Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fave Books I read in 2012

I am right in the middle of moving house (same suburb, further up the mountain) and as of tomorrow will have no internet for four (!) weeks. This blog has been having a lazy holiday but I really wanted to share with you guys my fave reads this year, before the year is over.

I've gone with all YA (okay, except for Nicola Moriarty's Free-Falling).
Five of these are Australian, the other five are contemporary YA.


All of these were fantastic reading experiences: being completely immersed in the characters and the story, wanting to read in one glorious go (and when forced to lay it down, desperate to find time to get back into them)

In no significant order (apart from my number one fave at the end)

Confession: I have read Shadows twice, in the space of three months. I didn't know what to expect from the Aussie YA angel-themed book. I could not have predicted just how brilliant, sexy and addictive it is. Some serious twists and gorgeous gorgeous writing. Be ever so thankful it has been picked up for both a US and UK release.





Oh, this is such a me book. I LOVED Good Oil, so. Holier Than Thou makes Laura Buzo officially one of my all time fave YA writers. My gosh, this book. I was mesmerised and achey and just completely absorbed. Due for a reread very soon.

Nicole Moriarty's debut. YOU GUYS <3 Completely funny and quirky and heart-felt, with that delicious Moriarty-vibe.
What a gorgeous and unique book I'll Be There is. It has an almost fairytale -like vibe going on. I love the narration (so different), the sibling love story (heart-smashing) the romance (swoon) and the criss-crossing of paths and coincidences that lends a gorgeous mix of suspension of disbelief and a whole heap of hope and victory (does that even make sense? haha...). Try this one, I think you might like it.
Oh, Elizabeth Scott? I love her, so. She always gets me, heart thumping, tears flowing. Her books are my kind of perfect.
I love contemp YA so much, and Bittersweet is the perfect kind of book to curl up with. Cupcakes, boys, ice-skating, little brothers. Sarah Ockler's a must-buy for me. Prose I love and characters I care about (okay, and boys to make you swoon).
I love C K Kelly Martin. I'm still thinking about this (very sexy) grief book. I was so absorbed in this story, holding my breath right until the very end.

Slayed me.

AND for my favouritist book of ALL.
Jaclyn Moriarty.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shine Light Blog Tour: Suki :)


I am honoured to be included in the blog tour for Sine Light, the final book in the Night Creatures trilogy by Marianne de Pierres. I'm really digging the way this tour is structured: 

  • each tour stop features a character profile/chat type thing (I am thrilled to be hosting some info on Naif's gorgeous friend, Suki (my fave parts of the chat is where Marianne talks about loving writing Suki's parts ~ I loved reading them :))
  • secondly, there is a running extract from Shine Light (extract one started here, my extract is #5 of 13).

I am truly in awe of this gorgeous cover <3



Shine Light Blog Tour

Welcome to the Shine Light blog tour. At each stop we’ll be revealing something new about the characters in Shine Light. What makes them tick? Do they have any secrets? Read on to find out . . .

Suki
Suki seems to be everyone’s favourite character; bold, funny, loyal, practical. Who wouldn’t want a friend like her?  Without her Naif would have found the transition into Ixion unbearable. Suki backed her up and taught her how to laugh; showed her what a friend can be.

On a personal note, Suki was a joy to create and write. I loved the idea of her coming from a matriarchal society where the males had a lower social status but were still valued because they were necessary for the continuation of the race – such a different background to Naif’s.

In Naif, Suki sees an intelligent person who’s been scarred by her upbringing. She wants nothing more than to set Naif free of the chains that bind her. She also likes the fact that Naif can think her way through situations and doesn’t give in.

But not everything is clear cut in Suki’s life. She’s run away from Ixion to meet up with a boy named Liam, which suggests that somehow their bonding was not considered acceptable at home on Stra’ha. This is a secret that Suki carries for the whole series and never tells anyone, even Naif. In fact, the reader won’t even realise it’s a secret unless they start to question why Suki has come to Ixion in the first place (one of my little author tricks!).

Unfortunately, the pair encounters many obstacles to their simple plan and in Shine Light we find out what happens to their relationship. I hope in those scenes the readers get a glimpse into how Suki and Liam’s society works and how it has shaped them. I also hope that I’ve conveyed the depth of admiration and pride that Liam feels for Suki.  She is his warrior queen.

Break each code at the end of every blog post on the tour and your name will go in the draw to win a**super mystery prize** basket. Email your answers tomarianne@mariannedepierres.com.
“O VOSS VQZEI YGK QSVQNL.” SOQD ZG LXAO.

Ready for your next fix? Meet Jarrold at http://speconspecfic.com/
Did you miss the feature on Markes? See http://cels-confessionsofabookymonster.blogspot.com.au/
For the full tour listing see http://www.burnbright.com.au/


Shine Light
By Marianne de Pierres

Stop 5 of 13

Emilia saw the seriousness of their faces and spoke up. ‘What? What’s wrong?’ 
No one answered. 
Markes closed his hand to make a fist and with the other picked up his cup and tooka sip of water. 
Somehow he managed not to tremble. ‘Everyone who arrives on Ixion is fitted with abadge. It glows when you need to rest.' 
‘You need more rest then?’ 
‘No. My time for rest – they call it petite nuit – is gone. My badge is expiring. You see,Em, Ruzalia rescued many young people like us and took them to Sanctus beforethey were withdrawn.’ 
‘Withdrawn?’ Emilia’s brow creased. ‘Isn’t that when the Ripers drain the youngpeople?' 
‘Yes – although I’m not sure how many of them know about that.’ 
Naif swallowed and cleared her throat. ‘Joel promised he would spread word of it.Many more will have heard by now.’ 
‘What do you mean your badge is expiring, then?’ asked Emilia. 
‘Even after Ruzalia got us to Sanctus, the badges kept working for a while. But thenthey began to fail, as if we’d been withdrawn. Those people . . . died.’ 
Emilia stared open-mouthed at Ruzalia. 
The pirate’s face creased with frustration. ‘I’ve tried to find a way to revoke thebadges. They’re made by a science far greater than any I know.’ 
Silence fell around the table again. 
Naif watched as Emilia took Markes’s hands in her own and held them tenderlyagainst her breast. ‘How long do you have?’ she whispered. 
Markes shrugged, awkward with her gesture. ‘I’m not sure.’ 
‘No!’ Emilia’s shout pierced through Naif, echoing how she felt inside. 
The girl let go of Markes’s hands and stood, turning to Naif, her face full of anger anddemand. ‘You must stop this happening! You must!’

What happens next? find out tomorrow Speculating on Specfic :)



My review for Shine Light will be up in the next week. Here's a few teasers from some fellow Aussie bloggers who have already posted their reviews:
If there’s ever an opportunity to return to Ixion, I’ll be there with streamers in my hands and bells on my feet. Book Probe
This book was the perfect way to finish this trilogy – even though the ending KILLED me. Once again Marianne de Pierres has created something mysterious and magicalRuby
Shine Light is a thrilling, disturbing ride with moments of honesty, friendship and love. Fans of the series will find this to be an excellent conclusion and new readers – what are you waiting for? Read this series now! Vegan YANerds
Thanks Marianne de Pierres for taking the time to share about Suki and I hope you guys are really enjoying the blog tour

:) Nomes

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Megan survived the plane crash—but can she survive the aftermath? An intense, emotional novel from the author ofThe Unwritten Rule and Between Here and Forever.

Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.
Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved

I am such an Elizabeth Scott fangirl. Her books are always highlights of my reading year (love that she has been such a prolific writer since debuting with Bloom) and Miracle was no different. 

Quiet, unassuming and utterly compelling. This novel was, in parts, relentlessness and terrifying. Yet Scott balances it beautifully with hope and the tiniest spark of life just in all the right places.

I love how Scott writes the bare bones. These succinct, achey sentences. Not quite telling the full story and yet creating a perfect whole, somehow. This style, written sparingly, brings so much depth.

The thing is: I read it whole one quiet afternoon. Found it utterly compelling and heartbreaking and a touch surreal.

And now, weeks later, I am still thinking about it.

I am not ashamed to say I cried in this book. Not just for Megan, but maybe in part for myself. Even though I have no cause to suffer from PTSD, I think all of us can relate to those feelings in some way.

This book felt like the real deal. Not another YA book with a gimmicky catchy hook. Not trying to please a crowd. But as if it was written from somewhere deep inside the character's soul. I don't know how Elizabeth Scott does it. But I hope she never stops.

I wasn't intending to review this due to time. But I just wanted to say something because this book has said something to me. I loved it. I recommend it.

Miracle on goodreads

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Friday Brown by Vicki Wakefield

‘I am Friday Brown. I buried my mother. My grandfather buried a swimming pool. A boy who can’t speak has adopted me. A girl kissed me. I broke and entered. Now I’m fantasising about a guy who’s a victim of crime and I am the criminal. I’m going nowhere and every minute I’m not moving, I’m being tail-gated by a curse that may or may not be real. They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown…’

Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run—running to escape memories of her mother and of the family curse. And of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. She’s lost, alone and afraid.

Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful, charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghosts of her past. She will learn that sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started—and often, before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you were never meant to be.

Friday Brown is the breathtaking second novel from the author of the award-winning All I Ever Wanted.

Last year I nominated Vicki Wakefield's Aussie YA debut All I Ever Wanted as my favourite book of 2011. She has followed up her debut with the same kind of brilliance that, despite all the warnings of emotional napalm, I was not quite prepared for. 

Friday Brown is such a gorgeous and heartbreaking reading experience. Vicki Wakefield writes in this sublime way ~ her stories have this almost fairytale, other-worldly quality while at the same time feeling so emotionally real and resonant that it aches like the truth. This story is vivid: sorrowful yet full of love, surreal yet devastatingly believable. 

There's this gorgeous blend of adventure and tension. While friendships are being forged and the plot sails ahead into the unknown, there's an undercurrent of danger - just enough to create a pool of dread right in the pit of my stomach. Guys, it was only a solid month after finishing this read that I was able to come to terms with it all and conclude that, simply, this sophomore novel is amazing. 

Wakefield possess the magic combo: prose to die for, sneaky, smiley humour, characters that come to life and work their way into your heart, and a power-packed climax that leaves you breathless a la Jellicoe Road. In some ways, this book reminds me a smidgen of Jellicoe Road - in the way that sometimes it seems like too much ~ the character's backgrounds, heartache and sorrow upon sorrow mingled with the perfect carving of relationships but like JellicoeFriday Brown pulls everything off and more. These characters and this story is brilliant and lingering and will hold fast. 

I especially loved all of Fridays' stories passed down from her mum. Ethereal and beautiful and clever and special, all truth mingled with fantasy and hope mingled with regret. Just gorgeous. 

I cannot not mention what I truly love about Vicki Wakefield's work: her characters are such brilliant teenagers. She never belittles them, instead gives so much life and energy, it rings with the truth. I think the ultimate YA authors are the ones who believe in just how awesome teenagers are, showcasing their resilience and life and ability to have fun and live in a world not dulled by adult sensibilities. 

Vicki Wakefield is an extraordinary talent who would shine in whichever genre she would choose to write in. I am cheering for Aussie teens who can experience books such as this: utterly compelling and life-changing stuff. 

If you're into Aussie YA, Vicki Wakefield should be at the top of your list to check out. Two books out and she is right up there with the cool kids at the top. 

I truly loved this book (even as it ripped me to shreds and patched me up again) and I am thrilled to recommend it to you all and cannot wait to see what you think :)

Thanks ever so much to Text Publishing for my review copy

Friday Brown @ goodreads
Friday Brown @ Text Publishing
Read an excerpt


Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Things and HEY

1. BEST NEWS EVER yesterday:

Oh, man, I didn't even know about this book until yesterday and I am already aching/dying/desperate to get my hands on it. No idea what it is about, but it is by Nicola Moriarty (!) and the cover and title are gorgeous. Due out early 2013

2. Meet my local second hand book shop:


Totally feel like you are in an episode of Hoarders walking around there. Three rooms, many aisles, decked out like this.

Bonus: the kids love going there (who wouldn't?).

Look what I found! This is the 1995 edition of the very famous and well loved Sleeping Dogs
Totally fluked seeing this book! (was right on the top of a random stack). This is the first Sonya Hartnett I read, back when I was 15 (!). So cool to finally have my own copy. Any other Sonya Hartnett fans out there? She is AMAZING.

3. On Monday, I met Aussie author Toni Jordan at Caloundra Library.

She is one of my favourite (and I know many others) writers of (smart) romantic comedy. Her debut, Addition, is SUCH a favourite book of mine. I've loaned it to so many friends and read it 2.5 times myself (we all know which parts the .5 were, haha). It's PERFECT crossover, with our 19 year old protagonist and the gorgeous and sexy 19 year old Irish boy (my gosh. sexytimes.) and I love that the protag has OCD (one of my fave topics in fiction) and this time presented in such a fun (but heartfelt) way (gosh, enough with these parenthesis already!)

Speaking of Addition: it is available worldwide. Translated into, like, 17 languages. Multiple reprints and soon to be a movie. I love it so. MAJOR RECOMMENDATION from me.

ANYWAY. I took my copy to get signed ... [cue drum roll] and upon reaching Toni, flipped it open and found she had already signed it. CLASSIC. Back in 'Sydney '98' She signed it again for me anyway, and, I just have to add, my inscription is WAY better :)


I am too private to share actual inscriptions. Sorry if this tiny pic drives you crazy!
Side note: I love this cover for it ;)

Also, Toni Jordan talked for an hour and she is SO funny and eloquent and I took mad-girl notes and loved it. Also took my husband. he liked it, too, especially the bit where we (Toni and audience) joked about OCD (not to be disrespectful, etc). I completely didn't dob myself in, but who doesn't have some kind of OCD issues? (well, apart from my husband...) 

One thing Toni shared that I liked: she calls her first draft her 'heart draft' and her second draft her 'brain draft'. Meaning the first time it's all about getting into the characters and the story and feeling it, and the second time through it's making it work: research, tension, shaping the story. Beautiful.

4. Been doing a lot of bush-walking, this place just at the top of my street.

Maggie, of Young Adults Anonymous, pointed out that one of my pics is like the US cover of Jasper Jones. Sweet.


5. I've really been sucking at reading.
I have PILES of half read books on my bedside, bookshelves and half done books on my kindle. I return books to my library, 3/4s read. It's becoming my new thing :/ Most are actually really good. I am just finding that if it is not EXACTLY my kind of perfect book, I lose interest. If I am not sucked in with that unputdownable feeling, it gets put down and I have no urge to pick it up again.

It's actually really frustrating...

Plus YOU GUYS it's school holidays! Best feeling ever. I love having the kids home and sleeping in, and my parents are driving up so I'll get to feel all tourist-y alongside them.

It feels so good to make this random post and say hi to you all!

x Nomes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue.

I spoke a single word. 'Rain.'


In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

Last year, I fell in love with Rhiannon Hart's debut, Blood Song. Guys, she was only warming up. Rhiannon Hart completely bypasses the dreaded curse of the second book in a series to deliver a completely addictive, twisty, dangerous and (more than) satisfying sequel. Where Blood Song introduced us to the world of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden, Blood Storm takes us way deeper into their world. 

A list of so many things I loved about Blood Storm:

That it is easy to read*. I struggle with high fantasy, yet the world of Lharmell is so seductively easy to curl up into. The landscape of Blood Storm is huge: from small haunted towns, to cities, to danger on the high seas and nomads in the desert. It's the ultimate road trip. 

Hart is some kind of genius at creating questions in the reader, leaving me hanging out just the right tantalising amount, and then delivering revelations that had me 1. reeling, 2. aching, and 3. more addicted to her characters and world.   

I loved that my heart was ripped out more than once. I love a good ache-y read and this one got me 100%. Rodden. My gosh.  I am still reeling from it. Talk about haunting. 

That, while the first half was clipping along at a steady, comfortable pace, the second half grabbed me and would not let me go. Reading past midnight because a book has captured me is the absolute best feeling. 

I love that Hart is unafraid to take the story to some dark (seriously dark) places, yet lightens the mood with such a likeable narrator. Zeraphina is gutsy and bold but vulnerable in all the right places. I love how she comes into her own . More certain of who she is even as she is discovering more about herself and her powers.  

Speaking of main characters: Rodden is intriguingly unreadable and seemingly unsympathetic at times, which makes his moments of unexpected sweetness even more swoon-worthy. He is the perfect brooding, tortured soul and his chemistry with Zeraphina dances a fine line: quietly understated and then moments of perfect zing. LOVE. I did not expect to feel so drawn to him as I did, especially as some of his secrets are made known.

Hart lushly draws the reader into her world without drowning us in description (thank you!). A few carefully coined phrases had me feeling like I was travelling right alongside our hero and heroine: sights, sounds, smells and a great sense of history oozing from the pages.

Likewise, the action scenes are riveting, they played out in my head seamlessly. 

I found Blood Storm to be unpredictable (always a good good thing). Things are not always as they seem. Hart took me on a wild journey yet kept me grounded the whole way. 

There's an absolute killer cliffhanger, yet for some reason, I was not frustrated. I was so reeling and exhilarated form the climax that I was ready to forgive Hart anything. I have no doubt she will deliver above and beyond in the third and final book in the trilogy.

* 'Easy reading is damn hard writing' Nathaniel Hawthorn

This review is the official first stop of the Blood Song Blog tour. I'm looking forward to checking out the blogs below over the next ten days. Also, mate, if you are in Australia and have not picked up Rhiannon Hart's first book, I so encourage you to do so**. The Lharmell books are such a great addition to the Aussie YA scene, fantastic writing, original plots and unforgettable characters from a talented writer. Addictive and satisfying stuff <3

** Check your libraries! And your local book shops! And Big W (they stock it at my local Big W)


SEPTEMBER 21 Refracted Light 

SEPTEMBER 22 Little Book Owl (Blood Song)

SEPTEMBER 23 Intrepid Reader (Blood Song) 

SEPTEMBER 24 The Rest is Still Unwritten 

SEPTEMBER 25 Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic 

SEPTEMBER 26 The Tales Compendium 

SEPTEMBER 27 Larissa Book Girl (Blood Song) 

SEPTEMBER 28 The Eclectic Reader 

SEPTEMBER 28 Beauty & Lace (Guest post) 

SEPTEMBER 29 Treasured Tales for Young Adults (Blood Song) 

SEPTEMBER 30 Ticket to Anywhere (Guest post)



Links! :)

Blood Song @ goodreads
Blood Storm @ goodreads
Rhiannon Hart's Twitter
Rhiannon Hart's Blog
Rhiannon Hart's facebook
Check out the first chapter of Blood Storm here

Thanks to Rhiannon Hart for my gorgeous review copy 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Me & the Writing Panel Author Event


So I went to an author event on the weekend and all I took photos of was me and some Star Wars cosplayers who were wandering around the library. Which was so bizarre:

Darth Vader was really tall.
He also had this breathing sound effect going the whole time, LOL.
My kids wanted to know if the spikes on Darth Maul's head were actual bone implants, haha. I don't know, but it looked pretty genuine. Wish I had peered in closer... 

That R2D2 was actually used in Empire Strikes Back. We could look but not touch. (Although I got my head pretty close, haha)

The author panel was part of the 'grand finale' of the Sci Fi Month, of which I had no idea. I was mainly going to catch up with YA author Paula Weston. (And seeing Marianne De Pierres would be a bonus, too)

Official flyer I half read before committing to the event


When I got out at the carpark (at Logan North Library) I had a startled moment as I looked up through the second storey windows and saw Darth Maul and Darth Vader standing next to a Death Star backdrop, gazing out over street. The place was buzzing. With random sci-fi characters and people dressed up. To enter the library, you had to walk through a Stargate  (classic!)

The Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra  was fully set up in one section of the library, playing Star Wars tunes (such atmosphere!) while storm troopers and jawas looked on. There were other professional sci fi characters wandering about, ones I am not geeky enough to know who they were (haha). 

On to the actual event. 
(of which I managed to take zero photos...)

Marianne De Pierres (author of the Burn Bright series, among others) was the host, and four sci fi/fantasy authors were on the panel (see event poster above). They had a great vibe and camaraderie amongst them (good times!). Marianne posed questions and each author approached their work in different ways, so it was cool to hear all different perspectives.

Here's some of the questions and responses, all paraphrased by me (the authors, of course, were much more eloquent)

How do you go about plotting?

Rowena: believes we all have an innate sense of story and authors need to trust that. If the story is working, she'll feel good about it. If not, something about the direction of the plot just feels clunky and she reworks it. Approaches her work: I want x and y to happen, but I let characters take control of how it all comes together.

Kev: I start with an idea. What if? Then let the characters tell the story. Much more fun that way.

Trent: Writes in notebooks, sometimes elaborately, but then always ignores the notebooks. Later on (post-project) finds earlier notebooks and has a moment - oh! that's right! I was going to do that! Makes diagrams and maps but in a chaotic way. Uses diagrams to discover new things. Most important thing to him is being open to the weird things that happen along the way. Like following the white rabbit. Any other way is boring, for him. Needs to discover along the way. (He showed us a "small" notebook, which was A3 in size and full of scribbled notes, drawings, etc)

Paula: Talked about how working out details are important as she is working on book two of a four book series. She has a rough idea for each book in the series covering the story arc and individual character arcs. Important to lay the seeds for the big reveal in book four (me: instantly, I am DYING to know what the big reveal is...)

Marianne: Mentioned for her there was no right way/no magic recipe and that for each book it can be different.  When writing mystery/crime she plots more. She talked about plotting over a series and joked about you just write into the terror :D

What do you do when your plot hits a dead end?

Paula: One word: Foofighters.(LOL!) She goes for drive with the Foofighters blaring and everything becomes clear ;) Music is really good for her brainstorming, but when she is actually writing, she never plays music. Dead ends often mean she is trying to force something with her characters for the plot that doesn't match who they are.

Trent: (shamefully confesses) he does not write in a linear fashion. If he gets stuck, he just writes a different scene from a different part of the story. I love what he said here: About a third of the way into the first draft, he has an epiphany about what the final scene will be. Then everything else is just a dance towards that final scene. 

Kev: forces himself to write when stuck. Just writes any random scrap of dialogue, anything, and often what he begins writing leads him through to the next part.

Rowena: Talked about believing in her instinct for the story. If she does get stuck, she goes back through what she has already written. She fixes up previous scenes and polishes things up and gets to know the characters better and that often unblocks the path. 

Random comment from Marianne: if you know the rules of writing, you can break them. (have to know the rules first)

Talking about characters. Do they arrive fully formed? Or do you get to know them?

Paula: For Shadows, Rafa arrived fully formed. MC Gabby was more complex: she is like two characters in the sense that her present character had amnesia and her past shows a completely different side of her, unknown to herself. Paula shared an awesome tip from her editor who posed Paula the question:  why are gabby and Maggie friends? (as opposed to Maggie just being the requisite side character for plot's sake) and it forced Paula to discover more of Maggie's background (she discovered Maggie's own pain and story) and she went back through and was able to add depth to their relationship.

Marianne strongly recommends this book to everyone: Nancy Kress 

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints


Where do they find characters? Is it a mixture of pure imaginatoin, seeing a random person or people they know?

Marianne: her strongest characters are partially based on someone she knows.

Random discussion with all author going for it: Often start with rough shape of personality type. Paula mentioned she doesn't base her characters on someone, but often thinks her characters have a similar personality to so-and-so and when she is stuck on what a charatcer would say/do she thinks: what would so-and-so do? (ie her cousin/friend with that assertive personality...) 

Discussion turns to how the character themselves are different to the author's perception of the character which is different to the characters perception of themselves which differs from the reader's perceptions of the character which differs to the other characters perception of the character and how it changes of the course of the novel, etc, etc and etc.

Rowena refers to the Johari Circle. Rather well, by memory. And how you can use all that info to flesh out a character and give them depth/discover things. 

Just substitute 'us and ourselves and organisation' for your characters to see how the Johari thing works  in this context
Marianne asks how to keep characters fresh, referring to the main character of the book and not always writing in the same "voice"

Here my notes get fuzzy and I make some random note about goodreads and LOL (?)

Nuggets I wrote (not sure who said what)

  • Don't cater for the public. Tip: Don't read a review and consider someone's thoughts and adjust your character accordingly. Try and forget all that and be true to the character. (Having said that, one author said they realised through reading reviews that perhaps their characters were rather too unlikeable and realised it's important to give them a shred of likeablility, haha)
  • Characters just are who they are (everyone nodded profoundly at this)
  • Marianne deliberately changed her new series from 1st person to 3rd person to avoid sounding the same in first person to her previous series. 

Then the audience asked a heaps of questions and I relaxed and didn't write one more word ;)

What I loved most about the event was just hearing the authors chat so openly about things. Also, authors are such fun people (huge generalisation, but I am going with it). Afterwards, I chatted to a few of the authors. Marianne was just. so. nice. She is friendly and funny and clever and really generous with her time.
Australian cover. Out now.
UK Cover. Jan '13 release

Likewise with Paula Weston, who I got on so well with. Gosh, I had a great time chatting with her. I am also really pumped for Paula as her Aussie YA debut, Shadows, has a four book deal not only in Australia, but also in the UK and the US. Her book, Shadows, is one of my favourite reads this year, even though I don't do paranormal YA, haha, it was brilliant and addictive and sexy. Cannot wait for Book #2, Haze.

Also, can't wait for my next author/industry event. Now that I am closer to a capital city I am pumped about the opportunity to attend stuff like this. 

May the force be with you,

Nomes

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

‘Perfectly strange, and absolutely comical and heartfelt ... Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original writers we have.’ – Markus Zusak


So, I am entirely blown away by this book. While reading, I had this little mantra chanting though my head, every other page: my gosh, Jaclyn is brilliant.

Truth: I have read A Corner of White twice in the space of one month. I also dreamt about it once <3

I believe: Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original, greatest Australian writers out there (past and present)

Oh, so you have NO IDEA what this book is about? The blurb is surreal and utterly intriguing. I was captured from the beginning, gorgeous prose and 'what's going on here' vibe sucked me in. The characters are the best kind of teen characters: likeable and silly and fresh. Dreamers and admirable and absolutely the kind of kids you want to either be, crush on or hang out with.

This story follows two worlds: Earth, specifically, Cambridge, England and the Kingdom of Cello, specifically, Bonfire, the Farms. In each world, our main characters are teenagers, one who has lost his dad, the other has ran away from her dad. I loved the mirrored coincidences between their problems. During the book, these two teens find a crack in their world in which they can communicate ~ [through the art of the letter ;)]

Moriarty writes the best epistolary stuff.  

There's lots of mystery and tons of deliciously breath-taking world building.

This book is so gorgeously different to the Ashbury/Brookfield books. It features that same whimsical, delightful prose. The same vibrancy of characters and the nuances of their relationships. The same silly grin will appear on your face while reading it. But this book went even deeper. Amongst the craziness and surreal moments, there was a sense of truth and longing and justice and life and sorrow.


Me, getting all rave-y and emotional: The thing is, this book is not just brilliant, creative, gorgeously surreal, yet real, all at once. It really resonated with me. Something about it stirred me up. This book is such a testament to creativity and life and it contains complete magic for teens and adults (and mature children). I was truly transported and delighted while reading A Corner of White. Spellbound, mesmerised and in awe of Moriarty's imagination and gift for pulling these gorgeous, creative and crazy threads together into an something nothing short of brilliant.

If just the creativity and imagination in this book weren't enough, I was genuinely moved by these characters. Even, surprisingly, to the point of tears (These came, I am sure, from pure pleasure of being a a part of the characters lives and a true sense of empathy). A Corner of White defies genres. Not only is it a vivid experience, it's also emotionally resonant. The story, while deliciously crazy, somehow had a ring of truth to it. Utterly heartfelt and moving.


Oh, do I ever recommend this: absolute highlight of my year (not just in terms of reading, but as an experience. Good times were had)

I so hope this book falls into many many hands. I think it's a game-changer, guys. Definitely worth the wait (oh, a million times over).

Love always,

Nomes

YES ~ This is the first book in a series.

Thanks ever so much to Pan Macmillan Australia for my proof copy
Look out for this one in Australia in September <3

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview with Aussie author Ambelin Kwaymullina :)


It's my privilege to have here with me on the blog Aussie author Ambelin Kwaymullina. Her Young Adult debut, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is an original, adrenalin-packed and thought-provoking sci-fi/fantasy, post-apocalyptic/dystopia with a gorgeous Aussie flavour. (make sure you check out the book trailer at the end of this post!)



Nomes: There are so many things to love about The Interrogation of Ashala
Wolf but the thing that struck me the most was how vividly the entire
book played out in my mind. I am huge visual person and I loved the
richness of the setting. You have a talent for not only describing a place,
but for transporting readers there. I am really curious about how you
crafted your setting and if visual inspiration played a big role in bringing
your story to life.

The setting in your book is so full of life it seems to be a character

unto itself. The Firstwood brims with life and a strong sense of history.
Are there any locations you imagined while bringing the Firstwood to
life?

Ambelin: When I’m writing, I see everything happening in my head. Because of that,
its really important to me that I describe everything as well as I possibly can
– I want my readers to see what I see, or rather, what Ashala sees, since the
book is told from her perspective. I drew much of the ecology of the Firstwood
from tuart forests, which grow in WA, and are one of the rarest forests on
earth. There were once thousands of hectares of tuart trees, and now the last
of them survive in remnant forests. It seemed right to me that these tough
old trees would live through the end of the world, to grow again into the vast
forest that Ashala lives in. Some of the other plants in the Firstwood exist in
this world too - the ‘’stumpy black trunk with long grasses spraying out the
top” is a grass tree, and the “shrub hung with brown pods filled with black
seeds” is a red-eyed wattle.

Of course, the ecology has changed somewhat, being as the Firstwood exists
three hundred years after the end of the world, when the tectonic plates have
shifted and formed a new, single continent. So there are animals around that
don’t exist now (saurs and sabers) and others that don’t live in Australia, like
wolves (although form the description in the book, wolves are more like a
cross between a dingo and a coyote than wolves as we know them now). I’m
really looking forward to having the chance to explore the Firstwood more in
the next book in the series.

Tuart Forest (wikipedia)

Nomes: You mention in an earlier interview how connected you feel to your
country - "For me it is the purple hills, red earth and endless blue sky
of the Pilbara region of Western Australia where my people, the Palyku,
are from. (This sounds incredibly moving and gorgeous!)" (source). Do
you think this strong connection you feel influenced the setting in your
novel and how Ashala feels about the land?

Aboriginal people, like Indigenous people elsewhere in the world, have a
strong connection to their homelands, their country. Ashala’s ancestors were
Aboriginal people, although she lives three hundred years after the world
ended when people no longer distinguish between themselves on the basis of
race. But she carries that inheritance, and she has that same love and deep

connection to the Firstwood that Aboriginal people have to their country now.
I wanted to capture in the book that feeling inside that Aboriginal people
have for their homelands, and that I have for the country of my people in the
Pilbara.

Some stunning pics of Ambelin's heritage, the Pilbara Region in Western Australia:


Nomes: I love how you contrast the stark facility in which Ashala is detained
against the wild and free (though still somewhat deadly) landscape of
the Firstwood. Did the contrast evolve naturally or was it a conscious
decision to develop it that way?

Ambelin: I think it evolved as the book was written. But it was also a product of the
kind of place the centre is. There’s actually parts of the centre that are trying
to look a bit more friendly, like the little houses where they’re putting the
detainees, and the park. But the government fails miserably to make it seem
like anything other than the prison it is. We’re seeing the centre from Ashala’s
perspective, too, and she’s unconsciously contrasting it with the freedom she
associates with the trees and open sky of the Firstwood.

Nomes: While The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is set in the future, it also has
a strong sense of the past. It was easy to picture how the world was
before, during and after The Reckoning. You've captured the changing
nature of landscapes and how that affects people beautifully—how do
you feel about the way we treat the land now? And what we can do to be
better, as caretakers?

Ambelin: It breaks my heart to see the ancient places of the earth destroyed. And
we are putting, not just the many ecosystems of the planet, but our own
species in jeopardy. For some time now, scientists have been warning us
about reaching ecological ‘tipping points’, where human beings will have
done irreversible damage to the planet that sustains us. And I think the
way for each of us to start being better caretakers is to simply be informed,
and get involved. In the age of the internet, most of us have easy access
to information. It’s not difficult to find out about small improvements we can
all make to our daily existence to live in a more sustainable way, or about
campaigns we can get involved in to protect forests or oceans, or about big
ideas that will change the world.

In any given day, we all make a thousand choices, and those choices create
the future. As long as we know that, we can all change the world.

Nomes: I love the saurs in your book. I know they are powerful and
deadly but a part of me imagined them as a little bit cute. Did you have
any images in mind that helped you bring them to life?

Ambelin: I think they are cute, in their way – and certainly mischievous, although you
wouldn’t want to get on their bad side! I very loosely based the saurs on a
species of megafauna, megalania prisca – big carnivorous lizards that lived
in Australia thousands of years ago (although I gave the saurs much longer
necks). To get an idea of how they might move, I looked at perentie lizards,
which can grow up to two metres long. If you’ve ever seen a perentie stalk

along the ground, I imagine the saurs would move in pretty much the same
way.

megalania prisca

Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
"There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below ... And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me." Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala s Tribe - the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf @ Walker Books
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf @ @ goodreads

Ambelin Kwaymullina
Ambelin Star Kwaymullina is a Palyku person whose family comes from the north-west of Western Australia. She was born in Perth in 1975 and is both a writer and illustrator. Currently she works as a Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Western Australia. (source)

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