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  • Author and adventurer Matt Dickinson releases third and final book in The Everest Files trilogy

    Award-winning author and filmmaker Matt Dickinson has announced that Killer Storm, the third and final book in The Everest Files trilogy will be released this August.

    The book will be launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday 20 August ahead of the premier of Dickinson’s new play, Everest Calling, which will be performed by the pupils of Glenalmond College, Perth at the Edinburgh Fringe from 21–26 August.

    Killer Storm concludes the adventures of teenage explorer Ryan Hart whose dream to summit Mount Everest reaches a dramatic climax as a terror attack sees him held hostage at Base Camp. The book is being published by Shrine Bell, the fiction imprint of Vertebrate Publishing ­– an independent publisher of adventure and outdoor titles.

    Dickinson’s filmmaking career as a director/cameraman for National Geographic television and the Discovery Channel has taken him to some of the most remote corners of the earth – often in the company of the world’s leading expeditioners. Inspired by his 1996 ascent of Mount Everest with actor Brian Blessed, Dickinson’s popular Everest Files series has seen him make appearances at hundreds of high schools across the UK and abroad in a bid to promote literacy and cross-curriculum learning.

    Commenting on the release of Killer Storm, Dickinson said, 'Killer Storm marks the end of a fascinating journey for me as a writer. Setting out to create the Everest Files trilogy was a huge challenge for me ­­– almost as big a challenge as summiting Everest itself! During the research phase of the book I travelled twice to Everest to join expeditions in search of inspiration and background. So the project has been the perfect mix of real-life adrenaline on the avalanche-prone slopes of Everest and writing excitement as the three books came together. Now the summit is in sight with the impending publication of Killer Storm and my email inbox is filling up nicely with comments from readers who are eagerly anticipating it! I look forward to launching the book at the Edinburgh Festival this summer!'

    The Everest Files trilogy forms the basis of Dickinson’s popular creative-writing programme, the ‘Everest Reading Challenge’, which aims to promote literacy and to open a window on mountain regions and cultures. Now in its fourth year, the scheme is available across the UK, with Matt planning hundreds of appearances at schools and events over the coming months.

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  • Fiction imprint Shrine Bell to rerelease Ruth Eastham backlist as part of a deal to sign her latest novel

    Shrine Bell, the new fiction imprint of award-winning publisher Vertebrate Publishing, will release new paperback editions of all four children’s titles by award-winning author Ruth Eastham as part of a deal to sign her latest novel The Warrior in the Mist (Shrine Bell, 7 September, £7.99).

    Eastham’s four books will be rereleased with all-new book covers over a six-month period, beginning in June 2017 with The Memory Cage.

    The deal was put together by Eastham’s agent, Caroline Walsh, of David Higham Associates, who commented, ‘I’m delighted that dynamic new fiction imprint Shrine Bell is working in collaboration with award-winning author Ruth Eastham to bring her fantastic stories directly to teen readers.’

    Vertebrate Publishing’s managing director Jon Barton said, ‘An opportunity to sign such a talented author as Ruth Eastham on a multiple-book deal doesn’t come along very often in a publisher’s career. The quality of her storytelling will be a great boost to youthful enthusiasm that we are developing here at Shrine Bell.’

    Eastham’s debut novel, The Memory Cage won the 2012 Coventry Inspiration Book Award (7–11 category) and her second book The Messenger Bird won the 2013 Oldham Brilliant Book Award. Her third title, Arrowhead, was described as ‘absolutely breath-taking’ by Carnegie-Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland and her fourth book, The Jaguar Trials, was praised by Love Reading 4 Kids, which said it’s ‘a nail-biting read’.

    Commenting on her new collaboration with the imprint, Eastham said, ‘I'm absolutely delighted that Shrine Bell are going to re-issue my books. It's fantastic to work with such a dynamic team and a publisher who believes passionately in its authors as well as fiction for young people.’

    Eastham joins Matt Dickinson and Sarah Mussi on Shrine Bell’s roster of children’s and YA authors. Find out more about Shrine Bell at www.shrinebell.com.

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  • Matt Dickinson's Everest broadcast 2017 - blog 4

    ‘THE EVEREST FILES’ AUTHOR IS BACK ON EVEREST AGAIN THIS YEAR ON A FILMING MISSION. IN THIS SERIES OF BLOGS HE REPORTS BACK FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON EARTH!

    WHY EVEREST? HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?

    I am often asked at schools where my fascination for Everest began.

    The answer is simple. It began with a single book, at my grandfather’s house when I was seven or eight years old. Both my grandfather and my great grandfather had been big readers. There were thousands of books in their houses.

    Shortly after my great grandfather died, my grandfather showed me his copy of The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt, the account of the very first epic climb to the summit of the highest peak on earth. I remember being enchanted by the pictures. It seemed such an incredible adventure and I never imagined for a single second that I would follow in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing to reach that most sacred place.

    MORE BOOKS!

    Later, as I become more interested in climbing and mountaineering, I continued to read more and more books on the theme. I remember finding them in the library of my school when I was about twelve or thirteen years old and devouring them avidly. They were written by great British climbing heroes like Doug Scott and Chris Bonington. I could not imagine that I would one day film some of those great heroes myself for my documentaries!

    Reading brought the mountains alive in a way that amazed me. I really felt lost in the stories.

    YEARNING TO TRY IT MYSELF

    By the time I was fifteen I was getting really keen to try some mountaineering myself. I found ways to get to the Peak District, went rock climbing at the famous Stanage Edge and took long solo treks across the boggy marshland of Kinder Scout. But Everest already had a hold on my mind and I wanted to see it for myself. A gap year journey to the Himalaya followed, only to be interrupted by sickness and running out of money.

    But the siren call of the mountain had a hold on me and it was only a matter of time before I would travel to the mountain itself.

    One of my great regrets is that my grandfather died before I summited the mountain. I think he, and my great grandfather too, would have been utterly amazed, and probably very proud, to know that someone from their family had reached the top.

    Everest has long been a mountain o fascination for me. My journey to the mountain began with a singe book. Photo: Matt Dickinson. 

    Contemplating Everest from the nearby viewpoint of Kala Pattar. Putting my feet up for once! Photo: Matt Dickinson.

    It was my great grandfather's copy of The Ascent of Everest that started my obsession. Photo: Matt Dickinson.

    My great grandfather's precious book. Photo: Matt Dickinson.

    It was given to him by Kitty, a family friend, at Christmas in 1954, one year after the great ascent happened. Photo: Matt Dickinson.

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  • THE MEMORY CAGE – Shrine Bell has it covered!

    We're very excited to announce that Shrine Bell has acquired all four children's books by the award-winning author Ruth Eastham. Previously published by Scholastic, each of Ruth's titles will be available to buy from the Shrine Bell website sporting all-new shiny covers. Set for publication in June 2017, Ruth's debut book The Memory Cage is the first title our designer, Nathan, has been working on. Take a look at the cover options he's come up with below and find out which option Ruth chose.

    The Memory Cage is story of Alex, a boy who was adopted during the Yugoslav Wars, and his determination to help his grandad recover his failing memory following his Alzheimer's diagnosis. 

     

    Here's what Ruth thinks ...

    'When I heard that the innovative publisher Shrine Bell were going to re-issue my first novel, The Memory Cage, I was absolutely delighted. I’d already seen the dynamic team launch Matt Dickinson’s Everest Files trilogy and Sarah Mussi’s Snowdonia Chronicles with great success, and was so excited to see what they’d come up with for The Memory Cage.

    A few days ago, during my author visit at a London school, I revealed – with excited trepidation – the brand new front cover for the very first time!'

    And here it is! Ruth went for option two:

    Ruth says ... 'I knew how vitally important it was to get the design right… So I was totally thrilled when the Year 5s and 6s gave it the biggest heart-warming thumbs up ever! These switched-on young people also noticed elements of the artwork I’d never even thought of, such as how some of the bars are different thicknesses … Could this mean that certain memories escape more easily than others?

    At the Midlands secondary school I went to next, the students and teachers were equally impressed. They noticed how some of the letters remain trapped inside the cage, while others come through to the outside. The question then was – are the memories inside the ones that are remembered or forgotten? Great stuff!

    One thing is for sure – the clever and creative designer at Shrine Bell, Nathan, has produced a cover that is thought-provoking and powerful. Love it! Whilst the blues and reds pay tribute to the original The Memory Cage, this new design is radically different and gives the story a whole new spin. 

    The three aircraft seen through the bars of the cage hint at Grandad’s secret Second World War past, while the fighter plane motif links with the trauma Alex, a war refugee, has been through and can’t talk about.

    Even the background – I sometimes see a wall with cracked, peeling paint, sometimes swirling cloud – adds to the theme of being trapped and facing obstacles, coupled with the fuzzy blur of memories forgotten. Every element of the cover has been crafted in a fabulously intriguing way.

    With such great graphics, I can leave the punchy cover text to speak for itself:

    Alex has survived a war. Now his mind is the enemy.

    (Thanks to fellow Shrine Bell author, Matt Dickinson, for that one!)

    I was so proud when The Memory Cage, my debut, got shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. Now I’m so proud again of my new look book.

    By the way, Shrine Bell is actually going to re-issue all of my titles: The Messenger Bird, The Jaguar Trials, Arrowhead 

    Book number five will be my new book, The Warrior in the Mist, out in September. Can’t wait to see what Nathan comes up with for that one!'

      

    To book Ruth for an author visit, go to her website: www.rutheastham.com

    Follow Ruth on Twitter: @rutheastham1

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  • Matt Dickinson's Everest broadcast 2017 – blog 3

    THE EVEREST FILES AUTHOR IS BACK ON EVEREST AGAIN THIS YEAR ON A FILMING MISSION. IN THIS SERIES OF BLOGS HE REPORTS BACK FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON EARTH!

    DEATH ON EVEREST: April ended with tragedy as news rippled through base camp. Ueli Steck, one of the world’s most famous climbers, had died during a training climb on the North Face of Nuptse. It was a staggering blow for the climbing community, many of whom were friends of this high-profile and brilliant climber. We had also had the honour of spending time with him the previous year when we stayed in the same lodge in the village of Chukung. He was a modest and friendly man, not the least bit aloof despite his incredible achievements which include two Piolet d’or awards (climbing’s greatest honour) and a speed ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in less than two and a half hours. So. What went wrong?

    Was it human error? Or had Ueli been the victim of an avalanche or rock fall? Most climbers at Base Camp go for the rock fall theory. The face Ueli was climbing is prone to shed loose rocks once the sun comes up, they get loosened as the ice sealing them to the face melts. Ueli had been climbing SOLO so we will never really know the truth of what killed him. The world of climbing has lost one of its brightest talents. AN

    EIGHT-HOUR EPIC: My original plan had been to join my hosts, the British Army Gurkha Everest Expedition 2017 on their first ‘rotation’ through the ice fall. But the logistics of setting up their higher camps had not been completed at that point so I left with Chongma Pemba Sherpa as my guide to climb up to Camp One and Two. We left at 2 a.m, in the very coldest part of the night, since that is the ‘safest’ time of the day to be traversing the ice fall. Nevertheless we heard two distant avalanches as we crunched across the ice towards the start of the climb, a warning sign that we could take nothing for granted.

    The route through the ice fall was different this year. In an attempt to avoid massive crevasses on the right-hand side, the Sherpa team fixing the ropes had taken the route to the left. I felt my stress levels rising as we traversed some massive OVERHANGING ICE WALLS which were creaking and cracking alarmingly. The route took us right through the zone where sixteen climbing Sherpas were tragically killed in an avalanche in 2014. We heard an ice tower collapse with a tremendous BANG close by. It was a terrifying place to be in and we moved as quickly as we could.

    ARRIVING TO CAMP 1: Daylight was a real morale booster. Everything seems better once the sun rises, even though, ironically, the ice fall then gets more dangerous. But it’s simply good to be able to see and get an idea of the incredible scale of the place. Then the tents of Camp One came into view. A great moment! It had been my ambition to experience the incredible WESTERN CWM of Mount Everest’s south side ever since I was a child. My previous expedition to the summit had been on the North Side of the Mountain so all of this was new to me. The valley was even more spectacular than I had imagined. A broad, majestic sweep of space, flanked by incredible walls of rock and ice on both sides. We still couldn’t relax. Crevasses cross this zone as well. We had to traverse about ten monster crevasses to get to our tents.

    The next stage would be the long trek up to Camp Two.

    Into the ice fall, one of the deadliest zones on Everest. (Photo: Matt Dickinson).

    The ice fall is a zone of highly unstable ice. Avalanches and collapses are alarmingly common. (Photo: Matt Dickinson).

    Me in the ice fall on the climb to Camp One. (Photo: Matt Dickinson).

    Ladders are used to cross the many crevasses. (Photo: Matt Dickinson).

    This is camp 1 at the top of the ice fall-- a welcome refuge after a long and tense climb through the avalanche zone. (Photo: Matt Dickinson).

    Ueli Steck (on the right) tragically lost his life in a fall from Nuptse. (Photo: Amin Moein).

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  • Matt Dickinson's 2017 Everest broadcast – blog 2

    THE EVEREST FILES AUTHOR IS BACK ON EVEREST AGAIN THIS YEAR ON A FILMING MISSION. IN THIS SERIES OF BLOGS HE REPORTS BACK FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON EARTH!

     

    HIGH WINDS AND EXPLODING BOOTS!

    The season got off to a windy start! This is often the case on Everest where late winter winds are lurking stubbornly on the slopes. How fast can Everest winds actually be? Well, fast enough to blow a fully grown adult off their feet! This happened to me several times above 8,000 metres on the northern side of Everest. Can you imagine it? A wind so strong it will blow you to the ground? It’s a shocking demonstration of the power of nature.

    The fastest wind speeds are certainly in the region of eighty to 100 miles an hour. Phenomenally fast, a reflection of the fact that these are JET-STREAM WINDS circulating around the planet at high altitude. Jet streams are curious natural systems, best thought of as turbulent rivers of wind. Commercial aircraft often exploit them to gain speed and save fuel on their long trans-global journeys.

    In the very first days at base camp my tent was ripped by the wind. The whole of the back section of the fly sheet came away. Luckily I was able to pin it down with extra rocks!

     

    THE GREAT BOOT DISASTER

    Some years ago, while climbing Aconcagua in South America, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalaya, I had a problem with my climbing boots. I say a problem. I mean a DISASTER!!! The sole collapsed on my special high-altitude insulated boots and I had to borrow a pair to keep my dream of reaching that summit alive.

    Now, almost unbelievably, I’ve suffered CLIMBING BOOT DISASTER NUMBER TWO!

    I went into the Everest ice fall for a training climb on my very first day at base camp, confidently dressed in my BRAND NEW, BARELY WORN, ASOLO HIGH ALTITUDE BOOTS.

    And guess what? When I got back to my tent I saw that they were falling apart. The whole of the top part of the boot had split away from the bottom, the glue in the seal simply splitting and cracking away. The left boot was almost as bad. I couldn’t believe my bad luck. Equipment failures like these are extremely rare and I now had my second BOOT DISASTER. I think the freezing temperatures had caused the glue to crack. My hopes of filming up to Camp One and Two were looking very dodgy indeed.

    A LUCKY BREAK For while I genuinely thought my climbing ambitions for 2017 were stalled, but then came a saviour in the shape of a junior Gurkha Officer who just happened to have a spare of boots in my size. When you consider my feet are rather large that was a real stroke of luck! He kindly loaned them to me and the problem was solved.

    Thanks, Chris, you did me a real favour there! So my filming trip was back on but first the winds had to stop!

    The season was off to a hostile start.

    For more information about Matt Dickinson and his book series The Everest Files check out www.everestfiles.com.

    For video clips showing the route to base camp check out www.youtube.com insert ‘Everest Files Matt Dickinson’ in the search box.

    Yaks on the trail to base camp. 

    The view from my tent showing a typical base camp scene.

    High winds pin climbers down in base camp.

    My almost new Asolo boots collapsed after one day in the ice fall.

    All photos were taken by Matt Dickinson.

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