2015 Bookish Highlights

READING

This year, I read new novels that joined my all-time favourites. New worlds I couldn’t help but crave to be a part of, new characters I came to love, and new journeys to experience and treasure long after the final page. These are the books that really stood out to me this year:

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I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Catherine Doyle’s VENDETTA (released Jan 2015) at the end of 2014, and I’ve just finished the sequel (out Jan 2016), which was equally incredible. There was so much energy in the writing that the pages flew by. Edgy, twisty, and absolutely brilliant – I’m so glad it’s a trilogy. 

In January, I read Melinda Salisbury’s debut, THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER, which, with masterful world-building and a fascinating cast, completely blew me away. Deliciously dark with shocker twists – I can’t wait for the sequel next year. Almost a year on and I still think about it all the time.

In April, I read Sarah J Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, which was beyond amazing. The author spins the tale of Beauty and the Beast into a fresh and breath-taking story of love, darkness, hope, and courage. I love retellings, and I enjoyed this one immensely – utterly captivating and achingly romantic.

In June, I read Moira Fowley-Doyle’s debut, THE ACCIDENT SEASON. With a secrets booth, tarot cards, a haunted house, a whispering river, dream catchers in the trees, and dolls on the forest floor, THE ACCIDENT SEASON is bursting with personality and atmosphere. It’s a strange and beautiful book and I was under its spell from the start.

In July, I read the spectacular sequel to Danielle L Jensen’s STOLEN SONGBIRD. With dark magic, a cursed kingdom, and a witch who doesn’t want to be found, HIDDEN HUNTRESS had me racing through the story and being back in this world made me so happy. I absolutely adore this series.

I also read Virginia Boecker’s debut, WITCH HUNTER, in July and gosh I LOVED this medieval world of magic and danger, rival sides both as strong and determined as one another, and a main character caught between the two. This was a real page-turner and I’m already looking forward to the next book.

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Many thanks to Chicken House, Scholastic, Orchard Books, Bloomsbury, and Random House for the ones that were sent for review.

YALC

This was my first year joining the fun at YALC in London, and I enjoyed it so much!  I felt like I was in a little bubble all day, surrounded by things I love and people with similar interests and it was awesome. I left the event feeling so happy, having talked to and met so many people, got books signed, bought books, bought Funko Pop! toys, collected some book swag, and listened to fantastic author panels.

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The Shadowhunters panel from Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan was the most exciting part of the day for me. I totally ditched my partner so I could sit on the front row. He understood, of course! And afterward we queued up together for the signing. Andy got CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE signed for my mum, who has read and loved all of CC’s books. And I got my copy of CITY OF BONES signed *happy sigh*.

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EVENTS

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I took part in some events myself this year, too, for both DARK DAYS and THE WANDERERS. The first was in February, at Waterstones Birmingham for the UKYA Extravaganza. It was the place to be for fans of UKYA, good company, and cake!

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I really enjoyed speaking, but I think my favourite part of the day was talking to groups and individuals around the room. It was great to meet so many people I’d spoken to lots before (and people I’d love to speak to more!).

PARIS

In April, I went to Paris to take part in the Teen Author Smash at the American Library in Paris, where 25 authors were invited for readings, Q&A hot seats, signing books, and chatting to librarians, readers, and writers.

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I was so excited to see the library, meet the authors and the staff, and especially the teen writing group who looked after us on the night, which was really appreciated. We took some group photos before the event and I got chance to meet everyone there. I absolutely adore Amy Plum, so meeting her was a dream, and I’m so honoured that she invited me along to be part of the event. Claire Merle is a good friend, who I’ve known for a few years now, so it was great to finally meet IRL! And I met Zoraida Cordova here, who has since become a great friend.

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After the event, authors, partners, and librarians went over to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic and champagne. It was absolutely magical to be there and night, with the tower lit up and twinkling and good company all around – a perfect end to the trip.

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NEW YORK

In August, I went to New York City (for the first time!). Chaired by David Levithan and held at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, Teen Author Reading Night was planned for Wednesday 5th August, where 8 authors were invited for readings and a Q&A.

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My editor, Nicole, came with four colleagues from Skyhorse to support the reading which was so nice! And it was also the first time I’d met Nicole. Some of the authors had been there before. Most were newbies, like me. I read from THE WANDERERS for the first time.

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Everyone did really well and I added several titles to my TBR during the readings! David, then the audience, asked really great questions, and I had a great time meeting new people! I’ve particularly kept up to date with Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, who are both so so lovely.

NEW YORK TRIP

Which brings me to my New York trip in general. Over the last 10+ years, if you asked me where I most wanted to visit, the answer would have been New York City. On Monday 3rd August 2015, I finally got that chance. And I had not only the city and the event to look forward to, but meeting my agent and meeting my publishers.

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Meeting Isabel for the first time was so exciting, and what better place?! After dinner we walked Rosie the pug to Washington Square Park before parting ways. I wish we could have spent more time together!

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I also visited the Skyhorse offices and met Julie, my editor for Dark Days and all three picture books. Julie showed us her office, introduced us to some of the staff (like fab publicist, Cheryl!), and then walked us over to Nicole’s building, and the four of us went out for lunch. It was such a lovely afternoon!

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And I got to see Zoraida again! I insisted on pancakes and Zoraida delivered as we met at the Writing Room for brunch and I got some blueberry pancakes- yum! ❤ ❤

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Monday 10th August was my last day, but I wasn’t leaving until around 6:30pm. My partner and I  were packing and planning a late lunch on the pier when, with only hours to spare, I got an email from Nicole to tell me the finished copies of THE WANDERERS had arrived in their warehouse, and that I could take one home. I don’t think I’ve ever moved faster! We got the subway and dashed up to Skyhorse to collect the beautiful final hard copy, and we still had time for late-late lunch on the pier – a perfect end to a perfect trip!

THE WANDERERS

Which brings me on to THE WANDERERS. I like how this is flowing. So my second YA novel, THE WANDERERS, was released in September. It’s a shape-shifter circus story that I’m incredibly attached to and I am so overjoyed to see it out in the world with that beautiful jacket on!

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The book has received some really great blurbs and trade reviews:

“A swoony romance with a massive body count. . . . Closely resembles a brutal, angst-drenched dystopia à la Veronica Roth’s Divergent.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The preternatural circus of shifters, budding young romance, and action-packed struggle against evil will appeal to readers of paranormal fiction.” — School Library Journal

“The world of shape-shifting characters has just gotten wider with the addition of this novel . . . Fans of supernatural series like Shiver will enjoy this book, with its similar themes and strong love story.” — VOYA Magazine

“Filled with excitement and whimsy, The Wanderers is an adventure story about shape-shifters, first love, and the endless search for a true home.” — Suzanne Young, New York Times bestselling author of The Program

“A fresh tale about shape-shifters that is sure to delight and astound.” — Danielle L. Jensen, author of Stolen Songbird

The Wanderers is a dark, rich, and original story. I love the concept of humans with inherent shape-shifting abilities, and the circus setting is incredibly vivid—I could smell the musty, musky ring, feel the bright lights burning my skin. Kate has created an intricate and danger-filled world that’s both cruel and beautiful.” — Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter

“An utterly captivating big top world filled with shape-shifters and dark secrets. I devoured this book! It was unlike anything I’ve ever read.” — Amy Christine Parker, author of Gated and Astray

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And in November it was honoured as  “Winner” in the “Fiction: Young Adult” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards!

PICTURE BOOKS

This year has also been The Year of Picture Books. I’ve had three release under the name Kate Louise, with Sky Pony Press – the same publisher as I have for my novels – and it’s been a wonderful journey.

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THE UPSIDE-DOWN FISH, with Laura Matine, released in February, followed by PIERRE THE FRENCH BULLDOG RECYCLES, illustrated by Bethany Straker, in March, and TOUGH COOKIE, with Grace Sandford, in November. I’m proud of each one for different reasons, and I’m so happy to see them all together at last!

THE PACK

Finally, in October, I signed with Sky Pony Press for THE PACK, sequel to THE WANDERERS,  making the series a duology. THE PACK is my first sequel, my first series book, and I couldn’t be more excited to spend a little more time with these characters.

“Kate Ormand’s THE PACK, sequel to THE WANDERERS, about a sixteen-year-old traveling with what remains of the shape-shifter circus, and her discovery of a living relative she’ll do anything to rescue, even if it means facing the hunters again, to Nicole Frail at Sky Pony Press, for publication in Fall 2017, by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors (World).”