Happy New Year everyone! Click here to read the latest from the blog of Philip Threadneedle. In this update, he talks about his latest book – the third in his series of space adventure stories – and a planned fourth instalment called Race to Planet Earth, which will conclude the riproaring adventure.
We’ve just realised that, due to an embarrassing admin error at Falcon Berger Towers, some copies of City of Meteors have been sold without the last minute corrections that were made during proof-reading.
The affected copies contain a small number of typos, and are missing a couple of last minute tweaks that the author wanted to make to the dialogue.
A surprising number of novels make it to press with errors (including books by big name authors!), but we’re obviously still annoyed with ourselves. Luckily, our books are print-on-demand titles, so it’s not like we printed hundreds of copies with the mistakes! City of Meteors is currently unavailable while we correct the errors and send new files to the printer.
If you want to check yours, have a look at page 161. Among other things, the affected copies have she goaned in annoyance rather than she groaned.
We strongly recommend you hold onto these copies, as they may be worth something one day!
Also, rest assured we will triple check book three in the series – which is called The Richest Man on Mars – before it goes to press later this year.
We’ve decided to bite the bullet. We’re taking the two Astronaut’s Apprentice books off the market for a short period, in order to re-release them with new and (we hope you’ll agree) improved covers. The turnaround is likely to be a couple of weeks.
For those who are interested, this is why. For starters, we do all our design work in house, and we think we’ve just improved a bit since 2010. When City of Meteors was being developed, we felt hamstrung by the fact that we had to match the established style of The Astronaut’s Apprentice. Part of the problem is, we wanted a different colour for each title, but suitable colours weren’t exactly jumping out at us. Because the elements (UFOs, asteroids, etc.) don’t have outlines – just a very light drop shadow – you have to find a shade that a) contrasts strongly enough with everything else, but b) is neutral enough not to clash horribly with anything, c) fits the muted theme of the series, and d) is actually a nice colour. It turns out that it’s surprisingly difficult to find colours like that, and the problem only got worse with The Richest Man on Mars. We got a provisional cover ready, but deep down we weren’t that happy with it.
The idea behind the original Astronaut’s Apprentice cover was to make it look like everything was a paper cutout (the end result didn’t quite match that vision, partly because we ended up with glossier stock than planned). We’ve decided to go for something completely different this time. So, without further ado – and bearing in mind that these might change when we see the proofs – here are the new covers for the series so far, including the forthcoming third book.
The original covers are still available to view down the left hand side of this blog. What do you think? Are these the big improvement we hope they are…?
I’m going to keep this short – it’s nearly bedtime after all – but today is a very exciting day. I’m pleased to announce that the first quarter of 2013 will see the publication of Milton Strange and the Astral Projector, by first time author “Merlin” Mackinnon, as a lush Falcon Berger paperback. This is a fast-paced (but incredibly detailed) fantasy novel, set at a magical research facility on the coast of England.
The following image shows what the cover will probably look like. As with our previous book covers and illustrations, it was made using the brilliant – and free – Inkscape software.
The premise is that our world is one of many that make up the Multiverse. Of the others, some are friendly and some are hostile, but all can be seen and even visited using a magical invention called the Astral Projector.
That isn’t our only plan for 2013. A brand new space adventure for Bradley and Grandpa – book three of this growing series by Philip Threadneedle – is expected in late February. It’s called The Richest Man on Mars, and we think it’s the best one yet.
Lastly, we’re going to be releasing Kindle editions of our existing catalogue, starting with The Trumblebuggins by Harry Ladd.
That’s all for tonight. Hope you’re enjoying 2013!
What a nice week it’s been! Despite the lousy weather, the UK was in a jubilant mood for the Diamond Jubilee, with Union Flags all over the place. My personal highlight was seeing Madness perform their best known song, “Our House”, on the roof of Buckingham Palace – which (thanks to an extraordinary light show) was transformed from a stately residence into a row of lively animated houses.
Even nicer than the Jubilee, however, was seeing our books in the children’s literature tent at the Wychwood festival, courtesy of our brilliant friends at Waterstones (thanks all). We’re getting pretty good at doing the promotional materials, as you can see from the following pics.
The Waterstones staff brought an enormous polystyrene “W” for all the authors to sign, and I’m delighted to say that the signatures of Harry Ladd and Philip Threadneedle are on there, mere inches from that of literary legend Philip Ardagh. I’m informed that the giant W is to be raffled for a good cause.
Harry also did a reading, which went down very well, and then got the children – who were very imaginative! – brainstorming ideas for a brand new story. Philip was taking notes throughout, and the resulting story – which will feature a two-headed alien (!) causing havoc at school – will be posted online for everyone to enjoy.
Well, that’s all for now. After an exciting week, it’s back to normal tomorrow. Boooo! Here’s hoping the rest of 2012 is as fun.
For the benefit of overseas readers, Waterstones is the major book vendor on the UK high street, with almost 300 shops across the country. As of yesterday, one of them is stocking and selling all three of our titles. Not only that, but instead of burying them on the shelves, they’ve got them out on display. They’re even hosting Philip Threadneedle and Harry Ladd for a “double header” signing on 12 May.
As a tiny imprint with only three titles, this is a pretty big deal for us. Admittedly, it’s a single Cotswold branch rather than the whole fleet, but it’s a foot in the door, and hopefully we can persuade other local branches to take us on in future. Here’s a shot of all three titles in a cardboard book stand:
One day, when we have a few more titles, we would like to “professionalise” our supply chain and market/distribute our books nationally like any other publisher. Until then, opportunities to partner with individual bookshops are extremely exciting. Watch this space for more news!
city of meteors, friends reunited, harry ladd, jill murphy, love hearts, nostalgia, philip threadneedle, refreshers bar, swizzels matlow, the astronaut's apprentice, the trumblebuggins, the worst witch
Now I know what you’re thinking. What do retro sweets and vintage social networking sites have to do with children’s books?
Well, not a lot. I haven’t said much about my publishing project lately, because I didn’t want to jinx the particular thing we have in the pipeline (but fingers crossed I’ll be able to announce it soon!). Having said which – if this is your first visit to the blog, may I take this opportunity to clumsily recommend our books? They are the The Astronaut’s Apprentice, by Philip Threadneedle, which follows a normal boy on an out-of-this-world adventure; City of Meteors, which continues the story; and a Dahl-esque romp called The Trumblebuggins, by anarchic author Harry Ladd.
Anyway. Since I’d gone quiet, I thought I might as well blog about something that’s been occupying my mind lately. I want to talk about nostalgia. Given my great love of children’s books, you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m into nostalgia!
Nostalgia is only sad when something is gone. I think it’s wonderful when you look up something iconic from your childhood, only to find that it’s still alive and well. A great example is the Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy, which began in 1974. Years can elapse between books, but the sixth one came out as recently as 2007, and the characters and illustrations are as delightful as ever. Imagine how pleased I was when I looked up the books as a young adult, fearing they would be out of print, and found some brand new stories to get stuck into.
Another example is how much I enjoyed finding the website for Swizzels Matlow, who made many of the iconic sweets of my childhood. Any thirty-something British schoolboy will know what I mean. Refresher Bars and Love Hearts… chewy Drum Stick lollies and Fruity Pops… “Double Dip” bags of orange and lemon sherbet, and a fizzy dipping stick to eat them with!
I say “made”, but of course, I was pleased to find the site because it turns out they’re still making them. I’ve since been to the sweetie aisle in my local supermarket, and had a nostalgic evening chomping my way through a variety bag of their products. Who says nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?
Now the big news in the world of nostalgia is the relaunch of Friends Reunited. Friends Reunited was a pioneering UK social network, launched long before Facebook with the aim of putting old schoolmates back in touch. At one point it was wildly successful – in the UK at least – but it was replaced by more famous juggernauts like MySpace, Bebo, and Facebook.
This month, they relaunched it. Rather than trying to compete with Facebook, they’ve reinvented themselves (in partnership with the British Library and others) as a nostalgia-themed site, with about half a million photos and videos. Users can connect with each other by uploading their own content, as well as “keeping” and commenting on stuff that’s already there. You can also “follow” other users (I’m not sure it’s called that) and private message them.
I’ll be very interested to see if it takes off. It’s funny that the internet is old enough for there to be “retro” web brands, but in the UK at least, Friends Reunited is the biggie. There seems to be a steady stream of people “keeping” things on the new site (175 people have “kept” Anglo Bubbly Gum so far), so hopefully they’ll strike up some conversations and start uploading/connecting around their own content.
Anyway. Looking at the books we’ve published so far, I think nostalgia – in a healthy, positive sense – connects everyone involved with the Falcon Berger project. Our current writers are very different, and I’d say that each writes with a modern funny style – but equally, each has a personal timeline of influences stretching deep into the Twentieth Century. Roald Dahl, The Little Prince, The Beano, Doctors Who and Dolittle, A Voyage to the Moon, and so on. Philip Threadneedle often talks about his own influences as a “space fantasist” in his blog, Books for Kids.
Well, that’s it for today. I suppose it ended up being semi-relevant after all! Hope you all enjoy the long weekend (if you’re having one) and get some good downtime with a book.