Friday, 16 August 2013

The exit!


The Edinburgh International Book Festival is an exciting place. I’ve been travelling back and forth, meeting friends and celeb-spotting in the Authors’ Yurt (a kind of tented Tardis, much bigger on the inside, crammed full of authors bursting with stories they’re about to let loose on the world). But the best thing about a book festival is that authors and readers meet to share stories and ideas.

So if you’re coming to our schools event (see page 15) or our evening event on Wed 21st August, here’s a taster of what we’ll be discussing in our dystopian debates... join in!

Books and films imagining the future are hugely popular just now. Think of the Hunger Games, Inception, Halo - and our books! 
Why do people enjoy them? Do YOU? Because we like to be thrilled, challenged, scared, inspired? Or are dark and dangerous stories an escape from reality? 

We imagine three very different versions of the future. But how do you imagine it? Could science save us? Destroy us? Take us across the universe to new worlds? Will the climate, new inventions or politics change the way we live? (Why not use some of these ideas to help you write a futuristic story of your own?)

But how far should writers go in imagining the future - especially for young readers? Should there be limits? The new dystopian fiction is marketed towards girls, though they are exciting stories with lots of boy appeal - are ‘labels’ and covers aimed at boys or girls helpful for readers? Or should you be free to make your own discoveries?

There's much more about us and our books elsewhere on Demention, and here...

Claire Merle’s The Glimpse was welcomed as a grippingly readable and deeply unsettling British dystopian thriller. Her new book The Fall will be out in June. Claire’s website

Julie Bertagna’s award-winning Exodus trilogy is a brilliantly imagined story of love and survival in a climate-changed world. Zenith and Aurora complete this highly-acclaimed, classic dystopian story of the future.’ Julie’s website

Teri Terry’s Slated, a dark psychological thriller, was published to great acclaim last year and has now been followed by the engrossing, fast paced Fractured. Teri’s website

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Demention is heading for Edinburgh!

by Teri Terry

Yes, it's true: Claire Merle, Julie Bertagna and myself will all be heading for Edinburgh and the Edinburgh International Book Festival - the largest festival of the spoken word in the world! 

We're doing one event in the school's programme, and one in the public programme - both on 21st August. The latter is at 6 p.m. and here is the event: 
Dangerous, dark, dystopian... Are stories about the future a thrilling escape from reality or can they inspire change? How far dare writers go as they embrace rebellion and independent thinking? Should there be limits? Should ideas be challenged? Join Demention blog authors, Julie Bertagna (Exodus), Claire Merle (The Fall) and Teri Terry (the Slated triology), for a big dystopian debate.
Tickets are available here.

But that's not all....

The YA Edinburgh Book Hunt!

We and some other YA authors have got together to giveaway signed copies of all these books: 

This giveaway is international.

To enter, visit one of the blogs of the authors involved. The link to mine is here

All you have to do is follow the instructions on each blog and follow the hunt, until you get back where you started and email the answer from clues on each blog (full details are on each blog).

Good luck!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

It's the Apocalypse! that why it is so HOT?

by Teri Terry

OK, it isn't REALLY the end of the world. As far as I know. Though hitting high-20s for over a week in England, with no end in sight, feels a bit like pigs flying and/or snowballs in hell kind of stuff.

No, what I'm referring to is....

Apocalypse! is an eight day blogging event hosted by Maja at The Nocturnal Library, Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings, and Christy at Love of Books.  

And there is a giveaway, oh yes there is! The giveaway is a blog hop, and all is revealed here.

Finally - to see the top ten things I'd need to survive an apocalypse, visit The Nocturnal Library : here is the link.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Dystopian Rules!

Dystopian YA fiction is still hugely popular and nothing shows that more than the awesome blogging event DYSTOPIAN DOMINATION hosted every year by two bloggers, Kai and Precious. I had the privilege of taking part in the event last year, with the release of The Glimpse and now again this year with the release of The Fall. Whether you’re writing dystopian and want to know about this year’s popular releases from around the world, or you just love reading dystopian as much as we do, this is an event you’ll definitely enjoy. There are character interviews, author interviews and international giveaways for signed books and swag. 

Here’s what Precious, who hosts the blog Fragments of Life has to say about it:  

"Dystopian Domination came to life in May 14, 2011. At that time, Kai and I were thinking of hosting our second blog event together. We were both dystopian enthusiasts so naturally, we thought of hosting a blog event about YA dystopian novels. I was the one who suggested that we use Dystopian Domination for the title. Why, you ask? In 2011, it seemed to me that dystopia was dominating the YA field. We hosted our first ever ‘DD’ as we like to call it, with excitement and anxiety. It was our first time to host something that big. I consider it big because we sought out YA dystopian novels not only in USA but also in other parts of the world like Australia (Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres is an example) and UK (such as 20 Years by Emma Newman). That way, we are spreading the dystopian love internationally, highlighting books from across the globe and uniting dystopian enthusiasts and authors in a single blog event. 

After the first post, the comments started trickling in. It turned out that a lot of people were excited for the event! But what really surprised us were the comments that came after the event. There were people who told us that we inspired them to host their own blog events (who wouldn’t smile to that?) There are readers and fellow bloggers who say that they look forward to Dystopian Domination every year. For that reason, we continued hosting the DD blog event series. We hosted DD2 and DD3 last year. This year, from June to July, we are hosting Dystopian Domination 4. It’s not only a tradition for us. It’s also a treat for our readers, a gift to authors and a fountain of discovery (a lot of people discover new reads during DD) for everyone."

To read my character interview with Cole featured on Dystopian Domination last week, and win signed copies of The Glimpse and The Fall click HERE

And just up today, you can also check out the interview with Teri Terry and win copies of Fractured. Click HERE

Thanks Kai and Precious for such a fabulous blogging event. Dystopian Rules! Link to Kai's blog HERE. Link to Precious' blog HERE

by Claire Merle
author of THE GLIMPSE (2012)
and THE FALL (Glimpse sequel 2013) 

Thursday, 6 June 2013


Today I woke to the sound of fanfares bursting below my bedroom window, opened my door to a spontaneous eruption of cheering all up and down my street, and took the kids to school amid the colourful paraphernalia of people waving flags, throwing streamers and blowing whistles at me. 

That’s right today is one special day

The Fall releases in bookshops all over the UK, which will soon be followed by sightings in Australia, Canada, South Africa and Russia! Hooray! People have been camping outside branches of Waterstones and WH Smith just hoping to get their hands on a copy and now YOU can have a signed set copy of the Glimpse Duology, just by bowing at my feet and giving me your soul.

OK, I won’t make it that hard. And I might possibly be exaggerating about the camping and fanfares. Maybe that all happened before I woke up...

Actually, the truth about book birthday’s, is no one really notices anything unusual about the day, except perhaps that the author sparkles ever-so-slightly and might be heard uttering little incredulous ‘squeaks’ from time to time. But if you would like to help me celebrate, that would be awesome! 

I’m giving away three signed sets of The Glimpse Duology 

– The Glimpse (2012) and The Fall (2013). Please come and leave a comment HERE to let me know you’d like to win them! You can also help me by voting on a possible title for my new YA fantasy. And every time one of you leaves me a comment, a little ‘hooray!’ will sound in the ether of wonder, coming from across the waters in a little, red-roofed house near Paris. Thank you for celebrating with me!


Monday, 27 May 2013

Finding Your Voice - Writing fiction

‘An ability with words is nice, but it's not a voice.’ 
Meg Rosoff (2011)

Back in early December I posted on ‘Writing and the Lost Art of Patience’: the need to pause between finishing one project and taking the time to discover the next one. At the end of November, I had begun working on a new fiction novel – a Young Adult fantasy. I knew this would be quite different to my first two novels, The Glimpse Duet, written in the third person with one main point of view and several alternating points of view. Not only was I entering the domain of fantasy rather than dystopia, I was also writing in first person for the first time, and felt quite conscious of the impact this could have on the voice and style of the work. 

About a hundred and twenty pages into this first draft I had an epiphany about some of the attitudes and feel of my main character and I started from scratch again with a strong sense of ‘capturing’ a unique and specific ‘voice’, which wove like a thread into the atmosphere of the work and story world. I began redrafting, with the uplifting sense that I was making a personal breakthrough. But by around the hundred and twenty page mark, I began floundering. Again! My level of interest dropped off, the shiny feel of something new and special had slipped away and I was in throws of doubt with a lurking sense that something was wrong with my story.

Around this time, I attended a SCBWI writer’s conference. During workshops on pitching, I found myself struggling to write a dazzling pitch for my YA fantasy. Or more honestly, anything remotely good at all. Summing it up in a line or a paragraph seemed almost impossible. To work within the frame of what we were being asked to do, I began altering the basic story structure to come up with a simpler concept, resulting in another light-bulb moment. Followed by panic. 

