Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small by Lisa Hartley


Today I have a fab guest post to celebrate the release of Ask No Questions by Lisa Hartley.

Ask No Questions was release on the 10th July 2017 published in ebook format and is set to be a page turning adult fiction thriller that will set your pulse racing!

So today I thought we should find out a little about the main Detective in the novel, Detective Caelan Small…..


Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one

After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.

Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect – even close colleagues.

Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions.

This isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.

The nerve-shredding new crime thriller from bestseller Lisa Hartley starts a must-read new series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza, it will keep you guessing until the very end.


Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small

Thank you for the opportunity to write a guest post about Detective Caelan Small, the main character in my latest book, ‘Ask No Questions’. I’m so excited about bloggers and readers meeting Caelan, and stepping into her world. She’s a character I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, and as this is the first book in a new series, I feel there’s much more to come from her.

Here are five things to know about Caelan:

1) Caelan was a police officer with the Metropolitan Police, specialising in undercover work. At the beginning of the book, she has resigned from her job. Her decision was made when operation she was involved went disastrously wrong. During the fallout which followed, Caelan decided she could no longer work for the Met. She went on holiday to Egypt to recover, and to consider her options. Before long, she is offered an opportunity, and has decisions to make.

2) She is loyal to her colleagues, and willing to stick her neck out for the people she trusts. In her job, she and the people she worked with had to rely on each other, especially during undercover operations, when a mistake could have cost them their lives. She knows who she can trust, or believes she does. As the book progresses, and Caelan is drawn deeper into an investigation, she begins to question everything she thought she knew.

3) Caelan has lived in London for nine years, though she doesn’t feel as though she has explored the city as much as she would have liked to. She’s spent a lot of time getting to know the people and places of the darker side of the city, and not so much seeing the sights. She recently moved into an apartment in Rotherhithe, on the banks of the Thames, and previously lived in Camden.

4) She is confident in her own abilities, and knows her own worth. The head of her undercover unit describes her as “the best we have”, and most of her fellow officers agree. Some, however, believe Caelan is a liability, and aren’t afraid to voice that opinion.

5) Her name is pronounced “Kaylen”. Not Carlin, Callen or Colin. Some sources say “Caelan” is an Irish or Gaelic name meaning ‘powerful warrior’ or ‘child’. I’ve read it was originally thought of as a boy’s name, but more recently has been used for girls as well.

You can buy a copy of Ask No Questions here

Or why not add this to your Goodreads list here


About Lisa Hartley


Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel.

You can find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisahartley.co.uk

Or why not follow Lisa on twitter – @rainedonparade


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lisa for a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour.

Have you read Ask No Questions?  What did you think?  Do you love a good thriller?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band” by Chris Russell


I am so so excited to have the wonderful and awesome Chris Russell on the blog today to celebrate the release of his second book in his fab Songs About A Girl Trilogy, Songs About Us.

Songs About Us was released on the 13th July 2017 published by Hodder Children’s Books and is set to be a phenomenal read that will set your heart racing!

A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

I’ve met Chris a few times now and I know he is in a brilliant band called The Lightyears so when Chris got in touch about a post I jumped straight in and asked him for his top tips on “Being With The Band”…..


A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

Two months on from the explosive finale to book one, Charlie’s life is almost back to normal again: rebuilding her relationship with her father, hanging out with best mate Melissa, and worrying about GCSEs. All the while, Gabe’s revelations about her mother are never far from her mind. And neither is Gabe.

It’s not long before Charlie is pulled back into the world of Fire&Lights – but the band seem different this time. But then again, so is she…

Meanwhile, tensions between Gabe and Olly continue to run high, leading to more turmoil between the band members and press than ever before. But when Gabriel and Charlie stumble upon yet another startling truth that links them together – everything they have stands to implode in front of them.


Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy both Songs About A Girl and Songs About Us here or from your local bookshop!


About Chris Russell

When I was thirteen, my best friend and I went to a Bon Jovi concert at Wembley Stadium. We thought it looked like fun, so we started our own band – a band that, ten years later, would become The Lightyears. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to tour all over the world, from Cape Town to South Korea, playing at Glastonbury Festival and O2 Arena and supporting members of legendary rock bands such as Queen, Journey and The Who. And though we never made it anywhere near as big as Bon Jovi, we did get to play Wembley Stadium, four times, to crowds of over 45,000 people.

Music aside, writing was my first love. In 2014, I published a novel called MOCKSTARS, which was inspired by my tour diaries for The Lightyears. Shortly afterwards, following a three-month stint ghostwriting for a One Direction fan club, I came up with the idea of a YA novel that combined an intense teenage romance with the electrifying universe of a chart-topping boyband. That idea became the trilogy SONGS ABOUT A GIRL, which was signed up by Hodder Children’s in 2015, and has sold in multiple territories worldwide.

You can find out more about Chris in his website –www.chrisrussellwrites.com

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @chrisrusselluk


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Chris for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour and for going along with my insane idea for a video!  Also a huge thank you to Hachette for sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read Songs About A Girl and/or Songs About Us?  What did you think?  Do you love Boy Band Lit??  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – End Times by Joss Stirling


I was super excited to have received a set of the brilliant Young Detective Agency series by Joss Stirling to celebrate the recent release of the final book in the series Scorched.

Scorched was published on the 6th April 2017 by the lovely people at OUP and I literally cannot wait to jump into this series.

So I asked Joss Stirling if she would like to feature on Tales to discuss endings and how it felt to write and ending.  Do things ever really end…..


Love is a fire. But who will get burned?

Ember Lord is facing charges for the murder of her father. She was found at the scene of the crime, holding the murder weapon, and refuses to explain herself.

Joe Masters is tasked with getting under Ember’s skin, and breaking through her stony facade; to gain her trust and find out what her plans are now her father’s legally-questionable business is under her control.

