Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Pauline Hosking and Cinnamon Stevens Crime Buster

Today we welcome Pauline Hosking to Promote Me Please to talk about her new book Cinnamon Stevens - Crime Buster. 
Q. Cinnamon Stevens – Crime Buster is an enticing title.  Please give us a 25 word (or fewer) pitch for the story.

A.  Twelve year old Cinnamon dreams of being a super sleuth. Her chance comes when a class mate disappears during a school camp.

 Q.    What’s the story behind Cinnamon’s name? Is the in-story reason different from the author-choice reason?

A. In an English class years ago I taught a girl called Cinnamon. It’s such a great name it stayed with me (along with Tamsin, Demelza and a few others I haven’t used yet). Another reason for the name is that Cinnamon’s family (in the book) are foodies. Her father is a police sergeant and her mother’s a civil celebrant but their hobby is cooking. Cinnamon believes a good breakfast is the best start to a day. Some of her breakfast recipes appear on my website  Cinnamon’s name is also the source of a running joke. A boy tries to get her attention by calling her ‘Spice Girl’ and ‘Oregano’ and ‘Paprika’. Cinnamon mistakes this as an attempt to annoy her. It won’t be the last time she misses or misreads a vital clue.

Q.     Does Cinnamon have a sidekick? If so, how did you decide who/what to choose?

A.  The book begins with Cinnamon afraid she will be friendless in secondary school because her BFF, Cosette, has gone to study acting at the (imaginary) Academy of Performing Arts in Melbourne. To her surprise Cinnamon finds a second best friend in Meera Kyrzwicki, the rather eccentric brainiac of Year 7, who, she discovers, is an expert at reading body-language. Cinnamon, Cosette and Meera form an impressive triumvirate. They hunt for the missing girl, following the example of the penguins of Phillip Island (scene of the ill-fated school camp, see Question 1): ‘When danger looms remember the penguins. Don’t give up and stick together!’

Q.     What are five words that describe Cinnamon’s personality?

A.  Cinnamon stands on the anxious brink of adolescence. She is a funny, stead-fast, friend - who is often wrong-footed. Although nervous when faced with small problems, she discovers that under pressure she has a core of solid steel. If I have to use five words to describe Cinnamon they would be: anxious, adolescent, funny, determined, courageous. Kat Chadwick’s illustrations and book cover totally capture the spirit of Cinnamon and her feisty friends.

Q.     What’s next for Pauline Hosking? Is there a new Cinnamon Stevens story in the works?

A. I’ve written most of the first draft of Cinnamon’s next adventure, provisionally titled Dead Scared. It concerns the play Macbeth, a graveyard, the haunted (actual) goldmining town of Walhalla in Victoria’s Gippsland, and the ghost of an actress who died in 1910.

Thanks Pauline! 
You can find out more by visiting Pauline at 

The paperback is available from, The Book Depository and Booktopia, and the kindle edition is on Amazon.

The second book in this series, Cinnamon Stevens Ghost Light, also features in this blog at

Promote Me Please blog is associated with Affordable Manuscript Assessments

It is open to anyone with a family-friendly creative endeavour to promote. Comments are welcome. To read other interviews at Promote Me Please, choose from the menu on the right of this post.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hatching Big Chook by Mark Deguara

Today at Promote Me Please we have something a little different.  Author Mark Deguara has written three books about his lovable hero Big Chook. These stories stand out for me as a mix of rough-and-tumble Australian schooldays and deep friendship. Big Chook himself is a lovely character who battles from childhood to his teens with grace and good humour. At my request, Mark wrote an essay about his experience in writing the three Big Chook stories, and here is is.

Follow this link The Three Big Chook Books to check out the books themselves.

Hatching ‘The Adventures of Big Chook’

Although Big Chook is not about a chicken, the idea for him was hatched while making scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning. I had wanted to write a short, fast paced story for some time, but what was it going to be about?
That morning, while breaking eggs my daughter asked me some questions about my school days, and while I answered what I could, I remembered some of my old friends. I had well and truly lost contact with them, but still considered them as lifelong friends.
It all began with the thought of how we’d give each other nicknames and yet no matter how bad they sounded, if they came from our friends, we never minded. (Well, my group of friends didn’t seem to mind anyways.) Thus I began to formulate some cool sounding nicknames and what the characters would look like, and what sort of characteristics they’d have.
At this point in time I’d given very little thought to the plot or flow of the story, as I was placing a huge amount of importance on the reader falling in love with the characters. I felt if the characters were strong enough, the story would come together around them because of their personalities.
Once I had my main protagonist (Big Chook) and his friends (Wally, Harry, Pete and Kirstin) developed, the story did begin to come together quite nicely. The interaction between the friends had a factual feeling and the situations they found themselves in were funny and enjoyable. Big Chook’s lovable, easy going personality, along with the outgoing nature of Wally’s, sees the friends' holiday adventure become very exciting. This draws the reader further into loving the characters, as they battle to solve the mystery they stumble across.
While their holiday adventure arises around them, the characters themselves are able to be growing with the story. Not only are they getting older, they are having to confront issues that come with growing older and also problems that the closeness of their friendship brings.
Without initially realising it, by throwing a young, coming of age girl into the mix, I began to encounter one of the greatest perplexities of all time. How does one separate the line between love and friendship? Especially if one of your closest friends is the girl you have fallen in love with and you’re mates also have feelings for the same girl. Suddenly I found other issues arising around the different characters and their friendship.
My next objective, once plot was sorted, was to resolve the matter of finding a smooth ending that would give closure. But it also had to create a pleasant step into the next book in the series that I now found growing in my mind.
This brought me to the next big step, which we all confront in life, the step into high school.
Now satisfied that the emotional connection was made with the main characters. I could begin polishing the plot and finalising the movement into book two.
Ultimately I wanted to show that friendships grows and changes, as we do as individuals. Friendship is a type of relationship and not all friendships are smooth or last forever. But at the time they are of great importance and will stay with us for as long as our memories allow.

The ending of The Adventures of Big Chook (The Summer Hideaway) left me with a smile and wanting to write more, as I’m sure it will leave you with the same smile and wanting to read more.

Promote Me Please blog is associated with Affordable Manuscript Assessments

It is open to anyone with a family-friendly creative endeavour to promote. Comments are welcome. To read other interviews and essays at Promote Me Please, choose from the menu on the right of this post.