Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Finally, a New Blog Post (of the Q&A Kind)!

Gosh, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? [Insert lame excuses as to why I haven’t blogged in ages here] [Keep going, I’ve got heaps of excuses].

Whew, sorry for the blog paragraph. Anyway, Alyssa over at I am Writer... Hear Me Roar tagged me in blog hop interview, which is a pretty good prompt for blogging. Thanks, Alyssa! So:

What in your opinion do you think YA (or fiction in general) needs more of? I’m not much of an expert in YA, but I think that there should be more YA novels targeted to guys. In my opinion, a lot is targeted towards girls, and most writers I follow on the Internet write YA for girls. A good 90% of the blogs I follow are written by people who write YA fiction about kissing, shopping, and other gooey stuff.

What is something you would absolutely love to see a book about? (Be specific if possible!) I guess I’d like to see some good thrillers/mysteries/anything really set in Australia. Most fictional characters don’t get so far down south as the fantastically-diverse continent of Australia.

(Side note: Huh, I’M about to write a novel set in Australia. What a coincidence!)

How many non-American authors can you name? (List them!) I can name heaps. So many, in fact, that this post would be way to long if I listed them all. But the non-American authors on my bookshelf include: Andy McDermott (UK); Steig Larsson (Sweden); Matthew Reilly (Australia); Jeffrey Archer (UK); Tara Moss (Canada/Australia); Andy McNabb (UK); CS Lewis (UK); JK Rowling (UK); JRR Tolkien (UK)...

How many non-American YA authors can you name? (List them!) This question’s a lot harder. CS Lewis, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien…. and… annd….aaaannnd…. I’ll skip this question.

What are books that have made you sob and/or cry out loud? I’m a guy, and we don’t really have tear ducts. That said, I do remember getting something stuck in my eye several times while reading George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka. Game of Thrones). I suppose Harry Potter had a similar effect.

What is your favourite book from childhood? I was really keen on all of Enid Blyton’s books, particularly her Secret Seven series. I also really enjoyed the Animorphs book as well once I was a little older.

What do you like to do that has absolutely nothing to do with reading, writing, or anything of the like? Travel! I absolutely love traveling the world and seeing new things and meeting new people! That said, you do need money for all that… and I don’t have any at the moment…

What does diversity mean to you? I’m pretty sure I had to answer this question on an exam once… But I guess it’s about including people from all walks of life: men, women, white people, black people, red people, yellow people, people with disabilities, etc.

How would you describe your style of clothing? Ordinary, I suppose. I like hoodies and jeans in winter, and shirt and shorts in summer.

What is your goal in life? (It could be at the moment or overall) At the moment: getting a part time job again and finishing university. TWO. SEMESTERS. LEFT. Overall: I want to be a successful writer and I want to travel the world (I know right, pretty easy goals.)

So, now I get to choose 10 less-than-10-because-I’ve-never-been-good-at-this-requirement people to answer 10 questions of my choosing.

I name Amanda and Maggie, because, like me, they could use a kick in the pants prompt to blog again. But really, anyone who's interested should play along!

Aaaannnd the ten questions are:

1. What are you working on right now?
2. What’s on your desk at the moment?
3. You have a million dollars! How do you spend it?
4. Favourite TV show at the moment? Why?
5.  What's the first sentence on your current WIP?
6. If you could live in any time period in any country, which one would you choose?
7. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what one book would you want to have with you, and why?
8. Do you like happy endings or not-so-happy endings?
9. Describe your ideal setting for writing
10. If you went on a holiday to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Past, Present, and Future

When I said I was only going to be posting sporadically, I did mean more than once every seven months. I swear!

Yeah, so, hi. I’m back. Again.

I’ve dropped the ball with this whole blogging thing. I blame it on Europe – there’s so much to do there, I guess I got distracted a lot, and any spare time I had was used for writing, not blogging. But I’m back in Australia again, so I’m hoping to resuscitate this blog back into life!

So where am I at?

The Past:

I’ve done a lot in the seven months since I last updated this site. I stayed in Germany for a second semester, and did two awesome tours of Europe. In February/March I saw the big cities of Europe – Paris, Rome, Berlin, etc. – and I’ve just finished a two-month backpacking stint through east Europe and the UK before heading back to Australia. (Backpacking isn’t so daunting once you’re actually doing it. It is lots and lots of fun, so there’s no time to go “oh my gosh I’m in this foreign city in this foreign country ALL BY MYSELF”.)

Writing-wise, I shelved another novel, and then spent most of the semester researching radiation poisoning for my fifth novel. Towards the end of the semester, I was even able to make a start on a rough draft, although I had to postpone it while I went travelling.

The Present:

So now I’m back home, (mostly) unpacked, and (mostly) caught up on lost sleep. Twenty-seven hour plane rides are the worst. At home, I’ve been cleaning out my room to make space for all my new things. After a year away, everything is mine, but it doesn’t feel like mine. All those clothes, shoes, and everything else in my room? It feels like someone else’s stuff. So far, I’ve filled up three garbage bags full of stuff to give away/throw out, and I think I can easily fill at least another two bags.

In regards to my novel, I’m itching to get back to my WIP, which I had to set aside just as things were getting really exciting. I didn’t have much spare time to write while I was on the road, but once I’ve sorted out my room, I’m all set to WRITE WRITE WRITE!

The Future:

So what happens next? I need to start looking for a job again, and I go back for my final two semesters of university next February. After I graduate… well, I’m not quite sure yet.

I’m going to continue working on my novel, and hopefully this will be The One! I’ve had to shelve all my other novels because of plot problems (and I think the plot is an integral part of the novel; if the framework is unstable, is it worth renovating the house?) but this novel has a nice stable plot that is in no way similar to anything else out there! My WIP is a bit a lot on the short size, so I should have a draft done by Christmas :)

That’s all from me for today, and with any luck it won’t be long until I’m posting again. I’ve been terrible at Twitter too (alliteration unintended), so I’m going to make an effort to start connecting with everyone once more. To kick things off, don’t forget to leave a comment below! I want to know how you’re going! What have you been up to this year??

Friday, 8 February 2013

We're Not in Hogwarts Anymore, Hedwig

JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
So. I finally got around to reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Like every other novel this woman has written, I thought it was awesome. The characters, the setting, the plot... it was all amazing.

I’m a little bit ashamed that it’s taken me this long to get around to reading The Casual Vacancy, given that I love Rowling’s other works, but I guess it was partly because of the negative reviews surrounding it. If this book was going to let me down and reveal that Rowling was a one shot wonder, I wanted to keep my JK Rowling Fanboy soul intact for a little while longer.

But The Casual Vacancy didn’t let me down, and I still think that JK Rowling is a brilliant author. I want to discuss some of the negative points the reviewers bring up and add my own two-cents.

“It’s not the same as Harry Potter”
I think this is probably the root of all the problems. People have expected to pick this up and find out that it’s about the Ministry of Magic elections (and Harry Potter will obviously win at the end).

If you expect this, you are in for a very rude shock.

This book is about all the gritty things in life: sex, drugs, revenge, domestic abuse… To be honest, I think this is much more realistic than Rowling’s first series. Harry Potter showed us a fantastical world where good triumphs over evil, but we’re not in Hogwarts anymore, Hedwig. The Casual Vacancy paints a much more realistic picture of life: no one is truly good and no one is truly bad. The multiple POV characters show that everyone is the protagonist in their own story, and everyone is an antagonist in someone else’s.

This book is a heck of a lot more mature than Harry Potter. There’s the sex and violence, but there’s also a LOT of swearing. If you thought that Molly Weasley calling Bellatrix a bitch was bad, this is not the book for you. The Casual Vacancy has just about every rude four letter word you can think of. Not to mention the stuff the characters get up to. Hedwig would blush if Harry had done half the things the Pagford teens get up to.

“Too many characters”

“We don’t get to know the characters as intimately”
The Casual Vacancy has thirty four characters. Fifteen of them are POV characters. It’s a large cast of characters (and it’s a bit confusing at the beginning trying to remember their relationships) but I feel that it works. It shows that there are two sides of every story. We simultaneously love and hate everyone at the same time because we see what they do, but then we get inside their head and discover why they did it.

A New York Times review mentioned “We do not come away feeling that we know the back stories of the “Vacancy” characters in intimate detail the way we did with Harry and his friends and enemies…”. I don’t agree with this at all. Yes, we don’t get to know or care about the characters as much as we did at the end of Deathly Hallows, but it’s important to remember that we got to know all the characters of Hogwarts over seven novels. Could you really say that you cared that much about McGonagall at the end of Philosopher’s Stone? Did we really know that much about Dumbledore until the final book?

Considering that we only have 500 pages to get to know the people of Pagford I think we grow to care about them quite a bit. The large number of POV characters certainly helps: we become intimate with each character and quickly grow to love them. I cared about each character because I knew their dreams, their fears, their desires.

“There isn’t much of a plot”
At first it can seem that way, but in my opinion there are actually a lot of plots twisted up in the novel. As I said earlier, The Casual Vacancy is about real life, and so each character has their own little plot. They each have their own goals, conflicts, and motivations. Plot-wise, I’d probably compare The Casual Vacancy to a soap-opera in book form (only a heck of a lot more interesting).

“It’s not the same as Harry–”
Shush. We’ve already been over this. This isn’t Harry Potter 8. We’re not in Hogwarts anymore. JK Rowling has said this in multiple interviews. Move on.

“There’s too much swearing”
Yeah, there is. But that’s real life. If Rowling didn’t include all the swearing, it wouldn’t have been realistic, given whom the characters were. I understand that not everybody likes cursing in books and I think it should only be used when necessary. In my opinion, it was necessary.

Other common complaints I’ve seen:
“The cover was boring” True, but it has “JK Rowling” on it, so it doesn’t matter.
“The title was lame” Perhaps, but it’s by JK Rowling, so it doesn’t matter.
“It’s not the same as Harry Potter” WE KNOW. MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE.

So that’s my thoughts on JK Rowling’s latest novel. What about you? Have you read it? What did you think about it? If you haven’t read it, do you plan to? If not, why not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Where I've Come From and Where I'm Going

(aka “A (Very Late) Recap of 2012”)

First up I should acknowledge that I’ve been pretty absent on the blog (and social media as a whole, really) for a while. I’ll discuss that shortly.

2012 has been a big year fo. Initially I feel that 2012 was a really good year for me, but when I look past the whole I’m-in-Europe! thing, I remember that it’s actually been a bit of a rocky year, writing wise and in real life. (But I prefer not to concentrate on that. I think it’s much nicer to say “2012 was awesome” than “2012 sucked”.)

Writing wise, 2012 hasn’t been all that productive. I started the year off by editing my old novel, EXCALIBUR, in Project 2012. But, it just didn’t work out for me. I struggled through the editing project until I finally admitted defeat in early August. It wasn’t the way I edited, and I simply had no love for the project. I spent the next couple of months planning a new novel, ROGUE, and started writing in late September. I’m now roughly 40K in.

In that thing called Real Life, I don’t want to go into specifics, but I spent the year feeling unhappy and in a rut. I desperately needed change, and if I didn’t have Germany to look forward to, I would have had to force change, and that would have been messy.

When I moved to Germany, I managed to leave behind the crappiness of 2012 and focus on good things. I met new people, saw new sights, had new experiences. I started on my new novel, and three months and 40K later, I’m still so much in love with it. This is good. I’m slightly behind schedule, but should have the rough draft finished in a about a month and a half (if I knuckle down).

To be honest, the reason I haven’t blogged much this year is because I’m just not feeling the love for it anymore. I no longer enjoy blogging, and each post is a lot of work. If you look through the archives, you’ll see that I haven’t been blogging nearly as much as 2011. Most of 2012’s posts were written because I said “oh, I haven’t posted in X weeks… I should probably write something.”

Perhaps Germany also plays a part. While I was preparing for my trip, I was busy. Now that I’m in Germany, I’m still busy. I don’t always have a lot of time of writing-related activities, so when I do have time, I’d rather use it to write than to talk about writing.

When 2013 finally rolled around, I remembered my blog and I thought long and hard about its future. I thought about shutting it down, but I decided that I didn’t want to do that. I think there will be times when I’ll have things to say that require more than 140 characters. So this blog will stay online, but it’ll definitely be a lot quieter than 2011 and 2012. I’m going to try to make an effort to blog more regularly than once every couple of months. Hopefully that will work out.

Over to you know: how have you been? How is your writing going? What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments section!