Sunday, 25 January 2015

Jodie Wells-Slowgrove and the Wilderness Fairies series

 Today I welcome Jodie Wells-Slowgrove and her Wilderness Fairies to Promote Me Please. I was lucky enough to share a studio with Jodie during the Book an Adventure Children's Literature Festival on Bruny Island. It was great fun:-)

Jodie is the author of the Wilderness Fairies series, a set of six books that combine adventure, magic, beguiling characters and a well-realised setting with a subtle environmental message. I asked Jodie five questions and here's what she had to say.

1.      Were you always intrigued with fairies, or was this a marketing decision to write a fairy series?

Writing a fairy series was most definitely a love decision, not a marketing one. I've always been fascinated with the mythology of European fairies and faerie folk and wanted to believe that a little bit of that magic could be also be a part of the land where I grew up. I figured that if fairies did exist they must surely be found in all parts of the world and I wanted to create something for Aussie kids to help them feel the magic that I always feel when out in the Australian bush.

2.     Six books is a great number for a series. Was Daisy’s story arc planned from the start?

Originally, I only planned one story for Daisy. It was my agent who encouraged me to write a sequel and think about ideas for more stories after that. While those original  ideas may have led to getting a contract for the Daisy books many of them did not end up getting used. Some really interesting discussions with my editor at Penguin during the early days of planning the series led to the idea of Daisy searching for her Calling in life. Once this became the overall story arc of the series new story ideas flowed naturally from there. 

3.     Tell us about THAT CHITTER!

Daisy's best friend Vu was not in the original draft of the story which had Daisy spending much of her quest alone. When my editor suggested that Daisy have a companion I didn't want it to be another fairy. It was much more appealing to me for her to have an animal friend. I researched small mammals and birds but none of them were small enough for my purposes so I started researching insects. When I discovered a very rare beetle living just across the river from where I had set the stories, the exact size to fit in the palm of Daisy's hand, I knew I had found the perfect companion. 

For this character to work and be a well-rounded character and helpful participant in Daisy's adventures they needed to be able to communicate. For the sake of realism I didn't want Vu or the other animals in the series to actually speak Daisy's language. I wanted them to make their own animal sounds that Daisy could understand and for Daisy to speak in her own language and have them understand her too. As Vu was a very special character I wanted him to have his own unique sound that wouldn't be associated with any other creature. Chitter, for me, seemed like the perfect word.

4.     How did you come to choose Daisy’s name? What other names are in the series?

Daisy's name was also something that changed very early in the planning as did many of the other main characters. In early drafts she had been called Lily but the more feisty and adventurous she became the less that name seemed to suit her. I researched flowers found in the area where the story was set and came across these yellow paper daisies. They were bold, bright and hardy and so much more representative of the character I was creating. 

From that point on all the characters were named either for plants or animals that are found in that type of forest or to match their Calling or personalities. Daisy's sister Maggie is a singer so was named after the magpie. Her mother Nen is a tribute to my own mother. Her real name is Anne which was my mother's middle name and also conveniently can be found in 'Flannel Flower'. The character of Grevillea who was the first real antagonist of the series was given her name because not only do grevilleas have spiky leaves but their name also includes the word 'evil'. Choosing names was one of the most fun parts of writing the Daisy books, especially for the ones who were written for some of my family and friends who asked to be characters in the series.

5.     How long, in fictional terms, does Daisy’s story last? 

Each of the stories in the Wilderness Fairies series take place over a relatively short period of time, usually just a few days. They are sequential with some books picking up the story the day after the last book ended, some a few weeks and one a few months. Overall the series chronicles the major events during approximately nine months of Daisy's life.

and Twitter @jwellsslowgrove

Thanks, Jodie! By the way, I wrote a review of the first book in the series. You can read that here.

Verity Croker and May Day Mine

Today I welcome Verity Croker to Promote Me Please. Verity, another of the authors I was delighted to meet at the Book an Adventure Children's Literature Festival on Bruny Island, is a fellow Tasmanian. She agreed to answer five curious questions about her new book, May Day Mine.

    1.   Would you tell us a bit about your new book, May Day Mine?

     May Day Mine is set in a mining town and tells the story of how an ordinary family reacts to the unfolding drama as five men are trapped underground due to a mine collapse. Fifteen-year-old Jodi reacts by experimenting with different relationships and her younger brother Jake reacts by getting involved with schoolyard bullies. Their parents experience relationship difficulties due to all the stress and learn to deal with their own past.

    2.   For a reader knowing nothing about the story, the title suggests all sorts of things from a Queen o’ the May romance to a mining disaster story. To what does it refer?

    Both May Day and Mine have double meanings in my story: May Day is the day of the mine collapse but also signals a cry for help, and Mine means both the mine itself and mine as in 'please be mine' or 'he's mine'.

     3. Is your main character, Jodi, based on a real person (or people) you have known?

       Jodi is a totally fictional character; she just presented herself to me and started talking. I'm so pleased with the cover, as the girl looks just how I imagine her to look.

      4. How does Jodi’s problem (no need to be specific) impact on her younger brother?

       Jodi and Jake have the same problem in terms of how to deal with all the tension in the town due to the mine collapse. As mentioned above, Jake joins a gang of bullies who engage in increasingly dangerous antics.

       5  What, if any, truth or idea would you want or expect readers to take from May Day Mine?

    I hope readers would take away the idea of accepting people for who they really are.

      Thanks, Verity!
      You can find out more, or purchase a copy of May Day Mine at 
      (the publisher)

                or visit Verity at
        ABC radio interview with Verity here

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lindsey Little

Lindsey Little

Today I welcome Lindsey Little to Promote Me Please. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Lindsey at the Book an Adventure Children's Literature Festival and was delighted to discover a new (to me) fantasy author in my home state.

1. James Munkers: Super Freak is a catchy title. Did you come up with it yourself, or did your publisher have input?

I actually think it’s a bit of a mouthful. I’ve tripped over the words more than once, which is a bit embarrassing when you’re talking about your own book. And, yes, the publishers had some input. It used to be called “James Munkers: Earth Guardian”, but they said it sounded a bit environmental. Nothing wrong with environmentally-themed books, of course, but that’s not what James is about, so I came up with “Super Freak” – a bit more fantasy-adventure with that touch of self-deprecation that my character has. It seemed to suit it better. In any case, they let me keep it.

2. Is James based on a real person?

James isn’t based on a real person, no. I’m not sure where he came from. He just popped into my head and wouldn’t shut up. Some of the other characters are real people, though. The twins, Pippa and Kit, are based on my own twin sister, Lauren. (I was too busy being the author to be one of them, so Lauren had to be both. She doesn’t seem to mind.) Also, I met one of the other characters in real life after I wrote him, which was a bit bizarre. He was my supervisor in England while I was doing my Masters degree, and I kept thinking, “Who are you? I’ve met you before.” Then one day in the middle of the supermarket I blurted out, “Oh my gosh, he’s Mr Lancer!” So there you go.

3. Tell us how you made the book trailer.

Oh, the book trailer was fun! A local graphic design business called Mark & Tom did it for me. I saw some of their work – advertisements and shorts for local businesses and ventures – and asked them whether they were interested in doing a book trailer for me. They’d never done one before, but were really excited about the notion, and immediately came up with all these cool ideas about what they could do. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They read the book, and we had several meetings in the sunshine over good coffee, talking about styles and pacing and themes. I wrote a voice-over, and they began working on the animation. It was really exciting seeing it all come together – the images, the sound. I was blown away when I heard the young man they hired to do the voice-over. It was James! I couldn’t believe it. There was much jumping up and down when the final cut came through, let me tell you.

4. What themes did you use in writing your book?

Um, glowing blue ferrets. Is that a theme?
To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about themes at all when I first wrote James. A few emerged during the rewrites, I guess, the most prominent one being the importance of believing in yourself, even when no one else does, and the fact that people are more capable of achieving great things than they realise. Teenagers (and adults too) often put on a show of bravado, coming across as fearless, when actually, most of the time, we’re all terrified. We’re scared of failing, of looking foolish, of being exposed as frauds. I think if we could only put that fear aside we’d get a lot more done. The nice thing about writing fantasy books is that, once your characters find their courage, the things they achieve can be really spectacular.

5. Have you had much feedback from readers?

Most of the feedback I’ve received has been, “When is the next book coming out?’ which is very flattering. One of the most exciting moments for me, though, was when a young boy I’ve never met before took the trouble to write a two-page report on it. He actually thought it was important enough to put in that effort. He didn’t pull any punches, either – in fact, he tore it to pieces. It was great! He was obviously a very critical reader, with a fine grasp of story arc, character development and genre conventions. If that young man doesn’t become an editor, the literary world will suffer..

Thanks, Lindsey! 
To find out more, visit the James Munkers website.

Almney King and The Valley of Anchor


Today I welcome author Almney King to Promote Me Please to talk about her book, The Valley of Anchor.

Please tell us something about your book The Valley of Anchor.

  The main theme of “The Valley of Anchor” is the human condition. It’s about finding hope and inner strength and sharing those experiences with others. The poems are both a collaboration of my personal experiences and my imagination. With some of my poems, the storyteller in me definitely shines through. With others, the poems happen to be an emotional response to a lot of trials I witnessed those around me struggle with. “The Valley of Anchor” is my way to fight against the many societal and global issues in the world. Writing is not only an art to me, it’s a sword, and a guide, and a form of meditation. The world needs hope, passion, and wisdom, and I can only hope be a light for those you wish to be a light for others as well.
2. That's an intriguing title. How did you come up with it?

The Valley of Anchor is the lead poem in the book. It is a play on the word “Achor” found in the bible. The valley of achor actually comes in physical form and as a metaphor in the bible. Achor is a reference to the sin of Achan who defied God just before Joshua led the Israelites to battle and were defeated because of his sin. Achor means “great trouble.” However, the hope of the Israelites was not defeated although they faced death and destruction in that valley. So when I used the word anchor as a substitute for achor, I saw the anchor as a force that can either drown and kill, or act as a test to endure in faith and strength through troubled times.

3.     As a poet as well as an author, do you find your poetic skills helpful when writing fiction?

“All Light Will Fall” is definitely influenced by my passion for poetry. It has its own unique philosophical roots and poetic heart. I can never forget poetry with I write creatively. I find that it is the best way for me to communicate emotionally with both my characters and my readers. Poetry is a part of me and now seems to follow me where I go.

4.     What kind of person is your ideal reader?

I’m not quite sure actually. I welcome all readers with all thoughts and opinions. But I do say, that they must have an open mind, a need for imagination, and a heart hungry to learn. A person can never be too wise, or old, or uneducated. There’s nothing to look for or analyze with my writing. I only want my readers to feel, to take in what they can understand, and enjoy.

5. Do you find you have any themes that repeat across your work? 

Many themes repeat across my work. I find myself fascinated and somewhat even fixated on certain themes, like the philosophies of life and death, the search for the soul, human purpose, the balance of the spirit and the unseen nexus between us people and everything else that lives. I like to dig deep into these ideas. There’s something powerful, yet fragile and beautiful I discover there the more I dig. Sometimes digging can be quite scary, but the thrill of it keeps me exploring. I think I repeat these themes so often because there are still things for me to find, something monumental for me to uncover before I can finally leave. I know more often than not, I’m hardly understood, but I’m not greedy. Even if I can only reach one heart, that itself is enough for me. Thank you.

Thank you Almney!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Marion Lucy and The Giant Bowl of Chocolate

Most people love chocolate (I know I do!) so a children's book about a giant bowl of chocolate is such a brilliant idea it's difficult to see why it wasn't done before! I was lucky enough to hear Marion Lucy and her daughter presenting this book at the Book an Adventure Children's Literature Festival... so I asked her five curly questions.

Q.  Most people love chocolate. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
A.  I made up a story each meal time when my kids were little to stop them from squirming or jumping up and running around. The stories were always off the top of my head and this particular story was made-up while my kids were eating porridge for breakfast. They like porridge just fine but I decided to tell a story about a more decadent breakfast and a giant bowl of chocolate was what came to mind. It's not my ideal breakfast though, I have almost no sweet tooth at all! I'd rather sourdough rye toast and eggs Florentine - heavy, savoury food.

Q     Do you envisage any more adventures for the characters?

A.  I really like the character of Belle in this book as she's so zesty, she could easily have more adventures (especially with a giant as a friend) but I'm happy to leave her be for now as I have too many other projects to focus on.

Q.  I loved the way you brought in porridge and it’s benefits. Were you sneakily promoting a healthy message there?

A. Because this story was originally improvised I didn't have any conscious thoughts about promoting healthy eating but I've no doubt my sub-conscious did.  I've been surprised by how kids have reacted to this book, I expected they would all focus on the chocolate aspect but I've had several parents tell me their kids get more excited about the porridge which I think is great. 

Q. How did you deal with the illustrations?

A. My publisher sent me a list of illustrators to choose from and one of my favourites was Nathaniel Eckstrom. I hadn't heard of him previously  but I looked up his website and liked his quirky, retro style. I was happy for him to illustrate the story his own way with little input from me and I think he did a fantastic job.

Q.     Do you have advice for anyone planning to write and publish a picture book?

A. . Besides reading current picture books widely and noting which publishers publish what, I think it can be useful getting some professional feedback to hone your skills. This could be a manuscript assessment or entering a competition that provides feedback such as the annual CYA comp.

My website is

Thanks, Marion!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Meet Helen Goltz

Today in Promote me Please Helen Goltz answers five curious questions about The Fourth Reich, Book 3 in her Mitchell Parker crime series.

Q. Tell us a bit about the Mitchell Parker thrillers. How did the idea for the series evolve?

Crime thriller is my favourite genre to write and I wanted a strong character who was also a little flawed - which made him vulnerable. My inspiration was Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow. I went to one of Matthew's presentations about a decade ago at the Queensland Writers' Festival and after, I was inspired to try my hand at crime. I've just released the third Mitchell Parker book.

Q. Give us three words (or phrases) to describe Mitch.
Driven, enigmatic, vulnerable

Q. In The Fourth Reich, various characters are struggling with the fall-out of earlier adventures. This means the books need to be read in order.
Have you thought of going back and writing a fill-in or spin-off novel?

I think they can be read in any order, but it is ideal if they can be read from book one. I try to make them all stand-alone, and I'll explain in a sentence or two if a little background is needed to fill in the blanks. I thought of doing a spin-off with the English agent, Adam Forster, but decided to bring him back in for one volume instead.

Q. What made you decide to cast Mitch as a developing character rather than a series character who doesn’t change a lot?
Mitch has serious trust issues resulting from his childhood. As he builds relationships with his team and the people around him, he becomes more trusting and he develops and grows a little. Some characters that cross his path from his past reveal things about Mitch too. As a journalist, I've worked in very male-dominated fields for years and I find most men are slow to reveal themselves, their emotions and their life stories. Mitch is definitely in that category.

Q. Do you envisage the team make-up changing with each book?

I want to keep the nucleus team ... readers are comfortable travelling with them and I don't want to kill off main characters. I don't want to read all that emotional drama—I want good fun action. But I will lose minor characters and introduce new personalities to the team.

Thanks for reading!

 For more about Helen Goltz and her Mitchell Parker series, click here.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Robert N Chan talks about his novel, "girl".

Today I welcome Robert N. Chan to Promote Me Please to talk about his new novel, girl.

Q.1. Tell us a bit about your main character. Throughout the book she is known by different names, but how does she think of herself?

A.   girl covers twenty-five years of her life, from when she is raped at fifteen until she finally recovers and finds her true calling at forty. During that period her self-image changes, as reflected in the names she chooses for herself. At the start she is Hannah the pious girl who dreams of marrying a great rabbi and using her position of respect in her ultra-orthodox community to heal the world. After her rape and abandonment, she is girl a person of so little importance that she deserves a generic name without even a capitalized first letter. When she becomes a devoted mother, she changes her name to Mom, and that is primarily how she sees herself. Witness Protection changes her name to Anna, and she struggles to become that person. Finally she reconnects with her roots and becomes Hannah again.

Q.2. Describe the main character of “girl” in three words.

A.  resilient, brilliant, insightful

Q.3. Give us the logline (or high concept) of your book: the 25 word pitch.

A.  Raped, abandoned, and armed only with an indomitable spirit, quirky sense of humor, and unyielding intolerance for hypocrisy and injustice a woman finds her true calling and triumphs.

Q.4. Many books have an identifiable genesis. What thought, memory, sight, happening inspired you to write “girl”?

A.  Many people told me that the mother in my novel to Gain the Whole World was a terrific character and that they regretted that I’d killed her. So I decided to write the same story from her point of view. That didn’t work but ultimately girl arose from the ashes.

Q.5. Though many of the events in “girl” are grim, there’s a streak of humour running through the style. Did you make a conscious decision to use this style for this book, or is this your usual tone?

A.  The last conscious decision I made was when I decided to allow myself to be potty trained.

Thanks, Robert!