Tag Archives: Usborne

Spotlight – Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt


Today is my stop on the wonderful blog tour celebrating the release of Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt!

Theatrical was released on the 28th June 2018 published by Usborne and is set to warm your heart and remind you of the magic of the theatre.

With this in mind as part of my stop I wanted to share a few of the shows that made me fall in love with the theatre…..

Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.

This was one of the first ever Theatre performances I went to as an angsty teenager who was heavily into grunge and rock and black eyeliner (still am) ….. and it broke my heart into tiny pieces!  It has stayed with me ever since and even listening to the music causes me to breakdown into tears!  I was lucky enough to see it again a few years ago in London and I didn’t even make it past the 2nd song before having something in my eye.  It’s a remarkable piece of theatre.

Me and the hubby booked to see this whilst we were on our honeymoon in London (we basically booked a show a night for 10 days) and it blew us away.  I will be honest we didn’t know too much about it before we booked but had heard good things and wow were they right!  I will never forget having my breathe taken away from me when hearing Defining Gravity live …amazing!  We have been trying to go back and see it ever since but we haven’t got there yet!  But soon we hope!

Another theatre trip where we didn’t really know what to expect, but the production of this was fantastic!  The music was catchy and there were some super funny and touching moments!  We loved it and wished we had been to see it again!

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

About Maggie Harcourt

Maggie Harcourt was born and raised in Wales, where she grew up telling stories. She now lives just outside Bath, and was inspired her to write Theatrical whilst attending the Theatre Production Course at the Theatre Royal Bath.

You can follow Maggie on:


Twitter: @maggieharcourt

Instagram: @maggieharcourt

Blog Tour

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

A huge thank you to Stevie at Usborne for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read Theatrical?  What did you think?  What are your favourite #Theatrical moments?  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 – Female Hero – Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn by Matt Killeen

A month or so ago I received an intriguing email about a new debut book, Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen.

Orphan Monster Spy is due to be released on the 8th March 2018 and is set to be “deeply disturbing and chillingly good”

Today is my stop on a fantastic blog tour for this book where Matt has been sharing some of his female hero’s…..

A teenage spy. A Nazi boarding school. The performance of a lifetime.

Sarah has played many roles – but now she faces her most challenging of all. Because there’s only one way for a Jewish orphan spy to survive at a school for the Nazi elite. And that’s to become a monster like them.

Survive. Deceive. Resist.

They think she is just a little girl. But she is the weapon they never saw coming… with a mission to destroy them all.

Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn

I struggle sometimes with fantasy – which I can love – on two counts. Firstly, and I’m looking at you video games, it has a preoccupation with anatomically dubious breast sizes and a minimalist attitude to female armour. By that I mean, fetish underwear as battle equipment. It’s not just that its offensive objectification which plays to some preoccupations that should have been left behind in adolescence, which it is. It’s also dumb. It’s impractical. Instant narrative dissonance. Caitlin Moran’s one question to identify sexism applies here: would the blokes put up with this?

Secondly and given its almost infinite possibilities, some fantasy (or sword & sorcery) tends to come with a set of tired tropes, themes and races established by J.R.R. Tolkein nearly 70 years ago. To the extent that I came out of The Fellowship of the Ring complaining that it was “too-Tolkeinesque”. I think my addled brain was attempting to articulate that decades of homages, re-treads and knock-offs had taken some of the lustre off the real thing.

I did love the movie, but at that point the jury was still out. That was because the character I was waiting for didn’t appear until the second film and her defining moment wouldn’t happen until the third, several years away. Only then could I judge the series. Would Peter Jackson – director of Meet the Feebles – get it right? Not for me, but for everyone?

Now Tolkein didn’t so much do women badly, as kind of ignore them altogether – bypassing the breast and underwear issue, I suppose. I could spend many thousands of words bitching about that, but he did create Éowyn daughter of Théodwyn, and for large parts of the book that did not suck.

I had fallen in love with Éowyn the way any straight boy of seven would have, from the minute that The Lord of the Rings was read to me (…and thanks big brother for one of the greatest gifts anyone has given anyone). She was brave and brilliant and her disobedience resulted in her being in the right place at the right time, so no one would tell her off. She was the kind of woman that made my little chest heave. So, given that, my inner-child may not be an impartial feminist on this.

Yes, she didn’t want to be a woman and wear pink, and yes that’s a cliché with its own problems, but Éowyn’s Moment of Awesome is dependent on her true nature. And boy, is her Moment of Awesome truly awesome, maybe the greatest single moment of any character ever in the realm of hitting things with bits of metal.

It is a pivotal moment in the whole trilogy. The arrival of the Witch-King of Angmar to stop the charge of the Rohirrim is a game changer. So monstrous is his presence that everybody runs. Nobody can go near him, let alone face him down. Everything hinges on this one moment. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is basically lost at this point, long before Aragorn can get there with his ghost friends. Minas Tirith falls, there’s no march to the Black Gate, no distraction to empty Mordor, Frodo is captured and Middle-earth falls under an eternity of darkness.

But someone does face him down. One woman (and a hobbit, naturally) stands in front of her uncle’s body and dares the Lord of the Nazgûl to come through her to get him. After a lifetime being side-lined by the patriarchy, squaring up to an unspeakable horror clearly didn’t seem that much more difficult by comparison. She kills the big pterodactyl thing, she gets her arm shattered blocking his giant mace, yet still has the wherewithal to spot the flaw in his overconfidence…yes, no man can harm him, but she isn’t one. It’s a beautiful moment. With the last of her strength, she uses Merry’s distraction to drive her sword into his giant Ringwraith face.

Yes, there’s that horrible now-I’m-in-love-I-can-stop-being-myself thing with Faramir, but I kind of edited that out myself. It made far more sense to even the seven-year-old me that Éowyn could surrender her sword because, a) she was probably a little tired from all the Nazgûl slaying, b) there wasn’t anyone left to fight, and c) she was now a famous ultimate badass that people would sing songs about for all time. You know, some resolution and peace of mind on her own terms. Being a bit down before that was understandable, and it was probably PTSD brought on by a sudden life-threatening trauma or the spectre of worldwide destruction. In fact, if the chance of a snog and a future free from fear of enslavement by evil eldritch powers helped her get over that, she should be congratulated for her resilience.

In the peerless 1981 BBC Radio 4 dramatization Éowyn’s moment was lost in a cacophony of screams, grunts and sound effects so I’d waited two decades to see it come to life. I wasn’t disappointed. Miranda Otto plays Éowyn to perfection.

She doesn’t “fall in love” with Aragorn, not really. She just feels the natural leader he is, the opportunities he represents and yearns to follow him, like everyone else, male or female. And when the time comes, she and Jackson got that bravery is not the absence of fear. In fact Éowyn looks absolutely terrified every second of the encounter. Amongst all the grizzled detachment elsewhere, it makes it the standout confrontation in the trilogy. The exception to all that distress is that great epiphany. I am no man. No, she knows she’s better than that, she is the very thing she felt held her back all this time. It turns out she is good enough and had been all along. She smiles and SMITES him.

You can buy a copy of Orphan Monster Spy here or from your local bookshop

About Matt Killeen

Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham and, like many of his generation, was absorbed by tales of the war and obsessed with football from an early age. Guitars arrived at fourteen, wrecking any hopes of so-called normality.

He has had a great many careers – some creative, some involving laser guns – and has made a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He fulfilled a childhood ambition and became a writer for the world’s best-loved toy company in 2010.

He lives near London with his soulmate, children, dog and musical instruments, looking wistfully north at a hometown that has been largely demolished & rebuilt in his lengthy absence.

Orphan Monster Spy is his first novel.

You can follow Matt on twitter – @by_Matt_Killeen

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 Fritha at Usborne for sending me this fab book and for asking me to be part of the Blog Tour and to Matt for such a fab post!

Have you read Orphan Monster Spy?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist by Linni Ingemundsen


I’ve heard so many great things about The Unpredictability Of Being Human that I am super happy to be featuring Linni Ingemundsen on Tales today with a brilliant guest post!

The Unpredictability Of Being Human was released on the 1st January 2018 published by the lovelies at Usborne and is a brilliant YA Contemporary.

Today Linni has stopped by to share The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist…..so turn the music upload and enjoy….

