I have just returned from nine weeks in New Zealand to a chilly English welcome, (the weather I mean!). I was determined while away that as well as a holiday, I would write 30,000 words of Book nine, (which I almost achieved) but I did break from my writing for a three city tour in Australia and on my return spent a week visiting schools in a part of New Zealand that I hadn’t visited before. I have a bit of space for writing now before I start the Destiny tour in June. We hope to include a trip to Ireland as that is where the book is set but nothing has as yet been confirmed. As soon as possible, I will, make details of that tour available on both my websites.
Those of you who keep watch for film news will be aware of the recent discussions/rumours that have been circulating. I can’t say anything yet other than that for the first time since I signed I actually will have something really significant to report and the news is good – there will be an official announcement made shortly. I honestly think there is a 90% chance that they will start filming this year. And I can confirm that the title of the Spooks’ Apprentice/Last Apprentice film will be ‘The Seventh Son’.
The tour in Australia was busy but again I got to see some fantastic scenery and as always met some lovely booksellers, librarians, teachers and of course children. We started in Sydney and I had my first visit to the Blue Mountains where, as well as school visits, Evie from ‘Megalong Books’, very kindly drove us around and ensured we got some of the best views of the mountains, (I couldn’ t resist a photo of a rock that looked like a dragon) and of course, the ‘Three Sisters’. I enjoyed the train journey from Sydney – it is very scenic and I always like catching the train in any country I am in (I don’t like to be away from trains for too long!). I had a good afternoon at Pinerolo – The Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath. Margaret Hamilton has had many years in the publishing industry and she now hosts events from her home. It is a very interesting place for an author visit as it is deep in the bush (they have to have regular bush fire drills) and Margaret has made a feature of the art from her years of publishing picture books. I had another great train journey to the central coast, where I had a day at the Gosford library and spent the night in Terrigal - a beautiful beach resort. It was very relaxing and I would like to spend a few days there next year.
I visited the Sydney botanic gardens which as well as being a very nice walk had the added interest of flying foxes (they look like giant vampire bats) which I was surprised to see were so numerous and visible by day. That was very inspiring for an author such as me! Apparently there is a bat farm up the coast which will definitely be on the agenda next time I am in Australia.
It was another good event at The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft. Paul Macdonald is very enthusiastic about books and reading, hosting many events at the book shop and taking authors into schools. He has a great shop, well worth a visit.
I had a very busy day in Tourquay, a one hour drive from Melbourne and gateway to the Great Ocean Road. I gave four talks in a row at Tourquay College, and I am sorry to say, scared a few of the children in one group. I think since I started including power point in my presentation my talks have become more gory – or perhaps I am channelling Grimalkin a bit too much. I need to finish editing that book so she stops being such a bad influence!
The two days in Perth weren’t long enough but I had an enjoyable visit to Bullsbrook Community Library, and the drive from Midland to Bullsbrook was very scenic - though the only evidence of wildlife was a dead kangaroo. However, earlier in the tour I did glimpse a live snake which slithered past my publicist’s foot without sinking its fangs into her!
New Zealand Tour
Back in New Zealand I drove for the first time down the North Island (usually I fly) from Auckland to Palmerston North which takes in the desert road (and a view of Mt Tongariro and Ruapehu, if you are lucky), and the beautiful lake Taupo. ‘Paper Plus’ had scheduled school visits in Palmerston North, Hawera and Feilding which again were very well organised and the audiences were well prepared and very receptive, with some very good questions. I was very pleased in Hawera to see the volcano Mt Taranaki poking out through the clouds. A return visit to that region is very much on the cards for the future.
While I was in New Zealand, one of the main cities, Christchurch, experienced a devastating earthquake with many lives lost and the heart of the city destroyed. On my first visit to New Zealand in 2008, I spent a week in Christchurch and it was very distressing to think that the places I had visited were now destroyed
Soon after that came news of the terrible Japanese earthquake with even greater devastation and loss of life. I have not yet been able to do a book tour of that country but do have contacts with Mr Akiko Tanaka, the translator for the Japanese editions. I t was good to discover that he and his family were safe.
My heart goes out to all who have been affected by both earthquakes.
Blue Mountains, Australia