Showing posts with label August 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label August 2021. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Richard Pickard - The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #9


Are you ready for something rather fishy? If so, then welcome to our interview with debut author Richard Pickard. The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy was published in August 2021 by Chicken House Books. It's a super sandy affair to get your suckers into and your imagination ready for ice cream, but before you set off on your adventure check out this post. The book is available to buy from all seaside resorts and good book shops. 

  1. How would you summarise your debut book, The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy, to new readers? 

The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy is a quirky seaside adventure set in a strange town where seventeen fishmongers line the seafront, and everyone is obsessed with fish. Everyone except for Marina Minnow, a young girl who loves to tell stories. One day she sets out to prove that she can have a real-life adventure by rowing across to the haunted pier and inside, she meets an amazing boy named William – who has crab claws for hands and tentacles for hair. He has been waiting there for years, for the fisherman who rescued him from the sea to return. So, together with Marina, these unlikely new friends set out to unravel the mystery of his past. It is surreal, funny, a little bit dark but absolutely full of heart at its core.

  1. This is a great name for a book, is this the original title or did it start life with another version? 

My working title was ‘Something Fishy’, which was just a placeholder literally meaning “I will come up with a fishy sounding title eventually”. After a while, it actually started to grow on me as I enjoyed the double meaning. I always knew it would probably change, and the team at Chicken House felt it was a bit too flippant for a book that also has some weight to it. I came up with a new list of suggestions, and after much discussion we all agreed ‘The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy’ was the winner. I really think it sets the tone perfectly, especially when paired with the incredible cover by Maxine Lee-Mackie.

  1. Marina is one of the central characters of the book. Can you explain to us what she is actually looking for?

Marina is a storyteller. It’s something she grew up doing, telling stories with her dad who has since gone missing at sea. Now she tells stories for herself, in order to keep her hope for his safe return alive after everyone else has given up on him ever coming back. She writes her own fantastical tales to explain his disappearance and to stay positive. But lots of people in the town think that she’s a troublemaker and a liar, so she sets out prove that she can also have a real-life adventure – and that’s when she meets William…

  1. Do you have an underlying moral or message for us to take away from this story?

Something I’m delighted to see readers are taking away is a message of tolerance and acceptance. What I hope Marina and William have proved by the end of the novel is that friendship and family can really be found in any place, if only we can embrace each other’s differences and see people for who they are in their hearts.

  1. Do you believe that your visits to the seaside have inspired parts of the story and, if so, which aspects in particular?

Absolutely! In terms of the setting, Merlington is a real mix of many different seaside towns including West Bay in Dorset, Lyme Regis in Devon, and Whitstable in Kent which is famous for its oysters and shellfish. Brighton’s dilapidated West Pier, one of my favourite UK landmarks, was also the starting point for William’s crumbling shack. That was one of the earliest seeds for the story – imagining what kind of character might live in such an inhospitable place, cut off from the land… A boy with crab claws for hands, obviously!

  1. I understand that two of your greatest childhood influences were Roald Dahl and Tim Burton. Are there any characteristics or features from their writing that you have developed or been inspired by to write your story?

With regards to Tim Burton, I’ve always loved his weird and wonderful characters. Especially those who find themselves living in a community of people who are often even stranger! Edward Scissorhands is of course a huge favourite, but more specifically it is Burton’s ability to blend the whimsical with the gloomy and frightful that has always excited and fascinated me. Equally Roald Dahl never shied away from taking his stories in a darkly funny direction. I really think kids love that kind of stuff. When I thought about the kind of town that a boy who is part-fish might be living in, the most deliciously dark idea was of course a town obsessed with eating fish! I think Dahl would’ve loved that, too.

  1. Would you have read your book when you were a child?

Absolutely. As we’ve discussed, I was a huge fan of Burton and Dahl growing up and I think the novel was written in the spirit of their work. I loved anything that was slightly odd or unusual as a kid, and I would have instantly been drawn to Maxine’s amazing cover illustration. I wrote the book hoping that it would find its way into the hands of readers who are similar to how I was at the same age – kids who like it when their adventure stories skirt the edge of darkness in a humorous way.

  1. How do you go about writing interesting and realistic characters and can (or do) they take you to places you have no control over?

My earliest characters are informed by the setting, which seems to come first for me. The abandoned pier cut off from land created William, and then his presence informed the kind of people who populated Merlington – hungry fishmongers, for the most part. 

From there, without wanting to sound too pretentious, it definitely feels like the characters need to tell me who they are for themselves. For example, I never intended for Marina’s talent for storytelling to be so vital to the plot, but the entire structure would now crumble without it. That’s why my first draft has to be written by hand, as I need to let it spill out on the page which is impossible if I’m staring at a blank computer screen. When it’s ink and paper, I don’t feel the pressure to make it perfect.

  1. What has been the best/most surprising experience working with Chicken House books?

Chicken House had always been my dream publisher, so I was quite nervous before the real work started. I had no idea whether I would be able to make the novel any better having already put so much time and energy into it. In reality, I absolutely loved the whole editing process from start to finish. It was incredible to have a team of people so invested in my barmy story which had been private for such a long time. There were so many fantastic ideas and suggestions flying about – not least from my brilliant editor, Kesia – and I can’t believe how far it has come from that very first draft. I really surprised myself.

  1. Can you tell us about any new projects or plans that might be in the pipeline? 

I’m just coming to the end of the first draft of my second novel for Chicken House, with the deadline just around the corner! This one is a full-blown summertime adventure. Much less fish, but a lot more sun and sea, plus another very odd family mystery…

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Emma Mylrea - Curse of the Dearmad - Interview (Q&A) - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books #3

Hello everybody. Welcome to the third interview as part of our debut author series. If you haven't already then please support these by checking out all of the others that have been shared to date. 

One of the middle-grade books to watch out for this August (2021) is this book by Emma Mylrea. Curse of the Dearmad is published by a small publishing company (Tiny Tree). The book is illustrated by Hannah Jesse and looks like a sure-fire winner to me. We've recently had the opportunity to ask Emma some questions about the book as well as finding out more about the author. We hope you enjoy this post and if you would like to purchase a copy then you can HERE. Equally, if you have any questions that you would like answering then please get in touch. 

  • Curse of the Dearmad is your debut book, what can we expect from the story?
The book follows the story of Percy and Nell Shearwater, who live in a world where some people, called 'gillies', can live underwater for long periods. They look like everyone else, but have small circles on their neck which set them apart. However, the world is not a safe place for gillies any more, as they rely on a perfect equilibrium with nature and the environment in order to survive. This kind of unity and balance with the environment is becoming more and more difficult to achieve due to the damage being done by humankind.
  • What is particularly special about the two main characters, Percy and Nell Shearwater?
Nell and Percy are twins. Percy was born a gillie, but his sister was not. Nell is jealous of her brother's gift, but as the story unfolds she will discover that she has a gift too, which she will need to learn how to use and control. 
  • It looks like there are a number of illustrations as part of the story, what do you think these bring and how do they add to the narrative?
Working with Hannah Jesse was wonderful. She picked up the tiniest, most subtle details from the text, and fed them into her drawings beautifully. Each chapter begins with a small illustration which sets the tone for the chapter. It was incredibly important to me that my writing should build a world for children to believe in and lose themselves in, and I think Hannah's illustrations are a jumping off point for the imagination. Of course, some readers will build their own picture of how things should look, particularly the characters, and that is the wonderful thing about writing a book, it takes on a life of its own when it winds its way into the imaginations of readers.
  • What emotions did the characters in your book take you on? Do they talk to you?
They certainly do! I really do feel that the characters in Dearmad have taken on a life of their own. Even though they are entirely fictional, I feel proud of the children in Curse of the Dearmad; they are the heroes of the story in every sense of the word. I wanted to write a book where children were empowered to take action in a world where adults are flawed and don't have all the answers. Percy, Nell and Connor take control of their lives and try to do the best for the people they love. They encounter challenges and make mistakes, but they are strong and I hope young readers will recognise themselves in Percy, Nell and Connor. 
  • How do you process your ideas into the story? 
I try to get a complete draft done, focussing on world building, and I resist the urge to edit (something I'm not good at - I find it so tempting to polish and dig down into the minutiae in that first draft). I then go back to the start and make sure the structure is plotted out properly, with pace and enough jeopardy to keep the momentum going through the book. Then I edit, edit and edit some more. 
  • The book is published by Tiny Tree Books. What can you tell us about the publisher and where can we buy your book from?
Tiny Tree is a small, independent publisher. Working with them has been such an honour. They don't publish a huge number of books each year, and have historically published picture books rather than middle grade, so for them to choose my book felt very special. They are always at the end of the phone, are really communicative and generous with their time. Tiny Tree chose to appoint a freelance editor, Emma Roberts, to work with me and it was the perfect fit; she was incredible and working with her was a complete joy. Working with Tiny Tree, and having Hannah Jesse on board, made it feel like a real team project. I don't have an agent, so knowing that I had such a great relationship with my publisher really helped me when I had moments of worry along the way. You can order direct from Tiny Tree, or from Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon, or your local bookshop.

  • You are a member of the Golden Egg Academy. How better do you think your story is for attending their writing courses? What support did they give you?
I wrote Dearmad before I started the Golden Egg Academy course. I chose to apply to GEA to help me get to grips with the mechanics of storytelling for the benefit of my next project, and it's been brilliant. I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to learn about the craft of writing and taking time to hone my skills. I have found that a lot of the things my editor supported me with when we were editing Dearmad are things that GEA teach too. In terms of support, my tutor is incredible; it never ceases to amaze me how perfectly she can get to the nub of an issue that has tied me up in knots for weeks! She can spy a spark of wonder and a fatal flaw in your story a mile off. 
  • What surprised you the most about the story once you'd finished writing the book?
Curse of the Dearmad is fundamentally a story about family and friendship, which is something I didn't plan or see coming at all! I saw it as being a pure fantasy-adventure story. There are parts that still make me cry, and those are the parts that wrote themselves once the characters became real in my mind and started to take on a life of their own.
  • Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.
I like reading characters who aren't the finished article and who have some growing and learning to do. When you begin to love a character, despite their flaws (or even because of their flaws), they start to feel real and that's the best kind of reading experience. Heroes who you believe in, despite how much they doubt themselves, are the kind I can get behind.
  • Which authors do you enjoy reading when you have time to relax?
I read a lot of middle-grade fiction, and have read some amazing debuts this year. I return to Katherine Rundell, Frank Cotrell-Boyce and Ros Welford over and over and am starting to read them with my children too, which is a real treat. I always have a non-children's book on the go and I'd say the common feature of these books is that they have to be character driven for me to lose myself in them. I particularly enjoyed The Falconer by Dana Czapnik and Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenburg-Jephcott this year.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Great new children's book picks - August 2021 - UK Published


Richard Pickard - The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy - Published by Chicken House (5 Aug. 2021) - Paperback 

Marina lives in Merlington, a fish-obsessed seaside town. Unfortunately, she doesn't care for fish; she loves telling stories.

Marina finds her best story yet when she explores the ruined, haunted pier: a boy called William with a head of tentacles and crab claws for hands. He has lived on the pier all his life, cared for by a fisherman who has since disappeared and who warned him always to remain hidden.

Together, the pair resolve to unravel the mystery of his past – but danger isn't far away ...

Alex English (Author), Mark Chambers (Illustrated) - Sky Pirates: The Dragon's Gold - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (5 Aug. 2021) - Paperback 
Echo Quickthorn has been reunited with her sky-pirate mother, Indigo Lil, and is now a fully-fledged member of the Black Sky Wolves. So when Lil is summoned to the Alliance of the Seven Skies, Echo decides to sneak along with her friend Horace. There, Horace is captured by the dastardly Thunder Sharks, a rival pirate clan, who present Echo with an ultimatum: they’ll release her friend in exchange for the legendary dragon’s gold ...

Echo must journey – through underwater libraries and active volcanoes – to the inhospitable Dragonlands, in order to find the dragon’s lair. But can she find the treasure and prove herself to be a true-sky pirate?

Darren Simpson - The Memory Thieves - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd; UK  (5 Aug. 2021) - Paperback 

What you don't remember can't hurt you... Cyan has lived at the Elsewhere Sanctuary for as long as he can remember, freed by Dr Haven from dark memories of his past life. But when Cyan finds a mysterious warning carved into the bones of a whale skeleton, he starts to wonder what he had to forget to be so happy. New resident, Jonquil, begins to resist the sanctuary's treatment, preferring to hold on to her memories - even the bad ones. So when Dr Haven resorts to harsher measures, Cyan embarks on a secret mission to discover the truth about the sanctuary...and himself. 

Jerry Spinelli - Dead Wednesday - Published by Random House (3 Aug. 2021)  Paperback 

Worm Tarnauer has spent most of the eighth grade living down to his nickname. He prefers to be out of sight, underground. He walked the world unseen. He’s happy to let his best friend, Eddie, lead the way and rule the day. And this day―Dead Wednesday―is going to be awesome. The school thinks assigning each eighth grader the name of a teenager who died in the past year and having them don black shirts and become “invisible” will make them contemplate their own mortality. Yeah, sure. The kids know that being invisible to teachers really means you can get away with anything. It’s a day to go wild! But Worm didn’t count on Becca Finch (17, car crash). Letting this girl into his head is about to change everything. Jerry Spinelli tells the story of the unexpected, heart\-breaking, hilarious, truly epic day when Worm Tarnauer discovers his own life.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Alastair Chisholm - ADAM-2 - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

The puzzler from Edinburgh is back with his second exciting novel entitled Adam-2. The book is a summer delight published by Nosy Crow Books on 5th August 2021. The fantastically vibrant and brilliant orange book cover has been illustrated by Dan Munford - it's an absolute beauty brimming with anticipated adventure. 

I've been in a bit of a reading slump for some months now as I've been trying to find not only the time to read but also books that I will really enjoy. I think every prolific reader finds themselves in this situation from time to time. I have read a few books recently that did not hold my attention or were too reality-based when what I really wanted was a book to escape into. Fortunately, Alastair Chisholm hit the nail on the head with this book by providing everything I needed. It's a real fantasy-based book that throws up challenging questions in a world so distant from our very own. The author has set his stall out with a great imaginary world that is so absorbing you will certainly not want to leave it. 

The book starts with a dark tale where we find Adam-2 locked in a basement. Even worst, we find out he's been there for over two hundred years. I never read the synopsis for this book so, at the start, I had no idea what was going on. I think that really kept me engaged and eager to read on and find out more.  For this reason, I'm not going to mention any of the plot or synopsis in this review so you can enjoy it as much as I did. All I will say is that it is a fast-paced Sci-Fi futuristic read set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some of the famous landmarks are used to great effect in telling the story. 

The book's characters are fantastically written and develop through the story process with great heart as they uncover what it really means to be human. It really made me think about the choices the characters were making along their journeys. The plot ending was a great climatic roller-coaster that left me both satisfied but very sad to finish. This book is full of explosive action with some epic twists and turns that create a truly stunning cinematic read. 

It's a new world... how can we save it? There's a War between HUMANS and advanced INTELLIGENCE, what more could you want? Make sure you find the time to read this book as it is surely the best book to be published this month. It will really give you a Middle-Grade fantasy boost that will make your pulse rate beat faster with every page turned.