Friday 23 September 2011

OUP Blogger Event with Joss Stirling & Dave Cousins - 21st September 2011

For my stop in the Stealing Phoenix blog tour I'm doing a write up from the fantastic event I was lucky enough to attend earlier this week.  I had planned to get this post up first thing this morning but I've spent the best part of the last 2 days trying to get the pictures uploaded - my internet connection reallys sucks at the moment :o( - so I'm sorry it's a bit late.  Still, better late than never so finally here is my write up!  Make sure you check back tomorrow to read my review of Stealing Phoenix.

On Wednesday I was part of a group of bloggers who were invited to an event with OUP (Oxford University Press) to celebrate the launch of Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling and to introduce us to Dave Cousins an author whose debut novel 15 Days Without A Head will be published in January 2012.  We were treated to cocktails and canapes and had time to mingle with the authors, staff and other bloggers before getting to hear both authors talking about their work.

Jennie (OUP) introducing Joss Stirling & Dave Cousins

First to chat to us was Joss Stirling who told us that she decided to have a go at writing dark romance because her daughter was stuck in a Twilight loop, re-reading the 4 books over and over, refusing to give anything else a try.  Joss wanted to tempt her to read something different so decided that she would have to write something for her, she wanted it to be about something other than vampires and werewolves and came up with the idea of characters with psychic abilities.  She hadn't planned on writing more than 1 book so although she was happy to continue the series she isn't quite sure how she will be able to write books for the older brothers as they aren't really the right age range for the YA market.  We did speak to her about this earlier on in the evening and she reassured us that she knows the fans all want to see each of the brother's stories and she is currently thinking about possible ways to do this.

Joss reading from Stealing Phoenix

When Joss decided to write Yves' story for the second book in the series she thought it would be nice to set the story in London rather than in the US.  Yves is the right age to have come over to London for a college conference and she had fun setting the story in an area that she knows well.  She wanted to make Phoenix very different to Sky and decided to not to give her the same stable background.

When asked about how many drafts she writes Joss told us that she doesn't tend to plan her books in advance and makes it up as she goes along.  She said that her first draft usually ends up being quite similar to the finished book although there can be some changes along the way.  Talking about the names she gives her characters she said that she wanted to give them unusual names because they are unusual characters.

If you read my review of Finding Sky then you'll already know how much I was looking forward to Stealing Phoenix and I can tell you now that I loved it even more.  You'll have to come back tomorrow if you want to read my full review but if you haven't started reading this series yet then I'd highly recommend ordering your copy now!  I'm very excited to be able to confirm that Xav's story is definitely coming next, Joss hasn't started writing it yet but it is due to be published in February 2013 (I know, that sounds like a horribly long wait doesn't it!!).  The working title for Xav's book is currently Seeing Crystal but please be aware that this might change by the time the story is written and ready to publish.

Dave tells his life story in under 8 minutes

Dave Cousins was introduced by his editor Jasmine who told us that Dave was the winner of the Undiscovered Voices competition.  Part of his novel was included in an anthology that was sent around to the publishers and as soon as Jasmine read it she knew she wanted to be the one to publish it.  In fact, she went as far as getting one of her male team members to dress as a woman to convince Dave that OUP was the publisher for him (that will make much more sense when you've read a bit more of my write up!).

Dave started by giving us a quick run down of his life so far, he has been writing stories since he was a child but joined a band when he was at college studying for his art degree.  The band got a record deal and were almost famous for a while in the 80's and spent time touring the country.  (Despite our attempts to persuade him we didn't manage to get the band name out of him, although I think he may have let it slip to Carly so I'm intending to try and drag the information from her next time I see her!).  When he decided it was time to retire his leather trousers and get a proper job he started working for a design company but he had always wanted to go back to writing stories.  He got up at 5am every day to write before work but despite doing this for 4-5 years and completing several manuscripts whenever he re-read them he was convinced they weren't good enough and would stick them under the bed and start all over again.

One day when in a pub he was sitting at a table next to a drunk obnoxious woman who was there with her two children, one about 15 and the other much younger.  He started to wonder what the children's lives must be like - was the mother always like that?  Did the older brother have to look after the younger one?  In the end this is what sparked the idea for 15 Days Without A Head.  Dave re-wrote the book twice and spent over 2 years on it but he was still convinced that it wasn't good enough.  Eventually he got his wife to read it and luckily for us she was the one who persuaded him to enter the Undiscovered Voices competition. 

Dave did a reading from 15 Days Without A Head and I have to tell you now you want to add this book to your wish lists as it was absolutely hilarious (I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much!).  In the part he read the main character Laurence (who is 15 and has to hold things together at home for his younger brother 6 year old Jay because their mum is always out drinking) is desperately in need of money because they haven't eaten properly for days.  Laurence has found a bank book in his name but he needs his mum to be present to withdraw any money so he decides he'll have to pretend to be his mum and go to the bank.  The descriptions of poor Laurence trying to put on tights and a bra were so funny and I can't wait to read the rest of the book!  Dave did confirm that he tried dressing up as a woman himself before writing the scene and you can tell it was written from personal experience.

Casey, Hayley, Viv, Liz, Dwayne, Jasmine & Joss

Harriet, Stacey, Karen, Casey, Hayley, Viv & Liz

Carly, Darren, Sammee, Megan & Harriet

Dave & Joss

I'd like to say a massive thanks to OUP for organising such a fab evening and to both Joss and Dave for telling us all about their new books.  I already know I love Stealing Phoenix and I'm sure I will enjoy 15 Days Without A Head.

Who was there:
Jennie, Jasmine & Harriet - Oxford University Press
Joss Stirling - Website
Dave Cousins - Website
Casey & Hayley - Dark Readers


  1. Man alive I'm shiny in that picture! Great write up - I started 15 Days Without a Head on the train and it is awesome!x

  2. OMG am I ok to be envious I love everyone there and want to hug everyone. Sometimes working in a school sucks when you cant get to events & did I mention childcare *sigh* drags children to London & hides them under table ;D
    So glad you had a great time.
    I love love love Joss Sterling's books & have Dave Cousins on my wish-list :D

  3. Sounds like a great night. Wish I had been able to go, you know how much I love Joss and this series. x

  4. What a fabulous write up. It was a brilliant night. Dave's book is awesome, I am really enjoying it. Still can't get over Joss saying she doesn't have to plan her books or rewrite them. I want that skill!

  5. I had a great time at the event! It was nice seeing you again, even if it was extremely brief!

  6. @ Carly - sorry hun, I had to try & lighten the picture so you could see the people behind you so I think that probably made you look a bit too bright lol. I'm so tempted to start 15 Days Without a Head now but I've got a few other books I need to read first. I'm sure it's going to be awesome though :o)

    @ Emma - I really wish you could have come hun, it would have been lovely to see you. It sucks that you, Kirsty & Susan can't come down often :o(

    @ Susan - it was a fab evening thanks, we need to figure out a way to get you & Emma down more often! It feels like it's been forever since I saw you all lol

    @ Viv - it would be fabulous to be able to write a book without really planning it wouldn't it! Then again I don't think I've got a book in me so I won't be trying it anytime soon lol. Glad to hear you're enjoying 15 Days Without A Head too :o)

    @ theprettybooks - it was great to see you too Stacey, the time seemed to fly by though so sorry I didn't get to speak with you for longer!



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