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Takeshita Demons in Read it! magazine: Encouraging reading for all ages

Takeshita Demons adventure for ages 8-12 review in Read it MagazineRead it!

YAY! Takeshita Demons was recently featured in Read it! magazine, put out by Books etc and Published World to encourage reading for all ages.

The Read it! magazine is FREE and part of a fundraising scheme for UK schools, where 5% of total book purchases goes back to the school.

Win prizes, read reviews

There are heaps of cool prizes you can win, puzzles, articles, author interviews and more. This issue includes articles on World Book Day, dyslexia action, Reading for Life and more. Plus you can win DVDs and books and read some great reviews.

Here’s what Read it! said:

Takeshita Demons – Cristy Burne (aged 8-12)

Takeshita Demons has done amazingly well. In 2010 it was the winner of the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Childrens Book Award and featured on the BBC’s Blue Peter in 2011.

We cannot wait for Cristy’s next book, the Filth Licker, which will be coming out in June 2011 so keep an eye out for it!

When Miku Takeshita moves from Osaka to London, she thinks she has left her grandmother’s strange world of spirits and demons far behind. But then her little brother falls strangely ill and a freak snowstorm arrives along with a fox-mouthed supply teacher.

Suddenly, Miku and her best friend Cait are facing off with faceless demons and on the run from flying heads. Alone and stuck at school after-dark, they must use all their cunning to stay alive.

A thrilling adventure for younger readers, Takeshita Demons weaves Japanese mythology and culture into a gripping tale of good versus evil.


What inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved reading and making up stories. One day I had an idea about a superhero who had a pet giraffe, so I just sat down and started writing. That was the first book I ever wrote.

Now I get inspiration from everyday life: I keep a notebook in my pocket and write down story ideas and ‘what ifs’ whenever they pop into my head. For example, today I went to the zoo and wrote down: What if humans were kept in an alien zoo? And: what if I had a tail like a spider monkey? Inspiration to write can come from almost anywhere.

You can see that Japanese mythology has clearly inspired you in both the books, how did this inspiration come about?

I lived in Japan for three years and kept seeing signs of Japanese mythology in everyday life. For example, in restaurants it is common to find food that Japanese demons like to eat, like kappa-maki sushi (the favourite of a half-turtle water-demon who likes to drink blood and eat cucumbers) or kitsune udon (because shape-changing foxes just can’t resist noodles served with deep-fried tofu). That’s like going to a restaurant and ordering vampire sandwiches or werewolf pie.

— YAY! —


The terrific top three books for January: Blue Peter Book Club

And the terrific top three books for January are:

Takeshita Demons

Xtreme X-Ray

Madame Pamplemousse and the Time Travelling Café


This is what Blue Peter said about Takeshita Demons:
“Do you like floating heads and evil spirits? Then you will love this horror adventure!

Spooky demons invade Miku’s school and kidnap her brother Kazu. Can she and her best friend Cait rescue him?

Let your imagination run wild and feel the adventure come alive through the vivid pictures.”

Dare to peek? Download a PDF Takeshita Demons sneak peek.

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My top five interview questions for Cristy Burne

Head over to Booked Up HQ to check out the great books available and explore their super new website.

I have a guest post on the Booked Up blog this week, about writing Takeshita Demons and being a writer, and hope that lots of kids will ask me lots of questions.

See you there!


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Takeshita Demons reviewed in The West Australian

This rollicking ride by Perth-based author Cristy Burne is totally deserving of the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices award for 2009.

Take a young Japanese girl, Miku, who is protected by her Baba, and the family’s zashiki-warashi, move her to England and watch out for the demons who have followed her and her family.

This exciting, intriguing story is aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds but captures adult attention very quickly.

This is not a happy book about ‘teddy bears and bunny rabbits’, more about a Japanese teenage Lara Croft. Watch out for the next in the series.
Takeshita Demons book review in West Australian

This awesome review of Takeshita Demons was in Tuesday’s West Australian newspaper.

Thanks to the terrific team at Writing WA!

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Takeshita Demons reviewed in The Age

Japanese culture has influenced this first instalment in what is set to be a trilogy of books featuring Japanese character Miku and her family.

Debut Australian author Cristy Burne has lived for several years in Japan, where she grew interested in the local folklore; she now lives in Perth but curiously chose to set her trilogy in England. The book features black-and-white manga-style illustrations by UK illustrator Siku.

Twelve-year-old Miku narrates the story, which beings with her family’s move to England – followed by some yokai or demons. Then her substitute teacher turns out to be a child-eater, her little brother gets abducted,  and a dragon woman suggests Miku has powers of her own – obviously to be discovered in book two. Miku and her best friend, Cait, battle the bad guys.

Two young girls being brave and clever without a hint of pink or glitter on the cover? Hooray!
Takeshita Demons reviewed in The AgeWith thanks to the fabulous Meg McKinlay for the heads-up


One of “summer’s best children’s books”

YAY…More reviews are coming in and the news is good 🙂 People are enjoying Takeshita Demons 🙂 YAY!!!!

There’s a fab review of Takeshita Demons up at PaperTigers: Lovely highlights below:

Takeshita Demons will have readers on the edges of their seats…
Cristy Burne has created a fast-paced story full of suspense…
Takeshita Demons
is likely to become a hit…

AND…Takeshita Demons was recently reviewed by Nicolette Jones in the UK’s Sunday Times: she named it one of “summer’s best children’s books”. How exciting!

Nicolette chose four books in the 9-11 age group:

– Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree, illustrated by David Tazzyman
“Outrageous wordplay, clever nonsense and a mad cherry-tree song provide the hilarity we expect.”

– John Grisham’s Theodore Boone (His first children’s novel)
“Grisham shows a sprightly style”

– Sharon Creech’s The Unfinished Angel,
“comical and moving”
(Winner of the Carnegie Medal!)

and our very own Takeshita Demons!

Takeshita Demons coverHere’s Nicolette’s (entire) review:

Monsters new to the West are introduced in Cristy Burne’s Takeshita Demons (Frances Lincoln £5.99), the winner of a Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices award, and illustrated in manga style by Siku. It is a pacy horror adventure in which a Japanese girl brings yokai (evil spirits) into an English school, and battles them with her friend in order to save her baby brother. Things get chilling when a supply teacher turns out to be a nukekubi (a child-eating spirit), whose head flies off. Fortunately, there are protective spirits, too.

Ooooo! Exciting!


Filming for the Booked Up DVD

A still from one of the 50 billion takes we filmed for Booked Up on Thursday

Exciting times!
As part of the Booked Up program, WalkTall Media are producing a DVD introducing the 19 books on the Booked Up list. Each book is introduced by its author, then reviewed by a Year 7 student. And to keep things short and sweet, each segment is only 30-40 seconds long.  So…I was asked to film myself talking about Takeshita Demons for the DVD. COOL!


Have you ever tried to talk about something you love in just 30 seconds?


I’ve done a bit of media training but haven’t had a whole heap of experience in front of a camera. In fact, I’ve tried to be seriously coherent for the camera just 4 times before:

Attempt 1) Australia’s Catalyst team tried to interview me about the LHC Computing Grid while I was working at CERN, in Geneva. I was incredibly nervous and stuffed up so often and so badly they didn’t end up using my bit at all.
Gaining-experience Rating:
5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 11 sleepless nights (about 7 before, 4 after)

Attempt 2) An independant documentary-maker came to CERN to do a docco on the LHC and interviewed me about the LHC Computing Grid. As a young(ish) female scientist(ish) I was supposed to be the perfect choice for his documentary, except for one thing: I couldn’t put three words together. Luckily, when it finally came out, they only used about two seconds of my footage.
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 4 sleepless nights (3 before, 1 after)

A still from the Teacher’s TV interview

Attempt 3) My editor Janetta and I did a short interview about the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award for Teacher’s TV. Luckily, I got to see Janetta being interviewed first, so I had a chance to see how it’s done 🙂 Plus, most of my camera nerves (the “mind goes blank just looking at the camera” bit) were gone: My previous efforts might have been awful, but they were brilliant practise. So, I was able to talk without stumbling too badly and I managed to say what I wanted to say (which apparently is the other Very Important Thing ;-))
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 3 sleepless nights (but I slept well as soon as it was over 🙂 YAY!)

A still from the video for the 2010 Diverse Voices presentation

Attempt 4) About three weeks ago we made a short video to congratulate the winner of the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award (Tom Avery, although I didn’t know it at the time!).

Me losing it because some mad fellow is chasing wild pigs in the background

Luckily, my fabulous husband was behind the camera, and I knew my ridiculous friends (we **love** your work!!) were somewhere in the background being ridiculous (thank you!).

So, we managed to make a colourful video that said what I wanted to say (which was THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS! and HAVE FUN!!).
Gaining-experience Rating: 5 stars
Waking-up-with-nightmares Rating: 0 sleepless nights (this was more like a home movie: no microphones or special lighting)

Which leads me to experience #5: Film a 40-second blurb of yourself talking about your book.

Easier said than done! Luckily, I managed to locate a fabulous Perth-based cameraman with the patience of a saint (Seb Craig of KBC Films, and I thoroughly recommend him and KBC for being professional, reliable and good at what they do…they were great!) and an awesome location (the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre…I am SO grateful to everyone there for their help!). After a grueling session of 50 gazillion takes (and me forgetting my own name for half of them), I sent the finished products to WalkTall Media: fingers crossed they like them.

Step over, Tom Cruise

So…It was HARD WORK! I have a new appreciation for actors, because its not easy saying the same thing over and over. Luckily (and did I mention this before?), Sebastien was incredibly patient and also superb at giving the right feedback at the right time. (Including the brutal-but-useful “I wasn’t convinced…Start again”)

Still, it wasn’t easy: it was a freezing morning, but we had to turn off the heater cause it was affecting the sound (poor Yumiko had to wear a thick jacket and drink hot tea just to stay warm: it was super-chilly!). Plus, the Perth Japanese school has classrooms upstairs, and at once stage the kids were practising their taiko drumming (actually: this was perfect timing for a coffee break :-)).

We also filmed some readings, and a couple of short blurbs: one about The Filth Licker, and one about the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Childrens Book Award.  They should show up here in the next little while 🙂

All in all, it was exciting and harrowing and afterwards I couldn’t really talk much at all. I just sat and drank tea and soaked in the sunshine. It was all I was capable of, I think. And on Sat night I went to the movies with girlfriends and drank champagne and laughed a lot, and it was GREAT!! A recipe for unwinding stress 🙂

So…fingers crossed the filming we did worked: I can’t wait to see the DVD and meet the other Booked Up authors!


Interview with children’s book specialist Geraldine Brennan

I’m rejigging my website in the leadup to the release of Takeshita Demons. I’m deleting some bits and adding others, and one of the things I rediscovered was this interview conducted by children’s book specialist Geraldine Brennan shortly after I won the 2009 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award with Takeshita Demons. That was nearly a year ago already! I’ve reproduced the interview below:

—> And keep your eyes and ears peeled for the announcement of the winner of the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award. The award ceremony is being held June 8 at Seven Stories. I can’t wait to find out more!

Your father is a New Zealander, your mother is Australian and you experienced both cultures growing up. What was that like?
When I was a child we lived on a farm in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island. My father worked in real estate so it was a kind of hobby farm, but my mother grew kiwi fruit and we kept goats and cows. My sisters and I spent most of our time outside climbing trees, catching eels and having adventures. We had two Jersey calves as pets.

I was 13 when we moved to a suburb in Perth. Just living in a suburb was a shock to me, and my new school was much bigger and the kids much more badly behaved. I remember the feeling of being different in a school and trying not to be. The New Zealand and Australian accents are quite different and I remember not always understanding when people said my name, so I wouldn’t answer them, and that would be embarrassing.

In Takeshita Demons, Miku is struggling between being proud of her Japanese culture and not wanting to be singled out for it in Britain. By the end she feels at home in both places and that is certainly how l believe it can and should be. I like to feel part of wherever I am. I feel proud of all the different parts of myself: the Kiwi, the Aussie, my experiences in Japan, in Switzerland, and now in the UK…I often say I am from London but if the All Blacks are winning I’ll happily say I am from New Zealand.

How did your connection with Japan develop?
I had studied Japanese since I was 11 and had always wanted to go there. After university I spent two years in a suburb near Osaka, teaching English communication in a high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching programme. I soon realised that you can never be Japanese, you are always a gaijan (foreigner), a novelty and a bit exotic. It could be isolating. My students were the exception, they accepted me completely as myself, which I think young people naturally do.

I returned to Japan some years later to work as an editor of translations for a biotechnology company at Tsukuba Science City near Tokyo. My Japanese was better by then but I still can’t handle all the levels of politeness: I can talk to friends or children, but not to a boss or someone’s grandmother. I used to long for people to speak to me in Japanese but I was also a great opportunity for people to practice English.

I made good Japanese friends, including a colleague who was Japanese but had lived in America, so he understood the sorts of things that would seem strange to me. At lunchtime we would chat and he’d tell me things about Japan. It was through him that I began to understand about Japanese people’s relationships with spirits, ghosts and demons. There was no contradiction for him between working for a science company and knowing that there was a ghost in the room.

Tell us more about the demons!
There are dozens of supernatural yokai that most Japanese people will be familiar with. They appear over and over again in all kinds of stories. Some are benign, some are nasty and some you’re just not quite sure. The demons that Miku has to deal with include the nukekubi, a kind of child-eating flying-head demon, and the noppera-bo, a faceless demon that can take on other personae.

Most Western children don’t know about these yokai in the way that they know about vampires and werewolves, but just as vampires fear garlic, the demons often have an Achilles heel or fatal flaw. The nukekubi, for example must leave its body somewhere while its hungry head flies around, and you can destroy the head by destroying the body. I chose the demons I thought would have the most potential for an adventure story, but there are plenty more for future stories. I like to write about children, especially strong girls, having great adventures.

Why do you write for children?
Children who read have a great time and are exposed to lots of different ways of living and being. As a child I loved mystery and adventure stories and often read six or seven books at once. I loved Roald Dahl because of his energy and humour and I loved the Nancy Drew books, although it was annoying that she was always being rescued by her boyfriend.

I have done a lot of work in outreach science education and love to connect with children through new ideas. I also know how short their attention spans can be. I really want to use writing to continue to connect with children and challenge them to think in new ways.

How do you fit writing into your life?
I usually write on evenings and weekends, but when I start I don’t stop. I take over the dining table and leave it to Doug to make sure I get fed. My first manuscript, a 30,000-word adventure for the same age group, won a Young and Emerging Writer’s fellowship (from Varuna House) and the Voices on the Coast writing competition. At the moment I’m editing a third novel for slightly older readers: I’ve decided a certain character needs to go. I love the power you have as a writer in that way.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
In my current day job, I promote the use of grid computing to help the world’s scientists solve global problems, such as air pollution and climate change. These scientists work together, across time zones, cultures and language barriers, in collaborations involving hundreds of countries. This is the world that the children I am writing for will have to work in. It’s all about finding ways to collaborate and that starts with understanding each other.

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How old is a piece of string?

Crunch time for Takeshita Demons is getting closer: just 36 days left! Apparently I have a final printed copy in the post…yee ha!

How old is a piece of string?
Like any procrastinating author, I like to Google the name of my book in the days leading up to its release. (Did you know there are now more than 12,000 mentions of Takeshita + Demons online?)(ah, but not all of them are mine; it just sounds good ;-))

Many of these Google hits lead to on-line bookstores, and — bizarrely — not all of these bookstores seem to be stocking the same book.

Well, they’re stocking Takeshita Demons, alright, but although most think it’s a book for kids aged 8-12, others suggest readers aged 6-12, or readers aged 5-9, or readers aged 9-11. At least none of them are recommending Takeshita Demons for adults 😉

But what’s going on with this age bracketing? How do they decide?

I think it depends on the child: Are they reluctant readers? Or do they read everything they can lay their hands on?

As a guide: I wrote Takeshita Demons with the 8-12 age bracket in mind, aiming to excite readers and non-readers alike, hoping to encourage children to chew through an adventure where — like the adventures I read as a child — nothing bad really happens and the goodies win in the end. YAY!

And the reviews say?
There are now 14 reviews on Amazon UK, and I’m still scared to read them. (I think I need to grow a thicker skin!) Still, the worst thing they’ve said so far is that Takeshita Demons is a fast, easy read that children will love. To date most of the reviewers (all?) have been adults, so I’m looking forward to hearing some reviews from the kids. Fingers crossed!

Hovering around the mail box…
I’ll let you know when that magical first copy arrives. Very. Surreal.

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Although I can’t seem to pronounce “library” (apparently I say “lye-berry” and this is wrong?)(how did I get to this ripe old age and noone has ever told me that before??), I do love them.

This week I went to the State Library of Western Australia for the MEET THE TALENT session with a stack of awesome Youth Services Librarians (lye-berry-ens?), and guess what? I was the talent! Woo hoo. How much fun is that?

But the best bit was that I got to leave the house, alone, catch a train, alone, and meet a bunch of interesting adults and talk about books and writing (and not babies!). It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking about Fergus all day and all night (because I do: he’s really very Clever and Gifted and Good Looking), but HOOLEY DOOLEY it was great to forget all that for a couple of hours and be a writer again.

The session was designed to give librarians an idea of what kind of school visits West Australian authors and illustrators are available for, what kind of workshops, how many sessions, etc etc.

I said I was available most days to do most things, but of course my favourite thing is to run sessions that mix non-fiction with fiction, as I have done with TAKESHITA DEMONS (which features some Japanese mythology) and also ONE WEEKEND WITH KILLIECRANKIE (which features some gene engineering and biology). After all, nine-tenths of a good lie is the truth. Or a bit of fact makes for really great fiction.

Also this week I’ve been working on the finale to FORESTS AND FILTH LICKERS. Its thrilling to see everything coming together, and it’s hard work to sustain the pace.

And while all this has been going on, reviews of TAKESHITA DEMONS have been coming in…there are another two online. It’s very exciting…I even got Fan Mail this week (thanks!!). It’s still extremely nerve-wracking. Lucky I enjoy writing these stories so much! 🙂

Cheers to lye-berry-ens!


And PS: Parents and kids in WA: check out the State Library’s fun zone for children, called The Place. It’s well worth a visit!