Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Happy Holidays!

My tree is up, (most of) the presents are wrapped and Christmassy music comes out of the radio almost constantly. I normally love this time of year.

I'm probably going to be off the blog during the festive week, so I'll see you all again in the New Year. Until then, merry Christmas, happy holidays and I hope you all have a lovely and safe end to this year!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

One Year On

Sunday was my son's first birthday. And yes, I'm still recovering from the party and the cleaning up and the exuberance of a too-excited baby, but it's deeper than that. I'm struggling to process the basic fact of it. Jeremy has been around for a whole year. How is that possible?

You know how people tell you that you should make the most of every moment with your baby because it's over in the blink of an eye? It's true. I'd probably only add that it feels like an eternity while it's happening, but when you look back you're like WHERE DID ALL THAT TIME GO?!

So yeah. I am in possession of exactly one child. He is twelve months and two days old. He is now fully qualified as a baby.



Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Book of the Year

I know the year's not over yet, but I feel like this is the time I look back and think about everything I've read this year and narrow in on one particular book that really shone for me. And it's hard this year. There are a lot of great possibilities, like Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races (actually, I may have read that late last year, but I can't quite remember... either way it's fantastic) and This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers; there were a lot of exciting second or third installments in series I love; quite frankly, I read a ton of good books this year.

But I've managed, somehow, to pick one. And here it is, my book of the year.

by Carol Rifka Brunt

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.
(Summary from Goodreads)

If you haven't read this, please do. I don't think I've ever loved and hated a protagonist in such equal measure. I bawled my eyes out. Just sayin'. 

Did you read anything this year that really sparkled for you?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

My Top Writing Apps and Tools

There are a lot of 'Best Apps' posts out there, and a lot of those posts are devoted to the best apps and digital tools for writers, specifically, but I thought I'd have a go at making one of my own anyway. Partly because a few of my best-loved apps never seem to feature on any of these other lists, partly because I get a silly giddy feeling when I download a cool new writing/bookish app and I want to share, share, share!

I won't make an exhaustive list here, because I'll just run on forever, but here are some of my favourite apps and tools for writing and/or bookish people.

1. iA Writer

App. I love, love, love this app. I wrote virtually the entire first draft of my most recent synopsis using this. This seems to be Apple/iOS only. Its beauty is in its simplicity. There's no messing about with fonts or settings or formatting. There are no options. You open it and you write. That's it. For someone as obsessive-compulsive about fonts and how things look as I am, it's remarkably restful to be forced to just get on with it.

2. Scrivener

Tool. There is, alas, no iOS or Android version of this yet. 

I tried this out for the first time only recently. And promptly wondered how I'd ever done without it. You can use this to write, but I use it to outline. Much as I love notebooks and pens, I'm also a sucker for Post Its, corkboards, pinning things to corkboards, and visual representations of my notes, and Scrivener gives me all those things (minus the tactile pleasure, of course, but honestly I hardly miss it!). I can make character sketches, create little corkboard notes for places and chapters, move things around and have my actual content move around too, and probably a whole host of other things that I haven't quite gotten to grips with yet! It's amazing. 

Note: you do have to pay for it, but you can try it out for free for 30 days and, if you don't like it, can export all your content before the trial expires.

3. Dropbox

App and tool. This is like having a suitcase hovering above you, weightless, unnoticeable and unobtrusive, but it's there when you need it and you can dip into anywhere. It's a handy-dandy way to store and back up all your important files and, most importantly, to be able to open them on any other device on which you've downloaded and installed the Dropbox app. You have an account, you can access it from virtually any computer as long as you're connected to the internet, and all the content stored in your account syncs across all your computers, phones, iPads, iBrains (I'm pretty sure we'll have those instead of real brains one day...)

4. Evernote

App and tool. It took me a while to get Evernote, mostly because I had a bunch of other apps and notepads that did separate, individual things like allow me to make voice notes, checklists, take photos and label them, etc. Evernote kind of makes those other apps redundant. It does it all. Record ideas like a voice memo, take photos, tag locations, make checklists, write notes, file everything in themed digital notebooks - it's all there. And, like Dropbox, you can use and sync your content across all kinds of platforms and devices. 

5. ColorNote
App. I don't use this anymore, because there doesn't seem to be an iOS version of this (at least not last I checked), but I loved this app when I had an Android phone. It's a little like Scrivener and, while it doesn't have most of the tool's cool features, you can use this app on your phone. If you love sticky notes, as I do, you'll love this. It arranges all your notes via color-coded Post Its. You can create notes with plain writing or have checklists. And - my favourite bit of all - you can add one of your notes or lists to your phone's home screen (I used to do this with my To Do list) and it looks just like a little sticky note stuck to a surface!

Do you use or love any of these tools? Do you have any favourites to share? Tell me about them!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Me, Elswhere. And Cats...

Life and writing have once again got on top of me, so just a quick one today. I'm very excited to be part of Michelle Sedeño's blog feature celebrating debut authors of 2012 (that's me! Yes! I'm one of them!). Her interview with me is up here, so go check it and the other author interviews out - we're giving stuff away!

(Side note: I'm alone at home right now. At least, I think I am. But I'm hearing mysterious noises. Creaks. And scrapes. It's most peculiar. If I were imaginative I'd say a half-destroyed zombie was dragging itself across the floorboards in the hallway...

...lucky I don't have an imagination, eh?)

And books! On the one hand I feel like I have tons of books in my reading queue. On the other I feel like there's nothing I feel like reading right now. Anyone have any great recommendations to share?

(PS. So, the noises. Not a zombie. A cat got in. I rescued it and sent it home.)

(PPS. OH MY GOD. Speaking of cats! Have you seen this live stream of a family of kittens? GO! GO SEE!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Five Random Things for November

1. Is anyone else watching The Mentalist this season? And is anyone else growing extremely weary of the fact that in four and something seasons they still haven't got hold of Red flippin' John? Just get rid of the loony, please. There's only so many melodramatic twists and dead daughters and we-killed-him-whoops-it-wasn't-him-oh-noes moments I can put myself through.

And I'm still angry about the fact that the show does not do red herrings well. A good red herring tricks you and when you realize you were wrong, you're like oh, I see. On The Mentalist, a red herring is sly, and slips in, and makes you think aha and when you find out what's really going, it leaves you with no explanation whatsoever. (Yeah. I still want to know why, two seasons ago, Bertram was quoting the same William Blake poem Red John did - and why that potentially OMG moment turned into nothing.)

(If you know nothing about The Mentalist, none of the above will make any sense to you. It's okay. A lot of it makes no sense to me, either, and I've watched pretty much every episode.)

2. On the bus the other day, I overheard this

BOY: You know how girls wear knickers, right?
GIRL: What, you don't wear underwear?
BOY: Yeah, but yours are tight-fitting. You know? So do you think they're supposed to be, like, a bra for your bum?

3. I saw Skyfall at the cinema last night. So, so good. (And just as good was getting a babysitter and getting out of the house, just my husband and me, without the baby for a while! We really don't do that often enough...)

4. The weather is ***t. Really. And much as I get the dismals on a dreary day, in some ways it sometimes feels worse when there's a bright day. It's like you look out of the window and it's all sunny and bright and shiny, and you think hooray, the sun's out and it looks so gloriously warm and I can almost feel it on my skin, and then you go out in a T-shirt, and you practically die on the spot. Because it's effing freezing.

Yeah. The sun lies.

5. And speaking of good red herrings, I really do love Agatha Christie.

Anyone else seen Skyfall recently? Are there other frustrated used-to-be-Mentalist fans out there?

And most importantly of all, do you think underwear is just a bra for your bum?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Where I Live

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I moved here two and a half years ago and I still haven't written a post about where I live! So here's that post.

I live in Norwich (which is pronounced Norritch and is in the county of Norfolk, for those of you who don't know the UK). It's tucked away into the eastern bumpy part of a map of the England. It's a city, which means almost everything you'd want or need is right here, but it's also a small city, which means it never feels like I'm about to be smothered by crowds or crushed underfoot on public transport. It's old, which means plenty of lovely cobbled alleys, medieval streets, and ancient bridges, and it's only a forty-minute drive to the sea in three different directions. 

Sometimes it does feel like I'm far away from a lot of things (for instance there are only a couple of theatres and it's not often I want to go see whatever is on; and it's two hours on the train any time I want to visit my UK-based agent or editor in London), and that not much happens here, but most of the time I love being here!

And the thing I love best about Norwich is that it's beautiful. Plenty of parks and rivers tiny hills and woods in the city, and gorgeous countryside just outside it.

Our house kind of overlooks this. Envy me.

The city is also due to become England's first UNESCO City of Literature, is home to the University of East Anglia and the reason I mention this is because the university can boast some impressive (literary!) alumni. Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go) and Ian McEwan (Atonement) have all been and studied here, which I think is pretty cool and totally justifies me hoping that I'll absorb some bookish talent from the air. (Seriously. I moved here out of convenience. And turns out the city is literary! Freaky, right?) 

(Actors Matt Smith (Doctor Who), John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings) and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean, Coupling) also went to UEA, and I love them, so WIN!)

So there you go. This is where I live. And before I leave you, here's one of the best places in the city.

That's the Forum. It has a lovely little cafe, BBC East, a Pizza Express... and my favourite library.

(Note: I was about to post this when my husband, who loves football, somewhat irately reminded me that just because I'm not into sports does not mean they don't exist. Sorry, Steve (and other football fans!). Norwich is also home to Norwich City, a Premier League football club. Which I knew. Obviously. I just... kind of forgot to mention it.)

What do you love most about where you live?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Go Look at: the United States of YA

Okay, I'm officially terrible. One week into my new schedule and I'm already late! I'm sorry!

To anyone who may be struggling with Sandy, I hope you're all okay.

Today I want to show you this incredibly awesome map made by and posted over at their blog. If you read any YA at all (or write it!) you'll really love this one. It's a map of the US in books! I'm reposting the picture below (and yes, I do know it's virtually indecipherable but consider it a teaser. I couldn't get it any bigger without making it too big for Blogger!), but the original is over at so do pop over and take a proper look - and if you like it, show them your love.

They're also putting together a Planet YA map (and right now EpicGirl's got The Lost Girl earmarked for India, yay!) so head over if you have any suggestions for young adult fiction in any country!

What cool things have you discovered this week?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

I've been gone a long time...

Well, that blog holiday was practically a gap year. I'm not going to go into why I've been away for weeks and weeks, because it's all long-winded and dismal and boring, but I will say I'm now back (yay!) and have lots of exciting things to talk about in the next few weeks. Plenty of amazing books to recommend, movies and TV to force down your throats, and maybe I'll scrounge around for the odd cute baby photo or two. Because we could all do with a little more cuteness in our lives.

I'm also going to start posting here once a week (on Tuesdays) unless I have something special or exciting to say. It's not that I don't love blogging, but I feel like I'm not doing it as well as I'd like to and I'm hoping that giving myself one post a week will make that one post a better one.

And so, to tide you over till next Tuesday, here are a couple of movies I've recently seen and loved... 

What to Expect When You're Expecting 
I was always going to watch this, given I was pregnant and had a baby not all that long ago, but it's surprisingly and refreshingly fun!

Harry Brown 
Gritty and dark. And it's got a vigilante Michael Caine. (I know! Alfred gets to be the superhero!) What's not to love?

And this isn't a movie, but I recently started watching ITV's Doc Martin. I'm most of the way through the five seasons already. It's absolutely brilliant.

Seen anything good recently?

Friday, 7 September 2012

A blog holiday...

After the craziness of the TLG Blogpalooza and Pub Day, I find that I have a lot of catching up to do with other parts of work and life. So I will be off the blog for a couple weeks. Back SOON, though!

Hope everyone's autumn has kicked off in style!

Friday, 31 August 2012

...and the winner is

At last! Today I announce the winner of the TLG Blogpalooza and the bag of LOST GIRL goodies. YAY!

Just to remind you, here's what the winner gets

Which is

a signed, annotated copy of THE LOST GIRL
THE LOST GIRL bookmarks
a set of Eva's Post-It notes
stickers with the Mark on them
temporary tattoos of the Mark (maybe)
a Sangu pen
and a little wooden elephant,
all bundled up into that bag.

So I added up all the entries, punched numbers into, and and the winner is


Congratulations, Julianna!

Happy Friday, everyone! And thank you all, again, for all your enthusiasm and support over the last few weeks. I wish I could pick tons of winners.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

It's PUB DAY!!

...I really don't know what else to say. I mean, really. What can I say? I've been waiting for this day for a very long time and now it's finally here. I'm not even going to try putting how I feel into words, it would just be a mess.

