Player Profile: Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar For Life

wilsonsarah01Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar For Life

Tell us about your latest creation:

I see this as a follow-up book to help make cooking, eating and our health more elegant and joyous. A framework for simple, no-brainer health that supports sugar-free living. Which is what we’re after, no?

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m from Canberra, or the outskirts of… but these days Sydney is home.

9781742613734When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was seven I told mum I’d be the first female prime minister of Australia. I studied law and politics with that ambitious vague aim in mind, but soon realised i wanted to do something that could actually impact the world. My writing career very much evolved in an organic way, as did the I Quit Sugar journey. I never sat with a whiteboard to map out my career, I’ve stumbled from one step to the next.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Setting up IQuitSugar.com where I’ve been able to employ eleven incredibly talented and passionate people and provide a livelihood for them and their families.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Definitely chaotic and changeable! I write my best on planes, in airport lounges and in doctors waiting rooms. Which is fortunate given that my lifestyle doesn’t allow for very much writing time anymore. I’m always envious of writers who talk about having a specific, beautifully laid out spot where they write each day. But my personality adjusts well to chaos, and I’m quite possibly more creative on the fly.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Evolutionary biology texts, and memoirs about physical adventure treks.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. My only memory of it is the description of the smell of the goats, and the goats milk in the mornings. It’s still in my nostrils to this day.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Winnie The Pooh

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Bush walking. You can follow my adventures on Instagram (check out the hashtag #bushexcursion). And eating. I spend a lot of time cooking and thinking about food!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Drink – at the moment its a natural pinot noir from Harkhams wines.. I’m not generally a fan of pinot noir, but this one is an exeption. Food – it’d have to be something involving pork. Roast pork with sweet potato would have to be up there!

Who is your hero? Why?:

Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. His capacity for clarity and forgiveness and understanding of the human spirit shortly after being imprisoned in a concentration camp is truly beautiful.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think it’s a positive one – to embrace people’s hankering to get away from their digital lives and back to “old school” engagement.

Player Profile: Joy Dettman, author of The Tying of Threads

881974-joy-dettmanJoy Dettman, author of The Tying of Threads

Tell us about your latest creation:

My latest creation is the end result of a six year commitment to the Woody Creek series, 160,000 words to add to the 800,000 plus of the previous five. Readers who have followed Jenny from her birth in 1923, will, in The Tying of Threads, celebrate with her as she approaches the new millennium – then bid her a fond farewell – as have I.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Echuca, in country Victoria. My childhood was spent in small towns on either side of the Murray River. I married in Echuca then moved to Melbourne where I remain.

9781742613864When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As an eight year old, when all things are possible, I decided that when I grew up I was going to write books about Australia. It took a while but I got there in the end.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

That is asking a mother to choose her favorite child. Mallawindy’s labor was ten years long and I remember every year of it, but  Henry’s Daughter made me laugh when I didn’t feel like laughing and One Sunday was my faithful companion through the dead of many dark nights. I’d choose them.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Back in 1990, my first big bulky old computer and desk found a home in a spare bedroom, with the excess chairs, filing cabinet, elderly bookshelves and sundry. Spare rooms too soon become store rooms. Some years ago, mine made the transition to junk room. The junk forced me out to work in the family room, on a laptop, where my husband reads newspaper items of interest aloud and the television flashes its commercials. Chaotic? Oh, yes – but out of chaos comes creation.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

My most recent read was Gone Girl. I enjoyed it. I will read any genre, if the characters are strong enough to make me care if they live or die. Many books I begin don’t make me care and these days I don’t have the time to waste on them. As ever, if I am in need of a good read, I’ll reach for one of my old faithful friends who never disappoint.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Man Shy, by Frank Dalby Davison, stumbled on in my primary school’s small library. I was eight years old. Until opening that book and finding Australia between its covers, I’d believe that authors only lived in England and America. Twenty-odd years ago I stumbled again on that book, at a garage sale, where I snatched it, and paid over my twenty cents so I might add it to my top book shelf where only the most prized of my odd collection live.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Superman – though my husband may suggest Frankenstein.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play canasta with my grandchildren. Having managed to addict three of my seven early to the game, they keep coming back for more. I sew during the cricket and tennis season when the television plays nonstop, and have been known to play around with oil paints and canvas.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A scotch filet steak, fried fast in butter, served with mashed potatoes, green beans and caramelized onion rings. My favorite drink, a champagne cocktail.

Who is your hero? Why?:

A much abused four letter word, hero. Other than my eighty-seven year old aunt, I don’t have heroes.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

It is my hope that a good book will always be read, however, the life style of today’s child will dictate the future of books. Unless we can trap him early with the magic world that lives between the covers, he won’t become a reader and without him, the book may die.

Player Profile: Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl

smart, jennifer (1)Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Wardrobe Girl follows the story of Tess Appleby, the new standby assistant on long-running Australian soap – Pretty Beach Rescue. It’s not quite the BBC, where until recently Tess has  been working, but it should be an uncomplicated return to Sydney life after 8 years in London and a humiliating end to a relationship. But, just like a soap opera plot, Tess’s life is soon anything but uncomplicated when the cast of characters, including the soap’s leading man, her retired actress mother and aspiring actress sister, the paparazzi, even her pet dog, Eric, all seem to conspire to create chaos. But Tess isn’t phased, not until the man who broke her heart 8 years ago arrives at Pretty Beach Rescue as a new Director.   The Wardrobe Girl is loosely based on my experience working in the Australian TV industry, including 5 years on Home and Away.

9780857982513Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Home is Balmain, in Sydney.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be either a ballerina or an architect.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

As The Wardrobe Girl is my debut novel, I will have to claim it as my best work.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My desk is cluttered more often than it is tidy, but it sits under a window that looks out onto my street and the passing parade of Balmain locals. I have a large board covered in inspiring clippings, family photos etc. There are books and artworks, some reflected in the large deco mirror that belonged to my grandmother and now hangs over the mantlepiece.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I’m not a big reader of non-fiction, but my fiction taste is broad. I’ll happily curl up with a Marian Keyes, or a Hilary Mantel. I had a Graham Greene phase last year and I’ve just finished Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road To The Deep North, which I loved.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I adored Milly Molly Mandy and Noddy when I was very young and a full colour Disney edition of Mary Poppins – read by all my daughters. As a teenager, I read lots of Jean Plaidy before discovering Daphne du Maurier.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Once I stood on an elephant’s back in a river in Laos and I felt like Marlena in Water For Elephants. I’d like to think I have the wit and charm of Elizabeth Bennett and the intellect of Hermione Granger. But most mornings, especially school mornings, I feel like Mrs Weasley.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I love dancing, and have taken ballet classes & am about to take up tap again. Give me a garden or an art gallery to potter around and I’m very happy. Munching popcorn & sipping champagne whilst watching films. I knit, a lot. Playing Lego with my youngest daughter and Scrabble with my husband.  Live theatre, dance & music.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My favourite food is cooked by someone else and my favourite drink is French Champagne, preferably pink.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Germaine Greer is my hero. I love her fearless expression of her opinions, even when I don’t agree with them. Her academic scholarship on all things Shakespeare is extraordinary. She has a great sense of humour. Above all, she has fought a tough battle for women and still does.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

As long as people are writing/telling stories, people will want to read them. We may not always have books in exactly the
same physical form we experience them as now, but I believe they will always be with us.

Blog: http://asampler.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Smart/152139994852604

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennnifer_Smart/

Player Profile: Tony Cavanaugh, author of The Train Rider

tc_photoTony Cavanaugh, author of The Train Rider

Tell us about your latest creation:

It’s called The Train Rider and is the third in the Darian Richards series of novels that I began a few years ago. The Train Rider is a serial killer in Melbourne – Darian was unable to catch him and that failure tore at him to the point where he abandoned the job in Homicide and fled to the Noosa River, hoping to push the demons away. Now he discovers that The Train Rider has followed him up to the Sunshine Coast and has embarked on a twisted psychological game in order to damage Darian as much as he can.

9780733630675Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Originally from Ararat in Melbourne, went to school in Geelong, lived in Melbourne for many years, then moved to Brisbane, then up to the Sunshine Coast and am now living on the Gold Coast.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a film director. This was in the 1960’s when there wasn’t a film industry so it seemed like a hopeless dream. I had a lot of pressure to sell cars as my dad and grandfather sold Holdens… I escaped that and managed to get a job at Crawford Productions, working in TV. The idea of becoming an author didn’t really emerge until a few years ago. It’s still feeling kinda weird.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Yikes! I don’t know. I do the best I can at the time and hope each work resonates with people. To have created something, be it a novel or a TV series or a movie, for people to watch or read, is such an honour.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a wooden desk in the middle of a large open room with wooden floors and old casement windows. The desk is a blend of clutter and order – the clutter is pushed to the edge of the desk in an orderly way. On the wall, looking over me, are retro movie posters, images of Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan, Noel Coward, Lady Gaga, Goya and Edward Hopper. My walls are totally covered with big and small posters and photos.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Anything – as long as it’s good. At the moment I am reading Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln. Just finished Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd and The Mission Song by John Le Carre. I read a lot of crime fiction and I love non-fiction, especially if it’s about African politics. I always go back and refresh on Roberto Bolano, Chandler and Damon Runyon.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

John Fowles’ The Magus had a huge impact on me when I was 12. Up until then I was into comics – Superman and The Phantom, Ghost who walks! I read a lot of dross – movie tie-ins mostly so it wasn’t until I was 16 when the next book affected me. That was Othello.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

The Phantom – Ghost Who Walks! Man Who Cannot Die! (Not that I want to be immortal – he’s just so cool.)

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I love cooking. I’m big on Sicilian caponata at the moment. I also love cooking up a pot of ratatouille. It’s something I share with my lead character, Darian, who tells us how to cook the prefect ratatouille in The Train Rider. I used to love reading Rex Stout – his hero, Nero Wolfe, cooked up a feast (and gave us the recipe) in all of his crime novels. Other than reading, writing and cooking I don’t do very much. I think I need to get out more. I’m going to see Bruce Springsteen and the Hunters and Collectors in Feb 2014 so I guess that counts.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

It used to be roast chicken but then I became vegetarian (almost vegan) a couple of years ago so now, if it’s not one of the Italian stews, it’s a salad with tons of fresh crusty bread and good vino. Having been a raging drunk in a past life, inhaling anything that resembled alcohol, I now drink in great moderation – usually a riesling.

Who is your hero? Why?:

John Lennon – because he wasn’t afraid to put himself up for denigration when he wrote Imagine. “You may think I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” In a hard world it’s a lyric like that which I find incredibly hopeful and uplifting.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Dealing with the growing expectation that entertainment – reading in this instance – should be free. Movies are free, TV is free, music is free – illegally gained of course but that’s not stopping people and the proliferation of this free material has created an awareness and expectation that you don’t need to pay. I’m not sure what the answer is. Interestingly, when Radiohead put out an album a few years ago and said: pay what you can afford, what it would cost in a shop or nothing if you can’t afford it, most people (I think the percentage figure was incredibly high)paid full price.

Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/tonycavanaugh888
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/TonyCavanaugh1

Player Profile: P.M. Newton, author of Beams Falling

art_pm-newton-420x0P.M. Newton, author of Beams Falling

Tell us about your latest creation:

Beams Falling. The novel is set in the early 1990s when drugs and violence began to tear apart the fragile refugee community that had  put down roots in the outer south-western Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. The press reports of the day refer to the ‘wall of silence’ that met police, my novel explores the walls built not just by criminals and victims, but by police as well. It is a follow up to my first book The Old School, continuing the story of Detective Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly and if the title – Beams Falling – seems oddly familiar it’s because it comes from a story Sam Spade tells about a man named Flitcraft in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

9780670074525Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, born and bred. I’ve lived in different parts of Sydney, up the north coast of New South Wales, in England, Mali and India but Sydney keeps drawing me back. Sandstone, red gums and the harbour foreshores are like nothing else in the world.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was very little I wanted to be a horse, but when I worked out that probably wasn’t going to happen, I switched to wanting to be a jockey, followed by wanting to be a mounted police officer, followed by actually being a police officer – though not one on a horse. I then spent 13 years in the police, most of it as a detective. Being an author was something that I rather stumbled into  when I began to write after I’d left the police force.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

What a tricky question! Beams Falling builds on the characters and the story and the history of the first book The Old School. It builds on my experience in writing the first book, but it’s a different book, and at times that previous experience felt like it counted for nothing. I suspect that is the truth of writing, that each book, each story, each essay is a new exploration and demands new approaches. Iris Murdoch said, ‘Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.’ So perhaps all one can hope for is slightly better wreckage each time?

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I long for order and live with chaos. I have moved my writing place about four times in the last few years from room to room, which probably explains why I still love a pen and notebook and a good walk somewhere.

I’m mainly using a laptop now, so I can move about with it, on the lounge on my lap, but I’m trying to stand more now, so I’ve sort of set up a
standing desk of boxes on an old desk. I don’t think I’ve found the right place yet.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I’m an eclectic reader. I’ll follow tips and recommendations from friends, from reviews I stumble across, mentions of authors and books I overhear.

This has meant in the last little while discovering Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, a sci-fi novel about Jesuits in space which was amazing. I’m currently reading The Lover by Marguerite Duras on the recommendation of Walter Mason – whose travel memoirs Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia are stunning. I return constantly to old friends, such as Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

I’ve also started reading a bit of research material around some ideas for the next book which has led me to some extraordinary memoirs about the Hare Krishna movement in the USA in the 1970s and 80s – wild times indeed.

When it comes to crime I await with great anticipation Malla Nunn’s latest, along with anything by Attica Locke.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. I was horse mad but all the books I read featured English girls on ponies in little villages in the Cotswolds. Reading The Silver Brumby, set in my land, featuring my landscapes, my native animals, written from the animals’ point of view was a mind blowing moment.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because there was a dude who really knew where his towel was. It would require a sex change for one – or the other – of us but with the Infinite Probability Drive I think it would be doable.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I watch TV like I read novels. I love nothing better than to have a juicy drama series to get my teeth into – currently Borgen – but it has been The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, The Eagle, Broadchurch, Buffy. I buy DVD box sets and keep them alongside my books.

I also love to walk around the bush tracks along the harbour side and to swim at North Sydney Olympic Pool.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Nasi Lemak – I can’t resist it. I try it at every Malaysian restaurant I go to.

Love discovering a good cocktail, although I’m currently on a bit of a Caipirinha roll.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Hero is one of those words that gets diminished by overuse. I’m loathe to put people on pedestals and I suspect most of the truly heroic remain nameless, never truly known. A woman whose name we do know was Hypatia a mathematician, philosopher, astronomer in Alexandria @ 400AD who was murdered by a Christian mob unhappy with her teaching.

A literary hero would be Sethe from Tony Morrison’s Beloved, who had the courage to live on.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

As an Australian author I see maintaining local access and interest for local stories as being the biggest challenge. I think readers will always read but it’s a question of whether we start to see a lack of diversity in our reading. There’s a blockbuster mentality where everyone reads from the same narrow list, rather than lots of people reading across a wide range of books. This is linked to the way people access their reading and what is made available to them, often determined by the electronic delivery system they’ve locked themselves into. As an author telling local stories, I hope that a local market will still find a place.

Blog: www.pmnewton.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PM-Newton/269458397200

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pmnewton

Player Profile: Boyd Anderson, author of The Heart Radical

boyd_andersonBoyd Anderson, author of The Heart Radical

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘The Heart Radical’ is, at its heart (ahem), an exploration of the truth of the Jesuit saying about giving them a child for 7 years and they will deliver the man. (I wonder if they are still saying that!)  It takes place during the Malayan Emergency in 1951, interwoven with the experiences of two of its main characters who meet again in London later in life and try to make sense of their childhood before making a go of a possible relationship.

9780857981608Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Born and raised in Sydney’s inner west and, after spending a lifetime in other neighbourhoods and countries, now back watering my roots by the harbour in the inner west.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was a kid I wanted to become an adult. I was pretty sure I would work it out then. As it happened, it took a lot longer. A lot longer!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Surely it is not for a writer to say what is their ‘best’. I can only nominate a personal favourite. And that is my second book, ‘Ludo’, because it is more personal than any of the others.
Obviously, I would like to think my ‘best’ is yet to come!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Like yin and yang, a bit of both. Everything in balance. Chaos on the fringe, order in the middle. When it gets out of balance, I stack.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Of course, I read a lot for research, so a great deal of non–fiction. But a writer is always researching, so when I read for pleasure I try to ferret out writers I may have missed along the way. Currently I am catching up on Ken Kesey.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I can date my epiphany to ‘Wuthering Heights’. After that I was never again interested in ‘books for boys’. What was adventure compared to raw emotion? Next stop before Damascus was ‘Catch 22’. I read that three times in a row before putting it aside. And picked it up again a year later, and a few times since. On the other hand, I read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ when I was 16 and couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about? That Holden Caulfield — so what?

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Ulysses, perhaps. Always enjoyed a good odyssey. Or maybe that schoolmaster that Holden Caulfield pays a visit to early in Catcher. It would give me a chance to say what I think of him. You have to be cruel to be kind to dumb animals sometimes.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Not so surprising: old movies are an eternal fascination. Coming across a film noir I’ve not seen before is my eureka moment. Other than that, I’m always happy with an odyssey along lonely roads in the western states of the US. That’s a character I could be: Tod or Buz in that ancient ‘Route 66’ TV series. Not literature, perhaps, but interesting stories. And that Corvette!!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My favourite is the Peranakan food we eat in Penang. Sharp, hot, sour, exciting, exquisite. Nowhere else in Southeast Asia, not even Thailand or Vietnam, can match Penang. I drink
mostly water, but when not so prosaic, I would choose ketla, a fresh lime and sour plum drink in Penang.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Ummmmm … Haven’t really had one since I was a kid and my father used to sing the praises of Keith Miller. ‘Do you know how he set a cricket field, son?’ ‘No, Dad.’ ‘Scatter, was all he’d say.’ Bloody hell! There was a man who understood leadership. Other than him – John Curtin, Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating. You might see a pattern developing there.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Keeping narrative alive. By that I mean stories that are longer than 144 characters, or a blog post. Stories – more than laws or achievements or history – are what have always defined the world’s various cultures: Shakespeare, Balzac, Goethe, Mark Twain. Henry Lawson! However they are delivered – printed, digital or around the campfire – we risk
losing long form narrative. What’s left to tell us about Czarist Russia? Plenty of Tolstoy.

www.boydmandersonauthor.com

Player Profile: Chris Muir, author of A Savage Garden

CM001_10Chris Muir, author of A Savage Garden

Tell us about your latest creation:

It’s a powerful, thought -provoking and action-packed thriller set in the lawless wilds of the Congo. A Savage Garden takes you inside the Congo’s secret wars and one man’s battle to save the child soldiers who fight them. I’m originally from Brisbane…about a bazillion years ago. I’ve lived in New York, London, Paris and Singapore but Sydney has been home for many years.

Layout 1Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m originally from Brisbane…about a bazillion years ago. I’ve lived in New York, London, Paris and Singapore but Sydney has been home for many years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I always wanted to be a doctor but I sucked at things like maths and science and excelled at English. I guess it’s little wonder that I’m writing these days.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Convention would have me say that my next book will be my best work but I think that nice little book set in a Boston mental hospital that I wrote about five years ago will find a voice one day…every story has its time.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in my office at my advertising agency. It’s packed with about 30 years of memorabilia…which is a handy euphemism for ‘mess’…but it’s my mess….and there’s some good stuff amongst it. By contrast, my desk is pristine.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read just about everything from the back of the cornflakes packet to the Quran (which I’ve just read as research for my next book). The only genre I avoid is SciFi. My favourite book of all time is A Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry…you gotta read it!

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The first proper book that I remember ie no pictures, was My Compass Points to Treasure by Lt. Harry E Rieseberg which was given to me as a prize for topping a temperance exam…go figure. After that Shakespeare’s work kind of got hold of me but that may have been because my father was a Shakespearean actor.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I was asked this question the other day and I said that I’m a combination of Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe, Jay Gatsby and Atticus Finch…which for all you amateur psychologists probably means that I like roughing it but like the finer things in life and a good argument.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I compete in ultra marathons (50-100kms) which probably means that I’m totally insane.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I trained in Paris for 2 years as a chef so I’m a bit fussy but I like fresh produce cooked simply that lets the real flavours shine through. Drinkwise, I’m partial to red. I remember once being given a forty year old Chateau Mouton Rothschild and putting it down to drink on some special day but I got home one night, ordered a pizza and drank it. Tres decadent.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I had a very mixed relationship with my father. We didn’t really get on but years after he died I had my own kids and I got to wondering how he ever managed to bring up the me and my 4 brothers and sisters when there was never any money in the house. He’s my posthumous hero.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The next generation of readers will be used to consuming the written word in small bites. News reporting is going that way, web sites are doing the same thing and blogs are getting sharper and sharper…I’ve even made the chapters in my new book short and sharp and almost self-contained so that people can bite it off in manageable chunks. The future of the printed book? I still prefer paper to a tablet but things change and I think that generational predilections will take care of that in time. As hard copies of school books disappear so will ‘paper’ books. It will be a shame, but it will happen.

Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/chris.muir.9256
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/chrismuirwriter

Player Profile: Loretta Hill, author of The Girl in the Yellow Vest

hill, lorettaLoretta Hill, author of The Girl in the Yellow Vest

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Girl in the Yellow Vest. (Out Jan 2014) Set on the glorious Queensland coast, it’s all about falling in love with the wrong guy.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m from Perth and I still call this city home.

9781742757377When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I have always wanted to be an author but I had a detour into engineering along the way. I think that’s why I’m so good at writing books set on construction
sites.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

“The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” will always have it’s own place in my heart as it was my first book published with Random House. But I really love, “The Girl in the Yellow Vest” and think it’s my best work yet.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a study but I share it with my husband. So it’s rather messy and there’s stuff all over the place.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

My favourite author of all time is Georgette Heyer. But I enjoy books by Sophia Kinsella, Judith McNaught, Jane Green, Jane Costello, Monica McInerney and many more.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Those written by Georgette Heyer.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be Elizabeth Bennet, pushing the boundaries of society.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Run around after four kids.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Coffee and Chocolate. Both together is also a winning combination.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My mum. She’s such a giving, kind soul.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Finding the time to get to everything you want to read.

Website URL: www.lorettahill.com.au
Blog URL: www.lorettahill.wordpress.com

Player Profile: Candice Fox, author of Hades

24548-059Candice Fox, author of Hades

Tell us about your latest creation:

Hades is Book One of the Bennett/Archer series, and is available December(ish) 2013 with Random House. Hades Archer, the man they call the Lord of the Underworld, surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem – for a fee. One night, a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost’. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything. Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on. Frank is now on the hunt for a very different kind of serial killer: one who offers the sick and dying hope at murderous cost. At first, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. Soon, he’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they’re after.

9780857981172Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Bankstown, but I’m now an Eastern Beaches girl. My family have been Eastern suburbs people from way back, and while I’m not a beach bum myself I do enjoy running, writing and drinking chilled wine alongside it.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I’ve wanted to be everything you can imagine. At fourteen, I was determined to be a tattoo artist. I got my solo pilot’s license for a Cessna 150 at 16 and told everyone I was going to teach people to fly. I spent my late teens managing restaurants and bars and joined the navy at 18. So on the job front I’ve been around. But that was employment, and I’ve never considered writing possible employment. I’ve been writing and telling stories from a very young age and have used it at different times to actively create my own person, to escape from my chaotic world or to develop my skills in the hope of showing people into my little universes. It’s always been more of an instinct than a desire to be paid.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I consider HADES my best work – thus far. I wrote four other novels before HADES that together accumulated 200 rejection letters, so I suppose HADES has been the only thing to break through into the public domain and I am proud of it for that. I am determined to improve as a writer and am excited to go on exploring my own tastes and interests, so I don’t have any plans for HADES to remain my best.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is trashtastic. And it’s a part of the living room. So things fall over in it all the time and it’s constantly invaded by episodes of Dr Phil. It’s littered with water bottles and coffee cups and books and scraps of paper. The desk chair is covered in cat hair and you can hear the main road from it. But a more beautiful or ordered place isn’t available to me, and I don’t think it would help the work even if it was. When I was a kid, I shared my family home with five of my siblings and at times half a dozen of Sydney’s most dangerous and disadvantaged children, so noise was something I learnt to deal with. When I want to get out of here I wander down to a variety of busy beachside cafes and make a mess of the tables there. Watch people, insert them into the text. I think you have to go exploring now and then to keep the work fresh. People are far more unpredictable and complex than you imagine, and you only learn how by being among them as you write.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Tragically at the moment I’m unable to read anything other than what’s necessary for my PhD, but I’ve been a big crime reader for many years. I’m a dedicated Peter Temple fan and have learnt much from him about masculinity and beauty and sorrow in the lives of cops.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I grew up rummaging through my mother’s true crime collection while my friends were reading Goosebumps and the Chronicles of Narnia. There were scarce funds in our house for children’s literature so you read what you could get. I was a big newspaper reader.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be Joe Cashin from Peter Temple’s ‘The Broken Shore’. When I was younger and more emotional I would have said Anne Rice’s Lestat DeLioncourt, but I don’t want to live forever.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I run. I’m a big of a fitness junkie at the moment but I’m sure it won’t last long. One of my favourite things to do is go to dinner with a loved one, drink and eat too much and fall into deep and philosophical conversations. Surprise you? Every now and then when the mood strikes me I strap some kind of funny hat to my cat and photograph him. Share these on Facebook with witty captions. I like to throw the ball for my dog at the local park. Lie around in the sunshine.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I suppose the proper measure would be my last meal. Salami/anchovy pizza, and a bottle of nice Merlot.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have a particular hero in mind. I believe as a society we’ve spent a bit of time normalising the idea that you should be considered a hero because of your place in the limelight, your celebrity, your grandiose achievements. I was watching one of those medical reality TV shows the other night and watched a guy stitch up some assault victim’s heart while it was still beating. I didn’t even catch the doctor’s name. He’ll win no award for it. I have a supreme respect for law enforcement and medical professionals.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The competition of other forms of entertainment. It is getting extremely difficult to be bored at any given time any more. Riding the bus is becoming an orchestrated audio/visual experience. I’m concerned the humble book might get pushed aside by effortless and endlessly diverse hand-held and mobile entertainment.

Website URL: www.candicefoxauthor.com
Blog URL: www.candicefoxauthor.com
Facebook Page URL: www.facebook.com/candicefoxauthor

Doodles and Drafts – An interview with Em Horsfield – Santa’s Magic Beard

Santa's Magic BeardTis almost the season to be jolly and over-indulge a little. And because it takes more than just Santa and a bit of tinsel to make the season jingle and jive, I’ve invited author, Em Horsfield along to share more about the creation of newly released picture book, Santa’s Magic Beard.

Time settle back with a cuppa and early fruit mince pie…

Em HorsfieldQ Who is Em Horsfield? Tell us about the scribe in you.

I grew up in South Africa with my parents, older brother and Oscar, my favourite hound. I have always written stories. From the silly age of seven I began scribbling ridiculous rhymes about family and friends, often far-fetched tales about my mum, which I’m sure she didn’t appreciate!

I took things a little more seriously when I attended the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg and completed an honours degree – Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, majoring in television, film, writing and psychology.

It was during this time that I wrote a collection of illustrated poems entitled, Poems for Kiddies and Adults Like Me. I am constantly inspired by the ridiculous – Roald Dahl will always be a favourite as will Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Quentin Blake and Tim Burton.

After completing my degree, I freelanced as a writer for OutCulture – an online magazine at the time, and also worked as an editorial assistant for the Analytical Reporter. As soon as I’d saved enough pennies, I packed my bags for London, where I continued to write, in between playing PA to the CEO at United Business Media and running networking events throughout the UK.

I then chose to travel the world some more and explored parts of Asia and Australia – an experience that both challenged and intrigued…and inspired many a tale! I joined the Macadamia House team in 2012 and found myself living alongside my better half on a macadamia farm in Redland Bay. It was here where I immersed myself in the world of Nosh the Nutmobile and scribbled his adventures – all based on true stories inspired by farm life. Publishing three books has been a true highlight.

Writing is how I express myself. Incapable of taking myself too seriously, I prefer to dabble in the imaginary realms or chuckle at the ridiculous truths of life. I live out my days doing what I love best: creating, writing and walking a large basset hound who answers to the name of Duncan…yet never comes when he’s called!

Q We know many of the storylines for the Nosh Nutmobile books stem from real life events but where did the concept of this adventurous series originate from? Was it purely a need for you to write about your farm experiences or did it evolve organically as a collaborative effort?

Well as you may have guessed, the story revolves around the Nutmobile. Many people have fond memories of the Aussie icon from his old home – chugging round the Big Pineapple, amusing crowds.  When the Big Pineapple closed its doors, the Bromet Family – macadamia farmers and owners of Macadamia House – bought the Nutmobile and relocated him to Bauple in July 2011. Bauple, for those of you who don’t know, is the home of the original macadamia – what better place for a Nutmobile really!

It was only till their first grandson was born – Max – that the idea came about to write a book. The Bromet family wanted to give something to Max that he would always remember. I joined the team in 2012 and together with Glen, set to work creating farm inspired tales that would not only amuse but also promote healthy messages for kids growing up.

Em Fraser Coast Chronicle
Image attributed to Fraser Coast Chronicle

Living on a farm was also an entirely new experience for me, so yes, I guess creating the Nutmobile series was a great way for me to express and make sense of my new farm life!

Q Describe your writing passion. What do you enjoy most about writing for kids?

Well, I am quite simply an over-grown kid myself so it’s something that comes quite naturally to me! I seem to relate to the random silliness of kids and their imaginative minds where anything is possible. I enjoy playing in their world. On the flip side, I enjoy the challenge of writing for kids – crafting a colourfully complex tale, layered with meaning and disguising it in a simple 15 verse rhyming structure.

I also love the characters I am allowed to create. From a very young age, I collected soft toys – never dolls – just hundreds of hippos, elephants, cows and other bizarre animal creatures. Many of them have travelled the world with me and continue to do so! They fuelled my imaginative mind growing up and continue to do so at the crusty age of 30! I really struggle with human characters – nearly all my characters have a furry back or a fine fleece, which again steered me away from romantic novels and into the realm of the 32 pg picture book.

em_and_herdWriting the Nutmobile series was a good compromise between the real and the unreal and allowed me to grow as a writer. It challenged me to communicate true stories – often singed with serious issues such as devastating floods or bullying – and craft them into humorous rhymes starring eccentric emus and culinary roos;  into colourful tales which children could digest and draw meaning from.

Q Have you penned any other stories or poems for children, if so what are they? Would you like to continue?

I have indeed. As mentioned, while studying many years back, I created a collection of poems / stories in rhyme, entitled ‘Poems for Kiddies and Adults Like Me’. Having worked on the Nutmobile series for close on two years, I’m keen to take a little break from Nosh and co. and revisit some of my earlier writing.

Q As with all of the Nutmobile books, they are written in rhyming verse. Is this the style you feel most comfortable writing in? Why so?

It must be, because even when I’m sick to death of the rhyming riddles, they always find their way on to my page! Stressing different beats of a story, allows one to communicate subtle meanings in a story, those which without the rhythm may otherwise go undetected. I have written many, many Nutmobile tales to date and only one is written in a different style – different but not completely rhyme-free!

It may have something to do with my musical background. My mum is a music teacher, so growing up, I was subjected to a daily dose of tunes as several little darlings descended on our abode for their weekly lesson. I have been surrounded by music my whole life and share a great love for the art – I guess without knowing it, I have been writing my own melodies, scribbling them down in rhythm and rhyme.

All that being said, I am also keen to step out my comfort zone and challenge myself to explore other styles. I’ll keep you posted!

Santa's Magic Beard SpreadQ Santa’s Magic Beard is the third in the Nosh series. Will there be more? Do you have a favourite?

Having lived alongside Nosh and his furry crew for close on two years, I have been lucky enough to join them on all their adventures – of which there have been many…it would be most selfish of me not to share!  Out of the three adventures that have been published so far, Santa’s Magic Beard is my firm favourite. Being a big fan of Christmas festivities (me too!), I was delighted when Nosh stumbled upon the jolly man in red! ‘Barnabas the Bully Frog’ is another tale that tickles my fancy but let’s not give away too many secrets now!

Just for fun question: If you had an unlimited supply of macadamia nuts, what would you do with them?

It’s really tough but, as them macs are the hardest nut in the world to crack, I guess I’d makes myself some kind of superhero suit – call it my macca d’armour’ if you will, thereby making me invincible!

Excellent Em.

Santa’s Magic Beard is magic for 3- 6 year olds and fanatics of Christmas like me.

Little Steps Publishing – New Frontier Oct 2013

Look for it and more of the Nutmobile Series here.

Click here to get into the spirit of Christmas early. 20% Discount is on NOW!

 

 

 

Doodles and Drafts – A visit from Santa and Glen Singleton

Santa's Magic BeardIs there anybody else out there who, like me, thinks it can’t possibly be only 5 weeks until Christmas? Just 37 days left to sort the cards, deck the halls, knock back a cup or two of good cheer and squeeze in a few book signings, never mind about drafting a list for Santa.

Thankfully the crafty, creative critters at Macadamia House have been working harder than a workshop full of elves and come up with a sensational gift solution sure to lessen your pre-Christmas planning predicaments.

Santa’s Magic Beard hits the shelves this month and is a glorious celebration of the real magic and meaning of Christmas. Author, Em Horsfield and illustrator, Glen Singleton, successfully team up again for a third time in the Nutmobile series, delivering a veritable feast of words in rhyme and visual scintillation.

Santa’s Magic Beard is possibly my favourite book in the series to date. This could in part be due to my colossal obsession with all things Christmassy or simply because this tale is told with sincere warmth and respect for the season with just enough magic stirred in to make it fun and unique.

Santa's Magic Beard.jpg NoshIt’s Christmas Eve and all the characters of Macadamia farm work hard on their Christmas wish-lists before snuggling down to await the big man’s arrival. However, Nosh the Nutmobile’s wish is of a less tangible quality. He wants to know how the reindeer actually fly. Is it really just a case of magical elf dust sprinkled liberally on their pre-flight carrots as we’ve been led to believe?

Thanks to some typical seasonal over-indulgence on behalf of Rudolph and the team, Nosh not only receives his gift but is treated to the night of his life, with Santa. As with all things ‘magical, marvellous, woolly and weird’, the rest is best left for you to discover yourself.

Santa’s Magic Beard is as memorable as sinking your teeth into the first fruit mince pie of the season and will have you yearning for more, therefore making it a delight to read over and over. It is crammed full with the very essence of Christmas in a way many young lovers of Christmas will relate to (awakening on Christmas morning to a mountain of gifts for instance) yet happily reminds us of the old adage that giving is ultimately far better than receiving.

Primary aged children will soak up this cheery picture book either as a lead-up read to Christmas or as a special treat in their Christmas stockings this year.

And because it’s the season to be jolly and admittedly excess a little, this week we’re featuring not one but two interviews with the creators of Santa’s Magic Beard.

Glen SingletonToday, Glen Singleton, quiet achiever and talented artist behind the Nutmobile picture books reveals how he differs from Santa and likes drawing animals in clothes.

Q Who is Glen Singleton? Describe the illustrator in you and what sets your work apart from other Aussie illustrators.

I was born in Brisbane and have lived and worked here all of my life. After leaving High School I studied Illustration and Animation at QLD College of Art graduating with a Diploma Of Art (Visual Communications) in 1979 . Only making up my mind in the last few days of High School to enrol. Obviously I had always had a love for drawing and spent most of my spare time squirrelled away drawing intricate pen and ink line drawings with some old Rapidiograph pens my Dad gave me. I chose a complicated cross-hatched style for some reason to try to master. Very slow and labourious with every drawing like an etching. After leaving college I decided to take the big scary step to go to working freelance. Having no choice really as no one employed illustrators full time. So have been on that rollercoaster ride ever since. Sometimes stuck at the bottom of that big tower the rollercoaster climbs…creeping to the top…before it rushes down the other side again.

In that time back in the early 90’s I met the late (great) illustrator Greg Rogers through illustration work I was commissioned to do for a Government department he worked for. We often talked of the idea of illustrating childrens books. Greg heard of a weekend workshop Scholastic were putting on and we both went off to attend and learn about the joys and love you need to illustrate them. I don’t recall a lot of what they said at the time. But there were a few words that have stuck with me over the years. They said you will probably need to draw them ‘for the love of it’. How right they were . If only we were paid for the time we really put into each book. It certainly takes a lot of love!

But cant think of anything better than sitting at my drawing board working on illustrations for a book (preferably on a bleak rainy day) listening to music in my own little world.

What sets me apart..? I don’t know. I’ve probably made a name for myself drawing mostly typical Australian stuff. A lot of it based on animals. Hopefully not too stereotyped . Suppose you have to follow the text that’s given to you really. One book leads to another sometimes . Most of the animals I draw are wearing clothes too. Don’t they all..? A throw back to growing up having Beatrix Potter’s -The Tales of Peter Rabbit read to me possibly and sticking somewhere in the back of my mind. But funnily I always thought I would love to have a crack at illustrating something like The Wind In The Willows ..love all things British and would love to live and work there. That….may never happen. I might have to be happy with just having been there a few times for holidays. But have written some stories of my own that are aimed at the market in that part of the world. Illustrating them is something else. I’ll let you know if it ever happens!

Q When did the desire to draw and create manifest itself in you?

I can remember drawing way back to when I was little. My parents always encouraged me to draw. At school I recall having more drawings in the back half of my Maths pad…than Maths in the front. I still passed Maths…just. But hopefully the drawings in the back paid off in some way. Being paid to doodle now.

Glen S illo 3Q Santa’s favourite colour is red. What’s yours and how does it influence or restrict what you illustrate?

Yes ..Santa likes his red. I like cyan blue myself. And violet. But don’t tell anyone. I do use both of those colours here and there in all of my illustrations .Squeezing them out of little bottles of acrylic colour and onto my watercolour paper. Get as many of those clashing cartoony colours on the paper as I can.

Q Describe how you develop your illustrations?

Glen S at workThe illustrations for children’s picture books start as you would expect. Reading the manuscript. That’s usually in an email from the publishers . Like most people I see little flashes or pictures of what’s happening in the story as I read it..jotting down little scribbles on the side of the sheet as I go.

Then it’s to a storyboard layout for the whole book from cover to cover so everyone can see at a glance what’s happening through the whole book in a few A4 pages . After approval from the editors it’s on to the final larger pencil roughs where all the details are pencilled in. That’s ALL of the details. Probably a little too tight for some illustrators who like to be a little more spontaneous. But this way…they see all of the expressions and details so they know what they are getting before it all goes to ink and colour where it’s way harder to change if they don’t like something.

Glen at work 3Q What is your favourite medium to work in? Pen, ink and watercolour has always been my preferred medium. Nothing digital at this stage…apart from a little PhotoShop in other commercial illustrations .

Q You are an artist of prolific variation Glen. Where has your work appeared?

Since the early 1990’s I’ve put out illustrations for books ranging from black line illustrations for joke books to full colour picture books and commercial illustrations as well.

The Golden Kangaroo– Illustrated books- FATHER KOALA’S NUSRERY RHYMES- Kel Richards—- FATHER KOALA’S FAIRY TALES- Kel Richards—FATHER KOALA’S FABLES- Kel Richards—THE GOLDEN KANGAROO- Garrison Valentine/ John Williamson—JOHN WILLIAMSON’S CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA- John Williamson AND KANGAROO PLAYED HIS DIDGERIDOO- Nigel Gray CINDY ELLA- Tom Champion THE LAMINGTON MAN- Kel Richards SANTA KOALA- Colin Buchanan THE TWELVE DAYS OF AUSSIE CHRISTMAS- Colin Buchanan ALL ABOARD THE NUTMOBILE- Em HorsfieldMacadamia House THE HARVEST RACE- Em Horsfield –Macadamia House SANTA’S MAGIC BEARD- Em Horsfield– Macadamia House

– Art shows / exhibitions—Not as yet. Might get around to it someday….perhaps! If someone wants to pay for all the framing!

– Other media—I’ve produced illustrations over the years for advertising agencies and art studios and direct with clients . But styles and fashions change as things do , so mainly childrens books now these days.

Q You seem to have an affinity for Christmas themed picture books. What other children’s books have you illustrated? Do you have a favourite?

It’s probably not that I have an affinity with Christmas books. I just seem to have been asked to do a lot of them. Hopefully it’s because they’ve sold enough to lead on to another…and another. Infact I’m working on one right now ..for Christmas next year… 2014. Nothing like getting in early for Christmas. And have SANTA’S MAGIC BEARD –Macadamia House out this Christmas.

Lamington ManBut my favourite book is probably THE LAMINGTON MAN-Kel Richards and/or CINDY ELLA- Tom Champion.

Q Some might say, competency improves output? How long, on average does it take you to complete illustrations for a picture book?

Most of the colour picture books take anywhere from 8 weeks (at a real push) to about 3 months from first reading the text to couriering off the artwork. There is a LOT of work in every one.

Q What was the hardest thing about illustrating the Nosh Nutmobile Series? What was the most enjoyable?

The Nutmobile series for Macadamia House . Three books illustrated in total to date. There was nothing exceptionally hard about drawing the books for the team. It’s been pretty enjoyable really. When they came to sit at the drawing board to talk over the possibility of drawing the books for them, there were plenty of visual images that popped out of the text at first glance. So always a good sign or indicator of how illustrating a book may go.

Q Name one ‘I’ll never forget that’ moment in your illustrating career thus far.

Twelve Days of Aussie ChristmasProbably the day the editor I was working with at Scholastic in Sydney phoned me to say the artwork for my ‘Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas’ children’s picture book had been delivered by the courier to their office……(then there was a long pause)…then there was a …BUT … The artwork was damaged she said. It was bent and had holes in it . It was either driven over by a forklift or jammed in the hydraulic cargo door of the plane (that’s my theory anyway)..on its way down to Sydney and had creases across all of the illustrations and a hole punched through about a half of the illustrations. Three months work with creases and holes!

Thankfully as bad as it was, the artwork was salvageable…I had seen myself having to re-draw things…But I didn’t have re-draw anything. With some skilful handy work from the graphic designer (and PhotoShop) the book went to print without anyone knowing of any of the drama.

Q What is on the storyboard for Glen?

Another Christmas book for next Christmas 2014 that I’m working on…. A Dinosaur book already illustrated and another Nutmobile book ready to start.

Just for fun question: If you had an unlimited supply of macadamia nuts, what would you do with them?

I’d have no use for them other than a handful now and then. So I’d send them by the truckload to Macadamia House for them to sell to fund the next dozen books in their series they have planned for me to illustrate. You can only eat so many nuts……..(unlike reindeers apparently!)

Thankyou Glen!

Keep your reindeer antenna tuned in for the next visitor to the Draft table – Em Horsfield.

Find out more about any of the books mentioned in this post or purchase a copy here.

Little Steps Publishing November 2013

 

Doodles and Drafts – A not-so-BLAH Blog Tour with Karen Tyrrell

In the time I spent crewing at sea, I endured several disabling bouts of seasickness. Once established, it’s a difficult malaise to throw off. The one thing that helped (besides boxes of seasick tablets) was knowing that others were suffering as well, often far worse than I. Have you ever encountered that? Symptoms (of nausea) miraculously evaporate in the presence of one who is experiencing worse than you. It’s empowering in a uniquely weird human kind of way.

Bailey Beats the BlahA similar change of physical and mental state occurs in the young protagonist in Karen Tyrrell’s debut picture book, Bailey Beats the BLAH.

Tyrrell noted for her work on speaking up and out for mental health awareness, is keen to tackle the issues surrounding the mental well-being of our young people. Depression and its associated ills can plague children as young as six, undermining their self-esteem, confidence and emotional security.

Karen TyrrellNobody readily embraces the discord change and upheaval produces and being friendless at school can be a catalyst for such dread. Bailey experiences not only this but a myriad of other anxieties and fears accumulating in a colossal feeling of BLAH.

‘Sad days’ become his norm. Self-dislike, apathy, paranoia and discontent appear his closest companions, even after Fuzzy, his dog, tries to intervene. We eventually learn that all Bailey really wants is a friend, someone to share his solitude and banish his despair. Turns out, the new kid, Tom, is more prone to ‘seasickness’ so to speak, than Bailey. Forgetting his own discomforts or perhaps recognising the need to help Tom overcome his, Bailey allows Tom into his world. Together they find a common link and forge a salving friendship.

‘Dramatically speaking, intent is everything’* and Tyrrell’s unabashed use of force-filled verbs leaves no doubt as to the degree of sadness weighing so heavily on Bailey. The leaden seriousness of Bailey’s situation is thankfully beautifully balanced by the cartoonisque illustrations of Aaron Pocock.

Aaron Pocock at work
Aaron Pocock at work

His upbeat portrayal of Bailey has busloads of eye-popping kiddie appeal while the use of bright colours and thoughtful visual detail allows us to feel all of Bailey’s glumness and pain without being overwhelmed by it.

Bailey Beats the BLAH’s no frills approach and design ensures there is no ambiguity in its message to young readers and carers: that we can all suffer bad, sad days no matter whom or how old we are, but we need never suffer alone.

Perfect for 4 – 8 year olds, this picture book will be useful as a discussion tool in counselling and early education situations.

Digital Future Press October 2013

*The Art of Racing in the Rain-Garth Stein

Bailey Beats the Blah launch Oct 2013Embracing the cause to share important life messages through the medium of picture books, I was honoured to officially launch Bailey Beats the BLAH with Karen Tyrrell and a colourful cast of characters at the Black Cat Book Shop recently and managed to pull her aside to answer a few quick questions. Here’s what she had to say…

Q Karen, this is your first picture book. What prompted you to focus on the mental well-being of children as its topic?

When I was a teacher, parents at my school harassed me until breaking point. Luckily I recovered, becoming a mental health advocate, passionate about teaching resilience skills. After the success of my breakthrough memoirs, ME & HER: A Memoir of Madness and ME & HIM: A Guide to Recovery I wanted to create a picture book to empower kids with bounce-back-ability.

Q You’ve worked for many years as an educator of children. Is Bailey’s character, based on anyone you know personally or from you own experiences as a child?

I’ve taught many kids like Bailey. Sad, stressed-out or withdrawn kids are becoming far too common in our over-stressful and pressurized world.

Q Is Bailey a character you see tackling other kid issues in future picture book stories? What’s next for Bailey?

I’m developing MORE picture books to empower children to live happier, healthier and more functional lives.

Q What’s on the draft table for Karen Tyrell? More self-help, another picture book?

I’m working on two mental health books: A chapter book for mid-graders plus a fiction novel for teenagers. Both books encourage young people to deal with their mental health issues they encounter at home and at school.

Q If you could pass on one golden piece of advice to kids like Bailey who are suffering BLAH days, what would it be?

Don’t suffer alone. Reach out to others: your friends, your family, your teacher to help you overcome those BLAH days.

Kids, you hold within yourselves all the POWER you need to stamp out the BLAH.

Q What’s one thing on your non-writing wish list you’d like to tick off?

My dream is to return to school as an author-teacher, to share Bailey Beats the BLAH, helping children and their families to turn their BLAH into ha-ha-ha!

Thanks Karen for sharing your dreams and passion with Boomerang.

Why not join Karen as she bops around the cyberphere on tour with Bailey. Scroll down for a chance to win a great prize or two. Simply leave a comment and you are in the draw to win!

Bailey Blog Tour & Book Giveaway

3rd Nov http://www.creativekidstales.com.au/authors/pitch-ya-book/pitch-ya-book.html

4th Nov http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

5th Nov http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au

6th Nov http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

7th Nov http://www.robinadolphs.com/blog/

8th Nov

9th Nov www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au

10th Nov

11th Nov http://squigglemum.com

12th Nov http://www.nickyjohnston.com.au/blog/

13th Nov http://nccparentsplace.wordpress.com/

14th Nov http://authorjillsmith.wordpress.com/

15th Nov http://natashatracy.com/topic/bipolar-blog/

16th Nov http://buginabook.org/category/childrens-books/

17th Nov http://www.writeawaywithme.com/blog/

18th Nov http://angelasunde.blogspot.com

Bailey Beats the Blah Book Giveaway

WIN: Copies of Bailey Beats the Blah, a signed Bailey artwork by illustrator Aaron Pocock and a picture book assessment with chief editor at Book Cover Café.

Leave a comment on any of the 16 hops on the Bailey Beats the Blah tour Nov 3rd -18th. The more comments you leave the MORE chances to WIN.

WINNERS announced on Nov 20th at www. karentyrrell.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player Profile: Jessica Owers, author of Shannon

Celebrity_photographers_sydney_glamour_nudes_art_photography_SeductiveJessica Owers, author of Shannon

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘Shannon’, for release by Random House (Ebury Press) on 1 November 2013.

Wartime Sydney, a small and weedy racehorse was kicking his way through the top tier of Australian racing. He was Shannon, one of the fastest horses the nation had ever seen. Between 1943 and 1947, Shannon broke record after record with his garrulous jockey Darby Munro. When they sensationally lost the Epsom Handicap by six inches, they forever were stamped by the race
they should have won.

Sold in August 1947 for the highest price ever paid at auction for an Australian thoroughbred, Shannon ended up in America. Through headline-snatching pedigree flaws, acclimatization and countless hardships, he blitzed across the ritzy, glitzy racetracks of 1948 California. Smashing track records, world records, records set by Seabiscuit, the Australian bolted into world fame with speed and courage that defied all odds.

Long before Black Caviar, or So You Think and Takeover Target, Shannon was Australia’s first international racehorse. Starring Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys, Hollywood lawyers and legends Bernborough and Citation, this is his tremendous story.

9781742750248Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Home is Sydney, its Eastern Suburbs to be exact. I am a very loyal Sydneysider.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As a child, I first wanted to be an author above anything else. When I was about six or seven, I called it a ‘book writer’. I had no idea my radar was so spot on
back then.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My newest book, ‘Shannon’, is my greatest work. It is my second book, and I have come a long way down the road of narrative nonfiction. I have learned my craft and I’d like to think I’ve learned it well. I am immensely proud of ‘Shannon’.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?: I write in a little enclave office in my townhouse.

My desk is a huge, beautiful, leather-topped thing, and unless I am in the middle of a chapter or article, it is very neat. Behind me is a floor to ceiling built-in cabinet of racing books. It has become a lovely writing space.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read racing almost all the time… biographies by other racing authors from around the world, historical racing books, anything that makes me more educated about my genre. But I also love these books, so it’s not a chore for me to read them. Outside of that, I love to read about the craft of writing, and I go
back to a few select works of fiction too – ‘We Of The Never Never’ in particular.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

‘Playing Beattie Bow’ is one of the earliest novels that left an impression on my
childhood, and then as a teenager I was impressed with ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, which was on the high-school curriculum.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Mrs Aeneas Gunn (née Jeannie Gunn), the central character in ‘We Of The Never Never’. Though largely biographical, Mrs Gunn spins an extraordinary adventure in 1901 Northern Territory. I wouldn’t mind having memories like hers. Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?: I love to hit the open road. It’s one of my great, great passions.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I can’t resist a good vegetable lasagne (I know, so boring), and I am addicted to Coca-Cola (which gets much worse in the middle of a manuscript).

Who is your hero? Why?:

I might not call him ‘my hero’, but Stephen King has been an enormous writing hero for me. His discipline, his attitude to writing well and his resultant success have been tremendous guidelines for my own career. He has been a standout (absentee) mentor.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Without a doubt… the digital age. My children will grow up in it. They will read on tablets and phone screens in abbreviated text sentences, and less and less they will learn grammar and proper sentence structure, the ability to write well. And I expect there will be a day when they won’t ever need to pick up a hardcopy book, so where will that leave us authors?

Website URL: http://www.jessicaowers.com
Blog URL: http://www.jessicaowers.com/blog/index.html
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/ms_peterpan

Player Profile: Judy Nunn, author of Elainne

2012-Judy-Nunn-Photograph-300x300Judy Nunn, author of Elainne

Tell us about your latest creation:

My latest novel is titled ELIANNE and is to be published on November 1st by Random House. Elianne is the name of my fictional sugar plantation/mill/estate in the southern cane fields of Queensland.  The main story is set in the 1960’s and follows the lives of the Durham family, with flashbacks to the nineteenth century when the mill was first established.

9781742758381Where are you from / where do you call home?:

My childhood hometown was Perth – a place and a state of which I am very fond, but the majority of my adult life has been spent in the eastern states, predominantly Sydney. When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?: At the age of ten I wanted to become an actor and an author.  I’ve become both and love being both.  Aren’t I lucky!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Each book I write is my best book.  Writing is learning experience and I like to think I get better with each one.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is a glorious mixture of order and chaos. I know exactly where everything is, although other people would have no idea.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Every book I’ve been dying to read during the 18 months I’ve been committed to my own work. I don’t read other people’s fiction while I write my own – research books only. It’s such a treat putting my head in someone else’s world.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

R.M. Ballantyne’s ‘The Coral Island’, which I read at eight years of age and which still sits on my book shelf. I can see it from here.  ‘The Coral Island’ inspired me to write my first novel at 9 years of age.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Edith Campbell-Berry in Frank Moorhouse’s trilogy because she’s so bold, so ahead of her time and so outrageously female, and amazingly created by a man. Well done Frank.  I seriously love Edith.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I indulge myself.  Eating, drinking, stimulating conversation!  Travelling, seeing things, observing, learning something new every day!  Life’s too short and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A real Vindaloo curry, no holds barred piping hot, a delicate dish of scampi, grilled no fancy stuff added, sashimi, oysters – Sydney rocks, freshly shucked – and a good eye fillet steak cooked rare.  All of the above accompanied by either a good ‘wooded’ Chardonnay or full-bodied Shiraz, preferably Australian.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m not mad about the word ‘hero’.  Heroes have a habit of developing feet of clay.  I have admired many people over the years and many people have influenced my life.  I couldn’t possibly single one out.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The management of electronic literature, but everything will work out all right because people will always want books, in whichever form they choose to read them.

Website URL: judynunn.com.au

Player Profile: Peter FitzSimons, author of Ned Kelly

fitzsimons, peterPeter FitzSimons, author of Ned Kelly

Tell us about your latest creation:

Ned Kelly. It is written in the form of a novel, but – with 2000 footnotes – is all true. I want readers to not only read the story, but actually feel like they are IN the story. It is a staggering tale that has fascinated Australians for over 130 years, and I wanted to do it in an entirely different fashion.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

A writer, a Test cricketer, a Wimbledon winner, Prime Minister and even astronaut.

9781742758909

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My book on the shipwreck of the Batavia is probably the book I would put on my tombstone. It is the best yarn in the history of the world – but Ned Kelly runs it close!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I am nomadic. Sometimes in the study, often on the coach, always on long-haul flights and if being driven for long distances.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Frankly, I am mostly writing. And when reading, I tend to read extensively on the subject I am writing about. Beyond that, however, I love Dickens, Hunter S and sometimes Beevor.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Great Expectations. It took my breath away that writing could be so real. If you were a literary character, who would you be?: Pip, from Great Expectations. But I would go harder trying to get Estella to love me.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play a lot of tennis, a lot of touch football, a lot of basketball. I go to our farm and muck around with our kids.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Steak and too much white wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Muhammad Al. Because of his physical and moral courage.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Getting the younger generation to put down their iPads and iPhones and take up a book.

Twitter URL: @Peter_Fitz

Player Profile: Tony Davis, author of The Big Dry

IMG_0622-sepia copyTony Davis, author of The Big Dry

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Big Dry is a “tween” adventure story, set in a modern city where it hasn’t rained for seven years. Order has broken down and massive dust storms regularly blast across the increasingly dilapidated metropolis. Against this backdrop, two abandoned children are trying to survive: George, who has just turned thirteen, and his six-year-old brother “Beeper”. They have a fortified house but supplies of food and fresh water are dwindling. When it seems things can’t get much worse, the mysterious Emily breaks into their house and their lives and refuses to leave. It is aimed at the tween market – upper primary and lower high school – which is a really interesting and quite challenging age to write for.

9780732297633Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, Australia.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Always a writer, the only question was what type of writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Always the latest … that’s one advantage of being a writer ahead of an athlete. You should get better with age.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

It’s packed but pretty organised. I need a good chair and good music (with no words)to write well. And lots of tea.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Everything: kids and general titles, fiction and non. About to start Paul Barry’s new Murdoch family book – as soon as i finish this rather large Russian novel (Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman; it is extraordinary).

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Animal Farm by George Orwell. So clever on so many levels, even if I didn’t understand most of them at nine or ten.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Many of the characters I really admire … well, things don’t necessarily end very well for them. I think I’ll stick with being me.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Knocking around with my three school-age sons. Listening to music. Cycling. OK, no big surprises there. Sorry. I also test fast cars for a newspaper, but that’s kind of work.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Rocquefort cheese and coffee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

George Orwell. Fearless in print, fearless in life.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Keeping young people engaged in a world with so many tempting alternatives.

Website URL: www.thebigdry.com.au

Player Profile: Frances Whiting, author of Walking In Trampolines

whitingfrances01Frances Whiting, author of Walking In Trampolines

Tell us about your latest creation:

Walking on Trampolines. It’s a bit of a love letter to the Australia I grew up in. It’s also a story about the way friendships can mark us, and how most families are chaotic beneath the surface. Ultimately I think its about love.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Brisbane. Brissie. Bris Vegas. Brisney land in Queensland, a beautiful, quirky and strangely endearing town that also marks those who come from it.

9781742611204

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Yes, an author, but also a ballerina, a spy, a teacher, an actress, a singer, a dancer, an astronaut, an equestrian and a figure skater. I was keeping my options open.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Definitely Walking on Trampolines. Although I have had two books on non fiction out, which have been collections of the weekly Sunday column Ive been writing for 16 years, I consider Walking to be first “real” book. I think its my best work because I’m not tired of reading it myself yet, and I’ve been writing it for seven years, so I think that must say something!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Chaotic. For the most part I wrote Walking on Trampolines wherever I could find a quiet nook to do so. We don’t really have a proper office, so I found myself moving the computer around the house a lot, trying to find a space to call my own!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

If you took a photo of my bedside table, you would find a small hill of books. I really do love reading and I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. But I love P G Wodehouse, Clive James, Liane Moriarty, Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Madicken by Astrid Lindgren. Iloved that book so much, I got it out every week at our local library for so long that in the end, the librarians there just gave it to me!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Ooooh, that is a really tough question, but my friends would say Brigid Jones, not sure I agree!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I dance a lot at home with my four year old. We are very, very good dancers.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

MMM. Ice cold natural oysters with lemon juice with a rum and coke. Youc an take the girl out of Queensland…..

Who is your hero? Why?:

Obama. Because he’s the first black man in a white house built by slave’s hands. For that alone, he is heroic.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

To keep spreading the message that in the end, its the words that matter.

Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/#!/FrancesWhitingAuthor

Player Profile: Mark Lamprell, author of The Full Ridiculous

MarkLamprell-credit-PhilRich_regularMark Lamprell, author of The Full Ridiculous

Tell us about your latest creation:

THE FULL  RIDICULOUS is a story about an ordinary family who go through an extraordinarily difficult time, told from the dad’s point of view, after he is hit by a car.

9781922147264When he doesn’t die, he is surprised and pleased. But he can’t seem to move from the crash position. He can’t concentrate, or control his anger and grief, or work out what to do about anything much. His wife Wendy is heroically supportive but his teenage children don’t help his post-accident angst: daughter Rosie punches out a vindictive schoolmate, plunging her parents into a special kind of parent-teacher hell; son Declan is found with a stash of illicit drugs. A strange policeman starts harrassing the family and ordinary mishaps take on a sinister desperation. To top it all off, his professional life starts to crumble.

This novel about love, family and the precarious business of being a man, examines the terrible truth: sometimes you can’t pull yourself together until you’ve completely fallen apart.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

It changed about every five minutes but I do recall answering “I’m going to be a doctor” to grown-ups who inquired. I think I meant it at the time but let’s write off that failure to complete as a lucky break for the medical profession.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Ugh. Honestly? Nothing except maybe the garden I planted around my home – never complete but always surprising.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write from home and tend to move from my desk to the kitchen bench to the dining table. In our home office, I share a very long desk with my wife who is also a writer. Her end is neat and ordered. My end is utterly chaotic, which I never notice until I am asked to tidy it. Once tidied, I can never seem to find a damn thing.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I have very catholic tastes. I’ve just finished a Kathryn Heyman binge and am very much looking forward to reading her new book Floodline. Love Jonathon Franzen, Tolstoy, Austen, Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, the magic realists – I ping-pong all over the place!

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

My Family and Other Animals – by Gerald Durrell. First time I laughed out loud reading a book. For some reason, that changed everything.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Max from Where the Wild Things Are. What an excellent, self-revelatory, economically-told adventure that was!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Nude Surfing. No. Sorry, made that up. Although I do surf most mornings at Manly or Freshwater beach and I suppose, technically, I am nude under my board-shorts.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Very smelly very runny cheese. And it’s a toss up between sticky wine and a very dry gin martini. Hmm. Can I have both please?

Who is your hero? Why?:

I have lots but I’ll single out mythologist Joseph Campbell because he showed us a new way of looking at stories (and heroes in particular) and helped us see how they are expressions of our interconnectedness across time and space.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The other day I spent a few hours in Bristol library in the UK (long story) and passed the kid’s section. If you had seen this room, brimming with children from toddlers to teens, all engrossed in reading, you would have no doubt about the safe future of books. I think, sure, we’re in a transition period and the ways that stories are delivered are multiplying, but books will still be with us.

Twitter URL: @marklamprell

Player Profile: Jenny Bond, author of Perfect North

JennyBond5Jenny Bond, author of Perfect North

Tell us about your latest creation:

Perfect North is a work of fiction based around a true story. When the remains of three explorers, lost to the world since 1897 are discovered on a frozen arctic island in 1930, the news makes headlines around the world. A brash young journalist is sent to report from the site and uncovers journals filled with love letters from one of the explorers to his fiancée. Wanting to know more about the man who left his love to embark on a journey that was doomed from the start, the journalist embarks on his own voyage of discovery but soon learns that the woman he seeks out does not want to be found. In a search that uncovers lost loves, deceit and long-buried secrets, the journalist discovers a story that has stayed hidden for decades and the people who have been concealing it.

9780733629525Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I have lived in Canberra for the past four years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I never dreamed of being an author! Veterinarian, chef, teacher and nutritionist are professions that I have considered throughout my life. On leaving school I trained to be an English teacher. It was a career I loved for a decade. Without realising it all those years of reading, teaching great literature, analysing books, plays and poetry and editing other people’s work, albeit that of students, had led me to one obvious career. When my husband suggested that I write a book the previous ten years finally made
sense.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

As my only published work I would have to nominate Perfect North. It tells a very powerful and intriguing story with characters that resonate long after the book is completed. My second novel is complete – the first draft at least. It’s due out in October 2014.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I work from my home office. It has wonderful views of the mountains so I have to sit with my back facing the window. I often swivel around if I’m in need of inspiration. I work in a fairly orderly environment although it can become disorderly when I’m in the throes of writing.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Apart from the Year 1 readers my son brings home every afternoon, I have by my bedside a stack of different books, mostly biographies and non-fiction, that all revolve around the subject of my recently started third novel.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

1. The Murder
of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. This was the first adult novel that I experienced. I was about ten years old. I thought it was the cleverest thing I had ever read. I subsequently read all of Christie’s novels in quick succession. She got me hooked on reading.
2. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I read this book when I was in Year Nine. Although it terrified me I couldn’t put it down and even scammed a day off school so I could keep reading! For the duration of the book I slept with a crucifix, a bible and a bulb of garlic. Stephen King taught me the immense power of words.
3. The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I also began reading John Irving when I was a teenager. I’m still not exactly sure why this bitter-sweet tale resonates with me so. The beautifully drawn characters, the setting, the expanse of the narrative and the unexpected plot all combine to produce something entirely unique and wonderful. Homer, Dr Larch and Candy are characters I still think about often.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I  first read this book as a six year old. Boo Radley both fascinated and frightened me. My second encounter with the novel was when I was in high school. Studying the text in depth made me realise what a rich and complex novel it is. My third run in with Lee was when I taught it to my students. My joy at this time came from making a new generation of readers fall in love with this amazing work.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

As a former teacher I would have to say Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books. Although not quite as old, I’m a no-nonsense kind of person with a heart of gold, just like Minerva.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I have two boisterous sons and an energetic Staffy. I enjoy spending time with when I’m not at my computer.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Vegetables are my favourite food. I love all of them but I’m not a vegetarian. My favourite drink is coffee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I have thought long and hard about this question and there is no one I can cite that I would call a hero. However, I do respect any person who takes the road less traveled to pursue their passion.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

To me it comes down to policy makers spending money on improving public transport in Australia. In cities such as London and Paris where a high proportion of the population uses the excellent public transport, the literary environment is far healthier because a greater number of people actually have time to read.

Website URL: www.jennybondbooks.com
Blog URL: www.jennybondbooks.com

Player Profile: Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg

inga simpson_18Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg

Tell us about your latest creation:

Mr Wigg is the story of the final year of one man’s life. His wife has died and it looks like what’s left of the family property will have to be sold off. He loses himself in his somewhat magical orchard, and spends time cooking with his grandchildren – telling them stories of the Orchard Queen. Despite his age, and Parkinson’s, he begins an ambitious project: to forge a wrought-iron tree.

9780733630194Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on a property in Central West New South Wales, and now live in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. I tend to call both “home” though with different meanings.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An author, closely followed by spy or detective.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The next novel, the one yet unwritten. At the moment it is all possibility; without flaws.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in a studio looking out into bushland though odd-shaped windows – including a circle, which has me feeling a little like a hobbit some days. The interior is reasonably ordered, or starts out that way … But I do accumulate piles of papers and books to be dealt with ‘later’.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I try to read as widely as possible but tend to read a lot of contemporary Australian fiction, as well as nature writing.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Blinky Bill, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Sam Gribley, from My Side of the Mountain. He runs away and lives in a hollowed-out tree in the Catskill Mountains, befriending a peregrine falcon and becoming entirely self-sufficient, which appeals to me some days.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Surf, though not as often as I would like lately. Or Trivial Pursuit by the open fire on winter evenings.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Moroccan lamb and a decent glass of red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Judith Wright. Not only an amazing poet but an uncompromising activist on environmental and Indigenous issues.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Reminding decision makers and educators of the value the arts, including a national literature, in tough economic times.

Website URL: http://www.ingasimpson.com.au/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/MrWigg2013?ref=hl
Twitter URL: https://www.facebook.com/MrWigg2013/

Player Profile: Walter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

NSWWC_Kosal and WalterWalter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Destination Cambodia” An affectionate journey through one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations.

Destination CambodiaWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in a country town in North Queensland, but these days I live in Cabramatta in Sydney’s Southwest.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I remember when I was 8 my mother was reading through my Composition Book (remember them?) and she said, “You know what? You write really well. I think you might become a writer.” My grandfather (whose name I inherited) was a keen self-publisher, writing local histories that actually sold quite well. I recently had a sweet email from a man asking me if I was the Walter Mason who wrote books and who he went to school with in 1932. I had to let him down.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is tiny, and jammed full of books, I have worked with books all of my life (I have been a bookseller, distributor, marketer and academic)and I have thousands of volumes to show for it. I have an enormous pile above my computer of books that are maked up and that I have to do something with urgently. The one at the bottom of the pile has been there since 2010.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love E F Benson and Nancy Mitford. I read something by them every year, over and over again. Perfectly crafted comic novels – you have to be really sharp to pull them off, and Benson and Mitford were the best. I like books about ideas and marketing. I am a Seth Godin groupie. I take copious notes. And then
ignore them.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

In order of reading:

“Mr. Galliano’s Circus” by Enid Blyton (I blame this for my love of the limelight)

“The Shark in Charlie’s Window” by Keo Felker Lazarus (a forgotten 70s classic)

“I Own the Racecourse” by Patricia Wrightson (probably the first book I read that was really morally complex)

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Hmmm….Father Brown from Chesterton’s mystery stories because I am portly, religious and always wondering why things happen. On a less kind day Ignatius J. Reilly from “A Confederacy of Dunces,” – that portly thing again, plus I have delusions of grandeur. I always imagine I am A J A Symons, the genius who wrote “The Quest for Corvo.” I don’t think he was portly. I wish I was Edith Sitwell or Elinor Glyn – they had style. So did Ouida.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I meditate, I pray at my local Buddhist temple, I eat (a lot).

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My all-time favourite dish is probably kimchi jigae – a hot and delicous Korean stew. I have that once a week. Drink wise I can never refuse a Long Island Iced Tea.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Oscar Wilde – style, substance and outrageousness. He lived life and made it all worthwhile. I try to ignore the tragic end. I am also a Boy George groupie – have been since I was 12. I love that man!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The lack of imagination in the industry. Publishers have been too slow to respond to changes in the market and they still operate, more or less, according to models established in the early part of the 20th century.

Website URL: www.waltermason.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/waltermasonauthor
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/walterm

Player Profile: Roger McDonald, author of The Following

IMG_0241Roger McDonald, author of The Following

Tell us about your latest creation:

“The Following” is a novel about Marcus Friendly, who became Australia’s sixteenth prime minister, and his line of descent through to the present day, in the person of a politician who may or may not have been his son, Max Petersen.

9781742759913Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Growing up in country towns inoculated me against the romanticism of village life, so I live outside of one, on a high ridge 800 metres up in the Southeastern NSW Dividing Range.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an aeroplane pilot but became a writer so never really came to earth.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My latest book is always my best book, because it gets to where I only tried to get in my previous book (although leaving out where I hope to reach in the book after this one, should I be able to write it).

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Chaotic.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment, sea stories.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

There wasn’t one. I’ve tried to write it since.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would not like to be a literary character because I would be the prisoner of its creator…But putting that one side, I would settle for being Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1707-54).

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Most of the year I gather firewood and stack it for the following winter. In the summer I go to New Zealand for a couple of months where I mess around in boats.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Raw fish and Japanese
sake.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Charles Darwin for his vision of creation.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

What it has always been – finding readers.

Blog URL: http://rogermcdonaldthefollowing.blogspot.com.au
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/RogerMcDonaldAuthor

Player Profile: Jaye Ford, author of Blood Secret

Jaye Ford picJaye Ford, author of Blood Secret

Tell us about your latest creation:

My new book Blood Secret is my third thriller. It is inspired by a road rage incident my husband and I was caught up in about two years ago. A teenager harrassed and threatened us on our way to a restaurant. When we finally got there, my husband decided to go out to check on the car and I sat on my own thinking, What if he doesn’t come back. He did but that question stuck and so in Blood Secret, Max Tully goes to check on his car and doesn’t come back. What follows is a story about families and secrets and nothing being what it seems.

Blood Secret coverWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on the North Shore of Sydney and now live at Lake Macquarie in the Hunter Valley, NSW – where Blood Secret is set!

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be lots of things, including a nurse for a long time, a nun very briefly, and a journalist. I was always a story teller – collecting other people’s and making up my own -but the idea of being an author seemed way too clever for me! It took a lot of years to get serious about it, a few more to believe I could actually do it and ten to get published. It’s never too late to realise a dream!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My family is my best work! It takes time, patience, love and determination to make it work. In terms of writing, choosing one books over another is like asking which child I love the most! Books take time, patience, love and determination too.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I work in office under my house with a wrap-around desk, a wall of books and a white board at my back. It’s freezing in winter so I write for six months of the year under layers of clothes and a blanket. I’m both chaotic and ordered – the stuff I need is organised, neat and close to hand but I’m terrible at putting things away so the rest of the desk is cluttered with paper and notes to myself and books and … well, I don’t want to look too closely or I might have to put it away.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read crime when I’m not writing it! I love a good series and I’ve got collections by Lee Child, Stuart MacBride and Sue Grafton. Other favourites include Michael Robotham, Nicci French and Harlan Coban.  I like to keep my head in the genre whenever I can and have a huge to-read pile … another reason my
desk is cluttered.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

As a kid, I liked reading about strong, defiant girls who were ignoring the traditional roles of my era – the sixties and seventies. Those characters probably had a lasting effect on me and my various career choices. But in terms of story, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was the first book I read that I didn’t want to end at the last page. It made me hungry for more of that kind of intensity and probably influences the way I write now.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be happy to be Kinsey Milhone, the Chardonnay drinking, VW driving private investigator in Sue Grafton’s alalphabeteries. She’s street savvy, understated, unencumbered by computers and mobile phones, and is stuck in the 1980’s – an era I have a fondness for.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I go boating! My husband and I are out most weekends on our boat and we take it away for a couple of weeks every Christmas. I’m chief deckhand and cook, so an expert at tying ropes, hooking onto moorings, yelling at crew and providing big meals in small spaces.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Food – soup in winter, bbq in summer, a home cooked meal anytime, especially one that someone else cooks for me. Drink – coffee during the day, a good Shiraz at night.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My hero is always the man I’m currently working on. He’s not usually the main character and I don’t like him to be the perfect guy but it’s a lot of fun creating a man who’s perfect for the desperate-to-survive woman I’m writing.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The challenge of digital publishing – the speed of it and the massive growth in titles through both traditional publishers and self published – is for authors to continue to produce good stories in less time and for readers not to be overwhelmed by choice or put off by variable standards.

Website URL: www.jayefordauthor.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/JayeFordauthor

Player Profile: Jenny Tabakoff, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

Tabakoff-web_regularJenny Tabakoff, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

Tell us about your latest creation:

“No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality” considers the fate of stranded, isolated groups from 134 BC to 2010 AD. What causes these small groups trapped in hostile and remote locations to turn on each other with catastrophic results? No Mercy outlines the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims, and compares them to the rapid social implosion imagined in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Does reality support his dark, dystopian vision of an isolated micro-community? If anything, these historical groups descend deeper than even Golding pictured.

9781922147240Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Ryde, in the north of Sydney. After a considerable period living and working in London, I am back in Sydney again.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An archaeologist – and then I realised that journalists and writers also dig up things, and don’t get as dirty.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I enjoyed writing No Mercy because, as we learnt more and more about these largely forgotten incidents from history, we began to appreciate the parallels between the behaviour of different survivor groups. When people are stranded together and pushed to their limits, whatever the situation, they are driven by many of the same factors, with many of the same results. When people allow their primitive human hardwiring to take over, the result can very quickly be catastrophe. Individuals tend to smugly believe, “I would never behave like that”, but the more we looked into history, the more we realised it takes great effort of will and great leadership to behave in a way that is better than “every man for himself”. Unfortunately, most survivor groups seem to behave badly.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Unfortunately, all too often I have to wrestle my children off my desktop. My desk is very messy, but I am a great believer in creative mess. Every time I tidy up I feel that little bit more dumb.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love old books – especially crazy old illustrated books, especially very old children’s books. If it’s new books, give me histories, biographies and first-hand
accounts of events. I also love the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the Daily Mail website.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The William books, by Richmal Compton. And they are still so funny.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Rather than an imaginary character, I’d choose the author William Golding: he instinctively understood the dark side of humanity and depicted it with incredible accuracy in “Lord of the Flies”.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Reading. Oh yes, and kayaking on Sydney’s waterways.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Satay chicken skewers, lemony and spicy and smothered with peanut sauce. If I found myself on a desert island, I’d be dreaming of them. I never enjoying drinking anything as much as a very cold beer on a very hot day. On a cold day, make that a cappuccino.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I can’t pick between Thomas Musgrave and Francois Raynal, who were both on the Grafton in the sub-Antarctic in 1864. Musgrave for showing amazing compassion and leadership in keeping his little group together; Raynal for his extraordinary ingenuity in designing and making objects that made their 19 months in that desolate spot not just tolerable but comfortable. They were such a great team.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Standing up to what seems to be a general belief that publishing is doomed. My view is that, in an age of so much rubbish, there is a greater hunger than ever for real books – both on paper and in e-form – that are the result of research, hard work and considered, polished writing.

Player Profile: Eleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

OFFICAL HEADSHOT Eleanor CompressedEleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

 Tell us about your latest creation:

“No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality” considers the fate of stranded, isolated groups from 134 BC to 2010 AD. What causes these small groups trapped in hostile and remote locations to turn on each other with catastrophic results? No Mercy outlines the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims, and compares them to the rapid social implosion imagined in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Does reality support his dark, dystopian vision of an isolated micro-community? If anything, these historical groups descend deeper than even Golding pictured.

9781922147240Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney, lived in Japan for a decade, then returned to my birthplace to have a family (just like a salmon).

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Either a psychologist or a writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I have to say “No Mercy” for the simple reason that the subject matter is so intriguing. The dark side of human nature is a creepy place to explore, but I find the permutations of a malfunctioning group to be endlessly fascinating. How thin is our layer of social conditioning? Paper thin. What lies beneath? Instinct, aggression and a sharp-focused will for self-preservation.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

It’s a disgrace! My desk has paper everywhere and I have an almost fatal addiction to post-its. My worst nightmare? Hard-drive meltdown. The ideal workday is to have a head full of ideas and spend the entire day glued to the keyboard in my pyjamas and ugg boots. I also find swearing a lot very conducive to the creative process.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Old historical journals, the New Yorker and the International Herald Tribune. (Also the occasional novel).

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Narnia books, anything on archaeology, history or fish, “Catch 22”, and “Lord of the Flies”.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

My family says Lady Macbeth (Way Harsh!), but I think Beowulf. He never took ‘no’ for an answer, and never ran away from a fight.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I like to snorkel – most of all with sharks, turtles or any members of the squid/octopus/cuttlefish family.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My dream dinner would be top quality sushi – sitting at the counter with the chef making me a perfect pair of uni (sea-urchin roe) sushi. I’m also very partial to a Cherry Ripe, as long as I don’t have to share it! My all-time favourite tipple would be a generous Moscow Mule made with freshly grated ginger, and garnished with a lychee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Captain Thomas Musgrave, who kept himself and his men alive through the worst possible circumstances on a miserable sub-Antarctic island for 19 months following a shipwreck, and then facilitated the rescue of the entire group at great risk to his own life. He is an unsung hero, but they are the best kind.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

It might be adapting to the digital age, and stopping the kind of piracy that has gutted the music industry.

Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/EKLearmonth

Player Profile: Summer Land, author of Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did

paper_summer 1mb

Summer Land, author of Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did

9781742706443

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did”

It’s my tale about how I raised my ovaries in middle class America. Summerlandish is all the hard-won, scar-leaving, tattoo-regretting, butthole-tearing lessons I’ve learned over the years – “summer-ised” in all their glamorously gory detail, so you don’t have to bother with learning them yourselves. And, surprisingly, I feel like I know quite a bit about love, life and awkward moments involving too much caffeine and/or lack of restraint.

Summer Trio 2.indd

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, but currently call Australia home. To be more specific- I call Mudgee, NSW home. I had the pleasure of falling in love with an Australian in Utah at a ski resort in 2008 and… (you’ll have to read my book to find out more.)

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

No way. I thought that I would either be Rapunzel, a teacher, a Playboy Bunny or Marketing Manager of a footwear company. I did not see “Author” coming.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Currently this book because it’s my only work. Actually – LIES. I just made a pretty phenomenal burrito. That was some good work.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I tend to write when the mood strikes. Sometimes that is in my home office. Other times it’s on my couch or at my kitchen table. My favourite place to write is in a cafe though. I travel quite frequently and love to cafe hop and write. (I’m also addicted to iced tea so wherever I can get some homemade iced tea makes for a great writing environment.)

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I like reading anything by Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Charles Bukowski, Sloane Crosley, Chelsea Handler, Augusten Burroughs, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, JD Salinger, Emily Giffin, and well this could go on for a long time….

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I’m sure a lot of people feel this way, but “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume was pretty crucial in Summer Land being Summer Land. I even wrote a book report on it in 5th grade. I’m sure that my male teacher was thrilled to learn about how I can totally relate about wanting to get my period
before my friends.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would LIKE to be someone powerful, inspiring, loving, wise, soulful and amazing like Scout, George Milton or Kunta Kinte (to name a few), but to be honest I think I’m a bit more Amelia Bedelia.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m currently heavily pregnant so I’ve mostly been eating a lot of weird food combinations lately.

When I’m not making a mini human I love playing tennis, dancing, travelling, and watching Hoarders, Intervention and Animal Planet.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

LOVE iced tea. (Homemade-not bottled)

Also love watermelon, pineapple, burritos and ketchup. (Not all at once. Well maybe when I’m pregnant.)

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m going to be super cliche here and state that my mom, Donna, is my hero. She is a widow, mom, sister, friend, teacher, and so much more. Her existence makes me happy to be alive.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I don’t think books are going anywhere. There are just too many lovers. I like to think that mankind loves the smell of a freshly printed book (or even a musty old one) too much to let them stop being produced and consumed.

Website URL: http://www.summerlandish.com
Blog URL: http://www.summerlandish.com/blog
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Summerlandish/21708476166571
Twitter URL: http://www.twitter.com/summerlandish

Player Profile: Ed Chatterton, author of Underland

EdChattertonauthorimageEd Chatterton, author of Underland

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘Underland’. This is the sequel to last year’s ‘A Dark Place To Die’ which was Random House Book of the Month for August. Set in Liverpool, England and in LA, this is a gritty psychological crime thriller which builds from an apparently ‘ordinary’ murder-suicide to a climax of global proportions.

9781742753966Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Liverpool (England) and lived and worked in London and then the US for some time before emigrating to Australia in 2004. I live in Lennox Head on the NSW north coast and split my time between there and the UK.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an astronaut but there were some problems: fear of enclosed spaces and being lousy at maths among them. Next I wanted to be a footballer. I still do. My first achievable aim was to do something in the arts and I became an illustrator. Now I have ambitions to be a film-maker. ‘A Dark Place To Die’ was optioned as a movie so maybe that’s how I’ll end up achieving that particular goal.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The work I’m producing at the moment is my best. If I didn’t belive that I’d give up. I’m currently working on three projects, all of which occupy most of my brain space. The first is ‘Unidentified Male’, the third book in my ‘Frank Keane’ crime series. The second is ‘Archangel’, a futuristic YA novel which itself is a spin off from my PhD magnum opus, ‘The Last Slave Ship’ an examination of the lingering effects of the slave trade on my home city. I think that ‘Underland’ is an improvement on ‘A Dark Place’ and I’m feeling good about the work I’m doing on ‘Unidentified Male’. Why? These novels are the culmination of a long apprenticeship in writing. I’m pushing myself hard, because I’m trying to compete with the best. And I’m trying new fields: one of my projects is working with Rebel Waltz Films on a documentary about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a desk that’s too small and a computer that’s too big. It veers wildly between chaotic and ordered. I’ve been working for thirty years in this field and there is always this imagined Shangri-La of work environments that I know – just know – I will have one day yet still remains tantalisingly out of reach. I suspect this will always be the case.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I have been reading a lot of slavery related stuff. Barry Unsworth’s ‘Sacred Hunger’ is a stand out. Also more esoteric academic material and (quite strangely for me) the poems of WH Auden. I’ve also been trying to discover why Scandi crime is so popular.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

So many to choose from. The Famous Five featured heavily, as did Ian Fleming, Conan Doyle, Capt WE Johns (Biggles), Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Dr Seuss, Isaac Asimov, Michael Moorcock, Evelyn Waugh, Richmal Crompton and (later) Elmore Leonard. Probably the Sherlock Holmes stories are the ones that have had the most influence.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Sherlock Holmes. I always fancied myself as a cerebral gentleman about town and Holmes is such a complex and flawed character. I think my Holmes fixation is very like my David Bowie man crush.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play soccer and I’m pretty good at it too. I’m also president of the Lennox Arts Board. We brought KULCHUR to Surf Town in the form of Andrew Frost (‘The A-Z of Contemporary Art) and Michael Leunig.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

When I was a kid there was a magazine called ‘Shoot!’ which dealt with English football. In the section where they asked players what their favourite food was they would, almost without exception, say ‘steak and chips’. This was the late sixties/early seventies but I still think it’s hard to beat a perfect rare steak and some shoestring fries with a dab of English mustard. Wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

As an ex-punk not having heroes was something of a mission statement but I’d have to give it up for John Lennon, John Lydon, PG Wodehouse, William Shakespeare, David Bowie, James Brown, Larry David, Laurel and Hardy, SJ Perelman, Armando Ianucci, Michael Winterbottom, Woody Allen, Patricia Highsmith, Ron Mueck and Billy Connolly all qualify as bona fide heroes. Actually, for someone who doesn’t have heroes that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?  John Lennon then.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think moving to a more fluid distribution system while still rewarding the creatives is the biggest challenge. What has happened with music will happen with books. Probably.

Website URL: www.edchatterton.com
Blog URL: www.thelastslaveship.com.au
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/martin.chatterton.5?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter URL: @MEChatterton

Player Profile: Bill Cheng, author of Southern Cross The Dog

Bill ChengBill Cheng, author of Southern Cross The Dog

Tell us about your latest creation:

Southern Cross the Dog, a novel set in the Jim Crow-era American South

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

New York

9781447225003When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an artist at one point, but gave that up fairly quickly

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The one I’m working on.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

By and large, I write in different places: coffee shops, restaurants, park benches, on the subway, etc.  My desk at home though currently has a koa-nut carved into a catfish that my wife bought for me at a street fair.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I can’t even begin to know how to answer this one.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I wouldn’t merit literary attention.  I suspect many writers make for boring subjects– why else then would they invent these worlds for themselves?  Though, if pressed, who wouldn’t want to be Sherlock Holmes?

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Spare time!?

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Hard to say on the food. As for the drink: bourbon on the rocks– though I’m cutting down overall.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Orson Welles

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

We have to figure out a way to instill a reading culture that is as integral and ubiquitous as sports or films or pop music.

Website URL: bycheng.tumblr.com
Blog URL: bycheng.tumblr.com
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/gillbench

Player Profile: Deborah Abela, author of Ghost Club

deb-abela-300dpiDeborah Abela, author of Ghost Club

Tell us about your latest creation:

Ghost Club: Part 3 A Transylvanian Tale

After dealing with a haunted castle and ridding their school of its very own pesky paranormal, Ghost Catchers, Angeline and Edgar Usher, are off to the Annual Ghost Club Convention and this year it’s in Transylvania, home of the infamous Count Dracula.

9781742758534Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, Australia

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An author and an explorer…but I’m pretty clumsy, so it’s lucky I’m an author.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

This is hard! Each book takes me a year to write, so I become really attached to each character…mmm…but I did almost give up on my novel, Grimsdon, about
half way through, but my editor convinced me to stay with it. It went on to win awards and lots of fans….so that one does have a special place.
http://deborahabela.com/site/Video_Clips.html

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

At certain times of the year, it is the quiet carriage of trains and airport lounges….when I’m home, it’s a room that looks out over the front garden, but is stacked to almost every inch of its life with books, shelves, papers and suitcases with even more papers….there’s an ordered chaos. Sort of.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment I’m doing loads of research into my father’s story….he was born in a cave on Malta during a bombing raid of WW2…I’m fascinated by everything about that period, including the fact that Malta was the most heavily bombed area of WW2…I also like reading the New Yorker and listening to podcasts from
the BBC…great drama and docos.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Lorax by Dr Seuss…..it was funny, warm, moving and ultimately, hopeful. I also loved Norman Hunter’s, Professor Branestawm, about a whacky professor who invents all sorts of weird inventions that often went very, very wrong.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Charlie Bucket…that would be fun! I’d get to meet Willy Wonka!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I go hiking into wilderness areas for days at a time with absolutely no contact with the electronic world….and I love it. The last walk was a five day ancient Aboriginal walking trail from Katharine to Edith Falls in the NT, with clear waterholes at the end of each dusty day.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Ahhhh….I love food….I don’t eat red or white meat…but give me Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, African, Moroccan…..toooooo many to choose from!

Who is your hero? Why?:

There are many, but Malala Yusafzai…the young Palestinian woman who was shot by the Taliban for going to school and campaigning for the rights of kids everywhere to be educated. She recovered and is quietly and gently helping to change the world.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Getting books into the hands of the 57 million kids who don’t have access to schools. It will be hard, but there are brilliant NGOs trying to make it happen, like Room to Read, which I love and support.

Website URL: www.deborahabela.com
Blog URL: www.deborahabela.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.abela.9
Twitter URL: @DeborahAbela

Player Profile: Maria Takolander, author of The Double

takolander-blog-author-photo-by-nicholas-walton-healeyMaria Takolander, author of The Double

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Double is a book of short stories. The stories range in their subject matter from rural Australia to northern Europe and beyond, and from the dark past of the Soviet era to a terrifying vision of the near future. The stories are bold and original, unnerving and unforgettable.

9781922079763Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am the only Australian-born member of my family. My parents and my sister were born in Finland, and then migrated to Melbourne. I now call Geelong home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I always wanted to be a writer. I think it had something to do with learning English as a second language when I was very young, and feeling like an outsider in Australia for quite a long time. As a result, language and the world never seemed ‘given’. Writing gave me the opportunity to ‘get to know’ language
and the world better.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The Double! I worked on it very intensively, and I had an excellent publisher supporting me.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I’m not fussy about where I write. I write wherever I can–at the kitchen table, in the train, at my daughter’s desk. All I need is my laptop and some time. Quiet, of course, also helps.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love the poetry and prose of Jorge Luis Borges  for its thrilling ideas, cool irony and lavish language. His writing reminds me that it’s exciting to be alive in a world that we don’t understand but that offers experiences of such intellectual and emotional intensity. JM Coetzee’s work is also brilliant. His writing evokes the suffering and complexity that unavoidably comes with living.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I’ll single out Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair. It was so wholesome and otherworldly, and I loved the idea of a magical escape. I think the book also intuitively represented for me the power of books more generally to facilitate
mesmerising flights of fancy.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Feeling like an outsider, I have always strongly identified with Gregor Samsa! In more romantic moments, I saw myself as Jane Eyre.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play with my young son, who loves books and imaginative play. Who wants to live solely in this world, when you can also inhabit so many others?

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I love Finnish comfort foods and drinks, so I’d say Karelian pasties and milk.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My mum. She is an incredible survivor. Her family were exiled from their homes during the Finno-Russian war during the Second World War, and they endured significant hardship and privation. Nevertheless, my mother is the most loving and joyful person I know.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Finding readers for books, which are about probing the surface of things, in a society that’s increasingly content with surfaces.

Player Profile: Belinda Murrell, author of The River Charm

Belinda Murrell, author of The River Charm

Belinda Murrell closeupTell us about your latest creation:

One of my new books is The River Charm, which is a very special book to me, because it is based on the true life adventures of my great-great-great grandmother, Charlotte Atkinson. Set in Australia, during the 1840s, it is the story of a family who lost everything but fought against almost insurmountable odds to regain their independence and their right to be together as a family. Charlotte was born into a wealthy family at Oldbury, a grand estate in the bush. But after her father dies, her mother is left to raise four young children on her own. A young widow was a tempting target – from murderous convicts, violent bushrangers and worst of all, a cruel new stepfather. Fearing for their lives, the family flees on horseback to a remote hut in the wilderness. The Atkinson family must fight to save everything they hold dear.

9781742757124Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I live at Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a vet, just like my dad, which was one of the reasons I was inspired to write my new Lulu Bell series, about a girl growing up in a vet hospital, having lots of adventures with friends, family and animals.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I am very excited about my new book The River Charm. This book was inspired by the lives of my ancestors, the Atkinsons of Oldbury and I spent months researching it. The book has received some fantastic reviews which have likened it to the classic Australian tale – Seven Little Australians.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a beautiful office, overlooking the garden, with a fireplace and hundreds of books. My dog Asha sleeps in front of the fire keeping me company. It is usually orderly but as I get closer and closer to deadline, it does, just like my life, get messier!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read lots of things! The books I have recently read include Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth and The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. I loved its enticing mixture of fantasy and adventure, and the idea that you could step through a hidden door into another magical world.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would love to be Eliza Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Mustering cattle on my brother’s farm, riding my Australian stockhorse.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Can’t write a book without my morning coffee, and for late night energy – chocolate! Although for real food I do love Vietnamese salads and Thai red chicken curry.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My heroine at the moment is Charlotte Atkinson, my great-great-great-great grandmother, who fought against almost insurmountable odds for what she believed in, wrote the first children’s book published in Australian in 1841 and happens to be one of the star characters in my new book, The River Charm!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Making sure that authors and publishers can afford to keep producing good quality, gorgeous books.

Website URL: www.belindamurrell.com.au

Player Profile: James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

33970James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Last 13. It’s a new series for kids/teens about a battle between good and evil to control the dream world. 13 books, 13 nightmares, 1 destiny…

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

9781742831848Melbourne.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Aged 3 and 4 I used to make up recipe books for juices. Pretty much a list of everything I could put in the blender. I used to say that “one day I want to open a juice bar”… but, that being the early 1980’s, my family laughed and guffawed, saying “As if anyone would ever pay for a fresh juice. What else you got?” Then about aged 9 or 10 I decided I’d be an architect, as that’s what some of my family do. Aged 15 I decided I wanted to be a novelist. But I thought that you had to be old and retired to do that, and so I started off in architecture. I “retired” at 25 to be a novelist.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I always think that my latest project is my best work, as that’s what I’ve been living with for year or more and my writing improves with each outing. So let’s say right now that “The Last 13” series is my “best work”. I also like ALONE: CHASERS, published 2010, which was my first novel for a YA readership. It has the biggest ever twist in the ending. Ever. Twist. Ending. Ever…

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My local cafe in the mornings, and then my home office.

Other than that, I write wherever I am – whether it’s when I’m on book tour, or following my wife around on her tours (she’s an opera singer). So if you’ve been to a hotel or cafe or bar around the world have had a disheveled guy in a corner typing away – that  was me.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Good novels! And good magazines: National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Esquire.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Little Prince.
The Jungle Book.
Treasure Island.
Tales of the Punjab.
Taronga.
The Hobbit.
Siddhartha.
Ender’s Game.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Charles Bukowski. Why? Go read “Ham on Rye”, brilliant book. Or maybe Hank Moody. Hang on – is this “who would I be” or “who do I want to be”?

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Cook. Hang with friends. Blow stuff up.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Italian and Thai are my fav cuisines. Red wine. Mineral water. Beer. Scotch. Gin. Coffee. In no order…

Who is your hero? Why?:

3-way tie: E Hemingway, C Hitchens, and H Bloom. Legends.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The volume of published crap that has flooded the market.

Website URL: www.jamesphelan.com
Blog URL: www.thelast13.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/realjamesphelan
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/RealJamesPhelan

Player Profile: Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon

1663420045Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Sunlight Pilgrims. It is my second fiction novel, based on the lives of four characters who live in a caravan park. Around them there is a huge mountain, a city dump, an industrial park and a nearby motorway. There are rumours of an insipid sea. It is set about ten years in the future and begins with a mass eviction of the area around the river Thames in London, when it floods (they know it will at some point) it could affect a huge area of land. Anyway, the four characters are all quite different and they meet at the beginning of a freak severe winter, the aurora borealis is about to pass by and it really is just the story of their lives. I haven’t been talking about it much yet so excuse the vagueness, I’ll get to the synopsis stage once it is finished.

9780099558644Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am from Edinburgh really, I call that home as it is the longest I ever stayed in one place. I haven’t lived there for quite a while but I am thinking of moving back.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an author from a very early age. When I was about seven the teacher asked everyone in class what they wanted to be and I said I’d like to be a witch. She said that wasn’t possible so I said I’d be a coal miner instead. I lived next to a coal mine then, I only said it to annoy her as girls were not meant to go down the pit.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I don’t think about that really. My work is always evolving and I try not to grade it, either it’s good or it’s not.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I finally have a tiny room that I am to make into a study and I don’t quite know what to do with it. I have been writing in bed, on the sofa, or out in libraries or bars for so long that I’ve just continued to write that way. I would like a big room in the garden as an office, I’d probably live there.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything and anything, I go through a lot of new authors each year and I’m always catching up on older ones too. At the moment I am reading The Bridge by Iain Banks, The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner, Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, Short Stories and Essays by Mina Loy, Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet and about to begin the new one by David Vann. I’m also reading a book on brain psychology and another on shamanism.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I think when I read The Hobbit at around age eight, I really thought it was something special. I read constantly as a child but I remember reading that and thinking — this isn’t the usual patronising crap. I had a particular fondness for The Faraway Tree and the Magic Wishing Chair. Also, anything by Maurice Sendak or Roald Dahl.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Anais Hendricks. Go figure.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I grow potatoes. That’s a recent endeavour. I hang out with my toddler. I like to make things, I do a lot of photography, I’d like to do old houses up if I had more time. I try to walk by the sea and I love going to the movies although there isn’t a cinema near here right now. I want a big bass guitar. That would do nicely.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Favourite food is probably anything with goats cheese and organic tomatoes. Or chicken. Or seafood. I’ll settle for cheese on toast actually. Favourite drink is gin.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have a hero, is that sad?

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The biggest challenge is to provide work that current generations will actually engage in — there’s a lot of competition out there.

Website URL: http://thedeadqueenofbohemia.wordpress.com
Twitter URL: @Jenni_Fagan

Doodles and Drafts – Searching for magic with Donna Smith and Jazmine Montgomery – The Magic Glasses Blog Tour

Jazmine Toy DectiveI’m not sure if it is the sleek, bug-eyed appearance of the title character, her sleuth-full occupation or just her name that appeals so forcibly to me, but there’s something about this new Literacy Ladder Reading Series title, Jazmine Montgomery Toy Detective, by Donna M Smith, that I just love.

Aimed squarely at 6 – 8 year old emergent and confident readers, this chapter book is brimming with mystery, mushroom elves and magic.

Jazmine Montgomery is a girl with a passion for solving dilemmas and is regularly called upon by her school and friends to locate missing toys. Operating from her backyard office (aka the cubby house), Jazmine has a litany of devices she uses to deduce the whereabouts of toys missing in action, but perhaps her most useful is her set of magic glasses, after which the first book in this series is titled.

When she is unable to find an errant iPad borrowed from school, Jazmine and her trusty side-kick, Yap (aka the shaggy pet dog) must use the glasses to relocate the iPad in time for school. If she doesn’t, she not only risks detention but her reputation as a detective as well. Who hasn’t gone through this kind of trauma just minutes before the first school bell of a morning?

The Magic Glasses illosYoung readers, especially those of the little-girls-with-large-aspirations variety, are sure to get a kick out of the first in this series. It might even have a few checking under their fruit trees for the tiny villages of  mushroom elves, like I did!

Each book includes super sleuthing tips and (elf) character descriptions which are perfect for coaxing fledging readers into the magical world of reading alone with confidence.

Donna M SmithTo celebrate Jazmine’s awesome success as a Toy Detective, today I welcome her creator to the draft table, author and publisher, Donna Smith. So grab a big bag of jelly beans, settle back and get comfy.

Q: You have published a varied selection of work for children Donna, including short stories, picture books and Haiku poetry. Name a stand out piece that you are most proud of and why?

HopscotchYes Dimity, some of my work is varied. Thank you for asking about the various genres I have written. I have also been fortunate enough to have had several text books published and course content for the Adult Education sector. Choosing one piece is difficult as I love them dearly for various reasons. Mr Bumblebottom which appears in the ‘Hopscotch’ anthology holds special significance, not only was it one of the first stories I wrote but it evolved over the course of two years whilst my eldest son Timothy, was at three and four year old kindy. This took place about seven years ago. Timothy really did not want to go to kindy and so I told him there was a magical dragon that would sit in his pocket throughout the day and he would take special care of him while he was a kindy. Over time, Timothy named him and told me what colour he was and lots of stories about how he felt happy at kindy when Mr Bumblebottom was there too. So over the two years while Timothy attended kindy, Mr B as he was known became an important part of the family. When Timothy started school, I whispered to him as he went into class for the first time that Mr B was in his pocket and he replied, ‘Mum, I am a big boy now shhh.’ I will say he did appear from time to time in need. So this story is quite special and at present I am working on it to be launched as a picture book.

Shadow at Cape naturalisteA Shadow of Cape Naturaliste, also holds special significance as it was the first story accepted by a publisher. At that time, I replied to an ad for stories at least 2500 words which must be historical fiction and a ghost story. I relished in the research process and found the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse on the Western Australian coast line has quite a haunted past. So, I wrote Harry’s Lighthouse (as the title was back then). It was published in Australian Chillers’ anthology in 2009. A few years later I decided to re-tweak it for a slightly younger audience and it became A Shadow at Cape Naturaliste. I love this book, the cover is perfect. The photograph depicts what I had imaged it to be exactly and the size is a perfect companion. This book has done well in grade three- six classrooms and is also available it the lighthouse gift shop.

Billy cart race derbyBilly Cart Derby is a really exciting, fast paced, giggle of book starring Jaz, TJ and Ben who participate in a billy cart race at school as a fundraiser. Jaz, TJ and Ben are based on my three children Jazmine, Timothy and Benjamin. What is interesting Dimity is that I wrote this book when Jazmine was in grade 1 (now grade 6) before Ben was even born. I wrote a draft based on a dress up day I attended at school where I saw a grade 6 girl wearing a billy cart. I thought it was fantastically inventive. So the story started to take shape about a billy cart race at school which was based on fundraising but during the race they had lots of mishaps. After the initial draft a couple of years later, I was pregnant with Benjamin and I decided to wait until he was born (to see if he was going to be a boy or a girl) before I completed the final draft so I could include all three children. I ended up waiting until Benny was in kindy and developed his own little personality and character so as I could make teh characters true to their real personalities. I just love the story so much. Children just find it hysterical. Billy Cart Derby is currently used in classrooms grade prep through to about four. Actually a grade three class used it last year during their narrative study. Billy Cart Derby has coloured glossy billy cart race track maps in the front of the book along with character illustrations. This book is currently undergoing production to be made into an interactive picture book, which is illustrated of course. I plan to write more about Jaz, TJ and Ben’s school adventures in the future.

Delightfully Haiku is also very special as it was my first poetry collection but, more importantly it was also a dedication to my nephew Marshall who was born sleeping in August 2010. It has received wonderfully positive reviews over the past couple of years which lead to being invited to participate in the Japanese Festival since it began in 2010. I have attended each year since and enjoy holding haiku poetry workshops throughout the day.

A Christmas TaleA Christmas Tail was born several years ago when my daughter’s Victorian doll house (which stands 1.2 metres tall) became home to a beautiful family of wooden dolls which my daughter still loves to play with. Over time we furnished the doll house, put lighting in, pictures on the wall, even a tiny grand piano sits in the living room. The idea of a story evolved. A Christmas Tail was co –written with Helen Ross, a very talented children’s writer and former primary school teacher. This beautiful picture book was illustrated by Aaron Pocock, a well known Brisbane artist who did a fantastic job bringing the story to life. A Christmas Tail kicks off a book launch tour in November so keep your eyes peeled for more information regarding that.

Jazmine Montgomery – Toy Detective series is based on my daughter Jazmine. Jaz tends to see magic in everything even at almost 12 (in a few weeks). I love the idea that not everything can be seen and just because we can’t see it on the surface doesn’t mean that it’s not real or it’s not there. Jazmine Montgomery has many case files that she will be sharing in the future. The Magic Glasses is book one in this new series.

It is really hard to pick just one book. My books hold special meaning and significance for myself and my family.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the character Jazmine Montgomery?

JM is based on my daughter Jazmine, who possesses a beautiful innocence and ability to see magic in everything. Jaz will be 12 in a few weeks and is still very much a little princess.

Q:What was the best thing about writing Jazmine Montgomery and the most difficult?

The Magic Glasses illos 2I think the most difficult aspect of writing the first of this series was the evolution that took place. I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago and after editing with Sally Odgers, it was discussed the possibility that an aspect of the story could outdate quickly. The original story was about a red scooter that was lost. Once it was decided that this may not work as well as something which was just flooding the market and being implemented in schools (such as the iPad), I had to re-write many sections to fall in line with iPad concept. Therefore this story evolved and underwent many visits for ms assessment by Sally before the final story was complete and Sally began the editing process. We worked on this story for quite some time before it was just perfect. I then contact Sharon Madder and was just delighted with her illustrations. Sharyn was wonderful to work with and I am really happy with the final result. Another difficult aspect of this particular book was the layout. I really wanted to incorporate the stars which appear around the pages, I had to create each individual star and place each one exactly where I wanted it to appear, this was very time consuming. Then my design team headed by Sylvie Blair, converted this in InDesign to make each star digital and keep the placement the same. This process was quite tricky, time consuming and expensive however, I am really happy that we kept at it as it turning out really well. It really sets the book off, particularly for the target age group. So this book has taken quite some time to produce and get just perfect. But well worth it. I must credit Sally Odgers as it was her idea of the stars on the page! Thank you again Sally.

Q:You have aimed this chapter book series for younger primary aged children, what motivates you to write for this age group?

My children I think Dimity. My children Jazmine 11 (she reminds daily that there are not many sleeps until she is 12!), Timothy 10 and Benjamin 7, inspire me every day. Our library at home is a favourite room in the house, it contains many, many picture books, early chapter books and novelettes. We read these sorts of books most often. I have had a few funny looks after purchasing an arm full of children’s books and then nestling down to read them in a cafe. I have surrounded myself with these sorts of books primarily because of the ages of my children, therefore it just happened that way. I am excited however about my next book, Benjamin and the Castle of Tomorrow which I have been writing since 2009. It started as a 2500 chapter book, and just became longer and longer. Sally said to me ‘don’t worry just keep writing.’ The book now some 25000 words has visited Sally’s desk more times than I can remember and has been a journey in its self.

Two trips to England to study castles and medieval culture, I took medieval literature electives during my Arts degree and submitted a draft as part of my final portfolio assessment in my children’s literature unit. I have also studied endless waterfall locations and waterfall photography, dragon myths and written under Sally’s guidance for the past four years. The story is metafictional and something I am very excited about. I am very happy to say- the story is complete and the editing process is now underway. So, I guess Dimity this will be a different genre again! Ben’s story, as Sally and I refer to it as, after all these years will be out next year.

Q: Have you or your children ever come across elves or fairies in your garden?

Of course Dimity, magic is everywhere. Just smile on the inside and out!

Q:What can we expect from Jazmine Montgomery in the future?

Jazmine Montgomery has an exciting collection of case files which has solved and worked on with her companion Yapps and the Mushroom Elves. Their next adventure sees them at school trying to solve the mysterious case the missing counting beads in the preps class.

Donna GraduationQ: What is on the storyboard for Donna Smith?

I graduated with my Arts degree in April this year. My main stream was Educational Psychology and Writing/ Literature. My youngest son has been struggling at school with a learning disability so I decided to attend Monash Uni earlier this year and complete their one semester course in Education Support/ Teacher Aide course with the aim to help Ben as much as I can. I have just completed PD training in Cued Articulation and really enjoy helping in his class two mornings a week. It has six years now that I have being doing classroom help with my children since they started school, however now I am helping in literacy intervention which I really enjoy. I was deciding whether to continue study in literature, however due to our circumstances with my son and recent further diagnosis, I have decided to continue study next year in the Masters of Special Education with a major in Literacy Support. As I also manage Jelli-Beanz Publishing, I am busy with a catalogue of titles which have approved contracts by various authors. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to become a team leader at the Victorian College of Literary Arts which will see me working literacy invention programs, which is exciting. And my writing? Helen and I are currently brainstorming Peter’s next adventure, Jazmine Montgomery’s next case file will emerge and Benjamin and the Castle of Tomorrow will be released next year. Mr Bumblebottom will take flight as a picture book and Billy Cart Derby will be skidding into the interactive app world! Gee wizz, a cup of tea somewhere in there would be nice too!

Q: Just for fun, do you have a favourite Jelly bean? What is it?

Oh yes, I love Jelly beanz, my favourite is black! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a rainbow jelly bean?

Mug of beanz(Oh yes! But black is my favourite too!) Thanks Donna and good luck with EVERYTHING including nabbing that cup of tea some time soon.

Jelli-Beanz Publishing Blog August 2013

Check out the Book Trailer for The Magic Glasses. Buy the book here.

Be sure to visit Jazmine as she zips around on the rest of her Blog Tour with Donna Smith.Jazmine Toy Dective Launch and blog dates Aug 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player Profile: Persephone Nicholas, author of Burned

Persephone Nicholas Author Image (Photo Credit gm photographics)Persephone Nicholas, author of Burned

Tell us about your latest creation:

My book is called Burned and is the winner of this year’s Random House/National Seniors Literary Prize. It’s the story of four families on two sides of the world brought together by one terrible event.

Burned Cover ImageWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in the UK but have lived in Sydney for nearly 10 years now. I live a stone’s throw from Balmoral Beach in Mosman – it’s a great place to call home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I’ve always loved words and writing, but did go through a long stage of wanting to be a vet.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Burned is my first novel so it’s definitely the best so far. I was very humbled to receive an award for it – it’s made me determined to try and make the next one even better.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write at a beautiful silver desk I bought in London many years ago. My dog lies underneath it and keeps my feet warm in winter. I like peace and quiet when I’m working and if I need some inspiration I just head down to the beach at the end of the street.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

It’s very important to me that the books I read are well-written. At the moment I’m reading M L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans and then I’ll be moving on to Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed. R J Palacio’s Wonder was a favourite earlier this year.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I particularly loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. The tv series just didn’t do it justice.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I could pick a different character for every day of the year!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I love the ocean – swimming in it, walking beside it, watching it… I find it very therapeutic and restorative.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Champagne, coffee, chocolate… anything beginning with a ‘c.’

Who is your hero? Why?:

My real life hero is Annie Crawford, founder of CanToo – a not for profit organisation that helps people get fit and raises money for ground-breaking cancer research.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Instilling a love of reading and great books in our children – so entertainment doesn’t always sink to the level of the lowest common denominator.

Website URL: www.persephone-nicholas.com
Blog URL: http://thebookorme.blogspot.com.au
Facebook Page URL:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Persephone-Nicholas-Author
Twitter URL: @PersephoneNich

Player Profile: Chris Allen, author of Hunter

Chris Allen 2012Chris Allen, author of Hunter

Tell us about your latest creation:

The second Alex Morgan novel in my black-ops Intrepid series is Hunter: Intrepid 2. It’s a rapid-paced action-packed rollercoaster of a story and it deals with a current issue with the backdrop of the Serbian warlords being brought to justice in the Hague – the sentencing is happening right now.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

HUNTER_mrI’m an Australian who calls Sydney home, we live on the leafy North Shore. But I grew up in Perth and left aged 18 by joining the Australian Army.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I dreamed of a few different things, actually. The military tradition ran pretty deep in my family, so I felt compelled to serve as well. Add to that, I knew my all-time favourite author Ian Fleming had served in WWII, and wanted to see the action that I too could write compelling stories about.

Finally, I was a mad drummer as a teenager, but loved the old jazz tunes and big live rock songs at a time when the likes of ‘Tainted Love’ were chart toppers.

All those things combined drove me straight into the welcoming (!) arms of the Australian Army, which is where I spent the next 13 years of my life. What do you consider to be your best work? Why?: The one I’m currently writing is my best work this far, which is called Avenger. I want each story to better than the last.

In this series, my flawed protagonist, the unstoppable Alex Morgan will age as time passes. He lives in real time, not a vacuum, and the stories will mature as my writing and Alex Morgan does.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My writing mancave is a large room downstairs, with lots of natural light. I’m surrounded by great books and writers and things that have significance from my time in the military, humanitarian aid and law enforcement environments.

I find this kind of environment helps me to write realistic action scenes based largely on real-life experiences. All with a generous serving of escapism in the mix, of course!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

My literary legends, the ones I turn to time and again are Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle. Quite simply, their stories never get old.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The first thriller I ever read was The Wooden Horse — I was about 12-13 at the time.

At that age, I was really interested in a lot of stories of WWII, particularly the stories that were about individuals and how they overcame things. This was a story about guys who were prisoners of war, pilots who’d been shot down and captured by the Germans. I remember details about that book – that they needed to escape and someone came up with this idea that they needed to build a tunnel to escape. The shortest way for them to build a tunnel, so there was less chance of collapse, was to start right under the middle of the exercise yard, under the nose of the prison guards. So they requested exercise equipment from the guards like a wooden bolting horse. They hid two guys in the wooden horse and those men would work each night to dig out the tunnel each night. The detail was ingenious.

This book had all the elements of intrigue, deception, danger, subterfuge coupled with fearlessness, innovation and ingenuity borne out of a desperate need to escape captivity.

What more could a teenager in Perth ask for in his reading material!? If you were a literary character, who would you be?: I think I’d most like to be Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series.

In the books, Holmes is so reliant on his partnership with Watson. If it wasn’t Holmes saving the day with some well-paced Judo moves, it would be Watson with his revolver.

I love the duo. They are a much more equal pairing than the old movies ever gave them credit for.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Well, on a recent rare weekend I was allowed out of the writing man cave for 48 hours. I really enjoyed taking the family up to the beautiful Blue Mountains just a couple of hours drive west of Sydney.

There’s nothing I love more than exploring a new town like Blackheath, taking in some historic sites, enjoying the views, browsing in an antiques store and drinking lots of good coffee and red wine.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

There’s nothing quite like an evening meal served with Brussel Sprouts at this time of year… they’re solid and nuggety, multi-layered, with the strange ability to be bitter and buttery at the same time. If I had my way, I’d like that served with a full-bodied Shiraz most nights of the week.

Otherwise it’s tea for me, strong tea with milk. Being ex-Army, I’m quite particular about my brew.

Who is your hero? Why?:

You know what? I don’t actually have a hero. I’m inspired creatively by figures from real life, but as bad as it sounds, I don’t have a hero that I call my own.

I think you should aspire to be the best person you can be, and not set someone else up as the benchmark, because people are still people, and it can be all too easy to fall for the idea of the person without understanding the context and full story of their life.

I’d rather be the best person I can be, and judge myself that way, than worship some other mortal bloke or lady based on some uninformed view I have of them!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Independent bookstores are undergoing a reinvention, becoming community hotspots that embrace all that reading and storytelling has to offer – books and eBooks and, maybe one day, print-on-demand technology.

Books make excellent gifts and the bookstore owner is an important part of the local community. As we know, while there has been a digital revolution underway, our need for community remains strong. The other constant is one of our ability to tell a story about the place we live. The intersection of the two is the local bookstore owner’s challenge.

Website URL: http://intrepidallen.com
Blog URL: http://intrepidallen.com/blog
Facebook Page URL: http://facebook.com/intrepidallen
Twitter URL: http://twitter.com/intrepidallen

Player Profile: Steve Bisley, author of Stillways

BisleySteveSteve Bisley, author of Stillways

Tell us about your latest creation:

I have just had my first book launched on August the first. It is an early memoir of my life growing up on a small farm on the central coast of N.S.W. Its is called “Stillways”

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on the farm but have lived in Sydney for most of my working life.

9780732297848When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As a kid I wanted to do everything. I loved reading and story telling which I attribute to my mothers influence. she was a writer,poet and a teacher.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I have worked for 35 years as an Actor but consider “Stillways” to be my latest best work. I am now writing my first novel.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My writing environment is ordered and quiet. I write long hand and then edit on a word processor.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything, currently Jonathen Franzen.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Jungle Book was an early favourite, then Dickens and Shakespeare

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I was and would be the central character in my memoir “Stillways”

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

In my spare time I hang out with any or all of my 6 children

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I cook a spanish duck recipe which has chocolate and almond stirred through the stock.I have a love of bold red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

We dont need another hero. we are all hero’s and need to learn to love ourselves.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Get rid of mobile phones and other needless distractions and start talking to each other rather than seeing life through the filter of a screen.

Player Profile: Hannah Richell, author of The Shadow Year

art-353-Richell1-200x0Hannah Richell, author of The Shadow Year

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Shadow Year is the story of a group of friends who stumble upon an abandoned cottage and decide to drop out for a year and attempt to live self-sufficiently. What begins as a fun experiment soon spirals into darkness and tragedy. Thirty years later, a young woman arrives at the same cottage and begins to uncover the secrets of what happened there all those years ago. It’s a dark and twisty drama with a thread of suspense running through it.

9780733631948Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am originally from the UK, but I’ve called Sydney home since 2006 and became an Australian citizen in 2010.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I was a pretty dreamy child. My ambitions were always changing: vet … marine biologist … archaeologist … but always in the background was the desire
to write.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I’m proud of both my novels but I hope my best work is still to come.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My working environment is a computer, a desk, a window. That’s all I need, although sometimes I pin up pictures or surround myself with books that inspire me. Sometimes I play a little quiet music. I used to write at the kitchen table but I’m now renting a studio room near my house. It’s great to have my own space away from the family, with a door that locks and no little fingers prying through everything.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read pretty widely – anything that takes my fancy from commercial to literary fiction. I feel very out of sorts if I don’t have a good book on the go.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I had a huge appetite for fairy tales, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books as a young child. As I grew, I had a particular fondness for stories with a twist of darkness at their heart, such as The Secret Garden, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Goodnight Mister Tom and the ‘Dark is Rising’ fantasy series by Susan Cooper. My grandmother introduced me to the Greek Myths at an early age and they have stayed with me throughout my life and helped to inspire my first novel, Secrets of the Tides.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

It goes with the territory that most literary characters don’t have a particularly easy ride, but I’d probably be Laura Ingalls Wilder because I loved her Little House on the Prairie books and always had a secret yearning for that back-to-basics frontier lifestyle.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I am a very unsuccessful gardener and can spend an inordinate amount of time gassing with my sister on the telephone.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My husband’s roast beef with a really good glass of red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m not sure I have a hero. I think it’s a little dangerous to put people on pedestals … we’re all human, after all. Having said that, I think my family, my husband and my kids are pretty awesome.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think one of the biggest challenges to the future of books and reading is the perceived value of the written word.

I see a big shift in peoples’ expectations that content and entertainment be made available to them at little or no cost. When you consider this in light of the digital age, it’s a big problem for the survival of writers, publishers and booksellers.

Blog URL: http://hannahrichell.wordpress.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/hannahrichellauthor
Twitter URL: @hannahrichell

Doodles and Drafts – Getting silly with Candice Lemon-Scott

Silver the Silly Sorcerer Book CoverThat instantaneous feeling of satisfaction and inability to stop reading that occurs when breezing over the first few pages of a new book is often a sign of good things to come. Kids are even more decisive, deducing from line one, what is going to work for them and what is not. That’s why the Little Rocket Series excels from the get go. With edgy compelling reads like Candice Lemon-Scott’s latest release, Silver the Silly Sorcerer.

Just when you thought you’d read all there was to read about wizardry and witchcraft and applauded the 700th Harry Potter look-a-like off the Book Week Parade stage, along comes Silver; struggling child sorcerer who simply seeks to be as sensational a sorcerer as his idol, Merlin.

Sadly Silver is less than spectacular as sorcerers go. He continuously fudges his spells and lives in the shadow of his much brighter sister, Star. After failing his Eggs test, Silver is sent to work as a magician with a travelling circus.

Cirus tentCircus life is harder and more humiliating than Silver ever anticipated. He yearns for home and dreads having to perform magic for the has-been, hard to please Ringmaster. Without the companionship and street smarts of his slick talking pet snake, Slither, Silver’s circus days would be even bleaker than the busted lights of the main-ring.

Miraculously, his clumsy magical failures become the talk of the Big Top. Silver’s silly tricks and slip ups transform him into the star of the circus until he realises he has to truly master the art of transformation and magic if he is to rescue his teacher, escape the circus and rise to Tadpole level. Will he and Slither endure the extremes of showbiz?

Humming with hysterical originality and Lemon-Scott’s hilarious imaginative wordplay, Silver the Silly Sorcerer is a sure fire bet to impress readers 7 years and above plus anyone who is thrilled by bunnies bursting from magic hats like I am. Short, captivating chapters are teeming with Janet Wolf’s full colour illustrations, so vibrant, you can almost smell the popcorn and sawdust. Top marks!

Candice Lemon-And to mark the magical appearance of this marvellous new Little Rockets title, Candice Lemon-Scott joins me at the draft table. Welcome Candice. Please, park your broom* and take a seat…

Q When did you first discover the urge to write for children? What motivates you to continue writing?

I lived in Sydney for a short while. When I first moved I didn’t know anyone (besides my husband) and I had yet to find a job. It was at that time that a children’s story idea just popped into my head one day and I started to spend a couple of hours each day writing it until I found work. It wasn’t anywhere near publishable but it inspired me to keep writing. Finding the motivation to write is easy – I love writing and it’s the best feeling to create an imaginary world where anything you want to happen does.

Q You’ve written a number of chapter books for children and this is your second title in the Little Rocket Series. What appeals to you most about this series of books? What makes them special?

I really love the Little Rockets Series because they’re perfect for kids starting to learn to read independently. They have beautiful brightly coloured illustrations which makes them a fantastic transition from picture book to chapter book. I also love the style of the series because it suits the type of story I like to write – action-packed and humorous and written for the 7 plus age group. There are also some fun things attached like the book-based activities on the Little Rockets website.

Q I am a sucker for magic tricks. How did you conjure up the idea for Silver the Silly Sorcerer? Were you magically inspired?

There was a little bit of magic involved. It began with a case of the dreaded writer’s block. Then one day I found this old story writing computer program. In the program you could mix up three parts of a sentence that were computer generated to create an opening line. I chose, ‘the sorcerer was stuck in a pile of muddy muck.’ It all went from there with the writer’s block magically disappearing as the story evolved.

Q What is your favourite magic trick, most memorable illusion or circus act?

I loved all magic when I was a kid. I remember I was so excited when I was given a magic box as a present. My favourite trick was the one where the seemingly never-ending magical scarf was pulled out of the magician’s hat – simple but fun. That’s probably why the scarf trick makes an appearance in my story.

Q Kids love quirky characters. What inspired your character choice in this book?

From my opening line I figured that this sorcerer must be pretty silly to end up stuck in the mud, which is really how Silver came to life. When I was thinking about how he could get out of the mud Slither the Snake just magically appeared to save the day.

Q Slither, Silver’s pet snake, is a useful and faithful companion. Is he based on any previous pets you had as a kid or perhaps any that you now have?

Gosh, no, I had really regular pets growing up– dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, but there was never a moment in my childhood where I was without one, which shows what an important role pets have played in my life. My eldest daughter is also crazy about reptiles, and now has her own pet blue-tongue lizard, so I’ve learned a great deal about snakes (but not the magical kind).

Q I found Silver a real hoot to read. Was it as much fun to write? Does writing humorously come naturally to you or is it a conscious thing you have work on to include in your writing?

Thanks! It was heaps of fun to write. I guess that’s probably why my kids’ stories have humour injected into them – it’s enjoyable to write it. I think the humour just comes as I write – I certainly don’t plan it out by thinking, ‘Is this funny?’ or ‘How could I make kids laugh in this scene?’ That said, I think the subject matter has to lend itself to humour for it to work.

Candice's books

Q Last year you released your first adult novel, Unloched. How does writing for primary aged children differ from other adult-aged genres you’ve published? Which do you feel more comfortable writing and why?

Technically, it’s totally different in terms of language, themes, structure, writing style etc. But to me writing for kids is no different to writing for adults in that it’s always about getting in the head of the character who the story is about. So, in this way, I don’t find one more comfortable than the other to write. If I’m writing about a ten year old boy then I’m in the head of a kid of that age but if I’m writing about a young woman then I’m thinking the way she would think. It’s a bit like role-playing for me – I’m imagining myself in someone else’s shoes, or in someone else’s cloak in the case of Silver.

Q A great kids’ story can be read faster than it takes to pull a rabbit out of a hat (unless you are Silver of course). How long does it take you to write them? Does it vary from book to book?

Usually it takes me a few months to write a chapter book. It’s more in coming up with the story idea that varies in the time it takes to create a story. Some ideas come to me in minutes – and I can see in my mind straight away what could happen in the story. Others start with a bit of a thought but can take months or longer for me to find out what the story is.

Q Tell us what fills your days apart from writing.

I have a book exchange where I sell new and second-hand books and where people can swap over the books they no longer read for something new or different. So, my life is completely about books, books and more books. I love it – I get to talk about books when I’m not writing and put any reading down to ‘work.’ Oh, and being a mum keeps me happily busy as well.

Q What’s on the draft table for Candice?

I’m currently writing a series of futuristic space adventure stories for kids aged 8 and up, the first of which will also be put out with New Frontier next year. The stories follow a group of kids (and a cyborg) who end up solving all kinds of spacey mysteries.

Q Just for fun question: If you were a better sorceress than Silver, what one magic trick would you like to perform and why?

I would like to master the art of escape, like Houdini. His tricks always fascinated me as a child – I would love to be able to get myself out of any situation like he could. That would be a pretty clever trick to perform, I think.

Thanks Candice! 

*Note Candice does not actually own a flying broom stick but should the opportunity arise to operate one, I’m sure she would park it sensibly.

Silly the Silver Sorcerer is part of the New Frontier Publishing’s Little Rocket Series.

Released this month, you can purchase the book here.

 

 

 

 

 

Player Profile: Jacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

harvey, jacquelineJacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

Tell us about your latest creation:

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright (#8 in the series).  Alice-Miranda and Millie make an accidental but dazzling discovery in the woods near school but it seems they are not the only ones looking.  Throw in a missing villager, a ruthless property developer and a hapless Mayor and there is another adventure in the offing.  The Alice-Miranda Diary for 2014 is a gorgeous diary full of fun activities, recipes, places to write secret thoughts and events; Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco (#4 in the series) sees Clementine and her friends on their first school excursion to a farm.  When her great Aunt Violet stands in for her mother as a parent helper, fireworks will be sure to fly with Clemmie’s teacher Mrs Bottomley. There’s a cranky goose and a crazy ram for good measure.

Alice-Miranda Shines Brigh Hi ResWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Ingleburn and Camden and now call the Upper North Shore of Sydney home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a primary school teacher from the age of 9. I’ve worked in schools for all of my career until the end of last year when I took the giant step to become a full time writer.  I still get to visit schools all the time which I love.

Alice-Miranda Diary 2014What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

It’s still to come!  As a writer you’re always wanting to improve.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Ordered.  I can’t stand when things get out of control – that tends to happen to my desk sometimes and I find that I can’t work until it’s back to being neat and tidy.

Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco Hi Res 1When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love Kate Morton, Tim Winton, Ian McEwan and Markus Zusak; I adore Belinda Murrell’s time slip adventures, historical fiction and newspapers – from all over the place.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

As a small child I loved Richard Scarry and Dr Seuss, then graduated to Paddington Bear, Heidi, Black Beauty and anything by Enid Blyton.  As a teen I adored To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby as well as Pastures of the Blue Crane by Hesba Brinsmead.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Miss Honey from Matilda.  I love her patience, bravery and kindness.  Having spent a large part of my adult life as a teacher, you hope that there are some children out there for whom you were their own version of Miss Honey.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Not really surprising here.  I love to eat out, travel, read and play golf.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

In the everyday world, I am more than happy with lamb chops, mashed potato, carrots, zucchini and green beans with gravy, and a chilled glass of diet lime cordial; on special occasions I love soft cheeses, smoked salmon, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate and French Champagne. Weekends are frequently considered special occasions in our house.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Booksellers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and anyone who encourages children to read and fall in love with books and stories.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Competing with everything else that there is out there to entertain children and adults.  I think though that stories will be part of humanity forever; we just need to stay on top of the best way that people want to receive them.

Website URL: www.jacquelineharvey.com.au
Blog URL: http://jacquelineharvey.blogspot.com
Facebook Page URL:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacqueline-Harvey/186316834766392?ref=hl
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/JacquelineHarve