The wind was howling fearful cold
It wasn't very nice
Then out of the swirling snow some tiny dogs burst forth...
PUGS.... OF THE FROZEN NORTH!
Photo tweeted by Tom Gates author Liz Pichon
They said... YIIIIIP! yip YIIIIIP! yip YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP!
...And thus begins the theme song of the new Reeve & McIntyre book, which launched at this year's Edinburgh Book Festival!
Now, Philip Reeve and I might get taken more seriously by grown-ups as Proper Authors if we turned up for events wearing black turtlenecks, stroking our chins, and taking turns giving dour gazes into the middle distance. But that's been done before and isn't half as much fun.
Photo tweeted by writer Gwyneth Rees
Last year we came space-themed (photos here), and this year we started with a handy shirt my husband, Stuart, had bought years ago in a market in Moscow, and built up the costumes from there. We thought we'd avoid blue (too much like another Frozen) or red (I'm not Mrs Claus) and I love the yellow on our book cover, a look I'd borrowed from the Japanese edition of our earlier book Oliver and the Seawigs! I seldom think foreign publishers actually improve on our covers, but the Japanese totally did.
Here's our Pugs cover evolution. (And I just saw that our American publishers have gone public with a blue cover.)
Photo by Stuart
Of course books aren't ALL about cover colours and costume. But there are millions of books in the world and somehow we have to figure out how to make ours jump off the shelves. Besides, dressing up makes going on stage much easier somehow. It's like being in a play. This time the excellent Esther Marfo sewed my dress to my drawing of it. Here she is in her workshop:
And here's the icicle tiara I made, with plastic soda bottles, a comb, scissors, a candle and a glue gun.
You can learn how to do almost anything on the Internet. Here's a tutorial I adapted to make the tiara. It was a lot of fun to make, and not too tricky, after I'd messed up the first couple icicles.
And my Aunt Joy just happened to give me this dog-paw necklace on my recent trip to the USA, so thank you, Auntie! Selfie with Stuart in our Edinburgh hotel lift:
And yes, we did look a lot like traveling balalaika players. Which is GREAT, everyone loves a good long balalaika album, or two, or twenty-two. Our Oxford University Press designer, Jo Cameron, created this terrific album cover for us:
And Philip created a special edition of our standard anti-yeti spray. Very important to take along, when you're journeying to the Frozen North.
Ah, a chance to try it out in the Author Yurt, on one of Edinburgh's most famous yeti, Philip Ardagh!
Hmm... did it work?
Oh dear. Not only did it not work, but it seems to have caused that yeti to REPLICATE. ...Or wait, is that writer AF Harrold? It's hard to be sure.
Printed photo by festival photographer Chris Close
I was thrilled to bits that illustrator Steven Lenton came along to our event and took this Pugs-in-action photo. He's the first speaker in Nosy Crow's Illustrator Salon, hosting its first event in London on 14 Sept (with plans to feature non-Nosy Crow illustrators, too). Nosy Crow's Tom Bonnick set it up partly in response to the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to get illustrators credited for their work, and encourage people to take an interest in talking about a book's pictures and finding out more about who made them. You can book tickets to the Illustrator Salon here, and read more about the campaign at www.picturesmeanbusiness.com.
Philip and I can't imagine not bigging up both the writing AND the pictures in our book, and we love how kids get excited when they discover they can make a simple drawing and have it come out well. Here are some of the audience's pug drawings that we got to see when we met them afterward at the book signing.
You can learn how to KNIT your own pug over on my website here.
I love this girl's drawing of me, and Philip and me in our preferred way of arriving at book festivals.
After we finished our first event, Stuart, Philip and I popped over to Blackwell's Edinburgh to meet Fiona and sign some copies of our various books. (You might still find a few signed Pugs books there if you're quick.)
Thanks for the lovely write-up, Fiona! :)
Then it seemed appropriate to pay our respects to Edinburgh's own canine hero, Greyfriars Bobby. (You can read his story here.
But it wasn't all PUGS at Edinburgh, that was just the latest book! I also had a storming DINOSAUR POLICE event to do. Here was the view of Edinburgh Castle on the second morning, from the stairwell in our hotel.
I donned a vintage frock and yellow gloves I'd found last week in Seattle with my sister and met up with Dinosaur Dave, aka David Sanger from Scholastic UK. Dave made a great dinosaur, roaring, rampaging around the tent and falling asleep on the floor and snoring loudly, right in the middle of the stage. Thanks, Dave!
I wore my lucky Officer Brachio badge, stitched by Sami Teasdale.
And here are some T-Rex drawings!
In Dinosaur Police, Trevor the T-Rex escapes from the pizza factory with pizzas still stuck all over his body, so a lot of these dinosaurs had food stuck to them, too.
One of the coolest thing was seeing kids who were repeat visitors, either from previous years or from the previous day's Pugs event. Thanks for coming back, guys!
And I love it when everyone draws, not just the kids! Here's a fab T-Rex tweeted by writer Pamela Butchart. Big thanks to everyone who came along! You can learn how to draw your own T-Rex and more on my website right here.
My one big disappointment about this year's Edinburgh Book Festival was that my event was on at almost the exact same time as Philip Reeve's event with his co-author Kjartan Poskitt. They worked together years ago on the Murderous Maths books, and recently have been doing the Borgon the Axeboy books together, with Reeve illustrating and Poskitt writing. (Poskitt's name also appears as a god in the Mortal Engines books.)
Of course, I pestered them as much as I could before and after our events...
...But I saw this photo tweeted by their Faber publicist of Philip lying on the floor on stage, and was GUTTED I hadn't seen it myself.
When we were out and about with Stuart, we caught sight of the bus to Clovenstone, the name Philip borrowed for the land where he set his GOBLINS trilogy.
Go read the GOBLINS books, they're ace!
A few other sightings of writers and illustrators whose names you may recognise... here's writer Moira Young with Philip Ardagh:
And writer Patrick Gale, who hosted us at last year's North Cornwall book festival!
And here in the centre is the excellent person who runs the whole show, the children's book section of the festival, Janet Smyth! I got to meet all three generations! Here she is with her mum and daughter, who was also working for the festival. Huge thanks for making it so fabulous!
Oo, it's the always-super-photogenic comic creators, the Etherington Brothers! (Who are actual brothers and make comics together, which is the coolest thing ever.)
And Naomi Alderman, who writes the scripts for Zombies, Run!, among many other things.
With writer-illustrator Steve Anthony:
Comics creator Jamie Littler, who recently illustrated a book with writer Danny Wallace:
Liz Pichon's Tom Gates fingernails:
Writer Nicola Morgan has done loads of work for the Society of Authors CWIG committee (Children's Writers & Illustrators Group) and done research into why Author Visits to schools are such an important thing in getting kids excited about reading, writing and drawing, and advice on Author Visit fees.
Amazing double-act, illustrator Steven Lenton and Tracey Corderoy (and friends):
Illustrator Emma Dodd:
And I even got to catch up and draw with some of my Scottish relatives! Here's a picture I drew of Eve and Callum at dinner:
Stuart and I were so busy at this festival that we didn't get much time to wander about, but we did take a good walk along the Royal Mile and see all the other performers, which made me feel very normal in my own costume.
Excellent elephant puppet:
Big thanks to Janet Smyth, my Scholastic team Dave Sanger and Sophia Pemberton, our OUP team Elaine McQuade and Keo Baxendine, Joely Badger and all the staff and volunteers who made the festival run so smoothly.
And biggest thanks to lovely Stuart, who read through my Pugs script with me, listened to my ukulele practicing, helped me zip up costumes, helped carry luggage, and generally made the trip more pleasant. My hero! :)
I meant to draw a nice festival round-up picture on the train, but I was so shattered that this was all I managed:
If you missed our events in Edinburgh, we're gearing up for the PUGS ROADSHOW, so check on my Events page to see if we stop near you!
You can read Philip's Edinburgh blog here, and the Bookwitch has already blogged about our Pugs event here.