I’m still here…
Although I’d understand if you lost interest in this blog long ago.
It’s been five years since my last post. I’m keen to get blogging again on a semi-regular basis, and thought I’d start with an update on where I’m at in life and writing.
My last post was in 2017, when The Undercurrent launched. At that point, I’d lost my brother Steve a few days before the launch, barely two years after losing my dad, and my mum had been diagnosed with dementia.
The years that followed were full of ups and downs. I spent a lot of time with my mum, grateful for every day she remembered me. When my dad passed, it was quick and sudden. The last weeks of my mum’s life were the opposite. Both experiences were terrible, and each changed me in profound ways I’m still grappling with.
In happier news, a year later, my husband and I bought a 160-year-old cottage on a couple of acres in the Scenic Rim, an hour south-west of Brisbane. It’s been life-changing in all the right ways. Beautiful scenery, welcoming people, a sense of community, and a re-connection with life away from a digital screen. Our cottage is small, but my life is bigger in ways I’d forgotten I needed.
If you follow my author account on Facebook, you possibly saw I’ve had two pieces of news about The Rephaim series this year.
In March, Sarah Kelley – a lovely and talented Canadian actress and screenwriter – bought the rights to adapt Shadows into a film. Sarah is from Algonquins of Pikwakanagan in Golden Lake, Ontario.
It’s an exciting opportunity for Gaby, Rafa and company. It’s a long road from print to screen, and this is an important first step. The process from here is for Sarah to adapt the book into a screenplay and then find a production company to bring it to the screen.
I’m so grateful to Sarah for loving The Rephaim characters enough to want to adapt the first novel in the series, knowing how many of her own projects she has going on. (This year alone, her short film Good Grief has won a stack of Canadian and international awards (she wrote, directed and starred in it), and she’s also been busy acting, and had another of her screenplays optioned.)
The Rephaim are in Poland!
In September, a Polish language edition of Shadows was released in Poland (print, e-book and audio). Interestingly, it’s been released as an adult book (rather than YA), and has so far been well received by Polish book bloggers.
The Instagram posts have been stunning.
After The Undercurrent came out in 2017, I spent a couple of years working on a stand-alone contemporary adult thriller, for a change of pace. I wrote it during an intense time in my life, so maybe it’s no surprise it didn’t find a publishing home.
And then I did something I should have done a while ago: returned to the fantasy series I’d been working on before The Rephaim. I had the first book drafted, as well as a few chapters of the second book, so I figured it would simply be a case of tightening up the line, giving it a polish, and writing the rest.
After working with editors on five published books, I’m not only a better writer, I’m also a better storyteller and have a stronger sense of the type of story I want to tell with this group of characters and the world I’ve created for them.
So, I’ve spent the last two years completely re-working the first book (the story is essentially the same but the characters are more nuanced and the world-building much richer) and am about a third of the way into the second book. I also have a completely new direction for the third than what I’d originally planned.
For the first time in a long while, I’m excited about writing. I’ve been doing a lot of fun research, in particular learning more about the middle ages, sword play and Greek myths.
The story will take three books to tell. Fingers crossed the trilogy finds a home.
The Undercurrent – interviews and reviews
It’s been a busy six weeks since The Undercurrent was released here in Australia. I’ve had the chance to talk about the new novel on air, online and in print, which I’ve really appreciated. I’ve put together a few links below (as much for myself, so I have them in one place!):
- Magpies Volume Thirty-Two (one of the most in-depth interviews I’ve done)
- ABC Rhi, OzYAY Chat – extended interview
- ABC Brisbane Drive (1:32:35) with Emma Griffiths (4 August episode)
- Love OzYA Q&A
- Brisbane News
And here are some of my favourite reactions to The Undercurrent:
- #OzYA! -Rhi, Jean and Sarah discuss The Undercurrent in the 6 August episode
- Bookseller and publisher
- Sydney Morning Herald
- Children’s Book Council of Australia – Reading Time
- Kids Book Review
- Otago Daily Times
- Speculating on Spec Fic
Having a new book out is always nerve-wracking, so I appreciate the positive responses when they come. 🙂
In Melbourne, The Sun Bookshop’s Younger Sun YA Book Club is reading The Undercurrent and chatting about it over pizza on 3 October (6pm-7pm). More details here.
If you live in Brisbane and are keen to discuss The Undercurrent, I’ll be joining Trent Jamieson and Avid Reader’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Bookclub next month on Monday 30 October (6.30pm-8pm). You can book and find out more here.
Yes, the Undercurrent is a standalone novel
The Undercurrent – out now in Australia and New Zealand – is a speculative thriller set in near-future Australia and, yes, it’s a standalone novel.
There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, after the challenge of telling a story over four books with the Rephaim series, I wanted to push myself to write a tightly contained narrative in a single novel.
Secondly – and more importantly – when I understood the story I wanted to tell with these characters, I realised it only needed one book to do it.
It took me a while to get a feel for these characters, their world and where I wanted to take the story. There were many false starts. I think I re-wrote the first 25,000 words at least a dozen times before I figured out what I was doing. (There were more re-writes once I had a full draft, but I understood the terrain by then.)
I had a number of competing priorities in my life at the time and felt like I could never get my teeth into this story, but it did come together, piece by piece, taking longer than I expected because I needed to get it right.
I tend to do everything at pace, but life was forcing me to slow down with the book and take my time. I hope I’ve produced a good novel as a result. It’s ambitious, I know. I hope it takes people by surprise (in a good way!). Most of all, I hope they’re hooked by the characters and the story, and enjoy the ride.
Another of those quick updates
I know…it’s been a long time between posts.
My life has been its usual craziness between my day job and working on the new book, but I thought I’d give a quick update on a couple of things.
Firstly, the new book…
My publisher, Michael Heyward at Text Publishing, gave it a lovely mention in a recent edition of Bookseller & Publisher, so I can now tell you it’s called The Undercurrent and it will be release in August 2017. As I’ve said before, it’s a totally new story set in a near-future Australia and is a stand-alone novel.
In other news, the Turkish translation of Burn is available, with a stunning cover design. Here are all four books in the series (in order):
My favourite reads this year include (click on each for my thoughts on Goodreads):
I’ve also been lucky enough to read a draft of Vikki Wakefield’s new suspense novel Ballad for a Mad Girl (due out in March 2017) and can tell you that it’s spine-chillingly awesome.
I’ve also been watching:
(Jury is still out on whether I’m going to see out this season of Walking Dead after that first episode. I may not forgive the writers for that one.)
Okay, that’s it for me for now.