Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Research For The Bamboo Trilogy by Ann Bennett


I’m super excited to be part of the fab blog tour celebrating the release of Bamboo Road, the last book in a fab adult fiction trilogy!

Bamboo Road was released on the 1st March 2017 published by Monsoon Books.  The first book, Bamboo Heart was released in 2014 followed by Bamboo Island in 2015 and can be read in any order.  The books are a Southeast Asian WWII Trilogy.

For my stop of this fab tour, the author, Ann Bennett tells us a little more about the research that went into the books.


Thailand, 1943: Thomas Ellis, captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, is a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway. In stifling heat he endures endless days of clearing jungle, breaking stone and lugging wood. He must stay alive, although he is struck down by disease and tortured by Japanese guards, and he must stay strong, although he is starving and exhausted. For Tom has made himself a promise: to return home. Not to the grey streets of London, where he once lived, but to Penang, where he found paradise and love. London, 1986: Laura Ellis, a successful City lawyer, turns her back on her yuppie existence and travels to Southeast Asia. In Thailand and Malaysia she retraces her father’s past and discovers the truths he has refused to tell her. And in the place where her father once suffered and survived, she will finally find out how he got his Bamboo Heart. In a blend of stirring fiction and heart-wrenching history, Ann Bennett narrates the story of a soldier’s strength and survival in the bleakest of times and a daughter’s journey of discovery about her father and herself.

Bamboo Heart is volume one in a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy that includes Bamboo Island and Bamboo Road.

Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear.

 Bamboo Island is part of a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy of historical fiction that can be read in any order and includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Road.

Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years.

Bamboo Road is volume three in a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy that includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Island (the books may be read in any order).


Research For The Bamboo Trilogy

I began researching the Second World War in South East Asia and the Thai-Burma railway well before the idea of writing books about it took root. The stories grew organically out of the research I did to find out about my father’s wartime experience. He died when I was seven, weakened by his three and a half years as a POW and I began to get interested in his experience when I was in my early twenties. My mother had two pre-printed postcards that Dad had sent home during his years as a POW which showed that he was interned in Thailand No.1 camp. I went to the Imperial War Museum and discovered that the camp was in Kanchanaburi but there were no consistent records there about prisoners of the Japanese.

My desire to find out more, first took me to Kanchanaburi in 1988 with my mother. There was only one museum there at the time; called the JEATH museum run by a Thai monk. It is a fascinating and unique place, but again holds no information about individual prisoners.

A few years later, I returned to the Imperial War Museum and found they held many first-hand accounts written by soldiers enslaved on the death railway. These are the most harrowing of reads and showed me more about what my father must have suffered, but nothing about where he had been or what had happened to him personally. By the time I returned to Kanchanaburi in 2005 with my husband and sons, I thought I knew as much as I was ever going to know.

In 2010 I came across the Far East Prisoners of War Community (FEPOW) on the internet. Through that community I discovered that in 1944 Dad had been transported from Singapore aboard the hell-ship Hofuku Maru which was torpedoed off Luzon in the Philippines by US aircraft. Out of around 1300 men aboard he was one of 221 survivors. He was put on another ship, the Hokusen Maru which ended up in Taiwan. Dad stayed on in Taiwan and was liberated from Shirikawa camp. The FEPOW community encouraged me to visit the National Archives in Kew to look for Dad’s liberation questionnaire and Japanese record card. To my amazement, both were there. It was an amazing moment when I first saw those records; written in his flowing handwriting in pencil, they answered so many questions I would have liked to ask. He had listed all the camps he had been in on the railway, and had written in detail about some of the horrors he had witnessed.

The information in Dad’s Liberation Questionnaire sowed the seeds for the plot of Bamboo Heart. To write the book though I did a great deal more research into the Malaya campaign and the plight of prisoners. I read several factual history books, including Surviving the Sword, The Fall of Singapore, etc. I also read as widely as I could about the war in South East Asia, although I found there wasn’t much fiction out there. I think […] must have been writing the Narrow Road to the Deep North at around the same time! I also did a great deal of internet research too including watching numerous documentaries on Youtube. Looking back at old diaries and photographs from my own trips were the inspiration for Laura’s journey in Bamboo Heart.

My research for Bamboo Heart taught me so much more about the war in the Far East than I had expected. I had not previously known how civilians suffered; about starvation and massacres, about bravery and sacrifice. It inspired me to explore those events from other angles and through other peoples’ stories. Bamboo Island is written from the point of view of an ordinary British woman who’d settled in Malaya but was caught up in the fall of Singapore. I was particularly moved by the sinking of the Vyner Brooke and the subsequent massacre of Australian nurses, which was the starting point for Juliet’s story. I read as much as I could about the civilian experience of living through the Japanese occupation. In particular Sheila Allen’s moving diary ‘Girl in Changi,’ made a great impression on me as did novels such as the Singapore Grip, and Amber Road (another Monsoon title).

Bamboo Road was inspired by the story of Boon Pong, a Thai merchant who took great risks to help prisoners of war building the death railway. I wanted to explore how the war and the Japanese occupation affected ordinary Thai people living in the area where the Death Railway was built. The great influx of Japanese soldiers and prisoners and the brutality and suffering must have had a devastating effect on their previously peaceful lives. I found out as much as I could about what it was like to live in the prosperous, peaceful community of Kanchanaburi before the railway came. I also researched Boon Pong’s own story, and visited his shophouse in Kanchanaburi whilst I was finalizing the draft. There isn’t a great deal written about him, but all the accounts, in ‘The Real Colonel of Tamarkan’ by Julie Summers, ‘Surviving the Sword’ and Beyond the Bamboo Screen, describe him as a very brave man with great humanity. I also read as much as I could about Thai culture and Buddhism, to understand my characters and what had influenced their outlook on life. I must have been to Thailand fifteen times since my first visit in 1985, so I have absorbed a great deal about the country and its culture during those visits which has found its way into the book. I should add that I have been trying to learn Thai for about five years now. It’s a difficult language to crack because of the different tones, the alphabet and the complex grammatical rules, but I’m sure that through that exercise I’ve absorbed a great deal about the country and its people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of these books here

Or why not add to your Goodreads here


About Ann Bennett

Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

You can find out more about Ann on her website – www.bambooheart.co.uk

Or Ann’s blog here

Or why not follow Ann on twitter – @annbennett71

Or Facebook here


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Ann for such a brilliant guest post!  And to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read any of the Bamboo Trilogy?  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 – Writing Harper by Cerrie Burnell


I am so excited to have the wonderful Cerrie Burnell on Tales to celebrate the release of another brilliant book in the Harper series, Harper and the Night Circus!

Harper and the Night Circus is a middle grade adventure and was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by Scholastic UK and is gorgeously illustrated by the super talented Laura Ellen Anderson.

Other Harper adventures include….


 

 

 

 

 

 

So today I welcome Cerrie to the blog with a brilliant guest post all about Writing Harper.


Total fantasy bliss! Magical birds, dark forests and fairytale cities: there’s no better book to get lost in. Harper is on a mission! Rumours tell of the mysterious Ice Raven who lives among the ebony trees, singing a magical song that can melt hardened hearts. Now the Wild Conductor wants to capture this mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. So Harper and her friends set off to find the bird. Their journey takes them from the mysterious Night Forest to the City of Singing Clocks. But soon Harper realises she faces a dilemma. Should a wild, free creature like the Ice Raven ever be tied down?


Writing Harper

My Favourite Five Fun facts about Harper are

1.

When Harper arrived on the rooftop of the Tall Apartment Block, she came only with the Scarlet Umbrella and a note pinned to it by the feather of a dove.

2.

Midnight her cat arrived the very same night at the stroke of 12- the name seemed perfect! To this day no one knows where exactly Midnight came from.

3.

Until she was eight, Harper had no idea the Scarlet Umbrella could fly, as it was inside a bird in her Great Aunt Sassy’s bathroom.

4.

Nate is the first person Harper shares the umbrella’s magic with, he doesn’t doubt her for a moment and they become firm friends.

5.

Even though the Wild Conductor did a terrible thing in taking her cat, Harper forgives him as she can see he’s just a man trying to follow his dreams.

Harper and the Night Forest by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson is published by Scholastic.
Available where all books are sold.

You can buy a copy of this book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Cerrie Burnell

Cerrie Burnell is a much-loved presenter on Cbeebies. She was named in the Observer’s top ten children’s presenters and also featured in the Guardian’s 2011 list of 100 most inspirational women where she received praise for tackling disability head on. Cerrie divides her time between London and Manchester. Her bestselling picture books Snowflakes and Mermaid, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson, have won critical acclaim. Magical adventure Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella was her first novel for young readers.

You can follow Cerrie on twitter – @cerrieburnell

About Laura Ellen Anderson

When she’s not trying to take over the world or fighting sock-stealing monsters, Laura Ellen Anderson is a professional children’s book author & illustrator, with an increasing addiction to coffee. She spends every waking hour creating & drawing and would quite like to live on the Moon when humans finally make it possible. 

You can find out more about Laura on her website – lauraellenanderson.tumblr.com

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @Lillustrator


Blog Tour

Why not follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Cerrie for such a brilliant guest post and a bit more about Harper!  And to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Harper and the Night Forest?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  Have you read any of the other Harper books?  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 – Thrills, Chills and Nightmares – Point Horror Box Sets by Mark Stewart


Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?

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

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

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

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


I know lots of people who hold Point Horror close to their hearts and one of the things I love about hosting the #PointHorrorBookClub is getting to chat to other fans from all over the world!

Mark Stewart , who lives in Australia, is also a huge fan of all things Point Horror and has been joining in with us on #PointHorrorBookClub for what seems like ages now.  Mark and I were chatting and he had a brilliant idea for a guest post about the Point Horror Box Sets so I invited him along to chat about them!

It’s such a fascinating post and shows how different the Point Horror Books were marketed in Australia and possibly were even released way before here in England! 

You can find out more about how the Point Horror Books came to be in England in this fab guest post about Publishing Point Horror by Anne Finnis-  here

*hands microphone to Mark*


Thrills, Chills and Nightmares – Point Horror Box Sets

As the popularity of Point Horror (PH) began to grow in the late 1980’s, Scholastic hit on the bright idea of packaging up some of their best-selling titles and selling them in box sets. These various sets were released until the mid 1990’s and, seriously, what horror junkie wouldn’t have loved unwrapping one of these babies on Christmas morning?

 Information on publishing dates, numbers released, titles included is scarce to say the least – in fact, even just finding out what sets exist is tricky! So I’m hoping that by sharing what information I have, that maybe some other information might come to light. Wherever I have made an assumption, I’ll endeavour to justify my reasoning.

 So let’s start at the start…

 The ‘Thrills, Chills and Nightmares’ (TCN) box set appears to be the first one released. There are a few reasons why I believe this to be the case: 1) The books included are from 1985 – 1988, 2) The ‘Point’ logo on the spines is pre ‘blood splatter’ and 3) the cover price of the set is $11.00 USD. The cover price is especially telling as I have no other PH box set with an $11.00 cover price; every other set I have has a higher price.

As pictured, I’ve been lucky enough to find a sealed set for my collection. Given that it is sealed, I feel it’s safe to say that the books included in the first TCN set are:

·         Slumber Party (1985) – Christopher Pike

·         Weekend (1986) – Christopher Pike

·         Twisted (1987) – R. L. Stine

·         The Lifeguard (1988) – Richie Tankersley Cusick

 The presence of ‘The Lifeguard’ dates this set as being from 1988 (at the earliest). I would assume that ‘The Lifeguard’ would be an early edition, potentially a first edition, whereas the others may be subsequent printings – but I’m not about to open my set to check!

 Including such big YA horror hitters as Pike, Stine and RTC I’m assuming led to a sales return from the box set idea that was pleasing to the powers that be at Scholastic. So the TCN box set was re-released, this time with a cover price of $11.80 USD. It’s quite easy to see the difference as the re-release’s cover price is on a white background as well.


Now here’s the catch – although I have two of the re-release box sets, both are unsealed and while both contain the same 4 books, one clearly has a couple of later release versions in it that someone presumably added in at a later stage. This leads to the biggest question mark I have over PH box sets – determining the make-up of the titles. Given that I do have two copies of the TCN re-release (from different places) and they both have the same titles, I’m 99% certain that these are the books originally included. One clue that helps me to be 99% confident is that the total cover price of the 4 books – $2.95 x 4 = $11.80

 The re-released TCN contains 3 different novels from the first:

·         Weekend (1986) – Christopher Pike

·         The Boyfriend (1990) – R. L. Stine

·         The Accident (1991) – Diane Hoh

·         The Snowman (1991) – R. L. Stine.

 As with the original TCN set, the age of the books helps identify a release date. So while the original TCN was released c. 1988, the TCN re-release was released c. 1991. The Accident and The Snowman in my set are both second edition printings, which makes some sense – I would assume that the initial print run would have been sold as standalone novels and then subsequently bundled into the box set.

 One other point of note with the two TCN sets is that the re-release features the cover art of a book (Slumber Party) that is absent from the set. This is pretty rare for PH box sets.

 The fact that the re-release of TCN seems to be c.1991 is made all the more intriguing by another great feature of PH – the sequel. In the case of TCN, two follow up box sets ‘More Thrills, Chills and Nightmares’ (MTCN) and ‘Still More Thrills, Chills and Nightmares’ (SMTCN) were released as the PH machine kicked into high gear.

It would appear that two versions of MTCN were released, however unlike TCN there is no difference in the cover price (both $11.80) and I would assume that both sets were released at the same time c.1989 based on the titles included.

 Version 1:

·         Blind Date (1986) – R. L. Stine

·         The Babysitter (1989) – R. L. Stine

·         Trick or Treat (1989) – Richie Tankersley Cusick

·         Party Line (1989) – A. Bates

 Version 2:

·         The Babysitter (1989) – R. L. Stine

·         Trick or Treat (1989) – Richie Tankersley Cusick

·         Party Line (1989) – A. Bates

·         Prom Dress (1989) – Lael Littke

 The only difference between the sets is ‘Blind Date’ and ‘Prom Dress’. Online research shows a number of different sites listing both versions. I’ve yet to see a sealed set, so I can’t be 100% sure of the titles, however these two combinations are all I’ve ever come across, so I don’t believe there is a third version.

 So our time line now reads:

 1988 – TCN

1989 – MTCN

1990 –

1991 – TCN (re-release)

 “So what about 1990?” I hear you cry – and you have a point. Filling that gap is SMTCN. Also with a cover price of $11.80, its line-up of titles suggests that it is our c. 1990 set. I’m only aware of one version of this set:

·         My Secret Admirer (1989) – Carol Ellis

·         April Fools (1990) – Richie Tankersley Cusick

·         Beach Party (1990) – R. L. Stine

·         Final Exam (1990) – A. Bates

 In summary, the ‘Thrills, Chills and Nightmares’ series of box sets provided PH fans with a great selection of titles across 5 sets spanning 4 years. With the inclusion of some PH classics, I’ve no doubt that the sets were big winners with the fans. The re-release of TCN in 1991 is a bit of an oddity; perhaps they had left over sleeves that they wanted to use up as opposed to designing new ones? Perhaps the presence of other box sets on the shelves led Scholastic to believe that readers who may have missed out on the first set and had since bought the latter sets might want to complete their collection? There is certainly no doubt that the sequel sets preceded the re-release of TCN, so it might just remain a mystery for some time to come!

Well, that’s enough for today – I’ll have another box set story for you shortly 🙂

Please feel free to comment below.

Mark


A huge huge thank you to Mark for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab guest post!

I honestly cannot thank Mark enough!  Point Horror was my childhood and I feel so honoured to be able to still chat about it today! 

*claps hands excitedly*

It’s such a fascinating post and shows how different the Point Horror Books were marketed in Australia and possibly were even released way before here in England!

Were these box sets even released over here in England?  And with the likes of Pike appearing in these box sets and Twisted by R L Stine under the then named Point banner why were these excluded from the Point Horror brand in England?  So many questions!  But so many extra books to potentially add into our Point Horror collections!

You can find out more about how the Point Horror Books came to be in England in this fab guest post about Publishing Point Horror by Anne Finnis-  here


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

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

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

You can find all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new here

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

Happy Point Horror-ing!

Guest Post – Sweet Elixir by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Masquerade by Laura Lam!

Masquerade is the third and final novel in Laura Lam’s Micah Grey trilogy, following Pantomime and Shadowplay, and was published on the 9th March 2017.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I am super excited to have Laura on the blog today.  Each chapter of Masquerade contains an italicised header which relates to the book in some way. Laura dedicated a lot of time to researching and selecting each excerpt and I’m so honoured to be sharing one of them today, with a bit of explanation from Laura on what each means, where it’s from, etc.

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Old magics are waking. But will the world survive their return?

Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan – now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.

Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be – a noble family’s runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah’s latent powers influence this deadly pattern?

The gifted hide their talents, but dare they step into the light?

Micah’s Chimaera powers are growing, until his dark visions overwhelm him. Drystan is forced to take him to Dr Pozzi, to save his life. But can they really trust the doctor, especially when a close friend is revealed to be his spy?

Meanwhile, violent unrest is sweeping the country, as anti-royalist factions fight to be heard. Then three chimaera are attacked, after revealing their existence with the monarchy’s blessing – and the struggle becomes personal. A small sect decimated the chimaera in ancient times and nearly destroyed the world. Now they’ve re-emerged to spread terror once more. Micah will discover a royal secret, which draws him into the heart of the conflict. And he and his friends must risk everything to finally bring peace to their land.

You can buy these books here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


Sweet Elixir

The thing about addiction is that I know it’s what will kill me. It won’t be a carriage in the road, or a common flu, or even the slow creep of cancer. It’s almost certain that Lerium will be what ends me. And there’s a strange, awful sort of comfort in that.

From the anonymous memoir of a Lerium addict, discovered and published post-mortem

Every chapter in the Micah Grey series has a short found document at the start, ranging from a variety of sources: history books, diaries, songs, poetry, and more. It’s basically a sneaky way to add in more worldbuilding and detail about Ellada & the Archipelago.

Addiction is a reoccurring theme in Masquerade.If anyone has read my tie-in Vestigial Tale “The Card Sharp,” it picks up on a lot of threads that are introduced in that novella. Lerium is the fictional drug within Ellada, which has clear parallels to opium in the 19th century. It was only used in very special religious ceremonies in one of the former colonies, Byssia, but Elladans took it and used it commercially because of colonialism. The colonies have long seceded from Ellada, reclaiming their independence, but the damage has been done. There’s another drug that’s sort of a continuation of Lerium as well, and it complicates a lot of character interactions within the final book. A little vague, but difficult to talk about the third book in a trilogy!

You can buy Masquerade or any of the Micah Grey Series here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


About Laura Lam

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Laura for such a brilliant guest post and a fascinating insight into the trilogy!  And to Alice at Pan Macmillan for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read any of the Micah Grey Series?  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 – 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!

Guest Post – Inspiration For The Setting Of See How They Lie by Sue Wallman


I was a huge fan of Sue Wallman’s debut Lying About Last Summer which was released last year and was also featured as part of the #ZoellaBookClub and I have been craving her next book ever since!

See How They Lie was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by Scholastic and when it dropped through my letterbox I started it straight away!

See How They Lie is set in at Hummingbird Creek, an elite wellness retreat where rich teens with psychological problems can get the help and the setting really captures your imagination from the offset.  I was interested in why Sue chose this particular setting for her second book.  Find out more in this fab guest post from the lady herself!

I also have an awesome giveaway!  Details at the bottom of the post!


Mae feels lucky to have grown up at Hummingbird Creek, an elite wellness retreat where rich teens with psychological problems can get the help they need from her father, a prominent psychiatrist. The Creek has world-class cuisine, a state-of-the-art sports centre and the latest spa treatments. Every aspect of daily life is monitored for optimal health, and there are strict rules for everyone. When Mae is caught breaking the rules, the response is severe. She starts to question everything about her highly controlled life. And at the Creek, asking questions can be dangerous.


Inspiration For The Setting Of See How They Lie

I’d been searching for an idea for my next book for what seemed like months and I was starting to panic. The right idea just wouldn’t emerge. I thought back through my life experiences to see if that would spark anything – and then I remembered: when I was six I lived in a psychiatric hospital in York. My dad had started a new job as a psychiatrist there, and my parents hadn’t yet found a house to buy.

The five of us (my sister was eight and my brother was four) moved into an unused part of the hospital. We didn’t have our own entrance – just a thick-fabric screen partitioning off our section of the building (the sort that people change behind in period dramas). We slept on hospital beds which felt perilously high up off the ground until we got used to them. For some reason their height wasn’t adjustable. I spent most of my time cycling round paths in the beautiful rose garden with my sister. Once a week we had a formal Sunday lunch with the matron, and we had to be on our best behaviour because she was pretty scary.

Occasionally we were taken to say hello to the patients. We knew we had to be polite and respectful. They all seemed to be the same age (old) to six-year-old me, and I remember not being sure what to say, and often not understanding what they were saying. My dad knew what to say though, and this made me proud.

Then Mum and Dad bought a house, we moved out of the hospital and we had a new normal.

It wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to think about what it would be like for someone to be brought up for years in an isolated psychiatric facility as a doctor’s daughter. I made the facility super-luxurious, and more of a wellness retreat. And then I added a large amount of creepiness because otherwise it wouldn’t be a psychological thriller!

You can buy a copy of See How They Lie here or from your local bookshop


About Sue Wallman

Sue Wallman is a journalist who lives in London with her husband and three teenage daughters. In 2013 she won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize first chapter award judged by Rachel Joyce and Kate Mosse. LYING ABOUT LAST SUMMER is her debut novel followed by See How They Lie.

To find out more about Sue Wallman you can visit her website – http://suewallman.co.uk

Or why not follow her on twitter using @swallman

You can find my review of Lying About Last Summer here

Or find our which character from Lying About Last Summer you are here


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 3 copies of this fab YA Thriller to giveaway on twitter.

You can enter here

Ends 15/03/2017

UK Only

Good Luck!


A huge thank you to Sue for such a brilliant guest post and insight into the inspiration behind the book!  And to Olivia at Scholastic for organising and asking me to host a fab giveaway!

Have you read See How They Lie?  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, Explorers and Exploring by Roland Chambers


Today I am hugely excited to have the wonderful Roland Chambers on Tales with a wonderful guest post!

Roland Chamber is the author of Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern which was released on the 2nd February and previously Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody which was released in 2015 and are wonderful middle grade reads.  Both books are beautifully illustrated by Ella Okstad.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The books follow the epic adventures of explorer Nelly and her best friend and sidekick, a turtle called Columbus.

Nelly makes for a clever, tenacious and positive female protagonist.” – The School Librarian

Roland did some fascinating research into real-life female explorers for the books. Nelly becomes a balloonist in the latest book, which draws inspiration from the eighteenth-century ballooning pioneer Sophie Blanchard.

With this in mind, and the fact that it’s International woman’s day on the 8th March, we thought this would make a really fascinating blog post about inspiration and exploring and explorers……


One girl. One turtle. One epic voyage! If you like Pippi Longstocking, you’ll love Nelly Peabody.
When Nelly says she’s going to do a thing, she does it, whatever it is.
Learn to juggle china cups? Of course!
Live on lemons for a month? Why not?
Set out in a boat with knitted sails to find her long-lost father, with only her turtle Columbus for company? Absolutely!
And she won’t let anything get in her way . . .

Sometimes secrets are hidden in the most obvious places.
When Nelly returns home to discover that her mother has mysteriously disappeared, she vows to stop at nothing until she’s found her.
Climb to the tops of the clouds in a laundry basket? Why not? Dive to the depths of the ocean in an oversized tin can? Of course! Leave her turtle, Columbus, behind? CERTAINLY NOT! He’s her best friend, what an awful suggestion.
Together they will find the answers!
An original, quirky adventure story, beautifully written, packed with eccentric characters, and illustrated throughout in two colour. If you like Pippi Longstocking, you’ll love Nelly Peabody.


Inspiration, Explorers and Exploring

When my daughter Nelly was born I was the first person to make eye contact with her as she cartwheeled up into her mother’s arms. It was such an intense moment that I remember it in black and white, in freeze frames. That’s what it was like for me – electrifying, life-changing – but just imagine what it must have been like for her. The shock of it. The sudden freedom of movement. The cold air on her skin and this hairy giant goggling at her. This doting monster. The atmosphere of a new and strange planet filling her lungs.

When we think of explorers, we often think of men with snow-caked beards gripping ice-picks or hacking at tropical undergrowth, but actually we are all explorers from the moment we’re born. Some people don’t like to admit it. They live their lives as far as possible from the edge, making sure they know where everything is and what’s going to happen next, eating the same breakfast every day, taking the same route to work. But some people want to keep on busting out, and at least half of them are women, like my daughter Nelly, leaping from high furniture, conquering the BMX track, listening wide eyed to stories of Sophie Blanchard, who over two hundred years ago amazed the world by taking to the air beneath a hydrogen balloon in a basket no bigger than a rocking chair.

A little while ago I wrote a book about a fictional Nelly who sets off to find her missing father in a boat with knitted sails and only her pet turtle, Columbus, for company. Nelly sails half way round the world to discover the truant still in his pyjamas, gone native in a forest of his own planting, and along the way has so many adventures of her own she forgives him a little for his thoughtlessness. Then she comes home, only to discover her mother has vanished too, so off she goes again, this time in a hot air balloon, like the mighty Sophie Blanchard. She floats to the very edge of space, where it is impossible to breath, but before she finally solves the mystery, she has to dive to the bottom of the ocean too, because pinning down a mother is not an easy thing. A mother is a whole world.

Exploring is about returning to the beginning, to the astonishment of being born, which is why the Victorians were always hunting for the source of famous rivers, like the Nile or the Amazon. It’s about breaking new ground, but it’s also an act of self-discovery. A journey to the centre, into the great, dark interior, where all true things live. Or that’s what Nelly finds. She follows in the footsteps of women like Sacawega, who led the Lewis and Clark expedition into the Wild West, or the deep sea diver Sylvia Earl. She finds out where her mother is and in hunting her down, begins to understand her. She discovers her own source, the origin of Nelly, but not so completely that there will be no need of further adventures. Of course not! Because being born is one thing, but you wouldn’t want to leave it at that, would you? Not if you’re a real explorer. You’ll need to do it again and again until you’ve busted out completely, whatever that means, wherever that goes. Let your inner Nelly take you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of these books here or from your local bookshop


About Roland Chambers

Roland Chambers has had some adventures of his own. He’s been a pig farmer, a film maker, a journalist, a pastry chef, a cartoonist, a teacher, a private detective and an author. He’s also lived in a few different countries, including Scotland, Australia, Poland, America and Russia. Now he lives with a professor next to a cake shop in London. He owns two cats, two children and two guinea pigs. Roland is currently working with the charity First Story (http://www.firststory.co.uk/) as a writer-in-residence at Pimlico Academy.

You can find out more about Roland on his website – www.rolandchambers.com

About Ella Okstad

Ella Okstad was born in Trondheim, Norway in 1973. She graduated from Kent Institute of Art and Design with a BA Hons degree in illustration in 2000. She now lives and works in Trondheim, Norway.  She has illustrated a range of children’s books including the Squishy McFluff series (Faber & Faber). She illustrated the first Nelly adventure Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody and most recently Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern.


A huge thank you to Roland for a fantastic post!  Also a huge big thank you to Hannah at OUP for asking me to host.

Have you read any of Nelly’s adventures?  Who are your favourite explorers?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Pavee and the Buffer Girl Mini Animation – Cave by Emma Shoard


I am hugely excited to share with you a third stunningly brilliant animated gif to celebrate the release of The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd illustrated the absolutely talented Emma Shoard.

This beautiful illustrated book was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by the lovely people at Barrington Stokes and I simply cannot wait to get my hands on it!

This mini animation is simply just gorgeous so sit back, relax and find out more about The Pavee and the Buffer Girl….


Jim and his family have halted by Dundray and the education people have been round mouthing the law. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called ‘tinker-stinkers’, ‘dirty gyps’ and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber of the cave below the town. With Kit and the reading, Jim seems to have found a way to exist in Dundray, but everyday prejudice and a shocking act of violence see his life uprooted once again.


The Pavee and the Buffer Girl – Mini Animation – Cave

I decided a while ago that after I had finished the illustrations for The Pavee and the Buffer Girl and the drawings decided upon had gone off to print, that I would like to animate a few scenes from the book. I studied animation a little bit at University but this would largely be a new process for me and it was exciting to imagine what it might bring to the illustrations. It was a way for me to continue developing a project that I have loved working on since receiving the commission back in 2015.

With these animations I wanted it to create the idea that the world inhabited by Jim and Kit continues beyond the page by introducing small movements to an illustration or having a character move through it. The three scenes I have chosen – the third of which appears here today – are all from different points in the book and hopefully tell you a little about the characters and setting of the story.

Cave

With two characters side by side and both moving independently, this was the most challenging illustration to animate. The background is very simple, all of the focus is on them so I needed to give them as much detail as possible. I planned the timing for when Kit would look up at Jim and enjoyed drawing her expressions changing as Jim’s stay neutral focussing on the book. There is quite a lot going on even in the moments where I have tried to create stillness, but I quite like some of the slightly unexpected movements created by the looped drawings, such as the way Kit’s fingers move from the page of the book back to her knee. And the way that the shadows move reminds me of the flickering light of a sea cave.

You can buy a copy of this book here or from you local bookshop

You can find some other mini The Pavee and the Buffer Girl animations over on the following blogs:

YA Yeah Yeah – The Library

Book Lover Jo – Town


About Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd was a highly regarded author, winning the Branford Boase Award, the Bisto Award and, posthumously, the Carnegie Medal. She worked in human rights in the UK and America, particularly for writers’ organisation PEN. The Pavee and the Buffer Girl was her first story, followed by four remarkable novels written before her death at age 47 in 2007. Her legacy includes the Siobhan Dowd Trust, working to bring books to deprived children, and A Monster Calls , a novel adapted by Patrick Ness from one of her ideas.

You can find out more about Siobhan, her books and the Siobhan Dowd Trust on the website – www.siobhandowdtrust.com

Or why not follow on twitter – @sdowdtrust

About Emma Shoard

Emma Shoard is an illustrator and printmaker who graduated in 2011 from Kingston University’s Illustration & Animation course. She also works part-time as a bookseller. Emma lives in London on a barge on the Thames.

You can find out more about Emma on her website – www.emmashoard.co.uk

Or why not follow Emma on twitter – @EmmaShoard


A huge thank you to Emma for a fantastic post and gorgeous animation!  Also a huge big thank you to Nina at Barrington Stokes for asking me to host.

What did you think of the animation?  Are you tempted 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!

Guest Post – 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time by Angie Stanton


I’m super excited to be sharing a brilliant guest post today about a brand new YA Romance, Waking In Time by Angie Stanton pitched as a Time Travellers Wife for the YA market.

Waking In Time is due to be released on the 9th March 2017 published by Curious Fox and is set to be a page-turning story full of romance, twists and delightful details about uni life then and now and will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

#WakingInTime

Today I’m sharing the top 5 reasons to read Waking In Time….


Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby”, Abbi has arrived at uni to start her first year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backwards through time. Will is a charming student from 1927 who travels forwards through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby and plead with their champion, a kindly physics tutor, to help them find each other again …even though the tutor gets younger each time Abbi meets him.


Top 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time

  1. Time Travel – I mean, who doesn’t wonder what it’s like to live in another time. It’s a subject that’s long fascinated me. I’m quick to watch every movie on the topic, and I have a shelf full of time travel books. People are saying Waking in Time is a Time Traveler’s Wife for YA – which is so flattering as that’s my favourite book!
    1. Love Story – I wanted to create a love story that I would believe in, that readers would fall in love with, and, as a writer, you’re always looking for tension or obstacles which stop your couple getting together, so that, ultimately they can overcome those obstacles and it’s happy ever after.

     

    1. Secrets – There’s so many secrets! When you have one character from present day travelling back in time, and another from the past who only travels forward, there’s so much information they need to keep to themselves in order not to mess with time and put their own futures at risk.

     

    1. Buried treasure –Imagine discovering that a local legend of buried treasure turns out to be true! It was great fun deciding where to hide it and what items to include in the treasure box that would add more twists and turns to the story. Can you picture communicating over time via a buried time capsule!

     

    1. True story – the best stories for me, are always based in fact, and when I did research into my own family history I discovered a relative with gaps in her fascinating history, leaving me wondering what really happened to her. When I exhausted all my research without any answers, I realized the only way to find out the truth would be to travel back in time. And that’s how the idea of Waking in Time was born.

You can buy a copy of Waking In Time here or from your local bookshop!


About Angie Stanton

American author Angie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult she’s learned to put her talent to good use and writes contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. She is the best selling author of eight novels including Rock and a Hard Place, and Love ’em or Leave ’em. Angie has a Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best entertainment experience on earth, Broadway. She is currently working on a series of Broadwaythemed books, and is also a contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com. 

You can find out more about Angie on her website – www.angiestanton.com

Or why not follow Angie on twitter – @angie_stanton


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops or by using the hashtag #WakingInTime


A huge thank you to Angie for a fab guest post and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read Waking In Time?  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!

Guest Post – Writing A Sequel by Sarah Mussi


Today I am so so happy  to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Witches by the lovely Sarah Mussi!

Here Be Witches was released on the 1st March 2017 published by Shrine Bell and is book two in Sarah’s Snowdonia Chronicles series!  I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!

Find out more about the first in the series, Here Be Dragons in this previous guest post here

Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses exactly how to write a sequel…….

*Drum roll*


Here Be Witches is the second book in the Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy by Sarah Mussi. A perilous adventure into the magical and murderous realm of mythical Snowdonia.

All Ellie Morgan wants is to be with her one true love, Henry. But she’s caught in the middle of a BATTLE as old as SNOWDON itself. A battle between GOOD and EVIL.

A WITCHES’ SPELL, cast high on the mountain, has sped up time and made matters MUCH WORSE. The dragons are awake; mythical creatures and evil ghosts have risen. And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.

Thank heavens for loyal friend George, (disloyal) bestie Rhi, and mysterious stranger, Davey. Armed with Granny Jones’s potions, Ellie and her companions must set out on a journey to REVERSE THE SPELL, stop the EVIL White Dragon and find Henry.

As an eternal winter tightens its grip on Snowdon, Ellie and her friends have just THREE DAYS to SURVIVE and complete their quest.


Writing A Sequel

I’m totally thrilled to be with Tales of Yesterday on day two of my blog tour for book two in The Snowdonia Chronicles: Here be Witches

THANK YOU SO MUCH Tales of Yesterday!

During my blog tour I will be interviewing myself on HOW TO WRITE A SEQUEL!

So here goes…

Sarah interviews Sarah on how to write a sequel in a thrilling and compelling romantic fantasy!

Sarah

Welcome to the world of WRITING A SEQUEL.

I am using Here be Witches to explain my thinking on how I did it.

Q.

OK.  Great. I shall be asking you lots of questions … now where did we get to?

 Sarah

A.

We got to the narrative equation and writing a synopsis.

 Q.

Ah! I remember you were going to share the synopsis of Here be Witches, can you do that now?

A.

Well, a synopsis can go on for a bit longer than you might want to post here, and a synopsis for a sequel might have to contain vital exposition from book one … so I’ll just put the beginning of the synopsis for Here be Witches in this blog. The beginning is always the most important bit anyway, as it sets the scene, identifies the genre and whets the appetite (hopefully) for more. So here goes …

Here be Witches

Ellie’s heart is broken and there is only one person who can mend it: Henry Pendragon, royal heir and Y Ddraig Goch, Red Dragon of Wales. But Henry can’t help Ellie, for he is badly wounded and entombed under Mount Snowdon, held there by ancient magic along with Sir Oswald, his fiendish uncle, and White Dragon of Wessex.

 Determined to free Henry, Ellie dedicates herself to the task. On the 29th February, an auspicious day in the calendar of dragons, she receives a distressed message from her bestie, Rhiannon, something terrible has happened at Henry’s cavern. Her heart misses a beat. As soon as possible, Ellie sets out for Dinas Emrys where Henry lies imprisoned. 

 On her arrival at the lair, Ellie discovers that her friend, and other members of a witches’ coven have performed a sinister ritual on the cliffs above the subterranean cavern, a ceremony designed to break the magic laid upon the dragons and awake them. 

 In horror Ellie hears how the ceremony went terribly wrong. The earth cracked wide, one of the girls slipped into the chasm and was impaled upon two shimmering crystals. With a sound like thunder, the mountain split open and from inside it arose a terrifying white dragon, alive, awake and very angry …

Q.

Yes, I see how each paragraph is a scene with some paragraphs acting as exposition too, but I can also see that because you have chosen to have Ellie as the narrator again, you have been unable or chosen not to have her see the witches’ ceremony first hand. Why was that?

A.

OK, those are very perceptive questions, and I can’t answer them fully until we have established a few basics. Can I just go back to basics for a minute?

Q.

Sure. Go ahead.

A.

Right before we dive into the content and the problems of point of view and the delivery of ‘off stage’ scenes, I’d like to show you how I answered some fundamental narrative questions when planning Here be Witches. They involve looking at:

What exactly is a narrative?

What exactly is a plot?

What exactly is structure?

 Q.

Why do you need to ask that?

 A.

It really helps with the planning. Here’s why…

In a narrative you need at least three things:

A character, a setting, some events (so in Here be Witches that breakdown runs like this: Ellie lives in Snowdonia and must overcome problems to achieve her goal).

In a plot we need at least three things

A character, a goal, a problem (so Ellie’s goal is to be with her true love Henry, but the magic, which has gone wrong, has banished Henry forever from the world).

For a structure we at least need three things

A beginning, middle, and an end (therefore Ellie must discover why Henry has been banished and then set out to find a way to reverse the magic and restore Henry to her and finally overcome those who wish to stop her).

Once you’ve got that in place then you can then decide about narration and point of view and ask yourself, if your lead character/protagonist is really the best person to tell this story and the one most affected by the action in general. If the answer is yes – you can then use additional devices to ‘show’ key ‘off stage’ scenes that are not within the remit of the protagonist’s point of view.

Only then can you really start to climb the narrative mountain and plan out a totally thrilling story:

Q.

OK, but how did you decide Ellie WAS the best character to narrate this story?

 A.

Well despite the fact that she was the narrator in book one Here be Dragons and there might be readers who are already invested in her story, I had to establish that she was still the best character to continue to tell the story and to do this I had to revisit an important  principle – that it’s not what happens in a story, so much as who it happens to that is the most important aspect.  Readers live the story through the characters, so they need a really nice/reliable (usually)/interesting and convincing companion to see/live the events through.

Q.

But what makes an interesting, convincing character?

 A.

Good question! Here’s the way I decide:

Firstly a character needs characteristics

A main character should be heroic, and strong (perhaps)? Good-looking (controversial?) Independent? Kind?  I try to think of characters I admire in fiction I’ve read and ask myself why do I like them? Then add my answers into the mix when creating my characters.

I also like to choose a flaw that my protagonist will need to overcome. Flaws make us human and help readers to identify with the character and understand the decisions they make. (My flaw for Ellie is that she is loving out of her element, and it is bringing harm down on those others who love her and on her home.)

Secondly, a character drives the plot forward

So a goal is important, as this is the engine of the story. I always choose the person who has the strongest/most interesting/most identifiable with goal to narrate my stories (forbidden love is a V strong goal and has driven many a better narrative than mine!). The character’s desire to achieve their goal drives the action forward, and when the character meets conflict they struggle to overcome it.

Note to self pinned on my wall: PROTAGONISTS MUST CONFRONT OVERWHELMING CONFLICT IN THEIR PURSUIT OF SOME VISIBLE GOAL.

This is so key because then the plot structure simply follows the sequence of events that lead the hero toward their goal, which mean all the hard work of plotting is done for me!

Thirdly, a character with a goal has motivation

Motivations make the character keep going when things get tough. Though sometimes it is the fear of what will happen if they fail and the stakes that drive them forward.

Finally, a character needs a background

Name/age and looks/ family/a place to live – all these things can help to make the story just right for the reader – as I choose a protagonist that might be very like the reader in some of these aspects to create reader identification.

After thinking about all of these points I decided that Ellie was still the main character and I was going to tell the story from her point of view.

Q.

So will you tell us then how you dealt with ‘off stage’ scenes and what devices you used to help the reader feel present at the action?

 A.

Yes!

I’ll do that in my next post!

So stand by for tomorrow’s blog with tips and tricks for drip-feeding or even elbowing-in all the dreaded EXPOSITION and POV conundrums with Queen of Teen Fiction! http://www.queenofteenfiction.co.uk/

SEE YOU THERE!

You can buy a copy of Here Be Witches here or from your local bookshop

 


About Sarah Mussi

Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).

Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi

You can buy Sarah’s books here


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Sarah for a fab guest post and to Lorna at VP for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Here Be Witches?  What did you think?  Will you be picking up a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

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