Monday, 4 July 2022

Lindsay Littleson - Author Interview (Q&A) - The Rewilders - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #29



Today it's a pleasure to welcome Scottish author Lindsay Littleson to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. This interview is very much overdue so it's time to catch up with the author's recent book THE REWILDERS; a thrilling adventure story. The book was a finalist in our recent book cover wars which was very exciting. We hope you enjoy our interview by finding out more about Lindsay's books and her writing career. You can support the author by reading one of her fantastic fantasy adventures. You can buy HERE. 

  1. The Rewilders is your latest book to be published by Cranachan Books (March 2022). How would you summarise the story in a new synopsis to grab the readers' attention? 

The Rewilders takes readers on an exciting adventure to the stunning Highlands. Esme and Callum are on a quest to rewild a young lynx, but their journey is fraught with danger; including a raging river, angry farmers and a pack of menacing wolves. 


  1. Esme is one of the main characters in the book, how do you make your characters believable and stand out from the plot?


For me, creating believable characters is the most important part of writing a novel, because even if the plot’s adventure-packed, if readers don’t care what happens to the characters it’s impossible to create suspense and tension. Readers need to know what makes a character tick, and why they behave as they do, but that understanding should develop and deepen as the story progresses and we find out more about them. 


From bad-tempered Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden to bossy, dramatic Bertha in The Titanic Detective Agency, flawed characters are always more interesting. Lewis in Guardians of the Wild Unicorns can be grumpy and intolerant, but he is courageous, and he is a loyal friend.  Perfection’s dull, and isn’t remotely believable!


Although Esme in The Rewilders might not be immediately likeable, there are reasons behind her behaviour, and hopefully readers will understand, or even relate to, different aspects: her feelings of anxiety when her mother leaves, her fear of stepping out of her comfort zone, perhaps even the fact that she is best friends with a bully because she’s afraid of the consequences of stepping away from the friendship. 

 

At school, Esme has been siding with her friend Isobel, even when she knows very well that Isobel’s behaviour is frequently unkind. During the journey across the moors to rewild the lynx,  Esme has the time and space to consider the effect bullying has on others and she realises she has to make changes and find the courage to become the person she wants to be. 

  1. Did the Highland landscape inspire any part of the story? 

The Highland moors and Scotland’s ancient temperate rainforests are both the setting of and the inspiration behind The Rewilders. The Highlands are glorious, but the terrible truth is that over the years, the landscape has been damaged and degraded and is now in desperate need of repair and regeneration. The message in the Rewilders is primarily about the urgent need to protect and repair our precious wild environments, as much for our own sake as nature’s. 

Only fragments of internationally important Scotland’s temperate rainforests remain, and discovering about them inspired this description in The Rewilders

With its craggy rocks and gushing waterfalls, this place felt other-worldly—like a fantasy film set—a magical forest of wood elves and unicorns. But it wasn’t magical, it was real; a living reminder of Scotland’s past. Weak autumn sunlight slanted through the mainly deciduous trees, a mixture of birch, ash, hazel and a few ancient, gnarled oaks. Their bark was crusted with rust-orange lichen, their leaves turning scarlet and gold. Spongy moss carpeted the soggy ground and furred the tree branches. 



  1. Do you think being a Scottish author that local heritage is important to portray in children's stories? 

Obviously, Scottish authors should feel free to write the stories they are passionate about, and I don’t feel restricted to writing stories set in Scotland, as The Titanic Detective Agency proves! But I do believe it’s important that children are aware of their local history. I spent many years as a teacher in the Paisley area, and the main reason for writing my Victorian novel, A Pattern of Secrets was to give local children information about their town’s incredible textile heritage, within an adventure story about 12-year-old Jim who escapes from the Abbey Poorhouse and has to attempt to save his little brother from the same fate, by retrieving a lost family heirloom.

While The Rewilders is set in Scotland and focuses on the topical issue of rewilding large predators, such as lynx and wolves, to the Highlands,  the novel’s main message is a global one. It’s vital that we all do our part in protecting and restoring our planet’s natural environments and in caring for our precious, vulnerable wildlife. 

