Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ridley Scott buys film rights to Hugh Howey's WOOL

A new era has begun in the world of book publishing - that of self-publishing success stories. Gone are the days when self-published authors automatically meant unsuccessful authors. Tremendous sales figures for the Fifty Shades trilogy have proven you don't need a publisher to become a success.

Now, it seems, Hugh Howey is the next self-publishing success story, with the film rights to his book 'Wool' being bought by none other than Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator).

WOOL has captivated readers across the globe since Hugh first released it on Amazon, and was one of the most talked about books of 2012. It has drawn comparisons to the likes of The Road, The Passage and The Hunger Games.

Hugh Howey lives in Florida. He wrote and self-published his first young adult novel, Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue in 2009.The related series that followed won rave reviews and praise from readers but it was the release of WOOL that has made Hugh Howey a self-published star. Originally a novella, the demand from readers sent him scurrying to write more tales set in the subterranean world. The resulting omnibus has been a number one bestseller in Science Fiction on Amazon and captured the attention of readers and publishers across the globe.

Wool Synopsis
The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. In the ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are given the very thing they profess to want: they are allowed outside.

Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

WOOL is out now in hardback: Wool (Wool Trilogy 1)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Dustin Hoffman Q&A at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley

There are many very cool things about living in North London - but one of my favourites is how easily I can get to one of my favourite cinemas - the Phoenix. It's a one-screen cinema that puts on arty films, foreign films, theatre recordings and plays host to film festivals. What the Phoenix knows how to do well, though, is put on a Q&A. 

With lots of celebrities from the film world only too happy to support the cinema, they have managed to pull in people in the past from the hilarious cast of League of Gentleman to Olivia Colman and Paddy Considine from Tyrannosaur and Deep Blue Sea director Terence Davies. Last Friday evening, however, the cinema celebrated one of the most distinguished guests throughout their long history - acting legend and first-time director Dustin Hoffman, who was there to talk about Quartet.

I was one of the fortunate ones who managed to get a ticket before the event sold out in record time and was inspired by Hoffman's love of cinema and respect for his cast and all the incredible people he has met and worked with throughout his life. For the man who claims to have got into acting because he failed at everything else, he has certainly proven himself a success. I went expecting to hear some brilliant anecdotes that found fame decades ago with The Graduate but was surprised and moved by his humble and emotional stories of life in showbusiness.

Check out my report from the Q&A at Filmoria and enjoy my pictures below (please link back to this post if you wish to use the images).

Quartet is out now.


Hoffman is moved by his standing ovation.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Quentin Tarantino Q&A at Yahoo! UK (I was there!)

Back in December, I was fortunate enough to win tickets to a Q&A with writing and directing legend Quentin Tarantino - and ask the man himself a question! He talked about Django Unchained (out this weekend in the UK) and his previous films, confessed to a love of rom-coms (only when on a plane!) and so much more. My question is at 2 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: Yahoo!

Win - Beautiful Creatures: Official Movie Companion


Based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the adaptation of Beautiful Creatures is due out next month. The YA tale follows teenagers Ethan and Lena, as their budding romance brings together the mortal and caster world while an age-old curse seems to doom their relationship before it has even begun.

To coincide with the launch of #penguinchats - which begins at the end of the month with the authors of the Beautiful Creatures novels - the lovely folks over at Puffin and Penguin UK have a gorgeous movie companion book on offer for fans of the book series. Beautiful Creatures: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz has all the inside information from behind the scenes of the film. Click the images below to enlarge a sneak peek.

The film stars Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, Alden Ehrenreich, Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson and is directed and adapted for the big screen by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers).

To be in with a chance of winning, simply email with the names of the authors who will be launching the first #penguinchats on Sunday 27th January. Don't forget to put "Beautiful Creatures competition" in the subject header and include the city you live in.

This competition is open to UK residents only and closes at midday GMT Sunday 27th January.

Beautiful Creatures arrives in cinemas on Wednesday 13th February.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Beautiful Creatures Authors to Launch #Penguinchats

Is falling in the love the beginning . . . or the end?
In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . .
There is a girl.
There is a curse.
In the end, there is a grave.
Ethan never even saw it coming.

Penguin are starting 2013 off with an exciting new project called Penguin Chats. As part of this project, some of Penguin and Puffin's brilliant authors will answer fan questions on Twitter. The chats themselves will be 30 minute Q&As with a Penguin author on Twitter, using the hashtag #PenguinChats and hosted by @PenguinUKBooks.

The first #Penguinchats kicks off on Sunday 27th January at 8pm with the talented writing team behind Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia (@kamigarcia) and Margaret Stohl (@mstohl).

The adaptation for Beautiful Creatures - the first of their series of novels about the doomed romance between teenagers Ethan and Lena - has been a project on which both Garcia and Stohl have been working closely. With the film due to hit cinemas next month, now is your chance to catch up with the pair... and Lena, Ethan and their respective families.

The film stars Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, Alden Ehrenreich, Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson and is directed and adapted for the big screen by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers).
“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.”
Beautiful Creatures hits UK cinemas on Wednesday 13th February. The books - Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption - are out now.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Every now and then a book comes along that is so delicious it warms you like a heated fruit pie in the middle of winter. It stays with you even when you're not reading it because the characters are so vivid and real and welcoming, they have a lingering effect. The mouthful that is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one such book. 

Written entirely in letter form, the book is set soon after the end of World War Two as one author happens to begin correspondence with a man on the isle of Guernsey and starts to learn about the hilariously named literary society to which he belongs. As their correspondence continues, Julie begins to question her new pen pal about the origins of the club. As her investigations deepen, she begins to learn about all the members and just what happened to them during the war - when they were forced to live under Nazi occupation and cut off from the rest of the country.

To tell you more of the story would not be fair as each new discovery Julie (and, in turn, the reader) makes is what makes the book such a pleasure to read. It is a touching and incredibly beautiful story, with the unique prose of each person's letters adding such an insight into their character that they leap off the pages. Readers will no doubt fall completely in love with each of them, just as Julie does and finish the book wanting to go to one of their society meetings.

5 FOBLES - a gorgeous, touching and entirely immersive delight

A film adaptation is in the works but casting issues have been delaying progress beyond that of Kate Winslet as Julie and Kenneth Branagh directing. Having read the book, I can now see why finding just the right cast for this brilliant ensemble piece is so important. Fingers crossed they do it justice! It certainly is a promising start...

Book Giveaway: Win Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick


It's been an exciting week for anyone involved in Silver Linings Playbook - with the film picking up an impressive seven Oscar nominations and something in all the major categories. The film - which follows Pat as he adjusts to everyday life after a stint in a psychiatric hospital - has also been nominated for three BAFTAs and numerous other awards. David O. Russell has received critical and popular acclaim for both his directorial efforts with the film and his adapted screenplay.

Bradley Cooper for BEST ACTOR
Jennifer Lawrence for BEST ACTRESS

David O. Russell for BEST DIRECTOR
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers for FILM EDITING

Of course, none of this would have happened were it not for the captivating and heartbreaking, yet life-affirming, debut novel from author Matthew Quick

To celebrate the success of one of 2012's best adaptations, the lovely folks over at Picador have two copies of the film tie-in edition of the book available to give away.

To be in with a chance of winning your own copy of this brilliant book, just email, using "Silver Linings Competition" as the subject line, with the actor who played Pat in the film adaptation. 

This competition closes at midnight GMT Sunday 27th January and is available to UK readers only.

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

R is a zombie. He hangs out in an abandoned airport with other zombies and, other than the occasional attack on the living so they can feast on their brains, doesn't really do much. he doesn't remember his former life, or even his own name... but he thinks it begins with an R. Along with his fellow zombies, R has no desires, no real passions or feelings - save the compulsion to eat. So when they encounter a bunch of the living and start to devour them, R is taken aback by the need not to eat but to save one of them. 

When the zombies eat brains in this dystopian future, they get a glimpse into the mind of that person. It is this 'transference' of sorts that sees R affected by a strong connection with the young man he is devouring. In a flash, he sees the world as Perry saw it and - for the first time in this new zombie 'life' of his - begins to feel, to think, to see. What he sees first and foremost is Julie - Perry's former girlfriend. As soon as he sees her cowering in the corner amongst all the bloodshed, his only compulsion is to protect her and therein begins this captivating zom-rom-com.

Warm Bodies is a darkly comic take on the zombie apocalypse genre with two incredible central leads - both damaged, both looking to the other to improve themselves. R's inner voice - conflicting and collaborating with that of Perry - is intoxicating and for a book that relies heavily on narrative rather than dialogue, this is essential. It is, rather brilliantly, his story not hers. R has the opening and it is with him that the reader first connects. Warm Bodies is about what happens when this zombie meets a girl - not the other way around.

Though the clever wit and humour work superbly here, this is not a laugh riot. Serious questions are raised about the uncertain future of the human race and how something so overpowering as this can affect people's priorities and beliefs. The characters are able or unable to forgive, thanks to the new world they find themselves in. Many simply strive to stay alive, while others question the meaning of their prolonged existence and some give up hope altogether.

On each page, there is something new and exciting to discover just as R finds himself changing the more time he spends with Julie. The brave original twist Marion has taken on this age-old apocalyptic/zombie genre is a revelation. It manages to be serious and thought-provoking but hilarious, romantic and gorgeous - with brain eating for good measure.

4.5/5 FOBLES

The film adaptation of Warm Bodies, which stars Nicholas Hoult, is out in cinemas in February. It is directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and also stars Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich.

Nigel Planer and more announced for Sam Mendes' Charlie and Chocolate Factory musical production

With Douglas Hodge set to play Willy Wonka in Sam Mendes' new stage production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it remained to be seen who would be playing the many other beloved characters from the Roald Dahl story. With the key role of Charlie himself still unannounced, it has been revealed that Nigel Planer will be playing the unstoppable Grandpa Joe.

Other cast includes Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee and Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina alongside Joe Allen, David Birch, Michelle Bishop, Mireia Mambo Bokele, Matthew Clark, Alex Clatworthy, Jennifer Davison, Luke Fetherston, Nia Fisher, Kate Graham, Clare Halse, Mark Iles, Daniel Ioannou, Kieran Jae, Jane McMurtrie, Natalie Moore-Williams, Sherrie Pennington, Damien Poole, Paul Saunders, Jack Shalloo and Jay Webb.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Summary/Plot
When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors, and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

Tickets for the production are on sale now. The World Premiere is set to be held in June 2013 with previews from 18 May 2013. 

Further information is available from the website: 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

BAFTA Nominations: The BAFTAs are adapting

It's no secret by now that I love a great adaptation - and by great, I hasten to add, I do NOT mean a carbon copy. A truly great adaptation must be faithful to the source text and keep the overall feel of it while realising what works or does not work on the big screen.

This year, there have been plenty of adaptations to choose from including classic tales like Anna Karenina and Great Expectations and more modern stories like The Lucky One and Argo. Two highlights from the past twelve months of cinema though have to be Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook - both of which have received BAFTA nods today for Best Adapted Screenplay. Many of the best performances and films of the year (according to BAFTA) were also adaptations.

Best Adapted Screenplay nominations:
  • ARGO Chris Terrio
  • BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
  • LIFE OF PI David Magee
  • LINCOLN Tony Kushner

For the full nominations list, check out Filmoria.

Claire Foy announced as Lady Macbeth opposite James McAvoy in new stage production

Credit: Johan Persson

With BAFTA winning and Golden Globe nominated James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, X-Men) cast in the lead role for the new stage production of Macbeth, it only remained to see who would be playing the rest of the cast alongside him - namely that of 'Out, damned spot! Out, I say!' Lady Macbeth. 

It has now been announced that Claire Foy (White Heat, Little Dorrit, The Promise) will play the infamous role, opposite McAvoy.

Joining them, to complete the cast, are Jamie Ballard (Macduff), Graeme Dalling (Donalbain), Lisa Gardner (Witch), Kevin Guthrie (Lennox), Richard Hansell (Ross), Forbes Masson (Banquo), Allison McKenzie (Witch), Olivia Morgan (Witch), Catherine Murray (Caithness), Callum O'Neill (Angus), Mark Quartley (Malcolm) and Hugh Ross (Duncan/Doctor).

Jamie Lloyd’s new production will be staged at Trafalgar Studios from 9 February until 27 April. This new adaptation of the dark Shakespeare tale will take Macbeth to a dystopian Scotland brutalised by war. Under a toxic fog, Macbeth begins his tormented struggle for power fuelled by ambition and paranoia.

For more information, check out

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Film vs Book Debates: Me and My Kindle

When ebooks and e-readers first arrived, I was one of the many who scorned the idea as ridiculous. Surely reading is one of the few things we can do nowadays that take our eyes away from the copious hours spent in front of a screen? Why on earth would we want to put that on a screen too? I'd like to still have the use of my eyes in my old age!

But over the last year, my opinion has started to shift. E-readers became more commonplace, ebooks dramatically more popular. The entire publishing industry has shifted. Every morning on the train I would see more and more people reading on an e-reader - whether it be a Kindle/Kobo/iPad etc...

So what made me want one for myself? What changed my mind? Well for starters, anyone who has ever commuted in the London rush hour will know the challenges of reading a book - even a light one that doesn't give you wrist-ache if you hold it one-handed too long - on a moving train. It's a balancing act worthy of joining the circus. In the few seconds it will take you to remove your hand from the hand rail, turn to the next page and return it to the rail, will the train jolt and send you flying into somebody's lap? You never can tell. Sometimes the train is so jumpy, you just have to wait until you stop at the next station before you can turn the page so you wind up reading the same final paragraph over and over again out of sheer boredom.

Then came e-readers. A device, where one tap of the finger turns the page, is immensely useful on the morning commute. It's also probably lighter than your average paperback - and massively lighter than your standard hardback - so stowing it away in your bag won't give you back ache ... or break your bag.

Santa has been good to me this year and I am now the delighted owner of a Kindle Fire. So far, in only a few weeks, I have downloaded about ten books - one purchased, the rest downloaded from the Top 100 Free list on Amazon. While I sighed at the prospect of the holidays being over this morning, I was certainly a lot perkier than most on the commute. I held on, I tapped over the pages and I had no reason to pause my reading. I managed to recapture the joy of reading in an environment where it is often more frustrating than anything else.

The world of downloads also takes readers back further than they might usually go. As has happened with music downloads, classics are getting noticed as much as new releases. I've already downloaded Great Expectations and Les Misérables to read next - two books I perhaps would not have thought to buy in a shop.

This is not my only first of late - I also downloaded my first audio book last week when a migraine had me stuck in bed in the dark for twenty-four hours. So, while I was ill, in a lot of pain and unable to sleep or move, I had someone reading The Great Gatsby to me.

Is the world of non-electronic books coming to an end? No, I don't think so. It's simply adapting to suit our ever-changing lifestyles. Ultimately, people will still have their preferences - I, for one, still plan on reading actual books when I'm at home relaxing - but anything that gets more stories to more readers is OK by me.

Did you get an e-reader over the holidays? How are you finding it...?