BLOG TOUR: The Fork, The Witch and the Worm

HELLO. It’s me! On a Saturday… I know. You guys are spoiled by me.

Today, as part of a brilliant blog tour, I’m sharing an exclusive extract of the new book, The Fork, The Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini.

the fork the witch and the worm cover

“Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.”

Rather excitingly, I have not only an extract from the first chapter to share with you all, but in the next few days my review will also go live! Trust me… for fans of Eragon, this book is INCREDIBLE!

Chapter I

Mount Arngor

The day had not gone well.

Eragon leaned back in his chair and took a long drink of blackberry mead from the mug by his hand. Sweet warmth blossomed in his throat, and with it memories of summer afternoons spent picking berries in Palancar Valley. A pang of homesickness struck him.

The mead had been the best thing to come out of his meeting with Hruthmund, the dwarven representative. A gift to strengthen the bonds of friendly association between dwarves and Riders— or so Hruthmund had claimed.

Eragon snorted. Some friendship. He’d spent the whole meeting arguing with Hruthmund over when the dwarves would deliver the supplies they’d promised. Hruthmund seemed to believe once every three to four months was more

than sufficient, which was absurd considering the dwarves lived closer to the Academy than any of the other races. Even Nasuada had managed to send monthly shipments from the other side of the Hadarac Desert, far to the west.

I’ll have to arrange a talk with Orik and sort it out with him directly.

Just one more thing to do amid a seemingly endless sea of tasks. Eragon eyed the mounds of scrolls, books, maps, and loose pieces of parchment that covered the desk in front of him, all of which required his attention. He sighed, finding the sight depressing.

He shifted his gaze out the large, rough- hewn windows that fronted the eyrie. Rays of evening light streamed across the windswept plains that lay below, surrounding Mount Arngor. To the north and west, the Edda River gleamed like a ribbon of

beaten silver draped across the landscape. A pair of ships lay docked along the nearest bend, and from that docking, a trail led south to the foothills piled about the base of Arngor.

The mountain had been Eragon’s choice— in consultation with Saphira and their traveling companions— for the Dragon Riders’ new home. It was more than that too: a safeguard for the Eldunarí and, hopefully, a nesting ground for the next generation of dragons.

The high, slab- sided peak was a trailing remnant of the Beor Mountains, shorter than those towering giants but still many times bigger than the mountains of the Spine Eragon had grown up with. It stood alone in the green expanse of the eastern reaches, two weeks of slow sailing beyond the bounds of Alagaësia proper.

South of Arngor the land was rumpled like a blanket and ruffled with trees whose leaves shone silver in the wind, bright as the scales of a fish. Farther to the east stood scarps and cliffs and huge, flat- topped pillars of stone crested with piles of vegetation. Among them lived groups of wandering tribes: strange, half- wild humans the likes of which Eragon had never encountered before. So far they had proven no trouble, but he remained wary.

Such was his responsibility now.

The mountain bore many names. Arngor was Dwarvish for White Mountain, and indeed, the upper thirds were clad in snow and ice and— from

a distance— the peak glowed with a startling brilliance amid the verdant plains. But it also had an older, secret name in Dwarvish. For as the expedition Eragon led had begun to settle among the foothills of the mountain, they had discovered tunnels burrowed into the stone beneath, and there in runes inscribed Gor Narrveln, which meant Mountain of Gems. Some ancient clan or tribe of dwarves had sunk mines deep into the roots of the peak.

The dwarves who had joined Eragon’s group had been excited by the discovery, and they spent much time debating who had made the mines and what gems might still be found.

In the ancient language, the mountain was known as Fell Thindarë, which meant Mountain of Night. The elves could not tell Eragon where the name came from— nor the reason for it— so he rarely used it. But he also heard them refer to the peak as Vaeta, or Hope. He found this fitting, as the Dragon Riders were a hope for all the races of Alagaësia.

If that’s not enough to make you want to read on, you should definitely check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! There’s some brilliant posts! 

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Massive thank you to Ed PR for asking me to be on this blog tour! It’s always such fun to be on blog tours (especially surprise posts on a Saturday!)

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Amber Lee Dodd

Lightning Chase Me Home: Middle grade with a whole lot of punch!

Lightning Chase Me Home by Amber  Lee Dodd

“Amelia Hester McLeod is named after two of her mum’s favourite explorers. Two amazing, fearless, awesome women: Amelia Earhart and Lady Hester Stanhope. But Amelia herself doesn’t always feel very brave or very bright. She lives on a windblown island in a creaky old house right beneath the North Star. Her dad is sad and silent since her mum left them, and her absent-minded grandpa suddenly seems convinced something strange is about to happen to her. When Amelia makes a birthday wish to be reunited with her missing mum, a wild magic is stirred from the sea..”

Lightning Chase Me Home is the story of Amelia. Amelia is a young girl who lives and with her father, grandfather and their dog. They live in the cold and wet island of Dark Muir, Scotland. The island has a rich and deep history of myths and legends (which, as we all know, I was ALL ABOUT) and there is the forever foreboding sense of a storm brewing on the horizon. I loved the use of this constant threat of storm coming… it kept me on my toes throughout the book! 

As the story advances, unusual things start happening around Amelia. These unusual things happen to coincide with Amelia’s birthday and the wish she got to make as part of the island tradition. Who wouldn’t want to visit somewhere called Serpent’s Tooth Rock?! (I mean me, that sounds ominous as anything and I’m a right scaredy cat). Amelia’s wish made really emotional and over time it becomes apparent that the wish she made has stirred some deep and potentially dangerous magic on the island. 

This book will keep you gripped throughout. You’ll be under the spell of the incredible writing style and the infusion of incredible settings and characters with folklore. Amelia is a really great protagonist that I know lots of children will take to. The unusual events and the rumbling of storms and the growing of the magic over the story kept me flicking the pages til there were no more pages to flick. I think every kid will see themselves in this story because we’ve all dealth with some of the things Amelia has to deal with: a poorly grandparent, bullies, a new school, struggles in school. Pair all of these things with ultimately a BRILLIANT magical mystery and you have a total winner! 

Here we have another bloody brilliant example of an MG book that deals with some pretty tough stuff but in a beautiful way. It’s a book full of spirit, adventure and warmth and absolutely has a place in EVERY classroom, school and home library!

Have you read Lightning Chase Me Home?
Would you like to visit Amelia’s island?

A massive thank you to Scholastic for asking me to be on this blog tour! I can’t wait to see all the love this book is going to get! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Vote for Effie

Hello!

Today I have the absolute joy being on the blog tour for Vote for Effie – the first in a new hilarious series by Laura Wood (author of 2018 YA sensation A Sky Painted Gold) for 9-12 year olds. Inspired by 2017’s Women’s MarchVOTE FOR EFFIE is extremely timely and the perfect antidote to the current political climate; it will inspire young readers to stand up for the issues that matter to them, whatever that may be!

I’m honoured to be on this blog tour as each stop on the tour is written to celebrate a young female activist and/or inspiring girl who is working to change the world; each post will include a short profile on the person written by Laura.

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Mari Copeny

When she was only eight, Mari Copeny wrote a moving letter to President Obama about the Flint water crisis. Not only did Obama reply, but he came to Flint to meet with the people there, and he eventually signed off on $100 million funding to help repair the city’s poisoned water system. Mari is known as ‘Little Miss Flint’ as she continues to fight for her city, and raise money to tackle the problems they are still facing. Now, aged eleven, she is a fierce advocate for change and she uses social media to share her message. 

Mari has said that she’ll be running for president in 2044, but, until then, she wants other kids to know “you’re never to young or to small to change the world.” I think Mari is an enormous inspiration. She hasn’t let being young stop her from being heard. When people weren’t listening, she didn’t give up… she made more noise. I love her confidence, her intelligence and the sense of empathy that drives all of her efforts. I see these qualities so often in the children I meet while visiting schools and it makes me feel so hopeful. These girls really are the leaders of tomorrow.

If you would like to see why Mari is so amazing, and why I think she and Effie would be best friends, you might like to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML2dRP9i3FQ

Yes for women and girls who are doing good things! 

Do you have an inspiring woman who you’d like to shout about?

You should definitely go and check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour. There have been some absolutely incredible women highlighted in the posts and it’s certainly been inspiring! Plus, there’s some pretty incredible bloggers on this tour too! Massive thanks to Harriet at Scholastic for inviting me to be on this incredible blog tour! I hope you all enjoyed the post and go and check out Vote for Effie – out now! 

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Speak soon, 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Slay On Tour

Today’s post is coming to you from the boyband tour bus in Japan as part of the Slay blog tour. If you don’t know the world of Slay yet, then you are 100% missing out. Check out my review of the first book in this series here!

Slay on Tour: slaying in all the VERY BEST ways!

“SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…”

Slay on Tour sees the boys of Slay (a demon fighting boy band, obviously) fighting demons in Japan! Having read the first book and LOVING IT, I needed this second book in my life so much. This series is SUCH fun and it’s so incredible to read a book with such personality. The characters, the settings, the friendship and the family explored in these books makes me so happy. 29 year old me loves these books and I know that 15 year old me would have too: boybands and demon fighting… what more do we need?

Slay on Tour sees the boys in Japan, having been given the opportunity to tour alongside a new and incredibly revolutionary Japanese band. I always knew there was something up with the band and their people – a band of holographic girls who are “perfect”. Yeah, cause that’s normal… but I loved it. There was a bit of the feminist in me going “WE DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT TO DESERVE TO BE IN A BAND”. 

Obviously, in the midst of all of this touring, the boys are still fighting demons. The demon slayers (I bloody love how descriptive the word slayers is!) have to fight some pretty dark and deceptive demons in this second installment. A demon who steals souls? Yeah. No thanks actually! There’s even the reappearance of an old “friend”. 

A massive shout out to the folklore in this book too. I loved the little nuggets of Japanese folklore information thrown in. (You all know I’m a PROPER sucker for a bit of a mythological story, so this made my heart sing!) Learning about other cultures and the stories from them is just mint – so to see this thrown into the book was another massive tick!

You get the fun of the demon fighting as well as those brilliant characters who we met and loved in book 1. The boys are just lush. I like each of them for very different reasons. I’d love them to be a real band, so I could join them (I don’t know that I’d be a great demon fighter like!) Not only that, but there is a lovely exploration of something which happens in book 1. This something (I don’t wanna share too much cause spoilers!) happens to have a massive impact on the dynamic of the band, with ever trusty Milly having to come to the rescue. I really love Milly. She’s sassy, brave and bold: she has to be. She’s thrust into this life of being in one of the biggest boybands in the world. And because she’s a badass, she takes it ALL in her stride. 

I loved this book. I may have even loved it more than book 1! I know, I know. I have my fingers crossed that there MAY be a third book. PLEASE. 

I even have an incredible exclusive quote from the brilliant Kim herself on why boy bands, fandoms and blurred lines! It sums up the Slay books so brilliantly!

“When I was growing up in the 90s, I had properly drunk the patriarchal kool aid. Without knowing why exactly, I put all things ‘girlie’ into a mental box labelled shameful. It’s internalised the misogyny that placed things that boys love above stuff that girls love. And, to my great sadness, that included boy bands. I was into Star Wars and The Teenage Ninja Turtles, X-Men comic books and Grunge rock music – all the geeky-cool stuff that defined a lot of ‘boy culture’. But, as I got older and began to examine my choices, I discovered there was a world of amazing ‘girl culture’ I’d been missing out on. As an adult, I loved it all. Twilight, Sailor Moon, High School Musical. And yes, One Direction! Now, I’m on a mission to see that all the things that teen girls love are given the same respect and the same value as the stuff boys love. And that when it comes to entertainment, gender should play no part in it. When writing Slay and Slay on Tour I consciously blurred all the lines between ‘girl’ stuff and ‘boy’ stuff to create something that’s just fun – which transcended gender.”

So please! Go out and buy these books if you’re looking for something EXCELLENT, FUN and PROPER GREAT. 

Have you read Slay?
Would you make it as a demon fighter?
Do you think I’d make it as a demon slayer?

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour… it was a proper honour to kick it off! Thanks so much to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me to kick off the tour! 

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Let’s get talking about #SlayonTour on twitter! These books deserve so much love! 

S x 

 

CHCC YA Bookish Joy Blog Fest!

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Hey everyone! 

Today I have the abolsute joy of kicking off the CHCC YA Bookish Joy Blog Fest: a blog tour which will see some of my favourite bloggers celebrating everything they love about books. When I was initially asked to be on this blog tour, it was pitched to me as “write a letter to someone who made you the bookish you you are” and I was SOLD. I’ve toyed between writing to my favourite author (I give you 3 guesses as to who I would write to), my favourite main character (again, I bet you could guess… or maybe not!), my parents, the kids I teach (this would’ve made me cry, a lot!) and so many other options. I’ve decided however to write a letter to books. It sounds a bit weird, but I hope my letter will explain what I mean!

Dear books,

Yep, those things you pick up, open and read the words. That’s what I’m writing a letter to. Books are magical. Have you ever picked one up and been transported somewhere new? In the space of the past few weeks, I’ve been living with Greek Gods, lived in a lighthouse during WW2, lived in magical London where Big Ben is the keeper of time and I’ve even lived a story through the eyes of an African Grey parrot. Where else can you be transported to these places but in books? Where else can you learn about empathy and living life through someone else’s eyes other that in books? 

Books are not only a unique mode of transportation, but they can be transformational. They have the power to cheer up, sadden, inspire, motivate, anger. You will read a book in your life that changes your life. That will connect you to yourself and to others. I’m very lucky that I’ve had so many books and people in my life that have made me a better person. I can’t imagine my life without the bookish love in it. My friends, some of my very best friends, have come my way because of books.

I read Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive at a pretty down part in my life and it had such a profound impact on me. That might be cliched, but it’s true – it’s one of those special books. 

Books are such a massive part of my life: as a teacher, as a human, as a blogger. I just think there’s something very special and magical about them. I believe there’s the perfect book out there for everyone. I’ve seen kids’ attitudes to reading change entirely once they read “that” book. 

As Roald Dahl put it in Matilda (yep, of course I’m quoting Matilda… sue me!)
“These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” 

So books, thank you. For making me who I am. For giving me the people in my life that I am so eternally grateful for. For making me laugh, cry and be moved. 

S x 

If you’d like to go along to the CHCC YA Festival, you can get tickets from here. There are some amazing authors lined up this year and it promises to be a brilliant day! Even more excitingly, there’s a 10% code for you, my loyal readers! Go get your tickets and enter YAFEST10 – valid until 28th Feb for a one time use! Go forth and purchase!

Go check out the rest of the blog tour in the coming days! You’re in for a real treat. 

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Rosie Loves Jack

Happy Wednesday!

Today I’m here as part of the blog tour for the brilliant Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

They can’t send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie.

Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they’re separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. 
Even run away from home.
Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie could never survive on her own. 
See the world through new eyes in this one-in-a-million story.

This is a blog tour like no other… today, in the spirit of the book, I’m going to share with you some people that I’d quite happily write to every day and why I think it’s important that we don’t let the art of letter writing die!

Dear everyone I love,

I think letter writing is a brilliant thing, that unfortunately is getting lost. It’s getting lost in our need for immediacy. I get it. I know that letter writing isn’t a thing that is necessary in the world of emails, text messages and WhatsApps – we get the answers we need today much faster. However, as much as it might not be necessary, it is JOYOUS. Tell me there’s something more exciting than receiving a letter in the post. Tell me there’s something more lovely than knowing someone’s taken some time to write you a letter.

I love receiving a letter. It makes me so happy. I’m not talking about bills and pension statements: I’m talking about letters from friends. Even the people I know the best in the world. I love receiving letters from them. One of my best friends and I go through phases where we write letters to each other and it makes me so happy. The sending and receiving of letters. I sent all of my children a postcard in the Summer holidays and the joy it brought them, and their parents, was such a testament to the power of letters for me.

Now I know I can’t write letters to everyone I know, every day of my life. If there was one person I had to write to every day, I would choose my brother or my best friend Kelly. Both of these people have a MASSIVE impact in my everyday life. Neither of them live particularly close to me – Kiruna (Sweden) and Cardiff… both FAR AWAY.

However, I’ll write to anyone who is willing to write back. There’s something very personal and therapeutic about writing a letter. I love that Rosie Loves Jack explores letters.

So hello, yes, you reading this – write someone a letter. If you don’t think you have anyone who would like to receive a letter, then send it to me. I’ll happily respond. It’s a lovely thing to do!

You’re all brilliant,

S x

Massive thank you to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me on the blog tour! It was a lot of fun getting to ramble on about writing letters and my love of it!

BLOG TOUR: Daddy Hairdo

Hello! Today I have the pleasure of hosting Francis Martin (of Daddy Hairdo fame!) on my blog as part of the Daddy Hairdo blog tour, talking all about the inspiration behind the gorgeous picture book Daddy Hairdo!

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Daddy Hairdo is a bit of family history that mutated into a picture book.   As a young father I had had to take on the role of coiffeur to my infant daughter whenever I took her to nursery.  For years I thought I had acquitted myself admirably and that the plaits, buns, ponytails and top knots I created were a match for any of the other parents’ hairdressing skills. It was only years later that my grown up daughter revealed to me that  the nursery nurses at the playschool were laughing at my  efforts and would immediately take them apart and do something a little more conventional.  My creations were called “daddy hairdos”.

Even more years later I am a mature student at Cambridge School of Art working for my MA in Children’s Book Illustration, desperate for a story. I have always thought that a good title is half the battle when creating a picture book. I recalled the daddy hairdos. I knew it would make a great starting point for a story. A dad who creates fantastical hairstyles for a daughter who won’t get her hair cut. I went into a writing and drawing frenzy. I explored ideas, researched hair styles and threw my own male pattern baldness into the mix. 

Initially I created the images but realised that the text would benefit from another artist. My own artwork wasn’t wasted. It worked as a guide for the text.  It always seems pointless if the text and the images just echo what the other says.  I try to get text and image to feed off each other create surprises, alternate narrative duties, tell jokes.  Being aware that there is a power in images, I can be confident enough to hold back on the writing and let the visuals do their job. I think that the Daddy Hairdo text works because I developed it with a visual context. Claire Powell’s pictures then lifted it even further.

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You should go check out the rest of the blog tour and get your hands on a copy of this gorgeous picture book if you get the chance! It’s out now! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Maybe The Moon

Hello, happy Monday everyone!

Today I have the absolute joy of being part of a blog tour. When I was originally approached about this blog tour, one of the things that interested me most was that I was given 2 questions to use as inspiration for my post – rather than just posting a review, should I not wish to. I love that! I could choose between:

  • Tell us about a friend you treasure
  • Tell us about a significant journey in your life

And I’m going to try and incorporate both into my post.

I’m going with a career journey rather than a physical journey (I’m quite boring, I’ve not taken many physically interesting journeys in my life yet!) As you all know, my journey to becoming a teacher has been a long (and arduous at times) one. It’s taken quite a long time to finally get here. But get here I did. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of a LOT of people – my colleagues, my family, my friends, the online community – and I am ever so thankful.

I have 3 very special friends that I think have been imperative to this journey being as successful as it has been. I’m very lucky to have so many supportive people in my life that I could be here for hours.

We all need best friends. I have 3 people in my life I would consider my best friends. They’ll love me even when I’m being a troll. They’ll laugh at me, with me, for me. They’ll hug me. They’d be prepared to give me a reality check if I needed it. They’ve listened to me cry. They’ve been here for me throughout this rollercoaster of a life that I’ve been through. 

It’s amazing how quickly people can become important to you. I never imagined that I would make a best friend who would be willing to travel the length of a country to see me host an event. Someone who makes me laugh. Someone who inspires me every single day. Kelly, I think you’re an absolute shining star in this life. 

The people you work with can very quickly become some of the people you see the most in your life. I definitely see some of the people I work with more through the week than I do my own family (and I live in the same house as them!) I’ve been super lucky to work alongside someone who makes me laugh, gives me hugs, supports me even when her workload is ridiculous. Gemma, I definitely wouldn’t be here if you weren’t there for me everyday at work.

I think family are the first friends you make. I was brought up around my family. We have an amazing bond. Is it always perfect? No because that’s family. I am surrounded by family members who support and love me no matter what. I’m lucky to have someone who will invite me out, who believes in me enough to trust me to be her daughters’ godmother. Someone who will ALWAYS be here to give me wise words of wisdom. Someone who pushes me to be the best me I can be. Kate, you’re one of the best people in my life and I love you forever.

Maybe The Moon is a GORGEOUS picture book, beautifully illustrated to tell a tale of how friendship, community and beauty can come in many different forms. I absolutely love it! The illustrations are gorgeous and it has such an incredible message – it is definitely one I will be using in the classroom. It’s released in a few days (20th September) so not too much longer to wait!

Blog Tour

BLOG TOUR: The Hurting

Today I have the absolute joy of hosting Lucy van Smit, author of The Hurting on my blog. I was originally asked to be part of the blog tour with a review, but then I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A and I was thrilled. I really enjoyed The Hurting… it’s a LOT. My review is coming in the next week or so, so I won’t spoil it too much! 

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Check out my Q&A with Lucy and go out and buy the book (it’s out now!)… it’s a gripping read!

1) Where did the inspiration for The Hurting come from?
The Hurting started with the abduction of the baby originally as an exercise on my Creative Writing MA to show a character through her actions. I love literary Nordic Noir thrillers, but I don’t like violence, and stealing a baby as I’d lost a child myself, was the worst thing I could imagine. A writing friend scoffed, and told me I’d never get the story published, and that made me stubborn and I found a way into the story that was uplifting – a girl finding redemption after being led astray. I dug deep into myself and explored my Catholic childhood, and Nell calls on almost supernatural mystical powers to try and rescue Ulv Pup. Like Nell, I didn’t believed in romantic love as a girl, but fell in love at first sight with my husband. I really wanted to explore that immense emotion, and wonder what it would it take to fight such an infatuation. It’s a challenging story, and I’m lucky I have wonderful publishers. I was nervous in case adults misread the story, but I just got this terrific feedback from a school librarian

“Dear Lucy,  It’s brilliant! Really, really good – and I’m not just saying that.  I finished it last night and was genuinely sad it had come to an end.  It’s very powerful and so vivid;  some authors are good at characterisation, some at setting…you seem to excel at both.  I’m seriously impressed. I’m thrilled actually, as for me the very best YA books (and the ones that I encourage our Year 8s to read) are those which are well-written, powerful reads on often quite dark subjects but which don’t resort to gratuitous sex or violence.  Personally, I think you’ve nailed it.”

2) Did you always know that Lukas would be as sinister a character as he became?

Hm, Lukas sinister? I don’t see Lukas that way. I perceived Lukas as a very beautiful, damaged, wild, passionate boy raised by wolves, who had vowed to save his wolf pack on the Norwegian fjords. Lukas never intended to fall in love with Nell. She was his prey, but he is hugely romantic. A poetic Lorca character with a dark brooding soul, obsessed with death. Technically, it was extremely tricky to write a thriller in the first person, present tense, so I added a few Lukas scenes in his point of view, to rack up the tension and suspense and explain Lukas’s actions are driven by love to save his family.

3) What did you want a reader to take away from this story?

It’s a Sleeping Beauty fable; at the beginning of the novel, Nell says, ‘I’ve thrown away my life like toilet paper, and never noticed.’ She is woken by a kiss, but finds herself through her connection with the baby Ulv Pup who represents Nell’s innocence and pulls Nell back to her true self. I wanted a reader to notice themselves more, their own lives more and how much is wonderful in ourselves and our immediate families. 

4) Your setting is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, did you visit any exotic locations for the story?

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Wow!  Thank you so much. I am a painter and used to work in TV. I guess I am a visual writer.  I took my family on a trip to Norway and we visited the Norwegian Fjords, the famous Flam Railway and Bergen and Oslo, and the Pulpit Stone in Stavanger down south, which I ‘moved’ in my story and called Sermon Rock.  I chose Norway because I needed wolves because of Nell’s fear of dogs, but I fell in love with the fjords. It is the most beautiful county. On the trip, we stayed with farmers who had a local wolf problem, where a lone wolf was behaving out of character and killing dogs in the woods and attacking goats in front of people. Norwegians kill a lot of wolves and an alpha left isolated without a pack becomes unpredictable and aggressive. I picked up loads of lore about Norway along the way.

5. There’s a lot of twists and turns in the book, are you a plotter or do you let your plot take you by surprise when you write?

Definitely a plotter when it comes to a thriller. I use a lot of TV tricks, sets up and pay offs. I’d see an image or a clue earlier on, so when the twist comes it feels more plausible. For the more lyrical sections, where Nell tunes into her singing and her response to the landscape and her feelings for the baby, that often sprang out and surprised me.

A massive thank you to Lucy for taking the time to answer my questions! It’s always fascinating learning all about books from the author themselves!

Check out the rest of the people on the blog tour… there’s some cracking posts!

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S x

BLOG TOUR: Storm Witch

Hello!

Today I’m on the blog tour for a brilliant new MG book soon to be released into the world (tomorrow in fact!) – Storm Witch, by Ellen Renner. 

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Storm Witch by Ellen Renner is published on 6th September by Nosy Crow in paperback priced £6.99

“Child of Air, Water, Earth or Fire: now that she is thirteen Storm must undertake The Choosing and be claimed by one of the Elementals, which will determine her whole life’s work. But for Storm, daughter of a father murdered by Water and a warrior mother claimed by Earth, there will be no easy destiny.

The Elementals bestow her with a great and terrible gift. Storm-bringer. Storm-rider. Storm-queller. Storm has powers that no one, not even the island Elders, can understand. And when the Drowned Ones – a savage band of pirates who roam the seas on floating towns – attack her island, will her powers help her to save the people she loves, or is her fate to betray everything she holds dear? Soon Storm faces a decision that will change her life – and that of everyone who lives on her island – forever.”

When I first read the press release for this book I was INSTANTLY TAKEN by “Storm must undertake The Choosing” – THE CHOOSING? MAN. YES. SIGN ME UP. I was very intrigued to know more about this choosing ceremony and what it entailed! (It also got me thinking which elemental I would be… I still am undecided. I think I need some kind of quiz to take to decide this!) What I got was a story that is brillaintly written, with a main character that is stubborn, but loveable. 

Storm Witch tells the story of Storm (our main characterm, the stubborn but loveable one) who is about to turn 13 and is therefore about to go through “The Choosing” – a ceremony in which the children of the island are chosen by one of the 4 elementals. Storm’s choosing isn’t quite as straightforward as those around her… she goes through quite a lot of turmoil, and a few dangerous situations. 

As I was reading this, it came clear that there was an incredible message of the importance of kindness and standing up for what’s right. Storm does something that she knows no-one on her island would do, but she knows that it’s the kindest and right thing to do, so she does it. It means she has to lie, but she’s doing it for good reasons. 

There’s also an incredible sense of community in this book. The depiction of island life was a lush thing to read. Everyone chipping in and doing their bit on the island – it reminded me a little of Moana (which in my books is NOT a bad thing!)

I can’t wait for the next book in this series… despite the fact that book 1 isn’t actually published until tomorrow! Go get your hands on this if you can, I would definitely recommend – there’s magic, danger, community and kindness!

Why don’t you go check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour? Let me know in the comments which element you think you are… and which element you think I would be chosen by!

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