Wednesday, 29 May 2013

WELCOME to our new PR manager - Laura Smythe

Introducing our new PR Manager Laura Smythe 

"I decided I wanted to get into publishing after University but I didn't discover my love for children's books until I started working at The Golden Treasury, a rather charming bookshop in Southfields, London. For about two years I had a brilliant time reading new titles, recommending to customers and buying in all of the children's books. This completely fuelled my desire to get involved with the publishing side and having organised lots of events and really enjoying them, publicity seemed like the perfect fit.

I was lucky enough to become Children's Publicist at Faber in 2008 and for four and a half years I worked across a range of titles and with authors such as the very beardy Philip Ardagh, Francesca Simon and Mackenzie Crook, to name a few. I am now very excited to be working for Templar and Piccadilly Press and currently reading through all of their fantastic new titles. The Testing and Drummer Girl are fab and I am looking forward to getting stuck into The Jade Boy by Cate Cain, which is clearly going to be a huge hit.

Plus I arrived to a big bag of Maltesers and some flowers on my desk - what more could you want?!"

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shadow Lantern post-tour thoughts from Teresa Flavin

Full Circle

Seven years ago, I began writing a story inspired by labyrinths.  I had absolutely no idea that this creative experiment would result in a trilogy of novels, many talks at schools, libraries and festivals, and a writing residency on a Finnish island!

When you begin walking a labyrinth (which, unlike a maze, has one path to the centre) it seems straightforward. There are no decisions to make. You just follow the path, or so it seems. The centre doesn’t seem too far away at first and the path seems to be taking you straight there, but suddenly it turns. You find yourself continually walking away from the centre, but you have to let go of frustration and trust that you will get there in the end. This is a nice metaphor for writing a book, I think. You set off on the path, are diverted and seem to go backwards, but if you stay the course, you work your way to completion. 

Last week I travelled around Scotland and spoke to schools about the inspirations, stories and pictures that are behind The Blackhope Enigma, The Crimson Shard and most recently, The Shadow Lantern.  I told them about all the places where my creative path had been diverted and how I often went backwards instead of forwards, but that this is an important part of my writing process.

As I stood onstage at one school, looking out at eighty eager faces, I realised what a long way I had come. At the start of this writing journey, I struggled with reading my stories aloud to listeners (too fast, too breathless!) but now I love it. I couldn’t have imagined the stunning places I would read aloud in, from the Outer Hebrides to the West Sussex coast, from the Great Hall in Lennoxlove House to the cosy tents at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Visiting each place and meeting its readers has been an amazing privilege brought about by the excellent support of Templar Publishing.
I was a bit unprepared for another realisation: that it felt different (and very good) to speak about the trilogy as a completed whole. I had come full circle. Of course I wanted to introduce The Shadow Lantern and to explain why the story excites me so much, but it was wonderful to place it in context. And I particularly loved meeting pupils who brought me a pile of all three books to sign, then ran to sit down and start reading from the very beginning of The Blackhope Enigma. It was a slightly odd and very gratifying feeling to see a row of children buried in one or the other of my books.

After I had answered the last question, signed the final book and waved goodbye to the pupils, I ate a huge piece of cake and drank a whole pot of tea in Edinburgh’s Looking Glass Books. I could have sat there all afternoon but there was something niggling at the back of my mind. The pupils and lovely bookseller had told me about a labyrinth in George Square, very near to the bookshop. I could not think of a more fitting end to my book tour than to walk a new path.
I was the only one there in the pouring rain. Entering the circular replica of the famous Chartres Cathedral labyrinth and following its path, I was once again struck by how it wove close in, then far away from the centre. When I reached it, shoes soaked and umbrella dripping, I paused: here I was at the powerful core of the intricate tiled pattern. Where would my imagination be transported next?

As I retraced my steps and left the labyrinth, I experienced the joy of having come full circle and the anticipation of finding the next point of embarkation on the writing journey.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Emily Diamand at Templar Towers

This afternoon we had the lovely Emily Diamand visting us to talk about the marketing of her new book Ways to See a Ghost. 

The book is not released until July, but without setting of any spoiler alarms we can promise you an exciting paranormal adventure where horror meets ghost story in a contemporary setting.

Eyes open in July everyone!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Templar at the English Association's 4-11 Picture Book Awards

The lovely Katie Cotton, Editor, has blogged about Templar's success at the English Association's Picture Book Awards

On Wednesday, we were lucky enough to be invited to the rather beautiful (and architecturally impressive) British Academy for the English Association’s 2013 4–11 Picture Book Awards. Templar got two (yes, that’s right, TWO!) of the four prizes, scooping both the Fiction and Non-Fiction awards in the 7–11 category.

Where My Wellies Take Me, by Clare and Michael Morpurgo / illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill, won the Fiction award. It’s always lovely to get nice comments on our books, and we especially enjoyed hearing the judges say that this was a book that really celebrated the English countryside, both in terms of natural beauty, through Olivia’s stunning artworks, and the literature it has inspired, by featuring some of the nation’s best-loved poems. How We Make Stuff by Christiane Dorian, illustrated by Beverley Young, won the Non-Fiction award, with the judges praising its innovative and educative use of novelty in explaining difficult concepts.

The worthy winner of Fiction 4–7 was the hilarious Hippospotamus – a tale of a hippopotamus who has a spot on her bottamus from publishing royalty Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Andersen Press). The Non-Fiction 4–7 Award went to A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld. A little like Wellies in terms of its ‘part poetry, part scrapbook’ feel, this is a gorgeous book from Walker that captures the simple loveliness that is everywhere in nature, if you can only look.

Unfortunately neither of the Morpurgos could make the ceremony, but Christiane, Beverley and Olivia were all invited up to the stage for some award-holding and photo-taking. After a lovely reception, where the other shortlisted books were greedily pawed over by the Templar team and a fair amount of wine was drunk, we moved on to the buzzing café of the ICA for more wine and chatting.

Massive congratulations to our super-talented contributors, and thanks to the English Association for a lovely evening!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Illustrating 'There, There' – By Ivan Bates

Illustrator Ivan Bates tells us about the process of illustrating There, There, written by Sam McBratney.

There There is my fifth book with Sam and he always makes illustrating very easy to enjoy. With faultless pace, tender emotion, and characters you want to embrace (often literally) he has consistently given me all the things I need to turn little seeds of ideas into blossoming pictures, and There There was no different.

My part of the story began with those bears. Hansie simply had to be seen. He started off as a doodle but the little fellow just wouldn't stay still. He kept flowing out of the end of my pencil and onto the paper, insisting that I do more. He knew that I liked drawing ducks, (believe me, I've drawn hundreds) and he wanted to follow and play with them on the drawing pad, so I let him. It wasn't long before that little scribble had turned into a duck-walking, ditch-falling, cuddle-getting, bouncy little bear.

Dad bear, however, started life as a hat. An old straw one, that was a bit frayed at the edges, a bit like the one I can just about remember my grandfather wearing, when I was very young. He gradually appeared from underneath this hat, all tufty and brown, complete with his slightly scruffy sports jacket and glasses, as if almost by magic. It was certainly a less conscious process than some characters I’ve created, in the past. I could easily imagine him trying hard to set veg in his garden - not always very successfully. In fact I'm pretty sure that it was Mum bear who really knew what to do and was not surprised when Dad got into a scrape himself, hence her expression when picking out the thorn from his foot.

Characters often live alongside you, when you’re illustrating. Before any final art is done, they have already lived a full existence in your head and you’ve imagined them in all sorts of funny situations. It is as if the book is just a snapshot of what you know they're like and what they've been up to, all along. Small and inquisitive Hansie bounces along in his haphazard way, while enormous Dad is watchful, (he’s always close by) patient and most importantly, is always there when he’s most needed.

And it was capturing the emotion in those 'most needed' moments that was perhaps the key to the whole book, for me. There are few feelings that compare to comforting and cuddling your child. It is almost as if, for that time, the rest of the world doesn't exist - just you and them. And that was what I tried to show in many of the illustrations. If the reader can share and enjoy that same feeling of intimacy, from my art in the book, then I would consider that to be a success. I mean, who wouldn't feel good having a long, gentle hug from a big Daddy bear?

Friday, 10 May 2013

Meet Justin Richards

Author of The Wolfstone Curse, Justin Richards, popped into the office, and so we took the opportunity to ask  him the important questions...

How do you take your tea/coffee? 
JUSTIN: White, no sugar, and often! I ha
ve a little sign up in my office that says: 'No coffee - no workee'

Who should we be following on Twitter?  
JUSTIN: Apart from me, of course - @JJCRichards - and @TemplarBooks I'd suggest Mr Ripley's Enchanted books - @EnchantedBooks

What super power would you have? 
JUSTIN: The ability to streeeettttttcccch time, so that I can get more things done!

6 things you couldn't live without:
JUSTIN: Well, my wife and two sons for starters - is that three or can I just say 'Family'? I think I can. And I'm assuming nourishment and shelter are sorted or it'd be a boring list of Food, Drink, Clothes, House, Health, and Vampire-Killing stakes.
So: 1 - Family
2 - Doctor Who
3 - Laptop
4 - Bacon sandwiches
5 - Coffee (see above!)
6 - Imagination
What would your last supper be? 
JUSTIN: It's be a million separate courses, with a long break between each - I mean, like, hours between each course. Really.

What's the biggest secret that you're willing to reveal on our blog? 
JUSTIN: Well, I did once kidnap someone. But that was an accident.

Follow Justin on Twitter @JJCRichards
The Wolfstone Curse is publishing July 2013 - preorder your copy here

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Shadow Lantern Book Launch: Much Deserved Thanks!

Teresa Flavin is on the blog today telling us all about the launch of her latest book, The Shadow Lantern.

On the eve of May Day, with spring finally in the air in Glasgow, forty-five guests and I assembled in Waterstones Argyle Street to celebrate Templar’s publication of The Shadow Lantern, the final adventure in The Blackhope Enigma trilogy.

After a busy day preparing chocolate cakes and chilling down the beverages, it was wonderful to stand in front of a table heaped with copies of The Shadow Lantern, a vase of flowers and a cool lantern-style planter brought by a friend. I was flanked by ‘Watson’, the skeletal star of the new book trailer who attracted quite a lot of attention throughout the evening!

Having held my two previous launches at studio spaces, it was a pleasant change to have this one hosted by Waterstones and to be surrounded by shelves of books. My lovely agent, Kathryn Ross of Fraser Ross Associates Literary Agency, spoke first, saying lots of things that were so nice my face went crimson. By the time it was my turn to speak, I had to rely on the notes I’d made on an index card to remember all the people I wanted to thank. Besides Kathryn and Waterstones, I thanked Templar Publishing and Candlewick Press for their continuing support and enthusiasm for my books. I really am pleased to work with both these fantastic publishers.

I also thanked The Scottish Book Trust and Creative Scotland for awarding me a four-week writer’s residency in Finland last spring. I wrote much of The Shadow Lantern while living on Suomenlinna, a stunning and historic fortress island that is a World Heritage site. I was fortunate to meet a number of Finnish authors, illustrators, artists and publishing professionals who enriched the experience even further.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of promoting my books has been making video trailers (watch the trailer at the bottom of the post) and building new websites. I had a lot of friends and colleagues to thank for their expertise and help with filming, editing, sound engineering and website development. My final thanks went to my dear husband, who has encouraged and supported me throughout my writing journey.

It was great fun to read a particularly dramatic excerpt from The Shadow Lantern. Some years ago, the idea of reading my work aloud to an audience would have made me very nervous, but now it is one of the chief pleasures of doing events. I also love signing books; it gives me a chance to speak with everyone, especially young readers, and thank them for choosing my books.

We ended the evening stuffed with chocolate cake and fizzy drinks. When the last guests had left, I could do nothing but smile; the trilogy was happily finished and launched. At that moment my mind turned to the future – and the excitement of writing the next book.

Follow Teresa on twitter: @TeresaFlavin