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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The fact behind the fiction – why sticking together is way better than the alternative

In four weeks my next book ‘Evacuation Road’ will be out in the world, and that calls for a super celebration countdown! So every week I’ll be bringing you some of the actual events that inspired some of the story.

Let’s start it off with a bang. One of the big mantras that Eva and my other characters learn to live by as they race for the last flight home, is “Stick together”.

It’s something I learned the hard way. How? Glad you asked …

Getting kidnapped is not recommended

I don’t think anybody is out there just aching to be kidnapped (though thinking about this has me coming up with some great story ideas!). And I was no different.

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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.

Full of colours and strength – ‘Catching Teller Crow’

CatchingTellerCrow.jpgHope against despair. Courage fighting fear. Joy beating sadness.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina is profoundly moving, at times painful, addictively suspenseful, and all woven together with strength and love.

This is a powerful novel. Filled with powerful female characters and a dad who could be a role model for dads everywhere.

The way it’s told pulls the reader in, and then makes them question everything.

I love the clever use of POV. Beth Teller is dead, and narrates in first person prose, past tense. Yet second narrator, Isobel Catching, narrates in 1st person verse, present tense, even though she’s mainly telling the “what has been”. Her narrative tricks you at first, until you realise the truth and your mind flips and the story suddenly gets a heck load deeper into your gut.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ is a jewel of a murder mystery with paranormal side serves and some intriguing gusts of wind. Continue reading

As sweet as a Gub and as nerve-wracking as being tracked through the vents of a Freighter Class C – ‘In the Dark Spaces’

ITDS.jpgIf you want world-building of awesome and relatable characters and a super voice, then ‘In the Dark Spaces’ by Cally Black is for you.

It’s SciFi with added ethical conundrums and a dash of Stockholm syndrome. Prepare to cry. And grin. And be absorbed.

My library wants my copy back, stat, and I’m that working-my-shift-button-stuck kind of busy ATM. Plus I just spilt tea on my keyboard…

So I’ll keep this quick.

Fabulously Awesome Book.

Read it.

It won the Ampersand Prize and it’s so obvious why. Be prepared to get 3/4 of the way through and have one of those existential crises where you question why you ever bother to write because Black does it so well…

… Of course, we write because we can’t imagine life without writing, and we read because sometimes they’re as perfect as this book! 🙂

Take care everyone. Don’t spill your tea.

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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As loaded with surprises as a Superintendent’s scrapyard – ‘Yellow’

Yellow.jpgIf you’re looking for spooky and surprising and generous and sweet, then I solemnly swear you should pick up ‘Yellow’ by Megan Jacobson.

Because it’s all of these things.

Dead dude on the end of a phone. Suspense and suspects and twists. And a seriously awesome friendship. A girl who learns how to be happy. And CBCA Shortlisted too, judging by the sticker on my library edition 🙂

I think the book works so well because of how much is happening in it, everything intertwined. (Beware the occasional weeny eeny spoiler as you read on…) I work on the belief that every book needs a central idea that is DROP-DEAD GREAT.

And then, like, three more FAB ideas added to it in order to make it IMMENSELY AWESOME.

Publishable. Continue reading

Inspiring the feels, like a doll freed from the basement – ‘A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares’

ASDLOWN.jpg

I’ve been writing and editing these last few months, but now I’ve freed up some time to cover some of the awesome reads I’ve enjoyed recently.

Let’s start with ‘A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares’ by Krystal Sutherland, which has such a fab cover and takes out my personal award for one of the best titles EVER, as well as picking up a CBCA Notables sticker.

This is clever writing, FUNNY writing – I absolutely devour books with humour! I love laughing to myself in the middle of the night. I love finishing a book and feeling empowered and happy and like I want to read the whole thing again.

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Tying up all the strings like a Cherry putting on his ATLAS – ‘Obsidio’

Obsidio.jpgOk, people. Hands up who totally loves The Illuminae Files?

<Earth shudders on its axis as billions of hands are raised>

It’s no secret I really dig this series. I love the way it’s written. I love the way you have to work to read it. I love the way it makes you question good and bad and ethics and whether we all should have a murderous AI watching our backs.

I jumped at the opportunity to read ‘Obsidio’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff as soon as it turned up shiny (literally) bright and new at my library.

I was not disappointed 🙂

Questions are answered. Body counts are added to. There are laughs. There is panic.

There is AIDAN…

 

Right. So, what are a few aspects I loved?

  • That dash of you-can-do-this-too
  • The distinct VOICES

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The spiky issue of positive relationship role models in YA – the clever ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’

acotar.jpgMan, I had fun with this series! I wanted to read ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J. Maas because firstly I love her writing, but mainly because I was intrigued as to how a series with a blatant love triangle could garner such positive reviews of said triangle… a love triangle is like a death knell to most books.

So how did this one not only keep readers happy, but have them cheering for the new guy?

I had to read ACOTAR and find out.

I didn’t expect to then have to read the next one. And the one after that.

I didn’t expect to not just enjoy the series, but to be impressed with the messages it was sending.

I want to talk about two things here.

  1. How Maas sets the scene at the start of ACOTAR
  2. How the love triangle totally redeemed itself in my eyes.

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