Posted by: Natalie Hatch | July 27, 2011

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival-not love-the issue?
A ship heading for New Earth is halfway through its incredible journey across the galaxy.
On board, sixteen year olds Waverly and Kieran are part of the first generation born in space.
They are in love.
They believe their future is written in the stars.
They have never seen a stranger before…
… until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives.

Glow is the debut book by Amy Kathleen Ryan, released in October 2011 by Pan Macmillan.

Waverley should be happy to marry Kieran, as 16yr olds, the first generation to be successfully conceived in space, as he will one day be Captain he has everything a girl should wish for. Except Waverley doesn’t wish for him. Instead Seth has captured her thoughts, but she’s not even sure about him. Her world is turned upside down when her ship is attacked by enemy forces and she learns that not all enemies are outside the ship.

Glow took a little bit to get into, there’s some pretty standard world building that has to be done in order for the story to play out, but after that I found the conflict to be satisfying. At first I thought it’s going to be the typical love triangle YA novel that seems to be thrown around at the moment. Safe to say Glow’s not like that. Amy’s take on a Dystopian future keeps you turning the page. I had to pry the book from my eldest teen’s hands (she snaffled the book the minute it turned up at our house – the cover certainly gets your attention doesn’t it?). I liked it because of my love of science fiction and it’s great to see so many more SciFi YA reads coming out, Glow certainly rates up there with the good ones. Waverley wasn’t some pathetic heroine waiting for her man to come and fix everything. I loved the fact that she took charge when things went wrong. Can’t tell you too much more than that or it’ll become spoiler time.

Well done to Amy, can’t wait for the next one.

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1. Ishmael is such a wonderful character, is there any secret inspiration behind his creation?        

Well he was born one day when a picture I had on my noticeboard made me think of the famous opening sentence of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. That sentence is “Call me Ishmael.” For some reason I imagined a boy saying the opposite, “Don’t call me Ishmael!” So Ishmael as a character just started out as a boy who didn’t like his name. He developed more fully in my mind when I decided to make him a bit like I was at school by (1) he was frightened of speaking in public and (2) he was a grand-master in the painful art of Unrequited Love. Unrequited love was my special subject at school.

2. Did you always intend for the Ishmael books to become a three part series?  

No. When I started writing Don’t Call Me Ishmael! I assumed there would be just one book. But by the time I got to the end I’d fallen in love with the characters and I still had them all running around madly in my head. They were still there after Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs as well. That’s when I knew in order to tell the full story of Ishmael, Razz and the others I had to get to their very last day at St Daniels. Those characters are now as real to me as any of the boys I had in my classes when I was a teacher.

3. The third and final book in the Ishmael Series, Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, has just been released. Can you explain the significance of the title? 

The phrase Hoops of Steel has a couple of connections to the story. One is that one of the boys, Bill Kingsley, takes up Hula-Hooping in order to lose weight. But the main significance of the title comes for Shakespeare’s play Hamlet which Ishmael and his mates have to study for Year 11. In one scene the character Polonius is giving advice to his son Laertes. Among other things he says to him, “Those friends thou hast and their adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.” So the phrase ‘hoops of steel’ is all about holding on to your real friends and the unbreakable bonds of true friendship. This is what the Ishmael books at their heart, have always been about.

 4. Your ability to write humour for teens and to connect with them so successfully is inspiring to us emerging YA writers. How do you get your characters to be so realistic?   

I threaten them with physical violence! Sorry. Thank you for saying that. I hope they are realistic but to be honest, I’m not really sure how it happens. I don’t think about it that much when I’m writing. Perhaps it comes from being involved so much with teenagers as a parent and a teacher. And really listening to them. Oh, and I think it also helps a lot if you actually like them! One thing I think perhaps you should avoid is trying to make your characters sound young by using too much slang or modern language. After all there’s not only the one kind of teenager ‘voice’. And just as they don’t all speak the same, they don’t all act the same way or like or believe in the same things. There are some teenagers I’ve met who if you actually wrote down exactly what they said and what did in a book, I’m sure some people would criticise them as being totally ‘unrealistic’! So maybe the trick is not so much to write as a ‘real’ teenager, but just to convince your readers that you are. My apologies for that rambling response!

5. For the first time in the series, I can’t help but notice some comparisons between yourself and Ishmael, particularly at the end of the novel. So tell us MGB, what were you like as a teenager?  

A super-cool, confident, chick-magnet. Or were you after the truth? Well in that case, I wouldn’t say I was painfully shy, but I certainly didn’t enjoy being the centre of attention. Like Ishmael, I was terrified of speaking in front of an audience and I definitely lacked confidence in myself, particularly when it came to those mysterious alien creatures that weren’t boys. Looking back though, I think I had a really good sense of humour and could be funny, particularly with my friends and people I knew well, but I wasn’t the class clown by any means. My school itself was very much like St Daniels. I enjoyed my time there. I got on well with my classmates and I’m pleased to say I was never bullied in any way.

6. If you could go back in time and give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?  

‘Buy mining shares!’ Or possibly, ‘OMG, what are you thinking! Don’t pick those thick, black-rimmed frames for your glasses!’  Ok seriously? I’d say, ‘Teenaged-Self, you’re ok. And you know that corny thing adults always say about how ‘personality’ is more important than ‘looks’? Well, as difficult as it is for you to believe, it’s actually true. So hear this Teenage-Self. You’re a nice person and you’re smart and funny, and people will like you for just that. You really should believe in yourself a hell of lot more and take more chances. Oh and follow your dreams.’ (I know that was more than one piece of advice, but my Teenage-Self really could have done with a good pep talk!)

7. What is your writing life like?  

Really it’s a dream come true. These days I’m a full-time writer and I never believed that would be possible. If I’m not at home writing, or thinking about writing, or thinking that I really should be writing, then I’m visiting schools or attending Festivals. A good writing day for me would start with an early morning walk for an hour (clears the head and lets the imagination and ideas flow), then writing most of the day (with breaks to eat of course!) until late in the afternoon. I don’t tend to do too much writing at night. (Some people reading this will be asking: “Yeah sure, and what about the hours you waste mucking around on Facebook everyday?”)

8. What exciting things are coming up for you?  

Besides watching the final of The Amazing Race Australia? Well I’m thrilled and honoured that Just a Dog has been short-listed for the CBCA Awards so I’m looking forward to going to Adelaide for the announcements in August. I have a very busy couple of months coming up filled with school visits in Brisbane, Cairns and Melbourne. I’m also looking forward to attending the Ipswich Children’s Literature Festival and the Brisbane CYA Conference in September. As far as the books go, I’m excited that new overseas versions of the first two Ishmael books to be published soon (UK, France, Hebrew) as well as Just a Dog  (USA, Norway, Germany, Italy, Hebrew). There is also an English language school edition of Don’t Call Me Ishmael! coming out in Germany. Just imagine, German kids will be practicing their English using the words of Razz as their example!

9. What is the best advice you would give an emerging YA writer?  

Read lots of current YA books. It will help your writing and the bonus is they’re fantastic! Write for yourself first and foremost rather than an audience. Write the story you are passionate about – the one that makes you laugh, or cry or moves you in some way, not the one you think you should write just to get published.  Also, don’t be daunted by other books and authors you love and start thinking you’re not good enough. Keep in mind that your task is not to write the best YA book ever written. Your task is to make your reader feel that anytime they are reading your story, it is the only one that matters. 

10.   A lot of authors recommend joining a writers’ group as a way to improve your craft. What’s your opinion on this?  

Different things work for different people. I know of many writers who have gained great support, advice and encouragement from being part of a writers’ group. I’ve never been in one and I really don’t think they’re for me. I’d be a bit shy and wary about sharing my work. I also feel that you can get too much advice and too many suggestions too early when you are working out your story. These days I don’t show anyone what I’m writing and rarely talk about it until it’s finished. My wife is then the first person to read it.  

11.   What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer? 

It’s a job where you spend most of your time day dreaming and making up stories and then you eventually get to share them with other people. What’s not to like? Another great thing is I get to meet and talk with lots of beautiful and amazing young people who make me laugh and who reaffirm my faith in humanity. I really do feel blessed and I never take for granted how fortunate I have been to have my dream of being a writer become a reality.

12. How often do you get to connect with your YA audience? 

I am very fortunate to have regular contact with the main age groups that read my books. I would normally spend around 70 days a year talking to school students either in schools or on Writing Camps or at Festivals.  

13.   What are you reading at the moment?  

I’ve just finished Book 1 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which I really enjoyed. At present I’m reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. After that I’m looking forward to reading Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick. My favourite books of recent times were the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness which I absolutely loved and wished I had written.

14.   What do you like to do in your spare time?  

Read. Play guitar and pretend I can sing Try to write songs. Daydream about being a rock star, Samurai or Ninja. Support the Brisbane Broncos and the mighty Queensland Maroons in the Rugby League. Have fun on Facebook with my friends and fellow writers. Try to keep my true werewolf nature secret and under control. Visit bookshops and move all my books to more prominent positions on the shelves.  Write in my blog. Go for walks. Spend time with my wife. Go to the pictures. Watch TV (including, according to my family, an unhealthy number of Reality Shows and Football matches). The list just goes on and on. As you can clearly see, I am a true action man!

15.   How can readers contact you or find out more about your books?  

One way is through my blog at http://michaelgerardbauer.wordpress.com. You’ll also find lots of information there about my books, as well as heaps of teacher & student resources, links to interviews, news etc. Another way to contact me is by visiting my public Facebook page at Michael Gerard Bauer Author and clicking on ‘Like’. Apart from that, if you see me walking down the street, you could just shout at me and wave your arms madly about.

16.   Any parting comments to the WLYA readers, Michael? 

Just a super-sized thanks to you Debbie and all the gang at We Love YA for giving me the opportunity to be part of your wonderful blog. As Razz would say, it’s been totally rigid! Cheers.

Thank you Michael for being such a fabulous interviewee and best of luck with Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel. 🙂

Posted by: Debbie Kahl | July 17, 2011

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel by Michael Gerard Bauer

I’m just going to put this out there – it’s really hard to start this review. Half of me is beyond excited that the new Ishmael book is finally here, but the other half is sad because this is the end of one of my favourite literary characters. Well, not the end because Ishmael will definitely live on in the hearts and minds of all who’ve followed his journey but you get what I mean. After this there will be no more Ishmael, unless we can talk MGB into Ishamel and the Uni years but I doubt it. In fact, Hoops of Steel does such a great job of wrapping up the series that I think MGB has made a great decision to finish it exactly as he has.

So, just what is this series I’m raving about? Well, through my day job I stumbled upon an amazing book titled Don’t Call Me Ishmael when it was released in 2006. Here, we are introduced to fourteen year old Ishmael Leseur, sole sufferer to Ishmael Leseur Syndrome, and his gang of misfit friends as they suffer through grade nine at St Daniel’s Boys College. But it’s the voice of Ishmael; a humble, socially awkward, victim of bullying, that makes this series the success that it is. The sequel Ishmael and Return of the Dugongs was released in 2007, and it follows the adventures of Ishmael and his mates in grade ten.

And now here we are, full circle with Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, which incorporates Ishmael’s senior years at St Daniel’s. Ishmael is still the same socially awkward teenager who enthralls readers with his embarrassing adventures as he navigates his way through the minefield known as adolescence. The mates are still misfits, Kelly is still Ishmael’s dream girl – although Razz’s cousin Cindy Sexton might have something to say about that – and the boys all band together for Operation Tarango as they attempt to win the college cup for their favourite teacher. Two years of adventures all rolled into one – including an unforgettable Shakespeare unit on Hamlet, a cyber-peeping tom incident and hula-hooping as a weight loss strategy – Hoops of Steel is classic, funny and original, everything we’ve come to expect in an Ishmael book and more!

For all fans of MGB and Ishmael Leseur, this is the must-read, not to be missed, go and buy it now rather than reading this review, finale. If you have been unlucky enough to have missed Ishmael and his high school adventures and you love YA fiction, please do yourself a favour and read this series. Go all the way back to book one, Don’t Call Me Ishmael and start from the beginning, you won’t be disappointed – I promise! No-one does teenage boy humour as well as MGB and, although it is bittersweet that this is the last of Ishmael and nothing will ever replace them, I’m sure there will be many more MGB books to keep us entertained in the future.

And don’t miss our interview with Michael Gerard Bauer on the Ishmael series coming soon to WLYA. But until then, happy Ishamel reading everyone! 🙂

Posted by: Debbie Kahl | June 13, 2011

Cath Crowley Interview and Graffiti Moon …

Since its release last year, anyone who’s anyone in the world of YA literature has been buzzing about the fabulous Graffiti Moon, written by the equally fabulous Cath Crowley. And with good reason, its an amazing book that engages the reader with its unique plot, intriguing characters and fast moving narrative. If you haven’t discovered Graffiti Moon yet, here’s a little blurb about what you’re missing.

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist. Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose. Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it. Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other. An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

And today, hot on the heels of her recent win in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Graffiti Moon in the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature category – and her shortlisting for the Children’s Book Council of Australia award for Older Readers – we’re lucky enough to interview Cath Crowley on her inspiration behind Graffiti Moon and her writing adventures.

WLYA: Thanks for joining us here are We Love YA Cath. Can you tell us about your inspiration for Graffiti Moon.

The characters in Graffiti Moon are fictional – but the ideas for them came from people I’ve met or heard about while researching. I met a night time poet in a dark park, a girl who told me she was psychic, a boy who knew a boy who had blue hands from painting, a girl who loved to blow glass in Year 12.

Shadow and Lucy, the main characters, connect through art. So the conversations they have are inspired by the artists that I love – Mark Rothko, Sam Leach, Rosemary Laing, Jeffrey Smart, Pablo Picasso, Johannes Vermeer, Michael Zavros, Rosalie Gascoigne, Bethany Wheeler, Ghostpatrol and Miso. I wanted to write about two people who speak through images as well as words. The landscape is a mix of Footscray, Northcote and the city.

WLYA: What were you like as a teenager? Do your characters reflect this?

I read a lot as a teenager. I had great friends who were interested in words and music and film. I was fairly quiet and a bit of a dreamer. I was very curious. There are definitely some similarities between my teenage characters and my teenage self.

But my characters really reflect the specific things I’m interested in now. Graffiti Moon is about what happens when you’re an outsider. It’s about the artworks I love. It’s about how we can feel trapped by our physical and mental landscapes. I’m sure these preoccupations are linked to my teenage years but I didn’t think about them consciously back then.

WLYA: If you could go back in time and give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?

At least until you’re forty, everything will mostly be fine. Even when it isn’t fine. So try not to worry so much.

WLYA: What exciting things are coming up for you?

I’m working on a book called The Howling Boy. It’s a mystery and a love story. Graffiti Moon comes out in America in early 2012. It’s being translated too, so I’ll get to see it in different languages soon, which is exciting for me. 

WLYA: What is the best advice you would give a budding YA writer?

I heard Markus Zusak speaking at Reading Matters and he said something along the lines of – write the book that only you can write. I think about that when I’m working on my novel now and it helps. I think it’s great advice.

WLYA: A lot of authors recommend joining a writers’ group as a way to improve your craft. What’s your opinion on this?

I don’t have a regular writing group but I have writers who will look at my work, discuss it with me and give advice. I’d be lost without them. I think writing groups are great. I studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT and the workshopping was one of the best things about the course. I found the critical feedback invaluable. At a certain stage in my novel, though, I need to block all other voices out except mine. I think it’s important for a writer to trust their instincts.

WLYA: What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?

Making up characters and dialogue. I love it.

WLYA: How often do you get to connect with your YA audience?

I do a lot of school talks, so I get to connect with my teenage audience fairly regularly. I can’t write a lot while I’m on a residency, but when I come home I have a lot of ideas for the page.

WLYA: What are you reading at the moment?  

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and the Poppy series by Gabrielle Wang. Both are great reads.

WLYA: What do you like to do in your spare time?

I go to lectures and talks. I went to a great panel last week that included artists Vernon Ah Kee and Bindi Cole. This weekend I’m going to a talk on jazz and mathematics. I go to galleries and the planetarium. I hang out with friends and family. Most of my ideas happen when I’m not at the computer.

WLYA: What’s your writing life like?

I like to start writing at about five in the morning, earlier if I can get up. This is the best time for me. It’s quiet. There’s no distraction. If I don’t have a school talk on then I’ll work through until the afternoon. I have a break and do some exercise and if I have an idea while I’m out I’ll come back and write some more. Usually I spend the afternoon doing administrative tasks.I mix this routine up with going out and exploring. I look for things that might give me an idea – exhibitions, films and friends.

WLYA: Thank you so much for joining us here at We Love YA and we wish you the very best of luck in the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards.

Thank you Debbie and We Love YA.

For more information on Cath’s writing adventures, make sure you drop by and visit her at www.cathcrowley.com.au/

Posted by: Natalie Hatch | June 13, 2011

A Contest

The girls over at The Bookshelf Muse are having an amazing give away. Critiques, ARCs and a t-shirt are all up for a win. All you have to do is mosey on over and Crack The Code.

The Bookshelf Muse is one of my daily stops on my blog patrol, they have the Emotional Thesaurus (a must read for anyone stuck on how to express something in their ms). While you’re over there tell them we sent you!

 

 

Posted by: Natalie Hatch | May 27, 2011

Interview MJ Hearle – author of Winter’s Shadow

Today we are lucky to have debut writer M.J.Hearle, author of Winter’s Shadow, which has just been released here in Australia. We’ve reviewed the book a few weeks ago but I for one wanted to find out more about this cool author.

What prompted you to write Winter’s Shadow?

Turning thirty. It’s amazing what a big incentive this benchmark birthday was. I’d spent ages twenty to twenty-nine spinning my wheels, trying to be a filmmaker and not having much luck. On the eve of my thirtieth birthday, amidst much neurotic self-introspection, I had this epiphany: I wanted to be a filmmaker because I loved storytelling, why not try and write a novel? It was certainly cheaper than filmmaking and I didn’t have to rely on a bunch of other people to tell my story. Only myself. Since school, I’d been writing consistently – screenplays, short stories etc. – so I was reasonably confident in my craft, however, I’d never attempted anything as ambitious as a novel. 

First though I had to decide what I was going to write about. I’d always loved paranormal fiction, specifically YA paranormal, so it made sense to write in that genre, but I still needed a story. I found my inspiration, somewhat appropriately, in a graveyard. A few years ago I began to notice my metabolism wasn’t doing a very good job of keeping up with my love of pizza and chocolate. It was either give up the junk food or start exercising, so I began to jog. One day, my route took me through Waverly Cemetery which overlooks Sydney’s Bronte beach. I thought I was alone in the cemetery when I noticed a teenage girl photographing the tombstones. As I passed by she took a photograph of me and thus gave me the inspiration I’d been searching for. I began thinking what would happen if, when that girl had her photograph developed, there was a hint of something strange in the picture. Something supernatural. Not a ghost or a vampire or a werewolf but something infinitely more terrible and mysterious.

Three months and 100,00 words later (not to mention several new grey hairs) I had a manuscript which I dutifully sent off to a couple of agents. One of the agents signed me up and the rest, as they say, is history. Winter’s Shadow will be in bookstores on Tuesday (June 2nd) and I couldn’t be more excited.

 Were you anything like your heroine/hero when you were a teen?

Absolutely. Apart from the plumbing, Winter and I are quite similar. Just like her I was a shy, introspective and highly imaginative teenager. I didn’t fall in love with any supernatural creatures but I certainly had my fair share of heartbreak and teenage angst – all of which I poured into the book.

 What did you find hardest when you were world building?

The architectural details. When I was imagining the Dead Lands it felt like I was trying to view this strange new world through a thick veil of mist. All I could see were dark shapes and hazy outlines. Occasionally, the mist would clear and I’d see a section more clearly but it was a constant process of discovery and exploration.

Where do you write? Do you have a special place that helps your creativity more than others?

Alas I have no special place to write, only the place available to me, which is at a small desk, squashed up at the foot of my bed.

I’ve read interviews with successful authors who talk about writing in a separate cottage they’ve had built in their garden. That sounds pretty good to me. One day I would like a small garden cottage to write in, until then, I’m stuck here –

Interestingly, I find writing in a parked car sometimes beneficial. There’s absolutely no distractions and you can drive to a quiet place with a nice view.

 Is there any special time you write?

Whenever I have a spare moment. I work a full time job so I usually write in the evening when I get home. I tried getting up early to write but that wasn’t for me. I’m not a morning person, so I’d just stare groggily at my computer screen thinking about coffee and tim tams.

 Winter’s Shadow has just been released, what’s been the hardest thing as a writer so far in your road to publication?

Marketing. I was incredibly lucky getting an agent and scoring a publishing deal (see my blog mjhearle.com for more info on this), however, now the book is coming out I’m finding marketing it a real challenge. Because I’ve created an entirely new supernatural mythology it’s not very easy explaining to people what the book’s about without going into enormous detail. I can’t just say it’s about vampires or werewolves or angels or fairies or any of the other pre-existing creatures familiar to readers. While, this makes crafting a snappy logline difficult, I’m hoping it will also be the factor that helps Winter’s Shadow stand out from the crowd. I think readers are ready for a new monster to fall in love with.

 Any advice you could give a budding YA writer?

Write and read as much as you can. The wonderful thing about reading a lot is sooner or later you’ll come across a book and think to yourself, ‘I can do better than this!’ And you will!

 Is there any YA book out there on the market that you wish you had written?

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a small miracle. I can’t wait to be a parent so I can read it aloud to my children.

 Do you ever act out any of your scenes?

Sure, I have a red wig and dress I put on whenever I’m trying to find Winter’s voice. Seriously though, it’s incredibly beneficial saying all the dialogue aloud before writing it down. Here’s a quick tip for dialogue: people generally don’t talk in complete, well structured sentences so don’t be afraid of writing gramatically incorrect dialogue. Learn to love ellipses and em dashes. 

What’s next on your writing plate? (this is not a hint to hurry up and finish the next book at all, nope not trying to push you along here, I’ll wait, for a little bit)

Ha Ha! It’s funny you should mention that. I’m actually putting the finishing touches on the first draft of the sequel to Winter’s Shadow now. It’s called Winter’s Light (or maybe Winter’s Key? I haven’t decided yet) and takes Winter’s story in an exciting and (hopefully) unexpected new direction. I’m also toying with turning Winter’s Shadow into a TV pilot. I think the first novel would lend itself well to the hour long drama format. And then of course there’s the third novel in the Winter Saga which I’ll have to get started as well. It’s definitely going to be a busy year!

 Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a writer?

Write the first draft as quickly as you can. Don’t worry about getting every sentence perfect – that’s what the rewrite’s for – just get your story down on the page. The writing process is fraught with insecurity, the faster you write the less time you’ll have to second guess yourself. 

MJ thanks for answering our questions, can’t wait to see what book no.2 has in store for us. 

Posted by: Natalie Hatch | May 21, 2011

Forsaken – The Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver

From the Back Cover:

Riley Blackthorne.

Kicking hell’s ass one demon at a time.

Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she’s already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it’s tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he’s God’s gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her life.

One thing’s for sure – if she doesn’t keep her wits about her there’ll be hell to pay . . .

Oh, oh, oh! This has to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. No word of a lie. I really, really, really enjoyed it. It had a definite Gena Showalter/Kim Hamilton feel to it (without too much hotness), and the protag, Riley, was spot on!

Jana Oliver has done great things with this story and I can’t wait to read her next in the series “Forbidden”. I have to find out what happens next. I bought the book on the pretext of giving it to my daughter for her birthday, but um, well I had to read it, so she begrudgingly let me. Soo good. Did I say this already? Jana’s other series is quite good, but The Demon Trappers series has really captured my attention. Who wouldn’t want to kick some demon butt?

It’s out already and Forbidden is being released here in Australia in August.


Posted by: Natalie Hatch | May 19, 2011

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

I‘ve been on an Amanda Hocking binge lately. She’s great. Her latest “Hollowland” certainly was worth it. Admittedly I had to download Amazon’s free Kindle for PCs package before I could buy it. The price of the book certainly stunned me 99c US. What? Come on, after the Trylle Trilogy was so amazing you’re telling me she’s still selling her books dirt cheap? Why? Her writings great, why give it away so cheaply?

I don’t know the answer just yet, but I will find out. Meanwhile you and I can be very frugal and get the book now, before anyone in the business knows what a bargain they’re giving away. Hollowland won’t disappoint you. Oh did I mention Zombie Apocalypse? Yeah, that’s what Hollowland is all about. Love it!

Hollowland – the first book in the young adult dystopian series The Hollows
“This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

One of the best things about being on the fringes of the Brisbane Literary scene is that you get to meet lots of authors. These wonderfully supportive and friendly bunch of people are always willing to chat to emerging authors and give advice on all things writing.

One such author is the fabulous Marianne de Pierres – best known for the multi-award nominated Parrish Plessis and Sentiments of Orion series. She also happens to write the Tara Sharp series under the pseudonym, Marianne Delacourt. The Night Creatures series is Marianne’s first venture into the YA market, and I was lucky enough to catch up with her for an interview regarding the first book, Burn Bright.

Thanks for joining us today Marianne. Tell us about your inspiration for Burn Bright.

A lot of ideas came together to make this book. I was very interested in nocturnal lifestyles and have an attraction to gothic architecture.  Also, having lived on an island for a period of time, I find them great places to set stories. To add to those things, I wanted to write the book I would have loved to read as a teenager. So I did. 🙂

You’re well known as an adult science-fiction writer, so what prompted this move into the YA market?

It was the story that came first. I didn’t ever really decide to “write for YA” as such. I just wrote a story I wanted to write and the protagonist turned out to be a sixteen.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m a reader who grazes. At the moment I’m reading novels by Michael Connelly, Michael Robothom, Laura Gilman, William Gibson, Lauren Kate and Jonathan Lethem.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I play basketball and enjoy going to the movies with my sons. I don’t get a lot of free time though, so when I do, I sneak in a new TV series on DVD. Currently I have The Tudors, Painkiller Jane, The Killing and The Wire all waiting to go when I get an opportunity.

What were you like as a teenager? Do your characters reflect this?

I think I was quite serious and overly sensitive. I remember one of my parent’s friends telling them that I was very introverted. Funnily, I never thought of myself like that. I know I spent a lot of time reading and listening to music. I guess I was able to draw on some that to help build Retra/Naif’s character.

If  you could go back in time and give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would have encouraged myself to be more confident.  Confidence is gold for a teenager. Actually, it’s gold for anyone.

What is your writing life like?  

Fairly structured and consistent. I write 5-6 days a week in the mornings. I’ve never been able to write in the evenings, my mind just seems to shut down at about 7pm. As I’m waking up in the morning though, it fires on all cylinders, solving plot problems when I’m barely awake. Sometimes I have to jump out of bed and write things down to capture them.

What exciting things are coming up for you?

I always enjoy the Supanova events andSydneyandPerthare coming up in June 2011. Then there is a Sisters in Crime convention in October. On top of that I get to go to Voices on the Coast and the Brisbane Writers festival this year. All in all a bunch of fun things.

What is the best advice you would give a budding YA writer?

Read widely and finish what you begin. There is nothing so unproductive as a file full of half-written stories. I also have a list of tips on my website: http://www.mariannedepierres.com/extras/writing-tips/

A lot of authors recommend joining a writers’ group as a way to improve your craft. What’s your opinion on this?

I think it’s an excellent idea; you just have to find the group that’s right for you.  At the very least find a critiquing partner, someone who has enough knowledge to give you informed feedback.

What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?

Spending my days creating my own worlds; getting paid to fool around in my own imagination. Oh … and not having to commute.

How often do you get to connect with your YA audience?

As you know, YA is a new audience for me, so I’m really only just beginning to meet readers of Burn Bright. I’ve been visiting schools and young people are contacting me through Twitter and Facebook. Random House are also running a book trailer competition for teens, so I’ve been talking to lots or people about that.  

Don’t miss out on …

Book two, Angel Arias, is out in November and there’s also a dedicated song written for Burn Bright which is also called Angel Arias. You can download it from iTunes and my website: http://www.burnbright.com.au/the-music/

Marianne, thank you so much for joining us here at We Love YA. We wish you all the very best with your Burn Bright series and cannot wait for the launch of book two in November.  

Thanks Debbie!

You can visit Marianne at her website – http://www.mariannedepierres.com/ or at her YA site –  http://www.burnbright.com.au/ 

And don’t miss out on the chance to make a teen book video about Burn Bright and enter it in the Random House Teen Book Video Awards.

For more information visit http://www.randomhouse.com.au/Kids/Default/Page/General/Section/teenbookvideoawards/

Posted by: Debbie Kahl | May 13, 2011

Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.

Welcome to Ixion … Island of ever-dark. Enter at your own risk. Stay, if you’re strong enough…

Not usually a fan of the speculative fiction genre, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the cover of Marianne de Pierres’ YA novel Burn Bright. Dark, magical, mystical, enthralling – it hooked me from the moment I saw it. And even though we’re always taught to ‘never judge a book by its cover’, let me tell you that with this one, I’m so glad I did. It’s brilliant! But don’t just take my word for it, read the blurb for yourself.

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness.

And if you’re not hooked yet, let me tell you why you should be …

Well firstly, it’s a great narrative. The concept of an island where youth is worshipped and partying is mandatory sounds like the perfect place for the young, or the young at heart. But Marianne carefully weaves throughout the story a message that all youth should learn and remember – everything good comes at a price and nothing is ever as it appears. And just like the world these youth have tried so desperately to escape, there are rules to be obeyed and dire consequences for those who break them.

But it’s Retra’s journey; from overprotected innocent to self-assured rebel that is the most compelling for me. After running away from the only life she’s ever known and risking everything to find her brother, Retra becomes entranced with the pleasures Ixion is famous for. The pleasures she firmly believed would not consume her before her arrival at Ixion. But it’s the dark side of Ixion, and the pleasures sought by the youth there, that also strengthen Retra as a person and keep us turning the pages.  

From a reader’s perspective, this book really took off when Ruzalia and her band of renegades arrived and mixed things up for Retra. I can only hope that Ruzalia will feature more prominently in book two, Angel Arias, which is due for release in November.

This is an excellent book for the older readers in the YA market and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone, who is interested in YA issues and speculative fiction.

Make sure you visit Marianne’s website for Burn Bright at www.burnbright.com.au and stay tuned for our interview with the author herself on the inspiration behind Burn Bright.


 

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