Category Archives: Ebook

Firebird Radiant

History repeats itself. There is no getting round it. We don’t learn, or perhaps there was never a lot of choice. Things have to be what things have to be.

The final part of Nick Green’s Firebird trilogy is also its strongest. The build-up to where Leo – yes, still here – and the others are, left me wondering what Nick could possibly come up with that would make sense. But naturally he delivers.

Life is hard and the Firebird teenagers are mature beyond what their ages would suggest. Maybe people always rise to a challenge, if they really have to?

I would like many, many young – and older – people to read Firebird. Apart from being marvellously entertaining books, we could learn a thing or two. It’s only by looking at what we are and what we do in such a radical way, that we could possibly stand a chance of preventing the ruining of our world. The only one we have.

Not everyone from book one is still alive, although some people seem to die more than once. Firebird Radiant contains much cruelty and a lot of excitement and danger, as well as plenty of courage. And hope.

While much of the ‘adventure’ is really pretty serious, there is still humour, and romance. And I loved the tiny nod to Jack and the Beanstalk. You need something to smile about when the rest of you weeps.

And I simply must say this. The Firebird Trilogy is beyond fantastic. Nick is publishing it on his own (beautifully edited), as three ebooks, because no publisher has shown enough interest in the books. I know times are hard, but I also know quite how much ‘properly published’ rubbish I wade through every week. Just saying.

Firebird trilogy; get your copies today!

Firebird is finally available to buy! I’ve said my bit – as discreetly as possible – about parts one and two (don’t worry, part three will be reviewed later this week), and now I turn directly to the press release, which says it so much better. Or at least differently. If I hadn’t already read the books, this would sell them to me:

‘The FIREBIRD TRILOGY by Nick Green, publishing in September 2014

“Thoroughly entertaining, exciting, thought-provoking and powerfully written … The characters are many, all individual and lively – their dialogue is excellent, and witty … I loved it. Highly recommended.” (Susan Price, winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Carnegie Medal)

How do you save the world when it’s already too late? Well, don’t ask Leo Lloyd-Jones. Ask him how to steal a car, or why he got excluded from every school in Salford, but don’t come to him for help. This whole thing must be a daft mistake – and if anyone finds out, he’s done for. But Leo is about to find out why he’s here.

Project Firebird is the first book in the Firebird trilogy by Nick Green, all three volumes of which are published simultaneously this autumn. Known for the Cat Kin trilogy (published in the UK by Strident and in Germany by Ravensburger) and for The Storm Bottle (published independently to Amazon), Nick has taken a new direction with this latest series, which begins with the end of the world as we know it.

The saga’s accidental hero is Leo Lloyd-Jones, who after a daring rescue (a case of mistaken identity) finds himself part of an unlikely team: a hand-picked elite of youthful prodigies given the task of preserving civilisation, following a global catastrophe – which is just around the corner.

Sure at first that a yob like him cannot possibly belong with this bunch, Leo slowly comes to a realisation: his lawless nature could be an asset in a world in which there are no laws. Maybe, amid the ashes of the end, the misfit can become the saviour. But not even he can foresee where Project Firebird – a mission spanning hundreds of years, lifelong friendships, bitter enmity, love, heartbreak and freezing oceans – will eventually take him.

Nick: “I wanted to have a go at something big, an epic trilogy of the kind you get in fantasy fiction, but one that was firmly rooted in the real world. The Firebird trilogy is my sort of take on the traditional ‘epic quest’, except that there’s no magic as such, nothing supernatural – just real people in a situation that could theoretically happen, trying to deal with something overwhelming. As dark as it gets sometimes, it’s also a celebration of the human spirit – the ability of our species to come back from absolutely anything, and to keep hope burning no matter what else is lost.”

The volumes in the trilogy are:

PROJECT FIREBIRD, FIREBIRD DAWN, FIREBIRD RADIANT

All three will be available for Kindle from Amazon from 3rd September 2014, priced at £1.99 ($2.99) each. Subsequently they will become available on other ebook platforms.’

That’s not even £6 for all three.

Right, that’s me done. I’m off to see if I can find this launch party.

Nick Green

Firebird Dawn

OMG, as they say, and as I usually don’t. But Nick Green’s second Firebird novel, Firebird Dawn, is quite something. As with the first book, you think you know what to expect, and then it turns out your guess wasn’t far-reaching enough.

At the end of Project Firebird you sort of sit there wondering ‘will they really?’ and you might ponder what kind of scenario an author could possibly go with to follow up on that first ending. You’ll find out.