If 14-year-old Malin was God for a day, she wouldn’t change much. Dad would still yell; her brother Sigve would still get in trouble, and Mom would still think wine is good for the heart. She’d still be friends with Hanna, even if they met shoplifting. Because stuff’s okay, mostly. And if He could fix the world, wouldn’t God have done it already?

The Unpredictability Of Being Human Playlist

The Unpredictability of Being Human introduces its reader to a small town community in Norway filled with pain, humour and a whole lot of nothingness. Fourteen year old Malin describes the ups and downs of life and the struggles of being a teenager and fitting in. At the same time she watches family drama play out and buried secrets unfold.

I often listen to music when I write and below I’ve put together a playlist connected to the book. Side A are songs that I listened to when writing it while side B are songs that in one way or another remind me of the story.

Side A

Savoir Adore – Mountains

I came across this song while checking out the “Discover Weekly” feature on Spotify and it has been on my “writing” playlist ever since.

Jesse Ruben –  This Is Why I Need You

I sometimes find it hard to focus on writing if I know the lyrics of a song too well. This is one of the songs I have listened to on repeat so many times that I can no longer write to it.

Allman Brown Ft. Liz Lawrence– Sons and Daughters

The vocals comes together so beautifully and so effortless. The perfect writing song in many ways.

Snowmine –  Tidal Wave

This popped up randomly when listening to the radio on Spotify and I was so into the writing that I didn’t really catch the song properly. Later I found myself playing the chorus over and over in my head and it took me ages to find it again.

Needtobreathe –  Happiness

About homesick hearts and other things. No matter where I am, I’m always missing somewhere or someone. And I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Side B

Walk Off the Earth –  Little Boxes

Haasund is a small town where you’ll do best if you blend in. This  song captures the feeling of living in a small town where individuality is not always welcomed.

Joshua Radin –  We Are Okay

At some point Malin realizes that sometimes feeling okay is enough. I mean it is better than bad after all. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

Firekid – Boomerang

In the book several friendships are gained and lost. This song is about losing someone and hoping they will come back like a boomerang. That doesn’t sound like life to me, but I guess one can always hope.

The Lumineers –  Ophelia

The love letter in this song pretty much sums up the letter Malin wrote but never sent which was “Dear Ruben, I like you.” I guess sometimes that is all you need to say.

Ane Brun Ft Madrugada –  Lift Me

Magnus thinks it is okay that he might not be able to find newest music for his record player. This is the song I imagine him  playing after coming across the vinyl Duets in a thrift store.

You can buy a copy of The Unpredictability Of Being Human here or from your local bookshop!

About Linni Ingemundsen

Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway and currently works in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow also a freelance cartoonist. Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the southwestern coast of Norway. Linni began writing her debut novel while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing.

You can follow Linni on twitter – @Llngemundsen

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

Have you read The Unpredictability Of Being Human?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Art Of Survival In A Dinosaur YA Book by S M Wilson

Today I am roaring with excitement to have the awesome S M Wilson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her debut YA, The Extinction Trials.

The Extinction Trials was released on the 28th December 2017 published by the wonderful Usborne and I’ve heard if you are a fan of dinosaurs then this is the book for you!

So today S M Wilson tells us all about the art of survival in a dinosaur book…..lets jump straight in!


Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games in this epic new series.

The Art of Survival in a Dinosaur YA book……

otherwise known as picking your favourite dinosaur to eat someone and losing characters along the way….

We’ve all settled down to watch the next episode of Star Trek and noticed the previously unseen Ensign sitting at the front of the Enterprise.  Any Star Trek fan at this point sighs and says “Well, they’re going to die!”  And within five minutes, they generally do.

That’s also the trouble with writing a book that spends a long time on a continent filled with deadly dinosaurs.  There have to be some spare characters to lose along the way.  So how do you decide?

Here’s the thing.  I hadn’t really.  I didn’t start this book knowing who was going to come to a grim end beforehand.  Things tended to happen…spontaneously.  As did the dinosaur killings.  They were mainly motivated by the landscape around them and the fact I wanted a few surprises in the stories.

Storm and Lincoln were always my main characters, but that doesn’t guarantee survival.  I also have a group of three friends, a stranger, and a whole host of other finalists who end up on the dinosaur continent.  And every story needs a bad guy.  A Darth Vader.  Mine is called Reban Don.  But why have one bad guy when you can have two?  Enter Galen.  Bad guy number two.  But as you automatically eliminate one of these from your mind, just remember, where’s the fun in killing the bad guy?  Isn’t it more fun keeping him alive and a constant threat?

You have no idea how much pleasure I took in flicking through a dinosaur encyclopaedia thinking, ‘Okay, who can eat…..’

It would probably surprise you how much we don’t actually know about the dinosaurs we’ve discovered.  Scientists have looked at bones and stomach contents and came to some conclusions.  But do we really know how clever they were?  How they hunted?  How they lived?  There are really so many unanswered questions.  Since I started writing Extinction Trials I’ve found so much speculation and differing opinions online.  T-rexess had feathers.  The discovery in South Korea – is it an Ultrasaurus or a Supersaurus? Did newborn pterosaurs actually walk instead of fly?

For me as an author it means I can have a little leeway when I write.  Here’s a spoiler.  My pterosaurs  might attack humans at one point.  Do we have any evidence of this?  Well no.  Pterosaurs and humans didn’t exist at the same time on Earth, but on my Earth?  Well, anything can happen – and usually does.

So hold on to your hat – or your stomach – when you read Extinction Trials and just remember that no character is safe………………

You can buy a copy of The Extinction Trials here or from your local bookshop!

About S M Wilson

Susan Wilson lives on the west coast of Scotland with her fiancé and two sons. She’s worked in the NHS for 25 years – her day job is as a nurse in public health – her dream job is writing fiction. Her love of YA fiction started as a teenager and has never stopped. The Extinction Trials was written for her two sons to try and infect them with the same love of reading that she has. Watch out – she’s hoping it’s contagious!

​You can find out more on her website – www.susan-wilson.com

Susan also writes romance as Scarlet Wilson. She’s written over 30 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Tule Publishing and Entangled Publishing. She’s also been a double Rita Finalist for RWA and been nominated for the RoNA Rose award five times, winning it in 2017. You can also find her here

You can find out more on her website – www.scarlet-wilson.com

You can also follow S M Wilson on twitter – @susanwilsonbook

Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to S M Wilson for such a fab guest post and to Stevie at Usborne for asking me to host and be part of the blog tour.

As you’ll see from the graphic above, the tour ends on Sunday evening on #SundayYA. Susan will be a guest during the chat, and will *DRUM ROLL*, officially reveal the title and the cover for book 2.

Usborne will then be sending out the January Usborne YA newsletter the following week with an exclusive chapter extract from book 2, and another chance to win a signed copy. Firstly, if you’re not signed up to the newsletter – do it! It’s a fun one, and the host competitions all the time.


Have you read The Extinction Trials?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!




Guest Post – Meet Tamsin Winter by Tamsin Winter

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

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

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

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

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

… I am Miss Nobody.

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

Is Miss Nobody becoming a bully herself?

Read the first chapter online now.

Meet Tamsin Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Tamsin Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also follow Tamsin on Twitter at @MsWinterTweets

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

Have you read Being Miss Nobody?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A With Faye Bird

WICTY Banner2

I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this thrilling thriller of a book, What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird.

What I Couldn’t Tell You was released on the 1st May 2016 published in by Usborne Publishing and is a fab thriller.

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers for having me on this wonderful tour and to Anne Finnis for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.

For my stop on the blog tour I have had the chance to put some questions to the lovely Faye Bird!

WICTY Front Cover

When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…

Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her?

Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night.

Hi Faye.  Thank you for being here today!  I’m so thrilled to have you here!  What I Couldn’t Tell You sounds amazing and I cannot wait to read it!

Can you tell us a little about What I Couldn’t Tell You?

 The book opens with a crime; Tessie’s sister, Laura, is attacked, and now she’s lying in a coma and no one knows what happened to her. Tessie, Laura’s sister, picks up the story. Tessie has SM – she is Selectively Mute – she doesn’t speak in certain situations, but she can observe, she can listen and it seems she might be the only one who can piece together what happened to Laura.

Can you tell us a little bit about Laura’s sister Tessie?

 Tessie is just like you or I, but she suffers with SM. SM is a social anxiety disorder that prevents children speaking in certain situations, such as in school or in public. Selective Mutism is sometimes called Situational Mutism. As with others with SM, Tessie does not have any speech or language problems, and she can speak freely and at ease at home when she is with the people closest to her. If you are interested in finding out more about SM the charity SMIRA’s website is a good place to start www.smira.org.uk

What kind of research went into the writing What I Couldn’t Tell You?

I knew I wanted to write about SM after hearing a young woman who had suffered with it in the past speaking on the radio talking about her experiences. I loved the idea that giving a character with SM a first person narrative effectively gave that character a voice they wouldn’t otherwise have. But I needed to do a good deal of research. I hadn’t heard of SM before, and as it turned out all my assumptions about what SM was and what caused it were wrong. Research involved reading key texts on SM, mainly written by speech and language therapists, and meeting those who had a direct experience of SM. Once I started writing I didn’t seek out new research because at that point I felt I had all I needed to simply forge ahead with my imagination and write the story.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in What I Couldn’t Tell You or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

 I guess I can see myself a little in Tessie. I felt an affinity with her, even though I haven’t ever suffered with SM or had any direct experience of it. I think that’s because there have been times in my life when I perhaps haven’t been able to say the things I’ve really wanted to say. I found the emotional tension between what Tessie thinks and feels and what she can or cannot say a rich ground for writing prose; it inspired me. I’m not sure whether that’s because of my own experiences or not, but I suspect it had something to do with it!

 We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Faye Bird?

My first job was in a toyshop called Frog Hollow. I served lots of famous people there. Prince William and Prince Harry used to come in with their pocket money.

I love cats but have always been scared of dogs ever since one chased me and I had to jump on the bonnet of a neighbour’s car to escape.

After I graduated I went to America and worked in a rollercoaster theme park in Ohio. I served pizzas and chilli dogs and Mountain Dew.

 When I was little I used to spend hours and hours jumping off the stairs in the belief that one day I would take off and fly.

I aspire to having a writing shed in my garden that I can escape to and write!

Can you tell us a little about your other books?


 My first book, My Second Life, is about a girl called Ana who has lived before. She’s always known she’s lived before and it’s been something that she’s always accepted about herself, until one day she sees someone she recognises from her first life and she suddenly becomes plagued by memories of a girl, Catherine, lying dead in the water. And with those memories comes strong feelings of guilt and responsibility, and suddenly Ana isn’t sure of who she is at all any more. Is she Ana, the good person she thought she knew herself to be, or is she someone who killed a person in her first life? And so her quest begins to find out the truth of what it is she has done.

Which of your characters from any of your books would you most like to spend the day with?

 I think I’d like to spend the day with Ana in My Second Life. I’d like to ask her all sorts of questions about her two lives!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. You Against Me by Jenny Downham and on my iPad I’m reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.










Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot the story out first, or dive right in and see where it takes you (or a bit of both)?

 With My Second Life, I didn’t really plot at all. I had key scenes that I always knew I was writing to in my head – like Ana meeting her Mum from her first life, and the final scene right at the end – but that was literally it!

With What I Couldn’t Tell You I knew I had to plot more, not least because of the demands of the crime story. I was also writing to deadline and couldn’t afford to write quite so many drafts as I ended up writing with My Second Life. I’m currently writing my third book now – I’m just at the first draft stage, 10,000 words or so in – and I’ve spent a good deal longer planning out the story than with either of my first two books. I think, just as with anything in life, I am learning with each new book how the process works best for me.

Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016?

 I’m going to continue getting the words down for the new book, which feels exciting, and I’m planning lots more school events. I love going into schools and meeting readers, so if anyone reading this is interested in me coming into their school then do get in touch!

WICTY Front Cover

You can buy a copy of this book here

Or why not add the book to your Goodreads here

About Faye Bird

faye bird

Faye writes fiction for young adults. Before becoming a writer she worked as a literary agent representing screenwriters in film and TV. She studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University, but has otherwise always lived in London, and still does now. Her second novel, What I Couldn’t Tell You, will be published on 1 May 2016.

You can find out more about Faye on her website: http://www.fayebirdauthor.com/

Or why not follow Faye on Twitter: @faye_bird

Blog Tour

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

WICTY Side Banner2

Monday 22nd August

The Book Moo

Powered by Reading

Tuesday 23rd August

YA Under My Skin

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

 Wednesday 24th August

Howling Reviews

Teens on Moon Lane

 Thursday 25th August

Laura’s Little Book Blog

Mia in Narnia

Friday 26th August

Another Teen Book Blog

Tales of Yesterday

Saturday 27th August

Wonderfully Bookish

Overflowing Library

Sunday 28th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Rachel Bustin


Monday 29th August

Bookish Outsider


 Tuesday 30th August

Luna’s Little Library

Serendipity Reviews

A huge huge thank you to Faye for answering all my questions and to Faye Rogers for organising!

Have you read any of the What I Couldn’t Tell You?  What did you think?   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 – Publishing Point Horror by Anne Finnis



Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

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

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

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

I know lots of people who hold Point Horror close to their hearts and one of those people is one of the people responsible for bringing Point Horror to the UK!

Therefore I have invited the lovely Anne Finnis to do a guest post for us all about publishing Point Horror, her love for all things Point Horror and being a part of British history !

It’s very exciting to have Anne here on Tales…I feel very honoured…and I have to admit this guest post is just fascinating and amazing!  Thank you so much Anne!

*Hands microphone to Anne and hugs*

Publishing Point Horror

Love it or hate it Point Horror was a publishing phenomenon in the 1990s and I am delighted to say I had a part in it. I now meet people who grew up devouring Point Horror and tell me how much it was a part of their teenage lives. It makes me feel privileged to have been involved, though it reminds me that I must be getting old!

In the late ‘80s I was a young, upstart editor working at Hippo Books, part of Scholastic UK in Covent Garden.

We were the UK publishing outpost of Scholastic Inc – a publishing giant in the US. The US publishing output was enormous. Hippo’s was tiny in comparison and we published an eclectic mix of fiction, non-fiction and some novelty/activity books.

Every month we received a box of the books being published by Scholastic Inc and we were encouraged to publish some of what the Americans were publishing. (Most big publishing corporations have a dream that we should all be publishing the same books around the world though it rarely works like that.)

Scholastic Inc was enjoying massive success with The Babysitter’s Club. After much deliberating we decided to give The Babysitter’s Club a try in the UK. We rejacketed the books with covers that we felt would work better for our market and very quickly we too had a big success on our hands.

At about this time we realised that in these boxes from the States there were some spooky, glamorous and slightly dangerous-looking titles published under the Scholastic Inc teenage imprint Point.

There was little or no horror being published in the UK for teen readers, but I’d spent my teenage years being scared witless by authors like Stephen King, Ira Levin and Dennis Wheatley. I was desperate to have a go at publishing horror for a teen audience – I knew it was what I would have devoured had it been available. So I read some of the titles in the US boxes – The Lifeguard, Trick or Treat, April Fools – and realised they were page-turning, deliciously scary and with characters and plots based in teenage lives, albeit remote, glamorous, American ones.

I’m not sure many of the titles ever really constituted a horror story in the true sense of the genre (I’m squeamish and not very good with hardcore horror) but they were great psychological thrillers with plotlines that messed with your head – and that, to my mind, is much more enthralling.

So, Gavin Lang, the sales director, and I decided to give some of these titles a go. However, the authors were unknown – even RL Stine at this point – and there were several different authors so we needed to find a way to get them taken on by booksellers and noticed by readers. Our first decision was that we couldn’t publish them as Hippo Books – the logo was fun, but it was a cartoon drawing of a hippo’s big bottom – how was that ever going to be cool and scary? We thought the imprint name Point was good, though ultimately meaningless, so we decided to borrow it from the States. We then wanted to identify to readers exactly what these books were about. Point Psychological Thrillers was a mouthful. Point Horror told the reader what kind of story they were getting (or at least close enough) so we settled on that.

The American covers were bright, bold and stood out from the crowd. If we liked a particular cover image we used it. If not, our designer, Alison Gadsby, commissioned a new piece of artwork. She also devised the Point Horror logo and we agreed to pay for the cost of adding foil and/or a fifth colour to the lettering to make the titles really zing. At this time adult publishers were spending money on such lavish embellishments for their covers, but covers for kids’ books were generally very restrained.

We decided to launch with two titles – and here I become hazy. I think we launched in March 1991 with Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick and Beach Party by RL Stine (April Fools was an early one too). We planned to publish a new book every other month, but we realised after the third or fourth title that sales were escalating and there was a growing demand for Point Horror. Because the US had been publishing these thrillers for a while there was a crop of titles which we could cherry pick from. We were therefore able to speed up publication and satisfy a growing appetite for the books.

Trick or Treat

At first some booksellers and librarians said to us “Point Horror?  What is that? What does it mean?” But readers quickly got it. And we achieved what we’d been hoping for – booksellers began to display all the books together as Point Horror titles rather than by author name. It had been our biggest fear that the books would be stocked conventionally by the author’s surname, meaning the books would get dispersed across the alphabet and lost on the shelves. Soon most booksellers had a Point Horror section which looked significantly different from the majority of other books being published for teens at the time. (Hodder was publishing Christopher Pike, but apart from Hodder and us there was no one else in this market.)

There was a lot of resistance. Not everyone was keen – the books were trite, too scary, not good for children – all of those things. But Point Horror was getting kids excited about books. They were being swapped in the playground; readers were looking out for the next title. They were getting non-readers to read. What can be wrong with that?

By the end of 1991 we had a phenomenon going that lasted throughout the 1990s.

As the success of Point Horror grew British authors began asking if they could get involved. However, the stories were distinctly American and all of them no matter how scary had that American gloss, shine and accessibility that sets a lot of American writing apart from British (a vast generalisation I know).

By now we were working with some fantastic British authors and we were keen for them to share in the success. We’d already published an anthology of short stories from the US, 13 Tales of Horror, and I set about commissioning a UK one, 13 More Tales of Horror, as we felt an anthology was significantly different from the main list that we could risk doing something different.  We published two collections of British Point Horror short stories – and the stories were darker, grittier and somehow much more real. However, they were taken up and published by Scholastic Inc in the States, which was gratifying.

US editions of UK Point Horror anthology

UK and Spanish editions of 13 more tales

We also wanted to commission and publish some full-length UK horror stories, so we launched Point Horror Unleashed to distinguish them from the American Point Horror brand. The stories were amazing but as with the short stories they were dark and gritty (arguably, something to do with British history and psyche).

Point Horror Unleashed

Building on the success of Point Horror we went on to commission and publish very successfully other genre fiction for teenagers. Nothing ever quite reached the heady heights of Point Horror but it was a great time in which we were actively seeking out authors and asking them to write for the Point list.

Ultimately, from being controversial and daring, Point Horror gradually became old-hat and mainstream. Readers, editors and buyers move on and look for something new, and so gradually Point Horror declined and was discontinued.

I left Scholastic when I was expecting my third daughter in 1998, but looking back I’m amazed at how much we achieved in a fairly short period of time and what an exciting time it was. And now when I meet people who loved Point Horror, I feel proud and privileged to have achieved something that’s always motivated my career – publishing stories that kids really want to read!

Anne Finnis

Photos by Caitlin Smith, my third daughter, mentioned above.



Also check out Anne’s post for #Usborneyashelfies about Point Horror here

The #PointHorrorBookClub even gets a mention!  Thanks Anne!

Do you have a Point Horror question for Anne?

Anne has been lovely enough to agree to answer any questions we may have following the guest post or Point Horror related?

Send me your questions by leaving a reply and I will put them to Anne in my Q&A which will hopefully be love for next month’s Point Horror Book Club!

Thank you Anne!


Anne is now the Fiction Deputy Director at Usborne and feels privileged to have worked with so many talented people. Mum of three. Wannabe salsa dancer. Love chats around her dining table.


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

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

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

You can find all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new here

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

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

*claps hands excitedly*

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

Happy Point Horror-ing!


Guest Post – Magic and “the old ways” of the West Country in Deep Water by Lu Hersey


The 1st July 2015 marked the release day of this awesome book, Deep Water, by the fabulous Lu Hersey!  I have heard nothing but praise for this wonderful book I am so excited to read it very soon!

Thank you to the lovely Amy at Usborne for sending me a copy of Deep Water and to Lu for organising it!

Today I have a brilliant guest post from the lady herself, Lu Hersey, talking about magic and “the old ways” of the West Country in Deep Water.  It is a truly fascinating guest post and I’m so so happy I get to share this with everyone.

But first….a little about the book….

33 Deep Water

Winner of the 2013 Mslexia Children’s Novel Writing Award, Deep Water is a mesmerizing mystery set in a beautiful, remote Cornish village.

When her mum vanishes, Danni moves to a tiny Cornish fishing village with Dad – where the locals treat her like a monster. As the village’s dark, disturbing past bubbles to the surface, Danni discovers that she’s not who – or what – she thought she was. And the only way to save her family from a bitter

Check out the fab book trailer!

Without further ado I will pass you over to Lu…..who has been quietly munching on the foam shrimps left over from the book launch!  🙂

Magic and “the old ways” of the West Country in Deep Water

I’ve always been fascinated by magic, and it’s something I try to weave into my writing. Not just the crystals, wands and faerie dust type stuff you can buy in New Age shops  – I’m talking about the elemental magic that people believed in for generations, the magic of conjuring wind and weather, spells and remedies for protection and healing (or not!) and the kind of shapeshifting magic of folklore and legend. And yes, I know most people dismiss all that type of thing in the 21st century – but I like to allow for the possibility.

 In Deep Water I wanted to make a contrast between the New Age type magic and the traditional magic of folklore. So when her mum disappears, my main character Danni has to go and live with her dad, who owns a New Age shop. Although I mildly poke fun at this kind of magic in the book, it doesn’t mean I don’t like New Age shops…in fact I really love hanging out in places like Tintagel in Cornwall (Cararth in Deep Water is based on Tintagel), where there are so many shops like Danni’s dad’s, it’s easier to buy a shaman rattle than a cheese sandwich!

 But on balance, I’m more interested in the folklore and traditional magic. Some of the weirder, darker magic of Deep Water was inspired by visits to the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle (the village of Ancrows in the novel is based on Boscastle).  The museum is where I learnt about poppets, very dark Cornish magic that works along similar lines to voodoo dolls.

voodoo doll

In the book, Elliot, the boy who works in Dad’s shop, comes from a family of poppet makers – I wanted to give him a bit of an edge so he wasn’t just some perfect, good looking boy that Danni falls for. If ever I write a sequel to Deep Water, it’s something I’d like to bring out much more…

 Danni is also given a weather charm in the story, by a man in a graveyard. I got the idea for this from the sign outside the Museum of Witchcraft.

boscastle witches

Apparently it was once common for ‘wind sellers’ to make and sell weather charms for fishermen going out in their boats from Cornish harbours.

 Although there aren’t any examples of wind charms in the museum, I read quite a few books on northern European magic as part of my background research, and came to the conclusion that the charms were probably bits of knotted rope or string. In Deep Water, the charm is made of knotted sailcloth – mainly because I thought it would be a bit easier for Danni to undo the knots when her hands were wet!

 There are so many more dark, weird and sometimes plain bizarre ideas I picked up researching Cornish myth and legends – I’m sure I’ll find a home for them soon…meanwhile, if anyone has any Cornish myth stories they’d like to share, please get in touch!

 Deep Water by Lu Hersey, published by Usborne, is out now.

Read the first chapter online at www.usborne.com/readdeepwater

Eeeeeekkkk doesn’t this book sound AMAZING!  I can’t wait to delve into it!

You can buy this book here or pop my your local bookshop and pick up a copy 🙂

You can also add it on Goodreads here

33 Deep Water

About Lu Hersey


 Lu Hersey worked as an advertising copywriter until she escaped to become a librarian and study for an MA in writing for young people at Bath Spa University. She shares her house with a surfeit of young adults who won’t leave home and keep calling her “Mum” – although, surprisingly, she finds their dialogue, strangely disturbing habits and erratic sleeping patterns a constant source of inspiration. She lives in Bristol, but her heart is in Cornwall. Deep Water is her first novel.

You can follow Lu on twitter using @LuWrites

You can follow the rest of the blog tour below.

Check out a fab post about The People Of The Sea over on @yayeahyeah here


Have you read Deep Water?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Do you know any Cornish myth stories?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!


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