Elizabeth Farrelly, author of Caro Was Here, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Elizabeth Farrelly

author of Caro Was Here

Ten Terrifying Questions
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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Dunedin, in the cold and romantic South Island of New Zealand, but grew up mostly in Auckland, the only city I know that sits on 48 volcanic cones. We lived in leafy suburbia and walked or cycled to the local primary and grammar schools. There was lots of nature stuff – sailing and rowing and fishing and (what Kiwis call) tramping. To grow up in suburbia, then, meant barefoot after-school rampaging through the back hedges and churchyards and empty lots until well after dark. So for an avid reader of myths, legends and adventure stories, there was endless opportunity for the entanglement of
imagination and landscape. Much of this comes out in Caro Was Here.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be an air hostie. I vividly recall wanting to wear lots of aquamarine eye shadow and travel the world serving drinks on elegant trays. At eighteen I wanted to be a doctor and save the world’s children from terrible
disease. At thirty I gave in and became a writer, because story sits at the heart of everything. Story is what I love.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Elizabeth Farrelly

I believed all you need to change the world was the yearning to do it and the belief that you could. Then I worked out it was a little bit harder than that. Just a little bit.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

This is interesting. I see all my nominations are plays. Hmm. TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral affected me profoundly as a teenager, when we studied it at school. I loved the intense play of good and evil, the way the rhythms and imagery resonated with the action, and the sense of a deeply shadowed history. Eliot made me love literature.

When I saw Arthur Miller’s The Crucible performed in London inside the amazing Hawksmoor church at Spitalfields, I wept uncontrollably – hugely uncharacteristic – for an hour. Not because it was sad, but because of the hypocrisy and deceit won over truth, and the way the production realised this conflict inside Hawksmoor’s amazing space, using the cruciform plan to dramatise the tensions.

Shakespeare is kind of obvious but, at school, I didn’t like Shakespeare at all. Yet when I saw King Lear performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican in London, I was moved beyond words. It was that last scene, where Cordelia dies. It all comes home to Lear, just what terrible terrible damage he has done. It is heartbreaking and beautiful.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Anyone who has written one will tell you that writing a novel is less about choosing to write it than losing the fight of resistance! It is so tempting because a novel is the most satisfying form of story. A novel is a world you can inhabit. Even when you’re not actually reading the book, a part of your mind can still dwell there, enjoying the mysteries of place and unexpected twists of character. A novel gives time for change. It allows character to develop, power
relationships to reverse and familiar assumptions to change beyond recognition. A novel takes you on a strange and unexpected journey, like a river-cave ride. It is the ultimate adventure. Novels are cool.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Caro Was Here is a story about naughtiness and freedom, about trust and betrayal, about courage and the cost of courage. I wanted to write a story that captured the magic with which a child sees the world, the real world in particular. I wanted to set the story in Sydney, which I think is breathtakingly beautiful and somewhat under-written, if you’ll forgive the awkward phrase. And I wanted to write an adventure story with a purposeful plot and a girl in the lead; a story where a girl must draw on all her courage and strength and, in the end, intelligence, just to survive.

Grab a copy of Elizabeth’s latest novel Caro Was Here here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope they will be able to imagine Caro’s island birthday so vividly they can smell it. I hope they remember the emotions – the fear, the thrill, the laughter. I hope they love the characters and want to hear more. I hope they pass the book and the story on to friends.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I read crime. I love crime writers that give depth of character, quirky humour, gorgeous sentence structure and a vivid sense of place. So I love James Lee Burke, James Ellroy, Hilary Mantel, Elmore Leonard and Don Winslow. But when it comes to children’s fiction I love things with vivid word rhythm, intense imagery and conflict: Margaret Mahy (The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate), Roald Dahl (The Witches), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) and Banjo Paterson (The Man from Iron Bark).

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My ambition is that each of my books should be better and more satisfying than the one before it.  I want to become a better writer.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I want to write stories and keep on writing stories that people love to read. What could be better?

Elizabeth, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Caro Was Here here


Caro Was Here

by Elizabeth Farrelly

The bestselling novelist of all time.

The world’s most famous detective.

The literary event of the year.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s novels have been sold around the world. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand-new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle sure to baffle and delight both Christie’s fans as well as readers who have not yet read her work. Written with the full backing of Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this new novel is a major event for mystery lovers the world over.

 Grab a copy of Caro Was Here here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Once a Shepherd backstory… by Glenda Millard

In 2005 I was awarded a May Gibbs Fellowship and as a result was given a month’s use of a studio in Adelaide, South Australia. My main objective was to begin work on a new book. Along with that, I agreed to regularly spend time with the grade 5 girls at Seymour College in Adelaide.

Mary Clark was the teacher librarian at Seymour at the time and we communicated for several months before I arrived in Adelaide as to how to best use my time with the students.

What I hoped to do was show the girls in a very practical, hands-on sort of way, how to source a single idea and transform it into a story. It would be a challenge, not only for the students but for me, as I too promised to take part in the exercise.

glenda41I suggested an off campus excursion to a number of different locations around the city of Adelaide, including the Adelaide fresh foods market, a Japanese garden and a St Vincent de Paul charity shop. Mary readily agreed and arranged buses, permission notes from parents and numerous other things required to make the outing possible.

The students were given questionnaires for each location to prompt them to use their observation skills and to encourage them to ask questions. Our aim was to find something that would stimulate our curiosity and then, using a questioning technique I provided and our imaginations, to discover more about it. I hoped that ultimately the chosen article, place or person and the questions we would ask ourselves about them would lead to the framework of a story.

The object I chose was an old military coat at St Vincent de Paul’s. The girls and I, and Mary, all completed our stories over the four weeks I was at Seymour. My story, or course, turned out to be Once a Shepherd.

In the first few drafts, my focus was on where the coat might have come from in a real sense. For example, wool production and the process it goes through to make a garment, from shearing, carding, dying, weaving and then sewing the woven cloth into a garment.once-a-shepherd

However it soon developed into a much more personal story: the love story of Tom and Cherry, the coming of war, the hand-stitched coat, Cherry’s labour of love for her husband, the birth of their baby, the effect of Tom’s bravery and humanity on an unknown, enemy soldier.

I have a great fondness for handmade things. My mother used to make soft toys for my sister and me when we were little girls. I made them for my daughter when she was small and will make others for my first grandchild when it arrives next March. My daughter makes me an apron every year for my birthday. To create a gift for someone, to spend time on it, is significant to both the giver and the receiver, whether it be a garment, a toy, a cake or something else. With each stitch, Cherry put love into the coat she made for Tom and did so again with the toy lamb she made for their child.

I have used a circular technique in the book – beginning and ending with a lamb. There are many symbolic references to the lamb in history and in mythology including purity, innocence and new life. This could also be said of the child in Once a Shepherd.


Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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once-a-shepherdOnce a Shepherd

by Glenda Millard

A story of love and war.

Once there was a shepherd, a very special coat – and hope.

A moving tale that will help grandparents connect personal experiences of war with young children.

About the Author

Glenda Millard was born in the Goldfields region of Central Victoria and has lived in the area all her life. It wasn’t until Glenda’s four children became teenagers that she began to write in her spare time. She has been writing full-time since 1999 and has published several books for children. Her first book with Walker Books Australia, Isabella’s Garden, has been awarded Honour Book in the Picture Book of the Year category in the 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, and has won a Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award, Best Book for Language Development, Lower Primary Category (5-8 years), 2010; and short-listed the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards Children’s Book – Mary Ryan Award, 2010.

Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Adrian d’Hage, author of The Alexandria Connection

dhageI’m a keen reader of non-fiction including authors such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which provided an early warning of the coming environmental crisis; Samuel Huntingdon’s The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order; and The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, including an analysis of hidden Christian texts such as the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, challenging long-held dogma of the place of women in Christ’s circle and throwing a new light on Mary’s relationship with the Christ.

To be honest, I don’t read many thrillers, because I am wary of unwittingly using other authors’ ideas. The Omega Scroll – a lost biblical scroll hidden in the deserts of Qumran for over 2,000 years contains a terrible warning for humankind (much of which appears to be coming to fruition!) had similarities to Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code – but as I hadn’t read Brown, it was coincidental. In a similar vein, I am told that Daniel Silva and I write on remarkably similar themes and even choose similar locations (his The English Girl is part set on Corsica, as is The Alexandria Connection). This too is coincidental – I haven’t read his books although given our similar but separate thoughts, perhaps one day we should meet.the-inca-prophecy

In my novels, I draw on my time in the military (including as Head Defence Planner for Security at the Sydney Olympics) and my degrees in science and theology to address some of the critical issues facing the world today. The Omega Scroll, The Beijing Conspiracy, The Maya Codex, The Inca Prophecy and The Alexandria Connection, whilst set in fast-moving worlds of Curtis O’Connor and the CIA (along with his attractive and highly intelligent archaeologist accomplice, Aleta Weizman), have warnings embedded. Bike chases in the Alps, diving for hidden artefacts in Lake Como in Italy and Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, and perilous journeys into the jungles of the Amazon are just some of the settings for what we face today: biological terrorism and what might happen if the deadly Ebola virus and the more prevalent smallpox virus are combined; the reality of what is happening at the heavy water reactor and the production of the Iranian nuclear bomb; and closure of the Strait of Hormuz cutting off a major maritime oil trade route, to cite just three.

the-alexandria-connectionThe Alexandria Connection was, in part, inspired by my research into The Bilderberg Group. Until relatively recently, little was known about the secretive annual meetings of the world’s wealthiest CEOs, royalty and political elite. The participants are household names: David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Queen Beatrix, Tony Blair, to name but a few who have attended the heavily guarded meetings. Conspiracy theories abound on the real reason for these gatherings, but whatever the purpose of the Bilderbergers, Alexandria’s Pharos Group contains some of the world’s most powerful individuals and their aim is very clear: nothing less than a New World Order. According to Oxfam, 85 people in the world share a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion – equal to the combined wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people. Sheldon Crowley, a member of Pharos and the world’s wealthiest industrialist, controls massive coal mines; an oil multinational that dwarfs Exxon-Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell combined; Brazilian timber mills in the Amazon; and a huge arms conglomerate, from which the latest top secret generation of missiles are mysteriously turning up in Afghanistan. O’Connor is tasked with getting into Afghanistan’s notorious Korengal Valley to find out why. The critical Strait of Hormuz – through which 45% of the world’s maritime oil trade flows from one of the world’s largest oil refineries, Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tenura – is under threat. My research took me into the jungles of the Amazon, where O’Connor has also been tasked with investigating whether or not the missiles are being shipped amongst the timber gained from Crowley’s illegal logging of one of the world’s greatest wildernesses.

My research also took me to the pyramids of Giza and Alexandria where O’Connor’s ‘partner-in-crime’, the acclaimed international archaeologist, Aleta Weizman, is searching for an ancient papyrus. The papyrus, said to be authored by Euclid, the father of geometry, might finally reveal the true purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza and a long forgotten source of energy. But when thieves break into Cairo’s Museum of Antiquities and make off with the priceless mask of Tutankhamun, the threads surrounding the missiles, the mask and the papyrus start to lead back to the Pharos Group, and Aleta’s life and that of O’Connor are placed in very real danger.

I hope this novel is as enjoyable to read as it was to write.


The Alexandria Connectionthe-alexandria-connection

by Adrian d’Hage

A New World Order is upon us . . .

In the shifting desert sands of Egypt, rumours abound of a lost papyrus that will reveal the true purpose of the Pyramids of Giza. Could these ancient monoliths be the source of a new kind of energy, one that comes at no cost to the planet? CIA agent Curtis O’Connor and archaeologist Aleta Weizman are determined to find out.

Close by, a shadowy and powerful group known as Pharos meets in Alexandria, its membership a closely guarded secret. Its first order of business: to orchestrate chaos on international financial markets with a series of spectacular terrorist attacks on the world’s fossil-fuel supplies.

And in Cairo, amid the anarchy of Tahrir Square, thieves have broken into the famed Museum of Antiquities and stolen one of the world’s priceless artifacts: the mask of Tutankhamun. Is the audacious theft linked to the Pharos Group?

Nimbly weaving politics, history and science through a rip-roaring plot, from Afghanistan to Washington, Sydney to London, The Alexandria Connection is a spectacular and stylish ride.

About the Author

Adrian d’Hagé was educated at North Sydney Boys High School and the Royal Military College Duntroon (Applied Science). Graduating into the Intelligence Corps, he served as a platoon commander in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Military Cross. His military service included command of an infantry battalion, director of joint operations and head of defence public relations. In 1994 Adrian was made a Member of the Order of Australia. In his last appointment, he headed defence planning for counter terrorism security for the Sydney Olympics, including security against chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

Adrian holds an honours degree in theology, entering as a committed Christian but graduating ‘with no fixed religion’. In 2009 he completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Dean’s Award) in oenology or wine chemistry at Charles Sturt University, and he has successfully sat the Austrian Government exams for ski instructor, ‘Schilehrer Anwärter’. He is presently a research scholar, tutor and part-time lecturer at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (Middle East and Central Asia) at ANU. His doctorate is entitled ‘The Influence of Religion on US Foreign Policy in the Middle East’.

Grab a copy of The Alexandria Connection here

Nine Naughty Questions with… Jennifer St George, author of Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon.

tempted-by-the-billionaire-tycoonThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

 Jennifer St George

author of Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.

I suppose they could be both, but I was certainly a romance writer that was made. Before taking up a creative pen, I spent twenty years in corporate marketing and management consulting roles.  Some career highlights include launching Guinness beer in Russia; reaching 40 million people through a publicity campaign that ‘gave away’ a pub in Ireland and launching the Ford Ka brand in Australia. It took determination and hard work to transform from a business executive to a published romance author. Having said that, I’d always loved reading and books, which is a good start for any writer.

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

I don’t know about exposed, but I do become quite emotional while writing my stories.  Often while drafting the ‘black moment’, when all seems lost, I’m crying my eyes out. Other times I feel completely exhausted after writing a scene. I put my characters through hell and I can’t help feeling their pain (and their joy of course!)

00000069873. Please tell us about your latest novel…

A series of strange accidents are occurring at Sirona, a luxury spa resort in the picturesque English countryside. Billionaire owner Nic Capitini wants the person responsible sacked. But the law requires he give three official warnings. Nic checks in undercover to gather the evidence he needs, and when he arrives to find his general manager, Poppy Bradford enjoying the spa’s facilities, he doesn’t think it will prove very challenging.

But, it isn’t long before Nic realises that not only is Poppy beautiful, she’s a brilliant manager and the chemistry between them is undeniable. When Poppy herself is threatened, it seems clear the incidents are part of a systematic campaign of sabotage. Even though he believes she’s innocent, Nic knows Poppy is hiding something. But will learning her secret mean losing her forever?

Grab a copy of Jennifers’s novel Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon here

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

I like to think so. I knew I was up for a lifetime of romance when my now husband flew across the world (I lived in London, he lived in Brisbane) to declare his undying love after only knowing me for three weeks.

Everyday romance-writing life however, it a lot of hard work and copious amounts of coffee! But, I do try to visit the locations I set my stories. Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon (my latest story) is set in Paris, Versailles and the Lake District (UK). I travelled to all these places to ensure I captured the essence of each location. A nice job perk!

the-billionaire-s-pursuit-of-love5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

My husband’s international dash outlined above is pretty hard to top, so yes, my heroes have to work pretty hard as I have very high romantic standards.

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

I write sexy category romance stories in glamorous international settings, so sex is a vital ingredient in all my novels. But, I think building the sexual tension in the story is critical to delivering an emotional and engaging read.

isbn97818440803807. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

1. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
2. Pride and Prejudice –  Jane Austen (I recently visited her house in Hampshire where she wrote the book…fascinating)
3, 4 and 5. Anything by category romance authors, Kelly Hunter, Rachel Bailey and Amy Andrews (I could go on and on and on)

8. Erotic Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

I have to admit it is not really a genre I read, but I suspect it is a great way to escape into a fantasy world that whips reader away from the every day. There’s something pretty exciting about having a hot werewolf imprint on you or a vampire bite you so you live forever!

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read and learn (and never stop) and write, write, write.

Once I decided I wanted to be a romance writer, I voraciously read the types of books I wanted to write.  I wanted to understand readers’ expectations. I travelled all over Australia to attend the best romance writing courses and I didn’t let rejection stop me. I kept writing until I got that call.  Also, I’d recommend joining Romance Writers of Australia…it will save you years of wandering around in the romance-writing wilderness!

Thanks for joining us Jennifer!


tempted-by-the-billionaire-tycoonTempted by the Billionaire Tycoon

by Jennifer St George

The latest sexy international romance from the bestselling author of The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love.

Three strikes and you’re out…

A series of strange accidents are occurring at Sirona, a luxury spa resort in the picturesque English countryside. Billionaire owner Nic Capitini wants the person responsible sacked. But the law requires he give three official warnings. Nic checks in undercover to gather the evidence he needs, and when he arrives to find his general manager enjoying the spa’s facilities, he doesn’t think it will prove very challenging.

Despite first impressions, it isn’t long before Nic realises that not only is Poppy Bradford beautiful, she’s a brilliant manager who runs the resort superbly. And the chemistry between them is undeniable. When Poppy herself is threatened, it seems clear the incidents are part of a systematic campaign of sabotage. Even though he believes she’s innocent, Nic knows Poppy is hiding something. But will learning her secret mean losing her forever?

Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon is part of the Billionaire series by Jennifer St George, but can certainly be enjoyed as a stand-alone book.

Grab a copy of Jennifers’s novel Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Books that have inspired me…. by Andrew Cranna, author of The Bloodhound Boys series

Author: Andrew Cranna

Author: Andrew Cranna

There have been many books that have inspired me to become an author/illustrator and compiling a list of just ten books was veeeeery difficult. Being a children’s writer, it’s children’s books that I’ve always enjoyed and found comfort in. Being a fairly reluctant reader as a child, I was always searching for books that combined expressive text with eye-catching illustrations. My love of children’s books has never waned and I still enjoy browsing through picture books and children’s literature as it always seems to transport me back to my happy childhood.

So here are 10 of my personal favourites. I’ve grown up with many of these titles while some I’ve only discovered in recent years … but all I love. Each book in its own way has contributed to my writing and drawing style.


1) The Muddleheaded Wombat by Ruth Park and illustrated by Noela Young9780732284374

One of my earliest memories is drooling over the pages of The Muddleheaded Wombat. The illustrations in the book would always astound me as a child and I would often wonder how Noela Young could possibly sketch such realistically magical images. I would carry this book with me everywhere I went and spend most weekends trying to copy Noela’s The Muddleheaded Wombat the best I could. I believe it’s this book that sparked my love of children’s books in the very beginning. I now have the great pleasure of working alongside Noela Young, illustrating stories for The School Magazine.

 


a-fish-out-of-water2) A Fish out of Water by Helen Palmer and illustrated by P.D. Eastman

A Fish out of Water is about a fish named Otto that’s fed too much and grows ridiculously out of control … and keeps growing! The story is based on a short tale by Helen Palmer’s husband, Dr Seuss. It’s classic storytelling, decorated with dazzling illustration work. I was always super-duper careful not to feed my pet goldfish too much fish food after reading this book.


3) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendakwhere-the-wild-things-are

From the moment I read Where the Wild Things Are, I wanted to be Max … the dreamer, the adventurer all dressed up in his animal onesie. The way Sendak transforms Max’s bedroom into a wilderness filled with strange and fascinating creatures is remarkable.


4. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. Illustrated by Quentin Blake9780141350370

As a child, I thought poetry was boring until I discovered Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Revolting Rhymes is Dahl’s take on traditional nursery rhymes through twisted sarcasm and juicy humour. Quentin Blake’s sketchy illustration style complements this collection of dark poetry perfectly. The drawing of the Big Bad Wolf after he devoured two of the little pigs is a personal fave.


5. Gorga, the Space Monster – Choose Your Own Adventure by Edward Packard and illustrated by Paul Granger

Although many teachers from the 1980s may disagree, Choose Your Own Adventure books were viewed as quality AND essential reading by the kids of that generation. They were fun, easy to read, had cracking illustrations and gave the reader the power to choose how the story would end up. I remember trying to collect as many from the series as possible, and … I would always cheat. I’d read the endings first and work my way back … but at least I was reading! My favourite Choose Your Own Adventure book was Gorga, the Space Monster. Gorga was a cute and cuddly purple alien. But watch out … choose the wrong path and Gorga could accidently devour you in one breath! It was awesome!


97814052062806. Tintin – Explorers on the Moon By Herge

I guess people are either Asterix or Tintin fans. I’m definitely the latter. The Tintin series has been a phenomenal success over the years and the books have always been popular in the schools that I’ve attended as a student and now a teacher. Tintin books have timeless appeal with each page exploding with good old-fashioned action. The stories usually involve some kind of mystery that sends Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy the Dog off to every corner of the globe. These iconic characters constantly erupt with personality and flare and always seemed to be involved in a high speed car/plane/boat/motorcycle chase. Explorers on the Moon was the most enjoyable read for me from the series.


the-lost-thing7. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

I’m always amazed by the incredible creativity and imagination of Shaun Tan. His wonderfully strange stories are always complemented with just as unusual, but always breathtaking artwork. The Lost Thing picture book was later transformed into an animated short film, which won Shaun Tan an Academy Award. Each year at my school, I always make a point of showing every new class The Lost Thing film … it’s magical!


8) My Place by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Donna Rawlinsmy-place

My Place is a very special book and one of its creators has played a very important role in my life. Not only is My Place one of the great Australian picture books about the nation’s ever changing landscape, but it is also one that changed my artistic landscape forever. In 2012, illustrator Donna Rawlins visited my school to talk about My Place (I’m a primary school art teacher). Donna spied some of my drawings hanging around the school. She took a fancy to one of them and asked me to meet with her colleagues at Walker Books Australia. From this meeting, The Bloodhound Boys was born and so was my career as a children’s author/illustrator. Whenever I see My Place in the library or being read by a student, I always think of Donna and this very special day. Thanks Donna!


the-dangerous-alphabet9. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly

The book’s blurb: “Two children, treasure map in hand, and their pet gazelle sneak past their father, out of the house, and into a world beneath the city, where monsters and pirates roam. Will they find treasure? Will they make it out alive?” A mixture of horror and spelling, The Dangerous Alphabet is lots of fun spooky fun, written by the mysterious Neil Gaiman and illustrated by the just as mysterious Gris Grimly. Both author and illustrator specialise in creepiness. Older primary school-aged kids would love this.


And a book I’m itching the read …

10. Hug Machine by Scott Campbellhug-machine

Scott Campbell’s new children’s book about ‘hugs’ looks fantastic. I’ve always been a huge fan of Campbell’s originality and humorous illustration work. The book trailer for Hug Machine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyRmZDyKPQU) is brilliant. If the book is anything like the trailer, Hug Machine should prove to be very popular.


the-monster-truck-tremor-dilemmaThe Monster Truck Tremor Dilemma (The Bloodhound Boys Series)

by Andrew Cranna

Deep under the Earth’s crust, Skull River City is experiencing unexplained earthquakes AND impending doom. But Rocky and Vince have a challenge of their own – competing in the Monster Truck Grand Prix. A roller-coaster ride full of twists and turns, this lethal race will lead the Bloodhound Boys way off track. Will these undead friends be able to follow the signs back home in time to stop the earthquakes?

About the Author

Andrew Cranna is an artist, educator and author who is currently based in Sydney NSW. Andrew’s cartoons and illustrations are loved by young people across the country and appear regularly in the pages of The School Magazine.

Grab a copy of The Monster Trick Tremor Dilemma here

 

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: “Where do you get your ideas?” by Scott Westerfeld, author of Afterworlds

scottw

Author: Scott Westerfeld

The question that writers most hate is the perennial, “Where do you get your ideas?”

We could just answer, “from everywhere,” but even that isn’t big enough to cover it. When deep in the writing process, holding a hundred thousand words in our heads, writers hover half in this world and half in the world of the novel. The edges blur, and ideas roam freely back and forth. Not only do the events in real life influence the story, but the reverse happens too—the travails of those characters leak out to infuse reality around us.

I wanted to capture some of that dual state in Afterworlds. The odd-numbered chapters of the book are the story of Darcy, a young writer reworking her first novel under the looming pressure of a high-paying book contract. Having just moved out of her parents’ home, she has to balance the practicalities of living on her own with the allure of her shiny new membership in the community of YA authors, all while charging headlong into her first serious love affair. At the same time, Darcy is rewriting her novel from the ground up, applying the lessons of her new adulthood to the draft she wrote as a callow high school student.

The even-numbered chapters are the text of Darcy’s novel, a story about another young girl caught between worlds. On her way home from a visit to her estranged father, Lizzie Scofield is caught up in a terrorist attack at an airport. She plays dead to escape the gunmen, but she plays too well. From that moment on she can see ghosts, like the eleven-year-old Mindy haunting her mother’s home. As Lizzie unravels the mystery of Mindy’s death, she faces the secrets of her own family as well.

Both of these young women are in the process of transformation, and both have the power to transform the other. Darcy the writer, of course, holds Lizzie’s fate in her hands. But Lizzie the character is also the key to Darcy’s future, because Darcy’s publisher wants a happy ending, not the tragic finale of her first draft.

Each story not only influences the other, but also holds the secret of its salvation. That’s how us writers live, half in real life and half in our fictional worlds. Half finished and half rewritten, we are all made of drafts.


Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a featured title in Penguin’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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afterworlds

Afterworlds

by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld is renowned in the YA fiction market, this is a perfect blend of contemporary love story and fantastical thriller.

Darcy has secured a publishing deal for her three paranormal books. Now she must find the wherewithall to write the second one whilst she has a reprieve from going to college, thanks to her savvy sister. She has enough funds for 3 years in NY… if she eats only noodles every day.

In the story Darcy has written, the character Lizzie survives a traumatic shooting event only to discover that she has become a phsychopomp; a spirit guide to the dead. But she’s not dead.. or is she? With one foot in each world, Lizzie’s challenges are somewhat unique. Then there’s her hot spirit guide… and all those ghosts that keep appearing… and the ‘living’ friend she usually tells everything to…

More than all I’d seen and heard. It was coming back to life that made me believe in the afterworld.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a featured title in Penguin’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Five Standout Dicks – A Tribute to Philip K. Dick (by David Henley)

Henley_David-300x300If you ever tried the Dick challenge and attempted to read all of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction works, after a while you may have felt, as I did, that all those strange worlds and characters seemed to blend together and it is hard to remember what happens in each book.
 
For me, as a Dick lover, I don’t mind this and think it was maybe intentional on the part of the author. He was interested in exploring ideas, not world building. Dick loved having an Everyman protagonist and wasn’t afraid to shift to new protagonists if the story made it necessary. Dick is it’s own oeuvre which explores the questions of what it is to be human, what is reality and surveillance society.
 
If you suffer from Dick-blindness, either from too much Dick or you’re looking for your first and they all look the same, I’ve chosen 5 Dicks that stand-out from the rest.

the-man-in-the-high-castleMan in the High Castle

You’ve got to read The Man in the High Castle. This one is really well known and won some famous award. It’s main schtick is the premise that in WW2, Germany and Japan won the war and co-occupy the USA. What more do I need to say?

counter-clock-worldCounter-clock World

The premise for this one is that cause and effect has started moving in reverse, ie as people get older their bodies get younger and going to the toilet is eating, and eating is regurgitation. Gross! But, it also means that the dead are coming back to life and the story follows this group of grave-robbers, who are actually rescuing reanimated corpses. When they come upon a reborn prophet, the fun begins.

do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Yeah, you know the film, the dystopian, over-populated mega city, always raining, hunting down human like androids called replicants. The book is different. It still has the replicants but the main story is about Deckard, his wife and the post apocalyptic environmental crisis that has nearly wiped out all animal life on the planet. It’s a totally different story from them film with a completely different focus, and I find reading the book makes me like the film more and vice-versa.

a-scanner-darklyScanner Darkly

This is a paranoid acid trip of a book. Apparently inspired by some of Dick’s friends who had walked too far down the path of intoxication, combined with Dick’s usual fears of the surveillance state. The main character is an undercover narcotics agent who begins video surveilling the very group he has infiltrated, and is so whacked out he can barely remember which of the suspects is him.

valisValis Trilogy, (Valis The Devine Invasion. Transmigration of Timothy Archer)

This is where shit gets weird. Dick had a real life experience/hallucination where he saw some pink light that revealed the true nature of reality to him. In this trilogy people are trying to break through the false world that we all experience, either helped or hindered by a mysterious and hypothetical Vast Active Living Intelligence System, thus the name Valis.

Every year I like to celebrate Dick Day, on December 16th. Take the day off and read a Dick.

David Henley worked in Australian trade publishing for many years; for the last 10 years he has been growing Xou Creative, a successful design and publishing studio. He has written and illustrated two novellas and one gift book, and is the art director of SEIZURE, a magazine for new writing. David lives on a diet of science fiction – particularly Stanislaw Lem, Masamune Shirow, Philip K Dick, Orson Scott Card – and fantasy, including comics, manga, anime.

manifestationsManifestations

by David M. Henley

The Weave is left reeling after an explosion devastates the city of Busan. Who is behind it? What does it mean for the psis?

Pete Lazarus has been taken captive and Colonel Pinter is discovering the joys of rejuvenation, while the most powerful telepath ever born marches steadily towards world domination, collecting subservient Citizens in his wake.

In this second installment in the trilogy, following on from The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, David Henley immerses us into a world of ambiguity where the end does not always justify the means.

Grab a copy of Manifestations here

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