Tag Archives: Zoe Marriott

New Releases – November 2015

See No Color by Shannon Gibney (Carolrhoda Lab)

“Biracial Alex, 16, high school baseball star and pride of her white, adoptive father and coach, sidesteps thinking about her parentage and racial identity, lying to finesse uncomfortable issues—but hiding her adoptive status from Reggie, an attractive, black player on an opposing team, troubles her. … Gibney, herself transracially adopted, honors the complexities of her diverse, appealing characters. Transracial adoption is never oversimplified, airbrushed, or sentimentalized, but instead, it’s portrayed with bracing honesty as the messy institution it is: rearranging families, blending cultural and biological DNA, loss and joy. An exceptionally accomplished debut.” — Kirkus, starred review

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“Five white teens move on with their lives after doing sex work in Las Vegas. At the end of Tricks (2009), three of the five protagonists saw glimmers of hope, one was stuck in a rut, and one had been shot. This sequel picks up with Cody in the hospital, awakening to learn that he’s paralyzed from the waist down. Whitney, who had overdosed, heads home to an emotionally distant family, facing PTSD and addictions to drugs and to her pimp. … Farm boy Seth is still being kept by a sugar daddy and tricking on the side. … Less startling than its predecessor; a hopeful aftermath tale for readers already attached to these characters.” — Kirkus

Everything but the Truth: An If Only novel by Mandy Hubbard (Bloomsbury USA)

Book Description: Holly Mathews’ mom is the new manager of a ritzy retirement home, and they just moved in, which means Holly’s neighbors are all super-rich retirees. Still, it’s not a total bust, because gorgeous, notorious Hollywood playboy Malik Buchannan is the grandson of one of the residents. Just one problem: when they meet, Malik assumes Holly’s there to visit her own rich relative. She doesn’t correct him, and it probably doesn’t matter, because their flirtation could never turn into more than a superficial fling … right? But the longer Holly lives in Malik’s privileged world, the deeper she falls for him and the more difficult it becomes to tell the truth … because coming clean might mean losing Malik forever.

Calvin by Martine Leavitt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“Calvin’s personality seems to have been destined: he was born on the day comic strip ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ ended, his grandfather gave the infant a Hobbes-like tiger toy that was his constant childhood companion, and his best (and only) friend was always Susie. But now…Susie has abandoned him for more popular kids, and suddenly Calvin is convinced that Hobbes is right there with him. It’s schizophrenia. Calvin is placed on a locked ward for treatment. He decides his last, best hope is to go on a dangerous pilgrimage. … Equal parts coming-of-age tale, survival adventure, and love story, this outstanding novel also sensitively deals with an uncommon but very real teen issue, making it far more than the sum of its parts.” — Kirkus, starred review

Darkness Hidden: The Name of the Blade, Book Two by Zoe Marriott (Candlewick)

“When readers first met Mio Yamato in The Name of the Blade (Candlewick, 2014), she was learning about her unique heritage, mastering the katana somehow bound to her (as well as Shinobu, the compelling boy who emerges from inside it), and protecting her friends from legions of monsters from Japanese myth. After that adventure, she has little time to catch her breath before this sequel begins. … Much like the previous volume, this entry is well paced and exciting and offers a look into Japanese mythology hard to find elsewhere. … this solid and gripping work will keep readers interested in what’s to come.” — School Library Journal

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“In a strong debut, McGovern investigates mortality, romance, family, race, and class. When Rose and Caleb meet at a “Walk for Rare Genes,” they appreciate not just each other’s company but also the chance to talk honestly about having a seriously ill family member. … Caleb, who has family with sickle-cell disease, and Rose, with a 50/50 chance of inheriting Huntington’s, hit it off, but nothing is simple. … Additionally, Caleb is black, and Rose is white, which makes her realize how much she’s never had to think about. As narrator, Rose is articulate and sympathetic, and though Caleb and his family are a bit too perfect, McGovern skillfully engages with questions of fate, choice, and truly terrible luck.” — Publishers Weekly

Soundless by Richelle Mead (Razorbill)

“Fei lives in a mountain village whose inhabitants have been deaf for generations, relying on artists like her for their daily news. Isolated by rockslides and unable to descend the mountain, the villagers depend on food supplied via a pulley system from the kingdom below. The price of survival is the mountain’s gold and silver, and the majority of the population works in the mines. But now Fei’s people, including her beloved sister, are starting to go blind, which will mean their extinction. After a vivid dream, Fei wakes with the gift of hearing and struggles to comprehend the new sensation of sound. She and her childhood friend Li Wei embark on a desperate effort to avert her people’s horrifying fate.” — Publishers Weekly

Winter by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends)

“At twice the length of Cinder, Meyer’s 800-page conclusion to her Lunar Chronicles is daunting both in its immensity and in its narrative breadth, shifting among every major character from the series and some new ones. But readers who have invested in Cinder and its sequels won’t be disappointed: this final installment abounds with nail-biting action, suspense, and romance. As Cinder plots a revolution against the exquisitely evil Lunar Queen Levana, readers meet Levana’s stepdaughter, Winter, whose debilitating visions are kept in check by Jacin, her beloved personal guard whom she is forbidden from marrying. …Meyer expertly ties up any and all loose ends, allowing readers to leave behind this saga with a contented sigh.” — Publishers Weekly

Note: According to this interview with the author, Winter is a woman of color.

This Way Home by Wes Moore with Shawn Goodman (Delacorte)

“Lifelong best friends and basketball teammates Elijah, Dylan, and Michael become reluctantly entangled with a Baltimore street gang. When Michael offers his friends each a pair of $400 Kobe 10 sneakers and won’t explain how he got them, Elijah knows he should say no. In the end, loyalty to his friends and the desire to get out of his own ratty shoes prevail. …The portrayal of the gang is pared-down, more symbolic than realistic, but the stakes are high, and the sense of impending doom is heavy throughout. A taut, haunting tragedy.” — Kirkus

Seeing Off the Johns by Rene S. Perez II (Cinco Puntos)

“In Greenton, TX, everything revolves around the Johns, the two star baseball and football players in the local high school. Everyone in town even wakes up before dawn to come out and send them off to college and wish them luck. When a tragic accident occurs, resulting in their untimely deaths, everything changes, especially for 16-year-old Chon Gonzales. Chon is a somewhat average teen working a dead-end job in a gas station and occasionally hooking up with an older female coworker. He’s looking to get out of his small town and win over Araceli, the girl of his dreams who used to date one of the Johns. … This authentic story of loss is powerful and one that many readers will not forget.” — School Library Journal

Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“Humor and youthful angst lighten this graphic memoir of life in a country pulled strongly in different directions by conflicts between Western and conservative Muslim values. Samanci looks back on her youth and schooling with a dual perspective: as a middle-class child caught up in relentless family pressure to excel academically as the only route to a secure future and, in a broader context, as a woman in a country that was forcibly Westernized years ago by the revered Atatürk but is currently experiencing a cultural backlash abetted by a repressive and corrupt government. … A bright, perceptive bildungsroman with a distinctive setting.” — Kirkus, starred review

Autumn’s Kiss by Bella Thorne (Delacorte)

Book Description: Everyone knows how crazy junior year is, but Autumn Falls never imagined it would be so flirty. The wish-granting diary her father left her stopped working, leaving Autumn to decode what’s going on with her and Sean on her own. He seems into her … and he also seems into Reenzie. And when JJ steps up and tells Autumn he’s the one she should be with if she wants someone who really cares about her and a pop star makes a major play for her, Autumn is totally confused. Her friends have Big Drama issues going on too, and Autumn wants to be there for them. Then something mind-blowing happens. She’s suddenly given an incredible crazy-fun opportunity: a map that takes her anyplace she wants to go. At first it seems like an amazing gift. But showing up IRL where you’re least expected has life-changing consequences. Is Autumn ready to handle the fallout?

Light of Day by Allison van Diepen (HarperTeen)

“Senior Gabby Perez is no naïve wallflower, but when a seedy club-goer sneaks roofies in her best friend’s drink, it takes a hot, blue-eyed, square-jawed stranger to warn her to get away. A young Miami radio personality, Gabby uses her weekly show, Light Up the Night, to discuss what (almost) happened and thank the handsome stranger who came to the rescue. The following week, the mystery guy, who goes by ”X,“ waits for her at the radio station and cautions her that she’s getting involved in a dangerous sex-trafficking situation. … Van Diepen returns to her On the Edge (2014) world—the tough streets of Miami—for another exciting story that delivers with a central relationship full of twists and surprising depth. Readers who like their romance on the gritty side will fall for van Diepen’s steamy thriller.” — Kirkus

Hollowgirl by Sean Williams (Balzer + Bray)

Book Description: Clair’s world has been destroyed—again. The only remaining hope of saving her friends is for her and Q to enter the Yard, the digital world of Ant Wallace’s creation. The rules there are the same as those of the real world: Water is real; fire is real; death is real. But in the Yard there are two Clair Hills, and their very existence causes cracks that steadily widen.

Getting inside is the easy part. Once there, she has to earn the trust of her friends, including the girl who started it all—her best friend, Libby. Together they must fight their way through the digital and political minefield in the hope of saving the world once and for all. And this time Clair has to get it right … or lose everything.

Judging People by Their Covers

By Zoë Marriott

marriott-darknesshiddenThere’s a photograph and a biography at the end of this post. Check it out now if you want. What’s your first impression of the person represented there? A pale-skinned, bespectacled blonde. British. First published quite young. Likes animals. That’s usually enough to give people a strong idea that they know who I am. But it’s not all there is to know.

If there’s one thing fiction is brilliant at, it’s proving to readers that nothing is as it seems.

In 2014 my first urban fantasy and the opening novel of my trilogy came out in the US. The Name of the Blade presented readers with Mio Yamato, a British-born Japanese heroine who is good with swords and almost recklessly valiant, her supernatural and seemingly perfect boyfriend, and a smart-mouthed best friend, Jack. Mio’s parents are out of the country on holiday and it’s up to Mio and crew to save London before those pesky adults get back and ground Mio for unleashing the monsters of Japanese myth onto the streets. Cliché cliché cliché. Right?

Well, I hope that the first book proved the characters had inner life and unexpected depth, and their world was darker and more complex than that.

But in Darkness Hidden, the second book of the trilogy, it was really time to start ripping back the reader’s assumptions. Mio, still suffering from the events of the first book, becomes paralysed with fear of making the wrong decision again, and all her ass-kicking becomes a sort of avoidance technique to distract her from taking more meaningful action. The perfectly devoted supernatural boyfriend is revealed to be psychologically fragile, maybe even broken, a habitual liar who seeks to protect himself by keeping the full truth from Mio. Tough, protective, physically capable Jack is left vulnerable and hurt. And the parents I’d so conveniently dispensed with in the first book? Turn out to have a great deal more to offer the story than either readers or Mio expected in this one.

I’m committed to diversity in my writing. Out of seven published YA novels, six have a protagonist who is a woman of colour (it will surprise no one that the single book with a white heroine is the most successful in terms of sales). Many of my books deal with mental illness and disability, and portray a whole spectrum of different sexualities and gender presentations. Sometimes people ask me why I ‘bother’ to do this, clearly assuming that my default must be the same as theirs — straight, white, able-bodied and cis. Surely it must be a lot of effort to include all these, you know, minorities and whatever?

It never crosses their mind that I might be among the minorities.

I don’t think authors should have to play privilege points in order to justify their choices. If someone wants to write books that are diverse, those books should be judged based on how good they are and nothing else.

But things aren’t always what they seem. That’s a good lesson for real life as well as fiction.

I hope readers will be intrigued and entertained by what I’ve attempted to do in Darkness Hidden — the gradual breaking down of what seemed at first to be the over-used tropes of urban fantasy. I hope they’ll come to see that their first impressions of the characters weren’t necessarily wrong, but that, just like in real life, what we can observe about a character at a single glance does not define them.

In choosing to write this particular series, which is set in contemporary London, has an all PoC cast, and pansexual, genderfluid and lesbian characters, I’m doing something that is vitally, personally important to me. Subverting the unquestioned assumptions I see in far too many YA novels. Taking characters whom all too often are pushed to the margins of the narrative, or even erased altogether, and offering them a voice, a point of view, and a story of their own.

I’m committed to diversity because I know how important it is to see your reflection in fiction growing up. I didn’t have that advantage, sadly.

What — not enough white-skinned blondes, you wonder? Oh yeah, plenty of those. But no one like me.

What my picture doesn’t show you, what my biography doesn’t reveal, is that I’m disabled, and have suffered with depression and anxiety all my life (I can quite clearly remember having my first suicidal thought when I was about eight). That my much-beloved family is mixed race. That I’m asexual, and after many years of work am now comfortable considering myself queer — although plenty of people (both gay and straight) like to tell me that I shouldn’t.

How many protagonists like me do you think I read about as a kid?

