December 07, 2020

My Christmas giveaway competition - win TEN copies of The Cut-Throat Café for your school or reading group

How would you like to win ten copies of The Cut-Throat Café for your school or reading group? Welcome to my Christmas giveaway competition! This is to say  a huge thank you to all the schools and librarians who have shown such brilliant support for me and my books this year. I love hearing from schools or classes or book groups that are reading the books together.

And I would also like to thank all the bookshops and book bloggers for their support to introduce even more people to my mysteries that always have a magical twist.

I also have huge thanks for all the readers out there. I love hearing from you and it is wonderful for me to know how much you are enjoying the books. If you want to hear more about what I am working on next, think about signing up to get my newsletter straight into your inbox.

So now for that competition!

As you know, my books feature a lot of puzzles, mysteries to solves, clues, red herrings that require a great deal of detective work. Now I want you to do the detective work and solve a puzzle.

My challenge to you is to guess a book title. Sounds easy? Well there is a catch – I have given you the title and the author, but I have removed all the vowels.

And because this competition is to celebrate my third book this year, the book title is the third book in the series. So although this is a clue, this may not be the author’s most famous book.

Ready for the challenge? Here it is:


Once you think you've got it, submit the answer through the contact form on my website here

If more than one person gets the answer right I will pick a winner for random. And this prize is on offer to the UK only, and the closing date is the 31st December.

Good luck!

If you enjoyed this little challenge I have got a bigger challenge for you - and there are even more in my newsletter! But these are just for fun. 

See if you can spot a few more Famous Third Books. Answers will be on my website in the first week of January.







To make it even more tricky, there are some adult books here and children’s. Classics and more modern ones, so I know there are a couple of absolutely tricky ones in there, so very best of luck. And I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

December 03, 2020

Mulțumesc. Bóg zapłać! Dank u. Herzlichen Dank! Thank you so much to everyone!

Not every author gets to have their book translated into a different language, but it is even more incredible to learn that lots of children have been reading my book as part of a reading competition.

The Vorlesewettbewerb is an incredible reading competition in Germany that has been running for over 60 years and is run with bookshops, schools, publishers and is wonderful to be part of it.  


(From left to right: The Bad Luck Lighthouse published in The Netherlands, The Lighthouse of Bad Luck published in Poland, The Wizard's Hotel published in Romania and Lighthouse of Ghosts published this week in Germany!)

An incredible 600,000 schoolchildren join in every year, and it is a national knock-out competition where children read from prepared (and unprepared) extracts from recently published children's books.

It sounds completely brilliant, and I'd love to go see one of the readings one day. Here is a link to one of the articles showing a young contestant reading from my book!

I know a lot of schools across Germany chose Hotel Der Magier as one of the recommended texts. 

On Dec 3 my publisher (Carlsen) in Germany launched The Bad Luck Lighthouse as Leuchtturm der Geister.  Exciting! And I'm so thrilled that also the Cut-Throat Cafe will launch there in May 2021. 

I often get sent a complimentary copy of a book, and one thing I love is to find out Nightshade's name in the translation. That can take a lot of detective work! She's known as Nachtschatten (Nightshadow) in German,  Sombra (Shadow) in Spanish, Teni (or Shadows) in Russian and my personal favourite, Černostínka in Czech - which literally means 'black shadow' but looks like something far more disrespectful and funny!

I have written about how it is truly amazing to have your book rewritten - and in some cases, reimagined - by a publisher and translator, renaming your characters, adjusting things to fit local cultural references - and even getting nominated for an award.

As a children's author in the 21st century, it is sometimes overwhelming to keep track of all the wonderful messages and pictures I get sent. I also now have my own YouTube channel for my writing tips. I do try to reply to all the emails and comments.

This end-of-2020 post is really a thank you. It's an extraordinary privilege to do what I do, and I'd like to end this most challenging and traumatic year to simply say thank you to those children who have read my book, wherever you are in the world.

So MulțumescBóg zapłać! Merci Beaucoup! Dank uHerzlichen Dank! Thank you so much to everyone! And all the best for 2021.

October 16, 2020

So thrilled to announce: Two more books from me!

My wonderful UK publisher, Chicken House, have asked me to write two more books for them.

I could not be more thrilled and I am so pleased to have their support and the chance to write something more. I do rather love writing!

It's always tricky to know what to write next . . . I have been delighted with the reader reaction to Seth and Nightshade the mysteries they are solving in the magical world.

But at the same time, is it always a good idea as a writer to keep doing the same thing?

What will be next for books 4&5?

I have had a little think and some playing around with some ideas and have welcomed some great thoughts from people who read my newsletter and Seth will take a break for the next one to allow me to try something new.

But I can definitely say there will be magic involved and also a crime.

And it will have lots of things in common with my first three books. It will be set in the same world, a spin-off story set in the world of the Elysee Sorcerers, where mystery abounds. But if something supernatural happens in your neighbourhood is it down to magical forces and sorcerers going bad . . . or can it be explained by something else entirely? 

It all definitely needs investigating!

Seth Seppi mysteries abroad

I continue to be thrilled that the Seth Seppi magical mysteries are reaching readers abroad and absolutely love to hear from readers wherever you are! Particularly when you send me pictures of you reading. 

I have had two book birthdays recently. The Last Chance Hotel has been published in Sweden. The Bad Luck Lighthouse is now out in Holland. And the latest country that will be welcoming Seth is Hungary!

Thank you to all my publishers everywhere.

I managed to get a sneak peak of the next German edition, which I believe will be published in December. It translates as ‘The Lighthouse of Ghosts’ which I love.

There will be more news soon of my next book - don't forget if you want to join in, I write a regular Mystery Journal and you will be first to hear what is happening to Seth and Nightshade.

October 06, 2020

Congratulations to Pam Smy

Just wanted to say Congratulations to Pam Smy who won the prize for Translated novels in the youth section for her marvellously creepy Thornhill.

Loved this book since I first came across it and am thrilled for Pam, plus very pleased that The Last Chance Hotel was in the running for this international prize.

If you have not read Thornhill, I can thoroughly recommend how innovative and stylish it is, as well being a great gothic story about the dark secrets contained in what appears to be an empty house. A very worthy winner indeed. 

September 05, 2020

The Last Chance Hotel nominated for the Elbakin Fantasy Award

I am so proud that The Last Chance Hotel has been nominated for a fantastic award in France - the Prix Elbakin.Net - where it is published as L’Hotel de la Derniere Chance.

The nominations for the 2020 award are here!

The Elbakin is an award for fantasy writing and looking at the other nominees, I am up against some very impressive competition. And the list of previous winners is also enough to make me feel nervous, yet even more thrilled at the same time. 

I wish everyone nominated the best of luck.

(apologies that I could not get a very clear image, but the other nominees are Thomas Taylor, Pam Smy, Samantha Shannon and Nnedi Okorafor).

And can I please say a big thank you to the Ealing Junior Book Award, which very kindly voted The Last Chance Hotel as its Book of the Year. Unfortunately the event had to be cancelled where I would have had the chance to have met a lot of the readers.

I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone involved with the award for the support of the book and for all the readers who were involved in choosing the first of my Seth Seppi mysteries as their favourite. These things really mean a lot and I was sorry not to get the chance to express my appreciation. 

Being nominated for any award is such a huge deal for any writer. Having people read your books is a big honour, but awards are rare and really do mean a lot. So thank you!

July 21, 2020

New - virtual events

A lot has been happening in the world of school author events, so I am offering all my events virtually for now.

My plan is to really put schools in the driving seat.

I am using my experience working in schools and running creative writing workshops to offer a choice of events built around my magical mystery stories.

Virtual events are fully flexible. We can make use of whatever technology and resources any school might have available. The cost of doing a virtual event with me makes it much cheaper for schools, so I am hoping I can reach more who have limited budgets. And more who are too far away from me to make a visit in person. No travel costs to anyone!

There are also many times of the year when I am not available to visit schools because of the constrains of deadlines, so I am hoping these new, very flexible options will work for everyone.

Please watch this space, contact me for further information, or join in with my newsletter if you are thinking about how a virtual mystery event might work in your school!

I hope I am back working with schools very soon.

April 26, 2020

Join me on the Cut-Throat Café blog tour

At the beginning of April, in lieu of a book launch at my local bookshop, I was excited to have a virtual book launch on YouTube, and thrilled so many people managed to come along.

I'm even more excited to tell you about my blog tour, taking place the week beginning 27 April:

As the tour progresses, I'll keep the page updated with direct links. But for now, below are some links so you can get to know the bloggers and their blogs.

Thanks so much to my publisher Chicken House for setting this up - but especial thanks to those bloggers who have let me ramble on about everything from why I love writing for children, or answer questions and reveal a few secrets along the way of what goes into writing the world of Seth and Nightshade...

27 April, 2020 - Read It Daddy
28 April, 2020 - My Shelves Are Full
29 April, 2020 - A Little but a Lot
30 April, 2020 - Margaret's Reading Shelf
1 May, 2020 - The Reader Teacher
2 May, 2020 - Golden Books Girl

Please consider signing up to receive my Mystery Journal if you would like to know more about me, my writing, and what's next in store for Seth and Nightshade...

April 12, 2020

Now a proud author of THREE books

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who made it to the virtual launch of The Cut-Throat Cafe. Particularly to those who made shortbread!

It was lovely that so many people were able to join - and ask questions. I love to hear from readers, so if you have a question, you can contact me easily through the contact page on this website, or through my facebook page and I shall do my best to answer.

And if I can I share some of the lovely photos you send me in my newsletter too. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that on this website too.

If you weren't able to make the launch live, you can watch it again here and watch me try to talk, answer questions and make shortbread and decide how successful I was.

I am very proud of how my three books all look together. Thanks to the brilliant artist Matt Saunders for the illustrations. 

Here they all are. I so hope you will enjoy reading them and following Seth's magical mystery adventures.

