MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 3rd, 2019 11:31 am Comments Off on MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

On returning to Wybers Wood and Estcourt Primary academies for book signings, we were overwhelmed with the response. So many avid fans waiting to get their hands on the books as well as getting involved in writing creepy stories of their own. Huge thanks to Nathan and Carol for all their support. On returning home I found 84 notifications on my Twitter account, showing loads of lovely tweets and pics relating to our visits.

               Another ‘Delta Delight’

After more wonderfully inspiring visits to Park View Primary in Leeds and Hatfield Woodhouse in Doncaster, it was back on the road to Grimsby to visit Macaulay Primary and The Strand Primary. We took the opportunity to visit nearby Cleethorpes where many of my childhood holidays were spent. I recall passing many a rainy day in a caravan in Cleethorpes, tackling jigsaws and any other activity guaranteed to while away the inclement weather!! In fact, we were truly surprised by how much this little East Coast resort had re-invented itself. It had some very attractive sea-frontage. One evening we visited the pier and had first class fish and chips in Papa’s – scrumptious to say the least!

…Back to the schools….fantastic in every way!!  The pupils and staff were

           First class fish n’ chips!

so welcoming and raved on about our books after each of our visits. One of the schools – The Strand Primary – even had a ghost of its own!  The phantom Lady Doherty – who opened the school in distant days gone by!  Surely a great opportunity for the pupils to come up with a creepy narrative of their own! Special thanks to Laura for sending us for lunch in the nearby Freshney Place – great!

More big book-signings and more almost tearful farewells and Kath and I were back on the M180 returning to our South Yorkshire base to recharge ready for World Book Week. And guess where we’ll be…correct! More Delta Trust schools. Well…why not?  So far the Delta Academy Trust has been a real pleasure to work with. Bring it on…

PJM

DELTA BEGINNINGS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 3rd, 2019 5:10 pm Comments Off on DELTA BEGINNINGS!

After being invited to be Patron of Reading for the Delta Academy Trust, Kath and I were very excited to commence our school visits.

       Delta Academy Trust here we come!

First port of call – and it really was a port – Estcourt Primary Academy in Hull. Mr Ullah was our host and what a great host he was. Everything was beautifully organised and before long it was all systems go in front of a great KS2 audience; enthusing and enthralling Years 3 to 6 with our tales of Mokee Joe. Will we ever forget the look of real terror on Harry’s face as he was chased by yours truly in the guise of the tall monster! In the afternoon we provided a workshop with Years 5 and 6 on ‘How to write a seriously, scary, short story’, based on our Ten O’ Clock Caller collection. Again, great fun and the pupils were a pleasure to work with. We return next week to provide a book signing and it should be fun. I’m just hoping they don’t forget us. I’m guessing not!

Second school of the week was a bit nearer to our Rotherham base – Crookesbroom Primary in Hatfield, near

     Some of our fans at Crookesbroom.

Doncaster.  Things were looking good!  Another lovely ‘Delta Welcome’ and another lovely school to work in. The response, yet again, from the pupils was nothing short of ‘A-mazing’! We had another great day including a repeat of the workshop on short story writing  in the afternoon. We returned to our home-base in rapidly deteriorating weather feeling very happy,  and wondering if we would make our third Delta visit the next day!

Final visit of the week was our Wednesday visit to Serlby Park Academy in Bircotes, another school close to our home base – Brilliant! Another great welcome and more lovely hosts: it was deffo another 3/3 as our third Delta School ensured we had a  great time. The school and campus is only 3 years old and incorporates a senior school. We were very impressed by the build as a somewhat-larger KS2 audience took up position in a lovely hall with a very large screen and projector. Hence, Years 3 to 6 loved the imagery offered with our Mokee Joe presentation during the morning and Ten O’ Clock Caller workshop after lunch.

Thursday and Friday saw book-signings at a number of schools, including Crookesbroom and Serlby Park, and the queues of avid fans awaiting our arrival were a clear indication that our audiences were ‘hooked’ and ready to digest our spooky tales.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Heads, staff and pupils for looking after us so well and ensuring our Delta experiences started so well. Tomorrow we head back over to the Humber Estuary to visit another Delta school (Wybers Wood Academy) and will return to Estcourt Primary on Wednesday for a book signing. Can’t wait!

Oh well…three down and only another 29 Delta primaries to go. Brilliant!

 

PJM

NORTHERN LIGHTS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 25th, 2019 2:47 pm Comments Off on NORTHERN LIGHTS

Two great schools visits took place close to our roots in South Yorkshire….Barnburgh Primary and Maltby Manor Academy.

              Nowhere is safe!

We had a great time at both schools, starting with Barnburgh Primary near Doncaster. The school is close by some popular fishing lakes, so I couldn’t wait to visit both school and lakes to ‘suss’ them out!  It happened that the weather was bitingly cold and hence the lovely warm atmosphere of the school was far more welcoming than the bitter, bleak surroundings of the  fishing lakes!  Mr Taylor and his KS2 audience were delightful…as was everyone who we met at the school. As usually happens, Mokee Joe swept the audience of their feet and by the end of the morning the school was awash with ‘Mokee Joe Mania’!  But nothing could have prepared us for the book-signing the next day! Years 3 to 6 snapped up all

           Great display at Barnburgh!

books on offer to the point where we had to arrange a re-visit next week following an imminent book delivery to top up supplies. It is a real credit to the school to see the ‘love of reading’ existing throughout the community. We can’t wait to be back and hope to build a relationship with Barnburgh Primary  over the coming years. Oh yes…and by the way…we loved the World War 1 Poppy Display at Barnburgh! This is the subject of my new book out in September – watch this space!

Next visit was to Maltby Manor Academy where we have family connections! Miley, in Year 3, is the daughter of our niece, Donna, the very person who inspired me to become an author. It was Donna who reminded us of the childhood game, Mokee Joe, in which I chased her and other family members in a scary game of hide and seek, dressed up as the infamous spooky character (Big black hat and big, scruffy coat).

The 2-form KS2 audience sat spellbound as we took them  through the entire Mokee Joe story, from books 1 to 6. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the pupils were a real credit to the staff in the way they interacted positively at every opportunity. Due to the enormous success at Barnburgh, we had nowhere near enough books to offer a next-day book-signing at Maltby Manor. However, supplies are due early next week and we will be returning to both schools to fulfil the needs of our avid fans. We can’t wait!

Thank you to Barnburgh and Malty Manor for giving us such a good time. We loved every moment of it, and sense very much that you did too. See you soon.

PJM

LOVELY IN LUTON

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 19th, 2019 12:27 pm Comments Off on LOVELY IN LUTON

 

             One VERY happy Dallow fan!

We got the New Year off to a great start with two visits to Luton schools. Dallow Primary are ‘old’ friends and Lark Rise Primary were new to us.

For the first time, Dallow Primary gave us all of their large KS2 group and Years 3 and 4 joined in the fun. Mokee Joe made a dramatic appearance and even chased an unsuspecting Year 3 around the hall! The hour and a half passed extremely quickly as we took the fab audience for an action-packed ride through all six books of the Mokee Joe series. The book signing, a few days later, proved conclusively that all Dallow year groups had been ‘hooked’ by (what we like to call) ‘Mokee Joe Mania’ as queues of pupils waited patiently to acquire signed copies of our books. A huge ‘thank you’ to Ms Trotman and all Dallow staff in general for making Kath and I feel so welcome. We had a brilliant time and can’t wait to be back.

Next visit was to a new school to us – Lark Rise Primary in nearby Dunstable. Once again the school KS2 audience proved enthusiastic, attentive and interactive in the best possible way. And once again Mokee Joe appeared and entertained all with his spooky exploits. After a great morning  in school and a restful lunch in a nearby café, we returned to perform a workshop on ‘scary-story writing’ with Year 6. I have to say it was one of the most memorable afternoons Kath and I have enjoyed for a long time. We even put together a scary story revolving

around Lark Rise and let’s just say that no-one will be suggesting a reason for spending a night in the school for a very long time…if ever!  The Year 6’s were just great and a pleasure to work with.

Once again the ensuing book signing was extremely well-attended and organised by the school in brilliant fashion!  A ‘HUGE’ thank you to Ms. Francis and all of the staff for being such friendly and helpful hosts. We so enjoyed our first visit to Lark Rise and sincerely hope to be invited back in the not-too-distant future.

Have a lovely weekend everyone…and don’t have nightmares!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO ALL OUR FANS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 4th, 2019 2:46 pm Comments Off on HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO ALL OUR FANS!

After a relaxing (sometimes tiring!) Christmas and New Year holiday, we are really keen to get back into schools to do what we do best, promote a love of reading…especially our very own creepy, action-packed stories!

                   There’s someone standing right behind you!

It should be a VERY exciting year ahead with my new book to be published around September, and a wonderful new academy trust to work with. The academy trust in question is keen for me to be their ‘Patron of Reading’ and with around 50 schools in the trust this should be more than enough to keep Kath and I VERY busy….Brilliant! 

Of all of our books, it has become increasingly evident that the Mokee Joe books are the most popular of all. There is something a little bit special about the creature that got me into writing in the first place and his everlasting battle to bring down the hero, Hudson Brown and his two friends, Molly Stevens and Ashley Swift. For this reason, we have decided to concentrate on the Mokee Joe series (six books in total) during 2019, as well as devoting a great deal of time to the new book as soon as it’s released. Paul Davies, our amazing cover artist, has read the new  book (title still a secret!) and he loves it. He will be speaking to me in just over a week’s time to discuss the cover and I just know it will prove to be the best cover yet! (No pressure, Paul!) Something else to look forward to is that the new  book will be my first ever story published in a hard-back edition…very exciting!

Oh well…I’m going out now. The sun is shining – though it’s very cold – but it’s good to get out and get the old brain ticking over. Lots to think about!  Hope you’ve all had a good Christmas break and I’ll bet anything that you’re just dying to get back to your schools next week…not!

All our very best wishes for 2019 and Kath and I will hope to meet up with you again before too long. Bye for now.

PJM

THE CHARM OF YARM

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 19th, 2018 2:45 pm Comments Off on THE CHARM OF YARM

We finished off our term by travelling up to one of our favourite places to stay – especially at Christmas! Yarm, near Stockton, in the NE, is a market town full of period charm with it’s cobbled High Street and narrow alleyways leading off (Wynds); some down to the riverside – all very Christmassy at this time of the year.

      Pete with ‘mega fan’ Hannah, at Conyers

Conyers High School is such a lovely school to visit- always with a new cohort of Year 7’s eagerly awaiting us as well as lots of older fans who’ve met with us on earlier visits. Ms Dawson, the school’s librarian, was soon by our side, organising the presentation beautifully as well as providing much-needed refreshments throughout the visit. Bonebreaker, Dawn Demons and PS13 were our chosen books to thrill and scare our audience with. Once again the presentation went down a storm as several brave Year 7’s joined us on stage to help bring the books to life. Too soon it was all over and Kath and I found ourselves in Yarm centre devouring cakes and coffee in our favourite restaurant, Cena. We met up with our really good friend (and chef), Peter Huggins – affectionately known as ‘Peter Popps’, and we were soon booking an evening meal for later in the week; something to really look forward to.

Next and final school of the term was a new visit for us – Northfield School in nearby Billingham. Laura and

               A Dawn Demons fan!

Mandy, the school’s librarians, were eagerly awaiting us, keen to ensure that everything would run smoothly. Kath and I were also keen to finish our term on a high note and hence everyone hoped the bigger audience of 300+ Year 7’s would enjoy the experience.

…Well, all I can say is that things just could not have gone better. The presentation was a repeat of that at Conyers, and once again budding Year 7 actors and actresses rose to the occasion and did what they had to do with confidence and aplomb! The book-signing the next day also proved a huge success. A thronging crowd of Year 7’s waited with a mixture of excitement and anticipation in a never-ending queue to get their books and have them signed. Fantastic!

                     Big fans at Northfield

After leaving our happy librarians (massive thanks to Kim, Laura and Mandy!), we headed back to Yarm Cottages to rest before enjoying our fab evening meal back at Cena. This all proved a great way to end the term – though we are already excited about being back with my new book next year.

‘MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE AT CONYERS AND NORTHFIELD – HAVE A GOOD ONE…AND KEEP ON READING (even if our books do give you nightmares!)

PJM

 

WONDERFUL WHITLEY BAY

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 28th, 2018 10:37 am Comments Off on WONDERFUL WHITLEY BAY

A very busy week ahead of us, we headed up to the NE to seek out the newly refurbished Spanish City area in non other than Whitley Bay – a haunt of some of our most favourite schools!

Seaton Sluice, Valley Gardens and Whytrig…all brilliant middle schools, and a smaller primary school mid-week, St Teresa’s RC Primary, made for a hectic but fantastic week in this lovely part of the world.

The ‘Mokee Joe Finale Presentation’ was performed at each of these schools and to say the audiences were enthusiastic and receptive is an understatement! We had a fab time at each school and returned to our hotel feeling a great sense of fulfilment.  One evening  I was in such a good mood I put on my running gear and headed off down the promenade to St Mary’s lighthouse! It was a stunning run on the way there, but on the way back black clouds suddenly moved in off the sea and I got drenched! C’est la Vie!

            Great coffee and cake!

Some great moments during the week both in and out school! Of course visits to our favourite coffee shops…Coastline up near Seaton Sluice and Crusoes…always a stop-off after Valley Gardens. And Marshalls in Tynemouth for the best-ever fish and chips!

…And will we ever forget Molly at St Teresa’s being chased by yours truly dressed as Mokee Joe!  When cornered, she stopped dead, turned round and ordered me to ‘WAIT!’ as she calmly returned to her place. Exactly what Molly would have done in the Mokee Joe adventures!  (We didn’t even know the girl was called Molly when we picked her to come on stage…spooky!)

Will we ever forget the MASSIVE audience of Years 5 and 6 at Valley Gardens…along with the staff

Love the seaside views from Crusoes!

they joined in and made the presentation truly memorable for all the right reasons. Can we ever thank Pauline enough for helping us in so many ways. She seemed to ‘wear so many hats’, one of them being librarian and organising a huge book-signing with perfect precision.  She also ran the first aid department and was later seen wearing her high-viz clothing to go out on duty! Of course, it was also great to join forces again with our good friend Jon Roys from Rotherham, who helped organise the presentation with his usual cool and totally efficient approach! Good on yer Jon!!

Seaton Sluice and Seaton Delaval (Whytrig)…full of keen fans and avid readers and so easy to get along with. Both book-signings were an absolute pleasure. And on our last day it was ‘Children in Need’ day and Whytrig threw themselves into it totally!  We were so impressed by the school’s effort to make this day the special one it deserves to be!

Many thanks to all our friends and fans in the NE…we will be back soon with the new book and we just know you’re gonna luv it!!

PJM

 

LUVLY JUBLY!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 19th, 2018 5:01 pm Comments Off on LUVLY JUBLY!

Three ‘cracking’ schools…three fab experiences…hopefully for our audiences as much as for us! We had the best time ever with Herringthorpe Juniors, Sir Edmund Hillary Primary and Pheasant Bank Academy. Luvly Jubly!

Let’s start with Herringthorpe Juniors – VERY local to the setting of the Mokee Joe books. In fact the hero of the books, Hudson Brown, lives very close to the school on Tennyson Road. His best friend and co-hero, Molly Stevens, lives on nearby Browning Road. Our KS2 audience could hardly believe it!  We entertained the juniors with two separate performances, lower KS2 followed after break by upper KS2. Due to this arrangement, the presentations were extremely fast and both audiences and myself hardly had time to take a breath! Things must have gone down well, because the book-signing the next day seemed endless; so many eager fans desperate to read the books! I was even accosted (in a nice way!) by a very eager parent in the office area, so excited to get her hands on the latest and final Mokee Joe book. It turned out she had been a Year 4 during one of my first school visits at the beginning of my author career and had the rest of the books! It was both very flattering and, at the same time, it made me realise how old I’m getting! Time stops for no-one…not even the author of Mokee Joe!

Sir Edmund Hillary Primary next, in Worksop. We visit this school every two years to see Years 5 and 6. We are always guaranteed a great time, so many lovely pupils and staff giving us a great reception. No Mokee Joe this time! We presented Scabbajack, Ten O’ Clock Caller and my recently resurrected collection of spooky stories, PS13. The presentation went down a storm, as did a workshop in the afternoon with Year 5 on ‘How to write a seriously, scary short story’ (good alliteration!).  Again, a fab book-signing the next day with so many avid readers waiting to digest the books. Thanks to everyone…see you all again in two years time!

A-maze-ing library!
A-maze-ing library helpers!

As if the week hadn’t gone well enough already, our last visit of the week was more than special! Pheasant Bank Academy in Rossington, near Doncaster, is responsible for inspiring my very next book!  Will we ever forget the display of blood-red blooms lining the car park during our first visit to this great school some time ago! The blood-red blooms in question were poppies and the mystery of how they got there sent my brain and imagination into overdrive to come up with a gripping, action-packed story themed on World War One. Of course the story has to be spooky to fit in with my genre, and believe me it really is! Miss Robinson was more than keen to allow me to use the name of her school in the book and to even to use her own name as the fictitious head of the school. I thought this was very brave of her as she hasn’t read the narrative yet and has no idea what she gets up to!  On this occasion, though, our visit was to officially open the new school library and in addition to throw in a ‘little’ presentation to all 350 + of her amazing KS2 juniors.  Once again we loved it and everyone seemed to have a great time. The library was opened just prior to the book-signing the next day and I was more than pleased to cut the ribbon alongside her VERY willing band of library helpers. The school and library have to be seen to be believed…wonderfully painted walls everywhere depicting different time eras…all down to the talents of a wonderful artist who we’ve had the pleasure of meeting on previous occasions at Whetley Academy in Bradford, a school in the same trust as Pheasant Bank (Delta Trust).

I shall be keeping in touch with Pheasant Bank Academy over the coming months in preparation for the publication of my new book (title still a secret!) and looking very much forward to launching the book there around September next year.   I have a meeting planned with Paul Davies, our brilliant cover artist, in a few weeks time and I just know he is going to come up with my best book cover yet! All very exciting!

Watch this space!

PJM

THANK YOU RICHARD COATES PRIMARY

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 10th, 2018 6:20 pm Comments Off on THANK YOU RICHARD COATES PRIMARY

I was so pleased to be handed a wad of lovely letters from fans at Richard Coates Primary School a few weeks ago. Having just got round to reading them – I’m even more pleased! A HUGE ‘thank you’ to:

…Grace, Zac, Ivy, William. L, Evie, Ava, Mya, Max, Ewan, Charlie, Gabriel…and to someone who forgot to sign their name!

Every letter was well-written, full of complements (great!) and so many questions! Far too many questions to answer, but the most popular question seemed to be ‘What is your favourite book?’ so I’ll answer that one and say I have loved writing every one of them, but the very first book is always special to an author…so I will say ‘Mokee Joe is Coming!’ has to be my favourite.

I read the letters in my office, right beneath my Mokee Joe framed poster. (See

One of my lovely letters from Richard Coates fans.

pic). I’ve also taken a picture of one of the letters to see if the writer can identify it?

Well…thank you again at Richard Coates for taking the trouble to get in touch and I hope to see you very soon with my brand new book; it should be out by next September. Watch this space, as they say!

Bye…

PJM

 

VIP TREATMENT IN LUTON

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 1st, 2018 7:16 pm Comments Off on VIP TREATMENT IN LUTON

Next stop, Denbigh High School – old friends of ours! Hence the VIP treatment and a parking space reserved for us on our arrival! VERY much appreciated!

    VIP treatment at Denbigh High

Over 250 Year 7’s sat for most of the morning listening to me rave on and on about our super-scary stories, and just in time for Halloween. Excellent! As usual, the Denbigh audience sat in nerve-shredding silence, frustration growing as I left them on a string of ‘cliff-hanger’ endings. After a well-received lunch, we were back in our favourite place – the school library. Two workshops passed at lightning speed and I have to say that I particularly enjoyed chatting to seven Year 8 boys about my books and reading in general. They, like everyone else, were a delight to be with. Denbigh High School is always a pleasure to visit and our thanks go to the pupils and staff for giving us the usual high level of hospitality during our stay. A special vote of thanks to Mr Amjad for looking after us so well and ensuring everything passed smoothly. See you all the book-signing on Friday.

Final visit of the week was to Putteridge High School…a school new to us. Around 180 Year 7’s this time…a good few less than the previous two Luton schools; but what they lacked in number they more than made up for in enthusiasm and attentiveness! The atmosphere during the presentation was ‘electric’ to say the least. Lots of  great interaction and stacks of correct answers to our questions resulted in a good number of free bookmarks being awarded to an ever-growing number of fans!

…So another BIG thank you to all at Putteridge High School for providing a fab end to our Luton Week and to Ms Jablonska for being the perfect hostess. We can’t wait to see you all again. We sincerely hope this is the beginning of a long and lasting author-school relationship…but only if you are brave enough!

PJM

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