Monday 27 July 2015

Zoe Marriott Blog Tour - Day 1

I am breaking my blog holiday (again) to take part in this very exciting tour to celebrate the release of the third and final book in the The Name of the Blade trilogy, Frail Human Heart. Now, I am very excited over this trilogy (am putting off reading Frail Human Heart because I'm not sure how heart will be able to cope!) so when Walker Books asked if I wanted to show off an extract from the book, I jumped out the chance! This extract isn't very spoilery, so you guys who haven't read the series, do not fear from me! 

And I'm the first stop on the tour! ... oh heck! Anyway, thank you Walker for asking me to take part in the tour and thank you Zoe for writing this amazing trilogy! And now, off we go! 

I couldn’t see her.

The pearly white flames sheathing the katana illuminated dark streaks of fungus on the concrete walls of the storm drain, the fleeting red gleam of a rat’s eyes further down the tunnel and the murky black water swirling and splashing at my toes. It also lit up a few things floating in the water that I didn’t want to look at closely. But it didn’t show me the one thing I had wanted and expected to see.


“Everything OK down there?” my dad shouted into the manhole over my head.

“I’m fine – hang on!” I yelled back.

I walked along the narrow edge of brick that ran down one side of the tunnel, trying to avoid the splashing water as I moved deeper into the darkness. I lifted the flickering light of the sword higher, squinting against the dark.

“You’re very quiet,” I whispered to the blade. “Nothing to say?”

The sword’s energy jumped against my palm like an uneasy heartbeat, but the familiar, metallic voice remained silent.

I still felt the compulsion – a magnetic, physical attraction to the blade – twinned with a deep-down sense of responsibility to protect him, keep him safe. That was apparently hardwired into everyone in my family. It sat alongside my own rational awareness that allowing the sword’s destructive power to fall into the wrong hands would be disastrous for the whole world. But the influence that the katana had exerted on my emotions, the silvery, persuasive whispering that had put such pressure on my mind that I sometimes thought I was going mad? It was gone. For the first time in what felt like forever, I was really and truly alone in my head.

I hated it.

“Rachel!” I called out. My voice bounced around the drain eerily. “It’s me! You can come out!”

There were tiny skittering noises in the shadows as vermin fled from the noise and light, but nothing else.

I strained my ears for any giveaway sounds: a splash, a footstep on the bricks, even a weak cry for help. This was where I’d sensed her, almost seen her, during my vision.

I knew I hadn’t been mistaken. She’d been in this drain.

But not any more. I was too late, again.

Next Stop for Zoë is KitKatsCanRead! Go check it out tomorrow or, if you haven’t already, pick up your copy of Zoë’s The Name of the Blade series at your local bookshop or online at Amazon, Book Depository, and WHSmith.

Zoë Marriott is the author of many critically acclaimed and beloved books, including The Swan Kingdom, which was long-listed for the Branford Boase award, and Shadows on the Moon, which won the prestigious Sasakawa Prize and was an American Junior Library Guild Selection. Zoë lives in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Visit Zoë’s blog at or her website at  Follow her on Twitter (@ZMarriott).
d be disastrous for the whole world. But the
influence that the katana had exerted on my emotion
s, the silvery, persuasive whispering that had
put such pressure on my mind that I sometimes thoug
ht I was going mad? It was gone. For the
first time in what felt like forever, I was really
and truly alone in my head.
I hated it.
“Rachel!” I called out. My voice bounced around the
drain eerily. “It’s me! You can come out!”
There were tiny skittering noises in the shadows as
vermin fled from the noise and light, but
nothing else.
I strained my ears for any giveaway sounds: a splas
h, a footstep on the bricks, even a weak cry
for help. This was where I’d sensed her, almost
her, during my vision.
I knew I hadn’t been mistaken. She’d been in this d
But not any more. I was too late, again.
Next Stop for Zoë is
Click here to check it out and, if you
haven’t already, pick up your copy of Zoë’s The Nam
e of the Blade series at your local bookshop or
online at Amazon, Book Depository,
and WHSmith.
Zoë Marriott is the author of many critically accla
imed and beloved books, including
The Swan
, which was long-listed for the Branford Base awar
d, and
Shadows on the Moon
, which
won the prestigious Sasakawa Prize and was an Ameri
can Junior Library Guild Selection. Zoë lives in
Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Visit Zoë’s blog at thezoe-t or her website at Follow her on Twitter (@ZMarriott

Sunday 26 July 2015

YALC Write-Up

This time last week, I was at YALC. I've been meaning to write it up, but real life happens to get in the way. 

So, here we finally go. If I miss anything, I do beg your pardon. 

I could only go to YALC on the Sunday. I couldn't go on Friday due to work and I couldn't go on the Saturday due to family commitments. So, on Sunday, I woke up early (well, early for me on a Sunday), and travelled to London for YALC. Now, traveling to and from YALC was a bit of an adventure. On the way to YALC, I was dropped at one station - only to beg my driver to come back and drop me at another station due to a signal failure. On the train to London, there were several occasions I had to stop what I was doing as I got into a small state over Blogging 101 - but more on that in a paragraph or two. Once in London, the District line was having works so had to divert via Central and London Overground lines. And as for the way back... let's just say I got a little lost and walked past Television Centre (so I somehow got to White City), but the less said about that, the better. 

Once I got to YALC, I saw TON of cosplayers, trying to get into Comic Con. I saw several regenerations of the Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness and Captain Jack Sparrow, Effie in that Butterfly Dress, a load of Loki, Snow and Prince Charming from Once Upon A Time fame, Belle. And all their outfits were out of this world! I wish I took a heck of a lot of photos to show you guys, but trust me when I say this, it was mind-blowing to see! 

But once I manage to get in, I was immediately met by Virginie from LaChouett. We hugged, made excited noises as this was our first event and then we met Keris Stainton. Virginie's reaction was wonderful fangirling. Once we were told that there were very early copies being sold at the Hot Key Books stands, we made a dive for the Hot Key Books stall. 

So, we investigated the stalls together. We chatted to the lovely peeps at Walker Books (Hi Sean, Paul and everyone else there!). As we chatted, we spied Patrick Ness and... I got a bit starstruck. And this was Virginie's revenge. She managed to get Paul from Walker to introduces to Patrick and, while trying to act cool, was mentally screaming inside my head. And I was delighted when Patrick looked at me, realised who I was on Twitter and went "I thought you were from New Zealand". 


Once that moment happened, we scared the stalls. Hot Key Books was busy and they sold their very last copy of Clariel by Garth Nix (and they almost sold out of something else but I grabbed a copy of this as I made very excited noises when I saw it). While we were there, we saw the lovely James Dawson in one amazing outfit - he dressed up for YALC as Mother of the Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen (did I get that right? Am not a Game of Thrones viewer and not read the books so am wiki it). 

Faber and Faber were having a wonderful time, pushing their future release Rebel in the Sands into he world. It was only chapter samplers, but I have read chapter 1 a while ago and I am very excited for this release (February 2016, people). The author, Alwyn Hamilton, was there and we chatted. She's really nice and am really excited for her! I also entered a contest to win a proof of the book (don't think I won), but I had sand under my fingernails for a good few hours after hunting for the compass in a bucket of sand. 

Penguin Platform was excited over The Accident Season and Finding Audrey. So much so, a selfie of me wearing sunglasses is floating on Twitter somewhere. Had nothing to do with the coffee you got in exchange. Nope. Not at all! But chatting to the lovely peeps about these two books got me really intrigued and excited. 

And then, had to run away because it was workshop time. The reason I was there. Blogging 101 workshop. Deep breaths, Andrew, you are going to be fine. So, off the green room to meet Andy Robb and my fellow bloggers talking with me, Michelle from Tales of Yesterday and Laura from Sisterspooky. After a quick chat, off we went. But then I saw CJ Daugherty as I cornered her and gushed over Night School and my excitement over The Secret Fire. I don't think I scared her that much. 

The workshop was better than I imagined. I had daydreams and nightmares over this workshop. I'm not the best with public speaking so I imagined the worse. I had one horrible daydream at work when I suddenly, and completely out of nowhere, imagined Ed Miliband gatecrashing the workshop and shouting out advice, such as "For a good blog, just stick a cucumber in a floppy disk drive!". I have no idea where that came from and I have no idea if the Ed Miliband was talking seriously or dirty. 

Either way, I have a weird brain. 

But the workshop went like a dream. People came and asked wonderful questions. Laura, Michelle and I answered the best we could and we had a laugh over it. And the second workshop, where Lucy from LucyTheReader, Vivienne from Serendipity Reviews and Jim from YA Yeah Yeah, talked about taking your blog to the next level was fascinating. Gave me food for thought over buying my own domain name and business cards. I shall pop some tweets from people who went below with some YouTube videos of YALC has a whole. (along with some other tweets that show the coolness of YALC!)

After that, it was chill out time where I bumped into other book bloggers and we had a long chat. It was so wonderful to chat to my fellow bloggers and not worry about time. We could have a good chat. I chatted to Rosy from Review Diaries, Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies, Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time and so many others that I have forgotten due to my awful memory. If I chatted to you, WASN'T LAST WEEKEND AWESOME!!! 

I managed to get two books signed. Half Bad by Sally Green (who was cosplaying as one of her characters, Mercury) and Patrick Ness with my ARC of The Rest of Us Just Live Here. The amount of people who saw me holding this book and going "Where did you get that book from?!" was surprising. 

I was meant to go to other signings and panels - but I forgot. It annoyed me, but I was having such a good time. I have to thank Andy Robb for asking me to take part in this workshop and going to YALC as I wouldn't have gone to due to my fear of spending too much money (I had to be so strict with myself when I was buying books!). 

But to everyone involved in setting up YALC - Booktrust, publishers, authors, everyone - thank you. It was wonderful. 

PS - I didn't know this but Hayley Attwell (Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America and Agent Carter) was there. I didn't know this but I LOVE HER!!! But Lucy Saxon, author to The Almost King, got a photo with her and am trying so hard not to be jealous... 

PPS - one of my tweets was used in this article about James Dawson for the Telegraph Books website. AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!! 

PPS - I'm on the BookTrust website. And I have no idea what am doing with my face in that pic!

Monday 20 July 2015

Night School - The Song

If you are a Night School fan, you might not be aware that the Friday just gone, a song inspired by the series has been released. And CJ Daugherty is a fan. So much so, an acoustic version of the song was used in the book trailer for Night School: Endgame.

Well, to celebrate the release, I was asked if I fancied asking some questions to the singer, Betsa, asking her questions about Night School, music and her reactions to when her song was used in a book trailer. So, am breaking my blog holiday (again) to share with you guys!

Before I go any further, I must thank Betsa for taking time out to answer these questions and Jack Jewers to setting up the Q&A. So, thank you. Now, here we go!

Betsa, thank you so much for chatting with me. First of all, how did you get into the Night School series? 
Thank you! 

I got into reading Night School after seeing a copy of it in my local book shop; although I don’t like to judge a book by it’s cover, the Night School cover completely pulled me in and made me want to read it. After reading the blurb I knew it was definitely my kind of book, filled with an intriguing love triangle, action and mystery.

What was it about Night School that grabbed you as a reader? 
I’m quite the hopeless romantic so the whole Carter – Allie relationship was extremely thrilling for me as a 14 year old. Also I felt like Allie was a real person; she made mistakes and wasn’t perfect, I could relate to her character, especially the panic attacks that took her over and her own personal struggle throughout the novel. 

What about this series grabbed you as a songwriter? What made you think “There’s a song in here”? 
As soon as I’d seen the book trailer the first lyric of the song came into my mind; ‘It’s getting darker and there’s someone after me’ – I think I sang it as I was walking home from a late night babysitting last year. It was the decisions Allie had to make throughout the first two books that really got me thinking; how she was always second-guessing herself and whom she could trust. From April 2014 until January this year I kept the song a secret and thought of it as more of a little bit of fun. CJ and Jack then asked if they could use a cover of Shake It Off I had done, for one of their videos. I thought to myself ‘Betsa, you actually have a song about Night School for Night School’ and sent over a version I had recorded on my iPad. Amazingly they loved the song and here we are today!

What was the process of creating the song, Night School? Was it a long process or was it quite fast? 
Writing the song took me about an hour as the lyrics and melody came so easily. I wrote it in my conservatory in the dark to try and get a good, ominous atmosphere. Obviously, after that nothing happened for another year as I never told anyone about it, but June this year I had the absolute pleasure of working with an incredible producer Brad Mair who knew exactly what the song was about and exactly what it needed to be. Straight away this made the process run smoothly. He had it finished in what seemed like and instant. I think I’ve been very lucky with how well our team communicates with one another, making sure everything was done right and to the standard we all loved!

So, how did CJ Daugherty (writer of the series) and Jack Jewers (director of the Night School: Web Series) come across your song? 
I’m lucky enough to know both CJ and Jack as they live quite locally to me. As soon as I found this out I was so excited to meet her and luckily got to when my dad was asked, by complete chance, to film the Night School Book Trailer. By this point I had already read the first book and was incredibly amazed that he was working with CJ! Since then, both of them have been round for parties and get-together’s and have fortunately been to some of my gigs. This is why I felt comfortable enough to finally show them the song.

An acoustic version of your song was used in the book trailer for Endgame. How did you feel when you were told this? 
I was absolutely ecstatic when Jack told me he wanted to use the acoustic version of the song! At the same time I was worried about what the fans would think, hoping they would like the song and support it. Luckily all the comments have been positive, which has made me feel extremely humbled (the Night School fans are honestly the nicest people ever!)

What was it like to watch the book trailer when it was released and hearing your music being used? And what’s it like, knowing that the trailer has had over 10,000 views? 
I was on cloud nine when I saw the book trailer. I sneakily put it on at college, as I couldn’t wait to watch it. Funnily, for a moment I thought they hadn’t used the song as the beginning had a different piece of music. I then I heard the guitar come in and began squealing with glee. I had to stop myself from showing everyone in my photography class.

The song was released on the 17th July. How does it feel to have your song released for purchase? 
It’s such an amazing feeling! It’s so lovely to have the incredible support from CJ and Jack, and of course the Night School fans and blogs like this, as I created the song to speak to the people who were completely taken in by the franchise; by the darkness and romance, by the mystery and pain, and by the choice to pick a side, hoping that it’s the right one. That’s what the books are all about and therefore that is what the song is about and I really, really hope people get that and like it!

Are you working on any new music? 
I am working on new music! At the moment Brad Mair and I are working on another one of my songs ‘Missing You’ which has a similar vibe to Night School yet more drums and guitar. ‘Missing You’ should hopefully be out some time this July as well, and I’m hoping the Night School fans will also enjoy that song too.

One final question: have you read Endgame and, without spoilers, how do you feel about it?
Annoyingly, I haven’t had the chance to read Endgame yet as I’ve been reading all the old classics (Austen, Wilde, both Bronte Sisters…) But It is on the top of my Summer holidays reading list and I can’t wait to throw myself into it! From the Endgame book trailer, I will probably be holding my breath the whole way through and most likely shedding a tear when it comes to the end.

Sunday 12 July 2015

Graham Kurtz Chats Neverland

Yes, I know. Am breaking my blog holiday. But I did warn you guys that I might. Well... today I am (and not for the first time this month, I fear). Why, I hear you ask? Because, I have a guest post! I would like to welcome Graham Kurtz to the blog.

Now, for those of you who don't know Graham, he's an actor that has appeared on TV and stage, but most of you will know him as John Darling in the hit web series, The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy (, which is in its second season. (Not heard of the show? There are teaser trailers of both seasons 1 and 2 at the bottom of the post for you to enjoy!)

Not sure how I managed to get Graham to agree to appear on the blog (tweet-begging?), but I am thrilled that he could spare a few moments of his time answering some questions. So, thank you Graham! Before I throw you over to the Q&A, you can check Graham out on Twitter at or you can follow all the Peter and Wendy drama as season 2 unfolds at

Graham, thank you so much for answering some questions for my blog. Before we go any further, could you explain The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy and your character, John Darling, to people who aren’t aware of the show?
The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is a modern day adaption of J. M. Barrie’s classic, PETER PAN, that has been shot in a “vlog-style” format and is released in brief, 5-minute episodes (or thereabouts). The “camera” through which the audience witnesses the action is either on a computer (character vlogs), security footage (as per season 2), or Tinkerbelle’s first-person (first-fairy, rather) POV. John is the uptight, OCD middle child of the Darling family who works at the family newspaper, The Kensington Chronicle, with his father.

Could you tell us how you got the role of John Darling?
I submitted my headshot/resume/reels via the breakdown Jenni [Powell - Producer and Casting Director] released on I was invited to audition. I went in and made them laugh. Then they invited a couple of us to read with the other characters at the final callback. Then I went home and Kyle [Walters - Creator and actor playing Peter Pan] called me the following week to offer me the role. It was all very straightforward.

Because Peter Pan is such a well-loved story, did you feel any pressure on portray John loyally, but make him your own character, different from other interpretation?
I felt no pressure. I took the information given to me in Shawn’s [deLoache - Creator] script and coupled it with the prior knowledge I have of John and the Peter Pan canon. All that created a very specific vision in my head. Once we got on set, Matthew [Breault - Director] gave us very helpful, specific direction to fill in the final touches of the characters.

Were you surprised by how popular the first season of Peter and Wendy was? And were you just as surprised when the show decided to crowd-fund the second season, and hit its target amount?
I was not surprised. Jenni has a loyal fan base from her previous work and it made sense to me that they would want to see her next project. As for the crowd-funding, I knew our team was very committed to getting the story told and our fans are very ready to watch. Our creative team does all the leg work. I retweeted and showed up when I was requested.

You have acted on TV and on stage. What was it like to go from working on a “traditional” medium to a “new” medium of a web series?
The shooting schedule was very tight and we flew through the pages. I would compare it to that of a micro budget feature film. The main difference lies in the manner the content is released. While one could easily watch the first two seasons in a single sitting, releasing the project in 5-minute increments allows us to interact with our audience almost in realtime via transmedia (twitter/facebook/etc).

In the first season, John is very much a character that bought light relief, compared to the storylines of Peter and Wendy’s relationship and Tink’s plan to destroy it. But now, in season two, John has two meatier storylines of John’s work stress and catching the eye of Smee? Has these been challenging to film or did you thrive with these storylines?
They were challenging to film, but very welcome. It was juicier subject matter on a tighter schedule. Jim Beaver was with us very briefly, so we had to shoot all of our scenes with minimal time between shots. I also had that shirtless scene you saw in the preview the same day, so I annihilated the craft services table once we wrapped. Satya [Bhabha - actor playing John Smee] and I were given time to rehearse before the shoot began, so everything was wonderfully mapped out by the time we got to our scenes.

Speaking of a possible love interest with Smee, we saw in the season 2 trailer you being shirtless. How did you feel when you read this in the script and what did you do to prepare?
Like I said, I didn’t eat much until after it was shot (only for that one shoot day, as I normally eat constantly). Once we saw the response from my shirtless scene in the first season, we all knew it was happening again. The ultimate goal is humor, but I’m also a vain creature, so I made sure I put effort into the appearance. I take lots of yoga, which I am convinced was a huge factor in me book- ing this role. Not only does it give me physical definition, but it improves my mental focus and clari- ty. I also take pilates (I am a certified mat pilates instructor), so that helps with the abs.

Why do you think web series as a whole (such as New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, as well as others such as Lizzie Bennett Diaries, Emma Approved and Night School: The Web Series) are so popular?
They are immediately accessible and can be watched on pretty much any device with video capa- bilities. They can also be watched in very short increments or “binged.” There is a better flexibility for the viewer, especially for younger generations who don’t like being tethered to subscription- based programming. All they need is internet access. The series you mention are also based on very successful literature, so there is also a built-in audience.

Without giving away spoilers to the rest of season 2 and, hopefully, season 3what would you like to see happen to John and the other characters? Are there any storylines you wish to explore further?
Shawn has provided such thorough arcs for all the characters throughout the seasons that any character exploration I would like to see was either covered during our shoot, or at least hinted at for future possibilities. I’m being coy because I don’t want to give anything away (which I am prone to do).