Friday, 12 July 2013

Independent Booksellers Week extravaganza; The Nosy Crow take over at Mostly Books!

As part of the nationwide celebrations of Independent Booksellers week, Indy bookshop, Mostly Books of Abingdon was taken over by Nosy Crow authors.

On Saturday the 6th July nosy crow authors; Paula Harrison creator of the ‘Rescue Princesses’ series and ‘Faerie Tribes’ books (that we reviewed here), Helen Peters who penned ‘The Secret Hen House Theatre’ (that we reviewed here) and Fleur Hitchcock who has written, Dear Scarlet, The Trouble with Mummies and  Shrunk (that we reviewed here) took custody of the shop. 

The three authors had a crash course on bookselling everything form shop orientation, to till operation, and then the doors open and the day begun. The day was designed to raise awareness of Indy bookshops, and to celebrate the great work that they do promoting literature and literacy within their communities, and as the door open the community came in. The day saw children and families come in to speak to the authors just for a chat or to have some feedback on their own creative writing or to try their hand at journalism by interviewing them. 

Here a video of one of the young budding journalists interviewing Paula And Helen. Apologies to Fleur due to a technical hitch her interview had no sound!

The day had a buzz that veered from frantic to relaxed; as customers settled down and chatted with the authors and ate cake (there was a LOT of cake consumption!) But all in all it was a delight, giving authors a rare glimpse of life at the other end of the book-chain and meet fans, and giving children the opportunity to meet and mingle with authors. 

By the end of the day there were three very tired authors and I think I can safely sale Tried HAPPY authors!

To read more about the day, go to the Mostly Books web site press here.

The Nosy Crow fun isn't over! We have three Nosy Crow / Independent Booksellers Week Activity Packs to give away! 

With School holidays on the horizon this could be just the ticket for keeping small people amused.

To win one just e-mail SpaceOnTheBookshelf@yahoo.comwith your name and address, and 'Nosy Crow' in the header.

Good luck!

Friday, 5 July 2013

‘Shrunk’ – Fleur Hitchcock – review

Tom isn’t enjoying life, he lives in model village and is trying to fit into a new school. But things change radically when he discovers he has an unusual superpower – he can shrink things.

At first shrinking things is fun, then he realises his accidental shrinking of Jupiter is having bad consequences. This is a hilarious roller-coast adventure, hugely imaginative and seriously good fun.

I really love that the superpower Tom has is so unusual and the whole idea that he shrinks a planet is so enjoyably quirky it shows great imagination. I would definitely put this book in the same category as David Walliams and Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum stories. It’s fun to read aloud and it seems to appeal to a broad age range, including reluctant readers, which is impressively great to pull off with your first book.

I also really enjoyed ‘Dear Scarlett’, which, although not nearly so zany and written for slightly older readers, is enjoyable for very similar reason to ‘Shrunk’. In ‘Dear Scarlett’, Scarlett discovers all sorts of secrets surround her dead father and that he has left her some unusual legacies.

Via some great comedy scenes (if you suddenly discovered you could break into places would the sweet shop and the zoo be top of your list?), it has the same edge of adventure, lovely wry observations and a great forward-moving plot.

I have to say I am a great admirer of Fleur’s writing and if you would like to meet her I’ve actually invited her to come and run my bookshop for the day on Saturday July 6. She and two writing colleagues from Nosy Crow are taking over Mostly Books in Abingdon, offering book advice all day, taking tea and bringing cake for customers and giving interviews to local schoolchildren.

It’s going to be brilliant, so thank you to Fleur, Paula Harrison and Helen Peters, who are being handed the keys to Mostly Books and finding out what life is like on the other side of the bookshelves for the day (exhausting I am sure because authors just sit around drinking tea and typing the occasional word – right?).

Child review by Alex Aged 8

'Shrunk' is a funny book and I found it exciting. I liked the sense of humour and how Tom dealt with the bully at school. 

Tom's parents run a model village and when Tom discovers he can shrink things all kinds of crazy thing happen. He frantically tries to find out how to unshrink things. 

It made me want to be in the book as Tom. The power to shrink things was a wonderful idea and I thought it was an awesome book.

I liked the whole booked, but I really liked the way Tom dealt with the bully.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

‘Shrunk’ – Fleur Hitchcock – Editor interview – Sara O’Connor

Continuing our celebration of all things Fleur Hitchcock, we have an  interview with her editor at HotKey who published her first book, ‘Sunday Times’ book of the month ‘Shrunk’ – Sara O’Connor.

What was your favourite children's book as a child?

Sara's Giant and the Upsidedown House by John Cunliffe

What is your favourite children's book as an adult?

Holes by Louis Sachar

What do you think makes children's books so inspirational?

There are no limits to the imaginative things writers can do in children's books. Young readers will go anywhere with you, as long as you are telling a good story.

What do you love about ‘Shrunk’, and what makes it stand out?

I fell in love with the miniature animals running about in Tom's room, plus the school bully gets shrunk while wearing a devil costume. I think the believable absurdity and humour makes it stand out, but also the gentle emotional pull. Fleur never says exactly what Tom wishes for, but you know, and it makes the end of the adventure even more sweet.

What made you want to work in children's publishing?

I took an introduction to children's writing class in my second year at university (Emerson in Boston) and I couldn't believe it was a job. As the teacher was holding up picture book galleys and explaining what they were, the clouds parted, the sun shone down, there may have been some trumpets, and I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do.

How many people worked on this book from arrival of manuscript to finished book on shelf?

Once acquired:
Me, editor
Georgia Murray, copy editor
Jenny Jacoby, proofreader
Becca Langton, editorial assistant
Jet Purdie, art director
Andy Parker, cover illustrator
Tristan Banks, production
Cait Davies, sales & marketing
Sarah Benton, sales & marketing
Kate Manning, sales & marketing
Meg Farr, publicity
Ruth Logan, rights
Plus a typesetter, the printers, and the distribution team
Oh, and the ebook conversion house

Whew! I think that's it!

Monday, 1 July 2013

‘Shrunk’ – Fleur Hitchcock – Spotlight on Writing

Having your first book picked as a ‘Sunday Times’ Book of the Month and having two publishers both snap you up seems like the dream scenario for any author (although having to write your fourth book online as a web-based creative writing project for children does sound slightly less appealing).

But for ‘Shrunk’ author Fleur Hitchcock, being a children’s author at all is a bit of a surprise as she only ended up on the now famous Bath Spa creative writing course for children because the adult course was already full.

‘I had been writing for a while, writing stories for adults and wanted to do an MA. But when I look back all my stories featured children, or had a children’s point of view.’ And she found her natural home, now having written ‘Shrunk’ (about a boy who discovers he has the power to shrink things), ‘Dear Scarlett’ about a girl who starts to uncover secrets about her jewel thief father, and ‘The Trouble with Mummies’ about a town where all the adults start behaving like they are living in a different historical period, which is difficult enough for the children to cope with - until all the historical re-enactment starts to involve sacrificing children.

All three books are quite different, although there is definitely a familiar strand of humour present in all of them. They will also appeal to slightly different age groups and if that isn't all tricky enough, Fleur has ended up being published by two different publishers.

I managed to catch up with her after a school event where she mummified some children and had them impersonating animals. Now all just part of the day job.

‘I wrote a book as part of the MA and that book got me an agent. But it did the rounds and didn’t get me a publisher, which was a very grim place. One of the best things about doing the MA was the fact that although I’d wanted to do it to improve my writing, what it also really taught me was about the commercial and practical side of publishing.

‘So we’d have talks where they’d say about this editorial team were really good or this publisher was good at that. And helped us recognise that lots and lots of people writing never make it – or get one or maybe two books published and then never another. So it made me a lot more realistic.

‘And you sometimes have to slap yourself around the face and say that didn’t work and write another one. You can only edit a book so much before it comes such a totally different book than the one you started anyway that it would have been better to have started completely fresh with something new.

‘So I started “Shrunk” and although Nosy Crow thought is wasn’t quite for them, they liked my writing and wanted to meet me. On the train to the meeting Kirsty Stansfield I was thinking that I didn’t really know what they wanted to meet me to talk about and I had this idea of what it would be like to live among the watercress beds around Andover that I passed on the train. And so when they asked me what I was writing next I told them and that became “Dear Scarlett” which was my first book for Nosy Crow.

‘In the meantime HotKey had been sent “Shrunk” and loved it, so I ended up with two different publishers.’

She was also plunged into writing a follow-up to ‘Shrunk’ on-line, inviting children to contribute all their ideas and shape everything from the characters to the plot.

‘The children have really written the book – they will see their ideas there and without their ideas it would not have been the book it is. But my synapses have had to make connections where they have never made connections before and it has been good for me. I have never tried before writing with someone else’s ideas.’

That book will be out next year, but for the moment she is returning home to write a book that, confidentially, may feature time travel and yogurt pots. And to polish up her schools events. ‘I definitely need more penguins.’

What was your favourite book as a child?

It’s impossible to answer that because I liked different books at different times of childhood, whether it was Noggin the Nog, or Narnia or The Silver Sword. And there was a pony book that when I look back was only photographs and information but I read that over and over as I did the ‘Handbook of Horsemanship’. I was a big user of the mobile library. I loved Moomins and Joan Aiken and Nina Bawden, who was a friend of my parents and I read all the books before they were printed and still have all of her letters.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

I am a big fan of Frank Cottrell Boyce and also of Louis Sacher’s ‘Holes’. Any books that I read with my children and they enjoy always means their enjoyment becomes my enjoyment.

We've got a copy of The Trouble With Mummies  to give away.  To be in with a chance of winning it, e-mail us at with your name and address and 'Mummies' in the header.
Good Luck