School visits to Elstree and Marlborough House in Kent, then Elgin, Lossiemouth and Keith for the Great War Great Reads programme with Linda Newbury and Jane Sandell, up in the far north of Scotland. Then Leeds and Concord International College in the depths of Shropshire.
Also really chuffed to hear my Barrington Stoke novel ‘Wave’ has been shortlisted for the Historical Association Young Quills Book Award – the sixth novel of mine in succession to have been nominated for this award.
Working hard on rewrites for my tenth Bloomsbury historical fiction novel ‘Wolf Children’, set in Berlin just after the end of the war. Here’s the brilliant cover.
Also take part in Wolverhampton’s first literature festival, giving a talk and a workshop. Great fun and always a pleasure to listen to Sathnam Sanghera, who was on just before me. Thank you to my friends who came to support me!
Start my new job as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, working Mondays and Tuesday – which still gives me the rest of the week for school visits and writing.
School visits to Holmwood House, Kent, Cheltenham, way up north in Elgin, and close to home at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School.
Also delighted to see my Usborne Newspaper Histories reprinted after 25 years. Still going strong!
The Roman Record, one of six ‘Newspaper Histories’ reissued by Bloomsbury.
My book Bomber was shortlisted for the 2016 Historical Association Young Quills Award - the fifth of my books on the trot to be shortlisted for this award. Alas, it didn’t win, but congratulations to Vanessa Curtis whose book ’The Earth is Singing’ won the Secondary school section.
My Barrington Stoke book ’Wave’, set on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, has been published. Here are two nice reviews from ’Bookbag’ and the Australian ’Kids-Book Review’:
The story is a poignant, reflective and brutally honest account...I read Wave in one sitting, only 86 pages, but every word is carefully considered to tell this story with depth and Paul Dowswell gives this historical event the respect that it deserves. (Bookbag)
Paul Dowswell has written a vivid account of the harsh, gut-wrenching horrors of WW1 ... His vivid descriptions place the reader directly in the scene. All this is brilliantly portrayed… Its prose commands attention with its brevity, whilst the carefully chosen words fill the pages with images. I loved everything about this book… (Kids-Book Review)
My 2015 novel ‘Bomber’ was one of 17 on the longlist for the 2016 Amazing Book Award.
Bomber has also been shortlisted for the 2016 Portsmouth Book Award and the Dutch de Jonge Jury award… and a national book award I’m not yet allowed to mention.
My 2005 novel ‘Powder Monkey’ was shortlisted for the Trinity Schools Book Award 2016, in the venerable company of Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Alone in a Wide Wide Sea’, Philip Pulman’s ‘Northern Lights’, Philip Reeve’s ‘Mortal Engines’ and Matt Dickinson’s ‘Everest Files’. We all lost out to a bloke called Tolkien and some book called ‘The Hobbit’.
Having a whale of a time at the Trinity Schools Book Award with Sarah McIntyre, Ruth Eastham, Philip Reeve and Matt Dickinson.
My Cold War thriller ’Sektion 20’ has been shortlisted for the French Sélection du prix des jeunes lecteurs d’Eure-et-Loir "Histoires d’ados" 2016.
A real mixture of Primary, Prep and Secondary schools all over the country, doing writing workshops and book talks, and all of them a pleasure to visit. Thank you for having me: Sutton Glenthorne, Carshalton, Sutton Valence, Wokingham, Luckley, Oadby, Merchant Taylors Herfordshire, Dulwich College, Lawdale, Twickenham Newlands, Concord International School in Acton Burnell and North East Wolverhampton Academy.
I love visiting schools so please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like me to come to your school.
Talking about my book ’Bomber’ at Sutton Valence School in Headcorn, Kent.
Delighted to be able to tell you I am going to be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Leicester De Montford University from September. I’ll be there Monday and Tuesday during University Term Time, so still have plenty of time for writing and further school visits.
Now reviewing books for Carousel and Armadillo magazines.
School visits to Brighton, Rickmansworth and Hastings. Thank you for a lovely day at each one!
Delighted to see ‘Bomber’ shortlisted for the Sussex Amazing Books Award. It’s been shortlisted for the Dutch de Jonge Jury award too, and at least one other award which is still a secret.
