Books with the word ‘Girl’ in the title

In the last two months, I’ve read three books with the word girl in the title. In December I read Gone Girl, in January I read The Girl on the Train and I just finished reading The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan. I started to wonder if this was a recent trend in book titles, but when looking back over books I’ve read in previous years, I discovered plenty of books with the word girl in the title.

Just for fun, I’ve decided to list them here in the order they were read:

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A young girl is lost in the woods after stepping off the nature trail while walking with her family. She listens to her walkman for comfort and her favourite baseball player, Tom Gordon.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larssonmillennium trilogy Stieg Larsson book covers
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo burst onto the book scene several years ago, and readers couldn’t get enough of the Millennium Trilogy. Lisbeth Salander – genius hacker with a photographic memory, extremely poor social skills and a mysterious past – is an unforgettable character. Together with Blomkvist, they investigate a disappearance.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
This time Blomkvist helps Lisbeth Salander who finds herself in trouble. Knowing the author has passed away in 2004, certainly increased interest in the series.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg LarssonWild Girl Kate Forsyth
The final in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is about ‘the trial’ and I found it the least enjoyable of an otherwise exciting and gripping trilogy.

The Wild Girl
by Kate Forsyth
This is the story of Dortchen Wild, a young girl growing up in the medieval town of Hessen-Cassel in Germany. Dortchen lives next door to the Grimm family; the brothers being famous for their collections of fairytales. It is a little known historical fact that Dortchen told the brothers almost 25% of their stories, this is her story told by Australian author Kate Forsyth.

Cemetery Girl
by David J. Bell
Caitlin is found dirty and dishevelled 4 years after she goes missing and her parents struggle to find out where she’s been all that time.

just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth
just_a_girl is about fourteen year-old Layla, provocative, daring, reckless and a tease. Set in the Blue Mountains, this is a book for mature readers (in my opinion).Girl on the Train Hawkins

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Blockbuster novel that needs no introduction, also now a major motion picture starring Ben Affleck.

The Girl on the Train
 by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is gaining popularity and is a cracking read with flawed characters. Rachel catches the same train to London each day and enjoys looking at the houses and sometimes imagining the lives of those who live there. One day she sees something that will change her life forever (and it’s not a murder).

The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan
I finished this recently and adored it. If you like the writing style of Australian author Kate Morton then you’ll love The Girl in the Photograph. An historical fiction novel told in the the past and present, this is a haunting and atmospheric mystery.The Girl in the Photograph Kate Riordan cover

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White is on my TBR pile, and almost qualifies, while I’ve given an honourable mention to Kiss the Girls by James Patterson.

So, how many of the titles above have you read? Do you have any books to add to the list? What have I missed?

Aussie New Releases To Look Forward To

There are several books by Australian authors being published in the last six months of the year that I’m really looking forward to, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The first is already out, and it’s Kate Forsyth‘s Dancing With Knives.  Set on a farm outside Narooma in NSW, Dancing With Knives is a rural murder mystery and a story about love and family secrets.

Rebecca James (author of Beautiful Malice and Sweet Damage) is gearing up for the launch of Cooper Bartholomew is Dead in early October.  Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is a psychological thriller centred around the death of Cooper Bartholomew, and his group of friends, one of which is keeping a dangerous secret.

Kate Morton (author of The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Keeper) is releasing her fifth novel in October this year and I’m so excited about it.  Untitled and simply called Book 5 for now, we don’t know what’s it’s about yet, but given she’s one of my favourite Australian authors, I’m sure it’s going to be a delicious page-turner.Matthew Reilly book cover The Great Zoo of China

Matthew Reilly is releasing a block-buster action monster-movie of a novel (his words) called The Great Zoo of China on 10 November.  China has discovered a new species of animal and is preparing to unveil their amazing find in the form of the largest zoo in human history.  The Chinese re-assure a media contingent invited to tour the zoo that it’s perfectly safe; however if Matthew Reilly is involved, you know that nothing’s ever safe.  You can click here to watch a short video of Matthew Reilly telling us about The Great Zoo of China, or pre-order it now and receive 30% off.

Candice Fox (author of Hades) featured here on the blog in January this year, and her latest book in the Bennett/Archer series Eden, is due out later this year.  Click here to read the Player Profile with Candice conducted by Jon Page.

Australian music personality Molly Meldrum has written a memoir called The Never Ever Ending Story, and is said to contain plenty of stories about some of the many rock and pop stars he interviewed throughout his career.  The Never Ever Ending Story is due to be released in November.

Another iconic member of the Australian music industry has to be John Williamson.  In the aptly named Hey, True Blue, John Williamson takes readers through his life story and his success as a singer.

So, that’s it from me, but what new Australian books are you looking forward to?

On My Bedside Table – # 2

Bedside table 2Does your bedside table feature nothing more than a sedate, sleek bedside lamp and the latest eReader? Or is an outrageous collection of self-help, kids’ lit, how-to, YA, book club, must-review-reads piled unceremoniously on top of each like mine?

I tried reading one book at a time. Found it just wasn’t for me. I now prefer the heady experience of flitting from one world to another. It’s a little chaotic and bewildering at times I admit. But the crazy excitement of reading so many varying titles simultaneously keeps me entertained and enlightened beyond words. It’s a bit like heading down Edgware Road, atop a London double-decker bus, at night. Boisterous, sublime, sensory saturation. You really should try it sometime.

Here are a few more our brightest and best Aussie authors who have and are…

Angela Sunde ~ Gold Coast based children’s author and illustrator of picture books, short stories and Pond Magic, with a strong penchant for apples.

A Small Free Kiss in the DarkI’m currently reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, by Glenda Millard. A beautiful evocative voice which reminds me of Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Then’ series. It could possibly be one of my favourite books.

I am re-reading the Puzzle Ring, by Kate Forsyth, looking carefully at structure this time.

I’m also reading Pen on Fire, by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett – a busy woman’s guide to igniting the writer within.

At the top of my teetering ‘to be read’ pile are: Citadel by Kate Mosse and The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth.

On my coffee table you will find Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen. This is a photo book based on Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style. The images portray fabulous women and men of New York who are all silver-haired individualists. I find it inspiring and also a useful reference for characters.

Also on the coffee table is Australian Voices, edited by Ariana Klepac and John Thompson. It is a collection of extracts from diaries, letters, photos and recollections, ranging from the First Fleet to the Great War. There is a story waiting to be written on every page.

And there are many more….

Kate Forsyth ~ internationally best-selling, award-winning author of adult fiction and children’s literature from picture books to fantasy novels, with a strong penchant for fairy tales.

WonderstruckI’m reading ‘Enchanted April’ by Elisabeth von Arnim at present, and then I have on my bedside table to read:

‘Scarlet in the Snow‘ by Sophie Masson

‘The Ashford Affair’ by Lauren Willig

‘Chalice’ by Robin McKinley

‘The Fault in Our Stars‘ by John Green

Dark Road to Darjeeling‘ by Deanna Raybourne

‘Wonder Struck’ by Brian Selznick

I may not read them in this order.

Tania McCartney ~ acclaimed children’s author, editor, publisher and reviewer, with a strong penchant for photography and raspberries.

Eric Vale, Epic Fail: Super Male by Michael Gerard Bauer (Scholastic). I want to review this . . . if I can prise it out of my son’s monkey grip.

Warp: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer (Puffin). I am most embarrassed to admit I’ve never read any of Colfer’s books; am desperate to read Artemis Fowl but I would need another week in my day in order to do this right now. So, until then, I am determined to read and review this first book in the WARP series for Kids’ Book Review.

Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra by Tania McCartney (Ford Street). My first advance copy. I literally haven’t had time to go through it yet!

