Anita Loughrey's blog. This is my journal about my experiences and thoughts on writing. As well as news about me and my books, it includes writing tips, book reviews, author interviews and blog tours.
For more information about me and my books see my website: www.anitaloughrey.com. Follow me on Twitter @amloughrey, Facebook @anitaloughrey.author and on Instagram @anitaloughrey
It is my stop today on the The Goddess of Nothing At All by Cat Rector blog tour. My stop on the tour consists of a spotlight of the book and author.
The Goddess of Nothing At All is a queer dark fantasy Norse myth retelling, published by Tychis Media.
This book was 2nd place Finalist in BBNYA 2022. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or Twitter @bbnya_official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.
The author of The Goddess of Nothing At All, Cat Rector, grew up in a small Nova Scotian town and could often be found simultaneously reading a book and fighting off muskrats while walking home from school. She devours stories in all their forms, loves messy, morally grey characters, and writes about the horrors that we inflict on each other.
After spending nearly a decade living abroad, she returned to Canada with her spouse to resume her war against the muskrats. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing video games, spending time with loved ones, or staring at her To Be Read pile like it’s going to read itself.
Join me for the birthday celebrations of Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks by Sally Fetech in what has been an amazing blog tour.
Author Sally Fetouh was inspired to write this touching story by her own daughter who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. Two years ago, after reading a different story about a girl with Down syndrome to her daughter’s preschool class, Sally says:
“The children were so engaged in the story and asked questions. They were very accepting and loving of their friend—my daughter. I left with a heart overflowing with emotion and that inspired me to write my story.”
Sally’s cheerful text and whimsical illustrations bring alive this heart-warming story of kindness and inclusion featuring a character with Down syndrome.
When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to put on socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school. They are always kind and patient with Jana when they play together. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend. This calls for a school sock parade! All of the children had so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they gave a very special and huge gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a box of more socks.
My stop on this fantastic tour will take the form of an author interview.
Happy Birthday for Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks. Welcome to my blog, Much To Do About Writing.
Tell us a little bit about your picture book and how you developed your main character.
When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to wear socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school, who all want a pair when they see them. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend until there are none left. This calls for a school sock parade!
All of the children have so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they give Jana a very special gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a huge box of socks!
‘Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks’ showcases a beautiful experience at school, exemplifying acceptance and friendship. I was inspired to write this touching story by my own daughter, Jana, who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. I wanted to base the character on someone who has Down syndrome and even though ‘Down syndrome’ is not mentioned in the story, some readers may be able to recognise and relate to some traits. For example, Jana doesn’t say as many words as her friends or she’s slower than her friends when they race. I wanted to include all these aspects in the character, while championing the strengths that children with Down syndrome have in their kindness, empathy and huge sense of fun.
What are the underlying themes of Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks?
The main themes are that of inclusion, acceptance, kindness and friendship. The story aims to show children that even though we may be all different, we are still the same in the way we want to have friends, play, learn and have fun. The analogy of socks plays on this, where the socks were all different, but they were still the same thing – socks!
What inspired you to use socks to highlight differences?
Down syndrome is about having an extra chromosome, and chromosomes are shaped like socks. I was inspired by Down Syndrome International’s #lotsofsocks campaign that happens every year on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 where the whole global community gets together and wears their brightest, craziest, most mismatched socks to celebrate the extra chromosome.
What have you discovered about the publishing process since Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks launched last year?
It’s a journey that requires a lot of continuous hard work in terms of marketing and publicity to keep the book alive in the sense that I’m trying to get more parents, teachers and librarians interested in it. Trying to get the word out there about the book and the message behind it is part of this process and it doesn’t stop.
What writing tip would you give to people aspiring to write a picture book?
Think like a child (of the age you are targeting) and write from that perspective. Focus on the story first and invest in a great editor. The illustrations will follow on naturally from that.
To find out more about Sally Fetouh and her book, Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks on her website is www.sallyfetouh.com/book. There is also a list of online retailers who stock the book, and some information about the illustrator, Alexis Schnitger.
Today it is my turn on the blog tour for Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani. This tour is part of the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA). This year, the BBNYA is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.
If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website: https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.
Sunbolt is a young adult fantasy about an orphan called Hitomi. The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life. Sunbolt is publsihed by Purple Monkey Press.
The author, Intisar Khanani, grew up a nomad and world traveller. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah, on the coast of the Red Sea. Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles, and the Dauntless Path novels, beginning with Thorn.
My stop on the Sunbolt tour takes the form of an author interview.
Welcome to my blog. It is with great pleasure that I end your magnificent blog tour for Sunbolt with an author interview.
Tell us a little about your writing career and your latest novel, Sunbolt?
I’ve had a pretty varied writing career – I indie published my first novel, Thorn, back in 2012, and then jumped into writing The Sunbolt Chronicles. Then in 2017, HarperTeen picked up Thorn, along with a companion novel (that accidentally turned into a duology). I just put out the last book in the duology – A Darkness at the Door – last summer, and am cycling back around to this series. I’m re-releasing Sunbolt as well as Book 2 through a lovely little indie co-op called Snowy Wings Publishing (yay new cover!) in the lead-up to getting out Book 3. So I’ve done both indie, trad, and hybrid publishing (that last one was indie for North America, and trad through the UK!), and am excited to back in the indie sphere for this series!
What are the underlying themes of your novel, Sunbolt?
Sunbolt has a few different themes at play—from belonging and in-group/out-group relations, to colonization of the mind, to learning to make allies in the most unlikely places (by which I also mean, compassion). I’m sure some readers will also find other things that speak to them—for example, Hitomi deals with grief from both parent death and abandonment. While that’s a smaller thread, it’s definitely there.
What is your favourite thing about writing for young adults?
Young adults are questioning the underpinnings of their world, their looking sideways at authority and pushing back at injustice, and experiencing so many things for the first time. They also pack a lot of hope for the future—they’re not giving up, they haven’t hit some kind of overblown cynical middle-age where they just throw the towel in. Not at all. They’ve got their fire and their not afraid to use it. They’re an amazing group to write for, and having the chance to explore those realities through my writing is an absolute gift.
Is there an aspect of writing for young adults you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Not really. I’ve learned a lot as I’ve been writing, but I don’t have any major regrets as yet. I think just bearing in mind that writing is a journey, as is learning your craft, is a great help. None of us can get everything right the first time, or even the fifth. That’s okay! Just do your best, both in telling your story and making sure you do no harm in doing so.
What’s your favourite writing snack or drink?
I really love a flavored hot chocolate! I mix up my own varieties, as I tend to like less sweetener in my chocolate. Right now my two favorites are peppermint hot chocolate and a spicy blend that includes ginger, cinnamon, and red pepper (plus more!).
How did you celebrate when you finished Sunbolt?
I don’t tend to celebrate too much beyond grabbing a bowl of ice cream. XD For me, a lot of the satisfaction is in doing the work. But some of my happiest moments are getting tagged on reviews where the story meant something special to a reader. I always hope for that with my stories, and there have definitely been a couple of really special (to me) reviews that I think back to for Sunbolt.
What are your social media links where can people find out about you and your books?
I use the handle @booksbyintisar pretty much anywhere I go. Right now I’m most active on Instagram @booksbyintisar and Twitter @booksbyintisar … though really, I’ve been reducing my social media usage overall to help both my mental health and my writing time (talk about a time suck!). That said, I do have a monthly newsletter where I love to chat with readers and also share my news, and currently have a new story going out a chapter a month to subscribers. You can find out more at booksbyintisar.com/newsletter.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog for the last stop of your Sunbolt blog tour.
Today it is my turn on the blog tour for Inheriting Her Ghosts by S. H. Cooper. This tour is part of the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA). This year, the BBNYA is celebrating the 55 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.
If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website: https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.
Inheriting Her Ghosts is a Victorian gothic horror novella. Eudora Fellowes discovers she’s the sole heir of her estranged great-aunt’s seaside manor house High Hearth, so leaves her childhood home with her two faithful hounds hoping for a peaceful escape and a new start.
But High Hearth is a place of tragedy and deception, and Eudora discovers that the secret to her great-aunt’s clandestine history lies behind the door with no key. She soon realises Inheritance often comes with strings attached, but rarely are they as tangled as those hanging over High Hearth. What awaits is a dark legacy shrouded in half a century of secrets. It doesn’t take long before Eudora realizes she’s not the only one to call High Hearth home.
The author, S.H. Cooper is a Florida based, multi-genre author with a focus on horror and fantasy. Her work has been published by Sleepless Sanctuary Publishing, Cemetery Gates Media, and Brigids Gate Press. In addition to short story collections and novels, she is also the writer for the horror comedy podcast, Calling Darkness.
When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing, talking about writing, or sleeping (wherein she dreams about writing). She is kept up and running through the tireless efforts of her extremely supportive family and coffee. Her horror novel, Inheriting Her Ghosts, is published by Sleepless Sanctuary Publishing on the 9th July 2021
My stop on the tour involves an interview with the author, S. H. Cooper about the writing of Inheriting Her Ghosts.
Welcome to my blog. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by me as part of the penultimate stops of your blog tour for your haunting new book Inheriting Her Ghosts.
Tell us a little about yourself and the inspiration for your book Inheriting Her Ghosts.
I’m an American author of horror and fantasy. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, completing my first novel-length manuscript (which would much later become my YA fantasy novel, The Knight’s Daughter) at eleven years old. While I’ve always loved horror as a genre, I didn’t start writing it until 2016, when my sister suggested I check out the NoSleep subReddit to combat a long bout of writer’s block. It worked like magic and suddenly the words were flowing! Since then, I’ve published a slew of short stories, six books, co-edited two anthologies, and co-wrote a podcast.
Inheriting Her Ghosts drew inspiration particularly from Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 film, Crimson Peak. I’ve always been drawn to haunted houses and the gothic flair of both works struck a chord with me. The story of IHG came quite unexpectedly as I’d not done much in the gothic vein, and never anything Victorian. One day, I just heard a very distinct voice in my head (that sounded exactly like voice actress Erika Sanderson of The NoSleep Podcast) say, “The house inherited me as much as I did it. We were alike, this house and I…”, and wrote it down, not knowing I’d just met Eudora Fellowes and been given the opening lines to her dark tale.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Honestly, most of the time, there isn’t much of a selection process at all. It often feels less like I’m coming up with stories and more like I’m simply transcribing something that’s being told to me. Crawford Bentley was always Crawford Bentley, I never wondered over what to call Black Shuck and Cerberus. They just were. Eudora was actually a rare exception. She started with an entirely different name that never quite felt right, and early on, my editor, Elle Turpitt, confirmed my suspicion that it seemed off. Without knowing exactly what I was looking for, I started scouring Victorian baby name lists and when I finally came across the name Eudora and surname Fellowes, it just clicked and I knew without any doubt that was meant to be her name.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Getting in my own head. Longer works in particular give me a lot of time to second guess, cast doubts, and worry over the most minute details that a reader probably won’t even notice, much less question (“Is the color of this furniture appropriate for the time period?”, “Is ‘nightgown’ or ‘night clothes’ the better term?’, etc.). Thankfully I have a wonderful group of fellow author critique partners and, as mentioned before, my editor, Elle. They’re great at helping me work through my own thoughts and excellent motivators.
What part of Inheriting Her Ghosts was the most fun to write?
100% Eudora’s relationship with her dogs, Black Shuck and Cerberus. They’re loosely based on my own dogs and it was so easy and enjoyable to bring the love I have for them to the page. While my pups aren’t as large, intimidating, or (let’s be honest) well trained as their book counterparts, I have no doubt they’d put themselves between me and any perceived danger and I’d definitely throw down with a ghost if it threatened them.
Where is your most productive place to write?
This is my “Don’t be like me, be better” answer: My phone. It’s a horrible habit. Don’t do it. Since I can take it anywhere, location doesn’t matter that much, but it must be totally quiet and uninterrupted. While music can help get me in the mood to write before I actually sit down to do so, it gets shut off the moment I’m ready to put proverbial pen to paper and if anyone interrupts me while I’m in The Zone, I…typically politely ask them to wait until I’m done, but there is some serious side-eye while I do it.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given about writing?
Take every piece of advice you’ve heard about writing and chuck it out the window. Ok, maybe not the stuff about having to be disciplined and, as with any art form, needing to practice, but most of the other fluff. The “How Stephen King Writes a Billion Novels a Year” and “One Hundred Ways You NEED to Change to Be a Real Author” type schlock. Writing is an extremely personal process and what works for Mr. King might only be a roadblock for you. Maybe you’re a plotter, maybe you’re a panster, maybe you write better with a set word count to reach, maybe it’s easier to never count words at all. The how you do it isn’t nearly as important as the fact you’re just doing it. Figure out your system and grow in the way that works best for you (unless your way is writing on your phone…).
Thanks again for your time in answering my questions. I am looking forward to taking a peek at the last posts in the tour tomorrow.
It is with great honour I am hosting Kate Peridot for the last slot of her book tour with her first non-fiction book Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet, published by Walker Books.
Conservation is something dear to my own heart and more and more children today are becoming passionate about caring for their environment. I am a volunteer at my local BBOWT nature discovery centre where I do activities with groups of children on different aspects of nature and conservation, so I am particularly excited about being able to interview Kate about Caring Conservationists.
In Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet, Kate Peridot takes us on a whistle stop tour around the world to discover the stories of 20 conservationists and the endangered animals they are campaigning to save, including the blue whale, great panda, honeybee, the last kākāpō, and the sea turtle. Sarah Long’s bright vivid illustrations capture the heart of the conservationist and the endangered animal.
This is a cleverly designed book full of inspiring facts about a wide variety of diverse conservationists and the endangered animals they are campaigning to save. The activities are fun and engaging I am sure young children will be eager to build a bug hotel, draw a campaign poster or make their own nature documentary to name but a few.
This vibrant non-fiction book is positive, uplifting and packed full of information, with 20 fun activities for children to try, this book will show children no one is too small to make a difference.
Useful for use in the classroom to support work in the science programme of study for – Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, in particular, Working scientifically and Living things and their habitats. The ideal book to buy to keep your children active and happy during the holidays.
The author, Kate Peridot, writes both fiction and non-fiction children’s books. Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the South of France. She writes wild and adventurous stories about animals, people and STEM that encourages a can-do spirit, a quest for knowledge and a sense of adventure. A further nine books non-fiction books are in production launching between 2023-2025.
Thank you, Kate, for agreeing to be interviewed as part of your blog tour about your recent non-fiction book, Caring Conservationists who are changing are planet.
What was your inspiration to write a non-fiction book for children about the high-profile people involved in conservation and the endangered animals they are trying to save?
I live in the South of France and the impact people have on nature is more visible day to day than in the UK. I’ve stood on a melting glacier in the Alps, seen coastal pollution from tourism, and we’re in the second year of a drought. Despite a semi-arid climate, I’ve created a garden from scratch and slowly watched the animals move into the hedgerows and flower borders and it’s been really rewarding to watch a mini eco-system develop. There are bats, dragonflies, swallows, and giant toads that eat the mosquitos. Fireflies hide in the hedgerows and pine martins and wild boar steal our fruit! Nature, when given a helping hand, knows exactly what to do. Conservation is both a global issue but also a personal one. Children love animals and being out in nature. They want to understand and help, and I wanted to show them there are lots of people who feel the same way and are making a positive difference.
How did you decide which conservationists you would choose for your book, Caring Conservationists?
Charlie, the editor at Walker Books, and I agreed we wanted to feature mostly conservationists who were working within their own communities or protecting animals in the country where they grew up. Conservation often starts at home and children would identify with this. We also aimed to have a conservationist from every continent, protecting very different animals and also doing different types of conservation work. There is sustainable farming, growing super corals, rewilding, a park ranger, raising awareness of climate change and lots more.
The conservationists are as young as 4 years old and as old as 96! There are also a few famous conservationists from the recent past, such as Gerald Durrell and Jacques Cousteau, who inspired others to follow in their footsteps. Their charitable organisations continue to inform and train the next generation of conservationists.
Why is it important to raise awareness and educate young children about global conservation?
Children are naturally curious and will have their own favourite animal or two. I’ve included different conservation challenges and types of conservation jobs. In the media, the activism side of conservation often dominates and unfortunately, can be seen negatively, but that is only a small part of conservation work and there are a lot of quiet conservation projects where individuals and communities are making a big difference. This book shows children there are many ways to help nature and they can decide what they want to do. It can be as small as making a bug hotel out of bamboo straws, leaving water out for hedgehogs in the summer, learning about endangered animals nearby, or getting involved in school tree-planting projects.
Tell us a little about the format and activities in Caring Conservationists?
Children love non-fiction books because they can open a page and read bite-sized snippets of text almost in any order and dip in and out of any page. This makes fact-based books super appealing for a range of ages and reading abilities. On each page, we have the conservationist’s story as a narrative, and then there are short fact boxes about the animals. There’s another story box about the conservationist’s legacy as an animal champion, plus an activity too. Sarah, the illustrator, has done a wonderful job capturing the likeness of the conservationists, the animals and creating beautifully themed borders. There’s so much to look at on each page.
Do you have a favourite activity in the book?
That’s a difficult one, there are 21 to choose from. Thinking back to my 7-year-old self, I would have loved to make the reef collage or local wildlife scrapbook. I loved art! I would also have wanted to make a den with my brothers to watch out for any animals that flew or crept into our garden from the woods behind our house. If we were allowed to camp out after dark, even better!
Did you have any writing rituals whilst writing Caring Conservationists? Tell us a little about your writing process.
In every conservationist story, I looked for the moment the conservationist knew they had to do something to help, and I wanted to capture that hope and positivity. I don’t have any writing rituals as such, it’s mostly me in my quiet office with my notes and computer. I do about 2 hours then stop for a break. Otherwise, I just keep going each working day until the story and facts work together and the manuscript is ready for the editor to edit and the illustrator to draw.
How did you do the research for Caring Conservationists?
The majority was desk work, and some great information was supplied by the conservationist’s charitable organisations. I also visited St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire, founded by Les Stocker and his family, which has a visitor centre and the Oceanography Museum in Monaco, which was originally curated by Jacques Cousteau. This had the history of Jacques’s work, and his submarine, which features in the illustration, and also information about coral reefs, blue whales, melting polar ice caps and actual sea turtles swimming around. There’s also a zoo nearby for endangered animals which has New Zealand’s vulnerable flightless birds and some very noisy leaping lemurs, all of which make an appearance in the book.
Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about your books and writing for children?
I have two more animal books launching this spring/summer.
My Animal Family is available from 4th May, illustrated by Nick Jones, and published by DK and is for children of 6+ years. There are 15 animal families in the book and an animal from each family tells their story of family life. Discover who’s the boss, who looks after the babies, and who’s in charge of getting the dinner. Children can compare each animal family to their own family and choose their favourite.
Meet the Bears is for all bear lovers, whether that’s real bears or teddy bears! It’s illustrated by Becca Hall and published by Welbeck and for 4+ year-olds. It’s available from the end of June. Pack your teddy and join an around-the-world adventure to meet the world’s eight species of bears. From polar bears to giant pandas, from spectacled bears to the Asiatic moon bears. Which bear family does your teddy belong to?
And I have further animal and STEM books in the illustration stage which will be out next spring.
Wow! This is all so interesting. Thank you Kate for being so generous with your time in answering my questions. I look forward to seeing many more of your books on the shelves.
I’m thrilled to welcome Andy Seed to my blog today for the next stop of his Interview with Black Beard and Other Villains blog tour.
Interview with Black Beard and Other Villains is a creative non-fiction book illustrated by Gareth Conway and published by Welbeck Children’s Books. Perfect for fans of the Horrible Histories books, this series offers a fun, fresh take on history, featuring true stories from historical figures from across the world.
Readers can discover more about 10 famous villains who take a quick break from dastardly deeds to answer all sorts of (very nosy) questions about their actions and unique perspectives. Are they as wicked as we’ve been led to believe? Will Andy make it out alive? Discover the good, the bad, and the unexpected as each villain reveals the truth about their lives – and attempts to find out about the future.
In this fun and fact-filled book, bite-sized text in a question-and-answer format is paired with engaging illustrations, perfect for reluctant readers and humour-seeking history fans. Featuring interviews with Blackbeard, Ivan the Terrible, Nero and more – plus bonus facts about the time period and its events.
Andy Seed is a prolific author who writes for both adults and fiction, poetry and fun information books for children full of facts, figures, lists and true stories. He likes making things and his favourite food is cheese. He believes the world would be a better place if more people read more books. He is a Blue Peter award-winning author, based in Gloucestershire. He is the author of the popular Q&A Animals series: Interview with a Tiger and Other Clawed Animals Too, Interview with a Shark and Other Ocean Creatures Too and Interview with a Kangaroo and Other Marsupials Too.
My stop on the tour will take the form of an author interview question and answer style just like the book.
Welcome to my blog. I must say a creative non-fiction book written up as interviews is such a great concept for a fact-filled children’s book. I wish I’d thought of it. You have been interviewing all these villains and now it is my time to interview you.
Please tell us a little about yourself and the inspiration for your book Interview with Blackbeard and Other Vicious Villains.
Hello! I’m the author of over 30 factual books for children and love to add a dash of giggle to the things I write. I live in a forest, which is handy because I write about wildlife a lot, and my other big interest is history. The past is a rich and bottomless bubbling well of remarkable people and strange happenings!
Interview with Blackbeard was inspired by the popularity of the series of animal Q&A books I have written for Welbeck beginning with Interview with a Tiger. I thought, if I can build a machine to enable me to chat to animals then why can’t I twiddle a few circuits and turn it into a time machine? It wasn’t easy but, it’s amazing what you can do with a some spare coat hangers and a Swiss Army Knife…. So, now I talk to anyone from the past. Nice.
Why did you decide to write a book about villains for children?
Villains do all the really bad things that most of us would never dare to do (because our mums would be FURIOUS). And they cause a lot of trouble. Trouble is interesting! There are plenty of well known baddies in history but also lots of really nasty people that we mainly don’t know – my book features a mix of the two. In an interview you can of course ask villains why they do the big bad crimes and it’s interesting to see things from their point of view.
Which of the famous villains in your book is your favourite and why?
I like Victor Lustig as a character because he was a clever trickster who sold the Eiffel Tower twice! Of course he didn’t own the tower but he was good at pretending he did, and he made a lot of cash out of it. But I think my overall favourite maybe the Chinese pirate Zheng Yi Sao. She was probably the most BOSS buccaneer in history. She led a fleet of 226 robber boats and had 17,000 pirates under her command at the age of just 30! OK, she did cut off my arm during the interview but I went back in time and managed to return with it still intact, hehe.
How do you keep the children turning the pages?
Ask good questions, make it fun, be a bit cheeky toward famous people and present the real facts of their lives in story form, picking out some juicy snippets. It’s an enjoyable way to bring history alive.
Do you have plans to write any more books in the same Q&A style as Interview with Blackbeard? If so, please tell us a little about them?
Yes! There is already Interview with Cleopatra and other Famous Rulers, but in the pipeline is Interview with Vincent Van Gogh and other Great Artists. We meet the top talent from the world of painting and they have some zinging tales to tell!
I like quiet and so I write at home but when it’s warm I sit outside on the patio in our garden which is next to a babbling brook. I can listen to the birds singing and our cat demanding food. I am very much an outdoors person.
Thank you Andy for agreeing to be interviewed as part of my blog. It has been great interviewing you. I hope you enjoyed being the interviewee rather than the interviewer for a change.😊
Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Starlight Stables Gang written by Esme Higgs and Jo Cotterill and illustrated by Hannah George.
This is Esme Higgs debut children’s book. She is one of the biggest influencers in the equestrian world – with more than one million followers. She’s a writer, presenter, video producer – and a horse-mad ordinary girl. Her online videos are a mix of tutorials, horse care videos and vlogs about her horses (Mickey, Joey, Casper and Duke) and her life.
She is also a proud ambassador for the charity Brooke, and works closely with other charities such as World Horse Welfare, and the Riding for the Disabled Association.
In contrast this is Jo Cotterill’s fiftieth published book. She has two daughters who make her laugh every day and give the best hugs. She loves the Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing. When she was younger she studied ballet, jazz and tap dance and would love to have a go at ballroom one day. When she was a teenager, she wrote a lot of music, played flute, piccolo, alto saxophone, piano and violin.
Jo is a multi-award winning writer. She has won: The Hampshire Book Award, the North East Book Award, the Coventry Inspiration Book Award, the Oxfordshire Book Award, the Stockport Children’s Book Award, the Tower Hamlets Book Award and the Fantastic Book Awards.
The illustrator, Hannah George, works regularly with a variety of publishers and has illustrated several children’s picture books. She loves of drawing and storytelling began at a young age. As a child she carried her sketchbook everywhere capturing all her adventures and mischievous exploits.
After graduating from Falmouth University in 2005 Hannah set about turning her favourite past time into a career. Her spontaneous use of line makes her style perfect for bringing characters to life. Hannah has worked with a huge range of clients illustrating everything from Alligators to Zebras.
And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the review.
Title: The Starlight Stables Gang
Written by: Esme Higgs and Jo Cotterill
Illustrated by: Hannah George
Published by: Penguin
Summer has always loved horses but she never thought she’d be able to learn how to ride them – not with money being so tight at home. Then she discovers the Starlight Stables where she meets a new gang of friends and learns how to ride in return for helping out with the horses. It’s a dream come true.
Summer falls in love with life at the stables and especially with Luna, a beautiful dapple-grey pony. But one day, Summer arrives at the stables to find that Luna has been stolen in the night. It’s up to the Starlight Stables Gang to follow the clues and rescue Luna before it’s too late.
Suitable for readers ages 7 -11, The Starlight Stables Gang, is the ideal book for all horse enthusiasts. The descriptions of the horses and the feelings of the characters are realistic and their love of horses and the equestrian life jumps off the page. It is a great plot with the ideal mystery to solve. The book opened with Summer’s relationship with Luna and you really felt for Summer when Luna went missing and could not stop turning the pages as they hunted for her and the culprits. The black and white illustrations complimented the text perfectly.
I thought the way Summer’s dyslexia was handled was sympathetic and relatable. There are a whole host of eclectic characters. My favourite is Ellie who is in a wheelchair and loves riding. She does not let her disability hold her back and is always so positive. I found the use of texts between friends great as it breaks up the page and helps even the most reluctant reader to stay engaged with the text. It is also brilliant making technology integral to the plot, as so many children’s books shy away from it but it is a huge part of a child’s life and should not be excluded.
This is a great story about friendship and team work. Perfect for all KS2 classrooms.
You can buy a copy of The Starlight Stables Gang by Esme Higgs, Jo Cotterill and Hannah George from your local bookshop, or online at uk.bookshop.org.
Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Magical Moonglow Sleepover byJocelyn Porter.
The author, Jocelyn Porter, started her writing career when she was asked to write a story for a preschool magazine. That story was the first of many. Jocelyn became the writer/editor of several preschool magazines and continued in that role for 15 years. Writing one new story every month, plus rhymes and activities was a tough gig, but very exhilarating. Time is the big difference between writing for a magazine and writing a book. You see your work on the supermarket shelves within a few weeks of completion. A book takes longer – a lot longer.
Jocelyn has to be patient now – not something she’s good at. Before becoming a writer, Jocelyn worked in higher education as International Students Officer. It was a rewarding and interesting job even though she was on call 24/7. Jocelyn also trained as a counsellor and volunteered at drop-in centres. She never knew who would arrive for counselling and had to be prepared for anything. This work gave her insight into some of the darker corners of life. Motor sport was one of Jocelyn’s early loves, she had the spine-tingling thrill of taking part in a 24-hour national rally as navigator – those were the days when rallies were held on public roads!
Jocelyn worked as an au pair in Paris in her teens. Having visited the city on a school trip, she fell in love with it, and always wanted to return. Jocelyn’s first book published by Full Media is The King Who Didn’t Like Snow, illustrated by Michael S Kane. Finn and Fred’s Arctic Adventure is her second book under Full Media and is illustrated by Leo Brown.
My stop on the tour will take the form of a book review.
Title: A Magical Moonglow Sleepover
Written by: Jocelyn Porter
Illustrated by: Clare Caddy
Published by: Full Media Ltd.
A sweet early reader chapter book about friendship, trust and cooperation.
Katherine Baker and her friends Sophie and Charlotte decide to have a sleep over in her shed, which is a shed in her garden. Katherine tells her friends she has a fairy godmother called Marigold Moonglow but they don’t believe her. To their surprise the fairy godmother arrives on a magical train driven by a blue elephant.
The train takes them to an enchanted carnival at Oak Tree Hollow, a little village in Fairyland, for Sophie’s birthday. However, Sophie vanishes on the carousel. With the help of Dylan the Dragon and Charlie, the boy she dislikes at school, she has to set aside her feelings and find her friend.
Claire Caddy’s black and white pencil outline drawings add a touch of magic to this charming picture book. I liked the little touch of the dragon’s tail at the end of each chapter. Suitable for children 5-7 years old.
Please join me on the next stop of Genna Rowbotham’s blog tour for the release of her latest picture book, Ellie-May and her Toy Dragon, Ben.
Genna Rowbotham wrote her first children’s story in 2017, fitting it in around caring for her young family, and is now an author of nine children’s books as well as a short story in a magazine. Rowbotham has a passion to write stories that help entertain, educate and inspire young-ones as the reader can escape the seriousness of life and enter a world of magic.
Her other interests include reading, writing, travelling, astrology, spending time with her family and exploring the great outdoors.
She lives with her lively, imaginative family in Derbyshire in a house full of books, magazines as well as colourful drawings and all sorts of artwork from her children (empty cereal boxes are often taken from the recycle bin to reinvent something wonderful like a spy camera or telescope).
My stop of the tour consists of a book review and prize giveaway.
Title: Ellie-May and her Toy Dragon, Ben
Written by: Genna Rowbotham
Illustrated by: Shamima Afroz Alis
Published by: Adventure Scape Press
Ellie-May and her Toy Dragon, Ben is a quaint longer length picture book consisting of eighteen spreads and written in rhyming couplets. The spreads are formatted with the picture on one side and the text on the other. The text is in a large bold font and easy to read.
The story reminded me of the timeless classic The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go To Bed by Helen Cooper in that the main protagonist, Ellie-May, is excited about the next day so refuses to sleep. When her toy dragon, Ben becomes real, they take to the starry skies and embark on a night-time adventure, where they visit Ben’s castle and enjoy a dragon party. But Ellie-May struggles to keep her eyes open and eventually realises the importance of sleep.
This delightful, lyrical story is ideal for readers aged three upwards. The bold colourful illustrations compliment the text perfectly.
Giveaway to Win a bundle of 3 Children’s books by Genna Rowbotham (Open Int)
Prize includes Where is Lamby? (rhyming picture book), Lottie the Ladybird’s Adventure (for ages 7-9) and Ellie-May & her Toy Dragon, Ben (rhyming picture book)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box link. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
You can purchase a copy of
Ellie-May and her Toy Dragon, Ben by Genna Rowbotham and Shamima Afroz Alis at the following links:
It is with great pleasure I join the blog tour for renowned author Oscar Wilde and the fantastic reprint of the compendium of his fairy Stories in The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde. It is such an honour to be included in this tour and I must thank Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for organising the tour and for ensuring I received the incredible collectors’ edition as a review copy.
Born in Dublin in 1854, Oscar Wilde was an Irish wit, playwright and poet best remembered for his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray written in 1891. His social comedies includes The Importance of Being Earnest first performed in 1895. This is one of my favourite plays and one that I had the delight of acting in whilst I was in the sixth form at school. Oscar Wilde was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and his two sons were born in 1885 and 1886. Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900.
My stop on the tour involves a book review of this beautiful new edition. It is not so much a review of the contents, as reviewing Oscar Wilde’s work as for nearly 150 years, the classic fairy stories of Oscar Wilde have been cherished by readers of all ages. This will be more a review of the magnificent book itself.
Title: The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde
Written by: Oscar Wilde
Illustrated by: Philippe Jullian
Published by: Duckworth Books
The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde is a stunning 70th-anniversary gift-edition of Duckworth’s treasured compilation. He originally published two volumes of beloved fairy tales – The Happy Prince and other stories, bought out in 1888 and A House of Pomegranates, published in 1891. Now we have the good fortune of being able to rediscover all nine of the stories in this beautiful new edition of Duckworth’s exquisite collection.
The first edition of the complete collection was first published in 1952 and the original copy contained over twenty original line drawings. These exquisite illustrations, created by the distinguished and celebrated artist and aesthete, Philippe Jullian, have been expertly reproduced for this gorgeous giftable edition of The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde.
The new edition is quarter-bound with intricate green foil cover and spine detailing. It has been divided into two sections to keep the original volumes together. This is a beautiful edition and one people will want to cherish forever. You know how sometimes you pick up a book and want to stroke the cover well this copy is highly strokeable.
Oscar Wilde’s stories themselves are as relevant today as they were in the late 1800’s. His insight into human character is perceptive and pertinent from, The Nightingale and the Rose, where the nightingale gives up his life for a selfish, ungrateful woman, to The Star-Child that portrays what a kind and just leader should be with the underlying message that evil is still out there
His deep Christian beliefs are also evident as can be seen in The Happy Prince where the statue and the Swallow devote their days to helping others and win their place in paradise, The Selfish Giant with the symbolic child who is Christ and The Fisherman and his Soul. There is also an afterword by Wilde’s son Vyvyan Holland, which explores the inspirations behind his father’s fairy stories and how they have roots in his devote Catholic beliefs and the influence of Irish folktales.
The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde would make the ideal Christmas of birthday present for all ages. If you have not read these stories I recommend that you do and if you have read them they are definitely worth re-reading. If you love Oscar Wilde’s writing and poignant comments on human nature as much as I do it is worth purchasing a copy as a celebrated collector’s item. head and shoulders above any other copy on the market.
To join the other stops on the blog tour take a look at the schedule below:
You can purchase a copy of The Complete Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde published by Duckworth Books from your local bookshop, or online at uk.bookshop.org.
Thanks again to Anne Carter for inviting me to take part and also to the publisher Duckworth Books for producing such a lovely copy. Thank you.