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Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Hello, oh lovely readers! I'm still locked in battle with the dreaded tonsillitis over here - which has now spread down into a chest infection and upwards as bacterial conjunctivitis, as if I wasn't already having enough fun - but since I'm not getting any useful work done on BaBBook, I thought I might as well try to update the blog instead.

So first of all, a big thank you to writers Tom Huddleston, Sally Green and Josh Winning, cat-herder Rosie Fletcher (otherwise known as the moderator) and writer pals Liz de Jager and C.J. Daugherty for making my London Book Fair experience a really fun one.

Our panel was packed full and apparently people were queuing half-way down the mezzanine level to get in. Wonder Editor and Super Agent, who were already at the fair, hard at work, and came along to offer their support, both had to flex their muscles at the doorman to get in. Which is just what you want, and especially satisfying because I think the panel itself offered some really valuable and thoughtful discussion. If anyone feels like inviting me back next year, I'd definitely be interested!

And now, somewhat belatedly, I'm announcing another book and writing related event which is going to take place on Saturday the 9th of May. I'm going to be taking part in the Lincoln Inspired Festival, doing another panel event on Reading and Writing YA, followed by a book signing, at The Collection (a fascinating art museum) in Lincoln at 1:30pm.

The other panelists will be the lovely Kerry Drewery whom I'm very much looking forward to meeting again, and two other local writers, Georgia Twynham and and Cassandra Parkin. Tickets for this and many other events over the course of the weekend are on sale now - you can get details and find the numbers to call to get tickets in this leaflet. Lincoln is an absolutely beautiful town, filled with fascinating shops, historical buildings, and my favourite tea shop in the world, so if you live nearby do hop on the train or bus or organise a car-ride and come down to take part in the Festival. Remember that if you're a Dear Reader, there is always an extremely loving welcome waiting for you from me (provided you tell me who you are, which, as we have discussed in the past, is A Rule).

And now for my promised list of my top six songs by male artists or male led bands!


And here, the Spotify playlist with male/female songs together, plus a few songs that almost nearly not quite made the cut:


Friday, 17 April 2015


Sorry, my lovelies! I know I've promised various things for this week - a list of my top six songs by male artists or male led bands, an account of my panel on YA Literature at the London Book Fair, and also details of *another* book event that I'm doing soon at the Lincoln Inspired Festival. I haven't forgotten!

But on Friday/Saturday last week, only a couple of days after I finished my copyedit of Frail Human Heart, fate decided to sandbag me (yet again!), this time with a dose of tonsillitis, a vicious bug that I thought I had left behind in adolescence. I managed to keep it together enough to still get myself to London and participate in LBF on Tuesday, and then get myself home again afterwards, but not only has the infection proved extremely resistant to antibiotics, I've also turned out to be one of those people who gets fairly awful nausea while on penicillin, and have now, oh joy,  developed a horrible, wracking cough, which is aggravating my asthma no end and doesn't help even a little bit. I've lost my voice completely and have reached the point where I no longer wish to get better, but only for the sweet embrace of death.

TMI? Probably TMI. Well, don't worry, I won't detail my sufferings any further because a) they're not interesting to anyone, even me and b) if you're following me on Twitter you've already seen me miserably moaning about them over the last several days. But basically, I've tried my best to muscle through it, and although I'm so proud and happy to have been part of the London Book Fair and had a fantastic time there meeting up with some of my favourite people, I'm fairly sure that attempting to carry on as usual has made it all far worse than it needed to be. So now I'm going to give in, heed official advice, and just rest as much as I can until I start to feel human again. This means the Zolah-Machine is out of order for a little bit. Hopefully posting will resume some time next week, but I can't make any promises.

If you're waiting for a prize in the post from me, I'm afraid there will probably be a few more day's delay, and I apologise wholeheartedly. You will get your books soon, promise. 

And yes, before anyone kindly emails me or sends me comments - I do take an excellent multivitamin and mineral supplement, eat an extremely healthy balanced diet which is high in leafy greens and other vegetables, and exercise on a daily basis. I also use a SAD light to stimulate the production of healthy chemicals in my body when the weather is dull. If you can think of a way to avoid getting ill, it's pretty certain I've already tried it. Sadly, I just have a rubbish immune system for various reasons, and have to accept that and try and work around it as best I can.

Take care of yourselves, and I'll read you later, muffins!

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers! Happy Thursday to all - just think, only one day until the weekend!

Today's post divides up neatly into three parts, and they are thus:

1) The winners of last week's giveaway of two signed copies of the Things I'll Never Say anthology containing the Shadows on the Moon prequel story 'Stormclouds Fleeing from the Wind' are Barker and Jones Staff and Rachel Balcombe! Well done, you two. Get in touch with me at z d marriott (at) g mail dot com and let me know the postal addresses where you'd like these sent and if you'd like me to dedicate your books, and if so, to whom.

2) It is now less than one week until I shall be participating in this panel at London Book Fair! The Dark Arts panel event will include author and journalist Josh Winning, bestselling author Sally Green and (most exciting of all!) my two friends (also bestselling, award-nominated writers) C.J. Daugherty and Liz de Jager, whom I cannot wait to see. It's my very first appearance at the LBF and I'm slightly terrified, so if any of you Dear Readers are going to be there at the fair, please do come along and give me a wave or a shout.

3) My promised music post! I came up with the idea for this when I was trying to work out, as a sort of mental exercise, my top five songs ever. I couldn't actually do it. I got it down to six, but then realised that they were all bands fronted by guys or guy artists, and that I'd completely forgotten about all the female artists and female led bands I love, which led to me making another list of them. So eventually it was my top twelve songs of all time. Not exactly evidence of a neatly organised brain, but definitely a sign of excellent musical taste, in my opinion. This doesn't include classical or soundtrack/instrumental pieces, by the way - I recommend those all the time in my playlists.

So here (in no particular order) are the top six songs by female singers, artists or female-led bands:

This was a close call. For instance, Midnight on the Water was almost You are my Sunshine by Civil Wars, Sleep Alone was almost Speeding Cars by Imogen Heap, With Every Heartbeat was almost Angels Would Fall by Melissa Etheridge, Blooming Heather was nearly The Only Exception by Paramore, and All I Need was almost Memories (also by Within Temptation).

When I've done the top six male singers, artists and male led bands next week, I'll probably put together a Spotify playlist to make it easier to listen to everything at once and add a few of those alternates in as a bonus. Enjoy, my lovelies!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


Hello, hello, hello, oh lovely readers! Yes, that's right - my blog title does not deceive you - the first draft of the Beauty and the Beast retelling and companion novel to Shadows on the Moon is DONE.

That's all of it, right there, in it's original longhand form on top and typed up and printed out in the folder on the bottom (which is already collecting Post-It notes as ideas for revisions occur to me). It'll stay there for my usual two week maturation period before I re-read it, mark the manuscript up, and then edit the whole thing. Once that's done it'll go off to Wonder Editor and Super Agent and we'll see what they have to say.

Normally at this point I'd be indulging in an orgy of reading, DVD and TV watching, and fun train journeys to various nearby metropolises - but on the very same day that I finished this first draft of BaBBook my copyedits for Frail Human Heart popped into my inbox, so I'm working on those instead. It's not exactly a hardship: I have very, very fond feelings towards Frail Human Heart and am not at all sick of it (which I usually am of every book, by copyedit stage!) but I definitely want to be finished before my birthday next week, so that I can enjoy a day out without feeling guilty.

Some facts about BaBBook in its first draft - all of which are subject to change between now and publication:
  • It is just over 83k words long. This is longer than Frail Human Heart (81k) but shorter than Shadows on the Moon (103k)
  • The first word in the book is Once (that's in the preface) but the first word of the first chapter is There (you can read the first page and see the book's writing playlist here, if you haven't already)
  • The heroine's name is Hana. It means 'flower' 
  • I wrote the last 50k of this book in four weeks
  • I had a mega-huge dramatic emotional scene planned for the end of the book, but I got five lines into it, stopped, looked at what I'd written, and decided THAT was the perfect place to end instead. The same thing happened when writing Shadows on the Moon, oddly enough!
  • The last word of the book is You
  • BaBBook contains not only talking trees, monsters, and shapeshifters, but also the undead (they weren't in the outline, I don't even know what happened)
  • There are twenty three chapters
  • Just like Shadows on the Moon, the book starts with a haiku
  • Now that I'm finished I can finally take this pile of books off the arm of my chair! They've been there for over a year.

In other news, the copies of Things I'll Never Say (which has the Shadows on the Moon prequel story about Akira) have arrived from Amazon, and I'm ready to do the giveaway!

Let's make this one low key - just comment on this post and tell me a secret (big or small) and then tweet a link to this post with the hashtag #thingsillneversay and in a week's time I'll put all the names into a random number generator and pick out two winners. You must use the hashtag, folks, or I won't be able to find and count your tweet. Each winner will get a signed copy of the book and assorted swag. This is UK only.

Next week I'm planning to do another music post - I was thinking I'd do my top six all-time favourite songs by female artists or female led bands, and then the following week the top six by male artists or male led bands. This isn't including classical or soundtrack stuff, because I recommend that all the time, so you've already seen all my favourites there.

If anyone has any questions about writing or reading, or suggestions for post topics, let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can make of them. Read you later, muffins!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Hello, my angel delights! Happy Tuesday, and I hope you're having a lovely week so far.

Today I thought I'd share the contents of two beeeeautiful packages that I received late last week. Can you guess what was in them? Here's a hint: it was books. OK, that was just the answer, but honestly I'm impatient to get onto the pretty part. So first up, I want to share the Polish translation of The Swan Kingdom, published by Egmont Poland:

Now, I had to work to get my hands on this. Technically when translations are made I'm supposed to get two or three copies, but even though I'd chased this up several times, years had gone by and clearly it was just not happening. So I went online and searched around and found a single copy for sale through Amazon. I felt a bit silly ordering it (yes, that is my own name on the cover there, Amazon employees, keep moving on) but I'm so incredibly glad that I did because just as with the Egmont Poland version of Shadows on the Moon, this book is an object of transcendent loveliness.

It has the same unique supersoft velvet finish to the cover, the same flippy cream paper that makes it possible to bend the book completely in half, the delicate traceries of spot UV on the title and the details of leafy spiny branches (on Shadows, these were bamboo branches, here they seem to be hawthorn, if I'm any judge WHICH IS PERFECT) and my absolute favourite: French flaps. IT IS GORGEOUS.

So this is mine, my own, my precious, but something else came unexpectedly before the weekend and this bounty I'm willing to share, after a fashion. It was my Candlewick Press editions of THINGS I'LL NEVER SAY, the anthology to which I contributed my very first short story written as a professional writer:

It, too, is replete with loveliness. The colour hasn't come out brilliantly in these pictures, but writing on the spine is blue and the endpapers are leaf green. The cover itself is taken from a piece of vibrant collage artwork which was specifically created for the book - and it's incredibly gratifying to see my name there on the inside flap, and a quote from my story on the back, too (the third one down). 

My story in this anthology, 'Storm Clouds Fleeing from the Wind', is effectively a short prequel to Shadows on the Moon, and is the story of how Akira came to dance at the Shadow Ball years before she ever met Yue, and how she was chosen as Kage no Hime. I've talked before about how special this story is to me - it's not only the first short story I've ever had published, it's also a story that my father encouraged me to write, and which I completed shortly after his death in order to fulfil my promise to him to keep writing.

When my two author copies of this book arrived, the temptation to flick through and find my own story and reread it before doing anything else it was irresistible - and I was thrilled and surprised to find that it literally brought up the short hairs on the back of my neck and completely arrested my attention. I was spellbound by it. And I wrote it! I think it may be the best thing I've written to date, and I don't say that lightly.

A lot of people want to know more about Akira and see more stories in the world of the Moonlit Lands (and I am working on that last one, too) but although US readers will be able to buy this book for themselves or borrow it from the library come the end of the month, there's no word yet on when or if Walker Books will bring out a UK version. And it doesn't seem fair that US readers can get more of the stuff everyone's asking for but UK ones can't.

I wish I could offer up one or both of my author copies, but my mother stole one when she dropped by to see me on Friday (curses!) and, you know, I do want one for myself.

Luckily, I've discovered that this book, too, can be had through Amazon for a reasonable-ish sort of price, although still not until the end of March. So I'm going to order two copies, sign 'em, and give them away to two UK readers when they're available. How does that sound? Good? More details when I have the books in my hot little hands.

Read you later my lovelies!

Monday, 16 March 2015


Hello, Dear Readers! Welcome back!

Over the weekend (despite taking regular breaks to stick my head over a bowl of hot water and Olbus Oil and steam my sinuses in order to prevent my eyes from exploding) I broke 50,000 words on BaBBook! Now, I'm very, very (very) bad at estimating how long my novels will end up being - but with the way the story is shaping up, I'm pretty sure I can state that I'm now in the final third of the book, which means all Hell is breaking loose in the story and things are metaphorically blowing up all over the place. My favourite part of any story!

