A Black Tentacle for McIntyre!

The Kitschies awards are a prize for 'progressive, intelligent and entertaining literature with a speculative element', and last night they awarded their Red Tentacle for Best Novel of 2014 to Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, while the Golden Tentacle for Best Debut went to Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre. But they also dish out an annual Black Tentacle for special achievements, and this year they have wisely awarded it to international celebrity hatstand Sarah McIntyre for 'her outstanding support of genre literature and her fellow artists ... McIntyre has worked to elevate the conversation around genre literature; she also recently started the #NonIdentikit challenge, in which she encourages other illustrators to present more diverse faces in their work.' 

She's also been working hard recently to help ensure that illustrators (and designers, and translators) get the credit they're due.

There's a notable unfairness in the way that illustrated books are listed on Amazon, in newspapers, and on awards shortlists: they are always credited to the writer, but seldom to the illustrator. This led to a ridiculous situation last year when Oliver and the Seawigs was longlisted for an award and, despite the fact that we created it together and both our names on the cover, it was referred to in their listings as 'by Philip Reeve'. 

Sarah was able to persuade them to look again at their policy, but it's a problem that keeps cropping up with other books and other illustrators.  It's not just about hurt pride; it's bad for business if illustrators names are left off listings, and it costs them book sales if people can't use an illustrator's name to search for their other books on sites like Amazon and Waterstones.  But where I would just grumble and shrug, McIntyre has leapt into action, drawing attention to the problem and sniffing out the underlying reason why it keeps on happening (because of metadata, apparently).

So I'm very proud of my co-author, and very pleased that our Dartmoor Pegasus has become the fat, flying poster-pony for #PicturesMeanBusiness.

                                                                                                           Picture by Sarah McIntyre

Mal Peet


Photo:Tim Cuff/PA

I was very sad to learn yesterday of the death of Mal Peet. People in the publishing world always seem to refer to each other as lovely, kind, beautiful human beings - at least in public. In Mal's case it really was true; I've never heard a bad word said about him. I didn't know him very well, but he lived here in Devon, so I bumped into him a few times on trains to London or planes to the Edinburgh Book Festival. He was always wonderfully friendly, and great company.

He was so well-known and so highly regarded in the book world that I always assumed he was one of those elder statesmen who had been writing for decades, but in fact he only published his first novel in 2003 (although he had been working on educational titles with his wife, Elspeth Graham, for some years before that). He produced more fine books in the last twelve years than most of us will manage in a lifetime: Keeper, Tamar, The Penalty, Life: An Exploded Diagram... I saw several people online yesterday refer to him as one of our best YA authors, and that's certainly true, but Mal defied genres and categories, so it's probably fairer just to say that he was one of our best authors.

Now that spring is here, I'm tuning my ukelele, dusting off my space-suit, and heading out to do more author events with That Sarah McIntyre. We'll be in exotic Walthamstow on Monday and in Leicester next week, doing big events for local schools. Then at the end of the month (18th - 22nd March) we've been invited to bring our Cakes in Space caketacular to the Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire. I love visiting Ireland, and we had a great time last time we did Mountains to Sea.  If you're in the area, we'll be talking about writing and illustrating children's books with Steve Cole and Tom Donegan on Friday  and doing the full Cakes show on Saturday afternoon, and we'd love to see you there.

Photo: Sarah McIntyre

I've also been busy reading the shortlist for the YA Book Prize. It's been a pleasure, because it's a very strong list, and I'm very impressed by the quality of books being published for young people at the moment. There are at least five which I'd be quite happy to see win when the award is announced on 19th March. (I'll blog about all my favourites afterwards.)

And finally, it's just been announced that Cakes in Space is one of the titles selected for this year's Summer Reading Challenge, a brilliant initiative which gets thousands of kids reading through the summer holidays every year (Sarah M did the illustrations for it last year). We're very pleased that Cakes in Space is going to be a part of it, and OUP have just revealed the slightly simplified cover design for the paperback edition, which will be released this summer.

Artwork by Sarah McIntyre

Reeve & McIntyre 3: Pugs of the Frozen North

Just back from the Oxford University Press sales conference, where I was talking about Railhead, and also about the new Reeve and McIntyre book, which will be called...

Sarah McIntyre

It's an everyday story of two children and a team of sixty-son a race to the North Pole, and I think it's going to be pug-tastic. The basic idea was Sarah's, and we came up with the story together, as usual. Here's the back cover...

Sarah McIntyre

If you pop over to McIntyre's blog you can see some of the lovely interior artwork, which she's busy working on as we speak. The pugs will be arriving at a bookshop near you this September.

As for Railhead, the cover is still a SECRET, but I read a bit, and it seemed to go down well...

There's lots of other good stuff on the OUP list for this autumn. I particularly liked the look of SUPER HAPPY MAGIC FOREST, by Matty Long. It's a sort of picture-book fantasy quest parody, a full of elaborate, joke-packed pictures like this...

Matty Long

And I also found that Matty Long has drawn a Mortal Engines picture!

Matty Long