Local to Me Author Spotlight! Sophie Green

Thank you so much to talented and local to Suffolk writer Sophie Green for her blog post today! She is utterly lovely and her trilogy, Potkin and Stubbs, is gaining the attention it deserves! This is a trilogy not to be missed! She has kindly signed a copy of the third book, Ghostcatcher, and I am hosting a giveaway on twitter! Good Luck! Read on for a guest post from the charming Sophie Green!

Potkin and Stubbs: a three-book story

Potkin and Stubbs is the tale of Lil Potkin, an aspiring teenage reporter on the lookout for a big scoop. One rainy night in Peligan City Lil meets Nedly Stubbs, a mysterious boy that only she can see, and finds a story more extraordinary than she could have imagined and an adventure that will change both their lives forever.

When I started writing it back in 2012, the first time I pictured Nedly he was sitting alone and ignored in the bus station where Lil would soon find him. Not long after that I imagined a pivotal scene from near the end of their tale. For these particular children, in that kind of city, the arc of the story felt inevitable. I knew what had to happen at the beginning and where it would lead Lil and Nedly and why, long before I understood how they would get there. 

I had to solve some of the mysteries myself as I pinned the plot down, but as I started to map out the road in between those two moments I soon realised that it would take three books to tell the whole tale. I was lucky that my publisher saw it the same way.

It wasn’t all roses; in this golden age of children’s books it is a competitive and crowded market and books are easily forgotten if there is too big a gap between release dates.  I had taken five years to write the first book, now I had less than one to write the second and only six months for the third, but even though it was hard-going the speed was exhilarating too, like a Rocky training montage.

One of the benefits is the total immersion in the story; there’s no time to think of anything else. I lived and breathed the rain-soaked air of Peligan City. 

In the years I had spent writing the first book I had invested a lot in really getting to know and love Lil, Nedly and the battered old detective who helps them, Abe Mandrel, and once your characters become real and believable to you then half the battle is won. You can put them into any situation and predict their reactions and what they will do next. They drive the story forwards, usually following your story map, but not always. 

Three books gave me plenty of time to enrich their story world; introduce more minor characters and let them develop, to create substantial arcs and subplots, it gave me space to explore new locations and ideas and delve deeper into Peligan City’s history.

I soon discovered that writing books in quick succession is also a big help in maintaining the style of a story and the characters voices, quirks and abilities, and remembering practical details especially in terms of the geography, so there is less chance of continuity errors. It’s good for keeping track of loose ends. 

But the cycle of book creation and publication means that authors are often promoting one book while writing its sequel so fear of spoiler alerts haunts my every Q&A. I’ll be over the moon when all three books are out and I can talk about the whole story freely.

My years of hanging out with Lil, Nedly and Abe, have been amazing and I got choked up more than once when I was writing Ghostcatcher, in part because I knew this would be the last adventure we would have together. I’m sure that there are many stories of Peligan City left to tell; I’ve had some great ideas for future books from readers; focusing on other characters, or skipping forward or back a generation, but for me now it’s time to begin a new story, somewhere completely different. . . 

Ghostcatcher (Potkin and Stubbs 3) will be published on March 5th2020 by Piccadilly Press

Peligan City is still haunted and City Hall’s initiative to solve the problem is an outfit called Ghostcatcher. Every night they patrol the streets with their high-tech equipment, following reports of spectral activity. But they are only hunting one spook now; the Herald calls it the Final Ghost and it is public enemy number one. 

But to Lil Potkin he is Nedly Stubbs, her investigative partner and best friend.

Now an apprentice reporter for the Klaxon, Lil manages to talk her way into a job shadowing intrepid journalist Marsha Quake, who is writing a feature on Ghostcatcher. 

And so, with Lil’s help Nedly is able to stay one step ahead of the game, but for how long?

Tried and Tested Trilogies

Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective

Written by Laura James, Illustrated by Emily Fox, Published by Bloomsbury

The colourful covers of Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo detective, beg to be collected. Why get just one when clearly they come as a set and want to be together? Currently there are three books in the series but I believe (and hope) more will be added!

In the first adventure, The Case of the Missing Hippo, we meet Fabio and his associate GIlbert. Gilbert isn’t always the most helpful but he certainly tries and is very loyal. He does sometimes get things right!

Fabio has been asked to judge the local talent show and wishes to sit back with his pink lemonade and enjoy the show. However, when Julia, the jazz singing Hippo goes missing, Fabio sets to work. A fun adventure and a mystery to solve, not to mention the neon pages and splashes of colour, roll together into the start of a fab new series. This cover is bright green with splashes of pink!

When we next see Fabio, he is boarding The Ostrich Express. In true Agatha Christie fashion, a priceless ruby is stolen and everyone on board quickly becomes a suspect. It will take all of Fabio’s detailed observations to sniff the culprit out. It soon becomes apparant that not all are who they say and there is more than the stolen ruby to solve. The cover of this titles is bright orange and there are splashes of colour throughout this wonderfully illustrated book.

In the bright yellow third mystery, Fabio has made a mistake. He has gotten into Gilbert’s latest purchase- a small plane. Gilbert is unsure how to fly it properly and it seems the previous owner left the petrol tank empty. This spells trouble for the detecting pair. When they inevitably crash, it is near a town with a mystery to solve. The town is dry- the water has dried up and there are some suspicious characters lurking about. Can Fabio and Gilbert get water flowing back into the town?

If anyone is up to solving these three cases, it is certainly Fabio. He has a special charm and elegance for a detective and Gilbert, though bumbling and funny, has a knack for asking the right questions.

This is a brilliant series for younger readers wanting adventure and mystery. The illustrations and colours will occupy any reader looking for details to help solve the crimes.

I am looking forward to more from Fabio and Gilbert- I certainly need the rainbow of covers to brighten my shelves!

Tried and Tested Trilogies: Part Three

As we head into 2020 and a new year of reading, I wanted to highlight a few trilogies that I have recently read and enjoyed. There is something brilliant about a trilogy, the story continuing, more depth of character and more reading! The plot thickening, the mention of previous events and relationships blossoming…so much to read and enjoy!

Written by Christopher Edge
Cover Artwork by Olga Baumert, Chapterhead Illustration by Eric Orchard
Published by Nosy Crow

Penelope Tredwell is the unwavering and brave 13 year old heroine of this trilogy. Orphaned but cared for by a friend of the family, she has inherited The Penny Dreadful, a London based magazine. Originally failing, Penny has changed the magazine into one of the most popular ones of the time. Due largely to the scary stories of Montgomery Flinch.

However, Montgomery Flinch is a pseudonym for Penny, who is the actual author of the stories. Always on the look out for story inspiration, Penny stumbles onto a mystery in each book that take her into danger, involving her with criminals and introducing her to new friends. These friends inevitably get drawn into the mysteries and they work together to solve them.

In the first book, the patients at Bedlam Hospital are waking at twelve minutes to midnight and writing pages of information forecasting the future. Penny and hired actor playing Montgomery travel to see what the reasoning is. The Spider Lady is behind this with plans for the information contained in the pages. Who is she and what will she do with this information?

When one of Penny’s stories is being brought to the screen, Penny and hired actor are invited to be part of the production. The filmmaker is hiding a dark ghostly secret and it is pulling Penny and ‘Montgomery’ in. The filmmaker is using a Veritescope which seems to be a normal camera but Penny suspects there is more to it. When the film is being shown to the Prince, she realises they are all in grave danger and must stop the film reel.

The third book features an incredible and unbelievable theft of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. This impenetrable fortress is shocked at the theft and with the coronation of the King just days away, this is a high profile case. As Penny writes a story about The Thief who Wasn’t there, the police believe Montgomery to be the thief. In order to clear his name, Penny must solve the mystery of how the jewels came to be stolen and why this mystery leads her to the German Embassy in London. Is there a connection? Who are the Radiant boys that seem able to penetrate walls?

These books will keep you thinking, pondering over the advancement of science and in awe of the wonderful Penny! She and her friends are relentless in their pursuit of justice.

A wonderful trilogy from the incomparable Christopher Edge.

Tried and Tested Trilogies: Part One

As we head into 2020 and a new year of reading, I wanted to highlight a few trilogies that I have recently read and enjoyed. There is something brilliant about a trilogy, the story continuing, more depth of character and more reading! The plot thickening, the mention of previous events and relationships blossoming…so much to read and enjoy!

Written by M.G. Leonard
Inside Illustrations by Karl James Mountford
Cover Design by Elisabet Portabella, Julia Sarda
Published by Chicken House

I admitted on twitter that I was a bit late to the game with this series. I am so glad I finally did pick it up and read them one after the other in complete joy. Within a few days I had finished the trilogy and felt complete satisfaction with each book, it’s lead in to the next and ultimately the ending of the trilogy. Simply Superb!

The trilogy begins with the mysterious disappearance of Darkus Cuttle’s father from the Natural History Museum. He is Director of Science and vanishes from a locked vault full of beetle specimens. Darkus ends up living with his Uncle Max while they investigate the mystery together. Added to their sleuthing crew are Bertolt and Virginia, new friends from his new school.

Darkus also meets an incredible beetle of the rhinoceros variety and adopts him, naming him Baxter. This beetle seems to understand Darkus and communicates with him using nods of the head and body language. It is through Baxter and his beetle mountain friends that Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt are able to fight the baddy!

A mystery wouldn’t be complete without a baddie, and I am happy to report the ultimate baddy exists within this trilogy. Part human, part beetle, Lucrecia Cutter is a devious scientist intent on ruling the world. She has an evil plan that involves genetically altered beetle species bringing the world to its knees. Her plan begins with Dr Cuttle, Darkus’s dad.

The trilogy takes us from Camden Town, to Hollywood and to the rainforests of South America. Darkus and his crew seem able to defeat Lucrecia at every opportunity but will they beat her giant beetle army in the last book?

This is an incredible trilogy, full of fascinating science, beetle species and the fight between good and evil assisted by smart beetles.

Darkus and his friends are interesting characters that balance each other and help each other. Uncle Max is the funny uncle that has no idea how to care for anyone other than himself and the bad characters are at times funny and bumbling, while scary and intense in other moments.

Full of rich vocabulary, you will finish these books with a greater knowledge of beetles, a decent understanding of genetics and a firm respect for the huge variety of beetle species. You may also want to check out The Beetle Collector’s Handbook. It will convert you firmly into a beetle lover!