Interview: Katie Hamstead

This month, we have two new members of our blog (squee! So exciting!). To celebrate, we’ve decided to interview all Aussie Owned & Read-ers, so you can learn a bit more about us.
Today, I had the pleasure of hitting up the lovely Katie Hamstead, author of many successful books including the 
Kiya trilogy. Welcome, Katie.

AO&R: When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
Katie: I feel like this is something that gradually happened for me, something that I naturally fell into. Through my teen years I enjoyed storytelling, so I would write things down as my preferred outlet … after sports that is! It wasn’t until I migrated to the U.S. and couldn’t work while I waited for my green card, then fell pregnant, that I found time to write.
I started by finishing stuff I’d began as a teen and typing it all out because the handwritten paper was deteriorating, then the Kiya trilogy happened. I felt so good about the trilogy that I decided I wanted to publish it. The rest is history.

AO&R: When it comes to your characters, who is your favourite and why?

Katie: It’s a toss between Naomi/Kiya and Cadence from the Cadence Duology. Both feel like they live in my heart and soul and opened my eyes to their stories rather than me telling their stories.

AO&R: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Katie: Stay true to you and write from the heart.

AO&R: Which path do you enjoy more – indie or trad and why?
Katie: I’ve tried self-publishing but I prefer working with my publishers. My books sell better when they have that extra support and outreach.

AO&R: Being an Aussie, what about our culture/country do you bring to your writing?
Katie: I have several books set in Australia: Cadence Duology, Branded, Dancing in the Athenian Rain, and Brownlow Baby. People have commented that the alternate setting to the U.S. is fun, while still having a parallel culture they can empathise with. Even my space opera/fairy tale series has a strong Aussie influence in the characters and settings.

AO&R: What’s coming up for you this year? Katie Teller
Katie: So far, I have released one book, Brownlow Baby, but I also have the second book in my fairytale galaxy series releasing 28th March, Myths of Mish. Then later this year I have an Aussie historical romance releasing. All this while I’m trying to work at an elementary school, but luckily, I get summer off. I also have editing projects and rewrites for my FTG series. So, busy as always!

FAST FIVE with KATIE HAMSTEAD

Pantser or plotter? Pantser
Coffee or tea? Hot chocolate
Contemporary or historical? Historical
Novella or full-length? Full-length
Series or standalone? Series

Keep up-to-date with Katie’s releases via her Facebook page, her publisher’s page, or find her on Goodreads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. You can get in touch with her sleep-deprived, newborn-raising self via her Facebook page or website. P.S. Send wine!

MKR SERVES UP ROMANCE

Dishing Up Romance.

I’m so excited to be delivering my first ever Aussie Owned & Read post. Thank you for having me. I’ll be working to fit the brief and keep all you lovely followers and visitors happy and well fed.

Speaking of well fed  – or not – I’m an MKR fan. (My Kitchen Rules) Don’t judge. It’s an inherent weakness. Apart from authoring and reading, my fave thing is to bake and cook, so despite the show’s many shortcomings I’m still drawn to those television kitchens and those sweating, suffering contestants. And yes, I know it’s all director-created storylines and false drama but obviously I’m a cheap date because I love it.

mkr

This year though – and here’s where this post becomes relevant – there was an added ingredient, a  staged  romance between young rival contestants Bec and Kyle. It was flirt city. Bec was batting those eyelashes and serving up saucy over-the-shoulder entrees entreaties and Kyle was responding with prolonged glances that held more heat than a raw Bird’s Eye Chilli. It was good stuff. It was believable and whether real or clever editing, I was suckered in. bec-kyle

So, talking Romance – ‘cos that’s what we’re doin’ here at AO&R this month…

Interestingly, my fascination with Bec and Kyle’s relationship actually grew to equal my interest in what they were being served. Apart from seeming genuine, and the sense of fun and warmth both contestants oozed, what interested me was the answer both gave independently when asked about those first sparks. Both declared they were drawn to each other, initially, over a shared sense of humour.

‘We could just talk to each other as if we’d known each other forever.’

As an author this scenario spoke volumes to me: Likeable characters (who like each other) + a connection  Boom! There it was: a simplified time-honoured equation  – a key, if you like –  to the gateway to romance.  

Let’s look at that.

Many times in YA fiction we see heroines who fall for a ‘face’ (and whoa, we’re all guilty of that).  Disney is the biggest offender. But, hey we can be more than Disney. (Inserts discreet cough)

disney-baby-prince-clipart-disney-princess-32301330-500-248

We want to create a romance that draws the reader in – a romance that is believable and makes the reader wail at the thought of these two characters not being together. To do that? Find something that connects them. Something that intrigues enough for each to want to dig deeper. Something more than a cute face or hot bod. 

Completing the Jigsaw.

Imbue them with likeable/interesting traits and then imagine them as two random jigsaw pieces that have one side that fits them together neatly. That’s the start of a story. As authors we need to now find the bigger picture. The whole picture.  Connections. And it is from those connections that a relationship can begin to develop. Ergo, each new side of the jigsaw that fits is a new connection. Or not…

Delicious Firsts

YA love is raw and heart-pounding and exciting. It’s a series of delicious firsts that will never be experienced in the same way. It can feel dangerous and bold and yet, tender and syrupy warm. Hands shake. Stomachs perform backflips. But love, YA or not, is more than heaving tummies and shaking body parts. If it’s not, it’s not love. It’s not even lust. It’s a condition that needs medication. See a doctor. Fast.

I’m as guilty as the next of those heaving body parts, but there has to be more. That’s just the beginning; a knee jerk reaction. There has to be depth. A relationship has to grow. Develop.  It shouldn’t arrive fully formed. No one will believe that. So, get them talking. Get them connecting.

Blatantly falsified Stats

Note they don’t have to agree on everything. That would be boring. Very few relationships, ever, (maybe I’m generalising) are completely compatible in every aspect of life. But most are at least 60%. (Yep, I’m completely generalising and worse I’m making up stats – but it seems sound(?)).   And that compatibility goes further than a like or dislike of Thai food and the colour purple. But it’s a start.

Love Must pass the Belief Test

My last thoughts are to remember that even though we’re writing about young people, our romances have to be real and they must pass the reader belief test. Yes, first or new love is a dizzying time. And to those who are in the throes, there is nothing deeper or more special and no one else has ever felt this depth of emotion. No one. Ever. It’s powerful.

The secret? Again?

Connections. Think of them as sticky fingers that glue them to each other.   Convince the reader that these two were created for each other.

My last, last thought? Vale the relationship of Bec (who was eliminated) and Kyle.  MKR has lost its allure for me now. However, in my imagination I’m retelling the tale and in my version they find a way to be together – loved up, blissfully experimenting with strange and exotic foods.

And they’ll email me the recipes. Or invite me to dinner.

Sounds like a perfect ending to me.

And to celebrate that perfect ending, and my imperfect beginning here at AO&R, any person who takes the time to comment or just wave to say ‘hi’ on the comment board (I don’t judge) will go into a random draw to receive a copy of The Reluctant Jillaroo, or an earlier title if you already have that book – plus a pack of author goodies. Thank you! See you in the comments!

Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults over a 20 year period, many of them  published in several languages.  Her latest YA is The Reluctant Jillaroo, kaz-profiles-022Allen & Unwin, 2016 .  She is repped by JDM Management.

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?

8941e_beauty-and-the-beast-2017

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.

belle14

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.

beauty-and-the-beast-mirror

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.

belle27

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.

3-5-stars3

 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.

Bring Back the Romance!

Love Tree

Lately, I’ve been looking for good, old fashioned romance. Stuff where you go “Aww” and when you’re done, you feel lighter, and like the world isn’t such a bad place after all. Like Meg Ryan films.

depositphotos_23099706_original

But instead, everywhere I look is sex, sex, insta-lust, and sex.

I’m a huge believer that love is more than butterflies and head spining excitement. Sometimes love is boring, and gross, and downright hard. But true love, the kind that endures, is made of those crappy moments and how people overcome them.

When reading books, I read to escape the crapy-ness of life. I want a romance that’s realistic, but ends with a promise of happily forever after. Not issues. Not abuse. Not sex. Real romance, real love, is about dignity, respect, loyalty, integrity, selflessness, and forgiveness. But it’s like everyone has forgotten that because “sex sells.” Bah! No wonder kids today are so screwed up.

So share all the sweet, heart melting, never-ending love romances my way, books, movies, whatever. I think it’s time true love was given it’s real meaning back.

Young Couple in love

 

 

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 50,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook, instagram or at her own blog.

For the Love of Libraries

To celebrate V-Day, here at Aussie Owned, we’re dedicating the month to love. And how can we talk about things we love without giving libraries a mention?

Most book worms can track their love of reading (or writing!) back to these houses of art. Growing up, Heather used to BEG to go to the library, so her Mum caught on pretty quick and this became her good-behaviour treat.

Heather’s local library was a standard, small space, with mostly donated books and little government funding. The shelves were a definite safety hazard, the books were falling apart, and the whole place had that funky kind of smell that hangs around a constantly damp place.

And she loved it anyway.

Rebecca grew up with much the same in way of her local library, but she never had to beg to go there. Her mother was quite happy to take her and her two sisters at least once a week; she shared in Rebecca’s love of books, often borrowing on Rebecca’s card when her own had maxed the ten per person limit.

Libraries have forever been a place full of hope. Full of magic. A place where we could go and escape the horrible things in the world.

Below are some pics of our favorite libraries that not only house magic, but seem to generate it as well. A far cry from the ones many of us grew up with.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-10-44-34-am

Heather – Recognise this one? Okay, so it’s not real BUT we don’t know a book worm alive that didn’t grow up coveting this very room. When my hubby turned a room of our house into a study/library, complete with globe, I felt just like Belle. (Also, It looks nothing like this. But I pretend.)

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-10-47-46-am

Heather – *sigh* Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a favourite of mine during those awkward teen years. Having always heard that loving books made you a nerd, this was the first time I was confronted with a beautiful, strong, fun woman, who liked to read. Audrey gave me the confidence I needed to shrug off the haters.

sunnydale_high_school_library

Rebecca – This is the Library I coveted growing up. My school library was NOTHING like this. Do you recognise it? I will give you a clue; It ‘slays’ me how awesome libraries are, even if not a lot of school borrowing took place in this one.

fireplace-surround-designs10.jpg

Rebecca – This is my dream home study/library. The wall to wall shelves, the fireplace, the second floor complete with intricate ballastrade and the wingback chairs all invite you in. Don’t you just want to grab a book and curl up and read by the fire?

Now we have shown you ours, what libraries do you love? Were you one of the lucky few who has ventured to their dream libarry, or have you created your own at home?

What do you love?

This month, we’re talking about love. Today I’m caught up in the idea of bringing what I love into my writing… and what I hate I guess.

The things I love certainly influence my reading. I love an element of romance, I love Aussie settings, I love exotic settings, I love friendship and I love to have a good cry. These things all work together to influence which books I buy. The people I love do too, if a friend or admired blogger/author LOVES a book then I will try it even if it doesn’t have any of the elements I love personally.

My characters often share elements of what I love (or hate to mix things up). If I feel strongly about something then I know I can write a character who does too.

gringotts

I loooovvvveee all things Harry Potter

Right now I am madly in love with my new puppy Harriet Hermione Potts (so named from my love of Harry Potter). And I’m finding my new main character has a puppy. I ran the New York Marathon and found my character running to clear her head. Sometimes my characters love things that I specifically don’t however because they’re all different. For example, it’s fun, while I write, to be an amazing singer who wouldn’t make the audience wince in pain when they got up on a stage.

Do you look for elements you love when choosing a book to read/write?

 

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

 

Our Love is in The Trope

heart-105729-2

Credit: Bigstock images

Happy Valentines Day, AO&R readers!

Whether it’s something you celebrate or not, I think it’s hard to survive February without getting sucked into the cutesyness of it all. The huge red hearts, the dozens of roses, the white teddy bears. It’s everywhere you look. Even at my kids’ school, where the little ones where handing out lollipops to one another.

Anyhoo, all this loving got me thinking about romance in books at how there tends to be set tropes that are followed. Even in YA! Just thinking about the last half a dozen books I’ve read, every single one of them follows a similar romantic path. Even though it’s predictable as readers we often gravitate towards the same trope over and over.

So what are these romance tropes? Ah … here’s the ones I think are most common in young and new adult books:

The Love Triangle: The dreaded love triangle is actually one of my favourites. I think perhaps it was overdone a few years back, which is why so many readers now shy away. I’m still a sucker for a well written triangle though, where the heroine (or hero) has to decide between two suitors. Some of my favorites = The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. Matched by Ally Condie

Friends turned lovers: When the characters have been friends for years and suddenly their friendship grows into more.  I think this one makes for a sweet story. My favourites = Frigid by J Lynn. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.

Enemies to Lovers: When the characters hate each other’s guts, but we all know hate is only a step away from lurve. The sizzling tension that comes with this trope gives me all the feels! It’s got to me my absolute favourite. Best examples = The Lux Series by J L Armentrout, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Forbidden Love: This is a fun one too, and it also sizzles with sexual tension. Usually the couple are deeply in love/lust with each other but the can’t be together because Montagues and Capulets. My favourite examples = Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Opposites Attract: She’s a book nerd, he loves sports. She hates self absorbed people, he is one. (well she thinks he is) This trope can work well too, although I haven’t seen as much of it in YA as I have the others. Top picks = If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Sephanie Perkins.

Are there any other typical romance plots you’ve noticed? If so share, share away in the comments. I’d love to hear all about them.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Stacey NashStacey Nash has written one of all of these tropes. To find out more about the love stories she’s had published or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.