Monday, 31 March 2014

Guest Post: Michael Grant on the GONE TV show

Really pleased to welcome the author of one of my favourite series to the blog today to talk about the screen version of GONE!

I want to begin by thanking Jim for kindly offering up the blog for this post, allowing me to speak to his readers. 

Probably my most frequently-asked question is:  will there be a GONE movie or TV show?  I sometimes find this irritating.  Because the job of dealing with Hollywood on the topic of a GONE movie or TV series has been irritating.  So its irritating to be asked about something irritating. 

Let me say this up-front:  whatever you may have taken from the Frankie Muniz movie, Big Fat Liar, the Hollywood producers Ive dealt with have been universally pleasant and respectful and rather boringly normal.  I recall being at one such meeting where we spent a good deal of time discussing where one could get the best deals on baby diapers.  And absolutely no one has invited me to a drunken Hollywood orgy.


People sometimes call it the couch tour.  You go from meeting to meeting and you sit on a couch and discuss things and really all you want to say is, Can I have a movie? Please?  I dont really care, but my readers are driving me nuts about it.  (Okay, I do really care.  That was just me trying to sound cool.)  Usually the producers have a suggestion, such as, Why not make all the characters older so we can cast Will Smith?  Or, We are troubled by certain things.  No, not the violence.  Were troubled by Orc smoking.

Because stone-fleshed murderous monsters set a really bad example when they smoke. You dont ever see Godzilla smoking, do you? 

But in general the Hollywood folk are very smart and very well-informed.  One such, who shall remain nameless (Hes largely responsible for some movies every single one of you saw,) looked at me across the table and said, You know?  I dont see this as a movie.  But it would make a hell of a TV show.

Which is exactly what Id been saying for months by that point.  In fact, from Day One, Page One, I had built GONE to go to TV (if it went anywhere) rather than movie.  Ensemble cast, long story-lines, nuanced characters, GONE was never about striking visuals or big set pieces, its always been about this group of kids who. . . Well, you know. 

Now comes the real torture.  Because now I have an actual TV deal for GONE.  Its with someone big: Sony Pictures TV.  Theyre the outfit that does everything from Wheel of Fortune to Community to The Blacklist.  I met with the woman who would be the executive producer (EP in the jargon) and, Oh. My. God:  she gets it.  I mean, she really understands GONE.  And then she set her sights on a TV writer and Oh. My. God: hes really good.  Now, after so much disappointment, and so very many meetings, we have the beginnings of something.

Something which might actually happen.  Or.  Or might go poof! 

We are now at a point where I have a deal, and just the right people.  And I have absolutely no control over what happens next.  As soon as I know anything definite, Ill put it out via my Twitter account: @TheFayz. 

And of course it all starts all over again when MESSENGER OF FEAR comes out.  Great.  More couches. 

Until then, fingers crossed. 

Find out more about Michael's books at the Twitter account mentioned above or his official website.


I've spent about 3 weeks planning on writing a sign-up post for #LGBTApril and have just realised that it starts tomorrow, so I'm going to get an ultra-quick one down here and may edit at some point.

For those who aren't aware of it, LGBT Month is hosted by Cayce at Fighting Dreamer and Laura at Laura Plus Books. It runs throughout April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT readers, LGBT authors and of course LGBT books!

I'm aiming to read a fair amount of LGBT books. I'm terrible at planning this stuff ahead of time but a few I have to choose from...

Books I have/have got from library:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden
Keeping You A Secret by Julie-Anne Peters
Hero by Perry Moore

Books I'm hopefully getting or borrowing before the end of the month

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Adaptation by Malinda Lo
It's Our Prom by Julie-Anne Peters

Books I'm tempted to buy even though I have far too many books...

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Teeth by Hannah Moskovitz
The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
Great by Sara Benincasa (Published in US a week tomorrow so tempted to get an import)
Coda by Emma Trevayne

Books I've read and should review:

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton

Books I'm desperately hoping review copies are available of before the end of April: (Subtle, me?!)

Pea's Book of Holidays by Susie Day

I'm also hoping to do a few discussion posts, although I ALWAYS say that. Stuff I'd like to talk about if I get a chance:

 'Light' LGBT fiction - why isn't there more of it? (As much as I love having my heart torn out by people like Tess Sharpe and Cat Clarke, Starring Kitty was hugely refreshing as it was so adorable!

Why Isn't The Blurb Out? I LOVED Far From You but the blurb irritated me by making no mention of the central relationship which is by far the best thing about this wonderful book. This is hardly unique - should books be up front about their LGBT characters? What about the 'twist' of someone being LGBT? (Thinking of one in particular where you may assume the narrator is a girl until the halfway point when he's revealed to be a gay guy...)

LGBT Films and TV Shows - This will clearly be me raving about Dance Academy, but I may throw in shout-outs to Kissing Jessica Stein and Lost & Delirious

A Sporcle quiz or two.

Are you signing up for #LGBTApril? Any books I haven't listed here that I should definitely read? Let me know in comments or on Twitter! (Also, if you're short of recommendations for books to read, then Dahlia Adler's QUILTBAG YA/NA Compendium is AMAZING. Although apologies if she bankrupts you...)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Author Interview with Cat Clarke

While I'm stunned by the generosity of ALL authors who give up their time to talk to me, today's is an extra-special one for me. I interviewed Cat Clarke a few years ago after the release of her brilliant Torn, and I don't think I've ever done a repeat interview before - until now! (Feel free to point out one I've forgotten in the comments, if I'm wrong here.)

As much as I loved Torn, I think next Thursday's release A Kiss In The Dark is Cat's best yet, so I was really excited to get the chance to ask her about it.

1. What changes have you seen when it comes to YA in this country since you first became a published author just over 3 years ago?

There’s more of it, and a lot more variety too, which can only be a good thing. When Entangled came out, there was still a lot of paranormal romance on the shelves. I was clearing out my study the other day and came across a printout of an early version of the Entangled cover – it had a VERY paranormal romance vibe going on! I’m so glad we ended up going down a different route!

2. Moving onto questions specifically about A Kiss In The Dark, which are going to be super-vague to avoid spoilers... it's narrated partly by Alex and partly by Kate. Did you find one of their voices easier to write than the other?

I found Alex’s voice the easiest to write, I think. Kate’s section was trickier, because there was a lot that it had to do. It had to work harder, in a way. It’s always like that with my writing though. I love setting up obstacles for my characters, putting them in tricky situations and seeing how they react. It’s the tricky wrapping-things-up stage that always seems to put a spanner in the works!

3. You tackle some really tough scenes in your books, with suicide in Undone and others in A Kiss In The Dark which I won't go into due to my usual fear of spoilers. The idea of 'age ratings' for books seems to have cropped up again recently, with a few newspaper articles and blog posts about it. Where do you stand on the idea?

I agree that age ratings can be handy, especially for people buying books for children, but I’m not a fan. A book that’s suitable for one nine year old may not be suitable for another. A child might be put off reading a book that’s considered too ‘young’ for them. And is the age rating supposed to be about reading age or the content of the book? I have too many questions and misgivings. In the end, I think there’s no substitute for good advice when it comes to buying children’s books, whether that be from a bookseller or a librarian or a blogger. Each reader is different and has different needs, and I hate to think of children not finding the book they want – or need – because someone has put a needless barrier in their way.

4. I'd say that your main characters are often not particularly likeable, with several of them doing some terrible things, but they're always sympathetic as we can see WHY they do these things. Do you think it's important that a lead character is sympathetic? Any tips for writing them?

I don’t think main characters have to be anything other than interesting. I don’t need a main character to be likeable, and I don’t even need to necessarily understand why they do the things they do, I just have to care enough to want to find out what happens to them. I’m not sure my characters are all sympathetic, but thanks Jim! As for advice for writing sympathetic characters, it’s probably most important to make them real. Above all, the reader has to believe in the character. I’m just not entirely sure what the secret is!

5. There's been a huge upswing in LGBTQ UKYA fiction recently, with some of your books, like Undone and Falling, towards the forefront. Do you think this will continue over the next few years?

Definitely. I think we’re going to see more and more LGBTQ UKYA novels, and I can’t wait to read them! We’re slowly but surely catching up to the US on this front, I think. I know there are some awesome-sounding LGBTQ books coming up soon from Keris Stainton, Liz Kessler and James Dawson, and there are hopefully lots more I’ve yet to hear about.

I've been lucky enough to read Keris's Starring Kitty and it's AMAZINGLY good, can't wait for everyone else to read it so I have people to talk to about it. Liz and James are both fab so really looking forward to theirs as well.

6. Without revealing anything about the ending to A Kiss In The Dark, several of your previous books have left readers wailing. Did you buy shares in tissue companies before becoming an author?

Damn! I missed a trick there, didn’t I? Where’s that TARDIS when I need it? Nothing makes me happier than hearing that my books make people cry, except when I heard that Entangled made someone faint. That was pretty cool too. For my next trick, I’d like to make a reader puke. Or maybe have a nosebleed. On second thoughts, maybe I should stick with crying.

7. If you could ask any other UKYA author any other question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

I would ask Malorie Blackman if she wouldn’t mind me borrowing her brain once in a while. I’m sure we could come to some sort of satisfactory arrangement – every other Tuesday afternoon, perhaps. Just for an hour or two.

8. What was the last thing you Googled?

Little Red Riding Hood.

9. Last time I interviewed you, you shared a few artists who you were listening to when writing Torn. Did you listen to music when writing A Kiss In The Dark? If so, any particular artists?

The song I listened to most when writing A Kiss in the Dark was ‘It’s a Girl Thing’ by My Life Story. Several hundred times, probably. Weirdly enough, I’ve recently stopped listening to music while I write. I never thought that would happen, but for some reason I just started finding it massively distracting all of a sudden!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Jim!

Thanks so much for taking part, Cat!

A Kiss in the Dark is out on Thursday - why not pre-order from your local bookshop? For more from Cat check her out on Twitter and on her website, and of course read her previous novels Entangled, Torn, Undone and Falling!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Recommendation: Bone Jack by Sara Crowe

Author: Sara Crowe
Obtained: From publisher in exchange for consideration for a recommendation
Why I Read It: The cover and blurb made it sounds amazing. (Spoiler for my review - they were right!)
Genre: YA contemporary fantasy
Very Highly Recommended
Release date: April 3rd

15-year-old Ash has been waiting for his father to come back from the war. He's following in his dad's footsteps as the stag boy in the traditional Stag Chase, and he knows his dad will be proud of him. Running through the mountains whenever he can to train, he's not bothered by the taunts of the other boys who he beat to become the stag, and who will take their places as hounds - he knows their hostility is traditional. But something is stirring in the countryside, and he sees strange visions, while his old friend Mark is behaving seriously creepily. Is Mark just grieving for his father, or is there something more sinister at work?

This is becoming a remarkably strong year for debut authors. The first three months have seen the publication of Non Pratt's Trouble, Anne Booth's Girl With a White Dog, and Tess Sharpe's Far From You. Joining their ranks as a truly stunning first novel is Bone Jack, a deeply disquieting tale which mixes old legends with thoroughly modern problems. Ash's village is reeling from foot and mouth, his father is suffering from shell shock after returning from the war, and farmers are going bankrupt all around. It's the perfect balance of these elements which make this stand out as something special.

I read a lot of books quickly but this is perhaps the one I raced through fastest recently. That's partly because I was desperate to find out what would happen - it's a really unpredictable read - but it's also because there's no way on earth I wanted to be reading it after 10 o'clock at night! (That turned out to be nowhere near early enough as a cut-off point, sadly - I woke up twice during the night. The first time, I couldn't get back to sleep in case a character from the novel was waiting in my dreams; the second, because I was too busy trying to think how to review something this brilliant!)

Ash is a great main character, who's physically and mentally tough but who doesn't know how to handle either his father or his former best friend. It's these two relationships which give the book a lot more depth than I was perhaps expecting - both are superb. The portrayal of Ash and his mum trying to ease his father back into his old life and avoid stressing him out is excellent, while the antagonistic way Mark and Ash interact feels incredibly realistic for two people once so close. The fantasy elements are also brilliantly handled, with strong elements of classic legends like the Wild Hunt being clear influences. (Speaking of the Wild Hunt, if you're looking for perfect music to listen to this, head to the wonderful BarlowCree's website and check out Mallt-y-Nos, the third video down.)

Massive recommendation to all, particularly to fans of The Dark Is Rising, The Wicker Man, or Hollow Pike. I'm already desperate to read Sara Crowe's next!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Divergent Experience 29th-30th March - Including EUROPEAN PREMIERE TICKETS giveaway!

If you have any plans for next weekend, you may want to cancel them! The Divergent Experience happening in Leicester Square and it looks AMAZING, well worth going to even if you don't have a ticket for the European premiere.

Of course, the one thing better than going to the Divergent Experience WITHOUT a couple of tickets for the European premiere would be doing what I'm doing, and going to it WITH a couple of tickets for the European premiere... and I may just be able to help out with that. Check out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to be in with a chance of winning two tickets for the premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on Sunday March 30th at 2:30!

Experience the world of the hotly anticipated DIVERGENT movie in Leicester Square and attend the EUROPEAN PREMIERE!

On Saturday March 29th and Sunday March 30th Leicester Square will be transformed into the dystopian world of DIVERGENT, where fans will be invited to undergo initiation tests and, like Tris Prior, choose where they belong. Would you survive in Dauntless? Fans will be put through their paces with Dauntless training to see if you are brave enough to join their faction!

But that’s not all – we have a pair of tickets for the European premiere of DIVERGENT at Odeon Leicester Square on the Sunday at 1.30pm, attended by stars of the film Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet! So not only can you discover the world for yourself, you can walk the red carpet, mingle with the stars and watch the film before it’s released in the UK!

Enter here for your chance to win this once in a lifetime experience! If you aren’t lucky this time, you are still in with a chance - get down to Leicester Square early as we will also be giving out a limited number of premiere tickets to fans on both days!

The Divergent Fan Experience Timings

Saturday March 29th
11.00am – 6.00pm

Sunday March 30th
11.00am – 12.00pm
3.00pm – 6.00pm

Premiere timings

Sunday March 30th
Doors open – 1.30pm
Doors close – 2.30pm
Film starts 3.00pm

DIVERGENT is released April 4th

FB handle: DivergentUK
Twitter: @Divergentmovie

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are several other book bloggers running similar giveaways, by the way! For extra chances to win, make sure you enter them all. Ones I know about are at Daisy Chain Book Reviews, Much Loved Books, Wondrous Reads, Once Upon A Bookcase, Natasha Ngan and Live Otherwise. (Closing dates vary; all are ongoing when I post this though.) If you know of any others let me know in the comments or via Twitter and I'll edit in if I get a chance.