Not about a children’s book this time, but a book nonetheless…
This weekend I read a proof of Blackmoor, first novel by Edward Hogan, out from Simon and Schuster at the start of May. A superb book. I should mention in the interests of etc. that Ed is a friend, but those of you who know me should know that I’m not in the habit of indiscriminately praising books just because they’re by mates of mine. So I do mean it – this one is great. It’s a gripping, dark and looming sort of book, about a doomed village and buried secrets; about grudges and generational blame and superstition and rifts in a small (ex-) mining community. It’s not, though, a heavy read at all, nor – somehow – a depressing one. It’s a really lovely piece of writing, for one thing, pitch perfect and a pleasure to read, which certainly helps, and thematically really robust; and you’re sustained too by some great characterisation – properly living characters, which gives you that feeling (all too rare) that you’ve been reading about something real, that some real people are having these real experiences somewhere. That if I were to wonder into the right house in Derbyshire I might find Vincent and his dad there, or stumble over Leila buzzard-watching from her tent. It’s that sort of thorough and sustained imagining of characters’ lives that remind me (as I’m reminded every time I read a novel this good) of why I could never begin to write a novel myself. Baffled how people like Ed do it. And so (at the risk of adding a tiny fraction to the already substantial pressure for The Second Book), I’d like him to write another one soon now please. Thanks.
Blackmoor is plugged in The Bookseller’s Buyers’ Guide, for anyone in the trade, on page 30; and another little bit in this week’s Bookseller too, which also says there’s to be an ‘author tour’. Don’t know where they’ll be sending him, but if he’s anywhere near you do go and see him and be nice. Oh, and read the book… Pub. date May 6th, S&S, trade paperback.
And talking about author tours… We’re confirming our UBG events in the coming days, but can give you a few to be getting on with: Susan and I are talking at Jewish Book Week on the morning of Feb 26th (central London); Leonie and I are talking at the National Education Show on Feb 28th (Birmingham – this one still tbc), and Leonie and Susan are doing a workshop at the FCBG conference in Exeter on March 29th. Also at the FCBG conference I’m chairing an event with Justin Somper, Julia Golding, Ally Kennan and David Gilman; and I’m also down to do a non-children’s-books event at the Oxford Festival on April 2nd, and while the full line-up for that event isn’t announced yet but I can tell you it’s very exciting!
More diary dates – I think Newcastle, St Albans, Brighton, London inter al. – to follow shortly.
Trying to keep away from reading for a few days as I won’t get any Real Work done otherwise, but next time I succumb it’ll be The Princess and the Captain, for the updated 8-12 guide. Will report back.