Happy New Year!
And what an exciting year it's going to be. So many of my friends have wonderful things happening, I decided I'd have to blog about them!
Candy you will know about by now; very possibly you have been following her excellent blog for longer than you have mine. Given that the blog's title is Notes From The Slush-Pile, she may need to change it; the slush-pile, in case you didn't know, is the heap of unsolicited and not-yet-read manuscripts that grows on publishers' and agents' desks. And Candy's work will no longer be sitting in any slush-pile; her first book, Tall Story (David Fickling Books) is to be published in June (NB: this is not the actual cover: it is a temporary design by Candy herself).
I've read it, and it is an absolutely captivating and original tale, both funny and touching. The story is alternately narrated by Andi, in London, and her giant (yes, really!) brother Bernardo, in the Philippines (where Candy herself originates from), but on his way to join her in London. You're going to love it.
Keren David is another brilliant writer (as well as star blogger: puts me to shame!) and her book When I Was Joe, (Frances Lincoln) out now(ish: you may have to order it) is already creating a buzz among readers. It's about a 14-year-old boy who has to go into police protection after he witnesses a stabbing. He assumes a new identity...but all does not go smoothly, and he is in danger. It's a hard-hitting novel that I wouldn't advise for anyone under 12 – this couldn't be more far removed from my own stories! – but if you've outgrown my stuff anyway, then read this.
Next up, two more fabulously talented writers who have feature film adaptations of their books coming out this year: Cressida Cowell and Sally Nicholls.
Cressida's series of Dragon books have been making readers laugh out loud for a long time, and now her work is transferred to the screen in How To Train Your Dragon, which opens in March. Here's a still from it, which I think is lovely; look at that CUTE dragon!
To be honest, I am slightly blinded by the shimmer coming off Cressida right now, and not just because every time I see her, she out-blings me (see evidence of out-blinging below); I mean, this film is BIG HOLLYWOOD stuff. It's Dreamworks, for heaven's sake! Yes, THAT Dreamworks, the Steven Spielberg one, that brought you Shrek! Ha! Like she need publicity from me. I'm just trying to bathe in the reflected glory.
Sally Nicholls is going to have an amazing year; not only is she getting married, but her first novel Ways to Live Forever is being made into a film. If you don't know the book, and I tell you it's about a boy who's dying of leukemia, you might think 'argh! Depressing!' But you'd be very, very wrong; Sam is a funny and engaging character. Yes, of course there's sadness too, but in that really good tear-jerky way, not a weighing-you-down-with-grief way.
I think the film's going to be good as well: it's crammed with really good actors like Emilia Fox and Ben Chaplin and director Gustavo Ron has stayed faithful to the book and set it in Newcastle. Get your hankies ready. No release date as yet, but will definitely be this year; will keep you posted!
One of the friends I want to mention here is sadly no longer around. My lovely friend Siobhan Dowd died of cancer in 2007, so has missed seeing her novel The London Eye Mystery being made into a stage play, at the Unicorn Theatre, London (6th March - 18th April).
She would be thrilled. I'm looking forward to seeing it; absolutely loved the book, and am intrigued to see how the London Eye itself will be realised on the stage.
Finally, but no less excitingly, I have news of forthcoming books by my friends Jo Cotterill and Lee Weatherly. I have lots of friends with new books coming out, but these two stand out because they are new directions for both.
Despite the demands of a full-time job (until very recently) and a small child (still!), Jo Cotterill (nee Kenrick) is already racing ahead with her new romance series for 10-13s, Sweet Hearts (Random House). The first story, Star Crossed, comes out in June. I'm particularly curious about this one, because as with my own Cupid Cakes (Lulu Baker), it has a plot centred on a Shakespearean school play – in this case, appropriately, Romeo & Juliet. Jo used to be an actress, so she has a wealth of experience to bring to this theme! Other stories in the series of six will feature different characters and themes.
Writing under the name of LA Weatherly, Lee (who has also published under the names of Titania Woods and Kitty Wells) has new trilogy coming out, starting with Angel (Usborne) in October; it is set to do for angels what Twilight did for vampires. Need I say more?! Lee is a superb writer (um...dare I say it? Yes I will: better than Stephanie Meyer) and I'm excited to see what she does with this theme. Again, it's aimed at a slightly older age group than my own books. I don't have a cover to show you, so here instead is a rather silly picture of me with Lee (and that's Candy Gourlay on the left):
Books, films, a play...what a lot to look forward to! Happy new year.