Thursday, 30 October 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Politically Correct Book Club Disbanded After First Meeting

ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA--A book club for parents interested in sharing politically correct reading material with their children has disbanded after one meeting as the members could not agree on which children's books were politically correct. "Obviously it's disappointing," a spokesperson for the group, who wished only to be known as Willow, told one of our reporters. "I started this group with the best of intentions."

The group was formed after Willow developed concerns that the stories that were being read to her five-year-old son at child care were inappropriate. "I found the whole concept of this ... Green Eggs and Ham to be quite disturbing. I don't think it's appropriate that children should be reading books where the main character is being offered food by a complete stranger. That's sending a bad message to children if you ask me. Also, in our family, we eat a vegan diet."

Initially, Willow intended to have Green Eggs and Ham banned, but her calls fell on deaf ears. She was also unable to find any childhood education experts, child psychologists or children's librarians who would support her cause. Instead, one of the librarians Willow consulted suggested that she form a book club with likeminded parents, where they could all read and discuss what books they did consider to be suitable. "I thought that this was a great idea," Willow said. "And so, along with a number of parents from my sons child care centre, we formed the Politically Correct Book Club." While forming the book club was easy, Willow discovered, agreeing on books to read was not. "For every member who put forward a suggestion, we had another person who was quick to point out how the book may be unsuitable for children. For example, one parent suggested Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but another aired concerns that the story sent out a message that it was okay to break inside another persons house. Another parent was worried that children may be frightened by the ending, where the three bears confront Goldilocks ..."

The meeting soon dissolved in an all out-competition of which family was the most politically correct. One parent was quick to slam another who allowed their eight-year-old daughter to read Garfield comics, when the star of the comic was "Greedy and often mean to his sidekick Odie." The parent responded by branding Willow a hypocrite and then opening Willow's leather handbag to reveal that she had a ham and egg sandwich inside.

The children of the group, meanwhile, spent the morning playing peacefully outside, where they re-enacted scenes from Green Eggs and Ham ...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Alan Baxter

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with British-Australian author Alan Baxter, whose brilliant series Bound was released back in August ...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I’m a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. I also teach Kung Fu. I’m the author of the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published by HarperVoyager Australia, and the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance 1 and 2) from Gryphonwood Press. I co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. I also write short fiction with more than 50 stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France. My short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction (forthcoming), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than twenty anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 and 2012). I also write narrative arcs and dialogue for videogames and I wrote the popular writer’s resource, Write The Fight Right, a short ebook about writing convincing fight scenes.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My latest novel in print is Bound (Alex Caine #1) Published by HarperVoyager, 2014. The blurb goes like this:

Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.

An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.

A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards destruction and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him – the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it

Book 2, Obsidian, and Book 3, Abduction, are also out now in ebook, with print to follow soon.
While Bound is the first book in what is so far a trilogy, it’s a standalone novel in its own right. Each book in the Alex Caine series is a standalone novel, with overarching storylines that span the series. So you don’t need to wait for the others before you start reading. And if you’ve read Bound and are keen to get Obsidian and Abduction in print rather than ebook, hassle your local bookstore to put them on order for you.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

The first time was actually with short fiction. I was paid $5 for a short story by an online horror magazine called The Harrow and I was over the moon. An editor had read, enjoyed and bought something I’d written. The fact that it was only $5 was irrelevant – I was a published author. I’ve been building on that ever since!

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

Signing a three book deal with Harper Voyager is by far the high point so far – it’s a real dream come true to sign with one of the “Big 5” publishers, especially in a multi-book deal. I’ve also recently sold a short story to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction which is like the holy grail of short fiction markets for me. I’ve always wanted to sell there and I finally have!

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

I’ve just sent a novelette to an editor who invited me to submit for anthology his press has coming out next year. I’ll hear at some point whether or not that gets accepted. I’ve also just finished a new standalone horror novel which is out with my highly valued beta readers right now, so I’m looking forward to hearing some feedback on that soon. Then I’ll polish it up, taking their advice, and send it off to my agent to see if we can sell that. And I’ve just broken ground on a new standalone novel, a serial killer horror story.

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

Depends on the context. I read probably 50/50 print and electronic these days. I love my iPad Mini and it’s great for travelling and reading anywhere. But I’m a shocking bibliophile too and love my bookshelves. I’ll often buy a hard copy of an ebook I really enjoy because I’ll want to have it on my shelves. I do greatly enjoy ebooks, but print is still king.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Both. I’m a hybrid author. I’ve self-published (still have some self-published stuff out there), been published at short, novella and novel length with small press in various countries and I’m now published by Harper Collins. So I’ve run the gamut. Again, different choices for different reasons. There’s no one way, no right or wrong way, to publish these days. But I’ve always chased the big traditional deal, and I’m so pleased to have done it with The Alex Caine Series.

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

So many! I always recommend anything by Clive Barker – he’s probably been a bigger influence on me than any other writer.

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

Don’t go changing, Radelaide! And if you can, head over to Collins Booksellers in Edwardstown – they’re a great little shop with an absolute passion for books. And if you’re lucky, they’ll still have some signed copies of Bound left from when I visited. Dymocks in Rundle Mall might have some signed copies left too.


Bound is available from all bookstores – if they don’t have it in, they can order it for you in no time. Otherwise, check my website – - and click on any book cover you see there for excerpts, reviews, buy options, etc. And if anyone wants a signed copy of any of my books, drop me an email to and we’ll sort something out.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

Breaking Butterflies is an intelligent and thought provoking novel, written when the author was just eighteen. Although the premise may be a little far-fetched, the insight into abusive relationships and the way that people can become bound to those who frighten them is brilliant. Our heroine, Sphinx, believes that she and Cadence are bound to one another due to a childish promise that their mothers made many years ago at age seven that if they were to have a boy and a girl, the pair would grow up to marry one another. As a child, Sphinx simply accepts this as inevitable and perhaps just a little romantic. Cadence seems to want her around--but it must be on his terms. The relationship comes to a head when the psychologically disturbed Cadence discovers that he has a terminal illness and just a few months to live. He wants Sphinx to die with him, but will she?

As previously stated, the premise is a little far-fetched and the insight into abusive relationships is brilliant. Sphinx is an interesting heroine, she's a peacekeeper who feels things in abundance and believes in the promises that her mothers made. Cadence is adept at manipulating those around him, particularly Sphinx. The prose is intelligent and ending is a satisfying one. Recommended. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Year of the Horse ... this simple painting sits at the Grote Street entrance to China Town/Moonta Street and is there to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

1990s Nostalgia: Shuz by Murray P. Heasley

Shuz was a story about a multicultural group of kids who lived in Adelaide who were a bit obsessed with sneakers. They won an overseas trip to the factory where their favourite brand of shoes were made and while there managed to outwit a group of criminals. I remember this one mostly because of the local setting and because it was used as a class text in my year eight English class, under the watchful eye of our teacher, Miss Fitt. (Yes, that really was her name.)

When I started researching this one, I was not surprised to discover that Shuz has been out of print for some time. It would seem very dated and perhaps a bit irrelevant to kids today. What surprised me more was that no one else seems to have even heard of it. From what little biographical information I can find, it was published in 1993 by Omnibus books and the ISBN is 9781862911611. There is no entry on goodreads (I do not have librarian status on goodreads, so I cannot add it.) Nor can I find a picture of the book anywhere or a description. A google search brings up nine matches. 

If anyone knows where I can find out more details about this one, feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

How far would you go to help your family? Would you be willing to make a deal with a longstanding enemy? That is the premise of Devoured, a sexy New Adult romance that is the first in a series by Emily Snow. 

Devoured is short and fairly light reading--I managed to read the book in one sitting. The heroine is Sienna, a young and outspoken redhead who had her heart broken by rock star Lucas Wolfe two years earlier. Now, the bank has foreclosed on the log cabin that belongs to Sienna's grandmother. Lucas has bought the home and promised Sienna that she and her grandmother can have it back--provided that Sienna is willing to work with him as his PA for ten days straight. From there, the novel flips back and forth between Fifty Shades style shenanigans where Lucas holds all the power and a sweet, Mills and Boon style romance. As previously stated, the novel is short and is over before it really starts. 

A good read for fans of new adult romance. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Funnies: Damn Meddling Kids

What would cartoonland do without those damn, meddling kids?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: Pieces of a Lie by Rowena Holloway

Adelaide author Rowena Holloway's debut crime novel is a tale that comes with a very macabre twist ... a twist that is best not read while one is alone in semi-darkness. Mina Everton is a young woman who has suffered some tough blows in her short life--first she was deserted by her criminal father and then her beloved mother died after a long illness. An outcast in her home town, she gets by collecting and selling antiques, a job that eventually brings her to into contact with the criminal underworld and Detective Lincoln Drummond, a man with troubles of his own ...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pieces of a Lie. Although some parts of the story early on felt a little slow, the story soon gained momentum and the last hundred pages were a real roller coaster ride with lost of surprising twists and turns, including one very macabre discovery that I was not expecting.  It is difficult to go into detail with this one without giving too much away, though I will say that Mina is an interesting heroine--Mina is nobody's fool, though she can often find herself in dangerous situations. She may also be a perfect match for Linc, a strong willed but honest cop ... if only she could admit it. I loved the South Australian setting, the use of Australian slang and some of the descriptions of smaller, little known things about life here--it's not often that I read a book where the heroine is reading the same community newspaper that I get delivered to my doorstep every week. 

A solid debut novel. Recommended. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Girl on a Slide was created in 1977 and donated to the people of Adelaide by John Martins department store to celebrate the opening of Rundle Mall. While John Martins sadly closed its doors in 1998, this sculpture still stands proudly, having survived numerous upgrades within the mall. Its creator, South Australia John Dowie was also responsible for the fountain in Victoria Square. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey

Australian author Peter Carey's latest novel is an interesting take on personal freedom, Australian history and the sometimes uneasy diplomatic relationship that Australia has with America, all written in the authors trademark smart-arsed style, the kind that makes readers either love or loathe this particular author. At the opening of Amnesia young woman from Melbourne, Gaby Baillieux has unleashed a worm into the computerised control system of a number of prisons in Australia, the United States and in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, in Sydney, left wing journalist Felix Moore is being sued for libel for reporting on a rumour. The pair soon come together in the most surprising and perhaps ironic of ways--after Felix is more or less kidnapped and held to ransom until he agrees to write a biography of Gaby Bailliex that will help her win the sympathy of the Australian public (thus decreasing her chances of being extradited to the United States.) 

Throughout the narrative Carey retells parts of Australian history that have been forgotten--parts of our collective amnesia--such as the Battle of Brisbane and former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's relationship with the CIA shortly before his infamous sacking in 1975. (Did the CIA really get rid of Gough? This is a conspiracy theory that I have heard many times, though it was never mentioned when I learned about the constitutional crisis of 1975 in high school ...) It is fitting that these forgotten parts of Australian history are mentioned in Amnesia as each of these events are somehow connected with Gaby Bailliex and her family history. Bailliex herself is a complex character, a young woman who seems to want desperately to be seen making a stand and doing something proactive against things that she believes to be wrong.

I enjoyed reading Amnesia. Although it probably sounds like a cop-out by someone who is unwilling try a little bit harder (and perhaps it is just that,) I strongly suspect that I am not the best or most qualified person to be offering a detailed review. It is a book, I feel, that would be immensely enjoyed by readers who has a strong grasp of Australian history and politics--including some that which is made up of our collective amnesia--and who can bring that prior knowledge with them to the book. 

Or maybe in a funny way that is the point--to illustrate how much of Australian history remains unknown to its citizens.

Thank you to Penguin Books Australia and The Reading Room for my review copy.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Q&A With Ellie O'Neill author of Reluctantly Charmed

Today is my stop on the Reluctantly Charmed blog tour and to celebrate, I'm chatting with author Ellie O'Neill about her debut novel, Irish Folklore and a few other things besides ...

Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed. Can you tell me a bit about your journey toward publication? Is writing a novel something that you have always wanted to do?

Yes, definitely.  I had that unscratchable itch that people talk about. I tried hard to develop my voice over the years by writing a lot of short stories and studying and dissecting books that I’d read and loved.  When I got the idea for Reluctantly Charmed I did something that I probably wouldn’t recommend to other aspiring writers, but at the time I felt like I’d nothing to lose, I was single, free and it was pre-recession.  I quit my job in London where I was working in advertising, and moved back home with my parents in Dublin.  I worked part time in a newsagents and focussed 100% on writing.  It was a real privilege to be able to do that, and I’ve my parents to thank for it (hence the book dedication).  It’s as difficult to get published as it is to write a book, although I secretly thought that I might be one of those overnight success stories, I wasn’t.  Getting an agent was a long trawl.  I was swimming in a sea of rejections for a long time, which is difficult to take.  Reluctantly Charmed had become my baby, and it’s hard to hear someone say that your perfect baby isn’t attractive to them.  I toughened up, and often with a rejection can come a critique, and now and again there was some truth to the criticism (as difficult as that was to hear) so I found myself rewriting and redrafting.  I went through two agents in the northern hemisphere, I was delighted to be accepted but then found that there was jarring of opinions on the direction of the book.  I had to stick to my guns, I was confident that the story could be told my way somehow.  I had moved to Australia (that’s a whole other story involving horses, a walk across Spain and a gorgeous man) and Reluctantly Charmed hit a plateau.  It didn’t seem like it would ever get published.  It was very disheartening.  And then out of the blue, came an email from an agent in Melbourne, Jacinta di Mase, who had read a version a year before, and loved it, and was wondering why she hadn’t seen it on book shelves (so was I) I signed immediately.  And Jacinta worked her magic and in the space of five weeks she had publishers vying for it.  It was surreal.  I think timing, luck, a good agent and many rewrites have finally got me to publication day.

Fairies and Irish folklore are major themes in Reluctantly
Charmed. Did you have a lot of fun doing the research for the book?

I did.  So many folklore stories are funny and just a little bit crazy.  They’re really entertaining.  I was also really surprised at some of the modern day fairy stories that I came across, like a motorway build in the 90’s in the west of Ireland being diverted because of a fairy bush.  And once I let people know what I was researching I was told a lot of funny stories too about grandparents and fairy rings, and curses.  It’s all told with a wink and a laugh. 

Was it fun coming up with each of the seven steps that Kate has to publish to receive her inheritance?

Yes definitely.  My sister helped me with them, she’s a gifted wordsmith.  They’re very much inspired by Yeats and his poetry, and the beautiful world that he creates.  It was important that the steps were a glimpse into the fairy world, they had to feel intimate and secretive.  Also I wanted to convey the duplicity of the fairies, they’re great fun but can be frighteningly evil too.

What soon became obvious to me, as a reader, were the many differences between Kate and the first Kate McDaid aka the Red Hag. In what ways are the two women similar?

They’re not really.  I think their childhoods were similar, very free and easy, but then the Red Hag got taken by the fairies and her life spun out of control from then on, she made her own choices.  And I think Kate has learned from her mistakes. 

Initially, Hugh seems like quite an unlikely love interest for Kate and some of their early encounters are quite amusing. Did you have fun coming up with Hugh’s character and in what ways do you think that he is a better match than say, Matthew or Jim?

I love Hugh.  He’s all man.  He is where Kate belongs, even though she doesn’t know it initially.  His love of nature, his affinity with animals, Kate doesn’t realise it at the beginning but this is her natural connection to the world too, and that’s part of her initial attraction to Hugh.  That and he’s gorgeous.  Jim belongs to her past, the city life, materialistic and superficial, the depth of emotions were never there for him that she can have with Hugh.  I’m very fond of Matthew, I thought it was important for Kate to have a straight male friend to give her a different opinion on things, and interestingly Matthew is not as cynical about the fairies as Kate is.  He’s intrigued by them.  I never wanted a romantic relationship between them, he was always a sounding board and a confidant.  And I hate the idea that men and women can’t be friends, of course they can!

Aside from writing, what are some of your hobbies and interests?

I love movies.  My perfect day is two good movies back to back in the cinema with popcorn refills.  I’ll watch pretty much anything, love an action flick, rom com, thriller.  I just love movies. 

What are your plans for the future? (In other words, are there any upcoming novels for me to look forward to?)

There is.  I’m working on another book at the moment, which I’m really excited about.  It’s only beginning to take shape so I can’t tell you much about it!

Finally, this one is a signature question that appears on many the author interviews on my blog … Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

I really hope that you enjoy Reluctantly Charmed, I’d love to hear from you if you do.  And I hope that Reluctantly Charmed takes me to Adelaide to meet face to face with readers and to chat about life and love and everything inbetween.

Thank you very much for stopping by Kathryn's Inbox, Ellie. I loved your answers as I am sure that many people who are reading this will too. We would love to see you in Adelaide one day. Reluctantly Charmed is available from all good book retailers ...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic to the Stars is the seventh novel in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. By now, fans of the warm-hearted Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) know what to expect and author Kinsella delivers on the laughs and unlikely situations as she pokes gentle fun at modern life and first world problems. This time around, Becky finds herself in Hollywood while her husband Luke works with a new client, actress Sage Seymour. Soon, Becky finds herself bitten by the celebrity bug and has her sights set on a new career as a celebrity stylist. But things in Hollywood are not always as lovely as they seem ...

As previously stated, this one is the seventh novel in a series. The Shopaholic series has been around a long time--in fact I was in my teens when I read the original, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic and have even written a nostalgia post on the book on my blog. The novel was so successful it spawned several sequels that chronicled Becky's life of the course of about five years as she developed from a ditzy university graduate to a wife and mother. Along the way, she discovered that she had a long-lost half sister and had a number of unpredictable adventures that almost always involved her spending money and finding unusual ways to recoup any lost funds. In 2009 the first two books were made into a Hollywood feature film that, apart from the names of a number of key characters, had very little to do with the books. (The film, for example, was set entirely in New York and Becky was portrayed as American, rather than British and the backgrounds and careers of many major characters was altered.) Shortly after the film was released, a sixth novel came out, titled Mini Shopaholic. A little thin on plot and with some twists that were more unbelievable than funny (Becky and Luke's disastrous attempts to buy a house for example,) one thing was obvious. The magic of the earlier novels was gone. So where does the seventh novel sit?

Shopaholic to the Stars is a better novel than its predecessor. While it is a not a great novel in its own right, it does have some fun moments. There is no real character development--mostly the comedy comes from Becky being ditzy, Luke being stuffy and slightly disinterested and a number of side characters such as Suze and Tarquin having their own adventures. Alicia Bitch Long Legs makes an unwelcome reappearance and this is the first book in the series to end on a cliffhanger--it looks as though there will be a sequel set in Las Vegas. 

Fun, light reading for Shopaholic fans, though anyone expecting the magic of the earlier novels may feel a little short changed. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday Funnies: Cat Tredmills

Love it!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer's first Young Adult novel is a bittersweet tale of depression, memory and self deception, combined with a little bit of magical realism and some fitting references to Sylvia Plath. The novel opens with Jamicia 'Jam' Gallahue, a teenager who has shut herself down emotionally after the death of her boyfriend, being sent to a boarding school for kids with special needs. At the school, Jam is chosen for a special and exclusive English class along with four other students, where they will be studying Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. The choice of The Bell Jar is totally appropriate as all students in this class have closed themselves off emotionally. However, when their teacher asks the students to keep a journal, it becomes clear that this truly is an extraordinary class. Through their journals, the students are each taken back to the moments directly before their lives took a strange turn. Together the students meet to talk of their experiences and a strange bond is formed that helps them to heal. But the real twist in the story is yet to come ... and it certainly is a surprising one. 

Belzhar was a quick read. The themes of love, loss and, ultimately, acceptance were easy to relate to and are totally appropriate for the teenage target audience. I enjoyed the twist at the end and found myself nodding my head at Jam's predicament--although her situation was extreme, I think we have all had moments when we would rather not see or hear obvious truths. Although I felt that the novel could have been longer and gone a bit more into the stories of Jam's classmates, I did enjoy it as it was. Recommended. 

Big shout out and thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy. Thanks!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Writers On Wednesday: Rachel Amphlett

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with the very talented romantic suspense author, Rachel Amphlett ...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I’m originally from the UK, and we moved over here in 2005 to the northern suburbs of Brisbane. We got our citizenship in 2010, and we’re currently renovating a house in our spare (!) time. In the past, I’ve helped run a pub, dabbled in radio, been a TV/film extra (including a James Bond film!) and worked in the UK publishing industry as a sub-editor.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

Before Nightfall is a story about a woman, Kate Foster, who takes on a new job for an international electronics organisation with defence connections, only to be kidnapped and held for ransom six months into her new role. She has to try and recall everything she was taught during a pre-deployment hostage training course – one which she almost failed.
Finn Scott, her instructor six months ago, is tasked with finding Kate, but he’s got demons of his own to deal with, and time is running out for them both.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

When I was testing the water confidence-wise with my writing, I undertook a six-week online creative writing course through the Australian Author’s Marketplace. At the end of that, I began to send stories away for competitions and anthology submissions. Back then, I was writing speculative fiction (which I still have a soft spot for), and I was over the moon when AusSF, an online anthology of spec fic flash fiction picked up one of my stories and published it. That and a few other successes with short stories gave me the confidence to try my hand at a full-length novel, which became my first thriller, White Gold.

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

Every little step forward makes me proud. I really didn’t expect the sort of success I’m seeing after only three years, to be honest – I just set out to write because I had to. I needed to get the ideas that were going around in my head onto paper.

I think one moment that will always stay with me was being invited by Sisters in Crime to read an extract from my first novel, White Gold, at the book launch for Stella Rimington’s book The Geneva Trap here in Brisbane in 2009. To be able to spend time and talk with the ex-Director of MI5 and have her share my enthusiasm for storytelling was amazing.

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

I’ve got a political thriller parked at the moment while I’m working on a romantic suspense. I tend to bounce between the two, which sounds like madness but actually works really well because if I can’t make the words flow on one, I go and work on the other.

The idea is to release them both in 2015 so I can then get my head down to research and write the third in the Dan Taylor series of thrillers.

On top of that, I’m targeting the two weeks over Christmas to develop my first screenplay.

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

Both – I tend to buy my favourite authors’ books as paperback and everything else as eBook. EBooks make it so much easier for holidays too, don’t they? I remember going to Cuba 10 years ago – we had one suitcase for books, and the other for clothes. It was ridiculous.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Both. I’m a huge fan of the hybrid publishing model – yes, I’m independent but I’ve got a great amount of respect for the traditional publishing industry as well. I think as long as we’re telling good stories and getting people to read, that’s all that matters.

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

For non-fiction, I’m going to have to go with Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s one of those craft books you can go back to time and time again and discover something new that you can apply to your own work.

Fiction-wise (this is a tough question!), I’m going to recommend Jack Higgins’ The Eagle Has Landed. It’s what got me into the thriller genre as a teenager.

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

*Waves* I love Adelaide – I was last there about 4 years ago for the Tour Down Under. I like the way you can jump on a tram and be in Glenelg within 20 minutes or so.

We very nearly ended up in South Australia as only that State and Queensland were offering the type of visa we emigrated out here with. Sadly, it was the cold weather in winter that kept us away, but you do have some wonderful scenery around there, so, to quote Arnie, I’ll be back!


Monday, 13 October 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Bicycle park, anyone? I've noticed these awesome little bicycle parks popping up around Adelaide and Glenelg in recent times. Taking up one single car parking bay, these racks can fit several bikes and are undoubtedly there to encourage commuters to cycle around the city and suburbs.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

When I was offered the chance to review this awesome unauthorised glimpse into the Harry Potter universe, I simply could not resist. Harry Potter and the Art of Spying examines the examples of real-life spying techniques that are used within J.K. Rowling's hugely popular Harry Potter series. The volume was put together by spy novelist Lynn Boughey and CIA veteran Peter Earnest and most of the commentary is authentic. (There is also a note of the copyright pages saying that it has been cleared for release by the US Department of Defence.)

Concentrating mainly on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, (where, of course, most of the covert spying action takes place,) the book examines in detail several key scenes and uses of spy techniques, as well as looking at several codes that Rowling cleverly hid within the Harry Potter novels. The writing is simple and easy to read, making this a great resource for teenagers who are interested in the Harry Potter universe and a possible career in the police force. Or just great reading for Harry Potter fans who cannot get enough.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Review: Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

I have to be honest and admit, before I found this book for sale at my local Big W, I was more familiar with Tristan Bancks for his portrayal of larrikin teenager Tug on TVs Home and Away during the early to mid 1990s. Of course, that was some time ago and it turns out that Bancks can write a bloody good story. 

Two Wolves is one of those rare books for children that can be read and enjoyed by adults. It tells the story of Ben, a boy on the cusp of adolescence whose life is thrown into chaos when two police officers arrive at his home, looking for his parents. Later, his parents arrive at the house and take Ben and his sister Olive away, 'for a holiday.' But Ben knows that something is not quite right and carefully, he tries to put the details together to work out what his parents may have done. Running through the narrative is the idea of choices--that we have both good and bad inside of us--and the question of what side Ben will choose. Good, or bad?

The writing is faced paced and the ending is, ultimately, a fitting one. Recommended.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday Funnies: I Don't Feel Quite Myself

I think this one is pretty explanatory. Have a great Friday, all. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I really do not understand why this one was shelved in the New Adult Romance section of my local QBD, because filing this sweet, coming of age story sent against the backdrop of Paris beside other, more salacious titles really does not do this book justice. A little bit slow in places, full of cultural references and a little bit emotional, Anna and the French Kiss is probably one of the nicer YA novels that I have read in recent times. It tells the story of a young woman who, at the insistence of her father--a best selling author--travels to Paris to study for her final year of schooling. 

Initially our heroine, Anna, struggles with homesickness, but soon learns to love her new city and makes some new friends, particularly St Clair a cute, likeable and very taken boy from her grade. Over the course of the year, Anna and St Clair share several experiences that draw them closer to one another and that make them ask serious questions about the future, loyal and personal happiness. The whole book balances delicately on the thread of will they/won't they get together, but there are also a lot of culture references. The author also makes some subtle examinations of the differences between American and European Literature which I found quite pleasing. I also loved the way she quietly suggested to readers that a good story does not have to be melodramatic or have all avenging hero to be good--that some books are about what happens inside a person and a discovery of self, rather than featuring dramatic external events. (The novels that Anna's father writes are melodramas, that have gone on to be very popular and Anna occasionally scoffs at these. One of Anna's teachers, Professuer Cole, is quite vocal on the matter of Literature.) And, of course, there is plenty of fun, friendship and romance.

This one is a very likeable coming of age tale. I enjoyed reading this one very much and so too, I suspect, will many other readers. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Juliet Madison

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with the brilliant Juliet Madison, an Australian author of a number of genres.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

My first novel to be published was FAST FORWARD in February 2013 with Escape Publishing. I’ll always remember the moment I got the offer in my inbox, it was such an amazing feeling! Seeing my first cover, and then the day the book was released was also an amazing feeling, so that book will always be special to me. Escape since bought seven more of my books, five are currently available and two more are scheduled for release in the coming months so it’s been a busy but exciting journey from that first milestone.

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

It’s hard to choose just one, but I really think when a reader writes a review or sends you a message telling you that your book inspired them, or helped them feel better when they were sick, or got them through a tough time, that’s when I feel most proud. I love knowing that my books can have a positive impact on people’s lives, whether they are just providing some escapist entertainment or connecting with them on a deeper level and helping them see their life in a new light.

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

I’m always working on multiple projects! I’m currently writing the third book in my Tarrin’s Bay series, MIRACLE IN MARCH. When that is complete I’ll be writing the second book in my YA five-book series which has just been picked up by a publisher, and in my ample spare time (ha!) I’ll also work on an exciting new women’s fiction project that combines a present day story with 1920’s Hollywood and Paris. Can’t wait!

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

I love both equally. I love the beauty and intrigue of a physical book, and they look nice on bookshelves. But I also love the portability and convenience (and cheaper price) of ebooks. Plus, there are so many stories that are only available in ebook format, so those who only read print books are missing out on some great stuff!

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

I think people should read whichever book they are drawn to, even if they don’t know why. If something catches your attention but isn’t in your usual genre or taste, get it anyway. You may just find a gem.

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

Hello from NSW! I haven’t been to Adelaide before but hope to, so maybe we’ll meet one day. And maybe I’ll set a book there too. ;)


>> Buy HAUNTED EVER AFTER from Escape Publishing or via the links below: