Anchor Leg by Jack Croxall

Ok, so I know it’s been a while, but I never could resist a Q&A with one of my fave authors, the lovely Mr Croxall.  His new book, Anchor Leg, is brilliant and has all the makings of a classic sci-fi novel. Naturally, I wanted to know more about what had inspired him to write it and where he thinks the story might go next. anchor%20leg%20cover

Where did the character of Seren come from? Is she based on anyone you know?

Oh, good question! I wonder if you agree that every character we write has a little bit of ourselves in them? However, beyond that tiny bit of me, I think Seren is very much her own beast. I had a few scenes in mind when I started writing the book and Seren just sort of grew from what I pictured her doing. My thought process was something like: if she acts like this she must have this kind of personality. Does that make sense?!

Why did you decide to make Seren a trainee?

As an apprentice I thought Seren could learn about the Relay (the fictional succession of habitable space stations that make up the book’s setting) as the reader did. I also started the book off with the idea that it might end up as a young-adult title, but eventually I realised I was writing something that was really pure sci-fi. By then Seren’s character was fully formed and I didn’t want to change/age her. Despite being seventeen (maybe that was always more new-adult than young-adult anyway) I think she works as she is. I just hope readers agree!

What is your favourite sci-fi film/book franchise? Did it have an influence on Anchor Leg?

Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek: The Next Generation. I absolutely loved that show when I was growing up and, during my time at university, I re-watched every episode from all seven series in order – that was my proper education! I love the idea of space exploration and all the moral dilemmas it seems to throw up. In terms of influence, I definitely placed Seren into some morally dubious situations and had her (and other characters) question her actions. On  top of that, there are endless little references and winks to all of my favourite sci-fi shows and films buried within the book. I hope readers have fun spotting them!

The prose of Anchor Leg feels so cinematic that I can imagine it easily as a movie. I know you sometimes write screenplays – would you perhaps adapt this one day as a screenplay?

I take that as a huge compliment, thank you! I also agree that Anchor Leg would make a decent screenplay; a lot of cutting/streamlining as a given of course. Alas, the zero-G stuff and special effects would cost a lot of money to film and, as an unknown writer, I would be very unlikely to get it made. You never know though, maybe one day!

How much did your degree studies/ interest in science influence this book?

I studied environmental science at university and some of that came into play in surprising ways towards the end of the book. My knowledge of space was actually not that strong (although the solar system obviously fascinates me) but I was lucky in that Steve Caddy – sci-fi author of the fabby In Exchange – was on hand to help me with all the technical detail. He set me straight where I got things horrifically wrong in early drafts.

If Anchor Leg was made into a film, who would you love to see in the main roles? Perhaps you’d even like to see it drawn as an anime! 

Definitely unknowns for Seren and Abril, maybe established actors for some of the more senior crew. As for your anime idea, perfect! You’ve singlehandedly solved my budgetary constraint problems! If any animators are reading this, drop me a line!

circle%20author%20photoOriginally trained as an environmental scientist, Jack Croxall soon realised a life in the lab wasn’t for him. After discovering a passion for writing he’s now an award-winning author, scriptwriter and blogger. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at http://www.jackcroxall.co.uk

Anchor Leg is available from Amazon now!

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Author of The Star Child series, Stephanie Keyes, talks YA fantasy, magic and surprising plot journeys

I’m thriled that Stephanie Keyes can join me today on the blog to talk about what first got her reading and writing YA.   She must have the prettiest website in publishing right now and she’s kindly agreed to sprinkle some of her magic over mine! So, Stephanie, take it away…

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Hello everyone and a big thank you to Sharon for having me as a guest today! One of the questions Sharon asked me was how I got into writing in the YA genre.

Growing up, read a ton of YA books growing up, like, prepare to cringe “Sweet Valley High” (I know I just totally dated myself). Those didn’t really do it for me either. I think the turnoff came in the form of romance and high school politics being the only focus of the book. Being a teenager myself at the time, I wanted an escape from the real world, not a reminder of it.

I’d already read some fantasy books growing up, like TH White’s “The Once and Future King”. Though I truly enjoyed them, I had a hard time latching onto high fantasy.

Then I left both behind and spent years reading Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Popular fiction, Romance. Most of what I read ended up being from the Mass Market Paperback section.

Then I got pulled back into YA and Fantasy simultaneously. It was the combining of the two that changed what I read and opened up an entirely new genre of this YA/Fantasy/Paranormal realm. That happened for me with The Harry Potter series. Although I don’t know if much of JK Rowling’s famed series could be termed YA, it was introduced to me at the right time. I loved the idea of magic simply being introduced into our daily lives when we least expected it. For me, the series provided a new breed of palatable fantasy for those of us that couldn’t quite get into Tolkien.

The Harry Potter series was following by OR Melling’s “The Chronicles of Faerie”. Why do all Fantasy writers use initials, btw? These books were marvelous and pulled a great deal of Irish culture and history into the story, which I identified with, having a similar heritage.

By the time books like The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer… ah, there’s a full first name…came along, I started to think…Mmmh. I can write one of those. Writing wasn’t a new past time of mine – I’d wanted to be a journalist when I was younger. When I sat down with intentions to write “The Star Child” in 2008, I had no idea what it would become. When I finished the novel nine months later, no one was more surprised than I!

About Stephanie Keyes

Stephanie Keyes has been addicted to Fantasy since she discovered T.H. White as a child and started drumming up incredible journeys in her head. Today, she’s still doing the same thing, except now she gets to share those ideas with readers!

When she’s not writing, Stephanie is also a graphic designer, international speaker, teacher, musician, avid reader, and Mom to two little boys who constantly keep her on her toes. In addition, she’s best friend to her incredible husband of eleven years.

Mrs. Keyes holds an undergraduate degree in Business and Management Information Systems from Robert Morris University and a M.Ed. from Duquesne University. She is a member of the Society For Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as a featured author in the global group of writers, Love a Happy Ending.com.

Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child (September 2012) and The Fallen Stars (April 12, 2013), both released by Inkspell Publishing. She is currently editing the third book in the trilogy, The Star Catcher.

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Stephanie’s website

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The Fallen Stars by Stephanie Keyes

18 Things author, Jamie Ayres, talks about not growing up, vampire action and writing YA

It’s guest author time again.  The lovely Jamie Ayres has agreed to be my guest on the blog today to tell us about her debut novel, 18 Things and her take on writing YA fiction.  So, grab yourself a coffee (or, in my caffeine-phobe case, green tea) and read on…

Hi, ya’ll *waves* Big shout out to Sharon for hosting me! Let’s get this party started . . .

I made the transition from Wannabe YA Writer to Bona Fide Published Author just last month. I didn’t set out to write YA love stories, but I guess that’s what I enjoy reading the most, so that’s what flowed out of me. Specifically, I love coming-of-age stories . . . that time in our lives when we’re figuring out who we are and often falling in love for the first time and kinda getting away from the watchful eye of the parentals and the vulnerability that stems from all of that. Makes for great writing material!

It’s when I was a young adult in high school that I really discovered I wanted to be a writer. Teaching was tugging on my heartstrings too, so that’s what I majored in, with the intent to write in my ‘spare’ time. Back then I was naïve enough to think I’d have spare time when I grew-up (metaphorically speaking of course, because on the inside, I’m still a sixteen-year-old girl who still weighs one hundred twenty pounds, lol).

About the time kid #2 was entering kindergarten, I felt more free to read books for fun again, and it was perfect timing since my good friend started a book club. We were all moms in our thirties, but we got to talking about Twilight (I know, I know . . . we’re sooo original, hahaha). I wasn’t into vampire stories at all, but when I finally caved and picked it up, I couldn’t get enough. I loved how fast the story got under way. The pacing was so much quicker than what I was used to. Like most young adults (or wannabe YA), I have a short attention span, but everything in that book immediately grabbed me. Too many books I was reading before that left me with a “why should I give a crap?” feeling for far too long. They all gave me a nice character sketch for several chapters, but nothing to make me worry, to make me feel concerened, to make me feel like I wanted to be part of their world. Then, all of a sudden, I was living inside Bella’s head. LIVING each moment as she experienced it. The action was ACTIVE.

I was hooked on YA love stories after that, and I’ve never looked back.

About Jamie

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Jamie Ayres writes young adult love stories with a paranormal twist by night and teaches young adults as a public school teacher by day. When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this. She lives in southwest Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She spent her youthful summers in Grand Haven, Michigan and this setting provided the inspiration for her debut novel, 18 Things. She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Visit her website at http://www.jamieayres.com/ or find her on these social media sites:

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The Puppet Spell author, Emma Adams, chats about singing Disney and writing YA

As promised, the second of my guests, the lovely Emma Adams, writes about what started her on the road to writing and why she loves YA.  The floor’s yours, Emma…

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I was a strange child. I never wanted to talk with the other kids. I had a couple of close friends, and we spent most inventing bizarre games with complicated rules no one else could understand. Really, it was inevitable that I’d go on to write fiction.

When I was ten, I was writing for people my own age. And they liked it. I loved being picked to read out my writing. Then secondary school happened. Suddenly, writing for fun was no longer an option. I found it hard to fit in, and people thought I was odd because I preferred to sit in a corner with a book rather than go outside. All everyone else seemed to want to do was to grow up as quickly as possible. But I wanted to be a writer.

My teachers insisted I needed to think of a ‘real’ career. Books were my only escape, and even as I struggled awkwardly through adolescence, I knew I never really wanted to grow up. And that’s why I continue to write books for children and young adults. I want to live in that world where endless possibility exists, and hasn’t been stamped out by the Real World. I want to fight against the imperative to ‘grow up’, because it isn’t something that necessarily means being happier. University has been the best time of my life, and I think that’s because it’s like an extended childhood. Where else do you find yourself singing Disney songs at the pizza take-out at four in the morning?

I think that’s why I chose a university setting for my next book series – a young adult/new adult supernatural fantasy series. Writing for teens gives more scope to explore those essential life decisions and at twenty-one, I’m still going through the same thing myself! As a young adult you’re discovering who you are and what you want to do, and there are endless possibilities. Above all it’s about exploring boundaries, whatever the genre – between human and non-human, real and unreal, life and death. YA voices aren’t jaded by experience, and I think that’s one of the reasons it appeals even to adults. I want to read and write books that excite me, because I want to be excited by life. That’s what YA fiction gives us, and that’s why it’s here to stay!

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About the Author:

Emma Adams is 21-year-old author of THE PUPPET SPELL, a quirky YA fantasy published by Rowanvale Books. She is currently studying English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University whilst writing the sequel and also working on the creepy paranormal Darkworld series. Check out her fab blog about her writing journey, where she posts weekly updates and writing tips, and also regular book reviews and features.

Author Jack Croxall talks about writing YA

Regular visitors may notice I’ve decorated.  This is in honour of my blog guests for February.  To start the series off, Tethers author Jack Croxall talks about how Will and Lyra ignited his passion for YA fiction.  I’ve been looking forward to Jack’s Victoriana feast for a while now, so I’m thrilled that he’s now ready to release and that he’s popped into my blog home today.  Take it away, Jack…

Why I love (and write in) the YA genre Jack Croxall 

I remember the moment I first wanted to become a writer. I was sitting in my early-teenage bedroom reading The Amber Spyglass between stints of homework, GameCube and playing electric guitar badly, when *spoiler alert* star-crossed adolescents Lyra and Will were forced into parallel universes never to see each other again.

tethpurp-211x300Before starting the His Dark Materials trilogy I had bypassed the YA genre completely, instead choosing to graduate straight from children’s books to novels aimed at adults. With the benefit of hindsight, I suppose I’d done this in some misguided attempt to appear cool to the opposite sex but, thankfully, Philip Pullman’s books were knocking about the house for some reason and one day they just happened to catch my eye.

I was not ready for the heartbreaking ending of The Amber Spyglass. It got to me in a way that nothing I had ever read/watched had done before. I’d identified with the characters early on and, although I didn’t fully appreciate all of the complex themes the books explored at the time, the plot had drawn me in hook, line and sinker.

Before that ending I hadn’t ever given much thought to the fact that books were written by actual people. I expect that, if you’d asked me who the author of The Amber Spyglass was when I’d just started it, I’d probably have given you the same vacant expression I gave most of my teachers when they asked me something in lessons. But, once I’d read the book’s final sentence, I immediately turned over to the cover and thought, Mr Pullman, I want to be able to make people feel how you’ve made me feel. And in truth, that was depressed into to a mild stupor for days – but in a good way.

From that moment on I started feasting on nothing but YA, only picking up the occasional ‘adult novel’ once I was into my twenties. I do enjoy reading books aimed at mature audiences but I rarely connect with them like I do with novels following adolescents. After much reflection, I think this must be because some of the trials and tribulations teenagers go through are universal and that means I can still relate to them despite being slightly less Y and a little more A these days.

So, when I finally sat down to write my first novel, Tethers, (sadly my education got in the way of me becoming a writer the instant I finished His Dark Materials) there really wasn’t any question over what kind of book it would be. I wanted to write in the genre I loved and, indeed, my protagonist was a teenager named Karl almost from the moment my fingers touched the keyboard.

About the author:

Jack Croxall is a YA fiction author and science writer living in Nottinghamshire. He tweets via @JackCroxall, and you can find out more about Tethers, by visiting his website or popping over to his facebook page.  Or, if you’d like to buy it, check out the Amazon page.

With a little help from my friends…

Over the next few weeks I’ll be asking my fellow YA authors to take a turn here (mostly to give me a rest, but don’t tell them that) to talk about what they love about the genre.

There are lots of reasons why I write and read YA. I don’t write or read it exclusively, but it seems to dominate my choices at a subconscious level. Whenever a story pops into my head, invariably, a teenage character pops in with it. Maybe it’s because I’m drawn to young people in life (or people who have a young outlook). Maybe it’s because I have a misguided attachment to my battered old Converse which means you’ll have to prise them from my cold, dead feet, regardless of how embarrassing my kids find it. Maybe it’s because I’m clinging stubbornly to my own lost youth. I’m not sure I can really say why I lean towards YA – you might as well ask why I like the colour green.

Whatever Freud would have to say, I love to write characters of this age. They escape the constraints that dictate the actions of the rest of us. There’s a whole new world opening up for them, endless possibilities still to be written. I write younger protagonists from time to time under a pen name and, while they have just as much fun, mostly I have the watchful eye of a parent or guardian to take into consideration. Young adult protagonists have more freedom to go out into the world on their own but without the burdens that adults have. It’s a time of massive transition – of finding yourself, who you really are, what sort of person you’re becoming – and for me, that’s so exciting. With a young adult protagonist you can pursue emotional arcs that you can’t with any other age group and your characters don’t have to worry about the next gas bill.

First up on the guest posts it’s the turn of the lovely Jack Croxall, author of Tethers, to talk about Philip Pullman, dodgy electric guitars, and what started him on the YA road.  You can catch Jack’s blog post here tomorrow.