Friday, 24 December 2010

Pre-Christmas signings success

From the First weekend in November (ie. after 'The Flight of Birds' by Alan Howard, ISBN 9780955548628 / ebook ISBN 9780955548666, both £9.99, came out) I have done 17 signings (not incl Sundays - two).
Total (incl. the 2 Sundays): 740 [Curd sold  417, FoB 323].

Average per day (not incl Sundays): 40.4
Curd 22 av (high 33)
FoB 18 av (score rising as I developed ways of selling this one - high 33)
Lower Curd average than prior to FoB arrival due to split attention.
I experimented in Waterstone’s Fareham where I did two successive days
Day one - Curd Curd 27 / FoB 20; total 47
Day two - Curd Curd 13 / FoB 33; total 46
to prove that The Flight of Birds does sell (while not wholly neglecting Curd).

A big ‘thank you’ to all those who kindly bought either book (or both)!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Christmas card – Sorted!

Home sweet home after one night’s snow. Aaah!

Ana Thema _ a book of short stories and poems – Alan Howard

Short stories and poems, loosely linked to the ‘Danse Macabre’ trilogy. 100p £6.99. 6 illustrations. ISBN 9780955548635 paperback print-on-demand available. Held in UK by Gardners wholesalers so can be ordered from bookshops or direct from publisher at same porice for signed, dedicated copy).
e-book version on PRC for Kindle and ePub for other devices ISBN 9780955548659.

I love Lovereading and Lovereading4kids websites!

Here’s what they have made of my new book, ‘The Flight of Birds’:

Lovereading website has made Flight of Birds top of their 'Horror, Fantasy & Sci Fi' section, plus 5th on their 'Mystery and Crime'.
This is their review:
"This is the tale of the haunting, in modern times, of a girl by a ghost exactly resembling her own dead mother. Encountering this ghost imprisoned in the East wing of the Great House Kate is gradually drawn in and compelled to unravel the terrible story of this place.  The reader too will feel utterly drawn in to follow Kate's story through the author's masterful storytelling powers and the two worlds, modern and historical are woven together in to a web in which the reader has no desire to leave but instead continue turning the pages to the surprising denouement.   Through the Tales of Shabby Tattler, a one-eyed vagabond whose power of description seems to bring to life those he depicts, Kate is drawn into a past in which she finds herself a living victim, trapped by circumstance and helpless to alter the terrifying unfolding of events.  This is the first in a trilogy of Gothic tales through which, in a 'Danse Macabre' moves the dark enigmatic figure of the 'Shabby Tattler', the cunning man. Tale-teller and myth-maker is he, or puppet-master of these strange plays, conjuring appearances and disappearances, scenes of tragedy and comedy: manipulator of souls with strings invisible?"
Nice, eh?

Especially after the Waterstone's (Gemma Sealey of St. Albans) one:
   "What an amazing tale! The reader is thrust straight into an atmospheric drama, weaving history and fantasy together in this Gothic Danse Macabre, in parts reminiscent of some original brothers' Grimm tales, and the writing is so addictive there's never a good place to put the book down. As for the ending, nothing prepares you for that!
   I really was not expecting when I started this book for it to have a treasure trove of such depth and diversity, horror and enchantment. It combines the magical twists of Neil Gaiman with atmosphere of Poe or Machen. The author has, like an Elizabethan alchemist, blended to perfection all the vital serendipitous ingredients to make a most original haunting tale."

Book: The Flight of Birds, Alan Howard. ISBN 9780955548628. 400pp. pb. with flaps. £9.99.
Available from all websites and Waterstones also as ebook: ISBN 978095554866 
From Lovereading at:

My previous effort, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond’ by Alan Gilliland author/illustrator  ISBN 9780955548611 hb. 176pp 80+ illus.,£14.99, has now sold about 6,000
Love reading4kids website made it a Book of Year, Debut of Year and Personal choice of founder last year and widest age-range ever given a book, and are promting it again this year
See quite few kids reviews plus others plus theirs on

The Lovereading comment:
“Reminiscent of the writing of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, this brilliant debut children's novel is completely unputdownable as well as being almost uncategorisable.  The author has succeeded in delivering on a book that incorporates a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters that I couldn't begin to do justice to by describing them here, other than to say they are wild and wacky and completely original.  He's also delivered a story that is full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful word-play. It's staggering to think that it was not picked up by one of the mainstream publishers and has instead been published quite brilliantly by a small independent start-up company.   It's 174 pages of pure unadulterated pleasure and was one of our top books of 2009. This is a book that will be loved by anyone from 7 to 107.  It may not be as widely available nationwide as some books but that's through no fault of the book.”

