Category Archives: MG

Guest Post – Henry VIII by Claire Fayers


Today I am super excited to have the wonderful Claire Fayers on Tales with a brilliant guest post to celebrate the release of Mirror Magic!

Mirror Magic was released on the 14th June 2016 published by Macmillan Children’s Books and is set to be a magical adventure.

Today Claire chats about Henry VIII in the fab guest post….


Welcome to Wyse, the only town left in Britain with a connection to the magical Unworld.

When Twelve-year-old Ava meets Howell on the other side of a mirror, the two are quickly drawn into a mystery to discover why the enchantments that link their towns are disappearing.

But it’s hard to distinguish between friends and enemies when magic is involved and Ava and Howell soon learn that it can be very unwise to mess with mirrors…


Henry VIII

Mirror Magic imagines a world exactly like our own but with one big difference – magic exists. Fairy mirrors connect us to the Unworld where the Fair Folk have promised to provide magical goods and services to anyone who asks.

The story starts in 1842, when most mirrors have stopped working and only one small town on the border of Wales and England still has access to the Unworld. The Wyse Weekly Mirror (expertly designed by Jess at Macmillan Children’s Books) gives an insight into daily happenings in the last town of magic.

But what of other time periods?

What might newspapers at the time of King Henry VIII have looked like, for example, if the King had had magic?

King Blames Unworld for Lack of Son

Following the birth of a daughter, King Henry VIII has blamed the fairy Unworld that he did not have a son. ‘Somebody has placed a fairy curse on me,’ he said, whilst glaring at his wife, Catherine.

The Queen denies this. Fairy magic cannot change reality and no spell exists that will turn a boy into a girl.

King Weds Unworld Wife

King Henry has shocked England by marrying his Unworld mistress, Anne Unboleyn, in a secret ceremony. The Pope has declared the marriage void, saying that the King’s previous marriage was not properly annulled. Even the King cannot just summon a fairy through a mirror and order an enchantment to unmarry him.

The King responded by saying that even if his marriage to Catherine of Aragon is still technically in force, the church doesn’t say anything about Unworld wives and therefore he can have as many as he likes.

Henry’s Son is a Daughter

Another scandal today as King Henry’s three-year-old son turned out to be a daughter. Queen Anne Unboleyn admitted that she has been using fairy enchantments to disguise the girl as a boy.

Prince Edward has now been renamed Princess Elizabeth.

Anne Boleyn Executed – Or Was She?

Anne Unboleyn, supposedly executed for treason against the King, may have escaped back to the Unworld instead.

Nobody knows, but as the King has already announced his next marriage to Jane Seymour – a woman of low birth but human at least – it is unlikely that we will be seeing Anne in England again.

Pope Rules Against Unworld Marriages

Marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman, ruled Pope Clement VII. Marriages therefore cannot take place between humans and Fair Folk.

King Henry has responded that he will marry anyone he likes, and he has proved it by annulling his marriage to his latest queen, Anne of Cleves, and preparing to marry yet another Unworld wife, Catherine Unhoward.

Fairytale Wedding Has Nightmare Ending

Another Unworld wife has betrayed the King. Queen Catherine Unhoward was found to be already married to an Unworld farmer. It is not know whether the King was more angry at the fact of her marriage, or the lowly status of her Unworld husband. The Queen tried to defend herself using the King’s own argument that Unworld marriages don’t count, but she was beheaded yesterday.

The King says he doesn’t intend to marry again.

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You can buy a copy of Mirror Magic here or from your local bookshop


About Claire Fayers

Claire Fayers was born and brought up in South Wales, an area of the country sadly deficient in dragons. Having studied English at University of Kent, Canterbury, she built a successful career writing short stories for women’s magazines until the lure of magic became too much and she wrote The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North. It was selected for Waterstones Book of the Month and shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Award 2016, and its sequel, The Accidental Pirates: Journey to Dragon Island, was published in 2017. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Claire at her allotment. Mirror Magic is her third book with Macmillan Children’s Books.

You can find out more about Claire on her website – www.clairefayers.com

Or why not follow Claire on twitter – @ClaireFayers


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Claire for such a fab guest post and to Karen asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Mirror Magic?  What did you think?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Inspirations by Christopher Edge


Today I am over the moon to welcome the fab Christopher Edge to Tales to celebrate the release of The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day.

The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day was released on the 5th April 2018 published by Nosy Crow and is another brilliant MG scientific jam packed adventure from the author of The Many Worlds Of Albie Bright and The Jaime Drake Equation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So today Christopher tells us a little about his writing inspiration in this fab guest post.

So sit back and enjoy …..


How do you know you really exist? It’s Maisie’s birthday and she can’t wait to open her presents. She’s hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house and outside the front door is nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive. And even that might not be enough… A mind-bending mystery for anyone who’s ever asked questions. From the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation. Cover illustration by Matt Saunders.


Writing Inspirations

Actually, I doubt it was to the day, but it was thirty years ago when I made the fateful decision to bunk off school and go along to a book signing by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean instead.

I was fourteen years old, just starting my GCSEs at a rather bleak comprehensive school in Salford. This was the kind of school where the P.E. teacher forced you to do press-ups in an icy puddle at the start of every lesson, Woodwork and Metalwork were mainly concerned with the production of concealed armaments, and Chemistry lessons a constant battle for control of the gas taps between the kids who wanted to blow up the Science block and those of us who wanted to live. It wasn’t the kind of school where authors popped in to chat about their latest books and reveal the secrets of the writing life.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know about authors; my brain was full to bursting with their names. I was the Incredible Book Eating Boy before Oliver Jeffers had even drawn him, devouring the shelves of my local library. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, John Wyndham, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Cormier, Ursula Le Guin. With every book I took out, a new favourite author could be discovered and I’d then eagerly seek out everything that they had written.

As well as books I loved comics, a passion born from my paper round. As I waited for the newsagent to load up my delivery bag, I flicked through old DC and Marvel comics on a spinner at the back of the shop, the worlds of these four-colour heroes a welcome escape from the slate-grey streets. Then when Saturday came around, I’d spend every penny of my wages on these comic books: Batman, Detective Comics, Daredevil, 2000AD. That newsagent must’ve loved me!

After a while though, I’d finally depleted his stock of comics and had to look further afield for a fresh source. I’d seen an advertisement in the pages of 2000AD for a comic shop called Odyssey 7 in Manchester. So one Saturday morning, leaving the paper shop with my wages in my pocket for a change, I jumped on the bus into town to search out this shop. Trudging down Oxford Road, I turned into the shopping precinct at Manchester University and entered an Aladdin’s Cave.

Odyssey 7 didn’t just have a single spinner filled with comics; it had boxes of them running down the central aisle of the shop. Flicking through them, I could see comics about every superhero I had ever heard of and dozens more that I hadn’t. Along the walls were posters, magazines, and on a section of shelves filled with large, glossy books, something called graphic novels. That’s where I discovered Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

I can’t remember what initially drew me to this book. Maybe it was the illicit promise of the title that appealed to my teenage mind. But when I picked it up and started to flick through the pages, I was entranced. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was like nothing I had ever read before. In black-and-white and without a superhero in sight, it was a story about childhood told in the most remarkable way. This wasn’t a comic book, this was something else. Leaving behind the handful of Batman comics I’d already picked up, I took the book to the counter and bought my first graphic novel.

Over the next week I must have read Violent Cases more than a dozen times, each time finding some new detail to obsess over. For those who haven’t yet read it, I won’t give away too much, but something in this story sang to me. Its depiction of the narrator’s memories of his childhood: a fuzzy and confusing world, where adults lied and the threat of violence was never far from the surface, fascinated and troubled me at the same time.

The next Saturday I was standing at the counter of Odyssey 7 again, and, using the same logic that had served me so well in the library, asked if they had any more books by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The man at the counter pointed me in the direction of a couple of new comic books, Black Orchid and the first issue of something called The Sandman, and then he told me something that changed my life.

“They’re coming in to do a signing next week.”

I looked up at the poster in the shop window. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean would be signing copies of Violent Cases, the book that had blown my mind, next Friday afternoon. It was incredible – here was a chance to meet a real live author and a fantastic artist too. There was only one problem. The only way I’d be able to get to the signing in time would be to bunk off school at lunchtime. I think the time of the signing was 2pm, enough time I reasoned to get the bus into town, get my new favourite author to sign my books (I’d now bought the first issues of both Black Orchid and The Sandman as well) and still get home before my mum got back from work. That way I could pretend that I’d been in school all day, just like normal.

That was the plan. When Friday arrived, I sneaked out of school as the lunchtime bell rang and caught the bus into town. But arriving at Odyssey 7 just before two in the afternoon, I discovered my plan’s first flaw. Outside the store a queue snaked across the shopping precinct and out onto Oxford Road. (Remember, this was a signing for his very first book – Lord knows what kind of monstrous wyrm a Neil Gaiman signing queue looks like nowadays!) Joining the back of the queue I slowly started to worry. With the speed the queue was moving at, there was no way I’d get back home in time to pretend I’d been in school all day. If I stayed put, I was going to be in trouble. Big trouble.

Standing around me in the queue were trench-coated university students, their comic books and graphic novels tucked under their arms. I was still wearing my school uniform, my copy of Violent CasesBlack Orchid and The Sandman shoved in the depths of my school bag. This was the only chance I’d ever have to meet the extraordinary people who had created these stories. I stayed in the line

Eventually, sometime after four I think, I made it inside the shop, the remnants of the queue now snaking around the central aisle and back up to the counter where two guys were seated, patiently signing each book that was thrust in front of them. They didn’t look much older than students themselves, but the face of one of them was strangely familiar. From my bag, I dug out my copy of Violent Cases and turned to the first page. There, staring out at me in black and white was the same face. This was Neil Gaiman.

It’s funny, I’m trying to remember now what happened next, but my memories are turning out to be as fragmentary as those of the narrator of Violent Cases. I don’t really remember getting to the front of the queue, can’t recall what I said when I handed over my books to Neil and Dave to be signed. But when I finally stepped out of the comic shop and started walking back to the bus station and the inevitable mountain of trouble I was in, I remember thinking one thing: I wanted to be a writer.

