Today I welcome author Beth Webb to the blog to help me spread a little more #booklove. I’ll be letting you know Beth’s first book love in just a mo but first let’s all get to know her a little better.
I’m the author of fourteen much-loved titles for children and teenagers. You can read the opening chapters here.
My home is near Taunton in Somerset (UK) with two disreputable moggies who rule my life. My four grown-up children are often around, demanding home-made bread and cats to cuddle.
I’m an author and a storyteller, an illustrator and a workshop leader. I visit schools, universities, festivals and events, and I’m happy to craft a day, a weekend or even something longer to suit you.
Travel is no problem: I’ve run a writing holiday in Sicily, and events and workshops for the British Council in Cameroon. I’ve done storytelling in Orkney, Cork and Younde, and knee-deep in Glastonbury Festival mud.
I like a challenge!
Beth has released some 15 books, all of which can be found on her website here.
Fleabag & the Ring Fire
When Queen Sophia dies, the magic flame in her opal ring is given to The Fire Wielder, and the ring itself is hidden, to be found by the next worthy successors. Loyal Kitchen-maid Gemma and the haughty Lady Knight, Rowanne de Montiland, go on a year long quest to find it, guided by a clowning and unpredictable talking cat, Fleabag. The trio experience many perils as they travel ‘north by northwest,’ not least facing hunger, cold, robbers, wolves and marriage proposals.
Gemma is a girl who gets cold and faint and worried and yet she demonstrates her real qualities when she saves the life of the robber, Phelan, and insists on going back for Rowanne, when she is ensnared in the sumptuous palace of a cruel prince. Phelan too, is a lad who is frequently sad, full of self- doubt, and sometimes all to ready to end his life, or run away, so as not to be a burden, but by the end of the book he uses his wit and sheer bravery to overcome the most deadly of foes, proving his worth and sealing his future.
Fleabag weaves in and out of the story, lacing it with humour, dead rodents and deep love for Gemma. He’s got three legs, millions of fleas and serious cattitude. He’s FLEABAG the alley cat who lives in the palace. And he talks! His favourite humans are Gemma the kitchen maid and the queen – who is dying.
The royal Ring with its strange Fire has been hidden. Gemma and Fleabag are sent on the dangerous quest to find it, protected by a cat-hating knight. They’re ambushed by Phelan the thief – who gives what can never be stolen.
Fleabag & the Fire Cat
He’s got three legs, millions of fleas and serious cattitude. Fleabag the alley cat must save King Phelan’s realm.
Domnall, Chancellor of all Wizards has kidnapped Gemma, the young Fire Wielder who protects the land, and set her adrift in a small boat. Washed ashore, she’s rescued and set to work mending fishing nets. Gemma has forgotten who she is – and what she should be doing!
Meanwhile, Domnall is closing in with his deadly tendrils of Blue Magic. He’s about to bring the Ring Fire under his sway and be master of all.
But Fleabag and his daughter Cleo have other ideas.
Fleabag & the Rings End
He’s got three legs, millions of fleas and serious cattitude. He’s FLEABAG whose wit, wisdom and love of naps save the day – again.
The evil wizards of Porthwain issue the Great Challenge to win the crown and the Ring Fire for themselves, but Rowanne, bodyguard to Gemma Fire Wielder and King Phelan, deserts her post and flees to Porthwain. There, she becomes the most powerful wizard of all. She says she’s doing it all for the Ring Fire, but is she? Can she be trusted? And who is Kern, the penniless fiddle-player whose music can send even wizards to sleep?
It’s for Fleabag to know and the others to find out! But first, the friends must find the Ring’s End.
Favourite book from childhood
‘Tanglewood Tales,’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne, it infected me with a sense of ‘other’ and there being much more to the world that what we see.
The first book you fell in love with
‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ by Lewis Carroll. I was a lonely child, and learned to make up stories using chess pieces. The Alice books showed me that stories don’t have to be ‘real’ or ‘sensible’.
Biggest book crush
The book character you’re totally in love with
Merriman in ‘The Dark is Rising,’ by Susan Cooper. He’s like me – struggling with the effects of past mistakes, but he stills striving to do what is right. I wish I could be him, rather than merely being in love with him…
Weirdest book crush
‘Slaughterhouse Five,’ by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s weird because I’m hooked on kids’ fantasy, and this is a grown up book about war. But maybe not so weird – this is grown up fantasy with philosophical balls.
Hardest break up
The book you didn’t want to end
‘The Shepherd’s Crown,’ by Terry Pratchett. Wise, funny, sensible, and of course, who couldn’t love the Pratchett-Man himself?
The one that got away
The book in your TBR or wish list that you regret not having started yet.
Sigh – there are SO many! Where do I begin?
Guilty Reading pleasure
Don’t know if I have one… maybe science fiction short stories, Philip K Dick etc?
Love one, love them all
Favourite series or genre
The Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett. ‘Wee Free Men’ is one of the few books that makes me laugh out loud. As I mentioned above, these stories are wise, funny and sensible. A rare mixture.
Your latest squeeze
Favourite read of the last 12 months
‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,’ by Susanna Clarke. I love it because it’s weird and wonderful, dream-like and magical. And it’s deliciously annoying, I want to shake all the characters and knock some sense into them! Excellently written.
Blind date for a friend
If you were to set a friend up with a blind date (book) which one would it be?
Hummmm – it depends who it was, but I reckon my friend Jenny ought to read Joanne Harris – ‘The Lollipop Shoes.’ She currently reads too much archaeology to be good for her.
Greatest love of all
Favourite book of all time.
The book I’d rescue from the flames if the house was on fire would be… (help!!) ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, by C.S. Lewis. (But I might grab ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursula le Guin as I ran past.) Why? Because they are books that make my world feel stronger.
Thanks Beth. Some really great looking books in there. What do you think folks? Have you read any of them? Would they make your top reads list. I have to be honest this is outside of my usual genre so it’s been an interesting journey for me looking up some of these titles and authors. I think like a lot of kid’s, I dabbled in the occasional visit to Narnia back in the day. Should I be ashamed to admit I’ve never read any Alice books though. I don’t think I’ve even watched the cartoon films in their entirety. Oops. Perhaps I should remedy that, huh? (The books – not the cartoons…)
Make sure to pop back and see me this weekend when Jennifer Gilmour spills the beans on her biggest book crush.
Have a fabulous week of reading all