Monday, 9 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books; New Books Published by Hot Key Books - November 2015

C. R. Grey - Flight of the King (Animas) - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
When animals and humans unite, amazing things can happen.
Bailey and his group of friends are back Fairmount academy, accompanied by Gwen, the Elder's apprentice. But all is not well. They quickly figure out that evil ruler Viviana has something planned for the day of her grand Progress Fair, and knowing Viviana, it won't be good.

But their plans to stop her are swiftly torn apart. Taleth, the last white tiger and Bailey's only kin, is kidnapped. Bailey and Hal must follow her trail deep into the Dust Plains, but they could never have predicted the danger that they will find there. Meanwhile, Gwen and Phi are on a quest of their own - having been entrusted with finding 'The Instrument of Change', they know their mission is an important one. But could Gwen be more special than she knows? Somehow, although they are separated, the friends must pull together. Because the fate of not just the kingdom, but the Animas bond itself, is in their hands..

Ruth Hatfield - The Colour of Darkness - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
A vibrant, powerful follow-up to the electrifying THE BOOK OF STORMS.
Danny O'Neill hasn't had a single good night's sleep in the year since he discovered the book of storms. Exhausted and a social outcast, he wishes only to escape the shadowy figure of Sammael who controls his dreams and nightmares.

Cath Carrera, from the other side of town, dreams of escaping her brutish father and spiteful step-family. So when she meets Barshin, a talking hare who offers her protection from her dad's latest violent rage, she doesn't think twice about going with him. But she didn't expect to find a place like Chromos: a vibrant, addictive dreamland built from her imagination, in all its colours.

In return for his protection, Barshin wants Cath to deliver a message to Danny: he must rescue his cousin Tom from Sammael before it is too late.
Together, the three must find a way to stop Sammael before he destroys Tom. But even with the help of talking plants and creatures, and a friendly stag, the journey to Chromos and beyond is a dangerous, near-impossible mission, and Danny and Cath will have to muster every scrap of bravery and ingenuity to have a hope of succeeding. 

Keris Stainton - Lily and the Christmas Wish - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
When a town's Christmas wishes get mixed-up, can one little girl and her dog put them right? The little town of Pinewood can't wait for Christmas this year. They're going to celebrate by putting up a giant Christmas tree in the town square, and asking all the townspeople to hang a Christmas wish on its branches. Everyone is feeling very festive, including nine-year-old Lily - although she's not sure she believes in wishes. Then a very strange storm blows in, scattering all the wishes...and Lily wakes up the next morning to a bit of a surprise. Bug, her adorable pug puppy, can talk! It's magic - and a wish come true! But it's not Lily's wish...Lily and her little brother James soon discover that something must have happened during the storm - the town's wishes have been granted, but to all the wrong people! Lily, James and Bug must work out which wish belongs to who, and sort everything out before Christmas Eve - otherwise no one will get what they want for Christmas.

Edward Carey - Lungdon (Iremonger trilogy) - Hot key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
The ghastly climax to the gothic Iremonger trilogy.
The dirt town of Foulsham has been destroyed, its ashes still smoldering. Darkness lies heavily over the city, the sun has not come up for days. Inside the houses throughout the capital, ordinary objects have begun to move. Strange new people run through the darkened streets. There are rumours of a terrible contagion. From the richest mansion to the poorest slum people have disappeared. The police have been instructed to carry arms. And rats, there are rats everywhere.

Someone has stolen a certain plug.
Someone is lighting a certain box of matches.
All will come tumbling down.

The Iremongers have come to London.

Why not subscribe to the Hot Key Books Newsletter: HERE

Friday, 6 November 2015

Jim Carrington - Boy 23 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review

Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone. 
One dark night, Boy 23 is thrown in the back of the van and driven out of My Place - the only home he has ever known. He is abandoned in a forest with a rucksack containing the bare essentials for survival. Before the van drives away, a voice tells him he must run as far as he can. His life depends on it. Boy 23 has never known another human. Boy 23 has never even been outside. So who is he? Why do people want to kill him? And more to the point, who is the voice that wants to save him?

Boy 23 is Jim Carrington's eagerly awaited fourth book to be published by Bloomsbury on the 19th of November 2015. It's another adventure in the young adult world of fiction and my personal favourite, by Jim, to date. You only need to read the synopsis of the book to get your imagination going. It's very intriguing and makes you want to find out why/what happens. 

The basis of this book has been taken from a number of contemporary life stories; one of which turned out to be a hoax. A teenage boy turned up alone in the town of Nuremburg in Germany in 1828 claiming to have been brought up in a dark cell. This story becomes the setting for the book My Place. The start of the story is slow-paced but essential in drawing you into the plot of mystery and intrigue. It's very dark and atmospheric; a fantasy world that might just happen one day. 

Can you be saved from a deadly new disease?

It's a very good opener that leads you into dystopian world featuring a character with unique powers. It's very different in style from my recent reads which is actually really good. The story is told through the three main characters. There's Jesper, aka Boy 23, whose feelings and emotions are played out really well and leave lots of thought provoking questions. There's also Carina, who is very determined and mentally scarred. She has had a disturbing and troubled past which links and weaves the narrative together. The final perspective is the mysterious Mr Blake, who slowly unravels himself along the way and keeps the imagination ticking.

The science fiction twists lift the turn of events and deliver a frenzied action packed story. This will keep you engrossed right until the very end of the book. In fact the more that you read, the faster the pages will turn as you unravel the mysteries. You will find yourself hooked.

The challenges that Boy 23 face are very brutal and leave him alienated. It would be really good to follow up this book with a sequel and to find out Jesper's fate. There are so many unanswered questions left and a fantastic further plot to discover. I'm hoping that this is a possibility.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Danny Weston the Author of Mr Sparks

It's great to have the elusive cheeky chap, Danny Weston, on the blog once again talking about his latest novel "Mr Sparks". This is a spooky killer read featuring the best character in a book that I've read in a long time. Just look at that winning face. You'll soon find yourself dazzled by his good looks and humour. Look into my eyes reader and you will do as you're told...... 

What inspired you to write Mr Sparks? 
After such positive reactions to The Piper, (it’s shortlisted for the Scottish Book Awards) I wanted to do something fairly creepy… and I asked myself ‘what is the single thing in the world that most freaks you out?’ And the answer came back, ‘ventriloquist’s dummies!’ There’s just something about them… those horrible grins, those glassy eyes that seem to suggest they know much more than they really should. The idea grew from that starting point.

How did Mr Sparks as a character evolve in the writing process? 
Well, I wanted a character that you can’t really help liking. A reader needed to identify with Owen, the young boy who ends up risking everything for Charlie Sparks. And in order to do that, the reader has to care about Charlie too. But of course, once he’s established, then I start to introduce the less appealing aspects of his character. And you begin to realise why he’s been around as long as he has… that he’ll do what he has to in order to survive. 

What did you learn most from writing your second published book? 
Ah, the ‘difficult second novel!’ Well, I wanted the book to be quite different than The Piper and I believe I’ve achieved that. I don’t know if I learned anything other than the fact that I like writing spooky stories and I intend to do more of them.

How much research do you do in preparation for writing a book? 
Every book is different. This one is set just after the First World War and the historical background must be accurate. Luckily, the internet is a wonderful research tool and the answers to most questions are only a couple of clicks away. 

How have you found working with illustrators and cover designers? 
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of input into that. I usually get sent a rough sketch for approval. So far, I’ve been incredibly lucky with my covers. James Fraser, who did both of them, really knows how to create a striking image.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them if they are good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 
I do read my reviews, even though I suspect it’s not a great idea. Happily, they are usually positive. On the rare occasion that I get a bad one, I never respond to it, no matter how unfair I think it is. At the end of the day the reader is entitled to his or her opinion. Responding to it just makes you look needy. 

How would Mr Sparks respond to a good or bad book review? 
Charlie would deal with a bad review in the most severe fashion. The reviewer would end up regretting his or her words. A good review? He’d just say, ‘yes, of course!’ He’s his own biggest fan. 

What tips would Mr Sparks have for anyone seeking a life in entertainment? 
1. Always ensure you outlive your partner. 
2. Keep an eye open for a young replacement. 
3. Get them on your side quickly – then start laying down the law. 
4. When time comes to go your separate ways, don’t be sentimental. Be like Henry VIII – always chopping and changing! 

What do you think makes a good story? 
Interesting characters. You can have the most amazing plot ever, but unless you fill it with fascinating, conflicted characters then you have something that nobody wants to read. 

Are you currently involved in any writing projects that you can tell us about? 
I am currently trying to generate some interest in a stage/screen adaptation of The Piper – and I have started work on a new novel called The Haunting of Jessop Rise. As the title may suggest, it’s another ghost story.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Book Cover Wars is back again for another exciting year and we are looking for a new worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another year, or you are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. I am going to select five book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2015/16'.

Congratulations! - Heat One Winner: Book Three - Darren Shan - Zom-B - Fugitive (US Cover) - 133 Votes. 

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules:
There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for. All heat winners will make the grand final. However, one more entry will also be entered into the final - this will be the book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the runner up. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week we have an amazing book, which is a hardback copy, of Philip Reeve's - RailHead. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - VOTE HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Mention it on Twitter/Facebook #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will close 9th November 2015 (midnight UK time.) 
So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

Book One: Garth Nix - Clariel - Published by Allen & Unwin (1 October 2014) Book Cover by S Ciaffaglione/Sandra Nobes - VOTE HERE

Book Two: M. G. Leonard/Juila Sarda - Beetle Boy - Published by Chicken House Ltd (3 Mar. 2016) Book Cover by Julia Sarda - VOTE HERE

Book Three: Lucy Coats/David Roberts - Beasts of Olympus 3: Steeds of the Gods - Published by Piccadilly Press Ltd (7 May 2015) - Book Cover by David Roberts - VOTE HERE

Book Four: Katherine Rundell - The Wolf Wilder - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (10 Sept. 2015) - Book Cover by Gelrev Ongbico VOTE HERE

Book Five: Philip Reeve - RailHead - Published by OUP Oxford (1 Oct. 2015) - Book Cover by Shutterstock - VOTE HERE

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Guest Post by Stephen Bennett - NaNoWriMo Survey of 2000 Writers Reveals Surprising Ways to Succeed‏!

Anyone who had attempted NaNoWriMo – the challenge of writing 50,000 words of a novel in November – has surely faced a number of obstacles on their journey to the end of the month. 

Half way through, these distractions become ever more tempting and there’s usually a dip in motivation and creativity at the prospect of continuing to write 1667 every day for the rest of the month. 

As luck would have it, Stop Procrastinating, the productivity website, has surveyed 2000 NaNoWriMo writers ahead of this year’s November writing challenge to find out what kept them going until the very end. 

The findings are insightful and actionable. From undertaking a little planning before hand from learning how to write just about anywhere, the strategies are sure to help many undertaking the challenge this year and should ensure many more cross the finishing line. 

Stop Procrastinating has pulled all the results together in the infographic below.
Nanowrimo tips

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Griselda Heppel - The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst - Book Review

In the shadows of Walton Hall a demon lurks. His name: Mephistopheles. In 1586, young John Striven struck a bargain with him in return for help against his murderous foster brother. Nice work for a demon - or it should have been. Because somehow, his plan to trap the 12-year-old went wrong. All he needs now is another soul, in similar desperation, to call on him. Enter 13 year-old Henry Fowst. A pupil at Northwell School, Henry longs to win the Northwell History Essay Prize. Exploring the school's sixteenth century library, he stumbles across the diary of a boy his own age beginning this 20th day of Januarie, 1586...Soon Henry is absorbed in John Striven's struggles with his jealous foster-brother, Thomas Walton, who, it seems, will stop at nothing to be rid of him. Then matters take a darker turn. Battling to escape his own enemy, Henry finds his life beginning to imitate John's and when the diary shows John summoning 'an Angellick Spirit' to his aid, Henry eagerly tries the same. Unfortunately, calling up Mephistopheles lands both boys in greater danger than they'd ever bargained for...

It is very pleasing to read another Matador book that deserves such a publishing pedigree. I have read so many books recently that have not cut the mustard, so to speak. However, this book really engaged me from the very first page. It is inspired by Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and is based on the idea of a man selling his soul and making a pact with the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. It's a really great concept and one that captured my instant attention. It was a joy to explore this theme with the author - anything can happen and it surely does in this strange tale of demons and darkness. 

The plot has so much to offer the reader. I personally don't think that you will regret picking up a copy and giving it a wild chance. It's mostly set in modern-day times, but it does skip back and forth to the sixteenth century. A particular part of the story that really grabbed me was the imposing building that has been used as a library over time. The brooding supernatural darkness that it created engulfed me. It will certainly leave you with a feeling that you are sitting in that same library reading your favourite scary book, whilst being overlooked by a demon or two. 

As you skip in time from the past to the present you'll need to fit together the individual pieces of each story strand together. Will the story end with Henry's downfall or will he find redemption? This is a question that you will be asking throughout the frought and dangerous adventure. 

The book is told from three view points as well as the readings of a long lost and ancient diary from 1586. This helps to connect both the characters and the times throughout history together. In fact, I thought that this aspect worked really well. 

Mephistopheles is the star of the show, in my opinion. He is really deadpan. A demon derived from German folklore, he is very malevolent; he thrives and feeds off boy's misery. Henry has many ongoing choices to make which makes the story a real thinking read for 11 year olds to get their teeth stuck into. 

There are some light-hearted moments with some slightly silly times that change the mood of the story and provide another aspect. However, it is mostly overcast based around themes of bullying, entrapment and dark magical spells. Everything is deep rooted in jealously. It will certainly keep you hooked until the very last page is turned. 

This story has a great folklore storytelling feel that is filled with intensity. You will be looking out of the corner of your eye to see whether anything is lurking beyond your vision. This is a recommended treat to read, especially around halloween time or after dark. It will certainly give you goose bumps from head to toe.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Guest Post: My Top Five Halloween Reads by Jane McLoughlin (Author of The Crowham Martyrs)

Jane’s most recent book, The Crowham Martyrs, was published in June by Catnip Books. It is a middle grade ghost story set in a boarding school in rural Sussex. The Crowham Martyrs has been shortlisted for the 2016 Essex Book Awards. 

My ghost-filled middle grade novel The Crowham Martyrs was published this summer, but it’s set during a darker and drearier time of year: Bonfire Night on the 5th of November. 
Halloween may not get much of a mention in the story, but The Crowham Martyrs is full of spooks and frights, and before I started to write it, I scared myself silly by reading ghost stories and re-reading some other ghoulish tales.  

Here is the blurb: 

Ghosts don’t frighten Maddy Deeprose; she’s seen them all her life. 
So when her mum sends her to creepy old boarding school, Crowham Martyrs, Maddie isn’t worried. But then her friends start disappearing, and Maddy knows it’s time to be scared. 
Something is lurking at Crowham Martyrs. 
Something evil. 
Is the place that’s supposed to keep Maddy safe about to become the hunting ground?

Here are the books that set my heart thumping the most rapidly! 

5) Dracula by Bram Stoker 
When it comes to scary stories, Dracula must be the granddaddy of them all! 
Many years ago I was on holiday in Ireland with my family. We weren’t on an isolated cottage near a windswept coastline or in a creaking old Dublin townhouse. We were staying in a modern, non-descript bungalow, near a busy road: lovely and comfortable, but hardly atmospheric. However, on one rainy and windy night, my kids were fast asleep, my husband was off to the local pub and I was in bed, reading Dracula. Suddenly, the secure, unthreatening location counted for nothing. I sat up, hunched over the book, one eye on the page, the other on the closed curtains, waiting for them to twitch, or to hear a tap on the other side of the glass, or for the window to fly open without warning and a swarm of bats to swoop into the room and….and… 
4) The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish 
Cliff McNish has written many brilliant ghost stories for young people, and his book Breathe: A Ghost Story is a modern classic. However, I’m including The Hunting Ground on this list, because the setting was so superb. To me, a really good ghost story deserves a fantastic haunted house, and Glebe House, especially its malevolent East Wing, is brilliantly and terrifyingly realised. The Hunting Ground creates a sense of horrifying claustrophobia—readers will feel as if they themselves are trapped by Glebe House’s secrets. 

3) The Shining by Stephen King 
The perfect haunted house, full of menacing ghosts, and a brilliant focus on the psychological and emotional demons that also fuel a great horror story. The Shining was published when I was young, and still living with my parents and siblings. Despite being surrounded by the comfort and safety of home, I remember reading it late into the night and feeling vulnerable and alone. It was as if I was wandering through the empty corridors of the Overlook Hotel, unable to resist the tantalising lure of the saloon bar of the damned. The story, if not the ghosts, had seeped into my soul and taken possession of me. 

2) Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough 
This book was published in 2012 and is set in post=war England, but could have been written in a much earlier period. It has the feel of a classic ghost story in the Susan Hill vein, and the fact that it’s based on an actual legend adds to the timeless feeling. Like The Hunting Ground, it oozes atmosphere—an abandoned church, an isolated house, a dreary, threatening landscape. It also has a terrifyingly realised monster and children who have to rely on their own wits to survive an ancient, deadly curse. I haven’t read Barraclough’s follow-up, The Mark of Cain, but might do this Halloween!
1) Dark Matter by Michelle Paver 
This book is number one on my list for a reason: it’s the scariest book I’ve ever read. It’s so scary I don’t even want to write about it. But it’s number one on my list, so I’ll have to… 
Dark Matter has none of the usual horror or ghost story conventions---there’s no castle or haunted house, there are no creepy kids (dead or alive), no baying wolves. For a book that falls into the category of psychological horror, there’s no underlying sense of grief or loss. There is just, as the title says, “Dark Matter.” There are dim figures that one struggles to see; tiny noises that one has to strain to hear. There is the loss of light (literally, as it’s set in the Norwegian Arctic and the winter is drawing near) and the suggestion of menace planted in the mind of the narrator grows and grows as the light fades. Most importantly, the writing is as spare and beautiful as the Arctic landscape. I was totally overwhelmed by this book’s subtlety and power. I’d read it again this Halloween—if only I dared! 

Although these books are named as my top five, it was very tough to decide which authors to include. The British/Irish ghost and horror tradition is deep and strong, and this includes many contemporary YA and middle grade writers. Here’s a list of some other brilliant writers I was sad to leave out: 
Susan Hill (The Woman in White, The Small Hand), Chris Priestley (The Dead of Winter), Helen Grant (The Glass Demon), Emma Carroll (Frost Hollow Hall). BR Collins (Tyme’s End), James Dawson (Say her Name), Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book), Tatum Flynn (The D'Evil Diaries), MR James.
About Jane McLoughlin: 
Jane McLoughlin’s first novel, At Yellow Lake, was published in 2012 by Frances Lincoln Children’s books. A YA thriller, set in an isolated cabin in the northern USA, At Yellow Lake was nominated for the 2013 Carnegie Medal, longlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and longlisted for the 2013 Branford Boase Award.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Rhian Ivory Author of The Boy who Drew the Future‏

Welcome to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Today, I’m very lucky to be interviewing Rhian Ivory, who is the author of The Boy who Drew the Future. This book has been published by the small Welsh publishing company Firefly Press; they have a great eye for amazing stories. Thank you Rhian for agreeing to this interview - it's wonderful to have you on the blog today.
How would you describe your book The Boy Who Drew the Future to potential readers? 
Two boys living in the same village over 100 years apart suffer the same curse - the ability to draw the future. In the present day Noah tries to blend in with the crowd but when he meets Beth he is forced to face his greatest fears and look at what he's drawn, but can he work out what his drawings mean before it is too late? In 1865 Blaze is desperately trying to survive in the village by drawing people's futures in return for food and clothing, with only Dog to keep him company he tries to avoiding a return to the Workhouse. Can their futures be redrawn or will history repeat itself?

Give us an insight into the main character. 
Blaze is an orphan, he lives in a hut in the gardens of the old Manor House in Sible Hedingham. He draws pictures of people's futures in return for food, shelter and clothing but there's one person's future he doesn't want to see let alone draw but Emilia just won't leave him alone. Blaze has already run away from the Workhouse once and he knows that unless he gives in to Emilia this might be where he ends up again and this time he won't be allowed to escape. 

Is there a message in your book?
Yes. I wanted to look at the way in which outsiders are treated in society. Both Noah and Blaze are regarded as different and decidedly other, they don't fit in, they don't look or act in the same way as everyone else but both try to hide it. Being accepted by society and the village they live in is something they both strive for whilst trying to hide away their darkest secret. Blaze is French and seen very much as a foreigner, an outcast and physically looks very different to the rest of the village and is treated accordingly, Noah however looks very much the same as everyone else but when people begin to suspect him he suffers the same treatment as Blaze back in 1865. What I found interesting as I wrote  the novel is the way in which very little has changed, of course you cannot legally 'swim' a witch in Noah's timeline as you could in Blaze's but the kind of public trial and witch hunt that both boys suffer is very similar and made me think of the way people treat one another on social media, trolls, trials and witch hunts seem frightening prevalent today as much as they did in the 1860s.

What is your favourite theme/genre to write about? 
I do seem to have a bit of a thing about the future as I've written about it before in True Colours under my pen name Rhian Tracey. However as I get older I find myself being drawn to the past more than the future and I'm very interested in people who are different and how they cope in the real world, especially when their Plan A fails and they have no Plan B to fall back on. I like characters who live in the shadows, hovering on the edge of the world, they're much more interesting than those taking centre stage. 

What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?
The bit when I get nervous about sitting down at the computer which is where I'm at right now. I'm almost at 30,000 words in my new YA book and I know how the story ends but I don't quite know how to get there. I'm having a fight with myself, my head is in shouty caps lock mode "YOU SHOULD BE SITTING AT THE COMPUTER WRITING AT LEAST 1000 WORDS A DAY!" but my heart whispers you need to slow down, there's no rush, stop and have a think and a Cadbury's caramel, relax and watch the world go by, you'll work it out
Eugh. I hate this bit. 

What are your thoughts about how to encourage more children to read?
I'm all over it! I'm a Patron of Reading and as such my main purpose is to go into schools and encourage children to love stories, to want to listen to them, tell them, share them, draw them and write them. There's stories in everything, songs, films, newspapers, galleries, museums, eavesdropped conversations, shopping lists, poetry, plays, prose, non-fiction its all about turning up the volume on their world and letting them see the huge possibilities out there and then helping them to reach their potential. I love going into schools and helping children find their love of reading either for the first time, or helping them find it if they've lost it along the way as many of them have. Libraries play such a vital role in this, a school without a library is like a person without a heart, it is the life and soul of a school or at least it should be. 

Are there any particular authors that have influenced your writing?
Yes, Roald Dahl. I've read all his books, I still have most of them, some have fallen apart and had to be replaced over the years. I re-read The Witches about once a year, that's my favourite. Seeing Roald Dahl on TV when I was younger in his shed with his paper on his knees and his pen in his hand joined up the dots for me between books and a writer. I didn't know what one was until I saw him writing in his shed. That's when I thought I want his job!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Talk about writing. 
Think about writing.
Dream about writing.
I also like to make cakes with my kids and while they are cooking we do crazy dances in the kitchen. We have Slipper Dance Offs on the slippy tiles, think Strictly Come Dancing merged with Casualty. Lots of fun and narrow misses, A&E should be on speed dial on my phone.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? 
When my book first comes out I'm allowed a few weeks of being obsessed with it, reading reviews and clicking on my sales ranking but after that I make myself move on and try and get into the next book. I did say try.

What question would you liked to be asked?
I like it when people ask what my favourite word is...since you asked so nicely I'll tell you, mine is cacophony. Isn't it gorgeous?

The Boy who drew the Future, September 2015 from Firefly Press -

'Secrets start to emerge as danger grows and Ivory keeps the tension high in this taut novel.'

The Telegraph's Best Young Adult books of 2015

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Jim Carrington - Boy 23 (Bloomsbury)

I'm really pleased to be sharing with you the following Q&A with Jim Carrington. His latest novel, Boy 23, will be published on the 19th November 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's Books. It is a dystopian novel that has had me thoroughly intrigued. I'm only half way through the book, but I'm really enjoying it. I hope that this interview piques your interest and encourages you to purchase a copy to read.

Tell us a little bit about your latest book Boy 23?
Boy 23 is completely different to anything I've written before.  It's a dystopian story, set in Germany, featuring a character with unique powers and a deadly new disease.  It has a bit of sci-fi in there as well.  It's been described by some as Black Mirror meets the Chaos Walking trilogy.  And seeing as I love both of those, I'm happy to be compared to them.

Is there a message in your book?
Stories are a reflection of the world we live in, so if they don't say something about that world, if they don't contain some kind of message, I think there's a problem.  In Boy 23 I think readers could find messages about religion, about the way that those with power behave, about disease and those that profit from disease through providing vaccines and medicines.  I didn't set out to write a book that sent those messages, they just came from the story I wanted to tell.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
In the past I've been inspired by things that have happened in real life which I've seen or have happened to me.  Having said that, the idea usually changes quite a lot from the original inspiration.  In the case of Boy 23, though, I was intrigued by a few news stories I read a while ago about 'wild children' who had lived in the forests, away from the rest of society.  One story in particular took my interest - Kaspar Hauser.  He was a boy who turned up in a German town.  He didn't seem to know much about who he was or where he came from.  Eventually he told people his story, that he'd been kept in a dark cell for his whole life, never getting to meet another human being until just before he was left in the forest.  It's a real life story, but nobody knows for sure what had happened to him before he walked into the town.  Some believe he was the rightful prince of Baden, who had been swapped over at birth.  His story gave me inspiration to write Boy 23.

What do you think makes a good story?

I always look for something that flows well, first of all, something which sucks you in from the very first page and then doesn't let you go until the very last page.  Believable characters are also a necessity.  And a plot which is intriguing, something you can't necessarily predict.  I like all kinds of stories and books.  The major turn-offs for me are flowery description which goes on for pages and writers who clearly have a well-thumbed thesaurus at hand and use the longest, most pretentious words they can find.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite and why?
Boy 23 is my fourth novel.  Before this I'd written Inside My Head, In the Bag and Drive By.  I love each one of them, but at the moment my favourite is Boy 23.  It's the one I've had to put the most research into and it took the longest to write.  I've always loved dystopian stories, so it feels good to have finally written one myself.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc come from?
I owe it to my parents I think.  Our house was always filled with books, so it was natural to me to pick them up and start reading.  As for my love of writing, I think it has always been in me.  Apparently when I was three years old I wrote my name backwards on my bedroom wall and I haven't stopped since then (although I usually use a notebook or computer nowadays).  Over the years I've had a go at writing most things - fanzines, newspapers, magazines and now books.  Writing a great sentence gives me such a buzz.  I love being able to conjure up whole worlds just from the contents of my mind.  There isn't a better job, is there?

Do you think that the book cover plays an important part in the buying process? 

A great cover can make me pick up a book and want to read it, make me want to own it and covet it and display it on my shelves.  But it's the words inside that really count.  I might pick up a book with a great cover and start reading it, but if the words aren't right, the cover won't save it.  I think I've been lucky to have some really brilliant covers on my books.  And Boy 23 is the best cover yet, in my opinion.  Hopefully my readers agree that the words live up to the covers.

Are you currently involved in any writing projects that you can tell us about?

I'm very excited about what I'm currently writing.  It's a superhero story with a massive twist - boy gets hit by electrified worm and accidentally clones himself when cutting his nails.  It has the working title of WormBoy!

Do you read much and, if so, who are your favourite authors?

I read loads.  My tastes are fairly varied - I read a mix of adult, YA and children's books.  Right now I'm reading a childrens' book by Jo Nesbo and before that I was reading Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.  Next up, I plan to read The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis.  My all time favourite book is probably Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse.  I tend to get drawn towards books with anti-heroes, and Billy is the perfect anti-hero.  I plan to write my own story with an anti-hero soon.

What are your thoughts about how to encourage more children/teenagers to read?

It's my opinion that the perfect book is out there for everyone.  Once children find that book, they'll realise the enormous fun that reading can be and they'll be hooked.  Some readers are lucky enough to find their perfect book or genre really early and they never look back.  The challenge is finding the perfect book for each person and that's where parents, school librarians and teachers can come in so useful.  Over the years, I've met some school librarians and teachers who have been brilliant at doing this for their pupils, knowledgeable people who know exactly the right book to interest each child.  They've turned countless non-readers into readers and have enriched their lives immensely.  If I was to give one bit of advice to schools, it would be to employ a really, really good school librarian and to stock their libraries with excellent reading matter.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Press Release: Jason Bradbury are Hoverboards the future of a car-free London?

Jason Hoverboard

Photo's from Stephen Muchmore (Design Agency)

Jason Bradbury wows crowds with his Delorean and Hoverboard in Piccadilly last night | Location: London UK - 
Timing was everything, so Jason made sure he was ready for the start of Back To The Future week. The crowds couldn’t get their phones out quick enough to start filming the one-off stunt.
Dressed in the iconic Marty McFly attire, needing no help with his Nike Power Laces, Jason jumped on his exact replica of Marty's hoverboard and hovered around Piccadilly Circus asking passers-by "What year is it?”.
  • "Wow, unbelievable stunt anyone would think Marty McFly was in town" 
  • "The attention to detail of the Delorean and Hoverboard were epic"
  • "Anything is possible in the future, all you have to do is believe”
  • "Nothing expresses the magic of Technology more than the Hoverboard" says Jason
The large crowd of BTTF fans stared in awe at Jason as he flew passed in the coolest way possible, before disappearing off again. (Probably back to the future).

  • Twitter: @jasonbradbury / @design_agencyuk
  • Hashtags: #jasonbradbury #bttf2015 #bttf #BackToTheFuture