Monday, November 03, 2014

Fright in the Museum

This blog post was originally written for my local paper's Halloween edition, but I thought I'd share it here as well. Cheers to photographer Dave Gillespie for letting me share some of his photos, You'll spy some of them are mine. No prizes for differentiating one from the other.....


I've never made a secret about the fact that my love of roleplaying games, books and film inspired me to become a writer, but a huge influence on my formative years was always right on my doorstep. Growing up in the 80's in Warrington, weekend trips to town usually involved regular haunts, all now long gone; G&I Models for lead Citadel Miniatures to paint, Our Price for the latest vinyl, and the dearly departed Bookland on Cairo Street. All roads ultimately, though, lead to Museum Street.

 (Gibbet - the last person to be hung in one in Britain? Only a Mr William Jobling. There are folk songs written about the poor fellow. Check out his story here)

The fact that the museum and library were adjoining meant there was a two-bird-one-stone shenanigan going on. Reading has always been the purest form of escapism for me, more so than any film. I didn't need to see Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies to know what a hobbit looked like. I'd visited the Shire as a nine year old schoolboy via the books. In the library I could make a nuisance of myself, pestering the brow-beaten librarians into ordering obscure, fantastic and frankly inappropriate works of horror fiction before hopping next door for the real deal. The museum was where the genuine frights were to be found.

(Egyptian child's mummy)

My memory isn't what it once was, and perhaps the more ghoulish artefacts I found on display have taken on mythical proportions in my mind, but I found a world of wondrous chills and thrills in Warrington Museum as a boy. The more macabre the exhibit, the better. Skulls and skeletons, of all shapes and sizes from all manner of beasts, were a must-see. As were the insect rooms with a freakish selection of giant bugs that made my skin crawl. I distinctly recall the mummified infant, its ancient sarcophagus replaced by one of glass. And of course the two human heads -one a shrunken Amazonian, the other a tattooed Maori - the latter recently, thankfully, repatriated. All of this, at my fingertips.
(Amazonian shrunken head)

That I've gone on to write fantasy and horror novels such as Wereworld came as no surprise to friends and family. Haunt: Dead Scared is based upon my life growing up in Warrington (the sequel, Dead Wrong, will be out next year). Indeed, in my next two novels, for two separate publishers, museums play a major part within the stories. World of Warriors is a new game from Mind Candy (the guys behind Moshi Monsters) and I'll be writing a series of books set within that universe - the first book opens in the British Museum. I also have Max Helsing: Monster Hunter coming out in the States, featuring a museum of anthropology directly inspired by Warrington's own house of history.

I occasionally get asked: "Are your books too scary for children?" My answer is no. But they are scary. Fear is an emotion that affects us all, and what better way for a child to experience it than through a book? Books don't chase us down the street. Books don't make us jump out of our skin. If a book is scary, close it. Crikey, if it's really scary, throw it in the chest freezer in the garage. A little fright now and again can be a healthy jolt to anyone's heart, especially via the pages of an engaging, entertaining book. Or even through the dark, foreboding doors of your local museum.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Welcome to the WORLD OF WARRIORS. I'll be your guide...

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that I'm donning chainmail, strapping on gauntlets, hefting a shield and picking up something pointy - I shall be authoring a series of exciting middle grade adventure novels set within the WORLD OF WARRIORS, the new game from Mind Candy, creators of Moshi Monsters. These are going to be wholly original works, featuring characters from the game as well as those of my own creation. Unlike other books-based-upon-games (or films) I'm telling my own tales here, with complete creative freedom, so there's an entire fantasy world at my fingertips, ready to explore.

Lovers of WEREWORLD should love WORLD OF WARRIORS too, as it'll feature many of the thrilling, battling and dramatic elements that have made that series so popular. There'll be fantasy in bucket loads, and if the helm fits, horror at times too. Expect warriors from throughout human history, spanning time, continents and cultures, to put in an appearance. You can check out the fabulous WORLD OF WARRIORS website here, complete with a peak at the game footage.

As a child I was fascinated by warriors throughout history and roleplaying games, and without a doubt those two themes are married perfectly together with this game. I got to try the game out the other day, thanks to the good folk from Mind Candy HQ, and I have to say in hindsight that was a questionable idea. It's so flipping addictive! I know if I'd played WORLD OF WARRIORS as a 10 year old it would have blown my tiny mind. As a 42 year old it's had a similar effect. Well done chaps. I'm now faced with the challenge of writing the books with the distraction of playing the game looming large at my shoulder like a hulking, brutish barbarian.

The full press release is below.

Yours from the Wildlands


Penguin acquires publishing rights in WORLD OF WARRIORS,
a brand new game from Mind Candy, the creators of Moshi Monsters

London, 8 October 2014 … Penguin today announced acquisition of publishing rights in the brand new battle strategy game from the creators of Moshi Monsters, WORLD OF WARRIORS. Richard Haines, Acquisitions and New Business Manager Penguin Children's, has acquired global rights, all languages from Mind Candy.

WORLD OF WARRIORS is a brand new game from Mind Candy that will launch this year in six languages on iOS and Android. The mobile game will see players battling it out to bring peace to the vast Wildlands by defeating a power-crazed warlord and his evil Skull Army. Ninja vs Aztec, Knight vs Viking, Roman vs Samurai, the game features a whole host of historical characters all with incredible back-stories.

Publishing under the Puffin imprint, there will be a multi-layered publishing strategy for WORLD OF WARRIORS, launching with the Official Guide and Official Sticker books in June 2015. Puffin will also publish a third strand of author-led fiction written by Curtis Jobling, the designer of worldwide hit children's television show Bob the Builder, and the author/illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Puffin’s Wereworld series. Jobling’s middle-grade novels will be action-adventure stories based within the WORLD OF WARRIORS realm, expanding on details in the game as well as introducing unique characters.

Richard Haines, Acquisitions and New Business Manager, Penguin Children's said, ‘WORLD OF WARRIORS is an incredibly exciting and ground breaking new brand from Mind Candy that offers us fantastic creative opportunities. We will be able to further develop the game world and expand the experience alongside gruesome facts and true stories from history. On top of this, Curtis Jobling’s new fiction series based within the world, which will help make the WORLD OF WARRIORS publishing a global success'

Darran Garnham, Chief Commercial Officer, Mind Candy said, ‘We are extremely excited to partner once again with Penguin after achieving such huge success with them through the Moshi Monsters franchise. Through this partnership we hope to ensure the global success of the World of Warriors franchise across its many touch points. In terms of publishing, WORLD OF WARRIORS’ eclectic mix of characters and stories lend themselves to both fiction and non-fiction and we can't wait to see both.’

Curtis Jobling says: ‘I'm thrilled to be the authorial voice of this epic saga, getting a chance to explore the World of Warriors through a series of exciting, original novels. I couldn't resist the opportunity to write these combative characters that span history and cross cultures. Each tale will feature a desperate, diverse and deadly gang of battling warriors as they embark upon an incredible quest – the biggest challenge will be getting them to work together and not bash lumps out of one another!’

For further information please contact Adele Minchin,  Publicity Director
T: 020 7010 3304 or E:

Notes to editors:

About Penguin Children’s

Penguin Children’s won Children’s Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards for 2011. It comprises the following imprints: Puffin, Ladybird and Warne.  Famous for its classic fiction and beautiful picture books, Penguin Children’s Group started out as a non-fiction publisher with its first title appearing in 1940. Today it publishes a wide range of fiction, picture books and children’s classics and some of the world’s favourite authors including Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Rick Riordan, Cathy Cassidy and Eoin Colfer and popular character brands such as Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit and The Snowman. It has also paved the way in publishing tie-in books behind interactive brands like Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Skylanders and Angry Birds. Penguin have also become experts in the field of publishing YA literature which connects with both teenage and adult readers, including The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

About Mind Candy

Mind Candy is the online games developer and entertainment company behind the hit global children’s brand Moshi Monsters. The company was founded in 2004 by Michael Acton Smith, a UK-based entrepreneur who previously founded For further information visit

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Testimonials? You want testimonials? We got testimonials...

I'm frequently asked for testimonials for my school events, but I never have them handy. NOW I DO! Take a look at the smattering below. And if you're in cruel mood, you can read the previous blogpost which covers an amusing collection of comments from students as opposed to teachers, librarians and festival directors!

"Curtis was one of the most popular authors at the 2012 Manchester Children’s Book Festival and has, to our delight, agreed to join us again this year to help launch our Festival Reading and Writing Relay with an event at Central Library. His talks are always both inspiring and entertaining and, even more importantly, he is a joy to work with."
Kaye Tew
Festival Manager, Manchester Children's Book Festival
"Curtis was a huge hit when he visited our school. He spoke to nearly 400 students in the Main Hall and successfully kept them all entertained and engaged for a whole hour and a half – no mean feat! His talk was delivered in a humorous but appropriate manner. He spoke with such enthusiasm and conviction about not wasting your creative talents that students couldn’t help but be inspired.
Curtis started by talking about his experience of working in the animation business and impressed the boys with his art work, before moving on to his writing career. The finale of the event, “Hairy Man or Wolfman” was a brilliant interactive quiz that the boys just loved.
Teaching staff and students alike really enjoyed the talk, so much so that they were still talking about it days after the event. In fact he was so good we got him back again!"
Janet Clarke
Librarian, Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, 21st March 2014
"A visit from Curtis is always one of the most entertaining author events I've ever been to. Not only is he a brilliant author and illustrator but the combination of the two elements in his talks has the whole audience, adults and children alike, totally enthralled from start to finish. His wit and humour and interaction with his audience guarantee no session is exactly the same. As well as all this he is a great bloke, no prima donna author, making a day with him more than easy for any school or library, I would heartedly recommend him."
Debra Conroy
Children's Library Services, Manchester City Council
"Curtis has visited us on a couple of occasions and his workshops are always memorable and exciting! Last time he took us on a whirlwind tour of his experiences as an illustrator and as an author – all of which served to inspire and motivate the children – they loved it so much they were talking about the workshop and his books for weeks afterwards!
Most importantly for us, as teachers, Curtis’s messages to the children, regarding reading and writing, fully supports our teaching and has inspired the children to apply the skills they’ve learnt, from his workshop, to their own work."
Mary Peters
Deputy Head, Westbrook Old Hall Primary School, Warrington
“Curtis has now visited our school twice. We were so enthralled by his first visit that we had to invite him back again this year as part of our World Book Day celebrations. Students (and staff) were captivated hearing him talk about his work as an Author and Illustrator and about his love of Animation. His wealth of experience and ease of manner has made him very popular with our students. We found his talks hugely entertaining and many students returned at lunchtime to chat with him and have their books signed.
I have organised several Author visits to our school but none have engaged the students in the same way that Curtis has. So much so, there was real excitement from the previous year’s cohort when they knew he was visiting us again.“
Helen Bayliffe
Library Resource Manager, Sir Graham Balfour High School, Stafford

Monday, March 31, 2014

Author visit testimonials, straight from the horses' mouths!

If you're ever considering having me visit your school to hold storytelling, animation and creative writing workshops, please refer to the following comments that I was recently from a fabulous librarian. The students filled in feedback forms which were handed back to staff, and this is a selection of their comments. Suffice to say I've been weeping, but they're tears of laughter. Is there a better testimonial than the below? If so, I haven't found it....

‘Curtis Jobling seems like quite a talented person and made a good impression’

‘I think how he described his animation and shows was very interesting, and is probably something that I want to try later in life.’

‘His books are really interesting if you are into that sort of thing.’

‘The presentation / assembly could be classified as boring but it had its’ moments, like when he showed short clips of a cow that wanted to kill herself.’

‘Curtis is a quite short, with a waistcoat and short sleeved shirt, he also has sideburns which are very long and dark trousers on.  He had a small nose and a Pork Pie hat and he as a faded beard.’

‘He was very funny and wasn’t boring as he kept you on your toes when he changed the tone of his voice.  This is definitely a book I would like to read.’

‘I think it was really fun for a workshop’

‘I believe that the workshop was more interesting than the talk because it was a bit more up close and personal.’

‘Overall, I enjoyed his visit and would like him to come again if possible’

‘Overall it was a fun day and was very nice.  My favourite part of the day was watching the cow clips.

‘It was lovely to meet a famous  author and producer and I  hope I can meet him again. He has inspired me a lot in writing.’

‘Curtis Jobling  is an author/ illustrator/animator who came into our school to not only persuade us to purchase one of his books, but also to inspire us to write and animate ourselves.’

‘He explained how he made the animations and we also watched the Nickolodeon adverts which everyone found hysterical, despite the fact that in truth they were really quite disturbing.’

‘His books seemed quite interesting and descriptive for the people that are into that stuff.’

‘It was brilliant and I really enjoyed it.’

‘His book was good, I know because he read a bit to us and it was very interesting.’

‘He had sideburns and a loud voice, which travelled round the room.’

‘His jokes were quite funny and when he did the assembly it was quite interactive, which was good.’