Rhiza Press Blog

Rhiza Press blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Australian books for Adult and Young Adult readers.
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Catriona McKeown on 'Writing Skeletons'

CatrionaMcKeownI have skeletons in my closet. Do you?

They’re not particularly nice ones. Springing to mind are words like 'anxiety', 'addiction', 'anger', 'depression', 'regret', 'lack of forgiveness', 'financial destruction', 'infatuation', 'fear'. I guess no skeleton is nice, no matter how big the closet is; I mean, they are all about death, decay and an acute lack of life, after all.

But before you roll your eyes and move on to the next story, these clichéd skeletons I’m talking about are skeletons within my world. They are worse than any of the other skeletons you’ve heard about before. They come with a story, every one of them. They’re real stories of real devastation, of real experiences, of real people. You know, there’s that one about—oh but hang on, you don’t know.

You don’t know because they’re my skeletons, in my closet. You’ll only know about them if I crack the door open. If I invite you into my closet to sit for a bit, to look around, to see the hurt and feel the pain, then you’ll know. You’ll know some of the story and understand why they’re my skeletons, and why I’ve been hiding them.

They say to write what you know.

So, should I crack the door open to my closet and let people in, just for a moment?

They say writing is therapeutic.

So, should I write the skeleton down and allow the healing to come to us both?

They say writing gives life.

So, if I write it, will it live again in my mind and in yours?

And so, I write.

 

You can follow along on Catriona’s writing journey through her website, on Facebook, Twitter and even on Pinterest. Her debut novel, The Boy in the Hoodie, comes out 1 November, 2017. 

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Chatting with Lora Inak

DSC 4647What do you mean by ‘the cultural tightrope’?

That’s a great question and one that I’ve asked myself. By the term ‘Cultural Tightrope’ I mean: The act of balancing between the culture you’re born into, and the culture of the place or country in which you live.

Like the traditional circus tightrope we all know, the cultural tightrope can be precarious as it swings and bounces over the journey of the walker. For us first, second, and even third-generation Australians, we sometimes find ourselves on an oscillating tightrope, unsure of where we fit. Are we real Australians? We weren’t born here! Or, if we were, we don’t look like the typical Aussie in TV commercials. Inevitably, we look for cues about what is culturally acceptable should we choose to define ourselves as an Australian, and too often change ourselves to blend in, to balance, rejecting the culture of our forefathers. Alternatively, we deep dive into it, immersing ourselves in the safety of where we know we definitely belong.

As I get older, it increasingly dawns on me just how much the culture within us, and the culture without, affects every part of how we exist. And with this awareness, comes the realisation of just how important it is to understand, accept, and be proud of it. Not only is culture a wide and frameless being, it is also complex in its constant evolution and fusion. So, it’s no surprise that balancing that tightrope can be tough.

 Natalie has to balance two lives—her Syrian and Australian identities. Do you think many Australian teenagers walk this cultural tightrope too? Is it tricky to balance?

The ABS tells us that around 30% of Australians are born overseas. This figure covers the entire population and within it, a wide age range so yes, I definitely believe many Australian teenagers find themselves on that precarious cultural tightrope, but so do a great many adults. What I think varies is the type of tightrope we walk.

As a teenager we want so much to fit in, but simultaneously, stand out as an individual – so the balance is more about what we wear, how we speak, our social activities etc. As an adult, the balance changes focus to how we parent, how we behave in our working life, what language we speak at home – do we encourage our kids to assimilate or adopt their cultural heritage. Of course, it’s not the same for everyone and I’ve made some generalisations but for some, that balance can be pretty tricky.

You’re a Turkish-born Australian. Did you have similar experiences to Natalie when you were growing up? I did. My parents were loving, but also strict and overly protective so I missed out on school camps and mixed sex parties. Sleepovers at friends’ houses were a definite no, as was dating boys. I was in constant terror of being caught walking home with male school mates – but in hindsight, some of it was in my head, and as I grew older, I found my parents weren’t as strict and unreasonable as I’d thought. In fact, when I finally introduced them to my now husband, they were really warm and welcoming, despite him being an Aussie 😊.

What was your first impression of Australia when you immigrated?

In my blog – Tip o The Fez I actually recount my first memory in Australia in a post titled 'Immigrant Girl'. I was only four years old when my family immigrated here, so my memories are a little hazy, but what left an imprint on me was a sense of wonder and magic - that this place, Australia, was full of possibilities. Although I was so young, I believe my senses were spot on. That’s exactly how I still feel about Australia.

 What’s it like to be a debut author? Are you excited or nervous?

Absolutely awesome! I’m excited and nervous and still in a state of disbelief but also incredibly happy. I feel very fortunate that the team at Rhiza Press believe in me and my work, and have given me this opportunity to share my story with others.

 

Lora's debut novel, Unspoken Rules, is out on the 17th of September on Australian Citizenship Day.

To find out more about Lora, visit her website and Facebook.

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The Cultural Tightrope

By Lora Inak

DSC 4091If you plug in the term ‘Cultural Tightrope’ into any search engine, you’ll undoubtedly find a mix of explanations, definitions, stories, articles and random websites. I started my research in exactly this way, sifting through page after page of search hits to find the perfect definition and starting point for this article.

After some time, and no real luck, I realised the difficult task of defining my meaning fell on me:

The act of balancing between the culture you’re born into, and the culture of the place or country in which you live.

Like the traditional circus tightrope we all know, the cultural tightrope can be precarious as it swings and bounces over the journey of the walker. For us first, second, and even third-generation Australians, we sometimes find ourselves on an oscillating tightrope, unsure of where we fit.

Are we real Australians? We weren’t born here! Or, if we were, we don’t look like the typical Aussie in tv commercials.

Inevitably, we look for cues about what is culturally acceptable should we choose to define ourselves as an Australian, and too often change ourselves to blend in, to balance, rejecting the culture of our forefathers. Alternatively, we deep dive into it, immersing ourselves in the safety of where we know we definitely belong.

As I get older, it increasingly dawns on me just how much the culture within us, and the culture without, affects every part of how we exist. The food we eat, the people we associate with, the books/movies/music we enjoy, the partner we marry, how we raise our children, our occupation, and the list goes on in a seemingly endless stream.

And with this awareness, comes the realisation of just how important it is to understand, accept, and be proud of it. Not only is culture a wide and frameless being, it is also complex in its constant evolution and fusion. So, it’s no surprise that balancing that tightrope can be tough.

As I learned to appreciate, accept and enjoy the culture I was born into and the one in which I live, I created a personal hybrid where I found comfort, happiness and balance. The tightrope stopped swaying...

So I walked calmly to the other end and climbed off.

 

Lora's debut novel, Unspoken Rules, is out on the 17th of September on Australian Citizenship Day.

To find out more about Lora, visit her website and Facebook.

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Danger and Dancing - Chats with Rosanne Hawke

LianasDanceES1. Tell us a little bit about Liana’s Dance. What can readers expect?

Liana’s Dance is a sweeping adventure so if you liked The War Within, you’ll like this novel too. Liana’s Dance also has a touch of mystery due to a family secret. Sixteen-year-old Liana tries to come to terms with living in a dangerous time, especially when her school is attacked by terrorists, but also fights peril from within herself.

2. Like Liana, did you experience danger when you lived in Pakistan?

It’s strange but we never felt we were in constant danger. Sometimes we were in danger due to the environment, like being trapped by snow in the Chitral Valley or getting lost and turning up in a strange village of only men, all carrying guns (we got out of there pretty fast and fortunately weren’t followed). My husband was detained by police twice, once for looking too much like an Afghan freedom fighter and second for letting off firecrackers for the girls’ school where I worked.

During the Gulf War the police said we were in danger since we looked like Americans and had to remain at home. Fortunately the people in Abbottabad, where we lived, knew us and gave us no trouble. The kindness of the people outweighed the dangers. For example, a poor Christian family brought us food while we were house-detained.

3. Liana’s Dance is inspired by your Beyond Borders series. Why did you think it was important to tell Liana’s story now?0 Rosanne

Some readers have been concerned about what happened at the end of The War Within and wanted to know more about Liana. I thought it was good to see what Liana was like when she was Jaime’s age. She has an incredible story of depression and hope; fear and strength; maturity and love. I also believe telling Liana’s story is good for Jaime in helping her navigate her lonely landscape of grief.

4. How do you think Australian teenagers would relate to Liana’s story?

When I wrote the first draft of Liana’s story I thought a terrorist attack on a Western school would never happen, but imagine my shock when some years later, it did. I kept working on the story because some young people do have to walk through frightening situations, even in Western countries. They can emerge fearful or more mature. Also, the situation in which Liana finds herself while travelling with her young music teacher is a dilemma that’s not often spoken about, but can easily become a problem in high school.

5. All right, last question. Liana loves to dance. Are you known to give a little boogie or jig every now and then?

Ha, not likely. I grew up in semi outback QLD and loved country dances and balls. My brother would take me when I was older as the boys at school didn’t know how to dance. Maybe I was a geek.

While in Pakistan some Afghan ladies taught my girls and me some dance steps. Sometimes when I was first writing stories set in Pakistan I dressed in the outfit those ladies made for me, put the Caravans soundtrack on and secretly danced their steps. It helped me think of what to write next.

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Amanda Deed Talks Fairy Tales and Superman

DeedAmandaWhat was your inspiration for adapting the Cinderella story? What aspects of her story were you most drawn to?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and Cinderella is one of my favourites. What drew me to rewrite it is that Cinderella is basically bullied by those horrible stepsisters and stepmother. This kind of treatment affects a person’s self-esteem, and self-esteem is something I struggled with a lot in my teens. I can’t say I was bullied precisely, but I was teased often, leaving me feeling worthless and unloved.

When I grew up I realised that the very things other kids teased me for were actually my strengths. What a way to destroy a person’s potential. Thankfully I worked through those issues and now have more self-confidence. But, it did leave me wanting to encourage others about their self-worth, and so I decided to weave that theme into my Cinderella story – Unnoticed.

 

How do you think Price Moreland compares to Prince Charming?

Well, he’s handsome, charming (in a good way), and he is the heir to a large fortune/estate. His father is a ‘king’ in the booming railway and shipping industry in America. And, of course, he is able to look past Jane’s apparent servitude and poverty.

Jane is often self-conscious about her appearance and tries to go unnoticed (a very apt title). Do you think a lot of teenagers would relate to this?

Absolutely. When the target of teasing, it would be so much easier to disappear. You’d rather be unnoticed altogether, than noticed and made fun of for your perceived faults. I found that for myself.

I have also witnessed it in teenagers recently. Watching a sixteen-year-old girl walk across the room with her head down—looking uncomfortable to say the least—I asked her, ‘Why are you feeling so awkward walking over here?’

She told me: ‘I feel like everyone’s looking at me.’

I smiled at her. ‘You know they’re actually not. They’re all too busy in their own little world to be taking much notice of you.’

‘Well they should be!’ was her bold reply.

‘So walk like they should be. You are absolutely worth looking at and worth noticing. You are beautiful.’

There’s a kind of confused mixture of wanting to be noticed and accepted, and not wanting to be noticed in case we are rejected.

 

If you could be any fairy tale heroine, who would it be?

I can’t say I’ve ever aspired to be one of the fairy tale heroines, although I do love the way Rapunzel wielded that frying pan in Tangled. I’d more likely aspire to Lois Lane just because she got to fly with Superman. I love Superman. In fact, every time I see a kid in a Superman costume, I ask them if they will take me flying. Unfortunately, no-one has said yes yet.

 

What can we expect in the next instalment Unhinged?

Unhinged will be a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – another of my favourite fairy tales. However, instead of the beast being a monster, or a physical deformity in a man, the beast will be mentally-ill.

It is very challenging to write. But again, mental health is such a big subject these days, even with teens. I just heard of a Year Twelve student being put on anti-depressants to deal with anxiety. It makes me sad that people so young have to struggle with such deep issues. Hopefully Unhinged, amidst an entertaining story, will give encouragement to people who deal with this kind of illness.

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Rhiza Catches Up With Patricia Weerakoon About Winning The Caleb Prize

WeerakoonPatriciaEmpire’s Children by Patricia Weerakoon recently won the Caleb Prize for faith-inspired fiction at the Omega Writers Conference. Rhiza Press caught up with Patricia to discuss her novel and what it means to her.

1) Sum up Empire’s Children in one catchy sentence.
Set in the tea plantations of Sri Lanka in the dying days of British colonial rule, Empire's Children is a story of the redemptive power of love over the destructive force of exploitative power, racial tensions and abuse.

2) What first impelled you to write this story?
My father was a tea-maker during the time of British colonial rule of the plantations in Sri Lanka. This novel is both recognition of and a dedication to the Sri Lankan natives like my parents and the Indian indentured labourers like Lakshmi and her parents, who made a life under difficult and often demeaning circumstances.

3) Empire’s Children follows so many individual stories. Did you have a favourite, or one you liked writing the most?
Dr Jega Jayaseelan is my favorite. The illegitimate son of the British superintendent and Indian coolie labourer turned sex worker, he has the resilience to withstand the prejudices of Sri Lankan culture towards Eurasian children and makes an outstanding career for himself. Yet, when faced with the decision, he is unselfish and self-sacrificing enough to give up Shiro, the girl he loves, to his half-brother Anthony so they could find happiness.

4) Which character do you think readers most relate to in the novel?
I hope they relate to Shiro. She is feisty, brilliant and determined, yet deeply vulnerable when it comes to love.

5) Even though it is set in Sri Lanka fifty years ago, do you think there are a lot of parallels to modern day Australia?
Racial prejudices and power play between the rich and poor across countries, cultures and time.

6) What is your favourite part about being an author?
I live with my characters. My readers see only a sliver of my characters’ lives, I know them intimately. I know what happened in their life before they enter the page and what they do long after. They wake up with me and walk through the day by my side.

7) What is the hardest part about being an author?
Letting go of my characters when I move to another novel or story.

8) Explain how you felt when Empire’s Children won the Caleb Award?
Unbelief! My first novel! Surely, it couldn’t be that good? Then a deep gratitude for the recognition from my peers.

 

Read the award-winning Empire's Children for yourself.

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Rosanne Hawke on the Joy of Rewriting

WarWithinsmallI’ve had the joy over the last year to rewrite an earlier novel which is now The War Within. This is how it happened.My children are Third Culture Kids (TCKs), kids who are brought up in a culture which isn’t their parents’. They learn to adapt to the culture they grow up in and can find it very difficult returning to their parents’ own culture. To most TCKs their parents’ culture doesn’t feel like their own. Jaime Richards in the series Beyond Borders felt like this when she returns to Adelaide for high school in Dear Pakistan. I felt like this even moving states as a teen. Our whole family felt the culture shock of re-entering Australia after ten years in Pakistan and the UAE.

My daughter Lenore returned to Pakistan when she was 18 and found the experience very helpful for settling in Australia. This what Jaime Richards also does: returns to Pakistan to ‘settle the ghosts of the past’ and see her friends. Except her experience turns into an adventure that Lenore could only dream of.

The War Within began with Lenore wanting a story about an abduction set in Afghanistan. One of our co-workers had been kidnapped by freedom fighters and this instigated the request for a story about it. That story became a book called Jihad. Jihad in this case meaning a spiritual struggle within. Jasper is having this personal jihad as he faces his grief about his father lost in Afghanistan.

I edited this story a little when it became part of the Borderland series, three books in one volume: Re-entry, Jihad and the new title Cameleer. But when Rhiza Press recently offered a contract to republish and rebrand these books into a series of four called Beyond Borders, I was stoked. ‘You might like to rewrite Jihad,’ the publisher said quietly. ‘Of course,’ I replied. However, I didn’t realise how much I had learned since the publication of Borderland. When I reread Jihad I was shocked to find how much it needed to be better.

I couldn’t wait to rewrite it. The plot was enjoyed by readers, so that stayed the same, but I restructured the novel to include POV chapters for Jasper. I changed the premise of it being a story that Jaime was relating in hindsight to one that was happening now. This eliminated the seemingly POV glitches, and the unnecessary foreshadowing, for now Jaime doesn’t know how it’s going to end and can’t add her two cents worth about the future. It’s become a tighter read, and I believe a more enjoyable and exciting one. I also updated the events in the background of the novel to be consistent with modern world events. Even some technology is thrown in the mix as well.

It was a joy to revisit this story, to rewrite it to a higher skill level with the knowledge that I’d picked up over the last ten years of encouraging other writers.

 

By Rosanne Hawke

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Speaking Aloud about the Unspeakable

4644146This Saturday is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Author Irma Gold talks about how her anthology, The Sound of Silence, speaks out about the experiences of 22 women who have gone through miscarriages.

 Editing this book was an emotional experience and the launches in Canberra and Melbourne were unlike any others I have attended. At both of them strangers – women and men, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and sisters – came up to me to tell me their intensely personal stories of loss, the reasons why they had come to these launches to buy this book. Since then I have received many emails from readers thanking me for the anthology and telling me how it has helped them. These messages have been humbling.

Like this one from Charmian:
I have just sat and read this book from cover to cover! As a mum of two (six, including my angel babies) these stories touched my heart and soul in a way that no other books about pregnancy loss have. I experienced miscarriages when none in my circle of friends had, and felt alone as I waded through loss and grief. The final three miscarriages were particularly hard, given they all occurred in seven months. We have not gone on to have more babies, and I still feel my family is not quite complete. Thanks again for this wonderful resource.

And this one from Justine:
I have just finished reading The Sound of Silence. I must admit it sat on my bedside table for a couple of days before I found the courage to open it. I was anxious about the emotions it might stir up within me. It is a brilliant book, it allowed me to realise I am not alone in my grief and the feelings experienced are so normal. One of my regrets is that despite our best efforts to encourage submissions from men we did not receive any. Men are often forgotten in the grief of miscarriage, so I was disappointed that we weren’t able to represent their stories and perspectives.

It was, however, heartening to receive emails from men, like this one:
Thank you for publishing The Sound of Silence. While it is mostly written for females, it is also an excellent book for (potential) fathers to read as well – some of them also experience similar emotional symptoms when their partner miscarries. :(

When I wrote a post for Mamamia about the anthology and my own miscarriage it received an overwhelming number of comments. There are so many women and men out there who need to talk about their experiences. Today I’m remembering Rafael, the baby I miscarried at twelve weeks. I no longer feel sad about his loss, but blessed that he was, and is still, a part of our family. I am also thankful for the three beautiful children I was able to bring into this world, and conscious that there are many couples who are not so fortunate. These stories are the ones that break my heart the most. At the Melbourne launch a woman told me about her daughter who she has watched go through seven pregnancies, none of which have made it to term. As she told me this story, and the emotional toll it has taken on them all, she wept for her daughter and her lost grandbabies. Her story is one of many.

If you know someone who has had a miscarriage, who may still be struggling through grief, today is the day to reach out. All it takes is a simple ‘How are you?’ and the willingness to listen.

You can buy a copy of The Sound of Slience from www.rhizapress.com.au.

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Friday Chats with Rosanne Hawke

0 RosanneWhat made you become an author?

What finally gave me the push to write seriously was my daughter, Lenore asking me to write a book for her based on a story I told her. She made me become a writer.

What was your first published book?

A book called Re-entry which has been rewritten and is now in its 3rd edition called Dear Pakistan.

What inspired you to write the Beyond Borders series?

I had changed states when I was a teenager, and as an adult I lived overseas in voluntary work with a mission. My children became third culture kids, and watching their culture shock (and mine) as we returned to Australia inspired the series.

 Have you travelled to Pakistan since? Was it still a culture shock?

Yes, the first time I arrived in Pakistan I had culture shock and, as a woman, it took me a year to adjust. In coming back to Australia we also had culture shock. Possibly that is worse because you don’t expect the culture shock to be so bad in your own country, but it was. When I visited Pakistan in 2006 on an Asialink Fellowship to research more books, it was only for two months and the culture shock was less.

Why do you think Jaime is an inspirational heroine in the story?

Jaime is going through a difficult time of her life that people around her do not understand. She has to learn to adapt to different cultures and yet discovers the joy of doing that even though it is difficult each time she moves. During this process she picks up some wisdom and realises her experiences have helped make her who she is, a teen with unlimited potential. 

Who is your favourite character in the series?

Tricky question. Besides Jaime, possibly Jasper in The War Within.

Can you give readers a hint at what they can expect in the next installment of the Beyond Borders series?

In 2002 terrorists attacked an international Christian school in the Himalayas, Pakistan. It was the school that my kids had attended and is the school which inspired Jaime’s school which she visits in The War Within. In Liana’s Dance Jaime writes the story of what happens to Liana when her school was attacked by terrorists a few years earlier.

Do you have any hints for aspiring authors out there?

Read a lot and learn to read like a writer: decide what you like about a writer’s story or technique and takes notes. Write down golden lines, but always put the author’s name underneath so you don’t mistakenly plagiarize. Always find out as much as you can about your characters because your characters will make or break your story. Most importantly work out what they want the most in the whole wide world; something important enough that would motivate them long enough for you to write a story about it. When you’re finished the first draft get your secateurs out and start cutting out the dead wood. Learn to enjoy editing and re-writing.

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Got it Covered

Have you ever wondered what goes on at a cover shoot? How do publishers choose the covers for books? Adele Jones tells us about how it all went down with her latest book, Activate.

 Dark alleys and night-time trysts don’t always ring with appeal, but for the Activate cover shoot, this was a perfect combination. Just add the necessary ingredients …

Check 1: Photographer + camera & the necessary lenses etc

Check 2: Cover Model Simon (+ his gorgeous wife)

Check 3: A variety of jackets to complement the character’s fashion basics

Check 4: Additional lighting + filters

Check 5: Hair styling products

Check 6: A range of enlarged image printouts representing the feel/look being targeted

Check 7: Annoying and opinionated author + a loose cover brief + imagined ideal of the final result

 And it was all systems go – hair styling, testing different locations, checking lighting, trialling various looks and jackets.

Stand here; try this pose; turn your head; eyes to the camera; try a neutral expression; what about semi-squatting against the wall? (Poor legs – good thing our cover model is fit!)

Here are some of the results: (Photo credits: Jo Thomae, Stormgirlphotography)

Untitled

1

3

Then over to the Rhiza cover team for the photo selection and reworking

Image editing, including cropping, colour adjustments & effects (i.e. all the fancy bits).

The result?

 Activatemed

What do you think? What does this cover say to you? (About the character, the book, the genre?)

Drop on over to Rhiza’s FB page to have your say.

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New Historical Book Soars Off the Page

The Kingdom of the Air
by C.T. Wells
 
The stakes are high.
 
Whoever controls the sky above the English Channel
will decide the fate of nations.
 
Winner of the 2014 Caleb Award for unpublished manuscript
Winner of the 2015 Clive Cussler Adventure Writers’ Competition
 
1940. The Battle of Britain has begun.
 
A young Messerschmitt pilot is shot down over Dartmoor. He tries to evade a manhunt, knowing that if he falls into British hands, his war will be over. But when Josef Schafer encounters a sinister agent of the emerging Special Operations Executive, his troubles have only begun. He is returned to occupied France having made an impossible deal with the British.As the air war escalates, Josef is in danger in the sky and on the land. His allegiances are tested as he is torn between loyalty to his Luftwaffe comrades and a French woman whom he is compelled to serve.
 
Acclaim for The Kingdom of the Air:
"From the fiery first chapter, through the high-stakes excitement of electrifying air combat, twisting spy plots and the dark domain of the WW2 French Resistance, C.T. Wells takes you on a sky-high thrill-ride that never lets you down. Great characters and a historically-based story, The Kingdom of the Air is an amazing read; superbly written, it soars from page to page, from impossible, heart-wrenching situations to a surprising climax. Adventure fans and history buffs will revel in this recreation of one of the darkest times in world history. C.T. Wells delivers!” - Peter Greene, Director of The Adventure Writer’s Competition
 
TheKingdomoftheAir es
 
Available in paperback and ebook
from April 1st
 
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A Chat with C T Wells, author of The Kingdom of the Air

WellssmallRHIZA PRESS: Tell us about the your name, C.T. Wells - real name or pen name?

WELLS: Well, yes, it’s real. They’re my middle initials. My first name is Peter, and I get called ‘Pete’  but there are too many Peter Wells out there ranging from dead rock stars to writers of economics textbooks, so I had to go with something else. Initials seemed to work for the likes of Tolkien, Lewis and Rowling, so I thought I’d try that. Oh, and Herbert George Wells went with initials too.

RHIZA PRESS: No relation?

WELLS: Not that I know of.

RHIZA PRESS: So tells us about the new novel, The Kingdom of the Air...

WELLS: It’s a historical thriller, set in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. It centres on a young Luftwaffe pilot called Josef Schafer, who is shot down over England. He is captured, but then he’s sent back to occupied France with a specific job to do for the Special Operations Executive.

RHIZA PRESS: So given that he’s a German, why does he help the British?

WELLS: I can’t tell you that. Its classified. Readers will see how they apply some leverage...

RHIZA PRESS: Aviation plays a large part in the novel. Would you call it a techno-thriller?

WELLS: Maybe a “retro-techno-thriller”, if there’s such a thing. I don’t understand modern technology enough to write a contemporary techno-thriller.

RHIZA PRESS: So did you have to do a lot of research to set the story in 1940?

WELLS: Yes. I usually write with another screen open to check my facts as I go. I don’t want to be a slave to historical accuracy, but it is important to try to be true to time and place. Anachronisms and historical errors can really derail a story.

RHIZA PRESS: But details give a ring of authenticity to the story, right?

WELLS: Sure. I like to know things like the brand of a cigarette or the calibre of a pistol. Or whether wildflowers grow in Normandy...

RHIZA PRESS: What drew you to that era?

WELLS: When we read a novel of this sort, it’s essentially so we can escape from our ordinary life. I find there’s something compelling about the thirties and forties. Close enough to be relatable, but far enough to be escapist. Everything from the styles of that period to the overwhelmingly high stakes of the second world war is engaging for me. Of course, there are some cool planes to write about too!

RHIZA PRESS: The Kingdom of the Air is set against a backdrop of war and espionage in a time of fear and violence. Would you say it is a dark story?

WELLS: It’s certainly set in a grim time of history, and it tries to be real about that,  but it also explores how character can prevail under those circumstances. I think there is a redemptive element to it. It’s essentially an action story, but hopefully readers find some head and heart in there as well.

RHIZA PRESS: You said “heart”... does that mean romance?

WELLS: Yes, but it’s tough for relationships to develop when you’re on opposite sides of a war.

RHIZA PRESS:  The Kingdom of the Air has won some awards – The Caleb Award and The Clive Cussler Adventure Writer’s Competition. Does this make it literary fiction?

WELLS: It’s not necessarily setting out to be something like that. I hope it’s a smart thriller. A gripping story, but maybe there’s something to think about as well.

RHIZA PRESS: And the title, The Kingdom of the Air, is that a reference to The Battle of Britain?

WELLS: Yes, but it’s also a phrase from the Book of Ephesians in The Bible. It alludes to the death and rebirth theme in the story.

RHIZA PRESS: Speaking of death and rebirth, is it true that you nearly died during the publication of the novel?

WELLS: Yes, it is true. I was in Jakarta and on my way to Las Vegas for the Adventure Writers’ Competition Awards and my taxi got hit by an out-of-control  dump truck. My son and I were in a bad way with internal injuries. We had emergency surgery, followed by several weeks in hospital. But we’ve pulled through OK. We’re very thankful to be alive, but it was a very close call.

RHIZA PRESS: Well, we’re all pleased that you’re still here. This is the first novel you’ve published. When did you start and how did you write it while working full time?

WELLS: It took nearly five years from inception to publication. But even if you’re time-poor, you can still produce a thousand words a week. If you do that for two years, you’ve got a full length manuscript. The thing is, you have to keep believing in the story over that period of time. Even Stephen King says he has to write fast to outrun self-doubt.

RHIZA PRESS: Well the story seems to be gathering plenty of interest now. And what’s next for you? Anything else in the works?

WELLS: I’m half way through the sequel now.

RHIZA PRESS: Thanks for sharing with us and all the best for The Kingdom of the Air.

 

The Kingdom of the Air comes out 1 April. 

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Adele Jones Does it Again in Her Sequel: Replicate

Adele Jones Does it Again in Her Sequel: Replicate

HE’S FOUND EMBRYONIC CLONES WITH HIS NAME ON THEM.

Is it life-saving research or a devious attempt to salvage a failing institute?

Suspecting the embryonic cloning has breached ethics agreements, Blaine Colton soon discovers truth comes at a high price.

“Blaine, now an 18 year-old man, is juggling with the discovery of who he was, is and what will become of him. The reader is taken along an amazing journey as he reaps the rewards and lows of scientific achievement, human greed and the pulls of friends and family,” said Wendy Szabo, special education teacher.

“Author Adele Jones is on a winner here with a wonderful combination of scientific advancement, suspense and action interwoven with ethics and the basic forces of life. Highly recommended.”

In this sequel to the award-winning, Integrate, the appearance of an identity from Blaine’s past sees him questioning everything he knows of his life.

“Blaine’s ‘messed up DNA’ ensures he has to deal with more than the usual problems of negotiating maturing and changing relationships associated with emerging adulthood,’ said retired teacher, psychologist and academic, Majella Albion, PhD.

A keen observer of human behaviour, Majella added, “On a different level, the story also deals with complex ethical issues around genetic research, and explores Blaine’s moral conflict as he sees how the research might actually benefit him in the future. Another gripping tale from this award winning author.”

With help from close friends Sophie and Jett Faraday, Blaine begins putting the pieces together. Then tragedy fractures his world. Uncovering a link to these events and the embryonic cloning, he seeks justice—whatever the cost.

“Friendship and a sense of self-worth are vital for each of us, especially as a young adult. Blaine draws value from meaningful relationships with his peers, even as he continues to wrestle conflicting views on life, faith, ethics and identity,” said author, Adele. “He also learns just how unpredictable life can be.”

Australian author, Adele Jones writes young-adult and historical novels, poetry and short works. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science—and her broad-ranging imaging.

Replicate is available in all good bookstores or online at rhizapress.com.au.

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