Monday, 13 November 2017

Philip Caveney & Danny Weston - Exclusive Interview (Down a Dark Alleyway in Edinburgh)

I have been summoned to do an exclusive interview with Philip Caveney and Danny Weston. Wandering down the back streets and alleyways of Edinburgh in search of the elusive duo, a whispering sound of bagpipes mixed with fireworks can be heard overhead. It's a dark and cloudy night in early November and I'm following a slithering shadow of a Scarecrow in search of our rendezvous. We arrive at a large empty house on a deserted street. I knock and enter through the huge creaking door. 

There is one empty large room with ghostly cobweb tendrils sweeping the room. A large table, with three chairs, seat two unsavoury characters glaring at each other. I sit down on the third chair and enter into the following conversation.

Perhaps you’d like to start by telling us a little bit about your new books? 

Danny: Well, Scarecrow is about a teenage boy whose father is a whistle-blower. He’s revealed some information about dodgy dealings in the bank where he works and realises he may have gone too far – he’s named some very powerful people. So he takes his son out of school and the two of them run off to a remote part of Scotland, to lie low. But then, the boy becomes involved with a very angry scarecrow… 

I hear you also have a new book out as well, Philip? 

The Slithers is about a teenage boy living with his father in a remote part of Scotland who finds something amazing beneath the ground – an ancient stone that grants him incredible good luck. But the stone belongs to the terrifying subterranean creatures of the title and of course they want their stone back… so they come looking for it. 

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that both of you have written supernatural books based in Scotland?

Philip: Yes, well that’s because I moved to Edinburgh about a year ago and started finding inspiration there – and, of course, Danny decided to follow me… 

Danny: No I didn’t! I’d always planned to move to Edinburgh! In fact, I think I thought of it first. 

Umm… yes, well… does it ever annoy you that people tend to mix the two of you up? 

Danny: Well, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… 

Philip: What’s that supposed to mean? 

Danny: I’m just saying… The Slithers. That’s exactly the kind of book that I’d have written. 

Philip: Are you suggesting that I’ve copied you? 

Gentlemen, let’s keep this civil, shall we? Danny, you must be very pleased with your recent successes: Your first book, The Piper, won the Scottish Children’s Book Award in 2016, and your recent novel, The Haunting of Jessop Rise has been shortlisted for several prizes. I believe you’ve just been nominated for a Carnegie Medal?

Philip: Can I just say, that prizes really don’t matter that much? It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you've written the best book you can that makes it all worthwhile. 

Danny: Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you? 

Philip: What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve won prizes! 

Danny: Hmm. Not for a while, though… I seem to remember something back in 2012… a school’s prize of some kind?

Philip: Look, you need to get things in perspective! Don’t forget I’m currently celebrating my fortieth year of publication! You’ve only released four books in total. I’ve published nearly fifty!

Danny: Yes, but you know what they say. It’s quality not quantity. 

Look, guys, we really don’t need an argument here. Can we just try to…? 

Danny: I think it’s pretty clear who’s doing the best out of the two of us. Vincent, which of the two books do you like best?

Oh… er… umm (sounds of me choking on a cobweb....)

Philip: Come on, tell the truth! Which one? 

Vincent: Looks underneath the table ...

Well, I think… we need to leave it there. Thanks to both of you for summoning me to this strange place. You can read my reviews of the books on the website. Why don't "you" (the readers of Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books) settle this debate. Grab both of the books above, read them and then leave your comments on this post. Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Plan Your Own Arthur Ransome Swallows & Amazons Litreature Adventure in the Lake District Cumbria

Both children and adults alike have been enraptured with Arthur Ransome’s classic tale of adventure and friendship, Swallows & Amazons, since its release all the way back in 1930.

With a thrilling narrative that combines treasure hunting, swashbuckling and the carefree exploits of childhood – the story has undoubtedly stood the test of time, even receiving a film adaptation as recently as 2016.

