Author Interview: Kaz Delaney

This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re celebrating the arrival of two new bloggers with round-robin interviews, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our newbies, Kaz Delaney. Kaz is the award-winning author of YA novels, Dead, Actually, Almost Dead and The Reluctant Jillaroo. So to kick things off I’ll ask the obvious question writers get;

  1. What made you want to be a writer?

I truly believe I didn’t have a choice with this authorly gig. My earliest memories are of stories playing out in my head – and yes that sounds creepy and probably is/was. It’s never gone away and I can’t stop. There’s no ‘off’ button. And while that’s a blessing and I’m enjoying a lovely career that’s spanned a couple of decades, I gotta say it can also be a curse. Like sometimes – okay, not often – but sometimes I’d just like to hang out a ‘no vacancies’ sign. You know? Sometimes it’s very tiring carrying around so many people and situations in your head. #needabiggerhead. Ha!

  1. Which authors do you most admire, and why?

OO! Holding up crossed fingers. Like I’m scaring off a werewolf or something. This is pretty much a taboo question for me. It’s a brain exploding question. I truly couldn’t begin to list them. Basically I’m a genre gal and I love trying new authors in those genres.

  1. How do you maintain your motivation during the rough times?

There are different kinds of rough times. For those times when for physical reasons I can’t get to a computer or scratch out time to write, I simply try to keep the goal in sight. Maybe keeping my motivation alive is a better way of looking at it. It’s a beast and it’s gotta be fed. So, I think about stories, play them out in my head. Jot down notes when I can. Play ‘what if’.

For times when I can’t write due to extreme emotional or health reasons and my muse puts out the Do Not Disturb sign? I read. Reading is another way of feeding the beast.

The thing I’ve learned is not to panic if I’m feeling ‘empty’. I’ve learned my creativity will be there waiting for when I’m ready. And it’s usually got a few nice surprises for me. And an idea is the best motivation to get going again. Right?

  1. Did you have to give up anything to make this all happen, and do you regret any of it?

OMG – are you talking about sleep?? Says she typing this at 4am! No, seriously, any form of success or self actualisation is likely to require sacrifice of some kind. That’s life. Mine is probably family time, though I try to balance and be fair. They understand that I have commitments and deadlines. It’s clever to be aware, though, if your sacrifice is something like this – that it’s a two way street. If you’re sacrificing family time then the family is as well. Make them proud but don’t make them pay. Find the balance.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantser, and is you current system working for you?

Plantser all the way! Ha! Obviously I’m neither. I used to think I was a plotter because I can’t begin a story until I have all my ducks in a row. That is – know my characters, the conflict, their motivations, setting and the general story line.  But I realised one day that I’m not really a plotter; that I simply need this information to start writing.

Sure, I need a jump off point, but after that? Basically I know the beginning of the story and who populates it. I know how I think it will end and I ‘might’ know the black point. But how I fill the space between the beginning and the end? That’s an organic process and the characters dictate that journey. Rarely do they lead me astray. But that’s probably because I’m a huge GMC fan. Goal Motivation Conflict.  I always need to know that before I start.

  1. What feeling do you want readers to get from what you write?

Satisfaction, I guess. A sense that these people/characters they’ve devoted their time to are worth it; that they care what happens next. I always judge a great book by how long it stays with me after I’m finished reading. That’s what I want: the reader to be thinking about my characters and their story the next day at school or driving to work. Or as they drift off to sleep.

  1. What are the biggest struggles you face in this journey, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Hard question. A bit like stones being tossed up by a passing truck, things are often going to be thrown at your career. Like the truck thing, they’re random. You might not expect them and you’ll never know when they’re coming.

Over the years I’ve had agent issues, publishers closing or closing the line you write for as well as personal issues determined to derail.

I thought back to the last of these soul searing events and here’s how I coped. I gathered my people. My author friends. Those who’ve been on this journey with me for a long time. We ate, we drank, we talked and we planned.

Yes, I’m very, very lucky to have them. They’re my backup. They’re brutally honest and yet fiercely loyal. They won’t blow hot air up my skirt. But out of the train crash inside my head, they help me to find the pieces and put them back together again. I came away with a plan and direction. It was all there in my head, they just saw through the smog.

If you don’t have such a group, find one. If you can’t find a physical group to join, online groups abound for whatever you write. You’ll find your soulmates.

  1. Will or have you entered any writing contests and if so how did you fair.

I’ve always been incredibly lucky in contests – I’ve always finalled and I’ve been fortunate to have been honoured with industry awards. But while I think the contests are great, I’m not sure they helped me personally with my career because I entered contests after I was already published.

That said, I recommend them. What they will do is give you a sense of where you stand in the scale of things. Contest feedback can be invaluable – whether you agree with the comments or not. Most have multiple judges though and if they’re all saying the same thing, or giving you the same-ish score – then you’d be a bit silly not to take heed.

  1. What are you working on at the minute?

Right at this minute the work is a bit of a departure, actually. My agent and I have been tossing around an adult suspense idea for a couple of years and now is the time to try it out. It’s huge fun. Like ditching school for the day – but with the added bonus of having permission! The next YA is back in the rural arena. More girls and horses! And very cute heroes!

  1. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

My website is being rebuilt! But soon you’ll find it at http://www.kazdelaney.com.au

Most of the news and action is on my blog: The Ditzy Diva – Kaz Delaney WordPress. I’d love you to drop by! https://wordpress.com/post/kazdelaney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kaz-Delaney-author-180831465352841/

Twitter: @readKazdelaney
I hope you all enjoyed finding out a little more about Kaz. If there is something you would like to know that I didn’t cover, you can drop her a question in the comments.

I am looking forward to reading more from Kaz, and again I want to welcome her to Aussie Owned and Read.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.

Review: Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold (Romance a Medieval Fairytale #1) by Demelza Carlton

A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

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With the live action film Beauty and the Beast set to hit screens in only a few short weeks (yes I have my Chicks at the flicks tickets already) I was excited to read this retelling of a much loved old tale. Now I do not know about you, but when I read a name, I often read it all kinds of wrong. The MC of this story is named Zuleika, now this was not an easy name to wrap my head around, my brain read it as Zoo-lee-ka, I hope that is right. If not, my apologies to Demelza Carlton.

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Zuleika is the ‘Belle’ of this story and a witch, the same witch that is responsible for the curse on the prince. This twist was a fantastic set up to the story, and her conflict with the king was a fantastic way to steer the story towards the prince without feeling like you were just going through plot setup.

About 1/3 in, Zuleika is faced with the beast and the town he lives in, and it is then that she should have known it was her curse immediately, but for some reason she doesn’t figure it out herself till much later on. I would have liked to have her acknowledgement of her curse to herself as soon as she sees the beast and the town. Then the conflict with trying to figure out if she should, or how she can remove the curse could unfold in a more believable timeline.

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In all stories we need to get a feel for who the MC is and what drives them, I would have loved to get to know Zuleika better before being thrown into the Belle/Beast plot line, but Demelza has still managed to create likable characters that are both believable and engaging none the less.

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I enjoyed the overall plot, but did feel like it was missing some heft in the middle of the story.  Perhaps another 10,000 words could have helped me to feel stated, but that does not mean I did not enjoy it. A good book should have you wanting to read more, but a great book has you feeling like the story was played out and wishing you could go back to a time where you had not began the story, just so you could start over and experience it all again for the first time.

A solid 3.5 stars. I took one star off for the unfulfilled potential of the story itself, and a half star off for the title. ‘Enchant’ though on the cover looks really pretty, the word itself is a little too sharp for me, especially with such a heart warming story. Read it if you love retellings, or just need a Beauty and the Beast fix before the live action hits us in a few weeks.

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 Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book. you can find her on Facebook here.

Review: Tainted Blood (Dramir #1) by Yajna Ramnath

Welcome to Dramir, a city where the blood never stops flowing

The streets of Dramir have always been protected under the rule of the reigning King. It was all because of his not so secret weapon.

A weapon they called the assassin. A weapon with long-dark hair, savage soulless eyes and a body built for sin.

She wielded a sword as one would breathe air. She danced in blood as one would dance in rain. She laughed in the face of death as one would laugh at a bad joke.

It was believed that the day the assassin experienced emotion, the world of Dramir as they knew it would crumble under the force of her shattering heart.

How could you break the heart of someone who had long since lived without one?

How could you fight against the darkness when she forced light to do her bidding?

Most importantly how could you hide, when she came looking for you?

 

Tainted Blood is fantastic. I did not know that it had been previously published and then rewritten before being released under this title, and to tell you the truth, I prefer this title, cover image and story line better than the original.

Atalia is a likable MC and her voice is consistent throughout. A kick-ass warrior type, she cuts off heads without a second thought and goes right back to what she was doing prior, no hesitation and certainly no remorse. Ramnath does a fantastic job of portraying Atalia, her lack of emotion and her overall queen-of-cool self.

Nathaniel Drake I did not like from the beginning and enjoyed the end of his story-line immensely. However, I thought there could have been a few more interactions with him throughout the story before the final chapter.

Cassius is one of those characters you think you have a handle on, but then realise at the end of the book, that you really don’t know all that much about them. This doesn’t distract from the likability of the character, but does leave me hoping his story is explored more in any sequel that may follow.

Shayur is even less memorable, and I feel his character could have been combined with his father’s with little to no effort or effect on the overall story-line.

The other characters played their parts well enough to push the story forward, but didn’t stand out to be overly memorable for any particular reason. This is not a bad thing. The story focuses on Atalia for the most part, and though at times Ramnath glossed over parts of the story where I felt like there could have been more, the end result was an enjoyable read, and I will recommend it to all those who is in need of an explosive fantasy fix, that mixes vampires, shifters and witches with gods and mythology.

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Overall a 3.5 star book bordering on 4 stars. I hope to see more from this author in the near future.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.45.01 PMRebecca Bosevski is a speculative fiction author living on the east coast of Australia. Her debut novel, Enchanting the Fey, is the first in a trilogy and combines old world Fey magic and a sassy contemporary main character.

 

 

Review: Slave, Warrior, Queen (Of Crowns and Glory – Book 1) By Morgan Rice

17 year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl in the Empire city of Delos, lives the harsh and unforgiving life of a commoner. By day she delivers her father’s forged weapons to the palace training grounds, and by night she secretly trains with them, yearning to be a warrior in a land where girls are forbidden to fight. With her pending sale to slavehood, she is desperate. 

18 year old Prince Thanos despises everything his royal family stands for. He abhors their harsh treatment of the masses, especially the brutal competition—The Killings—that lies at the heart of the city. He yearns to break free from the restraints of his upbringing, yet he, a fine warrior, sees no way out. 

As a fan of Morgan Rice, I was excited to start Slave, Warrior, Queen. The story takes off with a running start, as we are instantly thrown into the brutal world Rice has created. Delos, is certainly a place none would chose to be born to, the guards can beat or kill any they choose, as is made clear within the first chapter when a young boy is held and beaten within an inch of his life because he stole an apple.

This act of brutality takes place while Ceres is making her way to an exciting event – The Killings. Yep, this threw me too at first. How could Ceres be so disgusted with the treatment of the thieving child, yet be excited to attend the Killings?

Ceres views those participating in the Killings as being something to aspire to be, the Combat Lords are respected, envied by Ceres for their chance at valour and respect. This was the only thing I found hard to believe throughout the book. Even when Ceres herself is made a weapons master for the prince Thanos, did her opinion of the Combat Lords remain unchanged. She even displays distaste for those she believes do not deserve to be made a part of the Killings.

The novel is told from a few points of view, each easily distinguishable within the first sentence, rather than making the change too obvious by starting the chapter off with the POV’s name. I liked reading from Thanos POV most of all, I felt his view of the world he was a part of was exceptionally well written and like each reader, we all find our own favourites, he was simply mine.

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I did feel that there was no real ending to this book. I reached the end and felt as if I had reached the end of a chapter not the end of the novel. This being a series I was immediately compelled to buy the next book, so I guess the desired effect was achieved, however, a simple epilogue would have sufficed to quench my thirst for an ending and still leave me wanting more.

I give Slave, Warrior, Queen 4 stars.

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It lost half a star for the lack of ending and another half for the title. Though it is catchy, crisp and original, I feel like it is slightly misleading, Cares begins a slave of sorts, progresses to a warrior, but not to a Queen. The Queen plays a small role in this novel, not one that I felt deserved to be in the title. Rebel might have made a more accurate word choice.

I hope you go and check out Slave, Warrior, Queen, you will be cheering for Rice’s characters at every turn of the page, but be warned, Rice is not afraid to kill off the ones you love.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting the Fey – a fairytale for grownups. It can be purchased here.

Review: Dark Secrets By A. M. Hudson

How can you be attracted to a guy who just said he wants to kill you?

Ara-Rose asks herself the same question. She’s been torn away from her old life, thrown into a new one in a new country, and in the midst of death, heartache and depression, she finds herself in love with a vampire—one who kills people with his teeth!

But the vampire is forbidden to fall for this human, and at the point Ara-Rose decides she can’t live without him, he pulls away and leaves her falling back to the darkness he woke her from. She will be caught up in a century-old feud among brothers, and the fight for love becomes a fight for her life.

The only question now is whether her beloved vampire will find her in time, or leave her to face a destiny he triggered with their first kiss.

51qvxqzaeklI bought this book as part of Vampire Chronicles, a Boxed Set of three vampire novels. The beginning drew me in and I easily brushed aside the first hint of Twilight but as I read on the more similarities began to surface. It was quite difficult to ignore them, but that said it did not make this book less enjoyable.

Amara-Rose, aka Ara-Rose, aka Ara – The storyteller, is written well with a clear voice throughout. The epitome of a teen struggling with the passion only a teen can experience. She embraces the ‘Vampires are real’ thing rather quickly and early on considers becoming one herself. Not believable if she were an adult with rational thinking, but for Ara, a teen overtaken by the emotion of her first real love, it is completely believable.

Her struggles to overcome the death of her mother and brother actually brought tears to my eyes, a well written character with depth and real emotion the reader could feel for themselves.meangirls.gif

David Knight – The vampire. Sullen, overprotective, sneaky, overbearing, controlling, and yet still likable… go figure. He doesn’t sparkle, but can read minds – another nod to Twilight I could not shake off, but it is the back and forth between Ara and David that plays on this trait more effectively I thought.

He is not all that complicated a character, wears his heart on his sleeve and is not shy to admit when he is “turned on” a part of the book I could have actually done without. There once was a time that this kind of writing was only seen in adult novels, I wish for that time to return. Yes, teens are doing it, but a hint to what they are doing is sufficient, we don’t need to know exactly where he grabbed her.

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Mike – Ara’s life long friend and the third piece in the love triangle. He is an Aussie, so I like him instantly, he wants what is best for Ara, two points to Mike, but Ara lives in the USA now and Mike’s still down under, so they could never work. Not that choosing a Vampire would have been any easier a path, but the likelihood of Ara picking Mike was miniscule from the get go – if only for his connection to how she lost her Mother and Brother to begin with.

This book is only three stars for me and it is for three reasons;
Number 1 – There is so much similarity to Twilight I felt like this novel was almost all 4 of the Twilight series stories rolled into one long, not quite original enough tale. This lost it a full star taking the score to four stars.

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Number 2 – It was soooooooo long. Like titanic long – and this didn’t have the sexy Leo DiCaprio to drool over in the dull bits. Thirty-six chapters is just way too much! A long novel is not always a bad thing, but this was too much even for me, and this lost it half a star, taking it down to three and a half stars.
Number 3– There was too much mundane information that I did not need. Filler you might call it – that could have been removed and the overall story be unaffected. Except for the relief the reader would have felt for not having had to read it. The overload of information, though written in an exceptional way, lost the last half star taking this review down to a three.

I will probably read the others in this series, if only because I feel like I know Ara, and want to see that she gets her happily ever after.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.

Review: Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine

Goosebumps is a series of children’s horror fiction novellas created and authored by R.L. Stine. Sixty-two books were published under the Goosebumps umbrella title from 1992 to 1997, the first being Welcome to Dead House, and the last being Monster Blood IV

With many turning to the spooky, scary or creepy at this time of year, Goosebumps seems to be a go to for many. Both young and old love these stories. My favourite is and always will be #7 Night of the Living Dummy. Lindy names the ventriloquist’s dummy she finds Slappy. Slappy is kind of ugly, but he’s a lot of fun. Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil Things.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t love a story where a doll comes to life and creates havoc?

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Okay, maybe not always.

Other tales depict ghosts, werewolves, scarecrows, phantoms, monsters and even gnomes. Stine has a gift for telling stories that both the young and old enjoy. Pushing the Creep-O-meter just enough to be enjoyed by some as young as 8 and 9.

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If this Halloween you are after a fun, spooky read, pick up any of the 62 titles under the Goosebumps name and you will be sure to enjoy.

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As a whole I give the series five stars. If you have read a Goosebumps book you know why, if you have yet to pick up one of his titles, now is your chance, go out and grab whichever cover catches your eye, curl up on the couch and delve into the creepy mind of R. L. Stine.

Rebecca is an avid reader and passionate writer. Her novel Enchanting the Fey will be published later this year, and you can find her tweeting here.

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Don’t be afraid to write fear

With the spooky month upon us I thought I might share with you my thoughts on how to write fear effectively.

I should start by pointing out that I hate being scared. My son’s enjoy trying to frighten the life out of me every chance they get and often tag me in jump-scare videos on Facebook to try to get a rise. So it surprised me that I would enjoy writing scary scenes so much.

We put our characters (or in many cases they put themselves) in situations that would frighten either themselves or the others around them, so how do we effectively portray fear?

Firstly you will need to understand your characters completely. You need to really know what terrifies them. Then you need to understand that as we don’t all share the same fears it can be difficult to adequately portray fear to your readers.

We don’t want to tell our readers that the MC is scared, ie: Violet was terrified of the big bad beast. NO NO NO! We need to understand that the MC is terrified by addressing all the senses.

Sight: The MC might  stare at the object of their fear, or might turn away, avoiding eye contact completely.

Sound: The sound of heavy breathing, the characters pulse drumming in their ears, cries of pain, are all examples of how sound can be used to help portray fear.

Touch: Are they sweating, is their skin prickled? They could be shaking uncontrollably frozen in place.

Smell: Smells are something that bring forth memories so easily. Use smell to your advantage whenever you can. If something is rotting have the stench waft over the MC, if blood covers the floor have its sweet odor hang in the air. The air could be thick with the foul stench of rotting flesh.

Taste: Taste is not as easy, but you can still use it whenever possible. The metallic taste of blood clung to their mouth no matter how much water they drank, or your MC could force down the bile that rose into their mouth at the sight of so much blood,it left it’s fiery tang at the back of their throat.

So if using the MC we mentioned earlier we could rewrite the line to more effectively portray fear;

Violet stared wide eyed at the creature emerging from the shadows. It’s paws slapped against the wet ground with each slow step it took towards her. The light from the moon shimmered across its bristled fur and for a second she thought it could just be a dog, but then it tossed back its head and opened its jaws.Violet threw her hands over her ears as it let out a shrill howl. The beasts foul breath engulfed her and she moved her hands to cover her mouth barley in time to hold back the bile that now burned at the back of her throat.

I have used an extreme example here, but even in the more realistic scenarios, addressing the senses will give your readers a better chance of understanding your characters fear rather than skimming over it when being told simply that the character was afraid.