2016 Updates

Oh gosh, over a year since my last post?! *Hangs head in shame*. To be fair, I do post more frequently over at my fashion blog and am pretty good at keeping my social accounts updated, so follow those for for daily ramblings (Twitter/Instagram).  But I thought it was about time I updated you all on writing news, since.. there is some!

– NEW AGENT! Say hello to the gorgeous Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell. We’ve been working together for a couple of months now, but I feel like I’ve known her for much longer. She’s super smart editorially and agently (yes, it’s a word), so if you’re getting ready to query make sure she’s on your list. We’ve just gone on submission for my new book, so all our fingers and toes are crossed that it finds a home! And speaking of which…

– NEW BOOK! I’m super excited about this one, guys! Girls of Paper and Fire is a YA oriental-inspired fantasy with a lesbian romance at its core. There are also demons and concubines and a hidden palace and assassins and battles in the sky, and did I mention lesbian lovers? I really hope I get to share this story with you all. It’s the first book of a planned trilogy, so although I’m mildly terrified at having to write a sequel that matches up to – and hopefully betters – book 1, I am very happy I get to stay in this world and with these characters for a while longer yet. Here’s more of what to expect…

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan collage

– NEW VERSIONS OF OLD BOOKS! This month there are two German editions of The Memory Keepers being released – an audiobook from Rubikon Audioverlag and a gorgeous hardcover. Sadly I don’t speak/read German to understand the translation, but I can say it sounds absolutely *amazing*, and I really hope the lovely German readers enjoy. This is my first ever translation so it feels like such a privilege. And how beautiful is that cover!

Alba & Seven by Natasha Ngan

So lots of exciting things to start the year with, and I’m super excited to see what more 2016 will bring (especially whether I’ll ever manage to update this blog regularly)! Wishing you all a lovely year sweethearts. Go get ’em! x

Publication Day Squee!

Natasha Ngan books

An extra big squee today because it’s publication day number 2! I didn’t ever expect there to be a number 1, let alone a second, and I am beyond excited and happy and grateful and overwhelmed that as of today there are two of my books out in the world. I’ll come back later with more thoughts on not being a debut author anymore (scary! I can’t make any excuses now!), but for now I just want to say a big thank you to my wonderful publishers Hot Key and super-agent Nicola Barr for making this – no biggy, just, you know, my lifelong dream, now X2 – happen.

You can find THE MEMORY KEEPERS in bookstores and online at the usual places. It’s only £5.50 on Amazon (£3.50 for Kindle!) which I hope you agree are bargain prices considering the amount of work and love that went into it. So please do buy a copy if you can, or if not then just letting anyone you think might be interested know about it is absolutely wonderful! As Tesco say, Every Little Helps. It’s especially true of books. With each book sale, my dream of making writing books a successful living is getting one step closer.

Thank you!! x

The Memory Keepers Extract

It’s less than a month till publication and I am getting EXCITED! Eeek! Crazy to think that soon I won’t be a debut author anymore. In a way that’s kind of scary – a second book needs to at least live up to, and hopefully surpass, the first. But it’s also cool because hey, that’ll be two books of mine out in the world  for readers to discover, and double the chances they’ll find something to love in my words.

To tide you over until next month, here’s an extract of the first few chapters of TMK. Let me know what you think! I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed you enjoy this one. I feel very close to it. Following Seven and Alba on their journey was a privilege, and even though it’s been a long time since I wrote the first draft I still get tingles when I think of all the things they’ve been through. Here’s how their adventure began …

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Authors on Writing and Reading Interview Series: Kendra Leighton

This week’s interview is with the lovely Kendra, whose debut ghostly romance YA novel Glimpse I finished reading recently and thoroughly enjoyed! It’s a refreshingly differently story based on the famous poem many of us have come across in our school studies – The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. I love how Kendra has reworked this tale and brought it into a modern setting. It makes for one very unusual love story! Read on to find out more about Glimpse …



Glimpse - Kendra Leighton

1. Describe your book in one sentence.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ classic poem ‘The Highwayman’, Glimpse is a ghost story, a love story, and a story of a girl fighting for her future by confronting her terrible past.

2. How did the initial idea come about?

I wanted to write a passionate love story with paranormal elements, as that’s the kind of book I love reading. Whilst thinking of ideas, ’The Highwayman’ poem popped into my head—it’s already so perfect for what I wanted to write. My initial idea was to write a retelling of the poem, but when my imagination cranked into gear I came up with a new story, using ’The Highwayman’ as a springboard.

3. Plotter or pantser?

Plotter. I started as a pantster, but then had to rewrite everything countless times to get my plot and character arcs right, and it ended up being a lot more work. I’m still not a full-on plotter — I don’t usually plan down to individual chapters — but I always know the overall plot and how and when my characters need to change.

4. What was the hardest scene to write?

I’m going to be vague to avoid spoilers, but there’s a scene in Glimpse where the main character, Liz, learns something major that changes the whole story. Getting that information across in the best way possible took me quite a few tries, as well as writing the gamut of emotions that Liz then goes through.

5. What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?

I’ve been amazed by how lovely everyone in the book world is, from fellow authors to bloggers to general readers. I didn’t join Twitter or any author groups until after Glimpse sold, and I wish I had sooner!

6. Favourite line from your book?

This is so hard without spoilers! Here’s a couple of lines from near the start of the book, when Liz is surveying her new home:

[The Highwayman Inn] was no princess castle. This was a standing stone, a blot of rough-hewn severity. If I was going to re-start my life, it could have been somewhere prettier, somewhere more…normal.

7. If you could talk to one writer to get advice and insight, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’d love a natter with Margaret Atwood. She writes across so many genres with such skill. Her stories always have multiple layers and meanings, and are so very unique.

8. Three words you couldn’t live without …

I checked my word statistics, and my three most used words in Glimpse are ’the’, ‘I’ and ‘my’, though that’s not very enlightening! Three more interesting words I couldn’t have written the book without would be ‘highwayman’, ‘glimpse’ and ’touch’.
Currently, I have a bit of an obsession with the word ‘procure’ — no idea why!

9. Give us a sneak peek at one of your ideas for a future book.

I’d love to write more books based on classic poems. At the moment, I’m playing with an idea for ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. We’ll see what happens!

10. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?

You can’t edit a blank page.

Poll: Do you Write in Chronological or Non-Chronological Order?

A question that’s been on my mind today as I start work on a new novel (I know! Exciting! More on this later :)) – who writes their novels in chronological order? As with all things writing, there’s no right or wrong way, but I’m interested to know how many people prefer following their stories through from beginning to end, and  those who jump around from scene to scene.

For me, I always write chronologically. It’s important to take that journey with my main character. Especially when it comes to first person, which all my work  since my first two novels has been. I need to be right there with my protagonist, every moment, every step of the way, experiencing how they feel when they feel it – and as closely as they feel it – so their later actions and emotions are a direct result of what has happened previously. I’m envious of writers who achieve this even when hopping between scenes. Tell me your secrets! If I even skip a single scene I find I start feeling lost and unconnected with my character.

Of course I do sometimes tease myself by writing little tidbits of scenes to come, but these usually tend to just be glimpses or snatches of conversation that I’ll later expand on and edit to work into the novel. A few chapters in both The Elites and The Memory Keepers were done this way. And when I’m still in the research and ‘getting into the mood’ stage of writing, before I’ve started properly on the first draft, I’ll write scenes from all over the place. It definitely helps ground me in the new fictional world I’ll be spending the next few months in, and gets me excited to begin!

How do you write? Let me know in the poll below!

YALC Recap

YALC author signings

Last weekend I was at the UK’s first YA literature convention, an event organised by the lovely people at Booktrust and YA queen Malorie Blackman, and it turned out to be the maddest, most fun experience of my author life so far. It was just the best. There were tonnes of wonderful bookish people, and the atmosphere was practically fizzing with excitement. Loads of people turned out for the book stalls, author workshops, panel discussions and signings – as well as all the accompanying London Film and Comic Con craziness that was also going on at Earl’s Court over the weekend.

Exciting things that happened:

YALCYALC Art of Blogging wokshop

I did a workshop on blogging with author Holly Bourne, booktuber Sanne Vliegenthart and Macmillan’s marketing manager Kat McKenna.

YALC London Film and Comic ConHere I am obviously saying something very interesting and important here *cough*

Natasha Ngan book signingNatasha NganI did a two-hour book signing, and people actually came! (P.S. How awesome is author Lucy Saxon’s amazing Captain America costume?)

Author book signingLook how excited fellow writer and lovely blogger Marieke is to meet me! Haha 😉  If you look closely you’ll spot a copy of The Memory Keepers on the table. Hot Key were able to get a few advance copies there, and they completely sold out! Yay! I’m even more excited now for the official release date in September.

YALC cupcakes

Ooh, literary cupcakes!

Iron ThroneI got to sit on the world’s most uncomfortable throne. It was such a shame I haven’t got round to reading or watching Game of Thrones yet, because half the cast was at Comic Con, and as we shared the same chill out room as them there was much celebrity spotting to be done. I got rather excited about seeing John Hurt and Anthony Head there, and had a little fangirl over the wonderful Mark Gatiss (Mycroft in Sherlock).

YALC authorsYALC authors

I met lots of amazing authors who I’d only previously known on Twitter and had long admired, including Frances Hardinge, Matt HaigKim Curran and Rainbow Rowell. Everyone was so nice and made me feel like one of the gang, even if I do look at this photo of me squidged in with YA royalty and think what is my life. The same goes for all the wonderful book bloggers I got to meet, such as Charli and Lucy. I can’t get over how talented they are at such young ages to run such successful, interesting blogs, and I’m forever grateful to them for the support they’ve given me since debuting with The Elites last year.

All in all I had the best time at YALC, and can’t wait to hopefully do it all again next year! A huge thanks to Malorie and the Booktrust team for organising it all. The event was such a success, and just goes to show that teenagers do read – and can get damn excited about it all too!

Authors on Writing and Reading Interview Series: Philip Reeve

Oops, apologies I’ve not been consistent with posting these interviews each Monday! Just when you think life has calmed down a bit, it all gets crazy again. But I’m super excited to share today’s post with you – and trust me, it’s worth the wait. It’s not every day an author like me gets to welcome one of the UK’s biggest children’s and YA writing stars … but today is one of those days! Because here to share his writing and reading insights with us is the wonderful Philip Reeve.

I’ve been a fan of Philip’s writing ever since picking up Mortal Engines in my local charity bookshop. I bought it on a whim based on the gorgeous illustrated cover and took it away on holiday with me. After pretty much devouring it in a day, I went out and bought the next two in the series – and let’s not even go into how expensive books are in Malaysia! – and have been hooked on everything he writes since. It’s been a real privilege hearing about Philip’s own writing and reading habits, especially as he’s gone into such detail in each question. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about them as much as I have!



Philip Reeve Goblin Quest cover


1. Describe your book in one sentence.

Goblin Quest is set in a fantasy world with obvious echoes of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, only the goblins get to be the heroes for a change, instead of just faceless minions of evil!

2. How did the initial idea come about?

I read The Lord of the Rings to my son a few years ago. It reminded me how much I loved Tolkien’s writing, and the world he created, but also how much I dislike the black-and-whiteness of it – the way all the orcs are irredeemably bad. Well, I don’t dislike it that much – I find it easy enough to ignore – but I wondered what it would be like if they were sympathetic characters too. So I set out to write something that would be a) a gentle parody of Tolkien, b) an homage to him and c) a bedtime story I could read to my son, with plenty of action and humour and poo. That turned into a book called Goblins. I thought it was just a one-off, but the publisher (Scholastic) asked for a second (Goblins vs Dwarves), and I thought that turned out pretty well – I think it’s better than the first book – so I went on and wrote a third.

3. Plotter or pantser?

Pantser for sure, I never plot anything out in advance. I usually have an opening image in mind, and a couple of ideas for things that might happen further down the line, and then I just start writing and see where it goes. Usually when I’m about two thirds of the way through the first draft, I start to understand what it’s about and what the ending will be. Sometimes I get an idea for a whole story, but that’s always a disaster, I never bother finishing those. Writing is boring if you know what’s going to happen next.

4. What was the hardest scene to write?

Goblin Quest was a surprisingly easy book to write. I know the world quite well after the first two books, and most of the characters are fairly familiar, too, so I just had to think up some new situations to drop them into. The most difficult scenes are always the ones where there are loads of characters running around and lots of things going on at the same time – it’s like keeping different plates spinning, you have to be careful not to forget anybody!  But some things you would expect to be hard – killing off beloved characters, for instance – is actually easy, those scenes are quite intense and seem to flow fairly well. The quiet scenes, the happy moments, those are more difficult – it’s easy to write about people having a horrible time, but keeping the pace right when everyone is content and nothing much is happening is much harder. I really admire people who can write well about happiness and everyday things.

5. What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?

Getting published in the first place, I guess!  I wasn’t really expecting my first book, Mortal Engines, to be published, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be a success, so that was an amazing period. And recently, working with Sarah McIntyre on books like Oliver and the Seawigs, has been like starting all over again. I find myself on stage with her at festivals, wearing costumes, playing the ukelele (very badly), and I think ‘I used to write quite serious novels – how did this happen?’ But it’s all good, I’m enjoying the performance side of things, and I think that (along with Goblins) it’s freed me from my past to some extent.  I think it’s essential to take a new direction from time to time.

6. Favourite line from your book?


7. If you could talk to one writer to get advice and insight, dead or alive, who would it be?

Well, the great thing about writers is that you don’t have to talk to them! Living or dead, you can just read their books, and learn from that way. I think when writers dish out writing tips it can often be quite counter-productive. You’re much better off just reading their stuff, and puzzling out for yourself how they handle certain problems.

8. Three words you couldn’t live without …

There are words I overuse terribly. ‘Dark’, ‘Vast’ and ‘Suddenly’ seem to crop up a lot! I usually do a search for them, and a few other offenders, when the MS is finished, and lop out as many instances as I can.

9. Give us a sneak peek at one of your ideas for a future book.

I try not to talk about future books, partly because it feels like bad luck to talk about them before they’re written, and partly because my ideas may change anyway: I’m forever scrapping things. I’m working at the moment on a new novel which I hope will appeal to Mortal Engines fans, although it’s set in a very different world.

10. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?

That hoary old piece of Hollywood wisdom: ‘If the second act isn’t working, change the first act.’


1. When and where is your favourite time and place to read?

I read at coffee break in the morning, lunchtime, and teatime. I’m a creature of habit! Sometimes for a bit before bed, too. I go through phases when I don’t read any fiction – when I’m working on my own stuff it can be quite hard to concentrate on someone else’s.

2. What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which is very, very good so far. I was sort of underwhelmed by her earlier books (though everyone says The Secret History is wonderful, so I must give it another go), but I’m enjoying this one immensely, and she can certainly write. And I’ve been reading online some very fine science fiction stories by Bee Sriduangkaew, who creates these surreal visions of far future worlds – I’m not sure I fully understand her stories, but the images linger, like strange dreams. You can find links to some of them on her website: http://beekian.wordpress.com/

3. You have a book hangover! How do you cure it?

I’m not sure what that means! There are times when I don’t really want to read, but it always passes. And there are times when I get to the end of a book I really enjoy and nothing else quite seems to hit the spot in the same way, so sometimes, after a really good novel, I have to switch to non-fiction for a bit. (NN – That’s a book hangover, Philip!)

4. If you could date any fictional character, who would it be?

I have no idea! I never got the hang of dating in real life…

5. Favourite line from a book?

‘Later, Powers often thought of Whitby, and the strange grooves the biologist had cut, apparently at random, all over the floor of the empty swimming pool.’ That’s the opening line of a JG Ballard story called The Voices of Time. It’s intriguing, absurd, beautiful, and utterly distinctive.

6. Paper or ebooks?

It doesn’t make very much difference to me when I’m actually reading, but if I like a book I tend to want a nice paper copy sitting on my bookshelf. I guess that’s a very Twentieth Century thing!

7. As a child, who was your fictional hero/heroine?

I think my heroes were the writers and illustrators rather than their characters. I would identify with the characters, but from a very early age I was always aware that somebody was making up these stories, and they were the people I wanted to be! My heroes were Tolkein and Rosemary Sutcliff, Ronald Searle and Goscinny & Uderzo.

8. Which is the most-read book on your shelves?

I have a few books which I’ve owned since childhood, like the Searle and Willans Molesworth books, The Lord of the Rings, and The Eagle of the Ninth, and those have been read many times. The most read grown-up books I own are probably Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels, which are endlessly rereadable – I did a blog post about them a while back: http://the-solitary-bee.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/godfather-of-sail.html

9. Describe what reading means to you in one word.

‘Escape’. I think that’s the why most people read; to be lifted out of humdrum reality for a while. Literary types tend to get a bit sniffy about that, but who cares what they think?

10. If you could recommend one book to non-readers, which would it be?

A lot of adults I know don’t read fiction because they don’t enjoy it; it just doesn’t work for them. And that’s fine, it’s only an entertainment form, I get a bit tired of authors carrying on as though books are the lifeblood of a master spirit and you somehow become a better person by reading them. Watch telly instead if you’d rather! Of course, it’s important that children read, and I think that for the ones who find whole novels a bit of drag I’d recommend comics, like the ones the DFC/Phoenix has published, and also things like Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books. And there’s a lovely book which I’d recommend to everybody, The Arrival by Shaun Tan. It deals very movingly with the immigrant experience without ever being remotely an ‘issues’ book, and there’s not a single word in it, it just unfolds across page after page of beautiful pencil drawings, like a silent movie.

Authors on Writing and Reading Interview Series: Bea Davenport

Say hello to the lovely Bea Davenport (the writing name of former journalist Barbara Henderson). The Serpent House is her first novel for children, though she is already a published crime writer. Listen to how intriguing The Serpent House sounds – in this historical time-fantasy inspired by the medieval leper hospital once sited in the village where Bea now lives, a time-travelling girl must retrieve a book belonging to a sinister doctor and guarded by fearsome serpents. The book comes out next month, so there’s not long to wait now! Until then, let’s see what juicy insights Bea can clue us in on …



The Serpent House by Bea Davenport

1. Describe your book in one sentence.

The Serpent House is a historical time fantasy, set in the Victorian era and the Dark Ages – scary but exciting (I hope)!

2. How did the initial idea come about?

It came from three different ideas. In the village where I live, near Berwick upon Tweed, there really was a leper hospital in medieval times, and I because so little is known about it I always wanted to write something about that. I was also inspired by family stories about my three great-aunts, all of whom worked in service in large houses in Newcastle and Cumbria. They had very tough lives. And because I suffered from alopecia as a child, I wanted to explore that too. I wove the story strands together using time-travel.

3. Plotter or pantser?

Funnily enough, I’m a complete pantser when it comes to writing. If I plan ahead, I don’t enjoy the writing process so much. It’s odd, though, because in all other areas of my life I plan everything down to the last minute detail, to the point of being a bit obsessive.

4. What was the hardest scene to write?

There’s a scene where the leper hospital catches fire. I realised as I was writing that something awful was going to happen in this scene and it did upset me (and one or two people who read it!). But writers will know that sometimes, you lose control of what happens to your characters – strange as that may sound.

5. What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?

Just three days after a major setback with an agent, the novel was accepted for publication by Curious Fox. They’d had the manuscript for so long I’d forgotten I’d sent it to them, so the offer came out of the blue. And because I was so low about being turned down by the agent, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I think it taught me that the publishing journey is something of a rollercoaster – and you need a strong stomach!

6. Favourite line from your book?

This is from quite near the end: ‘Maybe it was just time for things to grow again’. It will make sense if you read the book!

7. If you could talk to one writer to get advice and insight, dead or alive, who would it be?

I think Hilary Mantel is one of our most wonderful writers and I am in awe of her work. I’d love to ask her about recreating the past in a way that is so entertaining that it never feels like ‘teaching’.

8. Three words you couldn’t live without …

Hmm. I’m afraid I can’t answer this one. I’d like to think if you took one set of words away from me, I’m creative enough to find another way of saying the same thing.

9. Give us a sneak peek at one of your ideas for a future book.

I’m hoping to write a sequel for The Serpent House in which Annie finds herself in a different, but even more dangerous, period of the past. I’m also redrafting a contemporary book for older teenagers, with the working title Halloween. It’s very, very loosely based on something that happened to me when I was younger and it’s about a Halloween prank that goes horribly wrong – and all the consequences of it.

10. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?

I asked the wonderful Jackie Kay is if was okay to start off a novel without any idea how it was going to end, and she said it definitely was. She then told me that if I did have an ending in mind, to ‘hold it lightly’ – in other words, to be prepared to change. I have always followed that advice!


Bluebell woods

Had to share a pic from my fashion and lifestyle blog to show you one of my favourite writing inspiration locations (ooh rhyme). These bluebell woods are in Heartwood Forest, just a half an hour walk from my parents’ house. In the spring the wood turns purple with flowers, making it such a magical place to go for a slow wander and getting lost in daydreams about my latest WIP. It’s especially beautiful at sunset, when the sunlight filters through the high canopy and glazes everything in hazy, golden light. Bliss.

What are your favourite places to go for writing inspiration? x

The Memory Keepers Cover Reveal!

GUYS I’M SO EXCITED! Today I get to share with you the cover for my second novel, The Memory Keepers – and isn’t it absolutely beautiful! When Hot Key showed me the cover they’d made for The Elites, I didn’t think it could get much better. But then this came along. Huge props to Jan and the design team for such a great job, especially as they started the process a while before I’d even finished writing the book! It still amazes me how perfect the cover is when Jan et al had such little to go on.

Seeing the final cover is one of the best parts of the publication process. It’s when everything starts feeling as though it’s coming together, and you have little daydream visions of the book in readers’ hands, being eagerly opened, lovely paper-smelling pages thumbed for the first time.

Anyway, without further ado, may I present to you in sexy high-res (click on the images to see a bigger version) the oh-so-gorgeous cover for TMK


The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan cover MEMORY_KEEPERS backThe Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan cover


Isn’t it gorgeous! I just cannot WAIT to see it on the shelves in a few months time. If you’re super keen, you can pre-order it on Amazon here, and the first few chapters are up on Hot Key’s site if you fancy a read! x