Tag Archives: UKMG

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!

Spotlight – AniMalcolm by David Baddiel


Today I am honoured to be part of the Lollies 2017 Blog Tour featuring a book that will guarantee to have you laughing you little socks off!

That’s right I am hugely honoured to be shining the spotlight on the super funny AniMalcolm by the hilarious David Baddiel illustrated by the hugely talented Jim Field.

And for my stop on the tour I have an amazing signed giveaway!

But first lets find out about The Lollies and this years shortlist of amazing super funny books….


About The Lollies

Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its second year, created by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, to celebrate the funniest children’s books.

Having long championed humorous books for children Rosen said of the shortlist: “This is a collection of 12 whizzy, crazy, hilarious books. They are guaranteed to tickle. Parents and teachers wondering how to keep your children interested in reading, why not start here? And you can always start them off by reading them out loud – funny voices an’ all!”

Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Nicolette Jones, journalist and Sunday Times Children’s Book Editor and Katie Thistleton, presenter and host of the CBBC Children’s Book Club, were tasked with making the selected shortlist from over 130 books submitted by children’s publishers.

The Lollies are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8s and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13s. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book

Oi Dog by Kes Gray and Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books)

Eat Your People by Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz (Orchard Books)

Prince of Pants by Alan Macdonald and Sarah McIntyre (Scholastic)

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton and Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds

Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake and Martin Chatterton (Firefly Press)

Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace and Jamie Littler (Simon and Schuster)

Eddy Stone and the Epic Holiday Mash-Up by Simon Cherry (Usborne)

Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms by Jim Smith (Egmont)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds.

I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury)

The Best Medicine by Christine Hamil (Little Island Books)

My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons and Laura Ellen Anderson (Nosy Crow)

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel and Jim Field (Harper Collins)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Scholastic channel on the PopJam app.

The winning books will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in January 2018.

The Lollies were created in response to findings from Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, (www.scholastic.co.uk/readingreport) which found that what two-thirds of children aged 6-17 looked for when choosing books for themselves were ‘books that make me laugh’.


About AniMalcolm

From David Baddiel, the brightest new star of children’s books and winner of the LOLLIES award, comes a laugh-out-loud adventure for every child who ever wondered what it might be like to be a bit of an animal…

Malcolm doesn’t like animals.

Which is a problem because his family love them. Their house is full of pets. What the house is NOT full of is stuff Malcolm likes. Such as the laptop he wanted for his birthday.

The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year Six school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. And yet there he is, on the bus, heading to… oh no. A farm.

Over the next days, Malcolm changes. He learns a lot about animals. More, in many ways, than he would like. He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…

It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before?

Because sometimes the hardest thing to become is… yourself.

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


About David Baddiel

David Baddiel is an author and comedian. He has written and performed in a series of highly successful TV comedy shows, including The Mary Whitehouse Experience and Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned. His debut children’s novel, The Parent Agency, was the bestselling 9-12 debut of 2014 and was hailed by the Guardian as ‘funny, sometimes moving and always engaging.’ The Person Controller is his second novel – and it confirms David as a brilliant and original new voice in children’s fiction. He lives in London.

About Jim Field

Jim Field is an illustrator, character designer and animation director.

From music videos and title sequences to illustration and picture books, Jim has worked on a variety of projects.

His first picture book, CATS AHOY! written by Peter Bently and published by MacMillan won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011.
In 2013 Jim designed and art-directed the interactive children’s exhibition ‘Journey to Space’ at Discover Children’s Story Centre.

He has since illustrated children’s books with Kes Gray, Michelle Robinson,Rachel Bright, Michael Broad, Jeanne Willis, Steve Cole and comedian David Baddiel.

Jim now lives in Paris with his wife, daughter and a small grumpy cat.


Giveaway

I have 3 signed copies of AniMalcolm by David Baddiel to giveaway with thanks to the lovely organisers of the Lollies and Harper Collins!

I am running the giveaway via twitter here

UK Only

Ends 29/09/2017

Winners will need to provide a mailing address to me to pass onto the publishers to send out your prize.

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Antonia and all at the Lollies for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour and of course for the awesome giveaway!

A huge good luck to all of the Lollies 2017 nominees!  You are all fab!

Have you read AniMalcolm?  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 – A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren by Ruth Lauren


Today I am thrilled to be part of the brilliant Prisoner Of Ice And Snow Blog Tour!

Prisoner Of Ice And Snow by Ruth Lauren was released on the 7th September 2017 published by Bloomsbury and is a brilliant MG Fantasy that will keep you gripped page after page!

Today the lovely Ruth Lauren gives us a little insight into her day in this fab guest post….



Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.


A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren

Being an author isn’t the first job I’ve had, but it is by far my favourite. In what other job do you get requests to choose the font for a letter that one of your characters wrote to another character? Or to send along a little voice recording of word and name pronunciations for the audio book narrator? This never happened when I worked in an office, I can tell you. I might write a pitch for an idea, or talk with my agent about next steps, or get something exciting like a book cover or news on a foreign sale in my inbox.

But of course, most days I don’t get an email asking for these things. Most days my inbox is just asking me to rate that blind I ordered or make a dental appointment. And most of the time, after I’ve dropped my kids off at school (that I get to do this every day is another perk of the job), I go home to sit in front of my laptop. Sometimes it really is just sitting, because a lot of my time is spent either daydreaming—when an idea for a new book isn’t nailed down yet—or solving problems, plotting out the trajectory of stories, thinking up twists and how/when to reveal them.

Other times, when I’m drafting a book, I spend most of the day actually writing (and not on the internet at all. Not that.) That could be an outline or some more detailed notes on a specific chapter, but mostly I try to add 1k words a day to whatever story I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll have to set that aside if my editor send a book back to me and I need to do another round of edits, or line edits, or copy edits, or . . . you get the picture, editing is a big part of my life!

And if I’m lucky, some days after I’ve finished my writing work, I get a lovely review from a young person who read PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW and liked it, and then I don’t mind that my inbox told me to make a dental appointment.

You can buy a copy of Prisoner Of Ice And Snow here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here


About Ruth Lauren


Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Lauren on her website – www.ruthlauren.com

Or why not follow Lauren on Twitter – @ruth__lauren

And Instagram here


Blog Tour

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


A huge big thank you to Bloomsbury and Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Prisoner Of Ice And Snow?  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 – The Art Of Naming Characters by Mark Powers


Today I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new super fun middle grade book, Spy Toys:  Out Of Control by Mark Powers and illustrated by the super talented Tim Wesson!

Spy Toy: Out Of Control was released on the 10th August 2017 published by the lovely people at Bloomsbury and is the second book in the Spy Toys series!

Today Mark Powers chats about The Art Of Naming Characters in this fab guest post….



Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!

Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys – Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit – are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them.

Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular’s top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?


The Art Of Naming Characters

Few things are more delicious in literature than a good character name. Inigo Montoya. Herbert Pocket. Titus Groan. Bellatrix Lestrange. Veruca Salt. Dorian Gray. The mind savours them like a mouthful of chocolate cake.

In creating the evil elephant/human hybrid character Rusty Flumptrunk for my first SPY TOYS adventure, I took a leaf out of the book of my favourite writer Douglas Adams, one of the champion character-namers of all time. He came up with the name Slartibartfast by taking a string of extremely rude words and changing each very slightly until he had something that sounded rude, but wasn’t. If you ever find yourself on a long and boring train journey or you’re waiting to get served in your nearest branch of Curry’s and have a couple of hours to kill, you may like to ponder exactly which naughty words went into the construction of Rusty Flumptrunk.

Sometimes the unexpected use of a simple name can be humorously effective. In my new book SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL, I needed a name for a unicorn. One immediately thinks of the poetic, mystical names that the great fantasy writers have dreamt up for their magical beasts: Lewis’s lordly lion Aslan, Tolkien’s slumbering dragon Smaug and Pratchett’s vast, world-bearing turtle Great A’Tuin. Which is why I decided to call my unicorn John. John the unicorn.

My current favourite coiner of fabulous names is British fantasy author Michael Moorcock, in particular the baroque handles he gives to the decadent eccentrics who populate the future Earth in his series The Dancers at the End of Time. Jherek Carnelian. The Iron Orchid. Sweet Orb Mace. Lord Jagged of Canaria. Mistress Christia. The Duke of Queens. Argonheart Po. Gaf the Horse in Tears…the list goes on. Pure pleasure.

So what’s the secret of a good character name? Lordy. Who knows? You definitely know one when you see one, or if you’re lucky, when one bubbles up from your unconscious. But there’s no guaranteed formula for creating them. All you can do is painstakingly slam different phonemes together at random in the hope of precipitating a kind of literary alchemy.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that no matter how stretched their imagination or short their deadline, no author would ever consider giving a character a name as silly as ‘Donald Trump’.

Meet John the unicorn, Dr Potty, Gemma Snowdrop, Professor Doomprickle and other oddly named characters in the second book in Mark Powers’s SPY TOYS series, SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of Spy Toys:  Out Of Control here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Mark Powers

Author Mark Powers has been making up ridiculous stories since primary school and is slightly shocked to find that people now pay him to do it. As a child he always daydreamed that his teddy bear went off on top secret missions when he was at school, so a team of toys recruited as spies seemed a great idea for a story. He grew up in north Wales and now lives in Manchester. His favourite animals are the binturong, the aye-aye and the dodo. www.spytoysbooks.com

You can find out more about Mark on his websitewww.spytoybooks.com

Or why not follow Mark on Twitter – @mpowerswriter


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Mark for such a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Spy Toys: Out Of Control?  What did you think?  Who was your favourite character?  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 – 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!

