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Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Hello, lovely readers! Today I've posted over at the Author Allsorts, so to read my faintly embarrassing reminiscences of all the odd places that I used to hide out to read as a kid, mosey across there now.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


Greetings, Dear Readers! Don't check your calendars - I know it's not my normal posting day, but I'm joining you early this week because I have EXCITING NEWS.

So, you remember I posted about the Heroines of Teen Lit panel and signing in Lincoln on the 29th of October? Well, if you can't get to that (and I know that sadly it was a bit far to travel for many of you) then weep not - I'm doing another event, this one in London, and it's on the 19th. That's right - this coming Sunday. I know it's not much notice, but that's because I literally only learned about it myself on Friday afternoon. It's been a bit of a whirlwind.

Details! you cry. Give us details! Patience, young Padawan - details follow.

Remember the YALC - Young Adult Literature Convention - which was organised by the amazeballs Malorie Blackman and which took place in July this year? Well, YALC is returning with a smaller 'pop-up' event at the winter London Film and Comic Con this very Sunday, and I will be there doing an event on Female Characters in Fantasy Fiction, along with YA superstars Laure Eve (author of FEARSOME DREAMER and THE ILLUSIONISTS) and Samantha Shannon (of THE BONE SEASON fame). I am polishing my tasteful yet kickass Feminist boots as I type. Figuratively. I don't want to get boot polish on my keyboard. But you get the idea: mouthy awesome ladies being mouthy and awesome. Live!
Here is the official press release, which also gives details of the other YALC panel event. Both the YALC events are free to attend, but you will need to have an LFCC ticket to get in. If you're only interested in the two YALC events, you can get a cheaper late day pass, rather than an early bird or all weekend LFCC ticket.

Here is the website for the LFCC where you can learn more about the venue, purchasing tickets, and other stuff going on at the larger con (Princess Leia FTW!).

After the panel, as the press release notes, we'll be doing an hour long signing. I will be there with my special signing pen and I will sign anything you ask me to, not including private parts (because I love you, but I feel we need to get to know each other better before we take that step). I will also be giving away my usual swathes of swag and HUGS. Always, always hugs.

Ettiquette from my previous event still applies: Internet Friends and Dear Readers MUST APPROACH. There is no need to lurk and feel sad about it later! I want to see you, that's the whole point of why I am there. And remember that if know you online by KittyGirl567 and you come along and introduce yourself to me as Sally, I will still be delighted to see you, but might look a bit blank-faced if you bring up our Twitter discussion about fanfic. If we know each other,  please, please DO NOT BE TOO SHY to tell me who you are online before you introduce yourself with your real life name, so that I can greet you with all the genuine warmth, pleasure, in-jokes and snuggles you deserve. Above all: don't worry that it will be awkward! Of course it will, because I am awkward at all times, which means am totally used to it! You cannot possibly embarrass yourself as much as I can embarrass both of us, and that is a guarantee.

Extra information: last night I had an incredibly vivid dream that during the panel event I spontaneously burst into song and ended up leading the other panelists and audience in an a capella rendition of Taylor Swift's Shake it Off, culminating in a fierce dance-off. So, I'm not saying that will definitely happen but, you know. You don't want to miss it if it does, right? Just putting that out there.

Finally, two new reviews showed up on the Amazon page for Darkness Hidden this week after my appeal in last week's blog post. I am overjoyed to see them - thank you my darlings! See you hopefully on Sunday, and if not, then on the blog next week :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Hello and happy Wednesday, my lovelies! Today is a fine day p*rn!

Yes, that's right, a precious finished copy of the Candlewick Press edition of The Night Itself - retitled THE NAME OF THE BLADE for US release, and due out in November of this year - has arrived and it is a hardcover of surpassing prettiness if I do say so myself. Get out your smelling salts, lock yourself away somewhere private, and prepare yourself for sexeh sexeh book shots (I HAVE SO MANY OF THEM I MAY HAVE A PROBLEM SEND HELP):

So, here is the front. Which, you may note here, is incredibly shiny and has more coloured foils on it than you can shake a stick at - dusky purple for the Nekomata, gold for its eyes and the lettering, a bit more gold and some black on the grip of the katana, and silver for the blade itself. Its rather shockingly lovely in the flesh. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE:

Let's hear it for brightly coloured endpapers I love them so. This is one of the best things about hardcovers, I swear. So bright, so yellow, my preccccious...

And what colour goes the best with dusky purple dust jackets and bright yellow endpapers? Why it's pale dove grey and silver, which is the exact shade chosen for the binding, as you can see.

But what's that? A strange symbol on the spine? Let's check the dust jacket again!

It's there too! And all shiny and silver and purple again, hubba hubba.

Also, it feels worth mentioning that this is a super dinky little hardcover - it's smaller than a trade paperback here in the UK and not much bigger than a mass market paperback. I've never seen such a petite hardcover edition - it's practically dwarfed by the Candlewick Press hardcover of, say, Daughter of the Flames or Shadows on the Moon. I'm not sure why that is, but it's kind of precious, honestly. I want to slip it in my pocket, just because I can.

Anyway, this is a case where the little thumbnails you see of a cover online do not do the book justice in any way. It's simply scrummy in the flesh, and I hope that lots of people notice this and pick it off the bookshelves of their local shop come November. Lucky for me, the book's already had two lovely reviews, one of which was featured in the Publisher's Weekly Children's Bookshelf Newsletter (and I had no idea until it popped into my inbox and I was reading it as normal and suddenly there was my book staring out at me, leading to much flailing and squeaking at Casa Marriott).

In the meantime, I'd like to ask a favour of any Dear Readers who have a few spare moments: if you've written a review of Book Two of the Trilogy: Darkness Hidden for your blog or your Goodreads, or you were thinking of doing so? The Amazon page for this book is looking a bit sparse in terms of reviews. It's got four absolute stonking ones, which I'm very grateful for - don't get me wrong! - but since the first book has over twenty it kind of looks like no one is reading the next in the series which isn't the impression I was hoping the book would make, you know?

However, there's no pressure to do this, and I'm not guilt-tripping anyone who doesn't want to or doesn't have the time, so feel free to ignore my neediness, oh delightful chickadees. I love you all regardless! *Mwah*

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers!

I'm back today to bring you a bit more detail about the event that I'm doing in Lincoln on the 29th of October. Here, courtesy of the mad skillz of the lovely Kerry Drewery herself, is all the information you should need in order to know how cool it's going to be that and YOU WANT TO BE THERE:

Each of us will be reading from our books, taking questions from the audience, and signing. I plan to read a bit from book three of the Name of the Blade Trilogy - Frail Mortal Heart - which isn't out until July of 2015, so that will hopefully be a valuable sneak peek for those who've enjoyed the first two books. I'll also be bringing my special signing pen to autograph and personalise any books that you bring or buy, signed bookplates for you to take home, various pieces of exclusive and delightful swag and, most important of all, *sweeties*.

Plus, of course, my usual suffocating and inescapable hugs. Those are non-negotiable.

Lincoln is a delightful place - which I know well because it's only an hour away from my hometown by train and I've spent a lot of time there. The best scone and cup of tea in the North of England is available right there on Lincoln High Street by Stokes Cafe. They also sometimes do a sticky toffee pudding which is... *Drools* Nomz. Anyway, Lincoln is small and easy to navigate, full of fascinating little independent shops and well worth a few hours of anyone's time even if there wasn't going to be this pretty mad awesome book event there, too. If anyone's ever wanted to see one of these fabulous multi-author panel events that always seem to be going on in London, but find the capital a bit expensive or difficult to get to, now is the time to take advantage of the more Northernly location of THIS book event and book your train tickets/get your dad to give you a lift/look up the bus timetables.

So, in summary, reasons everyone should come and hang out with us in Lincoln on the 29th of October:
  1. Frail Mortal Heart spoilers/sneek peeks
  2. Signed and personalised books
  3. Signed bookplates
  4. Exclusive swag
  5. Sweeties
  6. Hugs
  7. Gorgeous location (with optional scones)
I think I've made a compelling case here, but let me know if you want anymore details, my ducky darlings, and I shall, as the Black Widow would say persuade you.

*Smooches to all*

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Hello, lovely readers! Today, I bring you, not so much a post, but more a bunch of thinky thoughts inspired by my recent watching of the two Spiderman reboot films - THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN and it's imaginatively named sequel THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2.


Seriously, don't read this if you haven't seen the films and you don't want to be spoiled. Because I am spoiling All The Things here. Okay?


So, I liked the first film - I enjoyed it. I thought that the story was a little incoherent and that the filmmakers failed to explain certain elements sufficiently in their quest to avoid imitating the Tobey Maguire version. But I loved Andrew Garfield's young, vulnerable rendition of the character. And I adored the female hero of the piece - smart, funny, brave Gwen Stacy, brought to life by Emma Stone.

Note that I call Gwen's character here a female hero rather than a 'love interest'. That's what she is. Her first speaking scene in the film is where she puts herself between Peter and Flash, who is kicking the cr*p out of Peter outside their school while the other students look on with various levels of amusement and concern. Gwen is the one who helps Peter sneak into the Oscorp facility to find out about his parents (albeit she just thinks he's there for the love of science). Gwen is the first and only person Peter tells about his abilities. Gwen goes up against the frankly terrifying villain, the Lizard, without any superpowers at all, twice. Once to defend Peter and save his life by distracting the villain at a crucial moment. Once to try and hide a piece of equipment vital to the Lizard's plan and to synthesize an antidote to stop him, and also to evacuate the building where she knows he's about to go on the rampage.

Gwen has agency in this story. She is the one who first talks to Peter, she is the one who asks him out. When she's in the lab that the Lizard is about to break into, and Peter orders her over the phone to 'get out of there', Gwen ignores him, triggers the blast shutters to buy herself some time, and keeps on doing what needs to be done. Her actions, in fact, save the entire city - without the antidote that she risks her life to create, the entire of New York would have ended up as giant green lizards. Gwen may not get to do cool stunts in a fancy yet implausible superhero costume - but she is so much more than a 'plucky', 'fiesty' (eugh) love interest. She's the female protagonist of the film. She's a hero.

In the second film, her heroic nature is less well utilised because she and Peter break up right at the beginning of the story. Peter is haunted by his memories of Gwen's father, the police chief who died fighting by his side at the end of the first film. His last words to Peter were to beg him to break up with Gwen to keep her safe. Peter actually wasn't able to stay away from Gwen like he promised, but by the beginning of ASM 2 Gwen is so sick of Peter's guilty attempts to make her decisions, 'for her own good', that she breaks up with him for good.

Peter then spends a worrying amount of time stalking her around the city, and pinning multiple pictures of her to his wall. It's not great behaviour for a hero, but sadly we're all long innured to the fact that Hollywood thinks stalking is hot. In the meantime, Gwen moves on with her life in a very heroic way, applying for a scholarship which will allow a remarkable student to study at Oxford in England.

While Peter meets - and forgets - Max, the man who will become electrically-fuelled villain Electro, and tries to support his friend Harry Osborn over the death of Harry's father from a genetic illness which, sooner or later, will probably kill Harry too (Harry will later become the film's second string villain the Green Goblin) Gwen is discovering shady goings on at the Oscorb lab where she does her work-study, and offering Peter friendly support whenever he barges back into her life. Just as she is about to leave for England, Peter comes after her and tells her that wants to be with her, but he won't hold her back. If she's going to England, he will follow her. Still a tiny bit stalker, but a sweet sentiment anyway.

In the final third of the film, Gwen is the one who gives Peter the answer that allows him to Electro-proof his web-slingers. He responds to this by once AGAIN trying to take away her right to make her own choices, webbing her hand to a car so that she can't go with him to try and stop Electro. Gwen manages to cut herself free, and it's a really good thing she does, because when Electro shuts down the entire city's power grid, putting thousands of people's lives in danger, she's the one who figures out how to restart the system and put Electro down for good, which she proceeds to do, with Peter's help.

She also gives Peter a great speech about how no one, including him, has the right to make her choices for her, that she has made the decision to be there, and how she will not stand for him acting the way he has been anymore. It's fantastic. I nearly stood up and cheered, especially since the film supported her words by having her immediately save the day.


Then the filmmakers shoved Gwen Stacy right in the fridge.

What does this mean? It's slang for when writers or producers basically throw away a female character - by killing her or having her 'ruined' (blech) in some fashion, which is often a sexual assault, or a catastrophic loss of agency - in order to motivate a male character to greater depths of manpain. It disempowers the female character, turning them from a person into a symbol whose real worth, traits, and possible suffering are meaningless in the face of the overwhelming, sacred pain of the male character who has lost them.

Why does Gwen's death count as a fridging, you ask? Haven't I just spent this entire post talking about how awesome and heroic Gwen was? Maybe the writers really loved her and felt she deserved a grand and heroic death?

Yeah, except she didn't get one.

Gwen didn't die heroically putting herself between Peter or some other innocent person and danger, or saving thousands of people. She died at the last minute, after being snatched up by the Green Goblin, the film's second string villain. He didn't even know Gwen. But he knew that she was Peter's girlfriend - and he wanted to hurt Peter. That was all Gwen was to him, a female piece of meat whose destruction would upset the object of his ire. So he dropped her from a great height, and Gwen died because Peter failed to save her.

This completely undercuts Gwen's fantastic strong stance on her right to make her own choices about where she wants to go, what she wants to do, and the risks that she intends to take. By killing her right then and in the way they did, the filmmakers are retroactively validating Gwen's father's passive aggressive interference in her life, and Peter's constant attempts to keep her out of danger by taking her choice away. The filmmakers are basically saying that Peter's behaviour was warranted. Gwen didn't have the right to make her own choices after all, because look what happened - exactly what Peter told her would happen. She died.

She died because of him.

I think that's actually the worst part of all. The blaring message that Gwen died because of Peter. Not because she was a hero, putting herself in danger to save thousands of people - people in planes and hospitals, people who without a doubt WOULD have perished if she hadn't been there to take action.

No, Gwen died because Peter didn't protect her well enough. Didn't manage to take her choices away from her, wrap her up in cotton-wool, and keep her out of the conflict well enough.

Literally nothing in the scene where Gwen died reflected Gwen's bravery, heroism and intelligence. They stripped her of everything and left her dangling from one of Spidey's webs like a classical damsel in distress. Her father got to die fighting. He got to offer up some last words. Gwen got to fall, photogenically, and then lie there photogenically in Spiderman's arms while he expressed his beautiful grief over her lovely corpse.

After Peter has finished crying (but not making any attempt at CPR - that wouldn't have been photogenic, after all) we get a brief flash of Gwen's mother and brothers at her funeral, and then lots of shots of time passing as Peter, having given up his web-slinging ways, broods, alone, over her grave. What we don't see is any acknowledgement of a hero's passing. There's no speech from Peter at her funeral about how brave and amazing she was. There's a news bulletin about how the people of New York miss Spiderman, but nothing from anyone about how Gwen Stacy, Chief Stacy's little girl, turned out to be just as great a hero as him in saving the city of New York from Electro. No one seems to know or care that if Gwen hadn't been there that night, the power grid would not have been restored and Electro might well have killed Spiderman and still be terrorizing the city.

Even when Peter watches Gwen's valedictorian speech, which he missed at the beginning of the film, the part of the speech that the filmmakers chose to use is a section which falls squarely under the heading of 'supportive girlfriend', in which Gwen tells the listener not to give up hope, and that they are enough. We saw the beginning of this speech earlier on and it was kickass and heroic, with Gwen stating that life is precious because it is finite and that we have to chose to be brave even knowing we will all fail along the way - but they didn't use that. Why? Because by this point in the movie Gwen is no longer a hero.

Gwen doesn't get to talk about bravery anymore. Peter is the Lonely Hero standing at her grave filled with a manly pain that no one - not his aunt May, who lost her husband, not Gwen's family, who lost a husband and father and a sister and daughter in the space of a year - can possibly understand. Gwen herself couldn't understand it. She's been reduced to a symbolic saintly girlfriend, a sacrifice. She's safe. She's blonde and pretty and smiling softly in the pictures on Peter's walls. 

Because that's why Gwen had to die here. She was too strong, Too heroic. Gwen was going to go to England and take Peter with her, and we couldn't have that, now could we? She would have been taking Spidey away from NYC! When the filmmakers decided to kill her off in such a meaningless way, I'm sure they felt it was 'for the best' and that they were doing her justice by making sure she looked tragically gorgeous the whole time she was falling to her death and being a dead body.

In fact, they stripped us of a heroine and gave us a dead damsel in distress. They stripped Gwen Stacy of her soul before they did her body in. They took away the tragedy of the fall of a hero and made it into the tragedy of the loss of Spiderman's girlfriend. As Peter is kneeling over Gwen's body, with a tiny trickle of dark blood coming out of her nose, the filmmakers don't want you thinking: Poor Gwen. You're supposed to be thinking: Poor Peter.

Probably the reason why Gwen was allowed to develop into such a strong, funny, brave, kickass female protagonist in the first place is that the writers and producers always intended to transpose Gwen's death from the comics into the films. They had the confidence to allow her to be ballsy and unapologetically clever and ambitious because they had her meaningless, pointless fridging to look forward to. Ultimately, Gwen was never going to be allowed to truly influence and change Peter's life. She was never going to be acknowledged as a hero or get to die as one. Everything was always going to be about Peter, in the end.

She was always intended for the fridge.

Look, as a writer, I know full well that sometimes characters have to die. Sometimes female characters have to die. But what doesn't have to happen to female characters (and ONLY female characters) is for them to die solely to motivate a male character into a long, dark night of the soul. If you create a female character with the endgame of killing them off, let their death be more than a prompt for manpain.

Let them die the way they lived, whether that is heroically or stupidly or utterly mundanely.

Do not make a female character's death all about the man in their life.

For the love of God, at least allow her DEATH to be about HER.

If you can't do that, if there's no other reason to kill her off than to stimulate manpain, or if there's not enough of her as a character to make any kind of death meaningful other than one motivated only by and meaningful only to the men in her life? Please, please... think again.

Monday, 15 September 2014


Hello, and happy Monday, Dear Readers!

I know, I know - I've been neglecting the blog (and you) pretty shamefully for a few months now. What's been going on? Well, honestly, I've been in kind of a black hole for a while. I couldn't find the energy to work, I didn't want to hang out with friends, and I didn't want to interact much online. Even managing to drag myself out of bed in the mornings was a struggle. I tried to push past it and keep doing all the same things as normal, and at first that worked, but after a while pretending things were just the same as before began to make me feel even worse. Trying to Keep Calm And Carry On will only take you so far before you get to an edge that you don't want to fall over. I found myself on that edge due to a combination of factors right about the time of my birthday in April this year, which was six months to the day after my father died. I chose to back away - and that meant backing away from all of you, as well.

This sounds quite scary and serious, but in fact it what it came down to was taking care of myself. My brain and my body were demanding that I cease running at full speed and just stop for a while. In order to cope, I pretty much had to allow myself the space to be alone, be quiet, and mentally and emotionally try to work through everything that's changed in my life over the past twelve months and where that leaves me now.

So I've been gone. And I just had to trust that you guys would be waiting for me when I felt strong enough to come back.

I'm starting to get better now - better enough that daring to say that doesn't feel like jinxing myself - but I'm still working through a few problems. Mostly this is my complex thoughts and feelings over my dad's passing last year, which is only just starting to seem real to me, but a lot of it is also problems with my health which prevented me from being on my computer for more than a few minutes, some days, without triggering ferocious migraines.

I don't want to make promises that will be like stones on my back as I try to climb out of that hole, but I do hope to be around online and more available to my friends and Dear Readers in the coming months. At the very least, I owe you updates on where I am with all my ongoing projects and what's coming up next. I'll make an effort, anyway.

Now before we all get really emo and start crying into our teddy bears (which I freely admit I've been doing plenty of recently) let's have AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!

In October I'm going to be doing a panel event and signing at the High Street Waterstones in Lincoln - my first public event since my dad passed on. Fellow YA writers Kerry Drewery (author of A Brighter Fear and A Dream of Lights) and Emma Pass (author of ACID and The Fearless) will be joining me for an evening event - 6:30 onwards - which celebrates the fabulous heroines of teen literature. I'll not only be answering questions and autographing books, but also giving out prizes and possibly spoilers about future work.

I'm a tiny bit nervous about this event, since I've been living like a hermit for a while. But I'm also really keen to get out and about as well. I'd love it if any Dear Readers who can make it would show up so I can shower them with hugs and swag. Lincoln is a gorgeous city that's well worth a visit any day, and between us Kerry, Emma and me have most of YA Lit covered, so we ought to be able to entertain you really well.

I'll be blogging more about the event and my fellow authors as the event gets closer, but for now, I just wanted to let you all know what's *been* going on and what *is* going on. Much love to all of my babies - and I hope you read you later.

Zolah xx

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Hello, Dear Readers! Happy Wednesday to you all. I'm back today to pick the winner of the signed copy of the frankly thrilling UKYA Dystopian novel THE FEARLESS by my friend Emma Pass.

So I popped all the entries into the random number generator and (drumroll please) the winner is...






Congratulations! Now, I'm pretty sure that you've won prizes on the blog before, but just in case you are a different Eleanor or you've changed your address, I'd still like you to email me at z d marriott (at) gmail (dot) com to let me know your full name and where you'd like your signed copy of the book posted to. I really hope you enjoy the book, Eleanor.

For all those who didn't win, fear not! More giveaways - The Name of the Blade themed giveaways - are hopefully imminent, so you will have chances to win other lovely prizes later on.

Read you later, peeps!
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