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Meet the publishers: SCBWI

February 3, 2017


Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre in association with the SCBWI holds a panel discussion on children’s writing with industry insiders

If you are aspiring to be a writer then this was a valuable event to attend at Goldsmiths University in London. Entitled; Meet the publishers: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, it consisted of a panel of leading contributors. Polly Nolan, a literary agent from the Greenhouse Literary Agency, Sam Smith from the fiction publisher, Scholastic, Felicity Trew, literary agent from the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency, Liz Banks, editor at Egmont Publishing and Sara Grant, Goldsmith’s lecturer and founder of SCWBI’s undiscovered voices.

The discussion focused on issues and opportunities in the children/teen publishing industry. The contributors were passionate about what they call The Voice in writing. It has to be authentic. It has to be original said Sam. It is the one thing I look for, she went on to say, when I receive manuscripts. As I’m reading I ask myself, are the voice and characters shining through. Polly gave an example. Take Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra, she said. Give them the same song to sing and you will find they sing it differently, they sing it in their own unique style. The same is true for writing. Think about what makes your work a piece of writing, your writing. Liz said even if you create a different world, a world of fantasy, a historical world, even then your voice must shine through. It must feel like you’ve lived in that world.

Next they talked about the common pitfalls writers make when they approach agents. Felicity said if you are writing for children then please write for children. Think about who you are writing for. Is it a picture book? Is it a for a young adult or is it for teens. Make sure your voice is not patronising. Know that a jarring phrase can break the spell for agents and your manuscript does not get a further look. Liz added if you are writing comedy, write what makes you laugh. It has to have authenticity. Never sacrifice yourself for the publishing industry and be confident about your writing. Polly stressed that writers should not send their scripts before they are ready. Revise it as often as you can. Put it away for six months, go back to revise more. Revise, revise, revise. And once you are ready, put it aside for another two weeks, revise one final time and then send it off with a query letter and synopsis and allow yourself to work on them. Sam talked about feedback and critiques. Publishing, she said was a collaborative process. Think about the advice you are given but don’t follow it slavishly.

And finally the contributors touched on what they described as print reading and e-reading.. Liz pointed out that agents, editors and publishers still think it’s important to hold books in your hand and read them. She said, however there’s been a huge shift towards the digital market in adult reading..

and a link has been put up for further reading if you’re interested:

The contributors then chatted about a writer’s profile on social media. They all agreed the old idea of an author sitting alone in a shed writing away is gone. With technology increasingly taking over our lives, readers want to see more and learn more about an author’s life. So It is important to have a social media profile if you are serious you want to be a writer.

They ended with a quick look at e-publishing. They said it had opened up the publishing market and presented writers with a huge opportunity. They said embrace the opportunity to get your book published.

I hope this is helpful. It was well worth attending and gives you an insight into what agents, publishers and editors are thinking.

Pop-up Beard Book

January 23, 2017


3   5   2

If you like beards and pop-up books and have young children, then this is the workshop for you.

Make your own beard-themed pop-up creation in my next hands-on, half-term workshop at the Florence Nightingale Museum. For my return visit to this lovely venue located within St ThomasHospital, I’m taking my  inspiration from ‘The Age of the Beard’ exhibition currently on show there to deliver  three 1-hour family sessions 6encompassing 3D paper skills, design and illustration.

Learn how to make pop-ups with moving parts and how to assemble a finished book.

The workshops are suitable for 5+ with parents and carers. Adults will be encouraged  to take part but don’t worry, no experience necessary and results are guaranteed.  Materials will be provided, you just bring the creativity!

The workshops are free but normal entry fee to the museum applies. Booking is recommended.

Family Workshop: Pop-up Beards!
Wednesday 15 February, 11.00-12.30, 1.30-3.00 & 3.00-4.30

This workshop is free with admission

Booking details
Places are limited, to book please visit

Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EW

Great opening lines

January 5, 2017


“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

When I read this book a few years back, I didn’t just gently weep, I lay on the sofa and howled. Don’t think I can go to the film…




A novel by Patrick Ness

From an original idea by Siobhan Dowd (who died, and so the baton – her idea and thoughts for this story – was passed on).



December 22, 2016


I’ve always thought that the most difficult part of writing a story is getting the first chapter right. It must draw the reader in, give them enough information but not too much, create a memorable setting, bring the characters alive and give the plot enough impetus to hold the reader’s interest and make sure they continue to the next chapter.

20161222_000705_resizedHowever over the last couple of weeks I’ve been wrestling with ending a book. I don’t mean finding the perfect end, the twist that will make sense of the rest of the book or the right way to resolve the story. No, I mean ending the writing process, taking my hands off the keys and telling myself that I have finished this particular piece of writing; it is time to move on to something else.

I find it a very difficult thing to do.

I have been made particularily aware of this on my most recent project, as it has been a collaboration. The person, I have been working with, comes from a very different background, with a much more pragmatic approach to writing.

So when is a story finished?

I suppose, in my head, I have the notion of the perfect, a piece of writing so polished, that it cannot be improved upon in any way at all. I tell myself that this is what I am working towards, as I edit and re-edit, write and rewrite, change, punctuate, delete, copy and paste over and over again,

At the same time, I also tell myself that every deletion and rewrite is an additional guarantee that the story will not only be accepted by a publisher but go on to win the Carnegie Book Award and be picked up Disney and turned into a multi-million pound franchise. To ensure, a bidding war among publishers, all I have to do is rewrite a particular phrase or sentence, even if the rewording is merely changing an ‘and’ to a ‘but’. I am therefore loathe to let the work go, in case I have missed that surplus adjective in the fourteenth chapter in my frantic reading and rereading of the text -a suplus adjective that will spoil any chance of getting it published.

Of course, I am deluding myself in all this.

There are other reasons for delaying finishing.

By refusing to accept that a piece of writing is ready to be read by others, I am postponing any critical reaction or rejection. Every re-edit is a precious moment gained, in which I can avoid sending the story off to my agent and getting a negative response.

The writing process is full of hope. At the start, you hope the story will come alive sufficiently for you to stay with it. As you continue writing, you hope it will be enjoyed. At the finish, you hope it will be published, be reviewed and be a success.

But once you have packaged a story and sent it off, reality sets in. You can still hope but there is nothing more you can do. Except accept the probable rejection when it comes as sanguinely as possible.

Avo-cado surprise!

December 16, 2016


I’ve just been on my longest school visit ever, although it wasn’t a visit in the usual sense. This trip was to a small primary school in Mohali, northern India. I went there as a trustee of the UK charity that helped found it. If I was going to fundraise and advocate on its behalf, I wanted to understand more about Bright Sparks School. While I was there, I also did some sessions with the kids, using my own and other people’s books.

The children live in a shanty town called Mohali Colony. Their parents are mostly labourers or roadside fruit & veg sellers. The kids come to school in their (donated) blue uniforms, from ramshackle homes built on rough ground beside a sewage-tainted river. Their only clean water comes from standpipes in the street. Mostly, each family lives in one room.

The children speak a mixture of home languages: Punjabi, Hindi, other state languages, and English – this being the language they speak least confidently. I had taken some bi-lingual picture books with me, and they were even more useful than I imagined. One of them was ‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne (once a member of this writers’ group!) with dual texts in English/Punjabi, and English/Hindi. It’s a story of an African girl who sets out with seven fruits as a gift for her friend. On the way, various rascally animals steal the different fruits…

I read this book with all five classes in turn. With the younger ones, the teacher read the Punjabi or Hindi page first, and then I read the English. In the older classes, the children read the Indian languages and then learnt to read aloud the English with increasing confidence. All the classes enjoyed recalling the words for the eight animals and eight fruits featured in the story. Surreal scenes in my life now include the memory of standing in a room full of Punjabi kids, all chanting avo-caDO! avo-caDO! – this being a fruit and vocabulary item previously unknown to them all.

Before leaving, I offered to hold a whole-school session using this story. The older kids would do the readings in Hindi and Punjabi, and after, they would all sample and vote for their favourite fruit. The day before, I went to a wholesale fruit market in search of the now much anticipated avo-cados. Sadly, none were available. But later in the evening, my host family kindly took me across Chandigarh to a specialist shop where we could buy some. We also bought some other unusual vegetables to take home with us, like rocket and pak choi.

But, when I arrived at school the following day laden down with all the fruits, I found to my horror that the avocados were not there. Like Handa in the story, I had somehow lost them along the way. To everyone’s polite dismay, we had to use the ubiquitous kiwi fruit as a stand in!

help-with-shoes-img_4254While the staff were cutting up the fruit in the school kitchen, one of the younger boys appeared amongst us. Without being asked he just set about peeling and preparing the pineapple for everyone. His parents, of course, were fruit sellers. There were many times during my stay when I was struck by the sheer competence and can-do approach of these children. I saw older boys – again unprompted – helping younger children with their unfamiliar shoe-laces on sports day. The classrooms were often cleared of their wooden folding furniture, quickly and safely, by the kids themselves. On visits to their homes, I found them cooking family meals, doing the family wash by hand, sewing and cleaning and looking after siblings, all while their parents worked.
Of course, these are not necessarily the activities I think the children should be doing. Quite the reverse. One of the reasons for the very existence of Bright Sparks School is to give these kids a space in their lives where they can be children, learning and playing, and leaving those adult responsibilities aside. But, I was still impressed by the way in which kids from such precarious backgrounds shared the limited resources and cramped spaces in this little school, and supported each other with great good humour and only the occasional spat.

The avocados did turn up. I’d left them behind at the shop(!). They were sampled by everyone the day after I left. But apparently the favourite fruit was still the one voted for on the day of the readings and the fruit feast. And the winner was… mango. A fruit and a word with its origins in the nearby Himalayas. So no-one had any problem saying that!


Literature, representation and disability

November 23, 2016


I recently delivered a speech at Nottingham Festival of Literature on this interesting subject – how disabled people are represented in literature. The speech is in four parts, and I’ve also embedded links to the speech, which I then recorded later, on my Soundcloud account, where you can have a listen here by clicking on the Soundcloud link.

A quick run-down here:

First of all, I looked at representation of disabled people in classical times. I then moved on to look at representation in medieval times and up until today (yes, a whistlestop tour!) I also looked at the theories of representation, before moving on to where we are now. I examined identity politics, about which I have some reservations, and I looked at the current theme of cultural appropriation, and how it links to disability representation. I want to see disabled writers venture forth from the haven of the first person account, and write more sci-fi, historical fiction, thrillers and so on, not just criticise what non-disabled writers have to say. As the writer, James Baldwin says: ‘My position, though, is that I will not tell another writer what to write. If you don’t like their alternative, write yours.’ Read his full interview, here, in the Paris Review, it’s a wide-ranging and thought-provoking read, and I agree with much of what he says.

My speech is available below as a transcript as well. In it, I draw on research I conducted on literature, art and representation for my first book, Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people. It’s still in print if you want to buy it.



A message from over the wall


This is a wide-ranging subject, about which a lot of ink has been spilt. I looked at it, myself, in my own book, Scapegoat, published five years ago and will draw on some of that research tonight. However, I want to broaden out from good and bad representation, and the inevitable book lists (although examples are important), and set the whole debate in a wider context. I also want to talk both more personally and politically tonight – about the importance of good writing, about genre and about who represents whom, and on what basis. The disability scholar, Hugh Gregory Gallagher said, of the “land of the ‘crippled”, (his words) that “a great wall surrounds this place, and most of what goes within this wall is unknown to those outside it. What follows is a message from over the wall.” Our task, as writers, is to explore unknown worlds; take walls down; create understanding. In this context, I believe that means that writing about disability should be invested with universal meaning, so that we can look for what we have in common with each other and critiquing it should follow the same lines too.

I’m going to talk for about three-quarters of an hour, and then we are going to take some questions and have a discussion. I will look at historical representation first, then move on to the disability movement and its critiques of mainstream literature. I will discuss some texts that I think are interesting, discuss the vexed question of cultural appropriation and, of course, the uses of #criplit.

First of all, I wanted to give a sense of how my own interest in disability affairs and in representation.

When I was about thirteen, I woke one night, about midnight, with a terrible pain in my head. It crushed me, dazzled me and left me almost unable to function. I remember stumbling down to the dark kitchen and wandering around, wondering what was wrong with me. At some point I must have got myself back to bed, and back to sleep. My mother told me later that I had written a farewell note, saying that I was dying, and that I wanted the family to know how much I loved them.

Although I didn’t realise till later, I had just experienced my first acute migraine attack. I treated subsequent ones, without a diagnosis, in a slapdash manner until they worsened quite dramatically and I was diagnosed with chronic migraines – a neurological disorder – some years ago. Mine is not the only experience of disability or impairment in the family. My grandfather was deaf, after a childhood illness; my great uncle, Henri, was a blind war veteran in France. Other family members have Aspergers. Others, towards the end of their lives, have experienced dementia. A close relative had a traumatic brain injury some years ago. Seeing attitudes towards that last relative change, after disability, informed the writing of my book, Scapegoat, which examines violence towards disabled people and the culture within it sits.

That brings me nicely on to the next part of my talk – a brief cultural history of the representation of disability. I wanted to run through some of the powerful, cultural archetypes that still engulf the lives of disabled people today, right back to classical times, where attitudes were formed that still linger today, both in representation and in reality.

One of the most powerful archetype is that of the scapegoat. When a crisis or disaster struck a Greek city, bringing down the ire of the Gods upon the mortals, the citizens would select an offering to appease their wrath. The scapegoat – or pharmakos, in Ancient Greek, would sometimes be expelled forever from the city state, sometimes even sacrificed. All too often the offering, that cleansed and purified the nation, was a “useless” person[1] or an “outcast”.[2] Some one “mistreated by nature”[3] was often targeted too, it seems. All these words suggest that disabled people were all too often selected as a perfect candidate for scapegoating. The finest and most respected of Greece’s ancient moral philosophers also agreed that only the fit should survive. In Sparta, according to Plutarch, in his account of the founder of the state, Lykourgos, written in the 1st or 2nd Century AD, it was a legal requirement of citizenship that all children should be examined. “Whenever a child was born, it was taken to a council of elders for examination. If the baby was in any way defective, the elders dropped it into a chasm. Such a child, in the opinion of the Spartans, should not be permitted to live.” [4] It was a grim end indeed, it seems. Plutarch wrote that “ill born or misshapen children are sent to the place called Apothetae, a ravine at the Mount Taygetus.”[5] In Book Five of Plato’s Republic, Socrates muses, “The offspring of the inferior, and any of the other sort who are born defective, they will properly dispose of in secret, so that no one will know what has become of them.” [6]Aristotle agrees, saying in The Politics: “as to exposing or reading the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared.” [7] What nobody knows for sure is whether these edicts were Utopian or were actually enacted (the scholar, Rosemary Garland Thomson, contends that few were actually killed)[8].

However widespread the truth of the practice might be, those who led the moral thinking of the Greeks had but one exhortation – cleanse the state of disability. Two of the most famous Greek depictions of Paradise, Plato’s Republic and the Utopis of Diodorus, were places where disability was banished. Plato not only said that disabled babies must be killed, but that disabled priests were strictly forbidden. In Utopis, anyone acquiring a disability was instructed to kill themselves.

