Saturday, November 26, 2011

Introducing Ana, the Blood Song cover girl

A few weeks ago I got an email from Zeraphina!

Well, sort of. It was the girl who portrays Zeraphina on the cover of Blood Song. Which you've undoubtedly seen. But here it is again.

I'm still in love with it just as much as when I first saw it. I don't know how Blood Storm is going to top it. At this stage I have no clue as to what the cover of book 2 is going to look like. I am going out on a limb, though, and saying that it's going to be stormy. And dark.

First of all I was stoked that there was actually a REAL GIRL on the cover of my book. I didn't know where she came from, but wondered if it could be an illustration rather than a photograph. Here's the original:

Awesome pose huh? And isn't she beautiful.

This is what Ana had to say about the shot:

I was trying to do some Very Dramatic Sitting With Flouncy Skirt type shots and, thinking I'd got the pose I wanted, hit the remote to start the timer. At some point during the countdown, I tried to move my leg, my heel got caught in the netting under the skirt, I tried to get up so that I could unhook my shoe, lost my balance, and as I was looking over my shoulder to see what I should I aim for when I fell over, I heard the camera click.

Doesn't her neck look just perfect for a vampy book? And the fact that she's looking over her shoulder like there's something behind her? Something scary! The cover captures perfectly a scene towards the end of the book, when Zeraphina is lost in Lharmell and wearing a ball gown. It's a different colour ball gown, but I've never minded as the red is just so gorgeous.

Ana takes these photos herself, and then uploads them to a website where artists use them to create beautiful, haunting artwork. Here's what the artist did with the photo:

I am thinking of ordering a print and framing it. So beautiful.

My cover designer, Astred, then worked her magic on it. A designer friend got the files from Random House to use them to create my launch invitations with, and she told me there are at least four different fonts used in the heading. So much work goes into these things and you don't realise.

Ana's post on receiving her copy of Blood Song is here. She's since told me that she really likes the book. (Phew. Imagine being stuck on the cover of a book you hated.)

Ana posing with the book. Love it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview: Lara Morgan, author of the Rosie Black Chronicles

Today I'm please to have Lara Morgan, fellow writer and author of the fabulous Rosie Black Chronicles, Genesis and Equinox. It's one of the few YA series that's been heavily influenced by sci-fi around at the moment and Genesis is a fantastic read. I can't wait to get stuck into the follow up, Equinox, which has just been released.

For now, I'm pleased to talk to Lara about writing the chronicles, and in particular, how she was inspired by weaponised diseases and how they are used in the books.

The second book in the Rosie Black Chronicles, Equinox, has just been released. How did you feel writing it, compared to Genesis?
You know I hoped it would be easier, because I had the world created and knew the characters well, of course it wasn’t. There’s a certain anxiety that goes with the second book in a series. The worry that it’s going to suffer the dreaded mid trilogy slump and not be exciting enough, so I had to put a lot of effort into making sure I upped the stakes for the characters and kept the plot moving, throwing new people and ideas into the mix to create good plotlines for the book three. Equinox went through a lot more editorial changes than Genesis – and definitely for the better – and I came out of it really happy with the result, but boy there were some tearing hair out moments  

What inspired you include weaponised germs in Genesis, and does they continue into book two? 
You’re talking about the MalX disease of course and yes it is still a big part of book two and will continue on in three. I was inspired to look at that weaponisation of germs because of research I had been doing, and theories I’d been reading about the way diseases may mutate in the future. The raising of sea levels and changes in our weather patterns could see the rise of new strains of diseases we’d thought under control, or the resurgence of disease we had thought extinct. So I thought about how really terrible people, seeking power, might use that to their advantage.

What are some infamous instances of weaponised diseases in real life that inspired you?  
There wasn’t any famous instance that inspired me, but using germs as weapons is nothing new. It’s a kind of biological warfare. Think of the napalm used in Vietnam or anthrax which has been used by terrorists today.

Do you have a science background, and did you do a lot of research when planning this series? 
I don’t have a science background, I’m definitely more an amateur than academic in that field so yes, I did a lot of research. I am very interested in science, and becoming more so as I get older and have amassed a collection of books on physics and mars and global catastrophe. I am also very much into reading some of the science magazines which have fascinating articles on the most recent advances. I don’t always understand all of what I’m reading, but luckily I have a good friend who has a PHD in astrophysics so I can harass him for lots of answers on all things space related. We have a running joke about what a black hole is. He’s probably rolling his eyes right now if he’s reading this.

I read that you consider the Rosie Black books to be dystopian rather than sci-fi. Does Equinox include space travel like Genesis, and what are the dystopian themes in Equinox? 

Equinox takes place on Earth, but there is reference to space related themes. Rosie’s world is very much tied up with outer planet colonisation and space travel so some part of all the books is tied into that. As for the dystopian element, I think that is really reflected in how the world is structured and the unequal distribution of wealth and resources. It’s a very closely monitored world with a lot of surveillance – the idea that ‘Big Brother’ is watching both in the Senate and Helios – and unless you’re wealthy you don’t get much water or food and life is quite a battle. It’s classic dystopian in that way.

How much presence does Helios have in Equinox? 
Well they are the ‘Big Bad’ of the series so they play a large part in Equinox. In this book readers will find out a bit more of what they’re about, what they might want, and meet some of the people inside the corporation. I can’t say too much or risk giving things away, but let’s just say they are definitely not going away anytime soon and Rosie is really going to have to watch her back. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

It are my birthday

Or, it was yesterday. But I was too busy eating cake, picnicking in the Edinburgh Gardens and napping on the couch and recovering from Spice Market, New Guernica and, er, The Peel. (Sometimes you just want to dance to Belinda Carlisle at 3am, you know??) Spice Market was super swish but the patrons looked like they'd escaped from Jersey Shore. New Guernica was, as always, a pleasure.

The Cake. When asked what sort I wanted: "I want a black forest cake. I want is so black and foresty that there should be wolf howls emanating from within. Little Red Riding Hood's granny should warn her away from it."

Challenge accepted, and complete.  

It was made of noms. 

Today I am nomming on Hummingbird cupcakes at work made by lovely workmate. I also celebrated by dropping too much on my credit card at Chadstone on Saturday. Among other things I bought this necklace with black feathers on it and the cat killed it nearly dead when we went out for brekky on Sunday morning. Bad kitty.

Birthday: celebrated. Twenty-seven isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recent Reads: A Monster Calls and Stolen

I have been giving everything five big shiny Goodreads stars lately, and it's not because I'm one of those authors who are terrified of getting up another author's nose with a crappy review. (OK maybe I am.) But it's really because everything I've been reading lately is so frakking AWESOME.

I have been known to bawl finishing books on occasion. I have never done it in public though. I timed finishing Patrick Ness's book so badly that I was on the bus on the way to work as I turned the last pages. First it was just swimmy eyes, then a trickle or two, and then there were tears pouring down my face. Am now "that girl who cries on the bus". This is a magnificent book, and was so worth the subsequent ostracisation. I couldn't say whether it's a book for children or a book about children for adults. I think it's probably the latter. Adults need reminding sometime about how children cope with stress and difficult situations, and A Monster Calls just felt so real, so terrifyingly accurate, in the way it depicts one boy's experience of his mother dying of cancer. Added bonus: the sinister illustrations throughout.

My next love after YA spec fic is crime, and I'm always thrilled to come across some YA with a crime bent. I went to the Inky awards about two weeks ago (congratulations James Moloney for winning the Gold Inky for Silvermay! Well deserved) and saw a dramatisation of the early scenes of last year's winner, Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It piqued my interest, and when I returned home I found I had purchased a copy several months ago and started it right away. AMAZING. It's the story of Gemma, who is drugged and stolen from Bangkok airport on her way to Vietnam with her family, and taken to outback Western Australia. (My old stomping grounds, and I loved the way the setting was described. Reminded me of "home".) The man who takes her is Ty, a 26-ish year old man who just on the potty side of screwy. It's remarkable how sane Christopher has portrayed him while at the same time making the story believable. He's not a rapist, he's not cruel, but he's volatile and oppressive. I love reading books that have me wondering how it will all end, and then getting to the end and thinking OF COURSE, that was the only possible ending it could have had. This was one of those books. Second favourite read this year.

(Ooh it's almost that time again, to put together lists of favourite thises and thatses for the year!)

The simple, fantastic blurb from Stolen:

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him. This is my story. A letter from nowhere.

In other news, HAPPY CATURDAY! It's going to be 30 degrees in Melbourne and we're going to the beach. But now to try and write some words for a ghost anthology (more about that later) and maybe some Blood Queen. (I'm failing miserably at NaNo already *sobs*)

Monday, October 31, 2011

I don't like the rain either, Tiv

(Image via mah brother)

Cup Day BBQ at ours is going to be damp. Very damp.

Me, on Facebook: Little muffin gets chucked out on rainy days otherwise she's mega-bored and cranky by the time we get home. Also she's so much more smoochy and grateful to see us :P
Dad: Many was the time we would have liked to have left you out in the rain until you were smoochy and grateful to see us!!!

Well I never.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Into my arms: me and NaNoWriMo

One morning this week I woke up with the need to hug something. I hugged the cat, which was nice for both of us, but the feeling didn't go away. I was missing something.

Then I realised what it was: I haven't finished a manuscript in nearly a year. Going to Office Works with a flash drive containing a newly minted first draft hasn't been a ritual I've performed on many occasions, but it's a memorable one. There's nothing like taking the warm pages and giving them a hug. It's time to finish a book.

And lo! What month is it about to be but NaNoWriMo. I've always been editing a novel this time of year so it'll be the first time I'll be participating. I'm excited: 1666 words per day, that's entirely doable. I've had this whole damn book planned out in my head for about two years now and I'm dying to meet it face to face. So far its looking rather handsome, the nearly 5000 words I've written. I speak, of course, of Blood Queen, the third and last Book of Lharmell. For a while it seemed pimply and socially awkward, but I think it's straightening out and clearing up along the way.

Yes, everything's coming up Milhouse. BUT WHAT DID I GO AND DO LAST NIGHT? Well, it was raining rather heavily, and our roof leaks in a spot or two. And I left my laptop under one of the spots >.<

The screen started to fizzle alarmingly, so I forced a shut down and it's now sealed in a bag of kitty litter until tonight. There's about 3000 words of Blood Queen that haven't been backed up, but I'm not overly attached to them and bits of it are written out by hand anyway. It's more annoying than disastrous. I wanted to buy tickets to Thailand this week, not a new laptop.

Ah well. Three sleeps until NaNo starts. Are you giving it a go this year?

Note: There was a GIF going round with a guy pressing warm printed pages to his face and it would be perfect for this post. I can't FIND it. Where is it??

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recent Reads: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Fairy Bad Day and The City of Ember

I have come out of my reading slump, and fingers crossed that means I come out of my writing slump. I'm a little bit excited because for the first time in three years I'm not editing during NaNoWriMo, I need to WRITE. That's right, book three of Lharmell, Blood Queen, needs some serious attention. I don't know how successful I'll be as work is about to get loco, I have 10K to write for an anthology and it's my birthday month. I'll be happy with anything between 20,000 to 30,000 words rather than 50,000. We'll see, shall we?

Here's what I've been reading and loving the last two weeks.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Wow. This was written by a MAN? Just astounding. I was warned by my friends not to read this late at night, but I did anyway. I only regretted it once. It's not a horrifying book. The subject matter could have been violent and gratuitous. But it wasn't. For those who haven't come across this book, it's written, in a series of letters to her estranged husband, by the mother of "one of those Columbine kids". The movie has just been released and I wanted to read it before people started talking about it and spoiling the story. My advice is DO THAT NOW, as from what I've heard about the movie it's miscast (except for Tilda Swinton, she seems perfect), the father is portrayed all wrong and Kevin is a B-movie demon-possessed kid. This book is basically 80% internal dialogue and I can't imagine how all the nuance and motivations could be brought across on screen. Highly recommended read. I couldn't put it down.

Let's do a u-turn and talk about Amanda Ashby's Fairy Bad Day. Amanda's one of the most enthusiastic people I know and she did some major encouraging while Blood Song was approaching maturity. Fairy Bad Day is her second YA novel. You might remember the hilarious Zombie Queen of Newbury High from 2009. Fairy Bad Day is just as funny, but goes deeper and darker than her former novel. Emma is a demon slayer at Burtonwood Academy, about to receive her assignment to kill dragons, just like her dead mother. But then it all goes wrong--she's assigned to fairies, and Curtis Green--handsome, irritating Curtis Green--gets dragons. Emma has to convince the principal of his mistake without getting expelled, which is all the harder when a GIANT EVIL UBER-FAIRY that only she can see shows up and starts terrorising the school. Get yourself a few packets of Skittles to chew on while you read this book.

Finally, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. One of the many books I picked up in New York in May that are sitting in a pile by my bed. (Oh TBR, you get no smaller when I celebrate finishing a book by buying three more, do you?) This one reminded me of a cross between The Giver by Lois Lowry and Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder. The writing style is almost childlike, like the narration of a Pixar movie or the like, but that only seems to enhance the dire straits the city is in. They're running out of light bulbs. They're running out of everything, really. And no one knows what to do. Then Lina finds a mysterious set of instructions, and piecing them together might prove to be their way out. A very cute and exciting read, and I recommend it just like the other two. Unlike We Need to Talk About Kevin, I can totally see this as a movie. Has anyone seen it?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Melbourne, or what became the Story of the Riot Police and the Peaceful Protesters

There's been something in the air the last year. The Libyan and Egyptian agitation for regime change. Slut Walk. The Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread to hundreds of countries around the world. People are standing up for what they believe in. Or in this case, sitting in.

I watched the events unfold in City Square in Melbourne yesterday on Twitter, Facebook and the online media from my office at work. Several of my friends were down there, and had been down there on and off for the six days that the Occupy Melbourne camp had existed. Sharing poetry. Looking after security and the camp kitchen. When things began to escalate, I was worried for them.

 I feel the only way to label these photos is "Before riot police arrived ...

An eviction notice was served on the camp at 7am. A heavy police presence arrived. The campers began to be fenced in.

Then the riot police descended. Riot police. A group of hitherto peaceful, well behaved protesters who were chanting and had linked arms to defend their tents warrant riot police? We've seen riots in Melbourne, and this wasn't one.

...and after." (Images from The Age)

I don't consider myself a political person. I want to write. I want the people whose job it is to oversee the country to do their damn jobs. I haven't been down to the Occupy Melbourne camp this week because it's a situation I only tenuously understand. But I believe the government should be reminded at every opportunity that they're here for the people, all the people, not only to grease the wheels in order for businesses to make profits, and they had my support: I am sickened by corporate greed. Bailouts. CEO bonuses that go beyond vulgar and border on vile.

Sometime around the middle of the day, when protesters had been pushed into the street. (Image from Facebook.) From the Age: "Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who was there as an observer, said: 'Police in riot gear just started to push me and once that happened I decided that I would be joining in.' "

I can also see the other side. The protesters said they would leave when they were asked, and they didn't. Some businesses in the square were hurting. But this remained, until the police were involved, a peaceful protest.

Waking up this morning, I was appalled by the images and news stories that greeted me. The crowing by a certain newspaper that a job had been well down. The repeated statement by Doyle and the police that the police were "giving back the square to the citizens of Melbourne".

These are the citizens of Melbourne.

A protest doesn't only belong to those who directly participate in it. It affects everyone who walks by and sees it, who reads about it on the news or sees a picture on Twitter. The protest isn't the point after all. Its job is to be the catalyst for enduring social change. And there is a change in the air.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

F%*& yeah, adulthood

We have a few children staying with us right now and I am reminded not how wonderful it was to be young, but rather how awesome it is to be a grown-up. Vis,

  • No one hides chocolate from you, or tells you when you've had enough. We're squirreling the stuff away like it's contraband in a POW camp. We're also likely to get dive-tackled if one of the little monsters catches us eating some.
  • The cat doesn't look at you like you've just shaved your head and painted a swastika on your t-shirt.
  • You eat what you damn well want to eat in a restaurant. If you don't like it when it arrives, it's the food's fault, not your "mood" or the fact that you didn't get the barbie doll you wanted at K-Mart earlier.
  • People don't talk about you like you're not there when you're actually sitting next to them. Or if they do, everyone else thinks they're dicks.
  • No one tells you what to do unless they're giving you a crapload of money.
  • Your default setting isn't "annoying".
Also, did you know chocolate is all the more sweeter when it's this illicit substance that only you're allowed to have? I mean, I wouldn't eat it in *front* of the little rugrats, but you know. Sweeter. Definitely sweeter.

(Are you there maternal instinct? It's me, Rhiannon. No? We're good for a few more years? Yessssssssss.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The GASP PR disaster and public hissy fits

Does everyone remember The Greek Seaman meltdown earlier in the year, in which author Jaqueline Howett had a very public hissy fit ending in a shrill "get f*&^ed!" that went viral? Good god, if that doesn't teach an author to stay far, FAR away from the comments box at the bottom of review, I don't know what what will.

This cropped up in my Facebook feed today. My mind boggles. A customer with a legitimate complaint about a retail assistant at the Gasp Chapel Street store in Melbourne has received one of the most ridiculously catty, arrogant emails I have ever read. It's partly funny, partly mortifying.


If you live in Australia you've probably heard all about it by now. For my international readers, I've pasted the emails below.
Email by Keara O’Neil to GASP:
I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow. On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different.

The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc. I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying “you should just get it”, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered “Is it the price your worried about”. By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him I’d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering “I think you should just get it”, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, “I already told you I would think about it”, he then replied, “With your figure I really think you should buy it”.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame. I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow. After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out “Have fun finding something at Supre”, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in”. When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.

I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores. I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to him………I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasn’t taken place.

Ring me, don’t ring, not fussed………I’m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.
Keara O'Neil

Response by GASP area manager Matthew Chidgey:
Dear Keara O’Neil,
Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.

From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties.

The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from “clothing for the masses” type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as 'it looks like a dead flamingo'. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.

Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick “run of the mill” type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.

Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.
Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesn’t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong – which I doubt).

Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment “from one retailer to another” is so disproportionate, it’s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.
So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.
Thank you for your enquiry.

Wow. Just wow. There have been several instances in the last few months when I've felt the urge to respond to someone's attitude on Twitter or their Goodreads review, but this reminds me all over again to hold my tongue and be professional.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writing Advice #4: Recombining Ideas

I've been over at the Inside a Dog blog all month posting about books and writing. Today I've put up some wordy goodness about recombining ideas to create plots and to read all about it you'll have to go here.

Beware the dog. He slobbers. Wuff!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blood Storm Book #2 Teaser

Hey y'all, happy Monday! It's an oxymoron, right? But it's a brand new week, and after a very strange and stressful week last week in which I undid all the good my chiro snapped and crackled into my spine, I think we need some looking forward!*

And YE GODS I am looking forward to this! Did you get a second edition copy of Blood Song with the teaser for Blood Storm? There were only 1000 printed so PRAPS NOT. Some lovely person has typed it into Goodreads and I'm going to reproduce it here. It's got one of my favourite quotes from the book.

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue. 

I spoke a single word. ‘Rain.’

In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

Zeraphina's got some new mad skillz, eh? And Rodden, what's up with him and his dark, shadowy crankiness? And this prince Renata's got her eye on ... well, I'll give you a hint. He's no Prince Charming, let me tell YOU.

You can add Blood Storm on Goodreads here. Available August 2012.

*Going on dates the month your book comes out, turns *interesting* idea. And yet I've just agreed to another this week. (What can I say. I have a weakness for handsome French men. Who the hell doesn't.) A different young man, whom I was introduced to at a BBQ last night while another friend was PEGGING ME INTO A BLANKET. True story. (I was cold.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Boo-yah! RHA Children's Top Ten

At the risk of this blog turning into some sort of brag book (oh god it is, it is, but after the agony of waiting for publication and wondering how the book is going to be received I just can't help celebrate these little victories) here's where Blood Song appeared at the end of four weeks of sales:

Too small? Try this one:

In the world of emoticons, to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper, I am colon capital O. This doesn't mean Blood Song is an Australian bestseller, but it's one of the top ten sellers at Random House Australia this week, and  is one of only two Aussie titles on the list. Boo-yah!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blood Song in the Wild

I have been quiet, haven't I? It's been four weeks exactly since Blood Song was released. What a month! It's attracted over 100 ratings on Goodreads and nearly half of them are 5 star reviews. THANK YOU ALL!

There have been some roastings, too, and I've been bracing myself for those. You can't please everyone, right? The upside is that every criticism the book has received has been something I did deliberately that turned out wasn't to a particular reader's taste. It was my intention to make Zeraphina a little bratty--real teenagers are often bratty. I deliberately eshewed complex world building because I find it tedious. It was my worst fear that I would bore my readers, as I loathe being bored. And no one's complained of anything of the sort!

One criticism that I spotted this morning is that Blood Song is somehow "un-Australian". I find that rather amusing! I'm not entirely sure, but I think they mean it's not literary enough, compared to other Australian fantasy novels. If it was my style I'd write like Melina Marchetta or Margo Lanagan, but clearly it's not. Who wants to read a copycat author anyway?

Haters gonna hate and all that. I'm backing off Goodreads a bit, though the following technique has helped a little: reading negative reviews of my favourite books by authors I adore. There's something reassuring about knowing that even the books I and so many others love attract negative reviews.

Two awesome things:

I got my first honest-to-gods fanmail the other day. I think she was using her dad's email account. SO LOVELY. And I hope it's not patronising to say so, ut pretty cute too.

Blood Song is being made available in Large Print and Braille editions, which I think is pretty damn cool!

More soon! Let me know what you think of Blood Song if you've read it this month, or where you've seen it in the wild.

And did I announce it officially? Blood Storm, book two, will be out August next year. Huzzzaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Supernatural Smackdown: VOTE! and Win!

You reckon Zeraphina is pretty badass, right? She's got the mad skills with her bow and arrow and the flair to match. Right now she's up against Kaliel of Evensess in round two of the Supernatural Smackdown and it's NECK AND NECK people! Literally. As I type it's 50-50.

You can vote for Zeraphina to go through to the next round right here.

Plus, you can read a post from Zeraphina about how badass she is, and you can also win a copy of Blood Song while you're there too.

Ready ... FIGHT!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blood Storm announcement and release date

It's here it's here huzzah! The Publisher's Marketplace announcement for Blood Storm, the Second Book of Lharmell, which is my cue to splash the news all over the interwebs.

If you own a second edition copy of Blood Song you already know its official thanks to the teaser for Blood Storm within...but STILL. Delicious officialness!

ANZ rights to Rhiannon Hart's BLOOD STORM, the sequel to BLOOD SONG, again to Zoe Walton at Random House Australia, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown.

I've been keeping my fingers crossed for a release date before next September and it's just scraped through. Blood Storm will be released next August! Exact date TBC. I can't wait to start copyedits.

Pictures from the launch of Blood Song up shortly.

***EDIT: You can already add it on Goodreads.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Awesome Pre-Order News and Recent Reads

Less than two weeks until Blood Song is released in Australia and New Zealand! I got the most exciting news from Zoe Walton, my publisher, this week: pre-orders by bookshops (and I'm assuming online retailers?) have gone so well that they've sold out and are already reprinting! With the bookshop climate the way it is, I find this pretty amazing. Big thanks to all my early reviewers who undoubtedly contributed to this!

