Tag Archives: young adult

My very first video

28 May

Video-making has never been on my radar. I’m a writer, not a filmmaker, after all. I’m lucky to have a son who’s a filmmaker, and he’s made me some great book trailers over the years. There really hasn’t been any need for me to learn to do it myself.

But then, this social distancing thing came along and all of a sudden, I couldn’t do bookshop visits, or talks to schools and other groups. I noticed other writers doing amazing videos, and I wanted to do one too, but… I had no idea where to begin.

So, when The Lismore Regional Gallery and The Quad offered an at-home artistic residency called Together//Alone, I thought this might be just the spur a movie-making novice needed to have a go. I applied to make a video called ‘Writing the Girl with the Gold Bikini’. A short time later, I found out my application was successful. After I finished celebrating, I realised I had only seven days to make my video and freaked out.

I’m not exactly a technophobe, but I’m coming from a fairly low base. Step one was to figure out how to use iMovie. I discovered some great templates and spent way too much time checking them out. I also spent a lot of time pondering different approaches to capturing vision and sound with the equipment I’ve got available. I didn’t want to lash out on new gear. In the end, I filmed with a phone and tripod and used the microphone from a pair of headphones tucked into my shirt. It worked okay, but I think next time I’ll invest in a microphone and upload a teleprompter app. Live and learn.

I was super-proud of my first attempt. I sent it to my son, and he said, ‘It’s um… good’, but the way he said ‘good’ made it sound like ‘bad’. Apparently, all my transitions between film clips were terrible. Secretly, I already knew they were terrible, but I was hoping no-one would notice. I went back to work.

The final result is here – a six-minute video where I talk about the inspiration, setting, character and development of ‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’. I feel like a kid bringing their artwork home from school. It might not be amazing, in fact I am well aware that it has some technical issues, but I did it all by myself! My next video can only be an improvement.

If you’d like to read ‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’ , it is available at your favourite bookshop, or in print here and ebook here.

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

Surfing the words to the shore

26 Mar
Surfing at Cape Arid National Park, Western Australia

Writing a book with a surfer-girl heroine has made me reflect on the relationship between surfing and writing in my life. One of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami, has famously said that everything he knows about writing he has learned from running. For me, it’s surfing.

My surfing and writing journeys both started when I moved to the north coast of New South Wales. The surf was at my doorstep, it seemed a shame to waste it. My hometown is world-famous for its waves. A looming basalt headland captures the big swell and a rocky reef creates smaller waves on the inside. With such waves at my doorstep, what else could I do but buy a surfboard?

So I bought myself a beginner’s surf board – soft and fat. Each time I took it out I challenged myself to stay in the water for a little longer. I floundered around in the whitewash, falling off and getting pummelled by the waves, emerging with nostrils full of saltwater and hair caked in sand. But then I started catching little waves. I glided over the reef. I was hooked.

For twenty years now, I have surfed almost-daily. If I count it up, allowing for times when I was away from home, or the surf wasn’t happening, by even a very conservative reckoning this is thousands of hours immersed in the water.

My process of learning to write was somewhat similar. I got less sand in my hair and water up my nose but the slap downs were still painful. With both writing and surfing, you need to be able to take a pounding and come back for more. It takes hours and hours of thankless practice. You are going to wipe out. Get used to it. I wrote three complete novels before I got my first one published. That’s a lot of words. A lot of practice. A lot of rejections. Every writer and every surfer is different. Different doesn’t mean wrong. You can learn from others, but there’s no point in trying to copy them.

You need to go out as often as possible, no matter the conditions. Some days are good, others not so good, but as long as you keep turning up, you will get somewhere. Once in a while everything goes right. The waves are perfect. The words flow. Those days are rare, but oh so beautiful.

Both writing and surfing are more about the journey than the destination. You don’t surf with the aim of getting to shore. Nor does it make sense to focus on the outcome – the book, rather than the process of getting there. That’s where the magic is. There is always another wave on the horizon, another story to tell.

The Girl with the Gold Bikini is available at your local bookshop, most are now doing deliveries, as well as online at:

Wakefield Press, Booktopia, Readings, Amazon Australia, US, UK

Location, location, location – why Byron Bay is a perfect crime setting

19 Mar

Setting is important in crime novels. Where would Sherlock Holmes be, without the fog-bound London streets? And wouldn’t Scandi-noir be way too cheerful without those long, cold snowy nights?

Byron Bay might not be quite so noir, but it is still a fascinating location. In my new young adult comedy/crime novel, the beauty and the weirdness of the bay become almost another character in the book.

My protagonist, Olivia Grace, is a Gold Coast girl – They could have scrawled ‘here be dragons’ on the map south of Coolangatta as far as I was concerned.

The first time she went to Byron, she thought it was paradise:

Byron Bay, I soon discovered, was a place to conjure dreams. The sweep of the bay to the base of the mountains; the dolphins leaping from water so clear it was barely there. For us, it was nirvana.

But nirvana had a dark side and things didn’t turn out so well back then. Now, Olivia is back. A freshly hatched Private Investigator, she is hot on the trail of a yoga guru who’s a bit of a creep.

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of the mean streets of Byron as trodden by Olivia in ‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini.’

A Byron Bay Yoga Studio

I read recently that Byron has the highest percentage of yoga instructors outside India. Even if that’s not true, it’s believable. Things heat up for Olivia when she heads out to a fictional yoga studio, Lighthouse Bliss:

I park among the bangalow palms and make my way past the flowering lily pond to reception. The usual South American panpipes are playing and lavender wafts from an aromatherapy burner.

Despite this auspicious welcome, Oliva soon discovers that Byron Bay yoga is not for the fainthearted:

Ajay’s Bikini Beach Body Boot Camp Speed Yoga is powerful stuff. Each two-hour class covers all the moves other yoga teachers would take two weeks to fit in. He learnt this form of yoga from an Indian guru, who granted him sole worldwide rights. I guess gurus aren’t what they used to be.

Unfortunately for Olivia, things only go downhill from here…

Ah, Wategos…

Olivia trails the creepy yoga instructor to a large house with an infinity pool, overlooking Wategos Beach.

As I wind past the cabbage tree palms to Wategos, Abbey’s voice is in my head. ‘How good is this place, Ol? Surf and rainforest. It’s paradise.’ Byron Bay is still paradise. Seems like the whole world thinks so too, though.

Despite the crowds, I still think Wategos is possibly the most beautiful beach in the world. Surfing beneath the lighthouse as the sun sets over the mountains is one of life’s magical moments. Which brings me to…

Surf’s up…

One thing you can almost guarantee about Byron is… crowded surf breaks. Olivia used to surf, but she gave it up after a bad experience. Now she’s trying to get back into it again.

I’d forgotten how cutthroat it is out here. One of the men in the line-up is a kind of man-fish thing. His hands are the size of flippers and he gets onto the waves with about two strokes.

The pack takes my measure quickly. Every time I paddle for a wave someone else comes in from in front or behind or materialises out of nowhere.

Hot tip, Olivia – if you want to avoid the crowds, you need to surf in the dark. Which, in due course, she does. And after a surf, where would you head, but…

The Pass Café

For a post surf snack, this has to be the best spot in town.

A bush turkey roams around underfoot while the magpie cocks its greedy eye at a muffin. In Byron, the rainforest, with all its wildlife, comes right to the beach. Jacq and I claim a table with a view of that show-off, the sea.

Mm, and after a coffee, it’s time to move on to…

Jonson Street

At the risk of sounding like our Prime Minister, how good is Jonson Street? You could watch the world go by all day and never get bored.

The pavement is teeming with the usual frenzied mix: hippies down from the hills, European backpackers, spiky-haired Japanese surfers and gold-sandalled blondes in white linen beach wear.

And when you’re ready for some entertainment, there’s always…

Byron RSL

Several years ago, I did Mandy Nolan’s stand-up comedy course, culminating in a performance at the Byron RSL. The experience was so nerve-wracking, I had to get Olivia to re-live it for me…

Sipping a beer, I perch at a table down the back where I can take photos without being noticed. It’s open mike comedy night and she’s just taken the stage. The crowd is a mixture –young hip surfies mingled with your typical middle-aged RSL drinkers.

And of course, a novel set in Byron Bay wouldn’t be complete without a trip to…

The Lighthouse

A northerly wind whips at our hair and flattens the surf to whitecaps. Panting, we look over the cliff edge and see two dolphins, a mother and a calf, below us. I imagine them as the slackers of the dolphin world. ‘I can’t be bothered catching fish. Let’s get takeaways tonight.’ If I was a dolphin, that would be me.

Now that I’ve scoped the town, I can confirm that Byron Bay is the perfect setting for a fictional crime. Particularly if you’re into that of the yoga and surfing variety.

‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’ is available from your friendly local bookshop, or: Readings, Booktopia, Amazon Australia, US, UK

Ah, those Gold Coast days…

1 Feb

Well, this book has been a loo-ong time coming (what’s fifteen years or so, between friends?). It’s been so long, in fact, that I’ve published five other books, while I’ve been working on it. Some books take longer than others to find their perfect form.

So here it is – release day! It’s been worth the wait. Thanks so much to Wakefield Press for steering this book to publication and to my son, Tim Eddy, for the little video.

I thought I’d post a short extract here to whet your appetite. There is so much of my teenage self in this book – ah, those Gold Coast days…

***

‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’

Chapter One:

Whenever I see a girl in a gold bikini, I think of Princess Leia. Here on the Gold Coast, gold bikinis are common, so I think of Princess Leia a lot.

Princess Leia doesn’t stand for any nonsense. When the giant slug made her wear that ridiculous bikini, she whipped out her chain and gave it a thrashing. Then she changed quick smart into something more sensible.

Dance with the hottest crowd in town, our stunning waitresses will ensure …

Punching the radio ‘off’ button, I squeeze my car into a metered spot near Cavill Avenue and glance at my watch. Late again. The good thing about working in Surfers Paradise is that the meter maids will be along soon to stick money in the meter. That’s if they don’t recognise my parents’ bombed-out Daihatsu, in which case they’ll know I’m no tourist, but a shameless leech on the system.

I jog up the street, jumping sideways to avoid getting wiped out by a guy with a nine-foot surfboard on his head. A tout calls out from a doorway, gesturing towards his shop. Get your stuffed koalas, didgeridoos and Akubra hats here, folks. Or that’s what I imagine he’s saying. As I don’t speak Japanese it’s hard to be sure.

I nod at the tout. He nods back. Seiji’s All Australian Souvenir Shop and Outback Bar is my regular lunchtime haunt. I don’t buy much but it’s always quiet in there, compared to the hustle bustle of the street. Seiji is nice. He never seems to mind if my ice-cream drips. He’s a good salesman, too.

As I push through the door of Gold Star Investigations I pause to savour the thrill it gives me. Here I am. Straight out of school and already a private investigator in training. It’s funny, though, how when dreams come true they’re never quite what you expect.

I hadn’t thought it would be so hard to work with Rosco. He and I are no strangers. We grew up on the same street in Southport. He was one year ahead of me in school, but we hung out together after hours. Rosco was Luke Skywalker and Han Solo to my Leia. We took turns to play Yoda, and very accomplished in Yoda-speak we were. The force was with us. I misheard this phrase the first time he said it, before I watched the movies, and the horse is with you became our little in-joke.

***

‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’ is available in all good bookshops and online at retailers such as Booktopia and Readings.

You can read more about the book here.

I’m doing a few events around the place to celebrate the book’s release. You can check them out here. I’ll post more as they come up.

YAY!

Heading West

1 Apr

Well, it’s not long now until we pack up the car and start the big drive across the Nullarbor to Western Australia. I think it might be around, oh, fifty hours’ drive from here to there. Luckily, we have a few weeks and plenty of amazing places to see on the way.

I’ve lined up a few writerly events while I’m over there and look forward to meeting lots of new readers and writers.

First up is Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival, from the 3-5 May. I’m doing four events on at the festival, including a workshop on flash fiction, which should be fun. After that, I’ll be sticking around for the Young Readers and Writers Festival. Not to mention doing some surfing.

Next, I’ll head up to Perth, where I’ll be talking at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre on ‘Spinning Boring Thread into Comedic Gold’ on May 31st. It’s part of the Sundowner Series and I gather there’s wine involved, which is always nice.

Lastly, I’ll head further north to Geraldton for the Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival from June 13-16. I’ll talk about my novel ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’, and do a reading at a high tea with cake and scones – big yay for that one! Also hope to do some snorkelling on the beautiful Coral Coast while I’m up there.

Never having seen much of WA, I’m beyond excited. If you’re in West Australia, or you’re headed that way, I hope to see you there!

‘Paris Syndrome’ ebook giveaway

17 Apr

Hello,
The lovely people at HarperCollins have given me a few ebooks, so I’m giving one away. The book will be available through the Bluefire Reader app using a code which I’ll supply to the winner. If you’ve already read it, you can pass the code onto a friend.
To go into the draw head over to Instagram or Facebook!
x Lisa

A touch of Paris in Brisbane

8 Apr

I first heard of Paris Syndrome a few years ago. The condition is a form of culture shock and is particularly experienced by Japanese tourists who become distressed when Paris doesn’t live up to their romantic expectations. It was a strange idea to me, that people could have such an idealised view of Paris that they would fall sick when it failed to deliver. Yet, it is true. Few other cities come with such a wealth of fantasies attached.

Paris is the City of Love, after all, the most romantic place in the world. It is easy to believe that it’s a city full of accordion players and elegant women walking poodles but, as wonderful as the city is, that is not the reality of Paris today.

A few years ago, I dragged my family along on a Parisian literary pilgrimage. We drank café au lait at the Café de Flore, where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir used to hang out discussing existentialism. We browsed the bookshelves in the historic Shakespeare and Company bookshop, where writers can sleep for free among the books while working on their novel. We strolled around Victor Hugo’s house, where he wrote Les Misérables, and gazed out at the manicured park and chimneyed apartments outside. In Paris, I felt that I was at the centre of something – in a place where ideas are the lifeblood.

So I was very tempted to write a novel set in Paris, but, well, it seemed a little obvious. I decided to subvert that idea. The jarring clash between reality and imagination which causes Paris Syndrome was more interesting.

I grew up in Brisbane, which has its own charms – it’s warm, liveable and not too big – but it sure ain’t Paris. The character of Happy came to me. A Brisbane girl who dreams of walking the streets of Montmartre. Of skipping stones in St Martin’s Canal. Of popping into a photo booth in the Metro and flirting with an eccentric Frenchman. A girl who is so crazy about the movie Amélie, that she imagines when she gets to Paris her hair will morph into an elfin bob as she rides her scooter past the Arc de Triomphe.

So, while I do adore Paris, I decided to set ‘Paris Syndrome’ in Brisbane. Instead of the Seine, Happy has the Brisbane River. Instead of the Eiffel Tower, she has the much smaller replica which sits outside a café in Milton. Gradually she starts to realise that problems aren’t solved by changing locations. Life unfolds wherever you are.

You can read more about ‘Paris Syndrome’ over on my website.

IMG_1085 (002)

Where it all started – at Amelie’s greengrocer in Montmartre

paris syndrome cover low res

‘Paris Syndrome’ release day and launch

18 Mar

It’s always a moment of mixed emotions when a book goes out into the world, but ‘Paris Syndrome’ is particularly special.

‘Paris Syndrome’ is my first book with a young adult protagonist. The first novel I ever wrote, which will never see the light of day, was a young adult fantasy, but I turned to adult fiction after that. Many years ago, a publisher said to me, ‘You know, you have a great voice for YA.’ I never forgot that, and at last decided to give it another go. I have always loved reading young adult fiction. Things seem closer to the bone and that adds extra power to the story-telling.

So today my protagonist Happy goes public. She’s a quirky Brisbane girl who’s obsessed with Paris. I loved writing her story and hope she goes well. Bon anniversaire Happy! If you live in my local area, I’d love to see you at the launch.

And if you’d like to watch a 15 second book trailer with some accordion music to get you in a Parisian mood click here

Paris Syndrome

30 Oct

It’s only five months now until my debut Young Adult novel, ‘Paris Syndrome’ is published and I’m in the thick of proof reading. HarperCollins have been kind enough to send me some reader copies – this means they are un-proofed and they don’t have the final cover. They contain mistakes. Possibly many mistakes. (Thank goodness for editors!) They look pretty good to me though.

Here’s what HarperCollins are saying about it over on their website.

Can romance only be found in Paris, the city of love?

For fans of John Green, this funny and poignant coming-of-age story is about that crazy thing called love. And how it can be found anywhere.

Happiness (Happy) Glass has been a loner since moving to Brisbane and yet still dreams about living in Paris with her best friend Rosie after they finish Year Twelve. But Rosie hasn’t been terribly reliable lately.

When Happy wins a French essay competition, her social life starts looking up. She meets the eccentric Professor Tanaka and her girl-gardener Alex who recruit Happy in their fight against Paris Syndrome – an ailment that afflicts some visitors to Paris. Their quest for a cure gives Happy an excellent excuse to pursue a good-looking French tourism intern, also called Alex. To save confusion she names the boy Alex One and the girl Alex Two.

As Happy pursues her love of all things French, Alex Two introduces Happy to her xylophone-playing chickens whose languishing Facebook page Happy sponsors.

But then sex messes things up when, confusingly, Happy ends up kissing both of the Alexes. Soon neither of them is speaking to her and she has gone from two Alexes to none …

In a preemptive celebration, I’m giving away one of the reader copies over on Facebook. If you’d like to play ‘spot the mistakes’, head over there. Otherwise, hold on for April!