Best wishes to everyone for the festive season, and may 2021 be an easier year for all of us!
Delighted to say that I’ve just heard that I’ve been awarded a Small Project Quick Response Grant from Create NSW, to work in the new year on a fabulous project: the first draft of a short adult novel (around 30,000–35,000 words), intended for the audio format, which I will write over the first four months of the year. As I write it, I’m also going to be documenting its creation through a series of posts on this blog. More soon about the book itself!
It’s going to be such a fun project, an exciting challenge to try my hand at something different, and I am so looking forward to it! And I’m very grateful to Create NSW for their generous support.
Delighted to announce the release of my interview with Claudine Tinellis’ fabulous podcast, Talking Aussie Books, which has gone live today. It’s very much a discussion focussed around French Fairy Tales and the stories I retold within it. I really enjoyed chatting with Claudine about it all! Also talked about some of my other 2020 books later in the interview.
You can listen to the full podcast interview here.
Every year, I like to offer readers a fun little seasonal story. This year, it’s Rebecca Doiley-Bird and the Christmas Case, featuring a doll from the gorgeous Doiley-Bird series created by my talented friends at Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard.
Rebecca Doiley-Bird and the Christmas Case
By Sophie Masson
Rebecca Doiley-Bird was fed-up. Out of sorts. Bored. Restless. Frustrated. And just about every other kind of tedious feeling of that sort.
She shouldn’t be bored. She knew that. She was one of the famous Doiley-Birds, a family of world-famous girl detectives who solved mysteries big and small. And each of the sisters had their own special skill. Rebecca’s was photography. With her trusty camera, she had snapped more shots of fleeing criminals and dastardly deeds than most of us have had hot breakfasts. She’d been in all kinds of sticky situations, and unmasked all kinds of villains. But that was the problem. Right now she was on a different sort of case, all on her own, one her sisters didn’t even know about. But what it mostly meant was that she had to sit by a window and wait for her quarry to come out of the house opposite. And they hadn’t moved. Not one inch, not one second! Nobody came into that house, nobody came out of it. It was hours since Rebecca had first got here and in all that time not a soul had been and gone in the place across the street. She was beginning to think she had made a mistake and her hunch had not paid off.
To make matters worse, it was nearly Christmas and Rebecca had not even started shopping for presents. Each year, it was the same. Each year, she promised herself she’d start earlier. Each year, she was the last one to finish. Often it was at the last minute on Christmas Eve that she finally rushed out and bought something. The others all had such good ideas, and sometimes they didn’t even buy presents, but made them. Like Lizette, for instance, who created cool individual handbags—Rebecca treasured hers from last year—and Veronica, who made up new crossword puzzle books for everyone. Rebecca could have given photographs. But she didn’t think those were good enough presents, especially as all her photographs were of crime scenes and stolen loot and crooks caught on camera.
At that moment, there was a movement in the house opposite. Not much, just the twitching of a curtain, and the glimpse of a face, but it was enough. Rebecca raised her camera and took a quick shot, and another, and another. Her heart beat fast. This could mean the case was about to break at last.
Forgetting all about the agony of choosing Christmas presents, Rebecca watched with eagle eyes as the curtain twitched back and in a few moments longer, the front door of the house opposite opened and someone came out. Rebecca took photo after photo. As the person headed down the steps and into the street, Rebecca was already grabbing all her things and racing down the stairs and into the street herself. Keeping a discreet distance between herself and her quarry, she followed them with an unhurried step.
On they went, into the next street and the next. And there they were, in front of the biggest department store in town. Rebecca’s quarry walked in. Her heart beating even faster, Rebecca took a quick shot of the person going into the store, then hurried after them.
The store glittered with Christmas garlands and lights. Green and white and red trees were decorated with shining baubles, and jolly music filled the air. The store was packed with people, with armfuls of gifts, wrapped with big bows, and children running around everywhere, saying, oh look at that! And that! And that!
But Rebecca took no notice. She was much too busy. Grimly, she followed her quarry up the escalators, to the next floor and the next and the next. They didn’t turn around. They did not seemed to have noticed they were being tailed by a camera-wielding Doiley-Bird in red shoes. Thank goodness!
At last, the quarry reached their destination. After all the glitter and noise of downstairs, it was dark there, and quiet. The figure plunged through a doorway without looking behind them. Rebecca stopped. Dare she go in after them?
Of course she would. She was a Doiley-Bird! Taking a deep breath, she marched over to the doorway. As she did so, lights snapped on, revealing a sign. SANTA CLAUS CAVE. More lights came on. Rebecca blinked. Her heart beat the fastest it had ever done. And then she stepped boldly into the light and called out, ‘Diamond Dan, alias Santa Claus, you’re nicked!’
In the next breath she gasped, ‘Oof!’ as a figure in red and white came barrelling out of the Cave, sack over his shoulder, knocking her down. But either Diamond Dan was dazzled by the lights or it was Rebecca’s lucky day, but the thief tripped and fell, twisting his ankle as he went down. The sack flew out of his hands, and a glittering shower of jewels—necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and even tiaras—spread all over the floor like a river of stars.
Rebecca’s hunch had been right. Diamond Dan had been using Santa’s sack to store all his ill-gotten gains and that was the very day he was planning on taking it all away!
‘How did you guess?’ croaked Diamond Dan, as Rebecca, snapping photos (for evidence, of course!) stood guard over him, before the police arrived to take him away. ‘Yes how did you?’ asked Rebecca’s sisters, later.
‘It was simple,’ said Rebecca. ‘I couldn’t stop thinking about Christmas shopping. And that made me think of Santa. And his sack. And so when I saw Diamond Dan come out of his house, dressed in a Santa suit, I knew what he was up to!’
‘Curses!’ said Diamond Dan, but Rebecca’s sisters said, ‘Wow!’ And that made Rebecca feel good. Very, very good. Until she remembered. She still had one case to solve. And that was a hard one to crack. What was she going to get her sisters for Christmas?
But maybe you can solve that for her 🙂
I’m excited to be taking part in a fabulous event, Word.Play Presents the Jigsaw Cinema, which is a multi-arts production for children, with words, music and visuals. It’s based around children’s books, and one of my books, Join the Armidale Parade, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books), will be featured. The event will be held as part of Bellingen Shire Arts Week in both Dorrigo and Bellingen on January 11, 2021, and if you’re in the area, why not come along?
Here’s a description of the event:
Word.Play presents “The Jigsaw Cinema” – a storybook adventure! Live narration & music (composed & improvised) set to films of quirky peephole illustrations from our featured children’s books. Come & hear sound worlds collide, sonic textures, live projections, “jigsaw puzzle” films of our featured book’s illustrations – bringing an almost cinematic concert experience to life for audiences, young & old.Curiosity is awakened. What picture will be revealed next? Who is creeping in the moonlight? The instruments sound, another piece of the puzzle is revealed…
Author Sophie Masson brings your adventure to life as your live narrator. Sophie is joined on stage by director Maryanne Piper (clarinets, percussion, saxophone, whistles, electroacoustic sounds), Alana Blackburn (recorders, electroacoustic Sounds) & Damian Wright (Guitar – aka Bandaluzia Flamenco).
You can find out more here.
I was so delighted this week to see the fabulous first advance review, in Books +Publishing, for my YA speculative fiction thriller, The Ghost Squad. The book is released on February 1st, 2021 by MidnightSun Publishing.
With the permission of Books +Publishing, here’s a short extract from the review (reviewer is Stefen Brazulaitis, owner of Stefen’s Books, in Perth)
This is a dynamic and exciting thriller with smart, relatable characters, similar to Sean Williams’s ‘Twinmaker’ series. It’s intense, but without profanity and virtually no violence. Though the death/afterlife aspects of the story are important, its core is about trust, loyalty and the courage to do what is right—even at a personal cost. Although it’s not quite as dark, The Ghost Squad should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and readers of John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ books.
Woohoo! Don’t mind at all being in such great company 🙂
Delighted to be one of the featured creators in the latest episode of Story Scoop, the fabulous joint initiative between the Children’s Book Council of Australia, NSW branch and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ANZ. Story Scoop episodes are in three parts, and in this one, it features author Oliver Phommavanh talking about his humorous middle-grade books in Middle Grade Magic, illustrator Serena Geddes talking about her creative process in Illustrator Corner, and myself, in Picture Book Nook, talking about the inspiration and creation of my latest, very seasonal picture book, Santagram (illustrated by Shiloh Gordon and published by Little Hare). Lots of fun to make the clip and lots of fun to be part of this project–thank you so much, CBCA NSW and SCBWI ANZ, for the opportunity.
Watch the video here: