One Authors Aha Moments - Writing Revelations with a Focus on the Young Adult Market
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I am not an artist. I am an agent. But this—it is not the real thing. The magnificent presence of the artist is missing. Balcells was preparing for a future she would not be present to see. A deal to sell her business to the New York literary agent Andrew Wylie had recently come apart. More on this later. She and her husband, Luis, liked to read in bed. We both had enthusiasm for it: it was so fresh, so original, so exciting. In the daytime, he showed them the city; nights, they all had supper together with local writers.
They ate and drank, and ate and drank some more. But there was another contract, and it was no joke. In New York the week before, Balcells had found a U. The payment? A thousand dollars. She had brought the contract, which she presented for him to sign. The terms seemed onerous, even rapacious. He signed anyway. Partway there, he stopped the car—a white Opel with a red interior—and turned back.
His next work of fiction had come to him all at once. For two decades he had been pulling and prodding at the tale of a large family in a small village. Now he could envision it with the clarity of a man who, standing before a firing squad, saw his whole life in a single moment. In the study, he settled himself at the typewriter. He marked the typed pages, then sent them to a typist who made a fresh copy.
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He called friends to read pages aloud. Mercedes maintained the family. She stocked the cupboard with scotch for when work was done. She kept bill collectors at bay. He sold the Opel. They sent the first half, and then the rest after a visit to the pawnshop. Reading it, you feel: They are alive; this happened. Eight thousand copies sold in the first week in Argentina alone, unprecedented for a literary novel in South America. Laborers read it.
So did housekeepers and professors—and prostitutes: the novelist Francisco Goldman recalls seeing the novel on the bedside table in a coastal bordello. Women offered themselves to him—in person and in photographs. To avoid distractions, he moved his family to Barcelona. Pablo Neruda, meeting him there, wrote a poem about him. It was seen as the first book to unify the Spanish-language literary culture, long divided between Spain and Latin America, city and village, colonizers and colonized.
Gregory Rabassa bought the book in Manhattan and read it straight through, enthralled. He knew the real thing when he saw it. Now 93, frail but mentally agile, he still attends reunions of surviving O. I knew [the work of] Borges. Editor Richard Locke had first heard about the book in from novelist Thomas McGuane, while on a trip to visit him in Montana. And I gave it an enthusiastic report. One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in March , its lush-green jacket and understated typography concealing the passion within. Then, as now, the key reviews for sales and prizes were those of the Times.
Many have entertained the notion of making a movie of One Hundred Years of Solitude. None has come close. Sometimes author and agent named an astronomical sum for the rights. Gabo told Harvey Weinstein that he would grant him and Giuseppe Tornatore the rights, provided the movie was made his way. Alice Walker bent the iron bars of plausibility in The Color Purple, where letters sent to God elicit real replies.
Isabel Allende, a relative of the slain Chilean president and herself a Balcells client , told the story of modern Chile through a family saga in The House of the Spirits. There was something so familiar about the novel, so recognizable to me. It was a certain kind of freedom, a structural freedom, a [different] notion of a beginning, middle, and end.
Culturally, I felt intimate with him because he was happy to mix the living and the dead. It is for you, for you women. We do not need it, but we want to please you! This novel went through me like a lightning bolt: it entered through the crown of my head and went right down to my toes, redounding through me for the next several decades—up to right now.
We are the eighth generation. We are the children of Macondo. Salman Rushdie was living in London and thinking about the country of his childhood when he first read the book. His world was mine, translated into Spanish. Barrow boys hawk copies in the streets. Buy the book at Smashwords , Amazon. Read an extract from the text. At 17, Meda Melange is already an experienced serial killer. Fortunately, Meda finds the perfect place to hide — in a school for demon-hunters. The modern Knights Templar are dedicated to fighting demons and protecting Beacons, people marked by God as good for mankind.
Because the demons are determined to kill her, the Templars are convinced Meda is a Beacon trying to fulfill her destiny. Life is about to get really complicated for Lindsay ap Rhys ap Gruffud as Queen Elizabeth the First lands in her garden.
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Read an excerpt. Desperate to escape her grieving father and harbouring her own terrible secret, Shelley disappears into the intoxicating world of Aussie Rules football. Joining a motley crew of footy tragics — and, best of all, making friends with one of the star players — Shelley finds somewhere to belong. No matter what your feelings are about AFL, this novel is bound to have you cheering by the end.
Buy the book at bookshops, at Random House , Booktopia and Bookworld , as an e-book at all the major outlets in Australia , and in the USA and the UK , where you can also buy the paperback. Read the first chapter here. Or follow her on Twitter nichmelbourne. She is blindsided by an afterlife of perpetual contentment arranged by paternalistic angels.
She joins an underground resistance group and starts to explore the might-have-beens with an old lover. This alternative heaven explores the nature of relationships, the possibility of identity without memory and what it would take to be happy for eternity. Find out more and read an extract here. The first time I met Rogan, he was wandering down my street taking pictures of the street signs with his phone.
Rogan for short. Ever had a dream you wished would come true? Melissa is blessed, or cursed as she most often feels is the case, with the ability to dream true; an ability she knows was passed down from the mother she never met. Now in her 30s, and plodding along in her failing relationship with Tom, Melissa is having dreams she wishes were prophetic. Tall, strong and sexy Kellen lives in the forest, clad usually in nothing but a loin cloth. Though he makes her heart flutter, and is the man of her dreams in more ways than one, Melissa knows this dream is too far from reality to ever come true.
Beyond the killing fields and the temples of Angkor is Cambodia: a country with a genocidal past and a wide, open smile. A frontier land where anything is possible — at least for the tourists. There are tender, funny moments of tentative understanding, as well as devastating re-imaginings of a troubled history. Three backpackers board a train, ignoring the danger signs — and find themselves in the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Felicity Costello, aka Flick, is like any other year-old — except for one difference. A difference she hardly admits to herself.
Will Flick succumb to the darkness? It never talks down to the reader but still manages to shine a light on some of the darkest and most confusing moments of becoming an adult. Read an extract of Flick. Order Flick here. Buy e-book or paperback here too!
Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope. Danika is used to struggling for survival.
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Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia. Chasing the Valley is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival. Buy the book at Random House.
Watch the book trailer. Get in touch with Skye at her website , Twitter and Facebook. Episodes of these programs were often metaphors for equality, justice, the nuclear threat and other issues, while being memorably spooky and fun. Editor Angela Meyer wanted to see what themes might seep into the writing of contemporary Australian writers working with the spooky, the strange, the eerie, the fantastic, the speculative, the macabre and the absurd.
Amid the chaos of sweeping bushfires, Persia gives birth alone at home with tragic consequences. Traumatised and grieving, she travels north, and encounters Ahmed, a refugee fleeing deportation and his past in Pakistan. So begins a road trip to the dead heart of Australia, a journey that transcends the limits of ordinary experience. Hearts break, days are leavened with loss, laughter kills and cinnamon preserves.
Lightning can be found at most book retailers including Pan Macmillan , Booktopia , Bookworld and Amazon. Meet Felicity at her website and Facebook. Read the story behind Lightning. I always had in my head that it was a closed genre, featuring vampires and werewolves and girls with ballgowns and insipid romance. But everyone makes mistakes. Blame the 80s and Molly Ringwald. When I was an adolescent, the idea of books for teens was just gaining ground. Michael knows how to cram in big ideas. The fiction is full of pop-culture references, sly humour, out-of-the-blue violence, and challenges to narrative conventions.
Danby is a memorable figure through the death and destruction around her, intuitive, strong, countering expectations to be led astray by wayward boys, dealing with challenges effectively with humour and courage. Here I talk to him about Stephen King, Sydney and the Blue Mountains on fire, and heroines that break free of conventions….
Not the precise moment but it goes back as far as I can remember. By the time I was in my early teens I was trying to write novels. Then I got into journalism and creative writing took a backseat. Oddly — or maybe not oddly — The Last Girl contains echoes of those adolescent efforts. What inspired you? The Last Girl came as a bit of a flash — at least in concept. In I was in New York and at dinner at a restaurant with my partner. My book and yours share some common themes: teenage girls on the edge; a narrative that swings between Sydney and the Blue Mountains on the train tracks ; the questioning of digital cultures and their effects on psychology and relationships.
Why did you decide to pursue these ideas in a YA novel? Initially I thought I was writing an adult book about a young adult character. The definition was that YA focuses on young characters who have to make their own decisions in the absence of adult authority. To what extent did cinema, and in particular B-grade films, influence your narrative? I also put as much black humour into the book as possible and in that the touchstones are films like Dr Strangelove , Bride Of Frankenstein and Repo Man.
I watched the entire series twice and really tried to understand how Vince Gilligan created an emotionally charged character-driven suspense thriller that was so dense, complex and funny — while also layering in all of his narrative callbacks, in-jokes and Easter Eggs. Seemingly throwaway details become pivotal to survival. References to pop culture echo the themes. The Last Girl is the first in a series. Did the publisher commission a number of books at once? How hard is it as a writer to plan out a series? By that stage I had a solid first draft of The Last Girl and about 20, words of the sequel.
I wanted to know what came next. The fun — and tough — thing is to ensure continuity while you juggle drafts. Was this always something you had in mind when you started writing, or did it evolve as you went? How did this go when you were trying to get the book published? Was there pressure to make it one thing or another?
Passive heroine? Fuck that. Instant love between characters? No thanks. Scared suburban types who suddenly become fearless warriors? But can she drive? Can you feasibly escape a burning city on clogged roads? And if not, then what? I tried to imagine myself in her shoes and in doing that painted Danby into some seemingly inescapable corners. A few of these took months to figure out. Tough guys walk in slow-motion from the explosion without looking around?
The cuts and changes suggested were more to do with me overwriting, paying too much attention to secondary scenes or wandering away from the character voice. You live in the Blue Mountains I used to as well. Your book deals with catastrophic events, including, it seems, a whole city and mountain on fire.
How did it feel when the recent Springwood fires were happening after the book had been published? Did it feel like life imitating art in some hellish way? Writer turns down publicity: film at 11! Is there a writer community in the Blue Mountains? Can you survive being a writer up there, or do you still commute to Sydney for a day job?
Sad face. But the dream is to do exactly that: hang out up there and write. The first submitted draft ran to , So maybe I swung too far the other way. Perhaps the third book will be just right — but I doubt it! I am indebted to Stephen King. I loved that supernatural events were happening in our very ordinary world and to ordinary people. The Stand and The Dead Zone were hugely influential.
Of course, the book screams film rights. If you could choose anyone director, actors to adapt and star in your film, who would they be? I love his obsessive attention to detail, the mood he creates. Eva Lazzaro as Danby. I thought she was the best thing about Tangle. Alex Russell as Jack. He was funny and charismatic in Chronicle and he had an edge to him. I wonder if cricketer Ashton Agar can act? The more I wade into the deep of promoting my book, the more I realise that success is based on personal connections.
One of my favourite moments of pulling together FNF is to choose a writer to profile each month. And, ta dah! Indie self-published authors have had a bit of a rough trot lately. Where are you hiding? Give me a hoy. This monthly club is especially geared to you! This has brought many new visitors to the site…. Anyway — enjoy! Sophie Kazzi is in Year 12 at an all-Lebanese school where she is uncool and bored out of her brain.
Then Shehadie Goldsmith arrives at school. And with his arrogant, questioning attitude, he also has a way of getting under her skin. But when simmering cultural tensions erupt in violence, Sophie must make a choice that will threaten the cultural ties that have protected her all her life. Buy the book at any of these retailers. Two rival window dressers at the beginning of the Twentieth Century try to outdo each other with ever more elaborate displays and lifelike mannequins.
When one of the window dressers, Colton Kemp, is rocked by the sudden death of his wife, the rivalry takes on new dimensions. Inspired by a travelling Vaudeville company, Kemp decides to raise his children to be living mannequins. Buy the e-book from Amazon , iBooks or Kobo. Two Americans are presumed dead and nine people are trapped in a cabin after an avalanche in the remote Andes…. Among them is Emma, an Australian faced with an impossible decision that could see her parents jailed.
This is the story of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie. Through a life shaped by love and loss, her relationship with music endures. Buy the book paperback or e-book. Listen to Tracy read from her book at its New Zealand launch. See my post about it. Melbourne defence lawyer Will Harris is reluctantly drawn into a bizarre murder trial. A terminally ill man claims to have witnessed the brutal crime — in a vision. The strain of balancing both cases takes its toll and Will finds himself torn between following the law and seeking justice.
See more reviews. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine. Meet Sophia, Elise, Joe and Zoe. She wants to grow up fast, and have sex on her terms. In the short space of a fortnight new friendships will develop, old friendships will change, and life lessons will be learnt. But one thing is certain: being sixteen has never been easy.
Buy the ebook at Kobo. Damien, Edith, Kenneth and Mary are residents of a single street whose lives are ordinary to the last degree and as such encompass addiction and domestic violence, quiet achievements and small acts of kindness and treachery. The final scenes are riveting. The ebook is available at Amazon. A strange policeman starts harassing the family and to top it all off, his professional life starts to crumble. Buy the book. This is a novel with its roots in a battered ancient landscape — the south of Western Australia.
See their reviews at the bottom of the page. After years of rejections by UK publishers because it was too difficult to sell, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was picked up by a tiny independent press. In an intimate and compelling voice, McBride charts the progress of a young girl and her brother raised in a small Irish community. A claustrophobic backdrop of poverty and devout faith surround this profound and devastating tale of love, betrayal and self-destruction.
A welfare worker is asked to spy on a colleague. An artist finds ragged consolation in the breakdown of a relationship. Behind him, Luke heard the gurgle of fluid sluicing out of a bladder and into a cup … It occurred to him that it was not too late to turn back. The fourteen stories in The Colour of Kerosene lay bare the ordinary moral dilemmas we face in contemporary Australia. The small wars we fight; the alliances we forge; the compromises we make.
These are crafted stories in which regret and failure are often tempered by the possibility of redemption. See samples with illustrations. What do people think about that idea? Does it distract from the prose or add interest, another layer? Tanjore, Maya plays among the towering granite temples of this ancient city in the heart of southern India.
But as Maya comes of age, India is on the cusp of change. The prince is losing his power and the city is sliding into war. Maya is forced to flee her ancestral home, and heads to the bustling port city of Madras. Maya captivates all who watch her dance. Thomas Pearce, an ambitious young Englishman is entranced from the moment he first sees her. But their love is forbidden, and comes at enormous cost. I love the enticing pink and green cover. The prose is very vivid and filmic.
In this short story collection, Jane Skelton writes cool prose about hot landscapes, about characters seeking relief from strong emotions. Her characters twist and turn in the violent weather that is trying to break them, while inside their bodies the turmoil is as great as or greater than the outside world. Combined with the spare prose, the emotion of the weather and the landscape is almost unbearable, except that, like waiting for the southerly buster on a hot afternoon, we wait to know what will happen to these characters.
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Will the storm pass over the islands, will it rain in outback Queensland and take the pressure down? These evocative descriptions of the Australian landscape and keen observations of the people who inhabit it, bring to mind Thea Astley and Jessica Anderson.
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It is customary to bring gifts to a wedding. But as daughter Luna prepares to marry her dream husband, the Smith family instead have in tow their own idiosyncratic brands of emotional baggage. Her father, Graham, struggles to write his own own obituary; her mother, Velma, attempts to negotiate her mid-life crisis with a lover seventeen years her junior; her brother, Ginsberg, tries to come to term with being a homosexual who has inadvertently fallen in love with his wife.
The storyline is believable, tragic and hilarious as clashing personalities unite for the first time in years — with explosive results. Read it at the bottom of this page. As well as suffering from terminal boredom, Jez has got epic First World Problems: where is her next pill coming from, what will her first tattoo be, and how will she ever lose her virginity?
Over the course of one blazing summer, Jez runs a gauntlet of new experiences and discovers the real meaning of home. Filled with humour, brilliant observations and raw revelations, Snake Bite is a coming-of-age story of a wild teenager in a Canberra you never dreamed existed. It will sink its fangs into, inject you with its intoxicating venom, and never let you go. Yes, yes I do: the next Miles Franklin and Barracuda by the author I think is doing something really important for our booming Australian identity, the brilliant Christos Tsiolkas.
After such heavyweights, I was prepared to settle back into something less confronting, get off that obsession-train one sometimes finds herself on when reading back-to-back stunners of novels. Such was my fascination with Marion, the sixty-plus year old protagonist who finds herself way in over her farm-living head when her city-based son is found guilty of murdering two strangers in a grocery store, that I read the book in one day.
It was a fantastic commentary on character, on Australia, and on where the two rally. A perfect triumvirate: Flanagan, Tsiolkas and Merrilees. Will the goodness ever end? She is understandably devastated and as she travels to Perth to find out exactly what has happened she is overwhelmed with confusion and grief and despair. She wonders how her son could do such a thing. She also wonders about her relationship with him and what might she have done to cause it. Who is to blame?
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And why? He is like a stranger and his values are now opposed to those that he grew up with. His social activism and choice of friends are initially bewildering to Marian. Her opinions regarding racism, sexuality and farming practices are challenged and over the course of the week Marian struggles to reconcile these views. It is a strange and bleak time and Marian moves through it in a fog of sleep-deprivation doing things she would not normally do.
At one point she allows herself some comfort with a stranger, and even goes back to his hotel room. When Marian heads back home to the farm she does not have all the answers she hoped for. Each month I hope to profile a debut author or short story writer who has featured in Friday Night Fictions. I spoke to her about religious cults, creating her novel in CreateSpace and gothic bellydancing I dare you to try it.
I was writing stories in early primary school, and my first novel at the age of At 15, my English teacher suggested I study creative writing at university, which was exactly what I ended up doing. I draw inspiration from things that transcend words, like music.
Sometimes I get novel ideas in dreams. To me, stories are whole concepts as much as they are a series of events. My book and yours share some common themes: religion and betrayal. Why were you drawn to investigating the dark side of church life and a preacher on the edge? Those teenage years were a stormy time, when I put a lot into religion, only to find there were aspects of it that absolutely alienated me. Since then I have had an enduring fascination with cults and the way some religions try to control people — not to mention the ways people rebel. I wanted to explore those issues of control, of rebellion and most of all of fanaticism.
Hailstone is written in rapid fire, short sentences. Are you attracted to the crime genre? I love to read thrillers, and when writing them, I like to keep everything as tight and grounded as possible. I think however my day job as a journalist influences me here, as that has trained me to write in a way that wastes no words. Funnily enough, the title came before the book.
It occurred to me while driving one day that Hailstone would be an awesome name for a city, and that was where the story started. I like the name because hailstones, while not a natural disaster, are a force of nature that are incredibly destructive but also quite common. I was really drawn to both the cover and synopsis of your book.
How did they both develop? The synopsis was a result of days of writing, re-writing, occasional temper tantrums and then more re-writing. I find it so much easier to write a whole novel than a few paragraphs about it! The cover was really interesting to put together. Your protagonist is a pistol wielding, valium-popping, alcoholic, ex-Christian lesbian. How did you uncover her? Did you do any research Everything I could get my hands on. You used CreateSpace to publish your first book? What was the process and would you recommend it to other authors?
CreateSpace was a brilliant experience. The program takes you step by step through uploading your text and your graphics and making sure everything is formatted correctly before you order a proof copy. I picked up a lot of things in that proof copy that I missed on the screen.
You can price your book yourself, order as many or as few copies as you need and it is listed on Amazon. The end product is beautiful and professional, and having control over every step of the process is a fantastic thing. You live in WA. What is it like to be a writer there? Is there a writer community where you are? Western Australia is a very isolated part of the world. I think it is because of that, that communities of like-minded people tend to be very close and supportive.
There are some amazing writers out here, and a great network of people, organisations and festivals. Apparently its not a convention any more to put three spaces after every fullstop. Gothic bellydance is a branch of the amazing and diverse art of bellydance that explores the darker sides of life, human nature and music through bellydance. It is a beautiful practice where the costumes are mostly black, a little bit red no hot pink! Photo: Bette Mifsud. Do you remember the moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer? Did it start off as a holiday? How did you go about getting the book published?
Which authors have been instrumental to your own reading and writing? I look forward to reading Ghost Moth and talking to her about it… Welcome back to another year of Friday Night Fictions , for debut authors novelists, short story writers in all genres and formats self-published and digital-only welcome! Named Emily, by the Scottish welfare system, she is discovered to be fundamentally different. As Katherine and George struggle to save their marriage and silence the ghosts of the past, their family and city stand on the brink of collapse… Surprising, mesmerising and astonishingly written, GHOST MOTH will show you the extraordinary in the ordinary.
I hated when she did that. Following her instructions, I looked down and saw my left nipple peeking out of my bra. What inspired you to set out on the long road to writing a novel? What is it that you love most about writing? What do you put off doing when you sit down at your desk?