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Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers! Happy Wednesday to all - I hope you're all enjoying or at least managing to survive this hot weather (I have the melanin levels of a deep sea fish so I mostly have to avoid the sun, but it still cheers me up to see blue skies).

Today I bring you a Reader Question post, hosted over on the wonderful Tales of Yesterday blog by Chelley. Click the link and head over there to read my take on what makes a great fairytale retelling. Let me know what you think either below or in Chelley's comments - and if you'd like me to answer any questions that you may have about books, reading, writing, or anything else here on the blog, that's the way to get it to me!

More posts coming up later on this week, my lovelies! Read you then.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Hello, Dear Readers, and happy Tuesday!

A very quick post today to share a nice piece of news - you've probably already guessed it from the blog title, but you can now officially pre-order the new edition of Shadows on the Moon from Amazon here. It's also available from The Book Depository here, Waterstone's here, and from WHSmiths here.

Not only does this reissue of the title possess that gorgeous new cover with so many wonderful deails from the story, which matches the cover of Barefoot on the Wind...

But it will also contain exclusive extra content, including a short story set after the events of the novel, which I'm seeing as a kind of prologue to Yue and Otieno's story, and hoping readers will love as much as I do.

The book is out on the third of November, so I haven't seen any real copies in the flesh yet, but I think it's going to be a very lovely item indeed.

And since we're talking about real copies... look what arrived in the post last week!

Matching nail polish entirely coincidental
The very, very first advanced copy of Barefoot on the Wind! I love the brush-effect on the font so much; it looks just as beautiful on the title page as on the front cover.

This one is out on the first of September, so less than a month to go - and of course you can pre-order this one from Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstone's and WHSmith too, if you are so moved (you'd be doing me a favour, and you might get the book a few days early, so it's win-win).

Before I go, a quick reminder that my contribution to the YAShot Blogtour is still up at the lovely Luna's blog and that the giveaway for a complete signed set of the Name of the Blade trilogy is still active, so get on that while you can.

That's all for this week, my lovelies, but next week baring unforeseen circumstances I'll be tackling a reader question with regard to fairytale retellings. Read you later!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Get a load of this sexy .gifwork by Luna! Pwoar!
Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! Apologies for the long absence from blogging - I've been taking a break from most internet related activity (except Twitter, because I just can't quit it) for mental and physical health reasons, but I'm back today because the thrilling YA Shot is getting closer and closer, and it's my turn to contribute to the blog tour. As a quick reminder for those who didn't catch me talking about YA Shot before, it's... well, I'll just quote from the official website:
" author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country. At present, we’re a not-for-profit organisation but we’re seeking to become a charity. 

YA Shot is a one-day annual festival based in the centre of Uxbridge (London). The 2016 festival will take place on Saturday 22nd October 2016. Around 70 authors are involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops. YA Shot is run in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge."
Sounds awesome, right? That's because it IS awesome - and this year I'm taking part! I will be on a panel with Alwyn Hamilton (author of Rebel of the Sands) and chaired by Samantha Shannon (creator of the Bone Season books). The panel is titled Little Women: Fantasy, gender, power and constraint, and I am *very* *excited* because these are topics I love to rant - er - calmly and intelligently discuss with other writers. For information on this and all the other amazing panels and events, many of which I hope to be able to attend as an audience-member, check out the website now.

I already know that some Dear Readers will be there and I'm really looking forward to seeing them, along with a bunch of author-friends who I've never had the chance to meet in the flesh before, and hopefully a whole bunch of new reader-peeps who'll be attending too.

To celebrate and promote the festival, I've collaborated with one of my favourite book bloggers, Luna - of Luna's Little Library fame - to make what I hope is a really chewy, interesting and unique interview about fairytales and folklore, how they change and evolve, what they mean to us as a society, and how it all relates back to the fairytale retellings we've seen in various media, including the ones I've written - not least BAREFOOT ON THE WIND (hence the amazing graphics and .gifs from Luna).

Owned by Luna's Little Library
There's also a giveaway! The winner will receive a complete set of The Name of the Blade trilogy, signed and dedicated, with as much additional secret swag as I can stuff in the box before posting.

Owned by Luna's Little Library
The post and the giveaway are live right now, so check them out, leave a comment, enter the giveaway and share on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. Have a great day, my ducklings - read you later!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers! Happy Wednesday - and happy cover reveal day, too!

Last week I showed you the luscious cover art for BAREFOOT ON THE WIND, the Japanese-influenced retelling of Beauty and the Beast which is coming out in September. The official page for the book is now up on my website, too. It's a companion novel to Shadows on the Moon, set in the same fairytale realm (although with no overlapping characters) so because of this, and because it's been half a decade - and wow that makes me feel old - since Shadows was first released in the UK, Walker Books have decided to publish a new edition of Shadows on the Moon.

This new version will have brand new cover art that complements the BAREFOOT ON THE WIND cover, which of course is super-exciting, and I'll get to that in a moment. But it also has other stuff: new bonus content which has never been available in print before, including something readers have been asking me for pretty much since Shadows hit the shelves back in 2011: a glimpse into Suzume's new life in Athazie.

Not only will the this edition of the book contain love poetry written and exchanged by Otieno and Suzume after the conclusion of the story's events - it also contains an exclusive short story which acts as a kind of 'epilogue' to Shadows on the Moon. I'm very proud of this story, and I hope it will be a satisfying little gift to everyone who loved the book.

The new edition is not available for pre-order yet, but as soon as it appears on Amazon/the Book Depository/Waterstones, I will link it, fear not. In the meantime... *Drumroll Please*






So what do you think? It's beautiful, right? Again, there's so much detail here that comes right from the book - the cherry blossom motif, that kanzashi pin with its ominous drip of blood, the swirling hair, the iridescent effect on the font, like moonlight or the mother-of-pearl inlaid in a lacquer box... I think those who've read the book will recognise all of these things with a little secret thrill, but I also hope that new readers will be drawn to it's sheer beauty as well. And here's the full effect:

I hope you all love this as much as I do, Dear Readers, even though it's very different from the original version (with some significant things in common, of course). Let me know your opinions in the comments!

Friday, 27 May 2016


Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers! Apologies for the quiet period here on the blog - I've had a month of frantic mega-busyness, including a wonderful weekend as a speaker at the Bradford Literature Festival, where I met some of the most wonderful and fascinating people imaginable. Sadly all the rushing around (predictably) culminated in the herniated disc in my spine recurring and putting me on bed rest for a week (look after your spine, my children, you'll definitely miss it when it's gone).

But I'm back today to share the thing I've been desperate to show you for weeks and weeks and weeks now - yes, you know what I'm talking about - it's the cover artwork for BAREFOOT ON THE WIND! Which, just to refresh your memories, is a Feminist re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, set in a fantasy version of Feudal Japan.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. Before you scroll down to feast your eyes on the undeniable loveliness of the artwork designed by Delightful Designer and the ThereIs artistic studio, I have more exciting news to share - about Shadows on the Moon.

So, BAREFOOT ON THE WIND is a companion novel to Shadows on the Moon, taking place in the same fairytale realm, Tsuki no Hikari no Kuni (although there are no over-lapping characters). As such, and because it's been five years since the original release, Walker Books have been inspired to reissue Shadows on the Moon in a brand-spanking-new edition which will not only have new artwork, but original bonus content written by yours truly.

The new edition of the book will be available just after BAREFOOT ON THE WIND's release (which will be the 1st of September). I'll be sharing the luscious new cover artwork for that next week, as well as giving you more details about the exclusive new material which will be in the reissue. For now, let me just say that it's providing something many readers have been asking me for since the book originally came out.*Eyebrow wiggle*

OK, OK, you've been good patient readers. I'll put you out of your misery - here, without further ado, is BAREFOOT ON THE WIND...






Is that gorgeous, or is it gorgeous? I love it. Everything on this cover - the white, red and green colours, the frosty white thorns, the moths, the red butterflies and the falling snow - is symbolic (Google 'butterflies in Japanese mythology' for a hint) and comes directly from stuff that's in the story. I want to burble on endlessly about how much they nailed making the cover represent the book, but it's basically all spoilers so I'll just be over here quietly squeeing while you absorb this:

The full wrap, including a quote from legend L.A.Weatherly, who calls the book 'Hauntingly lovely'. Don't you love the way that the way the illustration continues all the way around like that? J'adore! J'aime! Also, note the brush-stroke effect in that lovely font - I suggested that! When I first got this I spent at least an hour just staring at it, taking in all the tiny little things that link the art to the story and make it totally unique and meaningful. Ack, so happy. If you're interested in cover design, here you can see the Pinterest board of story-relevant images that the designer asked me to put together to help inspire the illustrator.

Over to you now, Dear Readers. What do you think? Does this live up to your expectations? Make you excited to read the book? Sound off in the comments :)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Hello, oh lovely readers. Today, I beg your forgiveness - it turns out that the final artwork for the BAREFOOT ON THE WIND cover isn't ready to share yet.

Mea culpa! Please don't throw things at me! I promise I'm not toying with you - they really did say I could share it this week. It just hasn't worked out. I promise will post it the moment that my editor lets me, cross my heart and hope to die.

So instead, this week I have various linky things to share. First up is this post by writing idol N.K. Jemisin: Hello! You Just Used the "Damned if you Do/Don't" Fallacy!

As per usual, this is sheer brilliance from the writer, and for a wonder the comments are also of the highest standard - or they were when I read them anyway. I've faced people (quite recently, not to mention virulently) telling me outright that I, as a member of group A, cannot write about people from group B, forever and ever, amen. But the thing about that argument is, as N.K. Jemisin points out, that it's kind of beside the point because it doesn't really make sense. The point is to man up and do the very best you can to write the thing anyway, and then listen to what people say in response to what you've produced with an open mind. Otherwise none of us would ever write about anyone who wasn't exactly the same as us in any way (in which case, you'd be Jonathan Franzen). I intend to bookmark this and link to it freely. Hopefully it will save me some time in future online arguments.

Following that, here's a hilarious and heart-warming interview with the intimidatingly rockstar-like Sarah McCarry on writing honestly about sex and sexuality and girls of all types in YA, which made me feel rather proud of my chosen genre (and maybe even my place in it, which is nice).

Next up a marvelous post on writing YA thrillers from a mate of mine, the wonderful Emma Haughton. Even if you don't or haven't yet been called to write a thriller, this still offers some really solid tips for anyone who wants their work to *be* thrilling, and have that up-put-downable quality.

Finally, this piece from the Guardian about common crimes against modern grammar made me smile: practical advice without any snobby messing around. I only wish I could give it to one of my English teachers from when I was growing up: I knew I was right. In your face, Sir.

I hope you enjoy some or all of these links, muffins. Have a great week - and let's all cross our fingers that next week I can finally reveal some luscious cover art. Here's a new song I've been enjoying lately, just to see you off - I think it's about Snow White, what do you think?

Thursday, 21 April 2016


Hello, and happy Friday, Dear Readers! And this is indeed a happy Friday for me, because yesterday I had some unbelievably fantastic news: Arts Council England have made me my second Grant for the Arts, which is to buy time to write (in this case, my retelling of the tale of Mulan).

This grant application did not go quite as smoothly as the last one, and was initially rejected back in March. But after I reapplied with more evidence, the Arts Council came through for me with an offer of the full amount that I'd requested. This means I'll be able to continue as a full-time writer long enough, and will have enough money during that period, to complete all the research and revising required to make my Mulan as authentic, nuanced, respectful and above all powerful as they deserve to be. I could not be more delighted.

Honestly, I thought I was being beyond cheeky to ask for another grant only two years after being awarded the first one. But after some research into other successful applicants on the Grants for the Arts webpages I discovered that several other artists (including writers) had been offered more than one grant, and that these were sometimes given within a couple of years of each other. Which makes sense, since when a writer is pushing themselves artistically and trying out new things, that boundary pushing is unlikely to conclude neatly within the one or two year period of a single project.

I feel completely relieved and joyful, and am now absolutely rearing to go on bringing my interpretation of a trans Mulan to life. A huge thank you to the Arts Council for making this possible!

And in other good news, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to share the stunningly gorgeous cover for BAREFOOT ON THE WIND (as well as some other interesting and exciting stuff) with you next week, so look forward to that :)

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