Category Archives: Book Stuff

BookAddictedGirl loves Gabriel!

Collectible Bookmark 2 Gabriel_Page_1

This week, TheBookAddictedGirl (http://thebookaddictedgirl.blogspot.co.uk/) guest blogs for us about her favourite character from the Half Bad series…

“My favourite character from the Half Bad series has to be Gabriel.  Gabriel is a Black Witch stuck in a fain (magic-less) body – his shape-shifting gift backfired and now he’s trapped, unable to change back, unable to access his gift.  Gabriel is French-Swiss and has a rather tragic background.  He’s handsome and has a delicious accent.  When we first meet Gabriel, he’s just helping Nathan so Mercury will help him get his powers back, but before long… Gabriel’s motivations change.  He’s always there for Nathan, even if he doesn’t like what Nathan is doing.  Gabriel is the best friend anyone could hope for – he’ll be loyal to the end, support you to the end, and kill for you if necessary.

Gabriel is a character I never expected to like.  Thanks to my Harry Potter programming, I thought I shouldn’t like dark witches.  But while Gabriel may have been born a Black Witch, he isn’t evil.  In fact, he’s a lot like the lovely Arran – selfless, kind, protective.  But what really drew me to Gabriel, made him my favourite, was his edge – the streak of danger that says he will kill without a second thought to protect the ones he loves.  He’s confident, sexy, intelligent and so strong.  As a girl who loves bad boys with a good heart, I never stood a chance against Gabriel’s charms – especially when we found out his love of books and poetry!  Be still, my beating heart.

When I close my eyes and see Gabriel, I see someone tall, dark and gorgeous: muscular, perfect features, intense brown gaze…  He’s beautiful, he’s irresistible, he’s got a hint of danger around him – an absolute confidence in himself.  He’s always well-dressed, carrying a battered poetry book, sporting those signature sunglasses…  Perfect.

Gabriel’s loyalty is hard-won, but ever-enduring.  The one person to whom he’s truly, wholly loyal is Nathan – their bond is one of the best things about the book.  He has allies in other Black Witches, but I get the feeling he doesn’t truly trust them – not like he does Nathan.

I also love the times he and Nathan lounge around, talking, getting to know one another.  I so ship Nathriel, by the way.  They are best friends, confidants, perfect for one another…

Finally, my very favourite Gabriel quote.  This one is easy.  “I’ll stay with you always; go where you go always.  I don’t want to be anywhere else.  I couldn’t stand to be anywhere else.”


Ah, Gabriel.  I love and hate a lot of characters in the Half Bad series, but he… he is the one who affects me most.  Dark, dangerous, loving, warm, beautiful.  So many juxtapositions, such an amazing man.”

– Guest post by TheBookAddictedGirl: http://thebookaddictedgirl.blogspot.co.uk/

Happy Christmas, Nathan?

Ever wondered what Christmas looked like for Nathan back when he was locked up and guarded by Celia? Sally’s letting us into his world on Christmas Eve, as an early Christmas present to Half Bad fans – so enjoy, and spare a thought for Nathan whilst you’re tucking into your turkey tomorrow!

 

Christmas in the cage

I’m supposed to be cleaning out the chicken coop. But sometimes I just don’t want to do what I’m supposed to, whatever the consequences. So I’m standing here watching the hens feed, just for a minute or two, thinking . . . coming up with a new plan.

I’ve not been told, but I’ve worked it out that we always have my monthly assessments on the 21st of the month, and that was four days ago. I’ve also noticed that the only meat in the pantry is sausages, the same sausages we’ve been having for the last two weeks. So my new plan is a different kind of plan. As with most of my plans the chance of success is minimal but looking at the bright side, when it goes wrong, so what? Life can’t get much worse.

I grab the fattest hen by its feet, it flaps its wings furiously for a second or two but quietens as soon as it swings upside down. I reach out my left hand –

‘What’re you doing?’ Celia asks as she comes round the corner of the cottage.

My left hand grabs the hen’s warm neck and head and pulls.

‘No, Nathan!’ Celia barks but she’s too late and knows it. I expect her to use her Gift on me, to bring me to my knees with her magical sound, but instead she steps close to me and I take a step back, out of reach, I hope.

‘I didn’t say you could kill that.’ Her voice is even quieter than usual, which is a sign that she’s really seething and I have to tread carefully.

I take another half step back, holding the chicken out between us and I say, ‘It’s Christmas Day isn’t it?’ She blanks me, as if that information is too dangerous for me to have. I continue, ‘So, I thought we’d celeb– I thought I’d cook roast chicken.’