Disability was, as it is too often today, seen as shameful. Even the God Hephaestus was banished from heaven because of his impairment. His mother, Hera, in the Homeric Hymn to the Pythian Apollo, says: “my son Hephaestes, whom I bare was weakly among all the blessed gods and shrivelled of foot, a shame and a disgrace to me in heaven, whom I myself took in my hands and cast out so that he fell in the great sea.”[9] Hephaestus, in The Odyssey, internalises this hatred: “Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, scorns me for that I am lame, and loves destructive Ares because he is comely and strong of limb, whereas I was born misshapen.” He bewails his very birth: “for this is none other to blame but my two parents – would they had never begotten me.”[10] Indeed, Aphrodite took a non-disabled lover, to compensate for her husband being a “cripple” – and therefore thought of, even today, as impotent and unmanned.

Disability is also connected with evil – a prejudice that gains even more power in the Medieval Ages and beyond, in the time of the witch-hunts. Hephaestus is often represented with one leg shortened to denote his lameness; and throughout the Middle Ages it was popularly believed that his cloven hoof was the one feature, which the devil was unable to disguise.

However, lameness acquired, or limbs lost, in battle was accepted, up to a point – a first sign, perhaps, of what we now call the ‘hierarchy of impairment’. Indeed, men with a variety of physical impairments participated in the military. Artemon, in Plutarch’s Pericles, was very lame.[11] “Ephorus says that Pericles actually employed siege-engines, in his admiration of their novelty, and that Artemon the engineer was with him there, who, since he was lame, and so had to be brought on a stretcher to the works which demanded his instant attention, was dubbed Periphoretus.” That said, some disabled soldiers were taunted. In The Iliad, the soldier Thersites is mocked for being lame, a hunchback and ugly, although he was not excluded from the army.[12]

Disability is also a stigma – as it can be today, although some conditions are less stigmatized than others, with mental health and learning difficulties carrying, arguably, most stigma. As the sociologist, Erving Goffman writes in Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity, the Greeks coined the term stigma to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier. The signs were cut or burnt into the body and advertised that the bearer was a slave, a criminal or a traitor – a blemished person, ritually polluted, to be avoided, especially in public places.”[13] He argues that there are three different types of stigma. One is that of disability – what he calls the “abomination” of the body, when it is deformed. Then there is the blemish of individual character. And, thirdly, there are the “tribal stigma” of face, national and religion.

As the Roman Empire gained territory, and the Greek Empire fell, one legacy remained: hostile attitudes towards disability. The Romans, indeed, extended the abuse of both disabled children and adults, in their open enjoyment of “freakery” and spectacle. They, too, discriminated against disability from birth. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romulus, the founder of Rome, demanded that “all the city’s residents should raise all their male children and the first born of the girls and not kill any child under three unless the child was deformed or monstrous in which case it was to put to death immediately after birth.” The mother had little or no say in the fate of her children. It was the father, or patria, who determined whether the child should live or die. The Twelve Tables of Roman Law dictated that the deformed child should die, after being shown to five neighbours.[14]

The scapegoat crops up again too, with the scholar, Carlin A Barton noting that “the monster, and especially his avatar, the grotesque stupidus, ranked among the principal and most effective sacrificial decoys and scapegoats required to preserve the ‘roman’. They were the recipients of many of the blows aimed at deformity…Embodiments of chaos and representatives of the society, the stupidi, were types of the scapegoat.”[15] But it was perhaps in their fascination with the “freakshow”, the spectacle, that the Romans can be seen to have passed their ideas about disability down to the Victorians and beyond. As Cicero writes: “in deformity and disfigurement there is good material for making jokes.”[16] The monsters – disabled people – were seen as wonderful spectacles. Dwarfs, hunchbacks and fools were all in demand as entertainers (singers, clowns, jugglers to name but a few). Indeed, Plutarch and Longinus note that children were even deliberately deformed[17] by being bound and confined in boxes so that they could be sold at the “terator agora”, or “monster market”. As in Victorian times human deformity became a marvel of the natural world, and disabled people collector’s items. Pliny recalls in his catalogue of human wonders, Natural History, (7.74-75), the giant Gabbara, brought in the age of Claudius, and the dwarf Cinopas, kept by the granddaughter of Augustus, Julia, as a pet. He writes: ““the tallest person seen in our age was a man called Gabbara…just under ten feet tall…the smallest man was Cinopas, just about two half feet tall.”[18]

The Romans, too, saw disability as a stigma – as something that might make the disabled people powerless in themselves, but powerful in that they could pass on their sin to others. The disabled person was not only seen as struck down by God, but, in some ways as being able to pass his or her sin on to others. Pliny writes in his Natural History: “We spit on epileptics in a fit, that is, we throw back contagion. In a similar way we ward off witchcraft and bad luck which follows meeting a person lame in the right leg.”[19] In many cultures this remains true today. The “hunchback”, for instance, is both hated and feared – in many Mediterranean cultures they are still seen as the manifestation of sin, and also able to curse. Even the disabled Emperor Claudius, who escaped death at birth only because he was from the highest echelons of Roman society, was subject to abuse from both the Roman nobility and Roman Guards prior to taking the imperial throne because of his impairment, now thought to be cerebral palsy and resulting mobility impairments. Even his mother, Antonia, treated him with contempt and referred to him as “a monster of a man, not finished by nature and only half done’”[20]

However, in Egypt and Mesopotamia, other ancient cultures, there is a far more generous attitude towards disability. In one ancient Eygptian text, the Instruction of Amenemope, it states:

“Do not laugh at a blind man

Nor tease a dwarf

Nor cause hardship for the lame.

Don’t tease a man who is in the hand of the God

Nor be angry with him for his failings.

Another ancient myth, that of Enki and Ninmah, in Mesoptomaia, describes the creation of humanity in a “playful tale” which celebrates and explains the origin of “normal” and “abnormal” human forms.[21] It was only when the Egyptians feared genetic contamination that they enforced normalcy, in the words of Lennard Davis.[22] Some texts suggest burying children with a condition that is similar to Huntingdon’s. But it was not a common fate for disabled children. Unfortunately, however, the civilisations of Greece and Rome have influenced our culture more than those from Eygpt and Mesopotamia. Our legacy from those times is one rich in contempt for disabled people. Sinner, slave, scapegoat, stigma and spectacle – a human without humanity, who should be banished from sight and segregated permanently – these images of disabled people and attitudes towards them, are hardwired into our culture.

For parts Two, Three and Four of the speech, do pop over to my website to read the rest (or, of course, you can listen on the link above).

A teaser from Part Four is below, which looks at identity politics and literature.


Don’t get me wrong – I’m in accord, broadly, with crip lit principles, and not just on the point of consultation. Speak to people about their conditions if you are going to include that condition in a book. Be generous with the work of disabled writers who may have had a harder journey to get to publication. Promote their work – if you like it. Take a good, long look at the crip lit hashtag and read intensively. Do be careful with language – use what disabled people have asked to use. This isn’t that difficult – ask the community. But push back as well, if you feel your creative integrity is being challenged by dogma.

And then, whoever you are, whatever your background, don’t be afraid. Put pen to paper. Bring those walls crashing down, through your empathy – and your skill. Nothing should be off limits. You are a writer. Go and write.

Thank you.

[1] Equites, 1969, Ed D M Jones, 243, from Todd M Compton, Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior, and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth And History, (Center for Hellenic Studies, 2006)

[2] Pharmakos and Katharma as Words of Abuse, translated by HJ Vince, text from gebhard#22

[3] W J W Koster, ed, commentarium in Ranas et in Aves Argumentum Equitum which is fasc 111 of Lydia Massa Positano, D. Holwerda, WJW Joster, Jo.Tzetzae Commentarii in Aertisophenenm, part 1V of W.J W Joster, Scholia in Aristophanem (Groningen: JB Wolters, 1960), trans Todd M Compton, 733a

[4] “Plutarch. Lycurgus: The Father of Sparta, Lycurgus 1

[5] ibid

[6] Plato, The Republic, translated by Storey, checking pub date 460c

[7] Ibid, 1328-30a, 1335b

[8] Martha L Rose, The Staff of Oedipus, (University of Michigan, 2003), quoting Rosemary Garland Thompson, checking ref

[9] Plato, The Republic, 316-319, translation by Evelyn White, checking pub date

[10] Homer, (8.308-12). The Odyssey

[11] Plutarch, Pericles

[12] Homer, The Iliad, 2.216-219

[13] Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity (Pelican, 1968), 11

[14] Dionysius of Halicarnassus (2.15), in Neal H Walls, The Origins of the disabled body, Disability in Ancient Mesoptomaia, in This Abled Body: rethinking disabilities in biblical studies, Hector Avalos, Sarah J. Melcher, Jeremy Schipper, (Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 38

[15] Carlin. A Barton, The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans, (Princeton University Press, 1993),146

[16] Cicero, Oratory 2.239

[17] Longinus, de sublimatae 44.5

[18] Pliny, Natural History, 7.74-75, (Penguin, 2004), translation Jones

[19] Pliny, Natural History, 28.7, (Penguin 2004), translation Jones

[20] RRJ Garland, The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World (London, Duckworth, 1995), 41

[21] Neal H Walls, The Origins of the disabled body, Disability in Ancient Mesoptomaia, in This Abled Body: rethinking disabilities in biblical studies, Hector Avalos, Sarah J. Melcher, Jeremy Schipper, (Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 19

[22] Lennard Davis, Enforcing Normalcy, (Verso, 1995)

[23] William Shakespeare, Richard 111, V, vi, 78-83

[24] Colin Barnes, Leeds University disability archive,

[25] H. C. Eric Midelfort, A History of Madness in Sixteenth Century Germany (Stanford University Press, 1999) 228-276

[26]M Miles, Martin Luther and Childhood Disability in 16th Century Germany, Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, 2001, vol 5 (4), 6

[27] Midelfort, 233

[28] Ibid, 276

[29] Howell, Michael & Peter Ford, The True Story of the Elephant Man, (Middlesex: Penguin, 1983)

[30] Treves and the Elephant Man, reprint of “The Elephant Man”, Royal London Hospital, 2003, 10-11

[31] DJ Kevles, In the name of Eugenics, (Harvard University Press, 1985), 145

[32] GK Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils (Cassell, 1922)

[33] Erving Goffman, Asylums, (Penguin, 1968),73

[34] Ibid, 73

Chapter 7: Brave new world?

[35] “Representation and its Discontents: The Uneasy Home of Disability in Literature and Film” from The Handbook of Disability Studies

[36] Ibid, 196.

[37] Ibid, 205.

Spooky Ride

October 31, 2016


Happy Hallloween! Here’s a video of Spooky Ride, my first ever pop-up book, published by Tango Books way back in 2001. Spooky ride was the start of a long and fruitful relationship with Tango Books that still continues. The paper engineer for the project was the very patient Matt Johnstone whom I bombarded with questions at the time. It wasn’t until pop-up book 2 that I took on that role myself, picking it up as I went along.

I’d seespooky-09n a funfair ghost train in Finsbury Park and wondered how that could translate into 3D book. The final book has one continuous train track running through holes in the pages, out the back of the book, round to the front and back in again – so you can read it over and over and over and over… My brief was to base the illustration style a little on ‘Funnybones’, keep the colours pure and make it scary! – well, sort of, it’s a children’s book.


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