Interview and Book Review: The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat (Coral Rumble and Charlotte Cooke)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books

Pages: 32

Release Date: April 4th 2017

Summary:

Two children and their imaginations set sail from their living room on a voyage around the world! Read along as they spy an extraordinary array of characters doing even more extraordinary things…? With bright, fresh illustrations and a playful style, this rhyming book, based on the classic Edward Lear poem The Owl and the Pussycat, is a wonderfully quirky adventure.

Review:

This is a fun and inventive take on the popular nonsense poem The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear. I love that it’s written and illustrated by a mother and daughter team – it’s so cool to do things like that in a family!

I read this with Little Moore as soon as it came through the door, and he’s had it before bed several times too. The gentle rhyming and pastel colour scheme mean it works great as a bedtime book.

In this book, the owl and pussycat are two dressed up children who are having an imaginative playtime with a cardboard box. They meet lots of colourful and quirky characters on their journey and Little Moore loved pointing at all the different creatures. It’s a fun one to read aloud and I’m sure it’ll become a favourite with Little Moore as he grows older.

The illustrations are really beautiful and perfectly capture the words of the story and bring it to life. I loved the colour scheme – it’s different to a lot of the more cartoony coloured books on his shelves and that makes this one stand out.

This is a really great addition to Little Moore’s shelves and I hope you’ll check it out!

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Interview

I’m super excited to have author of The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat on the blog today for an interview. Welcome Coral!

  1. What made you want to write a book based on The Owl & The Pussycat?

Charlotte – my daughter and the illustrator of Owl and Pussycat – suggested it as she loves the poem.

  1. Are you a big fan of the poem?

I love the poem, too, and have done since childhood. It creates wonderful and wacky images, and has an enchanting musicality.

  1. Are there any other nonsense poems you’re particularly fond of?

The Jumblies is my all time favourite.

  1. Would you rather go to sea with an owl or a pussycat?

Great question. I suppose it would depend on whether I wanted the benefit of wisdom or the protection of an expert scrapper!

  1. What would you take to sea with you? Honey? Money? Or something else?

Perhaps it would be good to have a flare gun.

  1. What’s your favourite picture book?

I have many favourites, it’s impossible to choose, but Where the Wild Things Are is glorious!

  1. What’s the hardest thing about writing a picture book?

Getting the unity of vision to work, between writer and illustrator, is the hardest part. It was very easy to work with Charlotte!

And a few quick fire questions to end with:

 

  1. What are you reading now?

The Other Half Lives, by Sophie Hannah

  1. Favourite book as a child?

The Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

  1. Favourite writing drink/snack?

Chocolate or nuts (or both)

  1. 5 desert island books?

The Bible, of course.

The complete works of Shakespeare, goes without saying.

Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – it was my first encounter with romance

The Understudy, David Nichols – makes me laugh out loud

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres – makes me laugh, cry and luxuriate in the wonderful landscape.

  1. Favourite place to read?

In the bath, or on a beach.

  1. Any hidden talents?

I love football, and can still score the odd goal.

  1. What fictional world would you love to live in?

I’d love to be a companion to one of Jane Austen’s heroines. I’m sure it would give me great amusement.

Thanks to Coral for joining me here today! You can find out more about Coral and Charlotte and follow the blog tour below.


About the Author

coralpic

I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being Buckingham Palace!

Website: http://www.coralrumble.co.uk/

About the Illustrator

charlottepic

I was thrilled and proud when my picture book The Adventures of the Owl & the Pussycat was highly commended for the Macmillan Children’s Prize in 2010. Since then I have gone on to illustrate many other picture books and I enjoy making the occasional card too. When I’m not in my studio I’m usually outside running or playing referee to my two kids.

Website: http://charlottecookeillustration.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlottecooke

Follow the Tour

owl and pussycat banner5

Monday 1st May

An Awfully Big Adventure

 

Tuesday 2nd May

Emma’s Bookery

 

Wednesday 3rd May

Luna’s Little Library

 

Thursday 4th May

Maia and a Little Moore

Sew Many Books

 

Friday 5th May

Live Otherwise

Library Girl and Book Boy

 

Saturday 6th May

Get Kids into Books

OBC Mini Book Reviewers

 

Sunday 7th May

A Little But A Lot

Varietat

 

Monday 8th May

Mum Friendly

Book Monsters

 

Tuesday 9th May

Tales of Yesterday

Wonderfully Bookish

 

Wednesday 10th May

Sam’s Book Corner

V Family Fun

 

Thursday 11th May

Acorn Books

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

 

Friday 12th May

Big Book Little Book

Fiction Fascination

 

Saturday 13th May

Linda’s Book Bag

Me, Him, The Dog and a Baby

 

Sunday 14th May

Rhino Reads

Readaraptor

 

Interview with Olivia Levez

Today on the blog I’m delighted to have Olivia Levez, whose debut YA novel The Island came out on 03/03/16 – check out my review here. Thakns for joining me today Olivia!

Where did your idea for The Island come from?

It came from looking through my school library for a new idea, after my dystopian fantasy was rejected. I was looking for what didn’t seem to be on the shelves, and for some reason desert islands and castaways came into mind.

But I think at the back of my mind I was yearning to escape to my caravan by the sea, too, where I am pretty much a castaway when I’m doing a serious ‘binge-writing’ session.

I have stayed on a real desert island called Tobacco Caye in Belize with my family, and also spent many happy childhood holidays on Sark, a tiny Channel island. My sister also lives in Ibiza, so I think island settings have a strong family connection!

Frances is a complex character and some of her actions mean she’s not always likeable – how did you get the balance right so you still end up rooting for her?

I think using first person present tense means that it is quite an intense experience, and the reader can’t help but feel empathy, being so close and in the character’s head. Lots of bad characters in fiction speak in first person, and we still root for them – in particular, I am a fan of Patricia Highsmith’s Mr Ripley, although Frances isn’t a sociopath! It is also written in stream-of-consciousness at times, where I’ve attempted to mirror exactly Fran’s thought processes as she gets to grips with her isolation on the island.

The flashback/memory scenes hopefully begin to unravel why Fran is so prickly and finds it difficult to connect with people. Mostly, though, it’s the relationship with her little brother and the pilot’s dog which show Fran’s softer side.

my real dog My real dog, who inspired Fran’s companion on The Island

How much research did you do into survival techniques?

I read books about real-life survivors, in particular Lucy Irvine, who famously answered an advert to be the wife of a man she had never even met, in order to spend a year as his companion on a desert island between New Guinea and Australia. I read her true-life, gritty account when on an island myself, the tiny island of Sark in the Channel Islands.

Lucy Irvine

Lucy Irvine, Castaway

I also read Ed Stafford’s book of his experience spending sixty days alone with only a video camera for company for his Naked and Marooned series on Discovery Channel. I learnt all about surviving on raw fish on an inflatable liferaft in the book, Adrift by Steve Callahan, where he recounts his experience spending seventy-six days lost at sea.

I am really interested in how survivalists have creative uses for ordinary objects, and loved how the writers of Cast Away, the 2000 film starring Tom Hanks, came up with ideas for the random objects which the main character, Chuck Nolan, finds inside Fed Ex packages cast up on the shore of his desert island. The story goes that they pooled ideas about what could be in the parcels, and then gave the list to survival experts, who told them how Chuck could use them on the island. So, an ice skate becomes an axe, a taffeta prom dress, a fishing net, and a volleyball his only companion.

Of course, I learnt a great deal from watching Youtube survival clips, everything from making a water filter out of a tampon to using a thorn to make a fish hook!

Joanna Lumley

Finally, I must mention the actor, Joanna Lumley, who in her TV reality show, Girl Friday, famously made cave shoes out of her bra. I couldn’t resist using this idea in my book. And here’s me, attempting my own version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EidLt90QXuo

You say on your website you did ‘method writing’ for The Island – can you tell us a bit more about that?

I wanted to get as real an experience as possible as I wrote the castaway scenes, but didn’t have the funds for a stay on a real desert island. I became a ‘caravan castaway’, holing myself up in my caravan in West Wales, with only my Jack Russell, Basil, for company. To mimic my character Fran’s food foraging, I decided to live only off what I found in my caravan cupboards: porridge oats, sardines and tomato cuppa soup. The only things I took with me were coconut water and a few oranges. Not to be recommended, but it did make me realise how living on a limited diet affects your mood, and I’ll always remember the excitement when I found half a packet of dusty sultanas at the back of the cupboard!

I wrote in situ wherever possible, using the Welsh woodland leading to our local beach as the jungle, and the long sandy beach with its melting sunsets as Fran’s desert island home.

Cardigan Bay

Clifftop walks in Cardigan Bay, West Wales

You can read about my method writing experience here:

http://writeforrealw4r.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/how-i-used-method-writing-for-island.html

Without any spoilers, what made you end the book in the way you did?

I wanted Fran’s experience to be as realistic as possible. I wrote the final scene long before I finished the book, and for a long time it was actually the first scene, with the island scenes as flashbacks. I saw the ending as a kind of tableau, ambiguous, but with hope too.

Is this the end of Frances’ story, or can we expect to hear more from her?

Hmmmmm. At the moment I’m working on another contemporary adventure book, but starring a runaway, rather than a castaway. Although the very early draft of The Island was called Blue, and I had ideas for Bluer, and Bluest (!) Frances’ story in its final form was written as a stand-alone.

How long do you think you would survive on a deserted island?

My children say not long at all, I’d be hopeless! But I like to think that I’d be incredibly good at it, and transform into a dread-locked wild strong survivor, stabbing fish with lightning quick speed.

And here are my quick fire questions to round off with:

What are you reading at the moment?

Affinity by Sarah Waters. It’s a creepy, Gothic tale of female Victorian prisons and seances and ghosts. Plus it has an unreliable narrator, which I love.

Favourite book as a child?

Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, although it terrified me.

Favourite writing drink and snack?

Any sort of herbal tea, especially if it’s aniseed-y, and I don’t eat when I’m writing because I wouldn’t stop! I sometimes chew gum.

5 desert island books?

War and Peace because it’s long, and I never got to finish it when I was at uni, which has always annoyed me.

A survival handbook, to tell me how to spot poisonous plants and fish

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Valley of Adventure by Enid Blyton

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Favourite place to read?

In the bath with a glass of wine.

Any hidden talents?

I got quite good at hula hooping, but am out of practice. I did hold the wheel pose in yoga for a few wobbly seconds last week though.

What fictional world would you love to live in?

Hogsmeade. Also, I’d like Moonface’s room on the Faraway Tree. Oh and Nutwood too, probably.

You can find Olivia Levez on Twitter @livilev and on her website: www.writeforrealw4r.blogspot.co.uk 

Purchase a copy of The Island here:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-island/olivia-levez/9781780748597

Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour – Interview with Holly Webb

Today I am excited to be taking part in the Return to the Secret Garden blog tour. Having joined in with the re-readalong for The Secret Garden, I was really excited to receive a copy of the book and get the chance to interview author Holly Webb on influences and decisions on writing a sequel to a classic children’s story. Plus keep reading until the end to find a giveaway where you can win a copy of The Secret Garden and Return to the Secret Garden!

 

Hi Holly and welcome to my blog. First off I’d like to ask, was it daunting to write a sequel for such a well loved classic?

Yes, very! I’m still quite surprised that I dared to do it…

Despite being sour and unpleasant, Mary and Colin are very lovable character. What do you think makes them so well liked?

Perhaps that they’re so believable? And you can hardly blame them for being horrible, when you think how lonely they must both have been. They work so well together in the book, too, they spark off each other brilliantly.

What was the hardest thing about writing Return to the Secret Garden?

Making decisions about what was going to happen to characters from the original book. I didn’t like some of the decisions, even though I knew they were right for the sequel.

Do you have a favourite classic children’s book (aside from The Secret Garden?)

Oh, lots. I really love A Little Princess, though.

What made you want to set the book at the outbreak of WWII?

When I first thought about a sequel, I realised that Mary, Colin and Dickon would have been in their teens at the outbreak of WWI. I didn’t want to continue their story so directly, but I realised that the war would have had a such a huge effect on their lives. So it would be particularly tragic for them to face another war. Also, making Emmie an evacuee was a very useful way to get her to Misselthwaite!

Does the ‘Magic’ of the garden make a return in this book?

There’s not as much emphasis on it as there is in the original – it’s mentioned in Mary’s diary entries, and Emmie wants to believe that the garden is magic. I felt it was there, and I so hope readers do.

What would be in your own secret garden?

When I was about eight or nine, we went to the Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley, and there was a summer house with wisteria growing all round it – so you could sit inside a curtain of wisteria. I would have one of those. In the book, Emmie daydreams a honeysuckle house for herself and Lucy, her cat. And I would have auriculas – they’re strange little relatives of primroses that come in amazing colours!

And here are my quick fire questions to round off with:

What are you reading at the moment?

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Favourite book as a child?

Hmm. Most re-read book was probably A Little Princess.

Favourite writing drink and snack?

Coffee and chocolate.

5 desert island books?

  1. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Night Waking by Sarah Moss
  3. Lirael by Garth Nix
  4. Traitor’s Purse by Margery Allingham
  5. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

Favourite place to read?

Bed.

Any hidden talents?

I can bend the top joints of my fingers. (Useless but fun.)

What fictional world would you love to live in?

Narnia.

About Holly Webb

Holly Webb_RTSG2

Holly Webb was one of the World Book Day authors for 2012 and has received high praise for her previous standalone fiction Looking for Bear, A Cat Called Penguin, The Chocolate Dog and A Tiger Tale. She published her 100th book, The Truffle Mouse, in August.

Website: http://www.holly-webb.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HollyKateSkeet

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyWebbOfficial

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/887961.Holly_Webb


About Return to the Secret Garden

Return to the Secret Garden

Summary:

It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

Title: Return to the Secret Garden

Author: Holly Webb

Release Date: October 1st 2015

Genre: Historical MG

Publisher: Scholastic UK

Format: Hardback and E-book

On Goodreads and Amazon UK 


Giveaway Information

Scholastic are giving away a copy of The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and a copy of Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb to one lucky blog tour follower! [UK AND IRL ONLY]

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Follow the Tour

To keep up with the blog tour for the rest of the week and catch up on any you might have missed, check out the tour poster and follow the links below.

RTSG Blog Banner FINAL

Monday 5th October

Ya Yeah Yeah

This Fleeting Dream

Tuesday 6th October

The Little Munchkin Reader

Powered by Reading

Wednesday 7th October

Serendipity Reviews

Maia and a Little Moore

Thursday 8th October

Pretty Books

Tales of Yesterday

Friday 9th October

The Bookish Outsider

Big Book Little Book

Saturday 10th October

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Sunday 11th October

Kirstyes

YA Under My Skin

Countdown to 7th May Blog Tour: Interview with Lucy Coats + GIVEAWAY

Today on the blog I’m really excited to have Lucy Coats as part of Jim’s Countdown to 7th May Blog Tour.
Lucy has written numerous books including picture books MG and YA fiction, but today we’re talking about her new YA book being released on 7th May: Cleo.

Cleo is a fast-paced re-imagining of Cleopatra’s life before she became the Pharaoh of legends. Check here for my review.

So, without further ado, here’s what Lucy had to say when I interviewed her about about Cleo
Hi Lucy, it’s great to have you here on my blog today. Your new book for young adults, Cleo tells the unknown story of Cleopatra, before she became the legendary figure that she is today. I’m going to kick off by asking you what made you want to tell that part of Cleopatra’s story?

 

About three years ago, I was reading a book about Cleopatra, and it occured to me that we know almost nothing about her life until she walks into recorded historical events as pharaoh. Basically, her early years are a great big hole in history – and there’s no greater gift to a writer than that.

Once I’d done a bit of digging, I found out Cleopatra had described herself as a living incarnation of the goddess Isis. Being a total mythology fanatic, that was the fact which lit a spark in my brain and made it start ticking away.

Writers always ask that ‘what if’ question – so I asked myself ‘what if Cleopatra really was helped to the throne by a goddess?’ Then I wondered how it would work to mix real history with a sprinkling of paranormal to explain how she became this amazing woman that we’re still talking about over two thousand years later? Her strong character must have been formed in that early part of her life – and immediately I had that thought, I was totally driven to tell that part of her story. The beginnings of Cleo were born in that moment.
How much of Cleo’s story is research based and how much was added in there by you?

 

That hole in history I just mentioned is pretty wide and deep. We don’t know exactly what year Cleo was born (maybe 60BC). We don’t even know for sure who her mother was either (possibly a concubine, a member of the pharaoh’s court – or maybe her own sister!). What IS certain is that her father was the pharaoh Ptolemy Auletes (the Flute Player), who got chucked out of Alexandria and exiled to Rome for spending too much money – and that she had three sisters (two of whom became pharaohs in place of their father), and two brothers.

So, to answer your question, there was a historical framework within which she existed – but no actual information about her. That gave a huge amount of leeway for me to imagine events in her life as I wanted them to happen. As long as I stuck to the known facts (and I researched her family and what they were up to at the time pretty intensively) then I was free to do more or less what I wanted to in terms of the story itself.
How did you find the voice for Cleo? It’s quite a bold step to give her such a modern-sounding voice – did you specifically want it that way or is that just how she came to you?

 

Thank goodness you asked – as I know a lot of people may be a bit puzzled by the way Cleo sounds. The thing is, we have no idea how the Ancient Egyptians would have talked, and I wasn’t ever going to write the book in formal court language!

When I started out, I was writing in third person. I got to twenty thousand words, and it was obvious to me that the voice wasn’t working at all. So I junked the whole thing and started again in first person. I could hear Cleo’s voice in my head right away – she just started talking to me like that, so I went with it.

As I was writing for teenagers, and Cleo is that age herself, I very much wanted her character to be accessible, to have the same sort of internal worries and fears about love and appearance and friendships that a modern teenager would have – except tuned to an Ancient Egyptian setting, obviously. I don’t think those very human concerns are things that change very much over the centuries.

You’re right, it was a bold step to give her a modern-sounding voice, and I know that may not be how everyone thinks Cleopatra would sound – but I really hope readers can get past that and understand that there IS no one definitive version of her. This is only my interpretation, and I stand by it proudly.

 

The setting for Cleo is obviously in Ancient Egypt – have you ever been to Egypt yourself? How much research did you have to do to recreate the places Cleo visits?

 

I have been to Egypt, but only to the Red Sea part, not the part where the book is set. I very much wanted to go back and sail down the Nile to get a proper feel for it, but sadly world events got in the way, and I was told it was too dangerous to do the kind of trip I was planning.

I’ve spent a LOT of time on research, though – I’m pretty obsessive about it, if truth be told, and have piles of books and a massive cache of weblinks to obscure writings on Ancient Egyptian life. Let’s not even get started about the time I’ve spent poring over maps of Alexandria, the Royal palace, the Nile and Google Earth-mapping the general topography of Egypt.

I wanted to make the settings as authentic as possible, so I went back to original sources where I could. Sometimes I had to stop myself, though. Researching is a bit like following a treasure trail – there’s always a new Fact of Great Usefulness to stumble across. I often have to give myself a shake and tell myself to get on with writing the damn book!

The gods and goddesses feature heavily in Cleo – did you always plan to make them a main part of your story?

 

Yes – myth geek that I am, that was always an essential element. The gods and goddesses got into every part of the Ancient Egyptians’ lives (and most certainly into their deaths, given the amazing household goods found in their graves, which they believed would go with them into the afterlife). I’ve just made them visible – to Cleo, at least – and able to act through their human intermediaries.

But I don’t believe in too much deus ex machina, so Cleo has to work things out on her own. She can’t rely on her patron goddess to fix things for her. It was important (and I hope character-building) for her to struggle to achieve what she needs to – and also that there be penalties for her straying off the path that has been set out for her. Power doesn’t come without price!
Cleo ends on one hefty cliffhanger – what made you decide to end her story there (for now)?

 

I know…I know☺. The answer is, Cleo had done what she needed to do for that particular bit of the story, and it just seemed the right place to stop. I’m mean like that <evil grin>. I’ve read so many books where I’m turning pages and shouting ‘Noooo! You CAN’T finish THERE!” at the writer – and for once I wanted the reader to shout at ME! Sorry (#notsorry).
What can we expect from the next installment in Cleo’s story? And when is it coming out?!

 

Well…it’s going to be called Chosen, and it’s coming in March 2016 (so not even a year to wait). I can’t tell you much, because *spoilers* but there’s going to be a lot of tension between Cleo and Khai (hot Librarian spy boy and the current love of her life, for those of you who’d like to know), an unexpected love story for Charm (Cleo’s best friend and body servant), and a meeting with someone who will feature largely in Cleo’s later life.

The setting moves away from Alexandria, and takes in the desert, the Great Green Sea (what the Ancient Egyptians called the Mediterranean) and Rome. Of course, there’s plenty of immortal action too. I’m just putting the final touches to the manuscript now, and I have to say, even I am very excited about it – and that’s having lived with it in my head for what seems like forever.
The cover for Cleo is really quite something (and actually one of the things that attracted me to it in the first place). Did you have much say on how that turned out? Is it how you imagined it would be or did you imagine something different?

 

A good cover is a treasure – and I’m so glad you like it. When I first saw it, my jaw literally dropped and I cried at its beauty (in a good way). The Orchard designer who worked on the book, Thy Bue, has done a stellar job, and I am so grateful to her. All I did was send my editor the Pinterest page I made for the book (you can see it here), and veto any pictures of pyramids – other than that, no input at all! I absolutely wasn’t expecting how it turned out – but I love it more than I can even tell you.  Luckily, everyone I’ve spoken to seems to feel the same way. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t like it.

A lot of your other stories are picture books/for younger readers – what made you want to try writing for an older audience?

 

I write for pretty much all ages – last year I had a picture book out, this year it’s four books in my new middle-grade Beasts of Olympus series, an early reader and Cleo. I guess that’s a bit unusual, but it all helps keep my writing brain active.

I’ve written one novel before, for the 9-12 age-group, but when the idea for Cleo came along I knew at once it was for an older audience. As I read a lot of YA (especially UKYA), it seemed like the right place for my writing to go, and I felt very comfortable doing it. 85,000 words is definitely a major commitment, though, and I do need much more thinking and planning time than for the younger books!
And here are my quick fire questions to round off with:
What are you reading at the moment?

 

I’m reading the proof of Stone Rider, a debut UKYA dystopian from David Hofmeyr which is coming in June. Absolutely loving it so far. It’s kind of Hunger Games meets Star Wars podracing meets The Road!
Favourite book as a child?

 

Charles Kingsley’s The Heroes (Greek myths, of course!) and also The Secret Garden. i identified with that one because I was a quite lonely only child who spent a lot of time mooching around gardens.
Favourite writing drink and snack?

 

Either Earl Grey tea (no sugar and must be Williamson’s – I’m fussy about tea), or a pint glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Snacks are strawberry shortcake or chocolate (Maranon from Peru when I can get it – but any if not. Chocolate is a writing necessity).
5 desert island books?

 

J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the RIngs; Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea quintet; Robin McKinley’s Rose Daughter; Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths; Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller series. Oops. That’s six *slaps own wrist*. You may have noticed I’m also a fantasy geek.
Favourite place to read?

 

In bed, snuggled under the duvet with a hot water bottle and a dog for company.
Any hidden talents?

 

I can roll my eyes in different directions (I don’t do it often because it’s been known to make people feel a bit sick).
What fictional world would you love to live in?

 

Ooh! What a great question. This is something I think about a lot, and I can never decide. Probably somewhere like Robin McKinley’s Damar, or Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci or Dark Lord of Derkholm worlds (I mean – griffin brothers and sisters. How cool is that?). I like the idea of a magical and quasi-historical ‘world next door but one’, which is what I have on my Twitter profile as the place I live. (I’d have to be one of the magic users, though – that kind of goes without saying). I also have my very own like-to-live-in world in my head, with bits stolen from all the books I love best. If only…

 


Massive thanks to Lucy for taking part today.

You can pre-order Cleo here and visit Lucy’s website here.

And now for something even more exciting (if you think you can handle more excitement!)

Lucy is very kindly giving away a copy of Cleo and an awesome Cleo mug to one lucky entrant of this giveaway. You can enter below via some of the usual means, plus a few Egyptian themed questions to spice things up a bit.

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UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour: Interview with Rachel Ward

The UKYA Extravaganza is a (sold out) event at Birmingham High Street Waterstones, organised by Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass. Today is my turn on the UKYA Extravanganza Blog Tour, which has been going since the start of February and will be ending next week, after the event itself.

On my blog today we have Rachel Ward, author of the Numbers trilogy and The Drowning and Water Born which we’ll talk a little about below.

So without further ado, here we go:


Hi Rachel, it’s great to have you hear on my blog today. You’re my first ever author interview and it’s even more special because it’s for the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour! I’m going to kick off by asking what you think is so important about UKYA?


Thanks so much for having me on your blog – I’m honoured to be your first author interview! When I started out ‘YA’ wasn’t really a thing, or at least it was just a thing in the USA. Over the last couple of years UKYA has definitely become a force to be reckoned with. It feels like a real community of writers, readers, bloggers, librarians and publishers and it’s a lovely thing to be part of. Writing in the UK is really strong and the UKYA label helps to promote that.

 

What are you most looking forward to about the UKYA Extravaganza event?


I’m ridiculously excited about the Extravaganza! It’s a chance to catch up with some old friends and to meet a lot of people – writers, bloggers, readers – that I’ve only ‘met’ on Twitter or Facebook. I think it’s going to be intense, fun and exhausting!

 

If you had to pick a book/series to encourage someone new to read UKYA, what would you choose and why?


Ooh, that’s so tricky. There are so many to choose from. The only YA (if that’s what it is) book I read before writing Numbers was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I’d recommend the His Dark Materials series to anyone. I’d also recommend anything by Kevin Brooks.

 

I recently read and reviewed your books The Drowning and Water Born, which both have water playing a rather sinister part in the story. What’s your relationship like with water?


Well, I used to be a keen swimmer, but I haven’t been to the local pool since I started writing Water Born! I only realised very recently that my relationship with water is probably clouded by falling backwards into a paddling pool and almost drowning when I was a tot. It’s one of my earliest memories. However I love swimming, so I should really get back to the pool …

 

There’s a big time gap between the events in The Drowning and Water Born. What made you want to write about Carl and Neisha again much later in their life, and why did you choose to do it from their daughter’s point of view?


I love writing sequels which skip to the next generation. It allows me to explore an idea from a different character’s perspective and I love finding out how life has worked out for my teenage characters as they become adults. I picked Nic for Water Born as I always have a teenager as my central character, and I was interested to see her view of her parents.

 

Is Water Born the end of Carl and Rob’s story, or can we expect to see a third book in the series?


Water Born is the end of the line for Carl and Rob.


If not can you say anything about what you’re working on at the moment?


I’m working on a detective story/thriller in space at the moment. I’m very excited about it. It’s got potential to be a really cracking story. I hope I can do it justice. I’ve done the first draft and now I’m playing with the plot and characters in a second draft.


Did you always want to be a writer or were there any other ambitions you harboured when you were younger?


Not at all. When I was younger I wanted to be a farmer or an estate agent. I only started writing in my mid-thirties on a whim really, to see if I could do it.


Do you find it easy when you’re writing a story or do you have to discipline yourself to get it all out on paper (or the screen, I guess)?


I’ve been a full-time writer for three years, and, to be honest, writing was easier when I had a day job. Although I was much more stressed and unpleasant to live with, I didn’t have any trouble settling down to write. I used to do 45 minutes every morning before waking everyone else up and going to work. Now that I’ve got more time, I have to set myself word targets e.g. 1000 words a day, in order to make progress. It’s also not easy translating the ideas in my head onto paper. The process of putting something into words is surprisingly frustrating, but fascinating.



I know you probably get this one a lot, but what advice would you give to an aspiring author?
A book takes a long time to write, so you’ve got to write about something you’re really interested in and with characters that you care about. Try and write every day. Have a notebook with you or make notes on your phone and write down descriptions of people or scenes you see when you are out and about. You never know when they’ll come in handy. Don’t be too obsessed about writing – have other things in your life too – and enjoy it!


And a few quick fire questions to round off with:

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by Chris Hadfield partly as research for my book and also because I saw him speak last year and he was awesome. Before that I read ‘Five Children on the Western Front’ by Kate Saunders which I thought was wonderful.

Favourite book as a child?

I didn’t read as a mid-late teen, but my favourite book before I stopped reading was ‘Fly-by-night’ by K.M. Peyton. As a little child, I loved the Noggin the Nog books and ‘The Land of Green Ginger’.

Favourite writing drink and snack?

Coffee (either decaf or half and half) from my lovely coffee machine in the morning. Maybe a chocolaty treat to go with. Diet Coke in the afternoon with a sneaky Popchip or two. I was vegan for January and swapped chocolate for almonds and carrot sticks. I should probably do that again.


5 desert island books?
 
This is the hardest question! Why are you torturing me like this? Okay.
1. The notebook I kept as a sort of diary when my children were little, which records cute/horrific things they did or said, plus first words, etc.
2. The Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary because I could learn new words or use random words as a starter for stories, plus one of the compilers was my sister and I’m very proud of her
3. The complete works of Shakespeare. I’ve never got on with Shakespeare, but I suspect I’m missing out. Being on a desert island might give me the time to study him and try and appreciate him more.
4. A compendium of detective stories 5. Another compendium of great UKYA!

Favourite place to read?

I read in bed before I go to sleep. I’m very good at falling asleep, although I have the annoying habit of waking super-early, so sometimes it takes me a long time to get through a book. The sign that I’m really gripped by a book is when I find time to read during the day, curled up on the sofa with my dog or tucked into bed with a microwavable owl.

Any hidden talents?

Well, it’s not very hidden because I keep telling people about it, but I started painting last year and I’m really enjoying it. I also take lots of photographs of Bath when I’m out and about with my dog, Misty, and tweet them (@RachelWardbooks).

What fictional world would you love to live in?

 

I’d be very happy to live on the island in ‘The Summer Book’ by Tove Jansson for a while. I’m also fond (at least in theory) of cold, snowy places, so I’d like to spend time in the world of ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’ or ‘The Snow Child’ although I think the reality would be pretty harsh.
Thank you so much to Rachel for being here today, and to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for organising the UKYA Extravaganza. I can’t wait to see everyone at the event next week!
 
If you’d like to follow the blog tour or catch up on any posts you might have missed, all the bloggers and authors can be found in the picture below.