Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

Writing the personal with Lora Inak

DSC 4091Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been in the industry?

I've been writing stories since I was a little girl, but I seriously took pen to paper in 2005/2006 and wrote my first middle-grade fiction called Celia Snoop the Fairytale Detective. Of course, this never saw the light of day, but by then I found I couldn't stop writing. I wrote countless middle-grade and picture books, but it wasn't until I won a place in the 2011 Maurice Saxby Mentorship Program and found my voice as a YA writer that I started to write my first YA novel, Unspoken Rules, which was later published by Rhiza Edge in 2017.

Describe your typical work desk.

My typical work desk is pretty much my laptop, which often lives on my dining room table, but also at times travels to my favourite cafes. Between fulltime work, two young children and the chaos of life in general, I often write when and where I can, so you might see me having a latte at my favourite cafe on a Sunday morning, or at my local library after hours. Basically, it's an hour here, a few hours there, and anytime I can find in between. It's not ideal, but for now, for me, it works.

Culture and identity are prominent themes in your book. What interests you most about these topics?

These topics interest me because they are strong themes in my own life. My family immigrated here in the early 1980s from Turkey, and I spent my youth and teenage years walking a swaying cultural tightrope. I often found myself conflicted, attempting to understand where I fit in the world, at school, at home, within my community.

For these reasons, cultural conflict is close to my heart and I love exploring all the implications and impacts of culture and cultural differences within a YA setting in my work. Culture encompasses so much from food, to celebrations and traditions, to family expectations and religion — the scope is broad with endless fodder to ponder and explore.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader, especially with a teenage audience?

I'm always mindful that teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood yet are often still somewhat naïve and innocent about life. They come to things fresh, with so many firsts, a great deal to learn and experience. I instill this, in differing degrees, into my characters. I will of course always sense-check my work through my wonderful writerly friends, who I trust will be honest with me. All this helps me to shape my characters and stories so that I'm not overstepping or oversimplifying.

What is your top tip for writing stories that draw on personal experience?

I believe that every writer, to some degree, needs to delve into themselves, into their own experiences, feelings, beliefs and thoughts to find that topic or idea that energises them the most. For some, these ideas/thoughts will become a paranormal romance, for others a picture book, but regardless, my tip is to fearlessly delve right in. Find what turns your dial and then build characters and worlds to explore that.

If you could live a day in a literary character's shoes, which one would you choose?

I grew up wanting to be Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables so I would 100% choose her. Her ability to stay positive and hopeful even when the world around held so much bitterness and ugliness, so many scrapes and drama, so much judgment and tribulations, was amazing and inspirational. I've always tried to approach my own life with the same attitude.

Describe your panel for the Wombat Books conference.

I am so honoured to be on a panel with Aunty Ruth Hegarty and Kate Gordon that discusses the role personal experience has played in our writing. I was a massive fan of Kate's Girl Running, Boy Falling, which deals with the confronting topic of youth suicide, and I was fascinated by Aunty Ruth's Is That You, Ruthie?, an account of her time as a dormitory girl. They are both amazingly talented and beautiful writers.

For more great panels like Lora's, book your tickets for the conference now! Click the link below for more information.

Conference Tiles Writing the Personal

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Next installment in the Motive Games series released!

Next installment in the Motive Games series released!

Follow-up to the award-winning Motive Games just released!

The standalone sequel to the award-winning, Motive Games, by LD Taylor was released on 1 November by our new imprint Rhiza Press. Motive Games 2: Death Down Under, follows teenager, Phil Roland, and his videogame-production company across the world from Canada to New Zealand where the company is once again under threat.

Motive Games mysteries are fast-paced, high-tech thrillers enriched by thought-provoking themes. The first book, Motive Games, won the 2011 CALEB Prize for best Young Adult Manuscript and was a YA book silver medal-winner in the 2014 Literary Classics Book Awards in the USA.

'Having spent six months in a New Zealand police station, working as a university researcher, gave me an excellent opportunity to learn the ins and outs of crime investigation in my new country. I love the fact that I can give my readers 'true-to-life' glimpses into fascinating worlds (game development and murder investigation) and cultures (Canadian and Kiwi) that they might not otherwise be familiar with.

Social Rewards Programme
Readers who blog, tweet, Google + or write a FB comment about Motive Games 2: Death Down Under are eligible to receive a free enhanced ebook of the first story in the Motive Games series. In order to receive their reward, readers simply need to use the hashtag #motivegames with their social media post.


About Motive Games
In Canada, Phil Roland is a hero: he saved his dad's company, Motive Games; solved his dad's murder; and exposed a mafia ring. But by his second day in Auckland, Phil's life is out of control. The E3 East gaming show was supposed to be Motive's big chance to get published. Instead, people are blaming Phil for a controversial FPS; someone's hacked Motive's game; and Australian mega- distributer, PFG, is threatening to ruin the company. The guy whose name keeps popping up? PFG president, Bailey Kant. Thanks to Kant, Phil is dodging the press and protestors and being trailed by the mysterious girl in green.


Then a PFG exec turns up dead. An exec anyone could have mistaken for Kant. Now Phil and friends have 48 hours to solve the mystery... or watch their dreams die down under.


About LD Taylor
LD Taylor broke into the world of young adult fiction in 2011, after a successful and prolific career writing for the entertainment technology industry. In the award-winning Motive Games Taylor combined her in-depth knowledge of the game industry with her passion for mystery novels. Today, Taylor expands the Motive Games series, from her home in Whangarei, with the help of her daughter, sons and programmer husband.

Motive Games 2: Death Down Under is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Verindon Trilogy complete! Win the final book!

Verindon Trilogy complete! Win the final book!

The final book in the popular Verindon Series: The Reign has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below about how music inspires you to go into the draw!

Music: a writer’s muse...

When Lynne Stringer writes, music is a constant inspiration.

With the upcoming release of The Reign, the third and final book in the Verindon Trilogy, Lynne talked about how much music helped her write.

“Each of my books so far have featured a ‘playlist’,” she said. “A playlist is like a soundtrack. I often have scenes laid out to a particular piece of music and I play them together in my head, with the piece of music accompanying the action.”

So strong is the voice of the music, Lynne has changed scenes to fit them.

“In The Heir there is a scene near the end which I had already written. Then I heard Muse’s Map of the Problematique and imagined the scene with the song. So powerful did the influence of that piece of music become, I adapted the scene to fit it more effectively.”

A similar thing happened in the second book in the trilogy, The Crown, with another of Muse’s songs: Glorious.

“Muse has definitely been a huge inspiration for me where writing it concerned. Their music is so emotive and is a great aid in the creative process.”

It also happens prior to writing. When Lynne was considering ideas for the story that became The Reign, a song helped make one scene come to life.

“I wasn’t completely sure where it was going, but I let Thom Yorke’s Hearing Damage inspire my imagination. It wasn’t long before I had the whole scene worked out in my head.

“I think music will always play a part in my writing. I’d like to thank all the artists out there for inspiring me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!”

The playlists for Lynne’s books can be found on the Verindon Trilogy’s website: www.verindon.com.

The Reign is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

 

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An interview with Lisa Taylor

An interview with Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor graduated (eons ago) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada with a BA in English Literature and History. Shortly after she began a lengthy career in marketing for the 3D graphics and animation software industry. In 2010, she and her family immigrated to New Zealand. They brought with them a family project, a manuscript actually, entitled Motive Games. The story combined one of her teenage sons’ interests (videogames) with one of her own (mystery novels). In 2011 the manuscript won the Caleb Prize in the Young Adult category and was published in 2012 by Wombat Books. The book is now being offered as a bundle: purchase of the print book comes with a free copy of the enhanced ebook.

Lisa is currently working on a sequel to Motive Games, working title: Kiwi Games. Taylor and her family live like pioneers in New Zealand’s Northland, taunting their family back in Canada with photos of exotic locally grown fruits and snowless winters.

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being an author – as opposed to a writer or editor – is awesome because I get to write about the things that interest me. (I admit that 3D graphics and animation… never interested me that much, hey wait… I’m still writing about those… hmmm.) I also get to write in a style of my choosing (though there are boundaries). Then there’s the challenge of writing fiction. I love it. There’s so much more “art” involved as compared to writing non-fiction (though that has its artistic side as well).

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

It’s the same as being self-employed in anything: it takes discipline. This means disciplining oneself to set aside the time for writing as well as disciplining oneself not to cut corners. In other words, I’ve got to do the research to get the facts right, the technique right, the editing (multiple passes) right…

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

I play the flute (local sinfonia) and sing (local choir). I also read stories to my kids (yes, even the big ones) and go out exploring/travelling. I used to garden for fun but that’s become less fun and more serious since my son started a horticulture business (though, did I tell you I planted banana trees the other day… oh the joy!)

Question 4: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

My first audience is my children (ages 10-22) as well as my husband (the technical genius behind my stories). They often get their friends involved as well.

Question 5: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

It pains me to admit it now (having revisited them as an adult) but it was the Nancy Drew mysteries. The writing is abysmal, but it obviously had an enormous influence on me: I’m now the one writing mystery stories starring teenage heroes.

Question 6: What is your favourite children’s book now?

Wow… there’s SO many children’s books I love. The Chronicle’s of Narnia rank high as does A Wrinkle in Time (and most of the rest of the series). I’ve been listening to an audiobook of Watership Down recently and thoroughly loving it. Part of me would love to write more literary children’s fiction (that’s why I can’t resist sneaking in the literary/historical allusions in my own writing… though I try to hide them).

Question 7: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

I officially became an author overseas (Aussie is overseas for me). I’ve certainly travelled a good deal as a “writer/marketer” including the US (no biggie when you’re Canadian), Europe and Japan. I’d love to travel to them as an author some day.

Question 8: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

Being in an adjunct of the film industry you meet lots of famous people… but not authors so much. I was once cc’d on an email to Bill Gates (when I worked for Microsoft) and was jazzed about that for about a month. I’ve met and worked with Academy-Award winning technology makers (including my husband… though we’ve misplaced Oscar at the moment). I’ve been in the same room as starlets (like Kate Hudson) and danced onstage with Smash Mouth (long story… don’t ask). Still, the people who have made the greatest impression on me have been the quiet, faithful men and women of God I’ve met over the years. They’ve got no blog, no books, no podcasts and yet, they have made a more profound impact on the people God has brought into their sphere than most of us.

Question 9: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Natural child birth. That and keeping my children (especially Sean) alive into adulthood.

Question 10: What book are you reading right now?

The Long Winter (Little House on the Prairies series), Operation Foxtrot Five (deferred until I’ve done the first draft of my current story), Owls in the Family, and Teen Sex by the Book (goes with a workshop my husband and I give to teens). I actually try to stay away from my own genre (YA) when I’m writing because I know that I become very easily influenced by the writing styles I’m reading. Speaking of writing… gotta run.

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The YA reading revolution

Reading seems to be an ‘in’ thing for young adults at the moment. It’s easy to see even when I look in a department store. YA books are usually clearly displayed. Many of them are being made into movies. That’s another thing that tells you how big reading is at the moment. Movie moguls don’t waste money on products that don’t sell.

We should rejoice that young adults are enjoying the reading experience so much. It’s great to see that it’s ‘cool’ and I hope it continues.

However, I have noticed a tone of concern with some parents who have approached me about the YA books that we publish. A couple of times lately parents have said, ‘What’s in this book? Is there bad language? Is there any sex?’

I have heard this concern expressed by a number of people in the industry as well. When it comes to YA books, restraint in these areas seems to have gone out the window. There doesn’t seem to be any hesitation in loading these books with all kinds of explicit content and putting them into the eager hands of teenagers.

Some may say that teens already familiar with all these things, so we shouldn’t hesitate to put it in to keep it ‘real’, but does that mean it should be this way? Were teens so educated in these things before we provided them in books? I don’t know, but my conversations with parents have made it clear that some of them, at least, want some restraint shown.

For the record, the books we publish keep a firm moral compass when it comes to these things. Any content that is included in our books will not be explicit. If you would like more information on the content of any of our titles, especially those for young adults, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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