Thursday, 7 April 2016

Happy Book Birthday: April Edition

It's another month, and there are more brilliant MG books out! We're delighted to welcome Tom Easton, Martyn Ford, Sara Grant, Karen McCombie, Dawn McNiff, Gwyneth Rees, Robin Stevens and Paul Tobin to MG Strikes Back to take part in the Happy Book Birthday feature.

If your main character was going to a party to celebrate their book birthday, what would they wear?

Dawn: Poor Woody. His bossy, embarrassing mum would probably buy him a bobbly, woolly jumper to wear from the women's rail in the charity shop. He'd wear it for a quiet life, and turn up red-faced. (Then his big, bad dog, Gooner, would probably nip out the gate AGAIN and follow him to the party - and embarrass him even more by stealing all the cake and throwing up on the carpet.)

Gwyneth: Poppy would wear her new glasses to the party – the ones with the round frames which are the best style for her rectangular shaped face (according to her friend Anne-Marie’s face-shape quiz). Or better still she’d like to wear contact lens, though first she’d need to persuade her mum to let her buy some. Outfit-wise she’d wear something not too flashy as she wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to herself – unlike her cousin Sadie who’d want to stand out as much as possible!

Tom: Unlike her sister Daisy, Chloe doesn’t think too much about her appearance. She tends to just throw on the first set of clothes she finds in her wardrobe. So she’d probably just turn up in her old jeans and a loose top. She might brush her hair if Mummy reminds her enough.

Martyn: Well, let's assume it's fancy dress, which I find is a good rule of thumb when considering attire for any social event. Tim owns an imagination box, so he could create by far the best costume at the party, with latex pieces and everything. He could make a monkey suit for himself, and a miniature version of all his clothes for Phil, his finger monkey, and then they'd go as each other. 

What three things would they most want to find in their party bag?

Tom: Chloe loves animals and spends a lot of time observing them (as well as other people). So she’d probably like a notebook and pencils to write down her observations and draw pictures. She’d love some cake, of course, a big piece so she could share it with her family. Finally, I think she’d love to get a book. Because who wouldn’t?

What party game would they be most confident in winning at?

Paul: For Delphine, she would DEFINITELY win the "who will eat the most cake?" party game. That might be an unofficial game, but she is officially good at eating cake. And Nate would win the "fastest to construct a stable miniature black hole using only plastic forks, potato salad, and gift wrapping" game. Okay... he might be the only one playing... but he'd win.

Karen: Jessie's confident about only one thing, that her mother drives her MAD!! Mum's always around school, knows Jessie's timetable and homework schedule better than she does, and is practically on first name terms with all her teachers. So I'm pretty certain that Jessie's party game winner would probably be hide and seek. What could be better than finding a nice, dark spot out of sight of her pushy mother for a few blissful hours? Hey, if Jessie took headphones and an i-Pod with her, she wouldn't even need to feel guilty for ignoring the desperate shouts of "I give up! You win, so come out!"

What would be their ideal birthday cake?

Gwyneth: Poppy thinks that homemade birthday cakes are always the best – especially if they’re made by her mum. Poppy would like either a book-shaped cake, because she loves buying books from secondhand bookshops, or a handbag shaped cake since she also loves to buy vintage bags and other accessories. She certainly wouldn’t want a red sports car cake with lots of sickly icing, which is what her dad’s new girlfriend bought him on his birthday!

Robin: Of course, Daisy's favourite cake is a chocolate cake with cream. She loves rich, decadent desserts! Hazel's is coffee and walnut cake - it's one of her favourite British foods!

Paul: For Nate, it would be simple chocolate cake, because it is well known that chocolate cake has the most perfect atomic structure, but Delphine would choose a Super Triple Strawberry Cataclysmal Peach-Frosted Fireworks Surprise Torpedo cake, because cake is rather her thing.

What was the most memorable birthday party you had, or went to, when you were a child?

Robin: When I was six, I had a birthday party with a clown. He made fun of my American accent, I cried and spent the rest of the party hiding upstairs in my room. It was not a good day. As a child, I was definitely more of a Hazel than a Daisy!

Dawn: My little brother and I both have grim, rainy January birthdays, so my mum would throw us joint summer parties in the garden. These parties often descended into massive water fights, and my dad was the worst offender. I remember him HOSING my mum who was hiding in our lounge!

Karen: I decided at a young age that I was going to be vegetarian, much to the confusion of a) my parents, b) friends' parents who invited me for tea, and c) the meat-centric cafes of my home town. Then came a WOW moment; my friends Alison and Wendy turned 13 around the same time, and invited a few of us out for a meal, which felt INCREDIBLY grown-up and amazing. More amazing still, their parents dropped us at the first EVER Indian restaurant in Aberdeen. So exotic! And lo and behold, the menu had a WHOLE SECTION OF VEGETARIAN FOOD!! Excuse the flurry of capitals, but you can't believe what a revelation that was. In fact, that's it: I should celebrate the Book Birthday of The OMG! Blog with a curry! ("Hello? Can I have a veg korma and tarka dal, please...?")

Sara: If it’s okay, I’m going to adjust the question a smidge. What was my most memorable birthday present when I was a teen? It was for my seventeenth birthday. My older sister and her boyfriend told me to be ready at 5 p.m. They were coming into town to take me out for a birthday dinner. The doorbell rang, which was a bit strange because my sister had a key. When I answered the door, there was the gorgeous lifeguard I’d met a few weeks earlier when I volunteered as a camp counsellor. When my sister had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I’d jokingly replied – the lifeguard. My sister worked as a camp counsellor that summer and knew exactly the boy I meant. He handed me a note from my sister, explaining that he wanted to be there. We had a lovely night and actually dated for a few months after.

If money was no object, what kind of a party would you throw to celebrate publication?

Martyn: I suppose if money is no object then I'm guessing there's no time limit on this party? So a round-the-world trip, with various people flown out to meet up with me and celebrate from time to time. It'd probably last like a year or something? Irritatingly I'd have to find time to write during this, which would be tricky. Actually, on second thought, scratch the trip, I'll probably just get Domino's and eat it on a park bench.

Sara: I’d rent an island in the Maldives and invite family, friends, bloggers, librarians, teachers and a few fans to celebrate the launch of Chasing Danger. We’d have a big beach party but also lots of time set aside for snorkelling, riding jet skis, sailing, swimming, etc. The book is set and was inspired by a trip to an island in the Maldives. While my husband was relaxing, reading and sunning himself, I was plotting murder and mayhem.

Tom Easton is an author of fiction for all ages and has had more than thirty books published. He has written under a number of different pseudonyms in a variety of genres. Subjects include vampires, pirates, pandemics and teenage agony aunts (not all in the same book). He lives in Surrey with my wife, three children and two cats. In his spare time he works as a Production Manager for a UK publisher.

Martyn Ford is a journalist, author and one of those lingiusturites who isn't afraid to make up new words. He is represented by Clare Wallace at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency who, in his experience, has some of the best literary tastes of any agent in all of the known universes. His debut novel, The Imagination Box, published by Faber & Faber, was released in May 2015.

Sara Grant is a writer of multiple personalities! She writes fiction for young adults, teens and young readers. Her stories range from action-adventure in exotic locations to fairy godmothers in training to dystopian and apocalyptic tales of survival and love.

Karen McCombie's writing career began at Sugar and other girls' magazines, giving her great insight into the passions and problems of pre-teens. Her novels are hugely popular. She lives in North London.

Dawn McNiff was born in a blue house by the sea in Sussex, and now lives in a brown house on a hill in Gloucestershire. She loves dogs - especially big, fluffy, silly ones – and water fights, which she never ever loses. How Not To Be Weird is published by Piccadilly Press (out April 7th)

Gwyneth Rees is half Welsh and half English and grew up in Scotland. She studied medicine and qualified as a doctor, working as a child and adolescent psychiatrist before she became a full-time writer. Her bestselling books include the Fairy Dust series, Cosmo and the Magic Sneeze and The Mum Hunt, winner of the Red House Award. She lives near London with her husband, two young daughters and one noisy cat.

Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.

When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.

She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then worked at a children's publisher.

Paul Tobin is the Eisner-award winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Bandette, Colder, and many other comic books and graphic series. His original graphic novel I Was the Cat was nominated for an Eisner in 2015.

The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat, first in his series of five novels for middle-grade readers, debuted in the USA March 2016 from Bloomsbury Kids. It comes out in the UK today, April 7 2016, and in Australia/New Zealand May 1 2016.

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