Posts Categorized: Misc

Why Ninjas Look After Their Sisters

I had another great afternoon at St. James COE Primary School last week. We talked about a crucial element of stories: goals and obstacles.

A cool thing about stories is that big, cosmic goals can often hinge on small actions. “A few friends have to destroy some jewelry” doesn’t sound like the plot of an epic — but if that jewelry happens to be Sauron’s One Ring, you’ve got the plot of Lord of the Rings.

The Kind And Horrible Butterfly

This term, I’m Patron of Reading for St. James Church of England Primary School. So far, I’ve done two workshops with the kids, and I’ve been having a blast.

Yesterday’s workshop was on characters. The kids came up with a bunch of Inside Traits (kindness, bravery) and Outside Traits (wearing a blue dress, having two tails.) Then we combined them and made up stories about the resulting characters.

More Reviews

Thank you to The Irish Times, which called me a “vivid and original voice”, and to The Guardian, which called The City of Secret Rivers “a harum-scarum ride through London’s sewer-land” and an “excellent thriller.”

Free stuff for librarians and teachers

If you’re a librarian or teacher, you can win one of 22 copies of Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath.

Plus, Curious City has created a game based on the book, perfect for story times at libraries and bookstores. It turns out that your bookshelves are actually magical sewers in disguise, just waiting for a group of kids brave enough to face their enchanted dangers. Download the complete event kit for free at Curious City’s website.


There’s nothing more terrifying for an author than being reviewed (except possibly being reviewed by a shark while parachuting out of an exploding airplane.) Fortunately, Hyacinth And The Secrets Beneath has gotten some great and entirely shark-free reviews.

Kirkus says it’s “a rollicking adventure with a lulu of an ending that comes with the promise of a sequel. Middle graders will adore clever Hyacinth and enjoy the other humorous characters, the puns (Oaroboarus, indeed), and the suspenseful narrative.”

Introducing My New Website

I started this website in 2004, under the name Yankeefog.Com, to share my observations as an American living in London. As the years went by, I posted here less often. That was partly because the speed and brevity of Twitter made it much easier than blogging. But it was also because I was channeling my observations about the strangeness of London life into fiction, in the form of a novel for children called The City of Secret Rivers.