our sea adventure begins… in oxford!

Thursday was a super-exciting day! I met up with Philip Reeve and our agents at the Paddington Bear statue in Paddington station and we took the train to Oxford to celebrate the signing of our four-book contract with Oxford University Press! Here’s my agent, Jodie Marsh, and me. I was so chuffed she could come along, I know she’s SOOO busy, but she said she’d been looking forward to the day out of the office. Yay!

And here’s Philip with his agent, Philippa Milnes-Smith, who just negotiated his Goblins contract with Laika animation studio. I’d never met Philippa before, and she turned out to be great fun, and the four of us had such a good natter about publishing and life in general.

I’ve been to Oxford University Press several times for meetings about When Titus Took the Train, but I’d never noticed this old clocking-in device in the corner of the lobby. So here’s Philip clocking in for us, it was all very symbolic.

Here’s the first of the four books we’ll be working on! You can read a bit more about Seawigs on my blog here or over on Philip’s blog here. (I think we may have renamed it Oliver and the Seawigs.)

And look! Here’s our editor Liz Cross (@LizJCross on Twitter), wearing… an actual SEAWIG! SO AWESOME.

There’s a bit in our story where two characters are trapped inside glass fishing baubles, and, well, whaddya know… there’s a little Philip and a little me in those baubles! I think head of design Jo Cameron made mine and Liz made Philip’s. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Here’s the official contract signing! We had a meeting before lunch and our agents made some tiny changes in the contract, so these copies were still hot off the press.

I’ve never been to a contract signing party before! I think we were all a bit giddy.

Here’s head of publicity Elaine McQuade, who used to work with me at Scholastic. Our writer friend Kjartan Poskitt worked out her initials – EMQ – meant he could call her ‘Er Maj the Queen. (Which we did.)

Yummy lunch! My rule of thumb for restaurants is always to order something I wouldn’t cook myself. And a soufflĂ© is one of those things. In the background you can see some postcards from David Roberts‘ upcoming illustrated Wind in the Willows book. Very exciting, I totally love David’s work. (I put the cards there so they wouldn’t get spattered.)

My huge serving of mussels arrived in a bowl that looked just like Mr Benn‘s hat!

But the most exciting course was the FLAMING BAKED ALASKA. A huge spoonful of flaming brandy over ice cream, coated in cake, coated in meringue. Bliss. Here’s Philip dissecting it.

Thanks so much to Liz, Jo, Clare Whitston and the rest of our team at OUP for such a fabulous day! We’re really excited about these books. Click over to read Philip’s blog post!

We caught the train back to London, and since we were all dressed up, we stopped by The Reform Club on Pall Mall for a reception by my university, Bryn Mawr College, for visiting President Jane McAuliffe. It was great to hear her talk and see other Mawrtyrs (yes, that’s what they’re called, ha ha). But it was also just a great excuse to run around a posh club looking into all the corners and up at fancy ceilings.

Bryn Mawr’s recruiting British students, and for this, they even have SPECIAL MINTS. Yes.

Here’s Philip and me, listening very intently to the speech. Actually, I adored Bryn Mawr. It took me five years to graduate because I ran off to Russia for a second year when I was only supposed to stay there one year, but I could go on and on about how amazing my time there was. It’s really nerdy, everyone loves studying, and since it’s all women, you don’t go there to get a boyfriend, so I was surrounded by lots of happy fellow nerds. Best thing ever.

We were pushing our luck, trying to fit in one more party, but we really wanted to see the show by Louise Evans (aka Feltmistress) and Jonathan Edwards (Jontofski) at Nobrow press on Great Eastern Street. They’re two of my favourite working artists right now, they turn out vast quantities of amazing stuff every single day. But… boo! I had my times wrong. I thought it started at 8:30 and it was really 6:30, so when we got there at 10, the whole thing was over.

But that was okay! I rang Darryl Cunningham, and he said everyone was just around the corner having pizza, so we still managed to catch up. But I’m going to go back to Nobrow next week to see the exhibition of their felt creatures, Hey! Who’s This Guy?, which runs until 23 June. That’s Louise on the left and Jonathan on the right, basking in the glow of Woodrow Phoenix‘s head. And a brochure with a lovely sample of some of the felt creations on exhibition.

Here’s Darryl (have you seen his new book, Science Tales?) and photographer Anna Mondo. Then we were very tired, and it was time to go home.

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