Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – 5 Books About Being Different by Rob Stevens

 


Today I have a fab guest post from the super Rob Stevens!

Lucky Break was released on the 3rd May 2018 published by the fab Andersen Press and is an hilarious comedy of errors that also touches on unlikely friendships, grief and mental health.

Today Rob shares his top five books about being different….


Leon’s twin, Lenny, had the best imagination in the world. He could do a back flip from a standing start and tell rude jokes nonstop for hours. But a year ago Lenny died, and Leon’s family hasn’t been the same since.

When a new boy, Arnold, starts at Leon’s school, he has no idea what to think: Arnold doesn’t understand jokes, sarcasm is lost on him and he can be completely blunt. Leon has never met anyone like Arnold before, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. Before long things start to get seriously bonkers, and the two boys are breaking windows, accidentally holding up a bank and getting arrested after a disagreement with a baguette.

But amidst all this madness, can Awkward Arnold actually help Leon to sort his life out?


5 Books About Being Different

My new book, ‘Lucky Break’ is about an unlikely friendship between Leon and Arnold, who is far from your typical teenager. As their friendship develops, Leon learns that the very characteristics that make Arnold so different are the same ones that make him so special.

Here are my five favourite books celebrating children who are struggling to fit it.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The original in this hilarious series about the angst-ridden teenager who would go on to become Prime Minister

Wonder – a moving story about a boy who is destined to stand out because of the way he looks

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – The brilliantly funny and moving story of an autistic boy investigating the death of his neighbour’s dog

Lion – an incredible story about Saroo’s journey from being a street kid in India to growing up in an adoptive family in Australia

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – because you can’t be much more different than being a boy wizard!

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


About Rob Steven

Rob Stevens is a British Airways Captain who does most of his writing in hotel rooms around the world. His first book, ‘The Mapmaker’s Monsters: Beware the Buffalogre!’ was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2009.


A huge thank you to Rob for a fab guest post and to Harriet at Andersen for asking me to host!

Have you read Lucky Break?  What did you think?  What are your favourite part?   Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Guest Post – Tender – The Book That Made Me Cry by Eve Ainsworth

 


Today I am thrilled to be sharing a fantastic guest post from one of my favourite UKYA authors, Eve Ainsworth.

Tender was released on the 1st March 2018 and is Eve’s fourth YA and is another thought provoking read which Eve does so brilliantly.

Today Eve tells us a little about Tender – the book that made her cry….


Touching on mental health, family, friendship and the pressures that teenage carers face, as author Cat Clarke says, TENDER is “a compassionate, compelling and unflinching novel”.

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?


Tender – The Book That Made Me Cry

I’m often asked why I decide to write the book that I do, or why I chose to explore a particular theme. It’s never a ‘light bulb’ moment where I wake up one morning and think ‘That’s it! That is the book I must write next.” But it’s more of an organic, gradual thing that grows slowly in my mind. Usually the seed begins with a character. A character is born in my imagination and through them, through their background and experiences, the themes will develop.

Even while I was writing Damage, I had this other voice fighting for my attention. It was a boy and it was strong. I made some notes. I quickly worked out that this male voice was a bit of a mash up of someone I used to know and a person that I would like to know. He was loud and argumentative, but he was warm too. And he had challenges. I realised that this boy was someone who put other people before himself.

From this, the idea of young carers developed.

I had worked with young carers before and they had inspired me, mainly because of their stoic and selfless attitudes. These were the young people that often struggled without complaint. They could have huge pressures at home, but they didn’t talk about it much. To them, this was their normality and the need to keep their family ‘going’ and not be a further burden was their priority.

Once I knew I was going to write about young carers I met up with one of my ex-students. She had been an excellent pupil, never been in trouble, never really got herself noticed by senior staff. But when we met, she told me more honestly about how day-to-day school life had been a struggle and how she seemed to be ‘managing’, but inside she was often anxious and worried. Her saviour, her positive outlet had been Young Carers’ sessions where she could meet other teenagers in a similar situation to hers – where she could be free from pressure, be silly, have fun. Be young!

Around the same time I was talking to a close friend. We had had children at the same time. But sadly for my friend, her youngest son had been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy from a young age. Through my friend, I not only learnt to understand the pressures she was under – but also the pressures her entire family were under as they constantly cared and worried about this young boy. Through this, the character of Daisy was born. Daisy is a caring, resilient girl – but she is being torn apart by the worry caused by her brother’s ill health.

Quickly Daisy and Marty became my main characters, both telling their versions of what ‘caring’ can mean and how this impacts on their lives. They meet each other and this has a huge influence on how they move forward.

Tender was a book that made me cry over and over. It covers such emotional subjects that I had to take occasional short breaks. It hits home that what I’m writing is something that people are actually experiencing in real life. It can be hard going, but whatever happens these characters, these people, keep fighting on.

The developing romance between Daisy and Marty was also something new for me – but I was keen to have an uplifting and positive theme in the book too and I ended up loving these two so much – I found it quite hard to let them go.

 Tender is a book about resilience and hope. It’s about loving and fighting for the people you care for, but also that its important to find time to love yourself.

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


About Eve Ainsworth

Eve Ainsworth is a writer of Adult and YA fiction. She also loves tea (lots of it), 80’s music and most things relating to David Bowie.

Seven Days, Eve’s Young Adult debut, was published by Scholastic Uk in Feb 2015. Crush followed in 2016. Eve’s latest YA novel, Damage was published in March 2017. All of her novels explore real life, contemporary issues that are relevant to teens.

Eve has also self published The Blog of Maisy Malone, which is an adult comedy novel that has received pleasing reviews on Amazon.

Eve has had short stories published in magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Prima.

You can find out more about Eve on her website –  www.eveainsworth.com

Or follow her on Twitter @EveAinsworth


A huge thank you to Eve for a fab guest post and asking me to host!

Have you read Tender?  What did you think?  What are your favourite part?  Have you read any of Eve’s other books?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Guest Post – See Life In The Secret Deep (Sea What I did there?) by Lindsay Galvin

 


I am HUGELY honoured to have the wonderful Lindsay Galvin here on Tales today with a brilliant blog post to celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Secret Deep.

The Secret Deep was released on the 2nd August published by the amazing Chicken House and is beautiful and gripping and will keep you enthralled throughout.

I’ve known Lindsay mainly via twitter for a few years now and when I heard that she was getting her debut published I was so over the moon for her so to have her featured on my blog today is very special indeed.

Find out more about sea creatures in this fantastic guest post….


About The Book

When Aster wakes alone on a tropical island, she has no idea what has happened, why she is there, or where to find her younger sister, Poppy. Meanwhile Sam, who once met the sisters on a plane, makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, the truth unravels with devastating effect – and the answer lies in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island, populated by the beautiful and the impossible …


See Life In The Secret Deep (Sea What I did there?)

I have always been fascinated by animals in the wild and am the biggest David Attenborough fan. Even more so since I spent so much time diving in the waters around Thailand when I lived there ten years ago. Researching sea life for The Secret Deep was a joy… and a form of legitimate procrastination. Introducing some of my sub aqua stars and what they mean to story:

Manta Ray 

I can’t wait for you to meet the giant oceanic manta rays in THE SECRET DEEP. I’ve never come across a story that featured these gentle giants and would love to know if you have. These blanket shaped beauties can grow up to 7 metres across with a weight of 1350 kg but their size isn’t the only thing that makes them perfect for the story.

Manta (and mobula) rays have the largest brains of all 32,000 species (approximately) of fish known to date. They display intelligent behaviour.

One test of intelligence is to find out if an animal can gaze into a mirror and know it’s themselves they see. Gorillas, leopards, dogs, and cats, for example believe that their reflection is just another animal looking back. Nonhuman animals that have been observed to pass the mirror test include bonobos, chimps, dolphins, elephants, and some birds. And manta rays.

In all my scuba dives I have never seen a manta and diving with them is on my bucket list. They are so different to us, yet have huge brains and who knows what they are thinking? In THE SECRET DEEP they represent a link between wildness and humanity and how it is possible for there to be harmony between living things no matter how different they are. A lesson that certain characters in the story certainly need to learn…

Seahorse

Seahorses have a reputation as cutest animals in the ocean and I am lucky enough to have seen them in the wild, so can confirm this. They are famous for mating for life and the male seahorse carries the babies. But what I love the most is that new baby seahorses, each about the size of a little finger nail, find other baby seahorses and float together in small groups, clinging to each other using their tails.

