Oxford author Philip Pullman brought the magic of His Dark Materials to Oxford Town Hall for about 700 fans who came to hear him talk.

Mr Pullman, 61, was at the town hall to chat about his new book, Once Upon a Time in the North, which focuses on two characters from the popular fantasy trilogy.

The main hall and gallery were packed out with fans - with lots of youngsters accompanying their parents for the sold-out literary festival event.

After hearing the author discuss his work with Today presenter James Naughtie, the queue stretched out of the main hall as fans waited for Mr Pullman to sign their copy of the new pocket-sized book, which comes in the same format as a previous short story, Lyra's Oxford.

Mr Pullman told his audience he had to accept the label fantasy for his style of writing because his stories contained bears that talked.

He added that he had helped to create the fictional seaport location for his latest story by "stealing" details from a book he found in Oxfam, The Shipping World Yearbook 1910.

Jonathan Miles and Dominic McDonald, both 16, travelled from Merseyside, to hear Mr Pullman's talk.

Jonathan said: "We are staying in the youth hostel. Mr Pullman knew there were lots of children in the audience so he made sure they could understand what was going on - I was surprised he was so funny."

The talk was one of the first events of this year's Oxford Literary Festival, which is running this week.