Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction

Inborn by Thomas Enger

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the blog tour for another gripping offering from Orenda Books. Inborn by Thomas Enger is a thrilling court room drama that had me hooked and reading into the night.

When a teenager is accused of a high-school murder, he finds himself subject to trial by social media … and in the dock.

A taut, moving and chilling thriller by one of Nordic Noir’s finest writers.

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

Oh my, this is one good read. A chilling prologue leads us into the story where we follow young Johannes, a bright young soul, as he walks into something he really wishes he hadn’t. What follows is a series of events that we begin to witness through the trial when 17 year old Even takes to the dock.

Twists and turns aplenty my suspicions changed on many occasions. Wonderfully told mostly through the voice of a 17 year old the story keeps the fear, frustration and despair right on the surface. It brilliantly showed the dangers of social media. How it can be easy to condemn and spread hate and mistrust. Chinese whispers for the 21st century and a super way to throw in those clues (or red herrings).

You can’t help but feel sorry for Even; he has a difficult life with a reclusive younger brother and a mother who still continues to drown her sorrows some years after the death of their father in a car crash. The only sense of parental support comes from their uncle Imo. And now Even’s recently ex-girlfriend has been murdered and he is under suspicion.

I love the way Enger has built the story around the trial, hearing what Even has to say but also returning to past events with flashbacks through Yngve Monk, the Chief Inspector who has recently lost his wife and is floundering somewhat. He is also a great character though and I felt his loss keenly. Enger expertly portraying the sense of bewilderment and sadness that follows the death of a loved one. Monk really cares about the case too, determined to get to the bottom of what happened on that awful night he puts his grief to one side and gets the job done – with a little bit of help of course. The picture gradually becoming clearer and clearer until the shocking conclusion is revealed.

Absolutely gripping, this is one that I would definitely recommend for young adults and older readers alike. It is also crying out for a tv adaptation. There are plenty of skeletons in the closet of the people in Fredheim and they’re about to come out in a most spectacular but deadly way.

Thoroughly recommended.

Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to her and Orenda Books for my eBook. As much as I prefer print copies I do LOVE the way I can read in the dark with an eBook. 🙂

About the author

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jorn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

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Adult Fiction, Bookish Post, Coming Soon, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

A Tales Before Bedtime Sunday Review

Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection.  You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds.  Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive.  It’s a truly wonderful feeling.  One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced.  Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.  

There were three things that sold this novel to me.  

The author. The publisher. The synopsis.  

Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too.  I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD.  And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.

The theme is secrets.  You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.  Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years.  She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago. 

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.

In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endless fears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.

Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.

Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.

Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.

Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…

‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.

Stella, this will tell you everything.

How did they know what I wanted to know?

What was everything?

I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.

“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.

Who was I trying to convince?

I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.

I did that night too.

But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.

It was two weeks before they found the girl there.

Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.

I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’

About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015.  the follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize.  Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed.  All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers.  Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.  Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.

Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.

Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.

 

 

Adult Fiction, Christmas 2018, Crime, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

I love a good drama no matter how it’s presented. Be it radio, television, book or on the big screen, each method has a thoroughly unique way of bringing the story to you. This is one of the reasons I love storytelling, there are so many possibilities. Each begins with the storyteller themselves and then the reader/viewer/listener comes along and creates their own version. We all see things with different eyes and I believe each reader/viewer/listener will experience the story in their own unique way. Our beliefs and our personalities all have an effect on what we take from a story. We won’t all love or hate the same things and when we enter a story, as individuals, we interpret it in our own way.

I do love to read the books from which the stories originated but I’m not precious about which should come first. For example when I was younger I found The Lord of the Rings difficult to get into, that is until I saw the films. I was swept away by Peter Jackson’s vision and it encouraged me to return to the novels and now I find their complexity absorbing and fascinating. There is generally so much more in the books themselves and I found it easier to dive into them after being spellbound by the films.

One of the most heavily adapted authors over the years is the wonderful Agatha Christie. I have quite literally grown up on the adventures of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. It’s easy to be swept away by a new adaptation on our screens but I’d love to take a moment to remind you of the pure joy of falling into one of her novels and discovering her stories exactly how she intended them.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is possibly not as festive a read as the title suggests, for as you’d expect murder casts a shadow over the festivities. I was given, by my husband, a beautifully produced hardback edition, published by Harper Collins, for my wedding anniversary in October. It’s been a while since I’ve actually read an Agatha Christie novel so I very much looked forward to this festive treat. The inscription alone was enough to assure me I was in for something special.

My Dear James,

You have always been one of the most faithful and kindly of my readers, and I was therefore seriously perturbed when I received from you a word of criticism.

You complained that my murders were getting too refined – anaemia, in fact. You yearned for a “good violent murder with lots of blood.” A murder where there was no doubt about its being murder!

So this is your special story – written for you. I hope it may please.

Your affectionate sister-in-law,

Agatha

I was completely absorbed by Agatha’s superb plotting and characterisation skills. I absolutely adore these classic, old fashioned mysteries. I recently read that she began writing her stories at the end and worked her way backwards. The complexity to them certainly fits this method. What fun she must have had! There are generally several possibilities as to who the murderer could be and she drops clues a plenty along the way. When watching the screen adaptations I often find it hard to discover who the guilty party is, it is difficult to squeeze all the vital information in along the way but as I read I found myself nodding, “Yes, but of course!”

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas we see the gathering of an estranged family at Christmas time. Old Simeon Lee is a ‘thin, shrivelled figure of an old man’, a man looking forward to a Christmas surrounded by his family. Yet this old man is not feeling sentimental. He is a wicked, cruel man who is intent on stirring up a hornets nest. As the family slowly gather Agatha gives us an insight into their relationships with the old man. Before long old Simeon Lee meets a violent, bloody end and any one of them could have been tempted to yield the knife. Yet the murder took place behind a locked door with only the victim discovered inside. A complicated case but one that Hercule Poirot expertly unpicks.

The book is rather wonderful and I was immediately curious to see how it was transferred on to the small screen. Thankfully ITV player currently has a number of the wonderful adaptations starring David Suchet as Poirot and so I was able to settle down with a selection of festive treats and watch. The adaptation was of course changed to suit the time constraints of television and also some details had been tweaked but I still enjoyed it immensely. For me the book was the winner as generally we can discover so much more about character and plot that may not always come across on the screen. I also preferred Agatha’s original detail. Reading the novel also reminded me of where all these programmes that thrill and entertain us come from. It all begins with words on paper and for me that’s an exciting and inspiring thought.

Synopsis

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man.

For more information why not visit the Agatha Christie website here.

“Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”

Macbeth.

 

Adult Fiction, Christmas 2018, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Essie Fox – Elijah’s Mermaid and The Last Days of Leda Grey

I have always loved gothic fiction so it seemed only right that I include some in my recommended reads. Essie is a historical author and as well as her captivating novels writes a fascinating blog called The Virtual Victorian. I first discovered her some years back when reviewing for Lovereading. I am an admirer of the Pre-Raphaelites and so I immediately fell in love Elijah’s Mermaid.

I have chosen two of her books today. Elijah’s Mermaid, and her latest novel, The Last Days of Leda Grey. Both are excellent as are all of her published works. Do check her out. She is an incredibly interesting writer both in her novels and on her blog. I am planning to devote a piece about her in more depth next year but for now here is a little more about her books.

Saved from the Thames one foggy London night, Pearl grows up at the House of Mermaids – a brothel that becomes the closest thing to home. But despite being cosseted and spoiled by the Madame, come her 14th year, Pearl is to be sold to the highest bidder.

Orphaned twins Lily and Elijah are on a rare trip to London when they meet the ethereal Pearl. And the repercussions of this chance encounter will bind all their fates together, in a dark and dangerous way. 

Bewitching, gothic and sensual, this is a tale of love and betrayal in a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

A bewitching novel about an enigmatic silent film actress, and the volatile love affair that left her a recluse for over half a century – for fans of Sarah Waters and Tracy Chevalier.

During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the seaside town of Brightland. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey. Enchanted by the image, Ed learns Leda Grey is still living – now a recluse in a decaying cliff-top house she once shared with a man named Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film.

As Beauvois’s muse and lover, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect. But, while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality, leaving Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century – until the secrets of her past result in a shocking climax, more haunting than any to be in found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois. ‘

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Fiction, Short Stories

Nici’s Christmas Tale by Jean Gill

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Nici’s Christmas Tale by Jean Gill – Blog Tour

A stand-alone short story in the multi-award-winning Troubadours Quartet series

1157: Aquitaine. The wolves are coming! At midnight on Christmas Eve, while the blizzard blasts snow through every crack in the castle walls, Nici the Shepherd’s Dog stands guard in the sheepfold.

Beside him as usual are his pack and the flock they protect but this night is not usual at all. A small boy braves the snowy night, seeking the protection of his great friend while he is banned from his parents’ quarters in the castle.  Nici recalls other times and other dangers, his trials and failures, the reasons why he ran away with a young girl, now the little boy’s mother.  He would still give his life in a heartbeat for Lady Estela. And yet, on this snowy night, he cannot help her. So, while he waits and comforts Estela’s son, he tells his own puppies the story of a dog’s life.

Nici’s Christmas Tale is a short story, at only 58 pages it is a quick read but each one of those pages is full of rich detail and a beautifully told dog’s tale.

This is my first encounter of the Troubadours Quartet series and indeed of Jean Gill’s writing.  I was drawn to the idea of a dog being the narrator and I think Jean has stepped into the mind Nici perfectly.

Nici is a Great Pyrenees.  My knowledge of dogs is very limited but you can tell that Jean has a great love for the breed and knows an awful to about them.  Nici’s tale is set in the 12th century so it took some research of shepherding of this time for Jean but she has captured time and place perfectly.

Nici’s bond with both his humans and pack is incredibly moving and, from my limited expertise of dogs, absolutely spot on.  I love her take on a new life coming into the world on Christmas Eve, with all the worry and trauma that surrounds the birth, especially during medieval times.  As Nici recounts his story to his pups we are also taken on his journey, following through his hardships, his courage and at times his despair.  This is one brave dog who has encountered great cruelty but never shied away from his duty and what he felt was right.  He is certainly a dog I would like to have by my side.

This is a lovely, unusual Christmas tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Although I am not familiar with The Troubadours Quartet and the adventures of Estela and Dragonetz, I have enjoyed getting to know their most loyal companion and I now look forward to reading more of their tales too.

About The Author

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Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two scruffy dogs, a beehive named ‘Endeavour’, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Wales. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.
Sign up to Jean special readers’ group at http://www.jeangill.com/ for exclusive news, offers and a free book.

You can follow Jean on Twitter: @writerjeangill

You can purchase the ebook of Nici’s Christmas Tale here.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and thanks to both her and Jean for the review copy.  I’ve really enjoyed visiting Nici’s world.

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Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018, Fiction, Giveaway, Review

The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller

I’m so delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller. This novel is a festive feast that captured my heart from the very beginning. It’s been an absolute joy to read and chat about over the last few days. Ben has a wonderful writing style and his humour, wit and personality shine through in the seasonal tale before us. Not only is it as warm and comforting as a mug of hot chocolate topped with cream and marshmallows but it also answers the question… how did Father Christmas become Father Christmas?

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Jackson is a young boy who is having the teeniest of doubts about Father Christmas. In his heart he believes and he argues that logically he must be real – after all who else leaves the presents and eats all the mince pies? And yet the seed has been planted and so Jackson is determined to meet the man himself this Christmas Eve and ask him one very important question… How did he become Father Christmas? And so begins the story of a mean elf called Torvil, his under-appreciated and under-paid assistant Steiner, and of course, a talking reindeer. Torvil is a miser, a Scrooge like figure who puts profit above compassion, generosity and kindness. Yet on this very special Christmas Eve Torvil is given the opportunity to learn from his past and earn himself a happier, brighter future.

The Night I Met Father Christmas has been described as a ‘classic in the making’ and I wholeheartedly agree. It is full of Christmas cheer, memorable characters, humour and adventure.  it would make the perfect Christmas gift and will be enjoyed for many a Christmas to come by readers young and old.

Giveaway!

Now I would like to step in Father Christmas’ shoes and bestow one copy of this fine tale to one of you my dear readers.  So go forth and like, comment and share this post with the hashtag #FatherChristmasBeliever, and of course give me a follow, and I’ll pop your name in the hat.  Enter by midnight on Friday the 7th of December and I’ll announce the winner this coming weekend.

This competition will run via this blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. If you take part on all three platforms then your name will be entered thrice.  So please get sharing and remember to follow me here, on Twitter and my Tales Before Bedtime page on Facebook.  Thanks much and good luck.

*Please note this giveaway is only open to residents in the UK.  The winner will be sent a finished copy of Ben Miller’s The Night I Met Father Christmas  direct from the publisher. 

And just in case you missed my earlier posts which include a Q&A with author Ben Miller and Illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, here they are…

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The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller

Jackson knows all about flying reindeer, he knows about the elves and the secret North Pole workshop, he knows about the elves and the secret North Pole workshop, he knows about the magic that allows Father Christmas to deliver presents around the world in just one night, but there’s one thing he doesn’t know…how did Father Christmas become Father Christmas?

That all changes when, one Christmas Eve, Jackson meets Father Christmas Eve, Jackson meets Father Christmas and hears his incredible story.

So begins an enchanting fairy-tale into a magical snowy landscape, where Torvil, a mean-spirited and miserly elf, is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  This might not have been the story Jackson was expecting but, as Father Christmas tells him, no good story ever is…

A Christmas classic in the making from actors and comedian Ben Miller that will prove once and for all that Father Christmas really does exist!

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IMG_20181101_194428Ben Miller is pretty well known.  Comedian, actor and now author, he crosses generations with his work.  In our house we know him from his time playing DCI Richard Poole in Death in Paradise and more recently as Bough, the hilarious side-kick to Rowen Atkinson’s Johnny English.  In my school Library we know him for his books The Aliens Are Coming!: The Exciting and Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe and It’s Not Rocket Science, both giving interesting, insightful and enjoyable access to their subject matter.  And now he brings us this wonderful festive tale about a young boy named Jackson.  Jackson who has had a tiny seed of doubt planted into his mind about Father Christmas.  So he comes up with a plan to meet the man himself and ask him a very important question.  

I love Christmas.  I love the build up, the magic that seems to fill the air and ever since having my son (eleven years ago now), I’ve rediscovered the joy of being a .  It’s easy as adults to lose that magic and we can quite often become cynical.  So as the big day approaches Christmas stories come pretty close to the top of the list of things that make me happy.  Especially Christmas stories that I can share with my son.  When writing The Night I Met Father Christmas, Ben took inspiration from some great authors to create a wonderful tale that already feels like a classic. I already read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol every year – I love the language, moral and sheer joy that this tale brings – and I can see The Night I Met Father Christmas being enjoyed for many years to come.  So I asked Ben what his favourite Christmas Story is.

‘That one! A Christmas Carol. I am a huge fan of Dickens generally and he has been a huge influence on everything I’ve done. Having English teachers as parents meant I was introduced to him at a very early age and I love his unique and infectious wit and psychedelic warmth. Dickens is the perfect grounding for a career in sketch comedy!’

But how does one go from writing books about science to writing a Christmas story?  This is Ben’s first work of fiction and I asked him if any of the characters were based on himself or people he knows.

‘I based Jackson, the main character, on my own son. I did ask if he as OK with that! He said yes — I hope he feels the same when he’s older. Torvil, I think, is basically me.’

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The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller with Illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

So, earlier I spoke about Ben. Now I would like to mention the beautiful illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

A great story is made even greater by wonderful illustrations and the combined effort of the Simon and Schuster design team and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini have brought us an absolutely stunning hardback book that will earn precious space on your bookshelf.  It really is a keeper.  The cover is stunning, with gold foil that brings it to life and makes the book literally jump out at you when you see it.  There is so much detail throughout the entire book  and Daniela has created a gorgeous selection of illustrations that complement Ben’s writing brilliantly.  She really is a great talent and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to ask her the following questions.

How do you begin to create the wonderful art work that brings Ben’s story to life?

‘After having some initial ideas, inspired by the story, I always plunge myself into extensive visual research, mainly to find the kind of visual reference that will support me in drawing characters and things that feel real, that feel like they could exist in a parallel dimension of wonder. The drawing stage always feels quite technical in some ways for me; this is where I sweat to get the composition, anatomy ad perspective right. While the painting stage is really where all the magic happens for me… where I focus on getting the atmosphere and feel right for the picture. And where I feel like I’m in my element. Each stage is very important. But some are more “nerve-wracking” than others….’

If you could choose one other classic Christmas story to illustrate, what would it be?

‘A Christmas Carol of course :), although I would also quite like to make my own version of A Nightmare Before Christmas…’

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

‘Well, I wasn’t sure to begin with if I have to be honest… but reading ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas’ has definitely put the doubts to rest in my mind! I’m definitely going to be putting out mince pies and brandy for him this Christmas!’

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Book Launch – The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller

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It was a damp and mild November evening when the Fallows family headed up to London.  Nature is giving a wonderful display of autumnal colour; golden brown, fiery reds and burnt orange underfoot with sticky, mushy leaves wet from the rain earlier in the day. This last week we’ve gained an hour and darker evenings for sparkly lights and magical time to curl up with a good book.  Winter is well and truly on its way… and with it comes Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Never shy of taking an opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit as early as possible, I was delighted to have been invited to join in celebrating the launch of a bright and sparkling new, Christmas story.

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Flash back to summer.  The days were long, the sun was shining and people were already beginning to panic about ever seeing rain again. I however,  was settling down to read my first Christmas book of the year.  The Night I met Father Christmas by Ben Miller.

There are so many wonderful children’s authors bringing books to our young readers that will inspire and encourage a life-long love of reading.  So when someone we admire for their other work gives us a novel, I always feel a little apprehensive.  I expect it to be good enough to share a place on the shelves of those whose main body of work is children’s fiction.  Children’s books are important, they matter.  As Meg Ryan said in You Got Mail “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” With so many other distractions it’s important that we can grab their attention with stories that will fill them with wonder and let them love books rather than see them as a chore and bore.

I very much enjoy watching Ben on the screen.  We’re big fans of Death in Paradise in our household and grew to love his grumpy, yet brilliant Inspector Richard Poole and even more recently his role as Angus Bough, the ever patient side-kick to Rowen Atkinson’s, Johnny English. So I was excited to hear that he had written a Christmas story and keen for him to have done it well. It’s encouraging to know that Ben is not new to the written word, he has already published two non-fiction titles, It’s Not Rocket Science and The Aliens Are Coming!: The Exciting Science Behind Our Search For Life in the Universe.   The Night I Met Father Christmas is his first fictional title and trust me when I say, it is wonderful and very much deserves its place on any child’s (or adult’s) bookshelf.

It was an absolute treat to attend his launch party and Ben Miller is as funny and warm in the flesh as he comes across on the screen.  With a room full of people vying for his attention he took the time to sign copies of his book and my own young Ben was thrilled to meet him (as was I).  We also chatted and mingled with some lovely people and was finally able to say hello to some familiar faces including children’s author, Philip Ardagh.

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When Ben met Ben

The team at Simon and Schuster did Ben proud and the event was lovely.   We had the opportunity to meet the wonderfully talented illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, whose stunning illustrations bring the story to life.  Simon and Schuster’s design team have produced a stunning book complementing both story and illustrations. It truly is beautiful and will make a wonderful early Christmas present or perhaps be the perfect book to share with your little ones in the run up to the big event itself.

 

The Night I Met Father Christmas is available to buy now.  It is already generating wonderful reviews and much excitement.

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