Category Archives: Events

PAPER AEROPLANES: The book tour!

Last month, we had another huge milestone – our first book tour! The months of planning and organising (and packing) for Dawn O’Porter’s PAPER AEROPLANES tour all came together in a crazy week at the end of May. Check out what we got up below!

For more about the book and Dawn’s future event dates, check out her web site here.

Paper Aeroplanes

The pen is mightier than the mobile

This year, we have been working closely with the fantastic Platform youth hub in Islington, building an author-led creative writing programme for young people aged 13 to 19 called Write Ideas, which runs every Tuesday evening in term time. Two fabulous authors, Sarah Mussi and Sara Grant, have helped the young authors along their journey from first draft to publication.

To celebrate the culmination of this programme, we will be featuring three of the students’ pieces on the blog starting tomorrow. Today our blog is from Sarah Mussi, who spent a bit of time reflecting on the experience.

When teenage writers pick up a pen with the intention of becoming writers they certainly mean business. And if those teenagers come from Islington and know there is an author-led, community-based, publishing-industry-supported venture for them to take advantage of; hosted in a state of the art venue; then not rain nor snow nor GCSEs (even!) will stop them from attending.

Last week saw the culmination of just such a venture. On Tuesday night, two authors and the young writers’ group from the Write Ideas writing programme presented their writing to the world!   They performed at Platform on Hornsey Road as part of the Islington WORD13 festival, and I was there!

Yes, I was one of the very privileged authors who worked alongside this amazingly dedicated group of young writers, and I was thrilled to be present to applaud their projects at the Express Yourself event last week.

And what’s more, I was there at the beginning too!

I first met the young writers of Islington at the launch party. Along with Meg and Livs, from Hot Key Books; Sara Grant, a fellow author from CWISL (Children’s Writers & Illustrators in South London) and member of the Edge writers’ group; youth facilitators from Platform, stakeholders from the community and Key Coordinator of the Write Ideas & All Change Arts project, Rachel; with them all, I signed up for the journey.

From then on, fortified throughout by delicious (and amazingly huge) cup cakes (with marshmallows and sprinkly bits – O YAY!), we met – through wind and hail – every week for two months! We brainstormed ideas, crafted plots, drafted chapters; we edited and critiqued them. And we set about preparing a presentation of each piece for a culminating evening of celebrations.

And I can’t tell you what a BUZZ-ting and a WOW-ting it was! Stories of disappearances, of explosions, of teenage first love, of families in crisis, of home and of being lost – all came together in that evening of readings and questions and talks and reflections.

Working with such dynamic, enthusiastic and creative youngsters has reminded me exactly why I write for the Y.A. audience. They have an eye for detail, a natural feeling for suspense, a straightforward kind of genuineness, they have all the energy of being young plus the integrity of age: in fact they are totally awesome and fun and quirky too.

So fresh from working with them – and refreshed by their take on life, I think I better get back to my laptop and make sure I can write some thing BOOM and WOW and SO SICK too!

Because like they say, it’s totally worth switching off the mobile for!

Hold on to your (cowboy) hats — Abbi Glines is coming to town!

Glines, Abbi BWNext week, Abbi Glines, author of THE VINCENT BOYS and THE VINCENT BROTHERS, will be touring around the UK, meeting fans and getting her first taste of British life! Below is a blog she wrote about her preparations for the trip. Come meet Abbi at the Regent Street Apple Store on Monday the 15th at 6:30 PM, or at one of these events.

Until last May I hadn’t been any further north than Tennessee. My traveling was incredibly limited. I was a small town country girl who hadn’t been out of Alabama much. Since my trip to New York City back in May, things have changed for me.

I have several book signings this year in the states but I began to notice my reader base was growing fast in the UK. I honestly never thought UK readers would be interested in my books. With all the cool places over in the UK, I couldn’t imagine y’all wanting to hear about places like Grove, Alabama or Sea Breeze.

You all surprised me.

I am humbled and blown away all at the same time. I have such a fantastic fan base “over the pond” and I love it.  Now I have a reason to travel even further. I am leaving the USA for the first time in my life. I can’t wait!

I would love to tell you that I am all packed up since I hop on a plane this Friday.  Alas, I cannot. I’m way behind. I just got back from Los Angeles, California on Monday (my first time there too!) so my suitcase looks like this:


In south Alabama things are warm already. My kids are wearing shorts to school and flip flops (do y’all call them thongs?) are on everyone’s feet. We are spending weekends on the beach and taking boat trips out into the gulf. So, I am slightly concerned that I don’t have the proper clothing to pack. I hate to bring these ugly things:


When I’d really like to wear these:


But then my feet would likely freeze. I am crossing my fingers that I can go find winter clothes in stores here. I’m not sure if they’ve packed them all away yet. Good news is I do have these lovely scarves and gloves. Limited, I know…


Moving on past my packing dilemma, I have also been working on my “to do” list while in London.  This is it so far. I don’t have a lot of free time since I’m going to be hanging out with all of you but when I do I plan to do these things:


Got any other suggestions? Tell me!

See y’all soon!

Announcing…the Hot Key Books Parent Parlour!


We spend a lot of time thinking about parents here at HKB towers. We think about what they want, what they worry about, and what they think about when they’re in bookstores. But there’s only so much speculating we can do. So, we decided the best way to figure out how we can better serve parents is to actually talk to them! Thus the Hot Key Books Parent Parlour was born.

The idea is to get a bunch of parents together from all walks of life to talk to us (and each other) about how they choose, share, learn about, and buy books. It’s going to be a night of great food, great conversation, and great big bags of free books to take home! We ultimately hope to make it a regular event, and even dream of holding it in various places around the UK so we can get a variety of different opinions.

So if you are a parent, or know any parents who might be interested in participating, please email us at You can find more info about the night here.

History, Music and Wonderful Company – The A WORLD BETWEEN US Book Launch

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to attend the launch event for the brilliant Lydia Syson’s A WORLD BETWEEN US. In classic Lydia/Hot Key fashion, the night was an amazing mix of enormous fun, fascinating historical facts and delicious food and drinks. This was literally my idea of a perfect event – for those of you who don’t know, I LOVE HISTORY. I love history and A WORLD BETWEEN US so much that after reading the book I felt compelled to buy a 1940’s nurse’s cape – which I of course wore that evening.

The launch started with everyone gathering outside of Whitechapel station to meet the marvellous David Rosenberg, who would be taking us on a specially-customised A WORLD BETWEEN US walking tour. If you haven’t read the book yet (if not WHY NOT), I won’t spoil anything for you, but it opens with a young nurse (Felix) finding herself caught up in The Battle of Cable Street. Whilst there, she meets a dashing young fellow called Nat, who is determined to go to Spain and fight against Franco’s fascist forces.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t meet any dashing young fellows to pick me and spin me around, thus causing my cape to swirl delightfully and flash its red underlining like Felix did. However, I did learn a huge amount, as although I studied the Spanish Civil War at uni, I had no idea that the inspiration for so many young men and women to go and fight was due to their experiences of fascism back home. The East End was a primarily Jewish neighborhood in the 1930’s, and (as David told us on the tour) by the time the International Brigades were recruiting many people had already begun to feel threatened by the anti-semitic and fascist actions of Oswald Mosley and his Black Shirts. The Battle of Cable Street was all about people standing up to fascism and letting people know that they would not let the Black Shirts pass – ¡No pasarán!


David Explaining About Oswald Mosley’s Fascist Party

The tour was fascinating and it was so wonderful to see the streets of A WORLD BETWEEN US come alive – Cable Street is very different now to how it was then (there is definitely irony in seeing well-to-do yuppies living in buildings which were once part of an extremely poor slum) but it’s easy enough to find yourself slipping down the narrow and rambling streets of Whitechapel and imagining Felix and Nat whispering together just ahead of you.

Disputes Over Houses Such As These Were a Large Part Of the Tensions That Caused The Battle Of Cable Street

This feeling of falling back in time was only made stronger as we finished the tour at Wilton’s Music Hall – I’d never heard of this place before last Thursday but I will definitely be going back! It’s a wonderful still-somewhat-semi-derelict Victorian building which used to be (unsurprisingly) a music hall. It’s run as a music venue and bar, but the building still needs a lot of work doing to it. Luckily  they’ve just been given a grant by the National Lottery which means they can return the hall to its former glory – which I can’t wait for, as I’m sure it will be stunning and a fantastic music venue once more. Most excitingly, we found out that Wilton’s had acted as a make-shift hospital during the battle!

Wilton’s Music Hall Entrance

We all gathered in a room to the side of the bar (which, appropriately enough, seemed to be hosting a Spanish music night) and enjoyed a wonderful end to the evening listening to speeches, mingling with Lydia’s fascinating guests – and singing International Brigade songs around a piano! I was so pleased that everyone really got into the spirit of things and sang along – all the more impressive considering I don’t think many people had heard the songs before.

Lydia Preparing To Lead Us All In A Rousing Version Of ‘The Internationale’!

So now you’ve heard me waxing lyrical about the evening I can only hope you feel like finding out more and doing some exploring of the area yourself – David regularly runs excellent tours on political activism in the East End, and I can’t recommend popping into Wilton’s for a drink enough! And most importantly of all, I hope you feel compelled to pick up Lydia’s fascinating A WORLD BETWEEN US – I can think of no better introduction to the Spanish Civil War or The Battle of Cable Street, and it’s got a jolly good dash of heroism and romance thrown in too.

Is it wrong to think of Christmas?

Last night, I had that sense (probably along with much of the nation) that summer is over and autumn is on its way. Not only have schools gone back (which we discussed at length last week), the Olympics are well and truly over and the evenings are getting darker already.

And for us publishing types, this only means one thing. It’s the run up to Christmas!

Really? Yes.

In fact, I even noticed Christmas cards on sale in Morrison’s yesterday. Okay, that’s a bit much, even I agree that.

But in book world, the Christmas season pretty much starts in October. Bookshops start their Christmas promotions, gift catalogues are printed, magazines put their gift guides together and the autumn events season kicks off.

The average event haul

If you see a book publicist or marketer in October, they are usually slightly crazy-eyed looking, drinking more coffee that normal and either constantly on the phone, constantly on a train, or alternatively constantly on the phone whilst on a train (annoying everyone around them, most likely…shhhh).

That’s because October is not only the biggest publishing month of the year, it’s also the busiest events month. And being that we have launched a company this year, and have nine books, which are just perfect for Christmas stockings…we didn’t want to miss out!

Showcards, train tickets, hotel bookings, excel spreadsheets, sharpies and post-it notes at the ready…Here’s just a tiny snapshot of where you can see our authors (and some of us!) in the flesh over the next few months…(with many more to come…)

Friday 14th September, 12.30pm (this Friday!) Lydia Syson at Blenheim Palace Literary Festival

Wednesday 19th September 4pm – Gareth P. Jones at Newcastle Children’s Book Festival

Monday 1st October, Fleur Hitchcock at Bath Kids Lit Festival, Schools Programme

Thursday 4th October , 6pm – Sally Gardner at KLF, Bath Lit Fest

Saturday 6th October, 6.30pm– Sarah Mussi with Sean Cummings and Kim Curran (of new YA imprint Strange Chemistry) at Foyles Charing Cross Road, London

Sunday 7th October, 12pm – Sarah Mussi, with the same panel as above at Waterstone’s Bluewater (Keep an eye here for more details)

Saturday 13th October, 5.45pm – Sally Gardner with Mal Peet and Nick Lake at Cheltenham Literary Festival

Tuesday 23rd October, 1- 2pm – Gareth P. Jones at Chester Literary Festival

Phew…best leave it there for now… but as I said, there will be more to come – Meg is mostly likely on the phone as we speak…

If you are interested in holding an event this autumn around one of our authors, there’s still time, just get in touch on

And until then, I’m going back to look at this and start crafting my Christmas list…what books are top of yours this year?