Thursday, 16 December 2010


I was recently asked to sign and doodle some copies of the new JUSTIN THYME. As before, the "doodles" are really small hand-drawn & coloured original illustrations. However, not wanting to repeat any of my previous designs, I've come up with something different. I divided the castle plan into 42 jigsaw-puzzle pieces, then redrew each of these on the books' title pages. As before, these copies are signed, numbered and wrapped in a brown-paper sleeve - and are sold exclusively by the Doodled Books web site.

I have also hand-colourised the castle plan in one book - making this particular copy a true one-of-a-kind.

If you'd like to see some of the designs in past doodled books, click here and here.
Adrian Ampogex

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


It was exciting to see JUSTIN THYME mentioned in the Sunday Times last week, (Culture Supplement 05/12/10). Nicolette Jones featured JT in her choice of the year's best children's books, saying "the story is remarkable" and describing it as the "curiosity of the year". Also listed in the 9 - 12 year-olds section were: Billionaire Boy by David Walliams, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver, My Name is Mina by David Almond, Reckless by Cornelia Funke, and A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

To read the JT segment, click here.

Dora-Mae Paxing

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


There hasn't been much time for blogging lately - however, I've just been interviewed by The Book Zone, so I thought I'd link to the interview HERE. If you have a few minutes to spare, please take a look.

Thank you, Book Zone, for asking such interesting and thought-provoking questions; I had a lot of fun answering them.
Edgar Pianomax

Saturday, 25 September 2010


RIGHT WAY ROUND.................................... UPSIDE-DOWN

For those who don't know already, an ambigram is a word or phrase that can be looked at from more than one angle. (Ambi = Both / Gram = Word).

When I first discovered ambigrams, the artist side of me recognised at once that this was something I had to try. As I worked on the "Justin Thyme" logo, I realised that an ambigram would illustrate perfectly how there's more to this book than first meets the eye, (and more than one way of solving the mystery), so I decided to incorporate the logo into my dust-jacket design.

It's a design-concept that's certainly captivated target-age readers (many eager to try creating ambigrams of their own name) - and Book-sellers have found that displaying two copies together, side-by-side, with one upside-down, really catches people's attention.

I think I was perhaps fortunate with my choice of character name / book title; ambigrams are incredibly challenging - and designing one that's legible enough for a book cover is near impossible (unless your book is called something like "SWIMS"). I have managed a reasonably successful ambigram of "Eliza" - but most of the other characters simply don't work! It's fun trying, though. Why not have a go with your own name and let me know how you get on!

Megan Rapidoxa

Monday, 13 September 2010


The queue going into the Cotswold Bookstore -
and the old Norton motorbike & sidecar (Justin's time machine).
Tony and David outside their shop.

Tony sneaks a piece of Mrs Kof's homemade shortbread.

Once the crowds of people had disappeared, Eliza (who'd
been busy in the stock-room helping move heavy piles of books),
came downstairs and chatted to this mysterious-looking
stranger hiding behind a copy of "Justin Thyme".
More photos here & here at the Cotswold Bookstore blog
and here at the Inside Pocket blog.
Armando Pixage

Sunday, 12 September 2010


What an incredible day!

It was still dark when I left home in the morning – but after a lengthy train and car journey I arrived at the Cotswold Bookstore just before 11.30 am, and before I had time to put my bags down I met someone waiting with their book to be signed, (even though the event didn’t officially start until 2 pm.) Minutes later I was shown to a table upstairs, where I got my first glimpse of the few hundred orders waiting to be signed and dated.

For the next two-and-a-quarter hours I signed at warp-speed, hoping to stop at 1.45 for a quick lunch-break. However, I was told that the queue already stretched the full length of the (very long) shop, out of the door and down the street … so I hurried downstairs and got started early.

Two hours later, that queue looked just as long. As fast as I could sign the books, more people joined the line. Fortunately, no one seemed to mind the wait – possibly because of the supply of banana cake and Mrs Kof’s Scottish shortbread on offer. I sensed things were going well when I noticed Tony (from the bookstore) looking slightly panicked as he gathered any remaining display copies; clearly, Thyme was running out.

It was great to meet so many people enthusiastic about JT – many of them new to the book; but others already familiar with the story and characters, bringing along their well-read original copies from a few years ago, (eager to know when the second book in the series would be published).

At about twenty past four, the last person in the queue reached the table. Afterwards, I was hurried outside for some photographs next to the wonderful old Norton motorbike and sidecar (just like Justin’s time machine) which had been parked outside the shop all day. Then back upstairs to sign the remaining pre-ordered copies; that took until about 5.15, by which time I was definitely starting to flag.

Out of a stock of 570 books, just those in the window display were left, which meant I’d signed about 550 books in five-and three-quarter hours … pretty much non-stop!

Minutes later I was driven back to the station, and began the return journey, arriving home shortly after 10 pm.

My thanks to everyone who made this such a memorable day. To Tony, David and Nina at the Cotswold Bookstore – not only for all their hard work on the day, but for their ongoing enthusiasm whist taking advance orders during the last several weeks. My thanks, also, to helpers who came in just for the day: Marilyn (who made the banana cake) and Julia in the shop – Sheree busily helping out everywhere – and Anne for collecting me from and taking me back to the station! Thank you also to Christoph and Sarah from Inside Pocket, the gentleman who brought the Norton Motorbike … and anyone else I might have forgotten, (the entire day was a surreal blurr – I remember little but writing my name over and over and over again!)

A huge thank you, of course, to everyone who bought a copy of JT … especially those who came from far and wide on the day. I’m truly grateful you came – I really didn’t expect such an incredible turnout! Writing is a solitary life; authors don’t get the instant response that stage actors enjoy … so it is only at events like this we can experience any audience feedback. The positive response from everyone left me feeling greatly encouraged. A new children’s book by an unheard-of author depends enormously on good word-of-mouth; I’m truly grateful that so many people have had such nice things to say about JT.

Although mentioned already, a special thank you to Tony, whose continual support of JT has been invaluable. It’s about a year ago since Sarah (from Inside Pocket) called into the Cotswold Bookstore whilst on a cycling holiday and Tony showed her the book.

Throughout the day I was too busy to take photos – but I know others did, so if they filter through to me I’ll post some here later.
Ian Madox Pager

Friday, 10 September 2010


Now counting down through the last twenty-four hours before the JT launch. All is prepared: Mrs Kof has finished her last batch of shortbread, Eliza has packed her bananas, and I have my pens and train tickets ready.

Thank you to everyone at the Cotswold Bookstore for all their hard work and excellent preperation.

This Thyme tomorrow ...
Adam Rex Gapion

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


With the JT booklaunch now only four days away (Saturday 11th), pre-ordered copies have reached over 370, which is fantastic news.

I've been wondering how long it'll take me to work my way through them all. With a little practice, I've got the date and signature down to 30 seconds; allowing a further 15 seconds to close and pile one book, then open and position the next one ... that means I'll be signing for four-and-a-half hours solid! And that's not allowing for books sold on the day, or those wanting personal dedications. I just hope that if anyone's got a name like Nadezhda Przolwamiczenkof they won't mind helping me with the spelling.

Maxine Pagodar

Friday, 3 September 2010


Eliza has asked me to mention that if your family has a gorilla, be sure to bring her, (or, preferably, him) along to the Cotswold Bookstore on Saturday September 11th, from 2 pm onwards.

She feels that although humans are usually well looked after at book-signings, gorillas are often overlooked ... sometimes not invited ... and, occasionally, left in the car. To make sure this doesn't happen at the JT launch, Eliza travelled down to the Cotswolds yesterday, taking a small consignment of bananas - some of which have now been placed in the window display.

Eliza would especially like to make the acquaintance of any hunky male silverbacks aged eight and above, weighing 400lbs or more. Muscular build preferred; computer skills not essential.

Madigan Oxpear

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Justin’s time machine is a converted vintage Norton motorbike and sidecar. Actually, it’s the sidecar, (or chronopod), that contains all the time-travelling technology, while the bike just makes it easier to move through the three standard dimensions of space.

I‘m told that this splendid old Norton motorcycle and sidecar, (pictured above), will be on display outside the Cotswold Bookstore for the forthcoming booklaunch. I’m looking forward to seeing it; the bike looks pretty much as I imagined - although the sidecar is slightly different, (Justin’s pod is more egg-shaped and closed-in on top), but it is exactly the right colour.

