M. G. Leonard to write Adventures on Trains with Sam Sedgman

 Me and my co-author Sam Sedgman at the National Rail Museum in York

Me and my co-author Sam Sedgman at the National Rail Museum in York

I've got some super-dooper mega huge news!

I've been keeping this under wraps for a while, but my next book series will be about trains and because I don't know that much about them, I've persuaded the talented and lovely Sam Sedgman to write them with me.

Sam is a playwright and digital producer that I worked with at the National Theatre. He's obsessed with mysteries and railways, which will come in handy when we are creating our adventures on trains for you to read.

I'm very excited about these books. They will be published by Macmillan in 2020 and are going to be epic!

The books will follow 11-year-old Harrison Beck and his uncle, travel writer Nathaniel Bradshaw, as they travel the great railways of the world and encounter all manner of mysteries and adventures. The first book, The Highland Falcon, follows Harrison and Uncle Nat on board the last journey of the royal steam train. Among the passengers are aristocrats, actors and businessmen... and a very clever jewel thief.

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M. G. Leonard has a Bug Hunt on BBC1's Countryfile

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I've done quite a bit of tele, but the bug hunt with Ellie Harrison on Countryfile must be one of my favourite pieces. It was a beautiful day, and the lupin field was a heavenly place full of fascinating bugs. I was in my element, and I'm delighted with the way the show turned out.

I was also pleased that they included some of the wonderful illustrations that Carim Nahaboo has done for The Beetle Collector's Handbook, published in September. You get a sneak peak at how marvellous they are.

You can watch it on the iplayer on catch-up for the next month.

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M. G. Leonard tells Sky News about the Phantom Midges at the World Cup

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Did you catch me on Sky News? It was the hot and humid day after England won their first match in the World Cup and so I arrived at the studio with my hair all in a frizz and was asked if I could talk about the Phantom Midges that were annoying the football players. I'm the first to hold up my hand when I don't know about something, but whilst I was in hair and makeup, I was allowed to phone a friend. Luckily Max Barclay from the Natural History Museum was on the other the other end of the telephone and he told me all about what wonderful creatures Phantom Midges are, so I only managed to squeeze a sentence or two in about beetles, but I did get to big up National Insect Week on the news, so job done. Weird hair though, eh? I won't be letting anyone give me a central parting again that's for sure.

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National Insect Week 2018

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I was absolutely honoured to be invited by the Royal Entomological Society to be a part of launching National Insect Week 2018 at RHS Wisley this week. It was a wonderful occasion and I go the opportunity to finally meet Carim Nahaboo the talented illustrator who I've worked with on my non-fiction book The Beetle Collector's Handbook, which is published in the UK in September by Scholastic.

There were speeches, and wonderful artwork by Carim, the oppertunity to eat bugs (yummy) and see some of my favourite entos. I was even given a present by the delightful Chris Jeffs, a stag beetle from Indonesia to add to my collection.

I'm so proud to be a part of this initiative. If you want to find out about Bug related fun for National Insect Week happening near you there's information here. The celebration doesn't last just a week you know, it lasts a lifetime.

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Beetle Boy Trilogy Optioned For TV - Screenplay will be written by M. G. Leonard

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I have some very exciting news. I am delighted to be able to announce that my beetle books have been optioned for TV. And, even better than the news that they will be coming to your home screens in the near future, is that I am the screenwriter on the project. I will be ensuring all your favourite characters, both human and coleopteran, burst onto your screen in true dramatic style, like they do in the stories.

I am so excited about the production team on this project.

Watch this space for news and further updates.

Bring on the BEETLEMANIA!

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Insects Through the Looking Glass - An Exhibition at the Story Museum

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June is the month when we celebrate National Insect Week and the wonderland of insects on this planet.

This year the Royal Entomological Society and The Story Museum in Oxford are curating a wonderful exhibition to explore the insects that inspired children's fiction, featuring Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl & ME!

Can you imagine just how delighted and terrified I am in equal measure? It's going to be wonderful.

I'm opening the Exhibition with events on 16th & 17th of June with illustrator Carim Nahaboo. Check my events calendar for these events. They are free with the exhibition ticket entry price. YOU MUST COME!

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Hay Festival 2018

 Me with wonderful author James Nicol, one of my favourite pictures from Hay 2018

Me with wonderful author James Nicol, one of my favourite pictures from Hay 2018

 

The Hay Festival is one of my favourite literary festivals. I always stay as long as possible and see other author's events if I can. This year was fantastic.

I was extraordinarily honoured to be able to bring the eminent coleopterist, and good friend, Max Barclay to the Hay Festival this year. He brought with him a selection of drawers from the Natural History's Coleoptera Collection, including a drawer that featured beetles collected by Charles Darwin himself. Max Barclay is a font of beetle knowledge and a true inspiration to me. I also sneaked some slides into my event from my new non-fiction book The Beetle Collector's Handbook, which is published in September and features a section by Max. Those who were patient enough to brave the signing cue were rewarded with both mine and Max's signatures on their books. A treat indeed.

The second event I did at Hay was with Lauren St John, Jackie Morris and Nicola Davis to spread the message about Authors4Oceans and what the book community can do to support the reduction of plastic waste. It was an absolute treat to get to an event with these wonderful women.

I was lucky enough to see lots of great events. The one I enjoyed most, was watching my colleague and friend James Nicol, author of The Apprentice Witch, talk about his new book A Witch Alone, which is on my beside table and I'm eager to read.

Here is a gallery of images from my time at Hay Festival. A big thank-you to all who came to my events or waved at me in the campsite.

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M.G. LEONARD READS CHAPTER ONE OF BATTLE OF THE BEETLES

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I often get asked what it is like to record an audiobook, so when I went into the studio to record Battle of the Beetles, I propped up my phone and videoed myself reading Chapter One - Beetle Plague.

A useful video for classrooms or indeed if you are wondering if you want to read the third book in the Beetle Boy trilogy. 

To get the full effect of the audiobook please close your eyes whilst watching!!! LOL! Or for the full experience head to iTunes, audiobook or any shop that sells audio CDs to get the whole book.

Enjoy! And please forgive the poor audio and lighting, my phone is only a little media machine. The audiobook recording is far better quality.

Featuring illustration by Karl James Mountford.

If you think reading an audiobook looks easy, below is a short 2 minute video of all my bloopers! Thank goodness for the producer, Carolyn.

Authors4Oceans

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I work hard to broadcast the message about the importance of insect conservation, but this is not the only area of our relationship with the natural world that concerns me. Anyone who saw the Blue Planet cannot help but feel the urgent need for change in our behaviours and habits, or we will destroy many species and habitats through laziness and ignorance.

I believe the state of the oceans is the biggest and most important environmental issue of our age and I am proud to be a part of the Authors4Oceans project founded by Lauren St John. It is a coming together of many authors and illustrators who feel as strongly as I do about this issue and we hope by uniting and leading a series of powerful initiatives we can effect change in people's behaviour and their use of plastic.

You can read more about the project in The Guardian.

Please do take the time to check out the website and follow our twitter, facebook or Instagram channels for more news.

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