A Sharp Whack on the Knee is the Universe Speaking to Me

The_center_Galaxy_of_Cat's_Eye (2)

I wanted to write a novel. It’s been on my Life Goals list since I was about 14 and started making Life Goal lists. Last year the time was right to make a proper effort. I had a basic idea for a dystopian story set in a school that is a sinister microcosm of society. I had character names, ideas for plot developments, twists, obstacles etcetera but I knew I was not ready to write it. I mean, I’d never written a novel before. My notebooks were filling with tidbits and treasures but I didn’t want to stuff it all up by writing a piece of diatribe-laced dribble. So what to do?

I would write a practice novel. One that would teach me about the writing process. I knew some basic creative writing fundamentals as outlined annually by The English Teacher (see post) however knowing them did not automatically translate into any said literary skill.

A few random sections of text were written. A few joining bits were added and by about chapter nine, I had discovered the characters’ names. I also learnt that the storyline I had imagined was not as simple as I thought it was going to be.

Before I was aware of what was happening I had completely and utterly fallen in love with writing. Losing myself in the writing process was exhilarating and totally unexpected. Several times I stumbled out from my writing cave to exclaim to the hubby, ‘I can’t believe what just happened in my story!’ Cue blank look from hubby followed by reassurances from me that, yes, I was the one actually writing this tale. The story took on a life of its own – I found myself discovering it as it emerged on the page. This probably breaks numerous rules about writing and planning. Indeed The English Teacher constantly badgers the class with the adage, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Shhh, *whispers* don’t tell the kiddlets!

During the initial drafting process I didn’t want to share with many people that I was writing a novel or that I was writing a novel for teenagers. I became shy and nervous and when I did talk about it I tended to do it while staring intently at the ground with a slightly manic grin on my face.

Just over four and a bit months later, the first draft was done and the editing began. Six months later I entered Pitcharama 2014 hosted by the wonderful team at Aussie Owned and Read and was privileged to be selected for the first round. The editor round blew my expectations so far out of the water that I walked around in a daze for ten minutes contemplating whether or not I was hallucinating the responses. Once the daze wore off the excitement began. The excitement of a child who has consumed copious amounts of chocolate and red candy. I could not sit still to focus on my computer screen.

The adrenaline buzz was overwhelming. Forget jumping out of a plane, give me some minor interest from a publishing company and I become invincible. Thankfully the universe centred me quickly. A sharp whack to the knee (that may or may not have involved an incident with a skateboard *cough*) was my reminder to settle down, breathe and put all this in perspective. Yes, I’d had interest and some ms requests but that was only one small step on a long journey to publication. I limped back to my desk and calmly set about sending some emails.

So where am I now with this journey? I am waiting. I have a feeling that this is a big part of the process. I’ve learnt about rejection and how I deal with it. I’ve learnt to expect it but also to hope for the best. I will continue to wait as patiently as I can while learning more about writing.

It’s hard to believe it has only been a year since I first sat down to write. Now, I’m writing my second novel, I have a blog and have even joined twitter. Best of all, I learnt something wonderful: writing thrills me. It tells me I am alive and that within the words on my page, anything is possible. In a world that constantly feels out of my grasp, here is somewhere I have control. Somewhere I am completely happy.

Image credit: “The center Galaxy of Cat’s Eye” by JPL – JPL NASA. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Review and Author Interview – Isla’s Inheritance

I’ve finally read Isla’s Inheritance and not only do I have my review to share, I also have an interview with the author and a giveaway. 


Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page

Genre: Young adult urban fantasy

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press

Release date: 9 October 2014

Summary from Goodreads:

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.


Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.


My thoughts:

Isla’s Inheritance is an urban fantasy coming of age story about Isla, a girl who’s family heritage turns out to be more complicated than most.

I’ve been hanging out to read this one and was interested to see how the Aussie capital would fair as backdrop for a fantasy story. Page easily made Canberra as plausible a place as anywhere for a fae story. The characters connected and the dynamics of the fae world were intriguing. I have picked a ‘team’ and really hope that ‘my’ side wins later in the series. I’m a Dominic fan (rather than Jack) and hope to see his character develop more in book two.

This was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to book two.


Interview with Cassandra Page, author of ‘Isla’s Inheritance’

Can you tell us a little about ISLA’S INHERITANCE?

It’s a young adult urban fantasy set in Australia, and is about a girl named Isla (surprise!). Isla’s seventeen and a bit of a sceptic, in that she always looks for the sensible, mundane explanation for things—something her single-parent father has always encouraged. At a Halloween party, she agrees to take part in a séance because a hot guy she used to have a crush on wants to go; it’s a shock to her when the “spirit” they contact claims her mother isn’t actually dead, as she’s always been told. Of course, she doesn’t believe it at first, and is quickly distracted by said hot guy, whose name is Dominic.

Of course, that’s when things start to get interesting. 😉

Isla’s Inheritance is the first book in a trilogy. The other two books are coming out in the first third of 2015, which is both exciting and utterly terrifying! Getting everything ready is going to be a bit of a mad rush, but the flipside is that readers won’t have to wait years between instalments. GRRM, I’m looking at you!

I notice you write using Australian English spellings. Is the book written that way too?

Yes, it is. Even though Turquoise Morning Press is based out of the USA, the team decided that since the story is set in Australia, it would be more authentic to use Australian spelling and terms where possible. However, I did try and choose words that had common meanings, to minimise the chaos and confusion for readers. As an example, a thong in Australia is a type of shoe that I’m told is called a flip flop in the US. We’d never say flip flop here but, on the other hand, given what a thong is in other parts of the world, I didn’t really want people to get mixed up! There have been a few different decisions like that.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Writing the last few chapters of a book, definitely. I’ve drafted four now, and that’s always been the best part of the experience. It’s such a heady rush, seeing all the plot threads come together and the plot accelerate. Also, usually by that point I’m doing mean things to my characters, which is always fun!

The other thing is that it takes me a long time to write a first draft—somewhere between six and nine months—so it’s always satisfying to reach the end of that process. I’m a single mother and work full time, so I have to squeeze in my writing where I can: after my son’s in bed, on lunch breaks, that sort of thing. I also do a lot of plotting (and scheming) in the car.

Given the reference to iron in the blurb, it’s not a surprise to learn the “fantasy” part of your urban fantasy relates to the fae, which are part of European mythology. How did your fae come to be in Australia?

I decided very early on in the drafting process that I didn’t want cute Disney elves. Not that I have a problem with Disney—I’m a mum and therefore know the Frozen soundtrack verbatim—but I felt something darker than Tinker Bell suited young adult readers better. My ruling class of fae are renowned for their vanity, and their cruelty to those in their service. As a result, the fae in Australia are almost all refugees of one kind or another: “lesser” fae who want to live free of oppression.

Where in Australia are the books set?

They set in Canberra, Australia’s capital, which is, in some ways, an overgrown country town. What that means is we have a lot more green spaces than either Sydney or Melbourne do: reserves running through suburbs; low mountains covered in walking trails and with lookouts perched on top; parks for the kids to play.

It’s a great place to set a story when your supernatural population likes green spaces. Werewolves and fairies in particular would love it here—there are places with hardly any iron or steel, and green corridors a wolf could sneak through. I wondered at first whether setting a supernatural tale here would somehow lack credibility. But then I thought, if Sookie Stackhouse can run into vampires in a tiny town like Bon Temps, why can’t Canberra have its own supernatural stories, that element of magic?

When I see the sunlight sparkling off the surface of Lake Burley Griffin on a crisp autumn afternoon, or the glittering lights of the city from Mount Ainslie at dusk, I think that magic is already there. All I’m doing is telling people about it.


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Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Although there are many fictional places I’d like to visit (Sunnydale, Middle Earth, Alagaesia to name a few), I’ve chosen to list real places that books have made me want to visit (or revisit).

1. Scotland – Outlander Series


2. Tasmania – The Potato Factory

Courtenay’s vivid description of the Tasmanian landscape left me with high expectations. When I finally travelled to Tassie, the scenery was just as spectacular as I’d imagined.


3. New Zealand – The Lord of the Rings

Okay, so this is blurring the book/film boundaries but how great would it be to do a LOTR tour of New Zealand?


4. Lyme Regis in Dorset, England – Remarkable Creatures

I would love to wander along the shore line and pretend that I was Mary Anning.


5. Prague – Daughter of Smoke and Bone


6. New Orleans – Interview With the Vampire


7. Oxford, England – Discovery of Witches

So much history to see! And how wonderful would it be to visit the Bodleian Library?


8. Venice – Othello

When travelling in Venice, it was easy for me to understand why Shakespeare set his play in this beautiful city.


9. Paris – Anna and the French Kiss

Though I travelled to Paris 15 years ago, reading this made me want to return and to live in the city of love.


10. Eden Valley, Australia – The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

I’ve heard they have an amazing bakery.


So that’s my list. What about you? Do you have any places you would like to visit after reading about them?