Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Top Five Halloween Reads by Chris Priestley


Halloween may be over for another year *cries* but fear not I have a spooky post Halloween treat for you today!

I am super excited to be part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Curse Of The Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestley.

Curse Of The Werewolf boy was released on the 5th October published by Bloomsbury and is a fantastic MG read to really sink your teeth into!

Today Chris shares his top 5 Halloween reads in this fab guest post….


Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.


Top Ten Halloween Reads

I could list dozens of books that would make good reading for Halloween. I spent much of my teens and twenties reading uncanny and unsettling stories of one kind or another – which is why I ended up writing the Tales of Terror series and many other works designed to disturb.

I realise Halloween has now become bound up with a more violent side of horror, but I’m here to champion old school chills. These are some of the stories and writers that inspired me to write chillers myself.

The Ash Tree – MR James

I could have chosen any M R James story, I suppose, but The Ash Tree came to mind for various reasons. It has a witch in it, for one thing – and that seems appropriate for Halloween – but it is also very creepy. If you don’t like spiders you may want to give it a miss, but then again, you will undoubtedly find it troubling (and after all, it is meant to unsettle). If you have a tree with branches tapping against your windows, you may want to get the tree surgeon in before you read this.

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

Not the Woman in Black again, I hear you yell. It’s always in people’s top creepy reads. Yes it is. But there’s a very good reason for that. It’s really hard to write a creepy novel – a properly creepy novel. Susan Hill is our greatest living exponent of it. The Woman in Black is pitch perfect. It pulls us into the story by gently making us care about Arthur Kripps as he journey’s to the bleak Jamesian east coast town of Crythin Gifford.

The location is fantastic and in the Woman in Black we have one of the iconic ghosts of horror fiction. If you think you know it because you’ve seen the film, think again. The book is far, far superior. This is the kind of story that needs to be read to work its magic. Rent yourself a lonely cottage by the sea and scare yourself silly.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

I saw the 1960s film adaptation – The Haunting – before I read the novel. The film is great but the book is something else. Following on from Edgar Allan Poe’s attempt to make the house itself a character in the Fall of the House of Usher, Shirley Jackson makes Hill House a ‘living’ and malevolent force in the story. It is a really strange and claustrophobic book, best read in as close to one sitting as possible, I think.

The Shining – Stephen King

I was very snooty about Stephen King when I was young, despite having friends who were fans. The first book I read of his was Misery and I was a little underwhelmed. But Carrie and The Shining are great. Once again, The Shining plays with that idea of the house itself being the monster. The Overlook Hotel in the Rockies is another great location – so important in a good ghost story. The narrative shifts mainly between Danny, the boy with telepathic abilities – ‘the shining’ – and his deeply flawed father, Jack, an aspiring writer who has taken a job as caretaker. He and his wife will be snowed in over winter and cut off from the outside world. A really affecting – and scary – story that has compelling characters at its heart.

Ringing the Changes – Robert Aickman

I discovered Robert Aickman relatively recently. Or rather I registered his name only relatively recently. I actually have a few of his stories in various collections. Faber have recently reissued all his stories in several handsome looking books. I am still working my way through them. They are too rich to consume in great chunks, so I read them one at a time and savour them. Most of the ones I have read are deeply strange and genuinely nightmarish – like having an access all areas pass to a very disturbed mind.

Ringing the Changes has quite a Jamesian set-up on the face of it. A couple arrive at an East Anglian coastal town and the bells of all the churches start ringing – and ringing and ringing and ringing. But it’s like James after a bad night. The characters are edgy and unpleasant and the story is, like so much of Aickman, genuinely unhinged.

You can buy a copy of Curse Of The Werewolf Boy here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads list here


About Chris Priestley


Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.

You can find out more about Chris on his website – www.chrispriestleybooks.com

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @crispriestley

Or Facebook and Instagram


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read Curse Of The Werewolf Boy?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  What are your favourite Halloween reads?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Growing Up With Point Horror by Michelle Harrison


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


It’s Halloween!  And what better way to celebrate than delving deep into my love of Point Horror!

I know lots of people who hold Point Horror close to their hearts and one of those people is wonderful author Michelle Harrison ! I got talking to Michelle on twitter when she was talking about Point Horror so I asked her to stop by for a little Point Horror Guest Post to share some Point Horror memories and she kindly agreed.

It’s very exciting to have Michelle here on Tales…I feel very honoured…so thank you so much Michelle!

*Hands microphone to Michelle*


Growing Up With Point Horror

I vividly remember my first ‘Point Horror’ book. It was Funhouse, by Diane Hoh, and I was around thirteen years old. My friend had loaned it from the library and told me to read it. From the first page, I was sucked in. Gone, hooked. A ‘Point Horror’ addict.

A voracious reader, I’d grown up reading my grown up sisters’ hand-me-down books, and listening to stories from their own imaginations. While I read for pleasure constantly, my choice was limited as we didn’t have much money for new books. Therefore, the majority of what I read growing up was by Enid Blyton, with a bit of variation from whatever I was reading at school. As I approached my teens I’d begun to start leaving these books behind in favour of magazines such as Just Seventeen. I was also the slightly kooky one in my group who, at sleepovers, would push to rent films from the horror section, while my friends preferred romantic comedies.

Funhouse was a revelation to me. A fast-paced, heart-thumping whodunnit in which Tess and her friends are being terrorised by someone hellbent on revenge for a past wrong which is gradually revealed in a diary at intervals throughout the book. The ending (and the villain) came as a complete shock to me. I LOVED it. Before then, I never knew horror for teens existed. I’d read and enjoyed Carrie, but found myself unable to get into Stephen King’s lengthier works. Funhouse was short, snappy, and about teens not much older than myself. Better still, I then discovered there were more! So began a new routine: every Saturday I’d get my pocket money, head to Dillons book shop in Lakeside, and buy two or three new ‘Point Horror’ titles which would then be devoured through the week. I amassed dozens – close to a hundred, I believe – titles, keeping them all pristine much to my sisters’ amusement. After a sad fate suffered by Dream Date, I only lent them to trusted people whom I knew wouldn’t crease the covers or crack the spines!

For me, the ‘Point Horror’ books had it all: from poison pen letters, to being followed home, butchered pets, creepy phone calls and of course, a generous helping of murder. There were even a few nasty little rhymes: Teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet . . . you’re going to die, but not just yet. What the strongest ones had were great twists, unexpected villains and even greater motives. There were faked deaths, crazy adopted brothers, unhinged love interests, and of course, the unreliable narrator . . .

While Funhouse is always the one that sticks in my mind like a first love, there were several firm favourites: The Hitchhiker, with its iconic cover, dreamy bad boy, James, and a killer twist; Trick or Treat ‒ because houses with murderous pasts and secret crawl spaces are ALWAYS interesting; Beach House with its history repeating itself theme and a killer who seems to disappear ‘as completely as footprints in the sand’. Others stick in my mind for being utterly bonkers: the aforementioned Dream Date (girl meets too-good-to-be-true aka possessive psycho while she sleeps), along with The Perfume (a fragrance called Venom which unleashes our good girl protagonist’s baaaaad side).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must also mention the appeal of location in these books. Growing up on a council estate in Essex, this series, set in various parts the USA, was hugely exciting and exotic to me. From the swampy heat of Florida’s Key West in The Hitchhiker to the sun-soaked sands in Beach Party and The Lifeguard, they transported me away to new and thrilling (and murderous) places. In addition, I have always been a little sad when asked to Americanise my own books for US readers, because I learned quite a bit from the ‘Point Horrors’ about US language and culture, for example, ‘bangs’ being what the British call a ‘fringe’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crucially, the ‘Point Horrors’ bridged the gap between my childhood and adulthood, which is when many readers are lost. My sisters and Enid Blyton may have made me a reader, but this series kept me reading. Are they great works of literature? Perhaps not, but they sure as heck were entertaining, and exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. A time when I began to explore writing as a possible career path. And if there was one thing Point Horror taught me, it was that if I could suspend my disbelief enough for the likes of a story about a murderous perfume, then perhaps the idea of myself as a future published author wasn’t so crazy after all.


About Michelle Harrison

Michelle Harrison is a former Waterstone’s bookseller and assistant editor for Oxford University Press. She now writes full-time. Originally from Grays in Essex, she has a degree in Illustration and lives in Oxfordshire. Her first novel, THE THIRTEEN TREASURES, won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and has sold into seventeen other countries as well as the UK.

It is followed by two sequels, THE THIRTEEN CURSES and THE THIRTEEN SECRETS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle is also the author of UNREST, a ghost story for young adults. She is currently working on a new novel for teen readers.

You can find out more about Michelle on her website – www.michelleharrisonbooks.com

Or why not follow Michelle on twitter – @MHarrison13


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?

For all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new click here

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

*claps hands excitedly*

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

Happy Point Horror-ing!

Guest Post – I’ll Be There For You… Why Teenage Friendships Are Important In YA by Anne Cassidy


Today I am honoured to have the brilliant Anne Cassidy on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate one of my most anticipated end of 2017 releases, No Shame.