1599: A year in the life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro (Faber + Faber). It’s a very patient book. It’s been sitting on my bedside table unopened for about six months.

Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock (Harper Press). Andy Griffiths recommended this to me but don’t tell him I haven’t even started it yet. It’s calling to me . . ..

What's Wrong With the Wobbegong What’s Wrong with the Wobbegong? by Phillip Gwynne, illustrated by Gregory Rogers. It’s not out till June so I can’t review it yet, but I just need to keep Gregory Rogers close right now

 

Doodles and Drafts – Charmed with Belinda Murrell

BinnyashakissWhen bestselling, award-winning children’s author Belinda Murrell requested a chat, I was delighted to oblige. And with the dual release of The River Charm and the new Lulu Bell series this month, she has much to talk about. So froth up your café au lait, sit back and discover why squishy bananas, suits of chain-mail and not quite becoming a vet make Belinda smile.

Lulu Bell Unicorn.jpg 2 And don’t forget to read on for my review of The River Charm and details of Belinda’s latest book launch this weekend.

Q Who is Belinda Murrell? Describe your writerly-self for us and the thing that sets you apart from other Aussie children’s authors.

I am a children’s author currently writing my eighteenth book! My books range from picture books, a series of three fantasy adventure books for boys and girls aged 8-12, called The Sun Sword Trilogy and a series of time-slip historical adventure books for older girls called The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman, The Ivory Rose and The Forgotten Pearl. My latest books include The River Charm and a series of six books called Lulu Bell for younger readers.

I love to write for children because I love their whole hearted passion and enthusiasm for books. I am also very inspired by the incredible talent we have here in Australia. There are so many wonderful authors, illustrators, and publishers who are committed to creating exceptional books for our children. I like to think that my books are joyful, thought provoking and vivid.

Sun Sword TrilogyQ Describe your 10 year old self. Did you have any concept then of what you wanted to do or be when you grew up? If so, what was it?

I was a tomboy, with long golden plaits, who loved climbing trees, riding horses, reading books, looking after my animals and sword fighting! I loved writing, and ‘self-published’ novels, poems, plays and stories from about the age of eight in hand illustrated exercise books. However at that age I dreamed of being a vet when I grew up, just like my dad. I didn’t realise that you could have a career as a writer.

Q You write for a wide selection of age groups and children’s genres. Which one do you enjoy the most and why?

My favourite age to write for is probably between 10 and 15. At that age, readers are still young enough to be totally entranced by a story and to love it passionately. However they are also old enough to want to read about more complex issues – history, tragedy, love, loss and redemption. However it has been so much fun to write the much shorter Lulu Bell books for readers aged about 6 to 9.

The River CharmQ Who / what inspired the characters in The River Charm?

The River Charm 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.

Q If you could time slip back to the era of the 1840’s, would you? Why?

Yes! I’d love to visit Oldbury (the house that my great-great-great-great grandparents built) and meet the Atkinson family to see how they compare with my imaginings about them. I feel that I know these characters intimately after spending a year researching their lives and adventures. It would be amazing to meet them in real life.

Q What was the most despised thing you’ve ever found in your school lunchbox?

Squished banana and soggy celery.

Lulu PenguinQ Do you think childhood happenings shape your adult writing voice and style? Have yours? Share one moment from your past which has direct bearing on your present.

Yes absolutely. I had a wonderful childhood – full of books, animals and adventures. My mother encouraged us to be creative and imaginative whether it was reading lots of books, writing our own stories, playing imaginative games or just having the time to daydream. She always encouraged us to aim high and be the best we could possibly be. On the other hand, my father was very adventurous – travelling the world and disappearing for months at a time. He used to take us off on amazing trips – sailing the ocean, horse-riding and camping out on remote cattle stations. As a result I have always loved to travel and have had some incredible adventures. Many of these childhood experiences have made their way into my writing. My new Lulu Bell series is very inspired by my childhood, as it is about a girl called Lulu growing up in a vet hospital, just like I did as a child. We had so many animals, including a pony called Rosie who lived in our back garden in suburban Sydney. If anyone left the back door ajar – she was straight into the kitchen searching for snacks. This particular incident inspired a key scene in Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn.

Q Do you have favourites? If so list your favourite read of all time, holiday spot and most memorable breakfast and why.

Favourite book (so hard to pick only one) but I’ll say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I discovered Jane Austen’s novels when I was a teenager and immediately loved them. I particularly enjoyed the satirical humour of her novels, the witty dialogue and the insight into late eighteenth century English society. I’m enjoying sharing Jane Austen with my own daughter now.

Favourite Holiday Spot – my brother’s farm at Dungog which we visit as often as we can. This is where I keep my horse Nutmeg. We go up there and work with the cattle, get filthy dirty and ride for hours!

Most memorable breakfast – croissants, omelette and café au lait at our apartment in Paris!! For two years, my family and I travelled while I home schooled my three children. One of my favourite places was staying in an apartment in the Marais district of Paris.

Q Did you have a favourite book character or hero as a child? If you could incorporate that character into one of your own stories, which would it be and why?

When I was growing up, I loved Lucie Pevensie from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I loved the book’s enticing mixture of adventure, action and fantasy. My sister and I would dress up in silver chain mail, with swords and bows and arrows, and play Narnia. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to pass through a secret door into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure.

In a way, my heroine Tilly in The Ruby Talisman was like Lucie. With an old family heirloom, she found her way into another world. It was the colourful, dangerous and vibrant world of France in 1789 during the French Revolution. However Tilly was a more modern, feisty heroine than Lucie – and yes, she could fight with a sword!!

Kate and BelindaQ What other Aussie children’s book author(s) do you admire the most and why? (sisters allowed!)

Of course I adore my sister Kate Forsyth. She is an amazing writer and has an incredible knowledge of the publishing industry. We are also very good friends and walk together regularly along the beach, talking about writing, books and our latest plot tangles!

Q Do you write every day? Do you have a special spot or routine to make the magic happen or can you write anywhere, any time?

Yes – I try to write every day, unless I am out visiting schools and festivals. I work in my beautiful office, which is lined with hundreds of books, has a fireplace and looks out over my gorgeous garden. My dog Asha keeps me company, sleeping in front of the fire. I usually get all my kids organised for school, take my dog for a walk along the beach, come home make a coffee, sit down and start writing!

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

Definitely the moment when my agent, Pippa Masson, rang to tell me that Random House wanted to publish not just my first book, but a three book deal for The Sun Sword Trilogy! We cracked bottles of the finest French champagne and my feet didn’t touch the ground for days!

Q Name one non-writing goal you’d like to achieve in this lifetime.

To see my three beautiful children grow up to be warm, funny, loving, joyful and inspiring adults. Luckily they are all well on the way!

Q What is on the draft table for Belinda?

I am now writing book 6 in my Lulu Bell series, for junior readers, which is called Lulu Bell and the Sea Turtle. However it is a bit of a struggle to concentrate at the moment with all the launch activities. The book is due to my publisher, Zoe Walton, next week so I’d better get cracking with it!!

A Mother's Offering to her ChildrenReview – The River Charm

Until I’d meet Belinda and immersed myself into the absorbing world of The River Charm, I had not given much thought to the first Australian children’s book; what it was about, who wrote it or when it first appeared. The River Charm introduces us to this fascinating period of colonial artistic and literary history with the help of a much cherished river pebble charm which unlocks modern-day Millie’s astonishing 19th century ancestry.

Many aspects of early Australian society may intrigue young readers but probably receive as much serious consideration as the first ever Australian published children’s book does. Murrell successfully weaves fact and fiction together in a mesmerising time-slip historical tale based on her own great-great-great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Waring Atkinson who penned, A Mother’s Offering To Her Children in 1841. For me, as much as for Millie, this is an awe-inspiring discovery.

Murrell’s admirable female heroines including the fearless Mamma and her daughter Charlotte, represent the face of human tenacity, and true pioneering spirit surviving amidst the striking yet harsh and unforgiving Australia bush.

It’s a story about endurance and the right to fight for what you believe in. Tween (10-14) girls and lovers of evocative, historical Australian bush themed sagas (the likes of The Silver Brumby that delighted me as a child) will adore The River Charm.

Discover more of Belinda’s enchanting time-slip adventures and books here. Or join her on Friday June 7 for High Tea at Berkelouw Books, shop 24, 215 Condamine St, Stockland Centre, Balgowlah at 6pm for the launch of The River Charm and Lulu Bell. (I’ll be reviewing this fab new series for junior readers later this year.)

Random House Australia Children’s June 2013

 

 

The Wildkin’s Curse

Today I’ve got something a bit different — a guest book review. Kate Forsyth’s The Wildkin’s Curse, reviewed by Charlotte Callander, a recent creative writing graduate. Take it away Charlotte…

Review of Kate Forsyth’s The Wildkin’s Curse
Charlotte Callander

A story that illuminates the power of stories is quite a pleasant irony.

Although I have not read Kate Forsyth’s other books, it is clear by her conglomeration of fantasy novels, written over the years for both adults and children, that she is firmly and happily ensconced in this genre moste magick.

The Wildkin’s Curse is labelled a “companion book” to Forsyth’s previous children’s novel, The Starthorn Tree, and a third instalment is yet to come. The books are standalone novels set in the one world—the mystical Ziva.

Upon navigating through the book’s vaguely convoluted back-story, there really is a great adventure to be privy to, and a trio of highly likeable protagonists who give real heart to the tale. Set in a world divided by a long-suffering feud between its three peoples—Starkin, Wildkin and Hearthkin—the three young heroes must settle their differences, parry the betrayals and wiles of their supposed allies, and grapple with their rapidly emerging identities/hormones. Of course, all of this fun “growing up” is done over the course of their rescue mission, to release Princess Rozalina. A beautiful young Wildkin girl, Rozalina is being held prisoner by the Starkin because of her power to enchant with words—anything she says, whether it is a curse or a prophecy or a story, must come to be. Hence the book’s underlying message: words have weight.

The trio comprises of Zed, a chivalrous and gallant Starkin boy on the road to becoming King of Ziva; Merry, the sensitive, brooding Hearthkin musician with a sharp mind, a kind heart and a penchant for lute-playing; and the feisty Liliana, a Wildkin teenager who has a bow and a set of arrows ready to fly into the hearts of the “Starkin scum” who persecuted her people for years, leaving her orphaned and vengeful.

With only the cryptic advice of the Erlrune of Evenlinn to go by, the three must riddle out their rescue plan and use logic, intuition and sometimes sacrifice to complete their task.

Forsyth has done a remarkable job at weaving together this universe. Before The Wildkin’s Curse even launches into its first chapter, she gives the reader plenty to mull over. There is an appetizing prophecy that begins,

Three times a babe shall be born,
Between star-crowned and iron-bound.
First, the sower of seeds, the soothsayer,
Though lame, he must travel far.

The rustic language and rhyme certainly evoke a scent of mystery and fate—already, a world is forming in the reader’s imagination; already, one can trust that this story has been carefully and concisely crafted. Upon turning the page, we are then offered a family tree and a list of characters in the manner of a Shakespeare play—their titles, families, and ages where relevant (essentially, anyone who is a tween or teen has an age listed, and the adults are just, well, adult-age). There is also a Tolkien-style map of Ziva that is illustrated with its forests and castles and kingdoms. Evidently, Forsyth wanted to make sure that the reader could not possibly get confused.

Admittedly, despite being years beyond that of a twelve-year-old, the target demographic for The Wildkin’s Curse, I did find the list of characters almost too helpful. As layered as Forsyth’s world is, the sheer amount of villains and lords and princesses and counts and distantly related heirs does weigh on the pace of the book. As The Starthorn Tree seems to have been concerned with the parents of our protagonists, in The Wildkin’s Curse, there certainly is a lot of explaining done throughout the novel—sometimes clumsily—and I wonder whether a greater reading might be gained by tackling The Starthorn Tree first.

As a standalone book, however, The Wildkin’s Curse is still charming, readable, clever, and heartfelt. It certainly is a FANTASY story in all its glory, brimming with every cliché in the book: damsels in distress, a loosely Medieval time setting, two-dimensional yawning villains with torture machines, lutes and singing, rhymes and riddles, hare for dinner, and swooning love-at-first-sight lovers.

This being said, however, for the unjaded youngster who will happily devour a good fairytale, or even for the adult with a big heart and a passion for a good ol’ fantasy book, The Wildkin’s Curse will eagerly tick all the right boxes. It is, fundamentally, a story with laughter, with love, and above all, with weight.

George’s bit at the end

My thanks to Charlotte for the review. Charlotte Callander has just finished her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing. She aspires to do great things and write great words. For more of Charlotte’s writing, check out her occasionally updated blog. For more info about Kate Forsyth and her books, check out her website.

And tune in next time for Pigeons.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter.

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THE STORY BEHIND THE WILDKIN’S CURSE

Today, we welcome Kate Forsyth back to Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the inspiration behind her compelling new book, The Wildkin’s Curse.

Morning, Kate. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?

With some books, you know exactly where you were when the first seed of a novel takes root in your imagination. For The Wildkin’s Curse, this moment of inspiration or epiphany happened during the writing of The Starthorn Tree, which was my first children’s book. What I wanted to do with The Starthorn Tree was write the kind of book that had so enchanted me as a child, a book filled with a sense of wonder and beauty and peril.

I wanted a fairytale quality, that sense that anything can happen. I deliberately set out to write a book that used fairytale motifs, like the sleeping princess, the poisoned apple, the dark and perilous forest …. yet I turned those motifs upside-down and inside-out. So, in The Starthorn Tree, it is the young count of Estelliana who lies in an enchanted sleep and his sister who sets out on a quest to find the way to waken him.

As anyone who has read any of my work knows, I love puzzles and prophecies and so, in The Starthorn Tree, I have a boy character called Durrik who ‘hears’ voices in his head and is compelled to speak what they tell him, no matter the consequences. Towards the end of The Starthorn Tree Durrik utters a prophecy of the future that begins ‘three times a babe shall be born, between star-crowned and iron-bound …’ which intimated that there would be other children born in the future who would carry on the fight begun by the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.

Well, I had never planned this prophecy. I had never planned for there to be two more books set in the world of Estelliana. I had thought I was writing a stand-alone novel.  Yet Durrik just opened his mouth one day and spoke the prophecy, nearly exactly as it appears in the book, and all I did was write it down. It was one of those magical writing days when it feels like you are just a scribe, writing down the story as it is told to you by some higher power.
In that moment I knew that I needed to write two more books set in this world. I scribbled a note to myself that day – ‘a quest to save a wildkin princess held captive in a crystal tower’ – then went on writing my chapter. That’s all I had – a single sentence – but it is the very first seed of the book that became The Wildkin’s Curse. A companion book to The Starthorn Tree, it takes place about twenty years later and features the children of the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.

Who are your main characters in The Wildkin’s Curse?

I have three main characters. Zedrin is a starkin lord and heir to the Castle of Estelliana. He is tall, handsome, strong and destined for great things (or so he thinks).

Merry is his best friend, and the son of the hearthkin’s rebel leader. He has been brought up to fight, even though all he wants to do is write music and play his lute.

Liliana is a wildkin and has her own uncanny magical gifts. Time-honoured enemies, these three must somehow overcome their differences if they are to succeed on their mission …

Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

I like to think it’ll be a breath of fresh air after the preponderance of gloomy, angsty paranormal romances clogging the bookshelves at the moment.


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It was wonderful to return to the world of Estelliana! I felt like I was returning home. The Starthorn Tree is one of my all-time favourites of my own books and so I was glad to be back in its world, seeing what happened to the people who lived there and exploring new lands and  new adventures.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

The final climactic scenes were hard to write, but then they usually are – I want to tie all the threads together; I want to make sure all my villains are justly dealt with;  I want some cost to my heroes’ triumph;  I want to leave my reader with that sigh and the sting of tears that comes at the end of a really satisfying book. Big ambitions, hard to do!

The Wildkin’s Curse is a story of magic, adventure and suspense for readers aged 12 and older.

Thanks so much Kate for taking time out of your very busy schedule to visit us at Kids’ Book Capers.

Dee

BORN STORYTELLER – KATE FORSYTH

Author Kate Forsyth is visiting Kids’ Book Capers today to talk about her writing journey.

As Kate explains, she comes from a long line of storytellers.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandmother wrote the first children’s book published in Australia. Called ‘A Mother’s Offering to Her Children by a Lady Long Resident in New South Wales’, first editions are now worth $50,000 and no, I don’t have one! Maybe one day … Her daughter, Louise Atkinson, and my great-great-great-great-aunt, was Australia’s first Australian-born novelist. There have been all kinds of writers in the family since, and both my sister, Belinda Murrell, and my brother, Nick Humphrey, are published authors.

How did you become a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember. I wrote poems and stories from the time I first held a pencil, then wrote my first novel when I was seven. I haven’t stopped since. As soon as I finish one book, I’m already daydreaming about the next. My first novel Dragonclaw was published when I was 30 so it seemed to me to take a very long time to get published, though everyone kept exclaiming how young I was!

I was lucky enough that Dragonclaw went on to become a bestseller both here and overseas, and so I’ve been able to write full-time ever since (13 years now!) I’ve written more than 20 books, ranging from picture books to books for children and young adults to adult novels, plus a collection of poetry. I feel so blessed that my lifelong dream has come true!

Do your books have any consistent themes/symbols/locations. If so, what are they?

Absolutely! I’ve come to realise that the deep, underlying theme to my books is nearly always the importance of connection between people – the importance of human love in all its forms. One of my all-time favourite epigraphs is ‘only connect” from E.M. Forster’s ‘Howard’s End’ – I want to paint it above my desk.

How many books have you had published?

The Wildkin’s Curse is my 23rd book.

What are you working on now?

The third book in the Chronicles of Estelliana, to be called ‘The Starkin Crown’. In that book, my hero Peregrine is the grandson of two of the main characters in ‘The Starthorn Tree’. It is the culmination of that day, during the writing of ‘The Starthorn Tree’ when Durrik opened his mouth and made a prophecy and all I could do was write down what he said in amazement and wonder.

Kate’s coming back to Kids’ Book Capers on Wednesday to talk about her beautiful new book, The Wildkin’s Curse.

So what’s your new book about, Kate?

The Wildkin’s Curse is a tale of true love and high adventure, set in a world of magic and monsters, valiant heroes and wicked villains. It tells the story of two boys and a girl who undertake the impossible task of rescuing a wildkin princess imprisoned in a crystal tower. Princess Rozalina has the power to enchant with words. She can conjure up a plague of rats, wish the dead out of their graves, and change people’s hearts and minds with her stories. As much a curse as a gift, her magic will be used for evil by the ruling starkin if she is not set free and taught to use her powers wisely.

On Wednesday Kate’s going to talk at Kids’ Book Capers about the inspiration behind her new book and how it all came together.

Kate is also appearing at Tuesday Writing Tips http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com  tomorrow where she’ll be discussing To Plot or Not to Plot.

Kate Forsyth talks inspiration

I have a soft spot for Kate Forsyth. She was the first author I interviewed when I became a Boomerang Books blogger (click here). And now, it’s a new year, this is a new blog, and Kate has a new book, so it’s only fair I invite her around for a new feature (although, it looks like George may have gotten the scoop first – click here for her guest-blog over at Literary Clutter). Her buzzed-about new release, The Wildkin’s Curse is out now. Check back at the end of the week for coverage of the book launch, and details on how you can win yourself a copy.

KATE FORSYTH:
Seven Inspirations behind The Wildkin’s Curse

Like all writers, I’m asked all the time: ‘Where did you get your ideas from?’ This is always a really hard question to answer, because all books have lots and lots of different ideas in them, all woven together. However, here are just seven of the primary ideas and inspirations behind The Wildkin’s Curse.

Seven inspirations:

1)    The Princess Bride by William Goldman and other favourite books of mine from childhood, like the Narnia books, The Wizard of Earthsea and The Book of Three. I was given a copy of The Princess Bride  for my 13th birthday, and it immediately became one of my favourite books. I have always loved books filled with adventure, magic, romance, humour and pathos, stories set long, long ago and far, far away. When I set out to write the ‘Chronicles of Estelliana’, I wanted to recapture the feel of the books I had loved so much as a child.

2)    I have always had a deep love of fairytales and fairytale retellings. As well as the power to enchant and entertain, I believe that the old wonder tales can help us work through the deep internal conflicts that beset us all as we grow to adulthood. The books in the Chronicles of Estelliana consciously draw upon, and invert, fairytale motifs. In The Starthorn Tree, the Count of Estelliana lies in a deep, enchanted sleep as the result of tasting a poisoned apple and it is his sister who sets out to wake him. In The Wildkin’s Curse, there is a princess imprisoned in a tower but Rozalina does not wait passively to be rescued, like Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel. She wishes and prays and tells stories, and in the end, curses her captors.

3)    This book grew out of my own deeply-held belief that words and stories have power.  One of my favourite quotes is from Joseph Conrad who said: ‘My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything.’

4)    The idea of a princess imprisoned in a crystal tower was the very first spark for this book. When I was two years old, I was savaged by a dog and ended up with terrible head injuries that resulted in meningitis. As a result of this, I was in and out of hospital for the next six years. Many long days were spent lying in my hospital bed, staring out the window and imagining myself galloping away over the hill, on my way to marvellous adventures. As a result, people held captive in towers is a motif that appears again and again in my work.

5)    Early on in the writing of the book, I had assembled my three adventurers and given them their quest but I had no idea how they were to rescue my imprisoned princess. I didn’t want to have Zed, Merry and Liliana just wandering through the land having vague, fantasy-style adventures (i.e. attack by monster in lake, misadventure while eating stew in roadside inn). I believe a story is like a sword – it must have a point. So my books always have a deeper thematic structure to them. Each obstacle my characters overcome has some kind of symbolic significance, as well as a practical function. So I had been puzzling over this particular problem for some time, but had not yet worked out a solution. I went for my morning walk and strode along, thinking, ‘how can they rescue Rozalina? How?’ Suddenly a raven took to the air, right in front of me, and dropped a single black feather at my feet. I bent and picked up the feather, my mind racing with ideas. A feather … a cloak of feathers … a damaged cloak of feathers that is missing seven feathers, each one from a different bird … a raven, symbol of death and wisdom … a tragic battle scene … an eagle, symbol of power and royalty … a dangerous climb to the top of a cliff … a nightingale, symbol of true love … a tender romantic scene late in the book … I walked faster and faster and faster, my mind leaping from one idea to another, and by the time I got home I had my entire novel fully plotted out. It was one of those amazing serendipitous moments that make writing a novel such a joy.

6)    World building is an important part of a fantasy writer’s job, and this means thinking very deeply about the effects of certain social, political or geographical factors upon your world. In the world of Estelliana, the ruling starkin families have married among themselves for many generations. I had read long been interested in haemophilia, sometimes called ‘the Royal Disease’ because of its ravaging effects among the  descendants of Queen Victoria. Her eighth son died of the disease, despite every effort to keep him from injury, and at least nine of her grandsons and great-grandsons were also haemophiliac. It was whispered that the queen’s family had long ago been cursed by an unhappy monk, and certainly the disease works in such a strange way that it must have seemed like malignant magic. Only boys are affected, and there was little hope, in the olden days, of growing to be an adult. It would make my world much more interesting, I thought, to have Rozalina being blamed for cursing her father so that none of his sons would live beyond babyhood, making her … a scorned girl-child and a despised half-breed … the heir to the throne.

7)    At the heart of The Wildkin’s Curse is a prophecy, uttered by Merry’s father in The Starthorn Tree. It says: ‘Next shall be the king-breaker, the king-maker, though broken himself he shall be.’ I knew that I wanted this prophecy to have several layers of meaning. I’ve been interested in paganism since I was a child, and knew that Easter had its roots in the celebration of the spring equinox, which signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For thousands and thousands of years, long beyond Christianity, the death of winter and birth of spring was celebrated in stories and rituals of a god or a man who died and was then reborn. This god has been given many names – Attis, Osiris, Orpheus, Dionysus, and Tammuz, to name a few. So I planned my novel to end on the night of the spring equinox, when one of my heroes must die …

– Kate Forsyth

Time tripping with Kate Forsyth

George’s little intro

Last time around, I waffled on a bit about a few time travel books that I’ve read. For today’s post, author Kate Forsyth has stopped by to tell us about her favourite time travel books. Kate is the author of The Puzzle Ring (an excellent time travel fantasy for kids and teens) as well as numerous other novels. To find out more about Kate and her writing, check out her website.

“My top 5 time travel books”
by Kate Forsyth

The past is a mysterious and dangerous place, so very different from our own that it could indeed be another world. The idea of travelling back in time has always fascinated me, and so I have always wanted to write a time travel adventure like the ones I used to love reading as a child.

Part of the joy of writing The Puzzle Ring was reading all those time travel stories again. Many of them had been books from my school library, so I had to hunt for copies on the Internet, buying them from second-hand and antiquarian bookshops all over the world.

Here are my five favourites:

1908 – Edith Nesbit, The House of Arden

The House of Arden has always been my favourite Nesbit novel. It’s about a boy called Edred who inherits a crumbling old castle when he is close to his tenth birthday but to his consternation he will only be able to keep it if he can find the lost Arden fortune before his birthday. Edred, his twin sister Elfrida, and the temperamental Mouldiwarp, a magical talking creature, travel through time searching for the treasure. The twins visit a number of different periods of English history, meeting witches and highwaymen and rebels and having exciting adventures. This book was definitely a very strong influence on me, particularly when I first began to conceive the story of The Puzzle Ring, and certainly the idea of being heir to an ancient castle and a treasure lie at the heart of my book too.

1939 – Alison Uttley, A Traveller In Time

This book tells the story of Penelope, who slips back and forth between her own time (1930s England) and Elizabethan times. Her adventures start when she goes to stay at an old, old farmhouse called Thackers in the countryside. Thackers was once owned by the Babington family, who famously tried and failed to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots while she was imprisoned by her cousin, Elizabeth I, and so this novel was one of the things which first began my fascination with the tragic Scottish queen. It’s an absolute classic and a must read for anyone interested in time travel stories.

1954 – Lucy Boston, The Children of Green Knowe

I loved this book as a child, and loved it just as much when I read it again while writing The Puzzle Ring. It tells the story of young Tolly who goes to stay with his great-grandmother, Mrs Oldknowe. Her house, Greenknowe, is old and mysterious and filled with stories of the past – stories that begin to come alive for Tolly. The house and its beautiful garden were based on Lucy Boston’s own house, The Manor, in Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire, which was built in the 1130s and lays claim to the oldest continually inhabited house in the UK. Lucy Boston once wrote: “I believe children, even the youngest, love good language, and that they see, feel, understand and communicate more, not less, than grownups. Therefore I never write down to them, but try to evoke that new brilliant awareness that is the world.’

This is what I try and do too.

Tom’s Midnight Garden1958 – Philippa Pearce, Tom’s Midnight Garden

Tom’s Midnight Garden won the Carnegie Medal in 1958, and is considered one of the great classics of English children’s literature. I think it is utterly enchanting, and perfect in every way. It’s one of those books that stay with you forever after.

Tom is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle in a boarding house when his brother gets measles. Bored to tears, he has nothing to do and wishes the old house had a garden in which he could play. That night he hears the old grandfather clock in the hallway downstairs strike thirteen, and runs downstairs to investigate. He finds the hallway opening on to the most wonderful garden, and explores it in absolute delight. Soon he meets a girl called Hattie, who he discovers lived there in the 19th century. She thinks Tom is a ghost, while he thinks she is – they argue about it and it makes Tom uneasy. As the days pass, Hattie grows up while Tom stays the same. The time comes for Tom to go home, but he doesn’t want to go – the midnight garden has become more real, more important to him than his real life. The ending is one of the most perfectly executed and moving moments in children’s literature – I feel the catch of breath, the sting of tears, every time I read it.

An amusing anecdote: when Philippa Pierce went to Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE, the Queen asked her, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ To which, Phillipa Pierce replied ‘Harrods.’ I just love that.

1988 – Jane Yolen, The Devil’s Arithmetic

A beautiful and moving novel about the Holocaust, The Devil’s Arithmetic tells the story of Hannah who, embarrassed by her grandparents’ enduring grief over their past, finds herself transported back to a village in Poland in the 1940s. Captured by the Nazis, she is taken to a death camp where she fights to stay alive and retain her dignity. At the end, she chooses to go to the gas chamber to save a friend in a scene that had me sobbing out loud with horror and disbelief. At that moment she returns to herself in contemporary times, but with a much deeper understanding of her grandparents’ inability to shake off the past. This is truly a brilliant book, one that should be read by everyone. It has been made into a movie, which I haven’t yet seen (though I would like to!)

George’s little bit at the end

I have not read a single one of these books, but they all sound fascinating. I obviously need to broaden my horizons. In my defence (such as it is) I can say that I have seen the 1989 BBC series of Tom’s Midnight Garden. I enjoyed it a great deal but I don’t know how faithful an adaptation it is.

After reading Kate’s selection, I was reminded of one other book I should have mentioned in my last post — Mark Twain’s 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Were I able to travel through time, I’d go back and fix this oversight, but seeing as I can’t, I’ll have to settle for mentioning it now instead. As the title suggests, it’s about an American who travels back in time to the court of King Arthur. It’s been filmed several times, including one version with Bing Crosby. I read the book a few years ago and loved it. Long winded and meandering, often humorous, occasionally political and sometimes lacking internal logic… but always interesting. And my god, Twain wrote some incredibly long sentences.

This brings us to the end of our time travelling adventures, for now. Tune in next time, when I’ll tell you about the launch of The Star and have chat with it’s author/illustrator, Felicity Marshal.

Catch ya later, George

Time tripping

I’ve just started reading a YA novel called TimeRiders, written by Alex Scarrow. It’s a time travel story about three teens from three different years (1912, 2010 and 2026) who are recruited by the mysterious Agency to become TimeRiders, operatives who go about fixing problems caused by other time travellers. Sounds rather clichéd, doesn’t it? I’m only 50 pages in, but so far, so good. It plunges you straight into the action and has managed to hold my interest thus far. Mind you, there are still 376 pages to go. I’ll report back once I’ve finished it.

In the meantime, I thought now might be the appropriate moment for a time travel post. After all, a bit of time travel can be fun. I’m eagerly looking forward to the new season of Doctor Who. I’d list the Back to the Future movies amongst my favourite re-watchable films (What can I say? I’m a child of the 80s). I also have a soft spot for Somewhere in Time. And I’ve lost track of how often I’ve watched the various crews of the Starship Enterprise skip back into the past. But let’s talk about books…

Now that I think about it, I can’t recall having read all that many time travel books. I own a copy of The Time Machine by HG Wells, but I’ve never read it. Yes, very remiss of me. It’s been on my “must get around to reading” list for a good many years. (Along with other classic genre novels such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde — which I did finally get around to reading a couple of years ago.) But enough about what I haven’t read… let me tell you about what I have read.

The Puzzle RingThe two most recent time travel books to have actually made it through my reading list are Kate Forsyth’s The Puzzle Ring and Sean McMullen’s Before the Storm. These books nicely illustrate the two categories of time travel fiction that most stories fall into — science fiction and fantasy.

The Puzzle Ring is a charming novel for kids and teens, revolving around Celtic fairy folklore. When Hannah Rose Brown returns to her ancestral home in Scotland with her mother, she discovers a family curse and the truth about her father’s mysterious disappearance. The only way to save her father and break the curse is to travel back in time to the era of Mary Queen of Scots. The time travel in this story is achieved by passing through the realm of fairy.

Before the StormBefore the Storm, on the other hand, is YA science fiction. Fox and BC travel back in time from the distant future to 1901 with the aid of a time machine. These two teens are on a mission to stop the bombing of the first Australian Parliament — an event that will have a devastating affect on the future of the whole world. But once in 1901, they need the help of three ordinary teenagers from that time period to complete their mission.

Two very different books — examples of the two different types of time travel stories. Both are excellent!

Now, I’m going to try and think back to the hazy past of my childhood and teenage years and mention a couple of other time travel stories.

Red Hart Magic by Andre Norton. It’s about two kids who travel back in time, thanks to a magical model of an old English inn. I’m afraid I remember almost nothing about this book except that I really enjoyed it at the time I read it, around about the age of 13, I think. I read quite a lot of Andre Norton’s books at the time.

In my later teen years I read Robert Leeson’s Time Rope books: Time Rope, Three Against the World, At War With Tomorrow and The Metro Gangs Attack. This series is about three teens who travel through time by swinging on a rope hanging from an old tree in a mist-shrouded place called the Neural Zone. Again, memory fails me as to the details. I’ve continued to read Leeson’s books, most recently his retelling of the Arthurian legends, The Song of Arthur, although my favourite of his books is the parallel worlds novel, Slambash Wangs of a Compo Gormer.

Hmmm! I don’t seem to be doing too well in the memory stakes. I wonder if there are any other books I’ve read but can’t remember that I could recommend to you? 🙂

There are, of course, the plethora of Doctor Who novelisations, novels and short stories that I’ve read over the years. I do actually remember most of these. But they would be worthy of a post all to themselves. And I will get around to a Doctor Who post (or two, or three…) some time in the future. If you happen to have a time machine, feel free to skip ahead and read them now.

Let’s finish with a question. What are your favourite time travels books? Please feel free to leave your time travel recommendations in the comments section below.

Tune in next time, when Kate Forsyth, author of The Puzzle Ring, drops by to tell us about her favourite time travel books.

Catch ya later, George

Hello world!

I have been um-ing and ah-ing about blogging for some time now. You know, the usual sort of self-doubting questions most writers indulge in every now and then. Should I do it? Will I have enough things to blog about? Will I have enough time to do it? Will anyone out there actually read it? The part of me that wanted to blog was beginning to win out when this Boomerang Blog opportunity presented itself. I took it as a sign from … um … someone. And so here I am, inflicting my thoughts upon the unsuspecting denizens of cyberspace.

I have a cluttered mind and a cluttered bookshelf, so there’s a high probability of randomness on this blog. But I’ll start off by stating some of my literary likes so that you’ll have at least some idea of what may show up in my posts.

I love picture books. I have two young daughters, so I read a LOT of picture books. And guess what? Picture books aren’t just for kids.

I love science fiction and fantasy and horror (although not the blood and guts, splattery type horror). I quite like vampire fiction… but I feel the need to say that Twilight is not my cup of tea. Edward who?

I write books for kids and teens. I read lots of books aimed at kids and teens. Man, there’s some amazing stuff out there aimed at this market. So I’ll probably write about these sorts of books a fair bit. And I’ll probably write about the process of writing as well.

My favourite Aussie authors include Richard Harland, Carole Wilkinson and Terry Dowling. My favourite o/s authors include Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z Brite and John Christopher. I’ll most likely write about these people and their books at some point.

And now for a list (I like lists). My favourite books from 2009:

Oh, one more thing… I’m a Doctor Who fan. Yes, I know — it’s a tv show, but there are Doctor Who books as well, so you can be guaranteed of at least one Doctor Who post at some stage. So just deal with it!

Right! I think that’s enough for my first post. Tune in next time, when I’ll tell you all about my clutter.

Catch ya later,  George

Boomerang @ Bookfeast 2009

Whenever William the author is invited to an event, William the Boomerang Blogger gets indirectly invited too. On Wednesday, NSW authors and illustrators braved the orange dust storm, and headed into the CBD for this year’s Bookfeast, a great event organised by Haberfield school librarian Michael Fraser.

Some Boomerang Books Blog alums were there, including Deborah Abela, Belinda Murrell, Richard Harland and Kate Forsyth. Also there was Susanne Gervay, whose I Am Jack’s stage adaptation by MonkeyBaa is on until October 2 at the Seymour Theatre and is the talk of the town, Duncan Ball, Sue Whiting, Jenny Hale, and my current favourite (and the insanely funny) illustrator Sarah Davies, who was just awarded Best New Young Illustrator by the CBCA for the powerful Mending Lucille.

Now, pictures!

Exclusive: KATE FORSYTH reviews THE PRIESTESS AND THE SLAVE

The Priestess and the Slave by Jenny Blackford is a small yet intense glimpse of what life must have been like 7,000 years ago in Ancient Greece. It tells the story of two women – the priestess and slave of the title – who never meet each other, yet whose tales reflect and enrich each other.

Thrasulla is a Pythia, one of three priestesses presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. She is a witness to the bribery of one of the other priestesses by the mad king of Sparta, Kleomenes, and its terrible aftermath. As a Pythia, Thrasulla is one of the few women to hold any power or prestige in a male-dominated world.

Her story is contrasted with that of Harmonia, a slave, who must nurse the members of the family who own her through the dreadful plague of Athens, despite her own fears for herself and her twin sister.

Replete with evocative details of food and clothing and manners and morals, The Priestess and the Slave is simply and elegantly told, with the clear ring of truth that comes from absolute control over one’s material. Jenny Blackford won a First Class Honours degree in Classics, so she really knows this world well and, with this novel, reveals it to us.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Kate Forsyth is the internationally bestselling author of numerous books for children and adults. Her latest release is The Puzzle Ring. In it, thirteen-year-old Hannah discovers her family was cursed long ago. The only way to break the curse is to find the four lost quarters of the mysterious puzzle ring… To do this, Hannah must go back in time to the last tumultuous days of Mary, Queen of Scots, a time when witches were burnt, queens were betrayed and wild magic still stalked the land… Check out our interview with Kate here.

NSW Writers’ Centre: 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival (July 4-5)

Excitement is ramping up for the upcoming NSW Writers’ Centre’s two-day event, the 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival, held July 4-5. The Festival’s bringing together some of the best Australian authors and illustrators, publishers, scriptwriters and industry advocates in what has been dubbed “a celebration of story and the special world of Children’s Literature”.

I was lucky enough to have been invited as a guest speaker, but honestly, I’m far more excited about the company I keep, which includes Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Kate Forsyth (check out our interview here), Libby Gleeson, James Roy (check out our exclusive interview here), and Ursula Dubosarsky.

It’s shaping up to be a dynamic weekend. The Saturday is the day for the traditional Festival goings-on, speeches and panels, while the Sunday is dedicated to workshops, industry consultations and manuscript assessments with some of the best in the writing community.

So, Sydneysiders, if you’d like to meet me and other (read: more important) figures in the Australian Children’s literary landscape, there’s more information here.

June Book Giveaway

This month’s book giveaway is a bumper one, so be sure to register HERE for your chance to win copies of:

Roadside Sisters by Wendy Harmer SIGNED
Nina, Meredith and Annie have been friends for a long, long time. Elegant Meredith, motherly Nina and the determinedly single Annie are as unlikely companions as you could find. But like a matched set of 1950’s kitchen canisters of Flour, Sugar and Tea, they always seem to end up together. Now each is facing the various trials of middle age: divorces, less than satisfactory marriages, teenage kids, careers going nowhere. One night, over one too many Flaming Sambuccas during a reunion dinner, they somehow find themselves agreeing to take a road trip to Byron Bay in a RoadMaster Royale mobile home, to attend Meredith’s daughter’s wedding. Fights and friendship, tears and laughter – not to mention the possibility of finding Mr. Right along the way – this trip might tear them apart or it might just save their lives. Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Wendy Harmer HERE.

The Hotel Albatross by Debra Adelaide
The Captain and his wife accidentally find themselves managing the Hotel Albatross. The Captain floats between the hotel’s various bars: chatting to and chatting up customers, breaking up fights, and dealing calmly with the simmering tensions of a small town. His wife has her hands full with the day-to-day running of the hotel: mediating between family members fighting over wedding decorations, appeasing disgruntled staff members, and dealing with the horror of what lies in room 101. She also dreams of getting out… A wonderfully poignant novel about hotel management and human nature.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks SIGNED
Nina became a vampire in 1973, when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun either, because her life is so sickly and boring. It becomes even worse when one of the other vampires in her therapy group is stalked by a mysterious slayer. Threatened with extinction, she and her fellow vampires decide to hunt down the culprit. Trouble is, they soon find themselves up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing. Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Or is there more to your average vampire than meets the eye?

World Shaker by Richard Harland
A brilliant fantasy that will hook you from the very first page, set aboard a huge ship in which the elites live on the top decks while the Filthies toil below. Col’s safe, civilized world on the upper decks of the Worldshaker, a huge ship that has been sailing since 1845, is changed forever when a Filthy from below finds her way into his cabin. Richard Harland has created an acutely observed and utterly compelling Gothic world of warped Victoriana to explore 16-year-old Col’s journey from cosseted youth to courageous maturity.

The Priestess and the Slave by Jenny Blackford
A tale of honor and dishonor, of love, pain, madness, and endurance, told with painstaking historical and archaeological accuracy. Set in Classical Greece in the fifth century BC, The Priestess and the Slave conveys the extraordinary history of the time through the eyes of two narrators – a Delphic Pythia deeply embroiled in the political turmoil earlier in the century, and a young slavewoman, some decades later, living through the terrible plague in Athens and the seemingly endless war against the invincible hoplites of Sparta. Vivid, gritty, and emotionally moving. Be sure to look out for Kate Forsyth’s review here exclusively on the Boomerang Blog this month.

The Last Protector by Cameron Raynes
The last protector presents a compelling argument that the South Australian government illegally took Aboriginal children from their parents during the years between 1939 and 1954. Adelaide historian Cameron Raynes draws on extensive archival records, the contents of which have never been available to the public before. Be sure to look out for Cameron Raynes’ exclusive guest-blog here exclusively on the Boomerang Blog this month.

A big thanks to our friends at Allen and Unwin, Pan Macmillan, Hadley Rille and Wakefield Press for supporting our monthly giveaway.

To go into the draw to win this month’s prize, complete the entry form HERE. Entries close 30 June, 2009. Don’t forget, it’s a monthly giveaway, so be sure to favourite that link and keep visiting every month. Please note, entrants will be automatically subscribed to our fortnightly Boomerang Books Bulletin e-newsletter.

… A bonus for our blog readers

Keep an eye on the blog for a special, exclusive giveaway announcement coming this June. 🙂

… A bonus for our Facebook Friends

Need an incentive to join one of Australia’s largest book group on Facebook? Well, we have a great pack of books to give away to one of our Facebook Group members this month, which includes copies of The Hotel Albatross by Debra Adelaide, The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks (SIGNED), World Shaker by Richard Harland, The Priestess and the Slave by Jenny Blackford and The Last Protector by Cameron Raynes.

We’ve also got a further 3 copies of The Hotel Albatross to give away this month.

What are you waiting for? Join Now!

A Sibling’s Review…

Author siblings are pretty rare – and with Kate Forsyth being featured on the blog, and her new novel The Puzzle Ring featuring in our giveaway for the month (click HERE for your chance to win), I knew I just couldn’t pass off the opportunity to approach her sister, author Belinda Murrell for her honest take on her sister’s work. Naturally, a little part of me was hoping for the claws to come out and some brutal sibling competitiveness to really take centre-stage, but really, there’s none in sight. And while she might be quick to admit possible bias, Belinda’s review simply echoes the praise I’ve read for the book in reviews from other sources.

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth
(Pan Macmillan)
Age 10+ Fiction

Hannah Rose Brown is an ordinary Australian 12-year-old. Or so she thinks. Until a mysterious letter arrives from her long-lost great-grandmother in Scotland, which shatters Hannah’s life and everything she believed about herself.  Hannah is actually the great-granddaughter of a countess, and heir to a Scottish castle. Worst of all her family is cursed by dark magic. Hannah must travel back in time to Scotland in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, to try to find the Puzzle Ring, break the curse and save the father she has never met.

The Puzzle Ring weaves together the fascinating history of sixteenth century Scotland, with a rich vein of magic including fairies, hag-stones, water horses, witches and ancient spells.

Kate Forsyth is a wonderful story-teller. Her characters are vibrant and engaging, the plot thrilling and the setting evocative. I am, of course, deeply biased as Kate is my sister! This book is based on stories told to us when we were children by my Scottish grandmother and great-aunts, so I can truly taste the marmalade cakes. I loved The Puzzle Ring, and I am sure so too will many, many children around the world.

———————————————

Belinda Murrell is author of The Sun Sword Trilogy and The Locket of Dreams, a novel for children aged 8+, which is set in contemporary Australia and Scotland and Australia during the 1850s. Coincidentally The Locket of Dreams is also inspired by stories told by her Scottish grandmother.  That’s what happens when you grow up in a story-telling family! For more information about Belinda and her writing, click here.

Interview With KATE FORSYTH

I remember being in Year Six and standing in my best friend’s room. I’d been left alone for some reason. Naturally, I started snooping, and it wasn’t long until my eyes fell on a book with a silver spine and a dragon on the cover sitting, with a bookmark splitting its side, on his nightstand. My friend was reading a fantasy book? I approached said book, I couldn’t believe my luck. Finally, I had something to return serve with during witty banter. When he mentioned my love for creative writing, I could reply with, ‘Yes, but you read fantasy books.’

Being 11, there was only one way to react to this discovery: to heap a inconceivable amount of insults on him when he returned. Return he did, and heap I did. I heaped for a good five minutes, gesturing periodically at the book on his nightstand.

He waited until I was finished. When I was content with the amount of heaping I’d done, I finished with, ‘I never thought you’d like fantasy books,’ to which he replied, ‘Kate Forsyth doesn’t write fantasy books, she writes great books. There’s a difference.’

A little corny, yes, but that’s my earliest memory of Kate Forsyth and her writing – and the book in question was Dragonclaw, the first book in her wildly successful The Witches of Eileanan series. I have to confess I haven’t read much of her work, and I was half-tempted to have my friend interview her, but then I figured, I wouldn’t be much of a blog helmer / media student if I didn’t conduct the first interview myself.

And so, without further ado, Kate Forsyth, Australia’s undisputed Queen of Fantasy…

Just how has your newest release, The Puzzle Ring, been influenced by your own Scottish heritage?

The Puzzle Ring was directly inspired by the stories by Scottish grandmother and great-aunts used to tell me when I was a little girl. They gave me a deep fascination with all things Scottish, plus a romantic imagination fed with tales of battles and feuds and brave deeds. I actually wrote a novel set in Scotland when I was 11 which was called ‘Far, Far Away’ and always longed to go there.

It has elements of historical fiction crammed in with the fantasy – how did you go about researching the novel?

I love to research. It’s reading for a purpose. I did a lot of research for this book – not just on Scottish history and folklore, but also on time travel theories and how to sleep in the snow without getting frostbite.

Who’s favourite character in The Puzzle Ring?

Apart from Hannah, my heroine, my favourite character is Linnet, the old, mysterious cook at the castle.

What are you working on now, if anything at all?

I’m writing a YA fantasy called The Wildkin’s Curse, the long-awaited sequel to The Starthorn Tree.

My godson is practically obsessed with I Am. Would you ever consider writing another picture book?

Oh yes, I’ve got lots of ideas! I just never get a chance to sit down and play with them.

Do you prefer writing for children or adults?

I like writing for both. Each age group has different problems and challenges, and gives you different rewards. It means you never get bored and your writing stays fresh and vivid (or so I hope).

Time to choose between your children… what’s your favourite book you’ve written?

Of course I love all the books I’ve written but I’m also most deeply connected to the book I’ve just written which is of course The Puzzle Ring.

What’s the most annoying question you’re asked in interviews?

My favourite book … 😛

… And the most frustrating thing about being a writer?

How long it takes to actually write a book! If only I could write as fast as I think …

If you could claim any other writer’s work as your own, whose would it be?

Philip Pullman’s.

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth
Thirteen-year-old Hannah discovers her family was cursed long ago. The only way to break the curse is to find the four lost quarters of the mysterious puzzle ring… To do this, Hannah must go back in time to the last tumultuous days of Mary, Queen of Scots, a time when witches were burnt, queens were betrayed and wild magic still stalked the land…

The Puzzle Ring is part of May’s giveaway prize pack. Complete the entry form HERE for your chance to win. Entries close 31 May, 2009.

Upcoming Author Interviews

Just a quick heads-up to say our first two exclusive Boomerang Books author interviews have been scheduled.

Later this week, I’ll be sitting down with Australia’s undisputed Queen of Fantasy, Kate Forsyth, to discuss her latest children’s release, The Puzzle Ring (which is part of our May Giveaway, so don’t forget to enter it HERE).

And this one’s for you, JayTay, a Twittexperiment of sorts. On Tuesday, May 12th, at 5p.m., I’ll be hopping onto Twitter and Twinterviewing (yes, I’m going to do that with all my Twitter-related words, the sooner you come to terms with that, the better) Simmone Howell, who, two books-deep, has proven herself to be a formidable force on the YA market. Her debut, Notes From the Teenage Underground won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Literature 2007, and was brill, and her latest, Everything Beautiful, was my favourite book of last year. How does a Twinterview work? Well, you log onto Twitter at 5p.m., make sure you’re following both Simmone (postteen) and I (boomerangbooks), and you can watch our interview as it happens… You can even hurl her a few questions yourself.

Any authors you want me to hunt down for an interview? Leave a comment, or email me: [email protected].

May Book Giveaway

So, Boomerang Books has a monthly book giveaway. This month, we’re giving away a great pack of new release books, including:

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth
Thirteen-year-old Hannah discovers her family was cursed long ago. The only way to break the curse is to find the four lost quarters of the mysterious puzzle ring… To do this, Hannah must go back in time to the last tumultuous days of Mary, Queen of Scots, a time when witches were burnt, queens were betrayed and wild magic still stalked the land… Keep an eye out later this week for our EXCLUSIVE interview with Kate Forsyth.
 
Believe by Raphael Aron
This book provides the reader with a unique insight into the mind and soul of a drug addict. It juxtaposes the lives of two addicts, using recorded personal and intimate experiences and emotions. Their eloquent diaries are published in the book together with the session notes of their counsellor and the author. The book reveals the raw nature of addiction and the hold it has over those who suffer from it.
 
Shimmer by Basia Bonkowski
A powerful story of love, life and loss by one of Australia’s most distinguished women. Step inside one woman’s very private world as Basia and her brothers gather to watch over their mother during the last fourteen days of her life. Heartrendingly poignant, Shimmer is touched with moments of humour and great insight, as author Basia Bonkowski comes to terms both with losing her mother and the heartbreak of her own personal journey. Basia’s lyrical prose and sharp eye for detail create an unforgettable account of her family over three generations. It is a moving tribute to the strength of the human spirit and the ties that bind.

Spirit Whispers by Charmaine Wilson
Spirit Whispers is the deeply moving and inspiring autobiography of Australian psychic medium Charmaine Wilson. This is the story of a truly gifted woman who discovers her extraordinary abilities the hard way. Along her excruciating journey, she is taught Life’s toughest lessons and eventually its deepest meaning. Charmaine’s story delivers an important message of hope and trust in what lies beyond.

Taxing Trails by Bernard Vrancken
Larry B. Max is an unusual specialist from a little-known branch of the Internal Revenue Service, the all-powerful tax-collecting agency of the United States. Reading into tax-evasion and money-laundering rings the way a virtuoso pianist would read a sheet of Mozart, Max has every technological method at his disposal to find links between high finance and high crime. In this first album, he must look into a particularly delicate file belonging to a rich Jewish-American, known for his involvement in recovering items that were confiscated by the Nazis. Dissecting this billionaire’s accounts, Max embarks on a dangerous journey to find the mysterious origins of the man’s immense fortune..

Nora Heysen: Light and Life by Jane Hylton
Nora Heysen grew up at The Cedars near the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf, and was deeply influenced by her father, Hans Heysen. Nora Heysen: Light and life explores a notable career spanning seven decades, during which the artist painted some of Australia’s most outstanding self-portraits, became the country’s first female war artist, and was the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize.

To go into the draw to win this month’s prize, complete the entry form HERE. Entries close 31 May, 2009. Don’t forget, it’s a monthly giveaway, so be sure to favourite that link and keep visiting every month. Please note, entrants will be automatically subscribed to our fortnightly Boomerang Books Bulletin e-newsletter.

A big thanks to our friends at our friends at Wakefield Press, Pan Macmillan, Fontaine Press, Exisle Publishing and Book&Volume for making the giveaway possible.

… A bonus for our Facebook friends

We’ve got extra copies of Shimmer and Taxing Trails to give away exclusively to our Facebook Group members this month.  Join Now!