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If you caught this month’s newsletter (missed it? Catch up HERE) you’ll already know a bit about Naomi Gibson’s gripping new YA cyber thriller, Game Over Girl. In it, Lola moves to an elite boarding school following the death of her mother, and is invited to join a small group of tech-proficient teens in testing a new VR game called Better Than Life. There aren’t many rules to the game… in fact, there’s really only one: don’t recreate anything, or anyone, from real life. But Lola can’t seem to help herself, and soon the game – as well as the real world around her – starts to spiral out of control. This is a game Lola can’t win… but she can’t quit, either.
My newsletter interview focused on Game Over Girl and Naomi’s writing process, but I wanted to find out a few facts her readers might not know about her. Enter the 5 Random Questions!
Question 1: What was the book that made you want to write YA?
Slated by Terri Terry. It’s written in this gorgeous, measured way, and it’s so hooky. It was also the first book I ever got signed when I met her at NYA Lit Fest, and I blabbed something incoherent about how amazing she was.
Question 2: You have a full tank and nothing but time — where are you driving to?
The Isle of Skye. It’s beautiful and so, so quiet. We went one November and it was the perfect Winter getaway. Take me there now!
Question 3: What’s a movie or TV show you’ll watch time and time again?
Jumanji – the first new one with The Rock. (Lol.) There’s something about it. Every character has a really good arc and it really makes me laugh. Plus, you know me, the idea of being sucked into a computer game that’s trying to kill you is totally up my street.
Question 4: One non-writing goal for 2023?
We’ve been building for 2 years now, and I’m desperate to move in! I want to at least be partially moved in by the end of 2023. *Crosses everything* I’m SICK of living in a caravan!
Question 5: Which book by another author do you wish you had written?
The Binding by Bridget Collins. I love it, I love it, I love it.
Thank you, Naomi!
About Naomi Gibson
Naomi Gibson is an author based in Glasgow, Scotland. She grew up in Cheshire, where her childhood was spent with her nose in a book and her hands on a sketchpad, constantly in search of adventure and new worlds. Encouraged by her family to be creative, she developed a love for writing at a young age – something that never left her. She studied Art History at the University of Manchester. Whilst there, she met her husband, someone who continues to tell her all about the latest advancements in AI, space, and consumer technology, even when she’s not listening. Her novels are proof she does in fact listen to her husband.
If you missed my newsletter interview with Naomi, don’t forget to catch up & subscribe here. February’s newsletter goes out 3 February, and will feature an interview with Tess James-Mackey, author of Someone Is Watching You.
Doing a yearly review post has become a bit of a tradition (I first started it back in 2012 on my old Blogger site, RIP) and it’s a tradition I thought I’d continue as I launch this new site. So, what happened in 2022?
On the writing front, foreign editions of Harrow Lake and Wicked Little Deeds were released, and although I didn’t have a new book out, I wrote a lot. I finished a brand-new YA manuscript and a couple of shorter projects, and started work on 3 other full-length novels. So I’m starting 2023 in full stride, writing-wise. That feels like a good place to be.
Last year I set myself a reasonable (read: very lax) reading goal of 24 books on Goodreads for 2022. I managed to – officially – read 38 books in total. These were books I read:
(Some aren’t included – like book proofs I read which weren’t available to add on Goodreads at the time I read them.)
I intended to pick out a handful of my favourites, then realised that I actually enjoyed or even loved pretty much all of them, so consider the entire list my reading recommendations to you! If you want to check them out on Goodreads, you’ll find all the titles under my 2022 Reading Challenge.
In terms of author events, 2022 was pretty busy. I took part in panels and interviews for YA Thriller Con; organised and hosted quickfire interviews with various authors for UKYABooks’ Summer Shorts series; did an in-person panel at the No Limits Festival in Scunthorpe, and did some really fun online chats and podcasts. You can catch up on some of these if you visit my Events page.
Last year was also the year I went from what my husband referred to as my ‘Dark Annie’ hair, through an unfortunate shade of orange, to what is now an occasionally OK sort of silvery blonde. I must admit that my enthusiasm for bleach has waned throughout the year; let’s see what interesting colours 2023 brings.
I had lots of adventures last year – these were some of the highlights:
Gladstone’s Library by night – I met up with a bunch of brilliant horror/thriller authors here in this magnificent old library in Hawarden, North Wales. It wasn’t my first visit to Gladstone’s, but it always feels a bit like stepping onto the film set of a magical, historical mystery whenever I go there.
St Winefride’s Well – a shrine to St Winefride who is said to have been brought back to life 1300 years ago after being murdered for rejecting a local chieftain (who sounds very rapey tbh). Water sprang from the ground on the spot where she was murdered, and it’s claimed to have healing powers. Pilgrimages have been made to the well ever since, and you can see the abandoned crutches of healed pilgrims in the visitor centre.
This pic was taken when I visited the Great Orme Copper Mine in May. The mine is over 3500 years old, and it inspired one of the short stories I wrote last year. The place was only rediscovered in the 1980s, and there are whole networks of tunnels yet to be found and excavated.
Over the summer, I ventured to London for the first time since March 2020 (I know!) and managed to fit in a bit of axe-throwing, as you do.
I was terrible at it. Fun, though.
As per usual, autumn saw me venturing into the forest to hunt for fungi. I saw some fab fly agaric toadstools, which always feel like the Top Prize as far as fungi are concerned.
In November, I turned 40. I spent it doing fun stuff like visiting an exhibition of deadly diseases called Sick To Death, and posing for pictures like this.
All in all, not a bad year – and looking back, pretty eventful! I hope your 2022 was a good one, and that 2023 will be even better.
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