Tall Story , the Audio Book!

I have been so busy writing my next novel that I've neglected to do a big HURRAH for the amazing Listening Library audiobook of Tall Story, which was released in February this year. Yup, bad author, me! I should have blogged earlier but I really wanted to do something exciting. Well, I've finally done it! Here's my trailer for Tall Story ... the Audio Book!

Tall Story Reviews

Jenny Woolf, Ham & High:

The School Librarian


Book Witch, Meat Cleaver Time: "My best book of the year has to be Tall Story by Candy Gourlay. It just has to" Read

Book Witch Review: "This seriously humorous book is incredibly sweet. The way Candy has woven what happens into an intriguing story is most impressive ... Tall Story is the kind of book which even as early as in January you can say will be one of the best in 2010." Read

Library Mice: "What I particularly liked about this book, beyond the talented writing, is Candy's ability to mix many different themes; it covers witchcraft and curses, mythical stories of giants protecting the land from earthquakes, gigantism (a very real condition), as well very contemporary themes of poverty, immigration and integration, sibling relationships, and cultural identity and differences ... Candy Gourlay is great new and original voice in children's literature and I very much look forward to seeing what she has in store for us next."" Read

Mel Rogerson, Chicklish "... hats off to Candy Gourlay. Tall Story is a cracking debut, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys multi-layered, heartwarming stories with a touch of magic. A potential classic." Read

KM Lockwood "You can’t really fail with a book that opens 'Rush hour. So many armpits, so little deodorant' can you?" Read

Writing from the Tub. "It’s one of those books that is so sweet it makes me want to frolic through a field with a puppy or something, in a good way. When I finished the book I sat back for a few minutes and savoured what I had read, feeling all warm and fuzzy and that definitely cannot be a bad thing." Read

My Favourite Books. "...deliciously wonderful and uplifting and it made me laugh and cry at the same time. I definitely think that David Fickling Books have a winner on their hands and I hope that Tall Story makes a big splash because it genuinely does deserve it. Small in size, but big in impact, Tall Story won't leave a dry eye in the house. It's so many things but mostly it's powerful storytelling at its best." Read

Portrait of a Woman "...this is a very touching and down-to-earth story about a family, about making choices and having to live with the consequences. You will laugh out loud at some of the moments and cry your heart out in others. And as everyone in the book falls for Bernardo, you will fall for this unique and original story !" Read

Jim Calliote's Blog "The biggest thing about "Tall Story" is not eight-foot Bernard, but the magical way Candy Gourlay brings two very different people and cultures together, and makes us believe it was meant to be." Read


Rey Ramos. "The book is categorised as a children's story, but honestly, there are underlying messages that the author would like to convey, not only for those kids who love to play basketball, who believe in myths/tales, but also for adults (like me) being captivated with Filipino hero characters (like Bernardo Carpio, Darna, Ang Panday, and many others) and supertitious beliefs. And most importantly, the story rekindles the human spirit, hope, faith and courage ..." Read

Ruel S. de Vera, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Gourlay’s Tall Story is a lovable, accessible tale of two siblings, basketball and realizing the difference between the things that we want the most and the things that really matter. Read

Andrea Pasion Flores picks the Ten Best Pinoy Books of 2010, Spot.ph. The heartbreak of leaving family members behind to work abroad and enduring years of separation may be an all too familiar scenario for Pinoys. While it might be considered too heavy for young readers, this is the art of Candy Gourlay. The author tells the story of basketball fan Andi, a young English girl whose 8- foot-tall Filipino stepbrother Bernardo was separated from her and their mom for 16 years while waiting for his papers to come through. Then one day, it finally happens--Andi and her stepbrother both find themselves in London. Things don't turn out as expected, and two siblings discover that sometimes, the unforeseen may be conquered with the power of shared wishes. Read

Angelo Ancheta, Cerebral Cap: Reading a young adult novel like TALL STORY, a retelling of a legend I heard as a kid and situating the characters in the modern times of high-tech communication, of cell phones, email, personal digital assistants, and the like tells me no tale is ever tall. Something or anything TALL is relative, and that any obstacle or challenge that seems bad at first may not be at all.

Tina Matanguihan, Philippine Online Chronicles:
Tall Story is a poignant, heartwarming story of clashing cultures, of family and sibling love, with just the right amount of magic, tears and laughter. This is one story that everyone, whether British, Filipino or otherwise, would not regret having read.

