Tag Archives: Jack Heath

Seriously Spooky Month: Guest Post – Jack Heath

As part of my Seriously Spooky Month I asked some of my favourite spooky authors to write a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books.  Today I’m joined by Jack Heath, author of the seriously spooky Scream series.  Jack joins me today to talk about why he loves scary stories and what led him to write books about spider armies, venus fly-traps and haunted books.  Thanks for joining me Jack!

The weirdness makes it seem real

When I heard Scholastic was looking for someone to write a horror series for kids, I stuck my hand up so fast that I ruptured my rotator cuff. I had loved scary stories since I was in nappies (which is a very convenient time to discover the horror genre, by the way).

My life as a reader began with picture books like Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg and Stephen Gammel, which led me to The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight by R. L. Stine, which in turn led me to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. After that I discovered Crew’s 13, an anthology of horror stories (edited by Gary Crew) which included The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe and The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs. After falling in love with Frankenstein I later discovered Stephen King, and…

Pardon me. I got lost down memory lane for a second there. Where was I? Oh yes, the Scream series. I was told to write four books.

‘About what?’ I asked.

‘Something scary,’ I was told.

I’m not a brave person, so it wasn’t hard to find four things which frightened me. I started with the obvious – spiders. Big ones. I thought about the zoo in Singapore where I was invited to hold a tarantula, and I channeled all that skin-crawling terror into The Spider Army.

the-spider-armyI remembered having a Venus flytrap in my room as a kid, and uneasily watching it sit, perfectly still, mouth open, fangs wide, just waiting for an unwary fly to make one false step. This became the tingling spine of The Human Flytrap. (I was delighted to discover that the first edition literally screamed at readers when they opened the cover.)

I thought back to a holiday in Queensland when my brother and I found ourselves surrounded by lemon sharks. Being immersed in dark water, unable to scream and too frightened to move as these otherworldly creatures whipped past gave me the inspiration for The Squid Slayer.

But my favourite of the four books was a bit meta. The horror stories I loved had something in common – the monsters weren’t based on existing myths. There were no werewolves, no witches, no vampires. Instead they unleashed something completely new and bizarre, and paradoxically, the weirdness of the creatures made them more believable.

I remembered all the times I’d been reading a scary book and I’d started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the terrifying events depicted within might actually be true. I tried to capture this sensation in The Haunted Book.

People have asked me if it’s appropriate to expose a nine-year old to the frightening stuff in the Scream series. I tell them that I read books just like these as a kid, and I turned out all right.

Then I go home to write more disturbing stories and then sleep – with the lights on.

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Filed under children's fiction, children's horror, Guest Post, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015, spooky

Scream series by Jack Heath

When I was a kid the only spooky books I could find were the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine.  Thankfully there are more and more authors writing seriously spooky books for kids and one of those authors is Jack Heath.  Jack Heath’s Scream series (published by Scholastic) is perfect for those kids who love R.L. Stine’s short and spooky stories.  The covers of the Scream series even look a bit like Goosebumps books.

The Scream series is set in Axe Falls, where a cargo ship ran aground years ago.  Ever since then the town has been plagued by ‘mysterious disappearances, terrifying visions and unusual events.’  The books follow four local kids who wonder what was the cargo? And will anyone survive long enough to find out?  So far there are four books in the series: The Human Flytrap, The Spider Army, The Haunted Book and The Squid Slayer. You don’t have to read them in a particular order so start with whatever one you like.  They are guaranteed to give you a fright.

Check out this video of Jack Heath talking about the series and check out his Seriously Spooky Guest Post here on the blog.

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Filed under books, children's fiction, children's horror, Seriously Spooky Month, Seriously Spooky Month 2015

My Most Anticipated September Kids & YA Releases from Scholastic NZ

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?
What’s wrong with you, Brian? You’re a piranha.

Brian is a piranha. He is also a vegetarian. But do you think he can convince the others to join him?

Quaky Cat Helps Out

Quakey Cat Helps Out by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop

Quaky Cat, five years on … It’s been five years since the first big Christchurch earthquake, but some of Tiger’s friends still have broken homes – or none at all. Kind-hearted Tiger rounds them all up for a gathering of friends.

300 Minutes of Danger

300 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath

George is trapped in a falling aeroplane with no engine and no pilot. Milla is covered with radioactive waste and her hazard suit is running out of air. Otto is in the darkest depths of the ocean, where something hungry is circling . . . 10 dangerous situations. 10 brave kids. 30 minutes to escape.

Dragon Knight #4 Dragons!

Dragon Knight: Dragons! by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

The terrifying cyclorgs want their gold back – NOW!

If Merek can’t outwit the evil Lord Crumble, the village is doomed.

Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown

It’s hard to believe this is Roan’s last year at Jedi Academy. He’s been busier than ever learning to fly (and wash) starships, swimming in the Lake Country on Naboo, studying for the Jedi obstacle course exam, and tracking down dozens of vorpak clones (don’t ask). But now, someone is setting him up to get in trouble with everyone at school, including Yoda. If he doesn’t find out who it is, and fast, he may get kicked out of school! Why can’t middle school just be easy?…

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Interview with Jack Heath, author of The Cut-Out

Today I’m joined by Australian author Jack Heath.  Jack is the author of action-packed thrillers for children and young adults, including the Scream series from Scholastic, Money Run, The Hit-List and his first novel, The Lab.  Jack’s latest novel is The Cut-Out, a spy thriller about mistaken identities that is perfect for fans of the Cherub series and Alex Rider.  I had a few questions about Jack’s latest book and spies.  Jack very kindly answered my questions and you can read them here.

The Cut-Out is out now from Allen and Unwin.

What are 3 words that you would use to describe your new book, The Cut Out? Fast, frantic, fun.

Is the character of Fero based on who you wanted to be when you were a teenager?

Fero is everything I wasn’t – athletic, quiet, courageous. In some ways I wish I’d been more like him, but it’s those qualities that get him into so much trouble in The Cut Out!

In The Cut Out, Fero gets mistaken for enemy agent, Troy Maschenov.  Have you ever had a case of mistaken identity?

I have a brother who looks a bit like me, and sometimes people get us confused. Fortunately my brother isn’t a deadly foreign spy, or so he claims.

What is your favourite gadget in The Cut Out?

Definitely the Armoured Turbofan Vehicle, which is like a cross between a motorcycle and a tank.

What books and movies inspire your writing?

I love spy thrillers by Robert Ludlum and Olen Steinhauer. As for movies, some of my favourites include Tomorrow Never DiesTrue Lies and Mission Impossible 3.

Who is your favourite fictional spy?

I’m a big fan of reluctant spies, so I always loved Alex Rider. He got more interesting with every book!

Your first book, The Lab, was published when you were a teenager.  What advice do you have for young writers who want to get published?

I encourage all aspiring writers to join their local writers centre, to write something every day, and to read everything they can get their hands on.

Who would you recommend The Cut Out to?

The Cut Out is for anyone who likes shifting allegiances, big twists and lots of action.

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My Most Anticipated Kids and YA August Releases from Allen and Unwin

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

If you go down to the woods today … Well, every child knows NOT to, don’t they?

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh-grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other – because Marshall can’t be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad-the-bully, who makes Marshall’s life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods … And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected. The next day, Chad doesn’t turn up at school – no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya’s arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.

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Superhero Dad by Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger

Dad might not have a superhero mask or wear his pants outside his trousers, but his super snores can be heard a thousand miles away, he tells super jokes and can even make superscary monsters go away at bedtime!

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The Cut-Out by Jack Heath

Fero isn’t a spy.

But he looks exactly like someone who is: Troy Maschenov – a ruthless enemy agent.

But what starts as a case of mistaken identity quickly turns into a complicated and dangerous plan. Fero is recruited to fight for his country. He will have to impersonate Troy, enter enemy territory, hunt down a missing agent and bring her home in time to prevent a devastating terror attack.

Fero is in way over his head. Hastily trained, loaded up with gadgets and smuggled across the border, he discovers the truth about espionage.

Getting in is easy. Getting out alive is hard.

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Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect.

Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school.

But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?

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