So adorable it hurts; I had to include them in THE SECRET DEEP.

When main character Aster rescues a seahorse that floats free of its family, what she actually needs to learn is how to rescue herself.  Look though…there’s four seahorses in this photo and they are…ridiculous.

Puffer fish

When divers first discovered beautiful patterns on the seabed; intricate concentric circles raised in the sand that look like mandala designs, no-one could figure out what had made them. Turns out it was a tiny puffer fish, building a nest of sand to attract a mate. And I got to thinking that if this fish could do that, than anything is possible if you swim deep enough. When I first saw these amazing creatures on BBC footage I knew they had a place in my story.

Look closely and you’ll see the dinky builder right in the centre of his sand palace.

Shark

I would love to write a story one day where sharks are friends. Because they are beautiful, endangered and unfairly maligned. But THE SECRET DEEP is not exactly that story. They are magnificent creatures but fearsome predators and can’t be blamed if certain characters in books rudely wander into their territory smelling distinctly like dinner…

Jellyfish

I spent some glorious hours (I’m a sea-geek, okay?) finding out about these beasts. Box jellyfish are gorgeously terrifying with their four eyes, ability to follow their prey and deadly sting. I mean, why create characters you adore if you aren’t going to confront them with a lethal jellyfish swarm?

I could go on. What are your favourite sea-creatures and why? I would love to geek out with you.


THE SECRET DEEP is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

You can buy a copy here or from your local bookshop


About Lindsay Galvin

Lindsay was lucky enough to be raised in a house of stories, music, and love of the sea. She left part of her heart underwater after living and working in Thailand where she spent hundreds of blissful hours scuba diving. Forced now to surface for breath, she lives in sight of the chillier Sussex sea with her husband and two sons. When she is not writing, she can be found reading, swimming or practicing yoga. She has a degree in English Language and Literature, is fascinated by psychology and the natural world, and teaches Science. Lindsay hadn’t written creatively since childhood until the idea for her debut novel The Secret Deep splashed into her mind, and now she’s hooked.

Connect with Lindsay on Twitter: @lindsaygalvin

Find out more at lindsaygalvin.com and chickenhousebooks.com


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lindsay for such a fab blog post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read The Secret Deep?  What did you think?  What are your favourite part?  What are your favourite sea creatures?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Guest Post – Why Did I Choose To Write An Elizabethan Fantasy by L J MacWhirter

 


Today I am super happy to have a fab post from L J MacWhirter to celebrate the release of her Elizabethan fantasy Black Snow Falling.

Black Snow Falling was released on the 1st August 2018 published by Scotland Street Press and is a story of hope overcoming evil.

I was super intrigued by the premise of this book and wanted to know why Liz chose an Elizabethan fantasy to write….


About The Book

In 1592, a girl with spirit is a threat. Ruth has secrets. An old book of heresy belonging to her long-absent father. A dream that haunts her. And love that she and Silas hide from the world.

Black Snow Falling is an Elizabethan fantasy for young adults and up by L.J. MacWhirter. It’s about a spirited and privileged girl, Ruth, who has so much to lose as monstrous sexism traps her. When she is robbed of all she holds true, her friends slide into terrible danger. Hope is as faint as a moonbow. Dare Ruth trust the shadowy one who could destroy them all?

This is a story about hope overcoming evil, written with satisfying moral complexity. It draws on the author’s fascination with the inner workings of minds and mechanical machines. It’s about staying fixed or spinning out.

As a child, her engineer father introduced her to science and the vast machines of the industrial revolution. On a trip to Florence many years later, she saw a mechanical Armillary Sphere, made for the Medicis in the 1500s, which embodied the long-held belief that the earth was at the centre of the heavens. Early science, in opposition to this dominant view, was cast as heresy. Together with the misogynist sexism of the time, it became the setting for this thriller. 


Why Did I Choose To Write An Elizabethan Fantasy?

Thanks to the lovely Chelle of Tales of Yesterday for hosting my guest blog!

So the question Chelle posed was, why did I choose to write an Elizabethan fantasy? The simple but most puzzling answer is that IT chose me. Let me explain in three chunks.

  1. It started with the fantasy idea. And that idea came to find me right here.

Glen Etive. It’s right beside the better-known Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland. I was I was there volunteering for Venture Scotland, a charity that helps young people who’ve had the toughest starts in life.

 As we jumped streams and hiked through the heather, one young man was sharing his plans for the future – he’d love to be a gardener. It struck me that he’d suffered things that most of us may never have to cope with, and yet he still had hope for the future. It was visceral and tangible. As I listened, I found myself wanting nothing more to happen that could snatch his hope away… a chilling What If? struck me.

 What if dreams were actual physical entities that could be snatched away?

 What if there were evil forces at work, stealing these hopes and dreams? They would be dream thieves. In life’s darkest moments, isn’t that how it feels?

 2. The Elizabethan part came after the fantasy idea. I grew up in Cheshire, where you can’t escape all the Tudor halls. So I was already well aware of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. I’ve always admired this woman for holding on to her throne despite endless marriage proposals and assassination attempts!

I decided to locate my story at the same time as this important queen. In fact, Ruth, my main character, has actually met her (maybe that was an unconscious fantasy of my own!). So many interesting things were taking place in the 16th century that it makes a fantastic context for dreams being stolen. What’s more, less needed to happen for my characters to lose hope.

So, bluntly, it would be easier for readers to relate to Ruth, because what happens to her happens to all of us. Haven’t we all been heartbroken or betrayed? When we let someone else down, it feels awful – what do we do?

  1. I was round at my mum’s, giving her my first signed copy of the book on Publication Day (yay!), and I took this quick pic. Black Snow Falling is resting on this Tudor box that my family bought sometime, somewhere. I’ve always really loved it. It used to hold games in it when we were little, so I was always opening and closing it and thinking about how ancient it was.

Perhaps the story about my Elizabethan Ruth and those evil forces just popped out of here?

Stories are magical, aren’t they?

Black Snow Falling is available now everywhere online and in good bookshops. Please vote for it in the EIBF First Book Award.


About L J MacWhirter

L.J. MacWhirter was born just outside London, grew up in the North of England and today lives in Edinburgh with her husband and family. The stories started as soon as she could write. Black Snow Falling is her debut novel.

L.J. MacWhirter will be speaking about ‘Feisty Fantasy’ with Alice Broadway at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday 11 August at 18.30.

Why not follow L J MacWhirther on twitter – @LizMacwhirter


A huge thank you to Mariarita at Scotland Street Press for asking me to host and to Liz for such a fantastic piece for the blog.

Have you read Black Snow Falling?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  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 – My Top Five Excuses Not To Write by Penny Joelson

 


Today I am over the moon to have the wonder Penny Joelson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her new YA Girl In The Window.

Girl In The Window is due to be released on the 9th August 2018 published by Electric Monkey and is set to be an eye opening compulsive page turner that will have you hooked.

I often wonder how writers motivate themselves as it’s often easy to procrastinate (*cough at myself who instead of writing today scrolled through twitter*) so today Penny shares her top 5 excuses not to write…..


About The Book!

See the world from another unique perspective in the thrilling new novel from the author of I Have No Secrets (a World Book Day title for 2018).

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her illness makes her spend days stuck at home, watching the world from her bedroom window. So when she sees what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes . . .

There was a girl in the window opposite – did she see something too? But when Kasia goes to find her she is told the most shocking thing of all.

There is no girl.


My Top Five Excuses Not To Writ

  1.  I only started using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram when I was writing ‘I Have No Secrets’. Now I, like many others, am guilty of spending far too long on these things. It is a wonderful feeling when you look at Twitter and see that someone has commented excitedly about how much they love your book. It is hard not to keep looking for ‘mentions’ or ‘retweets’.

2.  I get lots of lovely emails – especially from schools about visits as well as important emails from my editors, publicity team and my agent. I get many less important emails too – but it is hard not to keep checking in case something interesting comes.

3.  Goodreads, Amazon, Blogs. I was warned against looking at these things too much but again I am drawn to them and sometimes find the pull too tempting.

4.  I am very disorganised. Often the one piece of paper where I wrote some notes or the particular notebook I was using have disappeared under a pile and I just can’t get on with writing until I have found it.

5.  I love my family very much, but they require attention – things like meals (I can’t think why!) often at moments when I am most inspired to write. They also require taking and fetching from swimming lessons, Brownies etc. They even want clean clothes!

You can buy a copy of Girl In The Window here or from your local bookshop!


About Penny Joelson

Penny Joelson’s debut novel, I Have No Secrets, was a World Book Day 2018 title and won the Worcestershire Teen Book Award. Penny has loved reading and writing stories since she was a child and began working with disabled people when she was a teenager, which gave her inspiration for her first novel I Have No Secrets.  Penny teaches creative writing and lives in Hertfordshire with her family.

Find Penny on Twitter: @pennyjoelson


A huge thank you to Siobhan at Electric Monkey for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and to Penny for such a fab guest post!

Have you read Girl In The Window?  What did you think?  What did you love about it?  What are your excuses not to write or blog?  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 – 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 – Endings & Beginnings by Victoria Williamson


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Victoria Williamson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle was released on the 19th April published by the lovelies at Kelpies and is set to be a beautiful moving story that will keep you gripped until the last page.

So today Victoria chats about endings and beginnings in this fab guest post…


Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she’s lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn’t the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love.

Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson’s stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked ‘where do I belong?’


Endings and Beginnings

‘In the beginning…’

‘Once upon a time…’

‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’

Growing up, writing the start of a story seemed easy. I’d just pick one of the standard phrases copied from a fairy story or a film, and I’d be off on my adventure straight away without having to worry about character backstory or beginning with a bang.

Writing as an adult is a little trickier.

There are so many prescribed ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for writing fiction it’s amazing any of us get the first paragraph of a book written at all! Most of the advice focuses on what we’re not supposed to do:

• Don’t begin with a lengthy scene setting
• Don’t start with character backstory
• Don’t start with a description of past events
• Don’t start with an ordinary, everyday situation

And one of the biggest ‘don’ts’ I’ve heard a million times:

• Don’t start with a character other than your protagonist

So how do you begin a story when your book is dual narrative and your two main characters are equally important?

In The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, both Caylin and Reema tell the story from their own unique perspectives.

Caylin has lost her grandparents, and with her mother’s depression turning to alcoholism, she resorts to bullying other children for money and stealing to keep food on the table. She longs for the past when her grandparents were alive and she was part of a loving family. Her grandmother was a talented athlete, and Caylin keeps her memory alive through her passion for running.

Reema runs to remember too. She’s lost everything in the Syrian war, including her older brother Jamal, and she’s struggling to fit in and feel safe so far from home. Her memories of running through the streets of Aleppo after school with Jamal are bound up in the headscarf he bought her, and she clings on tightly to this as a symbol of everything she has lost and hopes to recover.

The way I chose to unite these two very different girls and begin their story, was by creating a metaphor for them, in the form of an injured urban fox they care for and come to call Hurriyah – ‘Freedom’ in Arabic.

Despite their different cultural backgrounds, both girls have suffered loss and are searching for a sense of belonging. Hurriyah’s own sense of loss over her dead mate, destroyed den and injured leg which prevents her from running, hunting and caring for her vulnerable cubs mirrors the girls’ struggles to overcome their own sad experiences.

So Hurriyah begins their story for them, her poems woven through the narrative to remind the reader that the girls want to feel both the safety of a permanent, settled home life, and the freedom to be themselves.

The ending of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle however, proved harder to write. Not because I wasn’t sure how to wrap up the story, but because it’s always hard for an author to let go of characters who have been a big part of their life for so long. It’s almost like saying goodbye to old friends you’re never going to get a chance to talk to again.

One of the things all of my favourite books had in common when I was a child was the sense of loss I felt when I reached the last page and the story ended. Despite the serious issues involved, Caylin and Reema’s story is an adventure, and I’d like my readers to relate to these characters, and to feel invested in their quest to save the foxes and win their school a medal in the sports competition. I suppose the test of whether my book has had the intended impact on the reader is if they feel a little bit of the same sense of loss as me when they reach the last page and find they’ve come to end of Caylin and Reema’s journey too.

But I also wanted to end on an uplifting note. Hurriyah the fox’s refrain from the start of the story: ‘This is not home. It hurts,’ morphs into something far more hopeful at the end of the book when both Caylin and Reema realize that home isn’t a place, it’s the people you love.

That’s why I chose to end the story with an ellipsis instead of a full stop. The book may be stand-alone without a planned sequel, but the journey isn’t over for Caylin, Reema and Hurriyah. They’ve found friendship, belonging, and the sense of freedom they’ve been searching for, and so despite the fact that the book has ended, their adventures are only just beginning…

You can buy a copy of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle here or from your local bookshop


About Victoria Williamson

Victoria Williamson grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked as an educator in a number of different countries, including as an English teacher in China, a secondary science teacher in Cameroon, and a teacher trainer in Malawi.

As well as degrees in Physics and Mandarin Chinese, she has completed a Masters degree in Special Needs in Education. In the UK she works as a primary school special needs teacher, working with children with a range of additional support needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, physical disabilities and behavioural problems.

She is currently working as a full time writer of Middle Grade and YA contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on creating diverse characters reflecting the many cultural backgrounds and special needs of the children she has worked with, and building inclusive worlds where all children can see a reflection of themselves in heroic roles.

Victoria’s experiences teaching young children in a school with many families seeking asylum inspired her debut novel, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, an uplifting tale of redemption and unlikely friendship between Glaswegian bully Caylin and Syrian refugee Reema.

Twenty percent of her author royalties for The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle are donated to the Scottish Refugee Council.

You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and upcoming events on her website: www.strangelymagical.com


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle?  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 – Aunty Vimala’s Rules by Savita Kalhan


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Savita Kalhan on Tales to celebrate the release of The Girl In The Broken Mirror!

The Girl In The Broken Mirror was released on the 1st May 2018 published by Troika Books and this fab YA is set to break your heart.

Today Savita is sharing a fab extract / guest post from the book with Aunty Vimala’s Rules….


Jay’s creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with they lived happily ever after . But the way her life is panning out she s not sure it will ever reach that stage. She and her mother are moving in with distant relatives, and they have super strict rules for girls. Jay is expected to have only Indian friends, if she has any at all. How can she see her school friends, Chloe and Matt? But this is only the beginning of a nightmare for Jay. When her life implodes, how can she hide the shame and how will she find a way to keep going?


Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today and being part of the amazing fourteen stop blog tour! It’s so exciting to be here – and to have a new book out! I’m thrilled that The Girl in the Broken Mirror is in readers’ hands. It was published by Troika Books on May 1st and I still haven’t stopped smiling.

The Girl in the Broken Mirror is about Jay, who’s fifteen, and a terrible trauma that happens to her. It’s about her journey after the trauma and how she finds help. It’s also about a huge culture clash – Jay has had a liberal upbringing, but suddenly she has to move in with distant relatives who have super-strict ideas of what a girl can do and cannot do. Imagine having to live there for a few years, with little contact with your own family, and where school is the only freedom you are allowed.

That’s what Jay, the main character of The Girl in the Broken Mirror, is faced with!

Jay moves in with her Aunty Vimala at No 42 Primrose Avenue. She has been given the room in the basement, and her mum has been given the room in the attic. She’s also been given a huge set of rules…

Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Girls must be able to cook.

Girls must do all the cleaning and washing.

Girls must dress demurely.

Girls must not talk to boys.

Girls should not go out – no sleepovers, no hanging out with friends, no wasting time.

The rules are out of place in the UK in the 21st Century. They should be out of place everywhere.

Aunty Vimala’s Other Rules

Never wash your hair on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays.

Never leave your shoes upside down.

Never taste the food you are cooking with the stirring spoon.

Never shake the pickle jar when you have your period.

Never whistle after six o’clock.

These are just a few of Aunty Vimala’s other rules. They are part religious, part tradition, and part superstition. And all of them are alien to Jay and her upbringing. She struggles to fit in with this new lifestyle, but at the same time she knows that she has to – her and her mum have nowhere else to live.

Thank you so much for inviting me here today.

I hope you all love the book

You can buy a copy of The Girl In The Broken Mirror here or from your local bookshop!


About Savita Kalhan

I was born in my grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. The family home has been transformed into an amazing charity hospital, which is pretty cool. I moved with my parents from that small village in India to a small town in Buckinghamshire when I was 11 months old. No, I’ve never got used to the cold or the damp or the rain!

I went to uni in Aberystwyth, where the winters were colder and the seas stormy, and got happily stuck there for a few years before heading to London and life as an impoverished batik artist, before taking the plunge and getting married in Manila. Then I headed off to the desert heat of the Middle East where I lived and taught English for several years, read like a demon, and started writing.

I’ve never stopped writing. I hope I never do.

Now, I’m in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from my allotment where I fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where I slug a few balls, and my writing shed at the bottom of the garden where I write.

Savita loves to hear from my readers and she is happy to answer any questions about herself or the book!

You can find out more about Savita on her website –  www.savitakalhan.com

Or why not follow Savita on twitter –  @savitakalhan.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Savita for getting in touch and asking me to host this fab post.

Have you read ?  What did you think?  Was it what you expected?  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 – I Was Born For This YA Playlist by Alice Oseman


Today I am super excited to have the phenomenal Alice Oseman on Tales to celebrate the release of her new fantastic YA, I Was Born For This.

I Was Born For This was released on the 3rd May 2018 published by Harper Collins Children’s and the reviews that I’ve already seen prove that this is a book not to be missed!

Also check out these beautiful redesigns of Alice’s two previous YA books…..as well as being fantastic they are simply gorgeous!

 So today Alice is sharing another song from her #YAPlaylist for I Was Born This Way and I am sharing a song from my playlist too….


The third novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most talked about YA writers in recent years.

For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.

But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

A funny, wise, and heartbreakingly true coming of age novel. I Was Born for This is a stunning reflection of modern teenage life, and the power of believing in something – especially yourself.


YA Playlist

Alice

Heavydirtysoul – Twenty One Pilots

I included a Twenty One Pilots song in my I Was Born for This playlist because they’re one of the closest bands to how I imagine The Ark sound! Also, ‘Heavydirtysoul’ has lyrics that reflect some of Angel’s feelings towards The Ark. “Can you save my heavy dirty soul” is completely how Angel feels towards The Ark – she looks towards them to solve all of her problems by distracting her from thinking about anything in her own life.

Chelle

Buddy Holly by Weezer

Believe it or not it took me a long time to pick just one song to feature on this post.  Like many of us music to me is so symbolic of different moments in time throughout life and represents so many different feelings…. feelings of love, hurt, friendship, breakups, a particular time and maybe a particular memory.  For me that is what the song Buddy Holly by Weezer represents.  In fact it encompasses and reminds me of so many of these feeling and memories that it makes me feel quite emotional listening to it now a days.

I was 14 or 15 when this song came out at the time I was very much into grunge idolising Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl from Nirvana with all of my teenage angst and then this funky fun rock song came along and I was so on board that fandom!   It was one of the first songs I learnt to play on the guitar with my friend Katie and we even plucked up the courage to enter a competition playing and singing along to it.  The two of us up on the stage with our amps, microphones and guitars nervous, but loving life.  Unbelievably we came second place!  This song gave me the confidence to pursue music and singing further whilst I was at school leading me to do things I never would have imagined myself doing including auditioning for the school musical where I got given the lead part.  To this day I don’t know how that even happened.  It is a confidence I have never really had or felt since if I am honest.

Further into my Weezer fandom it would follow me through first loves, breakups, sadness, hurt and times of laughing, smiling and sitting in my room learning the riffs to play along with Weezer on my guitar.  So many memories from one song and one band.  This is was nostalgia feels like.

It’s amazing what music can do and like Angel in I Was Born This Way maybe music did distract me in a way and give me the most wonderful memories some of them good and some of them bad but most of all memories that I want to cling onto forever and that I wouldn’t change for the world!

You can buy a copy of I Was Born For This here or from your local bookshop

You can check out Alice’s full YA Playlist for I Was Born This Way here


About Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She completed a degree in English at Durham University in 2016 and is currently a full-time writer and illustrator. Alice can usually be found staring aimlessly at computer screens, questioning the meaninglessness of existence, or doing anything and everything to avoid getting an office job.

Alice’s first book, SOLITAIRE, was published when she was nineteen. Her second, RADIO SILENCE, was released in early 2016.

You can find out more about Alice on her website – www.aliceoseman.com

Or why not follow Alice on twitter – @AliceOseman


Blog Tour

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

#IWasBornForThis

#IWBFT

#YAplaylist


A huge thank you to Nina Douglas for asking me to take part in this fab blog tour and to Alice for sharing the insight into the song from her playlist.

Have you read I Was Born For This?  What did you think?  What would be on your YA Playlist?  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 – Why I Love Edinburgh by Sophie Cameron


Today I am excited to have the brilliant Sophie Cameron on Tales to celebrate the release of Out Of The Blue!

Out Of The Blue was released on the 22nd March 2018 published by the lovelies at Macmillan Children’s Books and is a story that will stick with you long after you have read it.

With the book being set in Edinburgh today Sophie chats about why she loves Edinburgh so much in this fab guest post!


When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. For most people it doesn’t. But for Jaya the world ended when her mother died, two weeks before the first angel fell.

Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived and, as the world goes angel crazy, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh, intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand his obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it. Then something extraordinary happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, Sophie Cameron’s Out of the Blue tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.


Why I Love Edinburgh

Edinburgh and I have a bit of a yo-yo relationship. I moved there for uni at 18, went to Quebec for a few months, back to Edinburgh, moved to France for a year, back to Edinburgh, Spain for the summer, back to Edinburgh, Germany, Spain, back to Edinburgh… and now I’m in Spain again, where I’ve been for the past year and a half. I have no idea where I’ll be in five years time, but Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world and still feels very much like home.

Here are five of the best things about it, in my opinion:

 1. The architecture. Even after spending so much time there, Edinburgh still amazes me with how beautiful it is. The Old Town especially is full of incredible buildings, and there are lots of interesting details to look out for. It’s not very built up, either, so you get some great panoramas – my favourites are the views from Calton Hill and North Bridge, especially at dusk.

2. Green spaces. Living in other cities made me really appreciate how many green spaces there are in and around Edinburgh. There’s the Meadows, Arthur’s Seat, Inverleith Park, the Botanic Gardens, Leith Links, Princes Street Gardens, Blackford Hill… They’re some of my favourite spots in the city, and quite a few of them are mentioned in Out of the Blue.

3. Walkable. I love walking, mostly because I’m too lazy to do any other exercise. Edinburgh is pretty perfect for walkers: small enough that you can get lots of places on foot, but big enough that it still has tons to see and do. If you’re visiting it’s really worth leaving the centre and taking a walk to Stockbridge, the Dean Village, Morningside or the Shore if you can.

4. The Fringe. A lot of Edinburgh locals hate the Fringe (and it is very frustrating having to wade through crowds of tourists just to get to Tesco) but I love it. It feels like the whole world arrives in Edinburgh for those three weeks, and amongst a lot of not-so-great stuff, you can find some really incredible shows. The chaotic atmosphere fit perfectly with the crazed behaviour of the angel chasers in Out of the Blue, and it made the book really fun to write.

5. Literary city. Time some fun facts: Edinburgh was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, has the largest monument to a writer (Sir Walter Scott) and the only train station named after a novel (Scott’s Waverley). It also has the amazing Edinburgh International Book Festival, a great writing community and is home to lots of amazing authors. Just writing this has made me want to move back!

You can buy a copy of Out Of The Blue here or from your local bookshop!


About Sophie Cameron

I grew up in the Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland. I spent around ten years in Edinburgh, did a few stints in Canada, Germany and France, and am now living in Barcelona.

My all-time favourite books include Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Naive. Super by Erlend Loe, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, How to be Both by Ali Smith, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and More Than This by Patrick Ness.

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually studying foreign languages or watching inordinate amounts of TV. Other stuff I like includes: cats, tea, Duolingo, cats, Eurovision, Céline Dion, taiyaki, postcards, Catalan pop music, sudoku, empanadas, cheese.

I’m currently working on my second book, which will be published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2019.

You can find out more about Sophie on her website – www.sophie-cameron.com

You can also follow Sophie on twitter – @toomanysophies


A huge thank you to Sophie for a brilliant guest post and to Macmillan Children’s Books and Nina Douglas for asking me to host!

Have you read Out Of The Blue?  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!

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