Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘videos’ category

The Jewelled Moth and The Moonstone

51w7HtA8f9LI wrote the original version of this post when The Jewelled Moth was first published, for the fab YA Yeah Yeah’s ‘Classics’ series. Since a few people have asked recently about the relationship between The Jewelled Moth and The Moonstone, I thought I’d put a few thoughts here too!

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, published in 1868, is often considered to be the first real detective novel written in English. It’s a captivating read – the story of a mysterious (perhaps cursed) diamond stolen from an English country house in strange circumstances. Crime writer Dorothy Sayers called it ‘probably the finest detective story ever written’ and TS Eliot went as far as to say that the detective genre was ‘invented’ by Wilkie Collins. It’s inspired many crime writers including PD James, and it features a lot of the elements that we expect from a classic detective tale – from the English country house setting, to its world-weary detective Sergeant Cuff, to its exciting, twisty plot.

However, whilst it might be a thrilling read, The Moonstone is also very much a product of its times. At the very start of the story, against the backdrop of the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, a British soldier steals a priceless diamond – the Moonstone – from an Indian temple. A few years later, he leaves the diamond to his niece, Miss Rachel Verinder as a gift for her eighteenth birthday. But as soon as the Moonstone arrives at her country home, Rachel, her family, and their guests all become aware of the threatening presence of a group of Indians on the trail of their long-lost jewel, who (we are told) will stop at nothing to get their sacred diamond back.

Over the course of the story, the diamond is stolen; a famous detective is called in to solve the case and return Miss Verinder’s diamond; and a whole cast of characters find themselves drawn into the mystery. Yet no one ever seems to point out the obvious: that the British soldier was the original thief, and it is in fact the Indians and not Miss Verinder who are the true owners of the Moonstone.

One of the things I love about The Moonstone is that it’s told in a range of different voices – from that of the Verinder’s old and trusted servant, Gabriel Betteredge, to evangelical busybody Miss Clack. However, the Indian characters are never allowed to relate their versions of events: they appear only through the narratives of the white British characters who encounter them. They have no names, they never speak for themselves, and we know little about them – we are only told they are mystical and exotic, as well as potentially sinister and dangerous. Spoiler alert (highlight to read!): although the Indians do eventually reclaim their diamond, and return it home  for a contemporary reader, the imperialistic overtones of the story are impossible to miss.

With The Jewelled Moth, I wanted to have a go at writing my own tribute to The Moonstone – putting a different spin on this classic story. But as well as having fun writing about my own mysterious cursed jewel, I wanted to explore what the story might be like if it was told from a different point of view.  How would it feel to have your most important and valuable possession stolen from you – and what might happen if you had the opportunity to try and get it back?

That’s exactly the position of Mei Lim in The Jewelled Moth. Mei has grown up in her family grocer’s shop in London’s Edwardian Chinatown, hearing her Chinese grandfather’s old tales of the Moonbeam Diamond – a precious gem that was once the pride of the temple in the village in China where he grew up. The diamond brought the Lim family prosperity and luck, until it was stolen by a visitor to their village – a treacherous British gentleman. Years later, her family believe the diamond is long gone, but when Mei spots a picture of an elegant young society girl wearing it in a London newspaper, she knows she must seize this chance to try and return it to its rightful home.

Even though it’s a very different story, which explores some very different elements of history, I had a lot of fun paying tribute to The Moonstone in The Jewelled Moth. If you’re a fan of classic detective fiction, you might spot one or two of those references and hints (and for those who have asked whether new store manager Mr Betteredge is named after Gabriel Betteredge – he absolutely is!) I’ve joked that the book could be described as ‘The Moonstone for kids’ but as well as being an exciting detective tale that I hope will keep readers turning the pages, it’s also an attempt to tell a different kind of detective story – and to hear from some of the voices that are so often missing from Victorian and Edwardian literature.

Read more about The Jewelled Moth and the historical inspirations for the book.

Save

New Youtube channel!

This weekend, I took the plunge and started up a Youtube channel!

Starting a channel is something I’ve been thinking about for a little while. Recently, I made this video for my US publisher Kane Miller to show to their sales consultants, and really enjoyed it – even just filming quickly on my phone, using basic editing software (and my very basic skills!) it was such a fun creative project.

I love watching Youtube videos about books by great booktubers like booksandquills, lucythereader, acaseforbooks, George Lester, ShinraAlpha and more. I’ve also been really impressed and excited to see the massive impact of Zoella’s Book Club with WH Smith, which has created so much buzz around teen books.

What’s more, whilst obviously I love any excuse to talk about children’s books, at the moment, it seems especially important to be shouting about them. It’s so sad to see the brilliant Guardian Children’s Books site closing its doors; as well as that some great children’s book reviewers have recently been cut from newspapers like the Telegraph. In spite of the fact that children’s books make up a big part of the overall books market, coverage in the mainstream media tends to be relatively limited (which is exactly why we started up Down the Rabbit Hole in the first place) and with these kinds of changes underway, there could be even less space to talk about children’s books in the future. With this in mind, it seems more important than ever to use all the platforms available to make as much noise as we can about children’s books.

Here’s my first attempt at a video – a little introduction, plus a book haul:

It’s been wonderful to see so many lovely responses to my first effort at Youtube already! Thanks so much to everyone who has been kind enough to subscribe, like, share, or leave a comment! I’m looking forward to making some more vlogs soon. Check out my channel and subscribe here.

Save

Save

Save

Born in the USA!

CmsptJZW8AAUwEJ

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled (or should I say Jeweled?) Moth have now been published in the USA by Kane Miller Books!

Louise and I celebrated the books going Stateside with a trip to Shakeshack for peanut butter and banana frozen custard, fries and peach lemonade. YUM.

I’m so excited that the books are now available in the US, and so pleased to be published by Kane Miller. Take a look at this little video I made for them to introduce their sales consultants to the books:

Happy World Book Day!

_81113686_bookfest

I had such a lot of fun celebrating World Book Day this week! I’m currently working on the Blue Peter Book Awards, which Booktrust manage, and we announced the winner’s of this years awards on the show on World Book Day. This year, Best Story was awarded to the fab The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham, and Best Book With Facts went to The Side-Splitting Book of Silly Stuff by Andy Seed and Scott Garrett. Find out more about the Awards.

One of the nicest things about the Blue Peter Book Awards is that the overall winners are voted for by over 200 children in schools around the UK, and some of them were in the studio to meet the winners. Malorie Blackman was also on the show to present the winners with their awards, and was surprised by Blue Peter’s highest accolade  – the gold Blue Peter badge!

blue-peter-book-award-winners-malorie-blackman

Meanwhile, back in London, I was delighted to be taking part in the World Book Day TeenFest. This event for teen readers took place on 4&5 March, and included a whole range of online activity, including hangouts, interviews, blogposts, playlists and more.

I had the chance to interview the brilliant young adult author Non Pratt for TeenFest. Here we are, trying to understand out how Google Hangout works, revealing the amazing cover for Non’s new book Remix (which publishes on the same day as The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow!) and laughing quite a lot.

The next night I was back to interview the lovely Holly Smale, author of the bestselling Geek Girl series. Here’s our Google Hangout, in which I ask Holly questions from participants including the likes of ‘What is your favourite pudding?’ and ‘Who’s your favourite Gossip Girl character?’

I enjoyed the Geek Girl glasses we wore for the video so much that I found myself wearing them the next day too… (Well, World Book Day is all about dressing up, right..?)

World Book Day TeenFest is over now, but you can still find lots more great content on the WBD Teen Fest website: http://www.wbdteenfest.com