Spotlight – To Provence, With Love by T A Williams


I am super happy to have been asked to feature 4 brilliant excerpts from To Provence, With Love from the wonderful T A Williams as part of this fab blog tour.

To Provence, With Love was released on the 12th July 2017 on e book published by HQ Digital and is set to be a brilliant adult fiction romance novel with a beautiful setting.

So today I am shining the light on this gorgeous book…..



Escape to the south of France with this perfect feel-good summer romance!

 Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?


To Provence, with Love – Excerpts

Excerpt One

  The dog stopped dead, only a few feet from Faye and waited for his master. She was impressed and relieved. She loved dogs, but she was on her way to an interview after all, and the last thing she needed was to be leapt upon by a dog, however friendly his intentions might be. She took a step back and studied the man surreptitiously as he approached.

   He was wearing a battered T-shirt that had once advertised a Rolling Stones European tour. From its faded appearance, the tour in question had probably taken place in the years before the surviving members of the group had reached pensionable age – and that was a good while ago. On his feet were equally scruffy trainers and his strong, brown legs ran a long way up before disappearing into his sand-coloured shorts. He had hold of the dog by the collar and was bending over. Sensing her eyes on him, he looked up towards her and, to Faye’s considerable surprise, she realised that he was very, very good-looking. Somehow, out here in the wilds of deepest rural Provence, she hadn’t expected to meet a man whose face could have come off the front cover of a fashion magazine. She swallowed hard before answering.

   ‘Afraid so. Totally lost. I’m looking for St-Jean-sur-Sarde; the chateau to be precise. I was told to follow the signs for St-Jean and then turn right after the restaurant in the centre of the village. Only I can’t seem to find any road signs at all and I’m just going round in circles.’

   The man nodded. Satisfied that the dog wasn’t going to jump all over Faye, he released his grip on the collar and reached up to pull off his sunglasses. As he did so, Faye noted the network of lines around his eyes that would no doubt have been airbrushed away by a photographer. As it was, they only served to add character to an already remarkable face. His eyes met hers for a second before he dropped them again and, in spite of herself, Faye was fascinated. They were the most amazing and unusual colour; a very light yellowy brown. They gave her the surreal sensation of looking into the eyes of a lion or a tiger – and a very fine-looking male of the species, although by the look of him, a rather unhappy male of the species. She was wondering why the expression on his face was so glum when he shot a glance at her, his expression not exactly hostile, but definitely lacking in warmth.

Excerpt Two

   As she opened the car door, she heard a cacophony of barking and came close to closing the door again and locking it. It sounded as if the Hound of the Baskervilles himself was in there, straining to get out. Cautiously, she made her way up the steps until she was level with the half-glazed front door that was visibly shaking. By this time, Faye was also close to shaking. The door, set into a carved stone surround, was made of sculpted oak and, thankfully, it looked solid, even though the upper half was made up of little square red, white and blue stained glass panels. Staring at her through the base of one of these, was the source of the noise. A shiny black nose and an intimidating set of gleaming white teeth were very much in evidence, as were a pair of bright eyes that studied her approach. Then, as she and the dog made eye contact, the barking suddenly stopped, leaving Faye’s ears ringing. The dog dropped back to the floor, and in place of the barking, she heard low whines emanating from inside.

   At that moment, the door was opened by a slim, grey-haired man in jeans and a crisp white T-shirt, his other hand firmly gripping the dog’s collar.

   ‘Good morning. You must be Faye. We’ve been looking forward to meeting you.’

   He spoke in English, with a soft American accent, and he might have been seventy or so. He shot a glance down at the dog, who was wagging his tail so hard, the whole back half of his body was wiggling. ‘You must tell me your secret. I’ve never seen Marlon so pleased to see somebody before. I’ll let him go if you’re all right with dogs. He’ll probably try to jump up at you, but just push him down.’

   Faye looked at the dog whose intentions were now unmistakably friendly and nodded her head. ‘Hello, yes, I’m Faye Carter. Do let him go. I’ll be fine.’

   A split second later she found herself pinned back against the door by a pair of hefty, mercifully clean, paws; a big hairy Labrador head stretching upwards, a pink tongue trying unsuccessfully to reach her face. Marlon was definitely very, very pleased to see her. She recovered her balance, persuaded the dog to return to all fours and bent down to stroke him. As if by magic, feeling her touch, he slid down onto the floor and rolled over, all four legs in the air, emitting an assortment of happy canine grunts, his tail still wagging furiously, doing a very efficient job of sweeping the polished oak floor.

   ‘That’s quite amazing.’ The grey-haired man was still looking very surprised. ‘We normally have to shut him in the kitchen when somebody comes to the door.’ He stepped to one side and waved her in formally. ‘Anyway, welcome to St-Jean, Faye. My name’s Eddie Marshal. I’m Miss Beech’s PA.’

Excerpt Three

   Before they reached the Coq d’Or, Marlon led her off to the left along a narrow path and Faye was happy to unclip the lead from his collar and let him make the decisions as to where they should go. He was very well behaved and didn’t attempt to run too far ahead as they followed the path alongside a dry gulley running down towards the river in the valley below. From the collection of bone-dry branches and weeds caught in the bushes lining the gully, it was clear that this would turn into a raging torrent after heavy rainfall, but for the moment, there was no sign of water at all. Everything around them was terribly dry, the grass burnt brown by the sun. She picked up a stick and threw it for the dog. He ran for it, picked it up, but then steadfastly refused to bring it to her. Clearly somewhere along the line, his brain hadn’t quite got the hang of the retriever part of his ancestry.

   As they walked along, a succession of startled lizards ran frantically for cover and Faye found herself hoping there were no snakes about, and this reminded her of her father. She had texted him as soon as she had reached the chateau to let him know she was safe and well, and she resolved to call him later to tell him all about her first day. All around there was virtual silence, and for somebody used to the never-ending background hubbub of London, it was almost disconcerting. After a short distance, threading their way between dry stone walls, covered with wild vines, and among ramshackle old buildings, Marlon, still carrying his stick, turned left once more and led her over a bridge composed of a single irregular slab of limestone, well over six feet long. Faye wondered how many centuries it had been lying there and how on earth the people who had laid it had been able to do so in an era surely long before motorised cranes and mechanical diggers.

   On the other side of the bridge, she saw her first human being.

   ‘Hello, Marlon. Who’s this you’re taking for a walk, then?’ The voice came from the owner of a very large shaggy mongrel that looked like a cross between a sheep and a grizzly bear. From the wagging of tails that was going on, clearly Marlon and he were already on good terms, which was just as well because Faye had no illusions as to her chances if it came to having to step in to stop a dogfight with this monster. The dog’s owner, on the other hand, looked big and strong enough to separate a pair of fighting wolves, if he had to. He looked down at her, fortunately with a smile. ‘You’ll be the young lady who’s going to be staying at the chateau, I daresay?’

   Faye nodded and took a good look at the owner of the Beast of St-Jean. They say that dogs and owners often come to look alike and this pairing certainly added weight to that hypothesis. The man, maybe in his late thirties or early forties, was the size and shape of a wardrobe, with a hairstyle, if, indeed it could be called a style, not dissimilar to that of his dog. Fortunately, he was still smiling benignly at Faye and she summoned a nervous smile in return.

   ‘Yes, that’s right. I’ve just arrived. My name’s Faye. How did you know I was coming?’ She wondered for a moment whether this man mountain might in some way be related to Miss Beech, and it turned out she wasn’t far off the mark.

   ‘Name’s Albert. I’m the man who’s just spent a week redecorating the flat above the stables for you. My mum’s Miss Beech’s housekeeper and I do the garden and stuff.’ He extended a huge paw towards her in greeting. Gritting her teeth, Faye reached out and let him envelope her hand and shake it, mercifully remarkably delicately.

Excerpt Four

   Faye went over and clinked her glass against Miss Beech’s, then Eddie’s, and took a mouthful. She watched as Miss Beech sipped her drink pensively before looking up. ‘Here’s something you can put in the book, Faye. They say alcohol slows the activity of the brain, but every time I drink champagne, my mind’s flooded with memories of so, so many good times.’ She stared down into the wineglass. ‘To be quite honest, I’ve never really liked the stuff that much. Those bubbles always seem to go up my nose, but it’s what it represents, I suppose.’

   ‘Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to drink enough champagne in my life to develop a special taste for it, but this is gorgeous. By the way, talking of wine, thank you so much for all the food and drink you’ve put in the flat. The fridge is absolutely packed.’ As Miss Beech made a dismissive gesture with her hand, Faye took another mouthful of champagne. It really was excellent. She pulled up an ornate wooden stool and sat down to one side of Miss Beech, directly in front of the fireplace. ‘So, go on then, what’s running through your mind at the moment? What memories has this sip of champagne awakened?’

   There was a moment’s silence while Miss Beech reflected on the question and then, to Faye’s surprise, she started giggling like a schoolgirl once more. ‘To be totally honest, Faye, it reminds me of the night I tipped a bucket full of ice into my leading man’s lap in an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills.’

   Faye gasped, feeling a fit of the giggles rising up inside her as well. ‘You did what?’ She watched as Miss Beech dissolved into laughter, her whole face flushed with pleasure as the memory returned. ‘It was at the end of a day’s filming of Faded Heart.’ Faye knew this to be one of Miss Beech’s best-known films. ‘All that day we’d been riding around on horses. As I recall, I was trying to show him how the stunt boss had been teaching me to jump onto a moving horse.’ She looked up. ‘We did a lot of our own stunts in those days, not like today – and as I leapt to my feet and stretched out one leg to demonstrate, my foot hit the bucket and … splash!’

   Faye was laughing by now. ‘Who was the leading man?’

   ‘Charlton Heston.’

   ‘Wow, and what was his reaction? Was he angry?’

   Miss Beech shook her head. ‘Not at all. He laughed his head off. Said it cooled him down. He was a good, kind man, was Chuck. Not like some others I could mention.’

You can buy a copy of this fab book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads list here


About T A Williams

I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to T A Williams for letting me share some fab excerpts of the book.  Also a huge thank you to Faye for asking me to be part of the blog tour.

Have you read To Provence, With Love?  Are you intrigued?  Do you love a good romance novel?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small by Lisa Hartley


Today I have a fab guest post to celebrate the release of Ask No Questions by Lisa Hartley.

Ask No Questions was release on the 10th July 2017 published in ebook format and is set to be a page turning adult fiction thriller that will set your pulse racing!

So today I thought we should find out a little about the main Detective in the novel, Detective Caelan Small…..


Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one

After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.

Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect – even close colleagues.

Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions.

This isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.

The nerve-shredding new crime thriller from bestseller Lisa Hartley starts a must-read new series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza, it will keep you guessing until the very end.


Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small

Thank you for the opportunity to write a guest post about Detective Caelan Small, the main character in my latest book, ‘Ask No Questions’. I’m so excited about bloggers and readers meeting Caelan, and stepping into her world. She’s a character I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, and as this is the first book in a new series, I feel there’s much more to come from her.

Here are five things to know about Caelan:

1) Caelan was a police officer with the Metropolitan Police, specialising in undercover work. At the beginning of the book, she has resigned from her job. Her decision was made when operation she was involved went disastrously wrong. During the fallout which followed, Caelan decided she could no longer work for the Met. She went on holiday to Egypt to recover, and to consider her options. Before long, she is offered an opportunity, and has decisions to make.

2) She is loyal to her colleagues, and willing to stick her neck out for the people she trusts. In her job, she and the people she worked with had to rely on each other, especially during undercover operations, when a mistake could have cost them their lives. She knows who she can trust, or believes she does. As the book progresses, and Caelan is drawn deeper into an investigation, she begins to question everything she thought she knew.

3) Caelan has lived in London for nine years, though she doesn’t feel as though she has explored the city as much as she would have liked to. She’s spent a lot of time getting to know the people and places of the darker side of the city, and not so much seeing the sights. She recently moved into an apartment in Rotherhithe, on the banks of the Thames, and previously lived in Camden.

4) She is confident in her own abilities, and knows her own worth. The head of her undercover unit describes her as “the best we have”, and most of her fellow officers agree. Some, however, believe Caelan is a liability, and aren’t afraid to voice that opinion.

5) Her name is pronounced “Kaylen”. Not Carlin, Callen or Colin. Some sources say “Caelan” is an Irish or Gaelic name meaning ‘powerful warrior’ or ‘child’. I’ve read it was originally thought of as a boy’s name, but more recently has been used for girls as well.

You can buy a copy of Ask No Questions here

Or why not add this to your Goodreads list here


About Lisa Hartley


Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel.

You can find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisahartley.co.uk

Or why not follow Lisa on twitter – @rainedonparade


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Lisa for a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour.

Have you read Ask No Questions?  What did you think?  Do you love a good thriller?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band” by Chris Russell


I am so so excited to have the wonderful and awesome Chris Russell on the blog today to celebrate the release of his second book in his fab Songs About A Girl Trilogy, Songs About Us.

Songs About Us was released on the 13th July 2017 published by Hodder Children’s Books and is set to be a phenomenal read that will set your heart racing!

A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

I’ve met Chris a few times now and I know he is in a brilliant band called The Lightyears so when Chris got in touch about a post I jumped straight in and asked him for his top tips on “Being With The Band”…..


A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

Two months on from the explosive finale to book one, Charlie’s life is almost back to normal again: rebuilding her relationship with her father, hanging out with best mate Melissa, and worrying about GCSEs. All the while, Gabe’s revelations about her mother are never far from her mind. And neither is Gabe.

It’s not long before Charlie is pulled back into the world of Fire&Lights – but the band seem different this time. But then again, so is she…

Meanwhile, tensions between Gabe and Olly continue to run high, leading to more turmoil between the band members and press than ever before. But when Gabriel and Charlie stumble upon yet another startling truth that links them together – everything they have stands to implode in front of them.


Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy both Songs About A Girl and Songs About Us here or from your local bookshop!


About Chris Russell

When I was thirteen, my best friend and I went to a Bon Jovi concert at Wembley Stadium. We thought it looked like fun, so we started our own band – a band that, ten years later, would become The Lightyears. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to tour all over the world, from Cape Town to South Korea, playing at Glastonbury Festival and O2 Arena and supporting members of legendary rock bands such as Queen, Journey and The Who. And though we never made it anywhere near as big as Bon Jovi, we did get to play Wembley Stadium, four times, to crowds of over 45,000 people.

Music aside, writing was my first love. In 2014, I published a novel called MOCKSTARS, which was inspired by my tour diaries for The Lightyears. Shortly afterwards, following a three-month stint ghostwriting for a One Direction fan club, I came up with the idea of a YA novel that combined an intense teenage romance with the electrifying universe of a chart-topping boyband. That idea became the trilogy SONGS ABOUT A GIRL, which was signed up by Hodder Children’s in 2015, and has sold in multiple territories worldwide.

You can find out more about Chris in his website –www.chrisrussellwrites.com

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @chrisrusselluk


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Chris for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour and for going along with my insane idea for a video!  Also a huge thank you to Hachette for sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read Songs About A Girl and/or Songs About Us?  What did you think?  Do you love Boy Band Lit??  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Gary D. Schmidt


Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt was one of my favourite books that I read last year.  In fact it featured on my Best Books Read in 2016 list here

Published by Andersen Press Orbiting Jupiter completely took me by surprise and simply mived me to tears.

It may be a short contemporary YA read, but it certainly hit me with all the feels all at once which have stayed with me for quite some time.  Orbiting Jupiter is a story about love, family and friendship and a message of never giving up on what you believe in no matter what.  I smiled, I shed tears and I felt so much love for these characters.  In fact thinking about it now is making me emotional all over again.  The ending in the book broke me completely.  Orbiting Jupiter is just as simplistic and beautiful as it is sad and heart-breaking.  Friendship, family, unconditional love and hope.  It will make you smile, it will make you angry, it will make you cry, but most of all it will leave you with the feeling that no matter what some things are worth fighting for.

You can find my full review here

I was over the moon to find out that Orbiting Jupiter has been picked for the Zoella and Friends 2017 book club (#ZoellaBookClub) by the lovely Jennifer Niven!

You can find out why Jennifer picked Orbiting Jupiter for the Book Club here

As you can tell Jennifer and I are huge fans of this book!

I am so honoured today to have the brilliant Gary D. Schmidt on Tales with a brilliant Q&A about Orbiting Jupiter and more….


A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.

You can buy the #ZoellaBookClub edition of this book here or from your local WH Smiths

You can find my full review of Orbiting Jupiter here


Hi Gary!  Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today to chat about Orbiting Jupiter!

How would you describe Orbiting Jupiter to someone who hasn’t read it?

 Orbiting Jupiter is the story of two boys, close to each other in terms of age, but infinitely far apart in terms of experience.  Jack’s journey is to understand a kid who has been in prison, who has a daughter, and who has lost the only one he ever loved; Joseph’s journey is to allow Jack to take that journey.

The character of Joseph is so life-like and multi-layered, how did you develop him, was he based on someone you had met?

Though this is not their story, both Joseph and Jack are based on real boys I’ve met in juvenile detention homes.  I wanted Joseph to be complex, though he hardly ever speaks in this novel.  He’s the kid we judge too quickly, the kid we blame, the kid we don’t think is ever going to amount to anything but trouble, and who we dismiss without even giving him a chance to be his best and largest self.  Those are the very kids to whom we need to give more attention–more grace.

The setting feels so much part of the novel, winter on the farm with the dairy cows, what was it that felt like the home for your book?

The setting is based on a real farm in East Sumner, Maine, where I have brought my own students and where the owners take in foster children.  It’s an organic dairy farm, and sits in a bowl within the northern Appalachians; it embodies so much of what I love in New England:  resourcefulness, independence, an embrace of winter’s beauties and challenges.  It does sort of feel like home a bit.

There is a real sense of brotherhood and family in the book – was that based on anything you’d experienced or seen yourself?

I’m glad that sense of brotherhood and family comes through in the book.  The two models for Jack and Joseph had been in the facility in which I met them for a year, and neither had seen any family member.  Years ago, I also knew a couple that took in foster kids–which I thought was wonderfully noble–until I learned that they mostly did this for the income the state provided. That was thirty-five years ago, but I have never forgotten my distaste for someone who would see these kids as a source of cash–and back then, I imagined the opposite:  a noble and altruistic family who would use any income toward a college fund–which of course wouldn’t pay for all of college, but would send a profound message of hope and confidence toward these kids.  

Orbiting Jupiter packs such an emotional punch, especially the ending – without spoilers, was that always intentional? 

Well, avoiding spoilers:  The ending was intentional.  I don’t particularly like Hallmark card endings, where everything comes out fine, as neatly tied up as a twenty-one minute sit-com.  Those books have their place, of course, but they’re not the books I want to write.  It seems to me that we need to offer honesty to young readers, and it is honest to say that sometimes, things don’t always work out all right.  Sometimes it’s okay to ask, “Where the hell are the angels?”  If we don’t say that, then what happens to a young reader when things really don’t turn out well in life?  If we send the message that that’s unusual, we are messaging a lie.

How do you write – do you plan the whole thing meticulously, or is it more free-flowing?

I wish I could say that I plan things out meticulously before I write.  Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be that writer.  You cannot believe how many times I’ve been in a school auditorium, and a student asks, “Do you use an outline?” and every teacher in the auditorium is looking at me with eyes that are saying, “Tell them you do!  Tell them you do!”  But in truth, I don’t.  Part of writing is discovery, and that means not pre-planning everything to the point that there is nothing left to discover.  When I finish a page, I really do not know what is going to happen next, and that feels right to me:  it puts me in the same place as the reader, who also doesn’t know what happens on the next page.  It helps to be in that same posture.

What books would you recommend to someone who enjoyed this book?

If you enjoyed Orbiting Jupiter, you might also like Gary Paulsen’s The Tent, about a father and son who go on the revival circuit–no kidding. 

Others might be Anne Fine’s Flour Babies, Katherine Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins or her Jacob Have I Loved. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some ways, Jack is modelled a bit upon Simon in The Nargun and the Stars–one of my very favourite books in the world.  

If you’re in high school, I’d also recommend Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, though this is a harrowing read, not at all for the faint of heart.

Which authors or writers inspire you?

What author’s inspire me?  I always begin with Henry David Thoreau, though he is much out of favor these days–but that voice!  By contrast, Giovanni Guareschi’s wit and spare storytelling amazes me; I just the other day bought a first edition of his The Little World of Don Camillo, since the copy I have on my desk is falling apart.  For language skills, Robert Frost, followed closely by the poet Jane Kenyon, though they are very, very different.  For character, Avi; for plot, Dickens every time; for setting, Jill Paton Walsh; for tonality, Susan Cooper–no one can touch her; for sheer brilliance, M. T. Anderson.

For young people going through something similar to Joseph, or Jack, what advise would you give them?

For those going through what Joseph is going through, advice seems very cheap and easy.  It’s hard to believe anyone understands who is not right there.  So here’s the advice, set in a Hasidic story:  There is a rabbi who lives, who knows where.  He has one job to do each day:  He must rise, and then pray this prayer:  “Lord, let the world go on for one more day.”  He must do this every day.  If, for whatever reason, the rabbi fails to perform this prayer, then the world will cease to exist–it’s that important.  So, here’s the advice:  Today, let the world go on for one more day.  Tomorrow, let the world go on for one more day.  And the next day, and the next, and the next–let the world go on for one more day.

What’s next for you, are you writing more?

I’ve been doing some short stories, since it’s a form I would like to learn to do better.  But the next novel will be done soon.  It’s about a butler who comes to a suburban American family to teach them about cricket–and about much more.

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Gary.  It’s honour to have you on Tales.

You can buy the #ZoellaBookClub edition of this book here or from your local WH Smiths

You can find my full review of Orbiting Jupiter here


About Gary D. Schmidt

Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by.

You can find out more about Gary D. Schmidt on his website here


A huge thank you to Gary for a fab Q&A and to the wonderful Harriet at Andersen Press for asking me to feature this brilliant Q&A.

Have you read  Orbiting Jupiter?  What did you think?  Has this Q&A convinced you to pick up a copy and read?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – End Times by Joss Stirling


I was super excited to have received a set of the brilliant Young Detective Agency series by Joss Stirling to celebrate the recent release of the final book in the series Scorched.

Scorched was published on the 6th April 2017 by the lovely people at OUP and I literally cannot wait to jump into this series.

So I asked Joss Stirling if she would like to feature on Tales to discuss endings and how it felt to write and ending.  Do things ever really end…..


Love is a fire. But who will get burned?

Ember Lord is facing charges for the murder of her father. She was found at the scene of the crime, holding the murder weapon, and refuses to explain herself.

Joe Masters is tasked with getting under Ember’s skin, and breaking through her stony facade; to gain her trust and find out what her plans are now her father’s legally-questionable business is under her control.

But as the two get closer, Joe begins to break down the wall that Ember has built around herself, and gets a glimpse of the truth behind. Is he really falling for a cold-hearted killer? Or is there more to the murder than meets the eye?

The incredible final instalment of Joss Stirling’s Young Detective Agency series, a companion novel to Stung, Shaken, and the award-winning Struck. Romantic thrillers that will make your heart skip a beat.

Check out the other books in this fab series….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


End Times

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert

That’s how most writers feel when they get to the end of a series. I’ve just waved off Scorched to your bookshelves, the last in the Struck series. This was always planned as four books (Struck, Stung, Shaken and Scorched) so I knew I was on the last lap. My young detectives had gone undercover in a boarding school, been on a chase from Jakarta to London, rocked New York and now…well they had to break out of prison, naturally!

Yet there was also the matter of the bigger patterns in the story stretching across all the books. I had settled some things, found partners for my young detectives, but I also needed to discover what would be a suitable stopping point. I knew some things in advance:

–    I wasn’t going to do a Hamlet (i.e. all the main characters die)

–    It was going to be upbeat, a little euphoric. On this I usually side with Bilbo, here talking to Frodo as his nephew sets out on his quest:

“Have you thought of an ending?”

“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”

“Oh, that won’t do! Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?”

There is enough darkness in the world without adding to it in a series that, though it covers serious themes, is mainly there for your reading pleasure.

–    There ought to be a sense of what life might be like in the future for the characters, allowing of course for the ups and downs we all experience. Perhaps a little bitterness mixed in with the sweet so that it feels more like the mixed-bag-that-is-life?

–    Everyone should be there. In a series, a reader invests time in all the characters so it’s only fair the reader gets to see them all again, something like the curtain call at the end of a show.

So, without giving any more away, that was what I was trying to do for the boys from the YDA, Joe, Damien, Nathan and Kieran.

Yet, as Herbert says, there is no real ending. I know I will get messages from readers wanting more – that is like asking for the film to start up again after the credits role. I’m sure that is why J K Rowling added that scene at the railway station at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She was trying to get ahead of the fans. But, of course, that turns out not to be the end either. She went back to it in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It is so difficult to leave your story alone.

Do you have a favourite ending? Thinking about this blog post, I was wondering if there had ever been a poll on this. I found a list on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/574.Best_Ending) which includes a some of my favourites. The Great Gatsby gets my vote for sheer poetry. 1984 for bleakness. A Tale of Two Cities must be one of the most heroic and poignant. The Lord of the Rings also wins for its message that sometimes the heroes don’t get the reward, but it is left to those that they save. Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the happiest.

I can’t possibly try to match the brilliance of these examples but I hope you enjoy what I did in Scorched with my own sense of things coming to an end. However, I should warn you, I’m going to give my last word to the novelist, Graham Greene, who wrote in a book aptly named The End of the Affair:

‘Chemists tell you matter is never completely destroyed, and mathematicians tell you that if you halve each pace in crossing a room, you will never reach the opposite wall, so what an optimist I would be if I thought that this story ended here.’

You can buy a copy of Scorched or any of the fab Young Detective Agency series here or from your local bookshop!


About Joss Stirling

Joss Stirling is the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2015 for STRUCK (first published as Storm and Stone) – the first time the award has been given to a teen book. You can find a book trailer on this page, where young detectives take a turn to star. The sequels are called STUNG and SHAKEN.

She is also the author of the internationally successful FINDING SKY, STEALING PHOENIX and SEEKING CRYSTAL, the first three books about the Benedict brothers, a family with extraordinary gifts. The stories combine her love for romance, mystery and travel – oh, yes and some seriously attractive heroes.

Readers demanded to know what happens to the remaining brothers so the next in the savant series, MISTY FALLS. Find out which Benedict brother meets his match! The story continues in ANGEL DARES – meet Joss’ most outrageous heroine yet! The series concludes with SUMMER SHADOWS.

Joss lives in Oxford, UK, is married with three children.

You can find out more and speak to Joss at www.jossstirling.co.uk.

Or why not follow Joss on twitter using – @jossstirling

I previously spotlight Joss Stirling’s Benedict Brothers series here


A huge huge thank you to Joss for such a fab post and to OUP for sending me the books and asking me to host!

Have you read Scorched or any of the Young Detective Agency series ?  What did you think?  What are you favourite types of endings?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – The Never-Ending Birthday by Katie Dale


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for the super fun new children’s book by Katie Dale, The Never-Ending Birthday!

The Never-Ending Birthday was released on the 29th June 2016 published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

A huge thank you to Katie for getting in touch and for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I wanted to shine the spotlight on this fab book, it’s author and share details of a giveaway!


Twins Max and Anni have had the worst birthday ever. Max has missed a vital goal in the football Cup Final and Anni has fallen out with her best friend. Feeling thoroughly miserable, Max and Anni sneak downstairs at midnight and light the candles on their untouched birthday cake and, as they blow them out, they make a wish . . . to redo the day!

When they wake up, their wish has come true! And this time Max and Anni aren’t going to mess things up. But little do they realize that they are going to have to relive their birthday again . . . and again . . . and again.

You can buy a copy of The Never-Ending Birthday here or from your local bookshop!


About Katie Dale

I love nothing more than creating characters – both on page and on-stage! I studied English Literature at Sheffield University, spent a year at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by a crazy year at Mountview drama school, a national Shakespeare tour, and back-packing through South-East Asia. I love all genres, and am busily working on a variety of projects from novels to picture-books – whilst playing the odd princess/assassin/zombie in-between!

Katie Dale had her first poem, ‘The Fate of The School Hamster’, published in the Cadbury’s Book of Children’s Poetry aged just eight and hasn’t stopped writing since! Inspired by her mother, Elizabeth Dale, who is also an author, Katie loves creating characters, both on the page and onstage. After training as an actress and touring the country as Shakespeare’s Juliet, she was a winner of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition, which launched her writing career. She has published books for toddlers up to teens, and her novels have won several awards and are published all over the world. The Never-Ending Birthday is her second novel for Macmillan Children’s Books.

Find out more about me at katiedaleuk.blogspot.com

Or why not follow Katie on twitter using @katiedaleuk

You can catch a previous Q&A with Katie on Tales here


Giveaway

For a chance to win your very own sparkly copy of THE NEVER-ENDING BIRTHDAY simply answer the following question:

If you could re-do any day, which day would it be, and why?

Email your answers to katiedaleauthor@hotmail.com

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Katie for asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read TheNever-Ending Birthday?  What did you think?  What day would you love to live again and again?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Research This Time Was Such A Blast by Tamsin Cooke


Today I am super excited to be part of an awesome blog tour and have the wonderful Tamsin Cooke on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her new book Stunt Double!

Stunt Double was released on the 6th July 2017 published by OUP and is an action packed MG read that will leave you wanting more!

Today Tamsin tells us about the research behind the book and some of the exciting things she got up to …..


An action-packed adventure story with an exciting film location setting.


Finn is a free-running black belt, with a talent for acting-but when his big break arrives, it’s not the role he was expecting at all.

Recruited as a stunt double, he’s pushed to his limits-scaling walls at high speed, jumping from dizzying heights, and diving into rocky waters-all without any safety gear. He’s determined to push himself, but as the stunts get more dangerous, the lines between movie and reality are really starting to blur, and it becomes clear that he’ll be luckily to escape this shoot with his life.

A brand new adventure for readers aged 9+, from the author of The Scarlet Files.


Research This Time Was Such A Blast – Delving Into The World Of Stunts

I was incredibly excited the moment I got the initial flash of inspiration for Stunt Double. However it occurred to me that I knew very little about the world of stunts. My knowledge consisted of what I’d read in the papers (where stunts have ended badly) or from a TV programme. For those of you not old enough to remember, ‘The Fall Guy’ was a 1980’s TV show based in America about a stuntman moonlighting as a bounty hunter. Using his knowledge of stunts and film effects, he would track down and catch criminals.

Luckily for me, I adore research. And whenever I get a new idea for a story, I can’t wait to delve into the subject matter, learning everything I can. And this time, it was going to be even more fun because I was entering the world of stunts.

At first, I visited libraries and scoured the Internet. I discovered the different disciplines of stunt performers:

Fighting – Categories: Martial Arts, Boxing

Falling – Categories: Trampolining, High Diving

Riding and Driving – Categories: Horses, Cars, Motorcycles

Agility and Strength – Categories: Gymnastics, Rock Climbing

Water – Categories: Swimming, Sub Aqua

You are required to be qualified to competitive level in six or more of the above categories, one of which must be in Fighting. Plus you must have qualifications in at least four of the groups. That is an awful lot of work and a huge required skill set!

I was desperate to meet a real life stunt performer and was thrilled when Annabel Canaven, a professional stuntwoman generously gave up her time to meet me over coffee and cake. And wow – I think she might be one of the coolest people I have ever met.

Annabel explained how stunts are set up – how it’s all about the planning and the safety. A stunt coordinator has a team of trained professionals and together they create the stunt, which the Stunt Coordinator oversees. It’s a fun, supportive environment, where you have to trust each other.

The film crew record the stunt a minimum of three times using many cameras from different angles. Then the director selects the best shot for editing. On occasion, when it’s a really expensive stunt, you might only get one take. Then the pressure is really on!

Annabel showed me pictures of her rolling down the stairs, dressed up as a stunt double alongside the actor, as well as being set on fire. She also showed me video footage of her free falling sixty feet without any wires or cranes. She lands on a bunch of cardboard boxes. Yes – I did say cardboard boxes. They decelerate your fall.

In fact I have learnt that cardboard boxes are a staple of the stunt world. I was incredibly lucky to visit The British Action Academy, the UK’s only stunt school. It’s run by Andreas Petrides who has been a stunt man for twenty seven years and worked on over 500 productions worldwide. If you think of a film or TV programme- he’s probably been in it or orchestrated the stunt. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Merlin… even Poldark!

He is up there with the coolest people too! Andreas allowed me to wander around while the training took place. I saw what stunt performers sometimes have to wear – the body armour of padding or the jerk vests (vests that connect you to wires allowing you to be jerked through the air). I saw cranes, ropes, wires, mats and of course lots of cardboard!!!

 

During my visit, the trainees were learning how to crash a bike into a car. And the car was made of? You guessed it – cardboard boxes! The trainee had to cycle down a slope, then jump onto the saddle of their bike. (I have to admit – I thought that was a daring enough stunt in itself). Then they hurtled towards the cardboard car (with a mat on top) and just before they made impact, they somersaulted over the top onto a crash mat behind. It looked fantastic. I decided not to have a go, and just took pictures instead!!!

I watched the trainees slide down rope from the vaulted ceiling and be jerked in the air by a wire. They re-enacted a brawl and took turns being flung down a slope rolling over and over.

It made me realise what kind of character you have to be in order to become a stunt performer. You have to be brave, physically capable and also patient. Andreas was telling me how there is a lot of waiting around on set as you have to make sure the stunt is safe. But one of the most important characteristics that hadn’t occurred to me until I met these fabulous people, is that you cannot be reckless. One of the instructors said, ‘They’re stuntmen, not daredevils.’  There’s an old adage then anyone can be a stunt performer once… they just might not live to tell the tale…

You can buy a copy of Stunt Double here or from your local bookshop!


About Tamsin Cooke

Born in Lancashire to a Polish mum and English dad, Tamsin spent lots of the first twelve years of her life in different countries. She learnt to walk in South Africa, roller-skate in Florida and synchronise swim in Hawaii. This has given her a great love of travel which she does whenever possible. She also adores having adventures and seeing wild animals. Since writing Cat Burglar, Tamsin has become fascinated with spirit animals. She’d like to think her spirit animal is a jaguar or a wolf. But her friends tell her it’s a Labradoodle.

If you would like to learn more about Tamsin, please go to her website: tamsincooke.co.uk

Or why not follow Tamsin on Twitter – @TamsinCooke1


Blog Tour

You can follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Tamsin for such a fab guest post and to OUP for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Stunt Double?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog! by Nikki Sheehan


Today I am over the moon to be hosting a post from the lovely Nikki Sheehan to celebrate the release of Goodnight, Boy!

Goodnight,Boy is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the fab Rock The Boat.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it so much!  Its gorgeous inside and out!

So today Nikki tells us about how to get ahead as an author……


A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family, the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.


Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog!

Dogs make the very best muses. I know because I wrote a book about a boy and a dog, with two of my own fur babies constantly by my side. Goodnight, Boy is written to and about a dog, and it explores how, even in the very worst circumstances, a dog will keep you going. Any authors reading this will know that I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that the badlands of 20,000 words into a first draft is a pretty bad place to find yourself. As is sitting down to the smell of freshly-sent editorial notes.

So here is a rundown of why, if you want to get ahead in publishing, you should most definitely get a dog.

Basics

The only indispensable rule I know for writing is that you must have your bum on a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard to produce anything. So, if, as a dog owner, you’re forced to spend more time at home, this is a good start. If you also have a dog keeping your toes warm (as Edith Wharton put it, ‘a heartbeat at my feet’), it really does discourage you from wandering off and doing housework.

Distractions

Talking of housework, once you’re a dog owner, I can guarantee you’ll spend less time on housework, redecorating and the general maintenance of what is normally seen as an acceptable standard of hygiene because keeping up with the mess dogs create is pretty much futile. One of my dogs sheds like a dandelion clock mid blow, 24 hours a day. This may sound like a negative, but actually time spent not hoovering can be diverted into words, paragraphs, chapters, and head stroking.

Hobbies

Forget hobbies. Writing takes time; for thinking, drafting, editing, and Twitter stalking writers more successful than yourself. So the last thing you need is an interesting pastime, such as badminton or medieval battle enactment. It won’t matter though, because, as a writer you get to experience any number of strange locations and events in your head. And, if you’re ever asked at a publishing party what else you do, just say you have a dog because a dog is a hobby, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.

Health and fitness

There’s a syndrome, coined by the incomparable author Pip Jones, known as SAAD: Spreading Author Arse Disorder. Sedentary hours make SAAD pretty much inevitable, so you’re going to have to get some exercise in somehow. Dogs like walks even though they don’t have Fitbit buddies to impress. The longer and more frequent the better, and in absolutely any weather (unless they’re like one of mine, who is half cat, and won’t go out if showers are forecast). On walkies your dog will meet up with their mates and you’ll make friends with their owners too (think, park scene in 101 Dalmations, but, in my experience, less romantic). If you’re lucky, these humans will be the sort who don’t mind you bouncing book ideas off them or moaning about writing. Even if they do, they’re a lot more polite about it than your family are. And when you’re not exploiting the personal generosity of strangers, you get to spend time walking alone listening to music and audio books (consuming other people’s books is part of the job) or just walking in silence, which sometimes allows you hear those really shy, difficult voices that lurk at the back of your brain.

Mental health

Being a writer can be wonderful but, contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not the way to

everlasting happiness. Granted, writing can be cathartic at times, but once you’ve catharted you have to live with the fact that other people, thousands of them, will be reading, judging, maybe even hurling across the room in disgust, the product of said catharsis. Fortunately, dogs probably can’t read – though, as the first draft of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max, you have to wonder. Generally speaking, however, your dog will not mind how bad your first draft is. They equally won’t care about reviews, prizes, foreign rights sales, or if you’re even any good or hopelessly derivative and commercially out of kilter. Dogs are all about here and now. And, as writers, if we can try to be more dog, and concentrate on the process rather than the product, I have a feeling that we’d not only be a lot happier, but better writers too.

Love

People worry about being lonely if they work from home, but I never feel alone. I work with fantastic colleagues who can’t talk to me. This means they can’t discuss the project they’re working on, ask what’s for dinner, or chat about school. They never disagree with me, or storm off to their bedroom, and they don’t judge me when I get in a strop because Scrivener is stupid. (It is – fact). Dogs take tolerance and unconditional love to saintly levels, and like nothing better than to soothe the furrowed brow of the needy writer with a lick, a well-placed head on the lap, or a paw in the hand. They’re philosophers, therapists, personal trainers, and friends. And that’s why authors need dogs.

One last historical note; George Eliot’s publisher sent her a pug as part payment for one of her novels. A practice that, I hope my publisher will agree, should definitely be revived for 2017.

Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

Nikki and Tinker

Coco and Tinker playing with their friend, Snowy, at Brighton Beach

You can buy a copy of Goodnight, Boy here or from your local bookshop!


About Nikki Sheehan

Nikki Sheehan is the youngest daughter of a rocket scientist. She went to a convent school in Cambridge where she was taught by real nuns in long black habits. After university Nikki’s first job was subtitling the Simpsons. She then studied psychology, retrained as a journalist, and wrote features for parenting magazines and the national press. She now writes mainly about education and property and is co-founder of an award-winning property blog. She is married and lives in Brighton with her husband, three children, two dogs, a cat, and an ever-fluctuating numbers of hamsters.

You can find out more about Nikki on her website – www.nikkisheehan.co.uk

Or why not follow Nikki on twitter – @NicoletteShhh


Blog Tour

You can catch the rest of this fab blog tour by checking out the hashtag #GoodNightBoyTour


A huge thank you to Nikki for such a fab guest post and to Cailin at Rock The Boat for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Goodnight, Boy?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Lisa Drakeford


Today I am super excited to be kicking of a fab blog tour for a brilliant YA contemporary!

The Crash by Lisa Drakeford is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the lovlies at Chicken House.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it and like Lisa’s first book, The Baby, multiple points of view in the narrative and a twisting storyline will keep you gripped until the very last page!

So today I am lucky enough to have been able to put some questions to Lisa all about The Crash, it’s characters and writing that second novel…..


Best friends Sophie and Tye are watching TV when a car crashes through the living room wall. The driver and passenger are twins, Harry and Gemma. Next door neighbour, eleven-year-old Issy, witnesses the accident. In the aftermath, Tye is thrown into a coma, Gemma’s dark past begins to haunt the present, and Sophie starts to fall for Harry – but how can she, when he was the driver who nearly killed her best friend? And Issy, meanwhile, hides a terrible secret …


Hi Lisa!  Thanks so much for being here today!  I LOVED The Crash so much so it’s an honour to have you on Tales!

Can you tell us a little about your new YA book The Crash?

It begins with a car, crashing into a house where two best friends are watching TV. The rest of the book is about the relationships which develop between the people in the car and the people in the house. They all have secrets, some of them darker than others, and there’s a young next door neighbour who maybe has the darkest.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters, Sophie, Tye, Harry and Gemma?

Sophie’s a brilliant best friend but riddled with guilt. She’s had a few knocks in life, but just gets on with it.

Tye’s delightful. He’s funny and good looking but dealing with a secret.

Harry is artistic and the best brother you could ever want. He’s madly in love but has to face a few things before he can enjoy it.

Gemma’s damaged and prickly and hard to love, but actually, strangely loving.

Like your first novel, The Baby, The Crash is told from different points of view with flashbacks. How do you find writing each narrative voice ? Whow was your favourite to write?

I’m a bit obsessed with seeing things from different points of view, so I love writing in this way. All five characters have their own stories to tell, so it sometimes feels difficult pulling all their stories together, I guess it’s a bit like a jigsaw.

It’s eleven year old Issy who I enjoyed writing about the most. Hers was the darkest story, but strangely the most straightforward.

If you could describe The Crash in 5 words what would it be?

Secrets have to be revealed!

How did you find writing your second book compared to the first ? Did your writing process change at all?

I wrote The Crash before The Baby was published, so there was no real pressure there. The difficult bit came with the re-writes and edits. By then, The Baby had been accepted and that’s when I felt the pressure. I had nothing to lose with The Baby; I have everything to lose with The Crash. I learnt so much with The Baby and I hope I’ve now put that experience to good use. I think by book three I’ll have finally got it sussed.

My writing process has definitely changed now. I still write what I want, but I have my mentors’ and editors’ words of caution and advice ringing in my ears as I do.

We would love to know a little bit more about you! Can you give us 5 random facts we might not know about yourself?

I’m probably one of the most boring people on earth, but I’ll have a go…..

1. My real name isn’t Lisa or Drakeford.

2. I once toasted a mouse by accident. (It didn’t smell very good)

3. I’ve saved my younger brother’s life twice. He’s 48 now and he’s still not thanked me!

4.I’ve never played Monoploy or watched an episode of The Simpsons.

5 My mantra goes something like this: There is always room for pudding.

What’s next?

More writing. I can’t get enough. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Book three is written and the send button has been pressed. I’m actually incredibly proud of it. As I said earlier, I’ve learnt such a lot since submitting The Baby to Chicken House. All that’s left now is to sit, twiddling my thumbs, waiting to see if anyone likes it. In the meantime I’ll just carry on writing…

You can buy a copy of The Crash here or from your local bookshop!


About Lisa Drakeford

Now a children’s tutor, Lisa Drakeford used to be a library assistant and became inspired to write by the brilliant young adult novels filling the shelves.

She started writing seriously four years ago, attending a number of writing courses and winning a place on the Writing East Midlands Mentoring Scheme. Her debut novel, The Baby, was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2014. Her newest novel, The Crash, will publish in July 2017. 

You can follow Lisa of twitter – @LisaDrakeford


Blog Tour

You can follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Lisa for answering all of my questions and to Jazz at Chicken House for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read The Crash?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Blurring the Line Between Science Fact and Fiction by Sarah Govett


Today I have a fab guest post from the lovely Sarah Govett, author of the brilliant YA dystopian The Territory trilogy!

The Territory and The Territory:  Escape were released in 2015 and 2016 published by Firefly Press and with the third book in this fab trilogy due very soon I thought it would be perfect to showcase these fab books on my blog!

Today Sarah chats about blurring the lines between science fact and science fiction in this fab guest post….


Noa Blake is just another normal 15 year old with exams looming. Except in The Territory normal isn’t normal. The richest children have a node on the back of their necks and can download information, bypassing the need to study. In a flooded world of dwindling resources, Noa and the other ‘Norms’ have their work cut out even to compete. And competing is everything – because anybody who fails the exams will be shipped off to the Wetlands, which means a life of misery, if not certain death. But how to focus when your heart is being torn in two directions at once? One of The Telegraph’s best YA books of 2015

The year is 2059. Fifteen-year-old Noa Blake has passed the exam to stay in The Territory but her childhood friend Jack has been shipped off to the disease-ridden Wetlands, a death sentence in all but name. Noa and Raf have vowed to rescue him, but how? With an electric fence, gun towers and a police state monitoring their every move, getting into the Wetlands looks impossible, let alone getting home again. Second in The Territory trilogy, The Territory, Escape follows Noa, Raf and Jack as they battle through a world of raiders, mosquito swarms and psychopathic prisoners. Noa faces her own battle too is it just friendship that drives her and if not, is Jack still even hers to claim?


Blurring the Line Between Science Fact and Fiction

Today, on the 1st July I’m going to be at Bradford Literature Festival discussing ‘The Reality Behind Dystopian Futures’ and it’s got me thinking again about the world of The Territory (my dystopian trilogy) and whether it could ever come into being. Officially categorised as ‘fantasy’ (on the cover) or ‘science fiction’ (on Amazon), the more I read and research, the more I think that a better descriptor might be ‘speculative fiction’ in the Margaret Atwood sense of a future that could really happen.

In The Territory half of Britain is underwater as a result of flooding caused by unchecked global warming. OK, so I admit, this is unlikely to be the case in 2059, the year the series is set, but I would posit that it is an exaggeration rather than a mere flight of fancy. Research group Climate Change has predicted that a 4C temperature increase (the most likely scenario given the current rate of increase) would result in a sea level rise that would submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people worldwide. Closer to home this would mean in London areas including Battersea, Chiswick and the entire borough of Lambeth would be submerged, vast parts of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Belfast would disappear and almost all of Cardiff and Dublin could be underwater.

It would be nigh impossible to fit and feed the current population in a dramatically reduced land mass so very difficult decisions would have to be taken. In The Territory the new authoritarian government, the Ministry, has introduced an exam everyone has to sit aged 15. Pass and you get to stay on the dry land, the Territory, fail and you’re shipped off to the malarial wetlands for a life of misery if not certain death. The Minister claims that the system is fair as it applied to everyone regardless of colour, class or creed, but the reality is very different. Exams prioritise logical subjects at the expense of more creative ones and the richest people in society can pay for a procedure on their kids whereby they can upload information from computers directly into their brains, virtually bypassing the need to study.

So could this happen?

Well, again it’s probably not as far a stretch of the imagination as it might at first seem. Elements already exist. We currently examine teenagers within an inch of their lives. I’ve worked as a private tutor for the past 13 years and I’ve seen first hand how much pressure our education system places on young people. Some kids, including very bright ones, fall to pieces in exams – exams which are going to determine their future. Indeed in 2015/16 alone Childline conducted 3077 counseling sessions on coping with exam stress. Moreover, our education system does elevate logical subjects – Maths beats History, Science tramples over Art. And Students who are ill-prepared by their schools have to compete against peers who have been spoon-fed the answers by their teachers or family members and private tutors.

As for the more sci-fi element – the Childes who can upload – well, in the summer of 2015 the Director of Engineering at Google predicted that by 2030 people would be able to connect their brains to the internet via DNA nanotubes and thereby be able to artificially enhance their own intelligence. So we’re not a million miles away.

Finally malaria – could this come to Britain? When I wrote book 1, I’d kind of assumed that this wouldn’t happen, well not within my lifetime. But then, when I’d finished, I did some research and found that climate model scientists have predicted that by 2030, mosquitoes carrying the malarial plasmodium will be able to breed in Southern England  for up to 3 months of the year. 2030 is the year to watch out for.

In summary, I would hate the world of The Territory to come into being, but maybe, on the current path we’re on, certain elements are inevitable. The important thing then, is to change that path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy Sarah’s books here or from your local bookshop! 


About Sarah Govett

I read law at Trinity College, Oxford. After qualifying as a solicitor, I set up my own tutoring agency, Govett Tutors, which specialises in helping children from all backgrounds.

I have also written for children’s television. I have two young children, and live in London with my stand-up comedian husband.

You can find our more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahgovett.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter – @sarahgovett


A huge thank you to Sarah for such a fan and thought provoking blog post and to Karolina Davison for organising.

Have you read The Territory or The Territory:  Escape?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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