Sunday, 18 September 2022

The Best Children's US Book Picks September 2022 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Lindsay Currie - The Girl in White - Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728236544 - Hardback - Age: 8+

Mallory hasn't quite adapted to life in her new town of Eastport yet. Maybe it's because everyone is obsessed with keeping the town's reputation as the most cursed town in the US.

And thanks to the nightmares she's had since arriving, Mallory hardly sleeps. Combined with the unsettling sensation of being watched, she's quickly becoming convinced there's more to her town. Something darker.

When Mallory has a terrifying encounter with the same old woman from her dreams, she knows she has to do something―but what? With Eastport gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of their first recorded legend Mallory is forced to investigate the one legend she's always secretly been afraid of . . . Sweet Molly.


Colin Meloy - The Stars Did Wander Darkling - Published by ‎ Balzer + Bray (September 13, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063015517 - Hardback - Age: 8+ 

A suspenseful and atmospheric horror set in 1980s Oregon, perfect for fans of Stranger Things, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Peterson Haddix, from New York Times bestselling author and the Decemberists’ lead singer/songwriter, Colin Meloy.

Maybe Archie Coomes has been watching too many horror movies.

All of a sudden, the most ordinary things have taken on a sinister edge: a penny on a doormat. An odd man in a brown suit under a streetlamp. The persistent sound of an ax chopping in the middle of the night.

He keeps telling himself that this is Seaham, a sleepy seaside town where nothing ever happens. Or at least nothing did, until his dad’s construction company opened up the cliff beneath the old—some say cursed—Langdon place.

Soon, though, he and his friends can’t deny it: more and more of the adults in town are acting strangely. An ancient, long-buried evil has been unleashed upon the community, and it’s up to the kids to stop it before it’s too late. . . .



Mary Downing Hahn - What We Saw: A Thriller - Published by Clarion Books (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0358414414 - Hardback - Age: 8+


A chilling murder mystery lies at the heart of this page-turning thriller about a missing teacher, small-town secrets, and turbulent tween friendships from the master of middle-grade horror Mary Downing Hahn.

When best friends Abbi and Skylar witness a clandestine meeting between a mysterious woman and someone in a dark van, they're thrilled. Finally, a mystery to spice up the summer!

Who could these people be? Why are they meeting? Are they spies? Criminals? The two girls are determined to find out. But then a local woman goes missing and is found dead in the woods. And Abbi and Skylar realize that their detective work could hold the keys to solving her murder. Suddenly, sleuthing isn't so fun anymore.

As tensions rise and their friendship frays, the girls find themselves in increasing danger, and must choose between keeping a secret or exposing a life-altering truth.



Kalyn Josephson - Ravefall - Published by Delacorte Press (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593483589 - Hardback - Age: 9+ 


  • One magical inn, two kids with supernatural powers, and an ancient Celtic creature trying to destroy their world by Halloween night...
     
    Halloweentown meets Supernatural in this spooky middle-grade series from the acclaimed author of the Storm Crow duology!

    Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay has never been normal, even by her psychic family’s standards. Every generation uses their abilities to help run the Ravenfall Inn, a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. But it’s hard to contribute when your only power is foreseeing death.
     
    So when fourteen-year-old Colin Pierce arrives at Ravenfall searching for his missing older brother and the supernatural creature who killed their parents, Anna jumps at the chance to help. But the mysteries tied to Colin go much deeper than either of them expects. . . .
     
    As the two team up to find answers, they unearth Colin’s family’s secret past and discover that Colin has powers beyond his imagination. And now the supernatural creature, one with eerie origins in Celtic mythology, is coming after 
    him. If Anna and Colin can’t stop the creature by Halloween night, the veil to the Otherworld could be ripped open—which would spell destruction for their world as they know it.

Friday, 16 September 2022

THALAMUS PLANK - Author/Illustrator - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Hello Everybody. Today we are delighted to be able to share the fantastic interview with Thalamus Plank - what a great name by the way. Thalmus is a very talented author/illustrator who has a fantastic creative style that might be new to you. He is always dreaming of an opportunity to demonstrate his creative talents. So we asked him some in-depth questions to find out more about his work and hopefully fuel his dream for bigger things to come. If you want to find out more about him or check out his other work then visit his website: https://www.thalamusplank.co.uk or have a chat with him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThalamusPlank

  • ‘Help, My Granny is a Smuggler!’ is a book you are really proud of so what can you tell us about it, and will or has it been published? 


I’m proud of this book because it was ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges at the Faber and Andlyn BAME, (FAB) Prize – which made it the first piece that I’d written that was acknowledged by people in the publishing industry as being of a standard. That is both an incredible confidence boost and a relief to a writer and an acknowledgment that you’re on the right path! It hasn’t yet been published… so if the publishing world feels that it is missing a humorous story about a granny that goes smuggling in secret with ‘the fearsome four’, and that involves a spot of detective work by her brave grandson, Barrie, then they know where to come!  


  • They say that a picture paints a thousand words, what do your illustrations say about you? 


I suppose that the things you write and draw do reflect something of your character… I don’t want to sound like I don’t take life seriously, but I do always seem to see beauty and light in even the darkest moments, and always find something that can bring a smile to my face. Whilst I don’t bury my head in the sand concerning the more troublesome aspects of the world we live in; I feel that they are currently more than abundant right now so don’t really have the desire to invent any more. That said, I wouldn’t shy away from depicting moments of sadness, as long as strands of hope can be drawn from the narrative. 


  • What kind of projects do you like working on? 


I do enjoy animal portraits - as you know, I’m involved in animal rescue and house several ‘un-releasables’ as well as a handful of dogs, so I get to observe their incredible beauty close up on a daily basis – you can’t help but be inspired! I've been trying my hand at book covers and am really enjoying the challenge of that, both the summing up of the book with the art and designing the layout. I particularly enjoy black and white illustrations (for chapter books and upwards) and am currently working on some for a chapter book that I have recently penned.  


  • Have you always enjoyed drawing and writing? Is this something you wanted to focus on as a career from an early age? 


I was brought up in a creative household with a blend of cultures, my English mother is an incredible artist and my Guyanese father is a passionate lover of words and literature, - (His letters are eloquent and descriptive and reading his postcards is like delving into an excerpt from a travel guide!) and my siblings are artistic too. I learned pretty much all I know about drawing and painting from watching my mother at work. My grandmother also used to paint, and between them, they taught me so much. Whilst I was not formally trained, I could never claim to be ‘self-taught’, I had the very best teachers. My grandfather (a fellow Yorkshire man!) wrote poetry and my father was always reading and educated us in the classics, he used to write short stories and had several published in his work magazine. He has recently taken up painting too! So yes, drawing and writing were a big part of my childhood - I still have the very first story I wrote, written in a Postman Pat notebook. I must have been five or six (I hope – very embarrassing if it turned out I was much older!!) it’s about a magic man in a grocery shop buying potatoes – riveting stuff! But, no, although making art and crafts, and writing, have been a serious past-time, it was never something I really considered as a career; it’s only in recent years that I have become focused on pursuing this path with vigour!  


  • How do you capture your ideas as they come to you and when are you at your best creatively? 


I discovered a few years ago that I have Aphantasia, meaning that I have no ‘mind’s eye’. (Obviously, this was how I experienced life, I just never knew that it was a thing) Like many who have it, I always thought that picturing things in your mind was just something people said, and didn’t realise that most people can see actual images in their minds! Apparently, some people can see moving images, like watching a film – in your head!! I can only imagine how amazing that be! I, on the other hand, see nothing, so when it comes to capturing ideas, I rely a lot on taking photos (my phone storage is always at capacity!)  and I recall feelings and try to capture them in the images that I draw. Feelings are also important in writing too - when I read a book, clearly, I won’t be picturing the story in my mind, but I will very much feel what I read. To that end, I’m actually quite selective about what I read. So, yes, lots of photos (I even keep the blurry ones as they still invoke how I was feeling at the time it was taken) and jotting down comments and quick sketches– usually on kitchen roll! 


I’m a night person, so from about 10 pm - 4 am (ish) would be my hours of choice, but the reality of life is that you take any and every minute you can grab, whenever, wherever and just be grateful!  



  • If you could pick two book covers illustrated by other illustrators which would you select? What is it about these two covers that particularly appeals to you? 


Edward Bettison is a wonderful designer and his cover of ‘Stone’ by Finbar Hawkins is a joy to look at, the same goes for his cover of ‘Witch’, also by Finbar Hawkins.  Whilst I haven’t yet read this book, so can’t say whether or not it captures the story (although I’m sure it does), I’m so taken by the artwork. I love the silhouette style art with a limited colour palette – less really is more!




  

My second choice is the beautiful cover of ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse’, written and illustrated by the very talented Charlie Mackesy.  I love the simplicity of a few lines that manage to convey so much, both as a picture and in the feelings it evokes. So very powerful and yet so minimal, so simple and yet so deep.

  

Both are very different in style, but each one is beautiful! 




  • Could you draw your favourite superhero/book character/famous person in a style that relates to you and share it with us? 


I’ve had to draw you three! The first two are fanart from the world of The Moomins that were created in the amazing mind of Tove Jansson. Snufkin is who I aspire to be like. Snufkin is a free spirit, connected to nature, surrounded by music, and loves the sea – all very strong passions of mine, however, my actual day-to-day reality is more that of the dear Hemulen, who is a bit eccentric, studies fauna with his magnifying glass (I do have a microscope!) and likes to drink tea. I’m probably a mixture of them both, so the third picture is my Moomin mash-up – a ‘Snufulen’ maybe or perhaps a ‘Hemkin’! 



  • What one thing would you like people to know about you? 


Other than, ‘I’m available for representation!', I’d like them to know just how grateful I am to every single person who has inspired and encouraged me in any way in both my writing and my illustration, from those that are closest to me and encourage me on a daily basis and allow me the time and space to create (In particular, Mr. Slid, my family and SeaDogBobL), to those on social media who I have never met, and probably never will in person, (like your good self and like Zillah Bethell who continue to be so supportive!) and everyone in between – every kind comment is appreciated from the heart as is the creative work that they all share too. I’ve learned so much from looking at other peoples’ output. There’s an incredible world of creativity out there!!  


Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Tim Tilley - WITCHSTORM - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Are you ready to return to another world written and illustrated by Tim Tilley? If the answer is YES then I'm delighted to introduce the author's new book which will be published in September 2022 by USBORNE. You only need to look at the cover for it to pique your curiosity. However, within the covers, this story is another masterclass in creating a narrative that has all the ingredients to make your fantasy dreams come true. 

We have all the characteristics of the first book as it is set in the same story world as Harklights. The ecological nature subtly plays out in the story; it really gives the book grounding as it asks What If questions of the reader. For example, what if you woke up after three hundred years, how much of the natural landscapes, forests, and wild open spaces would have disappeared? What would you feel? This is the idea that intertwines itself with a magical ride of joy, fun, and puzzle solving. 

The story is an illustrative delight - full of family adventure and wonderfully colourful characters that light up the sky like a rainbow. However, also be prepared to travel head-on into the eye of a storm and face a magical battle that explodes with action and drama. If this sound like your adventure then this is a great Halloween read for you. So pull up your socks and join Will on an EPIC quest filled with missing parents, lost treasure, mythical storm-lions, ruined towers, and many broomstick chases through a plot thicker than witches' soup. What more could you possibly ask for? 

I really love the mix of classic fairytale themes in Tim's books. He is a  FANTASTIC daydreamer; I'm sure he must have a cauldron of ideas that he brews and stews. Each book is a magical journey that will both endure the test of time but also be keenly loved by everyone interested in a good story. This is another sure-fire winner from one of my favourite authors and publishing houses. Thank you for sending this book; it was a real privilege to read. Keep up the amazing work! 





Friday, 2 September 2022

New Children's Book Picks September 2022 - Post One - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Dream a world away in the best children's book picks this September 2022. This is the first post of some truly great adventures you can have. Just turn the page and off you go. What are you reading and loving this month? 

Helena Duggan - The Light Thieves - Published by Usborne Publishing (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474991094 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Clever, quirky and hugely imaginative, discover the eagerly anticipated new series from the bestselling author of A Place Called Perfect. Who would you trust to save the world...a boy or a billionaire? The earth has shifted on its axis and a mysterious dark mark has appeared on the sun - the whole world is in peril! But billionaire tech genius Howard Hansom has a plan... When Grian's sister goes missing he's convinced she has run off to Hansom's new city to help save the world. But when Grian and his two friends Jeffrey and Shelli track her there they find that nothing is quite as it seems. Why is everything so secret? Where is the mysterious Area 13? What does Howard Hansom want with all the people he has enticed to live in his city? The days are getting darker but what's really happening to the sun?

Carlie Sorosiak - Always, Clementine (Letters from a Runway Mouse) - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839941085 - Paperback - Age: 8

A funny, wise and heartwarming story, with a truly one-of-a-kind hero, from the author of the highly-acclaimed I, Cosmo and My Life as a Cat.

I am an optimist. A very difficult thing to be, sometimes, at three inches tall.

Clementine is a genius. She can calculate pi to 69,689 places, remembers the exact moment she was born, and dreams in Latin.

She's also a mouse.

And when she escapes from the lab which has bred her, Clementine discovers that it's not enough to be the smartest mouse in history if she wants to survive in the real world - especially while the scientists who kept her are trying to recover their prize specimen. So, together with her new human friends, Clementine must find a way to earn her freedom - for good.


Hayley Hoskins - The Whisperling - Published by Puffin (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241514504 - Paperback - Age: 8+

When you're dead, you're dead. When you're gone, you're gone.
Unless, of course, you're not.
And that's where I come in.

The year is 1897, and Peggy Devona can speak with ghosts. 

She hides her gift from those afraid of a girl with such powers, terrified of the secrets the dead could reveal through her. But when her best friend is accused of murdering her rich mistress, Peggy knows only she - a whisperling - can save her. 

Peggy escapes to her uncle's psychic emporium in the city, seeking out new ghosts to help her solve Sally's case.

Yet time is running out, and each step towards uncovering the truth also brings Sally one step closer to the gallows. . .


Dashe Roberts - Sticky Pines: The Valley of the Strange - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1788008938 - Paperback - Age: 9+

Things are FREAKY and about to get even FREAKIER in the sleepy American town of Sticky Pines.

Weirdness mounts upon creepiness to create a riotously funny potion in The Valley of the Strange, the latest explosive instalment of the cult sci-fi series for children.

Lucy Sladan has made the biggest, most bizarre discovery of all time ... but still no one believes her. Even her best friend Milo Fisher is not convinced. But his father knows she is on to something. Soon Lucy is in a race to stop Mr Fisher's monstrous efforts to uncover the source of the sticky-pine sap that is making his fortune ... and so risking the destruction of the world.

Perfect for the younger siblings of Stranger Things fans, Sticky Pines offers laugh-out-loud, hair-raising sci-fi and mysteries aplenty. The TRUTH is OUT THERE - are you ready for it?

The Valley of the Strange is the third book in the Sticky Pines Series, join Lucy and Milo for more adventures in The Bigwoof Conspiracy and The Thing at Black Hole Lake

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Cressida Cowell - Which Way to Anywhere - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Which Way to Anywhere is the brand new magical adventure written and illustrated by the no.1 bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once, Cressida Cowell. This gorgeous book will fly into the shops (via the back of magical hoovers) on the 15th of September 2022. It has been published in glorious hardback by Hodder Children's Books. 

The first words of this book were written over 25 years ago. Written in spidery, messy longhand they have lay waiting in the writer's writing shed. The pages yellowing as the magic slowly seeps away from the dormant story; waiting its turn for a new audience. However, that audience is now us and we are to be taken on a spectacular ride in this brilliant new series. Hold your breath, we're going in...

We plunge into a brilliant world of escapism from the very first page. In my opinion, this is the best story the author has written. It is also the most personal as it pays a silent and respectful nod to her father. 

Now come with me if you dare. It's time to be introduced to a family that has a magical secret; a child with a powerful gift to draw maps. However, these maps become real worlds that can be visited in a heartbeat. You will find yourself being escorted by the unlikely heroes of K2 O'Hero, his twin sister Izzabird, and their waring stepsiblings. You'll visit worlds with six hundred moons, burning rivers and dark, twisty jungles alive with plants that hunt by the smell of fear. Maybe there's time to visit Excelsiar way beyond the distant poles but watch your step as you GO! 

Without a shadow of a doubt, this will be one of the best reads of the year. The story strikes a quirky balance of wild and outrageous storytelling that only great authors can dream up. It is full of brilliant characters, dialogue, and a daring rescue mission with terrible beasts and a robot assassin. Everything about this story makes it a fantastic compulsive read. As a story sat lingering over the years, this book has now been turned into an epic read that radiates fun and magic.  Dream BIG and travel well. 



Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Kate Gilby Smith - Olive Jones and the Memory Thief - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #36


Hello Everybody! It's time to introduce you to our next author interview with Kate Gilby Smith. 
The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody is her first book to be published by Orion Children's Books whilst Olive Jones and the Memory Thief is her latest book. The author was born on the island of Guernsey which I'm sure will be a backdrop of huge inspiration. From fiction to non-fiction, we travel beyond books to find out more about the author and who they would travel back in time to meet. 

 1. Your second book is entitled Olive Jones and the Memory Thief and is due to be published in June 2022 by Orion Children's. When and where did you get the first idea for this book?
The idea for Olive Jones and the Memory Thief came from a ‘what if’ question that popped into my head one day. What if one day in the future we could record our memories? I kept thinking about this question and in particular about whose memories I would most like to watch if I could. I started to think about how I’d love to watch some of my grandparents’ memories, to get to know them better than I was able to when they were alive. At the same time I was thinking about my grandad who I saw lots of when I was growing up but had always been quite mysterious to me. I developed a bit of a theory about why he was so mysterious despite living so close – he was secretly a spy. That gave me the idea for a grandparent character – called Grandma Sylvie – who is secretly a spy, and a protagonist who learns about their grandparent’s life through the memories they leave behind when they pass away. That was the start of the idea, though I had no clue where it would take me from there!


2. How do you go about planning and plotting a book? Do you have any tips to share with other writers looking to get their stories published? 

After having the initial idea, I had to ask myself and answer loads more questions. What technology does Grandma Sylvie use to record her memories? How does it work? Why does she do it? What’s the protagonist of my story like? What’s her relationship with Grandma Sylvie like? And many more questions like that. From the beginning I had an image in my head of the main character, Olive, staring through her window at her grandma’s house across the road and wishing that she knew more about her. So I knew that’s where I wanted to start. Then I went about plotting the book in chunks of about three chapters at a time, not knowing where I was going to end up. It took me a really long time to work out what I wanted to happen in the book after Olive receives her grandma’s memories. In fact, I had to completely rewrite the second half of the book as I wasn’t happy with the plot. It was hard to do that, but I’m so glad I did.

As for tips, I would encourage writers to keep going even when the book feels like the most terrible story anyone has ever written. I would also encourage them to share their writing with a trusted friend of a family member and to listen carefully to their feedback. And make sure your first three chapters really hook your reader because that’s the bit literary agents tend to read before requesting the full manuscript.


3. You also work as a publicist at a London publisher of science, philosophy and history; are there any elements of this particular job that help you when writing for children? 

Yes definitely! As a publicist for non-fiction books I’m always around interesting, new and exciting ideas which is hugely inspiring, especially as I like writing books with sci-fi and futuristic themes. 


4. Did any of the books you read as a child reflect the Guernsey surroundings/island you were brought up on? Are you able to reflect aspects of the island into your ideas or stories?

That’s such an interesting question. I don’t remember reading any children’s books set on Guernsey but growing on the island I often felt a sense of freedom and adventure and wildness when exploring the beaches and forts with friends and without any pesky grown-ups that was a bit like some Eva Ibbotson books I read when I was a child. I would love to write a book set on Guernsey one day in the future. It’s such a beautiful place with a rich folklore and history, from fairies and ghosts to pirates and shipwrecks. 


5. Do you have a favourite illustrator?

The first book I was obsessed with was My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards and illustrated by Shirley Hughes. As a very naughty younger sister myself I really related! And it made me think that becoming an author was the very best thing you could do. So my favourite illustrator is Shirley Hughes. 


6. You love eating ice cream; what are your favourite flavours and which characters in your books would also love these flavours?

Chocolate with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce and a chocolate flake. With chocolate sprinkles. I think that this would also be Gerty’s favourite flavour (from The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody) as she has a real sweet tooth and would never consider so much chocolate ‘too much’. 


7. In the first book, people were travelling back in time to meet famous people. Who would you travel back in time to meet and why? 

I change my mind about this question all the time but at the moment I would really love to go back in time to meet Fatima al’Fihri because she is credited with founding the very first university in the world back in 859 and yet there’s loads we don’t know about her life.


8. What is the strangest question a reader/editor has ever asked you? Can you remember what your reply was? 

I was asked by a kid whether I’d write a story about my own skeleton. I said I would definitely consider it!


Friday, 12 August 2022

The Best Children's US Book Picks August 2022 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


B. B Alston - Amari and the Great Game (BK2) - Published by Balzer + Bray (August 30, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062975195 - Hardback - Age: 7+ 

After finding her brother and saving the entire supernatural world, Amari Peters is convinced her first full summer as a Junior Agent will be a breeze.

But between the fearsome new Head Minister’s strict anti-magician agenda, fierce Junior Agent rivalries, and her brother Quinton’s curse steadily worsening, Amari’s plate is full. So when the secretive League of Magicians offers her a chance to stand up for magiciankind as its new leader, she declines. She’s got enough to worry about!

But her refusal allows someone else to step forward, a magician with dangerous plans for the League. This challenge sparks the start of the Great Game, a competition to decide who will become the Night Brothers’ successor and determine the future of magiciankind.

The Great Game is both mysterious and deadly, but among the winner’s magical rewards is Quinton’s last hope—so how can Amari refuse?




Dan Gemeinhart - The Midnight Children - Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (August 30, 2022) -ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250196729 - Hardback - Age: 7+

In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a small town curiously named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street, looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren't noticed.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

OANIS RAWBONE - Whippoorwill Lane - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #35


Here we have something a little different for you today. It's an epic interview with Oanis Rawbone, author and publisher of Whippoorwill Lane. The book is a fantastic collaboration with the amazing illustrator Karl James Mountford. Some of you will already be familiar with his work especially if you follow Mr. Ripley's Book Cover competition. In this post, we want to give you the full flavour of the book as it's an atmospheric tale of a creepy nature. It really is an absolute stunner that has an unusual lyrical narrative. 

If want a scary treat then you might want to put it on your shelves for the day you fancy a little scare - maybe Halloween?  We hope you enjoy this post and if you want to find out more you can BUY a copy HERE or visit the author's website for more gentle persuasion: www.whiplane.com 
  1. Whippoorwill Lane is your first venture into children's books, what was your intention when you started to write this book?
Originally Whippoorwill Lane began life as an animated short film script but it became obvious to me that it would really suit being a book series.Writing a book series has always been on my 'to do' list, lurking somewhere in the far recesses. I wanted to write a series that was funny and very unpredictable, with a macabre streak running through it, something that could be enjoyed by both parents and children. Something specifically for those dark and stormy nights, a bit creepy to read on your own and fun to read aloud at parties with your friends and family. A book series perfect for the Halloween season.
Initially, I thought about what interested me as a child, I always gravitated towards things that were a little edgier and older than my reading age.I wanted excitement, with a pinch of danger. I've concluded (within reason) that the best approach to writing fun stories for children is to not think about your audience at all, at least not in the idea stage. That has freed things up massively and keeps things interesting, it’s really helped me explore ideas outside of the well worn roads. I'm quite tough on myself, if it doesn't have the right mix of ingredients and hold my attention, it gets binned immediately!2.  How did you come up with the ideas for the book and do you have a particular way of remembering ideas to use later?I was very fortunate when I stumbled onto Whippoorwill Lane, I knew on the spot that I wanted to write about it, it's a very bizarre place. I really want to document it all. I'm afraid I can't reveal it's location as I could not guarantee your safety!Other inspiration comes in many forms, like most writers I'm constantly jotting down interesting anecdotes and true life stories, watching and listening, soaking things up around me and filing things away. Sometimes it's a bolt from the blue and a story pretty much writes itself, other times it's a slower process of discovery.
3. How are you putting the 'BOO!' back into books?I lean towards the darker, more twisted side in all of my writing, much like the classic fairy tales of old (on closer examination are actually quite dark). The Brothers Grimm, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Edgar Allan Poe,I'm really inspired by creators that are masters at blending humour with the macabre in exciting ways, who play with our expectations, and expose how ridiculous we can be, our human foibles.I think being young and feeling a chill through your bones when you're sat alone, reading a story, that's exciting, so I like to add an element of fear/ threat into my stories.It's all done very tongue in cheek but I think many readers crave that, it's different from the usual 'happily ever after' route, it's unpredictable, which I love.Whippoorwill Lane on the surface appears very normal but it quickly becomes fiendishly off the wall.
4. The illustrations have been produced by the very talented Karl James Mountford. How did that collaboration develop and how important was it to get the right illustrator for your brilliant words?Working with the right illustrator is everything. Karl is my creative soul mate, he is the ying to my yang. Creating Whippoorwill Lane is very much a partnership. Karl and I met at University. I was struck by one of his paintings that was on display in the Uni reception area, it really stood out to me. I had researched many different art styles for the book but none of them were a good fit, I knew immediately when I saw his work that Karl was the man for the job. 


Karl has such a unique style and command of his craft, his work is instantly recognisable and he has produced countless stunning pieces of work.I approached Karl to work on the illustrations for the book, he really loved the story and totally got the humour and we became firm friends.We bounced around idea's for Whippoorwill Lane's 'look' for a long time, we were not in a hurry. We experimented with lots of different styles, it had to be right. When Karl showed me the first completed illustration for Whippoorwill Lane it was an electric moment, it was absolutely perfect, it still gives me goosebumps to think of it! Karl captured the spirit of the book so perfectly. Working with him is always magical, every time that I look at Whippoorwill Lane’s illustrations I 
see something new, Karl’s work is fantastic.On a side note, Karl will be releasing his debut novel this September called 'Circles In the Sky' which looks absolutely stunning, so keep an eye out for that. I'm so thankful that we crossed paths, he is an outstanding creator, a good friend and a more down-to-earth chap you will never meet.5. What was your plan to get this book published and in the hands of readers?The road to bring Whippoorwill Lane to the world has not been a straightforward one. The book is a bit of an anomaly, most children's picture books are around 32 pages on average, Whippoorwill Lane is 133 pages!Similar to the length of an illustrated graphic novel. Through my agent we initially approached a few publishers, they loved the stories and the illustrations but were worried about taking a risk on an unknown author with an unusual page count.Fortunately, a lot has changed in the publishing industry in the last few years and so much more is possible now. After a lot of research, I decided to set up my own imprint (Buffalo Book Press) and release the book myself.It's been a brilliant learning experience, having complete autonomy and control over the whole process is wonderful. We are completely free range!I don't think many people realise how many distribution channels are available now and this, along with social media, means there is very little that you can't achieve with the proper planning.If you believe in your project and have done your homework (that's very important, don't delude yourself, be honest with yourself about your project because putting a book out into the world is forever, so make sure that it's dynamite!), then go for it. Established industries are often afraid to take risks, which is understandable, why risk anything when the tried and tested is working for you? Innovation often comes from risk though, so, do your homework, be honest with yourself, then go for it.6. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as there is very little information on the internet about you?By day I am a video editor, VFX artist at a film post-production house and by night I am a scribbler of short stories, scripts and children's books.  I'm also currently directing my first documentary film, which is very exciting.I live in South Wales with my wife, our three children and our demanding dog, Velma.7. What future plans do you have for Whippoorwill Lane?I'm so excited about the future of Whippoorwill Lane and really looking forward to writing the next instalments of the series.I recently visited the Lane and have managed to fill several notebooks full, so that will keep me busy for a while! (Whispers: I have just made a start on book two!) After that who knows! An audiobook version, a stop motion animation perhaps, watch this space!Also, we love the community that is growing on our website, there are a lot of fun things to do on there and we'll be adding more content soon. You can find us at www.whiplane.com, subscribe for all the latest updates and we'd love to hear any suggestions for additions to the site.8. What have you learned from writing your first children's book and how will this help you in your future writing?Working on Whippoorwill Lane has been a massive learning experience on all fronts. When you are writing your first book, naturally at times, you can have some low moments of self-doubt, moments when you feel like giving up. However sometimes there are projects that just will not leave you alone, you go to bed and wake up thinking about them and when that happens you don't really have a choice, self doubt or not! Creating Whippoorwill Lane was like that, one way or another it was going to happen. Through this experience I have learned patience, perseverance, to believe in what I am doing and most importantly, to believe in myself.Making book one involved a lot of unknowns, discovering what worked and what didn't, now that those elements have been established we can build on book one and find out where things will go next. We can't wait.The response to Whippoorwill Lane has made the whole experience so worthwhile, we are getting wonderful reviews and letters, our readers seem to really connect with it and say that they go back to it for multiple readings, ultimately that is the job of any good story isn't it. I am so proud of the book and would like to sincerely thank all of our readers, your enthusiasm is like creative rocket fuel, I can't wait for us to take our next trip down Whippoorwill Lane.