But as the two get closer, Joe begins to break down the wall that Ember has built around herself, and gets a glimpse of the truth behind. Is he really falling for a cold-hearted killer? Or is there more to the murder than meets the eye?

The incredible final instalment of Joss Stirling’s Young Detective Agency series, a companion novel to Stung, Shaken, and the award-winning Struck. Romantic thrillers that will make your heart skip a beat.

Check out the other books in this fab series….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


End Times

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert

That’s how most writers feel when they get to the end of a series. I’ve just waved off Scorched to your bookshelves, the last in the Struck series. This was always planned as four books (Struck, Stung, Shaken and Scorched) so I knew I was on the last lap. My young detectives had gone undercover in a boarding school, been on a chase from Jakarta to London, rocked New York and now…well they had to break out of prison, naturally!

Yet there was also the matter of the bigger patterns in the story stretching across all the books. I had settled some things, found partners for my young detectives, but I also needed to discover what would be a suitable stopping point. I knew some things in advance:

–    I wasn’t going to do a Hamlet (i.e. all the main characters die)

–    It was going to be upbeat, a little euphoric. On this I usually side with Bilbo, here talking to Frodo as his nephew sets out on his quest:

“Have you thought of an ending?”

“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”

“Oh, that won’t do! Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?”

There is enough darkness in the world without adding to it in a series that, though it covers serious themes, is mainly there for your reading pleasure.

–    There ought to be a sense of what life might be like in the future for the characters, allowing of course for the ups and downs we all experience. Perhaps a little bitterness mixed in with the sweet so that it feels more like the mixed-bag-that-is-life?

–    Everyone should be there. In a series, a reader invests time in all the characters so it’s only fair the reader gets to see them all again, something like the curtain call at the end of a show.

So, without giving any more away, that was what I was trying to do for the boys from the YDA, Joe, Damien, Nathan and Kieran.

Yet, as Herbert says, there is no real ending. I know I will get messages from readers wanting more – that is like asking for the film to start up again after the credits role. I’m sure that is why J K Rowling added that scene at the railway station at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She was trying to get ahead of the fans. But, of course, that turns out not to be the end either. She went back to it in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It is so difficult to leave your story alone.

Do you have a favourite ending? Thinking about this blog post, I was wondering if there had ever been a poll on this. I found a list on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/574.Best_Ending) which includes a some of my favourites. The Great Gatsby gets my vote for sheer poetry. 1984 for bleakness. A Tale of Two Cities must be one of the most heroic and poignant. The Lord of the Rings also wins for its message that sometimes the heroes don’t get the reward, but it is left to those that they save. Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the happiest.

I can’t possibly try to match the brilliance of these examples but I hope you enjoy what I did in Scorched with my own sense of things coming to an end. However, I should warn you, I’m going to give my last word to the novelist, Graham Greene, who wrote in a book aptly named The End of the Affair:

‘Chemists tell you matter is never completely destroyed, and mathematicians tell you that if you halve each pace in crossing a room, you will never reach the opposite wall, so what an optimist I would be if I thought that this story ended here.’

You can buy a copy of Scorched or any of the fab Young Detective Agency series here or from your local bookshop!


About Joss Stirling

Joss Stirling is the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2015 for STRUCK (first published as Storm and Stone) – the first time the award has been given to a teen book. You can find a book trailer on this page, where young detectives take a turn to star. The sequels are called STUNG and SHAKEN.

She is also the author of the internationally successful FINDING SKY, STEALING PHOENIX and SEEKING CRYSTAL, the first three books about the Benedict brothers, a family with extraordinary gifts. The stories combine her love for romance, mystery and travel – oh, yes and some seriously attractive heroes.

Readers demanded to know what happens to the remaining brothers so the next in the savant series, MISTY FALLS. Find out which Benedict brother meets his match! The story continues in ANGEL DARES – meet Joss’ most outrageous heroine yet! The series concludes with SUMMER SHADOWS.

Joss lives in Oxford, UK, is married with three children.

You can find out more and speak to Joss at www.jossstirling.co.uk.

Or why not follow Joss on twitter using – @jossstirling

I previously spotlight Joss Stirling’s Benedict Brothers series here


A huge huge thank you to Joss for such a fab post and to OUP for sending me the books and asking me to host!

Have you read Scorched or any of the Young Detective Agency series ?  What did you think?  What are you favourite types of endings?  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 – Research This Time Was Such A Blast by Tamsin Cooke


Today I am super excited to be part of an awesome blog tour and have the wonderful Tamsin Cooke on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her new book Stunt Double!

Stunt Double was released on the 6th July 2017 published by OUP and is an action packed MG read that will leave you wanting more!

Today Tamsin tells us about the research behind the book and some of the exciting things she got up to …..


An action-packed adventure story with an exciting film location setting.


Finn is a free-running black belt, with a talent for acting-but when his big break arrives, it’s not the role he was expecting at all.

Recruited as a stunt double, he’s pushed to his limits-scaling walls at high speed, jumping from dizzying heights, and diving into rocky waters-all without any safety gear. He’s determined to push himself, but as the stunts get more dangerous, the lines between movie and reality are really starting to blur, and it becomes clear that he’ll be luckily to escape this shoot with his life.

A brand new adventure for readers aged 9+, from the author of The Scarlet Files.


Research This Time Was Such A Blast – Delving Into The World Of Stunts

I was incredibly excited the moment I got the initial flash of inspiration for Stunt Double. However it occurred to me that I knew very little about the world of stunts. My knowledge consisted of what I’d read in the papers (where stunts have ended badly) or from a TV programme. For those of you not old enough to remember, ‘The Fall Guy’ was a 1980’s TV show based in America about a stuntman moonlighting as a bounty hunter. Using his knowledge of stunts and film effects, he would track down and catch criminals.

