Monday, 28 February 2011

The tour begins! Hollywoodland

My bodyclock is telling me it's lunchtime but the hotel clock says 4.30am. Uurgh.
So, arrived in LA yesterday and tried to get down to the Oscars, just to cheer on Christian Bale. Obviously my presence was just enough to tip the scales and HUZZAH! A well deserved Oscar, methinks.
Couple of things I try and do when abroad.
1. Walk about a bit. I love exploring cities by foot and, having looked at the map, thought I could stroll down to the Kodak Theatre and join the heaving crowds. But Hollywood Blvd is INCREDIBLY LONG so by the time I got there, everyone had gone in. By the time I got back I'd missed Christian's acceptance speech. Damn it! However, first impressions? I've never met such glamourous hotel staff. I'm assuming everyone here is an actor between jobs but the concierge of the hotel could have been a catwalk model and the guy at the desk was so good-looking thoughts of Christian momentarily vanished from my mind. Suffice it to say I decided to stay away from the hotel pool, given the six-packs on display.
Later today I meet some people (so will try and get some sleep in) then tonight I'm flying to Chicago which is like almost all the way back across the continent. Oh joy.
Really excited about finally meeting Rachel Hawkins. I'll find out if what they say aboout her is really true. I hope not. I feel terribly intimidated by talented writers.
The photo above is the venue for the Vanity Fair party, which is apparently THE post-Oscar party party to go to. It's the first time I've seen traffic attendents in ballgowns.
The plan is the blog will serve as a travel/tour diary of sorts and a way of monitoring sleep deprevation as we skip from time zone to time zone.
Next blog should be from Chicago.
Have a good (rest of the) night.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Would never have happened if I'd stayed in the day job

Well, it wouldn't. No matter how good an engineer I was, no matter what I'd designed or built, I would not have got a meeting in Hollywood.
A few weeks ago I contacted my film agent. There's someone he'd like me to meet. This person is incredibly busy BUT since I was in the US, maybe, just maybe, a meeting could be arranged, if I was up to it.
Like I was going to say no.
So, since I have NOTHING ELSE TO ADD (that will hopefully be all post-meeting), we'll play the 'who'd you like to play Billi/Arthur/Kay etc' game.
Billi - well, first choice would have to be Leslie Conor, who's Billi on the book covers. Next would be Jessica, back when she was a brunette.
Arthur- Has to be James Purefoy. I know it should have gone to Christian Bale but James has been doing a lot of sword-work recently and, God-dammit, is playing a Templar in his next movie. Sorted.
Micheal- Aiden Turner from Being Human. Oh Lord, he's gorgeous and has a very definate dark side. Being Human, how TV should be.
Ivan- We're going for Ben Barnes. He was excellent in Dorian Gray, aristocratic, cruel and elegant. Perfect for my Russian prince.
Kay is a younger Paul Bettany. He's doing quite a lot of supernatural stuff right now and recently played the Archangel Michael in Legion.
Gwaine would be Michael Rooker, out of the Walking Dead. Grim, gritty, grey and a total nutter. We like.
It's become quite sureal, all this. I don't quite know what to make of it. I'm having breakfats and then think, 'Bloody hell, I'm going to Hollywood next week' but most of my energy is sorting out who's collecting the kids from school while I'm gone. However, I will be ironing my shirts, now that's something that happens all to rarely in this household.
The US tour with Rachel Hawkins begins next week. I'll keep you updated on the travels and tribulations throughout. If you're around, do pop by and say 'hello'. Bring pie if you can. And who knows, I may have something to announce while I'm there.
Oh, gosh, I DO have something else to announce! Just waiting on some people. It's all good, folks!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Kiss Me, Kill Me, Part 7 (what, already?)

White Cat by Holly Black.
Gangsters. Gangsters with magical powers. It’s one of those ‘slap head and why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ sort of ideas.
White Cat is about the curse workers. It’s set in a world like ours but one where magic is established, well known and feared. Unlike a lot of paranormal fiction where all the magic stuff happens behind the scenes and the greater public live their daily lives completely ignorant of the vampires, werewolves and what-nots living amongst them here the magicians (curse workers) are a part of society, even if it’s the criminal part. It that sense White Cat is similar to Tru Blood, the vampire series about the vampire world attempts to integrate with the normal, mundane world.
Poor Cassel Sharpe. His mother and both his brothers are cruse workers. His mother can manipulate emotions, his brother Philip is able to inflict serious physical damage with the lightest touch and his other brother, Barron, can alter memories. Cassel’s grandfather was a death worker. You get the idea. Cassel is like the runt of the litter. The only non-worker in his family.
The set up is this. Workers are feared and mistrusted. Society has developed charms of protection and as workers can only do their work through the touch of their fingers everyone in society wears gloves. The practice of curse work is outlawed so it’s gone underground. It’s the criminal families that recruit and use curse workers, to be a worker is synonymous to being a member of the Mafia.
Cassel may not be a worker, but he’s every bit the criminal as the rest of his family. He’s a con-man. He’s always playing the angles. But he doesn’t realise the angles being played on him. White Cat is the slow unravelling of his life as he sees that he’s been the victim of a con far exceeding anything he’s played, and the story’s about his attempts to turn the tables on the other players.
Holly’s built a beautifully logical world. Australia has a higher percentage of workers because the original settlers were criminals. Prohibition of curse working in America brought on the rise and power of organised crime. Being a worker has its own risks, blowback, when you work some magic the magic works you too.
There are so many different types of curse worker. Death worker. Luck. Emotions. Memory and Transformation, the last the rarest and all but vanished. There are those trying to force workers to register and come out of hiding, there are those who fight for worker rights and stop the discrimination. There’s so much going on in the background that’s just as fascinating as Cassel’s own story.
Cassel’s a fascinating character and you certainly don’t envy his home life, every one of his family is trouble. He’s hiding his own dark secret, a murder he committed three years previously that his brothers covered up for him and it’s that murder that causes his life to fall apart in White Cat. Like the best gangster stories its about honour, betrayal, bloodshed and power.
After some trouble with her bodyguards I was able to get in touch with Holly Black. I must say, those Russian Mafia types have no sense of humour and I will be sending them my medical bill.

1. The world setting of White Cat is very elaborate. One of the clichés about urban fantasy is that despite events happening in the here and now, they never really affect the real world. White Cat’s very different. The workers are an integral part of society. People hire them for blessings, for beatings, to make sure business goes right for them or badly for their rivals. You establish that charms are very common since people need to defend themselves against being worked and everyone, but everyone, wears gloves. How much time and effort went into building the ground rules for your world?
H: First of all, thank you so much for your incredibly kind and thoughtful review. I am so glad you liked the book!
In answer to your question – I guess I spent quite a bit of time creating and tweaking the rules of the world. Because I had previously been writing books about faeries and had so much folklore to draw on, this was an opportunity to make up something very different. I wanted the magic to feel thematically tied to the crime element. And also, because the world is an “open fantasy” where everyone knows about magic, I wanted magic to impact the world. I think my favorite thing was figuring out that people wore gloves all the time – and then imagining the way that bare hands would become taboo.

2. One of the most fun aspects of Cassel is his elaborate cons, like trying to get the cat from the animal rescue. How much research did you do in this area?
H: Well, I am lucky to know lots of scammers, so that was helpful, especially in that scene. Also, I know some people who work in animal shelters, so I was able to talk over the scene with them.
I did a lot of research on cons in general and would heartily recommend a book called THE BIG CON. It breaks down the steps of many different classic cons and was invaluable. I also really loved a true crime book called SON OF A GRIFTER. Reading about a boy being brought up with an entirely different moral code (never go to the police; if you can steal it and don’t, you’re a sucker) was very instructive in thinking about Cassel.

3. There’s a very cool Russian vein running though this story. The lead gangster family is Russian, there’s a jewel said to have once belonged to Rasputin and the climax takes place in a restaurant called Koshchey, named after the fairy tale character. As a huge fan of Russian mythology I have to ask is this a theme through the books or are we going to see the more traditional Italian Mafia make an appearance?
H: Although we get to hear a little more about the Brennan family, the Zacharovs remain our primary connection to the world of organized crime in these books.

4. I love the idea of blowback. Can you tell us a bit about how this concept came about and what it is?
H: Thank you! Blowback is one of the ways that I limit the power of the curse magic in the books. Basically, a piece of each curse comes back at the person casting the curse. Every curse works the worker. To me, blowback feels like a natural consequence of magic, which is why I like it. I think magic should always have a cost.

5. Red Glove, the sequel, isn’t out for a while. Any minute clues you can give us? What have you planned for Cassel?
H: Without giving away too many spoilers for the first book, I think I can safely say that in RED GLOVE, Cassel has to decide what kind of person he wants to be. There are a lot of temptations in front of him – the biggest to do with love, all to do with power. As his grandfather tells him, “magic gives you lots of choices – most of them are bad.” He has to try and make the right choices.

Thanks to Holly for helping out on the KMKM tour. Phew, it's all feeling a little hectic. And there's still Melissa, Joy, Keirsten and Ally to come. If you've missed any, then click on the button somewhere on the right on this page. No, up a bit. Yes, there.
Okay, next Monday I will be in the US, touring around the wide open spaces, visiting schools and bookstores from California to Chicago and beyond! I will be the Robin to Rachel Hawkins' Batman, but that's because I've always thought I looked good in green shorts.
Hmm, I do have some additional stuff to tell you but forces beyond imaginings have told me to KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT. For now. Neveretheless, I can be bribed. If you do come along to any of the tour stops (see here), that would be great. If you bring pecan pie, that would be greater!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Do not try this at home!

I love TV. I think we're entering a golden age of tv viewing. So many channels but, at last, something worth watching. In fact, I'd like to be buried with my dvd collection. It'll keep me busy 'till Judgement Day.
So, I'd like to take you through my current list of fav programmes.
1. Mad Men. If you follow me on Twitter you'll know everything stops for Mad Men. The glamour, the awesomely, ridiculously good lookin' cast, Roger's quips and the drip drip drip storytelling. It's why TV was invented.
2. The Walking Dead. The series open with our protagonist blowing away a small child. Don't worry, the kid's a zombie, but still, kind of reminds me of something I once wrote...
Plus, I love a guy who can handle an axe. Left foot forward, leading with the right hand. A classic move. Zombie problem solved. I'm sure Arthur will be sending Rick an invite to join the Templars pretty damn soon.
3. Entourage. A change of pace and style. Hedonistic, sharp and with a deep, deep current of anxiety and fear. It's about a bunch of hangers on and their lead guy, Vincent. Handsome, charming, pretty shallow and that's probably for the best. Cool cool cool.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Kiss Me, Kill Me Part 6 with Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
This book is all about desire. Nora Grey is sixteen, living in Coldwater, Maine and her best friend is Vee.
What you need to know about Nora. Her dad was murdered last year and she and her mum live in an old house, outside of the suburbs, and one that attracts fog and misty weather like those spooky old houses in Stephen King country should.
Oh, and one more thing, her new biology partner is a mysterious, gorgeous looking new guy called Patch.
Now I’m not revealing any big mysterious secret by telling you Patch is a fallen angel. It’s on the front cover (surely one of the most iconic covers in YA).
Which brings me back to desire.
Nora’s smart. She knows what’s she needs and what she wants. She needs to avoid Patch at all costs. But she wants him, oh Lord, she wants him.
No-one radiates sexual tension like this couple. Believe me that their feelings for one another could power a medium sized city in the Western world. The book’s less about the supernatural element (the angel reveal is way way towards the end) but the conflicting emotions of Nora, the endless circling between the two of them and the dreadful danger Patch and his world represent. What I love about Becca’s writing is she makes you believe. She makes you believe Nora can be forceful, can be independent, can be her own woman BUT Patch is irresistible. Throughout the entire book Nora’s smart, careful and wary, but Patch is a force of nature, and that’s why you cannot but help be caught in the whirlwind.
Vee, the best, friend, is hilarious. She’s quick, a bit foolish and at the mercy of her teen hormones, but she’s honest. She’s the voice of honesty, of base desire. She as some of the best lines and has a love of Christian Bale, which puts her on the top of my Christmas card list automatically.
Reading the book really made me remember being sixteen. It’s not that different for boys, I tell you. I can barely remember it but I remember who was hot. Tensions are raised, clothes come off. Encounters are, er, encountered.
My favourite scene is the motel room. All the little bits leading up to it are subtly done and then there’s the OMG, there seems to be no going back after this night. It must rank as one of the steamiest scenes in YA paranormal fiction. In fact, I needed a cold shower right afterwards, just to calm down.
That’s covered the romance bit, now to the paranormal.
Patch is a fallen angel who basically lusted after a mortal. The legend is taken from the apocryphal Book of Enoch (a book that never made it into the official Bible) and concerns angels that mated with mortal women and their offspring were the Nephilim. It’s the same book I used for the plot of Devil’s Kiss, though I will admit my fallen angels are nothing but heartless and cruel predators. There’s no internal conflict with them.
Patch wants to be human, and thereby hangs a tale. To do it he must kill Nora. That is the heart of Patch’s conflict. His need to be human is poignant and cruel, being based on being inhuman and having to kill, a fundamentally inhuman act. The tension with him makes Patch a truly amazing character, not some ‘just because he’s got a bike and muscles’ bad boy. He’s not a rebel without a cause. His cause is very, very serious. What would we do to be human? What defines us as human? I love this theme, Patch displays both the worst aspects of humanity, the need for love and the desire to be cruel. What other species has this problem? Seeing him stray between the two, sometimes in an instant, made me wonder how he could possible achieve his goal; it’s too alien to him. As an angel he chases something that he cannot be, not really. Mere biological function is the least aspect of being human.
So with things in mind (and a mental image of Christian Bale wearing a pair of black wings) lets move on with the interview!
1. Fallen angels are a powerful metaphor for our own inability to stay on the straight and narrow path. If the chosen of God can fail, how can humanity hope to remain ‘good’? We have this failure in Patch, his desire for mortal woman, and also Nora, time and time again she puts herself in danger by seeking Patch out. There were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to go find a nice boy, like Elliot (gosh, was I wrong about that!). I’d like to know your thoughts on the theme of temptation. It seems to be at the heart of Nora’s conflicting feelings for Patch.
First a disclaimer: I am terrible when it comes to identifying themes and symbolism and all that good stuff my English teachers tried to teach me, so feel free to laugh when you read the below! I think many creation-type stories, like Hush, Hush, explore the theme of temptation. It makes sense, since they all have roots in the story of Adam and Eve. We all know that good stories are made when a character desperately wants something (a bite of that forbidden apple!), but what happens when the very thing a character wants isn't good for them? Enter temptation. I can't say I had the theme of temptation at the back of my thoughts as I wrote Hush, Hush, but I will say that there was a very specific reason the book opens in a biology classroom. I wanted to explore the very primal, very biological, power of physical attraction. The sexual tension playing out on every page between Patch and Nora filled me with innumerable questions and ideas. Is desire purely physical? What causes two people to have instant chemistry? How do two people know if they can trust each other? What in our genetic makeup draws us to one person, and warns us to stay away from another? And what if it's the same person?
2. What sort of research into angels did you do for Hush, Hush? I’m especially interested in how you came to use The book of Enoch.
I always feel a little like I'm cheating when I give this answer, but I grew up attending Sunday School every week and hearing stories from the Bible. When I started writing Hush, Hush, it never occurred to me to go out and do serious research into angel mythology. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the angels that would be in my stories. Rather than make them like angels from the Bible, however, I wanted to make them more human. I wanted them capable of making the same mistakes we make. I wanted them to face the same challenges we face. As for the Book of Enoch, I learned about it in a World Religions class I took in college, and decided to throw it in for the heck of it. Yes, I'm the kind of writer who throws things and sees if they stick!
3. The murder of Kjirsten Halverson first appears to be an irrelevance, but ends up forming a fundamental part of the story. Like the best detective stories things can change on the smallest detail. Do you write organically, letting the story unfold as you write, or plot the entire story in detail first?
I finished the very first draft of Hush, Hush in 2003, and I think it's safe to say it was organic. It was also horrible. I've learned over the years that I write best when I have a plan. The version of Hush, Hush available today was definitely pre-plotted. For me, it's very difficult to write a suspense novel, where, as you said, every clue hinges on a bigger mystery, without knowing all of the clues beforehand.
4. Tell us a bit more about Nora and Vee’s relationship. The two work brilliantly, Nora the usual voice of reason and restraint and Vee being the ‘seize the moment’ kind of gal. You’d think they’d be ready to kill one another after even one day together.
I'll start by saying Vee is my absolute favorite character to write. I feel like I know her incredibly well, and I don't have to think hard when it comes to writing her lines of dialogue. She's very easy to work with (from an author standpoint). I based her character on a couple of my childhood friends, and I can get very nostalgic while writing any scene with Vee. That said, I think she's probably the most controversial character in the series. I can't tell you how many letters I get from readers saying, “I hate Vee and I hope she dies in the next book!”
5. With such a phenomenal start to your writing career, where do you want to go next?
You're making me blush, Sarwat! To be honest, I don’t feel like I deserve a fraction of the success I've had. I feel very, very lucky. I've had a few people ask me what it feels like to be an overnight success, but I don't think they realize it took me five years to sell Hush, Hush. During that time period, I accumulated 100 rejection letters. I'm well aware that there are better writers and better stories out there, but I try not to worry about that too much. I remind myself that I'm doing what I love, and I have loyal and truly wonderful readers. It motivates me to work hard and write the best stories I can. If I can continue to keep my readers engaged in my stories, I'll call it success!
6. One of the more fun parts of publishing is deciding who goes on the front cover. Was it difficult deciding and if I gave you my sister’s email address, could you ask Drew Doyon (the model on the cover) to contact her next time he’s in London?
I still remember my editor emailing over several head shots, and telling me I had 20 minutes to hurry up and choose the models who would portray Patch and Nora. It was terrifying! I'm not the kind of girl who can make up her mind fast. I mull things over to death. But in the end, I'm very happy with the models I chose. And last I heard, Drew is single...
Big thanks to Becca for joining in with this tour. Right, the next few weeks are going to be slightly chaotic, what with the US book tour and such. I've several new announcements to make and they'll be popping up over the next couple of weeks. The Kiss Me, Kill Me tour still has some way to go, with Holly Black, Ally Carter, Kiersten White, Joy Preble and Aprilynne Pike still to come. Should be a blast.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Introducing Ash Mistry

I’ve been waiting for Ash for a long time. Maybe all my life.
I grew up reading myths about Greek heroes, about Vikings, Normans and Saracens, stories of Sinbad and King Arthur, and I’ve loved them all. But where were my heroes? My parents immigrated to England from the Indian Subcontinent and growing up in the 1970’s I had no heroes that I could call mine except Mowgli. The only Indian in children’s literature and he was over a hundred years old. Even Kim, Kipling’s other great child hero, is actually Irish.
I wanted heroes like me, but not labelled as ‘ethnic’. Ash is a bagger and tagger; he fights demons and is a plain and simple action hero. He’s not worried about having an arranged marriage or being in a Bollywood movie.
I was in my twenties before I came across the vast mythology of India and it blew me away. How could this stuff not be better known? Why weren’t kids reading about Rama, Arjuna, about demon-slaying Kali and flute-playing Krishna? The mythology of India is immense and current. It’s being celebrated today and yet we know so little. Why isn’t it as mainstream as any of the Greek or Norse legends?
I’d put the skills of Arjuna against Achilles any day of the week. The strength of Bhima against Hercules. The courage of Rama against that of Thor. (Even as I write this my Spellcheck is going mad. It doesn’t recognise the name ‘Arjuna’. Over one billion people consider Arjuna the world’s greatest hero).
But I didn’t have to be Scandinavian to enjoy tales of Vikings and I don’t believe you need to be Asian to enjoy tales of Rama and of Ash Mistry. Heroes are heroes and we love them where-ever they come from. It’s time we met some Indian ones.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Press Release from HarperCollins

I've been biting my nails for a few weeks to be able to tell you this, so here it is at last.

London, 07th February 2011
Nick Lake, Editorial Director, has won a hotly contested auction to bring the Ash Mistry Chronicles, a new series by Sarwat Chadda, to the HarperCollins list. The three-book deal, for UK & Commonwealth rights, was acquired by Nick from Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary.
Ash Mistry and the Savage Palace – the first book in the series – will launch in Spring 2012. An edge-of-your seat action adventure, it introduces a major new character for 9–12s, 14-year-old British-Indian Ashoka Mistry, better known as Ash.
Ash hates India. Which is a problem since his father has brought the whole family there to take up a dream job with the mysterious Lord Savage. But Ash immediately suspects something is very wrong with the eccentric millionaire. Soon, Ash finds himself in a desperate battle to stop Savage's masterplan – the opening of the Iron Gates that have kept Ravana, the demon king, at bay for four millennia...
Sarwat Chadda's first novel Devil’s Kiss was shortlisted for the Branford Boase First Novel Award. The Ash Mistry Chronicles is his first series for 9-12s. Like the protagonist of this new series, Sarwat came to the folktales of his parents’ culture late in life – vivid stories of heroes, demons and gods that totally blew him away. Now, he’s ready to bring those stories to a whole new generation
Commenting on the deal Nick Lake said, “Ash Mistry is a brilliant, gripping read, with an action-packed plot that starts in top gear and stays there, while taking the reader on a mind-expanding journey into contemporary and mythological India. Fans of Rick Riordan and Eoin Colfer will devour this awesomely entertaining book in a single sitting.”
Sarwat Chadda added, “Everyone's read the adventures of Hercules and Thor. But the vast mythology and history of the Indian sub-continent has been strangely neglected in children's fiction. Through Ash, a modern British-born Asian, I hope to immerse the reader in a world as magical and as thrilling as anything to come out of the more familiar Greek and Norse mythology. Heroes are heroes and we love them wherever they come from. It’s time we met some Indian ones...”

Note to Editors:
• HarperCollins UK publishes a wide range of books, from cutting-edge contemporary fiction, to block-busting thrillers, from fantasy literature and children’s books to enduring classics. It also publishes a great selection of non-fiction titles, including history, celebrity memoirs, biographies, popular science, dictionaries, maps, reference titles and education books, and its digital business is thriving. With nearly 200 years of history HarperCollins publishes some of the world’s foremost authors, from Nobel prizewinners to worldwide bestsellers. In addition it publishes the works of Agatha Christie, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. It was the first major UK trade publisher to go carbon neutral in December 2007.
• HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s books, recognised for nurturing new talent as well as boasting a reputable list of established best-selling authors. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many children’s classics, including The Chronicles of Narnia, Noddy, the Paddington stories, The Cat in the Hat and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and to some of the biggest names in children’s literature past and present, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Louise Rennison, Darren Shan, Judith Kerr and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo.
• HC UK and International is responsible for the UK and Ireland, India, Australia and New Zealand and is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading English-language book publishers in the world. HarperCollins Publishers is a wholly-owned division of News Corporation, the media conglomerate and parent of Times Newspapers Ltd, British Sky Broadcasting and Twentieth Century Fox.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Kiss Me, Kill Me, Part 5 with Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
The first thing I must say is the US cover, the macabre, wood-framed pram with the knife, scissors and other iron implements suspended above it like some murderous mobile absolutely NAILS IT. While the UK cover is great in its own way, a picture of Mackie, the US has all the dread and hints of the secrets trapped within the town of Gentry.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way now, it’s a faerie story. Normally this would be enough for me to close the cover and move on, with talk of courts and Unseelie this and whatnots, but Brenna never uses the f-word in her book and her myth takes it all in a brand new direction.
We all know the tales of changelings, children kidnapped by the faery folk and replaced with one of their own. We all know about their aversion to iron. We know about the gifts left on the doorsteps and the iron horseshoes put on the doors to protect the inhabitants. All these iconic themes are in place, but...but...
The people of Gentry KNOW. This is not some world where the public are blissfully unaware about the magic around them. They know their children are taken. They know one night their child will be gone and instead there’ll be a monster in the crib.
And they do nothing.
The metaphor for the silent acceptance of evil, no matter how it’s disguised, is the most powerful aspect of this amazing book. The code of silence. You just don’t talk about the bad things, lest you attract more evil to your door.
The story is about Mackie, a boy who knows he’s one of them, and of Tate, a girl who doesn’t mourn her sister’s death, because she knows the thing that died is one of the replacements. Tate kicks the entire story off by her loud and public refusal to accept the status quo. She knows Mackie is one of them and drags him, against his own wishes, into confronting the darkness at the heart of Gentry and the truth about himself.
This scene is late in the book and I hope won’t spoil it for you, but it chills the blood when you think about what it really means. This is what Gentry is.

Her smile was cold. She could have been made of wax or porcelain like a doll, but her eyes were wicked and bright.
“The ones who are sincere leave. The others sink their roots in this quiet town and wring their hands and bemoan the loss of their children, and all the while, they take their payment, and they keep the town and they feed it, just like they’ve always done.”

There are no easy ways out. Mackie knows he belongs to another world, the house of Mayhem, and it’s both beautiful and terrifying. It’s ruled by the Morrigan and occupied by the dead, sacrificed children whose blood, literally, binds the pact between the creatures of the underworld and the people of Gentry.
Brenna is one of the Merry Sisters of Fate along with Maggie Stiefvater and Tessa Gratton and we share a marvellous agent, Sarah Davies. Fortunately that meant I could call in favours and get some time with her to delve deeper into her world.

1. It’s interesting to find a female writer writing from a male perspective, especially in this genre. As someone who’s asked this A LOT, how easy was it writing from the viewpoint of the opposite sex?
Well, I have to say that at first it was hard, but only because I was thinking about it in the wrong way. I was trying to make Mackie sound like some imaginary generic teenage boy, and not like a true, specific person who just sounded like himself. Once I started thinking of him as an individual, the point of view became clear and the voice was much, much easier.

2. The relationship of Tate and Mackie is dynamic and takes a long time to develop. I love the fact it comes slowly (the story starts with Mackie being interested is someone else entirely), built brick by brick on dependency and mutual trust rather than an instantaneous spark of mutual desire. Was this something that just came out of the writing or were you purposely trying to avoid the ‘sparks over the classroom’ cliché?
I don't know that I consciously decided to avoid instant attraction, but yeah, it is definitely not there. I really think the slow build was something that evolved out of the characters. Both of them—but particularly Tate—are guarded to say the least. While Tate is far more outspoken than Mackie, she's just not the sort of person who would dive headlong into an emotional relationship, even though she has no qualms about putting herself in physical danger. Everything kind of had to happen on her timeline.

3. The House of Mayhem is an incredibly vivid setting, the entrance through the slag heap, the slowly encroaching waters and the inhabitants, the discarded dead. Where did it come from? What were your inspirations?
Zombie movies. Yes, really. I have a longstanding affection for zombies and grew up watching way too much bad horror. I'm also embarrassingly distrustful of water and I wanted to write about someplace where all my favorite scary things exist unchecked—a place where the inhabitants are faced with weird, creepy conditions and they just have to live there anyway and make the best of it.

4. Despite Mackie’s alien nature he’s got people who love him, I’m talking mainly about Emma, his sister, and Roswell. Emma’s devotion to her replacement brother is extremely moving, her speech to him in Chapter 28 had me in tears! Tell us a bit more about her and Roswell.
Of all the primary characters in The Replacement, Emma and Roswell are unusual because, to put it simply, they've never been hurt. They were both very interesting to me right from the first draft because they don't really doubt themselves (at least where we can see it). I really enjoyed writing both of them, because it's kind of refreshing to deal with people who are so secure in themselves and in their decisions. They are never apologetic or ashamed of feeling affection.

5. What’s next? Any more tales from Gentry or something new?
While I wouldn't go so far as to say there will never be another Gentry book, there's nothing on the agenda just yet. The book I'm working on right now is another standalone—about demons this time. It's called The Space Between, involves danger, moral ambiguity, and kissing, and will be coming out this fall from Razorbill/Penguin Group in the US and Simon & Schuster in the UK. Thanks so much for having me, Sarwat!

My pleasure, Brenna! Gosh, that's quite a few on the Kiss Me, Kill Me tour so far. Hit the button in the right somewhere if you want to check out words of wisdom from Maggie Stiefvater, Cindy Pon, Rachel Hawkins and Carrie Ryan.
Next Monday is Valentine's Day, so I've an interview with Becca Fitzpatrick, author of Hush, Hush, Crescendo and Silence. Fallen angels. You've got to love 'em.
Oh, I've an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT to make on Tues, here on this blog. The fate of the free world may depend on you being here to read it. You have been warned.