Teen Book Video Awards – make some noise

In the hotly contested young adult fiction market it is always a battle to get attention to any one particular book. At the same time, for young creative types, it is always a battle to get attention and to make some noise. Put the two needs together and voila, the Teen Book Video Awards is born.

The concept is simple. Run a competition for high school film makers to make a 90 second book trailer, link it to a defined set of books (all published by Random House Australia), engage the kids with a contemporary novel through the powerful medium of film and get teacher support with resources that back up the books. The incentive is $1,000 for the student plus $1,000 worth of books for the school.

There is an interesting list of titles from mainly Australian authors. The two that I’d like to get my camera out for? Thyla and Pig Boy.

Darkwater by Georgia Blain Voyages of the Flying Dragon 1: Quillblade by Ben Chandler
Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres Laws of Magic 6: Hour of Need by Michael Pryor
Thyla by Kate Gordon Dangerously Placed by Nansi Kunze
Pig Boy by J.C. Burke My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up by Tristan Bancks and Gus Gordon
The Witch Hunter Chronicles 1: The Scourge of Jericho by Stuart Daly Votive by Karen Brooks
To Die For by Mark Svendsen Maximum Ride: Angel by James Patterson

Entries close September 30. More info here.

Q and A with Belinda Murrell, author of The Ruby Talisman

Editor of Booktopia’s Six to Twelve BUZZ,

Amelia Vahtrick, talks to

Belinda Murrell

about her new book

The Ruby Talisman


1. The Ruby Talisman was so full of historical detail! Did you do a lot of research for this book?

It took me months! My family and I spent about six weeks in France in 2007 so I wandered the gilded salons and lavish gardens of Versailles, explored extravagant chateaux and townhouses like the ones owned by the Montjoyeuse family and crept through the dank tunnels and catacombs under Paris.

I read dozens of historical books, not just about the history of the French Revolution but about life, clothing, food and etiquette in France during the eighteenth century. Some of these were written by people who experienced the revolution firsthand such as the Memoirs of the Private Life of Marie-Antoinette by Madame Campan (1818), and others were modern histories such as Marie Anotoinette – The Journey by Antonia Fraser (2001), all of which gave me lots of facts to base my story on.

I searched the internet for menus, court protocol and even weather, and kept a notebook of interesting facts and details. We even cooked many of the meals described in the book. The whole research process was fascinating!

2. Why the French revolution? Is there something about this time or about France that really attracted your interest?

I love France – its culture, cooking, landscape, language and history. As a child I remember being fascinated by Queen Marie-Antoinette and reading adventure books such as The Scarlet Pimpernel, with daring plots to rescue innocent aristocrats from the guillotine. While travelling through France, there seemed to be reminders of the French Revolution everywhere we went, so I began imagining all sorts of exciting adventures.

3. Do you speak French? I loved the vocab list at the beginning of the book.

French is such a beautiful language – I love the sound of it being spoken. I learnt French at school (many years ago), and can speak rusty traveller’s French. When I was homeschooling my three children, we started learning French together to prepare us for our time in Europe, but I do find it a difficult language to speak fluently. I used a lot of French phrases in the book, but tried to keep them simple and consistent so hopefully it added to the flavour of the book, not distracted readers from being able to enjoy the story.

4.  Can you explain what exactly a time-slip story is, and how it’s different from a time-travel story.

This is a tricky one! My understanding of a time-slip story is where the protagonist travels back in time through supernatural or magical means, such as falling asleep wearing a magic locket or talisman, whereas time travel depends on a more scientific explanation such as a time travel machine or falling through a wormhole. In my last book The Locket of Dreams Sophie, falls asleep wearing a magic locket and slips back and forth in time for short periods, like an invisible ghost, to experience events in the past. In The Ruby Talisman, Tilly also falls asleep wearing a magic pendant, but she stays in the past for the whole adventure, and is physically present as an active, living person.

5. Do you think aristocrats like Henri and Amelie got what was coming to them, or maybe the peasants were a bit harsh?

In many ways, Amelie is how I imagined Queen Marie-Antoinette to be as a teenager. She loves fashion and jewels, she enjoys dancing and horse-riding and being pretty, she is told to marry someone she has never met to suit her family’s aspirations. In the beginning, Amelie is totally thoughtless about the plight of the peasants, however she is essentially a kind and good-hearted person.

Henri is more aware of the political and cultural climate of France, and critical of the regime, yet he is more talk than action, until he personally experiences the plight of the peasants. So for these particular aristocrats, I don’t think they deserved to be murdered, or to lose their home and family. However, while I could never condone the violence of the revolution, I can understand how desperate and angry the French peasants were at the extreme inequality and injustice of their lives, compared to the extravagant lifestyles of the aristocracy. The peasants had been treated so badly for so long, that the resulting revolution was excessively bloody.

Belinda, thank you.

BELINDA MURRELL has worked as a travel journalist, technical writer, editor and public relations consultant. Her overseas adventures inspired her work as a travel writer for the WEST AUSTRALIAN newspaper and OUT & ABOUT WITH KIDS travel magazine. Her work has also appeared in the SUN HERALD, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH and SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. While Belinda studied Children’s Literature at Macquarie University, her passion for children’s books was reignited when she had her own three children and began telling and writing stories for Nick, Emily and Lachlan. Belinda’s books include the SUN SWORD fantasy trilogy, Scottish timeslip tale THE LOCKET OF DREAMS and French Revolution timeslip tale THE RUBY TALISMAN.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,963 other followers

%d bloggers like this: