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Lindsay Galvin, author of The Secret Deep: “Boys Will Be Boys”

I’m very pleased to welcome Lindsay Galvin, author of The Secret Deep, to Queen of Contemporary today! Lindsay has long been a friend of mine and it’s been wonderful watching her writing career blossom over the years. She’s always been very open and honest about both the hardships and successes she’s had whilst writing, and is a much-needed voice in the YA community.

Over to you, Lindsay!

Boys Will Be Boys

One of my favourite characters in THE SECRET DEEP is Sam Banks. The story is dual narrative, told from the point of view of fourteen year old Aster and sixteen year old Sam, but it wasn’t always that way. Sam’s storyline was added later during edits. These two characters have different threads, which intertwine so you never see the same action from two points of view, but Sam’s quest becomes equally important to Aster’s in perilous ways.

I am a feminist and continuously aware of male and female representation in films, books and especially my books. I don’t want to see any more inequality and damaging representation, but there’s still such a long way to go especially in the movie industry. Many YA books are trailblazers in combatting this.

Creating women and girl characters as multi-faceted and complex as they are in real life felt natural. I still found myself slipping into tired stereotypes, but I was vigilant and made sure I edited them out. I wanted to include rich female friendships and family relationships, a variety of motivations, realistic flaws and struggles. Aster driving the action of her story came quite naturally and her character developed over five years. But what about adding a new boy into the mix? I certainly didn’t want him to save the day, or save her. Cue Sam.

I think it’s fair to say moody and mysterious heroes are common in YA and teen storylines. I’m a big fan of hilarious @broodingYAHero and the way it explores stereotypes – some of which I have loved reading just as much as I adore a love triangle. But I have often wondered where the ‘good lads’ are (that’s how my dad would describe Sam and the boyfriends I had he didn’t hate). These boys are out there already; I had brilliant writers such as Sarah Barnard, Patrick Ness, Rainbow Rowell, Non Pratt, and many others to inspire me.

When I wrote Sam, I needed a ‘good lad’. I decided what I didn’t want him to be and I started from there:


Sam does not have:

  • A mysterious past.
  • Emotional issues that can be solved by a girl.
  • A need to arrive at the last moment to save the day.
  • ‘Bad Boy’ personality traits with a good heart.
  • Tendencies to brood.
  • Excessive bravery or a sacrificial personality.

As I wrote my way into Sam, he felt very real to me. He’s flawed, but not in a way that a girl needs to fix, he’ll learn his own lessons. He’s got a serious lack of judgment at times because he’s sixteen and I throw some very weird stuff at him. He is both indecisive and reckless, but not without noticing it and freaking out. He’s brave but not without being understandably terrified. He loves his family above everything and is in awe of the girls that he recognizes are a lot braver than him. He notices girls are attractive but that isn’t all he notices about them. He never takes the lead at the expense of a girl and that’s exactly the way he likes it. He’s got a dry sense of humor.

What I hope above all is he feels real to readers.

Can you tell from the aesthetic I also think he’s very cute?

THE SECRET DEEP is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Connect with Lindsay on Twitter: @lindsaygalvin

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Guest Post

Top 5 Feminist YA by Holly Bourne, author of Am I Normal Yet?

42 Am I Normal Yet - Front cover




Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in a trilogy about a group of girls who set up their own feminist campaign group called ‘The Spinster Club’. I think YA gets a bad rep when it comes to feminism. So many people keep bleating out the dreaded words ‘Bella’ and ‘Swan’ – like Twilight isn’t a) TEN years old, and b) Not the only YA book out there. In fact, YA have LOADS of incredibly feminist books, and here are my top 5.

1) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Most people know E C Lockhart for her haunting We Were Liars, but I have to say I actually preferred this book. Frankie is very much in love with her new boyfriend, but she can’t understand why she isn’t allowed into his secret boys-only club at their top private school. So she infiltrates it…

Why it rocks:
Frankie is the very definition of ‘kick-ass’ – you spend the entire book wishing you could be her. This book has incredible insight into the thirst of power, the complexities and contradictions of being a teen feminist who also wants a boyfriend. A top-notch quirky teen feminism manifesto!

Favourite quote: “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.”

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Guest Post

Samantha Shannon on the BBC YWA

bbcnssa2014_prizesWhen I was fifteen years old, I started my first novel. It wasn’t a particularly good novel, and fortunately it was never published — but it was a product of my uncontrollable need to write. I was lucky enough to discover my passion at an early age, and I wrote around every obstacle that stood in the way of my pursuit of it: GCSEs, A-Levels, UCAS applications, stress, and the need for human teenagers to get some sleep every once in a while. It wasn’t until I was nineteen, several years later, that I wrote ‘The Bone Season’, which was published in 2013. Although that first book never saw the light of day, it taught me a lot about how to fit writing in to my life, how to format a manuscript, and how to tell a story.


This year, the BBC and reading charity Booktrust have teamed up to create the BBC Young Writer Award to seek out young writers with a passion for their craft, whether they’ve been writing for years or have never put pen to paper before. If you’re a writer aged 14 to 18 and living in the UK, this is a fantastic opportunity to get your work read to the whole nation on BBC Radio 1. All you have to do is send in a short story of up to 1000 words on any subject. Entries will be judged by presenter Alice Levine, author Matt Haig, and me. As a judge, I will be looking for experimentation and courage in the entries — whether that’s in the mixing of genres, unconventional styles and voices, or an original and unpredictable plot. Here are four tips to help you get started.


  1. Don’t be afraid. It can be daunting to look at an empty Word document or a blank page, but think of it as an exciting prospect. This is raw material to be shaped purely with your imagination. You can create absolutely anything on this canvas.


  1. Make time. As an author, you often hear “I’d love to write, but I don’t have time”. If you really want to write, you’ll find time here and there. Whether it’s scribbling a sentence in your lunch break or squeezing in a couple of paragraphs before you sleep, there will be moments in your day when you can set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.


  1. It’s not too weird. Books are doorways to new worlds, new ideas, new ways of thinking. You don’t have to confine yourself to what’s been done before.


  1. And finally, trust your gut. Literature is incredibly subjective; there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to tell a story. Constructive criticism is great, and you might want to share your writing with someone to get an opinion on it — but remember, it’s your story, and nobody can tell it like you can. Follow your own instinct first.


samanthashannon_200_200The deadline for entries is 5pm (GMT), Wednesday 25 February 2015. For more information about the BBC Young Writers Award, please visit –

Blog Tour Guest Post UKYA Uncategorized

Keren David on UKYA Extravaganza | Guest Post

Blog Tour Button Picture

First it was a conversation on Twitter about why American YA books were higher profile than British ones. A hashtag was born – #UKYA. A website followed, and then the magnificent bloggers got on board.  #UKYAchat (thank you Lucy!) trended on Twitter.

There were new blogs, count downs, special projects. Last year there was YALC, which wasn’t strictly UKYA, but featured many British authors. The Bookseller has set up a new prize to celebrate UK (and Irish) YA and I am completely over-excited to be on the shortlist.  There’s a YA event for schools in Scotland, organised by author Kirkland Ciccone.

And NOW there is a new thing. An exciting thing. A thing for all of us. All the inclusiveness and friendliness and, who knows, maybe one day even Patrick Ness (see what I did there) of UKYA is coming to a bookshop near you.

Of course I’m talking about the UKYA Extravaganza. The brainwave of authors Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass (you are superstars) and the wonderful events manager at Waterstones Birmingham High Street it’s an afternoon of readings and signings and much socialising on February 28th. I’m very excited to be taking part, alongside 34 other authors.

The event sold out in just a few hours – wow! –  but don’t worry. I’m pretty certain this is just a beginning. I’m already hearing plans to stage UKYA Extravaganzas all over the UK.

We need events like these, because UKYA still doesn’t get the attention it needs in order to thrive. In the US, YA gets reviewed and read by adults as well as teenagers. Here, all too often, YA is labelled as ‘children’s books’ and hidden away in a dusty corner.  UKYA needs to be visible and mainstream, and appeal beyond a narrow age-banded market. Events like the Extravaganza help to do that.

Best-selling adult author Robert Harris called for more coverage of books on TV, this week, attacking the BBC for its poor coverage of books. A UKYA books programme on a mainstream channel is probably too much to hope for, but I’m already excited about the book bloggers taking to YouTube, and I predict we’ll see more YouTube action this year. Maybe someone could make a film about the UKYA Extravaganza?

Today Birmingham, tomorrow….you tell me!

Will you be attending UKYA Extravaganza in Birmingham?

Guest Post

Blogging from a non-blogger’s perspective – Guest post by Becky.

Today Becky is on the blog, talking about blogs from a non-blogger perspective. I love this post so much, and love Becky even more. 

I never really knew about blogs before I met Lucy, but when she told me that she had one I looked at it and I loved reading it. After a while I read more book blogs and I loved them just as much! When I finally got twitter I found some amazing new book bloggers!

Some people probably don’t see the point in reading blogs as they may not feel that they get anything out of it but there are so many good things that come from it:

You find out amazing new books to read, although this can become a problem as my TBR pile is way too big!

You find awesome people to fangirl with about books that you all love! It’s great to be able to tweet people and share your love of books together!



You develop a wider knowledge about books which makes you appreciate them so much more. Before reading these blogs I never knew about how books were published. When you know about all the hard work that goes into publishing them it makes you respect the people who put in all that hard work more!

If you’re not a book blogger, like me, but are still interested in reading then it’s a great way to share that love with other people and book blogs are also really interesting to read. There are so many benefits and the blogs aren’t just for other bloggers, they’re for everyone, whether you are an author, blogger, publisher or you just like reading!

If you would like to follow Becky on Twitter, you can do so at @beckycooke54

Blog Tour Guest Post UKYA

Countdown to 5th June: Kim Slater on the cover of Smart


Revealing the book cover process between author and publisher


UntitledOne thing that everyone seems to really love about Smart is its beautifully illustrated cover. It really stands out and serves as an excellent representation of the book’s content.

When I first got my book deal with Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB), my agent told me they were going to give the book an iconic cover. And boy, didn’t they just?

The amazing illustrator, Helen Crawford-White did a fabulous job as did the entire art department at MCB.

But the final version was the result of a rigorous and fairly lengthy process and began as a pooling of ideas between myself the author and my MCB Editor, Rachel Kellehar.

Publication date for the book is 5th June 2014 but the cover process began way back in June 2013, when Rachel emailed me with a Cover Dialogue. This was basically where we both discussed our ideas and impressions that could be moulded into the beginnings of a vision for the cover.

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Guest Post Uncategorized

Embracing My Inner Geek (15) – Les Miserables by Eileen Li

Embracing my Inner Geek

Embracing My Inner Geek is a feature created by me in the hope to show you all the geeky side of me. 

I’d like you all to welcome Eileen to the blog today! Eileen is one of my best blogging buddies and I love her blog to pieces. She’s one of the funniest people I know and I really hope you enjoy her geek out over Les Miserables today!

HELLO PEOPLE OF LUCY’S BLOG! Okay, so Lucy invited me to her blog to talk about something of utmost importance: Les Misérables. Yes. The longest running Broadway production, coming back onto Broadway March 2014. It’s also my future workplace, of course. You’re looking at the future Eponine of Les Mis. Exactly.

 But that’s not why I’m here, to wax poetic about how I’m going to be apart of the production one day. I am here to regal you all with the amazingness of Les Misérables. (Honestly, I’m kind of offended that my word processor doesn’t recognize “Misérables” as a word, because it is SO obviously a word. Also, Eponine isn’t a word, which annoys me so much. Luckily, I have just added it to my dictionary, so there is nothing to fear!

 Ah, getting off track. I love Les Misérables for two very important reasons.

 One: the music.

 I could go on and on and on about the music, because the songs are so poetic and emotional, and each singer who does a rendition makes it so personal and special. My favorite songs include On My Own (which is one of my favorite songs in general) but I also love I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, and Do You Hear the People Sing? The tune is so perfect and I love how each song builds upon each other and has an obvious progression, and each song helps capture the emotions so well. Les Mis is an opera, which means that there is no dialogue and only singing, so it makes the production really fantastical, but it also works because for each sad moment, the song that’s currently happening makes the entire thing realistic. It isn’t a cheesy opera; it’s so much more.

 Two: the emotion.

 I can cry and cry every time I watch the movie, and the Broadway production is supposed to be even more beautiful and amazing, and I’m making it my goal to go see Les Misérables when it does come back on Broadway. The actors deliver so well and ugh it’s unbelievable how fantastic they are at making something to beautiful and wonderful. Brb sobbing all over again just thinking about the movie.

 I guess that’s all I can really say about Les Misérables. You MUST watch it, or read the book, and you have to cry. If you don’t cry, I don’t think I can be friends with you anymore.

Thanks for having me, Lucy!

Find Eileen: Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Do you like Les Miserables? Are you going to read/watch it after reading Eileen’s post? Let us know below! 

Guest Post UKYA

Emma Pass on the Settings in ACID


I’m very happy to welcome Emma Pass to the blog today! Emma is the author of ACID which is out in the UK  and Spain now and will be out in the US in 2014. ACID is one of my all time favourite books and I can’t stop recommending it. Today Emma is here to talk about the settings in ACID.

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.


It’s the UK, Jim, but not as we know it!

 Deciding to set ACID in the UK was a no-brainer for me. I was born here, and have lived here all my life. Although the majority of dystopian novels around at the moment are set in the US, I wanted to explore what life might be like under a totalitarian regime right here in The UK (known in ACID as the Independent Republic of Britain or IRB). Here are just a few of the places in the novel…


The London of 2113 is a very different place to the London of 2013. Although it is still the IRB’s capital city, it has been divided into three zones – Upper, Middle and Outer.

If you’ve been chosen to live in Upper, you’re one of the lucky ones. ACID (AKA the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence, the sinister police force who rule the IRB) decide everything about everyone’s lives: where you live, where you work, even who you marry. But even though they have to live by ACID’s rules just like everyone else, the occupants of Upper are the IRB’s elite, living in luxurious apartments with an unlimited supply of food and entertainment. They have the best jobs, the best clothes, the latest technology and the highest standard of education. They can drive cars and travel freely.

The inhabitants of Middle London, which is separated from Upper by an invisible electric fence to stop anyone trying to get through without permission, have a lower standard of living. Although comfortable, they aren’t afforded the luxuries people in Upper take for granted. Their houses are smaller and facilities more basic. They aren’t allowed cars, so they use the Magtrams – Maglev trams which are now the only form of public transport in London.

In Outer, which is separated from Middle by the Fence, a giant steel wall, life is tough. Here, food is rationed and often, all that’s available is Sub – Substitute food, made from synthetic protein in a lab. Outer’s citizens are more tightly controlled than in Middle or Upper, too – they have to keep to a curfew and are required to watch their news screens, a screen in every dwelling constantly broadcasting ACID reports, for several hours a day, or risk arrest. Crime is rife, despite ACID’s constant observation, and poverty is widespread. The buildings are run down and overcrowded.


Mileway Prison

A giant ‘super-prison’, built to house thousands of prisoners. If you Google ‘American Supermax prison’ you’ll get an idea of what this place is like… only, it’s worse. Mileway is where ACID’s heroine, Jenna Strong, is sent after being accused by ACID of her parents’ murder, and as the only female inmate, she has to toughen up fast.


Clearford and Clearford Library

Outside London, life is even harder. The capital has been made into a ‘model’ city while the rest of the country has been allowed to fall into poverty and disrepair. Clearford is an fictional town, but is typical of the sort of places that exist outside London in 2113. On every corner is a news screen, spewing ACID propaganda, while spotters – remote, mobile cameras – keep watch over everything and everybody.

Clearford has the last library left in the whole of the IRB, although libraries have all been shut down so ACID can control what people read (via eFics, a type of ebook). It shouldn’t be there at all, but money ran out before the town council could demolish it. Jenna stumbles across it when she’s on the run from ACID, and soon discovers it isn’t as empty as it first appears…



About Emma Pass

Emma & The Hound 2Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, ACID, is out now from Corgi/Random House, and THE FEARLESS will follow on 3rd April 2014. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and dog in the North East Midlands.


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