Thursday, 11 June 2015

Ten Things I Love About THE CROWHAM MARTYRS by Jane McLoughlin

Here are the Ten Things I Love About THE CROWHAM MARTYRS!

1. Maddy 
2. Jane

Ghosts don't scare Maddy Deeprose  she's seen them all her life. So when her mum sends her to creepy old boarding school Crowham Martyrs, Maddy isn't worried. 

But when her friends start disappearing, Maddy knows it's time to be scared. 

Something is lurking at Crowham Martyrs. Something evil. 

Is the place that is supposed to keep Maddy safe about to become the hunting ground?

I love this book and am terrifically proud to be its editor. I was quite tempted to just fill this post with 'I LOVE CROWHAM MARTYRS' over and over again, but I thought instead I'll be a proper, coherent human and explain to you why I love it. I am going to update this each day with one of the Ten Things I Love About The Crowham Martyrs!

1. Maddy

For me, a story is as fun as the characters living it, so, you know, NO PRESSURE MADDY. Luckily, Maddy is Pretty Damn Awesome and I loved her from the moment I started reading. Maddy confides in the reader and feels like a friend, and her dry sense of humour is perfect for guiding us through the weird goings on. She's also not afraid to sneak out of bed and run through the creepy corridors of Crowham Martyrs searching for clues (which is lucky really, as I would definitely be too scared to do that and would have just ended up staying in my room and having no adventures if it wasn't for Maddy.) 

2. Jane

As the woman who birthed Maddy from her brain, it was a safe bet that Jane was going to be Pretty Damn Awesome too. And she is! Our editorial meeting was a big chat over a glass of winehighly professional discussion on the nuances of language and the editing process was so much fun, with me getting to ask lots of nosy questions about the characters and the wonderful world Jane had created. As well as being a rather brilliant author (her first book, AT YELLOW LAKE, was long listed for the Carnegie and the Branford Boase and shortlisted for the Amazing Book Award), Jane is also an enthusiastic member of the author community, doing tonnes of stuff with SCWBI, lots of school events and generally shouting loud about books. I am not quite sure where she finds the time to sleep and eat among all this and so I think she could well be a vampire.

3. The cover

Designed and illustrated by the completely fantastic Pip Johnson, this cover is so lovely looking I want to run outside waving it in windows and and thrusting it into people’s faces in the street.

I think it completely captures the feeling of the book – when I write the cover brief I try to sum up how I think it feels to read the book, and the things that I want people to know are in there. With this book I wanted people to know that there were spooky, witchy things going on, that there was a crumbling old boarding school, but also that the story was fun, funny and exciting. That’s rather a lot to cram into a cover (sorry Pip!). The design went through a few versions and we took feedback from the sales team and booksellers. And Pip’s final version I think has combined all of that into a fabulous jacket that does justice to the story inside.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off for a spot of book-waving.  

One of the reasons I commissioned this book is because I used to walk around old houses and castles desperate to see ghosts. So when I discovered that this book was set in a centuries-old boarding school, cut off from the outside world and full of secret passageways, forbidden rooms and spooky portraits of stern-looking gentlemen in wigs whose eyes follow you around, I was delighted.

And I can confirm that my lifelong search for a ghost-sighting is now successful… 

5. Goosebumps in the laundrette

This book already has a good track record of spooking people in interesting places. It frightened Jane’s agent on a crowded bus, the marketing director and cover designer Pip was overcome with fear in the laundrette, and someone who wishes to remain anonymous was reading a particularly scary bit on a train and then looked around with a wide-eyed expression as if to say ‘wasn’t that terrifying’, forgetting that the other people on the didn’t know what she was reading and so would just think she was weird.

We would like this book to keep scaring people in odd places, so if you get spooked in the bath, terrified on the toilet or petrified in the pantry* do let us know!

*I am not totally sure what a pantry is, so perhaps you could let me know that as well.

6. Books


This book contains a secret library. And the books in that library might just hold clues to the mystery of what is happening at Crowham Martyrs. And when Maddy finds them you might just get to glimpse inside…

Basically I couldn’t not love a book with books in. And Jane has also kept alive my dream of one day discovering a secret library.

7. Witches

Witch trials are, I think, one of the most strange, fascinating and mind-boggling strands in history. When this book landed in my inbox, knowing that the story involved witches was one of the main reasons I started reading it immediately.

I am jealous of Maddy and her classmates having a history teacher like Mr Casey, who hijacks a lesson to tell them about witch trials. I don’t think a book set in my school, touching on the themes of crop rotation in the middle ages, would have been quite as exciting.

8. Editing

I have already mentioned how much fun I had working with Jane on this book, but I thought that the editing process deserved its own mention. I knew I loved Maddy’s voice, the characters – Missy, Mr Casey, Hannah to name my favourites – leapt out of the page full formed, and I completely believed in the world of the book.

So that paves the way for the most fun kind of editing. Which is really just being an irritating house guest. It is walking around inside the book, prodding stuff, looking behind doors and curtains, picking up interesting looking objects and asking annoying questions.

9. OMG

There’s YA, NA, MG and while obviously we would classify THE CROWHAM MARTYRS as RAAGP (readers of all ages and general people), Jane came up with the brilliant term OMG for Older Middle Grade, which I absolutely love, because for me the age of 10/11/12 was a magical reading age, when I was realising just the sheer amount of books there were awaiting me and I could get completely swept away in a story and a world.

And I really enjoy that I get to write ‘OMG’ on the Advance Information sheets as part of my job.

10. Secrets...

There is someone hiding in this book. Will you find them? 


  1. I think that was actually two glasses of wine...or was that two serious and professional discussions? Oh, it's all a blur!

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