Mon

26

Sep

2016

A GUEST POST BY AUTHOR BARBARA HENDERSON

It's my great pleasure to welcome debut author Barbara Henderson to the blog. Today's post is only one stop on Barbara's Fir for Luck blog tour (for information on the others please see below). 

 

Barbara's young adult novel was published last week by Pokey Hat, an imprint of Cranachan Publishing, and is set to be hugely successful. To give you an idea of what the book is about, here's the blurb:

 

When 12-year-old Janet’s village is under threat– she decides to take action. It’s a split-second decision that could cost her everything: her home, her family – even her life.

Can Janet save her village from being wiped out? Or will her family and friends be forced from their homes to face an uncertain future?

Based on real life events, Fir for Luck is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances, when land owners cared more about sheep than people. 

 

'Steeped in atmosphere, tension and the lyric cadences of the Highlands, Janet’s tale lights a fire of courage and hope in a shameful and tragic period of Scotland’s past. Henderson’s debut is brave and beautiful.'

Elizabeth Wein, Author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire

 

Sounds good, eh? Just wait until you see this trailer!

 

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Sat

24

Sep

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR LAURIE J EDWARDS: PART 2

A couple of days ago I introduced you to author Laurie J Edwards. If you read part 1 of her interview I think you'll agree that she's a fascinating interviewee. Having chatted about some of her (many) published books in part 1, our converation took a different and equally fascinating turn. Read on to see what I mean. 

 

You’re such a prolific author, and spread your writing net widely. What drives you to do this?

I enjoy reading and writing many different genres, so I’m grateful I’ve been able to connect with publishers who specialize in various areas that have captured my interest—everything from picture books to adult novels, and fiction as well as nonfiction.

 

How do you balance your various commitments for each pen name?

It’s not easy and can sometimes feel overwhelming, but I’m grateful for the opportunities to write what I love. One nice thing about having so many different projects is that whenever I get stuck on one, I just move to another. Behind the scenes, my subconscious brain is working on the previous novel, so when I return to the book, I often have a good idea of what to do next. I suspect if I didn’t have another project to turn to, I might worry myself into writer’s block.

 

I’m usually balancing six books at a time, so sometimes deadlines all hit around the same time, and I may have some sleepless nights getting everything completed. Usually, though, I try to spread out my deadlines. I find that editors are generally flexible about deadlines if we discuss my other commitments before I start the book.

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Thu

22

Sep

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR LAURIE J EDWARDS: PART 1

Today I'm delighted to welcome Laurie J Edwards to the blog. Laurie is a former librarian and teacher, and is the author of some 30 books and more than 2,300 magazine and educational articles. She writes under several pseudonyms, and also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. I reckon the term prolific was coined with Laurie in mind!

 

In this interview we'll focus on Laurie's work as Erin Johson and Rachel J Goode. Before I kick off the Q&A, here's a little about Erin and Rachel:

 

Erin Johnson is the author of the YA Wanted series (do read it - it's brilliant!): Grace and the Guiltless and Her Cold Revenge, published by Capstone/Switch Press. She grew up watching classic western movies with her father, which fuelled her lifelong love of horseback riding. Erin's always dreamed of being a fierce-talking cowgirl, but writing about one seemed like the next best thing. She loves travelling, painting, riding motorcycles, and teaching, and lives in North Carolina. 

 

Rachel J Good writes life-changing, heartfelt novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of Amish romances in the Sisters & Friends series: Change of Heart (published by Christian Books) and Buried Secrets (published by Charisma House).  She is also the author of the Amish Quilts Coloring Book (published by Golden Fairy Arts). Rachel grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. A former teacher and librarian, she completed her MA from Vermont College while raising five children. She is presently an MFA student at Hollins University. 

 

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Mon

19

Sep

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON JEANNIE WAUDBY

Some months ago, I read Jeannie Waudby’s thoroughly engrossing debut novel One of Us. To coin a cliche, I was completely blown away by it. Suitable for young adults and older it’s a powerful, thought-provoking, very topical and memorable read. It is, therefore, no surprise to me to learn that it was longlisted for the prestigious Branford Boase Award, shortlisted for the Bolton Children’s Fictions Award and the Lancashire Book Award. It was also longlisted for the Sussex Coast Schools’ Amazing Book Award and I expect the award nominations won’t stop there. Although Jeannie is busy working on her next novel she took time out to chat to me on the blog. First, though, here's a little more about the woman herself:

 

 

Jeannie grew up in Hong Kong, on a small island which was a leprosy treatment centre. She moved to London aged 14, studied Art and English in Aberystwyth, taught Art and English in secondary schools and then English in a Chinese university. She taught ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) in London colleges for many years and still lives in London with her family. One of Us is her debut novel.

 

For more inform about Jeannie and her work check out her website; alternatively connect with her on Twitter.  One of Us is published by Chicken House and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and all good bookstores. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Jeannie, it’s a thrill to have you here. To kick off the interview could you tell the readers what inspired One of Us?

