Saturday, 30 January 2010


Not seeming to be having any luck with getting bookings from the schools... ( possible only 10% of those who I have contacted, ever got back to me...I decided to contact Noreen Renshaw from the Stockport Library Service and offer to visit the local libraries in Stockport to perform readings. I wasn't feeling too optimistic due to the fact that she was one of the of the first people to buy several copies of the first edition, and may have even forgotten about me by now. However she did remember and even mentioned a few other people that I should contact from outside the borough who may be interested. A quick google search on on of the names came up with a website which listed all of the respective district library managers for the whole of the North West and subsequently for the rest of the U.K. as well.

Finding a lead like this is like gold dust, so again my Monday was spent on the phone haranguing the unsuspecting "good people" of libraries throughout the North West to see if they would be interested in receiving a copy of the Hairy Plug Monster with a view to stocking it. I "bigged myself up" again on the phone by telling them that the HPM has been compared to the Gruffalo and The Cat in the Hat....(which is a very bold claim to make) and sent off e-mails and letters.

Subsequently I have now got 2 definite bookings in Bury and Runcorn which could possibly lead to them stocking the book as well. I also got the feeling that the library service seems to have very good lines of communication, as some of the coordinators even told me that they were just talking about my book and were expecting my call.

We sent a copy to Chris Everett from the Warrington Borough Council who sent this fantastic email back to us today.
Hi Leighroy I have just received a copy of your book. Thanks so much for sending it as it really cheered up my Friday afternoon. We have been having a mini story time in the library, with my colleague Janet (adult stock manager) reading the book to me. As you can imagine we do get a lot of books sent through for us to read, but this really stands out as one of the best. We will definitely be buying copies via Bertrams, and I was wondering if you are still giving free story sessions at libraries. I will pass on the details to our primary schools too. Good luck with the book, and congratulations on producing such a fun story that I know will be enjoyed.

Chris Everett
Development Librarian -
Youth,Warrington Borough Council -
Leisure, Culture and Heritage Service,
Libraries, Learning and Heritage Division,

Feeling a lot more confident than I maybe should have been, I audaciously emailed the organisers of the Edinburgh Book Festival, Hay Book Festival, and Lymm Festival to ask if I can attend and have a slot to read in....I haven't heard anything yet, but with a bit of luck I may just get a booking for one of them. ( My money is on the Lymm one).

Two definite festivals which will host The Hairy Plug Monster are

Just So Festival August 20 - 22


Zombie Aid which hasn;t got a confirmed date or venue, but welcomed my offer to host a children's tent and tell Golden arm and the othe stories from the book. I also spoke to Carl Whiteley ( the Head Zombie) about working on a project together about an "undead vertically-challenged "girl called Zombelina which may get turned into a stop motion short.

My contact in Japan ( who doesn't want to be identified ) also sent me some classic Japanese picture books to give me a better understanding of the market and what quality is required.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

I am Commander-in-Chief of the World.

Quite a hectic week this week, as the book tour regathered momentum and visited;

Briscoe Primary School
East Didsbury Primary School
Norris Bank Primary School
and I even had chance to re-visit Great Moor Infants, to read the HPM to the reception classes.

I have been refining my performance technique and working on voice projection, so now even when I read to a full school in the assembly hall - I know that they can hear me at the back. (Anyone who has ever tried to have a conversation with me, will know that I used to be the worlds greatest mumbler.....well not any more, its taken 40 years but at least now you know what I am saying).

From what I have noticed, Golden Arm has swiftly become more popular than the HPM with me reading the tale all the way from year 1 to year 6 ( I cant bring myself to scare the reception classes, because that would be too cruel).

I have started work on the second spooky tale called Commander-in-Chief of the World, which is about a young boy who does nothing but play video games. One day when his mother has had enough and tells him to go out for some fresh air, he meets a man who sells him a game that no-one else has ever played.

When the boy goes home to play, he finds that every hit that his spaceship takes - makes his house shudder, and it isn't long before he realises that he is playing the game for his own survival. Below are the opening verses, (which still need a bit of fine tuning)

I am Commander-in-Chief-of-the-world and I haven’t got time to tidy my room,
Alien invaders need to be stopped,
Only I can save us from doom.

If you give me five minutes, I’ll stop the attack, and send them all back into space
For I am Commander in Chief of the World, and everything else has to wait.

“Tidy your room, and take out the trash – I’ve asked you enough times already today”
“Mum – wait till I’ve won, I’ll be quick as a flash…it’s important to finish my play”

As he gripped the controls on his smart games console, The spaceship explodes with a flash and a

He was winning the war, with a brand new high score.

Nobody, nowhere was better than this.

Then the t.v. went blank and the world wasn’t saved - somebody somewhere,
had turned off the power.

“You need some fresh air, it’s a beautiful day – I don’t want you back for an hour”

And so he went out,
without lasers or guns,
no spaceship to take him around

The Commander in chief – had to wait for a bus
While his mother drove off into town.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Is it right to make your audience smile and jump at the same time??

I really did intend to hit the ground running in 2010, but the "big freeze" meant that schools were closed and peoples minds were on other things instead of my book. So all my plans were put back a week while I went on a mission to find two sledges for my daughters. After three days of hunting high and low I finally managed to get some and then the remainder of the week was spent chaperoning Arisha and Maya around the snow covered hills in the area, and making vats of soup to keep them warm.

Finally the schools did reopen and I was back on the telephones ringing around and "bigging myself up". Having exhausted the schools in Stockport, it was now time to lead an assault on the Manchester LEA, but rather disappointingly only a handful responded to my emails offering the chance of a "real author" to visit and give readings to the pupils.

Its a bit of a catch 22 situation - The Hairy Plug Monster is a relative newcomer (even though Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends are probably fatigued with it by now). The word hasn't filtered down to the schools yet, and the only way we can get to inform the kids ( who will hopefully then go and tell their parents about the book) is to visit their schools and give readings and basically perform the poems so it leaves an imprint.

However, if the schools don't know who you are, they are less inclined to invite you in the first place.....

"Leighroy Who? , never heard of you !!".

With this in mind I have decided to put 110% into the schools that have invited me, and have been working on my performance skills ( I have a CSE in Drama .....don't you know).

The results of my labours became apparent this week when I visited Lisburne Lane School and Reddish North Primary. Having read The Hairy Plug Monster, I then move on to Golden Arm, which is fast becoming a favourite, but I warn the pupils that it is a ghost story, so they must promise not to jump....

Naturally, because of the way that it is written and delivered - they jump, despite my warnings to them. I have also started to hide my face just as I get to the line,

"Then the cupboard doors open, and he screamed......."

Before thrusting my head forward through the pages ( as if they were doors) and shouting


Simple, but really effective. As yet, I haven't come across a poem that literally makes the audience jump and I have to admit it is gratifying to see its effect.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year from the Hairy Plug Monster

The HPM took a back seat over the Christmas period as the girls were off school, and there was snow everywhere - however as the handbrake comes off 2010 and January is put into first gear, I am itching for the schools to reopen and invite me in.

Bookings for January so far

6th Reddish Primary School
13th Lisburne Lane Primary School
22nd Heaton Norris Primary School
23rd Waterstones Altrincham 11.00 Reading
28th Warren Wood Primary School
29th Etchells Primary School

Just before the Christmas holidays I did get chance to read Golden Arm to the pupils of Ladybrook Primary and Adswood Primary schools and the response was brilliant. I was initially worried that the poem may be too long, but that seems unfounded especially as I walked about the classroom - "Brechtian style", making sure I made eye contact with everyone and when I was sure I had their attention I put extra emphasis in the words and steadily increased the tension to the end before delivering the " YOU'VE GOT IT" line with gusto.