Sunday, 24 July 2022

Gemma Fowler - City of Rust - (Q&A Interview) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #33

 


Here we have a winning combination; a great book cover, and a fantastic story. This was one of the most original stories of 2021 (published by Chicken House books) and we loved it. It was really great to be able to ask some questions about the book as well as find out more about the author behind it. If you are ready for Astronaut wee and Cornish pasties predicting the future then you must read this enjoyable interview with Gemma Fowler. In the meantime, enjoy and we'll see you back for the next interview very soon. You can buy HERE. 

  1. 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! 

  1. 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!

  1. 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! 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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! 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.    

  1. 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’.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.  


  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

Justyn Edwards - The Great Fox Illusion - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #31

 


The greatest illusion of all is the art of telling a good story; the trick is there is no trick. It's time to dream and let your imagination take hold in this brilliant fantasy adventure with the author, Justyn Edwards. The Great Fox Illusion was published by Walker Books (April 2022). Check this book out as I believe it just might be the READ you are looking for this summer. We hope you enjoy it and see you again soon! 

  1. The Great Fox Illusion is your debut book and was published in April 2022. What illusion do you put the readers under and do you think they will enjoy the fantasy experience? 

Stories have a very similar flow, rhythm and structure to a good magic performance. A trick often starts with an everyday object and then surprises you with a vanish or a transformation. Finally, it ends with a crescendo or by returning everything to normal. A good story follows a very similar pattern. Thinking about that made me want to write a story about tricks that was itself a kind of trick. I really hope that others will enjoy the fun in that process. 

  1. What do the characters make possible in the plot that would have otherwise been impossible?

I loved writing about Flick and Charlie. When they first meet,Flick isn’t too keen on Charlie – they’re both very different. But the way they combine and learn to work together in this book is something I really enjoyed bringing to life. The personalities those characters have, how contrasting they are, how flawed they are, and yet how they help each other makes the book possible.

  1. How did you go about plotting this book and did you have any idea it would become a series? 

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.

  1. What do you think you learned when writing this book and will it help you with your next book?

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.

  1. You state you are not very good at nuclear physics or DIY (the same applies to me). What would you suggest that you are good at? 

Hmmmmm. Maybe not much! I think my one skill in life is to keep trying. Hopefully, the second book will be better than the first…

  1. Does your degree in archaeology help in any way with the next book in the series? Can you share any glimpses of information about it? 

Ha! There’s no archaeology in the second book. What can I tell you about it without giving too much away? The Great Fox Illusion ends with Flick and Charlie thrown into the world of magicians and illusionists, and they’ve made some enemies along the way. Let’s just say, in the second book that the sheer magnitude of what they’re up against becomes apparent – they’ve got the attention of some scary and ruthless people. They have stepped through a door into a new and dangerous world where they discover the true power of the Bell System.

  1. Can you share a magical moment that you have had in real life that might inspire us to write or read more books?

I think our imagination is such an important thing. I can’t think of any particular moment that crystalises that, but the process of creative writing and exercising our minds when reading is vital for us all. It makes us more rounded, more empathetic, and more outward-looking people.

  1. What one question do you wish you had been asked as part of this Q&A and why? How would one of your characters have responded to this question?

An important question about this book is who designed the stunning cover. Charlie would give you a very long answer to this (as all of his answers tend to go on a bit), but I’ll keep it short. Flavia Sorrentino. She did it, and it looks amazing. I’ve also seen some roughs for her cover for the next book and… Well, you’ll have to wait!

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Best Children's Book Picks UK - July 2022 - Picked by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher (Author), Davide Ortu (Illustrator) - The Double Trouble Society - Published by Puffin (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241558904 - Hardback - Age: 8+

What do you get if you mix together two best friends, a witch's curse and a haunted house? A spell-binding mystery from acclaimed performer and bestselling author Carrie Hope Fletcher - star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella.

They say children who are born on Friday 13th are immune to evil spirits. Whilst Ivy and Maggie liked to believe that was true, it didn't stop them checking for monsters under their bed each and every night.

Ivy and Maggie have been best friends ever since they were born at exactly the same minute twelve years earlier. They're always on the look-out for a new adventure but unfortunately Crowood Peak is officially the most boring town in the world. Or at least it was until children start to mysteriously disappear and, even stranger, none of the grown-ups seem to have noticed . . .

It's up to the Double Trouble Society to work out what's going on. All the evidence points to the old mansion next door with strange green lights in the windows and a new owner who looks suspiciously like a witch! 

Can Ivy and Maggie solve the mystery of Hokum House and rescue their friends or will they be next on the witch's list of victims?


P.J. Canning - 21% Monster - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474984416 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Fun, fast-paced, high-octane action-adventure, 21% Monster is a perfect page-turning new series for fans of Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and the MCU generation.
When Darren Devlin is arrested for destroying his school with his bare hands, it's not just the police who are after him. Enter Marek Masters, 14 years old, 19% alien, and the most intelligent, most wanted "almost human" alive. Marek is here to tell Darren the truth - he is 21% monster, and together they must take down the secret organisation that created them.

Darren and Marek are wanted, powerful and dangerous. And now it's payback time.


Helenka Stachera (Author), Marco Guadalupi (Illustrated) - Finn and the Memory Curse - Published by Puffin (21 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241491331 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

A chilling Victorian London adventure about one girl's mission to break a centuries-old curse with her long-lost family at its heart - perfect for fans of Cogheart and The Castle of Tangled Magic.

Fin is a foundling growing up in the Hackney marshes, living in a tiny attic and selling leeches for a living. When she accidentally discovers she is the long-lost child of a rich Polish family called the Kaminskis, she is swept up into a supernatural adventure where she has to use everything she has learned on the streets of London and deep in the marshes to stay alive.

For the Kaminskis are haunted by an ancient evil - and Fin is the key to stopping it forever . . .


David Solomons - Published by - 
Nosy Crow Ltd (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0857639936 - Paperback - Age: 7+ (Here is Our Interview)

A brilliantly funny story of what happens when a galactic princess moves in next door and almost brings about the end of the world. Exciting new fiction from the bestselling, award-winning author of My Brother is a Superhero.

Gavin's got a new neighbour and she's really annoying. Niki follows him everywhere, bosses him about, and doesn't care that her parents will obliterate Earth with their galactic warships if she doesn't stop running away from them. Can Niki and Gavin sort out the alien despots (aka Mum and Dad) and save the planet? Possibly. Will they become friends along the way? Doubtful...

'David Solomons represents the best in contemporary comic writing for children' -- Guardian

A hilarious new story from the author of My Brother Is a Superhero, winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children's Book of the Year. 


Thursday, 7 July 2022

Emma Finlayson-Palmer - Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #30

 

We are celebrating the publication of Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) which is the debut book of Emma Finlayson-Palmer. It is due to be published on the 7th July 2022 by UCLan Publishing  (Preston University). The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon and is part of a series of stories following the main character Autumn Moonbean. Younger readers can follow her adventures and life experiences. In this interview, we find out more about the book and the author. It is a chance to celebrate together the publication with a sparkle, a dance, and a flourish of magic. We hope you enjoy it and thanks for visiting. 

 

  • Your first book is for 5-8-year-old readers, Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic and is due to be published in July 2022 (UCLan); what magical fantasy world have you created for the story?

Autumn lives in an area called Sparkledale in a country called Cauldronia, where creatures live and do similar things to me or you but with a magical twist. There are spell-a-visions and talking doorbells that will shout at you to answer the door, and a main character who dreams of one day joining a dance club, and going to the Aaarghlympics.

  • Autumn Moonbeam is the main character of the book; how do you think younger readers will be able to identify with the character?

    Whilst it's not mentioned as such in the book, Autumn is autistic, and I hope some of her neurodivergent traits will feel familiar to younger readers. And certainly the anxious fluttering moths in her tummy, shyness, and sometimes being a little clumsy will be relatable to many readers. She's a worrier, but she's also kind and loyal and is determined to follow her dreams.

  • As an adult writer, what process(es) do you undertake to write for this age group, and do you think you have got all of the aspects you wanted to include in the book right?

    I'm a mom to five children, worked as a childminder for over 13 years, been a helper in playgroups, and I'm also working as a lunchtime supervisor in a primary and have done for over seven years, so I've had a lot of experience around children who are the same age as Autumn and her friends. In truth, I never left that more playful stage myself, it was around the age of 8 or 9 that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I hope I've got all the aspects in that I wanted, and feel like I've created authentic characters (albeit witches and fairies and other magical beings), that children will be able to identify with or get excited by.

  • The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon; what can you tell us about the illustrations and how do they contribute to the storyline? 

    Heidi has done such an amazing job at bringing Autumn's world to life. Despite being an artist myself, I couldn't have imagined all the intricate details that Heidi has created. The illustrations are so much fun, and often there are small details to spot in the background. Heidi's images bring the words alive.

  • What hurdles did you have to overcome to get your book published? Do you have any good tips for writers who are looking to get published?

    I have been writing for many years, and started off writing letters and short stories to magazines in the hope of getting into print. Once I discovered I especially loved children's fiction I tried writing for all different ages groups over the years and have discovered that I have a special love for the magic of chapter books. I would highly recommended reading as much as you can when you are a writer. It's one of the key things to being a good writer, I think. Read new releases, see what sort of stories are popular, and what trends there are, don't follow a trend, just learn from it. Most importantly, write something that excites you, because if that book gets an agent or publisher's interest you're going to be working on edits and talking about the same story a lot, and also your passion will shine through in your writing.

  • You have a big passion for reading children's books; which book has recently caught your attention?

    I read a lot so it's hard to pin down just the one but I've recently read Three Girls by Katie Clapham, such a heart warming tale of friendship and a passion for running. I've also recently read the second Rainbow Grey book, Laura Ellen Anderson's books are an absolute joy to read and to see her stunning illustrations.

  • What are your favourite blogs or websites for writers? 

    Write Mentor has been a wonderful and supportive community to be part of and I can highly recommend getting involved. The same with Write MAGIC too, such wonderful supportive writers with fun groups to take part in sprints and other writing activities. 

  • Is there a dream you have yet to follow and could it make it into any future books?

    Ooh this is both a hard but really interesting question. One dream I've always had is to see the aurora borealis, that could definitely feature in a future story. I've also got my more unrealistic dream of being able to turn into a bird and fly, so that will definitely have to be lives through my writing!

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

The Best Children's US Book Picks July 2022 - Picked by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Varsha Bajaj - Thirst - Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (July 19, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593354391 - Hardback - Age: 9+ 

The riveting story of a heroic girl who fights for her belief that water should be for everyone.
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet 
and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?

Darcy Marks - Grounded for All Eternity - Published by Aladdin (July 26, 2022) ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534483361 - Hardback - Age: 7+

A group of kids from hell come to Earth on one of the craziest nights of the year—Halloween—in this snarky, witty middle-grade adventure about teamwork, friendship, shattering expectations, and understanding the world (or otherworld) around us.

Mal and his friends are just your regular average kids from hell. The suburbs that is, not the fiery pit part. But when Hell’s Bells ring out—signaling that a soul has escaped from one of the eternal circles, Mal and his friends can’t help but take the opportunity for a little adventure. 

Before they know it, they’ve somehow slipped through the veil and found themselves in the middle of Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. And what’s even worse, they’ve managed to bring the escaped soul with them! As the essence of one of history’s greatest manipulators gains power by shifting the balance on Earth, Mal and his squad-mates—along with some new friends that they meet along the way—work desperately to trap the escapee, save the people of Earth from the forces of evil, and find the portal back to their own dimension. 

If they can’t manage it before their parents realize they’re gone, they’ll be grounded for eternity. And eternity in hell is a very, very long time.

Anthony Bartley (Author), Ian Bristow (Illustrator) - Freakshow Summer - Published by Kinkajou Press (July 12, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1951122362 - Paperback - Age: 9+ 

In 1930s America a young teen struggles to find his calling among his carnival family of human curiosities while outsiders try to destroy everything he loves. 

Among the freaks and misfits of Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival, thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra longs to find his place. Orphaned as a baby he’s been raised by the bearded woman, the alligator man, and the Leprechaun Family. Manny is a skilled artist, but he lives in the shadow of his deceased father’s own talent. A new summer of promise is soon spoiled by the arrival of Ron the bully and the Oldies – the Order of the Lions’ Den – hellbent on wiping out all carnivals. Manny realizes that what he finds lovely and ordinary is considered grotesque and abominable to the outside world. With the help of his friends Nickel, Margot, and Penny, Manny begins to traverse the tricky road of life, finding his footing in a world of human curiosities, both the beautiful and the ugly.


Stuart Wilson - How to Make a Monster (Prometheus High) - Published by - 
Puffin (AU) (July 29, 2022) ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761042256 - Paperback - Age: 11+  

A hugely inventive, action-packed, fun and quirky – and occasionally dark – adventure for fans of Skulduggery PleasantNevermoor or Frankenstein. A rusting ocean liner. Thirty students learning to resurrect the dead. A murderous monster on the loose . . . Just a typical day at Prometheus High. Athena Strange's first semester at Prometheus High starts with a bang. But when her lessons in reanimation, robotics and skulkers move too slowly and she has trouble making friends, Athena decides to take matters into her own hands. On a ship where science and magic collide, and the monster under your bed is probably very real . . . will Athena be able to hold her head above water?

Monday, 4 July 2022

Lindsay Littleson - Author Interview (Q&A) - The Rewilders - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #29



Today it's a pleasure to welcome Scottish author Lindsay Littleson to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. This interview is very much overdue so it's time to catch up with the author's recent book THE REWILDERS; a thrilling adventure story. The book was a finalist in our recent book cover wars which was very exciting. We hope you enjoy our interview by finding out more about Lindsay's books and her writing career. You can support the author by reading one of her fantastic fantasy adventures. You can buy HERE. 

  1. The Rewilders is your latest book to be published by Cranachan Books (March 2022). How would you summarise the story in a new synopsis to grab the readers' attention? 

The Rewilders takes readers on an exciting adventure to the stunning Highlands. Esme and Callum are on a quest to rewild a young lynx, but their journey is fraught with danger; including a raging river, angry farmers and a pack of menacing wolves. 


  1. Esme is one of the main characters in the book, how do you make your characters believable and stand out from the plot?


For me, creating believable characters is the most important part of writing a novel, because even if the plot’s adventure-packed, if readers don’t care what happens to the characters it’s impossible to create suspense and tension. Readers need to know what makes a character tick, and why they behave as they do, but that understanding should develop and deepen as the story progresses and we find out more about them. 


From bad-tempered Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden to bossy, dramatic Bertha in The Titanic Detective Agency, flawed characters are always more interesting. Lewis in Guardians of the Wild Unicorns can be grumpy and intolerant, but he is courageous, and he is a loyal friend.  Perfection’s dull, and isn’t remotely believable!


Although Esme in The Rewilders might not be immediately likeable, there are reasons behind her behaviour, and hopefully readers will understand, or even relate to, different aspects: her feelings of anxiety when her mother leaves, her fear of stepping out of her comfort zone, perhaps even the fact that she is best friends with a bully because she’s afraid of the consequences of stepping away from the friendship. 

 

At school, Esme has been siding with her friend Isobel, even when she knows very well that Isobel’s behaviour is frequently unkind. During the journey across the moors to rewild the lynx,  Esme has the time and space to consider the effect bullying has on others and she realises she has to make changes and find the courage to become the person she wants to be. 

  1. Did the Highland landscape inspire any part of the story? 

The Highland moors and Scotland’s ancient temperate rainforests are both the setting of and the inspiration behind The Rewilders. The Highlands are glorious, but the terrible truth is that over the years, the landscape has been damaged and degraded and is now in desperate need of repair and regeneration. The message in the Rewilders is primarily about the urgent need to protect and repair our precious wild environments, as much for our own sake as nature’s. 

Only fragments of internationally important Scotland’s temperate rainforests remain, and discovering about them inspired this description in The Rewilders

With its craggy rocks and gushing waterfalls, this place felt other-worldly—like a fantasy film set—a magical forest of wood elves and unicorns. But it wasn’t magical, it was real; a living reminder of Scotland’s past. Weak autumn sunlight slanted through the mainly deciduous trees, a mixture of birch, ash, hazel and a few ancient, gnarled oaks. Their bark was crusted with rust-orange lichen, their leaves turning scarlet and gold. Spongy moss carpeted the soggy ground and furred the tree branches. 



  1. Do you think being a Scottish author that local heritage is important to portray in children's stories? 

Obviously, Scottish authors should feel free to write the stories they are passionate about, and I don’t feel restricted to writing stories set in Scotland, as The Titanic Detective Agency proves! But I do believe it’s important that children are aware of their local history. I spent many years as a teacher in the Paisley area, and the main reason for writing my Victorian novel, A Pattern of Secrets was to give local children information about their town’s incredible textile heritage, within an adventure story about 12-year-old Jim who escapes from the Abbey Poorhouse and has to attempt to save his little brother from the same fate, by retrieving a lost family heirloom.

While The Rewilders is set in Scotland and focuses on the topical issue of rewilding large predators, such as lynx and wolves, to the Highlands,  the novel’s main message is a global one. It’s vital that we all do our part in protecting and restoring our planet’s natural environments and in caring for our precious, vulnerable wildlife. 

  1. What kind of books did you enjoy reading as a child? 

The Borrowers series was a revelation. The novels have a gloomy, melancholy air, very different from the upbeat adventure stories of Enid Blyton, all of which I’d already devoured, and I loved Arrietty’s courage and desire for adventure. The Hobbit, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and the Narnia books were all fantasy favourites too. But I also enjoyed character-driven stories about children to whom I could relate in some way, like Kate Ruggles in The Family From One End Street, surrounded by siblings and desperate for a place to read in peace. 

  1. You have a number of successful books that have been published, at what point do you decide to commit to writing a story to the very end or choose to abandon it?

When I first began writing I produced quite a few stories that should have been abandoned at an earlier stage and which eventually ended up in a drawer. Gradually, I realised the way I worked needed to change. More planning at the initial stages was essential, to try and reduce wasted time. So now, when an idea first emerges, I doodle my characters and annotate the drawings; describing each character’s physical appearance and personality traits, both negative and positive. Then I might draw a map of the setting or create a family tree. If I’m feeling really keen to tell this story and in love with my characters, then I’ll begin writing rough chapter outlines and hopefully from those, I’ll be able to produce a workable first draft. But obviously there are no guarantees!

  1. What feelings do you have when you walk into a place filled with books? 

Libraries always make me feel nostalgic. I remember so clearly visiting our local library with my mum every week. She would have a little wheeled trolley with her, because she’d borrow so many heavy hardbacks, one from each section of the library, that we couldn’t carry them home. I’d skip into the children’s section, fingers crossed that there would be something new, something I hadn’t yet read. 

When I enter a second-hand bookshop, I breathe in the slightly musty smell, and feel a thrill of anticipation and a buzz of excitement, because I’m on a treasure hunt. My latest treasure is a battered copy of Selfridge’s Household Encyclopaedia from 1929, which earnestly explains that appendicitis is caused by swallowing fruit pips or toothbrush bristles and has some excellent advice on the etiquette around visiting cards.

  1. What question would you have loved for me to have asked you and why? 

I would have loved you to ask me what I am working on at the moment, because my brain is currently buzzing with ideas for A Spy’s Guide to Europe, the teaching resource I’m creating to accompany my new MS, Euro Spies. The novel is about three school children on a whirlwind trip around Europe, who are catapulted into a world of art, espionage and terrible danger. Euro Spies features fiendish clues, all hidden on famous European landmarks, and lots of hard-to-crack codes. The novel was an absolute joy to write and it’s coming out in April 2023. 


Website:http://www.lindsaylittleson.co.uk/books/

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