Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review of The Artificial Anatomy of Parks by Kat Gordon

Title: The Artificial Anatomy of Parks
Author: Kat Gordon

Genre: Literary fiction

Themes: Betrayal and a search for identity

Synopsis: At twenty-one, Tallulah Park lives alone in a grimy bedsit. There’s a sink in her bedroom and a strange damp smell that means she wakes up wheezing. Then she gets the call her father has had a heart attack.

Years before she was being tossed around her difficult family: a world of sniping aunts, precocious cousins, emigrant pianists and lots of gin, all presided over by an unconventional grandmother. But no one was answering Tallie’s questions: why did aunt Vivienne loathe Tallie’s mother? Who was Uncle Jack and why would no one talk about him? And why was everyone making excuses for her absent father?

As Tallie grows up, she learns the hard way about damage and betrayal, that in the end, the worst betrays are those we inflict on ourselves. This is her story about the journey from love to loss and back again.

Review: This novel takes us on a roller-coaster ride of Tallie’s emotional turmoil, triggered by her father’s heart attack. Through a series of interwoven flashbacks to Tallie’s childhood interwoven with the present day action, we discover how secrets and half-heard truths have influenced Tallie’s whole life.
The author Kat Gordon has evidently done a lot of medical research for her novel The Artificial Anatomy of Parks. The book is split into five sections: Heart, Skin, Bones, Blood, and Heart Again. Each body parts parallels Tallie’s life and they are used as metaphors for Tallie’s emotions. Each medical emergency acts as a cornerstone for another development and surprising discovery.
The story will tug at your heart strings as you cross your fingers in the hope Tallie’s father will survive.

Publisher: Legend Press

ISBN: 2370000206244

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Sue Eves asked me to join The Writing Process Blog Tour and talk a bit about my writing process and then post it on my blog. You can read all about Sue’s writing process on her blog:

Although I said, ‘Yes! I’ll join the tour!’ as it is not like me to turn down a chance to try my hand at writing something new  - I feel a bit of a fraud for two major reasons:
  •   I have not actually posted anything on my blog for over two years.
  • At the moment, I have no commissions - I am working on nothing!

Well, actually this last statement is not necessarily true because…

What am I currently working on? 
I write something every day, even on days I don’t think I am writing anything.
  1. I am researching, writing and sending out questionnaires to authors about their research for my column Research Secrets in Writers’ Forum . I am also editing several completed questionnaires, cutting and formatting the authors’ answers to the required length and ensuring they meet the brief of being about their research into their book, before sending them to my editor. He has three features on file from me at the moment. This means I have filled my slot in the magazine until August, so I am not in any particular hurry.
  2. I am working on a picture book text, honing and polishing and trying to get it perfect before sending it to a commissioning editor at a large publishing company in the hope that they may want it. There is no deadline as nobody knows I am writing it, so I am not in a particular hurry.
  3. I am writing the very last two chapters of a middle grade time-slip fantasy novel using Scrivener, which I have not used before but I wanted to explore it to see how it worked. For this novel, I’ve realised my antagonists are a bit shallow and want to explore this a bit and make them more formidable and also change their appearance. But… there is no deadline and nobody has expressed a real interest in it, so I am not in a particular hurry.
  4. I am thinking, researching and writing notes on an idea for a new novel, which is YA. This is for an older age range than I normally write fiction for. It is very dark and maybe totally inappropriate for children! I have written the first eight chapters and plotted out the rest of the book. I know who, what, where, when and how and want to concentrate on building the characters’ emotional arc. But… there is no deadline and I have not told anybody much about it yet, so I am not in a particular hurry.
  5. I am writing this for my blog, in between checking out Facebook, watering my virtual garden and playing spider solitaire. It is not due until the 12th May and it is still April (just). I have not posted on my blogs for years and I seriously doubt anybody is going to read it really. I also know I can edit and change it whenever I like… so there is no urgency and consequently - I am not in a particular hurry… but I know I will be!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Writing to commission for the educational market is different to writing for the general fiction market because you know it will be published and you usually have very tight deadlines. You are also writing to a brief. I get some very tight briefs and I am not talking about my underwear! For example, the last project I was working on and finished in February, was for a Spanish toy company, World Alive S.L.  I was asked to write 24 pen-friend style letters for four different kits for their adventure passport project. The letters each had to be a separate adventure to include the destination, photos, food and animals they had previously decided.

As well as the brief, we had several Skype sessions discussing the project and how I was going to proceed.

The most difficult part was inventing 24 different adventures that included the stickers and photographs for each country that they had all ready put into production. You might think it sounds like a nightmare but I enjoyed every second of it, even the editing of the stories to reduce word count and take into consideration cultural significant facts I was previously unaware of. I believe I did an excellent job fitting it all together.

Why do I write what I do?
I write for the educational market because it is fun! I have a good knowledge of the school curriculum and the levels which children work. I also enjoy working to a brief and fitting it all together like a jigsaw puzzle. I love the fact I have a deadline and the majority of the time I work as part of a team discussing, changing and manipulating ideas as we go. Each project is like its own adventure.

How does my writing process work?
I saw this posted on Facebook a few weeks back and it struck me as so true. I have edited it a bit to make it more relevant and take out the swear words in case my mother decides to read this post!

Honestly, this is how my writing process works.

I say on my website I work well to a deadline! What I mean is if I don’t have a deadline the work probably will not be done. I need the sense of urgency to get myself into gear! This is why I am brilliant at working to commission but not so good at writing my own stuff which nobody has asked for!

So that is it folks maybe for another two years. But who knows maybe I will get the urge to post again!

Meanwhile take a look at the excellent writers I am going to pass the baton on to and they will tell you all about their writing process next Monday 19th May.

David Seow

David Seow was born and raised in Singapore. He studied at Anglo-Chinese School, Oregon Episcopal School and the University of Portland, Oregon. After a stint in sitcom writing, David embarked on a career in children's literature. David is the author of several well-received children's books, including The Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series. His book ‘There's Soup on My Fly’ was shortlisted for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award and was dramatized at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in 2012. His latest books are "If I were a Blue Kangaroo" and "Emma’s Elephant" and “At the Night Safari” and “A Day with the Duchess”. 
Read about his writing process at:

Emma Nicholson

I am a born scavenger, picking up ideas from all walks of life. I've lived abroad on and off, and am currently in Singapore where my first book was published in January. I've made my writing life out here, and am involved in lots of projects from picture books to mystery-adventures set in the tropics. 
Read about my writing process at:

Alex Woolf

Alex Woolf has worked as a writer and editor for over 20 years and has published around 80 works of fiction and non-fiction, mainly for children and young adults. His non-fiction encompasses a whole variety of subjects, from science and the natural world to politics and social issues, but his favourite subject is history. By far his biggest work to date is his Short History of the World, which has sold over 45,000 copies in the English-speaking world and been translated into seven different languages since it first appeared in 2008.

Alex’s fiction includes the Chronosphere series, a a time-warping science-fiction trilogy, and Aldo Moon and the Ghost of Gravewood Hall, described by best selling crime writer Peter James as witty, ghostly and at times deliciously ghastly. He’s also written Soul Shadows, a horror novel about shadows that come to life, which has been shortlisted for the 2014 RED Book Award. Alex is a regular author for Fiction Express, online publishers of interactive stories for schools. He writes a chapter a week, and children vote on how the story should continue. 2014 sees the release of Iron Sky: Dread Eagle, his first foray into the world of steampunk. He lives in Southgate, North London, with his wife and two children.

Read about Alex Woolf's writing process at: 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Using Story to Teach ICT

Wow! I'm so excited!

What should be delivered to me this morning but, six beautiful copies of Using Story to Teach ICT ages 5-6. It is the first book in a series of four on teaching ICT in a creative, cross-curricular way and was published by Hopscotch Educational.

It is great being able to hold the books in my hand. This is the absolutely best things about being a full-time writer. I LOVE IT. Can you see my name on the cover?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Colours Around Me

You know it has been five months since I updated my blog.

Five Months!!! A lot can happen in five months. I have had several new books published for a start. These are the covers for my Colours Around Me Series published by QED.

There are four educational picture books in the series, aimed at 2-4 year olds and they are designed to help children recognise different colours in their own environment.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Oxford Literary Festival

On Mothers' Day, I travelled into Oxford on the train with my youngest son, Joseph, to see Candy Gourlay talk about her book at the Oxford Literary Festival. Candy's book, Tall Story, was shortlisted as one of Blue Peter's favourite stories in the Blue Peter Book Awards, along with Philip Reeve's, A Web of Air (Mortal Engines), and the overall winner, Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John.

When we arrived the first thing we did was go and buy some cake, which was yummy. We then took a look around and met Christopher Lloyd. Not the actor but the author. He has written the What on Earth? Wallbook: From the Big Bang to the Present Day. The Wallbook features more than 1,000 pictures and captions that tell the story of the planet, life and people from the beginning of time to the present day. Christopher gave Joe a quiz to do. All the answers were somewhere on the giant Wallbook. We got about half-way through but, had to stop to go to Candy's Event.

(C) Sarah McIntyre

The session took place in Christ Church Hall, which is where they filmed the meal scenes for Harry Potter. It was a stunning place, very grand but also very cold. Whilst we were waiting for everyone to find a sit, who should arrive but, my friend Sarah McIntyre. She was doing an event later in the day about one of the books she has illustrated, When Titus took the Train.

The panel was chaired by the Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood. After the question and answer session we were able to get our books signed and Joe was so excited about getting Barney's autograph and having a photo taken with him. I think that was the quietest he was all day.

After getting Barney's, Candy's and Sarah's autograph, we went back downstairs to have another look around and to finish the The What on Earth? Wallbook quiz. When we had finished Christopher marked it and Joe got 20 out of 20. Christopher Lloyd told him he was a genius. I knew that all ready. :)

We were going to have a picnic but, unfortunately it was raining. So, we walked back to the railway station and decided to eat our picnic on the train home. It was a lovely way to spend Mother's Day and it was brilliant to be able to spend quality time with my youngest son.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Miri's Book Launch

Yesterday, I visited the Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town for the launch of Miriam Halahmy's young adult novel, Hidden, published by Meadowside Books. It is also available for the Kindle.

Hidden is the first in a trilogy set on Hayling Island. It is about a fourteen year old girl called, Alix, who hides an injured illegal immigrant and all the complications that entails. Alix has never really thought about asylum seekers before as she has a whole load of her own teenage problems to worry about. But, now she is confronted by the... 'international politics of war, terrorism and refugees.'

Miriam has tackled this gritty subject with empathy and expertise. Get a copy and read it, I know you will be impressed. I was lucky enough to read a first draft and  was drawn in from the start and everyone knows that if I'm not hooked by the first few pages I will not bother reading the book. I can't wait to find out what changes were made before it reached the final version in the book.

Here is Miriam at her launch talking to her agent Eve White. That is my copy of the book she is about to sign on the table.

Miriam also writes poetry and runs creative writing classes in London. You can find out more about her and her books on her website:

Friday, March 18, 2011

100+ Fun Ideas for Science Investigations

The other day, I had a little rant about one of the sad things that had been drawn to my attention by signing up to Google Alerts. Today, I thought I should let you know about one of the good things.

One of my publishers, Brilliant Publications, has set up a lovely website where they publicise their books. Each day they post a teaching activity from one of the books they publish, to give you a flavour of the book.

Well, I was very pleased to find out that one of my ideas was used for their Activity of the Day. It was actually the second activity they posted and was from my book 100+ Fun Ideas for Science Investigations.

The activity is to investigate, 'How can you make your shadow bigger?' and is linked to Physical Processes in Science (Ages 9–11). The book contains lots of practical and fun experiments that can be easily carried out in the classroom and help to developp the children's skills of scientific enquiry.

But, don't take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself.