Friday, 28 October 2016

An interview with Cathy Cassidy!

 Recently I had the incredible opportunity to interview one of my favourite childhood authors and as it would be simply criminal not to share it with you, share it with you is exactly what I've done! 
Cathy Cassidy is a children's author of 23 books, previous agony aunt for Shout and Jackie magazine as well as being vegetarian of 30 years! What I like the most about Cathy is that she does not deem herself  'superior' to her readers and took the time to send me this lengthy reply the same day as we arranged our interview!
1. Is there a certain book you’ve read that has changed your perspective on the world? A few! One was The catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, an American book written in the 50s... in some ways, one of the first YA books perhaps. It was so direct, so emotional and tackled real-life issues and troubles from the viewpoint of a teenage boy. I loved it. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath had a strong impact also, and then Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian, which showed me that a children's book could handle very serious issues in a powerful yet redeeming way. 2. Do you believe in writer’s block? Depends what you mean by 'believe'! We all experience it, that lack of inspiration or a lack of certainty about how to handle a tricky bit in the plot... but giving in to it? Not happening. No other career path is allowed to give in to 'block' so why should an author? Daydream or try doing doing something totally different until you work out how to iron out the plot problem, but keep writing... better to do something than to give in and find yourself genuinely stuck.

3. Do you think that it’s important for public libraries to remain open to all universally? Yes, totally. As a child, all my books came from libraries... without them I could never have read so widely nor dreamed so big. Without them I would not be a writer today, no question of that. We imagine we've come a long way and that technology has replaced the need for libraries, but many children today live in poverty and libraries are a lifeline for them. Everyone should have access to books and learning, and to the magic of stories. And even if you do have money to buy books, who can buy enough to satisfy an avid reader? Free public libraries are one of the great achievements of a civilised country, yet the UK government is closing them and slamming the doors of opportunity on the writers and creatives of the future. Shameful. 4. When did you first decide that English was a subject you wanted to pursue as a career? I didn't! I didn't like English Lit at school as I liked to have my own responses and reactions to novels, plays and poetry rather than be told what to think. Analysing those awesome books and poems ruined their magic for me. Also, I didn't see how a degree in English Lit would help me to be a writer... and there were no degrees in Creative Writing back then. I took a degree in illustration, and loved every minute... art school was a perfect place for me to be as creative and off beat as I wanted. I'd already had my first short story published by that point, and I went on writing all through art college... art and writing were equally important to me.
5. What does a typical day in the life of Cathy Cassidy look like? I get up quite early - seven-ish - and check through emails, check the FB fanpage, twitter and Insta. I have breakfast, walk the dogs and the sit down to write. If a book is going well, I will break off for dinner and write again till evening. Most evenings are spent doing emails etc, but there never seems to be enough time for everything that needs to be done! Because I work for myself, I have the option to be flexible and I can take a random day off (unless a deadline is looming). When I'm on tour, things are very different, and I may be away from home for a week or a fortnight at a time, living out of suitcase and criss-crossing the country by train, talking to 400 kids in a school in the morning and the same amount in a different school, different town, in the afternoon. 6. What’s your opinion on eBooks as opposed to traditional paper books? I am not a fan of e-books... reading on screen just feels like work to me! I love the feel of a book and the cover design is important to me too. I spend so long at my laptop writing that the very last thing I want to do is read from it, or from a tablet. Nope, not for me.
7. Before gaining fame as a writer, did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I often used pseudonyms when writing for teen mags. Often I had two short stories in the same issue, or an illustration and a story... so it looked better if I used different names! Interestingly, Cassidy is not my married name, so even now I can pass under the radar if I use my married name! 8. Is there one book that you believe everybody should read at least once? Generally, no... we are all so very different I think we find our own passions and favourite genres when it comes to reading. I do wish every child could read a book called The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce, about immigrant children who vanish unexpectedly from a class. It shows so perfectly that migrants are human beings just like us, that we should never turn our faces away from their plight. Actually, I'd quite like the government to read that book, too!

9. Do you read reviews on your works? How do you deal with positive/negative responses? I don't go looking for reviews... and I'm lucky, as I honestly haven't seen many bad ones. My readers tell me what they think, and they are the people who matter most... if they're happy, I'm happy. 10. Is there one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring young writers? Write - in your own time, outside of school. Write about what you care about, because the passion will shine through, and don't listen if others tell you it's a waste of time dreaming of a career as an author. Believe in what you are doing, and work your socks off to make the dream happen.
Once again, thank you very much for the fab opportunity.
Health and Happiness, 
Marti xxx

Friday, 21 October 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I am honestly SO excited for this post purely for trivial reasons such as the fact that I haven't done a book review in a few months and the fact that I have truly committed to the series. Anyhow, I finished reading this book in the first week of October and really fell in love with the story line and the children and decided to share my thoughts with you lovely lot!

In  a nutshell, this book is the story of 16 year olJacob Portman and the event that changed his life forever, cliché I know but give it a chance. The first few chapters of the book focus on the relationship between Jacob and his Grandpa Abe, who grew up in an orphanage for his entire childhood and fought in the war. Growing up, Jacobs's grandpa would tell him fantastic stories about a girl that could fly, a boy who was invisible, 'the bird' who kept them safe from the monsters and wonderful Emma who could start a fire with her hands. Jacob adores his grandfather but realises as he grows up that these stories are nothing but that, 'stories'. 

When Jacob is merely fifteen, Grandpa Abe starts to obsess over these monsters which Jacob's dad quickly writes off as dementia. What a terrible mistake. When Jacob comes home early from work (to be honest, anything is better that stacking adult diapers), he finds his grandpa unconscious and bleeding terribly in the garden. Grandpa Portman dies in Jacob's arms, but not without spluttering a few words with his last breath. Here's a few for you to remember Alaska"'Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940.' I'll leave you with that thought and not include any spoilers. 

As anyone who has both seen the movie adaptation that hit the screens a few weeks ago will know, there are a huge amount of details that have either been changed or cut out completely in the process of constructing this film. 

For a start, Emma's peculiarity is switched with Olive's. I don't in any way think that this is a negative thing though and I mean, being able to fly is just as awesome as being able to make fire right? In the film, we first meet Emma as she introduces the home and peculiar children in wait..are those lead boots? Like I said, it's interesting to see Tim Burton's views on what the work of Ransom Riggs looks like to him and I understand why he thought it might be necessary. Also, I don't think that the music play list did much justice for this film. It just didn't seem to fit very well which was a shame because the music in the trailer is so pretty. I absolutely loved watching Eva Green as Miss Peregrine and all of the children were amazing.  Although some scenes were in my opinion, over animated and far fetched (don't even get me started on the Blackpool scene), I do truly recommend giving it a watch.

Until next time, health and happiness,
Marti xxx

Friday, 7 October 2016

A few of my favourite things about Autumn

Books that make you scared
The beautiful array of colours you can only describe as 'October'
The weather being gently crisp though not yet icy
Growing a pumpkin and knowing it's yours
Hearing the patter of rain whilst safely indoors
Long, evening walks before returning to a hot water bottle in bed 
Tartan and plaid finally making an appearance
Candles that spice the whole room with warmth
Pine cones, acorns and conkers everywhere
Fluffy dressing gowns and even fluffier socks
Yummy crumbles, strudel, pies and soup
The crunch of leaves under your boots 
Bubble baths and steaming showers finally being appreciated
Fireworks and bonfires that light up the bleak night 
The potent yet phenomenal scent of Lush at Halloween
Writing letters under lamplight
And finally, a hearty mug of tea anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

Health and happiness, 
Marti xx