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Photo of Adrienne: Tanja Tiziana. Steampunk background: http://valerianastock.deviantart.com
I met Adrienne Kress through the Toronto MG/YA Author Group (Torkidlit). She's smart, funny and passionate about her craft, and I've appreciated her advice and encouragement over the years. I interviewed Adrienne about her middle grade novels last year, and I can't wait to buy her new YA steampunk novel, THE FRIDAY SOCIETY (Dial, Dec/2012). More info on her website: AdrienneKress.com.
Summary of the plot from a starred Quill & Quire review of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY: "The steampunk adventure novel, set in Edwardian London, follows the lives of three very different teenage girls, each of whom works for an important man but also maintains a life of her own. The three strangers – Cora (the lab assistant), Nellie (the magician’s assistant), and Michiko (the Japanese fighter’s assistant) – find themselves thrust together as the result of a horrific unsolved murder and quickly discover that, by combining their special skills, they can accomplish more than they ever thought possible."
Above: BookEnds interviews Adrienne about steampunk fiction, writing & THE FRIDAY SOCIETY.
Q. What was your creative process for The Friday Society?
The creative process for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY was very similar to the process for my writing in general.
It starts with thinking. Normally I get a cool basic idea. In this case it was a team of female Steampunk superheroes. Then I start to problem solve: how many should there be? Who are they? How do they meet? What is the basic plot that drives them? What are the supporting characters? Etc. The more I think, the more comes to me. It's all a bit of a logic exercise, "If they are like this, then this means that. If this is their job, that means that they probably live here. . ." and so on.
I really do just think about it for a good while. If the idea sticks with me, if it gives me butterflies still a week later, I take that as a sign that the idea has staying power. That's the key with writing for me. The act of writing is not glamorous. It's hard work. You aren't always inspired to write. In fact many days you feel a bit like a little kid who doesn't want to get up in the morning: "I don't wanna!!" So you need to have a project that you are completely passionate about. That you are willing to work through the rough patches for. At least I do.
Then comes figuring out the voice. This usually begins by jumping into the deep end and just starting writing. For THE FRIDAY SOCIETY it took a bit more effort than usual coming up with the voice. I started out writing it oldy-timey - a bit like the voice I used in my short story in the anthology CORSETS & CLOCKWORK - but it didn't really suit the light irreverent tone I was going for. Eventually the idea of writing the book in a contemporary voice came to me, and it made SO much sense. After all, the key to Steampunk is that it is anachronistic - a story set in the past but with futuristic technology and attitudes. Well why couldn't the actual act of telling the story be anachronistic too?? (if you want to read a post on the subject of anachronisms in Steampunk and why I chose the voice I did, check out my blog here). Once I had the voice, I could really get going on the story.
Photo: Tanja Tiziana
Now back when I was younger when I wrote just for fun, I realised I was the kind of person who enjoyed starting to write and seeing where the story took me. If I planned something out too much I got bored. I would feel, "Well, I already know what happens, what's the point in me writing it?" But I quickly learned that if I didn't do any planning whatsoever I would paint myself into a corner that I just couldn't get out of. So what I tend to do is a combination of both. I come up with a very basic plan, and then I fill in the blanks in the moment as I write. I also tend to plan in phases. So I'll plan the first fifth of the book, and when I'm coming to the end of that, I'll stop and plan the next fifth. Etc. As an example: with the beginning of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY I decided I wanted three chapters of introductions per girl and then I wanted my girls to meet up at a gala where they would come across . . . something mysterious. Seriously, that was it. Not much to go on, but still enough that I knew where I was going.
I should add at this point that I do tend to have a very basic idea of what the novel will be on the whole. This is part of what I think about during the thinking phase. But again it's very basic. In the case of TFS it was, "I want a Steampunk superhero origins story where my three girls defeat someone intent on destroying London for some reason. Also there will be subplots." :)
As I continue to write my book I, of course, come across bumps in the road and face difficult problem solving. This is always tricky to manage but I have learned that if I just stick with it I can get out to the other side. Sometimes it means moving onto something else or just going for a walk to clear my head. Sometimes it means sitting there and figuring it out one word at a time. And it's kind of amazing the direction your brain can take you. The characters of Hayao and Dr. Mantis were meant to be small one offs, but as I wrote them they just took on a life of their own and became integral to the story. This is why I enjoy not planning every little thing as I write, I love being surprised by my own story.
Now my method is simply mine. It certainly does not work for everyone. The most important thing is for a writer to find what works for him/her and be confident in that technique. So many blogs will tell you absolutes. But here's a secret: whatever works for you, works for you. Try different methods, see what sticks and discard that which doesn't. Don't be afraid to fail, and don't second guess when something is working for you.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Unfortunately my advice in not particularly glamorous nor original. It is: Read and Write. Ta da! To elaborate. . . Read. Read a lot. Read every genre and every medium. Read novels, non-fiction, plays, poetry, graphic novels, picture books etc etc and so forth. Everything you read will inform what you write. It will teach you the writing rules, it will teach you how to break those rules. It will teach you what you like, it will teach you what you aren't a fan of.
