In Leeds, united

I’ll be sharing a stage in Leeds tomorrow (Sun 5th) with colleagues and students from Leeds Trinity University as we join forces to put on a showcase of our creative writing.Leeds Trinity logo No fewer than thirteen of us will be reading at the event – five students from the current Creative Writing MA cohort (Lucy Brighton, Sophie Joelle, Lewis King, Rebecca Leeming and Liz Mistry), five recent graduates (Lynn Bauman-Milner, Caroline Bond, Gill Lambert, Maria Stephenson and Hannah Stone) and the MA’s three tutors (me, Amina Alyal and Oz Hardwick).

big-bookend1-e1398617085807The readings will be mix of prose and poetry – I’ll be reading my latest short story, “The Wrong Coat”, which is included in the newly launched 2016 Leeds Trinity anthology Journeys: A Space for Words, published in May by Indigo Dreams Publishing. The event will be a celebration of the writing to have emerged from the course, which was only established in 2013 but has already seen a number of its students enjoy publication success for their poetry and short-story collections and novels.

Tomorrow’s event is part of the 2016 Leeds Big Bookend Festival: “Crossing City Limits”, and is taking place at 3.30pm at the Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, LS2 7DY (just behind the bus station.) Admission is free. For the full Big Bookend programme please follow this link to the festival website.

New story!

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest short story has been published this week in an anthology of prose and poetry by new and established writers. The story, “The Wrong Coat” – which evolved
LTU journeys coverfrom a creative-writing exercise – tells the tale of a man troubled by unbidden memories after he pulls on someone else’s coat when leaving a party. It has been included in Journeys: a Space for Words, the second annual anthology from Leeds Trinity University tutors, students and guest contributors. The book, edited by two of LTU’s Creative Writing MA students, Stephanie Buick and Lucy Brighton, and English lecturer and poet Oz Hardwick, has been released by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
It is available directly from the publisher via this link or from Amazon via this link.

From Hay to Horsforth

Fresh back from a long round-trip to the Hay Festival, I’m gearing up for my next gig (much closer to home) in Horsforth.

The session at the Starlight Stage, in Hay, on Saturday morning was hugely enjoyable – a panel discussion on young adult fiction, expertlyHay event pic chaired by the writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn, in which I shared a platform with the novelists Eve Ainsworth, Juno Dawson and Patrice Lawrence. There were around 170 in the audience and we were busy in the book-signing tent afterwards, before being whisked to the Green Room for lunch, where we rubbed shoulders with none other than . . . Benedict Cumberbatch!

My next appearance may not be as well-attended, or star-studded, but I’m very much looking forward to headlining at Wordspace, at The Sandbar, Horsforth, on Wednesday – the monthly open-mic event run by Leeds Trinity University, where I teach creative writing. In amongst the poetry and prose performances from colleagues, students and members of the pubic, I’ll be reading extracts from my latest YA novel, Twenty Questions for Gloria. No doubt I’ll bump into Martin Freeman in the gents.

Gloria in Canada

The Canadian edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria has hit the ground running with two great, high-profile reviews. Published last month by Doubleday, in Toronto – the same Penguin/Random House imprint as my two previous YA books – the novel has already found favour with critics at CM Magazine, one of Canada’s more prestigious literary journals, and the influential Joyous Reads book blog.

GLORIA UK final cover 1
Here are a couple of pull-out quotes:

“Martyn Bedford’s first young adult novel, Flip, won multiple awards in Britain and Twenty Questions for Gloria seems destined to do the same. Bedford writes beautifully.”
– CM Magazine

Twenty Questions for Gloria throws you into a shroud of secrets and mysteries right from the get-go . . . this book had me in its trance.”

To read the reviews in full please click on these links: CM Magazine, Joyous Reads.

Turn to page 69

With the American edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria being published earlier this month, I’ve been busy touring the U.S. to promote it . . . virtually, of course. In real life, I’ve been sitting at my computer screen in the north of England, dropping in on book blogs and websites as a guest poster.

