Author Post: Eva Seyler on her Research Process!

Imogen checking in here to say I’m so excited to introduce you all to Eva Seyler and how she researches her historical fiction books. I’m currently working on a historical fiction project so this post has been truly invaluble to me, and hopefully will be for you too! Anyway, enough of me…

I’ve been asked to write a guest post about my research process! I’ve written three books since late 2017 (two not being out yet), and all three of them have had their own individual research approach, so this will be fun.
I begin all my historical projects the same way: by reading all the relevant nonfiction I can get my hands on. I see what my library has, and once I’ve exhausted their supply, I’ll start trolling AbeBooks for used copies of books that look useful. One book invariably leads to another. 
I’ve had to rein myself in a lot. I went absolutely nuts buying WWI books during the writing of The War in Our Hearts, and I justify it to myself by saying that I’ll be writing more about it in the future (I do have at least two other WWI-era stories in mind). So I’ve stopped buying books unless I literally cannot get them any other way, but even so, I do not necessarily read them all cover to cover. That would just be impossible! I’m a bit of an obsessive hurricane when I write, so unless the entire research book is relevant (and it’s often not), I come to a point during my projects where I’ll just go to the index and browse all the pages mentioning a certain topic and take notes that way. 
Here are some example photos from the notebook in which I compiled all my trench warfare notes. For what it’s worth, doodling on my notes for TWIOH got me into the zone a bit, because Aveline (one of my main characters, a 13 year old orphan girl) draws on everything. It seemed to be what she’d have done. Also, have an exclusive peek at a SuperTechnicallyAccurate(™) map that I drew of the setting of my book!

For my post-WWII-escaped-Nazis-in-Argentina WIP, I’ve had a number of topics I needed to research fairly intensively, and I decided to try the Colour-Coded Index Card Approach. Here’s my master list of topics and what colour I designated for each one:
And some examples of how I took notes on the cards:
At the bottom of each card I put the title of the source material and the author’s name (or initials), because otherwise there is no way I’ll remember where I got specific facts by the time the book comes out! And I like to have lists of related/recommended reading I can put on my website for people who want to learn more.  
Finally, for my middle-grade novel set in 1925 Turner, Oregon, I was able to do most of my research on-site. In fact, I had really no other option! Turner is a tiny town, and there’s very little written material available to turn to for such niche research. So I went to the library in Salem (our state capital, about eight miles from Turner and about an hour north of where I live) and I spent several Thursdays combing through microfilm of 1925 newspapers. I went to the Willamette Heritage Centre, and they helped me dig up a telephone directory for Turner. 
I contacted the principal of the elementary school (which was opened in 1922), who gave me a tour, allowed me to dig through nearly-century-old records, and hooked me up with the Turner mayor. The mayor, in turn, connected me with a gentleman in his 90s who has spent his entire life in Turner. Thanks to the school records and the telephone directory, I had a fairly comprehensive list of every resident of Turner in 1925, and this man was able to go down that list and tell me about a lot of them in an epic 3-hour visit. There was no way I could take notes and listen too, so I used my recorder: 
Listening to and transcribing three hours of chat afterwards was a bit exhausting. But it was worth it. 
Of all these methods, I think the most practically useful has been the colour-coded index cards. It’s been a quick way to access a specific bit of research when I’m editing or writing a specific part of my WIP. 
The on-site research is the most fun, but not so practical, because it’s one thing to drive one hour north for an afternoon, and completely another thing to hop on a plane and fly to Argentina for six months. Fortunately, there are sites like that have SO many photos you can flip through of almost any place on earth and, if you’re lucky, information about the weather at a given time of year or such like, to help add authenticity to your setting, if it’s not somewhere you can easily go. 
I should also mention that I have one of those accordion-style expanding folders that I store all my notes and general materials in (early drafts, either handwritten or printed out and marked up; timelines; any of the abovementioned notecards or other notes). 
So, that’s how I conduct and organise my research when I’m writing. 
Thanks for having me, Imogen! <3 <3
–Eva Seyler

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Blog Tour: Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

It’s rare you see books from the German perspective when it comes to the Second World War and Nazi Germany. I’ve only read one. So when I got an email about Fifteen Words blog tour, and a guest post by the author about her choice to write from a German perspective? Count me in! Hopefully my readers will find this as fascinating as I do. So, without further ado, Monika Jephcott Thomas…

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

The story I had to tell…

We’ve all sorted through dusty boxes in attics full of photos of our parents in their salad days, letters they sent to each other, memories they shared, perhaps even secrets they kept. For those of us over forty those memories, no doubt, were often coloured by the Second World War. It was whilst doing just that in my own parents’ trove of memories that I discovered stories that were the thrilling, gripping, emotive stuff of novels, which is why I decided to turn them into one.