It’s lovely to be here, Christina! The first germ of an idea for One of Us came from a dream. It was a little scene in which the main character, K, had a sudden moment of realization. I can’t say what it was without it being a spoiler, but I was so intrigued by the dynamic between K and another character that I had to keep exploring it. So for me there is a love story at the heart of the book.

 

Yes, I think so too. So, for those who haven't read it what’s the book about?

It’s about K, an isolated girl of fifteen who takes on a fake identity as a Brotherhood girl in order to spy on extremists. K’s country is split between Citizens and the Brotherhood and the story opens with a bomb planted by Brotherhood terrorists.

 

Why did you feel that this was a story that had to be written?

I’ve always wondered how people can plant a bomb that will kill random strangers – what it is that brings someone to that place. And I wanted to explore a society in which two groups are conditioned over centuries to hate each other (so many examples in our world) and to see what happens when you put someone into the ‘enemy’ camp.

 

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Wed

07

Sep

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR YVONNE VENTRESCA

I'm super-excited to welcome Yvonne Ventresca to the blog today. Yvonne is the author of Pandemic (published by Sky Pony Press, 2014), winner of a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (for the Atlantic region of the US). The School Library Journal called Pandemic "an engrossing apocalyptic story” and Kirkus Reviews said “this realistic page-turner will keep most readers enthralled.” Yvonne’s next YA novel, Black Flowers, White Lies will be published by Sky Pony Press in October, 2016. She is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency.

 

To find out more about Yvonne check out her website, sign up for her newsletter or read her blog. Alternatively, you can connect with her on Facebook, GoodreadsTwitterInstagram and/or Pinterest.

 

Pandemic is available in paperback, hardback and on Kindle. Buy it from: Book Depository, Amazon UK and .com, Indiebound (US), B&N and Books A Million. Do watch out for Yvonne's new book Black Flowers, White Lies

 

Welcome to the blog, Yvonne. It’s a pleasure to have you here. Huge congratulations on the paperback edition of Pandemic. To begin the interview could you tell the readers what the book is about?

Pandemic is about an emotionally traumatized girl and the new boy in town, and how they struggle together to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak. Here’s a longer description:

 

In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder's sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. After her parents are called away on business, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With her worst fears realized, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

 

It's such a great story. What was the inspiration behind it?

I like to think about worse case scenarios. A highly contagious, fatal disease is particularly terrifying because it would isolate people and cause chaos. I thought it would be interesting to explore how that situation would affect teenagers’ moral decisions. The other aspect of the story that I wanted to include was an emotionally damaged sixteen-year-old. It’s hard enough to survive crazy times – but what if you had trouble trusting people? What if you were obsessively hoarding canned goods to feel prepared, and then realized it wasn’t enough? I liked the challenge of putting my main character, Lilianna, in that situation and having her grow stronger for it.

 

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Sat

03

Sep

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR PETER BUNZL

Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome author Peter Bunzl to the blog. Peter’s debut Middle Grade novel, Cogheart, is already causing a considerable stir and was a Waterstones Book of the Month for August.

 

Peter grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with three cats, two dogs, one little sister, an antique dealer dad and an artist mum. Peter has always wanted to tell stories, and as a child found inspiration visiting TV and film sets including James Bond and Postman Pat, where his mum worked as a costume designer. After studying at art college and film school, Peter animated on commercial, promos and two BAFTA winning kids' TV shows. He has written and directed several successful short films, and lives in North London with his partner Michael. Cogheart is his debut novel and was published by Usborne on the 1st of September 2016. Peter is represented by Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood. 

 

To find out more about Peter check out his website, alternatively connect with him on Twitter or Instagram. Cogheart is available through Usborne or from Waterstones, Amazon or any independent bookstore. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Peter, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Congratulations on the publication of Cogheart.

 

To start off the interview could you please tell the reader what inspired you to write Cogheart?

Thank you Christina, it’s a pleasure to chat with you! Cogheart was partly inspired by an amazing non-fiction book called Living Dolls by Gaby Wood. It’s a popular history of automatons - which are clockwork robots that existed in the late 18th century. The inventors of these automatons strived to make them as life-like as possible, and that intrigued me because it brings up the question: What makes us human, and could those qualities ever exist in a machine?  Aside from that, I really wanted to write an epic, swashbuckling children’s adventure story, and I began to wonder - in what world could these two ideas combine? The answer was a Victorian steampunk one, so that became the setting for Cogheart.

 

How fascinating! Could you go on now to give us a brief idea of what the book is about?

The book is about a girl called Lily, whose father, a famous inventor, vanishes in an airship crash. Lily’s determined to hunt down the truth behind his disappearance. With the help of Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and her wily pet mechanical fox, Malkin, she runs away from home and makes for London. But shadowy figures are closing in, and danger lurks among the city’s smoky spires, along with a life-changing secret…

 

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Sun

28

Aug

2016

SILVER LININGS

Minty in Waterstones, Kirkcaldy
Minty in Waterstones, Kirkcaldy

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men 

Gang aft agley...

 

The above quote is from one of my favourite Robert Burns' poems, To A Mouse, in which he talks of how even the best of plans can go off course. 

 

I had lots of plans for this summer: meeting friends and family, book bloggers and fellow writers; plus attending several events at the Edinburgh Festival, and the book festival in particular (which coincided with a picnic to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Happy Anniversary, SCWBI!). However, life intervened which left me strapped for time, even for writing, so I’ve had to put my plans on hold. Nevertheless, I hope I’ll manage along to at least one of the things I’ve been looking forward to because, I admit, I’ve been feeling a wee bit low about my plans going astray. Then something wonderful happened – or somethings. Let me explain.

 

I’m sure that I’m no different to other authors when I say that I love getting feedback on my book. The thing is, though, my novel Minty was published two years ago so my expectations of readers noticing it amongst all the amazing new books that are being published weekly have diminished with each month that passes. Of course, in this I’m no different to anyone else who’s had a novel published. To be honest, that can be difficult to comes to terms with but then again it’s just the way things are.

 

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from a lovely reader who told me how much he loved Minty and that - and I quote - The ending was terrific and I was tearful. Thanks again for a much needed book about a subject that will touch us all.” 

 

Wow! That really lifted my mood. 

 

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Sun

14

Aug

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR KAREN E COLES

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Karen E Coles to the blog. Karen is the author of the Mesmeris trilogy, the third book of which Wormwood was published recently. Before we launch into the interview here's what Karen has to say for herself:

 

I was born in the lovely village of Taplow, Buckinghamshire, and now live in south west Wales. My family are rather nomadic, so I lived in quite a few different places in-between the two. After studying Fine Art, I went on to become an exhibiting artist and occasional art tutor for adults. I imagined I would always be a painter - until I tried writing. I hope I’ll be able to write for the rest of my life.

 

To find out more about Karen visit her website or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter. The Mesmeris trilogy has garnered terrific reviews and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

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Mon

08

Aug

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR SARA GRANT

Today it's Sara Grant's turn to feature on the blog. Writer, editor, teacher and enabler - Sara is a woman of many talents and, as you might expect, a very busy one. Nonetheless, I managed to pin her down to chat to her about her new book release, Chasing Danger, and lots more. But before that, let's find out a little about the woman herself. 

 

Sara loves everything about books – writing, editing and reading them. She has a brain full of story ideas and a bookcase overflowing with books. She also adores visiting schools, libraries and bookshops and sharing her passion for stories. Her latest project is Chasing Danger - an action-adventure series for middle grade readers. She has given creative writing workshops in Europe and the United States and taught master's classes on writing for children and teens at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the University of Winchester. Sara was born and raised in Washington, Indiana, a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She lives in London and is represented by Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She is published by Scholastic. To find out more about Sara and her work check out her website or connect with her on Twitter. To buy her books click here.

 

Many congratulations on the publication of Chasing Danger. It’s such a fun book, I loved it! Can you tell the readers what it’s about?

Chasing Danger is the start of a new action-adventure series. I think of it as a tween, re-booted Charlie’s Angels with the twist of exotic locations. Here’s the blurb for the first book:

 

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this vacation might actually kill me.”

When fourteen-year-old Chase Armstrong is sent to visit her grandmother at a remote tropical resort, she’s looking forward to sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. The last thing she expects is danger. But she’s in for some surprises. She discovers another girl hiding out on the island and uncovers a devastating secret about the mum she’s never known. When modern-day pirates attack the island, it’s up to Chase to outrun, out-think and outfight the pirates . . . before it’s too late!

 

It's such a great idea for a book! What sparked it and how did you develop the story?

I was a super fan of the TV show Charlie’s Angels when I was a kid. It had smart, strong, feisty – and yeah, gorgeous – women at the heart of the action. I’ve always wanted to write a series that would give teen readers the same experience I had when I watched Jill, Kris, Kelly and Sabrina in the 1970s.

 

I also love to travel. The first book in the Chasing Danger series sprang from my trip to the Maldives a few years ago. While my husband sunned himself and read a series of books, I plotted and planned mayhem. I envisioned and then pitched the first Chasing Danger as Die Hard (one of my all-time favourite action movies) on a desert island.

 

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR ALLY SHERRICK

Today sees the publication of author Ally Sherrick's debut novel Black Powder. As you might expect this is a busy period for Ally. Nevertheless, she still managed to find the time to stop by the blog for a chat. However, before we begin here's a little information about Ally and her book. 

 

Ally loved writing stories at school and thought she’d quite like to be a writer, although she also really wanted to be an Egyptologist and spend her time excavating pyramids, digging up mummies and hunting for buried treasure.

Her love of history and books led her to study for a BA in medieval history, literature and French at the University of Newcastle on Tyne. She also has an MA in Writing for Children from the University of Winchester. Over the years Ally has had a number of different jobs including working at WH Smith Head Office, working for a publisher of self-help books, and for a firm of tea-traders, plus she's held several roles in public relations and marketing, and in the public and HE sectors. Ally loves exploring ruined castles and decaying mansions and imagining what it must have been like to live in them without electricity, hot and cold running water and flushing loos – although she’s quite glad she doesn’t have to herself. She is married and lives with her husband and assorted garden wildlife in Farnham, Surrey.

 

You can find out more about Ally on her website or connect with her on Twitter. Black Powder is published by Chicken House and is available as an ebook and in paperback from Waterstones and all good book shops. It can also be purchased from Amazon and other online book stores. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Ally it’s a pleasure to have you here. Huge congratulations on the publication of Black Powder.

Thanks so much, Christina. Delighted to be here!

 

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Sat

18

Jun

2016

TOMMY V CANCER BLOG TOUR

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Tue

14

Jun

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR JO FRANKLIN

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Jo Franklin to the blog. Her UK debut Help I'm an Alien was published recently and is set to become a favourite with readers aged eight and above. Before we begin the interview here's what Jo has to say for herself:

 

Jo Franklin was born reading sometime in the last century. As a child, she loved making up stories. Unfortunately no one could read her writing, so she couldn't become an internationally published author until she got a computer. Jo writes funny, feel good stories for 8-12 year olds. She likes to write about children who are not normally centre-stage like tomboys, geeks and misfits. Her first UK series was published recently by Troika Books, starting with Help I'm an Alien. She loves to meet her readers and is able to come to schools and libraries to talk about aliens, brains and what it is like to have two best friends. Jo is representated by Anne Clark Literary. Help I'm an Alien is available from all bookstores (you can order if not in stock) or on Amazon and other online retailers. To find out more about Jo and her work visit her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

 

Many congratulations on the UK edition of, Help! I’m An Alien! It looks like so much fun. If you had to describe this book in one sentence what would that be?

Three friends, a misunderstanding and a lot of ice.

 

Ooh, intriguing! Now can you tell the readers a little more about the story and what inspired it?

Daniel Kendal feels such a misfit that when his sister tells him he is an alien he believes her, so he enlists his two friends Freddo and Gordon the Geek to help him return to his home planet. Only things don’t exactly go to plan.

 

Authors are asked all the time where they get their ideas from and most of the time I think we don’t know, but the idea for Help! I’m an Alien came to me in flash. I had been working on two different stories with a space theme in the previous twelve months. One featured no aliens whatsoever, the other had only aliens and no humans. So I guess I had aliens on my mind and I had been reading Tim Collins Diary of a Wimpy Vampire, which is about a teen vampire who feels out of place, when I watched the movie ‘Submarine’. This is narrated by a teenager grappling with his identity and there was something about that narrative voice and Nigel the vampire’s voice that struck a cord with me and I thought ‘I want to write something like that for middle grade’. So I got out my notebook and started writing while I watched the end of the film. I wrote 10,000 words in three days. Unfortunately Christmas came along and interrupted my flow and it took me three months to write the next 10,000 words. But I was sure I was on to something.

 

Who’s your favourite character in the book and which one would you like to kick in the pants?

My favourite character is Gordon the Geek. He is one of those rare things, a character that comes to you already formed. Complex but clear. He is so easy to write about and such fun. He is such a neat freak that he goes to school wearing a blazer and tie even though there is no school uniform at his school, he uses a ruler to part his hair and he doesn’t allow anyone to touch him. He is also the most loyal friend you could have.

The most annoying character is Jessie, Daniel’s older sister. She is a typical stroppy teenager who makes everyone’s life hell.

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Sun

05

Jun

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR CAMILLA CHESTER

Today it's time to welcome author Camilla Chester to the blog. Camilla and I had a lovely long chat so you might want to fetch yourself a cuppa before settling down to read. However, before the Q&A begins here's what Camilla has to say about herself.

 

I live in Hertfordshire with my husband and two young daughters. I originally trained as a Primary School Teacher, but have worked mostly in the charitable and voluntary sector. I now run a small dog walking business. I've written children’s fiction all my life and use my daily walks with the dogs to imagine and develop plot ideas and characters. I obtained a distinction in the Open University Creative Writing Diploma and play an active part in both an on-line and a local writing group. I believe strongly in the importance of reading for all children; to promote literacy, and open them up to new worlds of imagination and creativity.

 

Camilla's novel Jarred Dreams is available through her website (Camilla's preferred option), or from Can't Put DownTroubador Publishing, and Amazon. It can also be obtained on order through Waterstones and other bookstores. To discover more about Camilla check out her website.

 

Congratulations on the recent publication of Jarred Dreams. What’s the book about and what inspired you to write this particular story?

Thank you! The story is about a creepy ghoul who steals children’s dreams, storing them in jars in his cellar. A twelve-year old girl comes to live opposite and is resistant to his powers. It is pretty scary, so only recommended for readers aged 9+. I’ve always been interested in dreams and how weird they can be. I also like the double meaning of the word. I was on holiday with my family and we started chatting about what the world would be like without dreams when the character of the Dream Thief was born. The early drafts were centred more around him and his backstory. The protagonist was created as a deliberate opposite to him in order to brighten it up a bit.

 

How did you set about getting Jarred Dreams published?

I’d tried, unsuccessfully, to get published before with other books. I entered Jarred Dreams into a competition with The National Literacy Trust. If I won it would’ve been published with Bloomsbury. When it was shortlisted, but didn’t win I tried with several agents. Although I had interest nobody wanted to take it on. Around the same time I was asked to go to my daughter’s school to give a talk to the Y6s and I had such a positive response to the book that I started looking into self-publishing. I linked up with another SCWBI member (more about SCBWI later in the interview) who had already done it, took a lot of advice, shopped around, costed it up and then decided to go for it with Matador. It has been excellent. I’ve had such a great response from readers and it feels like such a buzz that it is out there, being read. I’m still hopeful that I will be traditionally published, but I’m much more realistic about that now. Also I can see it from the publisher’s perspective now that I am trying to sell books. It is not easy.

 

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Sun

29

May

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON HELEN MACKINVEN

Today I'd like to introduce you to Scottish author Helen 
MacKinven
.

 

Helen writes
 contemporary
 Scottish fiction
 and graduated
 with merit from 
Stirling University with an MLitt in Creative Writing in 2012. Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals, such as Gutter magazine. Her debut novel, Talk of the Toun, was published by ThunderPoint in 2015. Helen blogs at helenmackinven.co.uk and you can find her on Twitter as @HelenMacKinven.

 

Welcome to the blog, Helen it’s a pleasure to have you stop by. Congratulations on the publication of your memorable debut novel, The Talk of the Toun. For those who haven’t read the book yet what’s it about?

Talk of the Toun is an uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship. It’s a bittersweet coming-of-age tale as two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are set against the religious and social landscape of 1980s Scotland.

 

How much of the story is drawn from real life experience and/or observations?

Writers are often advised to, “write what you know” and I come from a similar background and area as Angela, the main character. The book is set in 1985 when Angela is 17, as I was then, so it made it easy to use the setting and time period to tell the story as it was a world I knew well. However, Angela is an entirely fictional character (nothing that juicy happened in my teenage years!) and the difference between us is that I was always encouraged to “stick in” at school and I went on to train as a primary school teacher, whereas Angela has to fight the small town mentality that holds her back from chasing her dream of going to Art School.

 

How would you describe your lead character, Angela?

In several reviews, Angela has been described as being unlikeable which came as a surprise to me as this was not something I consciously set out to achieve. My goal when creating Angela was to portray a realistic sense of how some teenage girls can behave when they’re caught up in their own wee world where everything revolves around them and is melodramatic. This results in Angela making serious errors of judgement but I don’t believe she’s inherently bad; she’s simply a mass of mixed up emotions. Thankfully, her gran sees through her inappropriate behaviour and offers guidance and unconditional love.

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Sun

22

May

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR, KERRY DREWERY

I am very excited to welcome Kerry Drewery to the blog today. Kerry is the author of two wonderful young adult/crossover novels, both published by Harper Collins Children's, A Brighter Fear and A Dream of Lights (If you haven’t read them what are you waiting for - they are utterly brilliant!) and Cell 7 which will be published by HotKey Books in September 2016. Before we get to the interview itself here’s what Kerry has to say about herself:

 

Kerry Drewery has a first class honours degree in professional writing, previously worked for Book Start, and was a finalist in a BBC Scriptwriting for Children competition. In June she’ll be taking part in a 24 hr open water swim in Lincoln to raise money for Book Aid International. (Find out more about this on her Tumblr.) Kerry lives near the sea and the countryside in Lincolnshire in a house filled with pets, books and films.  When not doing sensible things like writing and reading she likes doing things such as swimming in lakes, running and cycling.  All this exercise is only so she can eat a lot of cake. To find out more about Kerry check her out on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter

 

Her novels A Brighter Fear and A Dream of Lights are available to purchase on Amazon or in Waterstones and other book stores. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Kerry, and congratulations on the acquisition of your new novel, Cell 7. To start off the interview could you tell us a little about Cell 7, and what inspired the story?

Thank you so much for having me, Christina. Cell 7 is set in a society where the death penalty hasn’t been abolished but has evolved into a system where guilt is decided by public internet and phone votes, overseen by a terrifying reality show – Death is Justice. Teenage Martha Honeydew claims to have killed celebrity millionaire, Jackson Paige, and has been placed in Cell One of death row. There are seven cells, one for each day, and we follow her along the cells as her story unfolds. If found guilty she’ll be the first ever teenager executed on death row. But why is she pleading guilty? And what is her relationship to the deceased son?

 

I think I could dare to call it a fast-paced thriller. It’s been a lot of fun to write, actually. It’s part in script, part first-person, part third, and pokes a bit of fun at reality shows, while tackling some serious issues about society, justice and the gap between rich and poor. 

