Tag Archives: UKYA

Spotlight – In Your Light by Annalie Grainger


Today I am over then moon to be part of the blog tour for Annalie Grainger’s new YA book, In Your Light.

In Your Light was released on the 3rd May 2018 published by the fab Simon & Schuster Children’s UK and is set to be a tender and heart breaking read.

Today I am shining the spotlight on this fab book and telling you a little bit more about it and the brilliant Annalie…


From the author of Captive comes a tense, gripping story of secrets, sisterhood and running away

Are you still a sister, if one of you is missing?

Sixteen-year-old Lil’s heart was broken when her sister Mella disappeared. There’s been no trace or sighting of her since she vanished, so when Lil sees a girl lying in the road near her house she thinks for a heart-stopping moment that it’s Mella. The girl is injured and disorientated and Lil has no choice but to take her home. But something’s not right… The girl claims she’s from a peaceful community called The Sisterhood of the Light, but why then does she have strange marks down her arms, and what – or who – is she running from…
 
Could she hold the key to Mella’s disappearance?
 
And what happens if the Sisterhood is unwilling to let its daughters go… 

You can buy a copy of In Your Light here or from your local bookshop!


About Annalie Grainger

Annalie Grainger lives in London, where she works as a children’s books editor. She loves writing and editing because it means she gets to talk about books all day. Her debut, Captive, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.

You can find out more about Annalie and her writing on Twitter (@_AJGrainger) or by visiting her website, www.ajgrainger.com


Blog Tour

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

#InYourLight


A huge thank you to Eve at Simon & Schuster for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read In Your Light?  What did you think?  Did it break your heart?  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Aunty Vimala’s Rules by Savita Kalhan


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Savita Kalhan on Tales to celebrate the release of The Girl In The Broken Mirror!

The Girl In The Broken Mirror was released on the 1st May 2018 published by Troika Books and this fab YA is set to break your heart.

Today Savita is sharing a fab extract / guest post from the book with Aunty Vimala’s Rules….


Jay’s creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with they lived happily ever after . But the way her life is panning out she s not sure it will ever reach that stage. She and her mother are moving in with distant relatives, and they have super strict rules for girls. Jay is expected to have only Indian friends, if she has any at all. How can she see her school friends, Chloe and Matt? But this is only the beginning of a nightmare for Jay. When her life implodes, how can she hide the shame and how will she find a way to keep going?


Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today and being part of the amazing fourteen stop blog tour! It’s so exciting to be here – and to have a new book out! I’m thrilled that The Girl in the Broken Mirror is in readers’ hands. It was published by Troika Books on May 1st and I still haven’t stopped smiling.

The Girl in the Broken Mirror is about Jay, who’s fifteen, and a terrible trauma that happens to her. It’s about her journey after the trauma and how she finds help. It’s also about a huge culture clash – Jay has had a liberal upbringing, but suddenly she has to move in with distant relatives who have super-strict ideas of what a girl can do and cannot do. Imagine having to live there for a few years, with little contact with your own family, and where school is the only freedom you are allowed.

That’s what Jay, the main character of The Girl in the Broken Mirror, is faced with!

Jay moves in with her Aunty Vimala at No 42 Primrose Avenue. She has been given the room in the basement, and her mum has been given the room in the attic. She’s also been given a huge set of rules…

Aunty Vimala’s Rules

Girls must be able to cook.

Girls must do all the cleaning and washing.

Girls must dress demurely.

Girls must not talk to boys.

Girls should not go out – no sleepovers, no hanging out with friends, no wasting time.

The rules are out of place in the UK in the 21st Century. They should be out of place everywhere.

Aunty Vimala’s Other Rules

Never wash your hair on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays.

Never leave your shoes upside down.

Never taste the food you are cooking with the stirring spoon.

Never shake the pickle jar when you have your period.

Never whistle after six o’clock.

These are just a few of Aunty Vimala’s other rules. They are part religious, part tradition, and part superstition. And all of them are alien to Jay and her upbringing. She struggles to fit in with this new lifestyle, but at the same time she knows that she has to – her and her mum have nowhere else to live.

Thank you so much for inviting me here today.

I hope you all love the book

You can buy a copy of The Girl In The Broken Mirror here or from your local bookshop!


About Savita Kalhan

I was born in my grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. The family home has been transformed into an amazing charity hospital, which is pretty cool. I moved with my parents from that small village in India to a small town in Buckinghamshire when I was 11 months old. No, I’ve never got used to the cold or the damp or the rain!

I went to uni in Aberystwyth, where the winters were colder and the seas stormy, and got happily stuck there for a few years before heading to London and life as an impoverished batik artist, before taking the plunge and getting married in Manila. Then I headed off to the desert heat of the Middle East where I lived and taught English for several years, read like a demon, and started writing.

I’ve never stopped writing. I hope I never do.

Now, I’m in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from my allotment where I fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where I slug a few balls, and my writing shed at the bottom of the garden where I write.

Savita loves to hear from my readers and she is happy to answer any questions about herself or the book!

You can find out more about Savita on her website –  www.savitakalhan.com

Or why not follow Savita on twitter –  @savitakalhan.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Savita for getting in touch and asking me to host this fab post.

Have you read ?  What did you think?  Was it what you expected?  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 – I Was Born For This YA Playlist by Alice Oseman


Today I am super excited to have the phenomenal Alice Oseman on Tales to celebrate the release of her new fantastic YA, I Was Born For This.

I Was Born For This was released on the 3rd May 2018 published by Harper Collins Children’s and the reviews that I’ve already seen prove that this is a book not to be missed!

Also check out these beautiful redesigns of Alice’s two previous YA books…..as well as being fantastic they are simply gorgeous!

 So today Alice is sharing another song from her #YAPlaylist for I Was Born This Way and I am sharing a song from my playlist too….


The third novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most talked about YA writers in recent years.

For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.

But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

A funny, wise, and heartbreakingly true coming of age novel. I Was Born for This is a stunning reflection of modern teenage life, and the power of believing in something – especially yourself.


YA Playlist

Alice

Heavydirtysoul – Twenty One Pilots

I included a Twenty One Pilots song in my I Was Born for This playlist because they’re one of the closest bands to how I imagine The Ark sound! Also, ‘Heavydirtysoul’ has lyrics that reflect some of Angel’s feelings towards The Ark. “Can you save my heavy dirty soul” is completely how Angel feels towards The Ark – she looks towards them to solve all of her problems by distracting her from thinking about anything in her own life.

Chelle

Buddy Holly by Weezer

Believe it or not it took me a long time to pick just one song to feature on this post.  Like many of us music to me is so symbolic of different moments in time throughout life and represents so many different feelings…. feelings of love, hurt, friendship, breakups, a particular time and maybe a particular memory.  For me that is what the song Buddy Holly by Weezer represents.  In fact it encompasses and reminds me of so many of these feeling and memories that it makes me feel quite emotional listening to it now a days.

I was 14 or 15 when this song came out at the time I was very much into grunge idolising Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl from Nirvana with all of my teenage angst and then this funky fun rock song came along and I was so on board that fandom!   It was one of the first songs I learnt to play on the guitar with my friend Katie and we even plucked up the courage to enter a competition playing and singing along to it.  The two of us up on the stage with our amps, microphones and guitars nervous, but loving life.  Unbelievably we came second place!  This song gave me the confidence to pursue music and singing further whilst I was at school leading me to do things I never would have imagined myself doing including auditioning for the school musical where I got given the lead part.  To this day I don’t know how that even happened.  It is a confidence I have never really had or felt since if I am honest.

Further into my Weezer fandom it would follow me through first loves, breakups, sadness, hurt and times of laughing, smiling and sitting in my room learning the riffs to play along with Weezer on my guitar.  So many memories from one song and one band.  This is was nostalgia feels like.

It’s amazing what music can do and like Angel in I Was Born This Way maybe music did distract me in a way and give me the most wonderful memories some of them good and some of them bad but most of all memories that I want to cling onto forever and that I wouldn’t change for the world!

You can buy a copy of I Was Born For This here or from your local bookshop

You can check out Alice’s full YA Playlist for I Was Born This Way here


About Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She completed a degree in English at Durham University in 2016 and is currently a full-time writer and illustrator. Alice can usually be found staring aimlessly at computer screens, questioning the meaninglessness of existence, or doing anything and everything to avoid getting an office job.

Alice’s first book, SOLITAIRE, was published when she was nineteen. Her second, RADIO SILENCE, was released in early 2016.

You can find out more about Alice on her website – www.aliceoseman.com

Or why not follow Alice on twitter – @AliceOseman


Blog Tour

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

#IWasBornForThis

#IWBFT

#YAplaylist


A huge thank you to Nina Douglas for asking me to take part in this fab blog tour and to Alice for sharing the insight into the song from her playlist.

Have you read I Was Born For This?  What did you think?  What would be on your YA Playlist?  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 – Why I Love Edinburgh by Sophie Cameron


Today I am excited to have the brilliant Sophie Cameron on Tales to celebrate the release of Out Of The Blue!

Out Of The Blue was released on the 22nd March 2018 published by the lovelies at Macmillan Children’s Books and is a story that will stick with you long after you have read it.

With the book being set in Edinburgh today Sophie chats about why she loves Edinburgh so much in this fab guest post!


When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. For most people it doesn’t. But for Jaya the world ended when her mother died, two weeks before the first angel fell.

Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived and, as the world goes angel crazy, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh, intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand his obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it. Then something extraordinary happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, Sophie Cameron’s Out of the Blue tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.


Why I Love Edinburgh

Edinburgh and I have a bit of a yo-yo relationship. I moved there for uni at 18, went to Quebec for a few months, back to Edinburgh, moved to France for a year, back to Edinburgh, Spain for the summer, back to Edinburgh, Germany, Spain, back to Edinburgh… and now I’m in Spain again, where I’ve been for the past year and a half. I have no idea where I’ll be in five years time, but Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world and still feels very much like home.

Here are five of the best things about it, in my opinion:

 1. The architecture. Even after spending so much time there, Edinburgh still amazes me with how beautiful it is. The Old Town especially is full of incredible buildings, and there are lots of interesting details to look out for. It’s not very built up, either, so you get some great panoramas – my favourites are the views from Calton Hill and North Bridge, especially at dusk.

2. Green spaces. Living in other cities made me really appreciate how many green spaces there are in and around Edinburgh. There’s the Meadows, Arthur’s Seat, Inverleith Park, the Botanic Gardens, Leith Links, Princes Street Gardens, Blackford Hill… They’re some of my favourite spots in the city, and quite a few of them are mentioned in Out of the Blue.

3. Walkable. I love walking, mostly because I’m too lazy to do any other exercise. Edinburgh is pretty perfect for walkers: small enough that you can get lots of places on foot, but big enough that it still has tons to see and do. If you’re visiting it’s really worth leaving the centre and taking a walk to Stockbridge, the Dean Village, Morningside or the Shore if you can.

4. The Fringe. A lot of Edinburgh locals hate the Fringe (and it is very frustrating having to wade through crowds of tourists just to get to Tesco) but I love it. It feels like the whole world arrives in Edinburgh for those three weeks, and amongst a lot of not-so-great stuff, you can find some really incredible shows. The chaotic atmosphere fit perfectly with the crazed behaviour of the angel chasers in Out of the Blue, and it made the book really fun to write.

5. Literary city. Time some fun facts: Edinburgh was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, has the largest monument to a writer (Sir Walter Scott) and the only train station named after a novel (Scott’s Waverley). It also has the amazing Edinburgh International Book Festival, a great writing community and is home to lots of amazing authors. Just writing this has made me want to move back!

You can buy a copy of Out Of The Blue here or from your local bookshop!


About Sophie Cameron

I grew up in the Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland. I spent around ten years in Edinburgh, did a few stints in Canada, Germany and France, and am now living in Barcelona.

My all-time favourite books include Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Naive. Super by Erlend Loe, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, How to be Both by Ali Smith, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and More Than This by Patrick Ness.

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually studying foreign languages or watching inordinate amounts of TV. Other stuff I like includes: cats, tea, Duolingo, cats, Eurovision, Céline Dion, taiyaki, postcards, Catalan pop music, sudoku, empanadas, cheese.

I’m currently working on my second book, which will be published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2019.

You can find out more about Sophie on her website – www.sophie-cameron.com

You can also follow Sophie on twitter – @toomanysophies


A huge thank you to Sophie for a brilliant guest post and to Macmillan Children’s Books and Nina Douglas for asking me to host!

Have you read Out Of The Blue?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  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 – The Five Best Bits Of Being A Debut Author – And The Five Worst by Rowena House


I am absolutely over the moon to have the brilliant Rowena House on the blog today to celebrate the release of her debut novel The Goose Road and the fact that Rowena is our debut of the month for our April #BritishBooksChallenge18!

The Goose Road was released on the 5th April published by the wonderful Walker Books and is a brilliant historical fiction read that will take you on the most wonderful journey.

So today Rowena talks to us about being a debut author in the fab guest post…the best bits and the worst….


France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.


The Five Best Bits Of Being A Debut Author – And The Five Worst

Best bits

 You did it!

 At last all that effort is rewarded. The doubt is gone, that gnawing fear: will I ever make the grade? Hell, yes. I’ve got a book out there! It gets a bit knackering, punching your fist in the air, but basically that’s the feeling.

Clever, creative publishing people believe in your creation

Discussing the inspirations for The Goose Road on social media recently brought home forcefully something I’d rather forgotten amid the nitty-gritty of copy edits, proof reading, building a website etc.

Angelique’s story is my take on a largely ignored side of life at a truly terrible time. I’m talking about how serious life can become for young people, and how sad, funny, strange and cruel.

I’ve had the privilege of spending years thinking about these things, and wondering how a peasant girl might, conceivably, have found the strength to deal with everything the First World War threw at her.

Now clever, creative people in the publishing industry are backing my imagination with their money & expertise – which is fantastic.

You’ve met – and continue to meet – amazing people

If there are lonely, tortured writers in garrets out there, I suspect they’re mostly trying to get some alone-time from all their writing mates, and tortured about how much time they spend on Twitter.

Because one of the very best bits about becoming a debut author is taking part in the wonderful world of writing communities online and in real life.

I’ve met an ocean liner’s worth of fascinating people over the past eleven years (which is how long it’s taken me to get here) many of whom I hope will remain friends for life.

 You’ve served your apprentice. Lack of confidence now is self-inflicted

This one is probably personal as I tend to be over-confident as a person, which might be a mask for deep-seated fears and phobias. But, hey, I’ve got a book out. My neuroses can damn well get back in their cave.

Seriously, though, there is so much first-class, detailed, free advice available to writers that whatever your worry, help is invariably on hand.

Even if you don’t own a library of writing advice guides, there’s always support online. Try Emma Darwin’s impeccable blog, This Itch of Writing. Each time I’ve run into a problem, this site has offered me a considered, practical, do-able solution.

The next book will be better – and cheaper to produce

Confession: I’ve spent in excess of £10,000 on training, research and travel in my quest to get published. I like learning, I loved taking an MA in creative writing (my biggest expense) and I find the buzz of writing festivals energizing.

Also, I wanted to research The Goose Road thoroughly, which meant four research trips to France. Which I could afford. Just.

From now on, it’s me and the laptop and writing in my spare time while earning enough to fill in that £10k hole in my pension savings, and supporting my son through university.

That’s going to be tough. As a freelancer, I could dedicate my time to whatever I wished. But I’ve learnt so much that I know I can do it again – and better.

 Worst bits

 Time

 Getting published takes forever. Your need the patience of heaven’s entire communion of saints to survive this process with any sense of equilibrium – which I don’t have. Frankly, the waiting drives me nuts.

 Grand Old Duke of York syndrome

Getting a debut novel published is an achievement, a pinnacle moment. For the last eleven years I’ve been marching up to the top of this hill…

So yeah, it’s downhill now for the foreseeable future. And that’s because of…

The money

I’m a breadwinner – and writing, famously, don’t earn you no bread.

As a member of the National Union of Journalists since 1983, I’m shocked at the level of pay for writers in the UK. The Society of Authors calculates that currently the average income from a single work of fiction is £6,000.

Naturally, I don’t yet know how well or badly my debut novel will sell, so the following figures are for illustration only – as I keep trying to reassure myself.

The Goose Road took me the full-time equivalent of approximately 15 months to write: three months research, six months for the first draft, three months for a structural edit, and another three for post-contract copy edits etc. and unpaid promotional work. Given a five-day week, that average income of £6k would work out at £20 a day.

Which is about the same as illegal migrants earn picking tomatoes in southern Italy. Seriously. There was an article in The Guardian a couple of months back about illegal migrant tomato pickers in southern Italy. I did the maths.

The opportunity cost

Every moment I spend writing, I’m not doing something else. Like being with my family, walking the dog, earning a living, or campaigning to save African elephants or British badgers. I’ve made my choice. I won’t ever get that time back again…

So how do I know if it was worth it?

A debut is by definition a new thing. Untried and untested. Potentially weak, short-lived. Forgettable. How will I ever be able to judge if it was worth all the time, effort and resources it took to birth it?

The early reviews have been kind, for which I’m hugely grateful, but we live in a capitalist age; publishing is a business. So success – and with it the chances that Book Two will also make it into the shops – depends on sales as well.

Yet every experienced author I’ve ever come across tells debuts not to worry about sales: that way lies madness, they say. Get on with your next book, they say. It’s the only thing in your power.

So maybe this is the worst bit about being a debut author: that you’re still on the same road you’ve been travelling for years. There are new horizons, yes. But no guarantees whatsoever.

You can buy a copy of The Goose Road here or from your local book shop!


About Rowena House

ROWENA HOUSE spent years as a foreign correspondent in France, Africa and then again in Europe before turning to fiction. She visited the WW1 battlefields of the Western Front repeatedly to research her prize-winning First World War short story, The Marshalling of Angelique’s Geese (WAR GIRLS, 2014) and again for her debut novel, THE GOOSE ROAD (Walker 2018). Her fascination with the Great War, the trenches, and the appalling artillery battles of the Somme and Verdun began at school when studying the war poets, Wilfred Owen in particular. As an adult, she experienced war first-hand as a Reuter’s reporter in Ethiopia, and saw its terrible impact on civilians. Now settled in the English countryside with her husband and son, Rowena holds a Master’s degree in rural economics and another in creative writing, and mentors fiction writers alongside her journalism and storytelling.

You can find out more about Rowena on her website – www.rowenahouse.com

Or why not follow Rowena on Twitter – @HouseRowena


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Walker I have 5 copies of The Goose Road to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

I am hosting this giveaway through my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 20/04/2018

Good Luck!


A huge thank you to Rowena House for such a fab guest post and to Jo Hardacre for asking me to host and sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read any of the The Goose Road?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?    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 – Point Horror vs. Stephen King – How The Two Faces Of Teen Horror Influenced Savage Island by Bryony Pearce


Today I a SUPER excited to be sharing a post from the wonderful Bryony Pearce to celebrate the release of another book in the brilliant Red Eye Series, Savage Island.

Savage Island was released today, the 5th April 2018 published by Stripes and if you love YA Horror then this is the book for you!

Also Happy Book Birthday Bryony!

So anyone who knows me knows I am a huge nostalgic Point Horror fan and I was so happy to find out that Bryony also loved Point Horror!  Find out how it influenced Bryony in this fab guest post….


Prepare to be scared out of your wits with a brand new Red Eye.

In SAVAGE ISLAND, Lord of the Flies meets Saw as Bryony Pearce takes the reader on a perilous game of survival of the creepiest. A gripping YA horror, full of fast-paced action.

When reclusive millionaire Marcus Gold announces that he’s going to be staging an “Iron Teen” competition on his private island in the Outer Hebrides, teenagers Ben, Lizzie, Will, Grady and Carmen sign up – the prize is one million pounds each. But when the competition begins with a gruesome twist, the group begins to regret their decision. Can the friends stick together under such extreme pressure to survive?

When lives are at stake, you find out who you can really trust…

Red Eye is the killer YA range from Stripes publishing, a modern day Point Horror that gives the genre a chilling update for a new generation of fans.


Point Horror vs. Stephen King – How The Two Faces Of Teen Horror Influenced Savage Island

My younger sister, Claire, has always loved all things terrifying. While some people were being stretchered out of Saw, my sister considered it fairly tame (I’ve never seen it and never will).

I, however, am a wimp. As a child I watched Jaws and have never been able to watch anything with sharks in. Ever. Again.

If you try and say “Candyman” to me, I’ll freak out and run for my life. It’s not funny!

I am a voracious reader though, and despite my initial allergy to all things scary, as a teenager I did discover Stephen King. For me it was Eye of the Dragon first, and then I devoured everything else he ever wrote, including the Bachman Tales (I’m reading Sleeping Beauties at the moment). The only time I was ever sent out of class was for reading The Stand while my teacher was taking the register (to be fair she was late and once I’m into a book there is little that can get my attention, so I blame her for this injustice).

Having no problem with Stephen King, I decided, one bookless day, to try one of my sister’s Point Horror books.

Point Horror was a series of horror novels, similar to Goosebumps but aimed at a slightly older, teenage, audience. Stephen King was written for adults, so I was expecting to find Point Horror an easy read. Scary only for my little sister and her friends. Sleep over thrills. I had forgotten at this point that my sister considered Freddy Krueger to be light comic relief.

I read one Point Horror book.

I still have nightmares about it to this day!

In this particular novel, the name of which escapes me, the main character ends up buried alive.

What?

I’d been reading Stephen King, where in almost all of his novels, the main character defeats the bad guy. Reading King is about finding out how they solve the problem, how they get out of it, how they defeat the monster.

But in this, the monster won! The character, who I’d become attached to, woke up inside a coffin, scratching at the lid and screaming until she ran out of air. The end.

What?

That is where I learned was proper horror was. Stephen King, in my view writes fantasy – where the status quo is restored. True horror, for me, is the removal of all hope.

I’ve avoided it since.

And so, to Savage Island.

When I decided that I was going to write a horror novel, I drew on Stephen King, because he’s the master and because I’ve read everything he wrote and internalised his lessons. He writes wonderful supernatural creatures, but he also writes terrifying men and women, who are the real monsters – the ones you can’t immediately see.

Monsters are real … They live inside us. And sometimes they win. (Stephen King)

I intended that Savage Island should include all of the things that make Stephen King’s novels great for me:

Subversion of expectation (What’s in the box?)

Gore (that bit with the tooth!)

Using our own fears (being hunted in the dark would be pretty scary for anyone, but I also include being unable to escape and amateur dentistry)

Suspense (foreboding, tense atmosphere and jump scares)

Emotional connection to the characters (I hope my characters come across as real people, who you love to root for)

A twist (the whole thing was a what?)

But because I was writing horror and for me, true horror is the removal of hope, I drew on Point Horror too. And I hope I’ve managed to write a book that leaves you hiding under the covers, just like that Point Horror book for me.

By the way, no-one got buried alive in the making of this story.

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


About Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition and is the author of ANGEL’S FURY and THE WEIGHT OF SOULS, winner of the Wirral Grammar School Award – Best Science Fiction. She has written PHOENIX RISING and PHOENIX BURNING for Stripes. Bryony lives with her husband and two children in a village in Gloucestershire.

You can find out more about Bryony on her website – www.bryonypearce.co.uk

Or why not follow Bryony on Twitter – @BryonyPearce


Previously On Tales…

You can find previous post featuring Bryony and her books by clicking on the below links!

Cover Reveal – Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

Guest Post – My Favourite Literary Pirates by Bryony Pearce

Tales Q&A with Bryony Pearce

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Phoenix Burning Are You?


Blog Tour

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

#SavageIsland    #RedEye


A huge thank you to Bryony Pearce for such a fab guest post and to Charlie at Stripes for asking me to be part of the blog tour and sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read any of the Savage Island?  What did you think?  Did it scare you?  Have you read any of the other books in the Red Eye series?  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 Q&A with Lisa Heathfield and Me!


Today is my stop on the fab #YAShot2018 Blog Tour and I have been paired with the wonderful Lisa Heathfield!

YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country.

So for our stop I wanted you all to get to know a little bit more about Lisa and in turn Lisa thought it would be fun for people to know me a little better too….


‘Trust Us’ the Kindreds tell Pearl and so she does.

A thrilling story of life in a cult.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed.  A darkness from which she must escape, before it’s too late.

A chilling and heartbreaking coming-of-age story of life within a cult, Seed was shortlisted for the Waterstones’ Children’s Book Prize in 2016. 

Stand By Me meets We Were Liars – a heartbreaking and stunning breakout novel for teenagers from the award-nominated author of Seed.

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She’s trapped like a butterfly in a jar.

But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away. But freedom comes at a price . . . 

Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson’s The Art of Being Normal, Sarah Crossan’s Moonrise, Jandy Nelson, Jennifer Niven and Louise O’Neill.

The stunning new novel from award-shortlisted Lisa Heathfield, author of Seed and Paper Butterflies. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, Lisa Williamson, Sarah Crossan and Sara Barnard.

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Flight of a Starling is a heartbreaking read with an important message.

You can buy any of Lisa’s books here or from your local bookshop!


Hi Lisa!  I’m so happy to have you here on Tales again!  You are one of my absolute favourite authors so it’s an absolute honour.

So here’s how this will work….

We each ask each other a question.  Any question.  About anything at all.  And we both have to answer!

Here we go!

What is your favourite smell?

Lisa – Our boys’ hair. From when they were babies to now, it’s the best smell ever.

Chelle – For me its a toss up between talc powder (that fresh baby smell) and Lush Snow Fairy shower gel!  I have to buy it every Christmas!

Name a favourite memory from  your childhood.

Lisa – Lying on my belly in the grass reading a book.

Chelle – Oh I have lots of childhood memories!  When I think of my childhood I think of wandering off with my brother in the woods for hours in a place we used to spend a lot of time when we were kids and him scaring me and my sister about ghosts that haunted the woods.  As I got older a favourite childhood memory is devouring a Point Horror every weekend and trying to collect them all (I still am!)

Where is your favourite place?

Lisa – Either in the Brighton sea in winter, or in the middle of nowhere on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

Chelle – Kind of related to my above answer, but one of my fave places is a little place called Arley near Bewdley.  I spent a lot of time there when I was younger and when I visit there now it just makes me relax.  It’s so peaceful and full of so many memories.

Name the last thing that made you smile.

Lisa – hugging my boys this morning.

Chelle – Same for me too…..hugging my son!  So much love in one hug!

What is your favourite song?

Lisa – Any and every Gospel song.

Chelle – Mine is so different!  I have so many it hard to pick just one!  If I had to chose I would say Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana!  So much of my teenage years revolved around this song!  From blasting it out on my stereo to trying to learn it on guitar!  I love it!  Even to this day when it comes on my Spotify playlist I have to turn the volume up!

Chelle – In complete contrast my favourite ever line from a song is “I’ll never let your head, hit the bed, without my hand behind it” from Your Body Is A Wonderland by John Mayer.  Yes it’s cheesy and embarrassing but that one line is just pure love and romance to me!

What is you favourite book?

Lisa – I’ve three: The Folk Of The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton, The Book Thief – Markus Zusak and As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

Chelle – As we were only meant to pick one Lisa and you picked three 🙂 …. I am cheating and picking two!  Watership Down by Richard Addams and One Day by David Nicholls.  Both very different books but both so brilliant!  I love them!

Name your favourite word.

Lisa – It changes, but at the moment it’s ‘fold’

Chelle – I’m not sure I have a favourite word!  What does that even mean?!  Should I have a favourite word?  Hmmmmmmm…..I am going to say “love” just to go along with my cheesy theme above!

What is your favourite line from a book?

Lisa – ‘My mother is a fish.’ – From As I Lay Dying.

Chelle – This changes quite a lot for me as sometimes I read a sentence in a book and get swept away completely by just that one line and I think wow.  But I do have a favourite line that left me quite breathless if that’s even possible when I read it……  “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once” from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  Pure perfection in a sentence.

Name a book you want to read, but haven’t yet!

Lisa – I’ve wanted to read Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, for years and years. A friend bought me a beautiful copy of it after we went to visit the Bronte’s house in Haworth, but for some reason I keep saving it…

Chelle – Good call with Wuthering Heights as I have never read it either!  Even though I keep saying I will!  I have so many books and so little time, but I think for me it’s To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Why have I never read this?!

Name a book that you would give as a present

Lisa – It changes, but at the moment it’s Moonrise, by Sarah Crossan. I’ve also given a fair few people The Book Thief. And Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses.

Chelle – Mine changes too and without sounding too cheesy I would give your books, Lisa, as presents as they are all wonderful!  I would also include All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and One Day as those books have my heart!

Where is your favourite place to read?

Lisa – if it could be absolutely anywhere, it’d have to be in a field with really long grass and me and a book sunk into the middle of it where no one can see.

Chelle – I love to read sitting on the hill at my favourite place mentioned above.  Other than that snuggling up in bed for a good read is perfect!

And your favourite place to write?

Lisa – I write every day at my kitchen table and that’s a nice place to be.

Chelle – I normally just write at my desk in my little office at home, but I attended a writing outdoors workshop at YALC a few years ago and it’s honestly so inspiring to sit and listen to all the sounds around you whilst you are writing!

Name a book that you wish you had written

Lisa – The Hunger Games – not just because it’s brilliant, but because I would love to spend months in that world with those characters.

Chelle – One Day by David Nicholls.  What a book!  Or basically any book that makes you feel such emotion that you cry just thinking about it!  I would love to write something that people have that much of an emotional connection to.

Or It by Stephen King! 🙂

You can buy any of Lisa’s books here or from your local bookshop!


About Lisa Heathfield

Before becoming a mum to her three sons, Lisa Heathfield was a secondary school English teacher and loved inspiring teenagers to read.

Award-winning author Lisa Heathfield launched her writing career with SEED in 2015. Published by Egmont it is a stunning YA debut about a life in cult. PAPER BUTTERFLIES is her beautiful and heart-breaking second novel. FLIGHT OF A STARLING, her third novel is equally heart-breaking and contains an important message.

Lisa lives in Brighton with her family.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter – @LisaHeathfield


Previously On Tales….

You can find previous Lisa Heathfield related posts on Tales by clicking on the below links!

Tales Review – Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Tales Q&A with Lisa Heathfield

Cover Reveal – Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Tales Review – Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Electric Monkey myself and YA Shot 2 sets of Lisa’s books to giveaway to two lucky winners!

You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 04/04/2018

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

Make sure you follow the rest of the fab YA Shot 2018 Blog Tour!


A huge thank you to Lisa for such a fab post and for asking me to join in and to Electric Monkey for the giveaway.  Also a huge thank you to YA Shot for having me and for pairing me with Lisa.

Have you read any of Lisa’s books?  Are you intrigued? Are you going to YA Shot?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

Guest Post – Our Fantasy Coven by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr


Today I am excited to be part of The Witch’s Blood Blog Tour to celebrate the third and final book in the trilogy!

The Witch’s Blood by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr was released on the 8th March 2018 published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is a must for any fantasy fan!

Today Katharine & Elizabeth are talking about their fantasy coven in this fab guest post…


Just who can you trust when no one around you is who they seem?

The final spell-binding book in THE WITCH’S KISS trilogy by authors and sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

Life as a teenage witch just got harder for Merry when her brother, Leo is captured and taken into an alternative reality by evil witch Ronan. Determined to get him back, Merry needs to use blood magic to outwit her arch-rival and get Leo back. Merry is more powerful than ever now, but she is also more dangerous and within the coven, loyalties are split on her use of the magic. In trying to save Leo, Merry will have to confront evil from her past and present and risk the lives of everyone she’s ever loved. Given the chaos she’s created, just what will she sacrifice to make things right?


Our Fantasy Coven

‘Being a witch meant becoming familiar with hundreds of years’ worth of spells and techniques and history. Merry understood the necessity, sort of. She had to be able to cast spells with the other witches so she could become a full member of the coven. Witchcraft was a team sport. Or at least it was supposed to be.’

Merry, our main character in The Witch’s Kiss trilogy, has a love/hate relationship with the coven that she (sort of) belongs to. Excluded initially because her mum refuses to let her practise magic, Merry starts training to join the coven in The Witch’s Tears, but she chafes against the rules and restrictions. And the other coven members aren’t entirely comfortable being around Merry either, especially as her power grows. Still, the coven has an important part to play, for good or ill (no, we’re not going to tell you which!) before the end of The Witch’s Blood. We rather like the idea of having a bunch of powerful witch friends to hang out with, so we’ve decided to put together our own Fantasy Coven (limited to eleven witches, because it’s the closest we’re likely to get to picking a fantasy football team).

Granny Weatherwax (The Discworld books, Terry Pratchett)

One of our favourite Discworld characters, illustrated here by Paul Kidby. Granny Weatherwax is wise, really powerful, sharp as a scalpel, and always does the right thing. Not necessarily the nice thing, mind you. She would be brilliant as our coven leader and would have no trouble keeping the more morally ambiguous members in line.

Nanny Ogg (The Discworld books)

The brown sauce to Granny’s bacon sandwich. Nanny would be the one to keep an eye on the coven’s younger members, and she’d be sure to supply plenty of interesting ‘refreshments’ for those late-night coven meetings.

Maleficent

We’re plumping for the Angelina Jolie version here because a) she’s much nicer than in the Disney cartoon, b) she has cheekbones to die for and c) has wings. Super useful for when your broomstick breaks down.

Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter books, JK Rowling)

As the brightest witch in her generation (or probably almost any generation, let’s face it), we think Hermione would get on really well with Granny Weatherwax. Plus, we’d really like
to see Hermione as part of a team of powerful witches without any of those annoying (and, let’s face it, less talented) wizards hanging around.

Merry Cooper (The Witch’s Kiss trilogy)

Merry doesn’t have Hermione’s application and love of studying, but she is really powerful and she’s determined to take care of the people she loves. Definitely someone we’d like on our side.

Meg (from Meg & Mog, Helen Nicoll/Jan Pieńkowski)


Meg’s spells don’t always go to plan, but we’d still love to have her in the coven: for starters we’d get to pet Mog, which we’d love as we’re both cat people. Plus Meg has all the traditional witchy paraphernalia: cauldron, broomstick, black boots, black dress and pointy black hat. The quintessential witch.

Willow (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Super loyal, bookish and fun to hang out with, we think Merry and Willow would get on like a house on fire. Both witches are extremely powerful and at times find if difficult to exercise due restraint: but ultimately both seek to use their power to protect the ones they love. And you can’t blame them for that. Also, being in a coven might help Willow stay on the right side of the line when it came to magic; she has been known to dabble in some very dark spells…

Glinda the good witch (from The Wizard of Oz, L Frank Baum)


Glinda’s outfit choice literally makes pink the new black. We’d like our coven to be as blinged up as possible: sparkly ballgowns and jewel-studded broomsticks all the way. No sneaking around secretly for us! Also, unlike some of the other witches in our coven, Glinda has impeccable manners. She’d be useful when diplomacy is required.

Sally and Gillian Owens (Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman)

Confession time: we haven’t yet read the book on which the Sandra Bullock/Nicole Kidman film is based. Still, from the film version, we think these highly talented siblings would be good coven members: just like Merry and Leo, they’re absolutely devoted to one another, working best as a team. Plus, they have fabulous hair, a keen fashion sense and would certainly – along with Glinda – inject some much-needed glamour into the coven. Not a wart in sight.

Arianwyn (The Apprentice Witch, James Nicol)

Arianwyn is a little bit like Mildred Hubble: she gets off to a slow start, magically speaking. Failing her witch’s assessment, she’s sent off to the remote village of Lull to start life as an apprentice, somewhat in disgrace. However, just like Mildred, there’s much more to this resilient and courageous young witch than meets the eye. Not only is she fiercely loyal, considerate and kind, it turns out she’s way more powerful than anyone realised. All in all, she’s a real sweetie – the sort of witch who would definitely have your back.

Witches we definitely WON’T be letting into the coven: Jadis (aka the White Witch from the Narnia books by CS Lewis), Nancy Downs (The Craft) and Bellatrix le Strange (Harry Potter). We just don’t think any of them are really team players… But what do you think? Who would be in your fantasy coven?

Thank you so much to Michelle for being one of our blog tour hosts!

You can buy a copy of The Witch’s Blood here or from your local bookshop!


About Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

We are sisters and best friends (try writing a book with someone else and you’ll see why that last bit is kind of important). After spending our childhood in Essex, we now live ten minutes away from each other in Surrey. We both studied history at university and went to work in London for a bit. Then we stopped working to raise families, because somehow we missed the memo explaining that children are far more demanding than clients or bosses. When we both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious we should do it together.

Stuff Katharine likes: playing instruments badly; dead languages; LOTR; loud pop concerts; Jane Austen; Neill Gaiman; Loki; the Surrey Hills. Killing off characters.

Stuff Elizabeth likes: sketching, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cinema, long baths, kitchen discos, Terry Pratchett, Thor, London. Saving characters.

Stuff we both like: YA / non-YA fantasy and science fiction,Star Wars, Star Trek, each other (most of the time).

You can find out more about Katharine and Elizabeth on their website – www.corrsisters.com

Or why not follow them on twitter – @katharinecorr and @lizcorr_writes


Previously on Tales….

You can catch previous posts by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr by clicking on the below links…

Our Favourite Literary Curses

Our Favourite Magical Moments In Literature


Blog Tour

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


A huge huge thank you to Katharine and Elizabeth for such a superb guest post and for being so lovely to invite me onto the blog tour!  Also a huge thank you to Jess at Harper Collins for having me and sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read any of The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy?  What did you think?  Who would be in your coven?  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 – How I Found Baver and Angel by Amy Wilson


Following on from the fly away success of her debut novel, A Girl Called Owl last year I am honoured to have the magical Amy Wilson on Tales today to celebrate the release of her second YA books A Far Away Magic.

A Far Away Magic was released on the 25th January 2018 published by the lovely Macmillan Children’s Books and is set to whisk you off your feet.

Today Amy is chatting about her characters Angel and Bavar and how they came to be in this fab guest post….


When Angel moves to a new school after the death of her parents, she isn’t interested in making friends. Until she meets Bavar – a strange boy, tall, awkward and desperate to remain unseen, but who seems to have a kind of magic about him. Everyone and everything within Bavar’s enchanted house is urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift through which monsters are travelling, the same monsters that killed Angel’s parents.

But Bavar doesn’t want to follow the path that’s been chosen for him – he wants to be normal; to disappear. Fighting one another as well as their fears, Angel and Bavar must find a way to repair the rift between the worlds, and themselves, before it’s too late . . .


How I Found Baver and Angel

The first thing I knew about A Far Away Magic was that it had Bavar in it. He’d been in my mind for years, ever since I’d seen the tall, stooped figure of a boy leaving my local secondary school, alone and hiding behind his hair.

The second thing I knew was that Bavar lived in a huge old creepy house, where ancestors called his name from the walls. There was an aunt, Aoife, and an Uncle Sal, and there was magic.

Bavar and I had quite a few starts together before we found the right story. In my very first attempt, his words came to life around him, letters floating like little clouds everywhere he went. I kind of liked that idea, but it didn’t lead me anywhere. So we were stuck. He just mooched around in my head, for a long time, while I became increasingly interested in how we see others, how we perhaps think we know a person, solely based on how they look, the way they walk and talk, and how many of us carry our scars and differences on the inside.

That, I think, is how Angel came about. She looked like a perfectly normal girl, but she’d been through something that made her as different as Bavar, only instead of that being an external thing, it was internal. From the outside, they might look like Beauty and the Beast, but in fact they are both beautiful, and both beast. It’s when they come together that they begin to sort that out for themselves; to challenge the monsters, and the world’s perception of them.

As soon as Angel came in with her own dark backstory, Bavar and I were moving. She brought the fight, and the desire for change, and she gave Bavar a reason to do the same, and she brought the fight to me too; I had to find a way to make it all okay for them – at the very least, for them to be okay with them.

You can buy a copy of A Far Away Magic here or from your local bookshop


About Amy Wilson

This is me, with my cat Ivy on my shoulder (!) and with my headphones on, mid-writing. I quite often write with music playing, and I wear my headphones even if the sound is off, because it blocks out some of the background noise and helps me to feel like I’m in my own world.

I spend a lot of my time at home writing and looking after various animals and children. I’ve always loved to write, and I feel very lucky that now, after quite a few years of bashing away, it is my job.

I have a background in journalism and live in Bristol. I’m a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing. A Girl Called Owl was my first novel, my second, A Far Away Magic, is out now, and I’m now working on my third!

You can find out more about Amy on her website – www.amywilsonbooks.com

Or why not follow Amy on twitter – @AJ_Wils


A huge thank you to Amy for such a fab post and insight into her characters.  Also a huge thank you to Jo at Macmillan Children’s Books for asking me to host.

Have you read A Far Away Magic?  Are you intrigued?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

Guest Post – Inspiration by Emma Craigie


Today is my stop on the fab #YAShot2018 Blog Tour and I have been paired with the wonderful Emma Craigie! YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country.

So for our stop I wanted to get to know Emma and her books a little more and to find out a little about her inspiration….


The cutter came last night. I recognized her: her black clothes, her narrow face and the yellow whites of her eyes. 15-year-old Zahra has lived in England most of her life, but she is haunted by memories of her early childhood: the warm sun and loud gunfire, playing with her older sister in the time before “the visitors” came. It is hard to make sense of everything that happened, and it feels impossible to talk about, but when three eerily familiar women arrive unexpectedly for tea Zahra realises that the dangers of the past could still destroy her. What Was Never Said is the powerful story of a girl navigating the demands of two very different and conflicting worlds; a tale of surviving loss and overcoming fears.

Helga’s childhood as the eldest of five children in Germany’s First Family has been a gilded one, accompanying her parents to parties and rallies, moving between the city and their idyllic country estate. But the war has changed everything. And now, as defeat closes in on the Germans, Helga must move into a bunker in the heart of Berlin with her family and key members of the crumbling Nazi leadership – to be with their beloved Hitler. There is chocolate cake for tea every day with Uncle Leader, but Helga cannot help noticing that all is not well among the grown-ups. As each day passes, her underground world becomes increasingly tense and strange. There are tears and shouting behind slammed doors, and when even the soldiers who have been guarding them take their leave, Helga is faced with a terrible truth. Perhaps her perfect childhood has not been all that it seemed…


Inspiration

What Was Never Said is the story of a teenage girl who has to confront a painful past in order to protect herself and her younger sister.   Zahra and her family have come to England to escape war, but there are secrets in the family, and as her parents’ plans become clear, Zahra realises her new life is no longer safe.

The idea for What Was Never Said came into my head on a Saturday morning in July in 2012.  I was sitting in a huge auditorium in Bristol University when a skinny boy stepped across the stage in front of a long row of adults – health and legal experts from across the world – and came to the front holding a hand mic.  The hall fell silent as he began to speak:

You don’t understand how weird it is to be standing here as a MAN, yes, not a boy, a man, from my community, talking about Female Genital Mutilation.  Believe me, Somali men never talk about womens bits, even amongst themselves.

The audience laughed uncomfortably.   I squirmed inwardly.  I had met this boy a couple of times. His name was Mukhtar Hassan, he was 14 years old and a member of Integrate Bristol –http://integrateuk.org/ –  a group which facilitates campaigns by young people.  Integrate had organised this conference,  the first ever international conference about Female Genital Mutilation, and my immediate feeling was that they had got it wrong.  Muhktar’s words were embarrassingly slangy.  “Bits” made me cringe –  not a word, I felt, which should be spoken in such a formal setting.   I held my breath, hoping things would get better.

I had met Muhktar, his older sister Muna, and the other young members of Integrate when I was doing research for a novel about a group of young friends from different religious backgrounds.    Like many young people in East Bristol they came from a Muslim Somali background – a community where FGM is still often practised.   I was really interested in the boldness and clarity of their campaign.   I didn’t know much about FGM but I soon learnt from them.  FGM is defined as non-medical surgery on the female genitalia. There are a number of different types, all of which cause tremendous pain, bring a risk of infertility and death, and deprive women of sexual enjoyment.   FGM has been carried out in some parts of the world for thousands of years, and is estimated that there are over 200 million women and girls alive today who have undergone some form of it.  It  The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 3 million girls at risk of FGM every year.   These young people were – are – determined to end it and had brought together international experts to determine how that could be done.

Muhktar continued on the failure of Somali men to talk about ‘women’s bits”:

… perhaps thats the problem.  Too many people have been quiet for too long.  But the point is IF FGM is to stop, and it HAS to stop, then everybody, regardless of gender or race, has to take a stand.  I stand here as a brother, a cousin, a son, and a future father… hopefully.  I also stand here as a friend and a human being.

I breathed out. The audience applauded loudly.  Muhktar had not got it wrong.  He had got it completely right.  He had made us uncomfortable and challenged us to overcome that discomfort.   Up to this point, I thought, like many people, that FGM was a bad thing, but that it was not my problem.   Muhktar changed my perspective.   If a 14 year old boy could stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk about “women’s bits” , I could stand up too.   Suddenly the centre of my novel shifted.   I had found the story which I needed to tell.

Chocolate Cake with Hitler is a novel which tells the true story of the children of the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Chocolate Cake With Hitler also started with a sudden realisation.    I had long known that at the end of World War 2 Hitler hid in an underground bunker.  I remember picturing it when I was a child, imagining Hitler lying flat in some kind of coffin shaped rabbit hole, hiding from his advancing enemies.   It must have been shortly afterwards that I heard of the fact that Eva Braun, his wife, was with him, as I can remember trying to squeeze her into this imagined bunker.   But it was much later,  long after I understood that the bunker was a concrete network of rooms, full of soldiers and secretaries, and cooks and nurses and doctors, that I learnt that there were six children down in the bunker with him.  And when I realised this, I couldn’t believe it was so little known that there had, at that point, never been a book about them.

There were five girls and one boy, aged between 4 and 12.  The children of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda.   10 days before Germany surrendered, they had decided to show their loyalty to the Fuhrer by joining him underground in Berlin.  They knew the defeat of Germany was inevitable – but that was not what they told the children.   They pretended that they were joining their leader so that they would be with him for the imminent victory celebrations.

I started reading every account I could find of Hitler’s bunker.  The children rarely got a mention.  The person who gave them most attention in her account of her days in the bunker was one of Hitler’s secretaries, Traudl Junge.   There was a particular paragraph in her memoir, Until the Final Hour, that haunted me, and was the inspiration for telling the story of the Goebbels children from the perspective of 12 year old Helga.

Junge wrote that during their time in the bunker the children were on the whole “happy and cheerful…”  They spent their time playing in the bunker corridors and once a day drank hot chocolate and ate chocolate cake with Hitler, often singing German folk songs to him.  Junge tells us, “They knew nothing of the fate awaiting them, and the adults did all they could to keep them unaware of it… Only the oldest, Helga, sometimes had a sad knowing expression in her big, brown eyes… Sometimes I think with horror that in her heart the child saw through the pretence of the grown-ups.”

I was the oldest of five children, and I remember being 12.  It was an odd age – my younger brothers and sisters suddenly seemed very childish, but my parents and their friends were no more interesting to me.  I could hardly bear to imagine a world in which the parents were planning to kill you, and none of your siblings had any idea.   But then I couldn’t bear not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of Emma’s books here or from your local book shop!

Chocolate Cake With Hitler was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and the Financial Times / Authors Club First Novel Award.

What Was Never Said was also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and is a White Raven Book.  http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens 


About Emma Craigie

Emma Craigie is a writer and teacher.  She lives in Somerset.

Her most recent novel, What Was Never Said, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 and selected for the White Ravens Catalogue .

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

Or why not follow Emma on twitter – @craigieemma


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Short Books myself and YA Shot have a copy of each book to giveaway to one lucky winner!


 

 

 

 

 

 

You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 10/03/2018

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

Make sure you follow the rest of the fab YA Shot 2018 Blog Tour!


A huge thank you to Emma for such a fab post which has made me super intrigued to go and grab these books and to Short Books for the giveaway.  Also a huge thank you to YA Shot for having me and for pairing me with Emma.

Have you read any of Emma’s books?  Are you intrigued? Are you going to YA Shot?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

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