FISHHOOKS! The snow has cancelled two of my signings.

Petersfield today and Woking on Saturday. Both Waterstone’s.
From next Thursday I’ve solid signings (incl. Sundays) till 22nd driving home from Bury St. Edmunds that night for one day off before Christmas. Great!
It’s up to the top of my long wellies this morning but Rufus (my Vizsla) loves it. Disappeared into a snowdrift charging full tilt around the fields.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


‘The Flight of Birds’ by Alan Howard (Gilliland) ISBN 978055548628

is out now as a B-format paperback with flaps at £9.99. Also out any day now as an e-book all formats at same price (ISBN 9780955548666 – the devil knows why?)

It is a gothic ghost tale based upon a Greek myth set between Elizabethan England (I) and today. First of a ‘Danse Macabre’ trilogy featuring a mysterious vagabond and story-teller, the Shabby Tattler, whose tales seem to come alive in the telling.
Gemma Sealey, from Waterstone’s St. Albans, wrote this incredibly nice review of it: "What an amazing tale! The reader is thrust straight into an atmospheric drama, weaving history and fantasy together in this Gothic Danse Macabre, in parts reminiscent of some original brothers' Grimm tales, and the writing is so addictive there's never a good place to put the book down. As for the ending, nothing prepares you for that! I really was not expecting when I started this book for it to have a treasure trove of such depth and diversity, horror and enchantment. It combines the magical twists of Neil Gaiman with the atmosphere of Poe or Machen.
The author has, like an Elizabethan alchemist, blended to perfection all the vital serendipitous ingredients to make a most original haunting tale."

Go to this URL to download the covers of this book and an accompanying book of short stories and poems, ‘AnaThema’ and a pamphlet for the trilogy. 

‘Anathema’ available as POD (this one in Gardners wholesalers soon, therefore can be ordered through Waterstone’s, etc..) Book ISBN 9780955548635 (e-book ISBN 9780955548659). Both £6.99.
URL. (covers/pamphlet)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Unwelcome guest

Check this out. A sparrowhawk greeted me yesterday as I went to my study. Refused to move till I got to within eight feet  and then only when I shooed him.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


We are exhibiting at Frankfurt on the IPG (UK) stand A934 9/10.
With no funding or publicity we have achieved the following in the 20 months since launching Raven's Quill Ltd.
Nearly 6,000 copies of first book (Curd the Lion) sold in hardback at £14.99 undiscounted. Keeping in hardback until Christmas at least, as seen as perfect 'gift' book.
Translation rights sold to:
1.     S. Korea (Darun Publishers - most of their foreign list award-winners) - came out in June, 2010.
2.     Israel. Deal just concluded to publish in Hebrew.
1.     Big Apple Tuttle-Mori (largest in Far East) Have two Indonesian publishers interested.
2.     Ilustrata (Spain, Portugal, S. America)
3.     Amo Agency (S. Korea) (sold to Darun)
Scouts: Anne Louise Fisher Associates' children's scout loves it and is touting to their international clients (when she returns from maternity leave).
FILM interest:
1.     Fox Films asked for book last year (scuppered by Disney announcing Toy Story 3 just after they received it "no one in Hollywood is going to put the money for another Toy Story, however different, while that is going on")
2.     HiT Entertainment (UK kids TV co.) wrote, "We really enjoyed the inventive, witty narrative and surreal humour in the book. We can see that Curd the Lion might work very well as a family feature film."
3.     Tfou (France's TF1 kids TV) wrote: "I think your book should become a film but we don't produce film at tfou."
4.  A 3D film modeller and animator working in Pinewood Studios so loves the book's characters he is creating some of them in animated form to help us sell the idea to film companies at no charge. We await his progress with bated breath. (We now have another from the same studio working on them)
Trade Assocs. (member of):
1.     IPG (Independent Publishers Guild)
2.     PA (Publishers Association
UKTI grants to exhibit at international bookfairs (Frankfurt and Bologna so far)
Recognition: Lovereading4kids (British bookselling website) made it Book of Year, Debut of Year, Personal Choice of Founder - it topped their chart before Christmas. (to see book on their site)
Website, new: designed/built by an advertising designer for film companies in spare time for no fee because loved book so much.
Signings: as unknown author/illustrator Alan does signings regularly in Waterstone's branches around England (averaging 25 per day and 29 on Saturdays - highest 45).
Mike Shatzkin (eBook recently wrote: "Alan, what a great story! I'm glad you didn't ask me before you undertook to do this because I would have told you it was nigh on impossible! But, having achieved this much, I think your Korea sale is just the first of many you'll make around the world. You should find a literary agent to sell rights for you in the US, Canada, and Australia right away." [a few weeks before the Israeli offer]
eBook: Through Mike Shatzkin, we found Joshua Tallent (eBook Architects) who solved formatting problem with this heavily illustrated (80+ B&W tone) book and is now creating the eBook (ready late July). Negotiating with Faber to act as our e-book distribution agent worldwide across devices eliminating necessity for multiple contract deals. Distributing through new Faber & Faber aggregating arrangement.
e-book distribution: probably through Faber, but talking to a US company also.
pdf, Curd the Lion, revised text version: more suited to non-English prime-language speakers, has replaced 'phonetic Irish' with more regular English. Useful for international agents.
The book: 'The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond.' ISBN 9780955548611. See attached for children's view of Curd.
We may have a U-Tube video for Curd the Lion prepared in time for Frankfurt Book Fair, "talking you into the story", which works so well at Alan's  signings.
(We are sounding out those 3D modellers as to whether they can help to produce this U-Tube video, otherwise it's going to be Alan and his son (a chemistry teacher who composes and records music) putting it together on his Mac.
Next title: is coming out on October 31st: a ghost story for adults and young adults, called 'The Flight of Birds'. It is the first of the 'Danse Macabre' trilogy featuring a mysterious story-teller, the Shabby Tattler, whose stories come alive in the telling to overwhelm those to whom he tells the tales.
The blog: ('Pencilnotes')

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Signing tour and Curd’s new friends

   I have just returned from a four week signing tour of Waterstone’s branches (thanks to all) where I met many enthusiastic kids (and adults), such as Sam Gamble, aged 11: “ I was reading Pele's autobiography which is a great book when i bought Curd the lion in the amazing adventures in the land at the back of beyond. i read a few pages and couldn't put it down. it is one of the best books i have ever read in my life.” and William Lucas, aged 10: “Its a brilliant book. I recommend it. I met Alan in Waterstones and he told me all about his book. I really like the characters as they're funny and silly and its based in a real place. It's got a good story to it as well. I have been staying up late reading it in bed.” or Sarah Pickering: “We have bought your book about Curd the Lion for my daughter's birthday on 7 August. We will be camping up there from 1 Aug and are hoping to visit and do the walk shown on the map in the book. Can you let me know the real name of the places, please, as we're unsure where to go! Many thanks”
    I sold 470 books in all on a four week, four/five shops a week, tour. Pretty satisfactory!
See next post for some possibly VERY exciting news.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Next up! Curd the Lion in Hebrew?

Just after our South Korean (Hangul alphabet) version has been released, we’ve just agreed a sale of translation rights to an Israeli publisher to produce the book in Hebrew.
Planning another Summer signing tour.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Thanks to all my other positive reviewers on Amazon, too.

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, twisted and surreal....., 3 Feb 2010
By A R Hartley "unstable_elementuk" (Hull, UK) -

“The front cover of this instantly reminded me of the old silent movies like "To the Moon" and the modern music video remake that The Smashing Pumpkins did for their song "Tonight Tonight". For me this was an instant draw, realy urging me to see what this book served up.

Its almost like a modern Alice in Wonderland, a surreal twisted book aimed at children but with enough hidden depths for Adults to enjoy. It throws away the old barriers and guides of writing for children and is purely a work of a great imagination.

I was so pleased to read something refreshingly different and despite me being 27, not exactly a child, i still realy enjoyed this and i have to admit i want to read the following book which you get a taster of at the end of this book.

The scattered drawings are beautiful and give a full view of this strange world the writer is pulling you into, only adding to is already great atmosphere.

I truely hope this auther writes a full length book in the style of these short stories, its about time we had someone who can bring something different and exciting to the table of childrens books.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Great bedtime reading for 7-12 year olds - a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter!, 17 Jan 2010
By Ms. L. M. Penney "mlmp" (UK) -

“I met the author at a local book signing and was intrigued by his enthusiasm, great talent for drawing and complex vocabulalry. My daughter (8) - loves the book. We read a chapter each night at bedtime and she cannot wait for the next part of the journey.

It is not an easy book to read out loud - but that is part of the challenge. The outstanding illustrations compliment the text perfectly and add explanation to the complex storyline.

The vocabulary is challenging (especially when written in dialect!)but exciting and the story line a cross between the crazy world of Alice in Wonderland and the mystery of Harry Potter. I would recommend for children 7 - 12 ... not sure about adults on their own. I probably wouldn't read it myself, but for children, yes, hence the high rating. I tend to pick it up to admire the quality of the amazingly detailed illustrations which tell a story themseleves.

Your child needs a good comprehension of the English language to appreciate this book fully, although it gives great scope and opportunity to explain what the more complex words and English idioisms mean e.g. "False sense of security".”

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and cute, 22 Dec 2009
By Mr. Di Zendle "Piping hot potato!" (Potato, Potato) -

“From the TERRIFYING front cover, I was worried that this book would be too frightening for a young audience - however, I was completely wrong. Curd the Lion has just the right mix of tension, adrenaline, and super-cuteness to keep any young reader engaged.”

5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly original and enjoyable romp!, 15 Dec 2009
By Flossy (Surrey) - S

“I bought this book quite a few months ago, but felt compelled to write this review having seen some others here.
I have to say that I vehemently disagree with those who state this book is terrible and not for children. I found the story compelling and the illustrations amazing (no pun intended). The sketchy style of some of the illustrations is reminiscent of E.H. Shepherd and adds to the charm in my opinion. The writing style does remind me of Lewis Carroll to some extent without being derivatory, the comparison is more with the conjuring up of a strange and magical world where incredible characters appear around every bend.

There truly is something for all ages here, from young children who will love the illustrations and the pace of the adventure, to adults with an appreciation of nonsense, wit and puzzles and some memory of how it feels to be a child caught up in the fun of a tale.

The puzzles are clever and although hard to puzzle out, worth a shot! Certainly there are challenges in reading this book, but we don't all want to be spoonfed literature. It is far from a hard read.

I would recommend this book for children of ages 8 and up who are solid readers (although this would be great to read to a child as a bedtime story, a few chapters at a time) and for any adult with a spirit of fun and a love of new adventures in literature.”

4.0 out of 5 stars A great story with wonderful illustrations but is it really for kids?, 7 Dec 2009
By Max -

“Alan Gilliland has written a delightful, often non-sensical story with strong echoes of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: AND Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Classics). And the illustrations really bring the story alive - they are all hand-drawn by the author and make this a book to be kept and treasured.

The story revolves around the animal toys owned by two twins, Henry and Henrietta. When a Great Raven steals Henry and Henrietta's mother's brooch, the animals set off to find the raven and return the brooch. Curd the Lion, Pilgrim Crow, O'Flattery the snake and Sweeney the Heenie (a Hyena) meet various characters along the way and have some frankly bizarre adventures.

All this is great fun, and well worth a read, particularly when Gilliland has illustrated the important events in the story so well.

I can't help wondering, though, what sort of child this book is aimed at. The word-play in the book is really quite complicated - meaning that some of the jokes and whimsy would be missed even by an adult. And the structure of the story is quite complicated too - I had to go back and re-read chapters to understand it at points (though perhaps that's just me!)

Lastly to really appreciate the pictures you have to be reading the book yourself, yet to really do justice to the word-play and whimsy in the book you'd need to hear it read aloud.

None of these points should put you off buying this book, reading it for yourself or for an older child - it's great fun and something to treasure.”

4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative & Fun!, 9 Feb 2010
By Mr. M. P. Duffy (Littlehampton, West Sussex United Kingdom) -

“Although I can see why this might not be for some, if you have a love of the absurd it's a fantastic book. The illustrations are brilliant & distinctive, the text fast paced yet challenging, which is why I feel this book will appeal to both adults & children. Although not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, it more than repays the effort expended in reading it. Overall worth a shot!”

4.0 out of 5 stars Beanie Babies with Bite!, 21 Jan 2010
By Neil Goodacre -

“‘The Adventures of Curd the Lion (and Us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond’ is the first book by Alan Gilliland that I have read. I'm not even sure if there are any books preceding this one, though there are definitely more to follow.

This particular tale follows the tale of Curd the Lion, its titular character, as he and three fellow soft toys embark on a fantastical adventure to save themselves from being condemned to the charity shop. Along the way, Curd and his party encounter all manner of strangers - some good, some bad, some familiar and not so - before everyone comes together for the epic final showdown.

Gilliland's tale deals with the issues you might expect to find in any adventure story - courage in the face of adversity, betrayal and redemption, that sort of thing - but he delivers it with such clever wordplay and a twisted logic that makes for a very refreshing read.

The only issue I have with this book is that it's hard to identify who it is intended for. The key characters are toys, which you would expect from a children's book, and it is illustrated throughout (by Gilliland himself, no less) but the images are monochrome, often with a sinister air to them, and the narrative is, I would imagine, too complicated for a children's book. Gilliland himself says that the book is intended to be "free range" (ie appeal to everybody) but I feel there is a danger that, by trying to appeal to everyone, it may not really appeal to anyone.

And that would be a crying shame because this really is a great title. I look forward to reading it to my little boy when he's a bit bigger.”

4.0 out of 5 stars Adventure for soft toys.................., 30 Dec 2009
By T. Walker (Bedfordshire, UK) -

“The tale is of four soft toy animals who go in search of a stolen brooch that must be recovered to keep them from being discarded. The writing is Reminiscent of that of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. The author has succeeded in delivering on a book that incorporates a terrifically funny yet mysterious story, full of larger-than-life highly improbable characters. The story and the characters are original, to say the least. He's also delivered a story that is full of tongue-in-cheek humour and skilful word-play. Highly recommended!”

Thanks to Dr. K.E.Patrick, reviewer on Amazon.

Galvanised by Dr. K. E. Patrick’s very kind review of Curd on Amazon, I tried to write him a note.
This failed, because of a glitch that ensures I cannot buy anything from Amazon - to wit - no matter how many times I change my password, my email and password never match!

So Here goes. My open letter to the kind Doctor, in the hopes he has a Google alert for his name in operation.

To Dr. K.E. Patrick,
May I thank you and all those others who have responded
positively to my first book (I have not posted before because it seems churlish
to engage in self-defense against those negative reviewers). I am writing to
invite your your two children to go to the website where
they can download a poster to print out (up to about A2 size, I’m told) with
lots of illustrations on it. I would also love to receive their own opinions
(bottom of review page) to add to that page with their names attached. Thanks
again. I am writing the sequel more slowly than I would like, because my
illustration workload (for the Penguin Group, Osprey the military publishers,
Brown Reference Group and others) is so heavy. I also sign copies every
Saturday and through half terms and holidays, mainly in a major book retail

By way of thanks to all my other positive Amazon reviewers I am going to post their reviews in the next post with ditto likewise hopes.
Meanwhile, here’s his review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A gem -- challenges strong readers without mature content, 22 Jun 2010
By Dr. K. E. Patrick (England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and Us!) in the Land at the Back of Beyond (Hardcover)

“I am always struggling to find books that are challenging and engaging for my 9- and 7-year-old without having too much mature content. This book is exactly what I look for in those terms, and seem to be exactly what my children want, too.

Other reviewers have mentioned the illustrations. Those, and the size of print, large enough, clean enough, are a great mix for young, ambitious readers whose eyes are still a bit far-sighted.

