Tag Archives: interview

An Interview With Calista Lynne: Author of We Awaken

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my interview with Calista Lynne, whose new title We Awaken was released in July. I was really interested in this book as soon as I’d heard about it, as not only does the magic-laced contemporary story sound really interesting, but this is also one of very few titles I’ve seen out there where asexuality is a main aspect.

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THE BIBLIOMANIAC: Hello! Firstly, could you give a quick overview of your latest book, We Awaken, is about?

CALISTA LYNNE: The main characters in We Awaken are two asexuals in a F/F relationship. One of them is a creator of dreams who helps the other girl try to get into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. It is YA Magical Realism, so there is a fair amount of conflict and adventure, but at the heart of it all, this is a tale of romance.

30341730Was there anything in particular that sparked the idea for the story?

The characters came from the fact that I wanted to write asexual representation, but the plotline came from a variety of places. Fairytales, a sonnet I never wrote, stories friends told me at parties. I had a friend growing up who had a fake license so she could rent cars underage and go to auditions in the city. Shockingly enough, that led me to make the main character a dancer.

What was your writing process like for We Awaken?

It was a bit more structured than my current writing process. I had long lists of scenes and events and wrote them as chronologically as I could without getting writers block. The first scene that came to me was one in the middle, though, so that was my anchor. There was also a fair amount of screaming at my laptop screen.

Did you always plan on having a supernatural twist in your writing?

I like to pretend that I can write in any genre, but fantastical elements just come to me better. Recently I abandoned two completed drafts of a contemporary romance because it didn’t feel right. Now I’m working on a fantasy and it is coming out so much better. I write whatever plots come to me and, for some reason, they always seem to involve creators of dreams or fairies or something supernatural. It’s not even planned it’s just in my nature, I suppose.calista-lynne

What made me really interested in We Awaken was that your main characters are asexual, which I think should be represented a lot more in YA. Did the asexuality aspect of your novel just happen as you wrote, or did you have the intention of representing minority characters?

I definitely had the intention of including minority characters going in. My goal was to write the novel I wish I had growing up and show that asexuals aren’t broken. I wrote the representation I wanted to see in the media. Although I will admit, originally there was only one asexual character in the book but during rewrites I changed it to two.

And, lastly – do you have any book recommendations?

This is a difficult question! Tragically, I don’t know many books with asexual characters- feel free to send recs my way- so I can’t offer up any titles in that regard, but I do highly recommend every book by Neil Gaiman. American Gods is my personal favorite. Honestly it’s written so cleverly it almost makes me angry. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is my favorite LGBTQ title. I just recommend you read whatever makes you happy and don’t let anyone give you shit about it.

Thanks very much for visiting the blog, Calista! (And I second the Aristotle and Dante recommendation. That book is beautiful)

Are you interested in We Awaken? You can find more details about it over on Goodreads – and it’s out now from Harmony Ink Press.

 

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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:

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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.

An interview with SF Said!

My first author interview of the year, and probably one of the most exciting ones I’ve ever gotten to do!

SF Said wrote Phoenix, most recently- a sci-fi epic about a boy searching for his missing father. I fell in love with it; it was beautifully written and really captivating. You can read my glowing (No pun intended- the book’s about stars!) review here!

First up, here’s a little about SF… (I felt arty! So this looks relatively cool!):

SFbio

Onto the interview questions, in which writing, book themes and illustrations are covered… The images are all of Dave McKean’s beautiful artwork for the book, aside from the photo!

Where did the initial idea for Phoenix come from?

The initial idea was about a boy who goes on an epic quest to find his missing father.  That was all I had at the start.  I didn’t know who the boy was, or where the quest would take him – until I got the idea of setting the story on a starship.  This idea popped into my head one afternoon, and I immediately knew it meant we’d be crossing the galaxy, and there’d be aliens… and that’s when I got really excited about it!

The book took off from there.  But I have to admit, it changed a huge amount over the seven years it took to write it!

What was the hardest scene to write in Phoenix? (Don’t worry, no spoilers here- thanks, SF!:))

The beginning and end were both very hard.  But the thing I found hardest runs all the way through.  It’s what you might call the mythic background.

sf image 1The aliens in Phoenix believe that all the mythological gods are really stars who come down from the sky.  They take different forms in different times, but they’re always the same immortal beings, returning again and again through history.  They call them the Twelve Astraeus.

Originally, I wrote lots of material about the Twelve Astraeus, to explain this background.  But it was impossible to find words powerful enough to describe them.  After all, gods and stars should be mysterious and awe-inspiring beyond words!

Then I came up with the idea of describing them through illustrations and song fragments.  I gave Dave McKean a list of the Twelve Astraeus, with their names and attributes in different mythologies (Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, sf image 2Mesopotamian etc.)  The images he created have exactly the sense of mystery and awe that I wanted.

I also wrote song fragments to go with the pictures, which give you little hints about them.  So when readers encounter the Astraeus of Love, for example, they can work out for themselves that she’s been called Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Astarte, and so on; and even if they don’t, they’ll just feel who she is, without being told.  I find that much more powerful and evocative than ordinary prose – but it took me a long time to work out the best way to do it!

Why did you decide to write a book set in Space- what that inspired by anything in particular?

I’ve always loved space stories.  The stars have always filled me with a sense of wonder.  I love the thought of other life; other worlds, out there in the universe…  and I know I’m not alone in these feelings.  Yet there aren’t many books set in space for younger readers, given how popular it is on TV and in films (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek…)  So because I wanted to read more space stories myself, I had to sit down and write my own!

I’m also very interested in space science and astronomy, and the incredible things that are being discovered all the time.  I love the idea of Dark Matter, for example.  It seems that most of the matter in the universe is ‘Dark Matter’; it’s usually invisible and undetectable, but it’s what holds everything together.  So I put this idea into the book, and Dave McKean made some beautiful images of it, partly based on fractals.

But it turns out that his illustrations are incredibly close to the reality!  Just last week, astronomers captured the very first image of the web of Dark Matter that holds the universe together – and it looks astonishingly like Dave’s pictures!

darkmatter

Are any of the characters based on real people?

The one that’s closest to reality is probably Mystica Grandax, the Startalker.  She is largely based on my grandma, who died during the writing of the book.  She was pretty much the nicest grandma you could imagine, and I wanted to have a character as nice as that!  A lot of strange and difficult things happen to the main character Lucky in the course of the story, so I wanted there also to be someone who was just unconditionally good and kind and loving towards him.

I loved Dave McKean’s illustrations! Do you have a favourite from Phoenix?
sf image 5

Thank you, I love them too, as you can probably tell from my other answers!  He is a brilliant artist and a great collaborator, and we spent a lot of time talking and thinking about how to do it.  Many of the things the book describes are impossible and unimaginable, so it wasn’t easy!  And yet I think he pulled it off.

It’s impossible for me to choose a single favourite.  But I have to admit, the cover blew my head off when I first saw it!

I also love the book trailer that he made for Phoenix, which animates many of his illustrations in a really beautiful way.

[My blog doesn’t seem to like YouTube Video embedding… but you can just click on the link above, for the book trailer! It’s worth watching… it really is gorgeous (: ]

Finally, do you have any hints about current writing projects?

I’m just beginning the third draft of my new book right now!  The working title of this one is TYGER.  It’s science fiction too, although it’s not space; it’s more of a parallel worlds story.  I’m really excited about it!

My usual routine is: get up in the morning, go to the library, and write.  I write in the library because I’m not disciplined enough to work at home; there are just too many distractions.  Much as I love Twitter (where I’m @whatSFSaid), it’s disastrous for your concentration!  I find it much easier to focus in the library, and I work there every day, unless I’m doing a school visit.

But my aim is always to make my books as good as they can possibly be, and that takes a lot of drafts, and a lot of time.  Phoenix took 13 drafts in the end (Varjak Paw took a horrifying 17!) so it might be a while till it’s ready…  but I hope not too long!

Wow! I can’t believe it took 13 drafts- but it was definitely worth it. Phoenix is an awesome read, and I really recommend it! Thank you so much to SF Said for the interview. I really loved it, so I hope everybody else does!

Spotlight on Steampunk: Wrap-up Post

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Spotlight on Steampunk was originally a readathon I decided to run just because I wanted to get some Steampunk books read. But, I decided to turn it into a bloggy event, to make it more exciting! I was lucky enough to read a lot of brilliant Steampunk fiction, as well as lucky enough to host two amazing fantasy authors on my blog for the event. I found it fun to run, and so I hope everybody enjoyed reading the posts!

I got some really nice feedback from lots of people, about the event, my reviews and that tiny little drawing I included on post one. A huge thank you to everybody who left such nice comments- you’re all super awesome! *virtual cake* (:

As of Monday, I’ll be catching up on some Advanced Reading Copy reviews that need to go up. So, here is a wrap-up post of all of the themed blog posts that have been published since the 1st of December!

Spotlight on Steampunk: Reviews

I got to read and review steampunk books over the themed fortnight. You can see what books I read here. Click on the book jackets to bring yourself to my review of that title.

Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian FuturismLarklight (Larklight, #1)Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange StoriesThe Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2)Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate Manga)

Of course, I still have a lot of Steampunk books to read. All of them, I’m really excited about! You can view my Steampunk TBR shelf, showcased in yesterday’s post, here.

Spotlight on Steampunk: Author Spotlights

So that the bloggy event wasn’t just reviews, I asked two authors if they’d be interested in an interview or a guest post. Both authors were really really lovely and said yes! You can click on their author profile pictures below to see their posts for Spotlight on Steampunk. Nigel McDowell (bottom) wrote Tall Tales From Pitch End, and he answered some  interview questions on his writing. Stefan Bachmann (top) wrote The Peculiar & The Whatnot, and did a guest post on steampunk-y inspirations on his books!

Stefan BachmannNigel McDowell, author of Tall Tales from Pitch End

So that’s Spotlight on steampunk over! ;D I enjoyed reading just one certain genre over two weeks, though now I have a lot of ARCs to catch up on! I’ve just finished reading A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson, a contemporary, but then I’m back to fantasy with some future Hot Key titles and a Strange Chem one! (: Again, huge thank yous and slices of virtual cake to anyone who commented on the blog posts!

Special thanks to: Nina from Death Books and Tea, who gave me the copy of Etiquette and Espionage and lent me the copy of the Soulless manga, Nigel McDowell for his brilliant interview answers, and Stefan Bachmann for his awesome guest post. Thank you!! 😀

Spotlight on Steampunk: an Interview with Nigel McDowell!

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Yay! I’m super happy to have Nigel McDowell answering some questions today. It was so awesome of him to answer! Earlier this year, his debut novel, Tall Tales from Pitch End, was published with Hot Key Books. Tall Tales is a very dark, and compelling, fantasy for YAs, with a lot of Steampunk elements. You can read my old review HERE!
Nigel didn’t actually realise he’d written in a fantasy/Steampunk crossover genre- but Hot Key Books pitched it this way, and the cover’s very Steampunk with its machinery themes! *bookcoverfangirlyscream* The reason I read this book is because of how Hot Key’s employee Olivia told me about the dark fantasy and steampunk. (: Nigel really kindly agreed to answer a few questions on his book for my Steampunk event. Here they are- but first, a little bit about the author…

Hot_Key_Photo_AuthorNigel grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of his time battling boredom, looking for adventure – crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with his brother and sister, and reading. His favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl. After graduating with a degree in English (and having no clue what to do with it!), he decided to go off on another adventure, spending almost two years living and working in Australia and New Zealand. With him he took a small notebook containing notes about a boy called “Bruno Atlas”, and a seaside town called “Pitch End”. When he returned to Ireland after his travels, one notebook had multiplied into many, and eventually his notes for Tall Tales from Pitch End filled a large cardboard box…

Nigel now lives in London. He has written articles on film and literature for a number of websites.He is always on the hunt for books about folklore and fairytale. He wishes he had more time to climb trees. Tall Tales from Pitch End is Nigel’s debut novel.

Follow Nigel on Twitter: @NMcDowellAuthor

website: http://www.nigelmcdowellauthor.com

Now for the questions!

1-firstly, can you tell us a little bit about Tall Tales?

Tall Tales from Pitch End is a dark fantasy adventure.  It is set in the seaside town of Pitch End, a place cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by a high stone wall and a range of impassable mountains, and ruled by a group of (old but still Tall Tales From Pitch Endsuspiciously enduring) all-powerful Elders.  An odd place, about as rural and closed-minded as you could find; rife with paranoia, and where the townsfolk are spied on dawn and dusk by hundreds of clockwork cats.  It’s also a place where a person’s inherent magical power, known as “Talent”, is forbidden from use.  Our main character is a boy called Bruno Atlas, who discovers a book that belonged to his murdered father – the Tall Tales from Pitch End.  The book contains a collection of folktales which, Bruno suspects, may be the true record of what has happened in the history of Pitch End (or truer than the version being pedalled by the Elders!).  The discovery of the book starts a spark of rebellion in Bruno, and he sets of on an adventure to discover the truth about his father, to unpick the riddles and lies of the town, and to try and overthrow the Elders…

2- your debut novel is a dark, steampunk fantasy: did you always intend on writing a novel around those themes?

All writers say this, but it is true: it felt more as though Bruno’s story chose me, and I just had to go along with it and try to tell his tale as best I could!  Though I do love fantasy-adventure literature and film of this kind – His Dark Materials, the novels of Frances Hardinge, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, and films like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz (I grew up in the eighties).  So I wanted to tell a story about an enclosed world with its own very particular history and folklore, that was filled with lots of strange ideas, and had plenty of action and adventure.

3- If you could ask Bruno three questions about anything not mentioned in the novel, what would they be?

That’s such a good question!  And very difficult to answer too…perhaps instead of ‘asking’ him three things, I could ‘tell’ him three things?  Is that alright?  So firstly, I’d tell him not to worry so much; I’d tell him too that life can be a constant and confusing course of learning when to speak out and when to be thoughtful, and finally and above all else – to trust in the power of his own imagination.

Railsea4- do you read any steampunk books?

Not many, to be honest.  (Steampunk as a genre wasn’t something I’d heard of until embarrassingly recently, so I was writing Tall Tales in complete ignorance of how it might fit into a certain genre!).  Though I do love Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series, which I suppose I would’ve described as steampunk, until Philip Reeve himself recently remarked on Twitter that he dislikes that  genre!  But I did read Railsea by China Mieville a few months ago, and which I think qualifies as steampunk?  It was very interesting; a fascinating concept, great story, very intelligent, and beautifully written too.

(Eek! I reviewed a Philip Reeve title for my steampunk event…. ha! :D)

5-what do you love about the genre you’ve written in?

I think at its best, fantasy can achieve many things that great stories aspire to.  A good fantasy story can be utterly transporting, as well as exciting, moving, funny, inventive.  It can also manage to say something profound about who we are as people.  When it comes to the type of stories I write, I like to draw as much as possible on Irish history, folklore and fairy-tale, of which there is a great deal – and beautiful and odd it is too!  And it’s a great genre to write in because you can do absolutely anything your imagination can conceive of.  If you can dream it, then you can commit it to the page.  But the real challenge is making those things – the world you’ve presented – feel rich and complex, deep and detailed enough to be believed in.

6-finally, if you’re already writing another book: can you give us any hints?

nigel06

That is a *lot* of research and drafting for Tall Tales!

At the moment I’m coming towards the end of editing my new novel.  It is another dark fantasy adventure that I’m calling The Black North.  It is set in a land called The Divided Isle.  A military force has invaded, taken the North and laid waste.  They’ve recruited all manner of dark creatures and magic for their cause, and installed a powerful King.  The story follows a young girl from the South, Oona, and her comrade – a contrary and commanding talking jackdaw, who often transforms into a contrary and commanding old woman – as they journey across the Divide and into the ‘Black North’ to try and rescue Oona’s brother, who has been captured by the Invaders.  After a story like Tall Tales, I wanted to write a novel where the characters were taken on an adventure across a great and treacherous distance, encountering various peoples and creatures, grappling with a lot of excitement and danger along the way!  It will be published by Hot Key Books in June 2014.

Thank you so much for the blog interview, Nigel! I am SO excited for your next book- it sounds amazing! *adds to the wishlist* I hope everyone enjoyed this interview- make sure to check out Nigel’s book. You can find it on Goodreads here.

An interview with… Caroline Green! (PLUS GIVEAWAY!)

Wahey! If you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I read and loved the teen thriller, HOLD YOUR BREATH by Caroline Green. It was an awesome read, and you can see my review HERE! I went to the blogger’s lunch run by Hot Key, Piccadilly Press, and Templar Books a couple of weeks ago. There, I met Caroline- and she’s such a lovely person! We chatted for quite a while, and I took home another copy of her book by accident. I asked Caroline, and she was happy for me to do a special giveaway for it! I was also lucky enough to interview Caroline, online, after the event. So, here’s an interview, all themed around HOLD YOUR BREATH, one of her latest teen thrillers!

You can follow Caroline by her Facebook page, or her website: https://www.facebook.com/CarolineGreenAuthor

http://www.carolinegreen.net/

Me at HYB launch•Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about HOLD YOUR BREATH, your teen thriller?

Hold Your Breath is about a 15-year-old girl called Tara who has the ability to locate lost items. This used to be a bit of a party trick within her family but things took a dark turn when she tried to help the police find a missing person,  a toddler, for the first time. Her ‘gift’ appeared to be flawed on this occasion and her involvement actually led to tragedy. So as the story begins, Tara is in a new town with her family. She pretends she doesn’t get these images of lost things or people anymore, because it caused so much trouble and heartache before. But when a nasty girl in her class called Melodie Stone leaves school suddenly, Tara keeps getting disturbing pictures in her mind that suggest Melodie has been abducted and is in serious trouble. She has to make the decision whether she should become involved to help someone she doesn’t even like and who no one else thinks is in danger. Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t even trust her gift anymore…

•What was your main inspiration that triggered the idea for the book?

Unlike my other books, Dark Ride and Cracks, this one didn’t begin with a clear mental picture. This time I played around with a number of ideas until this one started to get me excited. I knew I wanted to write a psychological thriller because I love reading that kind of book!

•Your protagonist, Tara, has a special talent: why did you decide to give her that quality?

I was really interested in exploring what it would be like to have a skill that some would perceive to be a gift, but my character sees as a curse. Because her ability is potentially a useful one for other people, it means she would sometimes be under pressure to use it, when really, she would rather not have this special ability at all. She just wants to be normal.

HOLDYOURBREATH300DPI

•If you were to meet one character from this book, that wasn’t Tara, for a day, who would you pick and why?

Well if I was about 25 years younger it would have to  be Leo! I did enjoy writing him and hope he is as a

ppealing on the page as he was in my imagination. But maybe it would be Leo’s dad, who cooks fantastic Italian food!

•Where do you write your novels?

My number one favourite writing place is the British Library. I love it there and find I can get lots done when I get the chance to spend the day there.

•Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring writers, in general or in the genre you write in?

I always say that writers must be readers first. So read, read, read, and not just in the genre you like best (although that is crucial too). All those words go in and whirl about in your brain and help you to make new stories. I really believe that. And you must want it really badly too and not let the inevitable knock-backs stop you from following your dream. It took me seven hard years of rejections to get published and I thought I would DIE from how horrible it was! But some stubbornness kept me going and I’m so glad I did.

Thank you so much, Caroline, for some brilliant interview questions! Now for a giveaway! ;D

UPDATE: Raflecopter is being stupid, and the code doesn’t let the widget show, and the link that was up previously doesn’t work. I’ve sent an email to them, but they can’t work it… so, in order to enter to win a copy of the book, please, instead, leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win HOLD YOUR BREATH!

TERMS: I will pick a winner at random fairly. The book will be sent via post, so if it gets lost or delayed I’m not responsible for it. Sorry! The giveaway is running from 12AM 7TH NOVEMBER until 12AM 21ST NOVEMBER. UK only, please, because otherwise postage is a lot of money 😦

Good luck!

An Interview with… Gina Blaxill!

I’m so lucky to have interviewed one of my favourite crime authors, Gina Blaxill! I’ve been a fan of her books for about a year-ish, now, having read her first two crime thrillers for teens last October and absolutely loving them. I didn’t know until a couple of weeks ago that Gina had a new title out- and I was so glad I got to read a copy. I really wanted to interview Gina on her newest book, Saving Silence, which I reviewed yesterday on my blog, and she was kind enough to agree to answer a few questions! So, here’s a little bit about this author, and an interview with some really great answers about her new thriller for teens (complete with pictures- of the setting and Gina’s awesome writing shed):

ginablaxillGina Blaxill is 27 and lives in North London. She has an English degree from Cambridge University and now works in schools liaison, helping teenagers puzzle out the mysteries of higher education. Between the ages of 11 and 15 she wrote an epic 36 part story featuring over 1,000 characters – she still remembers most of their names! Apart from Saving Silence she has two other novels published with Macmillan, Forget Me Never and Pretty Twisted, which is an e-book bestseller.

 

Your newest novel is based in an area with a lot of crime. particularly gang crime (The McAllister twins): why did you decide to write a novel with themes of London gang culture?
 I wanted to write something that genuinely felt real, like it could actually happen. I also wanted to write about something that might affect teenagers, rather than about teenagers getting accidentally caught up in adult crime. Gang crime is a huge issue that affects lots of teenagers with loads of really interesting themes – identity and belonging and friendship to name a few, themes I think relate to teenagers in particular. I was lucky that I didn’t grow up with gang culture around me but for many of the young people I’ve met across London it’s something they have to deal with every day to a lesser or greater extent.
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Did you always want, since wanting to become an author, to write crime/thrillers, and for teenagers?
 I definitely always wanted to write for teenagers.I love teenage fiction and I just don’t have anything interesting to say to adults! My teenage years were not at all dramatic but I think it’s a really interesting period of life, when people are discovering exciting new things and figuring out who they want to be.
I actually ended up falling into writing crime thrillers. When I wrote my first book Pretty Twisted I didn’t realise I had written a crime novel! However it makes a lot of sense because I’ve always loved crime novels and crime dramas.
What was your main inspiration for Saving Silence?
My starting point was the idea that someone might do a good deed that had bad consequences. I wanted something really dramatic at the beginning too, so both those ideas turned into Imogen saving Sam’s life. Obviously I then needed an explanation for why someone would want to try to kill Sam and that became the rest of the book. I also really wanted to write something set in a part of London where kids have to be tougher and more streetwise – somewhere that felt claustrophobic and potentially dangerous.
Do you base any of your characters on yourself or other people that you know?Walthamstow high street market
 I usually don’t – not consciously, anyway! It’s not that I’m a boring person but I think characters like me would be a bit rubbish in a crime book because they would be sensible and just go to the police ! I do try and give all my important characters a little something of me – like Imogen I like to get things done without fuss and like Sam I enjoy baking. However, I did base Nadina strongly on a lovely girl I met through my day job at a college in Hammersmith – I gave her the same name, appearance and from what I could tell a similar personality. I hope the real life Nadina doesn’t mind being put in a book! I also based some of Ollie’s background, loosely, on a kid in an episode of World’s Strictest Parents, so character inspiration can strike from odd places.
 There’s a bit of a romantic twist, especially at the ending, to Saving Silence. Were you always going to include it?
This is a good question! Originally there was less romance in Saving Silence . I think I got so caught up with
plotting and atmosphere that I forgot about it a little – my bad! Both my editors, very wisely, pushed me to up the
amazing_writing_shed_outsideromance a little and I’m glad I did. The development of the characters’ relationships and the ending just feel right, and a lot of the romantic twists and turns just ended up happening naturally – I never really planned to end up with a love triangle, for instance.
Finally, do you have any ideas for a fourth book, that you can share with us?

Nothing’s set in stone for the fourth book and I might change my mind and go with a different idea! However the idea I’m working with at the moment is about a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, and revolves around one of them having been abducted.

Ooh, can’t wait to hear more about this idea if it goes forward! Also, I would write this in a picture caption, but stupid WordPress won’t let me caption things for some reason… So can we just take a moment to admire this writing shed/author habitat above. I WANT ONE.

Finally, thanks so much to Gina Blaxill for answering my questions with some really great answers- I really enjoyed reading them and hope everyone else will too. You can check out my review of SAVING SILENCE by clicking HERE, and you can also hear Gina read the first chapter HERE!