Monday, 30 April 2012

Alexander Gordon Smith - The Fury Blog Tour - ( How Writing a Book Changes You)



It’s a real honour to be writing a guest post for Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books, thanks so much for having me!

I think writing has turned me into a nervous wreck. To be more specific, I think writing horror has turned me into a nervous wreck. I vividly remember the moment I had the first real glimpse of the idea for my new book, The Fury. I was walking through Norwich city centre, where I live, on a busy summer day. There were people everywhere, bustling in and out of the shops, clogging up the pavements, barging past each other and doing their best to knock me out with their bags. I was hot, and stressed, and irritable, and the combination of all those things introduced a notion into my head: what would I do if everyone around me suddenly tried to kill me?

The thought was so vivid that I instantly began to feel uneasy. The more I dwelled on this idea, the more nervous I began to feel. Were people starting to look at me strangely? Did I see lips pulled back over teeth, eyes burning with fury? I started searching for escape routes – which alleys would get me out of the city, where could I barricade myself if I was attacked, what could I use as a weapon? I quickstepped home, constantly looking over my shoulder, and can still recall the relief of walking through my front door and locking it behind me.

I went on to write the book based on this initial idea – what would happen if one day, without warning, the entire world tried to murder you (and only you) – and things only got worse after that. Now I’m always on edge, always waiting for the imminent attack, the screams and the howls and the thunder of charging feet, always working out how to survive. Living this story – and when you write a book you do live it, no question – has made me nervous, cautious, ready to fight or flee at the drop of a hat. Living this story has changed me as a person the same way it would have if the events of The Fury had actually been real.

It isn’t just The Fury, either, it’s every book I write. A while back I was sitting having dinner with some friends and one of them asked me if I was worried somebody was going to steal my food. Sure enough I was hunched over my plate, one arm curled protectively around it, my eyes those of a feral dog, my knife held in a white-knuckled fist. More startling still was the realisation that I was on edge, really on edge. I genuinely was worried that somebody was going to steal my dinner. I was ready to spring into action at any moment, either to defend my plate of pasta from attack or bolt from the room if things got too hot. 

I was in the middle of writing the Furnace books, and I was acting like I was one of the prisoners in the story. I walked around the streets permanently aware of what was going on in my peripheral vision, waiting for somebody to ambush me. I eyeballed people, too, letting them know that if they messed with me I wouldn’t go without a fight. I was angry, I was tense, I was afraid for my life, and those emotions had become so natural to me that I didn’t question them any more. It was just who I was, even though I’ve never been to prison in my life. And yet… I had been in prison, I’d been locked up for years. Not in a real place, but inside my head, inside Furnace.

I didn’t just want to write these stories, I wanted to live them. I didn’t plan anything, I just threw myself into those worlds and did my best to keep the characters alive. The writing process was intense, for weeks at a time I spent most of the day immersed in the story, buried beneath the ground in the hellhole of Furnace or in the abandoned theme park that forms the heart of The Fury. I was with the characters every second of their day, the ghost in the corner of the room, witnessing every chase, every confrontation, every fight. I was there.

The strange thing is that when I look back at the time I spent writing those books, I don’t remember a thing from my own life, not a single second. I couldn’t tell you one event or trip or conversation from that time. But I remember everything about the world of the story, every conversation that took place, every decision, every punch and kick and bite, every chase, every ache and pain, every meal, every trip to the toilet, every glance over my shoulder, every sickening moment of terror, everything! These are my memories, as real to me as anything that might have actually happened, certainly no different to any memory I have of real life. I wonder sometimes if I can always tell the difference between them.

Writing is a transformative experience, it changes us in so many different ways. I am not the same person I was before I started writing, because those fictional encounters and activities were so real to me that they now form a part of my psyche, they have helped make me me the same way a genuine experience would. I still find myself on edge in crowds, I still make eye contact with strangers in the street in a confrontational way and plan escape routes wherever I go (it’s the first thing I do when I walk into a room). But it goes deeper than that. I think it has made me braver too, because I’ve seen so much bullying, so much injustice, so much violence and death – all in the books – that I feel more confident about standing up to people. I often find myself thinking that if I could survive inside Furnace and in the world of The Fury, which I did, then nothing can really hurt me.

It sounds like a total fiction, but you hear stories about this sort of thing. There was one recently about an experiment where people made their muscles grow simply by thinking about working out (although this method really hasn’t helped me lose any weight). If what we are is the sum total of all our experiences, then who’s to say fictional experiences count for any less? I spoke to some writer friends about this (mainly to make sure I wasn’t crazy), and a few admitted to feeling the same way. Writing has changed them, because they were so involved in the world of their characters that they feel as though they have lived through those experiences too, not just on the page but in the flesh. It’s a great example of how powerful the mind is, and what an amazing tool for therapy writing can be.

There’s a (as far as I know unattributed) quote that goes, “Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” The same is true of writing, because in creating a character you create a life, one that you cannot help but share. You experience that life alongside your heroes, your villains, you learn with them, fight with them, grow with them, and when all is said and done you carry that life with you as part of your own. For better or worse, at the end of a book you are a different person.

Thanks for reading!!
I've been looking forward to reading this post whilst at work today. Having just got in and read it, I am delighted to have such a personally written blog to share with you all. Thank you to Alexander for giving such a great insight into his life and writing. I'm sure that this post will encourage many more readers to   read 'The Fury'. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

New Children's Books: Published In May 2012 - Post Two


                                        


Lucy Jones - The Nightmare Factory -  Published by Orchard Books -  3 May 2012

There's a secret you need to know.
A secret about how nightmares are made.
Welcome to the Nightmare Factory. 

When Andrew Lake and his twin sister Poppy are stolen from their dreams, they find themselves trapped in a strange realm parallel to our own. There, the evil Vesuvius rules over the Nightmare Factory with his army of Shadowmares, extracting fear from children to create nightmares all over the world. But Vesuvius wants more. He wants power. He wants Andrew...

A thrilling adventure story that will leave you gasping for more: compelling, exciting...and just a little bit scary...
book cover of 

1.4 

 (0.4, book 2)

by

Mike Lancaster
                                        
Mike Lancaster - 1.4 - Published by Egmont Books - 7 May 2012
It's a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe...Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father - David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world's crops - made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it's not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

book cover of 

A Face Like Glass 

by

Frances Hardinge
                                                           
Frances Hardinge - A Face Like Glass - Published by Macmillan Children's Books -  10 May 2012

In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear - at a price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .
book cover of 

Spy Another Day 

 (Movie Maniacs , book 2)

by

Philip Caveney
                                             
Philip Caveney - Spy Another Dat (Movie Maniacs) - Published by Andersen 3 May 2012
After the thrills and spills of his adventure on Terror Island, Kip is reluctant to allow Mr Lazarus to send him into another movie - but Beth has other ideas, particularly when she discovers The Paramount Picture Palace is planning to show the latest film in the Jason Corder series, Spy Another Day. Its star, Daniel Crag, has always been Beth's favourite screen actor. When Mr Lazarus asks her to obtain Corder's ID card, she agrees to go in and Kip feels duty-bound to accompany her. But what should have proved a simple visit ends in disaster when Kip and Beth are separated and find themselves in different parts of the same film. Can they find their way through all the dangers of a spy movie and defeat the evil genius, Doctor Leo Kasabian, before the final credits roll and they are trapped there . . . forever?

book cover of 

Haunters 

by

Thomas Taylor
                                   
Thomas Taylor - Haunters - Published by Chicken House -  24 May 2012


Eddie, Adam and David have the same gift. Separated by generations, they are linked by their ability to time-travel. Using their dreams, they can appear like ghosts, wherever and whenever they want. The first is the genius who discovers dreamwalking. The second is a Haunter, a dream-terrorist, determined to change history foris own ends. The last is the novice dreamwalker who must battle to save his family, and himself, from oblivion.
                                                   

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

New Children's Books: Published In May 2012 - Post One

                                 
Rick Riordan - The Kane Chronicles: The Serpent's Shadow - Published by Puffin - 1 May 2012
CARTER AND SADIE KANE, descendants of the magical House of Life, are in pretty big trouble.
Despite their bravest efforts, Apophis, the giant snake of Chaos, is still threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness. Now the Kanes must do something no magician has ever managed - defeat Apophis himself. No pressure there then.
Battling against the forces of Chaos, their only hope is an ancient spell - but the magic has been lost for a millennia. Will they find the serpent's shadow, or will they be led to their deaths in the depths of the Underworld?

                                 
Tiger Wars (The Tiger Wars)
Steve Backshall - Tiger Wars ( The Tiger Wars) - Published By Orion Children's - 1 May 2012
Saker is a member of the Clan, a clandestine group offering child renegades for hire to the highest bidder. The Clan are like brothers, but once you're a member you can never leave - ever. Each member of the Clan has their own animal identity and corresponding tattoo, each is an expert in jungle law, survival and the ways of animals in order to make them better spies, thieves or assassins. Saker's latest assignment takes him to India to bring down the men who protect tigers. He's being employed by a Chinese overlord who specialises in poaching for tiger farms and tiger organs for high priced medicines. But something happens to make Saker change sides and now he's on the run from his predatory brothers. They're hunting him down and they're professionals. He meets fifteen year old Sinter, a spoiled rich girl, who is running away from an arranged marriage, and their uneasy friendship will eventually form an unshakeable bond, as together they face adventure and danger as two young eco-warriors in a truly threatening world. In the spirit of Willard Price for today's readers, Tiger Wars is the first in DEADLY presenter Steve Backshall's high-octane adventure series, The Falcon Chronicles, which introduces Saker and Sinter on a quest to right some of the horrific wrongs perpetrated against wildlife around the planet. As they rescue tigers or mountain gorillas, thwart shark finners and cyanide fishers, rainforest exploiters and canned hunters, they come face to face with the world's most fascinating, majestic and lethal creatures.

book cover of 

The Drowned Cities 

 (Ship Breaker, book 2)

by

Paolo Bacigalupi
                                            
Paolo Bacigalupi - The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker) - Published by Atom - 1 May 2012
In this exhilarating companion to Printz Award winner and National Book Award finalist Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi brilliantly captures a dark future America that has devolved into unending civil wars, driven by demagogues who recruit children to become soulless killing machines. Two refugees of these wars, Mahlia and Mouse, are known as 'war maggots': survivors who have barely managed to escape the unspeakable violence plaguing the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities. But their fragile safety is threatened when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool, who is hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers. When tragedy strikes, Mahlia is faced with an impossible decision: risk everything to save the boy who once saved her, or flee to her own safety. Drawing upon the brutal truths of current events, The Drowned Cities is a powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.
book cover of 

The Power of Three 

 (Secret Breakers, book 1)

by

H L Dennis
                                     
H. L. Dennis - The Power of Three (Secret Breakers) - Published by Hodder Chilldren's - May 2012
Introducing an extraordinary series with real codes, real mysteries and real danger. A Da Vinci Code for kids ...Imagine the chance to solve the Voynich Manuscript - a puzzle that has truly defeated adults for centuries.
It's an ancient manuscript no one has ever been able to decipher. And there are Rules that say it is forbidden to even try to solve it.
A secret hidden for centuries. 
But Brodie Bray likes a challenge, and when she receives a coded message through the post her life changes for ever. She's chosen for a secret team working to crack this most complicated code in the world to uncover the secret it hides.
But it's a code that has driven people mad trying to solve it.
Together with her new friends, Brodie must break the rules to break the code, at every turn facing terrible danger. For someone is watching them - and will even kill to stop them.


In this original new series, three children tackle real unsolved mysteries and struggle with real unbroken codes to get to the hidden truth.




Monday, 23 April 2012

Jennifer Bosworth - Struck - Book Synopsis and Trailer



  • Got this in the post some time ago. Not sure it's my kind of book really. After watching the amazing book trailer for it,I might give it a read. Have a watch and let me know what you think....

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Childrens (26 April 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 085753095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857530950


Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.
Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.







Jon Mayhew - The Bonehill Curse - Book Review


book cover of 

The Bonehill Curse 

 (Mortlock, book 3)

by

Jon Mayhew
                            
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (10 May 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1408803976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408803974

I was really looking forward to reading Jon's third published book - I had great expectations for it. The theme really appealed to me; a twisted story of evil Djinns. However, in this case, there was only one - which was a really great shame.

The story is partially set within Victorian London time, with some mad and typically English eccentric characters, but unfortunately they were described rather vaguely which didn't really do them any justice in my opinion. However, the story also takes you on a magic carpet ride to a strange place depicted as a twisted version of the Garden of Eden which I thought was a great idea. In fact, this second setting really gave a little bit of magic to the adventure. 

I really loved the storyline of this book - it was very enjoyable, although it did seem rather short to me. I found myself on page one and then, before I knew it, the book was finished. It's not short on pages, so what happened?
 
Unfortunately I found the darker side of this book to be disappointing. Compared to Jon's previous books, I felt there wasn't enough detail within the important sections, it just didn't have that punchy edge. Zaakiel, the Djinn in the book, although evil and driven by revenge; he just lacked a certain trait. Perhaps I wanted a nastier streak to be injected into the character in order to drive his soul. Perhaps I needed his personality to be larger and to have a stronger connection and dialogue with the other characters. Perhaps this would have enhanced his character and given a little more life to the plot.

The Pestilents, ragged infected humans controlled by Zaakiel, again I felt didn't reach their full potential. I really wanted to be immersed in a full battle scene, but unfortunately we seemed to skip over much of this and I really would have loved to have read more. However the main character in the book, Necessity BoneHill, did gain more page space and as a result was written particularly well and was totally likeable. 

I did enjoy many aspects of this book - some parts were highly original. Its vibrant and energetic pace tells a fantastic story. I would still recommend everyone to read this book as I know that my thoughts and opinions are very much focused on what I like and, as a result, are very often different to what other people like. Therefore, I'd love to hear what you all think - were my expectations too high? Am I alone in these thoughts?



Thursday, 19 April 2012

Scottish Book Trust:David Walliams Online Author Event



You have seen him on your TV, now watch him on your computer! Multi-talented funny man David Walliams will be talking about his hilarious new book Gangsta Granny. Guaranteed to cause an epidemic of smiles to breakout across the UK.

The event will be streamed live to audiences across the UK at 11am on Thursday, 10th May. It will then become available to watch again for free by Thursday, 17th May for everyone worldwide!

Your readers can join tens of thousands of pupils across the UK watching the event live.

Parents, readers and fans of David can watch the event by going directly to the BBC website at 11am on Thursday, 10th May:http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/learning/authorslive/

Or, if you are a teacher, you can register your entire class by following this link: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/authors-live/david-walliams

If you can’t make the live broadcast the entire event can be downloaded or streamed for free from Thursday, 17th May here:http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/authors-live/david-walliams

We are really looking forward to this event: David Walliams is a brilliant entertainer and this promises to be a fantastic event.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Alexander Gordon Smith - The Fury Blog Tour & Trailer Competition


CALLING ALL ASPIRING YOUNG FILMMAKERS!!

A brand new competition from THE SPARK  HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.co.uk/thesparkpage" www.facebook.co.uk/thesparkpage, Faber’s new online community aimed at creative 13 – 18 year-olds. 

THE FURY is a brand new YA thriller from Alexander Gordon Smith, about what would happen if, without warning, the whole world tried to kill you. It’s a non-stop, rollercoaster ride of excitement, mystery and supernatural terror – and we giving YOU the chance to create the trailer for it!   

If you’re between the ages of 13 and 18 and fancy trying your hand at filmmaking, all you need to do is send us a script and storyboard for the trailer of THE FURY, by 2 July. You don’t need filmmaking experience or equipment – if your script is selected in our top five you’ll win a Flip camera with which to bring your trailer to life!

Finally, the filmmaker behind the best of those five trailers will win a £500 Apple Store voucher and see their film used worldwide as the official trailer for the book.
Go to the competition page  HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/stayfurious" http://www.facebook.com/stayfurious to find out more about the book, how to enter and tips on how to write the storyboard for your book trailer. Closing date Monday 2nd July 2012. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Highlight: Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil - Black Arts

book cover of 

Black Arts 

The Books of Pandemonium 

by

Andrew Prentice and 

Jonathan Weil        
                                    

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (5 Apr 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0385615132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385615136



Jack walked slowly across the court. Already his heart was beginning to thud. He looked back as he was lifting the mat of ivy that hid the opening in the wall. His ma was standing at the door, watching him.

'I'll be back before sundown, then,' said Jack.
'And what else?'

She said it every day, before letting him go. The answer came on its own, like a ritual.

'Watch my back.'
'Never forget it, Jack,' she said. 'Stay sharp. Stand the test, and don't be afraid.'

They were the last words she ever spoke to him.

Elizabethan London is a filthy, dangerous city ruled by criminals. After his mother is murdered, Jack seeks refuge with a notorious gang of offenders, led by Mister Sharkwell. Offering his services as a thief, Jack earns his keep. But when the 'Judicious Nipper' picks the wrong pocket at the Globe Theatre, he uncovers another side of London altogether - a city pulsing with magic and haunted by demons.

As an outbreak of devil-worship is publicised, Londoners' hatred mounts in retaliation - forcing bewildered Jack into pursuing the truth in secret. The Elect - a band of Puritans preaching against witchcraft, magic and devilry - spearhead the city's anti-witch fervour, led by the charismatic Nicholas Webb. A growing power at Court, rumour has it that the preacher wants to purge the city entirely and build a New Jerusalem. But Jack suspects Webb - not least of killing his ma.

This atmospheric, action-packed story is the debut in an original series from talented and highly inventive duo, Prentice & Weil



Darren Shan - ZOM-B - Book Cover Reveal - Simon and Schuster


Hi guys!

We revealed the cover for Darren Shan’s ZOM-B today on our London Book Fair and I wanted you guys to see it in all its glory… please do let me know what you think, we’re really excited about it! - (Brilliant Book Cover - I love it!)

Try not to have nightmares!! ZOM-B is out on 27th September 2012 and is the first in a 12-part serial, with books publishing every three months until 2015.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Preview - Laura Powell - Burn Mark - Bloomsbury






By Laura Powell
Publisher:Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 7th June 2012
Price: £6.99

Preview:

The walls of the Burning Court were high and white-tiled, its ceiling one giant chimney. If the young witch at the stake had been able to look up the funnel, she might have glimpsed a distant pane of sky.
Instead, she stared ahead. There was a glass panel in front of her, and the shadowy shapes of the inquisitors behind. One of them would have his hand on the switch, ready to light the fuse.

She couldn’t speak or move. Her body had been frozen rigid by the drug they’d given her so that she would be numb and immobile throughout her execution. Her reflec- tion in the glass was calm. Everything was quiet and orderly, exactly as it should be.

In which case . . . should she be aware of the coarse material of her prison shift, or sense the chill coming off the shining tiles? Propped up in the centre of the pyre, she was newly conscious of the weight of its wood.
The witch’s heart began to stammer. This wasn’t right. Something must have gone wrong. The drug wasn’t working properly. She had to let them know before it started. She had to tell them, she had to explain –

But her tongue didn’t move. Her eyes were locked open, her mouth was locked shut. The fear was suffocating, but she couldn’t gasp for breath. Her face in the glass gazed peacefully back, while every nerve, every muscle, every pulse of her heart and brain screamed STOP.


The wood sparked.

No, wait, please wait –

A thin yellow flame wriggled into life, then danced upwards. Smoke rose with it. Heat blossomed, intensified.
Behind the blurred glass, the unseen audience was waiting.
Somebodyhelpmeohgodpleasestopstopstop
Tendrils and coils of fire. Her eyes stung from its smoke. Her pale hair was already rippling into flames. At any second they would be eating into her flesh. She was screaming and screaming now, soundlessly –


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Burn Mark is the first of a captivating new series of thrillers with a fantasy twist. In a world where witches are the persecuted underclass and inquisitors the ruling power, a shared destiny forges an unlikely alliance between the children of two ancient enemies.

Glory is from a family of East End witches that was once feared and respected. She is desperate to become a witch herself and restore their reputation. Lucas is the privileged son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition, the witches' mortal enemy. Becoming a witch is the worst thing that could happen to him, but it does, and on the same day it happens to Glory. The unlikely allies must overcome their differences as they are thrown into the centre of a conspiracy that could destroy their lives.

Think Witch Child meets The Sopranos meets Spooks and you have a flavour of what this incredible book is all about. Laura Powell has used her extensive research into the history of witchcraft to create a convincing alternate world where mortals and witches coexist. This is a truly impressive novel from a talented writer new to the Bloomsbury list.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

WINNER OF THE TIMES/CHICKEN HOUSE CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION 2012! - FLETCHER MOSS



                              
YA writer. 1st novel, a car-crash. 2nd novel, a train-wreck. This novel - winner of The Times/Chicken House children's book competition 2012. (In his own words.)



About Sleepwell and Fly

Sleepwell and Fly’, is an adventure set in a thrilling fantasy world populated by bandits, pistol-bearing brawlers and poisonboys. Highlions is a city of shadows; a smuggler’s den of secret passageways, flooded cellars and moonlit rooftops. Making a tenuous living in these lawless streets are Sal Sleepwell and Dalton Fly, teenage poisonboys – orphaned food-tasters for the idle rich, and principal members of a threadbare team of homeless children, Oscar’s Honest Dozen (“antidote and food tasting for the people of Highlions”). 

Read more here Here

A panel of distinguished judges – all key figures in the field of children’s literature – were unanimous in their decision, despite the strength of this year’s shortlist. The Times children’s literary critic and competition judge, Amanda Craig, described Moss’ novel as ‘oozing raw talent’, while fellow judge, and bestselling children’s author, Michelle Paver, loved the novel’s ‘visceral style’ and the ‘utterly believable friendship between the two food tasters’.

Writing under the pseudonym Fletcher Moss (in tribute to an Alderman of the city of Manchester), the busy assistant headteacher of a large state secondary school is thrilled to have made an important step towards joining the ranks of his literary heroes.
Moss is now set to work with the Chicken House editorial team, including Barry Cunningham, to turn the raw manuscript into what promises to be a remarkably exciting and original debut novel. The competition was set up in order to give promising new writers a chance at having, as Barry Cunningham himself says, ‘the career they thought was impossible’. Something he did for J.K. Rowling when he gave Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone its big break. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Kieran Larwood - Freaks - Guest Post - Chicken House



Chicken House have some fantastic emerging debut authors releasing their very first books this year. One such author is Kieran, a reception class teacher, who manages to find time to write stories late at night. I'd like to thank him for writing this post. 
Whilst I haven't had time to read this book myself yet, I have managed to find a great introduction to "Freaks". I hope that you all agree that it sounds like a particularly great read. If it grabs your attention, like it did mine, then go and grab yourself a copy to read. I'll be reaching for a copy very soon . . . . . . 


‘Freaks’ is a mystery thriller set in the crusty depths of a very unpleasant Victorian London, but it was very nearly something completely different.  About five years ago, when I first started having a serious crack at writing a novel, it was a story about a crew of aliens on a spaceship.  That book fizzled out after three unimpressive chapters, but something about the strange characters and the way they interacted refused to get out of my head.
I wanted to write more about them, but had to come up with a setting that would work.  It was very late one night when I had the idea of a Victorian freakshow.
After that, the characters themselves came really quickly, but I found I had lots of research to do.  I started wading through reams of Victorian history texts and gradually filling up several notebooks.  It was like History A-level all over again.
I soon found out that the real Victorian London was nothing like the image we all have of top hats and hansom cabs rattling past Big Ben, while Oliver Twist-like orphans skip around finding their fortune.  Even though Dickens showed a glimpse of the shady side, life for the less fortunate citizens was bordering on horrific.
There was disease and crime everywhere.  People starved, children were enslaved and mistreated, hygiene was non-existent, and the sheer stench of the place was enough to actually stop parliament on one occasion.
Even though it must have been a terrible place to live, I soon realised it would make an excellent setting for a story.  I put my Freaks right at the bottom of the social ladder, where they could see, feel and smell the grime first hand.
At first I had them battling supernatural monsters.  I spent a few years sending drafts of that story off to agents, and re-writing it several times, before I eventually entered it for the 2011 Times/Chicken House competition.
Somehow, it won, and my prize was to finally be published-but not before fitting in another couple of re-writes and changing the story from horror to thriller.  I had to trim a couple of my Freaks along the way, but most of them made it intact, and the book is being released this April.
It’s been five years of very hard work, squeezed in around my day job and family.  I daren’t even try to count the hundreds of sleepless hours that have gone into it, but it has been a real pleasure to write.  I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Garth Nix - A Confusion Princes - Book Review


book cover of 

A Confusion of Princes 

by

Garth Nix
                                    

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (17 May 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0007298358
  • Age: 13+

It has been such a long time since I picked up my very first Garth Nix book and read it. In fact venturing back to 2001 was when I first found myself holding the US proof in my hands. Interestingly, this had a much better book cover than the UK version, in my opinion. Nevertheless, as soon as  I had finished reading it, I was amazed as it was brilliant - such a great book. Even today, I still love to think about the story and the different characters. This book turned me into such a big fan that I've just about loved and collected most of Garth Nix's other books - Shade's Children being another one of my personal favourites.

When I first received this book, I was very excited for two reasons. Firstly, it was a sci-fi book written by Garth Nix for older readers (or more precisely teenagers). Secondly, the blurb on back was perfectly written to entice my reading appetite. To be honest, not many good books have been written, or published in recent times with either of these aspects in mind.


A major standalone space opera, this is Garth Nix’s first novel for older readers since the conclusion of the Old Kingdom trilogy… and it’s worth the wait.

A grand adventure that spans galaxies and lifetimes, A Confusion of Princes is also a page-turning action adventure.

These are the three deaths of Prince Khemri. Told in his own words, we follow him as he trains to become a Prince of the Empire, an enhanced human being, equipped with biological and technological improvements that make him faster, stronger and smarter than any ordinary person. Not to mention the ultimate benefit: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…
Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are a million princes, and all of them want each other dead, because there can only be one Emperor…

So, was it a page turner? Definitely, yes - the beginning of the book was packed full of information. Although, at times, this perhaps slowed down the start as there was a lot of explanation required to describe the technical, scientific and historical aspects. Especially in order to help you develop a better grasp of both the story and the characters. However, once this was established, the story flowed like a well oiled machine with Bitek ,Mektek, and any other imperial technology that you can find.

This is another book that I'm sure to look back on in years to come - it's a brilliantly engaging read that I really loved. Garth writes about a fantastical world that takes you on a journey through the galaxy, but all the time with a take on a advanced life of the future. Told through the eyes of Prince Khemri - emotionless and almost robotic. That is until the very end, when the story takes you on a galactic voyage of discovery which is told in a very poignant way.

This book is brimming full of space action - like you would see on Star Trek, or something of that nature. Although this is much better. In fact it would be great to see this as a mini TV series; I think it would be fantastic to watch, providing it was produced correctly of course.

I'm not actually sure if there will be any more books to come from Garth. Although it really would be a shame as he has started something that I would really love to continue to follow. This is fantastic entertainment; YA at it's best. Buy, beg or borrow this book, but make sure you read it. This is easily one of the best reads of the year.