Amy Ewing, author of The Jewel, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Amy Ewing

author of The Jewel

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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 Boston, MA, and raised in a small town called Norwood, just outside Boston. I moved to New York City in 2000 to study theatre at New York University. My acting career didn’t quite pan out, and I ended up going back to school in 2010, this time to The New School, where I received a master’s degree in Writing for Children.

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

An actor, an actor, and a writer. I loved performing—I did all the high school plays, and as I said before, I studied theatre in college. I was very shy as a child, and acting helped bring me out of my shell. Writing was always something I did just for me, and I never thought about pursuing it as a career until later in life. I’m certainly glad I did!

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

Author: Amy Ewing

I’m not sure if it was eighteen exactly, but when I was younger I remember thinking that I absolutely had to be married by the time I was thirty. I had this whole idea of what made a “happy” life. At thirty two and single, I’m must say, I’m pretty content with my life just as it is. External factors, like marriage, don’t guarantee happiness.

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?

My first literary love was Roald Dahl. I devoured his books as a child and I loved the darkness in them. When I was eighteen, I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which made me fall head over heels for high fantasy. And, since acting has truly influenced my writing so much, I’ll say Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a play by Steve Martin. There was a monologue in that play that I loved to read over and over again, about art and freedom and what it means to be a woman. It was the monologue that I performed for my NYU audition.

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

Well, I’ve certainly tried many different creative endeavors! Acting, obviously, and I also play guitar and write my own songs. But in the end, I think what drew me to writing books was how all you need is a pen, paper, and your imagination. It’s something that can absolutely be done on your own.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Jewel is my debut novel. It’s about a city where young girls are auctioned off as surrogates to royal women who can no longer have children on their own. It’s a world of opulence and cruelty, where surrogates are mistreated, humiliated, and even killed. It explores the idea of choice, and having the freedom to decide what happens to you. And there are some cute boys too :)

Grab a copy of Amy’s debut novel The Jewel here

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

I certainly hope they will think about the importance of having ownership over your own body. That’s an issue I’m deeply passionate about. And I hope they enjoy living in this darkly glamorous world as much as I do.

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

Writing a series, I have to give J.K. Rowling all the credit for writing seven, incredibly well-conceived, planned, thought-out books. It’s much harder than I thought, writing a trilogy, and I thought it was going to be hard. I also can’t imagine my life without Harry Potter—there is so much love in those books, and every time I read one, I feel myself slipping away into a world I adore living in.

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

My goal was to publish a book, so that got achieved! And now my goal is, quite simply, to keep writing more books. That’s the only part of this process that I can actually control. So that’s what I try to focus on. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t give up! This whole publishing thing is really hard, and takes time, and involves a lot of rejection. I failed spectacularly with my first book. Keep writing. Keep pushing through. It’s worth it in the end.

Amy, thank you for playing.


Amy Ewing’s The Jewel is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

Booktoberfest - Rotating HomePage Banner 770x200 - FINAL

the-jewelThe Jewel

by Amy Ewing

This is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing. The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess.

Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.

It will appeal to fans of dystopian, dark romance, stepping beyond the paranormal craze. It is perfect for fans of Allie Condie and The Hunger Games. It is a debut novel from a radical new voice in YA.

It is the first book in The Lone City trilogy.

Amy Ewing’s The Jewel is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

Booktoberfest - Rotating HomePage Banner 770x200 - FINAL

Ananda Braxton-Smith, author of Plenty, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Ananda Braxton-Smith

author of Plenty, Merrow and many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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 Lichfield, a town in the English midlands, in 1961. It was the year the Berlin Wall went up, and the year poor old Ham the chimp was sent into space. The Wall came down the year my oldest son was born. That’s a neat kind of circle, I think.

My family came to Oz when I was three and I grew up in Perth. I went to Hollywood High School, which wasn’t at all how it sounds. There was a cemetery across the road.

I left school at fifteen! And then I left Perth and came to the eastern states.

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

At seven I wanted to be a hippy. They arrived in the streets of Perth like velvet flowers, or gypsies. They were against wars, and they sang songs and had bare feet. A child’s dream.

At twelve I wanted to be an actor, just for a minute. My mum is an actor. But when I tried it I didn’t like it. Everybody looks at you. But I did love the theatre and still do.

At eighteen I wanted to be a writer.

At thirty I wanted to be a writer.

Now I’m fifty-three and I want to be a palaeontologist. I think it might be too late. I’ll just have to be a writer.

Author: Ananda Braxton-Smith

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

At eighteen I believed discipline was a sort of punishment. Now I think learning to be self-disciplined is the road to happiness. But the truth is most of what I believed then, I believe now. Only more so.

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?

There wasn’t one particular piece of art that inspired me. My childhood was full of books, music, theatre and art so I was always stimulated in that direction. But when I was young I had a pash on T.H. White’s novel Once & Future King, and Gerald Durrell’s memoir My Family & Other Animals. I read them over and over. Also Alice In Wonderland and the Narnia books.

When I was in my twenties I was in love with so many writers for so many reasons. I wanted to write like Dickens and Virginia Woolf and Hunter S Thompson all at once. (And I think I might have, which might explain a lot of things.)

These days I’ve got a bit of a story-crush on Barbara Kingsolver (just for her Poisonwood Bible really), a word-crush on Annie Proulx (for The Shipping News), and am at this very moment busy adoring the writers of the 50s who were writing out of the southern states of the USA. Writers like Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty. And of course, William Faulkner.

As for music, since I started singing I find much inspiration in the lyrics of wacky old folk songs. They are so spooky, so sad, so funny, and in so few words.

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

I didn’t really have any number of avenues open to me. I’m not great at visual art though I enjoy it and do it for fun and to work out my novels, and I love music but had no motivation in that direction in my younger days. Now I sing with a bluegrass band called the HillWilliams.

I write because that’s the art form I was drawn to, and the one that keeps me engaged. My strongest responses were always to books and theatre. Language fascinates me. It always seems to be talking about something more than its words and phrases express. I have days when everything that comes out of people’s mouths sounds like poetry.

It’s a very personal and sort of inexplicable relationship I have to words. I have written almost every day of my life since my early teens, mostly short stories and poems. But I loved writing that history book so much and the chance to try a novel was irresistible.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Plenty is for ten- to twelve-year-olds, but I think adults will like it too. It’s a contemporary realist fiction, set in and around Melbourne. My other books have centred around the medieval world so this was a whole new thing for me. I’ve really enjoyed not having to do quite so much research before I can write one sensible sentence!

It concerns Maddy Frank who has always lived in the same house, in the same street in Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne. On Maddy’s tenth birthday her parents tell her they are moving, and then they do so. They move out to the Plenty Valley where Maddy has to start at a new school and do without her lifelong best friend. Her anger and homesickness is intense, until two people she meets help her begin to forgive her parents and settle into her new home. One is her grandmother, Nana Mad, and the other is her new desk-mate, Grace Wek who was born in a refugee camp. Both have stories of leaving home and resettlement to tell. Through their stories Maddy learns more about who she is and where she comes from, what resilient people are and what she herself is capable of. She also learns the reason parents make their children move.

Grab a copy of Ananda’s latest novel Plenty here

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

I hope they will recognise their own attachment to their homes, and will wonder to themselves how they would respond to being displaced from it. I hope they will be moved by the courage in the resettlement stories. But most I hope they’ll enjoy Maddy Frank, and her family and friends. I did.

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

I admire writers who write about hard things without sinking into sentimentality or mere pity. I think I admire writers for the same reasons I admire anyone —courage, emotional honesty, warm hearts. I loved Night by Eli Wiesel for that reason.

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

I think writers suffer from the same desire as theoretical physicists. Physicists want to discover the Theory of Everything, and writers want to write the Book about Everything. I share that impossible goal. A story that contains everything about human life; about what it’s like to be alive and conscious right now, right here, but with all of history contained in it too. Everything.

It’s too big, of course. But there it is.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read. Read. Read.

It’s the only advice worth anything, I reckon. It’s almost more important than writing, at first. If you read widely and with passion you will develop an ear for good writing, which means you’ll sense when the work is going bung. You will build up a useful word-hoard, which means when you come to tell your own stories you’ll have a sizable tool-kit. And eventually you’ll learn to recognise the centuries-old conversations writers have engaged in, and maybe even join in. And that’s when it gets really interesting.

And second: love the doing. If you don’t love it, why bother? Art is not compulsory.

Ananda, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Plenty here


Plenty

by Ananda Braxton-Smith

A place to call home.

Maddy Frank has always lived in Jermyn Street. Always. But now her mum and dad are making her move from the city, far away to some place called Plenty. How will Maddy survive without everything and everyone she knows? Nobody understands. But what about her mysterious new classmate, Grace Wek, who was born in a refugee camp? Could Grace actually understand how Maddy feels?

 

 Grab a copy of Plenty here

P.J. Tierney, author of the Jamie Reign series, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

P.J. Tierney

author of Jamie Reign & Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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 Wollongong, was raised and went to school in the Blue Mountains, firstly at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, then St Columba’s High School and finally McCarthy Catholic Senior High; are you sensing a theme here? I must have epitomized catholic schoolgirl-hood because I was school captain – twice.

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

At twelve I wanted to be Nicole Kidman in BMX Bandits, at eighteen, Nicole Kidman in Vietnam. By thirty I’d come to terms with the fact I would never be a statuesque, elegant, red head and went in search of my own story.

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

At eighteen I thought I had a shot at marrying Tom Cruise, (see above) twenty years on I think I can safely say I dodged a bullet there. Although that’s not to say I would rule out a date or possibly even two, if – you know – the opportunity ever presented itself.

So what have I learnt in twenty years? Not much.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

There were three moments in my early career that made me realize I had a story, a really good story.

The first moment was on the set of The Matrix, where I watched the legendary fight director Wu Ping turn Keanu Reeves into a kung fu master. What I saw from Wu Ping and his stunt team was beyond physical it was mystical, and I was in awe.

The second such moment was thanks to Jackie Chan. I met him in Asia where he is revered as a god. It was when I really thought about what makes him so beloved that I stumbled upon the theme that runs through the Jamie Reign series; it is what makes us different that makes us powerful.

The third moment was in Hong Kong where I was working on the 1997 handover celebrations. We spent months on the barges and tugs of Victoria Harbour, going to the bays and villages that people who look like me rarely get to see. It was there I began to hear the stories of a young Eurasian boy who had been abandoned by his Chinese mother and left to the alcohol-fueled rages of his English father. He had been denied school and had to work; salvaging boats, diving for wrecks and outrunning typhoons. I had already fallen for the man that boy grew up to be, now I fell in love with his stories as well.

The first chapter of the Jamie Reign series is very much my James’ childhood but from there it is a kung fu adventure with deference to both Wu Ping and Jackie Chan.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

First and foremost, I wrote a story. It’s a story I love that I hope others love too.  With all the options available is a book the best medium for Jamie Reign? Absolutely. Jamie’s story is more than a kung fu adventure, it is a study of a young boy learning he is capable of much more than he ever dared imagine. It is an intimate story that invites the reader into Jamie’s hopes, his fears and his dreams. I am an avid consumer of popular culture and for me the most intimate stories are ones that read, so Jamie’s story had to be a book.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Jamie Reign; The Hidden Dragon is the second book in the Jamie Reign Series. The first book, Jamie Reign; The Last Spirit Warrior delves into the secret legends of the Spirit Warrior, elite fighters who can heal with their own life-force.

In The Hidden Dragon, Jamie returns to the kung fu academy a hero but he is carrying a terrible secret, one that threatens everything and everyone he holds dear.

Grab a copy of Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon here

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

That even the least likely of us is special.

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

My admiration is divided in equal measure between Lisa Berryman and Nicola O’Shea; publisher and editor respectively, for not beating me senseless for my continued misuse of the English language.

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

Infamy. Although some days my most ambitious goal is to feed my children a meal that hasn’t been delivered in a cardboard box.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Keep your day job. I don’t mean to be flippant, or cruel but my publishing adventures so far have taught me that this is a business, and like all start-ups you have to be prepared to invest in yourself. For me it was a mentorship with Kathryn Heyman, attending writing conferences and a having a social media strategy; none of which came cheaply. However it was having this money set aside so I could seize opportunities when they came up that made the difference between being a writer and becoming an author.

P.J., thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon here


Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon

by P.J. Tierney

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 Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon here

Did J.K. Rowling just announce a new Harry Potter novel?

J.K. Rowling sent twitter into a spin last night with a series of cryptic tweets that hinted at her writing a new novel, then hinting that it might be a new Harry Potter novel, followed by millions of fans hinting that they were very very excited.

It started when Rowling sent this tweet:

Rowling Tweet 1

Which led inevitably to tweets like this:

Rowling Tweet 2

We believe OMFG is an anagram for Oh My (it) Feels Good.

And tweets like that led to tweets like this from J.K. Rowling:

Rowling Tweet 3

Which led to Jo not working at all, but posting this riddle:

Rowling Tweet 4

Which led to some very quick fans coming up with this message:

Rowling Tweet 5

Which led to many of us doing this:

tumblr_inline_mwmskd4U791s8pyhu

So where does that leave us?

A long way from confirmed, but it looks more and more likely that we’ll be seeing a new Harry Potter novel, sooner rather than later.

Yep, we’re calling it.

Kind of.

But for now, have you seen the new editions of Harry Potter? They’re very pretty. Click here to check them out.

Harry Potter

K.A. Barker, author of The Book of Days, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

K.A. Barker

author of The Book of Days

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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

This feels very Dickensian: “To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born on a Wednesday, at eleven o’clock in the morning”. I grew up in Brisbane, left for almost a year to try living in places where it actually snowed, and am now back again to enjoy its two-day winters and its mosquitos.

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

When I was twelve, I was deep in the grip of disaster movie mania. I wanted to be a smart-mouthed, always right, looks-good-when-running-away-from-danger vulcanologist/seismologist/archaeologist.

At eighteen I wanted to be a writer. So I could write smart-mouthed vulcanologists.

I haven’t reached thirty yet, but when it comes around we’ll see if I still enjoy this writing lark.

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

Author: K.A. Barker

I was certain that at twenty-six I would have found Prince Charming, had a couple of adorable children, and been at the peak of my career.  Not so much.

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?

Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson and the other great classic adventure stories. There was always a deplorable lack of girls. Wanting to remedy this led me to first become interested in writing.

It sounds silly, but I had a maze book as a kid that had the most fantastical illustrations. I used to want to write about all the settings – lost temple, islands connected by bridges, a burrow filled with cosy rooms.

The soundtrack to the 2002 The Time Machine movie. I think most writers like to write while listening to music, and this soundtrack got me through three drafts of The Book of Days.

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

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to telling stories. Believe me, if there was an avenue for selling abandoned stories written on post-it notes, I’d be rich. As there isn’t, I turned to the next best thing: novel-writing.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Book of Days is about a girl who:
a) wakes up with no memory of who she is and
b) finds out that a bunch of not-very-nice people are trying to kill her.

It’s a little steampunk, a little adventure, and hopefully a lot of fun.

Grab a copy of K.A. Barker’s novel The Book of Days here

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

I hope that they come away from it having enjoyed the ride, and hopefully wanting more!

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

I admire a lot of speculative fiction writers who create their own worlds: Tolkien, Martin, McKinley.  World building is a passion of mine, but it’s only since I started writing The Book of Days that I realised just how difficult it can be.

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

To take over the world and move to Mars.  Maybe a tad too ambitious, but realistically I’d like to be able to write full-time.  

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

It may be clichéd, but never give up.  The best writers don’t necessarily get published.  The ones that do have talent, perseverance, a little luck, and far too much stubbornness for their own good.

Kirilee, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Book of Days here


The Book of Days

by K.A. Barker

Most people believe the best way to forget someone is to throw them down a well. Or lock them in a room with eight keys, or bury them at a crossroad in the thirteenth hour. But they’re wrong. The best way to forget someone is for them never to have existed in the first place.

Madame Marisol’s Unreality House was where you brought people to make that happen.

When Tuesday wakes from sleep for the first time when she is sixteen, she opens her eyes to a world filled with wonder – and peril. Left with only a letter from the person she once was, Tuesday sets out to discover her past with the help of her charming and self-serving guide, Quintalion. Along the way she runs into a one-legged mercenary, flying cities, airships, and a blind librarian. But danger shadows her every move. The leader of the merciless daybreakers is hunting her, convinced that she killed the only woman he ever loved. Tuesday will need all her wits to survive long enough to find out who she is and her connection with the mysterious Book of Days: a book that holds untold power…

 Grab a copy of The Book of Days here

And the winners of the Big Little Lies Girls Night In prize packs are…

During July we gave you the chance to win 1 of 3 Girls Night In prize packs which not only included books but chocolates and a blanket. 

All you needed to do to enter was buy Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty!

And the lucky winners are…

S.Costin, Limpinwood, NSW

R.Davino, Merrylands, NSW

B.Hill, Cheltenham, NSW

BigLittleLiesNewsletterBanner

big-little-liesBig Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’
‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead.

Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate. The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

‘Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.’

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

The winner of the signed Frank Lampard Jersey and books is…

During the Football World Cup we gave you a chance to win a Chelsea Jersey signed by football royalty Frank Lampard.

All you needed to do to enter was buy a book from the Frankie’s Magic Football series!

And the lucky winner is…

T.Baer, New Norfolk, TAS

franklamaprd

frankie-and-the-world-cup-carnival

FRANKIE AND THE WORLD CUP CARNIVAL : BOOK 6
by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his friends and their dog, Max, are magic-ed to Brazil where they must track down three key items to help England win the World Cup: the referee’s whistle, a football and the trophy. Their adventures take them through a jungle, a Rio carnival and onto the beach for a game that could change the history of the tournament.

 

Grab a book from the series here


Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,134 other followers

%d bloggers like this: