Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday Feature: Interview with Matt Cartney

As a huge fan of Matt Cartney's, it was great to talk to him about his Danny Lansing books!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

That's a great question! I just gave it a go - I screwed my eyes shut and into my head popped an image of a boy in a sleeping bag. He's on a camping trip, reading by the light of a torch, as the rain patters against the flysheet of his tent.

I suppose that means I see my readers as adventurous types - although not necessarily boys!

2. While it's a modern story and feels fresh and up to date, I said in my review that The Sons of Rissouli is reminiscent of classic adventure stories. What books did you grow up reading?

I'm very glad to hear that, because a modern take on classic adventure stories is exactly what I was going for!

Perhaps not surprisingly, I grew up reading those classic adventure stories. Particular favourites were the 'Biggles' books, Herge's Adventures of Tintin and the 'Swallows and Amazons' stories by Arthur Ransome. I also loved true stories of adventure, reading everything I could get my hands on. I really enjoyed some of the well known classics, like 'The Ascent of Everest' by Sir John Hunt and Thor Heyerdahl's 'Kon Tiki', but real joy came from finding rather more obscure tales of derring-do. 'No Picnic on Mount Kenya' by Felice Benuzzi and 'Lord of the Sharks'  by Franco Prosperi are two absolute belters I would recommend to any fan of adventure stories!

As a big fan of the earlier books you mentioned, I'll definitely keep an eye out for the last two!

3. I really liked the fairly short length of The Sons of Rissouli - especially as there was so much action packed into it! Are there any books you've ever read that you wished had been cut down in length?

When I was fifteen my English teacher made us read 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' by Thomas Hardy. I know it's a classic, but I confess I felt I'd never get to the end of it. My teacher then redeemed himself by setting us 'Love and War in Apennines' by Eric Newby. Newby remains one of my favourite authors - indeed, one of the recurring characters in my books is named after him.

4. According to Twitter, you're a mountaineer, snowboarder and motorcyclist. Which do you enjoy the most?

It's a difficult choice, but I'd have to say mountaineering. There's something incredibly satisfying about climbing to the top of a beautiful peak and looking out at the world below. Of course, the best thing is to combine more than one. I love to ride my motorbike to the bottom of a mountain and then hike up. I also love 'backcountry' snowboarding - which is essentially just climbing mountains then riding back down!

5. You also describe yourself as an ''inveterate traveller'' on Twitter. where's the coolest place you've ever been to?

Maybe Iran. Possibly New Zealand. Tibet was pretty cool... you know, I've been to a whole bunch of places that I thought were extremely cool and would struggle to choose between them, so I'm going to cheat and say the 'coolest' place I've been is the Hardangervidda in Norway. I was ski-touring acros the plateau and camping as I went. At night it dropped below -20 celsius and the condensation from my breath froze in sheets of frost on the inside of my tent. I slept with all my clothes on - including my down jacket and woolly hat! To stop my water going solid, I had to keep my waterbottle in my jacket during the day and in my sleeping bag at night. Now that was really cool - freezing in fact!

If anything, that sounds slightly too cool for me!

6. If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why? (Thanks go to Laura from Sister Spooky for the random question!)

It would have to be the keys to the National Motorcycle Museum. That way I could pop in late on a friday night and borrow a different classic motorbike every weekend!

7. If you could throw a small party for YA characters and/or authors, which six would you invite, and where would you hold it?

Let's see... Nancy Blackett from the Swallows and Amazons books would have to be there as she is my favourite fictional character. And Roger Walker from the same books - he always gets blamed for everything, so it would be nice for him to have an adventure without his siblings! Then I'd invite Ginger Hebblethwaite from the Biggles books, Tintin and Captain Haddock. Finally I'd invite Danny Lansing, as I'm sure he'd get on with all of them.

We'd have the party at Captain Haddock's home - Marlinspike Hall. I'd love to explore Marlinspike, accompanied by exclamations of 'Barbequed Billygoats!', 'By Jove!' and 'Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles!' from my companions, with every amazing new artefact we found!

Brilliant choices - some of my favourite characters, particularly Nancy and Ginger (and Danny, of course!)

8. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what's the soundtrack to the Danny Lansing Adventures?

I don't listen to music when I'm actually writing, as I find it distracting. But I often find myself imagining scenes from the book I'm working on while I'm listening to music in the car or on the train. Usually it's the kind of music that would go well with a road trip - which is fitting because my books are very much about travelling and having new experiences. We're talking rock music mostly, like Pearl Jam's 'Given to Fly', 'Back in Black' by AC/DC or 'Radar Love' by Golden Earing.

9. What are you reading at the moment?

Right now I'm reading 'The Second World War' by Anthony Beevor. I'm a sucker for WWII history, as anyone who has read 'Red, White and Black' will know!

10. What's next for Matt Cartney?

Well, I've finished one more 'Danny Lansing Adventure' which I'm hoping will be out later this year. It's called 'The Treasure of Can Balam' and is set in the jungles of Central America. I'm about to start a short e-book (also starring Danny) set in Iceland and then it's another full length adventure with Danny, set in Russia. I must confess... I enjoy the research trips as much as the writing!

Sounds great! Looking forward to them all. And I envy you the research trips!

Find more about Danny at his own website, Danny Lansing Adventures, and follow Matt on Twitter!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday Feature: Author Interview with Ingrid Jonach

The plan for the week ahead is to do a bit of focusing on one of my favourite imprints, Strange Chemistry, so I'm delighted to be interviewing one of their authors, Ingrid Jonach, today! This is part of the blog tour for the just released When The World Was Flat (And We Were In Love.)

Make sure you keep reading to the end, by the way, as the blog tour has a stunning giveaway running!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
What a fantastic question! I probably picture myself and my friends as the readers. I shared the draft manuscript with a range of close friends, who were both male and female of various ages and from various professions. I guess that means I imagine a broad range of readers – both genders and various age groups from teens through to readers my age (yes, I am being coy about my age!) and beyond.

2. I really enjoyed Lillie's narration. Who's your own favourite narrator?
That would have to be Clarice Bean (you can tell I write children’s books too!). I love a main character who makes me laugh and I was hooked from the moment I started reading Utterly Me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Child. 
Exhibit A: I am the third oldest, and I think it would have been a good idea if I was the youngest, too. I am not quite sure why my mom and dad wanted to have more children after me. They don't need another one and it's a shame because he is spoiling it for everyone else.

3. I'm intentionally trying to be vague here, so apologies if this question is confusing! (To you or to readers...) When The World Was Flat... deals with some really heavy scientific topics. Do you have a background in science? And how much research did you have to do before writing it? 
I have no formal scientific qualifications (unless you count my stint as the unofficial weather girl for my local newspaper), but I am a bit of a geek when it comes to science – particularly quantum physics and fringe science. I am mesmerized by theories like string theory and entanglement, and writing a science fiction novel gave me a legitimate reason to spend hours researching these theories and others.
I would say that only a pin-prick of what I researched ended up in the novel. There were a few scientific explanations that we cut out during editing to simplify the story, but I am looking forward to including them on a spoilers page on my website!

4. You describe When The World Was Flat... as ''taking inspiration from Albert Einstein's theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.'' If Einstein was alive today and asking you for book recommendations, I take it your own would be one - but what else do you think he'd enjoy?
I would have to be able to form a coherent sentence in front of him first (I would be very star struck!), but, if I could, I would definitely recommend Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams (I recently found out it is also a musical, so I would suggest he went to see it as well). 
Einstein placed a high value upon imagination and I think he would have had an appreciation for this imagining of his dreams while he was developing his famous theories. In fact, Einstein even said that imagination was more important than knowledge!

5. You're taking part in what must be the longest blog tour I've ever seen! How do you find the time to write so many fab pieces, and is this delaying your next book?
It definitely grew a bit bigger than intended, but I am so thankful for the support and so excited to be 'traveling the world' as part of my Around the World in 80 Days Blog Tour. I do constantly moan about not having enough time, but I am an eternal optimist. Thankfully my optimism has paid dividends, because I have not only been able to dream up and draft a bunch of blog posts, but I have also been busy finalising my current WIP.
I am a to-do list person, so I give myself a quota of blog posts that I have to write each week and make sure I stay at least a couple of weeks ahead. I write at night and have cleared most of my weekends. It is all about time management – as I have learned from years of balancing a day job with writing. You also have to be a bit inventive, for example, I listen to audio books in the car and edit on my eReader on my lunch breaks.

6. While this is your YA debut, you've written the Frankie books for younger children. What's the main difference in the way you approach writing to different age groups?
I definitely draw more on my own experiences when writing YA. There are characters and scenes in When the World was Flat (and we were in love) that were inspired by my own teenage years. I also censor a lot less. I am very conscious of writing age-appropriate books and my books for children are very G-rated as a result.

7. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what was the soundtrack to When The World Was Flat...
I tend to listen to music before I write to get in the mood. I generally like to write or edit without distraction (although there are days when I will just let the playlist continue).
The Scientist by Coldplay was definitely the theme song for When the World was Flat (and we were in love). It sums up the storyline perfectly. I also listened to a lot of Lana del Rey, particularly Blue Jeans and Born to Die.
Another song that I loved to listen to before writing was Bird Girl by Anthony and the Johnsons. It is not related to the book, but it would put me in a melancholy mood immediately.

8. If you could collaborate with any other author, who would it be and why?
Living? Definitely Victor Kelleher. His books fuelled my love of reading as a kid and teen, and I still cry when I read his book Brother Night. I also really appreciate his ability to write across a range of genres and age groups, which would also mean we would not be limited in what we wrote together.

Deceased? Definitely Jane Austen. I just adore the romantic tension in her novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice, which inspired When the World was Flat (and we were in love).

9. If you had a warning label, what would yours say and why? (Thanks to Laura from Sister Spooky for the rather random question!)
Very random! But I love it!
My warning label would say:
Caution – Is likely to pull out of your party, barbecue, catch up, movie night, dog walking club, etc. It is not personal.
I am a total workaholic, and put my day job and writing first. They are my bread and butter, and the air that I breathe respectively. It often means socializing has to take a backseat. Thankfully, my family and friends and very understanding. At least they were the last time I checked, which was a while ago thanks to my blog tour!

10. What's next for Ingrid Jonach?
I am hoping to finish my WIP (probably post blog tour!) and submit it to my publisher via my agent. It is a standalone, but is loosely connected to the theories in When the World was Flat (and we were in love). The genre is sci fi romance again, but with a touch of horror.

Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again. 
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

Author Bio
Ingrid Jonach writes books for children and young adults, including the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan, and When the World was Flat (and we were in love) published by Strange Chemistry.
Since graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (Hons) in 2005, Ingrid has worked as a journalist and in public relations, as well as for the Australian Government.
Ingrid loves to promote reading and writing, and has been a guest speaker at a number of schools and literary festivals across Australia, where she lives with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.
Despite her best efforts, neither Craig nor Mooshi read fiction.
Find out more at

Book Details
When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: 3 September 2013 in the US and Canada, and 5 September 2013 in the UK, as well as worldwide as ebook and audio.

Giveaway Details and Widget
Enter below for your chance to win one of two awesome prize packages as part of the Around the World in 80 Days Blog Tour for When the World was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach.
There will be two winners worldwide. Each prize package includes:
  • a signed copy of When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
  • a pair of silver plated key-shaped earrings in a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) gift box
  • a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) bookmark.

The competition will run until 21 October 2013 and the winners will be announced on this page and via

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Book Recommendation of Into The Grey by Celine Kiernan

(Thanks to the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a considering it for a recommendation.)

After a fire at the house of teen boys Pat and Dom, something strange happens to the brothers. One day, Pat wakes and sees a strange little goblin boy talking to Dom. When Dom forgets about this, Pat has to try to deal with the issue and save his beloved twin's life before he's lost to the Grey.

This one took me ages to read because for weeks, the only reading time I had was late at night, and it's that little bit too chilling for me to be particularly comfortable reading it just before going to sleep! The haunting in this book is truly scary, and it's unpredictability makes it more worrying to read.

It's no surprise to those of us who've read Celine Kiernan's Moorehawke trilogy - up there with Curtis Jobling's Wereworld series and Daniel Abraham's The Dagger And The Coin books as the best fantasy of the last decade for me - that the relationships between the characters, particularly Dom and Pat, are so brilliantly portrayed and form the heart of the book. What's also interesting, though, is that there's no real villain here. The ghost haunting Dom is just as lost as Pat is, and for all Pat's frustration at him, the problem can't be dealt with unless they can start to empathise with each other.

Additionally, the setting of Ireland in the 1970s and flashbacks to the 1910s is captured well.