Finalist Interviews: the origin of A Necklace of Souls, by R L Stedman

If you have ever wondered where authors get their ideas, this is your chance to find out.rachel stedman

We have asked our fantastic finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children
and Young Adults all about their work, and they have been very generous in their responses.

A Necklace of Souls, by R L Stedman (HarperCollins NZ) is a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of the Book Awards

Thank you to Rachel Stedman for her generous responses:

1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
You’re right, I have so many ideas that sometimes I can’t sleep – it’s kind of like hearing voices, all the time.

The idea for A Necklace of Souls developed from a dream of a girl fighting in a forest. She fought so beautifully that when I woke, I wanted to write her story. So the entire book is really leading up to that one scene.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

Finding time! What people don’t realize – what I didn’t realize, anyway – is the manuscript accepted by the publisher is only the first step in the publishing process.

COV_Necklace.inddAfter acceptance, the manuscript goes to an editor for a style edit. The style edit looks at structure. I was really lucky, because I had a wonderful editor, Helen Chamberlain, who lives in Melbourne, and we emailed each other, usually late at night, about the changes that were needed. The first email I got from Helen said ‘I loved A Necklace of Souls but…’ and she went on to say that it needed another seven chapters. Which was a little overwhelming. But the extra chapters weren’t too hard, and Helen was right, they did improve the story.

It took about three drafts with Helen to get Necklace to the point where we were happy with it, and then the manuscript went back to HarperCollins. Anna, my editor at HarperCollins, did a copy edit, looking for things like spelling errors and consistency. I had to check this edit again.

And then it went to an external proof reader for a final check. And then, finally, it was ready to be printed.

And the whole time I was doing this, I was also writing the sequel and working and other things, too.

3. Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?
I always thought it would appeal to older teenage readers, about sixteen to twenty-three years old. A Necklace of Souls is similar in some ways to books I read at that age, so maybe that’s why I had that age group in mind.

4. Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
I am like a walking library. I read lots and lots of books so I really couldn’t name any particular one. But I enjoy fantasy fiction, so probably some fantasy novels crept into the story. If you enjoyed A Necklace of Souls, you may also enjoy The Belgariad by David Eddings, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, or any novel by Patricia McKilip or Robin McKinley.

I also read a lot of books about things like knife fighting and breadmaking when researching A Necklace of Souls. I have some of these (as well as short videos and other material I used) pinned to my research board on pinterest.

5. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
My dream bach would be stocked with Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer (I am a total Georgette Heyer nutcase) – preferably in the Pan editions because their covers are so bright they look like graphic novels.

Because I’m a very fast reader, I like to take lots and lots of books on holiday. So in my dream bach I’d also like to see James Herriott, Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Asterix, Tintin, Ben Aaronovitch, Neal Stephenson… anything, really. I’m not too fussy, as long as it’s funny and well written.

6. What is your favourite thing to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Baking (and eating) chocolate brownies. I have a special recipe for a microwave brownie, it’s super easy, takes about ten minutes. Here’s the link.

And I love taking photos. I’m totally addicted to instagram. You can find me on @rlstedman

You can find RL Stedman’s social media networks below:

 

Finalist Interviews: The origins of When We Wake, by Karen Healey

Picture 074If you have ever wondered where authors get their ideas, this is your chance to find out.
We have asked our fantastic finalists all about their work, and they have been very generous in their responses!

We have previously reviewed When We Wake on this blog

Thank you to Karen Healey for answering our questions:

1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
I’ve always been very interested in fairytales,WhenWeWake_CVR_128x198x21.5_FA.indd and in fairytale retellings. The Sleeping Beauty story is fascinating – a woman whom time has passed by suddenly wakes up to a new world. That’s a great start!

But most versions end there; she wakes up, she gets married, happy ever after. Really? After a century has passed? What about her culture shock? Would she approve or disapprove of accepted ethics, fashion, custom? How would she go about fitting in and making a new life for herself?

Those are the questions I wanted to explore with Tegan, who dies and is revived into a future she didn’t entirely expect.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
There really wasn’t one – the challenge came with the book before this. I outlined it and wrote up three chapters and confidently presented it to my editors and they (very politely) turned it down. FINE, I said, FINE I will just write my sci-fi Sleeping Beauty idea then! So I did, and, Oh good, they said, we like this much better, please sign here.

3. Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
Ken Catran’s Deepwater series was massively influential on me as a kid, and I still think about the way that book deals with the idea of past-to-future life. I also really like the way cryonics is presented in Lois McMaster Bujold’s (adult) sci-fi series following the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan.

Some readers have pointed to Beth Revis’ Across the Universe as a book that might have influenced When We Wake, but I’ve actually never read it. Just one of those pleasing coincidences! I think that the more books that deal with creepy body freezing science and governmental cover-ups the better.

The biggest influence on When We Wake isn’t a book, or science fiction at all – it’s the movie Easy A. I love the way the main character narrates directly to her audience as she presents her side of the story, and I ruthlessly stole the format for the book.

4. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
Holiday? What are those?

5. What is your favourite thing to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Probably gaming. I used to play World of Warcraft a lot, and the Mass Effect trilogy is my favourite science fiction narrative of all time but the game that’s taking all my “free” time at the moment is Marvel Puzzle Quest. I do love matching those gems. It creates a sense of order in a chaos-ridden world.

How to make a gift for a Prince

When we heard that the Royal Visit to New Zealand was timed for April, we saw the perfect opportunity to gift 9-month-old Prince George with the wonderful Picture Book finalists selected in this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The idea quickly expanded to annually gifting the young Prince and his family the finalists that most suit his age until he reaches the age of 18. By the time Prince George grows up, the Cambridge family will have a superb collection of New Zealand literature, all personally inscribed.
Prince George Book Wrapping_1_square
So how do you make a gift for a Prince? When you work in an industry where everyone loves what they do, it’s no trouble at all to put together something really special.

The first thing to do was to get the publishers and authors on board. We approached the finalist publishers Scholastic NZ, Penguin, Gecko Press and Page Break to see if the authors and illustrators would like to write a personal message to Prince George on their finalist books. The result was some wonderful and creative messages including an illustrated bear from Donovan Bixley and a personalised poem called ‘Prince George’ by Catherine Foreman. She even made a gorgeous wee origami-styled envelope for the poem.

Prince George Book Wrapping_Boats envelope for P George
We spoke to our friends at Clemenger BBDO design agency based here in Wellington, and they were as excited as we were about getting creative with the new Awards logo and Prince George Book Wrapping_Front cover of carddesign to create some colourful wrapping paper and a personalised card. They presented
us with 5 fabulously fun colours of wrapping paper, one to carefully wrap each precious book in, and a personalised card with George on the front.

Clemenger BBDO donated their time free of charge and worked with Service Printers to create the best looking wrapping paper and card you could hope to see and we thank them both for their time and contribution.

We sent the card (with a second copy in case of mistakes) to our Board Chair, Random House Publishing Manager Nicola Legat, where she put pen to paper and addressed the card and present to Prince George. With the card back in hand, our PR Advisor Adrienne Olsen put her gift wrapping skills to good use and carefully wrapped each book.

Prince George Book Wrapping_3Little did we know this idea of ours was going to result in international media coverage, with our gift of picture books featuring in any number of Royal Visit articles across the world, as well as in New Zealand. Back here at home, the picture book finalists flew off the shelves as book store staff catered to people coming in store ‘wanting to buy the books that Prince George received’.

The books gifted to Prince George included: Machines and Me: Boats, by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic NZ), The Boring Book, by Vasanti Unka (Penguin), The Three Bears…Sort of, by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley (Scholastic), Toucan Can, by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis (Gecko Press), and Watch Out, Snail! By Gay Hay and Margaret Tolland (Page Break Ltd).

Prince George Book Wrapping_2

by Amie Lightbourne, Awards Manager
Photographs by Adrienne Olsen, Awards Publicist  adrienne@adroite.co.nz

For everything awards, check us out here and on Facebook. 

 

Finalist Interviews: The origins of Mortal Fire, by Elizabeth Knox

pp_elizabeth knoxIf you have ever wondered where authors get their ideas, this is your chance to find out. We have asked our fantastic finalists all about their work, and they have been very generous in their responses!

We have previously reviewed Mortal Fire on this blog, and please also see our review of the event Elizabeth did during the New Zealand Festival Writers Week, for further information about this book.

Thank you to Elizabeth Knox for answering our questions:

1.    As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
This is the big question, so here’s my only big answer – starting small.

The basic idea for Mortal Fire came, as many of my ideas do, cv_mortal firefrom my imaginary game (for an explanation of that see my website http://elizabethknox.com). The basic idea was that a family of magic users have imprisoned their most powerful member in hidden house and, after decades, the original spell has grown so strong that it is strangling the vitality and future of the whole family. And, so far, no one in the family has been able to say about the family’s choices: “This is crazy. This isn’t working.”

I wanted the story to read like a mystery, so needed a mystery solver, in this case a determined girl who visits the valley, knows something strange and magical is going on, and wants to get to the bottom of it.

But before I began the book a number of terrible things happened to my family, one of the hardest of which was that my husbands’ brother Duncan died leaving behind a wife, and four children, the Barrowman nephews and niece to whom Mortal Fire is dedicated. They are south Auckland Pasifika kids. Which is one reason the book’s heroine, Canny, is a Pasifika kid.

Duncan was killed in Rarotonga (where he was with his team on a Golden Oldies rugby tour). The man who killed him went to prison for manslaughter. Some thoughts I had during that man’s trial became the secondary theme of Mortal Fire. (It’s first theme is how you can’t always save people, or spare them. The two books I wrote between 2009 and 2012 have that, partly because my mother was dying of Motor Neurone Disease – which among other things is an exercise in being able to do less and less to help all the time. But also because of Duncan, and my husband’s family, especially the kids. Because of many nights lying awake, thinking in desperation and worry, “What can I do? What can I do?”)

The secondary theme was about our desire to punish people who harm us, and what that desire does to us. When we were in Rarotonga, attending the trial, we all hoped for a guilty verdict. The idea that the guy who did it might get off was awful. But one day, when we were driving on the inland ring road, we passed a sign pointing to the Cook Island prison and went to take a look. We sat in the car for a short time staring across a humpy green field at the long, low building. It had barred windows, each with a single horizontally-hinged shutter. The shutters were propped open. The sunshine was bright and hot and the prison’s interior was just a blackness. Now – I might have wanted the guy to go to prison, but right then the thought of putting any fellow human being in that place and making them stay was quite hard. Or serious. Or just real – it made my desire for this man’s punishment something I had not just to feel, but to be responsible for. So, the trial ended and I came home and I went on thinking about that moment, and my own piteous human hesitation, a piteous human hesitation which the man who drove his truck into Duncan failed to have. It wasn’t that I stopped feeling angry and vengeful, or even thought I should stop feeling that way. It was only that I came to understand that my human hesitation was a far, far more valuable feeling (I mean not just to me – but in life, in the world). And some of this found its way into Mortal Fire.

2.    Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?cv_dreamhunter
I’ve written many books now and there seems to be an endless variety of problems that can turn up during publication each one. Mortal Fire had a straightforward start. My editor and agent chivvied me along. I gave it to them and structural/copy editing and proofing all got underway with FSG in the US and Gecko Press’s Julia Marshall here. A great cover turned up, and really good blurbs from writers I admire (Holly Black and Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link and Delia Sherman). Then my wonderful editor Frances Foster suffered a bad stroke. Frances is still alive and facing daily challenges, but she has retired. Frances was my editor for Dreamhunter and Dreamquake too, and I owe her a great deal, and I’ve missed sharing with her things like Mortal Fire being a finalist in the LA Times Book Awards.cv_dreamquake_

3.    Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?
With each book, adult or YA, I just write the book that is there to be written, as faithfully as I possibly can. If I have any useful ideas of an audience it is people who love the books I love. And that’s a wide brief, since I read and love many different kinds of books.

4.    Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
Anything by Megan Whelan Turner, Holly Black, Margot Lanagan, Diana Wynne Jones and Margaret Mahy. No other book was a direct inspiration, but these are some of the writers of young adult fiction who continue to inspire me.

5.    Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
cv_night_watchTimes that stick in my mind are these: staying up late in a Tata Beach bach bed with a hammock-like saggy mattress reading Terry Pratchett’s The Night Watch. Lying on a window seat of a bach in Marehau with a view of a rose garden and fruit falling off trees and onto a trampoline then bouncing off like popcorn when you take the lid off the popper. I was reading a formidable, dark book by Roberto Bolano, called 2666. Or, again Tata, two rainy days at the beach reading my first Lee Child books. Or, years ago, looking out over Tata lagoon, and a garden where my four-year-old was playing with round-bellied Burmese kittens while I read an elegant, icy, lethally sad book called The Periodic Table by holocaust survivor Primo Levi.

The thing is, there are times when you’re reading a book that you read the world along with it, and the book reads the world, and the world seems to read the book – especially if it’s a great book, like The Periodic Table or 2666 – or even, in its own way, Pratchett’s The Night Watch.

6.    What is your favourite thing to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Playing imaginary games (see website). Why? Because I get to be someone else somewhere else – and usually several someones – much more completely than I do when I’m reading, or watching films or TV, or even writing.

– Booksellers NZ material. Please ask if you wish to extract this material in any way.

Words of the Day – Tuesday, 1 October 2013

This is a digest of our Twitter feed (now with a new title) that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews
Book Review: The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell
Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King – review (Guardian Books)

New Releases
New Release: Juno & Hannah, by Beryl Fletcher (Spinifex Press) 

Giveaways
Giveaway: The Score – tell us what score means to you at info@booksellers.co.nz, and be in to win.

Mega children’s book giveaway – one pack for younger readers, one for older.

Extracts
An extract from Demon Dentist, by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins)

Book News
It’s 1 October folks, which means Booksellers Gift Cards are available at these stores nationwide
What huge recognition for Matters of the Heart author Angela Wanhalla, picking up an $800k Rutherford Fellowship

Publisher behind Book Awards Finalist releases second book

New press and debut publication launched to celebrate 20 years of creative writing @WhitireiaNZ
A Window into NZ Writing: The IIML Documentary — 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Making Baby Float coming on television

Nook hires new chief operating officer and new executive vice president of content and marketing

Awards News
1 October means submissions are now open for the #nzpcba and the #nzpba. Get those books packed & out the door.

From around the internet
William Boyd introduces his new James Bond novel, Solo, to New Zealanders:   #BondSolo

Pop your headphones on and listen to the dulcet tones of Dominic West reading the new Bond book, Solo

Macmillan’s Swoon Reads looking for unpublished romance & new adult novels. How to submit

Yes you can make sales using social media. Here’s how: http://owl.li/pi2MV  #Free #whitepaper

Flavorwire put together a list of 50 books every parent should read their child  What would you add?

Interesting piece about trends in YA lit; whats does success of books like #hungergames say about teens’ concerns?

Social Media at the New Zealand Post Book Awards

On Wednesday, 28 August, the winners of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Auckland.

We’ll be reporting live and wanted to make sure you know how you can join in and where you can see what’s happening.

The short story
You’ll find us on the night on…
•    Our Facebook page
•    Twitter account
•    Flickr

Rolling embargo
We are once again issuing a rolling embargo to media, which means that anyone who hears the winners at the ceremony can share the information however they like.

Follow us on Facebook
We’ll share some photos and all the winners (as they’re announced) on our Facebook page.

Tweeting from the ceremony
We’ll be tweeting live from the ceremony on the Booksellers NZ account. We’ll include fashion shots before the ceremony, lots of photos of the event staging as well as announcements of winners in real time.

The hashtag for the event – and all New Zealand Post Book Awards content – is #nzpba

Other people tweeting
There’s a bunch of other active tweeters coming to the ceremony too. See who else will be tweeting on our ceremony twitter list.

@NZPost – our wonderful sponsors
@nzdodo- Jolisa Gracewood
@samelworthy – Sam Elworthy, AUP Publisher and President of PANZ
@sarahjbarnett – Sarah Jane Barnett, Finalist writer

Let us know @booksellersnz if you’ll be tweeting at the ceremony and we’ll add you to the list.

Access to WiFi
At the event we’ll have free wifi – I can give you the password on the night or email me at info@booksellers.co.nz and I’ll send it to you ahead of time.

Photos!
We’ll run candid snaps through our Twitter feed and Facebook page and more formal shots on our Flickr page.

We hope you enjoy the night whether you’re at home or in Auckland with us.

Sarah Forster, Web Editor, Booksellers NZ

Email digest: Monday 26 August 2013

This is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews
Scotland on Sunday reviews Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries – and a radio review on Nine to Noon

If you or someone you know likes fishing…The Trout Bohemia is trending right now.

John McIntyre reviewed Little Fur and Billionaire Boy for RNZ last Friday. Here’s the podcast

A review of The Travel Book – last week’s giveaway

Book News
The Digital Book Awards are open for submissions…

LIANZA thrilled to launch our new EBL elibrary service for personal members

Yes, printed books and libraries do matter

Irish publishing news that reflects on the kiwi situation

This is a fantastic article about Mark Rubbo and @ReadingsBooks in Melbourne. A great success story

Buy a book for your dad for father’s day

Michael King’s Writers Residency open for applications

Awards News
Here are all the finalist books for the #nzpba on our bookshelf display. Getting close now…

We will be a little occupied over the next few days…#nzpba

The finalists for the #nzpba People’s Choice Awards are…

From around the internet
Batman protects your page…

Famous works that were written in exile

All Blacks + Romance writers

The Read edigest: Monday 12 August 2013

This is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews
In The Mannequin Makers, Craig Cliff  “has crafted a brilliantly structured and evocative story.”
Book Review: The Curiosity, by Stephen Kiernan


David Hill reviews Duncan Sarkies’ new book on Nine to Noon – The Demolition of the Century

New Release Books
New Release: Surviving Centrepoint, by Ella James

New Release: Te Ara: Maori Pathways of Leadership

Events
Bring the littlies to Mt Roskill Library on Friday 16 August for National Poetry Day w/A Little Ink

#nzpba events: Jarrod Gilbert is talking tomorrow at Canterbury Uni, Rob Brown talks huts at Scorpio Books

#nzpba events:  The @womensbookshop celebrates poetry tomorrow with Ian Wedde & Anne Kennedy

Book News
This has been on the Nielsen list for weeks: read an extract from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Faction Comics has their second anthology of work by NZ’s best comic artists due in August

Author interview: Award-winning author Craig Cliff on his uneasy relationship with historical fiction

Awards News
Our reviews of #nzpba New Zealand Post Awards finalist books

#nzpcba Picture book winner Gavin Bishop tells the NZ Herald about his happy place

Check out what our #nzpba finalists are talking about in the lead-up to the awards by subscribing to our list

From around the internet
This infographic shows how often different cities appear in books

Why Jonathon Franzen gets your goat…

Damien Wilkins feels the love for X Factor

Book-inspired icecream flavours… any suggestions for kiwi book flavours?

Attention sci-fi fans! @goodreads has a handy list of Julius Vogel nominees& winners – go and take a look

Check out this quirky and informative video on the history of typography!

Meet the press: shrewd tips for book publicity 

Email digest: Tuesday 28 February 2012

Book News
Penguin Group recalls The Tui New Zealand Vegetable Garden

Go Mrs Wishy Washy!

New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards
Announcing the finalists of the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards

Print your own posters of New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalists

Did y’all notice there are two graphic novels that are New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalists this year?

More New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards resources

Voting has opened for the Children’s Choice Award

NZ Book Month

Here’s the list of booksellers who will accept your $5-off NZ Book Month voucher