Last year we flew over the bridge from… yes, you guessed it, The Bridge, and stayed in a Copenhagen hotel which later featured in The Bridge 2.
This year we were lucky enough to visit Stockholm for round two of Scandi Crime Bingo. It’s an amazing city and we had a fantastic and surprisingly sunny time, visiting the Vasa Museum, strolling round Gamla Stan, checking out the cool Bengt & Lotta designs and even squeezing in a trip to Kugens Kurva on the free shuttle bus to the largest IKEA store in the world.
But what made it even cooler was reading The Girl Who Played with Fire while I was there. I’m rather late to the Stieg Larsson party, I know, but I’m glad I waited because reading city-specific books in situ makes them extra-special. Practically every street or cafe that the characters visited was one we’d passed or walked down that day. Every view they saw out of their window was one I’d seen for real. And when two minor character stopped off at the Wayne’s Coffee on our road, just up from our hotel… well, I was practically there… in the book!
I trudged one poor member of our party round Södermalm to follow in Lisbeth’s Dragon Tattoo footsteps, checking out Lundagatan and Blomkvist’s place on Belmagatan. I even made everyone look at the Billy’s Frozen pizzas in the supermarket! It’s a little known fact but you get bonus bingo points for frozen fast food…
The Scandi Crime fest didn’t stop there though, oh no… We saw the Skansen wolverine pit where the body was discovered in Arne Dahl (no wolverines in sight but hey, I was excited enough by an empty pit) and then on the last day my husband spotted Saga Noren herself (or rather the actress Sofia Helin) on the main shopping street. I only have his word for it, sadly (I was looking the other way – probably thinking about Lisbeth Salander or what souvenir I could possibly buy that would make me feel like I lived in Stockholm rather than soggy old Devon), but he was pretty convinced. I make that a full house. BINGO!
A review of Squishy McFluff, The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones, illustrated by Ella Okstad, plus a cat costume for World Book Day and a giveaway
It’s raining again. The sky is a grimsome grizzly grey and I need the light on (at 11 o’clock in the morning) just to write this post. And, to make matters worse, it’s Monday. Again. *big sigh* But wait! All is not lost. Escape is at hand in the form of a fantastically free download of The Adventures of Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic from storycartel.com. And trust me, nothing scares away the rain clouds quicker than a herd of stinky space pirates! For readers in the US there’s even an opportunity to win Amazon.com gift cards by leaving a review. Reviews from readers everywhere are super-welcome too but I fear the official prize might be of little use to you. You do however *cue drumroll* get to win a lovely warm glow (ideal in this weather) and great bucketfuls of gratitude. Which, let’s face it, is more than most people win on Pointless.
In other exciting pirate news, I’ve just signed the contract for the sequel, Blackbeard’s Revenge (published by Knowonder later this year). Yes, Blackbeard’s back, with a brand new weapon and more juicy insults up his sleeve than tissues in a snotty sniffler’s cardigan cuffs. Twenty thousand times more in fact.*
*Or thereabouts, give or take the odd nineteen thousand, nine hundred and fifty-six.
Feeling flat and frazzled after the festivities? Lost your writing mojo somewhere in the wrapping paper recycling bag? Then why not try a glass or two of fiction fizz… the perfect pick-me-up for this time of year:
Fiction Fizz (serves 1)
1 fresh sprig of enthusiasm
a handful of new ideas
5-6 tablespoons of commitment
a dash of craziness
2 litres of blood, sweat and tears
magic sprinkles & glace cherries to garnish
1) Squeeze new ideas and blend until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 4-6 months.
2) Dilute to taste.
3) Serve in rose-coloured glasses and garnish with magic sprinkles and cherries. If you don’t have glace cherries to hand you could try signing with an agent or securing a dream publishing deal. Both of these are ideal ‘cherry on top’ alternatives.
Yes, I’m afraid so folks, it’s “that” time of year again. But don’t look so glum… Christmas shopping can be fun, if you know where to go. Why not forget about the blare and glare of the high street this year and check out some independent shops instead:
How about a little something for that magic person in your life?
or maybe a nice book for Dad?
Just make sure you don’t buy him this one….
It’s perfectly safe (I’m sure) but I think he’s already read it!
And no Christmas shopping trip would be complete without a visit to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes…
I’m sorry what was that?
Oops! According to the scary-looking witch at the next table, Diagon Alley is supposed to be a closely guarded secret. I’d better not say any more. Looks like it’s back to Marks & Spencer for you after all. I’d offer to come and carry your bags but it’s cold out there and I’ve just ordered another round of Butterbeers.
My stinky space pirate, Blackbeard, has flown the nest and set up on his own over at http://bloodthirstyblackbeardthebad.blogspot.co.uk/
but I’m trying not to take it personally! I’ve been keeping busy (so I don’t miss him too much) with a spot of castle clambering….
and some mean and moody mountain-mooching…
Oh dear, I seem to have gone into alliterative overdrive. Time to clear the verbal pallet with some reading exercises I think, starting with something nice and simple like a station sign…
We have lift off on The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic, my chapter book published with Knowonder! Jake and his space-zooming grandmother are out in the big wide universe now, with Blackbeard and his gang of stinky space pirates in hot pursuit!
Between you and me, Blackbeard’s been feeling a bit peeved that his name’s not on the front cover. He’s decided to compensate with a blog all of his own… more about that coming soon. in the meantime he’s even set himself up on Twitter! The brave-hearted and blocked-nosed among you can track him down at Blackbeard@Stinky_Pirate. Just don’t tell him I sent you…