Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Picture books at Edinburgh Festival

Saturday - day 6
Time for our lovely illustrators to show case their talent starting with Levi Pinfold and his Storybox event. Parents and children filled the space , sitting cushions and all happily drawing the Django to Levi's expert tuition. Drawing games followed along with Levi reading his story encouraging the children to spot where the Django was hiding. After a vote all decided that John wasn't to blame for the mischief making ....

Then it was Adam Stower's turn - also in the Storybox and again a lovely family audience. Adam used the Slam! Big Book and soon the kids were shouting out what they thought would be happening next. Silly Doggy! Made everyone laugh and then Adam drew their magical wish list for a pet which had a dolphin head, giraffe neck and six frog legs with high heels. As you do!

Levi was back in action that evening in a Book Trust Best New Illustrators panel with Viv Schwarz chaired by Teresa Flavin. He showed an early working of Black Dog which included his editor's notes which intrigued the audience. Lots of questions about his painting techniques and why he chose to work in tempera.

Once again lots of compliments from the audience in the signing tent about Templar books

Monday, 29 August 2011


Day Four (Friday) in the authors' yurt, and Teresa Flavin, author and illustrator of The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard, is preparing to go into the RBS Corner Theatre for her event, (seen here with Templar editor Emma and event Chair Nikki Gamble)

Teresa has a fantastic visual presentation to go with her talk, and begins by showing covers of her favourite childhood books, the Nancy Drew mysteries. She also makes an instant impression by telling the rapt audience of 11 year olds she was heavily into Manga as a child and can still draw a mean Manga character!

As Teresa gets into the story of how The Blackhope Enigma came about, kids shift in their seats for the best view of the intriguing pictures of sea monsters and paintings of mythological characters that pop up on the big screen in front of them. She tells the eager listeners how, when she first came to Scotland from America, she would travel in the Borders, visiting as many castles as she could. After all, there aren't castles in America!

As labyrinths feature heavily in her first book, Teresa whets our appetite with several pictures of mazes and labyrinths from around the world, before reading from the chapter where her main characters walk the labyrinth in Blackhope Tower and find themselves inside a painting. Even though I've read the book several times, Teresa has me, along with the young audience, completely gripped.

As the pictures on the screen move from mazes to examples of trompe l'oeil, she explains to the audience how 'trompe l'oeil' means 'fool the eye'. The kids are very impressed by what they are seeing and hearing, as is clear from the odd 'wow' and wide-eyed expression, and are excited to find out that trompe l'oeil is one of the themes of Teresa's second book, The Crimson Shard, to be published on the 1st of October. She treats us to a short taster reading and leaves everyone desperate to know more!

The forest of hands that sprouts when question time begins really shows how Teresa has fired the minds and imaginations of her audience. Some ask very good questions indeed: Did you base your child characters on real people? (Answer - they are all bits of me in one way or another.) Was Fausto Corvo a real artist? (Answer - no, he is fictional, but was loosely based on Caravaggio.) And, the question that drew a sharp intake of breath and a chuckle from all the adults in the room... How old are you? (Answer - I'm not telling! How old are you?!)

I think it's fair to say that as mysteries go, The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard would definitely be right up Nancy Drew's street!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Edinburgh - Day 2 - part 2

It's like stepping into another dimension when entering the yurt at Edinburgh Book festival, conversations go off on an entirely different tangent to the real world happening outside…

"Do you want the fish tank?" ask the helpful staff at the ediburgh book festival.

"Well, only if you have one. I can make do with the book, the clock, I can just explain the fishtank without a demonstration and I've always got my rubber duck". Said Christiane Dorion in her French Canadian lilt. You wouldn't imagine this is the type of thing you might hear from a teacher/doctor/environmentalist/WWF consultant and all round science expert!

But Christiane who left her native Quebec to study a phd in the UK over 20 years ago and stayed, is in fact referring to the visual aids for her schools events. An impressive CV you must admit, and now author can also be added to her list of many talents. She is the writer of the hugely successful series of pop-up science books, How the Weather Works and Blue Peter Award nominee, How the World Works.

Each page is bursting with interactive facts about the universe we live in and the science that surrounds us here on earth everyday.

