Thursday 5 February 2015

Happy Book Birthday! (5th February Edition)

There are, of course, amazing books released pretty much every week, but this week seems to have a rather higher than usual number of brilliant MG books coming out! That was first noticed by Elen Caldecott, who saw on the fabulous spreadsheet maintained by Debbie (check out Snuggling on the Sofa if you're not already reading it, by the way!) that she shared a publication date with lots of other great authors and started the hashtag #5thFebBooks on Twitter. Talking to Elen about this made me think that it could be fun to run a birthday themed feature on MG Strikes Back, and she was kind enough to put me in touch with several other authors. I'm thrilled to welcome Elen, Jim Eldridge, Ruth Fitzgerald, Dawn McNiff, Mike Revell and Cate Shearwater to answer a couple of questions each!

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

Jim: The main character in the Wrestling Trolls series is 10-year old Jack, and he would proudly wear his Wrestling Trainer outfit: a spangle-covered brightly-coloured leotard, with the word "Trainer" on the front.

Cate: Ellie would definitely go in her favourite lucky competition leotard -   all silvers and greens and blues, the colours of the ocean - she was given it by her little sister Lucy and it brings her luck at Team Championships (even if it is covered in sea salt after her dramatic journey to the competition). She'd have a matching scrunchie, and a pair of little black gym shorts with her name encrusted on the back in diamante lettering!  Oh, and her Academy squad tracksuit - she's never been so proud of as the day she won her scholarship to the best gymnastics club in the country and earned the right to wear it!

Dawn: Courtney would wear her Worry Wig - it's rainbow-striped and made of fun fur, so you wouldn't miss her.

In the book, Courtney is a big worrier, so her gran invented a game to help her worry less at school - called the Worry Wig Game. . .

Mike: If Liam was going to a party to celebrate Stonebird, there's only one thing he could wear -- a gargoyle onesie! Even if it wasn't fancy dress, the opportunity would be too good to pass up. He'd have wings and everything. I've seen some quite funny onsies with wings, like dragons and bats, but a gargoyle would be pretty special, I think.

Ruth: Emily doesn't have a lot of luck with birthday parties, after all she didn't even get invited to Zuzanna's. If she did go she would probably end up wearing something her mum bought her from Tesco in a rush -
 "I know it's green, Emily but it was half price, and you can't really see the hole if you keep your arm down."
She definitely wouldn't have anything as fabulous as Chloe Clarke's outfit which would no doubt have came from a designer shop and be "Totally Oat Couture" ! (Although, in Emily Sparkes and the Disco Disaster, coming next year, Chloe does help Emily out with her 'look' - can't say any more!)

Elen: First, Piotr would be delighted to be invited, but would be too embarrassed to make much of a fuss. He'd like to be in clean clothes, but nothing too flash - he leaves that sort of thing to his best friends Andrew and Minnie. When Piotr arrived at the party, he wouldn't stand out, you might not even notice him. But he'd be the person helping to stack plates and wash up at the end. You'd remember him very fondly!

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

Elen: Murder in the Dark! Piotr notices details and really watches other people carefully. He'd pay attention to the ripples of laughter as the murderer catches his victim's eye. Piotr would be on his guard for the deadly wink, and he'd catch the culprit before the party is decimated!

Mike: One of the central themes in the book is the power of stories. Each week in school, Liam gets chance to tell a story to his class, and by the end he's a bit of a dab hand, so any party game involving storytelling would have him feeling pretty confident. Maybe something like Would I Lie To You? or Absolute Balderdash, as they involve thinking on your feet and improvising.

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

Dawn: The most memorable one is actually a party I had for one of my daughters. She fell off her scooter and broke her arm just before her 8th birthday party. So we got all the children to come with an arm in a sling too. The eating-maltesers-with-a-spoon race was tricky. . .but one girl won by using her nose to nudge them into the spoon.

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

Cate: Well, I'm actually throwing a truly somersault sensational, gymnastic fantastic launch at Baskervilles Gymnastic Club (where my daughter Elsie trains for hours and hours every week). She started gymnastics when she was just six and one day she asked me, 'Mummy, write me a story about gymnastics - with me and all my friends in it!' and that was how the series began. I've actually written lots of it in the waiting room at gym! So for the launch we are throwing a gymnastic gala with incredible gym-fusion displays, solo routines, terrific high-octane tumbling, a design a leotard competition, a spectacular somersaults cake and about a million gymnasts all coming in their sparkliest leotards to join in the fun! What more could an author dream of?

