Last week I was given the opportunity to interview Siobhan Curham, author of 'Dear Dylan'. Here she talks about Snickers bars, writing from the heart and her crush on Prince Harry - enjoy!
What inspired you to write 'Dear Dylan'?
I was inspired to write a YA novel after running a lot of writing workshops for teenagers following the publication of my novels for adults. I wanted to write something teenagers would want to read. Plus, working with young people reminded me of what a tough time the teenage years can be. I wanted to write a novel about issues such as friendship, love and loss, to try and help and inspire any teenage readers who might be going through the same.
Roughly, how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about a year from having the very first idea to having a completed manuscript. The first 3 months I spend 'percolating' the idea - fleshing out the characters, figuring out the main plot points - and then it takes about 9 months writing the first and second drafts.
It would be kind of fun to have the Queen as a grandma, but only because I have a bit of a secret crush on Prince Harry. But then, if the Queen was my grandma, Prince Harry and I would be related, so that would be a bit wrong, wouldn't it?!
What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1) Write from the heart. Write about something you feel passionately about, not what you think a publisher wants. If you write from the heart, your words will leap off the page and your characters will live.
2) Read, read, read! Let other writers and books be an inspiration to you. One of my favourite YA novels is 'The Sky Is Everywhere' by Jandy Nelson. The writing is so beautiful reading it always makes me want to raise my game as a novelist.
3) Do not take rejection personally. This one is very hard - especially when you are starting out - but it's so important. Everyone's tastes are different and you are never going to write something that everyone likes. This is why my first point is so important - if you write about something you feel passionately about it will keep you going through the disappointments.
What is your favourite snack?
What kind of things do you do to help you write, i.e. listening to music, etc.?
I do use music to help me get into the mood of a book when I sit down to write. So every book I write has a kind of theme tune that I will play when I need a bit of help getting back into the flow of it. For 'Dear Dylan', that song was 'Lose Yourself' by Eminem because it sums up the importance of following your dream no matter how tough life gets, which is the central theme of the story.
If you weren't an author, what would you be instead?
I always dreamt of being an author, even as a very young child, but when I was a teenager I lost my confidence a bit, so I dropped out of uni and went to work in a video store. Then I worked in the complaints department for a frozen foods company and people would send me all kinds of gross things they'd found in their frozen peas or ice-cream! It took me ten years after dropping out of uni to finally get the confidence to pursue my dream and become an author. If I wasn't an author, I would love to be a dance instructor - and I'm actually training to become one at the moment.
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Reading or writing? Writing
UK or USA? Both!
Chocolate or cake? Cake. (Chocolate cake!)
Yellow or green? Green
You can buy Siobhan's books HERE or if you would like to browse her website, you can see it HERE.
Saturday, 12 May 2012
Saturday, 5 May 2012
It is Princess Lolly's 89th birthday party and a glorious jelly is on the menu. However there is a problem: the jelly refuses to wobble!
"I won't wobble, I won't wobble and that's my final word!" screamed the jelly...There are hundreds of hungry guests at Princess Lolly's 89th birthday party, all looking forward to the cook's world famous jelly. But the jelly refuses to wobble. One thousand and one chocolate sovereigns to whoever can make it wobble!
The Jelly That Wouldn't Wobble is a sweet book with bold, colourful illustrations and fun fonts. The plot is people trying to think of how to force the jelly to wobble - who will have the successful idea? You will have to read it to find out!
I recommend this to boys and girls aged 5 - 8 years old. I think a small child would just about be able to read this by themselves as the layout is clear and the text is fairly big. This would be a nice bedtime story! 5/5.
Official Publication Date: May 2012.
Note: Buy it HERE.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.The prequel Divergent ended with an incredibly shocking and deathly conclusion. Insurgent begins with the main character dealing with the loss of her parents. The world is full of devastation, and emotion literally flows off of the page.
When I finished Divergent, I wasn't exactly sure if I'd liked it that much. It was okay, and the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, but it didn't really leave me wanting more. So when I heard about it's sequel, Insurgent, I wasn't very excited.
However, I actually really enjoyed this, more than I thought I would. There is lots of action and dramatic characters, and lots of unexpected plot twists. My only issues were that there was some repetition, but I suppose that was slightly necessary in case people were reading Insurgent before reading it's prequel. In that case, they would need a bit of background information. Also there were a few seemingly pointless scenes, which was distracting from the main plot and fantastic characters.
I'm not overly keen on the cover - it's very dark and it's doesn't stand out very well. However I think the gold looks really cool against the purple. I think it would look better without the leaves next to the silhouette.
There is a pretty big twist at the end of the book, which wasn't unexpected (to me) but has left me wondering what will happen next. Will there be another book in the series?
My expectation of this book wasn't high, but it was really good in the end. I found a few faults with it, and I don't think this review does the book justice, but it was still interesting and I was sat on the edge of my seat most of the time. Overall I give Insurgent a rating of 3.5/5, and recommend it to both genders aged 13+.
Official Publication Date: 1st May 2012!
Note: You can buy this book HERE.