Our Corona Diary

How Our Corona Diary Began.

The original letter Kathryn Evans wrote to all school children.

Dear Children wether you are off school (or not!) ,

I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with a way to help the thousands of you now suddenly off school for who knows how long.  A big part of my job as a writer is going into schools and talking to young people about the themes of my books and creative writing.  I already miss the challenging questions, the cheeky interruptions, the INCREDIBLE ideas and enthusiasm.

Cropped KE with small gp

Last night, I was writing to some of my Book Pen Pal schools with a heavy heart. My role in that organisation is to recommend books to encourage children to read for pleasure. I love being part of it but I felt I couldn’t recommend a book that so many children would not be able to get hold of  – schools and libraries have closed and not everyone has spare cash, for books, especially now so many are temporarily out of work.

My book pen pal suggestion, earlier in March, was The Diary of Anne Frank. I read it recently and was struck but how completely ordinary it was and yet completely captivating. I really felt I knew that young woman, through her writing, and it’s such a precious document of a horrible time.  It gave me an idea.

Instead of reading a book, let’s write one. Together. All you need to do is keep a diary of all the ordinary and extraordinary things that will happen and I’ll figure out the rest.

You will be heard. Stay well, much love Kathryn

xxx

PS If you want to know what book I would recommend through all this though, it’s another diary! Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging – guaranteed to make you laugh!

For Readers

Beauty Sleep Book Club Questions.

Beauty Sleep is an interesting choice for book clubs because it has a number of themes worthy of discussion and a very human take on the science fiction genre. Book Box Book Club very kindly shared their thoughts with me – and I answered a few of their fantastic questions. Thanks to Anna, Nikki, Maria, Laura of Book Box for letting me reproduce them here:

 

 

 

I like to write page-turning stories but I like them to have a central core that really matters. A few years ago,  I met a man living on the streets of New York  – he was a photographer and  insisted that he wasn’t homeless, that his home was the streets of New York. His pride and determination brought into sharp focus that each sleeping bundle in a doorway equals someone with hopes and dreams and loves and losses. Another time I was walking down a main road in Edinburgh and there was a homeless person every 20 metres. I try and speak to people when they speak to me and it took me half a morning to get down that road. I was so shocked at the sheer numbers of people living on the streets, they just wouldn’t leave my head. And then  I have a friend who was made homeless recently, she has a job and two kids but she got a tax bill she couldn’t pay ( to do with waitressing tips) and it sent her over the edge, she couldn’t pay her rent and was evicted.  It could happen to any of us, a little bit of bad luck is all it takes.

 

 

 

 

Ahhh! I think I’ve told too much of the story of Shem, Bert and Scrag for that– you know how it ends! Also, there’s so much back story that doesn’t make it to the final book, I kind of have written their story, it’s just not for public consumption.

 

 

 

 

It was difficult to keep the balance between the past and the near future. I grew up in the eighties so the temptation to revel in nostalgia was strong – my excellent editor helped a lot there – she ‘strongly suggested’ pruning a lot of the eighties stuff out and putting in more of the future ideas. It was quite fun speculating what might be but I wanted it all to feel possible, touchable if you like – so I looked at things that we already have and just added the ‘what if this was taken a step further’ question. As to whether we’ll still have Instagram in ten years – I think so. Facebook has been around for fifteen years already and there’s no sign of it disappearing. There’ll be other platforms – there already are – I’m on Wechat ( Chinese Facebook)and WeMe (alternative platform to Facebook) but none of them are really taking hold in the western world. I think the next big platform will offer something truly different – like TouchTime.

 

 

 

 

I think it would have to be Marsha. She was such a victim of circumstances and has such a good heart but she needed more time (and therapy) to forgive herself. I like to think that Laura eventually breaks down her defenses and is able to help.

 

 

 

 

This is a tough one – Miss Lilly is a narcissist. She truly believes everything she does is right and, like a lot of ( bad) parents, she saw Laura as an extension of herself. So firstly, she felt like she had enough control of Laura and the school to be able to manage her. Secondly, she genuinely believed ( and at the time had no reason to disbelieve) that Laura would just become a mini Miss Lilly. Thirdly, she wanted to be seen to do the right thing and allow Laura a normal life – keeping her at home wouldn’t have allowed that. Miss Lilly’s public persona was very important to her. Fourthly, Laura was going to want more than the environment of the clinic and Miss Lilly could see that – this was a better option than allowing Laura to return to her old school.

They also asked about Chapter 45 and came up with some amazing thoughts about why I’d written it in blank verse…if indeed I had?  I might leave that one for you to decide.

Their final thoughts were whether they would recommend the book to other book clubs?

Beauty Sleep is available now from all good booksellers:

A pacy, gripping thriller – Sunday Express.

A Black Mirror twist on Sleeping Beauty – The Book Seller.

 

Beauty Sleep Title Page
Beauty Sleep, For Readers

Illustrated YA? What do you think? Chris Riddell Makes Beauty Sleep More Beautiful

An amazing thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Continue reading “Illustrated YA? What do you think? Chris Riddell Makes Beauty Sleep More Beautiful”

For Readers, Writing Advice

What do you mean, “I’m Privileged?”

UPDATED August 2021 because I’m still learning and still trying to do better.

A few years ago, my daughter told me I wasn’t a modern feminist because I didn’t include everyone in my version of feminism.  I thought she was wrong. I was insulted.  I said something along the lines of, ‘What are you saying? I’m nice, I don’t care what people’s colour or sexuality  is, I just see people as people.’

‘If you  don’t see  colour or sexuality,” she said, “you also don’t see how much harder life is for some people and you’re ignoring all your  advantages  and that isn’t fair.’

When I stopped sulking, I started to think. And then I started to ask questions.  I realised that  if I wanted to be a fully rounded, inclusive, and emotionally literate human, a human I had a duty to be as a children’s author, I had a lot to learn.

I’m not alone in finding this stuff difficult.  A lot of  people find the concept of inclusivity, intersectionality and affirmative action hard to get their heads round.  I’m a white, cis woman who, from a difficult-ish start, has done okay for herself. I used to think,

‘Yay! Go me, look what I did!’

But my daughter was right. I didn’t recognise  how much help I’d had on the way. I didn’t  think about it, because I didn’t  even see it.

How could I, a working class woman who has been sexually assaulted on a number of  occasions,  been the subject of sexism in a male dominated work environment over and over again, whose mum died before my third birthday and who went to a terrible school whose highest aspiration for it’s girl students was to be aa secretary, how could I  possibly be considered privileged?

Because I’m white, I’m cis-gendered and able bodied, I went to university when it was still free, I’m smart and while I consider myself pan-sexual, I’m in a stable heterosexual marriage.

Let me explain:

Imagine life is  a huge bumper car rally.

The day you are born, the race marshal assigns you a vehicle from an arbitrary list of criteria.

If you are  white, rich, male, non-disabled, straight and cis gendered you are given a fully armed tank. You get spinning tyre cutters  and smoke bombs to confuse other racers – you name it, you have it. We are talking top of the range bumper car tankness. Pretty much everyone  in the race is going to get out of your way  without you even trying. You probably won’t even have to deploy any of your fancy on board arms , because others know they are there, and that’s enough to keep them at bay. Most people will be nice to you, because maybe they’ll get a ride in the tank and in this rally, the tank is the safest place to be and let’s face it,  the most likely to finish the course.

Maybe you don’t quite fit all those criteria – you’re still white and rich but you’re female – you still get to drive a tank but it’s not fully armed and it’s not quite so big. Most people are going to get out of your way – everyone in fact, except Big Tank Guy.   Your tank is  still a pretty good place to be. and sometimes, Big Tank Guy lets you be in his tank.

Not everyone gets a tank.  Every time the race marshal sees something that’s a little bit different about you – maybe you’re poor  or a person of colour, maybe you have a disability , hidden or otherwise, maybe you’re gay or trans or non-cis gendered.  Maybe you’re one or all of those things – well, that’s bad news for you because  everyone of those effects which vehicle you get given.

If you’re lucky, you still get a pretty good car.  You have a chance in the race but maybe you have to work really hard to keep the car because track rules say you have to have constant driving tests along the way to make sure you’re conforming to the system. You’re going to be super careful, especially around the tank owners, because you could easy lose your car under their big crushy tank tracks.

Maybe you get a small, shonky car that hasn’t got great airbags to protect you in a crash. Track rules mean you have even more tests in case your car breaks down and gets in the way of  the really nice cars, or worse, the tanks. It’s a bit of struggle and you have to stay out of the way of those tanks because if you screw up, you could lose your car and whatever health you have .

Maybe you only get a bike.  You have very little  chance of winning the rally and you are very vulnerable amongst all the cars and tanks. If you’re super gifted at navigating around obstacles, you might just be able to stay alive around the course. You might just get to finish the rally.

A lot of people don’t get any kind of vehicle at all. They’re walking.  Maybe with a dodgy hip  and bad feet. Some people, through incredible talent and determination , will still find a way to do okay in the race – aren’t they incredible? But for most of the Walkers, the best they can hope for is to stay alive. It’s entirely possible they’ll get crushed because most people don’t even see them. Tank Guy definitely doesn’t see them.  He’s in a tank, visibility is poor.

To be fair to Tank Guy, he’s been in a tank all his life. Everyone gets out of the way for him. He thinks that’s how life is for everyone because he’s never known any different.

That tank is his privilege

The tank gifts him a clear road. He doesn’t have to think about  who’s in the way. He  rides right over them with barely a bump.  He can’t even see how easy the tank makes the race for him because, like I say,  his life has never been any different. He might not mean any harm,  he just doesn’t  see the damage his tank might cause. 

We’re not done yet.

Tank Guy has a family.  In fact,  Tank Guy has a whole load of ancestors  and guess what? They laid the original tracks for the rally. They  even made up all the rules about how the race should be run. His family are seriously important to the running of the rally. Tank Guy  knows that in every fibre of his being. To his core he knows he deserves that tank, he was born to it.  He never questions it. The track was even designed for his tank which surely proves it.  It’s wide and straight with a few rolling bumps for fun and it’s covered in gravel which is absolutely perfect for a tank.

Gravel is not so great for a car. Cars easily skid on gravel. It gives them a poor start and throws up tiny stones that can chip the windscreen and mark the paint and that can lead to crazed glass and rust spots.

Gravel is pretty terrible if you’re on  a bike. It throws the wheels sideways and if you come off the bike, it skins you.  It’s also pretty dangerous when there are no cycle ways – you could easily get thrown under a tank.

But gravel is the absolute  worst for Walkers. It cuts their feet and slows them down. They might even get an infection and of course, with no dedicated paths, they’re at risk all the time of being run down, especially if they fall on the track when it just hurts too much to walk.

Imagine how different it would be if Walkers designed the track?  They can see the tank so they’d allow a central gravel road. They can see the cars, and the bikes, so they can allow for a smooth separate run for them.  And they know the safest place for pedestrians is a footpath with an even pathed surface that won’t trip them up.

That doesn’t stop the tank.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs don’t mean  taking  away the privileged drives vehicle and giving it to someone who is walking.  It means redesigning  the track. It means that kids who aren’t handed a tank on the day they are born, can see that the track has space for them, and opportunity.

Kind of feels like cheating in the race if you don’t.  I know there’ll be plenty of people happy to cheat to win but I also know a lot of people won’t. That they’ll get it and want to step up and change the track.

I made a list of books if you want to learn more, click here.

https://uk.bookshop.org/widgets.js

Grateful thanks to my patient daughter, Emily Evans,  for help with this, and my even more patient friend, Patrice Lawrence, who always makes time for my stupid questions. Any errors are entirely my own.

Kathryn Evans is the UKYA author of More of Me, Nominated for the 2016 Carnegie medal and winner of the EIBF First Book Award and the SCBWI Crystal Kite. Her latest book, Beauty Sleep, has been described as a ‘fast paced gripping thriller’ – Sunday Express and a ‘Black Mirror take on Sleeping Beauty ‘ – The Book Seller.

Beauty Sleep, Books, For Readers, Press & Reviews

Beauty Sleep Blog Tour Announced!

Absolutely thrilled to be hosted on all these AWESOME blogs! Links below 🙂

Beauty Sleep Blog Tour Graphic

10th May: https://jessheartsbooks.blogspot.com/

11th May: https://drinkingbooks.wordpress.com/

12th May: https://neverjudgeabookbyitscover.co.uk/

13th May: http://www.laurapatriciarose.co.uk/

14th May: http://www.onceuponabookcase.co.uk/

15th May: https://queensofgeekdom.com/

16th May: https://alittlebutalot.com/

17th May: https://bookmurmuration.wordpress.com/

18th May: https://bookslovereadersblog.wordpress.com/

19th May: http://yaundermyskin.blogspot.com/

20th May: https://writingwithwolves.co.uk/

21st May: https://www.wordsfromareader.com/

22nd May: http://www.sarahschapter.co.uk/

23rd May: http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

Phew!!!

Beauty Sleep is out now. 

Beauty Sleep, Books, For Readers

Who to Follow on Instagram!

One of my author visit talks is all about beauty standards through the ages and how social media can make us place unrealistic expectations on ourselves that can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

Trying to be perfect is poisonous.

And yet, I love social media –  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  I belong to some great communities on those platforms and I’d really  miss them in my life. It’s not the social media that’s the problem, it’s the content that’s pushed in our faces. We often can’t avoid the adverts that are sent to us, here’s one that made me spit with fury:

facetune
Because using it makes us feel bad about our real life faces?

This lovely young woman’s photograph is not real.  Her skin has been smoothed and tanned,  her hair colour enhanced and her teeth whitened. I am 100% sure she looked completely fine before this image of  perfection was presented to the world.  The effect? We feel we can’t show our real selves because we just don’t match up. How horrible. What happens when we want to go out? Are they working on a Facetune for real life? Probably. If it makes money. Because that’s what it’s all about – making money off your insecurities.

If you want to play with filters, and some of them are really fun, use ones that are obvious and give Facetune a big ole poke in the eye.  And follow some people who’ll make you feel better about yourself.  Here are my top five six Instagram accounts that are good for your mental health!

  1. @CelesteBarber – this woman is hilarious – her account parodies images of models and celebrities and she makes me laugh EVERY DAY. Improve your life. Just follow.

    59545983_446473192771795_3666196277277753344_n
    Enter a caption
  2.  @lewiscapaldi – cute, funny, real, honest. I LOVE HIM. His stories are brilliant. He’s a bit sweary sometimes but, lets face it, so am I. His posts are pure joy.
  3. @the.naked.farmer – it’s not what you expect. And it is. All of life embraced.
  4.  @alwynhamilton – author of Rebel of the Sands, absolute icon for positive body image – her stories are just fab!
  5.  @mattzhaig – well known for his books about mental health, his feed is full of positive affirmation but also the reality of coping with anxiety.

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Thanks to @mattzhaig for permission to reproduce

6. I have to include Karen Ball @didyoumakethat for her fantastic series of photographs with a stranger – it’s joyous!

Add your favourite accounts in the comments and share the love – you can never have enough positive influences. And if you want to follow me, I’m @KathrynEvansInk

Beauty Sleep out now. 

Beauty Sleep cover

A pacey, gripping, thriller – Sunday Express.  A Black Mirror twist on Sleeping Beauty – The Book Seller.

School visits via Authors Abroad. 

For Readers

Ten Tips to Support Authors You Love

I’ve got lots of friends with books coming out soon. Some of them are well established writers who already have a following but some of them are debut writers, who might struggle to get their books noticed amid all the noise and excitement that surrounds big name books. So what can we readers do to help?

