Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Glass Demon - launch event.

My second book, "The Glass Demon", is being published in the UK in May - but I'm having a launch party in Belgium, as I've lived here since 2008. I thought I would never enjoy living anywhere as much as Bad Münstereifel, but I've become very fond of my new home and I'm looking forward to celebrating here.
I'm planning to hold an evening of reading, talking (not just me - I like to listen to readers too!), book signing and hopefully toasting the launch of my new book. The event is being held at Treasure Trove Books in Tervuren, near Brussels - which has the distinction of being an English language children's bookshop in Flanders! - on Saturday 5th June, from 17.00 to 19.00. Entrance free (naturally) and all welcome.

Carnegie shortlist 2010

I'm absolutely thrilled to say that "The Vanishing of Katharina Linden" is on the shortlist for the 2010 CILIP Carnegie medal!
Here's a list of all the shortlisted books:
CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson
NATION by Terry Pratchett
FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve
REVOLVER by Marcus Sedgwick
It's a super-strong list and I'm really pleased that my book is on it. I wish I could say that I and my family had rushed out last night for a champagne celebration, but we had already arranged to take a horde of kids to the local pool in Overijse and then to McDonald's!!! So I'll be saving the champagne for the launch of my second book next month - of which more later.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bad Münstereifel

It seems like the right occasion to start blogging on my new website (big thanks to for doing a brilliant job on that!); I've just got back from a four day trip to Bad Münstereifel. BM is the town where "The Vanishing of Katharina Linden" is set; it's a real place, and we lived there for seven years before moving to our current home in Belgium.
When we moved to Germany in 2001 my husband was anxious that I would be bored in BM. "You can walk from one end of it to the other in two minutes," he said. I suppose that's true - at a brisk walk you could get from the Orchheimer Tor (gate) at the south end of the town to the Werther Tor at the north end. But I was never bored there for an instant. I fell in love with the town as soon as I saw it. It's the sort of place I thought no longer existed outside old b&w films. There are cobbled streets and half timbered houses enclosed by mediaeval walls, a castle, and some amazing old churches. There are still quite a few small businesses, there's a strong sense of community, there's even a friendly policeman who knows everyone by name. It's also a place with a fascinating history and simply bursting with local legends (I didn't make the ones in "The Vanishing..." up). I could have stayed there for another seven years without getting bored!
It's always a bittersweet experience visiting the town. On the one hand it's wonderful to catch up with friends, smell the sweet clean air and relish the silence (we live under the flight path in Brussels). But it's always hard to leave.
A few things have happened since our last visit in 2009. A new bookshop called "Leserei" has opened on the Marktstrasse. The Jesuit church next to the St. Michel Gymnasium has been closed because of fire damage (it didn't burn down but everything is smoke blackened after a fire in the corner where the votive candles are). Also, the old castle on the Quecken hill is now firmly on the tourist trail. When I first visited the castle (which must have been around 2004) the ruins were so thoroughly concealed in the undergrowth that it took me about half an hour to find them at all. The turret by which Stefan sits during his midnight visit to the castle in the book was completely open and accessible (not that you would want to fall into it, as you'd never get out by yourself and it's lonely up there in the woods...). During our time in BM (ie after 1999 when the book is set) a kind of cage was fitted over the turret to prevent people falling into it - a big safety improvement but not a very aesthetic addition. This time I was somewhat horrified to discover that a path up to the turret had been cleared and a large and imposing sign reading "castle 50m" had been put up! Well, I suppose it's an improvement in terms of making the town's history accessible to all, but the thrill of discovery has kind of gone...
One thing hadn't changed, anyway. Herr Nipp of the Erft Cafe still makes the best cherry streusel I have ever tasted!