Gloria new US coverOne of the more unusual invitations came from Marshal Zeringue of the most excellent site, Campaign for the American Reader – an independent initiative to encourage more readers to read more books. Among their regular features is The Page 69 Test, in which authors are asked to post the text from p69 of their latest novel along with a commentary to explain how it fits into the rest of the story. The founder of the idea was Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian academic who proposed the theory that, when deciding whether to buy a book, you should test the water by reading p69. If you like that page, chances are you’ll like the whole book.

So below is the p69 post I wrote for Campaign for the American Reader – and here’s a link to the site if you’d like to check it out.

Page 69 Test: Twenty Questions for Gloria

My heart sank when I flipped to page 69 of the American edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria and discovered that it falls at the end of a chapter and contains less than half a page of text. Was there a rule about this – like a minimum-height limit for kids standing in line for a rollercoaster ride? Had my page 69 failed the test already, not on grounds of quality but because it just wasn’t tall enough?

Then I read what was there and my heart rose again. If I’d been allowed to choose any extract to encapsulate what the novel is about, I couldn’t have picked a better one. So, here it is:

D.I. Ryan:
Then he disappears for three days. And, when he returns, he backs off, gives you space. Lets you make all the running. Then he’s flirting with you again. Being interested in you, hanging out with you – reeling you back in. Only, he’s so good at it you don’t even realise.

I don’t care what you think, he didn’t trick me or manipulate me. It just wasn’t like that.

D.I. Ryan:
Okay, Gloria – tell me. What was it like?

As you’ll see, this scene is laid out like a script. That’s because this is a transcript of a police interview, in which Detective Inspector Katharine Ryan is questioning the heroine – Gloria Jade Ellis – about the fifteen days when she was on the run with the mysterious new boy at her school. Gloria has turned up but the boy, Uman Padeem, is still missing and the police have to find out what happened.

Gloria new US coverI should say that only a handful of chapters are in script form, as the interview unfolds. In between, we have the back story of how Gloria and Uman became such close friends, why they disappeared together without telling anyone, and what took place during the time they were missing.

The police, and Gloria’s parents, are convinced that she was, if not abducted by Uman, then lured away under a spell of infatuation … and that something bad happened to her while she was with him. In the scene which ends on page 69, D.I. Ryan is asking about the early days of their friendship, when Uman initially came on strong to Gloria, only to back away before being friendly again. Gloria was being groomed, the police believe.

She insists she wasn’t – they’ve got Uman all wrong, they’ve got the relationship wrong, too. According to Gloria, she chose to run off with him because he offered her the recklessness and adventure she craved in her life. She wasn’t his victim, she was his partner in crime. The question for the police, and the reader, to figure out is whether Gloria’s telling the truth. And why only one of them made it back.

Italian job

GLORIA - Italian coverHere’s a sneak preview of the proposed cover for the Italian edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria, which is being published later in the year by De Agostini.

The title is “The whole truth about Gloria Ellis” and the strapline roughly translates as: “Two of us left that night. Only one returned.” I love the cover image. I just wish I had enough hair left to do that!

Star-spangled Gloria

Gloria new US coverIt’s publication day for Twenty Questions for Gloria in the United States! Two months after my new YA novel came out in the UK, the American edition – published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Penguin-Random House in New York – has hit the bookshops, virtual or otherwise, on the other side of the Atlantic.

To mark the occasion, here are a couple of quotes from the most recent U.S. reviews:

“Taut and mysterious…Bedford’s skilful writing and unusual format will draw in teens who identify with the urge to cast off the mundane and find their place in the world.” – Booklist.

“Dropping clues with absolute control over the novel’s trajectory, Bedford builds tension from the initial interview to the surprising final scene.” – The Horn Book.

Hay day for Gloria

It’s taken twenty years but I’ve finally made it on to the programme for one of the big three UK literary festivals. I’ve appeared at plenty of the small, medium and large festivals but the mighty triumvirate – Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Hay – have always eluded me . . . until now! So, I am delighted to announce that I’ll be appearing at this year’s Hay Festival to promote my new young-adult novel, Twenty Questions for Gloria.

