Monday, 14 July 2014


Good day Catnip friends!

As the weather turns lovely and sunny you might find yourself taking a trip to the seaside.


If you find yourself in Screaming Sands, the town that's full of spirits, you may find a few strange folk lurking on the beach. Ghosts, ghouls, witches, zombie donkeys and dead circus people to be exact. If, like I do, you actually think that sounds rather fun, then you should definitely read this book:


When her aunt gets dumped, bridesmaid Jess is out of a job. So she decides to put herself up for hire in local newspaper the Darkington Times. 

But Jess discovers that in a seaside ghost town the path to true love runs far from smooth and she soon finds herself in the middle of a scare-raising adventure.

Can Jess outwit the dastardly Duke of Spooks and get a couple of lovesick ghosts to the church on time? 

9781846471698 Publishing 14 Aug 2014. 

(And there are two other hilarious books set in Screaming Sands, which are available now - THE DAY THE DONKEY DROPPED DEAD 9781846471575 and ATTACK OF THE BALLISTIC BLANKET 9781846471643.)

Today I am thrilled to be revealing the TRULY BRILLIANT cover. (And I am allowed to say that, because I didn't design it, the fabulous Tim Rose did, and all illustrations are by Tom Morgan-Jones.) To mark the occasion I thought I would interview Sam and what better place than Screaming Sands's spooky cafe, the Whistling Kettle?

Hello Sam! Welcome to Screaming Sands, the town that’s full of spirits. (But then you know all about that, being the author and all!) Pull up a scare – sorry, I mean a chair – in the Whistling Kettle café. Would you like a drink?

Oh...err... Snot Chocolate please! Or maybe something stronger. A Gin & Toxic, please or perhaps a Bloody Mary. Must keep out the cold! Oh, wait... I see they do milksnakes! Clawberry please! 

Super! While the Snot Chocolate is very tempting, I’ll have champain. So, for readers who’ve never visited, could you tell us a bit about this seaside ghost town?

Oh it’s great. It’s got everything the undead could ever want... rain, cold, dark - lots of dark! Did I mention the rain? Oh and then there’s spiders... Enormous spiders!!! Hey...? Where are you going? ...Don’t leave...STOP!
[Sam rugby tackles interviewer and sellotapes her to her chair]

See, Catnip friends, I told this town was full of oddballs!! Could you at least feed me my champain Sam? Thank you. Now, along the oddball theme, this book is called BATTLE OF THE BEACH FREAKS. Could you introduce us to some of the freaks we are going to meet?

Well, there are lots of freaky ghosts, such as the Flying Leep-aleenies - the best acrobats ever to have lived. Or died! They broke their necks when a high wire trick went wrong. They still like to tumble though sometimes they get their heads and legs jumbled up, a bit. 

There’s also the Duke of Spooks. He’s sort of dead but isn’t. And he’s really bad! He’s got really big hair, too.
Oh and there’s Jess, the hero of the story. She’s not actually dead yet. She’s about to be a bridesmaid when the bride gets jilted. So she hires herself out to dead circus people. Jess is funny and fast and great at kicking her annoying older brother. (A useful life skill, I always think).
Then there’s the spiders... Did I mention the spiders? 

Well that all sounds terrifying. If I wasn't sellotaped to this chair I would make a run for it. Apart from Jess - Jess sounds fun, if a bit kicky. Time to order food! I think I’ll have ghoulash with a side of dready salted crisps. What do you fancy?

Well, as this café is famous for i-scream, I’ll have one scoop of shock-late and a scoop of vankiller please!


And to you! So, where did you get the idea for this story?, [author searches the filing cabinets of her brain] ... I love the seaside, but I don’t like sun or crowds much. So I tend to go on wet, cold days when no one else is there. Seaside towns in the winter have loads of atmosphere and it’s easy to imagine a different type of customer (the pulse-less variety) hanging out there. Plus when I was a kid I always wanted to be a bridesmaid. But I didn’t know many brides so I considered hiring myself out! I used to daydream about attending weird weddings! 

If you could be any character from your books, who would you be?

I love Jess. She impetuous and fiery! She does stuff without worrying about the consequences. Whereas I tend to leave the house with a giant bag bulging with stuff I might need, just in case. Stuff like spare clothes, snacks, money, passport, lucky pebbles, six blunt pencils, emergency mint cake, because you never know... Also Jess gets to fly and wear a dress made of cobwebs. Did I mention the spiders?

I’d also quite like to be Brimstone, the chameleon from ATTACK OF THE BALLISTIC BLANKET (Screaming Sands book 2). He’s a shape-shifting magical lizard. Then I could be anything I want to be... dog, cat, giant woolly mammoth! Imagine!!! 

I'd love to be Brimstone! He was my favourite character in book two. And I could shape shift out of this sellotape. What about a character from another book?

I have an enormous sweet tooth (and loads of fillings!), so please may I be Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate factory and then I could go and live in the factory and eat and eat until I pop and my teeth dissolve. 

I’d also quite like to be Danny Woo from the Mysterium series by Julian Sedgwick. He’s a magician and escapologist and he can do this awesome hypnosis trick that makes people do what he wants!! That would be super useful - I could get my family to do all the chores! 

I’ve just heard that the dastardly Duke of Spooks has derailed all the trains out of Screaming Sands! Looks like we are going to be stranded here for a few years, possibly eternity (the noticeboards just say ‘delayed’ at the moment). It’s lucky you’ve brought a suitcase with your favourite book, person and luxury item inside! So what will you have accompanying you on your endless stay on this spooky beach?

Oh, I don’t mind staying. I love cold, wet, dark places. And spiders! And i-scream! But it’s good to have some stuff from home with me... I brought along a giant encyclopaedia, because I’m super nosey and always need to find out lots of things about a lot of stuff. I also brought Martin, our Cat. He’s not at all useful. He’s dim and scared of everything. But he is a black cat. So he’ll help me fit in with the witchy folk staying in Screaming Sands. It’s always a good idea to blend in with the crowd when you go on holiday - especially when the crowd could turn you into a two headed toad if they didn’t like the look of you. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I’d quite like to be magic. Is that a job?

No. Okay... Librarian, then. But only if I can work in a small, dark, dusty old library that no-one ever visits, then I could just read all day, unbothered by people!

Alternatively I love pencils, so could I be a pencil tester in a pencil factory please? 

Do you have a favourite place to write? And where will you write now you are stranded in Screaming Sands FOREVER?

I can write anywhere. I’m not fussy. I don’t go out much, so most of my books are written in my messy cupboard. It’s small and dark and I’ve got so much paper and junk stacked up on the desk that I can barely see my computer screen! I have to shove it off each morning, before I start work. Actually, I’d quite like to stay here in the café... I can have endless cups of coffee and buckets of i-scream! Actually, my tummy’s rumbling. Can I have another sundae? I’ve heard the ‘Doris’ is very good. Want to try one? Did you know it is named after a dead donkey?

I did! I read all about Doris in THE DAY THE DONKEY DROPPED DEAD. She's my all-time favourite zombie donkey and I lurk around Screaming Sands hoping I'll catch a glimpse of her! Oh, I’ve just heard they’ve put on a replacement bus service. You can go home! Don’t worry about the bill – the folks at the Whistling Kettle Café say it’s on the house as thanks for the screamingly funny books you are writing about the town. But before you leave, could you introduce the brand new cover for Battle of the Beach Freaks?

Sure. Here goes... What do you reckon? The magic pixies at Catnip have done an awesome job, haven’t they??!!

I quite agree! Those pixies are terribly helpful. And here's an extra surprise - we are going to show you the back cover too! Isn't the Screaming Sands sign lovely? They cleaned it especially for the photo. That's it from me for now - Sam never untied me and now everyone has left the cafe and turned the lights off. I hope none of the ghosts come to get me.

What's that noise?



Thursday, 10 July 2014

STARRING KITTY BLOG TOUR: Exclusive first look

Hello and Happy Thursday!

At the beginning of the week we had to announce the very frustrating news that the fabulous STARRING KITTY by the also fabulous Keris Stainton had been held up and wouldn't be arriving for another two weeks. These faces all round at Catnip Towers: >:(
(Particularly for me - I have the proof cover and pages on my desk and want to share!)

So to stop me running out into the street and reading the book aloud to strangers, Keris has something rather exciting for you all while we wait for Kitty to arrive - the Starring Kitty blog tour! There are ELEVEN posts for you to read and the chance to find out a bit more about Kitty, and her best friends Hannah and Sunny before you are properly introduced to them on 24 July.

To kick off the tour, I am rather excited to be posting the opening chapters of the book. 

So I hope you enjoy the chance to meet Kitty, Sunny and Hannah (plus someone else rather special) and follow the tour for plenty more fun Kitty-related stuff!

Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes… 
Kitty's keeping secrets. Like how she's struggling to cope with her mum's illness. And how she's falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair... A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty's secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?