Given all this, it seemed like a good time to share a snippet of BaBBook and the main playlist that I've been writing to. And as snippets go, I don't think there's a better one to offer than the first page of the book. So... here we go: 

* * * *

There is a monster in the forest, whispered the trees.

“I know, Obasan.” I patted the vast trunk of an ancient cedar with one sun-browned hand as I passed. “I know.”

The tree shuddered a little. I turned away to crouch by the body of the shaggy coated serow I had just brought down. Its thrashing and struggling had already stopped. My fingers sank into the soft, greyish fur as I turned it over, and looking down into the animal’s swiftly clouding eyes, I felt deeply grateful.

It was a clean kill. All living creatures struggled for survival, and so death was always painful. But the arrow was embedded deeply in the mountain antelope’s heart. It had only suffered for a moment in its passing. That was the best I could do.

The antelope’s pelt would make a warm blanket and perhaps mittens for the coming winter. Its meat, hung and cured, would feed us for many days. The horns and bones would become a multitude of useful tools. The animal’s death had been necessary to our survival – for I had seen little game today, and I was already perilously close to the edge of the dark woods. The trees were anxious, shivering and creaking around me, warning me from wandering deeper. We had needed this.

“Thank you,” I said quietly.

Digging my knee into the crisp fallen leaves, I pulled the arrow free from the serow’s body, examined the horn arrowhead for damage, then wiped it off and placed it back in the quiver strapped to my back. My bow, swiftly unstrung, slid into the quiver beside it, done for the day. I would barely be able to carry what I had caught as it was.

I lifted the serow with a grunt of effort, draping its weight across both my shoulders so I could hold its hindquarters in place with one hand and grasp its front legs with the other. Glancing down to make sure that the brace of small birds I had collected from my snares was still securely attached to the cord holding up my rough leather leggings – they were – I turned and made for home. Around me, the trees sighed with relief, leaves shaking gently as I moved away from the edge of the dark woods.

There is a monster in the forest, the trees murmured gently. 

“No need to worry.” I wove swiftly between their trunks. There was no need for stealth now, but my bare feet, tanned as tough as leather, made little noise. “I’m going.”

* * * *

And now for my primary BaBBook playlist, courtesy of Spotify:

The best track to listen to while reading that snippet is probably Evensong, by the way - it's usually the first one I put on when I start work in the morning. But I tweeted the other day that BaBBook is simultaneously the sweetest, fluffiest book I've ever written and ALSO one of the darkest and most twisted, and this is reflected in the fact that my playlist go-to track (the one I slap on when I'm stuck and need to reconnect with the mood of the thing) has been Rains of Castamere, much to my surprise.

This book has been a lot of fun to write so far - despite the usual sporadic episodes of ugly emo weeping - which surprised me because usually when you've been desperately looking forward to writing something for ages it turns out to be a complete b*st*rd (ie., Shadows on the Moon). But it's definitely a strange book. Not just strange in terms of content, but in the way it's unfolded for me. I'll probably talk more about that when I've finished this baby and sent it off to Wonder Editor and Super Agent.

Read you later, lovelies!

Thursday, 12 March 2015


Happy Thursday, oh darling duckies! Just a quick post today to share two items.

The first is a link to my Wednesday post on the Author Allsorts about how to write a great opening. Check it out if that's your thing.

The second, of course, is the names of the winners for #Zolahpalooza. My thanks to everyone who entered, commented, and spread the word - you're all my precccioussesss.

Our prizes were as follows: Two US prize packs which will each contain US hardbacks of THE NAME OF THE BLADE and the US ARCS of DARKNESS HIDDEN. These will, of course, be signed - and dedicated, if requested. Also signed bookplates and other mysterious goodies. The international prize pack will have UK paperbacks of both books, also signed and dedicated, as well as the same bookplates and swag. Basically, this stuff:

So who are the lucky winners? Drumroll please!










a Rafflecopter giveaway I have your email addresses and I'll be contacting you really soon to get the postal addresses where you would like your prizes shipped, and your dedication requests. Assuming I get them by Saturday the prize packs will be posted then. If not, I'll send them out whenever I DO get them.

My deepest sympathies to those of you who entered but did not win - I know it's a bummer. But worry not! In upcoming months there will be an even bigger giveaway connected to the release of Frail Human Heart - I mean it, it's going to be stupidly megahuge, so you have a decent chance of winning then if you didn't now.

That's all for this week, Dear Readers. Back with you next week, probably posting a snippet from #BaBBook and my writing playlist (if nothing else comes up between now and then). Have a lovely weekend!
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