From the Curious Fox birthday party

You may have noticed (it’s not as if we’ve kept it a secret) that Curious Fox has just turned one. Obviously that means a birthday party is in order, and that’s exactly what we had last night in London.

We were very lucky to have loads of our authors along, and guest appearances from Batman and Superman, no less!Ann, Jasmine, Superman, Jackie, LauraStewart, Batman, Laura

No party would be complete without a birthday cake, and even if we do say so ourself, this one was pretty special:

Cake

A huge thank you to everybody who came along – it was great to see you all, and we can’t wait until our second birthday!

Jewellery students take the Amber design challenge

If you’ve read the brilliant Amber by Julie Sykes (and if you haven’t, you really should), you’ll know that it features a piece of amber jewellery (hence the name – clever, see?) that our heroine has.

Amber-cover

The necklace forms a pivotal part of the story, and we challenged jewellery students at Basingstoke College of Technology to design and make a piece of jewellery inspired by AMBER’s necklace and the sci-fi setting of the story.

Students spent the autumn term designing and making their pieces. In the run-up to Christmas, AMBER author Julie Sykes popped along to one of the classes to choose her favourite piece and award a winner their prize: a voucher for jewellery-making tools and a signed copy of the book.

The standard was remarkably high. Here are the top three entries:

Top three pieces of jewellery

But there had to be one winner – the winning piece was designed by Amanda Westbrook. Here she is (on the left), holding the winning piece and collecting her prize from Julie.

(l-r) Amanda Westbrook and Julie Sykes

After judging, Julie said “It’s such a great to idea to mix the worlds of fashion, jewellery and books, they’re all areas young people are passionate about.

“The standard of jewellery was really high and everyone was so nice. It was hard to pick a winner when it was obvious that all three ladies had put so much effort into their pieces.

“However, I did have a favourite. I picked it for two reasons. The shape was very close to the lightening shaped bolt of gold through Amber’s necklace. Also, it was a delicate necklace and Amber loves delicate jewellery.”

WELL DONE Amanda, and everybody who entered the competition.

Books, Shopping, Cupcakes and Smiles

You know one of the nicest parts of my job? When I get to tell someone they have won a competition.  This time it was extra special because it was quite some prize.  Along with Foyles we ran a Diary of a Mall Girl competition in Bliss Magazine, with the winners getting a £150 shopping spree, a manicure, a blow dry and a book picnic party with Luisa Plaja! Not bad huh?

So on Saturday we greeted three very excited and lovely girls, Anna (the winner), Chloe and Lydia (her friends), and Anna’s mum Mirella, and began their whirlwind day at Westfield.

First, off to get their nails done:

Looking good!

Then a quick walk across the mall for a blow dry and style:

Looking glamorous and chatting to Luisa Plaja about Diary of a Mall Girl, teen fiction and writing:

Getting their copies of Diary of a Mall Girl signed:

Then, appetites built by lots of walking and learning about the life of an author, it was time for cupcake decorating!

And there the day ended for us, with smiles and sugar! But for the girls it was time to go and shop till they dropped!

 

 

 

 

 

What a great day it was, a big thank you to Anna, Chloe, Lydia and Mirella for being so much fun, to Luisa for being a star again, Foyles, Bliss and Westfield and to the rest of the CF team for making it all happen.

Can we do it again this weekend please?

The Fox

What do you think about Science?

Curious Fox are a new publishing company creating books for curious minds. This September we are publishing an exciting novel for teenagers called Red Rock. To tie in with this book, which is written by a marine scientist, we are asking for young people to answer the below survey on attitudes to science. It’s anonymous and very quick (will take about three minutes).

Fill in the survey here.

To give you an incentive, we’re going to choose 10 people at random, who complete the survey, to receive a free Curious Fox book of their choice!

You must aged between 11 – 18 to complete this survey.

Thank you!
The Fox

From Swindon to Hay, with glitter and cupcakes along the way…

To celebrate the release of Diary of a Mall Girl at Curious Fox, I (that’s me, Luisa Plaja) travelled up and down the country visiting schools and libraries for fun-packed and glamorous events. Here are some highlights…

– In Swindon, I spoke to a huge room full of girls at the Isambard Community School. This is a school that plays music in the lunch hall and has an animal room for the use of students  – yes, an entire classroom filled with pets. The lovely staff gave me a full tour, and I was extremely impressed. Thank you to the library staff and all the students! (Read Swindon Library’s roundup here.)

Bristol Central Library’s event gave me my first beauty demo experience. Two already-stunning models were given makeovers before my eyes as I attempted to take mental notes and pictures. This was also my first experience of the fabulous Curious Fox goodie bags. The youngsters in the audience tucked into their lipstick lollies as I chatted to them, and at one stage I was faced with a row of girls whistling into their empty lolly cases. Fun!

– Next stop: Edinburgh! A fantastic turnout at Sighthill Library, where there was bath-bomb making and glitzy cupcake-eating, thanks to the Glitz Lit crew. The writeup on the Edinburgh Library website suggests that I was overwhelmed by the success of the evening – and they’re right!

Barnstaple Library in my home county of Devon put on a huge array of activities – there was something for everyone! A nearby college provided practical hair and beauty hints, hand massage and nail design was available, and we could make our own smoothies. The Body Shop was there and so were the lovely staff from Barnstaple Waterstone’s. It was a magical night.

Bromborough Library hosted a truly wonderful evening filled with quizzes, competitions, mocktails and fun. Read all about it here.

– There were fabulous pink drinks, cupcakes and snacks at Chester Library, a talk and demo from The Body Shop, and lots of Girl Guides in the audience. Some of the students and staff of the school I’d visited earlier even stopped by to see me again!

– Finally, I reached the Northeastern leg of my tour, and my first stop was in Stockton-on-Tees. An absolutely brilliant, fun-packed event was put on by Stockton Library. There were craft tables, makeup tables, nail art, Wii dancing and much more. The lively gathering of teenagers asked me some fantastic questions and made me feel like a superstar!

Newcastle Library put on an amazing hair demonstration as part of a lovely night in the beautiful city centre. And so ended the Lipstick Library Tour.

Then there was the Hay Festival… Oh, what a wonderful time I had at Hay, beneath the artificial stars of the Starlight Stage! I got two small people to interview me about it, and you can read the transcript at Girls Heart Books.

And it’s not over yet! Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the mall… Mall Girl hits Westfield, London!  All readers are very welcome to come and decorate cakes with me at Foyles, Westfield on Saturday 6th July from 1.30pm, find out more here.

Thank you very much to all the inspiring and wonderful book-lovers I met on this tour. A special mention has to go to the people who made it all possible. Thank you, Curious Fox team!

Luisa Plaja
xxx

The Soul Shadows Tour – Guest Blog by Alex woolf

The Soul Shadows Tour

I’ve had a fantastic time recently, promoting my new book Soul Shadows. I visited four schools in all and spoke to over four hundred students…

CITY OF LONDON SCHOOL
My first visit was to this magnificent boys’ school in the heart of the city, overlooked by St Pauls Cathedral and just across the river from the Globe Theatre. I was a little overawed at first by the size and imposing atmosphere of the school, but David Rose, the school librarian, made me feel very welcome. To my great relief, the tiny memory stick containing my powerpoint file did not fail me, and the slides duly appeared on the screen at the touch of a button. This was something of a revelation to me as I’ve never given a talk using powerpoint before. I spoke to three classes in all, and got some magnificent questions. My talk really seemed to fire their imaginations. One boy asked if multiple soul shadows from the same person was possible. Another asked if shadows themselves could generate shadows. I said these suggestions were brilliant, and I may well save them up for a sequel!

FORTISMERE SCHOOL
The following day I visited three schools in Haringey in the company of the tireless and magnificent Sean Edwards, the borough’s Children’s & Youth Libraries Manager. We got to our first school, Fortismere in Muswell Hill, at the improbably early hour of 8.45 and I was expecting to have a little time to set up, perhaps have a coffee. But as we walked into the library, it was already filled to the brim with eager students looking expectantly towards me! They then had to wait patiently while I fiddled around with my memory stick and located my reading glasses. However, as it turned out, they were a joy to speak to. The session ended with a great Q&A – always my favourite part of any talk, as it can lead into all sorts of unexpected territory. The toughest question came from a teacher: what is my favourite YA book? Gosh, I have so many, but why is it that whenever anyone asks that question, my mind always goes blank! I would like to thank Gill Ward, the school librarian, for setting everything up, including a lovely display of my previous books.

Fortismere School

Alex Woolf meets pupils at the Fortismere School

HIGHGATE WOOD SCHOOL
There was no parking available at our next school and we had to park at the local library. Kudos to the heroic Sean Edwards, who had to lug a heavy box of books up a very long, steep hill. I spoke to well over a hundred children at Highgate Wood – the entire Year 8, I believe – in a huge hall. The book cover of Soul Shadows has never looked so big or scary as it did on the humungous screen that filled the stage. Richard Lamb, the Learning Resources Centre Manager, said I must feel like a rock star today. I resisted performing my air guitar routine to the crowd, and instead focused on the book. Once again, I was really impressed with how attentive the students were, and the questions they asked, such as what inspired me to start writing and why do I like horror. Fortunately, no one asked me the questions that apparently a lot of authors have to face: how old are you, and how much do you earn?! A big thanks to Richard Lamb for organising things and taking photos.

Highgate School

Alex Woolf talking to pupils at Highgate School

HEARTLANDS SCHOOL
The final stop on this leg of the Soul Shadows tour was Heartlands School in Wood Green. After a quick tour of this impressive new school, I spoke to a class of bright and enthusiastic students. By this time I was feeling a little like a theatre actor reciting lines I’d said so often before. But the interest evident in the eyes of the audience reminded me that to them this is all brand new, and that helped me to keep my talk fresh and lively. Again, the questions were unpredictable and thoughtful. One student was intrigued by the interactive genesis of Soul Shadows (an earlier version of the book was published by Fiction Express, and at the end of each chapter readers were given a chance to vote on how the plot should continue). She asked what happened if I disagreed with a vote! I must thank Learning Resources Centre Manager Helen Swinyard for her help on the day, and for her enthusiastic tweeting about my visit.

All in all, it was an exhilarating couple of days. As a YA author I found it valuable and fascinating to meet with and talk to so many young readers. Their enthusiasm has filled me with hope for the future of books and reading, and given me a whole new lease of energy.

The Fox Prepares for a party!

We’re very excited in the Curious Fox office this week as we’re sending out invitations for our launch party!

We’re planning a little shindig in mid Janaury (yes, yes, we know – who holds a party in January?! But we’re planning on brightening up a depressing month and standing out from the crowd is what we’re all about after all!). We’re holding the launch at Dr Johnson’s house which is obviously very appropriate as the primary lexicographer of the english language (his Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755).

It’s going to be an event for our trade contacts, so that’s booksellers, librarians, reviewers, book bloggers and of course our dear authors and agents. It’s a chance for us to tell people what the ethos is behind Curious Fox, why we’re so excited to present our books to the world and how we hope to make the list a huge success. We’re also planning some brilliant ‘curiosity’ games to keep our guests guessing and spark that curiosity in us all. We’ll take lots of photos on the night so watch this space for a report, and, if an invitation lands on your desk this week, we look forward to seeing you soon.