Thursday, 29 January 2015

Friday Funnies: A Used New Year

I wonder if Lucy could get a refund? Seriously, of the Peanuts gang, Lucy would appear to be the one who is not only the most reactionary and self-centred, but the one least able to apply common sense or logic to the situation at hand. (Though in some comics Sally Brown can run a close second.) Poor Charlie Brown, as usual, knows that Lucy is wrong, but seems too stunned to be able to say anything.

1990s Nostalgia: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith

A few years ago, the novels of L.J. Smith made a bit of a comeback thanks her series The Vampire Diaries being made into a popular television series. I can recall these books being around when I was a kid, sharing the same shelves and dark, trashy covers as books by horror YA novelists like R.L. Stine, Diane Hoh and Christopher Pike. A huge part of the appeal was always the cheap, trashy, and melodramatic feel that can probably be summed up by this cover:

Equally popular as the Vampire Diaries back in the early 1990s was the pictured L.J. Smith series The Secret Circle I was a little surprised to discover that this one has also been made into a television series recently and this intrigued me. I remembered very little about the dramatic adventures of a young woman who discovers that her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches and decided to reread the first book just for fun. Book one, The Initiation follows the dramatic adventures a girl named Cassie who discovers her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches. Some of the witches are nice, some are not so nice and Cassie should definitely not be falling for Adam the boyfriend of Diana, the witch who is kindest to her ...

As is often the case when I return to reading some of my favourite pulpy childhood reads, The Initiation was a bit of a let down. Although it was intelligently written and had a number of interesting turns, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief on a number of occasions. Of course, at the time, the melodrama was a bit part of the appeal, as was the fact that every adult in the novel seemed not only distant, but completely incompetent (always a big plus when I was a kid).

There are a number of questions that remained unanswered at the end of the book, however these were probably addressed in the sequels, The Captive and The Power. I was also amused to discover when I researched this post that in 2012, twenty years after the release of The Power and to coincide with the new television series a number of books penned written by ghostwriters were added to the series. (Apparently, L.J. Smith was fired from her publisher after a dispute regarding a plot twist. Read more here.)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Brian Kavanagh

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Australian author, Brian Kavanagh ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I’m what is known as ‘retired’ but in fact, seem to be busier than ever. I was a film maker, that being sometimes one of the following; producer, director, editor, writer and dogsbody. This was all in the Australian film industry, which up until the 1970’s had been moribund. A group of local filmmakers agitated for the Government to be supportive of the industry; our request was acknowledged and finally there was recognition for local films. So my background has been story telling in a visual form. About ten years ago work began to dry up and to fill in time until the telephone rang – it didn’t – I began to write and decided that mystery books were among my favourites, so it seemed natural to begin to write them.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

A WICKED DESIGN follows the central character in my mystery series, Belinda Lawrence, back from Europe to her home town of Melbourne, Australia. Naturally, in the tradition of mystery series, she stumbles across a crime, which in turn leads to an adventure involving unscrupulous historical facts about political life in Melbourne, and the current atmosphere surrounding the debate on Republicism verses Monarchy.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

As I said, I started writing while waiting for work. It was through the foresight of Meredith Whitford at the then Jacobite Books in Adelaide, that the first two books in my series were published. Meredith could see the potential, which others didn’t, and so I am grateful to her for offering to publish. 

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

I would have to say, when after publishing the first book CAPABLE OF MURDER over ten years ago, to see it reach #1 Best Selling Women Sleuths on Amazon Australia Kindle. It stayed in that position for about six weeks and in fact, at one point, four of my books were in the top 8 Best Sellers (July 2014) including A CANTERBURY CRIME, BLOODY HAM, A WICKED DESIGN.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I’m currently writing the sixth book in my Belinda Lawrence mystery series. With the working title of MURDER ON THE ISLAND it takes Belinda back to Europe and centres around an historical event. Historical happenings or items of historical importance are at the core of each mystery, but they are in contemporary settings and locations. I have another book in development THE PASSING BELL, which is not a mystery but a story of isolation and misunderstanding between siblings.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

Both have their place and value. I tend to read contemporary fiction as eBooks and prefer Paper for classics and non-fiction.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

As I had no success with traditional publishers, Indie was a successful outlet for my books. I believe there is a shortage of entrepreneurs these days in publishing (and in the film industry) whereby publishers are driven by their own tastes rather than assessing the value of a book, realising the market for it and acting upon it. That of course is their loss, but it means that many writers are forced into Indie publishing, sometimes to their advantage.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Difficult call. I think Watcher On A Cast Iron Balcony by Hal Porter (indeed all of his books) is a book Australians (and others) should seek out.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

I have fond memories of my time in Adelaide when the South Australian Film Corporation was set up by Don Dunstan. I spent a year there as Script editor, and Producer of pilot episodes for children’s TV series. I know we have a tendency to be mock critical of each other’s capital cities, but each city has its own personality and as Australians we should celebrate those differences.


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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: Love & Other Lies by Madeline Ash

Love & Other Lies is a thoroughly entertaining lightweight romance with a somewhat surprising backstory. Veterinarian Abby Benson moved to Belgulla, a small Australian town eighteen months ago. Putting a dark past behind her--which centres around her problems with compulsive lying--Abby is determined to make good and not to tell any more lies. All seems to be going well until tourist Rue Benson appears in town and Abby finds herself telling just one little lie ...

I loved this one for its unique premise. I found Abby to be quite a realistic and believable character, give her past and circumstances. Rue's attempts to reinvent himself to appear more desirable to Abby were quite amusing--especially as he is not terribly good at playing the part of the stereotypical 'bad' boy--and it was fun to watch the characters develop, grow and reveal the truth about themselves. The opening chapter--where Abby and Rue meet and rescue a dog that has been caught in a fence--is quite dramatic and the story then leads in to a pleasant and entertaining romance. There are also a couple of teary moments and unexpected twists and I found myself laughing and crying along with Abby and Rue.

A fun and distinctly Australian romance novel about love ... and other lies. 

Thank you to Destiny Romance/Penguin Books for supplying me an ARC via netgalley. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

This funny looking chap (or chappette,) appeared in Rundle Mall in December outside the Myer Centre (near the western entrance,) and has been frightening shoppers and passersby ever since. I am not sure that I like this one, though I do appreciate the way it forced me to react and respond.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Off Topic: Ugly? Who Cares?

Image courtesy of stockimages at

I read this article on Cosmopolitan recently and it really pissed me off. (So much so that I have decided to write a blog about it.) The story is about a young woman who has a negative self belief that she is ugly and about a bad experience at a nightclub. On the surface, this article looks like a sad story about a woman who has been discriminated against. Look a bit closer and you'll see that it is intended to inspire fear of rejection and of "being ugly" among the target readership, as well as the idea that a woman's self-worth comes from the validation of men.  

Here's a better idea. How about writing an article encouraging women to empower themselves, and how to have a good night out without giving a fuck about what other people think? In fact, here are some tips on how to be an empowered, independent woman at a nightclub:

1. Pay your own bloody entrance fee, and buy your own bloody drinks. That's called being an adult. If someone offers to buy you a drink, consider it a gift, not your right. Same as you are not obligated to kiss, dance or sleep with anyone who buys you a drink. 

2. Go out to clubs with the objective of dancing and making new friends. You are not obligated to hook up with anyone and nor are they obligated to hook up with you.

3. No one actually gives a flying fuck if you leave alone. You shouldn't care either.

4. Don't base your entire social life around clubbing. Having a range of hobbies, interests and friends and an ability to communicate with others without the aid of alcohol is what will help shape you as a person.

And, finally ...

5. The bad news is that opinions of other people are totally subjective and you cannot control their actions. You cannot force anyone to talk to you, dance with you or find you attractive. The good news is that it doesn't matter.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

2015 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

For the third year running, I am participating the the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. Hosted by Book'd Out this blog hop is a great initiative and an awesome way to connect bloggers with some great Australian fiction. (And once you've finished here, don't forget to head to Book'd Out to see the full list of participants.)

This year, I will be giving away three prizes, all of which are books written by yours truly, mostly because I am into blatant self-promotion like that. The books are:

  • An autographed copy of Everybody Hates Abigail, my latest book which about a girl growing up in a small, South Australian town in the mid 1990s.
  • An autographed copy of Cats, Scarves and Liars, an unlikely tale that features murders, a red scarf and a talking cat.
  • An autographed copy of Behind the Scenes, which is about a young woman who scores a role on her favourite TV soap but soon discovers that the real dramas are the ones that occur behind the scenes.

Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, and feel free to tell me in the comments section how all you awesome folk are planning to spend the Australia Day weekend. This competition is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway