Thursday 9 June 2011

Author's Animal Antics - Justin Somper + International Giveaway

* UPDATE - THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED - Winners announced here *

Author's Animal Antics is a regular blog feature here at Feeling Fictional where I'm very excited to have some fantastic authors come and chat to us about their pets or share animal related stories.  I haven't had as much time to organise this feature recently so it's been a while since the last post but I'm thrilled to introduce Justin Somper as my guest today...

Justin with Bella & Bailey
Bailey & Bella

When I was asked how influential my two dogs, Bailey and Bella, have been on the VAMPIRATES books, my first reaction was to say… not much, really! I’ve never been tempted to write Vampirate dogs into the books. I’ve done Vampirate cowboys and I’ve done Vampirate highwaywomen but I think Vampirate dogs really would be a step too far! Nor have I drawn on either dog’s personality to develop a character based on them – though I inherited Bella from previous owners and one of her former names was Lola! How spooky is that? I’m glad that when I got her, she was already responding to Bella. It would have been too weird for me crying out “Lola!” as I walked around the woods in the morning.


If anything, I’m tempted to say, my dogs – much as I love them - are a positive hindrance to the creative process. Not least when I have my huge chapter-grids laid out on my office floor and they come in and sit on them or make off with one of my vital post-it notes!

Bailey "helping" with the writing process!

Is that a reward for Bailey's writing skills?

But actually thinking about it, they are a part of the writing process. Pretty much every morning, I take them for a walk first thing – around the woods or across the heath near where I live in North London. This walk is quality time with them. You only have to spend time with dogs to see that a walk isn’t just about physical exercise – it’s complete mental and sensory overload for them! But for me, the morning walk, serves another purpose. It can be a meditative start to the day and it’s certainly a great opportunity to ponder where I’m at in the book and any niggling problems regarding the plot or characters. It’s amazing how beneficial repetitive exercise is for resolving such conundrums. I’m often asked how to prevent or combat “writer’s block” and my two answers are 1) to plan out the story in advance (hence my chapter grids) and 2) if you get stuck to go for a walk or a swim etc.

Bella with Justin
Justin with Bailey


Thank you so much for visiting today Justin, I love all the pictures of Bailey & Bella - I have to admit the ones with the reinder antlers are my favourites!  Justin is currently taking part in a blog tour to celebrate the release of the final book in the Vampirates series, Immortal War.  If you haven't yet discovered this series it really is one you should check out!  Don't forget to check out the other tour stops too (you can find a list on my sidebar).  I'll be posting my review of Immortal War later today but I'll tell you now that I thought it was my favourite book in the series and rounded things off really well.

The Vampirates Series:

The Final Battle . . .

A bloody war is raging across the oceans, with the Pirate Federation and the Nocturnals allied against the renegade Vampirates let by Sidorio and a heavily pregnant Lady Lola.

Meanwhile, Connor and Grace Tempest each have their own important roles to play - he as a pirate warrior at the heart of the battle, she as a powerful healer working with the war-wounded. As the twins face their greatest challenges yet, old allies and formeer foes return for the ultimate battle . . .

Find out more about Justin and his work here - The Vampirates Website / Twitter / The Vampirates Facebook Page

For more information about the Author's Animal Antics feature click here


Giveaway Details:

This is such a fab series that I've decided to include an international giveaway.  The winner can choose any book they like from the Vampirates series (either Demons of the Ocean, Tide of Terror, Blood Captain, Black Heart, Empire of Night or Immortal War) so whether you're new to the series or you're desperately waiting for the final installment you can still enter.
  • I will be ordering the winner one of the Vampirates books from the Book Depository so the giveaway is international as long as Book Depository delivers to you (check here to make sure you can enter)
  • I'm keeping this giveaway really simple so all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post for Justin.
  • You have until the 17th of June to enter and the winner will be announced on my blog soon afterwards.
  • The winner will have 1 week to contact me with their address and their book choice so I can order their prize or a new winner will be chosen.
  • If you're under 16 you are welcome to enter but you will need to make sure you have a parent or guardian's permission and if you are the winner you must get them to contact me with an address to send your prize to.
  • There are no extra entries for spreading the word or for following my blog but if you choose to do either I'd really appreciate it :o)


  1. I was not aware of this series untill reading your blog post but it sounds like a fun series.

    Thanks for making the giveaway International and please enter me for the first book in the series.

    Thank you.
    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. I want Bailey! She looks so intellectual lying on the sofa with the book underneath. I love that she is sneaky and steals the notes!

    I would love to be entered into the competition. As I haven't read any of this series, I would love to win the first book - Demons of the Ocean.

    A brilliant post.

  3. OH WOW! Look at how gorgeous Bella and Bailey are. Beautiful photographs. I laughed at them sitting on your notes and things, must be an adventure having them around. :)

    And what great sports they are, posing with reindeer antlers. I kind of want to borrow Bella and never return her.

    Also, Sarah? Love the new Animal Antics button!

  4. Those woof-woofs are gorgeous! Beautiful! <3

    I'd love to be entered into the giveaway as I havenb't read this series yet but LOOOOVE Darren Shan (which is strange, for an 18 year old female!)

  5. What a wonderful idea. Every time I see pictures of the Captain's dogs, I am reminded of how well loved they are. Definitely part of his family.

    I have linked to your blog and giveaway, I hope you don't mind -

    Ship's Mouse.
    - Please do not include me in this giveaway, as I have signed copies of the books. -

  6. OMG I really need this last book. Here in Brazil the book 4 was published in april.

    I love your blog, and I am following too.

    Kisses =)

  7. Awww! Bailey and Bella are so cute! I really want a dog of my own, but I live in a flat and I'm not at home for a big part of the day, so it would be cruel for the dog...

    I first found out about this series from Becky, when she reviewed the book (last week?). I haven't read any of them, so I would love to be entered for the first book! Thanks for making it international! :)


  8. I haven't heard of these before, thanks for a chance to start a new series.

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  9. hi Bella and Bailey look way cute!! I want them!!
    my eldest son is reading book one at the moment and isi loving it!! Would love to win it!louise

  10. Would love to enter the contest.

  11. thanks for the giveaway
    jenhedger at hotmail dot com




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