Today, I’m really excited to have an author interview with Jenny McLachlan, to celebrate the release of her latest YA book Truly Wildly Deeply (which shall be in my March Reviews post this Saturday!). Onto the post!
Today, I’m really excited to have an author interview with Jenny McLachlan, to celebrate the release of her latest YA book Truly Wildly Deeply (which shall be in my March Reviews post this Saturday!). Onto the post!
Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon, the second book in the series. I enjoyed the first last month, so I’m looking forward to getting to this, hopefully in the next few weeks or so. Onto the interview!
Today, I’m really excited to welcome the absolutely lovely Jess Butterworth to the blog for a guest post, as part of the YA Shot Blog Tour. Onto the post!
As a child I often imagined I was on adventures in the wilderness without my parents in tow. My grandparents were avid David Attenborough fans and I used to watch wildlife documentaries with them before acting the scenes out: pretending I was climbing to the top of a rainforest; rescuing a pelican from a cliff or swimming with pink dolphins in an alpine lake. I wanted to inhabit an outside world: interacting with nature and experiencing my environment.
The literature I surrounded myself with reflected this desire and books such as Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Jamila Gavin’s Wheel of Surya trilogy, swept me away to faraway lands or on adventures in new settings. My other favourites included Louis Sachar’s Holes and The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. As I got older I turned to narrative nonfiction and travel writing. All of these stories allowed me to experience being in the wilderness from the safety of my home. These are also the things I consider in my own stories: what are the places I want to spend time in when I write and the type of landscapes I want to create for my characters to interact with? I also soon realised that the stories I loved writing were ones that were fictional but grounded in real places and events.
My reading journey planted the seeds for a desire to go on my own adventures and as soon as I was old enough, I worked as much as I could and saved up for train, bus or plane tickets before setting off, armed with a notebook and a pen. And as I travelled, I noticed that my strongest story ideas developed when I was on buses or trains. There’s nothing better than being tucked into a corner of a train, knees up or legs crossed, with nothing to do but think, people watch and ponder for hours as the scenery whizzes past. In my head I’d ask questions about characters’ motivations: why are they doing this and what will they do next? Sometimes, the passing view outside or the events around me were enough to spark whole book ideas.
I’ve wondered if I find writing on public transport inspiring because in a world where we’re surrounded by the buzz of social media distractions, epic to-do lists, and long working days, it offers the freedom to think and be present without the pressure of sitting at a desk and having to come up with an idea; your only goal is to reach the destination.
But there’s also something magical in writing about a setting as you’re in it. I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s all too easy to forget the little details, the tastes, sounds and smells of a place, when you’re far away from it. Now each idea gets its own notebook filled with photos, notes, maps and clippings from its setting that almost acts as a portal back to the place, when I flick through it. This also gives me something tangible to show students during school visits.
About Jess- Having spent her childhood between the UK and India, Jess’ debut novel ‘Running On The Roof Of The World’ was inspired by the stories she heard about the Himalayas from her grandmother. She begun writing it in 2013 when she was living in the Indian Himalayas and trekked into the mountains as part of her research. You can follow her on Twitter @J_T_Butterworth.
What settings do you enjoy creating/reading about? Are you a fan of Jess’s books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!
Today, I’m really excited to welcome the authors of the fantastic Witch’s Kiss trilogy, Kate and Liz Corr for an interview as part of their blog tour for the 3rd and final book The Witch’s Blood. Onto the interview!
Hello! Thank you so much to you both for being here ☺
Hi Amy! Thank you so much for having us and for being part of our blog tour. 🙂
1. To start off, can you please describe the trilogy in 5 words?
Love, betrayal, friendship, siblings, witchcraft.
2. What served as your inspiration for the trilogy? Am I correct in saying that the books are loose retellings of different fairytales?
Kate: You’re right, The Witch’s Kiss was originally inspired by Sleeping Beauty – but it’s a gender-reversed version of that fairytale, with a sleeping prince instead of a princess, who gets rescued (more or less!) by a teenage witch. The Witch’s Tears is part inspired by Rumplestiltskin (such a weird fairytale, and definitely one that deserves more attention)
Liz: There’s also a bit of Pride and Prejudice in The Witch’s Tears (in terms of Leo and Merry’s relationships with Ronan and Finn). The last book in the series, The Witch’s Blood, is the story that grew out of the first two books, but it also has hints of Rapunzel in there.
3. On that note, what are your favourite fairytales?
Liz: Apart from those mentioned above, we both love Beauty and the Beast (no surprise there) and Snow White (that glass coffin!).
Kate: I always liked Rose White and Rose Red, because for once it’s the brunette who gets the prince.
4. You collaborate on writing. How do you split the writing? Are there any main advantages or disadvantages to writing together?
Kate: We always start with a very detailed plan so we’re both (literally) on the same page, though the plan alters as we write. We start off aiming to write alternate chapters, but this usually falls apart pretty quickly since we a) write at different speeds and b) start fighting about getting to write our favourite parts.
Liz: Yeah, the disadvantage is that you can spend ages writing something then get up the next morning and find your co-writer has red-lined the entire thing and re-written it. *glares at sister* But there are way more advantages: by editing each other’s work we definitely save our editor some pain, plus there’s always someone else around who is keen to talk about our imaginary worlds.
5. Do you either of you have any unusual writing habits?
Kate: I’m not sure whether this is unusual but I have to write in complete silence. My inner (stereotypical) librarian can’t cope if there’s the slightest bit of noise. This usually means Liz and I can’t be in the same room whilst drafting, since she’s a bit… chatty.
Liz: I like to write in my PJs, with my favourite fluffy slipper boots on, for that little extra bit of comfort. But I don’t think that’s unusual. It’s not. Is it?
6. One of my favourite parts of your books are the characters. Who are your favourites, and who are you most like?
Liz: My favourite is Leo. He is the fantasy big brother we’ve always wanted but never had. Who am I most like? I want to say Merry: brave, resilient, underrated, sporty…
Kate: Sporty?? *Nearly dies laughing* I love Merry (obviously), and I have a soft spot for Jack, particularly as he’s such a key character in The Witch’s Kiss, but I’m also big fan of Finn: his character definitely develops through the two books that he’s in. My closest character match… Liz is sitting here suggesting the two most evil characters in the books, but I think (hope) I’m closest to Gran. A bit bossy, a bit judgy, but fundamentally a good person.
7. Since you`re now at the end of your first trilogy, what have been your best moments of author life so far?
Kate: Seeing our books in bookshops is always an amazing rush! The first time we saw one of our books in a window display was really special. I’ve enjoyed the events we’ve done too – having the opportunity to talk about your work is a joy.
Liz: Getting an agent was hugely exciting – it was the start of what’s turning out to be an incredible journey. And getting our first piece of fan mail through our website from a young reader was unbelievable. We’ve also been lucky enough to receive some fan art – it’s brilliant to see your characters through someone else’s eyes.
8. Can you give any hints about what you`ll be writing next?
Kate: We have a number of things on the go right now. Could be a middle grade in there somewhere, could be a high fantasy YA….
Liz: Definitely something involving magic. And given Kate’s tendencies, bad things happening to nice people!
1. Hogwarts house?
2. Cats or dogs?
3. Favourite film?
Liz: The Goonies – I always wanted to be part of their gang, discovering pirates and ‘rich stuff’ with them!
Kate: The Lord of the Rings (yes, the whole trilogy. Because Aragorn, elves, Boromir, Eowyn, etc etc.)
4. Disney character you`re most like?
Liz: Cinderella (before the Prince turns up, sadly. I spend way too much time picking up after two small children and two cats and desperately need a holiday).
Kate: Maleficent. (I’m thinking of the Angelina Jolie version, but Liz says I’m more like the original cartoon version. Excuse me while I put a curse on her…)
5. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Kate: Chocolate, or something which is mostly chocolate. NEVER vanilla.
Liz: Cookie dough. I love the extra lumps of sugary goodness. Ordinary ice cream is just not sweet enough.
Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the Eye of the North, a fabulous new middle grade which is released this Thursday (you can read my review here) by interviewing it’s lovely author Sinéad. Onto the questions!
1. Can you please describe the Eye of the North in 5 words?
Exciting, friendship, secrets, scary creatures!
2. What inspired the book?
I got the ‘seed’ idea for The Eye of the North when I was about 21 (a.k.a a very long time ago), and I was working in an office job I really did not enjoy. I came up with a story about a girl named Emma Marvell working in an office job she really did not enjoy – that bit didn’t take much imagining – but her job involved the recording and cataloguing of artefacts relating to mysterious, mythical creatures which were sent in from all over the world by a team of roving explorers. (My job wasn’t half so interesting.) In the proto-story, when an explorer sends in a sample with a dodgy covering letter, Emma gets curious as to what he’s hiding and goes on the hunt to find out the truth. The published version is very different, but the core elements – mythical creatures, the North, a plucky girl and a stowaway boy – were there from the beginning. I have always loved mythical creatures and I’ve been fascinated with the polar regions all my life, so this story has been a long time brewing.
3. I saw lots of similarities between Emmeline and I. Which book characters would you say you`re most like?
I think I see bits of me in Arianwyn Gribble from James Nicol’s Apprentice Witch series, mostly in her serious and slightly worried/responsible approach to things, and in Hermione Granger (I am a bit of a swot), though the Potter character I’m most like, I think, is Ron – food-focused, loyal and a bit afraid of most things. I’m clumsy like Mildred Hubble, stubborn like Lyra Silvertongue, and I’m a hobbit all the way down to my toes (though luckily, they’re not as hairy!)
4. I also adored her sidekicks Thing and Meadowmane. Do you have any favourite literary sidekicks?
Siddy from Abi Elphinstone’s Dreamsnatcher trilogy always made me grin. I love all the kids in Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer, though I don’t think any can really be classed as a sidekick! Of course, the brilliant Malkin in Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart books is a sidekick we all need. The best hero/sidekick team in literature , though, is Pidge and Brigit from The Hounds of The Morrigan. I wish I had a Brigit to this day.
5. The adventure in the book is incredible. If you could choose any adventure, real or fictional, to take part in, what would it be?
Because I trained as a medievalist in another life, I feel I must say I wish I could have been a pilgrim on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I think I would have enjoyed an ale or two with the raucous, brilliant Wife of Bath! I would have loved to take part in a polar expedition, too – perhaps Scott’s, except without the tragedy. And of course I would have loved to see the battle between Iorek Byrnison and Ragnar Sturlusson alongside Lyra and Pan.
6. The book also reads like it would make a fabulous film. If it was ever optioned, do you have a dream cast?
What a brilliant question! I think Ruth Negga would make a fab Sasha, and Oscar Isaac would be my choice for Edgar. I would love Dominic Monaghan for Mr Widget and Sophie Okonedo for Mrs Widget. As for the children – I think finding some new, undiscovered talent would be great!
7. This is your debut novel. What has been the standout moment of your journey to publication, and what are you most excited about after the book comes out?
The standout moment, for sure, was the day my agent phoned to tell me she had sold the book to my UK publisher, Stripes. We had been waiting so long for a UK/Irish deal that I had given up hope of ever getting one, and so that was a true joy. It has been a very long path, and there have been many highlights, but that’s my favourite one. As for what I’m most excited by – I can’t wait to meet readers, interact with people who have read the book, and talk about it with children. It’s such a privilege to write for young readers; they are the best readers. I’m hugely looking forward to learning from them and finding out how I can keep improving as a writer.
8. Finally, before our quickfire questions, can you divulge any secrets about what your second book might be?
The second book I have sold is the story of Tess, who has grown up with no knowledge of her parentage until the day a stranger comes to claim her from the loving home she has always known. She has to uncover who this man is, what he knows about her and her past, and how to get out of his clutches, all before he can use her unique abilities to bring destruction to her world, and many others… (Also, she has a pet tarantula called Violet, who is the real star of the show.)
1. Hogwarts house? Ravenpuff? I am mostly Ravenclaw, a bit Hufflepuff!
2. Favourite chocolate bar? Plain and simple, Cadbury Dairy Milk
3. Favourite colour? Purple.
4. Top 3 books of 2017? The Huntress: Sky; The Explorer; A Skinful Of Shadows.
5. 3 random facts about you? I can read Middle English (and Old English, with a bit of practise); I used to work as a trainee butcher and could pick up a pound of mince, almost to the ounce, simply by eye; I have a fear of balloons
Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the interview down in the comments or or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!
Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Preistly. Thank you to Faye and Bloomsbury for asking me to be part of it!
In this book, Chris Preistly tells the story of Mildew and Sponge as they set about solving some unusual mysteries at their boarding school Maudlin Towers, the most important of which is the disappearance of the school spoon.
It was absolutely madcap and worked really well as a spoof on classic boarding school stories. I liked Chris Priestly’s own illustrations throughout as they often
helped me visualise certain parts of the story, and his dry, witty narrative voice.
I also enjoyed the characters. I loved the banter between Mildew and Sponge especially, and their conversations with the other boys they live with. A lotof the teachers were really fun too. I particularly liked Mr Luckless and Mr Stupendo.
The mysteries were silly, and quite sweet, but I actually didn’t see a couple of the reveals I predicted, and I think this would be an excellent starter mystery for younger readers. I really loved the time travelling section of the book where Mildew and Sponge venture to the future, and I also liked the ending.
I did find this a bit slow paced in places and not all of the jokes appealed to my personal sense of humour, but it’s definetely one to look out for next Halloween if you enjoy time travelling adventures.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom¬laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?
Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.
Thank you for reading? What did you think of this book? Who were your favourite characters?
See you soon with a new post,
Today, I’m incredibly excited to welcome Lari Don as part of her blog tour for the phenomenal Spellchasers trilogy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her post as much as I did!
I try to make them new in two ways:
I retell them, out loud to audiences and in books. When I retell traditional tales, I quite openly tweak or change or rip them apart (because oral stories have always been changed by storytellers, that’s how they evolve.)
I also make the old stories new by taking little snippets of magic and monsters and bouncing off them to create fictional adventures of my own.
As a child, I loved dragon stories. Dragons are the perfect magical monster. The size! The fire! The teeth! The wings! And there are dragon stories from all over the world, so you can travel round the globe from dragon tale to dragon tale.
Favourite dragon story: The Laidly Wyrm (from North of England, about a girl who is cursed to turn into a dragon)
The first connected series of stories I discovered were the Greek myths, with all that family drama, and all those wonderful creatures like centaurs and minotaurs, which made me want to create my own mix and match monsters with scissors and glue…
Favourite Greek myth: Theseus and the Minotaur (how to defeat the monster in the maze)
I also grew up loving shapeshifter stories, because Scottish folklore is filled with shapeshifters, like the kelpie (an underwater monster who can become human or horse to lure children to the water) and the selkie (who can be human or seal, and is often forced to stay on land when an unscrupulous fisherman hides her sealskin)
Favourite shapeshifter story: The Tale of Tam Linn (from the Scottish Borders, about a boy stolen by the Fairy Queen)
As I read more widely, I fell in love with the Viking myths. These are the myths that speak to me most clearly, possibly because they’re set in harsh rocky winter, rather than Mediterranean sunlight. I love the stories of Fenrir the wolf, Kara the Swan Warrior, and Ragnar Shaggy-Breeks.
Favourite Viking myth: The Death of Baldur (the story I tell most often to 11 year olds…)
I’m always searching for my favourite stories of all: stories with strong female protagonists. My quest for girls who defeat their own monsters has so far led me to Inanna the Sumerian goddess of love and war, to Nana Miriam the Nigerian girl who defeated a fire-breathing hippo, to Chi the Chinese girl who defeated a seven-headed dragon, and to many more…
Favourite heroine story: Tale of Tam Linn again! (Because the Scottish boy who was stolen by the fairy queen, was saved by a girl called Janet)
All these traditional tales inspire my adventure novels. For example, there are dragons, centaurs and minotaurs in the Fabled Beast Chronicles.
And my new Spellchasers trilogy is filled with shapeshifters, with characters who relish their power to change into horses and crows, and characters who are trapped as toads and hares. The biggest villain in the trilogy is inspired by a mix of Sumerian and Egyptian mythology, and the curse-lifting workshop at the heart of the book has a sphinx as a pupil.
And all my adventure books contain strong girls (as well as strong boys, and intermittently useful magical animals…)
I love the old stories. I love writing new stories inspired by the magic of the old tales. And when the new stories are written, I settle back down and lose myself in the old stories again. I wonder what story I will rub with my ragged sleeve next…
About the Author
Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales. She can be found on Twitter @LariDonWriter or at http://www.laridon.co.uk
The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now.
Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite myths? Do you love retellings of them? What are your favourites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!