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A Year in Writing

Season’s greetings and a huge thanks to everyone who has supported me this year, particularly to bloggers, bookshop owners, festival organisers, and above all readers.

I’ve had a great year, and here’s a few highlights:

In January, I received my first review from an American blogger, Maureen, on her Hands Full Mama site. It’s an excellent site for reviews of children’s and YA books, and I was really pleased by Maureen’s write up: “I loved the way that Indian culture, religion, and mythology was incorporated into the plot. I also liked the mystery element…an exciting story.” If you want to read the full review – and perhaps subscribe to Maureen’s blog – you can do so here: The City of Light (Secret of the Tirthas) by Steve Griffin

The Dreamer Falls, Book 3 of The Secret of the Tirthas, came out in July. In the words of one reviewer: “I enjoyed the book very much. The author writes crisp and clear prose and has a gift for description. Above all he can tell an absorbing story. Although aimed at young adults this series can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.” Silversmith, 5-star review, Amazon UK

In October I was interviewed by the award-winning US children’s author, Cheryl Carpinello, on her blog – you can look at that here http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/meet-mg-english-author-steve-griffin.html

I did my second book signing at Barton’s Bookshop in Leatherhead in November. I can’t praise the owner and staff of this wonderful independent bookshop highly enough. Professional, friendly, funny – and always full of useful advice and insight into my writing. If you live locally please go there to buy all your books.

I had my first local radio interview at Dorking’s Pippfest in September, and in December I had a stall at my sons’ school Christmas Fair – yet more opportunities to meet and chat with readers.

In November I started a free promotion of the ebook version of The City of Light, which led to some high Amazon positions (#6 in UK, #13 in US), and the first Amazon number 1 in Germany. My mum is half German, so maybe there’s something in my storytelling that has particular resonance with our German cousins!

Right now, I’m halfway through writing the fourth book of The Secret of the Tirthas, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, and loving every minute of it. It’s set largely in an English country house, based on Polesden Lacy in the Surrey Hills. Plenty of mysteries, leading to some big surprises – and a very unexpected alliance…

I hope you all had a good year, and wish you all the best for 2017.

 

 

 

 

Ice

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Ice

At night, as you sleep, amorphous slugs of water
stretch silently across the brittle blades of leaves,
to become the chrysalis pins
of ice. Dawn delivers them a colour: white.

The cold air works a somatic spell across the farmer’s fields
like a brush over suede, yielding
a new glare, smoking and mist-bright

and making the land seem more like sea,
with ivory bands of grey-flecked foam
drifting across a callous, dark and salted green.

And in the morning as the thaw comes crackling
you walk out and begin to reshape, cone of black,
heart squeezing hot blood and head growling,
strange and beautiful as ice.

 

Ice first appeared in The Magazine no.3.

The City of Light’s first Amazon no.1!

The City of Light has reached its first no.1 spot in the Amazon charts!

2016-11-20

OK, let me qualify that for a moment.  It’s no.1 in Germany, in the chart of free children’s books in English. It also got to no.6 in the equivalent UK chart, and no.13 in the US at one stage, kept off the top spot by The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, and some books on Minecraft.

Anyway, it’s a start – and thank you to all those German readers who are downloading my book!

The Dreamer Falls – Goodreads Giveaway

I’m giving away a signed copy of The Dreamer Falls on Goodreads! For a chance to win click here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Dreamer Falls by Steve   Griffin

The Dreamer Falls

by Steve Griffin

Giveaway ends November 22, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Cats Love Me

cat

Cats Love Me

you say as we pass one on a garden wall,
a mottled sack of idleness.
But as you proffer a mittened hand
a row of tiny white fangs
springs out amidst the fluff.

Turning a bend we spot a ginger puss
pulled tight across the path
by a squirrel, nibbling acorns, just yards away –
aware of us, yet ignoring us.

We walk towards him
and he holds his pose
making increasingly fine judgements
as we approach.

Now the cat’s dilemma –
to display, indiscreetly, his viciousness,
the bloody side of his nature,
or else to quickly don
the soft known coat of civilisation.

And, at the last moment, he’s there
beneath your stroking hand
wrapping the glad scarf of his tail
around your forearm –

lifting up his face to you
as if he were a proud young prince
waiting to be kissed.

 

This was one of several poems I had published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire.

The Dreamer Falls – Cover

Here’s the final cover for The Dreamer Falls, the third book in The Secret of the Tirthas. I’m very happy with this. What do you think? I’m doing a final proofread at the moment and aiming for the book to be out in the next 3-4 weeks. A perfect read for the beach!

The Dreamer Falls- Final

St George and the Dragon

Looking At It Now
– Saint George and the Dragon, Paolo Uccello, 1460. National Gallery

Knight, you’ve hit your target
wounded the beast, unruly child, diseased id
with your long, straight, storm-driven pole.
Brow forward, on prancing stead,
your deed is done –

the translucent lipless Princess saved.

But look how she’s joined in,
used her girdle to leash the beast
and thwart its fun –

in those Rottweiler eyes
you can see
the final froth of madness
as the horizon recedes –

claws dig into neat turf
wings splay diminished targets
as the poor-dog beast succumbs
between the armoured Nazi Knight
and his Ice Maiden, Nazi wife.

 

On Justice

On Justice

– portrait of Margareta van Eyck, Groeninge Museum, Bruges

Here I am
every bit as real
an image as you.
How come you
get to breathe?

Look at this mastery,
the skill applied here, and here,
the dab of light
on the flesh
at the corner of the eye –

How good are you?
What do you do so well?
Why is it oxygen burns
when it touches
the blood in your lungs?

First published in Other Poetry III.3

The Cigars of the Pharoah

Last weekend I handed a copy of The Red Sea Sharks to a cashier at Waterstone’s in Guildford. She went ‘Ah wow, Tintin!’ and immediately asked my son if he knew who their mezzanine statue of the bearded sailor was.

Well, he’s four, so he didn’t have a clue, but I of course mumbled that it was Captain Haddock. How would she know I’d spent a few days ploughing through my recently rediscovered collection of Tintin books – and found this one missing?

It got me thinking just how much Herge (Georges Remi, the Belgian creator of Tintin) had influenced The Secret of the Tirthas. I remember the excitement of getting up before everyone and rushing downstairs to read The Cigars of the Pharoah in the early morning light. I loved the rich variety of the story settings, the good humour and painstaking attention to detail. Trekking and yetis in Tintin in Tibet. Dying of thirst in the desert in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Being chased by an ape in a Scottish castle in The Black Island. Marooned on a raft in The Red Sea Sharks. 

When I started working out The Secret of the Tirthas I was thinking about how the world itself can be as awe-inspiring as any fantasy creation, especially when new places are seen for the first time. What better way to explore this than to have a multitude of exotic locations accessible from your back garden?

The Cigars of the Pharoah remains my favourite Tintin book, set mainly in Egypt and India. I read it at something like eight years old and found it exciting and very, very funny, especially the character of Sophocles Sarcophagus. And the first two countries, alongside Nepal, that I went to on my own steam were Egypt and India, so I’m sure Herge’s influence runs deep.

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Aswan, Egypt, a long time ago

Get your Tintin here:

 

Welcome!

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Thanks for visiting my new website!

It’s here to let you know more about me and my books.  I’ll be using this blog particularly for items about the journeys and places that inspired The Secret of the Trithas – and I’ll also be putting up some of the poems I’ve had published over the years.

I hope you enjoy it, feel free to leave some feedback below.