Categories
Writing Life

Bookshops (and booksellers) I’m thankful for

1. The Rocketship Bookshop, Salisbury

The Rocketship Bookshop will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first shop to post pre-order links for SMALL! months before anyone else was even talking about it. And it was the first shop I visited to sign copies, which was another pinch-me moment.

Jo, the owner really knows her stuff. She hosts all kinds of events and does gorgeous picturebook readings. And, oh, the wrapping! Order online and she’ll wrap your books beautifully – often with paper and bows that colour-cordinate with your chosen bookcovers.

If you’re looking for the perfect children’s book, Jo will find it.

Order from The Rocketship Bookshop here.

2. Waterstones, Ashford

I’ve visited lots of branches of Waterstones in the last few months (and have loads more on my list) but Emma Pullar in the Ashford branch is extra special. She’s been the biggest champion of SMALL! but also of so many children’s authors I love. She posts great recommendations on Instagram and Twitter and has a packed calendar of book events in her branch.

I was thrilled to run one of my first ‘Create a Swamp Ceature’ sessions for SMALL! with her. And because she’d worked so hard to tell young readers about the book beforehand, I met my first bookworm who’d already read it. (As a debut, I’m used to drumming up event interest from children and grown ups who happen to be in the store when I’m there. The idea of children coming to meet me … on purpose still feels extraordinary.)

Huge thanks also go to the other Waterstones branches who’ve hosted events with me, including Harrow (twice!), Salisbury and Worcester. And Filipa and the Trafalgar Square team hosted the most fabulous launch for SMALL! too.

Find your local Waterstones.

3. Ottie and the Bea, Blackheath

Should you decide to move house based on whether or not moving means you’ll get a local children’s bookshop at the end of the road?

I think so.

I’m a creature of habit and felt seriously wobbly about leaving the one-bed flat my husband and I were in for the last nine years. Even though the whole working, eating, cooking, living in the same room thing had lost it’s charm about a week into the pandemic.

So was getting an extra room to write in what clinched the move for me? Nope (although now I have it, its amazing). It was Ottie and the Bea. It’s an absolutely delightful bookshop and toy shop a short walk from my new home. It stocks plenty of children’s books – including signed copies of SMALL! – as well as an adorable range of traditional toys that would make perfect Christmas pressies for little ones. The moment I saw it I thought, yes, I could live here. (The area, not the shop, although if the owner, Julia were willing…😁)

Visit Ottie and the Bea.

Which bookshops and booksellers are you thankful for? Let me know in the replies.

Categories
Inspiration KidLit Practical tips

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good

Proof copy for Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good

1. It’s a diary, done differently

Play with form

Who doesn’t love a diary? They’re the perfect place to enjoy the comedy antics of unreliable or naive narrators. (Emer Stamp’s, The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig is another of my all-time comedy favourites for that reason.) But what’s so smart about Loki’s diary is that he’s not allowed to lie. Every time he tries, the diary ‘helpfully’ writes back with its own corrections. It’s a brilliant device. And it’s a great reminder that no matter how familiar your format, there’s always a way to twist it and make it your own.

2. It’s funny because it’s true

Find the funny in front of you

As an outsider to the modern world, Loki is the perfect observational comedian. He’s constantly questioning the absurdity in the everyday, giving us his views on everything from work, school and shopping to crisps and – my favourite – museums. Loki can’t believe how boldly museums display their stolen goods (he’s far too sneaky to make his own wrongdoings so obvious).

Loki’s insights into life cracked me up and got me thinking. Mostly, they reminded me of the GK Chesterton quote that funny doesn’t have to be the opposite of serious. Loki’s comedy definitely has a serious side.

Funny is the opposite of not funny, and nothing else.

GK Chesterton

3. It brings new life to old stories

Build on what we know

We get a few specific nods to the original Norse myths, but Louie mostly uses them as a springboard for fresh silliness. I especially enjoyed Thor (who’s on Earth as Loki’s brother to keep an eye on him) wanting to spend his weekends admiring hammers in the DIY shops.

Using things we already know (or learn in the first couple of pages) sets the stakes high from the start. Will Loki, the misbehaving trickster god, ever manage to live a virtuous life? Or will Odin punish him to an eternity in a chamber filled with snakes?

This isn’t a retelling of the myths. It’s dropping familiar characters into new settings and asking the question that gets all the best stories going: ‘What if..?’ It’s also a brilliant way to go from a blank page to a fresh, funny and completely original new story.

I was rooting for Loki from the start. I’m sure everyone else will, too.

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good publishes with Walker Books in February 2022. Pre-order yours now. (That’s my Bookshop.org page, but I’m sure you can order it in your local indie, too.) #BeLessLoki