Blasting into the Past

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and not just because I enjoy writing it! It has to be one of the most wide ranging and encompassing genres available. From Europe to the Americas, to Asia, and Africa, even the Pacific, Hist Fic can tell tales of any culture or nation in the world, add into that thousands of years of time to work with and there’s a smorgasbord of potential stories to be explored.

My favorite thing about Hist Fic is learning about other cultures, how they developed, and why people within them do and feel in current times due to those historical influences. There’s so many sub genres within Hist Fic, like Regency, WWI & WWII, American Civil War, but outside of those popular western histories is Native American, South American, Ancient History, Chinese, Japanese and so many more. You can literally travel the world in Hist Fic and meet incredible people that are mere blips in Western culture.

Historical Fiction can also include Mythology. This sub genre is where things get interesting as this too includes myths from all around the world. While most people think of Greece or Rome, I have read some amazing books about Hindus, Native Americans, and Celts. Even Disney with Moana has ventured into this realm.

So, here is some of my favorite Historical Fiction. Click on the links below to see their details and my reviews. What are your favorites, and why do you enjoy Hist Fic?

Mrs. Poe,  The Woman on the Painted Horse,  SarahThe Sword of Attila

Fire of the Covenant,  Horrible Histories,  The Cenote

Souls EntwinedEchoes of Dark and Light

 

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.

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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!

Guest post: The Lost Journal

What happens when you find your old journal, and in it is jotted the bones of a story?

What happens if that story has been rattling around in your head for fourteen years?

What happens if you’ve always wanted to write, and now finally you have time to pursue this dream?

You start writing, of course!

The happy confluence of idea, passion and time was the catalyst for me. It was a lightbulb moment, though it took two and half years of hard work!

It sparked my debut Young Adult novel Collision, published on Amazon.com in July 2015.

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Photo attribution: cooldesign on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What was the initial spark which inspired you to be a writer?

I’m fascinated by the diversity of writers’ inspirations, and the tenacity which results in a published book. That step from thinking, hoping, imagining a book to making it a reality is a massive one. Though of course achieving that reality consists of many small, persistent steps, a few forward, some back, but always heading towards that ultimate goal of publication.

It was Trial Bay gaol, and its history, which initially fascinated me. Why was this forbidding, granite structure built on Lagger’s Point in Arakoon, looking across to South West Rocks? Some readers may know this area in the Macleay Valley, near Kempsey, on the mid north coast of New South Wales.

My family, friends and I holidayed for many years here, our children playing on the beaches. We swam in the turquoise water, barbecued, picnicked, read and relaxed. It must have been a strange, bittersweet experience for the inmates, living on this glorious headland, yet restricted in a gaol, their freedom curtailed.

In particular, I was interested in the German “enemy aliens” rounded up and imprisoned in this gaol during the First World War. We have internment camps still, in 2015…well, sadly, they started a century ago here in Australia.

I bring this to life with Gustav Becker, a fictional German jeweller, interned here with his Uncle Ernst. Gustav secretly meets a local girl Grace, and they fall in love.

This historical story is told in flashback by Stella, an angry and defiant seventeen year old runaway, who lands by chance in the town and is unsettled by her dreams about Gustav and Grace one hundred years before.

My research included visits to the gaol and reading widely. The Enemy at Home by Gerhard Fischer and Nadine Helmi was very informative, detailing the various camps in New South Wales during the Great War, including a very large one in Liverpool in Western Sydney. Many of the men sent to Trial Bay were wealthier professionals and entrepreneurs. Under the control of the gaol superintendent, a German committee helped to organise the almost six hundred inmates who were given a degree of freedom, for example, permitted to walk about one and a half kilometres around the gaol after morning roll call. A strict curfew was enforced from 5pm onwards.

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They had a rich cultural life, each week producing an uncensored (!) newspaper, theatre productions and orchestral concerts.The Germans had many business activities including cafes, trades, a canteen, restaurant and market gardens. They pursued avenues of self-improvement like educational classes (languages, maritime subjects, business), as well as recreational activities like sport, swimming and fishing. Many huts or villas in the German style were built on the perimeter of the gaol walls and along the beach.

This photo from the museum at Trial Bay Gaol of miniature wood-work pieces is a small sample of the fine craftwork created by the “enemy aliens”. There were exhibitions and displays within the gaol of such work, as well as photographs and paintings. This creativity was undertaken as a way to dispel boredom in the gaol. The men suffered depression and listlessness during their imprisonment; many of these inmates had lived in Australia for decades, married and had families. Their families, without a breadwinner,
suffered greatly during this time.

It is gratifying that finding my old journal inspired the story of these German “enemy aliens”, forgotten or unknown to many Australians. The memorial on the hill to four men who died in the goal was exploded by unknown persons after the war.

However, in a gesture of reconciliation, the local community and German immigrants rebuilt the memorial. The gaol itself, after being a desolate ruin for decades, is now a thriving tourist attraction under the management of the National Parks and Wildlife Services.

51nyGeSjdsL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_PJ Byer is a Young Adult writer, and her first book, Collision is a fast-paced, coming of age mystery about a teen runaway Stella. Reality, romance and fantasy blend, as Stella has flashbacks to Trial Bay gaol a century before.
For many years, PJ was an English, History and Drama teacher who secretly had a yearning to write. The day after she retired she began, and two years later Collision is the result.
PJ and her family holidayed at beautiful Trial Bay north of Kempsey, on the Australian mid-north coast, and the ruins of the gaol where hundreds of World War One Germans had been interned sparked her imagination, and was the catalyst for her story.
She is writing a prequel to Collision, and plans a sequel to explore the story of Gustav and Grace.
PJ is married with two adult daughters, and lives on the Central Coast near the beach, an hour north of Sydney. Her interests include bushwalking, stand-up paddle boarding, theatre, music and singing, as well as volunteering for ShelterBox, a disaster relief charity.

Catch her at pjbyerwriterblog.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/pj.byer

YA Review: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

 

That was so positively beautiful I just…I just need a moment.

I was pretty sure I’d like this book…I’d been recommended it enough! But still! Eeeh, what if it wasn’t for me? But of course it was. I just 100% fell in love with Ari and his confused dealing of being a teenager and the world. And Dante too, with his buoyant personality and quirk of hating-shoes. (Dude, shoes suck.) This is a beautiful book teens absolutely need to read. Okay, cut the “teen” part, because EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS.

What I really loved was how it broke stereotypes and considered how confusing the world is. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt the world is super confusing. I’m pretty sure everyone deals with this — teens more so, because we’re just learning how to adult. Ari’s thought process was so vivid and really personal. I felt sucked in immediately.

The writing is gorgeous. It’s very crisp. No fluff. I LOVE THAT. Also: dialogue. Dialogue everywhere. There is barely description, just dialogue and interior thoughts.

My only twitchy face comes at how slow it was. It basically takes place over 2 years…which is a long time. People grow. People change. It’s all very interesting and I felt very invested. But the first 50% I just kept wondering if something was going to happen. And then BOOM plot twist. So, I admit, I was dubious for a while. Maybe a little bored. But then I couldn’t put it down.

And can I just say something about the parents in this book?? There are TWO sets of parents, Ari’s and Dante’s. Both are still married. Both still absolutely love each other. That is so beautiful and sweet and I just spent so much of the book thinking, “Finally. Awesome parents.” Parents are often shoved into a corner of “annoying and useless” in books, but they’re actually goldmines of knowledge and information and care. The parents in this book just continually out-sweeted themselves. I’m so glad Ari had parents like he did, even if it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

I’m still sniffling, because the ending is positively heartbreaking BUT IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE.

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Cait has just finished rewrites on her sci-fi manuscript and is currently in hibernation. Sleep, chocolate, and lots of reading time, right? Find her on twitter and her crazy blog.

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