Early proofs of A POCKETFUL OF CROWS…
And as midsummer flashes by, here’s a quick update of what’s been happening here in the Shed (and out of it). A POCKETFUL OF CROWS has an illustrator – Bonnie Helen Hawkins, whose work I came across by chance when she wrote to me after hearing my TEDx talk of a couple of years ago. I realized at once that she and I had certain ideas in common; I loved her art, and she’s now working hard (and to a tight deadline) to illustrate my book, which suddenly seems much less far away than it did a few weeks ago. If you want to check out Bonnie’s work, her website is right here – http://www.bonniehelenhawkins.com/ and you can see examples of her black-and-white work, which I particularly love. With her help, the book should look great – and it’s coming out in October, just in time for Hallowe’en…
It’s been a month of illustrators. Last week I was in Skye, celebrating the birthday of Charles Vess, who’s going to be illustrating HONEYCOMB – we had a long talk about how I envisaged the book, but I’m really quite happy for Charles just to do his thing. It is a Good Thing (even though we who await it are getting quietly impatient to actually see the Thing.)
Meanwhile, the band and I have been working on new songs for #Storytime, including one to go with A POCKETFUL OF CROWS and the Twitter story from which it grew. Here we are at Lowdham, as part of the literary festival there – the venue was a beautiful little 12-century church, and although the space was a little challenging (I had to stand in the pulpit!), the welcome was great, the audience was enthusiastic, and it sounded terrific.
Most disappointingly, Buxton Litfest has cancelled our July event, due to the inability of the organizers to arrange sufficient time to get into the venue and set up. I’m hoping we can arrange something else for July, but if not, please watch this space for more gig dates in autumn…
Wow. It’s been a busy few weeks! Fans of my RUNE books – I’ve finally finished the first draft of the sequel to THE GOSPEL OF LOKI! It’s set between the end of LOKI and the beginning of RUNEMARKS, and should answer a lot of the questions you’ve been asking. It’s called THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI, and will be coming out next year.
Meanwhile, RUNELIGHT is being republished by Gollancz with a fabulous new cover by Andreas Preis, plus a new chapter from me, so look out for that, too….
And it’s been a busy few weeks for the #Storytime band, who have been playing venues with me in Liverpool and Southport, and trying out some new songs. Thank you to everyone who came! Here were are at the Atkinson in Southport as part of the festival – but don’t worry if you missed it, there will be more (just check out the Events page to find where and when)…
After the gig at the York Festival…
Hello from the Oxford Litfest, where I’ve been spending the whole week interviewing authors, attending lectures and working on the last bit (I hope!) of THE GOSPEL OF LOKI 2. The other day I interviewed Eleanor Barraclough, historian, adventurer and author of BEYOND THE NORTHLANDS (here we are, talking about Vikings, Victorian sex toys, what it’s like to be knighted with a walrus penis bone, and generally I suspect having more fun than Serious Authors are supposed to).
The band and I also got to play in Worcester College’s lovely new lecture theatre. In Leeds, people were showing us their #Storytime tattoos: in Oxford we were introduced by a lady in evening dress and pearls – and yet in both cases it’s great to see how much these stories mean to you, and how well you relate to them. We’ll be doing some more gigs in May – watch the Events board for details. Meanwhile, here’s Kevin, looking deceptively relaxed for what was a pretty hectic night…
Spring is in the air, and the band and I are continuing to write songs to go with the HONEYCOMB book, and building the live #Storytime show. These are the gigs we’ll be doing next month (click onto the link for details of where and how to book). We’ll be airing some new material, too, as well as some older favourites…
Remember the scent of your old school? That blend of chalk dust, and mown grass, and polish, and cabbage, and teenage sweat? Remember on your first day, checking out the teachers, the other pupils; the classrooms? Remember how it seemed as if you’d never get used to the size of it, or the amount of homework, or the maze of corridors? Perhaps you were bullied. Perhaps you were shy. Perhaps you didn’t quite fit in. If so, you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Even murderers have to start somewhere.
In a previous life, before Chocolat, I taught French at a boys’ independent grammar school. I was there for fifteen years, and during that time, I collected enough stories to write a hundred books. A school is a stage on which tragedy and farce are never more than a moment away: a place in which every day, young lives are shaped, secrets shared, dramas enacted. And sometimes there’s something darker – unformed as yet, but waiting to grow.
Different Class is the third of a series of novels set in the fictional Northern town of Malbry. It follows on directly from Gentlemen and Players, revisiting St Oswald’s Grammar School (and most of the characters therein) a year after a series of distressing events, which culminated in murder. In narrative terms, it also precedes Blueeyedboy, which is set in the area around the school, and it features some of the main characters. So technically, this is a trilogy (I’ve always rather liked trilogies) although each story stands alone, and the books can be read in any order.
St Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys has been through some rough times over the past year. The murder of a schoolboy; the loss of the Head and several key members of staff, coupled with a disastrous set of exam results, have brought the place to the brink of ruin. Only a Crisis Intervention – designed to salvage failing schools – can save it now, which is why Roy Straitley, the eccentric Latin Master and main protagonist of Gentlemen and Players, is (not quite reluctantly) delaying his retirement for one more year. But a trendy new Head, a Crisis Team, a paper-free environment and a prospective merger with Mulberry House, St Oswald’s all-female counterpart, is only the start of a wave of change that promises to engulf him.
And when the Head turns out to be an ex-pupil of Straitley’s, the boy at the heart of a scandal that ended with a St Oswald’s master in jail, can Straitley’s loyalty survive, or, as he discovers the truth, will he find himself faced with the task of destroying the school he loves?
The new edition of RUNEMARKS, re-edited and with a new introduction, with cover art by the same marvellous Andreas Preis who designed the jacket for THE GOSPEL OF LOKI…
Artwork by Andreas Preis: publisher: Gollancz.
Blog tour dates: (each blog will be running extracts from the book, and lots of other things, too…)
Click on the picture for Q & A, background and advance info on DIFFERENT CLASS.
Click here for advance reviews.
Click here for signings, readings and festivals.
Click here for Radio 3’s In Tune podcast, with interview and reading from the book.
Click here for the Radio 4 interview with Jim Naughtie.
Click here for an interview with Joanne (Swindon Litfest, 2016).
Click here for BBC TV Meet The Author with Jim Naughtie.
Click here for Barry Forshaw’s review for the Independent.
Photographs by Jonathan Jacob…
Grimm & Co is a terrific new literacy project in Rotherham, of which I’m delighted to be a patron. (Visit their website here)
On a street corner in Rotherham, a rather beautiful old pub has been converted into a magical apothecary’s shop, selling all kinds of wonderful artefacts, phials and potions, from Extract of Genius to Tinned Beard, Goblin Mucus, wands of all different kinds, Knight Peelers, Middle-Aged Vitriol and giant feather dusters for cleaning giants’ bellybuttons.
But Grimm & Co isn’t just an ordinary magical apothecary. Sponsored by the Ministry of Stories, it’s also a story workshop, accessible via a hidden door in the back of the shop. Here, children of all backgrounds enter the Imagination Gym, then climb up the secret Story Stairs to the top floor, where all the resources of Grimm & Co are available to them. Here there are costumes and characters; storytelling workshops; everything a young person needs to help them unleash their own magic.
Sometimes visiting authors come to answer questions, read stories (and avail themselves of the apothecary’s magical supplies).
Sometimes groups of schoolchildren come in with their teachers, to collaborate in writing their own little books, printed and illustrated for them to take home and show their parents.
Even the exit is magical…
Best of all, this is a charity, run by volunteers of all kinds to help improve literacy, engage young imaginations and explore the countless possibilities of reading and writing stories. And you can help; either by visiting the shop (all money from the magical supplies goes straight into the charity), or by volunteering (I’ve done it: it’s fun!) or by donating (learn more here).
Language helps us communicate with the people around us. But literacy gives us the means to communicate with the whole world, to travel in time, and to learn from the greatest minds the world has known – which is why Grimm & Co and their counterparts are performing the greatest magic of all: bringing the gift of literacy, helping our children to save the world, one story at a time.
Many, many thanks to everyone who came to Bradford’s #Storytime: you were great, and we all appreciated your warm welcome. Thanks also to Martin from Blackwell’s, who kindly supplied the books, and who organized everything so beautifully.
If you missed it (or if you’d like to come again!), the next #Storytime is at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on March 4th. Tickets are still available: to order one, click here…
Gollancz have announced the publication of HONEYCOMB – coming out in Autumn 2017
Gollancz to publish Joanne Harris’s #storytime fairy tales
Gollancz is delighted to have acquired world rights to publish a collection of dark, captivating fairy tales from Whitbread-shortlisted author, Joanne Harris. The multi-million-copy bestselling writer habitually delights her 25, 000 followers on Twitter with serialised short stories shared with the hashtag #storytime. Honeycomb is the first beautifully illustrated volume of Joanne Harris’s captivating and brilliantly imaginative #storytime tales.
Orion Deputy Group Director, Jon Wood, bought the rights from Peter Robinson of Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency.
Joanne Harris writes: “I started writing my #storytime tales four years ago, live on Twitter, as an exercise in different storytelling narratives. Since then, some of them have become songs, a stage show – even a couple of mini-operas – and now I’m delighted to be able to collaborate with Charles Vess – an artist I’ve admired for years – to make them into a book; an illustrated collection of new fairy stories with a dark, traditional feel – for people of all ages.”
Charles Vess adds: “I’ve been reading Joanne’s work since the publication of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine I’m more than excited by the opportunity this project gives me to transform her words into pen and ink marks and washes of colour onto the printed page.”
Jon Wood writes: “I’m incredibly excited about this beautiful new project. The combination of Joanne’s rich fantasy storytelling with Charles Vess’s haunting imagery will make this one of the highlights of 2017 in all genres.”
Honeycombwill be beautifully illustrated throughout, with line drawings and full-colour plate sections by Charles Vess, the award-winning artist who illustrated Stardust by Neil Gaiman and The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Suzanne Clarke.
Honeycombwill be published in hardback and e-book on the 21st September 2017.
We’ll let you have more news about this exciting project as soon as we have some.
“Those people who say that words have no power know nothing of the nature of words. Words, well placed, can end a regime; can turn affection to hatred; can start a religion, or even a war. Words are the shepherds of lies; they lead the best of us to the slaughter.”
(Peaches for Monsieur le Curé)
Joanne’s story ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller’ out on 5th March 2015 in print form as part of this great collection.
That Glimpse of Truth
Joanne has a story in this wonderful and eclectic book of short stories from around the world.
PUBLISHED ON 4TH SEPTEMBER 2014
Doctor Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller (Time Trips) by Joanne Harris
£1.99 Kindle Edition
Read posts from Joanne:
So here I am, back from holiday, with sand in my shoes and the song of the sea still echoing in my eardrums, to a mountain of correspondence, including some cheery news, of which more later, when the details are ironed out. It’s astonishing how creative doing very little can be – but I’m relieved to be back to work. So many things are happening this month: the Nine Worlds Fantasy Convention ( https://nineworlds.co.uk/) this week, plus a trip on the Royal Scotsman, plus the première performance of my new pop-up opera, CLOCKWORK, co-written with Lucie Treacher for the Tête-à-Tête opera company, and performed free from Thursday to Sunday all over London – see below for details. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. If you happen to catch a show, please tell me your thoughts…
Times and locations here: http://www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/pop-operas/
July 17th, 2014
Thanks, everyone for your kind messages about THE GOSPEL OF LOKI, plus your fanart, fiction and music. I’ve really enjoyed the ride with this book, and I’m looking forward to reading from it again at Nine Worlds next month. Meanwhile, here’s the Bookshop Band, with their Loki-inspired song (we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future, I think)…
Also, Zombies, Run! S3 is out at last, including the episode I wrote – any ZR fans out there, I’d love to know what you thought of it.
After a frenzied couple of months, I’m off on my annual holiday away from our friends electric. That means no Twitter, no tumblr, no e-mail – how will I cope?- but also no stress and no mobile phone, although I don’t think I could travel without my laptop. Hopefully I shall return relaxed, re-energized and ready to face the world again – and by then I may have some interesting news. Watch this space, and try not to break the internet while I’m away…