Category Archives: #am writing (and all things writing related)

The Moonlight Dreamers series – Guest post by author Siobhan Curham


The Moonlight Dreamers and its sequel Tell it to the Moon follow four girls: Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose on their quest to follow their dreams and find themselves. I really enjoyed these tales of friendship and, for me, they were reminiscent of films I love such as Now and Then, and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Many friendship stories follow girls who grow up together, or go to school together but it was refreshing to see that there is friendship outside these confines. These were both really charming and enjoyable stories and perfect reads for feel good vibes. 

I have been lucky enough to interview author Siobhan Curham and her four characters to find out a little more about how the Dreamers came about and where they are shooting for next. 

Character Qs

Amber 

How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers Club?

I was really tired of being picked on by the numbskulls in school for being different. Just because I have two dads, who happen to be gay, and just because I like to dress in vintage men’s clothes, it doesn’t mean I deserve to be picked on. I don’t understand why being different is seen as such a bad thing. Being the same as everyone else is so boring. I came up with the idea for starting a secret society called The Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to meet other people who didn’t want to fit in; other people who craved excitement and adventure. And I was inspired to do so by my hero, Oscar Wilde.

Why do you like Oscar Wilde so much?

Because he was proud of being different. He came out at a time when it was really hard to be openly gay – he even went to jail because of his sexuality. He lived life on his terms and he was a great writer. I have a collection of his quotes that I always use for inspiration. It’s impossible to pick a favourite one, but one of my favourites is this: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’
Maali

How are belonging to The Moonlight Dreamers and belonging to a religion comparable and different? 

Being a Moonlight Dreamer and being Hindu both make me feel happier and more secure in myself and my life. Both of them bring me loads of joy. They’re different in that my faith feels like a more personal thing, something I often do on my own – either meditating or praying to my favourite goddesses. And the Moonlight Dreamers is a more of a social thing – and usually way more noisy – especially when Rose gets going! I feel so blessed that I’ve been given such awesome friends.

Why is the idea of finding a soulmate so important to you? 

I’ve always been a true romantic. Even when I was a little girl, I loved making up stories in my head about marrying a prince and living happily ever after. I love the idea that everyone has a soul mate out there waiting to be found by them. The trouble is, when I feel like I’ve found mine I turn into a jabbering wreck! I wish I could be as confident as Rose or Sky – or just not care about love, like Amber. But sadly, I’m a stumbling, stammering disaster area when it comes to boys I like! I say and do the most embarrassing things. I’m starting to worry that even if I did meet my soulmate I’d make him run away – or die laughing … and not in a good way!

Sky 

If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like? 

After my mum died, I really wished I had a sister – or brother – who knew exactly what I was going through and could share the pain. Whenever I imagined having a sister I’d imagine someone quite like me – like, into poetry and nature and travelling and stuff. But then I got Rose as a step-sister and that blew all my imaginings out of the water. When I first met Rose I hated her so much I was really glad I’d been born an only child! It’s so funny now, thinking of how much I hated her back then. Now I’m a Moonlight Dreamer it feels like I’ve got three sisters – and I wouldn’t change them for anything.

What did you really think when you saw the invite to The Moonlight Dreamers Club? 

I was a little bit weirded out by it but thankfully I was so intrigued I replied anyway. And I really liked the look of the girl in the vintage store who put the invite in my bag. She really intrigued me. It’s so weird thinking that she’s now one of my best friends! That was a really important lesson for me – that if something seems weird or scary but it makes you a bit excited too, you should go for it. My life has changed so much for the better since replying to that invite.

Rose 

If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like?

I have three sisters. My Moonlight Dreamers are my soul sisters – the best kind of sisters. The kind you’d tell anything to and even lay down your life for. And I’d lay down my life for all of them, no question – even though Sky’s been pissing me off a bit lately, since she’s found true lurrrve. 

What does The Moonlight Dreamers club mean to you? 

Everything. My girls keep me sane – something my parents on their Planet Celebrity, definitely do not!

Author Qs

Siobhan

How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers?

I love encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their dreams as this was something I really struggled with when I was a teen. I gave up on my writing dream and dropped out of uni because – coming from a poor family on a council estate – I didn’t think I had what it took to make it in the middle class world of writing. Thankfully, I found the confidence to overcome my doubts and fears and now I want to stop other people from making the mistakes I did. I created the Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to show how hard it can be to navigate your journey into adulthood but, with the help of friends, a hero like Oscar Wilde and some self belief, anything is possible. In the second book, Tell it to the Moon, I really put the characters to the test because it was equally important for me to show how sometimes dreams don’t come true – but if you keep the faith, something even better might happen. This is exactly how it’s been for me in my life. Disappointments, difficulties and unachieved dreams have always led to bigger and better things.

What’s more important – Dreams or Belonging? 

What a great question! Would it be cheating to say, they’re both equally important? It’s so important to have a sense of belonging – in your own skin and in the world – but sometimes, when that’s missing, a dream can be what saves you and ultimately leads to that feeling of belonging. I think maybe they go hand in hand.

What’s next for the girls? 

I would love to write a final book about them when they’re seventeen / eighteen. I’ve loosely sketched the idea out in my mind – Amber on an Oscar Wilde inspired gap year, Sky going off to uni, Maali in her final year at school and still, no doubt, searching for her soul mate, Rose blazing an entrepreneurial trail and causing a riot somewhere. It would be great to see the Moonlight Dreamers start to make their way out into the world as adults. I’m also considering writing a screen adaptation because so many readers have told me that they’d love to see it filmed … and offering to help with the casting! I’d love that too – it would be a dream come true.

 

Huge thanks  to Siobhan and the Dreamers. Count me in the ‘would love to see the books filmed’ camp too. Thanks to Katarina from Walker for sending me Tell it to the Moon (which publishes this month). Moonlight Dreamers had already called to me and was already on my TBR pile. Opinions are, as ever, my own. Have you read the books? Tell me what you think? 

 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon – character and author interview

Synopsis 

“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.” 

“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”

“You want to bet?”

When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down. 

Character Interviews 

 

Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?

 

Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.

 

ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.

 

Describe your style.

 

Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.

 

ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.

 

What do you admire most about the other?

 

Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.

 

ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?

 

Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.  

 

ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.


Author Interview 

Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?

 

I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.

 

Describe your writing style.

 

That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.

 

How many ways of being a girl do you have?

 

I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.


What I thought? 

This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.

I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed. 

MTOWTBAG is out now. 

I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago. 


Huge thanks to Dyan for answering the questions and channelling Loretta and Zizi again and to Kirsten Cozens at Walker Books for the review copy. Opinions on the book are as ever are entirely mine. 

Spellbound – Guide to the Online Book Community 

Just like writing, reading can feel like a very solitary experience. If you are anything like me, when you get to the end of a book, you probably have all sorts of thoughts and feelings that you want to discuss with someone. Short of persuading all of your friends to read the book where do you go? 
Online of course


Today I am Talbot Health School in Bournemouth talking at their Spellbound Literature Convention about the online book community. 


Book Blogging – WordPress, Blogger

Book Vlogging – YouTube

Bookish Images – Instagram using the #bookstagram 

Book Reviews – Goodreads and Litsy

Chats and Groups – Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads 
A few examples of teen bloggers 

I curated a small list of YA bloggers who are teens that you can follow on twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/kirstyes/lists/uk-teen-book-bloggers

The Mile Long Bookshelf aka Amber Kirk-Ford is a book blogger and vlogger who has written for the Guardian and Penguin Books Blog. 

https://youtu.be/OSpWiBrMj9E
Queen of Contemporary/@LucyTheReader AKA Lucy Powrie is also a book blogger and vlogger who set up the hugely successful twitter chat using the hashtag #ukyachat 

http://queenofcontemporary.com/ukyachat
How to be a good blogger by Jenny in Neverland. This popped up on my twitter timeline this morning and I had to share because it just says what I wanted to say. 

https://t.co/LwDRphtYl4?amp=1
How to review 
Goodreads Reviews

https://www.goodreads.com/review/guidelines
Uses a 5 star rating system

1 star – didn’t like it 

2 stars – it was ok

3 stars – liked it

4 stars – really liked it 

5 stars – it was amazing 
But. Everyone uses it differently and you can create your own rating system on your blog. Or you don’t have to rate at all. I use half stars and I generally round down not up.

Find your own style
Activity – post it note review 

Activity – Instagram pictures 

Activity – Features and Challenges 

Side note about safety

Note most online forums require you to be 13 to use. 

Remember that anything you say online can always be found. 

Be cautious – occasionally people aren’t who they say they are. If you ever arrange to meet with someone who you have met online don’t go alone and tell someone. 
Side note about your TBR and budget

Joining the online book community will exponentially increase the size of your TBR piles and see you wanting to spend more money than you have. Join a library. Budget. Ask for Bookish goodies for gifts. 
If you do prefer to meet up with people in real life make sure to follow your favourite bookshops and check out events they might host. Waterstones will be hosting a whole range of YA author events over the summer. 
Every summer there is now a Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) as part of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC). This year it runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July and there will be around 90 authors in attendance. There are author panels, signings, workshops, stands, cosplay and just generally hanging around with fellow book worms. 
Activity – Q&A e.g. Picking a platform, setting up a blog, interacting with authors and others, ARCs etc. 

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