Boy X wins Essex Book Award 2017!

So. It looks like I’m going to have to stop saying I never win anything. Y’know . . . until recently it was true. But first there was the Coventry Inspiration Book Award and now BOY X has won the Essex Book Awards 2017!

Yay!

Yesterday was a long and brilliant day in Chelmsford, at King Edward VI Grammar School, where students from 18 schools came along to listen to the shortlisted authors say something (brief) about their books. There must have been over 250 students, all of them awesome readers (of course!), and over the past few months they, along with other students from schools across Essex, they have been reading the shortlisted books, reviewing them, and voting for their favourite.

It was great to meet the other authors – Helen Dennis, Monica Vaughan, Robin Jarvis, and Hayley Long – but most of all it was fantastic to meet all the students who have been reading the books, and I even had the chance to give Olivia her award for the best review of BOY X.

The organisation was excellent, the staff were amazing, and the students were awesome!

Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed BOY X and voted for Ash’s jungle adventure. And to the student who apologised for not giving it a good review . . . well, that’s okay. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a very dull place.

That’s all.

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Mission: Save The President

When I was offered the opportunity to write a book based on the screenplay for BIG GAME, the film was still in production and I had no idea what any of the characters or locations would look like on screen. Actually, that’s not quite true – I had a pretty good idea what the president would look like; Samuel L Jackson is unmistakeable. I tried not to picture him in my mind, though, because I wanted the book to be a separate entity from the film. As my publisher – the brilliant Barry Cunningham from Chicken House – said, the book needed to be able to stand on its own feet, without the film to prop it up. So I avoided anything to do with the film (other than the screenplay) when I sat down to write about Oskari, the not-very-good hunter who everyone laughs at; the not-very-good hunter who proves himself to be brave, tough, resilient, honourable, reliable, and resourceful.

Movie tie-in edition

Movie tie-in edition

I had such a blast writing the book. It’s a great story and I was allowed to change it in all kinds of ways so that it would suit the written form. You see, sometimes things look good on screen but wouldn’t work in a book, so I worked out a way to tell the story entirely from the point of view of 12 year old Oskari, altering some of the details, adjusting the order of some events, giving him a back story with hopes and fears. It took a while to get it just right, editing it for UK and US audiences, and then I had the excitement of watching the foreign rights sales come rolling in – so far the book is to be published in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain (Spanish and Catalan), Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Vietnam, and there is an audio book in many of those languages too!

Big Game Cover High ResAnd then the book was published in the UK in January and the film was moving closer. I saw stills from the set, a clip, a trailer . . . and then I was finally allowed to see the finished film. I went to Entertainment One in London and sat in a small private cinema, along with a group of publishers and literary scouts, to watch the final cut – although I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to say that I wouldn’t talk about it.

Then, in May, the film finally hit the cinemas and I went to see it with my family and a big group of friends, and . . . it was fantastic! Onni Tommila is great as Oskari, Samuel L Jackson makes a superb president, and all the other actors portrayed the characters so well. There are some brilliant over-the-top action sequences, there are a lot of laughs, and the relationship between Oskari and the president is excellent.

The film isn’t a big budget movie with a vast sums of money available for advertising, but there was a TV campaign and a poster campaign, so it managed to get itself noticed. Neither did it have the recognition of a franchise like Marvel, so a May release meant it had to work hard against Avengers: Age of Ultron, but . . . well, while Age of Ultron was good, it didn’t look much different from Avengers Assemble or Winter Soldier and it felt empty. Big Game on the other hand is a film that has a huge heart. It knows how to have a good time, how to get you cheering for the good guys and booing the bad guys. It also knows how to make you laugh. If Age of Ultron was a person, it would be a car salesman with a smart suit and a friendly manner about him. If Big Game was a person, it would be your best friend, someone to take with you on an adventure.

If you missed it at the cinema, the DVD release will come in September, and don’t forget, the book is available AT. ALL. TIMES. And the book is different from the film, so if you want to know the whole story, you need to read and watch!

Oh, and if you’re in the USA, Big Game has its theatrical release on 26th June.

That’s all.

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Big Game News!

Last week saw the premiere of BIG GAME in Finland, and it looks like it was a great night! Unfortunately I had prior commitments, so it’s a big shame I couldn’t have been there to celebrate it. I would have loved to meet the director and producers, as well as a couple of the stars (Onni Tommila and Ray Stevenson), and the Finnish publishers of the book. Hopefully I’ll get the chance another time.

The event took place in Helsinki, and received some major press coverage, with TV spots, newspaper front pages etc, and the pre-showing interviews were broadcast on a huge screen outside the cinema which is in one of Helsinki’s busiest areas.

I’ve seen one or two reviews online for the film but, being a non-Finnish speaker, I have no clue what they say. I can, however, show you a few photos from the event . . .

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But the BIG GAME excitement doesn’t end there. No, no. You see, for years I’ve had a monthly subscription to Empire Magazine and whenever it dropped through the letterbox, I used to say something along the lines of, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to open the magazine and see something about a film connected to one of my books?’

When BIG GAME came along, that changed to, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to open the magazine and see something about BIG GAME in here?’

Well, guess what’s on page 18 of Empire magazine this month?

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And, as if that isn’t enough to get me excited, I went to the Odeon on Saturday to see Insurgent and spotted this in the foyer . . .

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And . . . the UK movie tie-in edition of the book will be available from 2nd April!

Oh, and if you want to connect with me and keep up with all my news, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

That’s all.

Big Bad Mother . . .

So BIG GAME is now out there, in the wild, published by the brilliant Chicken House, waiting for readers to pick it up and enjoy it. It’s had a great reception so far and everyone seems so excited about it being linked to the film. And not just any film – this film has Samuel L Jackson in it!

The funny thing is, though, lots of people have read about it and then said to me, ‘I can’t wait to see the film.’ Of course, I hope people do go and see the film, and I hope they enjoy it, but I also hope they read the book! The novel is out now and costs less than the price of a cinema ticket so . . .

Anyway. Enough about that.

This week has, for me, seen a flurry of BIG GAME related stuff. I was interviewed on the radio  – which you can listen to here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ft6yl) If you want to hear my dulcet tones, I’m on from about the 01:08:45 mark.

I was also interviewed for the paper, and you can read that here (http://www.thejournal.co.uk/culture/culture-news/newcastle-author-writes-book-go-8393562) Beware, though, there are photos of me trying to grin a cheesy grin.

There is also now an official trailer for the film, which you can see here:

I’m sure you’ll agree, it looks like great fun. It’s interesting that they’ve chosen to use what is almost the only bit of Finnish language in the film, but the words are important and set the stage for what is to come.

With a little bit of luck, I might be able to see the final cut in the near future. But no, before you ask, I don’t think Sam Jackson will be there.

It would be cool, though, eh? You know, to actually meet the Bad Mother . . . well, you know the rest.

That’s all.