The latest news and events are shown at the top of the page.
I had a lovely time at Dingwall Primary in early June. They were winners in May’s competition for a free author visit, so I packed my Punch-suitcase and headed off. An infant and an upper school assembly with plenty of drama fun followed, and Dingwall Primary are now the proud owners of signed sets of Punch and Fir for Luck!
Crystal Kite Shortlisting
I could barely believe what I was seeing, but Punch has been shortlisted for the Crystal Kite Award, a peer-given prize by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. All members of the SCBWI in the UK and Ireland can now cast their vote for one of the final seven by 24th May. As you can see, I’m in excellent company!
Pairc School on Lewis
How lucky I was to be asked to Pairc School on Lewis, as part of the Scottish Book Trust Inspiring Classrooms funding. It was also the perfect chance to catch up with Anne Glennie, to see a bit of the island AND pay my first ever visit to Cranachan HQ, which was exciting. Oh yes, and Hebridean Huts is officially the nicest place I have ever stayed! Small but perfectly formed and with views to die for!
April was lovely, actually: a visit from my 81 year-old mother, a wedding for which I actually get the Cupid-credit (the Punch cover illustrator married the film guru who made my book trailers!), a research visit to Dumfries and Galloway, and a whole lot of writing and editing. There was also a school visit to Crown School, a couple of pieces for The Wee Review and my first foray into National Trust for Scotland events. All good then!
What a month it has been – I travelled all the way north to Kinlochbervie, and south to Hamilton, for author visits. Two more creative writing workshops for Groam House, as well a visit to Fortrose Academy (an assembly for 100 S2 pupils), a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators session, NessBookFest initiatives, not to mention a major show for the day job, teaching Drama, for which I adapted the script from a class novel! I feel I’ve barely come up for breath this March, but fab times were had! 🙂
World Book Day
I was approached by Turkish news channel TRTWorld for an interview about World Book Day! I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the email, but as it was all done via Skype, it was really fun, if a little surreal! Watch it HERE.
Aaaand… MY NEW BOOK WAS ANNOUNCED!
Visit to Tongue Primary for Rob Donn Workshop
What a lovely time I had with this great gang of young writers! There is serious talent and imagination in Tongue, and you heard it here first! The scenic drive up and the great company and welcome in Sutherland made for a very enjoyable day. Can’t wait to do it all over again in Kinlochbervie soon. Many thanks to Groam House Museum for organising the sessions, and to the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature programme for funding them!
Groam House Creative Writing Workshops
The Creative Writing workshops at the Black Isle Leisure Centre have reached the halfway point and we were looking at ways of hooking the reader, making him or her choose your story above any other. What better way to warm up than a ‘Book Blind Date’? Throw in a bit of original live music, coffee and waffles, and you have the recipe for a very successful and productive morning. Excellent effort from all!
Creative Writing Workshops on the Black Isle
I have begun teaching some creative writing workshops on behalf of Groam House Museum, in association with their ARCH Highland project, researching The Great War and its impact on the communities in Avoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie. We had some very interesting research to stimulate ideas, but the ten participants were free to create what they felt strongly about, with some inspiring and moving results. The remaining dates are 22nd February, 8th March and 15th March. Contact Groam House if you are interested in attending. Free. 🙂
An evening with the good folk at HighlandLIT, a school visit to Kirkhill, another to Luncarty – the diary has been full. A wonderful run of events, especially as Luncarty pupils are studying both Fir for Luck and Punch in class!
Book Week Scotland
A library, a youth club, a garden centre and a book shop! These were my venues this Book Week Scotland, and I have loved every second!
Punch Launch events in the Central Belt
What a lovely time I had in Glasgow at the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre, talking Punch with almost seventy kids from Kelvinside Primary School! They took a video of part of the show. Take a look if you like: https://twitter.com/KelvindalePS/status/926472151363878922 .
The day after, I was at Waterstones Edinburgh. I always mean to take a selfie, but this time I actually remembered! 🙂
I’m very grateful to everyone who came, especially all my pals from SCBWI South East Scotland!
Blog Tour and upcoming Punch launch events
• Blog Tour runs from 20th-28th October inclusive
• 26th Oct: School Launch, Crown School, Inverness
• 26th Oct: Launch at Waterstones Inverness (6pm)
• 3rd Nov: Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre Launch Event
• 4th Nov: Waterstones Edinburgh West End (2pm)
• 25th Nov: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Mass
Book Launch, Winchester
• 29th Nov: Schools/Public Event, Culloden Library for Book Week Scotland
• 30th Nov: ‘Nourishing Local Writers’ Showcase, Waterstones Inv.
• 2nd Dec: Fir Trees in Folklore & Fiction: Barbara Henderson reads
from her children’s novels Fir for Luck and Punch (which both
feature Fir trees) and explores the stories and legends around our
beloved Christmas trees. Simpson’s Garden Centre, Inverness.
Islay Book Festival
What a lovely time I had on Islay! Brilliant primary school audiences, a fab puppetry event, beautiful landscape and a friendly welcome!
Have a look here!
WEA Lunchtime Talks
On Wednesday I had the chance to chat to interested Inverness folks at a WEA lunchtime talk at the library. As you can see, it was a dreich day, but I had no trouble filling an hour talking about researching children’s fiction set in the Highlands!
Nairn Book and Arts Festival
Less than a month before the Nairn Festival Food Fair: 2nd of September. Never thought I’d do a cooking demonstration in the name of literature!! Feel free to come and laugh at me!
#PUNCH Book Trailer
The process has begun – I wrote a sort-of screenplay and last Friday, Ross, the man with the camera, came up from Glasgow to spend a day filming. It rained. Actually, no, it bucketed down for much of the morning! Thankfully, the afternoon was much better, so we managed to get what we needed (we think!).
Aviemore Primary School is SUCH a good place to visit! Scenic drive, enthusiastic and all-round-lovely kids and a committed and friendly bookseller who kept me company while I was there. Thank you very much, Kelly from Waterstones Aviemore! Both for all you work to organise the day, and for delivering the loveliest thank you cards afterwards.
XpoNorth 2017 has been a fantastic experience! I attended a really interesting session offered by the BBC Writers’ Room, gave my first proper screen interview and participated in a lovely Publishing Scotland panel on writing and publishing in the Highlands and Islands.
Great fun, lots of local and wider connections made, and now? Now I have to wait a whole year for the next one!
You can watch my interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL9HB0iDnSc
THE BIG REVEAL: 9th May 2017
Cranachan, my publishers for Fir for Luck, have gone public: they are going to publish my second novel, a Victorian boy-on the-run story called Punch, set against the backdrop of the Punch and Judy heyday, with travelling entertainers and dancing bears – and a wee Royal cameo, too! I am over the moon!
The announcement comes on the anniversary of the first Punch show recorded in the UK: The famous diarist Samuel Pepys (yes, he wrote pretty much all we know about the Great Fire of London!) made reference to ‘an Italian puppet play’ on 9th May 1662. A mere 355 years later today, it has been announced: Punch will be published in October 2017. All I have to do now is to finish this round of edits. Click on the link to my blog if you’d like to follow my journey to publication with this one: write4bairns .
What a week! (End April 2017)
This week has been mad – but great! First of all, there was a fun morning at the lovely Muirtown Primary School in Inverness, with a focus on music and culture during the Highland Clearances.
The day after, I got to travel all the way up to Bettyhill for a museum workshop at the epic Strathnaver Museum. It was a great day, filled with drama, music and Fir-for-Luck fun, as well as a fab museum-led activity on tea and toast, now and then. I want to go back!!!
Did you know my publishers, Cranachan, have updated their website? Lots of exciting developments. Take a look here if you like!A Book Festival Booking for September
The big news is that I’ll be appearing at Islay Book Festival in September. I am so excited! Read their announcement HERE.
I have been booked to appear at another book festival later in the year – so exciting! Unfortunately, I can’t share details yet – understandably, they want to reveal their own programme. Buzzing.
I’m also in discussions with several other schools and museums, so I’ll keep you posted.
The baking was a real success, and very enjoyable. The best bit was that the pupils genuinely seemed to like the beremeal bannocks, so I’ll definitely be doing this again. While they were in the oven (the bannocks, not the children!), we had a question and answer session about the publication process. The last question I took was from a lovely girl who asked: ‘When are you coming back to see us?’
So, my first visit to Tomnacross is over. Some Fir for Luck readings, lots of drama and a creative writing game involving the giant dice! Next week: baking, Highland Clearances style. Can’t wait! I’m sure there will be lots of messy pics to share!
World Book Day
I went to Dornoch Academy to work on creative writing and editing skills with S4, S5 and S6 classes – ahead of folio deadlines later in spring. It was great to meet everyone, and I especially loved the beautiful drive along the coast! Gorgeous part of the world! Here is what the Higher pupils had to say in their anonymous feedback. I was pretty happy with that!
I was also featured on a couple of book blogs in March: https://thrillerswithattitude.wordpress.com/ and https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/guest-writer-spot-61/ . Take a look!
#Bookface Flash-Competition Winners
Happy reading, and thanks to all the others who took part! The collage will appear as soon as I have turned it into something beautiful! 🙂
I visited Perthshire to spend a day with pupils at Luncarty Primary school earlier in the year. It was fantastic to see the Fir for Luck reach extend beyond Highland! And what wonderful classes – a really enjoyable day. One of my highlights was to have young Drew play a chanter solo for me – a very talented lad!
In November 2016, I appeared at NessBookFest in a packed children’s section at Inverness Library.
Also in November 2016, I flew to Winchester to take part in the annual SCBWI Conference (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I was able to take part in their Mass Book Launch, and Fir for Luck featured on the awesome celebration cake!
Finally, I got to travel to Skye for my very first Author #BookWeekScotland. Thank you, Skye Reading Room! I was privileged to meet wonderful writers at my writing-for-children workshop, had a lovely Reading Room event for my book and spent a day at Portree Primary School meeting classes who had done Highland Clearances projects.