Looking at things from a different angle

Realised this morning that preparation for author talks and events is actually research and work towards Jiddy Vardy 2 and not a distraction!

Preparation is helping me to focus on themes, what I need to explore further in the second book about Jiddy, smuggling and finding her roots. It’s helping me to know what I need to develop, to revisit and a reminder of the characters.

Funny how thinking about something from a different perspective brings renewed excitement…and peace of mind!

Looking forward to discussing whether it was possible for Jiddy to be a feminist in 18th century Robin Hood’s Bay.

Tomorrow, 4th May, 2pm at the Book Corner, Saltburn by the Sea, North Yorkshire.

Blackpool 1 - Copy


My Inspirations for the Bookshelf – L M Montgomery

The wonderful K M Lockwood asked me what my Inspirations from my bookshelf were for YA books, for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) weekly newsletter.

The Anne books by L M Montgomery!! Red hair, freckles,  love of make believe and so much more… Click the link to find out why…


How themes continue in a second book

I’ve been writing and editing the first three chapters of the sequel to Jiddy Vardy today. I thought I’d struggle as I’m working on the day job, I’ve come out of writing a different YA book, The Monster Belt and yet it’s surprising and a relief that it is a smooth transition into the world of Robin Hood’s Bay in the late 18th century.

Already, I’m concerned with the community’s concerns. How dare people who know nothing of what it’s like in a remote fishing community tell them how to live? A crime to some is a necessity to others!

I get fired up just thinking about it!

I love how resourceful and clever Jiddy is, always thinking on her feet and coming up with the unexpected. Wish I was as quick as she is in these situations.

And I love how her desires continually break through.

She’s got a great deal to prove. The journey is definitely not over!


On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Image may contain: one or more people and text

One word. One syllable. Bri. I liked the complexity of Bri. I’ve just finished On The Come Up and I know where I am going to ask Angie Thomas to sign the book when I go to speak at Waterstones Deansgate on Wednesday. Page 414. At the bottom. What is written on this page is why I love YA books. Not all YA books, definitely not all, but why I love the best of them. This is what the best YA books do. They speak to us and make us cry like when we were 16, 17, even though we may be in our 50’s. The best YA speak to everyone, no matter who you are and what age. ON THE COME UP does that. It is what is best about YA. I like this more than THUG, even though in the first pages, I wasn’t sure. I admit, I didn’t yearn to pick up OTCU for the first few chapters. I decided it was my fault. I know nothing of this world and it didn’t hook me in. But then, Bri did. And how it spoke beyond that world. It was more about following our dreams and mainly, finding out who you are and then being true to that self. That speaks to everyone. Which is why, it’s high up in my list of favourite YA books.

THUG was easier to get into and turn the opening pages, but in the end, I found OTCU more satisfying.

What I also like about On The Come UP is that it is about a specific world and this rings true in characters, setting, speech and action. It made me realise why I am so fed up with many YA books. They feel too packed with a mish-mash of characters a bit like a Spice Girls line up. Characters in books shouldn’t be a put together boy or girl band. They should be friends because they have worlds and interests and just the fact that they were thrown together as babies. This is the kind of YA that works best for me. The author writes about a world they know and it is authentic. I’m leaving fantasy out here. That’s authentic too, in a different way. (Authentic in the author’s imagination.)

The same goes for my previous read, The Gallows Pole. Some people didn’t like that there weren’t many women in the book and the ones that were, served the food and ale or were used. This is a book about a group of men. That’s it. Let’s not put our views on books that are written about specific worlds. Please.

5 Stars. *****



The Gallows Pole

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers
The Gallows Pole 

Benjamin Myers (Goodreads Author)

Ruth Estevez‘s review

Feb 15, 2019  · 
My reading sped up! As a writer, I’ve been told not to do lists (I do/have done them) but they work in the right context. They accumulate a rhythm and this is what Myers’ book is about. The rhythm of the land, the men, the coining and the steady march to where it will end. The language, phrasing and rhythm are the language of the landscape and the people that inhabit it. I loved the book for this. It is buried deep in Yorkshire moorland and wide sweeps of sky and the poverty of rural life. The steady march of industrialisation is coming and the old ways of living pushed away.
The repeated lists linked with ‘ands’ reminds me of Hemingway. 
The cruelty and hardness of the male characters (they are mainly male) reminds me of Heathcliff and Hindley Earnshaw. The lack of full stops and strange spelling in King David’s accounts recreate the feel of an ancient way of life but are clear to read and heartfelt. I smiled at some too.
It all builds and the few speeches there are show us that against David Harley’s brutality, he cares for the people he lives amongst. He is their Robin Hood. But he is also other people’s undoing. Yes, coining sticks two fingers up at the Government and King, but it also takes money from local shopkeepers by undermining the currency. But it is the poor who echo in the end. David Hartley made sure that no-one in the valley starved. He took care of his own. And no-one else did that. This is about working together and not for one person’s advancement. It’s anti-capitalism. And it’s vicious against those who don’t agree. No-one is romanticised. We see how things really are.
We don’t hear a great deal about Grace, his wife, or many women, but this is a man’s story. It’s their story and it’s true to the time it is set. That’s it. What I like though is that Grace makes the future for her family. Without a big ta-do about it. And I like the poetic heart within the brutality of King David of Yorkshire. The end is so well done, I wondered how Benjamin Myers or anyone could write about it so well without having gone through it themselves…but then…(I won’t spoil the end) 

There are phrases like ‘moss that tasselled the moor’s edge’ that perfectly capture the image of the moor.
Soot and ash. Snot and spume.
Quag and sump and clotted moss.
This is dark Yorkshire. It is not the stone walled, green field, wide valleyed Yorkshire Dales. This is crag and rock and muddy field. 
I know both Yorkshires. This rings true.
Would I read it again? Yes. Myers is ancient in his story telling and relevant. And the protagonists and their story and the landscape feel as if they’ve seeped into my bones.


There are two camps in the flashbacks debate in film and novels.

  1. If you can’t tell it in real time, don’t tell it!
  2. Flashbacks are great!

To be honest, there is a third camp – use flashbacks if you must, but sparingly.

I think it depends what you are writing about and the style of your drama. Take flashbacks in real life. They happen. Often out of the blue, or so you think. In films and novels, we can’t have things happening out of the blue. There must be a reason why they happen.

So in real life. Do flashbacks actually happen at specific points, from triggers, from our emotional state? For a reason?

I thought I had an out of the blue flash back this morning. But then, it came the day after the anniversary of mum’s funeral. I’d not been thinking about it. Not really.

So this morning…lying here, I was thinking, ‘I mustn’t let grief spoil my day.’

Isn’t that a terrible thought? That I’d push Mum out of my head so she doesn’t spoil my day?

And by spoil, I mean, stop me from doing things. Stop me from ploughing through my list of jobs for The Portico Sadie Massey Awards. Stop me writing the short Bio to go in my old Uni magazine, the Cestrian, as they’re running a piece on me. Stop me working on The Monster Belt? Stop me functioning?

Because flashbacks can stop you moving forward. So how do we remember without going back?

Is this trauma? Are flashbacks trauma? I haven’t been thinking about Mum and yet in that half-dream, half-awake state, I’ve had flashbacks. She’s in that place near death where she’s slipping away, growing distant, only she isn’t in bed, she’s lying in Dean Lane by our old garage, watching the children play.

And I want to shout, ‘Don’t go!’

And I’m scribbling this down in bed because I don’t want to forget it and I’ve put the bedroom light on because although it’s morning, it’s still dark.