Friday, 19 January 2018

Q&A With Non Pratt and Second Best Friend Giveaway!

Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend? I'm so excited to be welcoming one of my favourite UKYA authors Non Pratt onto the blog! Today we're chatting about her brand new book Second Best Friend, writing advice, and dealing with insecurity. I'm also giving one of you lucky lot the chance to win a copy of Second Best Friend over on Twitter!


Q1.) Hi Non, welcome to the blog! I absolutely loved Second Best Friend, what sparked the idea behind it? 
Friendship is a constant theme in all my books, but I’d not yet explored the concept of rivalry and the insecurity that can arise from admiring your best friend so much that you make the mistake of thinking they’re better than you. I thought it was time to write about it!

Q2.) What advice would you give to anyone who, like Jade, feels like a second best friend?
We all feel like that sometimes – don’t we? BUT if all of us feel this way, then your best friend is sitting there wishing she could be just as brilliant as you. It’s all relative! Which means that whole concept of ‘best’ is completely ridiculous in this context. Don’t strive to be the best of all people, just strive the best of yourself – it’s the only thing you can be. (And go easy on yourself if you make mistakes. That’s part of being human too.)

Q3.) What Hogwarts houses would Jade and Becky be in? 
Jade is ambitious and in this story we see a little more of her manipulative side. She’s so set on winning that she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get there, which is a very Slytherin trait - having said that, she’s also a little rash, so there’s a splash of Gryffindor in there too. Becky’s a Ravenclaw through and through. She enjoys studying and knowledge and she works hard to achieve those ends.

Q4.) Barrington Stoke is a publisher that makes reading more accessible to young people, do you have any tips on how to get a non-reader reading?
The first thing I’d do is to try not to focus on the idea of someone being a ‘non-reader’. You don’t have to think of yourself as a reader to actually be one – maybe you read loads on online or in magazines or a computer game. We consume words outside of books too. If you want to entice someone towards books, find out what they like. If they’re into sports then an interesting autobiography or fact book might be more up their street. Cartoons? Try a graphic novel. Film and TV? Try a script. The most important thing to do isn’t to give them something you love, but something they will love. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen recommending Harry Potter for dyslexic readers – those books are densely typeset and have tons of unfamiliar words (spells aren’t part of our Muggle vernacular), just because you gobbled them up doesn’t automatically make them a safe bet for others.

Q5.) This is your second short story for Barrington Stoke, is writing a short story harder or easier than writing a full-length novel? 
Both. It’s easier in that I’m more focused and don’t end up writing 3 x more words than necessary, but because I’m not allowed to fart around in infinite different ways, I also get a bit bored, which can be hard to overcome!

Q6.) Do you have any advice for aspiring YA writers? 
My advice is to listen only to the advice that works for you. If you write like me then I advise you don’t worry too much about mapping out every chapter before you draft, rather that you have a good idea of where to start and where to end. You can prep all the Post-its you want, but you’ll only get to know your characters through writing about them. For YA specifically, it’s more important to develop a distinctive voice than a distinctive plot. You can write almost any storyline a million different ways, so give your reader a reason to listen to how you do it.

Q7.) What’s been your best author moment so far? 
I thought it would be the writing, or maybe finding my books in the shop, but it isn’t. On my desk there’s a letter from a librarian – not addressed to me, but to my publisher, thanking them for setting up a visit to her school. In it, she speaks of challenging students who enjoyed the talk, a new reader who was brave enough to ask a question and how Trouble is the longest book some of them have ever read to the end. Nothing has ever been better than that letter.

Q8.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for stories similar to your own? 
Maybe try Holly Bourne, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, or Lisa Williamson – I wouldn’t say our stories are similar, but I think if you like anything I’ve written, you’d like their writing too! In terms of friendship books, I love Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and I’m really looking forward to Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard.

Q9.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? 
The project that will have my attention this month is Floored – this is a collaborative novel that I’m working on with Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Mel Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Ellie Wood. I adore their work and it’s been brilliant drafting together and we’re just tightening everything up in the edit. The book takes six teens who’ve never met until the first chapter, when they witness an event that brings them back together, one way or another, on the same day for the next few years of their life.

Q10.) And lastly, what three words best describe Second Best Friend? 
Dangerous insecurity spiral.

Don't miss your chance to win Second Best Friend over on Twitter!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Review for Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu 
Publisher: Penguin
Release: 14th September 2017
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis: 
"For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn't just a game - it's a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships - only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she's going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when she gets a call from the game's creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year's tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. Emika's whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she's only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire."

Review 
After the death of her father, Emika Chen uses her skills as a hacker to work as a bounty hunter for the police tracking down criminals who illegally bet on Warcross, a gaming phenomenon where a virtual world exists next to our own. Struggling to pay off her father’s own gambling debt and faced with an eviction notice, Emika risks everything to hack into the Warcross championship games only to accidentally glitch herself into the game in the process, becoming infamous overnight.

Impressed by her abilities, the games creator enigmatic Hideo Tanaka flies Emika out to Tokyo and employs her to go undercover in the game to track down an anonymous player who has been messing with the games coding.

As Emika delves deeper into the world of Warcross and grows close to its creator, she uncovers dark secrets that could change the world as they know it.

Warcross is a total thrill ride of a read! Gaming is not an area that I’m hugely familiar with, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this book, but Marie’s writing totally sweeps you up in this world bringing Warcross to life in a way that is more fun than intimidating to people less familiar with tech. Something that I found so interesting was that a lot of the technology used in this book is currently being developed. I loved exploring futuristic Tokyo and found it fascinating to think that what I was reading could very possibly be in our near future.

Em was a heroine who I immediately connected with, she’s a teenage girl who has been handed a crappy hand of cards in life but instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself she is very proactive and uses her skills to better her future. She’s resourceful and determined and I found myself rooting for her from start to finish.

There is a side of slow burn romance which I really enjoyed especially as it added to the plot without overshadowing it completely. Hideo is in many ways Em’s mirror image. He’s been through his own heartbreak as a child and has a dark past but as an adult he puts all that energy into his talents and trying to make the world a better place. Emika and Hideo felt like a natural fit and I loved watching the mutual admiration and respect they have for each other develop into something more.

The ending is one that I half guessed, but the part that I didn’t guess literally made my jaw drop and had me muttering “No, no, nope” to myself. This ending perfectly sets up the next book with Marie Lu taking this series in a very interesting direction that has left me with so much to think about. I love when a book totally puts you in a character’s shoes and makes you question what you would do if you were them and that’s exactly the position I’m still in days after finishing Warcross.

Overall Warcross is a fresh and exciting read that looks at virtual worlds, technology and where we could be headed in the future, for better or worse.

Friday, 5 January 2018

My Most Anticipated 2018 Releases

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! So, long time no speak, in case any of you didn't see on Twitter I had to take an unexpected blogging break towards the end of last year for health reasons. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I've missed blogging so I've decided to dip my toe back into the waters although posts may still be a little sparse whilst I continue to recover so please do bare with me. I want to kick start 2018 off by featuring some of my most anticipated book releases and I think that this year has been the hardest to do this for yet! There are soooo many 2018 releases that I can't wait to read, this list originally started out with thirty-five books and I somehow managed to narrow it down to only thirteen. I hope you enjoy my picks and that you find a book or two to add to your wishlists!

Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Publication Date: 25th January 2018
Synopsis: "Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what's happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets--not all her own--that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - The first book in this series Me Before You is one of my favourite books of all time! Lou is a character that I could read about forever. It's my birthday a few days before this comes out and a little bird tells me that somebody has already pre-ordered a signed copy of this for me as a present!

Circe by Madeline Miller
Publication Date: 19th April 2018
Synopsis: "In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft. 

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe's place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe's independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Speaking of favourite books The Song of Achilles by this author is another all time favourite of mine and Circe just sounds incredible! Witchcraft, Greek mythology, feminism? Sign me up!

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: 3rd May 2018 (UK release date)
Synopsis: "Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - This book is already everything. Not only is this a Simon Vs spin-off but it's also looking at bisexuality, and friendship problems, and Leah is a plus sized main character. I AM LIVING FOR THIS BOOK!

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Publication Date: 8th February 2018
Synopsis: "Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I feel like this book has been on my radar for such a long time and I was so excited to receive a beautiful signed proof of this over Christmas! I'm really into Fantasy at the minute and this sounds like such a sumptuous and unique story.

How Do You Like Me Now? 
by Holly Bourne
Publication Date: 14th June 2018
Synopsis:"'Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.' 

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There's no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she's inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies - but her long-term boyfriend won't even talk about marriage. And when her best friend Dee - her plus one, the only person who understands the madness - falls in love, suddenly Tori's in terrifying danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path. It's time for Tori to practice what she's preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - My love Holly Bourne has her first adult book coming out, and the quote in the synopsis made me snort-laugh Dr Pepper out of my nose. I have this on my Kindle and I HATE reading on my Kindle. I NEVER read on my Kindle. Yet I will for this book, that's how excited I am.

The Exact Opposite of Okay 
by Laura Steven
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
Synopsis: "Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has... "

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Speaking of Holly Bourne, if you love the Spinster Club series then The Exact Opposite of Okay should definitely be on your radar! This is a UKYA Feminist read that's had buzz around it since proofs were given out at YALC last summer and now that it's finally 2018 I'm going to be picking this one up very soon!

The Curses by Laure Eve
Publication Date: 6th September 2018
Synopsis: "Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Graces are determined to do it. Wolf is back after a mysterious disappearance, and everyone’s eager to return to normal. Except for Summer, the youngest Grace. Summer has a knack for discovering the truth—and something is troubling her. After a trail of clues leads her to what could be the key to both her family’s mysterious past and the secret of Wolf, she’s determined to vanquish yet another curse. But exposing secrets is a dangerous game, and it’s not one Summer can win alone.

At Summer’s behest, the coven comes back together, reluctantly drawing their erstwhile friend River back into the fold. But Wolf’s behavior becomes unpredictable even as Fenrin’s strength fades, and Summer must ask herself whether the friend she so loves is also planning her family’s ultimate, cursed demise.

This riveting sequel to The Graces is saturated with magic, the destructive cost of power, the complications of family, and the nature of forgiveness."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - This one isn't out until September so we still have a while to wait, but The Graces was my favourite book of 2016 and I am so ready for this sequel!

From Twinkle, with Love 
by Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: 7th June 2018
Synopsis: "Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my very favourite books of last year and Sandhya Menon has a die hard fan of her super cute love stories and feel good writing in me.

Reign of the Fallen 
by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publication Date: 23rd January 2018
Synopsis: "Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - This book has the same publication date as my birthday so I think we're going to get along. ALSO this is another book with a bisexual main character and there are zombies!

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
Publication Date: 19th April 2018
Synopsis: "“I’m not even angry it happened. Mostly, I’m just angry that it could. That it keeps happening.”

Ellie Frias has never wanted to be popular, she just wants to blend in, to be accepted. But then Caleb Breward tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she’s not sure she likes him - the possessive way he touches her, his harsh tone, how he ignores her one minute and can't get enough the next. And one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is.

Ellie wasn’t the first girl Caleb raped. But she was the first he murdered.

Now, trapped, she witnesses him shatter the lives of other girls. Powerless and alone, Ellie tries to keep hold of happier memories, always waiting – hoping – that someone will find her.

The Lovely Bones meets Asking For It - this is a heartbreaking and searing debut about a lost teenager, and the town she is forced to leave behind."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I hauled a proof of this just before Christmas and the Asking For It meets The Lovely Bones pitch was enough to sell me on it completely. I think that this is going to be such a powerful and important read.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: 31st May 2018
Synopsis: "Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling and breakout debut Caraval, following Scarlett’s younger sister, Tella, on a journey to the empire’s capital to fulfill a mysterious bargain."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - So we only have a very brief synopsis for this one at the moment but what we do know is that this sequel is going to follow Tella who I loved so much in Caraval! Caraval was my favourite Fantasy read of last year and I can't wait to get lost in the magic of Stephanie Garber’s writing all over again in May.

Girl Made of Stars 
by Ashley Herring Blake
Publication Date: 15th May 2018
Synopsis: ""I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that." 

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - When I first heard of this book it went straight onto this list no questions asked. Like I Stop Somewhere I think that this is going to be such an important and emotional look at rape culture.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Publication Date: 22nd May 2018
Synopsis: "The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I first saw Furyborn when everybody was hauling an arc of this from a Fairyloot box and since then I've been pining away for a copy. I have already heard rave reviews from people who have read this early and that synopsis just sounds so epic and totally has my attention!


 I can't wait to get my hands on these gems in 2018! 
 What books are you anticipating this year?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Anything You Do Say Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour! I'm thrilled to have a brilliant Q&A with Gillian McAllister to share with you today on writing, what to expect from her latest book and how her life has changed since becoming a Sunday Times bestselling author.


1.) Hi Gillian, welcome to the blog! How has your life changed since becoming a bestselling author after the release of your debut novel Everything but the Truth?
Wow, what an interesting question. It’s quite strange and paradoxical. It’s changed in loads of ways and hasn’t changed at all: both are true at once. I still live in the same house, have the same boyfriend, friends, job (I’m a lawyer).

On the other hand… I now work part time. That’s been a big change. I see my book in a lot of places – it’s still in all bookshops and was in the supermarkets for ages, too. I get a lot of messages from readers and strangers – several a day. I get a lot of proofs sent to my house to read in advance of their publication (which is awesome). At anything social that’s outside my immediate inner circle, I get a lot of questions about being an author (and being a bestseller), some of which can be slightly awkward and personal or financial in nature… One of the most peculiar things, I think, is having a reputation that precedes you. Not that strangers know who I am when I walk into a room – of course not – but friends of friends and acquaintances often are aware that I am an author when I know nothing about them.

 2.) What’s been your best moment as an author so far?
God, another great question! I have two: the moment my agent left me a voicemail in February 2016 saying that I should call her. I did, and Penguin had pre-empted my novel. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life; it’s not often you feel so very far from achieving a life ambition, and then, one voicemail later, you achieve it. It was very special.
The second is really in the every day nuts and bolts of it: the writing. Sitting in a Starbucks and making things up and knowing it’s my job. Feeling totally in love with a work-in-progress as it nears completion. The dynamite feeling of an idea arriving while you’re brushing your teeth. All of that.

 3.) What can fans of Everything but the Truth expect from Anything You Do Say? In what ways are they similar or different?
I would say that Anything You Do Say is more of a thriller than Everything but the Truth. While the relationship takes centre-stage in both of them, Anything You Do Say has a denouement and a resolution that stands apart from the marriage between my main protagonists.
They both explore morally grey areas, guilt, lies and relationships in turmoil. Both also have medical and legal elements.
Anything You Do Say is definitely more ambitious – it is two books in one and an unusual structure.

 4.) What sparked the idea for Anything You Do Say and what made you decide to tell it in a Sliding Doors narrative structure?
I had wanted to write a Sliding Doors novel for ages and had been toying with ideas. I thought about having a woman in an unhappy marriage whose husband does/doesn’t die on the way home from work in a car crash, and exploring both strands, but really, I’m a crime writer and I wanted to write novels with that interesting criminal/legal element.

I had been trying to think around the idea of a Sliding Doors novel. I was putting the bins out one night and, and I reached down to pick up a piece of rubbish that had rolled out of the bin bag, I thought: Sliding Doors plus crime. I left that thought alone and, the next night – in the middle of the night – I woke up and thought about a woman who hands herself in and leaves the scene of a crime. Anything You Do Say was born at half past two in the morning.

 5.) If you were your main character Joanna which path would you choose?
Definitely Reveal. I am very law-abiding. Waiting to get caught would actually be worse than getting caught, for me.

 6.) Was writing a second novel harder or easier than writing the first?
Both. It was easier because I knew I knew how to do it. It was harder because Anything You Do Say was so ambitious – it is the longest novel I have ever written, and what I didn’t realise when I had the initial idea was that there would be double the character development. In each strand, Joanna’s husband, best friend, brother and parents have totally different character arcs. At one point it felt out of control and sprawling. Luckily, I wrote it before my first novel was published, so I never felt the weight of the readership (that came later).

 7.) Do you have any advice for aspiring thriller writers?
Finish a draft. It’s as simple – and as difficult – as that. Sit on the chair, most days, until it’s done. This is the biggest hurdle - I have observed - that aspiring writers fall at. I did, too - for years.

 8.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for similar stories to your own?
Interesting question. Imran Mahmood writes in the crime sphere, though is more literary than me. Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty both occupy (brilliantly) the Venn diagram where women’s fiction meets crime.

9.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
Of course. I have just delivered my third novel, No Further Questions. It’s about a woman who looks after her sister’s eight week old baby overnight. The baby dies, in somewhat suspicious circumstances, and she’s accused of manslaughter. It’s a courtroom drama, and it was an absolute joy to write.

10.) And finally, what three words best describe Anything You Do Say?
Tense. Edgy. Sad.

 Thank you for stopping by the blog today Gillian! 

For more fantastic posts don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the A Shiver of Snow and Sky blog tour! I had the pleasure of reading this magical book the other week and I absolutely loved it. Lisa Lueddecke's writing completely sweeps you away to an icy land where warnings are painted red in the skies so I'm very excited to be hosting a fantastic guest post from Lisa on magical world-building today and I have 3 copies of the book to give away to three of my lucky readers over on Twitter!


Magical World-Building by Lisa Lueddecke

If there is one part of writing I am here for, it’s the world-building. With A Shiver of Snow and Sky, I had elements of the world long before any of the story came to me, but because the world was so concrete and realized, the story fell seamlessly into place. I always knew that the northern lights would play a huge role, and I always knew that I wanted the sky to speak to those on the island, and so the rest of the story just followed, like it had existed all along and was just waiting for me to find it. That was very much the sense I got while writing this story: that I was discovering something that had always existed in my mind, and it was very exciting.

When I’m creating a fantasy world, I tend to picture landscapes, settings, and jot down notes on the imagery. Sometimes I scroll through pages and pages of pins on Pinterest, or do image searches for relevant words, or just free write in a notebook for a while to brainstorm ideas. For A Shiver of Snow and Sky, I wrote down a list of words that would complement the world (and I still have the list.) This was what I wrote down.

 Barren 
Biting 
Bleak 
Crackling 
Crisp 
Crunchy 
Fluffy 
Foggy 
Frosty 
Gray 
Isolated 
Leafless 
Lonely 
Misty 
Nippy 
Numb 
Overcast 
Evergreen 
Mittens 
Gust 
Shawl 
Quilt 
Layers 
Tea 
Knit 
Bundled 
Bare 
Spice 
Blue 

I knew early on that the world the book was set in would be every bit as big a character as the actual characters, and it would be the first one I’d need to fully understand before I could move on. I think the setting-as-a-character thing is true of all fantasy, if not all books! If readers can’t believe in the world you’ve created, it leaves room for them to not believe in your book. Writing down that list of random, wintry words helped me to set the tone for the book I wanted to write, even if I didn’t expressly use them in the story. It’s also very important to fully understand the parameters of the world you’re creating, because it will set the standard by which you mean to continue. If your world has rules regarding magic, for example, you need to either remember not to break those rules, or understand how those rules can be broken. (Breaking those rules does not have to ruin anything; it can be an important plot point, if you have a firm understanding of how to pull it off!)

Magic in world-building does not limit itself to books with systems for using magic, such as Harry Potter, but worlds that contain magical or fantasy elements that need to be outlined and understood. Without going into too much detail for those who haven’t read the book yet, much of that for me was based around my use of the northern lights as a voice of the Goddess, whereas much of the day to day world in which the characters lived could be explained away as an old Norse village, or similar. The most important thing for me to get right in writing this book, and which I sincerely hope I did, was to create a world in which, while daily life might seem simple and normal, there was the idea that anything could happen, and anything was possible. Whether that was through references to their superstitions or campfire tales, I wanted the world to feel richer than what they saw and lived every day, because as a reader, having that feeling that anything can happen is something that keeps me turning the pages of any book. If there’s more than meets the eye, more to discover, and more to learn, you will have my undivided attention!

In closing, I believe that building a magical world is all about layering: start with something simple, like a basic setting, and add to that slowly, fleshing out the bones. I started with the idea of a wintry island, then layered in the idea of the northern lights, the villagers’ superstitions, stories about the mountains, and I just kept going until I had a whole world (and I’m still building it!) I think I’ll always feel like I have more to add to the world, but I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and I’m so excited to be back on the island working on the next book.

For your chance to win a copy of A Shiver of Snow and Sky head on over to Twitter to enter! 


Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog design by Imagination Designs using images from the Valentine Owls and Valentine's Day clip art kits by Pink Pueblo