I have a stack of guest posts to do for, among others, Inside a Dog and The Nile, so I must keep this short.

But I will say that I read Silvermay by James Moloney last week and it's amazing. Aussie (yay!) fantasy (yay yay!!) and a beautiful world and characters. It reminded me a lot of Fire by Kristen Cashore. Best of all it's the first of a trilogy. There were audible gasps as I was reading--very twisty-turny! Gorgeous cover too. I love all the silvery-purple layers.

And I finished All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield on Tuesday. Which is Aussie (yay!) but contemporary. But it's got a big crime aspect, and AMAZING writing, and I loved every minute of it. I have to say I identified a lot with Mim and her rules. I had similar rules myself growing up, though I didn't live in as down-trodden, drug-filled suburb as she did. Nor did I grow up in a crime family! The best non-spec-fic book I have read this year.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DOLLY Magazine: My first print review

Not only have I been blown away by the amazing reviews I've been receiving around the blogosphere for Blood Song this month, but I was also rendered speechless by my first print review this week, in DOLLY magazine. For those overseas, DOLLY is a magazine for teenage girls, much like Seventeen in the US.

I picked up my copy on Thursday and I was instantly transported back to 1998: DOLLY, waterberry Australis and clinkers. Early high-school staples. I used to love the brightly coloured magazine and I swear to this day that the pages were scented. Did anyone else notice that?

Lucky me, the September issue is the school formal edition. Twelve or so years ago we had the formal editions too! And DOLLY Doctor. And is there still the DOLLY Model Comp these days?

 September edition of DOLLY, which is out now

 The review on the fourth-last page; top right of left side page. Notice what's on the next page? Video games. Nerd girls FTW!

 Close up of the review. More blurb than review, but so good to see it in print!

 Other bookish things in the mag:

Subscribe to DOLLY and win books! (Left) That's pretty awesome, hey? In my day it was apricot scrub or the like.

  The 80s and the 90s. LOL. It's funny to think of the nineties as retro, but 1990 was 20 years ago now. I finished primary school in 1996. Favourite things from the 90s featured here: the Spice Girls, JTT and TLC. Go kids of the 90s!
Oh yes. JTT is Jonathon Taylor Thomas. Of COURSE. 
Other favourite things from the 90s not featured here: Buffy, Friends and The Backstreet Boys.
I remember buying that issue of DOLLY with Pia on the cover. She won the Model Comp at 14 or 15 and caused a bit of a stir.

 A fashion shoot in a book store! How cute is that yellow dress? (Bottom right)

All in all, a pretty awesome feature for Blood Song to appear in. This is definitely a *proud author* moment. That, and making my mother cry last week. (Sorry, mum. Just when you thought you weren't going to!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

International Giveaway News! And How to Order Overseas

I'll be giving away TWO signed copies of Blood Song internationally! Yay! Just as soon as 1000 people have added it to-read on Goodreads. We're not far away now: as I write we're at 914.

You can add Blood Song here.

In other news, only THREE WEEKS until Blood Song is released in Australia! Hot damn. I'm excited!! So many lovely reviews have gone up in the last few weeks.

If you're overseas, you can pre-order Blood Song (with free shipping! yay!) from Fish Pond World.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Alaska, Sue Saliba

With an alcoholic mother, an absent father and a sister thousands of miles away, there's little wonder that Mia enjoys escaping--into daydreams, imaginings. She's about to make her biggest escape of all, leaving school before year 12 is over and moving halfway round the world to be with her sister, Em, in Alaska. Here she meets Ethan, and it's easy to wind her dreams and imaginings around him, and lose herself in the beautiful landscape that is the Alaskan forest.

Alaska is an unusual pick for me. Mia isn't secretly a witch. Ethan is not a ghost. Alaska isn't in the grip of a zombiepocalypse. It's a calm book. A quiet book, like a forest under snow. This doesn't mean Mia is reserved or unemotional, but there's a faraway quality to her. There are no capital letters in Alaska, reinforcing that we must be very quiet it's all under snow shhhh...

Alaska is gorgeously packaged, and has little illustrations throughout. The wintry themes were a perfect accompaniment to the glum Melbourne weather, a reminder that winter isn't always a frigid, gloomy place--not everywhere at least.

I finished this book with a lump in my throat. It might not thunder and crash about like the books I normally read, but it's incredibly sweet and soft. A story about following your heart, wherever it leads.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

WIN an ARC of Blood Song through Goodreads!

The giveaway is now open! Australia only. Click below to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart

Blood Song

by Rhiannon Hart

Giveaway ends August 18, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In YOUR Mailbox

They've started happening. The things that every author anticipates with excitement as well as dread: reviews! Will they like my book? Will they get the humour, the intention? If they don't like it, will I crawl into bed and eat ice-cream with my hands, renouncing Blogger, Twitter and Goodreads forever?

Well, not yet, as so far people have only said wonderful things about Blood Song!


First Holly Harper put her review up on Goodreads after Random House Australia sent Reading's Bookstores a super-early copy during the sell-in period (when publishers send books to store owners/managers to gauge interest in order to estimate the best print run). Holly is children's specialist there, and we met briefly when I bought my copy of Burn Bright from her one rainy Sunday. (We only realised who each other was after I tweeted about it and she said "That was me!!" I really love Twitter for things like that.) You can imagine how ecstatic I was when she posted a rave review:

A while ago I was whinging about the lack of Aussie YA fantasy coming out, and how I really just wanted to sink my teeth into something amazing. Well! The book gods obviously heard my cries and answered with Blood Song, though I think this wonderful gem had less to do with book gods and more to do with superb d├ębut author Rhiannon Hart. 

I sent my three ARCs out to Aussie bloggers when I got back from travels. This week Nomes from Inkcrush and Brodie from Eleusinian Mysteries posted their reviews, and I was similarly blown away by their enthusiasm and praise. And also how quickly they started on their copies, because I know how many books a reviewer has in their TBR at any given time.

From Nomes's review:

Blood Song grabbed me from the start. The thing about this fantasy is Hart writes in such a way that the reading experience was so effortless. Her writing is tight, within pages you have a sense of the world and our heroine. Her world-building is all show (not tell) and Hart masterfully places the reader in the story alongside Zeraphina, letting the world-building evolve as we go along. 

From Brodie's review:

Mystery, danger and Rodden, a man who rivals Zeraphina in all kinds of delicious ways. But can she trust him? What is he hiding? Why does he keep putting a stop to her finding any answers? And why is he such a jerk 90% of the time? (Hush, Zeraphina, don't speak such nonesense of my Rodden!) What awaits the reader is amazing tale that will suck you into it's heart, clutching tighter and tighter as you venture further into Pergamia and the terrors that lurk nearby. I could not read this fast enough, but so very disapointed when I had no more pages to turn! I think Zeraphina may be one of my new favourite heroines.

WOW. I mean, can anything make an author happier than that?

If you're an Aussie blogger and you're interested in a review copy of Blood Song, my publicist still has a few to send out. DM me on Twitter or email me at rhi.hart [at]

You can also read an extract of Blood Song here.

Look out for reviews shortly from Skye at In the Good Books and Braiden from Book Probe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley

I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.

I don’t mean to be difficult, but I can’t bear to tell my story. I can’t relive those memories—the touch of the Dead Hand, the smell of eel, the gulp and swallow of the swamp. How can you possibly think me innocent? Don’t let my face fool you; it tells the worst lies. A girl can have the face of an angel but have a horrid sort of heart.

This is how Chime begins, with the main character, Briony Larkin, asking to be hanged. She carries the responsibility for her family's hardships upon her slight shoulders, believing she killed her stepmother and caused the injury that made her twin sister simple. In her village, witches are hanged, and she believes herself to be one. Why else would all these bad things be happening?

You get the sense, reading Chime, that there's something Not Quite Right about this stepmother, and that Briony herself is innocent of any wrong-doing. What matters, though, is why. Despite the terrible burden she carries, she's a rather chipper young lady, subject to wild bouts of wordsmithery and cleverness. It's quite entertaining to read. Briony states at the beginning she doesn't want to talk about what happened, but gradually, she does. It's a slow uncovering, and Billingsley makes the journey enjoyable by dispersing throughout it historical clues as to the setting and an entirely rompable main character. (Rompable is my new favourite word. I may have made it up myself.)

Mr Rompable is the leonine Eldric, an educated and mischeivious man who boards with the Larkin family. He may or may not love another girl, but he scores the best dialogues with Briony. They have, if I may use a very English word, absolutely ripping conversations.

This book is set, as far as I can tell, in an English village just after the turn of the 19th century. Steam engines are mentioned. But witches are hanged. There are Old Ones in the swamp, like Brownie, a stick-y legged creature, and the Boggy mun. There's no explanation for why this is so. It just is. And there's nothing wrong with that at all.bright and cute, and has very unusual language.

Chime is bright and cute, and has very unusual language. A fun read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unwanted Sniggers and Misconceptions

Has anyone else had this charming experience? When you tell someone you read or write Young Adult Fantasy books, they snigger, their eybrows rise or they give you a "What the?" look? I've had this several times when people ask what sort of books I write. I couldn't work out why at first, but, horror of horrors, they think it means I write erotica for teenagers.

Can you imagine? How seedy would that be. I'm very quick to disabuse them of the notion. I've learnt now to say, "I write books for teenagers" or "Fantasy novels". The funny thing is, everyone knows what Fantasy novels are. They think of dragons or Lord of the Rings. It's when you tack the "Young Adult" on the front that is sounds somehow sordid. (To them. I think it's perfectly obvious what I mean. Apparently not.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: The Stand, Stephen King

This mammoth, 1400 page book has been the most recommended of Stephen King's works since friends and bloggers heard that I hadn't read any of his books. Since then I've read Carrie and adored it, so was really looking forward to lugging The Stand around the globe on my recent holiday. Most was read on beaches in Greece. The latter half did a perfect job distracting me from first a sunscreen allergy and then a horrible bout of tendonitis.

(Update on that: I've had my shoulder injury diagnosed by an awesome sports injury doctor, and it's tendonitis and bursitis. I'm getting an injection of cortisone right into the shoulder at 7 am tomorrow. *Fun*. And then I start physiotherapy on Thursday. I do get to go to bellydance tonight as long as I go easy on it, so that's something.)

The Stand was an engrossing tale that began with apocalyptic themes and transitioned into a supernatural showdown. A highly virulent influenza virus is unleashed upon the United States with biblically catastrophic consequences. As the meagre survivors struggle to come to terms with the aftermath, they begin to have dreams. Dreams of a dark man, and dreams of an old black woman. The former are terrifying; the latter offer solace and hope. Terrifying as they are, through the dreams the dark man begins to gather an army in the west. But the old woman is gathering her own army in the east, and if good is to triumph over evil, the good must travel over the Rockies to confront those who have allied themselves with darkness.

For the first third or so I found myself wondering why King created a cast of supremely unlikeable characters. Like Harold Lauder and Larry Underwood, for instance. I didn't enjoy Underwood's chapters one bit to begin with. Then there are those who ally themselves with the dark man. Like Trashcan Man. I deliberately left some passages unread as they strayed into the sadistic, and while I like my horror I'm also a bit of a sook.

By halfway through I'd developed a real affection for the good guys, and a sense of dread over the bad apples in the mix. Stu Redman and Frannie I adored. Redman seemed watery and insignificant to begin with and I was surprised when King moved him front and centre. Suprised but glad.

I don't think I stopped tearing up or outright crying during the last 400 pages. ***Slight Spoiler*** I bawled when Underwood broke down over leaving Redman, a leg broken, in a ditch with a fatal dose of morphine towards the end. He came full circle as a character and I felt genuine affection for him by the end. ***End Spoiler***

An epic struggle of good versus evil, The Stand is a novel populated by original characters, surprising, beautiful moments and a good helping of slimy darkness.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (Elebenty-sixteen)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

More casualties from the Aussie bookshop cull.This time Readers Feast, my favourite bookstore :(


They do tell me they'll be opening again somewhere else in the CBD.


