Archive for March, 2012

Fast Five with Fleur Beale

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

It happened by accident really. Mum was always writing and telling her own stories and when I’d left home she sent me notes from a writing course she went to. I started writing very short stories for Grampa’s Place which was a radio programme for pre-schoolers. Once you start writing, you get hooked.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Being able to be boss of my own world. It’s also a good thing to be if you’re curious because you always want to know more, you want to find out why and how. I fear that I’m horribly curious.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

That’s a hard one! I love Rocco by Sherryl Jordan, The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, See Ya, Simon by David Hill, The Bridge by Jane Higgins, and I admire and adore Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary books. Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam by Juliette McIver is another favourite too. I’d better stop . . .

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I spent a month in London over Christmas and although I greatly enjoyed it, it was wonderful to come home to bright days, green landscapes and space. Yesterday I would have said Wellington’s balmy, beautiful weather, but today there’s a gale force wind again so scrub that. I hugely enjoy being able to go into schools – that’s a real privilege. I love it that the people who write for young adults and children are a friendly and supportive bunch.

5. What book changed your life?

I can’t really claim to have a book that changed my life, although possibly getting my first book published did because it made me want to keep going, to make sure that it hadn’t just been a fluke.

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Living the dream!

So, here’s the thing: I decided I wanted to be a writer, like a proper full-on all-the-time story-type person, when I was 11. Weird. What’s weirder though is that I’m now actually doing it. The dream I had as to what I might do with my life is actually coming kind of true. It messes with your mind, that kind of stuff!

So, here’s the thing, right; if I can do it, think what you can do! It’s easy to dismiss the daft/insane/crazy/bonkers ideas we have, but often, these are the truest bits of ourselves yelling out to be noticed.

Someone once told me I was foolish to keep trying for this crazy writer-dream thing I had. Think how I’d feel if it never happened or if it went wrong or…

Exactly: OR. Because think what would happen if it all actually went right!

I’ve a book coming out (Doom, Rider, remember?) in a few months. The cover is astonishing. I’m utterly thrilled with the story itself (it almost wrote itself). And that simply wouldn’t be happening at all if I’d decided to give up on this whole dream. Yeah, failure is something we all have to deal with, but you know what? We don’t fail all the time, do we? No. We actually win through, as well.

Part of getting anywhere, of achieving anything, is taking a risk. But that’s half the reward. You risk losing or failing or whatever, but the flip side is that unbelievable feeling when everything goes right.

Take a risk. Try it. You might get to like it. After all, look what happened to me, right?

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Fast Five with Johanna Knox

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

When I was about 20, it dawned on me that it was the only thing I could truly spend hours on end doing, week after week, month after month – without getting too bored or frustrated.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I especially like the thinking stages – where you dream stuff up before you get it down in writing. It feels exciting. I love research too, so I gravitate towards writing projects where I have to do some detective work, or learn about new things. Fun in a different way is going over and editing what I’ve already written. When it’s going well (which it isn’t always), it’s very satisfying.

The other great thing about being a writer is that you have a reason – that no one can argue with – to spend a lot of time reading. (Since everyone knows that to get better at writing you have to read a lot.)

3. What’s your favouriteNew Zealandbook?

It changes almost every day, but today it’s The Native Trees of New Zealand by JT Salmon. Every time I open it I go on a mini bush adventure without even leaving my seat.

4. What do you love aboutNew Zealand?

Lots of things. Most importantly, almost all my friends and family are here.

5. What book changed your life?

So many books have in different ways. I was upset and shocked reading books about World War 2 when I was 11 and 12. They changed the way I saw the world.

More happily, when I was younger, the books that coloured my outlook vividly and permanently were often books of fairytales, folk tales, and mythology … For example I adored my Mum’s books of Greek mythology. (She was a classical studies lecturer.)  When you read those ancient, great tales over and over again, you can’t help it – you start to see the themes and story-lines and character types popping up all over the place in your own real life.

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Fast Five with James Norcliffe

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

I discovered quite early on that not only was I able to write, but that I really enjoyed writing. It was one of the few things I was any good at, so a no brainer really.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing about being a children’s writer is that it allows you to go on playing long after most people have stopped.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Probably Maurice Gee’s Plumb.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

Apart from the people I’m close to, the environment we haven’t managed to trash yet. Anywhere, probably near the sea, with trees and a sausage.

5. What book changed your life?

Just one? I’m so impressionable, usually the last book I’ve read has changed my life. The cute answer would be Janet and John because it started me on the reading road. In childhood Tom Sawyer or The Island in the Pines, adolescence it would probably have been The Catcher in the Rye, closely followed by Catch 22. After these, there would be a bit of a catalogue.