Carmela G. Lapena, GMA News TV: "In the end, it isn't just that "Tall Story" is well-written that makes it a good read. From the opening lines "Rush hour. So many armpits. So little deodorant," the reader is hopelessly captivated, and before you can say "I couldn't put it down," the 300 pages have been turned." Read

Chachic's Book Nook:
"A lot of us can relate to Bernardo’s story and how hard it is to live away from those you love. I think it’s great that a Filipino author with a young adult book has been published internationally because I’d love for you guys to read this book. It has a wonderful blend of contemporary fiction and Filipino mythology, resulting in a cohesive story that has a lot of heart." Read

Jzhun Agev, Dark Chest of Wonders Blog: "Candy Gourlay’s voice is a refreshing breath of air, writing in an accessible, kid-friendly, charming style peppered with comic wit." Read


Liz Morris of Inis Magazine (Ireland) writes: this book addresses many issues and gives readers a perspective on the feelings of inadequacy and strangeness experienced by those trying to master a new language while learning to adjust to new and complex family situations in unfamiliar suirroundings. The author skilfully and humorously draws the reader into the worlds and experiences of the half-siblings - and passes on a wealth of information about the world that unifies them. Click on the image to read the full review

Claire Larson, ReadPlus (Australia) : "Candy Gourlay has made an incredibly complex structure flow like runny honey off a spoon. If this is her first novel I can't wait to see her next ...Look out for this in the 2010 awards. With an original plot, superb structure, impressive characterisation and equal boy girl appeal, I think we are sure to hear more of Tall Story." Read

Mary Arrigan, Irish Examiner (Ireland):
Issues of separation, being different and family values are treated with humour and insight. Read the mention

'Do not disturb. I am reading'' ... Door hangers for you

Tall Story Do Not Disturb I am Reading door hangers. Illustration by Sarah McIntyre. Designed by Candy Gourlay

I've got some school visits coming up in the next month or so and I had the brilliant idea of printing door hangers instead of book marks to give away.

Alas when I scouted printing prices, it turned out that I would have to take out another mortgage to have them printed.

But then I thought, why not just supply the design ... and the readers can make the door hangers themselves!

Relearning the colour of me: a poem for National Poetry Day

It was National Poetry Day the other day and seeing all the other blogs exploding into rhyme reminded me that I had a few old poems stashed away. Now I would never, never call myself a poet - it's not what I do. But there have been some big epiphany moments in my life when words just rose out from a place I didn't know existed in my brain. Or maybe it was my heart. Please read my poem below and if you still have the energy, you can read the story behind it in the afterword.

A Library is much more than the sum of its parts

I've had libraries on my mind these past few days. Went to the School Librarian of the Year Award Ceremonies on Monday - I made a Slideshare about it:

Big congrats, Adam Lancaster! (swipe to view slideshow if you're on a smartphone)
SLA School Librarian of the Year 2012 from Candy Gourlay

Stuff for Writers

Just a heads up to any writers passing through of stuff I recently wrote on the group blog for writers Notes from the Slushpile:

Writing is a decision - no excuses!

No cake, no self control ... scientific proof that cake enhances will power (at least that's how I understood it)

Marketing Platforms: If everyone's now got a platform, how are you supposed to stand out?

This Season of Gold - Our Olympic Summer doesn't have to come to an end

'Goodbye to Britain's golden summer,' wrote columnist Jonathan Freedland at the close of London 2012. It was indeed golden, and not just because of the bumper crop of British gold medals that
appeared to take the public by surprise in a sports-mad country that rarely seems to come top of the charts.

Sunday night marked the end of a season of wonder that seemed to surprise the hosts as much as the guests, a period where we looked in the mirror and were met by an unexpected reflection – one we rather liked. Read London 2012: Goodbye to Britain's golden summer by Jonathan Freedland

Storyblogging time again - how I started writing a vampire novel but lost my way in the rain

Over on the Storyblog, DFB authors and illustrators are blogging on the subject of second books.

The subject of course is most significant to me as my second novel is coming out next year. Shine has been almost three years in the making, and I think it's okay to reveal that, frankly, it's NOT the book I set out to write.

Read my Storyblog piece on how my second novel was a tale of the unexpected ...

Photos from today's IBBY World Congress

This is just a hurried photo run-down of an outstanding day. With thanks to the hardworking organizers of the IBBY World Congress 2012 for inviting me to speak. IBBY stands for International Board of Books for Young People - it's an international network committed to bringing books and children together. The congress' theme for 2012 is Translations and Migrations. 

Now I know what that creature in Shaun Tan's Arrivals book is - according to Shaun it's a tadpole with legs! I always thought it was a mini walking beluga whale.  Sarah McIntyre (who was given the job of introducing Shaun at his keynote today) made a tribute arrival card featuring Shaun's tadpole:

Harvested from Sarah's Tumblr Instagrams - view her IBBY photos here

This is my story and I am not an onion

NEWS! Tall Story recently won the National Children's Book Award in the Philippines! Big congrats to my illustrator Yasmin Ong and publisher Ramon Sunico and thank you to the Philippine Board on Books for Young People and the National Book Development Board. Here's the beautiful trophy - can't wait to visit the Philippines and see it for myself! Meanwhile, here is a piece I've been dying to write since I curated one of the pavilions at the Pop Up Festival. 

