Thursday, 8 October 2015

UKYAX - In the Spotlight with Helen Maslin!


It's my stop in the fantastic UKYAX Blog Tour, and I have a special guest joining me on the blog who will be joining in with the shenanigans planned for today!

I was lucky enough to attend the very first UKYA Extravaganza last year in 2014 - seriously, Emma and Kerry did a fantastic job! So when I heard that a second has been planned for 2015, I squealed with joy! It was so much fun to meet so many amazing bloggers, readers and authors in on
e place! There were delicious cakes and so many good books on sale! I was pretty much broke after that eventful day...


Here we are again!


I'm honored to host this special post with none other, than the Fabulous Helen Maslin! (That's the name written on her passport. I'm not joking.) She is the author of the epic YA debut novel Darkmere - which is now one of my favourite books. I was ecstatic when I discovered that we got paired together! We both decided to have a little fun and answer some silly questions - that includes answers from both me and Helen! It was a challenge, I'll admit, but tons of fun.

So without further ado, here we go.

(Note: My answers are in green, Helen's are in red.)

1. If you had to enter the Hunger Games with a crack team of 3 authors (bloggers for Helen) to help you survive, who would you choose?

Wow. This is hard. This is worse than me deciding on which ice cream flavour to pick when I visit a dessert shop – and believe me, I take ages. OK. I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but my first pick would be Melinda Salisbury. Her devious mind and tactics would come in handy, not to mention she is utterly ruthless. I think every team needs a Mel to survive.

For someone who owns over 3000 books, I think Liz de Jager would be perfect. That mind of hers must be filled with utter brilliance and knowledge that I could use. Plus, she’s a gamer. If anyone would know how to survive the Hunger Games, it would be her.

Hmm, the third position would have to go to... Helen Maslin herself! And I’m not just saying that because we’re answering these silly questions together. She could be the sacrifice if it came to the point where we needed one. Only joking. (or am I?) For real, she would help to keep us all sane. Someone with a cool head, because I know the rest of us would probably fight for dominance. We’d be like a pack of animals. We need a Helen.

My team are going to be the Careers – hope that’s okay with you. Your bunch can be the district 12 underdogs who have to run and hide while we share out all the best weapons. My first choice is – of course – the unstoppable Michelle Toy who specialises in attack hugs and has her own personal army of mutant emojis. If anyone can take down the Souleater, it’s Chelle.

My number two will be Jesse Owen, who I see as our stealth expert. We need a Rue figure – someone quiet and sneaky and wily enough to drop trackerjacker nests on people. He also has the musical ability necessary to communicate via mockingjays. (God, I’m putting way too much thought into this!)

In third position...hmm, don’t think I haven’t considered picking you too. I see a lot of Cato in you, Sally...but that ego of his was a bit of an Achille’s heel in the end, wasn’t it? So I’m going to choose Virginie B for sheer Capitol-style glamour. Seriously though – thank you for choosing me. I love the idea of sabotaging your team from the inside. May the odds be ever in my favour.

2. Boys in YA - whose team are you on and why?
1. Peeta or Gale?
2. Lief or Merek?
3. Luca or Nic?
4. Carter or Sylvain?
5. Sirius or Snape?

1 – PEETA. Always. Because Josh Hutcherson. No, really, it’s simply because he’s absolutely adorable. I love his kind and caring nature, his protectiveness over Katniss. He’s just so nice. Who wouldn’t be on Team Peeta?

1 – Aww, I totally love Peeta’s kind and caring nature too. But Gale is hotter. And he doesn’t need rescuing Every. Five. Frickin. Minutes. So Gale, for me, please.

2 – How cruel. I was pretty much a hardcore Team Lief fan... until those last few chapters. Then Melinda Salisbury totally messed with my feels and now I’m possibly Team Merek. That’s all I can say. Stuff happened. Read the book to find out what.

2 – Same. Lief does not deserve forgiveness. At least not as long as Merek’s around. Being an actual prince and that. So Merek for me too.

3 – This is a no brainer. TEAM LUCA FOREVER. I don’t even think this needs explaining. Luca just makes me laugh out loud, his personality draws me in like a moth to a flame and he’s darn cute. Don’t get me wrong. I adore Nic but my heart lies within Luca. Sorry Nic.

3 – I’m a bit torn on this one. Luca has a lot more sense, but can be kind of bossy. And I liked how smitten Nic can be. Smitten boys are adorable. I’ll take Nic, I think.

4 – No. This is one I refuse to answer every time I am asked. You simply cannot make me choose between Carter and Sylvain. No. Nope. Never. 

4 – Don’t worry, I’m happy to answer on your behalf! I’ll take Sylvain because he’s better looking and has a French accent. I don’t feel the need to dig any deeper. You’re left with Carter. You’re welcome.

5 – This one’s siriusly easy. Get it? I make myself laugh. Yeah. Sirius. I just can’t bring myself to feel sympathy for Snape, I just can’t. Sirius just continued to surprise me. There’s no way I would pick Snape over Sirius.

5 – I found this the easiest one too. Only I’m choosing Snape. ALWAYS. How can you resist all that simmering rage and suppressed yearning? Snape’s the one risking death and torture by Voldemort the whole time that Sirius is hiding in a cave and eating rats. Siriusly, you’re picking the one with rat-breath? Up to you, I suppose. 

3. What bookish picture or quote would you have turned into a tattoo? Or do you already have one?

And I thought Question One was hard. Probably ‘Keep Breathing’ which is from my favourite book of all time – Night School by C.J. Daugherty. There’s just so much meaning behind those two words and I love it. 

If you’ve read this series, you’d understand where I’m coming from. If not, then what are you doing with your life? GET READING.

Twitter has shown a few of my favourite authors getting inked to mark their first books – Melinda Salisbury showed off a beautiful globe and David Owen got a CND symbol. Liz de Jager seems to be covered in supercool tatts! (I’ll be giving her that squinty sideways look all through UKYAX in an effort to spot them all.) So by the time my book came out, I was as excited for my debut author tattoo as I was for the launch. Anyway, I got a tiny typewriter...

Helen's typewriter tattoo. (100% real)
(Sally: Seriously, how freaking cool is that?! I am seriously impressed.)

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Sally's Dark Mark tattoo. (100% fake)

     4. You could have any superpower you wanted, so which would it be? And would you use your powers for good, or to cause chaos?

Regeneration and adamantium claws seems like the winning choice. I wouldn’t mind that. No, for real, I’d love to be able to control time. Travel through time – past and future. I think that would be pretty awesome. A little terrifying maybe, but awesome. I’d use my powers to cause chaos. Naturally. Maybe if someone asked me nicely to help them, I might. Maybe.

I should probably go for something clever like you have, but to be honest, I just want to shoot lasers from my eyes.

It’s a choice that answers the second half of the question too, since I don’t think it would be possible to use my eye-lasers for good. Obviously I’d try to set myself boundaries. I’d start out only turning them on my arch-enemies, but by the end of the week, I’d probably be lasering people who don’t pick up after their dogs...and people who drive aggressively close to other drivers...and people who kick the back of my seat at the cinema... 

No – wait! I CAN use them for good. I’ll laser Donald Trump. How’s that? 

5. If you could choose one mythical creature to have as a pet, what would you pick?

I’m torn between a Dragon, a Phoenix and a Griffin. I’ll say Phoenix, only because it’s been my favourite mythical creature since I was a kid. It’ll be like having my own Fawkes.

Oh dear...I’m not all that much of a pet person. I don’t like the responsibility – it makes my neck and shoulders ache. And although I firmly believe other people should clear up after their animals, I wouldn’t be at all keen on doing it myself. In the case of mythical creatures, I’d need more than a little plastic bag – I’d need a shovel. Ugh – no – you can’t make me!

6. You’re given the opportunity to be someone from the opposite gender for a whole day. Who would you be and why? (Fictional characters count!)

Draco Malfoy. I think that would make for a very entertaining day. I sometimes picture what it would be like to be Draco. Is that weird? Probably. I’d be a Malfoy either way – Lucius or Draco. The incredible amount of power I’d have... think about it.

Ooh – there are loads of men I’d love to be. Narrowing it down is the tricky bit, but I’m going to choose Neil Gaiman. He’s one of my favourite authors – of books, graphic novels, comic books, film scripts, even Doctor Who episodes. Not only is he talented, he also seems to be an incredibly good person. I’ve sobbed my way through all the articles and films about the time he’s spent helping in refugee camps – unlike the recent clips of David Cameron’s flying visit to one, which made me want to vomit. Plus, he’s married to a rock star. Not David Cameron – oh, you know what I mean.

7. If you could rewrite one book, which one would you choose? What would you change about it?

Does Romeo & Juliet count? I’m just going to assume it does. Everything will be exactly the same except Mercutio would live. He was simply the best character in my opinion. His death affected me more than the star-crossed lover’s tragic ending. If anyone’s read Rachel Caine’s Prince of Shadows, Mercutio’s character in that book is absolutely incredible. 

You’re rewriting actual Shakespeare? Nothing I come up with can compete with that!

Especially since my imagination is still focussed on zapping people with the eye-lasers from question 4. So I’m not going to rewrite any of the classics, I’m just going to add more lasers. There are a few books that leave me feeling dissatisfied by the lack of bloody vengeance on the part of the heroines. Some heroines are so long-suffering and down-trodden, that they truly deserve the ability to fry everyone else in the book. So I would give them all eye-lasers. Franny Price – eye lasers. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – eye lasers. Emma O’Donovan – eye-lasers.

8. A good friend of yours has written a book (or started a new blog) and she is expecting you to give it a shining review. Trouble is, you can’t stand the book (or blog) and you know that your endorsement will prompt other people to read it. What are you going to say? How much will you lie?

Ack. What a tough question! You’re really testing me today, Helen. If I wasn’t a blogger, I’d probably have lied quite a bit. But since I am a blogger, I’ve discovered just how important it is to be honest. Maybe not brutally honest – which I admit, I can be sometimes – but give constructive criticism. I’d probably lie a teeny tiny bit, only because I have this devil thing called a conscience. I’d tell them areas I think could use some improvement. Hmm, this one’s pretty tough.

 I would lie a lot

I might’ve toyed with honesty before I was published myself, but now that I’ve had a few reviews of my own, I would happily lie my head off to make it sound awesome. I watched an Oprah Winfrey special with Stephenie Meyer once – in which Oprah talked about the impact of Twilight. She shouted ‘it’s a phenomenon!’ over and over again, but never once admitted to having read (or liked) the book. It was cleverly done, but to this day, I don’t believe Oprah’s ever read Twilight. I can’t help admiring those reviews with complimentary-sounding phrases, but which avoid actually saying the book is good:– ‘There is much to love about this book!’...‘Fans of this author will not be disappointed!’...‘This author has done it again!’...‘Incredible characters, unbelievable plot and astonishing dialogue. Buy it now!’etc.

9.  There have been so many tragic deaths in fiction – Sherlock Holmes, Sirius Black, Augustus Waters, Ned Stark, and that dog that everyone always mentions in the Patrick Ness book... Which death upset you the most?

First, an honourable mention to We Were Liars for the sheer scale of tragedy. Hard to say much without spoilers, but if you haven’t read it yet, don’t get too attached to anyone. Apart from that, I think the death that upset me most occurred in The Lies of Locke Lamora. It’s a book about a city of thieves – no one is honest and no one can be trusted. Until one of the youngest and bravest characters is killed and you realise honesty isn’t everything! I had to remind myself he was only a made-up character in the first place – whilst sobbing uncontrollably.

Oh, We Were Liars was absolutely brilliant, I have to agree! This is going to so spoilery, so if you don’t like spoilers, please skip ahead to the next question!!

It’s a tie. Between Finch from Niven’s All The Bright Places and Mercutio from Caine’s Prince of Shadows. Both left me completely devastated. Like crying-sobbing-howling kind of devastated. I was not emotionally ready and I was simply in denial the whole way through as I read both books. The inevitable was going to happen, but I refused to accept it. These two were the worst deaths I’ve ever read about that broke my little cold heart into tiny fragments. Something that is almost impossible to do.

10. So...UKYAX is only two days away now. What are you most looking forward to?

Meeting people off the internet! Bloggers and authors – and thanking them for all the friendliness and support. Last year, I mostly gazed at the authors in awe and thanked a few of the bloggers (very awkwardly). Since then, I’ve chatted more on ukyachat, exchanged emails or addresses and been to a few more events, so I’m looking forward to meeting up with people as actual friends

Writing and blogging can be quite solitary, so it’s brilliant that the UKYA community is one of the friendliest on (and off!) the internet. So many genuinely lovely people! 

I’m looking forward to the books too, of course. Last year, I came away with loads of fab new books and I was proud of how many of them were signed and dedicated. This year, I am beyond excited at the idea of signing some myself!

Plus, I’m told there will be cake. See you on Saturday, Sally xx

Meeting EVERYONE. Honestly, I get so excited about big blogger/author meet up events like this because it means I get to see my friends again, or meeting people I talk to on the internet for the first time OR just generally meeting new people there! For example, at YALC this year, I spoke to many new book lovers whilst queuing for book signings and everyone is just so nice. I love that. I love meeting new people, and this is something I thought I’d never say. 

I love interacting with familiar/new authors and chat about my favourite books, about writing, about everything. Also, events like UKYAX give me the opportunity to dig for information such as any future books an author would write – spoilers. Yes. I dig around a lot for those. 

Let’s not forget the truckload of books I will be buying. I’m not even going to deny the fact that I will be buying books – I have a serious problem. And all my bookish friends will be there to give me all their recommendations and basically make me bankrupt. Ah. Good times.

Can’t wait to see you again, Helen! And I look forward to seeing everyone else too! x

Voila! We have come to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this post - thank you so much Helen! You were an absolute delight to work with and I loved your answers! (How dare you say Sirius has rat-breath? Start counting down your days.) 

Hope you guys enjoyed that as much as we did! Perhaps you got a few chuckles out of it. A huge thank you to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for organising this fab tour and inviting me to be a part of it!

For more information about UKYAX - visit the website here.

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview ladies! Your answers had me chuckling and sobbing in equal measure! Agree about the tragedy in We are Liars but. have to say the only mythical creature to have would be a unicorn. (Helen, you know what I'm saying!). Enjoy the extravaganza wish I could be there to join in the fun.