Luckily for me, I adore research. And whenever I get a new idea for a story, I can’t wait to delve into the subject matter, learning everything I can. And this time, it was going to be even more fun because I was entering the world of stunts.

At first, I visited libraries and scoured the Internet. I discovered the different disciplines of stunt performers:

Fighting – Categories: Martial Arts, Boxing

Falling – Categories: Trampolining, High Diving

Riding and Driving – Categories: Horses, Cars, Motorcycles

Agility and Strength – Categories: Gymnastics, Rock Climbing

Water – Categories: Swimming, Sub Aqua

You are required to be qualified to competitive level in six or more of the above categories, one of which must be in Fighting. Plus you must have qualifications in at least four of the groups. That is an awful lot of work and a huge required skill set!

I was desperate to meet a real life stunt performer and was thrilled when Annabel Canaven, a professional stuntwoman generously gave up her time to meet me over coffee and cake. And wow – I think she might be one of the coolest people I have ever met.

Annabel explained how stunts are set up – how it’s all about the planning and the safety. A stunt coordinator has a team of trained professionals and together they create the stunt, which the Stunt Coordinator oversees. It’s a fun, supportive environment, where you have to trust each other.

The film crew record the stunt a minimum of three times using many cameras from different angles. Then the director selects the best shot for editing. On occasion, when it’s a really expensive stunt, you might only get one take. Then the pressure is really on!

Annabel showed me pictures of her rolling down the stairs, dressed up as a stunt double alongside the actor, as well as being set on fire. She also showed me video footage of her free falling sixty feet without any wires or cranes. She lands on a bunch of cardboard boxes. Yes – I did say cardboard boxes. They decelerate your fall.

In fact I have learnt that cardboard boxes are a staple of the stunt world. I was incredibly lucky to visit The British Action Academy, the UK’s only stunt school. It’s run by Andreas Petrides who has been a stunt man for twenty seven years and worked on over 500 productions worldwide. If you think of a film or TV programme- he’s probably been in it or orchestrated the stunt. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Merlin… even Poldark!

He is up there with the coolest people too! Andreas allowed me to wander around while the training took place. I saw what stunt performers sometimes have to wear – the body armour of padding or the jerk vests (vests that connect you to wires allowing you to be jerked through the air). I saw cranes, ropes, wires, mats and of course lots of cardboard!!!

 

During my visit, the trainees were learning how to crash a bike into a car. And the car was made of? You guessed it – cardboard boxes! The trainee had to cycle down a slope, then jump onto the saddle of their bike. (I have to admit – I thought that was a daring enough stunt in itself). Then they hurtled towards the cardboard car (with a mat on top) and just before they made impact, they somersaulted over the top onto a crash mat behind. It looked fantastic. I decided not to have a go, and just took pictures instead!!!

I watched the trainees slide down rope from the vaulted ceiling and be jerked in the air by a wire. They re-enacted a brawl and took turns being flung down a slope rolling over and over.

It made me realise what kind of character you have to be in order to become a stunt performer. You have to be brave, physically capable and also patient. Andreas was telling me how there is a lot of waiting around on set as you have to make sure the stunt is safe. But one of the most important characteristics that hadn’t occurred to me until I met these fabulous people, is that you cannot be reckless. One of the instructors said, ‘They’re stuntmen, not daredevils.’  There’s an old adage then anyone can be a stunt performer once… they just might not live to tell the tale…

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


About Tamsin Cooke

Born in Lancashire to a Polish mum and English dad, Tamsin spent lots of the first twelve years of her life in different countries. She learnt to walk in South Africa, roller-skate in Florida and synchronise swim in Hawaii. This has given her a great love of travel which she does whenever possible. She also adores having adventures and seeing wild animals. Since writing Cat Burglar, Tamsin has become fascinated with spirit animals. She’d like to think her spirit animal is a jaguar or a wolf. But her friends tell her it’s a Labradoodle.

If you would like to learn more about Tamsin, please go to her website: tamsincooke.co.uk

Or why not follow Tamsin on Twitter – @TamsinCooke1


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 Tamsin for such a fab guest post and to OUP for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Stunt Double?  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 – Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog! by Nikki Sheehan


Today I am over the moon to be hosting a post from the lovely Nikki Sheehan to celebrate the release of Goodnight, Boy!

Goodnight,Boy is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the fab Rock The Boat.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it so much!  Its gorgeous inside and out!

So today Nikki tells us about how to get ahead as an author……


A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family, the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.


Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog!

Dogs make the very best muses. I know because I wrote a book about a boy and a dog, with two of my own fur babies constantly by my side. Goodnight, Boy is written to and about a dog, and it explores how, even in the very worst circumstances, a dog will keep you going. Any authors reading this will know that I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that the badlands of 20,000 words into a first draft is a pretty bad place to find yourself. As is sitting down to the smell of freshly-sent editorial notes.

So here is a rundown of why, if you want to get ahead in publishing, you should most definitely get a dog.

Basics

The only indispensable rule I know for writing is that you must have your bum on a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard to produce anything. So, if, as a dog owner, you’re forced to spend more time at home, this is a good start. If you also have a dog keeping your toes warm (as Edith Wharton put it, ‘a heartbeat at my feet’), it really does discourage you from wandering off and doing housework.

Distractions

Talking of housework, once you’re a dog owner, I can guarantee you’ll spend less time on housework, redecorating and the general maintenance of what is normally seen as an acceptable standard of hygiene because keeping up with the mess dogs create is pretty much futile. One of my dogs sheds like a dandelion clock mid blow, 24 hours a day. This may sound like a negative, but actually time spent not hoovering can be diverted into words, paragraphs, chapters, and head stroking.

Hobbies

Forget hobbies. Writing takes time; for thinking, drafting, editing, and Twitter stalking writers more successful than yourself. So the last thing you need is an interesting pastime, such as badminton or medieval battle enactment. It won’t matter though, because, as a writer you get to experience any number of strange locations and events in your head. And, if you’re ever asked at a publishing party what else you do, just say you have a dog because a dog is a hobby, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.

Health and fitness

There’s a syndrome, coined by the incomparable author Pip Jones, known as SAAD: Spreading Author Arse Disorder. Sedentary hours make SAAD pretty much inevitable, so you’re going to have to get some exercise in somehow. Dogs like walks even though they don’t have Fitbit buddies to impress. The longer and more frequent the better, and in absolutely any weather (unless they’re like one of mine, who is half cat, and won’t go out if showers are forecast). On walkies your dog will meet up with their mates and you’ll make friends with their owners too (think, park scene in 101 Dalmations, but, in my experience, less romantic). If you’re lucky, these humans will be the sort who don’t mind you bouncing book ideas off them or moaning about writing. Even if they do, they’re a lot more polite about it than your family are. And when you’re not exploiting the personal generosity of strangers, you get to spend time walking alone listening to music and audio books (consuming other people’s books is part of the job) or just walking in silence, which sometimes allows you hear those really shy, difficult voices that lurk at the back of your brain.

Mental health

Being a writer can be wonderful but, contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not the way to

everlasting happiness. Granted, writing can be cathartic at times, but once you’ve catharted you have to live with the fact that other people, thousands of them, will be reading, judging, maybe even hurling across the room in disgust, the product of said catharsis. Fortunately, dogs probably can’t read – though, as the first draft of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max, you have to wonder. Generally speaking, however, your dog will not mind how bad your first draft is. They equally won’t care about reviews, prizes, foreign rights sales, or if you’re even any good or hopelessly derivative and commercially out of kilter. Dogs are all about here and now. And, as writers, if we can try to be more dog, and concentrate on the process rather than the product, I have a feeling that we’d not only be a lot happier, but better writers too.

Love

People worry about being lonely if they work from home, but I never feel alone. I work with fantastic colleagues who can’t talk to me. This means they can’t discuss the project they’re working on, ask what’s for dinner, or chat about school. They never disagree with me, or storm off to their bedroom, and they don’t judge me when I get in a strop because Scrivener is stupid. (It is – fact). Dogs take tolerance and unconditional love to saintly levels, and like nothing better than to soothe the furrowed brow of the needy writer with a lick, a well-placed head on the lap, or a paw in the hand. They’re philosophers, therapists, personal trainers, and friends. And that’s why authors need dogs.

One last historical note; George Eliot’s publisher sent her a pug as part payment for one of her novels. A practice that, I hope my publisher will agree, should definitely be revived for 2017.

Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

Nikki and Tinker

Coco and Tinker playing with their friend, Snowy, at Brighton Beach

You can buy a copy of Goodnight, Boy here or from your local bookshop!


About Nikki Sheehan

Nikki Sheehan is the youngest daughter of a rocket scientist. She went to a convent school in Cambridge where she was taught by real nuns in long black habits. After university Nikki’s first job was subtitling the Simpsons. She then studied psychology, retrained as a journalist, and wrote features for parenting magazines and the national press. She now writes mainly about education and property and is co-founder of an award-winning property blog. She is married and lives in Brighton with her husband, three children, two dogs, a cat, and an ever-fluctuating numbers of hamsters.

You can find out more about Nikki on her website – www.nikkisheehan.co.uk

Or why not follow Nikki on twitter – @NicoletteShhh


Blog Tour

You can catch the rest of this fab blog tour by checking out the hashtag #GoodNightBoyTour


A huge thank you to Nikki for such a fab guest post and to Cailin at Rock The Boat for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Goodnight, Boy?  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 – Blurring the Line Between Science Fact and Fiction by Sarah Govett


Today I have a fab guest post from the lovely Sarah Govett, author of the brilliant YA dystopian The Territory trilogy!

The Territory and The Territory:  Escape were released in 2015 and 2016 published by Firefly Press and with the third book in this fab trilogy due very soon I thought it would be perfect to showcase these fab books on my blog!

Today Sarah chats about blurring the lines between science fact and science fiction in this fab guest post….


Noa Blake is just another normal 15 year old with exams looming. Except in The Territory normal isn’t normal. The richest children have a node on the back of their necks and can download information, bypassing the need to study. In a flooded world of dwindling resources, Noa and the other ‘Norms’ have their work cut out even to compete. And competing is everything – because anybody who fails the exams will be shipped off to the Wetlands, which means a life of misery, if not certain death. But how to focus when your heart is being torn in two directions at once? One of The Telegraph’s best YA books of 2015

The year is 2059. Fifteen-year-old Noa Blake has passed the exam to stay in The Territory but her childhood friend Jack has been shipped off to the disease-ridden Wetlands, a death sentence in all but name. Noa and Raf have vowed to rescue him, but how? With an electric fence, gun towers and a police state monitoring their every move, getting into the Wetlands looks impossible, let alone getting home again. Second in The Territory trilogy, The Territory, Escape follows Noa, Raf and Jack as they battle through a world of raiders, mosquito swarms and psychopathic prisoners. Noa faces her own battle too is it just friendship that drives her and if not, is Jack still even hers to claim?


Blurring the Line Between Science Fact and Fiction

Today, on the 1st July I’m going to be at Bradford Literature Festival discussing ‘The Reality Behind Dystopian Futures’ and it’s got me thinking again about the world of The Territory (my dystopian trilogy) and whether it could ever come into being. Officially categorised as ‘fantasy’ (on the cover) or ‘science fiction’ (on Amazon), the more I read and research, the more I think that a better descriptor might be ‘speculative fiction’ in the Margaret Atwood sense of a future that could really happen.

In The Territory half of Britain is underwater as a result of flooding caused by unchecked global warming. OK, so I admit, this is unlikely to be the case in 2059, the year the series is set, but I would posit that it is an exaggeration rather than a mere flight of fancy. Research group Climate Change has predicted that a 4C temperature increase (the most likely scenario given the current rate of increase) would result in a sea level rise that would submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people worldwide. Closer to home this would mean in London areas including Battersea, Chiswick and the entire borough of Lambeth would be submerged, vast parts of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Belfast would disappear and almost all of Cardiff and Dublin could be underwater.

It would be nigh impossible to fit and feed the current population in a dramatically reduced land mass so very difficult decisions would have to be taken. In The Territory the new authoritarian government, the Ministry, has introduced an exam everyone has to sit aged 15. Pass and you get to stay on the dry land, the Territory, fail and you’re shipped off to the malarial wetlands for a life of misery if not certain death. The Minister claims that the system is fair as it applied to everyone regardless of colour, class or creed, but the reality is very different. Exams prioritise logical subjects at the expense of more creative ones and the richest people in society can pay for a procedure on their kids whereby they can upload information from computers directly into their brains, virtually bypassing the need to study.

So could this happen?

Well, again it’s probably not as far a stretch of the imagination as it might at first seem. Elements already exist. We currently examine teenagers within an inch of their lives. I’ve worked as a private tutor for the past 13 years and I’ve seen first hand how much pressure our education system places on young people. Some kids, including very bright ones, fall to pieces in exams – exams which are going to determine their future. Indeed in 2015/16 alone Childline conducted 3077 counseling sessions on coping with exam stress. Moreover, our education system does elevate logical subjects – Maths beats History, Science tramples over Art. And Students who are ill-prepared by their schools have to compete against peers who have been spoon-fed the answers by their teachers or family members and private tutors.

As for the more sci-fi element – the Childes who can upload – well, in the summer of 2015 the Director of Engineering at Google predicted that by 2030 people would be able to connect their brains to the internet via DNA nanotubes and thereby be able to artificially enhance their own intelligence. So we’re not a million miles away.

Finally malaria – could this come to Britain? When I wrote book 1, I’d kind of assumed that this wouldn’t happen, well not within my lifetime. But then, when I’d finished, I did some research and found that climate model scientists have predicted that by 2030, mosquitoes carrying the malarial plasmodium will be able to breed in Southern England  for up to 3 months of the year. 2030 is the year to watch out for.

In summary, I would hate the world of The Territory to come into being, but maybe, on the current path we’re on, certain elements are inevitable. The important thing then, is to change that path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy Sarah’s books here or from your local bookshop! 


About Sarah Govett

I read law at Trinity College, Oxford. After qualifying as a solicitor, I set up my own tutoring agency, Govett Tutors, which specialises in helping children from all backgrounds.

I have also written for children’s television. I have two young children, and live in London with my stand-up comedian husband.

You can find our more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahgovett.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter – @sarahgovett


A huge thank you to Sarah for such a fan and thought provoking blog post and to Karolina Davison for organising.

Have you read The Territory or The Territory:  Escape?  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 – Refugee Children Are My Children by Sita Brahmachari


Today I have a fab guest post from the lovely Sita Brahmachari to celebrate the release of her new YA book, Tender Earth.

Tender Earth was released on the 1st June 2017 published by Macmillan Children’s and is endorsed by Amnesty International UK.

‘A coming of age story for young protesters everywhere.’

 Tender Earth is endorsed by Amnesty International UK because it illuminates the importance of equality, friendship and solidarity, and upholds our right to protest against injustice.’

Today Sita talks about child refugees in this fab guest post….


Laila Levenson has always been the baby of the family, but now with her older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she starts secondary school, everything feels like it’s changing… can the reappearance of Nana Josie’s Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in?
A powerful chime rings through Laila’s mind, guiding her to walk the footsteps of the past on her way to discover her own future.


Refugee Children Are My Children

Who has not been in the situation of listening to the news or reading the paper, looking at a photo of a child refugee and feeling helpless at being witness to the plight of child refugees travelling unaccompanied throughout the world?

While writing Tender Earth I thought a lot about how people get on with their own lives while knowing that there are children right at this moment whose human rights are being violated because they have been displaced by conflict and war… and so many of these children are alone.

In this scene in Tender Earth my heroine, Laila Levenson, is sitting with her adopted grandmother listening to the news. Laila’s ‘Bubbe’ herself arrived as a refugee in this country from Germany just before World War Two as part of the Kindertransport.

In Tender Earth my young and older characters ask the question, how will history judge us for our treatment of child refugees today?

I work as writer in Residence at The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. When you know people personally, listen to their stories and witness their bravery, they are no longer statistics and the reality of the situation comes home to you. In Tender Earth, Laila’s friendship with a girl in her tutor group, Pari Pashaei, the child of Iraqi refugees, makes Laila hear and experience the news in a different way. It makes her want to stand up and use her voice to make a difference.

   ‘Listen to the language they use! Quotas, swarms… as if people are insects – or vermin!’ Bubbe holds onto the delicate gold necklace that she always wears as she listens. The presenter is now interviewing a boy called Amit, his voice sounds so sweet and young:

 ‘I am ten years old. I make this journey on my own. My feet always hurting from walking so far. Nothing in my home is left. All is destroyed with shelling. I don’t know, where is my mother, where is my father, my sisters… We have no clean water, not enough food, and here are some not good people, you know? Please, give us some safety. Make your hearts open. How can you close your borders to us? We are only children. If you turn your backs from us, we will die. Once already I have died to lose my family. Now we die a second time.’

Do you ever ask the questions that Laila Levenson and her friends ask in Tender Earth? If you do, take a look at these links that I explored in my research… convert thought into action and, as soon as you are legally able, VOTE for what you believe in.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/nov/07/class-young-people-political-activis

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/may/17/traffickers-smugglers-exploit-record-rise-unaccompanied-child-refugees-migrants-unicef-report?CMP=twt_a

http://www.islingtoncentre.co.uk

http://youngroots.org.uk

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/amnesty-youth-groups-action-february-2017-keep-refugee-families-togethe

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/10/diary-16-year-old-afghan-refugee

https://www.amnestyusa.org/about-us/who-we-are/local-groups/

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


About Sita Brahmachari

I write in community and education settings, theatre, YA novels and short stories. I have an MA in Arts Education. Novels published by Macmillan Children’s Books are: ‘Artichoke Hearts’ – Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (2011) and nominated for the Carnegie Prize. Subsequent novels: ‘Jasmine Skies’ (2013) and ‘Red Leaves’ (2015) were nominated for the Carnegie Prize. ‘Red Leaves’ is endorsed by Amnesty International UK. ‘Kite Spirit’ (2013) was nominated for UKLA Book Award and is a Reading Agency ‘Book on Prescription.’For Barrington Stoke Publishers: ‘Brace Mouth, False Teeth’ and ‘Car Wash Wish.’ I was Online Writer in Residence for Book Trust (2015) and am Writer In Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. ‘Tender Earth’ for Macmillan Children’s books, endorsed by Amnesty International UK is published in June 2017.

You can find out more about Sita on her website – www.sitabrahmachari.blogspot.co.uk

Or why not follow Sita on Twitter – @sitabrahmachari


A huge thank you to Sita for such a fab guest post and to Nina Douglas for asking me to host!

Have you read the Tender Earth?  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 – Top 10 Literary Influences by Louise Cole


Today I have a fab guest post from the lovely Louise Cole in celebration on the release of her YA Thriller The Devil’s Poetry.

The Devil’s Poetry was released on the 13th June and you can see a spotlight post on the book here.

So today Louise is chatting to use about her Literary Influences….



Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?

Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.


Top 10 Literary Influences

When Tales of Yesterday asked me for my top 10 fictional inspirations, I really had to sit and think. It’s one of those questions that you are sure you’ll be able to answer and then, the more you consider it, the further a true answer seems to run.

1

Like most writers I’ve been an avid reader since I was very small, so my first pick has to come from those books which seeded my love of story. My wonder at being able to escape into another world, live other lives. That sense of magic from being totally absorbed in a new book.

The first book I can remember wanting to live in was Judith Berrisford’s Jackie Won a Pony – I warned you I was going way back to childhood. I suspect my first attempts at writing a story were my own pony books, now mercifully lost to my mother’s ruthless housecleaning. Berrisford led me on to other wonderful novelists like Patricia Leitch and, of course, Monica Dickens.

2

The next significant influence was KM Peyton. Peyton created whole worlds – and stories that, amazingly, went beyond horses, a development I wasn’t entirely convinced by when I was 12 – but she also created characters with depth. People who grew and changed. The discovery of characters like Ruth Hollis, who was growing up just a little ahead of me, or Flambards Christina Parsons, helped shaped my sense of how complex people could be. And how very interesting it was to watch them ‘put away childish things’ and become adults. It didn’t hurt that all those books featured men I fancied like mad. (Mind you, I always fancied the slightly brutish Mark over scared-of-horses William, which just shows that literature can’t teach you everything.)

3 & 4


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By now I’m starting to perceive that there is a whole world of literature around me. The books that finally settled in my soul and I believe shaped me as a writer are….

Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave trilogy and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. (I never did like The Hobbit.) They probably share the responsibility of ruining me for literary fiction. Although I later read English at Oxford and paid due homage to all the classics of the English cannon, nothing has ever exerted so strong a pull on my imagination. I never wanted to be a character in Dickensian London or George Elliot’s Middlemarch… but Middle earth? I’d go in a heartbeat, orcs and all.

5

OK, so this will seem an odd choice after the childish escapism and epic fantasy I’ve listed so far. Jane Austen. I remember reading Austen at a teacher’s suggestion when I was 11 and just not getting it. I wasn’t old enough to understand her wit or her beautiful control of language. But I got there. There’s probably no other author who has taught me as much about economy or restraint as a writer, or about affectionately showing your characters in all their flaws. In The Devil’s Poetry, Callie probably has quite a lot in common with Austen’s Emma, although I hadn’t thought of that before writing this piece – she too misinterprets and makes poor choices and has to grow past her self-obsession to really understand what other people want and need.

6

Six is Emily Bronte with Wuthering Heights. If you think WH is a love story, read it again. It’s a masterpiece in narrative technique. Ellen Dean is no loving housekeeper to that family. I think she’s a jealous woman and a totally unreliable narrator – as is Lockwood because he’s a fool. And yet it is from their accounts, a gossip and a fool, that we build our idea of Catharine Earnshaw and Heathcliffe.  Emily taught me trust no one and always to read between the lines.

7

Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. Probably one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read. There is the detective story, with its medieval Sherlock Holmes character. There is the young novice who gives us our Watson. There is the dark and terrifying backdrop of the inquisition and such a vivid recreation of the snow-bound monastery that I can still imagine it 20 years later. And, of course, ultimately he’s talking about books and ideas. The reader as the detective, following the clues through the novel and how wonderfully dangerous and subversive books can be…

8

Gosh, I’ve talked a lot. OK, the next two camps are easy. I have this theory that every writer should write a thriller, if only for practice. So much of writing a novel is about telling the reader exactly what they need to know at exactly the right time, so they can be fully immersed in the story so far but, all the while, anticipating the twists and reveals ahead. Writing a thriller is this ability taken to the extreme, purified.

