Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog Tour: Kate Harrison

Orion have launched their Indigo imprint of YA titles and one of the first ones is Soul Beach by Kate Harrison. I have been drooling over this one since I first heard about it and it's as good as I'd hoped.

As part of the Soul Beach tour, Kate Harrison has written a guest post on crime fiction - a topic dear to my heart.

First, here's the blurb for the first book in the Soul Beach trilogy, parts 2 and three are scheduled for July 2012 and 2013 respectively.

When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love ...But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centred around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.

Secondly, here's the trailer:

and third, there is an extract (and more) on the Soul Beach website.


The moody beachfront cover of Soul Beach suggests dark plots and extreme danger.

But when I was writing my first thriller, my influences were a little less scary than the image suggests. Without realising it at the time, I was following in the footsteps of Enid Blyton. Or the giant paw prints of Scooby Doo...

Because in Soul Beach, the young aren’t just the victims – they fight back.

Children – young girls in particular – appear all the time in crime fiction, meeting more than their fair share of grisly ends. It’s easy to see why they’re tempting for a novelist: an attack on innocence is shocking and suggests genuine evil. And in this generation, more than ever before, children are protected and monitored, constantly made aware of stranger danger. When adult protection fails, it’s everyone’s worst nightmare.

In contrast, the ranks of the investigators are dominated by detectives wrinklier than a Sharpei dog. That’s why when I had the idea for Soul Beach, I wanted my teenage heroine to take action, rather than be a passive victim. And I’ve realised I can trace that desire back to my own childhood reading and viewing.

When I was growing up in the seventies and eighties, it felt different: we really could disappear for hours without our parents panicking. And that was the case in books, too. Enid Blyton’s rather stuffy heroes spent their free time uncovering derring-do as Secret Sevens or Famous Fives. Scooby and his teen chums specialised in uncovering supernatural goings on that always turned out to be smoke and mirrors. I was never a big Nancy Drew fan, but she was a player, too. Back then, kids got their hands dirty.

In Soul Beach, my own hands are far from clean when it comes to killing off the young. Everyone on my paradise shore is young, beautiful – and dead. But my earthbound heroine, 16-year-old Alice, takes control of their fates and her own.

Making this happen wasn’t easy. Most teenagers complain about the restrictions placed upon them– and I knew that Alice’s parents, devastated by the murder of her elder sister, would be so anxious that they wouldn’t let her out of their sight. So how could I give her an active role in solving Meggie’s murder? Plenty of authors kill off awkward parents, or send them abroad, but that seemed too easy to me.

My solution tapped into another thing parents often fear – the internet. Alice seems safe in her bedroom – but with every click, she’s putting herself in danger. The online world draws her in, and it’s unclear if anyone is controlling her. Yet the internet also offers her answers, as she investigates why people end up on the Beach and why her sister lost her life.

Thriller or investigative elements in YA books seem to be on the increase.... and with that, there’s less passivity in our heroes and heroines. From the sleuthing efforts of Christopher in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, to Todd’s determination to find out what lies beyond Prentisstown in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, the young are determined to find out the reality beyond the world adults try to show them.

OK, it’s a darker world than Blyton’s. But as Alice faces her fears to find out who killed her sister, I think Scooby’s tail would be wagging furiously in support.

Many thanks to Kate and Indigo for arranging this.

You can read about all Indigo's titles on their website.

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