Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Today I am here with you as the last day of the Under Rose-Tainted Skies blog tour. I have for you all a great guest post from Louise Gornall about how she got into novel writing.
Also, don’t forget to check out my review of this incredible book here.
Different kinds of storytelling…
by Louise Gornall
Hi guys. I’m super stoked to be your guest lecturer today… no, I’m kidding. No lectures. Promise. School’s out for the summer. But that is definitely a college grade title, right? In real time, I just wanted to have a chat with you about storytelling, and tell you a little bit about how I got from over there to right here.
I think it’s fair to say that suffering from agoraphobia is no longer a secret, but something most people don’t know about me is that I used to be an actress. An amateur, still studying for my degree in performing arts, though I had an agent and an audition lined up. Woe, this was at the exact same time my mental health decided to roll over on me. BUT my love of storytelling, arguably, was a direct result of the acting career I never had.
I loved being on stage. Loved it. I loved having to physically portray someone else’s story, reading through a script and trying to figure out how each line should be delivered. Lady Macbeth was one of my favourite characters to read because that woman has more faces than Big Ben.
When I got sick, I had to readjust my life around all these new limitations, which meant no more college, no more acting…no more people. I literally shut myself off in my bedroom. I still wanted to be connected to film and characters though, and the only way I could do that from the safety of my bubble was screenwriting. This was my first real taste of storytelling. I made friends with this awesome guy who taught me all about authentic dialogue, different scripts, layouts, timing. Everything a newbie screenwriter needed to know. It was fun, but when I’d finally drafted a script to show him, he was like, you can’t have this much control in your action segments. You don’t need to write down ALL the things. That’s a director’s job. My action segments could span pages, so I guess he had a point, but…
Cut to: Me. Mortified.
Me: (stammering) but…but…but…
Screenwriter Guy: Have you ever thought about maybe writing a novel?
Me: (blink-blink) No. Should I?
Screenwriter Guy: You most definitely should.
The rest, as they say, is history. Novel writing was very different, though I loved — love– both. I think screenwriting taught me how to pace a story, and how to write dialogue. It also taught me how to apply an American accent to my writing voice which has helped me access American readers. It’s definitely something I’d recommend giving a go, even if you never do anything with it, which, essentially, I haven’t…yet!
About the Book
Author: Louise Gornall
Publisher: Chicken House
Published: 7th July 2016
Source:: Review Copy
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon UK, The Book Depository
Agoraphobia confines Norah to the house she shares with her mother.
For her, the outside is sky glimpsed through glass, or a gauntlet to run between home and car. But a chance encounter on the doorstep changes everything: Luke, her new neighbour. Norah is determined to be the girl she thinks Luke deserves: a ‘normal’ girl, her skies unfiltered by the lens of mental illness. Instead, her love and bravery opens a window to unexpected truths …
An important and uplifting debut from a British author, which tackles mental health issues such as agoraphobia and OCD.
About the Author
Louise is a graduate of Garstang Community Academy, and she is currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. A YA afcionado, flm nerd, identical twin, and junk food enthusiast, she’s also an avid collector of book boyfriends. Her debut novel, UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, will be published in July 2016.
Have you ever wanted to be a screenwriter?
Also don’t miss my review of this STUNNING book which can be found here.
Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan
I’m here today as the final stop on the Eden Summer blog tour and I have for you all a video from Liz herself!
First though, here’s some info on the book!
About the Book
But then Eden goes missing and Jess knows she has to find her, and fast, because the longer someone is missing, the more likely it is they won’t be found. So Jess starts exploring her memories, things Eden said and did in the last few months and she starts to realise that maybe they don’t know each other as well as she thought.
Set in the beautifully described stunning countryside of West Yorkshire, an incredibly pacy page turner as the clock runs down on the likelihood of finding Eden alive.
Follow the tour!
Will you be reading this book this summer?
The Daughter’s Secret by Eva Holland
Today I am here to introduce you all to the lovely Eva Holland who has written a wonderful guest post for you all on the inspiration for the setting of her book, The Daughter’s Secret.
But first, here’s some more information on the book!
About the Book
When Rosalind’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be. Their lives held up to scrutiny in the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms were headline news while Stephanie was missing with a man who was risking everything.
Now, six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He’s going to be released from prison. Years too early. In eleven days’ time.
As Temperley’s release creeps ever closer, Ros is forced to confront the events that led them here, back to a place she thought she’d left behind, to questions she didn’t want to answer. Why did she do it? Where does the blame lie? What happens next?
The Setting That Inspired The Daughter’s Secret
by Eva Holland
My debut novel, The Daughter’s Secret, is set in St Albans, Hertfordshire. It is not a city I have ever lived in, I don’t have any family connections to the area and I have never been on holiday there. So how did I come to set my story of the fallout of a relationship between a teenage pupil and a teacher in the city the Roman’s called Verulamium?
Many years ago I briefly shared a desk with a woman who lived in St Albans and commuted into London. We worked in a city PR agency and every day began with us scanning the papers for news relevant to our clients. As we drank our coffee we would flick through the tabloids, skimming page after page of reports of crimes, drug busts, and yobs on drunken rampages as well as the usual celebrity scandals and photos of the royals. Whenever my deskmate spotted something particularly bleak and upsetting she would point it out to me, always with a quiet murmur of ‘that wouldn’t happen in St Albans’. News of misfortunes suffered by colleagues – a stolen bike, a pickpocketed wallet – was greeted in the same way. I was never quite sure whether she was trying to convince herself that she was safe from the ills that plagued the rest of the world, or anxious to prove to us that her home was a cut above our shared houses in (pre-hipster era) Hackney.
Many years and many desks later, when I decided to write The Daughter’s Secret, I thought carefully about where to set it. At the heart of the novel is the sense of something terrible happening to a normal family and a seemingly idyllic domestic set up being ripped apart. It was these thoughts that brought me back to my former colleague and her mantra. What if she was wrong and it could happen in St Albans?
I spent some time in St Albans while I was writing The Daughter’s Secret. It is a charming city: compact, attractive and packed with history. If I wasn’t so firmly wedded to London I would very happily live there myself. But, just like any other city, it’s full of people so it is no more immune to the things people do to each other than any other city on earth. It’s comforting to think that bad things happen to other people in other places, but these things are as likely to happen here as they are to happen there, however beautiful and idyllic here may seem.
About the Author
A lifelong lover of words and stories, Eva Holland was the winner of the 2014 Good Housekeeping novel writing competition. She grew up in Gloucestershire and studied in Leeds before moving to London. When not writing or reading fiction she works as a freelance PR consultant and copywriter.
The Daughter’s Secret is Eva’s first novel.
What do you think about the setting of this book?
Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney
Today I am here to introduce you to Emma Claire Sweeney author of Owl Song at Dawn. I have for you all a guest post from Emma about her inspiration for the book. First though, here’s some more information on the book!
About the Book
Maeve Maloney is a force to be reckoned with. Despite nearing eighty, she keeps Sea View Lodge just as her parents did during Morecambe’s 1950s heyday. But now only her employees and regular guests recognise the tenderness and heartbreak hidden beneath her spikiness. Until, that is, Vincent shows up. Vincent is the last person Maeve wants to see. He is the only man alive to have known her twin sister, Edie. The nightingale to Maeve’s crow, the dawn to Maeve’s dusk, Edie would have set her sights on the stage all things being equal. But, from birth, things never were. If only Maeve could confront the secret past she shares with Vincent, she might finally see what it means to love and be loved a lesson that her exuberant yet inexplicable twin may have been trying to teach her all along.
Pears Soap and Poetry
by Emma Claire Sweeney
My grandma lived off the state pension, but managed to wear fur coats and visit the hairdresser every week. She fed me milk loaf and strawberry splits; people gathered around the piano when she played; the local librarians all knew her by name.
Bam-bam – my pet name for her – died when I was just nine, but she still holds sway over my imagination. We found exercise books stacked in her bedside cabinet all of them filled with her own handwritten poems. For me, the search for literary forebears stems back to the discovery that my own grandma was a closet poet.
My dad kept her exercise books, but I chose a different memento: the bar of Pears soap that I found on her washstand. I’ve kept hold of it for decades, packing and unpacking it every time I move house, its scent of thyme still reminding me of her.
