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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Blog Tour Guest Post - Sophie Cameron on Books that Influenced Away With Words

Sophie Cameron on Books that Influenced Away With Words

Today I'm thrilled to be hosting Sophie Cameron's blog tour for Away With Words. This is a gorgeous and extraordinary story about a young girl displaced from Spain to Fortrose, in Scotland. There, Gala struggles with homesickness, misses her friends, her room, her familiar food and everything else about home, while struggling to manage a new school, a new family set up and a new language. 

Language is at the core of the story, partly because of Gala's difficulty grasping what people are saying to her, but also due to a unique and startling little mechanic. In this world, words have shape and form. They fall from people's lips in a variety of fonts and colours, clinging to their clothing or gathering in piles on the floor. Most people just discard them, and they're gathered into bins to fade away after a few days, but Gala meets Natalie, a girl with selective mutism, for whom words also have special value. Natalie likes to pick up words and keep them safe, and together Gala and Natalie begin to find new uses for discarded words.

It's a really clever idea, and it is used so well throughout the book. The typography is perfect too, with words occasionally breaking free of their lines as best fits the story.

Away With Words is a beautiful book about language, how we see it, and its power both to heal and to harm. It's also a story about feeling like you don't fit in and about finding your place in the world. 


And now I'm thrilled to share with you Sophie's writing about the books that influenced Away With Words.

The idea for Away With Words came from my experience of learning languages. I often struggle with pronunciation and feel as if the words are stuck at the back of my throat, which gave me the idea of a world where words physically leaving speakers’ mouths as they talk. It’s also heavily based around my experience of living in Spain and speaking Spanish and Catalan in my daily life – while Gala’s situation is very different to mine, as she’s much younger and is moving to an English-speaking area where no one outside her family knows her native language, the frustration and pride she feels in her up-and-down language progress mirrors my own experience in lots of ways. I’m sure anyone who’s learnt a second language will be able to relate to some extent! 

That said, the story was also influenced by other books, particularly ones which use language and text in interesting ways. Here are the main inspirations, all of which I really recommend reading: 

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long

This is one of my favourite teen novels and I think it’s criminally underrated! It’s about Sophie, a teen girl who moved from England to Belgium when she was very young and doesn’t really understand why, as there’s a lot about her family history that her parents won’t tell her. Like the characters in Away With Words, Sophie struggles with language sometimes – she gets words mixed up, so person becomes “pigeon”, friend becomes “freckle” and name becomes “noodle”. While Gala’s story is very different, the creative use of language really inspired me. 

Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle is the brilliant author of many excellent books, and Crongton Knights is one of my favourites. It’s set in the fictional council estate of South Crongton and is about McKay, a teenage boy who ends up on a quest across the city with his friends. Like Sophie Someone, its use of language is really creative – McKay refers to his apartment as a “castle” and its door as a “drawbridge”, for example. Again, it’s very different to Away With Words but Alex Wheatle’s creative use of language made me think about how to express everyday concepts in interesting ways, in my case from the point of view of an ESL learner. 

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

This gorgeous picture book shows a little girl sailing across a sea of words, monsters formed from words, words spinning around planets like the rings of Saturn… It’s a beautiful story and the imagery gave me lots of ideas for a world where words have a physical presence. Pip Johnson, who is a senior designer at Little Tiger and designed and illustrated the cover for Away With Words, has also done a brilliant job bringing the story to life through the typography – it shows words piled up at the foot of pages, for example, or (my personal favourite) forming the shape of a dog. 

Voyelles by Arthur Rimbaud 

This one is not an entire book, but a poem. Voyelles (or Vowels in English) was written in 1871 and is about synaesthesia and the characteristics of the five vowels, which are described as having different colours – the first line begins “Black A, white E, red I, green U, blue O”. It’s quite a strange, vague poem and there are lots of different interpretations of it, but its imagery has stuck with me since I first read it at university. In Gala’s world, the colours of words work differently – they change hue and shape depending on the speakers’ mood – but I referred back to this poem several times while writing. 

Away With Words by Sophie Cameron is out on the 18th May 2023 from Little Tiger Press.

I was given a review copy in exchange for this honest review and participation in this blog tour.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour!


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