Writing in, writing out, writing shake it all about...(and Toppsta Giveaway)

I have my desk set up just how I like it. I built it into a just-big-enough alcove in my rented Georgian flat in Bath (what to do with it when I move out will very much be a bridge to cross at the time). Upon it: my MacBook (with an additional screen), an antique copper lamp, my notebook in which I have been writing the story, and another - smaller - notebook with my notes. My phone is normally hanging around there too, quite distractingly. I like there to be plenty of bare space on my desk. Perhaps it helps my mind focus. Maybe it's more comfortable on my arms. It's probably just because it looks better.

Having said all that, I can't write there all the time. I like to write in different places. Coffee shops (*cliché acknowledgment*), of which there are many good ones in Bath (Colonna & Smalls is a particular favourite), pubs, and of course, the Bath Central Library (which I think the council are wanting to move to a less prominent location - which they shouldn't!) In warmer months, Henrietta Gardens, Victoria Park, or any of the other beautiful outdoor spaces around the city are lovely settings for getting some words on the page. It's in these cold, dark times of winter that it is all too tempting to wear comfy clothes ('slouchies' in my personal vernacular), and stay in my flat, at my desk. I'll be honest, I do succumb to that temptation frequently. However - and I'm sure most writers will agree with me here - it really does help productivity to get out there into the world. To force yourself to wrap up in waterproof layers and venture out to the coffee shop, or pub, or library, with the trudge of someone who is on a mission, even if they'd rather not be. If you do stay in, you must promise yourself to be as disciplined as you would be if you were out. I've learnt, and am still learning, that.

Anyway, it's slightly drizzly out, so I'm in my slouchies, sitting at my desk, drinking a free cup of tea that I made myself.


The lovely people at Toppsta are running a giveaway for a copy of  The Almost Animals.

A little about Toppsta, in their own words:

Toppsta aims to solve this problem for children aged from 0 to 14. Whether you’re a busy parent, a generous grandparent or a baffled auntie, we want to become THE place where children and parents recommend the very best books to each other


Darley Anderson's #DACBaccess

Through November, DA are running an open month for BAME writers and illustrators to receive feedback from the agents and partnering authors. The agency decided to run this month after the CLPE's Reflecting Realities report, which showed that only 1% of books published in 2017 featured a non-white protagonist. Having an open month will hopefully encourage underrepresented writers and illustrators to submit their material.

What a brilliant idea, and I hope they receive loads of truly amazing entries.

DA Blog - Why We're Launching the #DACBaccess

Why Polly Ho-Yen is supporting #DACBaccess


Oh gosh 😳 - "Hugh Holman wows at Edinburgh International Book Fair with The Almost Animals"

From the Strident blog:


WP_20160830_11_38_08_Pro"It wasn’t easy getting close enough to grab a photo of Hugh Holman at Edinburgh International Book Festival today. There were so many pupils carrying pictures of their own made-up aminals (mixed-up animals) that he was much in demand, with lots of signing of The Almost Animals being done.

A big hello to St Cuthbert’s and Fox Covert Primary Schools, just two of those in the excited audience.

Teachers are invariably up against time pressures at the festival. So if anyone wanted a signed book but wasn’t able to get one, let us know and we will do our best to sort something out. Alternatively, you can order direct from our distributors here."





By Keith Charters - Strident Article

Edinburgh International Book Fair

I was lucky enough to be invited to present at the Edinburgh International Book Fair. It is a massive and wonderful festival that runs at the same time as the Fringe and other events that comprise the Edinburgh Festival.

My first presentation was part of the wonderful and important BOOKED! programme, which sends authors to other cities so that under-privileged children who might not be able to visit Edinburgh can get involved. I went up to Aberdeen, and had a brilliant time. I hope the kids did too!

It was on the packed train up to Aberdeen that I found myself eventually sitting next to Ross Montgomery, whom I knew to be talking at the festival as well. He is a lovely chap and has written some amazing books. Check out his website. I dare you not to be charmed. (@mossmontmomery)

Marvellously, I found that I could spot seals from the train back down from Aberdeen.

Back in Edinburgh, I was able to see my good friend William Seaward (@willseaward) and his hilarious one-man show, before my presentation the next morning.

The children were amazing - how do they always come up with such unique and surprising questions! Anyway, the whole trip was fantastic, and so was my t-shirt.

Hamley is a pog

From the Strident blog:

"He’s also one of our favourite aminals.

Aminals are, of course, animals that derive from 2 species. Can you guess which species feature in Hamley’s phylogenetic tree.

Hamley is a bundle of fun. He crashes into Hugh Holman‘s The Almost Animals like a bowling ball into skittles.

Which is your favourite aminal?"



Interviewed by Lou Treleaven

Lou Treleaven is a children's author, writing coach, and playwright. Her books include The Snugglewump, The Snowflake Mistake, and Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip. She is also a lovely human, not least because she keeps an updated list of publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts on her website.

When I finished writing The Almost Animals, I used this list to find Strident, an independent publisher who I thought sounded like a good home for my book. The rest, as they say, is history...as they say.

When The Almost Animals was published, Lou interviewed me about the process, and that very interview can be viewed here (*blushes*) - Hugh Holman's success story

Thank you Lou!


Camberwell Library

I was invited to give a talk at the beautifully-refurbished Camberwell Library, to classes from two local schools. This was really my first author event, and it was thoroughly enjoyable, although one of the first things the lovely librarian said to me was that Anne Fine had just given a talk there. So that was reassuringly intimidating.

Which is your favourite Aminal?

From the Strident blog:


"Today sees the publication of Hugh Holman‘s The Almost Animals. It’s a gem of a book aimed at reading age 7+ but which will delight ‘read to’ children from 5 upwards.

We wonder what everyone’s favourite aminal will be. And that’s not a spelling mistake – we do mean aminal.

Our particular favourite – apart from the star of the show, Angle the crocogator – is the Snortoise (below) that appears at the side of The Always Pond each day. It doesn’t say much, but that’s just fine.


Having said that, Spriglet makes us laugh. Spriglet is half snail, half blue sea slug and very funny. (We think adults reading to children will particularly enjoy Spriglet’s contribution.)


There are loads more to choose from, including The Old Codgers. Why are they called that? You’ll need to read the book to find out."

By Keith Charters - Strident Article

Welcome to the agency

Normally, an author finds an agent to represent them, who then finds a publisher for the book. I did it in reverse. Although I had found the person I wanted to represent me, I am impatient, and sent my manuscript to Strident (who I knew, because of Lou Treleaven's wonderful list, would accept unsolicited manuscripts), before hearing back from the agent. Strident offered me a publishing deal, and not long after that, I heard back from the agent asking for the full manuscript. The agent in question was the lovely Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson Children's Book Agency, who then signed me. Yay!

That was a very happy day for me.


Strident release article

From the Strident blog:


"We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be publishing this gem in October.

The Almost Animals by Hugh Holman tells the tale of Angle the crocogator’s search for acceptance in Elsewhere. (Angle is the green one on the top ledge, under the WELCOME TO NOWHERE sign.)

We adore this book. It’s quirky, uplifting and poignant, with that underdog-deifies-the-odds cleverness of The Gruffalo. Meet a snortoise (bottom right ledge), relax in The Always Pool and journey from Nowhere to Elsewhere. Genius.

It’s aimed at reading ages 7-10 but is also perfect for ‘reading to’ ages 5+.

A quick word on the author… Hugh hails from a place with the brilliant name of The Shoe…and it’s just possible that you’ll have seen him in Dr Who. Nice rhyming!"

By Keith Charters - Strident Article - The Almost Animals