Author Interview: Lari Don

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m really excited to have an author interview with Lari Don, whose books I absolutely loved when I read them last year. Onto the interview!

Hi Lari! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Can you please describe your writing in 5 words?

Magic, monsters, adventure, ambushes, danger…

2. What is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I wish I had a regular writing routine, involving nice quiet days typing in my study and going for long walks to think through plot problems. In fact, I do most of my writing on trains and in a shed. I spend a lot of time talking to young readers and writers in schools and libraries, so if I want to keep on top of my deadlines, I have to write while travelling. Then when I am at home, my family are usually there too, being noisy and distracting, so I have to escape to the garden shed to get peace to think and imagine. And the shed isn’t a fancy shed, it’s an old leaky tool shed, with a desk, a box of blankets, and lots of spiders. Therefore, my unusual writing habit is getting someone brave to check the shed for spiders lurking in the corners or above my head before I start to write. 

3. All of your middle grades are mainly fantasies. Was there any reason you chose to write in that genre? Do you have any favourite fantasy books?

Of my 9 novels so far, 8 are fantasy adventures! I write about magic and quests and monsters because that’s what I’ve always loved reading. Also, most of my inspiration comes from reading, researching and telling old myths, legends and folklore. So I write fantasy because I love fantasy, and because most of my ‘what if’ ideas lead to me that way. My favourite fantasy books are the ones I read when I was young, by Diana Wynne Jones (the Chrestomanci books, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Power of Three) but I’ve read some brilliant ones recently too, including the Five Kingdoms series by Vivian French and the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud.

4. Your books are all set in Scotland, which I loved (It was so nice to understand all the school references for a change!). Did you always plan for that, or did it just seem natural to set the books there when you started? Is there any part of Scotland that you’d like to set a book in that you haven’t yet?

I don’t really plan anything! I just write the stories that won’t leave me alone! My stories generally find themselves happening in Scotland because I know Scotland better than anywhere else in the world, and because the Scottish landscape is fantastic for quests and adventures. Also, location research is easier if it’s a coastline or mountain or castle that I already know or that I can visit in a weekend. However, not all my characters are Scottish (Theo in Spellchasers is from Egypt, for example) and the monsters and magic are inspired by myths and legend from all over the world. Also, I have written a novel (Mind Blind) set mostly in London, so I hope my imagination doesn’t stop at the border! Spellchasers is set in Speyside, where I was brought up, and the Fabled Beasts quested in parts of Scotland that I visit for holidays or to see family: the Borders, the West Highlands, Orkney, Skye, Sutherland… If I want to write about a ‘new’ bit of Scotland, I could consider Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Glasgow, and various other islands. But I’ll have to see what the next story wants and needs. (I think it might need a port, so perhaps I’ll set it in Leith?) Also, I’m delighted that you enjoy reading books set in Scotland and recognising the references.  When I was young, I only read one (ONE!) adventure novel for kids set in Scotland.  Everything else was English or American. Nowadays, there’s so much more choice for young readers, so much more opportunity to read about their own landscape and culture and history. I know that’s the case in Scotland, I hope it’s the case everywhere else as well! 

5. One of the main elements of Spellchasers is shapeshifting, as that is the thing the main character Molly has been cursed with. What 3 animals would you most like to shapeshift into, and why?

A hare – because I spent so much time researching hares, that I’d love to know whether what I imagined and described every time Molly ran as a hare is really how it feels. Also, I’d love to run that fast!

A hawk  – because who doesn’t want to fly? And I’d love to hover above the landscape, watching all the stories happening below me.

 A cat – after all that sprinting and running, I’d probably want to turn into a pet cat, so I could curl up beside a fire and have a snooze!  

(Then, of course, I’d want to become human again, because I don’t fancy eating grass or rodents for my tea!) 

6. I`m going to be a bit mean now. Who is your favourite Spellchaser, and Fabled Beast? Mine are Beth/Atacama and Sapphire, if you’re interested.

I should struggle to answer this, because I should love all my characters equally, but if I’m honest I already know my favourites. Yann the centaur in Fabled Beasts and Innes the kelpie in Spellchasers.  (And my favourite baddies are the Faery Queen in Wolf Notes and Nan in The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away.  There are probably common themes in both of those pairs of favourites, which possibly reveal far too much about me…)   

7. This one should be a bit easier! What’s your favourite thing about being an author?

That’s not easier, because I love so many things about being an author! I love the moment an idea arrives, the ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder’, and especially when several smaller ideas crash together and sparks fly and I can feel I have a new novel coming to life.  But I also love the process of discovering the story, the long journey to find the answers to the initial questions. And I am excited any time a character does something unexpected, especially those wonderful and rare moments when a character takes control of the story and runs off with it (that happened in Rocking Horse War, my only standalone fantasy, and it seriously improved the plot!) And I love editing (yes, really. I know that’s unusual, but I love seeing the story get stronger as I slice away the extra words that I needed to find the story but that the readers don’t need to enjoy it.) And I love the moment a new book arrives, all shiny and real. AND I love talking to young readers and inspiring them to come up with stories of their own. Despite the late nights and long train journeys and spider-filled sheds, I love everything about being a writer! 

8. Finally, before the quickfire questions, can you let us in on any secrets about what you`ll be releasing next? *crosses fingers for more fabulous MG*

I hope there will be more ‘fabulous MG’ (thank you!) sometime soon, but the next book is actually a picture book. It’s called The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster, and it’s quite dark and dangerous, but also magical and mysterious, with amazing illustrations by Nataša Ilinčić. And after that – who knows? I needed a creative break after writing the Spellchasers trilogy (a trilogy takes a long time and a lot of complicated story-weaving) so I am having fun with several possible novel ideas right now. But all the ideas I am playing with involve magic, betrayals and danger, so I hope you’ll enjoy the next novel, whatever it is! 

QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? – Ravenclaw 

Favourite sweet treat? – Orange or mint chocolate, in the middle of the night, to keep me awake when I’m editing

Favourite season? -winter

Your 3 favourite reads of 2017? – The Empty Grave (Lockwood and Co) by Jonathan Stroud 

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (the Memoirs of Lady Trent) by Marie Brennan

Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris 

(and I got a pile of intriguing books for Christmas which I’m really looking forward to working my way through) 

3 random facts about you- 

• I’m terrified of spiders, but don’t have any problems with wasps, bees, moths, birds, snakes or dragons; 

• I am learning British Sign Language; 

• My current favourite vegetable is cauliflower. 

Thanks for asking such wonderful questions! 

Thank you for answering so wonderfully!

I hope you enjoyed Lari’s answers as much as I did. Do you love Lari’s books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet Blog Tour- Jo Simmons on Funny Fiction 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from Jo Simmons all about funny books as part of her blog tour for her own VERY funny book which I really enjoyed (and will be reviewing in my January Reviews!)

I’m not often sure what I think about anything. Age has not brought wisdom, just a sense of bafflement and a love of early bed times. But I do know what I think about funny fiction for kids – I think it’s a really, really good thing.

Not all kids are hardwired to read, but most kids are hardwired to laugh. They laugh so much more than adults – 300 to 400 times a day apparently, while grownups manage about 15 times. This makes children a willing audience for funny fiction. In fact, I’d argue that they positively deserve it!

I remember devouring Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash poems and PG Wodehouse as I went into my teenage years. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy dazzled with its cast of curious intergalactic characters and the hilarious fictional small ads in the copies of Viz my brother passed me were just brilliant. That and the Fat Slags, of course.

Once I had my own two boys, I was impressed by their ability to laugh their way through a day and unimpressed by the unutterably dull books I sometimes found myself reading to them at bedtime. So when I sat down to write my first children’s book in 2010, I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew anything I did write had to be funny.

Funny fiction does so much more than simply entertain. Humour can tempt even a reluctant reader to try another chapter and every time an author makes a child laugh, it’s a little victory for reading. They’re communicating the message that reading funny books is fun, therefore reading must be fun. 

So it’s annoying that funny fiction sometimes gets overshadowed by those heavy books that tackle issues and win prizes, as if a witty story cannot also have meaning or relevance. Writing funny does not mean compromising on narrative ambition. A good funny story is still just that – a story – and can deliver all the truths and meaningful moments a serious tale does. 

My books contain plenty of bonkers scenarios and freaky folk, but also touch on issues relevant to children: friendship problems, anxiety about change, fear of the dark, loss of a loved one and, in my latest, I Swapped My Brother on the Internet the frustration of being inferior in age and privileges to an older brother. Serious stuff, for sure, but all wrapped up in a thick coating of silliness and escapism, ghosts, merboys and doppelgangers, and some seriously grotty pants. Maybe not great art, but hopefully great fun. 

You can follow Jo on Twitter @joanna_simmons and the book’s illustrator Nathan @nathanreed_illo.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite funny books? Did you love this one? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx 

Guest Post: Noah’s Christmas Message by Simon James Green 

Hello everybody! It’s the 23rd of December, can you believe it? I’m so sad that blogmas is almost over, but today I have a fabulous festive treat to share! Noah, from Noah Can’t Even, has written a Christmas Message, which his lovely author Simon James Green has sent along. Over to Noah! 

The Queen’s Noah’s Christmas Message

Hello everyone, and many festive greetings to you all! As I write this, I am eating a warmed mince pie, a cracker sitting temptingly on my desk, as a lone choirboy sings ‘Silent Night’ outside in the snow. Lol, joking! It’s actually November and we’ve got a supply teacher in History and no work has been set, so we’re allowed to do what we want once we’ve completed his word search handout. You’ll be pleased to know I found all fifteen words in under eight minutes – pretty good going when you consider they can be going any direction, backwards or forwards! Anyway, Mr. Baxter set us a task to write a ‘Christmas Message’ in an attempt to use interesting teaching methods to help us ‘analyse our progress’ (ooh, has someone got an OFTSED inspection coming up?) so here is my work:

As well as being a time for candles, turkey and nuts, Christmas is a time for reflection – and I have been doing a lot of that, let me tell you. I’ve been doing so much reflecting, I’m practically a mirror. And what do I see? Well, I see a year that’s been pretty damn awful. Most of my years end up being pretty bad, but 2017 was especially catastrophic for me since Knobface Simon James Green decided to write his book about me and Scholastic, who I assume are some sort of trendy London company full of people who eat avocados, published it. Now everyone knows everything about me, including my most private thoughts and musings and it’s awful. With the devastating news that the book was optioned for a TV show, and a sequel is coming out next year, I have been actively looking at options for living on Mars, as I believe they are looking for volunteers to form a colony there and start a new society. I have sent in my application for this and expect a positive response, as I feel I have many desirable qualities that the new society would need, e.g. I have Scout badges for knots, first aid, fire safety, hillwalking, naturalist and model maker, amongst many others. BTW, the ‘naturalist’ badge is about nature, and shouldn’t be confused with a ‘naturist’ badge, which is someone who likes to go around with no clothes on. There isn’t a Scout badge for naturism, as far as I know. 

Anyhoo, it’s important not to focus on negative things, so I have also been thinking about GOOD things about this year that I am grateful for:

Am Student Librarian 

Harry 

Sophie is in Milton Keynes but I have an invitation to visit at any time (with a minimum forty-eight hour notice, she says). 

Gran is pretty cool at the moment and we are re-watching all the Joan Hickon Miss Marple episodes together.

Most of the stuff they said would happen in our Year 7 puberty talk has now happened, I think, although not everything, but I guess there’s still time and things happen at different times for different people so it’s not even an issue so shut up. 

