Saturday, 4 June 2022
Monday, 30 May 2022
David Solomons - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #21
- A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy is your new book, please could you sum up this book in the craziest way possible?
Space opera in the suburbs. It’s that old story of boy meets girl next door. Girl turns out to be heir to the galactic throne who’s on the run and hiding out on earth from… ah. No spoilers.
- After writing five fantastic books in My Brother is a Superhero series, what challenges did you have starting with this new book? Did fresh ideas flow from the very first page?
Thank-you for the compliment! I find that ideas flow in much the same way that blood does from an open wound. There’s a lot of them, but it’s a painful process. On the first question, enough time had passed since I’d closed the final chapter on the My Brother series that I didn’t feel those books hovering at my shoulder and peering at what I was doing now. Although, as I write this, I realise that everything I’ve ever written is shelved three feet behind me and could be said to be looming over me judgementally.
- Are laughter and humour always going to be David Solomons's key writing ingredients? Do you feel it is important that readers engage through laughter when reading your books?
I don’t set out to write funny books, it’s just the way they come out. I’m an inveterate noodler when it comes to funny scenes – I find myself going over and over them like some mad scientist – word choice, sentence rhythm, electrodes – in an effort to draw out the maximum lols. I can’t envisage writing a book that doesn’t contain humour; to do so would require a level of self-restraint that I have thus far failed to demonstrate in my life. Though I would say that, in my own mind anyway, I pay as much attention to the other elements. I challenge myself to make the stories funny and exciting, funny and poignant. It’s a tricky balance. For example, putting a snarky line into a character’s mouth at the wrong time can undercut what could and should be a dramatic moment. After years working together my editor, Kirsty Stansfield at Nosy Crow, is very good at reigning in my overenthusiastic tendencies!
- Most of the characters you write about have a superpower, what is your superpower?
I can bend time so that deadlines just bounce off me.
- Everybody loves an evil villain, which villain would you love to have a real-life conversation with and how do you think it would go?
First, one that comes to mind is Darth Vader, but it would be Eddie Izzard’s version of him from the legendary Death Star canteen routine. In which case our conversation would probably end with him killing me. With a tray.
- Which of your books would you like to see being turned into a film and why?
Any of them! And as for the reason, are you hoping for something more meaningful than fame, glory and a thumping great first day principal photography fee? I’ve been endeavouring to get my books into development/production for years, with a modicum of success. Steve Coogan’s company optioned My Brother is a Superhero, and I wrote a script for a proposed TV series, but that went away. I continue, Charlie Brown-like, to put my work in front of producers. In my other career as a screenwriter, I’ve written the screenplays for three films, including a version of Five Children and It, which I’m pleased to say continues to enjoy a life long after its debut.
These days I write screenplays mostly with my wife, Natasha. And they’re mostly adaptations of her books (for grown-ups). So, the other answer to your question is I’d like to have a film made purely to justify all the hard work we’ve put into the process.
- How important do you think it is to get children to read for enjoyment?
I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. For them there isn’t any other kind of reading. By which I mean they’ll only read if the experience is enjoyable. Our eldest is going through an interesting reading phase. I’m in the fortunate position that I’m aware of what’s brand new in the world of children’s fiction. It used to be I could put anything in front of him and he’d read it, but from hoovering up every kind of book, reading three or four a week, he’s slowing down. Still reading and enjoying, but I get the sense that he’s starting to form his own likes and dislikes. He’s happy to reject dad’s suggestions! The six-year-old is just finding her reading feet, but she already has strong opinions, especially when it comes to line readings. At bedtime, when Natasha or I are reading to her, she’ll make us stop if she thinks we’ve flubbed a line. Then she’ll read it the way it ought to be performed.
To go back to the original question, it makes my heartache. Our whole industry ultimately relies on enough of these little people wanting to pick up a book. It’s why I get so angry when some publishers foist substandard fiction on them. Kid reads average book with huge marketing budget and shrugs: I’ll go back to YouTube thanks. Yes, publisher gets immediate sales, but what about the long-term? Is that kid going to turn into a lifelong reader if her early exposure to books is so flawed? I know it’s not as simple as that, but it doesn’t help.
- What question were you hoping to be asked in this Q&A and why?
Is the author who appears in ‘My Cousin is a Time Traveller’ based on you?
So, in the last of the Superhero series our heroes get an author visit at school, a dismal presentation from a sweating, under-rehearsed children’s writer. I was quite emotional, writing the last of this series, and I knew I was saying goodbye to characters who’d had transformative effect on my life. So I wrote myself into the story in order to say goodbye to them ‘in person’. However, since I pantsed much of that novel (i.e. made it up as I went along) my character turned out to have a bigger role than I’d intended. Thanks for asking.
Monday, 23 May 2022
Lynette Noni - The Prisoner Healer - Published by Clarion Books (May 10, 2022) - Paperback - Age: 11+
Sylvia Douyé (Author), Paola Antista (Illustrator) - Sorceline - Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (May 17, 2022) -
Thursday, 12 May 2022
Ross MacKenzie - The Colour of Hope - Published by
Years ago, the Emperor used dark magic to steal all the colour from the world. Now he keeps it for himself, enjoying its life-giving power while everyone else must exist in cold shades of grey. That is, until a miracle baby is born – everything she touches turns to colour. But the child’s life is in danger from her very first breath. Soon the Emperor’s murderous Ripper Dogs and Black Coats come hunting. Can the girl and her adopted father survive in the forest – and what will it take to return colour and hope to the world?
Caryl Lewis (Author), George Ermos (Illustrator) - SEED - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (12 May 2022) -
Jasmine Richards - The Unmorrow Curse - Published by - Paperback - Age: 8+
Two friends awaken a world of myth and magic in this epic middle-grade fantasy perfect for fans of Rick Riordan. It's not every day that you find a famous weather woman bound by magic to a tree deep in the woods. Or discover that the weatherwoman is in fact Sunna, the Norse Goddess of the Sun, and one of the seven day guardians who keep time in order. But that's just what happens to new friends Buzz and Mari--and it's only the start of their adventure. Now, as humanity are forced into a lockdown called the Unmorrow Curse and are forced to repeat the same Saturday over and over again, Buzz and Mari must journey to collect the Runes of Valhalla and awaken the other day guardians, before vengeful god Loki can get to them first.
Sunday, 8 May 2022
Hana Tooke (Author), Ayesha L. Rubio (Illustrator) - THE MIDNIGHTERS - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books
The best stories feel like dreams... This is the second middle-grade book by Hana Tooke. THE MIDNIGHTERS has the power to transport you in your dreams to one of the best places in the world; the world of fantasy and make-believe. This book really is magnificent - you only need to hold and see the proof copy to know that it is going to be a great read. The book will be published on 23rd June 2022 by Puffin Books; the cover has been illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio. I'm really looking forward to seeing the final hardback copy once it's been published.
Streetlamps looked like fallen stars is one of the first lines in the book. As soon as you read these words, the magic and the power instantly transport you into a world of awe and wonder. This is a gothic story full of magic, invention, and intrigue. The dark and unsettling nature is so delicious to read and savour, it really is spellbinding stuff. The reader follows in the footsteps of the leading character happily wandering the streets and alleyways.
Ema Vaškov is the twelfth child to be born into an extraordinary family in extraordinary circumstances. She has the gift to predict events before they happen. However, will the bad omens come TRUE? Set in Prague in December 1877, the story uncovers secret midnight adventures with a mystery girl called Silvie. Unfortunately, she suddenly goes missing providing the opportunity to uncover the secrets of her disappearance and her identity. This story will really take your breath away; it'll steal your heartbeat as you cycle on one of Josef's handmade boneshaker bikes. It's full of places that will make your imagination explode and dazzle whilst the plot is so thick with possibilities you will not what to miss this adventure.
This book is a true delight and one of the best reads of the year. It's a story full of adventure, friendship, facing fears, and finding out who you really are. It's time for you to find the secret society and go behind the four different doors: The Dreamer, The Illusionist, The Bone Sculptor, and The Astronomer. Each place contains a pinch of magic, a splash of the macabre, a dollop of invention, and a world full of wonder. You will not be disappointed - this is a truly enchanting read that is up there with the very best.
You can buy the book HERE.
Thursday, 28 April 2022
Monday, 25 April 2022
Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Jamie Russell - SkyWake Battlefield - Published by
Caught up in an alien war on a distant galaxy, Casey and her team are fighting for their lives – but which side should they be on? The second in an exciting and original debut sci-fi adventure trilogy for the gaming generation.Casey and hundreds of other SkyWakers are now stuck on the planet Hosin, thousands of miles out in space, forced by the Red Eyes to fight the elusive Squids. Casey and her squad, the Ghost Reapers, are determined to rescue the other gamers and return to Earth – but when the strangely compelling Squids enter Casey's mind, begging for help, Casey faces an impossible decision. With the team split in two and Casey's brother on the other side, home seems further away than ever. How can Casey save the planet if she can't keep her friends?
Saturday, 9 April 2022
I'm delighted to be able to introduce this debut middle-grade children's book by actor and musician Simon Packham. Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? is a fantastic poignant read that will be published this April (2022) by the Welsh publisher Firefly Press. The book starts with the introduction of the main character, Archie Ebbs. Life is brilliant, the summer term has just begun and we find him watching YouTube, eating chocolate brownies, as well as laughing and joking with his friends. The PERFECT life, however, the script does not run to plan just like his recent YouTube hit video The Revenge of the Fruit.
The story is a really intriguing one. It's very cleverly written and highlights a series of issues that some families and people might relate to. It highlights the devastating effect that homelessness can have on a family and children's lives. In this plot, the subject is tackled in a brilliant and somewhat surreal but imaginatively quirky way. The story cleverly reveals the stark realities of the situation in a sad and funny way.
The characters really danced and jumped off the page to bring one of the best stories that I've read so far this year. It's a modern and fresh take highlighting an important topic that doesn't feature much in stories. In fact, I loved this book so much that I couldn't help but go through a roller-coaster of emotions with all the characters - each and every one of them. This is a great class read for children to discuss but I would highly recommend it to everyone.
It's a real pleasure to be on the blog tour for this book. One of the characters you will come to love is Charlie Ebbs's sister Izzy. Her boyfriend is called Clint and he plays an important role in the book. Here we have a little fun character bio that has been put together for the book tour. However, as you're here why not check out all the other stops too by taking a look at the list above (on the right). BUY HERE.