Friday, 8 January 2010

Timeslip photography

photograph (c) Phil Richards, 2009

They say you can't judge a book by its cover but there's no doubt that a striking cover helps attract readers. When A Passenger in Time was being prepared for publication, the publishers asked me for some ideas about the cover design.

As the book is set partly around the Severn Valley Railway and partly on the historic Great Western Railway I thought the cover ought to feature an image of a steam locomotive in action. Perhaps it could combine the idea of time travel and railway travel. I wondered whether we could incorporate the image of an old railway station clock, or play around with combinations of colour and black and white to suggest the time shift between 2005 and 1955. Could the famous 'coffee and cream' colours (the livery of the Great Western Railway) be used or would this create a bit of a dull impression for modern young readers? And what about the GWR guard's whistle that Jessica finds in the story? Could this be incorporated somehow?
photographs (c) Phil Richards, 2009
One thing worried me though. Although I'm no railway buff myself - and many people wouldn't know the difference between a 1950s GWR train and, say, an LNER one - I'm sure there are plenty of enthusiasts who would, so it would be good to aim for as much accuracy as possible.

This was quite a complicated brief but the cover designer Jacqueline Abromeit rose to the occasion. Jacqueline tried to take all my ideas into account but was struggling to find a picture of an authentic GWR locomotive on which to base her design. This is where my friend Phil Richards comes in....

Phil is a gifted photographer based in Bewdley - the setting for the book and the home of the Severn Valley Railway. Phil kindly agreed to a special on-location photo-shoot at Bewdley station, and Jacqueline skilfully incorporated some of these images into the design.

If you look closely at the front and back cover, you'll see the locomotive, the railway clock and the whistle all carefully blended in. Jacqueline's dazzling finished design would not have been possible without Phil's evocative original photographs, more of which we'll be seeing on this blog in the future.
cover design Jacqueline Abromeit, 2009

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Passenger in Time – a new children’s adventure, with Severn Valley Railway setting, from Worcestershire author Anthony Gillam

A Passenger in Time is a thrilling new timeslip fantasy adventure for 9-12 year olds set around Wyre Forest, Bewdley, Tenbury Wells and the magnificent Severn Valley Railway. 21st century young readers will identify with the lives of Jessica and Craig while their parents or grandparents, in the vivid evocation of 1950s Worcestershire, will be reminded of the adventure stories of their own childhoods.

.... and the train began to move. Jess rushed to the window. Craig was no longer sat on the bench. There were no flowerpots or garden ornaments on the platform ... the garden centre had reverted to a real, working railway station and her family were nowhere to be seen. ... Jess saw the open countryside flash by outside. The train’s whistle blew as they gathered speed.....

It’s July 2005. Sunday afternoon at a garden centre is the last place 15 year old Jessica and her brother Craig expect to find any excitement but, when a steam train arrives out of nowhere on a track which shouldn’t exist, Jessica finds herself making a journey back in time, to 1955!

Suddenly, nothing makes sense. Who is Jonathan Green, the boy whose life she saves? How can Jessica be in two places at once? To stand any chance of getting back home again, Jessica must become a passenger in time.

Publisher: Pen Press
Publication date: 17 Feb 2009
ISBN-10: 1906710503
ISBN-13: 978-1906710507
Price: £5.99 pb
Available from all good bookshops (including online bookshops) and Severn Valley Railway giftshops

Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow

Yusuf Islam – Cat Stevens Live at the NIA, Birmingham, 23 November, 2009

I can’t quite believe that, after a 33 year absence, Yusuf Islam – Cat Stevens, has decided to tour again and is standing in front of me on stage. Next to me, in the precipitous seating of the NIA’s auditorium is my 19 year old son – normally a thrash metal fan but, I’m proud to say, one who is also able to appreciate iconic singer-songwriters. I’ve adored the music of Cat Stevens from his pop hits of the sixties to his classic albums of the 70s. Now, the man seems at peace with himself and his music.

The evening starts with a 25 minute showcase of ‘Moonshadow’ – a musical based on his songs, blending some of his earliest (‘Matthew and Son’, ‘A Bad Night’) with some of his more recent (‘Maybe There’s A World’). Cat Stevens grew up in London’s theatreland and this represents the culmination of a dream for the songwriter. When he comes back on after the break with his guitar and starts playing ‘Lilywhite’, I smile stupidly and continue to do so through ‘The Wind’, ‘Where Do The Children Play’ and ‘Oh Very Young’.

The six-piece backing band helps it all go smoothly. Alun Davies (the original supporting guitarist from those classic 70s albums) is back while Pete Adams on keyboards makes an admirable attempt at recreating Rick Wakeman’s piano solo when it comes to ‘Morning Has Broken’.

After finishing with ‘Peace Train’, we are treated to an encore that includes ‘Sitting’, ‘Tuesday’s Dead’ and ‘Father and Son’. The evening has been a joyous event for this father and son and the songs, with a common theme of the importance of a spiritual journey, put into perspective any worries about the working week. On this particular Monday, at least, we could all agree that “Till tomorrow, Tuesday’s dead.”

About me

My photo
Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).