I recently featured No Shame as a book I was hugely excited about over on W H Smth blog here

No Shame was released on the 19th October 2017 published by Hot Key and is a companion novel to Cassidy’s previous novel No Virgin and explores the gruelling process one young woman must go through to bring her rapist to justice which I have heard Anne was moved to write after reading about the real-life cases of Ched Evans, Brock Turner and the Bradford grooming ring. No Shame is sure to be a thought provoking read.

Today Anne talks to us about why teenage friendships are important in YA in this fab guest post….


The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.


I’ll Be There For You… Why Teenage Friendships Are Important In YA

I focus on friendship in almost every book I write. As a teenager, friendship was everything to me. I was an only child and my need for companionship was greater than those kids who had brothers and sisters. Consequently, I was hungry for a best friend and the close friendships I had helped me get through some difficult times. When they ended, I was devastated. My novel No Virgin follows the main character Stacey Woods as her world collapses when she thinks her best friend, Patrice, is lying to her. These feelings of isolation make her feel vulnerable and easy prey to a boy who is sweet and nice to her. Sadly, this nice sweet boy eventually leads to Stacey being attacked. In the sequel No Shame, it’s Patrice, among others, who support her through the trial.

For young children, having a friend is the first step outside the safety of the family. When they go outside that warm base, they are at the mercy of other people’s whims, likes and dislikes. It’s a challenge and can be brilliant if they find the right friend; but it doesn’t always end happily.

During teenage years, it is absolutely crucial to have good friends. Relationships with the family are changing: the need for privacy and room to develop are important and teenagers lean on other kids who are going through the same thing. In No Virgin, after Stacey has been raped, she doesn’t go to the police and she doesn’t go to her parents. She waits until she can tell Patrice. Patrice is a dominant person in Stacey’s life and Stacey adores her. She is Stacey’s support and lifeline. I admire the work of rape prevention charities like Safeline, whose research shows that this is reflected in real life. Victims of abuse often don’t go to parents or teachers, or even the police. The friend is the first person many victims speak to, making them an essential part of that person’s life and case.

This has its own problems. In the case of Stacey, she leans on Patrice too much. She has to face a court case on her own and make decisions that don’t include Patrice. She gets advice, but in the end it has to be her who takes that step forward. It’s only when Stacey hardens up and steps away from Patrice that she is able to stand on her own two feet. Friendships change and grow over time, just like people. I felt it was important in these books to write a friendship that evolves and goes through its own struggles. But at its core is loving and supportive- something everyone needs.

Teenage friendship is important in these difficult years. But being able to stand on your own two feet is crucial. Just as the warm family base gives the confidence to reach outside and find friends so the comfort of close friends allows the teenager to stride out into the adult world and be themselves.

Anne Cassidy is the author of No Shame (Hot Key Books, 19th October)

You can buy a copy of No Shame here or from your local bookshop


About Anne Cassidy

Anne Cassidy was born in London in 1952. She was an awkward teenager who spent the Swinging Sixties stuck in a convent school trying, dismally, to learn Latin. She was always falling in love and having her heart broken. She worked in a bank for five years until she finally grew up. She then went to college before becoming a teacher for many years. In 2000 Anne became a full-time writer, specialising in crime stories and thrillers for teenagers. In 2004 LOOKING FOR JJ was published to great acclaim, going on to be shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread Prize and the 2005 Carnegie Medal. MOTH GIRLS, published in 2016, was nominated for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the 2017 Sheffield Children’s Book Award.

You can find out more about Anne on her website – www.annecassidy.com

Or follow Anne on Twitter: @annecassidy6


A huge thank you to Anne for such a fab post and to Rachel from Midas  for asking me to host!

Have you read any of No Shame or No Virgin?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Tips For Aspiring Horror Writers by Danny Weston


It’s almost Halloween and what better way to celebrate than with a spooky blog tour for a brilliant creepy book!

Scarecrow by Danny Weston was released on the 5th October 2017 pubished by Andersen Press and is set to keep you wide awake with fear as the dark nights are drawing in!

“A terrifying, historical horror story from the winner of the 2016 Scottish Children’s Book Award.”

“The perfect Halloween read for fans of Darren Shan, Joseph Delaney & Stephen Cole.”

Today I have the man himself sharing some fab tips for aspiring horror writers in this fab guest post….


Jack and his dad are runaways. Jack’s father recently turned whistleblower, revealing the truth about the illicit dealings of some powerful people. Realising that he and Jack might be in danger, Dad drives them to a remote shooting lodge in the Scottish Highlands, where they intend to lay low.

In the cornfield beside the lodge stands a scarecrow. When Jack witnesses something incredible, he begins to realise that it is no ordinary scarecrow – it is alive, hungry and fuelled by rage. And when Dad’s enemies begin to converge on the lodge, the scarecrow might just turn out to be Jack’s best hope of survival.


Top Tips For Aspiring Horror Writers

Hi. Danny Weston here. My new book Scarecrow is now available.

The good people who run this blog have asked me to put together my top tips for aspiring horror writers. Here they are:

1.

Don’t ‘show’ too much. Remember that people are more frightened by what they don’t see than by what they do see.

2.

Make sure the eerie happenings are seen through the eyes of your characters. ‘Show Don’t Tell.’ The three most important words for any writer of fiction. When a writer tells us about something happening, it loses so much. When we see it exactly as the characters in the book see it, then it comes alive.

3.

Description is key. When something happens, you must paint a picture with words. Describe a thing in detail so your reader can picture it in their heads.

4.

Keep up the pace. Don’t linger too long on one particular scene. I think of books as ‘head movies. Always be ready to cut away and move on to the next scene.

5.

If you write a ghost story, never use the G Word. The word I’m referring to here is ‘ghost!’ Once you name it as that, it’s no longer a threat. Same goes for the V Word and the Z Word. Just say what you see and let the reader decide what that is.

6.

Never give your characters an easy ride! They must be conflicted from the start. Give them problems to solve and hardships to overcome.

7.

Never be afraid to rewrite a scene. Every time you do, it will get better.

8.

And don’t forget to have fun with what you’re writing. If you’re not enjoying what you’re writing it will show. Readers can be very unforgiving. Keep them hooked right to the very end!

You can buy a copy of Scarecrow here or from your local book shop!


About Danny Weston

Danny Weston is an author for children and young adults. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife. In 2016, he won the Scottish Children’s Book Award for The Piper, and in 2017 his novel The Haunting of Jessop Rise won the Hillingdon Libraries’ Primary Book of the Year Award. When he’s not writing, Danny can be found visiting schools to talk about what it’s like to be an author. In October 2017, Danny will be embarking on a Halloween school tour to celebrate to release of Scarecrow.


Blog Tour

Catch up for follow the rest of this spooky blog tour at the following stops or check out the hashtag #scarecrowbook


A huge thank you to Danny for a fab guest post and to Harriett at Andersen Press for asking me to host.

Have you read any of Scarecrow?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Do you have any horror writing tips?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Riddles by Lari Don


I am super excited to have the wonderful Lari Don on Tales today to celebrate the release of the final thrilling instalment of thie spellbinding Spellchasers trilogy!

The first two Spellchasers books left thousands of captivated readers waiting to discover what happens to heroine Molly and friends. Now, their fate is revealed in Spellchasers: The Witches Guide To Magical Combat which was released on the 17th August 2017 published by Floris Books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And today I have the lady herself, Lari Don, with a faboulous guest post about riddles…..


Molly’s shape-shifting curse is getting stronger and more unpredictable. As they search for a stone that can curb the Promise Keeper’s powers, the team faces a blizzard of powerful threats. Can they bring balance to the magical world, defeat the creatures that pursue them and finally break Molly’s curse? Or will darkness triumph over friendship? Taking her inspiration from traditional folklore and legends, Lari Don has imagined the Speyside landscape of her childhood as a world of magic and adventure – complete with shapeshifters, witches and a variety of mythical creatures.


Riddles

I’ve always loved riddles.

I love words, but I also love maths. (I was the person who bounced out of maths exams saying ‘That was fun!’, thereby earning the eternal hatred of everyone in earshot…)

I love riddles because they use words, but they also have the logic and precision of mathematics. A riddle is like a maths problem dressed in a poem, leading beautifully and inexorably towards one and only one correct solution.

But if you don’t like maths or poetry, that’s fine. Because riddles also involve monsters and death!

In many of my favourite traditional tales, being able to answer a riddle (or sometimes ask a riddle) is the only way to save yourself from being eaten by a sphinx, or decapitated by an angry royal.

So, riddles can be fun to play with, but might also be a life-saving skill if you’re planning to star in any fairy tales or go on any quests…

I use riddles in almost all of my adventure books. The riddles in my first series, the Fabled Beast Chronicles, were asked by a variety of magical beings, including a ancient book, an Irish warrior, a mountainous dragon, and a committee of mermaids and selkies.

But in my most recent series, the Spellchasers trilogy, I wanted to get more personal with my riddles, not just have them as obstacles. So I included a sphinx in my team of young magical beings on a curse-lifting workshop, and I decided to curse him to lose his riddle. That gave me the chance to put riddles in the story, but also gave the riddling an extra emotional punch.

I create new riddles for the novels, partly because I enjoy making up riddles and partly because I weave the questions and the solutions into the fabric of the plot.

The answers to most of the riddles are connected, either directly or indirectly, to the wider narrative. But I also write the riddles with the character dynamics in mind, how they will discuss and debate and argue about the answer. Writing a riddle for a novel isn’t just about the problem and the solution, it’s also about the journey between the two.

I write all my riddles with my younger daughter. She is an incredible riddle master, with a very precise and sneaky mind. We start with the logic of the puzzle (it involves lots of lists and scribbling) then we craft the clues into a structure of a riddle – it doesn’t have to rhyme, but it’s nice if it has a bit of rhythm – and then we test the draft riddle on my older daughter, to see if she finds it too easy (cut out a clue), too hard (add another clue) or comes up with another answer entirely (in which case, we need to put in a line which makes that answer impossible… )

I also love to run riddle-writing workshops for young writers. (Though at the last workshop, the kids wanted to write a riddle about a spider, which was a difficult half hour for this arachnophobe…)  One of the greatest pleasures of sharing riddles with kids is that they are usually much better at solving them than adults!

So, now that I’ve written to the end of my sphinx’s adventure, the next problem to solve is: how can I weave riddles into my next adventure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now

You can grab your copies here or from your local bookshop


About Lari Don

Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales.

You can find out more about Lari on her website – www.laridon.co.uk

Or why not follow Lari on her twitter – @LariDonWriter


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lari for a fab guest post and to Sarah at Floris Books for asking me to host.

Have you read any of the Spellchasers Trilogy?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Do you love riddles?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – 5 Steps To Creating Your Ideal Villain by Jacqueline Silvester


I am so excited to have been asked to be the final stop on the amazing Wunderkids blog tour!

Wunderkids by Jacqueline Silvester was released on the 18th June 2017 and is set to be a dystopian YA thriller that will have you turning the pages!

Today I have the lady herself on Tales with a super guest post about creating the ideal super villain….


15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys. However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal. Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.


5 Steps To Creating Your Ideal Villain

A good villain is very important. Villains create opposition to the desires/motives of your protagonist. Villains also create instability, they cause chaos, and they can add a lot of entertainment value to your story.

Step 1- Flesh out your villain

Who is your villain? What does he look like? How does he move? What are some evil things that he does or has done? Does he torture people? Does he eat them? Is he a dictator? A traitor? A pirate? A monk? Perhaps he’s just a normal person with a sinister agenda?

How does he act? Is he manic? Eerily calm? Does he like to watch people scream?

You get the picture.

Ask yourself 1000 questions, Pinterest relevant photographs, and re-watch films with your favorite villains, then hone in on what your villain looks like. Describe how they speak and how they move. Once you have a general idea of what your villain is like, you can start working on how they came to be that way.

Step 2- Backstory

If you believe in the idea that no one is born evil then you are expected to explain how your villain became evil in the first place, and your explanation needs to be convincing. This is where backstory matters. Was your villain neglected as a child? Seduced by greed and corruption? Irreparably hurt by someone? Did they watch their parents get taken away, like Magneto? Were they abused like the Joker? Or driven to insanity like Harlequin?  Can you tell I really like Marvel?

Write a paragraph about your villain’s history, and then create a timeline of events and actions that have shaped them and led them down the wrong path. Personally, I like villains with sympathetic backstories, because they make you question yourself as a reader/viewer, how could you empathize with someone who has done such evil things? Think back to the Darkling, or Maleficent.

Step 3- Motivation

What does you villain want? What are their end goals? What are their motivations in the long term? What (if anything) would technically make your villain happy? What would satisfy or appease them? Villains who are simply born evil and have no concrete desires or motivations are flat.

Step 4- Develop their fear factor and their duality

What is it that truly makes your villain scary? Is it a lack of empathy? Or excessive cruelty? Senseless actions? Limitless control?  Not all villains are grand or epic; a high school bully can be a villain, or a nasty parental figure. What’s important is not the extent of their villainy, but the way that they make people feel. Think about what you are afraid of. To some people a politician who is threatening their freedom is a villain; to others it can be a cruel teacher that made them give up on their dreams. It’s important to decide what exactly makes your villain scary. How will they wake fear/anxiety/terror in your protagonist and your reader?

The best villains are full of duality. Beautiful exteriors combined with horrible motives, like Mrs. Coulter from the Dark Materials trilogy, or a peaceful and comforting air combined with malicious plans. There is a reason that evil porcelain dolls, killer clowns, child ghosts, and many other such polar combinations are so prevalent in horror. We fear that which deceives us, and we find duality fascinating. With that same duality in mind you should try to humanize your villain so that the readers can empathize with them. Everyone loves a villain you can root for like the Darkling, Loki, Mystique and Cat Woman.

Step 5- Flesh out the relationship between your villain and your protagonist

Plan out their relationship, what are its parameters? In what way does your villain create opposition for your protagonist? Draw a timeline of their lives intersecting. You don’t have to follow the timeline exactly but it’s helpful to draw something out. Harry Potter’s entire life was affected by Voldemort’s actions, in one way or another. Now that you know what your villain looks like, how they became this way, what motivates them, and what humanizes them, all that is left is to figure out how these factors will affect your protagonist and their journey.

For a list of notable bookish villains visit a previous stop on this tour hosted by @Popthebutterfly.

Thank you so much to Michelle for hosting this last stop on the Wunderkids books tour! It was an amazing and fun ride, full of wonderful bloggers and epic questions.

You can buy a copy of Wunderkids here


About Jacqueline Silvester

Jacqueline has had a colourful and dual life thus far; she’s lived in a refugee camp in Sweden, a castle in France, a village in Germany, and spent her formative years in between Los Angeles, London and New York. As a result, she speaks four languages. Jacqueline has a Bachelors in English Literature from the University Of Massachusetts, and a Masters in Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University Of London. After graduating she wrote her first novel and began writing cartoon screenplays. The two years she spent in an arts boarding school in the woods have inspired the particular world described in her debut novel Wunderkids. She lives in London with her husband, her excessive YA collection and a hyper husky named Laika. Wunderkids has been translated into a number of languages and featured in Vogue magazine!

You can find out more about Jacqueline Silvester on her website – www.jacquelinesilvester.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @Jacky_Silvester


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Jacqueline for such a fab guest post and for having me as part of the tour!

Have you read Wunderkids?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Who are your favourite villian and why?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Fictional Vampires by Anna Wilson


Today I have a fab post to sink your teeth into in preparation for Halloween!

Meet Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire a brilliant new MG children’s book by Anna Wilson which was released on the 7th September published by the wonderful Stripes Publishing.  All topped off with wonderful illustrations by Kathryn Durst.

So today I have the lady herself, Anna Wilson, with some of her top fictional Vampires…..


Vlad is the youngest member of the Impaler family, the bravest vampires that ever lived. But Vlad isn’t very brave at all. He’s even a little bit scared of the dark!

All Vlad wants is some friends and he thinks he knows just where to find them… Human school! So off Vlad goes, along with his pet bat Flit.

But how will Vlad keep his true identity secret from his new friends? Not to mention keeping them hidden from his family!

Life just got a lot more complicated…

A gentle and funny story of a little vampire who wishes he was human – this is DIARY OF A WIMPY KID meets Hotel Transylvania.


Top Fictional Vampires

Mona the Vampire – Nickelodeon

“Here’s a nice normal girl in an ordinary world. Show us your fangs! Hey, Mona!”

I loved watching this series with my kids when they were small. Mona is a child with an extremely over-active imagination – she likes to play at being a vampire with her friends. Or is she playing? The cartoon cleverly switches between what is real and what is imagined while leaving space for the viewer to make up their own mind. What I enjoyed most about the cartoon was that it seemed to say that imaginary play was as real as you wanted it to be – if you believed you were vampire that could defeat zombies, then you were a vampire that could defeat zombies! Mona uses her vampire skills to solve mysteries but also to help her cope with everything from school bullies to annoying teachers. I think she has inspired me in creating Vlad, who admittedly is not as good at being a vampire as Mona, but certainly needs his wits about him when he goes to human school.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

The ultimate vampire! This book was written well over one hundred years ago but is still read by fans of Gothic horror today. The author found the inspiration for his novel in Romanian folktales about a man called Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was a man renowned for his cruelty – legend has it that he drank the blood of his enemies to give himself strength. In fact there is little evidence to support this, although it seems he did enjoy having his dinner alongside the still twitching bodies of his slain enemies, which he had impaled on spikes, hence his nickname! Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula moves from his home in Transylvania to England where he does all the things we’ve now come to expect from vampires: he drinks a young girl’s blood and turns her into a vampire too; he turns into a werewolf and a bat and he has powerful hypnotic and telepathic abilities. He does not cast a shadow or have a reflection and prefers to travel at night when his powers are at their strongest. Some of these ideas have found their way into my own book, Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire, but as the title suggests, my little Vlad is pretty hopeless at all these “vampire skills”!

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

This four-title series took the book world by storm with the publication of the first story in 2008. Teens fell for the charismatic 104-year-old vampire, Edward Cullen, who himself falls in love with a human girl, Bella Swan. Edward’s family no longer drink human blood, preferring instead to feast on the blood of animals. This means that Bella is not endangered by Edward in the same way as the girls in Bram Stoker’s book are by Count Dracula, and she and Edward are free to pursue their relationship. However, there are trials and tribulations aplenty, especially when other “newborn” vampires with more traditional views come along and try to sink their fangs into Bella to make her a vampire too. My character Vlad struggles with vampire traditions. He hates drinking blood, even though his parents don’t bite humans any more. They have their blood delivered by a blood donor van called Red Cells Express!

The Addams Family – TV series based on the cartoon by Charles Addams

I know, I know – this is not a vampire story! But I had to mention the creepy Addams Family because of the impact the television series had on me as a child. In any case, the little sister Wednesday Addams is so pale and strange she has always seemed quite vampiric to me. The cast of characters is much more varied than in a straightforward vampire tale, though – each Addams family member has his or her (or its!) own unique personality. However, they are all perfectly gruesome Halloween monsters in their own right. From Morticia, the witchy mother, to Cousin Itt, a tiny creature whose body is completely shrouded in hair, to Thing – a speaking, disembodied arm, there is enough here to make sure you don’t want to be watching the show alone on a dark and stormy night. But the show was also incredibly funny, and it was this mixture of the macabre with the amusing that I hoped to achieve my own stories. Also, if you know anything about the kooky, spooky Addams family, you won’t have any trouble at all in seeing where I got the inspiration for the names of some of my characters. Morticia just might have had something to do with Vlad’s mother being called Mortemia, for example. And the crazy personality of Uncle Gomez certainly influenced my creation of Grandpa Gory and Mulch the butler too.

You can buy a copy of Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire here or from your local bookshop


About Anna Wilson

Anna Wilson is the author of humorous books for children. THE POODLE PROBLEM was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club title, and MONKEY BUSINESS and SUMMER SHADOW have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.

You can find out more about Anna on her website – www.annawilson.co.uk

About Kathryn Durst

Kathryn Durst loves working on children’s entertainment, publications, and media – especially children’s books and television series. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

You can find out more about Kathryn on her website –  www.kathryndurst.com


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Anna for a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes Publishing for asking me to host.

Have you read Vlad The Worlds Worst Vampire?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Who are your favourite fictional vampires?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Eloise Undercover Bibliography/Research by Sarah Baker


I am always captivated by stories set in the war especially WWII so when this little gem dropped on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago I was super excited!

Eloise Undercover by Sarah Baker was released on the 7th September by Catnip Books and I literally cannot wait to get started!

And today I have the lovely lady herself sharing some research and recommending some books in this fab guest post!


France, 1944. 12-year-old Eloise’s father has not come home in over a week, and she is getting worried that something might be badly wrong. When the Germans occupy Eloise’s town, and the Nazi Kommandant moves into Maison de la Noyer, things start falling apart. Through a chance meeting, Eloise volunteers to join the Resistance. Suspense, secrecy and danger follow her as, inspired by her favourite detective fiction books, she tries to find her father. A hidden passage behind a tapestry, a deportation list and a race against time… Will Eloise find her father? And what other secrets will she reveal?


Bibliography/Research

When it came to Eloise Undercover, I wanted to get the setting right, or as right as possible. I did an awful lot of research on the internet, spent quality time at the Imperial War Museum, asked my Dad many, many questions (he’s an unofficial WW2 expert) and read a fair few books. Here are some of my recommendations, or a further reading list, if you prefer.

You’ll note some are reference books and others are YA, middle-grade or younger.  They’re not in any particular order. I recommend them all.

Sisterland by Linda Newbery

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Last Train From Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Land Girl Manual, 1941 by W.E. Shewell Cooper

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Heroines of SOE (Britain’s Secret Women in France – F Section) by Squadron Leader Beryl E. Escott

The Snow Goose by John Gallico

What do you think? Have I missed an important read? What books set during WW2 would you recommend?


ELOISE UNDERCOVER by Sarah Baker, out now in paperback (£6.99, Catnip)

You can buy a copy here or from your local bookshop


About Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker is a children’s writer based in London. Her previous book, Through the Mirror Door, has been very well received by bloggers, bookshops and readers. Sarah has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features, the Bermuda Film Festival and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She writes guest features for a number of online magazines and blogs, including the popular #vintage baker finds pieces for Bristol Vintage. ELOISE UNDERCOVER is Sarah’s second novel.

You can find out more about Sarah Baker on her website – www.bysarahbaker.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @bysarahbaker


A huge thank you to Sarah for a fab guest post and to Laura at Catnip for asking me to host.

Have you read Eloise Undercover  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Are there any WWII books that you would recommend?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – My 8 Favourite Historical Novels by Dawn Farnham


Today I am super happy to be part of the blog tour for a new historical fiction book published by Monsoon Books.

The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham is the first book in The Straits Quartet series and is a brilliant Asian Historical Fiction read.

Today I have the author herself sharing some of her favourite historical fiction books….


Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.


Favourite 8 Historical Fiction Books 

My novels are set in Asia so instead of going through all the usual and more recent suspects (a la Mantel), I would like to offer your readers and bloggers a few perhaps lesser known or older ones set in East and Southeast Asia.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 

Perhaps she is somewhat forgotten now but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a great read. It won the Pulitzer in 1932. She won the Nobel in 1938.  All her books set in China are worth re-finding.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

He’s a marvellous writer. Not strictly historical but he tells the story of foreign meddling in Vietnam and its consequences better than any history book.

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

A splendid writer, also winner of the Nobel prize.

Shogun by James Clavell

Flawed and probably historical nonsense (so the Japanese say) but he tells a good tale.

Waiting and War Trash by Ha Jin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love almost everything by him.

Roshomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Classic Japanese tale transformed into many movies.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Conrad set many stories in Southeast Asia where he spent a long time as a sailing man.  Beautiful writing and compelling stories.

You can buy a copy of The Red Thread here

The Red Thread is going to be FREE on Amazon from 17th – 25th September

Or why not add the book to your Goodreads here


About Dawn Farnham

Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartet (The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding Maria is published in October 2017. Learn more about Dawn at www.dawnfarnham.com.

You can also follow Dawn on twitter – @farnhamauthor

Or on Facebook here


Blog Tour

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


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and to host this fab piece and to Dawn for writing it.

Have you read The Read Thread?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Ten YA Books by Cara Thurlbourn


I am over the moon to be part of the Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn, a fab new YA Fantasy, blog tour today with a fab guest post from the lady herself!

Fire Lines was released on the 26th September published by Bewick Press and looks absolutely fab!

So for my stop on the blog tour Cara is sharing her top 10 YA Books…..



When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?


Top 10 YA Books

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

One of my most recent reads, recommended by my sister and devoured in a day. Totally unputdownable with a huge twist that I didn’t see coming (and I’m usually great at spotting twists!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

I’m a sucker for an interesting narrator and The Book Thief certainly has that! I also love that against the very serious backdrop of The Second World War, Zusak celebrates books, words and freedom of expression.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I was given a copy of this book as a gift when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen and that infamous first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”, probably sums up all of my dreamy notions of being a writer.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 

Another relatively recent read of mine, I love the way Sara Barnard tackles the themes of friendship and mental health. It was also really refreshing to read something where the main focus was on the intricacies female friendship and not a romance.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Just adorable. Eleanor reminded me so much of me that it was almost painful at times. Probably my favourite read of the year.

Rebel of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

A fierce heroine and a blend of the wild west and fantasy, what’s not to love?! It also gives me severe cover envy with its sparkliness.

My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher 

It’s quite a few years since I read this book but it still sticks with me as one of those ones that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love the narrative and the way Annabel Pitcher cocoons her story in themes that are, sadly, very relevant today.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I listened to this on audio on my commute to work and often had to delay getting out of the car because it was just too good! So atmospheric and full of mystery and intrigue.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I love everything about this book, from the story itself to the physicality of it. The cover is stunning, the artwork on the pages is to die for and I can’t wait to get started on her latest The Island at the End of Everything.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Still mid-read but I can tell this will be one of my stand out books of the year. Another recommendation/lend from my sister and she’s rarely wrong with her tastes!

You can buy a copy of Fire Lines here 

Or add to your Goodreads list here


About Cara Thurlbourn

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.

Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University.

She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.

Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: www.firelines.co.uk

You can also follow Cara on twitter – @carathurlbourn


Blog Tour

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

 


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to host this fab piece and to Cara for writing it.

Have you read Fire Lines?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

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