Guest Blog: Garth Nix

old kingdomWe couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix to Seven Stories this June. It goes without saying that we are HUGE fans of his epic fantasy adventures and we know you are too.

Winging his way to Newcastle – Garth will be hosting an eagerly awaited and oh so exclusive evening at Seven Stories on Tuesday 14 June.* 

As you well know – Garth’s been writing since the 1990s and has produced some of the best fantasy series including The Old KingdomThe Keys to the Kingdom and The Seventh Tower.  His stories often feature children and young adults working through the very familiar challenge of growing up which is what makes them so appealing – this and the fact they are set in fantasy worlds which add a captivating mix of adventure, wonder, and danger. Time and again his legions of die-hard fans really rate Garth’s strong, female characters and he has inspired a generation of fantasy writers including the fantastic Veronica Roth (Divergent series) and Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instrument series).

We couldn’t miss this opportunity to pick the brains of the master of storytelling – so over to Garth who is going to give us a few pointers on how to get cracking on some creative writing of our own…enjoy.

*Why not take two minutes to nip over to our website here and book your place at our event before settling back into Garth’s Guest Blog post.

Garth-NixWriting Advice

Perhaps the most important advice I can give about writing is to not take any one person’s advice about writing as the one and only way to write — including my own! Everyone finds their own techniques and methods, and sometimes they are not at all like anyone else’s or how some prominent author tells you how to write. If you like the sound of someone else’s process, give it a go. But don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out. Try some other techniques. Experiment.

Here are some very common pieces of writing advice which are often repeated, with some suggestions from me about how you might want to think more about them or modify them to work better for you.

  1. Write every day 

    This does work for a lot of people, but there are also writers who only write once a week. Or who write for one frenzied month once a year. Give all of these methods a try. See what works. Try to find a rhythm that works for you.

  1. Write what you know

    Often people think this means you can only write about what you directly experience in everyday life, like being at school or your home life. But I think “what you know” includes everything you’ve read about, or seen on TV or at the movies, or heard someone talk about, or seen in the distance. So all of history is there for you, and all previous fiction, and every film, and every small detail of nature and humanity. You can take little pieces from everything that’s ever gone into your head, and refashion them using your imagination. You don’t need to be shot in the head to be able to write about it, because chances are you’ve seen it in films and TV and read about it in books. If you want a scene about riding horses and you’ve never ridden a horse, read a bunch of the best books with horses in them. Make notes. Then imagine.

  1. Kill your darlings.

    This means deleting the very personal touches that you really love putting in your work. Say for example you have pet toads and you love them, so you put pet toads in all your stories. Possibly that historical romance or spy thriller would be better without the pet toads. But not automatically, because of some overall rule. Maybe the pet toads actually make the story more unique and more interesting! Rather than kill, consider your darlings, and whether they add anything to the overall story, but don’t automatically cut a character, or a line of dialogue, or a descriptive passage just because you really love them.

We also wanted to know why Garth decided to return to the Old Kingdom…


I always thought I would come back to the Old Kingdom and write new novels. I just had other books that were at the top of my mind and needed to be written first. In fact, I made a note about the book that would become CLARIEL (published in 2014) while I was writing LIRAEL, in about 1999-2000. And I made a number of notes for what would become GOLDENHAND while I was finishing ABHORSEN in 2001. Sometimes books need to slowly grow inside my head before I start actively writing them, and I usually have half a dozen sort of pre-novels floating about in my mind before one of them grows to the point.

Book jackets amended

Thanks for taking time to write our guest post Garth!

*Author Event* Explore the Old Kingdom with Garth Nix Tuesday 14 June, 6-8pm 

Meet Garth after the event and have your book signed. Event ticket £5. Admission not required. Suitable for ages 14+

Tickets can be purchased from the Seven Stories website.

Garth is also making a rare appearance in the UK as the Keynote speaker at Newcastle University’s Conference, Reading the Wall: Cultural Afterlives of Hadrian’s Wall on Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 June.

For more information about the conference visit their website.newcastle_master_col[1]


What EVERYone will be reading in 2016 Part 2

How are you getting on with the huge pile of YA must-reads of 2016 from Part 1? Are you ready for another stellar list of recommends?

Here goes…


All the FeelsMacmillan bring us All the Feels by Danika Stone in June, about being a fangirl (or boy). Expect laughter, tears, cosplay and lots of online craziness, as Liv fights to unite the fandom and have the studio bring her beloved hero back to life. I am absolutely loving the sound of this.

Have you read Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Bernard which was published in February? It’s a debut novel about friendship and recovery and picking up the pieces when your World falls apart – deep but well worth a read.

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie – a spine chilling novel – was published this April (why, why do I persist in trying to read these!).  It is the sequel to The Haunting of…  and Sunshine now has to learn how to harness her powers, now that they have been fully awakened.

afacelikeglassThe Challenge is the new one by Tom Hoyle – who is themselves somewhat of an enigma – sounds really exciting but also reminds me a little of something else I’ve read. The Challenge is a web-based 48-hour challenge competition, and as the tasks get wilder and more out of control, you’re either in or out, but once you’re in, you might not make it back out.

I’m expecting dark and twisted from A Face like Glass by Frances Hardinge. I don’t even know how to describe this one, but it’s out now so just go buy it! It involves an underground city, a world where expressions are taught by the most skilled craftsmen and a girl with no memory of her past who has to wear a mask at all time…what’s not to love?

Penguin Books

Riverkeep by Martin Stewart is a fantasy where humour and violence abound. Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden is for a slightly younger audience but I read and loved it so expect a full blown review soon.


Flawed-coverFlawed by Cecelia Ahern was published in March by HarperCollins and I was so looking forward to it.  It’s the YA debut from an already bestselling author, set in a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything. She has such beautifully written, emotional adult novels that I’m expecting great things from this one already – have you read it yet? Let us know what you think.

Desolation is the second in the Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy which has just landed this April! Loving this series (alright, there’s been one book but I’m already hooked!). Fast, exciting, funny and a must-read, Desolation promises to provide more of the same.  I love this series – not just because when Derek came to Seven Stories, he quoted Joss Whedon and talked about Buffy and Captain America…

Walker Books

So, Walker has given us a new Martyn Bedford, called Twenty Questions for Gloria (published February)…Two go missing. One comes back…ho ho, tense! This is a classic girl meets mysterious boy, danger ensues kind of novel, which, could be totally formulaic.  However, based on Flip which was the last book I read of his, I expect I will be dark days clubsurprised and will definitely be giving this a read.

I love the sound of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, out now, the first of the Lady Helen Trilogy. Set during the Regency period this is sold as Jane Austen-meets-Cassandra Clare, say no more.  High society, grand balls, dinners and demons!  Also, it might be a little like the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger which is an immense Steampunk series I suggest you all check out!

There are definitely books that I have missed, and this is only for the very first part of the year…2016, you are really spoiling us.

But this is the start of my reading pile and we’re off to a great start!

Which books are you looking forward to reading this year? What have I missed that I should absolutely be adding to my pile?

What EVERYone will be reading in 2016…

*Disclaimer* I have a LOT to say so brace yourself…this is Part One of my MUST reads for 2016.  Just keeping you guessing for what will be in Part Two.

So towards the end of last year I was starting to feel a little *blah* about reading and nothing on my shelves was piquing my interest. BUT this has all changed! 2016 is looking good for YA, so while I’ve read some (and will most definitely get some reviews up here soon *promise*), I thought I would try to do a little round up of the books I’m looking forward to.  This is only looking forward to the first half of the year mind – there’s plenty to keep us busy. Let’s see how many of them we all get through!

Simon and Schuster showcase…

hotpterodactylboyfFirst off Simon and Schuster has this insane sounding, so bad it’sgood, title by Alan Cumyn coming in April – Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend. I am sold on the title alone but as if you needed any more encouragement to try this little treat, you can read this superb tagline: Prepare to be blown away – or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings – by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart and completely original YA novel….Who is this winged boy, with incredible pecs and rock star talent that has swooped in on her carefully constructed life?” Utter genius.

On a more serious note Simon and Schuster are also bringing us The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung which sounds incredible.  If you read Nothing by Janne Teller a few years back, you’ll understand the comparison, but if not, then I implore you all to go out and read Nothing. I have high hopes for this title, based on the chilling true story of the Lady-Midnight-cover-GalleyCatlast execution in Denmark’s history; this award-winning, mesmerizing novel asks a question that plagues a small Danish town: does a fifteen-year-old boy deserve to be put to death? Okay, so it might not be the most cheerful title we read this year, but is 100% a book we all should read.

This next title needs no introduction, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare coming in March! The new series The Dark Artifices is the sequel to the internationally best-selling Mortal Instruments series. We’ve had some samplers in the shop already, so exciting! And a new home at Simon and Schuster, so fingers crossed for some UK promotion.

Offerings from Faber and Faber…

Erin LangeFaber and Faber have a new Erin Lange novel in March – Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah.  Here’s your teaser… The story of four teenagers, who find themselves on the run from corrupt Police officers in a stolen police car. How can you prove your innocence when the people who are supposed to protect you are the ones out to get you? This will be making it to the top of my reading pile…I adored Erin’s novel Butter and she was such a lovely and interesting speaker, when we were fortunate enough for her to visit Seven Stories.

Also coming in April is the interesting sounding The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.  Something a little bit different from the rest on my imaginary bookshelf.  Picture the scene – set in 1970s Alaska, four very different lives are about to become entangled, love, tragedy, wild luck and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier.

Bloomsbury brings you…

star struckWe are doing well from Bloomsbury, with the final book by Jenny McLachlan – StarStruck  which picks up where Sunkissed left off following the antics of Pearl – the ‘bad girl’ of the group (we all know one of those!). Expect tears, laughter and kissing. I’ve really enjoyed this fun series and I’m interested to see what she does next. Then we have The Winner’s Kiss which I am so excited for.  This is the final in Marie Rutkoski’s trilogy following Kestrel and Arin, it’s the irresistible story of forbidden romance and class warfare.

Then *deep breath* …the second book  to follow A Court of Thorns and Roses comes A Court of Mist and Fury by the fabulous Sarah J Maas…this leaves me bouncing with excitement. May *squeak* May!

BurningWe have a brand new novel, Burning by Danielle Rollins to look forward to and described as Orange is the New Black meets Carrie (intriguing, no?) Angela is 3 months shy of getting out of Juvie, when 10 year old Jessica arrives in shackles under the highest security possible, and very creepy things start happening. It sounds pretty dark, and scary, I might have to read this first thing in the morning, daylight only.  Finally, Bloomsbury bring us a new Nick Lake Book, Whisper to Me also coming in May.  This is a flashback story told through letters.  Something happened to Cassie, did she hurt the one she loved? Based on how much I enjoyed Hostage 3 and There will be Lies, I’m looking forward to this one.

Scholastic spoil us…
the sleeping princeIn February (not long to go!) Scholastic is bringing us The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury. War is raging; a dangerous enemy is stalking the land. Myth and reality are becoming one. If you came to see Melinda and Leigh Bardugo at Seven Stories last year, then you’ll know we were treated to a sneak preview reading of the first chapter and it was immense! Scholastic also bring us the fourth and final instalment of the spellbinding Raven Boys series from Maggie Stiefvater in March: expect strange and sinister, well we’d expect nothing less from Maggie!


Recommended reads from Random House…

malorie blackmanWe’re getting a double whammy from literary legend Malorie Blackman in the first half of 2016 which is amazing! So Heart Break Girl is coming in April, and it’s sure to be as thoughtful, gripping and emotional as its companion novel Boys Don’t Cry. Then we have Chasing the Stars which is a Science fiction novel based on Othello! I cannot wait to see a copy of this one! Random House are also bringing us Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which whilst I’ve not read any of his before, sounds really interesting. It’s a novel loosely based on the 60s/70s when chimpanzees were integrated into the family whilst also being experimented on by scientists. This was a thing, this was an actual thing! Children grew up with chimps as their siblings!

Hot Key – hot titles…

mind your headHot Key always brings us the goodies and we have a serious one from Juno Dawson and clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt called Mind your Head looking at mental illness. The Girl From Everywhere is coming in March by Heidi Hellig (HarperCollins) with pirates and time travelling galore. In April we have another historical novel by Alison Rattle. V for Violet is a change of pace but sounds no less dark and suspenseful…set in 1961,Violet is dreaming of greatness and passion until her long lost brother turns up and girls start to go missing…

*Phew* Well I don’t know about you but I think that is enough to keep me going for a few days! Oh…one more:

If you’re a fan of Superman but wonder why Lois Lane is always in the backseat then just wait for this gem in March, called Fallout by Gwenda Bond. It re-imagines Lois Lane as a contemporary teenager, starting high school in Metropolis, with an online friend called Smallville Guy, I’m really interested to see how this one plays out.

Right…that is it for now until Part Two.  Don’t forget to let us know what you’re reading and what you think of the titles I’m shouting about here. Join the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and let us know @7Stories #sevenstories.


VLOG: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Our very own StoryCatcher Fionn has done a brilliant Vlog reviewing Say her Name by James Dawson for our friends over at Cukcoo Review.  

If you are looking for a scary YA read on the run up to Halloween, this might just be the book for you….

Meet our YA booktuber: Fionn’s Faves #1

Because Cuckoo is a twenty-first century kind of operation, we thought we better get vlogging (about books, naturally). So meet our booktubing boy (and Cuckoo alumni) Fionn Oakes, who is going to take us on a journey though YA literature and give us a recommendation every week or two.

First up, James Dawson’s Say Her Name

Fionn’s Faves is filmed in Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books where he works a Story Catcher (yes, really). This is why, at one point, you can hear a small child shrieking in the backgroud.

Seven Stories are FABULOUS. They have a great programme of YA events, a fantastic book shop and an awesome YA blog which you can read here:

Tweet Seven Stories: @SevenStories
Tweet Fionn: @fionnoakes
Read Fionn’s blog here:

On Angel Wings – A Christmas Concert with Michael Morpurgo

We are delighted to announce that this Christmas we will be bringing Michael Morpurgo (War Horse, Private Peaceful) to the North East for a stunning Christmas concert inspired by his festive story On Angel Wings.


The concert will take place at St Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday 14 December 2015 and all the money raised will help us to continue to save, celebrate and share the wonderful world of children’s books.

This unique Christmas experience is written & performed by Michael Morpurgo, author of multi award-winning War Horse and former Children’s Laureate.

Michael Morpurgo pics 018

On Angel Wings is Michael Morpurgo’s magical retelling of the Christmas story. When the shepherds are invited to follow the star to visit the new born baby Jesus, a young boy is told to stay behind and mind the flock but the Angel Gabriel returns to take him on a memorable flight to be the first to witness the Christmas miracle.

The story follow Rachel, age 8, who for the first time is allowed to join her brothers and sisters visiting their grandfather – Amos, as he carries out his annual ritual of a night in the hills, where he worked as a young shepherd boy.

Grandfather is delighted to see the children and a special bond is established between him and Rachel. He tells them how she reminds him of a magical night; he then proceeds to recount it.

He explains how, ahead of the other shepherds protecting their flock with him, he is flown away by the Angel Gabriel, to be the first visitor to the newly born Christ child.

On Angel Wings – The Concert is performed by Michael himself with a beautiful selection of carols sung by a cappella group Voices at the Door and directed by Simon Reade.

Booking essential. £15 per adult and £12 per child. Click here to book your ticket today.  

Event supported by Bond Dickinson

and Newcastle University

BOOK REVIEW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Our friend Rita over at Weaving Pages has written a brilliant blog reviewing Six of Crows before our event with Leigh Bardugo on Friday 23 October at 6pm. Over to Rita….

Hello everyone!

Six of Crows is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone!23006119

Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: Six of Crows #1

Publisher: Indigo

Published: September 29th 2015

No. of Pages: 528

The Grisha Trilogy introduced readers to the irresistible fantasy world of the Grisha – and now Leigh Bardugo brings us a new sweeping epic.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price – and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction – if they don’t kill each other first. -(Goodreads)

I feel like I’ve been hitting the jackpot with all these books lately, because I’m following my review of Queen of Shadows with yet another 5 star book: Six of Crows. This book is being released 29th September, and if there is one thing you do that day, make it be running to the bookstore to buy this. Anyone who loves a tale of unfortunate souls, cunning plans and even more cunning escapes will feel like Six of Crows is a dream come true. Don’t miss it!

The plot to this novel is a wonder to behold. Set in the Grisha world- the same that the author’s Shadow & Bone series is set in –Six of Crows offers a whole new host of characters to give you a new insight on the world you thought you knew. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the original series like me, this will out do your expectations. I carted this hefty novel with me everywhere, even if it meant having to acquire some more upper arm strength. With the story constantly knotting itself into the trickiest of situations, the solutions almost seem to be magic: not a single one is predictable in the slightest. It’s the perfect combination of nail-biting suspense followed by the slightest relief before you’re pulled into the story once more. Not a single detail is missed, so the streets and ice fortresses come to life just like if you were infiltrating them yourself.

The new group of characters is also a gem itself. The personalities are as different as they come, meaning it is unlikely that you won’t find someone to root for. What is likely is that you’ll find yourself wanting them all to win the dangerous game they’re playing, even as you begin to question their intentions or worry about their next move. Spontaneous does not begin to describe the ways they will surprise you. Even though the plot twists are brilliant, you can not help but get the sense the characters are running the show, which of course means you’ll have no control of your emotions. Look out for my favourites: Nina, who fights for what she wants and what she loves; Kaz, for his genius ideas and uncertain character that I can’t wait to be developed; Inej, for her gentle strength but badass fighting skills and a load more of them who were equally amazing.

Six of Crows will leave you reeling for the next book, still trying to process what has just happened. I can tell you one thing: this is just the beginning. The danger and thrill is not prepared to end along with the first book, and I’m sure the next novel will be just as good if not better. This is going to be one of the series that takes us bookish people by storm- I was definitely not expecting it!

If you like Six of Crows, try:

  • Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

CLICK HERE to book your tickets for Magic and Mayhem with Leigh Bardugo and Melinda Salisbury at Seven Stories on Friday 23 October 2015.

*New Event* Magic and Mayhem with Leigh Bardugo and Melinda Salisbury

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destructionSix of Crows – if they don’t kill each other first.  Six of Crows is out this September.

Don’t miss your chance to meet New York Times’ best-selling author Leigh Bardugo at Seven Stories on Friday 23 October at 6pm. An outspoken and hugely warm and witty speaker –  she will tell all about her brand new book Six of Crows.  Leigh will be joined by special guest Melinda Salisbury, a debut author with a glittering future, as they bring plenty of magic and far too much mayhem to Seven Stories.  Fans of YA fiction will love hearing from these leading names in the fantasy genre and picking up top tips about their writing process.

Here are just a handful of nuggets from Leigh to get you started – Banish perfection. Commit to writing a terrible first draft. Read outside of your comfort zone to help develop your own voice. There is no expiration date on your talent.

Leigh BardugoLeigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

Click here to book your tickets before they fly away.

Event fee is £5 per person.  Admission to the centre is free. Event tickets can be redeemed against a copy of the authors’ books. This offer is valid only on book sales at Seven Stories on October 23rd and only redeemable against books by Leigh Bardugo and Melinda Salisbury.

Join the conversation #SixofCrows #grishaarmy @7Stories