Blog Tour · Guest Post

And Then We Ran Blog Tour: Katy Cannon’s life in photos

I’m super excited to be sharing a guest post with you today, from Katy Cannon! Her latest book, And Then We Ran, is released this week. One of the reasons I enjoyed it was there’s an emphasis on photography, as the protagonist is trying to pursue her goal of becoming a photographer after she realises she has a talent for capturing photos of people in the moment. So, here’s Katy with twelve photos from her life up until writing!


Sometimes, I think that I remember events more from the photos of them than my actual, admittedly slightly dodgy, memory. Of course, that’s part of the joy of photos – they enable you to relive precious moments over and over.

My latest book, And Then We Ran, is peppered with photos throughout. The heroine, Megan, plans to leave home and become a professional photographer – if she can just pull off the craziest scheme of her life to make it happen. You know how it is: one thing leads to another, and suddenly you’re eloping to Gretna Green with your childhood best friend.

When life gets really interesting, it’s important to take time to remember the details. And that’s where photos can really help.

So, here’s the story of my life, in twelve photos.

1. I was born out in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, where my Dad was working at the time. (That’s him, burying a friend on the beach for my amusement.) Apparently I really liked to dip sausages in the sand to eat them, and chasing cockroaches down the corridors of our building.

2. We moved home to Britain when I was a toddler, settling in Surrey, but visiting our family in Wales often – especially for Christmas! Christmas is truly the MOST wonderful time of the year in my family, and we celebrate it extensively. Here I am, in my Christmas finest, with my three older cousins.

3. When I was eight, we moved home to Wales again in order to be closer to family, just before my youngest brother was born. Because the house we were supposed to be buying fell through, we ended up living with my grandparents (at their home, known as HQ) for a full year before moving into our new house. Here I am with both my brothers, outside our new home, sorting through boxes of books we’d been storing in the garage.

4. Moving home to Wales meant we got to spend a lot more time with our family – even after we moved out of HQ!. Here I am (in the alarmingly bright coral dress on the end) at my maternal grandparents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary. We like a celebration in my family, and fifty years of marriage is a very good reason, after all.

5. I finally left Wales again to go to university in Lancaster – which I loved. This photo was taken at my twenty first birthday celebrations, with my university housemate – who is now my daughter’s godmother and a lifelong friend.

6. My friends continue to be huge influences in my life. Many of my closest friends I met in school or sixth form, and I’m lucky to still have them around today. These are the sort of friends you can call and say, “This might sound crazy, but I’ve got an idea,” and know they’ll generally go along with it – or talk you out of it if it’s downright stupid. Everyone needs friends like mine. This photo was taken on one of our Boxing Day walks (we’re up to fifteen now, I think). It’s a tradition that every Boxing Day (or thereabouts) whoever is still home for Christmas (and can’t come up with a good excuse) has to tramp around Erddig Park in whatever weather Wales in December decides to throw at us. We always follow the same route (one year we tried to do it in reverse and ended up in a mud pit. We don’t talk about it) and end up at the same pub, for a very large – and well deserved – lunch.

7. Even after I left Wales, I still consider myself firmly Welsh, and adore everything about the country. And since I’m also a bit obsessed with history, that means I love castles more than almost anything. This photo was taken on one of many, many holidays I’ve spent in Pembrokeshire (where a lot of And Then We Ran is set) at Carew Castle. (It’s a great castle, definitely in my top ten. Yes, I have a top ten of castles. Doesn’t everyone?)

8. In fact, my husband even proposed to me up a hill, at a Welsh castle. (Dinas Bran – well, the desolate ruins of – in Llangollen. In December. In minus 4 temperatures.) We got married at home in Wales the following November. Here we are with the best man. I’m laughing because my heels are sinking into the mud. Also I was ridiculously happy.

9. And then, over the next ten years, we had two kids. Here they are, in a picture perfect family portrait of the sort every mother hopes for. Oh well, at least it’s realistic.

10. Okay, okay, here’s a slightly better one. If you ignore the fact that my son as just thrown up on my hand. (These are seriously the best family portraits I have.)

11. Being a writer has basically been my ambition since I was a child, and the fact that I actually get to write books for a living still astonishes me daily. I think this photo captures the moment that sank in properly for the first time. Here I am, at the Hay Festival in 2014, signing copies of my first YA novel for people who actually wanted to read it and not just because they were related to me. It was a pretty intense moment for me. (Also, after this, my daughter and I went back to the Green Room where she proceeded to sing songs from Frozen at Benedict Cumberbatch for half an hour while he tried to learn his lines. On the off chance he ever reads this blog, I feel I should apologise.)

12. And, I’m pleased to say, the joy of being a writer doesn’t get old. Here I am in Southend-on-Sea just a month or so ago, having photos taken by my publisher for the promotion of And Then We Ran. Plus they let me play on the tuppenny falls while we were there. Is it any wonder I look so happy?

 

Blog Tour · Guest Post

Lost Stars Blog Tour: Lisa Selin Davis on the novels that inspired her

I’m delighted to be welcoming Lisa Selin Davis to the blog today, to talk about the novels that inspired her to turn to writing! Her debut novel, Lost Stars, is out from Hot Key Books and I’m very excited about it. I’m in love with the cover.
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Over to Lisa:
Lost Stars or What Lou Reed Taught Me About Love (1).jpgI’m not alone in being inspired, very recently, by The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s not why my title is “Lost Stars”—that came from my own love of astronomy and my main character, Carrie’s, obsession with the night sky. But the heartbreak and humor in that book—it stayed with me. The first young adult novel I can remember really loving was Madeleine L’Engle’s Meet the Austins, about a noisy, loving family, forever changed when an orphaned  10-year-old girl comes to live with them. I think I really wanted a family like that. My parents were divorced and I felt terribly lonely and isolated in the towns we moved to when I was young. As an older kid, three pieces of writing really affected me. A short story by Alice Munro, How I Met My Husband; Anne Tyler’s Morgan’s Passing; and a short story by Deborah Eisenberg called What It Was Like, Seeing Chris. They were all very, very different pieces, but probably all had a sense of quiet bewilderment that really affected me. I read them all when I was in junior high, and I said Lisa Davis cred.Dave Bigler (1) (1).jpgto myself “Whatever these ladies did, I want to do that too.” They really made me want to be a writer. As a side note: my parents subscribed to The New Yorker, a famous, venerable, and long-running literary magazine, that has both fiction and journalism. I really hold this magazine accountable for my becoming a writer. For a long time I just looked at the cartoons (many of which I didn’t understand) or at the illustrations, but then, around age 13, I started to read the stories. It was there that I read Deborah Eisenberg’s piece, which changed me forever. Thank you, New Yorker. Or maybe I should curse them instead, since now I’m doomed to the writing life (unless I can think of how to become an investment banker). And as for recent novels for adults, I have a hands-down, absolute favourite called Christadora, by Tim Murphy, which is about several generations of a family in New York City’s East Village, all touched by gentrification, art, and AIDS. It’s an amazing book.
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Thank you for visiting the blog, Lisa!
Lost Stars (or what Lou Reed taught me about love) is out now from Hot Key Books in the UK.
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Blog Tour

Chasing Danger Blog Tour: Sara Grant on her Writing Process

Amystery-at-the-ice-hotel-1bout the book: After surviving a pirate attack in the tropics, teens Chase and Mackenzie escape to an exclusive resort in the Arctic Circle. But just after they arrive, suspicious accidents begin to occur. It seems like someone’s trying to scare away the guests. When the accidents turn deadly, it’s up to the girls to figure out whodunit … before they become the next victims. This holiday’s going to be killer!
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SARA GRANT ON CHASING DANGER
The idea
The idea for this Chasing Danger mystery was inspired by my trip to a real ice hotel in 2009. From the moment I arrived, I knew that this would be a great location for murder and mayhem. (Yeah, that is what I think about when on holiday, but only the fictional kind.) When I started planning the book, I simply grabbed a big pad of Post-it notes and started writing all the amazing things I experienced and imagined could happen at this snowy, secluded spot in the Arctic Circle: runaway dog sleds, dead bodies in blocks of ice, getting lost in a blizzard, an amazing Northern Lights show, falling through the ice of a not-so-frozen lake, snowmobile chases, etc…The book really wrote itself.
My process 
Because this is a second book in a series, I already know my main characters – Chase, Mackenzie and Ariadne – inside and out. I know how they will react and also how I want to develop the mega-story that bridges the first four books I’ve outlined for Chasing Danger. I’m a planner. I want my mysteries to have lots of twists, turns and surprises, and to do that, I need to plan out everything in advance. I plot all the Post-it notes from my brainstorming on a
timeline. Then I fill in any gaps and connect all the dots. This is usually a page or two of bullet points. Next I break the action down chapter-by-chapter. I carefully chart the rollercoaster of action and surprises. I wrote a 9,000 word storyline for Mystery at the Ice Hotel. At this stage I look for how I’ve scattered my clues and hints. I double-check my pace and make sure I’ve tied up all my plots and subplots. When I’m satisfied with the storyline, I send it to my editor. She will give me feedback on the big picture at this point. Once we are both happy, I’ll start writing the book.
The story isn’t set in stone. As I write, it evolves and changes from the original storyline. I always write several drafts before I send it to my editor again. The great thing about a series is that by the end of writing one book I already have loads of ideas for the next. And one of the fun things about Chasing Danger is that I reveal the location for the next adventure at the end of the current book. And luckily for me, there are endless exotic locations for Chase, Mackenzie and me to explore.
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About the author: Sara writes and edits fiction for children and teens. Her new series Chasis6y0egcg-1ng Danger is an action-adventure series for tweens. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for Europe. As a freelance editor of series fiction, she has worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books. Sara was born and raised in Washington, Indiana. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She lives in London. http://www.sara-grant.com
Blog Tour

Shadow Magic Blog Tour: A Day in the Life of the Author

 

I’m welcoming author Joshua Khan, author of SHADOW MAGIC, onto the blog today! Read on to hear about his new book and his daily process:

shadow-magicAbout the book: Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire. Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

JOSHUA KHAN: A DAY IN THE LIFE

I am woken as 7am by the soft harmonies of the choir, and the gentle breeze peacock fans. Somewhere, far from the kitchens in the east wing, drift the spicy scent of cinnamon. There is the buzz of the helicopter landing on the lawn with figs, fresh from the slopes of St. Enta in Sicily.
My butler arranges my wardrobe for today and I rise, carried aloft on the shoulders of the players of the Swedish volleyball team to the bath.
Ah, such is the life of an author…

Actually, no aspect of that is remotely true. So, reality check. Up at 7am. Tell the kids to get up. Down to sort out their breakfast. Make sure the hamster cage is well sealed, let the cat in. Cat tries to hug the hamster for a minute, then gives up. Tell the kids to hurry up, breakfast is ready. Start making their sandwiches. Get my wife’s bike out as she cycles off to work. I tell the kids to get a move on.
Tidy up breakfast. Get the kids’ bikes out. Tell them it’s 8am. Check on the hamster. Check on the cat.
Wave bye to the kids, telling them to put on their helmets. Look at the mess in their rooms and sigh deeply. Vaguely tidy up. Find the iPod the youngest thought she lost.
Shower and whip on my clothes. Add shaving if its Tuesday or Friday.
Okay, we’re not quite at 9am. Start working.
I plan the week on Sunday, writing goals, paperwork, and domestic chores. I try and keep the mornings to writing and nothing else. My aim is 2,000 words a day if I’m at the first draft stage. I don’t work weekends as that’s madness. I’ll get the first 1,000 done by lunchtime. I either eat or do some chores (there are always chores. People who work in offices don’t really understand the concept of working from home. But there are only so many hours in the day.). If I can get the chore done within the hour, I do it. If not, I don’t. Otherwise you’re losing writing time. I then hit the keyboards until about 3.30pm, then start sorting out supper.
Emails and random correspondence is done over the day. Now we have a tablet I do some of that correspondence work in the evening. I do not do any writing after 3.30pm, I shouldn’t need to if I’ve hit my 2,000 words. If I haven’t I will do another hour around 9pm to get it done.
So, supper for the kids and wife. Help with homework where I can, and where it’s needed. Evening activities, depending on the evening. Up till midnight browsing the social media, FB and Twitter. It’s not my fave past-time, but a lot of my readers are US-based, so there is the time-zone thing.
Discipline’s the thing for me. Right now I’ve two novels to finish, one to write from scratch, a proposal for a new book to create, two comic series to work on. I can’t dilly-dally. Why should I? The stories are so much fun! I’ve grand quests across the deserts filled with monsters and nomads and ancient cities, then sci-fi cricket adventures, retelling of epic myths and belly-dancing cyborgs. And I get paid for all this. I spent twenty years doing a job I loathed, so feel I’m owed this. I never answer the phone during the day and never, ever put the TV on. I remember losing a whole summer watching Breaking Bad. If there’s tv to be watched, books to be read, that’s at night, quiet time away from the keyboard.
Time off is critical. Weekends, except in emergencies or other constraints. I’ve a trip to Italy and a fortnight around the US in November, so that’ll be events and airports. The evenings tend to be dinners with people so there’ll be no writing done. Thus I’ve decided to put in a few hours every Sunday to cover. Pen goes down for Xmas and the summer hols. You need to recharge.
That’s it!

joshua-khanAbout the author: 

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

Blog Tour

Children of Icarus Blog Tour: Caighlan Smith on Writing and Editing

I’m pleased to be introducing Caighlan Smith on the blog today! Read below for her guest post about her process of writing and editing her latest book, Children of Icarus. But first, a little about the book:
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Over to Caighlan!
Caighlan Smith photo 1You know the concept of binge-watchers? Well I’m a binge-writer. When I’m hooked on an idea I’ll write from the moment I wake up (half past noon) until dinner—or Coronation Street, whichever comes first. Then I’m back to writing and up late enough to justify waking after noon the next day. That’s my writing process; dive in and don’t look back until the first draft’s done. I only let myself reread what I’ve written if it’s been a while since I worked on the project, which doesn’t happen too often. I like to start a project when I know I’ll have a solid week to work on it without interruptions. So when I’m done the draft, my editing process starts. That used to involve crying and procrastination. Now it involves focus and only occasional procrastination. I’ve edited a lot on my own, and had experience with a bunch of different editors, and it’s all taught me how essential editing is to bettering a book, so it’s Children of Icarus high resnot nearly as painful as it used to be. To be honest, I actually enjoyed editing my new book, Children of Icarus. Prior to this I’d evolved enough to get through editing without tears and questioning the necessity of grammar, but do actually enjoy editing? That made me want to cry for an entirely different reason. It taught me that when you have an outstanding editor and a novel you really want to work for, editing is more an angel than a soul-sucking demon. Speaking of both of those things, they feature (in some ways) in Children of Icarus. The story revolves around a girl who ends up trapped in a labyrinth, which she believed would lead to paradise. With a group of other youths, she has to survive long  enough to escape—if escape is even possible.

Children of Icarus is out now in the UK from Curious Fox Books.
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Blog Tour

STORIES FROM THE EDGE Blog Tour: Guest Post from Keren David

I am sosososo ridiculously excited to be welcoming Keren David to The Bibliomaniac today, author of one of my favourite reads of last year.

David is one of the eight Edge Authors on the blog of the same name. These fantastic writing talents have just released an anthology of short stories – STORIES FROM THE EDGE. It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to read it!

Without further ado, here’s Keren David discussing her short story, which is linked in with her previous novel, This is Not a Love Story:


Blog Tour · Guest Post

Indigo’s Dragon Blog Tour: Sofi Croft on Mythology

Hey internet! Today I’m delighted to be hosting a post on the blog tour for Indigo’s Dragon, a new title from up and coming publisher Accent YA. Read on to see how Sofi Croft, the author, used mythology as her inspiration for writing her adventure stories:

Sofi Croft on Using Folklore & Mythology as Inspiration

Indigo's Dragon CoverFairy tales, folk tales, myths and legends have been told and retold countless times, gaining and losing elements with each retelling. They have changed over time, morphed into different versions and inspired entirely new stories.

I love using folklore and mythology as an inspiration for my writing. Indigo’s Dragon features several well known creatures from mythology, reimagined in my own way. There is a griffin inspired magpie-cat, a kraken inspired giant cephalopod, a yeti that is probably more of a hairy boy (or is it?), and dragons that … well you’ll have to read the book to discover their secrets.

In the sequel, Indigo’s Demons, there are many creatures borrowed from Slavic mythology, and in the third book of the series, Indigo’s Deep, I was inspired by the drawings of sea monsters found on Olaus Magnus’s Carta Marina (a map of northern Europe published in 1539).

As well as the creatures in Indigo’s Dragon, the story itself was also inspired by folklore. I love reading Polish and Baltic folk tales and one in particular, the Dragon of Krakow, captured my imagination.

The Dragon of Krakow lived in a cave in Wawel Hill, on the banks of the River Vistula, and spent most of his time terrorising the population of Krakow. Stories about the dragon have been told since at least the 12th century, and as with most stories of that age that are many different versions. All of the ones I have read end with the dragonSophie Croft being killed; sometimes slain by a prince, but more often poisoned by a tailor or shoemaker using a sheep stuffed with sulphur.

I took the end of this story and used it as a starting point for my own. I thought ‘What if …?’ and then I continued the story, weaving in other threads and twisting it into another tale. I have found myself using this technique several times. In Indigo’s Deep I played with the legend of Jūratė, Kastytis and the Amber Palace, and in the book I am currently writing I have been inspired by the incredibly freakish Baba Yaga who, in the old tales, rides in a mortar and lives in a house with chicken legs.

Like living things stories grow, evolve and reproduce, and I believe by using folklore and mythology as an inspiration writers can help to keep the old stories alive while creating something new.

Indigo’s Dragon (Indigo’s Dragon #1) by Sofi Croft is a children’s fantasy novel full of adventure, mystery, monsters and dragons.

Publication Date: 23rd June 2016 (Accent YA)