  1. Pre-order the book. Pre-orders help nudge a book up the charts in the early days of sales, that helps the book bob to the top and be a little bit more visible.
  2. Order from your local book shop – I’ve just popped in to my Waterstone’s in Chichester to pre-order Kate Mallinder’s Summer of No Regrets and  Thomas Taylor’s  Summer of No Regrets (Paperback)Malamander - The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea (Paperback)Malamander. This ensures the books pass through a book seller’s hands and hopefully, once seen, they’ll order more in.
  3. Be excited about the books to other people, share on social media, tell people about it. I’m super excited to see Marie Basting’s first book, Princess BMX – what a great premise for a story! And when Candy Gourlay’s new book, Bone Talk, was shortlisted for the Costa, I made this video and shared it without shame!
  4. Leave good reviews. You don’t have to buy a book from Amazon to leave a review there and they really make a difference – if a book gets over 50 reviews, Amazon will start to promote it. And a lot of readers use Goodreads – I used to love it until I was published but now it is a very scary place – someone I know gave me 1 star (the worst you can get) for More of Me when it first came out – I think it was a mistake but I couldn’t tell them because I didn’t want to upset them. That 1 star dragged down the average for ages. And before any copies of Beauty Sleep were available, some one gave it 3 stars out of 5 – they couldn’t possibly have read it but again, that score will effect the average rating. So be kind, if you love a book, go give it  4 or 5 stars and help counter any of those kind of blips!
  5. Send a message to the writer or illustrator about how much you liked the book and why – they really will be touched. It can be a lonely old business and one fraught with self doubt.
  6. Share their posts on social media to boost their own efforts to shout about there books – it all helps. Apparently you need to see something seven times before it even makes an impression. Be part of their seven.
  7. Go and see them if they put on an event near you. Take pictures, tweet about it. Let your local paper know what a great time you had – kind readers have done this for me and it’s very wonderful.
  8. Vote for them. Competitions crop up for all sorts of things, if you see one and get the chance to vote, do.
  9. Join in if they’re running a competition – or get your children to join in. Huge thanks to Cathy Cassidy who is running a competition for me on her Dreamcatcher’s blog.
  10. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress – where ever – let them feel the love!

Now following my own advice, here are a couple more books I can not wait to get my paws on. Click the books for a sales link.

Patrice Lawrence

Voices: Diver's Daughter: A Tudor Story by [Lawrence, Patrice]

Karen Ball

 

Beauty Sleep, Books, Events, For Readers

Beauty Sleep – Let the Launching Begin

The last two weeks I have been all over the place celebrating book week and preparing for the launch of Beauty Sleep. I can’t get over how lucky I am that this is part of my job – thanks to all the lovely schools and book shops that have welcomed me so far. We’ve laughed and cried and I met Hercule Potatoe  Two more weeks to go – in which I return to my old school for the first time in 34 years. Nervous. Moi? It’s keeping me from my beauty sleep…

Beauty Sleep is available in all it’s shiny glory from all good book shops! Foyles Charing Cross and Forbidden Planet have signed copies! 

 

 

Beauty Sleep, Books, For Readers

New Year, New Book

It is January the 3rd 2019 which means I can officially say I have a book coming out THIS YEAR. It’s taken me long enough – it’s been three years since More of Me came out in the UK but I handed in my copy edits on Christmas Eve.  I made some fairly major changes to the end, even though it had already gone out to some lovely people to read.

The fabulous author of The Extinction Trials,  S. M .Wilson gave me my very first Beauty Sleep review:

Read a brilliant book this weekend Beauty Sleep by A fantastic story which reads like a feature length episode of Black Mirror, with just enough creep factor to keep you on the edge of your seat! Loved it!

You can read the first chapter in The Usborne YA newsletter.  Complete with the stunning cover that Will Steele designed for it.

I’ll probably still want to tweak it a bit forever but…

SHOCK HORROR

I’m actually really pleased with it 🙂

Beauty Sleep…

Laura was dying. There was no cure for her illness. So her family decided to grasp a desperate last hope – Laura was frozen until she could be cured.

But what happens when you wake up one day and the world has moved on forty years? Your best friend is middle-aged, your parents presumed dead. Could you find a new place to belong? Could you build a new life – while solving the mystery of what happened to the old one?

Dark secrets lurk in the future of the girl from the past…

Available for Pre-order from:

Your local book shop.

Amazon

Waterstones

Beauty Sleep, For Readers

Beauty Sleep Preview

Usborne are sharing exciting extracts of their new books for 2019 – including Beauty Sleep.  If you’d like to have a sneaky peak, all you have to do is sign up for their newsletter here.

And all I have to do is chew my nails in a panic that people will like my new baby. EEEK!!!