What’s happening?

Rather a lot.

I have been super busy over the last few weeks, but here’s some important stuff.

1. Book launch

The Beast’s Heart will be published in Australia & New Zealand on 24 April and in the UK on 3 May and I am dizzy with excitement. Dreams coming true.

If you’re in Canberra on 26 April, I would love for you to join me at Harry Hartog Booksellers at 6pm to launch it. There will be cupcakes and bubbles, and one of my fave author crushes, the incomparable Angela Slatter, will also be there to help me launch it.

Want more info? Hit the pic of the giraffe below to go to HH’s events page. You’ll need to RSVP!

A giraffe stands above the text Harry Hartog Bookseller

2. Books!

Things are staring to get real. Really real. In the last week TWO boxes of books have turned up on my doorstep. First to arrive were the completely stunning trade paperbacks that will (as of next Tuesday) be available in all good bookstores:

A box full of paperback books, titled The Beast's Heart. The cover is decorated with shiny coppery ivy.

Then, two days ago, the box of hardbacks arrived from the UK. Yeah, my face was sore from smiling. Aren’t my book babies beautiful?

A box full of hard cover books, titled The Beast's Heart.

This box came with a card and a present that I am forbidden to open until Tuesday!!! ARGH! The agony!

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3. Workshop

Last Wednesday I ran a workshop at one of the local libraries here for their The Write Stuff series. It was for 2 hours and when they gave me the topic I nearly fainted: From idea to publication!!!

Just a small subject. There’s probably only about 20 workshops worth of material in that, not counting the actual business of actually doing the actual writing. Nevertheless, I rose to the challenge and even in the absence of a powerpoint presentation, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I had fun, anyway.

What’s next?

The book launch next week! Followed by publication in the UK. *chews nails*

And I’ll be up in Sydney again on the first weekend in June, doing events at a couple of the Dymocks stores, and maybe something else if I can squeeze it in. You’ll definitely be able to find me at:

  • Dymocks Sydney (George St) at 11am on Saturday, 2 June
  • Dymocks Penrith at 3pm on Sunday, 3 June.

So if you’re in Sydney then, I’d love to see you.

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Purple prose

Hoboy, do I have a very special treat for you.

I was doing a bit of a clean up in my study this weekend and made a couple of hilarious archaeological discoveries. Here’s the first.

Context: I have none. I don’t even remember writing it. I must have been about 11 or 12. I remember discovering Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman around that time, so that’s a possible source of inspiration.

Enjoy.

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(I think she’s kneeling, not pregnant, in that last pic.)

It’s got everything, doesn’t it? A catchy title, killer cover art, kissing (“for two minutes”), broken ankles, drunk highwaymen, secret forest lairs, murder, egg sandwiches…

The proofs are out there…

2017-11-18 14.40.24This has been an exciting few days! Hachette Australia HQ held their book bloggers night last Thursday, and this lil old thing got given out, leading to a small social media flurry on my part as people tweeted & instagrammed pics of their copies. I am telling you as a total rookie debut author, I don’t think this will ever get old.

But here’s the exciting part: a group of book bloggers and reviewers from Sydney blog Read3r’z Re-Vu will be doing a read along of their proof copies of The Beast’s Heart from Sunday evening through Monday, and they’ve asked me to join them! Basically, I get to peek over their shoulders and watch their reactions (via whatsapp) as they read it!

Am I looking forward to it? Am I what!

In return, I’ll be giving them some exclusive insights into writing the story plus a bonus playlist of songs I listened to while writing it.

On top of that, the submission window for A Hand of Knaves closed on Thursday at midnight. So now I have a fat folder sitting in my inbox of short story submissions ready  to read. Really looking forward to seeing what’s waiting for me there.

Plus there’s a few other bits & pieces to be getting on with, like a wrap-up of last weekend’s Genrecon and a new article for Hodderscape, not to mention I’ll be starting a new job on Monday. So it’s not like I’m going to be at a loose end over the next few days…

The iceberg

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If you are a writer, you have probably at some stage of heard of something referred to as ‘the iceberg principle’. It’s pretty simple really. The premise is based on the idea that 90% of the iceberg lies invisible, under the water, with only 10% visible above the surface. This is a metaphor for what you know about your story, world and characters, vs what actually makes it onto the page for your reader to see.

Just by way of example, here’s a sentence from one of my WIPs:

If she had been at home, she most likely would have been abed with a hot brick and one of her housekeeper’s restorative tisanes.

That might have taken you all of two seconds to read. And it probably took me a couple of minutes to craft the actual words that went into it. But that sentence also represents at least 45 minutes worth of internet research on:

  • 18th Century remedies for period pain
  • Lydia E Pinkham
  • Liquorice root, including where it grows and what its medicinal properties are
  • the medicinal properties of Dandelion root

Which is basically just my way of reassuring myself that it’s OK to have only produced 200 words after getting up at 5.30 am and writing for 1.5 hours before the family gets up and we all have to get ready for work/school/etc. And also goes some way to illustrating why it takes so damn long to write a bloody novel.

And now I have had that stupid Lily the Pink song stuck in my head all day. Yeah. You’re welcome.

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Stories in the mist

Writing. It looks so much easier than it is.

I’ve spent most of the last week and a half doing more brainstorming and dreaming. I’m still sitting at that point of frustration, where I can see the shape of the story, I can feel it, taste it, even. But when I try and pin it down in words, it just dissolves like mist through my fingers.

Argh!

I’ve definitely made progress, though, even if I can only describe it as creeping.

Here, have some more of my visual prompts from Pinterest. Which is kind of what this WIP looks like in my head. Intriguing, definite feel to it, some good characters. But a concrete plot? Pff.

Dreaming up a city

So this weekend’s writing job, while I do a bunch of other, non-writingy jobs, is to start dreaming up a city for one of my current projects.

I’m a big advocate of the setting-as-a-character-in-its-own-right school of world building. My favourite novels are the ones you want to keep re-reading because you just enjoy being in the world of the story so much. Think JK Rowling’s Hogwarts, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, Terry Pratchett’s Ankh Morpork, Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, Diana Wynne Jones’ Moving Castle. And just to show this works outside fantastical stories, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden and Georgette Heyer’s Regency London. In fact, one of my big motivations behind writing The Beast’s Heart was to write myself a fairy tale world I could go and live in for a little while.

I have some sketchy ideas for this city, but so far it’s really just been a backdrop for the action in this new story. I want to level it up a bit, deepen it’s character, really bring it alive. I want my city to have twisty, shadowy alleyways lined with crooked buildings, cobbled streets and piazzas, a complicated clock tower, avenues of terraced mansions, moonlit shenanigans on rooftops, a river with treacherously damp water stairs, a monumental bridge lined with statuary, and a royal palace with towers and turrets. I want it to have all this and hold out the tantalising promise of more.

I have a whole Pinterest board of city inspiration.

I love looking at old photographs of cities in times gone past for inspiration.

I also love using old paintings and drawings for city inspiration. I find it interesting to look at what drew the artist’s eye. What was it about the city they thought was worth capturing? Rooftops? Stately buildings and squares? Shadowy spaces and archways leading…where?

And I’ve been mainlining illustrations by the likes of Anton Pieck and Arthur Rackham, who did delightful, fairy-taleish cityscapes.

What are your favourite literary cities? And what brings them alive in your mind?

Those proofs

My big news this week is that the printed proof copies of The Beast’s Heart have arrived in the London office of my publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and a small pile of them will soon be winging their way into my waiting hands.

To say I’m excited is putting it mildly. Up until those photos were tweeted, I had only seen the front cover, so I’m still swooning a bit over the detail on the spine and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I read the lovely words they’ve put on the back.

If you would like to receive a review copy, Hodder has information available for book bloggers here.

If you’re an Australian reveiwer, your best bet is probably going to be through Hachette Australia on Netgalley.

News! A Hand of Knaves

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The CSFG has announced it will be opening to submissions on 1 August for its newest anthology, A Hand of Knaves, to be published in late 2018 and edited by my good friend Chris Large… and yours truly!

I’m not sure this is the most sensible decision of my life – I’ve got plenty of stuff going on next year after all (*cough*The Beast’s Heart*cough*), but Chris asked so nicely and I think the concept (which is totally his), of an anthology of stories about scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells is just brilliant. My imagination has already exploded with ideas!

We’re going to be looking for stories of up to 5000 words featuring knavish characters who are anything from mischievous rogues right through to evil bastards. It’s got to be speculative; we want a good mix of sci fi, fantasy and horror and all the sub-genres in between. We welcome stories from and about the full and glorious spectrum of human beings. Our main criteria (apart from those listed above) is that it just has to be good. The catch is that, given CSFG anthologies are a showcase of Australian speculative writing, you do have to be Australian, or an Australian resident, or at least a member of CSFG to submit. Head over to the CSFG Publications page to find out more about the kinds of stories we’re going to be looking for and how to submit.

This is going to be awesome.

 

0…

So here’s what I’ve been counting down to. *silly grin*

Low-Fantasy-Dodo-Banner-400x200I am beyond excited to announce that on 31 May 2018 my first novel, The Beast’s Heart, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. (If you click on the image above, it will take you to the announcement on the Hodderscape website.) Here’s a little snippet of what they say about it to whet your appetite:

Set in seventeenth-century France, it is a luxuriously magical retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale – from the point of view of the Beast. Both the writing and story-telling are lush and evocative, rich and achingly exquisite; this novel is the epitome of psychological depth and descriptive beauty.

*Blushes*

The Beast’s Heart (formerly known as Novel Project #1) was my way of immersing myself in one of my favourite fairy tales, and in my very own fairy-tale-come-true was picked up by Hodder & Stoughton out of the open submissions process they (bravely) ran in 2015. (Bravely: they got 1445 submissions! That is a LOT of reading!)

There is a bit of celebrating going on in my house tonight.

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