I think it is safe to say, all writers want their novels to be a critical and commercial success, so writing a novel in English (since I came to live in the UK in 1966) about two young Germans struggling to survive the war in Nazi Germany may seem to be commercial suicide when there has been a tendency in recent years to decry any depiction of the German perspective of the war as revisionist in the pejorative sense.

But my novel doesn’t seek to suggest a moral equivalence between the Axis and the Allies, or to minimize Nazi crimes, or deny the Holocaust. On the contrary. I felt compelled to write this novel now in an age when Europe is once again seeing how war can displace and tear apart the lives of families from so many different countries at the same time, just as it did in World War Two. Then, not only Polish and Russian people became refugees, not only did millions of ordinary British, French, Italians, Africans (the list goes on) lose their lives, but millions of ordinary Germans too. And although it seems almost too obvious to state, it clearly still needs to be stated: not all Germans were Nazis, not all of them supported what Hitler was doing.

German concentration camps are synonymous with the war, but some people will be surprised to find out that the Soviets ran equally barbaric camps for their millions of German prisoners. In my novel Fifteen Words I hope the reader will find the many other truths told there eye-opening.

But I think my aim with this novel was to write a human story first and foremost. A story about two people in love, struggling to reconcile their different opinions, being swayed by all the powerful forces vying for their faith, be that friends, parents, religion or political parties; the kind of things anyone around the word can relate to. And the more stories we read and tell which show how similar we are, beneath all the wonderful and incredible cultural differences we possess, surely the better the world will be for those children sifting through our memories in the dusty attics of the future – or rather the dusty hard drives and digital footprints of the future – where, one can dream, war will play less of a leading role.

Fifteen Words is being released tomorrow and you can get it here!

Have you read any WWII books from a German perspective? What did you think?
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Christmas Movies with Emma Hannigan!

I’ve got a special author post for you today! As part of her blog tour, Emma Hannigan, author of the new release; The Heart of Winter, is here talking about her favourite Christmas movies that get her in the spirit. Personally, I’ll be watching festive films all December so if you want to know some great options, look no further…

Christmas means different things to different people. Some loath it, finding all the fuss and expenditure infinitely stressful. I can appreciate that line of thinking, but I’m afraid I’m one of those annoying people who gets excited from October onwards!

I also like to be organised. I never do all my shopping in one swoop. I begin picking up bits and bobs from September. I know, feel free to groan. I’m an unashamed Christmas smug. If it makes you feel any better, I still tear off to the shops on the 23rd and panic buy. Why? Because I suddenly think the things I’ve bought aren’t good enough! Agh!

As I write this with full on excited Christmas anticipation I would like to share with you, the things that give me that magical feeling. I wonder if any of you have the same little triggers?

I know there are a load of new movies with Christmas themes, but I tend to fall back on the ones I grew up with. Yule tide wouldn’t be the same without The Wizard of Oz. I know I’m free to watch it at any time of the year, but for some reason I never do. The ruby slippers, Munchkins and dulcet tones of Judy Garland take me back to Christmases past, when I counted down the days to Santa Clause’s arrival.

Home Alone was another stalwart in our house. It’s one of those fabulously violent yet hilarious movies that appeals to all ages.

My daughter is utterly obsessed with The Grinch so it’s been added to the list. Even in her teens she still lights up when it’s on. Her word-for-word recitation alongside the actors can be slightly annoying after half an hour. So she’s been instructed to say the words on the inside now!

I have a confession to make. I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life. I have heard so much about it and for some reason I cannot fathom, I haven’t managed to watch it. Now that I’ve made this confession, I’ll make it my business to rectify the situation before the dawn of 2016.

Needless to say, the movies all must be accompanied by treats. I’ve never been a crisps or savouries type of gal. So it’s chocolate all the way. I still get giddy with excitement at the sight of a selection box. Tins of Roses, Quality Street or Heros are my idea of heaven. The only down side is that it’s impossible to step away from the tin once it’s open. Those divine jewel coloured wrappers seems to call out to me in high-pitched tinny voices saying “eat me”. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

After all, what good would January be if I wasn’t feeling over-fed and slovenly? My post chocolate binge is the best reason in the world to get myself back to the swimming pool. Herbie my dog is the world’s biggest January fan. Our walks increase and he never needs to sit at my feet with those please-bring-me-for-a-walk eyes. Movies with chocolate guilt kick start my year with a splash and a strut.

I hope you watch all the movies that warm the cockles of your heart. I hope you are surrounded by the people you love and most of all, I hope there’s chocolate – and lots of it! 

Thank you to Emma for this post! You should definitely watch It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a great film and on Netflix! Don’t forget to check out The Heart of Winter and look for my review coming next week.

What are your favourite Christmas movies?
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Barbara Nadel: Research Trip on a Budget!

I love travel, and I love when books take me away to places that I’ve never visited. Barbara Nadel writes detective novels based in Istanbul and she’s here today to talk about her last research trip and her experience travelling on a budget. Her new book is Land of the Blind, the 17th Inspector Ikmen mystery!

Every so often my life falls apart. It’s nothing to worry about, that’s just the way that it is. I’m accustomed to frequent upheavals and so it’s probably better that they happen to me rather than to someone who is used to a more even keel.

So it was last year, we hit the financial rocks again just as I was planning my next research trip to Istanbul. I’m always budget conscious when it comes to flights and so I will often fly at bizarre times to save a few pounds. My flights were fine. I frequently stay with friends and so accommodation is generally taken care of too. But this time I had to find a place to stay and pay for it. It was then that I discovered that even my usual haunts were now beyond my etiolated pocket. So I picked a cheap place that was in an area I know and crossed my fingers.

My arrival at the Hotel Blah (name changed to protect the guilty) was hardly auspicious. The man in front of me in the immigration queue at Ataturk Airport fell to the ground fitting and, despite the best efforts of a nurse, died in front of me. Now I’ve worked in a hospital and so I’ve seen death before. But this was death of a sudden, out of context nature and was a deeply distressing incident all round mainly because the poor man’s wife could speak neither Turkish nor English. So no one could communicate with her. She just howled.

I arrived at my hotel in a bit of a state. Luckily for me a friend was there to meet me and whisked me off to a local restaurant for many calming cups of tea. Only when I returned to the hotel later that night did I realise that it was semi derelict. There was a vast hole in the wall beside the staircase which allowed for excellent views of the house next door and was a wonderful source of draughts. But I was tired and skint and so what the hell?

My room, which was basic Turkey circa 1978 was comfortable and clean. It was a pity that the sexual athlete next door, an imposing Russian man, was so noisy in his congress with several women but I assumed he wouldn’t be doing that every night.

And so day dawned on a creature more zombie than human which I attempted to revive with a bit of breakfast in the breakfast room or garden shed out the back. It had a wonderful view of the Sea of Marmara and the food was good enough to set me up for a day of relentless walking. I needed to visit a cemetery in one of the northern suburbs of the city and had decided that, rather than use up valuable cash on my Istanbul Kart travel pass, I’d use my legs.

They didn’t like it, my legs. Six miles on a right leg held together by plates and pins that stick in your flesh when you exert yourself too much isn’t a whole load of fun. I had to get the metro back after limping around cemeteries talking to cats and finding some very disturbing statuary. Night-time in the hotel was once again a lively Russian themed event so, again, it was a good job I was knackered.

The other problem was food. Breakfast was taken care of, now in the company of many large women from somewhere in the Balkans, all very jolly. But what of the rest of the day? When you’re really skint you eat weird stuff. If you’re at home you can cobble together a meal from a load of old lentils and tomatoes. But out in the ‘wild’ you have to graze where you can. So it was things like a cup of coffee with a complimentary biscuit, chocolate bars and a plate of rice with some veg. Long gone are the days when I could get a man to buy me a meal. The amount of scaffolding and paint needed to hold my face up and make it respectable looking do not exist in this galaxy. But I did have a very nice cuppa with a priest and a lovely meal, at the end of my stay, with friends.

The Russian next door was on a sexual roll for all of that week. But human beings are adaptable and so I learned how to drop off to the sound of multiple orgasms. As I checked out, the police arrived to shut the place down which was a shame. Cheap, clearly doubling as a knocking shop (for those who don’t speak East End this is a brothel) it was clean, if cold and when you returned at night you did feel a bit like you were living in some sort of espionage novel. Did I mention that you had to knock and then show you face to get in? You did, it was wonderful.

So no Rolls Royces for me. But then I’m not really a Rolls kind of a girl. My life’s a bit more back together now and so I expect if I go to Istanbul again soon I’ll bung a whole load of cash on my Istanbul Kart and eat some protein. But maybe not. Maybe that would be too much like tempting fate…

Thank you to Barbara for this post! It sounds like it was a very interesting trip. Land of the Blind is available now here!

What are your budget travel tips? 

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What’s on Anne Plichota’s Bookcase?

Today I have another author post for you! And I’m pretty excited to get a sneaky look at what is on Anne Pilchota’s bookcase, as she is half of the duo that is writing the Oksa Pollock series. A series about a eleven year old girl with strange magical powers who discovers that there is a lot she is yet to learn, and it’s not all maths from her horrible teacher. I’m currently reading the first book and I’m finding it quite fun so far!

So I now pass you over to Anne Plichota!

On my bedside table are the books I am currently reading and those waiting to be read, my favourites at the moment being Rachel Cusk (for the razor-sharp wit and language), Sue Townsend (for her eccentricity) and Gillian Flynn (for her sense of suspense).

On my shelves are my literary heroes, models, examples, teachers… Goolrick, Cheever, Larry Brown, Sharpe, Hiaasan, Palahniuk, Iain Levison… Some make me die laughing, others move me to tears, but all are part of my universe. I love photo books as well, especially the work of Martin Parr for its stupefying normality, and photos of industrial, urban ruins with their sense of pride, decadence and volatility.

My reading habits? I don’t go a day without reading a few pages, and if I do, I feel like something’s missing. My favourite times to read: at lunchtime, at the end of the afternoon, sometimes in the bath, and especially before going to sleep. And never forget: a book in the handbag is indispensable when waiting at the doctor’s or for a late bus, even if it means being disappointed when it arrives or your turn comes…

Thank you Anne for writing this and adding to my ever growing Amazon wish list of books. It’s been a long time since I read a Sue Townsend novel but they just got bumped up my TBR!

What’s on your bookcase? Have you read the Oksa Pollock books?
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Katherine Clements: Why I Developed the First A-Level in Creative Writing

I am very lucky to have Katherine Clements, author of The Crimson Ribbon* and creator of the A-level in Creative Writing here on my blog today as part of The Crimson Ribbon Blog Tour, talking about why she developed the first A-level in Creative Writing. Personally I took A-levels in every English subject I could get my hands on (English Literature, English Language, Theatre Studies) and the two months of English Language where we wrote our own pieces was my favourite. This led me on to start a BA in Creative Writing so I’m massively jealous of everyone who gets to do the Creative Writing A-level and was fascinated about how it came about. So without further ado! Katherine Clements.

I’m in an English lesson. Miss Taylor announces that she’s going to read a short story to the class. She waits for the class to settle and then begins. In one wonderful, terrible moment, I realise – the story is mine.

I feel a hot flush of pride as Miss Taylor reads on. Then, utter terror, as I understand that my story is about to be judged. It’s the first time I’ve had an audience, outside my immediate family, and I’m not prepared. I’m nine years old.

Many writers recount similar emotive memories: the book that kept them reading beneath the covers, the dutiful parent typing out manuscripts on duplicate paper, the passionate English teacher who first encouraged them to put pen to paper or, these days, fingers to keyboard. These early experiences help make writers. They are important.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to lead the development of the UK’s first A-level qualification in Creative Writing. By then, I was a writer of short stories, with a few publications under my belt and a novel in progress. I felt passionately about this project. It mattered to me. Not only did I believe it was valuable, exciting and long overdue but it mattered personally too.

My early journey as a writer is fairly typical. I made up stories when I was a kid, devoured the contents of the library, and attempted my first novel when I was twelve. But then, sometime in my early teenage years, I just stopped writing. Life happened. Other things took over.

It took me another 15 years to pick up my pen.

It’s often said that you need life experience to be a decent writer, and perhaps I needed that time, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I continued writing. Think of all the stories that went un-written, all that practice, all that learning. Would I be a better writer now? I expect so.

The first time I read my work aloud, much later, to a small, friendly local writers group, I panicked. I couldn’t get the words out. In the end another member read on my behalf.

I couldn’t understand what had happened. In my professional life I regularly spoke in public and ran events for hundreds of people, so why couldn’t I do this one simple thing? Because, this time, it was personal. It was Miss Taylor’s classroom all over again.

I never had the chance to explore writing at secondary school, much less work towards a useful qualification in the subject. I could have made art, learned to dance, specialised in drama performance or music composition, but creative writing wasn’t an option. Now, here was an opportunity to change that for thousands of students.

Anyone who does something creative, and puts part of themselves into their work, becomes vulnerable. Any creative pursuit has value beyond the output itself. The drive to explore and make something new, the desire for self-expression, is a good human thing. There’s learning, growth and sometimes joy, to be found in the process. And sometimes there’s fear and self-doubt and an overwhelming conviction that the thing you’ve made is the worst thing in the history of the world, ever.

When I did eventually begin writing again, I joined an evening class. Since then I’ve been to writers groups, conferences, residential courses and writing retreats, of varying quality and usefulness. I’ve met and been taught by amazing teachers, read books on writing, seen some of my favourite writers speak and been lucky to find supportive and inspirational mentors. All these things have contributed in some essential way to my experience of learning how to be a writer, and that means taking the bad stuff along with the good. It means doing it when you think you can’t. It means facing that self-critical voice head-on, learning when to listen and when to ignore it. My teachers – and among them I count all the fellow writers I’ve met and talked with, in all kinds of situations – have helped me to do that.

There’s been a lot in the press over the years about whether or not creative writing can be taught. I’ve never been taught creative writing at a university, but I do know how much it’s possible to learn about the craft of writing from others. I’ve learned the value of intelligent, sensitive and well-judged feedback. I’ve learned by reading things that have been suggested to me, or by taking apart a well-loved piece and seeing it in a new way. I’ve had teachers who were perceptive enough to say the things I didn’t want to hear, who pushed and encouraged and allowed me to get things wrong, so that I could, eventually, get things right. Writing involves a set of skills, tools and techniques that can be taught. Regardless of innate talent, everyone can improve.

We need teachers, editors, mentors and other writers to facilitate this. Writing is so often considered a solitary pursuit but it can and should be a collaborative process. I don’t underestimate how challenging this can be, but it is so valuable. That doesn’t mean you can’t go it alone, but learning from others certainly speeds up the process.

So, convinced of the value of teaching creative writing, I still had many questions to answer: Could we get teachers and students working together, as writers, in the classroom? Could we create a meaningful, rigorous course that promoted genuinely useful real-world skills? Could we give students the time and space to take themselves seriously, as writers?

The first intake of students sat their first exams this summer and the signs are good. I’ve heard from teachers, examiners and students and they all report good things. Teachers are enjoying the freedom, flexibility and democracy in a course necessarily led by students’ individual interests. And students are embracing the ideology of the subject, reading, writing, sharing, improving their work and growing in confidence. I’m delighted, and just a little bit jealous.

Miss Taylor never knew it but she gave me something that day in the English classroom: a little seed of hope that maybe, one day, I might be good at this. Doubt is an intrinsic part of any creative endeavor and it took me a long time to find the guts and determination to put my own writing out into the world. I’m pretty sure that without the teachers who’ve helped along the way, I wouldn’t have got this far. And, perhaps, if I’d been given the chance at school, it wouldn’t have taken me quite so long.

Thank you Katherine! My review of The Crimson Ribbon will be up tomorrow. Spoiler alert: It’s great.
Do you wish you could take the Creative Writing A-level? Are you taking it?

*I received this book as part of the blog tour. It has not changed my opinion at all.
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Cate Sampson: Young Women who Fight

It’s midnight, I’m sat on a plane next to a middle-aged man who has fallen asleep on his wife and I’ve just finished Splintered Light by Cate Sampson*. I put it down and smile because it was a really good book and I loved Leah, the female character. I’m inspired, I loved her, I put her in the kickass female characters category with Katniss and Michonne.
A couple of days later this posts drops into my inbox and I’m grinning from ear to ear. Today on Imogen’s Typewriter I give you Cate Sampson, the author of Splintered Light, talking about Young Women who Fight.

I was worried about making my female protagonist a kickboxer. I didn’t want the ghost of Karate Kid hanging over her, and I didn’t want kickboxing to be the most important thing about her. Nor did I want the fact that she was a fighter to become shorthand for ‘feisty’ or ‘gutsy’, the kind of patronising adjectives which suggest girls in skirts and sensible shoes from the Famous Five. But after I’d visited Massimo Gaetani’s Carisma Kickboxing club in Cambridge, I knew I wanted to place her in a club just like that, with its mixture of explosive energy, ritualised aggression and camaraderie. It’s a place where there is danger, but it is also a place of self-control.

I keep talking about ‘her’ and ‘she’. ‘She’ is Leah, one of three teenagers at the heart of my new book, Splintered Light. Leah’s mother was murdered twelve years before the book begins, and Leah lives with her father, a police officer, who wants her to learn to fight to protect herself from the kind of danger that killed her mother. He is endlessly anxious about Leah’s security, urging her always to fear. And yet he spends swathes of time away from her, leaving her to look after herself while he vanishes on jobs Leah knows nothing of.

Leah pretty much brings herself up, and mostly she does the opposite of everything her father wants her to do. He says no social media, she’s on everything. He says don’t ask questions about the past, she asks questions. She loves kickboxing despite the fact it was her father’s idea. Not because she’s afraid, but because she’s good at it, because she likes the way it makes her feel in her skin, and because she’s found a loose-knit home there, among her fellow students. Most importantly, it’s a place where she’s in control, of her body, and her mind.

At the Carisma kickboxing club the day I went to watch the class there was a scattering of girls among the men, one or two young teenagers still early in their training and women in their twenties who were already kicking machines, focused and disciplined, their muscles performing exactly as they were told. There were powerful men and weaker, or less confident, men, just as there were powerful women and weaker, or less confident, women. There were men who didn’t mind getting hit, and men who did. So with the women. And make no mistake, this is a contact sport. When you get hit, it hurts. You could see it in the flinching, eye-closing moments when less advanced students let their guards down. But what was almost palpable was the focus and the discipline, and the mutual respect, the weaker for the more powerful, and the other way around. No one blindly hits out. If a strong boxer finds himself up against a weaker boxer, he holds back. It might be different in competition, but in the gym there is recognition that just because you can hurt someone doesn’t mean you should. Indeed, Massimo Gaetani always tells his students that the best defence is to run away – you never know when someone’s got a knife or a gun, and that trumps any clever move.

I found my inspiration for Leah in British women who have become champion fighters. Nicola Adams was the first female boxing champion at the Olympics, and then at the Commonwealth Games. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper she described how the boxing club had become a refuge for her in her teen years, ‘almost like another family,’ the coaches becoming father substitutes. Brought up by a single mother, who nearly died when she was thirteen, Nicola Adams faced similar hardships to those faced by my fictional Leah.

So too Ruqsana Begum, British women’s Muay Thai champion. As a Muslim teenager, she had to overcome the cultural expectations of her family to become involved in martial arts. Both Nicola Adams and Ruqsana Begum have been involved in the Fight For Peace organisation, which works worldwide to redirect the energy of young people who might become gang members. They teach young people control and discipline, and that fighting can be kept off the streets and inside the ring.

In Splintered Light, when Leah comes across a young man who is involved in crime and violence, it is a similar message that she passes on. There may be pain in boxing, but there is pleasure too, and much of that pleasure and the confidence that comes from the discovery of self control.

I really recommend Splintered Light if you’re looking for a good contemporary YA novel. And thank you to Cate for this post!

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*I received this book as part of the blog tour. It has not changed my opinion at all.
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