External link opens in new tab or windowLibrary Treasures image with link to blog

September 2022

Library Treasures interview

It was a real pleasure to be interviewed by Emma Suffield for her Library Treasures blog. Emma is a school librarian and is currently writing a YA novel. I first met Emma at the NYA Litfest where we chatted about all things books so I was thrilled when she asked if I would be interested in doing one of her Q&A sessions.
In the article I talk about the inspiration behind Gracie Fairshaw, the changes my book went through and my writing process. I also talk about my favourite books and authors and share some writing tips too. I hope you find it interesting.
External link opens in new tab or windowTo read the Q & A click here

External link opens in new tab or windowSusan at Worsley Delph

Worlsey Delph and the history of canals

It was my turn again to feature on the Time Tunnellers blog and You Tube channel and I thought I would focus on the history of the industrial canals. I visited Worsley Delph earlier in the year while researching my current work in progress which is about the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. My main character, Edward Entwistle, in some accounts is reported to have worked at the Duke of Bridgewater's Manchester works and a Tyldesley historian told me this was likely at Worsley Delph. The railways were designed to move coal quickly and cheaply, just as the canals had in the previous century. You canExternal link opens in new tab or window read my blog by clicking HERE and External link opens in new tab or windowwatch the YouTube video by clicking HERE.

August 2022

Illuminations workshops

It was wonderful to visit Platt Bridge library for the second of my illuminations workshops for Wigan libraries.
Councillor Chris Ready, who is responsible for the library offer in Wigan, came along to see my talk and to congratulate children who had completed their summer reading challenge.

The children created fantastic Illuminations designs using black card and pastels after looking at original postcards for inspiration.

Earlier in the month I visited Shevington Library were budding young artists also created gorgeous Illuminations designs. You can see images from both workshops below.

Holiday Club talk and Summer Reading Challenge

I have been to visit Bryn St Peters's Holiday Club organised by Smart Body Sports, Wigan to talk to them about becoming an author, my Gracie Fairshaw books and the Summer Reading Challenge which takes place in libraries across England and Wales.
If you don't know about the Summer Reading Challenge - it is great fun! You have to commit to reading six books (or more!) during the summer holidays. There are stickers and prizes to collect as you go along as well as a certificate and a wooden medal if you complete your challenge.
This year's theme is Gadgeteers - with a focus on STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics but you can read any books at all.
Do see if your local public library is taking part!

Illuminations

Wigan Library visits

I am thrilled to be delivering two fun FREE Illuminations inspired workshops for Wigan Libraries.

The first is at Shevington Library on Tuesday 2nd August and the second at Platt Bridge Library on Tuesday 30th August.

Both workshops are from 11-12 and places must be booked in advance.

I will have also signed copies of my Gracie Fairshaw books available on the day to buy (cash only.)For more details and to book please contact Wigan Libraries.

July 2022

Bolton Library project

Thanks to Librarian, Anne Burns, (pictured here with me) I have been visiting two Bolton Schools as part of a funded Worktown Project with Bolton Libraries. I have delivered talks and workshops about Gracie Fairshaw, the illuminations and 1930s Blackpool to Essa Academy and Pike Lane Primary.
The children have produced their own newspaper front pages telling the story of how Audrey Mosson, a 15-year-old Blackpool girl was the second celebrity to switch on the Lights in 1935.

Kintana review

Thanks to Just Imagine and Jacqueline Doherty of Spread Book Joy for her review of Kintana and the Captain's Curse. Jacqueline said: my book "provides so much information about pirate life & the plants & animals of Madagascar that it could provide a good stimulus for further research into those topics."
You can read more reviews by Jacqueline at External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.spreadbookjoy.com/


Blackpool Gazette interview

I was made up to be asked to do an interview with the Gazette about my Gracie Fairshaw books and the importance of working class representation in children's books. I talked about being from a working class background and about the working class characters in my books.
The article appeared in the physical newspaper and is also External link opens in new tab or windowavailable online here.
It was also an opportunity to give a little hint for plans for my third Gracie Fairshaw book which is scheduled to be published by Uclan Publishing in early 2024.
Thanks to reporter Lucinda Herbert for suggesting the interview.

School visit

I was thrilled to be invited to visit St Edwards College one evening for their transition open evening where pupils from year 5 & 6 have the chance to look around the school.
I took along my pirate and Blackpool objects and chatted to students who love reading and writing as well as selling and signing copies of my books with bookseller Tony Higginson of Beyond Books.

Blackpool Civic Trust talk

I was delighted to give a talk to Blackpool Civic Trust at their June meeting at the Stanley Park Visitor Centre. I spoke to members about the inspiration behind my two Gracie Fairshaw mysteries, the historical research I had done including visiting several heritage sites in the resort. My talk also highlighted the fascinating story of Audrey Mosson, 10th Railway Queen of Great Britain who lived in Blackpool.
Audrey is the only celebrity to have switched on the Blackpool Lights twice, in 1935 and 1985. As part of her role as Railway Queen she also visited Russia on a peace trip and went on to be an actress and dancer.

Reading Festival

I had a lovely time at Unity Academy, Blackpool, when I took part in their reading festival. I took along my costumes and props and enjoyed chatting to children and their families about my books. There was so much to do with storytelling, face painting, Frozen princesses and SuperTato potato making! Authors Curtis Jobling, Sarah Hagger-Holt, Jen Chaney and Dan Worsley were also there talking about their books. It was especially nice to share my gazebo with local Picture Book author Emily Dyson.

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June 2022

Madagascar and extinction

It's time for another feature from me on the Time Tunnellers YouTube channel and blog - this time I am talking about the history of Madagascar and the megafauna that used to be found there. As always there is a fun writing challenge for you to have a go at!

Skelmersdale Library visit

I had a fabulous morning at my local library on Saturday 28th May. I took along my Gracie Fairshaw and Kintana related items including my new magician's costume to go with the top hat that is being brilliantly modelled by one of the young visitors in the photo left. Thanks to everyone who came along.

May 2022

Young Quills Award 2022

Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower has been longlisted in the Historical Association's Young Quills Award 2022. These awards are judged by young readers, so I am delighted that it has been selected in the 9-12 age group. Some of the External link opens in new tab or windowreviews have been shared on the HA website - though they do include some big spoilers - so don't look unless you have finished reading the book! Although Gracie didn't make it onto the shortlist - I am delighted that my fellow Time Tunneller Barbara Henderson did with her super viking themed adventure The Chessman Thief. Barbara won a Young Quills award last year, so I have my fingers crossed she will be chosen again this year. And congratulations to Time Tunneller Ally Sherrick for also being longlisted for her gripping Tudor adventure The Queen's Fool.

Reading festival

I will be taking part in a fabulous reading festival at Unity Academy in Blackpool on Saturday 25th June. The family day takes place at the Warbreck Hill Road primary school between 10am and 2pm.
Children's authors Dan Worsley, Curtis Jobling, Sarah Hagger-Holt and Jen Carney will also be taking part.
There will be a host of attractions on the day including a book sale, ice cream, workshops, a manga artist, Disney princesses, a book treasure hunt, face painting and a bookmark competition.

April 2022

Skelmersdale Library author event

I will be visiting Skelmersdale Library in Lancashire on Saturday, May 28 between 11am and noon for a fun drop-in centre looking at the inspiration behind my books. I will be taking along objects connected to my books including a replica giant elephant bird egg, costumes to try on and some stinky smell cubes. Children can also create their own colourful pirate parrot or magician's budgerigar to take home.

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Women's History Month

The Time Tunnellers have been celebrating Women's History Month with a series of special posts and Vlogs.
I chose to take a look at female pirates as they were part of the inspiration behind my Madagascan set adventure Kintana and the Captain's Curse.
You can find out all about real life buccaneers Mary Read, Anne Bonny and Grace O'Malley (Gráinne Ní Mháille) on the External link opens in new tab or windowTime Tunnellers blog here and on our External link opens in new tab or windowYouTube channel here.
Don't forget there is a different history topic every week by the Time Tunnellers (myself, Ally Sherrick, Barbara Henderson, Catherine Randall and Jeannie Waudby) or one of our guest authors, so why not subscribe! All content is free.


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Book recommended by Books for Topics

Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest has been chosen to feature in a list of brilliant books for Years 5 & 6 that are diverse and inclusive. I am thrilled that Gracie's first adventure has been selected as one of the titles recommended featuring characters with a physical disabilitity alongside two of my favourite recent reads Runaway Robot by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley.

March 2022

World Book Day

It was a real pleasure to be invited back to The Brow Primary in Runcorn to help them celebrate World Book Day. I gave an assembly talk to the whole school about my second Gracie Fairshaw book Trouble at the Tower and the real life people and places that inspired the book. I also delivered my Using Historical Newspapers to Write stories workshop to class five and class six. The stories the children came up with inspired by news articles, press photographs and advertisements were so imaginative and I loved hearing them read aloud.


NYA Lit Fest

I am excited to be appearing at this year's NYA Lit Fest - Uclan Publishing's northern literary festival in Preston. This year the event will take place over the weekend of 21st & 22nd May.

The Saturday is dedicated to Young Adult books and the Sunday - when I will be taking part - is the KIDS literary festival.

You can External link opens in new tab or windowbook tickets for the event HERE

You can register for NYA Lit Fest HERE.


What's your story, Chorley

I will be delivering a fun event at Chorley Library on Saturday, March 26th, 2022 as part of the What's your story, Chorley festival. I am inviting young scallywags and their Captain’s (responsible adults) to join me for some pirate fun! I'll be chatting about Madagascar and the real life Treasure Island that inspired Kintana and the Captain’s Curse. The event will be suitable for ages 5-12 and I will be in pirate costume so why not dress up too! Signed books will also be available on the day thanks to Chorley bookshop External link opens in new tab or windowEbb & Flo.

External link opens in new tab or windowPaperbound magazine


Time Tunnellers and how to build a book WBD special

Thursday 3rd March is World Book Day and to celebrate the Time Tunnellers group I am part of have created a five part special focusing on How to build a book. From submitting your manuscript to editing, book covers to printing and finally promotion - myself, Catherine Randall, Ally Sherrick, Jeannie Waudby and Barbara Henderson will take you through the process step by step!
There is a daily blog from Sunday 27 Feb to Thursday 3 March External link opens in new tab or windowHERE as well as a daily youtube video External link opens in new tab or windowHERE.

We are also delighted to feature in the spring edition of the online magazine Paperbound. We are each sharing our favourite thing about writing historical fiction. You will be able to view the magazine on the Paperbound website External link opens in new tab or windowHERE.

February 2022

Writing workshop at bookshop

I was delighted to return to External link opens in new tab or windowBear Hunt Books in Bebington, Wirral this half term to deliver another writing workshop for children.
This time the session was - Using old newspapers to create stories. The children had a go at writing shorthand, learned about the 5 Ws - who, what, where, when and why and scoured old newspapers to find a news article to turn into a story.
We also looked at the news story that prompted Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest - when Audrey Mosson, railway queen, was invited by the mayor of Blackpool to turn on the Blackpool Illuminations in his place.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories made up by the children. r children aged 7-12years..

January 2022

Behind the scenes look at Blackpool cinema

Thank you to The Regent cinema, in Blackpool, for allowing me a look behind the scenes! My third Gracie Fairshaw book is influenced by the filming of Sing As We Go in Blackpool, in 1934 and the famous filmstar Gracie Fields.
The book's finale takes place in The Regent - so I was super excited to visit the cinema and see the projection booth and the 35mm projector.
The New Regent Picture House Cinema first opened in 1921. It is made of reinforced concrete and was claimed to be the most fireproofed building built in Blackpool - and included an excessive number of fire escapes. Celluloid film was highly flammable and there were many fires in projection booths which costs the lives of projectionists. Fire safety in cinema was also highlighted by the Glen Cinema tragedy, Paisley, New Year's Eve, 1929.
The Regent had 1092 seats and a retractable roof. The outside is white glazed tile, with a dome above the corner entrance. Children were seated downstairs and had their own entrance further along Church Street, next to a sweet shop.
Inside a marble staircase leads up to the balcony. The original decoration was Wedgewood blue and cream, with rich gold and black Witton carpets throughout.
Today the Regent still shows films which the public vote for - and downstairs is a fabulous antiques centre. Find out more at External link opens in new tab or windowhttp://theregentblackpool.co.uk/cinema

Children review Kintana

It was wonderful to see that Kintana and the Captain's Curse has been chosen for a review special in Naval Families Federation's Homeport magazine. Children have written reviews of my pirate book, after receiving copies from Reading Force who promote reading to forces families.
I was especially touched by Lorwenna's review as she said how Kintana's relationship with her Pa had made her think of her own relationship with her own dad, who works at sea, as well as the importance of families.
Other reviewers said how much they had enjoyed solving the riddles, learning about new animals and the funny bits!
One reviewer also appreciated the glossary, which is one of the elements of book writing I particularly enjoy creating.
You can read Homeport magazine External link opens in new tab or windowhere. The spread is in the Autumn 2021 edition.

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National Storytelling Week

It is my turn on the Time Tunnellers blog and YouTube channel.
This time I am exploring the history of the art of storytelling - and I have a challenge for young writers.
You can watch my short video on External link opens in new tab or windowYouTube here.
I have also asked four storytellers to share their tips on telling a story aloud to an audience.
Find out what Gav Cross, Tom Hughes, Dom Conlon and Rogan Mills said on External link opens in new tab or windowthe blog here.
National Storytelling Week takes place between January 29th and February 5th. It is organised by External link opens in new tab or windowThe Society of Storytelling.