Into The Belly of the Beast: Shane Hegarty’s Darkmouth

Anyone who has known me for a long time will know that I am most likely to be found with my nose in a book. As a kid, I could go missing for hours and be found squashed in a corner somewhere, book in hand. As an adult, I often complain that my bag is too heavy, only to open it and find a tiny library inside. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that I found out what kind of person I wanted to be in the pages of hundreds upon hundreds of books. As someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself, I collect heroes and heroines who struggle with who they want to be, whether they can really be the person that they’re expected to be. Of course, I’ve never had to brandish a sword or cross vast, strange lands on a mystical quest, but nonetheless, I found friends in characters that I recognised myself in. And I found another in Finn, the hero of Shane Hegarty’s young adult series, Darkmouth.

darkmouth shane hegarty finn

Finn probably regretting some of his decisions here. Illustration by the amazing James de la Rue.

Full disclosure here: Shane is a friend of the family. I know a lot of really brilliant people, so it was only a matter of time before one of them did something really brilliant. And my god, this is really brilliant. I read the entire first book in one evening. The series takes place in a small Irish town called Darkmouth, which is strikingly similar to Shane’s hometown of Skerries. But Darkmouth is different. Because in Darkmouth, there be monsters. In ancient times, the world was filled with portals, through which enormous mythical monsters, called Legends, escaped into our world. Darkmouth holds the last one. Fortunately, the world is protected by Hugo, a fearsome Legend hunter, and Finn, his young son. Finn is being trained to take up the family business. Except that he’d really rather just be a vet. I shan’t spoil it for you but this is a gorgeous, hilarious portrait of a young boy struggling to live up to his legendary father, all while fending off literal demons left, right and centre. I caught up with Shane and his talented illustrator James de la Rue to find out more about the men behind the Legends.

Shane, what first gave you the idea for the Darkmouth series?

I’d always wanted to write fun, adventurous, fantastical fiction but took years to build up the confidence to actually give it a go. The irony is that I was writing for years before that – as a journalist and as the author of two books of popular history. In the end, I came up with this not particularly original idea – a boy fights monsters that invade his town – but knew it offered a great starting point to explore two worlds. And for jokes. Lots of jokes.

If you were a Legend, what kind of Legend do you think you’d be?

I’d like to be one with seven heads and fourteen arms so I could write these books quicker, without having to interrupt the all-important coffee-drinking. In the books I choose from existing myths because a) I’m lazy and b) it’s fun to imagine what would be the practical, day-to-day reality of having, like an Orthrus, a dog’s body but a snake for a tail.

shane hegarty darkmouth

Illustration by James de la Rue.

 

You take a lot of inspiration from your hometown…ever seen any monsters or mythical creatures lurking?

I’m not allowed say, for fear of libelling someone! But writing is often a game of “what ifs”. What if my town had been invaded by monsters of myth for a thousand years? What if you had to fight off invading minotaurs and then go back to school? Again, I’m lazy. This approach works for me.

(Note from Fiona: I wish my laziness was this productive. When I’m lazy, I tend to binge watch Pretty Little Liars, rather than casually penning a bestselling book series)

The latest instalment of the series, Worlds Explode, has just hit bookshelves, what should we expect from Finn and the gang this time around?

The first book is about Finn living in the shadow of his dad, but the second is about how he has to cope when his dad isn’t around. It’s also a glimpse into the world of the monsters, which was always the plan from the very beginning, but also turns out to be just what the readers were asking for. As it’s only just out, the reviews are only coming in. I met one boy who said it was the best book he had ever read. That boy happens to be my son, and I was buying him ice-cream at the time, but still…

What is it like to have kids sharing your stories and loving them so much?

(Note from Fiona: Can you hear the innate jealousy in this question?)

I’ve four kids, but only my 10-year-old son is old enough to read and enjoy the stories. The best bit of the whole adventure for me was the night he wouldn’t turn his light out because he needed to read on and see what happened. That was a relief. I’ve to write four of these books and if my own son didn’t enjoy them it was going to be a long few years.

James, I am completely obsessed with your illustrations. Where do you get your inspiration from?

My main inspiration is from the writing! There is of course a mixture of influences from favourite illustrators such as EH Shepard, Chris Riddell, Edward Gorey, Mervyn Peake, Helen Oxenbury, John Burningham, plus any number of movies, TV shows, etc., but the more vivid the writing, the more vivid the images are in my head, same with any reader. I just go one step further and draw what I see.

Do you have a favourite illustration from the Darkmouth series? Why?

I’m quite keen on one from Darkmouth: Worlds Explode in which Finn is inside a room made entirely from the bones of demonic beasts (being careful with spoilers here because spoilers). It’s a tense moment in the story and the effect of the starched, whiteness of the remains comes over reasonably well. Essentially it’s one of those rare illustrations of mine I don’t mind looking at for more than five seconds.

shane hegarty darkmouth

Five seconds? Hands up who could look at this for hours.

If you could be a Legend, what kind of Legend do you think you’d be?

My kids think I’m a legend already so I know how that feels. Not going to last forever probably. Although if you pushed me I’d have to say something with wings. Who’d want to be a Legend if you were stuck on the ground, especially if it was infested?

What drew you to the Darkmouth series?

The concept, as it was initially described, was simple and I just thought “I’d draw that”. Then by the time I’d read a couple of excerpts (I was requested to do a couple of character sketches) the dialogue in particular showed me this was going to be good. Finn was instantly likeable, and I think that’s a difficult trick to pull off so quickly. Even though I had a worryingly full schedule at the time (always a good problem) I didn’t want to let this one slip away.

Where can we find more of your work?

I’ve done plenty of Spy Dog books which are widely available; I’ve done some Terry Deary World War Tales recently and have lots of covers to do for him over the next few weeks; Archie Greene is a magical series with book #1 already out there; also Myth Raiders, a series whose concept is not totally dissimilar to Darkmouth, but with a different tenor; there are other things scattered around too, and the list is building nicely. I remember thinking none of this would ever be possible.

You can find Shane on Twitter @ShaneHegarty and James @PencilsMcDraw.

United Arab Excellent

So, my laptop having the world’s biggest meltdown has meant that I haven’t blogged in a while. Which meant that I never got to tell you about my super awesome post-Australia stopover in Dubai. It has now been over a month since this actually happened, which means that the acceptable bragging time has probably now passed.

BUT I DON’T CARE. The two days we spent in Dubai were probably the most entirely instagrammable days I’ve ever had, so you’ll all just have to deal with it.

We arrived at the luxurious Kempinski hotel, located on the palm of Dubai, in the early hours of the morning, following an eleven hour flight from Perth, so I didn’t really appreciate how beautiful it was, beyond the exquisite comfyness of a bed after an entire night on a plane. So my jaw pretty much dropped when I woke up the next morning to this:

DSCF0446Now, I know there are plenty of travel bloggers out there who probably stay in rooms like this all the time, but you guys, I have never stayed in a hotel room like this in my life. It made my Gleneagles room look like a Travelodge. I totally played it cool by screaming, doing three circuits and then sitting in every single chair to ascertain exactly which one made me look most like Princess Grace of Monaco.

Once we had all shaken off our jetlag a little, we headed down to check out the hotel’s private beach. Obviously.

kempinski dubai beachWe were each given a towel, allowed to choose a sun lounger, and then had a member of hotel staff drag it around until optimal sun exposure/city view/water proximity had been reached. I’ve never been waited on like that before, so I felt consistently awful asking the staff to do things, but they were so lovely about it and made me feel really at ease.

I’d love to say that we went and explored the city, or took advantage of the hotel’s watersport programme, but I just lay on that lounger all day, reading the Time Traveller’s Wife and trying not to get my ginger, freckly self burnt.

We headed back up to our absolute palace of a room and I had a long, hot bath, because when you don’t have a bath in your flat, every opportunity has to be seized. Even if it is 35 degrees outside. Once we were all feeling a bit fresher, we headed down for dinner, which was served in one of the hotel’s private beach cabanas. Again, obviously.

kempinski dubai beach cabana restaurantI don’t think I’ve ever eaten in such a beautiful place. The colourful lights of the city, reflected in the still water made a stunning contrast to the warm, dim lighting of the cabanas. After the food, we headed a little further down the beach to warm up by the flickering light of a fire pit.

kempinski dubaiIf I could have, I’d have sat there all night drinking cocktails and watching the stars come out, but between the beanbags, the crackling of the wood, the heat from the fire, and of course, the unmanageable jetlag, my eyelids soon started to feel pretty heavy. We headed back to the room, stopping to admire how gorgeous the hotel grounds looked by night.

kempinski dubai

Can we just talk about how cute this photo is for a sec?

kempinski dubaiBut the jetlag did have its advantages. It meant that come 5:30am, I was awake and ready for one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. I feel like there’s been a lot of “best I’ve ever seen” in this blog post, but that’s just Dubai. It doesn’t do things by halves. Me, mum and Sophie pulled on our clothes and headed down to the beach to watch the sun rise over the city.

I’ll never do this justice, so I’m gonna go ahead and let the photos do the talking here.

DSCF0509 DSCF0538 DSCF0540Once the sun was high in the sky and the temperature started to climb, we went back up to the room for room service breakfast on the balcony. This was also the first time I ever got room service, and it’s totally awesome. The guy brought it on a big silver tray and everything.

DSCF0548Look at that breakfast. I ate so much pineapple that I actually started to worry about burning my tongue. Amazing. Another couple of hours lying by the pool and on the beach and it was time to head back to the airport, all too soon.

The hotel was genuinely incredible. If you’re looking for somewhere to totally relax, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. We were there for a full day and a half, and never felt like we had to leave the hotel. And there were loads of things that we didn’t even try! We didn’t get massages on the beach, or hit the spa, or go swimming in the pool, or smoke shisha pipes in the big squishy armchairs by the fountain…if you’re looking for somewhere to make you feel like a total princess, this is the place.

Build-A-Blog Goodies: Miscellany*

Welcome back to the Great Goody Bag Trawl, 2014! Yesterday, we talked about the amazing workshop run by Antonia Mariconda, and the skincare goodies that I found in my goody bag. As a major skincare junkie, I was thrilled at the lovely face pampering products in the bag, but there were also loads of other things to play with, and today is the day to try them out!

Quick goody bag reminder:

beauty blogger goody bag popart glossybox

The Base Makeup

SONY DSC

Sadly, being the human equivalent of Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Beauty UK CC Cream and the Essence Soft and Natural Makeup were too dark for me, and I figured it’d be pretty unfair to show off a potentially great product by uploading a picture of me looking like Snooki. But be sure to follow me over on Twitter and I’ll retweet any reviews that my fellow workshoppers put up! Or, if you’d like to try them out yourself, give me a shout in the comments and I can send them to you.

However! The Rimmel Matte BB Cream in light was just about perfect for my skin, so I decided to give it a go. I’ve never tried a BB cream before, so was excited to try this one.

SONY DSC

This is me with absolutely no skin makeup on. I have fairly good skin, with no major breakouts, but as you can see, I have a pretty uneven skin tone, with red patches on my nose, forehead and cheeks, as well as shiny skin from worshipping at the altar of Dominos too much.

SONY DSC

This is me wearing the BB cream (and nothing else). I was pretty impressed with how much this evened out my colouring and generally brightened up my face. It also has SPF 15, which is a big, big plus for me – I pretty much never wear sunscreen, even though I know I’m going to end up with a face like Alex Salmond if I don’t start. To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that BB creams aren’t just fancy tinted moisturisers, but either way, this would be great if you’re the kind of girl who likes a little coverage but doesn’t want the feeling of a face full of makeup.

self tanner

We were also gifted this Gorgeous Bronze self tanner, but due to aforementioned ghostiness, I decided that the medium/dark shade probably wouldn’t be very flattering on me. So again, keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I will be sure to retweet any reviews from my less pigmentally challenged friends. And if you guys would like to give this a go and tell me what you think, let me know down in the comments!

The Eyes

I’m a little nervous when it comes to eye makeup, I’ll be honest. Having deep set eyes means that a lot of the time, eye makeup will make me look like I’ve been punched in the face. But mascara is my absolute desert island must. I can take or leave foundation and lipstick most days, but you will seldom see me outside without a quick swipe of mascara, so I was excited to have not one, but two new mascaras to try out!

SONY DSC

In the name of science, and to avoid having more pictures of my face than absolutely necessary, I decided to try both mascaras at the same time and compare. In this photo, the So Susan Flutter Mascara is on the left and the Essence Lashes Go Wild is on the right.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

I was actually glad that I put both on at the same time because I don’t think I’d have noticed the difference as much if I was looking at them separately, but looking at them side by side, it was obvious that the Lashes Go Wild gave me significantly more length and curl. Both mascaras went on beautifully, with no clumping and both are lovely and black. The So Susan Flutter mascara lives up to its name by giving you pretty, natural, fluttery eyelashes, but if you’re like me and like a little more oomph, I’d recommend the Lashes Go Wild mascara. Both products are also cruelty free, which is amazing for you animal lovers out there.

As well as the two mascaras, our goody bags also contained pretty eyeshadow duos from Essence in irresistible smoky eye.

SONY DSC

The palette contained two shades, a silvery-lavender highlight and a dark slate-grey shade, perfect for creating pretty smoky eyes. I had a bit of a heart attack when I saw the dark colours, but the shadows actually go on much softer than they look in the palette.

Swatches, dry.

Swatches, dry.

SONY DSC

Swatches, wet.

The shadows can either be applied as normal, or can be applied with a wet brush for more intense colour payoff. I applied the highlight all over my eyelid with a fluffy brush and then pressed the darker shade into my lashline and round the outer corner of my eye for a natural, girly look.

SONY DSC

The shadows were just dark enough to provide a bit of definition and bring out the green in my eyes, while avoiding that classic fist-in-the-face look. To my surprise, I actually really liked this palette.

The Nail Polishes

I am obsessed with my nails. I absolutely love painting them, and tend to let them grow until it becomes physically difficult to carry out everyday tasks before I cut them.

nail polish review

This is the Ciate´ London Paint Pot in talent scout and oh my lord I love it. I mean, do I even need to say anything? Look how great that colour is. It’s the quintessential Daphne from Mystery Inc purple, and what more do we really need in life? The nail varnish comes with a nice big brush (small nail varnish brushes are a serious pet peeve), meaning the full nail can be covered in three strokes. It dried quickly and only took two coats to hit a glossy opaque finish. Go buy this guys, seriously, it’s great.

nail polish review

This is the Essence Colour & Go Polish in snazzy pumpkin (I didn’t know that was the name of it until right this second and I’m so damn happy), and was I ready to hate it. I took one look at this bottle and got ready to write it off. I mean, who wants nails the colour of a traffic cone, right? Turns out that I DO, all day, every day, for the rest of my life. This colour, which looks hilarious in the bottle, is absolutely beautiful on. It manages to be simultaneously funky and pretty and looks totally kickass with pale Casper skin. It also took ONE COAT to be totally opaque, in comparison with my Nails Inc orange, which takes at least three or four. I am in love. My nails are so very, very happy with this goody bag.

The Perfume

Well, there was bound to be something in the gift bag that I didn’t like, and I’m sorry to say, dear readers, that we have reached that point. I’m gutted that I didn’t like the Yves Rocher Quelques Notes D’Amour, because it came in the most adorable tiny packaging I’ve ever seen in my life. And I am a sucker for tiny packaging. The blurb for this perfume claims that it will recreate the feeling of falling in love through sensuous rose and patchouli. For me? Not so much. This perfume reminded me a lot of Dior’s classic, Poison, which I’ve also never liked, so if you love Poison, it might be your dream come true! I did like the scent better the longer I wore it, it softened and lost it’s sharpness, and the woodiness started to come through, but I don’t think it’ll be becoming a regular on my dressing table. As if I have a dressing table and not an unorganised box in my wardrobe.

The Miscellany

There are a couple of products that haven’t gotten a shoutout yet, because I think they’ll need more than one use to get to know them properly, including a genuinely terrifying tongue scraper.

IMG_4224

So if there’s anything you’re curious about from the goody bag that I haven’t mentioned yet, do keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts as they happen. All in all, this was a bloody amazing goody bag, and has done a great job of introducing me to new brands that I think I’ll be investigating in the very near future (hello, Essence!). Very happy, very pampered, very lucky.

What’s the best goody bag you’ve ever gotten? Did you all know about Essence already and now think that I’m super-lame? Should I just man up and get a Glossybox subscription? Chat with me in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Build-A-Blog Goodies: Skincare*

Having spent a thoroughly glamorous morning learning the secrets of beauty blogging at Antonia Mariconda’s Build-A-Beauty-Blog event, I spent a thoroughly unglamorous afternoon making my way home in a monsoon. By the time I arrived back at the flat, I looked like this:

girl blogger

Not ideal.

I was soaked, shivering and definitely ready for a bit of TLC. Fortunately, the goody bags at Antonia’s events are basically legendary, so I had plenty of supplies at my fingertips to play with!

beauty blogger goody bag

face masks skincare popart glossybox

Excellent point number one. The inclusion of a Glossybox meant that I had a box within a box to open. Seriously guys, there is nothing I love more than opening parcels.

SONY DSC

So then, when inside that box, I found another adorable little parcel, I basically lost it.

glossybox inside

I disapprove of straightening your hair more than once a day, so enjoy my big hair.

I have a whole lot of stuff here to talk about, so in the interests of shorter-than-Moby-Dick length blog posts, and because I don’t like to put makeup back on my skin after facialing it up, today, I’ll be looking at the skincare goodies in my bag!

(Obviously, I won’t be able to tell you about the long term effects of these products because I’m not magic, so I’ll do a follow up post at the end of the month to let you know how my skin is liking them. Follow up posts, woo!)

Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme

exuviance cleanser review

I’ve been having lots of luck with the Lush Ultrabland cleanser I got at Fashion’s Night Out, so it’s going to take a heck of a cleanser to knock that off its perch. The Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme boasts a conditioning ingredient list, including Polyhydroxy Acid, a supposedly gentler chemical exfoliant than our beloved AHA’s. I applied a small pump of the cleansing creme to my face, massaged in for a minute and then removed with a microfibre face cloth. Interesting side note: this cleanser smells exactly like Bailey’s. It actually made me grin when I squirted it onto my hand. I’m not sure what that says about my relationship with Bailey’s, or whether this will put you off, but I liked it. The cleanser took off my makeup without leaving that horrible squeaky clean, my-face-is-three-sizes-too-tight feeling. As someone with seriously dry skin, this is fairly rare and very much appreciated. The cleanser left my face clean, soft and glowy…which is basically everything that I’m looking for on first use.

Resurf.A.Stic Face

resurfastic review

The old school deodorant look of this stick initially put me off, but actually, this is one of my favourite things I tried today. For those of you who still like a bit of physical exfoliation, the resurf.a.stic face combines gentle microdermabrasion with moisturising ingredients. I know there has been a big step away from physical exfoliants in the skincare community, but my skin does pretty well with it. If you have really sensitive skin, or have had a bad reaction to physical exfoliants in the past, I’d maybe give this one a miss. The exfoliation is gentle, but you can feel it. To use, you simply wet this stick and rub it all over your face in circles. This felt pretty weird, I’m not gonna lie. And I could feel little pieces of skin collecting on my face, which was gross, but weirdly satisfying. BUT. When I rinsed the product off and felt my skin, my jaw actually fell open. It felt like I had been bathing in the blood of unicorns. But I hadn’t. I’d been rubbing a deodorant microdermabrasion stick on my face. I’ll keep you posted on whether my skin reacts to this throughout the month, but for now, I’m one very happy, very smooth bunny.

Etre Belle Liplift Peel

How scary does this sound?! But since I was exfoliating my face, I figured I might as well give my lips a go as well. Time to confess to my worst ever beauty habit: I bite my lips. I don’t mean in a cute, Anastasia Steele, aren’t I so sexy way. I mean I will literally gnaw pieces of skin from my lips. I’d love to say I do it when I’m nervous, but I do it all the time. I think I might have mild dermatillomania. This does not leave them in the best state: bleedy, chapped lips are not a good canvas for lipsticks. Despite this, I always thought that lip scrubs were one of those things everyone said you needed, but you don’t really. I am converted. One minute with this scrubby mixture sitting on my lips and they were as smooth as I can remember them being. Big thank you to Glossybox, who included this in their gift bags.

Timeless Truth Bio-Cellulose Apple Stem Cell Collagen Mask

SONY DSC

Anyone with an interest in skincare will have noticed the influx of Korean inspired skincare of late. From double cleansing, to snail gels, to the incorporation of essences and serums, Korean skincare is where it’s at. And sheet masks are no exception. Sheet masks are soaked in skin conditioning ingredients, which are then transferred into your skin. This particular one uses stem cells extracted from apples to help repair damage and moisturise unhappy skin. And if that didn’t convince you, you get to look like this for 20 minutes:

sheet mask review

Quid pro quo, Clarisse.

Scaring the everloving Christ out of your boyfriend is optional, but very much recommended. I put this on my newly scrubbed skin and relaxed with a cup of acai berry tea from Slimming Solutions. I’m not trying to lose weight, so don’t know how good my review of the tea will be, but it tasted yummy, is apparently a superfood and adds to my burgeoning tea collection, so I sipped away on it quite happily. After 20 minutes, I peeled off my mask (so much fun) and massaged the remaining apple serum into my face. Not being a skincare expert, I can’t vouch for the magical properties of the ingredients, but they left my skin looking plump, bouncy and healthy. Lovely. I’m saving the other two for my flight to Australia at the end of the year.

Nuxe Masque Creme Fraiche De Beaute

Snip20141004_1

This was another Glossybox offering – thanks Glossybox! This mask is a 24 hour moisturising mask from luxury French brand Nuxe. The mask smelled strongly of roses, so if you aren’t a fan of floral scents, I’d skip this one. I enjoyed it though, it made me feel like Mary Pickford. Not enough like Mary Pickford to actually eat a rose, but then, she was a gorgeous movie star, so what do I know? I massaged the mask into my skin and let it sink in for 10 minutes. I really liked the way this mask felt on my skin, it was really cooling and refreshing.

Rajeunir Moisture Serum

SONY DSC

I finished up my facial with a quick squirt of Rajeunir’s moisture serum. I don’t normally put this many products on my face all at the same time, but I was so excited to see all of them there! Although the Rajeunir line is primarily directed at women (and skin-conscious men) over the age of 40, I figured everyone could do with a bit of extra pep in their skin. This rich serum sunk into my skin pretty much immediately – although admittedly, I do have very thirsty skin. It smoothed out, plumped up and softened my skin, and left it looking bright and healthy. I only used a tiny squeeze of this serum, a little really does go a long way!

(Rajeunir have very nicely given my followers a 30% discount until the end of November with the code “escape”. So if you fancy giving it a go, now’s a good time! Click here for the serum.)

At the end of my routine, I was pretty darn impressed with how soft my skin felt. Seriously, I’ve been walking around stroking it, which, ironically, is one way to guarantee bad skin. Keep your hands off your face, people.

SONY DSC

Not looking too bad, for a barefaced girl. Check back in at the end of the month to see which products I’m still loving, and which ones have fallen off the cart. And I’m lazy, so I can guarantee there will be casualties.

Tomorrow, I’ll be tackling the rest of the beauty bag…wish me luck!

What’s you skin holy grail? Have you ever repurchased something you got in a goody bag? Tell me about your skincare routines and please send me sheet mask selfies either in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!