Thursday, 27 October 2016

Blog Tour: Andy Briggs On His Favourite Things About Being A Children's Writer

We're big fans of Andy Briggs here and the first book in The Inventory series, Iron Fist, was a great read! We're looking forward to reading sequel Gravity. To celebrate, he's taking part in a great blog tour, and shared with us his favourite things about being a children's writer.

I am often asked what’s it like to be an author, and there are many wonderful things… but I would like to first say that I have had real jobs. I have stacked shelves in Iceland (sadly, the shop, not the astonishing country), I have delivered pizzas and even been a teacher (again, sadly not at the same time) – so I do know what real work feels like!

We should get the obvious joys out of the way with first – the chance to work in your pyjamas. Let’s face it, we all have days when we wake up and want a duvet day, and aside from professional PJ tester, this is a job that allows you that luxury!

Writing children’s books allows the author the chance to get close to their readers in ways other authors (and screenwriters) can’t, this is due to the many school events we have to do in order to promote our books. I remember my first school visits were quite scary as I didn’t know what to expect, but now I thoroughly enjoy doing them. It’s a good way to receive feedback from the young readers, but also to chat about what they like, what trends they’re starting to follow and (very importantly for an author) do a little research on what should be in the next book!

For me, being a children’s author falls into two broad camps – the award winning intelligent, moral stories that allow the reader to reflect on their own life and weighty issues of growing up in the world. And those that are pure escapism, without winking at the reader and saying yes, this is your life really. I love both, but my books fall in the latter camp. Ever since I learnt to read, I read for escapism, for the chance to live outside my life rather than read instructions on how to live it, so as a consequence I think that reflects in my stories. There are few places left in the world in which a writer can get away with this. Screenplays (which I also write) often have to have some serious vein, and grown up literature generally follows this code – but only in writing for children can an author truly go wild.

Like most authors I know, it’s a huge thrill to receive fan mail from a keen reader. I find it a particular thrill when it comes from a kid who has read my book, rather than an adult. The general opinion of children not caring about things and being “lazy” is completely untrue, and nothing symbolises that more than a message simply saying how much they enjoyed my books. I hope, in some small way, that I have passed on a sliver of inspiration in that child’s life – that is such an amazing feeling that only proud parents and teachers can get.

Gravity (The Inventory #2)
by Andy Briggs

Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

Information about the Book
Title: Gravity (The Inventory #2)
Author: Andy Briggs
Release Date: 6th October 2016
Genre: MG Sci-Fi
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback

Author Information

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the, and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events. 

Tour Schedule
(Banner Below)

Monday 17th October

Tuesday 18th October

Wednesday 19th October

Thursday 20th October

Friday 21st October

Saturday 22nd October

Sunday 23rd October

Monday 24th October

Tuesday 25th October

Wednesday 26th October

Thursday 27th October

Friday 28th October

Saturday 29th October

Sunday 30th October

Monday, 17 October 2016

Shadow Magic Blog Tour: Joshua Khan on Literacy

We're loving the Shadow Magic blog tour, organised by the fabulous Faye Rogers, so it's great to be on it today with a fantastic Joshua Khan guest post on literacy!

Literacy is the most crucial skill in the world. That’s it. You cannot engage with the world around you if you cannot read, now more than ever, as we live in a world of pure information.

I’ve worked with the Beanstalk charity. It discovered at about 50% of the prison population is more or less illiterate. Of course, it seems obvious. People want to get on, they want to have the home comforts, the treats, the respect that earning a living gives. The pride. But if you can’t read or write, how will you acquire these things? It becomes hard and maybe other routes open up, less legitimate ones.

To paraphrase the Jesuits, also big on education, “Give me the boy at seven, and I will give you the reader.”

My greatest encounter as a writer was having a boy, big, fifteen or so, put my book down on the table for me to sign, and tell me he’d never finished a book before until now. He’d become a reader. It just takes the right book, and that can happen to even the most reluctant.

So, yes, it’s about seeing the world through the eyes of others, it’s about empathy, it’s about understanding, but in the end it’s about being part of today’s world. It’s about being able to engage, about begin able to understand what is truth and what is deceit. In the tidal wave of information coming at us all day, every day, it’s about being able to sift through the dross to the knowledge.

Reading is both a skill and a passion. It’s something hard, after all it’s weird squiggles on the page that are, supposed to, make understanding. If you forget how hard it must be for a kid to learn how to read and write just go pick up an Arabic or Chinese newspaper and see how far you get. Even with Google Translate.

Children’s books bear the burden, the responsibility and the honour of making readers. It may be a scene, a hero, even a line, that fires that kid’s passion to read on, to learn, to gain this most essential skill. Be it comic, be it chapter book, be it car manual, whatever it takes, we are duty-bound as children’s writers to put in our very best efforts to transform their lives, to give them the power, education in its simplest form, to go out and succeed in the modern world.

Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

Release Date: 6th October 2016

Genre: MG Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic

Format: Paperback

Author Information

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.
*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.


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