The fact behind the fiction – why sometimes your backup plans need their own backup plans

Three weeks to go until Evacuation Road comes out! I’m so excited, and I’m loving how many early reviewers are really connecting with Eva and her story!

This week I’ll be looking at one of the important foundations for the book. Resilience. Getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. Making new plans when your original plans die a terrible death. And then devising even more cunning plans when your back up plans fail as well.

And, sometimes, throwing all your plans in the proverbial bin and coming up with a entirely new aim that at least gets you out of there.

I did a lot of this sort of thing as I travelled around South America, and one of the best (and most enjoyable) examples involved a train called Death, somewhat monotonous food, and a few phantom buses. It was my first blockade (of many) and it went like this …

Firstly, follow your dreams. Always. No matter how hard.

And a dream I had? One that had grown and flourished for years? It was to take the so-called Death Train, which ran from Quijarro in the very east of Bolivia to Santa Cruz, kind of in the middle. It could take anything from sixteen hours to days and days, apparently. Traversing amazing countryside. I really wanted to experience it.

(And that wasn’t a death wish or anything. It wasn’t the Death Train because it was super dangerous to ride in. More because either lots of workers died laying the line, or because it had once been used to transport people sick with Yellow Fever and/or the bodies of those that died in the outbreak.)

Anyway I planned it out and I got there. Quijarro. Nice and early in the morning on a Friday. Went straight to the train station. Butterflies in the stomach. This was it.

Except it wasn’t.

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Evacuation Road is off to the printers!

Every book has a set of milestones, and sending it to the printers is definitely a great (and mildly terrifying) one for me!

After all the months and years of writing and editing, the submissions, the rejections, the happy acceptance, the final edits and the typesets… now ‘Evacuation Road’ is becoming an actual book. One I can hold in my hands. I’m so excited!

Think end-of-the-world road trip. Think danger and humour, friendship and fear. All against a ticking clock.

Evacuation Road is out in August with Rhiza Edge. I hope you all love it!

Five teens.

One week.

Half a continent.

Eva is far from home when everything goes wrong. And it only gets worse after her evacuation bus leaves her behind, stranded with classmates she barely knows. The chase is on. But South America is big, and the old rules are changing quickly.


This is the road trip Eva never knew she needed.


This is the race for the last flight home.

An ode to NaNoWriMo (and a Happy Birthday too!)

IMG_6904It’s almost November! And that means two very cool things for me:

  • NaNoWriMo (of course!), and
  • My debut book’s first birthday month is almost over.

The two are actually linked, because ‘The Lost Stone of SkyCity’ was written during NaNoWriMo 2016. I had heaps of fun writing it, but I had no idea it would be the first of my MSs to be published.

aurealis-awards-finalist-high-resI certainly never dreamed it would be shortlisted for an Aurealis Award (OMG!!!). Or that it would get such a positive response from readers. The past year has been full of new experiences for me, from first writers festivals to first COVID-19 cancellations, crash-courses in online presenting and then – just last week – first CBCA Children’s Book Week as an actual author!

I’ve been really lucky that my state (Western Australia) has finally turned having the world’s most isolated capital city into a real bonus for everyone: our kids are back at school and I was doing in-person presentations every day. I loved that I could meet so many awesome students, filled to overflowing with so much epic imagination and inspiration!

So, as a thank you to my TLSSC baby and a thumbs up to NaNo, here’s a short history and me and NaNoWriMo 🙂

2014 – Don’t even ask. Seriously.

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My definitive guide as to why goats are awesome

goat selfie_LII totally love goats! Little did I know that when I was writing ‘The Lost Stone of SkyCity’ with some cheeky goat side-kicks called gotals, I would imbue my love of goats into the very story.

Evidently, I did. Because when people read the book, they’re always saying ‘You must love goats! Why is that?’

Aha! Glad you asked!

What’s not to love? Our two species have a shared history, and goats have got to be one of the smartest, funkiest animals. EVER. Here’s what I love the most about them … Continue reading

A scrumptious second instalment – ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’

WundersmithNow, I’m the sort of person to approach a series with trepidation … Sometimes I LOVE the first book SO MUCH, I don’t want to ruin it by reading a substandard follow-on. (Who’s with me?)

But then, there are series that are totally ace at being a series. Where the whole premise just gets better and better with each new book. I’m thinking Harry Potter, Lintang, Chronicles of Prydain, The Old Kingdom …

When authors get it right, I’m eagerly awaiting every new book.

Thankfully (because – mate – I really enjoyed ‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’ and there was no way I wanted to mess with that level of love) the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend only got more awesome with the second book, ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’.

Like, if awesome went out kayaking and then had a lemon and lime tart and some hot chocolate in a comfy armchair by the fire to celebrate how awesome the day was. That kind of extra awesome. Continue reading

As gorgeous as a child’s painting of their mum – ‘Roses Are Blue’

rosesareblueOMG. I have just finished reading one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, full of heart and feeling, strength and healing.

The gorgeous ‘Roses Are Blue’ is by the fabulous Sally Murphy, and illustrated by Gabriel Evans, so it’s West Aussie through and through.

It’s written in verse, adding to the poignancy of everything that MC Amber relates. Amber is filled with so many emotions kids (anyone) (me included) can relate to – wanting to fit in, fearing being different, wishing for the impossible and not liking herself much sometimes for wishing that. Amber is a lovely narrator, the story is beautiful. Continue reading

As exciting as a stint in an InvisiLounge -‘Skyfire’ (The Seven Signs #1)

SkyfireSeven teens from seven continents, trying to crack seven signs a day for seven days as the world progressively swirls down the proverbial toilet.

Gold. Total gold.

I was reeled in by Skyfire, the first in The Seven Signs series by Michael Adams, hauled deeper into the mystery the more I read. I’ll be honest, the first few pages I was totally thinking yeah, I know what this is all about. But then the characters came alive and the action began ticking. And awesome things began happening. And happening. And happening.

And then, hooly toolooly, the first signs arrived.

There was no turning back for me. I had to buy the rest of the series. I had to read them all, stat. I had to know what was happening and where were they going next and who was the Signmaker and for goodness’ sake, can someone let these kids sleep sometime!? Continue reading

Refreshing like a home-grown yellow watermelon – ‘White Night’

WhiteNightAnd my award for the most awesome male character in YA goes to… Bo Mitchell!!

Seriously. From the very first sentence of ‘White Night’ by Ellie Marney, Bo’s voice captured me. He drives this book. If you’re looking for positive, realistic male role models, look no further.

I loved ‘White Night’. I read a sneak-peak online and then had to wait – yes – WAIT – until it became available from my library. Excruciating.

There are a lot of things to like in ‘White Night’, but if I had to pick three, this’d be them:

  • Character arcs of awesome
  • Level-headed enviro representation
  • General air of stereotype-smashing.

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Even better than a hug from a dingo cat – ‘Cyclones and Shadows’

CyclonesAndShadows.jpg

I used to work up in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Red dirt, indomitable spinifex and awe-inspiring mountain ranges.

I’m miffed that I never got to experience a cyclone, though. (‘You don’t want to,’ said everyone who ever had.) Still, I would’ve loved to really feel WHY. The wind and the pressure and the bunkering down…

Now, thanks to modern storytelling, I’m halfway there :). ‘Cyclones and Shadows’ is a collection of four fab stories all based around the north of Australia, including one in a cyclone.

I’m in love with them all. I’d love a Shadow of my very own!

And his mango tree too, please!

What made me grin reading this book?

These stories, by Laura Dudgeon, Pat Dudgeon, Sabrina Dudgeon-Swift and Darlene Oxenham, are full of humour, empathy, insight and adventure. There are strong female main characters, zero gender stereotypes (when was the last time you read about a girl fixing up a car in Junior Fiction? Yeah, I thought so…), and vibrant themes of family and friendshipContinue reading

Poking around perfection with a bird-tipped umbrella: ‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’

Nevermoor.jpg

When you hear of a children’s book exploding onto the scene like those whizz-bang fireworks that keep on sparkling (complete with everyone going ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’) what you absolutely want to find out is HOW DID THEY DO IT?

‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is one such delightful explosion. It’s surrounded by stories of bidding wars and movie rights that make me happy-sigh, because stuff like that is still possible, and books are still awesome and kids still love reading, and more will love it after reading this book.

And that’s all awesome!

So, how did Townsend do it?

What is so delightfully scrumptious about her book?

  • A huggable world you get immersed in
  • The laughs and clever whimsy
  • The intricate extras in the story.

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