Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Carnaby by Cate Sampson - Review & Interview

Carnaby by Cate Sampson

Summary from Goodreads

Sarah aka Carnaby has a tough life, but it suddenly gets a whole lot tougher when her mother is found murdered, her sister goes into labour and her new baby nephew is threatened with being taken into care. Sarah doesn't remember finding her mother's body, but she does remember hearing about other murders on the estate where they live. Is there a connection - and can Sarah find out what is going on, without putting herself and her family in even more danger?

 You can check this book out on Amazon

My Review

Carnaby blew me away in so many different ways! What a striking crime debut from Cate Sampson, who writes compellingly!

I really liked how this was so real and true to darker parts of peoples lives. Today's society has so many struggling families and so many children are left to fend for themselves in unsafe environments, and some of the time they are left wondering where their next meal will be coming from. Cate Sampson has written about these topics wonderfully.

Sarah Carnaby grew up in such a home and I was very angry at what she had to go through. But she is a brilliant teenager that has been hardened by life, but it has left her with a very good head on her shoulders. She is very easy to relate to and I really did like her a whole lot.

Sarah finds her mothers body in their grotty little flat. She is a witness for the prosecution in the trial, but Sarah doesn't give away much because she fears she will loose what she has left for a family....

The storyline grabbed a tight hold of me and I found myself rushing along to find out what was going to happen. Everything is paced perfectly and there were so many twisty turns that I really didn't know what to expect next!

I felt so deeply for Sarah, her sister and also her sister's baby. I felt angry and upset that their mum and the system failed them so badly! But their story will be relevant in some way or another to people out there - probably more people than you may think.

The end section itself I didn't see coming and it was shockingly brilliant! That's all I will say on that!

I think Carnaby is a fantastic young adult crime book that will easily enthrall readers. It is written in a very nitty gritty way and is peppered with emotion and plenty of shockers. It's most definitely not to be missed!

*Special thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy*

4 / 5 Stars!

 About the Author

Cate Sampson has worked for the BBC, as Beijing Correspondent for The Times and, most recently, as a creative writing tutor. She is best known as Catherine Sampson, the author of several successful crime novels for adults. She lives in China with her family, but visits the UK regularly. You can find out more at


Tell us a little bit about yourself?   

I used to be a journalist, and I spent years based in Beijing working as a journalist for a British newspaper (I studied Chinese at university). I'm not a journalist any more, I spend all my time writing fiction, but at the moment I still live in Beijing, where my husband works (as a journalist) and our three teenage children go to school. We're all looking forward to moving back to Britain next year, although my children all grew up here, so it will be a big change for them. The cat's going to have a bit of a shock, too.

Where did the inspiration come from to sit down and start writing Carnaby?   

The librarian at my children's school asked me to write the beginning of a story for something called Write Path, in which the beginning of a story is passed from student to student, and each person adds a bit to the story until it is finished. I wrote the beginning of the story in about twenty minutes, not really thinking about it. After all, if you're just writing the beginning, you don't have to think about how you might develop the story, because someone else will do that! But when I finished writing, I realised I had a really strong character, Sarah Carnaby, and I knew that she lived in South London on a very tough estate, and I knew that she was in a great deal of trouble. So the students wrote one version of Carnaby, and I wrote another.   

What was the hardest part about writing Carnaby?   

I know my characters are fictional, of course. After all, I'm the one making them up. But I still find it really difficult to make awful things happen to them. When you're writing crime, that's quite a problem. Poor Sarah really suffered.     

How long did it take to write?   

It took about a year for a first complete draft, and then a lot of tinkering and editing after that. As books go, it was a fairly smooth process.   

Can you share one (or more) of your favourite quotes?   

'Which would you rather have? Bog roll or counselling?'    

Who is your favourite character (if you can choose) and why?   

I have a deep affection for Sarah Carnaby. She often makes mistakes, and she's not very trusting of people, because she's had such a tough time. But despite all this, she has a really strong sense of who she is. She is utterly loyal, and she tries to do the right thing, even when it gets her deeper into trouble.    

Can you tell us about some of your favourite reads?    

Recently I read Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, for the first time, and was captivated by the elegance of the composition, and by the portrait of a clever and sympathetic young man struggling to make sense of his life. I also read Heroic by Phil Earle, about two brothers, one of whom goes to war. I was completely absorbed by this fast-moving and powerful story. I was introduced to Holes by Louis Sachar, and loved the amazing combination of narrative drive, humour, and a moving portrayal of friendship.   

Are you working on any writing projects at the moment that you can share with us? 

I've nearly finished my next book. Like Carnaby, it is a crime novel aimed at young adult readers.

Sixteen year old Leo has a mysterious and tragic past which her parents try to keep from her. One day, a boy called Raffael approaches Leo in the kickboxing gym where she trains and befriends her. It's soon clear that Raffael may not be who he says he is, and that someone wants to do Leo harm. As Leo tries to unravel two mysteries, one in the past and one the present, she finds that the two are entwined. When her investigations trigger death threats, she knows that her entire family is in danger.

A lot of the action in this book is set in Naples, a strange and wonderful city in southern Italy. I had to go there twice just for research purposes!

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