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.

Friday, 5 August 2022

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


David Owen - Alex Neptune, Dragon Thief: Book 1 - Published by Usborne Publishing (4 Aug. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474999236 - Paperback - Age: 8+ - You can buy Here

    Meet Alex Neptune, the boy with the power of the ocean in his hands - a brand-new hero for fans of Percy Jackson and Dragon Realm!

    For as long as Alex Neptune can remember, the ocean has been trying to kill him. So he's not too happy when a bunch of sea creatures drag him to the abandoned aquarium on the hill, where an imprisoned water dragon needs his help. But how can he say no to a magical creature? 

    Recruiting his tech-genius best friend Zoe, legend-lover Anil, a sharp-shooting octopus, three acrobatic otters and a thieving seagull, Alex plots a heist to break the dragon out. And suddenly discovers the power of the ocean at his fingertips...

    A. F. Harrold (Author), Levi Pinfold (Illustrator) - The Worlds We Leave Behind - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (4 Aug. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1526623881 - Hardback - Age: 11+ You can buy HERE

    An extraordinary story about friendship and betrayal. Of revenge and retribution but also redemption. Perfect for 11+ readers who enjoy Stranger Things. 

    Hex never meant for the girl to follow him and his friend Tommo into the woods. He never meant for her to fall off the rope swing and break her arm. When the finger of blame is pointed at him, Hex runs deep into the woods and his fierce sense of injustice leads him to a strange clearing in the woods - a clearing that has never been there before - where an old lady in a cottage offers him a deal. She'll rid the world of those who wronged him and Hex can carry on his life with them all forgotten and as if nothing ever happened. But what Hex doesn't know is someone else has been offered the same deal.

    When Hex's best friend Tommo wakes up the next day, he is in a completely different world but he only has murmurs of memories of the world before. Moments of deja vu that feel like Tommo's lived this day before. 
    Can Tommo put the world right again? Back to how it was? Or can he find a way to make a new world that could be better for them all?

    Simon Fox - Running out of Time - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (4 Aug. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839944390 - Paperback - Age: 8+ - You can buy HERE

    A thrilling, unputdownable debut, with extraordinary twists and incredible action, from an incredible new voice in children's fiction.

    I can steal time.

    The most I can take at the moment is fifteen seconds, which is not a lot. Grandmother took almost three minutes once and she told me she's done more, but I never saw it.

    She says there are stories of someone who can take all the time in the world, but how can that be right?

    When Alex and his father are forced to flee their home to escape a brutal government, they begin a life-threatening journey across Europe. But when they are separated before they can reach Britain, Alex finds himself alone, with only his extraordinary gift to keep him alive.

    Perfect for fans of Alex RiderArtemis Fowl, and Inception, <I>Running out of Time</I> is an ingenious, high-concept thriller with a twist that you won't believe.

    Susie Bower - The Dangerous Life of Ophelia Bottom - Published by Pushkin Children's Books (4 Aug. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1782693604 - Paperback - Age: 10+ You can buy HERE

    A refreshingly comic and fast-paced mystery about a girl learning the value of not fitting in, from the acclaimed author of School for Nobodies and The Three Impossibles

    Ophelia Bottom longs for an ordinary life: to have normal, well-behaved parents rather than embarrassing actors, and to live in a house that stays still. Instead, she’s stuck living in a rickety converted van – and having to manage her parents’ often disastrous plays at Bottom’s Travelling Theatre.

    When the family are forced to stay in the idyllic town of Stopford, Ophelia’s dream appears to be coming true. But someone is trying to drive the Bottoms out, and there’s the issue of the strange Stopford motto: PLASTIC IS FANTASTIC – DIFFERENT IS DANGEROUS. Can Ophelia discover what lurks behind Stopford’s perfect appearance, before she loses everything that makes her family so special?

    Monday, 1 August 2022

    Tom Huddleston - Flood World Trilogy - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #34


    Are you ready for another brilliant interview? Well, we hope the answer is yes to that question! Today we're delighted to welcome the multi-talented writer and musician Tom Huddleston. He's the author of the fantastic dystopian FloodWorld trilogy published by Nosy Crow books. This series is one of our favourites as it is one of the best that we have read for some time. It was an absolute delight to be able to ask Tom some questions about his book and writing career so far. Anyway without further ado, thanks for taking the time to read the post; we hope you have a great week. 

    • You have written an interesting mix of books for children, which story was the most fun to write and why?
    The FloodWorld books were by far the most fun and satisfying to write, because it was my story, my ideas, my characters, my world. Writing Star Wars books was amazing, obviously, and I also loved writing books set in the Warhammer universe. But nothing can beat creating my own future. 
    • You have finished writing the FloodWorld Trilogy (published by Nosy Crow) was there a particular message you wanted to convey through these books and did this go according to plan?
    I wanted to encourage readers to think about climate change and what the real cost could be - as the title implies, the books are set in a flooded future, in a city half-sunk beneath the waves. They're also about inequality and exploitation, how some people will use a disaster to grab more wealth or power for themselves. Those are pretty heavy topics, but what I didn't want was for the books to be depressing, or a slog to read - I wanted them to be exciting adventure stories, full of action and friendship and hope. And yes, it went according to my own plan - some might argue that I ought to be treating these issues more seriously, but personally I think a hard lesson is easier to learn if it's presented in an entertaining fashion.  
    • What are you writing at the moment?
    I'm working on a couple of different things - my first non-fiction book, which I can't really talk about, and my first novel for adults, which is quite a daunting task! But I've also just submitted the first draft of a new book for teenage readers, another real-world dystopian adventure story, so we'll see what happens there. And of course I'm still working on the Cosmic Creatures series of fun sci-fi stories for younger readers, they're a real pleasure to write.
    • Has your childhood influenced your writing in any way? Which books did you particularly love reading?
    My childhood remains a huge influence on my writing - I don't think you can write for or about kids without drawing on your own childhood experiences. In many ways I think I'm still a kid - I mean, I spend my days dreaming up stories rather than getting a proper job. As for books, I was a big fantasy fan, I read The Lord of the Rings repeatedly, alongside the Earthsea books and the work of Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, people like that. But I read pretty much anything that was put in front of me, to be honest.
    • I know you are a massive Sci-fi fan so what is your favourite Sci-fi film/series? 
    I don't think you can beat Star Wars as a series, particularly The Empire Strikes Back, it's a perfect film. I don't like every single one of the movies, but it's such a rich and detailed universe that's always fun to revisit. But my absolute favourite sci-fi movie, indeed probably my favourite film of all time, is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's so rare to find a film that's intensely thrilling without resorting to violence or scares, it's all about optimism and wonder. Honestly, watching it comes close to being a spiritual experience for me - maybe I just want them to come and take me away!
    • Do you have any hobbies or collections?
    I have a pretty big record collection that I've been working on since I was a kid, I got my first record player when I was six and I've spent most of my spare money on vinyl ever since. But in recent years I can only afford new records if I sell a few old ones - writing isn't exactly a lucrative profession! As for hobbies, I play in a band called The No Sorrows - you can find our album on Spotify! - and watch a lot of movies. But to be honest, my main hobby is also my job - writing books. I'm very lucky to be able to say that.

    You can buy the books HERE.