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

THE LOST GIRL is out in stores today. Find out more and read the first chapter here. also has an awesome Browse Inside feature for the book if you want to check that out! You can buy the book online at (click for the links)

Today marks the end of the TLG Blogpalooza and is also the last day you can possibly comment or enter the giveaway. So any entries coming in after tonight won't be counted! The winner will be announced on Friday.

I also need to say a few thank-yous. First to Steve, my long-suffering husband (who would also like me to tell you that he's very handsome and very clever), because he was the first person to ever read THE LOST GIRL, the first one to tell me it was something special, and the one who made me keep writing it when I (almost) gave up. And, of course, because he makes me eat when I forget to. Second, to my agent Melissa Sarver, for believing in the book, and in me, and for being so flippin' awesome at selling it! Third, to my editor Sara Sargent, who read the book and wanted it, who has promised to go to a bookstore and tweet me photos of the book, and who helped me make THE LOST GIRL the best it could possibly be.

And finally, I think I really owe the biggest thank you to all of you. For all the comments, and reviews, and emails, and tweets, and support, and love. You're all fantastic.

Okay. That's the mushy over.


Friday, 24 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Character Interview

It's the final LOST GIRL teaser post! Gosh, the last five weeks have flown by, haven't they? Next week will be release day and the day I announce the winner of the giveaway. Jump in and enter if you haven't already, it's not too late!

A character interview today. I decided to interview Matthew, one of the three Weavers. He wrote the encyclopaedia from this post. This isn't the first time I've tried to interview Matthew, by the way. The last time I did, it didn't go particularly well. Yet, for some reason, I chose to embroil myself in that mess all over again. Hoping, optimistically, that it would yield better results this time.

You'd think I would know better by now.

SANGU: Look, let's just get this over with, shall we? I want to be sleeping and you want to be off doing something clever and mysterious and probably criminal. So we needn't hang about longer than we have to.

MATTHEW: A wee bit snippy, are we? How delightful. I do so enjoy giving up my time for someone who hasn't even brushed her hair.

SANGU: That is not true! My hair is just... unruly. 

MATTHEW *snorts*

SANGU: I need teasers. Give me a teaser. Or two. Please. It's for the blog.

MATTHEW: Eva dies.

SANGU: I said teasers, not spoilers! And certainly not LIES!

MATTHEW: I don't believe in spoilers. I believe in knowledge. I know everything, you see, so I feel other people should at least come close to being similarly equipped. But very well. If you're going to be a tyrant, I will cease to spoil and to lie. Someone dies. Actually, two someones die. Is that good enough for you?

SANGU: Do those things happen because of you?

MATTHEW: Charming. Everything is always my fault, isn't it? No. Neither death is because of me. Well, actually, if we're going to be philosophical about it-

SANGU: We're not. So you can stop right there, Matthew.

MATTHEW: Sir Matthew.

SANGU: Don't start that with me.

MATTHEW: You're a real hoot today, aren't you? About as cheery as Adrian. That baby still keeping you awake at night? You know, you should have taken my advice about how to deal with the little-

SANGU: Yes, I should have. And then you and I would be in prison. Forever.

MATTHEW: You might be. I know people in high places.

SANGU: Keep this up and I'll put you in prison.

MATTHEW: You can't do that, love.

SANGU: I created you. I can do whatever I want.

MATTHEW: And yet it's unacceptable when I use that very same logic on precious Eva?

SANGU *shuts up very quickly*

Yeah. I really, really should have known better. But at least we got one thing out of it, specifically the


Two characters will die.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Thank You for the Music


So, that title. Yeah. I am cringing, if you were wondering. Quoting ABBA in a blog post title has to be my lowest point thus far.

And can you kneel before the king
And say 'I'm clean, I'm clean'?

-Mumford and Sons, 'White Blank Page' 

I've never made a secret of the fact that I need music to write. It's like a magic wand, music: it can set a mood, define a scene, inspire a whole emotion. Sometimes I use instrumental, movie-soundtracky stuff. Sometimes it's a pop song. It varies and THE LOST GIRL's playlist was no exception. Some songs define a character's relationship with someone else (usually Eva with someone else). Some songs fit a character's thoughts at that point in the story. Some songs kind of even tell you what's going on (like the lyrics I used above this paragraph). Well, they do a little. Whatever they do, they all have one thing in common: they helped me shape this book.

I've had the playlist posted on my website for a while now, so that's nothing new. But I'm going to repost it here today because, like Friday's word cloud, it teases.

  1. Francois-Paul Aiche – Chimerical Dream
  2. Michael Jackson – Beat It
  3. Plumb – In My Arms
  4. Coldplay – Fix You
  5. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way
  6. Florence and the Machine – Rabbit Heart
  7. Snow Patrol featuring Martha Wainwright – Set the Fire to the Third Bar
  8. Madonna – This Used to Be My Playground
  9. Lenka – Trouble is a Friend
  10. AFI – This Time Imperfect
  11. Damien Rice – 9 Crimes
  12. Adele – Set Fire to the Rain
  13. Declan Flynn – Ease My Pain
  14. Death Cab for Cutie – Soul Meets Body
  15. Oasis – Stop Crying Your Heart Out
  16. White Lies – Farewell to the Fairground
  17. Trading Yesterday – For You Only
  18. Jessie J – Nobody’s Perfect
  19. Snow Patrol – Run
  20. Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
  21. Adele – Someone Like You
If you know any of these songs, you're already one spoiler up! They're arranged in order, to match the book, so it's almost like a story in songs. Oh, they won't give a whole lot away, but they will give you hints about relationships, about the mood, and about what may or may not be happening at that point of the book. Hopefully it'll drive you crazy trying to figure out what each one really means.


“Where are you?” I ask her. “You haven’t really gone, have you? I had this idea that I might be free if you were dead. But I’m not free, you’ve managed to trap me anyway. I’ve got to live your life and be you better than you ever were. Are you laughing? You’ve done it, you’ve died but you’ve stayed. You must be laughing. . . .”

And, just in case you missed it before:  


Friday, 17 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Word Cloud!

I'm going to skip my TEASE OF THE DAY today, because this post is going to be one giant tease. Enter: a word cloud.

Word clouds are, quite simply, awesome. Not only are they fun and pretty, but they've been incredibly useful for me. A word cloud taught me that I use the word just way, way, way too often when I write. I still do, but at least I've caught and removed some of them since.

Most importantly, though, they make an incredibly fun teaser.

Here's one of my favourite scenes from THE LOST GIRL. Full of spoilers, heartbreak and a whole lot of other things, it's also one of the most important moments in the book. And I'm giving it to you now.

In a word cloud.

It's also not too late to start entering to win stuff, so if you haven't had a look at the Blogpalooza page yet, go on over.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: A Little Bit Whimsical?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I'm very pleased to say that we have over two hundred entries into the giveaway already. Many are multiples, of course, but it's still very cool!

Now onto today's post:

I get asked about the inspirations and influences behind THE LOST GIRL all the time, and I thought it was about time I talked about the latter. I've mentioned FRANKENSTEIN several times, which isn't surprising considering that's the story I stole the bones from and went on to add my own flesh (not literally) to. And, of course, as the book's inspiration, it's certainly influenced it. 

But I'm not going the FRANKENSTEIN route today. Instead, today's teaser is going to be me talking about what you can expect from the book; basically, talking about two people (well, their work) that influenced not what story is, but how it's told.

Tim Burton
I'm going to say this just once and then resist the urge to gush like a fangirl: I love Tim Burton. (I also love Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter too, incidentally, so when you throw the three of them together (as they often are), it's like Christmas for me.) I love (almost) everything he's ever done. And when the first little twiglets of THE LOST GIRL started sprouting in my head, and Eva started talking to me, it was Tim Burton I thought of. 

Think about Edward Scissorhands (which probably owes a great deal to FRANKENSTEIN too!). A sad, lonely boy with scissors instead of hands, created almost from scratch by the man he considers his father? That's creepy, but cool. Whimsical. Eerie without being grisly. And think about Corpse Bride. An awkward young man accidentally marries a sweet dead girl. It's sad, touching, eerie. 

I guess that's what I wanted to create with THE LOST GIRL: something eerie, something sad, something whimsical. (I don't know about how well I succeeded, if at all. That's for you to tell me.)

Daphne du Maurier
I talk about her all the time, so if you're a frequent visitor to the blog, you may well be sick to death of be going on and on about how much I love some of her books. They're full of some of the most beautiful, lyrical, poignant, gorgeous writing I've ever read. I don't think I could never write as wonderfully as that, and truthfully I wouldn't want to copy anyone else's style, but I will say that that's where my love of reading (and writing) beautiful words has come from.

Also, almost all of her books (that I've read) have made me cry. I didn't deliberately set out to make anyone cry when I wrote THE LOST GIRL, but I did want readers to feel the way I felt when I read Frenchman's Creek or The King's General. I wanted them, quite simply, to feel.


No quotes today. Instead, the most beautiful things arrived last week, and we're two weeks from pub day, so I just had to show them off instead! 


Friday, 10 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: The Eva Tour

A lot of THE LOST GIRL is pure invention. The Loom doesn't exist (that you know of, anyway). Echoes don't exist (ditto). The characters don't exist (I can't believe I just wrote those words. Egad.) So, you know. Fiction is lies and all that. But some of it, some things, are real.

Months ago, I talked about going up north on holiday, visiting my old university (Lancaster) and taking photos of places that feature in THE LOST GIRL (mostly the Lake District). Well. In today's teaser post, I'm taking you on a tour of the book - well, of some of the real-life places in the book. Ordinary, sometimes lovely places. Places you can actually go to, were you so inclined.

And, even more significantly, something important happens to Eva at/in each of these places. Maybe it changes her life, maybe it's purely emotional, maybe it's a moment that marks a turning point in her relationship with someone else.

Of course, I won't be giving you any details. Just this photo

and me, telling you what those pictures are of.

A coffee shop (in Bangalore. Coffee Day is a popular cafe chain in India)
Lancaster Rail Station (northwest of England)
A lake in the Lake District (again, the northwest of England)
Covent Garden tube station (London. Disclaimer: this one is a real place, but a loose image of a landmark moment in Eva's life. The moment actually happens about half a mile from here.)
Crossword (Bangalore again. It's a chain of bookstores in India.)
Windermere (the town. Again a slightly loose image, because the key moments happen to Eva in more specific places than The Whole Town, but this picture was as close as we were going to get to reality.)

Maybe, when the book is out, I'll have a contest. Match the Picture to the Moment. What do you guys think?

But if you want to win a signed, annotated copy of the book and other fun stuff in the meantime, don't forget to enter here!


'You've always been our monster,' says Adrian. 'Don't ever forget that.'

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Sara's Side of the Story

We've discussed my knack for sad alliteration before, so let's ignore this particular example, shall we? 

Today you're going to want to tune in, blogosphere, because we'll be hearing from Sara Sargent, of Balzer + Bray, who worked as editor on THE LOST GIRL!

I'm so happy to have her here, so thanks for stopping by, Sara!


A Labor of First Love

As an adult, your “firsts” grow fewer and further between. Long gone are those days of first dances, first kisses, first loves. But two years ago, I was given the most precious first in the life of a young editor: my first acquisition.

THE LOST GIRL—then titled Woven—came to me from Melissa Sarver at Elizabeth Kaplan Literary. I read this manuscript in a matter of days, quickly passed it along to my team, and set up a call with Sangu within the week. Back then I was an Editorial Assistant who had only been acquiring for two months when THE LOST GIRL crossed my desk, and it was the only manuscript I’d read that I could see myself editing. I felt about this novel the way I have felt about few novels since: it was beautiful, it was stirring, it was epic and romantic, and I knew I would be heartbroken not to get it. And because there was interest from other editors, that was a very real possibility. Sangu had already wooed me, and now I had to woo her with my incisive editorial insights and the general sparkliness of my personality. Now, I never asked what made Sangu choose me as her editor; I believe it’s one of those industry mysteries better left unsolved. I do remember, with startling clarity, when Melissa called to say that Sangu had decided to publish with Balzer + Bray. I burst into tears. All I could say was “Really?” over and over; surely Melissa questioned her client’s decision in that moment of my utter inarticulateness. But there was no questioning the wonder of what I had just accomplished—not only for my career, but also for the career of this young writer whose life she had just inextricably tangled with mine. Needless to say, the next two days involved a lot of champagne.

