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! 🙂

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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.


 

Well, after Alex Smith popped up on my blog post about Moving Pictures, and announced a Moving Pictures tour in July, I couldn’t resist asking him for an interview!  And happily he obliged.

Welcome to the blog, Alex.

Tell us about the beginnings of Moving Pictures.  How did the band get started?

I had been singing in bands around Sydney for quite a few years,singing blues,soul, jazz, r&b and rock.

I had started writing songs and began to think about a line-up that could play them as I heard them. Ian had been in a band called “This side up” with me and I knew I wanted him.  He brought Paul Freeland into the mix. I heard Charlie playing with The Great Dividing Band …  and kinda poached him and moved into his house.  I had known Garry through a girlfriend of mine, I thought he was out of town fruit picking BUT he turned up at our guitar audition and that was it. I had gone to high school (St Ives High) with Andy and we had been in bands together since we were twelve! He turned up at our first official gig and was too big to get rid of. And the rest as they say was history or was that hysterical.

Did you always want to be a singer?

It is all that has ever meant anything to me. Little bloke,no good at sport etc, bad at school, but big voice and confidence — not a really hard equation really.

Who are your musical influences and why?

I think my two main musical influences are a guy called Martin Apte who was the guitar player in my high school band and a very dear old friend of mine called Bohdan Polanski who was a guy who was a few years older than us, but, who encouraged and mentored in a most wonderful and enthusiastic way.
Outside that I wanted a band that sounded like a cross between Ian Hunter and Graham Parker.

What is your favourite memory of the band?

Just being in it. ( you had to be there!!!!!)

What is your favourite Moving Pictures song to perform?

That kinda changes a lot. It was so long ago. But I think Wings…. Sisters of Mercy…. Cherie….

What is your songwriting process? Music or lyric first?

I don’t really have a process ( that used to drive them crazy in America). Sometimes words, next time chords or melody or a riff. Sometimes the song is written in 3 or 5 minutes sometimes it may take 20 years .

Which song do you wish you had written and why?

“Love minus zero/no limit”  by Bob Dylan …..   well, Just because it is a song of perfect abstract beauty.

 Last tour you said you had to relearn the songs.  Do you have to relearn them this time around?

A lot of practice has been going on in my house. I think my neighbours are putting together a petition to get rid of me. ( It’s a bit like the villagers with pitch forks in a Frankenstien movie)

 Have you been writing or performing since the last incarnation of Moving Pictures?

I always write.. thats what I do.. It’s not a tap you can turn off.
I have a little band called “The interpreters ” That plays the odd gig (very odd really)

We play a kinda weird Gumbo of swampy soul… Dr John etc  just 3 guys no bass, no drums. 2 guitars and piano.
It’s fun and no pressure. And I get to sing.

 Any chance of a new Moving Pictures album?

Chance would be a fine thing….. Who knows … all our lives have moved along they’re own paths.

Do you cringe in pain as much as I do at the awful insurance ads? 

The Advantage of living in London is that I have NO idea……

See you all soon     Alex (wol) Smith

You can catch Moving Pictures and relive your own days of innocence at the following venues:

Lizottes, Newcastle – Saturday 23 July and Sunday 24 July – tickets on sale now.

Palais Theatre, Melbourne – Friday 29 July  – tickets available through Ticketmaster

State Theatre, Sydney – Saturday 30 July – tickets available through Ticketmaster

Tickets on sale Monday 16 May.  Ticketmaster pre-sale starts Tuesday 10 May.

I’ll be at the State Theatre on 30 July.  Who else is going?

Posted by: Natalie Hatch | May 7, 2011

Mystery of Nida Valley by Elaine Outson

Elaine Ouston is a debut author of a fabulous novel which combines dinosaurs, magical powers and the irascibility of kids who won’t give up no matter what. Mystery of Nida Valley has it’s own website where kids can win prizes including a $300 eBook reader. (I think I’m going to enter a few times! Want me one of those ebook readers for sure). You can access the site HERE
Here’s the book blurb:
When Meg Sealy woke that fateful morning, she had no idea that by day’s end the life that she had known would be gone forever…
While saving her best friend Amanda, fourteen year old Meg Sealy and her older cousin Jaiden stumble upon a secret valley where time stands still. The three friends are thrust into a dangerous world of magic, time travel, and creatures they believed extinct. Here they learn that it is their destiny to use their new magic skills to join the fight to save the valley from an evil break-away order, bent on exploitation.
Follow their journey as undercover villains threaten Meg’s life, and they fight to save the animals from extinction.
Elaine has created a great start to what promises to be a fantastic series set in Queensland. She has used her knowledge of paleontology to create a great paced read. It felt similar to Richard Newsome’s “Billionaire’s Curse” and will be a hit with kids 9 and older. I loved the setting, the use of good science mixed with magic (can’t get enough of magic really can we?) and the genuine ‘healthy’ storyline – there’s good guys/bad guys without too much angst or misery, and the book rockets along dragging you through the Valley and beyond. Oh and did I mention dinosaurs? Yeah, them too!
I was lucky enough to get hold of Elaine and ask her about her journey to self-publishing, and after a bit of arm twisting she shared this gem with me. Take it away Elaine!
On the subject of self-publishing: A couple of years back, as test of the worth of independent publishing, I went to CreateSpace, a publishing arm of Amazon. I published the first animal book, Lost in a Strange Land with them. The result was not good, but that was my fault. I did no promotion for it at all. I decided then that self-publishing was not the way to go, but since then many things have changed. Independently published books have become more widely accepted. A couple of distributors will now represent them; depending on their quality and worth of course. With this avenue opened, it is not then much different to being published by a recognised publishing house. It is mostly up to the author to arrange their publicity, book signings etc anyway, so it is business as usual.
I also looked into partner publishing, but their distribution system was not good enough to warrant the upfront cost and the commission. For the same upfront money, I could hire an editor and print my book. Having a distributor is an advantage for getting the widest coverage. However, for anything I sell through the distributor, I will not receive any more money than I would if I went through a publishing house – less than 10% of the retail price. I will make more on anything I sell through my website but I won’t reach as many people. I used Publicious on the Gold Coast to set up and distribute my eBook to America and Britain and they brokered the printing for me. My background in marketing is a huge bonus to me. I sat back, looked at the situation, and said, “How would I approach this if a client came to me to help market their book?” I then set up the marketing plan as I would for a client. How successful this will be is still to be proven, but if I fail, it will be my fault. And I will accept full responsibility for that.
Thanks Elaine. Did I mention that Elaine is also a freelance editor and a graphic designer? The first chapter of The Mystery of Nida Valley is available HERE. You can purchase the book as an eBook or printed copy through this LINK.

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