Maeve, one of the main characters in Owl Song at Dawn, detects the lingering scent of Pears on her twin. During the redrafting of the novel, I took my keepsake of Bam-bam out from the high cupboard where it had been stowed for years.
The bar of soap fell from my hand, hitting the hard floor and cracking in two.
After my initial dismay, I realised that there was perhaps something appropriate about this. My grandma was broken too, by the death of her eldest son and the disintegration of her marriage – unforgivable for a 1950s Liverpool Catholic.
But I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the broken. When that treasured bar of Pears soap splintered, a brighter amber was revealed and I inhaled a headier scent of thyme.
Perhaps Bam-bam is the reason why I’ve always been drawn to broken things: derelict funfairs; threadbare cardigans; people whose surface resilience hides their distress. Maybe this explains why I created in Owl Song at Dawn an elderly woman, both proud and brave; why I offered her one last chance.
About the Author
Emma was brought up in the North West of England, the elder sibling of twins, and OWL SONG AT DAWN is inspired by her autistic sister.
With her writer friend and colleague, Emily Midorikawa, she runs the website Something Rhymed, which shines a light on the forgotten friendships of the world’s most famous female authors.
Emma writes literary features, reviews, and pieces on disability for broadsheets and magazines.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Escapology by Ren Warom
Today I have the lovely Ren Warom on the blog with a guest post about writing with children. It’s a brilliant piece that I’m very glad to be sharing with you all.
But first, here’s some more information on her book, Escapology.
Shock Pao is the best. In the virtual world the Slip there’s nothing he can’t steal for the right price. Outside the Slip, though, he’s a Fail – no degree, no job. So when his ex offers him a job, breaking into a corporate databank, he accepts—it’s either that, or find himself a nice bench to sleep under. Amiga works for psychotic crime lord Twist Calhoun so when Shock’s war comes to her, it’s her job to bring him to Twist, dead or alive.
Writing with Kids: A brief sort-of guide
by Ren Warom
I’m a single mum of two teens and a pre-teen, so my life tends toward thechaotic (and melodramatic). I’ve been writing seriously again for only six years, butthe plot twist in parenting is that kids don’t really get to be less work at any point, norany less hands on (even with nappies/noses and nights out of the equation), soconsider the following my mini four-point guide for writing whilst parenting. I like to call these my Write Club Rules:
First Rule of Write Club: Never try and write when your children are home or awake unless you’ve super glued them to the TV/their computer/a book/a videogame and can guarantee quiet. If you have even as much as 0.01% of a doubt about guaranteed quiet then do not sit down to work. This is ironclad.
Second Rule of Write Club: If the above is not an option (and let’s be fair, with kids it’s often not), set a definite writing time and guard it like DeCaprio’s bear-husband guards his honour. It is sacred. Sacrosanct. If you allow your children to think they can interrupt it for any reason, you will never get it back. EVER.
Third Rule of Write Club: Explain why you write. What it means to you. Kids are filled with enthusiasm and zest for life, they might resent the time you give to words but if they understand how much it means to you they’ll really try and respect it, even when they’re pissier than DiCaprio’s bear husband (and that happens a lot.) Trust me on this. Kids are hella smart, even the mini ones.
Fourth Rule of Write Club: Share your love of books. If your children love books they’ll have a greater grasp of why you love writing. They may even start to write as well, and encouraging creativity in your kids is about as rewarding as it gets. Besides, when they’re engrossed in reading the latest must-have picture book, MG or YA, you can whip out your laptop/ipad/notebook and sneak some words in. Win/win situation.
Fifth and Final Rule of Write Club: Coffee. Wine. Cake. Chocolate. Gin. Books. TV. Art. Knitting. Name your pleasure and dive in headfirst (within reason, naturally). Chase your joy, it finds its way into the words you write and the things you say and do as a parent. A good parent is a happy parent; a good writer is a happy writer. Stupid simple, but in the many stresses of parenting/life we often forget to take care of ourselves too.
Okay, so those aren’t really rules per se, they don’t give you a way through if you’re struggling to balance kids and writing, but here’s the thing––there are no real answers to the conundrum. Write Club is fight club. It is and always will be a juggling act, with no right way or wrong way, and no easy way. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and that definitely stands for parenting and writing both.
Did you find this advice helpful?
My Husband’s Wife Blog Tour
Today is my stop on the blog tour for My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry! I’ve got a brilliant guest post for you all by Jane about her top ten bookish inspirations!
But first, here’s some information on the book!
Lily meets Ed at a party, and on their second date, he proposes. She’s a lawyer, he’s an up-and-coming artist. They own a small but beautiful flat in London and mix with all the right people.
But Lily has a secret. Something from her past, that is soon to collide with her present. And she thinks her new husband is hiding something too…
The vows they made will soon be tested to the very limits.
‘Till death us do part…’
Ten Bookish Inspirations For My Husband’s Wife
By Jane Corry
I have to be honest here. When writing a novel, I never read anything in the same genre. I just want to concentrate on my own story. However I do read other kinds of books. They might not be what others would expect. Often they’re non-fiction. But here is a list which influenced me when writing My Husband’s Wife.
Book of Uncommon Prayer.
When I started work at the prison, one of the officers told me that the men either sought refuge in the gym or in God. That gave me an idea. I would ask each of my ‘students’ to write down a saying or a prayer or a poem which helped them get through the day. I also asked the prison staff – including the governor – to do the same. The result was an anthology which I called ‘The Book Of Uncommon Prayer’. It can be bought from New Leaf Books.
One of my major characters, Carla, is Italian. Although I speak a little Italian myself, I still needed help. I have a really old Italian dictionary in my study which was of some use. A member of the Penguin team is Italian so she was able to help me too – not just with words but also customs. For example I hadn’t realised that chrysanthemums were linked with the Mafia.
My other major character, Lily, is a solicitor. As a young journalist, I had to pass a law exam as part of my NCTJ. My novel mentions certain court procedures which I needed to check up on. So as well as speaking to the Law Society , I also ploughed through a few legal textbooks.
Books on the autistic spectrum.
Another of my characters is a young man who is on the autistic spectrum. I know a little about this from personal experience and also from my time as a journalist. However I also read as much as I could on the subject.
The Church of England marriage service.
Lily marries Ed right at the beginning of the novel. So I thought it might be helpful to read the marriage service.The various promises that a couple make to each other gave me a few more ideas for the plot.
Book of children’s names.
As a writer, it can sometimes be difficult to choose a character’s name. So it can be useful to have some inspiration from baby name books. I chose the name Lily for my main heroine because I wanted her to sound fresh and innocent. But at the same time, lilies can stain. They are contradictions – just like her.
Children’s books – all kinds!
My daughter and her husband have just had their first baby. So I am a grannie! My granddaughter loves books and is enchanted by the pictures. The funny thing is that when I am reading them to her, my mind goes off on a bit of a tangent and I get ideas that are totally unrelated.
When we first meet Carla, she is still a child. She reads the dictionary every night to learn new words. So I scoured my copy of Collins’ Dictionary to see what might take her fancy. One of her favourite words is ‘cunning’.
Mindfulness for Busy People
This is one of many books in the pile next to my bed. Every now and then, I dip in. It did make me think about Lily and how circumstances force her to change her pace.
This is a newspaper rather than a book. It contains articles written by prisoners as well as poetry and prose. The Letters page is particularly fascinatingas it allows prisoners to air their grievances about anything from food to warmth. It proved to be useful research.
What are your bookish inspirations?
Mystery & Mayhem Tour
Today is my stop on the Mystery & Mayhem tour and I’m here with a brilliant guest post from the lovely and talented Clementime Beauvais! But before we jump to that, here’s some more information on the book!
One challenge: can YOU solve the crimes before the heroes of the stories?
These are twelve brand-new short stories from twelve of the best children’s crime writers writing today.
These creepy, hilarious, brain-boggling, heart-pounding mysteries feature daring, brilliant young detectives, and this anthology is a must for fans of crime fiction and detection, especially the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, The Roman Mysteries and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.
In for a twist! The art of the short story
By Clementine Beauvais
I have a special fondness for short stories. My very first published piece of writing, in 2010, was a short story: I’d been runner-up in a national competition in France, and my story ended up in a published anthology. My name was printed in that book. And a biography. A biography! I couldn’t believe I had a biography. Since I hadn’t done anything notable, it was just full of my favourite books, and vague ambitions (which turned out not to last) of working in publishing.
Anyway, that short story was a reworking of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, perhaps a bit too ‘adult’ to be described here (I’m not worried about you, young people who might be reading this, but about your sensitive parents, who may never have heard of the kind of things that happened in that story); the important point is, there was a twist at the end.
And a pretty good twist, even though I say so myself, and it’s bad to brag (unless you happen to have written a story with a really pretty great twist.)
Twists, to me, are the great and awesome difference between short-story writing and longer types of writing. My favourite short stories, from Saki to Roald Dahl, were the ones where the last page – the last line – or, even better, the last word – made you rethink the whole thing and go So THAT’S what was going on!
Twists can be funny, tragic, scary, weird or even completely nonsensical. A great example of a nonsensical twist is Alphonse Allais’ A Very Parisian Drama. In that story, Raoul and Marguerite, who form a rather unhappy couple, each receive an anonymous letter. Marguerite’s letter says that Raoul will be going to a carnival, in a few nights’ time, dressed as a Templar; Raoul’s letter says that Marguerite will be going to a carnival, in a few nights’ time, dressed as a Congolese boat (don’t ask).
They both decide to go and spy on the other’s behaviour at that mysterious carnival. Raoul decides to dress as a Templar for the occasion – and Marguerite, as a Congolese boat (don’t ask).
At the carnival, a man dressed as a Templar starts flirting with a woman dressed as a Congolese boat. They end up in a room together, and pull down each other’s masks… and then…
“Both at the same time had a scream of surprise – as they failed to recognise the other.
He wasn’t Raoul.
She wasn’t Marguerite.
They apologised profusely to each other, and got to know each other better around a nice little supper, that’s all I can tell you.”
Absurd. And hilarious! The kind of story you can only write over few pages – and make it crisp, concise, and utterly unexpected. Writing this story as a novel would kill it.
Short stories are very hard to craft well. They must be precise, chiselled, impeccably structured, concise and luminous. There’s not enough space to write badly. If you’re going to write a short story because you think it’s easy, don’t do it. You’ll need to have written many novels before writing a short story becomes easy.
For a reader, short stories are brilliant ways of dipping into the imaginations of writers – but don’t think they’re samples of their writing. Writers write differently when they write short stories. They’re more cynical, more cruel, more fun and weirder when they write short stories. Short stories have a tendency to get out the best – and darkest – in people.
I hope you enjoy the twists and turns of Mystery and Mayhem. You’re in for a treat – like a neatly-packaged box of chocolates. Well, some of them might be poisonous, or contain shards of glass or hidden razors – who knows? But it only makes the tasting more exciting. Are you ready to bite?
Follow the rest of the tour!
What are your thoughts on short stories?
Fountains of Inspiration
Today I am here to introduce you to the wonderful Jean Nicole Rivers, author of Black Water Tales. She’s here today to tell you all about her inspirations for her writing. But first, here’s some informatin on her books!
It’s midnight when Regina Dean she receives a harrowing phone call. On the other end of the line a scratchy voice whispers, “They found her, Regina…they found her.” Over the phone Regina learns that the corpse of her best friend, Lola Rusher, has been found and she must return to her, Godforsaken, hometown of Black Water for the funeral of the beloved girl who disappeared when they were both only sixteen years old. Regina returns to Black Water and is reunited with a cast of old friends. Soon Regina realizes that the details revealed with the discovery of Lola’s corpse do not make sense, especially the fact that Lola’s body was dug up on the land of their childhood piano teacher. Determined to lay Lola to rest, Regina launches her own investigation, but someone in Black Water warns Regina to STOP DIGGING. She is thrown into a race to solve the mystery before she loses her mind or meets Lola’s fate. Though Regina’s hometown is a fun house of disturbing characters and distorted images, the truth about what happened to Lola Rusher will be revealed along with a most unexpected and perverse secret that threatens to expose everyone in Black Water. Everyone knows something, but no one knows everything…
Upon arrival, one of the children informs Blaire, “There’s something in the basement.” It isn’t long before strange things begin happening, including Blaire’s flashbacks of the accident that killed her parents. The children soon suffer injuries that Blaire, first, fears may be the deeds of the callous workers but she soon thinks the abuse may originate from a source that is less than human, something unwanted.
The unwanted is coming but in order for Blaire to fight it, she must dig into St. Sebastian and herself in search of truth. Blaire wants nothing more than to help the children, but when discovers the tragedy that happened in the basement and learns that the same evil forces are still at work, it will be Blaire who needs help…There’s something in the basement.
Fountains of Inspiration
By Jean Nicole Rivers
As cliché as it might sound, the truth is that much of my inspiration is harvested from my dreams. Ever since I was a young child, I have always been fascinated by them. Most nights my dreams are vivid (sometimes to the point of not feeling rested the next morning), colorful and if I try hard, at times, I can even become lucid within them. My first book, Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers was sparked when I dreamt of four friends standing on the side of the road arguing fiercely under a dark sky. For days after I woke, the girls from my dream stuck with me and I kept wondering why they had been arguing. Finally, I decided that the only way to figure it out was to write their story and I did. Black Water Tales: The Unwanted was inspired by a dream that I had after watching a dark documentary about the stark state of orphanages in Eastern Europe. I woke and a group of the children from those orphanages stood at my bedside, silently pleading, with washed out skin and drooping eyes, for me to tell their terrifying tales and as most storytellers do, I obliged.
Also, I find inspiration in the curious and ever changing life that is unfolding around me constantly. I watch and I listen to people, their body language, and their tone of voice. Sometimes the most subtle actions are motivated by the deepest emotions and I never allow those small things to go unnoticed. When the woman sitting across the coffee shop is talking to a man with animated hand gestures, I wonder if she’s angry with him or if she’s complaining about the job she hates. A couple of weeks ago as I drove to work, just after a deadly rainstorm had drenched Houston, I saw a man cutting a tree that had fallen in his driveway and in my mind, I immediately began composing a tale about the treacherous night that his family spent fighting the storm and how they survived and within minutes I had a great short story.
My inspiration comes from both deep inside and from the surrounding world. The ideas are everywhere, we just have to watch and be open to receive.
About the Author
Jean Nicole has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a child, but has always aspired to compose a novel. The Secret Keepers, the first story in what will be a series of Black Water Tales, is her first novel.
Most recently, Ms. Rivers won 3rd place in the National Black Book Festival’s 2013 Best New Author competition and she enjoys the honor of having written featured articles for popular reader websites, such as Digital Book Today and The Masquerade Crew.
Jean Nicole Rivers graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and lives in Houston, Texas.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Soldier by Julie Kagawa Blog Tour
Today is my stop on the Soldier blog tour and I am really excited to welcome Julie Kagawa onto the blog today! She’s here with a guest post on “Why Dragons” but first, here’s some info on the series!
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.
Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.
Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.
A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?
When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.
As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.
by Julie Kagawa
Dragons have been my favorite mythological creature for as far back as I can remember. No other fantasy creature is as complex as the dragon. They can be ruthless, powerful, dangerous creatures, almost akin to some great dark god (think Smaug from the Hobbit), or the most noble, loyal friend you could have (Toothless from How to Train your Dragon comes to mind). What made writing Talon so fun is that I got to write the characters in both their human and dragon forms. Ember as a human is much different than Ember as a dragon, and I had a lot of fun creating what the dragons looked like, how theymoved, how they interacted with normal, everyday things, etc.
When I started writing the Talon saga, I knew it was going to be a story about present day dragons and their war with the Order of St. George. In the modern world, supremely intelligent dragons aren’t going to be living in caves sitting on hordes of gold; they’re going to be the CEO’s of enormous, powerful organisations. And just as the dragons evolved with the times, so did their enemies. Professional dragonslayers aren’t going to be waving around swords and lances; now they have machine guns and sniper rifles and grenades. Updating both Talon and the Order of St. George made the most logical sense, and added to the modern day feel of the story. And it was a lot of fun imagining what dragons would do in a contemporary setting.
But also, back when I was in high school, I wrote a story about a dragonslayer who falls in love with a dragon. Those two characters were Ember and Garret. The setting has changed, and the plot is different, but Ember and Garret have remained almost exactly the same since that very first book, and I’m thrilled that I finally get to tell their story.
Follow the Tour
How Would you Write Dragons?
I’m here today to bring you a guest post by the wonderful Kim Slater to celebrate the release of her newest book, A Seven-Letter Word. She’s written a post about beginnings. Hope you enjoy!
By Kim Slater
Anyone who has ever attended a creative writing course will know that a very popular and often valid piece of advice (especially for writing Young Adult fiction) is: Make your opening lines as exciting as possible.
This was certainly true for the first draft of my debut novel, ‘Smart’, in that an independent editor I commissioned advised me to skip Chapters One – Three and start the story at Chapter Four, where Kieran finds the body of a dead homeless man in the River Trent.
It worked well.
But when I had finished the penultimate draft of my new novel, ‘A Seven-Letter Word’, it suddenly occurred to me that I had not started the book with a scene of riveting excitement but with one of Finlay’s emotional private journal entries to his absent mum.
And the second chapter was a scene with Finlay and his dad having tea in their kitchen at home.
Although I hope these chapters are still interesting and intriguing for the reader, there is no real rising action until Chapter Three, when the reader meets Finlay’s nemesis, a loathsome bully called Oliver.
My very lovely but eagle-eyed editor at Macmillan, Rachel Kellehar, had not raised a concern about the beginning of the book at this point but I thought the issue was worth raising with her.
We had an interesting discussion.
Would I be better, I wondered to Rachel, beginning the book at Chapter Two which is a scene of rising action and unbearable tension for our hero, Finlay?
As Rachel pointed out, the journal entry and the scene in the kitchen give some really essential information to the reader about Finlay. The reader sees how lonely he is and garners a real understanding of how difficult it is for him to speak – essential as a backdrop to the whole story.
I saw that sticking with the beginning we already had, meant that by the time we got to Chapter Two, the scene is made even more tense and dramatic for the reader because they are already firmly inside Finlay’s head.
They are able to fully empathise and care about what happens to him at a very early stage and that is valuable to me, as an author who wants my reader to continue turning the pages.
So, I would advise debut writers to think carefully about their beginnings but not be a slave to the stock advice.
Starting your story in a place that is not edge-of-the-seat exciting for the reader is not necessarily a bad thing. But it isn’t an excuse for slow pace and dreary writing, either.
It must still be gripping. You must still entice the reader to want to know more by including a hint of the excitement and tension that is yet to come.
Experiment. Swap your beginning around a bit and see what feels right. Ask a few beta readers what they think.
Remember that agents, editors and indeed, readers are looking for strong character voices and a good hook. If these things are right, they’re often prepared to delay the opening excitement a touch.
As always with creative writing advice, there is no right or wrong way. There is just your way and it will probably be different for each and every book you write.
So really think your beginning through and above all, know why you made your decision.
That’s a very good place to start.
Opening lines of ‘A Seven-Letter Word’.
“Monday, 11th May
It’s me, Finlay.
I’ve had this brilliant idea to empty out all the words in my head, on to paper. That way, they might stop driving me bonkers, buzzing around with no way of getting out.”
Opening lines of ‘Smart’.
“It just looked like a pile of rags, floating on the water.
Jean sat on the bench with the brass plaque on. It said: In Memory of Norman Reeves who spent many happy hours here.
The plaque means Norman Reeves is dead, but it doesn’t actually say that.”
About the Book
Author: Kim Slater
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Published: 24th March 2016
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon UK, The Book Depository
‘My name is Finlay McIntosh. I can see OK, can hear perfectly fine and I can write really, really well. But the thing is, I can’t speak. I’m a st-st-st-stutterer. Hilarious, isn’t it? It’s like the word is there in my mouth, fully formed and then, just as it’s ready to leave my lips . . . POP! It jumps and ricochets and bounces around my gob. Except it isn’t funny at all, because there’s not a thing I can do about it.’
Finlay’s mother vanished two years ago. And ever since then his stutter has become almost unbearable. Bullied at school and ignored by his father, the only way to get out the words which are bouncing around in his head is by writing long letters to his ma which he knows she will never read, and by playing Scrabble online. But when Finlay is befriended by an online Scrabble player called Alex, everything changes. Could it be his mother secretly trying to contact him? Or is there something more sinister going on?
A Seven-Letter Word is an evocative and heartfelt story from the multi-award-winning author of Smart, Kim Slater.