When I first bumped into Sarah McIntyre at the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago, I little realised that she was going to become one of my very best friends. And I certainly never imagined that we would end up working together. We have very different personalities and views on things, and there seems little common ground between her lovely comics and picture books and my novels.
But what do you know? As we nattered away to each other, both in real life and on the internet, all sorts of mad ideas started to pop out. It turns out that it's actually quite a good idea to collaborate with someone whose work is completely different from your own, because it forces both of you to try new things.
So it was only a matter of time before some McIntyre/Reeve collaborations appeared. You may have read the Mortal Engines Christmas story which Sarah illustrated here on the blog, and I've already mentioned the four-page comic story we're working on for the Phoenix. Now I'm very happy to announce that we've signed with Oxford University Press to produce four illustrated books, the first of which, Seawigs, will be published in the autumn of 2013.
Seawigs will be very different from my other books. It's a lot shorter, for one thing, because a lot of the work of building the atmosphere and describing how things look will be done by Sarah's pictures as much as my words. I did most of the writing, but its completely influenced by Sarah's ideas and sense of humour, which was great - instead of staring blankly out of the window whenever I got stuck, I just 'phoned her up and asked what would happen next, and she'd suggest things. Most of the things she suggested were as mad as pants, but they all found their way into the plot somehow. It's the most fun I've ever had writing a book!
Sarah will be getting busy on the illustrations for Seawigs later this year, and we'll also be thinking about our next book together, which won't be Seawigs 2, but a completely different story. And after that ... well, frankly, I have no idea where our adventures will lead us. But that, of course, it what makes it so exciting!
Here's a link to Sarah's blog, with her take on the OUP announcement.