You can buy a copy of The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day here or from your local bookshop


About Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge is an award-winning children’s author whose books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

His novel The Many Worlds of Albie Bright won several children’s book awards including the Brilliant Book Award and was also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, as was his novel The Jamie Drake Equation, which was also selected by The Times as one of the best children’s books of 2017. His latest novel The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day was chosen by The Times as their Children’s Book of the Week and has been described as ‘out-of-this-world, edge-of-your-seat AMAZING!’ by Lauren St John.

His other books include the critically-acclaimed and award-winning Twelve Minutes to Midnight trilogy of historical mysteries, and he is also the author of How to Write Your Best Story Ever! and How To Be A Young #Writer, inspirational guides to creative writing for children and teenagers.

You can find out more about Christopher – christopheredge.co.uk

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @edgechristopher


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Christopher for a brilliant guest post and to Antonia and Nosy Crow for asking me to host, be part of the blog tour and of course for sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing For The Page vs Writing For The Stage by Guy Jones


Today I can’t wait to share a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Guy Jones in celebration of his gorgeous debut The Ice Garden.

The Ice Garden was released on the 4th January 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House as will sweep you away into a gorgeous middle grade world.

Today Guy chats to us about writing for the page vs writing for the stage….


Jess is allergic to the sun. She lives in a world of shadows and hospitals, peeking at the other children in the playground from behind curtains. Her only friend is a boy in a coma, to whom she tells stories. One night she sneaks out to explore the empty playground she’s longed to visit, where she discovers a beautiful impossibility: a magical garden wrought of ice. But Jess isn’t alone in this fragile, in-between place …


Writing For The Page vs Writing For The Stage

I think it was the writer Simon Stephens who likened playwrights to sculptors and novelists to painters. There’s something in that. Anyone who has ever been to the theatre will instinctively know when a line is overwritten – when it says too much. You can feel it go clunk in the auditorium. You can feel the audience squirm a little. So, like a sculptor, the playwright constantly chisels away at their slab of raw material until what’s left is the most economical way possible of saying what they want to say. The novelist, on the other hand, builds up in layers. An initial sketch is added to, coloured, scratched at, and textured until it resembles the thing that its meant to be.

The analogy isn’t perfect of course (and I spend just as much time cutting in novels as I do in plays), but it does feel just about right to me. Novels are broadly a process of addition while plays are one of subtraction. And this isn’t simply a dry, technical point, or a matter of word-count. The two mediums have inherent differences, one of the most important being that while a novelist writes directly for their audience – the reader – a playwright does not.

A playwright writes firstly for the director, actors and designers who will actually create the work that the audience see. Their work is mediated and built upon in ways that they may never have been able to visualise. For example, no stage set I’ve ever imagined looks even ten percent as good as what a professional designer came up with. And while the characters in my novel, The Ice Garden, still look the same in my head as they ever did, those in any plays I’ve written now look oddly like the actors chosen to play them.

Consider this line:

‘You made it at last,’ said Alice, her eyes flicking down to her wrist and mouth tightening.

 It’s fairly clear that someone is late and Alice is unhappy. So how could we do the same thing in a play?

ALICE              You made it at last. (She checks her watch and frowns)

 An actor or director would hate this (and you, as the writer). It’s their job to fill in the gaps, not yours. Just write ‘You made it at last…’ and let them worry about how to interpret the line and communicate the character’s intentions to the audience. You never know – Alice might actually be delighted, and that could take the scene in a far more interesting direction. Chisel away, in other words. Do less. A play script is a blueprint, not a finished building. It can’t be. Ever.

This doesn’t mean that writing a novel is a solitary pursuit. The input of trusted readers is invaluable. And an editor like the fantastic Kesia Lupo at Chicken House can fundamentally change the way you look at your story and raise it to levels that would have been impossible alone. But a published novel is the end point – it’s all the audience gets. Beyond the novel is only what the reader adds themselves, through their own imagination. A play script, on the other hand, is only the start…

THE ICE GARDEN by Guy Jones, out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

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


About Guy Jones

Guy was born in Botswana, grew up in Bedfordshire and now lives in St Albans with his wife and step-daughter.

He spent a decade writing for the theatre, including the West End musical Never Forget, before finally knuckling down to write a book.

The Ice Garden is his first novel.

Connect with Guy Jones on twitter @guyjones80 and find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com


A huge huge thank you to Guy for such a superb guest post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to host!

Have you read any of the The Ice Garden? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Stalwart Companions: The Detective And His Assistant by Robert J Harris


Today I am over the moon to be part of the brilliant blog tour to celebrate a brilliant mystery!

The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Vanishing Dragon by Robert J Harris was released on the 22nd March 2018 published by Kelpies and is the second book in this super sleuth series!

So today I have the man himself Robert J Harris telling us all about the detective and his assistant in this fab guest post….


One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all — Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. Artie and his friend Ham are hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen world-famous magician, the Great Wizard of the North. It seems someone is determined to sabotage his spectacular new illusion. When the huge mechanical dragon created for the show vanishes, the theft appears to be completely impossible. Artie must reveal the trick and unmask the villain or face the deadly consequences. The cards have been dealt, the spell has been cast, and the game is afoot once more!

Robert J. Harris, author of The World’s Gone Loki series and Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the second book of this ingenious new detective series.


Stalwart Companions: The Detective And His Assistant

It’s impossible to imagine Sherlock Holmes without the faithful Dr John H Watson at his side. Watson’s main function is to serve as the narrator of Holmes’ adventures. In this way we see Holmes through the eyes of a normal – but by no means dim – person who may lack Holmes’ eccentric brilliance but has other admirable qualities. He’s brave, honourable and – rather importantly  – he’s actually a very good writer.

By employing Watson as narrator, Conan Doyle keeps us outside Holmes’ mind. If Holmes were telling the stories, we would be able to follow his thoughts at every stage, and this would ruin the effect of his astonishing deductions. If the story was told simply in the third person, then the author would be cheating by keeping the main character’s thoughts hidden from us.

The fact that we follow the story from Watson’s point of view means that we share his bafflement at the bizarre cases as well as his amazement when Holmes reveals his deductions and solves the seemingly impossible mysteries.

But Watson serves another function. His stolid personality acts as a compliment to Holmes’ quirky character, and their relationship adds hugely to the richness of the stories.

In order to retain the spirit of the original Holmes stories it was important that the hero of The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries should have a companion; and so his friend Edward “Ham” Hamilton was born. He acts as a counterpart to Artie. While Artie’s keen to plunge into mist-covered graveyards in search of adventure, Ham would much rather be at home eating cakes. When Artie’s imagination causes him to come up with wild theories, Ham injects a sensible note of skepticism.

Throughout The Gravediggers’ Club Ham is dragged unhappily along behind the energetic Artie until he finally digs his heels in and refuses to continue. It’s at this point, in one of my favourite scenes, that Artie explains why he needs his friend and cannot solve the case without him. After this Ham becomes a more active agent in the investigation and by the end of the book he arguably becomes the true hero of the story.

In The Vanishing Dragon Ham is now suggesting that perhaps in the future the pair of them might become professional investigators. Artie doesn’t seem to see this as a practical plan for the future. But when the magician John Henry Anderson hires the boys to investigate a mystery, it looks as if Ham’s idea might not be so fanciful after all. Ham even comes up with his own plan for solving the impossible theft that sits at the heart of the book.

Later in the novel Ham even has a crack at writing up their adventures as Watson will one day record the cases of Sherlock Holmes. It is comically clear, however, that he does not have Watson’s literary gifts.

As with Holmes and Watson, the relationship between Artie and Ham adds hugely to the richness of the stories and I’m looking forward to watching both characters evolve as the series continues.

You can buy a copy of The Vanishing Dragon here or from your local book shop!


About Robert J Harris

Robert J Harris was born in Dundee and now lives in St Andrews with his wife, sons, and his dog. He is the author of many children’s books, including Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, and Leonardo and the Death Machine; and he is the creator of popular fantasy board game Talisman.


Blog Tour

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

#ArtieOnTour


A huge huge thank you to Robert for such a superb guest post and to Sarah at Kelpies for asking me to host!

Have you read any of the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Through Grief And Loss By Geoff Mead


Today we are celebrating this gorgeous book by Geoff Mead and Sanne Dufft, Bear Child.

Bear Child was released on the 22nd February 2018 published by Floris Books and is simply gorgeous through and through.

Today Geoff chats about writing to cope with loss in this wonderful, beautiful guest post…


‘Now that people live in towns and bears live in the woods, have you ever wondered what happened to the bear folk?’ At bedtime Ursula asks Daddy to tell her the tale of the bear folk: special beings who can choose to be either a bear or a person, depending if they want to catch a fish or read a book. Bear folk live extraordinary lives, he tells her. They are strong and clever, kind and loving, adventurous and creative — just like her. Will I ever meet one?, Ursula asks. Perhaps she already has… Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.


Writing Through Grief And Loss

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.

 So said Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen, in a 1957 New York Times interview. She knew a thing or two about sorrow, having lost her father to suicide, her husband to divorce, her health to syphilis, her lover to a flying accident, and her beloved Kenyan farm to bankruptcy.

When my wife Chris became ill in 2013 and died a year later from the effects of a brain tumour, I wrote – as Dinesen herself had written – because the story was all I had. Telling it was the only way I knew to bear the sorrow. From that impulse to write, came two books: a children’s story, Bear Child (Floris Books) and a memoir, Gone in the Morning: A Writer’s Journey of Bereavement (Jessica Kingsley Publishing).

In a sense, Bear Child is a love letter to my wife. The character of Ursula is exactly how I imagined Chris had been as a child. I wrote the story as a gift for her when she was already very ill, to celebrate her fiercely independent spirit and her lifelong love of bears, and to give her an image of homecoming that she could turn to as she came to the end of her life. After a spell in hospital, she died peacefully at home and Bear Child was one of the last things we spoke about.

Chris loved the story and it has been thrilling to see how Sanne Dufft’s illustrations have perfectly caught its joyful, life-affirming energy.

About a month after Chris died, I found myself writing poems and short pieces about my experience of grief for no other reason than a deep-seated need to express my feelings. Profound loss shakes us to our very core: we lose not just the person we have loved but also our own sense of identity. In the vortex of grief, everything is out of kilter: time itself becomes disjointed. I found that by writing, I could hold memories more lightly, pay more attention to what was happening in the present moment and capture fleeting glimpses of hopes and dreams for the future.

Bereavement and loss are inherent in the human condition. Much is known about our generalised pattern of response: shock – denial – anger – bargaining – depression – acceptance. Yet each person’s experience is unique. Each of us has to navigate our own way through the terra incognita of grief. Writing from our own experience enables us to honour this journey and to chart the course we have taken, even if we don’t know where we are going. I published Gone in the Morning, not to provide expert guidance but simply in the hope that readers struggling with their own bereavement might feel less alone.

In the three years since Chris died, I have written stories, poems and regular blog posts and all this writing has served me well. None of it has diminished the pain of losing her. Rather it has heightened my experience of grief and deepened my understanding of how conscious mourning keeps things moving. I have gone through the whole gamut of emotions, but I’ve never felt stuck. Piece by piece, I have negotiated the narrative wreckage of Chris’s death and begun to re-story my life.

Who are the bear folk and what makes them special?

Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.

Follow the rest of the #BearChild blog tour with Floris Books on Twitter and Instagram.

You can buy a copy of Bear Child here or from your local bookshop!


About Geoff Mead

Born into the post-war baby-boomer generation, Geoff was the first member of his family to go to university (and the first to drop out). He quickly returned to complete his studies in mediaeval history after a salutary period washing cars for a living. With not much idea of what he really wanted to do, he cut off his shoulder-length hair and joined the police service which he left three decades later as a chief superintendent.

During those years he did pretty much everything from walking the beat to directing national police leadership programmes and from commanding a police district to training with the F.B.I. in Virginia, U.S.A. En route he also found time to train as an organisational consultant, complete an MBA,a postgraduate diploma in Gestalt psychology, and a PhD in action research.

He has worked as an educator, executive coach and organisational consultant for nearly two decades in the boardrooms of blue chip companies, universities, public sector organisations and government departments. In recent years he has specialised in board development, group facilitation and the use of story and narrative in organisations. Geoff is Director of Narrative Leadership associates – a consultancy using storytellng to help develop sustainable lreadership.(www.narrativeleadership.com)

He was on the faculty of the Prime Minister’s Top Management Programme and has co-designed and led national leadership programmes for the Cabinet Office. He has published a wide range of book chapters and articles on aspects of organisational and leadership development, action research (and latterly on storytelling) in professional and academic journals.

Geoff has four grown up children, five grandchildren and an entirely unreasonable love of Morgan sports cars. He divides his time between his late wife’s house in the Cotswolds and Lyme Regis where he dreams and writes in sight of the sea.

About Sanne Dufft

Sanne has illustrated many children’s picture books, including The Shepherd Boy and the Christmas Gifts. She won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators European Conference Portfolio Content 2015. Her first authored book Magnus and the Night Lion will be available from Floris Books later in 2018.

You can find out more about Sanne on her website – sanne-dufft.de

Or why not follow her on twitter – @DufftSanne


Blog Tour

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

#BearChild


A huge huge thank you to Geoff for such a superb guest post and to CJ at Floris Books for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Bear Child? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Worst of Germs by Gwen Lowe


Today I am over the moon to have a fab post from Gwen Lowe author of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs!

Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs was released on the 1st March 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House and is set to be a fab laugh out loud middle grade!

Today Gwen chats to us about the worst germs…..


When Alice Dent gets a cold, she has no idea how much trouble it’s about to cause. Because this is no ordinary cold: it comes with some seriously weird side effects. For a start, Alice can’t stop giggling and every animal she meets sticks to her like glue! But when the mysterious Best Minister for Everything Nicely Perfect and his scary masked henchmen come to take her away, Alice realizes her troubles are only just beginning …


The Worst of Germs

In my other job, (the one where I’m a doctor fighting the spread of nasty diseases), I sometimes get asked which germs are the worst.

It’s a good question, but almost impossible to answer. You see, what we worry about professionally might surprise you. It’s not usually the exotic diseases that cause the most problems, but the everyday bugs surrounding us.

In some ways we think a bit like Mrs Dent, Alice’s mother in Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs. Mrs Dent always thinks in terms of what nasty infection she might catch from anything. Unlike us though, she takes this to extremes and puts in place ridiculous and drastic control measures. Nevertheless, the science underlying her fear is real.

For example, if Mrs Dent could bring herself to shake hands, she would check that the offered hand had been properly washed after using the toilet. Hands can carry a zoo of faecal germs, including E. coli O157, a nasty little microbe causing diarrhoea with blood in up to half the people made ill and serious kidney failure in around 1 in 10 infected children. As a double whammy, it spreads very easily – even from people who feel perfectly fine.

Then there’s campylobacter; a common cause of tummy upset. People shrug it off as “just food poisoning”, but it often puts sufferers in hospital, may cause painful arthritis, and occasionally causes serious paralysis that can last for months. It is easily avoided by not washing uncooked poultry and correct cooking, but I imagine that Mrs Dent would take the precaution of treating raw chicken like deadly poison every time she handled it.

So you might guess how she would feel about salads – excellent for passing on all sorts of germs. I imagine that rather than just washing salad leaves well, Mrs Dent would banish all lettuce from the house.

Mrs Dent certainly knows that the most infectious diseases (measles, flu and chickenpox) are spread by coughs and sneezes. It only takes a short conversation with someone in the early stages of the illness and wham, you’re exposed. I tend to glare at anyone coughing near me who doesn’t cover their mouth (and swiftly move seats), but the only real defence is vaccination. If these viruses are circulating there’s nothing else you can really do to dodge them (except perhaps to stay at home like Mrs Dent and banish all visitors).

Whilst we’re at it, there are lots of other precautions you might take to avoid catching horrible diseases. I could suggest only swimming in boringly rectangular pools well away from any toddlers (helps to avoid cryptosporidium), never touching furry animals (list of diseases too long to mention) and banning reptiles (may carry salmonella).

Still, that would take all the pleasure out of life, and I’d hate to do that. To be honest, unlike Mrs Dent, I’m happy to swim, shake hands, pat dogs and cook poultry: I just wash my hands well afterwards!

ALICE DENT AND THE INCREDIBLE GERMS by Gwen Lowe out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

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


About Gwen Lowe

Gwen Lowe is a consultant Public Health doctor in Wales who describes her job as being like a medical detective. Working with a special team, she has to urgently discover what is making people ill and then stop it before anyone else gets ill too. Previously, she has been a hospital doctor and a GP as well as a hotel washer-upper, a restaurant table clearer and a postwoman. Married with a daughter, over the years she has found herself spending time with ever-changing pairs of rescue guinea-pigs, the school rats, elderly hamsters and other little creatures.

You can follow Gwen on twitter – @gwenllowe


A huge huge thank you to Gwen for such a superb guest post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy


Today I am super excited to have the brilliant Vashti Hardy on Tales to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Brightstorm!

Brightstorm was released on the 1st March 2018 published by Scholastic and is set to be a thrilling adventure!

Today Vashti talks about what’s at the heart of Brightstorm in this fab guest post…


Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?


What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm (the character wants vs needs)

At the heart of every story are the things a character thinks they need and want, and the thing they actually need which they are unaware of, otherwise known as the lie and the truth. The story will have a tension between these things and the character arc and theme both centre on the inner conflict between this lie and truth.

When Arthur Brightstorm learns of the death of his father, he feels he’s lost the future, because of the way he’d seen things working out in life for the three of them – Ernest, Arthur and twin Maudie destined to sail sky-ships together as a family with Arthur navigating as second in command. This is exacerbated by the fact that Maudie’s future still seems so certain to him – he can see the gap that she fills in the world as her talents mean she is destined to be a great engineer, but for himself, Arthur can only see the gap left by his father’s death. What Arthur has to learn however, or his ‘truth’, is that his future is not lost it is just different, and he now needs to learn to ‘sail his own ship’. As Harriet tells him:

‘Control is an illusion. We never know what life will throw at us. You are the master of your destiny, Arthur, and you can still do those things. Your father is still with you inside.’

So whilst Arthur chases what he wants (the truth of what happened to his father), he also finds his inner truth even though he wasn’t looking for it; what he really needed was to learn that he still had a future, albeit a different one, but he had to go on the journey to see that he could continue to achieve this dreams in a world without his father. And by going on that journey he also finds something unexpected – a new unlikely family in the crew of the Aurora.

If you’re writing a story and are a bit stuck, try thinking about what your characters wants and needs are. Think about the tension between them and hopefully you’ll be well on your way to unlocking that all important story heart!

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


About Vashti Hardy

Vashti Hardy is a copywriter who lives near Brighton with her family. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University and previously studied on the Creative Writing Certificate at Sussex University. Very active on Twitter, she is an alumna of and mentor at the Golden Egg Academy.

You can find out more about Vashti on her website – www.vashtihardy.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @vashti_hardy 


Blog Tour

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


A huge huge thank you to Vashti for such a superb guest post and to Olivia for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read any of Brightstorm?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Faking Reality by Andy Briggs


Last Monday I launched an awesome giveaway on twitter to celebrate the release of the fourth and final book in this fast-paced adventure series packed with high-tech thrills from bestselling author Andy Briggs!

I’m proud to have supported Andy on his journey with the series and you can find previous posts from Andy listed below as well as details of the giveaway.

And today I have the man himself with a fab guest post about Faking Reality….

But first a little about the series…


Hidden under a small suburban town, the Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world has NEVER seen: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals, and the deadly war robot Iron Fist. Dev’s uncle, Charlie Parker, is the Inventory’s mild-mannered curator, with security provided by Eema, a beyond-state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system. But security is catastrophically breached when Lot and Mason from school turn up unexpectedly and, hot on their heels, a ruthless gang of thieves working for the Collector and the Shadow Helix organization. If the thieves succeed in their goal to seize the Iron Fist, Dev, his friends, and the world are in a whole heap of trouble.

Hidden under a small suburban town, the Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world is NOT ready for. In this sequel to Iron Fist, much of the Inventory’s technology has fallen into the wrong hands – including Newton’s Arrow, a powerful weapon that can manipulate gravity. It’s up to Dev and his friends to get it back, and they follow the weapon’s trail around the world. Along the way they learn the terrible truth about Newton’s Arrow’s capabilities . as well as disturbing details about Dev’s origins.

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third instalment of the Inventory series. The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn’t ready for, and it’s up to Dev, Lottie and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix’s next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities?

In the fourth book of this gripping series, the Inventory’s final secrets are revealed. Having learned a troubling truth about himself in the Black Zone of the Inventory, Dev is called back into action to defend the world’s greatest store of futuristic tech, and he’ll need all the help he can get from his friends. Someone has stolen Winter Storm, a swarm of powerful biobots, and is using them to infect and control people! Who can be trusted now?


Faking Reality

I was at a book festival organised by a school and it was all going very well… then we got to the audience Q&A section. You know the bit at the end when authors look around the room expectantly and nobody… nobody… has a single question. Then they start to come thick and fast and you have to stand with smile as you inwardly beg for mercy and the sudden end of the universe…

Well, that bit. One boy put up his hand and told me he thought some of the inventions in the Inventory were not believable and that ruined the story for him. He wanted them to be based a little more in the real world. On proper theories and science.

This was incredibly annoying. Mainly because a huge amount of the tech in the books have their origins entrenched in real science. Even the Portable Hole (thank you, quantum physics!).

I pointed out that when I was a lad, everything was in black and white and we didn’t even have the internet. That raised a gasp of astonishment from the brat… I mean, inquisitive reader. I informed him that the communicators in Star Trek stimulated the concept of the mobile phone – because they never existed when I was a kid. Gasp! And flying cars… ha, well, we actually did have them when I was a nipper….

Want to know how to blow the mind of a twelve year old? Show them this photograph of the Moller Skycar and tell them it’s not only real but it is older than they are. Boom!

Then, there’s the question of things such as Black Knight, which is the focus of the third Inventory book. Well, space elevators may not exist now, but the hard science is there. And Black Knight itself… well, spoiler alert, it’s real! Well, there is something in orbit they call Black Knight. Whether it’s an alien craft, an ancient space elevator, a piece of rocket debris or an astronaut’s lost glove – whatever it is, it certainly fuels conspiracy speculation.

I’m always looking out for real-world curveballs I can plant in my books. In Black Knight I introduce the Company of Merchant Adventurers, who also appear in the new WINTER STORM. And, yes, they are based on a real organisation. Okay, I may have embellished it quite a bit, but… (you can find out more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_of_Merchant_Adventurers_of_London).

Something I have always wanted to play around with was the notion of our missing moon. You may think we only have one moon… and you may be right. But as avid QI viewers will testify, there are theories and speculation that we have more… but I don’t want to tell you too much about that. I would rather you discover all about Lilith when you enter Winter Storm…

Even in the first book, IRON FIST, I gave the Collector’s thugs names that referenced famous inventors. I love planting these in-jokes, or Easter eggs, into my stories. It makes me chuckle to stumble over them… and yes, I am aware that I am probably the only one laughing. But, should you ever decide to re-read Dev’s adventures, maybe you should keep old Professor Google on standby because you never know when you might actually fall down a rabbit hole…

I mean, the ionocraft technology in Iron Fist. Just don’t, under any circumstance, try and look that up on YouTube. If you do, your brain might not be able to handle it…

Andy Briggs is the bestselling author of the gripping, tech adventure series The Inventory. Published by Scholastic, the fourth and final book in the series is Winter Stormout February 1st, it’s time to reveal all of The Inventory’s secrets.

You can buy a copy of Winter Storm or any of The Inventory series here or from your local bookshop


About Andy Briggs

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events. 

You can find out more about Andy on his website – www.andybriggs.co.uk

Or why not follow him on twitter using – @aBriggswriter


Previously On Tales…..

You can catch previous posts from Andy Briggs on Tales by clicking on the below links….

A Day In The Life Of An Author

Favourite Fictional Worlds

Spotlight – The Inventory Series


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 5 x sets of the complete Inventory Series to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

You can enter on my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 19/02/2018

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thanks to Sarah at Scholastic for having me on this fab tour and sending me a copy of the book and to Andy for such a fab guest post!

Have you read any books by Andy Briggs?  Does the Inventory Trilogy sound up your street?  Which was your favourite in the series?  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!

Guest Post – Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures by Sinéad O’Hart


Today I am thrilled to have the wonder Sinéad O’Hart on the blog to celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Eye Of The North.

The Eye Of The North was released today, 8th February 2018, published by the lovelies at Stripes – Happy Book Birthday Sinéad!

Basically if you like brilliant MG adventures then this book is perfect for you!

So today Sinéad is chatting about her Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures in this fab guest post….


Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.

Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too.

Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?

A dazzling fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of ROOFTOPPERS, THE UNCOMMONERS and A

SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

Top 5 Mythical / Legendary Creatures

Growing up in Ireland, I was raised on stories of the Fair Folk, or the Sídhe – the fairies who lived under the oddly-shaped hills you sometimes see in the middle of fields. Farmers avoid them; they’re never built on; cows are not allowed to graze on them. This is all because of the power of the Fair Folk who, despite their name, are not fair at all! Some say that when the Milesians drove the old gods out of Ireland, the Fair Folk were the few who got left behind. But who knows the truth?

I also love Norse mythology, and one of my favourite mythical creatures from that tradition is Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse belonging to Odin, the leader of the Norse gods. Odin was also called the All-Father, among lots of other names. I always thought it would be amazing to have a horse with eight legs – surely he’d be able to run twice as quickly as an ordinary horse! The Æsirsmounts in The Eye of the North, horses who are able to run on the surface of the ice (and do lots of other marvellous things, besides) are based on the idea of Sleipnir, Odin’s magical horse, though none of them (that I know of) have eight legs…

Dragons have long been one of my favourite mythical creatures. I love Smaug, the dragon in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit – but the first dragon I ever ‘met’ was Falkor, the luck dragon, from Michael Ende’s book The Never-Ending Story. It was made into a fabulous film when I was a little girl, and I loved watching him in that. I love the power and majesty of dragons in the Western tradition, and I particularly enjoy the fact that they’re seen as symbols of good luck and joy in the Eastern tradition.

I love giants. I don’t know why: perhaps it’s because I’m short and I wish I wasn’t! In the medieval texts I studied at university, there was a story about a giant who is kind and loving and compassionate towards animals, despite being huge and terrifying to look at. His outside doesn’t match his inside, and it was a lesson not to judge people by how they look. In Norse mythology, giants are skilled builders. And, of course, there’s Hagrid! Who doesn’t love him?

One of my favourite books of all time has a unicorn called Findhorn in it, and another film I loved when I was a small girl is also about unicorns. It was based on a book, too: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. There’s something wonderful and awe-inspiring about unicorns; they’re so beautiful, yet they have the potential to be deadly. They’re the wildest creature I can think of!

You can buy a copy of The Eye Of The North here or from your local bookshop!


About Sinéad O’Hart

Sinéad O’Hart was raised in a small house full of books in the south-east of Ireland. She has a degree in Medieval English and has had many careers (including butcher, bookseller and university lecturer) before finally following her dream of becoming a children’s author. She now lives in County Meath, near Dublin, with her husband, their daughter, and an ever-expanding book collection.

You can find out more about Sinéad on her website –  sjohart.wordpress.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @SJOHart


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Sinéad for such a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes for organising and asking me to host!

Have you read The Eye Of The North?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Becoming a Writer and How I Write by Frida Nilsson


Today is my stop on The Ice Sea Pirates blog tour and I am totally thrilled!

The Ice Sea Pirates was released on the 1st January published by Gecko Press and is an  “adventure of icy seas and cold-blooded pirates, wolves, mermaids and the bravery of one girl determined to save her sister”.

Today I have the author herself with a fab guest post all about writing….


The cold bites and the sea lashes in this page-turning adventure on the ice seas. No one but ten-year-old Siri dares to face treacherous sailors, hungry wolves and the arctic winter to save her younger sister from the dreaded Captain Whitehead and his ice sea pirates. 


THE ICE SEA PIRATES been nominated for five Swedish awards (including the August Prize) and has won three of them. Now the novel is finally available in English, with beautiful cover and illustrations by Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize shortlisted illustrator and author, David Barrow of Have You Seen Elephant?

With a strong girl hero, dramatic landscape and compelling episodic adventure, it’s the perfect read for fans of Rooftoppers and The Girl of Ink & Stars and is set to become a modern children’s classic in the UK.


Becoming a Writer and How I Write

When I was about twenty, I really wanted to become an actress. I applied at acting schools without success, so just for the chance to be film stars, my friend and I wrote our own script for a short film. My boyfriend back then was a media student and was given the job of cameraman. We ended up winning a local film competition. In the jury were two TV and radio producers, who asked me if I wanted to write and produce children’s radio for them. I said yes! But after this it actually took some years before I really started to enjoy writing and realised that I wanted to be an author. My first book was published in 2004.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES I spent hours and hours at the big library in Stockholm, and online, to get it all right. When THE ICE SEA PIRATES was made into a drama by Swedish radio, they put in a sea lion, but I insisted they had to take it out because there are no sea lions in the northern hemisphere. They thought it wasn’t important because my world was made up, with mermaids and bogle birds. But the mermaids and the bogle birds weren’t random; I took a lot of care creating this world. The mermaids, for instance, are a mix between walrus and human, and the bogle birds I found on a website about prehistoric animals (Walrooster). These bogle birds had toothed beaks and ate stones so they would become heavy enough to reach the bottom of the sea to find food.

I plan my work very well. The most important question you must ask yourself when you start writing is: What do I want to say? After that I come up with the characters, the beginning and the end. Then I can start writing and the time-consuming part is to find the road between beginning and end.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES by Frida Nilsson out now in paperback (£6.99, Gecko Press)

You can buy a copy of The Ice Sea Pirates here


About Frida Nilsson

Frida Nilsson is a leading Swedish author who has been an August Prize nominee three-times and won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was selected as one of Europe’s best emerging writers for young people through the Hay Festival’s Aarhus 39. Her books have been translated throughout Europe and nominated for the prestigious Youth Literature Prize in Germany and several literary awards in France.

Nilsson’s writing is characterised by humour and sincerity. She writes about the big questions in life—friendship, death and love—and has been compared to Roald Dahl and
Astrid Lindgren.

About Gecko Press

Gecko Press, an independent publisher based in Wellington, New Zealand selects the best children’s books from around the world, by internationally award-winning authors and illustrators. Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Frida for such a fab guest post and to Laura at Gecko for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read The Ice Sea Pirates?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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