OK, so what about 2018? What are my hopes and dreams? Other than a nuclear accident vaporizing my mother, or an admin error delivering several tons of Skittles to my door, my main hope is that people STOP BEING DICKS and we can all just get on and sort out some of the really important stuff, like the fact we’re all going to be incinerated because of global warming, or die in the antibiotic apocalypse, or a billion other awful things. But all that’s for later – for now we must focus on nice things because it’s Christmas. We must think of Father Christmas and his sack of toys, and singing traditional carols like ‘Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart’ by popular music band, ‘The Wham!’ Funny story: I knew a woman called Carol and the thing was, she didn’t like carols. That’s pretty awkward, right?!

I hope you have a happy 2018 and I’d like to wish you much festive cheer and thank you for listening to my assorted musings. A very merry Christmas – and a happy Noah year! Ha! (Is that funny? I think that’s funny). 

Noah Grimes x

A comment from Mr Baxter: 

B+ (This would have been an A, Noah, but I had to cross out several inappropriate words. You shouldn’t refer to SJG as ‘Knobface’ in a piece of formal writing, so suggest you take this bit out. Also, for your information, I don’t have an OFTSED inspection coming up and don’t appreciate your sarcastic tone. Please see me. Mr. Baxter). 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a fan of Noah Can’t Even? What have been your best moments this year? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the last day of blogmas,

Amy xxx

Guest Post: 10 Things About Christmas in Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from the amazing Tamsin Winter (author of Being Miss Nobody, which I thought was incredible).

Over to Tamsin!

1. It’s in the school Christmas assembly when the idea for writing a blog starts to flicker in Rosalind’s mind. She’s been silent at her new school for a whole term, and she’s beginning to figure out a way to have a voice.

2. Christmas Day takes on a whole new significance when Rosalind accidentally finds out it could be her little brother’s last Christmas. 

3. Their dad is extra embarrassing during the Christmas period. He wears reindeer antlers to the supermarket, for example. Like Rosalind says, “There must be something in my dad’s DNA that prevents him from feeling any kind of social embarrassment. I feel the Exact Opposite to that pretty much all the time.” 

4. Rosalind has a Major Emotional Meltdown On A Colossal Scale when she finds out her auntie is coming for Christmas Day. Rosalind can’t speak in front of her, so it means she’ll have to spend the whole day in complete silence. 

5. Her parents invited Rosalind’s auntie because it’s her first Christmas since getting divorced, and they didn’t want her to spend the day alone. Like a lot of people who have family members with mental health conditions, or other types of conditions, Rosalind’s parents find it difficult to balance Rosalind’s needs with the needs of the rest of the family. They don’t always get it right.

6. Rosalind’s angry, emotional outpouring of words on Christmas Day was a difficult scene to write, and one that illustrator Emma Trithart captures beautifully in a ‘word tsunami’. Luckily, Rosalind’s little brother Seb is there to brighten the mood with one of his Brilliant Ideas.

Emma Trihart

7. Rosalind spends a lot of time with her ex-Christian Missionary and slightly crazy cat lady next-door neighbour, Mrs Quinney, who tells her bible stories (and gets annoyed if the cats aren’t listening). Although her family aren’t religious, Rosalind prays a lot in the book. And becomes a little obsessed with looking for signs from God. She craves support and guidance and, because of her SM, isn’t always able to ask for help. The one thing she wants more than anything is a friend.

8. Christmas Day is the first time Rosalind tells her parents about the bullying she’s been experiencing. I wanted to write a book that explored the instinct that many young people have to hide bullying from parents and teachers – the very people who would be able to help. This is an important scene in the book because it’s when Rosalind takes the first very brave step towards opening up.

9. On Boxing Day morning, Rosalind discovers an unopened gift. It’s a diary given to her by speech therapist Octavia, who as Rosalind says, “is not exactly an angel, but not exactly a normal person either.” In it, Octavia has written a quote from Maya Angelou – ‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’ 

10. This quote has an enormous impact on Rosalind. And a thought comes into her head that changes everything: ‘What if I could be more than just a nobody?’ 

Thank you for reading! What did you think of Being Miss Nobody, if you’ve read it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

PS- head over to Twitter, where I’m running a giveaway of this boo today for a chance to win it! UK only.

