His entry begins:
I’ve been in a reading slump for the past two or three months. Books that I’d normally expect to finish in a couple of days have hung around my bedside table for a week or more. Some books, I’ve abandoned, unfinished – which is almost unheard of, for me. I won’t say which ones because it would be unfair on the authors. The fault is mine, not theirs.About Twenty Questions for Gloria, from the publisher:
The cause is easy to identify. In the latter part of 2015, I was privileged to be one of the judges for the children’s and young-adult fiction category of the Costa Book Awards, which is one of the top literary prizes in the UK. The three of us on the judging panel had to read more than 150 books in three months, then re-read the 12 longlisted titles before choosing a shortlist and a winner.
I was then asked to join the judging panel for the Costa Book of the Year Award, in which the five category winners – Novel, First Novel, Poetry, Biography and Children’s/YA – compete for the overall prize. Again, an enormous honour and pleasure ... but, by the time the judging process was over at the end of January, I was completely exhausted with reading. My eyes felt as if they’d been in a pickling jar for months and even the thought of picking up another book, let alone opening it, brought me out in a cold sweat.
For most of February and March, I tried and failed to get my reading mojo back. Close to panic, I wondered if I had gone off books for ever. Was I doomed to spend the rest of my life watching daytime TV or trawling YouTube for pictures of sneezing cats, or whatever it is that non-readers do?
But, just in the past two weeks, a rescue party has arrived. First on the scene was China Miéville, whose brilliantly imaginative steam-punk novel, Railsea, was like a rope thrown to a drowning man. Then...[read on]
At 15, Gloria longs for adventure, something beyond her ordinary suburban life. When a mysterious new boy strolls into school, bent on breaking all the rules, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell.Visit Martyn Bedford's website.
Uman is funny, confident, and smart. He does what he wants without a care for what anyone thinks. The only people for him, he says, are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn.
He is everything Gloria wants to be. He can whisk her away and show her a more daring, more exciting life in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman is not all he seems. And by the time she learns the truth about him, she’s a long way from home ... and the whole country wants to know: Where’s Gloria?
For fans of Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, and the Mara Dyer books by Michelle Hodkin.
The Page 69 Test: Twenty Questions for Gloria.
Writers Read: Martyn Bedford.