Category Archives: Interviews

Fever: the Deon Meyer Interview


Hi Deon, welcome to the TeenLibrarian interview and thank you for giving up your time to answer a few questions!

Before we begin I would just like to say as a SA expat I am a major fan of your work and love seeing South African authors making waves in the international book world!

Hi Matt

Thank you very much for the kind comments. Much appreciated!

Even though it has a laaitie with a gun, Fever is not a novel aimed at the teen or YA market (but the best books are for all ages) and I know that it will appeal to a number of the older kids I work with! Have you ever considered writing a book aimed specifically at a teen audience?

My basic philosophy is to write the story I am most passionate about ( I usually have a few brewing), and I write for the only reader I know – me. So if such a story comes around and the reader within gets excited, I would certainly try …

You are a superstar in the crime fiction world – what inspired you to write a post-apocalyptic novel?

I’m not quite sure about the ‘superstar’ status, and I must admit that I don’t believe in inspiration, but perspiration. You have to work at finding and developing story ideas. FEVER’s origins are in multiple places; non-fiction books on what would really happen in a world without us, all the great post-apocalyptic novels (and a few short stories) I’ve read in my life, my concern for our planet, and my hope that we can transform our South African society into a country of liberty and equality.

Fever, like your earlier works was originally written in Afrikaans, when your works are translated do you work with the translator or do you just let them get on with the work?

I work closely with my exceptional translator Laura Seegers. We’ve been working together for almost 15 years, and have a great understanding.

I am aware that several of your books have been optioned for film and television over the years, if you had the choice what format you prefer for Fever?

I think FEVER is best suited for a TV series.

I am about two thirds of the way through Fever (and may have finished it by the time you answer these questions) – it is so outstandingly good! How long did it take for the Fever to burn through you from initial infection to completion?

Thank you! It took four years from initial concept to final chapter.

Most authors I know hate the question “what are you working at the moment?” so instead I will ask what are you currently reading?

I don’t mind telling you that I’m writing a new Bennie Griessel crime thriller. And I’m reading the superlative Ken Follet’s FALL OF GIANTS.

Can you recommend the works of other South African authors for an international audience?

Absolutely. In no particular order, and to name but a few, there’s Karin Brynard, Mike Nicol, Margie Orford, Michael Stanley, Angela Makholwa, Andrew Brown, Chris Marnewick, Paul Mendelson, MD de Villiers

#YATakeover Neil Gaiman Interview

Early last week I received a cryptic e- mail from Jake Hope asking if I was free on Saturday from 4 – 5pm. I said of course and he revealed that Neil Gaiman had agreed to participate Anthe FAFictionado’s #YATakeover and they wanted me to host the chat.

Once I had managed to stop dancing round the library I agreed and then started fretting that something terrible would happen (spoiler: it didn’t)

The interview took place yesterday on twitter and the storify is below:

Hilda and the Stone Forest: Chatting to a Pearson of Interest

Hi Luke, welcome to Teen librarian and thank you for giving up your time for this interview!
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I grew up reading Tintin and later got into Asterix and since them Hilda is the first graphic album I actively get excited about when I hear about a new volume being released – what inspired her creation?

The initial inspiration was Scandinavian folk tales. I really like the kind of strange, low-key stories, where the existence of creatures like elves and trolls is taken as matter-of-fact and the stories told very plainly. I wanted to create a world and cast of characters that would let me capture the feeling I got reading those stories.

I wanted the world to look like some of the places I visited on a holiday to Norway with my family, where I guess a lot of the early ideas I had took shape. I love Tove Jansson and the Moomin stories and that was very much on my mind at the start. I did read a lot of Asterix as a kid (I have to admit I always found Tintin kind of boring) and when the series moved to the ‘album’ format, I more consciously looked to that as an influence, though probably only visually.

Hilda and the Stone Forest is my new favourite book of her adventures (but I have thought that with each book I have read), the chase scene at the beginning is a masterclass in conveying speed in a static medium – how long did it take you to draw the first six pages?

I really can’t remember how long I spent on those particular pages. I stop and start a lot and there can be a long time between planning a page and drawing the final, which both feel like part of the same process. They were probably the most carefully planned out though and also probably my favourite pages in the book. They’re not vital to the story but I had a really strong idea about how I wanted the book to start, throwing you straight into the middle of one of one of her escapades, to set the pace and to give a sense of the life she’s living right now.

Sticking with movement for the next few questions I am really looking forward to the animated series in 2018! How long has this been developing?

It’s been on the cards since 2014, maybe a bit earlier. Work on the actual series only really began this year though.

Will the animated series be based on the Hilda books or will we discover a whole range of new adventures starring our favourite blue-haired girl?

Both! The series spans the events of the books so far, with new stories in between. With the exception of The Stone Forest all the books are covered. They’ve been adapted so things have shifted around and changed somewhat (for instance the events of Hilda and the Troll are merged into the Midnight Giant episodes) but it’s basically all there. Actually there are very few scenes or elements that haven’t made it into the series in some form. Some of the most incidental stuff has survived and even been fleshed out.
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Are you involved in the creation of the animated series in any way?

Yes, quite a lot actually. I was there to help come up with the new stories and I’ve been overseeing just about everything coming in. Giving notes and feedback on all the scripts and designs. I’m writing the scripts for two episodes. I’m providing designs and sketches for new characters. I’ll be doing some storyboarding.
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I love Hilda’s mum’s involvement in the latest adventure, as a relatively new parent I found the cliff-hanger to be really shocking – will we have to wait long for the second part of the story and can you share the title or is that still top secret?

Not as long as between this one and the last! With any luck it’ll be next year. I don’t want to leave people too concerned for too long and obviously I have the benefit of knowing exactly where the story is going this time. I can’t share the title I’m afraid because I haven’t decided on it yet.

I am looking forward to sharing Hilda’s adventures with my daughter when she is old enough – are there any comic series that you enjoy that you can recommend for Hildafans?

I’m really not sure what I’d suggest for younger readers, because I don’t really look at much in that age bracket. But for older kids looking onwards and upwards I’d recommend comics by Vera Brosgol, Isabel Greenberg, Noelle Stevenson and the Spera series. And for all ages I would always recommend the Moomin books and picture books (maybe save the comics for later.)
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You are probably too busy writing and illustrating but do you ever visit schools or library groups to talk about your art?

I tend not to as I’m not very comfortable talking in front of people. Occasionally I’ll end up doing something like that and it’s always very pleasant and gratifying. But it wreaks too much havoc on my nerves.

Thank you again for answering the questions and thank you also for two* of the greatest female protagonists in a comic medium!

*Hilda’s mum is also amazing

You’re welcome!

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Andy McNab: the Street Soldier Interview

streetsoldierGood afternoon Mr McNab, welcome to the Teen Librarian site and thank you for giving up your time to answer a few questions!

Not a problem, I’m stuck at my desk doing the final edit to my new Nick Stone thriller, so this is a nice distraction!

I have been a fan of your work since I read Brave Two Zero way back in 1995 but am really behind with the Nick Stone novels.

Get reading then, you’ve got some catching up to do!

Are any parts of Street Soldier based on your experiences prior to and after joining the army?

Yes, quite a lot of this book is autobiographical, and as a result of that it’s a book that feels very personal to me. Like Sean, the main character, I got in with the wrong crowd as a teenager in London, ended up in prison and from there got into the army. Like him, that experience changed my life.

As an addendum to the previous question, are any of the characters based on people you know or knew?

Well, Sean is based in part on me I guess, although only the good bits. I’ve used bits of people i served with in the army for some of those characters, and also a few old mates i remember from my days getting into trouble in Peckham have influenced the characters who made up Sean’s ‘family’ of gang members before he got sent to prison.

andy-mcnabWithout giving out spoilers, some of Sean’s early decisions with his Corporal made me want to smack him upside the back of his head – are you aware of any such activities happening in the army?

There’s always going to be the danger of a few dodgy characters in any large group of similar people. The army is no different, they aren’t all angels, and they don’t all come from the easiest backgrounds, Sean included obviously. There is a big difference between wanting to make a few quid on the side and being part of something much worse, and the problem is that people might think they are doing the first of those things, when in fact they are involved in something much more dangerous, both to them and to others.

Street Soldier is the first book in a new series for teen readers, will it be a finite series or is it going to be open-ended?

Depends whether people like it, and whether Sean has more stories to tell. I’m already working on a follow up to this, so he isn’t going anywhere quite yet, but beyond that, you’ll have to wait and see.

Will any characters from your other works cross paths with Sean or is his universe self-contained?

That’s a great idea, it’s interesting to introduce characters where you don’t expect them. I haven’t done it yet from my adult books to the young adult ones, but if I do, I’ll bung you a credit at the beginning.

There were some threads left dangling at the end of Street Soldier can you drop any hints as to where will Sean end up next?

It’s a secret! If I told you I’d have to kill you. No, just joking, and it might all change, but all I can tell you at the moment is that he’s continuing with his army career for the foreseeable future and that the army will take him to new and exotic locations.

While reading the book I thought there were several similarities with the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz and CHERUB by Robert Muchamore but with a more realistic protagonist and lack of slick secret agent techniques and glamour. Can you recommend other books for readers who have enjoyed Street Soldier?

Yes, I hope my writing is more fact based and authentic than unrealistic spy stories. I’ve got nothing against those, they are all fantastic entertainment, but I guess that because of my background it wouldn’t work for me. I have done the gritty stuff, but not so much of the James Bond cocktails and fast cars. My highlight was a Peugeot 205 turbo when I was serving in Northern Ireland. Not quite the same as an Aston is it.

I am aware of your work with literacy charities, specifically Quick Reads and the Six Book Challenge, if you had one piece of advice on getting young people reading what would it be?

It doesn’t matter what you read, just get reading. If you don’t like it, bin it and pick something else up. Reading really can change your life, it did for me. It gives you knowledge and knowledge gives you power to make decisions and do what you want with your life.

I have heard that you sometimes visit schools and reading groups, if this is something you still do what is the best way to go about organising a visit?

Yes, I feel really passionate about getting out there and encouraging young people, and less young people, to make the most of education and opportunities being offered to them. Best way to organise something is through my publicist Laura. Her email is laura@laurasherlockpr.co.uk. Bet she’ll thank me for shouting her email address in an interview, ha!

Lastly can you describe Street Soldier in six word or less to grab a potential reader’s interest?

Offender turned soldier, Sean Harker, must protect the streets of London from a terrorist threat. Ok, bit more than 6 words, sorry.

Thank you again and all the best

No problem, thank you for the questions!

STREET SOLDIER, PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY, IS AVAILABLE NOW!

An Interview with Dr Dominic Walliman & Ben Newman, Creators of Professor Astro Cat

To celebrate Science Week I am extremely pleased to welcome Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman to Teen Librarian to talk about Professor Astro Cat.

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I will break up my first question into two parts, the first being how long have the two of you worked together and how did you come to be co-creators of Professor Astro Cat?

BEN: We’ve been friends since secondary school. I got to know Dominic better when he and a friend of ours put on a comedy night. A few of my close friends and I were involved in the evening. We always stayed in touch despite going off on very different paths.
Back in 2010, I designed and printed a solar system poster which sold really well from my website and I approached my publisher, Nobrow about publishing a book about Space for children. They agreed and asked if I knew anyone who could write it. I immediately thought of Dominic and when we were back in our home town for Christmas I asked him and he said ‘no’…. kidding! He said ‘yes’, really.

DOM: I got really into astrophysics when I was in 6th form after reading a book that tied in with a BBC documentary series called Universe. I wasn’t studying physics at the time, but I remember all the facts blowing my mind, and I used to come into school and tell everyone all the crazy stuff I had learned. I think that is probably why Ben thought of me when he wanted to make the book; and I jumped at the chance!

I love the Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System app and would like to know if there are plans for more apps and if they will be available for other operating systems?

BEN: Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System is in the digital mechanics being fine tuned as we speak. I believe MiniLab will be announcing some really cool stuff very soon in regards to the app and other operating systems.

In terms of new Professor Astro Cat apps, I have had numerous conversations with MiniLab about a couple of ideas that we are throwing around. Nothing in the works yet but I’m not sure I could tell you even if there were… Or could I?

What is your working dynamic like? Did you meet up to discuss the layout of Frontiers of Space and Atomic Adventure or did you write the text and work on the illustrations separately?

BEN: At the start of ‘Frontiers of Space’, we did physically sit down and work out the running order and how we thought the book should work. After the text was finished and while I was about half way through drawing that book, Dominic moved to Vancouver in Canada to work on Quantum computers.

We stay in touch via email but we found that while making the ‘Atomic Adventure’, we needed to talk more often face to face over skype. This was a huge help to both of us and made us feel like a team again. We work together very closely despite the distance.

The text is never concrete so it means that Dominic and I can revisit it while I am drawing and designing the layouts. This was a big help for ‘Atomic Adventure’ because the text informs the image and then the text can be integrated and adapted to work with the images. This fluidity was a real breakthrough for us.

DOM: Our work mostly involves me getting down a first draft of each spread and then running it past Ben. Then we do several iterations of back and forth, cutting things out and adding things in. Then when Ben is illustrating we do a few more tweaks on the text, and I sometimes help out on the images if Ben gets stuck on thinks like the technical details. I think it helps that I’m a very visual person and have some art and graphic design skills.

Ben how long did it take you to illustrate each book and do you work digitally or with traditional paper & paint/ink?

BEN: More than a year but less than two years. It’s difficult to judge the time it takes because I try to fit in other projects at the same time. In both books, there has been a lot of trial and error which at the time is incredibly frustrating but ultimately it is a detrimental part of the process.

My work is a mixture of both traditional and digital. Much more of Atomic Adventure was sketched out on the computer this time. Mainly because I wanted to illustrate with the text laid out in front of me. Frontiers of Space was illustrated in areas that I measured on the computer and then drew by hand.

Dom, there is so much information collected in so little space how long did it take you to put the text together? How many sources did you use to collate the information?

DOM: The first book took about 2 years, but now I have got the a book down to about a year. This might seem like a long time but as I’m working full time at D-Wave I use my evenings and weekends to write. Getting the word count down has definitely been something I have got better at though – it is almost like a crossword puzzle! How do I get what I want to say in as few words as possible, and it be very clear at the same time. It is super fun though.
For Atomic Adventure, most of the material came straight out of my head as Physics is a subject I have been studying for a very long time. Then I did a lot of fact checking to make sure I got it all right.

What scientific exploration will we experience next with Professor Astro Cat?

BEN: Well, there is a Professor Astro Cat space project out this summer and maybe even another project later in the year. Dominic and I are already working on his next adventure into science but it’s top secret.

DOM: I can say that the first draft of the next book is done, and I can’t wait to be able to talk about it. It is going to be a lot of fun!

Frontiers of Space was my favourite scientific picture book of 2015 and with Atomic Adventure you have given me my favourite for 2016 (it is a combination of engaging art and really interesting snippets of information) and since discovering your work I have seen more picture books dealing with scientific themes and information. Do you think we are at the beginning of a revolution in scientific picture books?

BEN: I hope so. It would be great to be a part of a movement towards engaging minds young and old in science. Children’s non-fiction has been an area well in need of some TLC for a long while now so finger’s crossed there is a resurgence.

DOM: I hope so too! I would love for science to become a bit more mainstream. When I talk to people, I find a lot of adults who think science is some mixture of intimidating, difficult or dull, and I think it is such a shame. When explained well, science is none of these things. In fact there are few things as enjoyable as understanding something new about the fundamental nature of the Universe. So if we can give the young people of today a more positive experience of science, that is fantastic, and I heartily encourage others to do the same.

For readers who fall in love with your work can both of you give a suggestion for further reading (both your own works and any other authors/illustrators that you think we may enjoy)?

BEN: I love Jim Stoten’s Mr Tweed’s Good Deeds as it is mind bogglingly illustrated and fun. Jim and I used to share a studio together when we were working on our books so he was a big inspiration. Also, Andrew Rae’s Moonhead is a brilliant illustrated story. It’s really funny.

DOM: If you haven’t read the Calvin and Hobbes books yet, I would highly recommend them. They aren’t about science, but are philosophical in the most fun way.

Thank you so much for giving up your time to answer these questions!

Eight Questions With… Anthony McGowan

Hi Tony, and welcome (finally) to Eight Questions With… an interview for Teen Librarian. I was just trying to work out why considering how long we have known each other I have never interviewed you before – do you have any idea why?

I seem to remember that you did interview me for Teen Librarian, back in the Henry Tumour period … In fact, YES! Found it.

Editor’s note: yes, I did interview Tony, it appeared way back in 2007, you can read it here: TLM May 2007 Now let us never mention this embarrassing incident again and get on with the interview…

You currently have three books published by Barrington StokeThe Fall, Brock & Pike, would you be able to give a short introduction to each for readers that may not have already discovered these?

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It might be easiest if I discuss Brock and Pike first. They both feature brothers Nicky and Kenny. At the beginning of Brock their family is in a bit of a mess. Their mum has left them, and their father can’t really cope – he’s lost his job, and generally fallen apart. Nicky is the narrator, and acts as a sort of carer for Kenny, who has special needs. Nicky thinks the best word to describe his brother is ‘simple’ –

People say he’s simple, and he is. I know you’re not meant to say ‘simple-minded’ anymore, but it seems to me that it’s the exact right word for Kenny. He hasn’t got all the stuff going on that mess up other people’s heads. He isn’t always trying to work out the angles, or how to stitch you up. He thinks other people are as kind as he is, and he only has one idea at a time. His brain was starved of oxygen when he was getting born, so now he has what they 9781781124666call learning difficulties. But, like I say, I think ‘simple’ is better and kinder and truer than talking about ‘difficulties’ or ‘disabilities’.

The Nicky-Kenny relationship is the key to the two novels. In Brock, they save a badger from a terrible fate, and Pike is a sort of treasure hunt/adventure story about a body in a lake, and a gold watch, but the relationship between the brothers remains central. They’re stories about love and friendship and redemption. The boys love helps to save the family. Unusually, for me (!) the books have upbeat endings.

The Fall is a rather darker book, telling two traumatic linked tales, about a kid called Mog. The book is about betrayal, and bullying, but doesn’t end well … But I think it has a certain bleak power.

I recall reading a while ago that Brock & Pike are the first two parts of a trilogy – is this true or is my brain making up things as I have not been able to find anything about it?
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I decided that The Fall was just too depressing – especially as the main character is partly based on me, so I bring Mog back in Pike, giving him a kind of redemption, too. So The Fall, Brock and Pike do finally form a sort of loose trilogy.

You are one of the most entertaining authors I follow on twitter and facebook, will you ever be producing a book or e-book of your online musings & conversations?

Hah! Well, a few people have suggested it. I’m not much good at Twitter – my speciality is a sort of rambling surrealist anecdote, and I can’t squeeze that into a tweet. My whimsy really needs the greater length of Facebook. But I do think that some of the best things I’ve ever written have been ‘wasted’ on Facebook, so it would be quite nice to give them a second life.

Are you currently working on anything you can share with the audience? (I am hoping for a follow-up to Hello Darkness as it was one of my favourite reads last year)

I’ve just finished a book I’ve been writing on with another author – the brilliant Jo Nadin. It’s called Everybody Hurts, and it’s a twisted little love story, written from male and female perspectives. The first draft is done, and we’re about to give it a final polish. It probably won’t come out until 2017, as these things always seem to take forever. I’m also well into a huge blockbuster horror project – a sort of Stephen King for teens. The working title is The Wrath. There’s a lot of blood.

Apart from your books, can you recommend any other titles on the Barrington Stoke teen lists?

Barrington Stoke, although small, attract some amazing authors – Kevin Brooks, Keith Gray, Meg Rosoff, Sally Nicholls, Aidan Chambers, Eoin Colfer, Frank Cottrell Boyce, to name but some. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of their Barrington Stoke books.

Are any of your works based on personal experiences?

They all are, to some extent – even the mad, surreal ones, like Hellbent and Hello Darkness. But Brock and Pike are very much set in the small town where I was brought up – Sherburn in Elmet, in Yorkshire. Although it isn’t named, anyone from Sherburn would recognise it instantly. But, in general, most of my characters are versions of people I’ve met. Warped, twisted versions …

Lastly what are you currently reading and would you recommend it to a bunch of librarians?

I’m working my way though the My Struggle sequence by Karl Ove Knausgård – which reads a bit like a po-faced version of my facebook posts. It has a richness and depth, but can also be a bit … dull. So not sure I’d recommend it. What I would certainly recommend, however, is How To Be A Public Author, by Francis Plug (really Paul Ewen) – an hysterical novel about a drunken would be writer, who attends every possible book event to learn the job. It’s ludicrously funny and silly, but also oddly moving, and a tribute to all us bibliophiles.

Thank you so much for giving up your time to participate in this interview!

Eight Questions With… Andy Mulligan

Hi Andy, welcome to the Teen Librarian Eight Questions With… interview! The first thing I usually ask is for interviewees to introduce themselves but I think that you are so well known that I will instead ask you to introduce LIQUIDATOR.

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LIQUIDATOR unites a number of child-heroes: the weak, the strong, the dim, the brilliant…and I send them happily off on a week of work-experience. My characters soon go way beyond their placements, however, working to expose a multi-national corporation that’s threatening the world – and this isn’t 007 land, by the way, where the villains are psychopathic criminals. My villain is real. It’s developing a so-called health drink that will addict a new generation to sugars, steroids and caffeine: a performance enhancing health-drink with a billion-dollar marketing campaign, and a history of very dubious medical trials in the developing world – the stuff of fact, in other words.

The second question is… what would you do if you found out something bad… something really bad?

I’d walk away very quickly and pretend I hadn’t seen it. Sorry, but I’m a coward and I don’t like conflict.

Did you ever participate in a work experience scheme in school?

For some reason, no – I went to a grammar school in the seventies when all we did was learn by rote and sing ‘Jerusalem’. I used to supervise such weeks, when I was a teacher – and they were all too often a predictable disappointment, as kids returned to school having experienced only the stranglehold of insurance and safety concerns. I always hoped that one day, a would-be teenage surgeon would come rushing back to class, shouting “It was great! I cut someone open!” It never happened in life, so I’ve put into fiction.

What inspired the writing of LIQUIDATOR?

– see above. The thrill of the chase, too: I do love fast-moving, action packed adventures with real jeopardy.

Apart from LIQUIDATOR, what other works for young readers can you recommend?

I’m afraid I don’t read that much, for fear I’ll either be dismayed at its brilliance, or seduced into copying. I have a few ‘touchstone’ YA books, the main one of which is John Boyne’s THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS. If I get stuck, I read a chapter of that and it always unsticks me. Other than that, I am desperately traditional. I love the Moomins, for sheer surrealism.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

First draft, for sure. It’s like playing with dolls: you get lost in the game as the dolls come to life and do things you never expected. Returning to the m/s for editing is good, too – and it’s lovely to share your work with agent and editor. But there’s nothing quite like the virgin sand of first draft.

With LIQUIDATOR only having just landed it may be a bit premature to ask this question, but I will ask it anyway. Do you have anything new planned that you can share with the audience?

I’m working on a film-script with Steve Coogan, and radio plays for Radio 4. The next children’s book is well underway, too – a bit of a departure. It’s about a dog with a crippling identity crisis.

Finally, do you ever visit schools or public libraries and if you do what is the best way to get into contact with you about organising a visit?

Yes, I try to say yes if I possibly can – and the best way to get something organised is through the excellent AUTHORS ALOUD – annemarley@authorsalouduk.co.uk

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!
THANK YOU FOR ASKING! -ANDY

Liquidator by Andy Mulligan is published by David Fickling Books and is available on 1st October

Prattling about Pocket Pirates… an Interview with Chris Mould

Hi Chris, welcome to TeenLibrarian for the Pocket Pirates Q&A!

captain crabsticksAs is traditional I usually ask first time visitors to the site to introduce themselves to the audience, so can you please let us know something about you?

Hi Matt, yes of course. I’m an illustrator at heart and have been for over twenty years.

I began to write to create narrative content that made sense of the worlds and characters growing out of my sketchbook and from there, I began to write ‘in real life.’ Proof that anybody can do it if they really want to.
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Without giving too many spoilers can you tell us something about the Pocket Pirates?

The home of the pocket pirates is one of miniature people in a human sized environment. So whether it’s being stuck inside an old teapot, having to climb a stack of old books just to get back home, being harassed by a swarm of huge flies or trying to retrieve a stash of biscuit crumbs, the world is a tricky place when you’re only an inch high, even for a brave buccaneer. But the biggest danger comes from the mice beyond the skirting board and the eight legged menace in the tangled web up above. Look out, the enemy are hungry. It’s dangerous out there in the Old Junk Shop.

jonesHow did you come up with the idea of daring pirates living in a bottle ship?

To be honest I was ready to have a rest from Buccaneers. They’re such a terrible lot. I was having a holiday and I spotted a ship in a bottle as I walked round an old shop. I was always a huge Borrowers and Old Mrs Pepperpot fan and I just thought to myself, ‘aha, tiny pirates would live in there.’ And the Pocket Pirates were born. It allowed me to look at pirates in a different way. They were land lubbers and they were little! What could be more fun?

LilyConsidering that they were basically muggers of the sea and worse back in the day (and still are in some parts of the world) why do you think that Pirates seem to be enduringly popular?

I don’t think it’s the habits of the pirate that people find endearing. There are endless pirate publications for children but most of them avoid any serious reference to cut throat lifestyles. I think it’s the period costume and the on board environment they live in that has timeless appeal for illustrators and authors. It’s a very well-trodden path I know. But creating character and narrative has a lot to do with visual appeal. What can be more fun than big pirate hats, striped socks, skulls and crossbones, frilly shirts, huge sleeved coats and a huge rickety old timber house that moves from place to place? And of course, your average pirate is a cheeky scallywag and we all love a mischievous rogue who can mix it up a bit.

old uncle nogginI have seen your name popping up a lot on twitter, most recently next to a map for Matt Haig’s Christmas book – where else can we find your artwork gracing other author’s words?

Ah yes, drawing pine trees and snowy landscapes in the middle of August was a good way to keep me cool this year (as well as living in the UK 😉 I’ve also been working with the hilariously funny Barry Hutchison on the Benjamin Blank fiction series for Nosy Crow. Tremendously chucklesome fun. Very funny writer.

Returning to things piratical, can you recommend books about pirates by other authors?

You mean the pirate enemy? On the other ship?? Of course not! Buy a copy of Pocket Pirates, and nothing else.

Oh go on then, if I must. Make sure you’ve seen Chris Riddell’s beautifully drawn Pirate Diary. And Shipmate Johnny Duddle is always a pirate winner. His new black and white pirate fiction is genius. And don’t miss the Jim Ladd and Benji Davies Space Pirates series from Nosy Crow. I could go on….
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Who is your favourite fictional freebooter? and do you have any favourite non-fiction pirates?

Fiction: Ah I always come back to ‘Silver’. He’s THE BEST. Treasure Island is a text I can read over and over again. And I have to be staring at the Ralph Steadman version.

Non Fiction: I can’t favourite any of the real ones. They’re all bad uns and I’d lock em all up.

What is coming next for the Pocket Pirates?

In the next book the hungry Buccaneers dare to venture outside when their food supplies get low. I won’t give much away but when it rains and they are washed into a storm drain, the rain soaked fun begins.

To inject a bit of levity in to the serious subject of swashbucklers, do you have a favourite pirate joke, and can you share it?

Oh….. And my pirate joke…..

Errrrr…….

Why does it take a pirate so long to learn the alphabet?

Because he spends years at C!

Thank you so much for giving up your time to drop by and answer some questions!

Thank you Matt. Your support is hugely appreciated.

The Secret Fire: Interview with Carina Rozenfeld and CJ Daugherty

Alchemy… the occult science devoted to matter transmutation, best known for the search for eternal life and the quest to turn lead into gold.

Now two authors, CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld have combined their talents and turned mere ink and paper into literary gold with their new book The Secret Fire.

The power of two does not end there today two blogs have two interviews about the creation of the novel. Read the interviews below in French and then follow the link to the English interviews at La Voix du Livre

I interviewed Carina Rozenfeld and my blog twin Tom of La Voix du Livre interviewed CJ Daugherty.

Bonjour Carina, bienvenue à l’interview The Secret Fire pour Teen Librarian et La Voix du Livre ! Mon binôme blogueur Tom a interviewé CJ donc tu es mienne pour toute la durée de cette interview (insérer une voix menaçante). Je te présente mes excuses pour mes lacunes en français et j’espère que les poser en Anglais ne posera pas de problème.
Carina
Ma première question que je pose à tous les auteurs que j’interviewe pour le blog est de les inviter à se présenter aux lecteurs, peux-tu s’il te plaît nous dire quelques informations sur toi ?

Quelque chose à mon propos ? Alors, je suis une écrivaine française. J’ai écrit environ 20 livres en France, pour les enfants, les adolescents et les jeunes adultes. Je suis aussi la mère d’un adolescent qui étudie les arts appliqués. Je vis à Paris avec lui et mes chats, pas très loin de la Tour Eiffel…

Est-ce que The Secret Fire est ton premier roman à quatre mains ?

Oui, c’est la première fois que j’écris un roman avec quelqu’un d’autre. J’ai écrit environ 20 livres seule et c’est un beau changement et une super expérience de pouvoir explorer d’autres façons d’écrire.

Comment c’était de travailler avec CJ ? Quels ont été les plus grands challenges auxquels tu as dû faire face dans ce travail collaboratif ?

Travailler avec CJ, c’est génial, drôle et facile. Ça aurait pu être vraiment difficile, mais à la fin, on a trouvé une façon d’écrire ensemble qui a parfaitement fonctionné. La partie la plus difficile a été la langue, sans aucun doute. C’est déjà difficile de trouver sa propre voix, sa propre façon décrire dans sa langue natale, alors vous pouvez imaginer comment ça a été difficile en Anglais ! Mais CJ m’a beaucoup aidé. Merci à elle !

Quelle a été la meilleure partie de cette expérience d’écriture pour toi ?

J’adore (j’utilise le présent car on est en train d’écrire le tome 2 en ce moment même) qu’on puisse échanger nos idées. Et j’adore attendre les chapitres qu’elle m’envoie, car je suis alors à la place du lecteur, puis prendre celle de l’écrivain pour lui permettre d’être la lectrice. C’est très motivant.

Est-ce que vous avez établi un plan scénaristique, une frise chronologie, pour être sûr que vos personnages restaient sur la bonne voie tout au long de l’histoire ?

Pas vraiment. Dans le premier livre j’ai écrit les chapitres sur Sacha, et CJ ceux sur Taylor, alors on savait toujours où les personnages en étaient dans l’histoire. Mais de temps en temps on décidait ensemble ce qui allait se passer dans les chapitres suivants.

Comment avez-vous séparé les scènes d’écriture ? Je suppose que tu as écrit celles sur Sacha et CJ a travaillé sur Taylor (ou je me trompe ?) Mais quand ils se rencontrent, comment avez-vous fonctionné ?

Oui, j’ai écrit les parties sur Sacha et CJ celles sur Taylor. Quand ils sont ensemble ou discutent ensemble, alors, quand c’était mon chapitre par exemple, CJ était libre de changer des choses, pour aller plus dans la profondeur de la pensée de Taylor, pour être plus proche de son personnage, et inversement.
J’ai un peu honte de dire que j’ai une connaissance très limitée des livres non-anglophones en YA ; peux-tu nous recommander quelques auteurs européens de YA que tu aimes ?
Je ne suis pas surprise. La plupart des écrivains français ne sont pas traduits en anglais, alors n’ayez pas honte. C’est vraiment dommage parce qu’il y a beaucoup d’écrivains européens particulièrement bons. Je pense à Charlotte Bousquet, Samantha Bailly, Yves Grevet, Christophe Lambert, Victor Dixen qui sont français et Cindy Van Wilder qui est belge. Je pourrais encore en mentionner beaucoup. La littérature française est pleine de trésors.

Qu’est-ce que ce travail t’a apporté dans ta vie personnelle et dans ta vie professionnelle ?

C’est une expérience incroyable. Dans ma vie personne, j’ai une nouvelle amitié avec CJ et j’ai réalisé un rêve, celui de publier un livre en anglais, parce que mon frère vit en Amérique et ma belle-sœur et toute sa famille sont américains. Je suis ravie de savoir qu’ils vont finalement pouvoir lire un de mes livres. Dans ma vie professionnelle, je peux maintenant savoir ce que c’est d’être un auteur « anglais ». Les choses ne sont pas les mêmes : sa façon de travailler avec son editor/publisher (Ndt : en anglais, le mot n’est pas le même. L’editor est celui qui s’occupe du travail éditorial tandis que le publisher est celui qui publie le livre – c’est un poste plus logistique et directorial), la façon dont son livre voyage dans le monde parce qu’il est en anglais.

Est-ce que The Secret Fire est ton premier livre disponible en anglais ?

Oui, et j’ai beaucoup d’optimisme sur la suite, quelques éditeurs anglais seront peut-être intéressés de traduire mes autres livres après celui-ci !

Quelques uns de mes éditeurs français sont en relation avec mon éditeur anglais Atom Books. Peut-être que quelque chose se passera un jour ?

J’ai eu une longue période d’intérêt en l’alchimie durant mes penchants gothiques adolescents, alors j’aurais aimé savoir si vous avez fait des recherches sur l’alchimie pour cette histoire ?

La plupart des recherches ont été faites par CJ, parce que son personnage est plus concerné par l’alchimie. Mais j’ai lu quelques choses sur ce sujet.

Vous avez décidé d’écrire une histoire fantastique. Pourquoi cela était-il important pour vous ?

La plupart de mes romans ont une trame fantastique. Alors j’était familière de ce genre. CJ, elle, voulait faire une histoire plus fantastique et paranormale que Night School donc ce genre nous est venu assez naturellement.

Crois-tu que les alchimistes peuvent vraiment transformer des matières en une autre forme ?

En fait, en un sens, ne sommes-nous pas des alchimistes quand nous allumons la lumière dans nos maisons ? On transforme quelque chose, de l’énergie, de l’électricité, en lumière…

Que penses-tu de la magie ?

J’adore les bonnes histoires avec quelque chose de magique dans celles-ci. Et quand je vois un magicien, je suis toujours étonnée par ce qu’ils sont capables de faire, et je veux croire que c’est possible ! Peut-être que c’est pour ça que j’écris des histoires avec tant de fantastique : j’aimerais que tout cela comme la magie, les extraterrestres, avoir des ailes, être le Phénix puisse vraiment exister…

Si tu étais alchimiste, que ferais-tu de tes capacités ?

M’aider à travailler plus vite ? Trouver un moyen de voyager super vite, comme la téléportation ? Sentir le monde autour de moi de façon plus forte ?

Penses-tu que le réalisme magique de votre histoire peut aider le lecteur à considérer les vrais problèmes auquel un jeune adulte est confronté dans notre monde ?

Je lis beaucoup de YA et je pense que dans tous les livres, peu importe le genre (fantasy, paranormal, SF, réalisme…), on a toujours une certaine résonnance avec les problèmes des jeunes adultes : devenir un adulte avec des responsabilités, choisir quel genre d’adulte on aimerait devenir. La relation au monde, aux autres, aux parents, les capacités qu’on a pour construire la personne qu’on va devenir, comment faire face aux changements auxquels on va être confrontés, la réalité de la vie et de la mort…

Peux-tu nous donner quelques informations sur le tome 2 ?

Je n’en suis pas sûre… Mais peut-être que je peux vous dire que vous allez en apprendre plus sur les alchimistes, et que vous allez rencontrer des créatures encore plus terrifiantes.

Merci beaucoup d’avoir répondu à cette interview !

Some People Are Dangerous

Bonjour CJ, bienvenue sur La Voix du Livre pour l’interview sur The Secret Fire ! Mon binôme blogueur Matt a interviewé Carina (nous échangeons nos auteurs locaux) !

www.darrenbrade.comEst-ce que tu peux nous dévoiler quelque chose à propos de toi ?

Je suis une ancienne journaliste qui travaillait sur des meurtres et aujourd’hui j’écris des romans !

Est-ce que The Secret Fire est le premier roman que tu as écrit à quatre mains ?

Oui, j’ai écrit seule tous mes autres romans.

Comment c’était de travailler avec Carina ? Quels étaient les plus gros challenges ? Et quel a été le meilleur moment de cette expérience littéraire ?

C’était vraiment génial ! On se motivait mutuellement. Quand on a commencé à travailler sur The Secret Fire, on l’appelait « Le livre aux deux cerveaux ». On a décidé qu’il serait deux fois mieux que n’importe quel livre qu’on a écrits chacune de notre côté.
Ce qui a été le plus compliqué a été de décider comment nous allions procéder. Est-ce que nous devrions Skyper tous les jours ? Est-ce que nous devrions partager toutes nos idées avant de les écrire ? Mais finalement nous avons mis en place un système de chapitres alternés, et ça s’est bien mis en place.

Est-ce que vous aviez prévu ensemble la chronologie de l’histoire pour être sures que vos personnages restent sur la bonne voie durant tout le roman ?

Non, pas au début. On écrivait simplement les chapitres comme ils venaient. Mais quand l’intrigue s’est vraiment développée, c’est devenu nécessaire d’organiser la suite. Nous avons donc décidé ensemble de ce qui allait arriver et nous avons ensuite écrit le reste de nos chapitres. Et pour le second tome, nous avons un synopsis détaillé et nous essayons plus ou moins d’y rester fidèles.

Qu’est-ce que ce travail vous a apporté, dans votre vie professionnelle mais aussi personnelle ?

Ca a supprimé la solitude du travail d’écriture. J’avais un retour immédiat sur mon travail. J’envoyais un chapitre à Carina dans la matinée et elle me répondait le plus souvent dans les heures qui suivaient. Et j’adorais lire ses chapitres, c’était comme avoir un petit cadeau chaque jour.

Est-ce que vous avez dû effectuer beaucoup de recherche sur l’alchimie ?

ENORMEMENT. J’ai lu des traductions de livres d’alchimie du XVe siècle et j’ai étudié les inventions et l’imaginaire de l’alchimie. Et le titre de notre roman est emprunté à un célèbre texte du XVIe siècle sur l’alchimie.

Pourquoi est-ce que c’était important pour vous de créer une intrigue fantastique ?

Je n’avais jamais écrit de fantasy avant et j’avais envie de voir tout ce qu’on peut faire quand les lois de la physique ne s’appliquent plus à vos personnages et que vous pouvez aller au-delà des limites. Lorsque nous écrivons de la fantasy, nous ne somment pas limités.

Est-ce que vous croyez que les alchimistes pouvaient transformer une substance en une autre ?

C’est ce que nous faisons toute le temps à notre époque. Nous transformons le fer ou le minerai en acier, le plastique en tissus.
Et le plastic vient du pétrole. Quand on assemble deux molécules, on peut créer quelque chose de complètement différent. Associe le sodium et le chlorure, tu crées du sel de table. Notre monde est plein de transformations et les alchimistes étaient juste en avance sur leur temps. Après tout, l’alchimie c’est 90% de la science et seulement 10% de magie. Et est-ce que tu ne crois pas aux 10% de magie ?

Quel est ton point de vue sur la magie ?

J’aimerais être une sorcière, est-ce que c’est trop demander ?

Si tu avais des compétences en alchimie, qu’est-ce que tu aimerais faire ?

J’aimerais faire de belles choses, rendre les gens heureux, donner à mes amis tout ce qu’ils veulent. Et aussi, agrandir ma maison.

Est-ce que tu penses que le mélange de magie et de réalisme de votre roman peut aider les lecteurs à voir les problèmes réels auxquels les jeunes adultes sont confrontés dans le monde ?

Dans le roman, Sacha meurt alors qu’il vient juste d’avoir 18 ans. Je pense qu’il est juste de dire que quand on est jeunes, les 18 ans peuvent symboliser la fin de la jeunesse et le début intimidant d’une vie d’adulte. Ce livre parle du désir de survire à 18 ans et montre les incroyables possibilités qu’apporte le futur. Ce livre montre également à quel point la science peut être géniale. Donc, je contribue à ma manière pour éduquer les jeunes ?
Est-ce que vous avez le droit de nous donner quelques indices sur le deuxième tome ?

Le tome 2 commence trois semaines avant les 18 ans de Sacha. Ils sont sur le point de découvrir qui est le Dark practitioner et pourquoi il est passé de l’alchimie à la démonologie. Le temps file mais Taylor devient plus fort.

Est-ce que tu peux nous dire quels autres auteurs français et anglais de YA tu apprécies ?

Evidemment, je recommande tous les livres de Carina Rozenfeld, en particulier Phaenix, elle est une auteure formidable !
J’adore également Cindy Van Wilder, qui est belge mais qui écrit en français. Elle a par exemple écrit Les Héritiers et La reine des neiges.

Et dans les auteurs anglais ou américains, j’adore Holly Bourne (Am I Normal Yet ?), Mel Salisbury (The Sin Eater’s Daughter) et Cassandre Clare (The Mortal Instruments) et plein d’autres encore !

All my thanks go to Tom & his girlfriend for the rapid translation of these interviews from English into French!

Longbow Girl: Interview with Linda Davies

archers

Hi Linda, welcome to Teen Librarian for the Eight Questions With… interview! The first question I ask all authors is: can you please introduce yourself to the audience?

Hi Matt and hi to all you lovely readers out there, so, who am I? Good question. I’m lots of different people depending on what novel I am writing (I get so into the book I do feel as if I am the main character and am living their lives!), but I suppose there’s an external consistency to who I am: I’m an Oxford University economist by training but a novelist by nature. I spent seven years working as an investment banker in London, New York and Eastern Europe, being exposed to more potential plots than was decent. Then I escaped and wrote my first book, Nest of Vipers. Longbow Girl is my twelfth book.

I’ve lived in various parts of the world.

I spent three years living in Peru and more recently eight years living in the Middle East. In 2005 my husband and I were kidnapped at sea by Iranian government forces and held hostage in Iran for two weeks before being released after high-level intervention by the British government. I wrote about that in my first non-fiction book, Hostage.

I am married and have three great children are who occasionally drive me mad but then they’d no doubt say the same about me. My family play a big part in my books. My husband reads various drafts aloud to the children and me, then they all give me their brutally honest opinion. I then slink away to try and write a better draft!

I also have two dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks called Boudicca and Beowulf, and a desert cat called Cutie. We live near the sea in Suffolk, where I try to swim all year round.

Longbow Girl is a thoroughly gripping tale set in the Wales of the modern era as well as the late Tudor period, how much research went into writing it?

Longbow-final-tweaks-bigger1One way and another, I’ve done a lot of research, both years ago and recently. The roots of Longbow Girl are very personal and go back to my own childhood. When I was eight years old, my father gave me a longbow for Christmas. I would shoot it for hours, perfecting my aim, practising until my hands were covered in calluses. My older brother, Kenneth, also had one. We would shoot cans off walls and also, rather terrifyingly, we’d aim for the high wires on the electricity pylons. Happily, we missed!

As a girl, I just wielded my longbow for fun, but I always used to feel different whenever I picked it up. Longbows are lethal weapons. They changed the course of history. This October sees the six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, an ‘unwinnable’ battle, won by the Longbow against all the odds. I did a lot of research into this and also the battle of Crécy in 1346, another ‘unwinnable’ battle won by the Anglo-Welsh longbowmen.

I didn’t really need to research the locations. The setting of Longbow Girl, in the Brecon Beacons and in the Black Mountains, was close to where I grew up. When I was a girl we would regularly go on forced family marches up Pen Y Fan in all weathers. I used to grit my teeth until we got to the top, and then run all the way down to the Storey Arms with my brothers. I never thought that I would write about it, but I love that journey back in my head to the mountains of my youth. It’s my very own form of time travel! I went back several times when I was writing Longbow Girl as well, just to see it all with fresh eyes. It’s such a beautiful and atmospheric part of the world. Revisiting was a joy and an inspiration.

The historical aspect of Longbow Girl took a lot of research. I read widely about the Tudor period, both in factual books but also via fiction. Sometimes it is fiction that gives you a much more vivid portrait of a time and place. Here is a photo of some of the books I’ve either read or repeatedly delved into for my research.
Linda's books
Are you a fan on the Mabinogion and are you able to recommend any particular translations of the text?

I am a huge fan of the Mabinogion. My father had a copy of the 1989 Everyman revised edition (translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, one of whom signed it but with an illegible signature!) and he gave that copy to me over twenty years ago. I always had a sense even then that I would write something linked to it. Recently, my brother Roy gave me an Oxford University Press hardback Mabinogion published in 2007. It’s lovely but my late father’s copy will always be my favourite.

Linda and her longbowMuch like Merry, you grew up using a longbow, have you kept up proficiency in its use?

Absolutely I still have Huntress. If you have a look at my website: www.Lindadavies.com, you will see a video clip of me shooting arrows with Huntress. I practice every few weeks. I wish I could say I can consistently hit an empty can on a wall 50m away… but I’d be lying! I can consistently hit my standard archery target from 30m away and if I sneak a bit closer I can periodically get a bull’s-eye or what archers insist on calling the ‘gold’ at the centre of the target.

Are any parts of Longbow Girl based on actual historical events or have you just woven historical characters into a fictional setting?

Yes, they are! A particular historical fact that I discovered about six years ago acted as a catalyst to writing Longbow Girl. I learned that Henry VIII issued an edict ordering the destruction of wild Welsh ponies under a certain height in order to improve his stock of destriers, or war horses. I was outraged on their behalf! The other childhood inspiration for Longbow Girl was my own black Welsh Mountain Section B pony, Jacintha. I was horrified by the idea of her ancestors being hunted down and destroyed, just because they were small! I dreamt of being able to go back in time to rescue some of those ponies, and then I thought, what if a young girl did just that…

So I came up with the brave, strong and wonderful Merry – the fifteen-year-old heroine of Longbow Girl. She is a supreme archer, the first longbow girl in a tradition of longbow men that stretches back seven hundred years to the Battle of Crécy. She’s also a great rider. One day, while out on her pony Jacintha, Merry discovers a treasure that offers her the chance to turn back time. She travels back to the brutal kingdom of Henry V111. Fighting against battle-seasoned men, she has to wield her longbow to save her family. To save herself… and a few ponies too!

In a strange co-incidence, mirroring one of the central plot lines from Longbow Girl which I dreamed up over five years ago, I recently discovered that in 1346 the Longbowmen of Llantrisant (the village right next to where I grew up!) fought for the Black Prince at the Battle of Crécy and saved his life.

The grateful Prince granted them a piece of land to be held in perpetuity. To this day, nearly seven hundred years later, the direct descendants of those longbowmen hold that parcel of land in Llantrisant.

Here’s another personal link that goes all the way back to the Battle of Crécy. During the battle, the Black Prince claimed the emblem of the defeated Bohemian King: three ostrich feathers. This emblem has been adopted by every Prince of Wales since. I was given a ‘Royal’ ring bearing the crest with the three ostrich feathers when I was a little girl when our current Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales. My father was involved in the Investiture and gave me the ring to mark the occasion. I still wear it now! I have never taken it off.

Have you ever read The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch? I read it about 25 years ago now, Longbow Girl reminded me a bit of it as they share a slightly similar time-slip plot and it is also set in Wales.

I’ve never come across it till now. It sounds intriguing! I’ve just ordered it.

Although the main storyline was tied up there were a couple of plot threads dangling at the end – do you have any sequels planned?

There are a few dangling threads aren’t there…? And yes I would dearly love to write a couple of sequels exploring what and where Merry goes next. I’ve just started plotting a different book, also Y/A/middle grade and will write that one first.

I am also a big fan of your Djinn books and reviewed the first two back in 2009 & 2010, moving away from Longbow Girl for just a moment can you let me know when Djinn War is due out?

Thank you so much! I am delighted to hear that. War of the Djinn is currently filed away, both in my brain and on my PC. I have done some work on it and hope to reprise it one day. At the moment, the wonderful Tanabi Films is deep in the process of putting together a deal to make an animated movie of Sea Djinn and then hopefully the rest of the Djinn books after that, so watch this space!

Thank you so much for giving up your time!

Is my absolute pleasure Matt. Thank you for your interest in my books and for your support and kind words.