Category Archives: #am writing (and all things writing related)
Sky in the Deep had its US release last year and was all over bookstagram so when I was offered the chance to read and review ready for its U.K. release tomorrow, 26th March 2019, I jumped at it. I’m so happy to be kicking off the tour along with Sammy Shelf.
Please find below a Q&A with Eelyn and Fiske the two main protagonists, a hint of what’s to come with book two and an excerpt plus a mini review from me.
Please let me know below if you know of any Eelyn and Fiske fanart. I NEED it!!!
Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings – and all heart!
Eelyn is a seventeen-year-old warrior, trained to fight fiercely alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, god -decreed rivalry against the Riki clan, her life is brutal but uncomplicated. Until the day she witnesses the impossible on the battlefield – her brother, fighting alongside the enemy – the brother she watched die five years ago… Shocked by the sudden realisation that her brother may be alive, Eelyn loses her focus and is captured by the opposing clan. Now, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbour is an enemy, and every battle scar they wear is possibly one she herself delivered. But when a ruthless clan who are settling in the valley raids the Riki village, Eelyn’s desperation to escape is heightened when it’s rumoured that her beloved Aska clan have been decimated by the same horde.
She is given no choice. She must put her faith in Fiske, her brother’s friend who sought to kill her the day she was captured. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and find a way to forgive her brother while daring to put her trust in the people she has been taught to hate and who she has spent her entire life killing.
About the Author
ADRIENNE YOUNG is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee.
Sky in the Deep is her debut novel
What does Sigr mean to you?
Sigr is the north star of our people.
What is your favourite memory of your brother Iri?
Training together for our first fighting season as fighting mates paired for battle. I’d spent my entire life looking up to Iri and it was the first time I really felt like his equal and also the first time I thought maybe he saw me as one.
Complete the phrase – The Riki are:
… all the parts of me I didn’t know.
Fiske in three words
Strong. Silent. Sure.
What does Thora mean to you?
Thora is fury and fire but also the mother and caretaker of our people.
Favourite childhood memory?
The first time my little brother Halvard pulled a fish from the ice on his own.
Complete the phrase – The Aska are:
… the greatest threat to everything I love.
Eelyn in three words
Question for Adrienne
What should we expect from the companion novel The Girl the Sea Gave Back?
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a new standalone that takes place ten years after Sky in the Deep. It follows the story of Halvard when he is eighteen years old. We will see a lot more of who he is and his memories of growing up on the mountain with Fiske as his father figure and we will also meet a new clan who will threaten the peace they’ve found.
Extract from Sky in the Deep – The Ghost
I thought of my father. His soil-stained hands. His deep, booming voice. And my home. The fire flickering in the dark. The frost on the glade in the mornings.
I stood, pressing my fingers into the hot wound at my arm and saying Sigr’s name under my breath, asking him to accept me. To welcome me. To watch over my father. “Vegr yfir fjor,” I whispered.
He slowed, watching my lips move.
The furs beneath his armor vest blew in the damp breeze, pushing up around his angled jaw. He blinked, pressing his mouth into a straight line as he took the last steps toward me and I didn’t run. I wasn’t going to be brought down by a blade in my back.
The steel gleamed as he pulled the sword up over his head, ready to bring it back down, and I closed my eyes. I breathed. I could see the reflection of the gray sky on the fjord. The willow bloomed on the hillside. The wind wove through my hair. I listened to the sound of my clansmen raging. Fighting in the distance.
“Fiske!” A deep, strangled voice pierced through the fog, finding me, and my eyes popped open.
The Riki before me froze, his eyes darting to the side where the voice was coming toward us.
“No!” A tangle of wild, fair hair barreled into him, knocking his sword to the ground. “Fiske, don’t.” He took hold of the man’s armor vest, holding him in place. “Don’t.”
Something twisted in my mind, the blood in my veins slowing, my heart stopping.
“What are you doing?” The Riki wrenched free, picking his sword back up off the ground and driving past him, coming for me.
The man turned, throwing his arms around the Rikiand swinging him back.
And that’s when I saw it—his face.
And I was frozen. I was the ice on the river. The snow clinging onto the mountainside.
“Iri.” It was the ghost of a word on my breath.
They stopped struggling, both looking up at me with wide eyes, and it dove deeper within me. What I was seeing. Who I was seeing.
What I Thought
For me this book lived up to the hype. It was a slightly slow burn but I suddenly found myself totally invested in the lives of these characters.
The violence is brutal – Vikings people – not namby pamby killers but chop off their heads and stick them with an axe types. I loved this setting and its grit made a great change to the fantasy worlds I usually read.
This is Eelyn and Fiske’s story and how they grow to see past their differences and respect each other’s culture. A timely narrative, and an imperfectly perfect pair.
A huge thank you to Sarah at Titan for gifting me the copy of the book in preparation for this post, and of course to Adrienne and her characters for their replies.
I’m pleased to be hosting a guest post from author Lindsay Littleson today. Her newest middle grade novel Guardians of the Wild Unicorns was released on 21st February. When I read the synopsis I was struck by the conservation angle that the book was taking. With a number of animals recently confirmed as extinct, Japan’s whaling, production of palm oil threatening orangutan habitats, this is a timely topic.
Guardians of the Wild Unicorns explores themes of friendship, adventure and conservation. The story emphasises the importance of caring for wildlife, and is particularly relevant for today’s world, when we are facing a huge variety of environmental challenges, from the large scale ecological disaster that is the deforestation of the Amazon, to the woodland habitat loss suffered by the critically endangered Scottish wildcat.
In Guardians of the Wild Unicorns, Whindfall Forest is the refuge of Scotland’s last remaining herd of unicorns. The two protagonists, Lewis and Rhona, must endeavour to keep the herd safe from a gamekeeper who has hatched an evil plan to capture and kill the unicorns for their beautiful spiralled horns. Comparisons are made in the novel to the poaching of elephants for their tusks and of rhinos for their horns. Like the unicorns in the story, rhinos are targeted by poachers because some people mistakenly believe that the horns cure ailments and are willing to pay huge sums.
Her brain filled with images she’d glimpsed on television: heaps of tusks, white as bone, long as spears; muddied elephant corpses buzzing with flies; tiny orphaned calves; blank-eyed poachers with guns slung over their shoulders. When terrible stuff like that came on the news, Mum tended to flick channels, back to the safety of celebrity quiz shows or cooking programmes, where ugly, tragic real life wasn’t allowed to intrude. And now animal poaching had come here, to this beautiful Highland moor.
My unicorns might be wild and dangerous, with horns like spears, but no animal is a match for armed poachers. Endangered animals need the help of humans who are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect them. To save the unicorns, my protagonists have to be both courageous and determined, but I wanted them to be as real as my setting. Neither Rhona nor Lewis would describe themselves as brave, but the definition of courage in the Oxford Dictionary is ‘the ability to do something that frightens one’ and both children are willing to put themselves in danger to save Scotland’s last herd of wild unicorns.
Thanks Lindsay – this sounds like an excellent story which will be both thrilling and educational. I hope there will be plenty of children – and adults – inspired by this post to take action to help endangered species.
Lewis is cold, wet and miserable on his school residential trip in the Highlands of Scotland. The last thing he expects to see is a mythical creature galloping across the bleak moorland. Unicorns aren’t real… are they?
Lewis and his best friend Rhona find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure to save the world’s last herd of wild unicorns. Fighting against dark forces, battling the wild landscape, and harnessing ancient magic, can they rescue the legendary creatures in time?
Lindsay Littleson is a primary school teacher in Renfrewshire, Scotland. After taking up writing for children in early 2014, she won the Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing for children with her first children’s novel, The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean.
Thank you to Kirsten at Floris Books/Discover Kelpies who #gifted me a copy of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns which I’m hoping to read and review very soon.
So pleased to welcome Geek Girl author Holly Smale back to the blog today to talk about the Soundtrack that helped her write the first book in her brand new series which released yesterday.
SOUNDTRACK FOR HAPPY GIRL LUCKY
I always write to music, and every time I start a new book I usually have a handful of songs I turn to when I need to feel in the right mood, or get the right tone, or just generally have to click back into the mindset of the character I’m writing as. Sometimes they’re lyrically accurate, but they’re often more of a feeling: something that encapsulates how it feels to be my protagonist.
Happy Girl Lucky is a different kind of book to Geek Girl, and Hope is a very different girl to Harriet; she needed a new kind of soundtrack. She’s a very positive, confident, easy-going and high-energy girl, and the music I listened to needed to fit that: far less classical than with Geek Girl, with a lot more attitude.
Here’s a list of the songs I turned to again and again. Songs I think Hope would probably have on her iPod. Ironically, there’s quite a big cross-over between my Happy Girl Lucky playlist and my personal running playlist. In both cases, I need to feel uplifted, motivated and positive: maybe a little bit sassy and kick-ass.
All I Do Is Win – DJ Khaled
I love this track – it’s so amped and fearless. There’s so much exuberant confidence, so much go go go. I feel like Hope would be listening to this in her room to motivate her; she’d probably have her own little dance for it.
Don’t Delete The Kisses – Wolf Alice
Another personal favourite. This is so sweet, so teenage and so perfectly encapsulates a huge, joyful crush. With – I think – a perfect undercurrent of anxiety and fear that you won’t get what you want.
Waiting For A Star To Fall – Boy Meets Girl
A straight-down-the-line love song, and one I used to dance round the living room to as a child in the 80s. It’s so buoyant, so happy, so playfully romantic. I feel like Hope would appreciate the 80s vibe immensely, and whenever I need a shot of sweet hopefulness I stick this one on.
Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie
Bit of a change with some solid emo, but for someone in a long distance relationship between the UK and America, this feels yearning and pretty fitting. As happy as Hope usually is, there are moments in the book where she is genuinely struggling with sadness and I needed to find music to fit that.
Soda – The Cinematic Orchestra
Again, while Hope is generally very upbeat there are moments where she needs to be quiet, thoughtful, more introverted. This is one of my favourites – I’ve taken it around the world with me, on various road-trips through India and Asia – so it helps me tap into that. It really is a great one for beautiful landscapes.
Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
Not going to lie: this is one of my favourite running tracks of all time, and it’s also one I turned to over and over again for Hope. It has a similar, fast rhythm to the others – it’s the right tempo for Hope – but it also has a beautiful optimism to the lyrics.
Where No-one Goes – JONSI
Okay, this is famously the soundtrack to How To Train Your Dragon. But I’ve been a fan of Jonsi for nearly 20 years – he was in one of my favourite bands, Sigur Ros – and this is so beautifully hopeful, so upbeat, so sweet, so brave, so free-ing. In my mind, this is where the book ends up: this is so perfect for the mind-set Hope ultimately reaches. If I have to choose one song for Happy Girl Lucky, it’s this one. It’ll always be the one that reminds me of Hope.
Huge thanks to Holly for sharing her HGL playlist inspired by its point of view character Hope. Lots of tracks I wasn’t familiar with on there. I’ve created a YouTube playlist if you want to listen to it before or after reading Happy Girl Lucky. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzXeNd36_QuQbSGGrRfDui23h-nm85Q6f
Each book in the Valentines series will focus on a different member of Hope’s family and I’m sure their playlists will all be very different.
Do come back tomorrow for my review of Happy Girl Lucky.