AUTHOR CHAT WITH MEGAN JACOBSON!

Hey Guys!

Today I have a very special post, I got to chat to Megan Jacobson author of Yellow and her latest release The Build Up Season, I got to chat about her inspirations to write and also who her influences for her latest protagonist Illiad Piper. Find below Meg’s amazing answers to my questions and I hope you enjoy!

What was the inspiration for The Build-Up Season

I work at the ABC in TV news production so I’m exposed to a lot of confronting things daily, but the Rosie Batty story deeply affected me, and from then on I was hyper aware of the issue of domestic violence. Later, we did a story about how women between the ages of 18-23 were twice as likely as their older peers to experience domestic violence, and this struck me as significant because I’d always thought it was predominantly an issue for older women with kids. This is what spurred me to begin writing the book, because I wanted to show young people how the violence begins.  

In my early 20s I was in a relationship which, looking back, was abusive, though I didn’t realise it at the time because I hadn’t had enough experience to identify what a healthy relationship should look like. Though I was pushed so I fell, and he’d punch the wall next to my head, I didn’t define it as abuse because he never actually punched me. Punching was the only domestic violence narrative I’d ever heard. While developing The Build-Up Season I spoke to several friends about their early relationships, and I was struck by how many of them had been in unhealthy relationships as well, without realising it at the time. It’s not as black as white as the Hollywood depictions of domestic violence, and the people who stay don’t always stay out of fear, often, they stay because they love their partner, and most of the time the perpetrators aren’t always violent, they can be sweet and kind as well. Also, we’re raised on a diet of Twilight-esque depictions of insta-love and codependent relationships. We’re taught that it’s romantic if the guy gets angry when you talk to other people. I wanted to play into those tropes, then flip them on their heads and tell young women – nope – not romantic – not cool. Troy is the extreme conclusion to abusive behaviours, but I wanted to mostly show young people what the early warning signs are, the ones that ‘build up’ to violence, and what to look out for.  

How long did it take you to write The Build-Up Season 

The first draft took me about nine months, written predominantly in two month-long bursts overseas, but the editing process took me over a year, with major structural upheavals. I was editing it until the day before it went to print! 

Did you have any particular influences for Illiad Piper? 

Yes – I was obsessed with the video clips of Lorde while I was writing. I’d watch ‘Royals’ and ‘Tennis Court’ on repeat and I loved the way Lorde came across as so fierce and defiant and simultaneously so vulnerable. I really wanted to channel those emotions when I wrote, so whenever I was stuck I’d watch those two video clips and try to write with the same vibe.  

I was also influenced by one of my all-time favourite characters, Rick Blaine from the movie ‘Casablanca’. I love how complex he is – how he’s seemingly unfeeling, wearing a tough exterior to hide the hurt inside. I love how he tells the world repeatedly ‘I stick my neck out for nobody’ and yet, you see through his actions, again and again he totally sticks his neck out for others in multiple situations. I wanted Ily to be like that.  

Was it different to write The Build-Up Season, than it was to write Yellow? If so, how? 

It was a little bit – Yellow was the first book I’d ever written, so I was second guessing myself the whole time, wondering whether I could actually write a whole book, and if so, if anyone would ever want to read it. With The Build-Up Season I had a bit more confidence – whenever I was stuck and didn’t think I could finish, I remembered I had finished one before, so that helped me keep on going. Also, Kirra’s so shy, so writing her was sort of like seeing a small girl in the shadows, and I sort of knew she wanted me to follow. It was a bit tip-toe and dream-like. Ily on the other hand ran up to me and grabbed me tight and stuck her tongue out and skipped forward and pulled me along like I had no say. I actually had another story I was going to write, but Ily wouldn’t let me. She’s pretty headstrong.  

What inspired the lifestyle of Illiad and her family?  

I grew up in Darwin, so I wanted to set it there, and my childhood friend had a beautiful property in the rural area that I roughly drew upon to use as the setting for Ily’s home. I’m actually a yoga-loving vegetarian who was incredibly into crystals and tarot when I was a teen, so I drew heavily on that while writing Eve. I’m basically mocking myself a lot when writing her. The dishes that Ily hates so much are actually my favourite! Also there’s a big wellness community where I was writing in Ubud, and I’d go along to yoga and meditation classes. While a lot of those new age teachings have real, proven benefits, there’s a few that are scientifically and ethically dubious. I was really interested in why people are drawn to unconventional teachings, and through that I wanted to explore the different methods people use to heal or draw strength from.  

Huge thanks to Megan for answering my questions for today’s post, also to Penguin for organising this blog tour! I will link all the other blog tour days as they are posted if you would like to check out any of the others posts too!

THE BUILD UP SEASON REVIEW HERE: https://molliethereader.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/the-build-up-season-review/

FIND MEG HERE: https://meganjacobson.com/

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INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLE TOZER

Hey Guys!
Today I bring you a special author interview with the amazing Gabrielle Tozer! Her book is out today which is called Remind Me How This Ends and you can pick it up at any place that sells good books (links to buy at the bottom of the interview). I hope you enjoy Gab’s answers as much as I did!

SERIOUS QUESTIONS:

What inspired you to write Remind Me How This Ends?
So many things: feeling lost and stuck in limbo, the blurry line between friendship and something more (and how we don’t always say what we feel to the people we care for most), the ongoing nature of grief (especially when you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye), and life in rural and regional Australia.

Did you use any of yourself or anyone you know as an inspiration for any of the characters in Remind Me How This Ends?
Absolutely. Like all my characters, Milo and Layla are a part of me – just like Josie Browning was in The Intern and Faking It. It was a tough book to write because it was tapping into weird, wobbly feelings for people I probably shouldn’t have had weird, wobbly feelings for – nothing like a bit of unrequited love to kick-start the creativity, right? Milo wasn’t based on one particular guy that got away – but his interactions with Layla are absolutely grounded in real emotions that I’ve felt before. That’s why it was such a tough book to write… it brought all of those emotions flooding back to the surface!
Have you got something new and exciting coming out after Remind Me How This Ends? Any hints on it if yes?
I sure do! I have a 10,000-word contemporary YA short story called ‘The Feeling From Over Here’ in HarperCollins’ Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. The premise? Two teens reunite on an overnight coach from Canberra to Melbourne and are forced to deal with a painful incident from their past.
My first picture book, Peas and Quiet, is out this year too! It follows two peas, Pip and Pop, who live in a teeny-tiny peapod in the vegie patch behind the garden gnome and they just can’t get along. It’s wacky, outrageous and pretty damn sweet – I can’t wait to share it! Sue deGennaro’s illustrations are simply stunning. I’m also tinkering with a middle-grade novel and am brainstorming a new YA contemporary so watch this space…

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What’s the main message you want readers to get from Remind Me How This Ends?
That it’s alright if you haven’t got everything figured out yet. Just keep going. You’re doing your best.

Who is a writer that inspires you most to be the amazing author you are?
Authors like John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, Morris Gleitzman, Paul Jennings and Margaret Clarke inspired me to read books, which then inspired me to write books. Their books are a mixture of warm, quirky, dramatic and full of heart, and they make me laugh and cry and scared and feel things (so many things).

What tips do you have for aspiring authors?
Break down the writing process into manageable and specific steps so it’s not too overwhelming. So, tell yourself, “I am going to write this specific scene today” or “I’m going to play around with some ideas for half an hour” rather than, “OH MY GOD, I NEED TO WRITE MY BOOK TODAY”. (Can you tell I’ve learnt things the hard way?) Also, don’t get carried away with fantasies of book signings and world tours and J.K Rowling fame – focus on your writing and aim to tell the best story you can. The rest of it is beyond your control for now. Last but not least – and this is very important – once your first draft is finished, put it aside for a few months. When you come back to it, bring a red pen and edit it like you’re editing your worst enemy’s manuscript. Writing is rewriting, so the first draft is just that: a first draft. It took me multiple rewrites, self-editing and professional editing sessions to nail downRemind Me How This Ends.

FUN QUESTION ROUND:

Guy crush?
Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling, Riz Ahmed, Jon Hamm, Ryan Reynolds and… I could keep going but I refuse to answer anymore on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.

Fave book?
This question is too hard! (I tried to narrow it down but felt guilty about leaving so many other favourites off the list.) I’ll say this, even though it’s technically cheating: I adore the original Harry Potter series and always will.

A place you REALLY wanna visit?
All the places. The Amalfi Coast in Italy. The Maldives. Mexico. The Whitsundays. Vietnam. But right now, I REALLY want to visit my family and friends in Wagga, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Newcastle and New York. We’re too spread out and I don’t get to see them enough. (Oops, I’m cheating again. Sorry)

Last book you read?
I just finished re-reading Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and I am halfway through Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Catherine Deveny’s Use Your Words. My TBR pile is about to topple off my bedside table, but I can’t wait to crack into Nicole Hayes’ A Shadow’s Breath and Angie Thomas’The Hate U Give. (Still cheating. Still sorry.)

If you could be an animal, which one would you be?
Being someone’s spoiled pet Labrador would be pretty nice – those gorgeous pooches seem happy all the time! Why wouldn’t you be? You get lots of pats, naps, treats, trips to the park and playtime with other dogs. Sign me up.

MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:
PINEAPPLE ON PIZZA: YES OR NO??
Hawaiian pizza is my favourite so… YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

FIND GAB HERE:
Author | Freelance editor, journalist + copywriter

THE INTERN and FAKING IT are out now via HarperCollins
REMIND ME HOW THIS ENDS and PEAS AND QUIET out 2017
gabrielletozer.com
Instagram and Twitter: @gabrielletozer @gabrielletozer
Facebook and Tumblr: hellogabrielletozer hellogabrielletozer

BUY REMIND ME HOW THIS ENDS:
http://www.booktopia.com.au/remind-me-how-this-ends-gabrielle-tozer/prod9781460751688.html (AUS)
https://www.bookdepository.com/Remind-Me-How-This-Ends-Gabrielle-Tozer/9781460751688 (INTERNATIONAL)

READ MY REVIEW HERE:
https://molliethereader.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/remind-me-how-this-ends-book-review/

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INTERVIEW WITH JANE ABBOTT

Hey Guys! Today I have a very exciting post to share with you guys, I got the chance to interview the lovely Jane Abbott, who is the author of Elegy which has just released with Penguin Random House!

What inspired you to write Elegy, and how did you come up with the plot?

I wanted to write a story about love, in all its forms. For centuries, maybe longer, people have been uplifted by stories of love and courage, whether they’re well-known legends, plays, poems or sagas. And, in so many cases, those stories have been taken from something before it, adapted and retold. I thought it would be fun to explore that idea: the stories that so move us are simply reincarnations of one original story; of a couple fated to live, and to love, over and over again. I’m not a plotter, so it was a case of introducing each character and seeing what happened, and why. The only thing I was sure about was how it had to end, and I actually wrote the beginning, then the ending, before going back to fill in the rest. It made perfect sense that the characters would be young, because there is such vibrancy and passion in young love, as there is in young hate; a passion that sadly ebbs, or at least quietens, as you get older.

Who are some people that you find inspiring in life, and what aspects do you most admire about them?

My mother, who raised four kids single-handedly at a time when divorce was not as common as it is now; various friends who haven’t experienced the relative good fortune that I have, yet who manage to get more out of a single day than I ever will. Carers, Lollipop men and women, teachers, nurses, all of them looking out for others. They’re the ones who inspire me because, for the most part, they do what they do without expectation of praise or reward. The unsung heroes, whose stories are rarely known.

If you were to cast the characters in Elegy for a movie, who would you cast and why?

Ooh, that’s a good one! If they weren’t all grown up and so damned famous, I think the Hemsworth boys would have been perfect. Can you picture Chris Hemsworth as Gabe? I sure can! But for the rest, I just don’t know. It’s not something I’ve ever really considered. Perhaps it’s a question others can answer better than I can.

Where do you write your novels? Are you the kind that listens to music while you write or do you have anything that you always do each time you write?

I wrote Elegy and Watershed in the same year (2013) in a lovely studio over my garage. We’ve since moved, so I’m looking forward to finding a new hideaway. When everything’s going well, and the ideas and the words are flowing, I tend to get up very early (about 4am) and write until breakfast, then again until about 4pm. I never write at night, and I never have any kind of music playing, or other distractions like social media, while I’m working. Then the next morning, I’ll spend an hour editing the previous day’s work before beginning the next bit. It’s a routine that’s worked well so far and, though I’m taking a break for the moment, one I’m looking forward to re-establishing.

What tips would you give to those that want to become an author but don’t know where to start?

Look around. There are thousands of stories out there just waiting to be told, but not all are easy to tell. Think outside the square, and once you have even a kernel of an idea (it doesn’t have to be the whole story, or anything close to it) start getting it down. And don’t stop until the idea stops. I was 48 when I wrote Elegy. There is no time limit on creativity.

How long did it take for you to write Elegy and was it an easy book to complete?

The first draft of Elegy took me eight weeks to write. I think it was about 90,000 words, and even though the first third and the last haven’t changed all that much since, the rest was a bit of a mess. I’d written it in first person – 5 different voices – and in one draft (the third, I think) I changed the whole thing to present tense. There was a lot of experimentation, and I relied on the patience of a few good people to read successive drafts and not unfriend me. In many ways it was an incredibly easy book to write because it deals with so many things I love – mythology and fantasy – and the setting was a joy to write because I could draw from experience. In other ways, it was very hard to find the balance between the characters and work out the best way for them to tell their stories.

What is your favorite book that you have read this year and why?

I really loved Skylarking, by Kate Mildenhall, and I’m not usually a reader of historical fiction. But it’s so beautifully written, and the descriptive language is superb, so I’d have to say that it’s been my favourite so far. But I’ve just started Nutshell, by Ian McEwan, and though I’m not far into it it’ll probably go to the top of my list. Simply amazing!

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BUY ELEGY HERE: https://penguin.com.au/books/elegy-9780143781592

INTERVIEW WITH E. R. MURRAY

HEYYYY GUYS!
Today I have a super cool blog post for you, today I bring you an interview with the lovely author of Caramel Hearts, E. R. Murray! I had the pleasure of reading her book late last month and was so happy to say I loved it, its a must read for those that adore cooking and even if you don’t (like me) it will make you want to cook! So here are some questions that I asked Elizabeth and here are her awesome answers!

A book you wish you wrote?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I love everything about it. The characters, the storyline(s), the mythology – it has such perfect pace and plot, I can’t fault it.

Your ideal place to write/read?

I have a writing room at home (I don’t call it an office as that sounds too work-like) and that’s my little sanctuary when I’m there. It’s painted sky blue to counteract the frequently grey Irish skies, and it has a few paintings and all my notebooks. It’s a place that I can walk into and immediately switch to writing mode. However, I don’t like routine – I find it makes me lethargic – so I also like to write on trains, in cafes (in busy cities only – not my village as you can’t be anonymous) and when I travel. In fact, I regularly position myself in new places to write – I find it gives me energy. I was in Carcassone last year, Cambodia the year before that, this year I’m off to Bangkok. I find being around different sights and sounds helps me switch off from regular life and immerse myself in my books. I also go to the wonderful Tyrone Guthrie Centre for creative practitioners twice a year to recharge.

Hobbies other than writing/reading?

Travel is my main hobby – as much as possible! – but I also love being outdoors; hiking, growing my own vegetables and catching my own fish. We have a small punt and catch mackerel and pollock during the summer and autumn months. I only garden in the spring and summer as I get too cold in winter – I did try, but failed. I also love film, theatre, and art; anything visual helps me switch off as I’m always working with words. Live music is another biggie – luckily I’m married to a musician/singer-songwriter, so I get lots of that. As a creative person, you need to get creative input, as well as output – it’s nurturing.

Inspiration for Caramel Hearts?

This book is loosely based on my own experiences; I grew up in a family affected by addiction and I wanted to explore that a little. The events and characters are fictional, but the emotions are autobiographical; I drew on memories to make the characters and situations as real as I could. This was very important to me; I wanted Caramel Hearts to resonate with anyone experiencing the effects of addiction.

In addition, I wanted to write something around food and play with form a little; the recipe book idea came quite early on but I didn’t realise how prominent the recipes were going to be until I got to know the main character, Liv, a little more. A timely visit to the National Library of Ireland also helped; they invited me to see some old cookbooks from the 1600s, with magical ingredients like ‘frosted plums picked by moonlight’ – they had such a strong voice, they stayed with me. And I realised that the recipes had to be part of the story; they had to reflect the events and emotions the characters were experiencing. This is why the recipes ended up structuring the narrative.

Favourite recipe to cook?

I actually prefer savoury food, and I love spice – so curries and Thai dishes are what I love to cook. I also adore Japanese food – sushi and cooked dishes, like ramen. There’s an alchemy to mixing spices and herbs to get a distinct flavour – and I think Thai, Japanese and Indian food does this to perfection. So if you came to me for dinner you’d probably get a starter of sushi (with ginger & soy), followed by spicy beef salad, pad thai noodles, and some Indian bahjis as sides. With lots of condiments – I love thai fish sauce, but also raita!

What was it like to write about family issues?

In some ways it felt very personal and scary, because I was drawing on emotions and memories I’d hidden away, but in other ways it was refreshing; I could look at the effects of addiction from another person’s perspective. I guess it was quite cathartic. The biggest compliment is when someone who has experienced similar events as those in the book emails me to tell me they feel less lonely, that Caramel Hearts touched them. It was a bit scary

What makes you want to write contemporary?

This was the story that I had to tell; the character, Liv, was hassling me and I had visual images running through my head of different scenes – that’s how my next project calls me. It was also written after I’d finished the first book in my middle grade trilogy, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 – and sent it on submission. I wanted to write something different, a story that wasn’t urban fantasy. When I start a story, I don’t think about the genre or the readership age; I write the story first and then the characters and plot dictate the rest.

How did you get yourself into the mindset of a character who had to go through so much emotional trauma?

Mainly drawing on my own experiences, or people I know, but I do read a lot of fiction also, so I’m always living inside other people’s heads in a way. I also believe that travel opens up your eyes to how other people live and think too. I did do some online research but to be honest, I fund it too disturbing – there were streams of bullying video links coming up in my google searches that I couldn’t bear to watch. I would feel as bad as the perpetrator and the person videoing – but it shows what a massive problem we have with bullying.

To learn more about E.R. Murray visit her website www.ermurray.com or connect with her on twitter@ERMurray or instagram elizabethrosemurray.

BUY BOOK HERE: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/young-adult-fiction/Caramel-Hearts-Elizabeth-Murray-9781846883927

AUTHOR CHAT ~ Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

I was lucky enough to be able to interview the lovely and sweet authors of Branded, Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki!

Here’s how the interview went,

How did you guys first meet each other?

We met back in 1999 during college orientation.

What inspired you guys to start writing Branded?

We would meet every month and talk about books that we were reading. But, there was always something about the book that we always said we would have done differently. And we always agreed on what it was. So joking around we said the only way we would ever be 100% happy with a book, would be if we wrote it.

What are some tips you would give to others wanting to write their own book someday?

Write for yourself; write what you love and not what you think others would love. Take your time and let your imagination run wild. The first draft doesn’t have to sound or look pretty, just get the story out. When you go back again to start the next draft, then you can start to work on the details and things. But pressure will kill your imagination. So write for FUN!

What other hobbies do you guys have other than writing?

We read obviously when we can find the time. We are both mothers to young children so obviously that takes up a lot of our time. We both love weightlifting, hiking, and target shooting.

If you had to pick the actress and actor that got to play Lexi and Cole in a movie who would you cast?

This is a tough one. Because we would almost want to have an unknown or an up and coming actor and actress, because we think that would be neat to give them a chance like our agent and publisher did for us. But being in our 30’s, Josh Hartnett is always who we pictured as Cole. Lexi, could go so many ways.

How long did it take you roughly to write your book?

The first draft of Branded about 3 months.

Do you have a special place that you like to sit and write at?

Abi- I sit in my bedroom in my recliner.

Missy- I like to sit in my bed with the windows open for natural light.

Who are your role models?

For Abi- my father.

Missy- I’d say both of my moms and especially my Dad. My first/biological Mom was a strong, smart, person who was full of laughter. She passed away too young. My step-mom (although I don’t like to call her that) took us on, even though she was really young when she married my dad. I talk to her every day, she’s my best friend now. And my Dad, who has been through so much in his life, is my hero. He is my rock.

Here are some quick answer questions, where you can say the first thing that comes to mind:

Favorite Book?

Abi- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Twilight, Eclipse, Outlander.

Missy- This one is tough. I read a lot of different genres outside of young adult so I’ll try to narrow it down. How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer, The Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin, Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire, The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer, The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi, and Blood and Vengeance by Chuck Sudetic. 

Favorite Movie

Abi- The Hunger Games, Catching fire, Twilight, Titanic.

Missy- Transformers

Favorite Singer/Band?

Abi- Skillet and Ellie Goulding

Missy- Linkin Park, Third Eye Blind, right now I’m loving Coldplay’s newest album, and Skillet.

Dream place to visit?

Abi- St. John United States Virgin Islands (LOVE IT THERE)

Missy- I love Germany- the food and the people. I think the place I most want to visit now is Montana. I want to see big sky country and go for a run there. ☺

Favorite Food?

Abi- Italian food, coffee and eggs lol.

Missy- sushi. I could eat it every day.

Celeb Crush?

Abi- Sam Heughan at the moment.

Missy- I don’t celeb crush too much, but I do love Sam Heughan as well. I’ve always really liked Josh Hartnett & Eric Bana too. 

That concludes the interview! it was an honor to interview Abi and Missy, they are such lovely and inspiring people and I recommend you check out their book Branded now!!