Riot shortlisted for Peter’s Book Awards and Redbridge Children’s Book Award

So chuffed to hear that I Predict a Riot has been shortlisted for the Peter’s Book of the Year 2015. The shortlists have been compiled by a team of librarians. Across the three categories, Picture Books, Junior Fiction and Teen Fiction, the shortlist include the librarians’ favourite children’s and YA publishing of the last 12 months.

They will be announcing a winner from each category in March 2015, but they need your votes! They are encouraging nurseries, schools and libraries to get involved by shadowing the awards over spring term 2015, with the help of teaching resources, posters, bookmarks and certificates available here

So do get involved!

I’ve also been longlisted for the Redbridge Children’s Book Award

Here’s how it works

•Autumn term – schools and libraries sign up to the award
•November – school librarians, library staff and children select 20 children’s titles and 20 teen titles to read published in the current year that aren’t sequels. These are sent to participating schools and library reading groups
•March – groups send in a list of their top 8 children’s and 8 teen books eurovision song contest style and the shortlist is announced
•End of May – Final voting on the shortlist. Winners and runners-up invited to the ceremony
•First Thursday in July – Awards Ceremony.
– See more at:

Very exciting and I’m honoured to be on such a great list with some incredible authors!

Participating Children, teachers and librarians can vote for their favourites, either online, or by downloading voting forms from the resources link above. Voting closes on the 20th March, with the winners announced on the 23rd March.

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At Cheltenham Lit Fest with Benjamin Zephaniah and Alan Gibbons October 11th

I’m thrilled (and a little frightened) to be appearing at Cheltenham Literature Festival alongside two incredible teen writers, talking riots, terrorism and hate crime. Here’s the blurb and a link in case you are interested: Three outstanding teen fiction writers take a timely look at terrorism, prejudice and how the choices we make shape our lives. Benjamin Zephaniah, a distinctive voice on social and political issues, presents his new novel Terror Kid, Alan Gibbons’ novel Hate explores the ‘crime’ of being different and Catherine Bruton examines the 2011 UK riots in her novel I Predict a Riot.

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The Telegraph call Riot ‘powerful and thought provoking’

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Riot in The Guardian Best New Books Summer 2014

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Day 1 of my blog tour

Here’s me talking about teaching and writing on Day 1 of the ‘I Predict a Riot’ blog tour over on Teen Librarian’s fab site

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I Predict a Riot Hits the Shelves

I love publication day! The sun is shining, copies of I Predict a Riot adorn the shelves of the bookshops of Bath and lots of super lovely reviews are pouring in! Yes, today I have a big smile on my face.

Happy Book Birthday, I Predict a Riot

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Countdown to Publication Day

Five days to I Predict a Riot’s book birthday! Yes, my latest YA novel hits the shelves till this Thursday, 5th June and to mark all the fives, here are five things you might want to know about I Predict a Riot (but never dared to ask!)

1. I Predict a Riot is the hard-hitting, hilarious and heart-breaking tale of three kids from very different backgrounds who set out to make a movie and end up involved in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever.

2. Inspired by the 2011 UK riots, the book is based on the stories of many amazing kids I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years: teenage gang members from South London; street kids in South Africa; as well as the children of politicians and pop stars. Their stories, their voices and their characters inspired what I wrote, but also served to remind me of the responsibility I had in writing about this topic.

3. I Predict a Riot was also inspired by a lesson on Lord of the Flies. I was teaching my Year 10s Golding’s novel, shortly after the UK riots. We ended up having a discussion about how kids ended up rioting and that shaped the novel I went on to write.

4. I set to challenge some of the commonly held assumptions about the kids who got caught up in the riots. I wanted to write an explosive book that would make readers cry … break their hearts … make them angry … make them think!

5. My literary influences are – um – a bit mixed! I Predict a Riot is Meg Rosoff meets ‘Made in Chelsea’, ‘The Knife that Killed Me’ meets ‘The Only way is Essex,’ or ‘Oliver Twist’ meets ‘ meets ‘The Outsiders’ meets ‘Top Boy’ meets ‘Youngers’ – with the odd dash of ‘Pigeon English, Dickens and ‘Son of Rambow’ along the way. Oh, and the Smurfs – they feature too!

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Book Launch Jitters and a Brilliant Idea!

