June 13, 2019

Celebrating The Bad Luck Lighthouse - limited edition bookplates

The second book in the Seth Seppi mysteries - The Bad Luck Lighthouse - will be published on July 4. I had such brilliant support from booksellers for The Last Chance Hotel, so a huge thank you from me. It means so much to me as an ex-bookseller 😊

So, to celebrate the launch of the The Bad Luck Lighthouse, I would be delighted to send out limited edition signed bookplates to any bookshops that would like them. Just email me if you would like some (and how many). Also, if you'd like any dedicated - just let me know!

It will be signed by me, and only a limited number will be produced.

(And if you would like your bookshop to be involved, you can ask them to contact me - and if you want to know where your local bookshop is - locate them here)

It's very exciting that Seth and Nightshade will be returning in a new, twisty-turny magical mystery. This is due to the fantastic number of booksellers who have shared and celebrated by debut novel The Last Chance Hotel.

Thank you for your amazing support :-)

May 20, 2019

Welcome to the Bad Luck Lighthouse

I'm thrilled to welcome you to a brand new adventure The Bad Luck Lighthouse which will be out on July 4 2019.

In spite of the title, I've actually had a great deal of good luck with this book:
  • It has another awesome illustration from the brilliant Matt Saunders. How gorgeous is that cover?
  • It has the same great editorial team at publisher Chicken House that led to so many fabulous reviews for The Last Chance Hotel.
  • Not every author gets to write a sequel with characters they love and I am pleased that this returns to the same world as featured in The Last Chance Hotel. You can join Seth and his cat Nightshade and his magical friend, Angelique, as they get to tackle another case for the magical police MagiCon and help to solve it along with Inspector Pewter.
Over the last few years, I've been excited to share with you my writing and publishing journey - from winning the Times / Chicken House Fiction Prize, to printing of the book, publication, and the complicated, bewildering but always rewarding world of being an author. It has been an amazing journey to where children are reading and enjoying your book - and telling you about it!

Along the way, this has involved wonderful window displays in Waterstonesincredible support from readers, schools and independent booksellerstranslations of Seth and Nightshade into other languages - and even music inspired by the characters themselves.

So enough about me being excited, I hope others will get excited about the next part of Seth and Nightshade's story. Here's a taster of what is to come:

"In uncovering the mystery of The Last Chance Hotel, Seth has discovered a dazzling world of magic and is determined to prove himself.

But he and Nightshade get embroiled in the latest MagiCon case of ghostly goings on at the remote Snakesmouth Lighthouse owned by the eccentric Mina Mintencress.

When Mina is murdered, Seth must work out if the vengeful ghost of Soul Snakesmouth has really returned. Because if this time magic is responsible, it’s a darker and even more disturbing magic that even Seth ever knew existed.

Seth and Nightshade must use all their best detective and magical skills to solve this mystery. Can they unlock the key to the hauntings and unmask a sinister sorcerer . . . before it’s too late?"

The book is published on July 4, and I really want to say a big 'thank you' for having had such a brilliant publishing experience and the chance to write a sequel.

Here's where you can pre-order your copy:

May 10, 2019

A bold and brilliant experiment with teaching english

Back in November last year, I visited the inspiring Joseph Cash Primary School in Coventry. It turned out that they had based an entire term's English language teaching on my book, and when I arrived at the school, I definitely got the rock star author treatment!

The whole school oozed a love and an excitement of reading (they even do read-aloud story sessions with guests called 'Cashanory' - how brilliant is that?)

So how thrilled was I to discover that Joseph Cash has been shortlisted for the TES School Awards for the category of "English Team of the Year"!

Obviously this is nothing to do with my book (!) and everything to do with the passion, enthusiasm and love of literature that led them to do this big, bold experiment in inspiring english teaching. So imaginative and bold to choose to do all of this with a book by a debut author as well.

They are one of the most inspiring schools I’ve had the privilege to visit in their approach to teaching. The team is brilliant, as are their lovely and lucky students!

Thank you so much for involving me in a wonderful journey with your fabulous school. And the very, very best of luck with the award!

April 18, 2019

Perplexing discoveries as your book takes flight

Last year, being a debut author felt like one constant round of being disorientated by the avalanche of new experiences.

Everything is a ‘first’. Editing, pre-launch preparation, events (if you are lucky), reviews (if you are even luckier) and then – amazing – reader feedback that arrives by a variety of channels, sometimes stumbled upon accidentally. And it won’t always be positive. But it is lovely that it is there. That you have readers.

Your book exists outside of your own head.

Whether it's the first time you speak to a group about your book, or the first email you receive from a reader, or someone sending you a picture of one of your characters that they've drawn, you have to deal with all this strangeness (and quite frankly, terror) of dealing with your book 'out in the wild'.

What? You want to read it???
It stops being a part of you and somehow manages to have a totally different life of its own. It no longer needs you. It has independently grown its own wings, left you, and miraculously landed on the shelf of bookshops and then on the shelves of readers to make of what they will.

And of course you still have to remain focused on writing the next one (and then editing that, and then writing the next), all while dealing with the strangeness of people reading what, until now, has been your private story, your own thoughts.

