Cruel Summer by James Dawson

The Lovereading4Kids comment

A compelling psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.


Cruel Summer by James Dawson

One year after the suicide of their friend Janey, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They're hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives, claiming to have evidence that Janey's suicide was actually murder. When the guest is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of the group - but who is it? And will they strike again?


An enjoyable, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek psychological thriller Book Trust A sleek, smart twist on the traditional beach read Star Magazine A gripping psychological thriller Mizz Magazine This is a terrific rollercoaster of a psychological thriller, humorous, tense and utterly gripping School Librarian This is a terrific rollercoaster of a psychological thriller, humorous, tense and utterly gripping. -- Sophie Smiley THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN JOURNAL

About the Author

James Dawson

For eight years, James Dawson was a teacher specialising in Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE). His main remit was ensuring that these subjects were taught to a high standard across several schools. He collaborated on projects involving bullying, sex education, drugs and alcohol education and family diversity.

He now writes full-time and lives in London.

His debut, best-selling YA novel Hollow Pike was nominated for the prestigious Queen of Teen prize, and was followed by publication of the YA thriller Cruel Summer in 2013.

When he's not writing books to scare teenagers in a variety of different ways, James is busy listening to pop music and watching Doctor Who and horror movies.

© CleverPrime Photography

Here is James talking about his book, Being a Boy

A Q&A with James about Say Her Name...

What inspired this book in particular? People told me that Hollow Pike was scary and I wasn’t even trying so I thought it would be fun to write a book where I was actually trying to terrify the reader.

What was the toughest part to write? When writing horror, I found you can’t rely on ‘jumps’ or loud noises the way they do in films. The fear has to come from a more psychological place; it has to get under your skin. The only way I knew it’d scare readers was if I scared myself. While writing Say Her Name I was plagued by Mary-related nightmares.

What was the most exciting thing about writing this book? (No spoilers please!) I loved adding to that oral tradition of ghost stories. What’s really fun is when I go into schools and ask who’s heard of Bloody Mary, all the hands go up and everyone has their own version. Say Her Name is just my retelling of a dark fairy tale really.

What advice would you give to writers struggling with a second (or third, fourth or fifth!) book? This isn’t my advice, it’s Patrick Ness’s, but he just told me to write the book you want to write. If you start worrying about the expectations of your readers or editors there won’t be any joy on the page. I adored writing Say Her Name, I hope it shows.

How do you come up with ideas for all of your books? It’s almost always something that intrigued me when I was young. That period from about ten-twenty years-old, I just soaked up pop culture like a sponge and now it’s finding it’s way out in my writing.

Has the way you write changed since your previous book? Do you/did you do anything differently? With my second novel, Cruel Summer, I felt like I proved myself as a writer, that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder so to speak. That meant there was no pressure on Say Her Name to be anything other than hugely enjoyable and hugely scary. Of all my novels, this was the easiest to write. I’m also hugely proud of Bobbie in that she’s my first creation who isn’t, at least in part, based on someone I knew.

Have you got an idea for your next book? Or would you like to write something completely different? My next book is already done! I write fast – in fact I’ve done two! Such is publishing! My next book is another horror, but tonally VERY different from Say Her Name. It’ll be out in 2015, all being well, and it’s a much stranger, more psychological horror. Before that there will be my second non-fiction title, This Book Is Gay, a guide to identity, sex and relationships for young LGBT people.

We’d like to update readers on what you’ve been doing since your previous book came was published – would you mind filling us in a little? Clearly doing lots of writing! Since Cruel Summer came out, I’ve also become a Stonewall Schools Role Model, a role I’m very proud of. I’ve also been enjoying my stint as a ‘sexpert’ alongside the release of Being A Boy.

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Book Info


336 pages


James Dawson
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Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's) an imprint of Hachette Children's Group

Publication date

7th August 2014




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