Tag Archives: #Q&A

Nadia L. King: Q&A

Thank you, Nadia, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. The very best of luck for your next piece and I hope we’ll get to read it soon 🙂

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Milk

Coffee or Tea? Tea

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? Envelopes and postcards

Plot or Character? Character

HEA or unexpected twist? Unexpected twist

Q: Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer?

A: Once I learnt to read I was one of those kids who always had her nose in a book. I had a short stint working as a journalist and a successful career in corporate communications. When my husband and I started a family I found my hands full raising our daughters. For years I read everything in sight without penning a single word. Then in 2015 after a case of extremely itchy fingers I started writing fiction. Finally in my forties I find myself working hard at a career in which I had always been drawn to but had never had the courage to pursue.

Q: Was there a lot of research involved in writing Jenna’s Truth? Was there a particular fact or 2 you found during research that surprised you? What were they?

A: The protagonist in Jenna’s Truth is a teenage girl who decides to end her life after being bullied. Because I was writing for a young adult audience I was very cognisant of not giving a how-to lesson in suicide. I decided on drowning and then researched what it feels like to drown, how difficult it is, the physical limitations of drowning, and the injuries that can be sustained. I had this rather romantic notion that you could just walk into a lake or something, take your last breath and die, but drowning isn’t like that and it’s quite difficult to do. Your body will fight drowning until the last moment and it’s an incredibly painful process.

Q: These are very difficult themes to tackle in such a short story! How did you feel about writing the things that happened to Jenna in the story? Was this story ever meant to be a longer one or how did you decide it to be a short story?

A: I feel as if the story of Jenna’s Truth chose me rather than the other way around. In the book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about stories finding their storytellers and Jenna’s Truth felt very much like that. I wanted the story to be as accessible to many as teens as possible so a novella seemed the perfect length. In a classroom context, the story can be read in one sitting. Jenna’s Truth has been positively received by school libraries who often use it with reluctant readers.

Q: It’s mentioned in the book that you actually learned of Amanda Todd from your own teenaged daughter. I must admit that I’ve been anxious about cyber safety for my son even when he was only 3… He’s 8 now and I’m ever more anxious! What are some practical tips you can share with us parents?

A: In my experience the most important thing you can do in parenting is to have an open and engaged relationship with your kids. Keeping the lines of communication open means being honest with your kids. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we’re perfect, so role modelling being open and authentic seems to me a good pathway to take. From a cyberbullying perspective, don’t be afraid to block the haters and trolls and to report any abusive social media posts. Retain evidence of cyberbullying and visit https://www.esafety.gov.au for the most up to date information and advice.

Q: What are your top reads for 2018 to date? And which book are you desperately waiting for publication?

A: Some of the great books I’ve read this year include:

Books I can’t wait to read:

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next?

A: Publication can be such a long road. I’ve written a young adult novel about a boy who loves manga and struggles against his abusive father. It has elements of magical realism to lighten the heavy subject matter. The manuscript is currently out on submission and I have no idea if a publisher will want it. I have started another young adult novel based in a small outback country town and have a few other projects on the go. Cross your fingers for me!

You can check out my thoughts on Jenna’s Truth, here, and you can purchase it from following links: Booktopia  |  B&N  |  Boffins Books  |  foyles  |  Serenity Press

About the author

Australian author, Nadia L King, was born in Dublin, Ireland. Nadia is a YA author and short story writer.  She is passionate about using stories to connect with teens. Nadia is a particularly hopeless horse rider but she enjoyed that one time she rode an ostrich. She also loves riding camels, and hopes to one day ride an elephant.  Nadia lives in Western Australia with her family. 

Find Elizabeth on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram

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Kim Lock: Q&A

Thank you, Kim, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing.

Quick Qs
Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Milk

Coffee or Tea? Definitely tea.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I have approximately 1000 bookmarks. There is always one lying around.

Plot or Character? Both! Also voice.

HEA or unexpected twist? Anything that suits the story, and is well executed.

Q: How long have you been writing and/or reading? Have the written words always been a big part of your life?
A: I’ve been reading (and writing) for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child I have
always had a book with me; I grew up with The Baby-Sitters Club, The Gymnasts and Nancy Drew.
My first ‘novels’ were written on a typewriter, cut down into little pages and stapled into books. I
still have them! They have intriguing titles such as, ‘I Want Some Cake’ and ‘The Mushroom Ring at the Bottom of My Garden’.

Q: Could you please share with us your publication journey?
A: After spending several years working on a manuscript alone, my debut novel was picked up from the ‘slush pile’ of an independent press, which gave me great insights into revision and editing as well as invaluable industry experience. My second novel was selected to participate in the QWC/Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program in 2013, and it was after this that I signed with my agent and was offered a two-book contract with Pan Macmillan Australia – those books are Like I Can Love and The Three of Us.

Q: So far, ‘motherhood’ seems to play a big part in your novels… is there any particular scene that was actually a real life incident? Could you also share with us your motherhood journey so far? How are you finding juggling kids and writing?
A: Though no scenes (so far!) are based on any of my own real life experiences, I certainly draw on my own feelings when writing characters’ ‘motherhoods’. When my first baby was born, one of the particular challenges, for me, was trying to reconcile the disparity between how I thought I was supposed to feel (in love, tender, deferential) and how I actually did feel – which was often
bewildered and lonely! The biologically female act of childbearing isn’t always easy in a male-centric world. So I think there are lots of conversations to be had there.
To answer your question about kids and writing – I write when I can! I have to be flexible. Some days I’m able to write a lot, and some days I’m not able to write at all. I spend a lot of time mulling stories over in my head and jotting down notes.

Q: How do you write? Are you a planner? Do you chart a plot before you start writing? Do you listen to music while writing? Just for fun, could you share a picture of your workspace with us (especially if you mainly write at home)
A: That’s a great question! Each book has been slightly different, but I’m definitely not a planner. I begin with a basic idea, a character’s name, and perhaps a rough idea of setting. Then I just start writing, keep writing, and see what comes up. I’m pretty linear – I write from the beginning to the end, with only the occasional deviation if something strikes. My first drafts are awful things, terribly rough, and there are usually tens of thousands of words that get dumped and rewritten within the first few drafts. It’s usually around draft three or four when I’ll write something of a scene map. I can be several drafts in and still adding or subtracting or fixing major storylines. (Luckily for me, I thoroughly enjoy editing.) I’m one of those writers who needs quiet – I find music too distracting. It’s why I also can’t write in cafes or public libraries. I write in my home office with the door closed, or when I’m home alone, or sometimes in the car.

 

My desk is a complete mess! There’s always a rotation of books coming and going, trinkets and pieces of craft that the kids bring me, notebooks and draft manuscripts piling up. My pride and joy is a beautiful Orée keyboard, a treat that I bought myself with a book advance. Please don’t mind the grotty window …

Q: I see you also work as freelance graphic designer, did you design your own covers and/or how much say do you have with your covers?
A: My first novel was published by a small press, and I had the unique experience of being able to design my own cover (with a brief from the publisher, of course!). With my next two books, I was able to enjoy the experience of taking my designer hat off, and just being the author. Which I have loved!

Q: Congratulations on the publication of your Third book (fifth baby?) What’s next for you, Kim?
A: Thank you, Tien! It’s been an amazing three years in the making, this one. I have another book in the works, but this one seems to be coming through a little slower. But I’m taking plenty of notes, and daydreaming…

Q: Please share with us: your top 5 reads in 2017 and your 5 most anticipated releases in 2018

Oh, it’s always hard to narrow it down! A non-exhaustive selection of books that I read last year and loved (not necessarily published in 2017): Plane Tree Drive by Lynette Washington; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; I Am, I Am, I Am, by Maggie O’Farrell; Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.
And no doubt 2018 will deliver plenty of excellent books, but here’s just a few I’m looking forward to: The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht (March); Trick of the Light by Laura Elvery (March); You Wish by Lia Weston (April); and, later in the year, new books from Sarah Ridout and Les Zig.

 

 

You can check out my thoughts on Kim’s books by clicking on these links: Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks, Like I Can Love, The Three of Us

About the author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald onlineShe lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Elizabeth Foster: Q&A

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. I’ve loved Esme’s adventure in magical Aeolia and can’t wait for book 2!

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?

Impossible choice! I love chocolate in all its forms and eat too much of both. Easter is a dangerous time for me!

Coffee or Tea?

I adore coffee but limit myself to one a day – I love the buzz but my adrenals don’t. Peppermint tea is my next beverage of choice.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark?

I never dog-ear but I do write all over books, marking passages I love. I usually use bookmarks to keep my place. There are so many gorgeous ones to choose from.

Plot or Character?

My ideal reads have a focus on both. I like beautiful writing, which I feel is found more often in character-driven stories, but I also like to feel that the story is going somewhere.

HEA or unexpected twist?

I prefer a story that leaves me with a bit of hope but I’m also partial to a good twist along the way!

Q: Could you please share with us your publication journey?

A: Esme’s Wish took around nine years to come into being, from first idea to published book. I really had no idea what it would take to write a publishable novel, and naively thought it would take only a couple of years. I soon realized there is a huge amount of work involved! I persevered through many rewrites, taking on board suggestions for improvement, until the story was the best I could make it. Esme’s Wish finally made it out of the slush pile at Odyssey Books, who are publishing all three books in the series.

Q: I see that you loved Narnia & Enid Blyton and hence the ‘step into a magical world’ in Esme’s Wish. Aside from these classics, was there any particular real life incidents that inspired you to write this book?

A: Esme’s Wish began as a family project. I started writing the book with my then fourteen-year-old son, Chris. The initial impetus came at the end of the Harry Potter series, when I missed the world J.K. Rowling had created and decided to write a ‘feel good’ story of my own. Once I started writing, I felt more fulfilled and happier all round, so I just kept going! My son eventually decided to write a series of his own and we now edit each other’s work.

Q: What was the inspiration of ‘Esperance’? It sounds rather like Venice but with Greek culture?

A: I always envisioned that much of the story would take place in a canal city and the first one that came to mind was Venice. While a real-life city, to me Venice also has an otherworldly dreaminess all of its own. I visited twice during the long writing of the book and could easily imagine dragons flying over its rooftops! When it came to the Greek influences, I found that references to Homer’s Odyssey kept creeping into the story so I just ran with it.

Q: I can’t get past that opening scene! It’s not something that I’d be brave enough to do, facing off the whole village. When did you actually write this scene? Was this the first scene you wrote for the book or last?

A: That opening scene was written first. Every chapter needed plenty of rewriting, but the scene in the church stayed pretty much intact. I was a fairly quiet teenager, and I would never have objected at a wedding either! Fortunately writing gives you the freedom to do all sorts of things on the page that you might never be game to do in real life.

Q: How did you design the magic system? There seems to be a fascination with water?

A: You’re right about that! I love the ocean and water – as many Aussies do – so I knew it would feature in whatever I wrote. Water is a huge part of our world and often taken for granted, so I was happy to give it a starring role! With regards to the magic system, I made an effort to come up with Gifts that I hadn’t seen dozens of times in other stories, and when I did use a common magical trope, I tried to put my own spin on it.

Q: How many books in the series do you anticipate or have planned for? And what can we expect from Esme in these books?

A: There are three books planned in the series and I am almost halfway through writing the second. The series ages with the protagonist, so Esme turns sixteen in book two. In the first book, Esme is a little stuck in the past, due to the loss of her mother and the alienation she has experienced. She’s still playing catch up on things she missed out on as a child. However, in book two, entitled Esme’s Gift, Esme faces more of the typical challenges of her age group. She goes to school in Esperance and also explores the wider world of Aeolia on a special quest.

I don’t want to give too much away but expect more of the whimsy of book one, interwoven with some darker coming-of-age themes. The first book seems to appeal to preteens keen to step up to YA as well as younger teens and serves as a good introduction to the series. However, the next two are more firmly in YA readership territory and are likely to be more suited for ages twelve and up.

Q: Please share with us: your top 5 reads in 2017 and your 5 most anticipated releases in 2018

A: I am a slow reader and at least half the books I read are classics. My tastes are eclectic: my favourite books in 2017 were Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I also enjoyed a couple of dystopian novels, one old and one new: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (the basis for the movie Blade Runner) and The Pale by Clare Rhoden (another Odyssey author.)

Here’s five new releases I’m keen to read in 2018. The last three in the list are all debut novels by Australian authors.  

The Surface Breaks by Susan O’Neill, a feminist retelling of the The Little Mermaid.

The Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor’s sequel to Strange the Dreamer.

The Way Home, the first in the Ashes of Olympus trilogy by Julian Barr, a YA historical fantasy based on Greek myth. (Odyssey Books.)

Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron, a contemporary mystery set on a small island off the coast of Australia. (Midnight Sun.)

Small Spaces, a YA psychological thriller by Sarah Epstein. (Walker Books.)

You can check out my thoughts on Esme’s Wish, here, and you can purchase it, here 

About the author

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Find Elizabeth on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram  | pinterest

The Peony Lantern: Q&A

I mentioned yesterday in my review of The Peony Lantern that we were able to ask questions to Frances Watts as we read along.  Here are the Q&As (excluding spoilers).  I’ve also removed names except for mine or Frances.

the peony lantern

Q: Frances, love the cover for The Peony Lantern! Did you choose it?
A: So glad you like it! It’s all the work of the wonderful designer at HarperCollins – with some special criteria I supplied to make sure the girl was true to Kasumi in the book.

Q: The haiku are beautiful! Did you write them, Frances?
A: I did write the haiku, Tien – thank you so much for noticing them!

Q: Did you write the haiku after the book? Is there a particular reason there are haiku? Is it just to replace headings? Or just to set the atmosphere for the chapter?
A: I did write the haiku last – I liked the idea of including a form of literature unique to Japan and, as you suggest, Tien, felt they would add to the atmosphere. That marriage of simplicity and minimalism with depth makes haiku so beautiful.

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Left: Setting for chapter 1 ~ the village of Tsumago
Right: The torii at the foot of the shrine

Q: Are there actually 65 steps there? Did you count or was it a local knowledge? Is that a significant number?
A: Yes, there are 65 steps (I counted) but I don’t think the number was significant. I just liked that the shrine was high above the village, in the trees, and wanted to give a sense of the climb.

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Left: The Torii pass on the Nakasendo Highway (chapter 3)
Right: A summer kimono – note the cooling design

Q: Is the story about the samurai and the servant and the broken plate based on a real
folk tale?
A: The story about the samurai, the servant and the broken plate is an actual Japanese
ghost story.

Q: I was trying to look up an image of a peony lantern but all I get is the ghost story… is a peony lantern different from a normal lantern? How?
A: A peony lantern is basically a lantern with peonies painted on the rice paper. If you google images of “peony lantern” you can find illustrations of the story with the lantern pictured. (There are lots of variations.)

wpid-img-20150825-wa0003.jpgQ: Frances, how did you research flower arrangements?
A:This is how I researched flower arrangements!  I did an ikebana class in Tokyo.  SO difficult, I am not a natural!

Q: Frances, is it a low – born female thing back then? That they’re not being taught to read / write.
A: I’m afraid educating low-born girls wasn’t a priority – especially in the country areas.

Q: Do you have any pics of Edo?
A: And here’s an amazing fact: Edo is what Tokyo was called until 1868, when the shogunate ended.

Q: Frances, the beauty prints that Isamu shows to Kasumi in the book sounds interesting. Are they like posters?
A: They were a little like posters – about A4 in size.wpid-img-20150831-wa0002.jpg

Q: is there any significance to this painting other than the feeling that it triggered in Kasumi?  I thought, at first, it’s somewhat equivalent to “Playboy” or something lol Please correct me, Frances hahaha… in my defence, Isamu is a teen & a boy ;p
A: Interesting question about the beauty print! The women were fully dressed, I can assure you! I think Isamu’s interest was artistic

Q: Oh I realise they’re fully dressed but the mention of the way the line was of the neck etc… made it sound a little more risqué ;p
A: The bare nape of the neck was considered rather risqué!

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Left: The inscription is the artist’s description of seeing the moon on a beautiful night in mid-autumn.
Right: A kaiawase

wpid-img-20150816-wa0001.jpgFrances Watts was born in Switzerland and grew up in Australia. She has published 20 books for children, including picture books and books for younger readers, including Goodnight Mice!, the winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction, and 2008 Children’s Book Council of Australia award-winnerParsley Rabbit’s Book about Books. Her latest book, The Raven’s Wing, is her first novel for young adults. Frances lives in Sydney and divides her time between writing and editing.

Pictured on left: Frances on her research tour in Tokyo; in front of a temple in Ueno Park

My thanks to Frances Watts and the ladies at Read3r’Z Re-Vu