 

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Fri

06

May

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, SUE WALLMAN

Today I'm delighted to welcome author, Sue Wallman, to the blog. Sue's debut novel Lying About Last Summer was published by Scholastic on May 5th, and it has already generated a lot of interest. I can't wait to buy my copy at her book launch next week! Anyway, before we delve into the interview here's a bit more information about Sue herself.

 

Sue was brought up on the south coast of England. She was one of the first students to do a publishing degree at Oxford Brookes University, and went on to become a magazine journalist. While travelling in South America, she met her husband (he was her tour leader!) They have three teenage daughters and live near London. She is represented by Becky Bagnell at The Lindsay Literary Agency. You can find out more on her website www.suewallman.co.uk or connect with her on Twitter. Lying About Last Summer is available on Hive, and Amazon etc and at all good bookshops. 

 

 

·      Welcome to the blog, Sue it’s a pleasure to have you here. Huge congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, Lying About Last Summer.

Thanks Christina. I first met you at the Friday night critique at the SCBWI conference a few years back, when you’d just announced your book deal, and you were very encouraging. It’s so nice to be here on your blog with a deal myself.

 

Aw, thank you! It's a thrill to have you here, Sue, I'm so pleased that's it's your book we're now talking about. So…let's get started with the interview:

 

When the Bookseller announced your book deal it mentioned that Lying About Last Summer started with a swimming pool. It sounds intriguing - please tell us a little more about this.

I did a place/setting workshop with author Lucy Christopher at the SCBWI retreat a few summers ago. She told us that setting is always the starting point for her, and then she introduces a “pull”. In the exercise we did I wrote about somewhere else, but afterwards I kept thinking about swimming pools, especially an outdoor one in the sunshine. The actual setting in Lying About Last Summer is fictional but I love pools. I like how I can either think through something specific or let my thoughts drift, and I enjoy the feeling of being cut off from the world when I’m in water.

 

Could you go on now to tell us a little about the story itself?

My main character Skye is living a privileged, carefree life until her sister dies in an accident that’s connected to the family swimming pool. A year later, her parents encourage her to go on a holiday for bereaved teenagers. When she’s there Skye starts receiving messages on her phone from someone claiming to be her dead sister. Freaked out, she doesn’t know who to trust, or what this person wants. But she’s forced to confront everything that happened the previous summer.

 

It sounds brilliant! What emotions will readers be left with on finishing the book?

Hopefully they’ll feel that even though bad things happen, things that can’t be put right, it’s possible to find ways to cope, and even to be happy again.

 

What was your experience of working with an editor?

It was mostly exciting, but when I first received the editorial notes for Lying About Last Summer, I did have a moment of I hope I can do this to a good enough standard. The best thing was being able to talk to my editors about my characters as if they were real.

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Sat

12

Mar

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, TAMSIN COOKE

Today the spotlight falls on author Tamsin Cooke, whose debut novel The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar was published recently. Having read and loved Tamsin's book I was keen to chat about it with her. Being the lovely person she is, she agreed. However, before we begin the Q&A here's a little about Tamsin herself:

 

Having lived in several exotic places, Tamsin loves to travel, have adventures and see wild animals. She used to be a primary school teacher but now writes at every opportunity. She lives in Somerset with her adrenalin-junkie family.  When she isn’t writing, she can be found tromping through the woods with her soppy dog, reading books or eating jellybeans. 

 

Tamsin is represented by literary agent, Anne Clark. Check out Tamsin's website for more information on Tamsin and her books. You can also connect with Tamsin on TwitterThe Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar is published by Oxford University Press and is available from Hive, Amazon, Waterstones and all good bookstores. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Tamsin, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Huge congratulations on the publication of The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar. For those who have yet to read Cat Burglar (What are you waiting for, guys? It’s amazing.) could you briefly outline the story?

Aw- thank you so much for having me here and for your kind words. Cat Burglar is about 13 year old Scarlet McCall - a schoolgirl by day and cat burglar by night. She and her dad are on a mission to return stolen treasures to their rightful owners. But when they take an ancient Aztec bracelet, her world turns upside down.  Dad goes missing, and mysterious powers erupt inside her. She's hunted by sinister people, who will stop at nothing to possess the bracelet. Searching for her dad, Scar must learn who to trust before it's all too late.

 

I read on your website that the book was inspired by a dream. Could you tell us a little more about that, please?

One night, I dreamt that a bracelet sucked into my bloodstream. When I woke up, I felt really unnerved… and a little bit sick. But then it got me thinking. What could happen if a bracelet disappeared inside of you? How would your life change? And soon a whole story was unravelling in my mind.

 

Wow, that's some dream! Next question now, I also read that you had early feedback on the manuscript from kids. How did you arrange this and how did their comments influence the final book?

Actually Cat Burglar was already finished before the kids got to see it. Oxford University Press thought it would be really nice to have some quotes about book one to go into book two.  Because the two books are being released six months apart, there was limited time and so the kids got a preview. Their reactions didn’t influence my writing, but they helped enormously with my confidence. I was nervous putting Cat Burglar into the wild. But their feedback was so wonderful, it made the process easier.

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Sun

21

Feb

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, LINDSAY LITTLESON

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Lindsay Littleson to the blog. Lindsay's debut novel, The Mixed-up Summer of Lily McLean, was published by Floris Books last year, and is highly recommended for middle-grade readers and above. When not writing Lindsay works as a primary school teacher. She lives in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Since taking up writing for children in early 2014 she has published a short story with Walker Books, in addition to winning the Kelpies Prize with The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean.

 

The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean can be purchased directly from Floris Books, or from Amazon and bookshops such as Waterstones. To discover more about Lindsay and her writing check out her website, or connect with her on Twitter at @ljlittleson.

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Thu

04

Feb

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, KATHRYN EVANS

A really special book was published this week, one that's already garnering rave reviews and a considerable buzz. What is this amazing book I hear you ask? It's Kathryn Evans' debut novel More of Me, published by Usborne Children's Books. Anyone who is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in the British Isles will know of Kathyrn as a SCBWI stalwart and hard-working volunteer. As you'll see from her bio below she's a very busy woman (and that was before her book was published!). Luckily, though, she interrupted her hectic schedule to talk to me last week. Let's begin the interview with a few words from Kathryn herself:

 

Following a degree in drama and a short career in theatre, Kathryn Evans quickly realised she was likely to starve unless she got a proper job. She didn't get a proper job, she started a strawberry farm with her husband and began writing- a superb plan that meant, should starvation ever knock the door, there would be an abundance of soft fruit to see it off.

 

Kathryn is a mother of two, she fences epee; performs Egyptian Dance; is an active citizen scientist; she writes poetry on thefuneverse, blogs at Notes from the Slushpile and she absolutely loves dressing up. Kathryn knows her hobbies are weird but she really doesn’t care.

 

She is represented by the Sophie Hicks AgencyFor further information on Kathyrn and her writing visit her website, or you can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. More of Me is available on Hive and at all bookstores. 

 

Welcome to the blog, Kathyrn, and congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, More of Me.

Thank you, it’s so nice to be here.

 

To kick off the questions, could you tell us how long have you been writing and how you came to be published?

I’ve been writing for years and seriously writing for about fifteen. I just never gave up, I kept learning and trying and starting again until I wrote something that really captured people’s imaginations. It wasn’t straightforward though – I wrote More of Me very fast because an editor had read the first 3 chapters at a SCBWI conference 1-to-1 critique and loved it. My agent, Sophie Hicks, sent her the finished script and I had the strangest rejection ever from that editor – she loved the book, it had her gripped to the end and it really pained her to have to turn it down, but she did. It really knocked my confidence and I asked Sophie if I could have it back to work on it some more. I didn’t know she had already sent it to Usborne and I then had the nuttiest few days when there was a huge flurry of interest in the book and I didn’t know what to do. Happily, it went to Usborne and I am so so glad it did. They’ve been great.

 

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Sun

24

Jan

2016

SPOTLIGHT ON AUTHOR, LARISA VILLAR HAUSER

I'm delighted to welcome the lovely Larisa Villar Hauser to the blog today. Larisa writes books for children and her first published work, Uma & Imp, was released in 2014. She lives in London and has spent stretches of time in New York, Austria and Brazil, where she expanded her horizons and her overdraft. Although Larisa always wanted to write, she was in her thirties before she started work on her first book - an unpublished crime fiction novel that now acts as a draught excluder. It took her over seven years to complete Uma & Imp - she is confident that her next book will be completed in at least double that time.

 

Check out Larisa's website to discover more about her and her writing: www.impprintbooks.com. Or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or GoodreadsFor dedicated and signed copies of UMA & IMP with free UK P&P, please click here

 

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Mon

18

Jan

2016

AN INSIGHT INTO THE WACKY AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF YA AUTHOR, KIRKLAND CICCONE: PART 2

 

A couple of days ago I introduced you to Scottish author, Kirkland Ciccone. Today it's time to hear a little more from him:

 

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Sat

16

Jan

2016

AN INSIGHT INTO THE WACKY AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF YA AUTHOR, KIRKLAND CICCONE: PART 1

A belated Happy New Year to you all; I hope 2016 brings you everyone you wish for!

 

Since the last blog I've been busy working on my next book. However, it's time now to get back into the blogging saddle, kicking off with a two-part interview with the incomparable Kirkland Ciccione. Kirkland is the Scottish author of young adults novels, Conjuring the Infinite and The Endless Empress and North of Porter, the latter of which was published in November 2015. You can buy his books on Amazon or at all good book shops. 

 

To connect with Kirkland check out on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads or discover more about him by investigating his website

 

 

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Tue

29

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON CLARE HELEN WELSH: PART 2

Today it's time for part 2 of my interview with lovely debut author, Clare Helen Welsh, whose picture book Aerodynamics of Biscuits was published yesterday by Maverick Books

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Sun

27

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, CLARE HELEN WELSH: PART 1

I'm delighted to welcome debut author, Clare Helen Welsh, to the blog today. Clare's picture book, Aerodynamics of Biscuits, is published tomorrow, September 28th. As the mother of young children and with a busy day job, not to mention the buzz being generated around her fab book, life is proving somewhat hectic for her at the moment. Nevertheless, she took time out of her busy schedule to chat to me. But before we get to the Q&A here's a little more information on the lovely Clare:

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Tue

22

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON TERESA FLAVIN

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Sat

19

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON R J MORGAN

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Fri

18

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON RACHAEL CRAW: PART 2

On the blog today I welcome back New Zealand author Rachael Craw, whose YA crossover novel Stray (the second in the Spark trilogy) was published recently. Before reading Part 2 of her interview here's a quick reminder about Rachael herself: 

 

Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, and became an English teacher after graduation. Working with teenagers has given her a natural bent towards Young Adult fiction and a desire to present a feisty female protagonist in her writing. Released in 2014, her debut novel, Spark, is the first in a series published by Walker Books Australia. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in Nelson with her husband and three daughters.

 

You can connect with Rachael on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads or find out more about her by checking out her website. Don't forget to suscribe to her newsletter for all the latestest book-related goss! 

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Mon

14

Sep

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON RACHAEL CRAW: PART 1

Some time ago on Twitter I came across New Zealand author Rachael Craw. For those who don't know her, Rachael is one of the funniest, most enthusiastic and generous tweeters out there and great fun to follow (check out her Twitter account to see for yourself!). Not only that but she's an awesome writer and her debut novel, Spark - the first in a fantastic YA/crossover trilogy - has created a massive buzz amongst readers in the Southern hemisphere. It was also one of my favourite reads of 2104 so I'm thrilled to welcome Rachael to the blog today. However, before you read her answers to my (many!) questions here's a little more about the woman herself:

 

Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, and became an English teacher after graduation. Working with teenagers has given her a natural bent towards Young Adult fiction and a desire to present a feisty female protagonist in her writing. Released in 2014, her debut novel, Spark, is the first in a series published by Walker Books Australia. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in Nelson with her husband and three daughters.

 

You can connect with Rachael on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads or discover more about her by checking out her website. Don't forget to suscribe to her newsletter for all the latestest book-related goss! 

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Tue

25

Aug

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON REBECCA COLBY

I'm thrilled to welcome Rebecca Colby to the blog today. Rebecca is a picture book author and poet. Her books include: It’s Raining Bats & Frogs (illustrated by Steven Henry and published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2015) and There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie (illustrated by Kate McKelland and published by Floris Picture Kelpies, 2014).

 

Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected tights, taught English in Taiwan, worked for a Russian comedian and travelled the world as a tour director. Learn more about Rebecca at www.rebeccacolbybooks.com.


There's a link to a fun scavenger hunt at the end of this interview so be sure to read carefully to find the necessary clue!

 

But first, welcome to the blog, Rebecca! It’s super exciting to have you stop by. 

Thank you, Christina! I’m super excited to be here! 

 

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Sun

16

Aug

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON MORAG CAUNT

Some weeks ago I introduced you to my lovely writer friend, Morag Caunt (AKA Morag Macrae) whose collection of short stories, The Zone, was published this year. Today I'm delighted to welcome this kind, unassuming and inspirational woman back to the blog to chat about her work with young people, and, of course, let us know a little more about her book.

 

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog, Morag and congratulations again on the publication of The Zone


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Fri

31

Jul

2015

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL SCBWI PANEL - HOW TO SURVIVE BEING PUBLISHED

The EIBF in Charlotte Square
The EIBF in Charlotte Square


I expect most people are aware of the Edinburgh International Book Festival which takes place in Scotland's capital city every August. For me the book fest is one the highlights of the year, and the end of July always brings with it that delicious tingle of anticipation at the literary excitement to come. This year I have even more reason to be excited because I've been asked to be part of a very special event on August 20th: the Edinburgh International Book Festival SCBWI panel - How To Survive Being Published. Yes I know - I'm one of the panelists, can you believe it? I'm not sure I can!

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Tue

14

Jul

2015

SPOTLIGHT ON MOIRA McPARTLIN

A few months ago Scottish publisher Saraband Books asked me if I would provide a quote for Moira McPartlin's forthcoming young adult title, Ways Of The Doomed. Having read and loved Moira's adult novel The Incomers I jumped at the chance of reading her new book. I opened the first page fully expecting a fascinating read. I was not disappointed: Ways Of The Doomed is brilliant! Although Moira has had a hectic few weeks promoting her novel I managed to pin her down to answer a few questions about it. Here's what she had to say:

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Wed

20

May

2015

SCBWI CALLING!