So… as a class of primary 4 children file into the RBS imagination theatre ready to absorb the knowledge Christiane is eager to pass on.

You could say it is a lot to cover in one hour… starting with the big bang, how the universe was created, our solar system, where weather comes from, the water cycle, what are fossil fuels and even right through to what the future holds for humans on earth. Although some of the children believe we will need to move to another planet entirely, which is not entirely out of the question, she adds.

Christiane is impressed with the huge amount of science knowledge the children already have, even before she has a chance to explain or show her experiments, hands shoot into the air to tell her exactly what all the names of the planets are.

So, you may wonder why the clock and the rubber duck... well... using the 24 hour clock to simulate the existence of the earth until present day, we all learned that the dinosaurs arrived at 23:40, and we humans only arrived at 23:59:46. And as for the duck..? Well, did you know that scientists discovered how the currents of the worlds oceans worked by a shipwreck of plastic toys that spilled it's cargo into the sea and various toys washed up on shores all over the world, including Scotland!

As Christiane prepares herself for the onslaught of questions which range from... 'how did the dinosaurs die?' through to… 'are we alone in the universe?', and as a scientist, she is open to all theories and is happy for the children to come up with their own explanations, but also reminds them that according to current research what she has written in her book is what we believe to be best explanation.

But what facinates Christiane and the message she is keen to get across is the fact that everything on earth moves in cycles. Everything has a life cycle, humans, animals, plants... even the water we drink, the air we breathe and the clothes we wear.

As Christiane concludes her presentation, she is happy to point out the positive message to take from doing events like this, is that children even as young as 8 years old are aware of the changes we need to make to save the fragile environment we live in, and are taking steps towards providing themselves with a sustainable future.

Edinburgh - Day 2 - part 1

I'd bet my last, precious hardback edition of The 10PM Question that Templar author Kate De Goldi has travelled the furthest of any of the hundreds of authors appearing at the festival - further even than Shaun Tan! Having made the mammoth 27 hour journey from Wellington, New Zealand, Kate opened her festival programme with a lively panel discussion alongside author Saci Lloyd and chaired by Nikki Gamble. In front of an audience of around 100 teenagers, Kate told entertaining anecdotes about her Irish-Italian family, who 'talk a lot' and of how she is from a line of 'threes' - three sisters, three aunties, three great-aunts - the latter of which being her inspiration for the eccentric but lovable 'Aunties' who are the heart of the family in her novel. Most candid however, was her description of how she used her young son's anxieties and nightly questions as her inspiration for 12-year-old Frankie, who is at the centre of a chaotic but loving family impacted by mental illness, and the asker of the all-important 10 p.m. question of the title.

After Saci had shown some mind-boggling futuristic images to illustrate her action-packed dystopian novel, Momentum, a hush came over the audience as Kate read an extract from The 10 P.M. Question; it's obvious why Kate has had a successful radio show in New Zealand for the past few years - this blogger was so enthralled while listening to her read, she forgot to take photos for the blog! Frankie's worries, his big sister Gordana's biting sarcasm, the contentment of the family cat (the brilliantly named Fat Controller), even the 'rodent voices' of worry in Frankie's head, were all brought to life in Kate's musical Kiwi voice.

As the floor was opened up for questions, hands shot up, eager to know how Kate and Saci started as authors and whether they liked writing at school. Despite their novels being very different in theme, Kate and Saci discovered they had both been avid readers as children and shared a festive tradition of reading A Christmas Carol every year.

Moving next door to the signing tent, Kate and Saci were kept busy for half an hour by a huge line of young people wanting everything signed - books, leaflets, bags - some of the teens standing wide-eyed and mute in the presence of these two brilliant authors and some brave enough to ask more questions.

As Frankie and his best friend Gigs might have said, this was an event of 'bonga swetso' proportions (read the book to find out what that means!) and luckily for Edinburgh, there is still more to come from the fabulous Kate De Goldi...

Edinburgh - Day 1 - part 2

After a brief sejourn it was back to business for the Templar team at the Edinburgh book festival on Day One. We excitedly awaited the arrival (no pun intended) of Shaun Tan, the visionary creator of Tales from Outer Suburbia, Eric, The Bird King, The Lost Thing - the list goes on and on.

Now as you all know it's been a big year for Shaun (an Oscar, a Hugo, the ALMA ) so we are so delighted that he's flown over 20 hours to be with Templar at the Edinburgh book festival. Even more exciting was catching a glimpse of Neil Gaiman and Shan deep in conversation - now that's the meeting of two amazing creative brains! When we tweeted this sighting, the twitosphere responded excitedly about what sort of book the two could create! Oh well we can but dream!

Anyway, onto the main event - Shaun Tan's Masterclass. Over 150 people packed into the RBS Corner Theatre to hear about Shaun's inspiration, how he works and how he views his own work. We were treated to a clip from the Oscar winning animation The Lost Thing, as well as a storytelling by Shaun of his tale Eric. He even showed the audience some of his early childhood and student illustrations. It was a truly inspiring event and we all can't wait to hear Shaun talk again on Thursday.

After an hour of signing books with his trademark stamps, finger prints and drawings, we decamped to Centotre on George Street for some italian food - delicious scottish squid and more inspiring and bookish conversation.

The end to a perfect Edinburgh Book Festival day.

Templar in Old Reekie - the view from the Edinburgh Festival

The intrepid Templar 5 (pr guru Jayne Roscoe, editor supremo Emma Goldhawk, Ology mastermind Nghiem Ta, design and photographer extraordinaire Will Steele and bibliogeek Helen Boyle) have headed up to Old Reekie with a whole host of Templar authors and illustrators appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival.

Day 1 - Bombs, medals and stuffed rats
We sometimes wonder how Johnny O'Brien gets through airport security. At his packed schools' event on Tuesday morning, out the suitcase came a WW1 German pith helmet, medals, a telescope, a water pistol (which surely must look dodgy in the x-ray machine) a minature bomb and... a stuffed rat. Yes readers of a sensitive disposition - a stuffed rat!

It was somewhat of a homecoming for Johnny as he kicked off events' schedule for Templar Fiction at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival. Johnny Duddle had had the accolade of being Templar's first EdBookFest 2011 event when he donned piratical gear for a pirate crunching last Monday, but Johhny O'B heralded the start of some exciting events, talks and discussions from Templar fiction authors.

To whet the audiences’ appetite for adventure Johnny began by reading an extract from his first book in the Jack Christie Adventures series Day of Assassins. He plunged them straight into a battle scene where they have travelled back to World War 1, Jack finds himself on the front line with rifle in hand and comes into close contact with the opposition. As the children become immersed in the combat situation where Jack is being held at the mercy of a German soldiers bayonette, Johnny decides to leave the story there, quite literally, on a knife-edge!

The kids were hooked by Johnny's historical time-travel patter and eager to get their hands on the historical loot that had come out of the suitcase as it was handed round - well apart from the rat, who took pride of place on the stage's speeker. Amongst the audience for the event were even a group of children from Johnny's old school in Peebles. They had lots of questions for Johnny, including asking if he was the Johhny O'Brien who'd won a history award and whose name adorned a plaque in their school.

An hour passed in a flash and after the event a large signing queue quickly formed in the bookshop tent - we think they may have even sold out of Day of Assassins stock - hurrah!

The team and Johnny headed back to the authors' yurt for a well-earned cuppa tea, before Johnny jetted off back to his city day job.

Shaun Tan visits Seven Stories

Well, despite a marathon flight over from Melbourne to Edinburgh, there was no sign of fatigue or jet lag from Shaun Tan as he met his first audience at the book festival last night. As ever, everyone was entranced with his story of how he works, the themes of his books and the wonderful miscellaneous stories he willingly offers up. Still full of energy he joined the rest of the Templar team for a late night meal. Pick up at 9.30 am this morning, Wednesday to catch the 10 o clock train down to Newcastle. For Shaun, a treat - as he hasn't been out of London on previous visits to the UK - so a chance to catch the stunning scenery on the journey south, through Berwick on Tweed. We were met at Newcastle by Alison Gwynn from Seven Stories who took us to the centre's special collection depository. A quick coffee and a choccie biscuit and then we were being shown amazing original artwork and notebooks by Edward Ardizzone right through to Polly Dunbar's work. Onwards to the Seven Stories building itself and a quick tour round the current Anthony Browne exhibition before getting ready for the event itself.

To a packed room, Shaun started his event guiding us through a pictorial description of 'A Day in the Life...of Shaun Tan'. Where letting iguanas out in the morning refers to a part of his normal domestic life before his starts his 'job'. We all sat in wonder as suddenly the little things in our daily lives could be seen in such an extraordinary way if we just make a small 'adjustment' to the familiar. We were further amazed as we were shown pictures Shaun had drawn through his childhood – Star Wars-like spaceships by the age of 12!

The following 60 minutes, we were treated to insights into the creation of The Lost Thing, both book and award winning film. The Arrival and why it didn't need words. The Red Tree and it's ability to be valued by people in many different ways.

A short 'questions and answers' session was following by a very long queue for a unique Shaun Tan signature! Definitely worth the wait!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Day of Vengeance Blog Tour 5th September - 12th September

I don't know about you, but history lessons at school were always the time for me to catch up on sleep and as a result my history knowledge is holey at best. So, when the Jack Christie Adventures landed on my desk I was horrified to think I was going to have to show up my utter lack of knowledge in trying to remember what happened when, why and how as Jack and his friend Angus went on their adventures through time. I opened the first book, Day of the Assassins, and after an amazing adrenalin-fueled adventure was spat out of the last page with a very odd sensation. I knew how the First World War began! And I hadn't even noticed learning it! Not only that but I had met the assassins of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (yes, I know his name now too!) and had stood there as the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, prepared to fire, wondering if I would have stopped him (I still don't know the answer to that). If only my history lessons had been this thrilling!

Well, I'm very excited to announce that Johnny O'Brien's third time travelling adventure, Day of Vengeance, will be hitting a bookshelf near you in September and to celebrate, Johnny will be touring some of the best young adult fiction blogs in the UK.

Johnny O'Brien

Schoolboy time-traveller Jack Christie is thrown back to 1940s France with the Second World War at a crucial point. The Battle of Britain and the German Vengeance programme are underway, as Jack and his best friend Angus take a more senior role in VIGIL's bid to prevent an intervention in history that could go nuclear. With Spitfire dogfights, jeep races and thrilling chases, the boys have met their most hair-raising adventure yet, including involvement in an assassintation attempt on Hitler.

"Johnny O’Brien has created the ultimate thinking-boy’s hero in Jack Christie. Smart, intuitive and determined to tackle history head-on..." Rachel Williams, Editor

"Jack Christie is a very relatable hero - a regular schoolboy caught in, and coping with, circumstances beyond his control rather than a slick James Bond type of hero who always has all the answers." Teenreads

So basically, get ready for some serious adventure! You may also notice the fabulous new look cover for Day of Vengeance and Johnny will be toting not only his third book but the new look Day of the Assassins and Day of Deliverance too, so watch out for some exclusive giveaways on the tour.

Here's what's coming up on the tour:

5th Sep

On the first day of the tour Johnny will be dropping off his first guest post at Bookhi where you can find out where the characters of Jack and Angus came from, which character from the series was most fun to write and which character presented the most challenges. Bookhi will also be posting a review and hosting a giveaway so don't miss it!

6th Sep

Empire of Books will be the next stop and here Johnny will be talking about where his inspiration for the time travel series came from and also looking at why time travel is such a powerful genre for the modern audience.

7th Sep

Over to Books 4 Teens for the third day of the tour with Johnny's first Q&A. Not to be missed if you want to find out where Jack Christie's 4th adventure will take him..

8th Sep

If you're curious about the writing process then you should definitely stop by Teenage Fiction For All Ages as Johnny will be explaining how he turns his stories from ideas into a published book, including the importance of sheep!

9th Sep

The Bookzone will be hosting the next stop where Johnny will be talking about how writing about history can engage younger readers and in particular those reluctant boys.

10th Sep

High time for an extract from Day of Vengeance to get your juices going and there will be an exclusive excerpt at Bookbabblers who will also be hosting a giveaway.

11th Sep

It's the penultimate stop over at Bookster Reviews where you can find out which particular period in history is Johnny's favourite - or at least which three periods are his favourite...

12th Sep

Last up is Booktastic Reviews who will be putting Johnny to the test with an interview where you can find out the inspiration behind the Taurus time machine and what Johnny's favourite takeaway is! Booktastic Reviews will also be posting a review so if by some miracle you are still undecided at this point make sure you have a read!

For more information on the Jack Christie Adventures, check out our website here or take a look at the Jack Christie Adventures Facebook page here.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Meet The Templar Team ...INTRODUCING Libby Hamilton!

Meet the deeelightful Libby Hamilton Managing Editor!

How long have you been at Templar?
Over five years – since February of 2006.

What does your job involve?
It’s a bit complicated-sounding – I manage the editorial department alongside Emily Hawkins. Together we’re responsible for the editorial staff, other highly interesting management things which I won’t go into (as I don’t want to lose readers on only the second question) and the quality of the editorial content across the list. I also edit and project manage a number of books myself.

What is the most satisfying element of your job?
I love that feeling when a finished copy comes in – it takes at least two months to print and ship a book, so by the time it’s in my hands I’ve forgotten all the hard work and just marvel at how fantastically it’s turned out. I had exactly that experience this week with The Bumper Book of Bob by Simon Bartram.

Have you had any funny awkward moments?
I once called our managing director “Mum” – but I’m hoping she doesn’t remember!

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be an actor-doctor-writer-explorer-superhero. Just the usual really.

What is your most memorable moment or biggest achievement at Templar to date?

‘Farther’, a picture book I edited, won the Greenaway Medal this year, which was pretty big for me. But I feel incredibly proud of loads of books we’ve made over the last five years.

How do you take your tea?

Green and without milk.

Fave book related blogs / twitter accounts/websites ?

I like Book Sniffer and am just starting to follow quite a few people on twitter. I like reading Publisher’s Weekly online, which makes me a nerd. I’m always looking for interesting new illustrators for our picture book list, so often go to their websites and follow their links. Owen Davey’s website had me entranced for far too long. At the moment I’m obsessed by a site called Big Cartel where great illustrators from Bristol and the surrounding area sell their wares. I’m saving up for a Mexican wrestler sculpture!

What are you working on at the moment?
Mike (our art director) and I are just finishing a clutch of amazing picture books for this year – ‘Black Dog’ by Levi Pinfold, ‘The Pirates Next Door’ by Jonny Duddle, ‘Jack and the Baked Beanstalk’ by Colin Stimpson and ‘Knight Night’ by Owen Davey to name but a few. I’m also super-excited about the publication of our new revolting novelty book ‘Monstrous Book of Monsters’, which I wrote. Andy Mansfield did an amazing job on the design and paper engineering and I haven’t had so much fun with a book for a very, very long time.

Are there any authors or illustrators you haven’t worked with yet who you would like to work with in the future?
The list for me of great authors who I’d like to work with is endless. I was lucky enough to work with Michael Morpurgo on ‘Not Bad for a Bad Lad’ and the experience taught me that the most talented people will surprise you by also being the nicest.

AND FINALLY - A few questions sent in via our Facebook site...

At what stage do you like possible submissions?

I think once you’ve got to a stage when you’ve absolutely done everything you can to make it the very best it can be, send it in to a publisher. Remember that unsolicited submissions have to go through a judging process alongside those from established authors and manuscripts from agents – never send anything to a publisher where you’re conscious something about your story isn’t working and expect them to fix it. My other tip is, don’t be prescriptive about the illustrator you see with it, as you’re limiting your appeal to editors who agree with your taste in illustration.

What do you look for in a submission? And when you consider a submission, do you think it's ability to work well as an e-book or app is important?
I look for an original concept, with a twist that I don’t see coming. I also look for someone who has their own voice and an obvious connection with their audience. I specialise in highly illustrated novelty books and picture books, so I’m always looking for someone who can tell an exciting story in very few words – an incredibly difficult skill to master.

I think the idea of it working as an e-book or app is quite separate for me. Things are evolving in that area very quickly, and making an app that actually pays its way is a very difficult thing. I’m definitely still looking primarily for a great story that will make a great page-turner of a book.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

POD Blog Tour 29th August - 5th September

Is it weird to keep a book on your desk so that you can stroke it in times of stress? I hope not because that's what I do with POD by Stephen Wallenfels. Not only is it a brilliantly gripping survival thriller that gets my heart pounding even thinking about it, but the cover has a super matt finish that beats any of those squishy balls in the stress relief department. OK, so I'm sounding a little odd but you'll be doing it too when you get your hands on this fantastic read.

Stephen Wallenfels

PODs hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside.

Josh is 15 and stuck in his house with his dad. They're running out of food... Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey car park. The hotel next door is in the hands of dangerous security staff. She has something they want...

When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself.

"This masterful debut grabs readers by the throat from the first page and never lets go." Kirkus

"A gripping post-apocalyptic novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat, yet has human character and human relationships at its heart." Wands and Worlds

The PODs will be invading bookshelves on 1st September and seeing as you can't risk going outside you might as well stay in and check out what Stephen Wallenfels has to say about his debut young adult novel. Stephen will be hopping around 8 fantastic YA fiction blogs from 29th August to 5th September and if you're a fan of thrilling survival fiction or just like to give your heart some exercise then this is not to be missed!

29th Aug

First up, Stephen will be under the spotlight at Planet Print for an interview and your first chance to get your hands on a very strokeable copy of POD in a giveaway.

30th Aug

The last bank holiday before Christmas is over but not to worry because Stephen has his first guest post lined up for I Want To Read That, so it's not all bad!

31st Aug

At this point you may be pondering: should I add this to my wishlist? Comacalm's Corner will help you make your mind up on the day before publication with a review and you may not even have to add it to your wishlist if you enter the giveaway.

1st Sep

Happy Publication Day! To celebrate, Stephen will be at Book Passion For Life with another guest post and yet another giveaway. Yup, we're totally spoiling you!

2nd Sep

Stephen's second interview of the tour will be held at Writing From The Tub so swing by for some PODtastic insights.

3rd Sep

The Bookzone has challenged Stephen to remember the books and films he enjoyed as a kid and to take a look at how these have influenced his writing. Definitely one not to miss!

4th Sep

The giveaways are back in play and Fluttering Butterflies will have a gripping guest post to boot so if you haven't decided your life is incomplete without this book by now there's something wrong with you :-)

5th Sep

We've reached the end of the tour but I promise it'll be a good one with a review from The Slowest Bookworm alongside the final guest post and giveaway, so don't miss out on the last chance on the tour to bag POD and get some survival action in your life!


Check the skies before you step back outside when the tour is over, I don't want to be responsible for any nasty zapping incidents! Stephen will also be hitting Mostly Reading YA on 23rd August for the Debut Summer Event if you want a sneak preview of him prior to the tour. Find out what inspired POD and more shockingly what time Stephen gets up in the morning...

Stephen Wallenfels is a freelance writer with over 60 feature articles, columns and interviews to his credit. He has also published short stories in national magazines for children and adults. POD is Stephen's first novel and he is currently working on POD 2.

For more on Stephen check out his website.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Boris enjoys the Templar Summer Party!

The great and the good gathered on Saturday at the Templar Summer Party with staff, authors,  illustrators and agents getting together for a good old knees up.

With a monstrous hog roast, humongous bouncy castle, crazy stilt walker, camping (for the brave) and bands, Templar really did make this a party to remember.(and the rain held off!)

Boris of Calm Down Boris fame also made an appearance taking full advantage of the hospitality.

Here are a few snaps he took along the way (expertly assisted by Grahame Baker-Smiths daughters Flossie and Lily).

As you can see a great time was had by all!

A pre party drink...

At Haslemere station - making friends with the fat controller...

Mingling at the party


Chillin' with some chicks 

Enjoying the hog roast!

Making a speech...
With Libby, Flossie and Lily

Feeling woooozey on the bouncy castle

With Will and Libby
With special thanks to Libby, Flossie and Lily - who looked after Boris at the party and made sure he didn't get up to any mischief..almost. !

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Meet the Templar Team!

A moment in the spotlight with Designer and Paper Engineer Andy Mansfield

Who are you?

Andy Mansfield. I live a couple of miles south of Dorking with my wife Debs, and three year old son Rufus.

How long have you been at Templar?

I think it’s coming up for 11 years now.

What’s your job?

Designer and paper engineer.

Did you work at another publisher’s previously or come straight to Templar?

Before Templar I worked for Ron van der Meer, where I honed my paper engineering skills over five years. Ron was a bit of a pioneer of the modern pop-up book, developing hugely complex pop-up books aimed at adults, like the Art pack and the Architecture pack. It was a great place to learn the tricks of the trade.

The Sydney Opera House from The Architecture Pack

What are the best parts of your job?

Coming up with an extravagant pop-up that looks like it shouldn’t fit in the page – but of course it does. Plus you can’t beat the feeling of seeing a finished copy of a book you’ve been toiling over for months.

What are the worst parts of your job?

Having to constantly reign in the amount of paper and glue points we can use in order to save money in the manufacturing process. The once extravagant pop-up ends up being just a flap!

Why is your job is the best one to have in publishing?

Who else can spend half a week trying to get a pop-up bed of nails to work. I don’t think cutting up little pieces of paper and just having fun with them can be beaten in the best job stakes.

Who makes the best cup of tea in the office

I don’t drink tea, so I can’t answer this one. I know I probably make the worst though.

Scummy tea...

What are your favourite books (both Templar and non Templar)?

I love Bob – man on the moon. It’s great to read it (again and again and again) with my son, who loves searching out the aliens. Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House is also a favourite, as it was my first pop-up book.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on several non-fiction novelty titles including the Junior Pop-up Atlas, and How we make stuff (the next in the ‘How the World Works’ series). I’m just about to start working on the pop-ups for the next classic sounds book – Cinderella, which should be fun.

Which projects have you been most proud of?

I’m really pleased with Monstrous Book of Monsters, a bit of a gross-out look at the world of monsters, due out this September. Everything came together really well, and we’ve ended up with a great product that looks fantastic. During my years at Templar I’ve been very lucky to have worked on a variety of really exciting titles, but I’m probably most proud of the Marvel True believers pop-ups I worked on a few years back. I pretty much had a free reign to do what I wanted with Marvel’s back catalogue of classic comic artwork, and I think they worked out really well.

Quickfire Questions ...

Which Monster Mate are you most like? Nosey Norman...
Bookshop or library Bookshop
Physical or digital Both have their own place, but probably physical
Mac or PC Mac
Coffee or tea I don’t drink either
Biscuit or cake Cake
Heatwave or snowstorm Snowstorm.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Bundle of Boris!

One of the especially cool things about working with Children’s books is all the colourful characters we have coming through our offices.

So, when someone emptied a bag of Boris’ onto UK Sales Manager Clare’s desk, I couldn’t resist grabbing a snap.

Aren’t they irresistable? Hands off everyone!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Shaun Tan on Tour!

Shaun Tan - Award winning author and illustrator of The Bird King, Tales from Outer Suburbia and The Arrival :  winner of the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award for his contribution to children's literature and an Oscar for his short film, The Lost Thing is in the UK this August.

He will be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Tuesday 23 August and Thursday 25 August

On Wednesday 24 August he is at Seven Stories in Newcastle.

He arrives in London on Tuesday 30th August and will be doing a book signing at Foyles, Charing Cross Road from 2.00pm.

Later that same evening, he is in conversation with  Paul Gravett - Director of Comica Festival and editor of “1001 Comics You Must Read Before you Die” at Waterstone's Piccadilly at 7.00 pm.  This is a ticketed event. For more information, please contact  0207 851 2400 or  events@piccadilly.waterstones.co.uk.

Finally, a wonderful exhibition of over 30 original paintings and prints of Shaun's artwork is on display at The Illustration Cupboard in Bury Street, London from 9th August to mid-September. www.illustrationcupboard.com

POD has landed

We are so chuffed to have our very own POD adorning the front of the Bookseller's Children's Buyer's Guide this month. Have a look at this:

It's great to see this fab book in the spotlight, getting the attention it deserves. POD is the first book by American author Stephen Wallenfels and follows Josh and Megs, who have to find a way to survive when the arrival of invading alien 'PODs' hovering in the sky mean they're trapped inside. What would YOU do to survive?! 

Stephen Wallenfels

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-­surviving humanity is another. I'm all cried out. I'm still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I've only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don't have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other?

Check out Stephen's own website for links to book trailers, sample chapters and more.

And, only one week left until the POD website goes live. Be sure to check back here for the launch of http://www.podinvasion.co.uk/