One of the main draws of his writing are the vividly beautiful environments he describes. The best part about this? You can visit them!

Check out our infographic to find out how you can cast off into your very own Swallows & Amazons adventure.

Thank you, Francesca and Craig Manor Hotel for this Infographic.  
Check out the website:


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Anna Day - THE FANDOM - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books) - Chicken House 2018

What if you could be Katniss - for real. Sounds cool, right? But then you remember, you can't fire a bow and arrow, or climb trees, and you have zero survival skills.

Or what if you could be Tris? You'd get to kiss Four, what could be bad about that? But turns out he's a bit of a wimp. Oh, and your gorgeous best mate is making a play for him too.

Don't panic, you can always go home, back to the safety of your normal, fangirl life. But what if you couldn't...

This is what happens to Violet when she enters her favourite, dystopian world. She replaces her heroine, with all the associated perks -- adventure, love, drama. But turns out, Violet likes predictability and being alive more than she realized!

The Fandom by Anna Day is set to be published by Chicken House on the 4th January 2018. This is a highly anticipated debut book by the clinical psychologist as an earlier concept of the book (The Gallows Dance) was recently shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. The inspiration for the new book has been based on this as well as combining the winning story from Angela McCann from The Big Idea competition. This is a fantastic and unique collaboration that makes this a very special book. 

The concept behind this story is a very smart and trendy one. It will resonate very easily with teenagers who love books/comics and meeting up at social events. This is a book that they will surely gravitate towards on publication day. 

What's your favourite book? Have you read it so much that you know all the words? Do you know the characters inside and out? Are the setting and the key storyline known in detail? How about a crush on the main character?
Is this sounding familiar? If so, then this will be the book for you.  

Just imagine what would happen if you were going about your normal teenage life and then, you were suddenly catapulted into your favourite book with two of your best friends and a brother. Everything suddenly appears so familiar; the setting, the characters, it is just how you imagined it in minute detail. You are now part of the story for real, but your appearance makes the story go slightly off-kilter as you've just killed off the hero. The one thing that you have to do now is to put the plot back on track or face deadly consequences - like hanging from the gallows. 

This is an amazing and compelling read. It's a fantastic story - a free-flowing adventure set in post-apocalyptic London. It takes a familiar and well-worked genre but flips it on its literary bottom. The plot is expertly written and is full of amazing detail that makes reality and fiction explode in a big way. The characters are definitely relatable as we are exposed to their interesting personalities through their flaws and strengths.  

The author has produced a fantastic book full of classic dystopian tropes and fandom culture. It is bursting with action twists and turns in a non-stop racy fantasy adventure. I really enjoyed reading this book. In fact much more than I expected for a  fashionable YA read. It is definitely one of the best reads in this genre and makes a great start to 2018. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) November 2017 - UK Post

Neil Patrick Harris - The Magic Misfits - Published by Egmont (30 Nov. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1405290333

The first in a funny and magical new children's books series from Emmy award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris. 
Perfect for children aged 8 to 12 years old and fans of Lemony Snicket, David Walliams, David Baddiel, My Brother is a Superhero . . . and magic!
Cover illustration by David Litchfield, winner of the Waterstones Children's Books Prize 2016 for The Bear and the Piano. 
This book contains a BIG SECRET. Read on if you dare . . .
Do you believe in magic?
Carter doesn’t. He knows magic tricks are just that – tricks. And as a street magician he’s also pretty good at them. But then Carter runs away from his conman uncle and he finds himself alone and in danger from dastardly carnival ringleader, B.B. Bosso. He could really use some magic now . . .
A chance encounter with the mysterious Mr Dante Vernon leads Carter to a magic shop, where he teams up with five other like-minded kids and the MAGIC MISFITS are born! Can the gang use their magical talents to save the day and stop B.B. stealing a priceless diamond?
And now for the BIG SECRET . . .
Inside this book you will find a treasure trove of tips, codes and stage tricks that will help YOU join the Magic Misfits and make some magic of your own. (BUT DON'T TELL ANYONE.)

Hilton Pashley Michael'S Spear - Published by Dome Press (16 Nov. 2017) -ISBN-13: 978-0995672352
The Universe is coming apart at the seams. As Jonathan and his friends fight to save it, their every move is being watched from the shadows. Lilith, the last Archdemon has plans of her own, and with the legendary Michael's Spear under her control.  Jonathan has never faced a more lethal foe. With the odds stacked against him, Jonathan will need all the help he can get if he is to fulfill his destiny. It's time for Gabriel's grandson finally to spread his wings...

Kerr Thomson - The Rise of Wolves - Published by Chicken House (2 Nov. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1911077695

Innis Munro is walking home across the bleak wilderness of Nin Island when he hears the chilling howl of a wolf. But there are no wolves on the island - not since they were hunted to extinction, centuries ago. He decides to investigate his island home and accepts an ancient challenge: he who jumps the Bonnie Laddie's Leap wins a fortune. As the wolves rise from the darkness of history, and long-buried secrets resurface, Innis's adventure truly begins ...

Helen Cooper - The Hippo at the End of the Hall - Published by David Fickling Books (2 Nov. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1910989753 

Helen Cooper is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose picture books include Pumpkin Soup, The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Both of which won the CILIP Kate Greenaway award. Her debut novel, The Hippo at the End of the Hall, will be published by David Fickling Books on the 2nd November 2017 which is a fantastic accomplished debut and an absolute joy to read. It is a visual story that will you not forget. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - BOOK REVIEW HERE



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Guest Post - Danica Davidson - and The Minecrafters Blog Tour! (Minecraft and Humour)

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books welcomes Danica Davidson on the  Minecrafters Blog Tour!  Over the next few weeks, bloggers across the internet will be taking part on the Danica Davidson’s Minecrafter book blog tour for middle-grade readers. There will be a host of interviews, guest posts, book reviews and much more! My post by Danica is about the balance between "Minecraft and Humour." It is a brilliant post to find out more about these best-selling books. Please also check out the other stops by using the  on twitter. I hope you enjoy this post. 

There are a lot of things you can do with Minecraft — build castles, fight monsters, even improve your math and science skills. What do I like to do? Write adventure novels for kids that take place as if Minecraft is a real world. When I do this, I’m balancing an actual video game, adventure with lots of chapter cliffhangers, and real-world issues like cyberbullying. And I like to keep in a touch of humor. 

Millions of kids around the world are in love with Minecraft, so when I was first coming up with ideas for these books, I thought it should be told from a kid’s point-of-view. So enter the main character, Stevie: an eleven-year-old boy who lives in the Minecraft world. He has trouble fitting in with the kids from his village and fighting off monsters, which has him feeling insecure about himself. But then he accidentally discovers a portal to Earth, and everything changes. 
Stevie meets Maison, an 11-year-old girl who doesn’t fit in at her new school and who is bullied by some older kids. When monsters from Minecraft also break through the portal, it’s up to the new friends to stop them. From there, the two continue to go on missions, including stopping a zombie takeover of Minecraft spearheaded by a cyberbully to stopping Herobrine, a mythological villain in Minecraft lore. 

These are adventure stories first and foremost, so people who don’t play Minecraft can read them as well, but Minecraft players will notice a lot more references. This is part of where the humor comes in. Stevie experiences total culture shock finding Earth, and I like to play around with what he thinks about stuff that’s normal to us but absurd to him. For instance, I’m typing this right now with fingers. But for Stevie, who lives in a world where everyone has finger-less, box-shaped hands, fingers are pretty weird. Likewise, he’s baffled by cars, schools, computers, the Internet, all sorts of things. I think this can be fun for kids, too, because it gets them thinking about how different people will have different perspectives, and gets us thinking about things we take for granted. It might be a fun thing to do for a class project — ask kids, “If you’re a Minecraft character who just came to Earth, what would stand out most to you?” You can have quite a bit of fun with this. A number of my reviews, including ones from big publications like School Library Journal, point out the humor I make sure to include.

Sometimes just day-to-day life gives us plenty of humor, like with people’s idiosyncrasies. As the series continues, more characters are included with their own set of quirks, like Stevie’s cousin Alex who loves adventure, no matter how much danger it may put her in, or Yancy, a boy from Earth who usually has a few pretty good one-liners. Humor can also be a great way to talk about serious issues, because it can take some of the sting out of them and get to people’s real feelings. I hope when kids read my books, they can’t stop turning the pages because they care about the characters and what’s going to happen to them — and I also hope they get in a few good laughs.

Adventure Against the Endermen: An Unofficial Overworld Heroes Adventure - Published by Sky Pony Press (23 Nov. 2017)

About the Author
Writing has been my greatest love for as far back as I can remember. I've always enjoyed telling stories. I started writing at the age of three by dictating stories to my parents and then drawing pictures to accompany them. This continued during elementary school, though eventually I stopped writing picture books and began writing longer and longer stories. By middle school, I was regularly completing novels. The Los Angeles Times gave me the great honor of interviewing me as a fourteen-year-old novelist.   

Since then I've gotten involved in professional journalistic work, writing for about fifty different magazines, newspapers and websites. Some samples of these can be found on my Published Articles  page. I have also written the English adaptation of Japanese graphic novels when they were published in America. Alongside this I'm constantly penning out my fiction and working to accomplish my dream of becoming a full-time novelist.  You can find out a bit more about this on my Novels page, and you can order my MG novel, Escape from the Overworldhere.  I've never found anything more gratifying, emotional and consuming than putting stories down on paper and seeing where my imagination leads me. 


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Chris Hallatt Wells - King Bones - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Greezy Book Review

When Danny's mum and dad get sent to prison for stealing the Crown Jewels, Danny is sent to live with his Aunty Ratbag in the evil-smelling town of Greezy. It's many years since Aunty Ratbag has been able to practice the ancient art of being evil on a child. Once she was an expert, now she is rusty and needs practice. She thinks she has the perfect victim in Danny. But wandering through the murky churchyard of Greezy ( between the dog food factory and the cat food factory) Danny meets King Bones. And King Bones has a very special mission for Danny: he wants his queen back. She has been buried with her ladies in waiting in a separate chamber. Danny discovers that a famous archaeologist has removed her skull and her crown to display them in the British Museum. King Bones and Danny set out for the rescue!

Everything with Words is a small new independent publisher of children’s books. This is the first book that I've read from this publisher which has a big heart and a great ethos. Some of the money will go to helping street children all over the world which is a great cause and one worth supporting. The publisher's aim is to deliver powerful stories that have an edge of darkness and a plot loaded with danger. Chris Hallatt Wells has kicked this off in a magnificent way. King Bones will be published on the 6th November 2017. 

When I received this book in the post, my instant expectations were very low but how wrong I was. It's a brilliant read full of dark energy. The cleverly worded plot gives this book bags of personality and a little uniqueness, in my opinion. It is a rollicking, hilarious, page-turning narrative that will have you gripped to the bones. Chris understands what keeps children gripped and writes with originality and bucket loads of fun. 

The characters burst from the page with gleeful prose. The plot never lets up and marches the reader down a fantasy path that will have you leaping for cover. Aunty Ratbag is a nasty, vile little lady who will have you fleeing the pages with terror. She is fantastically written, loaded with bitterness, hate and has a tongue like a viper. She makes the plot hum with gentle malice. She is one of my new favourite characters as she really stands out from the crowd. The story is silly, outrageous and has a slight Roald Dahl-esk feel which works amazingly well. It is entwined with both a wicked sense of humour that will have you laughing and marveling at certain aspects together. 

The story is very imaginative. Some of the scenes are surreal and play on your fantasy mind in a big way. You will love the quirky story line of floating apparitions on horseback one minute and a museum full of chaos the next. It all fuels a great sense of adventure. This is a great book to escape into and a joy to read. However, you may need to track a copy down from the internet, probably Amazon. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am looking forward to the next book, Chris. 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Janine Beacham - Hounds and Hauntings: (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates Bk3) - Halloween Exclusive Chapter Preview

This is another fantastic series - Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings. It is the third thrilling story in Janine Beacham’s middle-grade detective series. With a gothic, Victorian theme, it will have readers guessing and wanting more until the very last page… 

It will be published on 11th January 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books has an exclusive sneaky peek at the first chapter of the book to get you into the mood for Halloween and hopefully whet your appetite to read this book when it finally gets published.    
The city of Yorke is in a panic. There's been a murder! Is an ancient ghost-hound called the Barghest on the loose?
ROSE RAVENTHORPE, her friend Orpheus and the secret society of butlers search for clues in the dark, eerie skitterways, on the mist-covered moors, and atop the ancient walls of the city. Rose believes that the villain is human, and she's determined to prove it.
There's no sweeping this crime under the carpet...

About the Author
A former journalist, Janine Beacham has written all her life. She has always loved fairy tales and fantasy, and as a child would make up games for her friends to play at school. Janine once entered a competition where the prize was a real-life butler – this partly inspired the secret society of butlers in the Rose Raventhorpe Investigates series. Janine lives in Western Australia with her family.

Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates)

When Rose Raventhorpe's beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she's determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he's the third butler to die in a week! 
Rose's investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city's ancient feline guardians. 

Knives aren't just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know . . .

Rubies and Runaways: Book 2 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates)

It's a bitterly cold winter in Yorke and Rose Raventhorpe and her butler Heddsworth are stuck with Rose's unpleasant cousin Herbert, and his equally horrible butler, Bixby. 
When an orphan boy named Orpheus interrupts the Cathedral's Mistletoe Service, saying that his sister has been kidnapped, Rose vows to help. Solving the mystery will be a lot better than accompanying ghastly Herbert! But the investigation is more complicated than Rose has anticipated and will lead her and her butler friends through fancy tea-rooms, horrible factories, secret underground passages and more... 
Fireplace pokers are much more dangerous than you might imagine . . .

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Spellchasers: The Witch's Guide to Magical Combat Blog Tour with Lari Don 2017 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

It's fantastic to be hosting the wonderful Lari Don on Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. This is an opportunity to celebrate the release of the final thrilling installment of the spellbinding Spellchasers trilogy. The Witches Guide To Magical Combat was released on the 17th August 2017 and was published by Floris Books! It's been a fantastic trilogy and one that I would definitely recommend that you read. This is the penultimate stop on the blog tour where Lari Don talks about the writing process and what she has learned from writing a trilogy. This is a brilliant insight for readers and writers alike. 
For the last couple of years, I’ve had to change where I write. In order to get any peace and quiet round growing teenagers, I now do most of my writing in the garden shed, surrounded by rusting paint pots and lurking spiders... 

And over the last couple of years, I’ve also changed my writing process, in order to cope with the new experience of writing a trilogy. 
I’ve just finished writing the Spellchasers trilogy, and I have loved spending so much time with the same magic and characters. But it’s also been the biggest challenge of my writing life! 

Here are a few things I’ve learned about writing a trilogy: 

A trilogy is not three stories. It’s four stories. One story across all three novels, and a distinct story in each novel. That’s a lot of stories to juggle all at the same time. 

Keep hold of your central question. The first Spellchasers book begins with a girl, who has been cursed to turn into a hare when she hears a dog bark or growl, going to a curse-lifting workshop. So the big question of the whole trilogy is: will Molly lift her curse? How the curse affects her, how she tries to lift it, and who tries to stop her lifting it, those questions change in each of the three books, but ‘will she lift the curse?’ remains the central question. My job was to keep the central question fresh and new in each book, and to allow the subplots to enhance it, not obscure it. 

Make a decision about cliffhangers. I love cliffhangers at the end of chapters, but I find cliffhangers at the end of books really frustrating. I don’t want to frustrate my readers, so I made sure I didn’t end any of the Spellchasers books on a cliffhanger. I resolved a significant plot at the end of each individual book, and didn’t end on a ... 

Look for titles that play happily together. My editor and I didn’t agree on the titles of the individual Spellchasers novels until I was nearly finished writing the first draft of the third book. ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Curses’ was a line from the first book, and suggested a structure for the two titles, then we had to work out what character or aspect of a character to highlight in the other titles. The second title The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away was suggested as a joke by my kids. (Even if they do drive me to the shed, they are still useful!) The final title The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat gave me the perfect way into the big battle at the end of the last book.

Your baddies aren’t just there to growl, they’re part of the evolving story too. Even though I introduced new (darker, scarier, more powerful) baddies in each book, I wanted them to have connections to each other. I wanted each new baddie to be reacting to the defeat of the previous baddie, and to be picking up their dastardly plot and moving it ahead in a new way. So my Spellchasers team always had to deal with the consequences of their previous adventures... 

Accept you might need to change your writing process. I’m not a planner. I don’t want to know the end of a book, or even the middle when I start to write. I like to find out what happens next by writing it. I like to meet my characters by seeing how they cope with obstacles. I don’t use storyboards or mind maps or outlines. I just jump into the story and see what happens. That has worked fine for the last six novels. It worked fine for the first Spellchasers novel too, but by the end of the second novel, I started to have my doubts about it as a process for writing a trilogy. I realised that if I just wandered into the third book with a fistful of subplots, an increasing cast of characters, and a vague desire to see what happened next, I would end up with a book that was twice as long as the first two books put together. I abandoned my usual process (a terrifying thing to do!) and actually sat down and worked out what was going to happen. Though I made sure I left a few questions unanswered, so I had some discoveries to make as I wrote. And Molly’s final decision was a surprise to both of us! 

So, that’s what I’ve learned from writing my first trilogy. But everyone has to find their own writing process. Perhaps each of us needs a new writing process for each new story? Whatever I write next, I’ll be finding out ‘what happens next’ in my shed, looking nervously above my head for spiders... 

About the Author

Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales.

She can be found on Twitter @LariDonWriter or at 
The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Lindsay Currie - The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street (Halloween Q&A) Interview with Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

With Halloween fast approaching, this is a fantastic book to get the goose-bumps flowing. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie was published in a gorgeous hardback in the US on the 10th October 2017. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the book and the author. 

I hope you enjoy the questions and that the answers make you want to pick up a copy of the book and read it, maybe in time for Halloween. Welcome, Lindsay Currie, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books and thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. 

Who would love reading THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET, and why?
Well, PECULIAR INCIDENT is a ghost story with some seriously creepy moments, so anyone who likes to be "spooked" will definitely enjoy it! That said, it's also a fun mystery and a story about friendship, family, bravery, and acceptance, so I hope everyone is able to take something away from Tessa's story! 

When the rain starts. When the lights go out. That's when the trouble begins... 
What trouble can we expect in this book?
Oooh, good question! PECULIAR INCIDENT is based on a real ghost legend who is buried here in Chicago. The legend is so fascinating (and creepy) that folks travel from all over the country to visit the gravesite! When I wrote the book, I attempted to incorporate the feeling you get when you look at the grave in as many scenes as possible. This means that PECULIAR INCIDENT has a pretty unsettling tone. There's storms, flickering lights, a spooky, antique ventriloquist doll, and all kinds of ghostly events! 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have so many! I love to write with candles going, so that's definitely something a little unusual about me. I also write with things surrounding me that make me feel inspired, so my writing desk is a bit . . . eclectic. There's an old-fashioned hourglass, several Harry Potter Funko figurines, and a sculpture made from found-items that looks suspiciously like a cross between a Thanksgiving turkey, and a monster. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I generally have an idea of where my story is going, but I don't plot per-se. It makes me feel more comfortable to let the characters lead the way. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I’ve been writing my entire life, so the decision to attempt a novel came on the heels of the revelation that writing isn't just a hobby for me. It's a lifestyle. Truthfully, the starting part is always the easiest; it's the finishing part that can be hard. 

Can you pass on any tips regarding the writing process to other budding writers?
Sure! I think when I first started out in publishing, I suffered from wanting things to happen fast all the time. I wanted to finish books quickly, edit them quickly, and see them in agent/editor hands quickly. I've come to learn this is a pretty common rookie error. The publishing industry is not a fast one, and the work of a writer should not be either. You need to take your time to write a good, timely book. It's impossible to know your characters and their goals/dreams/what motivates them unless you slow down and figure out what makes them tick. Same goes for plot. And editing? The more time you can take shining up your work, the better. There's a lot of amazing books out there, so make yours stand out! 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying/reading process?
Yes. Although we've all heard the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover", I think cover art is immensely important. A striking cover stands out on shelves, and a thoughtfully designed cover speaks to the reader even while they are reading the book. I got very lucky with my cover for THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET because the designer - Jessica Handelman - has designed several other covers that I adore, so I knew I'd love whatever she came up with for Tessa's story. The colors in the background are not only a nod to the stormy weather that persists in the book, but also my main character's hobby - pastel drawing. It truly couldn't be more perfect. 

What are your thoughts about how to encourage more children to read? Tough question. I really think this varies from child-to-child. For many children, it seems the key is finding what they enjoy. Finding books that don't feel like a chore to read - either from a content or reading level standpoint. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Spend time with my family. I have three children - ages 15, 14, and 11 that are my inspiration for everything. My favorite weekends are the ones where we hang out together, make dinner or rent a movie. 
My husband travels for work so when he's here, we do our best to make the most of it. 

What is your favourite book to read that scares you?
Yikes! Favorite scary book? That's a hard one. I'm going to answer with a book from my childhood called The Dollhouse Murders. That book terrified me as a kid, but was so deliciously wonderful that I couldn't stop reading. I reread it about two years ago and was delighted to discover that it still raises goosebumps on my arms today! 

About the Author 

Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and THREE DOGS! She's fond of tea, Halloween, Disney World and things that go bump in the night!


An author of young adult and middle-grade fiction, Lindsay is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her middle-grade novels are published with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Her young adult novels are published with Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. For more details on Lindsay's upcoming books, please visit her website:

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Guest Post By John Clewarth - The Dripping Quill: Reading and Writing for Halloween. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Today, on Mr Ripley's Enchanted Grizzly Books is a post for Halloween. This has been specifically written by John Clewarth, the author of two brilliant books, both of which will definitely get you in the spirit for this spooky time. So, grab a torch, get underneath the bed covers and give it a read - IF YOU DARE! 

BOO! Don’t you just love to be scared? I know I do – feeling that thrill and rush of the scarycoaster, particularly in the pages of a good book, is a great antidote to the pressures of real life. Halloween is lurking just around the corner, like the shadow of a vampire bat, and what better way to celebrate All Hallows' Eve than with a book that'll have you gripping each and every page with anticipation? 

It’s very difficult to choose top titles because there are so many great ones out there. For example, for the younger ones there are classics such as, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Scared of Anything, by Linda Williams (about a little old lady, walking home in the dark, and despite the best efforts of numerous spooky objects, she is completely unscareable!), and if they’re into witches, there’s the fabulous Room on the Broom – not scary but totally charming.

Middle grade offers up such tempting morsels as, The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney (author of the Spook’s Apprentice series) – Billy, the new prison guard starts his job in a far from ordinary prison; or perhaps, Doll Bones by Holly Black which tells the story of a group of friends on an epic journey, who encounter a bone china doll that is more powerful than anyone banked on!

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan, is a gross-out Young Adult retelling of tales from the Brothers Grimm: delicious! And of course, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is delightfully dark and ideal for this time of year.

These are just a few – and the list could go on and on forever (Google will point you in the right direction!) But, as a writer of spooky books for children and Young Adult myself, I thought it would be fun to share some techniques that I use when I’m writing the kind of material that could turn into a Halloween story. Maybe you could try some of these and see if they work for you too! Let’s say, you want to write a Halloween ghost story – they always go down well…

A good story is a good story; the same rules apply to ghost stories as to any other genre.

Create a likeable character who will be meeting the ghost. This could be the person that the reader identifies with. If we see the story through this person’s eyes and we feel they’re like us, we’ll be scared when they’re scared. 

Don't wait too long to start rattling the chains. In other words, hook the reader quickly with a scary event or at least the foreshadowing of one.

Create an unusual ghost; try to think of a different angle. The ghost could be anybody or anything - it could be the ghost of a dog, or an extinct animal, or any kind of person, with all their personality flaws.

Give the ghost motivation for what it’s doing. If it wants to frighten everybody, why? If it needs help, what unfinished business does it have on earth? See of you can come up with something unusual. It could be funny - maybe the person died in the middle of baking a cake and won’t able to rest until he or she sees how the finished product tastes. Perhaps the TV freaks out every time the Great British Bake Off is on! 

Create a fun hero or heroine for your story – why would they want to do battle with or help out the ghost? What will happen if they don’t? And put a deadline on it; perhaps the ghost must be banished before dawn, or something terrible might happen. 

See if you can come up with a twist to the ending. Instead of ending on the ghost’s problem being solved, maybe your character persuades the ghost to get even with a bully (of course you’d have to include the bully earlier in the story!) 

The story has to have atmosphere - the weather and setting help. Never underestimate the power of thunder and lightning and an abandoned old house in a scary story! 

Try not to be too graphic as you try to scare your reader – remember it is what you don’t see that scares you more than what you actually do see: what is that flickering shadow in the corner of your eye, that tapping on the window, that scratching beneath your bed?…

And remember, when writing for children or Young Adults - the secret of scaring them is remembering what it was like to be that age yourself. You need to try to remember what it was you were scared of as a young person, and how much you enjoyed being scared too. I used to love being allowed to stay up late on Friday nights to watch a show called ‘Appointment with Fear’. Even the opening titles were scary! And I always used to try to switch my bedroom light off so quickly that I could get in bed before it went dark (never made it!), just in case that thing in the wardrobe grabbed me before I hid under the duvet. 

And it’s exactly that ‘scary-but-safe’ thrill that I try to create in my own books, for children and Young Adults. Why not give them a try? Firestorm Rising, for Middle-Grade readers, reached the final of The People’s Book Prize (alongside a Neil Gaiman book – wowee!). It’s the story of three friends, who unearth something very strange in a graveyard – on Halloween, of course! Demons in the Dark, for the teen/Young Adult market, is a story of awakening truths that have long lain hidden, and the value of true friendship in the face of ultimate horrors. Either one of these titles would make an ideal Halloween read – but make sure you wrap up warm and leave the lights on! 


About the Author
John Clewarth is a writer for children and Young Adults. His first novel, ‘Firestorm Rising’, is a chilling tale, inspired by a visit to a gothic graveyard one dark, rainy day. His second novel, ‘Demons in the Dark’, is a horror story, broadly aimed written for the young adult market. John believes that horror should be scary but fun, and loves to lace his stories with humour. For further details and sneaky previews of these, along with John’s future projects, please 
visit his website: 
Other links: 
Twitter - @johnclewarth 
Facebook – John Clewarth - Author