Dealing with all this in your own language is one thing - but if you are lucky enough to have your book published in another country - and another language – this strange new life gets turned up several notches.

I knew The Last Chance Hotel would be published in translation, but didn’t know when. I knew the Russian language rights had been sold, but didn't know a publication date. So when a package arrived at the door and I discovered Отель «Последний шанс» (literally 'Hotel "Last Chance" ') it was amazing. I discovered a whole other life, the same book, but different.

Luckily my husband (Mark) and I know a smattering of Cyrillic, enough to go through and identify the key characters. The Russian language doesn't have a 'th' sound, so my main character 'Seth Seppi' has become 'Sett Seppi', and a few other characters have slightly different names (even my name alters slightly to 'Niki Tornton').

And there's a subheading on the jacket which reads 'The Firefly Cage Secret' which is a lovely nod to the original title of the book The Firefly Cage when it won the Times / Chicken House children’s fiction competition.

At the time of writing, we haven't identified the name of Nightshade the Cat!

If you are interested in seeing the book in Russian, and reading the blurb, check out the link to publisher ЭКСМО (Eksmo).

Eksmo also has a kids' book feed, and it was great to spot some favourite UK authors also there, including Holly Webb, Sarah Todd Taylor and Harriet Muncaster's 'Isadora Moon' series - makes you feel extremely patriotic, and a great reminder of how much British children's books are a huge global export.

Next week The Last Chance Hotel is published in Holland, and I can't quite believe what a brilliantly exciting new adventure is in store.

Published as Hotel De Laatste Kans: Een Sep Seti Mysterie it looks very similar to the English version - with one key, and wonderful, detail. Take a look at this (very short) clip:

Can you believe that? Publisher De Fontein has produced a gorgeous glow-in-the-dark cover which is amazing. It has also featured on other Dutch book websites, and I have been busy using Google translate to try to get a feel for the translation and what the blurb says.

Which is - in the final analysis – probably the most weird thing about having your book translated. I have no idea of the differences in nuances, meanings, and overall cultural sense of the book. When books are translated, it's both a huge honour, and a little bit of an exercise in trust!


('Last Chance Hotel' with such a different US cover by the talented Baily Crawford - and the German edition (literally 'Hotel of the Magicians' which comes out in August)

The American literary critic George Steiner wrote "Every language is a world" and I'm incredibly grateful to other publishers who are taking Seth and Nightshade, and transporting them into other languages and that they will reach readers in other worlds, who live very different lives. I really hope they find things universal to relate to, not just the fun of the magic and the mystery, but in Seth’s journey, finding a path through life and realising your dreams.

Dank u wel! большое спасибо! 

March 07, 2019

The Last Chance Hotel is Waterstones Book of the Month

To everyone who has supported, bought, read and given a whole lot of love to The Last Chance Hotel - thank you! 
Writing and publishing my debut children's novel has been a lovely experience and there is nothing an author likes better than hearing that readers are reading their book - and enjoying it. 
A particularly big Thank You goes to Waterstones for choosing The Last Chance Hotel as the Children's Book of the Month for October 2018 and spreading the news so widely and with such passion and enthusiasm.
I have been amazed and delighted by all the wonderful displays by your creative teams and it has been so lovely to hear how much they have enjoyed shouting about The Last Chance Hotel.
I am sharing them here so everyone can appreciate at the hard work and creativity that has gone into them.
And as if this hasn't been an incredible enough month, thanks to the terrifically talented Oliver Daniel Nicholls - olliednmusic - Nightshade also has a theme.

October 31, 2018

Nightshade's Theme - more music inspired by The Last Chance Hotel

A few weeks ago I shared with you Seth's Theme, a brilliant piece of music from talented local composer Ollie DN. Well, he's now written a theme for Nightshade, and like Seth's Theme, it was inspired by reading the book and imagining how Nightshade might feel if she was a piece of music.

The thing I love about this is how the instrument, and slinky feel, and even Nightshade's movements seem to be captured. And all in a two minute piece. Have a listen and see if it conjures up your image of how Nightshade behaves:

Another huge thank you to Ollie. One of the most amazing things about being a writer is realising that not everyone imagines the characters in exactly the way you do. And when they share their thoughts and feeling back to you - whether in a piece of music or a drawing - it's the best feeling in the world!

Hope you enjoy listening.

September 13, 2018

Seth's Theme - music inspired by The Last Chance Hotel

One of the totally lovely things that happens when you get published is that people start to share how your writing made them feel.

And one of the most wonderful things that happened to me was when local composer and music teacher Ollie DN contacted me to say reading The Last Chance Hotel had made him think of music. He has shared with me the theme he has written for Seth.

It lasts for two minutes - have a listen and see what you think:

It's a lovely, atmospheric piece of music. Absolutely huge thanks to Ollie. This was a brilliant thing to hear, not least because the music conveys to me exactly the sort of feeling I wanted to create in my readers. 

Writing something that creates those feelings in readers on the page might sometimes feel hard. But I wouldn't even know where to start to create those feelings by creating music. That truly is a whole other special skill. Hope you enjoy listening.