The best YA novels are not what they seem. They have unexpected depths and insights to offer that a reader will never discover unless they read on. And YA novelists — in fact, all people — are the same. Which means that, just as judging books by their cover is a bad idea, so is judging authors by their official biographies.


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YA novelist Zoë Marriott lives on the bleak and windy East coast of Britain, in a house crowded with books, cats, and an eccentric sprocker named Finn (also known as the Devil Hound). Her folk and fairytale inspired fantasy novels are critically acclaimed and have been nominated for many awards, even winning a few, including a USBBY Outstanding International Book listing for The Swan Kingdom, and the prestigious Sasakawa Prize for Shadows on the Moon.

Darkness Hidden is available for purchase.

New Releases – November 2014

Caught Up by Amir Abrams (K-Teen)

Book Description: Straitlaced and a self-proclaimed good girl, sixteen-year-old Kennedy Simms does what’s expected of her and it couldn’t make her parents happier. Still, Kennedy is bored. Good girls don’t get invited to parties and they certainly don’t hang out on the other side of town—the heart of the ’hood.

But now that school’s out, the rules are all about to change—especially when Kennedy starts hanging out with Sasha, her co-worker at the mall and a party girl from the other side of the tracks. Soon Kennedy is rocking sexy outfits, lying to her parents, and has even snagged herself a nineteen-year-old boyfriend. Malik Evans is a bad boy, and he’s about to take Kennedy on a whirlwind ride full of drama and lies that could throw her perfect life upside down…

Revolution (Replica Trilogy #3) by Jenna Black (Tor Teen)

Book Description: In Revolution, Nadia Lake and Nate Hayes find themselves at the center of a horrifying conspiracy in the action-packed finale of Jenna Black’s SF romance series that began with Replica

Paxco has a new ruler.

Dorothy Hayes claims to be the secret daughter of the recently-assassinated Chairman. She also claims that Nate Hayes, the true heir and her supposed brother, was the one who murdered their father.

Nate and his best friend, Nadia Lake, are the only ones who know the truth about what really happened to the Chairman, and more importantly, the truth about Dorothy.

But with Dorothy in power, Nate and Nadia know their days are numbered. They have nowhere to run except the Basement, Paxco’s perilous and lawless slums. But Dorothy is far from content with driving her enemies into hiding.

She wants them dead.

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith (Viking)

“Yes, it’s another post-apocalyptic series opener, but it’s infused with a generous spirit—call it a utopian dystopia. The small, walled community of Las Anclas bears little resemblance to Los Angeles, whose ancient ruins sprawl nearby. … The five dynamic narrators and action-packed plot deliver thrills while slyly undermining genre clichés. A first-rate page turner that leaves its own compelling afterimage.” — Kirkus, starred review

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“Eleven short stories about two centuries in the life of everyone’s favorite bisexual, biracial, immortal warlock from Clare’s hyperpopular Shadowhunters series, most previously published in electronic-only editions. … the collection shows compelling development of Magnus from flirtatious playboy to flirtatious playboy with a secret heart of gold to the fashionable-but-serious High Warlock of Brooklyn who throws himself between innocents and danger.” — Kirkus

Switch by Douglas Davey (Red Deer Press)

Book Description: Sheldon Bates wants to share his story — the story of what it was like when he was seventeen. Sheldon was an ordinary high school student until he started noticing something changing about himself. It was then that Sheldon started feeling the same way about boys that he did about girls. It was at seventeen that Sheldon desperately tried to figure out the truth and accept the fact of his bisexuality. And trying to find someone to talk to brought its own set of complications — especially when he found himself at the centre of a scandal that he was ill-equipped to handle. But he also discovered he was not alone and that he would survive his seventeenth year.

Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster (HarperTeen)

“In this prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls (2013), Forster creates a vast novel rich with Asian-inspired mythologies and an extensive cast of characters. … Fans of fantasy will enjoy the magical elements, while the subtle commentary of the novel’s stratified society lends it a dystopian vibe similar to Veronica Roth’s Divergent (2011, both HarperCollins) that will appeal to readers outside of the fantasy genre.” — School Library Journal

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Little, Brown)

“Heroin addicts, crime lords and murderers wreak havoc upon the residents of Hak Nam Walled City, a neglected, filthy place in this teen thriller told in alternating viewpoints. Inspired by Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, Graudin’s prose uncovers a contemporary dystopia where despair is so rampant, ”even the sunlight won’t enter.“ … Readers, rapt, will duck for cover until the very last page.” — Kirkus

