Related to: 'The Gift Giving: Favourite Stories'

Virago

The Kingdom and the Cave

Joan Aiken, Peter Bailey
Contributors:
Joan Aiken, Peter Bailey

'The Under People. They live in a huge Cave. They are thought to be boring upwards. Giant worms and flying ants. Underground magic.'Mickle, the palace cat, knows the kingdom is in danger. He can feel it in his whiskers and he has found a mysterious note in the royal library... (Yes, of course he can read, and speak - if he chooses to!) Mickle can't trust the King and Queen with his mission, so he and Prince Michael, with the help of their animal friends (and quite a bit of magic!), set out on a perilous quest to find the sinister Under People, discover their secret power and save the Kingdom of Astalon.In her first novel, written when she was only a teenager, Joan Aiken showcases the imagination, wit and storytelling zest that would lead to classics like Arabel's Raven and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Virago

The Serial Garden

Joan Aiken, Peter Bailey
Contributors:
Joan Aiken, Peter Bailey

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, Deathless and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

Charles M. Schulz

Charles Monroe Schulz (1922 -2000) was a 20th-century American cartoonist best known for his Peanuts comic strip. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dena and Carl Schulz. His nickname "Sparky" was given by his uncle, after the horse Spark Plug in the Barney Google comic strip. He attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he skipped two half-grades. As a result, he was the youngest in his class when he attended St. Paul Central High years later, which may have been the reason why he was so shy and isolated as a young teenager. After his mother died in February, 1943, he was drafted into the army and sent to Camp Campbell in Kentucky. He was then shipped to Europe two years later to fight in World War II. After leaving the United States Army in 1945, he took a job as an art teacher at Art Instruction Inc., which he attended before he was drafted. First published by Robert Ripley in his Ripley's Believe It or Not!, then in a series of chronicles, The Saturday Evening Post, his first regular comic strip, Li'l Folks was published in 1947 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. (It was in this strip that Charlie Brown first appeared, as well as a dog that looked much like Snoopy). In 1950 he approached the United Features Syndicate with his best strips from Li'l Folks, and Peanuts made its first appearance on October 2, 1950. This strip became one of the most popular comic strips of all time. He also had a short-lived sports-oriented comic strip called It's Only a Game (1957-1959), but abandoned that strip due to the demands of the success of Peanuts.

Charlotte Betts

Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings.Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children had grown up. The Apothecary's Daughter is her debut novel and won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year in 2010, the Romantic Novelists' Association Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers in 2011 and the RoNA's Historical Category award for 2013. The sequel, The Painter's Apprentice was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the Festival of Romance's Best Historical Read Award in 2012. The Spice Merchant's Wife was published in 2013 and won the Festival of Romance's Best Historical Read Award in 2013.

Chris Brookmyre

Chris Brookmyre was a journalist before becoming a full-time novelist with the publication of his award-winning debut Quite Ugly One Morning, which established him as one of Britain's leading crime authors. His Jack Parlabane novels have sold more than one million copies in the UK alone, and Black Widow won both the McIlvanney Prize and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.

Colby Sharp

Colby Sharp is a co-founder of the online community Nerdy Book Club and its off-shoot conference, Nerd Camp, two popular monthly Twitter chats, #Titletalk, #SharpSchu, and The Yarn, a podcast about bookmaking and the creative process.

Dustin Mackay

Dustin Mackay is an animator and story artist for Disney and most recently worked on Planes: Fire & Rescue and Tinkerbell: Legend of the Neverbeast. Dustin lives in Cypress, California.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975) is increasingly recognised as one of the best British writers of the twentieth century. She wrote her first book, At Mrs Lippincote's, during the war while her husband was in the Royal Air Force, and this was followed by eleven further novels and a children's book, Mossy Trotter. Her acclaimed short stories appeared in publications including Vogue, the New Yorker and Harper's Bazaar.

Francesca Hornak

Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Red, Grazia and Stylist. Her column History Of The World In 100 Modern Objects first appeared in The Sunday Times Style Magazine in 2013 and ran for two years, later becoming a title with Portico. Francesca is also the author of a second non-fiction book, Worry with Mother (Portico).

Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous bestselling novels, including The Little Shop of Happy Ever After and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, which are also published by Sphere. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café won the 2012 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller, as was Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2013. For more about Jenny, visit her website and her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter: @jennycolgan.

Jilly Bond

JILLY BOND has recorded over 300 audiobooks and won four Audiofile Earphones Awards. She also regularly appears on stage, and has appeared at the National Theatre in "Island", at the Birmingham Repertory in "Jump!", Manchester Lowry in "Transmissions", the English Theatre of Hamburg in "Othello" and "Mrs Warren's Profession" and on the Edinburgh and London Fringes, including at the Finborough as human-rights lawyer Fethiye Cetin in "I Wish to Die Singing" which won the Best Play UK Studio Theatre Awards. She has recorded over 100 radio plays for the BBC, as well as playing Bridget in "The Archers", and TV work has includedDr Greene in "Doctors", Dr Jannatie in "Judge John Deed" and roles in "Comedy Nation", "People Like Us", "My Hero" & "Alastair McGowan's Big Impression".

Kent Clark

KENT CLARK is a superhero by day, and a writer by night. When he's not getting cats out of trees or saving the world from monstrous alien supervillains, he's reading a book. He also has a terrible weakness-he can't say no to tacos, comic books, or video games.

Liz Climo

Liz Climo grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Los Angeles after college to work as a character artist on The Simpsons. She started a comic blog, LizClimo.tumblr.com, where Rory and his dad first appeared in 2012. Liz currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Colin, and their daughter, Marlow.

M.C. Beaton

M.C. Beaton is the author of both the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series, as well as numerous Regency romances. Her Agatha Raisin books are currently being turned into a TV series on Sky. She lives in Paris and in a Cotswold village that is very much like Agatha's beloved Carsely.

Matt Christopher

Matt Christopher is the beloved and bestselling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

Max Brunner

Max Brunner began his professional career as lead writer for David World's Press's popular web comic, Barbiespawn. He's a hardcore comic book nerd and a debut author. Max lives in Cypress, California.

Nina Bawden

Nina Bawden (1925-2012) was one of Britain's best-loved writers for both adults and children. Several of her children's books - Carrie's War, a Phoenix Award winner;The Peppermint Pig, which won the Guardian Fiction Award; and Keeping Henry - have become contemporary classics. She wrote over forty novels, slightly more than half of which are for adults, and she was shortlisted for the 1987 Man Booker Prize for Circles of Deceit. She received the prestigious S T Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature in 2004, and in 2010 The Birds on the Trees was shortlisted for the Lost Booker of 1970.

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is the author and illustrator of many bestselling children's books, including Children Make Terrible Pets and The Curious Garden. He is the recipient of a Caldecott Honor for Creepy Carrots!, two E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book award, and a Children's Choice Award for Illustrator of the Year.

Peter Kenny

Thirty years working as an actor, musician, designer and director in Theatre and Radio; Peter has worked for: A&BC Theatre Co. The Royal Shakespeare Co. and The BBC Radio Drama Co. An award winning narrator of audio-books he has recorded over 100 titles, everything from: Iain M. Banks, Neil Gaiman, and Andrzej Sapkowski to Claire North, Jonas Jonasson Jeremy Vine and Paul O'Grady. He has worked with many of the major publishing houses including, Little Brown, Orion/Gollancz, Hachette, Harper, Hodder, Pan MacMillan, ISIS, RNIB, Podium and Penguin. Visit www.peterkenny.com @PeterKennyVoice