Finishing The Rephaim series has left me feeling a little reflective and contemplative, so please indulge me for this post. There are a lot of people I want to thank for being with me on The Rephaim journey. I think I did a reasonable job in my acknowledgements at the end of Burn, so I thought I would re-post it here.
Five years ago, I was frustrated and disappointed over yet another writing rejection – the latest addition to a fat folder. To cheer myself up I started working on something for fun. That scene turned into the beginnings of Shadows and an outline for the four-book Rephaim series. Less than a year later, my agent Lyn Tranter pitched the series to Mandy Brett and Alison Arnold at Text Publishing. They liked it and I was offered a contract. After all those years of writing and rejection, the thing I had wanted for so long happened ‘just like that’.
Since then, the series has been published in the United Kingdom, North America and Turkey. I’ve been a guest at writers’ festivals, a writer-in-residence at high schools, participated in blog tours, met lots of wonderful readers online and at events, and read countless reviews of my work (good, bad and otherwise).
I’ve rubbed shoulders with many of my favourite writers and met others who have since joined that list. I’ve chatted and shared book recommendations with a great bunch of dedicated bloggers and reviewers who do what they do purely because they love to read. The young adult writing community in Australia is quite possibly the most welcoming, supportive and friendly writing sector in the world today, and that’s been one of the greatest discoveries of all.
I still have a day job. Few people tell you how tough it is to earn a living as a writer. I’m just grateful to be in print, and especially grateful for publishers like Text Publishing who are still willing to take risks. There are plenty of writers out there who are where I was five years ago, so I take nothing for granted.
This is the fourth and last book in the Rephaim series, and there are plenty of people I need to thank.
Text Publishing: my editor Mandy Brett, for caring about a story filled with angels and demons. I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be able to work with you. And the entire team at Text, especially those I’ve worked with the closest: Anne Beilby, Alice Cottrell, Steph Speight, Alaina Gougoulis and Shalini Kunahlan.
Orion/Indigo Books: my editor Jenny Glencross and senior publicity manager Nina Douglas.
Tundra Books/Random House Canada: Publisher Alison Morgan, Editorial Director Tara Walker and Publicity Manager Pamela Osti, as well as Val Capuani. Special thanks to Publishing Coordinator Sylvia Chan, for always going above and beyond.
Alison Arnold, for being there from the start of this series and whose influence still guides my writing (and inspires me to try to write beautiful sentences).
Rebecca Cram (Place), for nearly three decades of friendship and encouragement – and providing helpful feedback on an early draft Burn.
Tony Minerds: my brother who can spot a typo at fifty paces. This time around he got a chance to find them before we went to print. Thanks bro.
Vikki Wakefield, a gifted writer who I’m proud to call friend, for feedback and candid conversations that help me feel like I almost know what I’m doing.
Marianne de Pierres – a multi-talented writer, friend and mentor – for invaluable advice and much appreciated support.
My family and friends, many of who had never read anything even remotely resembling urban/contemporary fantasy before this series came along, for taking the time to read every book and make appropriate noises of enthu- siasm. You guys rock.
My amazing friend and business partner, Heather Scott, for her friendship and unwavering belief in me.
Mum and Dad, for their overwhelming love and support in all aspects of my life.
Murray, for knowing me better than anyone else on the planet, and for still being beside me twenty years on. And last, but most certainly not least, all of you – readers, bloggers, reviewers, booksellers and librarians – who have picked up the Rephaim series. There is no writing career without you guys. Thanks for being a part of this adventure.
I know the Rephaim series isn’t going to change the world, but I’ve loved writing this story and these characters—and they’ve certainly brought an amazing new dimension to my world. For that, I will always be grateful.
I’m a published author. I’m also an avid reader. So is it okay for me to talk online about the books I enjoy?
Long before I was published, I was a book blogger. I wasn’t on anyone’s mailing list and I didn’t receive ARCs, I just read widely and wanted to chat about the books I loved.
I started my first blog in 2007, called Great Stories. After a few years of building up a reasonable following of like-minded readers, I realised my reading choices were too eclectic for a single blog, so I created a second one dedicated to fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal and zombie stories, called Other Worlds (mostly YA, but not exclusively).
Even back in those days, I confined my posts to books I enjoyed. Probably because I bought most of what I read and reviewed, and – with my own writing going on in the background – I didn’t have the time to invest in books that didn’t appeal to me.
And then in 2011, after many years of writing and submitting my own work to publishers, I was signed by Text Publishing in Australia (and then later by Indigo/Orion in the UK and Tundra Books in North America). So I started a third blog focused on my own writing (the one you’re reading now).
Within a few months of that first contract, I wound down the other two blogs (due to time commitments). But I still kept track of what I was reading on Goodreads. I had never given starred ratings on my own blogs, but picked up the habit on Goodreads, given it’s a convention of the site.
When Shadows debuted in Australia in 2012, I became a Goodreads author, which gave me a completely different perspective on the site.
Now, with a click of a button, I can see what everyone is saying about my work. Most reviews of my books are thoughtful, encouraging and often grin-inspiring. Others rip my heart out and leave it crushed on the side of the road. The latter are never easy to read, but I respect everyone’s right to express their opinions – after all, I don’t have to read them.
But experiencing Goodreads as an author made me realise that everything I write about other books can be read by their authors. A no-brainer, yes, but I’d never really sat down and thought that through. My reviews were always for my fellow readers: “Here I loved this, you might too”.
I started to wonder what authors thought about having other authors rate and review their books. Granted, my ratings and comments were overwhelmingly positive, but still….So for a while, I didn’t know how to ‘be’ on Goodreads. I still wanted to keep track of what I’d read and what I wanted to read. (My Goodreads TBR collection is always my go-to list when I can’t decide what to pick up next.)
Then I changed tack. I stopped reviewing all together. But I missed it. I actually enjoy writing about books I’ve loved, especially when it leads to conversations with other bloggers/readers about those books.
So I decided to write comments about books I’d read and not give a rating. But that felt like a cop-out. And I know how lovely it is to get a strong star rating on Goodreads.
As of late, I’m back to leaving ratings and (mostly brief) comments because it feels more meaningful to me as a reader. As usual, I only post on Goodreads about books I’ve really enjoyed, so they’ll generally all be novels I feel deserve five stars. And again, this is because I’m only reading books I seriously expect to love. So my Goodreads posts are definitely recommendations. They are not intended to be a critical analysis. (By the way, I also include my ever-growing favourite reads list here on my site.)
I know there are divided opinions about how authors should behave as readers, particularly online. I’m trying to find a comfortable middle ground where I tread lightly in both roles, but still offer something meaningful for my own readers, and readers who share my tastes in books.
I’m interested to hear thoughts from book bloggers (and authors) on the topic.
(Side note: I wrote a post on Life of Pi – particularly focused on the island scene – on Great Stories back in 2008 that, for a long time, had the number one Google ranking for ‘Life of Pi explained’. It still gets hundreds of hits every week and still attracts comments. I’m actually kind of proud of that. You can find it here.)