Thrilled that my 2005 novel ‘Powder Monkey’ has been shortlisted for the Trinity Schools Book Award. This year’s theme is ‘Journeys’. I’m keeping Matt Dickinson, Michael Morpurgo, JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman and Philip Reeve company, which means I haven’t got a chance in hell of winning, but I’m really chuffed to be in the running.
Visiting Manor High, Oadby, just before Christmas.
Back to work after the summer… Three days in Appledore – third year on the trot at the Festival, and it’s always a real pleasure to be asked. Five schools and two nights in the lovely Seagate Hotel.
House in turmoil – damp proofing the back and having the pantry turned into a downstairs loo – dust everywhere. Also working on a WW2 biography.
Schools and talks to teachers in Manor High in Oadby, Tonbridge, Tower Hamlets, plus a lovely day at the Historical Association ‘Writing History’ Conference in Avery Hill.
Deliver my 10th historical fiction book to Bloomsbury. Title as yet undecided, but it’s set in Berlin after the war.
Review for ‘Bomber’ in The Scotsman
Thank you to Jane Sandell who reviewed my new novel in her selection of ‘Best Books for Summer’.
One of Paul Dowswell’s greatest strengths is his ability to tell a story from an unexpected perspective. In Bomber (Bloomsbury, £6.99) his hero is 17 year-old Harry Friedman, an American gunner stationed in England during the Second World War. Harry is by turns excited, nervous, proud and terrified as his crew is sent to bomb key German targets. In between Harry’s war, we are also given glimpses of it from other perspectives, adding to the fullness of the story. Paul Dowswell’s novel humanises the stark realities of war, making them all the more shocking. Prepare to be impressed, horrified and surprised.
Final school visit of the year at the KESH Academy in Sheldon, Birmingham, ably organised by Nancy Broadfoot, who managed to get six or seven authors into the school for a massive end of term author visit. Especially good to see the ever affable Bali Rai.
Day at Elstree Haberdasher Aske’s Boys School where Sue Stanbury looked after me with great kindness – not least because I was battling a nasty bug. Especially enjoyed the creative writing classes I did with the pupils there.
St George’s, Weybridge
A lovely day at Weybridge St George’s school, where I was generously looked after by Irene Monem and her colleagues. Thank you for this write up in the school magazine.
Sefton Super Reads
Marvellous day at the Sefton Super Reads Book Award. From left to right Sally Gardner, Kevin Brooks, Rebecca Stevens, Curtis Jobling (the winner, well done, sir!), and me. Lovely bunch - and I did enjoy having a drink on the train back with Sally and Rebecca.(I really missed you when you changed at Crewe.) Thanks especially to Lesley Davies of Sefton Library, who chaired the event with aplomb, and Tony Higginson who sold our books.
A wonderful afternoon with some very interesting Primary School teachers, talking about creative writing. It was a real pleasure to talk with adults, and I very much look forward to doing this again in thr Autumn.
Nice local talk at Waterstones Solihul, organised by the wonderful Federation of Children’s Book Groups.
I am now a Fellow of the English Association – Thank you to Leicester University’s English Association for this honour. I’m really chuffed!
Very excited to be asked to visit Hay Festival for a talk with author Dan Smith and Daily Telegraph arts correspondent Martin Chilton.
Radnor House and Richmond
Marvellous day down in South West London at Radnor House in Twickenham. Thank you, Julie Foulkes-Hannam for your hospitality. Then, a very well attended evening talk at Richmond Library organised by Joss Green with books by the brilliant Alligator’s Mouth Bookshop: http://www.thealligatorsmouth.co.uk/
With Radnor House prize winners at Richmond Library
Lennox Author Award
Up to Edinburgh for this local authority book award, for which my book ‘Eleven Eleven’ has been nominated alongside books by Sam Angus and Marcia Williams. Well done Marcia, who won, and thank you to East Lothian Primary Schools who organised the award. I LOVE going to Edinburgh.
Never quite figured out what the point of the Lion was!
May 9, 2015
Historical Association shortlist for Red Shadow
My Bloomsbury book ’Red Shadow’ has been shortlisted for the Historical Association ‘Young Quills’ Award. My previous two books ‘Eleven Eleven’ and ‘Sektion 20’ both won and the book before that, ’Cabinet of Curiosities’ was also shortlisted, so I’m very grateful to the HA for their kind support. Congrats to the other authors on the Secondary School shortlist: Mary Hooper, Tanya Landman, Helen Watts and Philip Kerr.
May 7th, 2015
My new book is published by Bloomsbury today ’Bomber’. It’s also election day too, which might rob me of a few front page headlines. So far there’s been one lovely review by the ever generous Jill Murphy in Bookbag. Thanks, Jill.
April 10th – 23rd
Just spent two marvellous weeks in Johannesburg visiting schools for book talks and writing classes and talking at a Schools Librarian Conference. It was a fantastic adventure. The country reminded me a lot of Australia – same lovely climate, and friendly, good-natured people who made me feel very welcome.
The librarians I spoke to were a redoubtable and very dedicated bunch and just the sort of people you’d want to have on your side if you were stranded on a desert island. (or encouraging your kids to read!) I left there hoping very much that South Africa does not go the way of Zimbabwe and there will always be a place there for whites as well as blacks.
Very special thanks to Charlotte Biesman-Simons, who organised my trip over, Nicki Sulter, who had me speak at the Conference, and HeronBridge, The Ridge, St John’s and Roedean Schools in Johannesburg who invited me to talk to their kids. And thank you too, to the residents of Charlotte’s street, not least Neels and Graham, for their very generous hospitality.
Speaking at the Library Conference in Johannesburg.
Enjoying a lovely day with Charlotte and her friends and family.
…for two weeks, visiting schools and speaking at a Library conference.
Write your own Adventure Stories…
… advance copy arrive. I love working with Usborne, and this book (due in June, I think) is a real departure. Great fun to put together with Editor Ruth Brocklehurst and designer Laura Wood.
Kids who enjoy writing will find lots of practical and inspiring ideas in this excellent book, while those whose hearts sink at being asked to write a story will see just how much fun it can be.Lovereading4kids.
Light Hall School, Solihull
Great to visit a local school and really enjoyed talking to the pupils. Thank you to Helen Klejdysz for inviting me.
New Beacon School, Sevenoaks
It’s been a busy week. A pleasure to visit this great school. Thank you to Jackie Howe for inviting me, and Linda Newbury for keeping me company.
Trinity Schools Book Award
I was really delighted to discover that my First World War novel ‘Eleven Eleven’ had been shortlisted for this award, alongside such classics as Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, Judith Kerr’s ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ and Elizabeth Wein’s ‘Codename Verity’. I knew I wasn’t going to win with those three on the guest list but it was a pleasure to meet them and I had a magnificent evening afterwards with Latymer School Librarian Terri McCarger.
Sharing a platform with Judith Kerr, Michael Morpurgo and Elizabeth Wein.
Having a wild old night with Terri McCarger, Elizabeth Wein and Maggie Eckel.
Caldicott School, Farnham
A day at this outer London prep school, with some very able children. Thank you to Anna Elson for having me visit.
Down to the West Country for a day of talks and workshops at Hazlegrove School. Special thanks to the pupils for listening so intensely, librarian Naomi Warren for inviting me, and the head and his wife, Richard and Katie Fenwick, for making me feel so welcome. We had a lovely evening.
Great afternoon at Maghull Library, Liverpool, where my book ‘Red Shadow’ has been shortlisted for the ‘Sefton Super Reads’.
Thanks you especially to Tony Higginson, for his book stall, Leslie Davies for inviting me, and Ruth Clarke and St Edward’s College for this lovely review:
Daring Adventures play Wolverhampton
Gig number two for my band who do Fairport/Richard Thompson covers. I can’t bear ‘tribute bands’ so we do our own versions of these fantastic songs. (Whether we do them justice is open to question.) Here are a couple of songs from the end of our set: ‘Tear Stained Letter’ and ‘I Wanna See the Bright Lights Tonight’.
A brilliant day back in my hometown doing workshops and a talk for Chester Lit Fest. Generously looked after by Paul Lavin and his very helpful and friendly staff. Thank you.
Glyndowr University, Wrexham
Two more gigs with the Hay Scribblers School tour. Great fun and a lively response, as I talked about my ‘Red Shadow’ novel.
At Glydowr University with author Siobhan Curham, and Hay bods Paul Elkingham and Nessie Mason.
Wolverhampton Central Library
Lunchtime talk with a nice crowd on ‘where I get my ideas from’. They came, they sat down, they stayed and asked lots of interesting questions AND my old friend Balbir gave me a bottle of wine at the end. Perfect little outing!
…make their debut in the glamourous Stourbridge British Legion. Lovely crowd, most of whom didn’t know us, lovely beer and lovely staff. It’s great to be playing live again.
Harris Boy’s School, Pekham
Interesting to visit an inner-London comp, after a succession of very pleasant ‘Independents’ as they like to call themselves these days. Some lovely kids and some not-so lovely. Thanks to Mark Johnson for looking after me.
St David’s Camarthen
Marvellous three days bigging up my novel ‘Red Shadow’ in Carmarthen with Hay Festival organisers Nessie Mason, and Paul Elkington, Martin Daws, and the lovely Lydia Syson and Jeff Povey the Eastenders scriptwriter who is now also writing fiction.
King’s School Chester
Grand day at my dad’s old school, and my brother George’s. Massive amount of reading going on here, and kids bought shedloads of books, so Thank You! Ros Harding looked after me very nicely.
Talking to pupils at the King’s School Chester
January 20th, 2015
English Association Fellowship
The English Association, an academic body based at Leicester University, have asked me to become a Fellow – one of around 250 academics and writers who have ‘significantly enriched and promoted English in all its fields including creative, academic and educational.’
I am slightly flabbergasted to be on the list of their fellows, mostly made up of people with Doctor or Professor in front of their name, but I am really delighted to have been asked. Thank You!
Have been invited to South Africa in April 2015, to teach in schools and give a couple of talks at a School Librarian conference. Hugely exciting, and something to look forward to at the end of the winter.
December 23, 2014
Hurrah! Deliver second draft of my new Bloomsbury novel ‘Bomber’. It’s about a Flying Fortress crew based in Norfolk in 1943, and is due to be published in May 2015. Now I can enjoy my Christmas.
Here’s the cover by James Fraser. Bloomsbury always do a great job on my book covers and I think this looks fantastic. Thanks, James, I know you put an awful lot into this.
Cardinal Vaughan School in Holland Park
Back for four writing workshops. Thanks to librarian Alison Bugg for having me in again!
Fascinating three days in the East End – unrecognisable from when I lived there 30 years ago. Flying visits to Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, Sir John Cass and Redcoat Foundation School, Morpeth School, Oaklands School and Bow Boys School, for talks and writing workshops on my First World War novel ‘Eleven Eleven’.
Thank you to Naomi Cooper at Authors Aloud for setting up this trip, and Gill Harris and Tower Hamlets School Library Service for having me visit.
Some exemplary writing from pupils at the Leighton Park School in Reading. Also, very much enjoyed giving an early evening talk for the local FCBG (Federation of Children’s Book Groups) on where I get my inspiration.
Thank you Chris Routh, for organising my trip.
Great to revisit this lovely Victorian town for talks and workshops on ‘Eleven Eleven’ at Whitcliffe Mount School, Cleckheaton, and North Huddersfield Trust School, and also a library talk that evening in the very impressive central library/art gallery.
Thanks to Pam Chew for setting up my visit.
Fascinating three days in Belfast and Ballyclare, where I visited Ballyclare High School, Methodist College, Hunterhouse College, and Wellington College.
I had never been to Belfast before, and was knocked out by the kindness and hospitality shown to me. The staff and kids were very welcoming and I’d love to go back one of these days. Special thanks to Elizabeth McConnell and Elaine Patterson who organised my trip, and Tanja and Judith Jennings who took me out for a wild night.
With Elizabeth McConnell and Ballyclare pupil Kaye-Ann Geronimo.
With two pupils at the Wellington College. Thanks for the poster, lads!
King Edward VI
Pleasure to work with the very bright girls at the King Edward VI High School in Birmingham. Thank you to Sarah Alan the school librarian, and Shelley Lee at Authors Abroad, for organising this visit.
Flying visits to Bromsgrove Prep and Northampton Malcolm Arnold Academy…
Thanks to Bromsgrove Prep librarian Helen Talbot for this display! (And the digestive biscuit.)
Lunch at Malcolm Arnold with librarian Jane Neill and keen readers. Glad to see the ‘rabbit ears’ photo opportunity (front row left) is still alive and well!
Book signing at Northampton.
Summer Fields School
Once in a while, I’m asked to spend a week in a school as an ‘author in residence’. This is a real pleasure as I get to know the school, staff and pupils so much better. I had an especially enjoyable week in Summer Fields Prep School in Oxford, where I took a creative writing class with every form in the school. The staff and kids made me feel very welcome. They produced some beautiful writing too, and were really engaged and a pleasure to talk to. Special thanks to librarian Laurence Dardenne, head of English Paul Dean, and Louisa Symington of ‘Books at the Barn’ for organising my visit.
A class on writing spooky stories, with Miss Palmer of the English department.
More reviews for ‘Red Shadow’
Paul Dowswell’s historical novels are minutely researched but wear their knowledge lightly, never failing to entertain. This is no exception. Jane Sandell, The Scotsman
…a highly attractive and beautifully written novel, with pages full of suspense and in-depth characters. Avvenire (Italian daily newspaper)
In a nutshell, a brilliant novel that grips till the end. Tribune (Indian daily newspaper)
Having twice won the Historical Association Young Quills Book Award you know that Paul Dowswell’s novel will be impeccably researched, but more than that, you can expect a powerful and engrossing story and this is exactly what we get. Joy Court, School Librarian magazine
The reader is drawn into a world of political intrigue, suspicion and treachery. …an exciting story with the potential to both entertain and enlighten young readers. Ciara Ni Bhroin, INIS Children’s Books Ireland.
This is a brilliant book I can recommend to any parent as a teenager’s present. It is a fascinating education in man’s inhumanity and political misdirection... Red Shadow gives an accurate flavour of Moscow at war, with radical political viewpoints and intelligent arguments. Historical Novels Society
The story seems so unreal and the main characters are fictional, but the events are not and that makes it so fascinating to read and sit with goosebumps. Boekenbijlage, Netherlands
… the story is compelling, supported by Dowswell’s usual narrative rhythm that always impresses. (This is an) effective description of Soviet Russia, in all its greatness and miseries. lettura candida blog, Italy
The atmosphere of fear and suspicion, the arrogance of power and terror, the looming war with Germany, everything is made to perfection… Dowswell is also an excellent storyteller, able to build beautiful and compelling stories. Paper Blog, Italy
I was awake all night reading this book, knowing that if I put it down I would be eaten up with curiosity. I ended up going to school the next day feeling like a zombie, but it was worth it. Book Enders, India (Blog)
Nice to do a school visit on the doorstep, in this case, a primary in Wolverhampton, to talk about my ‘job’, as part of the ‘Primary Futures’ programme.
Great to meet local MP Emma Reynolds, and an old Usborne colleague of mine Laura Howell who fulfilled her childhood ambition of writing and drawing for ‘The Beano’, which is brilliant!
Almost down to the Isle of Wight for a visit to Walhampton, a really beautiful prep school outside of Lymington. Lovely kids, and made to feel very welcome by the staff. Thank you, especially to school librarian Chris Turner, for inviting me to visit.
Two days of workshops with pupils from Lingwood Primary, Fairhaven CE VA Primary, St. Edmund VC Primary, Cantley Primary, Reedham Primary, Freethorpe Community Primary and Fleggburgh CE Primary.
Special thanks to Rachel Quick and her family for organising the visit and for having me to stay. It’s always lovely to come to Norfolk!
Down to Devon with the disgraceful Cross Country train network. Is there a more appalling train service is Britain? Never enough carriages so almost always overcrowded, which makes going to the loo or trying to get refreshments a chore, thin hard seats for five/six hour journeys, no proper baggage space where you can keep an eye on your suitcases… a perfect example of the failure of privatisation to provide a better service, and of big business’s contempt for customers.
Check out these reviews, and feel the hate!
… visit to Appledore Festival was huge fun and greatly enjoyed my trips to Braunton Secondary School and Community College, Pilton Community College, Holsworthy Community College, Ilfracombe Academy, South Molton Community College and Great Torrington Community School.
Special thanks to Torrington who bought class readers of my books ‘Auslander’ and ‘Eleven Eleven’.
Appledore is a wonderful Festival where authors are looked after very generously and get to meet and chat with each other at the magnificent Seagate Hotel. Big thanks, especially, to Janet Fisher, Carol and Al Smith, Penny Tomlinson and Pat Millner.
Pat Millner took me kayaking on the Torridge Estuary, an absolute highlight of my year.
September 16, 2014
Oswestry with Wilfred Owen…
… and Tony Bradman and Linda Newbury, to promote Orchard’s ‘Stories of WW1’ – a compilation of short stories. A pleasure to catch up with Tony and Linda after our Edinburgh Festival ‘gig’ last month, and a lovely visit to Marches School where we spokes to hundreds of kids in a booming sports hall. Afterwards we took a lovely walk in late summer sunshine through this beautiful Shropshire town, to visit Wilfred Owen’s home and memorial. I’m not a massive fan of poetry but Owen’s work still moves me to tears.
August 30, 2014
The Story of the First World War
Although I mainly write fiction these days, I’m pleased to see my Usborne book ‘The Story of the First World War’ is one of six children’s fiction and non-fiction books recommended by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for their First World War Centenary Programme.
I love doing these information books with Usborne, not least because I get to work with a brilliant team – editor Jane Chisholm, designers Samantha Barrett and Tom Lalonde, and picture researcher Ruth King – who all worked with me on the companion volume ‘The Story of the Second World War’.
18th – 21st August
Edinburgh Book Festival
Four marvellous days in one of my favourite cities – and even the weather wasn’t too bad! Janet Smyth and her team at the Children’s Book Festival made me feel very welcome. I did three events – one at Loch Leven Community Campus, Kinross, and two at the festival site at Charlotte Square. Especially pleased to do an event with John Boyne – he of the striped pyjamas. John was a real gent and made some pertinent points about the need for stories to have a moral core – something I wholeheartedly agree with.
Signing copies of Hachette’s book of short stories ‘Stories of World War One’ with Tony Bradman and Linda Newbury after a v. interesting talk to 350 school kids.
A discussion with John Boyne, chaired by Jane Sandell, in the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. The lady on the far right is signing.
Celebrating the end of the festival (for us at least) with (l to r) Jane Sandell, Josie Dowswell, and three good friends from Italy: Chiara Codeca and Riccardo and Barbara Servidori.
July 25, 2014
Summer issue of Carousel
Really pleased to have been asked to contribute to much respected children’s books quarterly ’Carousel’. My article ’A Fresh Look at the Great War’ reviews the latest crop of non-fiction books.
Also delighted tosee a review of ’Eleven Eleven’ in Carousel’s WW1 fiction round up:
Paul Dowswell has crammed all the horror, fear, waste, cowardice and courage of that terrible time, into a powerful and meaningful read. ...It remains in the mind forever.
16th - 17th July
More visits down South
Final two school visits before the Summer holiday, at the Bennet Memorial School in Tunbridge Wells and Bishop Luffa School in Chichester. Lovely end to the school year, where, despite wilting heat on both days, kids produced some excellent work writing about soldiers in the trenches of the First World War. Thank you to Jenny Gleaves and Margaret Bone for looking after me so generously.
With pupils at Bishop Luffa in Chichester.
July 16, 2014
News from the Netherlands
Delighted to hear my new novel ‘Red Shadow’ is picking up good reviews in the Netherlands, where it’s called ‘Kameraad’. This is from the Dutch Equivalent of the ‘Radio Times’.
‘A realistic and exciting story about a 15-year old boy who moves to the Kremlin with his parents right before the Second World War... a brilliantly written novel, with a believable mix of fiction and non-fiction, that will certainly entertain the target group, but adults as well.’
Thank you to Sabine Joppe at Callenbach for keeping me in touch!
July 14-15 July
I was last in Salisbury as a teenager in the ’70s and it was wonderful to see this beautiful Cathedral again.
The city was barely bombed during the war, and local legend has it that this was because several top Nazis wanted a house in the close that overlooks the Cathedral.