Tales Post – Extract From The (Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers) Diary Of Pig by Emer Stamp


My son, Corey, and I LOVE Pig!  We have followed him on his fun filled adventures for a while now and we were over the moon to hear about the release of the new installment The (Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers) Diary Of Pig!

The (Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers) Diary Of Pig was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Scholastic.  We knew Pig’s adventures were going to make us laugh lots….and we did!

For my stop on the blog tour I have a brilliant extract from the new book to get you excited about Pig’s new adventure….


I is Pig. This is my diary and I doubts you will believe any of it. In fact, if you is the kind of farmer what finds it hard to believe unbelievable stuff, you should put it down RIGHT NOW. I wouldn’t blame you. If I was reading it I would be like, ‘Don’t be silly! Stuff like this would never happen to a pig, it’s totally impossible.’ But it’s not. Just ask Duck, or Cow, or Ki-Ki, or Rusty. They’d all tell you. It’s all 1000% true and 10,000% BONKERS!


Extract From The (Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers) Diary Of Pig

You can buy a copy of The (Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers) Diary Of Pig here or from your local bookshop!

You can find previous posts with author Emer Stamp by clicking on the links below…..

Favourite Scenes From The Pig Series

Corey’s Corner – Review – The Seriously Extra Ordinary Diary Of Pig


About Emer Stamp

Emer Stamp is the author and illustrator of The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig. Emer grew up on a farm in Devon before training in graphic design and working for some of London’s top advertising agencies. She was the Creative Director for the Adam and Eve DDB communications agency, which creates advertisements for clients including John Lewis, Halifax, Cadbury’s and Save the Children. She lives in London.

You can find out more about Emer and Pig here or on the Goodreads page here

Or why not follow Emer on twitter using @emerstamp


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Katrina at Scholastic and Emer for having me on this fab blog tour!

You can find previous posts with author Emer Stamp by clicking on the links below…..

Favourite Scenes From The Pig Series

Corey’s Corner – Review – The Seriously Extra Ordinary Diary Of Pig

Have you read any of Pig’s adventures?  What did you think?  Do you have a favourite moment?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – St Grizzle’s School For Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by Karen McCombie


The second book in the fab St Grizzles series, St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by Karen McCombie was released on the 1st June and I can’t wait to dive right in a give it a read!

St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies is the follow up the first in the series St Grizzles School For Girls, Goats and Random Boys and is a brilliant MG read.

So today I’m shining the spotlight on this fab new book in the series and it’s wonderful author….


When local schools are asked to make a film showcasing the surrounding area, Dani and the rest of St Grizzle’s set to work. But Spencer and his mates at the village school are determined to sabotage the work of the smelly Grizzlers.
To Dani’s surprise, help comes in the form of Granny Viv who has secretly taken up residence in the school’s tree house with Downboy the dog. Together they come up with the perfect ghostly video … but will Granny Viv be able to stay once the competition’s over?

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


About Karen McCombie

Karen McCombie has written over 80 books full of endearing characters and quirky humour; her series Ally’s World has sold over 200,000 copies. Born in Scotland, Karen now lives in north London. Karen loves her job, but is a complete fidget. She regularly packs up her laptop and leaves Office Number 1 (her weeny back bedroom) and has a brisk walk to Office Number 2 (the local garden centre café).

You can find out more about Karen on her website – www.karenmccombie.com

Or why not follow Karen on twitter – @KarenMcCombie

About Becka Moor

Becka Moor is a children’s book illustrator and storyteller living in Manchester. She studied illustration for children’s publishing at Glyndwr University, graduating in 2012. Since then, she has worked on a variety of fiction books and series as well as picture books.

She rents desk space in a stunning grade II listed building with other creative folk, has an obsession with cats and loves anything a bit on the quirky side.

You can find out more about Becka on her website – www.beckamoor.com

Or why not follow Becka on twitter – @beckamoor


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Beth at Stripes for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read St Grizzles or any other books by Karen McCombie?  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 – 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!

Guest Post – Characters by Lorraine Gregory


I am super excited to have the wonderful Lorraine Gregory on Tales today to celebrate the release of Mold and the Poison Plot!

Mold and the Poison Plot was released on the 4th May 2017 published by OUP and is a fab MG tale of a character called Mold.

As well as all of this Lorraine Gregory is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for May 2017!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I really wanted to get to know Mold more so I asked Lorraine about characters in this fab guest post….


He’s got a big heart . . . and a nose to match!

Mold’s a bit of a freak. His nose is as big as his body is puny and his mother abandoned him in a bin when he was a mere baby. Who else but the old healer, Aggy, would have taken him in and raised him as her own? But when Aggy is accused of poisoning the King, Mold sets out to clear her name.

In a thrilling race against time to save Aggy from the hangman’s noose, Mold faces hideous, deadly monsters like the Yurg and the Purple Narlo Frog. He finds true friendship in the most unusual – and smelly – of places and must pit his wits and his clever nose against the evil witch Hexaba.

This is an exciting fantasy story with an array of wonderful characters, including the inimitable Mold, told in a fresh and distinctive voice by a promising new writer.


Characters

Character is everything. Doesn’t matter how great your concept is or how exciting your plot might be – characters are what make it all work, are what make people keep reading. So, as a writer, creating characters that live and breathe and inspire emotion, be it empathy, anger, love or fear, is one of our most important tasks.

The main character in Mold and the Poison Plot was relatively easy in his early creation as I had one of those odd moments of clarity where he popped into my head, voice and all! Of course then I had to dig deeper to find out his whole story and particularly what he most wanted as this would be his motivation for everything he does.

The first layer of what Mold wants is the driving force for the story – he wants to save Aggy, the woman who has looked after him all his life and is now in danger. But underneath that, he’s also desperate to find out who he really is, who his family are and why they dumped him in a bin when he was just a baby.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that Mold is incredibly loyal and will risk himself not just for Aggy but for anyone he feels might need help and this is how he meets Fergus who becomes his very great friend.

My next step then, was to discover what Fergus most wants so that he too has his own arc and motivation. Every character needs one, however small. Sometimes it’s only the author who needs to know what they are so that it can leak into the story and the reader will pick it up without it being blatant. Fergus for example wants a best friend. He’s desperate to find someone, anyone, because a deep loneliness plagues him. This is why Mold’s early defence of him triggers such unswerving devotion.

I applied this same ethic to all my characters -Aggy, Begsy, Iric… they all needed motivation for their actions. They can’t be cardboard cutout’s just doing whatever needs doing to move the story along. They have to have strong reasons for behaving in certain ways and often it’s one of the most tricky things to do well, but it’s worth the brain power to get it right.

It was also really important to me that the antagonists in my book had believable motivations too and were more than just cliche’s. There are several villains in my book, four primary and a few secondary so you can probably tell that I do love a good baddie!

I tried to make sure they all had fleshed out reasonings that again, didn’t all make it into the book, but were clear in my head when I wrote them and therefore lent resonance. Even the worst of my villains had reasons for what they were doing and some shades of grey. None of them are evil for evil’s sake. They’re all the result of their life experiences just as we are in real life. For me, fleshing out characters like that, making them live and breathe beyond the pages, is one of the most fascinating parts of writing.

One way to build up characters is to explore their history. I found it really useful to write a brief history of the world I created. By understanding how Pellegarno was shaped both societally and politically I found much of the motivation for my villains in particular. The majority of that history never makes itself into the book but it’s there in my head, lending strength to the world, making it more believable and underpinning the situation Mold finds himself in during the story.

Sometimes it can take a while for the nuance to come out, for the backstory to develop but everything that you do to improve character improves the story in my opinion. This work is often done in later drafts when the majority of the plot is already in place but motivation is something I think you need to think about as early as possible.

Always ask yourself, why are they doing this? What do they want? if you can’t think of a reasonable answer then they really shouldn’t be doing it, however important it is to the plot!

Weak characters that are placed on the page to serve one purpose and have no agency of their own can impact on the reader’s willingness to believe wholeheartedly in the story. If you lose readers belief through weak motivation or cliche it can be hard to win them back, especially children as they find it exceedingly easy to put down a book and never finish it!

But, if readers relate to a character, if they love them or hate them, they will follow them forever through your story and every blow, every setback, every triumph will resonate. Characters, real, wonderful characters with nuance and heart and depth can open worlds, expose truth, fight injustice, create change, inspire hope, touch hearts, change minds and live on forever in the readers soul.

We just have to write them first!

You can buy a copy of Mold and the Poison Plot here or from your local bookshop!


About Lorraine Gregory

I’m the daughter of an Indian father and an Austrian mother raised on an East London Council Estate. The local library was my source of all books growing up and I never stopped reading if I could help it.

All that reading led to me writing my own stories throughout my childhood and teens while I dreamed of being a proper author one day.

Unfortunately as I grew up it seemed too impossible that someone like me could ever achieve such an ambition and I decided it was better to give up such lofty aspirations. I settled down to a normal life with a job, marriage and motherhood and kept all my stories firmly in my head.
Until that is, years later reading to my son sparked my love of writing once again and I started scribbling my own tales to read to him.

Five years of hard work led to a book deal with OUP for my debut Mold and the Poison Plot, a fantasy adventure about a boy with a remarkable nose…     


A huge thank you to Lorraine Gregory and also Hannah at OUP for organising this post and embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17.

Have you read Mold and the Posion Plot?  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!

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