Heaps of News
Great start to the year with a new two book Historical Fiction contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. Delighted to be working some more with my brilliant editors Ele and Isabel. Also have a new book in the pipeline with my pals at Usborne, and have been doing some editing and writing for National Geographic. Perhaps the bairns won’t have to go to the workhouse after all.
Two excellent schools in London and Berkshire in January:
Emanuel in Battersea, where librarian Tony James, who is hugely well read, offered some fascinating insights into children’s fiction:
if you write series books, know when to stop. Readers get bored.
Historical fiction has never been super trendy (unlike ******* vampires) but it’s never gone out of fashion either. Hurrah for that!
Then off to Downe House, where I was made to feel very welcome by staff and girls and had a lovely day. Thanks to Ian and Tracy Valance, and Andrew Hobbs, for their hospitality.
Closer to home, visited Highfields School in Wolverhampton: recently rebuilt, full of bright and hardworking kids, dedicated long-term staff, and a fantastic example of how a well-run Comp can operate.
Three waterlogged days in Weston-Super-Mare and Wrington, teaching creative writing to Years 5 and 6 on Caboodle’s ‘Able Writers’ programme. Primary kids are so enthusiastic and its fascinating to see their emerging writing talents.
It never rains but it pours – a trip apiece to Tasmania and Beijing dangled, then cancelled. But still loads of school visits coming in. Week of World Book Day is frantic, with trips to York, Cambridge, Highgate and Surbiton. Many other schools booked over 2014, but currently still have plenty of days left in May (when I was supposed to be going to Tasmania), first two weeks of June, and much of the Autumn term.
Do get in touch on
if you would like me to visit your school. My illustrated talk about the First World War and my book ‘Eleven Eleven’, together with a writing workshops based around the first day of the Somme, has been very popular.
I also have a new book out in May: ‘Red Shadow’ – set in the Kremlin in 1941. I’ll soon have a school talk ready for that, too.
Busy November and early December, with school visits to Sutton Valance, The Judd School and Ashford School, all in Kent, Copleston in Ipswich, and Stewart’s Melville in Edinburgh – a bracing mixture of State and Independent schools, all of them staffed by dedicated teachers and filled with lively, enthusiastic pupils. Thank you to all the school librarians and English department staff who have invited me to visit. School visits are always an adventure, and a nice antidote to the solitary life of a writer.
School trips for 2014
Exciting news for the first half of 2014: festival and school trips planned for Paris, Normandy and Holland, and heaps of UK schools too, from Norwich to Surbiton, via Swindon and York.
Off Down Under
Also very exciting is a trip to Tasmania with Steve Rossiter’s Australian Literature Review organisation, planned for May. I’m going out to be author in residence at two novel writing retreats and hoping to visit other schools and festivals in Australia while I’m there.
You can find out details of the writing retreats planned for 2014 here:
and also, here’s an interview I did for the Retreat website:
My latest book ‘Eleven Eleven’, set on the final day of the First World War, has been longlisted for the Carnegie Book Award. It’s certainly a long list, so wish me luck with the shortlist.
Sektion 20 – now a school play!!!
Was thrilled to hear Don Bosco school in Padua, Italy, dramatized my book ‘Sektion 20’, set in Communist East Berlin in 1972, for a run of school performances. Special thanks to Bruna Calgaro who dramatized the book and Matteo Faccioli who played the book’s central character Alex Ostermann.
I can’t reproduce a photo here but if you’re interested there’s quite a few shots at
New Book News
Finally, I’ve spent the last few weeks pitching new ideas to my Publisher, Bloomsbury, and waiting to hear what they think. I’ve also been dotting i’s and crossing t’s on my latest Bloomsbury novel ‘Red Shadow’, set in Stalin’s Russia over 1941, which is out in May, 2014.
Here’s the cover, which I think looks absolutely magnificent.
Bits, and Bobs
To Bath Children’s Literature Festival for the School Library Association Information Book Award. Usborne’s ‘The Story of the Second World War’ was one of three titles selected for the Teenage section, over 2012-2013. Great to have the company of Sam Barrett, one of the book’s magnificent designers. Alas, we didn’t win but the companion volume ’The Story of the First World War’, which Sam also worked on, is out next year and maybe we’ll get lucky with that.
