The world’s first glimpse of HALF WILD!

Half_Wild_CVR

 

After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus,

and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.

Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?

SO – what do you think? Let us know your thoughts, and don’t forget you can tweet us – @PenguinUKBooks and @sa11egreen

HALF WILD is out from 24th March 2015, but you can pre-order now via this link! Stay tuned for more exclusive reveals and extracts in the run up to publication…!

Which Witches Should be Making a Comeback?

A standard question I get from journalists is along these lines:- ‘So HALF BAD is about witches. Are witches making a comeback in contemporary culture?’

I’m not sure if journalists really expect me to be an expert on this subject (I’m not), and I’m not sure witches were ever a dominant force in stories (apart from Harry Potter of course). Okay, they feature in many fairy stories, but they are usually the bad guys playing a supporting role to show off the nice princess and the heroic prince. However, with Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in the just released Maleficent (the title of the film being that of the witch (hooray) rather than Sleeping Beauty (spit)), maybe the tide is turning.

Anyway, all this got me thinking who are my favourite witches in films and tv programmes, and I was surprised how many I thought of. Here are a few of those who I’d love to see again or otherwise. . .

Maleficent (the Disney version)

Malificent

Maleficent from Walt Disney’s 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty is the archetypal Black Witch, she has it all from the clothes to the crow. Unfortunately she’s not a witch, she’s a fairy. A fairy!

This perhaps explains why her spells seem to lack true horror.  Maleficent performs an enchantment at Aurora’s christening which will mean death by spindle, but the enchantment is countered by another ‘good’ Fairy’s and so sleep rather than death is the result. All I can say is that I’m more impressed by Maleficent’s head gear than by her evil spells. Having said that I don’t expect I’ll be rushing to see Angelina play this part as I can’t see how Disney’s version can be improved on.

Samantha and her mother, Endora (from Bewitched)

Endora

Bewitched was one of my favourite TV programmes from the sixties. Samantha is a witch but wants to live the life of a normal human because of the love for her husband, Darrin, whilst Endora constantly tries, and fails, to break up her daughter’s happy marriage. As a child I adored Samantha and feared her mother, Endora.

You will be pleased to hear that I now realise the error of my ways. Samantha is awful – the typical goody White Witch who cutely twitches her nose to make everything alright, and weirdly seems to wear similar clothes to those sported by Dolores Umbridge (more of her further on). Now, I find Endora delightful as Samantha’s frustrated yet rather bored mother who wants her daughter to act like a real witch.  Witches like Endora really should be making a comeback.

Willow Rosenberg

Willow

I have to admit I didn’t watch many episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and when I did Willow always seemed to be reading a book (admittedly a large, leather-bound tome, but still a book) – which didn’t strike me as a very witchy thing to do. Being book-ish is such a good disguise for a witch that I wasn’t sure Willow was one, but a Buffy-mad friend of mine confirmed the truth of it.

I wondered if perhaps Willow was an American forerunner of the even more book-ish Hermione Granger of Harry Potter but it seems they both made their appearance in the same year (1997 was the first airing of Buffy and the publication of Harry Potter) – coincidence or perhaps there is something more mysterious afoot…

The Witches of Eastwick

Eastwick

Oh dear, nothing mysterious here, I think the picture says it all.

Based on the John Updike novel, The Witches of Eastwick – Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer – are (according to the blurb) sex starved…No, I can’t go on. This is just an excuse to ogle scantily clad, beautiful women and for some reason the photo reminds me of Charlies Angels – nuff said.

Hopefully these kind of witches, and I include that lot from ‘Charmed’, will not be making a comeback.

Ravenna

Ravenna

This is more like it. Ravenna, (and I think we all already know that black birds are going to be involved) is the Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman (Charlize Theron as Ravenna). Ravenna is not referred to as a witch but she does use witchcraft to try to kill Snow White, which seems a decent indicator, though all her plans inevitably fail.

One of the great aspects of this film is the magical mirror, which has more personality and appeal than either Snow White or the Huntsman.

Miss Eva Ernst, Grand High Witch of All The World

Eva Ernst

Miss Eva Ernst, in the 1990 film version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, is all that you’d want from a Grand High Witch (including being played by Anjelica Huston), though she has no toes, not much hair and a terrible plan for world domination. I could have told her that trying to organise witches, and to have a convention to do so, would end badly. She only has to watch a few witchy films to know that complicated potions always backfire. Here, the potion that will make all children of England turn into mice so that they will be killed as pests by their parents is consumed (surprise, surprise) by all the witches and the kitchen staff chop all the mice/witches to bits.

Mortianna

Mortianna

Geraldine McEwan as Mortianna in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is great. I seem to remember that she has an altar, upturned crosses and bones about the place and thinks too much of a reading she has made that foretells her death at the hands of ‘the painted man’, (why don’t they just say tattooed?) Morgan Freeman.

She is nasty, ugly, totally potty and actually a bit scary. More please!

Myca

Myca

Myca, from The Crow (the 1994 film starring Brandon Lee) doesn’t declare herself as a witch but I think we all know that she has to be one – there’s the unusual name, black clothing (though not much of it), her painted body (tattoos some might call them), the wonderful mix of evil, beauty, sex appeal and pottiness, and the black bird is a bit of a giveaway too.

Myca is also smart and her cunning is the most frightening thing about her (at last the audience can get excited about the possibility of a sensible plan to kill off the hero). She realises that the way to defeat the already dead (but not dead enough) Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) is to use the crow which somehow represents his spirit. Hmmm, already it is sounding a bit complicated and yes, the plan backfires eventually.

I really would like some bad witches like Myca to succeed more often and Myca should come back as she at least felt dangerous.

Jadis, The White Witch

Jadis

In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (one of my favourite childhood books) Jadis has gained power over Narnia and has brought a one hundred year long winter (I still spend too much time wondering what everyone eats: do they ship it in from warmer climes? Have they a big store from summery days?…)

Still, Jadis is frightening and bucks the black trend beautifully. It’s interesting how easy it is to assume she’s nice (and one can sympathise with Edmund for falling for her lies); it would be so obvious she was bad if she wore black. She is evil and cruel yet pushing the addictive Turkish Delight onto Edmund does seem terribly English and a little tame (though hints at food being shipped in from the Med., which puts my mind at rest a little).

 

Dolores Umbridge

Umbridge

Now we’re talking. Of course I could write pages about the numerous witches in Harry Potter books/films, and certainly choosing between Dolores and Bellatrix Lestrange is difficult. But Dolores is unusual for a witch, yes she is cruel and vindictive, she tortures children scarring their hands with a pen that cuts into their skin as it writes, and yes she will resort to the Cruciatus curse, but she also keeps cats, wears pink and speaks in a particularly irritatingly-cutesy voice.

Anyone who demonstrates so clearly that pink is evil wins my vote.

My Gifts For Nathan!

Thanks to those of you who tweeted their ideas for gifts to give Nathan on his birthday.

Photos of his loved ones/family seems the popular choice and I think is perfect for Nathan.

These are the three things I would have given him if I’d performed his Giving ceremony:-

-  a leaf (as a reminder of Annalise – more of this in Half Wild!)

-  photo of Cora and Marcus (it would be pretty hard to get my hands on this, but as I’m the author I’m sure I could think of a way)

-  silver knife (as a reminder of Gabriel)

Sally

Gifts for Nathan!

It’s Nathan’s birthday on the 21st June.

For a whet (a young witch) to become a full, adult witch they go through a Giving ceremony on their 17th Birthday. The Giver gives the whet three gifts, whispers a spell and the whet must drink the blood of his/her parents or grandparents.

But what 3 gifts would you give Nathan?

