Five Hundred Fine Books


This week (Oct 5th-11th) is the Booktrust Children’s Book Week – a celebration of reading for pleasure for young people here in the UK. The theme this year is Words and Pictures. Their focus is on picture books, which is awesome of course. But I and my fellow cave denizens at Trapped By Monsters have been thinking about another type of visual storytelling: COMICS. Follow this link to TBM to read more.

deathnotekirkmancomics1

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

biggreenbestbookseverpicbysam

Awesome independent booksellers The Big Green Bookshop are currently running a rather wonderful poll. What (they ask) are your five favourite books of all time? Anyone who answers has the chance to win a brilliant prize: twenty books of their choice from whatever ends up in the Big Green Top Fifty when the results are tallied. Click here for all the details, and click here to find out about my top five — or top thirteen, depending on how you count ‘em! ;)

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

TWO amazing pieces of Black Tat Reader Art today.

First up, here’s Iain from Johannesburg, who followed up some cracking questions in the Black Tat Guestbook last week with this awesome manga-style image:

charlie

This is a depiction of Charlie. I decided to be subtle with his evil look and that’s why instead of him having the Scourge dripping off him, he has sinister looking wings. He has an “emo fringe” to illustrate the pent up emotions that Charlie has. His clothes are sleek and stylish as described in the book. Hope you like it. Iain

…And here is the final, finished version of this stunning pic by Ali from Illinois:

blacktattoofinalcopy

Seeing beautiful art like this being made out of things from my stories is an absolute joy. Thank you, Iain and Ali! And if anyone else reading this feels like creating something and sending it in, then please, be my guest.

PS: Over on Trapped By Monsters I’ve just put up a short post about one of my very favourite books EVER, namely Momo by Michael Ende. Take a look.

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Ah, the glories of the traditional British summer…

jollyenglishweather

And guess what? My roof is leaking. Again. :(

Well, if you’re stuck indoors with nothing to do, don’t lose heart. Here, instead, are a couple of alternatives…

First up, check out Trapped By Monsters - it’s particularly good at the moment I reckon. The indomitable, inimitable, indefatigable Mark Robson has been running what sounds like an excellent series of writing workshops: if you click here and here you’ll find two cracking story beginnings. Fancy carrying on with them? Take your best shot!

In addition, if you’re artistically inclined, click to my own most recent TBM post here, where you’ll find an opportunity to dazzle the world with your monster visuals – and win yourself a signed copy of Tim or Black Tat!

Finally, don’t forget my LibraryThing Five Hundred Fine Books List. Curling up with an awesome book is, I submit, one of the very finest ways to spend a rainy afternoon. Click on the link above to find reviews and all sorts of other pointers to thrilling reading. Short of cash? No problem. Simply head to your local public library and ask for anything on that list that you like the sound of. Whatever they don’t have to hand there and then, the librarians will be able to order for you to borrow and enjoy – for free, gratis, nothing! (Aren’t libraries great??)

FYI, right now I’m flitting between Among Thieves, by Mez Packer; Dead Men’s Boots by Mike Carey and Generation Kill by Evan Wright, all three of which, in their own ways (concerning, respectively: blaggers in Coventry, exorcists in London, US Marines in Iraq) are AMAZING.

What do you know? Now either it’s stopped raining… or I’ve stopped /caring/ it’s raining. :D

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

For a brief, belated post about last Saturday’s fantastic Crystal Palace Children’s Book Festival — plus a crafty recommendation for perhaps the most thrilling book for young people I’ve read so far this year — check my latest at Trapped By Monsters, here.

For further pointers to fine reading check my LibraryThing profile. :D

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

Yes, me and seven other unlucky authors are still TRAPPED BY MONSTERS. But I’m doing my best to negotiate an early exit for us all, as you’ll see from the following post I just put up over there…

I love writing about monsters. It’s what I do. And I’m sorry, I can’t change that no matter how long you keep me here or what you do to me. But the intriguing-looking upcoming Wii game Deadly Creatures has got me thinking, and I believe I may just have an alternative suggestion for you.

