Thursday 25 April 2013

Happy Book Birthday, ACID!

Today's the day ACID is published – woo-hoo! And to celebrate, I'm doing some guest-blogging. You can find me over at Author Allsorts, where I'm talking to the fab Kate Ormand about the book. I'm also over at The Lucky 13s, talking about why you should never throw your unfinished manuscripts away. You can read an interview with me over at OneFourKidLit, and I'm also over at the lovely Joanne Hall's blog, with another interview. Whew!

And now I'm off to drink coffee in preparation for all the dashing around I'm doing today. See you later!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

ACID - The First Chapter

Tomorrow is The Big Day. The day ACID is unleashed on the world (OK, the UK!). So to give you a taster of what's to come, I thought I would post the first chapter here on my blog…


Mileway Maximum Security Prison, Outer London
12th April 2113

The first time I notice the new inmate is when we’re all lined up outside our cells for morning head count. He’s standing five doors down from me, sneaking glances at the rest of us as the guards wave their wrist-scanners across our hips to read the spytags that are implanted when we first get here.

His blonde hair is cropped close and the white T-shirt straining across his gut is crisp and fresh; he must have arrived in the night. When his gaze lands on me, he does a double take, just as I knew he would. Watching him out of the corner of my eye, I can tell what he’s thinking as clearly as if he’d said it out loud: A girl? Here? What the hell?

And then, so quickly I almost miss it, a smile flickers across his lips, his eyes narrowing as his surprise turns to anticipation. A girl. Here. What’re the chances?
I curl my lip into a snarl, half tempted to go over there and introduce him to my fists. What a creep. But what did I expect? At Mileway, I stand out like . . . well, like a seventeen-year-old female in a prison full of men.

One of the guards, dressed in a black ACID uniform, reaches me. ‘Strong, Jenna – Prisoner ID 4347X,’ he intones. I clasp my hands behind my back, gazing straight ahead, feeling Creep’s stare drilling into me. ‘What’s she in for?’ I hear him ask one of the other guards. The guard doesn’t answer, just scans his hip and moves on down the line.

After the count, breakfast is served: cereal and watery substitute milk. A lot of the food we get here is sub – super-cheap, made out of synthetic protein. Real food isn’t worth wasting on criminals. As usual, I eat standing up, leaning against a pillar by the catwalk in front of the cells, one foot tucked up behind me. ‘This crap gets worse every day,’ one of the guys at a nearby table grumbles, lifting up his spoon and letting the mushy grey cereal plop back into his bowl. Neil Rennick, ex-Anarchy Regiment, who, ten years ago, blew up an ACID van with fifteen agents inside it, before going on the run. ACID finally caught up with him last year, and a month after his arrival he tried to corner me in my cell, which is how he got the scar that runs from his right eyebrow to the corner of his jaw. I got five weeks in solitary, but it was worth it. Now he leaves me alone, just like everyone else.

‘They’re trying to kill us, is what they’re trying to do,’ Rennick says loudly, looking around, trying to gather an audience. ‘And you know what? They can go—’

A guard hears him and steps forward. ‘Watch that mouth of yours, Rennick,’ he says, jabbing the muzzle of his pulse gun between Rennick’s shoulder blades and flipping the charger switch back.

The gun powers up with a whine. Rennick clenches his jaw, and after a few moments the guard steps away. Every so often, the inmates’ hatred will spill over, and they’ll riot. It’s happened four times since I came here – although I’m not stupid or suicidal enough to have been involved – but at this time of day, everyone’s still half asleep. Rennick finishes his cereal in silence. I see Creep staring at him and the guard. Rennick sees too, and gives him the finger.

When I’ve eaten my breakfast, I return to my cell. The other inmates have to share theirs with five, sometimes even six other people, but I have mine to myself – the one and only concession the prison have made to my gender. Peering into the square of polished metal riveted to the wall by my bunk, I run my hand over my scalp. Every other day, I shave it with a razor made out of a sharpened plastic spoon which I keep hidden inside a loose section of my bunk frame. It goes better with the scars on my face and the shadows under my eyes than the waist-length, glossy chestnut hair I had two years ago, when I was a privileged Upper girl with her own en-suite bathroom, a chauffeur and unlimited access to her father’s bank account.

I glower at my reflection. Why the hell am I thinking about my parents? I've only been up half an hour, and already I'm feeling depressed. I turn away from the mirror and leave my cell to go down to the gym, a gloomy cave in the incarceration tower basement that smells of mould and drains. No one else is down there yet. After some stretches to warm up, I grab a set of weights and do reps until my arms burn, before moving on to the leg press. After that, I switch to the treadmill. As I lose myself in the rhythmic slap of my feet against the worn rubber belt, the gloomy thoughts that drove me down here fade. I count the miles under my breath, my gaze fixed on the holoscreen display in front of me. ‘One . . . two . . . three . . .’

I step off eight miles later, drenched in sweat and breathing hard. I’m about to pull up the bottom of my T-shirt to wipe my face when I hear a sound behind me. I turn. Creep’s in the doorway, staring. I’m guessing from the way his mouth’s hanging open in amazement that he’s been watching me work out for a while.

‘Take a picture, it’ll last longer,’ I snap, shouldering past him to go back up to my cell. I can feel him still watching me as I go. Hopefully he’s got a good view of the tattoo on the back of my neck, the one I did myself last year using ink from a pen I found in the laundry and a shard of metal, telling him and anyone else who cares to read it to FUCK OFF.

By the time I’ve showered and changed, the job lists are up on the holoscreens outside the cells, and I see I’m on kitchen detail. I recognize all the other names on the list except one – 6292D Liffey. I feel my heart sink. And when I reach the kitchen, there
he is, goggling at me.


I ignore him, pulling on an overall and heading over to the other side of the kitchen where vegetables are piled on one of the battered metal worktops, waiting to be prepared for the evening meal. Creep is sent to operate the dishwashers on the other side of the kitchen. I scrub and peel and chop and slice, heaping stuff into the pans on top of the stoves nearby, not letting myself think about anything except the task in front of me. When we get a break for lunch at midday, I line up with the rest, waiting for the guards to hand out the food – dry bread, sub cheese and water, which we eat and drink down in the kitchen to save time.

I’m about to pick up a cup when the guard holding the tray jolts it like he’s about to drop it. Instinctively, I reach out to steady it. The guard nods and hands me a cup. The water in it tastes chalky; I gulp it down in three swallows, trying not to make a face. When I put my cup down, I see Creep staring at me again.

After that, it’s back to food prep: lighting the stoves and fetching trays of gristly meat, swimming in brownish, watery blood, from one the vast fridges that line the right-hand side of the kitchen. Usually I’ve got a strong stomach, but as I start to saw the pieces of meat up with a blunted knife, the coppery stink of the blood steals into my nostrils and I have to swallow hard against a wave of nausea. What animal did this come from? An elephant? I wouldn’t put it past them.

When the meat’s ready, I carry it over to one of the stoves so the inmate stirring the stew pots can tip it in. For the first time, I notice how hot it is – much hotter than it usually gets down here. And the stewing meat smells bad – really bad. A headache starts to pulsate deep inside my skull, turning my stomach sour. As I gulp down another surge of nausea, I realize the skin on my forearms feels sore and tight. Great. I must be coming down with something. But what? I felt fine when I got up this morning.

Dammit, I’m not going to the infirmary. I fetch another tray of meat and carry it over to a worktop between the ventilation shafts and the end of the row of fridges, hoping it’ll be cooler there. Then I turn back, thinking I’ll go and look for a sharper knife and get this stuff cut up a bit faster.

And almost collide with Creep.

He grins at me, showing yellow, peg-like teeth. ‘Hello.’

‘Get lost,’ I tell him. I try to push past him, but he steps in front of me, blocking my way.

‘Now, that ain’t nice,’ he says.

‘I’m not nice,’ I say.  

‘Oh, I think I’ll be the judge of that, don’t you, darlin’?’ His gaze slides from my face to my chest – not that there’s much to see – and the tip of his tongue flickers out from between his lips like a snake’s.

‘Don’t bother,’ I say.

‘Don’t bother with what?’ His tone’s light, innocent.

‘You know what.’ At my temples, the headache snarls and pounds. Just deck him! a little voice in my head says. But I don’t want another stretch in solitary. I’ll get dragged in front of the governor, lose my gym privileges. It’s too much hassle.
‘I just want to get acquainted, darlin’,’ he says. ‘Must be lonely in here for a young lady like you.’ His gaze shifts to my legs, then begins to crawl up them.

‘Yeah, and you know what?’ I say. ‘I like it that way.’

‘You don’t mean that. Think what a good time we could have, me and you.’

‘Believe me, it’ll be anything but good. For you, that is.’

‘Really?’ he says.

And lunges at me.

I bring my arm up and pivot sideways so that, as Creep tries to grab me, he’s thrown off balance and staggers against the worktop. Before he can recover I spin and kick out, planting my left foot squarely in his stomach. He doubles over with a strangled-sounding Oof. Then, as he tries to straighten up and get hold of the edge of the worktop, I lace my hands together and bring them down hard on the back of his neck. He pitches forward onto the floor, catching the tray with his outstretched fingers and showering himself in watery blood and lumps of meat. As he cracks his chin on the tiles at my feet, he gives a yelp of pain which tails off into a whimper.

‘I tried to warn you,’ I say, my throbbing skin and thumping head momentarily forgotten. ‘Maybe you’ll listen to me next time, huh?’

I push my foot into his neck to emphasize my point. Coughing, he rolls onto his back, trying to twist away from me. Blood – his own – is streaming from his mouth; he must have bitten his tongue when he smashed his chin against the floor.
‘What’re you in here for, anyway?’ he mumbles thickly, spitting red froth.
‘You really wanna know?’ I say.

He nods.

I lean down until our faces are so close we could kiss.

‘I killed my parents,’ I murmur, and watch his eyes go wide.

© Emma Pass 2013. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Want to read more? Buy ACID from Random House, Amazon or The Book Depository. Tomorrow I'll be blogging over at the Lucky 13s and being interviewed over at Author Allsorts, so check back here for links!

Monday 22 April 2013

Writing Groups - In Their Diversity and Wonderfulness!

The other night, I and a Twitter friend, Jo Carroll, were talking about writing groups, and came up with the idea of doing a dual blog post about the groups we're involved with. First, here's Jo:

This post has grown out of a twitter-chat: we were wittering about our groups and it was clear that we both value them, but they are organised differently. 

Which got me wondering whether it's the structure of a group that matters, or the fact that it is an opportunity to work collectively with people we trust. 

I go to a group that used to call itself a Life Writing Group. It is organised by a woman who also teaches with the OU; she brings and exercise or two, gives us homework, and generally keeps us in order. A year or so ago we spent a lot of time talking about memory and how to reframe that into something literate. We laughed (and wept a little) and wrote some wonderful pieces.

We've grown, over the year. While the structure of the group is the same, and some of us are still working almost entirely on memoir, others have branched out into fiction - both short stories and novels - and others into poetry. We've been submitting work all over the place, and even the sniff of success is celebrated with cake.

It is the writing highlight of my week (yes, every week, during term time.)

I, meanwhile, have a very different experience. As well as being an author, I have a day job in a library, where I’ve been supporting and coordinating an adult writing group for around 3 years now. The group started out as a wellbeing group, run by another writer, and I took it over when her sessions finished.

We meet monthly, and there is a wide range of ages and interests. So often, people don’t have a space in their lives where they can be creative, so this group aims to give them that. Our main focus is on having fun and trying out new things. The sessions usually consist of short exercises which members can interpret however they want, but there is no pressure to take part if a particular exercise doesn’t inspire, and you don’t have to share your work if you don’t want to.

Alongside the adult group, I run a group for 9-14 year-olds which has been going for around a year now. It follows basically the same format as the adult group, and it’s amazing how well many of the exercises we do suit both groups! And of course, we always have chocolate – it’s essential writing fuel!

What about you? Are you in a writing group? How does it work, and what do you do? Tell us in the comments below!

Monday 15 April 2013

Want To Win A Signed Copy of ACID?

Well, you can! I'm giving one away as part of the Mega Author Allsorts giveaway, where one lucky person could win 20 books in total, including other exclusive signed copies and proofs. And I'm giving away another copy over at Daydreaming Bookworm, where I also talk about the world of ACID and what helped and inspired me to create it.

Both giveaways are international, so if you live in the US and can't bear the thought of waiting until next year for ACID, you could be in with the chance of getting an early read!

Good luck!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Happy Book Birthday, Kit Grindstaff & THE FLAME IN THE MIST!

Today is the day my friend and fellow Lucky 13 Kit Grindstaff's debut MG novel, THE FLAME IN THE MIST, releases! Woo-hoo!

From Kit's website:

There's evil-a coming from up on the hill
If the Mist doesn't get you, the Agromonds will.

   —From an old Anglavian rhyme

The sun never shines in the land of Anglavia. Its people live within a sinister mist created by their rulers, the cruel Agromond family. The Agromonds' control is absolute; no one dares defy them. But things are about to change, for the youngest of them is not like the others...

Fiery-headed Jemma has always felt like the family misfit, and is increasingly disturbed by the dark goings-on at Agromond Castle. The night before her thirteenth birthday, Jemma discovers the terrifying reason why: She is not who she thinks she is, and the Agromonds have a dreadful ritual planned for her birthday—a ritual that could kill her.

But saving her skin is just the first of Jemma's ordeals. Ghosts and outcasts, a pair of crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient Prophecy—all these gradually reveal the truth about her past, and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than any she could imagine.
With her trusted friend, Digby, and her two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma faces enemies both human and supernatural. But in the end, she and her untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril.

Doesn't it sound amazing? You can view the spine-tingling trailer for the book here, check out the schedule for Kit's blog tour here, and buy the book on or from

Congratulations, Kit!

Sunday 7 April 2013

Reviews, News and Twitter Trends!

2 weeks and 4 days to go! Yes, I am starting to freak out slightly at the thought of my book being out in the world… so it's been reassuring to see some great reviews for ACID starting to come in.

Eventide Reads said: This is one brilliant action adventure story. Perfect for fans of fast paced action and for those who love some Dystopian… If you liked books such like City of Bones, Throne of Glass or Divergent/Insurgent, I suggest you check this book out when it comes. It's not to be missed!

Daydreaming Bookworm said:
With a bad ass heroine like Lara Croft and a fast paced plot like Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, ACID is one debut that you definitely must keep an eye on when it comes out!

And over on Goodreads, Kirsty at The Overflowing Library said: A fab story, a kick-ass heroine and nail biting read set in an all too realistic world which will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first to the last page.


In other news, my new group blog, Author Allsorts, has officially launched - hooray! Head on over there to see the full list of Allsorts on our Authors and Illustrators page. We're also running a MEGA book giveaway, with a prize pack of 20 books to go to one lucky winner, including a signed copy of ACID. The giveaway is international and runs until the end of April, so if you haven't already, head on over there now to enter!

Books I'm excited about at the moment: Fletcher Moss's THE POISON BOY, which released last week, and Kit Grindstaff's THE FLAME IN THE MIST, which is out on Tuesday. Can't wait to read these - they both sound SO good!

Other stuff I'm excited about at the moment: there's going to be ACID postcards in cinemas! I'm not sure which cinemas, but if you see Jenna when you're out and about, please tweet me a photo (@EmmaPass)!

And finally… The Lucky 13s took part in a Book Blitz on Twitter yesterday, where people tweeted page numbers at us and we tweeted lines from our books back. If you want to see all the awesome, look for the hashtag #bookblitz. At one point, we were the top Twitter trend in the US!

Probably the only time I will trend in anything, ever.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday 5 April 2013

Author Allsorts The Third - And An AMAZING Giveaway!


Hop on over to Author Allsorts to meet the last batch of authors - including me! We’re a group of UK-based picture book, children’s and YA authors and illustrators who’ve got together to blog about what we do and why we do it, and launched on Monday. You could also win 20 – yes, 20 – books in our mega launch week book giveaway! It's open internationally and the prize pack, which will go to one lucky winner, includes exclusive signed proofs and books from some of the Allsorts themselves, including a copy of ACID!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Author Allsorts The Second!

It's time to introduce the second batch of Author Allsorts, a brand new blog for UK-based picture book, children’s and YA authors and illustrators which launched on Monday! Head over to the blog to meet the Allsorts.

Monday 1 April 2013

Author Allsorts - Launch Day!

It's launch day for Author Allsorts, my brand new group blog. No, this is not an April Fools! Head over to the blog now to meet the first lot of Allsorts - and don't forget to look out for our MEGA book giveaway on Friday!