GLORIA UK final cover 1I’ll be sharing a stage with three other YA authors – Juno Dawson (Mind Your Head), Eve Ainsworth (Crush) and Patrice Lawrence (Orange Boy) – as part of Hay’s Haydays programme for families, children and teenagers. I saw Juno (then James) at last year’s Ilkley Literature Festival and am very much looking forward to being on the panel with her and Patrice and to renewing my acquaintance with Eve, with whom I share an agent (Stephanie Thwaites, at Curtis Brown) and who I met for the first time just last week at a get-together with other authors in London.

Haydays is billing our event as an opportunity to “meet the authors of four of the most talked about YA books . . . and hear how their books explore the complex and high-octane dramas of adolescence – including aspects of love, hate and psychological pressure”. We’ll be on the Starlight Stage at 11.30am on Saturday May 28th and tickets are priced £5.00.

We’re in exalted company – among the other authors appearing at Haydays are Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Julia Donaldson, Patrick Ness, Malorie Blackman, Frances Hardinge, Francesca Simon, Cressida Cowell, Nick Sharratt, Melvin Burgess and the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. Haydays runs from May 25th to June 6th.

Click here for full details of the Hay and Haydays programmes.

Never say never

When your new book comes out you tend to forget your old ones. (It’s the same with your children, of course.) So, having been caught up in the promotional whirl of Twenty Questions for Gloria in recent weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of my previous YA novel, Never Ending, which recently celebrated its second birthday. By this stage, the reviews have usually long-since dried up and the only online references are links to sites where you can buy remaindered copies for 29p, or ‘Did you mean The Neverending Story?’

How lovely, then, to stumble upon the following review of Never Ending on an American blog. All the more so because the blog – Never Giving Up, Never Giving In – declares itself ‘dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness’. Dealing accurately and appropriately with Shiv’s mental-health issues was one of the main challenges in writing this novel, so I’m thankful (and relieved) that the reviewer endorses this aspect of her characterization.

Anyway, here’s an abridged version of the review:

never-ending-us-196x294Never Ending, by Martyn Bedford, explores concepts such as grief, trauma, family dysfunction and courage. In a nutshell, the main character, Shiv, is sent to an inpatient treatment facility to confront the death of her younger brother and the role that she played in the incident which killed him. I don’t want to give away too much about the actual plot of the book, especially since I think that you should read it yourself, but I want to talk about the themes because I think there is a lot that can be learned from Shiv’s experiences throughout the story.

Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a difficult task, especially when the sufferer feels as though they are to blame for the trauma. For me, this story really allowed me to take a closer look at the impact that trauma can have on the thought processes of an individual. I really liked how this book portrays the recovery process as being raw, painful, and incredibly difficult. The reader really gets to see the inside of Shiv’s mind and understand what she is feeling and thinking. In my experience not many books are able to do this accurately so I think that readers could learn a lot from this.

More specifically, if you have experienced a trauma and want your friends and/or family to understand more about what you’re going through, perhaps reading this book could help them understand just how difficult it can be to overcome PTSD. Alternatively, if you have a friend or family member who has been struggling through the recovery process, perhaps reading this book might give you some insights into how you can be a supportive person for them or even just give you a better idea of what they might be going through.

I really enjoyed this book and I felt connected to Shiv in a way that I don’t often connect with fictional characters. If you’re an avid reader looking for a new book or someone who is interested in learning more about trauma, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy.”

To read the review in full or to visit the excellent Never Giving Up, Never Giving In site, please click on this link.

Allez Gloria!

GLORIA French coverThe French edition of Twenty Questions for Gloria isn’t published until May but here’s a sneak preview of the book’s rather striking cover, with thanks to the design team at the Paris-based publisher Nathan. (The title, S’Enfuir, means ‘flee’, apparently.) I am grateful to Google Translate for the following translation of the jacket blurb:

“Gloria leads a teenager normal life of 15 years. And she is bored. Until a mysterious boy burst into his classroom: Uman is funny, smart, disarmingly insurance. It takes what it wants without attaching any importance to what others think. It’s all Gloria would be. It is the promise to live fully, to vibrate, to love. So when he asked him to leave, to camp in the forest, to choose their destination toss … Gloria ran away with it without regret and without warning.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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