Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It's the dream. Well ...until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it's obviously great news that she's moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn't immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by 'maidens of peerless beauty'...
Perdita & Honor - It’s Day Seven, the last day of our Take Two blog tour and given the whole movie them it wouldn’t have been right not to invite everyone to a Premiere. OK, it’s only a sneak peek of the opening but we hope you enjoy! And thank you so much Beth for hosting it for us.
Finally! The apocalypse is here!
That's not something even we at The Bizz„ eternal pessimists that we are, saw coming. Remember Straker? Sorry Straker (working title)? No? We don't blame you. There's been a very loud silence on this project Over the last few months. so here's what you need to know:
Straker is a post-apocalyptic drama that sees two tribes battle it out for survival and the power to shape a new civilisatioru One wants to rely on tech (think 'gimme all the i Phones') and the other on nature (think 'back to mother-earth duuuude'). We'd been promised natural disasters, tons of violence, breathtaking CGI and 'love stories to rival Romeo and Juliet' (credit to the Panda Productions publicity department for that subtle and humble turn of phrase). So naturally we were pretty bummed when it dropped Off Our radar. BUT, drumroll please we finally have news!
Panda productions have nabbed master-money-maker, director Sergei Havelski fresh off the top grossing Terror Island franchise. Even more excitingly we have ourselves a male lead! A-Lister Sam Gross (aka our faunrite bar room brawl hottie) will play Raw, the leader of one of the tribes. We're expecting lots of action on and off screen The actress who will play Winona, the leader of the other tribe is yet to be announced. Our informant is torturing us by hinting that the casting decision is proving controversial but wouldn't tell us any more. We're no longer speaking. This production is also rocking a bit of a Hunger Games vibe with two juicy teenage roles for the children of the tribe leaden Sam's adopted son and heir will be played by IV-year-old Carlo Winn. And - defibrillators at the ready — here is his Instagram. He's a relative newcomer with only a few TV credits to his name.
Oh, and a completely unknown fifteen-year-old London girl will play female teenage lead Straker!
We think thig is going to be one sweet, sweet apocalypse. Especially for one London school-girl...
'He's the director He's the writer. I'm only the actor, so what do I know?'
I was under a tree in my garden with the guy ofmy dreams and there was a Hollywood director on the phone. For me.
'Hello?' I squeaked.
'So?' There was a long and worrying pause.
Mr Havelski was waiting for an answer. But what exactly was the question? 'So?' Another scary pause.
My mum - she was there too and there was literally no way to ignore her because she was doing some sort of weird panicky dance in front of me -mouthed, 'What? What?' Our genetic link was at its most obvious.
'So Is that my Straker I'm speaking to?'
'It's Elektra,' I squeaked, starting to stress that he'd got the wrong number.
'And is Elektra my Straker?'
'I I don't know This suspense was killing me. I was better with statements from adults than questions. Ask any of my teachers. Was Havelski offering me the part? Was he just really confused? Was this an elaborate form of psychological torture? Maybe this was the final and defining test of my suitability for the role — what would Straker do?
'I mean.....I....I think so.....' I stuttered. I'm pretty sure that this is not what Straker, world-saving action heroine, would have done.
'You think so?' Mr Havelski sounded confused.
My inner seven-year-old wanted to hand the phone to my mum. 'No. I mean . yes. I mean, if you mean...' If this went on any longer he was going to call one of the other girls on the shortlist and ask if she was his Straker. I pulled myself together. 'I'd love to be your Straker if you'll have me.'
'I would like that very much.' I could tell Mr Havelski was smiling all the way from LA. 'I'll see you soon.' He hung up before I could say goodbye; he was a very busy man.
I let the phone slip out of my very sweaty hand and threw myself into Archie's arms. He laughed and picked me up and spun me around. This had been my very favourite fantasy through months of near tragic crushing.
'How did you end up in the bush?' I asked my mum, as Archie and I each gave her a hand and hauled her upright. This hadn't featured in my fantasy. Obviously.
'I was sort of dancing and the path must be uneven.' She glared at the innocent little paving stones and untangled a hydrangea leaf from her hair.
