Posts Tagged ‘Book Tour’

Wild Boy Blog Tour: No fun at the fair

Rob Lloyd Jones joins us today to share the inspiration behind the fairground setting of his middle grade book, Wild Boy.

wild boy coverLondon, 1841
A boy covered in hair, raised as a monster, condemned to life in a travelling freak show.
A boy with extraordinary powers of observation and detection.
A boy accused of murder; on the run; hungry for the truth.
BEHOLD THE SAVAGE SPECTACLE OF WILD BOY!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, take your seats. The show is about to begin.

Hello, and thanks for having me on Big Book Little Book!

So, fairgrounds eh? Whirling rides, whoops of laughter, nostrils flaring at the sickly sweet aroma of candyfloss. We all love them, right?

Not me. Not anymore.

I always wanted to write a mystery set around a fairground. I knew the hero would be a performer in a freak show; a boy covered in hair and confined to a showman’s caravan. He would dream of being different, sneaking through the fairground to spy on people he considered ‘normal’. But he would be tough, his character forged from years of standing up to bullies. That meant his world – the fairground – had to be a tough place too. Well, I thought, I could make that bit up. It’s a story after all.

Then I read Seventy Years a Showman – the memoirs of legendary Victorian showman Lord George Sanger – and I thought, ‘Yikes! I’m going to have to tone this down a little’.

Sanger’s tales of life on a travelling fair hold no punches. In fact they are filled with punches, and whippings and knife fights and scams and swindles. His was a mud-splattered world of rickety caravans and saggy-roofed tents, where ruffians marauded along paths picking fights, and cutthroats lurked in the shadows.

Sanger (who wasn’t a real lord, he just gave himself that title) packs his account with astonishing, gasp-inducing tales such as his run-in with a body snatcher, or the unbelievably rough justice – Showman’s Law – dealt to a gang of roughs that attacked the fairground. My favourite story, though, is the ‘Battle of Oxford Road’ – a bust up between rival fairs in which, “Even the freaks took part. The Fat Man made for the Living Skeleton with a door hook; the Living Skeleton battered at the Fat Man with a peg mallet.”

The more I read about Victorian fairgrounds the more I realised just how tough my hero – Wild Boy – had to be to survive, especially after he’s framed for murder. But I was determined that he would survive, and prove his innocence. It wouldn’t be easy – stalked by bounty hunters, a hooded killer, and a secret society with a sinister machine. But he wouldn’t face the terrors alone. He has a friend, a circus star called Clarissa, who’s as tough and foul-mouthed as anyone at the fair. And all those hours that Wild Boy spent spying on people at the fair, reading them for clues to their lives, also taught him a particular skill.

He is the greatest detective of his time.

Post by Robb Lloyd Jones

Wild Boy will be published on the 4th of April by Walker Books

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Geek Girl Blog Tour: Book Extract

Both Daisy (11) and I (31 and 1/2) absolutely adore Geek Girl, the hilarious and touching contemporary, by debut author Holly Smale. We are equal parts honoured and delighted share this glimpse of Harriet Manners (from chapter 11) in all of her list making, uncoordinated, geeky glory.

geek girlHarriet Manners knows a lot of things.
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.
As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.
And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

People Who Hate Harriet Manners


Alexa Roberts


Hat Lady


Owners of stalls 24D 24E 24F 24G 24H

I try to blame Nat’s coat dangling on the floor, but Hat Lady is having none of it. There is a lot of squeaking: mine, mostly, followed by hers. And then the crowd gets suddenly bigger.

Apparently I haven’t just knocked over the hat table. Her stall has dominoed into the stall next to it, which has dominoed into the stall next to that, and before I know what’s happening there are six stalls, strewn creatively over the floor, with me lying in a heap in the middle. It’s the fault of those silly fake partitions, in my opinion. They just aren’t stable enough.

Clearly, neither am I.

“This is why I didn’t want you to touch the hats,” Hat Lady is screaming at me as I struggle to get up.

Every time I put my hand down, something crunches. And not in a good-crunch kind of way. In a hand- through-hat kind of way. “You’ve ruined everything!”

From my position on the floor I can see that the tables have crushed at least seven hats, and another three have been hit by the jug of water on one of the now tipped-over chairs. Along with the sign. Another four hats have shoe-shaped dents in them and footprints on the brim. I’m sitting on at least three.

OK, she has a point.

“I’m sorry,” I’m saying over and over again (crunch, crunch, crunch). Everywhere I look are the faces of people who don’t seem to like me very much. “I’m really sorry. I’ll pay for it. I’ll pay for all of it.”

I have no idea how, but I suspect it’s going to involve a lot of car washing and about six hundred years’ worth of groundings.
“It’s not enough,” the woman yells. “This is my biggest sale day of the year! I need to attract a client base!”
I look around briefly. From the size of the crowd, she’s definitely attracted something.

“I’m sorry,” I say again, with my face flaming – because I really, truly, honestly am – and I’m just about to burst into guilty tears when a man wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and a jaunty black hat leans forward and grabs hold of my hand.

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with me,” he says firmly. Then he looks at Hat Lady. “Don’t worry, Sugar,” he adds. “She’s going to pay for the hats. I’ll make sure of it personally.” And he starts leading me away from the carnage.

I gape at him, totally speechless.

So far today, I have nearly died of my own fake illness, fallen over – three times – been shouted at, humiliated, vomited on, abandoned and I’ve managed to trash an entire section of an indoor market. And now, just at the point where I thought it was impossible for things to get worse…

I’ve just been arrested.
***

Massive thanks go to the team at HarperCollins Children’s books for giving us permission to share this excerpt with you today.

Geek Girl by Holly Smale was published on the 28th February and is available now in paperback (£6.99) and e-book formats.

Read Daisy’s review of Geek Girl here.

Posted by Caroline

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Self Published Sunday: Interview with Sarah Billington

For this weeks Self Published Sunday feature we are delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington

When sixteen year old Poppy Douglas writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki, she has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global.
A local band picks up her song from Youtube and soon she’s along for the ride with her own fanbase as they blow up on the local club scene and hit the international charts. Though it turns out leaving Cam behind isn’t as easy as she had hoped.
Tangled in a web of unfinished homework, ill-considered sexting and a new lead-singer boyfriend, Poppy has a choice to make between the ex that inspired it all and the rock God whose poster lines the inside of half the lockers at school. But as she struggles to keep her emotional dirty laundry private, she learns that the truth can be hard to find when your life is in the headlines.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m very into paranormal investigation shows at the moment. Partly because I go through phases in which I think my house is haunted. Which might be because I watch so many paranormal investigation shows. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it. I go out for dinners with friends a lot, and head down to the country/beach and spend a couple of days at my parents’ house visiting my dog, their dog, and my parents. But really my dog is my main priority.

What inspired you to become a writer? When and why did you begin to write?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I remember lying in front of the heater as a kid and I’d fallen asleep, face down on my stories, pages and pages of loose leaf paper I used to write on. The house was always littered with paper and notebooks.
Current work.

What was your inspiration for The Kiss Off?
Modern technology and an interest in the psychology of popularity and fame. I find it interesting how ordinary people these days can become famous just for being themselves. I’m not talking about them auditioning for reality shows, but just normal people on youtube for instance, going viral or gaining fan bases when they were just being their quirky selves. I’m specifically thinking of youtubers Charlie is so cool like and Jenna Marbles right now. This is the basis for what happens to Poppy in The Kiss Off. She’s doing what she loves and it explodes.

What research did you do for this book?
I watched a lot of Youtube! I watched a lot of behind the scenes videos by bands so I could get an idea of what it’s really like on the road, going to interviews etc, and how they feel about fame and fans. I used to read a lot of magazines and even did an analytical essay on the content of a bunch of celebrity gossip magazines so I gained a lot of insight into what would potentially happen in Poppy’s situation.

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
I don’t base characters specifically on people I know, but I sometimes steal aspects of people I know, personality traits and blend them with other personality traits to create my characters.
I have been told that my authorial voice sounds very much like me as a person, and Poppy, the protagonist in The Kiss Off is like me in that she might fall over things just because there was something to fall over, I actually feel like one of her best friends, Vanya is the most like me as a teen.

Something that happens to Vanya fairly early on in the book did happen to me, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time. I got off a bus after school and changed my mind and was getting back on when the door closed on my foot and the driver started driving away. I was hopping along outside the bus, so sure I was going to fall and be run over when the driver stopped, opened the door and I scurried away, quite sure I’d had enough of buses for the day, thank you very much.

This happens to Vanya in the book, but she’s inside the bus and her backpack gets caught in the door so she’s kind of dangling inside the crowded bus. This exact thing did happen all the time with one particular bus driver after school. Boy he hated teenagers.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing The Kiss Off 2! Poppy and friends (though not necessarily who you’d expect) go to a summer music festival and the non-spoilery way of putting it is that shenanigans are afoot. There are more boys in bands, fan girls, stalkerish types, fainting in front of famous people, accidental nude swimming and one wicked sun burn.

What is your writing process?
I don’t follow a routine, and that sometimes doesn’t exactly work in my favour. I try not to have a routine, so that whatever time of day it is, wherever I am, the words should flow easily. But by not having a routine I don’t necessarily write regularly which is pretty annoying, really. When I’m writing, it’s usually either on my netbook in bed or at my desk in my office. Bed’s more comfy, though. ☺

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
I’m not a coffee person – I know, a writer who doesn’t drink coffee? And I can’t write with music playing because I get all distracted by the awesome music and the lyrics and the stories in them. Chocolate and soft drinks do help fuel me though. And honey roasted macadamias.

What prompted you to self publish?
At university we had to do a major assignment on a form of digital publishing and I’d been hearing of more and more success stories in self publishing so I decided that for my major assignment I would make an ebook. And it started selling. I ended up making six for that assignment. I got a High Distinction. ☺

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
Self publishing can be pretty exhausting, as though having control over every aspect is really liberating, it’s also time consuming. And brain power consuming. I design my own cover art and format my own ebooks, I am responsible for distribution, marketing and all expenses. Some days it’s easier than others.

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
I tend to have an overabundance of ideas. Too many books I want to write and I have to accept that many of the books inside me just won’t get written as I get more ideas all the time.

Sometimes I do, however, get stuck in how to get from one point to the next in a convincing and exciting way in a novel. I go for walks and try to quiet my brain. These days there are so many things that keep our brains occupied, we move from one activity to the next to the next. We listen to music in the car or on the train, have the TV playing as we eat meals, it’s crowded. I don’t tend to just stop and think very often. Walking helps a lot with that. It helps me nut out plot problems and get me fired up again.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Even if you think what you’re writing is crap, you’re learning what not to do. You’re learning how to do it better. Make mistakes. Make mistakes so that you can learn how to do it better. Persevere. Failure only happens when you stop trying. It’s hard. It’s really hard, but it’s worth it.
Genre

Why did you choose to write Young Adult fiction?
Young Adult fiction chose me. When I became an adult, I felt like I was supposed to write for grown ups. I needed to write something literary, that had merit, that was beautiful and poetic. But that’s not who I am as a person. I’m messy and I make mistakes and I embarrass myself all the time. And even though I was this big old woman at the grand old age of 21, I still enjoyed watching teen movies and could still relate to the issues that are in teen books. I may be a grown up but I relate more to teenagers. I went to a weekend YA writing workshop and it finally hit me that I may an adult, but it’s perfectly legitimate for me to be more interested in writing for teenagers. I’ve never looked back.

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I have to just accept it. My voice is really contemporary and sarcastic. I really want to write a scary paranormal investigation book but the first ghost I ended up writing was the ghost of a woman’s teenage son. He was scaring the beejezus out of his mum because he thought it was hysterical.
That’s not scary. That’s typical of me. I’m trying to embrace it. ☺

Which books have inspired you?
John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began series was a huge inspiration for me as a teen. And Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series. These books really made me want to be an author. These days Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books and Brent Crawford’s Carter series really teach me a lot about writing comedy. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy taught me to be brave and put my characters through the ringer and James Dashner’s Maze Runner taught me a lot about plot and turning it on its head ALL. THE. TIME.

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden. It’s about time I read that series again.

What are you currently reading?
I am halfway through three books right now. It would be so great if I could pick one and stick with it, but the siren song of awesome books calls to me. I’m so weak.

I’m reading That Boy by Jillian Dodd, Skylark by Meagan Spooner and Ghost Huntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.

Just for Fun…
Paper, Audio or eBook?

I LIKE paper books, but I move house a lot and MAN ebooks are lighter. Audio Books are a real hit and miss for me. I’ve listened to some that I’ve really looked forward to, but I haven’t connected with the narrator’s reading style so didn’t enjoy the book, or didn’t finish it. The voice actor shouldn’t be a barrier between me liking or disliking a book.

If The Kiss Off was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)?
I haven’t actually thought about this a whole lot, so I don’t have everyone down, but I can see Alexz Johnson as Poppy, Nick Roux as Ty and I think Jillian Rose Reed (Tamara from Awkward) would be freaking hilarious as Mads.

If The Kiss Off had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
McFly, All Time Low, Simple Plan, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Hot Chelle Rae, probably a bit of Ke$ha as well.

Tea or Coffee?
Iced coffee.

Slippers or barefoot?
Barefoot

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Never had Marmite, but love Vegemite. Does that count?

Email or postcard?
Email

Sarah Billington is an Australian writer and editor who likes to write stories with love, laughs, suspense and zombies. Sometimes all in the same story. Her favouritest thing to write about are those horrendously awkward moments that come with being a teenager. Or a human being. Sarah was extremely accident-prone and klutzy as a kid and teen, so her cup runneth over with experiences of horrendously awkward moments to draw from in her writing. Thankfully, she has grown out of her klutziness. Mostly. She is, however, still an embarrassment.
She loves a variety of random things, which include Swing Dancing, Ice Hockey, Roller Derby and is a bit obsessive about paranormal investigation shows and channel E!.
To learn more about Sarah and her writing visit her website, her blog or follow Sarah on Facebook, Goodreads and/or Twitter

The Kiss Off is available to buy now from Amazon.uk, Smashwords and The Book Depository

Sarah is giving away a copy of The Kiss Off over at Goodreads. Click on the widget to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington

The Kiss Off

by Sarah Billington

Giveaway ends December 07, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Insurgent

Veronica Roth

War looms in sixteen-year-old Tris’s dark dystopian world as disputes between the factions grow. Tris must now fight against all odds to discover the truth that can save her and the people she loves. Sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge – and the choices she makes will have devastating and unexpected consequences.

If you have read Divergent (and if you haven’t look away! and check out our review) you will know that Tris, at age 16, went through the choosing ceremony and made a choice to leave her own faction of Abnegation and join Dauntless. Then later on we find out that her simulation results indicated that she had an aptitude for 3 factions and could have chosen any one of them – that she was in fact Divergent. That choice has led her on a roller coaster of an adventure, as she went through the violent Dauntless initiation process, was picked on for her size and quickly learnt who her enemies were. She also begins to realise that all is not well between the five factions and that in fact a war is coming.

Insurgent takes up where Divergent left off, with Tris and Tobias heading for the safety of Amity after the horrific Erudite attack. There is no recapping so it may be an idea to have a re-read of Divergent first to remind yourself of where the story is up to. Insurgent is fast paced and keeps you gripped. I have to keep reminding myself that Tris is just a mere 16 years old, one who has lost her parents and whose life is at risk for her Divergent qualities.

Divergent introduces us to the five factions; Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. In Insurgent we get to know each faction better. Although each has their own particular set of beliefs and morals, there is a consequence for holding those ideals so highly. For example, Candor values honesty, but yet they value it so highly that they have no thought to the damage that it might cause. Dauntless are free and value bravery but their chaotic way of life and complete recklessness leads to much unnecessary damage and death.

There is much fighting and loss and Tris is truly on a journey as she battles, not only to find out the ‘truth’ and what the significance of the ‘Divergent’ is, but also to battle her inner demons as she comes to terms with all that has happened. She seems increasingly reckless and finds it hard to make the right choice as her guilt and grief threaten to overwhelm her and at times I admit to getting frustrated with her and wanting to shout at her!

Tris and Tobias (Four) seem more apart than they are together for a lot of the book as they battle their demons separately and find it hard to trust and completely let go and be honest with each other about what they are each dealing with. Yet their underlying commitment to each other despite everything is very touching but it’s heart breaking at times as Tris is so conflicted as she wants to reach out and touch Tobias and be close to him, yet constantly holds back because of her pain and confusion. There is a lot of emotion going on that sweeps you right up with it. Phew!

The last few chapters are pretty relentless and I even confess to getting a wee bit confused and having to go back and re-read a few pages there is so much going on! There is a twist in the end… not completely unpredictable but it’s left me musing over society and its ills and how easily society could get to this place. Scary stuff!

Verdict: This is a fast paced and very gripping sequel to Divergent. I completely loved Divergent and still love it a little more than Insurgent, but am hooked on the story as a whole and cannot wait for the final part of the Trilogy to make its appearance next year.

This post is part of the Team #CANDORUK campaign for #INSURGENTUK

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Harper Collins children’s
Publication Date: May 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 525
Genre: Dystopian, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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