Friday, 30 May 2014

Trailer Reveal: It's A Wonderful Death by Sarah Schmitt

Last Monday, I was lucky enough to host the first still from the trailer Strange Chemistry's upcoming It's A Wonderful Death by Sarah Scmitt (reposted below in case you missed it.) Today, I'm thrilled and honoured to be able to bring you the entire trailer!

It’s A Wonderful Death
Sarah J Schmitt
Mean Girls meets A Christmas Carol
When RJ’s soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. 

Eventually RJ is presented with two options: she can remain in the Lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires; or replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will produce a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no brainer. She’ll take the walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each moment, RJ's life begins to unravel. Will she ever find redemption and walk amongst the living again?

Sarah J. Schmitt is an elementary school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She also runs a teen writing program that combine Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters, with critique group feedback. Sarah is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

Find out more about Sarah J Schmitt at her website or on Twitter.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Weirdos vs Bumskulls Blog Tour: Dempsey Love Profiles

I'm a big fan of Catnip Books in general and Natasha Desborough's wonderful Weirdos books in particular, so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour! Thanks to Liz Bankes for setting it up and for writing the awesome intro below. (Speaking of Liz Bankes, I just read Undeniable again and it's AWESOME. If you need Ten Reasons to read it, just click!)

Welcome to Dempsey Love ™, the fast-growing, money-spinning dating service now available online. Paulette Dempsey is Bridge Mount Secondary School’s answer to Richard Branson (as soon as she has grown her own beard and bought a luxury island). Blossom and her fellow Weirdos can’t wait to log in and find love. Today Paulette has been ultra generous and allowed you to have a free taster of the site. Here is a selection of profiles from some of the site’s most highly attractive users. See if you can spot:

Natasha Desborough, the author of WEIRDOS VS BUMSKULLS
Liz Bankes, the editor of W VS B
A character from the book
and one random weirdo.

Funnier, weirder ruder . . . Blossom is back.

Blossom and Petrina, school weirdos, are on a (natural) high after their band Camel Toe share the bill with INTERNATIONAL ROCK GOD Josh Raven. Now they have the chance to perform at a real festival when they enter Battle of the Bands.

But then Blossom meets Vince, lead singer of rival band Bumskulls and TOTAL MANCAKE. And supposedly loved-up Petrina has been spotted staring (dribbling) at the bass player. 

In a churning whirlpool of love, sex and music, can the Weirdos keep their quest for Musical Domination on track? Or is everything about to go norks up?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Real Bookshops AND Top Ten #MyIndieBookshops

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

I wanted to do a post celebrating the brilliant #MyIndieBookshop website that was set up last month (check out my post on it a few days ago - , but then I decided that with the current terrible behaviour of Amazon, it would also be well worth drawing attention to some of my favourite real bookshops. So, two top tens instead of just one!

Top Ten Real Bookshops

Gay's The Word - I love reading LGBTQ fiction and this is a brilliant place to find more obscure stuff, including some books published in America but not here. Well-stocked and very reasonably priced second hand section as well as the new books, and some great events!

Big Green Books - Slightly out of the centre of London but well worth the journey, Big Green Books has a massive selection of books including a good YA section, and free wi-fi so you can tweet your purchases straight away! (Addicted, me?) Tim and Simon are two really knowledgeable people when it comes to books and I love talking to both of them. There's also a superb amount of events there and they do some really interesting things like their 'book club subscriptions'.

Tales on Moon Lane - There's not enough children's bookshops around these days - I was really sad to see Under The Greenwood Tree in Clapham close recently - but this is a truly gorgeous shop. Beautiful displays and really knowledgeable staff.

Foyles Charing Cross Road - Foyles is fabulous, of course, with a great YA section which is the best place to get imports. It also has a massive amount of really brilliant staff - even with the departure of Kate for pastures new a few weeks ago! Jen, Jo and Joanne are all great.

Waterstones Piccadilly
- I'm trying to avoid chain stores, but how can you NOT mention one this size? Between the colossal massiveness, the free wifi, and the gorgeous bar where I met chaletfan a few weeks ago before #picnicYA, this is a stunning shop.

Foyles South Bank - I was going to limit it to one Foyles, but I absolutely adore the South Bank. It's my very favourite place in London - nothing beats sitting in the Southbank centre relaxing with a drink and a book to read, and the brilliant stock in Foyles just downstairs means you never have to worry about not having a book to read!

Booka - Back near my home town, Oswestry's Booka is a gorgeous shop with a lovely cafe and a small, but really high quality, YA section.

Slightly Foxed - I've only been here once or twice but it's a really great atmosphere, a beautiful shop, and great staff.

Mr B's Reading Emporium - I feel that I should probably stick to bookshops I've visited myself, but how can I resist the AMAZING looking Mr B's? Check out this fab video from Lucy at The Bumbling Bibliophile - it looks like a wonderful shop! And they do reading spas!

Watermark Books - This would be on here just for having hosted the fabulous party a few months ago where I got How I Live Now signed by MEG ROSOFF, but it's also got a good selection of YA books and friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Top Ten #MyIndieBookshop shops

James Dawson Books - James is one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to YA LGBTQ fiction - I can't wait to read This Book Is Gay. I've read about half of his recommendations already and really loved many of them, with 3 featuring in my bookshop too, so I definitely need to get my hands on the rest!

Pretty Books - I think one of the best things about this year for me so far has been reading more MG, and reading more ABOUT MG as there seems to be a surge of interest from bloggers. Stacey is one of the best people at writing MG reviews so I was thrilled to see that she'd devoted her bookshop specifically to MG. I've read 7 of her 12 and liked them all, loving several. (Eight Keys is one of my favourite ever MGs, while Sesame Seade: Sleuth on Skates is in my shop as well.) Loved her Anne of Green Gables rec. "BECAUSE ANNE." - it got me to finally read AoGG, which I ADORED.

Adults Read YA - In addition to her own shop, Stacey is kindly maintaining one to keep track of what we're reading for the book club we both belong to. This is awesome, as it's a handy place to check when I forget what I'm meant to be reading! And you can all see our fabulous taste.

The Book Zone - For more MG adventure, Darren at Book Zone for Boys always has brilliant suggestions, so it's great to see his shop! I've somehow only read three of these, but Ironheart is very good, Wild Boy is a favourite of mine, and Department 19 is perhaps my very favourite ongoing series. I'll definitely have to check the rest out soon!

The Pewter Wolf's Store - Andrew is a great blogger who hosted a great guest post on the Countdown to 5th June tour a few weeks ago, and his taste in books is awesome. This is a really varied shop, featuring YA, MG, and adult crime. I've read 3 of his and 2 would be very close to making it on my shelves (1 actually did.) Loved his Pantomime rec, "Unlike anything I have ever read" - couldn't agree more! Oh, and Howling For A Good Read may be my favourite tagline so far!

Swan's Best YA Coming of Age Novels - I stumbled on this shop when browsing and was immediately hooked, as I love coming of age stories! 7 I've read here, including a few of my absolute favourites, with Non Pratt's Trouble on both of our shelves. Of the ones I haven't read, Solitaire, in particular, sounds amazing!

Brigid's Shop for Book Addicts - The name alone sells me on it, but it's a massively varied shop featuring crime, fantasy, YA and romance, and I'm a huge fan of the first three, in particular. 6 that I've read here, including one of my favourite ever series, The Dark Is Rising, and one of the best books of the last 10 years, Code Name Verity.

UKYA Books - Keris, along with fellow authors Susie Day and Keren David, has run the fantastic UKYA site for several years, so it's unsurprising that she's curated some brilliant UKYA titles here. I've read six - most would be close to my shelves, with You Don't Know Me making it on.

Word Urchin's Discoveries -  There's only 3 I've read here - including one of my own picks, Laura Lam's stunning Pantomime - but I'm definitely going to try and find the rest!

Dear Reader - I was going to stick with shops with 12 books picked but made an exception here because there are only six but I've read four and loved ALL of them! Amazingly good taste.

So, what bookshops have I missed out? Real life ones or #myindiebookshop picks - hit me with your recs below! And if you've done a Top Ten Tuesday, let me know so I can take a look!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Trailer Reveal (First Still): It's A Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt

I barely ever take part in reveals so having two on here in one week is very unusual - but there are some people I can't turn down! Hannah at Faber is one so I was thrilled to host part of Jeff Norton's mammoth Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie cover reveal last week, and Caroline from Strange Chemistry is another, leading to today's fab post.

I'm a huge fan of Strange Chemistry - Laura Lam's Pantomime and Shadowplay are big favourites of mine and several others - especially Kim Curran's Shift trilogy and Gwenda Bond's Blackwood - are highly recommended, so I always keep an eye out for what's coming next from them. When Caroline offered me the chance to be a part of a trailer reveal for Sarah J Schmitt's upcoming It's A Wonderful Death, I jumped at the chance. The below still has me seriously intrigued to read the book (coming in October) and to see the full trailer (which will be released on Friday!)

It’s A Wonderful Death
Sarah J Schmitt
Mean Girls meets A Christmas Carol
When RJ’s soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. 

Eventually RJ is presented with two options: she can remain in the Lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires; or replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will produce a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no brainer. She’ll take the walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each moment, RJ's life begins to unravel. Will she ever find redemption and walk amongst the living again?

Sarah J. Schmitt is an elementary school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She also runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters, with critique group feedback. Sarah is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

Find out more about Sarah J Schmitt at her website or on Twitter.

How I Built #MyIndieBookshop

I'm a huge fan of indie bookshops and while nothing will ever beat the experience of going to a great bookshop and talking to the staff there to get personalised recommendations, I know from past experience before I lived down in London that not everyone is lucky enough to have one close by. If you're keen to support indies but aren't able to get to them as often as you'd like, Penguin Random House's new team-up with Hive, My Independent Bookshop, is a great way to do so. You can recommend 12 books, then if people buy them, a percentage of sales (5% for paperbacks, 8% for e-books) goes to an indie of your choice.

There are so many fantastic indies around that my first issue was which one to pick! I thought long and hard - and may change it around a bit - but I eventually felt that I had to go for a particular shop. With the sad closure recently of Clapham's Under The Greenwood Tree, and the Lion and Unicorn in Richmond leaving us last year, it seems more important than ever to support the remaining childrens' specialists. There are several on Hive - I've never been to Seven Stories, Children's Bookshop in Huddersfield, Storytellers' Inc, or Chicken and Frog but all come highly recommended. One that I have been to many times, though, is Herne Hill's gorgeous Tales on Moon Lane, which is both beautiful and brilliant. With really knowledgeable staff and fantastic displays, this is a fabulous place to visit, and I'm very happy to be supporting it.

So, with the bookshop picked and design choices made (I don't think my eye for graphics is even worth going into details on how I chose shelf style, etc, but it was fun!), time to pick the actual books themselves.

I tried to cover a range in my choice of 12. (Although, only 12?! Good grief! I'm unsure how frequently I'll rotate, but it may be VERY, to get everything I want to on there. Of course, it may well be 'barely ever', as I'll forget, but the intentions are good.)

Because of this, they're not quite my favourite 12, although they're not far off. They are, however, 12 books which should provide something for EVERYONE. (Unless you don't read YA/MG fiction, at least, but in that case, why would you be reading this blog?)

I had to have my two very favourites of the year so far as two of my three featured books, of course. Bone Jack by Sara Crowe is a deeply disquieting tale mixing old legends with thoroughly modern problems. It's a story reminiscent of Susan Cooper's brilliant Dark Is Rising Sequence, and I utterly loved it. Just as amazing, from the other side of the Atlantic, is Tess Sharpe's Far From You, which reduced me to floods of tears for much of the day when I finished it. Nothing has affected me as much as this one has for years - although Jellicoe Road ran it close, to be fair.

While I like having my heart torn apart as much as the next person (well, maybe a little bit less), I also think it's brilliant to read a truly happy book. The one which has put a massive grin on my face each of the three times I've read it has been Have A Little Faith by Candy Harper. I've been fairly vocal recently about the lack of respect shown to lighter reads by many critics, prize panels, etc (with a few exceptions, to be fair - thank you Waterstones judges for the brilliant choice of Geek Girl as best teen novel!) This is possibly my favourite lighter read of them all, a joyously, riotously funny one that will surely make you laugh out loud all the way through. Sequel Keep The Faith is just as good, perhaps even slightly better, but I was trying to keep to series starters here.

When it comes to lighter, happy reads, MG is perhaps a better place to find them than YA generally. Fellow book blogger and ARYA club member Stacey from the brilliant Pretty Books blog and Tumblr has a bookshop dedicated solely to MG, with the tagline 'Because Middle Grade Provides The Best Adventures', which in just a few words sums up what I'm coming to love about this age category. As much as I adore YA, there's something about the quests, journeys, and mysteries in MG which often makes them stand out for me even more than their teen counterparts. I definitely wanted to represent these in my shop, so added Sesame Seade's first outing, Sleuth on Skates, and the initial book in the Very Nearly Honourable League of Pirates series, Magic Marks The Spot. Sesame is a supersleuth with 'a brain with as many connections as there are stars in the universe', and she's brought to life brilliantly by Clementine Beauvais's writing and Sarah Horne's illustrations bring Sesame, her friends, and a few seriously nasty villains wonderfully to life. Another superb heroine for this age range is Hilary in Magic Marks The Spot by Caroline Carlson, who responds to being told she can't join the VNHLOP due to being a girl by running away from school, gargoyle in hand, and joining her own pirate crew. This is magical in every sense of the word!

I love coming of age stories so wanted to make sure I got a couple of them in, at least. Non Pratt's Trouble was an easy pick - written by an author who's one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met when it comes to teen fiction, this is a breathtaking debut. I read far more contemporary than anything else and while it's my favourite genre, the sheer amount of it I get through means something has to be special to stand out. This definitely does - I love dual narration when it's done well and both voices here are captured perfectly. As well, while the subject matter is teen pregnancy (and the spermy cover makes that fairly clear!) this takes in so many other subjects - bullying, friendship, and family - that it's about much, much more than 'just' that.

Another fabulous coming of age story is the hilarious Boys Don't Knit by Tom Easton. As mentioned above, I really love the lighter reads and it's been fantastic to see so many book bloggers review this one, with lots of huge fans. Ben Fletcher is a hilarious creation and his trials as he gets involved in the Great Trolley Robbery, is forced to make friends with a lollipop lady who won't suffer fools gladly, and discovers a hitherto-unknown talent for knitting which could see him achieve stardom in the field, is a stunningly funny one.

My other favourite coming of age novel of the year so far is a brilliant one about a boy torn between his feelings for his best friend and his girlfriend, trying to come to terms with his sexuality and with needing to do the right thing. It's a tale which will surely go onto be a classic, narrated by a young man with a stunning voice and a heavy sense of his own importance. For me, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is one of the best stories of recent years about the traumas of adolescence. (Oh, I suppose I should mention it DOES have more giant bugs running about having sex with each other and killing people than most stories of this type do, in case that's an issue for you.)

Moving to historical (with another coming of age story, and one that features an AMAZING romance), I then added Love In Revolution by BR Collins. One of my two favourites of last year, I still haven't written a full length review of this because I was too staggered by it to form coherent thoughts for ages afterwards. I DID tweet quite a lot about it, though, with most of the words being synonyms for brilliant. Two teen girls fall for each other during a revolution in an unnamed Basque country. Middle class Esteya and Zikindi girl Skizi, an outcast, are a wonderful couple with great chemistry. In a review at The Bookbag which is significantly better than any I could manage, Jill says "I loved, loved, loved Love in Revolution... I loved, loved, loved it." and "...this story has the best ending EVER!" I couldn't agree more.

With sci-fi, historical and contemporary all covered, I wanted to make sure I got at least one fantasy in there. There's lots of fantasy sequences I love but my favourite of all recently is the outstanding Micah Grey series by Laura Lam. Micah, who's intersex, is a truly fabulous protagonist. I love the way his (using this pronoun as Micah identifies as male for most of Pantomime and Shadowplay) relationships over the two books are handled. They're also massively exciting and with wonderful world-building. I'm still struggling to contain my excitement over meeting Laura a few days ago at the launch for Kim Curran's brilliant Glaze, and getting her to sign my copy of book one!

While I mentioned above the I love the adventures in MG in particular, clearly that's not the only type of book in the genre. One of the most important I've read recently is Girl With A White Dog, Anne Booth's wonderful debut. I'm hesitant to say too much about this one as I think it's even more effective if you go into it with little knowledge of what it's about, but it truly is a must read.

Finally, I'm always calling for more fun reads to get the credit they deserve, so wanted to put another one in there as my last pick. You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett explores media manipulation, cyber-bullying, body image, romance, friendship and making choices but does it with a beautifully light touch. It also has incredible heart, a wonderful cast of characters, and an ending so perfect I wanted to turn cartwheels after reading it. A truly amazing contemporary.

Do you have your own #MyIndieBookshop? Leave me a comment and let me know, I'd love to come check it out!

(There'll be a list of a few of my favourites coming up in a couple of days time, by the way.)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Cover Reveal + Extract: Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton

I've been lucky enough to meet the awesome Jeff Norton several times this year,the first of them being at the fabulous Faber brunch when he read an extract from his upcoming book, starting the Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie series. When I was offered the chance to participate in a cover reveal AND post an extract, I jumped at it! Many thanks to Hannah for setting this up.

Also, there are nearly 20 different extracts so I strongly encourage you to check out each and every one! I meant to link to all the other bloggers involved but that would have involved organisation. This is number 3, find the first 2 at Readaraptor and The Overflowing Library, then head to Pewter Wolf for the next!

'My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped piñata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.'

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer - pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam's family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door desperate for a shower . . . three months after his funeral.
When most people think zombies, they think of eating people, and unintelligent monsters.
But Adam doesn’t like germs. Or dirt. Or things being disorganised. So waking up as a zombie was definitely not in his plans, and the idea of eating people is disgusting. Getting stung by a bee doesn’t normally lead to becoming a zombie, and it seems incredibly unfair that it’s happened to Adam.
Soon Adam's back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam's number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.

A hilarious adventure caper - if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead - all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you're undead.

Adam attempts to define himself

People die and they don’t come back. Death is the series finale of life, and there’s no reunion show. It sucks, but it’s true. And unless it happens to guys like Darth Vader’s boss or Osama Bin Laden, it’s pretty sad.
Death is a one-way street with no U-turns and no exceptions.
But now there is an exception.
The zombie.
It’s the best description for my condition. And not to be a stickler for detail – but once you’re dead, there isn’t a whole lot left to be a stickler for – I’ve decided to come to terms with the label. Sure, there are other words I could use: reanimated, walking dead, living dead, resurrected. But none of them feel quite me.
Reanimated sounds like I’ve been escaped from the Disney vault.
Walking Dead is that scary TV show, and I’m pretty sure it’s a registered trademark.
Living Dead, well, that’s literally a contradiction in terms.
Resurrected, maybe, but let’s face it, that one’s got a lot of Jesus connotations.
No, it’s zombie all the way for me. I’ve been given a lot of labels in my twelve years of living – neurotic, sensitive, precocious, shower-hogger; and I may still be all of those things, my new defining characteristic is that I’m technically dead.

Doesn't it sound awesome? I can't wait to read the full book! Thanks again to Jeff and Hannah for letting me take part in this reveal.

Recommendation: Haunt by Curtis Jobling

Curtis Jobling is over at Fiction Thirst tomorrow as part of my Countdown to 5th June tour, and was generous enough to send me an e-book of his upcoming novel Haunt: Dead Scared to take a look at.

Kissing the girl he’d loved from afar for ages is the best moment of Will’s life – unfortunately, it’s not far off being the last one. Racing to break the good news to his friend Dougie, he’s involved by an accident and finds himself a ghost. Somehow, Dougie is able to see him, and after an initial panic that he may be going mad or need an exorcist, Will’s best friend is persuaded to try and help him move on. Neither of them is quite sure what that will involve, until they meet another ghost – a murdered schoolgirl who’s spent half a century or so haunting a seriously scary house. Can the boys solve her mystery?

This comic chiller is a huge departure in style from the epic fantasy of Curtis Jobling’s excellent Wereworld series. It’s aimed at slightly younger readers but there’s enough humour and excitement here to have something for everyone, and I loved the strength of the central friendship between Will and Dougie. There’s some incredibly funny parts here – the highlight probably being Dougie trying to run a séance with an older pupil nicknamed Bloody Mary, which made me laugh out loud. However it’s also surprisingly tense, at least towards the end, with the dynamic duo trying to solve the mystery of their new friend’s death. I worked out the solution to this one surprisingly quickly, but it certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the action as the pair faced off against a seriously evil villain.

It’s a quick, engaging and easy book to read – Will has a very strong voice and the other characters are fleshed out well. In addition to Dougie, they have several other friends who can’t see Will – and rather doubt Dougie’s sanity – but the group dynamic between them works excellently. Of the adult characters, it’s the local vicar, father to one of their friends, who particularly stands out as good, although I’m hoping we’ll find out more about Will’s family in the upcoming sequel.

A fun and pacy read, definitely recommended.

The trailer for Haunt, which is fabulous, can be viewed here!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Countdown to 5th June: Interview with Natasha Farrant

Thrilled to welcome Natasha Farrant to the blog today as part of the Countdown to 5th June tour which I've organised, with help from a huge amount of brilliant bloggers and authors! (Check out the amazing graphic designed for us by Daphne from Winged Reviews above.) I'm a huge fan of her upcoming Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love (check back for a review nearer the release date if I can get myself organised - in case I don't, you should definitely pre-order it, it's gorgeous!)

1. Hi Natasha! I interviewed you just after the paperback publication of your breathtaking YA historical The Things We Did For Love. Since then, you've written two brilliant contemporary YA novels. Is there anything different in the way you approach writing the Bluebell Gadsby books compared to how you wrote The Things We Did For Love?

The main difference between writing the Bluebell books and The Things We Did For Love is that they are so much fun! Sometimes I literally laugh out loud while I’m writing.  Also, because I am no longer writing historical fiction, there is much less research involved, which feels very liberating.  But the fact that Bluebell is keeping a diary creates its own challenges: I try to write each entry in one go, literally as if it were my own diary.  I think this gives the books a certain energy and immediacy, but I have to be careful that the story doesn’t become fragmented. A screenwriting colleague once told me that when writing for film, each scene must stand in its own right but also contribute to the overall story. I really believe that holds true for books as well, but it seems all the more resonant with these diaries, in which the story is broken up into lots of little bite size pieces which have to fit together to form a coherent whole.  It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and much harder than it looks…

2. We also talked about the change from writing for adults to writing for teens, as you'd had two adult novels published before TTWDFL. Do you think of yourself as solely a teen author now, or are you likely to release any more adult novels any time soon?

I have no plans to write any more adult novels for the time being.  There is something about the way teenage girls view the world – it’s so mad and intense and passionate. I love it.

3. One of the things I love most about the Bluebell series is the wonderful way you capture her family. Who are your favourite fictional family?

I’m going to twist your question a bit to ask which character I would most have liked to be as a child, because of their family.  I really, really, wanted to be Anne Shirley, so I could live at Green Gables with Marilla and Matthew.  So much so that when I actually went to Green Gables a few years ago, I mortified  my children by crying copiously. I would also have liked to be Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie and Jo March from Little Women. All North American – that’s quite interesting.

I only read Anne of Green Gables for the first time a week or so ago after this fab recommendation from Stacey of prettybooks, but I LOVED it! Fab choice.

4. The first part of Flora In Love I got to hear was the brilliant extract you read out at the Faber bloggers' event a few months ago. How important do you think events like this, and connecting with bloggers, are for a YA author today?

So important. Everything is changing – the way we read, the way we buy books, the way we recommend them.  Like all change, it’s a little scary, but it’s also exciting, because it’s never been more important to communicate directly with readers.  Bloggers do an amazing job at creating an interface between readers and writers.  I’m continually amazed by their enthusiasm and their breadth of reading, and grateful for the work they do.

5. The Bluebell Gadsby series all see Bluebell recording her family and friends - but have you ever dreamed of a screen adaptation for the series itself? If so, who would you envisage playing Blue?

Everybody dreams of a screen adaptation of their books!  I would love one of my daughters to play Bluebell, but Hollywood better hurry, because they’re growing up fast…

6. And how many more books do you have planned in the series? (Lots, I hope!)
I’m working on number three, and there’ll be at least one more after that. 

7. You mention on your website that you love doing events in schools - what's been the best thing to happen at a school event when you were talking about Bluebell?
Once, talking about AFTER IRIS, I showed a group of girls a photograph of my great-uncle, who died when he was three years old, as an example of a tragedy which shook my family to its core, with consequences far into the future.  When it came to the girls asking me questions, one told me that my great-uncle’s story reminded her of something that had happened in her family, and she shared her story with us.  Then another girl talked about her cousin dying, and another about her grandfather, until several girls and at least one teacher were in tears.  Teenage girls are fairly resilient and we went on to a hilarious creative writing workshop, but the whole experience was profoundly moving and I will never forget it.

8. You also mention that you get grumpy when you don't have a good book to read - what are you reading at the moment, and any recent finds you'd recommend?

I am currently grumpy, so if you can recommend anything to me that would be very much appreciated.  The problem is – I run a book group once a week at my daughter’s school. Our last book was To Kill a Mockingbird, and our next one, which I have just finished reading, is The Book Thief.  Find me something as good as those two, Jim…  (for the record, it’s the third time I’ve read Mockingbird, and I’m not sure it’s possible for a book to be better).

I think 'as good as those two' is something of a challenge! I'll have a go,though... ten of my favourites of recent years, covering a variety of genres and mixed between adult, YA, MG.

Adult - Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka, We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
YA - Bone Jack by Sara Crowe, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, Have A Little Faith/Keep The Faith by Candy Harper
MG - Pea's Book series by Susie Day, Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton

9. What was the last thing you Googled?

The photographs of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, to show a friend.  His exhibition Genesis at the Natural History Museum last year blew me away, and I just saw a documentary about his life at the Brazilian Film Festival.  His work is truly important, engaged in themes of social justice, community and the environment, but it is also so, so beautiful.  He’s basically my new hero.

10. Where's your favourite place to write?
At my friends’ home in Norfolk, surrounded by cats, birds, peace and light.  When I go there I can write without stopping for hours and hours, day after day.  Alas, that isn’t possible on a permanent basis (for so many reasons, chief among them the fact that, well, it’s not my house). When I’m in London, I like to write in cafes.  Sometimes I listen to music to block out individual conversations, but usually I like to hear the hum of people around me.  Writing is such a lonely experience – doing it with other people around keeps me plugged in to the real world.  I used to always write in the same café, but lately I’ve taken to experimenting with new places.  I like to think different perspectives keep the writing fresh!

Thanks so much for taking part, Natasha! Head over to Countdown YA for more details of the rest of the tour, and don't miss the fabulous Ellie Irving over on Nayu's Reading Corner tomorrow.

Natasha Farrant can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.