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?

 

Guest Post

RECKLESS Blog Tour: the world behind the Mirrors and how it came to be

I am beyond honoured to be hosting a guest post by Cornelia Funke today. Cornelia is the author of Inkheart,  one of my all time favourite books, which shaped me so much when I was younger. I really don’t think I’d be the reader I am now without Inkheart, so it’s surreal to be sharing a post with you!Cornelia Blog Tour (002).jpg

Cornelia: When I left Inkworld to step through a mirror, I upset quite a few of my readers. Writers should stick to the world they created and feed the addiction they created for that world with as many books as possible! It took me a few years to realize that in fact I hadn’t left Inkworld behind. I just revisited it 500 years later. But….let’s start at the beginning.

I remember that while editing Inkdeath I had grown quite tired of the baroque storytelling this world demanded being inspired by medieval times. There was a sudden longing for another pace, a leaner language, a more modern setting, closer to the world surrounding us. But it didn’t take shape until I worked with a British friend, Lionel Wigram, on a possible movie adaptation of E.T. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker. Lionel was as much in love with the 19th century as I with the 13th and 14th. I blame him and E.T.Hoffmann that I became infatuated with it too – with the century when our modern times finally and irrevocably hatch. When man announces to be god and sets out to recreate the world.

What if….I thought, while we played with Nutcrackers and Rat soldiers….what if there was a world resembling this defining century (maybe around 1860) in which all our fairy tales are historical fact? How would the existence of magical objects, of witches, gingerbread houses and seven miles boots change the course of colonial endeavours, of kingdoms and revolutions?

When I asked Lionel to use the world we had stumbled upon for a book, he gave his permission gladly. With one request: that he’d be allowed to discuss the plot and characters with me, while I’d of course do the writing.

We worked like that on Book 1. We found the first mirror, took the first steps behind it together, working in English and German, the language I still write in. It was an exhausting and utterly inspiring process, questioning the way I approach a story in profound and often unexpected ways. For Book 2 we still had quite a few very inspiring discussions, but by then Lionel’s work as a movie producer claimed so much of his time that I mostly travelled alone behind the mirrors. Since Book 3 the stories are based solely based on my adventures in that world.

In fact I know so much about it by now that I just revised Book 1 adding all the knowledge I gained about my heroes, the Mirrors and the world they reveal. I plan to write at least another three, as so far I only made it to Kasakhstan and there is so much fairy tale territory to explore still. But – stories don’t stick to plans in my experience. And this one surprised and tricked me so often in the past eight years that I am sure I don’t know half of his secrets.


Thank you so much to Cornelia Funke for the great insight into your writing!

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 · 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)

Blog Tour · Guest Post

FLAWED Blog Tour: ‘5 Things About Me’ by Cecelia Ahern

I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for FLAWED – the new YA novel coming from bestselling author Cecelia Ahern – most famous for P.S. I Love You and Love, Rosie. Here’s Ahern discussing five random facts about herself:

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Interested in her new novel? It’s an exciting new dystopian novel, where you are either labelled PERFECT or FLAWED. Here’s the synopsis!

28425994Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

FLAWED is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is available now in book stores.

goodreads | amazon | waterstones

Blog Tour · Guest Post

Phoenix Burning Blog Tour: Guest Post by Bryony Pearce

Related posts: Cover Reveal: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce | Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising, the first instalment in a series set in the near future, where fossil fuels have run out. I was over the moon when asked to join the blog tour for its sequel! Continue reading to hear from Bryony Pearce, the author, about her experience with writing Phoenix Burning, which is out now.

Writing a sequel for the first time by Bryony Pearce

The first novel I sold, Angel’s Fury, was a standalone. I had ideas about what I would write in a sequel, should I be asked for one, but the book was finished as it stood and I had many readers saying that they liked it for that – at the time I think there was a glut of YA series fiction and a standalone novel was something different for readers, who were perhaps getting bored waiting for a couple of years to find out how their favourite story ended.

The Weight of Souls was a bit different – it was bought as a stand-alone, but my editor wanted me to leave it open for a possible sequel. Book two was planned out and ready to go, when the publisher closed down. Readers were annoyed that The Weight of Souls ended on a cliff-hanger (the ancient Egyptian evil released from its tomb), but there was nothing I could do about it.

Phoenix Rising was always intended to be the first of a series. Stripes bought two books, so I knew that I would certainly be writing at least one more story in Toby’s world. So from the beginning of book one I was planning the sequel. Events in Phoenix Burning were seeded in Phoenix Rising (the sun worshippers, Ayla’s fear of fire, Toby’s missing mother, Hiko’s tattoo, the map, the near miss with the boiler) and I was careful to take notes that I could refer back to while writing a second book – key character descriptions, key events and so on.

Once Phoenix Rising was written, I was excited to get back into Toby’s world and write more of his story. As a reader I enjoy series fiction, mainly because I like to remain longer with the characters I love, and as a writer, it turns out that I like the aspect of this too. I enjoyed spending more time with Toby, allowing his character, and that of secondary protagonist, Ayla, to grow and develop even more.

By the end of Phoenix Rising, Toby has done some real growing up, but it is only at the end of Phoenix Burning, that the lessons he has been learning about trust and adulthood, really come home to him. At the start of Phoenix Rising Toby is a coddled child, by the end he is a teenager, but at the end of Phoenix Burning, he is an adult, making real decisions and taking responsibility for his actions.28811837

Ayla on the other hand thought she was an adult at the start of Phoenix Rising and by the end of the arc, has had her confidence shaken and learns that she still has a lot of learning and growing still to do.

I really enjoyed being able to take elements seeded in Phoenix Rising and seeing where I could take them, and wind them through the next story, tying the two together. I hope that I have given the reader some real ‘a ha’ moments.

I particularly loved using the event at the very beginning of Phoenix Rising, the broken delivery line that almost causes the boiler to explode, as the thing that gives Toby the idea of how to escape the Greyman ship in Phoenix Burning.

Despite all my planning it was hard at times to write a sequel. It felt as if I’d been with Toby for so long, that it was easy to forget that only a few weeks had passed in his world. I ran the risk of making him too adult.

Sometimes I found myself forgetting important things and having to break my own cardinal rules bout re-reading my published novels, just to make sure that I got my facts right.

But really I love spending more time with Toby and I hope that you do too.

A huge thank you to Bryony for talking about Phoenix Burning on this blog! I’m really looking forward to reading it. Phoenix Burning is available now, but if you haven’t read book one yet, you may want to check out my review 🙂