NORTHUMBRIA PART 2

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 6th, 2017 8:34 am Comments Off on NORTHUMBRIA PART 2

Our time in this lovely area continues to provide great school visits for us.

Stunning area!

St Joseph’s is a middle school I visited over eight years ago, but still with vivid memories of performing my early Mokee Joe presentation there and it being well received. This time I presented the Scabbajack and Kruschmeister books to a huge audience of around 340 Years 5 – 8. The sun came out before the start of the presentation and threw a ray of light across the projector screen obscuring most of my dramatic images! It didn’t matter…imagination is more powerful than any electronic image, but soon the sun lowered and faded and everything came right. The success of the presentation can only be judged by the book-signing that took place in a prefabricated classroom during a heavy shower of rain the following lunchtime! With the help of our ‘hostess with the mostess’ Kirsten…we signed books for around 150 pupils in that confined space. At one time, poor Kirsten was standing on a desk directing ‘traffic’ like some super-efficient New York cop! All in all we had a brilliant time at St Joseph’s and we’re already planning to return early next year to launch our final Mokee Joe book. See you all then.

Final visit was to a new school to us…Corbridge Middle School. The town of Corbridge provided a stunning backdrop to this visit

        Great town…great school!

and Kath and I had a great time exploring the ancient buildings as well as wandering along the banks of the River Tyne. The school was fab and we got a great welcome from staff and pupils before performing our Bonebreaker trilogy for a big audience of Years 5 and 6. We stayed overnight in a B&B so we could return the next morning to do a book-signing. The B&B was so close that we could see the school from our bedroom window! The book-signing was yet another ‘mega’ experience and no wonder my signing hand is beginning to suffer!

So there you have it…four brilliant Middle Schools  in one of the most beautifully scenic areas in the country. And now over 1000 pupils eagerly absorbing our scary books during the ‘spooky season’ with dark nights drawing in and Halloween just around the corner. I doesn’t get any better! Thanks to everyone and see you all again VERY soon!

PJM

SPOOKED OUT IN SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE!

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 25th, 2017 4:29 pm Comments Off on SPOOKED OUT IN SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE!

Our cosy Shepherd’s cottage in the middle of nowhere!

Kath and I are currently tucked away in deepest rural Northumbria, close to lots of superb middle schools in and around Hexham. We are staying in a VERY remote cottage known as Shepherd’s Cottage, somewhere in the hills just off the A69 west of Hexham. The door to the cottage looks around 1000 years old and inside it has lots of nooks and crannies…perfect places for the ghost of the old shepherd to hide! I’m already getting some great ideas for spooky stories!

This morning we visited our old friends at Hexham Middle School and entertained around 240 Year 5’s and 6’s with our Bonebreaker and Krushmeister presentations…involving two very different, but equally bad guys all the same! The audience was more than enthusiastic to say the least and a great time was had by all. Tomorrow we return to enthuse their older brothers and sisters in Years 7 and 8, but with different books – Ten O’ Clock Caller, Dawn Demons and Moonwailer. I have some new Dawn Demons pics to project and they are VERY spooky. I can’t wait to see their reaction…

…Well, the reaction was great and I almost got a standing ovation at the end of the presentation. The book signing in the afternoon for the Year 5’s and 6’s went on forever (as usual) and our good friend, Ms Roff, had everything organised super-efficiently as usual.

The following morning found us at Ovingham Middle School; a school I had visited a good few years earlier and it was great to be back! Our audience was around 200 Year 5’s and 6’s – eager to absorb the Bonebreaker story as well as the Ten O’ Clock Caller short, spooky stories. Mr Bennett, the Headteacher, originates from Doncaster, close to our South Yorkshire base in Rotherham, so we had a lot in common and Kath and I were more than impressed that he made time to sit through just about all of our thoroughly enjoyable presentation. Can’t wait to get back to Ovingham to sign books…see you all soon.

In the afternoon we signed more books back at Hexham Middle School for the Year 7’s and 8’s and once again, a great response. We really do have many dedicated fans in this stunning area! Over to St Joseph’s tomorrow. Again, a school I visited a long time ago and I can’t wait to get back. Watch this space!

PJM

BRILLIANT AT BILLERICAY

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 5th, 2017 1:34 pm Comments Off on BRILLIANT AT BILLERICAY

My last school visit of the summer term involved driving along the M4, onto the infamous M25, and into deepest Essex to visit one of our favourite schools  – Billericay School. Well worth the drive!

FAB LIBRARY DISPLAY!

Our good friends, Jacqui, Kim and the other library staff were waiting to give me a great welcome (as usual!). I say ‘me’, because my wife, Kath, had stayed back home to rest her aches and pains from the extensive driving we had done recently. Having said that, she was already booked to help look after the grand children – not so resting!

Back in Billericay, I took a deep breath and launched into a presentation of my latest football-themed, super-scary book: Kruschmeister. The 300+ Year 7 students packed into the auditorium gave me their full attention for around an hour, before a short break and part 2 of the presentation – Ten O’ Clock Caller.

The morning passed very quickly, but I still made time to showthem a fab ‘movie/book trailier’ for Kruschmeister devised by a Year 8 student from Oakwood High School, as well as giving them a sneak-preview of the finished book-cover and accompanying poster for my new, about-to-be-published, sixth and final Mokee Joe book. I’m

KATH WITH HER BILLERICAY CUPCAKE!

pleased to say that the Billericay students seemed more than impressed, as I’m sure everyone will be when they reach the public eye. Our cover artist, Paul Bryn Davies, is surely the most talented cover artist in existence!

During the subsequent book-signing the next day, I was impressed with the fab display of my work in the library I just had to take a pic with my phone…I hope you like it. And since returning home, I took a pic of Kath with the special cake sent by Jacqui and tied with a ribbon by Kim…hope you like that pic too!

Thanks to everyone at Billericay School for making me so welcome and to Jacqui and her library team for looking after me so well in Kath’s absence. We look forward to being back after the release of the new Mokee Joe book. In the meantime, have a great summer…everyone!

PJM

 

NORTHERN GOLD

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 3rd, 2017 3:59 pm Comments Off on NORTHERN GOLD

After working in Berkshire for a while, it was good to head north up the M1 back to our northern roots around Rotherham, Sheffield and Doncaster.

Poppies galore at Pheasant Bank

First port of call was to a new school to us – Pheasant Bank Academy, at Rossington near Doncaster. The lovely Headteacher (Mrs Robinson) knows us well from her previous school and was keen for me to fire up her new pupils to use their imaginations in a good read (or two!). Well…she needed no worries! The large KS2 audience joined in our presentation with great gusto and the next day we enjoyed a huge book-signing…each and every pupil being polite and a joy to chat with after their long wait in the never-ending queue. One interesting point about the school is vast amount of poppies growing along the edge of the staff car park. No one planted them and it’s a mystery why they are there. I immediately felt a spooky story coming on…ghostly WW2 soldiers appearing at dusk among the fading blood-red flowers… Thank you Pheasant Bank Academy for making us so welcome. We can’t wait to be back.

Following the great visit described above, it was time to move on to several schools in my home-town of Rotherham; to visit five schools as part of the ACET academy trust, introduced to us through our good friend, Martin Mullane. Thurcroft, Aughton, Listerdale and Lowedges Junior Academies, along with Swinton High School and a visit to our old friends at Oakwood High School, provided a whirlwind of visits that left us breathless (literally!) The enthusiasm and energy of countless friendly and welcoming staff and pupils was a credit to all involved.

After all the bad press associated with Rotherham over the past year or two, it’s so pleasing to report on all the immense positivity we experienced during our two weeks there. One thing that really impressed us was the way in which these school communities pulled together, and Kath and I really felt that the immaculate striking uniforms that the ACET trust have adopted helped greatly in this way. All of the pupils without exception were smartly turned out and seemed proud of their attire! Brilliant!

One of the Oakwood High School Year 8’s was so impressed with our Kruschmeister book that he took it on himself to construct a trailer film for the book! It’s nothing short of amazing and I’ve been showing it to everyone, including the pupils during my current school visit at Billericay (see next blog report). Feed back like this makes us very proud. As we always say, there is such talent out there among our student audiences, (bring it on!).

From Rotherham, it was down the A1 heading into the Fens to arrive eventually in Suffolk to visit our ‘very’ old friends at Northfield St Nicholas. Our librarian friend, Julie Gulliver, was waiting to give us a nice hug and begin looking after us in the usual high-standard way of East Anglian hospitality. I’ve been Patron of Reading for quite a while at this school and we always look forward to our visits. The pupils are huge (or ‘hooge’ as they say in this part of the world) fans of ours and are already familiar with all of my books. We passed a very quick day of workshops with each year group and a ‘fun’ time was had by all. As I always say to our fans, ‘If it’s not fun then it’s not working as is should be.’ And that applies to reading, writing and all forms of artwork and literacy.

Whilst we were in the area, Kath and I visited nearby Great Yarmouth and took a nostalgic trip along the sea-front. We

Childhood memories at Great Yarmouth

spent our honeymoon in this resort more years ago than we care to remember. I even got to search out the ‘snail ride’ by the side of the pier, which I adored as a child.

Oh well…back to Berkshire for a brief respite before heading down into deepest Essex for our very last school of the summer term – none other than Billericay School…more VERY old friends of ours and a great venue to finish on a high note before a long rest during the long summer hols!

By for now, everyone…and if anyone has any pics they can send from our visits to include in this post, please e-mail them to me asap.

PJM

SCABBAJACK INVADES ROUGHWOOD!

This post was written by peterjmurray on June 14th, 2017 5:45 pm Comments Off on SCABBAJACK INVADES ROUGHWOOD!

To all my Scabbajack fans at Roughwood Primary, may I first apologise for taking so long to get back to you. I received

Pete with all his letters and artwork from Roughwood Primary

so many wonderful letters back in April and I’ve only just got round to reading them.  I’ve been so busy charging around schools all over the place, and that’s my only excuse.

On a positive note, the letters were brilliantly written and a real credit to the teaching in the school.

I hope you like the pic of me holding all your letters and artwork outside my secret office somewhere in deepest Rotherham. You can even see the Scabbajack boy lurking behind me!

What I loved about your letters was the way you had remembered all the exciting bits of my story and how they’d scared you, but you couldn’t wait to read on and find out how things turned out. That makes me as an author really proud. After all, my job is to build the suspense and intrigue and keep you reading on and turning the pages!

Lots of you said you would like to meet me, so I’m going to get in touch with a friend of mine at your school; I’m sure you know him – Mr Cadman – and ask if I can come along to Roughwood as soon as possible. I love being back at Kimberworth Park – after all, I was born and brought up there. Does anyone know Leybourne Road?

Well that’s all for now. Thank you again for writing to me – I read EVERY letter and admired EVERY piece of artwork. Hope you enjoyed the end of Scabbajack and can’t wait to see you all and tell you about the next new book.

Keep on reading and keep on writing and I’ll keep on writing more and more scary books! As one of you said to me in your letter, ‘Scabbajack gave me nightmares for a few nights, but it was worth it…I loved the book and can’t wait to read more!’  Brilliant!

Pete

SCARY IN SALISBURY – BRILLIANT IN BRACKNELL

This post was written by peterjmurray on June 7th, 2017 5:49 pm Comments Off on SCARY IN SALISBURY – BRILLIANT IN BRACKNELL

Before our three visits in the week ahead to new schools (to us!) in nearby Bracknell, Kath and I spent a Sunday in Salisbury. Not what you might regard as a spooky place to get new ideas for scary books! But then you’d be wrong! After wandering around this beautiful, historic city, we called into the stunning cathedral to have a look round.

Suddenly…my sixth sense told me I was being watched!

Sinister figures watching over us!

The display of sinister watching figures over on one side of the vast cathedral space was awesome! I half expected to see them turn their heads as Kath and I crept past! Cathedrals and old churches always leave me with a strange mix of feelings…peaceful, timeless, sometimes definitely spooky and occasionally an inspiration for one of my books. Those fans of mine who have read Bonebreaker, will be familiar with the line drawing of the three skeletons and three knights having a conversation – taken from an ancient wall mural in a church within the deepest Norfolk marshes. I will never forget the impact that image made on my imagination.

Pete and Kath at the fab Jennett’s Park Primary

The next day found us relaxing again in readiness for the first trip to Bracknell, a little-known town to us, despite it being relatively close to our Berkshire base. The school in question was Jennett’s Park, within a fairly new development and only six years old. One of the Deputy Headteachers, Carla, knows us from our visits to her previous school in Newbury, and had no worries about the impact we would have on our new audience. We covered two of our books –  Bonebreaker and Ten O’ Clock Caller and both books went down a storm. Several of the children even dressed up as Saxons and were attacked by the imposing figure of the huge Viking warrior, Sigard – ‘Even his own live in fear of him.’ We returned the next day to do a ‘huge’ book-signing and it seems that the whole of this school community are now burying their heads into our scary narratives...brilliant.

We have also learnt that since our visit, the children are desperate to write their own stories, and to hear this always makes our visits so much more worthwhile. MASSIVE thanks to Joy, Carla, David and all of the staff and pupils for giving us such a fab welcome. We can’t wait to be back…see you all soon.

Our second Bracknell school visit was to Fox Hill Primary. The Headteacher, Mrs Coxell, was waiting at the door to

Fab fans in fab library at fab Fox Hill Primary

greet us and we soon got the idea that this school is determined to become one of the best! The children were extra polite and friendly and had us a cup of tea, set up and all ready to go with our presentation within minutes.

We performed the Bonebreaker presentation in the first half and some of the children joined me on stage and acted the parts brilliantly. In the second half we wowed our fab audience with spooky tales from my Ten O’ Clock Caller collection. It was a lovely experience for Kath and I to work with Mrs Coxell and her staff and hopefully we have already helped to make a difference in raising the enthusiasm of the Fox Hill pupils to read and write their own stories. We look forward to returning next academic year to wow them again with our Mokee Joe Finale Tour.

Have a lovely summer everyone!

PJM

ISLE OF MAN KRUSCHMEISTER TOUR

This post was written by peterjmurray on May 26th, 2017 4:03 pm Comments Off on ISLE OF MAN KRUSCHMEISTER TOUR

Pete with ghostly gravestones near Dhoon School

The time had arrived for our return to the Isle of Man…not for the famous TT races, but to take our newest book, Kruschmeister, over the Irish Sea to our army of Manx fans.

We stayed in a lovely residence in Onchan and it really proved a ‘home from home’ for us during our ten day stay. Thank you to Paula, our IOM landlady!

Our visits were to Rushen, Kirk Michael, St John’s, Dhoon and Bunscoill Rhumsaa primary schools…all friends of ours and wonderful schools to be back with. Our chosen books were Bonebreaker and Kruschmeister and we just happened to have our brand new Kruschmeister posters with us, hot off the press only a few days before our voyage over to the island.

All of the schools gave us a great welcome and the presentations had our fans on the edge of their seats…borne out by the extensive book-signings that took place afterwards. Isle of Man Year 3’s proved tough to say the least and showed no signs of being overcome by the scariness and fictional violence contained in the narratives.

Pete and Kath trekking down Dhoon Glen

In between our visits, we took lots of opportunities to explore the island and staying over the weekend gave us plenty of time to travel around and see some of the beautiful sights…all enhanced by the almost freakish early summery weather!

We love the environs of Rushen School and visited the nearby Port Erin, Port St

Fab Year 4 Bonebreaker Artwork at Bunscoill Rhumsaa

Mary and the fabulous Rushen Abbey. Kirk Michael School gave us an excuse to nip over to Peel and have more than one ice cream sitting out on the promenade looking across to the ancient castle. Dhoon School always seems to send us across the road and heading off down to the isolated coves hidden along the dramatic coastline (real Viking attacking scenery!). This time we also made the walk down Dhoon Glen and back…beautiful, but exhausting! And Burnscoill Rhumsaa saw us heading over the mountain road more than once with Snaefell hovering over us temptingly…but we never made the top on this occasion!

We met so many lovely people during our stay on the island…everyone so friendly and welcoming. Big thanks to Rosie, Chloe and Henry at Bunscoill Rhumsaa…librarians par excellance! To Angela, of the Bridge Bookshop in Ramsay – we look forward to working with her in the future. All best wishes to the Heads of Rushen and Kirk Michael, Tom and Tony, for a long and well-earned retirement (hope you enjoy the Kruschmeister books – a little light reading!)

…And finally…we are so thrilled to have already made the reservation to return during World Book Week, in March 2018, to enthuse all of our Manx Mokee Joe fans with our forthcoming new (and final) Mokee Joe book.

CAN’T WAIT!!

PJM

ALL MONSTERS GREAT AND SMALL!

This post was written by peterjmurray on April 27th, 2017 7:54 pm Comments Off on ALL MONSTERS GREAT AND SMALL!

Kath and I headed up to one of our favourite parts of the country…the Yorkshire Dales!

We took a lovely self-catering cottage in the brewery town of Masham – a truly quaint English Dales village.

A monster in the Dales! Which one?

As I write this blog the town is preparing for the big cycle race (Tour Yorkshire) to pass through tomorrow. I hope we get to see a bit of it.

Our first school visit in this great part of the world was just a short distance away…Sharow, near Ripon. The school was small and linked up with another nearby school, Skelton – Newby Hall. They say lovely things come in small packages, and these schools were truly a joy to work with. They lapped up our scary books, BONEBREAKER and MOONWAILER, and we threw in our scary short story collection – TEN O CLOCK CALLER – for good measure. The following day found us returning to both schools to sign lots of books for avid readers. Thank you to Ms Lowe for taking the trouble to book us for this visit – especially after seeing us at two previous schools which she’s worked at. Ms Lowe must be a ‘glutton for punishment’ as they say!

Watch out Mr Greenway…I’m coming to get you!

Next, it was time to head north of Masham to Leyburn Community School, old friends of ours. We love this school! The children and staff are always so enthusiastic and can’t get enough of our scary books. It was such a shame that the werewolf boy, Moonwailer, threatened to make a night time call to one of the teachers at the school, Mr Greenway. I was quick to supply him with a few silver bullets to protect himself, but I’m not too sure he will survive the impending attack. We will find out tomorrow…so watch this space to find out what happens!

Bye for now…Kath and I are off to a fab ice cream parlour on the way back to our Masham cottage…well away from Mr Greenway and the Moonwailer!

Mr Greenway – proud of his battle scars!

 

* Sad to report that Mr Greenway DID fall victim to the vicious Moonwailer! He managed to scare the beast-boy away with the threat of silver bullets and such, but not before being mauled as shown by his injuries in the picture. Sorry, Mr Greenway, but you did choose to live and teach in the land of the werewolf, so it’s not all my fault!

PJM

SUPERB AT ST PAULS

This post was written by peterjmurray on April 4th, 2017 7:43 am Comments Off on SUPERB AT ST PAULS

Our last school visit in the run-up to the Easter break was to a new school to us, St Paul’s RC Primary, on the Newbury-Reading border. Kath and I were made more than welcome and soon found ourselves in front of a VERY enthusiastic KS2 audience. As this was our first visit, I talked about how I became an author under the most unusual of circumstances and this led nicely into a full-blown Mokee Joe presentation. The children and staff seemed captivated  and interacted perfectly during the performance.

The morning passed only too quickly and we were soon sipping coffee in nearby Pangbourne musing over how much we had enjoyed the experience. We returned to St Paul’s the next day to carry out a book-signing and that went equally well. So many children waiting to get their heads into our books…Great!

The Headteacher, Mrs Oster, was proud to point out to us that St Paul’s came out top in the West Berkshire schools re SATS results…and Miss Todd was keen to share with us how important literacy is regarded at the school. Neither of these statements surprised us  – it proved such a good school to finish off our hectic schedule of author visits stretching way back to Christmas.

A BIG thank you to all at St Paul’s from us both. We hope you really enjoy the books and hope to see you again soon.

PJM

LAND OF THE CROOKED SPIRE

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 19th, 2017 11:39 am Comments Off on LAND OF THE CROOKED SPIRE

Pete surrounded by fab Year 6's at Mary Swanwick

After a few days in glorious Gosforth up in the NE, we returned South to Chesterfield to visit a favourite school of ours, Brimington Juniors. The Year 6’s from nearby Mary Swanwick School (another favourite school of ours) came over and joined in the presentation – KRUSCHMEISTER and BONEBREAKER. It was the first time I’ve presented these two books together and it went really well. After all, the villains in both stories are true ‘bonebreakers’ in every sense!

The audience were brilliant and got into my storytelling in a BIG way…borne out by the never-ending book signing the next

day! During the proceedings I was introduced to a devoted fan, Alfie. Not only did Alfie know intimately all of my books,

Chesterfield's famous crooked spire.

but he had some great ideas of his own. I wonder if one day he’ll become a horror-writer like me! Best of luck, Alfie.

It was nice to pop in to Chesterfield to do a spot of shopping and take in the view of the famous crooked spire…it never ceases to amaze me! There must be a good spooky story somewhere involving that strange old steeple.

Time to head further south back to our Berkshire base for some R and R. It’s been a hectic, but amazing last few weeks centred around World Book Week – long may it last!

PJM

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