Posts Tagged ‘Q&A’
Rockoholic’s out this month, so we’ve been catching up with author Claire Skuse…..
Who were your favourite authors as a child?
As a child I was given a very expensive gift set of Beatrix Potter books and I loved them lots. My favourite one was The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan, probably because I had no idea what a Patty Pan was, and still don’t to this day! I also liked the idea of eating lots of lettuce and falling asleep under some warm grass cuttings, ala The Flopsy Bunnies, so this was also a favourite. Other favourites included anything by Roald Dahl, a book called The Garden Gang, which I think was written and illustrated by a very young girl, and I had two gigantic Enid Blyton treasuries which I remember reading when I had measles and they made me feel better, or at least stopped me picking at my spots for a while.
You work in publishing, so what prompted you to start writing?
I started writing my first novel when I was seventeen and for about eight years I was sending it back and forth to agents. I was told you had to have an agent to get anywhere. Fifty agent rejections later, I realised that perhaps it wasn’t just about finding the right agent, it was about improving my writing. That realisation took me to Bath Spa University where I did a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in Writing for Young People. Just after completing these courses, I applied for work experience at Chicken House Publishing and, joys of joys, managed to secure a permanent position as Publishing Assistant. This was already the job of my dreams so I did feel I was pushing my luck a bit in asking them to read the manuscript that I had written for my MA, but I showed them anyway, they really liked it, and my dreams came true in March 2010 when Pretty Bad Things, was published!
Tell us about your new book, Rockoholic…
Rockoholic is about a teenage girl called Jody who has really lost her way in life. She doesn’t have a great relationship with her family, has failed most of her exams and has just experienced the loss of her beloved grandfather. Her only salvation is her favourite band, American rock outfit The Regulators, with whom she is obsessed. Jody finally gets the chance to go to one of their concerts, but has a truly terrible time of it. She queues up all day outside the venue, but misses the entire show when she faints in the crowd. She wakes up in the First Aid area, just as she is about to lose all hope, and her hero, Regulators’ lead singer Jackson Gatlin, walks in to do a meet and greet with the fans needing first aid. In a fit of desperation / concussion / adoration, Jody kidnaps Jackson, and takes him back to her house. But as the story progresses and Jackson’s diva-like personality shines through, it is clear that having a secret rock star in your garage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
How did the idea for Rockoholic come to you?
I went to an MCR concert at Cardiff Arena in 2007, when I was 26, and I should have known better at this age I guess, but such was my obsession for this band at the time, that I queued up all day long outside the venue in order to get on the front barrier for the gig. It was a miserably cold day, during which I starved and dehydrated myself so I wouldn’t need the toilet, and in the end I didn’t even get on the front row. I got pulled out of the mosh pit after the support act due to exhaustion and watched the entire show from the side of the stage – a position I could have easily got into had I just turned up at 9:00 at night! I bought every piece of merchandise for the band I could afford after the gig – hoody, posters, badge sets, pencils, hat, t-shirts, but it just never felt like I’d had the night of my dreams – the night I had expected. There was this great feeling of loss and missed opportunity and I got to thinking, what did I actually expect? Some of the lead singer’s spit in my eye? Bodily contact with one of them? The band to see me in the crowd and want to take me on tour with them? And this quickly became an event I would cringe at every time I thought about it, so I thought ‘Well, I can carry on cringing, or I can turn this into Book 2. So hopefully I made the right choice!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m always a little wary of saying too much online about what I’m working on next, especially as I’m heavily into the first draft at the moment and it’s quite fragile, but if you meet me at any book-related events this year I’ll happily tell you more about it!
Share 3 of your passions with us…
MCR – of course
My books – Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic, the hush hush book 3!
Comics and graphic novels – when I get time to read them
Rockoholic excited??! Well, we’ve got a signed copy of Rockoholic for one lucky Bookbabbler. To be entered into the draw, comment on this post, retweet it or Facebook ‘like’ it. We’ll pick a winner at 7pm Thursday (UK only) – good luck!
Today we catch up with Candor and Drought author, Pam Bachorz..
What were your favourite books when you were a child?
I read tons of stuff, as I do today. My all-time favorite was the classic ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (and all its sequels), by L.M. Montgomery. I also loved the SUNFIRE ROMANCE series, which were a historical romance series set in various time periods in the US–I aced my American History exams thanks to those books! I also loved Lois Duncan’s creepy YA stories.
Tell us about your new book, Drought?
DROUGHT is set in the dark, remote woods of New York state, where I spent my summers as a child. It’s about a hidden community of people who have been alive for several hundred years, sustained by magical water. They are enslaved by an evil man named Darwin West. The main character, Ruby, has a big secret: her blood is the magic ingredient that makes the water work. But Darwin doesn’t know that. When she falls in love with one of Darwin’s guards, she must choose between escaping to a normal, modern life or continuing to sustain her Congregation’s life until their savior Otto returns to free them from slavery.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new YA story that I’m both very excited and terrified by. It’s set in an entirely new world with a pretty different and interesting cast of characters.
What drew you to writing YA fiction?
I tried writing picture books, middle grade, and adult stories–but I seemed to find my natural place in YA. I love YA fans; they get so passionate about books. Whether they love or hate what you’ve done, there is rarely an in-between. That makes writing very interesting and oftentimes rewarding! Also, I love writing about a time in my characters’ lives that is so pivotal: they are adults in so many ways but experiencing a time of tremendous growth and uncertainty. What a great opportunity for story!
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Well, I’d probably take my beloved Anne Shirley, from LM Montgomery’s stories. She’s got lovely red hair, lives in a gorgeous place, has an amazing best friend and eventually a true love, and she loves writing. Plus she gets to wear dresses with puffed sleeves!
Share with us three of your passions
1. Cupcakes: I try to find new bakeries all the time, especially when I am visiting new cities.
2. Science: I am an armchair geek who subscribes to POPULAR SCIENCE and listens to plenty of science podcasts. I also have a degree in environmental science!
3. Travel: I like going to new places, near and far. We’ll be heading to the Mediterranean for the first time ever this summer and I’m having a ball planning our trip, right now. But I also love just finding new towns near us, trying their best restaurants and museums (and CUPCAKES!).
Thanks, Pam! You can find out more about Pam here and Candor and Drought are available to buy now.
Along with Bookbabblers Aly and Amber, we put our questions to Luisa Plaja, author of Split by a Kiss and Swapped by a Kiss..
What are your favourite books from your childhood?
I used to read everything I could get my hands on when I was a child! I read my way through the children’s section of the local library several times over. My favourites were always books about friendships and relationships – something which hasn’t changed! My all-time favourite as a child was a book called Masha by Mara Kay, with Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers coming a very close second.
Turning to your own books, which character from the series do you feel you can most relate to?
This is a hard question because all my characters have bits and pieces of me in them (of course!) I love Rachel – I think I want to be Rachel, fighting her school’s social injustice with her intense intensity. I’m probably more like Jo, though, getting into embarrassing situations and finding life a big joke half the time (in a good way). Oh, and I share Jo’s love of Buffy.
Are any events from the books personal experiences?
Oh yes – lots of them! Well, they’re based on personal experience. I’ve been British in the USA and I’ve felt like a foreigner in Britain (I’m British, but I’m also Italian), so some aspects of the culture shock in both books are definitely mine. Some of the more embarrassing incidents in both books are also based on personal experience, though I’ve embellished them for fictional purposes, and for fun. Oh, and occasionally, I’ve gone the other way and toned them down instead. I think I’ll leave it there…
By the end of Swapped by a Kiss, I got the impression that Josie and Rachel remained at a distance rather than the switch bringing them closer together, did you decide this for a particular reason?
Thank you for this wonderful question! It’s always fascinating to hear what other people take from my books, and this one is particularly thought-provoking. It has made me think about the way that body swap fiction is often focused on the swappers strengthening their bond with each other – for example, the mother-daughter pairing of Freaky Friday, where each party emerges more understanding and tolerant of the other. I suppose Swapped by a Kiss is slightly different because the reason for the swap wasn’t any kind of animosity between the girls. No one said, “Right – I’ll show you how tough it is to be me and then you’ll understand!” Instead, I think the girls escaped into each other’s bodies for a holiday from being themselves. As Jo says: “Rachel’s body could be the perfect place to hide.” So I think Swapped by a Kiss is more about the girls coming to terms with their own lives rather than strengthening their friendship with each other. That said, I do think they develop a certain appreciation of each other that wasn’t there before.
Is there a message or moral that you want us readers to take away after reading the series?
Like all writers of fiction, I’m mostly just telling stories. But if anyone takes away anything positive from my books, I’ll be very happy! I love writing about self-acceptance and identity, and I particularly like looking at the way everyone makes mistakes with their relationships – and it’s inevitable, really – but they can still make things right and be happy. I think, above all, I like showing that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. (Tori Windsor would now ask me whether this answer is from a lame TV movie!)
What are you working on at the moment?
A standalone novel for publication in spring 2011.
And finally, how did Chicklish come about?
It was founded by a group of writers including me and Keris Stainton (author of Della Says: OMG!) as a place to discuss the teen novels we loved. At the time we started the site, in 2006, the kinds of books I love most (the ones known as ‘teen chicklit’) were rarely reviewed anywhere, and you often had to dig hard to find out anything about them. Luckily, this has changed in the past four years, at least online, which makes me very happy! Chicklish now reviews and features all kinds of books for teenagers . You can find out more at http://www.chicklish.co.uk
Thank you very much for interviewing me, Bookbabblers!
And thank you, Luisa!
Tamsyn’s our ‘author in residence’ this month, so we thought we’d get to know her a little better..
Who were your favourite authors when you were a child?
When I was about eight years old, my mum gave me a book called The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. It was the first fantasy book I’d ever read and I loved it. Set around Alderley Edge in Cheshire, the story is about two children, Colin and Susan, who discover a hidden world of dwarves, wizards and mortal danger. The plot twists and turns relentlessly and features one of the most perilous journeys I’ve ever encountered.
As I grew older, fantasy became one of my favourite genres but the truth was I’d read anything I could get my hands on. I whizzed through all the Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books, loved the Narnia Chronicles and the Anne of Green Gables series. So I can’t say I had favourites, really; the brilliant library in my home town meant I got to read lots of different authors.
Stunt Bunny is named Harriet Houdini – how did you come up with the name?
I wish I could say I was visited by the ghost of that famous escapologist, Harry Houdini, but the truth is a bit less interesting. One of my rabbits escaped in our back garden and led me a real chase until I caught her. I started thinking about how I could make a story out of it and realised she couldn’t have an everyday, run-of-the-mill name. The moment I came up with Harriet Houdini, I knew it suited the character of a cheeky bunny perfectly and a star was born!
What can we expect next from Harriet?
Harriet is going on tour, with the cast of Superpets: Live! Expect more amazing stunts, more talented pets and a whole lot of sparkles. Stunt Bunny: Tour Troubles will be in the shops in February 2011 – miss it, miss out!
‘My So-called..’ are going to be a trilogy – fab! Tell us more about the books.
My So-Called Afterlife was teen ghost Lucy’s story and introduced us to an afterlife where ghosts can text, party and even snog. My So-Called Haunting picks up the story with fourteen year old Skye, a psychic with a habit for attracting bad boys. Struggling to settle into a new life in London, it’s not long before Skye is sucked into the seedy world of gang culture. Can she put her gift to good use or will it tear her future away?
The next book in the series is what I’m working on right now. I can’t give too much away but it promises to be best yet! And I’m hoping there’ll be more Afterlife books in the future – watch this space!
What do you love most about writing for children and young adults?
The best thing about writing for children and young adults is that it’s such fun! I love be able to take the story wherever I want to, without having to include much boring, everyday stuff. And I can be as silly as I like, because it’s my job
Share 3 of your passions with us.
My first great love is writing – obviously! There’s nothing quite like the buzz of getting something down on paper and knowing your readers are going to love it as much as you do.
When I’m not writing, then I’m reading. I always tell people that long before I was a writer, I was a reader and I think it really helped me with my own stories. I’m constantly in awe of other writers’ work and can’t imagine my life without books.
Lastly, I love music and would be very unhappy if someone told me I could never sing again. I trained as a classical soprano and like nothing better than hitting the high notes. Unfortunately for my friends and family, I don’t always reach them!
Thanks, Tamsyn. You can ask Tamsyn anything else you want in our forum this month, so pop over and ask away!
Cambourne Chatterbooks were winners in our May launch giveaways, and bagged themselves a copy of Castle of Shadows, by Ellen Renner. As Ellen’s ‘in residence’ with us this month, the Chatterbooks have put a few questions to her…
Hello Camborne Chatterbooks! Thank you for asking such brilliant questions. I’ve had great fun answering them.
Ellen, why did you decide to change from being a creative artist to being a brilliant writer?
It as a very hard decision. I love drawing and painting. I always wanted to do both and if I wrote picture books perhaps I could have illustrated them. But I write long books for older children and publishers tend not to use illustrations (I think they should use them more). Life is very busy if you have a family to look after, so I had to decide which to focus on and I knew I wanted to tell my stories more than anything else. But I’m not giving up with my drawing and painting. I’m going to put more character illustrations on my website in the autumn and I’m doing a show of paintings and drawings based on the books in a local gallery next spring. I’ll write about that on my website next year.
What made you want to write your story ‘Castle Of Shadows’?
One day several years ago I was sitting at my computer trying to write another story when a picture popped into my head out of nowhere. It was the king, Charlie’s dad, hanging upside down from scaffolding putting the very last card on his enormous card castle. I knew that I had to write a story about it. But I still don’t know where that image came from.
Are you pleased with the way that the book turned out?
I’m very pleased with Castle. It took a lot of rewriting to get the book the way I wanted it. It went through four major rewrites and at one point I threw away half the book and started again. But I wouldn’t change anything now. And it’s much more satisfying than if it had come out perfectly first time around. I learned a lot during the rewriting process. Working hard on something and making it better is a very good feeling.
Why do you use the phrase ‘in a world of secrets nothing is what it seems’?
My editor, Sarah Lilly at Orchard Books, wrote all the words on the cover, but we did talk it over and we felt that it was a good way of describing the book and making people want to read it. Almost everyone in the book, except for Charlie, has a secret. It really is a shadowy world of secrets and lies.
What inspired you to write about Princess Charlotte and her mother’s life?
Charlie grew into a very real person for me as I was thinking about the book and starting to write it. I wanted her to have fears because no one can be brave if they aren’t afraid. I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I thought it would be good to tie her fear of the dark and claustrophobia to her mother’s disappearance.
As for her mother, I needed Charlie to have a really big problem, something even more fundamental than a wicked housekeeper and mad father, something that was the start of everything. I’ve always been very close to my mother, and I know the thing that would have hurt me most at Charlie’s age would have been losing my mother and not knowing what had happened to her.
What do you think makes us have to read your book? What makes it unputdownable?
There are lots of elements involved in making a story work, but first and foremost I think you need to have a main character that the reader can identify with and care about. The characters need to come first and they determine the shape the story will take and what will happen. If you start with the plot and force your characters to fit it without thinking about who they are and how they would react, it doesn’t work. Plot is important, but you have to stay true to your characters.
The next thing is that you need to give your character a really big problem, something really awful, and grow that problem with every chapter – making it bigger and bigger. That’s what keeps readers turning the pages – to find out if the character is ever going to solve the problem. The classic: what happens next?
Lastly, it’s good to be able to end each chapter with something that makes the reader want to start the next one, a sort of hook into the next scene or cliff-hanger.
Great questions, Chatterbooks! A special thanks to Yasmin, who came up with many of the questions. You’ve heard a bit more from Ellen now, and do remember you can put any more questions or comments to her in our forum or on our Facebook wall this month.
Today we catch up with Stephanie Burgis, author of A Most Improper Magick, out this month.
Which were your favourite books from your childhood?
I was a book addict from early childhood – two of the things I got in trouble for most often were sneaking books to the dinner table and reading during class! – so this list could go on for ages. Some of my very top favourites, though, were Joan Bauer’s Squashed, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Virginia Euwer Wolff’s The Mozart Season, Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank, and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
(I’m going to stop here for the sake of space, but I do also have a whole page on my website that’s devoted to more of my favourite books: http://www.stephanieburgis.com/about/favorite-books.php )
Being fans of historical fiction ourselves, what drew you to writing in this genre?
I’ve always been a major history geek – in fact, I used to get out of some of my chores by trading good stories from history to one of my brothers in exchange! I also got a Master’s degree in music history, focusing on the music and politics of late eighteenth-century Europe. So it was almost a given that I would want to give my novels a historical setting – and ever since my dad read me Pride & Prejudice, when I was eight years old, I’ve been head-over-heels in love with the Regency era.
Tell us about Kat Stephenson
Kat is loyal, loving, headstrong, impulsive, smart, skeptical, and determined to make up her own mind about everything, no matter what anyone else might think! Her mother was a notorious witch whose reputation was ruined by the public practice of magic, and if Kat wanted to redeem herself in the eyes of good society, she’d avoid magic like the plague. However, Kat has no intention of doing that – especially when there are highwaymen to fight and husbands to find for both of her older sisters!
A Most Improper Magick is book 1 in the series, so what else can we expect and when?!
There will be at least two more books in The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, coming out once a year. Book Two, A Tangle of Magicks, will take place in Regency Bath and involve scandalous rakes and wild magic.
To pick up on a current thread in our forum, if you could live with any literary character, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to live with Amelia Peabody (from CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK) – she’s smart, strong, supportive of other women, and always taking off on fabulous adventures in Victorian Egypt!
What do you love to do when you’re not writing?
I love to visit castles and historical museums, read books (of course!), and play with my wonderful toddler son.
Thanks, Steph. We will be bringing you our review of A Most Improper Magick soon…
Today we hear from Saxby Smart author, Simon Cheshire. We did hear from Saxby a few weeks ago – just click here to read his post.
Which books did you love when you were a child?
I think if I had to pick just one, it would be Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’. I read a lot of science fiction: if it had spaceships in it, I read it. And I loved Marvel Comics, too. The Spider-Man comics of the ’60s are still my favourites.
Your characters are often spies, detectives and crime busters – how do you think up the storylines?
There’s a quote from George Orwell on my website, about how writing a book can feel like a long bout of a painful illness. I know exactly what he meant. Each of the eight Saxby Smart books has been harder to write than the last. Storylines kind of evolve out of a weird mental soup, if that makes any sense at all!
If you had to choose, which of your characters would be your favourite and why?
I suppose it would have to be Saxby Smart, he’s sort of the kid I wish I’d been at that age. I was always the quiet kid at the back of the class who never spoke up, but Saxby is very self-confident. I guess he’s my alter ego. But there’s a character called Tom Bland, who appeared briefly in one of the Saxby stories, who’s getting his own book soon called “Pants On Fire”. I absolutely love Tom Bland – he’s a horrible snob, and totally self-deluded, and he’s a joy to write about. “Pants On Fire” is the funniest thing I’ve ever written, I think. It’ll be out in the next month or two.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m just putting the finishing touches to “Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook”, which is a non-fiction title all about the world of real-life crime and detection. That’ll be published in October.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to live in a world of your own, most of the time. Real life is over-rated, I prefer to retreat from it as much as possible. Of course, that’s also the worst thing about being a writer. You can drive yourself batty. I fell off the cliff into madness many years ago.
And finally, if you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Doctor Who. Last time they re-cast that role on TV, they missed me off the shortlist AGAIN! What are they PLAYING at?
Thanks, Simon. You can find out more by visiting Simon’s website here.
A couple of weeks ago, we brought you some great competitions to win Joshua Files books and goodies. Now, we hear from the author..
Who were your favourite authors when you were a child?
Richmal Crompton (Just William), CS Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia). E. Nesbit, Herge (Tintin), Goscinny and Uderzo (Asterix)
What inspired The Joshua Files?
When I first visited a ruined Mayan city as a teenager in Mexico, my father casually told me that the Mayans “believed the world would end in 2012″. I didn’t take it too seriously but I did think right away that it would make a great adventure story: a lost civilisation harbouring a secret about the date of the end of the world. So in 2005 when I started to think about writing for kids, I thought maybe that idea’s time had come.
Tell us about Joshua
Josh is thirteen at the beginning of his adventures. He was pretty happy with his life in Oxford until he found out that an ancient prophecy needs him to play a part in protecting an ancient book of knowledge about hwo to save the world in 2012. After that he has a lot of emotional issues to deal with – the death of his father, the passing of a huge responsibility onto his own shoulders, an arranged marriage that drives him crazy – until he realises he’s massively attracted to the girl. He’s brave and a little reckless but not a daredevil. He learns and uses a Brazilian martial art – capoeira, but secretly envies his cousin who pilots a super-whizzy aircraft.
What are you currently working on?
Something I call Ultra Secret New Project….
If you could go to any fictional place, where would it be?
The Havana of “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love”, for the music and the dancing.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Mixing cocktails and Cuban salsa dancing.
Thanks, MG. And working on something ultra secret – looking forward to finding out more about that! You can visit MG’s website here.
Today’s the last day of the brilliant competitions, so don’t miss out – click here for details.
Today we share with you our Q&A with Gillian Shields..
Who were your favourite authors as a child?
The usual suspects! I loved the Narnia books, and A Little Princess, and the wonderful E Nesbit books – my favourite was Harding’s Luck, which I found unbearably sad as well as funny and exciting. I also adored A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley which had a similar poignant, haunting atmosphere. But for jolly adventures nothing could beat Malory Towers by Enid Blyton and the Jill pony stories by Ruby Ferguson. I still have the battered copies of my childhood favourites on a bookshelf in the corner of my study!
You write for a wide range of age groups, what tempted you to do that?
I started writing picture book texts, encouraged by my great friend the illustrator Sarah Massini. My son was only four then so it seemed natural to write for very young children. I also have an older daughter though, and I have taught in a girls’ senior school, so I was keen to write something for teenage girls. It’s such a different challenge to write full length novels and not rely on fantastic illustrators to help the story along.
Of all of the characters you have created, if you had to choose, who would be your favourite?
In the Actual Real Reality of Jennifer James, I love Jennifer and there are lots of fun characters amongst her school mates and the celebrities who enter the reality TV show held at her school, like Jeremy Lurcher the disgraced MP and the glamour model Katie Spice. However, one of my favourites has to be Jennifer’s mum, Sheila. She is a militant feminist, and calls herself Jocasta and takes up all kinds of radical (and hopeless) good causes, but really she is a warm muddle of motherliness underneath it all, and desperate for her husband’s attention. She was great fun to create. I am also very happy with my picture book character DOGFISH, who is a goldfish who tries to please his little boy owner by acting like the dog that the boy really wants. It was exciting when we heard the CD version of DOGFISH being read by David Tennant – Dr Who reading my book! My children were actually quite impressed with me for a moment . . .
You have several titles coming out shortly – tell us a little about them.
WHEN THE WORLD IS READY FOR BED is for very young children. It’s a gentle goodnight lullaby with the most gorgeous illustrations by Anna Currey. She has turned the family in the story into irresistible bunny rabbits. A follow-up book about the arrival of a new baby (or bunny), WHEN THE WORLD WAS WAITING FOR YOU, is due out next year.
THE ACTUAL REAL REALITY OF JENNIFER JAMES is a send up of reality TV. Jennifer is a brainy girl whose mother Sheila/Jocasta (see above!) has banned all TV and popular culture from the house. Imagine her horror when Jennifer gets a place on a reality TV show, called DOWN THE BOG, in which celebrities attempt to become teachers in Jennifer’s ‘bog-standard’ comprehensive school. There is a prize for the most popular Celeb, and also a prize for the most popular student – an all expenses paid scholarship at a posh boarding school. Jennifer is desperate to win, but has to overcome the minor obstacle of being the Most Unpopular Girl in the School. The contestants get involved with fashion shows, camping trips, singing contests etc and much chaos and humiliation follows for poor Jennifer, only relieved by the hope that True Love might be just around the corner. It is written as Jennifer’s diary and was such fun to do, following her journey as she finds out where her heart really lies.
BETRAYAL is the sequel to IMMORTAL, part of a series of books for teenage girls set in a creepy gothic boarding school in the middle of the Yorkshire moors. The series (published by Harpercollins) revolves around four girls – three of them are friends at the school and one is the spirit of a Victorian girl who used to live there – who discover that they possess strange elemental powers. Some of the teachers at the school are part of an evil cult of Dark Sisters who are determined to gain immortal powers and destroy whatever stands in their way. It’s up to the four heroines to stop them . . . .
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished writing the third book in the series, ETERNAL. It will be published in 2011.
Aside from reading and writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love walking with my dog in the beautiful Sussex countryside around my home, and being with my friends and family. I am currently trying to learn Italian as my fantasy is to have a little tiny house on Sicily one day, with my very own lemon tree.
If you were to recommend a book(s)to get children hooked on reading, what would they be?
When my son was about six years old, his teacher read BEAVER TOWERS by Nigel Hinton in class and he loved it so much it really got him hooked on reading. My daughter preferred non-fiction reading, but she loved WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT by Judith Kerr, because she knew it was based on true events. And I was delighted to received letters from parents saying that my own series for young girls, MERMAID SOS, has turned their children onto reading, so I was very proud of that achievement!
Thanks very much, Gillian. We’ll soon be bringing you our review of Immortal and Betrayal, and a chance to win a signed copy of Immortal, so don’t miss that! In the meantime, all 3 of Gillian’s new books are in our shop now..
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Today we bring you our Q&A with Hayley Long and a chance to win a signed copy each of Lottie Biggs is Not Mad and Lottie Biggs is Not Desperate.
What book(s) did you love when you were a child?
Well, the short answer is all of them! I was always reading. I loved all of Enid Blyton’s adventure stories but I could also sit for ages looking at big non-fiction books about animals and history and… pretty much anything really. When I was very young, one of my favourite books was Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. The thought of being so flat that you could be put into an envelope and travel anywhere by post really appealed to me. Obviously, I wanted to see a bit of the world even when I was seven! When I was twelve, I read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ and I thought it was the funniest and most completely outrageous thing I’d ever read. I still think that book is totally brilliant and funny but I’m harder to shock nowadays.
What inspires you to write?
That’s a really difficult question. [Insert long pause] The truth is I’m not really sure. It’s a very solitary activity and I don’t really like too much of my own company. But I’ve always had this urge to write things down. I suppose it’s because it’s one of the few things I’m confident I can do well. At school I was very average at everything… except for English. So I like reading and I like writing. And it’s a way to reflect a little bit of how I see the world… the funny things I hear people say… how I feel about certain situations… the places I know well – all that kind of thing. I suppose it’s a way of being in control. Cripes, that’s deep, isn’t it? I’m starting to wig my own head out…
Tell us about Lottie Biggs
Hmmm…. What can I tell you about Lottie? She’s 15 (she had her 15th birthday during Lottie Biggs is Not Mad), she lives in Cardiff – which is the capital city of Wales, she’s got a completely brilliant best-friend called Goose and a great big hunk of chunk called Gareth for a boyfriend. She’s sweet, she’s funny, she’s bright; she likes orang-utans, chinchillas, marshmallows and the music of Jimi Hendrix. But the really tricky detail is that she suffers on and off from depression and this makes her sometimes very difficult to be around.
I made a deliberate decision to tackle this subject from the beginning. Mental illness is a very broad term and obviously it covers a huge spectrum of disorders and experiences – some much more serious than others. But one in four people are said to suffer from some form of mental health problem at some stage in their life. And some of these people are still only teenagers when they have to deal with this. I know because I’m a teacher and I’ve seen these kids dragging themselves through their school day and it’s a hard thing to watch. I suppose I just really wanted to write something which addresses this issue but not with the familiar hands-up-in-horror tone which often accompanies this subject. I want young people to think, ‘Ok, this doesn’t have to mean my life is messed up forever.’ Because it isn’t always like that. I’m really massively chuffed that Lottie Biggs is Not Desperate is currently longlisted for the 2010 Young Minds’ Book Award.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, I’ve only very recently finished a third Lottie Biggs book so I’ve been giving my brain a holiday. I find that I always need a bit of space between the end of one book and the beginning of another so that I can get some fresh ideas. I’m at the stage where I’m plotting out my next book and I can tell you that it WON’T INVOLVE LOTTIE this time. It will be something completely different involving a group of girls who live in North London. Some things will be the same though. I’m writing for the same audience and I intend to go for that mix of funny and serious again. I’m very excited about it!!!
If you could live with any fictional character, who would it be?
Hmmmm…. Well the immediate answer is James Bond – assuming that he looks exactly like Daniel Craig that is… but hang on… he’d be always standing me up, disappearing for months on end, seeing other women… and he kills people… so no… perhaps James isn’t a good idea. If I wasn’t already happily married, I’d be very pleased to live with Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ because he is a lovely, lovely man. And his children are completely gorgeous too – although Scout is a bit of a handful. But then again, I think I’d get really bored living in a small town in Alabama… so…..HENRY SUGAR… him of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.’ This would be perfect! In this story, Henry teaches himself to see through playing-cards and then travels all over the world, visiting casinos and winning massive fortunes which he donates to his charity for orphaned children. I would LOVE to travel all around the world, living in nice hotel rooms and winning large sums of money in different casinos. I’m less perfect than Henry so I’d keep a bit of it for myself if that’s ok. I actually think I’d be very happy following Henry around the world.
What 3 things couldn’t you live without?
A nice face cream.
Thanks, Hayley! Nice to see some interesting thought processes going into the fictional character question! If you’d like to find out more about Hayley, you can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter here.
We’ve added the Lottie Biggs books into our shop, but one of you can also win a signed set – lucky people! Just comment on this post, retweet it or Facebook ’like’ it to be entered into the draw. We’ll pick a winner at 8PM on Wednesday – good luck all!