Reading Matters Adelaide: ft. Shivaun Plozza and A.S. King

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On Tuesday night I made my way in to the city during peek hour traffic to attend the Reading Matters talk featuring two young adult authors; our own #LoveOzYA author Shivaun Plozza (Frankie) and A.S. King (recently Still Life with Tornado). Reading Matters has been doing so many talks with so many incredible authors all over Australia, so when I saw that there was going to be a talk in Adelaide (and for free) I knew that I was in!

I was only at the Penguin Teen Showcase last Tuesday where I got to meet Krystal Sutherland and Jennifer Niven (check out my blog post here -> https://alwaysandforeverreading.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/penguin-teen-aus-showcase-ft-jennifer-niven-and-krystal-sutherland/ ) which I had an amazing time at, so I was super excited to meet another two authors and hear them talk.

I’ve heard of Shivaun Plozza and followed her on Twitter and known about Frankie but I hadn’t read it (even thought I had planned to buy it for a long time). However, I hadn’t heard of A.S. King or her books before. So last week I went a picked up Frankie and Still Life With Tornado so that I could get them signed and read them eventually, but I didn’t have time to read them before the event. But I will definitely be picking them up soon because they both sound incredible.

So I caught the tram in to the city and couldn’t find where the stupid lecture theatre that the even was being held in. I awkwardly walked around the whole State Library main building for about fifteen minutes before walking out and realising that it’s in a whole separate building next door… this would only happen to me. But I made it in time and out of breath and slightly stressed. Yes, I could’ve just asked someone. But… shy….

So basically there was a lady (I can’t remember who she said she was) monitored the discussion and asked the authors questions about their books and writing and reading and basically the importance of it all. I found a lot of the things they were saying really interesting and inspiring and both had a lot of important things to say about the book and reading community.

Again, I realised after the even that I should have taken note on some of the things that they said, but I forgot. However, The YA Circle and Youth Literature were live tweeting (smart idea) and quotes some things that the authors said, so I’ll put some of my favourite ones below;

 

“Cut a sentence if it doesn’t advance a story or shed light on a character in any way” – A.S. King

“YA is a search for identity” – Shivaun Plozza

“Knowing that there is someone out there who has been through something you have, encourages resilience” – A.S. King

“These girls deserve to see themselves in a book” – Shivaun Plozza

“My work is for human beings” – A.S. King

 

They said so many more incredible and touching things and the conversation with the rest of the audience was really thought provoking. It made me remember just how important reading and writing is, and being able to represent as many different stories and people and experiences in to books is such a magical thing. I just love books… okay.

And then I got my books signed by both authors (YAY more signed books!) and I can’t wait to pick them up soon. I have three more review books on my TBR that I want to get to first, and then I’m going to pick them both up straight away.

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Comment below if you went to any of the Reading Matters talks and what authors spoke and what you learnt from it all.

Also let me know if you’ve read any books from these authors and what your thought son them are!

PENGUIN TEEN AUS SHOWCASE – ft. Jennifer Niven and Krystal Sutherland

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After seeing pictures and tweets from major book events in other cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, I felt so left out! And then I found out that Penguin Teen Aus Showcase was coming to Adelaide and my mood lifted. Of course I needed to go when I found out that Jennifer Niven (author of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE) and Australian author Krystal Sutherland (author of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS) were going to be there; I’ve read both of their YA contemporary books when they were released and loved them!

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Firstly, Penguin Teen Aus went through the books being published by Penguin in the upcoming months. There were so many that I cannot wait to get my hands on. I really wish I took notes of the books because that would have been really helpful… too late…

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And then Krystal and Jennifer came out and the girls from the YA Circle asked them a few questions. They talked about their books, how they started writing, their upcoming movie adaptations (which is really exciting!!!) and so much more. Once again, I really wish I took note on some of the things that they said because they said a lot of really great and inspirational stuff. Then they opened up the audience to ask some questions; a lot of them relating to how to get into writing, etc.

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After about an hour or so of that, we all lined up to get our books signed and get a photo taken. I was in the line for over half an hour (wearing uncomfortable shoes btw and thinking about how I needed to finish my part of a group assignment that night before I went to bed because we had a presentation tomorrow), but it was all worth it. I always feel really awkward and my shyness and introvertness really comes out when I go to signings like this. I want to tell the authors how much I love their books and how touching their stories are and how beautiful their writing is, but when I get up there I don’t say any of that. Besides, I felt bad because I heard someone tell them that they had 20 minutes before everyone needed to get out of the hall because an alarm would go off, and there were still so many people in the line behind me. But I got my books signed and my photo taken and I was so happy.

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I had a really great night and cannot wait to go to another author even like this one (I actually have one this coming Tuesday as well!). Krystal and Jennifer are both such incredible writers and I love both of their books, so I highly recommend picking them up if you haven’t already. Also, Krystal has another book coming out soon which I’m super excited to get my hands on soon!!!!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: J.M. Peace

*** This is an old interview that I did with author J.M. Peace on my old blog about five months ago. Since it was such a big opportunity, I decided that I would re-upload it here for you all to read!

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A couple months ago I was contacted by Pan Macmillan Publishing to see if I was interesting in joining the blog tour for J.M. Peace’s new novel The Twisted Knot. After reading the synopsis for this crime/ murder mystery novel, I was super excited to find out more!

“A marked man. A damaged cop. A town full of secrets.

After her abduction and near death at the hands of a sadistic killer, Constable Samantha Willis is back in the uniform. Despite being on desk duty, rumours reach Sammi that Someone in Angel’s Crossing has been hurting little girls, and before long a mob is gathering to make sure justice is served.

So when a man is found hanging in his shed, the locals assume the pedophile has finally given in to his guilt. That is, until Sammi delves further into the death and uncovers a dark family secret, an unsolved crime and a town desperate for vengeance.”

When I finished reading The Twisted Knot, I came up with a few questions for J.M. Peace, and here are her answers;

What encouraged/inspired you to start writing your first book?

A. I actually wrote my first book at the age of 17. Way back then, I already wanted to be an author. I got a side-tracked after finishing Uni but about 20 years later when I no longer had any interest in being a police officer and I asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life, I realised the answer still was “author”.

What encouraged/inspired you to start writing The Twisted Knot?

A. The Twisted Knot came about because publishers often go for a two book contract. So when I signed up for A Time To Run, I needed a strong synopsis for a second book as well. The seed of the idea came about from a conversation I had in the morgue with the forensic pathologist which I partially reproduced in the book. I also wanted to give a voice to the sense of frustration police feel at attempting to prove things to the standard required by the courts.

I loved The Twisted Knot and plan on reading A Time to Run soon. Which one is your favourite?

A. A Time To Run is my favourite. I really struggled with The Twisted Knot – I had a tough deadline for the first draft and then I had to edit it heavily. I no longer have any perspective on it. It’s been such a relief to see some lovely reviews of it because I had my doubts.

Can you relate to Sammi? Where did the inspiration of her character come from?

A. Pretty much all my characters are based on people I know. I imagine them as I write their scenes, considering what they’d say and how they’d react. When I write the character of Sammi, I ask myself – “what would I do?” So Sammi is based on me – not so much from the experiences she has, but from her attitudes and perspectives.

There was a wide range of different characters in The Twisted Knot. Who was your favourite to write about?

A. The murderer! I won’t spoil who it is but that was the character whose viewpoint I found most intriguing.

Do you find it easier writing murder mystery/ crime novels since you are a police officer? Would you ever consider writing another genre?

A. The only reason I am writing crime novels is because I am a police officer. It was a case of giving myself the best chance to be published by finding a story that I was most qualified to tell. As a police officer writing crime, I have ‘the voice of authority’. I would love to have a go at writing children’s books but there are just not enough hours in the day.

What is your favourite genre to read? Do you have any all time favourite books?

A. I don’t find a lot of time to read so when I do, it’s for relaxation and pleasure. I mostly read chick-lit. My all time favourite book is Lord Of The Rings. I went through a big sci-fi/fantasy phase when I was younger and had more time to read. I totally engaged with the world that Tolkein built in his stories.

When journalism didn’t turn out for you, what inspired you to become a police officer?

A. I didn’t want to be unemployed or stuck in an office at that point in my life. Becoming a police officer seemed like a good choice and it was for several years. I am an adventurous and curious person by nature, and policing exposes you to a wide range of situations that you would never usually experience. My attitudes changed once I had kids and now I would prefer the office job, out of harm’s way.

I was not expecting the ending to pan out the way it did! And I found the epilogue an almost cheerful and happy ending despite the events that occurred throughout the book. What made you go in this direction?

A. I can’t explain it completely without spoiling the plot line, but for me this had to be the way things ended – this was justice served. I personally enjoy a satisfying ending where things are tied off. As the subject matter of the book is grim, it felt right to end it with optimism.

Do you plan on writing any more stories from Sammi Willis’ perspective?

A. I am currently working on a third book for Sammi, involving a death in custody at Angel’s Crossing station. I have sketchy ideas for one more story after that. The third book is not under contract so I’m not sure at this stage if there will be any more chapters at all in Sammi’s story.

Be sure to check the book out on;

Pan Macmillan; http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781743538678

Goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30173445-the-twisted-knot?ac=1&from_search=true

J.M. Peace’s blog; https://jmpeace.com/

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Siobhan Curham

*** This is an old interview that I did with author Siobhan Curham on my old blog about five months ago. Since it was such a big opportunity, I decided that I would re-upload it here for you all to read!

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Last month I read ‘The Moonlight Dreamers’ by Siobhan Curham which was sent to me by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review. You can check out my review here; http://gabbytheblogger.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/review-moonlight-dreamers.html

This month, I was given the opportunity to interview Siobhan over email. I sent her a few questions and here are her answers;

How did the story idea of The Moonlight Dreamers come about?

SC: I wanted to write a novel that would encourage people to dare to dream. I’ve been writing for young adults for six years now and in that time, I’ve got to know loads of teen girls who have either emailed me or I’ve met at my workshops and talks. This has reminded me of how tough the teenage years can be. I believe that having a dream can make life a lot easier as it gives you something positive to focus on amongst all the exam stress and family / friendship issues and online life. My dream of becoming a writer got me through some very tough times in my own life.

My favourite Moonlight Dreamer would have to be Sky. Who is yours and why? Who do you relate to the most?

SC: I’m really pleased you like Sky as she’s probably the one who’s most similar to me and the one I can relate to most! My favourite to write was probably Rose because she’s fiery and passionate and not afraid to speak her mind – and I wish I could be a bit more like that sometimes.

Oscar Wilde is talked about alot in the book, especially since he is Amber’s hero. What made you choose Wilde, and who is your hero?

SC: When I was coming up with Amber’s character it made sense to me that she’d love Oscar Wilde. I think she can relate to him as a fellow outsider and his dry wit and sarcasm seems very in keeping with her character. My hero now and when I was a teen is Bruce Springsteen. His lyric are like poetry and I love the songs he writes about breaking out of small towns and making something of your life. I could so relate to that as a teen!

Each character is very different and have their own unique qualities. Was it difficult trying to come up with a diverse range of characters?

SC: I think I might have struggled if I’d had to come up with more but the four Moonlight Dreamers came to me quite quickly. I wanted to have someone quirky and original like Amber to come up with the idea for the Moonlight Dreamers in the first place and someone spiritual like Maali as I was really interested in exploring what it’s like to be religious as a teen in today’s society. Sky came about because I wanted to write a free-spirited, home-schooled, hippy-type character. Rose was the final character I came up with. My starting point for her was I wanted someone who would shake things up a bit; someone hot-headed who wouldn’t get along with everyone. I was also really interested in what it must be like to be the teen daughter of celebrities and living in that fishbowl at a time when you’re already feeling acutely self-conscious.

After reading The Moonlight Dreamers I knew I wanted to read more of your writing. What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

SC: Thank you! Actually, my favourite book is The Moonlight Dreamers as I think it’s the most ambitious thing I’ve written in terms of structure and style, but after that I’d say Finding Cherokee Brown, as it deals with bullying and finding yourself, which are subjects very close to my heart. And it features a road-trip to Paris!

What is your favourite genre and age group to write, and what is your favourite to read?

SC: I love writing YA novels about real life issues; novels that will hopefully uplift and inspire the reader without being cheesy or unrealistic. These are probably my favourite to read too – John Green and Jandy Nelson are my writing heroes.

I’ve noticed that you also do things outside writing books; blog, editorial consultant, journalism, and workshops. What is your favourite?

SC: Ooh, that’s so hard to answer as I love them all. If I had to pick one it would probably be my workshops. Something really special happens when you get a group of people together, whether it’s to work on writing or to talk about daring to dream. I love getting people to support and encourage and acknowledge each other – I find it really inspiring.

What book(s) influenced your life?

SC: When I was really young The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe blew my mind. The world the author created felt so real to me. And I was SO upset when I thought Aslan had died! That’s when I first realised how powerful books could be. Judy Blume’s books really helped me navigate my teens and the trials and tribulations that brought. And, as a woman, I find Maya Angelou’s books and poetry hugely inspiring.

I loved how The Moonlight Dreamers focused on friendship rather than the typical romance? What made you go in this direction? Did you ever plan on adding more romance?

SC: I’m so glad you liked that aspect as I was aware it was a bit of a gamble. I’m lucky enough to have some amazing female friends and I wanted to write a novel that celebrated the power of female friendship. There can be so much emphasis in books and movies on finding your soul mate and that it’s impossible to be happy until you do. I wanted to show how, with good friends and exciting dreams you can have a really full and adventurous life. I also wanted to counter certain elements of society that seem to encourage bitching and comparison amongst women and girls.

What has been the most rewarding part of your writing experience?

SC: Hearing from so many lovely readers. In the run up to The Moonlight Dreamers coming out I’ve been getting loads of amazing messages from readers in Australia who’ve read review copies and it blows my mind to think that something I wrote here in the UK could be having a positive effect on people on the other side of the world.

 

Check out Siobhan Curham and The Moonlight Dreamers here;

http://www.siobhancurham.co.uk/

http://www.walkerbooks.com.au/Books/The-Moonlight-Dreamers-9781406365825

https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/the-moonlight-dreamers-by-siobhan-curham-9781406365825/#.V4Bjyfl97IU

Thanks for reading! Comment below if you’ve read any of Siobhan Curham’s books!!!

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ‘GEMINA’ Book Launch!

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Tonight (last Thursday by the time this goes up) was my first ever book launch/book signing/ meeting an author ever!! I didn’t know what to expect, but I had an absolute blast. The book launch was hosted by The YA Circle at Dymock’s Adelaide for Gemina, the sequel to Illuminae. If you haven’t checked out Illuminae, I highly suggest you do because it is AMAZING! I’ve heard Gemina is even better and I can’t wait to pick it up asap.

ILLUMINAE SYNOPSIS; This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

GEMINA SYNOPSIS; Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

 

So I purchased my tickets for the launch night about a month ago because I knew I loved Illumine and Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing and really wanted to know more about them. I wasn’t 100% certain that I was going to attend since I was going on my own and this made me slightly anxious. However, I sucked it up and pretty much forced myself to shove my Illuminae book into my hand bag, get on that tram, and go to that book store. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet two amazing authors! Don’t ruin this for yourself, Gabby.  Barely any author comes to Adelaide – this might be your only chance!

Anyway, I’m so glad that I forced myself to go in the end because I had a great time. When I arrived at the store, the line up at the front was pretty long – a lot longer than I expected it to be. We were eventually let in and and I took the closest available seat to the front… which was in the second to last row. It was fine, really… I just had to keep bending my neck to see over the tall man who was sitting in front of me.

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Amie and Jay spent a lot of time talking and answering questions from us, and they are such funny and down to earth people. I remember at one point in the night they were telling a story that was completely off topic from the question that was asked, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face because they are just so DAMN funny! I was so happy with myself that I went, and I really would love to go to more author meet-ups.

They told stories about how they first met, came to writing Illuminae, where the idea came from, how they came up with the name, how writing Gemina went and what’s going to go down in the third book which they are editing at the moment. A couple of girls from the “audience” (I don’t know what else to call it) asked a few questions as well. They gave advice for aspiring writers, recommended some favourite books, and talked about the book that they plan on releasing over the next few years. This Q&A took about an hour and a half, but it honestly didn’t feel that long. It went so quick and I could’ve listened to them talking forever.

After that they spent ages trying to get a group photo of all of us. Jay and Amie also video’d us doing a ‘book wave’ which is essentially a ‘Mexican Wave’ but we were all holding up a copy of Gemina. I so badly just wanted to crank the book open and start reading it straight away. If I wasn’t midnight and I wasn’t so tried, I’d probably pick it up right now.

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I then spent about some time in the line trying to purchase a copy of Gemina. They had all of Amie and Jay’s other books on a stand, and I was so tempted to buy Nevernight and The Broken Stars, but the broke student inside me said NO! I then went into another line to meet Amie and Jay so they could sign both books for me. When I got to the front of the line, my nerves took over me and I don’t think I even got to tell them how much I loved their books and their writing! In my copy of Illuminae, Amie wrote, “Fight like a girl” and in my copy of Gemina, Jay wrote, “Take your shot.” I FREAKING LOVE THEM!! I also got a cute little pic with them and I probably said ‘thank you’ and they probably said ‘thanks for coming out’ but I don’t really remember because it was all such a rush!

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So that was my eventful night at the GEMINA book launch. If you ever get the chance to go to a book launch, author signing, or meetup I highly suggest you do because it was so much fun. And if you ever get the chance to meet Amie or Jay, make better conversation with them than I did. Also read Illuminae, Gemina, and their other books!

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