Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nightwanderers cover

Maximum Pop officially revealed it this morning, so here it is on my blog! The cover for Nightwanderers. What do you think?

To celebrate, I'm giving away one signed advance copy. Follow me on Twitter, retweet the giveaway or leave a comment here, and next week I'll choose a winner. (One entry for follow, retweet and comment, i.e. three entries possible per person.)


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

First peek at Nightwanderers...

It's almost nine weeks until Nightwanderers comes into the world (2.6.16) and I am so excited to share it with you. Yesterday, I arrived home to find two advanced copies of the book, and it was so dream-smashing (in a positive way) to hold this work of my imagination in my three dimensional hands. Can you even believe that I spent a year making every single detail up? Strange, isn't it?

Tomorrow (6.4.14) the lovely people at Maximum Pop! will reveal the cover at 11am, so check their website or twitter to see the design, and then please tell us what you think!

Because I can't reveal the cover yet (without being tortured by Maximum Pop journalists and their horribly judgemental cats), I have taken a photo of the inside of the book. 

"If it's this pretty inside, what will the cover be like??" - You, in your mind, right now.

And in case you haven't read the blurb for Nightwanderers yet, here it is: 

A stunning, sad and darkly funny story from the award-winning author of Infinite Sky.

It all started with a poo in a flowerbed.
Rosie and Titania are as close as sisters – closer, in fact. While Rosie is shy, red-faced and passive, Ti is big, tough and daring. They shouldn't be friends, but they are.
We weren’t identical twins, we weren’t even blood sisters, but what we were was better, because we had chosen it.
But when Rosie betrays Ti, the two girls run in different directions – making decisions that could do irreparable damage to both of their lives. As Rosie confronts harsh truths, she must find a way back to Ti, and to herself.

What do you think? Would you like to read this book? 
Get out of here! 
Phew! Hold me. 

Finally, to celebrate books and being alive, I will be giving away one signed advance copy, so check back in the next few days for more details. And don't forget to let me know what you think of the design once it is revealed. 

Okay? Okay! Love you! Bye!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Patron of Reading at St Bedes

Last Friday was my first day as Patron of Reading at St Bede's School, and I had a wonderful time with very engaged and amusing English classes from Year 7, 8 and 9. I received dozens of suggestions of books to include in the year long reading challenge I am launching, from Geek Girl to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. More details about the reading challenge are at the bottom of the page.

In the sessions, we talked together about why we love reading, and whether or not it is a cool thing to admit to (this seems to change quite dramatically if you attend secondary school or not...) and discussed books that we love.

Living proof that a love of reading is Extremely Cool.

I met lots of enthusiastic readers, including some enthusiastic readers of Infinite Sky (my favourite kind). And most importantly of all, I had a bona fide school dinner: breadcrumbed fish, jacket potato wedges and beans.

"Excellent." *****

So for any students who weren't lucky enough to be in my sessions, and who want to get involved with my reading challenge, here are the details:

CJ's Reading Challenge for St Bede's

The challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to commit to reading as many books as you can in a year. The challenge was launched on World Book Day 2016, and ends on World Book Day 2017.

6 books = bronze
12 books = silver
24 books = gold
30 books = diamond

The prize for completing the reading challenge, whether at bronze, silver, gold or diamond levels is to be featured on the Reader’s Wall of Fame on my blog, to be entered into the Reading Challenge prize draw, and - most valuable of all - to have read 6, 16, 24 or 30 books in a year!

I will be aiming for diamond, and will let you know how I get on… What will you be aiming for?

Suggested titles from me, St Bede's students and teachers

Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
Good Dog Bad Dog by Dave Shelton
Infinite Sky by C J Flood
Any from Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Paper Towns by John Green
The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Mazerunner by James Dashner
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Worry Website by Jacqueline Wilson
Pigheart Boy by Malorie Blackman
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Red Ink by Julia Mayhew
Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallace
Trouble by Non Pratt
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Girl Online by Zoe Sugg aka Zoella
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
13 Chairs by Dave Shelton
Hollow Earth by John and Carol Barrowman
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton
A Monster Calls by Siobhan Down and Patrick Ness
Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Any from the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale
Any from the Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
Any from the Young Samurai series
Any from the Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Eragon by Paolini
Have a Little Faith by C J Harper
Nightwanderers by C J Flood
Daylight by Ed Hogan
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell
The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
Junk by Melvin Burgess
ACID by Emma Pass
The Fearless by Emma Pass
Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla

Do you have any more suggestions? Please let me know in comments below, if so.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hello 2016!

Happy new year people!

So the end of 2015 was mostly taken up with editing my second novel. In case you don't know, it's called Nightwanderers, and is about a girl called Rosie Bloom and her best friend, Titania DeFuria, and the trouble they get themselves into as a result of their love for roaming their seaside town in the middle of the night (hence the title.)

My best friend and I used to do this when we were teenagers, climbing out of my bedroom window and donning my dad's balaclava to run through our fearsome teacher's garden, and I had much fun returning to those foolish and exhilarating times to write Rosie's story.

Nightwanderers is set in a fictionalised version of Falmouth in Cornwall where I lived for eight years, and I loved returning to that beautiful harbour town in my imagination. I hope people will enjoy the story that emerged from blending these elements. More news on the book's progress soon...

My editor, Rachel Mann, has been brilliant in supporting me to get this novel right, and lots of her suggestions have helped to improve the book. More evidence that writing novels can be an extremely collaborative process.

The end of 2015 was also devoted to teaching Creative Writing to undergraduates at Bath Spa, and to visiting schools to talk about Infinite Sky. I had a particularly lovely time at St Bede's Catholic School in Bristol last month, and am delighted to be their Patron of Reading for 2016. Keep an eye out here for posts relating to what I will be doing in my time there...

2015 was a stellar year for UKYA, and my favourite read was Rosie Rowell's Leopold Blue, winner of the year's Branford Boase Award, along with many of the other shortlisted books. Please read them all! Of the not-published-in-2015-nor-necessarily-UK-YA books I read, I loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Meg Rosoff's new book for adults, which is hilarious, and everyone must read, and that I can't remember the name of (or find online.)

I delayed posting this after hearing the sad news that David Bowie had died on Monday. A man that truly lived. To celebrate his shining life, here is a video of him singing and dancing and waving bye bye in all his feline glory.

I hope 2016 promises good things for you. Thanks for reading! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

What to do when you're waiting for notes from your editor. (Or The Bee's Tongue)

Hello readers!

I'm waiting for edits on book two, and so have turned my attention to my other other great love: nature. 

With book three in mind, I've been learning about natural foods, and have found lots of wild rocket growing near my house. Look out for it when you're out and about, it loves to grow in cracks in the pavement or by the side of foot and cycle paths. And remember to leave some behind for the next creatures too.

I've also made elderflower champagne.

Elderflower champagne-to-be

Best of all, a bee flew into my window and I fed it sweetened water. My flat is something of a hotspot on the Bee Highway, and I sometimes rescue four or five bumble bees a day (or the same bumble bee four or five times a day.) This, however, was a honey bee, and I noticed it crawling very slowly across my floor, like a woman left too long in the desert (if women had six legs, and also wings.) Giving this bee a drink of sweetened water is honestly one of the best things I've ever done, because previously I didn't know bees had tongues. 

To capture this wonderful discovery, I made an astonishingly bad video on my phone. 


How like a kitten the humble bee laps its sugar water! Is this the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Please excuse the poor quality and daft narration, this is the first video I've ever posted. Expect great things in the future...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Arvon Talk with Melvin Burgess and Lucy Christopher

Today I'm returning to The Hurst in Shropshire to talk about Infinite Sky to a group of YA writers on an Arvon course led by Lucy Christopher and Melvin Burgess.

I met Lucy last year when her book The Killing Woods was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards alongside Infinite Sky, and I'm really looking forward to talking more to her about writing and books over dinner. Lucy also won the Branford Boase Award, for her debut novel, Stolen, which won the Printz Medal too in the US. Visit her website for more info.

Image result for the killing woods lucy christopher

I have met Melvin before too, at The Hurst, when I did a course he was running with Malorie Blackman about Writing for Young Adults. At which the lovely Simmone Howell (author of the marvellous Everything Beautiful) was the guest tutor. Melvin wrote one of my favourite YA books (and one I actually read as a teenager) Junk, and has written lots of books since. Have a look at his website to find out more.

Image result for melvin burgess junk

He was a great teacher, and fun too, and I'm looking forward to seeing him again. He led us in a workshop exercise in which we interviewed each other, while channelling our teen selves, and it was one of the best writing exercises I've done, because of the way that it connected the group. The writing I got from it was fine, but the stories I listened to, and the emotions people came up with as a result were quite amazing.

I am really delighted to be going back to the Hurst again, and to have the opportunity to meet writers and talk books, in such a pretty setting.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Branford Boase Award Shortlist

Forget the general election for a minute, and let's congratulate all the authors shortlisted for the 2015 Branford Boase Award! Full shortlist here.

To celebrate the prize, I have interviewed Dave Shelton, winner of the Branford Boase Award for A Boy and a Bear in a Boat in 2013, and judge (with great taste) of the 2014 prize, which I won with Infinite Sky in case you had forgotten. He is also author of Thirteen Chairs and Good Dog Bad Dog.

Hi Dave! As you know, the Branford Boase shortlist is announced today. Mostly, we agreed easily on the shortlist, but there were a few books that split opinion. Did you enjoy the judging process?

I really did, yes. Admittedly a small part of that was a sizeable sense of relief that all the reading was over (I’m naturally a rather slow reader and we’d had, I think, 29 books to get through in the end – which was quite a challenge) but mostly it was just a joy to talk about books and writing in the very good company of my fellow judges. And we too agreed pretty easily on a shortlist. In fact I was almost disappointed that things went so smoothly – I kind of felt like there ought to be some heated arguments along the way, but the fact was there really was no need.

How easy do you think it is to judge books across different genres?

Oh it’s not difficult, it’s impossible, really, isn’t it? Which is ‘better’: this madcap comedy about a purple alien living in a council estate in Swindon, or this heart-rending story about living with a relative with dementia? This fruitcake or this sports car?* The best you can do is to try to judge each book’s success in achieving its own apparent ambitions. But in the end, to some extent, you just have to accept that these things are a bit arbitrary and the personal tastes of the judges are going to hold some sway, however fair and impartial they try to be. 

How did winning the Branford Boase Award impact your career?

Yes. I’m sure it raised my profile a bit, and I suspect it helped sell quite a few more copies of the book (A Boy and a Bear in a Boat – available in all good book shops. Highly recommended). And it gave me the excuse to change my name by deed poll from ‘Dave Shelton’ to ‘Award-winning Dave Shelton’. So that was nice.

Do you think prizes and shortlists are particularly important to debut authors, or do you think the more experienced novelist requires them more?

I think it’s pretty tough for everyone these days and there’s maybe not much in it, but yes, it’s a bit more important for debut authors (well, for non-celebrity debut authors anyway). I would imagine that if you’re still going after getting half a dozen or so books out then you’ve hopefully achieved a bit of momentum and recognition and maybe shortlists and the like are a bit less important, but there are so many books coming out these days that anything that gives you a smidge of an advantage in being noticed is a bit of a godsend. Plus, we tend to be a touch on the insecure side so a little bit of reassurance that, yes, you did an okay job that time, is very welcome too.

Good Dog, Bad Dog and A Boy in a Bear in a Boat cater for slightly younger readers, while Thirteen Chairs would probably scare the bejesus out of seven year olds, which kind of books do you most enjoy writing?

I’ve not really decided yet. Thirteen Chairs felt like harder work than the other two (which were quite hard enough themselves, thank you very much) but I think that was because I tied myself up in knots a bit with the structure of it. So there was a lot of rewriting and editing and re-rewriting and re-editing that turned it, at times, into a bit of a slog. But I don’t think that was especially to do with the age range I was writing for, it was more just (as is so often the case) me being an idiot. I think, of the three, I enjoyed creating Good Dog, Bad Dog more, because it was originally made in three page episodes and published weekly in a comic. So there was a certain seat of the pants improvisation to it, with lots of odd, unforeseen little ideas getting thrown in along the way, and a bit of mad energy to it. But it may just be that it’s the one that I did longest ago so I’ve had more time to forget the bad bits. All my books have driven me at least a little bit mad along the way but I’m coming round to accepting that maybe that just comes with the territory.

Do you enjoy writing books? It seems like it would be more enjoyable when you are illustrating it too – is this the case?

Well, as I kind of implied in my last answer, I do find it hard work. And I do make great efforts to find excuses to do something else for rather too much of the time (thanks for sending me these questions by the way...) I keep fooling myself that the next book will be easier. And luckily I have a terrible memory so I can forget quite how bad the worst bits were last time round. Mostly I enjoy having written rather more than I enjoy writing (I think I may be stealing this line from Dorothy Parker or someone, but it’s no less true for its unoriginality). But ... but ... those occasional (all too rare) glorious days when it’s all going right and you write happily and the words just flow out as if by magic. Or some bit of plot just falls satisfyingly into place in a way you’d in no way planned for or expected. Or a character says something that makes you laugh... Those are the high points that keep you going. That and the increasingly alarming credit card statements.

When you are reading and enjoying another person’s book, do you think about how you would illustrate their world/characters?

Almost never. I’m sure I must have on some occasions but it’s very rare. I’m more likely to imagine someone else’s illustrations for something I’m reading. Or even to imagine someone else’s illustrations for something I’m writing (there’s a beautiful alternative version of A Boy and a Bear in a Boat that exists in my head with illustrations by my mate Tom Gauld, for instance).

How do you think UK YA compares with American?

I read too little of either to have an opinion. Though I would hope that the UK books make more use of the letter u.

Who are your favourite writers for young people? Your biggest influences, generally?

Again, I’ve read too little to have a hugely worthwhile opinion but I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of the late Mal Peet’s books. And, you know, if you ever finish anything else I might give it a passing glance... In terms of influences in general I think most of my biggest influences come from outside of children’s books. It’s occurred to me relatively recently that Radio 4 is probably the biggest single influence on my writing. Prior to the availability of on demand media I’d often have the radio on more or less for whole days while I was working (this is back when I was only illustrating – I pretty much need silence when I’m writing) and I think that kind of constant presence of a variety of voices can’t help but to seep in to your brain and have some effect. Other influences come from films and telly and comics, but the books that I feel have most affected my own style (such as it is) are probably ones written for adults that I read in my mid teens to my early twenties. I’m pretty sure there’s a tiny bit of Douglas Adams in there somewhere, possibly some PG Wodehouse, but all so mixed in with all the non-book influences that nobody else would see it but me.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently somewhat behind with the writing of a comedy murder mystery set in a 1950s girls’ boarding school with a schoolgirl detective lead. Unfortunately, though there didn’t seem to be anything much like it when I first mentioned the idea to my publisher because I’m so slow, it seems like everyone is writing schoolgirl detective stories now (most prominently Robin Stevens is multiple books ahead of me with her Wells and Wong titles). But I’m hoping that my natural oddness will set my book apart from all the others. Either that or I’ll take so long to finish it that the bandwagon will have disappeared over the horizon and I’ll be seen as bravely trying to revive the genre. Anyway, I think it’s going to be quite good, and it’ll have lots of illustrations again, like A Boy and a Bear in a Boat did.

If you could be sailed across the sea by a benevolent talking animal, besides a bear, what would it be? 

I’d have to say our dog, Barney. I could use his enormous ears as sails.


*Bad example. Obviously the cake is better.