Thursday, 17 November 2011

Books I Could Eat for Breakfast

This book was bought for its cover, and what a cover it is. I’ve tried to give you a sense of its full awesomeness in this photo. (I’m not sure I’m really doing it justice, but hey ho.) You can see that the idea of the Kinder-surprise-style model assembly kit is carried right around the book from front, around the spine and even around the barcode. I love a fully designed cover. It gives me goosebumps. This book was bought as a present by someone else, so imagine the joy when I found out it was a Nick Stearn creation – he who designed Clash and The Deeping Secrets.

Anyhoo, design-drooling aside, Neal Shusterman's Unwind (Simon & Schuster) is a gem. It examines the idea of children being ‘unwound’ for their body parts – harvested for their organs if their parents sign them off before they’re eighteen. It’s written in the third person present tense and you’re kept at a certain distance by the narrative moving between three characters, but this allows for the fringe characters to gain a certain level of importance. In doing so the reader’s mind is left turning in and around and about, questioning fundamental issues about identity, value and medical science.

I rarely wish a book was longer, but this book... ah. It’s something else.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Yes, everything about me is so sexy. Really. No, honestly. I'm telling the truth.

Or not.

This mug was a present given the Christmas after I got married and on the other side side there's an utterly charming photo of myself and my husband at our wedding in which we attempt to look, erm, sexy. It doesn't work. The pair of us are the least photogenic people in the world and when you put us together our lack of photogenicy* somehow multiplies to epic proportions. It's a miracle there's any decent photos of us from that day. And this certainly isn't one of them.

And no. I'm not going to show you that side of the mug. You don't want your eyes burned from your skull, do you?

*no, not a real word. Neither is photogenicness. Or photogenicity. Language fail.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Why I commissioned… THE DEAD WAYS

Twitter-style summary: A network of paths across the country is all that’s keeping this world from the next but the government plans to eliminate them – and unleash hell on earth.

The Dead Ways is Christopher Edge’s debut and what an explosive one it is! The action centres around Scott Williams, whose government-employed father kills himself leaving behind a very cryptic message for his son. With washed-up detective, Jason, whose career came to a dead end after admitting to seeing ghosts walking a motorway tailback, as his minder, Scott is plunged into a non-stop dangerfest with very little reprieve.

When I say non-stop, I mean it, this is breath-takingly paced and the reader is left with no option but to turn the page. There’s a multi-layered conspiracy to be uncovered, where the police, the government and even the undead are united in preventing Scott from finding out the truth. Action scenes pelt through hospital morgues, abandoned motorways and across the streets of London, providing just enough detail to place you right in the thick of it.

Despite being the first of a trilogy, this book answers the questions it raises, whilst leaving plenty of room for ‘But what if…?’ once you’re done. This is a fantastically escapist read for anyone 10+ where young Scott really rises to the occasion of having the weight of the world land squarely on his shoulders. He’s more charismatic than Jason, who just can’t seem to get anyone to do what he says, bless him, and but it’s when he teams up with slightly gothy Avalon, daughter of an antiquarian bookdealer that Scott really comes into his own. If you want someone to be saving you from being dismembered by the undead, you could do worse than having Scott on your side. He’s no Buffy, he’s not as pun-based, nor has he supernatural powers of his own, but he’s tough and he's sensible in the way I think we'd all like to be if we had to save the world.

So, this book is fantastically pacey, has a sound premise for a trilogy, and is bang on-trend within the industry (zombies are, like, so hot right now... OK, so they're probably cold, sans beating heart, but you get the drift), but that's not all. It's also written by a really lovely bloke. If you’re a debut author and you come to the table full of energy and inspiration for how to promote your book then we publishers tend to sit up and pay attention. Chris is the kind of author we all want on our list, after we had a discussion about twitter, blogging and facebook, Chris took to is so naturally that I actually did an air punch of joy. He’s as lovely in real life as he is online and he’s an author for whom good things will happen.

Hopefully none of these good things will involve the undead…

Monday, 7 November 2011

Excuses, excuses...

Hello all. It’s been a while. In fact I didn’t blog for the WHOLE OF OCTOBER. Naughty blogger Non.

What I did instead:

I worked silly hours in preparation for going on holiday. The downside of being the go-to person for Catnip biz is that I am lured into a false sense of responsibility. I start thinking that the company cannot possibly manage without me for two weeks. TWO WEEKS? I may as well just hand in my notice considering the disasters that will kick off as a consequence of my absence.

I went on holiday where I saw a bit of this:

Go Aggies! (I am referring to the college football team you see in this pic. The one with the 90,000 strong crowd and the army doing the cheerleading. Crazy – and amazing.)

I also ate a bit of this:

And indulged in a bit of that:


(If you haven’t listened to Jack’s Mannequin, you probably should. This one’s one of my favourites.)

All in Texas, which involved a couple of long flights in which the Catnipper proceeded to prove all my fears about travelling with a small thing entirely unfounded. After giggling on take off she then proceeded to cruise up and down the aisle high fiving and hugging fellow passengers. Basically she is:

When I got back and discovered that the publishing world kept turning without me, I went here there and everywhere on editing business. (I say "here there and everywhere" when I mean, erm, the North East and the British Library.) I am beyond excited about the projects I’ve been working on with Colin Mulhern, who has made a teaser trailer for his thriller Arabesque which will be out next September and Victor Watson, whose third Paradise Barn book is (I exaggerate not) the best yet. We’re just finalising the title for May publication. I also met up with a yet-to-be Catnip author whose idea for a novel for the 8-11 market makes me grin from ear to ear and think very big, very exciting things. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Amongst all that there was an undead book launch to attend, a birthday to be a-partied over and an anniversary to be acknowledged and…and…and…

So maybe I’m the one that’s about to explode?