I was very excited last year to find out that Slated was short listed for the Falkirk RED book award in Scotland!
But then I looked at a map:
That's a long, looooooong way. What else could I do while I was there? I put my thinking cap on and asked a few friends, and this is what happened:
The winning bid was organized by awesome school librarian Beth Khalil at Charles Thorp School. Not only did they raise all £460 to cover their bid for the red cross appeal, with sponsored reads - hurrah for reading! - and other efforts, they kept going...all the way to £850. Wow.
I consulted my map, and realized it was on the way to Falkirk. I had a cunning plan...and away I went.
I did get on the wrong train, on purpose (long story), but got there last Monday in time for a dinner with a bunch of bookish types, Scoobies (SCBWI writing and illustrating friends) and lovely librarians:
From left - Maureen Lynas, Claire O'Brien, Janet Foxley, me, Marie-Claire Imam-Guttierrez, Deborah Court, Gill Hodgson, Cathy Brumby, and Beth Khalil. We seem to be bathed in the warm light of creativity.
On Tuesday morning it was off to Charles Thorp! Kindly collected by my new favourite bookman, Ian McGow of New Horizons Books (or so he got me to write when I signed a book for him ;o), it was off to spend a double lesson with top set year 9. I did a talk, and then we went through writing they'd done and sent to me: kind of a giant critique group. The writing was so varied and I was floored by how good it was. Bit scared if they all keep writing I could be out of a job one day...
This was followed by meeting the school book group, answering some questions, and a debate about male YA characters.
Me with some of the students:
Then there was an interview by a year 11 and a year 12 student. This was videod so I'll put a link up when I can.
Thanks to Beth Khalil for amazing organizing and, if that isn't enough, taking photos, too.
Then it was off to the train station, where I got on the wrong train (by accident, this time: trains really do look a lot alike, don't they?). I still got to Falkirk in time for the dinner with Falkirk RED book organizer, Yvonne Manning, the awards committee, and the other short-listed authors: Chris Priestley (Mr Creecher), Matt Dickinson (Mortal Chaos), and David Massey (Torn).
Next morning, we were all seeing red: at the Falkirk RED - read, enjoy, debate - book awards. Eight schools did presentations, so two schools for each book. They were AMAZING!
For Slated, first Bo'ness Academy, and the Weakest Link:
They were asked questions about Slated, and if they got one wrong....they were hauled off to be Slated!
Such a fun idea, and how can you not like a sea of red Slated Tshirts? (and thanks very much to the boy who - literally - gave me the shirt off his back). Here are most of them later:
Then there was Larbert Highschool, with a version of Slated that was so funny I was laughing too hard to take photos (if anyone has any - particularly of Kyla being Slated - please send them to me!).
I did manage to take this one, of Ben having his Levo cut off by Kyla:
There was also an international element to the RED book award this year: an international school in Nairobi, Kenya, shadowed the scheme, and made a DVD of their interpretation of Slated.
Through the day there were prizes for the best red accessories, a book review competition, a rather nice lunch and some book signing. The authors spoke for a few minutes, and also did a Q&A from the audience.
And then, it was time.
There were drumrolls....
And Slated won!
The whole RED experience was amazing - the enthusiasm of the librarians and students made me feel that reading is in safe hands.
And I'm sure I won because I wore my lucky red shoes.
Thanks to Falkirk Libraries for the last two photos.
That evening it was off to do an event at Waterstones in Livingston. This time, there was no opportunity to get on the wrong train: bookselller, pal and writer Eve Harvey wisely came and collected me.
I spoke to very enthusiastic group of readers there, with Eve and the audience asking questions, and signed a load of Slated and Fractured - there are signed copies available there now!
AND I had an early copy of Shattered - out in less than five weeks now - along:
Thanks to Bonnie and Kelly for this photo.
And then, there was pizza.
The next morning, it was time to pack and say goodbye to Falkirk, and head for the train.
I got on the wrong train (on purpose, so that's okay) and met Eve in Edinburgh, and we visited two Waterstones and left loads of signed Slated and Fractured behind: available now at Waterstones West End (on Princes Street) and Waterstones George Street (strangely enough, on George Street).
And we had the best cake with the BEST view - seriously, if you're in Edinburgh, go to the cafe at Waterstones on Princes Street. Thanks to Eve for the photos.
Something astonishing happened:
Drum roll, please:
I got on the right train!!
Back in rainy London, it was time for the Launch party for Books With Bite.
Books With Bite has been developed into three areas - Slated is in Thriller & Sci-Fi, and here I am next to the poster for it!
Bloggers and booksellers were in a presentation, and then came forth. It was fun to meet people I've known on line, like George Lester, who I straight away recognized from his youtube review of Slated (here), Dani (pentopaper), Luna (lunaslittlelibrary), Michelle (flutteringbutterflies), Jenny (chocolatechunkymonkey), and Ashleigh (ashleighonline), to name a few. Other authors there included Ruth Warburton and Robert Muchamore.
And there were books given away! One of which was Shattered. It's out in a bit less than five weeks now but there were some early copies there: very exciting to be signing them!
Also in the back of Shattered is an excerpt from the shiny new thing I'm writing, right now. Or, at least, I should be. Once I finish this blog, and maybe have a weekend off.
And then it was home time. I got on the right train - again! - and was soon yawning in my PJs and reflecting on the week.
It was brilliant, though I've kind of lost my voice from all the talking, and it is safe to say I am completely...