5 Must See Events at the 2015 Sydney Jewish Writers Festival

SWF

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: In Conversation with Jennifer Teege

avatar.jpg.320x320pxAccidentally discovering she was the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List, shook German-Nigerian author Jennifer Teege to the core.

Grappling with the haunted past of a perpetrator, the secrets and denial, she embarked on an extraordinary journey of soul-searching to Poland and Israel. She shares her astounding true story and eventual ‘liberation’.

Sunday, August 30 • 5:45pm – 6:45pm

Main Hall (Waverley Library, Bondi Junction)

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TV espionage: In Conversation with the creator of Homeland, Prisoners of War & Dig

avatar.jpg.320x320px (1)Gideon Raff wowed audiences worldwide with the gripping and gritty realism of his acclaimed series, the Israeli Prisoners of War (Hatufim) and US adaptation Homeland.

As art eerily imitated life, millions of viewers were confronted for the first time with a messy, brutal and honest representation of the Middle East and America’s war on terror. He brought Israel to mainstream television again with his recent production, Dig. He shares his insights and the story behind his success.

Sunday, August 30 • 3:15pm – 4:15pm

Main Hall (Waverley Library, Bondi Junction)

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I love a complex country: Views on Israel

avatar.jpg.320x320px (4)Israel excites, inspires, and vexes. As their hearts beat for Israel, Gideon Raff, Jennifer Teege and one of the world’s foremost experts on Hebrew and Israeli literature Dr Dvir Abramovich, offer their unique vantage points of a country filled with love and loss.

Their distinctive journeys take us over the noise of start-ups, felafel and conflict, to illuminate Israel’s complexities. Three writers reflect on ‘her beauty and her terror’ of a country that stirs our soul.

Saturday, August 29 • 8:30pm – 10:00pm

Main Hall (Waverley Library, Bondi Junction)

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The silence of injustice

avatar.jpg.320x320px (3)In Iran, a doctor is considered a criminal for saving lives, and a woman who falls in love is breaking the rules. In Australia, a young Somali man is incarcerated for a terrible crime he did not commit. What hope is there in the face of such prejudice?

Award-winning writers Dr Kooshyar Karimi and Julie Szego discuss how the power of culture and the perils of silence perpetuate injustice.

Sunday, August 30 • 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Main Hall (Waverley Library, Bondi Junction)

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Schmoozing in the Eastern Suburbs

avatar.jpg.320x320px (2)From the Hungarian cafes of Double Bay to the mansions of Point Piper, two authors expose the inner workings of two unique subcultures in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. They immerse readers in an intimate world of relationships, scandal, gossip and lies, interspersed with champagne and goulash.

Society columnist Ros Reines and novelist Eva Novy will amuse and delight you with the stories of worlds unknown, right at our doorstep.

Sunday, August 30 • 5:45pm – 6:45pm

Theatrette (Waverley Library, Bondi Junction)

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For more details about this year’s Sydney Jewish Writers Festival head to www.sjwf.org.au

It’s Kids Month at Booktopia and we have lots of goodies!

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It’s Kids Month at Booktopia and we have awesome competitions for you to enter and signed promotions for you to enjoy!


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old-schoolOld School

Diary of a Wimpy Kid : Book 10

by Jeff Kinney

Buy anything in the Kids Month range and you could win a kids book pack, worth $1000 RRP! Terms and Conditions apply.

The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series of books, by best-selling author Jeff Kinney, charts the highs
and lows of our middle school hero, Greg, as he stumbles and fumbles from childhood to teenhood via school-hood. Sometimes helped by his friends and family, often not helped by himself!

Life was better in the old days. Or was it? That’s the question Greg Heffley is more…


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blinky-bill-the-movie-a-guide-to-the-extraordinary-Order any title in the Blinky Bill range by September 17th and go in the draw to win a Double Pass to see Blinky Bill: The Movie. Movie is out in cinemas September 17th! Terms and Conditions apply.

Blinky Bill: the Movie is an epic adventure set in the Australian Outback. Blinky’s home town is under threat from a tyrannical goanna (Mayor Cranklepot) and Blinky must find his missing dad to restore peace and harmony to Greenpatch.

Blinky enters the world outside Greenpatch and sets off on a rollicking, hilarious journey complete with an eccentric wombat, a vengeful cat, two gossiping Emu’s and Blinky’s soon to be more…

 


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chase-your-goalChase Your Goal

The Netball Gems Series : Book 2

by Bernadette Hellard, Lisa Gibbs

Order any book from The Netball Gems series by August 31st and you could win a netball signed by the Diamonds! Terms and Conditions apply.

A junior fiction series written in partnership with Netball Australia

Can shy Phoebe find her place in the Gems?

Phoebe loves to shoot goals, and she’s great at it too. She dreams of being a famous netballer and playing in front of thousands. The problem is that she’s nervous all the time, even around her teammates – and there are only seven of them! Why can’t she make friends as easily as Lily and Sienna? Things don’t get any easier when her overenthusiastic dad starts coaching from the sidelines. Could anything more…


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How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury – Order Now For Your Chance to Win!*how-to-fight-a-dragon-s-fury-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-

How to Train Your Dragon Series : Book 12

by Cressida Cowell

Order How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury by September 7th and you could win every book in the How to Train Your Dragon series! We have 5 packs to give away! Terms and Conditions apply.

Dragons vs Humans: is this the end? Find out in the twelfth book in the How to Train Your Dragon series.

It is the Doomsday of Yule. At the end of this day, either the humans or the dragons will face extinction. Alvin the Treacherous is about to be crowned the King of the Wilderwest on the island of Tomorrow. His reign of terror will begin with the destruction of dragons everywhere. The fate of the dragon world lies in the hands of one young boy as he stands on the nearby isle of Hero’s End with nothing to show, but everything to more…


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xthe-65-storey-treehouse-signed-copies-available-.jpg.pagespeed.ic.SH2sT6Of7jThe 65-Storey Treehouse

The Treehouse Series : Book 5

by Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton (Illustrator)

For a limited time only, order The 65-Storey Treehouse and you will receive a signed copy. Please note: offer available while stocks last.

Andy and Terry’s amazing 65-Storey Treehouse now has a pet-grooming salon, a birthday room where it’s always your birthday (even when it’s not), a room full of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a quicksand pit, an ant farm, a time machine and Tree-NN: a 24-hour-a-day TV news centre keeping you up to date with all the latest treehouse news, current events and gossip. Well, what more…


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The Sword of Summer – Pre-order Your Signed Copy!*the-sword-of-summer-pre-order-your-signed-copy-

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Series : Book 1

by Rick Riordan

For a limited time only, pre-order The Sword of Summer and you will receive a signed copy. Please note: offer available while stocks last.

The first book in the incredible new series from the author of Percy Jackson, the Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus.

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met – a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him more…


 

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Russian Roulette

Alex Rider Series : Book 10

by Anthony Horowitz

Order from the Alex Rider series during Kids Month and you could win 1 of 5 backlist packs signed by author Anthony Horowitz! Terms and Conditions apply.

The deadly prequel to the number one bestselling Alex Rider series.

An international contract killer has been given his orders. His next target is a fourteen-year old spy… Alex Rider. The man’s name is Yassen Gregorovich. He knows Alex well. The two of them share a secret from the past. As he considers his next mission, Yassen remembers the forces that turned him from an ordinary schoolboy into a hired assassin. What is it that makes more…


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Just Doomed!

JUST! Series: Book 8

by Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton (Illustrator)

Order from The Just! series during Kids Month and you could win 1 of 3 Just! boxsets. Terms and Conditions apply.just-doomed-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-

It’s been five long years since Just Shocking! was published.

Just Doomed!, the next fabulous JUST title from the creative genius of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, is destined to be one of the greatest JUST titles yet. With nine superb stories of mischief and crazy happenings, readers will be hooked instantly.

But is this the right book for you?

Take the DOOMED TEST and find out.


Click here to see all of Booktopia’s competitions and exclusive offers

Mitchell Hogan, author of A Crucible of Souls, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

a-crucible-of-soulsThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Mitchell Hogan

author of A Crucible of Souls

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 and raised in Sydney, Australia, and have lived here all my life. Although I’ve travelled quite a bit, there’s no place like home! I grew up with two sisters, and my mother did a fantastic job in raising us on her own under extremely trying conditions when we were young.

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

When I was twelve I wanted to work with wood in some way. I loved woodwork classes at school and I still think back fondly on those times. At eighteen I was studying Chemical Engineering at university, mainly because I was good at mathematics and science. Then at thirty I was working for a US bank in funds management, although it was just what I’d fallen into for various reasons. To be honest, by then it felt like I’d be in the same career for the rest of my life. There were bills to pay and a mortgage to worry about so I never stopped to think about what I really wanted to with my life until later on.

Mitchell_Hogan3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I was naive at eighteen and thought I’d be able to get by without going to too much extra effort. That was fine until my third year of university when I failed half my subjects! After that I knuckled down and realised that a little extra effort now makes everything so much easier later on, and if you want to be good at something you need to work at it.

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?

When I was eleven a teacher began reading The Hobbit to my class at primary school. I enjoyed it so much my mother bought me The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That opened up a whole new world to me, and it was such a small thing really.

When I was twenty my father took his own life. I coped with the tragedy fairly well at the time, but I think it instilled in me a willingness to be able to stop and examine my own life, what I was doing and where I was going. I’ve had a couple of major career changes since then and deciding to move on in each case was relatively easy.

Which leads to about six years ago when I was burned out with my job. It was getting better but I’d been through a really bad six months of way too much overtime and stress. I stepped back and thought about what I was doing with my life. That’s when I decided to resign from work and finish the book I’d started writing so many years ago. I didn’t want to regret not finishing it – and so far it’s worked out well!

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

I chose to write a book because I love to read, and I had a lot of ideas and wanted to see if I could craft a story out of them. I didn’t consider any other mode of storytelling, it just seemed natural to write. Books are far from obsolete — in fact more people are reading more books than in any other time in history, and there are more books available at lower prices than ever before. With current technology any book that is published will be around, and easily accessible, forever.

a-crucible-of-souls6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

I’d be delighted to! A Crucible of Souls is an epic fantasy novel about a young man raised by monks who is thrust into the unfamiliar chaos of city life, and finds the world he is caught up in has disturbing depths… and the good guys don’t always win. It has sorcery, morally ambivalent characters, and some dark and gritty content. The first review it ever received described it as ‘entertainingly ambiguous’, which I thought was quite a good description.

Grab a copy of A Crucible of Souls here

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

I hope readers feel they’re a part of the world I’ve created. I’d like them to become lost in the story and want to go back and re-read my books again. And of course I want people to feel as if their time and money was well spent.

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

Any author who continually produces books and endeavours to improve on all aspects of writing—both with their craft and the business side.

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

In a relatively short time with my writing career I found myself having achieved more than I ever hoped. That led me to step back and think about where to go from here. My main goal now is to make a living from my writing, and as most other authors can attest that is hard. I also want to make sure my writing appeals to the majority of readers, which means putting a lot of work into improving and making sure I don’t get complacent.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Finish your first book. It’s the hardest one and after that you’ll realise you’ve done it once so you can do it again. Plus, the best advice on editing, promotion, marketing, branding, submissions, agents, the publishing industry, etc, doesn’t mean a thing unless you have a completed manuscript.

And once you have a book finished, work on understanding the business of writing and the industry. This is important stuff. Your intellectual property has an intrinsic value. There is writing and the business of writing, two very different things. Understand the business you’re in if you want to succeed.

Mitchell, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of A Crucible of Souls here


a-crucible-of-soulsA Crucible of Souls

by Mitchell Hogan

The Aurealis Award-winning e-book bestseller now in print.

An imaginative new talent makes his debut with the acclaimed first installment in the epic Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, a mesmerizing tale of high fantasy that combines magic, malevolence, and mystery.

When young Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, the boy is raised by monks who initiate him into the arcane mysteries of sorcery.

Growing up plagued by questions about his past, Caldan vows to discover who his parents were, and why they were violently killed. The search will take him beyond the walls of the monastery, into the unfamiliar and dangerous chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to become apprenticed to a guild of sorcerers.

But the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths he does not fully understand. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that will bring the world to the edge of destruction.

Soon, he must choose a side, and face the true cost of uncovering his past.

Grab a copy of A Crucible of Souls here

Q&A with Patrick Ness about his latest novel – The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here 1. The premise for your latest book is a really refreshing new take on a familiar theme. Can you tell us a bit about how you first got the idea to write The Rest of Us Just Live Here?

The Chosen One plot is so important to YA, and for good reason: it provides an explanation for the incredible loneliness and alienation that teenage life brings. It’s powerful, and I’d never want to lose it. HOWEVER, I started thinking about all those young readers out there who never even think they’d be Katniss or Harry Potter. I wondered what their stories would be like. The answer, of course, is: just as interesting.

2. The “Main Plot” of the book is a hilarious parody of YA clichés. Did you ever find it difficult navigating the fine line between parody and mockery?

