Posts Tagged With: author interview

Drawn by Chris Ledbetter

drawn by chris ledbetterTitle: Drawn
Author: Chris Ledbetter
ISBN: 978-1772333763
Publisher: Evernight Teen
First Published: 5 June 2015 (Kindle) / 3 June 2015 (paperback)
No .of pages: 282

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Caught between the sweltering fall landscape of Wilmington, NC beaches and southern illusions and expectations, all sixteen year-old Cameron Shade thinks about is art. That, and for Farrah Spangled to view him as more than just a friend. Cameron hopes he can win her heart through art. After several warm interactions with Farrah, including painting together at the beach, Cameron discovers just how complex Farrah’s life is. Following a tense run-in with Farrah’s father, she forbids Cameron to speak to her again, but Cameron’s convinced there’s more behind the request. To impress Farrah, Cameron sketches her portrait into a mysterious sketchbook. He nearly jumps from his skin when the sketch moves and communicates with him. Farrah is now in grave danger because the sketch he drew of her sucked her real-life’s soul into the sketchbook. Cameron now has twenty days to extract Farrah. To save her, he must draw himself into the book. If he fails… they both die.

I don’t read an awful lot of teen fiction, but when I do, I only enjoy it if the premise is original and daring and grabs me from the get-go.

Let’s just say, I enjoyed this book!

Chris Ledbetter has done something few have done, and that is to write a teenaged boy with whom I, as a woman (and once, a teenaged girl) can relate. I felt for Cameron, I felt for him deeply, and was able to sink into his emotions and passion for art quite effortlessly. Farrah wasn’t quite so well, ahem, drawn as Cameron, but as she was not the main character, only the focus for Cameron’s growing affections, this was understandable – she was attractive, but as a reader I knew little about her, which was pitched very well, as Cameron didn’t really know all that much about her beyond the basics and his attraction for her.

The premise for the story was cleverly thought out and written with a light touch that lifted it above the ordinary – a heavier hand would have thrown everything out of balance and crushed the plot entirely. Its an unusual take on a Pygmalian-type of fantasy, where an artist brings his work of art to life, and falls in love with her, only Cameron is already falling for Farrah before he creates her Echo.

There was a tinge of sadness about the tale too – Ledbetter doesn’t shy away from the darker and more upsetting trials of teen and family life, and the complications inherent in relationships, whether familial, platonic, or romantic – and that’s refreshing. Yet, it never becomes maudlin – that lightness of touch and tone keeps things buoyant and ensures the reader doesn’t sink into depression while turning the pages. It’s a fine line, but Ledbetter walks it well.

Even if you don’t read young adult/teen fiction, don’t discount this book – it’s worth the effort and may just change your mind!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

See my interview with the author HERE

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Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

bitter-greensTitle: Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth
ISBN: 978-0749013622
Publisher: Allison & Busby
First Published: 25 February 2013 (hardback/Kindle) / 29 July 2013 (paperback)
No .of pages: 496

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
Charlotte-Rose de la Force, exiled from the court of King Louis XIV, has always been a great talker and teller of tales.

Selena Leonelli, once the exquisite muse of the great Venetian artist Tiziano, is terrified of time.

Margherita, trapped in a doorless tower and burdened by tangles of her red-gold hair, must find a way to escape.

You may think you know the story of Rapunzel . . .

Everyone loves a good fairytale, and one of the most beautiful, mysterious and compelling of all is that of Rapunzel. It has had many different names and versions, but the one that is perhaps best known was penned not by a man (or by the bothers Grimm, as most people assume – they only adapted it) , as most novels and writings of that time, but by a woman. And not just any woman, but one of the most notorious and scandalous women of her age, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, who was exiled from the court of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, after a life that would make even the most hedonistic of courtiers blush!

Kate Forsyth has expertly woven together three stories that at once mirror each other whilst at the same time are completely different, deftly combining different time lines and locations to create an exquisitely intricate tale that will shock, amaze and bewitch. Readers will be drawn into the whirlwind of the 17th century French court, and the artistic beauty of Italy as the elements draw together the lives of Madamoiselle de la Force (the storyteller), Selena Leonelli (the sorceress), and Margherita (who has had so many incarnations as the beautiful heroine with the tangled hair).

The lines between fact and fiction are expertly blurred and blended till we find ourselves wrapped up in the fairytale ourselves, no longer able to untangle the strands of three very different lives that have culminated in one of the best-loved fairytales of all time.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

You can see my exclusive interview with
Kate Foryth

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Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings – Review and Interview

Poltergeeks is one of the first titles from Strange Chemistry, a promising new YA imprint. It’s about 15 year old Julie Richardson, who’s trying to deal with being an everyday teenager, as well as being a witch.

Julie is being taught and trained by her mum, which puts even more of a strain on the usual teenager-daughter relationship, and of course, being a teen, Julie tries to take on more than she should.

The joy of this book is that it’s not like the usual YA urban fantasy book – there’s no swooning romance or teenage angst, and thankfully not a vampire in sight! It’s based firmly in reality, where witchcraft is about the ability to harness the power inside, and it’s actually quite easy to believe that this could be going on around us, unseen.

The action starts early on in the book, when Julie comes across an elderly lady thrown out of her house by a poltergeist. It’s soon apparent that there are powerful forces focusing on Julie, and when her mum’s life is put in danger, she has to learn a lot more about her powers and her heritage.

There’s a good balance in the book, of humour, adventure, magic and darkness, and is highly recommended.

I’ll pass over to Sean, who was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Your YA title, Poltergeeks, is published in October – could you tell us a little more about it?

POLTERGEEKS is the story of Julie Richards, teen witch. Her mum is a witch – a very over protective witch, actually. Julie’s father has been dead since she was four years old so she never really knew him. Her best friend is super science nerd Marcus Guffman – they’ve been friends since grade school and both are fairly low on the social ladder at Crescent Ridge High School. The book begins with Julie and Marcus witnessing a little old lady being literally tossed out the front door of her house by a poltergeist and Julie doesn’t take too kindly to spirits laying the boots to little old ladies in her neighbourhood, so she decides spring into action. This leads to an adventure fraught with massive danger, mind-blowing family secrets and the very real possibility of Julie’s mother winding up dead, not to mention Julie and Marcus as well.

Where did the inspiration and ideas come from? 

My inspiration for POLTERGEEKS comes from my love of all urban fantasy. That said, the book started off with a title, believe it or not. I distinctly remember coming up with the name and saying to myself that it would make a cool young adult book – if only I could figure out a plot to go with it. So I did a bit of a bullet point outline and then I began to write. It became the little manuscript that could. 🙂

There’s a lot of paranormal fiction out there for teens, how did you aim to make yours stand out? 

While most paranormal fiction features a strong female protagonist, what makes this book far different is there is no “nice girl meets mysterious/dangerous bad boy love triangle.” POLTERGEEKS is 100% vampire and were-thing free. The romance is very innocent and unconditional because it’s a voyage of discovery as most first loves are. The relationship between Julie and Marcus builds because Julie has to learn that she actually loves Marcus very much and she doesn’t realize it because he’s always been a fixture in her life. His many sacrifices for her combined with some competition from a Goth girl named Marla teach Julie a valuable lesson about unconditional love.  My book is different because it takes place in Canada – Calgary to be specific. Despite the fact that this is an urban fantasy; it’s a very real book with believable characters and a rollercoaster of a plot.

Poltergeeks features witchcraft – did you stick to established ‘rules’ or make up your own?

I borrowed some aspects of witchcraft from a few sources, but in terms of world building, my rules were my own, so it’s actually less about the rules of witchcraft and more about the rules of magic. In POLTERGEEKS, I establish that magic exists in everyone because it is fuelled by the individual’s spirit. If you draw too much on your spirit, you’ll literally burn up – so I cite spontaneous human combustion as a likely practitioner who pushed too hard, too fast.

You’re not new to writing – can you tell us a little about what else you’ve written? 

POLTERGEEKS is my fourth book. I have two books in my Valerie Stevens series; SHADE FRIGHT and FUNERAL PALLOR. In these books you have a snarky female practitioner who works for the government in a benign sounding ministry called “Government Services and Infrastructure.” She slams evil in book one – a black mage named Mago plans to kill everyone in Calgary as an offering to summon Satan. In book two, we’ve got zombies, necromancers and head banging fun. My third novel is UNSEEN WORLD – about a 40-something curmudgeon with super powers, a May-December romance and a very bad demon called Grim Geoffrey.

When did you start writing? 

I started writing every day back in 1978 when I was in grade five. I started writing to get published more than twenty years ago when my now grown son was in diapers and there was no Internet.

What made you move into the YA genre this time? 

The challenge. I wanted to see if I could do it – that’s sort of how I motivate myself to explore other genres and age groups. POLTERGEEKS has been a blessing. It’s the book that found me an agent and got me a two book deal with Angry Robot Books new imprint STRANGE CHEMISTRY BOOKS.

So what lies ahead for you, what are you working on at the moment? 

Right now I’m finishing revisions on the second in the POLTERGEEKS series – STUDENT BODIES. It’s a very dark book where Julie must come face to face with the responsibilities associated with her place in life. There is death, there is heartache. There is ice cold terror. As well, my agent is shopping an urban fantasy called TIM REAPER – he’s basically a grim reaper in human form – the UF version of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. And I need to do revisions on the first in a YA post-apocalyptic trilogy – book one is called THE NORTH. It’s six months after the zombie apocalypse and a rag-tag group of teens in the Canadian Militia are going hatches down to bust out of the zombie filled city to the north country and the promise of a new start.

 Tell us a little about you as a reader, what do you like to read, and what are you reading at the moment? 

I read every day. I have a great love of military history. I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. I’m currently reading BLACKWOOD by fellow Strange Chemistry author Gwenda Bond. It’s a fab read. 🙂

When not writing or reading, what else do you like to do? 

I love to cook. I hang out with my spouse. I bug the hell out of my grown up son. I’m a big antique car lover and I also try to motivate my very lazy cats. 🙂

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