I’d been grappling with aspects of my fantasy story that weren’t working but I was also reluctant to let go of all my previous hard work. Inspired (and scared) I allowed myself one week to start over and pursue the new idea. I wrote furiously to get as much down as I could, desperate to see if it could really stand up to the long haul, or if it would frazzle and splutter out like previous efforts. Now, less than two months later, I’m sitting with an 80,000 word draft and I’m almost finished. After months of writing and throwing away hundreds of pages, I have a first draft! (*throws confetti*) And I’ve never written so fast in my life. 

But what does this have to do with voice?

In Meg Rosoff's article for the Guardian, (follow the link to read it), she states,

Your 'voice' lies somewhere between your conscious and subconscious mind. Finding that place is a challenging exercise in self-confrontation.

Over the years, as I’ve written and thrown away hundred of thousands of words, I’ve often wondered about the way so many authors advocate scribbling down a first draft as fast as possible, with little prior plotting. It’s an approach that, from experience, I know can run you hard and fast into walls. But I also think it’s a powerful way of reaching that strange and wonderful place where the story seems to flow out of nowhere, where the writer hovers between thinking and feeling, the rational and emotional, the conscious and subconscious. There’s nothing more magical than running after a story, trying to keep up with it, rather than pulling it along behind you. Writing like this gives your characters the freedom to take you to unexpected places, to tell the story their way, to tap into something that isn’t logical but lies beyond analytical or rational thinking.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I don’t believe voice is something you can ‘learn’ like plotting or syntax. It’s something you find through the journey of writing to discover the story only you can tell in the way that only you can tell it. It’s a culmination of how your characters live through and learn from their experiences, how they perceive the world, how they act and react, how they think and speak, and how your own sensibilities and deepest experiences ripple beneath the pages to create themes and subtext that sometimes as the author, you’re not even fully conscious you’re doing.

In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard ~ John Grisham
So if you're looking for your voice as a writer, my advice is to take risks, write what excites you, what sets your pulse racing, what scares or obsesses you, what you’re grappling with or haunted by. Write and write and write, and somewhere along the line, you won’t have to find your voice, your voice will find you. 

Photos from the March 2013 SCBWI Paris conference

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Here at Demention we're packing our bags and our books (but hopefully not our wellies) for the Hay Book Festival (Friday May 31st 5.30pm) and the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Wed 21st August am & pm) for DARK, DANGEROUS & DYSTOPIAN debates. Come and meet us - we’d love you to join in. Here’s a taster of what we’re all about...


A boy and girl, oceans apart, fates entwined, fight for a future in a flooded world. 

Julie says, ‘An SOS from islanders at the mercy of rising seas on the other side of the world sparked Exodus, Zenith and Aurora. I kept thinking, what if that happens to us? How would we cope in a climate-changed world? So I began an apocalyptic tale of young survivors on a storm-ravaged Earth.

I set my story 100 years in the future - then climate change kicked in for real, affecting millions. The floods, tornadoes and storms are unnervingly close to my imagined world. Published in over 20 countries, I love that they’ve made lots of shortlists and won awards (even Green awards in the UK & US) but the most brilliant thing for me is that young readers across the world write and tell me how the books have made them think about the future - though some teachers and librarians in the USA have blasted them as too dangerous...’  
Why do we enjoy dystopian and apocalyptic stories when the real world is scary enough? Are they a thrilling escape? Dangerous? Can they inspire hope and change? 



Imagine you’ve been SLATED - your memory wiped clean and you don’t know why. 

Teri says, ‘Slated grew from a dream in the dark murk of my unconscious, so it wasn't a plan to write a dystopian novel at all. But I think I end up writing about my obsessions, things that worry me. Whether I want to, or not. I didn't set out to consider big questions, but the story took me places, and the questions were there.’

If a young person commits a terrible, violent crime, why did they do it? Are people born bad, or made that way? If someone commits a crime as a reaction to horrible things that have happened to them, is it their fault? Should they even be punished? But if they are dangerous to everyone else, you can't just let them go...


In a society divided into Pures and Crazies, a DNA test can destroy your life forever.  

Claire says, ‘I don’t write to be controversial, but I do hope to make readers think. My debut novel The Glimpse addresses mental health issues from a rather different dynamic than is more common in fiction. Some readers have completely embraced and understood the book in the way I intended, but interpretations have been wide and in some cases very surprising. 

I didn’t set out to be provocative. I just wanted to write about a subject that concerns me deeply – the direction western society is headed in terms of the perception, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. I’m not a particularly confrontational person, but I could easily end up having a heated debate about a pint of milk...' 
Are dystopias so popular because they take risks, exploring all kinds of possible futures in challenging ways? Should there be boundaries in YA fiction? How far dare authors go?

From the Hay Festival here:

‘Claire Merle’s The Glimpse was welcomed as a grippingly readable and deeply unsettling British dystopian thriller. Her new book The Fall will be out in June. Claire’s website
Teri Terry’s Slated, a dark psychological thriller, was published to great acclaim last year and has now been followed by the engrossing, fast paced Fractured. Teri’s website

Julie Bertagna’s award-winning Exodus is a brilliantly imagined story of love and survival in a climate-changed world. Zenith and Aurora complete this highly-acclaimed, classic dystopian trilogy.’ Julie’s website

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Seige by Sarah Mussi review by Julienne Durber

Siege by Sarah Mussi tells the story of Leah Jackson, a sixteen year old girl who finds herself trapped when her school is overrun by a gang of gun-wielding students, one of whom is her brother.  Told from Leah’s point of view we follow her as she rescues her wounded friends and tries to find a way to escape from the school.

From the cover design, which if it hasn’t featured in the pages of Creative Review I’d be surprised, the reader is fired into an uncompromisingly harsh situation.  The action zips along at just the right rate.  Leah’s internal voice is excelently written and really connects us with the claustrophobia and the harsh decisions she has to face.

Now I remember having a conversation with a friend about the Tarantino film Pulp Fiction after it first came out.  She decided that it was an average film that had been chopped up and re-edited in a funny order to make it seem interesting.  I argued that she was missing the point and that the re-editing was a vital part of the intertwined ‘pulp’ story feel.

But I fell into that exact trap when I started reading Seige.  In fact after twenty pages I was convinced I was going to call this review ‘Die Hard meets Columbine’ (and part of me hopes that was the phrase Mussi used to pitch the book to her agent).

Die Hard meets Columbine

It is undeniable how close to Die Hard this book is.  The violence is visceral and present from the first page.  Leah is caught unawares but escapes as others are captured.  The Nakatomi building is the school, the terrorists are the gang, and the twist … well, that would be giving the game away - if you have seen the film you'll spot the similarity.

And when Leah found herself having to negotiate a corridor strewn with broken glass, in my head she had morphed into a young, female Bruce Willis.  The bald head really didn’t suit her!

I was the one missing the point.

It doesn’t matter that certain elements are familiar.  This is a totally immersive story that raises real questions about society, community responsibility and personal choices.  Leah’s situation forces the reader to question what they would do in the same situation.  And the fact that there have been incidents like this in the news adds a truly chilling edge.  This is a book about today.  Society.  Right now.

Which is why the dystopian thread was the one thing I didn’t like.  It seemed to detract from the purity of the situation – terrified student against terrorising gang.  The events in the school would have had greater impact without it, and it ended up feeling like a device added to allow certain things to be rounded off blamelessly in the last chapter.

The actual ending, however, was excellent.

I don’t think that this is a genre defining book, though I predict some copycat titles are flying towards the shelves as I’m typing this, but it’s certainly genre influencing.

Read and enjoy.  Yippie kay ay …

Royalty free images from

Monday, 15 April 2013

Jeff Norton, Author of Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising - interview and review by Julienne Durber

Ahead of the release of Metawars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal
I'm interviewing Jeff Norton, author of the Metawars books
Scroll down to the end of the interview is my review of
Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising.

Jeff has kindly donated a signed copy of
Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising
Leave a comment to be entered into the prize draw, tweet and repost on FB to be entered twice more
(you know the deal.)
Giveaway closes on 1st June. Winner's name will be posted here.

Welcome to Demention, Jeff, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed about Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising - a book I enjoyed a great deal.

Thanks for having me!  I love the Demention blog, so this is a real honour!

When I read book 1, Fight for the Future, I felt that it relied quite heavily on the technological elements and was worried that the technology it references would start to feel dated.  In book 2, The Dead are Rising, the story seems to breathe more and we are drawn further into the real world, and while the technology is still present you touch much more on the characters and their situations.  Was this a conscious change of direction, or had you always planned it that way?

The series is anchored in technology, specifically the interface between the real and virtual worlds, but that’s not what the books are about. For me, the entire four-book MetaWars saga is a coming of age story for Jonah and Sam.  I want the reader to feel as though we’re growing up alongside both of them.

In the first book, I had to set up the rules of both worlds.  But once those rules are established and understood, I was free to focus more on the characters and their growth and development. 
Without giving too much away to those who haven't yet read it, The Dead are Rising treads some quite sinister paths and looks further at the issues of mortality and loss that you touched upon in the first book.  How important do you feel it is to underpin your stories with such weighty subjects?

