I’m really excited to be kicking off a blog tour for the first time! I’ve never started one before. Well, here goes! You can click the book cover below to take you to the Goodreads page for the book, too (:
Looking at the Stars is a beautifully written, captivating novel based around war, love, hope and loss. I fell in love with it when I read it earlier this month and I’m sure anybody who reads it will, too. My review should be up next week! For now, here’s the start of the blog tour: A guest post from the author, Jo Cotterill…
Let me take you back to 2007…
*swirly patterns and swooshy music*
I was pregnant. I had finished the edits for my controversial Young Adult novel Screwed (under the name Joanna Kenrick) and feeling a bit lost. I wasn’t sure what to write next. My latest series idea had been rejected. Despondent, I sat in my garden shed and stared at the view.
The news at the time was full of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Images of refugees flashed across the screen. Child after child, torn from home and family, seeing people killed in front of them – what does that do to people, I wondered. How does one remain sane in the face of such horror?
I reached for a shiny new notebook. ‘The day the soldiers came, we cheered,’ I wrote. How would I survive if everything I loved was taken away from me? How would I get through each day if I had nothing? How would I keep hold of hope?
In my mind, a character formed: a girl, full of hopes and dreams and fuelled by imagination. A girl who couldn’t help asking ‘what if?’ A girl who had big ideas and wasn’t afraid to speak them. A girl who made up stories because she couldn’t help it. How would THAT girl survive? And so my pen glided across the surface of the paper, filling a few pages – and then I switched to the laptop, typing as words flowed from my head without any effort.
When I’d written the first 10k words, I thought I should probably show it to my agent. She has excellent knowledge of the publishing world, and she knows me and how I work. I emailed it along with a synopsis. The below is copied from her email response:
I absolutely love love love this. You are the Khaled Hosseini for younger readers. The voice is perfect, the setting just oozes life and the pacing brilliant.
I felt massively encouraged. What a wonderful reaction! And so Amina’s journey continued. Since I started writing it, of course, the news has moved on from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the refugees are Syrian, fleeing from terrible situations at home and often lacking even the most basic of items. In fact, my heart stopped when I read an article in The Times about a baby born in shocking conditions in a camp, during a storm, to a young mother. The baby’s name? Amina.
Humans are amazing. Amid horror, we can find hope. Amid sorrow, we can laugh. And I think that Amina is the kind of person who will always brighten the lives of others because she has imagination. I’d like to think I’m that kind of person too.
Many thanks to Georgia for having me on the blog 🙂
Thank you, Jo, for the guest post! I really loved it, it was beautifully written. Make sure to keep up with all of the blog tour posts over this week and next week. Here’s the schedule: