Friday, 25 February 2011

Interview - Shirley Marr


Shirley Marr is an accountant by day and a masked writer by night. That's when she becomes her true self — Writer Woman, with her trusty sidekick, BetaGirl. Fury (published by Black Dog Books) is her first novel.


What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?

When I first arrived in Australia at the age of six, I couldn’t write or read a word of English. I could only understand a rudimentary amount of spoken English. I remember the very first time I sat down with my classmates in front of our teacher and she read to us Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Although I could only understand some of it, I remember that moment being so magical that it cemented my determination to learn how to read. So hence began my love affair with books, I slowly devoured every single book by Enid Blyton. The Secret Seven being my favourite series.

When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?

At first, I thought I was a drawer. But as my English improved, and I shifted my form of communication from visuals to word, I realised I was actually a better writer! I realised this is primary school. My novel is called Fury and I hope my readers are left with the feeling of what that emotion really means after having read the story. I hope it lingers in their memory.

Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?

Yes, it is true - everything comes under my microscope! But I know when I find a perfect read - my mind stops trying to pick everything apart and I just go for the ride!

Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?

Surprisingly, I don’t avoid anything while I write – I write every single day, so I believe in living my life! I read what I want to read at any point in time. I believe life in general has an effect on what I write and of course books do as well. Anyway, when you think of it, every book written is derivative of what came before, so I don’t try and shy away from it. In fact, I believe in acknowledging and reflecting in my work the books I like – I’m very fond of pop culture referencing!

Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way?

Jane Austen, William Faulkner, John Marsden, Margaret Mahey and Sue Lawson.

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?

I’d probably take a Lonely Planet suitable for where I was going… um, is that a cheat’s answer?

What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?

Compelling characters, storyline and narrator’s voice. Makes it sound easy to write a book doesn’t it?

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

Sometimes (and it’s not a fault of the book itself) I just can’t “get into” a book. It’s usually because I can’t relate to the book at all and when I read I’m looking for that intrinsic human connection from the author – which is what I believe writing should be about.


Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?

I love William Faulkner above anyone else. I love his writing because it’s more than just telling a story, he really makes you feel complex emotions and he makes words - what is supposed to be a quiet medium - beautiful, furious and loud.

If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?

I can’t make this list unfortunately – most of my top reads are classics! But I will mention Letters From the Inside and So Much to Tell You both by John Marsden, which are in my list.

What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?

My ‘best read’ is Dare You by Sue Lawson. The prose is beautiful and almost lyrical, it’s woven together almost like a Japanese pillow book, It’s so different to anything I’ve read this year in YA, it’s totally underrated and it’s one of those books that get better with each subsequent read. Oh and it made me cry.

What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?

I own a Kindle, I’m supportive of technology. If it makes books cheaper and more portable, then I am happy if that encourages more people to read. Especially if they commute and are put off by the bulkiness of traditional media, but with a media reader they end up reading a few books every year. I’d rather someone read, no matter the format, than not read at all.

Despite being blasted for writing an avant-garde short story completely in dialogue in Year Eight, and being fired from the Yearbook committee in Year Twelve for being disruptive, Shirley still loves to write things her way. This type of behaviour led her to be the only person she knows who has ever been kicked out of a bookstore. You can find out more about Shirley here.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS


In 'Six Impossible Things', fourteen year old Dan Cereill (pronounced 'surreal', not 'cereal') is a likeable though awkward teenager.

His life has been turned upside-down when his parents separate, and he has to attend a new school and make new friendships.

The outlook for Dan does not appear promising. For starters, he is the victim of classroom and schoolyard bullying. Also, he is rather squeamish and prone to fainting, a situation which delights his class mates.

Another difficulty is the family finances. Dan and his mother both search for jobs in an effort to improve their situation. Dan gets a job in a locl op-shop, and then discovers it is a volunteer position and unpaid. His mother starts up a wedding cake business (I do wedding cakes, may I help you?) but mainly scares potential customers off by acting as an unlikely wedding counsellor.

See if they can turn their lives around in this warm-hearted novel for teenagers. Recommended reading.

-Ann

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Phoenix Files

Contact by Chris Morphew.

This is the first book in the Phoenix Files series.

Peter's Life seemed pretty normal. Until he discovered
that everyone outside the town of Phoenix was going to die.
The all-powerful Shackleton Co-operative will do whatever it takes to keep him and his friends quiet. And the clock is still ticking.
There are 88 days until the end of the world.

Cheers
julie @ pakenham.

Monday, 14 February 2011

I am number Four

In the beginning we were a group of nine.
Three are gone, dead!
There are six of us left.
They are hunting us, and they won’t stop until they’ve killed us all.
I am Number Four.
I know that I am next


John Smith is a pretty generic name but this John Smith is anything but generic. John is an Alien! From the plant Lorien, where 10 years ago war erupted, John is on the run fighting for his life, the survival of his race and planet. One of nine kids that were shipped off to Earth as the war began, John is bound to the others by a magic that requires their enemy, who desperately want them dead, to kill in numerical order. Numbers 1 to 3 have met their demise and now they’re after number 4: John. And if that wasn’t enough John is once again the new kid in the small town of Paradise, Ohio. He quickly grabs the attention of local girl Sarah (fret not this is not a paranormal romance story) as well as the local town jock Mark. He’s closer to death than ever before but for once in his life John feels like he’s home and he’ll fight to stay.

To me ‘I am number four’ feels real and when I say that I don’t mean I believe in aliens but that the relationships and the characters feel genuine. The characters may appear stereotypical but they will surprise you and the relationship between Sarah and John is not too ‘heavy’. The story is made up of serval different relationships between the characters and none overpower the overall story of one boy trying to find his identity. Lore also manages to remove the obstacle that brings down most science fiction novels by providing great attention to detail, some may say he overwrites but really he builds excellent visuals for the reader to play the story out in their mind.
The book has been called the new Harry Potter, I’m going to reserve opinion on that, but if you liked potter you’ll like this. And if you do like it then your next stop can be the cinemas, the film rights were sold before the book was published and the film will hit cinemas February 24. But alas the movie is never as good as the book so do pick the book up first.




Courtney :)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Private

Private
A series by Kate Brian

Reed Brennan struggles to fit in at her new school Easton Academy. Being the only girl without designer brand clothes and endless money to spend Reed feels miles behind her class mates. However, when she is accepted by the most envied house in the school (Billings House), she finally starts to feel at home.

But is being accepted at Billings really as good as it seems?

During Reed’s time at Easton she is confronted with the murders of two of her friends; both cases leaving Reed in the circle of suspects. But every culprit leaves clues behind and as Reed discovers them she finds herself privy to the biggest secrets at Easton; who the real murderers are.

What she didn’t want to find out was that she was the real target.

A compelling romance/mystery series which I would recommend for everyone to add to their book list.

Natalie

Thursday, 10 February 2011

6


6 by Karen Tayleur begins with a horrific car accident that follows a school formal after-party. Six people are in the car. There are five seatbelts. Are there any survivors?

Karen then takes us back to the beginning. We are introduced to the six teenagers:

Tom, whose goal in life is to be rich. Finn 'fish' Cashin who lives and breathes footy. Intuitive Poppy who reads auras, palms and can foretell the future. Nico, who lists 'school holidays' as his school highlight. Then there is high achieving Sarah. And lastly, Virginia, whose ambition is to be famous.

Friendships are not always as they seem and several of these teenagers are holding secrets from each other. Then a body is discovered in the woods and tensions mount.

This is a strong teenage novel written by an Australian author who lives close to the Dandenong Ranges.

-Ann

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Author Interview - Steph Bowe




Steph Bowe is a sixteen-year-old YA author. Her debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, was published by Text Publishing in September 2010. She writes a blog called Hey! Teenager of the Year and lives in Victoria with her family. You can read a short review of Girl Saves Boy here.

What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?

I've always had books around me - my parents read to me a lot when I was young, and I've devoured books for as long as I can remember. I remember as a very young child my favourite books were The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and a book called The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch, both of which contained drawings of food, which were my favourite parts. I've always been a big fan of food, as well as books.

When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?

I don't think I realised I was a writing. I've just always loved writing. I can remember typing out stories on an old computer when I was five, and even before I could write drawing pictures and telling involved stories to accompany them. I hope that people reading my books will enjoy them, feel as if reading my book is time well-spent. With a lot of what I write, isolation and loneliness are big themes, and I hope if someone reading is experiencing similar emotions to my characters, they feel a little less alone. I want my books to be ultimately hopeful.

Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?

I do, but mainly because I also mainly read books I receive for review on my blog, so I always read with a critical eye. I do always compare that writer to myself, which is never good. I'd love to be able to just read books and not constantly think 'I wish I could write like that!' just think 'Wow, this is great.'

Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writ
ing have an effect on what you write? In what way?

I read everything, and so far what I'm reading doesn't seem to affect what I'm writing.

Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way?

I don't think there are any particular authors or books that have had a masive effect on me - there are a lot that have inspired me, though. Five authors whose work inspires me would probably be Simmone Howell, Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley, J.D. Salinger and John Green.

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?

A book I've not yet read, but that I know will be great. And then, during my travels, I'll probably end up buying more books. Hopefully interesting second-hand ones.

What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?

I don't think it's one particular thing you can put your finger on - it's many things, it's an unnameable magic. Beautiful writing and characters so real you can imagine bumping into them down the shops and emotional depth are all qualities of books I have difficulty putting down.

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

False characters and plotlines and no emotional involvement. I usually keep reading in the hopes a book will improve, and very rarely will I abandon a book, half-read.

Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?

I can't name one favourite author! Though I do love the authors I named in above, and many more. I think what I love about their writing is the believability of it - the characters become real to me, and I really care about them.

If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?

This is impossible. But I will try. I would probably have a different list next week. All of these I chose because they are wonderfully written, and they made me think about things differently than before, and they are the kind of books I wish I'd written.

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
After January by Nick Earls
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Your Skirt's Too Short by Emily Maguire
Town by James Roy
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell
King Dork by Frank Portman

What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Beautifully written and wonderful characters and just absolutely magic.

What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?

I can see a future world where people read both print books and ebooks. I hope more people will read. I think the line between books and other forms of media will blur more. I don't mind ebooks - I already do a lot of reading off a screen - but the feel and lendability of a print book isn't something I want to give up.

Find out more about Steph at www.stephbowe.com

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Frankenstein

Frankenstein
By Margrete Lamond

Victor Frankenstein was young and inquisitive when he left home to study science, he loved to learn and soon became consumed with a goal to create human life. After months of grave robbing Frankenstein slowly pieces together his experiment. Each body part was chosen specifically so that his project was the smartest, strongest and with the heart of a priest, most compassionate.

However on the night his creation comes to life, Frankenstein’s world is turned upside down. Disgusted by his beast, Frankenstein abandons the horror he has made and it is kept a secret from the rest of the world. His love for science is lost.

The creature, however, struggles to survive. Upon seeing his refection the creature decides to remain hidden from the world so that others are not terrified by his looks. Secretly he desires to be accepted and loved and finally finds solace in observing one family’s life.

After continually being rejected the creature seeks out Frankenstein the inventor, to demand an explanation for his existence. He begs the inventor to return to his profession and create another life, so that he can finally be accepted and happy. When refused the monster casts an ever present shadow on Frankenstein’s life, destroying everything Frankenstein has ever loved. He subjects the inventor to a life of misery. Until, Frankenstein’s only goal left in life is to destroy his unwanted experiment.

Natalie

 
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