Who: Patrick Ness and Jim Kay(illustrator)
What: Book discussion, signing and art exhibition
Charring Cross Rd
Why: To promote the paperback release of A Monster Calls: The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . . This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Connor.
It wants the truth. Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.
Patrick Ness comes across as very confident and personable and if I’m honest, pretty easy on the eye 🙂 I left the talk feeling very envious of those lucky enough to have attended his lectures on creative writing and looking forward to reading, ‘A Monster Calls’.
The event showcased the genius pairing of Patrick’s penmanship and Jim Kay’s engaging illustrations whilst also paying homage to Siobhan Dowd, the award winning author, who dreamt up the initial premise of, ‘A Monster Calls’ but unfortunately passed away from cancer before committing her story onto paper.
It was clear from the talk that Patrick has a lot of respect for Siobhan’s books and his passion has encouraged me to seek out her works. He was also insistent that he had to write, ‘A Monster Calls’ his way as he wouldn’t have done the story justice by trying to second guess how Siobhan would have written it. Instead he allowed the process to be much more organically driven which has resulted in a truly remarkable book that I’m sure Sinead would have approved of.
During the talk, we were given the chance to admire original prints dotted around the room featuring artwork from the book. Jim Kay described how he completed the project, solitarily working 20hr days whilst staying in Scotland. A country not known for its warm climate at the best of times was being particularly cruel as he found himself in sub zero temperatures and reliant on very dodgy heating.
An image will remain with many of us of him trying to stay warm by wrapping an electric blanket around himself, held tight by gaffer tape. An interesting albeit not recommended way of staying warm. Especially when he had to greet the postman in thus set up and, whilst trying to reserve some shred of dignity, having the hidden plug fall to the floor from between his legs…I can so picture both of them looking down, staring at the plug and neither quite knowing what to say! But…as cruel as it sounds, his discomfort may, rather selfishly be our gain as the artwork is so dark and intense and filled with brooding menace, making you pause at each illustrated page to savour the finer details created by unique and experimental tools such as breadboards and obliging beetles leaving their ink stained footprints on the paper(beetles do have feet right?).
It was also apparent to me that he is such a perfectionist, explaining to us which pieces of artwork he’s not happy with and what he would have done differently even though his artwork on this book has been shortlisted for the ‘Best Art’ award from the BSFA (British Science Fiction Awards) Verdict: Patrick and Jim Kay were engaging and down to earth speakers and I would happily make the effort to see either of them again. Post by Karen