Please to hear another of my Usborne non-fiction books ‘True Stories of Escape’ has been selected for the Literacy Trust’s ‘Premier League Reading Stars’ programme, and an extract is being read on line by Aston Villa’s Stephen Ireland.
What a great thing for football stars to be doing. (Encouraging reading, I mean, not reading my book!)
And seamlessly borrowing from the world of football, I’m over the moon to hear my book ‘Eleven Eleven’ has been bought by French Publisher Naïve, and my new Russian book, out in May next year, has been bought by Callenbach in Holland, and Feltrinelli in Italy. Thank you, my dear friends in Europe.
Out and about
Lovely three days in Mantova in scorching sunshine. Italy is one of my favourite countries and it’s always a joy to be asked to a book festival there. Thank you to Matteo Corradini and Sofia Gallo who shared a discussion with me on the merits of Historical Fiction, to Aline Reinelt who arranged my trip, and Francesca Dal Negro, my editor at Feltrinelli, who came over to look after me.
Lovely three days at Appledore Book Festival, Devon, in rain and drizzle (and hailstones at one point). Four very good schools: Great Torrington, Park Community, Bideford College and Shebbear College. Kids were great and staff welcoming – thank you for having me into your schools. Thank you too, to Janet and David Fisher, and Carol Smith, for arranging my trip and looking after me so generously.
Off to Bath on September 30, where my Usborne Book ‘The Story of the Second World War’ has been shortlisted for the School Library Association Information Book Award. I still write the occasional non-fiction title and I’m pleased this beautifully-designed book has been selected by the SLA.
More ‘Eleven Eleven’ news
Great to hear ’11/11’ has been shortlisted for two more book awards: The Coventry Inspiration Award and the Southampton Favourite Book Award. Fingers crossed!
Thank you to Carousel and Trevor Thompson for the following review in the Summer issue:
How can such a long and complicated piece of history be encapsulated into a short novel…? Paul Dowswell has performed something quite extraordinary in the way he took on this task. …this book succeeds admirably in bringing that extraordinary time back to life.
June 18, 2013
Young Quills Award
Down to London and Senate House for the Historical Association 2013 Young Quills Award, with my agent Charlie Viney, and my desk editor Isabel Ford. Really pleased to win again with ‘Eleven Eleven’ and very much enjoyed the main event – a fascinating speech on old men in politics by Professor David Cannadine.
It reminded me of my favourite Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme moment, when a journalist described George H.W. Bush cronies Casper Weinberger and Al Haig as ‘two old men who looked incapable of making their own breakfast without incident.’
June 14-16, 2013
Rimini Mare di Libri
Marvellous three days in blazing sunshine, at the magnificently well organised Rimini Mare di Libri book festival. Special thanks to Nicola Galli Laforest who interviewed me at a packed event in Rimini Museum, and Chiara Codeca who translated with aplomb. Thank you too, to festival staff Alice Bigli, Alice Fiorini and Emma Ianni for organising my visit. And top marks to the Brit in my hotel who shouted, headmaster-style and in English, ‘I say, will you boys please keep the noise down’ at some noisy locals at four in the morning. Their response was torrid and I’ve been laughing about it ever since.
June 11, 2013
Usborne 40th Birthday Party
Down to the Kensington Palace Orangery to celebrate Usborne’s 40 years. Brilliant to see the company really thriving and Peter Usborne full of energy and enthusiasm. They’re my non-fiction publishers and it’s a real pleasure to work with them. Here I am with my friend and Usborne editor Mairi Mackinnon.
May 23, 2013
‘Eleven Eleven’ wins Historical Association Young Quills Award (Secondary Section)
…following on from last year’s winner ‘Sektion 20’. I’m very pleased to win two years on the trot. Congrats to Tom and Tony Bradman, too, for their ‘Titanic, Death in the Water’ which won the Primary award.
The Historical Association say ‘Amongst the many strengths of this story are the vivid action sequences and the very atmospheric settings, such as the aerial sequences or the sniper in the wood. As one pupil reader commented, ‘It’s very tense and leaves you on the edge of your seat.’ Most important of all is the way that the reader becomes caught up in the (story) and find themselves willing the three young men to survive those final hours of an awful conflict.