Sunday, 31 May 2015

Katy Birchall's Writing Inspirations


Katy Birchall's debut book, The It Girl, released on May 7th, is a hilariously delightful tale of how Anna deals with her Dad's recent engagement to a hugely famous actress. Today, Katy has kindly stopped by to talk about what inspired the wonderful book.

My biggest inspirations for The It Girl

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
In my opinion, the greatest fantasy of them all. Lord of the Rings is simply brilliant and I challenge anyone to read those books and then come away from them not wanting to be an elf (Great archery skills? Check. Athleticism? Check. Great hair? Check.) Tolkien was a genius – he created several languages and started inventing them when he was a teenager. I incorporated my appreciation of Tolkien into Anna’s character because, as someone who shuts herself away from the world a lot, it is exactly the type of fiction that she can get lost in and forget her own troubles for a bit. In comparison to her best friend, the cool and collected Jess, Anna is a bit of a dreamer.
Top fact: Did you know that Tolkien was very good friends with C. S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia series? Before either of them were published, they would discuss their writing at the local pub together. I wonder if the two of them knew then how famous their books would become…

Marvel
OK so as badly as I want to be an elf, I would totally settle for being a Marvel superhero (maybe not The Hulk). There is so much creativity that goes into graphic novels and the artists are so incredibly skilled, it genuinely blows my mind. Anna is a lot more knowledgeable than I am about the comic books, she loves them and is a very dedicated fan, whereas for me it is the Marvel films that really capture my imagination. While Anna would give anything to meet Stan Lee, I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon, who has directed the two Avengers’ films. Can you imagine how tricky it must be to translate the comics onto the screen, make sure each Avenger gets enough screentime and let them all be relatable in their individual ways? Joss, forget the Avengers, you are the true superhero.
Top fact: Did you know Joss Whedon also created the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer? How can anyone be this cool?!

School
It may sound weird but I actually really enjoyed school. OK, fine, not the maths bit or the beep test they torture you with every year in P.E. (do schools still make students do this? Why? WHY?) but the rest of it wasn’t so bad and it means you get to see your friends every day. It was at school that I realised my love of writing: my earliest English teacher used to read out stories I wrote in my free time to the class (poor, suffering, undoubtedly bored kids) and I remember him telling me to never stop writing. My characters may whine about school but it’s where all the action takes place and it creates friendships that last a lifetime.
Quick ask: have you had truly embarrassing moments at school just like Anna? Tweet me and let me know!

Dogs
My brother once asked me if I’d ever been able to walk past a dog without petting it and he has a very good point. My dad is mad about dogs and I very much take after him in that respect. Our four Labradors and my old springer spaniel are very much the inspiration behind Dog, Anna’s loyal canine companion. Dog’s personality is a mix of all their best/hilarious qualities and I’m so pleased that readers are falling in love with him! Dogs are brilliant listeners and they never judge you, they just love you because you love them. Humans can learn a lot from dogs.
Top tip: Don’t bother offering dogs lettuce leaves from your plate. They just look at you like, “dude, give me real food”.

Jane Austen

I can’t even tell you how many years I have spent boring my friends with Jane Austen facts and knowledge and for that they can thank my mother. She gave me her copy of Pride and Prejudice when I was a teenager and I remember hiding under my duvet with a torch reading it late into the night. I often think that Anna in my book reminds me a little of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey: na├»ve, kind, vulnerable and an unlikely heroine. Like so many other authors, I’ve been hugely inspired by Jane Austen although, for me, it’s not just her beautiful style of writing, her wit and observation that have had an impact on my writing career. Jane Austen is also an inspiration because in a time when women sat around with very little choice, waiting for a man to propose and secure their future, Jane overcame a lot of obstacles to secure it for herself. She really was an incredible person.
Top tip: Once you’ve devoured her novels, have a look at Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A Life. It’s a brilliant page-turner and a wonderful insight into Jane’s life.

Friends
Almost all my inspiration comes from the people around me. It can be anything: something they say, a story they tell, a look they give. If it stands out or if it’s funny, I log it away and often those small moments prompt some of my biggest ideas. My friends just happen to be the best people in the world – your favourite qualities about the characters in my books will have been inspired by them.
Top tip: take as many photos as you can with your friends and keep them safe. Those memories will be your best ones.



Saturday, 16 May 2015

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler

Read Me Like a BookPublisher: Indigo
Publication Date: 14th May 2015
Pages: 297 (Hardback)
Genre: Contemporary
Source: ARC from Publisher
Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles. There's just one thing bothering her...
Shouldn't it be her boyfriend Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?
So... this was excellent.


I feel like I learnt a lot about relationships and myself from this book. Things that I wish I'd known in the past, and things that I will be thankful to know in the future.


Ash's character developed HUGELY throughout the book and it was wonderful to see that happen. Sub plots flowing in the background worked perfectly and all tied together so successfully, e.g; the divorce, friendships etc - it all tied together in the end in such a marvelous way. Robyn reminded me very much of myself. I know that is weird to say, and in some aspects I wasn't like her, but in others I understood her every action. She's that girl who is studious, meaning that not many people want to be friends with her, and a sense of belonging is missing - I completely understood that, because that's exactly how I feel right now.




Overall, I really, really liked this. Thought provoking, refreshing, and written with clear passion, this book really is at the best it could possibly be. 



Thank you so much to Nina from Orion for sending me this in exchange for a review. Go and read this when it's released!!




Holly x