Saturday, 11 February 2012

Kyle's Drawing from CLASH

Okay, Kyle is fictional, so no, this isn't really his drawing, but it is the image that inspired a certain scene.



In Clash, Kyle is at a loss what to do when his mother is in the maternity ward and her baby (Kyle's brother) is in an incubator in Special Care. He ends up doing a drawing so his mother can have an image of her baby by her bed - all because the other mothers in the ward have their actual babies in cots by their beds.

This scene was taken from real life.

When my wife had our first boy, he was in an incubator in the Special Care Baby Unit, and she was up in a ward where other mothers had their babies in cots - a bit cruel, but there you go. A decent ward might have put her in a side room.

For some reason I thought you weren't allowed to use cameras in the special care unit (there were some very premature babies in there under special lighting). So I nipped home, grabbed a drawing pad, pencils and set to work. I went back up to the ward and pinned the picture to the wall.

However, there is a spooky side to this story. When we lived in Washington, loads of strange things happened when Matthew came home. His mobile would spin on its own, the cat would go nuts for no reason... there were other weird things too, but the strangest was the morning when this drawing (in its frame) fell off the wall for no reason. This happened at 6am while we were still in bed. The bang woke us up, and I came downstairs to find the frame behind the TV. Rather than refix it there and then, I put in on the bookcase and went back to bed...

...That evening, we had a flood and every picture that was still hanging in our front room was ruined as water streamed down the walls.

Whoooooooooooo.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Rock Music, Stage Diving and a Fire Crew - It's the Clash Launch Party

Thursday 3rd March was one of the craziest nights of my life. Rather than launch the book in a shop or library, I booked a theatre and got local teen rock band, Hell's Marauders, to play.

There were a few surprises during the night. The first was the cake Paula had made, with the full clash cover printed on the icing. The second was the fire engine in the car park.The third was being dragged up on stage to sing Anarchy in the UK with the band.

I think I might be the first author to do a stage dive at a launch party.

The fire crew were there thanks to Nev. Nev gave me some help on a few technical details in the novel. He was on call on Thursday night but wanted to come along, so he turned up in a fire engine with the whole crew.

Catnip editor Non Pratt got up to do a truly wonderful introduction, then I jumped up, grabbed the mike and screamed out, "HELLO FATFIELD!" - proper rockstar style!

I calmed down enough to do a short talk about YA fiction and a reading of chapter one. The band played punk and metal tracks while I signed books. When the books sold out, the band (Cai, Lewis, Mich & Simon) came over to tell me their suprise idea of getting me up to sing a Sex Pistols track with them - a childhood dream come true!


Many thanks to everyone who turned up: workmates, friends and family - some I haven't seen for years. All in all, the launch night of legend.

CLASH

has landed!


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Review: Revolver

Revolverby Marcus Sedgewick

The year is 1910. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson sits in a cabin in the Arctic Circle. Next to him lies the frozen corpse of his father. His sister and step-mother have gone for help, leaving Sig alone… until there’s a knock at the door.

The visitor calls himself Wolff. He’s big, imposing, terrifying, and by his side is the butt of a revolver. He claims he has unfinished business, and bit by bit we get a picture of what his relationship with Sig’s father was, and how he really died.

But Wolff isn’t the only one with a gun. Sig knows that in the storeroom, in a box on a shelf, there is another. As Wolff’s demands for justice intensify, Sig can’t think of anything else but his father’s gun and whether or not he can get it in time.

Revolver is an intensely gripping, claustrophobic thriller. It’s a short, uncluttered novel, making the pages fly by, but the story is deep enough to stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

One thing I hate in novels is the feeling that I’m being spoon-fed internet research, that the writer is just regurgitating stuff he’s read elsewhere. This doesn’t happen in Revolver. The setting of the novel, the crushing cold of the world outside and isolation are given with minimal, but perfect details, making the world completely believable. I was very interested to read the author’s notes, that he actually went to Northern Sweden to feel the cold for himself as well as learning how to handle and fire a Colt revolver. These real life experiences pepper the novel with a genuine authority that really brings the scenes, the mood and the terror to life.

All in all, one of the best YA novels I’ve read.



The year is 1910. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson sits in a cabin in the Arctic Circle. Next to him lies the frozen corpse of his father. His sister and step-mother have gone for help, leaving Sig alone… until there’s a knock at the door.


The visitor calls himself Wolff. He’s big and cold and terrifying, and by his side is the butt of a revolver. He claims he has unfinished business, and bit by bit we get a picture of what his relationship with Sig’s father was, and how he really died. But Wolff isn’t the only one with a gun. Sig knows that in the storeroom, in a box on a shelf, there is another. As Wolff’s demands for justice intensify, Sig can’t think of anything else but his father’s gun

and whether or not he can get it in time.


Revolver is an intensely gripping, claustrophobic thriller. It’s a short, uncluttered novel, making the pages fly by, but the story is deep enough to stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.


One thing I hate in novels is the feeling that I’m being spoon-fed internet research, that the writer is just regurgitating stuff he’s read elsewhere. This doesn’t happen in Revolver. The setting of the novel, the crushing cold of the world outside and isolation are given with minimal, but perfect details, making the world completely believable. I was very interested to read the author’s notes, that he actually went to Northern Sweden to feel the cold for himself as well as learning how to handle and fire a Colt revolver. These real life experiences pepper the novel with a genuine authority that really bring the scenes, the mood and the terror to life.


All in all, one of the best YA novels I’ve read.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Getting Soaked at Alnwick Gardens

Wake up, make sarnies, grab crisps, pop, kids and go...

It was fantastic weather up at Alnwick Gardens today. This time, we had the forethought to take a change of clothes for the kids and a towel. This is because there is a fabulous water feature there. It's a huge column that gradually fills with water. When the water reaches the top, a valve opens and water jets shoot up around it.

So yeah, the kids were okay - they had a change of clothes. But Matthew got so excited that we couldn't leave him out - and that meant someone would have to stand in there with him. Me.





But Matthew loved it, so I didn't mind walking around for the next three hours with a damp arse. The gardens are so fantastic that it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I must have been taken with it because I've agree to go to a garden centre tomorrow. Fancy doing something creative. Maybe a bamboo maze like this...


Maybe I'll just buy a pot-plant.

Colin Mulhern

Friday, 28 May 2010

Review: The Knife That Killed Me

The Knife That Killed Meby Anthony McGowan

It was clear in Chapter Two where this novel was going, but I think that was intentional. It’s a bit like a crime novel where you’re presented with a corpse, so you know someone was murdered, but you climb aboard to find out why; you know the outcome, but you want to know the how and why. This is like that. You buy into the ride.
And it’s a pretty damn good ride.

Unfortunately, like the best rides, it’s over just a little too quick, but it leaves you wanting more. There is an incredibly fresh feeling to the writing that makes the voice of Paul come across as genuine, and a similar underbelly of black humour to Henry Tumour.

The other characters are great and Anthony McGowan has pushed the boundaries in order to make his baddy, Roth, something more than a cardboard bully. How he does this... well, that’s for the reader to find out. It certainly made me sit up and think, ‘Oh, he’s never going to go that far!’ Brilliant.

As for Shane – the mysterious, cool, confident leader of the nerdy goth/freaks (his words, not mine!). I felt a bit short changed. I wanted to read more, especially when hit with a scene of Shane self harming. That was enough to crack the too-good-to-be-true image that Paul had built up, giving him a shadow that I really wanted to explore. But, maybe a sprinkling of pepper is better than a coat.

Overall, good, strong teen fiction. A little too short, but still worth 5 stars.



Colin Mulhern

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Review: Under The Dome

Under The DomeBy Stephen King

Three hundred and thirty six thousand words.

That really needs it's own paragraph. This is one monster of a book, and a great story. I've been up, night after night, until the hours are late and my eyes are dry, glued to every page.

In brief, this is the story of a small town cut off from the outside world by an inpenetratable force field they come to call The Dome. No one can get in to help; no one can get out to escape. For one man, that isn't such a bad thing. As he tries to take dictorial control over the town, the body count mounts.

There is something about this book that feels like it was written in the eighties alongside The Stand and IT. On the downside, the characters aren't as well drawn as the kids in IT, and the story isn't as impressive as The Stand. It also feels way too long. There are a lot of sections that could be trimmed or cut, and having finished it, the story that stays with me doesn't reflect the size of the book.

The other thing that got me was the mystery aspect: what the dome actually is and why it's there. It felt like Series One of Lost when they find the hatch. In fact, there's a reference to Lost in the book, so maybe King's a fan.

I'm not giving any spoilers away, but at first, when I discovered what the dome was, I was hit by disappointment. However, once I realised the point the author was getting at, it all made sense and gave for a very satisfying conclusion.

Overall, a great story. Was it too long? I don't know. Some sections felt like waffle, and it was good to reach the end, but it was also sad that it was over. I'd have happily continued reading for another 300 pages.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bloody Mary

I was hit with a real sense of nostalgia today when a few of the boys in Year 5 (9-10 year olds) told me of their fab new game.

‘It’s called Bloody Mary,’ one boy said. ‘We do it in the toilets. You stand in front of the mirror, then turn three times and say “Bloody Mary,” for each turn. If you do it right, you see Bloody Mary in the mirror and get scratches right down your back.’

‘Have any of you done it?’

One replied, ‘Yeah! I did.’

‘Did it work?’

He checked his mates’ faces before answering. ‘Not yet.’

The reason for my nostalgia was twofold. When I was at school we had a game just like this. We told each other that if we said the Lord’s Prayer backwards, while looking in a mirror, we’d see the face of the devil. It was a kind of a rite of passage. Most of us of were too scared to do it. Those who did... well, we never knew whether to believe what they said they saw, but the plain fact that they had done it made them somehow different. Not just a little bit braver, but wiser. They’d gone through something and come out the other side. And it felt like they had the upper hand.

Twenty six years later, I wrote that all down. That seed of an idea, the idea that boys need to face their own fears to gain maturity, grew into my very first novel: CLASH.

So if people ever ask where ideas come from, in my case, it’s the daft things I did - or was too scared to do - as a kid.

Colin Mulhern