I get stuck. There, I said it. Every blinkin' time I write a book, I get stuck. You hear tales of writers penning entire books without so much as pausing for breath or stopping to make coffee and/or bang their heads against a wall. Not me - at some point I get stuck and when I get stuck I get grumpy. And so there I was, writing the fourth Stitch Head book (What's it called? I hope you cry. The Spider's Lair, I answer!) and yep, I got a bit stuck. And then grumpy.

But then this cheered me up no end:

As did this:

And this!

Now I'm less grumpy and, lo and behold, less stuck.

Thanks to Evan (as Stitch Head - you can see his Dinkin Dings earlier in this blog) Alex (as Gormy Ruckles) and everyone at Hampton Junior School for dressing up and being generally awesome. You are legends, all!



People often ask me, Don't you think it's time you stopped cutting your own hair? 

Or, Where's the toilet?

Or, Do you illustrate your own books? 

Folk usually ask that last question when I'm doodling in their books, as if to say "Thanks for queueing – now watch me scribble all over your stuff like an overexcited toddler."

I do illustrate a bit and I like to think I can turn my hand to a challenge – anything from sandwich-making to sandwich-eating. But sometimes you just have to hold you hands up and say "I will never be able to do that." That's what I thought when I first saw Pete Williamson's illustrations. He probably won't read this (he doesn't own a computer, lives in a hut made from twigs and hair, and still insists on being paid in eggs) so I can gush all I want. I'm fairly sure there's nothing he can't do with ink.

Pete sent over some of the amazing illustrations from Stitch Head: The Ghost of Grotteskew (via carrier piglet) giving a sneak peek into the story and a first look at some of the new characters. Enjoy.



Book coming out day!

Is tomorrow!

At over 90,000 pages, and having taken 143 years to write (numbers tbc), the third and explodiest instalment in the Stitch Head series is out on 1st September. If you like things where the and the hero might just become the villain and things go boom, then rent the classic 90s film Face Off from your local Blockbuster. However, if you like books that do the same sort of thing (but are nothing like classics 90s film Face Off) then you need...


Get it from these places:




Or from other places. Or from an actual bookshop!



Last week I arrived in Leicester for a couple of library events. I’m always made to feel welcome by Leicester’s libraryfolk and this day was no different... except that pretty much every member of the Library Service in Leicester was due to find out that day whether they had their job, or a different job, or no job at all.

It was an awkward, tense, humbling day. How could it not be? Everyone did their best to keep things on track and their chins all the way up. The stoicism on display was gobsmacking, as everyone went about their business with one eye on the nearest phone, wondering if, when the bell tolled, it would be tolling for them.

Of course, this is happening or has happened all over the country – but this was just the most groin-kickingly sobering reminder I’ve had of the dismantling of the libraries service in the UK and I was left with a sense of queasiness and not-so faint disgust.

My Favourite Librarian was recently shoehorned out of her job after more than forty years. Her support and enthusiasm for this once green-gilled author, stumbling blindly into the world of public events, was invaluable. It’s a rare day someone tells you that you’re doing things right in this line of work (or that you're doing things wrong, although she was much too nice for that) and I’ll always be grateful to her.

Gah. I dunno... I know new libraries have been built, and most of them are very, very impressive. But now these cuts have happened, no one – no government – is going to restore libraries to their former glory. The undeniable cull is undeniably to the detriment of the people who need libraries most. Closures and job losses aren’t happening because the services needs ‘streamlining’; they’re not even happening because Project: Austerity is upon us and we all enjoyed the good times, sipping port and bathing in champagne and wiping our backsides with diamonds and eating helicopters, but now we must all tighten our belts because We’re All in This Together and should be grateful to our benevolent leaders for taking time out from being on holiday to try and make everything better for us; closures and job losses are happening because, by and large, the people who run this country just don’t see the point of libraries. They don’t understand them. They don’t use them. After all, libraries are generally frequented by the sort of people for which they have the least use: poor people. The same wretched, ungrateful, poor people who selfishly sap the economy and have no respect and moan and wail and rob and riot and serve no purpose and won’t EVEN work hard enough to afford to buy books instead of having to borrow them. And the one thing this government abides less than ever is those pesky poor people.

And I’m sure if you’ve read this far you’ve realised I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said.

I’m just really jarred off. As they say round my way.

And hungry. Where did I put that helicopter?



An otherwise small and underfed week was embiggened by a grand old visit to Tales on Moon Lane bookshop in Herne Hill, Londontown, for their snappily, gloriously titled festival, The Sun Comes Out on Moon Lane. How many author, illustrators, kids and growed-ups can you cram into a relatively compact bookshop? Loads, as it turns out, especially if you stretch the festival over a whole week. I poked my nose into the shop on Wednesday along with authors John Boyne and Phil Earle, festivising guru and occasional irishman David Maybury, and the hirsute hunk of he-manitude that is Philip Ardagh. Here are some pictures, 'cause a picture paints a thousand words. Even if all the words are 'picture'.

Standing in line for the No.46 bus with Philip Ardagh and David Maybury.

David's Velcro cardigan is exactly as much fun as it looks.

"The shrinking experiment is a success! MWAHAHAA!" Getting a bit nervous in the presence of Professor Ruby's mad genius.

Picking on a child makes us feel like big men. Or in Philip's case, even bigger men.

David's Velcro hair is exactly as much fun as it looks.

Tom Troung and Jane Harris from Stripes Publishing laugh at my jokes. That's how I remember it anyway.

Alex Milway of Mythical 9th Division Fame turns up for the free booze, Phil Earle (Being Billy and Saving Daisy) talks about his previous as Chief Claw Trimmer for the cast of the musical Cats, and Philip Ardagh finally works out how he's going to blow up the whole stinkin' world.

Congratulations to everyone at Tales on Moon Lane bookshop for a fantastic festival. You all smell lovely.



No, you're not blogging enough!


So, like so many makers of words on pages, I've been allowed out of the house of late, not least to stick my nose into Hay Festival. My second Hay was as good if not wetter, sorry, better than my first. I mainly talked about monsters and superheroes, so it wasn't that different from a normal day, except I wasn't at home and I wasn't talking to myself. 

I also got to meet a few people who like my books. A couple even came quite a long way to see me. Not just me, you understand, but for the purposes of this blog and my ego, JUST. ME. It's massively humbling and slightly intimidating. But mainly, it's just plain wonderful.

I spent my childhood making up stories, knowing that only one person (my brother) would give two genuine hoots, if I was lucky. If he hadn't been bothered, I wonder if have kept making up heroes and villains and tall tales – at least as much as I did. Would creation in isolation have been as satisfying? Is it ever?

When I make up stories now, there's a reasonable-to-fair chance that some folk other than my brother will entertain the idea of being entertained by them. And a couple might even wonder what the person who wrote the books is like and go all the way to Hay Festival to watch in bemusement as he bounces around a stage like a howling, sweaty Zebedee. "We drove X hundred miles for this?" they ask. "I'm as baffled as you," I reply. "On the plus side, Jacqueline Wilson's on in a bit."

So this is a just a rambling way of saying a colossal, roaring, fire-breathing helicopter-swatting "Thanks!" to everyone who took the time to queue for a book or say hello or watch the bouncing. Blogging for myself, there is nothing more motivating for a writer than someone admitting, to your face, that they like your stuff.

I also met a giant rabbit. 

Cheers all,

P.S. best thing I saw, Hay 2012:



Like so many word-book making types, I seem to spend most of my blog space apologise a lot for not blogging enough. It's been a busy wee while, what with events and a book that just won't seem to do the decent thing and be finished. But enough excuses! Here's something else – I'm going to be at a handful of festivals over the next few months if you fancy saying hello in the actual, proper real. Here are a few dates for your diary or hi-tech pad-o-phone:

12th May – Storyfest (Hartfield's first children's book festival!)

5th June – Birmingham Book Bash

7th June – Hay Festival (The afternoon event is sold out but you can still book a place in the morning and meet Stitch Head himself)

28th July - Discover Children's Story Centre (Stratford) 

21st and 22nd August – Edinburgh International Book Festival

Hopefully see you at one, all or two!

Here's me trying to read without a book. It's exactly as hard as it looks.



'Tis the season for piracy! With Stitch Head: The Pirate's Eye coming out this week I thought it'd be a good time to a) show you the cover and b) read a review. Monkey-bats!

Books, Bonnets and Full Frontal Blogging reviews Stitch Head: The Pirate's Eye



This brightened up my day no end! Here's Evan (as Dinkin Dings AND the Frightening Things), worthy winner of his school fancy dress competition. Best. Costume. Ever. Nicely done, Evan. AAAAAHHHH!! 



A few days ago I found myself in the Fratton Park (the home of Portsmouth Football Club) for the Portsmouth Libraries Literature Quiz 2012.

Truth be told, I've spent a lot of time in Portsmouth over the last couple of years. So much so that I've started to feel a bit guilty about turning up, in case I'm met with a muffled sigh of "him again?!" I'm already meeting children who have seen my event on at least one occasion. "Was it all the same jokes?" I ask, tentatively. "Yeah, pretty much." The reply comes with a slightly pitying shrug.

But I just can't stay away. I like Portsmouth, and though I can't guarantee it feels the same way, it has been very kind to me. Dinkin Dings has twice won the Portsmouth Book Award and this was my second  lit quiz in as many years. If I'm honest, I was sort of hoping for an invite back.

I'm a cynical, hard-bitten swine in many ways, but the Portsmouth lit quiz melts even the hardest heart. It's everything that's good about the world of books, reading, libraries and, by golly, authors. I was lucky enough to be on a table with Ali Sparkes, Angela MacAllister and the room-illuminating legend that is Andrew Norriss. All spectacularly nice people, happily giving up their time to try and win – sorry, take part in – a bookly quiz with teams from several handfuls of Portsmouth schools.

But my biggest hat tip goes to the Portsmouth library service, and in particular the quiz MC, organiser and all-round hero Peter Bone. Mr Bone and co. take an imaginative, almost childlike approach to plugging books. They make it about books - not reading - books. Actual, specific books. And it works. Even I wanted to read a book by the end of the quiz and I usually just use them to build tiny stairways for my many gerbils.

(Not to go off on a tangent, but today chief schools inspector Michael Wilshaw called for higher standards of literacy. Alarm bells ring throughout the land, understandably so. The People in Power lower their newspapers for a moment and cry, "Something must be done! Tell the children they MUST read because reading is GOOD for you!" Read 'cause it's good for you, like broccoli. There can be surely nothing more discouraging than being told something is good for you. I barely touched a book for years because I thought it might do me some good. Nobody, nobody said "comics are good for you." So I read them. All of them. 

Not that plugging literacy can't also be more about books than reading-for-broccoli's-sake, obviously. Portsmouth does it again with The New's campaign - here's a whole bunch of stuff they've done to make reading un-broccoli-esque. And here's me, running about like an idiot – sorry, inspiration.)

Portsmouth, keep doing what you're doing!

And no, I still don't like broccoli.




Caaaaptain Atomic! Hero of the hour!
Caaaaptain Atomic! Watch the villains cower!
Fighting for right by day or night,
Look! There he goes in jet pack and tights.
Caaaaptain Atomic! Go Caaaaptain Atomic!
Boom! Exciting! Hero! Whoosh!*

*Theme from the Captain Atomic Saturday Morning Adventure Hour. (Check TV listings)

Jonny and Tommy don’t see a lot of their dad, otherwise known as Captain Atomic, Champion of Albion City and the World’s Greatest Superhero – and when they do he’s usually just refueling his jet pack or recharging his multi-gun before another adventure. What’s more, he’s so worried about protecting his boys from his enemies that he keeps them cooped up on Atomic Island. Time for the boys to prove they’ve got what it takes to follow in their father’s footsteps...

Captain Atomic is a superpowered Renaissance Man – apart from being the strongest, toughest and fastest human being on the planet, he’s cured the common cold, created the self-cleaning saucepan, saved the world seventy-two times and brushes his invincible teeth twice a day. Go, Captain Atomic!

You guessed it: illustration by Jamie Littler. Thanks Jamie!




Sometimes, Mummy and Daddy don’t always get along. 
Sometimes, Mummy and Daddy argue. 
Sometimes, Mummy and Daddy decide they can’t be together any more. 
And, very occasionally, Mummy and Daddy spend their days in pitched battle for the fate of the world.

Jonny and Tommy’s mother is the planet’s most powerful telekinetic – she can fly at super speed, create force fields, transmute matter and lob a Boeing 747 half a mile.

Aided and abetted (when not in prison) by her henchmen, the mad and monstrous Chaos, Inc.!

Illustrations by Jamie Littler



I had mostly lovely teachers growing up. However, there was one, just one, who seemed to take great pleasure in making everyone in the classroom feel as small and worthless as possible. Ms Crackdown – Jonny and Tommy Atomic's teacher at Babblebrook school – is my attempt at explaining how someone could justify being that much of an unbelievable, unremitting, unparalleled rotter.

Illustration by Jamie Littler



Didn't get the chance to blog on yesterday, so here are two mini-bios for the price of one! (Note: mini-bios are free.)

Problem: while Dad is out saving the world, who’s going to look after the kids? (Especially as Mum’s in prison for trying to take over the world.) Solution: Use your scientific genius to create super intelligent, talking animal guardians.


Uncle Dogday is an austere, gruff old schnauzer with a genius level IQ. An expert in quantum mechanics, AI, communications and chasing his own tail. Serves as Captain Atomic’s right-hand-hound, as well as training Jonny and Tommy in the use of their powers. Bedtime dictator. In his spare time, Dogday enjoys chess and (to his shame) squeaky chew toys.


Aunt Sandwich is a ridiculously positive brown and white hamster. She’s the emotional backbone or the Atomic family, delivering sage advice to the twins (whether they want it or not) regarding life, the universe and the secret to a perfect mushroom ravioli. Aunt Sandwich is a qualified pilot (Atomic Bomber/light aircraft/time machine) and expert in munitions and cheek storage.

Illustrations by Jamie Littler



I appear to be blogging. Almost daily. I'm as amazed as you. 

Here's the second in our mini-bio tour of the Atomic! universe. Feels weird, always putting an exclamation mark after Atomic! It's like I'm shouting. Still... What's one Atomic! (...) brother without the other?


The youngest of the twins by 5-and-a-half minutes, Jonny has always known that if anyone is going to take up his father’s mantle and become the next Captain Atomic, it'll be him. But, unlike his brother, Jonny doesn’t relish the idea of being the World’s Greatest Superhero – he knows what a burden it is. The people of Albion City depend on Captain Atomic, which means he has little time for anything else – even his kids. Jonny would love to be ordinary, at least for a while. He even manages to convince his dad to send him and Tommy to school. Which is when the trouble starts...

Jonny has similar powers to his dad: super strength, speed and invulnerability. His brother calls him a “tank”... all force and no finesse. But Jonny is smarter – and more powerful – than he appears.

Illustration by Jamie Littler



Here's the first of a bunch of mini-bios about the major players in Atomic! Kicking off with one of the series' heroes.


Atomic! started as an idea called Son of a Superhero - and the plan was just to have one son. It probably would have been Jonny – a serious 9 year old who felt the burden of responsibility and expectation. Luckily, I decided twins would be a better idea. Tommy was the kick in the face that the story needed – reckless, outgoing, mischievous and (after a lifetime of being hidden away on Atomic Island) keen to show the world what he could do. 

Tommy's powers come from his mother side - telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the power of his mind) which also allows him to fly, throw this brother around, juggle cars... and steal crocodiles.

But that’s not all Tommy has in common with his mum – he also thinks he’s better than ordinary people and isn’t afraid to prove it. All of which makes him perfect sidekick material for Madame Malice. Will he be a hero (dramatic pause) or a villain?

Illustration of Tommy: Jamie Littler
Inspiration for Tommy: My brother, Ian*

*Find out more about the origins of Atomic! at The brilliant Book Zone (for Boys)



Ah, book-coming-out-day... when a book-writing-maker-person (they should think of a proper name for that) declares "My work here is done!" and sits back, serene, harmonious, sanguine-nay-buoyant, sipping champagne and sniffing caviar... 

So, as I rock back and forth, sweaty-fretting about sales, reviews and opinions, re-refreshing still-fresh stats and rankings, glugging cold coffee and mumbling about immutable fate and impossible uncertainty in alternating breaths, I remind myself that this is the whole point of being a book-writing-maker-person. The book must meet the shelf.

Trepidation aside, I couldn't be more excited about these books if I got a facial tattoo of a big, stupid grin. Over the next few days and weeks I'll be posting bios of some of the major players and giving a bit of story behind the story. In the meantime, here's a picture of the heroes of the series, Jonny and Tommy Atomic, jumping off a flying island. BOOM.

Thanks again to Jamie Littler for the illustration!



In case I haven't banged on about this enough already, I'm as chuffed as a panda with a mouthful of bamboo that Stitch Head has been picked for the Richard and Judy Children's Book Club. The little chap's in some pretty serious company too. Have a look:

Richard and Judy's Children's Book Club

R&J at WHSmith



Look what I found in my inbox... never-before-seen images for the second Stitch Head book! All my hats are tipped to Pete Williamson, who can do things with black ink that'll make your eyes water. Thanks for the sneak peek, Pete!

Hoist the middle mast! Spice the mail brace! Stitch Head sets sail for the high seas this April.



Welcome to my new blog! guybass.com is still live (if not kicking) but while I give it an overhaul, you'll need to come here for future updates, in future, for now. So for now, welcome to the future! All clear? Super! And without further ado...

Big week! 02.02.12 sees the release of ATOMIC! Issues #1 and #2 from Scholastic. I'm squealingly excited about this new series, not least because it got two of my favourite things coming out of it's ears - SUPERHEROES and COMICS. Part book, part comic book, ATOMIC! charts the adventures of Tommy and Jonny Atomic, the twin sons of the world's most greatest superhero – and the world's most villainous villainess – and feature ridiculously glorious artwork from the incomporable Jamie Littler.

Look for ATOMIC! The Vengeance of Vinister Vile and ATOMIC! The Madness of Madame Malice in all good bookshops, online, and so forth.