My First Book Will Be Available In December

Good news! I can now confirm that my first book will be coming out in early December ready for Christmas! It’s currently going through some editorial and design work. Any further news and perhaps some sneak previews will be found here and on my facebook author page!

Second Review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’.

Here is another review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’:

‘This is absolutely genius – I haven’t laughed so much for ages. It’s an absolute gem and will be irresistible to kids – farting, burping and all manner of wonderful bodily functions entwined with sharp writing and real wit. I loved it! So clever – and so genuinely funny… I can’t fault it.’

Karen Holmes
Editor 2QT- She is an award winning adaptation editor for young readers (currently edits for the likes of Penguin Publishing) and an author in her own right; a published novelist and short-story writer award winner.

New Illustration

I’m not going to give away all the illustrations but here is a new draft:

Mr. Hart-Boodle And Doctor Bottom
Mr. Hart-Boodle tries to locate the source of the smell.

These great illustrations are by Joe Shepherd.

Here Doctor Bottom is trying to understand exactly what is causing Evan to smell so foul. Perhaps his feet are the issue? So he persuades Mr. Hart-Boodle to undertake the nightmarish task of smelling Evan’s sock.

‘We will eliminate the emanation with a patient investigation.’

Announcing First New Illustration

Here is the first new illustration for ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’. Information about the artist coming soon.

Evan and family
From left to right: Bethany (Evan’s older sister); Winnie (mother); Evan; Willy (father); Fetch; Rosie (younger sister).

First Review of ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’ and ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’

‘These seem like really fun kids books! I think children, especially boys, will love the irreverent toilet humour here. You truly have a gift for ridiculous gross out comedy.

There are some wonderful, horribly evocative, similes used in both books that I think will have children in stitches (and their parents frowning somewhat disapprovingly, but surely that’s part of the appeal!) I love how many scenes escalate to absolutely ridiculous levels…

You’ve also got some really snappy dialogue that flows quickly and naturally between the characters. The conversation with Doctor Bottom is particularly great for this, and I love Mr Hart-Boodle’s increasing and insistent irritation at the doctor constantly getting his name wrong. I imagine that plenty of children will be able to draw unflattering parallels between their own fathers and Mr Hart-Boodle!’

Writing Advisor Rowanvale Books

Announcing ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’

Announcing ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’! The book is the second in the series featuring clever Evan the kid with sprout-induced fart problems and takes place somewhere in the middle of book one before Evan’s sprout eating is exposed. The setting is Evan’s summer holidays and, of course, the jokes are mainly on his father Willy Hart-Boodle. Evan’s bottom blows and when it does chaos usually ensues.

The Hart-Boodles take a trip to Spain where things don’t exactly go to plan. The flight over is marred by the first of Evan’s rocket farps and we first encounter ‘the big lady’. The apartment isn’t exactly as advertised and Willy Hart-Boodle has problems in a water park and at the beach. Rosie develops a disgusting habit of her own and Willy has more problems in the airport before they fly home.

The Hart-Boodles test-drive a car and encounter an unfortunate policeman before travelling to a wedding. Evan delivers more chaos and Willy makes a mess of his best-man duties.

Calamities occur when the Hart-Boodles visit a rare-breeds farm and later when they make a trip to the super-market.

So far the response has been good to this second instalment and it’s been great to hear the sound of a child’s laughter when jokes work!

The date of publishing will be some time in the future yet but will almost certainly be handled by a self-publishing company. If anybody has any advice about this I would be very interested to hear from you. Otherwise, stay tuned as the process towards publication continues. I will no doubt let you know all about it!

About Me

Me 2018

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Chris Mercer and I’m a children’s author. I’ve written two books: ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’ and ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’, and I’m currently in the process of writing a book for teenagers.

The ‘Evan’ series is for young children from about 7 to 12 and for adults with a childish sense of humour (like me)!

Elsewhere on the site you can read a synopsis of both books. They are intended for one purpose only: to make kids and their parents laugh out loud!

I live in Devon with my wife and our two young children. I try to write here and there when time permits in between my duties and responsibilities with the kids. Editing and re-writing is still ongoing with my first two books (just when I think I am done I notice something else that needs changing) and I continue to write my latest book for older children – a longer term project.

I grew up in Norfolk and completed my A-levels there before studying and settling down in beautiful Cambridgeshire. My degree was in English Literature and Language. I qualified as a teacher of English and Drama from Homerton College, Cambridge, but quickly moved into photography.

Photography took me on an adventure through wildlife photography; portrait photography; sports photography; business and agency work with celebrities and politicians, and finally newspaper photography, the last of which necessitated a move across the country to Devon.

Although I completed a TEFL qualification it fell to me to do more with the children and so I became a writer: something I should have considered in the first place before I embarked on other things. Writing is hard work but it suits me and it’s a wonderful thing to make children laugh. My goal is to sell books, of course, but real success is a dream that only a select few will ever achieve. I approach it with a healthy dose of realism, but, of course, you never know!

I have a firm Christian faith and church activities take up a lot of our time. I also have a strong interest in music and enjoy creating my own songs, playing drums, bass, keyboards and guitars. I love driving karts and I follow F1 but my favourite sport is cricket. I always make time to sit back and enjoy the full day’s play of the first test-match of the summer – I’d watch every ball bowled over the summer if I could!

Thank-you for checking this site out and I hope that my work makes you and your children smile!

Chris

 

Site Changes

Today I changed my site by removing a number of posts and pages. I did this because I felt that I was sharing too much of myself and it was making me feel uncomfortable.

The focus of this site was always to promote my fiction and now I will concentrate on that and my book reviews.

I took down my mental health section because I felt that, on reflection, it was unlikely to help others, and, instead, just gave sensitive and personal information about myself away. I also removed information about my faith as this, too, instead of promoting it, just invited prejudice and confrontation.

I’m aware that people have liked pages that are now taken down and I’m sorry if they are disappointed. However, I hope that you can now appreciate my reasons for doing so.

I find that most blogs that I visit exist simply to make their creators money and most of the posts are just engineered to attract views in order to turn this attention into business. I dislike this hint of disingenuousness and so I have now moved away from this kind of strategy. I now state quite straightforwardly my intention. This blog is about my writing and about children’s books – so I will stick to that.

Book Review: ‘Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder’ by Jo Nesbo

Jo Nesbo is no ordinary writer. For a start he is Norwegian and writes in Norwegian (how many successful children’s books here in the UK are translated from Norwegian?), and he has a degree in Economics and Business Administration; but that’s not all: he was a journalist and also a stockbroker; he is the lead singer in a rock band called Di Derre; he played football to a high level until a bad injury forced him to quit, and he is an accomplished rock climber.

His writings include seven novels featuring a detective called ‘Harry Hole’; five novels in the ‘Doctor Proctor’ series; two ‘Olav Johansen’ novels; short stories and stand-alone novels plus one work of non-fiction. What’s even more impressive is that his works have been turned into television series and films worked on (and possibly worked on in the future) by luminaries such as Martin Scorcese; Michael Fassbender; Rebbecca Ferguson; Charlotte Gainsbourg; Leonardo DiCaprio; Denis Villeneuve; Jake Gyllenhaal; Chaninng Tatum; Tobey Maguire and Baltasar Kormakur. He has numerous awards and nominations.

I picked up ‘Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder’ knowing none of that (there is no biography in the book) and simply because I thought it would be similar to my own stories ‘Evan And The Bottom Rockets’ and ‘Evan and The Bottom Rockets On Holiday’ (to be published soon I hope; see a synopsis on this site). I noticed it some while back on a shelf in my local Tesco’s, and although I didn’t buy it until recently, I knew that I would have to change the name of the doctor in my book from Doctor Proctor in its wake. The doctor in my book is now called ‘Doctor Bottom’.

Simon And Schuster publish the book and advertise it on its cover as being by a ‘number one bestselling author’ (always bound to drive up sales) and by quoting ‘The Guardian’ as saying that it is ‘hilariously funny’; and the Big Issue: ‘wickedly entertaining’.

Having just finished the book I have to say that my son didn’t laugh once, even when farting was mentioned. It makes me feel a lot better about my books because he was laughing hard throughout those. This is not just to boast or plug my books (well just a little bit) but to make the point that whoever reviewed it in The Guardian must have read a different version than mine, or perhaps his children have a totally different sense of humour to mine.

With these reviews I often wonder just how much of the books the reviewer has actually read and just how independent they are. Sometimes I imagine a bit of you-review-me-I’ll-publish-you or other hidden links behind the scenes: perhaps I am getting a bit cynical in my middle-age. I have noticed that once a writer/book/film has become relatively successful everything else that they do seems to be given gushing praise. Once you are a best-selling author they want to like you. Once a winning formula is found that makes money a bandwagon has been created and the bottom line is in sight. I digress.

As I began to explain, I don’t think this book is particularly funny. It doesn’t actually feature much farting or other bodily functions and little boy humour, and where there is some it isn’t particularly played for laughs in the way that it should have been.

My first impression of the book from the opening chapters was that for my son’s age group (he is eight) it is quite confusing. There is a breathless quality to it because of very long sentences that need careful attention. They take the reader on a visual journey that doesn’t seem to make much sense. From the perspective of the rest of the book it is easier to understand the beginning but any parent will testify to the fact that in order to get a child to commit to being interested in a book an author must capture them straight away, because it is hard to persuade a child to listen once they have made up their minds that they don’t like a story, and they make their minds up very quickly. My son, however, is as bright as a button (again I boast but it is true) and just about kept up.

Norway, Oslo, Akerhus Fortress, Sharpsborg, the Commandant, the white teeth in the sewer: its an unusual beginning. There is, however, a familiarity about the characters (a Roald Dahl familiarity), the sad lonely girl; the short boy always being picked on; the school thugs; the fat villain; and the nutty Professor, all these characters are stereo-types to some extent. That being said, Nilly in particular is very engaging when you get used to him, especially his clever exchanges with other characters either in authority over him or bullying children.

The plot doesn’t really have a great tension and resolve mechanism for me but at least children will appreciate the happy ending even if they don’t care quite as much as they could have done. The Professor (here comes a spoiler) riding away on his motorcycle to Paris to find his lost love will not be of much interest to a little boy who thinks those sort of things are just ‘yucky’.

Overall, the book has a unique quality about it but also stereo-typical elements. It isn’t particularly funny, and might be confusing for young readers. However, from an adult point of view, it is more interesting to read than some other books for this age group. The authorial presence is strong and whether you like that or not is an entirely personal decision. It has a cleverness about it and an energy, and that, I think, is why publishers and critics went for it.

Did it do enough to entice me into buying the rest of the series? No.

Have a read and feel free to totally disagree!

‘George And The Dragon’ (Wormell, Red Fox, 2002)

According to Wikipedia Chris Wormell worked as a road-sweeper and rubbish collector (amongst other jobs) before taking up painting as a hobby. His first book: ‘An Alphabet Of Animals’, was published in 1990. Since then he has become a prize-winner with a long list of books and achievements including providing artwork for commercial advertising and designing the lion for Aston Villa’s club badge in 2016.

This particular book was published in 2002 and features a heroic mouse named George. George saves a princess (I am assuming that she is a princess) from the clutches of a huge rampaging red dragon by moving in next door it and asking for sugar. The dragon is terrified of mice and flees leaving the mouse to reap the rewards for saving the princess: lots of food and a ‘cosy little hole in the castle wall’.

The illustrations are excellent, particularly the mighty dragon and his destruction of the castle. The words are in a familiar style to young children: ‘Far, far away in the high, high mountains in a deep, deep valley, in a dark, dark cave…’ but the plot is a twist on the tale of brave St. George. A dragon being scared of mice is a device I will resist the temptation to analyse; suffice to say that very young children will love the book and adults will appreciate its brevity when reading the seventh story of the night; it’s the perfect length for its target audience.

It’s a pleasure to read but the audiobook is well worth getting also. The narration by Brian Blessed delivered with characteristic gusto.

Overall, ‘George And The Dragon’ is a book well worth buying for young children.