Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teapots on Pluto

Are there? Who knows? Scientists Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins caused a rumpus by comparing belief in God to the unprovable belief that there is a teapot orbiting Pluto. My story, A Teapot on Pluto, is not about God; it's about time travel (yes, my head is stuck in the future, but one of these days I'll get back to the here and now). The teapot has been tucked away in the back of my mind, gathering dust and waiting for its moment, and when I read about the big Atom-Smasher switch-on last month (see post below) I found it.

Read the story here or download it from Scottish Book Trust's excellent site. Check out the stories by other authors too.

I've put lots of hot links within the story, for a truly interactive read. So have fun - click away, and see what you find...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Well, I didn't expect that at all. I was up for the Catalyst Book Award along with double-Carnegie Medal winner Berlie Doherty whose books I love, and Cathy MacPhail who wins awards all the time (but you just can't hate her, she's great) and Tabitha Suzuma who is an exciting new writer on the YA book scene. I was shortlisted for ZENITH, which was never going to win against that lot, and also because it's a sequel, and sequels never win. So I was very relaxed. So relaxed, and so 110% certain that I wouldn't win, that I didn't see the point in preparing a winning speech - or in saying 'no' to a late, too-big glass of wine with last year's winner and this year's Master of Ceremony, Anthony McGowan...

That's how I came to be standing on the Catalyst stage with a headache and without a speech, apart from an astonished 'wow, thank you.' Thanks indeed to all the enthusiastic teenagers who read and debate the books and vote on the award, and to the teachers and librarians from about 30 schools who make the Catalyst Award such a fantastic event for all the writers involved. You are all really inspiring.

It was a thrill to win and so was seeing so many excited teenagers who were really into books. I was very moved by the connection so many teenagers made with ZENITH, and with the other shortlisted books. The Catalyst Award is a brilliant catalyst for making sparks fly between teenagers and books.

And it all very powerfully proved wrong an article I just read on Achuka.

Big thanks to Cara Murray, a trainee teacher who has been doing a fantastic project with children, based on my Ice Cream Machine books. I'm going to set up a page for schools with ideas and photos of activities from Cara's project and others.

Proof that two days are rarely the same in this job- I was asked to be a BAFTA Scotland judge for the children's TV award by the MD of SMG who made the Ice Cream Machine TV series, and had a great time wrangling with the other judges. Our chosen shortlist is announced tomorrow. My invitation to the Baftas says, intimidatingly, 'Black tie and glamour'. Oh, I'll try...

And for Jack (who gets a gold star for stumping me on a question at the Catalyst Schools events!): you asked how many people are at risk on the drowning islands of Kiribati in the South Seas (which originally gave me the idea for Exodus and Zenith) - it's 107, 817 people, Jack.