'Sure,' I said. 'Are you happy?' It's fair to say that my mum had been conflicted about the idea of me taking a big film role.
'Of course I am. I'm beyond excited for you!'
A vision of Kris Jenner style momaging flashed before my eyes. 'Is Dad home?'
'He went to get another newspaper because Digby vomited on the sports section. He should be back any minute. Let's go inside and have celebratory tea and wait for him.'
'I should go,' said Archie, but he was still holding on to my hand.
I didn't want him to leave for obvious reasons but the thought of him sitting around the kitchen table with my mum and dad was too weird. Especially because Mum was now trying to persuade him to stay like he was her very favourite person in the world. I think he was scared she was going to hug him. As a) he'd never met her before, b) all he'd seen her do was 'dance' and fall in a bush and c) it was less than twenty-four hours since he'd got with me for the first time, this was possibly too much, too soon.
'No really, Mrs James, I should get home. I'll text you, Elektra. Er . . bye then.'
And we both just sort of stood there. Neither of us knew how to say goodbye. Mum was standing in between us, smiling amiably. Hopeless. There was a very real threat of awkward waves.
'Why don't you show Archie out, Elektra?' said Mum finally.
That took quite a long time in the end. There are some things that shouldn't be hurried.
'I'm just very proud of you,' said Dad later.
'Mum told you? I wanted to tell you!' I'd been dispatched to buy cake but she might have waited ten minutes for me to get home.
'Sorry, I couldn't keep it in.' Mum cut me a huge slice of the lemon cake by way of apology. 'And I told Digby.'
I was good with that. Digby might be an elderly Dalmatian but he was very much part of the family and it was right and proper that he should be one of the first to know. He came over and licked my hand. It might have been the crumbs but I was taking it as congratulations.
'Have you seen my phone? I need to call Eulalie.' Eula ie was my fabulous Coco Chanel/Dolly Parton mash-up of a step-grandmother.
'In the drawer, you left it in the garden. But, er,,,' Mum looked shamefaced. 'I told Eulalie too. I know I shouldn't have, but you were taking ages and I was all excited and I just had to tell someone.'
Someone? It sounded like she'd told everyone.
'Was she pleased?'
Mum laughed. 'She said lots of things in very fast French that I didn't understand but yes, she was definitely pleased.'
MOSS! If I didn't text my best friend straight away there was a risk that Mum would do it for me.
What's up? Did Archie come over? •
Yes and SOMETHING JUST HAPPENED
With Archie? WHAT WHAT? I'm panicking here.
Something good or something bad?
Something good. very good. Like, THE DREAM
You had The Conversation?! You're exclusive with
Archie? In LESS THAN 24 HOURS.
I am literally in awe. You guys are PERFECT together.
Are you mad?
Own it, Elektra. You're irresistible
That is true but we did not have The Conversation.
I am so confused
It's nothing to do with Archie I considered getting into an in-depth ana ysis of what was wrong with the assumption that my every communication was about Archie — but only very briefly.
Then WHAT? JUST TELL ME
Havelski phoned me
Oh. My. God. Yo
'Yo?' That was not the response I'd been hoping for. There was a long pause.
Sorry, I fell off my chair when I was typing. *You* are going to be a FILM STAR
Dad stood right in front of me and waved until he got my attention. 'Talk to me, I want to know every last detail.' He sounded like Mum. 'What did Mr Havelski say? What did you say?'
'Mum's probably already told you everything.Although I bet she didn't tell you she fell in a bush.'
He didn't look surprised. 'But I want you to tell me.'
'I didn't tell him about ... Archie,' said Mum. The pause was fake, she knew his name well enough. She probably also knew his date of birth and predicted GCSE grades. 'Don't miss out those bits.'
'Who's Archie? '
'He's the boy from the party last night,' Mum mouthed at Dad over my head.
Great. Not only had my mad mum stayed up to interrogate me on what had in fact been a
very good night (thank you, Stephanie, random party-throwing girl who I barely knew) but she'd immediately briefed my dad. This was how things worked in my family. It was quite trying being an only child.
'I am right here,' I said.
'But what's he got to do with Mr Havelski?' asked Dad, looking confused.
'Absolutely nothing,' I replied firmly and rerouted the conversation back to business. And after an hour of me recounting (re-enacting) the two-minute phone call (and nothing else) I'd exhausted them both so much that I was left in peace to get down to the serious business of checking whether Archie had messaged me since he left.
'Elektra, is there any chance you could get off the phone for two minutes. I appreciate that you are now a very important person but I have asked you to get the door twice already.'
Ah, Mum was beginning to sound more like herself.
I couldn't even see the person behind the petals when I opened the door.
'Miss Elektra Ophelia James?' he said, in a tone that suggested he'd never had to deliver to somebody with a stupid name before.
I was living the dream. I nodded.
The delivery man thrust a little machine at me and I did a sort of squiggle that didn't look like it could be anyone's name, but he shoved the flowers at me anyway. I would need to work on my autograph now I was going to be a film star. I staggered giddily back into the kitchen. I'd never known that flowers could be this heavy.
'Oh, my!' sighed Mum happi y. 'Who sent me flowers? Today is just getting better and better.'
Maybe I should have been worried that she didn't even look at Dad, just made a frankly undignified lunge for my flowers. 'Noooo, you don't. They're for me.' I pulled them back.
'Who's sending you flowers? Are they from your director? Is this what life is going to be like now? Film offers and flowers every five minutes?' Dad sounded a bit troubled.
'No,' I said, reading the note pinned to the cellophane. 'They're not from Mr Havelski.' That would have been amazing, but this was even better.
'Your boyfriend sent you those! That was quick,' said Mum.
'He's not my boyfriend,' I said, adding a silent, hopeful 'yet' in my head.
'He was certainly behaving ike he was your boyfriend in the garden.' I cringed. 'And he must be keen,' she went on. 'Look at these roses. I'm jealous.' Now she did look at Dad (accusingly).
'They're not from Archie. Obviously,' I said.
'Then who sent them?' Mum looked at me suspiciously as if I might have a clutch of undisclosed millionaire boyfriends.
'Eulalie. How could you not guess that? Over-the-top? Super expensive? Pink? Beautiful? Got here quicker than the speed Of sound?' I buried my nose in them; they smelled good. Once I stopped sneezing I read the note again and again.
Cherie, I am so very, very proud of you. Many people will give you flowers in all the exciting
years to come but I wanted to be the first. I love you.
It made me want to cry. But in a good way.
To Do This Summer
I wrote this list last night in a fit of post-being-cast-in-a-Hollywood-blockbuster-excitement. I had to annotate it quite extensively this morning.
1. (Share an ice cream with Archie) I just put that one on so had something to cross out.
2. (get cast in a film) Also Make a film. I am on fire.
3. Get a tan. Or at least a combination of sunburn and freckles that looks kind of like
4. Avoid family holiday in Scotland. Achievable. Go on a girls' holiday with Moss, preferably at a time when Archie is also on holiday...(Possibly to a destination quite close to his??) Would have to get rid of both mums for this to happen ... Definitely not achievable.
5. Go to A Pool Party. First I need to meet the kind of person who just happens to have an actual pool in their house/garden and make friends with them, which will probably
involve convincing them that a) I am a perfectly seasoned pool party guest and b) not someone who just wants to use and abuse their prime real estate.
6. Learn Italian. A noble intention but deeply unrealistic.
7. Lie in a meadow with Archie picking wild flowers and having deep conversations about our relationship. Must Google 'deserted Wild meadows on the Circle line' asap. Also the deep conversations do sort of assume the relationship is a thing. Also our 'relationship' might go better if we avoid deep conversations?? Also it is less than forty-eight hours since we first got with each other — I might slightly be losing my mind.
8. Write a poem..
9. Roll down a grassy hill. I'm so up for this. This is my kind of life goal.
It was going to be a spectacular summer.
From: Stella at the Haden Agency
Date: 29 June 11:25
To: Elektra James; Julia James
Cc: Charlotte at the Haden Agency
Subject: GREAT NEWS'
Attachments: Performance Licence Application Form-doc;
Chaperone Security & Clearance Forms-doc
Charlie and I wanted to be among the first to say CONGRATULATIONS!! You'll be a perfect Straker, Elektra. We're very proud of you — and it's lovely having a Haden Agency actor landing such a big role, we've been doing little happy jigs in the office all morning!
I'm sure that even though it's Monday morning you're all still busy celebrating (or is Elektra at school?!) but can I just flag up some important housekeeping that we need to get sorted out as soon as possible. This is all going to happen really fast now. I've made a list with everything that needs to be dealt with.
1. Elektra needs a performance licence. I'm attaching the application form and you need to get this submitted to your local authority asap.
2. The licence application needs an up-to-date medical certificate too, so if Elektra could be seen by her doctor asap that would be perfect!
3. We also need a letter from Elektra's headmistress authorizing her to be absent from school for the production dates. As you know, everyone is confident that everything is running ahead of schedule and that Elektra's scenes will be completed during the
summer holidays, but they have added on a fortnight just to be on the safe side. I'm sure that her school will share her excitement and be happy to help!
4_ The production locations are now listed as London and (unconfirmed) Hungary so can you also let me have two passport photos and a copy Of the 'magic page' Of her passport.
5. Julia, if you are still keen to act as Elektra's chaperone then I'm afraid there are a lot Of forms to fill in for you too (attached). I appreciate that this seems a little crazy but Panda Productions insists on every minor having an allocated, licenced chaperone.
6. Mr Havelski wants another meeting with Elektra and Carlo Winn (Jan) as soon as possible. His assistant is suggesting Wednesday 1 July at 5 p.m. at Claridge's Hotel where he will be staying (Charlie and I are very jealous). It's short notice but Mr Havelski is a very busy man. It's important, Julia, that you (and/or Elektra's father) also attend as this is a good opportunity to raise any questions you might have with Mr Havelski and his team.
I will be getting draft contracts out to you within the next few days and don't hesitate to call me to talk them through. I know that this probably seems rather daunting but do all try to enjoy it every step
of the way!
With renewed felicitations to all!
Daisy Delaney's life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn't proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.That is until Michel's bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer 'Lucy Lovecake'. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake's new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.As Daisy teeters on the brink of love, how can she ever tell Michel that she is the mysterious Lucy Lovecake? Could he ever forgive her for finishing off his career? And more importantly, does Daisy even want to be with a difficult, egotistical, down-on-his-luck Frenchman just as her career is beginning to take off? Especially when she has some other very interesting offers...
A wonderful story that had me from the beginning(mainly since I saw it had cake in the title)a book I think everyone would love and I enjoyed every second of it! I haven't read a chick-lit book in awhile and this has reminded me why I love them so much. It gave me such a good feeling whilst reading it and I just couldn't put it down until I had finished it. A story of love, friendship, and trying to figure out what's the best thing to do when her career is taking of but the man she is in a relationship with starts to dwindle!
(full review to come here)
About Pippa James
Pippa James is a full-time writer with a love for food, fashion and all things French. She is best known as Janey Louise Jones, author of the fantastically successful Princess Poppy series, with sales of over 4 million copies to date. Before Princess Poppy took over her life, Pippa James had always intended to write contemporary fiction and this debut novel is the start of a brand new series, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Sophie Kinsella.
A story about finding friendship when you're lonely - and hope when all you feel is fear. Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour's toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing. Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy's disappearance - with the help of a brilliant cast of supporting characters. Page-turning, heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry.
Before I wrote The Goldfish Boy I spent a lot of time making excuses about why I couldn’t write a novel. I worked my way through the usual list: I didn’t have enough time, my laptop wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have an ending and oh, I couldn’t possibly write without my own, soundproofed office and swivelling chair.
Obviously the reality is you don’t need any of these, well apart from the time which is a whole other article.
On social media, I ooohh-ed and ahhh-ed over other authors ‘writing areas’. There were neatly stacked colour coded notebooks, writing ‘mood’ boards, hi-tech monitors and chairs that not only swivelled they reclined when you needed ten minutes of plot contemplation. Well, I had none of these so there was simply no way I was ever going to be able to write a book.
Then I started reading other articles; there was a woman who wrote her book by hand as she lay in bed each morning with a cup of tea. Another who typed on a laptop on a packed train on her commute to work each day and a woman who lived in a tiny bedsit and used her ironing board as her desk.
I had a table, I had a chair and I had a dusty old laptop and I had to stop making excuses.
85% of my book was written sat at my dining table as seen in the photograph. When I write here I move my position quite regularly, working my way around the table and moving my mess with me (I’m a very untidy writer). I do this to change my view; I can either look out onto our small garden and see the birds or I can stare directly onto the side of the shed – surprisingly good for concentrating the mind.
Once I admitted to myself that I really didn’t need an exclusive area to write I began to become more mobile, and I started to take my laptop with me if I knew there would be an opportunity for a few hundred words. I wrote many chapters sitting in a cold, dark car in the winter when my son was at football training (it’s surprising how a laptop can double up as a good hot water bottle) and at the poolside during my daughter’s swimming lessons. I’ve written at my mum’s dining table at my sister’s dining table, at a dining table at a holiday home in Norfolk and my friends log cabin business where I used to work (at the dining table of course).
Not long ago I bought a little writing desk for a bargain price at a local auction. It’s positioned in the corner of my bedroom and is the perfect place to avoid distractions as I can’t see out of the window and I’m facing a blank wall. This was going to be my new ‘office’ and where I will write and edit book number two
However, although the little, brown desk is adorable I find myself wandering back to my usual spot at the dining table overlooking the garden. It works for me and, more importantly, the kettle and biscuit barrel are within easy reach.
Lisa Thompson worked as a radio broadcast assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her debut novel.
The Goldfish Boy is available now, wherever books are sold.
Rune Germaine moves to a boarding school outside of Paris, only to discover that at this opera-house-turned-music-conservatory, phantoms really do exist. RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera-inspired retelling in which Rune's biggest talent--her voice--is also her biggest curse. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the Splintered series will find themselves captivated by this pulse-pounding spin on a classic tale. Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumoured to have a haunted past. Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she's seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn't have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears.
When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realises that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he's ever known.
For any readers familiar with my books and my website, you'll know that I like to make and listen to playlists for every book I write. Here’s my Splintered Series playlists, as an example. Today, I'm giving an encore presentation of 5 songs that had a special role in the writing of RoseBlood, along with some glimpses into the scenes they inspired.
Nature Boy by Aurora
This song is a perfect reflection of Thorn through Rune's eyes: the enigmatic, broken, masked boy who appears and vanishes as if by magic, who seems to know all of Rune's secrets and how to heal her soul sickness with his violin, who's trying to find his own truths while trapped between loneliness and loyalty, and humanity and love.
In My Dream by Fyfe Monroe
Just as Christine sings in the Broadway musical: "And do I dream again, for
now I find, The Phantom of the Opera is there inside my mind," Rune's own dreams become more substantial than reality at times. This song embodies the eeriness and mystery behind those interludes.
This ballad provided the perfect mystical, otherworldly mood for the romantic moments in the book, most especially during the rooftop scene, my personal favorite. I get all swoony just thinking about it... ❤
Bittersweet by Apocalyptica
Thorn and the Phantom have a strained relationship throughout the story, a rift caused by Rune's presence at the academy. But this isn't a romantic love triangle. If anything, it's a triangle formed by a boy torn between his love for his father, and his ever-deepening affections for a girl he has an otherworldly connection to. I could almost envision the father and son performing this duet as Thorn plays his violin (in place of a cello) -- the Phantom lost to bitterness from past experiences, and Thorn craving the freedom to have those very experiences for himself.
Sacrifice by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke
What would a Phantom of the Opera retelling be without some operatic inspiration? This particular heartbreaking melody inspired me while writing chapter 12, one of the most visceral, emotional, gritty, and riveting scenes of the book, IMO. Stepping back in time into Thorn's childhood and a pivotal moment between him and the Phantom that sealed their fates and destinies forever.
And there you have the highlights. To listen to all 53 songs on the official RoseBlood playlist, follow this link.
Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!
Today is the 3rd day and I am very excited to share this memory!
To this day, few things make me happier than being curled up with a book and a snack. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, but I especially loved the Alanna books. It was around this time that I started dreaming about becoming an author one day.
A sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.
Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention.