Tag Archives: Michael Grant

BZRK Reloaded

As I got to the end of Michael Grant’s BZRK Reloaded, I read the quotes from reviews of the first BZRK, and found that some Bookwitch reckoned she’d ‘never feel safe again.’

I can say that again! It’s scary stuff, this, and you don’t really want to stop and think too hard about what it really means, or what might happen in real life. Because I am sure something like this will and can happen, sooner or later. (I’d prefer later, if ‘not at all’ isn’t an option.)

Michael Grant, BZRK Reloaded

Reloaded continues where we left the BZRK team. Or what’s left of the team, anyway. Keats and Plath are safe, and as Vincent is still a raving maniac after what was done to him, Nijinsky is leader of the group.

There is much for the team to do. The evil Armstrong twins are still at it, angrier than ever. Burnofsky has crazy ideas, and the ability to make them happen. Bug Man controls the POTUS (President of the United States).

Meanwhile in northern Finland, a Swedish spy enters the story, and the Royal Navy are not far behind. Send in the marines, that kind of thing. There is a whole world wide web (no, not that one) of evil doings and attempts at undoing them.

A new type of more advanced biots joins the war, and there are developments in the nanobots department as well. You don’t – or at least I don’t – want to read the ‘down in the meat’ bits in too much detail. Wimpy oldies can peer sideways to see what goes on, which is more than enough. The goings-on are gruesome to say the least.

It takes skill to write this sort of thing, making it look simple and effortless. I am full of admiration for Michael’s writing and plotting. I don’t want to look inside his mind, but I love reading his books. This is top notch entertainment for teens, building as it does on the kind of computer games us oldies know very little about. I get a migraine thinking of Bug Man marching his nanobots round people’s heads, and that’s without him being inside mine.

At least I think he’s not.

Some old bald dude

I never thought to scream when I met Michael Grant. Realise now that I was remiss in not giving him the superstar treatment. (I sort of thought of him as just an author. Almost normal. You know.)

Michael Grant

Having had to give Michael a miss this tour because he didn’t come my way (!) I obviously don’t know if he’s changed since we last met. And now I suppose those lovely Irish girls who screamed in Dublin will have ruined him for us sedate types.

It’s been very educational following Michael on facebook for the duration of his two weeks in the UK and Ireland. To start with; he himself is excited. While pretending not to be. He is polite to his fans. He answers their questions, even when he’s heard them all before.

Michael Grant

On the last day of his tour Michael wrote a long comment on facebook about how wonderful it had been with all the attention and the long snaking queues and the sold out empty bookshops he left behind, and all the events. He felt like some kind of rock star, and not just a curmudgeonly, maladjusted loner.

I suspect one reason for that would be that he treats his fans as though he really is. He is self-deprecating. The ‘old bald’ quote are his own words. He thinks we are cool. He almost doesn’t want to go home, seeing how cool we are. But I reckon he loves his wife too much to stay. And he’s always been very open about their romantic first meeting.

But we are cool. So please come back soon, old man. (I’ll even practise some screaming if it will help.)

The rest of you can read Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear and Light. In that order if you please. Then you can come along and assist with the screaming.

Bookwitch bites #105

Do you remember Reading Matters, the new bookshop that opened late last year in Chapel-en-le-Frith? Well, as befits an ambitious shop, they have a variety of events planned, and next Saturday they have ex-Chapel author Bernard Hardy coming to read from his local novel, Savannah Bound. This is an historical novel with its roots in the textile industry, and it’s precisely the kind of book I’d have read prior to my growing tbr pile problems. It’s also the type of book event that should do well, with both readers and author coming from not too far away.

And believe it or not, but through my letterbox the other day, came a sheet of A4, telling me about another local historical novel. Alice Frank has written A Bowdon Romance, which begins in Edgeley, and moves on to Bowdon, and features servant girl Charlotte.

Maybe it’s a recent bug, or it could be that people are always busy writing novels set locally. It’s admirably forward thinking to leaflet houses with what amounts to a home made version of the press releases I see every day. A Bowdon Romance is available to buy at the Book Exchange at Stockport Market.

It’s been a Grant kind of week for books being published. I reviewed Light by Michael Grant yesterday, and the day before was publication day for Silent Saturday by Helen Grant. Both the Grants like to scare and creep us out, and they do it so well. That’s two different kinds of gruesome for your pleasure reading…

Melvin Burgess, The Hit

Melvin Burgess also has a new book out. The Hit. For good measure he has two covers. You can have blue, or you can have red. I got a little confused over this, since I was convinced my copy was green. Or possibly yellow.

I suspect what I am remembering is the green spine. The yellow could be drugs. Or maybe the proof copy. Or not.

Anyway, there are masses of books out there for you to read!

Light

Bloody hell! If you’ll pardon my French.

When Michael Grant called his last book in the Gone series Light, this is not exactly what came to mind. I imagined it would be a slightly more hopeful ending to the ‘adventure.’ We would see the light and understand why and how it all happened. There would be a slow but secure path to the outside and we would cry a little over previous deaths, and all would be well. Essentially.

Hah! Not light, and certainly not lite. SPOILER,

but Michael has gone on a killing spree to make books one to five look like a picnic. One were the characters weren’t always the food.

Gross and revolting (but then I am an adult) and so very, very exciting and so well written that even though we wanted to get to the end, we didn’t really, and why did it have to end? After a while I wondered if Michael had a new kind of book series ending in mind. The sort were there isn’t a single character left.

But, some people did make it. And I won’t name names, but one survivor I was almost never in any doubt about. I felt Michael wouldn’t do that. I kept wondering if he’d take the advice of some fans and get rid of Astrid, who’s been surprisingly unpopular. And Sam, and Caine; why should we expect the main characters to pull through?

Because it’s customary? Michael doesn’t do ‘the done thing.’

And I can only say that adults and authorities are idiots. There were few surprises there. (I happened to read a piece by Desmond Tutu, describing what people no longer seem capable of doing, and how that’s why we have no future. My thoughts immediately went to Quinn, for some reason.)

After all the non-picnic stuff in Light (not to mention some awful actual picnicking) the book ends with the best epilogues I have ever come across in a novel. They are so often nothing but disappointments, but this was perfection.

Michael Grant, Light

I am so glad I didn’t stop after Gone. (But certain images are ones I will attempt to erase from my mind.)

All you need is love.

For anyone who wants to read some of the best pre-Light musings, along with a fantastic review, go visit Cynical. She beat me to it, and she did it so much better. My only contribution was – I think – to introduce her to the books. The she did the rest.

Bookwitch bites #100

For my 100th bite I am donning my gossip magazine disguise, and we are going royal. Admittedly, the combination of authors and royals in the news has been somewhat unfortunate this week.

But all is rosy chez BWB! Earlier this week Nicola Morgan casually dropped the bombshell that she was agonising over what to wear for a dinner at The Palace. She’s in Edinburgh, so that would be Holyrood. I’m not sinking low enough to deal with the garment situation, because I’m all excited knowing someone who dined with the Princess Royal!

‘It was a dinner to spread the word about a charity she’s Patron of, Opportunity International, and I was very impressed indeed by how she spoke about it so intelligently and passionately,’ Nicola said afterwards. It seems everything went well, forks and other implements behaved themselves, Nicola was suitably covered and Hilary Mantel was only mentioned ‘very quietly.’ Ms Morgan ‘found the whole thing really interesting and it was amazing being inside the palace.’

So now you know. The rest of us can only dream.

Further good news is that Celia Rees has won the Coventry Book Awards 14+ category for This Is Not Forgiveness. Well done!

More good news for Michael Grant fans. The last Gone book – Light – will be here in just over a month. So will Michael himself, and Dublin fans will be delighted to hear he is actually coming to Ireland this time. Hang on for more details.

Finally, a big WELL DONE to all of you who bought/downloaded The Storm Bottle last week. Nick has reported back that it was a resounding success, with sales both sides of the Atlantic taking his book to seventh and sixth place respectively, and a lovely fourth place in the free children’s action and adventure category.

The Storm Bottle sales

So you see, pulling together does help!

Do pseudonyms have feelings?

Do they? Well, why wouldn’t they? They are most likely human beings like the rest of us, only using a name that isn’t the one they were born to. We know two names for a lot of writers, like Sam Clemens and Mark Twain. Sometimes a pseudonym is not a secret even at the time of writing, and sometimes ‘the truth’ becomes known later.

Some authors use different names for different ‘products.’ In fact, the book I am currently reading is by a pseudonym. I have difficulty remembering this name, because I once met the author under his real name, and that’s what he used to email me.

Michael Grant decided to use a pseudonym for his children’s books, because he had already done things under his real name, that he felt didn’t go well with young readers. But it’s no state secret that he is Michael Reynolds. (If he is. Maybe that one is another fake…)

Would you expect all pseudonyms to be kept off longlists and shortlists for book awards? Probably not. In fact, having someone you don’t know who they might be on your prize shortlist, could be quite exciting. What if he/she wins? Would they come to the ceremony?

They might. But it’s hard to come if you haven’t been invited. And you weren’t invited because you’re a pseudonym (and they practically don’t exist). It wasn’t that the organisers couldn’t find a way to contact you. (I presume publishers might have an inkling.) They just didn’t try.

It would have been possible, though. Because you only found out you’d been shortlisted when a young fan emailed you about it. Now, how did the fan manage that then? Even pseudonyms have websites and stuff, and ‘contact me’ forms, like ‘real’ people do.

So, it’s just like the birthday party when everyone in your class has been invited, except you. If you’re a novel-writing pseudonym you are most likely an adult and you could contact the organisers and inquire about the when and the where as regards the prize ceremony. Except they don’t have any contact details anywhere. (Not entirely true. I know they are on facebook. But not everyone is.)

I wasn’t able to go to the event either, but the one thing that would have made me really keen to go would have been to meet this pseudonym in the flesh.

The story could have ended there, but by strange coincidence this pseudonym knows someone I know, and discussed it with them. (Let’s call them X and Y.) Funnily enough, Y had also once missed out on this book award, even without being a psedonym. So as well as commiserating with X, Y contacted me, and I in turn emailed X to discuss this further.

X had contemplated travelling to the town where the prize was awarded, to hang out near the venue to see what might happen, but decided against it, sensing it would only hurt to stand outside, wishing you were in there with the others.

I’d say pseudonyms have feelings. And whereas I still don’t know X’s real name, I know X was willing to stand up in public and admit to being X. If only because of the fans who were looking forward to meeting the person who wrote the book they liked so much.

That’s a lot of disappointment for the sake of one measly misunderstanding over a name. Or two names.

Putting EIBF 2012 to bed

Edinburgh International Book Festival

At least here. They have a few more days to go in Charlotte Square, but I shall bore you with some photos. Or infuriate you, because it will make your page too slow to load.

We aim to please.

Reader at edbookfest

This is what it should be all about. Reading. On the spot.

Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan, who so very kindly helped out a Doctor Who fan in distress. Here is a link to what her event was like, courtesy of HG2G. (No, not the hitchhiker…)

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, Bloodhoney

Another thing the edbookfest is about. Books.

Interview room in Charlotte Square

And the ‘interrogation gazebo’ where interviews can take place.

Chris Riddell in Charlotte Square

Stumbling across illustrators illustrating al fresco.

Celia Rees and Sally Gardner

Or being told off for profile photos. Sorry…

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The famous water in Charlotte Square, where it hides underneath the walkways and jumps up to get you.

Michael Grant

Californian authors can’t be too careful, and might as well adopt the local custom of carrying a brolly.

Hopes of a Nation at Edinburgh International Book Festival

The competition Hopes of a Nation in the bookshop.

Mirror in Charlotte Square

I have absolutely no idea why this photo was taken.

Light in Charlotte Square

Tree light.

Chris Close at work

Sitting down on the job.

Gordon Brown

And the MP for Kirkcaldy dropped in. We nearly dropped. But we are almost rested again, and as good as new.

(That was a lie, intended to make you feel better.)

‘Just an average writer’

Those are his own words, because I would never say that about Michael Grant. What he meant was he’s not a literary type. What I meant is he’s not average at all. But I suspect we mean roughly the same when it comes down to it.

Michael Grant

Since Michael’s Edinburgh debut in 2010 he has clearly grown in importance. Accompanied by the lovely Vicki from Egmont, he now had a larger venue and a very long signing queue. Although he was quick to point out all that he is not; teacher, inspirational speaker or role model. He is a writer. Writer. Writer.

I might repeat myself here, and I suspect he did too, because there is only so much variation in background information you can mention. But for all I know, you are reading about Michael here for the first time. He was introduced by the marvellously named Andy Peppiette, who astutely knew we weren’t there to hear him, so he shut up after the intro.

There was a trailer for Bzrk and so much gross stuff about what you see in microscopes that I expected Daughter to walk out. It was the minuscule spiders in our eyelashes I worried about. But all the young men in the audience will have useful memories about what’s on people’s tongues, for when they are making out…

We were a grim audience, with most of us preferring death to insanity, Bzrk style. Michael admitted to freaking himself out with Bzrk, so not much hope for others. Another trailer, for Fear, passively advocating birth control to avoid the ‘worst teen pregnancy you’ve ever seen.’

Michael repeated the experiment from two years ago, to see if children in the audience would kill for a Mars bar. (Might have been a different kind of chocolate last time.) This time they would kill. We have evolved. I blame the sweet looking girl with Drake’s arm. What was wrong with her?

It’s all the parents’ fault. (Michael even showed us a picture of the cute cat, last meal of one of the volunteers.) Bzrk and Fear are both the kind of books that you read all night long, leaving you too tired for school, resulting in bad exam results, making you unemployable and cause you to sleep rough.

He likes work, does Michael. That’s why he reckons he’s most like Quinn in the books, with Brianna being his daughter and Computer Jack his son. But Diana is the most fun to write about. He does very profound, scientific research on Google, and found Perdido Beach by following the California coast until he located somewhere that was right. He even has a photo of ‘the damned mineshaft.’

There might be a film of Bzrk, but probably not of Gone, due to a lack of roles for Will Smith to play. He thinks there is more likelihood of it becoming a television series. Hollywood does not like his talking coyotes, however.

Michael’s favourite book might be Fear, as his editor felt he had ‘gone too far’ with it. But Hunger was very hard work, so also has a place in his heart for having had to be so extensively rewritten. His inspiration is Walt Disney for being so quick to murder parents, but feels he went one better in getting rid of all the old people on page one.

Michael Grant

Questioned on the religious aspects in his books, he replied that people in America are religious, so any book featuring real Americans will have to incorporate different religions. That’s why Astrid is deeply religious.

He makes things up every day. He has no idea what will happen, and does not believe J K Rowling did either. You write your last line, maybe, but then you make everything up as you go.

Michael is 250 pages into Light, and I hope he can continue making stuff up, so we can read the explanations to everything, reasonably soon!

Rain and fizz

Steve Cole

Were you scared? Could you work out that Spiderman was really – only – Steve Cole? See, nothing to worry about.

Steve Cole

Steve came out of his lunchtime event fizzing. So did his Pepsi. All over the signing table. Hence the ‘handy-with-a-cloth’ Spiderman you can see here.

Steve Cole

Most unusual sight. Make the most of it.

We’d heard about the suit. Seeing it was almost better than the anticipation. Didn’t see much of the squirrels, though. Those that weren’t appropriated by the audience had already been stashed into a bag. (And they looked like teddies!)

Let’s see how long we can spin out our last weekend in Charlotte Square. There will be more detailed reporting on events, but the general goings-on come first.

We began by getting the first train out of Stirling, in order to go to Michael Grant’s morning event. It was worth it. Once you’re actually out of bed and dressed and all that, it’s not too bad.

Michael Grant

He had a very long signing queue, but after more than an hour we were permitted to drag Michael behind the tent to the dustbin area for a private photocall.

We hung on for Steve Cole’s signing, having found two well positioned chairs to watch from. I couldn’t help but admire the ‘Cole Mothers’ who were still smiling after over an hour waiting with their children.

Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson sat on her chair for a considerable time, and her ‘Gruffalo parents’ were very patient indeed. Her event was on first, and she was still there, signing away, hours later. Julia’s trusty musician entertained the crowds, and the Gruffalo did his bit.

The Gruffalo

A lovely message came via facebook, with the news that Jenny Colgan – who doesn’t know us at all – had managed to find Daughter a ticket for her Doctor Who talk that evening. It made our day.

Steve Cole

We trailed after Steve back to the yurt, where everyone jumped at the chance of seeing him jump. He jumped for a solid ten minutes for Chris Close while director Barley watched, along with Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Patrick Ness, Melvin Burgess and many more, who happened to be passing.

Found Holly Webb in the children’s bookshop after her early morning event. Very long queue.

Holly Webb

Once things quietened down, we sat out in the yurt ‘garden’ again, until I spied Theresa Breslin and Nicola Morgan and we ran over for a signature in Theresa’s new book, Spy For the Queen of Scots. I made the mistake of telling the Guardian’s Michelle Pauli it wouldn’t rain. Hah.

Peter Englund

Back to photocall with Peter Englund of the Swedish Academy. He was bemused to be getting instructions in his own language on how to turn. In typical Swedish fashion he shook my hand. I suspect that is as close as I’ll ever get to a Nobel Prize. Oh, well.

As we ran to get to his event, we spied Philip Ardagh, so stopped to chat briefly. That’s when he decided to lean on me. Someone will have to tell him it’s not good manners. Besides, the cool red shoes of 2011 are no more. He’s back to black brogues.

Mrs, Baby and Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Philip introduced us to Mr and Mrs and Baby Wigtown, which was nice of him. Apparently they have nine star hotels in Wigtown. (Like I believe that!)

Mr Wigtown and Philip Ardagh

Then we ran on, and after Peter’s event the heavens opened. It’s a most effective way to make people take cover. If they have a cover to take, that is. We really, really needed to go and eat lunch, seeing as it was coming on for five pm, so covered all our techie stuff in polythene, looked at the one umbrella between us, and panicked. All was not lost. In the entrance we found people covered in some delightful white bin liners with the words The Guardian on the front. We bought an Observer and got ourselves two ‘free’ bin bags to wear, and the afternoon was a little drier. So were we.

On second thoughts, we could have sheltered under Ardagh’s beard. Should have.

Post lunch we returned for Daughter’s eight o’clock Doctor Who talk, which she very much enjoyed. A quick chat with Jenny Colgan over signing, followed by a dash for a train.

We are now officially back at Bookwitch Towers.

AAYA 88

Or Authors & Artists for Young Adults, volume 88, as published by Gale, Cengage Learning. It’s a reference book, and as the more astute of you have worked out, there have been 87 volumes before it, and I suspect (and hope) there will be many more after it as well.

Authors & Artists for Young Adults, vol 88

No, I’ve not taken to reading and reviewing piles of reference material, but this came my way four months ago when someone wanted to use ‘my’ photos of Michael Grant. They were really my Photographer’s pictures, and after thinking about it she gave her consent and they chose the ones they liked best.

It took me a while to even work out the publishers were in the US, and once I’d established what kind of book they were producing, I asked if we could see the finished copy, which they generously said they’d send us. It’s not really the kind of book you’d go out and buy as a private individual. The edition is fairly limited and the price is high, so I’m guessing it’s mainly for libraries and similar.

Michael Grant in Authors & Artists for Young Adults, vol 88

But it’s such a good idea, collecting information on people who write for Young Adults, or illustrators. The selection process seems a little random, since it’s not alphabetical, nor chronological. There is an index listing who has been in all the 88 volumes, and in which one.

It’s not your ordinary list of YA people, either. Adèle Geras sits tantalisingly near Mel Gibson and Paul Gauguin. Staying with the Gs we have Michael Grant as well as El Greco and Graham Greene. There are disproportionately more Americans, but in volume 88 we have Matt Haig, and he and Knut Hamsun and Stephen Hawking are close, index-wise.

Jane Austen is there, and so is Mrs Michael Grant, K A Applegate. Walter Dean Myers gets a lot of room in volume 88, which he also shares with Anna Godbersen and Aprilynne Pike and Kenneth Oppel. As you can see, a varied lot of writers. ‘My’ volume has just over thirty names, and I’m guessing the older volumes are similar. Some names are listed more than once.

Michael Grant in Authors & Artists for Young Adults, vol 88

Michael gets six pages in this edition, and unlike some he doesn’t have either his address or his email listed. I suppose it’s up to each person how easy to find they want to be. Since this isn’t intended for the young readers, I imagine contact details are more for people who might want to book someone for events.

It’s a nice idea. You can – probably – never have too much information about what young people want to read.