Book Group Gems!

 

Our Clubhouse meetings offer you the chance to meet the authors behind the brilliant reads that we feature in our boxes each month.

We’ve been so lucky to work with some truly incredible authors, who have shared with our book group their writerly wisdom, behind-the-book secrets, exciting future plans and many many laughs.

Here are just a few gems from book groups gone by…

Bad Girls

“I’m always interested by WHY we do things. That was always going to be the focus of this book–as I said, it was not supposed to be a crime novel or a mystery, but rather, beyond that.

BAD GIRLS BOOK GROUP with LYGIA DAY PENAFLOR

In June 2018 we celebrated all of our favourite bad girls in fiction and sent out the compelling All of This is True to our members. We were so excited to chat to Lygia Day Penaflor about precious truths, manipulative authors and the hottest new YA genre ‘the why-dunnit’!

 

“Readers are meant to know more than the characters. It’s like watching an accident you know is about to happen.”

Stargazers

 

 

Fallen Angels

“Death, grief and the afterlife are obviously major themes of the book, and as we don’t get clear cut answers about those in real life, I didn’t want to give them here either. I hoped readers would come up with their own ideas about why the angels were falling.”

FALLEN ANGELS BOOK GROUP with SOPHIE CAMERON

In April 2018 sent out the heartwarming Out of the Blue to our members in a box that celebrated celestial beings in fiction! After a little bit of reading time we armed ourselves with plenty of Tunnock’s Teacakes and met with the lovely Sophie Cameron to discuss the book, LGBT+ characters in YA and our favourite reading snacks (because a Clubhouse meeting wouldn’t be the same without some foodie debates!).

“I did set out to write a book with gay/bi characters specifically, and I wanted to do so in a way where their sexualities weren’t at all the main focus of the plot – coming out stories are still really important but I think we still need more incidentally LGBTQ+ characters (and other marginalisations, too, of course).”

 

Under the Sea…

“Since I was an itty bitty human, I’ve always loved books, particularly fantasy and magical stories. I grew up in a house that was overrun with books and from a young age I knew I wanted to create stories too. I began querying agents when I was only 10 years old and I’d ride my bike down to the mailbox to see if I got a response”

UNDER THE SEA… BOOK GROUP with SHEA ERNSHAW

In March 2018 we dived Under the Sea… with Shea Ernshaw’s chilling, atmospheric novel – The Wicked Deep. Then, a few weeks later, our members gathered around in our cosy online Clubhouse to meet Shea and ask questions about this brilliant book. We chatted about seaside settings, cursed towns, cake, cats and top secret writing projects!

“I loved writing about characters that blurred the lines between villain and hero! I like to force myself to consider how I might react in that situation. And I hope readers feel the same–that they were torn between wanting the villain to both live and die.”

 

Into Dystopia

“ As writers we write stories out of the stuff that’s going on around us, and we make things up, imagining. I’ll bet some of you are writers, so you’ll know.”

INTO DYSTOPIA BOOK GROUP with FIONA SHAW

This February, we equipped our members with a survival kit (think chocolate, tea and apocalypse themed goodies!) and a fast-paced adventure novel about a gang of teen rebels (and a dog!) trying to escape the eye of a power hungry government. Then, in April we were joined by Outwalkers author Fiona Shaw for Clubhouse capers! We chatted about animal accomplices, politics, killing off characters, dystopian reads and PASTA!

“I’m very pleased Outwalkers chimed with what you feel is going on now. Though obviously I hope that quite a bit of it doesn’t ever happen!”

 

Geeks Unite

“I plan using lots of post its and diagrams, and talking to my Dad about it cos he’s the most logical person I know and can spot a plot hole from a mile off!”

GEEKS UNITE BOOK GROUP with Anna Day

We kicked off January 2018 with a box that celebrated innate geekiness and a fantastic dystopian novel about a group of teens who get caught up inside the world of their favourite book. A few weeks later we were joined by Anna Day – author of The Fandom – and our lovely members for a Clubhouse book group to remember. We talked about fictional worlds, top secret writing projects, swearing, genre definitions and Harry Potter houses.

“I was so lucky to get really positive feedback from agents straight away. I have terrible sticking power and I hate criticism or rejection, so I wouldn’t have perservered otherwise! Which I think is generally a very important component of getting published!”

 

Winter Fairytales

“I would learn a fun fact doing research and incorporate it into the story, or I would come up against a question in writing that required more research. So the writing and the researching process fueled each other.”

WINTER FAIRYTALES BOOK GROUP with Katherine Arden

For our December 2018 Winter Fairytales theme we treated our members to not just one, but TWO brilliant books. The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower are the first two parts of the Winternight Trilogy: an epic historical fantasy adventure with a sword-wielding, horse-whispering heroine who captured all of our hearts. Thanks to Katherine Arden and our lovely members for a fantastic book group chatting about BEAR, GIRL, Russian fairytales and nicknames, awesome female characters and evil priests!

“One thing I’ve always loved about Russian fairy tales is the strength of the female characters – Marya Morevna, Vasilisa the Wise, Baba Yaga… I feel like western fairy tales don’t have an equivalent to these powerful figures.”

 

Haunted Minds

“ I am optimistic, I guess. I want my characters to be okay in the long run. (I am also a sap.)”

HAUNTED MINDS BOOK GROUP with Kali Wallace

In November 2017 we sent our members The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace – a book about family legacy, long-lived feuds, mental health and buried secrets. Then, after some reading time, we met in the Clubhouse to quiz Kali about her brilliant book. We talked about reading resolutions, virtue names (and anti-virtue names), tricky book structures, family trees and lots more

“That chapter actually changed very little from first draft to final version. It just flowed very well, once I decided to write it, and all the creepy dark horribleness delighted me”

Quests and Legends

“I wrote the whole first draft in about three weeks. I wrote obsessively, and I read Scandinavian folktales in between writing. I was just so into the whole world!”

QUESTS & LEGENDS BOOK GROUP with Lisa Lueddecke

Our book group for October was all about quests – as our members journeyed to our remote online Clubhouse (on a web server far, far away!) to meet the lovely Lisa Lueddecke and chat about her brilliant book A Shiver of Snow and Sky. There was talk of Scandi holiday destinations, inspiration tales, language and we discovered pretty much everyone would want Kaz Brekker as their quest companion.

“I love inspiration questions! As far as A Shiver of Snow and Sky goes; I love winter a lot. Like, a whole bunch. There’s something about winter and ice and snow that I find magical, and it makes me believe that almost anything can happen!”

Outlaws

“A lot of people don’t but I like (writing about) fierce angry girls!”

OUTLAWS BOOK GROUP with Yaba Badoe

With a whole year of Book Box Club book groups under our belt, we opened the Clubhouse virtual doors to Yaba Badoe, author of our visceral September read A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars. As ever our members were on top form, quizzing Yaba about character inspiration, the Spanish setting of her book and future projects. We also planned our very own Book Box Club circus as inspired by our featured read!

“ There are similarities between filmmaking and writing, but filmmaking a definitely a collaborative medium while you have to write on your own.”

 

Fearless Females

“I think I’d have been a Suffragist. I can’t see me setting fire to pillarboxes, but I’d have gone on a good few marches, I think.”

FEARLESS FEMALES BOOK GROUP with Sally Nicholls

This August our Book Box Club boxes were crammed with girl power as we treated members to Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls – an inspiring read about three young women and the fight for women’s rights at the outbreak of WWI. Sally joined us for an action-packed follow up book group in September, where we talked suffragettes, the future for her brilliant characters and knickers!!

“ All the Suffrage scenes in the book happened in some form or another. I stole most of the best lines in the book from Suffrage writing. Some of the timescales were moved around, but they’re all based on history.“

 

Spells and Remedies

“ I sort of just wanted to create this historic little pocket of time in a small town, kind of like a snow globe, that was at times both charming and also a little eerie and claustrophobic. That’s what I was going for, anyway!”

SPELLS & REMEDIES BOOK GROUP with Emily Bain Murphy

Our July members all received a stunning copy of The Disappearances – a moving mystery about a strange cursed town where the residents are slowly losing their senses. In August (after some reading time) we gathered around in our online Clubhouse to chat to the book’s author Emily Bain Murphy about Shakespeare, romance, ship names (!), magic and so much more.

“ I was really, really excited to write that scene because I was shipping the characters so hard myself!! :)”

 

Schoolroom Scandals

“My goal was to make every chapter end in a way that you had to read the next.” 

SCHOOLROOM SCANDALS BOOK GROUP with KAREN M. MCMANUS. 

Our June box theme was Schoolroom Scandals and we sent our members the brilliantly thrilling One of Us is Lying. We were hooked by this high school mystery and, by the time book group came around, we were so excited to quiz Karen M. McManus about it! We chatted about our group love of The Breakfast Club,  

“Lives are so transparent now, and for the most part you can control what people see, but when information you don’t want to share gets out, you can’t take it back.” 

Wizards at War

“I didn’t want to shy away from what happens when people decide someone – or something – is intrinsically evil.”

WIZARDS AT WAR BOOK GROUP with SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL

In May 2017 we sent our members Spellslinger – an action-packed fantasy adventure about the son of a powerful mage who finds himself seriously lacking in the magic department! After a bit of reading time we met the book’s incredibly generous author Sebastien De Castell in our online Clubhouse to chat about sequels, behind the scenes stories, the next 5 books in the series and, of course, Squirrel Cats.

“Book 2 is all finished and typeset. Book 3 is in first draft, Book 4 has already been outlined, and Book 5 is written (though I have to take out one or two disturbing scenes.)”

 

Belles and Beasts

“To me stories are magic, plain and simple – as a writer I get to imagine something beautiful or tragic or horrifying or astonishing, and then all but psychically transfer that vision to the minds of readers.”

BELLES & BEASTS BOOK GROUP with MEAGAN SPOONER

Our April Belles & Beasts box featured HUNTED – a gorgeous, evocative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. After devouring the book, we gathered together in our cozy Clubhouse to chat to it’s astoundingly eloquent author, Meagan Spooner. We chatted about Stockholm Syndrome, fairytales, gender-swapping, disabilities in YA and the importance of making friends with people who have cool hobbies!

“ I think I’m influenced by everything I’ve read (or heard or seen or experienced) in my life. Part of why I love fairy tale retellings is that they recall things from childhood that we tend to ignore as adults.”

 

Time Travel

“I was very mindful of who was where when and what each of them knew at what time. Clear as mud, right? It was like a ruler working from each end. I saved many of these notes in case I ever need to go back.”

TIME TRAVEL BOOK GROUP with ANGIE STANTON

In March 2017 we sent our subscribers a Time Travel themed box of goodies featuring Waking in Time – a romantic mystery about an unwitting time traveller on a quest to solve a family secret. After our members had devoured the book we met with it’s lovely author Angie Stanton and had a blast chatting about time-hopping, favourite decades, string theory and abs and beards!

“One of my big challenges was figuring out how to solve time travel. I mean you can’t write the book and not explain it”

 

Troublemakers

“Mia’s voice was very loud from the start though. I don’t think I’ve ever had a character arrive as fully formed as her before.”

TROUBLEMAKERS BOOK GROUP with LISA WILLIAMSON

Our February 2017 box featured All About Mia – a funny, heartwarming, cringe-fest about a mischief making middle child named Mia and her overachieving sisters. We met the author Lisa Williamson in the Clubhouse in March to chat about siblings, misbehaving and future exciting writing projects.

“I’m quite sociable so I find writing for a living quite hard in terms of the inevitable loneliness involved. Meeting up with fellow authors for writing dates helps.”

 

Immortal Stories

“I think, as a writer, I (not so) secretly hope that my book might exist after I’m gone, but WHO KNOWS. I hope I leave a legacy that prioritises kindness, truth and justice. I think that even simply trying to teach my children those values is a way of passing on a piece of myself.”

IMMORTAL STORIES BOOK GROUP with ALICE BROADWAY

This February we were thrilled to welcome the absolutely lovely Alice Broadway to The Clubhouse to discuss her ridiculously good-looking, insanely-brilliant book “INK”. We chatted about tattoos, storytelling, politics and cake (we even dreamt up the Book Box Bake Off!)!

“I guess I want to ask what makes us valuable? Is it the stuff we do and achieve and have or it is something much deeper than that?”

 

Magic by Night

“My fix for writer’s block is 1) running 2) swimming 3) taking a shower. There are days I’ve taken five showers just to think through a scene I’m struggling with.”

MAGIC BY NIGHT BOOK GROUP with LAURA RUBY

In January 2017, our Book Box Club Clubhouse played host to the wonderful Laura Ruby, author of our featured December book, Bone Gap. As usual our members were full of questions about this lucid, dreamy YA novel. We talked about small towns, nationality and translation, beauty and perception, magic, metaphor and writing projects and tips.

“I was interested in what a person would do if they had to face an all- powerful enemy. How do you fight such an enemy, when they can do anything they want?”

 

Secrets and Sisterhood

“One of the themes of the book is “the lies we tell ourselves” – everyone does, it’s just a matter of what you can convince yourself is your own personal truth.”

SECRETS & SISTERHOOD Book Group with CYLIN BUSBY

In January 2017, we met our members and the lovely Cylin Busby in the Clubhouse to chat about Cylin’s thrilling YA novel The Stranger Game, which featured in our November Secrets & Sisterhood box. We chatted about mistaken identities, self-deception, alien abductions (thanks Maja!) and writing projects.

“It’s so funny because these are characters that I created yet….I don’t totally know what their inner thoughts are!…Isn’t it funny that even I don’t know?!”

Freedom Squad

“You know a book like this just grows very slowly… you start with fairly basic characters and they seem to develop a life of their own.”

FREEDOM SQUAD BOOK GROUP with LAURENCE ANHOLT

In November 2016, Book Box Club members gathered in The Clubhouse to chat to Laurence Anholt about his book The Hypnotist, which we featured in our Freedom Squad themed October box! We talked about characters, future writing projects, current politics and dreamt up the concept of a “Soup Hero”.

“ I think fiction is so important because a) it’s a beautiful creative way to relax and b) it’s like a gym for our ‘empathy muscles’… when you think about it, reading fiction is about the only way in which we can actually inhabit the minds of others.”

 

Enchanted Forest

“I have a real bee in my bonnet about how we humans turn other humans into monsters by the way we mistreat them.”

ENCHANTED FOREST BOOK GROUP with PEADAR O’GUILIN

In October 2016 we met for the first ever Book Box Club online book group to discuss the book featured in our September box: The Call. We were joined in The Clubhouse by the book’s author Peadar O’Guilin for an exciting discussion about folklore, dystopia, Ireland and top-secret future writing projects!

“I don’t plan anything, so I’m constantly getting stuck. I figure, if I don’t know what’s going to happen, the reader won’t either!”

 

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