Wednesday 31 October 2012

Guest Blog from Pete Cardinal Cox, Poet & Writer

For National Poetry Day I was well away from the local poetry scene in blustery Newquay for my Nephews wedding. I did however take the opportunity of the long train journey (made longer on the return by having one cancelled) and quiet times in the surfer hostel I stopped in to start a new poetry cycle. At the moment Im at the stage of sending out the first few fruits of this harvest to see if it has the potential of interest from publications. More on this in later postings, perhaps.
One of the other things that I have been writing for a few years now are articles for the local arts cinema. I first went to one of its screenings over thirty years ago (it was a Russian film, halfway through they came out and admitted they had shown the reels in the wrong order) and been a regular attendee for twenty. With every screening they give away a sheet of notes about the cast and crew and an article relating to the film in some way. These articles are usually cribbed from some source or other, production information, for instance. A few years back I thought that for a few films I could try and cobble together an article for them. Good practice for me, something original for them. Some seasons there might only be one film that Ill contribute something to (this season it was a list of ten British-ish animators to accompany a screening of an Aardman Animation film) but some seasons I might manage a handful.

Unfortunately I have to report another death in the small press scene. Stephen Owen, who edited the quirky and idiosyncratic4th Dimension died earlier this year. He had published work by me in the past and Id hoped to have that honour again. Our thoughts are with his family.

A magazine that has been going for many years and yet only just come to my attention is the Maidenhead based publicationSouth. It recently produced its forty-fifth issue and has an editorial policy that ensures it picks the best poems, not just work from familiar names. To find out more go to its website at

© Pete Cardinal Cox

Gothic Fiction for Halloween picked by

There's a ghostly gothic revival afoot! Yes, it seems we like nothing more than a good old-fashioned scary story, with family curses, gloomy manor houses and ghostly goings on, so grab your nightgown and prepare to hide under the covers as we embark on a tour of our favourite spooky stories, set in an age when superstition and seances were forces to be reckoned with.

The Drowning Pool by Syd Moore
A stunning reinvention of the classic ghost story and an exploration of a 19th-century Essex witch hunt. Relocated to a coastal town, widowed teacher Sarah Grey is slowly rebuilding her life, along with her young son Alfie. But after an inadvertent seance one drunken night, her world is shaken when she starts to experience frightening visions and soon comes to realise that she is the victim of a terrifying haunting by her 19th century namesake ...

The Small Hand by Susan Hill
From the bestselling author of THE WOMAN IN BLACK comes an exceptional chilling tale! Late one summers evening, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow is returning from a client visit when he takes a wrong turn. He stumbles across a derelict Edwardian house, and compelled by curiosity, approaches the door. Standing before the entrance, he feels the unmistakable sensation of a small cold hand creeping into his own ...



Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
A true ghost story which will chill, terrify and haunt you and a perfect read for the dark cold nights! 1937 and 28-year-old Londoner Jack gets the chance to join an expedition to the Norwegian Arctic. The expedition arrives in the uninhabited wilderness, but as the Arctic night falls and the sun sets for winter, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Go or stay alone - but he's not alone, as something walks in the dark ...



The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore
In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her GP husband Philip. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely. Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RA greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream, and not long afterwards, she's startled by a knock at her window ...



Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday
A ghost story, a psychological thriller and a tale of love rediscovered, from the author of SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN. Michael and Elizabeth have been married for ten uneventful years. But when they visit a friends country house, Michael is drawn to a painting on the landing, where in the background he sees the figure of a girl, but the next morning, the girl is not there. A truly astonishing take on what appears on the surface to be the onset of mental illness but turns out to be something far darker ...


The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
From the bestselling author of THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, comes a haunting story of a ghostly ship and an age-old curse. 1943 and war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver's father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn ...


Affinity by Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters' eerie and utterly compelling ghost story set in a smog-bound Victorian London. Margaret Prior decides to become a Lady Visitor at Millbank prison, intent on pursuing 'good work' deeds by helping the less fortunate, but she soon becomes ensnared by the spiritualist prisoner Selina Dawes, and finds herself dabbling in a twilight world of seances, shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions. A ghost story with a twist in the tale ...


Sweet Heart by Peter James
When Charley and her husband Tom decide to buy Elmwood Mill, a dilapidated 15th-century mill house in Sussex, they think they've found their ideal home. But Charley has a strange sense of deja vu, and when strange things start happening she begins to doubt her sanity. Haunted by memories which become increasingly vivid and terrifying, Charley becomes desperate and is persuaded to undergo hypnosis - but in searching deep into her past, she unwitting opens a Pandora's box of evil, and now the terror is free ...

For further information visit


Tuesday 30 October 2012


'Tears of a Hustler: Part 4' 
By Silk White (NOV 22nd)
ISBN: 978-0985673475

Tears of a Hustler 4 picks up right where Part 3 left off ... The Spades are a new powerful organization out to clean up the streets and put an end to drug dealing and crime in the community. The Spades leader, a dangerous man that goes by the name Wolf won't rest until his mission of cleaning up the streets and making the community a nice safe place to live is accomplished, but standing in his way is Pauleena and her deadly crew of killers and dealers. Pauleena is all about her money and couldn't care less about Wolf or The Spades. With each side not willing to budge or come to a compromise a long trail of blood is sure to be left behind once the gun smoke clears ... You ve been warned! Join Silk White as he takes you on another ride that you won't forget. 


'He Loves Me, He Loves You Not'
By Mychea (NOV 22nd)
ISBN: 978-0615525976

It's been years since their parents were murdered. Twin sisters Shia and Leigh are trying to readjust to life, while caring for their baby sister Remi. With the exception of Leigh's angry, dramatic mood swings every now and then, everything seems to be going great. That is until Demetri; the mysterious stranger enters their midst, and falls right in the path of the newly single Shia. After dating Trent for so long, she is looking for a man to treat her like a queen, and Demetri is heaven sent ... until inexplicable things begin to happen. When one of her sisters goes missing, and was last seen with Trent and Demetri, Shia suddenly realizes no one is who they appear to be. The seemingly normal world she and her sisters recreated is destroyed. Shia begins to realize that her parents' past deeds are coming back to haunt them all and no one can be trusted. It is unclear to Shia which man truly has her best interest - and safety - at heart. Staring at the wilted flower she calls life, she is slowly pulling back the layers to try to understand if he loves me, he loves you not ...

Available from Amazon.

Like their Facebook Page to enter their free book giveaway!

Visit Good2Go Publishing's New Website WWW.GOOD2GOPUBLISHING.COM

Source: E-newsletter

Monday 29 October 2012

Writing workshop at Durham Book Festival: 2 for 1 tickets for New Writing North subscribers

New Writing North are delighted to be working with the Northern Spirit team, who are putting together a production next spring in venues across the north of England, to commission writers to reflect on what it means to be a northerner today.

Fed up with the traditional depiction of the North as being grim, industrial and depressed, director Chris Meads and the team decided to bring together writers, artists, photographers and digital media specialists to create a blog – A Wondrous Space – which would dispel this dated image of northern England. The contributors have written about Manchester, Sheffield, Tyne and Wear and Liverpool.

The blog entries will help inform a new production called A Wondrous Place, which will tour the North in the spring.

You can be part of the production. Come along on Monday 29th October to the Gala Theatre in Durham at 2pm, and take part in the writing workshop which will help create the final piece.

This event is especially relevant to writers working in the North, and as such, if you quote “New Writing North” when you book by phone (0191 332 4041) you can get 2 for 1 tickets to the workshop.

Writers will get the following out of the workshop:

You’ll get to take away the start of six stories about characters in a re-imagined North which you’ll have helped write during the session

You’ll learn about how digital technology and blogging can be a tool for writers, with input from the bloggers who’ve already contributed to A Wondrous Space
You’ll get an insight into how the Northern Spirit team is using digital technology to enhance collaborative theatre-making processes. This will be illustrated practically within the workshop where you’ll get a real sense of how your contribution will help shape the piece

You can book your 2 for 1 tickets by calling the Gala box office on 0191 332 4041 and quoting “New Writing North”.

For more information, see

Source: Press Release

Thursday 25 October 2012

Supporting Your Local Book Shop

We like to support local businesses as much as we can and Waterstones, Bridge Street, Peterborough is our local bookstore. It's a great store with friendly, knowledgeable staff and it holds a lot of signings, support both established and up and coming authors ...

Events (All free!)

Sat 27th October 2.30pm-4pm 
Meet John Challis (Boycie from Only Fools and Horses) during his book signing.

Fri 2nd November 1pm
Meet Pudsey the winner of 'Britain's Got Talent 2011' - Pudsey will be doing a dancing and signing copies of  his autobiography! This is a ticket only event, tickets are free but limited to 75.

Sat 10th November 11am-3pm
Meet John Nowell during his book signing.

Sat 24th November 11m-3pm
Meet Jon Beattiey during his book signing.

Thurs 29th November 5.30pm-7pm
Talk with Chloe Sims of TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) fame.

For further information, please contact:
Waterstones Peterborough Bridge Street
Address: 40 Bridge Street, Peterborough PE1 1DT
Tel: 0843 290 8545

Puffin Virtually Live with Michelle Paver and Charlie Higson this November


  The next Puffin Virtually Live webcast is taking place on
Monday 5th November
2-2.45pm GMT with bestselling author
Michelle Paver.

Michelle will be talking about GODS AND WARRIORS, the first book in an epic new five-part Bronze Age series for adventure-loving girls and boys aged 9+.

See Michelle researching her second book including learning the art of Falconry, the world of the Bronze Age Mediterranean and how dolphins experience life. There's also a preparation pack which includes class notes, reading lists, extracts from the books and lesson ideas so the class can think about the book before the webcast.

And you will be able to have your questions answered by Michelle live during the webcast.

LOG IN or REGISTER now to get involved.

PLUS Puffin Virtually Live Brings you Skype in the Classroom with Charlie Higson!

Take part in a Halloween Skype Special with writer, actor and comedian Charlie Higson, author of the phenomenally successful Young Bond series of novels and best selling zombie adventure series for teenagers; The Enemy. Join Charlie for some eyeball-popping stories as he talks about his writing and his lastest teen book The Sacrifice. The star of the Fast Show has three sons of his own and knows how to terrify and captivate teens in equal measure!

Puffin Virtually Live has a number of places for assembly sessions for whole year groups to take part on Tuesday 6th November 2-2.40pm GMTSign up here.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Wimpy Kid Author Jeff Kinney to Launch Inaugural Cardiff Children's Literature Festival 2013

Thursday 29th November 
6.30pm - 7.30pm
City Hall, Civic Centre, Cardiff
Tickets: £3.50

The first Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival will take place in March 2013 and it’s already attracting big names in the world of children’s literature.

Jacqueline Wilson has already confirmed her attendance at the event and now organisers are delighted to announce that the festival will officially be launched this November by Jeff Kinney, the author of the globally successful and award-winning Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

Jeff will be taking to the stage at Cardiff’s City Hall in his only Welsh appearance to talk all things Wimpy and introducing his audience to 'The Third Whee'l, the seventh and latest book in his brilliant best-selling series. Jeff will be sharing inside information on his involvement in the Wimpy Kid films, and showing how he brings Greg, Rowley and the gang to life.

The Cardiff Children’s Literature festival will run between March 20th-24th 2013 and will bring together some of the best national and local contemporary children’s writers and illustrators in key venues across Cardiff, putting Wales once again on the children’s literary map. Authors already confirmed include Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Browne, Jeremy Strong, Catherine Fisher, Eurig Salisbury and Malachy Doyle.

“We are delighted that such a prestigious author as Jeff Kinney is launching our festival,” said Cardiff Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Huw Thomas, “The Children’s Literature Festival next year will provide a fun way of getting children excited and interested in reading. Having Jeff Kinney at the launch is a great coup. Our aim is to reach out to everyone who loves children’s books, especially young people, and enable them to interact with some of the most creative minds working in children’s books today by providing a variety of inspirational and accessible events in both the English and Welsh language.”

The original The Diary of Wimpy Kid has beaten Harry Potter to be voted 'Best Children’s Book of the Decade', and is the number one best-selling children’s brand in Britain selling more than 6 million copies in the UK, and over 75 million copies worldwide. The sixth book in the series, 'Cabin Fever' was the best-selling book of 2011 selling one copy every four seconds in the first week of sale.

The logo has been designed by illustrator Huw Aaron, who will be involved in the school outreach activity leading up to the festival.

The Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival is organised by Cardiff Council, Literature Wales,
Cardiff University and The National Museum of Wales.

To book your tickets for the launch event, click here.


T S Eliot Prize 2012

The Poetry Book Society is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2012 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry. 

Judges Carol Ann Duffy (Chair), Michael Longley and David Morley have chosen the shortlist from the record number of 131 books submitted by publishers.

Simon Armitage                    The Death of King Arthur         Faber
Sean Borodale                      Bee Journal                             Jonathan Cape
Gillian Clarke                        Ice                                            Carcanet
Julia Copus                          The World’s Two
  Smallest Humans                     Faber
Paul Farley                           The Dark Film                          Picador
Jorie Graham                        P L A C E                                Carcanet
Kathleen Jamie                    The Overhaul                            Picador
Sharon Olds                         Stag’s Leap                             Jonathan Cape
Jacob Polley                        The Havocs                             Picador
Deryn Rees-Jones               Burying the Wren                     Seren

Chair Carol Ann Duffy said:

‘In a year which saw a record number of submissions, my fellow judges and I are delighted with a shortlist which sparkles with energy, passion and freshness and which demonstrates the range and variety of poetry being published in the UK.’


The T S Eliot Prize Readings will take place at 7pm on Sunday 13 January 2013 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The 2010 Readings were held in this venue for the first time and were a great artistic and audience-building success, attracting 2,000 poetry lovers, one of the biggest audiences for a single poetry event of recent times.

Tickets will be on sale from 24th October from Southbank Centre’s ticket office on 0844 847 9910 or go to, with a 10% discount on the £15 and £12 prices on tickets sold prior to the end of November. For press tickets please contact Katie Toms on 020 7921 0926 or email


The winner of the 2012 Prize will be announced at the Award Ceremony on Monday 14 January 2013, when the winner will be presented with a cheque for £15,000, donated by Mrs Valerie Eliot, who has generously given the prize money since the inception of the Prize.  The shortlisted poets will each receive £1,000.


The T S Eliot Prize Reading Groups scheme will enable reading groups and individual readers to read the shortlist. Specially commissioned reading group notes, together with three poems from each shortlisted collection, will be made available to download from the PBS website. The scheme will target both poetry reading groups and fiction book groups.


The T S Eliot Prize Shadowing Scheme, run by the Poetry Book Society in partnership with the English and Media Centre’s emagazine, will offer A level students a chance to engage with the latest new poetry by shadowing the judges and taking part in a writing competition.
The Prize is generously supported by the T S Eliot Estate.                    

This year marks the second year of generous three-year support from Aurum, a private investment management firm which manages funds for charities, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and private individuals, and which supports a range of charities

Source:Press Release  

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Much More Than A Writing Competition: Escalator Literature

Are You A Writer Of Genre Fiction Based In The East Of England?

Enter Writers' Centre Norwich Escalator Literature Competition

What type of genre writing do you specialise in? Whether it's a nail-biting crime writing novel or a sublime twist of historical fiction, prepare to enter your best genre fiction writing to  Escalator Literature Competition to win a year’s worth of professional development, funding support, and intros to agents and publishers. 

Wednesday 28th November 2012 by 5pm

About the Competition
This year's Escalator scheme is looking for writers of genre fiction or inventive mash-ups of genre. Open to writers from the East of England who want to get professional, enter now if you think you would benefit from: 

•    One-To-One Mentoring
A year’s worth of support from professional writers (Tobias Hill, Natasha Cooper, Cathi Unsworth, David Rain and Michelle Spring).
•    Supported Applications For Grants
You will be coached through an application for an Arts Council England.

•    Professional Development Workshops
A tailored range of workshops designed to give you the information you need to get ahead in the world of genre writing.
•    Introductions To Agents and Publishers
Your work will be introduced to agents, publishers and other industry professionals and you will take part in a special London reception at the end of the year promoting you and your work.
•    Peer Support
Across 2013, ten winning genre fiction writers will be supported through Escalator Literature. Many of the Escalator graduates are still in touch with their group and find it of invaluable benefit to go through the year talking to each other.
The Escalator Literature Genre Fiction Competition is open now. Submissions must reach us by 5pm on Wednesday 28th November. See eligibility guidelines below.
It Works
Escalator Literature is an Arts Council funded initiative and has been running for seven years. Many Escalator Literature prize winners have gone on to find agents and get published: Guy Saville, Helen Ivory, Susan Sellers and Nicola Upson are all graduates of the scheme.
Who Can Apply?
We welcome applications from writers of ambitious, high quality genre fiction, which include Crime, Thriller, Horror, Ghost, Mystery, Historical, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Romance, Humour, Espionage and inventive mash-ups of genre (think Haruki Murakami).
Escalator Literature is open to writers currently resident in the East of England, who think that a period of structured support would enable them to develop artistically. Successful applicants will demonstrate considerable creative talent and potential for development and will commit to the Escalator Literature scheme and the work they undertake as part of it.
Eligibility Guidelines:

Applicants must
Be over the age of 18 years old
Be resident in the East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk)
Application must be in written in English
Submit single authored works only
Demonstrate creative talent and potential for development
Be available to attend a mentoring session on Saturday 26 January 2013
Be writers of genre fiction: Crime, Thriller, Horror, Ghost, Mystery, Historical, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Romance, Humour, Espionage and inventive mash-ups of genre

Applicants must not
Be studying for a full time academic qualification in creative writing at the time of applying for the GFTA (January 2013)
Applicants must not have previously published or self published a full length work of fiction
Applicants must not have received an Arts Council Grants for the Arts award in the previous three years
Applicants must not be employees of Writers’ Centre Norwich

Want to Apply? Here's How:

Please pay online here, filling in the questionnaire and then printing out your e-receipt. You will need to pay a processing fee of £5 online, and we accept credit and debit cards.

Applicants may not apply more than once.
If you have not already registered with Writers’ Centre Norwich you will be asked to register.

If you are unable to pay online please contact 01603 877177.

Then Send Writers' Centre Norwich Your Application
Once you have paid online please submit the following by post:
•    A Sample Of Your Work (3 x copies)*
Up to 3000 words typed (hand-written submissions will not be accepted), single-spaced 12pt on A4. Note – this sample of work should be a sample of work that demonstrates the quality of your writing and should be an extract from a piece of longer writing.
•    An Application Letter (3 x copies)*
Please send a type-written covering letter no longer than one side of A4 paper including:
•    The context and scope of your writing submission
•    A short biography of your writing history 
•    An explanation of where you are in your writing life and how you would benefit from Escalator Literature
•    The Receipt From Your Online Payment

*Please include your online booking reference number on all copies of your documentation. You can include your name on your application letter, but please do not include it on your writing submission.

Please send the receipt for your online payment along with three copies of your writing sample and three copies of your covering letter to:
Escalator 2012/13
Writers’ Centre Norwich
14 Princes Street

DEADLINE: Wednesday 28th November 2012 by 5pm
Your application must reach their office by this date.

If you need further information about the Escalator Genre Fiction Competition then Writers' Centre Norwich are very happy to talk to you informally and answer any questions:

Please contact: Anna Selby on 01603 877177. 
What Happens Next?
The ten Escalator winners and commended applicants will be notified by Wednesday 23rd January 2013. Good luck!
For further info please visit Writers' Centre Norwich.

Monday 22 October 2012

Mediterranean Homesick Blues: A Diary of Life-affirming Disasters on the Côte D’Azur.


The year is 1994 and longtime Francophile, undergraduate and hapless romantic Ben spends a year split between teaching English to rowdy teenagers in Cannes and taking orders from their topless mums on a beach in St. Tropez.
Mediterranean Homesick Blues is The Catcher in The Rye set in Coventry and the Côte d’Azur - written from the point of view of a repressed and charmingly naive Englishman. A diary of life-affirming disasters against a backdrop of the glamour and grime of the French Riviera. It chronicles one man’s attempts to love and understand the French, acts of serial romanticism, the use of the subjunctive mood as well as the quest for the ultimate sandwich. It is a year in the life of someone you’ve never heard of.

Together with Enzo Cilenti, Ben Chatfield has created an honest, original and disarmingly funny book that defies easy categorisation. The humorous diary of a year- long odyssey into both manhood and the French way of life, it’s also a savvy and refreshingly different kind of guidebook - you won’t find a top ten list of restaurants anywhere, but you will find a list of the most boring French literary classics.

“My year abroad was one of the happiest and most formative of my life and Ben Chatfield's witty and insightful book brought a lot of those memories flooding back.” Alistair Campbell, former Labour party Director of Communications and Ex-Language Assistant.

You can order your copy from Amazon, as well as all good bookshops!

Friday 19 October 2012

The Montblanc Worldsecond Mobile Photo Project

Montblanc invites everyone in its worldwide mobile photo project to capture and experience the same instant together and picture the world.

Inspired by the idea of recording time, Montblanc introduces “The Montblanc Worldsecond”, a photo project inviting everyone the world over to capture moments of beauty photographically. A specially developed mobile photo app (for iPhone and Android) features a unique countdown function, ensuring that thesmartphone cameras of all participants worldwide will take a picture at the very same instant.

The photos are then uploaded to the website, creating a stunning mosaic of globally shared moments, of “Worldseconds”. All in all, Montblanc will “record” 60 Worldseconds over the course of the campaign until the end of December 2012. That is, 60 opportunities for participants to let their imagination and creativity run free and travel the world in pictures.

Once the contest has commenced, app users and visitors to the
website will be able to choose from the uploaded photos to compile their own photo galleries and share them through a variety of social media channels. At the end of the contest, in early 2013, the winner in each category – Worldsecond Photo and Worldsecond Gallery – will receive a watch from the Montblanc TimeWalker collection.

The Montblanc Worldsecond mobile app will be available for Apple iPhone and Android phones in November 2012. For further information, visit today.

Every second counts!

Thursday 18 October 2012

Exclusive Interview with Dave Lowe, Author of 'Stinky and Jinks' Series

Where did the inspiration for ‘My Hamster is a Genius’ come from?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.  I had a hamster when I was growing up, but he wasn’t so smart.

As a teacher, as well as writer, do you have a wealth of material to draw on when writing ‘Stinky and Jinks’ tales?
I’ve mostly taught adults and high school kids, so I suppose it’s more a case of drawing on my own experiences of being a kid.

If you could have an amazing pet like Stinky, what animal would it be and what unusual skill would it have?

How about a monkey that could baby-sit my kids, whilst performing song-and-dance numbers?  Like a simian Mary Poppins.

Stinky and Jinks have a blog – Stinky’s Family Tree blog post … will any of Stinky’s family appear in future editions?

I don’t think so – Stinky’s kind of unique, although there is a girl hamster slated to appear in a future adventure.
The next two books in the series, ‘My Hamster is an Astronaut’ and ‘My Hamster is a Spy’ are out in 2013 – do you have plans for any further Stinky and Jinks books?

Yes, lots!  I’m working on at least 4 more – including my favourite title so far, ‘My Hamster’s Got Talent!’

How was your book tour in the UK this September? Any highlights you’d like to share with us?

I had a great time.  It’s been a lot more fun and a lot less nerve-wracking than I expected.  It’s been great to hear from people who’ve read the book – kids, parents and teachers – and the response has been opverwhelmingly positive.  I got a VIP school dinner at Graiseley Primary School in Wolverhampton (extra potatoes, I think) – which was a highlight.  And the festivals at Bath and Cheltenham were fabulous – I got to meet some fantastic writers.

Do you have any top tips for budding writers?

I guess my advice would be: don’t say you want to be a writer, say you are a writer.  I was a writer for 20 years before I was published.  Have confidence, read a lot, write a lot, and don’t give up.

Do you have a special place you write?

I have a room at home but, really, I only need quiet.  (With two daughters aged 8 and 4, though, quiet isn’t always easy to come by!)

Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?
I’m working on a book aimed at older kids – a private eye novel.
Where can fans of you and your books find out more about you and your writing?
The sad fact is that my fictional hamster, Stinky, has more of an online presence than I do.  The publishers, Templar (who’ve been absolutely amazing) have given him his own blog:

Many thanks Dave!

‘Stinky and Jinks: My Hamster is a Genius’

By Dave Lowe
Illustrated by Mark Chambers
Published by Templar Publishing
RRP £5.99 (paperback)
ISBN 9781848772939
Reviewed by Lynsey Evans

This is the first Stinky and Jinks adventure and what a great one it is! Meet Benjamin Jinks – he’s always getting into trouble and his maths is lousy, his teacher is always on his case. Ben’s mum thinks if she gets Ben a pet, that will help teach him responsibility and improve his behaviour. Plus she’s locked all his games, TV and toys in the shed and he won’t get them back until he’s proved himself. Ben thought of all the pets he’s like and … the hamster his mum got him wasn’t on this list. An unimpressed Ben names his hamster ‘Jasper Stinkybottom’, just to be awkward.

Imagine Ben’s surprise, as he’s struggling with his homework, to hear a little voice telling him the answers. The little voice belongs to his hamster, who is now known as ‘Stinky’. Stinky does Jinks’ homework for him and his teacher is very suspicious. In fact his teacher and his dad have a bet, if Jinks doesn’t pass his next test in school he’ll have to clean his teacher’s car wearing a T-shirt saying he’s a cheat. This means one thing, Stinky has to go to school … cue mayhem and laughter all round!

This is an enjoyable book, funny, light-hearted, lots of great illustrations and slapstick moments readers are going to love!

Highly recommended for readers 6+