Category Archives: the last beginning

Valentine’s Day extract + Clove and Ella get engaged!

Last year on Valentine’s day I posted a romantic extract from The Next Together. Let’s do the same thing this year, from The Last Beginning! Here are Clove and Ella being flirty cuties in love.

(You can also read it on Wattpad)


C a r l i s l e , E n g l a n d , 1 7 4 5

When Clove finally went back downstairs, Mrs Samson scolded her for disappearing halfway through making breakfast and put Clove to work in the wash-house doing laundry.

“Did you find the ingredients which you need for your spell?” Ella asked, as she arrived an hour later with another load of dirty clothes for Clove. She dipped a hand into Clove’s bucket of fresh water and flicked her with it. Clove leapt back, but the freezing cold water still splashed her arm.

Hey!” she said, trying to be serious, but she couldn’t help the way her mouth just wanted to smile. She ducked her head, giving in to the urge to grin.

When she looked back up, Ella’s expression took her by surprise. She looked … awestruck. Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, when what she was seeing was Clove. Just Clove. No one had ever looked at her like that before.

“What?” Clove asked, a little defensively.

“Nothing,” Ella said. “It’s just… I’ve never seen you smile before.” She sounded winded.
Clove swallowed hard, her laughter dying in her throat.

It was true that she had been very stressed recently. But surely she had smiled before? She couldn’t remember, right now, when Ella was looking at her like that.

Flustered, Clove flicked her hand into the water. Ella skittered away and let out a giggle.

Clove chased her out of the wash-house and across the lawn. But by the time she had cornered the girl by the kitchen door, all that was left of her attack was two damp palms. She pressed them to either side of Ella’s neck as she tried to squirm away.

Ella winced at the coldness of the water on her skin. The two girls were standing so close that Clove could see droplets of water clinging to Ella’s collarbone and the goosebumps standing up on her neck. Ella’s cap had come off and her hair was falling out of its bun again, messy spirals curling off in all directions.

There was a moment when they just stared at each other, breathing in unison. Clove felt like every molecule of her skin was alert and attuned to Ella’s movements.

Something had snapped their bickering into a meaningful tension. She parted her lips. If she just leant a little closer, if Ella just tilted her head a little to the right, then—

Ella stepped back. Then she lifted her arm, holding up Clove’s bucket of water – which she must have grabbed before running out of the wash-house. Clove didn’t have time to react before the water fell through the air in an iridescent arc, splashing Clove right in the chest. It was so cold that Clove couldn’t catch her breath to speak, and when she did all that escaped was helpless laughter.

“Ella!” she gasped.

Ella was laughing so hard she nearly fell over. “Yes!” she screeched. “Got you!”

“I’m soaking wet!” Clove’s bodice was drenched, and her skirts were rapidly darkening as the water spread.

“I’m going to throw you in the pond,” Clove threatened, tugging the damp fabric away from her skin.

Ella only laughed harder. “You look like a drowned cat! All bedraggled and furious.”

Clove hissed at her, baring her teeth like an angry feline. “If I get a chill and die, it’ll be all your fault.” Clove held a hand to her forehead, letting out an overly long groan of pain, which turned into laughter when Ella jabbed her in the ribs.

“I think you will recover, Miss Tabbycat,” Ella said.

“Especially as the last time you were dying you managed to wander off and escape me.”

“The salad days,” Clove muttered, sighing to herself and leaning into Ella’s side.

Ella tightened her arm around Clove’s shoulder.

FIN.


If you liked this extract, The Last Beginning is published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK| Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive | iTunes | Kobo | Wordery | WHSmith

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.


P.s. I also recently wrote a thing on tumblr about how Clove and Ella got engaged. You’re welcome.

After school, Clove does a degree at St Andrews while Ella finishes her degree at her home uni. Then Clove moves to Ella’s uni for a masters in theoretical morality, while Ella starts a PhD in classical history control potentiality. They live together in a tiny terraced house with a back garden, which Ella turns into a vegetable patch. It produces approximately 3 Brussel sprouts and a cucumber every summer. That’s all.

When they both finally graduate with a million degrees between them, Clove goes back to St Andrews to start running tests on the time machine with Jen, who now runs the St Andrews Physics department. Ella moves back with her. She commutes using her skin to a theatre company, where she works to gather accurate details about ancient greece for their productions, using her Skim.

They adopt a rescue dog, who Matt babysits during the day, because he works from home with Tom (they started a business together. they argue constantly.) Alfie, kate and matt’s three year old son, cries every day when Clove picks up the dog after work. Alfie hates goodbyes.

When Ella turns 25 she gets really nostalgic for how she and clove met (she reads a lot of fic written about then. Clove kinkshames her. It’s a Thing.). They drop the dog off with kate and matt and alfie and go on holiday to 1745. They hang out with 1745 Katherine and Matthew, and then Ella takes Clove on a picnic by the river, at the exact place where they met. The picnic is the same as the one Ella brought then, except there’s smoky bacon crisps too, this time.

After they eat, Clove naps with her head on Ella’s stomach. When she wakes up, there’s a bouquet of violets resting next to her. She laughs when she sees it, hysterically, and Ella gets offended that she finds her romantic gesture funny. Then Clove reaches into her bag and pulls out a box. She hands it to Ella.

Inside, there’s this:ring-in-silver-colour-flower-made-of-zircon-hearts-in-dark-violet

“I guess we both had the same idea,” Clove says, blushing bright red. “You gave me a violet once, a long time ago. I thought it was about time I repaid the favour.“

Ella’s eyes flick down between the ring and Clove. “Are you…?” she says.

Clove nods. “Elenore Walker. Will you marry me?”

Ella bursts into tears. “You weren’t supposed to propose for another two years!” she yells. “It’s in your autobiography!!”

Clove grins. She’s been planning for a while that when she gets around to writing her ‘autobiography’, she’ll include some lies. Gotta keep Ella on her toes somehow. “Surprise?”

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Source

Ella says yes, they get married the next summer, it’s very stressful for everyone involved. The wedding photos go viral on Ella’s social media. Obviously this is their wedding song.

#obviously as soon as they get home ella pulls out a ring she bought before she even officially met clove #she saved up her pocket money for it

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Taking Stock of 2016

Happy 2017, everyone!

Sometimes as a writer, it can feel like you haven’t achieved much, because you can spend so long editing and reediting the same projects. I think a lot about how I only wrote one book all year, and worry whether that makes me lazy.

However, last year I wrote a summary of my achievements in 2015, and looking back at it helps me see that I actually did quite a lot that year. So I’m doing the same again this year: good and bad. 

The good

Writing

In 2016 I wrote the first draft of a new novel in a new genre. I also fulfilled my 2016 New Years Resolution and wrote a screenplay. It actually got through to the final stages of the BBC Writer’s Room (but no further! Next time…). 

I also started a  quarterly newsletter (subscribe!) and wrote some blog posts, including:

I blurbed some amazing books, including Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle, A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.

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I spoke on over 10 panels with some amazing authors – Jennifer Niven being a particular highlight! I also finally appeared on a panel with Alice Oseman. 

I chaired a panel at YA Shot and co-ran a workshop at YALC (again, with Alice! The dream team).

Publication

I published a novel, a novella and a short story!

TNT was also published in translation in Czech Republic, Brazil and Turkey.

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My books so far!

We sold 16,000 copies of TNT- and it’s on its fifth or sixth print run, so there are now 23,000 copies in print. This number is so big I can’t understand it.

It was also longlisted for Branford Boase Award and chosen as iTunes book of the week in October!the_loneliest_girl

The Last Beginning was chosen by Scholastic Book Clubs to become a special edition including the novella Another Together. It
was reviewed in The Independent as one of the best LGBT inclusive children’s books of the year – my first press review! It was also reviewed in Diva Magazine.

I got a new 2 book deal with Walker, and the cover for my next book was revealed.

Personal

I went on holiday to Cambodia, Thailand, Edinburgh and Wales.

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I lived in London for a month (and decided I never want to do that again!). I saw my brother sworn in as a Special Constable, which made me very proud.

I adopted 3 adorable guinea pigs from Lucy Powrie.

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I went to the theatre a LOT. I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (twice!), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, As you like it, In the Heights, The Maids, Groundhog Day, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cymbeline, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Aladdin, Guys and Dolls, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I also saw in concert Hozier, The Lumineers, Monsters & Men and Jurassic Park at the Royal Albert Hall.

I read nearly 200 books. Last year I was in a reading slump because I kept reading contemporary YA in an attempt to be part of the cultural conversation. I DNFed lots of books because they weren’t interesting me. This year, I took a step back and started really thinking about what I enjoy to read about. I’ve started to love reading again, and I happily ignore the conversations about books I’m not interested in without panicking. I don’t write contemporary YA, so there’s no reason for me to treat those books as competition just because they fall under the umbrella of Young Adult.

I started doing yoga and donating blood.

I was very, very happy.

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The Bad

carI passed my driving test and bought my first car! …..but it took me three attempts to pass my driving test – and I still struggle a lot still with my confidence about driving. It’s my biggest weakness. My New years resolution is to try and drive somewhere every day. I haven’t done well on this so far..

I missed a few events I was really looking forward to due to illness, particularly a panel at Waterstones Piccadilly which I was so excited and honoured to be asked to participate in.

I intended to write some more non-fiction articles, like my ones for The Toast and The Guardian Children Books in 2015, but didn’t find the time. Also, sadly, both of the publications I wrote for have since closed down (not my fault, I promise!).

I spoke about this last year, but I still struggle a lot with jealousy/envy/comparing myself to other authors. The solution, as far I’ve been able to determine, is to avoid going on Twitter as much as possible. But I feel like I’m drifting away from a brilliant community at the same time as improving my mental health. It’s a dilemma.

As I found last year, I did a lot of work for free this year – both my novella and short story were unpaid works. I think it’s all good practice and publicity, but it can be difficult at times to know that I’ve spent whole months doing full time work for free. I have started blogging a little less – I decided against doing a blog tour for TLB because I wasn’t sure of the payoff compared to the amount of work it takes.

In more positive news, last year I was very worried about my long term career plan. I had absolutely no idea whether being an author was possible permanently. This year I’m feeling a lot more settled and confident about my career and chances. Money is still tight, and the payments are very irregular, but I’m hoping to move into my own home in 2017. So I’m getting there! Slowly…

My 2017 resolutions:

  1. Drive every day
  2. Write a new novel
  3. Write a second screenplay

In other news: I’m doing an event at Waterstones Birmingham:

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The Loneliest girl on the universe was featured on Book Riot.

Simonlevvis on tumblr posted these amazing photo sets about TNT and TLB!

 

Easter eggs you might have missed in The Last Beginning

There are lots of references in my books – adding them in is one of my favourite parts of writing! Some of which are obvious, like Kate and Matt’s flashbacks to past lives. Others, you might have missed, especially if you were reading fast! So here are five tiny references in The Last Beginning.

1) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe 

In the epilogue, there are not one but three references. The first is to my next book, featuring Romy Silvers, my new character!

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2) Celebrities

You might have spotted the second reference in the extract above! Vlogger Casey Neistat and his famous skateboards gets a mention, as does Beyonce & Kim Kardashian’s famous offspring.

3) One Direction Fangirlsbeings-2

On the side of a webpage, there’s a little clickbait advert which is a (loving!) jab at Larry fans.

 

beings-34) Death and Dream from The Sandman

On the same page, I reference one of my favourite books – The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman

5) Ella’s sneaky cameo in the prologueThis one is a favourite of mine. It’s one of the very last things I added to the book, and I’m so glad i thought of it in time! If you’re writing about time travel, you just have to embrace the tropes.

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Ella also appears in The Next Together, by the way – let me know if you spot her!

Special edition of The Last Beginning!

Exciting news! Scholastic Book Clubs have commissioned a special edition of The Last Beginning, which includes the short story set at Bletchley Park ‘Another Together‘ at the end.

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Hello, feels! The gorgeous finale to The Next Together, with an exclusive new short story! Romance plus reincarnation: who said undying love is a myth…? Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Kate and Matt vanished without a trace. Now their secret daughter, Clove, has found out who she really is. She knows she’s got to find her long-lost parents. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? It’s not over for Matt and Kate – and Clove’s own (love) story is just beginning. But does love start at first sight? Or does this story begin at its end?

  • An epic and passionate time-travel love story like no other
  • Includes a totally exclusive short story set at Bletchley Park
  • Sequel to the breakthrough bestseller The Next Together
  • Technology, danger, political intrigue – plus undying love!

I’m so excited that this e-book exclusive short story is finally in print! It’s extra thick and chunky and means that you can have the whole series on your shelves together. THE DREAM.  graphic.PNG

Unfortunately it’s only available through schools, or online if you are connected to a school. You can also discuss setting up a teen book club with your school.

It’s out today, and it’s a limited edition so if you want a copy, don’t wait around! Here are some pictures of the edition, to keep you going (or make you extra jealous if you can’t get  a copy – I’m so sorry!!).

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Just a little bit thicker than the normal edition!

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In other news: There was a Bookseller article about my new book deal! Career goal achieved. My old school also said some nice things about me.

I have a Facebook page now. Like, if you wish.

The Brazilian version of The Next Together is out now! Someone posted this video review about it, which I obviously don’t understand – please don’t tell me if she’s saying lots of horrible things.

I reached 50,000 words on my fourth novel. I think I’m going to do a writing progress update soon, if anyone is interested?

FREE EBOOK + other bits & bobs

This week The Next Together is free on iTunes as their Book of the Week. It’s also free on Kobo and Amazon Kindle. (UK only, I believe, but maybe Australia too? I’m not sure.)

Amazon UK | Kobo | iBooks 

It’s currently #400 in the Kindle charts – let’s see how high we can get it!!

Some more things that have happened this week: I did an interview with Jasmine at Wenlock books.

The storylines of The Next Together and The Last Beginning are completely intertwined. Did you write both books together or did you write one first and then cross reference?
I actually didn’t know there was going to be a sequel until I finished writing The Next Together. When I got to the end I realised that there was this whole other story to be told, from the other side of things. I then wrote the first draft of The Last Beginning, and luckily it coincided quite well because I was working on the edits for TNT.

I was able to go back in and seed in lots of scenes and conversations and plot developments that I’d come up with while writing TLB. It was lots of fun, writing offhand mentions of certain characters in TNT, knowing that readers would glide over them without paying attention – and then the minute they read TLB, they’d be like “OH MY GOD. I’ve known them since the last book!””

Alice did several more excellent drawings of Clove and Ella that have literally destroyed me.

Eek! I think some more AU short stories are in order…

If you missed any of my countdown extras last week, here’s a list:

Some of my favourite reader reactions so far:

“First of all, let my start by saying that this book is so CLEVER. Honestly, the way it ties in with the first book is brilliant and well thought out. I had to grab my copy of The Next Together from my shelf and go back to certain parts now that I understood it more. There were so many ‘OOOOHHHHH’ moments and I need to praise Lauren James for her wonderful brain.” – Queen of Teen Fiction

“Unique, funny, chaotic and full of adventure, The Last Beginning picks up with a new heroine. A passionate knitter and whiz-kid programmer, Clove is smart, impetuous, hot-headed and prone to making slightly disastrous and immature decisions, but her heart’s (usually) in the right place.” – The Paper Alchemist

“The Next Together was left on a cliffhanger that had me screaming for more, and The Last Beginning answered all of the questions I had and more. It was a perfect sequel! The Last Beginning picks up in a slightly different place to The Next Together but works better for it. Although the main characters of The Next Together are in The Last Beginning, this book is really Clove’s story. I don’t usually gel with new characters in sequels, but I fell in love with Clove from the get-go. I really would like to be best friends with her. Can it be arranged please?” – Queen of Contemporary

I did a panel this weekend with Alice Oseman and Caighlan Smith about being young authors at the YLG conference. It was lots of fun – and our outfits were coordinated excellently.

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I’m currently preparing questions for an event I’m chairing at YA shot – details here:

Finally, keep an eye out on Maximum Pop on Thursday lunchtime for some exciting news….!

THE LAST BEGINNING IS RELEASED TOMORROW!! – Fancasting the characters

LESS THAN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS TO GO. DO YOU ALREADY HAVE YOUR COPY?! ARE YOU ALL FREAKING OUT AS MUCH AS I AM?

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You might remember my very detailed and enthusiastic fancasting of the characters of The Next Together. It’s the obvious one-day-to-go choice, none of you are surprised. So here’s the updated version for TLB.


Clove Sutcliffe is Ellen Page.

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My quiet, sad little darling. For a lot of the book she doesn’t have the best time of it. She’s got the perfect features to match her parents’, and Ellen Page is so expressive. Plus: gay. Very gay.

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Elenore Walker, Clove’s love interest, is Kate McKinnon.

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Firstly, it should be noted that Ella is officially the naughtiest name. That was not an accident. Ella is v v naughty, just like Kate McKinnon. The wild blonde hair, the nonsense facial expressions and the extreme gay-ness are all very Ella.

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Dr Tom Sutcliffe (née Galloway), Clove’s dad, is Karl Urban.

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Unf. Tom melted a lot of hearts in TNT, and I hope he’ll do the same in TLB. He’s clever and witty and chill, and he’s got the whole cocky thing going for him. Plus: a motorbike. Nuff said.

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Caveat: young Tom, as seen in The Next Together, is still and always will be Dylan O’Brien. He just is.

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Dr Jennifer Sutcliffe, Clove’s mum, is Jessica Hynes. 

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Jen is very smiley and mothering, with a good sense of humour.She’s also a killer scientist at the top of her field, and bisexual. Jen is my fave, tbh.

Clove’s best friend Meg is Amanda Seyfried. She’s blonde and pretty but also kind of dorky. She’s a huge fangirl and gets nervous when she doesn’t know how to deal with things.

Katherine Finchley is obviously still Rose Leslie, as so:

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Matthew Galloway is, as always, Ben Whishaw.

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And here’s the whole gang, all together. Working as a team, like all families should.

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Sources: (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x) (x)

Okay, so you’ve met the characters. You’ve got the reading soundtrack. You’re been reminded of the events of The Next Together. There’s nothing else for it, guys. You’re officially ready to read The Last Beginning. GOOD THING IT COMES OUT TOMORROW, HUH?! TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!


The Last Beginning will be published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia on 6th October 2016. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive 

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.

More extras:

A rebloggable version of this post can be found here.


Okay, you’ve finally reached the end of this terribly long countdown series. I HOPE YOU LIKED IT, BUT IF YOU DIDN’T AT LEAST IT’S OVER NOW.

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Countdown to The Last Beginning: 2 days to go! – PLAYLIST TIME

TWO DAYS TO GO. TWO! DAYS! TO! GO! WILL I BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THIS EXCITEMENT LEVEL FOR ANOTHER 48 HOURS? LETS FIND OUT TOGETHER.

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So. My favourite way to procrastinate: make playlists for my books. I love how they evolve as I write/edit/change my taste in music. I love hearing a new song on the radio and going THAT’S IT! THAT’S MY BOOK!

I’ve posted an old version of this playlist before here, along with the playlists for TNT & my enovella Another Together. I cut a lot out of the frankly insane 30 song list in the old post. This is a real breakdown of the song choices too. It should be a great soundtrack while you read the book!

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify here or below.


THE SONGS, AND WHAT THEY MEAN.

  • girls like you/the naked and the famous

This is the very first song I came up with for The Last Beginning. I listened to it on repeat while I was plotting out Clove and her story, because it perfectly summarises her character.

  • love you much better/the hush sound

This is how Clove feels about her best friend Meg at the start of the book.

  • a better son daughter/rilo kiley

Clove has a lot of feelings about herself and her parents in the book, and this really captures that.

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  • campus/vampire weekend

Clove spends a lot of time at St Andrews Uni campus, and fancies a girl she sees there, so….

  • why am i the one/fun. 

Clove’s minor breakdown over how much damn stuff she’s gotta deal with, in one song.

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  • she’s got you high/mumm-ra

When Clove meets Ella.

  • samson/regina spektor

Clove finds out some things about Kate & Matt’s place in history.

  • get home/bastille

If you’ve read the prologue, you know that this book has a time machine in. This song is about that. AKA, the “what fresh hell is this” song.

  • brave/sara bareilles 

Get your act together, Clove.

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  • become the colour/emily wells

Clove gets her act together.

  • elenore/the turtles

I mentioned this song in my acknowledgements, because I owe it that much. Clove’s feelings for Ella. Enough said.

  • she’s electric/oasis

Again….Clove is super into Ella. Why aren’t any of the songs about girls sung by girls? It makes compiling these playlists so difficult.

  • how you get the girl/taylor swift

I’m obsessed with this song because you can totally read this as Taylor Swift singing about how she’s getting a girlfriend. Like, there’s nothing in the lyrics to disprove that?? Anyway, it’s about Clove and Ella again.

  • high hopes/the vamps

Ella’s feelings about Clove.

  • riptide/taylor swift

Another T-Swift anthem for wlw.

  • philomena/the decemberists

This song is just me being really rude, really.

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Halbert knows.

  • i’m a believer/the monkees

Any song that just sound like it’s about someone complaining about all the stuff they’re going through always reminds me of Clove.

  • laughter lines/bastille

I try to avoid repeating artists in these things, but Bastille just have so many good songs about time travel, man. What is their plan for this stuff.

  • help/the beatles

Clove assembles her team of Avengers.

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  • pencil full of lead/paolo nutini

A song for GETTING THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE, DONE.

  • year 3000/busted

This is an inside joke that you’ll understand when you’ve read the book. I hope.

  • shut up and dance/walk the moon

A happily-ever-after kind of song. Everyone, stop talking and just shut up and dance. Enjoy the peace (while it lasts).

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The Last Beginning will be published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia on 6th October 2016. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive 

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.

More extras:

A rebloggable version of this post can be found here.