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

Monday, 25 October 2021

Michael Mann - Ghostcloud - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #11


We are coming to the end of our brilliant debut author interview series. I'd like to say a big thank you to all of the authors for the time they gave providing some really insightful answers. This week we are finishing with an amazing interview - it's a great contender for a good Halloween read. Ghostcloud is the debut book by Michael Mann and was recently published by Hodder Children's Books on 7th October 2021. It's a lovely hardback with a fantastic visual appeal. It could be a contender for this year's annual book cover wars, what do you think? 

Without further ado, let's find out more about the author and their book in this Q&A. Please support all our debut authors by buying their books. Here is a list of all the other INTERVIEWS we have covered which you can check out HERE. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day! 

  1. How would you promote or explain the story behind your book in just 50 words?
Ghostcloud is a magical adventure about 12-year-old Luke, who shovels coal beneath a power station in a reimagined London, hoping to earn his freedom. One day, Luke meets a mysterious ghost-girl, who offers him another way out, drawing him into a whirlwind adventure, featuring ghosts, the smog and the skies over London.
  1. What are you looking forward to most once your debut book has been published?

Celebrating with all my friends in a park with some bubbly (and, perhaps, taking a break from Twitter!)

  1. What inspired you to write Ghostcloud?

My grandad was a coal-miner in Yorkshire, called Luke, so that must have been a factor. The kids I teach constantly inspire me. But a big one, I suppose, has to be the sky, I hope that after reading the book kids do look at it a little differently. 

This is because a big idea in the book is that when you see a shape in the clouds– whether it’s a horse or skull or whatever – that it might just be watching you back. In the book, Luke visits this ‘Ghostcloud’ world and learns to do the things these ghosts can: he learns to ride the clouds, bend their shape to his will, fire lightning and make it rain. And I hope that’s exciting for kids – that there’s a whole new world, above our heads, waiting to be discovered.

  1. You won your first writing competition at school-aged ten. What have you learned since then that has helped you to write this book?

Some practical things like cutting back on adverbs. Some subtle things – like how to put a bit more of my heritage into my work. I’ve even had to unlearn some things – it turns out it is allowed (and fun) to start sentences with ‘But’!

Most of all I learned that you must write for yourself and not worry about others. Books are so subjective – what one person loves, another one hates – if you try to please everyone, it’s impossible. Start with enjoying it yourself, then anything else is a bonus. 

  1. How do you encourage aspiring young writers who would like to become published authors in the future?

I know lots of authors who got published on their third or fourth book, so my advice would be keep writing, and write to the end. You learn so much from finishing a story.

I’d also say, while you shouldn’t worry whether everyone will like it, feedback from the right people is definitely useful. I found courses invaluable for building up a network of writers and tutors who I trust, and who gave feedback sensitively and thoughtfully.  

  1. How important is getting children into reading for you? 

It’s everything to me. I usually teach 9-year-olds, and some kids are already going off books – and it breaks my heart! But I also believe that it’s never too late: the right book, at the right time, and you can get you back into it.

Books open up worlds. They’ve taught me so much about the human experience. They’re also an escape and a refuge when times are tough. Every child (and every adult) needs that from time to time.

  1. Who did you share your book with prior to it being published and what kind of feedback did you get? 

My first draft I shared with my mum and she didn’t comment, which was clearly a bad sign, because she’s one of those people who is lovely about everything. A course tutor also queried the pace and voice. I didn’t take the hint, though, I thought it was well-written, so I sent it to an editor (at Lighthouse Literary) who gave invaluable specifics on what needed to change.

I then started again, with a completely different tone and plot, while on course at CityLit and then Curtis Brown – and this time it was working. I had feedback from the tutors and coursemates (some who kindly read the whole finished manuscript before submitting) and that was invaluable. 

  1. What is the key message you would like readers to take from your book and how important is that to you?
Can I pick two!? 

One is that you don’t have to feel brave, to do brave things. Often all you need to do is keep going, one step at a time. ‘It’s not over till it’s over’ as Ghostcloud’s hero Luke says.