And then you have to write. You just have to write. A lot. You never really learn until you do. And you never really improve until you do a lot.
Q. Any upcoming events or current projects you'd like to share?
I am jumping out of my chair excited to share my latest project and soon-to-be-published novel with you… *drum roll*
STORM!!! A young adult mystery-drama about a creative and complex teen boy. Here is the official synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Storm enjoys skateboarding, fixing broken electronics, and building things with his hands. They distract him from the tormented thoughts surrounding the circumstances of his mother’s death. But his problems can’t be avoided forever…
Since his mother’s death, tensions are high at home, the girl of Storm’s dreams is dating someone else, and an argument with his father lands him in the school counselors’ office.
Will Storm overcome his fears, let go of the feelings that have been haunting him, and reveal his long-held secrets? Can his dad ever forgive him? Will the girl of his dreams ever see him as more than a friend?
A true-to-life young adult novel teeming with mystery, romance and intrigue.
This book is full of lots of juicy drama and fun, colorful characters but it's ultimately about relationships, connections and overcoming obstacles. The story has a beautiful message - one that I believe both teens and adults will relate to.
Because this book deals with many issues that teen’s today face, I am donating a portion of the proceeds from sales to youth organizations - something that is very important to me. Some of the organizations that I will be supporting are: Born This Way Foundation, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Hey U.G.L.Y, To Write Love On Her Arms, Love Is Louder, Do Something and Half Of Us.
Storm is scheduled for print release on December 14th, 2012 by DreamFusion Press, LLC, but you can pre-order autographed copies today. Click ELECTRIC to pre-order paperback copies of Storm.
The 6-week countdown to launch starts today, which means you will have many opportunities to win an autographed copy of Storm!
Each week, I will post an activity, puzzle or question related to Storm and all participants will have a chance to win a copy of Storm - just for participating! I will randomly select a winner from the participants of each post, per week to win 1 autographed copy of Storm (6 books in total will be given away). Countdown and giveaway ends on December 14th, 2012. Limit 2 books per person.
That's it! So here's this week's activity to kick off the countdown:
Judge this book by its cover! What do you like most about the cover art? What feelings, thoughts or messages does it convey? What is the boy on the cover thinking about? Answer one or all of these questions in a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Storm!
Be sure to check back next week for an exclusive character interview with Storm himself!
I was absolutely thrilled and delighted to travel up to Erina Fair Library (part of the Gosford City library network) yesterday to launch their National Year of Reading project ... Jean Genies. This inititive of the wonderful children's librarian Claire Stuckey has been running for a few years now with 'designer' jeans travelling to libraries all over NSW. And along with Susanne Gervay what did we do to launch the day? We RIPPED a pair of jeans. Oh my mother would have been soooooo annoyed if they were my own jeans!
I also dropped in to the Adventist School - just a short stoll away and spoke to the year 6 kids there .... Can you talk for an hour? I was asked ... I went a little longer (of course)!
a bit about the programme: Drawing inspiration from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, by Ann Brashares, this year the program sees nine pairs of jeans travelling between 40 rural, metropolitan and regional public libraries - Australia-wide. Participating libraries will be decorating the jeans, hosting programs and displays, before sending the jeans to the next library. In previous years New South Wales libraries have developed an exciting range of activities including craft workshops, film nights, intergenerational programs and outreach events. Libraries, including International Libraries have been encouraged to take photos of the jeans in iconic locations, inviting local schools or youth groups to be creative and artistic.
It was also a buzz jumping on air at Erina Fair. ABC local radio have a studio in the shopping centre (they were also showing the Jean Genies in the studio windows). I recorded a piece with Scott Levi, talking about literacy and parents as readers and reading and books - and Sounds Spooky of course - .... lotsafun! It was great to have that local media support.
with Scott and jeans in the studio
And here are 'my' jeans, the jeans designers and a collection of the travelling jeans! Awesome!
I was absolutely delighted today to attend the official opening by the lovely Governor of NSW, Prof. Marie Bashir of the Sydney Story Factory and the first Australian Martian Embassy and Gift Store (who knows, there might be a Martian Embassy in some other planetary system). And part of the official opening was the launch of the anthology - I Met a Martian and otherstories for which I wrote a piece. Every aspect of the anthology was donated including the stories editing, cover design, illustration, typesetting, paper and printing.
As one who believes in the power of story and creativity and how they can change lives I was absolutely buzzed to jump on board (sometime last year) and write my Martian piece. Now don't expect to read it here. You need to go buy the book! But I will let you know that it is a description of a Martian (Martianous martian). There are stacks of stories from other creative folk including Deborah Abela, Jaccqueline Harvey, Markus Zuzak, Sophie Masson, Melina Marchetta and Markus Zusak.
What is the Sydney Story Factory: The Sydney Story Factory is a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people in Redfern, Sydney. Our volunteer tutors offer free help to write stories of all kinds, which are published in as many ways as possible.
Find out lots more about Sydney Story Factory at the website ... and also have a look at the short film called Measuring Up. This is a glorious initiative.
The launch was wonderful, a chance to see everything in place, admire friends’ exhibits, show it all off to friends and family and network! Sheryl Gwyther, Prue Mason of SCBWI and Michelle Richards [our wonderful Exhibition coordinator from Brisbane Square Library] organised the launch event. Jenny Stubbs, Coordinator of one of Australia’s leading children’s book festivals, “Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature”, came down from Ipswich to open the exhibition. Jenny gave a stirring and encouraging speech to gathered authors, illustrators and friends, despite protesting she didn’t fancy herself a speaker .
Visitors included Dr. Virginia Lowe of “Create a Kid’s Book” fame and Lucia Masciullio of Blue Quoll Publishing, teachers and teacher librarians from Brisbane and Ipswich. Feedback has been excellent. It is vindicating, as an author or as an illustrator, to have people acknowledge the work that goes into a book’s creation and to have a new appreciation of the end result!
Read other reports of the Exhibition on Anil Tortop’s Blog and the SCBWI Facebook page. Better still, go along and have a squizz – Level 2, Brisbane Square Library, George Street Brisbane CBD, from 13th July to 31st August, 2012!
We have quite the week for you. Today is the last day to enter our teen writer’s challenge. Click here to enter your life-changing moment, now. They must be in by midnight tonight to qualify for the awesome gifts (all gifts are given at random to say thank you for entering).
Tomorrow, Tuesday 3/1, my debut novel Driven releases. We’ll be celebrating with an online release party. Stop by tomorrow to join us for the fun.
Wednesday hop around the blog tour and wish all those wonderful hosts Happy Mid-Week.
Drum-roll…Thursday our first Life-changing challenge entry will post. Don’t miss that. I can’t wait to share these amazing stories. Please encourage our entrants by commenting each week.
We’ll round the week out with a re-cap and an invitation to a real Book Birthday celebration.
Hope you can join us this week. It’ll be a wild ride!
Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.
Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.
• Purchase Driven TODAY and receive a personalized, signed book plate mailed directly to you plus. . .
• Free signed bookmarks to share with your friends
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT DRIVEN
Driven is a new take on the age old battle of good versus evil. Gripping from the first page, this is one book you won’t want to put down.
–Leanna Kay, co-creator of www.samiesisters.com – a place for Christian girls to grow in faith.
Driven is a breathtaking book of tension, intrigue, and heartwarming emotion. From the moment I began to read until the very last word, I couldn’t put it aside. It held me enthralled!
–Lindsay Below, author of Head Over Hand-Bought Heels
Oily creatures of the night are seeking to destroy a group of teens at Brookfield Central High School. Their primary target? A resilient teenage girl who refuses to question her calling. But how much guilt, how much pain, and how much accusation can one human take? Laced with other-worldly plot threads akin to Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, Shellie Neumeier’s debut novel inspires followers of Christ to stand strong in God’s calling regardless of tragic circumstances. Along the way she explores tragedy in friendships and the beauty of redemption.
–Caleb Jennings Breakey, Refining Teen Writers into Rockstars www.CalebBreakey.com
In the tradition of This Present Darkness and The Screwtape Letters, Driven pulls back the veil between worlds and reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan and his minions. But the journey of Robyn and her friends against both physical and spiritual enemies also illustrates the more exciting truth: that ultimate victory rests with our God.
–Anne Mateer, author of Wings of Dream, September 2011.
Purchase a copy today (3/1/11) and receive the following free e-gifts from some fabulous authors:
Sunday night was a thrill, wonderful food, great company, good books, fun folks ... oh and I launched Oliver Phommavanh's new title for Penguin Books Con-Nerd at Shearer's Bookshop on Norton.
Heather, Oliver, Chris
Many of Oliver's family and friends were there and there was FOOD. and as a side note it is a good thing to go to an Oliver launch - there is always food.
As I said during my chat, at first I wondered a little why Oliver wanted me to launch his book but after reading it I most definitely knew why. It was about ME - well it could have been me in the book, nerdy kid with mega thick glasses who lives in the library at school and whose family really drives education (as only the Chinese can - although luckily I didn't have to go to too many extra coaching classes), and honour and earning lots of money by being a doctor or lawyer but definitely not, as in Connor's case, by being an artist (or for me a children's author).
Heather, CC, Bini (photo thanks to Wendy Blaxland)
But as mentioned it was a thrill launching the book and also catching up with Heather, Oliver's editor who is my wonderful friend from the days when we both worked at Taronga.
Had lots of fun so many thanks Oliver for asking me to launch your great book. As I also said at the launch I read this in nearly one sitting (I did need to take a short break during the reading) so it must be good and full of Oliver's zany humour. And that photo of Bini above ... there is a wonderful book on the bookshelf right behind her left ear ... and no, the author did not place it face out or position it that way!
Last year, I was involved in an anthology project that changed my life forever. My essay, "Creative Awakening," was published in Speaking Your Truth: Courageous Stories From Inspiring Women.
This motivational women’s anthology holds heartfelt stories told by courageous women. The topics include healing, love, family matters, faith, spirituality, self-discovery and creativity. Each story contains a message meant to empower and encourage other woman to reach out and speak their truths.
On October 14, 2011, I held a book launch for my new novel for 9-13 year olds, Count Me In, as part of the 10th annual Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. It was held at the Whistler Public Library.
The book features Tabitha, who hikes to Lake Lovely Water with her cousins, Ashley and Cedar. Tabitha is less than thrilled about hiking, and even less excited about spending time with her cousins who seem to be set on making her life miserable.
We had a great turn out, with 40 people attending, ranging from small kids to adults. As I was part way through my introduction of the book, a seven-year-old boy called out, “Just start reading!” So I did. When I stopped and asked if there were any questions, he called out again, “Yeah, when are you going to read some more?”
Once I satisfied his need to hear the story, we had a lively conversation about the book and writing for children, followed by refreshments and book signing. Dan Ellis, owner of our amazing local bookstore, Armchair Books, attended and sold books. Thanks to him and the gang at Orca for helping to make the event a success!
Learn more about Count Me Inon the Orca Book Publishers website.
First, thank you to everyone for everything- from the bottom of my heart!
I appreciate all the tweets and emails and notes last week. The support and encouragement. I was actually so overwhelmed by you all that I had to step away from my computer that day. I cried, I laughed, and I silently thanked each of you.
I promised I'd be honest with you guys on everything. But before I say anything else - I just want to say this.
I could not have done it without you guys - the bloggers and my online peeps. YOU made this book successful - not me. I could never have done this alone. YOU got the word out and YOU supported me. This community is amazing and I owe my great day to you. So thank you.
I hope my debut has shown each of you what one person can do on their own. That no matter what - DONT give up because there are many, many different paths you can take. And sometimes I know it might feel like you are on the wrong path or stumbling up the right path - but in the end - just know that we all take different routes and we all get there in different ways.
Some run up the path and don't even trip. Some walk slowly so they don't trip and then there are others - like me - who trained for the run, met all the right people, and tried to sprint it the fastest. Only to fall down, get back up, trip over a rock (how did that get there?) and tumble down again, get tripped by someone (you know who you are! ;) , and are pushed and stepped on. And then manage to still get on your feet and keep going.
That even through the scraped knees, sore muscles, and exhaustion - I never gave up. I kept getting up and I kept moving on. yes I cried. yes I yelled. I even cursed a few people (forgive me!) but one thing I did - was never let them convince me that my dream was over. I just redefined my dreams along the way. And last week - I took back control and made them mine again.
After all that - last week's successful debut was what I won in the end. So worth it. Because writing is never about the money or the fame. It is never about getting the biggest deal. Writing is about how I feel, my passion, what I have to say, and reaching goals for myself so I can grown. But most of all, I've made new friends over the last few months, I've seen how the industry can rally around someone, and those things have meant the most.<
When Jenny Stubbs, Festival Coordinator Extraordinaire, told me I had a slot to launch ”All in the Woods” I was ecstatic! It was my first book to be published in the UK and a launch venue at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, Woodlands, was almost too good to be true. Jenny facilitated a link to Aleesa Darlison who agreed to MC. BRILLIANT! What could go wrong?
The Ipswich Festival is always an exciting event! It is held at Woodlands, a stunning, heritage listed venue set amongst rural fields, magnificent trees and rolling hills – what a setting for a launch! The lead up to the day, Tuesday, 13th September 2011, was a real buzz! Then the unthinkable happened… The weekend before, my throat started to get that irritating little scratch and that niggly cough that sometime precedes worse. Sunday night it started to hit! Laryngitis!
Friends, good friends can be the saving of such worst case scenarios. I spoke (whilst I still had a voice) to Tara Hale, who designed the promo poster, would she be Guest Artist “Pink” the possum [cousin of "Ink" the animal hero of my book]. Next I contacted Nooroa Te Hira, he has worked as a tour guide so I knew he would ace a reading of my book. Then I rang Christian Bocquee and asked would he help with nitty grittys like directing teachers and students to seats, distributing prizes and being event photographer! Bless them, they all ‘volunteered’ unstintingly!
Result? Fun, fun, fun! We had a ball, the book launch was a total success! The author having to use copious amounts of sign language but, hey, she has 5 kids so she speaks the lingo with hands and fingers!
You can see some of the fun in the gallery below. [Sadly, Pink, being a nocturnal creature, was shy of the camera flash and hid!]
And the book, which was illustrated by wonderful watercolourist Linda Gunn? It had been a truly international effort – written by an Aussie, illustrated by an American and published by a Brit! The icing on the cake was a nomination for the OPSO Award!
Last week was hot, but this week will be even hotter! We've got N.A. Nelson in the house all week for the launch of her debut novel Bringing the Boy Home!Whoo hooo!
"I've seen what the world does to the weak. It'll eat you alive."
Tirio was cast out of the Takunami tribe at a very young age because of his disabled foot. But an American woman named Sara adopted him, and his life has only gotten better since. Now, as his thirteenth birthday approaches, things are nearly perfect. So why is he having visions and hearing voices calling him back to the Amazon?
Luka has spent his whole life preparing for his soche seche tente, a sixth-sense test all Takunami boys must endure just before their thirteenth birthday. His family's future depends on whether or not he passes this perilous test. His mother has dedicated herself to making sure that no aspect of his training is overlooked . . . but fate has a way of disturbing even the most carefully laid plans.
Two young boys. An unforgiving jungle. One shared destiny.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: N.A. NELSON
N.A. Nelson was born in London, England and grew up on a cattle farm in rural Missouri. Living on a thousand acres of wilderness provided plenty of opportunities for adventure, but it also created a sense of wonderment about what else was out here. After graduating with a degree in tourism, the author strapped on a backpack and has been exploring the world ever since. Recent journeys include the jungles of the Amazon and the glaciered peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
How the book came about: “The idea for this story came from an experience I had while staying at a scientific research camp in Brazil. On my second night there, I developed a stomachache and asked our guide, Juan Diego, for some local medicine. He translated my problem to the camp cook, who grabbed a machete, went into the woods, chopped some leaves off a tree and brewed me a mild flavored tea.
As the cook handed me the cup, I realized that I was about to drink the same tea that he prepared for his own family. All of a sudden, the differences between us—our skin color, our country of origin, our place in life—disappeared. We were both just flesh and blood trying to make a sick person feel better. This realization actually became a theme of the book itself and allowed me to write about a culture of which I was not actively a part.
"Told in two distinctive voices, this imaginative and beautifully realized novel, set in the Amazon, tells the story of two boys from the fictional Takunami tribe, who on the eve of their 13th birthdays must endure the soche seche tente, a test of manhood. If a Takunami boy successfully completes this ordeal, he will have warrior status in the tribe and be allowed to meet his father, who psychically guides him during the experience. Tirio, who was ousted from the tribe because of a bad foot, has not been formally trained. But now that his birthday approaches, he has been hearing the voices of his ancestors and knows that despite his lack of preparation, he is being called upon to meet his destiny. Luka, who has spent his childhood working toward this moment under the tutelage of his strong-willed mother, is ready. Their stories connect in a surprising yet totally believable way, giving psychological depth to this richly hued novel about the winding turns of destiny and the bonds between father and son, tribe and family." ~Kirkus Review
I love to be caught off-guard when I’m writing. I pray for those magic moments, especially on days when I’m dragging myself to the keyboard.
My first surprise was when Luka’s sister, Karara showed up:
I was typing away at a scene and out of the corner of my mind, this teen girl walks in carrying a basket on her hip. Her hair was divided into eight braids and she had attitude. I remember thinking “Well, hello, who are you?” And while I typed, she rolled her eyes and flipped her head, and in no uncertain terms let me know exactly who she was. She’s one of the strongest characters in the book and definitely one of my favorites—and she was totally unplanned. Magic.
My second surprise came when I left a gate open in a scene:
Luka was doing a trial run of his “seeing” test and when he gets to the wash area, he notices that the entrance gate of the wash area—usually closed to keep caiman out—is ajar. I have no idea why I wrote it that way, perhaps to create an eerie mood; anyway I went about my merry way and forgot about it. But several months and several chapters later, a friend reminded me during critique group, “You left the gate open back in the Punhana scene; is that going to come into play later?” To which I replied. “Hmmmm, I did, didn’t I? Better figure that out.” And lo and behold, in the next chapter, that gate being open provided the perfect puzzle piece to connect two pieces of the story. Yeah, I planned it that way all along.
My last surprise, was the biggie: how the boys were related:
I had no idea, but I knew I didn’t want to it to be obvious. The truth is, up until a certain point, their stories were not related: Tirio was in Florida and Luka was in the Amazon, so I didn’t have to worry about the relationship. But then, when the time came for their paths to cross, I remember thinking “Oh, man. I really painted myself into a corner here.” So I strapped my 14 month old daughter in the Kelty backpack, leashed up our two Weimaraners, Abby and Eli, (RIP-Eli) and headed for a little wooded trail by our house.
(Not hard to imagine a jungle scene when you’re walking through this, huh?)
This was a well-tread route for me; and it had gotten me out of a lot of “What now?” writer situations. And on this turn in the road: as clear as if I’d planned it all along—the boys’ relationship came to me. And I remember smiling and feeling such a load lift and thinking,
“That’s it. OMG, how perfect, how gosh-darn perfect. That’s it.” Phew!
Ever wanted to go deep into the Amazon but didn't have enough frequent flier miles or bug repellent? Well here's your chance! Join Nina Nelson as she gives you the full tour!
When I was writing Bringing the Boy Home I frequently looked back at the photo album I’d compiled from my vacation to the Amazon back in 2001. I had gone with my husband, my sister and my mother-in-law and it wasn’t hard to recall the sounds, sights and feelings of the rainforest after looking at the below pictures and re-watching the video. We stayed at the Explorer’s Inn Lodge, a research camp on the Rio Tambopata. Interestingly enough, we were the only people staying there except for: two students, the camp cook (from a local village) and the guys who were fixing one of the thatched roofs.
Okay, so let’s start at the beginning:
In Bringing the Boy Home, an anthropologist named Juan Diego picked Sara and Tirio up from the airport and took them to the research camp where they were staying. In reality, a fellow named Juan Diego picked our little group up from the airport and took us to the research camp where we were staying. But he was not a portly anthropologist--rather he was a young, thin research student who was staying at the Explorer’s Inn Lodge and paying for his room and board by playing tour guide. Below you can see the outboard canoes that we rode in for six hours on our way to the lodge. This is what I imagined Sara traveling in when she found Tirio floating down the river and it is also what I imagined the two of them riding in when they returned to the jungle a couple days before Tirio’s thirteenth birthday.
Pic 2 shows me (I’m the one without the mustache) and the “real” Juan Diego. I’m sipping the tea that the camp cook made for my bellyache. After Juan Diego explained that I had an upset stomach (in what I’m assuming was Portuguese) the cook picked up a machete, went out back, returned with a bunch of leaves and brewed me a tea. Half an hour later…I was all better. Cool, huh?
These are the huts where we stayed. No electricity, HUGE water bugs (roaches on steroids for those of you who have never lived down South) that kept leaping out from unexpected places and mosquito netting around the beds. Strangely enough, this looks just like the research camp where I had Sara and Tirio stay when they went back to the Amazon. Hmmmmm. I even have a little (or should I say HUGE) discussion between the two of them about the water bug/roaches!
As for the local party animals:
This is Pablo..or is it Pedro? Anyway, this clown and his swine brother used to be wild piggies but had become semi-tame after being fed scraps from the kitchen. They were a constant source of entertainment for us and I envisioned their antics a lot when I wrote about Sulali’s pet tapir, Tambo.
Another friend of ours was, Willie the Macaw. I used him as my muse for the parrots gnawing at the clay lick leading to Tirio’s tributary. Willie was rescued when some poachers caught him and tried to take him overseas to sell. Juan Diego told us the poachers stuff the baby birds in paper towel rolls and then hide them in their luggage. Grrrrr….I’d like to show those poachers what a paper towel roll stuffing feels like! Anyway, Willie was unable to go back to the wild and now lives at the lodge. Here he is hanging out with my sister.
Here I am feeling like I’m on the movie set of, Honey, I Shrunk the Author. This is a banana leaf. The locals use them as roofing material for their huts. I used them in the book as Mother Nature’s umbrella to shield Tirio from the many downpours I put him through.
And THAT was my experience in the Amazon rain forest. And THAT is what helped me to write Bringing the Boy Home. I just wish I could have added some howler monkeys or birds as background music. I guess you’ll have to go to the Amazon jungle to hear THAT for yourself.
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We recently launched Powers of Persuasion: The Inside Story of British Advertising by Winston Fletcher. Today, I am pleased to be able to bring you an original essay by Winston on the period where the British led the way in the advertising world. Check back tomorrow for photos from the party at London’s Somerset House.
Conventional wisdom has it that America is the home of advertising, where it all began. That is not quite right. Unquestionably America is the world’s largest advertising market, and American advertising agencies now dominate the world. But advertising began in ancient Athens (if not earlier), and advertising agencies started in Britain more than a century before they appeared in the USA. During 1970s and early 1980s British advertising led the world. It did so creatively – but it did so in other ways too, which underpinned the creativity, making it more effective and successful.
The emergence of Britain started slowly. At the Cannes Festival, which was then – and still is – the arbiter of global advertising creativity, Britain was outpaced by the USA throughout the 1960s, and in 1970 and 1971. Then the British climb began. In 1972 British and American advertising agencies took home an equal number of Gold Lions (4 apiece), and Britain won the cinema Grand Prix. The next year Britain won more awards than any other country, though most of these were Silvers.
In 1974 the British Gold rush really got going. That year Britain collected 18 Gold and Silver Lions and the Palme D’Or. In 1975 the festival moved to Venice for a year, and the British trade press headline simply read ‘Venice Goes British’. Come 1976 the festival returned to Cannes and the headline ran: ‘Britain Sweeps The Board’. The Brits had again pocketed the Palme D’Or, plus 10 of the 19 Gold Lions. In 1977 it was ‘Britain Comes Out Best Again’, with the Grand Prix for television and another 6 Gold Lions. Then, in 1978, Britain reached its zenith. The Brits won the Grand Prix for both television and cinema – a rare occurrence – and garnered a massive 80 Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions.
After 5 years at the top, there followed a couple of relatively fallow, but not wholly unsuccessful, years (1979 & 1980). But in 1981 the British made a come back (‘Britain Comes out Best Again’) with more Gold and Silver Lions than any other country. And Britain’s creative leadership continued throughout the first half of the new decade, when it collected 45 Gold Lions against America’s 23.
What caused this burgeoning of British advertising creativity? A combination of factors. Commercial television had begun in Britain in 1955, and for the first two decades British television advertising was dominated by American advertisers – particularly household cleanser and other packaged goods advertisers, whose approach to creativity was strictly formulaic. Every commercial had to abide by the ‘proven rules’. During the 1970s British advertisers started to become much more important in their home markets, and more confident, and allowed British creativity much more freedom. Creativity flowers in freedom. Moreover this occurred against the background of a recovery in Britain’s economic performance, after a long period of economic tribulation. But probably most important of all, there happened to be in London during those years a raft of quite exceptionally talented advertising people, who worked both as colleagues and as rivals to outperform each other creatively, in a highly charged competitive atmosphere.
Additionally, their creativity was underpinned by other developments which also helped British advertising leap ahead. More or less simultaneously, two London agencies (Boase Massimi Pollitt and J Walter Thompson London) invented a new system of campaign development called ‘account planning’. Account planning integrated research into the creative process in a way that had not been done before, and in a way that creative people found far more sympathetic than they had found earlier systems. Account planning spread slowly at first, but it is now generally accepted around the globe as the best way to develop new campaigns.
At the same time, in the mid-1970s. Britain developed the world’s best system of advertising self-regulation – a system that maximises creative freedoms within responsible constraints. And advertising began to be used more and more by British Governments to promote worthwhile social causes, from blood-giving to drink-less driving. Simultaneously Britain began to build what has become the world’s largest advertising archive, ‘The History of Advertising Trust.’ Out of this ferment of activity two commercial giants emerged: Saatchi & Saatchi and the WPP Group. Both joined the world’s advertising leaders, though Saatchi & Saatchi later stumbled and fell.
For the British advertising industry the second half of the 20th century was a heady era – when it reached peaks that it will probably never quite achieve again.
the academy? One of the best parts about being a debut author is getting to write your dedication and the acknowledgements--you know the place where the author thanks everyone including the mailman and sometimes makes little inside jokes or refers to friends with nicknames? And most of us enjoy reading them because they give us a little glimpse into the author's world, and sometimes even into the research for the book.
So who did I thank in my acknowledgements? Pretty much everyone! When it is your first book, you try not to forget anyone because who knows if you'll ever get the chance to again. I imagine by my third book I'll be thanking the inventor of shoelaces or my cat, but for this book it was all about my friends and family and those who've supported me for day 1. And, not only that, but I wanted to include fun little details that were personal and special to me--like my Aunt's bookshelves which were the first place I ran to in her house. And my Granny's map of the world that was filled with colorful pushpins. And then there were my writing friends who helped me with things like the craft of writing or how to prepare a query letter and were there for me through all of the stress, sometimes with Dark Chocolate (aka Edgy Chocolate). And of course, you always want to thank your agent, editor, and the wonderful folks working behind the scenes to make your book an actual book.
Probably the best and hardest part of the acknowledgements was writing the dedication. There was really no question about who to dedicate Undone to. Not only did my father, who supported me 150%, pass away before I even landed an agent, but he was someone who made sure to never leave anything in his life undone. The way he led his life was inspiring, and I know that his influence was what made writing and getting Undone published possible. Yes, it is bittersweet that he can't be here to enjoy this with me, but I know he will always be cheering me on.
Awesome! And we'd love to thank you for spending the week getting to know Brooke and helping celebrate her launch! Be sure to come back next week when we talk with authors, agents, editors, and other publishing professionals as we go through the entire process of taking a story from idea to hardbound book!
That's really the gist of it. My friendliest people: This Wednesday marks the inaugural Bradford launch event: a reading at the New York Public Library! Not only will I be regaling you with a snarkalicious, scandal-filled snippet from book one, GoldenGirl, but you will also get to hear from some other fabu teen authors, including a few personal favorites. (I won't name names. A lady never. Suffice it to say, they are all groove-tastic).
I hope you'll come out to hear the reading, prepped with lots of question-y thoughts and comments. Bonus points (possible bribery involved, in point of fact), if you have an actual teen in tow.
The gory deats:
January 7 -- Teen Author Reading Night (6-7:30, Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL, 425 6th Ave , at 10th St .)
Claudia Gabel, Friends Close, Enemies Closer Bill Konigsburg, Out of the Pocket Micol Ostow, Golden Girl Marie Rutkoski, Cabinet of Wonders Eliot Schrefer, School for Dangerous Girls
Grandma Kernik: Davey, honey? Are you up? School will be starting soon.
Grandma Dolores: Well, David. Would you like some cold cereal?
Grandma Kernik: I don’t understand. How is that a school on your computer? You kids.
Me: It’s an online school, Grandma. You don’t even have to leave the house.
Grandma Kernik: Well, I wouldn’t go out in this old thing anyway.
School’s in for Summer
If you can’t tell from my typing, I’m waiting for video to compress and upload. Even as I enter the home stretch on the Sparky FirepantsDigital Illustration School launch and still intensely fascinated by how awesome it’s turning out to be, I’ve got more fantastic ideas ready to hit the page. As soon as I wrap up the launch, I’ll be moving right into more very exciting and cool things.
Before I go into that, I need to let you know about a special offer on Digital Illustration School. It would be very wrong of me to not let you in on this, since you were nice enough to hang out here today.
The first course in the school will be ready for download on Tuesday, June 2. For the first week that it’s online, I’m having a Grand Opening Special. The rate for the Vector Course Value Pack will be reduced (ok, slashed) for a whole week.
Two things you need to know to take advantage of this:
I’m going to send out a discount code via e-mail. If you want to get the code, you need to sign up on the sitebefore June 2nd.
The sale ends at midnight on June 9th. After that, the price almost doubles.
This is just for the Vector Course Value Pack. The other stuff is priced so cheap I’m almost giving it away as it is.
To recap, that means that for the first week, the price on the Vector Course Value Pack is $175. After June 9th, it goes up to $295 and stays there. Forever.
I don’t know about you, but even as a “creative type” with my limited math skills, that sounds like quite a deal.
If the course isn’t your thing, it’s cool. Maybe you know someone it would be perfect for, in which case you would be an amazing friend if you told that someone about this killer deal. Also in which case you could potentially earn some cash, since I’ll pay a whopping 25% commission if your someone purchases anything on the site. I’m going to set up an affiliate program soon but for now I feel really happy about offering you $43.75 just for helping an artist learn some mad new digital skills.
The next exciting thing being hatched by my madly manic brain is a series of blog posts that will tell you how to get work as an artist.
I was thinking about how I’ve been getting art-type gigs for a really long time now. I was also thinking about how I used to hire people for art gigs. So with all this golden knowledge collecting dust in my noggin, it’s borderline criminal to not share all the inside information.
So I’m kicking off a series of blog posts that tell you how to get work as an artist. I’ll tell you everything. What to say (and not to say) in an art job interview, how to deal with the monotony of production work, and even deep, dark secrets about portfolio reviews that will probably make you angry… but at least you’ll know how it all works.
What about working at a design McJob while you pine away for that glorious freelance illustration career? Yep, I’ll clue you in on that stuff, too. I’ve done it. You can do it. There are just a few things you need to know that your boss isn’t going to tell you.
What about freelance gigs? How to get them, where to get… and where NOT to get them.
Right here, on the blog, read it when you need it.
And I am not talking about the restaurant in Newtown although that is where a shelf of book folks (authors, illustrators, booksellers and Penguins) gathered last night for the PRE-Launch of Oliver Pommavanh's new novel published by Penguin Books called ...
Thai-riffic (photo left with Oliver, his book, and Penguin's education GM Kristin Gill). This is a thai-riffic book - and I know that there will be a stampede for it when it hits the shelves in June. It's filled with humour and will be just the right stuff for 8-12 year olds.
This is another one of the joys of being an author -- being able to celebrate books with other authors and illustrators and industry folk.
And below is a very special photo of Oliver, Me and Oliver's editor Heather Curdie. Heather and I go way way way back. We both worked togehter at Taronga Zoo - where Heather would send me on all these wonderful Public Relations gigs with the animals in the Zoomobile. Who would have thought then that we would BOTH end up in publishing!!! Heather also edited my 30 Amazing Australian Animals (when she was at Random). Always lovely catching up with feather!
Lately the blog posts have been flying out a little late ... including this one ... Here are some happy snaps from the double launch last Friday night at Balgowlah of Kate Forsyth's terrific new title theWidkin's Curse and also her sister Belinda Murrell's book The Ruby Talisman (which my wife tells me is great). Launches are nearly always fun and especially with folks like this ....
the gathering throng
Deb Abela, and Random House publishing folk ... Adiba and Brandon
Deb and more Random House publishing folk including Zoe ... oh and ME too - and we ALL smile !!!
As I made my way to the shop, I was a bit worried: not only were we bang in the middle of the holiday season but, having rained for days, Saturday was really hot & sunny (always tricky for events - who wants to be indoors?). Sure enough, come kick-off, I had only two little girls - oh no!! Fortunately,
several more arrived shortly afterwards, so it wasn't embarrassing. Quite a relief.
This is me preparing to eat a tasty-looking member of the audience...
did a lovely window display for me. Those with eagle-eyes will spot Supermarket Zooalongside my books. That's the latest from my friend Caryl Hart, who is in-store next Saturday, so mark that in the diary.
At the end of the event we sold a surprising amount of books, which helped to offset the modest turnout. I was pleased we sold well, since Waterstones had been great and ordered in tons of stock, not just of Bears on the Stairs but quite a few other titles.
I sat in the shop for another hour, chatting to customers and gradually signing my way through all my stock, so they would keep the books in-store and not send the surplus back to the publishers.