Tag Archives: author

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
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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.

An interview with… Sophie Hamilton!

I’m really delighted to have Sophie Hamilton, author of the fantastic YA début STITCH UP, on the blog today, answering some questions on her book! Firstly, a little about Sophie Hamilton:

sophie

Sophie Hamilton lives in London and writes urban YA.

For years, Sophie worked in TV as a film researcher and producer. Her programmes ranged from hard-hitting documentaries to culture and art shows, she most enjoyed those highlighting the lifestyle, quirks and foibles of the rich and famous. She then decided to swap the hectic environment of television for the solitary life of a writer, and the result is her debut novel ‘Stitch-Up’.

When not writing she’ll most likely be reading, watching films, searching out culture, walking or jogging round London or just kicking back.

Onto the questions!:D

G: Stitch-Up is set in a vision of London where the media has a firm grip over everything. Why did you decide to write a book with a focus on media and how people can manipulate the truth?

S: I worked in television for years before I started writing ‘Stitch-Up’, and I guess this influenced my decision to write a book with a focus on media. Also as a news junkie, I’ve always been interested in the way the media creates stories, constructs narratives and isn’t beyond manipulating the ‘truth’ to sell newspapers. I would say two main factors informed my choice to set ‘Stitch-Up’in a near-future, media-controlled London.

Firstly, when I began writing ‘Stitch-Up’, it seemed that there was a dubious relationship between certain sections of the media, the political establishment and the police force. This made me feel very uneasy. Also, media barons having political sway is never good for democracy.

Secondly, I’m both horrified and obsessed by media storms and the damage they do to people’s lives. I began ‘Stitch-Up’after the mother of all media storms, in which certain sections of the press wrongly accused a couple of being involved in the disappearance their child. Instead of chasing down the facts, the press constructed a sensational story with a total disregard for the truth, the parents’ feelings and reputation. The whole nation was hooked on the drama, newspaper sales rocketed, which encouraged the press to print yet more lies.

sophie1This started me thinking…how would it feel to be caught up in a media storm? If the press printed lies about you, demonized you, and shredded your reputation,and you had no way of putting your side of the story across.It would be frightening if you were an adult, but if you were a teenager it would be beyond terrifying – a living nightmare.

STITCH-UP feels very realistic, as it’s about the darker side of celebrity lifestyles, kidnappings and terrorism. Was any of it inspired by true events?

Many aspects were informed by real events. In fact, the trigger for the whole book came from a news item about the Clapham train disaster, which stated that one person goes missing to start a new life whenever a train crashes.

However, for the rest, I think it is more a mash-up of events and news stories rather than one particular event, which informed it. With hindsight it’s easy to say this or that inspired the story, but it is never that simple.

I never set out to write a book about the media, or about a kidnap, or about the way Muslims in Britain were demonized after 9/11, or about celebrity lifestyles, surveillance-creep or the financial crash. I started with a girl running away from controlling parents because she didn’t want to be forced to look and behave in a certain way.But when I had to describe the world and choose characters – Dasha, her parents, Latif and her friends –my concerns and interests influenced my decisions, and suddenly I was writing about things I felt passionately about.

‘Stitch-Up’tunes into the mood music of the times – the financial crash and the recession, discontent, Islamophobia, FEAR, surveillance, riots, alienation, post 7/7 paranoia, FEAR and ultimately repression. It was a time when the rich were getting richer and the poor were being pushed out of London, and everyone was happy to be spied on in return for cool free stuff.

Why did you want to write a book about London?

20434644That’s easy, because I love London. I wanted ‘Stitch-Up’ to be a celebration of this diverse, mad and maddening city. At the same time I wanted to sound a warning that we have to be vigilant before things change irreversibly for the worse – the near-future London of‘Stitch-Up’is only a heartbeat away. I felt London was becoming a divided city: a playground for celebrities and the rich, and a hard-grind for ordinary Londoners.

So we need to wake up, put our smart phones down, and start making smart decisions instead … Whoops! Rant over …

At the beginning of the book, Dasha is in a really difficult situation, and decides to take her chance to run away. Would you have done the same?

Hopefully I would have made a break for it… Sadly, in reality I probably wouldn’t have had the courage. I love the fact that Dasha is prepared to risk everything in her quest to control her own identity, and to discover the truth.

Do You Have Advice For Young writers? (Particularly about world-building if possible!:))

Write what you feel passionately about. With regards to world-building, you must be very clear from the outset what type of world you want to create, right down to the tiniest details. Always remember the devil is in the detail! Draw maps, create mood boards, plan everything – totally immerse yourself in your world. Many dystopian writers create incredible worlds from scratch, and I’m completely in awe of this approach, but it wasn’t the type of world I wanted to build. From the start I wanted to write a novel which was set in a near future but recognizable London. I wanted to keep it real as I felt it would be scarier… Do masses of research around your subject. Read newspapers, watch films, visit exhibitions and immerse yourself in popular culture. Always remember anything and everything can inform your world. Often you will find inspiration in the most unlikely places … I reckon the best tool for world-building is the question ‘What if…?’ Keep asking questions, and your answers will shape your world. Whatever you do enjoy building your world. You are God and you must make your world rock!

Finally, as I know you’re currently editing book two, are you able to say anything about Mob Handed?

{tiiiiny spoiler} I have to be very careful as it is a thriller, and I don’t want to give anything away. All I can say is the crew are back together, Latif has returned from a self-imposed period of exile in Lebanon, and the Golds are back and more dangerous than ever. The London elections are looming and they are determined to consolidate their power by rolling out the Entertainment State. As for Dasha and Latif, things don’t go as smoothly as Dasha had hoped… Okay, that’s it…my lips are sealed.

Yay! I can’t wait for book two:D Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to give a big shout-out to the blogging community for their huge passion for books reading, blogging and generally causing a buzz around YA books. Without the blogging community’s reviews a debut author’s situation would be DIRE…

Yippee!:D Thank you so much, Sophie, for taking the time to answer some questions.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! I really recommend Stitch Up – available now:) You can read my review here.