Archive for November, 2011

Interview with Lara Morgan

Today we’re joined by Lara Morgan, author of The Rosie Black Chronicles, which includes Genesis and the latest book, Equinox.  We caught up with Lara to ask her about Rosie Black, future technology and the best things about being a writer.

  • What five words would you use to describe The Rosie Black Chronicles?

Dystopian thriller with romantic elements

  • What idea/s did the Rosie Black Chronicles grow from?

Essentially from my interest in climate change and how it will affect us in the future, and what I see as a growth in the power and influence of massive corporations within our political and social structure. I wanted to explore what kind of future could arise if we didn’t regulate the way we are going now and the world of Rosie Black is the result of that. I’m also interested in space travel and the possibility of outer planet colonisation so I threw that in the mix as well.

  •  Who is the character of Rosie Black based on?

No one in particular. Rosie has elements of my teenage self in her, but she is also a creation of the world she’s come from – the future Earth. I’m very much interested in the psychology of people, how they become who they are so the type of person Rosie is comes from the experiences she’s had as she’s grown ie losing her mother, being poor in a broken world, as well as just her innate self. I believe in strong rounded characters so I tried to create that in Rosie.

  • If you could have one piece of technology from Rosie’s world, what would it be?

Space ships – her Aunt Essie’s little ship would be a very cool thing to have. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of travelling through space.

  • Who is your favourite author/childrens author?

That is a very hard one to answer, but one of my favourites is Ursula Le Guin, especially her Earthsea stories.

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

It’s what gives me the most satisfaction. I’ve always been a daydreamer and writing is just a way of getting those dreams out of my head and onto the page. I just love making up stories and never feel as at peace as when I can get up from my desk at the end of the day and feel I’ve achieved something.

  • What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?

Best is definitely being my own boss and being able to work from home in my pyjamas. The worst is the need to promote yourself. These days being writer means having to be good at self promotion as well as promoting your work, building a known name, and that means talking yourself up at events and gatherings and that doesn’t come naturally to me, or I think most writers.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Make sure you finish what you start. I’ve spoken to many aspiring writers who focus too much on fine tuning a first chapter, or first few chapters, before they’ve finished writing the story all the way through to the end and that is a fine way to ensure you never finish anything. And you can’t get unfinished work published. It is hard and the temptation is to think that if you just get the first bit right then the rest will be easier, you’ll have a better idea, but really that only works for a minute amount of people. Usually the best way to get the story right is to write it all the way through to the end, not worrying too much about how some things might not quite make sense, or some metaphors are terrible, or your dialogue sucks, but going forward anyway until you finish it. Then you go back and start to refine it. You have to allow yourself the room to make mistakes in the first draft safe in the knowledge that only you will see it. And I mean no one else, really, don’t show it to anyone, not even your mum. That’s what works for me anyway – and for many, many other writers. And read everything. Writers read, it’s essential.

Check out Lara’s Facebook page to find out more about the Rosie Black Blog Tour

Join Lara tomorrow on the Booksellers New Zealand blog.

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Guest Post: Brian Falkner – Alien Invasion!

When I was a young reader the two kinds of books I most liked were science fiction, and the thrillers of Alistair McLean.

It so happened that a year or so ago my glance fell on a copy of “Where Eagles Dare” by Alistair McLean, and the idea popped into my head to combine my two favourite kinds of books. So I set out to write an Alistair McLean inspired science fiction war thriller. I even named the first chapter “Where Angels Fear” as a tribute to McLean.

I wanted to write a book that was exciting and action-packed from the get-go, and didn’t let up until the very end. Yet at the same time I wanted to have characters that seemed believable and interesting. I have read other “action-packed” books where the characters were just a flimsy excuse to move the action from one scene to the next, and I didn’t want to write that kind of book, because I want the reader to care about the characters.

When I started developing the idea for the book, I quickly realised that it was too big for a single book, and it would have to be a series, each with their own story. I eventually decided on four books, although I have left it open to write more books if I want to later.

I wanted to write a series of war stories, but I didn’t want it set so far in the future that it became Space Opera, with laser guns and spaceships. (I love Star Wars and those kinds of stories, but I wanted this to be different.) I wanted this to be more like a real war, with weapons that were close to those we have now, but just a little bit futuristic. I wanted the conflict to seem real, and the introduction and the forward are all part of setting the scene for a realistic war, that just happens to be against aliens, not human beings.

For the name of the alien race, I wanted harsh sounds, and it had to include a Z (you’ll understand why, if you read the book). After trying out a lot of names, I was eventually inspired by the word “Buzzard” which conjures up images of an ugly, carrion-eating bird. So the aliens became “Bzadians” which incorporates the same sounds.

Writing “Assault” the first book of the Recon Team Angel series, was a wild ride, and I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.

Pictured are the NZ and the US covers.



You can read Chapter One of The Assault here.

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Dragon’s Breath by E.D. Baker

This is the fourth book in the Frog Princess series by E. D. Baker. The series goes like this: A Prince Among Frogs, Dragon Kiss, The Frog Princess, Dragon’s Breath, The Dragon Princess, Once Upon A Curse, No Place for Magic, and Salamander Spell.

In Dragon’s Breath, Emerelda, Eadric and Grassina go on a quest to save Haywood from ‘otter-hood’. On the way they face many challenges and threats. But something terrible will happen concerning a family curse and a grumpy old witch …! My favourite part is when they meet Ralf, the dragon, and fight the Giant spider, as frogs – I thought this was interesting and scary because I HATE SPIDERS!

My favourite character was Ralf. Ralf is a dragon who is blue as well as being a young dragon prince whose grandfather is King Grumble Snort.

I really liked how this book is a real adventure and not just a normal fairy tale where five minutes later, they get married! It also doesn’t have the usual gender stereotypes fairy tales have.

I recommend it for 8-13 years old and I give it a 10 out of 10.

Alice from the Queenspark Noses In Books group.

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Beastly by Alix Flinn

I AM A BEAST. A BEAST! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.  You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever-ruined-unless i can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly……..BEASTLY.”

This book is a modern version of “Beauty and the beast” It is a romantic book and is much better than the movie (Like most books/movies) It tells you a good lesson too. Someone’s inside is more important than the outside. Three things that I liked about it were … the good lesson, that it is a modern take on a classic Disney movie, and that it is nicely paced. Its a very good book that I recommend for year 8 up girls, that love romantic stories.


Emma C. from the Queenspark Noses In Books group 🙂

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Gifted Hands, a biography of Ben Carson

Ben Carson is an amazing man, he was the first person to separate conjoined twins joined by the back of the head and complete it successfully. Yet he was told that he would amount to nothing, except life in a jail-cell.

During his childhood his mother had a third-grade education, he had a pathological temper and he lacked motivation. Everything around him said he was a failure, except his mother, for it was her who inspired him and pushed to make something of his life.  This is because she could see the potential hiding in her son, Ben Carson.

Gifted Hands is very inspiring and you will just want to keep reading more and more about his work. The neurosurgery part of the book is what I like the best about it, it gives you lots of interesting detail of the part of surgery no-one really knows about. I found it the best part because it is so very detailed, and just gives you that little bit more of emotion that you don’t get so much of in other non-fiction books.

I would recommend it to people 11+ ( Adults should read it too.)

This book really made me look at my own decisions and inspired me to do things out of my comfort zone. I would read it over and over and over again if I got the chance.

11/10 a personal favourite, if you like this then you might want to try Think Big by Ben Carson himself. ( I’m planning on reading this myself next.)


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Making a Noise

If I came to your school for an author visit, one of the first things you would notice is I like to make a noise. When I visit schools I take along the gong I used for research when I was writing Samurai Kids 1:White Crane. Most of my presentations are in libraries. There’s something a bit radical about being able to make a big noise in the library!

I love to make a noise when I write too. My favourite words are onamotapoeias. An onamatopoeia is word that imitates the sound or noise it is describing. In the Samurai Kids series Sensei Ki-Yaga regularly bangs his gong to get the Kids’ attention so I needed lots of sound words for that. But the most fun I had with onamatopoeias was when I was writing Polar Boy. I knew one of the things that happened on the first page was that Iluak tripped over a pile of pots and pans and attracted the attention of a polar bear. It was a long way away… until it heard the noise.

The best way to find onamatopoeias is to listen to the sound you need. So I took some pots and pans from my kitchen and dropped them off the balcony. They made wonderful sounds. Crash. Bash. Clang. I thought that would make a great start to my novel. But then when I continued researching life above the Arctic Circle, I realised there was no metal there. My story is set 800 years ago, when pots and pans were made out of soapstone, a soft rock. So I took rocks from my garden and dropped them off the balcony. They made a very different sound.

Here is what I heard and how I used it in the first few lines of Polar Boy:


Klunk-tunk. Konk. Tunk.

There are no words in my language to escribe tripping over a fully laden sled and landing with a cooking pot on your head. But that’s the sound it makes. The noise skids across the night to touch the arctic sky.

The onamatopoeias I ultimately used are much more interesting than the first ones I found – because I made them up. Not only can you make up onamatopoeias but you can give them an unusual spelling. Recently I wrote a short story about a boy who lived with dingos. I called the boy Rlph becuase it sounds like a dingo yip and because it looks like the human name Ralph.

But perhaps the best thing about noise words is they are a great way to start a story. They are a real attention grabber. So if you ever get stuck trying to begin a story in class… use words to make a noise

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Christopher Paolini introduces Inheritance

Inheritance, the final book in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle is released worldwide today.  Reserve your copy at the library to find out how the series ends.

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