Related to: 'The Gift Giving: Favourite Stories'

Virago

The Kingdom and the Cave

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

The Serial Garden

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

'I wish we'll have two children called Mark and Harriet. And I hope lots of interesting and unusual things will happen to them. It would be nice if they had a fairy godmother, for instance. And a phoenix or something out of the ordinary for a pet. We could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen - say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only Mondays, or that would get a bit dull'As a result of their mother's honeymoon wish, Mark and Harriet Armitage have a fairy godmother, a pet unicorn, and are prepared for anything life can throw at them (especially, but not always, on a Monday): hatching griffins in the airing cupboard, Latin lessons with a ghost, furious Furies on the doorstep, and an enchanted garden locked inside a cereal packet. Life with the Armitages can be magical, funny, terrifying - but never, ever dull.

Brandon T. Snider

BRANDON T. SNIDER writes books about Transformers, Minions and even Batman! When he's not writing superhero stories, he's either on TV or eating as much cheese as possible in order to unlock cheese-related superpowers-which is not working.

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.

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.

Dave Bardin

DAVE BARDIN is an illustrator by day and, well, night too. When he's not drawing in his Stronghold of Seclusion he patrols the streets, protecting the innocent and vanquishing evil. Strangely, the source of his powers is also his one weakness--MASHED POTATOES!

E. Nesbit

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) is perhaps most famous for writing The Railway Children and Five Children and It, but she was extremely prolific and wrote or collaborated on more than sixty children's books. Nesbit is today recognised as one of the most influential and innovative children's writers that ever lived, and is cited as an inspiration by many contemporary authors, including J. K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jacqueline Wilson, Kate Saunders and Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Even C. S. Lewis acknowledged the debt his Narnia series owed to her work - particularly the Bastable and Psammead trilogies.

Elizabeth Waite

Elizabeth Waite was born in Tooting, South London and lived there until she was 34. During the war she worked as a bus conductress at Merton Garage. In 1956 she and her husband moved to Devon and bought their first guesthouse. Now retired, Elizabeth lives in East Sussex. An East End Christmas is her eighteenth novel.

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).

Helen Dardik

Helen Dardik is a professional illustrator and a surface pattern designer based in Ottowa, Ontario. Born by the Black Sea, she lived in Siberia for a time and then moved to Israel, where she studied art and design. She later got a graphic design degree and found work as a designer and illustrator in Canada.

Honest Lee

Honest Lee is a liar! You can't trust a thing he writes. He insists that his stories are true. And they're totally not! Then again, I could be Honest Lee, which would mean I'm lying and my stories are true. What's the truth? I have no idea. Honestly.

Ivy Pembroke

Ivy Pembroke is a law professor who specializes in copyright and trademark law, with a focus on fanfiction. An enthusiastic writer all her life, she loves the backspace button, overuses italics in emails with friends, and thinks there is little better than a story that makes you smile. She splits her time between Mississippi and her home state of Rhode Island.

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".

Karen Harrington

Karen Harrington was born in Texas, where she still lives with her husband and children. She is the author of Sure Signs of Crazy and Courage for Beginners. You can visit her karenharringtonbooks.com. -

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.

L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery was born in 1874 on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she spent her childhood living with her grandparents in an old farmhouse. A prolific writer, she published many short stories, poems and novels, many of which were inspired by the years she spent on the beautiful Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables and its sequels have always been amongst the most popular of children's classics. Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942 and was buried on her beloved island.

Lisa Dickenson

Lisa Dickenson is the pseudonym for Beyoncé. OK, FINE, THAT'S NOT TRUE. Lisa lives by the Devon seaside, stuffing cream teas in the gobs of anyone who comes to visit, and writing stuff down that she hopes is funny. Her first novel was the copyright-infringing Sweet Valley Twins: The Twins Holiday Horror, which she wrote in primary school and gave up on after five pages. Twenty-ish years later Lisa went on to be a *real author* and wrote the Novelicious Debut of the Year, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. She went on to write three other novels - You Had Me at Merlot, Mistletoe on 34th Street and Catch Me if You Cannes - and is currently working on her next novel, The Lake Sisters of Ciderwood. Follow Lisa online for all her book news and Beyoncé-obsessing:www.lisadickenson.comTwitter @LisaWritesStuffFacebook /LisaWritesStuffInstagram lisawritesstuff

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.