Two Interviews

Just back from a few days in Manchester, where Sarah McIntyre and I were guests of the very wonderful Manchester Children's Book Festival. We met lots of wonderful people, some of them knitted by Ann Lam, who has been turning out sea monkeys by the dozen. Here's Sarah posing with Zombie Sea Monkey and French Sea Monkey...

While I was away, a couple of recent interviews have appeared online. Here's a Q&A I did with Dan Metcalf for StoryWorld, in which I talk about Goblins, Cakes in Space and how working with SM has revived my enthusiasm for writing. He asks a very good question which I've never been asked before: 'Do you actually like writing?'

And I discuss similar topics here, in an interview with Natasha Ngan, author of The Elites and also the forthcoming The Memory Keepers.  I also get to recommend a few favourite reads. You can check out the interview here.

Bunny vs Monkey


We're all big fans of children's comic The Phoenix in this house, and very pleased that they're starting to publish some of their regular strips in book form. One of the first is Jamie Smart's incredibly funny and anarchic drawn Bunny vs Monkey, the everyday story of some simple woodland creatures and a megalomaniac monkey. I'm completely in awe of Jamie's drawing, and also the way he manages to pack elaborate stories and excellent jokes into two pages per week. So I really can't recommend this book highly enough! Available from All Good Booksellers, or direct from the Phoenix shop.

Events, dear boy, events...

Just a reminder about two forthcoming events for anyone who is interested and in the right bits of the country...

First, next Saturday (21st June) I shall be at Exeter Library, talking about the Goblins books (and specifically about the new one, Goblin Quest).  Kick off is at 2pm and I shall burble on for about an hour, with signing afterwards. I don't think I have any other events scheduled for Goblin Quest, so I guess this counts as the OFFICIAL LAUNCH too! Tickets are free, but can be reserved if you want to make sure of a seat -  at time of writing, there are 37 left.

And at the end of the month I shall be joining Sarah McIntyre in Manchester for a big Oliver and the Seawigs event on Saturday 28th June. This year's Manchester Children's Book Festival has been overrun by our Sea Monkeys; to the point where one of the little critters is even writing the MCBF official blog (he's a much better typist than the goblins).

Looking forward to both of these - and hoping to meet some of you there!



WotCher soFftlings! 

Our BRILLIUNT NOO BURK GOBBLIN KWEST telLs the electrpyiNg storey ov how soMe of uss Gobblins leFt ClovenstoNe to go on a DANGERUS AN DARING KWEST. Usully in burKs an moOvies itt is only soffTlings an elvs aNd rubish DWARVS who geTs to gO on Kwests, so wee thort iTt was abOut time uss GOBbliNs had a go an showEd every1 hoW itt shouLd be done. Here is ouR... 


A SofFtling on a KWEST bein iRritATED by some CLOUD MAIDENS. (Paintin by ARThUR HUGHES)

1.  YoU neEd sumthing to kwest for.

If you just gOes off on a long jurNey wiThout enny speCial reeson, that is NOTT A KWEST, itT is juSt a buncH of wierdoes walKin about a bit. You shoolD alwaYs have a speCial plaCe yoo nEEds to get to, or betta stil a MAGICLE OBJECT thatT you neEd to fiNd. GoOd magiCle obJekts to go Kwestin for inclUde: the Holly Grail (abuv), the Losst Ark, King Sollomon's Minah BiRd (AKA the Eegle of the 9th) an Rin Tin Tin's Tin Din-Dins Bin.*

*There is of cors no such thiNg as Rin Tin Tin's Tin Din-Dins Bin. We asKed for everybodies fave magicle obJects and we thort somone said that, but it was jUst Gutgust falling down the stares in all his ARMOUR (agane).

2.   TheRe neEds to bEe a hOle buncH of you.

A Bunch Of Wierdoes Walkin About A Bit (paintin by the BRUTHERS HILDEBRAND)
If yOu goes ofF on a KWEST on yore oWn you wil havs no one to torlk to, an nobOddy to bLame when you gEts LOST. Also, if yoo meat a MAN EETIN TREE likE we did it wil hav to eEt YOO, whEreas if you taKe alonG a TASTIER LoKIN COMPNANION thEy is thE one whAt wil probbobibbly gEt scOFFed.  

When wee set ofF from CLOVENSTONE weE made surE thAt eVery mEmber of oUr FLELLOWSHIP had a diffreNt TALLENT which wouLd prove useFul on our KWEST. Here is a LIST of them. (It is a LIST WITHIN A LIST, How Verry Post-Modurn.)

HENwYN: is pritty cLever foR a sofftlIng anD hlePed us find ouR way thROugh the WasTes of UlaWn to the WeSTERN OCEAN. Also he loOks likE a TASTY SNACK for enny man eEtin floliage. 

SKARPER: is a BRAVE an WISE an STRANgELY ATtRACTIVE goBblin, brilliUnt at steelin thiNGs, outWitting viLains an diktating lists of Kwestin tiPps.

GUTGUST: can say ANCHOVIES at wil.

SPURTLE: A smalL and unImpreSSive gobBlin, but wen danGer threAtens he caN maGiccaly TRANsFORM himslef inTo a smalL and unimPressive SOFA. (Thiss is notT much uSe in a tiTe corNer, to be onnest, buTt at least whEn the danger is over you caN hav a nice sitt dowN on him.)

GRUMPLING: can shOut at peeple an bash thiNgs, but thatt is notT his only talleNt: he can alSo shouT at tHings an bash Peeple.

ZEEWA: is hanDy with a SPEeR an undertsnands BOATs an is a brIliunt HUNTER whiCh meens shE can catCh BREKKFAST noM NOm.

FLEgG: heE is noTt mucH use at anyThing whY did we briNg him agane I forGET?

4. Take a MAPP


A KWEST is no use if yoU dusn'T hav a diRty big MAPP shOwin all the plaCes you is goin to gO, so you can geT worried loOkin at all the SCARY SOUNDIN NAMES such as the SWOMP OF PERIL, the MOUNTINS of CHAOS the ChASM OF HORIBLE DEATH. (who woUld caLl a chasM somethin like thaT why not the Chasm of the Nice Kittens thatT would be a bit moar chEery evrybody likEs kittens nom nom burp etc.)


Kwestin cAnn be a HNUNGRY BISUNESS. Look at thiS sOfftling; he has bEEn Kwestin all over the place with no SNACKS and now he has clollApsed frOm HNUNGER and a lade with wiNgs is thinKin abOut steaLin his FASHIONUBBLE SHOES. NotT only thaTt, but a MAN-EETIN TREE is scoffin his shield. 
PaintiN by that EDWArD BURnE_JONEs.



The maNe truBble with KWESTs is all the MONSTERS. ItT woUld be quite eaSy if all theM bliMmin TROLS, SEA SPERPENTS, MAN EETIN TREES, VAMPIRES, GHOSTS, BALRoGS ETC did notT keEp geTting in thE way. Oi you teLl them, I'm kwestin here, but wil they lisTten? No, itt is all RARGH, GRR, ARGH etc they havs gotT NO CONSIDERATTION. Best gett youRself a gOod insuraNce piolicy and a MAGICLE SWORD.

8. Magicle SwOrds/ Shields/WaRhorns etc

Sword by Fableblades 
These is verRy usefil artickles an eveRy Kwester shoUld caRry wun. SofFtling heroes is alWays geTting hanDed magicle sworDs forged in lost DwarVen Halls when the World was yung itt is allright for some. UnfnortunTately theRe is nott any leFt in Clovenstone. TheRe is only a magicle trUmpet called the ELVENHORN, butT it got stoleN which is wHy we hadd to go on a Kwest in the 1st plaCe. (We dids not know it was a magicle trUmpet we thort it was a back scratchler.) 

HenwYn has a sword butT itt is nott magicle it is just a bitT rusty.

10. Be HEPLFUL to tHose yoo mEet aLong the WaY...

...aNd maYbe they wil HElp you later on wHen you is in DIREST NEeD.  

For insTance, when PriNce BrewyOn of Tyr Trewas was on his KweSt for the Speer of Morva he helPed an Old maN to ford the River Ystwyth, & latEr when he was strUggling to fill in his EXpenSes Claim it turNed out that the Old Man was reely an AccountaNt in disguise and Lo! he heLped PrinCe BrewyoN fill out the CoMpliCated Forms and explaNed how his magicle Sword was a TAX DeDUCTIBBLE BISUNESS EXPENSE therebY saving him £££s. 

So if you mEet an aNNoyin Old Man at the starrt of yoye KWEST, do not blow RASPBERIES at him an make fune of his UNFASHIONABBLE SHOES. For if yoo aRe KIND to him he maY turn out to be a WIZZARD, an lateR when you are beEin menaced by KILER MERMAIDS or similAr he wiLl tuRn up an SAVE thE DAY. 

Or maybe he wOn't - soMetimes anNoyin old Men turn ouT to be just Annoyin Old men, itt is one of their MOAST ANNOYIN FEETURES.

An Annoyin Old Man



GreEtings paftheftiCk SoFFtlinGs! Yess iT iz USS, the hAnsUM an BRiLLiunT GOBBLInS of CloVenstONE, takin over ReEEve's BLOGG agAne to tel you AbOUt our nOo BURK, the magniFicIfiCifecent GOBBLIN KWEST.  

Heer iz a NICE PIKTUR ov iTt:

...Only in reEl liFe it turns out is NOTT YELLO after all butt a kind of fluoresceint flooresint flouoo itt is VERrY ORINDGE

Ther is loDes an lodeS of WURDS inside itT, whIcH meenz VALU FOR MUNNY. 

ApraRently iff yOu reads all thE WURDS iN the RitE ORdER tHey teLls the EXCICTING STOREY ov a LonnG an DAnGRerEOURSE KWEST wot we wEnt on. 

ItT was aLl about stOpping thAtt lOOny PRInCE RHiND frOm usiNg this tHingG caLLed the ELVENHORN to raIse the LOSST KNINGDOM OF THE ELVS from unDer tHe Sea and itT was a riTe bliMmin to-do, we caN tell yoU. TheRe was LoDES of WaLKIN ABOuT likE in A ProPer KWEST, an aLso seA SperPents, pOo, tretChery, BOATs, meTal PAsTIEs, a MAN EeTIN TREE*, some ANCHOVIES, an a terRible fiRe brEathin CUSHION only maYbe itt iz noTt actoaully a CusHiON wotT iz the wURd we iz GropiN fORR?


Anywae, wE wiLL bee bak oN thiS bLogg sOon wivth our TOPP NOTCH KWeSTIN TIPpS, so keep your EYES PEeLED (only nott liTraLLy cos thatt woulDs be horRibul.)

MeENWhILE, GOBBLIN KWEST is avaibable frOmm ALL GOOD SoFFTLING BURKSHOpPS (An eeveN thE RUBbISH WuNS coulD pRobibblY ORder A coPpy for You).

*Itt also eEts lades, aN also GOBBLINS.

Goblins artwerk iz by DAvE SEmPLE as usooal.


Hay Festival & Exeter Library

Caban Coch dam, Elan Valley.
Just back from a week in mid-Wales, during which I popped into the Hay Festival for a day to join celebrity hatstand Sarah McIntyre for a couple of events - details on Sarah's blog.

We haven't been to Mid-Wales before, although I know the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia fairly well. It turned out to be beautiful. The towns aren't up to much - charity shops and convenience stores inhabiting the decaying grandeur of once-popular Victorian resorts (Aberystwyth feels particularly post-apocalyptic)  but the surrounding country is beautiful, with mountains, gorges, waterfalls and lots of dams and reservoirs, which were looking very impressive after the recent rain. It reminded me a lot of the Wicklow Mountains, and also parts of the Lake District. We stayed at Pwllgwylim Cottages in Cilmeri, just outside Builth Wells. The owners, Richard and Jill, also do B&B, and were very welcoming and helpful. I'd recommend it if you're thinking of visiting the area.

I was also very taken with the Hafod Hotel at Devil's Bridge, which has exactly the sort of a big, comfy, friendly tea room you want to find if you've just been on a wettish hike to the bottom of the spectacular Devil's Bridge gorge. And the drive back to Climeri from there over the mountain road was glorious...

I came home to find my first advance copy of the new Goblins book, Goblin Quest. It's published this week, so I'll be blogging about it in the next couple of days.  And if you're in Devon, I'll be doing a Goblins event at Exeter's snazzy new Central Library on saturday 21st June at 2pm. Tickets are free, and can be reserved in advance (though you can just turn up on the day, if you prefer).  It's so long since I've done an event without Sarah M that I can't remember how, but I expect I'll do some drawing, and read a bit from the new book, and I may even dust off the Bratapult...