Tag Archives: Walker Books

Guest Post – The Kingdom of Bhutan by Katherine Webber


I am SO excited to be hosting another post on the epic blog tour for the brilliant Wing Jones!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, which was published earlier this month, 5th January 2017 in the UK.

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers have been / will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

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As well as all of this Katherine Webber is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for January 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on Katherine and Wing Jones and find out why people are loving Wing Jones – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

So without further ado here is the next photo for the tour…..


About Wing Jones

For fans of David Levithan, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

You can buy a copy of Wing Jones here or from you local bookshop


The Kingdom of Bhutan

One of the best trips I took while living in Hong Kong was to the Kingdom of Bhutan with my mom.

It was incredible and hugely inspiring.

It actually inspired my second manuscript — a fantasy YA novel set in Bhutan. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo 2013, and started querying it the following spring. I got some agent interest, but nothing ever came from it. I think it will stay forever in a desk drawer now, but I’ll always be grateful to Bhutan for inspiring me so much.

#WJPhotoTour.

You can buy a copy of Wing Jones here or from you local bookshop


About Katherine Webber

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention.

You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Find out more about Katherine on her website – www.kwebberwrites.com


A huge thank you to Katherine and also Rosi and Kirsten at Walker books for organising this post, embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17 and having me as part of this fab tour!

Have you read Wing Jones?  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!

Guest Post – “My First Memory Is Of My Brother” by Katherine Webber


I am SO excited to be kicking of the epic blog tour for the brilliant Wing Jones!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing today, 5th January 2017 in the UK.

Happy Debut Book Birthday Katherine!

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

#WJphototour

As well as all of this Katherine Webber is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for January 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on Katherine and Wing Jones and find out why people are loving Wing Jones – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

And that’s not all!

With thanks to Walker Books I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 x Signed Finished Copy of Wing Jones here!

So without further ado here is the very first photo for the tour…..


About Wing Jones

For fans of David Levithan, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

You can buy a copy of Wing Jones here or from you local bookshop


“My First Memory Is Of My Brother”

I’m so excited that my debut book WING JONES is finally coming out!

A huge thank you to everyone who has talked about it, tweeted about it, read it, reviewed it…and extra-special thanks to all the amazing bloggers for their incredible support! I’m so grateful.

I hope you check out all their blogs to see the photos of my path to publication and what inspired me over the years!

Chelley is kicking off the tour with the first picture, and she also is doing a giveaway of a signed, finished copy of the book – here !

Now, without further ado, here is the first picture of the #WJPhotoTour.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The first line of Wing Jones is “My first memory is of my brother.” Wing is the youngest in her family, and I’m the oldest, but my first solid memory is also of my brother. I was four, at the hospital waiting to see my brand new baby brother. Sibling relationships are a huge part of the story of WING JONES, and a lot of this stems from my own close relationships with my brother.

You can buy a copy of Wing Jones here or from you local bookshop


About Katherine Webber

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention.

You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Find out more about Katherine on her website – www.kwebberwrites.com


Giveaway

Don’t forget with thanks to Walker Books you could win 1 x Signed Finished Copy of Wing Jones here!


A huge thank you to Katherine and also Rosi and Kirsten at Walker books for organising this post, embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17, providing a copy of Wing Jones to giveaway and having me as part of this fab tour!

Look out for another Wing Jones related blog post during the month of January!

Have you read Wing Jones?  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!

Spotlight – Debut Of The Month – Wing Jones by Katherine Webber


I am so excited to have announced on January 1st that the super lovely  Katherine Webber is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for January 17 with her debut Wing Jones!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

Wing Jones is due to be released on the 5th January 2017 published by the awesome Walker Books and is set to be a runaway success!

Wing Jones is currently sitting very high on my January TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Katherine Webber is one of the most loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Her enthusiasm and love for all things books shines through and I can’t wait to see what Wing Jones has in store!

I’m super excited to be shining the spotlight on Katherine and Wing Jones today along with some love for Wing Jones from fellow bloggers.

You can also catch a brilliant Photo Guest Post kicking of the #WJPhotoTour here

And remember if you read, review and link up Wing Jones for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  January link up here you will gain an extra entry into the January Prize Pack Draw!

Look out for some special Wing Jones related posts with Katherine this January…..and there may even be a giveaway!


About Katherine Webber

Katherine Webber is originally from California but currently lives in London.  She spent four years living in Hong Kong and has also lived in Atlanta, GA and Hawaii.

(NB – As we are lucky enough to have Katherine living in London we have therefore adopted Katherine as one of our own for the #BritishBooksChallenge17 – we are so very lucky indeed!)

She loves an adventure, whether it is found in a book or in real life.  Travel, books, and eating out are her favourite indulgences.

Her debut YA novel, WING JONES, will be published in the UK on January 5th, 2017 by Walker Books and in the US on March 14th, 2017 by Delacorte/Random House

You can find out more about Katherine on her website – www.kwebberwrites.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @kwebberwrites


About Wing Jones

For fans of David Levithan, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

You can buy a copy of Wing Jones here or from you local bookshop


Praise for Wing Jones

I managed to catch some quotes from some lovely bloggers about Wing Jones….


A huge thank you to the lovely Wing Jones fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  Wing Jones comes highly recommend as our Debut Of The Month!

Look out for some special Wing Jones related posts with Katherine this January…..and there may even be a giveaway!

You can also catch a brilliant Photo Guest Post kicking of the #WJPhotoTour here

And remember if you read, review and link up Wing Jones for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  January link up here you will gain an extra entry into the January Prize Pack Draw!

Have you read Wing Jones?  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!

Guest Post – Pickles, Parables and Proverbs by Chitra Soundar


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I am super excited to have been asked to host a brilliant guest post by Chitra Soundar author of A Jar Of Pickles And A Pinch Of Justice which was published by Walker as part of their Racing Reads in October 2016 and illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy.

So sit back and relax and read all about this fab book…..


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Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, are left in charge of King Beema’s court when the king goes off on a hunting trip. Each day the king’s subjects come before the boys with their problems and petty disagreements. Can Veera and Suku settle the dispute between the man who sells a well – but not the water in it – to his neighbour? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? And what about the old washerwoman who is set the task of washing the king’s elephants until they turn white?

These clever, funny trickster tales, full of humour and colour, are sure to delight.


Pickles, Parables and Proverbs

In the 1970s I grew up on a spicy menu of South Indian pickles, parables and proverbs. I gravitated towards the parables and folktales that were funny and engaging – rather than moral tales. When my grandmother told me these stories, she never once “highlighted” the moral of the story. She laughed a lot and we giggled together how Tenali Rama or Raja Birbal got out of their quandary or tricked their enemies. It was good fun.

But those stories stayed with me longer than any other I read or listened to. My conversations with my Gran used to be often punctuated by these parables – a kind of code.

For example there is a story called Tenali Rama and the Cat that illustrates the phrase – “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” But I don’t think I was ever explicitly told that. Every time I hesitated to do something – whether a food I hadn’t liked before or a hobby I wouldn’t pick up, I would be told, “Don’t be like the cat that drank hot milk.” Stories were and are life lessons.

These stories stuck with me. I read every one of them I could get my hands on, in prose form and in comic book form.

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Like most storytellers, I think I remembered the core, the spine of the stories I listened to or read. These were tucked away in a corner in my memory.

So when I was asked by my editor at Walker Books to find stories that appeal to young readers, I decided I would bring these stories to today’s children, wherever in the world they are. But I didn’t want to tell them in the political context of the 16th century when these characters had lived. While keeping the feel of the bygone days, I wanted them to be closer to young readers.

So instead of just retelling them, I adapted them from the original essence of Birbal and Rama stories, which had themselves evolved, mutated and grown across India.

As many of the Birbal and Rama stories happened in king’s courts, I created a kingdom and Prince Veera, a prince who had the able advice of a good friend and co-conspirator Suku, who knows how the common man works. In India, the monarchs had a custom, to walk the streets dressed as a commoner so he could listen to the problems of the people. In these stories Prince Veera doesn’t have to go in disguise. He spends a lot of time with his best friend Suku and his family and in touch with the real world.

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These stories are first and foremost full of friendship. The camaraderie between the prince and his friend are important to the stories too. The original heroes of these stories – Raja Birbal was a good friend of Emperor Akbar and the south Indian Tenali Rama was a favourite of King Raya.

Read these stories to a group of children and watch them argue and discuss. Hear them talk about fairness and deception. Get them to find the solution to the puzzle set in front of them. Talk about the ending, the solution to the puzzle – how Prince Veera or Suku solved it – did they go “Oh Yeah!!” – that’s the feeling I used to get when I read them as a kid – the feeling of inevitable but unexpected. And that’s the feeling I want to pass on to today’s readers.

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So go on, read A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice and see if you go “Oh Yeah!” too!

A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice by Chitra Soundar (£5.99, Walker)

You can buy a copy of A Jar Of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice here


About Chintra Soundar

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Chitra Soundar was born in Chennai, a coastal city in South India. She speaks Tamil at home and can also read, write and speak Hindi, the national language of India. Chitra fell in love with English, when she started the English Alphabets in kindergarten. She taught herself to read by looking at words and pictures, for hours together. She also loved listening to stories from her grandmother and grandmother’s sisters.

Chitra read non-fiction features and jokes from Reader’s Digest when she was ten. She is usually quiet amongst new people. But her friends know her as talkative and funny . Chitra makes friends easily and is always ready to help them. She won the Best Storytelling prize when she was seven. She loves being with young children and started storytelling to her cousins when she was eight or nine. She made up limericks and stories and acted in plays written and directed by her mother every year during summer vacation.

Along with friends, she also started a magazine for local residents, written and copied using carbon and charged 25 paise for each copy. She took to fund-raising and volunteer work while in school, following in her mother’s footsteps.

Chitra started  writing poetry in Tamil when she was 14. Encouraged by her teachers, she wrote about nature, love and her country. She went on to write in Hindi and English as well. During her years in Junior College, she wrote songs for puppet shows for her Economics projects and wrote for her school magazines. She won the Best Poetry Award in Junior College. During her first year as an under-graduate, Chitra entered an essay in Tamil, on the state of education in India. Her essay won the first prize in the all-state competition.

In 1999, she moved to Singapore, to work as a programmer in a bank. That was when she decided to go back to writing. Her first choice was writing for children and after ten years of learning the craft and the business, she is proud to have published over 20 titles and hopes to keep writing for a long time.

When all the writing and reading is done, she is a whiz in the kitchen, whipping up spicy, hot Indian vegetarian food. Currently she lives in London, where she works in a bank and writes children’s books in all the free time she can get.

She visits the SouthBankHyde Park to write and to get inspired. She also takes an active interest in the writing community of SCBWI.

Chitra now has two muses – her two darling nephews who spend at least a day a week with her.

You can find out more about Chitra on her website – www.chitrasoundar.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @csoundar


A huge thank you to Laura on behalf of Walker books for organising this post and to Chitra for a fab guest post!

Have you read A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Spotlight – Michelle Toy In Conversation With Jennifer Niven & Lauren James


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Tonight I am doing something very exciting indeed!

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Jennifer Niven and I am so honoured to have been asked by the lovely Clare Kelly at Penguin to chair an event as part of Jennifer’s UK tour!

I keep pinching myself to check I’m not dreaming.

Of course I agreed and then just to top the icing on the cake I find out it will also be with another of my favourite author, Lauren James, too!

How lucky am I?!

*squeals in excitement*

I’m even on the Waterstones website and everything!

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I’ve been busy prepping questions for this fab event and I thought it would be fun to shine the spotlight on the authors and their books a little and find out a little more about them……


Event Information

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Superstar authors Jennifer Niven and Lauren James join us for an exciting evening of conversation with Tales Of Yesterday Blogger – Michelle Toy!

They’ll be discussing the trials and tribulations of being a teenager of today, as well as first-loves, mental health and time travel!

Expect plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and some serious business, ask your burning questions and get your books signed.

Jennifer Niven is the author behind the tear-jerkers All the Bright Places and Holding Up The Universe.

Lauren James is the author of the time travelling-romance duology, The Next Together and The Last Beginning.

This event is £3.
(ticket price redeemable against a copy of one book)

To book your seat:
Call: 0121 633 4353
Tweet: @waterstonesbham
Email: events.birmingham@waterstones.com
Book online or pop in store and speak to a bookseller.


Jennifer Niven

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Jennifer Niven lives in Los Angeles. Even though she’s always wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel, her true passion is writing. In 2000, she started writing full-time, and has now written eight books. All the Bright Places is Jennifer’s first novel for young adult readers.  As a companion to the book, Jennifer has created Germ, a web magazine for and run by girls (and boys) — that celebrates beginnings, futures, and all the amazing and agonizing moments in between.

       www.jenniferniven.com @jenniferniven

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone – and love someone – for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are – and seeing them right back.

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Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

An intense, gripping novel, perfect for fans of John Green, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham.

You can buy Jennifer’s books here or from your local bookshop

You can catch a Q&A I did with Jennifer Niven here

Or an All The Bright Places Spotlight featuring some fab bloggers here


Lauren James

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Lauren James is 23, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Her first novel The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and has been translated into over six languages worldwide. The Last Beginning was published in October 2016.

She is an Arts Council grant recipient, and is longlisted for the 2016 Branford Boase Award. She lives in the West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website laurenejames.co.uk  

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A powerful and epic debut novel about fate and the timelessness of first love. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. How many times can you lose the person you love? For Matthew and Katherine it is again and again, over and over, century after century. But why do they keep coming back? How many times must they die to save the world? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different.  

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Winter, 1940: there is a murderer on the loose at Bletchley Park, the headquarters of Britain’s most daring codebreaking operation against the Nazis. Can two young codebreakers Kitty and Matthew catch the killer?

This standalone short story can be enjoyed by new readers and existing fans of Lauren James’s The Next Together series.

tumblr_o7i0m9jotl1qe8zmko1_250-195x300The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation. Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation? For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.    

 

 

You can buy Lauren’s books here or at your local bookshop


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It would be awesome to see you there!

Do tweet @WaterstonesBham for your ticket!

Have you read any of these books or met any of these fab authors before? What questions would you ask if you were chairing the panel?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Wish me luck!

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Guest Post – A Question Of Fairytale Retellings By Zoe Marriott


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A few months ago I attended a blogger day at Walker books and was lucky enough to see the lovely Zoe Marriott again!

Zoe spoke to us about her new book Barefoot On The Wind, a companion title to Zoë Marriott’s critically acclaimed Shadows on the Moon, a magical retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in a fairytale Japan.

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Amoungst all of the excitement of hearing about this fab book Zoe gave out some lovely cards that she had made and we even had Barefoot On The Wind cake!

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It was wonderful hearing about how Barefoot On The Wind came to be and the passion that Zoe has for fairytales (some of which Zoe talks about in the below fab guest post).

Barefoot On The Wind is due to be released on the 1st September 2016 published by Walker Books and  I am super excited to have been asked to feature a fab guest post for this wonderful book by the lovely Zoe Marriott herself!

A huge thank you to Kat at Walker Books and Zoe for asking me to feature this wonderful post.

Sit back and relax and read A Question Of Fairytale Retellings by Zoe Marriott….


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There is a monster in the forest… Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself. But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined, and the beast is not at all what she expects…


A Question Of Fairytale Retellings

First up: Hi Chelley! Thanks for having me on your beautimous blog today!

Recently an email arrived in my inbox from a young reader and writer named Hailee. She said:

             “I am trying to write a story that retells the fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses…(published by the Brothers Grimm). I am having trouble with establishing a plot that isn’t very similar to the original story. Do you have any advice/tips on writing a good fairy tale retelling and establishing believable, memorable characters?”

Stories related to mythology or folklore are some of my very favourite kind to read, as well as (probably) my favourite type to write. I am there for fairytales, from obscure Germanic fragments about bad-tempered dwarves, to those grand, over-familiar stories of kings and castles and enchantments that are indelibly linked to Disney in our minds, to the simplest Chinese fable that offers up in conclusion, ‘A sage relies upon the fruitfulness of nature, not the ingenuity of man’.

But what’s equally fascinating is the way that writers have distilled these well known stories down to their essence in order to re-create them in wildly different forms. One of the most interesting aspects of our apparent need to reinvent our shared mythology is how often the ‘essence’ of a tale varies wildly from writer to writer, even when they’re working from the exact-same versions of a fairytale.

This, rather handily, ties into the very issue that Hailee is concerned with.

Hailee’s question breaks down into two parts. The first is about her specific take on ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ (a personal favourite of mine – great choice Hailee) and how she can distinguish it from the traditional version we’re all familiar with.

But the second question, which is about what makes a good fairytale retelling, links back into the first more directly than it might initially appear to. My tips and advice for writing a good fairytale retelling are very much rooted in the idea that we all have a unique perspective on the fairytales that are special to us. It’s THAT which makes our new versions valuable and fresh and interesting to others, though the tale may have been retold before, and even when our readers could quote the original fairytale by heart.

As for establishing believable and memorable characters? Well, that’s a whole different kettle of writing problems. Luckily, here, here, and here is my advice on that, laid out all friendly-like. Check those out when you have time.

If you were in front of me, Hailee, I would say to you: ‘Tell me about The Twelve Dancing Princesses. What do you love about this fairytale? What excites you about it? What is your favourite part?’ And your answers would tell both of us almost everything you need to know.

How? Because before you can figure out the best way to write your exciting new take on this familiar story, you need to articulate what you want to say about the original.

You see, that’s the point of reimagining a piece of shared mythology. Because, certainly, there are fantastical alternate versions of many fairytales and folk stories, where the author radically re-invents the setting, subverts the plot, and re-imagines the characters. But they do not succeed because of their divergence from the established story. That’s not where their value lies. These new visions work because each of them reflects the idiosyncratic way the story interacted with their writer’s distinctive imaginative landscape.

These writers knew what they wanted to say about their source material.

When you mention struggling to establish a plot that is dissimilar to the original version, you make tiny alarm bells ring in the back of my mind. If it’s a struggle, why do you feel you need to do this? What is wrong with the original plot? What exactly do you want to change about it – and why? Don’t get me wrong; it’s fine if your retelling hinges on utilising a different plot to the traditional one, or even if you want a different plot because you think it’ll be fun. But you need to be able to articulate the reasons why – what you want to achieve – and the answer should not be ‘Because… um… that’s what a retelling does?’

Remember that some of the most successful and beloved fairytale retellings are very, very faithful to the story that is their inspiration. They’re just as great as the more radical departures because they take the familiar and show it to us in a new light, make us reconsider our assumptions by breathing their own kind of life into the established characters or plots, and take us on that beloved journey in a new way. Within the framework of that traditional tale, they still manage to show us something unique and special to their vision of the story.

Let’s look at this process, at what I mean by ‘what you want to say’. A good example is my most recent book, which is based on Beauty and the Beast, a tale generally held to exemplify the motto: true Beauty is on the inside. I love this story, and have enjoyed many faithful retellings of it over the years, from Disney’s animated classic to the two alternate retellings offered by my writing hero Robin McKinley (Beauty and The Rose Daughter).

But I didn’t feel compelled to write my own version until it occurred to me that, in the traditional story, it is the heroine Beauty – not the Beast – who is asked to learn this lesson about judging people based on their appearance. She is the one who, despite being innocent of any crime, is taken from her family, locked up, and forced to learn to love (or at least tolerate) a Beast in order to redeem him.

The Beast, on the other hand, that proud prince whose callousness incurred the terrible curse on himself and his people, spends several decades or centuries skulking in luxury, waited on hand and foot and feeling sorry for himself until, by way of threats and coercion, he manages to acquire a young woman – a beautiful one of course! Having caught her, he then sets up a situation where she feels obligated to accept his proposal of marriage, thereby neatly ending the curse. He isn’t required to learn to see through Beauty’s outer appearance and love the beautiful person within. He isn’t required to learn to love her at all; he’s already asking her to marry him the first night after locking her up, when they’re complete strangers and she’s terrified of him. And even when he lets her go, it’s only for a limited time, and only because he intends to starve himself in her absence so that she will be wracked with guilt and will finally agree to marry him on her return.

How is it, I thought with some astonishment, that we’ve all been taught that this story is about true love and inner beauty, when in actual fact it’s about using false imprisonment, emotional blackmail and coercion to cheat your way out of the consequences of your own actions?

So when I came to write Barefoot on the Wind, I knew I wanted to create a version of the tale in which we could see from his behaviour that the Beast had, in fact, learned to love despite appearances. I wanted to show that he had actually redeemed himself, not used Beauty as a shortcut. I wanted a version where Beauty is not forced to be with the Beast, but chooses to enter the cursed forest for her own reasons, and where she returns to him not because of guilt or emotional blackmail, but because he has earned her love.

This required writing both the characters in ways which differed to their traditional depiction, and some (though not many!) changes to the plot. But all these grew organically from my love for the original and from a thorough examination of what I wanted to say about it.

What aspect or aspects of the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses sets your imagination on fire, Hailee? What made you decide to remake this fairytale for your very own? Ask yourself why you want to write this of all the stories you could write. What beautiful and frightening questions lie lurking, hidden, within the familiar framework of the tale – and what answers do you, and only you, have the ability to offer to a reader based on them?

When it comes to The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there are so many facets of the narrative that might make you long to explore further.

Is it the idea of the descent to the foreign, subterranean world belowground which has its own people, its history, its own rules, its own dark magic? Perhaps you want to explore how this realm came to be, who its people are, and what they ultimately want?

Or maybe you’re fascinated by the strength that the twelve princesses – who were so very young when they were first forced to dance – must have had or developed, to endure the enchantment? What is their plan? Do they have one at all? How have they survived this ordeal and what has it done to them?

Or perhaps you get a shiver of interest from the idea that it’s the soldier’s humble skill of tracking, learned in the wild, abandoned places of the aboveground kingdom, that allow him to finally undo this grand magic. How did he learn? What did it cost him? How does he truly feel about what he sees on his perilous journey and the reward he earns?

Build your new version of the story, faithful or fantastical or somewhere between, on that. On your own passions and your own unique vision of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

When you’ve done this, with any luck… you will have written a very good fairytale retelling 🙂

I hope this is helpful Hailee! And thanks again for having me, Chelley.

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You can buy a copy of Barefoot On The Wind here


About Zoe Marriott

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I was born and raised in Lincolnshire, where the wild North Sea meets the gentle green-gold curves of the Wold, and I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I finished reading my first book; ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I think I was about eight, but I’ve never changed my mind in all the years since then.

I got my first publishing contract when I was twenty-two, but had to wait until I was twenty-four to see my debut novel – The Swan Kingdom – published. It went on to be shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and the Lincolnshire Young People’s Book Award, and become a USBBY Outstanding International Book, among other honours.

Since then I’ve written many other books and have been lucky enough to win or be nominated for many other awards, including the Great Britain Sasakawa Prize and a second place in the Lancashire Book of the Year Awards. I have also received grants from the Royal Literary Fund and the Arts Council England.

I currently live in a little house in a town by the sea, with my two rescued cats, one called Hero after a Shakespearian character and one Echo after a nymph from a Greek myth. I also have a springer/cocker spaniel called Finbar (otherwise known as The Devil Hound). 

My favourite colour is green. My favourite food is Chinese dim sum. My favourite songs are ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’ by Death Cab for Cutie and ‘Spem in Alium’ by Thomas Tallis.

You can find out more about Zoe on her website – www.zoemarriott.com

Or why not follow her on twitter using @ZMarriott

Check out a quiz Zoe and I made previously – Which Name Of The Blade Character Are you?  – Here


A huge huge thank you to Zoe for such a thoughtful guest post and to Kat at Walker for asking me to host.

Have you read Barefoot On The Wind?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued?  Which Fairytale would you re-tell?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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Tales Event – #YABookBingeFest Waterstones Birmingham 16/04/2016


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On the 16th April 2016 I attended this brilliant YA event at Waterstones Birmingham with two awesome authors!

AL14AL10AL11It was such a brilliant afternoon!

There was the super awesome Alice Oseman….

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And the lovely lovely Lauren James….

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We were encouraged to live tweet using the #YABookBingeFest from the event.  A few of us did this and I think it really captured the conversations and the event so I have storified it!

As you can see the panel was brilliant!

I even caught the most gorgeous picture which really captures the friendship between these two brilliant authors!

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After the event it was time for a signing and to catch up with friends!

AL9A huge thank you to Waterstones Birmingham for hosting such a fab event and to all the authors for being absolutely brilliant!

Happy Reading!

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Tales Q&A with Alison Goodman


619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The 21st January 2016 marked the release day of this super intriguing book The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

I am lucky enough to have received a copy of this book from Walker which I am super excited to read as I have heard excellent things and with this being the first book in a trilogy I just know I am going to love this book!

Dark-Days-Leaderboard (2)Today I am super excited to have the lovely Alison Goodman on Tales with a fab Q&A!


Hi Alison!  Welcome to Tale Of Yesterday!  I am so excited to have you here!

Firstly a little about the wonderful The Dark Days Club…

619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Jane Austen’s high society and Cassandra Clare’s supernatural underworld collide in the first book in the Lady Helen trilogy, perfect for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her curtsey to Queen Charlotte and step into polite Regency Society. Unbeknownst to Helen, that step will also take her from the glittering ballroom of Almack’s and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of demonic creatures, missing housemaids and deadly power.

Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of dubious reputation and infuriating manners. He believes Helen is destined to protect humanity, but all he can offer is danger, savagery and the possibility of madness. Not the kind of destiny suitable for a young lady in her first London Season. This delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and difficult choices has all the unnerving dark magic of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and the swashbuckling action of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

How did you get your inspiration for writing The Dark Days Club?

The idea for the book came to me while I was on a tram coming home from a writers’ conference. I had been to a session about researching the Regency era, and as I sat looking out of the tram window, I idly asked myself what kind of Regency novel would I like to read now? The answer came in a rush: a mix of everything I loved about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer together with the excitement and delight of a supernatural adventure. I scrabbled for a pen and paper and by the time I got to my tram stop, I had the outline of The Dark Days Club.

Did you have any difficulty keeping up motivation while writing?

I love all aspects of writing a novel––researching, planning and the actual writing—so my motivation is good most of the time. However, I sometimes get a tough patch around the 40,000-word mark in a manuscript.  It is a kind of limbo point where I am past the excitement of the beginning but I’m not quite at the big moment in the middle. I am aware of it now, so I know that the feeling will pass if I keep steadily writing and finding the delight in each scene.

Sum up your career as an author in 3 words?

Writing, waiting, Huzzah!

Have you always wanted to write?

I have always written stories; my mother still has a storybook I put together when I was in Grade 1. By the time I was in Grade 4, I wanted to be a writer, but then, in my teenage years, I changed my mind and wanted to direct films. I started to study filmmaking at university and part of the course was to write a short film. Mine got chosen to be made, and during that process I realised that I enjoyed writing the film more than I did directing it. So, I changed my course to professional writing and discovered that my real love was writing novels.

What are your next writing plans?

Book 2 of the Lady Helen series—set in Brighton during the summer social season––is already with the publisher and is set to come out next Christmas/New Year. I am now working on Book 3, which is set in Bath during the winter social season. I am also getting ready to tour the USA with The Dark Days Club in March. I think it is going to be about nine cities in eleven days so that will be full-on fun!

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions Alison it’s been brilliant to have you here!

619+qXPkeXL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_You can buy The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman here or why not visit your local independent bookshop for a copy.

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About Alison Goodman

gold_trim_brooch_posterized_v4-e1438491340587Alison is the author of the upcoming Lady Helen series, a trilogy of historical supernatural adventures set in the Regency. The first book–The Dark Days Club–is due for release in January 2016. Alison is best known for her New York Times bestselling fantasy duololgy EON and EONA, and her ability to dance a mean English contra-dance. She also writes award winning science fiction and crime fiction, and lives with her lovely husband and their machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier in Melbourne, Australia.

You can find out more about Alison and her books here

You can buy The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman here


 Another huge huge thank you to Alison for agreeing to a Q&A and to Tatti and Walker for organising!

Have you read The Dark Days Club? What did you think?  Has this Q&A 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!

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Tales Quiz – Which Name Of The Blade by Zoe Marriott Character Are You?


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I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the lovely Zoe Marriott last year at a blogger event at Walker Books and I found her talk about this series completely fascinating and inspiring.

I do not read a lot of fantasy myself but this year I am determined to change that and will especially be picking up this series asap…

“Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this epic trilogy”

I knew I wanted to invite Zoe over to Tales and also that I wanted to know more about these characters asap!

So……

Today myself and the author of this brilliant series Zoe Marriott have put together a fab quiz where we are asking…

Which character from The Name Of The Blade Series are you?

You can also catch Zoe chatting about Fairy Tale Retellings on my blog here


About The Books

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When Mio steals the family’s katana – a priceless ancestral sword – from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a fancy-dress costume. But the katana is much more than some dusty antique and her actions unleash a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. Soon Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, appears to protect Mio – and threatens to steal her heart. With the gods and monsters of Japanese myth stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe, and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life … but the love of a lifetime.

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Against all odds, Mio, Jack and Shinobu have defeated the terrifying Nekomata and got home alive. But Mio is still compelled to protect the katana, and now the Underworld has spawned a worse monster – one carrying a devastating plague that sweeps through London like wildfire. As Mio struggles to protect the city and control the sword’s deadly powers, she realizes that this time there is no way she can keep everyone she loves out of the line of fire.

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In the thrilling final instalment of her epic, Japanese-inspired urban fantasy trilogy, Mio has succeeded in banishing the Goddess of Death’s plague-spreading monsters – by making the most terrible sacrifice. With Mio’s love Shinobu lost, and hell literally breaking loose in London, the only things standing between the human world and an apocalypse are Mio and her sword.


Which character are you most like? 

Take the quiz to find out and share your results with us on twitter or leave a comment.

If you cannot see the quiz below click here and scroll down


About Zoe Marriott

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I was born and raised in Lincolnshire, where the wild North Sea meets the gentle green-gold curves of the Wold, and I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I finished reading my first book; ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I think I was about eight, but I’ve never changed my mind in all the years since then.

I got my first publishing contract when I was twenty-two, but had to wait until I was twenty-four to see my debut novel – The Swan Kingdom – published. It went on to be shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and the Lincolnshire Young People’s Book Award, and become a USBBY Outstanding International Book, among other honours.

Since then I’ve written many other books and have been lucky enough to win or be nominated for many other awards, including the Great Britain Sasakawa Prize and a second place in the Lancashire Book of the Year Awards. I have also received grants from the Royal Literary Fund and the Arts Council England.

I currently live in a little house in a town by the sea, with my two rescued cats, one called Hero after a Shakespearian character and one Echo after a nymph from a Greek myth. I also have a springer/cocker spaniel called Finbar (otherwise known as The Devil Hound). 

My favourite colour is green. My favourite food is Chinese dim sum. My favourite songs are ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’ by Death Cab for Cutie and ‘Spem in Alium’ by Thomas Tallis.

You can find out more about Zoe on her website – www.zoemarriott.com

Or why not follow her on twitter using @ZMarriott

You can also catch Zoe chatting about Fairy Tale Retellings on my blog here


A huge thank you to Zoe Marriott for playing along and helping to create this quiz!

Have you read any of the Name Of The Blade series?  What did you think?  Have you taken the quiz?  Which character are you?  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!

*grabs sword*

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Tales Q&A with Non Pratt

 


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Following recently reading Trouble which was released earlier this year (shame on me for leaving it so long before I read!) and with Trouble being nominated for a Carnegie award and many other awards I have had the absolute honour of putting some questions to the lovely author Non Pratt.

I recently met Non at a book event at Birmingham Waterstones and she is absolutely lovely and gives lots of nice hugs!

Check out my review of Trouble here!

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 About Non Pratt – taken from the back of Trouble

 Non Pratt’s real name is Leonie, but please don’t call her that unless she’s done something really bad.  She grew up in Teesside and now lives in London.  She wrote her first book aged fourteen (This is not that book).  After graduation from Cambridge University, Non decided to work in children’s publishing.  Unfortunately, she went to her first job interview with her top on inside out.  Fortunately, they hired her anyway.  Since then she has worked as a non-fiction editor at Usbourne and fiction publisher at Catnip.  She now writes full-time, and Trouble is her debut novel.


 Hi Non.  Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  Thank you so much for featuring on my blog…I am very excited and thrilled to have you here and is very much an early Christmas present for me! Trouble-Non-Pratt-UK

 Trouble is published by Walker Books and is the story of Hannah, the smart and funny fifteen year old girl who finds out she’s pregnant and Aaron (I loved Aaron), the new boy in school who wants to keep low key, but offers to be the pretend Dad of Hannah’s unborn baby.  The story is told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron and as the story unfolds becomes so much more than you think from reading the synopsis as the two teenagers help each other move forward, make choices, and deal with loss, regret and hope and how important real friendship is.

You can find my full review of Trouble here

 I really enjoyed reading Trouble and congrats on the Carnegie nomination and all of the other fab awards this book has been nominated for.  So many people kept telling me Trouble was the must read of 2014 and I have to agree!

What inspired you to write the story of Hannah and Aaron?

I always wanted to write a story where teen sex played an important part and when a culmination of headlines and TV programmes prompted me to notice how judgemental society is about pregnant teens, the idea for Hannah’s story snowballed from there. As I would never have picked up a story that focused solely on pregnancy when I was a teenager, I knew I wanted something else driving the story, and there arose Aaron and his involvement in Hannah’s story. (Not his plot, though, I didn’t really know what that was going to be until I got started.)

How important are names to you in your books?  Did you choose the names Hannah and Aaron on liking the way they sounded or do they have some special meaning?

I thought it was important for the main girl in Trouble to have a very familiar name and I think most people know a Hannah… and a Hannah I know also happens to have the surname Sheppard – I liked her name so much I thieved it. Once upon a time Aaron was called Damon, but after a couple of chapters I knew it was wrong and modified it to Aaron. I have no idea why.

 Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Trouble or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

Yes and no. There is a lot of me in both Hannah and Aaron. Hannah’s need to love and be loved is something I identify with, but I always felt more of an outsider as a teen – much like Aaron. Having said that, there’s a clear distinction between who I am and the characters I created. Their experiences are a hybrid of memory and imagination so that nothing is that close to reality.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of.  When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I fell out with a good friend once and it took me a very long time to accept that there was nothing in this world that would undo what had happened. Sometimes there are situations from which you can never escape and your only choice is to live with it.

The big question is what “Trouble” did you get into when you were Hannah’s age?

 Not much! My mum was extremely liberal in the way she treated me, which meant that I learned quickly and with little fuss what I wanted to experiment with and what I didn’t. There was very little moralising about it. Most of the trouble I did get into was at school for drawing on desks, scruffy uniform and cheeking teachers, which is all rather dull by comparison.

I know this question was asked during the event in Birmingham, but if you could cast your characters in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

No idea. New people!

Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

Hmm, I always find this an interesting question because I love books and I’m intensely invested in those that I loved growing up, such as The Deptford Mice by Robin Jarvis and the whole of Dick Francis’s back catalogue. Later on, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak really showed me what YA books could do, but I don’t know whether they inspire me to write, so much as inspire me to think. Music is usually what makes me want to sit down and write.

What do you think makes a good story?

That intangible thing called ‘voice’ and a complete lack of fear. Any story can be great in the hands of the right storyteller.

Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

Being quite the contented soul, I rarely spend time wanting the impossible (like creating books I know I couldn’t have written!), but as I reader I loved This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales and I really admire the way Rainbow Rowell writes falling in love with someone – every book is slightly different and deeply believable. 

Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I don’t really know that I understand how a collaboration works… can I just cheat and pick authors I have already worked with in slightly different capacities? A.J. Grainger whose debut novel Captive is out in January is one of my editors and when I worked at Catnip Books I worked closely with fellow editor  Liz Bankes who wrote Irresistible, Undeniable and Unstoppable.  Both ladies are complete and utter geniuses and a delight to work with.

When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

Here is a diagrammatic representation of how I went about writing Trouble…

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I start by jotting down character traits and then dive in and write whatever scenes take my fancy before going back to the start of the book and stitching the whole thing together with narrative. It is a woefully inefficient way to write.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 All writing habits are strange. I suppose the fact that I will only drink out of my ‘Writer Girl’ mug when writing might qualify as odd… 

What is your favourite part of the publishing / writing process and the least favourite part?

I love first drafts where nothing really makes sense and I’m in lust with a new idea that I can’t spend enough time with. I am less keen on all the hard work involved in the redrafts, but I like the results they produce. Also, I HATE TITLES.

What happened to the book you wrote at the age of fourteen?

I finished it at an Arvon Foundation retreat when I was nineteen and cried at the ending. The people on the course were wonderful and toasted the achievement – back then I didn’t know that finishing novels could be hard! I rewrote it a couple of years later, but it still sucked. 

Your next book Remix (love that title) is out June 2015 (exciting!) – could you tell us readers what to expect from your second novel?

 It’s about two best friends, Kaz and Ruby, who go to a music festival to get over their ex boyfriends and away from their problems back home. It doesn’t work. What ensues is a weekend of increasingly bad decision making. It’s about friendship. And condoms. And the double-edged sword of getting what you ask for.

I heard on twitter that the name Remix came after a very painful title process – was it that bad?  Why do you think coming up with the title for a book is so hard?

Naming a child is easier than naming a book. Titles have to please everyone from your editors to the sales team and when you’re stupid enough to sit down and try to write a book without a title, you deserve all the heartbreak and misery that’s coming your way. (Yes, I am talking to my past self – and my future one.) I think it’s hard for me because I’m no good at them, they just don’t spring to mind. Taglines I love – titles, not so much. So my answer is a wholehearted YES! it was that bad.

Recently I asked some lovely UKYA authors their thoughts about does music influence their books or their characters.  Did music have any influence in your upcoming book Remix?

I think it’s a poignant look at the pain of a failed relationship – it isn’t anguished, or bitter, just incredibly regretful and sad. There’s a line “And it’s been awhile/ but I can still remember just the way you taste” and it’s always hit me hard. The thought of the intensely private sense-memory that only you can know and that you’ll never have again hits me every time I hear this song. I’ve been thinking about that line since I first heard the song in 2001 and had an influence in Remix before and during the book.

This song is probably one of the reasons I’ve always wanted to write a book about relationships past and that’s a very important part of Remix. The thing is… I think you can look at this song from any point of view you want. There are two main characters in Remix: Kaz and Ruby and I’ve always seen this song through Kaz’s eyes, since she’s the one who yearns for her ex boyfriend… But more recently I’ve been listening to it from Ruby’s point of view, or even that either of their ex boyfriends… Regret isn’t something only injured parties feel in a break-up scenario.

Are there any exciting plans following the release of Remix next year?  Another book in 2016 maybe (cheeky question)?

We’ll see. I was only contracted for two books, but I’ve plenty of ideas…

 Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these Non and I can’t wait for Remix next year!

You can buy Trouble here

If you would like to know more about Non Pratt and her upcoming second book check her out on her website http://nonpratt.com/ or follow her on twitter using @nonpratt

Happy Reading

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