Tag Archives: Che Golden

Ghost launch #2, take #2

I completely forgot the Mars bar. I’m the kind of witch who gives authors in need Mars bars.

Che Golden and Helen Grant

We launched Helen Grant’s Ghost last night. This was the second Edinburgh attempt, after the snow in March, and this time we were successful. Author Che Golden had mentioned the need for a Mars bar in her reverse psychology sort of invitation to the event on social media the day before. Che was chairing, so clearly felt the need to entice people to come. Online, Helen and Che have been known to call a spade a spade. And worse.

In person, Che is disappointingly polite.

Helen Grant and Ghost

We had a full room at Blackwells, and not just because both Daughter and the Resident IT Consultant came. There were a few authors, like Alex Nye, Joan Lennon, Philip Caveney and Roy Gill. Also a Ghost, except it was just some lunatic covered in a bedsheet, who later turned out to be Kirkland Ciccone gone bananas. And some perfectly normal people.

The bananas were later visible on his shirt, which he’d teamed quite nicely with a sequinned jacket. So while everyone else was also beautifully turned out, no one was quite as bananas as Kirkie.

Kirkland Ciccone

Once the silly photographs had been tweeted, Che went to work with a host of questions. Helen continued the fruit theme by mentioning The Pineapple, where you can stay for a holiday, and the deserted ruin nearby, which is one of the many places to have inspired her.

Helen Grant

She said again how hard Ghost had been to write. The dream would be an agent who reads her new novel immediately, loves it and calls with a book auction offer of £5 million. Helen doesn’t want to write more YA, but prefers to work on traditional ghost stories.

Che reminisced about how on their first meeting Helen took her to Innerpeffray Library, and showed her the leper squint. It’s what she does for her friends, I find.

Che Golden

Che also pointed out that while she has read every single book Helen has written, Helen has not read any* of Che’s. This is possibly not true, but a sign of how they insult each other. I occasionally wonder if I shouldn’t have introduced them, but then, where would I learn such a varied vocabulary?

Helen sets herself an amount of words to be written every week. If she has worked hard, she might get Fridays off. That’s when she relaxes by visiting solitary places, for the atmosphere. She can recommend graveyards.

Philip Caveney and Susan Singfield

And on that cheerful note it was time to buy copies of Ghost and to mingle and chat. There was wine.

Roy Gill

After I’d given Mr Grant a quick Swedish lesson, it was time to go home. Which, is easier said than done on a Thursday, with still no evening trains. We lured poor Kirkland to come along with us, which meant his debut on the Edinburgh trams as well as probably getting home considerably later than he’d have done under his own steam. But we meant well.

*I can recommend them.

Harry hole

I almost sat up in bed in the middle of the night. I’d remembered a few more book suggestions I could make.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am always on the lookout for more child readers. They grow up so fast, and I need more recipients to give books to. I found an eleven-year-old whose grandfather lives in the flat above the Grandmother’s, and have been lobbing bags of books in her direction for some time. She’s a keen reader, and I went so far as to ask for a list of what she normally reads, the better to choose books for her.

Then I thought to make a list of suggestions for her, for books I like so much I wouldn’t dream of parting with them. It was this list I suddenly thought of new additions to, mid-sleep. (Since you ask, Che Golden, Kate Thompson, among others.)

The list already has Philip Pullman and Derek Landy and Debi Gliori on it, along with several other great writers.

And then I had another thought. (Yes, I know. That’s awfully many thoughts for one night.) I take it as read (!) that everyone has read Harry Potter. You can’t not have heard of him. But is eleven too young? Was Harry not on the list because he’s obvious, or because this girl hasn’t actually read the books yet? Or tried them and gave up.

Are we now so far removed from Harry hysteria that not ‘every’ child will read about witches and wizards? Would I be an idiot if I suggested it? Or would I be more of an idiot if I don’t?

Best of 2014

I was about to say that whereas I had told myself I’d go for fewer books on my best list of the year (best books, not best list) this time, it has proved too hard to do. But then I discovered I managed to slim the list last year, so I have a bit of credit and I can let the list swell. Because I must.

Can’t even offer you a photogenic pile of best books, with most of them still hiding in boxes. Besides, one of the best comes on Kindle, and the Resident IT Consultant’s e-reader isn’t the prettiest of things to take a picture of.

2014 was a good year for series of books coming to an end, be it the two-pack type or the trilogy or the ten-pack. I decided not to put those on The List, but I am happy to mention them.

They are Timothée de Fombelle with Vango 2, Caroline Lawrence with the fourth book about Detective Pinkerton, Derek Landy at the end of his ten book Skulduggery Pleasant marathon, Lucy Hawking and the fourth book about George in space, Gennifer Choldenko and the last Al Capone story, Deborah Ellis about Parvana again, Teri Terry’s dystopia had as satisfying an end as you could hope for, Gillian Philip finally finished her faeries in Icefall, and Che Golden sorted her fairies out too.

Helen Grant and Eoin Colfer did beautifully with their second books from Belgium and time travel London, so there is more to look forward to there.

Two authors are standing shoulder to shoulder on my awards stand this year; Michelle Magorian and Nick Green. Michelle for Impossible! and Nick with his Firebird ebook trilogy.

The runners-up are – in no particular order – Ali Sparkes and Destination Earth, Sally Nicholls and Shadow Girl, Cliff McNish and Going Home, Tanya Landman and Buffalo Soldier, Ellen Renner and Tribute, Simon Mason and Running Girl, Carl Hiaasen and Skink No Surrender, Robin Talley and Lies We tell Ourselves.

Thank you everyone, for hours and hours of good company, and please keep up the good work!

The Raven Queen

Just as Che Golden suspected, I can hereby confirm that her book The Raven Queen is the best in her faerie trilogy, set in and around and under Blarney. The first two were very enjoyable, but this one has that little bit extra. I think what it is, is that Che and her heroine Maddy have worked towards a grand finale, and by now both know how to deliver.

It’s good to return to a setting you’re familiar with and people you’ve learned to love, seeing them grappling with a new challenge. In a first novel you don’t know what people can do. By the third book you do, and you can concentrate on wondering how they will do it, and not if.

Che Golden, The Raven Queen

Maddy was sent away to live with her ghastly aunt at the end of book two, and that’s where we find her in The Raven Queen. She’s miserable, and she’s still not as safe as her grandfather had intended when he banished her to live in a town, surrounded by iron. She’s visiting her batty Great-Aunt Kitty – who is not crazy at all, of course – and my one regret is that we don’t get to see more of Kitty.

Since there is no point in having a story where the heroine is safe behind iron fences, Maddy and her cousins Roisin and Danny soon end up somewhere totally unsafe. The faerie world isn’t the same it was before, however. Friend and foe are no longer friend and foe, and Maddy needs to work out who she can trust. (I say no one.)

The Winter Queen is starting a war, and that can’t end well. This time we get to meet the newly awakened Morrighan, boss of all faeries, and even she has her work cut out, dealing with the Kings and Queens who all want to take over from Queen Liadan.

I won’t say what happens. But it’s good that Maddy isn’t alone in being able to think on her feet, and I particularly like the fact that Danny is the one to do the girly stuff; like pack their food and feel sick.

Besides, there isn’t much you can’t achieve with Cheese & Onion crisps. And I feel I understand banshees so much better now.

The Unicorn Hunter

It was only as I studied the cover of Che Golden’s second faerie book, The Unicorn Hunter, that the penny dropped. I’d been thinking the cover was fantastic, but also that it made Maddy, the heroine, look too old. She looks a cool 14, while she’s really only ten. I think. She acts more like 14, too. But back to the cover illustration. If you have Maddy looking ten years old, and add a picture of a unicorn, and if you made it pinker, it would be something straight out of My Little Pony.

Thank goodness for cool looks.

Che Golden, The Unicorn Hunter

A year has passed since Maddy and her cousins Roisin and Danny went over to the other side to find a snatched human boy. Halloween – the day when the boundaries can be breached – is almost here again and a unicorn has been attacked. Someone has to find out who did it, and that someone is Maddy.

To be honest, I’d been wondering if another adventure meant it would be the same as before, with the children popping across and dealing with the faeries. I was relieved to find that most of the excitement takes place in the real world, in Blarney, and things managed to get quite heated and dangerous before any trips through the mound.

Those faeries can be quite vicious. But Maddy can be quite difficult, if she puts her mind to it, and her cousins are pretty useful helpers, despite being ‘normal.’

Maddy is under pressure to make a deal with one of the faerie houses. Her grandfather does his best to keep her safe. But what can one old man do against Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn?

This is nothing like My Little Pony.

I’ll be waiting for the last in the trilogy. There is an ‘Aunt Petunia’ moment coming up. Bound to be good.

Martinmas drugs

I’d like to show you the drugs I sent with Daughter, for use this Martinmas term. (I think it’s so quaint with these terms for terms…)

2012 leisure reads

Following on from the session we had in the Scottish Parliament back in August, we fully agree with the use of books for medicinal purposes. They make you feel better. Probably much better than the stuff you get on prescription. (Even when prescriptions are free, as they are north of the border.)

Anyway, when exam nerves or essay stress take their toll, Daughter can grab one of the lovely titles you see above. (Guess which one is her own input?)

