Blog Tour · General

Guest Post: Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-Offs by Sarah Forbes.

I’m thrilled today to be welcoming Sarah Forbes, author of the excellent Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs, to the blog as the last stop on her tour. When I was asked what I would like Sarah to write about for me I knew instantly, the book is filled with wonderfully awful characters so I wanted to hear more about them and how Sarah created them.
Elspeth Hart cover

Writing baddies:
The awful characters in Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs

I don’t know about you, but I love a good villain. Sometimes we love rooting for a protagonist who so obviously deserves to have things work out for them. Other times it’s sheer joy to lounge about reading stories about vile people doing things we would never dream of doing.

I was channel-surfing one evening and saw a remake of Fame the movie on TV. Watching it, I thought about how, as a quiet person, that would be my worst nightmare – being in a school where performing all the time was key to success. That might have sparked off some ideas for the awful show-offs in the school where Elspeth’s story is set! I wanted to have an incredibly vain ringleader character (Tatiana Firensky) and for her to have a couple of sidekicks (dim-witted Octavia Ornamento and gymnastic star Esmerelda Higginsbot). What was really fun for me was seeing how James Brown, the illustrator, interpreted my character descriptions when I’d finished writing the story. He absolutely nailed it and often draws little extra details that I’d never have thought of, really making the books come alive.

The teachers in the book area bit awful too: there’s Madame Chi-chi, who used to star in Italian soap operas and has an awful temper, Madame Stringy, who is small and fragile and cries easily, and Professor Bombast, who isn’t a professor at all but just bought a certificate off the internet saying he was. I think the idea of things (and people) being fake is a driving force in quite a lot of the story!

As for the REALLY awful characters, Miss Crabb and Gladys Goulash: I think they just seemed to appear in my mind as soon as I thought about having evil dinner ladies as the baddies in the book. They’re pretty disgusting – always burping, farting, scratching their armpits or putting slugs and cockroaches in the school dinners. I have to admit, though, they are really fun to write!

One thing I’ve learned from writing illustrated children’s books is just how useful it is to have a clear idea of how your characters look and move around. My top tip for anyone writing young fiction would be to write a really detailed character brief for each of your characters. Even if you’re not working with an illustrator, it can really help to know exactly what your characters look like, as you plot their adventures!

Thanks so much for having me on the blog! x

Book News

Cover Reveal: A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey.

Towards the end of 2014 I was very excited to receive a lovely package from Stripes Publishing. When I opened the padded envelope I found a sealed letter and carefully wrapped book:

IMG_2582

When I could finally bring myself to unwrap the book I found it was A Whisper of Wolves the debut novel, and first in a series of four, from Kris Humphrey:

Do you feel it? she asked. Alice reached out with her Whisperer sense. There was a strange presence in the trees. It rushed towards her, taking on a sickening intensity, as if the air itself was tainted by a skin of oil. Alice drew back, alarmed and afraid.

The demons are close, said Storm…

A raven. A white feather. It can only mean one thing… It’s time to enter the fantasy world of Meridina and to witness the Whisperers’ banishment of the demonic Narlaw.

This coming March sees the publication of A Whisper of Wolves, the first title in a dramatic new 4-part series, Guardians of the Wild, by exciting debut author Kris Humphrey.

After many years of peace in the kingdom of Meridina, rumours are spreading of a planned invasion – could the Narlaw be returning from the Darklands? It is up to the Whisperers and their animal companions to defend Meridina, protect Princess Ona and stop the Narlaw from destroying their world.

When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, 12 year old Alice, a novice Whisperer, suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village, and protect the entire balance of the natural world. The Narlaw are on the attack and it’s up to the Whisperers to stop them…

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers involved in revealing the cover so without further ado here it is.

A Whisper of Wolves cover

I really like this colour. I think the background colour is a really interesting choice – I haven’t seen any other books that I can think of with covers this colour which makes it quite distinctive. I think it works really well with the bold silhouette illustration – I’m already wondering what the subsequent book covers will look like and imagining how a set of four might work together.

What do you think of this cover? Do you like the sound of the book?

Guardians of the Wild: A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey will be published in paperback by Stripes Publishing on 2nd March 2015