Leo – yes, he’s still here – will have his work cut out this time round. The others too, and they need to get on, or at least to agree what to do and how to do it.

And in order not to give anything away about either the first or the second instalments of Firebird, I can’t actually say much. It’s about friendship and working with people (which sounds so sensible and boring because you won’t know what I know). It’s about remembering what you have learned and being able to use it.

At times it reminds you – in a vague sort of way – of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and you wonder what will be left to fill the third book. Firebird Dawn features a beautiful love story, treated with such a light hand that it’s barely there. It simply makes you glow happily, and that’s almost the only happy you get.

No, that’s wrong. It’s bleak, but it’s also promising.

I am fairly sure I can promise you a marvellous read. Please buy it. Tomorrow.

Project Firebird

I can’t help it. I like what Nick Green writes. Very much. His books are precisely how you want children’s books to be; exciting and fun, and just that little bit different.

Nick first offered Project Firebird for me to read when he’d finished it a few years ago, and I loved it. But I knew he had edited it substantially, so felt it was best to re-read the new version. Nick is about to publish Project Firebird as an ebook in September, along with its two sequels.

It’s a dystopian adventure, with a twist. We first meet the main character – Leo – in his joy-riding days, in Salford of all places. His actions cause him to end up as one of a group of 25 (ish) young teenagers at a centre in the Lake District. They are there because they have all done a ‘good’ deed. They are different.

Events unfold in a way I don’t want to give away, but let’s just say that the plot changes dramatically several times. When you think you know, expect to be surprised, again.

The teenagers learn new skills and how to cooperate with each other (well, they are meant to) and to prepare for a bad future.

(When the Resident IT Consultant first read the book he asked if it really was all right for adults to do what they do in this story. I reckon it is. It adds to the thrill and the adventure.)

Project Firebird isn’t one of those books where you are dismayed to learn there are two more. On the contrary, you won’t want to wait to start on the sequel.

Stealing and borrowing

Some people put it better than others. That’s why I am borrowing someone else’s words to talk about stealing. Simply because they said it so well.

First it was Nicola Morgan who discovered that ‘pirates’ were offering her ebooks online. She has worked hard to bring them out, so wasn’t terribly pleased to find that people were that keen to avoid paying the mere £2 she’s asking for her books.

Nicola reckons ‘pirate’ sounds much nicer than ‘scummy thief’ and that it’s time we stop thinking of these book thieves as rather loveable pirates. She’s right.

Then came Joanne Harris who discovered her fans tweeting happily about how and where to best steal her books. Except if you use the word download it sounds rather better to those who do it.

She wrote a great blog post about it, and she doesn’t just mention her own – lack of – income, but that of everyone else in the book business, who will not have the money to feed their families or pay the bills.

It’s worth noting, too, that this is the way to lose the publishing business, and anything else connected with it, like libraries. Which is just as well, really, as there will be no books written, that could be published, or that might be borrowed from your local library.

For free.

Marcus Sedgwick on horror and sheds

The Marcus Sedgwick interview is ready for your entertainment today. I wish you could hear Marcus, as well as just read. He laughs a lot and he talks ‘just right’ by which I mean that he is interesting on whatever stupid question someone like me might ask, and he spends time on them, but not too long.

Lagom, as we say in Sweden.

He is someone who has been on my interview radar for years, and it’s mainly coincidence that it was his new adult novel, A Love Like Blood, that caused us to meet and talk (I ‘blame’ the very helpful Kerry at Hodder), which is why I used up some of our ‘adult’ time on talking about his – slightly – younger books as well.

Marcus Sedgwick

And his shed. (It’s not necessary to buy a house that has a good shed. You can actually build a nice shed once you’ve found the house of your dreams.)

Marcus claims not to be obsessed by horror, but he is a man who scares me a lot, through his books. They are the kind of books you read hiding behind the sofa.

Caught mid-cycle

Last week Ebony McKenna told us how she dealt with the problem of her publisher not wanting to publish more than two of four planned books. That’s getting to be a far too common problem. This week Miriam Halahmy has agreed to answer a few questions on what she did when her publisher ceased to operate, just as she was expecting to send her third novel out into the world.

Miriam Halahmy, Hayling Island books

“How did you start? Was it just one book at first, or did you know there would be three?

Hidden was the first Young Adult book I had ever written. Before that I had written and published short fiction and a novel for adults. But half way through writing Hidden, I became interested in the bad girl, Lindy Bellows and decided she needed her own story. This became Illegal.  I decided that I wanted to continue with my novels set on Hayling Island and so Jess, the leader of the posh girl gang, moved forward in Illegal, and then Stuffed became Jess’s story, together with her boyfriend, Ryan. I call the books The Hayling Cycle and my new publisher, Albury Books, would like another. I have a very good idea and so there might be a fourth!

And what about your contract; was that for one book at a time? Did you actually have a contract or agreement that Meadowside would publish the third book in your Hayling Island cycle?

Meadowside loved Hidden and offered me a contract for that book. However, I had written Illegal and had a strong synopsis for Stuffed. They loved Illegal and liked the ideas for Stuffed and so they then offered me a three book contract which I accepted.

When, and how, did you find out that they would not be publishing Stuffed?

In September 2012, a few months after publishing Illegal, I was informed that Meadowside had been taken over by Parragon Books, the fiction list cancelled and rights for all three books would revert to me. I was devastated, as you can imagine.

Had you already written it by then? Did you ever consider giving up on Stuffed?

I had completed Stuffed and was actually working on a new novel. I had no idea what would happen to my Hayling Cycle and whether Stuffed would ever be published.

How did you set about finding a replacement publisher?

I didn’t. I felt realistically that no-one would want the third book in a cycle of three and it was also very unlikely that a publisher would take on all three books. But in June 2013, Simon Rosenheim, the former director of Meadowside, who had left before their demise, emailed me and said that he was starting his own publishing company, Albury Books, and would love to publish my books. Simon came and met me in my home. He was very keen to put the Hayling Cycle back in print, especially as Hidden had done so well. ‘I was so proud when Hidden was nominated for the Carnegie Medal,’ he told me.  He also said that Stuffed would be Albury’s first unpublished book and would showcase what the publisher could offer. I was delighted to sign with my original publisher again and give my cycle a new lease of life.

Did the change delay publication of Stuffed?

Originally Meadowside were going to publish Stuffed in March 2013, a year after Illegal. Albury worked very fast and were able to publish in February 2014, only eleven months later. So yes, publication was delayed, but the end result has been amazing.

How has it been different working with a new publisher on an already established series of books?

Simon was already right behind my books as he was my original publisher. But of course there were different editors, designers, type setters, etc to work with and this was tricky at times. I was used to the way the Meadowside team worked and we had discussed the layout and design of Stuffed already and had a particular vision for it. However, Hannah Howell, Publisher Controller, and Simon worked together so well and helped me to overcome any problems. We all had the same vision. We wanted Stuffed and the other two books to be produced to the same high standard as my previous publisher so that I could be proud to promote my books and also proud to be published by Albury Books. We believe that we have achieved that.

What would you have done had Albury not stepped in? Any thoughts on self-publishing?

I was considering publishing all three as e-books. I was also looking into companies that simply printed back lists for established authors. But I have to say that my heart was not really in this because I knew how hard it would be for Stuffed to get noticed this way and very difficult for me to reach my audiences. I am very relieved that Simon contacted me and set up Albury Books.

I gather you have lots of events about to happen this year. What sort of events, and where and for what age group? What do you talk about; the books, or the kind of society that caused them to be written in the first place?

Miriam Halahmy

Yes, I have had a sudden wonderful resurgence of interest in Hidden and as a result have been invited to schools in Paris and Frankfurt. Also Hidden has been chosen by IBBY Ireland  to feature on their website for International Children’s Day, April 2nd, as an example of multi-cultural issues in children’s books. Meanwhile, with Stuffed coming out, I have about 20 invites to schools, festivals, colleges and universities. At an author event I talk about my books, give a reading and I have adapted some of my scenes into drama scripts which the students are very keen to read out. I encourage debate, group discussion and question and answer. My books cover some of the most contentious issues in our society today and there is always a great deal to discuss.

Do you have plans for your next book yet? Can you tell us about it, or do you feel it’s better to stay quiet until a book is finished and ready to go out and meet its readers?

In the past year my book, Meet me Under the Hitler Tree, about a Far Right street group influencing a Sixth Form college, has been under submission. No takers yet and so I have written a new book with Home at its heart and that is currently being redrafted. I have an idea I am researching and will let you know as soon as I have some news.”

I’m very relieved Miriam found a solution to her problem, and that we have more books to look forward to. (Might be a good idea to buy one or several of her Hayling Island books, just to encourage her new publisher?)