So, there are fairies and faeries, Irish and Scottish, and their cousins the angels. Nicholas Flamel, a Stockport cinema, cat people, various Victorian ladies, code breakers, resistance boys and ugly people. Keith Gray’s wonderful anthology. And the Doctor.

We think there is enough for one term. If not, I suppose she will actually have to buy a book. Shocking concept, but a feasible solution.

The photo is partly to make sure I get back what I sent out, but also to assist when I need to advise on which one to choose, according to specific needs.

The Feral Child

This is one book you can’t buy for Christmas, because it’s not out yet. But if the 5th of January could somehow be jiggled round to come before Christmas, I would suggest you buy a copy of The Feral Child for someone you know, and one for yourself. Unlike many books for 9+ this one is enjoyable for adults.

So there was no cause for me to worry. But one does, anyway. What if this new – first – book by someone who frequents this blog were to turn out to be boring or badly written? But Che Golden writes books the way she comments on blogs; intelligently and with wit and humour.

The book has a very strong first chapter. You just want to go on. There is nothing wobbly about this beginner.

Che Golden, The Feral Child

I am quite fond of Tír na nÓg, although I have to say that Che has put some vicious faeries in her version. (For visiting purposes I’d much rather go to Kate Thompson’s Tír na nÓg, where the people are inept but friendly in a charming Irish sort of way.) But if they weren’t unpleasant there would be no adventure.

Maddy is a second generation Irish English girl, who has come to Blarney to live with her grandparents when her parents died. As we all do, she discovers that the lovely holiday destination is much less fun when you have to stay forever. She’s very unhappy, and her cousins aren’t too friendly towards her, either. ‘Dealing with prats like Danny, one of the nastiest people you could meet this side of an ASBO.’

She likes her toddler neighbour Stephen best, and when he’s snatched by a faerie one night, and taken to Tír na nÓg, Maddy sets off to rescue him. Unfortunately she can’t shake off her cousins, so they end up coming along on this dangerous journey. Some people – like Maddy’s grandfather – believe in faeries, but most people in Blarney don’t.

The Feral Child is a fantastic read, and has a nice Irish feel to it. I’m becoming increasingly partial to Irish books. It’s the first of a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to more Maddy, and wondering what on earth she can get up to next time. Will it be back to known enemies, or will she discover new ones?


We went past it twice a day during the Edinburgh Book Festival. We go past it whenever we travel between Edinburgh and Stirling. I’m about to get pretty close to it today.

Some time recently someone in the family wondered if perhaps it was time soon for me to get off the train and have a look. I replied that as a matter of principle I didn’t think I ever would. Or at least not yet.

I don’t feel ready.

Back in the infancy of InterRailing the witch-to-be InterRailed every year, starting the first time it was possible to do so. The second year, when she was 17, the turn came to Britain and especially Scotland. I had never been to Scotland. I was a little disappointed not to find tall mountains as soon as the train crossed the border near Berwick. (I had been misinformed. Not all of Scotland was built like the Alps. Just as Sweden doesn’t have snow all year round. Actually.)

Linlithgow Palace

But School Friend and I liked Edinburgh. The youth hostel was great, and so comfortable and such good value that we decided to base ourselves there, and just use the InterRail pass to make day trips. A poster we saw at Waverley station showed the Palace in Linlithgow. It looked nice. We decided to day trip to this conveniently placed town, just west of Edinburgh.

We got on a train. It was soon time to get off again, so we got up to get off. Except, we didn’t get off, because we couldn’t. This was back in 1973 and the British Rail (oh, the nostalgia in writing that!) rolling stock used had doors at each end of the coaches. Doors with no door handles. The instructions on the door said that to open it we had to press and pull down (the window, it seemed).

No amount of pressing and pulling got us anywhere. (These days passengers are always getting off at Linlithgow. Just our luck that we were all alone.) I lie. We got somewhere. The train started up with us still on it, and we went to the next station which in those days was Falkirk.

We managed to get off there. Looked at the area surrounding the station and came to the conclusion it wasn’t up to much, and quickly crossed to the other platform and went back to Edinburgh, where we sat on the grass in Princes Street Gardens for the rest of the day.

I have still not been to Linlithgow. I know how to get off trains these days, but somehow it feels as if I’d be letting the side down by getting out and looking at the Palace. It’s bound not to be very interesting. Isn’t it?

(This rather boring blog post was brought to you by the witch meeting up with one of her readers – Che – at the launch for Bloodstone in August. After I tried to kill her by having her run across a busy road to catch up with us getting into the taxi she was to share, Che was travelling to Linlithgow. Well, I suppose someone has to.)