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Gutsy and Compelling ” The BOOKSELLER
England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. The
population has maxed out.
The police are snowed under. Immigrants are still pouring in, overcrowding is rife, housing unavailable, the Nation Health Scheme is stretched to breaking point and food resources are so scarce that even the wealthy are feeling it – and there’s no more money in the government kitty either. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.
The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.
Let me take you into the future…
Two decades of cuts have devastated Britain.
Banks keep going under; businesses keep closing; prices keep soaring, hospitals aren’t coping; police are armed and schools have returned to the tripartite system. At the bottom of the pile, the Challenge Academies are reduced to just keeping kids off the streets; they no longer try to educate them, there are no university places, no jobs, no future…
… and the biggest cut of all has been equal opportunity.
And still the government is planning where the axe falls next…
Enter Leah Jackson:
September 18th INT. YouOp Challenge Academy78
Leah is having the worst day ever. She woke up to Mum depressed; baby sister, Sally, in tears and brother, Connor, not doing his Friday duty. Keeping the show on the road has fallen on her plate again. Worst of all it’s on the very day she’s booked to try out, after school, for her Five Minutes of Fame and Fortune at the local office of the Ministry of Youth Opportunity.
Of course being late for school hasn’t made anything better. But that’s nothing. Without warning Leah is catapulted into a real nightmare. A bunch of armed Year 9s burst into her a.m. detention and start shooting. Leah escapes, but there’s no way out. The new Lock Down system recommended by YouOp to keep intruders out is now locking everyone in. Resourceful and brave Leah takes to the ceilings to hide, with one other student, Anton. Together they survive the first horrific shootings in the library. They manage to call out to the world at large, and then they make a plan: a plan to help rescue the other kids who’ve been taken hostage. But before Leah and Anton can put The Plan into action, they must find a way to survive, a way to outwit their captors, a way to locate and retrieve the wounded; in particular Ruby, an injured Year 7 girl, who’s been left secured in a book cupboard. Ruby urgently needs medical attention, and Leah must find a way to get her some before the Year 9 gang, the so called ‘Eternal Knights’, finish their butchery.
Outside the world waits and watches: anxious parents gather, news tycoons offer exclusive scoops, the army want intelligence, psychologists give opinions, television cameras roll, sociologists rationalise, doctors advise – and they all want a piece of Leah.
But all is not as it seems. Imprisoned in the ceilings of Challenge Academy78, Leah cannot know that the shootings are part of a deliberate, government-managed operation to direct where the axe falls next.
And just as Whitehall predicts, the debate begins: ‘…challenge kids are out of control, have no future, respect no one, are un-educatable, unemployable, ungrateful, mindless, violent, dangerous, feral… a waste of resources, waste of goodwill, waste of time… need to be put to work, taught a lesson, respect their elders, value society…’
Solution? ‘Extend Volunteer Programmes, end Challenge Academies.’ Welcome back The Legal Illiterate.
After all, there’s free education up to Class 6, do they really need more? And for those with potential there’s still the Five minutes of Fame and Fortune, isn’t there?
Amongst all the furore one news reporter’s worked it out. But she needs proof that the siege has been government masterminded. And she’s worried about Leah too, the girl who might unwittingly bring the regime down. She tries to get through to Leah to ask for her help and to warn her.
But how is Leah to know who to trust?
Soon Leah’s phone battery is running out; the SAS want her to do a reconnaissance trip into the hostage area; the army are talking of parachuting a team onto the roof and they all need her help… or do they?
And can anyone really help her? For Leah is guarding a growing conviction that her brother, Connor, is at the centre of the horror, may be working with the Eternal Knights, may even have been used, brainwashed, be nothing more than a pawn in a vast game bigger than she can imagine… She cannot betray him or what she knows to the SAS, but helping him may mean sacrificing others. Alone in the ceilings and air vents, with only the taciturn Anton for company, Leah must make some terrible choices.
She must come to terms with her role in the tragedy. What she could have done to prevent it. All those times Connor reached out for help… If she had voiced her fears earlier, tried to support him more – would things have been any different?
SIEGE is a disturbing futuristic YA novel, capturing the zeitgeist and drawing its inspiration from our inner city schools. It is a chilling fictional narrative about what could happen to disaffected youngsters in a rapidly disintegrating society.
|So What’s the next big thing – eh – Sarah?Well read on… Wendy Loveday says it so much better than I do!‘Two weeks ago, writer, Adrienne Dines tagged me in her post The Next Big Thing and today it’s my turn! Basically, I have ten questions to answer about my Work in Progress and then I have to tag five other writers who will tell you about their latest novel next Wednesday. So…let the games begin!’
The Next Big Thing
By Sarah Mussi
What is the working title of your book?
The working title of my next book is SIEGE. It’s the REAL title too! Hodder liked it – more than liked it. The cover designer loved it and made the whole cover the title you can see it on my facebook author page… http://www.facebook.com/SarahMussiAuthor
The idea for the book came from a school I once worked in. There really was someone living in the ceiling. The rest is from a very dark place that is hard to talk about.
What genre does your book fall under?
Definitely YA. Probably Thriller.
I’d like an all new cast picked from kids who are passionate about screen, who need that chance, who are hungry to get a break.
I’ll have a go at that oneliner…
SIEGE is a disturbing story about what could happen, what might happen to disaffected youngsters in a rapidly disintegrating society…
Unable to intervene, a horrified nation watch as their future, their brightest and their best, are systematically butchered in front of their eyes; their only hope lies with Leah, sixteen, unarmed and hiding in the ceilings of the school.
Oh dear … that was two lines.
SIEGE is represented by Ed Victor and published by Hodder. Launch date: March 2013
It took a year all in all, but the first initial draft, after all the planning took three weeks.
I think the nearest book might be WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
A growing sense of alarm at how easily we accept violence as a part of every day life.
SIEGE is totally gripping. It leaves you breathless, scared to turn to the next page, yet unable not to.
It will change the way you see teenagers forever.
And here’s the prologue:
The Before Time
In the time before the shooting I was Leah Thompson, sixteen years old. I had one brother of fourteen, Connor; one sister, six, called Sally. No dad. Not one that I’d ever met, anyway. A mum with depression.
In the before time, I took care of everyone
It was quite simple.
If I didn’t take care of them I wouldn’t have a family.
Neither would Sally nor Connor.
But nothing is ever that simple, is it?
… more coming soon…
CHECK FOR THE NEXT BIG THING ON THESE WEBSITES:
Enter our ANGEL DUST summer drawing competition for the chance to win this signed original painting by Sarah Mussi!
To enter – draw or paint an angel or seraph and post it to Sarah’s Facebook page before 5pm on 31 August 2012.
The winner will win Sarah Mussi’s painting and a signed copy of ANGEL DUST. Five runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the book.
Terms and conditions
1. To enter the competition you must be resident of the UK or the ROI.
2. Drawings/paintings can be made on any size paper and any materials can be used but the picture must be scanned or photographed and posted to Sarah Mussi’s Facebook page.
3. We will only accept digital copies of the drawing/painting and will not accept physical copies.
4. The competition is open to 11-18 year-olds.
5. The competition is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of Bonnier Publishing.
6. Only one entry per person.
7. Entries must be submitted by 5pm on 31 August 2012. Hot Key Books reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time.
8. There will be one winner and five runners-up (from all eligible entries).
9. Our decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
10. The winner and runners-up will be informed on Facebook after 5pm on 31 August 2012.
11. The prize will not be transferable to another person.
12. No part of the prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize.
13. The competition is run by Hot Key Books, Northburgh House, 10 Northburgh Street, London EC1V 0AT
Things I will soon be up to!
Most important date: ANGEL DUST PUB DAY (no NOT Pub Crawl Day, silly!)
It’s the day Serafina will open her wings and soar out on her first visit to the world, her maiden voyage, her solo flight. Find out what happens when she lands in the city and faces real life!
Then I will fly away myself – sadly not on angel wings, but on Virgin Airways! And spend all of August in Ghana: writing, writing, writing. I will update the world from the jungles of West Africa on full stops and other useful things.
I’ll be back!
Meanwhile watch out for me in other unlikely places: the papers, the blogs and of course the bookshops!
So you want to be a writer? Well, do you? Do you? Do you?
(Or do you want to be famous… and rich… and live forever… and make your mark on posterity… and move your audience to great emotions through your power of words… and hobnob with BIG names… and have your biographers create the film of YOU?)
Well you’ve just clicked on the right page! Because luckily all the above is very possible (we know it is: we’ve seen it happen to others) and as well as all that, we can write a book that will give its reader a great read.
And that’s what comes first: giving the reader a great read.
So this site is dedicated to all readers.
Dear Reader, I solemnly pledge to do everything in my power to pass on anything I’ve ever learned, in that never ending journey towards giving you the best read of your life, on this site.
Let the Best Read of Your Life Quest begin!
My first challenge in the quest was to find out what readers wanted from a book. I asked one hundred young adults between the ages of 12 – 19 this question. Below are some of their answers:
- A special world that’s mine all mine
- A character who will be my friend
- A plot so exciting I don’t want to put the book down
- I want to learn about things
- I don’t want to be bored (aka: I’m intelligent – you know – as well as you!)
- I want to feel bigger and better and different when I’ve finished reading it.
- It should be meaningful.
There were a lot more answers (you try it, and you’ll see you get quite a few silly ones too), but most of them said something like the above. So into the Cauldron of Success needs to go the following ingredients to make ‘the gruel thick and slab’!
Characters you like
Life changing things
Bigger and better and different realities
So that’s some of the ingredients for giving the reader a great read. All you need to do for now is : stir well. Check for taste. Add more of any if needed.
Coming soon: Challenge Two of:
The Best Read of Your Life Quest
Post 2: What actually is ‘A Special World’?
Hello all of YOU!
And welcome to the brand new shiny website of me, Sarah Mussi, author of ANGEL DUST and massive fan of YA fiction.
Here you can find out more about ME, what I’m up to, my books and the things that have helped me with my writing. And here I can find out more about YOU and what you like reading and what you’re writing and all things YA-ish.
So stay in touch – have your say – on twitter – or facebook – or on this site!