Thursday, 27 June 2013

Emily Diamand's Close Encounters

Emily Diamand, author Ways to See a Ghost, publishing July 2013, introduces us to the paranormal and why it has captured her imagination since childhood.

When I was twelve, I used to spend a lot of time looking at the stars. This wasn’t because I was a budding astronomer (I couldn’t have spotted Orion if he’d been waving) instead, I was scanning the sky for movement. I don’t mean the red and white flash of aeroplanes, the slow glide of satellites, or even the bright streak of a meteorite. I spotted all of those, and dismissed them. What I wanted was something else; something that, by rights, would be accompanied by the eerie strains of the theremin.
I’d watched Close Encounters, so I knew that if you were in the right place an alien space ship would suck you up in a beam of blinding light. I hoped my garden was that place. I’d seen E.T. too; I didn’t have a very big wardrobe in my bedroom, but I was pretty sure I could hide an alien in there, if push came to shove. And when it got to the tearful farewell at the spaceship, there was no way I’d be waving them off. E.T.’s aliens weren’t exactly fast on their feet; I knew I could beat them up the ramp, no problem. Star Trek, Blake’s Seven – I didn’t mind who it was, as long as they’d whisk me off for a tour of the galaxy.

Of course, you don’t have to believe in aliens to appreciate UFOlogy. As a writer, I love the wonder. Every UFO story has the sudden transition from the mundane into the fantastical, that so echoes traditional folklore - our ancestors were cursed or blessed by fairies and sprites, while people today are abducted by aliens, but the themes can be similar in both types of close encounter. And while explanations range from the subconscious re-workings of films, to cold-war paranoia, to the decline in formal religion, I hope there might also be the possibility that at least some of the tales are true.

It’s decades since E.T. and Close Encounters were released, and a long time since The X Files unravelled its last mystery, yet UFOlogy in the real world is thriving:

In 2012, the UK government released the last of its previously secret UFO files, after claiming to have been overwhelmed with freedom of information requests 

In April 2013, a group of former members of the US congress held ‘citizen hearings’ into evidence about the existence of UFOs and alien contact

There are ongoing claims that alien activity is behind mysterious attacks on livestock in parts of the US and UK 

And into these fascinating waters drop counter claims that much UFO-lore is actually the creation of US intelligence agencies, as a cover for the testing of spy planes

My kindly aliens never came, but I still love a good UFO story. That’s why, even though the title of my new book is Ways to See a Ghost, it’s as much about the world of the UFO enthusiast as it is about ghost hunters. With a young teenager as narrator, there had to be a little scorn for the adults involved, but I admire all the Mulders still working out there. And if you’re reading this, Doctor Who, well I’m still waiting… 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Goodbye from Annie Godfrey...

 "It is with great sadness that I have decided to give up the Templar digital crown and pass it onto the next worthy Templarite.

My time here has been the best; I've had some incredible opportunities like creating new websites for our fantastic fiction list, seeing adverts that I designed printed in magazines, and having dinner with Michael Morpurgo (casual name-drop...).

It has been an incredible experience and I feel very fortunate to be among the lucky few who genuinely enjoy going to work. 

So if you think that you have digital enthusiasm, tea drinking ability and stamina to take the reigns, then catch our attention with a creative application. Templar Publishing need you!"

Full job spec here...

SOB SOB .. OK lets pull ourselves together and ... Let’s get digital!

Are you passionate about children’s books? Do you know your Boris from your Pirate Cruncher? Are you fanatical about fiction?
Templar Publishing are on the hunt for an enthusiastic digital officer  -
If you are familiar with Facebook, tremendous on Twitter and brimming with blog ideas? This could be the job for you.

Either tickle our taste buds with a 140 character tweet letting us know why we should hire you #hiremetemplar


Send us your most imaginative pitch telling us why we should consider you for the job – Why not write blog post, create a blockbuster video, dazzle us with a powerpoint presentation, send us your face on a giant cookie – the more creative the better.

For more information about this position and how to apply visit our blog or email or tweet us @templarbooks #hiremetemplar


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Black Dog wins the Greenaway!

Templar Publishing are very proud to announce that
Levi Pinfold's beautiful picture book Black Dog is the WINNER 
of the 2013 CILIP Kate Greenaway Award!

We are over the moon and so very pleased for Levi - it is thoroughly well-deserved!

‘Of all the books considered for this award, BLACK DOG was the one that I most hoped would be recognised. Levi is an outstanding talent and we are immensely proud to be publishing him.’ Amanda Wood, Templar's Creative Director.

Here is a clip of Levi talking to our Art Director, Mike Jolley about his win:

Huge congratulations are also in order for our sister company, Hot Key Books, as Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon is the winner of the 2013 Carnegie Award! A very proud day for Bonnier!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Olive and the Bad Mood written and illustrated by Tor Freeman – Reviewed by Holly Surplice

Olive and the Bad Mood
By Tor Freeman
Olive and the Bad Mood by Tor Freeman is something that grown-ups & little people can all enjoy & relate to because lets face it, who doesn't get in a bad mood from time-to-time?! My nearly four year old was totally engrossed in the story and loved the unusual and abrupt approach of the grumpy Olive! She really enjoyed pointing out when Olive was being unkind, and sympathising with the other characters.

The fantastic use of white-space in this book makes it clear to see what is going on and really emphasises the main character's journey through the book which makes for a really lovely page-turning experience. The very clever visual description of a bad mood is brilliant done, and I love how contagious that little black cloud above the head is! Even without reading the words, this picture book has such clear visual narrative that it is one that non-readers can enjoy 'reading' by themselves which I always think is a wonderful thing.

For me, I found myself reminded, in a really great way, of Richard Scarry's Busytown books which I loved as a child, there is just something that is so funny about the characters that Tor has created for these books that I'm sure will lead them to be classics too. This very clever & witty book with universal appeal to both girls & boys is a great addition to any bookshelf, and has the bonus feature of teaching a very important lesson, what ever happens, you must ALWAYS share your sweets!

This review was written by Holly Surplice Follow her on Twitter @HollySurplice

GP by very talented Holly Surplice!
Visit Tor Freeman's blog here 

Find out how to draw Olive HERE  

Monday, 3 June 2013

Alex Gutteridge on shedding a tear...

To coincide with the publication of Last Chance Angel this month, we asked Alex Gutteridge to tell us how she ended up writing a tear-jerker

I have to confess to being a bit of a weeper and wailer, to the extent that I tend to avoid films, plays and books which I suspect will make me cry. So no-one was more surprised than me to find myself writing a book which, by its very nature, could be construed as a tear-jerker. In Last Chance Angel, Jess is knocked off her bike and ends up in a coma. On the point of death she is given a few days’ grace and the opportunity to return to earth for the purpose of visiting her friends, in invisible form.

This has not been an easy book to write and it has taken quite a time and many drafts to get it right. But from the very beginning it was an obvious choice to use the first person, not just because it made it easier for me to place myself in Jess’s situation but, by seeing life and death from only her point of view, I hoped that my readers would also closely identify with Jess’s character and predicament. Sometimes, when writing Jess’s story, I did find myself close to tears and, strange as it may seem, I was pleased when that happened. It confirmed that I was absolutely on the same wavelength as my character and for me this is at the heart of every story I write. I knew what Jess was thinking and feeling and how she would react in any given situation. This means that if your plot takes a sudden twist or turn, and this does happen to me because I’m not a planner, you are better equipped to deal with it and to retaining the authenticity of the story.

Indisputably tension heightens emotion. Throughout the book the clock is ticking down until Jess’s date with death. But that tension would not work, that emotion would not be ignited unless my readers care about what happens to Jess. But life is all about finding the right balance and I applied that principle to Last Chance Angel. Too much heartbreak would, I have felt, made the book extremely heavy going and probably made readers switch off. The addition of humour varies the tone but I also hope that these lighter passages contrast with the darker chapters, thus adding to their intensity.

In conveying tension and emotion dialogue is vital. You can say so much through a conversation but often it is in the pauses, the things left unsaid which tug at the heartstrings. In the conversations between Jess and her beloved Gramps I called upon my own memories. My own grandfather died over thirty years ago but I still miss him very much indeed and the tenderness, patience and wisdom which he showed to me has definitely contributed to the character of Gramps in this book. Writing those passages proved to be both comforting and painful.

So are there any boundaries when writing something which could prove upsetting? For me one of the boundaries I imposed upon myself was not to describe Jess’s medical condition. Not only did I consider graphic description to be unnecessary but also to be inappropriate. In some cases less is more. This applies too to language. There is always a danger of making subject matter like this overly sentimental. I have tried to avoid that as, in my opinion, sentimental writing does not necessarily access deep emotion. In fact it can have the opposite effect.

I never deliberately set out to write something that would upset my readers or try to make them cry and to be honest if that had been my aim I don’t think I would have succeeded. Instead my focus, when writing Last Chance Angel, was purely to create an interesting story about friendship and how well we really know people. Pivotal to this was my main character, Jess. I have spent so much time with her that I love Jess almost as if she was a real person. So when someone says to me that this book has brought tears to their eyes I take it as a huge compliment because it means that they love Jess too. As an author what more could you want than that?