Dutch Day (featuring Chickens)

There is something wonderful about having Barry Cunningham as your publisher. He used to dress up as a puffin (for Puffin) and travel around with Roald Dahl, talking to children about what they loved to read. Now you never quite know what he’ll think of next.

Today was Dutch Day. Barry has set up a relationship with a Dutch publishing company (The Look is coming out in Dutch in the early summer), and a selection of Dutch (and Belgian) booksellers came to Somerset to meet a selection of Chicken House authors and do a lot of chicken-related activities.

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It was mad. It was wonderful. We got to hold the actual, real live chicken. It laid an egg, but luckily not while I was holding it. (I was worried it would – it seemed that way inclined.) The Dutch (and Belgians) were all, as we expected, fantastic. We got to play with Barry’s Wurlitzer (he has a Wurlitzer) and do readings in strange places in Barry’s house.

In the garden is the real chicken house that gave the name to the company that gave you … Threads and The Look and a bunch of other books you may have read.

At the end is a picture of St Catherine’s Hill in Frome, around the corner from the Chicken House office, where I popped in to talk typeset pages with Esther. It’s one of my favourite shopping streets – full of vintage shops, flower shops and bead shops. As if someone had known I was going to come and quickly laid on all my favourite stuff.

All in all, a good day. How can an author not be pleased when her book is arranged around a pink chicken? This author was pleased.

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Books books books!

So a man knocks on the door and he’s carrying a big cardboard box. And just for once, the cardboard box is not full of internet shopping for Alex, but full of heavy things for me. And it is from Scholastic. And they are books. My books.

I love this bit.

The Look comes out in the US at the end of the week. I haven’t seen the copy since I sent the last round of changes in last summer, so it’s extra exciting to see how it looks as an actual, bound and typeset book. From the outside at least, it looks like this:

Box of books

Now to see what it looks like inside …

And to sit back and wait for the reviews. They’ve just started to come in online from the US. Always very scary, as American reviewers know exactly what they want from a YA book, and they’re not afraid of saying so if they don’t get it.

As long as the reviews are accurate, I don’t mind that at all. So far, they’ve been pretty kind. There is one person who absolutely hates a character called Silas. She was kept up at night thinking how much she hated him. Which is odd, because I don’t have a character called Silas in the book. I’m not entirely sure who she was thinking of. But she was fine about everything else.

Mostly I’m just grateful that people take the time to talk about the book. It’s fabulous to have such a big blogging community, and so many ways to find out if a particular book is going to be the kind of thing you’re going to enjoy, or not. The one everyone’s talking about at the moment is The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd. It’s based on The Island of Doctor Moreau, by HG Wells, and it looks amazing. Fabulous heronie. I may just have to check it out, once I’ve finished stroking my glossy new American covers …