Tag Archives: Vertebrate Publishing

Guest Post – A Tale Of Yesterday…From The Top Of The World by Matt Dickinson


Today, 10th March 2016, marks the release of the awesome North Face by the inspirational Matt Dickinson published by Vertebrate Publishing!

Happy Book Birthday Matt!

This is the second book in Matt Dickinson’s Everest Files series, which is based upon upon his own experiences of climbing Everest with actor Brian Blessed during the 1996 disaster.

I am lucky enough to have been offered the chance to feature a fab guest post from Matt at part of the North Face blog tour!

First, here’s a  little about the book…..


Ryan Hart is an 18-year-old adventurer on a mission. To get himself to Mount Everest and check out the truth about the world’s highest peak. Friends have told him dark stories about the mountain, outrageous things that he wants to see for himself.

Just a few hours after Ryan arrives at Everest Base Camp a lethal earthquake strikes. Avalanches pound the glacier, burying Ryan’s climbing buddy and killing many others. A desperate rescue saves Ryan’s friend, but only after a local Tibetan girl Tashi helps with the search.

Stress levels are running high among the climbing teams. The mountain is shut for the season because it is judged too dangerous.

Then a flashlight reveals a clue. Someone is alive, high on Everest’s treacherous north face!

Tashi is convinced it is her 15-year-old brother.

Ryan is prepared to risk everything to help.

Storm clouds gather as they set out on their illegal climb, a do-or-die mission which the local militia will do anything to stop.

Sounds awesome right?!

*Hands over to Matt*


Way back in the mists of time (in the 1920s), a British climber by the name of George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest. His answer was a mysterious one:

‘Because it’s there’

It was an enigmatic response, which said everything… and nothing. Yet somehow the quote has endured as a classic Everest truth. We are climbing it, Mallory was saying, because we can.

Nowadays almost a thousand people a year attempt to climb the mountain and (having met a lot of them) I thought it might be fun to come up with my own list of ‘reasons’ why folk are prepared to risk their lives to stand on the ultimate summit!


These are the ‘right on’ men and women who have a direct line to spiritual enlightenment. They go to Everest because ‘up there’ they will be closer to whichever god is most in fashion at that moment. Most often found half naked, humming quietly to themselves, adopting the lotus position, somewhere near the Base Camp rubbish tip.


These are the most honest climbers of all. They don’t pretend there’s any spiritual dimension, they go for the thrill, the rush of risking their lives, and the ‘gnarly dude’ credentials that an Everest ascent brings. Plus, it looks great on your match.com profile!


These Everest climbers are finance folk (men and women) who are extremely rich and go to Everest because they can’t think of anything else to do. Most often found screaming hysterically at base camp managers when they discover they can’t monitor their share portfolio as there is no Wi-Fi on the mountain.


The oldest man (80). The only couple to get married on summit (yes, really!) The youngest girl (13). Most ridiculous thing to do on the summit (someone took a golf club up and smashed a golf ball into near space orbit). Fastest ascent (13 hours!) These are the bizarre accolades that can bring fame and fortune. Every year these fanatics flock to the slopes hoping for their name check in the Guinness book of Records!


Everyone else who doesn’t fit into the above categories.

You have been warned! Climbing Everest isn’t crazy… but the people who do it are!

My final word if you still want to do it: take a good pair of noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the boasts and bluster of base camp chat. And pack a very thick book.

31ADtZ2XpeL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_You can buy North Face by Matt Dickinson here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy.

About Matt Dickinson


Matt Dickinson is an award-winning writer and filmmaker with a passion for climbing and adventure.

During his filmmaking career he has worked as a director/cameraman for National Geographic television, the Discovery Channel, the BBC and Channel 4. His film projects have taken him to Antarctica, Africa and the Himalaya, often in the company of the world’s leading climbers and expeditioners.

His most notable film success was Summit Fever in which Matt reached the summit of Everest via the treacherous north face. His book The Death Zone tells the true story of that ascent and has become a bestseller in many different countries.

Matt is currently Patron of Reading at Lady Manners School in Bakewell and continues to climb and explore. In January 2013 he summitted Mount Aconcagua, which at 6,965 metres is the highest peak in the world outside the Himalaya. Currently, he is planning an ascent of Denali in Alaska, one of the ‘Seven Summits’.

Recently Matt has started writing fiction for teenage readers. His debut thriller series Mortal Chaos was well received by critics and readers alike. Matt followed this up with the first of three The Everest Files books, which has proven to be very popular. North Face is the hotly anticipated second title in the trilogy.

When he’s not writing, Matt tours the UK, speaking at schools and colleges and inspiring a new generation of adventurers.

You can find out more about Matt by visiting his website here

Blog Tour

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


Another huge huge thank you to Matt for a fab guest post and to Lorna at Vertebrate Publishing for organising!

You catch another blog post by Matt about the Himalayan Megaquake here

Or a guest post about Matt’s book, Lie, Kill, Walkaway here

Are you a Matt Dickinson fan?  Have you read any of the Everest Files?  What did you think?  Has this guest post intrigued you?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading or climbing Everest!



Guest Post – The Point Of No Return by Sarah Mussi


Today I am so so happy  to be part of the blog tour for Here Be Dragons by the lovely Sarah Mussi!

Here Be Dragons was released on the 1st September 2015 published by Vertebrate Publishing and is book one in Sarah’s new Snowdonia Chronicles series!  I am so over the moon to have received a copy and I cannot wait to delve into this adventure as soon as possible!

Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize!

VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332

There’s also a fab giveaway running throughout the blog tour to win a copy of Here Be Dragons!  Be sure to check out the bottom of the post to find out how to enter!

Today Sarah interviews herself in the form of a brilliant guest post and discusses The Point Of No Return…….

*Drum roll*


Ellie Morgan wants a boy who’s all hers. Just for once, it would be nice to meet someone that Sheila (the cow) hadn’t got her claws in to.

A remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon is hardly the ideal setting for meeting anyone unless, of course, you count her best friend George or creepy Darren (which Ellie doesn’t). But when a boy, glimpsed through the mist and snow, lures her up to the Devil’s Bridge, Ellie realises the place she knows so well still has its secrets …

The stronger her feelings for this strange boy become, the more she is in danger: a battle as old as Snowdon itself has been raging for centuries and now Ellie’s caught in the middle.

Something has left its lair.

It s out there stalking her.

Who ever said true love was easy?

The Point Of No Return

Hi everybody and welcome back to my blog tour to celebrate the launch of HERE BE DRAGONS, Book One in my new trilogy: THE SNOWDONIA CHRONICLES!

HERE BE DRAGONS is a story about Snowdonia, myth and magic and first love and is book one in the first trilogy I’ve ever written!

In this blog post, I am going to interview myself about the process of writing HERE BE DRAGONS. So far I have covered:

  1. The Hook
  2. The Inciting Incident
  3. The First Turning Point – of the story.

So what are we going to look at today, Sarah?

Today we are going to look at the Point of No Return. We have reached Camp 2 on our ascent of Everest (I am comparing writing this book to an attempt to climb the greatest mountain in the world – partly because you need some of the same qualities: stamina, resilience, a map, a guide, helpers etc and also because I count writing HERE BE DRAGONS as one of my greatest achievements and the fulfilment of a life-long goal: to write a fantasy and a love story).

So here we are at Camp 2 6400 m / 21000 ft.


“After an endless, slow march through the silent valley, you reach at last a rocky patch, at the foot of the icy Lhotse wall. This marks camp 2. This place is absolutely stunning. Clouds roll in from the lower ranges of the Himalaya, up the valley and into the camp. While acclimatizing, we spend time looking for cool old climbing gear; left here by all of Everest’s climbing history. This is also the last chance to get a decent, prepared meal. We eat all we are handed because soon we´ll be surviving on instants only.”

Ok, Sarah, you mention that writing HERE BE DRAGONS is fulfilling a life long goal – can you expand?

Yes HERE BE DRAGONS is really THE kind of book that I’ve always wanted to write. It’s the kind of book I wanted to read too as a teen (still do)! Falling in love on a mountain with magical things happening – both in terms of that growing up process and in terms of the actual mountain steeped in myth and magic!


And, of course, with the myths of the dragons that live under Dinas Emrys and the fact that at one time Snowdon was called the mountain of King Arthur – and Merlin is associated with it and all of those magical creatures like the Tylwyth Teg – and the Mabinogion – absolutely fascinating, deep and rich history, rich culture. What’s not to love!


Great. So now back to how you wrote your book?

So I thought I’d structure my book along the classic three-act structure. AND I would also structure my blog tour along those lines – and explain in each post how HERE BE DRAGONS was mapped using that structure and how the book, itself, then began to take form. I kind of liked that idea.

Just bring us up to speed on why you are following the Three-Act Structure?

Because in a film script book that I first used to help me to understand how to structure a story (my Bible: Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Ray Frensham) he drew a little picture of a story mountain. I love mountains. There are mountains all over the place in my book, obviously.


So today I’m going to talk about the midway point in HERE BE DRAGONS, or what is called The Point Of No Return, in the three-act structure. As anyone who has studied the structure knows, this is the point at which the story is balanced on the midpoint, on the fulcrum.

For our main character, the protagonist, it is a decision to go forward and to face the things ahead – because the distance ahead is as long or as short as the distance behind – or to retreat into the self and refuse The Call to Adventure, and then basically we have no story!


So it’s a choice for the protagonist and it should be marked by some kind of deep inner choice and it’s also a growth point, in which the hunted must become the hunter, or the captive must escape and seek freedom. At this point, even though it may not be marked by a BIG scene there must be some deep emotional commitment to the future. So I got to thinking about how I could give my story a resonance. I needed something to help Ellie think deeply about what she was getting into. So I decided I’d use a reveal, a reveal that perhaps has been foreshadowed in the first half of the story – but when it is revealed – it has that: oh yes! I knew that was coming! But I didn’t guess it was coming in that way!

Oh this is fascinating, Sarah, so tell! Tell!

Well I did include a BIG reveal at The Point of No Return – but of course I’d be spoiling it if I told you what the reveal was! But it needed to be a reveal by the main character or about one or other of the main characters – that she was deeply involved with, and it needed to be a reveal that was a complete game changer.

Ok, if you can’t tell us what the reveal is – can you tell us how you did it?

It’s kind of difficult in writing to do a reveal – because most of it is going to be in conversation – whilst it is action on the page: i.e. showing not telling, it can also be misused or abused as a vehicle for dumping exposition. The reader will pretty soon get tired of reading a conversation in which they are being retold things they already know. It also runs the risk of feeling stilted, if two characters are talking at each other rather than with each other.

Oh, and good conversation should probably be terse, short and oblique. So this was going to be a real challenge. How was I going to set up this conversation? How was I going to make sure that the characters in this conversation didn’t walk away from the conversation? How was I to be sure that they would be ‘in character’ and yet at the same time create a reveal that would be a midway point? How was I going to infer that the Point of No Return had been reached and passed and that now my heroine was committed to a course of action from which she has no escape? How can she exit from that conversation? (put in some cute pics of magic-ish Mabinogion characters in love 🙂 )


So how did you?

 Well, I reset it in the same place as she had originally been captive in – and captivated by her love interest (Henry) so no walking away from the reveal. I worked very hard on voice and I had lots of distractions going on in the scene – lashings of angst and jeopardy – and I crossed my fingers that it worked! Here’s an excerpt for you to judge.

“‘There is so much you don’t know,’ Henry sighed.

‘Better tell me, then’ I said. There was no way he was going to fob me off with any not-now-maybe-later excuses.

He shuffled his feet, as if he didn’t want to tell me anything, as if we could all somehow stay here, inside Halfway House, and ignore everything outside forever. ‘Will you promise me something first, Ellie?’ he said.

‘No deal,’ I said nearly giving in to those huge liquid eyes. ‘Start talking.’

‘Better tell her, old boy,’ said George. ‘She has a way of getting what she wants.’

‘And why are you here?’ I snapped at George. He wasn’t going to escape from question time either.

‘Just checking you arrived safely,’ said George, with a butter-wouldn’t-melt expression plastered all over his cute face.

‘I just don’t know where to start,’ said Henry, leaning his chin on his hand.

‘Try the beginning,’ I said tartly.

‘Ok,’ said Henry, his eyes suddenly sad, as if the whole world was about to end. He took in a deep breath and bit his lip – opened his beautiful mouth – and said nothing.

‘Right,’ I said, because I wasn’t going to have any of that. ‘Do you know why there’s a dragon outside?’

Henry nodded.

George struggled to pat his shoulder encouragingly.

‘Well?’ I demanded.

‘It’s a long story …’

‘We’ve got all night.’ I said, narrowing up my eyes and plonking myself down on a log.

‘If only you would promise…’ he started.

‘Go on,’ said George. ‘Can’t be that bad.’

‘You. Be. Quiet,’ I snapped to George. You shouldn’t be here, and you went up against a dragon with your second-best axe, which in my books makes you totally psychiatrically certifiable.’”


Any other things you did, or like doing as you are writing, Sarah?

When I am writing, I really love playing around with metaphor and with opposites and juxtaposing ideas. For example the idea of being held captive by the snow, being held captive by love, by events escalating, snow falling – you get the idea.

At the end of that end of my Point of No Return reveal scene, that turning-point conversation, there is another great scene in which she sees things from above, she gets to see the big picture, she is freed from what happened before in a really important way and able to make a decision not to allow events to ‘happen TO her’ any more – but to now take charge and control events as best she can. It was a scene, I had to re-write many, many times in order to get all of those points in (I wanted to capture the feeling in pic below) – and I would be interested to receive feedback from anyone after they have read HERE BE DRAGONS – to see if I got all that right!! Fingers crossed!


Okay, better go before I do a spoiler! Bye for now, see you at blog post five: The Darkest Hour – with The Perks of Being a Book Girl!

Thank you once again for having me Chelley

XXX Sarah

About Sarah Mussi


Sarah Mussi is an award-winning author of children’s and young adults’ fiction. Her first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award and shortlisted for The Lancashire Schools Award. Her most recent novel, Bomb, was published in 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books. Sarah was born and raised in the Cotswolds, attended Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She spent over fifteen years in West Africa as a teacher and now teaches English in Lewisham, where she is also the current Chair of CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).

Find out more about Sarah on her website – www.sarahmussi.com

Or why not follow Sarah on twitter using – @sarahmussi

You can buy Sarah’s books here

Here Be Dragons is now showcased by The People’s Book Prize. VOTE for HBD here: http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1332








A huge huge thank you to Sarah for the fab guest post and to Lorna at Vertebrate Publishing for organising the tour!  Here Be Dragons sounds AMAZING!  I can’t wait!

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour here!


Have you read Here Be Dragons?  What did you think?  Will you be picking up a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !



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