2014 - A Year in Pictures (and old blog posts)


2014 has been a busy year. It began with rain and floods here on Dartmoor. I published the third of my Goblins books, and my second book with Sarah McIntyre, Cakes in Space. I visited Dubai Amsterdam and the Isle of Man. I did loads of events with McIntyre and made a belated and possibly ill-advised move into Glam Rock (we've really enjoyed working with the team at Oxford University Press on this book and our future projects). Meanwhile, my Sarah had a Significant Birthday, and played lots of banjo, mandolin and electric guitar. Sam went Scooter Crazy. Manchester was invaded by sea monkeys. I returned to illustration with Kjartan Poskitt's Borgon the Axeboy. I attended the excellent ArmadaCon, and was invited to help judge the new YA Book Prize. And I finished a new novel, Railhead.

It's been a busy year, and quite a good one for me, but it's been a bit rough for a lot of people I know. Here's hoping 2015 is a marked improvement. Happy New Year!

Sarah McIntyre's Christmas Message to the Nation


Season's Greetings

Right; presents wrapped, halls decked with boughs of holly, and we're just setting off down the N.A. Freeway to  collect our Christmas visitors from the station. So it only remains to wish you all a thoroughly


I'll leave you with a sneak peek at some of Sarah McIntyre's snowy work-in-progress for 'Reeve & McIntyre book 3' (Title to be announced in the New Year.)

I hope your festivities don't degenerate into a shouty snowball fight, which is what has happened to these yetis...

Christmas Cakes & Seasonal Seawigs

It's been nice to see Cakes in Space turning up in some of the festive Best Children's Books round-ups. I won't link to them all because that would be Showing Off, but Sarah McIntyre and I both liked this review from 5-year-old Alan on Space on the Bookshelf. And I love the accompanying pictures, which prove - should you be hunting for last minute presents - that Cakes in Space and Oliver and the Seawigs do fit neatly into a Christmas stocking...

                                                                                                                                            Space on the Bookshelf

Space on the Bookshelf also has lots of other good children's book reviews and recommendations, including this piece on comics and graphic novels by Simon Russell.

Mortal Engines at Blackawton

A few weeks ago I visited Blackawton Primary School in South Devon, where Class 5 have been doing a lot of project work themed around Mortal Engines. In fact, they've even built their own Traction City, in an alcove outside the classroom. It comes complete with circling airships and working turd-tanks...


A tour of the Turd Tanks
Those Turd Tanks in full...


And here's me, having a quiet nap beside a life-size model of Mr Shrike.

The class had also been asked to come up with brochures that would persuade Londoners to move to Batmunkh Gompa. This one is by Charlie Benns.

It was a great example of how a book can be used to inspire work across the whole curriculum. Huge thanks to all the children for such hard work, and to Mr Pether, Mrs Rodwell-Lynn and all the rest of the staff at Blackawton for inviting me along to see it.

Buckfastleigh Primary School's New Library


Every school needs a library, and it's always depressing when I hear about schools getting rid of them, or new schools being built without one. Here in rural Devon,of course, a lot of the schools are very small, and don't have much space for a library. So I was very pleased when Richard Arundell, the head teacher at Buckfastleigh Primary, invited me along last Tuesday to open his school's new, improved library.

I did an assembly with the school, too, but I didn't write a speech because I couldn't be bothered I thought it would be more EDUCATIONAL if we all wrote something together - so I asked for story suggestions from the children, and together we came up with the compelling tale of a puppy named Pongo who, on his very first day in the police force, foils an evil horse in its bid to steal the crown jewels.

Then off to the library, where I got to cut AN ACTUAL RIBBON (though I didn't get a photo of that bit...)

It's a lovely space, and full of good books; I think the school's many eager readers will be spending a lot of time in there.

Thanks for having me, Buckfastleigh Primary! And enjoy the new library!


I've spent the last few weeks finishing Railhead, which will be published by Oxford University Press next October.  Here's what it looks like at the moment...

It's not really finished, of course, because it now has to be handed to a copy editor who will find lots of errors and inconsistencies which will need correcting or explaining away. But I've been reading it (via Skype) to Sarah McIntyre (who has been sworn to secrecy, of course) and it finally feels like a complete story.

Illustration: Sarah McIntyre

In some ways Railhead is a return to the style of Mortal Engines - it's set in a sprawling, far-future civilization, and it has evolved from many different drafts, written over many years. But it's turned out to be less jokey than Mortal Engines, and somehow less English, I think - nobody could ever claim this one is 'steampunk'.  And it's a much bigger world than Mortal Engines, so, although Railhead is going to be one of my longer books, there's still a lot which I haven't had a chance to explore yet. Once Christmas is out of the way I shall be looking into the possibilities of a sequel.

That's all I'm going to say about Railhead until nearer to the publication date, and I may not say very much then. I think one of the dangers of the internet is that we writers talk too much about our books, happily explaining where all the ideas came from, what the influences were. Part of the pleasure of reading a book is working those things out for yourself!

The YA Book Prize


The shortlist was announced today for The Bookseller's new YA Book Prize, a new award for young adult fiction from Britain and Ireland. The winner will will be announced in a ceremony at Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road, London, on the 19th March 2015.

There are ten books on the list, all of which I'm going to be reading in the coming weeks, since I've been asked to be one of the judges. I think it's going to be quite a tough job choosing the winner - there are some fantastic authors here, and I've heard good things about so many of these books!

Full details of the shortlist, and of how you can get involved, are to be found on the YA Book Prize website.

Stocking Fillers


Dartmoor gets ready for Christmas...

I try not to spam readers of this blog too much - I assume that if you're reading, you probably already know about my books. But I guess part of its purpose is as a shop window, and it's that time of year when I should spray fake snow all over it and fill it with my latest wares - which will, of course, make PERFECT presents for your nearest and dearest. If they like this sort of thing.

GOBLIN QUEST is my latest novel, and completes the Goblins trilogy (there may be more one day, but for the moment the goblins of Clovenstone are taking a well-earned rest). I hope these books will appeal to children of about 8 and upwards, and anyone who likes fantasy, or poo. (If you're in the USA, only the first Goblins book is available - I presume the others will follow at some point). They make a colourful set, as you can see - like a selection pack of capsicum peppers. Cover illustrations by the great Dave Semple.

CAKES IN SPACE, my new book with Sarah McIntyre, is aimed a slightly younger audience - it's shorter than Goblins and has way more pictures.

It's the story of Astra, and her one-girl struggle against the mutant cakes which threaten to take over her ship during a long space voyage. It was a lot of fun to cook up, and the end result is a thing of beauty - Sarah and our designers at OUP have worked wonders with it. It's full of cakes and silliness, and, oddly, it's the closest thing to real Science Fiction I've ever written.  If you're in London in the next few weeks you could keep an eye out for these great Cakes in Space posters on the underground...

Photo: Sally-Anne Hickman

The previous Reeve and McIntyre book, OLIVER AND THE SEAWIGS, is now out in paperback in the UK, though if you want to spend a few extra £s the hardback is still around, and has two-colour illustrations (in the paperback the blue has been replaced with grey, which works just fine - the pictures were always designed to work in monotone too - but I'm fond of the hardback).

If you're after a bookish present for an even younger child, don't forget JAMPIRES, a lovely new picture book by Sarah McIntyre and David O'Connell, more details here...

All of these titles are available from your local bookshops or via the usual online places. Happy shopping!