The Mighty Nose Awards

This year I was lucky enough to be one of the judges for the Mighty Nose Awards, along with Richard E Grant, actor and perfumier, and Nicky Cox, editor of First News.

I’ve judged several writing competitions, but this one was particularly enjoyable, because all the entries were focused on smell. During the judging process, we three judges were asked to award points for “originality; quality of writing; and lively depiction of smells”.

You can read more about the awards on the Marty the Mighty website – http://www.martythemightynose.org/ – and find out how to enter the 2017 awards. Anyone aged between 7 and 11 can enter, and the closing date is the end of this year.

Here’s a short film which shows the judging process and features the judges reading some of winning poems:

 

More Grk books?

A few days ago I got an email from a reader named Nico:

Hi Josh I really like your Grk series and I would be really EXCITED about more!

I wrote back to him, but my reply bounced. If you’re Nico, please do write to me again, but give me your correct email address this time.

I’ll answer Nico’s question here anyway. As you’ll know if you have read the Grk books, each of them is set in a different country. I had a dream that Grk might travel to every country in the world, although that would mean writing 196 books. And perhaps he would travel to the moon too, like his fictional ancestor Snowy, bringing the total up to 197.

But at the moment, my time is taken up with the Dragonsitter instead, so I don’t know when, or if, I will ever return to the further adventures of Tim, Grk, Max and Natascha.

Cholsey and Agatha Christie

Just around the corner from Cholsey Primary School, where I am currently the Patron of Reading, is a small and beautiful church. When I was visiting the school a couple of weeks ago – I’ll write about that visit here very soon – I nipped away at lunchtime and, rather than sitting in the staffroom, wandered through the churchyard, past mossy graves, to a heavy stone squatting in the furthest corner from the entrance. This grave belongs to Agatha Christie, who lived a couple of miles away on the outskirts of Wallingford, and attended the church.

Here is the front of the grave:

This is taken from the other side, with the church in the background:

 

And here is the entrance to Cholsey church:

 

Next time I visit Cholsey, I’m planning to walk across the fields to Christie’s home, Winterbrook House. And I’ll also ask the children at the school how much they know about their famous neighbour, and whether any of them have read or watched the exploits of Poirot and Miss Marple.

Roald Dahl Museum – Writer-in-Residence

I’m very pleased that I’m going to be Writer-in-Residence at the lovely Roald Dahl Museum for the next few months.

I’ll be working on a book of my own – and perhaps I’ll get a chance to sit in Roald Dahl’s chair, which is now in the museum, along with all the other objects from the shed where he wrote his books.

I’ll also be spending some time in the museum’s archives. I’ve already had a look around and seen some of Dahl’s notebooks, letters and early drafts, which are absolutely fascinating. I also saw two Oompa-Loompas lying on top of a cupboard, wrapped in bubble-wrap. They were the models made for the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and are oddly creepy.

I’ll also be visiting five schools in Buckingshire and working with several different classes, talking to them about my books and Dahl’s, and working with them on their own stories.

I’ll be doing several events at the museum, some alone and others with Garry Parsons, who illustrated The Dragonsitter. Please come along if you can. And if you can’t, you should try to visit the museum another time – it’s a wonderful place.