MetaWars is about choice. It’s about choice and consequences, which is fundamentally about morality.  I don’t shy away from weighty, serious issues because the characters are grappling with defining their own moral code across two very confusing worlds. In this book, I tackle everything from gang membership to suicide and explore one recurring question: does the end justify the means? 

I want my readers to always question and interrogate their own moral code as the books evolve.

And have you had to tone down any of the darker aspects to suit your readership?

If anything, I’ve dialled up the drama and with it the terrifying consequences to certain choices that the characters make.  This book, The Dead Are Rising, is essentially the exploration of the chilling consequences to one impulsive choice that Jonah made at the end of the first book.  He chooses to save the ‘life’ of his dead father, and the entire population of the digital dead.  In doing so, he unwittingly grants the dead a new form of consciousness.  This book investigates how far someone who knows they are dead (in this case, Jonah’s father) will go to be alive again and how far someone who mourns for the dead will go to keep them ‘alive.’

In terms of the audience, I think younger readers can handle a lot more than we adults give them credit for. The very essence of adolescence, the process of moving from childhood to adulthood, is an incredibly dark process as your childish beliefs are (sometimes painfully) replaced by real-world experiences.  I think young readers can relate to this experience, and older readers can remember it viscerally – which is why I’ve always maintained that MetaWars is for readers aged 9 to 90!

You also play very effectively with the morality of the characters, leaving the reader to decide the merits of each character's situation and the decisions they make.  Did you find it hard to stay away from the traditional 'authority figures = bad, rebels = good' dystopian paradigm?

It was a very deliberate choice because I think it’s more honest. Each of us is the star of our own movie and we look at the world through our own moral lens. Every terrorist thinks he’s a freedom fighter. Every authoritarian figure believes he’s doing the right thing.  It’s far too easy in contemporary dystopian literature to play into the tropes and conventions, but it’s much more fun to upend those conventions – and much more reflective of human nature.

In The Dead are Rising, even more so than in Fight for the Future, you look at the negative side of people relying on the Metasphere as an escape from reality.  Do you worry that the virtual experiences we have today could have a similar negative effect as they become more advanced?

I’m no Luddite and I love technology, but yes, I am very concerned that as the world turns online for connection and communication that we risk alienating ourselves from the real world.  I’ve based MetaWars on the ten 'meta trends' that I believe are shaping our future and meta trend #10 is the what I call the 'virtual bubble'.  It’s the idea that whenever we engage with the internet, we enter a virtual bubble – effectively leaving the real world behind. You see then whenever someone checks their iPhone while walking down the street, they’re suddenly not paying attention to the real world and thus susceptible to bumping into someone, walking into the path of a bus, or having their £500 portable computer nicked.  Author William Gibson called it ‘cyberspace’ and I do think that the more time we spend away from the real world, the less time we spend thinking about or caring about the real issues facing our real world. 

And finally, can you tell me a little about book 3?  When will it be out?  And can you say anything about the fourth book?

If book 2 is about the rise of the digital dead, then book 3 is about the war between the living and the dead. It pits Jonah against his father in a very emotional struggle over the rights of the living and the ‘reborn’ digital dead. It’s the most emotional book yet, and I guarantee will make you cry at the end!  MetaWars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal publishes 1stMay, 2013 from Orchard Books.

I’m currently writing the fourth and final book now and it’s called The Freedom Frontier.  It’s about survival and sacrifice. I don’t want to give too much away, but when the world suddenly changes on Jonah and Sam, they find themselves alone in a terrifying new reality.  The book explores the nature of their relationship against the backdrop of a threat they never saw coming.

Jeff Norton, thank you very much.

Thank you! It’s been a real pleasure to catch up.

To find more information about Jeff Norton visit

And my review: Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising follows directly on from book 1, Fight for the Future, but Norton takes the story to a new level.  Jonah Delacroix is still embroiled in the battle for control of the Metasphere - the virtual world that the internet has become - but his journey takes him to emotionally dark places where he has to question both the consequences of decisions made in the first book and the motivations of both his allies and his enemies.

As well as expanding the characters established in Fight for the Future, The Dead are Rising draws us much further into the real world that Norton has created and seeds planted in the first book begin to blossom.  This extremely believable world provides a realistic, three dimensional anchor for the Metasphere that was perhaps lacking in Fight for the Future.

I only liked Fight for the Future, but I love The Dead are Rising and can't wait for MetaWars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal.

Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising