Things are super busy here in my world. Working on my new book, which has transformed itself into also being part of my PhD. Also working on my thesis, which I’m enjoying so much more than I thought I would. I love literary criticism! Who knew?
I’m also super busy at various schools, festivals and other events. I’m really enjoying being a host for The Wheeler Centre’s Texts In The City program – I’m reading lots of things I’ve always meant to read, and rereading some old favourites. I do a lot of talking about my own books, so it’s very refreshing to be able to talk about someone else’s! And I get to do more of that on Monday night when I’m Q&Aing with the wonderful Patrick Ness at the Athenaeum.
And next Saturday I get to talk with Penni Russon at the Emerging Writers Festival, which will be excellent.
Other things that are going on include: I have an awesome new friend through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Achievers program, which I’m totally loving, except tomorrow we are playing laser tag and I’m a bit scared.
There’s also lots of house and garden stuff going on around here, and to avoid boring you all with endless photos of plans and plants, I’ve started a garden blog. But there are some literary connections, because there is some sneaky gardening in my next book.
SPEAKING OF BOOKS. Remember how I wrote that book called The Zigzag Effect which came out two months ago? Well people seem to really like it, which is great. I’m enjoying performing magic tricks (okay, trick. I only know one) at schools and reading out scenes that contain buckets full of wee.
Simmone Howell has tagged me to do this, and it’s SUPER late because I got distracted by Christmas. But here we go!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
The Zigzag Effect. That’s the final title. For a while it was Never Miss A Trick, then The Sucker Effect, then about a million other things, but now it is definitely, finally The Zigzag Effect.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
A documentary about magician’s assistants. There is a bunch of ladies whose job it is to dress up in a spangly little leotard, look beautiful, get tied up, cut in half and made to disappear. Creepy, amirite?
3) What genre does your book fall under?
YA. More specifically, YA romcrime, which is a mystery with kissing. A kisstery.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Jennifer Lawrence as Sage, the main character. Andrew Garfield as Herb, the love interest. And Taylor Swift as Bianca, the magician’s assistant. Ooh, and Alan Rickman as The Great Armand. Except then they’d all have to pretend to be Australian. I really should know more Australian actors.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Backstage kissing, vanishing magicians and ghost-photography – Sage Kealley’s new job is more than she’d bargained for!
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Published Australia in April 2013 by Allen & Unwin. Represented in the US by KT Literary.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft probably took five months. The whole thing in around eighteen months.
8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It has a similar feel to my previous books Pocketful of Eyes and Love-Shy.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Partly wanting to explore some of the bizarreness that comes with being a magician’s assistant. Partly wanting to learn more about stage magic.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a bunny called Warren. There is a kissing scene which takes place in the dark, near a bucket full of wee. There may or may not be a ghost.
Well. I was pretty rubbish at blogging in 2012. But in my defense, I did:
- get engaged
- release a new book
- buy a house
- move house
- get married
- go on a honeymoon
- go through PhD confirmation
- write a novel (more on that tomorrow)
- do over a hundred talks/workshops in schools
- attended four literary festivals
- and like a million other things that I can’t remember.
It’s been a pretty damn awesome year. I’m hoping 2013 will be just as wonderful as 2012 was. I have lots of super exciting projects coming up. Plus in three weeks we are getting a PUPPY. YAY!
I’m currently the writer in residence at ibrary, Brisbane City Council Libraries’ website.
On Thursday 18th October, I’ll be chatting with Isobelle Carmody about her awesome career and books at Fitzroy Library More info here.
And in answer to the many teenagers who have asked if I have a tumblr – yes. Yes I do.
My next book finally has a title! More on this soon.
And yes, thank you for asking. Our honeymoon was amazing.
2012 is the National Year of Reading, which seems like a pretty good reason (not that we need one) to celebrate Australian writers. The Australian Women Writers Challenge was created by Elizabeth Lhuede in response to the gender bias debates of 2011, to participate in the National Year of Reading and to raise awareness for the totally awesome Stella Prize.
The goal of the challenge is to read and review books written by Australian women writers throughout 2012, and I’ve been meaning to participate all year. My list of book by Grouse Aussie Ladies is growing steadily, so I thought I’d do a bit of a summary, now we’re halfway through the year. So here’s what I’ve been reading:
Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall
I was a very big fan of Leanne’s This is Shyness, so I had high hopes for this sequel. And they weren’t disappointed. Sinking back into the dark, elusive suburb of Shyness was a little like sinking back into a dream. Except this time, six months later, Shyness is different. Or maybe it isn’t, maybe it’s Wolfboy and Wildgirl that are different. Shyness pulls you in and wraps you up in a darkness that is both dangerous and utterly compelling.
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
Okay, so this one’s only half Australian, as SRB is Irish. Team Human tells the now-familiar girl-meets-vampire-falls-in-love story, except this time it’s from the POV of the girl’s best friend. Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, but she doesn’t associate with them. Vampires are weird. Then her best friend Cathy falls in love with one of them, and everything is all soulful declarations and longing gazes. Mel is disgusted, and vows to rescue Cathy from an eternity of pretentious speeches and bad poetry. Funny and refreshing, Team Human manages to poke fun at the bit-lit establishment at the same time as delivering a solid, genuine story with a powerful emotional punch.
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
We all know how much I love Margo Lanagan. This latest novel is not quite as harrowing as Tender Morsels, but no less beautiful. It’s about the inhabitants of Rollrock Island, a remote fishing community that becomes strange, when the young witch Misskaella learns how to draw a human from the body of a seal. For a price, she will lure a beautiful woman from the ocean. The men of Rollrock are bewitched, and abandon their true wives for these strange, lithe creatures. Generations pass on Rollrock, and the links between land and sea tangle together like seaweed on the beach.
The Truth About Love by Stephanie Laurens
I met Stephanie at the Wheeler Centre a couple of years ago, and have terribly only just got round to reading one of her books. A name unknown to most readers outside of the romance genre, Stephanie holds the grand title of being Australia’s highest-selling author. The Truth About Love is part of her Cynster series, set in the Regency era. When eligible bachelor Gerrard Debbington lands the opportunity to paint the fantastic but seldom-seen gardens at Hellebore Hall, he jumps at the opportunity. He just doesn’t expect to fall in love while he’s there. I’m a big fan of the lightness and humour of other Regency writers like Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas, so I found this one a little too gothic for my tastes, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable read.
Only Ever Always by Penni Russon
Claire’s world is broken when her uncle Charlie is in a car accident. Clara’s world has always been broken – a filthy, corrupt world of gutter kings and wild dogs. These two girls are linked, by music boxes, keys and dreams. Their two worlds start to collide and intermingle, and nothing will ever be the same. Grief, melancholy, survival and identity elevate Only Ever Always to something strange and extraordinary. Like Margo Lanagan and Ursula Dubosarsky, Penni Russon’s writing requires a level of focus and commitment from the reader, a commitment that brings ample reward.
Pan’s Whisper by Sue Lawson
Shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. This is the story of Pan, a damaged, broken teen running away from her memories. Pan is taken away from her mother and sister by a social worker, and dumped into a foster home smack bang in the middle of wholesome, middle-class Legoland. As Pan struggles to settle in to her new life, she’s haunted by frightening little glimpses of the past. Packed with angst, tragedy and “issues”, Pan’s Whisper is told with a lightness of touch that rescues it from being a gratuitous “problem novel”.
Blood Brothers by Carole Wilkinson
Obviously I’m a little biased on this one, what with it being written by my mum and all. But I love the Dragonkeeper series, and am totally excited that it’s back. Set 400 years after the conclusion of Dragon Moon, Ping is long gone, but Kai is just an adolescent dragon. His wings still haven’t grown yet, and he’s full of bouncy energy, stubbornness and occasional sulky tantrums. Tao is a young Buddhist monk, living an ascetic life high up in the mountains. When their paths cross, both Kai and Tao must confront some uncomfortable truths about their families, their pasts, and their future paths.
What books by Australian women have you been reading?
We moved into our house! It’s very exciting and as soon as it is a bit tidier, I’ll post some photos. But I’ve also been busy doing lots of other things.
I had another academic article published, on John Green’s Paper Towns, Nerdfighters and heterotopia (you can read it here).
I presented a paper on Meg Cabot at the ACLAR conference in Canberra, organised by the very clever Anthony Eaton.
I’m championing a book for the Kill Your Darlings YA Championship (but you’ll have to wait to find out which one).
I remotely gave a speech at ALA to accept my Stonewall Honor Prize (you can read the speech here).
I finished the first draft of the Next Book (of which more soon), and am about to start the first round of edits.
And now it’s nearly August, where I shall be very busy visiting many schools, and doing events at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Speaking of which, the program has just been released, and it’s awesome. The full program can be found here, and my sessions are here.
- editing my new book (about a magician’s assistant)
- drafting my PhD novel (about an apocalyptic road trip)
- writing my PhD thesis
- occasionally scribbling down some words on a Sekrit Writing Project.
People often ask me if I get confused, working on multiple projects at once. Do I mix up the characters? I don’t think so. It’s like how, at the moment, Michael and I are watching:
- Mad Men
- Game of Thrones
- Being Human
- Up All Night
And I don’t ever stop and say “hey, wait – I thought Stannis Baratheon worked at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Will Arnett was the serial killer and Jimmy Smits was the vampire living in a sharehouse on Barry Island!”. I keep all those stories separate, even though we often dip into more than one of them in a night. I’m also reading two novels at the moment, and listening to a third in audiobook format. I think we can all keep stories separate in our heads. Our heads are good at that kind of thing.
Plus I’d get bored if I was only working on one thing at a time. What would I do then when I got stuck?