Not really because I love YA, for its smarts, its robustness, its great welcoming nature. If you love something, I don’t think you have to worry too much about mocking it in a nasty way. I did it with love, and people have been responding really well! Make no mistake, I’ll defend YA to the death.

3. If you had to pick a favourite “Chosen One” character from a book/film/TV show or graphic novel who would it be and why?

Buffy. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. The greatest Chosen One there ever was or will be. Powerful but human, serious but funny. Buffy is the greatest YA creation ever. I want all my nieces and nephews to have her as a role model.

4. Why do you think people are so endlessly fascinated by stories about high school teens banding together toPatrick Ness fight a supernatural evil and save the world in time for the Prom?

I’ve always argued that all supernatural AND dystopian plotlines in YA are, in fact, actually about high school. They’re all allegorical to how it feels: that every problem feels like (and is) the end of the world, that your friends are the only ones who understand, etc. I don’t think they’re supernatural at all, really. They’re one tiny step beyond documentary.

5. Would you rather be a hero, a sidekick, a villain or none of the above? What do you think makes someone a true hero?

Eh, it’s hard enough to be a decent human. It’s also heroic enough. My life philosophy is, “Just do your best and try not to be a dick.” Trust me, in this world, that’s bloody heroism, that is.

Grab a copy of Patrick Ness’ new novel The Rest of Us Just Live Here

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The Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here.
by Patrick Ness

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school.

Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…An exceptional novel from the author praised by John Green as “an insanely beautiful writer”.

Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy, as well as the Carnegie Medal winning A Monster Calls, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. Among the numerous awards he has received are the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award.

Grab a copy of Patrick Ness’ new novel The Rest of Us Just Live Here

GUEST BLOG: Robin Bowles, author of Smoke & Mirrors, on the murder of Stuart Rattle.

smoke-and-mirrorsIn December 2013 the whole of Melbourne was buzzing with the details of a most bizarre murder.  The people most intrigued, far from being the criminal element where murder is often discussed, were the bold and beautiful of the socialite set. Someone many of them knew, others who’d relied on the victim, renowned interior designer Stuart Rattle, to transform their houses into enviable homes, could not believe the gruesome story as it unfolded across the Melbourne media.

The details were scanty at first, some journalists believing there had been a ‘typo’ in police media releases. At first, everyone assumed that Stuart had died in bed in a fire in his apartment, whilst his partner of 16 years, Michael O’Neill and their three pet foxies had made a lucky escape.

But the autopsy didn’t support this scenario. Within days of the fire, police arrested Michael for murder. The charge sheet showed a five-day disparity between a date of probable death and the fire. Police confirmed it was not a ‘typo’, but refused to release more details.

Sorrow and support for Michael changed to anger and more grief, friends realising that they had lost two close friends inRobin Bowels one week instead of one. Clients and customers were incredulous, uncomprehending about how such an outwardly ideal couple could disintegrate into such a sad and sordid ending.

Gradually the bizarre details emerged. Stuart had been dead for 5 days before the fire. After bludgeoning him on the head with a heavy saucepan and then strangling him with a handy dog lead, Michael had wrapped Stuart’s body in a clear plastic sofa bag and brought him a cup of tea. He sat with him, brought him wine and take-away curry, ‘watched’ TV beside him, all the while carrying on a semblance of their normal lives at work downstairs, pretending to all that Stuart was sick in bed.

Eventually the summer heat and the normal biological process forced him to make a decision. He says he set the fire so that Stuart would not be found in the undignified state of advanced decomposition.

Michael pleaded guilty at his trial and is now serving an 18-year sentence for murder and arson.

People often ask me how I make the decision to write about a particular murder, after all many murder trials take place in all the courts around Australia every week. I like to look at a story with ‘layers’ and if possible some psychological or social significance, rather than the story of A kills B, A arrested, tried and sent to prison—The End. The story behind my latest, 11th  book, Smoke and Mirrors had all the elements of things not appearing as they seem. Even Stuart Rattle, the self-confessed smoke and mirrors design expert, was an enigma. Lots published about his public self, but little known about the ‘real’ Stuart Rattle. Michael O’Neill, for reasons that become apparent in the book, also created a web of fiction about himself, too insecure to tell the truth. Here were these two men, both of whom had spaces in their personalities that the other filled, living a life behind the smoke and mirrors of their counterfeit public personas, struggling emotionally, physically and financially in their every-day unseen lifestyle. It was a perfect storm.

This book was not an easy one to write. With every book I have to struggle with ethics—what to include and what to leave out; trying not to extend the pain of the living victims created by a tragedy such as murder; frustration from the police and in this case, the prison system; reluctance of people to share their hurt or inner feelings; and at times being almost overwhelmed myself by the sadness and waste of it all.

Smoke and Mirrors was not the easiest book I’ve written, but I am already being rewarded by the feedback that it’s a riveting read!

Grab a copy of Smoke and Mirrors here


smoke-and-mirrorsSmoke and Mirrors

by Robin Bowles

Stuart Rattle and Michael O’Neill were the perfect couple. Country boys from working-class backgrounds, they became bon vivants and lovers, the envy of all their friends – until tragedy struck.

Stuart Rattle was at the peak of his design career, feted and entertained by hosts whose invitations were gold. His ‘Rattle’ interiors were his ticket into this exclusive lifestyle.

Michael O’Neill, his loyal and loving partner, employee, dogsbody and whipping boy, was always three steps behind, never in the limelight. In the words of Paul Bangay, the international garden designer and Stuart’s former partner, ‘Michael really had to fit into Stuart’s way of life … Stuart had a more…

Grab a copy of Smoke and Mirrors here

Five of Five with Aurealis Award-winning author Mitchell Hogan

Mitchell_HoganWe play Five of Five with Aurealis Award-winning author Mitchell Hogan!

1) Name 5 books that inspire you…

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

Surprised? Don’t be, it’s a classic. There’s not just a hungry caterpillar, there’s a very hungry caterpillar and a twist at the end. Good stuff. It always reminds me of a joke which goes something like this — Author: I have a book about a hungry caterpillar, Publisher: Pass, Author: Wait…it’s a very hungry caterpillar, Publisher: Go on…

Stephen King’s The Stand

This book is essentially an epic fantasy adventure about good and evil set in a post apocalyptic America, and it has it all: imagery, great characters and plot, excellent world-building.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? A gorgeous book, which makes the complexity of the universe comprehensible and palatable.

Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Each time I read this book it tells me something different. Compared to today’s fantasy works it’s a short read, but what makes it great is its subtext. Read it early, and read it often.

Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before

Exquisite world building, the best I’ve ever read. This is a dark, adult fantasy story, and Bakker masterfully combines many different POV’s, literary techniques, plots, religion, sorcery, and philosophy into a great read. An educated, intelligent and talented writer.

2) What are your picks for the 5 “best fantasy books of all time”?

Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice

A complex and action packed fantasy, with flesh and blood characters. Triumphs are bitter sweet and you’ll experience real emotion when reading this book.

Glen Cook’s The Black Company

A world where good and evil are not absolute, following characters who are dark and ugly and somehow likeable, who must navigate the best they can through shades of grey. It’s a little rough around the edges, and some would say it’s primitive, but it’s unique.

C.J. Cherryh’s Chronicles of Morgaine

Stargate meets epic fantasy! A fantastic female lead character who has her own faults, weaknesses and needs. With all of the action and issues the two characters have to face, you don’t realise until deep into reading it what the real story is: the relationship between Morgaine and Vanye.

R. Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before

Everything I said above plus more.

David Gemmel’s Legend

Fantastic action scenes and an epic story about what it means to be a hero.

3) What are your picks for the “5 best sci-fi books of all time”?

Frank Herbert’s Dune

Complex and vast world building, and people fighting over money, planets and drugs.

Issac Asimov’s Foundation

Epic scope. The fall of the Roman Empire in space. A classic.

Dan Simmons’ Hyperion

Superbly written and crafted. Different tales from different characters, all with a part to play.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

It can be confusing, but with each re-read you understand more. This book coined the term “cyberspace”. A challenging but electrifying read.

Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Science-fiction-comedy phenomenon. Some find it “too silly”, but they probably put their babel fish in the wrong hole.

4) What are your 5 favourite movies?

Blade Runner

Dark, gritty, superb style and atmosphere.

Seven Samurai

The first of its kind, assemble a team to carry out a mission. Rain drenched action and violence, and yet the movie isn’t about violence, it’s about duty and societal roles.

The Princess Bride

Enchanting fantasy. Yes, it has a few flaws, but it has everything: action, romance, comedy. Heart warming and sardonic.

Sunshine

A sci-fi movie without aliens? What the?

Complex characters, amazing story, do yourself a favour and watch it.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

A great sci-fi adventure capturing the time in childhood when the world is filled with many mysterious possibilities. And E.T. was a jedi, so now you know.

5) What are 5 things about the art of writing that you didn’t know when you started?

– There is the art of writing, and the business of writing. You need to be good at both. It’s your intellectual property and you need to realise it has intrinsic value.

– Waiting for the “muse” to strike before you write is a good way to not get much writing done.

– There are many ways to learn something, and the best way is for someone more experienced to teach you. Find knowledgeable critiquers or professional editors and take their feedback on board. Strive to constantly improve your writing.

– You don’t need to be an expert, whether it is writing or the business of writing, you just need to have an appetite for learning and to work hard.

– Someone once said: Have the courage to write badly. I think that’s great advice.

Grab your copy of Mitchell Hogan’s A Crucible of Souls here

a-crucible-of-soulsA Crucible of Souls

by Mitchell Hogan

The Aurealis Award-winning e-book bestseller now in print.

An imaginative new talent makes his debut with the acclaimed first installment in the epic Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, a mesmerizing tale of high fantasy that combines magic, malevolence, and mystery.

When young Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, the boy is raised by monks who initiate him into the arcane mysteries of sorcery.

Growing up plagued by questions about his past, Caldan vows to discover who his parents were, and why they were violently killed. The search will take him beyond the walls of the monastery, into the unfamiliar and dangerous chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to become apprenticed to a guild of sorcerers.

But the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths he does not fully understand. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that will bring the world to the edge of destruction.

Soon, he must choose a side, and face the true cost of uncovering his past.

Grab your copy of Mitchell Hogan’s A Crucible of Souls here

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Barbara Hannay on the Writing Process

When I was first published, a wise and experienced author told me, ‘You’re only as good as your last book.’ It was a warning I took to heart and it has led me, inevitably, to taking on new challenges.

Pic-BarbHannay-rurowebAfter writing more than forty contemporary romances, my two most recent books, Moonlight Plains and The Secret Years, are intergenerational stories that combine a contemporary story with a historical thread set during World War 2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the historical research, as well as trying to capture the speech patterns and atmosphere of another era.

It isn’t just the historical element of dual time lines that excites me, however. These more complex books provide extra opportunities for character development and for deeper themes. I’ve been able, for example, to explore the long-lasting impact of a decision made by a character in the past on his descendants. These “double” plots have also provided extra opportunities for secrets and surprises – devices that make commercial fiction hum.

Probably the biggest challenge of a dual time line is getting the right balance. It’s important to make sure that one story isn’t much more interesting than the other. Both stories need to be compelling. It’s important to create two sets of characters that the reader cares about. Both heroes (or heroines) need to follow an important emotional journey.

Interesting events need to take place in both time lines to move both plots forward. The central character in each story will have separate problems to overcome. Each story will have its own rising action, climax and resolution and there will probably be a significant point where the stories intersect, usually towards the end.

I’ve never been one for strict writing rules, though, and I know each writer will approach this challenge differently. Some authors like to write the two stories separately, so they have complete control over each plot. Then they work out how, where and when to interweave them.

the-secret-yearsThis is fine, but I prefer to do the weaving as I write. I enjoy the organic flow. Whichever way you approach this task, working out how long to stay in one time zone before switching to the other can be tricky. I’ve judged this intuitively, rather than by any hard and fast rule, but I know from my experience as a reader that I’m annoyed if the ‘back-and-forth’ happens too quickly. It’s a bit like watching TV with a channel surfer. You’re just getting interested in a show, when you’re suddenly whisked to a completely different story.

For this reason, I think it’s possibly better to give approximately equal weight to each story and to allow a chapter or two in each time period before making a change. You need enough time to develop important action and intrigue in one story and to allow the reader to become immersed in the characters and the setting, before whisking her back to another time zone.

To help the transition, I think it’s also worth dropping a hint, to subtly warn readers that a time switch is coming. This is possibly easier in intergenerational stories, as the contemporary characters usually know the historical characters (often grandparents) and some kind of linking reference can be made. A question, a supposition…

Objects like photographs, diaries and memorabilia also make useful symbolic links. Studying the way movies make similar shifts can also be useful. How many times have we watched a door close on one scene in a movie only to open on a completely different set of characters? One character goes to sleep. Another wakes up…

Despite the risks of dual time lines, I think it’s a challenge worth trying. As your story reveals extra, unexpected layers, you’re in for an exciting ride and your readers will be, too.

Grab a copy of Barbara’s new novel The Secret Years here

the-secret-yearsThe Secret Years

by Barbara Hannay

Some family secrets are best set free.

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.

Grab a copy of Barbara’s new novel The Secret Years here

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