I’ve been selected to appear at One Big Book Launch – and frankly I’m terrified! But I have a crazy plan to get over my nerves – only I need your help!

One Big Book Launch will see 10 authors (including me!) brought together to celebrate the publication of their books at a highly promoted launch party with friends, family, members of the press, publishing professionals and readers. Tickets are still available from the Free Word Centre, here. So please, please come along and support me because I am in a blind, blank, all consuming panic about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I am very excited to have been chosen and the event is going to be brilliant. Ten outstanding and very different authors from across the industry plus loads of press and media types all hobnobbing in a gorgeous glam venue, the Free Word Centre in North London – what’s not to like? To be honest, I’m pretty excited about a night out in the big city (I’m a country bumpkin-mum of two, I don’t get out much) Ooh – and the wine and nibbles … I even get my own assistant for the evening (which I am possibly more excited about than anything else – if I won the lottery, the first thing I’d get would be a PA to sort out my chaotic Hannah Montana existence).

But I must admit that I’ve also been having a few teensy weensy Bridget Jones style nightmares about it. I have to do this five minute speech, you see. Not just me – all the authors do – but I have to go last, which people keep telling me is a good thing because everyone will remember me. But what if all they remember is me going green, stammering incomprehensible jibberish and then throwing up on somebody’s shoes? My friend Martin threw up on Iris Murdoch’s shoes – it was our first night at Uni in Oxford – and whenever I read her books I think of the bemused expression on her face as she stared down at the vomit on her loafers on the college lawn – so it does happen, you see!

And it’s not that I don’t have anything to say about ‘I Predict a Riot’. I have oodles to say. Just you wait – I’ll be wittering and bloggering on about it like mad in the run up to the launch. It’s just that I’d like to hire a body double for the night to say it for me.

Ooh – who would I choose to be my stand in? I like this game! I have in fact been mistaken for Kirsty Allsop in the past – twice, actually. I was stopped in the street and they asked for my autograph and I briefly felt ever so pleased that my literary fame was spreading, only to discover they thought I was Kirsty! And what’s the polite thing to do in such circumstances? I wasn’t sure if I should have pretended to be Ms Allsop and faked her signature – I don’t like to disappoint, you see, and they looked very sad when I said they were sniffing up the wrong location, location, location!

But I digress. To return to the BBL, yes, Kirsty would be perfect – she’d rock a book launch. She’d hand-crotchet book marks and knit some kind of lentil cup-cakes, and make sexy property related innuendos! I wonder if she is free on April 30th?

Mind you, if I’m going to have a body double I might go all out fantasy gal! Maybe Scarlett Johannsen …or Blair Waldorff from Gossip Girl … or Scarlett O’Connor from Nashville (and don’t go telling me the last two aren’t fictional characters, because they are very real to me!)

But I suppose I ought to be English so I think I’ll probably plump for Rachel Weisz. Because she’d have to bring her hubbie Daniel Craig along with her, wouldn’t she? I mean, you can’t just leave 007 home alone, can you? Anything could happen. So, whilst she’s doing a stint on stage, Daniel and I will have a lovely backstage chat. And if he falls ever so slightly in love with me, then … well, it’ll be complicated but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it!

Oh dear, my James Bond fantasy seems to have made me deviate slightly from the point. And it doesn’t get me any closer to writing my pesky speech or figuring out how to get over my Big Book Launch nerves.

But I’ve had this crazy idea. And it’s been a long week (small girl’s birthday party shenanigans, Big Book Launch craziness, end of term madness) and it’s late on a Friday so my brain may be slightly addled and I may regret this later. But here goes…

So, I’m thinking of doing a VLOG! I blame Rhys from Thirst for Fiction for this, because I didn’t even know what a Vlog was until I came across his brilliant site. And I can hear you thinking, ‘But she barely knows how to plug in an electric toothbrush, how is she ever going to manage a Vlog?’ and you would have a point because to be honest I haven’t considered the logistics of this crazy scheme yet. But this is roughly the way I go about my life – and writing my books – I get carried away with an idea, plunge right on in and don’t think about how I’m going to get out again until I’m in too deep to turn back.

So the plan is to write my speech, record it on my Vlog, post my Vlog and then you get to tell me if it’s OK. Or not. Because if it’s rubbish, or boring, or rambling, or incoherent, or pompous, or just way off, you can tell me. And if I do weird things with my face, or my voice – or do anything bonkers – you can tell me that too. And then I can go off and practise make it better so on the night I’m like a speech-making genius legend. Right? This is brilliant, right? What could be better?

So, I’m signing off now. And I’m going to write my speech – and then tomorrow I’ll get my ten year old to film me and do the technical bit. And then I’ll report back for duty!

You see, that wasn’t so bad! What was I worrying about? This is going to be easy – completely simples!


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One Big Book Launch

I’ve been selected to appear at One Big Book Launch at the Free Word Centre on 30th April.

This unique event will see 10 authors brought together to celebrate the publication of their books at a highly promoted launch party with friends, family, members of the press, publishing professionals and readers. Tickets are still available from the Free Word Centre, here.

CompletelyNovel has teamed up with Literally PR and an incredible list of sponsors to produce the One Big Book Launch event on 30th April 2014. They were inundated with quality book submissions showcasing some of the best writing in the UK. I was therefore very excited to be chosen, along with nine other outstanding and very different writers from across the industry.

Two Egmont titles, fiction from No Exit Press, and poetry/plays from the outstanding Sabrina Mahfouz, join five self-published titles, and New Adult fiction from an award-winning Cookery Writer in her 70s.

The mix of genres, target readership, and publishers in this line-up makes for a really eclectic and exciting evening of celebrations! Tickets are still available from the Free Word Centre, here.

So, if you happen to be in London town on that day, do come along and join us! I’ll be the one looking pale with fear as she steps onto the stage to talk about her book. Give me a smile, maybe a wave! I’ll be ever so grateful!

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#My writing process

I’ve been tagged in this ‘My Writing Process’ blog chain and I was feeling rather proud of myself because I’ve finally got the hang of these things work. So, each week a different author blogs about the book they’re working on next. Last week it was the turn of the fabulous Fleur Hitchcock talking about The Story Adventure – a ghost story of 11,000 words, written with the collaboration of lots of children. And now it’s over to me.

Only it turns out I’m a week late! So not feeling quite so smug now, am I!!! Oops – still here goes!

What am I working on at the moment?

I’m in the final stages of writing a book called ‘I Predict a Riot’. Inspired by the 2012 London riots, it’s the explosive and heart-breaking tale of three kids from very different backgrounds who set out to make a movie and end up involved in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever.

Why is it different from other books in the same genre?

Hmm – I’m trying to think what genre it actually is. I guess it’s ‘Pigeon English’ or ‘The Outsiders’ meets ‘Top Boy’ meets Annabel Pitcher or Meg Rosoff. Gritty, contemporary, hard-hitting, heart-breaking teen fiction, perhaps?
But what makes it different? Well, it’s written like a film script for a start. The story is narrated by amateur film-maker Maggie who prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. When she meets Tokes, the kid with the past, running from trouble, she finds a great subject for her film. And when violence erupts on the streets, led by the ruthless Starfish gang, Maggie has the perfect backdrop for her movie. But as the world explodes Maggie can’t hide behind the lens anymore.
So the whole thing is told in scenes from the film, flashbacks, camera angles – which I suppose reflects my own love of movies, and the fact that I tend to see all my books in quite a cinematic way as I’m writing.

Why do I write what I do?

In all my books I try to address really current contemporary issues. This book is set in fictional neighbourhood of London but it is based on Peckham where I lived for many years, and the characters are based on kids I worked with in youth groups there, and also street kids I met whilst working on projects in South Africa and Namibia. I wanted to reflect the reality of their lives, but also to flip assumptions about class and race on their heads. I wanted to write an explosive book that would make readers cry …break their hearts … make them angry … make them think!
Who are you passing the baton to for next week’s Next Big Thing?

Two of my lovely fellow Bath authors:

Anna Wilson is the author of oodles of fabulous, funny children’s books about her family and other animals (monkeys, puppies, kittens, chickens – you name it!) This year sees her eagerly anticipated teen debut, Summer’s Shadow which comes out on 3rd July. Read her blog here

Alex Campbell is the author of a thrilling debut novel for teens LAND to be published by Hot Key Books in 2014. Read her blog here

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