I’ve come up with a long list of possibilities, but haven’t decided yet which ones I would give him. The gifts don’t need to be valuable or even sentimental: a flower, a stone or a feather might be appropriate for Nathan.

Here’s my list to select from:-

- a silver bracelet (a manly one!)

- a sheepskin

- a leaf

- a piece of Welsh slate

- a photograph of Arran, Deborah and Gran

- a photograph of Annalise

- a photograph of his mother, Cora, and his father, Marcus

 

Or maybe I should give him something practical:-

- a new pair of boots (or would this count as two things? – I wouldn’t want to risk messing up the Giving)

- socks

- pants

- jeans

- shirt

- belt

- penknife

- torch

- anger management lessons

- driving lessons (he is 17)

- blood donor card (now he has turned 17)

 

What would you give? Have you any better suggestions?It’s Nathan’s birthday on 21st June – I’ll reveal my choices after his birthday.

Sally

Sally’s diary starts here!

Want to know more about Sally and all things HALF BAD? Keep checking back for regular updates to her diary entries!

20th May 2014

It’s the 9th of May, 2014. I have finished my first draft of HALF WILD (second book in the HALF BAD trilogy).

‘But?’ I hear you ask. ‘What does “finished my first draft of HALF WILD” actually mean. And does it really matter?.’

Well, it matters on a number of levels (and means a lot to me).

Level 1. I’m well on the way to a complete book.

A walk of a thousand miles (or indeed a walk to the corner shop) starts with the first step. A novel is somewhere between the two, I guess, more of a Lands End to John o’ Groats type of thing and I’m sort of hoping that a finished first draft means we’re around the Lake District (just over half way).

Level 2. I’m well on the way to a complete book (my third).

This is only the third book I’ve ever written. I wrote a book before HALF BAD that is not published, then HALF BAD and now HALF WILD, so I’m still very much a beginner writer. In fact writing HALF WILD has made me realise what a big risk Penguin and all my publishers have taken with me, an unproven writer. Can she even write a second book of a trilogy? Was HALF BAD a fluke? And similar questions must have crossed their minds, I think.

Level 3. I’m well on the way to a complete book and I think the quality is not embarrassingly bad.

I keep my writing private until I feel it’s at a level I want to share without being totally embarrassed by its quality. HALF WILD must have reached that level or I wouldn’t have dared let it out of my front door (I think it’s a gut thing – I like it for the most part). Having said that it’s not all great and it’s not the finished product at all. Certainly in HALF WILD I’ve tried out different approaches/techniques to see what works and what doesn’t, but all the approaches/techniques are at a level that I’m not ashamed of.

Level 4. I can go on holiday.

The first person I sent the HALF WILD manuscript to was my agent, the wonderful Claire Wilson. She read it in a day and said that I shouldn’t be at all worried about sending it out to Ben Horslen, my editor at Penguin (despite Level 3 I am still worried/terrified that the manuscript is rubbish). So the afternoon of Claire’s phone call I sent the HW manuscript by email to Ben. I half expected a phone call back later to say, ‘I’ve started it and am loving it so far.’ (Because I sort of hoped he’d love the first chapter). But nothing.

Saturday – nothing.

Sunday – nothing. And I’m beginning to feel sick that he hates it and I’ve gone to far and the story is rubbish.

Monday a.m. – nothing. I pace the kitchen as tumble weed blows by.

Monday early p.m. – nothing.

Monday late p.m – Ben rings. He says really nice things about HALF WILD. Really nice things. Fabulous. I stop pacing and smile. Jump around a bit (not physically but in my head).

Tuesday – I go on holiday. And I really do go on holiday – no writing, just reading and relaxing.

Level 5. I want to make HALF WILD as good as possible (the editing process begins).

Ben has now sent me his editorial letter which gives (over 13 pages!) his overview and comments about HALF WILD. Most of the comments I agree with. Also he has marked up the manuscript with comments (though I have to admit I haven’t read any of these yet, apart from the ones on Chapter 1, which he does love :-) ).

To give you a feel for the sorts of things in the notes here’s a summary of it:-
General nice, complimentary introduction (1 page) before getting stuck into the detail of his issues which come under the following headings:-

1. Motivation (not mine, not Ben’s, but Nathan’s) (3.5 pages!)

2. Nathan’s Gift (sorry, can’t reveal more about that until HALF WILD comes out) (2 pages)

3. Narrative Structure (1 page):-

Recapping – the bane of any book 2 (or indeed 3 etc.) where the reader has to be reminded/told what happened in book 1.

Time and Place (stuff about flashbacks and he does mention ‘some kind of astral plane’ at one point).

4. Characters and relationships (Nathan and Gabriel, Nathan and Annalise, Annalise and Gabriel, various others…)(4 pages)

5. Other Random Questions i.e. baffling bits that have raised Ben’s eyebrows. (1 page)
All followed by a final, closing, cheery paragraph (1/2 page).

Level 6. Money.

I get paid a proportion of my advance on delivery of the manuscript. :-)

Level 7. Opportunity to remind myself of how much I’m loving all this.

I’m so lucky to have an agent, a great editorial team, numerous publishers around the world and, best of all, readers and fans of HALF BAD. I only started writing 4 years ago (June 2010) and with every passing day I’m more amazed with how well HALF BAD has been received. I’m feeling good about HALF WILD as I think it’s my best writing yet.

‘Take our word for it, this book is going to be huge.’

- Stylist Magazine

Wow… well, that kind of sums it up! But what have other people said? Here’s just some of the quotes from reviews!

Kate Atkinson (author of Life after Life)

‘A book about witches with no owls and not a pair of round spectacles in sight. The new Hunger Games, I suspect… Brilliant and utterly compelling – I loved it’

The Times

‘the inheritor to Stephenie Meyer’s crown has arrived’

Metro

‘A pacey supernatural thriller – imagine a dark-as-hell Harry Potter meeting the Bourne Identity’

SFX Magazine

’rounded, identifiable characters, all wrapped up in a compelling plot’

Financial Times

‘crisply written, with nuanced characters and a set-up that promises lots of thrills

Good Housekeeping

‘We predict big things for the former accountant turned author Sally Green’

Lots more review quotes here

Sally’s blog: 17th Feb 2014

Editing

I’m trying to edit HALF WILD, the second book of my HALF BAD trilogy. But at the moment it’s not going well, in fact at the moment it’s not really going at all. This is not because of writer’s block (which I’m not sure I really believe in) but lack of time.

I had been warned by Ben Horslen, my editor at Puffin, that the months around publication of HALF BAD would be very busy. He’s right. I’ve taken a week out of writing for a tour of the UK and another week for a tour of the US. But I got back sixteen days ago and had planned to work through an edit of HALF WILD in that time. So why haven’t I? Well, I’ve been busy on other things, I’ve written a few blogs, done a couple of phone interviews, a few Q&A’s by email for magazines and . . . I’m sure there must be more . . . oh yes, I’ve read a book (one and a half actually) and washed, ironed, shopped, cooked, done the school run and watched a bit of the Olympics on TV. But still I feel like there are lots of hours unaccounted for.

To be fair to myself I have been editing, but as usual I have too high an expectation of what I can do in any given time. I’ve worked through half of the full draft of HALF WILD, cutting, adding and polishing and every few days I’ve been going back to the opening chapter to rewrite that. All told I’ve spent days if not weeks on the opening chapter, partly because it’s the opening chapter and also because the style is unusual and I’m not sure it’s working.

Anyway, when I got to the half way point of the novel I realised that I needed to tweak the plot – I had a surge of inspiration but the idea needs refinement. So I’ve decided to stop reading my manuscript for the time being and instead go for walks and stare out of the window whilst I work it all out. I’m nearly there, but still not yet ready to put fingertips to keyboard.