Guest Post – Character Building with JJ Sherwood … plus giveaway!

This post is presented as part of the Steps of Power Blog Tour, to celebrate the release of book 1 – Kings or Pawns. Below you’ll find some great tips on how to develop a character’s distinct voice, plus a giveaway to win a range of goodies, including signed copies of the book!


Character Building: Distinct Points of View

It’s not just how they think, it’s how they speak as well

 

The characters in a story are everything to me. When I’ve long forgotten everything else in a book, the images and “feelings” of my favorite characters remain with me for as long as I have yet lived!

There are various ways to bring characters to life on a page and give each character point of view a unique personality. For example, two characters can look at the exact same scene, but will notice and remark upon different things. This is the most common method for well-developed character point of views, but for me, there is an additional tool that is the icing on the cake for most characters and stories!

And that is character point of view flavor.

What is this flavor I speak of? I’m talking about more than a character’s history, what she knows, and what she notices while she describes the events taking place. I’m talking about the flavor that allows you to hear a character describe something as simple as a chandelier and know exactly who is speaking (even if no name is mentioned). This type of flavor is rarely seen in force outside of first person point of views (delightful ones such as Bartimaeus rush swiftly to mind!)

But this same flavor can be crafted into a third person point of view and it is this flavor that makes it an extra special key to character building!

Let me give an example with several awesome characters from The Kings all observing the same event: a chandelier crashes into ground. (Even better: there are pictures! It’s like a picture book!)

alvenaAlvena:

The chandelier was actually quite lovely. Perhaps not as lovely as those chandeliers she had seen in Nilanos’ home, but it did its best in the soft candlelight to sparkle and gleam from the many-faceted stones.

However, it was rocking rather oddly. She paused a moment, watching its rhythmic swaying. There was something so enchanting about its movements that she could almost envision herself, a rich lady in the highest courts, fawned over by many handsome princes.

There was a sudden creak and groan and Alvena leapt aside with a silent yelp. The chandelier snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the ground before her, scattering the tiles with crystal and broken metal.

Ah! They’re terribly unsafe!’ she thought as she quickly slid away from all other hanging objects. She would not be getting one of those.

Jikun:jikun

The chandelier was hideous. Yet another attempt at Sel’varian culture to string gold and jewels into every conceivable contraption. He was quite certain they’d have hung a dozen of the damn things up if they didn’t pose a threat to the integrity of the ceiling above.

It must weigh a god-damn ton,’ Jikun thought, eyeing its rocking cautiously. With all that gold-plated metal and crystal, a ton could not be that far off.

There was a sudden creak and groan and Jikun’s hand flew upward to form a wall of ice. He heard the chandelier smash into the marble floor, and as the wall dissolved to a puddle of water on the tiles, he could see that the hideous thing now lay in a thousand pieces.

‘At least the appearance of their ceiling has improved.’

jerahJerah:

The object was magnificent. Jerah had seen things like it before… of sorts. At least, of a similar color. Gold, like coins. But this item was polished to perfection and dangling with countless chunks of shiny glass. Jerah had not seen glass like that before, and he wanted desperately to have a piece.

But the object was much too high up, swinging about as though blown by some unfelt wind. At least, Jerah couldn’t feel any wind. He watched as it twisted about its golden chain, causing the links to tighten and twist.

And then there was a sudden creak and groan and Jerah dove to the side. The object snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the tiled floor, scattering the room with chunks of broken metal and glass.

Jerah was back on his feet in seconds. He could not waste this opportunity! He quickly identified an unbroken piece of glass and pocketed it.

 

Eldaeus:eldaeus

In the center of the room, and the center of the ceiling in the center of the room, directly over the middle of the marble tiles full of their unlucky cracks, there was a chandelier.

‘Chandelier, oh chandelier! Thine beauty is diviiiiine! …Oh look. A pot.’

Eldaeus spun his way to the far corner of the room where the radiant pot seemed to glow in the sunlight. He plucked it up and admired it. He lifted the lid. ‘I could fit a bushel of apples in here. Or a dead cat.’

There was a sudden crash behind him, like glass and metal shattering across the floor, making it difficult to hear the fervent rally of voices debating about what color the cat should be.

‘I’m the master. I decide!’ Eldaeus pointed out. ‘…And it will be black. Black cats are just bad luck.’

 

I think the best way to make this work is to imagine the character in first person. Sometimes, if I’m struggling, I will actually write the character in first person and then go back and change it to third person!

Readers: who are some of your favorite characters? What do you think it would be like with that extra flavor (if they don’t already have it!)?

Writers: Try it! 😀 It is actually quite fun! Sometimes, it’s even easier than third person!

How important is that extra flavor to you?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You can also check out other blogs on the tour by going to http://www.stepsofpower.com/!

Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Sylvia Kelso

sylvia kelsoSylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She often writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings, and likes to tinker with moral swords-and-sorcery and elements of mythology. She has published 8 fantasy novels, including Amberlight and The Moving Water, which were finalists for best fantasy novel in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards. Her short stories have appeared in Australia and the US, including anthologies from DAW and 12th Planet Press, and the online e-zines Luna Station Quarterly and Eternal Haunted Summer. Her novella “Spring in Geneva,” a riff on Frankenstein, appeared in October 2013 with Aqueduct Press. Her most recent publications are the related fiction “Dear James,” in the award-winning Australian anthology Letters to Tiptree, in August 2015, and another short story, “A Moment in Laramidia,” which appeared in May 2016 in the anthology Lightships and Sabres, from Wolfsinger Press.
The fourth book in the Amberlight series, Dragonfly, moves onto the next generation. Can you share your motivation behind the generation jump, and some of the themes we’re going to encounter in the story?

To tell truth, “I” had no conscious motivation for Dragonfly. From Amberlight on, it was the Black Gang, aka my creative component, who kept asking, what happened after that?

For Dragonfly, “that” was the astonishing birth/baby at the end of Source. The Black Gang still wanted to know, who was she, who or what would she be? And it took them four years to evolve the replies. But one day a “ground zero reverie” recurred to Therkon, the Dhasdeini crown prince and minor character from Source – and next thing I had the opening sentence of Dragonfly.

So this is most obviously a coming-of-age story, but for a highly unusual adolescent, and at base a traditional, heterosexual-duo lovestory – except not quite. Most openly, it’s the next instalment of answers to the question of the whole Amberlight series: what or who and why is the qherrique now?

Recently you contributed “Due Care and Attention” to Cranky Ladies of History, about Lilian Cooper. Out of all the cranky ladies out there, what was it that drew you to her? How did you first come across her?

I first heard about Lilian from Ariella Van Luyn, also at James Cook University, who wrote a story about Lilian’s house in her own Creative Writing PhD. But once found Lilian attracted me instantly. She worked in Brisbane, my state capital, she was path-breaker for women in medicine and with cars, and she was not just a “a character,” in Aussie terms, but the epitome of crankiness. Anecdotes of her retorts abound, and she was also notoriously profane, even as a field surgeon for a women’s medical corps in World War I. I’ve been chipped about cursing too freely almost all my life. Who else would my Cranky Lady be?

What will the next project be after Dragonfly is released? Will you continue on with the Amberlight series, or do you have other works planned?

I think the Amberlight series is now concluded; at least, the Black Gang have stopped asking, what happened then? But I do have a number of other projects, currently in progress, a novella sequel to “Spring in Geneva.” I’ve also finished other shorter fiction, including a 22K novella called “Death and the Maiden,” a prequel to the second Everran book, The Moving Water, which was accepted for an anthology called Maidens and Magic. So the next immediate project will be the editing and proofing for that.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Somewhat narcissistic, but I really loved the range of notable women’s amazingly variant approaches to James Tiptree Jr. in Letters to Tiptree. I felt totally honoured to have been published in such an award-winning anthology, and in such company.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

There are many authors I would. lerve to sit next to, but Whatinhell wd I say! One ancient author I would want to badger anyhow would. be Polybius, over his missing history books on the Second Punic War. One live author I could sit next to would be my good mate Lois McMaster Bujold. We have taken a few car trips together, and we never have any trouble finding conversation topics, or differing without ending at daggers drawn. Especially if I could. lure her into returning to Australia, a long plane trip with Lois would. be just fine.


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Christopher Sequeira

Chris-SequeiraChristopher Sequeira is a writer, editor, and more recently a film and television producer – published in places like Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada – who specialises in mystery, horror, science fiction and super-heroes. He’s written scripts for flagship superhero comic-book brands, such as Justice League Adventures for DC Entertainment, and Iron Man and X-Men stories for Marvel Entertainment, and he’s created original characters and edited and published comics in Australia. His (and Dave Elsey’s and Phil Cornell’s) Sherlock Holmes: Dark Detective comic-book series, originally published only in Australia, has just been picked up by Caliber Entertainment for the world market.

In recent times he’s launched the ‘Horror Australis’ genre concept with the prose anthology Cthulhu: Deep Down Under with fellow editors Bryce Stevens and Steve Proposch, with follow-up collections to be announced, and he is also editing the 2017 anthology Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook for Echo Publishing. He was the co-writer, with industry legend Mark Waid, of Dynamite Comics’ Justice, Inc. – The Avenger storyline ‘Faces of Fear’, and there’s more classic literary-turned comic-book heroes coming with The Exoneration of Doctor Fu Manchu graphic novel – partnered with long-time colleague W. Cher Chan – a project designed to catapult this literary/movie icon into the 21st century and address a few significant issues with the character’s history.

He is also working with different international film and television production partners to produce two feature films, and two television series, some based on original concepts and some on licensed properties.

Last year you published horror anthology Cthulhu: Deep Down Under. What were some of the highlights and challenges of crowdfunding such a project?

Moving from the crowdfunded book to a more mainstream editorial / anthologizing career appears to be evolving out of CDDU. Can’t say much more than that, but CDDU was hard, hard, work, which needed to be slightly supplemented by the editor’s own pockets but, BAM! things are happening as a consequence. We have worked with brilliant Australian creators and now all sorts of opportunities have opened up, names you would not believe are appearing, projects being slated. Now we just have to seal a damn deal for the original book itself and the creators!!! Getting real close, though, because of a couple OTHER deals. So, the highlights are all about doing good work just for the sake of good work, and persevering. We were so, so fortunate to have found so many decent, talented people to work with and support our vision, and the signs are there that a pay-off exists in one form or another. Keeping running, keeping dreaming. Never. Ever. Give. Up. Those that treat you right, be prepared to take a bullet for; those that treat you wrong, ignore and move on.

The Australian comics industry has grown considerably over the last few years. Are there any up and coming artists/writers that you’re excited about?

Two friends of mine who do comics who have been active for a while – to those that know what’s going on – are going to have careers that just explode soon: Artist, Marcelo Baez and writer, Julie Ditrich.  Also a young lass who was at a convention table next to Chewie Chan and I earlier this year really impressed us with a decent, positive ATTITUDE and MANNER that sadly is a lacking element in aspiring professionals; she was so well-balanced it stood out enough to now make me give her a shout: Danikah Harrison, she’s got the raw talent and the right attitude, she’ll make it for sure.

What’s next for you? Can you give us any sneak peeks of your current projects?

Fu Manchu is the big one. Can really only show the main image right now. Apart from the things announced (as per my bio) the things I have coming up that I can’t name are even more exciting. I am stepping into the anthology space with my Horror Australis buddies Bryce Stevens and Steve Proposch in a huge way – we’re going international with some amazing concepts and creators. I am also developing a really cool movie relating to an established superhero with movies in his past, so that will be fun, and another movie project will happen as soon as a contract is signed, so it’s so damn close I’m terrified.

Fu Manchu_poster_02

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Anything by writer Kaaron Warren, anything by artist Nicola Scott; they just turn everything to gold, those ladies.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I only like sitting next to people on long flights that I consider friends!  They HAVE to listen to me talk crap the whole trip!


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Alison Croggon

croggonBorn in 1962, Alison Croggon writes in many genres, including criticism, poetry, theatre and prose.

She is the author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy quartet, The Books of Pellinor (Penguin Australia/Walker Books UK/Candlewick Books), which has sold more than half a million copies in the UK and the US alone. Her most recent novel, The River and The Book, was published with Walker Books Australia and UK in October 2015. It is shortlisted for the Wilderness Society award for Environmental Writing for Children, and for the YA prize in the Western Australian Premiers Literary Awards. The Bone Queen, a Pellinor prequel, is released in the UK, US and Australia in 2016/17. She is presently working on a new epic fantasy, Motley.

She was Melbourne theatre critic for the national daily newspaper, The Australian, until 2010, and kept an influential blog of theatre criticism, Theatre Notes, from 2004 to 2012. She was awarded the Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year in 2009. She was performance critic for ABC Arts Online from 2012-2015 and has written for Guardian Australia, the Monthly and Australian Book Review. She is a regular columnist and poetry critic for Overland magazine. She was poetry editor for Overland Extra (1992), Modern Writing (1992-1994) and Voices (1996) and is founding editor of the literary arts journal Masthead.

The Bone Queen sees you return to the world of Edil-Amarandh. What was it like going back and exploring Cadvan’s earlier years after so long out of that world?

It was really interesting, more than I expected. It had been about five years since I had written anything in that world, and I’ve written a couple of books in between, both fantasies but of completely different kinds. And of course, you change as a writer. The Gift was my first serious attempt at writing fantasy (given that the beginnings of that book go back to when I was 10 years old…) If I were writing The Gift now, it would be a different book, because of what I learned writing the series. Possibly not that different, but there would be a few things I’d finesse!

I do love that world, and those characters, and going back was enjoyable in so many ways. I always said that I would never write another Pellinor book, there has to be a reason driving your desire to write the story, I guess what drives The Bone Queen is the whole question of what culpability and forgiveness and redemption might mean. Mainly the challenge was to remember everything I had already written, so I didn’t put in some detail that contradicted things in the later books. I think I managed, with the help of my editors, but readers have picked up on things that got past phalanxes of copy editors and proofreaders in three countries. There’s always something you notice when it’s too late!

It was great having the opportunity to write about some characters who are peripheral in the other books, like Milana, Maerad’s mother, and Dernhil. But I equally loved finding new characters, like Selmana, the other central character in The Bone Queen, my six foot tall red-headed smith.

The River and the Book touches on some important topics around cultural appropriation and human rights. What prompted you to write it?

I’m actually not sure. You write books about things that trouble you, and cultural appropriation and colonialisation and environmental destruction are things that trouble me. But really I started with Sim’s voice. I wrote the first chapter and I think I just fell in love with that character. It was a novel I wrote like I write a poem, just waiting for the next bit. I didn’t really think anyone would be interested in publishing it. But I wanted to find out what happened to Sim, which is why I got to the end.

Can we have a sneak peek at your next project? Will there be more Pellinor books, or do you have something brand new on the go?

I’ve got a couple of things I’m working on. One is a new epic fantasy called MOTLEY that is giving me all sorts of headaches (I’m in the middle of a huge rewrite, having written 600 pages of wonderful world building, but somehow without my central character). I’m really hoping this works out, I love the world, and I love my character (now I’m discovering who she is). The other major project is a kind of historical fantasy called THE STONE HEART, which I’m hoping to have at first draft by the end of next year.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Probably the Australian book that has most hit me where it matters in the past year is Charlotte Wood’s THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS, which is one of the best fictions I’ve read about how misogyny works. Gruelling and beautiful and uncompromising. There is something so simple in its conception that is so fully and complexly realised in its execution. So much admiration.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I suppose I should say my husband, Daniel Keene, who is a playwright and who is good company on a long haul flight. We’re flying to Europe in three weeks’ time, so I get to test this thesis again! Otherwise, I would have liked the chance to have a long conversation with Anton Chekhov, whose letters are delightful and funny and wicked and wise.


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Sophie Masson

Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie Masson is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults. Her latest young adult novel is Hunter’s Moon, (Random House Australia, 2015) while her latest adult novel is Trinity: The False Prince, (2015, Momentum.) Her novella, The Romanov Opal, is coming out in 2016 in the And Then… adventure anthology, published by Clan Destine Press. She has four books coming out in 2017: three children’s picture books and a YA novel.

Sophie is also a founding partner and co-director of Christmas Press, a boutique publishing house with three imprints, Christmas Press Picture Books, Eagle Books and Second Look, producing acclaimed children’s picture-books and fiction. She holds a BA and M.Litt from the University of New England and is currently undertaking a PHD in Creative Practice at the same university.
She is on the Boards of the Australian Society of Authors, the New England Writers’ Centre and the Small Press Network. She has also served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Book Industry Collaborative Council.

Congratulations on having your first academic article, Mosaic and Cornucopia: Fairy Tale and Myth in Contemporary Australian YA Fantasy, published! Fairy tale retellings have always been popular, but we’re seeing more than ever before in the current market. What do you think makes them so popular?

Fairy tales are wonderful as inspiration for fiction, as they provide both the basic plot framework for a story but also the wide spaces and gaps which a writer needs for their imagination to really take flight. Fairy tales don’t tell you what to think; they work on a much deeper level than thought, conjuring up images and archetypes and emotional meanings. And yet they are also highly practically structured, the narratives flows well. It’s the very paradox of fairy tale that makes it so rich: a mix of enchantment and earthiness; humour and horror; magic and practicality. The fact that most fairy tales don’t use names for characters but rather, roles (such as ‘the king’, ‘the witch’, ‘the youngest son’, etc) also means that a novelist has all that to work on and make their own. And of course, there are so many different variants of classic fairy tale tropes from across the world–you are not limited to one version of Cinderella, for instance! The other thing too I think is that fairy tales work both in literature for young people and literature for adults–different things may be emphasised, that’s all.

Earlier this year you published a series of guest posts on your blog looking at how authors and illustrators got started on their creative paths, and shared some of your early influences and literary efforts. Are there any books you read as a child that you wished you had written?

Oh yes, many—books I read and re-read many times include the Narnia books, the Tintin books(which I read both in French, my native language, and English), the Moomintroll books, James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks, Nicholas Stuart Gray’s The Stone Cage, the Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton, Patricia Wrightson’s The Rocks of Honey and An Older Kind of Magic, Leon Garfield’s books, especially Black Jack and Devil in the Fog, Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne..the list is pretty much endless! As a kid, I also tried to write my own versions of similar stories–and I think that though my efforts were of course pretty poor, the very fact of doing that and reading the books over and over meant that subconsciously I was absorbing lessons about narrative, characterisation, plot, pace, etc. I’m still indebted to those works, and what my aim with my own work has always been to try and recreate that sense of intoxicating enchantment and immersion that those books evoked in me as a young reader. I’m also proud to say that not only have I written about some of these books in various magazines and journals, but this year I was part of the publishing team that brought back Jules Verne’s wonderful adventure novel Michel Strogoff(which we published as Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff), in the first English-language translation in over a hundred years, by the fabulous Australian translator Stephanie Smee (see www.eaglebooksadventure.com) This really felt like giving back to a work that had coloured my childhood reading with such verve and vividness!

You’re writing Ghost Squad as part of your creative writing PhD at the moment, has this affected how you have approached writing the book?

Yes, it has. I’m writing the novel at the same time as I’m researching material for its accompanying academic exegesis, which is on the very interesting speculative fiction sub-genre of afterlife fiction, specifically YA afterlife fiction (ie novels set in the afterlife). This means that not only am I reading a lot of really fabulous novels that I would not necessarily have come across otherwise, but as part of the cultural context of afterlife fiction, I’m taking in some very interesting background stuff, such as Victorian gothic and ghost stories, and screen-based narratives, especially TV series, which have the general theme of afterlife, or return from the dead: including Les Revenants(the French series, known as The Returned in English), the Australian Tv series The Glitch, Resurrection(US) and also the very successful earlier series, Lost. It’s fascinating stuff! Because of this, I’m coming up with all kinds of insights and ideas which are feeding back into the creative work as much as the academic work. And vie versa too–my work on the novel is feeding back into the academic study. As a synergy, it’s working really well.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I’ve really enjoyed Avery and its sequel Thorne, by Charlotte McConaghy; and also at the moment am deep in the intrigue of the latest Liane Moriarty, Truly, Madly, Guilty.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Right now, I’d say the author of the book that has most struck me this year: the superb novel, Laurus, written by Russian writer Eugene Vodolazkin, and magisterially translated by Lisa Hayden. Vodolazkin is a medievalist as well as a novelist, and his portrait of the Middle Ages through the life of a young healer is one of the best ever, certainly since the great Sigrid Undset’s ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’. Laurus is an absolutely beautiful, magical novel, deeply spiritual yet playful, full of tragedy and joy, humour and grotesqueries, warmly human yet one of the most extraordinary examples of mysticism and the numinous in prose that I have ever read. It plays all sorts of tricks with language and structure and jumps from time to time yet it’s totally accessible and pacy. Just amazing! I would love to shake the author’s hand and thank him for such a wonderful reading experience, and also to talk at length about the Middle Ages, Russia, writing, spirituality.. There would be just so much to talk about!


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Aug 2, 2016 - Aussie SF Snapshot 2016, Guest Posts and Interviews    Comments Off on Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Lynette Noni

Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Lynette Noni

10730870_1510619605862580_1440370106279141236_n Lynette Noni is the author of the five-part young adult fantasy series, The Medoran Chronicles, described as a combination of Harry Potter, Narnia, and X-Men. Her first book, Akarnae, was released in 2015, with the second, Raelia, in April 2016, and the third, Draekora, coming out soon.

A regular panelist at national and local events, Lynette has featured at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Emerging Writers’ Festival (as part of the National Writers’ Conference), Supanova Pop Culture Exhibition, GenreCon, the National Young Writers’ Festival, Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, Voices on the Coast, and the Australian National Speculative Fiction Convention.

Lynette’s engaging world building and character development workshops make her a sought after presenter for schools, both local and interstate, and for National Youth Week activities. She presented this year’s inter-school Readers’ Cup in June for the Sunshine Coast region (on behalf of the Children’s Book Council of Australia) and has been invited back again for the August competition.

Lynette was one of the YA authors featured on the inaugural ABC Radio #OzYA broadcast earlier this year. She is also an active blogger at www.lynettenoni.com and has an impressive and rapidly growing international following.

akarnae

Your first two books, Akarnae and Raelia, have been released and Draekora looks to be well underway, what’s next for The Medoran Chronicles?

This is such a tough question to answer without giving away any spoilers! Let’s just say that in books three, four and five, Alex will have to face *cough*, *cough*, and *cough*… She’ll also struggle with *cough* and sadly, *cough*, but she’ll get through the aftermath by *cough* and with help from *cough* and, of course, *cough*. Believe me when I say *cough* will definitely be worth the *cough*.

… Fortunately, amid all that, Alex doesn’t have to suffer from a chest infection (just everything else you can imagine), so all of the above will happen without the actual coughing.

To be completely serious though, things to expect are plenty more action scenes, heaps and HEAPS of surprises (which shocked even me), some new and very important friends, some special times between old friends, some personality transplants between certain characters, lots of danger and intrigue, and plenty of backstory and continued worldbuilding and plot twists. And on top of all that, many more Library adventures. So all in all, exciting—and dangerous—times ahead!

You’ve also had a busy year with conventions, speaking engagements and festivals. What have been some highlights?

This year has been insane for me. I feel as if between March and July I pretty much lived out of a suitcase since I was touring so much. It was beyond surreal, and such a wonderful experience!

As for highlights, Supanova is always an incredible experience, and I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest at three tours in the last eighteen months, all of which were AMAZING. On top of that, speaking at Sydney Writers’ Festival, National Young Writers’ Festival, and Emerging Writers’ Festival were also brilliant experiences, as well as Bellingen Writers’ Festival and Voices on the Coast—and a whole heap of other opportunities, of which there are too many to note! Perhaps one of my favourite memories would have to be the ‘Medoran Chronicles Q&A’ that Dymocks (George Street) hosted for me while I was in the city for Sydney Writers’ Festival—that was basically a whole evening just to spend chatting about my books and characters, and it was incredible!

But to be completely honest, I have to say that what I love most about what I do is the people I get to meet along the way. The industry professionals, like other authors and publishers, etc., but even more, the readers who come along to meet me and get books signed. It’s because of my readers that I get to keep doing what I’m passionate about, and it is an absolute privilege to have the chance to meet them in person and say ‘thank you’.

Once The Medoran Chronicles are finished, do you think you’ll try your hand at another genre? Do you have any other projects waiting to be started?

Ha! Always! I have a gazillion folders on my laptop that say “DO NOT OPEN THIS YET!!!” and each have story concepts across multiple genres that I’ve jotted down for when I get the time to draft them fully. Fortunately, I’m a relatively speedy writer, but I currently have three on-the-go series that are taking all of my focus right now. The first is, of course, The Medoran Chronicles. But on top of that, I’ve written two other first-in-series books, both for trilogies. They’re also YA, but one is slanted more towards sci-fi (but still definitely fantasy), while the other is more… I guess you could call it magical realism. I absolutely can’t WAIT to share those other books with the world when the time is right!

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What Australian work have you loved recently?

One of my favourite reads from the last six months was Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I loved it from a storytelling perspective but also found the creativity fantastic. That book truly was a work of art, and I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel, Gemina later this year.

Another book I recently read was Jane Harper’s The Dry. It’s a thriller/crime and not something I would have perhaps normally have picked up at a bookstore for myself, but I was speaking on a panel with Jane in Melbourne last month and read her book on the plane trip there and back only to find myself immersed in the ‘Whodunit’ nature of the story. I was on the edge of my seat right until the end, which made it a pleasure to read!

Australia has many, many incredible authors—I could honestly go on and on forever with book recommendations!

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

It’s a total cliché, but I’m going to have to say J.K. Rowling. If only because I have SO many questions for her, especially about her writing process with the Harry Potter series. Having gone back to re-read it as an adult and as a now-published author, there are just so many things I would love to ask her. Not the least of which include the requisite, “WHY SIRIUS? WHY DOBBY? WHY FRED?” and I would probably continue with my list of ‘whys’ until our plane landed, long-haul flight or not.


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Jul 17, 2016 - Book Reviews    2 Comments

Book Review: GIVE THE DEVIL HIS DUE by Sulari Gentill

27169323 When Rowland Sinclair is invited to take his yellow Mercedes onto the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed, he agrees without caution or reserve.

But then people start to die.

The body of a journalist covering the race is found in a House of Horrors, an English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations is killed on the race track. and it seems that someone has Rowland in their sights.

A strange young reporter preoccupied with black magic, a mysterious vagabond, an up-and-coming actor by the name of Flynn, and ruthless bookmakers all add mayhem to the mix.

With danger presenting at every turn, and the brakes long since disengaged, Rowland Sinclair hurtles towards disaster with an artist, a poet and brazen sculptress along for the ride.

I love historical crime novels, and while this one is set in a later period than I usually read, that does not make it any less enjoyable. 1930s Australia is a brilliant era to play with, and Sulari Gentill does a fantastic job of it.

I’ve started this series with the seventh book, but this does not detract from the story at all. Starting from the first would give a better insight to the characters, but each book essentially stands alone.

The plot was fantastic, and the characters all wonderful. Rowland himself is a charming young man, and I really enjoyed his outlook on life. My absolute favourite though, was Edna Higgins – a woman quite determined to not conform to societal expectations of women in the most delightfully determined way.

The historical references were spot on, and having real life people move through the story was a very nice touch. I also really enjoyed the newspaper excerpts, they really added to the depth and authenticity of the book.

Fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will enjoy the Rowland Sinclair books, as will anyone that enjoys historical fiction in general.

Purchase: Booktopia | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jul 10, 2016 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: HALF A KING by Joe Abercrombie

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Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

 
The first time I encountered Joe Abercrombie, I was grabbing books at random in the Christchurch library. Best random grabby hands ever, as he’s now become one of my favourite authors.

Half a King feels like a slight departure from previous works. It’s shorter and snappier, which makes for a nice and easy read, but at times also left me longing for the complexity of previous series. Being a shorter novel than many in this category doesn’t take away from the fantastic writing, world-building, characterisation and plot.

I spent a lot of time unsure what to think about the main character, Yarvi. I love his tone and attitude, he’s quite sassy and I’m a sucker for that. But beyond that, he doesn’t have many redeeming features. That said, a large portion of the secondary characters more than made up for any of Yarvi’s shortcomings.

This series has officially been deemed YA and I’m not sure I see that. It’s definitely a great starting point for anyone wanting to check out epic fantasy without getting lost in something as long and complex as Game of Thrones, and I highly recommend it to any and all fantasy fans.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jul 1, 2016 - Read-A-Thon    No Comments

Trees of Reverie Read-a-thon Update!

I have been getting a lot more reading done this week than I usually would. Part of that is a temporary shift change at work, and part of it is wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS for the read-a-thon. I haven’t read much yet today, but I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far.

Books in Progress: 2
Books Completed: 4
Pages Read (Day): 0 (so far)
Pages Read (Total): 648

List of Completed Books:

  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • The Dagger’s Path by Glenda Larke
  • The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
  • Goldenhand by Garth Nix (incomplete ARC)

I still have a couple more days before this read-a-thon ends. I’m not sure I’ll finish a whole book but I’d like to reach 1000 pages read. That would make me very happy. Tomorrow I’ll post a couple more of the daily challenges.

Also, if you have already, please vote to choose what books I’ll be reading in the Make Me Read It! Read-A-Thon. There’s one week left until I’ll announce the list, and quite a few books are tied!

Jun 28, 2016 - Book Tour    1 Comment

Book Tour: Champagne and Lemonade by John Hickling

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Champagne & Lemonade is a delightful collection of eclectic short stories, taking readers on a journey to different times and places, meeting a sparkling cast of well-drawn characters.

Nibble the fish is desperate to escape his boring old pond.
A new breed of super hero has been born and his name is Bob Cheesecake.
Dumpton Hospital’s staff have a somewhat unconventional approach to looking after their patients.
Robert Hood is on a mission to save modern England.
And just who is the vampire terrorising the neighbourhood from his home at 113A Greenstone Street?
From the quixotic to the poignant, John A. D. Hickling’s wild and whimsical tales fizz with fun and are sure to entertain almost everyone!

I read the delightful Harry and… The Pirates of Rock Bay, which is a middle grade short story about Harry’s piratical adventure aboard his ship, the Mum and Dad. While very short, it took me about 10 mins to read, it has enough time to tell its story perfectly. This would make a great bedtime story for any child that enjoys adventure and excitement.

“Who on earth is that, Mr Mcgruff?” asked Captain Greed.“Why that’s Captain Harry Sparr, the bravest pirate there is by far,” Mr Mcgruff said to the angry looking Captain Greed.

About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com

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