My Winter Memories by Jess Butterworth 

Hello everybody!

Welcome to the FIRST day of blogmas! Today, I’m massively excited to welcome Jess Butterworth, whose book Running on the Roof of the World is one of my very favourites of 2017 (and if I had to choose from my top 3, this would be the one I’d pick). Over to Jess, with her beautiful post about her winter memories. 

I love winter and the frosty mornings where grass crunches under your feet and silvery spider webs cling to hedgerows. 

One of my earliest memories of winter is getting snowed in at my grandma’s house in the Himalayas. There was so much snow my parents had to dig tunnels for me to be able to walk through it. The tunnels were deep and I couldn’t see over the top of them. I was surrounded by glittery white snow and it was magical. That year will always be remembered as the year of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. 

Other stories I adored curling up with in winter months included The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson, The Elves and the Shoemaker by Brothers Grimm and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. 

From the age of 16, I worked weekends in a vintage furniture and gift shop in a medieval granary building in Bradford-on-Avon, next to a tithe barn. There was no heating and in winter I remember buying a pair of boots 2 sizes too big so that I could fit my thick socks into them. The owner was the key keeper for the tithe barn and some evenings I got to bolt and lock shut the creaky giant wooden doors of the barn, alone by torchlight. Each time, long shadows would creep across the wooden beams and my footsteps would echo off the stones, and I’d leave wanting to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. 

The shop transformed into The Christmas Shop every November, filled with orange clove candles and cinnamon pinecones; multi-coloured trees and twinkling decorations. Customers would enter as we were setting it up, nailing garlands to the walls and draping fairy lights, and back out quickly, saying, ‘Oh no, it’s too early for Christmas…’

I always understood what they meant, but I loved it anyway; every day I would come home covered in glitter with the urge to write wintry stories about fairies, woodland creatures and magic. During my last year there I discovered The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton and read it veraciously during my lunch breaks. 

This year I’m spending Christmas somewhere completely new, in Acadiana in Louisiana. Christmas pudding will be replaced with pecan pie and I’ll be reading the Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair and James Rice, where Father Christmas is dressed in muskrat pelts and pulled along in a boat by alligators.  

I’ll also have wintry reads from some of my favourite authors keeping me company, including Emma Carroll’s The Snow Sister, Mimi Thebo’s Dreaming the Bear and Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone. 

Thank you so much to Jess for writing this post. I can personally recommend both the Emma Carroll and Winter Magic; and I may be rereading both too! What are your favourite winter memories? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl 

Amy xxx
 

TWO WAY AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sita Brahmachari Interview 

​Hi everyone!

Today, I’m very pleased to welcome Sita Brahmachari for a two-way interview themed around her latest release Worry Angels , where we ask each other some questions. To try and make things as clear and non-comfusing as possible, I’ve put my questions in bold, Sita’s in italics, and both of our answers in plain text. Huge thanks to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for asking me to host this 😊😊

Hi Sita. Welcome to Golden Books Girl!

1. What were the inspirations behind Worry Angels? Have you wanted to write something like this for a while, or is it a newer idea?

In the dedication I write that ‘Worry Angels’ is inspired by three wonderful people. One of them was a teacher at my children’s school. Her name was Margaret and she used to make papier Mache angels for the children. She is a truly creative and kind teacher who has touched the lives of generations of people and I wanted to write a story in homage to her. 

The second person who inspired me was a Sand Play Therapist called Maggie. Playing in the sand isn’t only good for children and young people. I experience Sand Play Therapy while doing some research on a play, and I found it to be the most wonderful way to free up the stories, worries and anxieties that all people, young and old must learn to cope with as part of life. That’s why I set the story at ‘ The Sandcastle Support Centre.’

The third inspiration is actually called Grace, like my character. She is a young artist who I met a few years ago when I worked on my novel ‘Kite Spirit,’ which also focuses on the pressures that young people face in our society. Real life Grace has made the beautiful animation for ‘ Worry Angels’ and although she is just setting out on her career I imagine her to be much like my character Grace might have been when she was young.

Two of these inspirations I met over sixteen years ago and Grace I met five years ago. Stories very often have long fuses, they can burn for a long time in the imagination of the author. ‘Worry Angels’ has always been alight in me, waiting for its moment to be told as there is a growing awareness of anxiety in younger children.  

1B – Have you had inspirational ‘ Angels’ in your life that you think will sustain you in the future? Can you see any qualities in my characters that your Angels share with mine!

I would have to say my mum, who’s got me through so many dark days, especially with my illness. I think our angels share the quality of kindness.

2. This book is for Barrington Stoke, who specialise in novels for reluctant readers and making reading easier. Did your writing process change at all as you were writing a novella, instead of a novel? What sort of things did you have to adapt?

Writing a novella is what I focus on when I set out to write a Barrington Stoke Book.  Obviously you are aware from the start that the story is shorter and therefore that you have less space and time to create your character’s world. This means that every brush stroke must count and that when a character is introduced you must ensure that they live in full 3D technicolour in the reader’s imagination without burdening them with lengthy description. It’s an excellent skill for a writer to hone. It makes you really dig deep and explore what is vital and what can be stripped away. So much of writing is about giving just enough to create the imaginative space for readers to inhabit. This is the challenge I love in writing Barrington Stoke Stories and short stories in general.   

I write these stories just as I would write any shorter stories. There is no difference in my approach.

2b) I believe that Barrington Stoke stories can be read by readers of all abilities. They’re just great stories.  Recently I met a young student who said ‘ I’m a really good reader so my parents say I should only read classics, and even though I would like to read those books my parents would think that they are too easy for me’ . What would you say to persuade her that reading a BS book would be a good idea?

First of all, I absolutely agree with your sentiments. A book is a book is a book, if you ask me, and what age range/reading ability it’s intended for has no bearing whatsoever on it’s quality, and I like to think I’ll be reading MG and YA till I’m old and grey. If you aren’t reading Barrington Stoke books, you’re missing out on some absolutely incredible characters and stories.

3. Are the characters based on you/people you know? How did you come up with them all? I loved Amy May and Grace especially.

I have spoken about the two Margaret’s who inspired me to write Grace but in many ways I have also been inspired by teachers from my own school years. When I wrote my first novel ‘ Artichoke Hearts’ I was at a school event and an elderly lady came up to me to ask if I would sign. She was a teacher who had known me when I was ten years old she asked if I remembered her…. I did and in many ways she has stayed  with me  over the years – one of my Grace angels, encouraging me, giving me confidence. Just as Amy May’s father never forgets Grace…. I haven’t forgotten the teachers who helped me find the confidence  to be a writer either.

Amy May grew straight out of my imagination and an awareness of how many children need to make the adjustments to changes in their families that they don’t have any power over. In Amy May I wanted to create a character who has experienced a relatable story that many children do experience, or know people who have experienced. Rima’s family experience of having to leave her country and wider family in Syria is so extreme and different to Amy May’s but their friendship also allows the two girls to explore how what they have in common is a search for security.   

A beautiful Jane Ray illustration from Worry Angels

3b. What did you love about Amy May and Grace? What do you think the characters learn from each other in the story? 

They just seemed very real, and I empathised hugely with Amy-May and Rima. I loved watching them learn about one another and become friends. Grace is someone I’d love to know. She was so reassuring and calming.

4. A big part of Worry Angels are the crafts Amy May and Rima do with Grace. Do you enjoy arts and crafts? What have some of your favourite projects been, if yes?

I am a very crafty author!  I create words and stories and then I make things… or work with people who make things. My collaboration with the artist Grace who made the animation for ‘Worry Angels’ and also ‘Red Leaves’ as well as a walk in installation for ‘ Kite Spirit’ is all about exploring the stories through visual projects. I even have a patchwork storytelling quilt that I take around schools with me to explore the place in all of us where creative writing comes from. Like Grace I am a collector of small objects that I place in my quilt and use to help me talk about my stories.
I love graphic novels and illustrated novels and I am so honoured that the wonderful Jane Ray’s drawings grace the pages of ‘Worry Angels.’ We work together at Islinton Centre for Refugees and Migrants… and I think Jane has created the art room that she dreams of working in too. If I could step into her art room right now I would.

4b. How about you Amy? Do you like crafts and art? If so what do you get out of them? Would you like to visit Grace’s art room? If so what, of the activities Grace offers would be your preferred activity? Baking/ sandplay/ papier mache/ gardening/ art?

I’m afraid I’m the least artistic person in the world! (Seriously, even my stick men are deformed). I do enjoy it though when I’m not under any pressure to produce something good, so I’d love to do some art and crafts and baking with Grace. I’d love to plant pretty flowers in the garden too.

5. Amy`s mum seems to struggle with the idea of Grace`s school, which teaches mainly through art and holistic methods. What are your thoughts on schools like this?

Sometimes one dreams up the worlds that we would like to exist. The truth is that there are more and more children suffering from school anxiety and anxiety in general.  I think it’s an area that needs proper attention and funding as if young people’s anxieties are not cared for they can become much more serious as they grow into teenagers and young adults. I wish that there could be a Grace and an Iman and a sandcastle support centre attached to every school in the country….and even though that is unlikely to happen in the current funding climate perhaps something of the quality of Grace’s centre might filter through into schools. 

The magic of writing is that you can wave your pen-wand and make something true in a story…. I’ll keep waving! 

5b) What do you think of these kind of holistic schools? In my story The Sandcastle Support Centre is for children with anxiety? What aspect of the centre do you think would be good to integrate into schools in general? How would this benefit young people? 

I think these schools are fabulous, and I’d love to see them imtroduced into every school, so that children struggling for some reason could 

Cheeky bonus question- Would you ever revisit these characters? I really want to know what`ll happen next!

Well strangely enough. I have been invited by Scoop Magazine to write a little off shoot story of ‘Worry Angels’ and I chose to write a story about Grace’s retirement day when everyone at the centre sets out on a day trip to….

I haven’t thought about a ‘Worry Angels’ story beyond that… but you never know… one of the characters may tap me on the shoulder at some point in the future and ask me to write their story forward from ‘Worry Angels!’

6b At what age would you like to see these characters again? 

I’m not sure what age, but I’d love to see Amy-May and Rima help another child the way Grace and Iman help them in Worry Angels.

You find Sita on Twitter @sitabrahmachari and on her website here.

Thank you so much for reading? What did you think of Worry Angels? Are you a fan of Barrington Stoke? What activity would you choose in Grace’s art room?

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx

Wunderkids Blog Tour: Jacqueline Silvester’s Top Five Fictional Schools

Hello everybody! 
Today, I have a super exciting guest post from Jacqueline Silvester, author of Wunderkids, all about her favourite schools in books and what she’d get up to if she attended them! Over to Jacqueline!

Where

Constance Billard School for Girls

Why

Because attending Constance would likely mean that I am a rich Upper East Side society teen and that sounds pretty appealing right about now. * Searches sofa for lost coins* It also likely means that I have a stylish, ice-cold girl squad, VIP tickets to all of NYC’s hottest events and a window view of Chuck Bass. Yes, please, and thank you. 

Outfit

Headband! Jewelry to decorate my Constance uniform- Cartier bangles, Van Cleef and Arpels Alhambra necklace and earrings. Celine Handbag, Chloe loafers and a Chloe coat. I have given this a lot of thought. Can you tell?

Food of Choice

Salad on the Met steps, duh! Brought to me by courier or one of my minions. Probably ordered from Serafina or Cipriani. If I’m feeling a little celebratory then I’ll order sashimi from Tanoshi. 

After school activity

My after school schedule is very packed. I help plan the Debutante Ball. I am on a bunch of committees, and model U.N, and then there’s my internship at Vanity Fair, private ballet-barre classes, not to mention all the openings I attend (my mom is on the board of like, every museum in Manhattan.)

2. 

Where

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters

Why

Well, because that would mean that I am a mutant and I would give ANYTHING to be a mutant. Like, anything. 

Outfit

Pretty much casual  jeans and loose T-shirts. I burn and ruin my clothes when I’m training so I like to keep it super casual. 

Food of Choice

I feel like the kitchen at Xavier’s mansion is very well stocked, especially with American snacks like pop tarts and rice krispie treats. We are not really supposed to have late night snacks or go to the kitchen at night but my roommate can teleport (like Nightcrawler,) so it’s not a problem. 

After school activity

Training for combat in the danger cave. Swimming in Breakstone lake. Trying to break into Hangar bay so that my friends and I can highjack one of the jets for a joy ride.

3.

Where

Camp Half-blood

Why

Not technically a school, but still! Attending Camp Half Blood would likely mean that I am the daughter of a god or goddess and YES PLEASE SIGN ME UP. I don’t even care that the lifestyle comes with troubles and dangers as long as I get to attend camp.

Food of Choice

I would eat lunch with Nico at Apollo’s table. Mainly because I love Nico but also because I’m likely a child of Apollo; with my gift for poetry and all that (and I also feel that my mom would have a had a soft spot for Apollo if you catch my drift.) I’ll have some barbecued fish, grapes galore, and fresh strawberries (whatever the wood nymphs are carrying around.) Since my goblet can magically refill itself with whatever drink I desire, I’ll opt for Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla

Outfit

Orange camp T-shirt. Obviously. My boyfriend is a son of Hermes so he made me this little necklace with wings on it, or maybe he stole it, I don’t really know, but it’s super cute and I wear it everyday. I also wear this little leather bracelet with an arrow charm on it to remind me of my dad. 

After school activity

Giving the climbing wall my best shot. Archery practice, obviously. I spend the rest of my time honing my writing talents and reading my poetry to my siblings.

4. 

Where

Wildwood Academy

Why

Yes, Wildwood academy has something sinister lurking beneath its amazing exterior, but that sinister thing only affects like 3% of students so I will take my chances! The food is to die for, the setting is beautiful, the classes are exceptional and funky, and if I got in that means I’m either very talented or very rich, so there’s that.

Food of Choice
Sums and I like to hit the all day Waffle buffet and experiment with the endless toppings. I also like the soft serve machine. The sashimi towers served at dinner. If I’m feeling healthy I will hit up Amber’s favorite- the yoghurt stand. 

Outfit

I like to wear this floor length black cashmere coat. It’s looks so ominous against the backdrop of winter mist and the redwood forest. Also it goes with my uniform and it isn’t technically a uniform violation

After school activity

I want to be on Stamos’s events committee and help plan the winter ball, the Halloween dance, and the Easter egg hunt (dubbed the Easter make-out hunt, as students tend to saunter off for make-out sessions instead of looking for the eggs.) 

When I’m free I like to sneak off to the Point. Once in a while ill go to town to Ye Old Ice Creamery or get a tarot reading in (mostly so that I can gawk at the off-limits townie boys.) 

5.

Where

Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Why

Because it’s Hogwarts. No explanation needed.

Outfit

My robes and my uniform. I have a lot of house pride so I tend to overdo it on the Ravenclaw accessories. My mom is a witch and a fashion designer and she crafted me these light silk pajamas that cool you down when it’s hot and heat you in the winter nights. They are in my house colors and that’s what I wear at night, or in the common room for all-nighter study sessions pre- O.W.L.s.

Food of Choice 

Sunday Roast except every day, pumpkin pasties and cauldron cakes to tie me over between meals and for late night studying. Hagrid invites me over sometimes for tea and rock cakes.

After school activity

I like to go to Hogsmeade for essentials, like to drink butterbear and gossip with my friends. But also for new quills from Scrivenshaft’s. I can be found in the prefect’s bathroom taking pink bubble baths, in the library or at quidditch practice.



Wunderkids is available to buy now

Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of Wunderkids? What are your favourite fictional schools? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, I’d LOVE to hear from you! 

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx