DOODLES AND DRAFTS with Wendy Orr on the inspiration behind Dragonfly Song

Dragonfly SongHang onto to your bronze daggers as you are in for ‘a riveting, mythic Bronze Age adventure’ –  we have the remarkable Wendy Orr at the draft table today, escorting us on her Blog Tour for her stunning new novel, Dragonfly Song. And like all terrific stories, there is usually an even more fascinating story behind it; how it came to light, what energies and events conspired to motivate its first heartbeat. Today, Wendy shares her inspiration with us.

Orr Wendy, preferred author photo, credit Roger Gould

 

Welcome Wendy! Tell us, what was the inspiration for Dragonfly Song?

Sometimes it’s easy to see where an idea’s inspiration has come from. Sometimes it’s not – and sometimes some of the things that inspire it don’t end up in the story. Dragonfly Song is one of those mysteries.

Certainly one thread comes from childhood and teenage reading of Greek myths and Mary Renault’s retelling of the Theseus myth, The King Must Die. (There are many stories about Theseus, a king of Athens with a typically complicated hero life. However he is best known for being one of seven youths and seven maidens sent as a tribute to King Minos of Crete. Minos sent them into a labyrinth to be devoured by the half-man, half-bull monster, the Minotaur – but luckily, Theseus defeated the Minotaur instead of being eaten.)

04Then, about twenty-five years ago, I dreamed about a white robed priestess leading a long torchlight procession up a steep green volcanic mountain.  As a story grew around the dream, I started reading up on the intriging civilization that flourished in Crete around four thousand years ago.  The Minoans seem to have worshipped a mother goddess and been ruled by a priestess until they were taken over by the warlike Mycenaeans of mainland Greece. Their palaces had grand court02yards and stairways, flushing toilets, lightwells, and painted frescoes on walls, ceilings and floors. They had beautiful art, gold and jewellery; images of priestesses holding snakes and of young men and women leaping over the backs of giant bulls. What if these bull-leaping games had inspired the original myth of Theseus?

Although the rather melodramatic novel I wrote then was, luckily, never published, the images of that world never left me. Eventually I started playing with the idea of a completely new story set in the same era.

It started to take shape on a 2010 visit to New Delhi. Culture shock can be a great inspiration: new sounds and smells; beautiful buildings and overwhelming poverty. Home again, doodling with a fingerpaint app, I sketched a girl with a sad twisted mouth and tangled black curls. This wasn’t the direction I’d expected, but one evening in my tai chi class, the form of the story appeared in a luminescent blue bubble –  and no, I can’t explain it exactly what I mean by that, but it was powerful enough to bring me to tears. The next day I saw a dragonfly, the exact same colour as the bubble.

And dragonflies kept on appearing whenever I made a significant decision or saw something that helped to shape the story:  finding an offcut of chipped flint on a Danish island; visiting the mysterious deep blue source of a French river that would have seemed even more mysterious and holy in ancient timeDragonflySongBlogTourGraphics…

Ah the synchronicity of life…Thank you, Wendy!

Watch Wendy explain more, here. Catch up with her again as she continues her DragonFly Song Adventure and tour.

Stick around for my full review of Dragonfly Song coming soon. Meantime you can get it now, here, if you can’t wait to read it first!

Allen & Uwin June 2016

 

 

 

 

Review: The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan

9780141325491I absolutely adored The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan! It’s the first book in his secondary series about Percy Jackson. The first series and I had a mildly rocky start. Oh don’t get me wrong! I love Percy Jackson and the middle-grade series was cute and quirky and fun. But it lacked punch. And, for me The Lost Hero was just EVERYTHING. It’s also more Young Adult, compared to the first series Middle Grade feel, which makes me chortle like a gleeful penguin because I LOVE YA.

I’ve been converted into a Riordan fangirl. #notevensad

We have 3 POVs: Jason, Piper, and Leo. They are so fabulous and interesting! And diverse! And there was so much mystery surrounding these three. So much backstory. I just kept gobbling pages wanting answers.

So a quick look at the characters individually!?

  • JASON: I have to admit that he’s my least favourite. He’s typical “mysterious hero” material anad  a little cliche with his fabulous looks, tattoos, and amnesia. Where is Jason from? Who is he? Why does he randomly speak Latin? But he still felt…flat? He’s the kind of kid that does no wrong except is perfect.
  • PIPER: I loved her! She’s got a real soft side and yet is a bit of a kleptomaniac. She’s also half Cherokee, which is nice and refreshing to have diversity!
  • LEO: Easily my most FAVOURITE CHARACTER EVER. He’s funny! His hands can spontaneously bust into fire. He’s a whiz at making things and is usually covered in grease. He’s also Latino. He’s so fuuuuuny. (Just in case I haven’t mentioned it enough.) He’s the side-kick, the comic relief, and everyone totally takes him for granted. I love you, Leo. You are easily the best character in the book.

The plot followed the typical Send-Kids-On-Potentially-Lethal-Quest format that all Riordan’s books have. I mean, technically this is the sixth book of his I’ve read with this layout. And while it’d be nice to have a new plot structure once in a while…in a way it’s comforting to know how the book is going to be laid out. The story has plot twists and weird prophecies and gnarly action scenes.

 

“What about a compromise? I’ll kill them first, and if it turns out they were friendly, I’ll apologize.”

 

Although, I do have to admit….The book is way too long. It’s like nearly 600-pages. There were too many detours that didn’t do anything for the plot.

I’m not a Greek myth buff, but I love how the mythology is woven in flawlessly and I accidentally learn a lot while enjoying a delicious and hilarious story.

I basically enjoyed it a lot and loved the cliffhanger. One needs to have The Son Of Neptune on hand to devour straight away, is all I can say. I enjoyed the deeper plot and the maturity of the characters and I loved being able to laugh my head off at this hilarious quips.

 

“If possible, try to avoid pushing each other over the edge, as that would cause me extra paperwork.”

[PURCHASE HERE]

Interview with Charlotte McConaghy (Part 2)

One thing I love about Charlotte, writer of the Strangers of Paragor series, is that she doesn’t shy away from being totally girly and romantic. Book 2 of the series was released just last month, I was fortunate enough to read it, and I came away dreaming about faraway lands and dashing princes. But for the boys (and the more violent-natured femmes among us) there’s a stack of adventure and some rather bloodlusty scenes as well…

Charlotte, in Descent, the six Strangers are reunited. Why did you decide to reunite them in Book 2 of the Strangers of Paragor, halfway through, rather than at the end (Book 3) or at the very beginning (Book 1)?

For starters, I didn’t want too many characters in the first book, otherwise it becomes hard for the reader to keep track of them – there’s already quite a few! And by bringing Jack and Mia into the second book, it still gives us characters we can relate to without feeling like everyone has just settled in and knows what’s going on. They couldn’t come in too late though, because then they wouldn’t be properly involved in the bigger story-line that runs through books 2, 3 and 4.

What can readers expect from the all-important book 3? Any spoilers you can give us?

Think: Angels!! Books 3 and 4 are going to have a much bigger focus on the archangels, and the Strangers’ connection to them. A big spoiler…. One of the main characters is actually going to become an angel! The books are also very relationship-py, because by that stage everyone has become totally embroiled in each other’s dramas – lots of ‘will they get together or won’t they?’ ‘who will end up with who?’ and ‘who is going to get married?’

Hooray for angels! *clearly loves angels* Do you believe angels are the new vampires? Why/why not?

Yeah, I think we can move into the angel phase – it’s the same concept – an immortal/inhuman creature with human-like features and emotions is hot. Simple as that. Creatures that can do cool stuff (like flying or being super strong) are just more fun to read about. And people are going to get sick of vampires eventually. Pretty soon there will be something else altogether – after angels my prediction is faeries. I’m loving the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr about dark and violent faeries who feed off dark emotion – very creepy, very cool.

I seriously need to read some Melissa Marr. If she’s anything like Holly Black, I am so in. What books are on your bedside table?

I just finished Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead which was cool. I love heroines who can kick butt. I reread all of Guy Gavriel Kay’s stuff whenever I can’t find anything else to read (he’s an adult fantasy writer). I looooove The Time Traveler’s Wife – most romantic book in the world.

Oh I know. I don’t think the movie did it justice, even though Eric Bana was pretty attractive as Henry! What about your favourite fantasy movie, and why:

I love ‘Hero’, ‘House of Flying Daggers’ and all those gorgeous Asian cinema films because they’re so beautiful and romantic and full of courage and passion and betrayal. I love Tristan and Isolde for its romance. Lord of the Rings, of course. More recently: Avatar, no matter what people say about it. And I love 300 because I’m really into Greek history and mythology.

Like I said last piece, it’s like you stole my movie brain. THIS IS SPARTA!!….
Funny you didn’t talk about the Twilight movies based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, especially with Eclipse blowing the box office to bits lately. A little birdy told me you’re addicted to the Twilight series …what do you think makes them so popular? Should they be elevated to ‘classic’ status?

Actually I’m not that fussed about them – I enjoyed them when I read them, but wouldn’t say I’m addicted. She’s done awesomely for herself though – good on her! However I definitely don’t think they should be classics – there’s heaps of other teen lit that’s just as good, if not better.

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Again, Charlotte, agreed. Stay tuned for the final interview post with Miss McConaghy – apparently she’s sick of working retail!