Secondly, there’s a message that it’s ok to be halfway, to be a ‘work in progress’. I’m half-Indian, half-white, and as a kid, I often felt I wasn’t one thing properly. Luke feels the same. But through the course of the book, he and many of the other characters, who don’t fit the categories in some way or another, grow to accept the ‘in-between’ and see it’s strength.

  1. How many bookshelves do you have in your home and, more importantly, what are your most treasured or favourite books that we would find sitting on them?

My partner hates clutter so I don’t have half as many as I’d like, but at least twice as many as he’d like. My most treasured books, hmm, you’d have all the Roald Dahls, all the TinTins, John Wyndhams, Phillip K Dicks, Neil Gaimans, Jonathan Strouds, David Eddings, Julian Mays, Vikram Seths and at least two copies of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. (And a ton more children’s books – Holes by Louis Sachar, Wolves of Willhoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, and I could go on!)

10. If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing/writing process, or books what would they be?

I ask Piers Torday questions all the time – he’s been so wise and helpful to me on the process – as have many other authors, like Vashti Hardy, Ross Montgomery. 

But hmm, perhaps, I’d ask Roald Dahl about the Witches – it’s such a fun, terrifying, strange book, with these huge stretches of mesmerising monologues from the grandma about witches, all building up to that epic scene with the Grand High Witch. I love it, but don’t know how he did it.

Then I’d probably ask Tolstoy how he gets his characters are so real, and somehow (at least for me) to capture the whole human experience. Even a drop of that and I’d be happy.

Then I just finished The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud – and it transported me away – and was plotted ever so perfectly. So I’d just ask him if he wanted to go for a coffee, so I could tell him how much I loved it.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Lenny Henry (Author), Keenon Ferrell (Illustrator) - The Boy With Wings - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry has written a children's book. The Boy With Wings was published by MacMillan Children's Books on the 14th October 2021. The book has a personal meaning as he wanted to create characters that young children could identify with as this was something he found difficult as a child. As an avid young reader, he often wanted to go on a fantasy journey with a character that looked and felt like him. It’s sad to think that the young Lenny Henry, and of course many other children, have not found this in the characters they’ve been reading. This must have impacted on their engagement with and opportunities to fully immerse in stories because of this. Therefore, we need to make sure that current literature for children doesn't continue to exclude and preclude children but to ensure that there they have a rich diversity to ensure stories are a brilliant place for every reader.  

In this rocket-fuelled adventure, I believe he has nailed every aspect he has set out to do. It starts out with an ordinary kid, Tunde, who is surrounded by characters that most readers will be able to relate to. The book covers subjects of loneliness, friendship and bullying whilst wrapping the plot up with intelligent and fitting humour. This is something that only a great comedian can pull off and he does so with style. The story is imaginative and involves everyday family and school life but it also ventures into a warp-speed fantasy mission about saving the world from a devastating alien war. 

The book is spectacular in that it has a great message, a quirky plotline and lots of stuff that both kids and adults will relate to as the story works on so many levels. There are different interpretations of the narrative through the marvellous black and white illustrations by Keenon Ferrell. There is also an added bonus of a small illustrative comic book included at the back of the book which enhances the creative experience. This has been produced by the wonderful comic creator, Mark Buckingham. 

The book is emotional and thought-provoking. It’s a booster breeze with a winged superhero who runs faster than Usain Bolt, jumps higher than Michael Jordan and scores better goals than Marcus Rashford. It’s a fast-paced adventure with video game-like qualities that will have you immersed with all the baked treats of a Masterchef getting the ingredients wrong. Watch out for the magpies as they have very sharp beaks and the flying feline cats. What more can you want from a read?

This book is a feast for the senses and one of the best books of the year. Innit? A modern marvel for all the family. Grab a copy and read it today! 


Sunday, 17 October 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children's Book Picks - October 2021 - US Published Post


Anne Ursu - The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy - Published by  Walden Pond Press (October 12, 2021) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062275127 - Hardback 

From the acclaimed author of The Real Boy and The Lost Girl comes a wondrous and provocative fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them.

If no one notices Marya Lupu, is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.

The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. 

For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy—a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.

Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself—things that threaten the precarious balance upon which Illyria is built. Visit Anne online at

Mindy Thompson - The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams - Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (October 26, 2021) -  ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593110379 - Hardback 
This moving story about a magical bookstore explores the way war can shape a family and is perfect for book lovers everywhere, especially fans of Pages & Co., Pax, and Wolf Hollow.

It’s 1944 Sutton, NY, and Poppy’s family owns and runs, Rhyme and Reason, a magical bookshop that caters to people from all different places and time periods. Though her world is ravaged by World War II, customers hail from the past and the future, infusing the shop with a delightful mix of ideas and experiences.
Poppy dreams of someday becoming shopkeeper like her father, though her older brother, Al, is technically next in line for the job. She knows all of the rules handed down from one generation of Bookseller to the next, especially their most important one: shopkeepers must never use the magic for themselves.
But then Al’s best friend is killed in the war and her brother wants to use the magic of the shop to save him. With her father in the hospital suffering from a mysterious illness, the only one standing between Al and the bookstore is Poppy. Caught between her love for her brother and loyalty to her family, she knows her brother’s actions could have devastating consequences that reach far beyond the bookshop as an insidious, growing Darkness looms. This decision is bigger than Poppy ever dreamed, and the fate of the bookshops hangs in the balance.
Visit Mindy online at

Lori R. Snyder - The Circus at the End of the Sea - Published by HarperCollins (October 19, 2021) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063047105 - Hardback 

A vibrant and enchanting debut novel about an orphan girl who discovers a magical circus, perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Rebecca Stead!

Maddy Adriana knows that magic is real. All her life, her heart has pulled her towards things too perfect to be ordinary. One day, that tug leads her to a magical street circus, hidden in plain sight among the canals and boardwalks of Venice Beach.

For the first time in Maddy’s life, she finally feels like she belongs. But the circus is in grave danger. Maddy will need to confront the frightening side of magic, as well as her own deepest fears, if she’s to have any hope of saving the place she dreams of calling home.

This unforgettable debut shows readers the magic of following your heart and finding where you belong. Visit Lori online at

  • Heather Fawcett - The Language of Ghosts - Published by Balzer + Bray (October 5, 2021)  - ISBN-13: 978-0062854551 - Paperback 

    The Penderwicks meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this thrilling middle grade fantasy adventure about a trio of royal siblings who unlock a long-forgotten magical language in their bid to reclaim their stolen throne—from Ember and the Ice Dragons author Heather Fawcett. Perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Robert Beatty.

    Forced into exile on an enchanted, moving island, ex-princess Noa Marchena has two missions: reclaim her family’s stolen throne and ensure that the dark powers her older brother, Julian, possesses don’t go to his head in the process. But between babysitting her annoying little sister, Mite, and keeping an eye on the cake-loving sea monster that guards the moving island, Noa has her hands full.

    When the siblings learn that their enemies are searching for a weapon capable of defeating Julian—whose legendary spell weaving is feared throughout the kingdom—once and for all, they vow to get to it first. To everyone’s surprise, the key to victory turns out to be a long-lost magical language—and only Noa can speak it.

    But what if by helping her brother, Noa ends up losing him? 

    Visit Heather online at

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children's Book Picks October 2021 - UK Post One


Onjali Q. Rauf - The Lion Above the Door - Published by 
Orion Children's Books (14 Oct. 2021) - 
ISBN-13 : 978-1510106758 -  Paperback 

From Onjali Q. Rauf, the award-winning and best-selling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, comes an incredible story about missing histories and the concept of a universal family, told with humour and heart.

Leo and his best friend Sangeeta are the odd ones out in their school. But as Leo's dad is always telling him, it's because they're special. Only thing is, if they're so special, how come they never see anyone who looks like them in their school history books?

Then, on a class trip to a nearby cathedral, Leo's attention is drawn to a large marble slab high above the doors of the hall. Right there, bang in the middle of a list of war heroes, Leo finds himself staring at something incredible: his own name.

Desperate to know who this other Leo was, the two friends embark on a search. And together, they begin to uncover missing stories from the past, ones which they are determined to put back into their rightful place in the pages of history.

Touching on themes of historical racism, The Lion Above the Door shines a light on the stories our history books have yet to contain and the power of friendships that can last through generations.

The first edition of this book also contains a special collection of historical photos and stories of real life forgotten heroes from World War Two. 

Catherine Bruton - Following Frankenstein - Published by 
Nosy Crow (7 Oct. 2021) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1788008440 - Paperback 

A brilliantly-conceived and hugely imaginative 'sequel' to Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Following Frankenstein is a hugely exciting and beautifully-written historical adventure, perfect for 9-12 year olds.

Sometimes I was jealous of the monster of Frankenstein. I grew up believing my father cared more for him than he did for me. And was I wrong?

Maggie Walton's father has dedicated his life to a single pursuit: hunting down the monster created by Victor Frankenstein. It has cost Maggie and her family everything - and now her father is staking everything on one last voyage to the Arctic, with Maggie secretly in tow, where he hopes to find the monster at last.

But there they make a shocking discovery: Frankenstein's monster has a son...

A breath-taking, epic adventure, spanning the icy wastes of the Arctic Tundra to the vaudeville circus of New York, from the award-winning author of No Ballet Shoes in Syria and Another Twist in the Tale.

Luke Gamble - The Secret Animal Society - Published by Scholastic (7 Oct. 2021) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-0702309618 - Paperback 

A thrilling magical adventure, perfect for animal lovers!

The debut novel from real-life vet Luke Gamble, as seen on Sky TV.

'An irresistible, magical adventure' Vashti Hardy, author of Wildspark

When Edith Wight is sent to spend the summer with her eccentric uncle, she has no idea what is in store.

Her uncle, the Doctor, runs a vet practice in a remote part of the New Forest, shrouded in secrecy. The reason for the mystery surrounding it, Edith discovers, is none other than the protection of some of the Earth's most unusual animals - creatures that most believe only exist in folklore.

Then the Doctor receives a summons from the Himalayas to help a family of yetis and Edith finds herself on the voyage of a lifetime.

But Edith and the Doctor are not the only ones taking an interest in the yetis... The Doctor's old enemies, the Syndicate are on a mission to hunt down every last mythical creature on Earth.

  • As seen on prime-time Sky TV shows Vet Adventure and World Wide Vet, vet Luke Gamble is committed to the protection of animals worldwide.
  • Classic storytelling combined with a passionate message about the protection of endangered species.
  • The stunning first book in a new series for fans of Dr Doolittle, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Polar Bear Explorers' Club.

Nicola Davies - The Song that Sings Us - Published by Firefly Press Ltd (14 Oct. 2021) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913102777 - Hardback 

When animals talk, it's time humans listened: Harlon has been raised to protect her younger siblings, twins Ash and Xeno, and their outlawed power of communicating with animals. But when the sinister Automators attack their mountain home they must flee for their lives. Xeno is kidnapped and Harlon and Ash are separated.

In a thrilling and dangerous adventure they must all journey alone through the ice fields, forests and oceans of Rumyc to try to rescue each other and fulfil a mysterious promise about a lost island made to their mother.

A stunning environmental epic with cover and chapter illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Jackie Morris.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Best Illustrated Children's Books - Sep/Oct 2021


We have picked five fantastic illustrated marvels that also have a great story to go alongside each one. They are all creative and very special with so much imagination inside them that you will instantly escape into each one. We hope you like our choices for September/October 2021. 

Author/Illustrator: Tom Gauld  

Title: The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess  

Published: Templar Publishing (2 Sept. 2021) 

Hardback: ISBN-13  978-178741917

Purchase HERE

    A whimsical modern fairy tale from internationally renowned cartoonist, Tom Gauld.

    When the log princess goes missing, her brother, the little wooden robot, sets out on an epic adventure to find her. He will encounter goblins, magic puddings, a mushroom queen and a very intimidating woodpile as he seeks to bring his sister home.

    The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess is an exquisitely illustrated modern fairytale about sibling love. Tom Gauld brings all of his wit, draghtsmanship and narrative craft to a funny, moving tale that proves that woodlice can be heroes too.

    Author/Illustrator: William Grill  

    Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue

    Published: Flying Eye Books (1 Oct. 2021)
    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏  978-1838740238
    Pre-Order Here

    When a world war comes to Myanmar (Burma), one special elephant becomes a hero. As people are forced to leave their home in the Burmese jungle, Bandoola, his keeper Po Toke, and war veteran James Howard Williams (Aka Elephant Bill), undertake a journey that will test their courage, taking trust, understanding and bravery to the very limit. Together, they lead a group of 53 elephants and over 200 refugees to safety, scaling 6000ft mountains as they trek from Myanmar to northern India.

    In this moving tale based on a true story, award-winning William Grill’s stunning illustrations show the majesty of Myanmar’s forests and mountains, the backdrop to a heart-warming tale about empathy between humans and animals, and the strength that can arise from working together when the world is full of danger.

    Author/Illustrator: Jakob Wegelius (Translated by Peter Graves)

    Title: The False Rose

    Published: Pushkin Children's Books (7 Oct. 2021) 

    Hardback: ISBN-13  978-1782693215

    Pre-Order Here

    When Sally Jones and The Chief discover a curious rose-shaped necklace hidden onboard their beloved Hudson Queen, it’s the start of another perilous adventure for the seafaring gorilla and her faithful friend. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, they set sail for Glasgow, but there fall into the clutches of one of the city’s most ruthless gangs, commanded by a fearsome smuggler queen who will stop at nothing to snatch the necklace for herself.

    Held prisoner hundreds of miles from friendship and safety, Sally Jones must use all her strength, determination and compassion to escape and unravel the mysterious story of the False Rose – a twisting tale leading all the way from Lisbon to Shetland and the South Seas.

    Author/Illustrator: Pam Smy

    Title: The Hideaway

    Published: Pavilion Children's (9 Sept. 2021)

    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1843654797 - Book Review HERE

    Purchase HERE 

    The wonderful long-awaited second novel from Pam Smy celebrated author and illustrator of Thornhill.

    The Hideaway tells the story of a boy, Billy McKenna, who runs away from a difficult situation at home and takes refuge in an overgrown graveyard. While hiding there he meets an elderly man who is tending the graves in preparation for a day in November when something magical is set to happen.

    The book is written in two alternating narratives, both different aspects of the same story. One thread tells of Billy’s experience of hiding away in the graveyard, his mixed-up feelings and emotions, and the supernatural events he eventually witnesses. The other tells of his mother’s situation at home and the police search for Billy. Covering themes of family, childhood, separation and reunion, domestic violence and doing the right thing, this is an important and beautiful book for middle-grade readers right up to adults.

    Billy’s story is illustrated throughout with tonal and textured black and white drawings, until the event on All Souls’ Eve, when the text gives way to a series of double-page images of the supernatural happening.

    The Hideaway is a compelling, exciting and emotional story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

    Author/Illustrator|: James Mayhew
    Title: Once Upon a Tune 
    Published: Otter-Barry Books (9 Sept. 2021)
    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913074036
    Purchase Here

    Six wonderful stories that inspired world-famous music, accompanied by brilliant illustrations.

    Once Upon a Tune brings you six wonderful stories from many lands - all of which inspired great music. You can battle trolls with Peer Gynt in 'The Hall of the Mountain King'; grapple with a magic broom in 'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice'; meet the evil Witch of the North in 'The Swan of Tuonela'; sail the seven seas with Sinbad the Sailor in 'Scheherazade'; be a prince disguised as a bee in 'The Flight of the Bumblebee'; and become a fearless hero in 'William Tell'.
    The stories are excitingly told and stunningly illustrated by James Mayhew, who is famous for bringing live classical music, art, and storytelling to families across the UK. There is also a Musical Notes feature, where you can find out more about the stories and music, plus discover James’ recommended recordings - which can be downloaded too.

    Wednesday, 8 September 2021

    Melissa Welliver - The Undying Tower (The Undying Trilogy) - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #5

    Hello Everybody. It's time to talk YA fiction on Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books with the debut book by Melissa Welliver. The Undying Tower is the first book in an action-packed dystopian trilogy that will be published in October 2021 by Agora Books. In this interview, we get a fantastic insight into the story, the characters, and the author's road to being published. We hope you enjoy this post. 

    If you fancy finding out more or you just want to get ahead then please preorder HERE. There is a possibility that you might be able to get a signed copy and some special extras. Enjoy your week. 
    1.   Can you share something with us about the story that isn’t in the blurb?

    Great question! I think something major that is in there from the beginning is that Sadie is a Synaesthete – someone who has a particular cross-wiring of her brain so she associates smells and colours with certain emotions. She is an artist, and her synaesthesia informs her art just as much as her other senses. For the most part, the colour match-ups with the emotions are based on my own synaesthesia.


    2.    Why do you think we should read this book?

    If you’re missing the dystopian YA of the 2010s, but want something with a bit of a reboot, then you should absolutely read The Undying Tower! If that doesn’t persuade you, don’t listen to me, listen to Michael Grant, author of the Gone series: “In the spirit of The Hunger Games but deeper, more heartfelt, even profound in its examination of the downsides of eternal life. I loved The Undying Tower. Melissa Welliver has arrived on the scene and attention should be paid.” (I know, I’m still star-struck!)

    3.    The book is set in a dystopian world. What does the future look like for the characters in the book? 

    The future is bleak, I’m sad to say! The world has been ravaged by nuclear war, climate change disaster, and an over-population crisis. Throw into the mix that 5% of the population will never die from old age, and these issues only get worse. That said, the young heroes of the novel have good intensions and a will to do better than their forefathers, so I’m hopeful that things could get better one day (look out book 3!)

    4.    Is there an underlying message you would like readers to take from this story as they read the book?

    The major message is that if you have a voice, use it. The book really champions fighting for what’s right, especially when the world is against you.

    5.    The Undying Tower is the first book of a trilogy. Do you know how the story is going to develop across the other two books?

    While books 2 and 3 are yet to be written, I do have a plot outline for each, plus one for the overall arc of the trilogy as a whole. I’m learning a lot about myself as a writer throughout the publishing process, and those lessons are bound to affect those outlines a little! But on the whole, I know where the story ultimately needs to end up.

    6.    Do you have a favourite character in the book? If so, who is it and what makes them so special to you?

    I really want to be best friends with Rivers. She is the feisty right-hand-woman of our main character, Sadie, and she totally kicks butt. She also has a softer side that we see the edges of in book 1 and that I want to explore further in other books. Rivers always has your back, plus she’s pretty handy with a knife, so I definitely want her on my survival team!

    7.    If your book was to be made into a movie, which celebrities would you like to star in it?

    A film deal – the dream! The Undying Tower is set in the UK, so I’d love to see some British stalwarts like Patterson Joseph or Benedict Cumberbatch in there, perhaps as members of the resistance. That said, the Avalonia Zone (the new name for the British Isles) does own some overseas colonies, so there’s certainly room for some wonderful American or European actors. I’d like the younger roles to go to younger actors, perhaps even to an as-yet-unknown person – to give someone a big break like Agora Books has given me would be another dream come true!

    8.    Please could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer?

    I’m Melissa and I live in the North of England. Like most writers, I’ve always wanted to write, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. The publishing industry can be very opaque and that can make it difficult for new writers. In the end, I did a fair few courses for creative writing and slowly the idea for The Undying Tower came together. It’s been nine years of perseverance, rejections, ups and downs, but I’m finally here. Never give up!

    9.    If you had a soundtrack for this book, what would it be and why?

    I listened to a lot of film soundtracks when writing The Undying Tower, funnily enough. I think a big, dramatic score by John Williams is a perfect accompaniment to the story’s punchy themes and action scenes.

    10. What do you think is the main thing you have to get right when writing a book for Young Adults?

    Voice. With any age group this is important, but especially so with YA. We’re competing against video games, TikTok, Netflix – a whole array of distractions that seem bigger and better than reading. If you don’t nail that voice, your teen audience won’t want to follow your character for 300 pages on their adventure. Voice helps any story come alive.