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*)