Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Interview with Shome Dasgupta, author of The Sea Singer

Hello, readers! Today I have another author interview for you, this time with the wonderful Shome Dasgupta, author of The Sea Singer- a beautifully haunting novel about small-town lives and a singing baby who cannot sleep. Intrigued? Here's the blurb:

March is born in April, just as the sun is setting. A singing baby who can't sleep, she sets Kolkaper on edge. The town council orders the Scientists to take her away and study her, maybe send her to the cave forest, a place for freaks like her. Acting quickly, March's parents and their friends, the Medallions, thwart those plans, sending the baby away to the distant town of Koofay. But March's destiny is tied to that of Kolkaper's. She must return to save the city from itself. An enchanting fable about love and faith and accepting the odd ones among us.

As soon as I heard about this book from Accent Press I knew I wanted to know more, and am delighted to have the opportunity to host Shome Dasgupta on my blog for an interview! I asked Shome all about writing inspiration, his favourite childhood books, and how he thinks books can change the world...

When did you first start writing?

I think I first started to write, as in trying to write poetry or short stories just to try out those creative forms, when I was around 13 or 14 years old. And while I was in college I started to write more regularly and studied various authors to gain a better understanding of the craft of writing.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I had a few—I don’t think I could just name one; however, if I had to, it would be The Giving Tree.

But other books I loved to read repeatedly were Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Hardy Boys series, The Wind in the Willows, and The Famous Five and Secret Seven series.

Where do you get inspiration from to write?

I always have difficulty answering this question. I guess from a variety of sources. I know I started to write just for creative outlets and because I wanted to write stories and poems influenced by my favorite authors. Other sources of inspiration come from my family and friends as well as reading the works of others whether in journals or in book form.

Do you think books can change the world?

They certainly have changed my own world. But overall, I do think they have changed the world in multiple ways, whether on a personal level or on a more universal level. Sometimes it’s subtle, while other times, much more apparent.

If you had to choose three things to take with you to a desert island, what would they be?

I think about this question quite a bit, and it usually changes at any given moment, but as I write this, a photo of my family (parents and brother), my bed, and gasoline.

Describe The Sea Singer in three words...

Circles, songs, chickens.

Thank you so much, Shome, for being on my blog!

Check out Shome Dasgupta here:

Check out The Sea Singer here:

Until next time :)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Things You Wished You Had Known Before Uni?

Hello readers! As you may or may not know, I am beginning my first semester at university in a few days. I am not scared at all. NOT AT ALL. But anyway, even if I was, I thought it would be really helpful if we could all get some advice from real people who have gone through university, and heard about some of the things they wished they had known before they had unpacked their bags on that very first day. 

Of course, every experience at university is completely subjective. You will never go through exactly the same thing as someone else. However, it is worth remembering that at university, a lot of people start off freshers week with a few of the same emotions. Some people are worried about making friends, some are excited to party every night into the early hours, some are nervous about the amount of work that are sure to hit them once lectures begin.

So I've been on Twitter and hunted down some bloggers who are happy to share their experiences with us- the good and the bad- all about starting university and how to make the most of it once you get there. I hope you all find this useful!

Amy McCaw is a primary school teacher and book blogger at (@yaundermyskin on Twitter)

My first piece of advice might sound controversial, but here goes… Don’t do all of the recommended reading. Before you throw your books through the window and cheer, bear with me. A lot of lecturers will tell you to read three or four chapters on the same subject. Factor in having three or four lectures a day, and I wasted too much time reading the same information over and over again. Choose one of the recommended texts that seems to be the most readable and related to your lectures. Then if you’re especially diligent, repeat this process with another text. 
Find the right balance between work and having a life. A lot of first years get carried away with their social lives, and find themselves with thumping heads in lectures (or don’t turn up at all.) At first, I went the opposite way, disappearing behind a mountain of textbooks and highlighters. Enjoy your first taste of freedom, but try not to go overboard. Your grades and your waistline will be the first things to go!

What my first few weeks were like…

I have a terrible sense of direction, so a lot of my early memories involve wandering in increasing panic around the university campus. The work was a lot more intense than I was used to, but it didn’t take too long to get into a manageable rhythm. Don’t panic if you haven’t met your best new friends in the first few weeks, as I didn’t find my closest two friends until much later in the year. 

Ailsa Floyd graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2014. She runs the book review blog The Book Bundle ( ) and tweets at

I was confident starting university. I'd just taken a gap year where I worked a ski season in France then summer at a camp in the USA so I was comfortable living away from home and sure it would be easy enough to make friends. Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. I got on with my flatmates but they didn't go out much & we didn't have the same interests in the societies we wanted to go to. Each of my lectures had about 200 people in - an intimidating amount when you're trying to find a friend. Everywhere I thought I should be able to meet people and make friends, it seemed like people already had their friend groups and I felt awkward about trying to break in to a group that had already formed. For example, each of my classes had a small group tutorial once a week. Over the year, I had several tutorials with the same girl, who always seemed to have a close friend with her and not really the sort of person I'd get on with, so despite our shared classes I never tried to talk to her. Well, in 4th year she was one of my flatmates! It took a while but eventually I met people I fitted in with, and it was so easy.

I've learned since first year that struggling to find friends at first at uni isn't an uncommon problem. People just don't like to admit that they're having a hard time, which isn't surprising really - I would never have told my mum that I had no friends! The best advice I can give is relax, try not to worry too much about it. You will find wonderful friends at university, but remember sometimes it takes a little looking - like dating, you won't find your perfect fit straight away. And those people sitting together in your class every day probably don't know each other as well as you think and would be happy to welcome you in as well. Don't be put off by appearances.

And finally, here's Cherie Coco, who blogs at This is a US perspective on starting university, so I hope this helps my American readers!

Hello, I am guest posting for the beautiful Alix Long. I myself graduated from college in 2013. However I started college at the tender age of 17 so I was in a whole new world and not the slightest bit prepared on the long journey called college. I attended a local university in my hometown, so I was still close to home which was nice (at times). So I will give you some things I wish I knew before starting college.

My first semester of college, I spent about $800 on books (that’s ridiculous) however as I started talking to older and seasoned students, they introduced me to, and other cheap ideas to get quality text books. The only time I bought books from the bookstore is if they were workbooks or the professor wrote the book themselves (which was a common theme). 

I like to think of the syllabus as a binding contract between the professors and students. Usually whatever is on the syllabus is usually what the professor will go by. Unless the syllabus states “To be changed” j ust think of that syllabus as their word.  That syllabus saved me so many times anywhere from exams, papers and tests.  So read as soon as you get it. Highlight the important dates so you won’t forget it. 

Coming from high school where things are different, it could be quite intimidating to go speak to your professor. Those office hours Are for you! So use them! If you need clarity on a paper or you need assistance on an assignment go to your professor? I promise they are not scary. Professors almost see you as a colleague of yours. Also if your professor recognizes your efforts inside and outside the classroom, they will be much more willing to write a recommendation letter or better yet bump your grade from an A- to A.  

Things happen all the time. So sometimes you might need to miss class. So you missed class, what now? You need the notes, right? The best way to get the notes is from a classmate. Exchange numbers/emails etc. Plus it will work out to have someone you trust to have your back in class and vice versa. Making a friend in class is another person in your network as well. A very essential part of college is growing your network. 

My last thing I wish I knew is that: IT’S OK TO CHANGE YOUR MAJOR ! 
I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing wrong with changing your major but just make sure that you don’t do too often or else you end up with all these extra unnecessary classes. So my best piece of advice is if you are not entirely sure, go Undecided or Undeclared.  Everyone in their 1st year has to take some of the same classes anyway. That way you are still taking classes towards a major just you have not made a decision. I changed my major 3 times, from Biology to Nursing and I ended up graduating with Bachelors in Political Science. 
So it’s okay! 

Thanks Alix for letting me guest post for you. I hope this advice helps someone else out there. Also good luck to the new students starting their first year in College. 
Enjoy the ride! It will be all worth it.

I hope this helps, everyone! 

If you're heading off to university this year, or just getting ahead and doing your research, good luck with it. Don't forget, there's plenty of support if you need someone to talk to or just a little bit of encouragement.

Until next time :) 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Storytime at The Mini Edit!

Hello readers! Today I have a little event summary for you, the first one in a really long time. Over the summer I was asked by my cousin to do a story time at her beautiful pop-up shop in Knightsbridge, otherwise known as The Mini Edit!


It was such a wonderful shop with an electric atmosphere and incredible customer service. It really is all about the kids- and the clothing brands that The Mini Edit sells clearly reflects this. Sophisticated designs and effortlessly cool but quirky prints are all on the table for the coolest customers to snap up to add to their wardrobe. Nothing is excessively girly, and that's exactly what I like about it. The fashion at The Mini Edit is not only accessible but wearable. You can get every look from casual daywear to awesome going out clothes.

As well as awesome shopping experiences, The Mini Edit hosted fabulous events to give their customers more than cool clothes to take home. I was lucky enough to be part of one of these with story time! I read several stories to some adorable youngsters (and some of my not-so-young friends!) and it was so much fun. It's definitely something I would love to do more of in the future :)

Unfortunately the pop-up shop is now closed, but you can still check out The Mini Edit online- and I would highly recommend that you do!

Check out my pictures here.
   Until next time :)

Monday, 7 September 2015

A BIG THANK YOU | 100 Delightful Posts

Before May 2013, blogging had never even began to cross my mind. I liked writing. I liked reading. But blogging? The word alone was alien to me. Blogging was something people did in chic cafés in New York, where they typed furiously about how grey is the new black and what lipstick everyone had to have in their make up bag. People didn't blog about books. Alix didn't blog. Because cool people blogged. Tech-savvy, intelligent, passionate people blogged. None of those things I considered myself to be. I think that's such a clear testament to how blogging has changed the way I think about myself.

Now, here's a clear warning. This post is gonna get mushy. Incredibly mushy. But I think that's appropriate right now, actually, because if you can't get mushy while writing your 100th blog post, when can you get mushy?

I have been writing since a very young age- in fact, I still have the stapeled-together 'paperback' (a very loose term for what it actually was) of my first novel aged four- Ruby The Red Fairy. I remember writing waaaaaaaay before I remember reading. But books have always been there. One of my favourite book quotes (and the perfect one to describe what I mean here) is from Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird where she says...

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

I can honestly say that when I started blogging, that's when I really started to love and appreciate blogging.

If you asked me back in late 2012 where I saw myself succeeding in five or ten years time, I would have most definitely said books. Writing books, most probbaly. Although when I say it now it sounds stupid and unrealistic, but at the time it was more of a near possibility. After posting my first novel Finding Theo to teen writing platform Movellas, I had gained support from my target readership, a group of online friends and even a fanbase. Soon enough I was asked to do an interview on the site, as well as visiting a primary school on an author visit, speaking to the Telegraph and appearing on Sky News.

While I was excited, not to mention a tad overwhelmed by all this, the thing that I was ecstatic about was the fact that agents had began to contact to contact me, asking me to let them know when I had written another book. Around the same time, Huffington Post contacted me and asked if I wanted to be a blogger for their UK site.

Three years later, I still haven't finished that book.

But that is because, in May 2013, something much more remarkable happened.

A few months before, my uncle had taken me along to Andy Robb's book launch, knowing that I was interested in books and writing, and at this event I was lucky enough to meet YA author Sara Grant. She was absolutely lovely, and as well as signing some of my books, she also gave me some great advice about writing and an invitation to her own book launch party. 

At this party I was very fortunate to be introduced to the best publicist EVER- the most lovely and wonderful Nina Douglas from Orion Books (now Hachette!) Nina works absolute wonders for the YA book community and all the books and authors she looks after. From this chance meeting I got three amazing things: the first two books of the Grisha Trilogy and Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me, a spot on the Fierce Fiction blogging team and a great start up to my blogging journey. 

Three years on, and I am still blogging for Fierce Fiction at Orion Books, as well as five other Publicity, Marketing and Publishing companies. I have been sent over 20 packages of books to review, and hundreds of emails with exciting opportunities for me. I have a brand new Booktube channel under my hat, and a Huffington Post blogger profile with dozens of posts. 

Three years on, and If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch is still one of my favourite all-time books.

I am so so grateful for all of the opportunities given to me, and for all of the authors and books I have been exposed to, which have all in one way or another enriched my life. I have met amazing bloggers and YouTubers who have spurred me on to keep doing what I'm doing. There are so many things I have done that, five years ago, I never thought I would be doing: interviewing Marcus Sedgwick, attending glitzy book launch parties, covering World Book Night and bringing my sister to meet her favourite author, Jacqueline Harvey. And I'm pretty sure that my pastime as a blogger is what helped me land my dream course at University- English Literature with Creative Writing. 

I'm very aware that probably none of you will find this post interesting, and it's probably more for me than it is for any of you. But this is a post to say thank you. Thank you for sticking with me for 100 posts. Thank you for being brilliant. And as they say 'cheers' in polite English society, let all us book lovers jovially shout 'books!'

Until next time :)