Monday, 28 June 2010

Sale to Dark Valentine

I've just heard that my short story 'Discord' has been accepted for publication in the Autumn issue of Dark Valentine. This is a fairly new zine - a free pdf download. I've just been taking a look at Issue 1 - some great stories and some fabulous illustrations to go with them.

So if you like your fiction good and scary then head over there - right away!

I think this is a great home for 'Discord' and it will bring my tally of short stories published in 2010 to 5.

Off now to celebrate!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Flash Fiction on the Wasted Blog

Nicola Morgan has just posted the results of her flash fiction competition over on the wasted blog.

Check them out here...

I'm really pleased to tell you that mine made the shortlist - and considering the standard of the pieces I've just read over there that's quite an achievement - they're all really good and the winners deservidly so. I'm really impressed with the standard of the juvenile entries too - there are some really talented budding writers out there!

Anyway I suggest you pop over and take a look.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Analysis: Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes

My daughter thrust this book into my hands one morning.

“Mum, you’ve got to read this – it’s really gripping – it won the Blue Peter award for book you can’t put down,” she said, as she dashed off to catch the school bus.

In fact she’d been up half the night reading it. So there has to be something about this book that makes it so special.

I read it, and she was right. It is really gripping. The question is, why?

I think there are a number of reasons that this book works so well.

The obvious ones are pacing, Ali manages to get this just right, and tension - the slow build up of the unanswered questions and suspicious characters – both of which draw the reader towards the story’s thrilling climax. It has all the elements of a good thriller – a brilliant scientist – cryogenics – government conspiracy – Russian spies and the underlying mysterious disappearance to cap it all!

But in my opinion what makes this book special is the underlying killer concept.

Kids these days love Enid Blyton just as much as they did 60 years ago. I loved them and my kids love them. Go into any bookshop and you’ll see at least one entire shelf dedicated to the likes of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven.

So to take two kids from the fifties, who might have walked straight out of these books, and transplant them into the 21st Century is going to be good. We’re familiar enough with the era (thanks to Enid) to enjoy their reaction to our modern world, and this brings in some lovely touches of humour which balance the tension so very well. And conversely we have the reaction of the modern kids to the old 50s equipment and attitudes.

And it is this combination of the old meets the new that, in my opinion, really gives this book its edge.

So in a nutshell, my analysis of this one is: Killer Concept.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Books my Children Love

I’ve been reading a lot of children’s literature these past few years. I started off, like most parents, reading to my kids, rediscovering the old favourites and discovering new ones along the way. Then as the kids began to read for themselves I started to read what they were reading – just to monitor – oh who am I kidding – it’s because there are some really good stories out there and I simply couldn’t help myself!!

And of course, since I find myself increasingly drawn towards writing for a younger audience, I’m reading them as a writer - curious to see what I can learn from these other writer’s success.

So it seems appropriate for me to start to review some of the books I’ve been pinching off my kids – the ones they can’t put down – asking the question ‘what makes them work so well?’ and trying to answer it from a writer’s perspective.

I’ll be posting these analyses on this blog, so keep an eye out for them. But I’m also going to look at some of the books that they didn’t get on with, and try to work out why they stopped reading where they did, and what we, as writers, can learn from that!