March 26, 2020

Everyone is invited to the book launch for The Cut-Throat Cafe

I would love it if people would come and help me launch the latest of my Seth Seppi magical mysteries The Cut-Throat Café. You are all invited!

I will be live-streaming on YouTube on the official publication day.
Join in making Scrumdiddlyumptious Shortbread as part of the Cut-Throat Café activities.

Signed bookplates available!

Thanks to all of the amazing bookshops who are sending book parcels far and wide. Keep safe all of you.

If you would like a signed copy, I am really happy to send signed bookplates to bookshops. Just contact me or your local bookshop to let me know if you would like some.

(My local bookshop, Mostly Books, is also taking orders, and if you get in touch, they can arrange to get a signed and dedicated copy and offer discounted delivery within Abingdon). 

How you can join in the celebrations

If you want to make shortbread, you can look up the recipe I will be using under the activities tab on this website.

My main character, Seth, loves cooking and this is his favourite recipe, passed down by his father. 

But shortbread is a great recipe, lots of people make it different ways. So don't worry if you are short of ingredients, have some sort of flour, butter and sugar, use whatever is to hand!

The Cut-Throat Café is published by Chicken House, so a really big 'thank you' to them for being so supportive. The cover illustration is by the truly exceptional Matt Saunders.

Join me at 1pm BST Thursday April 2. And again, in the evening at 7pm.

The launch party is sadly not in the Cut-Throat Café of the title, and you will have to bring your own drinks.

I will be taking questions – and trying to answer them. These can be sent by email in advance, or on Facebook or Twitter (can’t do live questions on YouTube because of restrictions).

And I would love to give a shout-out to anyone who will be watching. Or schools who may have read The Last Chance Hotel.

And authors who are also publishing books in April. Would love to give you a mention.

Here's a bit more about Seth and Nightshade's latest adventure...

This time it is the magical apprentices who are in trouble

Seth Seppi is excited to arrive in the magical town of Gramichee. He is desperate to discover if he has any chance of fulfilling his destiny and becoming a sorcerer and this is one of the few towns where a number of magical people live.

It is Seth’s best chance of finding himself an apprenticeship, because so far, his magic has been nothing but a disaster and he needs to find someone to help him with his magic.

But he’s arrived in Gramichee at exactly the wrong time. An apprentice has been attacked and it's not the first incident.

This is the start of Seth’s most worrying case so far. Why are apprentices being targeted? Is it an accident? A prank gone wrong? Is one of the apprentices responsible, or is something much darker at the bottom of it all?

Once again, Seth will need all his wits about him and dig deep into the magical world and his own magic to find answers.

Can Seth discover who is the mysterious Apprentice Assassin before the whole apprentice scheme is scrapped and Seth’s dreams of ever becoming a sorcerer fail along with it.

And remember, you are all invited to my booklaunch  at 1pm and 7pm BST Thursday April 2. Join me here! 

February 11, 2020

Magic is nothing but trouble

I am so excited to share with you details of The Cut-Throat Café, the latest Seth Seppi magical mystery adventure.

So, very big thanks to my publisher, Chicken House, for wanting to revisit Seth and his magical world and give him another mystery to that probably has magic behind it.

When I decided I wanted to write murder mysteries that happened in a magical world, I asked myself lots of questions about what it might actually be like for there to really be magic. I thought there would probably be quite a few things that happened occasionally that no one could explain

This gives me such a strong and fun basis that all the stories have in common. 

Importantly, the stories are set in a world where magic exists, but it is very rare and sorcerers are very secretive. And this gives me another great way into much of the mystery plots.

I also asked myself what it might be like to be one of the few magical people. You could not reveal your magic without an awful lot of fuss. So how would you use it? Would you use your magic to do good things and help people...or would you realise that magic gave you enormous power? Would some people be tempted to use magic to do bad things?

I decided that some people most definitely would!

And I decided that there would need to be magical police who made sure people obeyed certain laws when using magic.

This is the starting point of the stories and the same is true in The Cut-Throat Café. 
Another brilliant jacket design by Matt Saunders
Seth Seppi is just beginning his own magical journey to discover more about the magical abilities he might possess and how he might use them and improve them.

But so far, his magic has proved nothing but trouble. He arrives in 
Gramichee, a town where a lot of people live close together, but still secretly. Here is where the headquarters of the magical world is based, the Elysee.

And here is where a lot of young magical people are, just starting out on their road to learning magic. Would they all behave themselves and use magic wisely...or might they be tempted to dabble with a little illicit magic and possibly play a few tricks on each other?

And then if (because this is another murder mystery!) one of the apprentices died, how would anyone be able to tell if this was another prank gone wrong – or whether something more sinister was afoot?

I think this one has been the most fun to write as it has the most magic in it and the most magical people.

Seth has the chance to try out his magic and meet others struggling with their magic, so he doesn’t have to be quite so secretive.

But he also now must prove that his magic won’t lead to a load of trouble and breaking the laws of the magical world.

So here's where you can order your copy:
Fancy reading the first chapter for free? Then why not download here...