garden every year) my spirit momentarily lifts... if I see a solitary bird, I become dejected and have to bellow my usual phrase at the poor creature until it (and the occasional passer-by) must think me quite demented. 

Let them, I'm past caring. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Introducing Alec Devlin...

After the 'anything goes' fantasy world of Sebastian Darke, I wanted to do something a little more rooted in reality; so I pitched the idea for a new series to my editor, Charlie and she liked what she heard. Random House commissioned three adventures and I settled down to write the first one.

Egypt, 1923. Fifteen-year-old Alec Devlin is on his way to the Valley of The Kings to spend the summer holidays working on his Uncle Will's archaeological dig. It's not the first time he's spent his summer this way... but this year things are different.
Uncle Will and his young assistant, Tom, have recently made an amazing discovery - an ancient tomb hidden deep below the earth. But only hours after opening its doors, Uncle Will falls mysteriously ill and Tom seems to have disappeared without trace.
Alec sets about unravelling the tomb's mysteries - seemingly harmless animals have turned into rabid killers, long dead mummies are rising from their tombs, the spirit of a powerful High Priest is claiming people as his living hosts... and Alec must confront a terror that has waited three thousand years to be reborn.

Well, that's the jacket blurb, anyway and I wrote it myself, so I can't complain that it doesn't get across the story. What I'm going for here is Boy's Own Adventure, and I hope I've succeeded in achieving it.

I quickly discovered that I'd had a pretty easy ride with the Sebastian Darke books. As those adventures all took place in an imaginary world, I was free to invent whatever I wanted to. Not so with Alec. Every little detail had to be checked for period authenticity. Clothes, cars, planes, telephones, you name it! 
I turned the manuscript around in a remarkably short time frame - around three months from start to finish, mainly to hit a deadline specified by Random House; and as I sit here typing this, I'm waiting rather nervously for news from the Bologna Book Fair, where foreign rights for Alec Devlin are being offered to publishers around the world. 

The fun thing about this series is it will deal with a different ancient civilization in each book. For the next one, Alec is off to Mexico to tangle with the Aztecs, but that's only at the planning stage right now. The next hurdle is to complete Sebastian Darke: Prince of Explorers. Meanwhile, Alec Devlin; Eye of the Serpent gets it's UK release on August 7th 2008, so between then and now, I'll keep checking back with you to let you know how it's all progressing.