Figaro, Radio and Steampunko!

By Allan | Friday, 2 July 2010 at 11:21
Category: Writing | Tags: , ,

Well, can I start off by wishing all my American friends an early Happy 4th of July! Have a really great day, all of you, no matter what you do to celebrate. Hey - what do people in America actually do on the 4th July? I’d really like to know.

I do have a few things to tell you. Last week Claudia and I went to see the Mozart Opera “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, is one of the most prestigious cultural venues in the world, so its really something to actually go there. Its an amazing place. We had “champagne tickets” - Claudia bought them for me for my birthday. They were excellent tickets and we had seats in the stalls, in row G, right near the front.  Some people dressed up for the event in tuxedos and evening gowns (despite the fact that it started at 6pm and it was broad daylight out there!). But other people turned up in jeans and t-shirts. We were somewhere in between and we arrived early and had a couple of glasses of champagne while we watched the other people arriving. Claudia used to work in the fashion industry, so she spent the time making really funny remarks about the curious and bizarre clothes some of the people were wearing. (I know - not very kind to make fun - but we did it very quietly, so they didn’t know!) It was a really marvellous performance - the scenery was excellent and all the singers were world-class! I had a really great time - even though Mozart is not my all-time favourite Opera composer. My favourite is Richard Wagner, and my favourite Operas are his Ring Trilogy, which are based on old Norse Legends and are full of goblins and dragons and giants and Norse gods and magic swords and excellent fantasy stuff like that.

Another thing that has happened recently is that an American radio show host has asked me if I’d like to take part in an hour-long interview on his show - which includes dial-in questions from fans. I’ve agreed to do this - and I hope that some of you might be up for calling in and asking me questions. Does that seem like a good idea? The show isn ‘t till later in the year, and I’ll of course give you more details closer to the time, but I thought you might like to know that you could have the opportunity to actually talk to me. Anyone interested in doing that?

Next, I have been approached by the editor of a “steampunk” book anthology, asking if I would be willing to write a story for a new book of short stories all based in a steampunk world and all kind of fantasy/romances. I said yes, because I already have a short story idea that would fit really well. For those of you who have never heard of steampunk, it’s set mostly in a kind of Victorian world, only with inventions that never really existed - like computers, and steam powered submarines and airships - a bit like the League of Extraordinary Gentleman movie, if you have ever seen that. I thought it would be fun to write something like that! I need to submit the story by October this year - and as with the radio show, I’ll give you a better idea of it all nearer to the publication date.

We are also only two weeks away from the UK publication of the first Sundered Lands book. Gary Chalk and I have been working hard on the website and it’s almost ready to go live. I’ll give you more details soon, and I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think. I still don’t have a date for US publication of this series, but as soon as I do…well…you know the rest.

So? What else? We’re having a bit of a heatwave over in the south east of England right now, which makes a change. Siouxsie doesn’t like it too hot and right now she’s sprawled on the carpet down by my left side and - oh! No, she’s just got up and she’s clambered into “her” office chair which is set up alongside mine. Claudia is asleep at the moment and everything is quiet, which is good because I have a big pile of stuff in my in-tray that I need to do.

The fourth Warrior Princess book is with the American Publishers now and it has a provisional title: The Bright Blade. This may change, though.

Bye for now.

Storytelling Competition Results

By Allan | Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 10:55
Category: Fan Club | Tags:

Hello there - I just realized I haven’t put a new post up for a while! Quite a lot has been going on, though, and I’ve been kept pretty busy.

Here in the the south east of the UK we had our first snow of the winter yesterday - up to four or six inches around London, but there was only a thin coating where I live.  I’m a big fan of snow - but then I get to work from home, so I don’t need to go out in it, except to go down to the bottom of the garden with a kettle to un-freeze the water in the bird baths and keep the wildbird food topped up.

My wife Claudia has to go out in the bad weather, poor thing! But it’s only a fifteen minute drive for her to work, so it’s not so very bad - and today she brought home our Christmas tree. I’ve just set it up by my desk, and I’m going to let it settle for a while before we start to decorate it. Because Claudia is German, we tend to decorate German-style - which means all white and silver with just a touch of red here and there. The lights are white and the hanging balls and bells and stars are silvery, plus we drape lameter over the tree.  We inherited the hanging balls from Claudia’s parents - they are very delicate and made of very thin glassy stuff - so we have to be careful with them. Fortunately, Siouxsie the cat doesn’t find them interesting, or there would definitely be trouble.

Anyway, my chief purpose in writing this post is to let you know the results of that story writing competition that Marisa set up on the fan site a few months back. I have now had the chance to read through all the entires.

I’ll tell you guys one thing - every one who entered could make a living from writing if they wanted, I’m totally sure of that. I enjoyed every single one, and it was really hard to come up with a winner.

I was especially excited to read the ones that dealt with other aspects of the world of Faerie - like “Before Anita”, where Liz explained really well what it must have been like for Princess Tania when she first stepped into the Mortal World and got sick. And “Her Little Doll” by Laurelei was a great idea - seeing the attack of the Sorcerer King from the perspective of someone else in Faerie. I really liked that one a lot. And Kayla’s story of how childhood wings faded with first love was great - it’s such fun for me to see you guys taking part of the world of Faerie and adding stuff to it.

Christina’s Moon Spirit worked really really well, I thought - the idea of a love found but almost immediately lost was very intense. Oh, and I adored Reese’s idea of the elf who could make a carnation out of snow. That is a very Faerie idea indeed! I want to make a special mention of Kayla’s The Pigs On The Furniture story. I thought that was fantastic - totally weird but funny and engaging and a lot of fun. Come up with more stuff like that, Kayla, and you’re set for life!

But in the end - and it took a while, I can tell you - the story that really worked best for me was the one by Arya - the story of Ikos the Selkie. I know there are lots of stories out there of people saved by merfolk and suchlike, but somehow this story just rang really true to me - and also left a lot of questions unanswered, which is what a good short story ought to do, in my opinion. How had Elizabeth’s parents drowned? What kind of world is this story set in? Will Elizabeth survive her leap of faith? What is the underwater kingdom like? Do selkies always hear the thoughts of people about to drown, or was there a special bond between Ikos and Elizabeth? I really like thinking through questions like that after I’ve read a story. It leaves me wanting to know more.

So, well done Arya - all you now need to do is to go the the Contact Page and send me a message with your full address on it, and with the name you’d like the book dedicated to when I sign it. Then you’ll need to be patient with me for about 6 weeks, I think. I’m expecting to receive my copies of The Enchanted Realm a week or so before publication - 1st Feb next year - and I’ll sign and send your copy off as soon as I get it.

I do have more news - but I think I’ll save that for later…it’s nothing mind-blowing - just some updates on what’s going on work-wise for me. So, for now, congratulations to Arya - and I guess its maybe time for me and Marisa to come up with another competition. Anyone out there got any ideas?


By Allan | Wednesday, 12 August 2009 at 07:46
Category: Fan Club | Tags: , ,

I’ve just been told by one of my fans, Marisa, that she has set up an Allan Frewin Jones fan club website. That’s pretty exciting for me- I don’t think I’ve ever had a fan club before!

It would be really great if you guys could check out the site and maybe join the club and do some blogging. I’ll be checking in on it regularly to see what you’re all talking about.

The URL is:

Thanks so much to Marisa for organizing this - now it’s over to all of you.

Teach Yourself Writing For Children

By Allan | Saturday, 11 July 2009 at 11:02
Category: Writing | Tags:

I often receive emails and messages from aspiring authors asking me for some advice on how to write, or what to write or how to approach publishers. I try to give useful advice to these people, working on the basis that today’s aspiring author is tomorrow’s best seller, but it’s sometimes difficult for me to find the time to give full answers to often quite complex questions.

Which is why I thought I’d tell you about a book I’m working on at the moment - a book that is all about how to write and how to get your writing published.

It all began back in 1995, when the UK publisher Hodder approached a colleague of mine, Lesley Pollinger, an Author’s Agent based in London, and asked if she would be interested in collaborating with me on a book to form part of their “Teach Yourself” series. Their idea was for us to produce a book on how to write for children and get published.

We thought this would be a great idea and over the next few months we got busy – sending out questionnaires to other authors and publishers and agents in order to hear their views on some basic issues. We organized our thoughts, putting chapters together that followed all the way through from really simple stuff like buying a pen and some paper and finding a flat surface to write on, to what you do in the aftermath of your first book being published and a nice cheque arriving in the mail.

The idea all along was to help writers to get published – meaning that we wanted to give them pointers and tips and plenty of insider knowledge of how to navigate their way through the process not only of presenting publishers with something “good” – but of something “sellable”. This included tips on story construction, dialogue, presentation and how to cope with adverse criticism, plus how to deal with a publisher who wants your work, but only after it has been heavily edited.

The book sold well enough for us to be asked to revise and update it a few years later. And then in 2005 we were asked to take a third swing at it. Between 1995 and 2006 something quite amazing had happened. The home computer had arrived and the Internet had revolutionized the way writers and publishers worked.

Then, when we were asked for yet another revision earlier this year, it was also to include entries on a Website. This new edition is due to be published in January 2010, and we are starting to get to work on it – sending out new questionnaires, adding new sections and entirely rewriting whole chapters because things have changed so much.

There are 12 chapters in the book, and so far we have only managed to work on Chapter One – but we’re confident that by the time we’ve finished, this book is going to be as up-to-date as possible and that it will help a whole new generation of hopeful writers get their ideas into print.

These days getting your writing “out there” is a lot easier than it used to be ten or fifteen years ago – the Internet has made sure of that. But – it’s as hard as it ever was to get people to pay to read your stuff – and that’s what our book is all about.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated on our progress. Meanwhile, if you’d rather not wait for January 2010, you can buy previous editions online - have them for sure, and they can be picked up reasonably cheaply. The most recent edition has the gingerbread man on the cover. Or you might find a copy in your local library or store.

A true story

By Allan | Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 09:38
Category: Writing | Tags:

This is a true story.

When I first left school, I took a job in central London, which meant a short trip back and forth every day on a train. One afternoon, I boarded my usual train. I was reading a hardback copy of The Two Towers, the middle volume of The Lord of The Rings. I opened the book and started reading, not paying any attention to anyone else in the carriage.

Suddenly I felt someone tap me on the knee, and a voice said. “You’re lucky!”

I looked up. Sitting opposite me was a portly elderly man with a white beard and wearing a tweed suit – he looked kind of like a professor or something.

“Why?” I asked, puzzled, because people don’t usually speak to one another on commuter trains, and we were alone in the carriage at the time.

“Because you haven’t finished it,” he said, pointing to the book.

“Oh! Actually I’ve already read the whole thing about ten times over,” I told him.

So, we started chatting. It turned out he had framed maps of Middle Earth on the walls in his living room, and had read a huge number of fantasy books of which I had never heard. He particularly recommended a book called The Worm Ouroboros by E R Eddison. He also asked me if I had heard the dramatised radio version of The Hobbit. I hadn’t. He told me that if I brought some blank tapes with me tomorrow, he would copy the show (which he had taped from the radio) for me!!

Well, the following day, I met him on the platform and handed over the tapes. We chatted some more, and he recommended a few more books – The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, The Well At The World’s End by William Morris and Dune by Frank Herbert.

The following day, he gave me back my tapes with The Hobbit radio dramatization on them. It was a great program, of six 30-minute broadcasts, and I really enjoyed listening to it that evening when I got home.

The next day I went to a bookshop and bought The Worm Ouroboros and Dune.

I enjoyed them both, reading The Worm Ouroboros over the weekend even though it was very long.

I expected to see the man again on Monday evening at the station, but he wasn’t there.

In the back of The Worm Ouroboros was a list of “similar” fantasy novels and a form with which you could order by mail whichever of these books you liked the sound of.

I ordered all 23 of them. A few weeks later a big parcel of books arrived and I started reading. Many of these books became absolute favourites of mine and still are – and you can see their titles in my “favourite books” list on this site.

I had never thought to ask the man on the train his name. I never saw him again. Ever.

This is a true story.

On-Line Interview

By Allan | Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 07:48
Category: Writing | Tags: , ,

Hi there! I thought you might like to know that an on-line book review site has just posted an interview with me on their webpage. It can be found on, where I answer questions about Faerie Path, Warrior Princess and other stuff.

Hello there!

By Allan | Monday, 18 May 2009 at 14:04
Category: Writing | Tags: , ,

Welcome to my brand new website! As you will see, you can browse around the various pages and find information on all the books I have written over the past twenty or so years. The site is still undergoing bits of construction here and there - I plan soon on having a Gallery page with pictures and illustrations and a pick of the covers of some foreign editions of my books - some of them are really great and it’s a shame they only get seen in the country where they are published.

Anyway - I plan on blogging here regularly, so please drop in every now and then - you can even write to me on the Contact page if you’d like to.

Bye for now. Update on publishing schedule coming soon!

Allan Frewin Jones