Tag Archives: Chicken House

Guest Post – Where It All Started…. by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison


I am super excited to have the super funny Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison on the blog today to celebrate the release of their new book Freshers.

Freshers was published 3rd August by the lovelies at Chicken House and it set to make you laugh your little socks off!

So today Tom and Lucy are taking another trip down memory lane and telling us where their writing partnership began…..


Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait to be a fresher – especially since her crush from school will be there too. She’ll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter … the perfect potential girlfriend. She’ll reinvent herself completely. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters – can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?


Where It All Started…..

It’s not a strictly a university memory, this one, but we thought we’d share a little memory of the origins of our writing partnership. Because this not-very-impressive-looking piece of pink paper marks the first time that we ever did anything creative together.
 
 It was in the sixth form at school – a play called ‘In The Name Of Love’ which was co-written by Tom, and starred Lucy. It was an absolutely shameless rip-off of a very good comedy play called ‘Noises Off’, and it was about the final episode of a trashy American soap opera. Tom played a slightly insane elderly British actor, and Lucy played a high-pitched, screaming Valley Girl. 
We had only met a few months back and were just starting to become mates – but we got together, and started going out, at the after-cast party for this play. 
During this, and the other plays we were in together at school, we realised how much fun it was working together, coming up with silly, funny stuff. We both went off to York Uni afterwards and we didn’t really do anything particularly creative during our time there, but we always planned to. And then, after graduating, we started trying to come up with ideas for stuff we could write. We first experimented with writing (half a) sitcom script about a boy and a girl in their early twenties, but it was fairly awful. And then Lucy had the idea to try and write a dual narrative YA book, and now, five years and three books later, here we are! But it was this little scrap of pink paper that started it all… There’s actually a DVD of the play somewhere, although I think it would be too excruciatingly embarrassing (for us) to ever watch…
You can buy a copy of Freshers here or from your local bookshop!
You can see a previous post about Tom & Lucy’s favourite funny books here

About Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

Lucy Ivison, lives in London and is a school librarian who runs an online teen magazine, Whatever After, as well as teaching in girls’ schools across London specialising in building confidence and creativity.

Tom, currently living in Paris, is a journalist and has written for ShortList, Time Out, Vice, talkSPORT, ESPN and Viz.

You can follow Lucy on twitter – @lucyivison


Blog Tour

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


Another huge thank you to Tom & Lucy for a brilliant guest post!

Also a huge thank you to Nina Douglas and Chicken House for asking me to feature this and for sending me the book for review!

Have you read Freshers?  What were your thoughts?  Are you intrigued to read this book after reading this post?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Lisa Drakeford


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secrets have to be revealed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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


About Lisa Drakeford

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

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

You can follow Lisa of twitter – @LisaDrakeford


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Inspiration for Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage


Today I have a fantastic guest post about inspiration from lovely author Melissa Savage to celebrate the release of Bigfoot, Tobin and Me a wonderful new Middle Grade book dealing with grief and moving forward.

Bigfoot, Tobin and Me was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Chicken House.

When I asked Melissa about the inspiration behind the story and following reading her guest post it made me quite emotional…..


Lemonade’s mother named her for her favourite saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But now her mum’s dead. After relocating to her grandpa’s place in Bigfoot-obsessed Willow Creek, Lem meets Tobin. Quirky and determined, he’s the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. Lem is reluctantly enlisted as his assistant. Together, they try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film, but what they find is even more amazing.


Inspiration for Bigfoot, Tobin & Me

As a licensed therapist working with children, I have used many different research based techniques to make connections with my clients, and story is one of those tools. I have found narrative work with children to be especially effective to assist them in learning healing strategies and adaptive coping mechanisms. Just as story was important in my life growing up, I know it is important to other children as well, and therefore I choose to write about social issues.

Years ago, there was one little boy I will never forget because of the impact one particular story had on him during a session. This sweet, wiggly, little guy had been permanently removed from his home due to abuse and neglect and was currently living in a foster home. At the very end of our session, I read him a therapeutic picture book about a mistreated kitten who needed a new home because the family who cared for the kitten did not treat the kitten as he deserved to be cared for. This little boy listened to that story so intently, eyes wide and without a single wiggle. When I read the very last line and closed the book, he looked up at me from over his glasses that sat low on his nose and said, that kitten is just like me!  It’s those small miracles in therapy that we hope for, that we have made an impact towards healing. On that day, I knew he felt understood. On that day, he felt that he was not alone. And the tool that assisted me in making that special connection with him was story. And I knew he was finally on his way to learning how to heal.

Story is so many things to us. It is integral to our history and continues to be important to connect humankind today. Story can entertain and enlighten us. It can help to shape who we become and how we fit in the world. Story can give us a sense of belonging and help us feel not so alone in our differences or in the hardships we face.

And it can help us heal.

I’ve been asked if the subject matter of grief and loss in Bigfoot, Tobin & Me is too much for the middle grade reader. In fact, in my work with children and families, I know that many children have either gone through an equally devastating loss themselves or may know someone else who has. At the very least, these children are all too familiar with what goes on in our world today. We cannot shield everything from them and they need our guidance to understand it at a developmentally appropriate level and be guided in their healing process as they learn to sustain their own coping ability. And with that healing, a sustained sense of hope and joy, in spite of the fear and sadness brought on by tragedy.

Most recently after suffering my own difficult loss, I’ve had the privilege to walk beside other children and families who have suffered difficult losses. It was devastating to have to share such sadness with others, yet healing too, because we were not alone. What is it that shapes who we are? Experiences both good and bad. Although no one ever wishes for bad experiences, it is the hardships and the adversity that molds us to be more than we are each time we must endure it. It is in adversity that we grow and learn and change. We become stronger for it, we become more loving and we certainly become more capable. And story is one of those wonderful ways in which we can learn empathy and coping as we bear witness to experiences in books that we have not experienced in our own lives. To shield our children from the realities they will be faced would be a disservice. Loss is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. However, it truly is what is hard that builds our character, forms our strength, and shapes who we will become. And what we become is up to us. What an amazing lesson to teach our children.

Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com

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


About Melissa Savage

Melissa D. Savage’s first book, The Lost Pony, premiered in her second grade classroom, winning high praise from critics such as her mom. Although the book was hand written and self-illustrated in Crayola Crayons, it was this experience that began her love of writing and to this day she still believes was one of her best works. Melissa continued to create stories growing up, writing different adventures for friends to read and later completed a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University in Minnesota. She was privileged to be able to receive guidance from amazing authors, educators, and fellow writers who shared their wisdom, experience, and support. Since then, she has been recognized for her work at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in both the Middle Grade and Young Adult Genres. Most recently, Melissa’s debut book, Lemons has been recognized by the American Booksellers Association on their Independent Booksellers’ debut picks of the season list, Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2017.

Melissa is a writer and a child and family therapist. She has worked with families struggling with issues of abuse, trauma and loss/bereavement. She believes that expressing oneself through writing can be a very healing process when struggling with difficulties in life.  In addition it can be a vehicle in which to honor, celebrate and continue to share the spirits of the special people who have left us too soon. Melissa lives in Minneapolis with her family.

You can find out more about Melissa on her website – www.melissadsavage.com

Or why not follow Melissa on twitter – @melissadsavage


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read Bigfoot, Tobin & Me?  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 – Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations By Cathryn Constable


I’m super happy to have a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Cathryn Constable today!

Cathryn is the author of the brilliant The Wolf Princess, one of the bestselling debuts of 2012. It swept the board with gorgeous reviews and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Specsavers National Book Awards.

Cathryn’s second book The White Tower was released on the 5th January 2017 published by Chicken House and is a wonderful middle grade read.

Alchemy meets dreamy reality in this new atmospheric adventure!

Today Cathryn talks about books to inspire children’s imaginations…..


When Livy’s accepted at Temple College, a school for the very brightest, no one is more surprised than her, though she has always felt different. Recently, Livy’s been drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has the strangest desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality … one that they’ll stop at nothing to use for their own ends.


Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations

Everyone likes to bang on about how reading books (as opposed to text books or just texts) is soooo important for children but they can’t always say why. … My sense is that children who have consumed certain sorts of imaginative books have an adult life that is less grey and featureless and much more subversive as a child who has been allowed to create an intensely personal internal landscape hits adulthood with a sense of possibility and ‘what if?’ They’ve learned how to imagine things differently from how they are currently arranged or presented. There’s a very good reason why totalitarian regimes burn books.

Five books or even writers can’t be enough, though, to build a vivid internal landscape. E. Nesbit should be on any list along with Alan Garner. I would also add Catherine Fisher and Susan Cooper. My son adored Walter Moers… Really, the list is endless… But for those short on time, here are five of the best.

The If Game by Catherine Storr

Of course, I read Marianne Dreams as a child but did not discover this, or the equally unsettling The Mirror Image Ghost until I read them to my children. Storr is such an excellent writer, taking something so small and insignificant as a boy finding some keys which open secret doors into a world he doesn’t recognize but which forces him to confront the truth about his family.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I can still remember opening this book and reading that first sentence aloud to my son. ‘It was a dark, blustery afternoon in Spring and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.’ I had a sensation akin to vertigo because it was so surprising and so good. And the book just got better.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The only American writer to make the list. This is the sort of book that stays with you; a lucid exploration of time and death and the consequences of immortality.

The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater

Batty but anarchic. Dora and Dorinda behave very badly indeed but it’s all very funny.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Totally thrilling, unputdownable and frankly very frightening. Part one of His Dark Materials trilogy, these books chart a child’s necessary and compelling journey from innocence to experience.

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


After reading Theology at Cambridge University, Cathryn Constable went on to work in magazine journalism, writing for Vogue, W, Elle, The Independent, Tatler and The Sunday Times, before realising her dream of writing stories for children. Cathryn is married with three children and lives in London.

You can find out more about Cathryn on her website – www.cathrynconstable.net

Or why not follow Cathryn on twitter – @kateconstable7 


A huge thank you to Cathryn for such a fab post and to Chicken House and Maura for organising!

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

Guest Post – Three Terrible Writing Myths and Three Amazing Writing Tips by Mary G. Thompson


I have recently received this awesome YA Thriller by US author Mary G. Thompson, Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee which was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by Chicken House.

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee is perfect for fans of Louise O’Neill, Lisa Heathfield and Cat Clarke’s The Lost and the Found.

I’ve heard such good things about this book already and I simply cannot wait to read it!

“Cleverly interspersing the present-day story with flashbacks, Mary G. Thompson masterfully drip-feeds twists and turns into AMY CHELSEA STACIE DEE until it builds to its heart-in-mouth conclusion.”

I am so excited to have a fab guest post from the author herself about writing myths and tips…..


Cousins Amy and Dee were kidnapped by a stranger as children. Now, sixteen-year-old Amy is back with her parents. Dressed in purple and clutching a plastic doll, she refuses to answer questions. As Amy struggles towards a normal teenage life, her family – and the police – press her for information. Unable to escape her past, Amy realizes she has to confront the truth. How did she survive? How did she escape? And what happened to Dee?

You can read the first chapter here


Three Terrible Writing Myths and Three Amazing Writing Tips!

Myth #1:

You need creativity to strike.

I’m not going to claim that ideas don’t sometimes come in the middle of the night or at other inconvenient times. They definitely do! I get them while I’m at the day job or on the subway or half asleep or in the shower. I almost never get an aha idea while I’m sitting in front of the computer ready to write. But that’s okay, because most of writing is not about ideas, it’s about execution. That means sitting your butt in the chair (or, if you’re trying to be healthy, standing your feet at your standing desk), and writing all the words that bring the idea to life. But what if that idea just isn’t coming? Well, that leads me to …

Myth #2:

Writer’s Block.

That’s right, writer’s block is a myth! I always say that there are two states for a writer, working and not working. What people think of as writer’s block is really just not working. If you sit in front of your computer and think, you will eventually think of something to write, and if you begin to write, you will eventually have a base from which to build. Whenever I say this to people, they object. They always have a reason why writer’s block is a legitimately totally real thing for them. It isn’t! If you think you have writer’s block, you are actually procrastinating. We all do it, but it’s something we all need to overcome. Sometimes writing is just as hard as any other job, and we can’t wait to magically find …

Myth #3:

The zone.

Ok, this may not be a myth for everyone. I have author friends who tell me that they sometimes get lost in a book and don’t realize that four hours have passed. This never happens to me! I have a terrible time concentrating. I stare off into space and fidget and surf the internet and text my friends and everything else. I know that I’m terrible at concentrating, so I don’t expect myself to magically fall into a fugue state. And this leads me to my first tip!

Tip #1:

Work longer, not smarter.

This tip is for people like me who have trouble concentrating. If you are like me but you expect yourself to write your daily word count goal in one hour, you are going to stress yourself out and be frustrated. Since I know myself, I’ve totally given up on efficiency. Instead, I set aside the time to sit in the chair until I know I can accomplish my goal. For me, this means I set aside at least five good hours on every day I have off of my day job. That’s five hours of time that’s totally uninterrupted except for all the ways my own brain finds to interrupt me. A lot of people dislike this tip because they are still trying to break into the business and have day jobs and/or kids that make it tough to find uninterrupted time. Which leads me to …

Tip #2:

Keep a regular schedule.

You can make up for a lack of long blocks of time by writing at the same time every day or for the same blocks of time every week. When I was a lawyer working longer hours, I would write for about an hour every day after work. This wasn’t ideal, but combined with several hours on the weekend, it added up to what became my first book. The important thing for me is to work regularly enough to keep the book in my head so I don’t forget what is going on. It is key to work steadily and never go long periods of time without writing, which leads me to …

Tip #3:

Do not stop!

Some people will tell you that when you finish a manuscript, you should set it aside and let it breathe or something for a few months. I advise against this. I usually end up taking a few days between finishing a draft and starting a revision, but too much time pulls you out of the story and sets you back. You wouldn’t stop going to your day job for months, so you shouldn’t stop writing either. The good news is, you don’t have to be a magical creative genius! All you have to do is keep writing and writing until you have a book!

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson is out now priced £6.99

You can buy a copy of Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee here or from your local bookshop!


About Mary G. Thompson

Mary G. Thompson was raised in Oregon, USA. She was a practicing attorney for more than seven years, including almost five years in the US Navy, and is now a law librarian in Washington, DC. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. This is her fifth book.

You can find out more about Mary G. Thompson on her website – www.marygthompson.com

Or why not follow Mary of twitter – @marygthompson


A huge thank you to Mary for such a brilliant guest post and some brilliant writing tips!  And to Jazz at Chicken House for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

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

Happy Reading!

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans Are You?


Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

And it’s our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month!

You can find out why people are loving Who Let The Gods Out here

So I teamed up with the wonderful Maz Evans and today we are asking….

Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out Are You?

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Also do check out an awesome giveaway on twitter!


Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Which character from Who Let The Gods Out are you most like? 

Take the quiz to find out and share your results with us on twitter or leave a comment.

If you cannot see the quiz below click here and scroll down


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


Giveaway

With thanks to Chicken House I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Who Let The Gods Out here!


A huge thank you to Maz for playing along and helping to create this quiz!  And to Nina Douglas and Jazz at Chicken House for organising and the fab giveaway!

Have you read Who Let The Gods Out?  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 review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Debut Of The Month – Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans


I am so excited to have announced on February 1st that the super awesome Maz Evans is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for February 17 with her debut Who Let The Gods Out?!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd Febraury 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

I’m super excited to be shining the spotlight on Maz and Who Let The Gods Out today along with some love for Who Let The Gods Out from some lovely people.

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


About Who Let The Gods Out?

Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Praise for Who Let The Gods Out?

I managed to catch some quotes from some lovely people about Who Let The Gods Out….


A huge thank you to the lovely Who Let The Gods out fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  Who Let The Gods Out comes highly recommend as our Debut Of The Month!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Have you read Who Let The Gods Out?  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 review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Ally Sherrick


black-powder-jacket

Today I am over the moon to have the wonderful author Ally Sherrick chatting about her debut book, Black Powder.

Black Powder was released on the 4th August in paperback published by Chicken House and is a brilliant historical YA fiction!

So today Ally chats about Black Powder, writing and being a debut author in this fab Q&A…..


black-powder-jacket

England, 1605. 12-year-old Tom must save his father from hanging. He falls in with a mysterious stranger – the Falcon – who promises to help him in exchange for his service. But on the long journey to London, Tom discovers the Falcon’s true mission – and a plot to blow up Parliament with barrels of black powder. Tom faces a terrible decision: secure his father’s release, or stop the assassination of the king … 


Hi Ally

 Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so happy to have you here!  The Gunpowder Plot is one of my favourite points in history!  I attended your historical panel at YA Shot and found it thoroughly fascinating.

Delighted to be here! Thanks so much for asking me. And so glad you enjoyed the YA Shot panel event. It was brilliant to be able to talk all things Tudor and Stuart with fellow history geeks, the lovely Jane Hardstaff (The Executioner’s Daughter) and Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (Black Arts), and all in front of such a great audience too…

Can you tell us a little about Black Powder?

Of course! I’d love to! Black Powder is the story of 12-year-old Tom Garnett, whose father is arrested and thrown into prison for sheltering a Catholic priest. Tom sets out to try and save him and meets up with a mysterious stranger – the Falcon – who promises to help in exchange for his service. But on the long journey to London, Tom discovers the Falcon’s true mission – and a plot to blow up Parliament with barrels of black powder.

Tom is then faced with a terrible decision: secure his father’s release, or stop the assassination of the king …

What made you want to write a story centred on/around the Gunpowder Plot?

Well, first of all, the real-life plot itself is such a great story. It’s full of larger-than-life characters like Guy Fawkes and the leader of the plotters, the charismatic Robert Catesby; atmospheric settings such as the dark, dingy streets of London and the smelly, ink-black River Thames running through the city; and a twisty-turny plot which you really couldn’t make up if you tried.

But my story spark was the ruined Tudor mansion of Cowdray House deep in the Sussex countryside. On a visit to it, I discovered that a certain Mister Guy Fawkes had worked there as a young gentleman footman serving the rich and powerful Catholic Lord Montague. I was intrigued and pretty soon my head was buzzing with lots of what-ifs? What if a young boy on a desperate mission to save his father comes to Cowdray. And what if while there he meets a mysterious stranger bound for London who promises to help him…

Can you tell us a little about the main character Tom?

At the start of Black Powder, Tom Garnett is a young Catholic boy, living on the south coast of England with his mum and dad and baby brother, Edward. He’s looking forward to celebrating his 13th birthday in a few days’ time, but when his father rescues a Catholic priest and brings him home – which is against the law – Tom’s world is thrown into chaos and confusion. Though he loves his family very much and would do anything to protect them, he is also a little selfish and a bit impetuous too.  But by the end of the story, after the many adventures he has, I hope the reader will agree that it is his courage, resourcefulness and belief in the importance of doing the right thing that shine through.

Can you tell us a little about the mysterious Falcon?

Oooh, yes! But I’ll have to be careful not to give too much away. The Falcon’s true identity is one he keeps closely hidden. Tom thinks he’s a smuggler when he first meets him. And he doesn’t give Tom his real name, but instead encourages him to call him the Falcon, because of a bird-headed ring he wears on his little finger. But though he’s very much a man of mystery, he is also brave, strong and single-minded – though not always to the good as the reader and Tom will find out. Oh, and he has a sense of humour too…

Do any characters represent real historical figures from that time or have you used actual historical figures in the book?

My hero, Tom and my heroine, Cressida Montague, are characters I have made up – as are a number of others, like Tom’s family and neighbours. But there are plenty of characters I’ve based on real-life people, including Cressida’s great-grandmother, the Viscountess Montague. And although a number of the characters Tom meets later in the story have false names, they are based on real individuals living at the time of the plot too.  But I’ll say no more in case I give too much away!  For anyone who reads the book though, I spill the beans about who is who in a special section on the history behind the story at the end…

What was your favourite scene to write?

That’s a tricky one – there were so many! But I suppose if you pushed me, I’d have to say the scene where Tom first meets the Falcon in a secret tunnel under Cowdray House.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene to write was probably the one when Tom is trying to escape from Cowdray after he’s been locked in his room by the old Viscountess. I wanted him to climb out of his window and shin down a nearby drainpipe – but as I’ve never done something like that myself (!!), I was having real difficulty trying to work out how he’d do it without falling: it’s quite a long way down. In the end I had to act it out in the room I was writing in to be sure he didn’t tie himself in knots

The good news was, no one saw me!

How much research was involved in writing this book?  Did you already know a lot about the subject or did you discover new things along the way?

I think all historical fiction requires a fair bit of research if you’re going to try and get the broad facts right and create as authentic a feel as possible for the period you’re writing. Like most writers of this type of fiction, I used a mix of sources including books on the topic of the Gunpowder Plot and life in Jacobean England and historical documents from the time – some of which are now available online. And I also visited places associated with my story. Cowdray of course, which was my original inspiration. But also other houses associated with the Gunpowder Plotters such as Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire. I also trod the route that Tom and the Falcon took when they arrived in London – crossing London Bridge (no heads on spikes above it these days!) and walking along Fleet Street and down the Strand to the Palace of Westminster – the scene of the crime and near Guy Fawkes’ place of execution too.

I knew a fair bit about the plot already, having read a fascinating account of it by the novelist and historian, Antonia Fraser (The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605). But there are always things to find out along the way, which is what makes writing historical fiction such fun! And some things, like the ‘ruffler’ – a type of 17th century conman – even made it into the story. Though you have to be careful not to overload what you’re writing with too many facts or it can end up reading like a history text book instead.

What was your favourite or most intriguing historical fact you discovered whilst researching for Black Powder?

Gosh, that’s a tricky one! There was so much I learned on the way. But one thing in particular I found mind-boggling, which was that in the day, because of the way it was built, London Bridge had a set of rapids flowing beneath it. And young men of the daring/foolhardy kind liked nothing better than to ride them in small boats. A sort of early form of white-water rafting I guess. Though apparently quite a few of them drowned in the process and ended up at the bottom of the River Thames – something I have the Falcon tell Tom when they cross the bridge into London.

That is really fascinating!  I have an obsession with the Tower myself!

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

  1. I wanted to be an Egyptologist and dig up mummies when I was at primary school. Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe I should write a story about that…
  2. My first cat was called Cindy – she was black and white and a bit of a scratcher, but I still loved her (I think!!)
  3. Before I went to university, I was an au-pair for a few months. I lived with a family in the Ardennes mountains in southern Belgium where one of my duties was to feed the family hen, a large, mean-eyed bird called Duchesse, who also had a very sharp beak.
  4. My favourite type of sweet is liquorice – particularly liquorice ‘Catherine wheels’ and pipes.
  5. My favourite book of all time is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. My favourite children’s books are Skellig by David Almond and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

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What is your favourite part of history?

Well besides the Ancient Egyptians, I’m rather partial to the Anglo-Saxons…

Did you always want to write historical fiction?

I thought I might quite like to. But actually, my first full length story – not yet published (never say never!) – was a science fiction one all about a boy and his young brother who live above the last seed bank on earth…

Who is your favourite historical figure?

Hmmm. A tricky one! *Scratches head* I’ve always been rather drawn to Captain Scott of the Antarctic – though now I know more about that other great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, I might be tempted to say him instead. At any rate they were both extremely brave, though some may call them heroic failures…

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Nothing terribly strange, other than a lot of fiddling around with other things (the internet, filing, looking out of the window) before getting on with the actual business of writing. But from what I can make out, talking to other writers, that’s quite a common complaint…

What have you learnt from being a debut author?

That if you want to get published, it’s all about the three ‘p’s. Persistence, perseverance and perspiration. Oh, and a smidgeon of luck too… And then, if you are lucky enough to get a publishing deal, that the hard work continues, but that you can draw lots of comfort from the fact that your publisher is right there alongside you because, like you, they want your story to be the best it can be.

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

I had several very encouraging and inspirational teachers who believed in me and told me I was a good writer too. And like most writers, I was a real bookworm and read all sorts. Joan Aiken was a particular favourite author of mine. I loved the blend of fantasy and history in stories like her The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. And there was also plenty of dark menace too. You can’t beat a bit of dark menace!

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What historical fiction would you recommend?

There’s not been a huge amount of it about for quite a few years, which I think is a real shame. However, just recently a number of stories with a historical setting are starting to come through again, so perhaps things are starting to change? I hope so! History makes such brilliant stories. Of course a number of the great classic tales are still very much available. The likes of Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden and Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian for example. And for slightly older readers, Tanya Landman’s more recent and brilliant Buffalo Soldier about a young runaway slave girl in the American West who joins a regiment of African-American soldiers and goes off to fight in the so-called Indian wars.

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Could you tell us a little about what you’re writing next?

Yes. My next story is another historical one, but this time it’s set during the Second World War and follows the fortunes of George Penny, a young evacuee who is sent to live in the Suffolk countryside with a mean relative. It’s a tale of buried treasure, Nazi spies and a plucky hero and heroine doing their best to save the country from disaster. Oh, and there’s an Anglo-Saxon ghost in it too… But if you want to know more, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until Chicken House publish it in spring 2018!

Thank you so much for being here today Ally and answering all of my questions!  Black Powder sounds amazing and your passion for historical fiction had made me smile lots!

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Black Powder by Ally Sherrick is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com

You can buy a copy of Black Powder here or from your local book shop


About Ally Sherrick

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Ally Sherrick loves exploring ruined castles and decaying mansions and imagining what it must have been like to live in them without electricity and hot and cold running water – although she’s quite glad she doesn’t have to herself!

She has a BA in medieval history and French from Newcastle University and an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Winchester.

She is married and lives with her husband and assorted garden wildlife in Farnham, Surrey. Black Powder is her first novel.

You can find out more about Ally on her website – www.allysherrick.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @ally_sherrick


A huge thank you to Ally for answering so many of my questions and to Laura at Chicken House for organising.

Have you read Black Powder?  What did you think?  Do you love the Gunpowder Plot?  What do you like about it? Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

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Tales Q&A with Kerr Thomson


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I am super excited to be a part of the UKYACX Extravaganza Blog Tour again and today I have been paired up with the brilliant Kerr Thomson winner of the Times Children’s Fiction Prize 2014!

This time around the UKYACX Extravaganza is taking place in Newcastle on the 17th September 2016 and is featuring all of these amazing authors and illustrators!

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Today I have been lucky enough to have put some questions to Kerr and he was kind enough to answer them all…..


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Three children are spending their summer on a wild Scottish island. Fraser is desperate for adventure; Hayley is fed up she’s even there; while Dunny spends his days staring out to sea. He hasn’t said a word in years. But everything changes with the discovery of two bodies on the beach: a whale and a man. Fraser and Hayley see a mystery-adventure to be solved, but Dunny is inconsolable. And in the end, it will take someone who listens to the sea to put it right.

You can read an extract from the book here


Hi Kerr.  It’s so wonderful to have you here today!

Can you tell us a little about your debut that was released last year, The Sound of Whales?

The Sound of Whales is an adventure story set on the Scottish island of Nin. Fraser and Dunny are island brothers, the younger one Dunny doesn’t speak. On to their island comes Hayley, an American girl who at first despises everything to do with the place, especially Fraser. Together they discover dead bodies and castaways in caves and whales and the special gift that only Dunny possesses.

You won the Times Children’s Fiction Prize 2014?  How was that?

That was amazing! I entered with no expectation of winning and it was the first place I ever sent The Sound of Whales. There is no large pile of rejection letters from agents and publishers and I am very aware of how lucky I am. That is the wonder of the competition – unknown writers like myself are given the most fantastic opportunity to be published. And it can happen to anyone!

Can you tell us a little about the main characters in The Sound of Whales, Fraser, Hayley & Dunny?

Fraser is an island boy looking for adventure and not realising he is living it every day.  Dunny is his younger brother who is autistic and mysterious and remarkable in many ways. Hayley is an American girl dragged by her mom to the island and determined to hate every minute of the experience. None of them can resist the adventures that come their way and the friendships that develop.

How important was the setting to you?  Why did you choose the setting of a Wild Scottish Island?

The island is almost a character in itself. Certainly the landscape plays a very important role in the story. There is something inherently dramatic and enigmatic about that place where the ocean meets the shore. And of course, the best and worst thing about an island is, you can’t get off!

What was your favourite scene to write?

The second last chapter began life as the last chapter and I always had that scene in my head. It is an ending of sorts though I don’t want to spoil it for anyone yet to read the book (You know who you are!). Writing it, having brought the story all the way there, was such a satisfying feeling. It ended as I had hoped it would end. That may seem a strange thing to say as its writer, but sometimes the words take on a life of their own and head in a different direction from anticipated and so I was glad the story finished as I hoped it would!

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

They do say every author writes themselves into their first book so I suppose there is a wee bit of me in every character….although maybe not the orcas – don’t have that killer instinct!

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As for using my own experiences in the story, well I’ve never swam with whales or sailed a boat or discovered a dead body but I have been frightened and I have been excited and I have been lonely and I have been angry and I have been brave and I have been flabbergasted and I have experienced all these important feelings that the young people in the book experience. So I guess that counts.

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

If I told you that then readers would have that image in their head and I would rather people created their own visual image of the characters as they read. So no mention of Ewan McGregor and Idris Elba…ah, darn!

What would you like your reader to take from The Sound of Whales?

I would like young people to believe in the possibility of adventure. I fear that no-one goes exploring anymore. Young people of today have this fantastic resource to enrich their lives which is sadly completely neglected. It’s called ‘outside’!

What do you think makes a good story?

It’s a simple formula – believable characters doing exciting things in an interesting place. Works every time.

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

No-one who answers this question ever gives random facts. They carefully craft five pieces of highly exaggerated if not downright fanciful snippets that make the person seem incredibly interesting, slightly mysterious but also modest and charming! I’m dull. I’ll pass.

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

Well Ben would take me for a boat trip to find whales and then we would have to fight our way through a storm to get back to harbour so that sounds like a day to remember.

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

Reading is the thing that inspired me to write. Every writer of books starts off as a reader of books. The earliest books that I loved were the Hardy Boys and Willard Price’s Adventure books. American kids foiling spy rings and wrestling crocodiles and flying biplanes. I doubt the books have aged well but at the time I devoured them and craved adventures of my own. Eventually I started writing the adventures instead of just imagining them.

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

Every time I read a good book I wish I had written it. Wizards, vampires, survival in dystopian worlds…..every sub-genre that arises you say to yourself, why didn’t I think of that?!

What are you currently reading?

Strangely I am reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. My eight year old son, Samuel, has just discovered the joys of Hogwarts and now wants intricate conversations about the minutiae of wizardry. I can’t remember any of it so I am starting again.

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What is your favourite book of 2016 so far?

It is not a new book. A reviewer likened The Sound of Whales to something written by Eva Ibbotson and I hadn’t read any of her books so I thought I would. I really enjoyed Journey to the River Sea.

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

I have never tried it but I am not sure how a collaboration would work. I’m a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to writing.

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

I sketch out a rough plan of a story but all pretty vague and then I just start writing. I usually have a detailed ending worked out, the ending is the most important bit of a book, but I don’t like to be too fixed in the story. New ideas will inevitably come as the plot develops.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I really don’t. I sit in front of my laptop and press the keys. I would love to have a Dahlesque shed but I just sit in the dining room with the door shut. I do get some of my best ideas when I am out running.

Recently I asked some lovely authors their thoughts about does music influence their books or their characters.  Did music have any influence the story of The Sound of Whales?

I like to have a movie soundtrack or smooth classics on Classic FM playing in the background but not too intrusive. Mood music I suppose. How much influence it has on my writing is probably minimal.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016 or 2017 I saw you’re writing your second novel The Rise of Wolves?  Can you tell us a little about it?

The Rise of Wolves is set on the same island of Nin but a different group of young people having an adventure of their own. No whales this time but there are wolves. Wolves on a Scottish island? Unlikely, I hear you cry. Ah, but now you’re intrigued!

Also in 2017 the American version of The Sound of Whales is published. Change of title, however. I believe it is now going to be called Washed Ashore. It’s a little strange to have a different title but apparently it is not unusual. I am not going to be precious about it.

And finally…are you excited about the UKYACX Extravaganza?

Anything that is an Extravaganza must be exciting! It will be so cool to hang out with all these authors and meet all the readers and book lovers who attend. Slightly intimidating as well. I keep thinking I am going to be found out!

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You can buy a copy of The Sound Of Whales here


About Kerr Thomson

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Kerr Thomson is a teacher of geography at Cathkin High School in Glasgow, and is the father of a six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.

After studying geography at universities in Glasgow and Arkansas he worked at various jobs in various places including hospitals, sports centres and country parks, but eventually could resist no longer and entered the teaching profession, which is something of a family business. He has taught in several schools in Manchester and the west of Scotland.

He enjoys cycling and runs an occasional half-marathon. In every place and at every time he has always written stories.

You can follow Kerr on twitter – @kerrthomson


Blog Tour

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

And don’t forget to buy tickets for this fab event!

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You can find out more about the UKYACX Extravaganza in Newcastle on the website here

Or follow them on twitter using @UKYACX

Or find out what we got up to at the Birmingham UKYA Extravaganza here

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A huge thank you to Kerr for being fab and answering all of my questions!

Also a huge thank you to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for organising the UKYACX Extravaganza and having me on the blog tour!

See you there!

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Guest Post – The Secret’s Out! – Cooking Is For Everyone by Laurel Remington


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I am super excited to have the wonderful Laurel Remington Winner of the Times Children’s Fiction Competition 2015 and author of the scrumptious The Secret Cooking Club on Tales today!

The Secret Cooking Club was released on the 4th August 2016 published by Chicken House and with the Bake Off starting last night I think this will be the perfect book to fill the time between episodes and beyond!

A huge thank you to Laura for sending me a copy of the book and for organising this fab guest post today!

So today Laurel Remington tells us how cooking is for everyone…..

And it really is…..not only did Laura organise this fab blog post today but she set me a challenge….to bake a rainbow cake!


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Twelve-year-old Scarlett is the star and victim of her mum’s popular blog – the butt of school jokes, she’s eager to stay firmly out of the spotlight. But one evening, she finds a gorgeous kitchen in the house next door, left empty by an elderly neighbour in hospital. As Scarlett bakes, she starts to transform her life, discovering new friends and forming the Secret Cooking Club. But can she fix her family, seal her friendships and find the mysterious secret ingredient?


Chelley’s Rainbow Cake

So last weekend I recruited by hubby and my son into the kitchen and we had a great time making this rainbow cake!

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I know right?! I can’t believe we made this either!  It was so much fun!

We followed this receipe here over on kerrycooks.com ( @kerrycooksblog ) for the sponges and made our own butter cream topping.

Using Kerry’s step by step receipe made this really easy to use and the cake tasted delicious!

Anyway here’s a little video of us making it!

Enjoy!


The Secret’s Out! – cooking is for everyone

At the end of August, the new series of The Great British Bake-off will kick off, bringing to the fore a new group of talented and hopeful bakers. Unlike shows that involve celebrities (chefs or non-chefs), I think much of the appeal of GBBO comes from the fact that the contestants are ordinary people – people like you and me – emerging from their ordinary kitchens, and doing something extraordinary.

I’m not a good cook – I don’t pretend to be, and I don’t harbor a secret urge to become one. All of my ‘free time’ is spent writing, and while I try to make healthy meals for my kids, I’m not a very good role model in that regard. I do, however, like to bake. I love decorating birthday cakes for my girls, and I like baking pies, Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses. I use simple recipes, and am not particularly experimental – but that’s okay, right – as long as it works! I sometimes let my girls help out, but to be honest, I’m not very patient at tolerating the inevitable mess.

The Secret Cooking Club is a book about friends, family, improving relationships, and, of course, good food! Despite my own inadequacies in the kitchen, I knew I wanted my main character, Scarlett, to form a secret club involving cooking and baking. Cooking is an activity that can bridge the gap between the generations, and is something that everyone can learn.

And . . . we all have to eat, don’t we?

While my original draft centered on the activities of a group of girls, I quickly expanded the cast to include, among others, a boy member of the club. I am very much in favour of the modern push to teach about cooking and healthy eating in schools to all children. The days when women cook and men go off to work is SO long past. Also, cooking can be a great creative outlet. I personally know of a great many men who love to cook (alas, not my partner!). And just look at how many men are on GBBO and do amazingly well!

In addition to a boy, the club also includes an elderly neighbor who becomes the mentor of the girls and their cooking. One of the important elements of ‘middle grade’ literature is about children forging their own identity, and taking the first independent steps to become teenagers and young adults. For many books in this age group, adults are dead, absent, or otherwise someone to ‘get out of the way’ so that adventures may be had (and mischief can be made!).

As a writer, I am interested in exploring ways to bridge the gap between children and adults through understanding, and compromise on both sides. I became a first-time mum in my late 30s, and became much more attuned to how different things are for kids these days than when I was growing up. Mobile phones, the internet, Disney films on-demand – countless things that make life both better and worse. While my daughters aren’t teenagers yet, I realized that I was going to have to adapt to their world in order to relate to them.

In The Secret Cooking Club, the girls learn compassion by helping with the plight of their neighbor, and in return, her influence helps Scarlett improve her relationship with her mum and other adults. There is so much that older people and younger people can learn from each other – I hope that this book helps to plant the seed that it really is possible and worthwhile to make the effort.

Most of all, I hope that young readers enjoy reading my book, and that it inspires them to believe in themselves and try something extraordinary – whether it involves cooking, baking or something else that they love.

Good luck to all the contestants on this year’s GBBO, and I look forward to seeing your amazing creations! Maybe I’ll even take a risk and try to make something myself . . . !

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You can buy a copy of this book here


About Laurel Remington

Laurel Remington (JoJo Cooper Photography)

Laurel Remington is a writer of children’s, teen, and women’s fiction. Originally from Eureka, California, she now lives with her family in Surrey, and is Deputy General Counsel for a renewable energy company.

Her debut novel, The Secret Cooking Club, was the winner of the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2015. The novel was inspired by her three young daughters, who love to cook (and eat!) anything sweet.  When she’s not cleaning up the kitchen after them, she can usually be found working on her next novel.

You can find out more about Laurel on her website – www.laurelremington.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @LaurelRemington


A huge huge thank you to Laurel for such a brilliant post and to Laura at Chicken House for organising!

Have you read The Secret Cooking Club?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Will you gve the Rainbow Cake a try?  What else do you like to bake?  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!

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