Category Archives: 20 Questions for Gloria
I’m delighted to announce that Twenty Questions for Gloria has been shortlisted for the 2017 Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. It’s the second time I’ve been in contention for this award – one of the bigger regional children’s and YA prizes – following Flip‘s shortlisting in 2012.
Gloria is competing in the “Simply the Book” category for novels aimed at readers aged 13 and upwards. Voting begins in the autumn, with hundreds of students at schools throughout the Coventry area taking part. I’m up against some excellent YA authors and some terrific books. Here’s the shortlist in full:
Eve Ainsworth – Crush
Martyn Bedford – Twenty Questions for Gloria
Moira Fowley-Doyle – The Accident Season
Nick Lake – Whisper to Me
Philip Reeve – Railhead
Dave Shelton – Thirteen Chairs
Jon Walter – My Name’s Not Friday
Matt Whyman – Bad Apple
The UK might be on its way out of the European Union but Twenty Questions for Gloria (and its author) are very much in love with Europe. This week sees the publication of the novel’s Spanish edition, Veinte preguntas para Gloria, by Montena, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in Madrid. This follows hot on the heels of the Italian edition, Tutta la verita su Gloria Ellis, which came out in June from De Agostini, in Novara, and S’Enfuir, the French edition, published in May by Nathan, in Paris.
Interestingly, each publisher went with a different cover design, as you can see. Meanwhile Gloria’s happy union with Europe continues with translated editions coming out soon in Germany and the Netherlands. Final score: Remain 5, Leave 0.
I’m clocking up the miles in the next week as I take Twenty Questions for Gloria on another mini-tour. On Thursday, I’ll be spending a day at Merchant Taylors’ School, in north London, where I’ll be giving talks and readings and running a creative writing workshop.
Then, on Saturday (June 18th), I’m at Birmingham Waterstones for a YA ‘Thrills and Chills’ panel event, sharing a stage with Cat Clarke (The Lost and the Found), M.A. Griffin (Lifers) and Sue Wallman (Lying About Last Summer). For details of this event, which starts at 6pm, please click on this link to the bookshop’s website.
The mini-tour ends closer to home next Monday (20th), with another school visit. This time I’ll be taking part in a curriculum enrichment day at Allerton High School, in Leeds, running two creative writing workshops as part of Ilkley Literature Festival’s schools programme.
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.
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.
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.
One 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:
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.
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.
I 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.
Here’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!
It’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.
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.
I’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.
The 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.
One of the best online platforms in the UK for children’s and teenage fiction is to be found on The Guardian‘s website, where most of the reviews are written by young people themselves – the very readers authors like me are writing for. So it’s particularly pleasing to have found this wonderful review there for Twenty Questions for Gloria.
Here’s an abridged version of it:
“Gloria’s in a police interview room with her mum and an inspector. She’s just come home from being on the run with Uman Padeem, who’s still missing. She’s there voluntarily, but they want to get to the bottom of what happened. So, with all the newfound attention from the press, she’s here, she’s missing Uman but she’s got answers. And they’re asking her twenty questions.
Martyn Bedford is an author who has many awards to his name with Flip, which I’m dying to read now. And whilst some people may find Twenty Questions for Gloria a difficult and confusing book to read, I really enjoyed it. This book has been written in a really unique and interesting way. It’s always fun to see an author’s take on storytelling, and the way of telling this tale in a format that is almost like a transcript of a police interview is something I’ve certainly never seen before.
The book feels like it should be a Sherlock Holmes style novel and I mean that in the best way possible because it has that allure and mystery, and yet still keeps it humble with its quirky characters, romance-on-the-side and it’s an amazing novel to read. You’re caught up in the mystery yourself because you don’t know if Uman still exists or not and you start wanting to know what happened to him as much as Gloria, her mum and the police do. We know Uman from anecdotes, and he’s one of these mysterious characters that we never get to know from the character themselves, just through what other characters say about them. That takes a lot to pull off in my opinion, and Martyn Bedford deserves a lot of recognition for that.”
To read the review in full or to check out the rest of The Guardian‘s children’s books site, click here.← Older posts Newer posts →