It was an act of faith when I invited Lahing Kayumanggi  to perform during my bit of the Pop Up Festival. I'd never seen them perform before, though I'd heard from other Pinoys in London that they were amazing.

Pop Up's website declares that its aim is to"inspire children, families and communities through books and stories".  And I thought - what better way to tell the Filipino story than through dance!

Magnificent Authors and a Fun Fiesta at the Pop Up Festival!

Twas the night before the Pop Up Festival of Stories and my friend Juliet Clare Bell, author of the wonderful Don't Panic, Annika, looked like this:

Clare was staying the night because she was performing the next day as one of the featured authors in my Fiesta themed programme. She offered to help me with whatever I needed to do to get set for the festival but she had no idea how much we had to do!

Holly the Hedgehog and Other Amazing Stories

One of the amazing things about being an author is you run into amazing people.

I met sound recordist Jon Owen when I recorded the sound for my story for the Story Cloud initiative. Jon is a musician who also works in education - he does stuff like running music programmes for autistic kids.

Teetering on My High Wire

Just read teen author Keren David's post about her daughter's glitzy school ball for leavers. The headmaster gave some advice to the young ones that resonated in my old head:
Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. Go read Keren's post
You see, I'm slightly overwhelmed by this coming weekend.

Thinking about Diaspora at the Jewish Museum

An interactive display at the Jewish Museum 
I met my first Jewish person during the political turmoil of the 1980s when the Philippines was suddenly inundated by scores of foreign correspondents.

I wouldn't have known that my American friend, Steve, was Jewish if it hadn't been for him constantly  referring to his shoes as 'jews' and joking that his mother was checking up on whether he was 'going to temple' in Manila.

Banana Peel on My Mind: How to Give Success the Slip

So many banana peels, so little time. 

This week, I'm guest blogging on Elizabeth Stevens Omlor's Banana Peelin blog - Elizabeth's worthy mission is to name and classify every single banana peel on the road to getting published (sounds like procrastination to me, but hey).

Anyway ... the road to publication is LITTERED with banana peels. For every book published, four score and seven commissioning editors lie snoring, bored to oblivion by their slushpile. Let not their sacrifice be in vain.

Read my ten tips on how to give success the slip 

I'm on Dear Teen Me!

Candy at 15 with
baby brother Armand,  just two.
I'm so excited because I'm the featured author on Dear Teen Me. It's a blog featuring authors writing to their teenage selves with all the wealth of possibility that suggests. What would you say to your spotty young self? Do you have the wisdom to face up to all those insecurities, fears, hurts that you kept bottled up in those formative years? Or maybe you just want to say it's gonna be okay.

What I Learned from Writing My Second Novel

I can't believe it! After two and a half years of gnashing my teeth, SHINE is finished! Neil Gaiman, quoting Gene Wolfe, says: "You never learn to write a novel. You only learn to write the novel you're on."

So what did I learn on the road to finishing SHINE? I've posted half a dozen nuggets of wisdom extracted in the most excruciating manner possible from Shine's roller coaster writing journey. Read it and share my teeth-gnashing over at Notes from the Slushpile.

Then,  I shall be eternally grateful if thus alerted to my suffering, you could please, maybe, kindly,  leave a comment on the post, perhaps a kind word of encouragement, a hint of sympathy, and then, erm, well, you know,  pre-order Shine.

You Read? You Write? You Tube! ... Come Star in My Video!

I've made quite a few fun videos now with the cooperative children who live in my neighbourhood, but the kids - rather inconveniently - keep growing up.

And now they are no longer as willing to star in my DIY efforts without contracts, expenses, seven figure advances and personal assistants. So when the opportunity came up to make a video with children at the Guardian Open Weekend, I leapt at it!

Shhh ... I'm writing ...

... yup, I'm keeping my head down for a bit because I'm busy writing the final chapters of my forthcoming novel SHINE (I hope they've removed the synopsis on Amazon because boy oh boy, how the story has changed since it went up).

But ... 

For some reason, life isn't just standing by waiting for me to finish writing my book.

How I almost drowned and other delightful seaside tales

This is a photo of me on a South Korean beach just before I almost drowned 25 years ago. Over on the DFB Blog, I've been asked to blog on a seaside theme so I thought I'd tell this delightful story.

Do come over and read Almost Drowning and Other Delightful Seaside Tales on the DFB Storyblog. Do leave me a comment (I'm needy like that).

Salford Children's Book Award

Last week, I was one of the shortlisted authors who attended the wonderful prize giving ceremony for the Salford Children's Book Award 2011.

It was my first time in Northern parts as an author, so I asked the organizers if I could swing a school visit or two. They obliged and as a result I had a fun session with children from St Peter's CE School and Clifton Primary School  in Swinton Library.