Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy Book Birthday: 5th March Edition

Happy World Book Day, and welcome to my second Happy Book Birthday post! Today, and the last week or so, have seen some fantastic MG books released - I was thrilled to ask some authors a few questions about celebrating their release!

A massive thanks to Heidi Schulz, Jane Elson, Abi Elphinstone, Tom Avery, Karen McCombie and Kris Humphrey for taking part!

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

Heidi - Jocelyn feels that white dresses make wonderful canvases. She’d be decked out in one with mud at the knees, grass stains on the seat, and a section of hem torn away. (Jocelyn used the fabric to make a pouch for carrying a rainbow-shelled beetle she found on the way to the party.) Over the dress she wears the iconic red jacket, once owned by her late father, Captain Hook. The jacket would be too long, dragging on the ground, but she would wear it well just the same. Since it is a party, Jocelyn would also polish her cutlass before strapping it to her side, and perhaps slip a silver dagger in her boot. She would hate to be underdressed.

Karen - I reckon Riley Roberts would wear a pair of white feather wings, £4.65 from Amazon. Yes, that's very specific. Yes, I might have a pair. Got a problem with that? ALL household tasks can be made more fun with fancy dress. #FACT

Abi - Um, this?

And if there were no glittery spandex or capes kicking around the forest, Moll would probably just wear a gypsy dress (covered in grass stains and mud), with a large pocket for her catapult. She wouldn't bother with shoes or brushing her hair. Nah. Too busy hanging out in the tree fort for stuff like that.

Jane - Sasha in How To Fly With Broken Wings would wear the vintage 1940s red dress that belonged to Rachel, who was an ATA Spitfire Pilot in World War 2. Her job was to fly the Spitfires and other planes from the factories to the airfield ready for the RAF pilots to fly them into battle. When Sasha hears about this she feels that if Rachel was strong and brave enough to do this in the war, then she must find the strength to say no to Finn and his gang on the Beckham Estate. Wearing the red dress makes Sasha feel strong and enables her to reach out to Willem, who has Aspergers Syndrome, and become his first friend. 

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

Heidi - I would fly to London and sail a sixteenth-century sailing ship up and down the Thames. The entertainment would be provided by pirates, singing sea-shanties, of course. We would feast on fresh lobster, key lime pie, and other dishes prepared by a sea cook with a palate as refined as Nubbins, the cook on Jocelyn’s ship. And, since money is no object, I’ll fly you all in so we can party together. 

Let’s make this happen. Who wants to fund it?

Kris - I'd fly all my guests out to the Rocky Mountains in Canada and do a book reading in the forest there at dusk. Then we could all eat campfire food and see if we could hear any wild wolves howling out in the mountains.

Karen - Here's the thing; I have a giant, squashy soft spot for 'The Sound of Music' (me and my daughter can often be found howling along to the soundtrack in the car). And in 'Angels Like Me' - as well as the previous two books in the 'Angels Next Door' trilogy - Riley's friends Sunshine, Kitt and Pearl have eyes that change colour to match the mood of the skies. So instantly, I'm thinking of that mass expanse of blue in the opening credits of T.S.o.M.

Party on top of an Austrian mountain, anyone? We can all twirl like Maria! Puffin will foot the expense, I'm SURE of it! 

Altogether now, "Climb every mountainnnnnnnn...!" 

Tom -  It would be a beautiful, bright day on Chesil Beach, where Jamie and Ned found the merman, Leonard.  Story tellers from all along the south coast would be telling tales of merfolk as the boys’ grandfather does in the book.  There would be all sorts of sea food to eat in honour of Leonard and an array of eighty’s candy for the sweet toothed.  And I’d have Sebastien and the Hot Crustacean Band from the Little Mermaid playing live (You said reality no object right?). 

Jane - I would have a big community party, similar to the one in How To Fly With Broken Wings, when the community all join together to clean up after the riots. It would be 1940s themed so everyone would come in vintage fancy dress. There would be live music and a Spitfire complete with pilot who would take people for flights should they wish. There would be champagne and strawberries and a chocolate fountain. Oh and cake – lots of cake! My friend Marcia made the most delicious chocolate cake ever for the A Room Full Of Chocolate launch. I would get her to make a cake in the shape of a Spitfire. I would invite lots of the kids in my area, especially those from challenging backgrounds, and anyone who needed a lovely party to cheer them up. I would hold it on or near Kentish Town City Farm, so that the children could ride the horses. They always have lovely end of summer parties on the farm and last year’s party reminded me of How To Fly with Broken Wings in many ways.


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

Abi - It wouldn't be wise to let Moll loose on the party games. She'd cheat at pass the parcel, she really wouldn't see the point of musical chairs, she'd catapult anyone who tried to make her play Grandmother's Footsteps and she'd set her wildcat, Gryff, on those who might blindfold her to play Pin The Tail On The Donkey. Better of letting her munch some cake then shoving her outside to climb a big tree.

Tom - Not strictly a party game, but Jamie would be a fearsome quizzer.  Specialist subjects - Mermen, Star Trek the Original Series and world geography.  If his twin Ned were there, he’d win all the rest of the games, through a combination of force of personality and lack of inhibition.  And of course they’d both be dab hands at any sort of treasure hunt.

Kris - Alice would definitely win at Blind Man's Buff. As a Whisperer she can sense all of the other living things around her (including the other party guests) - even when she's wearing a blindfold. This could be viewed as cheating, though, so she may not be very popular by the end.

Tom Avery was born and raised in London in a very large, very loud family, descendants of the notorious pirate, Henry Avery.  He worked with children as a teacher in schools in London and Birmingham.

Not As We Know It is Tom’s fourth book.  His last, My Brother’s Shadow, is on the longlist for the 2015 Carnegie Medal.

Tom now lives in Amsterdam with his wife and two young sons.  They have always been his main inspiration in writing.

You can find out more about Tom at and follow him on twitter @teamavery

Jane Elson - After performing as an actress and comedy improviser for many years, Jane fell into writing stories and plays. A Room Full of Chocolate was her first book for children aged 9+. Her first full length play Leonardo Stole My Crayon, inspired by her work with young offenders, was the winner of the Kings X Award For New Writing in 2007. When she is not writing Jane spends her time running creative writing and comedy improvisation workshops for children with special educational needs. She is also a guest practitioner at Soho Theatre's Writer's Lab. Selected as a New Voice in the Guardian's guide to The Best New Children's Books 2014, Jane is described as 'A new author to watch.'

You can find out more about her on Twitter at @JJELSON35 and at her website

Karen McCombie is a best-selling MG author, who has written 80 books, sold more than a million worldwide, and never won countless awards. She is a bit Scottish, lives in That London with her very Scottish husband Tom, sunshiny daughter Milly and a fierce cat. She is lucky enough to have two writing spaces; the first is a palatial office (ie teeny boxroom) at home, and the second is the local garden centre cafe, where there is cake, as well as inspiration, to be found. As well as her website, you can find her wittering on Twitter @KarenMcCombie
'Angels Like Me' is the third and final part of her 'Angels Next Door' trilogy (Puffin).

Abi Elphinstone is the author of The Dreamsnatcher.

Author website: 
Twitter: @moontrug

Instagram: @moontrugger

Heidi Schulz is the author of Hook's Daughter. Her website is and she tweets at @heidischulz.

Kris Humphrey is the author of A Whisper of Wolves. He tweets at @KrisDHumphrey.

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