Ruth: I am having a launch party at Ipswich, Waterstones on 19th Feb (all welcome - please come along and say hello!). This might sound strange but I'm so excited to be having it there, I really wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It has been my local bookshop for years and all the time I wanted to be a writer, I would walk past the store and wish one day I could have a book in their window display. I never really thought that would happen!

If I could have two book birthday parties, and money was really no object, I would fly to Japan with my family and friends and celebrate at a yakitori restaurant. I spent some time working in Japan many years ago and I loved it but have never been able to afford to go back, so that would be a real dream.

Jim: A beach party in Hawaii. I was there some years ago, and loved it. Sun, sand, laid-back attitudes, beautiful scenery. There would be beach games, food, and fun. And - of course - as the book is WRESTLING TROLLS, there would be Wrestling. Did you know that Henry VIII was an exponent of wrestling. He even once wrestled the King of France.

A huge thanks to all six authors for such wonderful answers! Find out more about them below - but first, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the feature. Is it one you'd like to see us run again? Are there any more birthday/party-themed questions you think we could ask? Leave a comment, or tweet us on @MGStrikesBack!

Cate Shearwater lives in Wiltshire with her husband and two children. She was gloriously bad at gymnastics when she was younger but luckily the cartwheels skipped a generation and Somersaults and Dreams was written for Cate's gymnastic fantastic daughter, Elsie, and all her fabulous squad mates at Baskerville's Gym Club.  She will be doing active Somersaults and Stories events at the London Imagine Festival and Chester Wayword Festival as well as appearances at all the major events in the gymnastics calendar. For information about her latest events and fabulous Design a Leotard competition check out or follow her on Twitter @cateshearwater. Making The Grade is published by Egmont.

Mike Revell used to be one of those kids who didn't like reading. He was more inclined to run home and play video games than dive into a book. Then Harry Potter came along. J.K. Rowling's stories didn't just make him a reader, they inspired him to write too; he wanted to give to people the same feelings of wonder and enjoyment that Harry Potter gave to him as a young boy. Stonebird is Mike's first novel and is influenced by the real experiences of seeing his grandmother suffer from dementia, as well as his love of myths. He grew up near Cambridge, but now lives in North Wales. To learn more about Mike visit him at: or follow him @RevellWriting. Stonebird is published by Quercus Books.

Ruth Fitzgerald was born in Bridgend, South Wales. She grew up in a happy, chaotic family with far too many brothers.

When she was six years old she wrote her first story, 'Mitzi the Mole Gets Married' and immediately announced she wanted to be a writer. Her teacher immediately advised her that writing was a hobby and she needed to get a proper job. Since then she has tried twenty-three proper jobs, including teaching English in Japan, being a social worker and selling candles on a market stall. But really the only thing she likes doing is writing.

Ruth lives in Suffolk with her family and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco is published by Little Brown, Kids.

Find out more about Dawn McNiff at; and check out Worry Magic on the Hot Key Books website.

Find out more about Jim Eldridge on and about Wresting Trolls on the Hot Key Books website.

Piotr Domek is the accidental hero of Marsh Road Mysteries: Diamonds and Daggers by Elen Caldecott, pub. Bloomsbury on 5th Feb. Find out more about Elen at

Jim blogs over at YA Yeah Yeah.


  1. Thank you, Jim! Great questions, and lovely to think of all our MG heroes at a gym-gargoyle-murder party together! Happy #5thFebBooks, everyone!

  2. Thanks for a great fun post. I so want to see Mike in a gargoyle onesie! Happy Book Birthday peeps!

  3. Hurrah! Happy pub day to everyone! And I've just reviewed Worry Magic here: :-)

  4. I think it's a great way to celebrate new releases, and you're right this week there seem to be loads! I'm already part way through Stonebird ( haven't been able to put it down today) and am LOVING it! Look forward to checking out the others too.

  5. Feeling very jealous of Cate's launch party. My publisher has just asked for launch ideas and I'll be hard pressed to come up with anything as inspiring and exciting as that.