‘THE BUILD-UP SEASON’ review + Q&A with Megan Jacobson

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In anticipation for the upcoming release of ‘The Build-Up Season’ (July 31st) Megan Jacobson is going on a blog tour to promote this heartbreaking yet hopeful novel. Today, she has stopped off at my blog to answer a few questions. Also, check out my review of the book at the end, and yes, it is one of my favourite reads so far this year!

 

I just wanted to start off by saying that I LOVED The Build-Up Season and it’s a story that will stick with me for a long time! Also, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
(Thank you, dear human!)

1. The Build-Up Season is such an intense, emotional and thought provoking story. How did you come up with the idea and did you draw inspiration from anything?Again, thank you. I work in TV news production at the ABC and I’ve been really hyper-aware of the issue of domestic violence since covering the Rosie Batty story. It deeply affected me. Then a few years later we did a story about how women between the ages of 18 and 23 are twice as likely to experience DV than older women. This surprised me, as most of the abuse narrative we hear involve older women.

When I was in my early 20s I dated a guy who I now consider abusive, but I didn’t identify the relationship as unhealthy at the time because I hadn’t had enough experience to know what a healthy relationship should look like, or what my boundaries were. I was raised on the narrative that if a guy is controlling or jealous, then it just means he really loves you (hello Edward Cullen!) When my boyfriend pushed me to the ground or didn’t like me hanging with my friends or punched a wall, I didn’t classify it as abuse, because Hollywood told me that abusive relationships were black eyes and broken bones – and most of the time my boyfriend was actually pretty nice, and after he ‘lost his temper’ he seemed genuinely remorseful. It wasn’t as black and white as the Hollywood ‘monster myth’ with the woman staying because they feared for their lives. I loved him.

It shocked me, discovering just how many of my friends also experienced similar abuse in their early relationships. These are strong, confident, smart women. We didn’t see ourselves in the cowering, quiet archetypes we’d seen abuse victims depicted as in movies, so we didn’t see our own relationships as abusive. This is why I wanted to make Ily strong and feisty – to show how it can happen to anyone. I wanted to show Troy as the extreme end-point to violent behavior, but mostly I wanted to show the early signs, so that young women can identify what to look out for, and to identify what is and isn’t healthy in a relationship. I wanted to show the insidious way abuse ‘builds up’.

2. What was your writing process for The Build-Up Season? Was it different or similar to when you wrote Yellow?

The Build-Up Season was slightly easier, just because by then I’d already written one book, so in those moments I was despairing whether I could ever finish it, I had the confidence to keep going, because I knew I’d done it before.

With both books I had a few key characters in my head, and I wanted to discover the stories they fit into. I always start with the characters coming to me, then I have to follow them to see where they want to take me. Kirra was a quiet girl in a shadow who wanted me to follow her, Ily grabbed me with both hands, sticking her tongue out at me and not letting go as she dragged me along with her.

With both books I sat with the characters for ages, coaxing them to them talk to me, until I knew their stories. Then I’d start plotting the key scenes on index cards, and jotting sentences and imagery down on pages and pages of notes. Only once all of this has been done do I then start to actually write, and generally I write pretty quickly after the long marinating process.

So Iliad popped up in my consciousness and I actually wanted to write a completely different story with a different character, but she wouldn’t go away, so I had to abandon that original story to listen to her. I knew she had this fierce, defiant, vulnerable energy, and I knew her mum was a hippy, and I knew her name was ‘Iliad’, but I didn’t know why she would be called that. Sure, her mum was a hippy so would give her an unconventional name, but Eve is more likely to call a kid ‘Saffron’ or ‘Amethyst’ or something. It really confused me, but I knew in my bones that THAT was the character’s name. So I decided to explore it. I bought the book, Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ and read it, and it’s a story of the Trojan war, so it really fit this girl, who had this palpable sort of anger and fighting within her, but it still didn’t explain why her hippy mum would call her baby that.

Then I read the introduction to The Iliad, which gives context on the book. I learnt that ‘Ilium’ was the ancient Greek city of Troy, and that ‘Iliad’ means ‘in relation to Troy’. That was my ‘Ah ha!’ moment. I wondered, why would a child be called ‘in relation to Troy’? Who is Troy? And what kind of man would insist his child be named after him? That’s what began the story.

3. After reading The Build-Up Season I definitely want to pick up Yellow soon. Do you have a favourite?

DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN MY BABIES this isn’t Sophie’s Choice.

4. When did you start writing novels? Is it something that you’ve always wanted to do? What drew you to write young adult fiction?

Yellow is actually the first novel I’ve ever tried to write, there are no discarded manuscripts in my top drawer, but I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. I’d written short stories and poems ever since I learnt to spell, and then my first job after graduating was as a script assistant, then script storyliner, for a TV soap. That taught me so much about character, story and structure, and the importance of editing. My short stories were always about teenagers, but I strangely didn’t realise I was writing Young Adult. Those were just the ages of the characters who came to me. I was fascinated by that age, where people are finding themselves and discovering their own truths for the first time. Later I got work at the ABC teen drama ‘Dance Academy’ and it was better than any adult show I had ever written for. It was such a brilliant experience and it reminded me of how much I loved writing for that age group.

(okay, I just read this answer and OMG ‘Dance Academy’ is one of my favourite TV shows of all time! Okay, continue with the Q&A).

5. Do you read YA too? What are some of your favourite books?

Of course! My very favourite is ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath, which is both a literary classic and I’d say young adult, or at least new adult. Same with ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Cath Crowley’s ‘Graffitti Moon’ is pure poetry, as is anything written by Laini Taylor. Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ always makes me howl, even though every time I read it I know what’s coming. A sucker-punch is still a sucker-punch. Melina Marchetta’s ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ was the first Oz YA I ever read, and it’s been a favourite since. It was wonderful to see my own world depicted in print, and I quickly sought out and devoured Nick Earls’ ’48 Shades of Brown’ soon after. Sophie Hardcastle is a brilliant new talent who’s going to be a favourite for years to come. Kirsty Eager’s ‘Summer Skin’ is a masterpiece. Gah, there are so many more I want to list! In short, yes. Yes I do read YA, especially Australian YA.

(Um, I think we’re the same person!)

6. Ily is both a complex and relatable character who experiences a lot prior to and throughout the course of the novel. Is it important for you to write characters with a lot of depth and who a wide range of people can relate to?

Absolutely, I want to explore the emotional truths of every character I write. Ily might be angry and defensive, but it was the only way she could possibly be, with her background. I wrote it from instinct, but afterwards, to ensure I’d been sensitive to the topic, and to ensure I’d portrayed her accurately, I researched the impact of violent homes on children. It was uncanny, how all the traits listed in my research were present in Ily – the poor grades, the acting out, the withdrawal from friends, the finding herself in an abusive relationship. By making it first person, I wanted to show why she was acting in this way, and for the audience to understand her actions. I wanted to show that even though her words could come across as uncaring, she did care, deeply, and she shows this with her actions. She’s always trying to protect those around her, even though she tries to act like she doesn’t give a damn. We realise that her thorny words are just the protective shell she’s built around herself. I also have Indigenous nieces, nephews and great nephews, and they rarely get to see themselves in our stories. I wanted to create a character in Max which accurately portrays the Indigenous families I know, their humour, their strong sense of family, their connection to the land and their pride in their culture.

7. The Build-Up Season is set in Darwin and Ily visits a lot of sites throughout the story. Is there any specific reason you set the story in Darwin? Did including these sites help bring the story to life?

I always need to have a connection to the landscapes of all my stories. I feel such a pull towards the outdoors, and so the landscapes become almost characters in themselves. I spent my childhood in Darwin, and my sister and my nieces, nephews and great nephews still live, and the harsh beauty of the top end tugs at my soul. I wanted the weather to be a metaphor for the book, the relationship starts in the Dry Season, when it’s all endless sunny, blue-sky days, then as The Build-Up Season begins, so does the build up of bad behaviour. The air starts to tighten with humidity and it becomes more and more oppressive, and then the heat grips you like nothing else. This story couldn’t have been set in any other place.

Thank you so much again for taking the time to answer my questions!

You’re welcome, thanks for having me!

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And now for my review which ended up being a lot more detailed than anticipated because I had so many thoughts when I finished reading it a few weeks ago!

Illiad is a fierce and complex character who has experienced a lot in her seventeen years of life. I didn’t expect Illy’s path to go the way it went, after seeing the way her father treated her mother for so many years. But it was definitely a learning curve for Illy and me as a reader. It really showed how people can go through highs and lows despite appearing as strong and together. It was tough to read what she was going through and her thoughts, but I think it’s an integral story.

Domestic violence and violent relationships is a main topic in this book, and I was grateful to see this spoken about in a YA book. It is a massive issues that I’m sure a lot of people face, but it isn’t often that we get to read about it or educate ourselves on the issue and importance of respectful relationships. It was tough to read at times, and quite confronting, but I am so glad that Megan spoke about the topic in such a raw and authentic way. It was emotional, I had goosebumps and came close to tears, but it was real.

I had my doubts about Jared from the beginning. Eventually, I realised the importance that his character has to the story and the lesson in Illy’s life, it made me appreciate the story so much more. Max is the opposite to Jared and brings a lot of light to the story throughout, however, Illy doesn’t notice this. She’s blinded by Jared; and I think this is something that a lot of people can relate to.

Megan’s writing style is simple and casual, which made the book easy to read. I finished it in a couple hours not only because it’s short, but I couldn’t stop reading it. I also love reading books set in Australia (YAY for #LOVEOZYA) and even though I’ve never been to Darwin, it was so cool to learn more about it.

Overall, this is an incredible story about a troubled teen who doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but is finding it harder than imaginable. I went on a roller coaster of emotions, but those are always my favourite stories! I highly recommend picking up THE BUILD-UP SEASON. This is up there with my favourite books of 2017 so far.

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Q&A with Fleur Ferris – author of ‘WRECK’

 

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In anticipation for the upcoming release of ‘Wreck’ (July 3rd) Fleur Ferris is going on a blog tour to promote this wonderful and thrilling novel. Today, she has stopped off at my blog to answer a few questions.

I read ‘Wreck’ a few weeks ago and (spoiler) I really enjoyed it! If you’re looking for a captivating and thrilling mystery, then I highly recommend ‘Wreck’. My review for this will be up after its release. For more details on ‘Wreck’, check the synopsis at the bottom of this post. But without further ado, here is the Q&A.

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed reading ‘Wreck’ and cannot wait to read more of your work!

Thank you very much for these fantastic questions. They really made me think!

 

1. WRECK is such a thrilling and suspenseful read. How did you come up with the idea and did you draw inspiration from anything?

I drew inspiration from a number of sources when coming up with the plot for Wreck. Whenever I heard of the discovery of a floating note at sea I wondered how long it had been floating for, how far it had travelled, who sent it, were they still alive, what did the note say. Often the discovery of these notes made world news and sometimes the sender, or members of their family, were tracked down. These stories got me thinking… What if the floating note wasn’t a wonderful discovery? What if it revealed something sinister? What if the person who found it was unknowingly thrust into danger simply because they had possession of it, simply because they had seen it? What if the note indicated or revealed something someone wanted concealed? For the discoverer, it would be as unfair as it was random and they would be completely blindsided by what was coming.

Instantly, my protagonist, Tamara, came to life in my mind. I knew where she lived, that she was the girl-next-door type of girl, excited by her goals and aspirations and about to move out of home and commence university. But instead of chasing her dreams she is running for her life.

 

2. After reading WRECK I definitely plan on picking up your other books. What was your favourite one to write and what would be your favourite to read?

I think BLACK was my favourite to write because Ebony was such a fun and fierce character. I also loved writing Ebony’s interaction with Ed and Aiden and her conflicts with Ged.

Writing BLACK also brought along surprises. For instance, what happened to Ged in the middle of the book shocked me – my original plan for that plotline was different – but suddenly there it was in front of me, written on the screen. I stopped writing and walked around questioning, Can I do that her? Can I do that to a reader? It made me feel a bit sick, but I decided it was right for the story, and my job as a writer is first and foremost being true to the story I’m telling.

The one thing that slowed me down while writing BLACK was the villain. He creeped me out so much I couldn’t write at night.

The whole story was so vivid and alive in my mind that I lived and breathed it during the writing process.

I can’t say which of my three books I’d rather read. I’ve read them all so many times I’m not sure I’d ever want to read any of them again.

 

3. I read on your website that you worked as a police officer and paramedic. What made you want to write a novel in the first place and is it something you’ve always been interested in?

In 2003 I wrote a short story and it was published in Woman’s Day. This sparked me to write more. Over the years, while I was a police officer and paramedic, I wrote novels that I never let anyone read. I knew in my early twenties that one day I wanted to be a published novelist but it wasn’t until I had children and left the Ambulance Service that I focused on writing for publication. I managed to get a pitch session with Tara Wynne of Curtis Brown Australia and she agreed to read my work. A few weeks later Tara offered representation. RISK (which was my sixth novel) was picked up by Penguin Random House and (thankfully) they have continued to publish my work since then.

 

4. More specific to the last question, why did you decide to write young adult fiction? Do you read young adult? If so, what’s your favourite young adult book?

So far I have written nine novels and numerous picture books: adult fiction x 2, adult non-fiction x 1, young adult sci-fi x 1, young adult contemporary thriller x 4, middle grade fantasy x 1. The reason I write young adult fiction is because I felt my young adult books were my strongest and therefore submitted them to my agent. After RISK was published, I focused on writing thrillers for teens, hoping to build my brand in this field and carve out a writing career. I love writing for young adults but I hope older adults can enjoy my books, too.

I read young adult fiction by local and international authors. I don’t have just one favourite YA book, so I will list a few. A shadow’s Breath by Nicole Hayes is brilliant. I love anything by Rebecca James and Ellie Marney. The Hunger Games and Divergent Series were books I devoured. My current read is Shield by Rachael Craw. Gabrielle Tozer is producing great work and one of my all-time favourites is Pieces Of Sky by Trinity Doyle.

 

5. Are mystery and thrillers something you have always been interested in? Did your previous jobs have something to do with this?

My love for the mystery thrillers started when I was a teenager. My mum was (and still is) an avid reader of this genre and so that is what was on our bookshelves at home. My past careers in police and ambulance services have certainly exposed me to situations I now draw from when writing my books. I do not include the real life situations I experienced, but I do give fictitious characters in fictitious scenarios the emotions that I felt in similar ones.

 

6. Tamara is such a brave character and her development is evident throughout the course of WRECK. Is it important for you to write strong female characters and break away from the “damsel in distress” stereotype.

To be honest it isn’t something I think about. I write contemporary and, as far as I can see, young women of today are not brought up to be damsels in distress, they are brought up to be resourceful, problem solvers, adaptable, and courageous. I hope my characters reflect the young women of today, and how they might behave should they ever face a similar situation.

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Thanks so much again to Fleur for taking the time to answer these questions. Comment below if you’ve read any of Fleur’s books and if you plan on picking up ‘Wreck’ next month.

Tamara Bennett is going to be the first journalist to strictly report only good news. Finished with high school, Tamara is ready to say goodbye to her sleepy little town and part-time job at the local paper. O-weeks awaits, which means parties, cute boys and settling into student res with her best friend Relle. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when she arrives home to find her house ransacked and her life in danger. What is this mysterious note? And why does it mean so much to one of Australia’s most powerful media moguls? Caught between a bitter rivalry and dangerous family secret, who can Tamara trust? Or should she trust herself?

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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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