Hello and happy Friday everyone!
Today’s #bookhangover guest is the lovely Christina Banach, author of the lovely YA novel, Minty. So, without further ado, lets find out what gets Christina all hungover!
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a writer and former Head teacher who lives in Fife, Scotland, with my husband and two rescue dogs. My young adult/crossover novel Minty was a Scottish Book Trust Teen’s Book of the Month, shortlisted for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and nominated for a Cybils Award.
What gives you an actual hangover?
Wine, especially a full-bodied red. It doesn’t stop me from drinking it, though!
What TV programme?
‘Homeland’. I binge-watched it on holiday last year and it remains vivid in my mind to this day.
Tom Hooper’s ‘Les Miserables’. Although I’d seen the stage version I must confess that, although I’d enjoyed it, I wasn’t a massive fan. However, when I learned that there was to be a film of musical, starring Hugh Jackman (swoon!), I decided it was worth giving it a bash. I loved it so much that I went back to see it the following weekend! Not only that but I just had to have the movie DVD and soundtrack.
‘Bring Me To Life’ by Evanescence. I tend to think of this as the anthem to my novel, Minty, as it played in my head while I wrote much of the book.
Chocolate, especially of the high quality milk variety! I can never get enough of it!
Corny as this may sound it’s my husband – he’s brilliant! I really miss him when I’m away from home at conferences etc.
Finally, which book?
There are so many! That said, after reading the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, I thought so much about the characters and where the overall story was heading that I had to dash out and buy the others in the series.
I have been meaning to watch Homeland for ages! Might have to give it a try finally!
Thanks for featuring me on your blog, Emma. I had lots of fun answering your #bookhangover questions!
And thank you Christina for joining me! It’s been great having you here x
Not read Minty yet?
Here’s the blurb . . .
Set in Scotland Minty is a contemporary ghost story told from the point of view of the ghost. The book has been described as a cross between The Lovely Bones (without the grim murder!) and Ghost, and although a real weepy, it has heart and warmth at its core. It tells the story of fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess who, although they sometimes bicker, are completely inseparable. Then a day trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life, a fight that results in drastic consequences for both sisters.
Extract . . .
“Minty! Stop! Don’t go any further. Wait until I get help!” screams Jess, though I can barely hear her above the crashing waves. “I’m going for Dad!”
She hares back to the car, Romulus tearing on ahead. Meanwhile Remus is whimpering and scrabbling to get a grip on the rocks. So, even though I know Dad’ll be mad at me for leaving the path, I’ve no choice; I have to keep climbing down, I must go after my dog, I just have to!
Soaked through by sea spray, looking small and terrified, Remus stands there shivering but, as I draw near him, he backs away, stealing closer and closer to the water. Suddenly, a massive wave booms over him. He jumps back a step. Yelps. Looks at me with frightened eyes and whines, his claws scraping at the slippery rocks.
Shit! He’s far too close to the edge. “Remus! Keep away!”
My stomach lurches. What to do? What to do?
Calm it. Gotta keep cool, Minty.
“Remus. Here boy.”
I try to persuade him, but the roaring waters of the Firth of Forth overpower my words. He stares at me but takes another step backwards, nearer and nearer to danger. Gripping onto a jagged piece of rock with one hand, I stretch out the other.
“Here, Remus, come on, boy.” I try to grab hold of his collar but, instead of the red nylon, my fingers snatch a handful of air and snarling sea foam.
He whimpers. Quivers.
“Please, Remus. Come here boy,” I say, carefully checking my footing on the surface as I get within a metre of him.
The blood races through my veins. Hammers in my heart.
The dog looks at me, the trust in his toffee-coloured eyes torn away by the fierce wind that’s whipped up. I call again. He retreats even further. I inch towards him. He moves away, his ears flat against his skull, his body bristling with fear. He steps back. Back onto the last scrap of land between him and the sea. My skin creeps. Goosebumps ripple up my arms. He’s too close! Then a wave crashes over the ridge and snatches him.
I watch in horror as the sea sucks my pet into its clutches. One minute his head’s above water, the next he’s gone without a trace.
“Remus. Omigod, Remus.”
Weak in the legs, dizzy, snivelling with tears, I scramble to the water’s edge, my feet fighting not to slip on the slimy rocks. The spray soaks my face, hair and skin and the sharp stone rips at my hands. The sea roars like fifty thousand Man U supporters protesting an own goal in a cup final. Sea salt stings my eyes as I peer into the water, desperate to glimpse Remus.
There! There he is! Oh, thank Jupiter! I catch sight of his head as it bobs above the surface. Then he’s gone. By now, I’m so sick to the stomach I think I’ll honk up. Where is he? I scan the sea, desperate to catch sight of him again.
Chill, Minty. Don’t panic.
He can’t be far away.
Is that him?
I have to grab at him. I need to…
Wait! Stand back. The sea’s treacherous. Stay where you are. Jess’s right – wait for help. I try to talk sense into myself, but all I can think of is how to get at Remus. How to get him out of danger, double-quick.
So, stepping as carefully as I can, I climb right down to the water’s edge, stretch out my arm and gesture with my fingers, willing him within reach. I can barely see for the mixture of tears and another drenching of sea spray. And I don’t know if it’s the chill running through my body or what, but suddenly I stop, look around me, my eyes clamp tight and I shudder, my feet rooted to the spot.
Why did you climb down here, you nutcase? Are you crazy? Get back to safety.
Then I think of Remus and how freaked out he must be.
“Where are you, boy?” I cry, looking for him through my tears.
And then I catch a glimpse of his nose peeking above the crest of an incoming wave. I stretch out an arm but, as I do, I lose my footing.
And before I can even take in what’s happening, I’m falling down, down towards the water, banging against rock after rock until, head-first, I tumble into the sea.
“Help! Somebody help!”
God, the water’s cold. Freezing, freezing cold. An icy cold that knocks my breath away. I struggle to breathe. I gasp, gulp for air. A wave smacks me. I take in a huge mouthful of seawater. I cough and cough. Harsh, racking coughs that really burn inside. My chest tightens. My nose stings with salt. Water spews from my mouth. Another wave crashes against me. And another. And another. On and on they come. Waves that, only minutes ago seemed like nothing, are now monsters. Roaring. Howling. Rearing up. They clutch at me. Tear at my jeans and jacket. Yank at my trainers. Pull me further out. Suck me down. Hurl me back up, to pant for air.
How did the sea get like this?
Now it’s my head that’s struggling to keep above water. In an effort to stay afloat, I flap my arms and kick out my legs. Screaming with terror inside, somehow I manage to turn my body around to face the shore. Fighting against the current I strike out towards land.
Safety, got to get to safety.
But – God no! Remus! I can’t leave him in this. Can’t let him drown. I can’t live without my dog.
So, even though my instincts yell at me not to, I turn back and search for my boy.
Omigod, where are you, Remus?
Half-blinded by the spray, my body thumped about by the waves, I search and search. My salt-stung eyes dart everywhere, and then I spot him again.
I swallow another ton of water. Puke it out. Cough. Gasp. Splutter. All at once. One shoulder aches where it struck the rocks as I entered the water.
Remus is tossing about on the water like an empty Coke bottle. His frightened eyes meet mine, pleading with me, begging me to help him. And I can, I can rescue him, I will save him. If only my legs weren’t so heavy.
Swim! Keep swimming, Minty.
I try to get to him, I really do, but the sea has other ideas. It’s like some vicious snake that’s thrashing around, throttling me, wringing the life from me.
My throat stings from the sea salt, I try to call out again but gag when the Firth of Forth rushes into my mouth.
Vanished – he’s… Where is he?
There he is! Some metres out to sea away from me, frantically raking the water with his paws. But, in an instant, he disappears again beneath the surface.
Omigod, Remus! I have to get to you, I just have to.
Ignoring my screaming muscles, I strike out towards him. But I haven’t reckoned on the weight of my clothes. My jacket and jeans feel like chainmail. My trainers are like two dumbbells on my feet.
In a frenzied version of the front crawl, I swim to him, a searing pain ripping through my chest.
His front paws are like a hamster’s in a wheel. They go faster and faster as he struggles to stay afloat. And then a wave claims him and he sinks below the surface.
My arms ache. My legs too. But I keep going. One stroke. Two strokes. Three. Four. On. And on. To save my dog. The closer I get to him the more my heart thunders, the more my lungs crave air. I gulp. Take in water. Cough. Retch. Try to hold my breath, to stop more flooding into my mouth. But still I push on, ignoring the fire in my lungs, until there, ahead of me, Remus’s head is just within reach. With strength I didn’t know I have, I lunge at his collar. And grab him.
Oh Remus! Oh Remus, boy. I’ve got you!
But then the current tugs at him.
Desperately, I yank on his collar, pull him to me. His head disappears beneath the water, shoots back up. The force of the waves almost wrenches him away. I think my heart will burst. There’s no feeling in my fingers, but I grip onto Remus like never before. I turn on my side. Make for the shore.
My hair wraps itself round my face like a scarf. The water crashes about us. Over us. Under. But I fight on. And then, upon almost reaching land, a huge surge spews us against the rocks. Then I hit my head on something.
And black out.
You can get your copy now over at Amazon UK and you can keep up to date with Christina over at the following . . .