Thursday, 24 July 2014

Feature: 20 Random Questions with … Tim O'Rourke


20 Random Questions is a feature on Sisterspooky that will show you a different side to authors you may already know and introduce new ones.  I ask 20 very Random Questions and they answer them.  Simple as that.  The idea was inspired from a mixture of things in my head and a random question asked by Jim over at YA Contemporary

On this fine Thursday, we have Tim O'Rourke on the blog answering the 20 Random Questions.  Hurray!


If you were ruler of the world what laws would you make?

To say that people had to live together in peace. I guess it’s a boring answer, but it would be nice if happened.

If you were a super hero what powers would you have? Limit to three powers!

I would love to be able to fly, run at super speeds, and be able to jump over skyscrapers!

What's your favourite cheese and why?

Extra strong Cheddar because it makes great cheeses on toast!

If you were an animal what would you be and why?

A chimpanzee. They are smart and always look as if they’re having lots of fun!


If you could ask your future self one question what would it be?

Are you happy with your life?

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

The internet

What's your favourite type of Pie?

Pecan pie

If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why?

The DeLorean from The Back To The Future movies so I could go back in time!


Who's your favourite Villain and why?

Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories. He was truly a master criminal and a match for the master detective.

Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?

I’m not superstitious. I believe you make your own luck by working hard.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say and why?

Do not disturb! I’m writing!

What's your preferred playing piece in monopoly and why?

The hat because I would like to wear on just like it!

What was the last thing you ate?

Pasta! It was delicious!


Who would you want to be trapped on a desert island with? Pick no more than five people!

The three little pigs, the ginger bread man and Humpty Dumpty, because when I got hungry I could eat them.

What song would you say best sums you up?

‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ by U2.

What was your first job?

I cleaned toilets

What's the scariest thing you've ever done?

Plucking up the courage to ask, my now wife, out on a date. I knew she didn’t like guys with beards and I had a big bushy beard at the time.


What is your favourite comfort food?

Peanuts!

What was your favourite childhood toy and why?

The Six million Dollar Man action figure. You could roll back the skin on his arm and see his bionics! But then again, my Evel Knievel action figure and bike was pretty neat too as you could get him to do loads of stunts!

What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

To work hard for whatever it is you want from life and to never give up.

Thanks so much to Tim for answering these questions so superbly.  Tim's book, Flashes, is published by Chicken House and is available now.  Find out more about Tim and his work (particularly his hugely successful self-published Keira Hudson series) on his website here

Monday, 21 July 2014

Event Post: Saturday at YALC 2014

What might be the biggest YA event in the UK this year, the Young Adult Literature Convention, was held July 12th-13th 2014 at the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court.  It was an early start to get there and work out where to go to get in, as it's been a good couple of years since I've been to LFCC so I had to remember the layout etc.

It was still amazing to look at all the cosplaying in the queue outside and eventually get in and check out the stalls and the Book Zone area.  The venue itself was huge but absolutely heaving and baking hot too.  I know the organisers of LFCC claim the air con was on all the time but I think I only felt it once in the signing area later on.  It just couldn't cope with all those people and I think it was quite dangerous.  Once I found the info desk and got my ticket for the talk I wanted to see, I had a look around at the booths and bumped into a few friendly faces along the way.  


It will take me FOREVER to name all you lovely people that I spoke to but I'll name a few and the rest of you can know that you're still lovely but that I'm too lazy to list everyone.  I saw one of my favourite publicist people, Nina Douglas, and had a nice chit-chat about all the goings-on before both filtering-off to other parts of the event.  I got a lovely hug and catch-up with C.J. Skuse before her workshop in the morning.  I love C.J. and it's rubbish that we don't live closer and can't catch-up more.

I was rather good when it came to the book stalls and only bought two books from the Hot Key stall (The Savages and Vivian versus the Apocalypse, since you asked) and if I have to point out one disappointment about the event, it was that there were so few publishers represented with a booth.  There were three there, if I counted right, and I was shocked that some of my favourites, who had authors represented at the event, hadn't taken up the chance to have a table at the event with books for sale and a face to engage with about their future titles.  Very surprising and such a shame.


Stacey, Jim, Daphne, Caitlin and Me: Photo credit to Fluttering Butterflies
Thankfully, for me, I met lots of blogging friends that I hadn't seen in yonks and we had a mini family reunion (and a gossip and moan) before the Superfans Unite talk started in the afternoon.  It was a good laugh but as good to talk frankly with each other about blogging, books and the event.  I think we all agreed that the event was good but needed work in places to make it great.  I don't want to sound ungrateful for all the hard work the organisers had put in, but we bloggers have been campaigning for an event like this for YEARS and offered to help and give up time to make it happen as well as champion this event on the run up to the big day.  We've put in a lot too and so, we have to be honest.  We give honest book reviews and so honest event write-ups should be expected.


Carly, Casey, Viv and Me. Fab bloggers and photo is taken by another fab blogger: Clover from Fluttering Butterflies
I tried to see some of the LFCC stalls but the serious overcrowding meant I could barely get near a comic to even pick one up.  I think the event was bigger than even the organisers expected and it overshadowed the Book Zone at times.  The Stan Lee photo op area divided up the talk area from the rest of the Book Zone and made it hard to see and get to at times.  Plus sound was an issue at times, so I've been told, in the workshop area.

AWESOME cosplaying at LFCC
The Superfans Unite talk was chaired by Andy Robb and featured on the panel Tim O'Roukre, Lucy Saxon and Rainbow Rowell and it was full to bursting.  There were even people on the sidelines standing.  

It was a fantastic panel because the audience was really engaged and involved in the questions and answers and it felt more like a giant chat with friends than a closed-off experience we were allowed to watch.  Funny and non-stop entertainment.  


I then went to the signing areas to get my autograph book signed by a few favourites that were there:  C.J.Skuse, Andy Robb and Jonathan Stroud, who was an utter delight!  So friendly and great to talk to that I hope to keep a look-out for future events with him on a panel; sure they'd be fabulous.  I hung out with Andy and Darran S (Waterstones bookseller of wonder!) and we had a good old laugh as we pretended that Darran was the author and he even got his photo taken by an unsuspecting victim that assumed he was the author.  Sorry, lady with camera!

Darran fakes it until he makes it
An extra treat was seeing Keris Stainton arrive and having a hug and little catch-up with her too.  Keris is the best and you need her or an equivalent Keris-substitute in your life!!

Before checking out for a much needed food break, Andy introduced me to Jesse Owen who had arrived and I was so pleased because I've spoken with Jesse for ages online but never met face-to-face.  He ALWAYS makes an effort to leave blog comments and may appear quiet in person but I'm pretty sure he's a party animal in secret!

Food break and a much needed GBK burger later and I was back at the Book Zone and managed to find myself in the Green Room to hang out with Sarah McIntyre (winner of best-dressed and most effort made, for sure) and Rainbow Rowell!  I hadn't had a chance to get her autograph earlier as her signing queue was so huge and had to be cut off, but it was fab to get to chat later on.

Credit to Sarah for the photo with Andy Robb, Jesse Owen, Sally Nicholls and me
There was a get-together with the authors and publishing people afterwards and I was there for a little bit to chat with Paul Black (Walker) and Hannah Love (Faber&Faber) before the exhaustion of the day hit like a ton of bricks.   Headache and total tiredness took over and I had to bow out of the party and the Fringe event that had been so kindly organised by Sophia Bennett and I hear it was a fab success in getting authors and bloggers together who didn't get to be involved with YALC for whatever reason and they raised lots of money for the Siobhan Dowd trust.  

Credit to Dave Cousins for this photo
Overall,  the event was good but I can see where there could be improvements to make it a truly great event that everyone will want to flock to year after year.  Perhaps LFCC isn't the place for it and a bit of a clearer layout and organisation when it came to talks and signings.  I know the whole event was hugely over-packed but it hampered YALC sometimes.  An event that will hopefully grow over time and find its own place to call home.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Feature: 20 Random Questions with …. Keris Stainton


20 Random Questions is a feature on Sisterspooky that will show you a different side to authors you may already know and introduce new ones.  I ask 20 very Random Questions and they answer them.  Simple as that.  The idea was inspired from a mixture of things in my head and a random question asked by Jim over at YA Contemporary

Today, the most wonderful Keris Stainton is on the blog to answer the 20 Random Questions and just be generally lovely.  I guarantee you'll leave this post feeling more lovely.  Over to Keris:



If you were ruler of the world what laws would you make?

I would outlaw the use of #justsaying and make monthly Pyjama Days compulsory.

If you were a super hero what powers would you have? Limit to three powers!

I'd love to be able to teleport like Mr Claypole in Rentaghost or the witch in Chorlton and the Wheelies (or some reference that's not 30+ years out of date...)

What's your favourite cheese and why?

Halloumi. Cos it's squeaky. Who doesn't like squeaky cheese? Also because the joke - “What did the Greek cheese say when it looked in the mirror? Halloumi” - always makes me laugh.



If you were an animal what would you be and why?

A pug. Small, round, excitable, bit grunty...

If you could ask your future self one question what would it be?

Hmmm. Maybe 'Are you happy now?'

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

I would probably have to say the internet, since pretty much my entire life is on there. But I'm pretty damn keen on peanut butter too.

What's your favourite type of Pie?

Pumpkin pie. It's the only type of pie I can make and it's freakin' delicious.

If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why?

Probably can't really steal a house, can you? So if not a house then maybe a car. Or a pug!

Who's your favourite Villain and why?

Not mine, but whenever I think of villains I think of when my husband was reading the Northern Lights trilogy and had to keep putting the books down to rant about how much he hated Mrs Coulter and her golden monkey.

Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?

I still say 'touch wood' even though I don't believe it. But you have to, don't you. Just in case. *touches wood*




If you had a warning label, what would yours say and why?

May irritate.

What's your preferred playing piece in monopoly and why?

I haven't played Monopoly for years. But I always wanted to be the little dog. Doesn't everyone?

What was the last thing you ate?

A blueberry frangipani tart.

Who would you want to be trapped on a desert island with? Pick no more than five people!

Writers Martha Beck and Catherine Newman because they are wise and hilarious. My kids because I'd miss them too much otherwise. And obviously I should also say my husband, but I'm going to go with, um, George Clooney.




What song would you say best sums you up?

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Short, irritating, optimistic and a bit sweary.

What was your first job?

In a bookshop! Except it was a bookshop and stationers (no, not that one) and they put me on the stationery side. Plus they were mean to me. And the pay was terrible. Still, a bookshop. Yay!

What's the scariest thing you've ever done?

Probably moving to London when I was 18. I was pretty relaxed about it at the time (or at least I pretended I was), but looking back I can't quite believe I did it.




What is your favourite comfort food?

Chocolate. Or maybe cheese (with wine). Or peanut butter on toast. Or cake. Food-wise I'm not fussy, is what I'm saying.


What was your favourite childhood toy and why?

It was this  I couldn't remember what it was called, hadn't got round to googling it, but then it turned up on Rainbow Rowell's tumblr. Just looking at it makes me feel a bit wobbly, since I spent SO MUCH TIME with it. I know every inch of those plates, including the patterns on the back. It was my favourite because I wanted to be a fashion designer, despite having no talent and no particular interest in fashion...


What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Do what you like. Take That told me that. *nods wisely*

Yay! for Keris.  Keris' latest book, Starring Kitty, and is out now and should be bought by everyone because it's brilliant.  Find out more about Keris and her other marvellous books on her website.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Blog Tour: BOOK PEOPLE ARE THE BEST PEOPLE by Keris Stainton

Guest post today comes from the lovely Keris Stainton as part of the blog tour for her new book, Starring Kitty:


I was planning to write a post about how I wrote Starring Kitty. But then I went to London for the weekend and when I got back I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that every time I tried to write about how I wrote Starring Kitty I just pictured monkeys and typewriters. So I thought I'd write about what I did in London instead. 


I went to YALC - the UK's first young adult fiction convention, curated by the Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman. I hadn't really know what to expect - I'd never been to a con of any kind - but it was just one of the best things ever. A huge hall filled with passionate people* many of whom I've known online for YEARS, but had never met. I underestimated how overwhelming that would be. I spent half the time grinning at people who looked back at me blankly before going "Oh!" and the other half staring blankly at people who were grinning at me. But then there were hugs and chat and drinks and lots and lots of laughter. It was ace. 

I'm not going to talk about workshops or panels or parties or logistics or anything like that - over the next couple of weeks I imagine there will be plenty of posts covering every aspect. All I really want to say is that book people are the best people. (You knew that, yes?) And that I never take for granted how lucky I am to be part of this amazing community of authors and bloggers and agents and editors and publicists and more. It makes my heart happy. 

Also? I came home with free books. 

We're doing it all again next year, right? 

* Not book-related, but the guy with a camera who stopped a passing Darth Vader with the words "Excuse me, Lord Vader" pretty much won the weekend for me. 


-- 
New book - STARRING KITTY - out 10 July

Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes… 

Kitty's keeping secrets. Like how she's struggling to cope with her mum's illness. And how she's falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair... A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty's secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Review: Darkness Hidden by Zoë Marriott

GoodReads

In the electrifying second volume of Zoë Marriott's The Name of the Blade Trilogy, Mio, Jack and Shinobu have defeated the terrifying Nekomata against all odds, and brought Jack's sister home alive. 

But Mio is still compelled to protect the katana, her family's ancestral sword, and now the Underworld has spawned a worse monster – one carrying a devastating plague that sweeps through London like wildfire. 

As Mio struggles to protect the city and control the sword’s deadly powers, she realises that this time there is no way she can keep everyone she loves alive... and she must make a terrible sacrifice to save the world.


Review

WARNING: This is the second in the series of books so this review may contain spoilers for Book One, but won't contain spoilers for this book.

I was super-mega excited to receive this book for review because I loved Book One and I LOOOOOVE Zoë Marriott's work.  She is a shining light in the YA world and I couldn't wait to dive into this new piece in the puzzle of this book series.

Continuing on from the ending of the end of the last book, we follow Mio in a fight to protect the sword that is tied up in her family line and deal with her growing affections for Shinobu.  Along with her best friend, Jack, and Jack's recently rescued sister they have to fight to save London from creatures from another realm before they all fall victim to a mystery sickness sweeping the city.  Will the power within the sword be too much for Mio to control or will the sword take control of Mio?  Will everyone survive this deadly outbreak or will the darkness win over London and Mio?

A seriously good sequel that highlights the real darkness that can come with power.  It was terrifying to see how the darkness affected not just Mio but her friends too as they all got a taste of it in some form.  Mio has to really struggle with the idea of right and wrong in this book and decide what is right for her and what is right for the greater good.  I also had a soft spot for Mio's relationship with her Dad and Grandad that is looked at a little further in this book.  We get to see different sides to them through Mio's eyes and understand why they are the way they are and how it touches Mio too.  What was also rather lovely was to see more of the Japanese history and mythology and how it has been woven into this series.

A fantastic addition to the series and lays out some great ground work for what could well be an epic finale.  Dark and creepy with lots of heart in it.  Zoë Marriott has hit us with another winner.

Published by Walker Books UK and is available online and in bookshops now.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Feature: 20 Random Questions with …. Louise O'Neill


20 Random Questions is a feature on Sisterspooky that will show you a different side to authors you may already know and introduce new ones.  I ask 20 very Random Questions and they answer them.  Simple as that.  The idea was inspired from a mixture of things in my head and a random question asked by Jim over at YA Contemporary

Today we welcome Louise O'Neill to the blog to take on the evil questions of doooooooom.  Over to Louise for her answers:


If you were ruler of the world what laws would you make?
I would get rid of Page 3, ban all Pitbull songs forever, make Queen Elizabeth share her rocks with me, and turn Necker Island into a budget holiday destination.

If you were a super hero what powers would you have? Limit to three powers!
Time travel, so that I go back to the 90s and invent Google. And Facebook. The ability to transport myself, like Paige in Charmed, so that I could find a way home from remote house parties at 5am. (This is a legitimate problem when you live in the country.) Last, but not least, the ability to think of witty and devastating retorts on the spot when someone insults you. Ka-pow! Bam! 

What's your favourite cheese and why?
Four year old Louise would make a serious case for Calvita but my tastes are far more refined these days, don’t you know. We make seriously good cheese in Ireland; in my opinion Cashel Blue and Gubbeen cheese are hard to beat. 

If you were an animal what would you be and why?
I would morph into my dog, Jinky, because all he does is sleep and endure my incessant hugging all day. Who wouldn’t love that? Besides Harry Styles, David Bowie, Solange Knowles, Lupita, and all other members of my Restraining Order Club. Celebrities these days. Can’t even handle a bit of stalking and mild intimidation. #weak

If you could ask your future self one question what would it be?
What are the numbers for next week’s Euromillions? Will Alex Pettyfer ever fall in love with me? What is the next Harry Potter going to be? Is getting a pixie hair cut a good idea? How did I get the ability to talk to my future self? Is this normal?

What's your favourite type of Pie?
Mmmm, pie. In a dream world, where I wasn’t a sugar junkie and could eat a slice of cake like a normal person and not have to eat the entire cake (where was I?) I would choose Victoria Sponge or a meringue roulade. I’m trying to stay off sugar though, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how good Susan Jane White’s sugar free treats are. Her almond halva is particularly delicious.


If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why?
Angelina’s Jolie’s Face, for obvious reasons.

Who's your favourite Villain and why?
Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, but only for the costume. I’d have to ditch the hundred or so felines running around her apartment, because hygiene.

Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I always wave when I see a single magpie and I whisper this chant to myself, which I made up when I was six or seven. God be quick, God be slight, Keep from me the magpie’s plight. Yup, I realise that ‘slight’ was the incorrect word to use there but give me a break, I was practically still in nappies, m’kay?


If you had a warning label, what would yours say and why?
Best consumed in the morning.

What's your preferred playing piece in monopoly and why?
I never liked Monopoly, because it went on and on and on and... well, you get the picture. I preferred The Game of Life. I always wanted to get the actress card, the highest salary card, a early marriage and two kids – a boy and a girl, obvs. The only thing that I still want is the highest salary, please and thank you. When I did play Monopoly, under duress I must tell you, I liked the iron piece I liked how smoothly it ran across the board.Yes, I was a weird child. I also liked the top hat because it was stylin’.

What was the last thing you ate?
I ate roasted salmon with a ridiculously big salad, and toasted seeds, grated beetroot, seaweed flakes and sprouted alfalfa on top. I’m on a health kick, can’t you tell? Come closer and admire my glowing skin. Seriously. Tell me it’s worth it. Please? PLEASE?

Who would you want to be trapped on a desert island with? Pick no more than five people!
I’d like to be on a desert island by myself because I’m very strange and I love quite a lot of alone time. Can I choose five books instead? I’d like to bring Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head, Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies... Wait, that’s more than five isn’t it? Ah sure, let me throw in John McGahern’s Amongst Women, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

What song would you say best sums you up?
Beyonce’s Flawless, mais oui! (Meredith Brooks’ Bitch, probably.)

What was your first job?
I worked in a model railway village in my home town of Clonakilty, serving people in the coffee shop, giving tours, and fixing the model trains when they fell off the tracks. That happened more than you would think.


What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
I was hospitalised at 21 with anorexia, and that first night was terrifying. After my mother left, the nurses asked me to fill in an order form for what I would eat the next day, and I couldn’t sleep all night because I had ticked Weetabix instead of porridge on the sheet by accident. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had to share a room with this other poor girl who couldn’t stop crying, and that someone from one of the ‘high security’ wards had escaped and was running up and down the corridor screaming. 

What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
My dad always gives good advice too, especially where time management and work schedules are involved but the best piece of advice that anyone has ever given me was ‘What other people think of you is none of your business.’ It can be hard to stop caring about how you’re being perceived by others, but ultimately how you feel about yourself is the most important. 

Thanks to Louise for answering my questions.  Louise's debut, Only Ever Yours, is published by Quercus on July 3rd .  
Check out Louise's website and twitter for more info.