Friday, 30 January 2015

EDGE NEWS: The EDGE at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School—Report

Edge authors Katie Dale, Keren David, Sara Grant and Dave Cousins recently visited Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in London for an afternoon of events. Here's a report on the day from the EGA Newsletter (30/01/15). Thanks to Lesley Cheetham and all the schools and students involved.

If you would be interested in holding an EDGE event at your school or library, please let us know.
Email: for more information.

Friday, 23 January 2015

We love UKYA Book Bloggers!

If you’re reading this, chances are
a) You like books
b) You like reading blogs

So you might be interested in the inaugural UKYA Bloggers Awards! 

Here on The Edge we LOVE book bloggers, and here are some of the reasons why:

“In the current climate where print newspapers are cutting back on, or completely ignoring children's book reviews, it's very difficult to let potential readers know about a book. It's especially hard for debut writers to get noticed (unless they happen to be a celebrity already if course!). Readers would miss out on so many great books if it wasn't for the blogging community and all the love and effort they put into reading these books, then writing and talking about them. Bloggers, we salute you!” – Dave Cousins

“Book bloggers amaze me with their dedication and stamina for reading. They have also proved to be very loyal and in relation to my own Y.A. novels, have provided me with opportunities to communicate with an audience, and also some very important review quotes. Long may they blog!” – Miriam Halahmy

“We're so lucky to have such a great blogging community in the UK, especially as they've taken up the cause of #UKYA with such enthusiasm and energy. It's increasingly difficult to get review space in newspapers for any books, let alone YA books, and bloggers fill that gap, with their thoughtful and considered reviews.”  – Keren David

“Bloggers are great because they champion reading and prove that the love of literature and enthusiasm for what authors are doing endures!”-  Bryony Pearce 

In this day and age book bloggers are a vital, and incredibly valuable part of the book world, and I personally am so grateful to all the bloggers who took part in and helped me organize my blog-tours for both Someone Else’s Life and Little White Lies, and for the countless others who took the time to read and review them. As a debut author, I had little or no idea how to tell people about my upcoming book, found it all a bit daunting and awkward, and had no idea how to create a blogtour, so I contacted over 20 bloggers, hoping that just a few might be able and willing to take part. But without fail, every blogger I contacted not only said yes, but replied with such enthusiasm and helpfulness that I ended up including them all in the blogtour, which consequently became much bigger than I initially planned! And I always love visiting book bloggers' sites because without fail I will discover a new and exciting book to add to my TBR pile!

Each blog, and each blogger is different, with unique voices and niches and perspectives, but what unites them is a pure love for books, and for sharing this passion with other readers, and this shines through on every blogger’s website.

And the fact that they do all of this for free, in their own spare time, between exams/jobs/sleep is just incredible. They are quite simply awesome. 

In recognition of this awesomeness, the lovely Andy Robb decided it was about time bloggers themselves were given awards. And so the UKYA Bloggers Awards was born. The 33 nominees were voted for by publishers and authors, and there will be an awards ceremony with a superb range of prizes, sponsored by publishers; trophies, sponsored by a marketing company; and authors, publishers and the press will come together to celebrate the stars of the night: the bloggers. 

As is so often the case, great minds think alike, and Faye at has also launched awards for Book Bloggers – The UKYA Book Bloggers Awards! This time, anyone can get involved in the nominations, which include categories such as Best Newcomer, Best Oldtimer (3 years+), Best Teen Blogger, Most Passionate Blogger, Best Booktuber and Prettiest Blog. If you’d like to nominate your favourite blogger, click here – but hurry! Nominations close on 26th January! The shortlist and next stage of voting will open on 1st February.

Good luck to all the fantastic bloggers! In my book, you all deserve an award.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

EDGE NEWS: School Events Update

On Wednesday 21 Jan 2015, Edge authors Katie Dale, Keren David, Sara Grant and Dave Cousins will be at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in North London, for an afternoon of panel events and writing workshops. Students from three nearby schools have been invited to join pupils from EGA, with Pea Green Boat Books on hand to sell books. 

If you'd like to host an Edge event at your school or library, please email for more information.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Celebrating Rock Cake Day and the Great Readers in our Lives.

Edge Author Dave Cousins on books, baking and inspirational readers.

In our house, January 16th is Rock Cake Day!

My nan would have been ninety-four today, and each year we mark her birthday by baking a batch of Rock Cakes, using the closely guarded secret recipe (don't even ask!) she developed and passed on to us.

At this point some of you may be thinking—“Hang on a minute! I thought this was the Edge? The home of gritty YA fiction. Why’s this bloke babbling on about buns?” 
Let me explain …

Apart from her legendary baking skills, my Nan was also a great reader. (She is the only person I have ever met who managed to read the entire works of Charles Dickens—twice!) Her love of books started when she caught whooping cough as a child and had to spend long periods of time in hospital. Her dad was a big reader and, worried that his daughter might be missing out, took books in for her. When she got home, my nan still wasn’t strong enough to play outside, but found plenty of adventure and excitement in the stories she'd discovered.

Her first job, aged 16, was as a seamstress with a small firm in Birmingham in the 1930s. Keen that her workforce of young, sometimes poorly-educated, girls should find further enrichment, the owner started a tradition of reading aloud during the lunch break. My nan told me how they worked their way through the Old and New Testament of the Bible, before moving onto Dickens and Shakespeare—a bit different to Radio One blasting away in the staff canteen!

As I little kid, I remember Nan as always having a book on the go. It made me think that there might be something in this reading business—so I copied her, and started carrying A Bear Called Paddington around with me! I’ll admit that to begin with I didn’t open it that often, but after a while I gave it a go—and of course, I was hooked.

As I got older, I began recommending what I was reading to her. I’m not sure how much she actually enjoyed The Three Investigators series, but she read them, and we talked about how great they were. In turn, she lent me The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down (the first book to make me cry, sitting up in bed at 2am, sobbing by torchlight!) But the greatest passion we shared was Robert Westall. We were on a mission to collect and read his entire works. Sadly, my Nan died before we could complete the quest, but we did a pretty good job. I am now keeper of the collection—still guarded by the pig bookends she used to keep them in place.

Readers need each other—just as much as writers need readers, and readers need writers! I suspect that human beings have an innate need to share the things we like. (Have a quick look at Facebook or Twitter if you don't believe me.) We see a fantastic film, hear a great record or read a brilliant book, but it’s as though the process isn’t complete until we can tell somebody about it—and stories are meant for sharing 

So, to all the great readers I have known and talked books with—but especially my nan—Happy Rock Cake Day! And if there is one special person who first introduced you to this wonderful world of books, why not give them a call—find out what they're reading, or meet up and share stories over a brew and a rock cake! You know it makes sense.


Who is your inspirational reader? Please leave a comment and let us know your story.

Friday, 9 January 2015

An author's reaction to the murder of twelve cartoonists

Writers have always run the risk of persecution and those who challenge beliefs run the greatest risk; from the Natural Scientists who wrote that the world was not flat, to Salman Rushdie, who had a death fatwa put on his head on February 14th 1989, after Satanic Verses was published.  To this day I remember the violence, the book burning and the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the UK and Iran.

I was terrified for Rushdie, but he has survived for so long that most Westerners probably don’t realise that the fatwa upon him remains in force.

What happened in Paris this week is something new.  Decisive, horrifying terrorism that saw twelve peaceable cartoonists, proponents of free speech, hunted like animals and shot.

Some might say that the cartoonists had warning (the office had already been fire bombed after an incendiary publication) and that they should have been more careful about what they wrote afterwards. Some might say that writers should simply not provoke religious extremists.

That is akin to a rape apologist suggesting that a woman in a short skirt is asking for it.

What if every Natural Scientist, for fear of retribution, had continued to maintain that the world was flat? Why haven’t extremists learned over centuries that you simply cannot silence ideas by killing writers?

The book has not been penned that has not offended someone, somewhere. Harry Potter offended the US Bible belt with its depiction of witchcraft, even Winnie the Pooh has been banned from schools in Poland due to his dubious sexuality and inappropriate dress.

Books by their nature are open to individual translation. No author can follow every copy of their book around the world explaining what they really meant to every reader. Anyone with a desire to do so can read something offensive into the most innocent of words. And sadly, many people want to find offense.

If the only literature that was published was unable to upset anyone, then the world would be a very dull place – with no sign of the written word anywhere.

Most people don’t pick up a gun when they are angered by the words of a writer (or their own interpretation of those words). But some do attack. Nowadays authors who trawl the internet, or have their own social media accounts can see exactly how and who their words have offended.

It’s bullying. I don’t like your words, so I will shoot you down, metaphorically or, as this week has shown us, literally.

But the crazy thing is that being a writer means, by definition, that you cannot be silenced. Ultimately you can take away the writer, but his legacy will live on. You cannot take away the written word.

For the cartoonists of France, who preferred to die standing, what can we do?

Well, we can read their work (I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo before this week, but the actions of the terrorists have spread the publication’s message around the world), and we, as writers, can continue writing, unbowed by the bullies, unafraid that our words might cause offense (because inevitably they will, to someone, somewhere) and ultimately defiant in the face of those who would silence the tapping of our keyboards, with the rat a tat tat of machine gun fire.

Je suis Charlie

Friday, 2 January 2015

Fifty-Five Books by Savita Kalhan

I gave myself a challenge in January 2014 – to read 55 books in a year. I read a lot, and I read a huge variety, but until a couple of years ago, I have never bothered to count how many books I read in a year. I’ve used Goodreads to track what I’ve read and when I’ve read it. Some of the books I’ve read have been for ‘work’, some for research and others for sheer pleasure.

Well, by the end of December 2014, I made it to the magic 55 books read mark. Amongst the huge variety of books I read there are some books that have really stayed with me. I wanted to share some of my favourite teen/YA reads amongst them.

Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman 
 Set at the end of the American Civil War, a desperate time of lawlessness and violence , a girl named Charley, a young African-American slave, is forced to steal the clothes off a dead man’s back and join the army. Another brilliant story of survival in a brutal time from Tanya Landman.

The Hob and the Deerman by Pat Walsh

Fans of the Crowfield Curse, like me, will love the Hob and the Deerman. Pat Walsh’s story-telling is beautiful, magical and dark all at the same time. I’m eagerly awaiting the next Hob Tale.

Lockwood and Co – The Case of the Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

It’s the first in a series of the adventures of the three agents of Lockwood & Co. Mysterious and enigmatic Anthony Lockwood, fearless Lucy Carlyle and geeky George Cubbins, the three teen ghost-busters tackle London’s epidemic of ghosts and ghouls. It’s funny, scary and completely entertaining.

Wish Me Dead by Helen Grant
Set in the little German town of Bad Munstereifel, Steffi and her friends visit the old witches house in the dead of night. This is a creepy, thrilling story with the message: be careful what you wish for...

Between Two Seas by Marie Louise Jensen

Marianne has promised her dying mother that she will search for her father on her death. But her father is in Denmark. Set in the late 19th century, Between Two Seas is the story of Marianne’s brave journey from Grimsby to an inhospitable and strange land in search of the truth about who she is.

The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden

Set in Blarney, on the doorstep of the faerie world of Tir na nOg, orphan Maddy comes to live with her grandparents and tries to come to terms with the loss of her parents. As in The Feral Child, she once again becomes embroiled with the dangerous games and treachery of the faerie world – but this time they threaten the balance of the world. A great read!

Apache by Tanya Landman

Apache is the story of orphan Siki of the Black Moutain Apache tribe and her quest to become a warrior. It’s also a story of death and of revenge, set in a time when the settlers arrived and fenced off huge areas of Indian land. Brilliant!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I’ve just finished this YA read and really enjoyed it. It’s pacy, it’s very evocative of a different time and place, and there is a wonderful cast of real characters. Set in 1950’s New Orleans, Out of the Easy is the story of Josie, the daughter of a prostitute, struggling to find a way out of the poverty of the Quarter to follow her dream.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Quite simply a beautiful read.


I’ll be attempting the same target of 55 books again this year. Although with so many books on my to-be-read pile I fear I’ll always be playing catch-up!

I really hope you’ll share some of your stand-out teen/YA reads of the year in the comments – the more book recommendations the better!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us here at the Edge!

Savita's website

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