We have chicken once a month on the first of the month (I’ve worked that out too). That’s when I normally kill and pluck and pull all the innards out of whichever hen Celia selects.

‘What makes you think I haven’t ordered a turkey?’ she asks. That’s her idea of a joke. Her voice is still very quiet.

‘Didn’t see one in the pantry, thought you must have forgot.’ And as I get to the ‘t’ of ‘forgot’ she hits me: a sharp punch to the side of my face. I stagger to the side, blood in my mouth. Fuck!

She’s not used her noise on me though, which is a good sign.

I heal my face and stand straight, the chicken still hanging between us.

She says, ‘Is that the biggest hen, the best layer?’

‘Yeah but it’s dead now anyway. So I might as well-‘

Another punch, harder and faster. I didn’t see that coming at all. And another and I’m on my knees. Her boot slams into the ground where my face was as I coil and roll away. Shit! Her boot comes at me again as I roll again and get back onto my feet like she’s taught me. But then I get her elbow in my face. I stagger back but at least I manage to stay on my feet. The chicken is on the ground.

‘You need to get faster,’ she says and then she points at the chicken, adding, ‘It better be the best roast dinner I’ve ever tasted.’

I heal my bloody nose and retrieve the carcass, trying not to grin. Yes! The plan has worked, sort of. Roast chicken for dinner!

‘You can finish cleaning the coop first. And then do two circuits – the outer ones.’

I don’t answer or nod or ‘yes sir’ her, I just get on with stringing the chicken up and plucking the feathers off. It’s a good size carcass, should be a great meal.

Celia watches me all the time, whilst I’m preparing the chicken, whilst I’m cleaning the coop, times me on my runs and then as soon as I’m back from the second one and I’m still bent over hands on knees breathing hard, she says, ‘Now we’ll do some hand-to-hand. If you beat me I’ll let you eat your half of the chicken.’

I turn my head up to look at her. I can tell she’s not in the mood to let me win: she’s in the mood to make sure I don’t even land a punch. I stretch up and flex my shoulders and neck, wondering if I can beat her this time. I say, ‘So if you win I get no chicken, and if I win I get half the chicken? Doesn’t sound fair.’ I pause then dare to add, ‘And I know you love to be fair.’

‘Fair would be me breaking you right arm for not cleaning out the coop when you were first told, and your left for killing the best layer without permission.’ She rolls her shoulders and gets into her fighting stance and says, ‘I’m letting you off punishment because it’s that special time of the year.’

‘Peace and goodwill to all men,’ I mutter, raising my fists.

I do manage to land a couple of hits, two good punches and a kick to her stomach that has to hurt.

But in the end I have a vegetarian Christmas. I’m not even allowed any gravy, though I have to make it all and watch her stuff her face. She mops her fat lips clean of grease and says, ‘Praise where praise is due, Nathan, that was a good chicken and well cooked. And it looks like there’s enough meat left for stew tomorrow – for those of us who’ve earned it.’

At that I lose my rag and throw the metal oven tray at her.

 

So all that means I’m fasting on Boxing Day: the oven tray sliced across Celia’s nose, which I’m still rather proud of. It took her by surprise, which is hard to do. A small victory. But the price is that I’m not allowed out of the cage all Boxing Day. It’s a long, cold day to be chained up doing nothing but thinking, and when the rain arrives brought by a cold wind, I can only protect myself from by covering myself with the sheepskins in the northwest corner of my cage.

I’ve spent the day remembering things from my past: my school, my home and my family. Last Christmas Gran cooked a massive turkey, with me, Deborah and Arran helping her, all our cheeks red with the heat. Jessica didn’t come home for the holidays, which made it even more perfect. We ate too much and had fun, smiling over our huge stomachs, Arran teasing Deborah, me teasing Arran, Gran telling stories about Christmases past. And afterwards Arran watched an old movie on telly, his favourite one that he always watched.

And here in my cage I’m curling up as if I’m on the sofa, Arran’s arm lying over me, my eyes closing as I fall asleep, and the guy in the movie is talking to the other guy telling him how wonderful life is. And Arran knows all the lines off by heart, saying them as the actor says them:

‘Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many others. He leaves an awful hole when he’s gone.’

 

Can’t wait for Half Wild? Half Lies is out NOW!

Half Lies_hires

Half Lies is a brand new short story for fans of Half Bad – and it’s out today!

We know that lots of Half Bad fans just can’t wait for the release of Half Wild in March 2015, so Sally has written Half Lies, telling the backstory of one of Half Bad‘s most popular characters – Gabriel. Below is more from Sally on the journey to writing Half Lies, which you can download through Amazon and iTunes. Enjoy – and as ever, let Sally know your thoughts in the comments here, or on Twitter (@sa11egreen).

HALF LIES: Writing a short story.

The Proposal
My editor said, ‘It doesn’t need to be long. Between five and ten thousand words.’
‘Five thousand and one then,’ I replied.
‘That’s fine.’
Easy for him to say. And as it turns out pretty impossible for me to do. I went past the 5,000 mark in no time, was hovering between 8,000 and 9,000 for two weeks determined not to go over 9,999, adding 200 here and cutting 150 there until I gave up trying to keep it ‘short’ and just wrote the story I wanted to write. It ended up at 15,000 words – three times as long as I was aiming for.

The Idea


My editor said that a story about Gabriel would be good, ‘Everyone likes him.’  And I wanted to write about Gabriel – for those of you who haven’t read HALF BAD or have done and have forgotten who Gab is (splutter!?!), well he’s the French/Swiss handsome guy who saves Nathan’s life at the end of the story by risking his own (Sorry – have I not mentioned the SPOILER ALERT thing too late). So I started writing a story about Gabriel from Gabriel’s point of view, but it was just WRONG. It didn’t work. Gabriel is not a ‘me, me, me’ person. He doesn’t think about himself (and once he meets Nathan he definitely only thinks of Nathan). So I quickly dropped the Gabriel voice and told his story from a different angle.

Gabriel has a father and sister (mentioned in HALF BAD) and dead mother and grandmother (the latter killed by his father in self-defence), which seemed like a plenty of plot to expand on. And HALF LIES does cover some of this ground explaining how his mother and grandmother died, but goes much further than that to paint a picture of the remaining family (dad, Gab and Michele) and what they do and how it ends up that Gabriel returns to Switzerland from the USA where HALF LIES is set.

I tell the story of HALF LIES from the point of view of Michele, Gabriel’s sister, as a diary – her diary.

More about the Idea


Why use a diary to tell this story?
This story covers a long period of time – several years so I needed a format that would work for that. Short stories, I was told on my Creative Writing courses, are best when focused on short periods of time (a day, an hour etc. , one incident, one scene). But HALF LIES isn’t a Creative Writing Course short story and as I’ve said already, it’s not that short. Basically I hoped that a diary would keep the reader interested – we’ll just have to see if that has worked.

Almost ready to start writing


Before I began I re-read a few short stories from champions of the genre – Hemingway (always a favourite) and Carver (another favourite) but I also tried Flannery O’Connor. I feel a bit ridiculous mentioning these great names as helpers for my short story but there’s the truth of what I tried to do, not to copy them, but to get into the mood of the short story – and there is definitely an intense mood in a good short story.
So then I was almost ready to begin writing, I was in a short story mood, but I wasn’t confident about being in a diary mood (and I wasn’t sure about how to write dialogue in a diary – I mean who would do that?) Anyway, I read The Bunker Diary (I loved it by the way) to see what Kevin Brooks did and I realised that I had to stop worrying about dialogue and just use it. And if any girl was likely to write dialogue in her diary, Michele would.

Writing


I just wrote it. It kept growing as I’ve already said.

The Title


Half Truth? Half False? Half Lost? Half Found? Half Buried? Half Alive? Half Cut? Half Mad? Half bloody written and still no title!

I had lists of potential titles but what was the right one? About half way through writing the story I had to give my editor my final choice. I realised there were a few lies being told, so HALF LIES it was.

Editing


I set HALF LIES in Florida although I’d never been there and I don’t like writing about places I don’t know. But I had to set it somewhere in the US (this was the location Gabriel mentions in HALF BAD) but I didn’t want to use New York or California (places in the US I have been to) because, well I just didn’t . So I had to rely on the internet for lots of information (climate, locations etc.) and thankfully my wonderful US editors gave me lots of advice (no she won’t be eating muesli and she won’t be travelling by bus). I spent a lot of time trying to work out the bus system in eastern Florida and all I can say is that all mentions of buses have been edited out of the final story and Michele now drives a car.

The End
Short stories are funny things (not) they are often very worthy and almost like poetry in that the critics and writers of them can get a bit up their own arses about their meaning and merit etc. Really it just needs to be a good story – preferably a great one. I’ve tried to do what Flannery O’Connor asks of short story writers, and I’m happy enough that I’ve captured Michele’s manners and a little of Gabriel’s mystery.
Gabriel’s world is full of death and that is why he loves Nathan. Nathan to him represents life, possibility and hope.

 

Read the first chapter of HALF WILD!

With six months to go until the publication of HALF WILD, here’s the first chapter. Sally would love to hear your feedback, so do tweet your reactions to @sa11egreen!

 

a new day

  a crossbill calls

another bird replies, not a crossbill

the first bird takes over again

and again

the crossbill-

shit, it’s morning

i’ve been asleep

it’s morning, very early

shit, shit, shit

don’t panic

need to wake up                      need to wake up

can’t believe i’ve been asl-

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchhchchchchhchchchhchchchchhchchchhchhchchchchchchchchchhchhhchchccchchchchhchchchhhchhchchch

SHIT!

the noise is here. HERE!

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchhchchchchhchchchhchchchchhchchchhchhchchchchchchchchchhchhhchchccchchchchhchchchhhchhchchch

that level of noise means, oh shit, someone with a mobile is close. very close. shit, i can’t believe i’ve been asleep with Hunters on my tail. and her. the fast one. she was close last night.

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchhchchchchhchchchhchchchchhchchchhchhchchchchchchchchchhchhhchchccchchchchhchchchhhchhchchch

THINK! THINK!

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchhchchchchhchchchhchchchchhchchchhchhchchchchchchchchchhchhhchchccchchchchhchchchhhchhchchch

it’s a mobile phone, for sure it’s a mobile phone. the noise is in my head, not in my ears, it’s to the upper right side, inside, constant, like an electrical interference, pure hiss, mobile hiss, loud, three or four meters away loud. SHIT! THINK! THINK!

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchh

ok right, lots of people have mobiles. if it’s a Hunter, that Hunter, and she could see me, i’d be dead by now.

i’m not dead

she can’t see me

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchh

the noise isn’t getting louder. she’s not moving closer. but she’s not moving away either.

am i hidden?

i’m lying on my side, face pressed into the ground. totally still. can’t see anything but earth.

got to move a little.

but not yet. think first. stay calm and work it out.

there’s no breeze, no sun, just a lightness. it’s early. the sun has to be behind the mountain still. there’s the smell of earth, the pine of the forest. the ground is cool, dry, no dew. there’s the smell of the forest and . . .  there’s another smell.

what is that smell?

and there’s a taste.

a bad taste. it tastes like . . . oh no-

don’t think about it

don’t think about it

don’t think about it

don’t think about it

think about something else

think about where you are

 

You’re lying on the ground, in the early morning and the air is cool. You’re cold. You’re cold because . . . oh shit, oh shit . . . you’re naked. You’re naked and the top half of you is wet. Your chest, your arms . . . your face are wet.

And you move the fingers of your left hand, the tiniest of movements, and they’re sticky. Sticking together. As if with drying, sugary juice. But it’s not juice.

don’t think about it

don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it

DoN’t THiNk aBOUT IT

THINK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE

THINK ABOUT STAYING ALIVE

You’ve got to move. The Hunters are close on your tail. That fast one was close. She was very close last night.

what happened last night?

what happened?

remember!

NO.

FORGET THAT. THINK ABOUT STAYING ALIVE

WORK OUT WHAT TO DO

 

You can look, move your head a fraction to see more. The ground by your face is thick with pine-needles. Brown pine-needles. But the brown isn’t from the pine, it’s the colour of dried blood. You’re left arm is extended. It’s streaked in it, dried, brown. But your hand isn’t streaked in it, it’s thick with it. Sopping. Red

close your eyes

close your eyes

close your eyes

 

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchhchchchchhchchchhchchchchhchchchhchhchchchchchchchchchhchhhchchccchchchchhchchchhhchhchchch

You need to go. Without thinking or looking or remembering. You need to go. For you’re own safety you have to get out of here. You need to get moving. Get away from here. You can find a stream and wash. Wash it all off.

The mobile phone is close, not changing. It won’t be coming closer.

You should look, check. Turn your head to the other side. You can do it. Look, check. . .

it looks like a log

Please be a log. Please be a log. Please be a log.

Please.

it’s not a log.

it’s a shape in black and red, with black boots and with two legs; one straight, one bent. legs dressed in black. black material covering the torso. light-brown hair. her hair. cut short. sopping with blood. her face is turned away.

she’s lying as still as a log

still wet

still oozing

not fast any more

the mobile phone is hers

chchchchchchchhchchchcchhhhhchchchhchcchchchhhchchchhchchchcchchhcchcchchchhchchchhcchchchchchchhchchchchchhchchchchhchhhchchchchccchchchchchh

and as you raise your head you see the wound that is her throat

and it is jagged and bloody and deep and

red

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…!