  1. What kind of books did you enjoy reading as a child? 

The Borrowers series was a revelation. The novels have a gloomy, melancholy air, very different from the upbeat adventure stories of Enid Blyton, all of which I’d already devoured, and I loved Arrietty’s courage and desire for adventure. The Hobbit, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and the Narnia books were all fantasy favourites too. But I also enjoyed character-driven stories about children to whom I could relate in some way, like Kate Ruggles in The Family From One End Street, surrounded by siblings and desperate for a place to read in peace. 

  1. You have a number of successful books that have been published, at what point do you decide to commit to writing a story to the very end or choose to abandon it?

When I first began writing I produced quite a few stories that should have been abandoned at an earlier stage and which eventually ended up in a drawer. Gradually, I realised the way I worked needed to change. More planning at the initial stages was essential, to try and reduce wasted time. So now, when an idea first emerges, I doodle my characters and annotate the drawings; describing each character’s physical appearance and personality traits, both negative and positive. Then I might draw a map of the setting or create a family tree. If I’m feeling really keen to tell this story and in love with my characters, then I’ll begin writing rough chapter outlines and hopefully from those, I’ll be able to produce a workable first draft. But obviously there are no guarantees!

  1. What feelings do you have when you walk into a place filled with books? 

Libraries always make me feel nostalgic. I remember so clearly visiting our local library with my mum every week. She would have a little wheeled trolley with her, because she’d borrow so many heavy hardbacks, one from each section of the library, that we couldn’t carry them home. I’d skip into the children’s section, fingers crossed that there would be something new, something I hadn’t yet read. 

When I enter a second-hand bookshop, I breathe in the slightly musty smell, and feel a thrill of anticipation and a buzz of excitement, because I’m on a treasure hunt. My latest treasure is a battered copy of Selfridge’s Household Encyclopaedia from 1929, which earnestly explains that appendicitis is caused by swallowing fruit pips or toothbrush bristles and has some excellent advice on the etiquette around visiting cards.

  1. What question would you have loved for me to have asked you and why? 

I would have loved you to ask me what I am working on at the moment, because my brain is currently buzzing with ideas for A Spy’s Guide to Europe, the teaching resource I’m creating to accompany my new MS, Euro Spies. The novel is about three school children on a whirlwind trip around Europe, who are catapulted into a world of art, espionage and terrible danger. Euro Spies features fiendish clues, all hidden on famous European landmarks, and lots of hard-to-crack codes. The novel was an absolute joy to write and it’s coming out in April 2023. 


Website:http://www.lindsaylittleson.co.uk/books/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/ljlittleson



Friday, 1 July 2022

Danny Weston - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Hunter's Moon - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #28

 


We all love a Danny Weston book, especially me! Therefore, it was great to catch up with the man himself as part of our next author interview. His latest book, A Hunter's Moon, has been published by UCLan Publishing. It is another masterclass in storytelling that will leave your spine tingling and your fantasy imagination in overdrive! You can check out our book review HERE to find out more. We hope you enjoy this interview and can be tempted into walking the "darkside" of fiction.  It's time to enter at your peril; good luck and we hope to see you again. 

  1. You are a man of mystery so please tell us about your latest mystery and why we should read it?

My latest book is called A Hunter’s Moon. It’s a folk-horror tale inspired by the Scottish legend of the Cù Sìth - the supernatural wolflike creature said to haunt the forest of Tay, the servant of the mysterious Walkers in the Woods. Since moving to Scotland several years ago, I have been taking a lot of inspiration from Scottish folklore and this legend is one that I hadn’t previously heard about, but I instantly felt compelled to write about it. People should read this book if they like a dark mystery with a supernatural twist. It was conceived and written during the lockdown and, it was only after I finished, I realised it could be seen as an allegory about COVID 19.

  1. You have a fantastic way of writing really scary but believable stories. Do some elements in your books have a certain amount of truth to them? If so, could you share what these are?

Firstly, thank you for the compliment. I would say that all my books have truths in them, but they are cunningly disguised as fiction. What I mean is that no matter how fantastic the premise of a story, the characters and the world in which they live must be rendered in an entirely believable way. Once a reader is convinced about the people in the story, they’ll start to care about them. And then they’ll be willing to suspend their disbelief when the story ventures into the realms of the fantastic.

  1. What scares Danny Weston in fiction and in life?

It’s great fun to be scared by fiction. I’ve loved reading horror stories since my teens and the beauty of this kind of horror is that it's caged within the book. I love a good short story. Roald Dahl used to specialise in them before he started writing for younger readers. And I love the short stories of Ray Bradbury and H.H. Munro (Saki). A reader knows that what’s happening on the page cannot really hurt them. 

Real life is a lot scarier - and what scares me are the big subjects like global warming, the rise of the far right, poverty, famine and the possibility of war - all totally out of my control. The best thing about being a writer is that I can have autonomy over the worlds I create. I can impose a kind of order on it all.

  1. I hear you and Philip Caveney are good pals; who do you think would win in a written dual and why?

The two of us used to say terrible things about each other, but lately we’ve been on surprisingly good terms. I think we’ve both come to accept that we owe each other a great deal and I’m finally ready to admit that without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Also, I’m not sure how you’d do a written duel. Fountain pens at dawn?

  1. Which book are you most proud of writing and is there anything you’d change about it looking back?

Inevitably, the book I’m most proud of is my very first, The Sins of Rachel Ellis. It was published way back in 1977. I know I’ve written better books, but this was the one that started the ball rolling. I had been trying since my teens to get a book published and there were two serious attempts before this one. (Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t ready.) Rachel Ellis was my last gasp, do-or-die attempt to crack the nut and thankfully, I got there. I was twenty-six years old and it felt like I’d just climbed Mount Everest.

  1. What kind of childhood did Danny Weston have? What kind of books did he enjoy reading that influenced his stories when he got older?

I had a peripatetic childhood, which is a posh way of saying I moved around a lot. My dad was in the Royal Air Force so every two years, we upped sticks and went to another air base (most of them in Lincolnshire). So I had one of those old-fashioned childhoods where you wander about the countryside, damming streams, climbing trees and generally getting up to mischief. Then my parents got posted to Singapore and I ended up in a horrible boarding school in Peterborough. It’s interesting to note how many of my books feature a boy who has been separated from his parents. Just saying.

  1. I hear your drawing skills are very good; could you draw one of your favourite characters from your book?

I trained as a graphic designer a very long time ago, but I’m rusty these days and usually prefer to leave that kind of stuff to the professionals. I did however come across a sketch I did a few years back, when I was in the early stages of writing Mr Sparks and decided to try and capture the look of the central character. He’s a two hundred year old ventriloquist dummy and may just be the single most evil character I’ve ever created. The finished cover (by James Fraser) is a thousand times better.

  1. Is there a particular question that you would not have liked me to ask? If so, what is it and why? 

I hate it when I’m visiting a school and a pupil asks me that question. ‘Please sir, how much do you earn?’ I hate it for two reasons. One, because money and writing are two entirely different things and two, because it’s always embarrassing when you start crying in public. You can buy the book HERE.  


Monday, 27 June 2022

David Solomons - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #27

 


It's time to explore another interview with you today; an epic interview with funny man author David Solomons. His new book, A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy, is just about to be launched into orbit on the 7th July 2022 with Nosy Crow Books. It's all about handing in your homework on time or maybe NOT?  

I have really enjoyed reading the responses to the questions posed. I particularly agree with the last part of question seven and would like to know your thoughts after reading this interview. You can share on Twitter with us @Enchantedbooks and with David Solomons @DavidSolomons2 if you have anything to say on this topic. Look forward to hearing from you and enjoy the post. 

  1. 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.


  1. 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. 


  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.

  1. 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 heart ache. 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 sale, 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.


 8. 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. You can buy HERE. 

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Best Children's US Book Picks June 2022 - Picked by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Kiersten White - Wretched Waterpark (The Sinister Summer Series) - Published by ‎ Delacorte Press (June 7, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593379042 - Hardback - Age: 7+

A brand-new middle-grade mystery series that's spooky, creepy, and filled with gothic twists! Meet the Sinister-Winterbottom twins, who solve mysteries at increasingly bizarre summer vacation destinations in the hopes of being reunited with their parents—or at the very least finally finding a good churro.

Meet the Sinister-Winterbottoms: brave Theo, her timid twin, Alexander, and their older sister, Wil. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides—er—walks. 

When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool. 

Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth?


Lora Senf - The Clackity - Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 28, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1665902670 - Hardback - Age: 9+
Reminiscent of Doll Bones, this deliciously eerie middle-grade novel tells the story of a girl who must enter a world of ghosts, witches, and monsters to play a game with deadly consequences and rescue her aunt.

Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.

There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie must embark on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls.


Judith Eagle (Author), Jo Rioux (Illustrator) - The Pear Affair  - Published by Walker Books US (June 14, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1536217032 - Hardback - Age: 9+


Nell is determined to find her beloved missing au pair in this vibrant adventure set in, and underneath, Paris.
Penelope Magnificent spends as little time as possible with her awful parents—a grocery-mogul father and a fashion-obsessed mother who loves expensive purses more than she does her daughter. But when they mention an important trip to Paris, Nell begs to come along. Paris holds something very dear to her: her old au pair Perrine—Pear—who lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week, promising to come to her rescue, but recently the letters stopped. With the help of a savvy bellboy named Xavier, Nell sets out from her parents’ ultra-fancy Parisian hotel to find her beloved Pear. But Pear’s old neighbors and coworkers are strangely tight-lipped. And as Nell’s search for the truth takes her and Xavier to some of the darkest, most mysterious parts of the city, a sinister plot comes to light involving the destruction of a cherished—and delicious—part of Parisian life. Food, fashion, and intrigue abound in this delightful caper from the author of The Secret Starling.


Kelly Devos - Go Hunt Me - Published by Razorbill (June 14, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593204856 - Hardback - Age: 12+ 

For Dracula lovers and fans of Diana Urban’s All Your Twisted Secretsthis spine-tingling thriller follows seven horror buffs as their dream trip to a remote Romanian castle turns into a nightmare when they begin to be killed one by one.

Alex Rush is ready for the trip of a lifetime.
 
She and her friends have made some creepily awesome films together throughout high school, so with only a few months left before they go their separate ways for college, they’re determined to make the best one yet: an epic short film that reimagines the story of 
Dracula, filmed on location at a remote castle in Romania.
 
But when they get there, it’s not quite the majestic setting they planned for. Menacing weapons line the walls, the twisted halls are easy to get lost in, and with no connection to the outside world, the group is unexpectedly off the grid. After just a few hours spent under its roof, Alex and her friends have no trouble imagining how this dark, terrifying castle inspired one of the most enduring horror novels of all time.
 
Only soon they no longer have to use their imaginations to understand the location’s terrifying history—just as they get the film's first shot rolling, one of Alex’s friends disappears, and she’s nearly certain she saw a cloaked stranger lurking in the shadows. As more members of the group begin to meet an untimely demise, Alex is desperate to stop the bloodshed, even if it means facing a monster she never thought would be let loose.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Maisie Chan - Author Interview (Q&A) - Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #26

 

Hello Everybody! This week we have another wonderful interview; I'm delighted to introduce Maisie Chan, who is the author of Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths. Her latest book is Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu and was only published this month (June 2022) by Piccadilly Press. In this interview, we are given a fantastic insight into the author, her relationship with her stories, and the characters of the books. I have really enjoyed reading the author's responses to the questions and hope these inspire you to pick up a copy of the book, which can be purchased HERE.
  • Your recent novel is called Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu and will be published on 9th June 2022 with Piccadilly Press. How did you pitch this book idea to the publisher?
When I sold Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths I had to pitch a second book. I wrote down a one page pitch about a Chinese goddess who comes to earth but she's had enough with being a goddess and wants to be human. That book isn't Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu! However, I did want to keep the aspect of having a Chinese goddess in a more contemporary story. I had also written a teen novel about a girl who looks after her grandfather who has dementia, so I tried to put the two ideas together. I then wanted to infuse it with popular culture as I felt that TV and films had been a blessing over the lockdowns. 

  • Have you based any of the characters in the story on real people?

Well, I have some experience of being a young adult carer who looks after an older man, so I guess Lizzie has some links to me. Chi and Tyler her best friends aren't based on people I know. I did name some characters in the book using the names of my friends but the characters aren't them. Wai Gong (grandfather) is loosely based on my dad Ron, who had dementia and used to see someone he called 'Angel' so that sort of made it into the plot! 
  • There is a mention of sausage sandwiches in the plot; what would be Lizzie Chu's favourite sandwich fillings? 
Lizzie loves roast dinners, so I reckon she would like roast chicken (with the skin on) on some white crusty bread with butter, maybe with a smear of mayo. 
  • Lizzie comes up with an idea in the book to take Wai Gong on the trip of a lifetime to Blackpool. Why Blackpool and did you visit it as a child? 
I used to go to British seaside towns a lot as a child. We didn't have money to go to fancy places like....Benidorm! We would go to Blackpool on the coach and see the illuminations. We also went to Rhyl and Barry Island a lot. I remember there was a swarm of flying ants one summer. It was my worst nightmare! 
(Maybe that could be a good topic in a future book?)

  • Your first book was called Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths. What did you learn from writing this book that helped you to develop Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu? 
I had much less time to write Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu than I did Danny Chung. My editor was there from the beginning, which wasn't the case during the early drafts of Danny Chung. I think having an expert there in the early stages really helps so there are fewer drafts needed as they can steer you in the right direction a bit earlier. What I did differently with Lizzie Chu was to have a much stronger opening chapter where there is more action and tension. 
  • You are a British Chinese author who lives in Glasgow, are there any particular aspects of your cultural heritage that may we find in the characters and the plot? 
There are fewer British Chinese cultural elements in Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu and this was because unlike Danny Chung, I wasn't trying to introduce British Chinese culture to those who didn't know much about it. I wanted the story to be about a girl who really wants to do a nice thing for her grandad, and they're fairly British in the sense that they speak English to each other and aren't always eating 'Chinese' food (which to Chinese people is just called 'food'!). There are aspects of Chinese stories in the book. I used to dress up as Guan Yin when I was a storyteller, she's the goddess of compassion and mercy. So there are stories about her that are Chinese. She's one of the most beloved Chinese deities. Later on, I put in the Journey to the West story which is one of the most famous Chinese novels of all time. So the journey of Lizzie and the gang, mirrors the journey in that famous story which has the Monkey King in it. 
  • I love a good dance, what music would you and Lizzie Chu dance to?
I think Lizzie would dance to Cha-Cha-Slide which has elements of the cha cha cha but also is funky! I really like all kinds of music, old-school hip hop, RNB, Soul, Pop, World Music and Classical music. I like dancing, but I'm definitely not great at it! I can't do routines! But I can freestyle! 
  • How important is it to write books for children and do you think there is a place for adults to read and enjoy them as well?
Writing books for children is very special. I think there are multiple levels of things going on when you write for children. The most important is the story. Then books can promote empathy. Some children can see themselves for the first time when reading my book. That's important to me as I didn't have a book like Danny Chung or Lizzie Chu when I was growing up. There was nothing at all, and they still remain very few books like mine out there which is a shame. I've had many adults tell me that they enjoyed Danny Chung and I think Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu will appeal to adults too, especially if they like Strictly Come Dancing! 

Website: www.maisiechan.com

Twitter: @maisiewrites

Insta: @maisiechanwrites

Tik Tok: @maisiechanwrites

Friday, 17 June 2022

Hannah Moffatt - SMALL! BLOG TOUR - What Next For Harvey Small? (Everything With Words)



Hello everybody! Welcome to the final stop on the Hannah Moffatt blog tour. This post is about the main character Harvey Small and WHAT NEXT? This brilliant book is now available to buy and READ.  However, if you need any more encouragement to purchase a copy then you can check out our BOOK REVIEW HERE. All the stops for the blog tour are at the bottom of the post if you have not had the chance to check these out already. Anyway, without any further ado, if you are sitting comfortably and ready for unspeakable trouble then you have come to the right place!

Hmm, what next for Harvey Small? That’s a hard question to answer without giving away lots of spoilers! So, what can I say?


First up, don’t worry. Book one doesn’t leave you hanging. Stories that end on ‘you’ll never guess who was at the door’ moments feel unfair on readers who’ve picked up a book expecting a complete story. So, although I drop a big hint about what might come next, I hope you’ll feel excited rather than frustrated.


With that in mind, here are some ways I’ve tried to pave the way for a sequel without putting readers off. (If you’re writing a series, feel free to try them, too.)


Leave room to explore

The Stinking Sinking Swamp is a big place. One of the reasons I don’t feel done with Harvey yet is that I want to visit more of the world beyond Madame Bogbrush’s School for Gifted Giants. A second story gives me room to roam. I hope you’ll come with me.


Create characters you want to hang out with

I love Harvey’s relationship with his giant best friend, Walloping Toenail. A sequel gives that friendship time to grow. So far, we’ve seen Harvey struggling to fit in a giant’s world. But what will Walloping do if his lifelong wish to be an explorer is scarier than he expected? How will he cope if the rest of the world really is too small for him?  


Whatever happens, I know Harvey and Walloping will stick together, no matter what scrapes they get in.



Build a boomerang problem that can keep coming back

There are two levels of problem in Small! There are the one-off problems, that have to wrap up nicely to make the end feel satisfying. They include answering the obvious questions:

  • Will the giants figure out Harvey’s not a giant? 
  • Will Harvey’s bad luck change?
  • Will Madame Bogbrush’s School for Gifted Giants pass the Beastly School Board inspection?


Then there’s what I’m calling the boomerang problem: the one that goes away when the book ends but could easily come back to clonk Harvey on the head if he’s not careful.


In Small! the child-stealing threat from the Unspeakable Circus is that boomerang. So, expect lots more unspeakable trouble in Harvey’s next adventure. You’ve been warned!





Wednesday, 15 June 2022

James Harris - Author Interview (Q&A) Happytown Must Be Destroyed - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #25

 


What a joy to have James Harris back for another interview. This time we wanted to find out more about his new book HAPPYTOWN MUST BE DESTROYED which was published by Hodder Children's books on the 14th April, 2022. It's a story about jogging, eating salads, and really enjoying these whilst smiling all the time. They're happy; really, REALLY happy. Who could complain about that? Well, it's time to find out! 

  1. Happytown Must Be Destroyed is the title of your latest book; it is a fantastic title. In what ways does the story live up to this amazing title?

Why thank you! I actually came up with the title first, about nine years ago, and it’s taken me this long to come up with a story that is worthy of the name.  

  1. What comical capers do the characters get up to and why is everybody so happy?

Well, everybody is happy because there’s aliens in their heads making them happy, that’s the problem! And Leeza is the only person who can save the world, but she’s really terrible at making decisions. So there’s a lot of indecision, a ton of running around, a fair amount of aliens schlurping up peoples’ noses, some heavily-armed ice cream men firing freeze rays all over the place, a colossal dance routine, some top-notch arguments, a small jar of pickled onions… something for everyone, really!

  1. The last book was about biscuits, is this book still good to read with a cup of tea? 

Yes, but as always remember: dunk the biscuit, not the book!

  1. How important is it that readers find the story funny? Is this something that is important to you? 

When I write stuff, whether it’s alien invasions or giant orange monsters running round town, it just turns out funny, I can’t help it. A lot of people say my books are “bonkers” but the planet that we live on is pretty bonkers generally, so to me that’s realistic.

  1. I see you are a filmmaker, a performer, and also a pole-vaulter. How has each role contributed to you becoming a children's author? 

Apart from the pole-vaulting, which is just a big fib, everything I’ve done: making films, comics, zines, sketch shows, animations – they’ve all involved writing, so it was all practice. All the little things I have written over the years, for fun, have all helped me be the writer I am today. Keep writing, that’s my advice!

  1. When you were last interviewed you were just coming to the end of writing this book. Did it all go to plan or did the Aliens and the allergies get you?

Oh, it took a couple of goes to get it right. It’s all about juggling the aliens, and the allergies, and the ice cream, and the friendship, and the action and the emotion… it took me a while to keep all the balls in the air for a whole book. Did I manage it finally? Read it and find out!

  1. Are you going to make a short pointless film for this book? I really think you should! 

Oh go on then! I should, shouldn’t I?

  1. What question do you wish you had been asked as part of this Q&A and why? How would one of your characters have responded to this question?

Ooh, well they’ve all been good questions… You could have asked “Should everyone buy this book?” and I would have said “HECK YES”, of course, but Leeza would have said “hmm… but there are so many other books you could buy… I don’t know. Yes, maybe?” and her best friend Ishy would have burped the alphabet and jumped over a bin. Does that help?


Monday, 13 June 2022

The Best Children's/Kids Book Picks June 2022 - UK - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Elen Caldecott - The Blackthorn Branch - Published by 
Andersen Press (2 Jun. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839132032 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Cassie’s older brother Byron has fallen in with the wrong crowd – it’s soon clear these boys are wild, reckless and not human at all. They are tylwyth teg – Fair Folk, who tempt humans down into the dark places of the world. And Byron is tempted.

When he goes missing, Cassie and her cousin, Siân, follow his trail to an old abandoned railway tunnel which goes down and down into Annwn, the underworld. Here they find that the tylwyth teg are restless – and angry. Their leader, Gwenhidw, wants to protect Annwn from the damage humans are doing to the world. Byron is part of her plan. But Cassie won’t let her big brother be part of anyone’s plan. Can she rescue her brother before it is too late?


Kate Gilby Smith - Olive Jones and the Memory Thief - Published by Orion Children's Books (23 Jun. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1510108523 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Olive Jones has just inherited her grandmother's memories - through a mysterious new device called a Memoriser. But her grandmother has left her a mystery in those memories. And now it's up to Olive to solve it.

After her grandmother's funeral, Olive learns she has inherited something unexpected: her grandmother's memories.

Olive is surprised - her grandmother wasn't a cuddly, affectionate kind of grandmother. Curious about what she might discover, Olive sets out to 'watch' the memories. But before she can, they're stolen right from under her nose. Olive can't understand why anybody would want to steal the memories. As far as she'd known, her grandmother had always lived an utterly ordinary life.

Following the trail of the thief, Olive begins to discover that her grandmother's life wasn't what she thought. As she unravels the secrets lurking in her grandmother's past, she discovers clues Grandma Sylvie left her. It's up to Olive to solve the mystery of the memory thief, and in the process, learn about the incredible life and adventures of the grandmother she has never really known.


Lindsay Galvin - My Friend the Octopus - Published by Chicken House (2 Jun. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913696405 - Paperback - Age: 8+

England, 1893, and aquarium fever is at its height.

Twelve-year-old Vinnie Fyfe works in the tea-shop at Brighton aquarium, and waits for her milliner mother to return from Paris.

The arrival of a giant octopus changes her life for ever. Discovering a talent for art, Vinnie begins to draw the extraordinary beast.

She soon realises she can communicate with the octopus through colour and – as a gripping mystery begins to unfold – discovers what true courage really means ...


Alastair Chisholm - The Consequence Girl - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (2 Jun. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839941207 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

A thrilling, unputdownable adventure, from the highly-acclaimed author of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize-shortlisted Orion Lost and the Blackwell's Children's Book of the Year, Adam-2.

The world of Colony is in ruins. No one knows what caused society to begin tearing itself apart - but the secret may lie with Cora, a girl living on the mountainside far away from others. Cora possesses an extraordinary gift: the power to see back in time, from an event back to its causes. Even more incredibly, sometimes she can change events. But the present is looking for Cora, and she is forced on the run - and must decide who she is, what she can do ... and how to fix the future.

With incredible twists and turns, and a hugely gripping story, The Consequence Girl is a brilliantly-imagined, ambitious and high-concept adventure from one of the most exciting new voices in children's fantasy and science fiction.