Archive | April, 2020

Interview with Dee White, author of ‘Beyond Belief’

7 Apr

Today, I chat to Dee White, who is the author of many works of fiction for kids and teens. Dee’s young adult novel ‘Beyond Belief’ has just come out with Scholastic. Welcome Dee!

LW: Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

DW: I was researching another manuscript set in Paris when I stumbled across the true story of Muslims at a Paris mosque who saved Jews during WW2. I knew I had to write about it. I received a VicArts grant through Creative Victoria to spend a month in Paris doing further research. It was amazing. My father fled Austria during WW2 after Kristallnacht. His parents were married in a synagogue and although he wasn’t raised Jewish, he was forced to wear a badge labeling him as a Jew and report regularly to the police. He and his family fled for their lives in 1939 and my father had talked about this to me. So I could relate this experience to my main character, Ruben fleeing from the soldiers and French police in Paris.

LW: Tell me about your protagonist, Ruben. Did he come to you easily, or did he take a while to get to know?

DW: Ruben, my protagonist in Beyond Belief did come to me quite easily. He’s a mix of my oldest brother who was always very gentle and serious and fair, and also trusting. I have two sons and they are very much like that too. They are kind to people and anticipate that they will receive kindness in return. I remember when they were around Ruben’s age and discovered that the world didn’t always work that way and I wanted to capture this vulnerability in my main character. My eldest son has always been a cat whisperer so incorporating this trait in Ruben’s character was quite organic. Ruben was very strong in my head and heart from quite early on. In fact he became almost like another one of my children.

LW: This is your second young adult novel, and you have also written several books for middle-grade and younger readers. What are the challenges and pleasures of the young adult genre for you?

DW: The lines between middle-grade and YA seem to be becoming more and more blurred. To be honest, I thought that Beyond Belief was middle-grade but booksellers seem to be putting it in the 12+ category, I guess because of the themes and also Beyond Belief is YA in length, but then so is Harry Potter and that’s considered middle-grade.  I never think of my writing in terms of genre or readership age. I just write the story I want to tell. I don’t consider my work to be classic YA (even my novel, Letters to Leonardo) and I’d find classic YA hard because I don’t write romance well and I feel like I’m a bit out of touch with the language and lifestyle of older teens. I guess that’s one of the challenges of writing YA. In YA your main characters are the same age or older than your readers but middle grade allows you more flexibility. As long as your main character is a similar age to the reader, you can have other characters who are older or younger, like Daan and Momo in Beyond Belief.

LW: Tell me about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser and what is your writing routine?

DW: I’m quite erratic when it comes to writing process. Different manuscripts seem to call for different methods and each one is like a new experiment, an opportunity to try different things and acquire skills and knowledge that will make my writing better. I used to plot a lot but then I found my narrative lost its spark so now I tend to do a mixture of both. I know what my story is about and roughly what’s going to happen in the end, but not necessarily how my character will arrive at this place. I like to let them guide the story. As their character emerges, what they do and how they react to things will drive what happens next in the story.

When my boys were small I used to get up at 5.00am so I’d have around an hour to write before my kids got up. That way I could focus on being a parent and still feel like I was a writer as well.

Nowadays I tend to treat writing like a day job and work to fairly standard hours. It’s easy to just keep writing and write all day every day, but I’m trying to get balance in my life so I take weekends off and read at night. It can be hard to write when you’re the parent of young children or have a day job, but even if you can snatch just ten minutes a day it will still make you feel like you’re a writer and keep you motivated. Even when I’m under time and other pressures, I always try to keep my writing fun.

LW: Can you give us a sneaky preview of what you’re working on next?

DW: Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Parent Training, my illustrated MG (Ben Johnston’s pics are hilarious) comes out with Scholastic Australia on 1 May and I’m currently working on the follow up, Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Teacher Taming, which will be out next year. I’m also researching a couple of historical fiction works and a paranormal thriller screen play.

DW: Thanks so much Lisa, for inviting me to visit your blog.

You can find Dee online at:

Website, Twitter, Facebook

And buy ‘Beyond Belief’ at a range of booksellers, including:

Booktopia, and Angus and Robertson

Interview with Poppy Nwosu, author of ‘Taking Down Evelyn Tait’

1 Apr

In these strange times, it’s hard for authors to get out and about so I’m going to be posting some interviews with authors of new releases. First up, is Poppy Nwosu. Poppy’s second young adult book, ‘Taking Down Evelyn Tait’ has just come out. I’ve read it and found it funny and heart-warming and just the type of book we need to be reading right now!

Poppy Nwosu

Poppy had a chat to me about her novel, the writing process and what she’s up to next…

LW: As this is your second novel, did you suffer from the dreaded ‘second-book syndrome’?

PN: This is a strange one, because although Taking Down Evelyn Tait is my second published book, it isn’t the second one I’d ever written, so I was pretty used to working through stories by the time I came to write this one.

On the flipside though, even though it wasn’t technically my second novel, YES, I totally suffered from the dreaded second book syndrome!

I wrote this one just before my debut was released, but already I had it in my head that there might be a potential audience for the book and I think that is what really held me back and made writing this story, at times, utterly excruciating … I had kind of stopped writing for myself, and was instead writing for an imaginary audience (that didn’t even exist yet!). And I was sure that imaginary audience was judging every word I put on the page.

It meant I couldn’t have fun with my story because I was so nervous about what other people would think of it.

I ended up having to stop and restart the entire manuscript, and this time, I wrote it exactly how I wanted to, without worrying what anybody else would think. It really helped and the words flowed so much more easily and I started having fun again!

LW: Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

PN: I always feel like I shouldn’t say this, because I am a writer and obviously I adore books, but really what drew me to writing was my love of stories in any shape or form, including movies and television. So basically, what I am saying is I am a massive film and television nerd, and I am often so inspired by the stories I watch (as well as read).

I was watching a fun English show called Misfits, which has a character that was very likable, but who had absolutely no filter, said the worst (most filthy) things in the world, and was constantly a trouble magnet who always did the wrong thing. I loved the balance of writing about such a flawed character, but also making them very loveable at the same time.

That was really the initial seed for my main character, Lottie, who is a troublemaker but, hopefully, a lovable and charming one, and the rest of the story really grew from there!

LW: Lottie is a great character, did she come to you easily, or did she take a while to get to know?

PN: She came really easily, despite the story itself being a very difficult one for me to write!

I had such a fun experience writing Lottie. I think part of that is a level of wish fulfillment for me, I really enjoy writing very assertive and ‘out there’ characters simply because in real life that isn’t exactly my personality. I used to be very shy when I was younger and I still really hate confrontation, so it is fun to walk in another’s (more confident) shoes through my imagination. And once I started writing the first draft, I found it really easy to find Lottie’s voice. She’s actually one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written!

LW: Tell me about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser and what is your writing routine?

PN: I started out as a complete pantser, but over time as I write more manuscripts, I have learned a bit more about plotting. The danger for me though, is that if I spend too long thinking through every detail of a potential plot or characters before I begin writing a manuscript, I tend to get a bit bored with that story. And I then want to move on to a new shiny idea instead of writing the one I have started plotting.

For me, I always have a vague idea of the characters and how they fit together, a tiny bit of the plot (usually a few scenes I want to write towards, though I have no idea how I will get there) and a very strong sense of the book’s tone and atmosphere and setting. The characters just seem to unwind as I write, and usually turn out quite different to what I thought I was going to do. I never really know the ending when I begin the book.

Writing like that seems to work for me, but it took a long time to figure out what was best. A lot of trial and error.

In terms of routine, it has all changed for me in 2020. I used to work full time, so I would squeeze in two hours of writing time every morning at 5am before heading into work, but this year I have dropped back to working only three days, which gives me a lot more time! It has been wonderful! I still get up at 5am and do my morning writing sessions, and then on my two weekdays off, I just continue working at my desk for most of the day.

LW: Can you give us a sneaky preview of what you’re working on next?

Yes! I was lucky enough in 2019 to be awarded an amazing trip from Writers SA (my local writing centre) to Varuna the Writer’s House to work on a new manuscript. I had the most amazing time writing all day every day, and am really excited about the manuscript that has come from it.

I can’t say too much about it yet, but it is a romantic contemporary YA with a lot of emphasis on the romance. It’s got a bickering hate to lovers trope, and is centred around a road trip, a lost nana and a damaged friendship. I really hope people will like it!

Find Poppy online: Instagram Website

Buy ‘Taking Down Evelyn Tait’ from Wakefield Press