The humour, though slated by another reviewer, is one of my children's favourite parts of the book: names like King Ziggu (a rat) and Queen Mumbie-Bumbie (a bee, of course!) and the Dodongs (two-headed dodo) and Corbie (the crow) and the Minorbore (like a minotaur, only boring); they like the puns and the riddles, even the unsolvable one about why the wren-drive is like a sat-king; they like the illustrations and the map at the start; and the chapter titled Pilgrim's Progress, about a crow chasing the jackdaws.

My 9-year-old wants to put this book as one of the best of all time, along with The Hobbit and books by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Basically, a great quest book for children that parents won't mind reading aloud. What can be better than that???”

‘Curd the Lion’ to be an e-Book soon.

Being created by eBook Architects, Joshua Tallent (who is quoted as being the man who “wrote the book for KIndle”).
Should ready by 21st July he says and should work fine across most devices.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Off to Bologna tomorrow + a review

A lovely review (and more) from 10-yr-old
Finlay Morris:
I read this book (obviously) and I loved it!! (Obviously) The best part (to me) is probably when Sweenie "pondered" and brought down the hilarious Balloonafuss, that utterly baffles them! It is totally unputdownable.
It was dedicated to me to inspire me to write a book (well, full story was what it was actually for, but I want to write a book, even though I'm only 10 years old). I'm a bookworm, and read the book in a week. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I now ask everyone I can if they know "why a Wren-drive is like a Sat-king", but nobody can work it out! It's a really good challenge, and, (like the book), I am thoroughly enjoying it!
P.S. I am a budding actor and would love (love, love, love, love, love, love) it if I was given a part in the film that they're going to make of it. I know that it's a stupid request, but I LOVE acting, and would be so (so, so, so, so, so, so) thankful if I was offered a part. Please consider.

Of at the crack of dawn (via Ryanair – courtesy BA).

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Introducing one of my favourite poems…

L'AMOUREUSE, Paul Eluard

Elle est debout sur mes paupières
Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,
Elle a la forme de mes mains,
Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,
Elle s'engloutit dans mon ombre
Comme une pierre sur le ciel.

Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts
Et ne me laisse pas dormir.
Ses rêves en pleine lumière
Font s'évaporer les soleils
Me font rire, pleurer et rire,
Parler sans avoir rien à dire.

(Translated by Samuel Beckett).

She is standing on my lids
And her hair is in my hair
She has the colour of my eye
She has the body of my hand
In my shade she is engulfed
As a stone against the sky

She will never close her eyes
And she does not let me sleep
And her dreams in the bright day
Make the suns evaporate
And me laugh cry and laugh
Speak when I have nothing to say.

Leading up to Bologna - an ever-so-nice-review

Today had this ever so nice review of my book from a book blogger.
check out her blog: (

Wednesday of Whimsy #1- Curd the Lion
Posted on March 17, 2010 by 5minutespeace

The first to feature in ‘Wednesday of Whimsy’ and in competition for one of the longest titles in children’s literature is The Amazing Adventures of Curd the Lion (and us) in the Land at the Back of Beyond by Alan Gilliland (author and illustrator) …sound confused? Yes I was too.

ISBN.9780955548611 published by Raven’s Quill

I think if I explained the story to you, it’s safe to assume you would still be confused but I will tell you this. This is a fantastic book where you really can escape into another world with pets Curd the lion, Pilgrim crow, Sweeney the heenie and O’flattery the snake. I bet you can’t offer any better pet names.

The tale follows twins Henry and Henrietta who live in a cottage near the land at the back of beyond…the sort of place you know nothing about yet stop and stare at everytime you go near it. This place is a place where dodongs and emporors live and promises to offer a wealth of dreams to the children who enter it through Gilliland’s illustrations.

I truly believe the illustrations really sets this story apart from others. Because Gilliland is the author and illustrator he has the scope of understanding what needs to be shown through his drawings. His illustrations fill every page and make it a joy to turn the page. A most wonderful, inspiring book. The kids will dream for days about far away lands with talking insects and things with two heads.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New kids reviews and nice story from Tunisia

I receive three ace reviews last week from kids:
Lucy Ferguson, age: 12
“Wow! i read this in a day! i couldnt stop reading it! I will start to read it again tomorrow :) thanks to Alan gilliland for writing such a gripping and awesome book :)”

Eleanor Francis, age: 9
“WOW!! That was probably the best book I've ever read!!! The Illustrations were fantastic and it kept me enthralled from the first to the last word!! I will definately try to go to Yorkshire to see Nook and Cranny...!”

Nicholas McDonald, age: 12
“I'm so happy that I met Mr Gilliland at Waterstones, Peacock Center, Woking. I read it in 5 days, I couldn't put it down, I love it so much!
My favourite characters were Sweenie and Pilgrim Crow because they were both cool and funny. I can't wait till The Ineffable Emperor comes out!
The book should be turned into a hollywood movie (i love the place hollywood in the book!) I love the book!”

and a nice story from the grandfather of a girl from Tunis:
“Our daughter is married to a Tunisian film director and they have two lovely daughters – Lily, aged 9, and Sarra,7. They come over for Christmas each year and they met you in Waterstone’s in Guildford and bought your book. They were immensely excited to meet an author, as they are great readers and you were the first.
I began reading your book to them that evening and thought it would be too difficult, for them for a year or two. Their first language is colloquial Arabic; they are fluent in English and work in classical Arabic and French at school. Their skill in languages never ceases to astonish me. Lily picked up your book again the next day and never stopped. She adored it and has been pressing me to ensure I get the sequel for her as soon as it appears.
I thought you would like to know this story, If you were able to send Lily a message I know she would be over the moon” (which I did)
and here is her review:
Lilz, aged 10, Tunis, Tunisia. *****
Great Book: "This was the best book I have ever read.
It’s different to any other book I've ever read. There are animals that talk, men made out of rock and a bird with two heads and fingers instead of wings and scales instead of feathers. I can't wait until the next book."

Now that’s enough to cheer the most miserable author, don’t you think? (see previous post)

Monday, 8 February 2010

Too much to do – too little time

A Great Grey nuzzles the gunwales of this little craft. I paddle balefully to stay afloat. My sails have long been in tatters, my oars careworn. Still the massive spectre circles closer, rasping its inquisitive hide against my skin as its lidless eyes scrutinize, seeking weakness. I cannot sleep in the wake of its thrashing tail, or the yawning gape of avarice will snatch its final reckoning.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

New Year’s blog

In the run up to Christmas from November 21st, 430 people kindly bought my book at signings. Thanks to you and all those (totalling some 4,400-odd now) who bought my book during the year.
And a very special thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to give it such amazingly enthusiastic reviews (see review page on

Here are two of the latest:
Benjamin Lewis, age: 6yrs
"Met author bought book. Fantastic, read chapter by chapter at bed time. Can't wait for next adventure.”

Anna Polanska
I really enjoyed it, it was one of the best books i have ever read I could not stop reading it. My favourite part was when they all had a big battle at the corbie stone in the end. My favourite character was sweenie the heenie for he was always getting in trouble with o flattery. Over all I thought it was a great book and for all age groups.
P.S I got to meet the author yay.”

My first book for young adults and adults under the pseudonym Alan Howard is a ghost story – ‘The Flight of Birds’ – first in a trilogy that forms a ‘Danse Macabre’ through which the mysterious figure of the Shabby Tattler weaves tales that come alive in the telling.

Here is a blurb for that first story:
“When her mother dies, Kate and her father bury her in a place beloved of her childhood and go to live in a cottage close by.
Kate meets a one-eyed vagabond who tells her the tale of this place: of a massacre in the name of religion, of imprisonment, rape, torture and murder.
It is a tale that comes alive in the telling as its victims rise up in vengeance to engulf Kate and all around her.
Kate finds herself the unwilling medium through which they will have their revenge.”

It is intended to be published in March, though I am contemplating illustrating it with B&W line drawings which would delay its publication date.

Having secured UKTI grants for foreign book fairs, Raven’s Quill is going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March and we now have the children’s and Y/A scout for Anne Louise Fisher Associates (top UK literary scouting agency) showing Curd to their international clients.
Fingers crossed.

On my illustrating front, I am now working for Osprey in addition to my stalwart, the Penguin Group, and others including Brown Reference Group, Hachette Partworks, Ivy Group and Aurum Press.