Sunday, 17 July 2022

Justyn Edwards - The Great Fox Illusion - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #31

 


The greatest illusion of all is the art of telling a good story; the trick is there is no trick. It's time to dream and let your imagination take hold in this brilliant fantasy adventure with the author, Justyn Edwards. The Great Fox Illusion was published by Walker Books (April 2022). Check this book out as I believe it just might be the READ you are looking for this summer. We hope you enjoy it and see you again soon! 

  1. The Great Fox Illusion is your debut book and was published in April 2022. What illusion do you put the readers under and do you think they will enjoy the fantasy experience? 

Stories have a very similar flow, rhythm and structure to a good magic performance. A trick often starts with an everyday object and then surprises you with a vanish or a transformation. Finally, it ends with a crescendo or by returning everything to normal. A good story follows a very similar pattern. Thinking about that made me want to write a story about tricks that was itself a kind of trick. I really hope that others will enjoy the fun in that process. 

  1. What do the characters make possible in the plot that would have otherwise been impossible?

I loved writing about Flick and Charlie. When they first meet,Flick isn’t too keen on Charlie – they’re both very different. But the way they combine and learn to work together in this book is something I really enjoyed bringing to life. The personalities those characters have, how contrasting they are, how flawed they are, and yet how they help each other makes the book possible.

  1. How did you go about plotting this book and did you have any idea it would become a series? 

Right from the start, I planned this book as the first in a series, and I had the rough shape of what follows from the off. The plot of this book is only an opening skirmish.

  1. What do you think you learned when writing this book and will it help you with your next book?

I've learnt a lot. Working with my agent to send this book off to publishers and now working with my editor has been an invaluable experience. They’ve been brilliant at probing the story, getting me to check and cover the details and think through all the angles. Hopefully, I've put these lessons into practice while writing the second book in the series (just finishing this off now), and then it’s time to have another go with the third book, which I need to start writing any day now.

  1. You state you are not very good at nuclear physics or DIY (the same applies to me). What would you suggest that you are good at? 

Hmmmmm. Maybe not much! I think my one skill in life is to keep trying. Hopefully, the second book will be better than the first…

  1. Does your degree in archaeology help in any way with the next book in the series? Can you share any glimpses of information about it? 

Ha! There’s no archaeology in the second book. What can I tell you about it without giving too much away? The Great Fox Illusion ends with Flick and Charlie thrown into the world of magicians and illusionists, and they’ve made some enemies along the way. Let’s just say, in the second book that the sheer magnitude of what they’re up against becomes apparent – they’ve got the attention of some scary and ruthless people. They have stepped through a door into a new and dangerous world where they discover the true power of the Bell System.

  1. Can you share a magical moment that you have had in real life that might inspire us to write or read more books?

I think our imagination is such an important thing. I can’t think of any particular moment that crystalises that, but the process of creative writing and exercising our minds when reading is vital for us all. It makes us more rounded, more empathetic, and more outward-looking people.

  1. What one 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?

An important question about this book is who designed the stunning cover. Charlie would give you a very long answer to this (as all of his answers tend to go on a bit), but I’ll keep it short. Flavia Sorrentino. She did it, and it looks amazing. I’ve also seen some roughs for her cover for the next book and… Well, you’ll have to wait!

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Best Children's Book Picks UK - July 2022 - Picked by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher (Author), Davide Ortu (Illustrator) - The Double Trouble Society - Published by Puffin (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241558904 - Hardback - Age: 8+

What do you get if you mix together two best friends, a witch's curse and a haunted house? A spell-binding mystery from acclaimed performer and bestselling author Carrie Hope Fletcher - star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella.

They say children who are born on Friday 13th are immune to evil spirits. Whilst Ivy and Maggie liked to believe that was true, it didn't stop them checking for monsters under their bed each and every night.

Ivy and Maggie have been best friends ever since they were born at exactly the same minute twelve years earlier. They're always on the look-out for a new adventure but unfortunately Crowood Peak is officially the most boring town in the world. Or at least it was until children start to mysteriously disappear and, even stranger, none of the grown-ups seem to have noticed . . .

It's up to the Double Trouble Society to work out what's going on. All the evidence points to the old mansion next door with strange green lights in the windows and a new owner who looks suspiciously like a witch! 

Can Ivy and Maggie solve the mystery of Hokum House and rescue their friends or will they be next on the witch's list of victims?


P.J. Canning - 21% Monster - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474984416 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Fun, fast-paced, high-octane action-adventure, 21% Monster is a perfect page-turning new series for fans of Alex Rider, Percy Jackson and the MCU generation.
When Darren Devlin is arrested for destroying his school with his bare hands, it's not just the police who are after him. Enter Marek Masters, 14 years old, 19% alien, and the most intelligent, most wanted "almost human" alive. Marek is here to tell Darren the truth - he is 21% monster, and together they must take down the secret organisation that created them.

Darren and Marek are wanted, powerful and dangerous. And now it's payback time.


Helenka Stachera (Author), Marco Guadalupi (Illustrated) - Finn and the Memory Curse - Published by Puffin (21 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241491331 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

A chilling Victorian London adventure about one girl's mission to break a centuries-old curse with her long-lost family at its heart - perfect for fans of Cogheart and The Castle of Tangled Magic.

Fin is a foundling growing up in the Hackney marshes, living in a tiny attic and selling leeches for a living. When she accidentally discovers she is the long-lost child of a rich Polish family called the Kaminskis, she is swept up into a supernatural adventure where she has to use everything she has learned on the streets of London and deep in the marshes to stay alive.

For the Kaminskis are haunted by an ancient evil - and Fin is the key to stopping it forever . . .


David Solomons - Published by - 
Nosy Crow Ltd (7 July 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0857639936 - Paperback - Age: 7+ (Here is Our Interview)

A brilliantly funny story of what happens when a galactic princess moves in next door and almost brings about the end of the world. Exciting new fiction from the bestselling, award-winning author of My Brother is a Superhero.

Gavin's got a new neighbour and she's really annoying. Niki follows him everywhere, bosses him about, and doesn't care that her parents will obliterate Earth with their galactic warships if she doesn't stop running away from them. Can Niki and Gavin sort out the alien despots (aka Mum and Dad) and save the planet? Possibly. Will they become friends along the way? Doubtful...

'David Solomons represents the best in contemporary comic writing for children' -- Guardian

A hilarious new story from the author of My Brother Is a Superhero, winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children's Book of the Year. 


Thursday, 7 July 2022

Emma Finlayson-Palmer - Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #30

 

We are celebrating the publication of Dance Magic (Autumn Moonbeam) which is the debut book of Emma Finlayson-Palmer. It is due to be published on the 7th July 2022 by UCLan Publishing  (Preston University). The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon and is part of a series of stories following the main character Autumn Moonbean. Younger readers can follow her adventures and life experiences. In this interview, we find out more about the book and the author. It is a chance to celebrate together the publication with a sparkle, a dance, and a flourish of magic. We hope you enjoy it and thanks for visiting. 

 

  • Your first book is for 5-8-year-old readers, Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic and is due to be published in July 2022 (UCLan); what magical fantasy world have you created for the story?

Autumn lives in an area called Sparkledale in a country called Cauldronia, where creatures live and do similar things to me or you but with a magical twist. There are spell-a-visions and talking doorbells that will shout at you to answer the door, and a main character who dreams of one day joining a dance club, and going to the Aaarghlympics.

  • Autumn Moonbeam is the main character of the book; how do you think younger readers will be able to identify with the character?

    Whilst it's not mentioned as such in the book, Autumn is autistic, and I hope some of her neurodivergent traits will feel familiar to younger readers. And certainly the anxious fluttering moths in her tummy, shyness, and sometimes being a little clumsy will be relatable to many readers. She's a worrier, but she's also kind and loyal and is determined to follow her dreams.

  • As an adult writer, what process(es) do you undertake to write for this age group, and do you think you have got all of the aspects you wanted to include in the book right?

    I'm a mom to five children, worked as a childminder for over 13 years, been a helper in playgroups, and I'm also working as a lunchtime supervisor in a primary and have done for over seven years, so I've had a lot of experience around children who are the same age as Autumn and her friends. In truth, I never left that more playful stage myself, it was around the age of 8 or 9 that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I hope I've got all the aspects in that I wanted, and feel like I've created authentic characters (albeit witches and fairies and other magical beings), that children will be able to identify with or get excited by.

  • The book is illustrated by Heidi Cannon; what can you tell us about the illustrations and how do they contribute to the storyline? 

    Heidi has done such an amazing job at bringing Autumn's world to life. Despite being an artist myself, I couldn't have imagined all the intricate details that Heidi has created. The illustrations are so much fun, and often there are small details to spot in the background. Heidi's images bring the words alive.

  • What hurdles did you have to overcome to get your book published? Do you have any good tips for writers who are looking to get published?

    I have been writing for many years, and started off writing letters and short stories to magazines in the hope of getting into print. Once I discovered I especially loved children's fiction I tried writing for all different ages groups over the years and have discovered that I have a special love for the magic of chapter books. I would highly recommended reading as much as you can when you are a writer. It's one of the key things to being a good writer, I think. Read new releases, see what sort of stories are popular, and what trends there are, don't follow a trend, just learn from it. Most importantly, write something that excites you, because if that book gets an agent or publisher's interest you're going to be working on edits and talking about the same story a lot, and also your passion will shine through in your writing.

  • You have a big passion for reading children's books; which book has recently caught your attention?

    I read a lot so it's hard to pin down just the one but I've recently read Three Girls by Katie Clapham, such a heart warming tale of friendship and a passion for running. I've also recently read the second Rainbow Grey book, Laura Ellen Anderson's books are an absolute joy to read and to see her stunning illustrations.

  • What are your favourite blogs or websites for writers? 

    Write Mentor has been a wonderful and supportive community to be part of and I can highly recommend getting involved. The same with Write MAGIC too, such wonderful supportive writers with fun groups to take part in sprints and other writing activities. 

  • Is there a dream you have yet to follow and could it make it into any future books?

    Ooh this is both a hard but really interesting question. One dream I've always had is to see the aurora borealis, that could definitely feature in a future story. I've also got my more unrealistic dream of being able to turn into a bird and fly, so that will definitely have to be lives through my writing!

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

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

 

Varsha Bajaj - Thirst - Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (July 19, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593354391 - Hardback - Age: 9+ 

The riveting story of a heroic girl who fights for her belief that water should be for everyone.
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet 
and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?

Darcy Marks - Grounded for All Eternity - Published by Aladdin (July 26, 2022) ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534483361 - Hardback - Age: 7+

A group of kids from hell come to Earth on one of the craziest nights of the year—Halloween—in this snarky, witty middle-grade adventure about teamwork, friendship, shattering expectations, and understanding the world (or otherworld) around us.

Mal and his friends are just your regular average kids from hell. The suburbs that is, not the fiery pit part. But when Hell’s Bells ring out—signaling that a soul has escaped from one of the eternal circles, Mal and his friends can’t help but take the opportunity for a little adventure. 

Before they know it, they’ve somehow slipped through the veil and found themselves in the middle of Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. And what’s even worse, they’ve managed to bring the escaped soul with them! As the essence of one of history’s greatest manipulators gains power by shifting the balance on Earth, Mal and his squad-mates—along with some new friends that they meet along the way—work desperately to trap the escapee, save the people of Earth from the forces of evil, and find the portal back to their own dimension. 

If they can’t manage it before their parents realize they’re gone, they’ll be grounded for eternity. And eternity in hell is a very, very long time.

Anthony Bartley (Author), Ian Bristow (Illustrator) - Freakshow Summer - Published by Kinkajou Press (July 12, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1951122362 - Paperback - Age: 9+ 

In 1930s America a young teen struggles to find his calling among his carnival family of human curiosities while outsiders try to destroy everything he loves. 

Among the freaks and misfits of Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival, thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra longs to find his place. Orphaned as a baby he’s been raised by the bearded woman, the alligator man, and the Leprechaun Family. Manny is a skilled artist, but he lives in the shadow of his deceased father’s own talent. A new summer of promise is soon spoiled by the arrival of Ron the bully and the Oldies – the Order of the Lions’ Den – hellbent on wiping out all carnivals. Manny realizes that what he finds lovely and ordinary is considered grotesque and abominable to the outside world. With the help of his friends Nickel, Margot, and Penny, Manny begins to traverse the tricky road of life, finding his footing in a world of human curiosities, both the beautiful and the ugly.


Stuart Wilson - How to Make a Monster (Prometheus High) - Published by - 
Puffin (AU) (July 29, 2022) ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761042256 - Paperback - Age: 11+  

A hugely inventive, action-packed, fun and quirky – and occasionally dark – adventure for fans of Skulduggery PleasantNevermoor or Frankenstein. A rusting ocean liner. Thirty students learning to resurrect the dead. A murderous monster on the loose . . . Just a typical day at Prometheus High. Athena Strange's first semester at Prometheus High starts with a bang. But when her lessons in reanimation, robotics and skulkers move too slowly and she has trouble making friends, Athena decides to take matters into her own hands. On a ship where science and magic collide, and the monster under your bed is probably very real . . . will Athena be able to hold her head above water?

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.