Category Archives: authors

T. M. Alexander blogs about authors

a poor blogging history

I’ve been somewhere else – virtually. An Awfully Big Blog Adventure is a wonderful website run by children’s authors, one of whom blogs every day. I am delighted to be involved, but it means I’ve ignored my own blog.

See examples of what I’ve been saying over on ABBA:


the next big thing

My blogs don’t usually have such grand titles. No surprise then that it’s not my invention. I was tagged by the lovely Rebecca Lisle, author of over 20 children’s books, and my task is to answer ten writerly questions about what I’m working on. The only trouble is, I don’t want to reveal anything, so the content is going to be slim. In honesty, I’d rather not do it at all, but like playground tag, I’m it, so here goes . . .

1 What is the working title of your next book? Bird. Ironic as I detest birds because of the flapping. A pigeon’s wing once grazed my cheek at Bristol Zoo Gardens and I shrieked terrifying all around me. I’ve taught the children to herd them away from me.

2 Where did the idea come from for the book? I visited California last year and went to an amazingly grand house that I’ve used as the setting. The revelation in my story is inspired by Mervyn Peake – a favourite writer of mine as a teenager.

3 What genre does your book fall under? Magic realism – I’m not a label fan so I wrote that reluctantly.

4 What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Elle Fanning would be the heroine. I saw her in ‘Ginger and Rosa’ which I loved.

5 What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? A secret. (It is about a secret, but it’s also a secret.)

6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I am lucky to be represented by Alice Williams at David Higham.

7 How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I’m not there yet . . .

8 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? ‘Skellig’ but obviously not a tenth as good. All praise David Almond.

9 Who or what inspired you to write this book? My sister, who managed not to diss the idea when I drove to Newbury to make her brainstorm with me.

10 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The unusual life of the heroine.

Well, that wasn’t so bad. Just got to work out who to tag and how to do it.

Right, I called the amazing wordsmith Sharon Tanton and have tagged Moira Young and Michelle Robinson  – you’re next.

the SAS, but not as you know it

I spent the weekend, well part of it, at the Scattered Authors’ Society conference in Coventry. It was my first time and I was relieved to find there were no flak jackets or nets to crawl under. There was instead a room full of childrens’ authors with plenty to say. Some highlights were: the commissioning editor from Meadowside because I was interested in her view of eBooks, Mary Hoffman’s talk because she has such a structured approach and because I think her book sounds fantastic, and Helena (am going to have to look up the spelling now) Pielichaty’s lively discussion on political correctness. The lowlights were being inside a room on a sunny day and my pet hate – hotel rooms with no opening windows.

I made up for the lack of fresh air when I got back by a walk round the Downs with my eldest son, with a wee stop for lemon drizzle cake. We talked about genetic mutations and adaptation. We used to talk about dinosaurs. I quite miss that.

Waterstones and Borders

On the way to sign books at Waterstones Roman Gate in Exeter I heard the news on Radio 4 that Borders had gone into administration. Sad. I launched my first book in Borders on Queens Road in Bristol and it was a fabulous event with loads of guests and really great staff. I was assuming I’d launch every book there with Ed as my trusty partner, organising the stock and making nice displays for his ‘local’ author. In the same slot the financial problems in Dubai’s construction industry were reported. We stayed at the Atlantis on the Palm at half-term so it was hardly a surprise to learn that the compete empty buildings weren’t paying their way.

I met Luisa Plaja and Ellen Renner, both children’s authors, at the shop and had a jolly time chatting about stuff. Not many customers, but we offered some reading advice to be helpful so others authors benefited from our sales patter. Thank you Darren, for supporting us.

The event was organised as part of the CARS (children’s authors’ roadshow) initiative whereby authors get together to sell and sign in a variety of venues. We’re meeting up in the New Year to discuss our wildly different ideas about what we should do. I’m going, along as there’s cake.