Get to know Heather

In celebration of our two new bloggers we’re using March to reintroduce you to the AO&R team. I had the pleasure of chatting with our fabulous reviewer / contributor Heather. Here’s what she had to say.

Thanks for joining us today, Heather. We see your fabulous reviews on the blog, but our readers would like to know a little more about you. Fill us in!

I live in Newcastle, Australia which is such a pretty, underrated city. I’m seriously outnumbered by my three boys, so I make sure to fill our house with Disney movies and musical soundtracks to balance them out. I write ferociously, read addictively, and spend far too much time dancing to the Wiggles. Sarcasm and dry wit are basically what I live for.

Ha! Maybe your boys will grow up loving Disney. How do you balance work, writing, and a young family?

Badly. Haha is that an answer? I’m on maternity leave right now, which means I get two or three hours during nap time where I frantically pump out words that generally turn out to be no good, but at least its something. When I’m at work, I have to get up an hour and a half before everyone else so I have time to make a coffee and have a quick sprint. There are a lot of to-do lists in the mix also, because I always manage to over commit myself with beta reads, writing goals, and Life.

So, what type of stories do you write?

Speculative YA with flawed MCs and dark themes. Though I am currently plotting a contemporary which is meant to be happy (it won’t be).

Sounds fun! Your most recent big writing news is that you’re repped by Carrie Howland. How did you land an agent?

It took a looooong time. I finished Illusion of a Majesty back in either 2010 or 2011. It was seriously no good. There were rough little gems throughout but that first draft has been 99% reworked and rewritten. It has gone through so many versions I have notebooks FILLED with info to try and keep track of it all. I entered some of the later versions into writing comps on twitter and they generally did okay but nothing came of it. I did a huge edit and decided to try my luck one more time before shelving (traditional querying wasn’t fun for me). Thankfully this comp was the one. Kate Angelella (editor magician) chose IoaM to work on out of over 2000 entries. We spent two months getting it perfect and in the agent round Carrie Howland asked to see the full. The day I got her email offering to work with me didn’t feel real. I expected the usual ‘this is great but not quite for me’ response, so when I actually read it, I couldn’t take it in. I made my husband read it to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I still go back to it sometimes to remind myself I’m not alone in having hope for my stories.

Naw, that’s beautiful. But I’ve read that story and can vouch for it’s awesomeness. Speaking of other rad authors, who’s your all time favourite?

My standard response used to be Richelle Mead (I love her!), until I read The Lunar Chronicles. I am such a Marissa Meyer fangirl it’s embarrassing. I will read anything she releases. When it comes to women’s fiction, I can’t go past Paige Toon.

Oh my gosh. I just finished reading The Lunar Chronicles and I adore all four of those books. Back to you now though, what’s one thing you can’t live without when you are writing?

My bestie (AKA Rebecca Bosevski). Poor thing has to suffer through my snapchats, my word count goals, and my constant whining that the story is no good and I need to delete everything. The amount of times she’s picked me up from an overemotional puddle on the floor is ridiculous and I wouldn’t have finished a story without her.

And one more question, who/what inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve always remembered writing. When I was in primary school I would have a different notebook for each story and create my own overs to go with them. They weren’t great, and even now I wouldn’t be able to make a cover worth a damn. I cowrote stories with friends in high school that never made it past a few chapters, and then a few years went by where I didn’t write anything. Funnily enough a character came to me sometime in my twenties who I couldn’t get out of my head. From there, my first book eventuated.

Fast Five!

Morning person or Night Owl – Morning. Though probably not by choice.
Tea or Coffee – Both. But I can’t function without coffee in the morning.
Harry Potter or Percy Jackson – Harry Potter for sure. Haven’t read PJ.
Writing or reading – Both equally. They compliment each other.
First person or third person (POV) – First.

Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olsen

Heather lives in a little city in Australia with far too many voices in her head. She’s an escapist reader and writer and loves any story with ‘real’ characters who drive the plot. At the moment Heather is author assistant to the wonderful Sharon M. Johnston. Heather has teamed up with her awesome agent Carrie Howland and is currently shopping her most recent WIP (a YA fantasy), working full time, and eating far too much chocolate (haha, like that’s even a thing).

You can find her on Twitter or at Story Queens of Aus.

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This interview was conducted by Stacey Nash, who happens to think Heather is fabulous! Maybe it’s our joint love of YA. To find out more about Stacey’s books 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.

 

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Author interview: Sharon M. Johnston, speculative fiction author

This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re celebrating the arrival of two new bloggers with round-robin interviews, so you can learn more about each of us — new bloggers and old. 

Today I’m interviewing Sharon M. Johnston, who has been with Aussie Owned since it started four years ago. Welcome, Sharon!

Sharon JohnstonI often think of you as the networking guru of the Aussie Owned team. What advice would you give a new writer trying to figure out where to start?

Ahhh! *blushes*

I think one of the keys to networking is paying it forward. Jump online, connect with influences, cool people and peers, and when one of them asks for help or you see a need that you can fill, put your hand up. For me it all started on a site called Inkpop (now defunct) where you reviewed WIPs. That’s where I met Wendy Higgins, who invited me to be part of YAtopia. Then I saw Pitch Madness needed a new blog host and I offered Brenda Drake the use of YAtopia. And it just keep rolling from there.

You also mentor in a number of pitching contests. If you could recommend one contest — or one type of contest — which would it be and why?

By far my favourite pitch contest is Pitch Wars. It’s got a great reputation with agents; has a better success rate than querying; creates strong communities of writers with the mentors, mentees and applicants; and the mentor works on the WHOLE manuscript. There are not many contests that do this.

OpenHeart_seriesThe first two books in your Open Heart series, Divided and Shattered, have hit the shelves after a fairly tumultuous beginning. How would you describe the series? And what can you tell us about book three?

The series is definitely a labour of love, and had a rollercoaster ride with unprofessional publishing peeps before finding a home with City Owl Press. The series focuses on love and what it means to be human, all wrapped up with some sci-fi and fantasy fun. The first book focused on Mishca’s journey to finding out about her origins, while book two saw Mishca understand that her family may not be traditional but that it is nevertheless important, and delved more into Ryder’s past. Book three reveals to readers the truth about Nerissa, and sees Ryder reunite with his mother and Mishca succumb to her dark side. (Cass: AAAAH! Need!) In each book I reveal more to the readers about the cast of characters and what makes them the people they are.

You’ve posted on the blog before about having OCD and anxiety. Given the push for #ownvoices works in the writing community, is this something you have considered incorporating into a work of fiction? Why?

I have definitely considered writing an OCD project, especially to break down some of the stereotypes and misunderstandings around the condition. I’m very open with people about my mental health as I believe by me being honest about it with people it will demystify some of the misconceptions around mental illness. If I don’t want to have mental health treated as a stigma, it has to start with me.

Tell us about your current project.

I’m working on and off on three projects. The first one is a speculative fiction set in Brisbane around a clan of warriors responsible for delivering karma. The second is a rewrite of a far future sci-fi called Dirty Rainbow. And the third is the latest book in the Open Heart series — I need to talk to the police about what happens in a raid so I can move forward with it.

Either/or questions

Plotter or pantser? Pantser

Speculative fiction or contemporary? Speculative fiction

Dogs or cats? Cats

Coffee or tea? Neither — chai latte

Chocolate or ice cream? Both, smooshed together and covered in caramel (I think I have a problem!)

About Sharon

After growing up listening to her father reading fables and folklore, it’s no surprise Sharon loves stories. As soon as she could read, her nose was firmly in a book. She loves reading, listening to audio books and writing.

She has a gorgeous husband and two wonderful boys. Well-known for her fantastic taste in shoes, Sharon has actually been stalked by women wanting to know where she got her high heels from. She also has a love of fur-babies – cats and guinea pigs, specifically.

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Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who one time got to help launch Sharon’s paperback, Shattered. Which was especially exciting as she (Cass) didn’t faint while public speaking. Not even once!

 

Interview: L.M. Merrington, author of ‘Greythorne’

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I worked with several other writers. One of them moved to London (not me), and another left to pursue a job in the hallowed halls of academia (also not me). L.M. is the latter, and I’m very excited to be able to interview her about her first book, Greythorne. Thanks for dropping by, L.M. 🙂

Your debut, Greythorne, just came out with Momentum Books. Tell us about it.

Greythorne is a Gothic horror/suspense novel for readers aged 14+. I like to think of it as Jane Eyre meets Frankenstein, with a little bit of Rebecca thrown in there too. This is the blurb:

How did Lucy Greythorne die?

From the moment Nell Featherstone arrives at Greythorne Manor as a governess to eight-year-old Sophie, she finds herself haunted by the fate of the mistress of the house, and entranced by the child’s father, the enigmatic Professor Nathaniel Greythorne.

When a violent storm reveals Lucy’s body is not in her grave, Nell becomes suspicious about the Professor’s research. But what she discovers in his laboratory will turn all her ideas about life and death, morality and creation on their head.

Enthralled by a man walking a fine line between passion and madness, Nell must make an impossible choice between life, death and life after death, where any mistake could be her last.

What drew you to the Gothic horror genre?

Greythorne is actually a bit of an anomaly for me, because in the past I’ve always written young adult fantasy. I was inspired by classic horror and adventure stories – not just the obvious ones like Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but also Jane Eyre, Moonfleet and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The Woman in Black was also a big influence. I’ve always had a fascination with the nineteenth century, and particularly women’s stories, because it was time of great social change and options were starting to open up for women in a way they hadn’t before.

I think the attraction of horror/mystery as a genre is the way it lets you explore fear and psychology as an author. I’m not into gore – there isn’t much actual violence in Greythorne – but I’m fascinated by the idea of moral choices and I like putting characters into situations where their deepest values are challenged. I’m also really interested in the idea of ‘normality’ and the line between sanity and madness.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

My favourite part is also the part I hate the most – writing the first draft. Greythorne was a NaNoWriMo book – it was the first time I’d done NaNo and I found the discipline it gave me really helpful. I’ve just started doing it again for my next novel and I’m remembering how much I both love and hate the process. I love it because it’s really exciting watching a story unfold before you – seeing the characters develop in unexpected ways and it going places you never envisaged. But I hate it because I can’t help feeling I don’t know what I’m doing – I have a vague idea about the beginning and the end but the middle is a big blank at the moment and that’s a bit scary.

I also actually really enjoyed the final copy-edit, which is probably not something many authors say. The manuscript was on its fifth draft by then and the copy-editor I worked with was fantastic – she picked up stuff I’d completely missed and I know the book was substantially improved as a result.

If you could live and write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I visited Venice a few years ago and I think it’s still top of my list. There’s such a wealth of inspiration there for artists and writers – you’re surrounded by this overwhelming richness of history, architecture, art, music and culture, and there’s always something going on.

Failing that, I’d be happy with a little study with a nice view of some greenery. Actually, time rather than place is the real luxury as far as I’m concerned – I currently fit my writing in around full-time work, so if I had the opportunity to write full-time or even just one or two full days a week I don’t think the place would matter much.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just started my next novel, which is tentatively titled The Dark Before the Dawn. I’m sticking with the Gothic theme, but this time it’s set in Australia in the mid-1860s. In traditional Gothic style, there is a strong sense of isolation, usually with the protagonist being stuck in a haunted house or similar, but in Australian Gothic the isolation is very much about the landscape and being stuck in a country far removed from ‘civilisation’. I don’t have much yet, but this is the rough outline of the story. I’m really looking forward to exploring ideas of madness and isolation, as well as drawing on Australian folklore and the rich tradition of bushrangers, ghosts and hauntings in southern New South Wales. I’ve never written anything set in Australia before so this is a new challenge.

Elizabeth King is on her way home to her family’s property near Goulburn after spending the winter with her wealthy aunt in Sydney Town. But the routine journey takes an unexpected turn when her coach is waylaid by bushrangers – Frederick Black and his gang, including his sister Sarah. The only survivor, Elizabeth is forced to accompany Frederick and Sarah, but soon a shocking crime leaves Frederick dead and the girls on the run from the law. They decide to make for the Victorian goldfields, but in the rugged hills and isolated valleys of the Southern Highlands something is waiting…

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just write the bloody thing. Ultimately there’s no substitute for just turning up day after day after day and getting words down even when you feel like you’ve got nothing left, because you can always fix bad writing later, but you can’t edit a blank page. I’ve been to quite a few writers’ groups made up of people who like to talk a lot about writing – and how hard it is to find time to do it – but don’t actually write much. If you really want to, you can make the time. I wrote Greythorne for an hour a day in the early morning before work, and as I’m not a morning person it was a real struggle. But it was also amazing how fast it came along when I plugged away at it every day. Find a time of day that works for you and just write for an hour (actually write, don’t play on the internet) and you’ll have a finished manuscript before you know it.

The other thing I’d say is learn technique. For many years I had a lot of inspiration but didn’t really have the discipline or understand the mechanics of getting it all down on paper. Learn about things like plot, structure, dialogue and setting, and start to use those tools deliberately. And then learn how to edit, because your first draft will be pretty rubbish. I finished the first draft of Greythorne in three months, but it took another nine months and three drafts before it was ready to even think about submitting to a publisher.

The final piece of advice I have relates to the business of writing. When you get a contract you suddenly have to go from being this isolated, creative soul to being a tough, logical businessperson. Join professional associations, get a mentor, attend seminars, do whatever it takes to prepare yourself for that – learn the basics of accounting/tax issues for small businesses, marketing (because you’ll probably have to do most of it yourself, regardless of which publisher you’re with) and how to negotiate contracts. Most writers don’t even think about the business side until it bashes them over the head, so get across it early. If, like me, you don’t have an agent, you’ll need to work out how to handle all this stuff and where to go for help.

If you could have lunch with any one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

C.S. Lewis, because I’m in awe of both his intellect and his prose. The Chronicles of Narnia are obviously his best-known books, but I also love his work for adults, a lot of which is non-fiction and revolves around discussions of theology. He had the great gift of being able to discuss complex topics in a way that was simple but not simplistic – the mark of a great communicator – and he also had an incredible imagination and was really just a damn good storyteller.

Pick one of the following:

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Rain or shine? Shine

Introvert or extrovert? Introvert

Beach or mountains? Beach

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Plotter or pantser? Somewhere in between…but probably pantser.

About L.M. Merrington

lm-merrington-portrait-croppedL.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in media and communications and Chinese, and a PhD in international relations, and has worked as a freelance journalist, editor, strategic analyst and communications manager. She lives in Canberra with her husband Tristan. Greythorne is her first novel.

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Greythorne‘s book launch is on Friday 27 November, 6pm at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka, Canberra. Click here for the Facebook event.


 

Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy author whose fourth book, Lucid Dreaming, released this week …so she is currently hiding under her doona, eating chocolate.

Cassandra Page

 

Author Interview: Cassandra Page

Going through our interviewed authors, I noticed the absence of an interview of our very own Cassandra Page! I had to rectify this, so here we are today! Cass is one of those super supportive, hard working types, and has her trilogy out, plus another novel on the way. So with no further ado, here’s Cassandra!

Cassandra Page

  1. Tell us a little about you.

I could cut and paste my author biography here, but that feels a little bit like cheating. So instead, let’s go with this: I’m a long-time nerd, who has been role-playing since her teens and still has a weekly tabletop game even though she should have grown up years ago. At this stage it doesn’t seem likely, though. I’m a single mother to a bright little boy, having done the dreary marriage/divorce thing. (I don’t recommend it unless you have to.) I have a weakness for good coffee and chocolate, and an abhorrence of bad coffee and chocolate. I’m an introvert who would prefer to spend her time curled up with a book, a pen and paper, or a colouring book, rather than go to a noisy party full of strangers. I’m a public service editor, so I spend a lot of time reading boring reports and have opinions on hyphens (yes please), the Oxford comma (where required) and semicolons (not just for winky emoticons).

I think that about covers it!

  1. You currently have The Isla Inheritance Series available. Tell us a little about the series and how you came up with the concept.

Actually, sadly, Isla’s Inheritance is currently unavailable. The small press that published it is closing its doors this month, and so the trilogy has been pulled from sale. I’m currently working on getting it ready to self-publish, with shiny new covers and a new feel. One of the things about publishing through a US press was that some of the Australianisms got toned down in the editing process — entirely reasonable at the time, but I’m re-editing them to correct that. I love my Australianisms.

But to answer your actual question, Isla’s Inheritance is a trilogy about an Australian girl named Isla (surprise!) who lives with her aunt and cousins here in Canberra. Her father immigrated here when she was a baby after her mother died … or so he has always told her. During the course of the series, Isla discovers her mother is actually an aosidhe, a member of the high fae: the cruel elfin overlords of the various fae races. Her father fled to Australia to escape her, but loves her still. Isla needs to navigate a fae world she’s never heard of before in order to keep herself and her loved ones safe. But with kissing.

  1. LD_CoverEbook_Fina_smllYour next book, Lucid Dreaming is due for release soon. When will that be and what can you tell us about it?

Lucid Dreaming is scheduled for release on 3 November. As I write this, the Kindle ebook is available for pre-order, and I’m hoping to have links for the other retailers soon.

Melaina, the protagonist, has a few things in common with Isla: she also lives in Canberra, and she is also only half-human – although her non-human half is Oneiroi, or dream spirit. That is something that had always been impossible, for rather obvious anatomical reasons; her birth caused a significant amount of consternation among the Oneiroi and caused her non-human father to go into hiding rather than reveal how it had happened…

Lucid Dreaming is a story for older readers; while Isla’s Inheritance is suitable for teens, Melaina’s story is darker and, well, has a few steamy moments. I’m currently preoccupied with trying to figure out how to stop my mother from getting hold of a copy. 😉

  1. What types of books do you read?

I usually read speculative fiction: mainly urban fantasy, but with some high fantasy, steampunk and sci-fi thrown in. I’ve also started reading a fair smattering of contemporary in the last couple of years, partly because several of my very talented author friends write it, and partly because I’ve been doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, which has forced me to diversify. I just finished a devastating historical, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth, and am still reeling.

  1. Do you have any advice for novice writers?

Write now, edit later.

I’ve read a lot of books and blog posts about writing, and when I was drafting my first novel I spent a fair bit of time thinking – no, obsessing – about all the things I was doing “wrong”. For example, I knew my first chapter had issues. I spent a lot of time worrying about that, and tinkering with it, rather than continuing to draft the book. As a result, writing that first draft took over a year. And it wasn’t until I’d received some valuable beta feedback and gained some critical distance from my work – something you can only get through time and practice – that I was able to see the issues and fix them.

  1. Tell us about your writing habits.

I wish I could say I wrote every day, but that would be a lie. I usually only write two or three times a week. To keep myself on track, I use a weekly word goal instead. With my most recent manuscript, that was 2000 words, although often it’d be higher when I had to catch up due to disruptions. All three Isla’s Inheritance books came out during the drafting process, so I was somewhat distracted!

I don’t write to music or anything like that. I prefer the house to be quiet, although the distant chatter of the TV is okay if I’m trying to get work done while the boy is awake. It’s terrible parenting, I know – but I tell myself that it’s good for him to see me role-modelling values like persistence, and following your dreams. (Seems legit.)

  1. If you were one of the characters in your book/s which one would you be and why?

I wish I could say Melaina – she is sassy, confident and a little bit punk. She’s what I wished I was when I was a teenager. But, if I’m truthful, I’m closer to Emma: the bespectacled, socially awkward girl who runs the séance for Isla in the first chapter of Isla’s Inheritance. I’m also a bit like Isla herself, in her sensibleness and, well, squareness – although Isla isn’t a nerd.

I need to write a book with a nerdy main character. *writes that down*

  1. If you could live and write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love Canberra but, if I could, I’d live somewhere close to the beach, where I can go for a walk along the rocks with my son, or sit on the dunes and watch the waves while I contemplate a plot problem.

  1. If you had one wish (something personal) what would it be?

It’s a bit of a cliché, because most writers probably say this, but I wish I earned enough from my writing so that I could support myself and my boy without having to work my day job. I enjoy what I do, but working around everything else means I’m such a slow writer. Also, being able to collect my son from school every day (and write in peace while he’s there) would be a real privilege.

Bio

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat — despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres — although urban fantasy is her favourite. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

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Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

#Pitcharama Success Story: Raven Hudgins

PitcharamaButton_2014Today I’m interviewing Raven Hudgins, who is the latest of our Pitcharama 2014 success stories: she signed with Soul Mate Publishing on 4 February. Welcome, Raven!

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

Well, my name is Raven. I’m from a small town in Virginia called Mathews. It’s a quiet town that many haven’t heard of. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl—it has always been a dream of mine to be published. I’m an ardent reader and gamer if you can believe.

I can totally believe it—I’m a gamer too! 😉 Now, tell us a little bit about your novel, Death Callers?

It’s funny because the way I started Death Callers was a writer’s block kit, which has suggestions on how to start a story or add conflict by picking a random card. I already knew I wanted to write something no one had written about lately. Soon I came to the idea of banshees. My novel focuses on the main character, Aislin Gray, who is just turning eighteen—which is a pivotal moment in a banshee’s life as that’s when they come into their powers. A Death Call is when a banshee has a vision of someone’s death, which invokes a piercing scream they are associated for.

Raven HudginsHow did you hear about Pitcharama? What made you decide to enter?

I’ve entered a couple contests before Pitcharama on Twitter—the scene for writers. One of my writer friends had posted something about it so, of course I had to check it out. My whole thinking was—what did I have to lose entering?

You got two requests after the contest. So excite! What happened next?

Well, I got a full request from Soul Mate Publishing and fifty pages from Turquoise Morning Press. I edited a bit more before sending them off. I heard back from Turquoise a couple months later with a sad rejection, though they would love to read more from me. Four months went by without hearing from Soul Mate—so I nudged the editor I had sent to. The funny thing was—she wasn’t an acquisition editor anymore at Soul Mate. It was a downer to hear that she couldn’t publish it, but she offered to send it to one of the higher up editors with recommendations about how good it was. I was ecstatic! Another month went by and that’s when I got the email! Soul Mate wanted to publish my novel!

Are you working on any other books? I hear a rumour (ok, I stalked you on Twitter) that wolves are somehow involved? 😉

I have a few novels in the works. I have the sequel to Death Callers on the ropes, along with two others just barely out of concept. There may or may not be wolves involved in two of my WIPs, along with other creatures.

What advice would you give other writers who are trying to figure out what to do with their completed manuscript?

I would say find a beta reader or a critique partner, then enter as many contests as you can for the experience—find what people like about your novel and what they don’t. Edit as much as you can until you can’t edit anymore. Also, never give up!

Cassandra Page is a writer, gamer (of the roleplaying and computer game sorts) and mother. She also likes coffee and chocolate because she is a writer and that’s how we roll.

Cassandra Page

Newest Aussie YA author on the block: meet Beck Nicholas

Today we’re joined by Beck Nicholas, an aussie YA author. Beck’s debut novel FAKE released just last month from Harlequin Australia. It’s a contemporary romance that includes social media, intrigue, and lots of fun.

beck

 

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.

 

 

Welcome, Beck. You’re an aussie writer. YAY! The YA market seems to be dominated by international authors, so it’s always nice to see one of our own on the shelves. How do you feel walking into places like Big W and target to see your book on the shelves?

Yes, yay for Aussie! I’m Aussie and proud! Holding my first book in my hands was a wonderful moment but walking into a store and seeing it on a shelf was almost as good. I’m still waiting on my local Kmart but I have hope.

It’s a surreal feeling because I’ve been a reader for even longer than a writer and I’ve spent a lot of time looking at physical and virtual shelves for great stories.

 

How wonderful. I bet you get a fabulous rush. So, tell us about Fake. Is it set in Australia?

Fake is set in a small (invented) town a few hours out of Sydney. I’ve written aiming for overseas publishers before, and it was refreshing to write gum trees and use aussie-isms that pepper my writing.

 

I can’t wait to read about gum trees and aussie-isms! But tell me about your main character. If you had to liken Kath, to a celebrity who would it be and why?

I tend to cast my characters when I create them as I’m often working on more than one story (at different stages). For Kath I needed to find a celebrity who seemed down-to-earth and had to love some vintage clothes. This wasn’t easy. It turned out that to create Kath I used a few different images together to come up with the mood that put her on the screen for me. Victoria Justice was the main actress but only particular shots. Lots were too ‘glossy’ for Kath.

 

Victoria Justice is lovely. I’ll cross my fingers for a movie adaption one day! So, you’re published by one of the big 5. Congrats! How is that?

This is my first book so I haven’t anything to compare it to. The people I’ve dealt with at Harlequin Australia have been wonderful and supportive. It’s been a great experience so far.

 

Lots of our blog readers are aspiring writers. What advice would you give other Aussie YA writers out there who are trying to get published?

I’m not sure I’m in a position to give advice, perhaps more to pass it along. Read. Write. Research your options. Submit to your best fit – because it’s hard to be published without that step. Eat chocolate or whatever you do to cope with rejection if that happens, and then write some more.

And read.

Find a crit partner or group. Talk to like-minded writers because they will understand in a way a non-writer friend can’t.

Read and write some more.

 

Great advice! Now that Fake is out in the wild, what’s next for you?

I’m working on another contemporary YA at the moment with a road trip and a romance and a girl who thinks she’s messed up beyond repair.

In December I have a YA sci-fi called LIFER coming out with Month9Books.

 

Congrats on that! You had me at sci-fi. Tell me more about Lifer.

Asher is a Lifer, a slave aboard the spaceship Pelican. Part of the lowest rung of society, she must serve the ship’s Officials and Astronauts as punishment for her grandparents crimes back on Earth. The one thing that made life bearable was the love of an Official, a boy named Samuai, but he died alongside her brother in a freak training accident.

Still grieving for the loss of her loved ones, Asher is summoned to the upper levels to wait on Lady, the head Official’s wife and Samuai’s mother. It is the perfect opportunity to gather intel for the Lifer’s brewing rebellion. There’s just one problem—the last girl who went to the upper levels never came back.

On the other side of the universe, an alien attack has left Earth in shambles and a group called the Company has taken control. Blank wakes up in a pond completely naked and with no memory, not even his real name. So when a hot girl named Megs invites him to a black-market gaming warehouse where winning means information, he doesn’t think twice about playing. But sometimes the past is better left buried.

As Asher and Blank’s worlds collide, the truth comes out—everyone has been lied to.

 

Wow, there are lots of exciting thing happening. Thanks for joining us, Beck and good luck with your new release.

For our readers, you can find out more about Beck here;

Find me at my website:

www.becknicholas.com

Or on twitter @BeckNicholas

 Fake cover only

Seventeen-year-old Kath McKenny has a date to the end-of-term party with her since-forever crush. He publicly messaged her to confirm, but there’s been a recent status update: he’s taking the new girl — giggly, pretty, well-developed Lana Elliot — instead.

After being thoroughly humiliated in front of half the school, best friend Chay talks Kath into revenge: a scheme to create the perfect — and very fake — online guy for Lana. Once she falls for him, they’ll show her what it’s like to get brutally dumped.

Everything is going to plan until Kath starts spending more-than-just-friends time with the other new kid in town — Lana’s dreamy older brother, Sebastian. Kath finds herself getting in deep — in love and drowning in guilt, she tries to put an end to her prank, but it’s taken on an unstoppable momentum of its own, with very real consequences.

As her plotting begins to unravel, so do the people Kath thought she knew:
Her mother has a secret online life.
Her father has a whole new family.
Her best friend is barely recognisable.
Her boyfriend has a disturbing hidden past.
And her enemy is more familiar than she knew

 

http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781488742712

Stacey Nash (3) This interview was conducted by Stacey Nash who also has a brand new release. Remember Me came out with HarperCollins Aus just last week and you can find it here.

To talk about books or anything else, catch Stacey at one of these places; website, twitter, facebook, or instagram.

Interview, excerpt and giveaway: Pippa Jay, author of ‘Restless in Peaceville’

You used to be an analytical chemist. Do you think having a science background influences your writing?

487970_396457363750310_1481028755_n (640x640)Yes, definitely. I think my whole fascination with science is part of why I mostly write science fiction, but I’ve even used my chemistry knowledge in a paranormal story. Chemistry/alchemy/magic – they all need rules to work properly (or in the case of fiction, believably) for example. And while I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar, an interest in science means I can pick up enough detail from research on technology to at least make the tech in my stories look feasible.

Restless in Peaceville, your new zombie novella, is your first paranormal romance release. What is it about the story that grabbed you?

It just wouldn’t leave me alone, once I got the idea. We’re talking mega-mutant plot bunny attack, lol. I’d seen Warm Bodies, and the whole idea of that just hooked me – a different kind of zombie. I’d read other kinds of zombie that weren’t the classic Hollywood brain-eaters either, and once someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo, that was it. I got so interested in the research I couldn’t NOT write the story.

Your sci-fi novels are all set in the same broad universe. What tip would you give writers who are looking at building such a detailed world? Do you have certain threads that you like to weave through all of them?

Build it slowly, and don’t try to cram all of it into one book – and definitely not into the first few pages (I’ve seen agents complain about that). Like anything, you need solid foundations, and to keep things consistent, but you can’t info dump an entire new universe on your readers right at the start.

There are elements I use in all the books – like types of medical care, identification, interstellar transport – but each story focuses on a different area or alien or event of my universe, which helps grow it organically. And anything background needs to be sketched out enough to be believable, like the military force that overseas everything for example – they crop up in various stories to a greater or lesser degree, so that needs to be consistent. And when it gets too big, try to make your own encyclopedia for your universe for reference. It’ll save you having to keep going through your other stories all the time to check facts. (Plus it could be an interesting freebie for readers in the future, or a glossary on your website.)

Which writers have had the biggest influence on you?

There are a lot! I read voraciously as a youngster. But most recently Neal Asher, Jaine Fenn and Isaac Marion.

What project (or projects!) are you working on next?

Well, I have a paranormal romance short releasing October, a superhero romance – When Dark Falls – releasing November, and a futuristic urban fantasty short – No Angel – releasing December. I also have a YA dystopian romance (Zombie Girl) on submission, and some SciFi romance novels and shorts for release next year. So *quite* busy.

What’s the one question in interviews that you wish people would ask you in interviews, but never do? Pretend I just asked it! 😉

Would you like some cookies with your questions? And of course I’d say yes…

Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Excerpt

Then something bangs a door downstairs and Annabelle grabs me hard. “Luke?”

“Shh.” I push away from her and roll myself out of bed. My feet thump onto the floorboards, but any sound I’m making is drowned out by another crash down below. “Stay here. I’m gonna check.”

“Luke, no…”

I wave her back. There’s no sense of it being the Peacemaker, not like before, and I can’t smell vampire. If this is another undead looking for refuge, I can warn them off. If it’s something else—

A creak is all the warning I’m given before the floor gives way and I plummet through the rotten woodwork like a kingfisher diving through the water. I can’t see a thing for dust and chunks of debris, but I know I’ve gone through the ground floor of the house when I break through a second layer of wood and hit earth. Damn, how long will this body hold up if I keep crashing like this?

I lever myself up, and find my head just above ground floor level while more dust and splinters shower down around me. I turn, looking for some way to pull myself back up…and find myself being stared at by three kids.

Oh, shit. For a moment we all just gaze at each other, no one sure what to do or who’s going to do it first. Then one of the boys, maybe eight or nine and his mouth hanging open points at me and screams, “Zombie!”

What else can I do? I yank myself out of the hole and lurch at him, moaning fit to scare them to death. They don’t hesitate. Each of them competing for the most piercing holler, they scarper out of the house so fast I expect to see scorch marks from the acceleration.

I laugh. Seriously, it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen since I died. Maybe I could get to enjoy this.

Giveaway

Enter to win a zombie heart necklace (pictured) or
a $5 gift voucher to Breathless Press/Lycaon Press

Zombie Brain Necklace

About Pippa

Pippa JayAfter spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | Wattpad | Amazon

Cassandra Page is a young adult urban fantasy writer whose debut novel, Isla’s Inheritance, comes out in less than two weeks. Send wine! And chocolate! (I hear these are good to stop you fainting?)

Cassandra Page