Anyway, it’s similar enough to make me feel I should check beneath the seat to ensure the negative-energy generator and antigravity units have been wired in correctly!

Pandora Mixage

Monday, 30 August 2010


Just twelve days to go before the JT booklaunch. The Cotswold Bookstore have now completed a fabulous window display to promote the event, featuring a clock, not only showing the date of the launch - Sept 11th - but also the time that appears on the JT bookcover, (not the time I'll be there - which will be 2pm onwards - although I imagine my train will be arriving at the station around eleven minutes past ten!)

By an odd coincidence, this clock, (borrowed from neighbouring store, Wild at Heart), was already pointing to this exact time when it was collected. JT is no stranger to uncanny synchronicity ... but more about that another time, perhaps.
Dr Paige Maxona

Friday, 27 August 2010


Only two weeks to go before the official launch of "Justin Thyme" (at the Cotswold Bookstore, 2pm, Saturday September 11th).

I hear the books were delivered to the shop yesterday - and having seen this photograph of the enormous pile, I have to admit feeling slightly terrified! What if nobody turns up? What if Mrs Kof hasn't made enough shortbread? What if my time machine malfunctions? What if Eliza eats all the bananas?

Fortunately, over 275 copies have been pre-ordered ... so I'll be too busy to worry about Eliza.

Meanwhile, I'd better get practicing signature!

Max de Paragoni

Friday, 23 July 2010


Writing books for school-age readers is always a challenge. One aspect of this is the need to write characters, places, scenes etc., that will be easily and rapidly visualised - while often having to paint these mental pictures with a limited pallet of words.

This has to be balanced with the fact that teachers usually prefer their pupils to read books that will expand their vocabulary – yet young readers don’t want to be wading through a huge dictionary every time they happen upon an unfamiliar word. Rather than lose track of the story, most continue reading, and guess the definition from the context.

It struck me that the obvious solution was to include a mini-dictionary at the back of each book. Many books already include an appendix of technical terms or foreign words found in the narrative – so why not expand this to include all words in the story that are likely to challenge target-age readers.

This doesn’t mean I’ve inserted sesquipedalian* words into the book just for the sake of it. Rather, I’ve written using a level of vocabulary that, to me, feels right for the intended audience, and brings the story to life – yet without me worrying whether some of the youngest readers might feel out of their depth.

When I was a young reader myself, part of my enjoyment of books was learning new words and their meanings. Sharing this love of language is important to me, therefore “Justin Thyme” briefly defines more than 450 of the most challenging words in the story – all easily accessible in a mini-dictionary at the back of the book.

Diana Oxgrampe

*Sesquipedalian: (of words and expressions). Long and unnecessarily complicated.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


Although the publication date of "Justin Thyme" is October 4th 2010 - the JT book-launch will be on Saturday 11th September. This gives readers the chance to get copies three weeks ahead of the official release.

The launch will take place at: The Cotswold Bookstore, 20 High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. If you can make it, please come along and say "hello!" I will be signing books from 2 pm onwards.

If you can't make it, but would still like a signed copy of JT1 - the nice people at the Cotswold Bookstore are willing to send you a copy post-free anywhere in the UK. To reserve yours, you can either email them at - phone them on 01608 -625666, or write to the above address. Ordered copies will be signed on the day, then mailed out the following week.

I'll add more details here nearer the time.

Gideon Paramax

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


It was nice to see "Justin Thyme" mentioned in last week's copy of the Bookseller magazine. It was listed in the Booksellers' Choice (Children's section) as one of the Panel's September choices - chosen by Jake Hope. Thank you!

A week or two before, JT also appeared on the magazine cover. This was unique as it was the first time the Bookseller had printed its title upsidedown (as well as the right way round) ... which really highlighted the JT ambigram perfectly.

Paxman O'Gradie

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


If you have a minute to spare, please take a look!

Feel free to share it with friends.

Max Dorian Page

Monday, 21 June 2010


"Justin Thyme" is the first book in the Tartan of Thyme series.

It will be published by Inside Pocket on October 4th 2010.

I'll be using this blog to keep clan members up-to-date with

all the latest THYMES NEWS - (far easier posting it here than

updating my website). Which reminds me: if you haven't already

visited the Justin Thyme website please take a quick look!

Panama Oxridge