Summer Interview Series – Krystal Sutherland

Paranormal angel would like to welcome the talented Krystal Sutherland. Thank you so much for joining us, Krystal.

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A Semi Defiantly List Of Worst Nightmares is a very powerful story that covers some very dark, and hard subject matter. Where did the idea for the story come from?

The idea came to me almost fully formed, on a summer afternoon in Amsterdam. My little sister was visiting me while I was studying abroad, but she was afraid of riding a bike around the city and ended up having a panic attack at the thought of it. Eventually, she faced her fear and we had a great afternoon cycling around the city – and this story about a cursed girl with fifty worst nightmares just kind of fell into my head.

 Fear is also a big part of the story. So I feel that it would reminisce of me not to ask, what is your fear?

The top three fears I wouldn’t want to face are heights, caves, and frogs – but I spoke about a deeper fear surrounding mental illness to Clover, which you can read here.

What was your hardest scene to write?

I definitely lost momentum toward the end of the book, so I’d say all of the later scenes were tricky. Starting a story is easy, wrapping up all the loose ends into a satisfying conclusion is much harder!

 The cover designs for both Our Chemical Heart and A Semi-Defiantly List Of Worst Nightmares are beautiful. They are also the first impression of a book. What is the process involved in developing and finalizing your covers?

Authors have very little to no involvement in their covers, so I can’t claim any of their brilliance – but that also means I can brag extensively about how lovely they are! As for the process, a finished version is sent to the author for tweaking and final approval, but the design mainly happens behind the scenes. Once it reaches the author, it is almost exactly how it will look on the shelf.

 Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That is a very good question! The answer is… both, depending on what I’m working on. It can be incredibly draining when something isn’t working. It’s like anything, I suppose – if you’re succeeding, it feels good, you feel good about yourself, it’s energizing. If you’re having a bad writing day, or bad writing week, or month, or year… it can be incredibly disheartening and exhausting.

 What is your writing Kryptonite?

My writing weakness is procrastination. I crave writing when I’m not doing it, but then as soon as I sit down to start, everything else seems more interesting. It has created some bad habits!

 What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My best writing bud is Katherine Webber, who wrote Wing Jones. We met on Twitter before either of us had agents or book deals, then became friends in real life, then supported each other through the craziness of the publication process when it finally happened for us. Writing friends are indispensable; they know exactly what you’re going through, and help to keep you sane!

 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

Getting your first book published is only the beginning. I spent so long focused on that one goal that, when it happened, it was shocking to discover that what I really wanted wasn’t just a book deal, it was a long career as a writer. They are two very different things and now that the goal posts have moved much further away again.

 What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I read a book a few years ago called Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas that I loved, but I don’t see enough buzz about it. Also, everything by Courtney Summers is criminally underappreciated!

 How do you select the names of your characters?

Randomly and without much thought! Usually, the names just come to me. Esther Solar, the main character of Worst Nightmares, was a friend of a friend on Facebook. The main character in the book I’m currently writing is called Hugo Dreadwater – Hugo is my sister’s dog’s name, and Dreadwater came from an acquaintance. Sometimes, if I’m really stuck for a name, I’ll use a random name generator online.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I do! I love hiding little Easter eggs in my books. Someone found one recently and asked me about it at an event – it was something, not even my editor had picked up on, so I was very impressed!

(These were excellent questions! A little bit out of the ordinary. I enjoyed answering them.)

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Bio

Krystal Sutherland is the author of Our Chemical Hearts. She was born and raised in Townsville, Australia, a place that has never experienced winter. Since then she’s lived in Sydney, where she edited her university’s student magazine; Amsterdam, where she worked as a foreign correspondent; and Hong Kong.

She has no pets and no children, but is fond of naming inanimate objects: in the Netherlands, she owned a Dutch bicycle called Kim Kardashian, and a small, inflatable velociraptor called Herbert.

http://krystalsutherland.com/

https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/krystal-sutherland

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If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

Synopsis

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances. 

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. 

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened. 

For what she let happen. 

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Review
I received a copy for an honest  review.

Wow just wow. This is another incredible writen story that will have you thinking about the decisions you make and the repercussions.

Lena was your typical teenager enjoying the last summer before senior year, working and hanging out with friends, including her neighbor and bestfriend Sebastian. But then  an accident changes everything.

This book deals with a lot of “tough issues”, death, grief, underage drinking, relationships, even parent-child relationships. The story is so engrossing and captivating.

This story is told from Lena POV which gives the story real depth and prospective into the after effects and the internal struggle that goes on after a tragic event.

The what if I had done this or I should have done this the blaming yourself for things that are out of your control and the fear that others will blame or even hate you for the decision to you have made.

There is a softer side to this book in the friendships and in particular the friendship between Sebastian and Lena. The friendship before the accident was an extremely strong. It was built over years  and they were always each other’s sounding boards but after the accident Lena shuts herself off not wanting contact with any of her friends including Sebastian. But he refuses to accept this and is there for her no matter what she wants.

I do also have to make mention of the fact that lean it is an avid book reader and the name book that as a reference throughout it the story that she is really is also one of my favorites Sarah J maas A court of Throne and roses series. This helps to set the tone for the book and pull you into it because you can relate to the characters easier whether it’s Lena as the book nerd Sebastian as the sporty type there’s a character that each of us not only relate to buy can see in our friends.

This is definitely not going to be an easy book for some people to read but it’s definitely worth the time. Jennifer has a way of creating stories that pull you in and make you part of their world and this is definitely another great novel.

Summer Interview Series – Author Penni Russon

I am please to welcome our next author, She is a internationally acclaimed and  award-winning writer please welcome  Penni Russon.

What can you tell us about your upcoming book Endsister? 
The Endsister began as an online serialised story. I was invited to be a creative partner on Storybird.com. It was during a time when writing was quite challenging for me and the discipline of writing roughly a chapter a week and publishing it straight away was great – instant feedback! The book is quite different from the online novel, characters have developed more in the book. Online, the plot was resolved with a deus ex machina (an act of god) where the family inherited another house! It was fun writing it that way online, but it was also extremely rewarding to push the novel to the next level in the redrafting phase, to be with my characters and patiently listen to what they knew, what they needed. It’s funny to think that the first draft is still out there in the public domain. I wonder if anyone will ever compare them. 

Where did the idea for Endsister come from? 
Lots of places. My daughter Una was the one who told me she knew what an endsister was. The ghosts Almost Annie and Hardly Alice came to me in a dream. Inheriting the house was a fantasy solution to my own housing dilemma I think – we were a family of five living in a two-bedroom house, the girls sharing, the baby sleeping in our walk-in-robe. I was also drawn to write about England – I’m the daughter of a migrant and on the one hand I felt like I was going home the first time I visited, but when I went back with my oldest daughter, who was five, I realized I didn’t really relate to the culture there, which was so unlike the Asian and Mediterranean influenced culture of the inner suburbs of Melbourne.  

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 
It can definitely do both. Else’s loss of ‘flow’ in The Endsister, her struggle to play violin or find interest or joy in something that used to bring her pleasure, is definitely my own story about myself as a writer. The violin maker, Else’s ‘Starman’, says ‘no one is waiting for you to play the violin’ and what he means is, ‘play or don’t play. You may as well play.’ It’s about writing, or playing, for yourself rather than for some kind of public recognition or success. 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? 
I’m friends with lots of authors, I guess I’ve been around the traps a while. My daughter Una was Kate Mildenhall daughter’s grade six buddy in 2017 and Kate’s daughter and my son were in the same class. Kate wrote the lovely novel Skylarking. Having Kate in my regular life has been such a treat – to have someone so kindred at the classroom door to chat to just incidentally – and it helps that she’s so warm and kind. I have been teaching creative writing at the University of Melbourne for 10 years and I stay in touch with some of my students who have gone on to do amazing things – C.S. Pacat, Shivaun Plozza, Jack Henseleit, but also several who haven’t been published yet and I am excited and energized by watching them grow and develop as writers. Kirsty Murray has been kind to me since long before I became a writer – we used to go for long walks together when I was in my early twenties and Kirsty was at home with three children and beginning her career. Kirsty helped me meet, well, everyone. Another longstanding writer friend is Kate Constable. It’s good to have friends, especially writer-mother friends, who know what it’s like to live in two worlds.  

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? 
Actually early on I wasn’t afraid to make a big mess, write my way into trouble and out of it again, including deleting massive chunks (there is something heartstoppingly exhilarating about selecting 10,000 words and hitting the delete button). I’m more conservative now as a writer, I am much less patient with myself, more risk-averse, and find it harder to tolerate mistakes.  

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? 
When I was a child, and I got very, very cross and shut myself in my bedroom, my father would write me notes and draw pictures and push them under the door. The power of language to mend wounds and regulate emotions has stayed with me forever, and now my daughters and I sometimes work things out over text messages (and where language fails there are always gifs). 

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? 
The Summer Birds is a sequel, or prequel I think, to the better-known novel Charlotte Sometimes, and it’s such a curious and strange novel. On the same note, The Long Secret is a lesser-known sequel to Harriet the Spy. I was an adult when I found out these companions to two of my favourite books existed, and it was like discovering a hidden underground room in your house filled with curiosities.   

What does literary success look like to you? 
There really is nothing better than connecting with a reader and knowing your characters, once so private and intangible, are alive in them. But being published, getting recognition from your peers, critical acclaim, winning prizes, decent sales, these are all measures too, and I have to admit, I really care about all of them.  

What’s the best way to market your books? 
I remember hearing a story about Paul Jennings from early in his career. It might be apocryphal, but apparently he first started receiving fan mail from one area, I think it was Geelong, and then a while later, he found he was receiving fan mail from Bendigo (it was back in the deep dark ages of snail mail). Anyway, the point being that books and reading have always been social and word of mouth was then and still is the best way for news of a book to spread – that earnest handselling recommendation between two friends. Now it happens differently of course, ‘Bendigo’ and ‘Geelong’ are now ‘Tumblr’ and ‘Instagram’ or more precisely, the communities that form on these sorts of social networks. I guess when it comes down to it, I write the best book I know how to write and I trust booksellers, librarians and readers to find it, if it’s the right book for them. I am online and active on social networks, but I try not to be all ‘hey, buy my thing’ at people. I think if people feel like they have a relationship with me online, they’ll be driven by their own curiosity to seek out my work. Writing this, I feel like a giant fraud because marketing is probably the thing about being a writer that I find hardest to do. It goes against my social conditioning to push myself forward. 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 
I read a lot. I read books in the genre I want to write – for Endsister that meant lots of 20th century family stories with magical elements by authors like Noel Streatfeild, Rumer Godden, Joan G. Robinson, Lucy Boston, Penelope Farmer. For Endsister, I used Google Earth extensively to find the right street in London and ‘walk’ around the neighbourhood (I’d been to London twice before on short visits so I had some sense of the place). I was lucky to go back to London during the rewrite so I took lots of notes, but I was excited to see that Google Earth had been a fairly reliable source and the street looked exactly as I imagined it. Going to London reminded me of certain things, like you sit facing each other in the Tube instead of on rows of streets like in Melbourne trains, and I visited Harrods and the Natural History Museum and all the other places the Outhwaites go in the book. Also I found out that apparently lots of people in England believe in ghosts! 

How do you select the names of your characters? 
All the babies I never had! I’m obsessed with names. I’m the person in the cinema reading all the names in the credits while everyone else dashes to the loo. I think I considered every name in existence for my three children. Sibylla, Oscar, Finn, Clancy and Else were all close contenders for baby names. For adults I try to come up with names that sound right for the age, so I borrow names from people I know. 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? 
I would love to be a curator in a museum or art gallery.  

Do you Google yourself? If so what have you learned about yourself? 
If you Google ‘How old is Penni Russon?’ it comes up with my age. That’s pretty cool, lucky I’m not coy about it. My Wikipedia page is woefully out of date, but it seems unseemly to update it myself. 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Money. The desire to make money out of writing. 

Lastly is there anything you would like to say to your fans? 
Reading over this, I guess the message about writing is that it’s sometimes hard work. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it, or how to do it. Writing your way through these feelings if the only way, just like being lost in forest – if you sit down and give up, you’ll stay lost. And you’ll always wonder what you might have found if you kept going. You are your mostly companion, trust yourself to guide yourself out of the forest, but don’t feel like you need to do it alone, help is on hand if you are kind to the woodland creatures and the trees. The thing is, a few trees over, in the next clearing that you can’t see, is everyone else you know, also lost in the same forest. You might not all be there at the same time, but it’s that kind of a forest, we all spend time there. Writer’s block is really another way of saying ‘I don’t know where to go next’ or ‘I am very tired, maybe I should just lie down here and sleep for a hundred years.’  That’s not a feeling special to writers. There is teacher’s block, plumber’s block, relationship block, even Netflix block. So send out your little light, and keep your eye out for those other little lights in the dark, showing the way home. And write. And read. And play. And dream. 

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Bio

Penni Russon is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning writer and academic with an enduring interest in childhood and adolescence. Penni lives in the bushy outskirts of Melbourne with her partner, three kids and a schnauzer called Swoosie. Find out more about Penni at pennirusson.com, or her blog eglantinescake.blogspot.com

Summer Interview Series – Author J.C Burke

The first author in our summer interview series is J.C Burke. Author of The Things We Promise. Thank you so much for joining us

You have quite a back catalogue of work. Is there a particular book that stands out all the highlight of your career so far?
I’m very proud of PigBoy because it was a challenging book to write. Damon the narrator is not always likable and yet I had to ensure the reader cared enough to keep reading.

 How are you finding the transition from writing books to writing for film and television?
Hard! I don’t think Im very good at it.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you are working on?
I’ve started working on an ‘adult’ novel. Told in the voice of a woman my age. It’s a bit of a family saga.

Before you started writing, I read that you worked in nursing and specialized in oncology. What made you decide to change careers?
I had glandular fever and was off work for a while. That’s when I started playing with some stories. It was the first time I’d ever written. It was thrilling.

If you could tell your younger writing self, what would it be?
Don’t compare your work to anyone else’s. All voices are unique. All stories have a place.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It gave me the confidence to find and tell more stories.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Probably lying on the floor of the living room, playing music and reading the lyrics on the record cover. That’s when I really felt their power.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It really depends on the book. PigBoy was extensive research, culminating in gutting a pig with my bare hands!
My latest novel The Things We Promise is set in 1990 during the Aids pandemic. Research varied from cultural references, to the progression of the disease, the reaction of the community and media as well as nailing the jargon so it was specific to that exact year.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
By me? PigBoy.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Writing the first 50 or so pages. That can be excruciating.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
My planning notebooks.

How do you balance making demands on the writer with taking care of the reader?
I try not to think too much about either. I want to just listen to the voice. To hear the character and tell their story as truthfully and authentically as I can.

Lastly is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Keep an open mind with The Things We Promise. It’s a tough read and an ugly reflection on our society. But history is important and must be told truthfully however uncomfortable it is to read.

9781760290405

Bio:

J.C. Burke has published a number of acclaimed books for teenagers and young adults, including CBCA Notable Books White Lies and The Red Cardigan, Aurealis Awards finalist Nine Letters Long,The Story of Tom Brennan, Faking Sweet, Starfish Sisters, Ocean Pearl, Pig Boy and Pretty GirlThe Story of Tom Brennan won the 2006 CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers and the 2006 Australian Family Therapists Award for Children’s Literature and it is currently on the NSW HSC syllabus list. Pig Boy won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction in 2012.

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/young-adult-fiction/The-Things-We-Promise-J-C-Burke-9781760290405

https://www.jcburke.com.au/

 

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Announcement -Summer Series

I am very excited to announce that starting tomorrow we are going to be having an incredible selection of authors stopping by for interviews.

This will be a great way for you to get to know these authors better.

A few of the amazing authors that will be stopping by include

 

With more authors to be announced. logo

​Aurabel (Lorali #2) by Laura Dockrill

Synopsis 
Laura Dockrill makes a dramatic return to the sea set in the same world as the sparkling and magnetic mermaid story, Lorali.

It has been two years since Rory drowned, and Lorali is in Hastings, living the quiet life of a normal teenage girl. But her safe life on land won’t last for long. Life in The Whirl has become a hotbed of underwater politics and as the council jostles to oust the king, one Mer in particular has her eye on Lorali as the key to her own rise to power.

Meanwhile, Aurabel, a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench, is attacked by sea beasts and left for dead – and without a tail. Raging with righteous anger, she rebuilds herself a mechanical tail and reinvents herself as a fearless steampunk Mer seeking revenge. But she never expected the most important job that was about to drop into her lap.

Laura Dockrill’s imagination explodes any pre-conceived ideas about mermaids and creates a curious, hilarious, riotous adventure not to be missed.
Review

I received a copy  for a honest  review.

Aurabel seamlessly followed on from Lorali, but at the same time it felt very much like a standalone too.The new aspects of power, fighting and cyborg mermaids really worked and helped to create a unqiue aspects of this novel.

Aurabel is a Mer from the poor side of the sea, from the Tip where she lives with her girlfriend Murray. After the closure of the petrified forest by King Zar, a number of monsters crept in making it unsafe for Mer to visit their haven.

Zar is losing the fath of his kingdom. In a effort to win his people Zar consents to reopening the forest provided the monsters are cleared out, bringing in  Aurabel for the job. But all does not go as planned when cruel Sienna intervenes, using plucky Aurabel’s demise as the spark for a coup. 

Meanwhile, on land Lorali and Flynn  mourn the loss of Rory and  Iris is  slowly slips into illness. Lorali’s sad peace is interrupted by warnings. Rory is in danger?

 If you’re looking for a mermaid themed pre-teen or YA novel, I’d recommend it
 

​Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3)by Libba Bray

Synopsis 

New York City.

1927.

Lights are bright.

Jazz is king.

Parties are wild.

And the dead are coming…


After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.


With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

Review 

I received a ARC copy for an honest review. 

Before the Devil Breaks You is the third book in the Diviners series. We return to to the world of glitzy, jazz, and secrets of 1920s New York City.

In this installment, the diverse gang of diviners are threatened by a supernatural creature known as the King of Crows. The creature that seems to have been growing in the background. 

There are ghosts from each of their past that haunt them. Evie, Memphis, Ling, Sam, Isaiah, Theta and Henry  must face these to be able to face the bigger demon that they will face together

 As the supernatural occurrences and the natural-world’s government seem to be ever more entwined, it becomes clear that the Diviners’s problems could be even bigger than first realised. What is it that they are not being told ?

Bray has this incredible way of making you feel like you are in 1920s New York. 

The author note really sets the story.

We are a country built by immigrants, dreams, daring, and opportunity.

We are a country built by the horrors of slavery and genocide, the injustice of racism and exclusion. These realities exist side by side. It is our past and our present. The future is unwritten.

This is a book about ghosts. For we live in a haunted house.

She doesn’t sugarcoat the horrors of these times. Racism, anti-semitism and the eugenics movement are part of everyday life for our characters. The book’s cast includes characters who are black, mixed race, Jewish, gay, a person with a physical disability, and others who are mentally ill. This allows the author to explore a particularly horrific aspect of the 1920s – the treatment of mentally ill patients in government institutions.  In this book. Which is a eye opener  for some readers 

It’s interesting how fantasy can be used to reveal very real aspects of human nature.

This is definitely a series it’s getting better with every book and I cannot wait to see what will happen in the 4th installment.

There is many different aspects of the story I could discuss but I feel it would potentially give too much of the overall storyline away. If you’re a fan of this series you will love book 3 and if you’re just discovering series is definitely worth the read. 

Will the the Devil Breaks You ?