I'm that Curtis Jobling, writer and illustrator. You may know me as designer of "Bob the Builder" (sorry) and creator of "Raa Raa the Noisy Lion" and "Frankenstein's Cat". I'm also the author of the "Wereworld" series of fantasy horror novels and the darkly comic YA thriller "Haunt". Published by Puffin, Penguin US, Simon & Schuster and Egmont around the world.
"And for my next trick..." (Moreton High School, Wolverhampton)
Note the coloured pens - I was colouring in and everything! (Moreton High School, Wolverhampton))
Me, Benny Westwood, my stunt double and the Challenge Cup. Note the sad faced boy in front of me. Judging by his expression and the look of longing he's throwing the trophy I'm guessing he's a Widnes fan... (Waterstone's, Warrington)
This has nothing to do with the book tour whatsoever. This is what happens when Niel Bushnell lands at Casa Bling on New Years Eve with gorgeous family and lashings of fizzy beverages in tow. Please note that it's a torn cocktail sausage stuffed up my nostrils. No, I don't know why. Also, the tears are on account that, to my surprise, I discovered they were hot and spicy as opposed to plain!
Thursday was an early start down to Wolverhampton ("It's great down 'ere, innit?") Visited Moreton High in the morning and Deansfield High in the afternoon. Debbie Haynes chaperoned myself and Jayde from Puffin around for the day, representing Wolverhampton Childrens Book Group, a great organisation who do some terrific work bringing books to a wide audience. Thanks to Faye from Waterstone's for being present with her cashbox!
After Wolvo it was down to London where Jayde passed the Jobling baton over to Vanessa who handled the last leg. Spent the evening in Ipswich and visited Copleston High in the morning, speaking to an audience of 300. Then it was on the train north to local rivals Norwich, speaking at Catton Grove Primary to various primary schools. Thanks to Rob Welton and Tasha from Jarrold's for organising the event - another awesome independent bookseller.
The train journey home was memorable - 5 hours with no buffet car or trolley. Thank goodness I had the (admittedly rare) foresight to pick up a fat pasty and bottle of water from Norwich.
Highlight of Friday was a little girl asking me to write down my favourite line from Rise Of The Wolf alongside her dedication. Took me completely by surprise, excellent stuff!
Felt awful leaving home this morning, not at the prospect of talks and enthusing about Werewolves, but because I'd left dear Mrs Bling spinning all kinds of plates. The office ceiling sprang a leak last night from a burst pipe in the bathroom and the chaos that ensued was utterly miserable. Think we'll be moving the location of the office asap!
Met up with Shannon, my wunder-editor from Puffin, in Liverpool first thing and together we travelled the brief distance to Bebington to visit Wirral Grammar School for Boys. A great event run by the expert Tony from Pritchard Books in Formby and Julia, the school librarian. Kids were wonderful and just the right side of excited. Again, hairy man or wolfman went down a treat - really think there's a future in that quiz. Thanks to the staff and boys for making us so welcome, hope to be back there in the near future.
In the afternoon it was over to Manchester to the East Manchester Academy. Incredible modern venue with a theatre/hall to run the event from. Local primary school Yr 6's joined the senior Yr 7's for a fun event, expertly organised by my old chum Debra Conroy and her team from Manchester Library Services. Was nice to catch up with Debra and hear how amazed she was by my jump from picture books to novels! She's a big Wereworld fan - makes me chuffed to bits.
Tired and ready for another early night. Plumber left after sorting the leaky pipes earlier, an old schoolmate who has been a lifesaver. Recommendations are worth their weight in gold when it comes to tradesmen, and I can't give Penketh Plumbing a bigger thumbs-up! Cheers Rob!
Spent the day in deepest, darkest Lancashire today, being buzzed around by the awesome ladies from Silverdell Books in Kirkham, possibly the greatest independent bookstore I've ever seen. They were Indie Bookstore of the year in 2010, and for good reason too. Elaine and Sue were great chaperones for both events, really looking after myself and Jayde from Puffin in between shovelling ice cream down my neck. I won't forget today in a long while!
First up was a trip to Our Lady's Catholic High School in Preston, coincidentally Nick Park's old school. Top turnout and a queue of kids circling the assembly hall as they snaffled their copies of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf. Also got to see an awesome little animation that one of the budding filmmaker/students had produced featuring his lego Batman. Inspired, and only hope that young man can go on to bigger and better things. Thanks to Lisa for helping to arrange the event so brilliantly with Silverdell.
In the afternoon we visited Stonyhurst School near Clitheroe, which was quite breathtaking. Made Hogwarts look like Grange Hill. Mrs Robinson, the school's head of English, had got the kids really fired up - a chorus of Bob The Builder greeting my fat ears upon arrival. A group of younger pupils, aged 7, entered the hall midway through my reading from Wereworld, quickly about-turning when they realised it was too scary and horrific for them. Sorry! Thanks to all the boys and girls who attended the event.
Home again now, pooped again now, and getting ready for an early night. The Wirral and Manchester await me tomorrow, plus the chance to catch up with my groovy editor from Puffin, Shannon...
I'm hoping to be able to post an update each evening this week after my adventures on the book tour conclude each day, but it's wishful thinking the way I feel currently. Thoroughly pooped after a hectic day. We started off the tour at St Anne's RC High School in Stockport, my guinea pigs for a new talk. Covered the animation work in the beginning before moving on to a "Hairy Man or Wolfman" pop quiz which went down a treat. Ended on a reading of Part One, Chapter Three from Rise Of The Wolf: "The Visitor." Signed a bunch of books, the staff and pupils were lovely and then it was back to Warrington.
The afternoon was spent at my childhood school, Penketh High, and I was convinced the kids had been prompted to cheer wildly upon my entrance, only to be told it was impromptu and unexpected. Returning as I was as the conquering hero, the rest of the talk went terrific. Very sparky and engaged, with some great questions from the kids although too many centering around my apparent love of JLS...
The evening involved a trip to Waterstone's in Warrington where we held an open public signing session, including a bit of doodling followed by the reading. The kids were younger here, mainly primary school level - just hope I haven't given any of them nightmares. Was also delighted to see Warrington Wolves present, including Wolfie, the Challenge Cup, Ben Westwood and Ben Harrison. Top chaps all of them and many thanks for turning up. Cheers to chums Pip, Sarah, Danny and their kids for turning up, as well as all the children who came tonight outside of school and before bed!
Great news yesterday, when Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf was named on the shortlist for the 2011 Waterstone's Book Prize. The ceremony will be in a month's time at the flagship store in London Picadilly, so looking forward to a jaunt to the capital at the beginning of February. I know it sounds corny but it really is the taking part that matters - I'm tremendously flattered that the book has been chosen on the shortlist and simply being involved is a huge buzz.
Popped into Waterstone's in the Trafford Centre yesterday as Mrs Bling and I were having lunch over there and couldn't resist popping in to see them on display. I possibly speak on behalf of all the nominees when I say it makes such a difference seeing your novel on a stand-alone display, front-of-store. Hopefully the interest in the books sees them all go on to be big successes.
Just to clarify, by the way, no, I know, I'm not an animator as quoted in most of the news articles - its a job in animation that I only briefly flirted with at art college many full moons ago - I don't think I'd have the patience to actually animate, let alone the skill. It's the designing of Bob that I have to hold my hand up and accept responsibility for.
Speaking of which, I'm off down to Birmingham this Thursday to talk to the Animation Forum West Midlands about my work in animation as both a designer and creator of content, concentrating specifically on being a freelancer in a competitive creative industry. I'll be doing a little retrospective of my own work as well as highlighting the things one has to do to not only get a foothold in the industry but also to climb the ladder.
Lastly, once the excitement of next week's Wereworld Book Tour (details here) I'll be looking forward to Animex International Festival of Animation at the beginning of February. Ordinarily I'd be doing a workshop on the Wednesday but as this clashes with the Waterstone's Book Prize bash I won't be able to run one. I shall, however, be present from the Thursday and will be appearing on any panels Festival Director Chris Williams wants me on. Get along, it's a fantastic affair!
Well, it's out there. My wolf has left the cave and entered the wider forest. "Rise of the Wolf" was officially released yesterday into the wild and is now snaffleable by anyone who wants it. You can find it at any good bookseller on the high street or online so do let me know how you get on with it.
Yesterday was a splendidly surreal day, starting with champagne breakfast. Three glasses of bubbly in my tummy and I had to take my girls to school. We got there in the end, although I don't think they appreciated me stumbling through bushes and hedgerows and turning up at the school gates with nests in their hair. By 9:30 I was fit for no purpose and quietly sat down at the kitchen table to regather my thoughts and coordination. I was in fine fettle by the afternoon and Mrs Bling and I spent the evening having a splendid meal at TOM @ 101 in Stockton Heath, ending in a chocolate orange creme brulee which was indecently marvellous.
Thick head is subsiding this morning as I get back to work.
You can also get WEREWORLD on Kindle too - thanks to Chris Taylor-Davies @CTD on Twitter for sending me this piccy of his "first edition!" Its the Dark Arts to me, all smoke and mirrors!
Currently preparing for the book tour, as mentioned in my previous post, where I'll be making whistlestop visits to schools and libraries across England in the middle of January. If you're interested in contacting me regarding availability to come to your school, college or festival please do get in touch either on here or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm sure we can sort something out - talks usually cover my work in animation as well as publishing.
Right, enough jollity - back to work for me. This is the first Christmas period I've taken off for years and, wonderful as its been, I'm itching to get writing again.