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

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


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 and I’ll send it to you ahead of time.

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