Friday, 30 September 2011

Serendipity Review & Big Break Interview

Earlier this week, I was delighted to receive this great review for 15 Days Without a Head from Serendipity Reviews – not to mention a little bit of extra pressure for the next book!

On finishing this book, the first question that came to mind was - where the hell has Dave Cousins been hiding? 
This book is fantastic. I loved it from the first word until the last. In fact this book really took me by surprise, because when I first heard about it, I really wasn't sure it would be one for me. How wrong was I? This book made me feel so comfortable and right at home as soon as I entered the Roach household. The story was refreshing and original and kept me entranced all the way through. I found that the author's writing just sucked me into the story until I felt like an invisible member of the Roach family. 
Read more …

I was also lucky enough to be featured in Serendipity Reviews, Big Break interview:

Where did you get the idea for the book? 
An incident I witnessed in a pub one afternoon. A really drunk woman arguing with the people at the next table, much to the embarrassment of her sons. It made me wonder what life was like for those two boys, what would happen when they got home. All my stories grow from a spark like that – a character or situation that affects me in some way and makes me care enough to start writing to find out what happens next. 
Read more …

Huge thanks to Vivienne at Serendipity Reviews for her support. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Oxford University Press Bloggers' Evening

On Wednesday I was out and about again, this time in London, for the OUP Bloggers' Evening.

The entrance to the Charlotte Street Hotel is flanked by a pair of Narnia-esque lamp posts, and there's a flag hanging over the doorway; I wasn't sure they'd let me in. Luckily I had best selling author, Joss Stirling with me. As the doorman held open the doors and bowed low to welcome Joss into the building, I took the opportunity to sneak in while nobody was looking.
The room OUP were using was downstairs, and it felt like strolling into a sitting room at the Diogenes Club. I wouldn't have been surprised had Mycroft Holmes risen from one of the armchairs and offered me a brandy. 

The Story Chairs, ready and waiting …

Sherlock's brother may not have been there, but I had an equally warm welcome from the OUP publicity team, who were putting the finishing touches the room – which included this mountain of hot chocolate.

OUP Children's Publicity Manager, Harriet Bayly with the hot chocolate mountain.

Joss started the evening by explaining that she'd written Stealing Phoenix, the follow up to the best selling, Finding Sky, for her teenage daughter. This definitely means I'm not in the target audience for the book. Having said that, at the time of writing, I'm over halfway through Stealing Phoenix and completely hooked. It's a paranormal romance/thriller, but feels very real. Phoenix is a great protagonist and there are some truly evil characters in this book, who I'm hoping will meet a suitably gruesome end.   

Red books in the red room – waiting to be read. (sorry, about that …)

It was great to hear Joss talk about her inspiration and writing process. Then it was my turn in the chair. I attempted to relate my journey to becoming a published author and the inspiration for 15 Days Without a Head, before giving a short reading, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Nobody threw anything at me or went to sleep, so I think it went OK.

Joss Stirling and I, with our editor, Jasmine Richards.
Here I'm proving the fact that somebody will always pull a stupid face and ruin a perfectly good picture.
Afterwards we had a chance to mingle and talk about books, writing, and Dr. Who – amongst other things. It was a great night and over all too soon. So, a big thanks to everyone who came (some, quite a distance) – to OUP for putting on the event, and the staff at the hotel for making us so welcome and letting me have this hooped pencil to take home as a souvenir.

Yes, I know it's just a pencil – but it's kinda cool. 

These pictures were all taken while we waited for the bloggers to arrive. I was so engrossed talking to people afterwards that I forgot to take any more. However, just to prove there were other people there, check out some of the links below to find out what the guests themselves thought of the evening.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Getting out more

I've been spending a lot of time typing in the attic recently, and have noticed I've started talking to the cat. No disrespect to Albert, but I'm not sure it's healthy. I think maybe I need to get out more. 

Last week gave me two opportunities to do just that. On Thursday I spent the day in Oxford with my publisher.

My publisher's rather impressive front door.
We discussed plans for a school tour to coincide with the publication of 15 Days Without a Head, then had lunch with the publicity team, my editor and my agent. A definite improvement on sandwiches in the kitchen with the cat.

Friday morning found me stumbling out of bed at four-thirty to catch the 6am train to Birmingham for a Writers in Schools day at the MAC, organised by NAWEI managed to stay awake and do some work on the journey, and arrived in time to have breakfast with the squirrels in Cannon Hill Park. (Where's Johnny Morris when you need him?)

Judging by his eyes, I suspect this fella was on his way home from a big night out 

On the train home I finished reading The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan. Page-turner is an over-used phrase, but in this case, entirely deserved. A superbly paced thriller with some nice twists and well-rounded characters – I couldn't get to the conclusion fast enough. The Long Weekend deals with child abduction and abuse, but the subject matter is handled deftly, so that the threat feels horribly real without any explicit content. Although the reader doesn't witness any actual abuse, we know it has happened and see the very real consequences in the transformation of the characters. Recommended, but not for younger readers.