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little (HarperCollins)

“In this novel set in ancient Syria at the time of Hammurabi, 16-year-old Jayden is betrothed to Horeb, future king of her tribe, a contract she views with apprehension. When her mother dies in childbirth, Jayden, her sister Leila, and her father are left behind to bury the dead. While mourning at her mother’s gravesite, Jayden meets a mysterious young man from the south who tells her his name is Kadesh and that he has been stranded in the desert after an attack on his trading caravan. As Kadesh travels with her and her family, Jayden falls in love with him, a forbidden romance because of her betrothal to Horeb. … this is a fast-paced, entertaining choice which will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance.” — School Library Journal

The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott (Candlewick)

“Marriott (Shadows on the Moon) launches a trilogy that draws from Japanese mythology to deliver an action-packed story with a romantic undercurrent. When nearly 16-year-old Londoner Mio Yamato “borrows” the katana that has been in her family for centuries to flesh out a Christmas party costume, she inadvertently awakens an ancient evil. … Strong characters and an intriguing premise make this a solid, enjoyable story.” — Publishers Weekly

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur (Sky Pony Press)

“At 17, Mementi Genesis Lee and friend Cora are out on the town, their primary worry escaping parental notice and keeping their memory-filled Link beads covered just enough for safety. Someone (suspicion falls on the Populace) has been stealing the Mementi’s prized objects and with them, entire lives. … For readers hooked on earbuds and constant social networking, the storyline should be intriguing, the ambiguities and plot twists reasonable. But it’s the sensitive handling of emotional details and the trauma of too much connection that make this a story of interest. … For anyone fascinated with thoughts of omniscience and total social connection—and who isn’t?—McArthur’s debut suggests fascinating and chilling possibilities.” — Kirkus

Mr. Samuel’s Penny by Treva Hall Melvin (Poisoned Pencil)

“A city girl from Queens, New York, is thrust into the slowed-down homeyness of a small North Carolina town in 1972, but the summer she fears will drag on intolerably soon turns into the mystery of a missing penny and an unknown killer. … A smart, funny pleasure, as satisfying as sipping lemonade on the front porch with a favorite grandparent.” — Kirkus

The Melody of Light by M.L. Rice (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Siblings Riley and Aidan Gordon are survivors. Together, they survived an abusive childhood, and when a fiery accident incinerates all they have—except for each other—they survive that, too. The tragedy leaves them with burdens and pain beyond their years, but it also sets them free to forge their own paths. Aidan’s road to happiness seems smooth and carefree. But Riley continues to struggle, her only saving grace being a passion for music that helps soothe her damaged soul. As their paths diverge and college looms, Riley will have to depend less on Aidan and more on herself. Fear of failure drives her, but will finding love derail her single-minded determination to succeed, or will it open the door to the family she’s always wanted?

Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne (Delacorte)

“In actress Thorne’s YA debut, sophomore Autumn Falls, stuck with a name ”that calls me out as a complete klutz and seasonally challenged,“ moves with her family to Florida after her father’s accidental death. There, Autumn’s Cuban grandmother gives her a magical journal and tells her it ”could change your life.“ … Thorne’s book has a fun premise.” — Publishers Weekly

On the Edge by Allison van Diepen (HarperTeen)

Book Description: Wrong place. Wrong time.

Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have seen two gang members attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, Maddie knows there’s a target on her back.

But her courage has also caught the attention of Lobo, the mysterious leader of a rival gang, who promises to protect her. Lobo might be out for his own revenge, but Maddie knows she can trust him. And even though Lobo tries to push her away, she is determined to find out the truth about him. As sparks fly between them, Maddie is drawn deeper into his dangerous world … until there’s no turning back.

When you live on the edge, any moment could be your last.

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath (Delacorte)

“Walrath’s debut vividly renders the atrocities of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century, using multiple first-person narratives in delicate verse. … A shocking tale of a bleak moment in history, told with stunning beauty.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Slump by Kevin Waltman (Cinco Puntos)

“Derrick ”D-Bow“ Bowen returns for his sophomore year at Indianapolis’ Marion East and this second volume in the D-Bow’s High School Hoops series. … With its deft balance of play-by-play action and off-the-court drama, this series scores.” — Kirkus

5 Things Zoë Marriott Learned While Writing THE NIGHT ITSELF

By Zoë Marriott

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1. Good Characters Do Not Come Out of Boxes

All my other books have had secondary world settings. If you’re inventing your own universe, you get to call the shots on many coolsauce things, like whether people routinely have facial tattoos, and if dragons exist, and on general attitudes toward sexuality, gender, religion, skin colour and disability. But The Night Itself — and the whole Name of the Blade trilogy — is set in contemporary London.

Switching to the real world for this story presented me with a strange challenge; the responsibility to reflect truthfully the real diversity of the real world, twinned with the knowledge that for a lot of readers a real world setting actually makes realistic diversity more difficult to accept. Mainstream media presents such a homogeneous idea of ‘normality’ or ‘realism’ — that it’s white, cis-gendered, able bodied, straight, and often overwhelmingly male. This is the default. If you give your readers something which doesn’t reflect that, there’s a temptation to make it easier to swallow by forcing the characters to fit into safe, well-defined boxes like The Gay Best Friend or Smart Asian Girl.

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The thing is that real people generally don’t fit in boxes. Try to cram them in, and they’ll not only be unhappy, but also have all kinds of interesting and awkward bits sticking out. Which is why my British-born-Japanese heroine is very smart, but also funny, vulnerable, brave and, at times, breathtakingly reckless and obtuse. And her gay best friend is a girl, and a Goth, and obsessed with 80s pop culture, and the story’s voice of reason. They are so much more than the labels that people might want to slap on them. Real people don’t fit in boxes, and good characters shouldn’t either.

2. Trilogies Are Like The Terminator

Every time you think you’ve hammered them into submission, they come back. You may think that you are just writing book one of your series, but everything is interconnected. In writing the first book, in a very real sense you’re writing the next two as well, because everything — but EVERYTHING — you do in terms of character, setting, plot and tone in book one effects everything about the characters, setting, plot and tone for the next two books. And you might get a handle on that. You might think you have it taped. But the second you start writing the next book? It starts again. I don’t even want to think about book three.

Writing a trilogy is the hardest writing challenge that I ever set myself. I’m filled with admiration for the writers who manage this more than once. I’ve already promised my poor editor we’re never doing this again. Seriously. No ‘Hasta La Vista.’ Ever.

3. London Is Magical

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I have to admit I knew this going in, but writing The Night Itself made it crystal clear. London is my favourite city. London is Magic.

I live in the North of Britain and for me London is many hours away by train, which means that I don’t get to visit often. But when I do, I adore it. The thrill is the same every time I set foot on those streets. I love the way the ancient and the ultra-modern jostle each other everywhere, how everything is always changing but nothing ever stays the same. I love travelling on the Tube. I love the sight of the Millenium Eye light up with blue lights against the night sky. I love the many bridges that criss-cross the river. I love knowing that humans have been living and breathing and walking on this very spot where I am living and breathing and walking right now for thousands of years.

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The initial spark of inspiration for The Night Itself was an image of tentacles of unspeakable darkness unfurling against a landscape of steel and glass and concrete, and I knew right away that I was seeing my favourite city. I wanted to share my sense of enchantment with this place with everyone, from readers who live there themselves to those who’ve never even seen it. And it goes without saying that I wanted to mess stuff up. Oh ho, London, you have no idea what I have in store for you…

4. Japan Mythologises Better Than You

Yes, they do. I’m in awe of so many aspects of this rich, unique culture — but the way the Japanese have guarded their traditional folklore and fairytales, their myths, legends, creatures, monsters and scary-ass shizz is mind boggling. There is just so much to explore, so much to draw on, so much to pay homage to. The deeper I go in my reading and research, the more I find out, the more I fall in love.

I often feel a deep sense of mourning for all the stories that were lost here in the UK when our traditions of oral storytelling were disrupted by the Norman Invasion. We have fragments left, bits and pieces that survived, mostly in the wilder outposts of Ancient and Celtic Britain (the Mabinogion, for instance) but a lot of our ‘traditional’ stories are actually mish-mashes of folktales that originate from other places in Europe. In Japan they managed to hang onto so much — so much that is uniquely theirs — it’s awe-inspiring.

5. Katanas Are The Coolest

You know its true. I know it’s true. And accept no substitutes.

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The Night Itself is now available in the UK. Follow Zoë Marriott on Twitter or visit her blog.