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UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour - Lou Morgan Turns The Tables

26 Feb 2015
Welcome to the next stop on the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour - and we're doing things a little differently in this one, as author Lou Morgan turns the tables and interviews your host, Laura from Bookish Treasures!

No, we haven't lost the plot - not entirely, anyway. But we thought, as we get closer to the UKYA Extravaganza event itself, what better way to celebrate the spirit of the UKYA community than to turn the spotlight on the bloggers who are such an important part of it. Readers, cheerleaders and friends: these guys know their books. So let's find out a little bit more about what makes our host Laura tick…

1. Hi Laura, and thanks for being part of the blog tour! To start off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and about your site. How did you get into blogging?

My journey to blogging started with me discovering how great twitter was as a place to connect with both authors and people who loved books just as much as I did. From their I discovered book bloggers and reviewers and during "Cheer Week" in my first year of University (a week over the Easter holidays when everyone on the cheerleading team would stay at University even though everyone else had gone home to do long practices every day) I had a lot of spare time on my hands and so started reviewing for a site called Readers Favourite.

Getting experience reviewing and having started to develop friendships with bloggers made me want to create my own blog where I could post reviews written how I wanted alongside other posts to help spread the word of books I loved. With some encouragement and help from the lovely Faye @ A Daydreamers Thoughts, Bookish Treasures was born in December 2012.

My blog was set up with intention with it being a YA blog but it also has quite a heavy focus on NA simply as I was a strong supporter of it as the category was finding its feet and growing and so I would get lots of requests for those types of books (I still do but accept much less now). I expect that the types of books featured on Bookish Treasures will always change slightly as my reading habits change but YA is something people will always be able to expect to see as that is one thing I like that never changes. The variety that the category provides means that there is always a book to suit my current tastes.

2. Let's dig into your reading history: what's the first book you can remember reading, and what was your favourite book as a child? I can remember being very attached to books like Gobbolino, The Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams when I was little, and then things like Brian Jacques's Redwall series. I still have my copy of The Dark is Rising, too, which has to be one of my childhood favourites. What about you?

Many of my childhood memories are incredibly hazy but one of my clearest revolves around books. Shortly after starting primary school we were instructed to read out loud to our parents to practice our reading. Much to the despair of my mother I forced her to listen to me read the entirety of Fantastic Mr. Fox over a two hour period as I didn't want to stop only part way through. The next night I brought home George's Marvellous Medicine and she had to deal with listening to me read that also. When the third night saw me bring home The Twits my mum wrote a strongly worded letter for me to take to school about how she's rather I was encouraged to read on my own in the future. I still have that letter in a memory box. It is pretty funny.

Pretty much ever since then I have been just as crazy about books and often get hooked on a particular author. I had a childhood jam packed with activities and yet I still somehow found a lot of time to read. I would always carry around a book to read between ballet class, gymnastics, swimming etc. and would often stay awake long past my bedtime to finish off my current read. I haven't changed much to be honest.

As for my favourite reads, that is something I always struggle with as I read so many fantastic books in my childhood. One that has to be acknowledged is Varjack Paw by UK author S.F. Said as it is one of the only age 8 - 12 books that I still have on my bookshelves as I couldn't bear to get rid of it. I also still have The Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison - those books guided me through my pre-teen and teen years and are just so laugh out loud hilarious.

3. This interview is part of the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour. What do you think defines a UKYA book (apart from the obvious!), and what do you think sets it apart from other YA?

What I love most about UKYA is the culture matching my own so I find it easier to put myself in the characters shoes. I love books by US authors but I often cannot relate to the characters experiences - especially in contemporary fiction. UKYA is always a refreshing change as everything feels more real, I like recognising the locations and slang terms and I LOVE that everything is spelt properly :P

In my experience UKYA is often grittier and battles more serious topics. I think in the UK we are a little more lax than the US about hiding issues such as sex, mental illness etc. from teenagers. I love books that are not afraid to tackle serious issues and think that they are very important for teenagers to read.

I completely agree about the settings and culture: I devoured Point Horror and Sweet Valley High when I was 12 or so, and while I loved them, I always felt a little sad that there was nothing like that set somewhere I recognised. While on the one hand it made everything seem more glamorous and exciting, it also made it harder to identify with the characters' lives.

4. Pick up the book closest to you right now, open it to a random page and tell us the first full sentence written there. (No cheating!)

Mine, by the way, is a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing, so we get this:

Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work - the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside - the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don't show their effect all at once.

Which is cheery, but I rather like it anyway. Yours?

Ok so the first time I sat down to answer the questions I was pinned under a cat (evidence) and so unable to go and get a book. The second time, I was pinned under a cat AGAIN so I sent my mum to grab a book at random from my room. And so having set the scene -
"Always keep your sword in the ready position"
Just to give this quote context (though it is much funnier without), this is from The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook in the chapter How To Win A Sword Fight.

5. Why do you think UKYA has developed into such a community? Where would you like to see it go from here? I can't wait to see how it changes and grows over the next year…

I think it helps that the UK is much smaller than other places such as the US and so it is easier for everyone to get to know one another, attend similar events etc. People like Lucy Powrie who runs UKYAchat and Project UKYA have been a major part of developing the community in recent years and also in terms of bloggers many of the top reviewers of UKYA (you can see many of them shortlisted for the UKYA Blogger Awards) are incredibly friendly and welcoming to new people in the community.

My hopes for the future are simply that the community continues to grow whilst simultaneously becoming even more tight knit.

6. What's the last book you finished reading, and what's next on your TBR pile?

I have just finished The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (not UKYA sorry!) and I am about to start reading Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth.

The Rithmatist was an unbelievably incredible YA Fantasy novel with in depth and complex world building and from what I have heard about Seven Days it tackles the issue of bullying in a really unique and fascinating way, telling the story from the perspectives of both the bully and the victim.

Seven Days is the first of several UKYA novels at the top of my TBR pile. UK authors appear to be pulling out all the stops to make 2015 the best year of UKYA yet!

Good choices: I've heard some very good things about Seven Days too! I've not long finished reading Wolf Hall (I'm so ahead of the curve I'm a couple of years behind it…) which was incredible, and I'm partway through Mal Peet's Life: An Exploded Diagram. After that, I've been thinking about a re-read of Possession by AS Byatt. It's one of my favourite books, and it's been a while since I read it, but it's been on my mind lately.

7. You're about to be exiled to a deserted tropical island. You have time to grab five things to take with you. I guess mine would be a bag (which I'd fill with books), a notebook and pen, a blanket and a big Crocodile Dundee-ish knife. What are yours, and why?

I always go silly with these questions :P

Solar Panels and a generator so I have access to electricity
A satellite device so I can get onto the internet
My kindle so that I can read books
My laptop so that I can go on twitter, goodreads and my blog
My cats Lily and Neo for companionship

Even if I am on a desert island I need to be able to read and blog!
Thank you Laura, for all your answers! And don't forget to head over to YAYeahYeah tomorrow for the next stop on the tour, with Emma Haughton.
Also don't forget to check out Lou's YA novel Sleepless which is available online and in any bookstore worth its salt!
Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming � and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.
Lou Morgan is the author of YA study pill horror Sleepless, part of the Red Eye series from Stripes, as well as two adult urban fantasy novels: Blood and Feathers and Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, both available from Solaris Books. She lives in Bath with her family, and has long submitted to the rule of her two cats.

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