We put THE LOST GIRL on our Fall 2012 list, which meant that we had eleven months before the manuscript was due to Copyediting. Over the course of those months, we went back and forth as she sent in revisions, I sent back notes, she sent revised pages, and I sent back more notes. Oh, and somewhere in there, Sangu had a baby. Not to mention that one of my favorite writers, Lauren DeStefano, offered to blurb; I was as excited about that blurb as Sangu was about her newborn child. Sangu and I fell into a kinship inspired by our mutual love of her novel and its story and characters (coughSeancough), but also by the fact that this was new for both of us. I couldn’t wait to see the final cover art or the book’s case or the galleys, and she couldn’t wait for me to show them all to her.

And now here we are. Mere weeks from pub. Just waiting until those buxom bound beauties hit my inbox and, from there, shelves across the country. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I finally hold one in my hands. I imagine that I’ll burst into tears once more, then smile, then perhaps continue to cry. Never again will I have the unique pleasure of seeing my very first book for the very first time, and I don’t intend to waste that moment. It’s the best first in a line of luminous firsts that originated with Eva and Sangu’s desire to tell her story. I don’t know what the future holds for many things in my life, but I do know that this book will forever occupy a place of immense joy, and for that, I wish it everything as it goes off into the world.


*sniffs* Okay, so maybe her post made me a teeny bit teary. DON'T JUDGE ME. I'm only human. Follow Sara on Twitter (@Sara_Sargent) for more awesomeness.

Now please excuse me while I go stop a baby from eating a phone charger...


The first chapter of THE LOST GIRL is up on my website! Click over for the teaser. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: The Imaginary Cast

So, this post was originally supposed to be me answering the fun hypothetical: if someone made a LOST GIRL movie and asked me who to cast (I know it ain't happening, but this is imaginary, remember!), who would I pick?

...only I have absolutely no idea who I'd cast in over half the parts. Like, nothing. I suppose, ideally, I'd want a complete unknown playing Eva/Amarra, Nikhil (Amarra's brother), Sasha (Amarra's sister), Ray (Amarra's boyfriend), Lekha (who is awesome), and pretty much a whole lot of other people. So, given I've got virtually nothing, I'm abandoning the imaginary cast idea and am, instead, making Team Buttons!

(If you're confused, my Team Buttons are pretty much your way of proclaiming eternal love for the face on the button. I've had a lot of emails and Twitter messages declaring the sender's love for certain characters, so here's my way of thanking you for that. No, they're not prize pieces of art. I have no doubt other people could make far better buttons, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

Team Sean

Currently the reigning favourite. And after months of thinking there was no one in the world I would pick to play Sean, I FOUND HIM!

That's Jeremy Irvine, of War Horse (the movie) fame. Granted, he may already be a tad old for the part, but this is imaginary. Also he shares a name with my son, and I don't come across many Jeremys, so I think it's meant to be. (And I can't be sure, but I think he even has Sean's green eyes.)

Team Ray

A reader called him '[her] hottie Hamlet' in an email, which made me laugh for practically a whole day, so while Ray isn't (yet) as popular as Sean, I thought he deserved his own button.

You may have noticed he's distinctly lacking a face. He has no face because I don't know who I'd cast! But feel free to adopt the button and add a face of your choosing!

And a surprise favourite:

Team Matthew

He's not young and romantic. He's not even one of the good guys. But he's had his fair share of admiration. I'm fairly certain my editor Sara, anyway, would demand to be president of Matthew's fan club if such a thing existed.

YES! Another Jeremy! Is this magic or what? (That's the totally amazing Jeremy Irons, if you didn't already recognize him.)

So read the book, pick your favourite, and take a button, any button...

(Boys: sorry. I realize this is a very girl-centric post. I promise this will be THE ONLY ONE!)


One of the book's most important characters never actually appears on the page.

PS. A massive, ginormous thank you to all of you for the LOST GIRL-related comments, tweets, emails and support. It's been amazing and I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it! Don't stop now, though: you still want to win stuff, don't you?

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

TLG Blogpalooza: Interview with Agent Melissa

I find it scary that with each post, and week, we get closer to THE LOST GIRL's pub day! Eeeek. I'm giving stuff away, though, so if this is your first stop, go over here or to the TLG Palooza page to find out what I'm giving away and how to enter.

I'm VERY excited today. I have Agent Melissa with us (she doesn't know that this is how I refer to her, always, but I do. But if you must know, her real name is Melissa Sarver and she's my agent (I know! Cool, hey?). She's with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency and she's here with me today to tell us about what she does, what she likes, and why she wanted to rep THE LOST GIRL/me.)

Hi, Melissa! Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

But, Sangu, don’t you know everything about me already?  Oh, ok.  I’m a literary agent and have been with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency for 6 years after a brief 3-year stint as an editorial assistant at a women’s magazine.  That was not for me.  I moved to NYC 11 years ago after college in Boston and more than a few internships at magazines and newspapers.  I knew as soon as I started working in book publishing that I had found my “home.”   I enjoy being on the agency side of the business because I can essentially choose the types of projects I work on.  I’m never going to inherit a project someone else took on and left, the way editors often have to.  I represent fiction and non-fiction, so in any given day I’m working on a cookbook, a YA novel, a memoir, etc.  It keeps my job very interesting.  What else do you need to know … I am a musical theatre nut and spent much of my life (age 3 – 22) in a ballet studio.  I love food (but hate the word foodie) and do a fair amount of cooking and baking at home, and eating out at some amazing restaurants in NYC.  I love French and Italian wines that aren’t fruit-forward but a bit dusty and earthy (hint, hint).   Moving right along...

I think we were meant for each other. I love musical theatre! And food! Okay, I can't cook, and I don't know anything about ballet, and the only wine I like is ginger wine... huh. Um, yeah. So what’s an average day like for you?

Hectic!  I think most people have an image of me loftily reading manuscripts all day but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  All that reading is done at home at night or on the weekend.  I like to say I have homework for life.  During the day I’m on the phone with authors and editors, I’m answering emails, I’m vetting contracts, I’m having lunch with editors and meetings with clients or potential clients, I’m occasionally reading queries (though most of this happens at home also), I’m emailing our foreign co-agents to alert them about the exciting things going on with our books, and probably 10 other things I’m forgetting to mention here.

I love words like 'clients' and 'contracts' and 'foreign co-agents'. They make me so happy. (That's me, guys! I'm a client! ME!) And speaking of clients: what made you want to represent THE LOST GIRL when you saw the original manuscript? (obviously apart from the fact that it’s the best thing ever…)

The voice grabbed me instantly, which is priority for me.  Overall the story spoke to me because there are cool fantasy elements but it’s a character-driven story. And that character, despite her special circumstances, is a typical teenage girl dealing with many of the same identity issues as all teenage girls.  That’s what was appealing to me but that I also thought would be appealing to readers, that teenage readers could instantly relate.  I also loved the settings of London and India, as I really enjoy reading about other cultures and places and you don’t see that enough in YA lit, in my opinion. 

A lot of people seem to like the book's settings! What’s one of your favourite—and somewhat spoiler-free!—lines from the book?

“I brought milk,” I say.

And I love when Mina Ma tells Eva she hopes her other dies:
“But if you replace her, you might be safer. So if only for my sake, child, hope this happens.”
“I won’t wish for her to die!”
“Then I will wish it,” she replies, ruthlessly, “Because I don’t know or love her.”

I think Mina Ma is my favourite character, if I do say so myself. THE LOST GIRL was hugely inspired by Frankenstein. What classic do you wish you could have represented?

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN; I adore that book and re-read it every few years.  Makes me cry every time.  I also love Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN.  It’s a family saga and big juicy soap opera.

I haven't read either of those books. Is that sad? I think it's sad. But YAY! That's two more for the To Read pile. And finally: name two things you’d take to a desert island. (I know the standard form of this question asks for three things, but as I’m assuming a copy of THE LOST GIRL would, naturally, be one of them, I’m only asking for two.)

My eyeglasses because I am practically blind without them … but if those are on my face already (yes, they are. I'm not that cruel)… I’m bringing Alice Waters’ cookbook THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD because we’ll need to eat and I can’t for the life of me ever remember how to make a simple roast chicken without her guidance.  And probably my iPod (assuming there is electricity).  I think life without books and music isn’t really worth living. (So true!)

Yay! Find out more about Melissa at the EKLA website or on Twitter (@mjsarver). Huge thanks to her for that awesome interview. And huge thanks, too, for giving me today's


“I brought milk,” I say.