PIERS TORDAY (1974 - )
Curtis Brown Group Ltd
I was born in 1974, in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people. My father Paul worked for the family engineering business in Newcastle, while my mother Jane ran a children's bookshop in Hexham called Toad Hall Books. Alongside my younger brother Nick, I spent my very early years crawling around on the floor of that shop, surrounded by piles of books right from the start. I was extremely lucky to come from a writing background. My grandfather Roger Mortimer was a racing journalist who wrote hundreds of very funny letters to his children and grandchildren, and you can learn the extraordinary story of his life in Dearest Jane, by him and my mother, Jane. I enjoyed reading, writing and drawing from an early age. My parents loved reading to me, and I particularly enjoyed books with good pictures - such as the Moomin stories by Tove Jansson, The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and Herge's Tintin graphic novels. Other favourites included Roald Dahl, C. S. Lewis's Narnia series and Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. My mother was always writing as I was growing up - newspaper articles, gardening and cookery books, local history - and it seemed a normal thing to want to do. My first cartoon, aged 7, was about a superhero called Super Sid, which won a competition in a local newspaper. Then I started making comics, and my first one was about all the sheep who lived on the hills around us, called. . .The Sheep! At school, I spent most of my time in the library or the computer room, where I wrote short stories and funny articles for the school magazine. Then I went to university, where I was meant to study English but mainly wrote, directed or produced plays and comedy shows. My first job, in 1996, was in a fringe theatre in London, The Pleasance, where I started working behind the bar but was eventually allowed to read a few scripts and then help choose what plays were put on, both in London and at their Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue. Then I co-ran a theatre production company, touring new plays and promoting comedians. I also worked in TV for several years, including a short spell in Los Angeles, coming up with ideas for everything from reality shows to hidden camera pranks. On a break between TV jobs one summer in 2008, I booked myself onto an Arvon writing course at Ted Hughes's old house on the West Yorkshire moors, and it was there I began writing the adventures of a boy called Kester who can't talk to people but can talk to animals, in an environmentally precarious world. Finally, after 17 drafts, and many early mornings and late nights later, The Last Wild was published in 2013 by Quercus Children's. It was nominated for the Carnegie Award shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, the UKLA Award, and won both Stockton Children's Book of the Year and Calderdale Children's Book of the Year. The book has been published in 13 other countries, including the USA, and the film rights have been optioned. I am currently working on the screenplay. That same year, I married Will Tosh, an academic. In 2014, the sequel to The Last Wild, The Dark Wild, came out, and won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The third and final book in the series, The Wild Beyond came out in 2015, and was shortlisted for Islington Book of the Year. After my father died in 2013, I found his last unfinished novel (a political thriller for adults) amongst his papers. With the agreement of my brother and his agent and editor, I finished the book for him , and The Death of an Owl was published in 2016 by W&N. That Christmas, my fourth book for children, There May Be A Castle was published by Quercus Children's. It was a Children's Book of the Year in The Times and has just come out in paperback. You can also read some new short stories by me in Winter Magic (curated by Abi Elphinstone), Wisp of Wisdom and Scoop magazine. I also occasionally write articles and book reviews for The Guardian, The Daily Expressand The Spectator, amongst others. I have judged the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and this year I'm also delighted to be judging the Costa Children's Book Award. My adaptation of John Masefield's classic The Box of Delights will open at Wilton's Music Hall in London this Christmas, starring Matthew Kelly and Josefina Gabrielle. I am currently working on a new series of adventures, to come out next year, alongside a new play and a new film, but spend most of my time wrangling our very naughty - but adorable - puppy, Huxley. (DEC 2017)
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Kay Harker is heading home for the school holidays. Recently orphaned, he knows this Christmas will be different but nothing could prepare him for the journey that lies ahead. On the train he meets an old magician, Cole Hawlings, who charges Kay with safeguarding a wondrous device that has time-travelling powers. It's an instrument that Cole's nemesis, the wicked sorcerer Abner Brown, will stop at nothing to steal for himself. And so when the old man mysteriously disappears, Kay faces the fight of his life. He must protect both the Box of Delights and, with it, the people he loves. The Box of Delights is a magical and festive adventure in which one boy must confront the secrets of the past to defeat the evil in his present. The future of Christmas itself depends upon him.
Adapted for the stage for the first time by Piers Today, John Masefield's much-loved classic The Box of Delights
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