Monday, 27 January 2014

RHCP goes to the movies!

Popcorn, sweets, viruses, chat, books, a 6am wake up call and a bit of thieving. Sounds like a perfect Saturday!

Oh look! A gorgeous poster. And it tells you a lot about the most recent Random House Children's bloggers' brunch. Here are some of our memorable bits:

Yes, M snaffled this poster from the event - but she asked Jasmine first!

Like any big cinema, there was popcorn in little boxes, pick 'n' mix sweets, an audience and a big screen with adverts. No actual movie stars were present but author Matt Haig did a good job of standing in (see below for M's narrated and interpreted account!). Advertisement-wise, we'll mention the things that struck us most.

We'll start with the movies (note: RHCP has not become a movie production company; some of their books are being turned into movies). We want to see The Book Thief (but Little M wants to read it first); same goes for Andy Mulligan's Trash which is coming out in film. Little M liked the film trailer for Joseph Delaney's Seventh Son but M hasn't a clue who Jeremy Irvine is.

Forthcoming books-wise, top of Little M's list is Theresa Breslin's Ghost Soldier (publishing 31 July 2014). One of many books that'll be published around the World War I Centenary, this one's about the search for a father missing-in-action and uncovering a building full of soldiers suffering from shellshock and nervous disorders.

Bird by Crystal Chan is being pitched by RHCP as being in the same guise as John Boyne's younger fiction or David Almond's Skellig. They're crossing fingers that it'll be their Wonder for 2014. We both already knew about this book and the appeal for both of us is strong and the first few chapters are good. I'll say no more.

The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister (8 April 2014). Set in 1939 rural France, it's about a thirteen year old boy who goes about inventing a car that'll be designed for and affordable to everyday people. RHCP is describing it as quirky and comparable to Sandi Toksvig's Hitler's Canary.

Crime/Thriller-wise, there's Web of Darkness by Bali Rai (June 2014) and Running Girl by Simon Mason (just out). Hilariously, one features a character called Benedict and the other features a character with an exceptionally high IQ. Everything Baker Street is the way to the thinking teen's heart, it would seem......

The Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (July 2014) was described as Day of the Triffids meets Wonder. A bit sci-fiey but with a focus that's more on love, loneliness and inner strength. M's intrigued.

Then, of course, there's Matt Haig's Echo Boy. Basically, echoes are machines that are made to serve humans. Little M thinks it sounds good and it reminds her of Spielberg's film, Artificial Intelligence. M's a fan of Haig's The Humans and she has a hunch that she will enjoy this (and remember, Somni-451 is one of her all-time favourite book characters).

To be or not to be? Was that the question?
And is this the answer?
Matt Haig chatted with us all, Q&A style. He was very funny, in his typical self-deprecating way, and I'll follow his blog-writing suit and summarise in list style:

- Little M asked him a question in front of loads of people (good reason to sit in the front row - you don't realise what's behind you!). She asked him if he wrote a book about an event that happened in his life, what would it be? He said he thinks it would be about his life in his twenties because this was an exciting yet dark place in his internal space (a time when he was depressed). Or perhaps he would write a story about an author's book tour, a type of picaresque.

- Before being published, he worked in Oddbins and delivered crates of champagne for other authors (who were published!).

- The Outsiders by SE Hinton is probably his favourite book.

- He doesn't plan when he writes novels (except for The Radleys).

- Writing young adult fiction can combine the best of two worlds: the world of imagination (from children's fiction) and the world of ideas (from adult fiction).

- Young adult fiction can have an edge, or danger, without being all sex-and-drugs controversial.On writing about the human condition, "I'm basically a philosopher..(...)..but you need a good story to hang an idea on". His dad was an architect.

- There needs to be a strong, real reason to write in the first person. He thinks it helps to humanise speculative worlds, like the one in Echo Boy. Otherwise, these can be "a refrigerator world that you can't access".

- He gets bored easily.

- He thinks people may only be wise and stoic by age 40. He is 38. M thinks he's right.

- He is a Margaret Atwood fan.

- His new book, Echo Boy, is proper science-fiction even though he is not a big reader of the genre.

- He is not sure if Echo Boy is a love story or not.

- Echo Boy is his ninth book.

- The question he never gets asked but wants to answer (deep, deep down) is: "What makes you so brilliant?"

Matt Haig is funny. And now back to us.

We also caught up with a few of our book blogging friends like Georgia (Books and Writers Jnr), Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies), Jesse (Books 4 Teens), and Viv (Serendipity Reviews). And M was very excited to meet some of her twitter friends in real life: Anna (A Case For Books) and Sarah Jane (And Then I Read a Book). Also great to put a face to Clare Hall-Craggs and talk war stories and family reading!

Thank you Random House for inviting us and for serving popcorn. And thank goodness it didn't snow!

Next stop of the day: Bloomsbury for Faber and Faber!


  1. I've finished Bird! It is good and a bit Almondy. It has a lovely warm tone; all the main characters are from Jamaican and/or Mexican descent; it delves right into a 12 year's old's longing to feel wanted and loved; and it's a bit teary in lots of places.

  2. Great post, I thought Little M was mighty brave and bold too with her question-asking! It was such a fun event, and it was so lovely to meet you for real :)

    1. I thought she was too. If I'd been on a stool, I may have fallen off in surprise! So good to be able to put a real person to their tweets.

  3. Little M did what I could never do - so brave (and a great question too)!!!

    Was really good to see you again and this reminds me just how wonderful the event was :)

    1. :-) Sit in the front row next time, Jesse! And lovely to see you again too (you were one of the people on Little M's list of people she really wanted to meet). :)


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