- Whippoorwill Lane is your first venture into children's books, what was your intention when you started to write this book?
Tuesday, 9 August 2022
Friday, 5 August 2022
A. F. Harrold (Author), Levi Pinfold (Illustrator) - The Worlds We Leave Behind - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (4 Aug. 2022) -
Simon Fox - Running out of Time - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (4 Aug. 2022) -
Monday, 1 August 2022
Sunday, 24 July 2022
- City of Rust is a very intriguing title. How would you best describe the book to potential new readers?
City of Rust is a nail-biting sci-fi mystery adventure, set in a city built entirely out of junk called Boxville. There’s drone racing, bio robotic animals, Sphereships, mechanical bounty hunters, and terrifying junker clans ruling the skies. Phew!
- What would you like readers to understand from this book; is there an important message behind the story you would like readers to pick up on?
Apart from having a load of fun reading it, I’d love readers to understand that the book is inspired by the rubbish problem we have on Earth. I really struggle with the fact we have (nearly) driverless cars now, but still struggle to recycle our waste. It’s nuts!
- I love the book cover for City of Rust. What do you think and how does it illustrate the story inside?
Oh I love the cover! It’s by Karl James Mountford, who’s a bit of a legend anyway, but I think he really knocked it out of the park with this one!
A lot of people think the book has a steampunk vibe after looking at the cover (I think it’s the rusty colours). It does have a few steampunky traits, but it’s really not that kind of world at all. Blade Runner meets Wall E meets Star Wars!
- Are there any movies you think might have influenced the book and would we pick up on any of these references through the story?
STAR WARS. STAR WARS. STAR WARS.
- When did you get the first idea for this book and has the journey taken you to any unexpected places?
I read an article about the space debris problem (there are 180 million pieces of space waste in orbit around the Earth right now and counting), did a big groan about the state of humanity, and then an image of a space junkyard popped into my head that was too cool to ignore!
- Have you had any personal conversations with the characters in the book?
I wouldn’t say I have conversations with them, they sort of talk at me and I write it down. It doesn’t feel like it comes from me at all. Which sounds crazy but it’s just the way it works!
Now the book is written it’s like having a group of friends that you miss hanging out with, I find myself thinking ‘Atti would love this’ or ‘If Railey were here she’d have fixed that already’, things like that.
- Can you tell us about any writing projects you are working on at the moment?
City of Rust has been selected for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, which has a Gadgeteers theme, so I’m working on updating my website with some bits and bobs to go with that over the summer.
I’m currently working on a new book that features a Cornish pasty that can predict the future. That’s all I will say for now! Ha.
- What question were you hoping to be asked and why?
Ok. I’m a weird fact machine (I bore people with my facts on a daily basis), so here are some Gross but True facts I learned whilst researching City of Rust-
- There are hundreds of weebergs, made of frozen astronaut wee flying above our heads in orbit right now. Gross!
- Gecko’s will drop, and then eat, their own tails if there isn’t enough food around (don’t worry, Atti doesn’t do this in the book). Ew!
- The reason the residents of Boxville live on sugary snacks and drinks (Floss and Pop), is that sugar, in its purest form, doesn’t grow bacteria, and can still be eaten years and sometimes decades, after its best before date. Blugh.
Friday, 22 July 2022
Allan Boroughs - The After School Detective Club Series (Q&A Interview) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #32
Today we have another cracking interview with our good friend Allan Boroughs. One of his recent projects is co-writing a new detective series with fellow author Mark Dawson. The first two books have been published this year with Welbeck Flame whilst another book is due to be published in Jan 2023 entitled The Mystery in the Marshes. All the books are illustrated by the talented illustrator Ben Mantle. So, it's time to be transported back to your eight-year-old self where you'll have the power of seeing the world in a fresh and unique way whilst playing the drums. Have a great day and weekend! You can buy it HERE.
- You have just written a new series of books with Mark Dawson, how did that come about and what can we expect in the series?
I knew of Mark from his adult thrillers and his work in the independent publishing space. A friend of mine called me one day and said he’d seen a post from Mark saying he was looking for a children’s writer to collaborate on a new series. I got in touch and we got talking, I followed him home a few times, leapt out of dark alleyways, super-glued myself to his car etc and eventually he agreed to work with me. It was a natural fit really.
The After-School Detective Club involves a group of friends (Max, Charlie, Joe and Lucy and their faithful dog, Sherlock) as they solve crimes and mysteries in and around their home town of Southwold.
Mark and I both agreed early on that we wanted the series to evoke the stories we loved as kids such as the Famous Five and Just William stories. However, the world has moved on quite a bit since Enid Blyton’s days so we also wanted stories that were based in the modern world where the gang have to deal with modern criminals as well as tackling real-world problems like difficult parents, bullies and schoolwork.
Mostly, the stories are about the value of true friendship and how everyone has something to offer, however much of an outsider they feel.
- What makes the After-School Detective Club so special for the characters and how did they all get involved?
We thought a lot about the characters at the outset and deliberately made them as different as possible in terms of personality, interests and backgrounds. They are all thrown together by chance, one evening in Southwold and, at first, they don’t get on particularly well. However they become firm friends when they are placed in a dangerous situation and have to rely on each other to save themselves.
Creating very different personalities gave us a lot of opportunity for humour, disagreements and for each member of the gang to bring unique skills to each adventure. Like all the best gangs, they also have their own hideout – no spoilers but they think it’s ‘the best place in the world’.
- What is the process like when you co-write a series and do you both agree on everything that happens in the plot and book?
As with all the best collaborations there is some tension in the process – some things we agreed on straight away, others we went backwards and forwards on until we found something we both liked. We spent the most time thinking about the location, the characters and how they would work together before we really thought about the story. Once we’d got the chemistry right between the main characters, the stories really took care of themselves.
Having someone else to work with on a story is great. When you think about it, most modern films and TV shows are written by teams of people. By comparison, the idea of a lone author, sitting at home and writing entirely by themselves is a little strange.
- The second book entitled The Secret of Ragnar's Gold will be published at the end of June (2022); will this book work well as a standalone read or do you think there is a need to read it in a sequence for it to be fully understood and enjoyed?
The stories are all standalone adventures so you can read them in any order you like. At the same time, there are some characters that turn up in different stories and the relationships between the gang develop over time so I think readers will get more out of them if they read them in order.
- Ben Mantle has illustrated both book covers in the series, do you think a good cover can help readers to select and identify a book they would like to read purely on its aesthetics?
Ben is my hero. He not only did the covers but all the interior illustrations as well and his artwork really brought the books to life. The first time I saw his sketches I laughed myself silly – he captured the characters perfectly and drew them with such humour that it was like seeing the story for the first time.
A good cover is an essential part of the package in any book and this is particularly true for children’s books. A great cover can really help a young reader to start to visualise the story before they have read the first page. When it is so critically important to encourage children to read at an early page – a great illustrator and a classic cover are indispensable.
- What project are you working on at the moment?
The After-School Detective Club is progressing rapidly and I am currently working on Book 5 in the series. No spoilers but my story research included a trip to Ireland as well as googling the question “can you put a dog through an airport scanner”.
Apart from that I am also finding a bit of spare time to finish Book 3 in my own kids’ sci-fi detective series, Starless and Black, and I’m learning how to play the drums. The books are going well – the drums, not so much.
- Which books do you read for pleasure?
I love reading and devour as many books as my spare time will allow although my reading choices can be a little eclectic. Favourite reads include the Laidlaw detective series by William Mackilvanney; classic sci-fi/speculative fiction by William Gibson, Ursula Le Guin and Margaret Atwood, spy novels by Le Carre and anything and everything by Neil Gaiman.
My current read is ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (honestly) which I am re-reading for probably about the twentieth time. It is funny, sad, endearing and a perfect example of how a well-crafted children’s book can tell us fundamental truths about the way the world works.
- What question would your younger self ask your older self and what would be your answer to this?
Eight-year-old me would probably want to know how much I earn – which as any children’s writer will tell you is one of the questions they get asked most often on school visits.
Much-older me would probably say something like – don’t even think about how much money you’re going to make from writing – if you want to make money, start a business or go and work in a bank or something. But if you want to be a writer, then do it because if there is just the tiniest chance that someone will read something you’ve written and it makes them laugh or cry or think about the world in a different way then, that is worth more than any amount of money.
Oh, and by the way, eight-year-old me – don’t ever stop thinking like an eight-year-old because it’s the one time when you have the most amazing original thoughts about the world that are entirely yours. As you get older, other people’s ideas will crowd in on your own until you’ve forgotten which ideas are yours and which are just something you read somewhere.
I think eight-year-old people are the ones most likely to see the world in a fresh and original way – we should put them in charge.
Wednesday, 20 July 2022
Loris Owen - The Myriad Mysteries of Eartha Quicksmith (BK2) - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books
Hello everybody - we hope you are managing to keep cool this week! One of our favourite books of July 2022 has to be the epic and thrilling second book in the QUICKSMITH series by Loris Owen. The book has been published by Firefly Press Ltd and has a cracking book cover image. I think this is by Anne Glenn but unfortunately, I cannot find any information in the book to back this up.
New readers might not instantly realise that this is the follow-up book to The Ten Riddles of Earth Quicksmith. It's not essential that you start at the beginning of the series as it is possible to read this as a standalone story. However, I would personally recommend reading the series in sequence as the back history is such an important aspect of the book to understand the complexity of the plot. It will certainly help you to understand more within the second book.
Currently, there are so many books being published that the choice is vast and somewhat challenging in being able to find a great read. However, this author (Loris Owen) has a fantastic vision of the world she has created; it's magical and easily grips the reader by transporting you to the world of fantasy and mayhem. The storyline is like no other book. It's a quest full of well-imagined sequences and ideas that are told with so much depth and detail. The plot allows you to explore with the characters as you follow the clues and decipher new riddles to solve the mystery as well as defeat old enemies.
It's a fast-paced full of action-adventure with some rather big surprises along the way. The storyline stretches the imagination like an elastic band propelling the reader on a great fantasy ride full of fun and enjoyment. It's a really great sequel that takes you further into a creative world of discovery that is unlike any book I have read for some time. Packed with inventions, teamwork, and gadgets that will have you scratching your head, it's time to travel the Myriad waves and find where the CRAZY PAVING might be.
Be BOLD and be brave as you travel through space and time with Kip and his friends to a strange world. The places are so bizarre, with creatures and technology so unfathomable, that you might JUST need a helping of sideways thinking. The book is layered with a strange energy that will set your teeth tingling and your toes tapping as you evade capture by the Myriad Pirates. The secrets of the Ark hold the key but a freak accident will just nicely set you up for a quest that will have you wanting more. If this sounds like your type of book strap yourself in, come and DREAM BIG for the time of your life with our recommended book of the month. You can buy HERE.
Sunday, 17 July 2022
Right from the start, I planned this book as the first in a series, and I had the rough shape of what follows from the off. The plot of this book is only an opening skirmish.
I've learnt a lot. Working with my agent to send this book off to publishers and now working with my editor has been an invaluable experience. They’ve been brilliant at probing the story, getting me to check and cover the details and think through all the angles. Hopefully, I've put these lessons into practice while writing the second book in the series (just finishing this off now), and then it’s time to have another go with the third book, which I need to start writing any day now.