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Friday, January 27, 2017

GUEST BLOG: At Night the City Streets Became a Forest by M.A. Griffin (Author of Lifers)



Fantasy Book Critic is excited to take part in the blog tour (thaks to RockStar Book Tours) for the soon-to-be released book Lifers by M.A. Griffin. Lifers is scheduled to be released January 31, 2017 by Chicken House (Scholastic). Find it available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksAudibleGoodreads

About Lifers:  

Fear haunts the streets of Preston's city: a girl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. And deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine used to banish teenage criminals for their offenses.

Captured and condemned to a cavernous dimension, Preston is determined to escape. But this is no ordinary jail. Friendships will be forged and lives will be lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge--and revolution. 

Set in a world all too similar to our own, Lifers is thrilling, pulse-pounding storytelling of the highest degree. 

Today as part of the blog tour, M.A. Griffin stops by to talk about how he took the familiar setting of Manchester and turned it into an unfamiliar setting that readers found to be different and alternative.

Before welcoming M.A. Griffin, I'd like to supply you with an overview of the book. If you would like to read other guest blog posts by this author or read some reviews, feel free to visit the other blogs on this blog tour. And of course, you can enter the blog tour giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Lifers!

Blog Tour Schedule -
Week One:
1/23/2017- YA Book MadnessInterview
1/24/2017-Here's to Happy EndingsReview
1/25/2017-Novel NoviceExcerpt
1/26/2017- A Dream Within A DreamReview
1/27/2017- Fantasy Book CriticGuest Post

Week Two:
1/30/2017- Hopelessly Devoted BibliophileReview
1/31/2017- Tales of the Ravenous ReaderInterview
2/1/2017- Book-KeepingReview
2/2/2017- Wishful EndingsInterview
2/3/2017- A Gingerly ReviewReview

Without further ado, I welcome M.A. Griffin. 
*******************************************************************
 At Night the City Streets Became a Forest by M.A. Griffin


Lifers, my YA thriller, is set in Manchester, a UK city that’s often familiar to non-Brits because of its connection with football and music. It’s been my home now for over twenty-five years since the day I arrived, bright-eyed and terrified, as an eighteen-year-old student. (Manchester University is considered a pretty good place to study but I’d chosen it based on one factor: I figured I’d got a decent chance of ‘accidentally’ bumping into Morrissey.) 

Anyway. One day a few years back I was hanging out in The Whitworth, an art gallery in the heart of Manchester’s student-land, and I saw this awesome video installation. It was by Willie Doherty, and it was called The Visitor. There were long slow shots of Belfast towerblocks cut with dark woodland sequences, the camera passing low through roots and fallen leaves; this striking contrast of the urban and the wild with a voiceover that finished by saying, “…at night, the city streets became a forest.” Terrific, eh? I was blown away by the idea that a city might change at night – after we’ve all gone to sleep – into something feral.

That’s one of the places Lifers started; with this idea that a kid might wake at night to find his or her world utterly changed.

I called the setting of Lifers ‘Dark Manchester’ because I wanted to make this distinction between the knowable reality of the city during the day, and the unfamiliar, frightening city of the night. There’s this moment near the start of the book where Preston, my protagonist, is being interviewed by the cops about his missing friend. He’s exhausted and sleepless. As he crosses the boundary between day and night his surroundings change; “The room seemed to dip into darkness, as if a shadow had shouldered the moon out for a moment.” That’s my feeble attempt at distilling what I’m trying to get at I s’pose. 

Here’s the thing, though – this head-stretching defamiliarisation happens more often (and more powerfully) when you’re a kid. We’re scared of monsters under the bed because our cosy familiar room actually becomes a distinct, parallel place in the dark. There’s this poem by British poet Simon Armitage that covers similar territory. Here’s the deal: imagine finding a huge abandoned tractor tyre up on the moors and, along with a gang of mates, lifting it upright and rolling it onto the road. Once on tarmac this vast tyre accelerates, breaks free of your grip and rolls over the lip of the hill down towards a nearby village. Terrified, you chase it, imagining a trail of devastation. Instead?   

…down in the village the tyre was gone…
Not there or anywhere. No trace. Thin air.
 

What I love most about the poem is how the young poet justifies the tyre’s mysterious disappearance: 

Being more in tune with the feel of things
than science and facts, we knew that the tyre
had travelled too fast for its size and mass…
and at that moment gone beyond itself
towards some other sphere, and disappeared.
 

I guess the possibility for a kind of dislocating magic – ‘some other sphere’ – is much higher in childhood. The Dark Manchester of Lifers is my other sphere. I get to move landmarks, adjust roads and buildings and generally meddle with things to make weirdness happen. And I had an absolute blast doing it!




Tell you what though – there’s no chance of ‘accidentally’ bumping into Morrissey in either city. Having spent a quarter-century trying, I can declare that feat, at least, to be officially impossible. 




About M.A:
I'm a writer of children's fiction, represented by Ben Illis at the B.I.A., available for workshops and school visits when I'm not chained to a laptop cursing my lack of progress and/or poverty of imagination.


My debut novel, The Poison Boy, was written as Fletcher Moss. My second novel, Lifers, is my first for teen readers. It arrives April 2016.




Website | Twitter | Goodreads



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