BBC Young Writer’s Award 2018 & short fiction extract from Tabitha Rubens

Hello all!

Apologies for the quiet over here — I’m currently typesetting and polishing up 3 of Cups Press’ second anthology On Bodies. But I’m popping back today because I get to share something really exciting with you.

As you may know, I’m really into short fiction. I’m always on the hunt for fresh new voices for anthologies I work on, and meaty new collections to dive into. In fact, I did a post at the end of last year detailing my favourites, and those I was really looking forward to.

As such, I’m particularly fond of the BBC National Short Story Awards as they always introduce me to new voices or names I’ve seen floating around that I’ve always thought “yes, I need to read their work”.  This year, the thirteenth year of the awards, was a pretty tremendous one, because there was an all-female shortlist line up, collated in this handy pocket-sized book.

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Alongside from the main award is my personal favourite, the BBC Young Writers Awards. Open to writers aged 14 to 18 years, this year they saw a whopping 962 entries! There is a huge wealth of talent and passion in our teen population, and this shortlist always demonstrates some of the best and brightest. This shortlist this year has been phenomenal — impassioned stories of mental health, loss, desperation, and a desire for change.

I have the immense pleasure of sharing with you today an extract from Oh Sister, Invisible by Tabitha Rubens, a 16 year old writer from Islington in London. Oh Sister, Invisible is a poetic story of helplessness as a sister watches her sibling struggle with anorexia. A story of grief, and of courage, it is intensely personal and conveys the unique power of writing to convey empathy an experience. 

As such, please be aware this excerpt references eating disorders.

 

 

***

 

I was always sure my sister was woven from golden thread.

I was merely yarn.

She could stop the breeze with a fingertip and catch sunlight in her fists.

One warm summer night of a distant year, she dragged me from my bed and we climbed out of the bathroom window. With one hand on the drainpipe and the other gripping hers, I pulled myself after her and stretched out on the terracotta roof. We watched the fireflies circling the moon and decided what to be when we were grown.

June Solstice arrived and my sister filled my palms with honeysuckle flowers. She taught me to tease the string of nectar from the pale yellow petals and drop the sweet elixir onto my tongue. Dreams are made of such sweetness.

When the weather turned, and rain drummed across the ceiling, I’d play the piano so that I could hear her sing. My sister could sing as if the notes were alive; as though the crescendos were rushing through her blood and the symphonies reveling in scandalous secrets, unveiling their enigmas in a flurry of sound.

When my sister sung, the whole world stood still.

In mid-July joyful melodies filled the house: Italian love songs and the occasional musical ballad. But at the dawn of August, her preference diverged to tragedy, and her voice would waver in mourning, and break apart as she choked upon each accelerando. By September, her grief grew until she forced herself to settle on silence.

On Halloween I brushed her lips with indigo ink and plastered Titanium White over her prominent cheekbones. A skeletal silhouette stared back at me.

 

***

The winner of the awards is announced on the 2nd of October at the awards ceremony, beamed right into your ears via Front Row on BBC Radio 4, and the winning story will be made available in full on the BBC Radio 1 website.

In the meantime, check out the other extracts here, available to read or listen to. You can find out more about the awards and follow them via Twitter using the #BBCYWA hashtag.

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The BBC Young Writers Award 2018 is in association with Cambridge University and First Story. First Story was started in 2008 by the writer William Fiennes (author of The Music Room and The Snow Geese) and former teacher Katie Waldegrave (author of The Poets’ Daughters) with the mission of changing lives through writing. First Story exists to bring talented, professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities to work with teachers and students to foster confidence, creativity and writing skills. Since 2008, First Story has run almost 400 residencies in schools, given 8000 students the chance to take part in weekly creative writing workshops, worked with 400 acclaimed authors and 500 teachers and librarians, published almost 400 anthologies, and enabled over 140,000 pieces of original student writing. More information here.

The Essential YALC 2018 Guide

Here you can find out about early copies, proof giveaways, swag and fun activities at each publisher stall at YALC — you can find more information about signings, panels and workshops on their website. Keep checking back before YALC starts on Friday as there are still publishers we are waiting to hear from, or follow me on Twitter to find out when I’ve updated it.

This list was created thanks to help from Jenn at Jenniely and Lydia at Silver Wolf Reads, whose blogs this list is cross posted on. Special thanks to Jim from YA Yeah Yeah who made last year’s guide and was happy for us to go off to make this one.

For official YALC info, you can find the daily schedules here: Friday // Saturday // Sunday.

Want to add anything to this list? Email me at hux.sewmanybooks@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter.

Early Copies

Please bring enough cash for books at publisher stalls as they often do not have card machines — Orion, Harper360, HQ, BKMRK, Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, My Kinda Book and Abram & Chronicle have confirmed they will have a card reader. Ink Road, Usborne, Scholastic, Atom Books, Andersen Press and Walker Books have confirmed they are cash only. Be aware that internet signal in YALC is unreliable, so card readers at individual publishers stalls may fail. It is recommended that you get cash out before you come to the show, as cash machines have long queues. There are several in the small shopping centre at Hammersmith Piccadilly and District line tube station (by the McDonald’s) and at the station at Kensington High Street.

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K Arnold. Andersen Press stall.

Show Stealer by Hayley Barker (sequel to Show Stopper). Waterstones stall.

The Island by M. A. Bennett (sequel to STAGS). Hot Key Books stall.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes by Holly Bourne. Waterstones stall. Take proof of purchase to Usborne stall to get some goodies, or you can email proof of receipt to kindness@usborne.co.uk.

Dark Queen by Josephine Boyce. Stall A6, labelled “Josephine Boyce” on YALC map, but is actually a stall of multiple indie YA authors. Go say hi!

The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess. Waterstones stall. Bring your proof of purchase to Andersen press to claim a free copy of Junk, Doing It or Bloodtide.

Vox by Christina Dalcher. Harper Collins stall. Early exclusive hardbacks.

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Walker stall.

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin. Chicken House Books stall.

Bright Ruin by Vic James (third book in Dark Gifts trilogy, released day before). My Kinda Books and Waterstones.

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch. Hashtag Reads stall.

Giant Days by Non Pratt. Waterstones stall. Exclusive reusable coffee cup from the Abrams & Chronicle stall with receipt showing purchase.

Colour Me In by Lydia Ruffles. Waterstones stall.

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager. Waterstones.

My (Secret) YouTube Life by Charlotte Seager. My Kinda Book stall.

The Hurting by Lucy van Smit. Chicken House.

Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. Walker stall.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Waterstones stall.

It Ends With You by S. K. Wright. Atom Books stall.

Special editions

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (signed copy, film edition). BKMRK.

New Special Edition of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Walker stall.

Signed copies of The Extinction Trials and The Extinction Trials Exile by S. M. Wilson. Usborne. On general sale and there are competitions to win them.

Proof & Finished Copy Giveaways

In light of the accessibility issues raised in proof giveaways last year, it appears that most publishers are doing raffles for proofs. We will add any specific tasks alongside the proof information as we receive it, though you may need to ask at the stall for this information where not noted below. Remember, there are often a limited amount of proofs so consider only turning up for copies you really want.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. 10 copies per day will be given away to people who have purchased a book from the Hashtag Read’s stall, chosen at random.

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. Harper Collins stall at 11.30am on Friday. This will be operated through raffle, get there on time.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. My Kinda Book100 copies available on Friday at 11am.

The Caged Queen by Kirsten Ciccarelli (sequel to The Last Namsara). Orion stall. Giveaways on Friday.

Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon. Win early finished copies at the Usborne stall. 25 to give away. Winners announced 5pm each day, on Saturday by Mel Darbon herself.

Izzy and Tristan by Shannon Dunlap. BKMRK. Saturday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox. Harper Collins. 4.30pm on Saturday.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Hot Key Books stall. 5 copies to win over the weekend.

The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Chicken House stall. Win copies through their competition.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Egmont/EMT.

Pages & Co by Anna James. Harper Collins. Raffle tickets given out from 12pm on Saturday, and will close on Sunday afternoon when they will announce the winner.

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes. Penguin Random House stall. 15 proof copies of will be dropped every hour on the Friday, via a raffle draw.

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. Harper Collins. Sunday 11am, exclusive early bind-up giveaway.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Bloomsbury. Simply post a picture of you using our A Curse So Dark and Lonely Snapchat filter on twitter using the hashtag #BreakTheCurse and we will pick 10 winners!

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. BKMRK. Friday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway on Friday.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway on Saturday.

The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange. Faber & Faber. Can be won at the stall.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand. Harper Collins at 3pm on Saturday. This will be operated through raffle, get there on time.

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo. Abrams & Chronicle. 25 copies available every day between 10-12.

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu. BKMRK. Sunday, giveaways between 11-12 and 3-4pm.

Killer T by Robert Muchamore. Hot Key Books, available on Sunday.

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. Andersen Press. Saturday and Sunday: Enter to win by joining in with our No Fixed Address quiz. Five winners will be selected at random each day.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Hodder. Proofs to be given away throughout the weekend.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti. Hot Key, be in with a chance to win by tweeting the trailer to win a copy (check the stall for timings).

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. Harper Collins. Competition/giveaway of the proof on Sunday.

Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. Atom Books. Daily giveaways.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Saturday 28th July, 2pm people in the signing queue will be given raffle tickets. Samantha will then be drawing 2 x winning raffle tickets for a proof giveaway and Bloomsbury will contact the 2 winners to come to the stand to collect their proof.

Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria. Abrams & Chronicle. 25 copies available every day between 3 and 5.

You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance. Hot Key Books stall. Roughly 20 copies available to giveaway. Tweet us your YOLO moment to win, six copies a day to giveaway.

The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth. Chicken House. Competitions to win a copy.Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton. Hodder. Proofs to giveaway throughout the weekend.

The Girl King by Mimi Yu. Orion stall. Giveaways on Friday.

 

Samplers and Fun Stuff at the Stalls

Some samplers are available freely, whereas some you can win at the stalls; check at the individual stalls to confirm.

A6, Indie authors stall:

  • Free bath bombs with book purchase, limited to first 30 sales.
  • Wunderkids 2 bookmarks.

Abrams & Chronicle:

  • Samplers of Stain by A.G. Howard. Win on their stall through a lucky dip — pull a purple flower out of the box to win.
  • All books discounted by up to 25%!

Andersen Press: all paperbacks £5, hardbacks £10.

Atom Books: Samplers of Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville, Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner and of a currently unannounced project.

BKMRK:

Bloomsbury:

  • Competition to win your very own Harry Potter House Common Room print signed by Levi Pinfold. Simply post a photo of yourself with your Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets House Edition with the hashtags #HarryPotter20 and #YALC on twitter or Instagram for your chance to win!
  • Friday 27th 1pm — 5pm: free Sarah J. Maas Nail Art in the communal area of YALC with two professional manicurists. Take your nail design from the book covers on offer – A Court of Frost and Starlight, A Court of Wings and Ruin, A Court of Mist and Fury or A Court of Thorns and Roses. Limited availability, sign up at the Bloomsbury stand via a sign-up sheet as soon as doors open on Friday.

Chicken House:

  • Party to celebrate the publication of The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin, 4pm Saturday. There are a limited number of goodie bags for people who buy a copy at this time.
  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave will be signing books from 12.30 on Saturday at the Chicken House stall.

Egmont/ Electric Monkey:

  • Samplers of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.
  • Holly Jackson will be available to sign proofs and samplers Friday at 11.30-12.00 and 15.30-16.00, Saturday at 10.15-10.45 and 14.30-15.00 and Sunday at 12.30-13.00 and 14.30-15.00.

Faber & Faber:

  • Samplers of The Curses (sequel to The Graces) by Laure Eve
  • Opportunity to win short story sampler Tales of Sand and Sea by Alwyn Hamilton at 2pm Saturday and Sunday followed by signing.
  • Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton tote bags and t shirts can be won at the stand
  • In Paris With You competition for a copy of the book and other goodies
  • Laure Eve will be at our stand to sign copies of The Graces on Saturday at 12pm

Firefly Press:

  • Three Strikes by Kat Ellis, Lucy Christopher and Rhian Ivory.
  • Kat Ellis will be on the stand to sign copies of Three Strikes and chat on Saturday 28 July from 12 midday.

Hashtag ReadsAmy McCulloch will be on the stall to sign copies of Jinxed on Saturday at 12.30pm

Harper Collins (one stall for Childrens, HQ, Harper Voyager & 360)

  • On Friday at 3pm, there will be a raffle based giveaway where you can win one of 50 Alice Oseman signed prints.
  • Friday at 2pm: VOX Jumper and Hardback Giveaway
  • On Saturday, there will be a Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth print giveaway
  • Charly Cox framed poem/photo giveaway on Saturday, 1.30pm.
  • Sunday: Fantastic Beasts super prize raffle
  • Samplers of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (sequel to Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue) by Mackenzi Lee; Fierce Like a Firestorm (sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire) by Lana Popović

Hodder: Running several competitions to win a mammoth book bundle, a set of Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares proofs, and a Jasper Fforde hibernation pack! Check at the stall for details.

Hot Key Books

  • Alexandra Christo will sign To Kill a Kingdom on the stall 10-11am on Saturday.
  • M. A. Bennett will sign copies of STAGS and The Island 12-1pm on Saturday.
  • To Kill a Kingdom themed siren makeovers on Saturday 10-2pm. Check the stall to book a slot.
  • Samplers for The Wicked King by Holly Black and The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge samplers available on stand
  • Hot Key will be running the book swap stand again!

Ink Road: Samplers of Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

Interlude Press: 

  • Author Julia Ember will be signing sneak peeks of her new book The Navigators Touch, the sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss.
  • All books will be discounted!

My Kinda Book:

  • Friday, from 2pm a chance to win Floored Converse.
  • Saturday 12-2pm, Children of Blood and Bone inspired lip looks with MDM Flow; from 2pm Children of Blood and Bone cupcakes and discover your maji clan.
  • Sunday: from 10am, Ash Princess lucky dip.
  • Sunday: 1-3pm Vic James (Dark Gifts Trilogy) signing, followed by afternoon tea with Vic.
  • Double sided sampler of Muhammed Khan’s books, featuring I Am Thunder and their forthcoming release Kick the Moon.
  • Samplers of Enchantée by Gita Trelease.

Orion:

Penguin:

Scholastic:

  • Samplers of Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard; A Storm of Ice and Stars (sequel to a Shiver of Ice and Snow) by Lisa Lueddecke.
  • Original short story in sampler format – Noah Goes Nuclear by Simon James Green!

Stripes:

  • Aisha Bushby will be singing copies of Change book from 1.30pm on Saturday.
  • #ProudBook cover reveal at 3.30pm on Saturday.
  • Sneak peek pamphlet from Proud Book will be available after the reveal.

Titan Books:

  • Samplers of The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman and Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
  • Pins for A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney

Walker: Samplers of Dry by Neal Shustermann

Usborne:

  • Friday: Kim Curran will be holding a ‘Slay your demons workshop’ and will be available to sign copies of Slay afterwards on the UsborneYA stand.
  • Sunday: Will Hill, YA Book Prize winner, will be signing copies of winning book, After the Fire, following his appearance.
  • Sunday: All attendees of Holly Bourne’s origami workshop will receive a #KindnessIScontagious goodie bag. Help Usborne spread the Kindness virus — visit the UsborneYA stand to find out more on the Sunday.
  • Free posters with sample chapters for The Extinction Trials, Slay and Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?
  • Paperbacks are 2 for £10, or sold at RRP.

New releases from Walker Books to look forward to

Since my blog and poor internet connection conspired to swallow this post in the recent past, this is two weeks later than it was supposed to be. But ho hum, technology full of weasels can only get me down for so long. I was very lucky to get a spot at the Walker Books young adult preview evening for 2018. You might have caught my live tweets during the evening, but I thought I’d go into more detail here about the books in order of release date.

Settle down, because this is a multi-media presentation including several high quality book trailers. Fancy. Okay let’s go!

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First up was How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, pitched as Mean Girls meets The Craft. The Salem witch trials takes the centre stage in this teen drama, plus creepiness and swoony romances and I am extremely here for this. We were reliably informed that it includes an inconveniently attractive ghost. Here’s the summary:

Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

Also it has a book trailer with surprisingly high production value, which is wild; you can watch it here. I’m fully expecting to enjoy this, based on my deep love for The Graces by Laure Eve. You can find out more about Adriana Mather herself in this intro video.

Buy How to Hang a Witch: Hive // Book Depository

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Next up was Scythe by Neal Shusterman; digital networks in place of government control life except death, which is in the hands of Scythes. The only way to die is to be gleaned by a trained Scythe. When two teenagers are chosen to be apprentice Scythes, they learn that their final task will a fight to the death. This sounds absolutely wild. I’m really lucky that Walker Books sent me a copy of this after the event, and it turns out this is the start of a series, with Thunderhead coming out in August. My immediate vibe from this is it would be really enjoyed by fans of The Bone Season or perhaps Gilded Cage. And look, another book trailer!

Buy Scythe: Hive // Book Depository

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Landscape with Invisible Hand from M. T. Anderson continues the sci-fi theme but, slightly unusually for YA, is a novella. The story follows benevolent invasions by aliens like granite coffee tables, mixed with a lot of strange humour and explores art truth and colonisation. After the invasion goes south and Adam is left poor, he and his girlfriend Chloe decide to create a pay-to-watch tv show of 1950s style dates.

Buy Landscape with Invisible Hand: Hive // Book Depository

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We’re also being treated to some cute recovers this year! To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy and film deal, Walker have released these stunning completely black covers. I’ve not read this series yet (I know, I know) and I’m so glad I get to start with these stunners now.

The Knife of Letting Go: Hive // Book Depository

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Walker have also started releasing the Magnus Bane short stories by Cassandra Clare in these cute little individual hardbacks. So far they’ve released The Midnight Heir and The Course of True Love is out this month. They’re a really cute size, pocket sized really, and would make a great gift for Cassie Clare fans. I only just started reading her books last year, but beautiful queer Magnus is basically the reason I read them.

All of those are already out, so now it’s time to get hyped for the future releases!

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Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughran has been on my radar for the last few months, simply because queer romance is what I’ve been waiting for in the recent trend of circus themed books. Twins Birdie and Finch Franconi are stars of the trapeze in their family circus, but when Birdie has an accident, Hector Hazzard joins Finch to form a boy-only double-act to save the business. And of course, emotions happen.Set in Northern Ireland and discusses homophobic bullying, alongside trying to save the family business and discovering secrets. Excited for some queer romance, lads. My hands were shaking a little when I found this in my bag because it sounds so great.

Preorder (publishes 1st March): Hive // Book Depository

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Next is a book I’ve not heard a lot about yet, but am excited to read. The Goose Road by Rowena House is set in 1916 in France. When Angélique hears news of her father’s death on the frontlines, she promises to keep her family farm running until her brother returns from the war. But in order to keep the promise, she will have to journey across France, accompanied by a flock of geese. The Bookseller have described it as “Gorgeous historical novel … An impressive debut with a tenacious heroine.”

Preorder here (publishes 5th April): Hive // Book Depository

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Slightly dodgy picture of the screen but this is the UK cover

Coming in May ready for to be your poolside read is The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson. Originally published in the US, The Wonder of Us follows two best friends, recently separated when one family moves to Germany, who reunite to travel Europe… though they’re pretty mad at each other right now. This immediately makes me think of Keris Stainton’s One Italian Summer and Remix by Non Pratt.

Preorder here (releases May): Hive // Book Depository

I did a shriek when the next book got announced — no cover art to share just yet as it’s too far in the future — but the sequel to Girl Out of Water is FINALLY coming this summer. I absolutely loved Nat Luurtesma‘s first novel about Lou, a former swimmer who coaches a team of boys in synchronised swimming for a national tv competition. Lou Out of Luck follows Lou and her family struggling with poverty while she works through her first relationship. Luurtesma’s writing is hilarious and heartfelt, and I am really happy to see more working-class characters in literature.

Preorder here (releases June): Hive // Book Depository

I had the real joy of snagging a ticket to Angie Thomas’ appearance in London next month, where I hope she’ll talk more about her next book, On the Come Up. Thomas’ second novel returns to Garden Heights with a story about an up and coming teen rapper.

Preorder here (releases June): Hive // Book Depository

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And finally, the last book we got to hear about I have already demolished. White Rabbit Red Wolf is a thriller about spies, maths and mental health, from YA author and mental health advocate Tom Pollock. You can read my review of this exciting, brilliant book here.

Preorder here (releases 7th June): Hive // Book Depository

Thank you to Walker for hosting such a wonderful night and providing us with books, drinks and good food — never before have I eaten a spherical chicken kiev, what an experience.

Which books are you looking forward to most?

It’s all about Ruth Galloway

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Or, rather, my week is.

My February in fact has been very much focussed on Dr. Ruth Galloway; insecure, studious, knowledgeable, wonderful Ruth. And gruff DCI Harry Nelson, out of place and missing Blackpool. Not to forget Cathbad! Oh my favourite Druid! Yes, guys. One of the main characters is a druid.

On March 1st in the Compass Theatre in Ickenham, I will have the great pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Elly Griffiths about her books, particularly her amazing Ruth Galloway series – modern and ancient crimes blended with in depth archaeological knowledge and fascinating histories.

Roman burial sites! Salt marsh henges! WW2 mysteries! Murdered curators that have something to do with recently unearthed medieval archbishops! And those are only the first four books…

This series has sucked me in completely, with Griffith’s fantastic character work and mysteries set in a backdrop of sparse Norfolk landscapes. I didn’t know I liked crime fiction beyond my Christmas-time Agatha Christie hit, but this series has changed that. I have yet to guess the bad guys in any of her books so far, which I feel is the mark of a really gripping thriller.

We will of course be talking about her non-Ruth Galloway books as well! Maybe.

I’d love to see you there to hear all about Elly Griffiths and see me completely fangirl at her on stage. Join us!