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Doom Rider

This year, I’ve got something new and exciting coming out: Doom Rider! With my Dead Trilogy done, I wanted to do something different, but stick with a dark, horror-esque story line. This actually started out as little more than a note at the end of an email to my editor. I didn’t really think anyone would take my idea seriously. A kid who’s been murdered a 1000 times and finds out he’s the first rider of the apocalypse with the power to destroy the world? Really?

From the off, I didn’t want to do something comic. The Apocalypse Riders are great fun to send up, but I wanted to do something serious. And I also wanted to play with the whole notion of free will verses destiny in a world where religion holds sway.

The blurb goes like this: Seth Crow has lived a thousand lives, and in each one he’s been murdered before he turns thirteen. And now he’s being hunted again. But this time it’s different … Enter Lily, who tells him of his fate: Seth is CONQUEST. The first of the four riders of the Apocalypse. And people want him dead, before he can fulfil his destiny. Seth’s only hope lies in finding the other riders – Strife, Famine and Death. Together the fate of the world will be in their hands. The Apocalypse is coming. And the only ones who can save the world, hold the power to destroy it.

Sounds a riot, doesn’t it? And it really is! When I do school visits I get asked, “What’s the best book you’ve written?” I always hope it’s the next one that’s out, as I’m always trying to improve what I do. So if you enjoyed my Dead Trilogy, trust me, you’re gonna just LOVE Doom Rider! It’s out in July so keep an eye on my website (www.davidgatward.com) as I’ll be keeping it up to date with news, perhaps even a competition or two…

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Fast Five with Amy Brown

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

My parents’ house has always had full bookshelves; there are piles of books next to each bed, and even beside the bath. The idea of being able and allowed to write the words in these important objects was thrilling. In Standard Two, I said that one day I wanted to write books for children. After school that day, I asked Mum what she thought I might be when I grew up. When she guessed that I would be a writer, I was delighted at her response. I still am.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

When I’ve been writing for quite a while – perhaps two hours non-stop – the words sometimes begin to come unexpectedly. The chapter unfolds almost as if I am reading rather than writing it myself. Rereading these pages later, I often forget having written parts of them.  This is an exciting feeling.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I won’t choose a favourite, because it is too difficult. But, I will say that Maurice Gee’s O Trilogy has stayed with me since I first read it nearly twenty years ago. I still have dreams (nightmares?) about Susan Ferris meeting the Birdfolk. I also vividly remember Jack Lasenby’s Harry Wakatipu stories. If you haven’t read them, Harry Wakatipu is a surly talking packhorse who lives with a deer culler in the Ureweras and gets into all sorts of mischief. Recently, I tried to tell a friend the story of when Harry starts illegally tickling trout, but had to stop because I was crying with laughter.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I love that, in New Zealand, you’re never too far from the sea. I also love that you can walk barefoot without worrying about snakes or spiders biting you (I currently live in Australia).

5. What book changed your life?

Because I read it so often, and then later used it as a model for my own books, Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson probably changed my life. Its sense of humour, weird 1950s references to Bing Crosby, and brilliant line drawings have no doubt contributed to who I am today. I admit that it isn’t the best book in the world, but it has been important to me.
Amy Brown is the author of the Pony Tales series, including the latest book, Jade’s Summer of Horses.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy, set in a place in the middle of what used to be North America, called Panem. Panem consists of twelve districts, that surround a city called the Capitol. The Capitol is cruel, and has complete control over those who live in the districts.  They keep them from starting a rebellion by forcing each district to provide a boy and a girl from 12 to 18, who are all sent to the Capitol to take part in the Hunger Games, which is a fight to the death in a huge arena. The person who is left alive wins, and lives in glory, fame, and riches from then on. The others all die. The worst part? The districts are forced to celebrate it, and it is made into a television show.  Katniss Everdeen is sent to the Capitol from District 12, taking her sisters place in the games to protect her. She has escaped death before, and is skilled with a bow and arrow, but each of the 24 contestants are all fighting to survive. She will have to make hard decisions to live through the games.

The concept behind the Hunger Games was so original, and I turned the pages especially fast during the middle, when the Hunger Games were actually happening. The description was simple and brief, but the action and dialogue made up for that entirely.
My favourite character was probably Katniss, but I found that by the end of the book, to my greatest surprise, I had become rather fond of Haymitch, who is Katniss’s drunken mentor. I thought that Peeta, who is the boy from District 12, was a little weak, and Katniss was always protecting him, so in a way, he was a bit wimpy.

I am excited to find out what happens next, because by the end of the book Katniss is in quite a bit of trouble. I’m not telling you what happens, though, you’ll have to find that out yourself!

I think that kids from 12 to 15 would like this book the most (although my dad loves the book just as much as I do!). The Hunger Games is also being turned into what is going to be an epic movie.

By Tierney, age 12.

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