BACK ON BROADWAY ( ISLE OF MAN!)

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 13th, 2021 4:11 pm Comments Off on BACK ON BROADWAY ( ISLE OF MAN!)

              Back on Broadway!

We’re back!! Kath and I can hardly believe we’re finally back at one of most favourite places on the planet – the Isle of Man. Thankfully, our boat crossing from Heysham to Douglas was very smooth and completely without incident – a great start! We chilled out the following day in our wonderful accommodation on Douglas seafront. Our good friend, Paula Noble, did us proud in allowing us to stay in her luxury flat in Broadway. Yes…Broadway. But a long way from New York!

On Monday, we launched into our school visits to Dhoon, Michael and Laxey schools.

     A Dhoon School reader called Reda!!

…And what a start. Our good friends, Max Kelly and Karen Riley, gave us a great Manx welcome and ensured that our first few days passed without a hitch. The new book – POPPY WARRIOR – had all of the pupils hooked with its ghostly theme of two identical Year 5  twins (Josh and Jess) being haunted by their Great great grandfather – a casualty of World War 1.

So many lovely things happened during our presentations, including meeting a year 6 boy who just had to be a keen reader, called Reda, (pronounced ‘reader’)! An expert technician who helped us with our first set up, called  Ruadhan – a big thank you to him!  And we thoroughly enjoyed the help of our young actors and actresses, playing Josh and Jess, Inara and Mika, Bonnie and Evan and Daisy and Daniel (who actually looked like identical twins). A MASSIVE ‘thank you’ to them all…they were brilliant!

More lovely events followed:

  1. Chilling out at The Shed in old Laxey Harbour

    After a great presentation to our first BIG audience at Laxey school, and an even BIGGER book signing, Kath and I made our way down to the Laxey Harbour and discovered ‘The Shed’…a great beach-side cafe with fab sea views, and even more-fab coffee! We love this little place!

  2. We received a clutch of very well-written and complementary letters from the Year 5’s at

         Pete with Yr 5 Michael letters

    Michael School, saying how much they had enjoyed our visit. Needless to say, their letters are going home with us and will be saved as a memory of our latest IOM visit.

  3. Bunscoill Rhumsaa Junior School re-united us with so many ‘old friends’ (not so old, really!) and the POPPY WARRIOR presentation went down a blast with our biggest audience to date – no less than 8 classes of Yrs  3 to 6. Jacob and Halley played the parts of Josh and Jess and the audience were more than keen to join in the interactive parts of the presentation. One young boy really amused me by asking me if I was Icky Doo Dah’s dad!! I hope he was really referring to Simon, our son, who I’m told does have a strong resemblance to me!

Oh well…that’s all for now. A relaxing and recharging time over the weekend, before four more presentations planned for next week. If the week ahead goes half as well as last week, Kath and I will be more than pleased. Watch this space, as they say!

PJM

KNARESBOROUGH TO ISLE OF MAN!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 11th, 2021 5:18 pm Comments Off on KNARESBOROUGH TO ISLE OF MAN!

Just prior to our long-awaited trip to the Isle of Man, we had a more local visit lined up to Aspin Park Academy in Knaresborough.

         Kath and I love Knaresborough

Aspin Park Academy proved to be a most wonderful 2-form entry primary school. The staff and pupils greeted us like old friends and we were soon in front of our first audience, around 120 year 5 and 6 pupils. To say they were enthusiastic would be an understatement! They quickly fell under the spell of Mokee Joe and launched

   Mokee Joe strikes again!

themselves into the presentation with great interaction and gusto! One girl volunteered to be chased by the 7-foot tall monster and it turned out it was her 10th birthday! I feel sure it was a birthday she’ll never forget. All in all, great fun, and just as satisfying was a repeat performance to a similar number of year 3 and 4 pupils in the afternoon. Will we ever forget the image of tiny Rosie (year 3), standing beneath the imposing figure of Mokee Joe complete with his huge boots! A HUGE thank you to Ms Robertson and Ms Selway for all their help and their highly efficient organisation in making the day pass so well for us. At the end of our lovely visit we stayed over at an inn we know  in not-to-far away Darley (I used to teach at a school nearby), and returned the next day to do a MAMMOTH book signing. Wow! So many eager readers! Hope everyone is enjoying the books and we hope to see you again…so many more books to tell you about!

PJM

HAPPY (ECSTATIC) IN HEXHAM!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 6th, 2021 7:23 pm Comments Off on HAPPY (ECSTATIC) IN HEXHAM!

  Kath and Leonie – Great team!

After a more-than-successful visit to Ovingham Middle School, it was ‘all guns blazing’ as we made our way up the road to our old friends at the newly located Hexham Middle School. Our two hosts for the next couple of days were our good friend, Ms Roff, and the newly-appointed Ms Hayler (or as we prefer to call her – Leonie the lovely librarian (great alliteration!).

The first presentation was to a large number of KS2 pupils and the Mokee Joe series was our chosen subject. It was nice to meet pupils who had no previous experience of us and hence I found myself launching into the spooky character’s misgivings with perhaps even more gusto than usual. I feel sure that being ‘inactive’ for such a long time due to the dreaded Covid virus, also caused an upsurge in energy levels  throughout the performance!

Well, evidence of our impact was certainly borne out the following day during the book-signing. I

            New start – New school!

can’t remember so many new fans coming on board in one go! The KS3 pupils proved just as enthusiastic and seemed more than ‘hooked’ on our Scabbajack and PS13 books – again queuing around the walls of the new library waiting to acquire signed copies of the spooky narratives.

No wonder Kath and I love coming to this school! Everything was so organised (thank you, Ms Roff – again!!) and what with the new building (and brand new library), we hope to return here indefinitely. A special ‘thank-you’ to Ms Tyler for all her help. We would have struggled to cope during the extensive book-signing without her.

See you all again soon. Hope the new school lives up to its expectations. It’s looking more than impressive!

PJM

WE’RE BACK!!

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 28th, 2021 5:11 pm Comments Off on WE’RE BACK!!

Great Bonebreaker drawing presented to me by Eadie in Year 4

I can’t believe we’re back! School bookings are now rolling in and we have over 20 school visits in place over the next few months.

First of our return visits to schools was to the wonderful Ovingham Middle School. To say the pupils (and staff) are fans of ours is surely an understatement! What a welcome from Ms Quinn and the school community. The two books I spoke about to Years 4,5 and 6 were Bonebreaker and Dawn Demons. Around 200 pupils made up our enthusiastic audience, and as usual, pupils clamoured to take part in the action, taking up theatrical parts of the main characters in the stories. Wilfrid and Dunstan – the 2 Saxon boys, and Billy and Calum, the ‘today’ heroes of the stories, were brought vividly to life by young actors and actresses from Years 5 and 6. After fun and thrills with Bonebreaker, Year 4 returned to class to leave the slightly older (and braver?) Years 5 and 6 to face the wrath of the Dawn Demons! Cries of OOHH, AHHH, ERGHH and WOW rang around the hall as some of Billy and Calum’s terrifying encounters with the demon dollies were described.

An early sketch of a Dawn Demon by my cover artist, Paul Bryn Davies

OVINGHAM BOOK SIGNING: WOW! Nothing prepared us for the response to the previous day’s presentation. Almost every Year

4 purchased a signed copy of Bonebreaker, and almost everyone of Years 5 and 6 eagerly acquired their own personal copies of Bonebreaker and Dawn Demons. The queues of excited pupils snaked around the walls of Ms Quinn’s fabulous library and I don’t think we would have coped without the amazing help of her library ambassadors, Sam, Alexis and Thamyra. BIG thanks to those three girls from me and Kath. We enquired about employing them for our further school visits, but Ms Quinn was having none of it!

All in all, this was probably our best visit to Ovingham Middle School, but it seems we say that every time! We are already looking forward to being back again. Hope to see you all again before too long!

PJM

THE BIG RESTART!

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 29th, 2021 12:48 pm Comments Off on THE BIG RESTART!

Hi to all our fans! Yes…we’re still here, itching to get back into doing what we like best – getting into schools and exciting pupils re literacy, our books, and of course…all things spooky!  And dare we say that September may be the restart that we’ve been so long hoping for!

A good few schools have already booked for long-overdue visits, including our fave schools on the Isle of Man, schools in Northumberland, and more recently the Delta Academy Trust schools for which I’m still proud to be their Patron of Reading.

Spooky tree in spooky spot on the Isle of Wight

We’ve used much of the lockdown period to buy and upgrade a new house in Yorkshire, but also, more recently, to seek out a second home on the Isle of Wight. Keen fans will know that we’ve always felt a strong connection with the island; over the years I’ve been inspired by its historical atmosphere and spooky nooks and crannies to come up with some great ideas for my writing. Kath and I love it there, and we intend to spend much more time on the island…so watch this space!

I’m very pleased to say that our grandchildren, Will and Liz, have finally

Kath with Lizzie (our new Mokee Joe fan!)

reached an age where they are no longer too scared to read my books! Liz is 11 years old and has just ended her time at primary school. She is well into my Mokee Joe books  – currently on book 4 and loving it. Will is 7 years old and prefers to quiz me about what happens in my books rather than taking time to read them! He is obsessed with the Moonwailer book and got very upset when I put on a really scary werewolf mask and chased him around the garden – ha ha!

GRRR…!

Oh well…I’ll close for now. The phone’s just rang and another school has booked for next term. West Melton Primary in my hometown. Can’t wait! Enjoy the rest of the term and we’ll hope to see you soon. Keep on reading…and writing too if you’re in the mood for it.

PJM

WORLD BOOK DAY LOCKDOWN!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 21st, 2021 5:27 pm Comments Off on WORLD BOOK DAY LOCKDOWN!

Lots of Delta ‘Lockdown’ entries!

As some of you know, I’m lucky enough to be Patron of Reading for the Delta Academy Trust. I love working with the schools in the trust and already have lovely memories of my visits over the last few years. And so it was great to be asked by Fiona Marks – the trust’s Director of Primary Reading – if I could come up with an exciting challenge for the pupils on World Book Day.

Most of the Delta pupils know of my  series of books in which the hero, Hudson Brown, is constantly being chased and terrified by his horrendous enemy, Mokee Joe…

…So how about a lockdown situation in which Hudson can’t leave his house and must prepare himself for a Mokee Joe attack in the darkened hours at the end of World Book Day?

Well…the idea certainly provoked some wonderful ideas as many competition entrants fired up their imaginations and went into ‘Home

Watch out Hudson! I’m coming to get you!

Alone’ mode. Hudson wasn’t even able to have his two amazing friends, Molly and Ash, alongside (it was lockdown, remember), but he was allowed to keep in contact with them by phone.

It was so much fun for me to read through the competition entries, already judged by their respective schools and on a shortlist. In one boy’s story, he went so far to label Mokee Joe as  ‘THE GERMINATOR’ and Hudson defending himself with an antiseptic spray! Brilliant!

All of the entries on my shortlist were a joy to read, but I finally managed to come up with winners from each year group, and in some cases two entries tying for first place. The winners were:

KS1  Bobby from Macaulay Primary

KS2:

Year 3 Layla from England Lane Primary and Chloe from Montagu Primary

Year 4 Sam from Willows Academy and a collective prize for the Year 4 bubble from Craven Primary

Year 5 Uswa from Southmere Primary

Year 6 Elijah from Serlby Park Academy and Archie from Hatfield Woodhouse.

WELL DONE TO ALL OF YOU…you each win a signed copy of the Mokee Joe book of your choice, from books 1 to 6.

And WELL DONE to the runners up…we will try to get a consolation Peter J Murray bookmark to you.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m really hoping to be back in your schools from next September. Kath and I have had our jabs…OUCH! (not really…we didn’t feel a thing!!)

Take good care and keep on reading and writing.

PJM

DOUBLE LIFT OFF!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 12th, 2020 5:17 pm Comments Off on DOUBLE LIFT OFF!

With all the  downbeat happenings re the pandemic and such, I’ve just had two great uplifting events and I want to tell you about them.

  1. A wonderful batch of letters (30 in total) were sent to me from a school in Staffordshire. The school in question is St Benedict Biscop School and the letters were from the Year 5’s. They had just finished reading my first ever book – Mokee  Joe is Coming! The letters were extremely neat and well-written and I enjoyed reading every single one of them. Receiving so many letters I would normally just scan them to get the overall gist of them, but in this case I couldn’t help but read every one in detail! Each of the Year

    A wonderful collection of letters!

    5’s gave me a rave review of the narrative, listing their favourite parts of the book and their favourite characters. They also had a mountain of questions for me and I’ve already written a compilation of answers and replied to them. A HUGE thank you to Ms Parkin the class teacher, and all of the Year 5’s for making me feel so uplifted and encouraged to carry on writing. You make it all worthwhile for authors like me – and like I said, I can’t thank you enough. The icing on the cake would be to visit your lovely school when things eventually return to normal. In the meantime, enjoy the second book (Mokee Joe Recharged) and I  hope to hear similar encouraging comments on this story.

  2. The second uplifting event is that I’m returning to teaching. I’ve just secured a post at a wonderful school to carry out some one-to-one English teaching and I can’t wait! Since the pandemic put paid to school visits I’ve really missed being in the school environment and the interaction with pupils and staff. I’m so looking forward to being back in school again,  and hopefully passing onto pupils my passion for literacy and my experiences of succeeding with the written word! In addition to all of this, I’m still writing new books and will be releasing new titles in the not-to-distant future so watch this space as they say. Things are looking much more optimistic at the moment, what with possible vaccines and increased readily available testing etc, so don’t be too downhearted and think positive. I’m sure it won’t be too long before Kath and I are back in your schools to thrill and encourage you with our latest spooky offerings. So stay safe and hope to see you soon.  PJM

 

COVID FRUSTRATIONS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 3rd, 2020 12:44 pm Comments Off on COVID FRUSTRATIONS!

Well, at least the schools are back – even if we aren’t!

It’s so frustrating for me and Kath still being stuck around the house and not yet able to resume our much-loved school visits. We miss all our fans – pupils and teachers – more than you can imagine.

The only positive coming from these ‘strange’ times are that I’ve never been fitter! In between writing new books I’ve been running, cycling and keeping up with general stretching and fitness exercises almost every day. It will be a new leaner and fitter-looking Peter J Murray that returns to your schools when the situation finally allows! Mokee Joe will be chasing his victims with increased speed!

      Beware the Green Man!

On the writing front I’ve almost finished my first-ever Christmas-themed book (my first book in which the main character is a girl) and I’m about to start on my latest idea for an eco-themed book based on the pagan Green Man character – watch this space, as they say!

You may be interested to know  that I’m presently considering going back to a previous life and doing a bit of maths teaching; at least until this dreadful Covid situation is over. Before becoming an author 15 years ago, I was a maths teacher in a number of schools and thoroughly enjoyed it. It may surprise you to know that maths was my worst subject at school and so to finally become a maths teacher was almost as unexpected as becoming a best-selling children’s author! To teach maths again will at least help me  get back into schools sooner rather than later. Kath may even join me as a voluntary helper in the school library – something she would enjoy very much (surrounded by books!).

I’ll close for now and wish everyone well. A special ‘Hello and best wishes’ to all of the Delta Academy Trust schools of which I’m  Patron of Reading.  Keep on reading everyone and keep on writing – two activities guaranteed to help you through the current crisis.

PJM

HOPING TO BE BACK IN SCHOOLS BEFORE TOO LONG!

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 9th, 2020 1:49 pm Comments Off on HOPING TO BE BACK IN SCHOOLS BEFORE TOO LONG!

Hope my fans are staying well and coping with all the strange happenings going on around us. As someone once said, ‘It could only happen in a book!’

During lockdown I’ve been working on my new book, exercising more than at any other time in my life, and generally trying to keep busy. I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing and I’m sure there are many other people like me who are only happy when they are living life to the full.

   Lizzie’s MJ t-shirt from rear

Since the 4th July easing on lockdown restrictions, Kath and I have managed to get down south to link up with our son and his family. Most of you will already know that Simon is the author and creator of the famous Icky Doo Dah character (www.ickydoodah.com) and father of our lovely grandchildren, William and Lizzie. Both are fans of my spooky books, but 6yr old William is much happier discussing the books than actually daring to read them!  Lizzie, however, is in Year 5 and is much braver. She recently read my latest book, Poppy Warrior, in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Whilst we were staying with them, we ventured out and climbed the nearby Beacon Hill and Lizzie wore a Mokee Joe t-shirt. She looked great in it and I enclose here a pic showing Mokee Joe’s best side on the rear of her shirt.

Whilst we were on the top of Beacon Hill we managed to skirt round the ancient fort to find the Earl of Carnarvon’s grave. He was the one who worked with Howard Carter to find the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt, stored at the also nearby Highclere Castle (better known as the fictitious Downton Abbey).  Blimey…I’m a right mine of info today!

                      Creepy Grave!

I’m now back in my native Yorkshire and working on finishing my new book – nobody knows anything about it, not even Kath, my wife! All I will say is that it has a Christmas theme and the main character is a girl for once, and an amazing girl she is too! And that’s all I’m prepared to say on the subject for now! Watch this space, as they say!

Over the last few months I’ve received some lovely e-mails to my website from really keen fans of all ages. I had another e-mail from a fan in New York (Cesar), who informs me now has ALL of my books and even enclosed a pic of them all to prove it! I’ve also had a number of e-mails from ‘twenty-something’s’ telling me how they still remember the impact I had on them during my school visits when they were younger, even inspiring one fan to become a writer himself

Just to finish off this blog, I’m putting in a pic of me  returning from a 6.5K run in the pouring rain.  The rain had just about stopped when I set off, but restarted five minutes later and became a downpour for the rest of the run. When I got back I looked like a drowned rat. You can laugh if you want to because I can’t hear you!  You will note that even the owl gave me a very strange look!

              PJM ‘Drowned Rat’

I hope you’ll be pleased to know that many schools are getting in touch requesting visits or rescheduling of visits blocked by the virus restrictions. Of course we can hardly wait to get back into your schools, but at present nobody seems to know when visitors will be admitted. If not from September, from the Autumn half-term maybe??  Who knows?? As soon as the schools have definite guidelines, I’m sure we’ll be the first to find out.

Until then, stay safe and well and whatever you do…KEEP ON READING AND WRITING AND USING THAT AMAZING IMAGINATION OF YOURS!  Hope to see you soon.

PJM

AUTHOR IN LOCKDOWN!

This post was written by peterjmurray on April 29th, 2020 9:44 am Comments Off on AUTHOR IN LOCKDOWN!

If there’s one good thing about this lockdown period, it’s that it’s a good time for authors to write and a good time for readers to read! Hence, I’m enjoying writing this blog entry and I hope when I’ve finished, some of you will enjoy reading it.

         Keeping fit during lockdown.

Like most people out there, my wife, Kath, and I are ‘holed-up’ in our house, but we do escape twice a week to do our shopping and I’ve been going ‘crazy’ with keeping fit and making sure that every day I take some form of exercise – running, cycling and lots of stretching for example. Just prior to the lockdown we moved into a new house and so we’ve also been able to keep busy getting things sorted out and finishing off the unpacking etc.

It won’t surprise you know that I’ve been doing lots of writing. I’ve written two short stories for grown-ups and NOT scary stories for a change!  And I’ve also written a fishing story and sent it off to the Angler’s Mail – a magazine I’ve been reading for years.  As many of my fans know, fishing is one of my favourite pastimes. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to fish at the moment, but as soon as things get back to normal I’ll be heading off to the bankside and raring to go.

…And I’ll hopefully be heading off to your schools as soon as possible to get back amongst our many fans. Kath and I have really missed you and can’t wait to entertain you again with our spooky stories. I hope lots of you have managed to take advantage of my free Kruschmeister download on my website homepage. It’s the least I can do to help keep you busy. It was also pleasing to be asked to launch a ‘Lockdown Challenge’ in the Delta Academy Trust Schools and I can’t wait to hear how pupils are getting on with it. Isn’t it great that so many people are willing to put themselves out to help in any way they can during the present crisis! They say that GOOD THINGS always show themselves when BAD THINGS happen around us and it’s so very true.

Here’s a good thing that just happened to me a few days ago and it really cheered me up! It was a totally unexpected e-mail from a student in the US. Here’s what they had to say:

I don’t know if you will read this yourself Mr. Murray, but I just wanted to say thank you. I am a 2nd year college student and your books have always been a favorite of mine. You visited my school when I was in elementary school and it was P.S. 154 in Harlem, New York and I had no idea how your books would affect me. Once I left elementary school, I no longer had access to your books which were in the library so I was upset. One thing I never did was forget how much impact you and your books had on me. I remember coming home with Mokee Joe 1, 2, & 3 and reading them and engulfing into the adventure of those books. I also read Moonwailer, Scabbajack, Dawn Demons, and Bonebreaker. I am rambling at this point, but your books made me love reading and I just wanted to thank you, I knew you came out with more books, but I never had the chance to purchase them. I am now a lot older and able to purchase them and will be doing so real soon. Thank you once again and can’t wait to read everything new.

Well how about that for an e-mail! Memories came flooding back of our times in New York. Great times and great students!

That’s all for now. I’ll be updating my blog again very soon so keep an eye on things. In the meantime, stay safe and stay busy. It won’t be long now before we’re all back together.

PJM

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