Will you let us out of here if we promise only to write books about monsters who allow themselves to appear in nature documentaries? Work with me on this, I’ve got some examples…

The original ‘nature bites back’ classic JAWS, by Peter Benchley is still a cracking read. But for my money his BEAST is even better: the chapters told from the giant squid’s point of view are just AWESOME. James Herbert’s THE RATS books are also dead good, particularly the post-apocalyptic third in the series, DOMAIN. Sliding further along the scale from scary to silly, there’s SLUGS by Shaun Hutson. Even THE FUNGUS, by Harry Adam Knight is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

But I’m thinking that the ultimate, the ne-plus-ultra of ‘natural monster stories’ could well be something like THIS:

100_1459-1

Now there’s a type of creature that’s yet to have justice done by it, I’d say. Yep: FROGS! As one of the other posters for this film said, ‘Today, the Pond. Tomorrow, the World!

Well, monsters? What do you think?

Hello?

Sigh. I’ll get back in my hole.

One last thing before I do. If anyone reading this is at school or you’re a school librarian, here’s something that may interest you: the fabulous Liz over at My Favourite Books is currently organising a Giant Children’s Book Giveaway! It’s sponsored by five major UK publishers, including mine: hit the link for all the details.

For further fine reading, as ever, check my LibraryThing profile. OK, now I’ll climb back into my hole. ;p

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

TRAPPED BY MONSTERS!

I’m posting this from a dark, dank, evil-smelling cavern where myself and seven other authors are currently being held prisoner, kidnapped by the very monsters upon whom we all depend for our storytelling livelihoods. Brutally, our guards only allow us access to the internet for a few minutes at a time(!!!) so here – with a quick extra line or two at the end – is a transcript of what I just posted on the blog over there:

I’m not sure what scares me most right now: the monsters or, frankly, my fellow captive authors. The way certain of my colleagues here are already slipping into classic hostage behaviour is starting to worry me. Fraternizing with our jailers is one thing (”leg stroking” indeed!) but turning on each other? Mark, I’m astonished. [And given his knife-throwing prowess and Tae Kwon Do expertise, I'm, ahem, also somewhat alarmed.]

Well. We may be stuck here in a reeking cave full of ravening beasts who will rend us limb from limb soon as look at us (that’s the monsters I’m talking about there, not the authors). We may, even worse, be short of loo roll (AARGH!!) But I, for one, will…

keepcalm

To that end here are some more thrilling books from Jack’s Stack.

FOOL MOON and GRAVE PERIL, by Jim Butcher. These are the second and third books from Mr Butcher’s brilliant Dresden Files series, concerning hardbitten Chicago private eye wizard Harry Dresden. Yep, “private eye wizard”, that’s what I said: as well as crime, the police, the Mafia and the media, Harry Dresden’s mean streets also contain evil magicians, ghosts, demons, werewolves, vampires and all sorts of other supernatural goodies. If that combination sounds like your bag – and it’s certainly mine – then give STORM FRONT, the first of the series, a go. These books are so much fun that I’m having to ration them to myself so I don’t munch straight through ‘em all at once, Honey Monster style. :)

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. I wanted not to like this book. I’m not proud of that. It’s just that Mr Gaiman is at the top of his game, his previous books are brilliant and sell by the shedload, and everyone loves him. Me, I’m standing at the foot of this ‘being a published author’ mountain, gulping a lot, and I need hope. I wanted signs that the dizzy heights aren’t impossible. I wanted flaws. I’m all the more ashamed, then, when I tell you that THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is, in fact, the finest book for young people that I read in the whole of last year (the nearest competitor was LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow fyi) and it will probably end up being one of my favourite books ever. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is tender when it needs to be tender; it’s got monsters and darkness when there needs to be monsters and darkness (which is often, for me!) It’s fast, it’s smart, it’s touching, it’s beautifully written, it’s enormous fun and once you close the book it lingers in the mind, possibly forever. -Curses! ;p

To judge from what I’ve found on the cave shelves so far (misery memoirs, celeb biogs and – yuck – so many /pony books/!!) these monsters need all the pointers to fine reading they can get, so there’ll be more from Jack’s Stack shortly. For further suggestions in the mean time, check my LibraryThing profile.

Before I pass the mic, I just want to address Mark’s laughable accusation that I’m an imposter. If I understand this right, Mark would have you believe that what I said in my blog is true: that I’m not actually Sam Enthoven, but am in fact the ugnacious Jagmat Wrelkmink, Emperor of Hell. Unhappy with the way that I, sorry, “he” was portrayed in the Enthoven’s, sorry, “my” book The Black Tattoo, I came from Hell to London, killed the Enthoven, and then, being a shapeshifter, I assumed his, um, I mean, “my” identity. Ever since then, while posing as an author I’ve been secretly preying on, sorry, I mean “learning as much as possible about” the human race. Or so Mark says.

Preposterous.

I would like to make it clear to my fellow authors here in the cave (and anyone else reading this) that I am /absolutely not/ a repulsive, shapeshifting, blancmange-like demon who belches all the time. You are all PERFECTLY SAFE FROM ME, I assure you, and there is no chance whatsoever that at any moment you may find yourself reduced to your constituent proteins as I envelop and consume you in a seething tide of hot pink digestive juices. So I hope that’s that cleared up. URP. ‘Scuse me. ;)

…Work on draft two of Phase Three continues apace, albeit by the sepulchral flicker of the disgusting earwax candles that are the only illumination our monstrous gaolers have permitted me. My eyes hurt all the time. And the smell! Strewth! Hope you’re having a better January than me.

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

As my mate Simon J. said once as he fell off his chair, Happy New YeAAARGH! :D

First up, here’s a link to a page where you can download the current issue of Teen Librarian Monthly, which features an interview with yours truly. It’s a pdf, not a big file, it’s free, and it’s a fine magazine: my thanks to Masterless Samurai Librarian Matthew Imrie for kindly inviting me!

It’s nose to the grindstone time here as I bust on with the second draft of PHASE THREE. Current publication date for the next part of my sinister masterplan is Spring 2010, but that’s only going to happen if I do some hard pedalling over the next couple of months. Rather than have this blog go completely dead in that time (or, worse, fill with variations on ‘I sat here making things up and occasionally tearing the last of my hair out’ ;p) here’s something I thought I’d share with you instead…

My brother Jack and I have a tradition: whenever it’s Christmas or his birthday I put together and give him what we call a BkSTACK(tm). As the name implies, it’s basically a big pile of the finest and most thrilling books I’ve read lately – or at least the ones I reckon he’ll enjoy. If you like Black Tat and Tim then you might like these, too. Take a look! ;)

FLOOD, by STEPHEN BAXTER. A rare treat, this – a proper global DISASTER story! And the author sets a cracking pace. Within the first hundred pages London then New York fall prey to spectacularly rising tides, and the rest of humanity is left fighting for the last of the Earth’s higher ground before much longer. Surprisingly, considering it’s where stories like this can fall down (especially Hollywood ones ;p) the characters give an affecting human perspective on the catastrophe without, ahem, annoying the hell out of the reader. Also, as you might expect if you know Mr Baxter’s books, it’s packed with awesome ideas and unforgettable moments. Brilliant.

NOTHING TO LOSE, by LEE CHILD. The previous two books in the Reacher series (THE HARD WAY and BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE) weren’t /quite/ as much fun as the others, imho. I’m therefore all the more delighted to tell you that NOTHING TO LOSE is /terrific/ – right up there with my personal favourites, PERSUADER, ECHO BURNING and ONE SHOT. The way Reacher mows into town like a man-sized Godzilla is, as always, intensely satisfying. But seeing, in this one, some nutcase End Times fans meet an early personal apocalypse just gave me a special warm glow. You don’t need to read the series in order, so if you haven’t met Jack Reacher or Lee Child before, here is a grand place to start. If you like fast, thrilling storytelling you’ll be glad you did.

More from Jack’s Stack to follow over coming weeks. For further fine reading check my LibraryThing profile.

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

So, now I have returned from my second excursion to Scotland as a published author! It was an absolute delight from start to finish – especially yesterday, when I was taken out by the Scottish Book Trust to visit two schools as part of their Outreach programme. In fact, this post (or a link to it!) may be appearing on the Trust’s brand new blog – glee! – so if you’re reading this from over there, a very happy Hello to you!

As you can probably tell from the frankly bloodcurdling smile above I, um, rather enjoy events, actually. ;) Even the prospect of what, for me, is quite an early start (7.45am!) didn’t faze me – especially when the Trust’s supreme ninjas Jasmine and Chris picked me up in their spectacularly spiffy new bookmobile! Expertly placing me entirely at their mercy by cunningly plying me with Jelly Babies, Jasmine and  Chris whisked me away from Edinburgh and off to our first destination, where I spoke to around a hundred students from St Anne’s Primary School and Annebank Primary School, in Ayr.

This was a brilliant session. Excellent questions flowed thick and fast almost right from the start – which is just how I like it. In fact the students’ questions were so good that the hour flew past, with time for only one reading from Tim before it was back to the bookmobile! Following up their earlier jelly-based offensive Jasmine and Chris delivered me a stunning knockout blow with a baked potato for lunch, and by the time I’d recovered we were at St Cuthbert’s Primary School for the second engagement of the day.

Now, erm, before I say any more I think a word of warning is appropriate. As people who follow my blog will be perhaps all too aware(!) I tend to put a lot of wallop into my talks, and for reasons that even I don’t fully understand the results often seem to involve me waving my arms about like a big, black-clad baboon. But this…

Wow… it looks like I’m either about to take off, or burst into song! ;)

Well, I was excited. I was spending the day being driven from place to place like a rock star, before speaking to – and answering superb questions from – some vivacious, mannerly and thoroughly charming young people. I’ve got to say, in the words of Christopher Boone from Mark Haddon’s unforgettable The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, it was a super good day.

The only drawback of this ‘being an author’ caper, it seems to me, is that occasionally, it’s true, one is expected to produce a new book. That time has come again for me, so it’s back to the grindstone! But in the mean time my thanks to Jasmine and Chris, and everyone I met and spoke to, for their kindness and hospitality. This second Scottish excursion has been enormous fun. Here’s looking forward to the next one! :)

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

At something like 9pm last night I wrote the last sentence of my new book. Or, heh, at least I wrote the current last sentence, as you never know how these things are finally going to end up. But yes, I’m getting there with Phase Three.

…Floof.

My brain has turned to porridge, so since right now it doesn’t seem able to say much more about how I’m feeling than ‘Floof’, here’s a pertinent passage from one of my very favourite books about writing, namely THE UNSTRUNG HARP, OR MR EARBRASS WRITES A NOVEL, by Edward Gorey, who was a genius. If you don’t know about Mr Gorey already you’re in for a treat: to whet your whistle further you can read the whole of TUH and see his beautiful illustrations here. Meanwhile, this bit describes the day after Mr Earbrass gets to the end of one of his for the first time…

I don’t have a week. Or rather I do, but in that time I’ve got to bust on back to the beginning – to stitch the chapters together, Frankenstein-style, and administer the necessary jolt of lightning for the Phase Three beast to lurch to its stumpy feet and lumber off to its editors and agents by the deadline of Sept 1st (or, um, very soon thereafter!) -Yikes!

I’m /also/ – GLEE! – going to be heading off to Edinburgh, Scotland to take part in THIS. Quite apart from how much fun that’s going to be, it’ll be great to get away from this desk and interact (for a change) with people I haven’t made up. ;p

Watch this space. Oh, and if you haven’t been to see HELLBOY 2 yet, do. In true Del Toro style it’s got more imagination, monsters, fun, heart, colour and monsters (QUALITY monsters!) per square inch than pretty much anything else around right now. Give it a wallop, I say. :)

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Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. ;)

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