So my next influences would be the great thriller writers. There are lots of them but if I had to pick the most influential for me, I’d say PD James. She was a master of her craft and her detective Adam Dalgliesh is a lovely rendition of the poet-warrior. PD also produced a wonderful homage to Austen in her Death at Pemberley in which she proved that a great writer can write in any style they choose. I am fascinated by writers who can replicate or finish others’ work. It proves to me that the voice belongs to the story and that a great artist can use any voice they choose – and that I have a depressing amount to learn.

9

Modern thrillers and YA also need adrenaline in today’s world and I am a sucker for high-octane novels – and crescendos, as anyone who reads TDP will discover. Again there are lots of writers I could name but I think Jeff Abbott probably nails it.

10

This choice has to come from the great fantasy writers because they caught me at 10 years old and never let me go. If you allowed me to place my books on a shelf next to any writers in the world, I’d nestle with Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Daniel Abraham, Robert V.S. Redick. But my absolute fangirl pick, who epitomises great fantasy writing is Robin Hobb. If you haven’t tried her Fitz novels, just do it. Read them now. The Assassin’s Apprentice is just wonderful.

I am aware that I haven’t named specific YA writers but I think that’s because YA as a category didn’t exist until recently and I’ve been cooking as a writer for a while. The best of YA draws on so many other genres – thrillers, romance, literary, fantasy. The only difference is that YA always has a teen protagonist. But as with all novels, the best YA books are simply great books, not just for teens but for everyone.

Happy reading

Louise

You can buy a copy of The Devil’s Poetry here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here


About Louise Cole


Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire – she’s the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford – read being the operative word – and hasn’t stopped reading since.

In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.

Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.

Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Louise Cole and Faye Rogers for asking me to host this fab guest post and having me as part of the fab blog tour!

Have you read the Devil’s Poetry?  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 – Meet Tamsin Winter by Tamsin Winter


Today I am super excited to have a fab post from debut author Tamsin Winter!

Being Miss Nobody was released on the 1st June 2017 published by Usborne and is set to be a fab YA Contemporary read!

As well as all of this Tamsin Winter is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for June 2017!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I was really intrigued to find out more about Tamsin so here’s a little post all about her….


… I am Miss Nobody.

Rosalind hates her new secondary school. She’s the weird girl who doesn’t talk. The Mute-ant. And it’s easy to pick on someone who can’t fight back. So Rosalind starts a blog – Miss Nobody; a place to speak up, a place where she has a voice. But there’s a problem…

Is Miss Nobody becoming a bully herself?

Read the first chapter online now.


Meet Tamsin Winter

Tamsin is an author, a mother, a friend, a teacher, a day-dreamer, a secret sticker collector. Her debut novel, Being Miss Nobody is a story about speaking out, from a girl who can’t.

So we can get to know her a little better, here are 10 things you probably don’t need to know about Tamsin (but are actually very interesting!)

1. Going to Brownies in the 1980s made me a feminist. My little brother who was in the Cubs got badges for stuff like fitness and making fires. Nearly all of the Brownie badges involved doing chores. It probably explains why I only got three. I told my parents I wasn’t doing any more because of my feminist principles. I complained about a ‘ladies spade’ in Homebase. I was actually quite radical at eight years old.

2. Being Miss Nobody is about an eleven-year-old girl who can’t speak outside her home. She has a severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism, and she also happens to be completely mighty and awesome.

3. I came up with the idea for Being Miss Nobody during a day-dream. It was of a girl with all these words she wanted to say inside her head, but unable to speak even one of them. I started writing the book that day, and a year later I had signed a book deal. As day-dreams go, it was a pretty good one.

4. When I was four years old, my parents got me a kitten. I wanted to call him Rumpelstiltskin, but I wasn’t allowed. I still have no idea why.

5. One of my most treasured possessions is my English book from primary school. My teacher’s notes say things like ‘Totally irrelevant!’ and ‘See me, please!’ It makes me laugh every time I read it. To be fair, the stories I wrote are completely bonkers.

6. One of my favourite books is Wuthering Heights. I have about fifteen copies, all with different covers. It’s the only thing I collect. Apart from dresses – I have hundreds – but that is sort of by accident.

7. My favourite book growing up was The Neverending Story. It taught me how utterly magical and heart-breaking books can be. It’s also probably why I have nightmares about swamps.

8. I used to get in trouble for laughing all the time when I was at school. Learning the William Rotsler quote ‘You cannot hold back a good laugh any more than you can the tide. Both are forces of nature’ stopped me from getting a lot of detentions.

9. I have a terrible memory, so I write everything down. My writing desk is covered in sticky notes. I’m addicted to them. When I was editing Being Miss Nobody I got through about a pack a day. A friend recently bought me some cloud-shaped ones to match the cover of my book. It made me think – the world cannot be such a bad place if cloud-shaped stationery exists.

10. I am addicted to motivational quotes. I don’t think there is ever a bad moment in your life that couldn’t be even a tiny bit improved with the right motivational quote. You can just google them any time you want. It’s one of the many ways the internet saved my life. It is also my biggest time-wasting activity ever.

Being Miss Nobody is out on 1st June and published by Usborne.

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


About Tamsin Winter

I’m an author, a mother, a friend, a teacher, a day-dreamer, a secret sticker collector.

And I love cats a lot too. (You will meet some in my books.)

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved writing stories and poems. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my grandfather’s old typewriter (yes, typewriter! Google it) bashing the keys with my clumsy fingers, trying (and failing) to write without making any mistakes. Computers make writing stories a lot easier, believe me.

I love reading books because they are like little bits of paper magic. They can take you places far away, make you laugh, make you cry, make you scared, make you love and hate the world, and ultimately teach you to believe in happy endings, or at least stop you watching too much TV, which is sort of the same thing.

I hope you enjoy reading my books, and that somewhere inside the pages you feel something, if not exactly magic, then something real. Because that’s what my stories are about.

You can find out more about Tamsin on her website www.tamsinwinter.com.

You can also follow Tamsin on Twitter at @MsWinterTweets


A huge thank you to Tamsin and also Amy at Usborne for organising this post and embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17.

Have you read Being Miss Nobody?  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 – Magical Mystery Tour by Mark Huckerby


Today I have a fab guest post from one half of an awesome dynamic writing duo of a brilliant MG Fantasy series, Mark Huckerby.

Defender Of The Realm: Dark Age was released on the 1st June and is the second book in this brilliant series and I am SO excited to read it!  I was a huge fan of the first book in the series and it left me craving more!

Praise for Defender of the Realm

Defender of the Realm was longlisted for the 2017 Branford Boase Award, and shortlisted for The Brilliant Book Award Nottingham (February 2017) and  Stockton Children’s Book of the Year (March 2017).

Entertaining, gripping and full of action and plot twists”  – Sunday Express 
 
“A thrilling mashup of history and fantasy”  – Kirkus Reviews  
 
“Defender of the Realm is unashamedly fun!”  – Derek Landy, author of Skulduggery Pleasant

You can find my review of Defender Of The Realm here

Praise for Defender of the Realm: Dark Age

“Brilliant sequel to Defender of the Realm a fabulous fantasy for children and adults alike” –

Ravenmaster HM Tower of London @ravenmaster1

So sit back and relax and let Mark share his love of ruins….and some cute baby Mark pictures too……


After the great battle at King Alfie’s coronation, the nation thinks it’s seen the last of the Black Dragon, and Alfie gets busy learning what it means to fill his father’s shoes. But when a band of undead Vikings appears, Alfie, Hayley and the rest of the Yeoman Warders fear that Professor Lock is back to finish what he’s started. 
 
For the epic battle that’s brewing, Alfie will need to enlist help from abroad, as well as from a mysterious new friend who seems to be watching over him…


Magical Mystery Tour

I love a good ruin.

One of my earliest memories is of clambering all over the walls of the 900 year old Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire while my Granddad looked on. A little later, I used to plead with my father to take me to Bodiam Castle in Sussex every weekend; I was convinced that in some forgotten tower I would somehow find a sword that a medieval knight would just have, I don’t know, left lying around. Corfe Castle in Dorset was another favourite and yep, I really thought I might stumble upon a suit of armour tucked away behind the gatehouse as I explored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s become kind of a cliché to depict kids as groaning with boredom as they’re dragged off around castles, abbeys and stately homes by their parents but I honestly loved it. It simultaneously ignited a passion for history and fired up my imagination. Thinking about it, there’s a direct link from my childhood to the Defender of the Realm series that I’ve written alongside my writing partner, Nick Ostler. It’s allowed me to indulge in my twin loves of history and fantasy and combine them, just like I did when I was young.

When Nick and I write, we often talk about the formula of “something true + something new”. It spawned the central idea of the book:  “what if the kings and queens of Britain were secretly superheroes, sworn to protect Britain from monsters and super villains?” The ‘something true’ part of the formula is of course the real history of Britain and the ‘something new’, well, that’s where dragons and stinking zombie Vikings come in. So in the secret history of Defender of the Realm, the Great Fire of London in 1666 was of course started by a dragon and the Spanish Armada was sunk by a giant squid. Dur, as if you didn’t know.

We’ve also applied the formula to the locations in the book, giving iconic British landmarks an enchanted twist as they’re inducted into our fantasy universe. In the book, the Tower of London is of course the home to the Crown Jewels, well the fake ones for the tourists anyway. It’s below ground in “the Keep”, the Defender’s secret base, that the real magical goodies are kept and guarded by the loyal beefeaters. Buckingham Palace is still the home to the monarch, but we’ve added a magical supersonic state coach that runs through a secret tunnel all the way to the Tower of London and the underground base.  Edinburgh Castle is (really) built on the plug of an extinct volcano that of course isn’t so dormant in the fantasy world of the book.

In Defender of the Realm: Dark Age, the second in the series, we’ve had the pleasure of adding yet more locations as we build up our world. Undead Vikings are the slightly whiffy new villains and, are attracted back to the places their forebears raided a thousand years ago, looking for gold. Two cities with Viking history, York and Cambridge feature heavily. One of my favourite chapters takes place on Lindisfarne. Also known as Holy Island, it sits just off the coast of Northumberland and is the site of a lonely monastery and wind-swept castle. In the book, it’s home to a Roderick “Sultana” Raisin, a semi-retired beefeater, secretly charged with keeping a look out from Britain’s coast for supernatural threats. And let’s just say old Sultana is the first UK citizen for a thousand years to get up close and personal with a Viking…

And there’s a personal connection here, too. When I was little, I visited Lindisfarne abbey and castle with my grandparents. I clambered over the walls and probably hoped I’d stumble upon a knight’s rusty gauntlet or at the very least, a secret room leading to a magical world. And thirty years later, writing this book, I kind of got my wish.

Defender of the Realm: Dark Age by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler published by Scholastic is out now.

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

You can find my review of the first book in the series, Defender Of The Realm here


About Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are Emmy and BAFTA-nominated screenwriters best known for writing popular TV shows such as Danger Mouse and Thunderbirds Are Go! 

You can find out more about Mark & Nick on their website www.ostlerandhuckerby.com

Or why not follow them both on twitter using @huckywucky and @nickostler


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lorraine at Scholastic for having me as part of this fab tour and to Mark for a brilliant guest post!

Have you read Defender Of The Realm: Dark Ages?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  I would love to here 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 and defending the country!

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