Monthly Archives: May 2014

Reinvent yourself




Today I’m guest posting on the subject of reinvention, over at the blog of the wonderful Emma Pass, who wrote YA dystopian novels Acid and The Fearless. There’s nothing like a good makeover when you’re feeling a bit jaded, I’ve found. Which reminds me, it’s high time I decluttered my office.


I’m guesting – or maybe I should say ghosting – over on fellow YA writer  Tamsyn Murray’s blog today. While you’re there, check out her other posts, featuring authors like Caroline Green and Hannah Beckerman talking about who they would like to haunt.

Tamsyn has recently relaunched her brilliant YA story My So-Called Afterlife, which has received some great reviews.  

Imagine setting off for home one dark New Year’s Eve and never reaching your front door. Imagine losing everything you’ve ever known in one horrific moment. Imagine knowing you’ll never hug your mum or dad again. And imagine having to spend eternity in the most horrific, awful place you can think of… 

For fifteen year old Lucy Shaw, that’s reality. Stuck in the men’s toilets on Carnaby Street, she’s trying to come to terms with her own death, the bone-crushing loneliness and a floor that’s swimming with pee. Until the unlikeliest of saviours walks into her afterlife, that is – a twenty-seven year old lighting engineer called Jeremy, the only person who’s ever known she was there. Together, they find a way to get Lucy out of the loo and discover there’s a whole afterlife of mates, parties and boys just waiting to be discovered. But the shadow of Lucy’s murderer is looming again and it’s only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt. Is Lucy about to lose everything she loves again?

Blog on

Blog award


I’ve been nabbed by my best writing buddy Wendy Storer to take part in the Very Inspiring Blogger award, otherwise known as Seven Things – at least, that’s what I’ve been calling it in my head. I’ve known Wendy since we were both fledgeling writers, and she’s the best beta reader in the business. She was also a join runner-up in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition in 2013 and has since published two crazy-good YA novels: Where Bluebirds Fly and Bring Me Sunshine. Check out her blog for reams of great writerly advice.

So here goes:

Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I have gnew gnashers. My dentist suggested I try the six month smile invisible braces and I capitulated. It was a little over six months and they weren’t entirely invisible, but for the first time in my life I have perfectly straight teeth. I feel a bit freaked out every time I catch sight of them in the mirror.
  2. I recently decided it would be fun to collect auriculas, which are like expensive, fussy, smelly primroses. This means I’m actually about 89 years old and I will probably kill them within weeks.
  3. I have a pond full of fish that are breeding at an exponential rate. I estimate that within five years we will have enough goldfish to populate most of Northern Europe.
  4. I used to dye my hair red, but in my head I was still blonde. So when people called out ‘hey, ginge’ I had no idea they were referring to me.
  5. My favourite language is Russian. I learnt it for several years, but have now sadly forgotten most of it.
  6. In another life I’d have liked to have been a midwife.
  7. I can speak guinea pig. Seriously, I can get them to talk back. And you never forget how to oink like a piggle.

Anyway, I’m now passing on the love, and this magnificent blogger award, to:

Kate Kelly, author of cli-fi cliffhanger Red Rock.

Rachel Hamilton, whose debut The Case of The Exploding Loo came out last week.

Helen Douglas, author of the time travel romance series, After Eden.

Kerry Drewery, who wrote A Dream of Lights and A Brighter Fear.

Over to you, guys. Looking forward to seeing all your answers!


A Place in Pictures

1786443I’ve had a lot of fun creating a Pinterest board for Now You See Me. Lots of pictures of places I mention in the book, and a few other things besides.

I based my fictional town loosely on the coastal resort of Clevedon in North Somerset. My grandparents lived in a house on Dial Hill with incredible views over the town and the Bristol Channel. I used to spend hours with a pair of binoculars looking out of the big picture window in the living room, watching the ships passing to and from Bristol docks. You could watch people walking along the sea front, heading up to the Salthouse fields and Marine Lake, both of which feature heavily in the book. On a fine day, you could see right across the water to the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm, even to the distant hills and factories in Wales.

A popular resort in the Victorian era, Clevedon has lots of rather grand stone houses, its own pier and an ornamental bandstand, though its beaches are more mud and seaweed than sand and blue sea. I spent many holidays there as a child, and it holds many happy memories. Although I did nip back for a weekend when I was editing Now You See Me, it wasn’t hard to recall the landmarks. The places you love best as a child linger on the memory, and it’s fascinating to go back and find that everywhere is much as you remember it.

That said, my grandparents are no longer alive and their house, sold on ten years ago to a developer, has now changed almost beyond recognition. Perhaps there are some places you should never return to.  But the plaque commemorating their lives is still on the pier, along with a dedication at the front of my book. I‘d like to think, had they still been alive, that they would have enjoyed it.

Emma Pass rolls in with The Fearless

The Fearless blog tour banner FINAL (1)


I’m dead chuffed today to be the last stop on Emma Pass’ The Fearless blog tour. If you haven’t seen a copy of  Emma’s brilliant YA post-apocalyptic thriller yet, this is what it’s all about:

“The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side effect – anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.

Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother – and when Jori is snatched by the Fearless, Cass must risk everything to get him back.”

Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, Acid, is out now from Corgi/Random House in the UK, and from Delacorte in the US.  It won the 2014 North East Teenage Book Award, was shortlisted for the Doncaster Book Award, nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and has been longlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award and a Silver Inky Award in Australia. Her second novel, The Fearless, is also out now in the UK from Corgi/Random House and will be published in the US in early 2015 by Delacorte. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and crazy greyhound G-Dog in the North East Midlands.

Gettin’ Down Wit Da Kids, Yo… Or, er, Not: How To Create Authentic Teenage Characters

 So you want to write a novel. A novel for teens, with teenage characters. And you want to make them as authentic as possible living, breathing teenagers who jump off the page; who will make your readers gasp aloud in surprise and delight and say, ‘That’s me! This author is writing about me!

But how?

 Do you go out and find a group of teens and eavesdrop on them in the hope of picking up some of the current lingo, then pepper your manuscript with it so your characters sound ‘real’? Do you create a character who is A TeenagerÔ,  complete with An AttitudeÔ, who Argues With Their ParentsÔ and… you get the idea.

Anyway, the answer is, no. Please, don’t!!

Aside from the fact that eavesdropping on anybody is a bad idea, while it might be tempting to include the latest slang in your dialogue, language is always evolving, and those ‘in’ words you’re using are probably already falling out of favour. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to get a book deal, publishing is a long process, and by the time the book comes out that dialogue will make it look as dated as a handlebar moustache and flared trousers. And ‘being a teenager’ is not a condition, with a list of symptoms you need to check off in order to be able to diagnose it.

It’s easy to underestimate teenagers, stereotype them or write them off as all being the same. In reality, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ teenager, just as there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ adult. Your teen characters are people, and it’s important to treat them as such.

So make your teen characters authentic by respecting them. Find out who they are and what makes them tick. What are their quirks, their hopes, their fears? What do they love? What do they hate? How do they relate to the people around them? What’s happened in their past that’s shaped them into who they are now? And most importantly of all, why are they in this story and what do they want? What do they need? By being true to your characters and your story – the two, after all, are completely intermeshed – your characters will leap off the page for all the right reasons instead of the wrong ones.

Emma pass


The Fearless is out now from Corgi/Random House Children’s Publishers (UK) and early 2015 from Delacorte (US).

Check out Emma’s website at or look her up on Facebook. You can also chat to Emma on Twitter. Emma is a regular contributor to The Lucky 13s and Author Allsorts.