Tag Archives: children’s authors

MM Literary Agency: News & Reviews

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis  IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte  The Accident by C.L. Taylor  MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe

DON’T STAND SO CLOSE by Luana Lewis (out February 2014, Transworld) is Glamour magazine’s ‘Must Read’:

‘This is a wonderfully tense story, full of characters who may or may not be telling the truth … Compellingly creepy. Not one to read while home alone.’  Glamour Magazine

IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte (out February 2014, Mira Books)

‘Addictive, heartwarming yet funny, the novel explores the question that we all sometimes ask ourselves. Jennifer’s experience – her world of alternate lives with each of her ex partners –  was an engrossing tale that I found hard to put down. I had to find out what happened to each of her ‘other’ selves. A clever, wonderfully written novel that I’d definitely recommend.’  Chicklit Uncovered

THE ACCIDENT by C.L. Taylor (out April 2014, HarperCollins)

‘An ominous atmosphere, a tense tale of past and present colliding, and a narrator whom no-one believes: this book is a delight.’  Alex Marwood (author of ‘The Wicked Girls’ and ‘The Killer Next Door’) 

STINKY AND JINKS: MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe (Out now, Templar)

‘With its use of plentiful humour, terrific characters (Stinky the grumpy hamster is utterly adorable), simple language and appealing illustrations, this series is perfect for emerging independent readers.’  Sunday Tasmanian


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3 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.

L.A. Jones

L.A. Jones

I have a confession to make. I sit and talk to people who don’t exist.

And no, I don’t have a mental problem (probably.)

I’m a writer.

If you’re one too then you probably do the same, because often the characters in our books are the closest thing to a social interaction that we get in our daily work lives!

Which is why my number one Christmas tip for other writers, if you haven’t already, is to join a local writing group. I’ve just come from Exeter SCBWI’S annual Christmas meet-up. (A good excuse for a bunch of book-obsessed people to eat, drink and talk writing without watching multiple eyes glazing over.)

And it got me thinking. Christmas is about being able to enjoy the festivities with people that you care about, to relax, to have fun, but also to look back on the year you’ve had, whether it be a good or a bad one, and decide what you can do to make the next year even better.

(Here’s where I talk about new year’s resolutions!) Making the decision to get involved with my local writing group was mine four years ago, and it’s the best thing I could have done for my writing. We meet every month, sometimes more, for word-count competitions and general chit-chat. We vent to each other when we hit a brick wall in our novels, we celebrate each other’s successes, and we help one another prepare manuscripts for submission. Through this group, I’ve met countless other writers who are just as enthused about books and writing as I am, and I’ve also become a member of two critique groups. The support I’ve received from these has been absolutely invaluable. Writing, whether published or unpublished, can be an emotional rollercoaster, and it helps to have friends that truly understand the process, to accompany you on your journey. Not only this, but being part of a critique group has seriously improved my writing and editing skills. The saying, ‘you can’t see the wood through the trees’ has never been more true, as often I can see that there’s something not working in my novel, but I can’t pinpoint what it is. Usually, it’s something so simple, that a critique partner will spot it immediately.

So if you’re not already a member of a writing group, make this your new year’s resolution for 2014. I promise you won’t regret it.

Happy Christmas!

RISE OF THE SHADOWMARES by L.A. Jones, the sequel to her award-winning debut THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, is out now.

The Rise of the Shadowmares by L.A. Jones

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5 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar


In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Anne Cameron

Christmas is my favourite time of the year.  I love the fact that it gets dark well before the six o’clock news, that I can eat my breakfast in the glow of twinkling fairy lights and snuggle up with a good book before a roaring (or in my case electric) fire.  Mince pies, the smell of pine needles, last minute shopping with a brass band playing all my favourite Christmas carols… 

There can never be enough jingle in my Christmas!

My adoration of the festive season started at an early age.  It was a love so strong, in fact, that it couldn’t be shaken by the shock revelation on Christmas Eve, when I was four-years-old, that Father Christmas didn’t exist. My brother delivered the bombshell with the kind of glee that only an older sibling in possession of toxic information can muster.

But it couldn’t be true!  He had to be lying!  And I was determined to prove him wrong….

I waited by the window, searching the skies for telltale signs of flying reindeer.  I listened for the soft thud of hooves on our roof and the jingle of those very special bells and finally, convinced that I’d heard them, I raced off to bed, confidence restored.

Christmas was back on!

The reindeer had taken flight and I was surely about to receive a visit from the man with the white beard and the stash of presents.  All I needed to be absolutely certain was one tiny glimpse of the red suit itself.  The clock ticked by as I waited, my eyelids drooped but I clung to consciousness armed with the knowledge that my brother would pay for his cruel joke.  And then… the door was opening.  I snapped into fake sleep mode as something stocking-shaped was draped across the foot of my bed.  I peeked, just for a fraction of a second… and the awful, bauble-shattering truth came crashing down upon my head.

Unless Santa had started delegating deliveries to my mum, Christmas was sunk.

I recovered…. eventually.

And my love of all things Christmassy has somehow endured over the years.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve sprinkled the second book in my Lightning Catcher series with enough snow to sink a small island?  Could it also explain my excessive use of knitwear, pompoms, snow boots and stodgy puddings?  Is it possible, in fact, that I have allowed my yearning for the perfect, shockproof, Santa-encompassing Christmas to inspire an entire book?

Let me grab my Rudolf slippers and I’ll give it some serious thought!

LIGHTNING CATCHER: THE STORM TOWER THIEF, the second book in the action-packed Lightning Catcher series by Anne Cameron, is out in May 2014.

The Storm Tower Thief by Anne Cameron

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7 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Dave Lowe

 On their Santa lists this year, alongside the usuals – stuffed toys and Sylvanian Families – both of my daughters (aged 9 and 6) have included ‘books’.  The older one, in fact, has put ‘fat books’, which makes me realise that she’s growing up, although I’m not planning to surprise her with Anna Karenina, as fat as that book might be.

As a children’s writer, of course, both of my kids being avid readers makes me very happy indeed.  Reading with them is one of my favourite things, and it has undoubtedly helped my own writing, too: it’s made me realise what I like in a children’s book.  I like short chapters.  Lots of humour.  Three dimensional characters.  And a plot where you can’t guess exactly how it will finish (although there’s always a very good chance it won’t end in a bloodbath, I suppose).

Another thing I’ve picked up from my daughters’ books is that there are no new ideas in kids’ fiction, not really: it’s just about taking something that’s been done before and making it different.  My first series, for example, is about a pet hamster, which a quick google will tell you is hardly ground-breaking, but I made the hamster in my books a bit different: he’s not at all cute – he’s grumpy, sarcastic and super-smart, and is given a very unfortunate name.

Anyway, I hope you have a great Christmas, and that you get whatever is on your list.  And if you happen to be asking Santa for books about a genius hamster called Jasper Stinkybottom, then so much the better.

Dave Lowe

The latest book in Dave Lowe‘s STINKY AND JINKS series, MY HAMSTER’S GOT TALENT, will be published in January 2014.


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12 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Lara Williamson

Sometimes a little bit of hope can go a long way… For me, Christmas is a time of hope. It’s a time for believing that anything is possible. When I was little I believed in magic so intensely that I was forever checking the back of our wardrobe. Would I have been surprised if I’d stepped into a snowy kingdom and been plied with rose-flavoured sweets – nope, in fact, I would have put on my big winter coat in a nanosecond and been ready for the adventure.

The magic of Christmases past would always kick off from the moment the first tree sprouted up in a window, its rainbow coloured lights shining like tiny beacons of hope. I was transfixed by Christmas trees, by glittery baubles, by fairy lights, by hopes and dreams, by the angel on the tree, by everything. Seriously, it was like a spoonful of magic medicine to a child. Nothing could touch it and, what’s more, it happened every year. At the time I believed that one day I’d find some magic of my own. I didn’t know what sort of magic it would be and, although I suspected I wouldn’t find a kingdom at the back of the wardrobe, I still hoped I’d find something.

Many years later magic did happen at Christmas and it happened in a way I least expected it to. I had been submitting stories for years, without success, but eventually I’d written a paranormal story which was longlisted for Undiscovered Voices 2012. While it was on submission I thought I’d write something completely new – mainly for myself. It was the beginning of December and I remember thinking I had nothing to lose in writing another story. And although I wasn’t writing about magic in the paranormal sense I felt there was a little bit of magic inside the eleven year old boy I was writing about. It was a quiet sort of magic – the type that comes from being rejected but always believing and always hoping. In fact, it was exactly the sort of magic found in real people up and down the country.

I spent the entire Christmas holiday writing about a boy I called HOPE. And his story was the one that got me the publishing deal I’d been dreaming of. In fact, it was the Christmas magic I’d been waiting for. I still believe in Christmas, and I still sometimes knock the back of my wardrobe. But most of all, I still have hope. And that’s the only advice I can offer, and what I live by. Keep hope alive and you can’t go far wrong.

HOPE you have a magical Christmas too!

Lara Williamson A BOY CALLED HOPE

Usborne’s Christmas tree

A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson Lara Williamson‘s debut novel, A BOY CALLED HOPE, is the story of Dan Hope and his quest to find his dad and make him love him again. Published by Usborne Publishing in March 2014.

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15 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Geoffrey Malone

The Coldest Christmas

One of the coldest Christmases I have ever spent was ‘down-under’ in Fremantle, West Australia. On second thoughts  –  and in the interests of truth and accuracy –  that should really read, ‘One of the coldest moments of my life occurred when I was sun-bathing on a deserted beach ‘down-under’ near Fremantle, W.A. on Christmas Day.

Back in 1985/6 I was over there, running media relations for the Canadian Challenger in that year’s America’s Cup. ‘Canada 2’, our beautiful 12 metre yacht was one of a dozen or so other boats challenging to wrest the Cup away from its Australian holders.

Christmas day dawned with a brilliant blue sky, hot sun and the promise of being another scorching day. I had a BBQ planned that evening for the Press, and a local butcher had agreed to come along and grill a leg of lamb. So, ‘No Worries’ there. As there thermometer climbed into the nineties (35 Centigrade), I decided I needed a swim.

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting down in warm sea water, humming ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. Behind me, hundreds of small, black flies hovered in a frenzy, along the line of sand. They knew where I was but for some reason known only to themselves, they could not or would not cross the strip of water between us. I was out of reach and not having flies buzzing around one’s eyes and mouth, felt like very good news.

I reached over to the ‘Kool Box’ I had brought and pulled out a can of beer. Bliss! The Australian Dream come true. By now, the sun was burning through my T-shirt. Time for a swim. I got up, stripped off and started to wade out.

As I did so, a large, black fin rose out of the sea not thirty feet away. A couple of seconds later and I would have been swimming in waist deep water straight towards it. I froze. terrified. Unable to breathe, let alone move. Looking back all these years later, a string of cliches come rushing to mind: ‘Blood ran Cold’. ‘Transfixed with Horror’. And they are all true. I don’t know how long I stared at it. Probably not more than a couple of seconds. The fin dipped and slid back under the surface. There was nothing to show where it had been. I waited motionless and then at some stage, began to inch my way back to terra firma. And my new best friends, the flies!

Geoffrey Malone‘s latest novel DEAD BOYS’ CLUB published by Hodder, follows the story of Sam Mbale, aged 12, who is captured from his village in Uganda and forced into becoming a boy soldier. 

DEAD BOYS' CLUB by Geoffrey Malone

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Publication announcement

Congratulations L.A. Jones on the publication of her utterly arresting début THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY.  This is the first in a series for 8-12 year olds about a boy who is stolen from his dreams and sent to the place where nightmares are made.

Orchards Books / Hachette publish today, on the 3rd May, and the novel will be widely available around the UK.  Lucy kindly tells us below how THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY came to life.

What made you write THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY?

I wanted to be an author from a very early age. I started writing The Nightmare Factory when I was 21, while I was largely house-bound with M.E.

The idea came to me in a dream. It was so vivid; I can still remember it today. A brother and sister were trying to escape from a factory which made nightmares for the rest of the world. I grabbed a pad and pen and scribbled down everything that I’d dreamt. Then I went back to sleep. In the morning, I began writing the first chapter of The Nightmare Factory.

Can you sum the novel up in one line?

Everything changes for Andrew and his sister when they are stolen from their dreams by mysterious creatures woven from shadows, and taken to the place where nightmares are made.

Who will it appeal to?

Fans of Darren Shan and Derek Landy. Although aimed at children 8+ it will also appeal to adults who are young at heart.

Are you excited about publication?

Yes! I have been dreaming of this day my entire life, so now that it’s actually here, it feels quite surreal. The best part was seeing my book in the flesh for the very first time and realising that all the hard work had paid off.

Were you pleased with the cover that Orchard Books chose?

Yes! I absolutely love it! I think it really stands off the shelf.

What’s next in terms of writing?

I have a great idea for a middle grade series which I am really excited about writing. I can’t say too much yet, but it’s a thriller like the Nightmare Factory, with a bit of horror added in for good measure.

Buy your copy here.  If you love this, you only have to wait until the Autumn for the second book in THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY series: RISE OF THE SHADOWMARES!

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