Category Archives: Author Q&A

Tales Q&A With Faye Bird

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I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this thrilling thriller of a book, What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird.

What I Couldn’t Tell You was released on the 1st May 2016 published in by Usborne Publishing and is a fab thriller.

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers for having me on this wonderful tour and to Anne Finnis for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Faye Bird!

WICTY Front Cover

When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…

Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her?

Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night.

Hi Faye.  Thank you for being here today!  I’m so thrilled to have you here!  What I Couldn’t Tell You sounds amazing and I cannot wait to read it!

Can you tell us a little about What I Couldn’t Tell You?

 The book opens with a crime; Tessie’s sister, Laura, is attacked, and now she’s lying in a coma and no one knows what happened to her. Tessie, Laura’s sister, picks up the story. Tessie has SM – she is Selectively Mute – she doesn’t speak in certain situations, but she can observe, she can listen and it seems she might be the only one who can piece together what happened to Laura.

Can you tell us a little bit about Laura’s sister Tessie?

 Tessie is just like you or I, but she suffers with SM. SM is a social anxiety disorder that prevents children speaking in certain situations, such as in school or in public. Selective Mutism is sometimes called Situational Mutism. As with others with SM, Tessie does not have any speech or language problems, and she can speak freely and at ease at home when she is with the people closest to her. If you are interested in finding out more about SM the charity SMIRA’s website is a good place to start

What kind of research went into the writing What I Couldn’t Tell You?

I knew I wanted to write about SM after hearing a young woman who had suffered with it in the past speaking on the radio talking about her experiences. I loved the idea that giving a character with SM a first person narrative effectively gave that character a voice they wouldn’t otherwise have. But I needed to do a good deal of research. I hadn’t heard of SM before, and as it turned out all my assumptions about what SM was and what caused it were wrong. Research involved reading key texts on SM, mainly written by speech and language therapists, and meeting those who had a direct experience of SM. Once I started writing I didn’t seek out new research because at that point I felt I had all I needed to simply forge ahead with my imagination and write the story.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in What I Couldn’t Tell You or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

 I guess I can see myself a little in Tessie. I felt an affinity with her, even though I haven’t ever suffered with SM or had any direct experience of it. I think that’s because there have been times in my life when I perhaps haven’t been able to say the things I’ve really wanted to say. I found the emotional tension between what Tessie thinks and feels and what she can or cannot say a rich ground for writing prose; it inspired me. I’m not sure whether that’s because of my own experiences or not, but I suspect it had something to do with it!

 We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Faye Bird?

My first job was in a toyshop called Frog Hollow. I served lots of famous people there. Prince William and Prince Harry used to come in with their pocket money.

I love cats but have always been scared of dogs ever since one chased me and I had to jump on the bonnet of a neighbour’s car to escape.

After I graduated I went to America and worked in a rollercoaster theme park in Ohio. I served pizzas and chilli dogs and Mountain Dew.

 When I was little I used to spend hours and hours jumping off the stairs in the belief that one day I would take off and fly.

I aspire to having a writing shed in my garden that I can escape to and write!

Can you tell us a little about your other books?


 My first book, My Second Life, is about a girl called Ana who has lived before. She’s always known she’s lived before and it’s been something that she’s always accepted about herself, until one day she sees someone she recognises from her first life and she suddenly becomes plagued by memories of a girl, Catherine, lying dead in the water. And with those memories comes strong feelings of guilt and responsibility, and suddenly Ana isn’t sure of who she is at all any more. Is she Ana, the good person she thought she knew herself to be, or is she someone who killed a person in her first life? And so her quest begins to find out the truth of what it is she has done.

Which of your characters from any of your books would you most like to spend the day with?

 I think I’d like to spend the day with Ana in My Second Life. I’d like to ask her all sorts of questions about her two lives!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. You Against Me by Jenny Downham and on my iPad I’m reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.










Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot the story out first, or dive right in and see where it takes you (or a bit of both)?

 With My Second Life, I didn’t really plot at all. I had key scenes that I always knew I was writing to in my head – like Ana meeting her Mum from her first life, and the final scene right at the end – but that was literally it!

With What I Couldn’t Tell You I knew I had to plot more, not least because of the demands of the crime story. I was also writing to deadline and couldn’t afford to write quite so many drafts as I ended up writing with My Second Life. I’m currently writing my third book now – I’m just at the first draft stage, 10,000 words or so in – and I’ve spent a good deal longer planning out the story than with either of my first two books. I think, just as with anything in life, I am learning with each new book how the process works best for me.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016?

 I’m going to continue getting the words down for the new book, which feels exciting, and I’m planning lots more school events. I love going into schools and meeting readers, so if anyone reading this is interested in me coming into their school then do get in touch!

WICTY Front Cover

You can buy a copy of this book here

Or why not add the book to your Goodreads here

About Faye Bird

faye bird

Faye writes fiction for young adults. Before becoming a writer she worked as a literary agent representing screenwriters in film and TV. She studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University, but has otherwise always lived in London, and still does now. Her second novel, What I Couldn’t Tell You, will be published on 1 May 2016.

You can find out more about Faye on her website:

Or why not follow Faye on Twitter: @faye_bird

Blog Tour

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

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Monday 22nd August

The Book Moo

Powered by Reading

Tuesday 23rd August

YA Under My Skin

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

 Wednesday 24th August

Howling Reviews

Teens on Moon Lane

 Thursday 25th August

Laura’s Little Book Blog

Mia in Narnia

Friday 26th August

Another Teen Book Blog

Tales of Yesterday

Saturday 27th August

Wonderfully Bookish

Overflowing Library

Sunday 28th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Rachel Bustin


Monday 29th August

Bookish Outsider


 Tuesday 30th August

Luna’s Little Library

Serendipity Reviews

A huge huge thank you to Faye for answering all my questions and to Faye Rogers for organising!

Have you read any of the What I Couldn’t Tell You?  What did you think?   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!


Tales Q&A with Georgia Clark

The Regulars

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for a booked pitched as Dorian Gray for the Girls generation, The Regulars by Georgia Clark.

The Regulars was released on the 11th August 2016 published in paperback by Simon & Schuster UK and is a fab contemporary.

A huge thank you to Alix and Alice at FMCM for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Georgia Clark!


The Regulars

Best friends Evie, Krista and Willow are just trying to make it through their mid-twenties in New York. They’re regular girls with typical quarter life crises: making it up the corporate ladder, making sense of online dating, and making rent.

Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well …gorgeous. Like, supermodelgorgeous. With a single drop, each young woman gets the gift of jaw-dropping beauty for one week, presenting them with unimaginable opportunities to make their biggest fantasies come true.

But there’s a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-day Cinderellas, there’s just one question left: What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?

Hi Georgia!  Thank you so much for joining me today!  I am so excited for The Regulars!

Can you tell us a little about The Regulars?

It’s a sexy, sassy feminist fairytale about three young women living in Brooklyn (where I live), who get their hands on Pretty, a magical elixir. One drop turns you super, jaw-droppingly hot for one week at a time. But there’s a dark side to being Pretty too…

Is there anything in particular that inspired you to write The Regulars?

I was inspired to create this story to join the exciting and important conversation that’s happening around beauty and beauty standards. From the anti-Photoshopping movement to icons like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer celebrating and embodying a more realistic approach to bodies and being a woman, there’s a real groundswell right now that’s questioning what we want our beauty standards to look like. Ultimately my aim in joining this conversation was to put something out into the world that helped women and girls feel better about themselves and happy in the bodies and faces we live in.

 What would you do if you discovered Pretty?

Probably something close to what Evie’s agenda is: using it to become more powerful. There I am, on the Victoria’s Secret runway, high-fiving Taylor Swift before grabbing the mic and espousing an impassioned Equal Pay for Equal Work manifesto. Telling my 5 million Snapchat followers about fighting campus rape. Maybe I’d go real renegade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Jessica Jones-style (after all, I’d look great in Nylon) and save the city from rogue mansplainers.


Can you tell us a little fact about each of the main characters Evie, Krista and Willow?

Clever, cautious, idealistic Evie is an only child who secretly loves Buffy fan fiction.

Aspiring actor/hot mess Krista lost her virginity in the back of a blue Ford.

And shy, sensitive, self-destructive Willow is obsessed with the filmmaker Harmony Korine.

What was your favourite scene to write?

So many! I loved writing the first transformation scene as it has comedy, drama, tension, and some nice surprises. I really liked writing Willow’s scenes, even though her voice was the hardest for me to nail: she’s a very poetic, mysterious girl and her scenes were the most experimental.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in The Regulars or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

Certainly: I’m most like Evie, with splashes of Willow and Krista. I used the universal experience of not feeling pretty enough to give the novel depth, truth and authenticity. Many of the girls’ different insecurities I’ve felt myself.

If you could cast your characters from The Regulars in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

I think Jess Biel would be a great Velma Woolf.


Mia Wasikowska could be an interesting Willow. Tilda Swinton could play Evie’s boss at the magazine.









And of course, Ellen Page would be Quinn.

Ellen Page

What would you like your reader to take from The Regulars?

In an ideal world, I’d like readers to feel equal parts entertained, inspired and supported. It’s not easy being a woman in this world, and personally, I feel drawn to telling stories about the female experience that can be helpful, in some small way.

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Georgia Clark?

  1. I was in the Cattle Club at high school and used to show cows at agriculture shows.
  2. I had braces for 2.5 years and hated every. Single. Moment.
  3. I had never been to a gym until 2015 when I started dating my (very healthy) girlfriend.
  4. I once got my aura cleansed for a magazine story and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.
  5. I travelled solo through Vietnam and once spent a week singing pop songs to “teach” (re: entertain) a room full of Khmer (Cambodian) school kids.

Which of your characters would you most like to spend the day with?

Probably Krista. She’s the most fun, for sure. She’d get us into the best kind of trouble.

Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper.


I was totally and completely obsessed with this Young Adult series as a kid. Hungrily consumed when my imagination was a ripe and fertile thing, I really felt like I was there, alongside the Drew family, searching for the legendary Holy Grail in the mysterious windswept hills of Cornwall. I have vivid memories of the Greenwitch, Will Stanton, the Things of Power; the mix of myth, magic and memory that all good fantasy-adventure stories possess. Being an Aussie, I was raised with equal parts American and British culture, and thus feel quite fond of UK classis such as The Five Children and It, the Narnia chronicles and the Famous Five. But The Dark is Rising was always my favourite, kicking off a lifetime love of action and adventure.

Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

I adored The Girls, by Emma Cline.


A new favourite. The buzz book of the summer merits all the praise. Her prose is consistently elegant and surprising. Such a wise storyteller makes everyone else seem like cliché-ridden buffoons. I had the odd experience of having my life reflected back to me by a person I didn’t know.

I wish I’d written Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. I was given this novel by my best friend with the wild-eyed you-have-to-read this endorsement known to all book lovers. It’s my kind of story: snappily written, cleverly crafted, opinionated in ways I relate to, deliciously brutal, and just a cracker of a crime story.


What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m halfway through Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair (and other things I still have to explain). It’s so smart and funny; a must-read for Fall.


Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I love collabs! Everyone I’ve mentioned, plus David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Maggie Stiefvater, Karen Russell, and ALL funny ladies: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Carrie Brownstein, Judith Lucy, Mindy Kaling. Bring it!

When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

I start with one of the most fun parts: brainstorming. This involves some forms of research, depending on how much I actually need to learn, and extensive note taking. It’s basically months of daydreaming, where the sky’s the limit. Only in the outline phase do I start culling ideas and getting things at order; at the very beginning, it’s pure play. 

Do you have any strange writing habits?

If I’m alone, I’ll read it out loud and do the voices. I need total silence: I get furious with snifflers/loud typers/coughers.

If The Regulars had a theme tune what would it be?

Anything by Beyoncé.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016?   

My year is packed! I’m in Canada (Nova Scotia) right now for a friend’s wedding. Heading to LA at the end of the month for a book launch and to hang out for a bit, then I’ll be in Australia for three weeks for more press and to see my family. I’ll be in NY for Fall, maybe a weekend upstate for apple-picking. I’m doing a writers’ residency outside Chicago in early winter to start a new idea!

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Georgia!

The Regulars

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

Georgia Clark is the author of The Regulars. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for her newsletter.

About Georgia Clark

georgia clarke

Georgia Clark is an author, screenwriter and journalist who is widely published in women’s and lifestyle magazines, and writes for TV. She is enthusiastically vegetarian, proudly queer, definitely a city-dweller, a long-time lover and supporter of the arts and an advocate for the empowerment of young women.

– Follow me on Twitter/Instagram @georgialouclark
– Sign up to my mailing list from my website
– Like my author page on Facebook

Blog Tour

Follow or catch up of the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Georgia for answering all my questions and to FMCM for organising!

Have you read any of the The Regulars?  What did you think?   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!


Tales Q&A with Richie Tankersley Cusick



Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

They were basically what I was reading and enjoying as a young adult and thanks to the author Juno Dawson, who started #PointHorrorBookClub on her website in 2013, I have started to re-read these books that I used to rush to the shops every weekend and buy and sit for the whole weekend reading.

Juno announced in January 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on #pointhorrorbookclub and with her blessing I am going to try and carry it on with version 2!  Juno has done a fantastic job – I hope I can keep up her good work *gulps*

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here

The #pointhorrorbookclub have read a number of Point Horror Books by Richie Tankersley Cusick including…..










And we still have many more to revisit!

These books are most definately memorable from the Point Horror era and I have had the absolute honour of putting some questions to Richie!

For this task I recruited some awesome #pointhorrorbookclub members as well as myself with some burning questions for Richie!  Thanks for all of the brilliant questions!

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here

NB – as this is a discussion this will contain spoliers!

About Richie Tankersley Cusick


Richie Tankersley Cusick was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on April Fools Day. Being an only child, she began at an early age to invent invisible friends and special worlds of her own, which sparked her passion for writing.

Among her first and fondest memories is living alongside the bayou in the small town of Barataria. Rich with legends and folklore, this area was once frequented by the pirate Jean Lafitte, who supposedly hid his treasure within the dark shadows of Bayou Barataria. The influence of Southern mystery and charm was overwhelming to a little girl’s imagination–ruins of old plantation houses, aboveground cemeteries, moss-draped oak trees, crumbling churches, shrimp boats, old drawbridges, haunted roads, and the murky waters of the bayou. Many of these childhood experiences would prove to be major inspiration for her books. She would love the South always.

When Richie was old enough to start school, the family moved to the suburbs where they shared their home with a ghost. Though her growing- up years were spent in Louisiana, summers were spent in Missouri with her grandparents, where she received regular—and fascinating—doses of Ozark superstitions and folk tales. She attended Riverdale High School, then went on to the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now called UL Lafayette) in Lafayette (Cajun capital of the world!) where she graduated with a BA in English and a minor in English history.

Soon after graduation she moved to Kansas City, where she worked as a writer at Hallmark Greeting Cards for nine years. Once again, her house was inhabited by a ghost. Upon publication of her first book—Evil On The Bayou—she left Hallmark and began writing books full time.

Twenty-eight books later, she now lives in North Carolina with her two cocker spaniels, Audrey and Halle Berry, and shih tzu, Emma, and is currently at work on a new novel. She writes at an antique rolltop desk which was once owned by a funeral director. And yes…it’s haunted.

You can find out more about Richie and her books on her website –

I am so excited to have Richie talk to us today!

Here we talk about the Point Horror brand, experiences, writing and haunted desks!

*breaks out buttery popcorn and settles in for the ride!*

Hi Richie.  Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday and to #pointhorrorbookclub!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  We are so excited and thrilled and excited to have you here!

Hi, everyone! I feel so honored, being asked to participate in your Point Horror Club.  In fact it’s been so long since I wrote books for Point, I’m actually shocked that anyone even remembers me!  I hang my head in shame that it’s taken me so long to get back with you—punctuality has never been one of my virtues.  But I felt it was important to dig deeply into your thought-provoking questions, hoping I’d be very thorough with my answers.  All the questions were so interesting—some I’d never even considered before—and I found the interview to be both fun and challenging.  I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m too wordy with my replies—this is precisely why I’ve never been good at short stories! 

Firstly, yay to Point Horror…we have re-read three of your contributions to Point Horror so far, Teachers Pet, April Fools and Trick Or Treat.  We can’t wait to re-read more!  I always remember Fatal Secrets being my personal fave so we will have to re-read that one soon.


 So some of the #PointHorrorBookClub have put together some (maybe too many) questions for you….we are all very excited!

Chelle, I’m thrilled that you and your group have become fans of Point Horror—especially because it’s been years since the books were published.  Does that mean they’d be considered vintage now?  🙂  However, I’d like to clarify that my only Point books were THE LIFEGUARD, TRICK OR TREAT, APRIL FOOLS, AND TEACHERS PET.  Readers often—and understandably so—think that the rest of my books were published under the Point banner, when in fact, only those four were part of the list.  I had a happy and productive stay at Point but then moved on to other publishers.  I’m so flattered that your personal favorite is FATAL SECRETS—but that one was published by Archway, as were most of my other titles. So now I’ll dive in and tackle your questions—I’m very excited, too—here goes!

[Point Horror Book Club – This is really interesting – I can only presume that maybe the UK pulishers rebranded the books or bought the books under their own Point banner here in the UK.  Speaking to Anne Finnis at YALC about this point it seemed that the books that they were sent to choose from were not specified as not being Point titles]

Right onto the questions!

Paul P: *waves* “Teacher’s Pet” was the first Point Horror book I ever bought and got me into reading!  How did your involvement in Point Horror come about?

Hi Paul! (this is me waving back!)  I really got my start with Point Horror in kind of a roundabout way, I guess.  I’d written my very first book EVIL ON THE BAYOU, which was part of a series called “Twilight,” then published by Dell.  The publisher liked the book very much, so I wrote another—but unfortunately the series ended before my book could be considered.  In the meantime, an editor from Scholastic had read my first book and really enjoyed it—so I was asked to write a book for Point.  I was given the title THE LIFEGUARD, which ended up on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List.  And that led to three more books with Point.


Chelle:  How many Point Horror Books did you write all together and over how many years?

I wrote four Point books:  THE LIFEGUARD, TRICK OR TREAT, TEACHER’S PET, and APRIL FOOLS, probably over the course of about four years.  After that, I moved to Archway, the YA division of Simon & Schuster, where I published VAMPIRE, FATAL SECRETS, THE MALL, SILENT STALKER, HELP WANTED, THE LOCKER, THE DRIFTER, SOMEONE AT THE DOOR, OVERDUE, SUMMER OF SECRETS, STARSTRUCK, and THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR.   I also published two adult books with Simon & Schuster—SCARECROW and BLOODROOTS.  In addition, I wrote novelizations of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE HARVEST, and THE ANGEL CHRONICLES.  And finally I moved to Penguin—their YA division is called Speak– where  THE UNSEEN series, WALK OF THE SPIRITS, and SHADOW MIRROR were published. THE UNSEEN was originally a four-book series, but later was also combined into two volumes, THE UNSEEN 1 and THE UNSEEN 2.  Speak also came out with a book called SPIRIT WALK, in which both WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROR were combined into one volume.

Paul P:  Did you write the Point Horror stories based on titles given to you or were you allowed to make up the titles?

For all four of my Point books, I was given specific titles to work with.  I remember when I was given the title THE LIFEGUARD (my first Point book).  They told me the cover would have a picture of a rather ominous-looking lifeguard on it.  And I was thinking,  if there’s already a picture of a lifeguard on the cover, and the title is THE LIFEGUARD, then the “bad guy” is pretty much given away already, right???  So I came up with the idea of having three different lifeguards in the book, so even though the reader knew that a lifeguard was the bad guy, they wouldn’t know WHICH lifeguard was the bad guy!!!


Mark:  Several of your PH titles seem to have started life outside the PH stable. How did they end up being released under the banner?

Actually, I really hadn’t started on any of my Point books until the titles were assigned to me.  Then the challenge was to come up with a suspenseful idea that would reflect the title.  My main goal was always to make the book much scarier and more involved than the actual title sounded.  I always wanted to give my readers more than they’d bargained for.

Chelle:  What was the process of Point Horror publication like for you? Caroline B Cooney, in another #pointhorrorbookclub Q&A gave the impression that it was somewhat of a factory mentality, churning books out based on titles that would appeal to readers?

My personal belief is that Point did have a specific group of writers they very much respected and used for their YA horror genre.   I’m thinking that Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine were probably their most successful authors—both were amazingly prolific, and I always admired their ability to turn out so many books so quickly.  I can’t speak for them, but in my own experience, I never felt like I was expected to do any sort of “factory” thing and just churn out book after book.  After THE LIFEGUARD was published, I was given TRICK OR TREAT to work with; after that I was given a 2-book contract which included my other two Point titles.  And though I was assigned specific deadlines, I never felt the presssure to become a” book machine.!”


Paul H:  We have come to realise that some of the more prolific Point Horror authors (Stine, Hoh) were occasionally ghost-written.  Were you ever approached to ghost-write for a fellow PH author?

No, I was never asked to do any ghost writing for Point.  The closest thing I can compare that to, is being asked to write novelizations for BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL when I was with Archway.  In those cases, I was given the actual scripts written by Joss Whedon (the creator of Buffy and Angel), and my job was to flesh them out into book form.  The books were a lot of fun because basically, they’d already been written.










Chelle: Did you have to work towards a specific word count for Point Horror?

Although I’ve never been a writer concerned with “word count,” my books always seemed to be around 225-250 pages.  We probably were given guidelines about the actual book length, but I don’t really remember them, and my books just always seemed to end up at that particular length.

Mark:  How long did it take on average to write a PH book?

On average, most of my books took around three months to write.  I always did two to three drafts before I was satisfied with a complete manuscript.  But after I turned in a manuscript, I’d then have many consultations with my editor, where we’d discuss different ways to make the book better.  Then I’d go back and edit and rewrite till we both agreed that the book was the very best it could be.  The books actually came out about a year to a year and a half after they were written and given final approval.

Cazzy:  Which book did you enjoy writing most and which character was your favourite?

Boy, that’s a tough one!  With every book I write, a little of myself stays locked inside it forever, and the characters stay locked inside ME forever.  But even though each and every book has a special meaning and memory, there are always some that just seem a little more special than others.  Of my Point titles, TRICK OR TREAT is probably my favorite.  Conor will always be one of my most favorite characters, and I enjoyed every second I spent with him.  I’ve even had readers ask me to write a sequel to TRICK OR TREAT, focusing on Conor and his future relationship with Martha.  A wonderful idea, I agree—but one I haven’t pursued yet. 


Paul H:  Which of your Point Horrors are you most proud of?

That’s another tough one.  I guess THE LIFEGUARD will always be a souce of pride to me because it was my very first Point title and also my very first really successful book.  There were a lot of challenges involved with it, and I was a very new, very enthusiastic writer, who really wanted to do a good job.  I remember my concern about the book being on a beach, because I’d never really had any experience of being around beaches.  So I went to AAA and got every travel book I could get my hands on, everything about beaches and coastal areas.  I went through every book and wrote down tons of information about beaches—details and descriptions such as flora and fauna, boats, water, lighthouses, sand, shells, weather—every possible thing I could think of that was beach-related.   I made lists of words and phrases.  I kept the lists close at hand while I wrote.  Most of those details found their way into the book, gave it a realistic atmosphere, made it come alive. After the book was published, I had so many readers tell me that Beverly Island was just like the coasts where they lived or vacationed, that my beaches made them feel like they were actually there. That really made me feel good, that I’d achieved exactly what I’d set out to do.


Mark: Which of your PH titles do you think has aged the best?

I definitely think TRICK OR TREAT has best withstood the test of time.  Readers still comment on that book, and especially on Conor.  Readers still say it scared the life out of them!  Yay!  That’s just what I was trying to do!!!  However, out of all my published books, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR (published by Archway) seems to have remained in print the longest, and those characters are still some of my very favorites.


Paul H:  With a few notable exceptions, Point Horror’s tended to stick to a few basic rules:  female protagonist, brooding romantic interest, a general whodunit structure.  Was it a challenge to invent compelling plots within those boundaries?

Honestly, I don’t think I was ever aware of those rules when I was writing.  I basically just wrote the kinds of books I loved and that I thought teens (mainly girls) would also love.  Surprisingly, I’ve heard from many boys who’ve enjoyed my books too, which really makes me happy.  I’ve always written stories that I personally wanted to write, even when titles were assigned to me.  I’ve always enjoyed reading YA books, both when I was a teen and also now as an adult.  Before I wrote EVIL ON THE BAYOU, I read quite a few current YA horror books, focusing on what their appeal was, what teens really liked about them, and what readers’ expectations were.  I remembered things that had always kept me glued to those books I’d loved reading as a teen—romance, suspense, mystery, cute guys (and mysterious cute guys), the totally unexpected, the irresistible challenge of whodunit.  I think that the world in general changes with each generation, but I also feel that deep-down emotions, hopes and fears, those extremely personal issues and pressures that young adults face, really don’t change that much.  Every generation is very different, but very much the same.

  I always try to write books that my readers can identify with. My main character/heroine is a sort of Everygirl—a girl any female reader can relate to. My books are more character-driven, rather than plot-driven.  I never use a formula or an outline, but at some point in my writing I suddenly realized that I usually have three guys—don’t ask me why, but three seems to be the magic number.  I usually have very supportive best friends that the main character can confide in, whether those friends are guys or girls.  The “side” characters (what I like to call them)—guys, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, eccentrics, neighbors, and especially the villains, are always much more interesting to me.  They influence the direction of the book, and their interaction with the main character gradually reveals her true spirit and personality.   I think you’ll find in most YA books that the adults disappear very early on, or that they make very few appearances.   In my own books, the presence of grown-ups (including parents) is usually minimal, whether they’re apathetic or oblivious, out of town or deceased, etc.  Even loving and concerned parents have very limited interaction; they’re only used for the purpose of further defining the teens.  The idea is to leave the young adult characters pretty much on their own, so they’re forced to figure out solutions for themselves.

 I try not to date my books with things like current technology or current slang, etc.  Those things change so quickly; often by the time a book is published, many fads and innovations are already out of date.  So I really try to concentrate on people and relationships, more than things.  I don’t go into a book with the idea of moralizing or lecturing or teaching any lessons.  But again, I do notice certain recurring themes in my books—like the importance of friendships, not judging by appearances, and discovering one’s true nature through adversity.

 My characters must always deal with “bad surprises.”  That is, they’re very normal, doing the right things, being good people, minding their own business when suddenly—through no fault of their own—they’re dealt disasters and tragedies and seemingly hopeless obstacles which they must overcome,.  Through these frightening situations they find courage and strength within themselves and come out stronger in the end.  An unfortunately, obstacles and challenges never go out of date.

Chelle:  We have noticed a difference between the early Point Horror book and the later Point Horror books in death rates and breaking boundaries.  Do you think as Point Horror became more popular the publishers loosened the reigns a little?

That’s really an insightful question.  You wouldn’t believe the boundaries I had to work around when I was writing YA back then.  Censorship was pretty rigid, and publishers weren’t big on gore, curse words, sex, suggestive language, etc.  Yes, quite a challenge—and today their restrictions would probably be laughable!!!  I’m sure that to keep up with the times, and to keep up with new challenges facing young adults, the publishers were forced to give a little—or a lot.  However, in my own books, I’ve never been big on gratuitous sex, violence, or gore—not then and not now.  Actual deaths and murders not-always-but-usually happen off-screen.  I tend to lean more towards suggestions rather than graphic action.  And yes, in SHADOW MIRROR, (SPOILER ALERT!)  two characters actually have sex, but ONLY because I felt it was necessary to the plot, to move it forward, to set the stage for what might happen in their futures, and also to show the reactions/personalites of the side characters who are peripherally involved.  But I’m very particular and careful about what I put into a story; I won’t write things just for the sake of shock value.


Mark: Did you plant any friends / family in your stories?

You know, sometimes I wonder if each character in a book has just a tiny bit of some person we’ve ever known, loved, or hated in our lifetimes!!! The only characters I can truly say were modeled on actual people are the Loberg sisters in THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR.   They’re comical characters (in fact, one of them is based on me)—and my dear friend who recognized herself in the other sister,  was totally flattered—she thought the characters were hilarious!

 I LOVE my characteres, and when the book is finished, I actually go through a grieving period because I miss them so much.   My characters are as real to me as any real-life person, and I live with them 24-7 for the duration of the book.  For example, my last books WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROR were very different projects for me–not my usual horror themes, but more mystery-oriented (or what I like to call, my “quieter books”).  I was going through a very painful time in my personal life, and these characters were with me every second of every day.  In fact, sometimes I wonder if I could even have survived that time of my life without the presence and support of those characters.  And do you know that even now—when I’m feeling particularly frustrated or blocked—I actually go back and re-read those two books just to be with those beloved characters again?  Yes…I admit, this writer is a bit eccentric that way!

Chelle:  Have you read any other Point Horrors?  Which one was your favourite?

Yes, I’ve definitely read books by Point authors, though I certainly couldn’t pick a particular favorite..  In fact, I’ve read many YA authors who inspired me and influenced my desire to write YA.  There are so many good authors out there, it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite.

Paul H:  Which of your Point Horror stablemates (other Point Horror authors) did you rate the highest?  Did you ever meet any of them?

I honestly couldn’t rate any of the other authors—they all have their own different and very exclusive styles, which appeal to such a wide variety of readers. I remember when I first started writing professionally,  Christoper Pike and I were attending a conference together, and he was kind enough to share some writing advice with me, a truly unselfish gesture I’ve always appreciated.  I also love John Peel—one of my most admired authors and a special friend, even though –sadly—we’ve lost touch over the years.  R.L. Stine and I also became very good friends and did some book signings together, though—once again, regrettably–I haven’t seen him for many years.  As for myself, I’ve  always had a very strict policy:  I NEVER read any YA books while I’m writing one.  I don’t want any other books creeping into my subconscious to influence me in any way, shape or form.  Once I finish writing my own YA book, however, then I’ll start reading teen books again.  The same rule applied when I wrote my two adult books.  I wouldn’t even consider reading another adult book while I was involved with my own—so while I was immersed in writing my own adult book, that’s when I’d switch to reading YA.

Chelle: Which of your Point Horror characters would you most like to go to dinner with?

Dinner?  Do they actually have time to go to dinner in between dodging perilous situations????  Of course, it would have to be Conor from TRICK OR TREAT.   Cute, witty, mysterious, and loyal to the end—who wouldn’t want to have dinner with him???  But if you asked me about any of my other books, I’d have to say Charlie from THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, and especially Gage and Etienne from the WALK books.

Mark:  Trick or Treat was adapted for the short lived PH audiobook collection. What did you think of that version and did you get any input into it?

You know, I don’t think I ever actually listened to it the whole way through—and since I can’t even remember it now, I don’t know how to answer your question.  However, I had no input at all—I don’t remember even knowing about it till I received a copy in the mail!!!


Chelle:  If you had to write one more PH what would you call it?

How about MEGA-BESTSELLER????  Seriously though, I have so many titles spinning around in my head, but I won’t reveal them here. What if other writers saw them and decided to use them for their own books??!!   🙂

Cazzy:  where do your ideas come from?

Cazzy,  you wouldn’t believe how many times I’m asked that question—and every time I feel totally baffled by it.  Some ideas come from the most obvious places; other ideas come without warning from my own head.  Here are just a few examples I can think of:  Reading books; watching movies; looking at pictures; traveling; studying places and scenery; current events; being aware of one’s surroundings; talking to people; doing research, hearing about legends, folklore or mysteries (I have a soft spot in my heart for ghosts, especially since I grew up with one in my house, and also because have a haunted rolltop desk where I work); hearing an interesting name of a person, place, or thing (I have tons of books on names, both people and places); watching teens, their mannerisms, how they talk and interact; letting my imagination run wild.  I’m particularly fond of the supernatural, gloomy atmospheres, wolves, monasteries,  cemeteries, old houses (each has its own soul and personality, you know, just like a character), brooding characters, the unexplainable, and, as I mentioned before, “bad surprises.”  I believe in just about everytthing–just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  And evil has always fascinated me–how the mind of an evil person works (or doesn’t). 

 I’ve always loved watching the old, classic horror movies:  Dracula (with its many renditions), Frankenstein, The Wolfman.  My favorite was always The Wolfman—that desperate pathos of an innocent man suddenly finding himself helpless in the midst of a “bad surprise” (a horrific surprise, really). My heart always ached for him and his sealed fate.  I’ve always loved that classic character more than all the others. 

 But here’s a bit of information that might interest you.  And it’s about your homeland.  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with England.  Everything about England intrigued me, captivating and stirring my imagination.  Jack the Ripper and the foggy streets of London. Yorkshire and the moors.  The beautiful countryside, farmhouses, and sheep.  I loved the sea-sprayed cliffs of Cornwall.   I loved Victorian England. I loved British authors, legends, tales, and folklore.  I loved castles, churches, monasteries, houses, old towns and villages, and English history.  I loved your language and the differences in British and American words that mean the same thing (I have British dictionaries)!  And, like most Americans, I love British accents and could listen to them all day! 

 I have a huge collection of books about England (travel, history, literature, cookbooks, etc.).  I minored in English history in college. My parents gave me a trip to England for my college graduation present, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel there four more times (or is it five?).  And the whole fascination is so odd really, because when I was a child, no one ever mentioned England to me.  I never heard about it from any friend or family member, and in school I even hated geography!  It was if England had always been in the back of my mind, just waiting for me to discover it and explore it.  Later I found out that my Tankersley ancestors had come from England.  That there’s actually a town called Tankersley (which a friend and I visited; to my disappointment it was nothing like what I’d hoped it would be, but we did have a drink at a pub!). 

 At the risk of sounding maudlin, I’ve always felt hopelessly in love with everything British—I even adore your food (and cook it for friends!). England has always inspired me. There’s so much history and heritage, romance and passion and pride about your country—you embrace your past.  And unlike so many things in America, you tend to preserve your landmarks and buildings, rather than tearing them down or replacing them in the name of “modern progress.” You are SO lucky to live there, and I am SO lucky to have gotten to visit!  I’ve always felt such a strong emotional connection that I can’t really explain.  Reincarnation?  Subconscious memories passed down and imbedded in me from past generations?  Whatever the reason, I can honestly tell you that each time I’ve traveled to England, the very second I step foot on British soil, I feel like I’m home. 

 So I’ve probably given you lots more information than you need.  And I’m sure there are still even more ways I’m able to tap into ideas, but hopefully this will give you just a hint of where they might come from.

Mark:  Which or your books (if any) do you think would adapt well for TV /film?

Please don’t think I’m impressed with myself, but I believe that ALL my books would lend themsevles perfectly for film.  Interesting characters, plot twists and turns, and surprise endings.  Too bad no directors, actors, or screenwriters seem to agree with me!

Paul H:  What was your favourite thing about the 90’s?

Hmmm…my favorite thing…

 Well, since I live in my own world and imagination most of the time, I can only tell you one of my favorite memories  Sitting in my office at my rolltop desk (the haunted one, you know), with snow falling outside my window, and the white-powdered trees brushing the windowpane.  A cup of hot spiced tea steaming on the table beside me…my cocker spaniels curled up and snoozing on the couch…the scent from a pumpkin-spice candle (anything pumpkin is wonderful) filling the room.   Scary soundtrack music playing in the background, pictures of my characters pinned on the bulletin board above my desk,   And having a wonderfully productive day full of inspiring ideas, perfect plots, and characters who’ve spoken to me and told me where they want to go and what they want to do next.  What could be better?

Cazzy:  How do you think the YA genre has changed since the 90s?

Wow, there’ve been so many changes.  You won’t find the strict censorship that was common back then.  No more passive female characters—they’ve now become stronger and self-reliant, leaders in their own right. There are now more series and sagas.  More action and fantasy, apocalyptic worlds.  More heroes and villains. To me, it seems there are fewer boundaries or restrictions now as to what an author can create.  Books now, as in generations past, tend to reflect the scary times we live in, the fears, the uncertainties, the need for some control over our destinies. There’s so much more variety in books now, more obstacles to overcome, more complicated plot layers.  Writers are a lot more free now to express themselves and their wildest ideas.  I think in this day and age—anything goes.

Cazzy:  do you think PH could make a comeback for today’s teens/pre-teens?

That’s a very interesting question and hard to predict.  Readers will always have very subjective, very personal tastes in books.  If you go into a bookstore nowadays, you’ll see shelves display themes of every kind.  Some readers prefer more action-oriented books; some prefer more introspective novels.  Some enjoy fantasy; others prefer reality. Some love to enter past or future worlds; others like to stay grounded in more familiar, everyday experiences.  Novels have a way of going through cycles.  What’s popular today often saturates the market to the point where readers feel they’ve read it all before.  And then some new trend comes along to take the place of the current fad.  I think romance will always be popular, no matter what form it takes, and that readers will always love the challenge of a good mystery and the fun of a good scare, no matter where the plot is set. So who knows?  It’s almost impossible to predict what young adults will clamor for next.  All I can say is that young adults—and publishers–are always searching for that next great idea.

Tara:  I would love to find out if there are plans for more books? YA horror is quite popular and I believe there is certainly a market for it. I want more Point Horror!

Tara, I certainly can’t speak for Point Horror.  As I mentioned before, it seems that genres tend to run in cycles. But I believe that people, no matter what age, always long for and enjoy a good scare.  That’s why I think horror will always be popular.  With the horror genre, readers can always convince themselves that the fear and danger aren’t real. If they get frightened, they can always close the book or walk away from the film.  I think horror is both compelling but also fun.  Can anyone predict what the next trend will be, or where it will take us?  There are so many possibilities out there, and so many good writers with so many wonderful ideas—to me, horror will always be around, in one form or another. 

Chelle:  I’d love to know what you’re up to now and where Point Horror has taken your career? Do you still write horror?   Is it a favourite genre of yours?

I’ll always be grateful to Point Horror for giving me the opportunity to write and hone my craft.  Having worked with both positive and negative editors,  I learned the importance of listening, compromising, and working together as a team to make the book as good as it can be.  I published my first bestseller there.  With each book written, I learned so much, which moved me forward into even more creative experiences.  I’ll always be indebted to them for taking a chance on me.

 Yes, I still write horror, and I’ll always love it.  I remember that as a child, I was seldom frightened by scary movies—in fact, I loved the suspense and the spooky atmospheres, could usually guess the ending, and was especially excited when a plot actually fooled or frightened me. 

 And though I’ve recently taken time off from writing, I’m currently at work on a new book—scary, of course!

Chelle:  Could you tell us a little about some of your other books?

All my other books are horror/thrillers, except for WALK OF THE SPIRITS and SHADOW MIRROW, which I consider to be more mystery than horror. The reason for this change is that my last editor didn’t want me to write a horror novel—she wanted something that was much tamer.  It was difficult for me to switch gears, but I really got lost in those books. I grew–and remain–especially close to those characters, and loved being part of their close-knit group.  As one reader said to me, “Who WOULDN’T want to be part of a group like that?” I always try to fill my novels with surprise twists and turns and compelling characters—except for the BUFFY and ANGEL novelizations, in which the plots and characters were already written.


Paul H:  Who are your favourite authors?

I don’t think there’s enough room to list them all here!  My earliest inspiration was, naturally, Nancy Drew!  I also loved Margaret Mahy, Joan Aiken, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Margaret Mahy, and Joan Lowery Nixon.  Later I grew into Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Thomas Hardy. I read and still love to read what were then called Gothic Romances—now they’re referred to as Romantic Suspense.  These books heavily influenced me heavily with their dark heroes, gloomy settings, eerie old houses,  and trapped heroines. I loved Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, Susan Howatch, Daphne du Maurier, and Phyllis Whitney. I really enjoy Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, Tami  Hoag, and Jeffery Deaver.  But really, it’s so hard to narrow down the field, because there are so many amazing authors out there, and I don’t have the space here to name them all.


Amy:  What was the first horror novel that you remember reading?

To be honest, I don’t remember the first horror novel I ever read.  I just know that I always loved scary books and scary movies—mainly because I found them so fascinating and fun instead of scary. And those that succeeded in actually scaring me, I considered quite brilliant.

Chelle: Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

You might refer to Paul’s question above.  I’m afraid I got carried away with my answer but actually listed only a handful of authors that inspired me and made me want to be a writer. 

 But here’s a funny story for you:  when I was in grade school, we were asked to write an original story.  I wrote a very short “book” called TOMMY LIZARD’S FIRST HALLOWEEN.  I wrote it with much flair and drama, complete with illustrations.  By the way, I’m a terrible artist; I have no talent at all.  But I still proceeded to tell the story of Tommy Lizard trick-or-treating from house to house until he finally got ahold of a black jelly bean, which made him very sick.  I ended the book with my brilliant rendering of poor Tommy Lizard throwing up the black jelly bean.. then smiling and saying “Bye Bye!”  And do you know, I still have that story, written in pencil on wide-ruled paper?  Yes, my very first novel (and artistic endeavor), three very creative pages long!

Chelle: Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

You know, I’ve never thought about collaborating with another author.  I’m very much a loner, and I totally need my solitude to create the world I’m writing about.  I completely immerse myself in the book I’m working on at the moment—I seldom see friends, pick up the phone, or answer the door.  I even rarely leave the house, because I don’t want to step outside of my special book-world.  Even when I take a physical break from writing, I’m still writing and thinking in my head so that I don’t break the spell of the book.  As I’ve said, the characters are very real to me; I even speak to them out loud to make sure their dialogue is natural, believable, and revealing.  I try to build a world so realistic, that my readers feel like they’re actually there, that they actually know and participate with the characters.  I don’t do outlines—if I try to plot things out, then I feel like I’ve already written the book and can’t write it over again.  I never try to guess ahead when I write.  Just like the reader, I’m totally surprised at what happens next in the book.  For me, it’s like watching a movie unfold.  I basically create the characters, let them go, and watch them tell their story.  I simply follow their lead and don’t ever know how the book is going to end—or who the bad guy is—till I’m nearly finished with the first draft.  And the funny thing is, I’m always surprised!  “OMG, you’ve got to be kidding!  I didn’t know he/she was going to be the villain!!!!  I had no clue it would end this way!!!!!”

Amy:  Are there any books or films that have scared you?

I don’t scare easily, but yes, there are definitely some books and films that have scared me. Stephen King’s THE SHINING kept me glued to every page; I couldn’t put it down.  I really disliked the movie—to me, it didn’t capture one bit of the book’s brilliance, and I was very disappinted in its interpretation.  Two films that still scare me (even though I’ve seen them a million times) are THE HAUNTING (the original, not the remake) and THE CHANGELING.  I didn’t see the ends coming, and the incidents leading up to the climaxes were really unnerving!










Amy:  Why do you think people like to be scared?

Of course, this is only my personal opinion, but to some people it’s just plain fun. Fun to be scared because people know it’s a safe scare.  If a reader gets scared, he/she only has to close the book.  If a movie-watcher gets scared, he/she only has to leave the theatre or change the channel on the TV.  It’s a way of controlling those things we can’t predict or understand; it’s a way of having some control in this frightening, unpredictable world.

 In my workshops I always suggest to students that they turn off the sound on their TVs but continue watching the show—then try to imagine what the characters might be saying.  Conversely, I suggest that students close their eyes while watching a show–then try to imagine what the characters are doing while only hearing them talk. It’s a good way to learn about action and dialogue, how to make your characters real, and how to create suspense.

 I also tell my students that less is more, and it’s a self-imposed rule I try to follow as well.  If too much is spelled out to the reader (too much gore, too many scares without any relief, etc.), the book loses its impact.  Readers can become de-sensitized, the book becomes boring, and often never gets finished.  However, if a writer puts just enough in to tease and tempt the reader, put them on an emotional roller coaster of clues and suggestions—then the reader’s imagination will take over.  And once that happens, a reader’s imagination will create scenes even more graphic and horrifying than anything a writer could ever write.

 Horror is a way to express strong negative emotions that would never be acceptable in normal society.  Horror is challenging—one never knows what will happen next.  Horror stays with you long after the initial fear is over—it makes you afraid of the dark, it makes you check under the bed and in your closet, makes you want to leave the light on.  I believe the fear of the unknown is something we all share, a feeling of powerlessness, a fear of what lies ahead that we can’t guess or imagine.  And in reading or watching horror, we have some control over the bad and scary things in life.  Horror has been around since the beginning of time, and I believe it will be around forever.

Chelle: What do you think makes a good story?

I think that to every author, to every reader, the idea of a good story is purely subjective.  What I look for and enjoy in a book will probably be different from another person’s preference.  But speaking for myself, I think a good story is one that sucks the reader in.  That transports them from their actual world into the book-world, that makes them believe the characters are real, that makes them experience thoughts and actions so completely that it’s as if the story is truly happening to them.  Characters that the reader can relate to and identify with.  Situations that make the reader think, feel, and react.  And most of all, a good story is one which shows the reader that he/she isn’t alone. That other people (represented by the characters) experience the same emotions and struggles that readers experience.  To me it’s important for a reader to finish the book with a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and connection.  If I can do that with any one of my books, then I feel I’ve done my job successfully.

Thank you so much Richie for taking the time to answer these questions and feature on Tales Of Yesterday and #pointhorrorbookclub. We all love your contributions to Point Horror and wish there were more!  It really is an honour and I look forward to reading more of your books!

And thank you for allowing me to meet all of  you—it’s truly been a privilege.  I’d just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your interview, and I sincerely wish I could meet each and every one of you in person.  Your questions have inspired me and reminded me once again why I love doing this for a living.  And if there are ever any more questions or thoughts you’d like to put out there for me, I promise to answer them to the best of my ability—I’ll even try to respond in a much more timely manner!  So thank you again for allowing me to meet with all of you and for taking the time to think of me.  I hope you continue enjoying scary books.  Horror writers need more great readers like you!



So there you have it #pointhorrorbookclub!  Richie answered everything we asked!  I think it was nice to read another slightly different side to the story of Point Horror and how they came to be.  Richie seemed to have a mix of free reign and structure with her Point Horror experience which is fascinating! Nice to see that the publishing team came up with some of the titles again…this seems to be the common ground of creating Point Horror!  I also love Richie’s stories too!.

What did you all think?


Why not join in Point Horror Book Club and the discussion on the 13th of every month?

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read?  Are you new to Point Horror?  Has our opinion changed?  Are they still as good?  Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror?  Or are the a whole load of cray cray?

You can find links to all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new here

Another huge huge thank you to Richie for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab answers!  And thank you Point Horror Book Club members yet again for fab questions!

*claps hands excitedly*

Do you remember Point Horror?  Which was your favourite?  Would you like to join in on #pointhorrorbookclub ?

Happy Point Horror-ing!






Tales Q&A with Lucy Sutcliffe

Girl Hearts Girl

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this brilliant memoir Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

Girl Hearts Girl was released on the 24th June 2016 published in paperback by Scholastic and is a fab YA contemporary.

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Lucy Sutcliffe!

There is also a tour wide giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Girl Hearts Girl

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe’s debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy’s video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy’s writing about the incredible personal journey she’s been on.

 Hi Lucy!  Thank you so much for joining me today!  I am so excited for Girl Hearts Girl!

Can you tell us a little about Girl Hearts Girl?

Girl Hearts Girl is a coming-of-age memoir which details the things I went through as I was growing up. The book is centred around my struggles with my sexuality, but I also touch upon topics such as bullying, social anxiety, and feeling like an outsider. 

Can you elaborate on which characters are based on real people?

99% of the characters in Girl Hearts Girl are real people. But a few characters here and there are an amalgamation of several different people at once! Melissa Edwards, for example. She existed, but as a character, she also represents several other crushes I had on girls over the years. 

What inspired you to write your memoir?

Oh, so many things. And so many people. But the main reason I felt inspired to write Girl Hearts Girl was because when I was growing up, no books like this existed. My only hope is that by publishing this book, a new generation of kids won’t have to worry quite so much as I did.

What was it like writing a story so close to your own experience?

A little bit terrifying, but in equal parts, utterly exhilarating. Laying out your life into chapters and sub-headings is a very surreal experience, and it’s also very therapeutic. It was hard for me to filter out the things that weren’t relevant – because to me, everything that’s ever happened to me is relevant.

What was your favourite part to write?

Weirdly, my favourite parts to write were the parts where I got to describe my home town. The concept of a “home” has always been very important to me, and Oxford has such a special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful part of the world and I love that I got to paint that picture for people.

What was your writing process like?  Did you start from the very beginning or from another point?

One afternoon, I bought a $1 notebook from Target, sat down at my desk, and literally wrote out my entire life, year by year. Planning out the chapters took weeks. It was a crazy process because I’d remember one thing and then that would spark another, and another, and another. My memory isn’t the greatest, so it was always a race to see if I could get it down in time before I forgot it again!

Did you find that you developed any writing habits whilst writing Girl Hearts Girl?  I saw in your acknowledgments that you thank your three cats.

I definitely had to get myself in the mood for writing before I did anything. In order to be productive, I shut myself away with snacks, and turned off the internet. My cats tend to follow me into any room I’m in, so I’d usually settle down at my desk and then they’d appear two minutes later and fall asleep at my feet. They kept me company all day every day, and also kept me sane! There’s something very calming about having a sleeping cat in your lap as you’re writing. 

 What advice would you give your younger self?

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. Their opinion is none of your business. And for goodness sake, stop cutting your own hair. 

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Lucy Sutcliffe?

– I have a phobia of velvet. Don’t ask.

Oh I get this!  *shudders*

– More often than not, I sleep with my head under the pillow, not on top of it. 

– I cry a lot. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. Sometimes I just cry for funsies. 

– I’m an introvert who constantly craves social interaction. I know, it’s weird.

– I am constantly eating something. 

Can you tell us a little about Kaelyn? 

Kaelyn is the most hard-working person I’ve ever met. She’s fierce and proud and she eats guacamole by the bucketload. What a keeper. 

What is the most romantic thing the two of you have done?

I’ll always remember the night we rented the top floor of a hotel room in downtown Chicago and just sat on the balcony with our feet swinging over the edge, watching the sunset, drinking cheap champagne and making up stories about the people walking around below us. 

How did you feel when your video montage of your first week meeting Kaelyn and subsequent films gained such a huge following?

It was insane, and so unexpected. It was scary and most certainly intimidating, but it was also extremely liberating to have gone from a very reserved, shy, closeted girl to an out-and-proud woman with 28 million views on YouTube. I still can’t really believe it, to be honest. I’m just so happy that I’m able to help people out just by being myself.

Can you tell us a little about Arizona where you now live?  How different is it to the Oxfordshire village you grew up in?

It’s breathtaking. I live right by South Mountain, which is basically this vast heap of orange rock, smack bang in the middle of Phoenix. When my family came out to visit me a few months ago, my Dad said it reminded him of Mars. It’s worlds away from the golden cornfields of Oxfordshire, and it’s so beautiful in its own, unique way. 

Are there any Authors / books /people that inspired you?

I’m so easily inspired. Anytime I see anyone doing what they love, it inspires me. Even if it’s the cheerful barista at Starbucks, determined to put a smile on everybody’s faces as they serve up coffee. 

JK Rowling will always be my favourite and most inspirational author. I’m especially inspired by the way she managed to write Harry Potter while battling depression. That’s not an easy thing to do. 

What has been your favourite moment of being published so far?

The amazing feedback. More specifically, the messages I’m getting from people telling me my book helped them come out. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that my story has helped other people. It’s insane – in the best possible way.

 Are there any exciting plans for the rest 2016 or 2017?

Hands up who wants a Girl Hearts Girl 2?! 

*puts hand in the air!*

 What would you like your reader to take away from Girl Hearts Girl?

Embrace every single aspect of who you are, and shout about it from the rooftops. 

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Lucy!  Loved all your answers so much!

Girl Hearts GirlYou can but a copy of Girl Hearts Girl here or at your local bookshop

Or why not add it to Goodreads here

About Lucy Sutcliffe

Lucy Sutcliffe Author Photo

Co-star of the popular YouTube channel Kaelyn and Lucy which documented the long distance relationship she had with Kaelyn Petras. She and Kaelyn finally came together in August of 2014, ending the long distance element of their relationship.

She graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2014 with a degree in Film Arts

She works as a freelance film editor and author. She and Kaelyn’s channel mainly focuses on advice videos for LGBT youth.

She was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire to parents Sharon and Roger Sutcliffe.

You can find out more about Lucy on her website –

Or why not follow her on twitter – @lucyliz

Or Instagram – lucylizz

And also You Tube –


There is a tour-wide giveaway!

3 copies of Girl Hearts Girl for 3 lucky winners!

Participants must live in UK or IRL.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour

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

GHG Banner

Monday 18th July

So Many Books, So Little Time

Annalise Books

Tuesday 19th July


George Lester

Wednesday 20th July

Laura’s Little Book Blog

Read Rant Review

Thursday 21st July

Jess Hearts Books

An Awful Lot of Reading

Friday 22nd July

Charlie in a Book

An Awfully Big Adventure

Saturday 23rd July

Big Book Project

YA Under My Skin

Sunday 24th July

The Book Moo

Tales of Yesterday

Monday 25th July

YA Yeah Yeah

Serendipity Reviews

Tuesday 26th July

Sweet Love Books

Luna’s Little Library

Wednesday 27th July

Bart’s Bookshelf & Overflowing Library

Thursday 28th July

Snuggling on the Sofa

Ali – The Dragon Slayer

The Northern Plunder

A huge huge thank you to Lucy for answering all my questions and to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for organising!

Have you read any of the Girl Hearts Girl?  What did you think?   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!




Tales Q&A with Paula Rawsthorne


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this awesome new children’s anthology by Stories From The Edge.

Stories from the edge was released on the 18th July 2016 and features some fab UKYA authors!

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

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Paula Rawsthorne!


A collection of gripping, thought-provoking short stories by eight award-winning UK young adult authors.From the perils of online chat rooms, doping in sport, racism and terrorism, to gender and self-esteem issues, love, life and death, Stories from The Edge isn’t afraid to ask some big questions. Sometimes frightening, often funny, always brutally honest, these stories will take you to where the shadows are darkest and the ground drops away. The question is, are you prepared to look over the edge?

Discussion Guides for exploring each of the stories are available as a free PDF download from the EDGE website. Go to:

Hi Paula!  I’m so happy and super excited to have you here today!

Hi Chelle, Thanks for inviting me onto ‘Tales of Yesterday’.

Can you tell us a little about the anthology Stories From The Edge?

‘Stories from The Edge’ is an anthology of gripping short stories for teenagers, written by eight award winning YA authors.

Joy Court (Chair of the CILIP Carnegie Medals) writes in the introduction to the anthology, “I guarantee these stories will leave readers gasping for more.” 

Can you tell us a little about your short story in the anthology, ‘A level Playing Field’?

‘A Level Playing Field’ is the story of seventeen-year old Alfie Pickford, who has worked hard and sacrificed so much to become an elite swimmer.  We meet Alfie as he is about to start the most important race of his life but, as we follow him length by length, we discover just how far he is willing to go to win. 

What inspired you to write this story for the anthology?

I wanted to write a very topical story involving a teenager which would lead to lively debate and make young people wonder what they would do if they were in Alfie’s shoes.  The issues involved in Alfie’s story are hitting the headlines weekly.  All the stories in the anthology, together with the discussion notes, are created to get teenagers engaged, reading and talking.

How did you become involved in the anthology?

I’m a member of the YA writers collective, ‘The Edge’.  We write sharp fiction for young adults and teens.  The eight of us have been blogging and doing school events together for five years now.  We’ve always been interested in providing a platform for readers, librarians, booksellers and bloggers to talk about YA fiction. 

During our school visits we heard time and time again from teachers and librarians that it was difficult to find engaging short stories for teenagers.  We know that the short story form fits perfectly with the fast paced life of young adults.  The Edge realised that we were in the perfect position to write relevant, intriguing stories to get teenagers reading and so our anthology was born! 

We’ve also included free to download discussion guides on The Edge website to make our topical stories easy to use in the classroom.

What research was involved to make the story about a world class swimmer authentic?

I undertook fairly extensive research because it was important for the world of the swimmer to feel authentic.  I read about the training regime of elite swimmers, the lifestyle they have to adopt to be at the top of their game.  I also read about historic and unfolding scandals in the sporting world and the pressure on elite athletes to win. I was particularly interested in reading about teenage athletes and the pressure that they have to deal with daily.

How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a whole novel?  Is there a different structure?  A different editing process etc

Writing a novel is like running a marathon; it takes a long time and requires a lot of stamina.  Whilst I enjoy the challenge of writing novels I also love the short story form.  I’ve had short stories published for adults and teenagers and enjoy the satisfaction of crafting the whole world of the story in just a few pages.  With a novel I tend to work on intricate plots whilst the short story gives me the freedom to focus on a crucial point in someone’s life and capture it.  I still tend to do quite a lot of research around the subject matter of a short story (as I would with a novel) but I can get the first draft down relatively quickly and then I go back and shape and edit the tale until I’ve managed to evoke a lot by saying a little.

Which of your characters from A Level Playing Field would you most like to spend the day with?

I’d like to spend the day with Lily who is Alfie’s twin sister.  As Alfie is our narrator we only get his perspective of Lily and her behaviour.  I’d love to befriend Lily and let her talk about how Alfie’s swimming career has impacted on her life.

Have you read any of the other stories in Stories from the Edge?  Do you have a favourite?

The stories in the anthology are diverse and involve so many intriguing issues like racism, sexuality, doping in sport, terrorism, love, life and death.  Every one of the stories had me gripped; they are so well written with fantastic teenage characters.  If you forced me to highlight just one of the other stories I’d say that Bryony Pearce’s ‘Face2Face’ will be particularly useful to teachers in the classroom to explore the issue of grooming on line.

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Paula Rawsthorne?

  1. I’m hopeless at gymnastics. I can’t even do a forward roll.
  2. I love to swim in lakes, ponds and rivers.
  3. I didn’t know that I was a writer until my early thirties
  4. I hired my red wedding dress (so luckily I haven’t needed it again)
  5. I can only do exercise if I’m guaranteed an alcoholic drink when I finish.

Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?


I wish that I’d written ‘Pigeon English’ by Stephen Kelman.  The voice of his young hero is compelling and appealing whilst the subject matter is heart-breaking and so relevant to our society.

What are you currently reading?

Henry Marsh’s ‘Do No Harm’ which is fascinating and awe- inspiring. 


I’m also reading ‘Mumnesia’, a middle grade book by fellow Edge member Katie Dale.  It’s great fun!


Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I feel that with ‘Stories from The Edge’ I’ve fulfilled an ambition to collaborate with my fellow Edge writers.  They are all tremendous, exciting YA writers and, after having blogged and done author events with them for so long, it’s been wonderful to work on our anthology together.

When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

I try to soak up inspiration from anywhere and everywhere and, when I get an idea, I start to jot down whatever happens to come into my head.  It may be pieces of dialogue, the appearance of a character, the very end of the story, or a fully realised scene. I also embark on research to make my story feel as authentic as possible.  I just go with the flow and see if it develops into something I feel passionate about pursuing.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

It’s not particularly strange but, every morning, I walk to my local café and bring home a take-away latte.  Only then do I feel ready to get down to writing.  As my friends point out to me, it would be cheaper to buy a coffee machine, but the walk and chatting with people helps to get my creative juices going.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest 2016 or 2017?

Yes.  My third novel is written and I’ll be continuing my work with ‘First Story’ as a writer in residence in a Nottingham school as well as doing school visits here and abroad.  I’m looking forward to sharing my novels and ‘Stories from The Edge’ with students everywhere.

Thanks so much for answering all of my questions Paula!


You can buy a copy of Stories From The Edge here

 Discussion Guides for exploring each of the stories are available as a free PDF download from the EDGE website. Go to:

About Paula Rawsthorne


Paula Rawsthorne is an award-winning writer of teen fiction.  Her debut novel, The Truth about Celia Frost, has won multiple awards.  Paula’s second novel, Blood Tracks is the winner of ‘The Rib Valley Book Award 2014’. Both books are published by Usborne.

You can find out more about Paula and her books on her website –

Or why not follow her on twitter using @PaulaRawsthorne











The Edge website

Blog Tour

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


A huge huge thank you to Paula for answering all my questions and for Katie Dale for asking me to take part!

Have you read Stories From The Edge?  What did you think?  Will you be going to grab a copy?  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!




Tales Q&A With Gabrielle Kent

Alfie Bloom Talisman Theif

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for the wonderful second book in the Alfie Bloom series by Gabrielle Kent, Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief!

Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief was released on the 2nd June 2016 published in paperback by Scholastic and is MG Fantasy aimed at 8 – 12 year olds and beyond.

This book is the second in the series with the first book being Alfie Bloom And The Secrets Of Hexbridge Castle.

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Scholastic for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Gabrielle Kent!

Alfie Bloom Talisman Theif

When Alfie Bloom inherited a castle and a centuries-old magic, his dull and lonely life was changed forever. But Alfie’s new life has come with dangers he never could have expected. When Ashford the butler is kidnapped in the middle of the night, the castle comes under threat from a terrifying enemy. Trapped inside with only his twin cousins and best friend Amy, it’s up to Alfie to defend his inheritance and prevent a terrible fate from befalling the whole of England!

Hi Gabrielle!

Thank you so much for joining me today!  I am so excited for the second Alfie Bloom!

Can you start by telling us Who Alfie Bloom is?

Alfie Bloom is an eleven year old boy living in a cramped basement flat with his inventor father. His dad has to work several jobs to support them and, what with his dedication to his experiments in his spare time, Alfie doesn’t get to spend much time with him. All of this changes for Alfie when he inherits a castle full of wonders which has been magically sealed for centuries. The inheritance reveals many secrets, including the strange circumstances surrounding Alfie’s birth. He was born during a magical timeslip where Orin Hopcraft, the last of the great druids, hid an ancient magic inside him which others seek but should never be used. Needless to say, that burden starts to take its toll on Alfie over the course of the series.

 Can you tell us a little about the second Alfie Bloom story Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief?

You can’t set a series in a castle without having at least one siege! The Talisman Thief sees Alfie, Amy and his cousins trapped in the castle with a terrible enemy at his gates.  Everyone who read the first book wanted to know more about Alfie’s mysterious butler, Ashford. This novel should satisfy their curiosity. I hope everyone will be surprised by the revelations.

 Which of your characters from the Alfie Bloom books would you most like to spend the day with?

Granny Merryweather. She is very much based on my Irish Granny Dempsey. We’d spend the day milking cows, collecting eggs, riding the tractor and doing manual labour on her farm, then she’d give me an archery lesson – she’s an amazing shot! In the evening, over a feast in the farmhouse kitchen, she’d tell me tales of bizarre local legends and spooky tales of the fair folk.

 What was your favourite scene to write?

I’d love to tell you, but it would give away a major plot point, so my lips are sealed!

 Will we be getting any more Alfie adventures?

Yes! Scholastic signed me for three books and I am currently finishing editing the third in which Alfie and company travel back to the 1400’s. I have more ideas in mind just in case Scholastic ask me for more books.

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Gabrielle Kent?

  • I lived in an extremely haunted house in Bishop Auckland between the ages of one to five. I still remember some of the very strange things that happened there!
  • This is a bit gross, but I have an extra layer of skin growing across my eyeballs – apparently only people who sunbathe lots or live in desert countries have this. I never sunbathe and I’ve always lived in England. My brother says it’s because I’m a lizard.
  • Summer is my least favourite season, I always groan when I open the curtains to see that it is bright and sunny outside. I adore dark nights, and wind, rain and thunderstorms make me very happy. People tell me they think that’s weird, but I think they’re the odd ones for getting so excited about the sun.
  • In my first week at secondary school our geography teacher asked us to write a story about an explorer on an uncharted island. In my story the teacher was the leader of a band of bold pirates battling the dangers of the island whilst looking for somewhere to bury their ill-gotten gains. I included a picture of the teacher in a pirate hat dancing on the grave of the former pirate captain. I didn’t realise the story was supposed to be serious! The teacher read my story to the class, then screamed at me with steam pouring out of her ears until my face caught fire. Little did I realise that she was actually helping me with my research – there is so much of that teacher in the character of Miss Snitch, Alfie’s headmistress in The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle!
  • I used to work in the computer games industry making car-racing games for PC, Xbox and Playstation. Vin Diesel recorded the voice of the main character in one of the games.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan, another North Eastern writer. I’m not very far through it but am really enjoying it so far!

Layout 1

What is your favourite book of 2016 so far?

Most of my reading this year has ranged from books written in the late 1800’s to present day with only a couple from this year so far. I really enjoyed Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens, but I still have Katherine Woodfine’s Jewelled Moth and Abi Elpinstone’s Shadowkeeper waiting to be read.


The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth









Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with? Who?

She’s a games and screen writer rather than an author, but I’d love to collaborate on a project with my best friend Rhianna Pratchett. She’s an amazing writer who recently reinvented Lara Croft for the new Tomb Raider games.

I’d love to work on something with Neil Gaiman, but I think David Walliams would be the most fun to collaborate with. I’d like to take a little peek inside his brain, although I’m not sure I’d ever recover.

 When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

I have to put aside some thinking time. That involves getting away from home for a few days and going on lots of walks and visiting unusual places. When I was coming up with ideas for book three I spent a week in an ecopod in a forest in Argyll overlooking a loch with a castle in the middle. I created a spider map of lots of ideas and started linking some of them up. When I had a rough idea of what the book was going to be about, I wrote a few lines to say roughly what would happen in each chapter. Things always change as I’m writing, but that initial map is invaluable.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I am a massive fidget. I can’t sit at a desk with my feet on the floor for longer than a minute, I curl my legs up under me, stretch them out on the desk, then lie on the floor, then on the bed, then on a different chair, then in front of the fire, then back to the desk – all over the course of an hour!

 Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016 or 2017?

The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle launches in the US in October, so I’m really excited about that! There is also quite a bit of interest in the film rights for the first book so I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed.

When I hand over my third manuscript in a few weeks time I will be at the end of my contract with Scholastic, so I’m hoping they will be interested in continuing the series. If they feel it has reached a natural end, I’ll be finishing with a half written novel which has been waiting in the wings for a few years now. I’m really looking forward to getting back to those characters.

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions Gabrielle!

Alfie Bloom Talisman Theif

You can buy a copy of Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2) – here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here

About Gabrielle Kent


Gabrielle Kent has worked in and around the videogames industry for fifteen years and currently lectures in games art and design at Teesside University. As well as teaching, she directs and presents Animex, the UK’s largest annual games and animation festival, bringing young people together from all over Europe. Gabriellehas written and contributed to a number of articles, papers and broadcasts on gaming and is a regular judge on the Games BAFTA awards. In 2006 she was voted one of the Top 100 most Influential Women in the games industry by US based Next Gen magazine.

You can find out more about Gabrielle Kent on her website –

Or why not follow Gabrielle on twitter – @GabrielleKent Or Facebook here

Blog Tour

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


Thursday 2nd June

Read It Daddy

Heather Reviews

 Friday 3rd June

Luna’s Little Library

Tales of Yesterday

 Saturday 4th June

An Awfully Big Adventure

The Reader’s Corner

 Sunday 5th June

Bookish Outsider

Blabbering About Books

 Monday 6th June



 Tuesday 7th June

Linda’s Book Bag


 Wednesday 8th June

Powered by Reading

Middle Grade Strikes Back

 Thursday 9th June

Book Lover Jo

A Bookish Life


A huge huge thank you to Gabrielle for answering all my questiont and to Faye Rogers and Schlastic for organising!

Have you read any of the Alfie Bloom series?  What did you think?  Are you excited for book two in the series?  Who is your favourite character?  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!


Tales Q&A with Sally Nicholls

512SH-DoKfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Grab you deerstalker, dig out that magnifying glass and grab a bun break!  Twelve brilliant authors have written twelve brilliant mysteries for us to solve!

Mystery and Mayhem was released on the 5th May 2016 published by Egmont and is packed full of mystery and intrigue to test every super sleuths detective skills!

I am lucky enough to have received a copy of this book from Egmont and I have been loving the stories I have read so far although my deerstalker must wonky as I’ve not managed to crack the mysteries before the reveals!

*embarrassed face*

Today I am super excited to have the lovely Sally Nicholls, one of the twelve authors of the anthology on Tales with a fab Q&A all about her mystery story, writing and more!


Twelve mysteries.

Twelve authors.

One challenge: can YOU solve the crimes before the heroes of the stories?

These are twelve brand-new short stories from twelve of the best children’s crime writers writing today.

These creepy, hilarious, brain-boggling, heart-pounding mysteries feature daring, brilliant young detectives, and this anthology is a must for fans of crime fiction and detection, especially the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, The Roman Mysteries and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.

The Crime Club are twelve UK-based authors who are mad about crime fiction. Clementine Beauvais, Elen Caldecott, Susie Day, Julia Golding, Frances Hardinge, Caroline Lawrence, Helen Moss, Sally Nicholls, Kate Pankhurst, Robin Stevens, Harriet Whitehorn and Katherine Woodfine can be found anywhere there is a mystery to be solved, a puzzle to be cracked or a bun to be eaten, and they are always ready for the next puzzling case.

Hi Sally!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so excited to have you here!

Can you tell us a little about your short story in Mystery and Mayhem, Safe-Keeping?

 It’s set in a solicitor’s office in 1921. A necklace is stolen from a safe and one of the solicitors is accused of the crime, because he’s the only person who knows the combination. But Arnold, Stanley and Billy, who are the solicitors’ office boys, are sure he’s innocent and decide to clear his name. To do so, they just have to work out how the thief managed to break into a locked safe …

What inspired you to write a closed-system crime for the anthology?

Well, they’re a lot easier to solve! I remember getting very excited as a child when I actually stumbled across a real crime to solve – a break-in at the Quaker meeting I attended. The problem was, the robbery could have been committed by literally anyone in Middlesborough, which made investigating it rather difficult for a nine year old.

How important was it for you to feature boys who become the detectives?

The office boys were the first thing I started with, because they seemed like such good heroes for a detective story. I was interested to see how many of the other young heroes in the other Mystery and Mayhem stories have jobs, or help their parents in their jobs – workplaces are evidently good places to solve crimes. And I spent last year writing three books set in 1912, 1914-17 and 1935, so it’s an era I know well.

How easy was it for you to get the language right for the story?  Was it important to you? (I loved how I could perfectly speak the way Stanley would have)

One of the characters in the book I’m writing at the moment is a working-class London girl in 1914, so it’s something I’ve been researching. It’s harder to research than you might think, because most novels set in that period have upper or middle-class characters as their heroes, and the working-class characters tend to speak in awful Dick Van Dyke cockney.

One of the best books I read for dialogue is the utterly wonderful Round About A Pound A Week by Maud Pember Reeves, a Fabian study of London families living on a pound a week in 1913, which is well worth reading if you’re interested in the era.


I loved writing in Stanley’s voice. I know some readers have struggled with it though.

How did you find writing a mystery story? 

Fascinating! Most of my books are full of angst and emotion and relationships, so it was great to write something that was so plot-driven.

How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a whole novel?  Is there a different structure?  A different editing process etc.?

It’s more pared-down – anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be there has to go. But it really depends on the story. Safe-Keeping is very plot-driven, which made it very easy to write, because you just put in everything that has to happen to get the plot from A to B, and you have a story. (Even the ‘flavour’ like all the story paper stuff is really necessary to explain why the boys are so keen to solve the mystery). I’ve written other stories which are more about feelings, and they’re different again.

How do you plot a good mystery or how did you plot the mystery in Safe-Keeping?

I wanted to write a howdunnit rather than a whodunnit. I stole the ‘how’ part of the mystery from a book called Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman!


Robert Feynman was a nuclear physicist working on the Manhattan Project with a side-interest in safe-cracking. Using the method used by my criminal in Safe-Keeping he managed to break into a third of the highly-expensive, top-secret filing cabinets used by physicists  building the atomic bomb in WW2.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I write all my chapters out of order, and then get very frustrated trying to tie them together with something approximating narrative thread.

Have you read any of the other stories in Mystery & Mayhem?  Do you have a favourite?

Of course – I read them all! I really liked Caroline Lawrence’s, because I could just picture the world she described – it reminded me a lot of my time in Texas. It’s also easy to try and cram too much into a short story, which Caroline didn’t – her story is exactly the right size for her word limit, which is harder than you might think.

And somebody should give Susie Day a contract to write a whole series of Emily books right now please.

Were you a master sleuth – did you solve any of the other mysteries in Mystery & Mayhem?

Yes, but not many! I would be a rubbish detective. I am not very observant at all.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished reading my friend Jo Cotterill’s A Library of Lemons, which is a love story to books and friendship, and made me cry.


But I’m mostly still stuck in research reading – I’m currently halfway through Kids From Over the Water, which is another account of an Edwardian working-class childhood, and The Victorian Internet, which is a very readable history of the telegraph system. I’m using it to help write up some teacher’s notes for my next Barrington Stoke book.









Are there any exciting plans for the rest 2016 or 2017?

I have a new book for 5-8-year-olds with dyslexia coming out in July called Billy Button: Telegram Boy about a match-making telegraph boy.


I’m currently trying to finish edits on a YA novel about three very different girls who get involved with the suffragette movement. It’s called Things A Bright Girl Can Do, and it’s specifically about what happened to the suffragettes when the first world war started. The story we get told is that they all gave up like good girls and helped the war effort, but the reality is quite a lot more complicated than that.

Oh wow!  That sounds fantastic!  I can’t wait to read that already!

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions Sally.  I loved your story in Mystery and Mayhem!

512SH-DoKfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_You can buy Mystery & Mayhem here or why not visit you local bookshop.

About Sally Nicholls


I was born in Stockton-on-Tees, just after midnight, in a thunderstorm. My father died when I was two, and my brother Ian and I were brought up my mother. I always wanted to write – when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I used to say “I’m going to be a writer” – very definite.

I’ve always loved reading, and I spent most of my childhood trying to make real life as much like a book as possible. My friends and I had a secret club like the Secret Seven, and when I was nine I got most of my hair cut off because I wanted to look like George in the Famous Five. I was a real tomboy – I liked riding my bike, climbing trees and building dens in our garden. And I liked making up stories. I used to wander round my school playground at break, making up stories in my head.

You can find out more about Sally on her website –

Or why not follow Sally on twitter using @Sally_Nicholls

Blog Tour

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

Blog Tour Calendar Final

A huge big thank you to Sally for answering all my questions and to Maggie at Egmont for organising not only this Q&A but the whole tour.

Have you read Mystery & Mayhem?  Which was your favourite mystery?  Did you solve any of the mysteries?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Detective Work!


Tales Q&A with Riley Redgate


I have recently read and loved this fab debut book, Seven Ways We Lie, by Riley Redgate published by Abrams.

Told from seven different perspectives with each character encompassing one of the deadly sins, Seven Ways We Lie was a really interesting contemporary read.

I am lucky enough to have had the chance to ask the lovely Riley some questions about the book, writing and her future plans.

Hi Riley!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so excited to have you here!

Firstly a little about the wonderful Seven Ways We Lie…

9781419719448In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view. The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether its the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But its Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she cant have, her charmed life starts to unravel. Then rumours of a student teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations or be ruined by them.

Can you tell us a little about Seven Ways We Lie in your own words?

Yes! Seven Ways We Lie is a YA contemporary novel told from 7 perspectives, one for each of the seven deadly sins. It examines the ripple effect from a student-teacher relationship, which—directly or indirectly—forces each of the 7 to examine their central flaw.

What made you choose to write seven different characters’ perspectives?

Well, the story came to me first from the seven deadly sins concept. For a while, it was something of an exercise in voice—the seven perspectives thing was the only real given about the story at first; the actual events of the story were what took a while to crystallize.

How important are names to you? Did you pick any of the characters’ names in Seven Ways We Lie for a reason?

In general, names are just as important as any other element of world building to me. It’s bizarre reading a contemporary story where the names feel out of date, for instance, or where absolutely all the names are quirky, or where they feel randomly generated and unconnected to e.g. race/culture/class/etc. In Seven Ways, for instance, I wanted something a little pretentious for the wealthy Juniper and a little offbeat for the ostracized Valentine. I was less particular about the others.

 I loved the fact that each character represented one of the seven deadly sins (such a brilliant concept) …. what is your deadly sin?

Thank you! Mine is probably greed—I really like having stuff; it’s an issue—or envy. I feel like envy is absolutely bog-standard these days in this culture of sharing everything about our lives, mostly the positives, with people on the internet. Very easy to see somebody post on Facebook about a sweet job or internship or apartment or something and feel envious.

What was your favourite scene to write?

Matt’s epiphany scene! The context is a bit of a spoiler, but he has such inertia so deep into the novel that writing a scene of legitimate catalytic change for him was satisfying.

I’m so glad you said this as I loved Matt and especially this scene!

 Who was your favourite character to write?

My favourite to write may have been Claire, the character of Envy. She’s really a thorny character, pretty morally grey. She wasn’t the easiest to write, but I had a lot of fun with her internal justifications for all her actions.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Seven Ways We Lie or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

Well, none of it is so-called ‘self-insert,’ and none of the specific conflicts are specific conflicts I’ve had, but I suppose to a degree there will be parts of an author in any character they write, even if it’s just the author reaching to relate/empathize with that character. There are certain quirks of voice that I use that Olivia also uses, but I don’t know if she did it first or if I did. I sometimes write something and then start saying it in real life, which is a weird habit that I should probably suppress.

 How important was it for you to explore and represent the character’s sexuality and diversity? (I thought it was so refreshing to have an on the page pansexual character and a suggested asexual character…it made me smile lots.)

Glad you felt that way! It’s extremely important to me. I don’t generally speak to ace representation in SWWL, because the ace/aro character is still figuring everything out by the end of the narrative and thereby doesn’t identify on-page as such. But the pan representation is important to me since at present it’s vanishingly rare to see sexualities beyond the LG and B in LGBTQ+. I feel that to have an all-straight cast is just frankly not realistic in today’s climate and borderline irresponsible, as is just having a minority character, whether in race, gender, or sexuality, be a collection of stereotypes.

 Which of your characters from Seven Ways We Lie would you most like to spend the day with?

Olivia (Lust). We share a god-awful sense of humour.

 If you could cast your characters from Seven Ways We Lie in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could. Everyone in Hollywood is inordinately, disproportionately attractive, and I picture pretty much everybody in Seven Ways being pretty damn normal-looking, except maybe Juniper, who would probably look something like Emilie de Ravin, and Lucas, whom I imagine as kind of a young James Franco but with curly hair.


jf1 A lot of people comment on the brilliant cover for the book.  What did you think when you first saw it?  Did it encompass everything you wanted for the book?


Yeah, I think the cover’s absolutely spot on. It imparts the theme, emphasizes the idea of the split narrators, and is just really aesthetically pleasing.

What would you like your reader to take from Seven Ways We Lie?

A general reminder that everybody goes through their own struggles, and that people’s reputation and comportment have virtually nothing to do with the reality of their everyday life.

What do you think makes a good story?

Energetic writing! Weird writing. Singular writing. Anything that sounds more like itself than it does like any other writer’s work. That’s basically my only thought on the issue, since writing and reading are both incredibly subjective and something I think is brilliant is probably trash to somebody else, and vice-versa.

We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Riley Redgate?


1)      I can’t eat vegetables, seafood, or—groans from the crowd—coffee or tea. I have this taste bud thing. It’s the worst.

2)      I adore sharks beyond all reason.

3)      I cry at every children’s movie.

4)      When I was in fourth grade, I spoke almost exclusively in a Gollum voice, because he was my favourite Lord of the Rings character. Miraculously, I still had friends, no idea how that worked out.

5)      I sing in a cappella groups at my college!

Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness. They’re my big three. I’ve read virtually everything they’ve written, and every time I do, it reminds me why I love writing and what it can achieve. Something about those particular authors’ work makes me feel more like myself.

Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

I never really wish I had written somebody else’s book, but my admiration list could go on for pages. Recent favourites include Emily St. John Mandel’s incandescent Station Eleven (literary post-apocalyptic) and Leigh Bardugo’s kickass Six of Crows (YA heist fantasy).









What are you currently reading?

I just yesterday finished reading Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and I think I may just never read another book again and reread White Teeth until I die, because oh my God.


I loved this book!  I feel a re read coming on as it’s been so many years since I read this now!

What is your favourite book of 2016 so far?

You mean 2016 releases? Hnng, this is tough. Tossup between Heidi Heilig’s brilliant time-travel story The Girl From Everywhere (out now from Greenwillow and Hot Key in the UK!) and Caleb Roehrig’s Gone-Girl-esque Last Seen Leaving, which you all have to wait to read until it comes out in early October, I’m so sorry. But it’s an absolute stunner, I got hold of an ARC and devoured it.









Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I’m actually not sure! I’ve never tried it. The concept seems a little daunting to me; I get obsessive about sentence structure, comma placement, etc.—god bless the copy-editors at Abrams who had to deal with me—and I’m used to having total creative control there. I’m sure my hypothetical writing partner would eventually murder me out of sheer comma-related exhaustion.

 When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

Varies immensely. Could be a list of characters, a chapter by chapter outline, no outline at all and just the vaguest idea of concept … every project is a little different.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Only staying up far too late, which I feel is pretty much par for the course for those of us who are night owls. I do my quickest drafting between the hours of 1 and 4 AM.

I asked some lovely authors their thoughts about does music influence their books or their characters.  Did music have any influence the story of Seven Ways We Lie?

Strangely, not really! Music’s a huge part of my life—I’ve played piano since I was three, and I’m involved in several singing groups on my college campus—but this particular novel doesn’t have much of a musical locus.

 Are there any exciting plans for the rest 2016 or 2017?

Well, speaking of music, I have a music-themed novel that’s set to release in 2017 from Abrams! So I’ll be working on that after graduation. Graduation is also an exciting plan. I should find a job, or something, too, probably.

Thanks for having me!


9781419719448You can buy a copy of Seven Ways We Lie here or here

About Riley Redgate

Riley Redgate_credit Ally SchmalingRiley Redgate is a senior economics major at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Her expected graduation date is May 21, 2016. Seven Ways We Lie is her first novel. She grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and hopes to work in a bookstore after college.

You can find out more about Riley Redgate on her website –

Or why not follow her on twitter using @RileyRedgate

A huge thank you to Tina at Abrams & Chronicle Books who helped organise this Q&A and to Riley for answering all of my questions as well as writing a fab book.

You can follow Abrams & Chronicle Books on their YA twitter – @ACBYA

Have you read Seven Ways We Lie?  What did you think?  What would your deadly sin be?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading


Tales Q&A with Alison Goodman

619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The 21st January 2016 marked the release day of this super intriguing book The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

I am lucky enough to have received a copy of this book from Walker which I am super excited to read as I have heard excellent things and with this being the first book in a trilogy I just know I am going to love this book!

Dark-Days-Leaderboard (2)Today I am super excited to have the lovely Alison Goodman on Tales with a fab Q&A!

Hi Alison!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so excited to have you here!

Firstly a little about the wonderful The Dark Days Club…

619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Jane Austen’s high society and Cassandra Clare’s supernatural underworld collide in the first book in the Lady Helen trilogy, perfect for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her curtsey to Queen Charlotte and step into polite Regency Society. Unbeknownst to Helen, that step will also take her from the glittering ballroom of Almack’s and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of demonic creatures, missing housemaids and deadly power.

Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of dubious reputation and infuriating manners. He believes Helen is destined to protect humanity, but all he can offer is danger, savagery and the possibility of madness. Not the kind of destiny suitable for a young lady in her first London Season. This delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and difficult choices has all the unnerving dark magic of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and the swashbuckling action of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

How did you get your inspiration for writing The Dark Days Club?

The idea for the book came to me while I was on a tram coming home from a writers’ conference. I had been to a session about researching the Regency era, and as I sat looking out of the tram window, I idly asked myself what kind of Regency novel would I like to read now? The answer came in a rush: a mix of everything I loved about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer together with the excitement and delight of a supernatural adventure. I scrabbled for a pen and paper and by the time I got to my tram stop, I had the outline of The Dark Days Club.

Did you have any difficulty keeping up motivation while writing?

I love all aspects of writing a novel––researching, planning and the actual writing—so my motivation is good most of the time. However, I sometimes get a tough patch around the 40,000-word mark in a manuscript.  It is a kind of limbo point where I am past the excitement of the beginning but I’m not quite at the big moment in the middle. I am aware of it now, so I know that the feeling will pass if I keep steadily writing and finding the delight in each scene.

Sum up your career as an author in 3 words?

Writing, waiting, Huzzah!

Have you always wanted to write?

I have always written stories; my mother still has a storybook I put together when I was in Grade 1. By the time I was in Grade 4, I wanted to be a writer, but then, in my teenage years, I changed my mind and wanted to direct films. I started to study filmmaking at university and part of the course was to write a short film. Mine got chosen to be made, and during that process I realised that I enjoyed writing the film more than I did directing it. So, I changed my course to professional writing and discovered that my real love was writing novels.

What are your next writing plans?

Book 2 of the Lady Helen series—set in Brighton during the summer social season––is already with the publisher and is set to come out next Christmas/New Year. I am now working on Book 3, which is set in Bath during the winter social season. I am also getting ready to tour the USA with The Dark Days Club in March. I think it is going to be about nine cities in eleven days so that will be full-on fun!

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions Alison it’s been brilliant to have you here!

619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_You can buy The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy.

Dark-Days-Leaderboard (2)

About Alison Goodman

gold_trim_brooch_posterized_v4-e1438491340587Alison is the author of the upcoming Lady Helen series, a trilogy of historical supernatural adventures set in the Regency. The first book–The Dark Days Club–is due for release in January 2016. Alison is best known for her New York Times bestselling fantasy duololgy EON and EONA, and her ability to dance a mean English contra-dance. She also writes award winning science fiction and crime fiction, and lives with her lovely husband and their machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier in Melbourne, Australia.

You can find out more about Alison and her books here

You can buy The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman here

 Another huge huge thank you to Alison for agreeing to a Q&A and to Tatti and Walker for organising!

Have you read The Dark Days Club? What did you think?  Has this Q&A intrigued you?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!


Tales Q&A with Michael Grant



Today, 28th January 2016, marks the release of the brilliant Front Lines by the awesome Michael Grant!

Happy Book Birthday Michael!

I am lucky enough to have received a copy from the lovely people at Electric Monkey and judging from what I have been hearing about this book I cannot wait to read it!

Today I am so over the moon to have the awesome Michael Grant on Tales with a fab Q&A!

E2903_MG_Final_TourButton_been drafted

Hi Michael!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so excited to have you here!

Firstly a little about the wonderful Front Lines…


It’s WWII, but not as you remember it from history lessons! This time the girls aren’t stitching socks for the brave boys at the front. Meet Rio Richlin and her friends Frangie Marr and Rainy Schulterman, three of the newest recruits in the US Armed Forces. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the boys from home as they take on Hitler’s army.

In the face of reluctant colonels and sceptical sergeants, the soldier girls must prove their guts, strength, and resourcefulness as soldiers. Rio has grown up in a world where men don’t cry and girls are supposed to care only about ‘money and looks’. But she has always known that there is something wrong with this system and something else in her. Far from home and in the battlefields, Rio discovers exactly who she is and what she can accomplish.

Can you tell us a little about Front Lines?

FRONT LINES is an alternate history of the American experience of World War 2 in Europe. I make one big change: I imagine a Supreme Court decision has made women eligible for the draft and service in combat.  From there I follow three young women – girls, really – who enlist.  Rio Richlin becomes a combat soldier, Frangie Marr is a medic, and Rainy Schulterman joins Army intelligence.

What inspired you to write about an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men?

 Basically I thought it would be a fun way for me to take the history everyone thinks they know and look at it through a very different lens.

 Can you tell us a little about the main character Rio Richlin?

 Rio is inspired in part by Audie Murphy, a little guy, just 5’5”, who no one thought should be in combat, but who went on to become the most decorated American soldier in the whole war. Rio is under age, she’s a girl from a small town, her father runs a feed store, and her mother has a small dairy operation.  She’s not special or secretly a wizard and she has no powers.  She’s a typical small town girl who gets swept up in the biggest war in human history.

 How important are names to you? Did you pick any of the characters names in Front Lines (or any of your books) for a reason?

 I’ve learned a trick over time: use names that are easy to Google, unique names.

 What was your favourite scene to write?

 Oh, I love action scenes. Those are always my favourite things to write. 

 Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Front Lines (or any of your books) or have you used any of your own experiences in any stories?

 I mostly avoid putting myself or anyone I know into any book. So none of the characters are me.

 If rumours are true we may be seeing Front Lines on the big screen? If you could cast your characters from Front Lines in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

 I have no information on a movie deal, I’m afraid. I’d love to see it happen, but Hollywood sadly does not take orders from me.  As for casting, I don’t really know any actors.  I mean, would I love to see Chloe Grace Moretz doing a GI version of Hit Girl?  Uh, yeah, who wouldn’t?


What would you like your reader to take from Front Lines?

 I don’t think along those lines much. I’m basically an entertainer, I’m not a teacher.  So if my stories entertain you, cool, my work is done.

 What do you think makes a good story?

 Someone you care about has to do interesting things, and have interesting things done to them.

 I was shocked (in a OMG….my childhood….I can’t believe it way) to hear at a recent event that you ghost wrote some of the Sweet Valley High books! Dum dum duuuuummmm! I did not know this!  Therefore we would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Michael Grant?

 1) I was a high school drop-out.

2) I moved in with my wife 24 hours after seeing her through a window.

3) Ialso wrote a series called Barf-O-Rama, under a pseudonym.

4) I quite like being bald, I wouldn’t change it.

5) I would move to London in a heartbeat if I thought I could survive the overcast skies.

 Which of your characters from any of your books would you most like to spend the day with?

 Astrid from the GONE series. She’s smart, she’s manipulative, she’s a little bitchy, she’s blond. . . In short, she reminds me of my wife.  And I like my wife.


 Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

 I didn’t want to be a writer growing up, I didn’t start until I was in my 30’s. I knew I could write, which sounds arrogant, but I knew it.  I just didn’t want to, because I wanted to be the hero, not just write about the hero.  It took me a while to get over that.

 Do you have any favourite world war II reads?

 Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy is what got me thinking about writing about WW2.


And Elizabeth Wein’s brilliant Code Name Verity set the bar pretty high and I was challenged to clear it.

51kbSh5l6JL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_ Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

 Zebulon Finch, by Dan Kraus. What a great book, what great characters.


What are you currently reading?

 I’m actually re-reading the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. He uses sex and humour to paint genuinely moving portraits of great historical events and figures. The guy was brilliant.  The whole series is a work of genius.


What is your favourite book of 2015?

 It’s my wife’s book, Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate, of course.

519bewOfQIL__SX325_BO1,204,203,200_ After seeing you and Andrew Smith together at an event this year I think you should write a book together!

 Oh, Andrew and I would commit mutual murder if we wrote together. He’s a planner, I’m an improviser.  He’s meticulous, I’m all about momentum.  He’s an artist, I’m just a storyteller.

 When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

I start with what I call a Series Bible. This is a document that is part sales pitch for my editor, part overview of the project.  It forces me to think through the concept, though not the story.  In my series bible I’ll have an elevator pitch, thoughts on marketing, thoughts about the psychology and philosophy of the book, character descriptions with photos I pull off the web, locations, etc…

 I use that series bible to convince my editor I have a general idea what I’m doing. Then she signs me up, and I start work.  I start at the beginning, usually with no idea at all what’s happening next, let alone how it will end. 

 Do you have any strange writing habits?

 I have developed this need to write out of doors. Normally I sit in a rocking chair on my deck, which looks out over San Francisco Bay.  If it’s too cold or wet I drive to the Marin Headlands and work in my car.  I drink a whole lot of coffee, smoke a cigar, sometimes write while I have punk or reggae in my ear buds. 

  Did music have any influence the story of Front Lines or any of your books?

 I don’t so much enjoy music, or get inspired by it, as use it.  It’s a tool. I use it to get myself fired up.  It’s my musical cattle prod. 

I know Front Lines is a planned trilogy. Are there any exciting plans for 2016?

 I have already finished Book 2: Silver Stars. January 26, 2016 is Book One, and the next book drops a year later.

 And finally when I are you coming to England again?!

As soon as Egmont wants me there. I love the UK.  Do you know what my current TV viewing consists of?  Downloads of British panel shows like QI, 8 out of 10 Cats, and my favourite, Would I Lie To You?  I am a huge fan of David Mitchell, Lee Mack, Stephen Fry, Jimmy Carr and more.  And of course my addiction to The Great British Bake-Off is well known, especially since in the last series I picked three bakers right at the start who became the final three.  I feel I should have gotten at least a cupcake or a petit four for that feat of prophecy. 

Or maybe you could be on The Great British Bake Off!

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions Michael it’s been brilliant to have you here!


You can buy Front Lines by Michael Grant here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy.


About Michael Grant


Michael Grant has always been fast-paced. He’s lived in almost 50 different homes in 14 US states, and moved in with his wife, Katherine Applegate, after knowing her for less than 24 hours. His long list of previous occupations includes: law librarian, cartoonist, bowling alley mechanic, restaurant reviewer, waiter, documentary film producer and political media consultant.

Grant and Applegate have co-authored more than 100 books, including the massive hit series Animorphs. Grant went on to write The New York Times and international bestselling series, GONE. His BZRK series takes participants on a roller-coaster ride across print and digital venues. His latest series, MESSENGER OF FEAR, is a morality tale, though since it’s written by Michael, the morality may be quite muddy at times. Front Lines, his latest thriller, will leave you turning pages far into the night. It is a reimagining of World War II

Sony and the creative team behind multi award-winning Breaking Bad optioned the TV rights for GONE in August 2013.

Michael, Katherine and their two children live in the San Francisco Bay Area, not far from Silicon Valley. He can be contacted via Twitter @MichaelGrantBks, and

It’s hard to come up with a tagline for such a man. We like ‘Michael Grant is the evil genius of YA fiction‘ but Michael came up with a couple of ideas of his own.

Check out Michael’s Website here

You can buy Front Lines by Michael Grant here

 Another huge huge thank you to Michael for agreeing to a Q&A and to Alice and Egmont for organising!

Are you a Michael Grant fan?  Have you read Front Lines?  What did you think?  Has this Q&A intrigued you?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!


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