Oh no! Haven’t updated for weeeeeks! What has happened? It is odd isn’t it right now? I have sometimes found work very hard, sometimes impossible, and sometimes flowing just right.
What have I been up to? Well on World Book Day I will be here https://thechildrensbookshow.com/ I’ll be in conversation with Nicolette Jones, who writes about Children’s books for The Times, and is a genuine fount of knowledge.
SOUTHWARK – the TV series adapted from The Black Tudors book (see below) is a step closer to your screens, https://variety.com/2020/tv/global/britbox-uk-southwark-black-tudors-drama-miranda-kaufman-book-1234804154/
And at the end of last year the game I was working on I AM DEAD came out. There’s a walk through here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvcOYP47xT0
It was so interesting and such a lot of fun, the artist, Dick Hogg, and the developer, Ricky Haggett at Hollowponds were great to work with. And for the first time in my life I wrote the words to a song, a sea shanty. I am also a character in the game, the new museum curator, and this is me in the game!
Also something very exciting is one of my favourite books of the past A NEST OF VIPERS is being issued with a snazzy new cover and – parps own trumpet- as a PUFFIN! When I grew up I would never imagine that I would have my own title as an actual Puffin. Am thrilled!
Lots of news, in these weird spring days, and there does seem to be something of a theme.The Dumas book is out with Bloomsbury in July and now has a wonderful title – TO LIBERTY! and the history of Nanny, QUEEN OF FREEDOM, is out with Pushkin in August. Meantime I’m the Authorgraph in Books For Keeps this month, you can read here….http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/issue/241/childrens-books/articles/authorgraph/authorgraph-241-catherine-johnson
October update! More lovely news FREEDOM has been chosen by IBBY, the international board for books for young people as it’s honour list title for 2020 https://ibby.org.uk/2020-honour-list-nominees/ . I still cannot believe it. Past honour listed books include The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price, and The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce. I have to spit hard on my good fortune.
This year has been the fastest and the busiest for me. I have had an amazing summer. I have letters to put after my name – I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature – this photo was taken at the ceremony. Unbelievably the other new Fellows included Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge and massive heroine. Safe to say I will not be disclosing what we were talking about, but she is as brilliant and funny and incredible as you could imagine. Honestly I was shaking before this when I had to sign the Fellows’ book. I knew it was an honour and a massive privilege, and I know I have a decent reputation as reliable jill of all trades and safe pair of hands, but I had not realised the calibre of my fellow fellows – see picture below – and have never felt more impostery in my life. Luckily Mary Beard was on hand to make me feel at home.
Fellow Fellows including; Nikesh Shukla, Dorothea Smartt, Stephen Fry, Armando Iannuci, David Olusoga….
Then the wonderful Little Rebel Award. I have been the judge for this, in fact, just last year I handed the prize to the wonderful Zanib Mian, whose winning book, The Muslims, has since been swept into legendary status as the Planet Omar series. Other past winners include Alexis Deacon and Viv Schwarz’s Henry Finch and Ada Twist Scientist, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, as well as books by Gill Lewis, Gillian Cross and Sarah Garland. It’s an amazing prize, set up by the Association of Radical Booksellers and you can find out about it here https://littlerebels.org/
It’s a real honour, as someone who has spent my writing life writing the sorts of books that do alright, that gain a – shall we say – select readership, this prize is special. It’s about social justice, it’s about saying young lives and young people’s opinions are vital, and it’s about books that deliver fantastic stories. I can’t thank the judges enough for choosing Freedom from a brilliant shortlist that included The Ghosts and Jamal by Bridget Blankley, Across the Divide by Anne Booth,Running on Empty by S.E. Durrant, The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth, Tomorrow by Nadine Kadaan, and The New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre.
Otherwise? I’m still writing the amazing Black Tudors project for Silverprint Pictures, I’m working on a computer game featuring a psychopomp (look it up!) in the form of a silken wind hound, and have written about this all round fantastic man, Colonel Thomas- Alexandre Dumas for Bloomsbury – out next year I think (hope).
Oh and there have been a couple of Arvons, always hard work and good fun, look them up here – https://www.arvon.org/about/arvon-home-of-creative-writing/ – one in Lumb Bank, Yorkshire which I taught with Marcus Sedgewick (I since found among the books I had of his at home, one actual signed copy – Revolver is still one of my utter favourites) where I met some lovely new writers, and another that I am off to next week in Shropshire co tutoring with poet Cliff Yates. I’m still teaching for Curtis Brown Creative, one of my students had her debut published this summer; Anne- Marie Howell with The Garden of Lost Secrets, and others have been agented or had wonderful deals heading their way.
So that’s it for another six months I expect. I am hard at work with the TV job and it is so the best and most exciting thing I have ever done. Fingers crossed it flies….
In the meantime here is me and Marcus Sedgewick and some trees. Pic by Claire McNamee
also if you do need up to date ranting from me try @catwrote on twitter or for Insta @catherinerebeccajohnson
Excuse me but I am BACK! Life has been suitably hectic, I’ve moved house, had books nominated for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the YA book prize and written for Holby City. My children have left home, my poor old cat, Noko has died, but I am still writing, this year marks my twenty fifth (I know!) year as a published writer. And there have been two, (TWO) new books last year, FREEDOM, from Scholastic, which has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and RACE TO THE FROZEN NORTH from the ever lovely Barrington Stoke.
I am currently working on two spectacular projects, both total dreams come true. The first is in a brand new medium for me, I am working on a computer game and it has been so much fun! Can’t say any more than that, but the art and the world are amazing.
Secondly, I have hit writing gold with a job that could not be bettered – I am lead writer on an adaptation of Miranda Kaufmann’s book BLACK TUDORS for Silverprint Pictures (Shetland, Vera, Jericho). We’re hammering a thrilling drama out of impeccably researched source material that will give viewers a view of London and our history that is fresh and compelling. Clearly we’ve mountains to climb before anything happens, but you would not believe the joy this is bringing me right now. http://www.mirandakaufmann.com/black-tudors.html
I have to thank the lovely folk at https://www.letterboxlibrary.com/ who do a sterling job selling my books – if you want to buy anywhere spend your money with them, they are seriously the best booksellers in Britain!
Next year holds lots of surprises and new beginnings. I can’t tell you about all of them, but there will be more books eventually and perhaps some work in other mediums as well. I’ve been to Brussels this year with Speaking Volumes and have two books to finish, one of which is my first adult novel. I also have work in Margaret Busby’s seminal DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA anthology, out in March.
In the meantime enjoy this drawing of me spouting on about Black British History at last years SCWBI conference by the wonderfully talented Imogen Foxell.
I am still talking and writing about Black British history and if you’d like me to visit your school or college get in touch. Look forward to meeting you in 2019….