But probably not in time for me to go visit my book there. Sadface.

Apart from my badly chipped nail polish and a kitty toy, what you can see in this picture is:

Silvermay by James Moloney (recommended by Adele and also an Inkys longlister. It's Australian fantasy, YAY!)
The Wilful Eye, Isobelle Carmody & Nan McNab (Eds; WOO more Aussie fantasy! This time short stories.)
Stolen, Lucy Christopher (Last year's Inkys winner; another Adele rec.)
Alaska, Sue Saliba (Heard about a million awesome things about this book)
The Dead, Charlie Higson (my only non-Aussie purchase--ZOMBIES! Grrr Arrrgh)
Eon, Alison Goodman (AKA The Two Pearls of Wisdom. I like the new title and packaging better.)

The 2011 Inkys longlist is now up on Inside a Dog.

In other news, last night I went to a costume party dressed as Julia from Nineteen Eighty-Four. Note the red sash around the waist, which signifies membership to the Anti-sex League.

Nobody got my costume! Bah. I loved wearing it though.

Currently sitting on my lap is a mopey kitty who got spayed on Tuesday. We tried taking off the cone today but, devil as she is, she went straight for her stitches. Back on went the cone.

Poor Tiv.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review: Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

I need to get started on my holiday reads reviewing because there is a *lot* to get through. So here goes. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I picked this up at Book Blogger Con after hearing good things about it on the Book Smugglers. It's not YA. But it's zombie. And I can't resist all things zombie.

I have been known to whinge about "kissable zombie" books. Zoms are bitey. Zoms are monsters. That's the way they should stay. Well, Marion didn't exactly turn his zombies into dream dates, but he did go a long way towards...humanising them. And I loved the result.

The blurb:

R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.

I came to care for R in a way I never thought would be possible. I was convinced I knew what the ending would be before I was very far into it--I read it in New York and I would say to my friend, shaking my head, this is not going to end well.

But Warm Bodies is as unexpected as it is warm. It follows an unusual trajectory for an apocalyptic novel, one that I've only seen explored once before (in Children of the Dust). I really loved this book.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Out and about in Batmania

Did you hear Justine Larbalestier on Twitter talking about how Melbourne was almost called Batmania? HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE. John Batman founded Melbourne way back when it was a colony.

Last night I ventured out on the town for the first time since coming back from my holiday, for the launch of Dirty Granny Cider at Thousand Pound Bend. With extreme crochet. Just when you thought there was nothing cooler than Batmania!

The cider was pretty awesome too.

I love my city, even when it is frakking cold.

*happy sigh*

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Ultraviolet, R. J. Anderson

I probably shouldn't write a review for a book while I'm still an emotional wreck from just having finished it--but WOW.

First of all, I did not expect to love this one as much as I did when I first started it. The blurb did grab me at the airport in London, but really I needed something to go with Bill Bryson's At Home for the Buy One Get One 50% Off offer (who could pass that up?) This is the blurb:

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Kinda chilling huh? Sounds like an issues book, or a psychological thriller. It certainly started that way. But I was disappointed as I saw the protagonist, Alison, go from a batshit-crazy-freakout in a psych ward straight to remorseful and soggy. If this girl has killed someone, can't she just own it, for at least a while?

But then the story changes. Enter (silence, please, as I say this in revered tones) Sebastian Faraday.

Now, I'm known for liking a book a hell of a lot more if I have a major crush on some tall drink of water within the pages. This is definitely one of those times. Not that the book isn't wonderful in its own right. It's incredibly wonderful. But Anderson may as well have stopped by for a coffee and said, "Oh, by the way, Rhiannon, what do you fancy in the way of male protagonists this week, hmm?"

I'm 26, but don't go thinking this is some weird cougar thing and I've been captivated by a 16-year-old. Sebastian is my age. Well, maybe a few years younger ... whatever. He's tall. Golden haired, with a voice as beautiful as his well-shaped hands. His voice is mellifluous, dear readers. He's patient and quirky and smart. I melted into puddles of warm butter in my physio's waiting room just reading about him.

But there is more to this book than the man candy! There is also some of the most beautiful, unselfconscious writing I have come across. Alison has synesthesia, a condition in which the senses are crossed-wired. Numbers have colours. Sounds are seen. Names are tasted. I saw a Scott Pilgrim scenario in which Alison's world came alive in impossible ways. Amazing descriptions.

This book isn't without flaws, but I forgave them all before I was even a third of a way through the book. I just couldn't help it. It's gorgeous. If I was still sixteen I'd be swooning around the house for a week.

I think I shall anyway.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feeding at the REDGroup carcass

This is what $60 worth of books looks like when the major chains in Australia implode. That fact somewhat sours an otherwise delicious haul.

A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
Paranormalcy, Kiersten White
Before I Die, Jenny Downham,
The Eternal Kiss, Trisha Telep (Ed.)
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, Lauren Kate
Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney
Wolfborn, Sue Bursztynski
Meridian, Amber Kizer
The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks
Foundling, D. M. Cornish
Dreaming of Amelia, Jaclyn Moriarty
Wither, Lauren DeStefano

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In My Suitcase + BLOOD SONG ARC Giveaway!

 I'm home! In one piece...more or less. I had so much fun in Greece that I've given myself a possible rotator cuff injury. Some sort of shoulder thing. I'll know more when I've had an ultrasound this afternoon. Doing what, you ask? Oh, something very sensible and writerly...

 That's me on the right with some girls from the hotel in Agios Nikolaos, Crete. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been. And yep, that's the arm in question.

 The action shot. We didn't fall out, even though the guy driving (driving? is that the word?) the speed boat was trying his best. (He certainly wasn't sailing the speedboat, that's for sure.)

But onto more important things! I did a *lot* of book buying in New York. Most of them I left at my friend's place in Brooklyn until the end of my holiday. I actually ran out of books my third week in the Greek Islands, which led to nearly panic-buy ferry tickets back to Athens. But then I found this bookshop! 

The international bookshop holy grail! Mixed in with all the Cathy Kellys and John Grishams (*shudder*) were some Kathy Reichs and even some decent YAs. I picked up The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting--not just Twilight books! I haven't read any Reichs in years and I love them.

So here are the books I bought in New York, London, Greece, were given to me by my agent, bought in airport bookshops and from Book Depository just before I went away.

Across the Universe, Beth Revis
The Body Finder, Kimberley Derting
Yarn, Jon Armstrong
Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion *
Graceling, Kristen Cashore **
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
Jamaica Inn, Daphne du Maurier
Fade, Lisa McCann
The Summoning, Kelley Armstrong
The Demon King, Cinda Williams Chima
A Brief History of Montmaray, Michelle Cooper
Sandman Slim, Richard Kadrey
Mortal Remains, Kathy Reichs *
Cross Bones, Kathy Reichs *
Fatal Voyage, Kathy Reichs *
The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey
Raised by Wolves, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres *
We, John Dickenson
Fairy Bad Day, Amanda Ashby
City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley **
Z, Michael Thomas Ford
Ultraviolet, R. J. Anderson
Libyrinth, Pearl North
Shade, Jeri Smith-Ready *

* = Read, review coming soon
** = Already read and reviewed, just wanted to own a copy :)

And CONGRATULATIONS Jeri Smith-Ready for winning a Prism Award for Shade this week! I read Shade on my holiday and I just loved it. 

Now the giveaway! I have one signed ARC of Blood Song that I'll be giving away on the blog. I'll post further details later this week, so stay tuned. (Ha, that's cheeky of me isn't it? Promise it won't be long!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's All Greek (Islands) to Me

I have arrived on Crete and it's just beautiful. A far more modern island than any in the Cyclades--the shower is attached to the wall over your head instead of hung like a telephone at hip height! It's remarkably hard to wash your hair with one of those. The sun is vicious but there have been beautiful sea breezes everywhere in the islands.

There are also lots of kittehs!

I have been chasing cats up and down the labyrinthine streets of these Greek Islands. The first was Mykonos which was a crazy party place. There was barely any room to hold a drink, let alone dance, in the club we were in. I think that could be attributed to the impromptu strip-tease that a girl dancing on the bar decided to do. Plenty of cameras came out and I'm sure she's now been uploaded to YouTube. I felt like shouting up to her, "I HOPE YOU'RE GETTING AN EDUCATION YOUNG LADY." The young men around her certainly were. Of her KNICKERS.

The windmills on Mykonos

Next was Naxos, which was where I got some Culture, capital C. I went to hear some traditional music and see some dancing...

...and hung out on Plaka Beach, which was quiet as well as utterly gorgeous. Got through a good thwack of Stephen King's The Stand that day.

A view of the port of Naxos looking down through the ruins of a temple to Apollo

My last day on Naxos I unfortunately broke out in a seething rash all over my body. I'd been slapping sunscreen on three times a day for a week and I'd finally had an allergic reaction to it. Did it ever hurt and YE GODS did it itch. For several hours I was a weepy, itchy mess, waiting for the pharmacies to reopen. Most shops close for the Greek version of a siesta, and I couldn't get get cortisone and antihistamines until 7pm. The pharmacist also told me firmly NO SUN. 

Good lord, I'm in the Greek Islands, how do I avoid the sun?!

I convalesced on Paros, swathing myself in cotton and dutifully observing the no-sun rule (zzzz....a pleasant way to spend the afternoons). I chased moar kittehs ...

...and visited museums. This is the Gorgon, or Medusa, seen here with a snake belt rather than snakes for hair. This was the most striking piece in the Museum of Archaeology at Paros. I was terrified she was about to come alive and bite my head off when I took her picture. AN IMAGE OF AN ANGEL BECOMES AN ANGEL. (A little Doctor Who ref for you there, hehe.)

I was mostly better by Santorini, or should I say SANTORINI!!!! It's a truly beautiful place. I was in a rather dull mood when I arrived, but the sight of the sheer cliffs when the ferry docked were so reviving. The town of Thira is literally perched on the edge of cliff. Me, perched on the edge of the edge!

 It's a cresent shaped island, the middle having repeatedly blown out by a volcano, the last time being around the 17th century BC. I visited the caldera, an islet in the bay, the following day, by boat. AMAZING place. The rock formations are stunning. The boat also moored just off some hot springs and I went for a swim. Probably a mistake, and the sunburn I got on my legs on the boat (can't use sunscreen, remember!) made the rash on my legs flare up like you wouldn't believe.

Which made me rather miserable.

And I also got stood up that night. Which was even more miserable : /

This is a little Rhiannon IRL (In Real Life): I'm travelling alone so the people I meet make a big difference to the experiece I have. The lovely backpackers on Mykonos that I partied with, the lovely locals on Naxos that I went bar-hopping with ... I've never been stood up before, so thank you, G------, for that delightful experience. Here's a little Lily Allen, Fuck You Very Much, just for you.

Being a long way from my friends mean I have to find some way to vent, you know? ;)

I took a sleeping pill (damned itchy rash!!) and woke up with the worst ache in my shoulder for sleeping on it the wrong way. I woke up with it again this morning, on Crete, and actually had a little cry. Mostly it was frustration because I couldn't find my ibuprofen. Paracetamol coming out of my ears, and it's completely useless!

Dear readers, I'm feeling better now. You can't stay cranky when your hotel looks like this.

I'm visiting the Palace at Knossos tomorrow, and then heading to the pretty little port of Agios Nikolas to finish of my time on Crete. Then The Journey Home begins. I don't actually get back to Melbourne til July 2, so I'm definitely taking the scenic route. 

More anon.