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  • Books, Grimm, Interview

    Shaved Hills, Great Aunts & Eclectic Reading: an Interview with Kate de Goldi

    04.02.09 | Permalink | Comments Off on Shaved Hills, Great Aunts & Eclectic Reading: an Interview with Kate de Goldi

    book coverKate de Goldi, author of The 10 pm Question (which we thought was one of the best books published last year) and Wellingtonian, kindly took some time out to answer a few questions about reading, writing, inspiration, characterisation… check out what she has to say, especially if you’re an aspiring writer; there is some good advice and useful insights in here. Many thanks to Kate for playing ball with us. We look forward to reading your next book!

    1. What books did you enjoy reading in high school?

    I read quite a variety of books…I was – and still am – the kind of eternally hungry (and often indiscriminate) reader who needs something, anything, as long as it’s print, so I read trash as often as I read good stuff. Literal boxes full of Mills and Boons, for example… predictable, reliable, junk food. Short term pleasure, zero long-term sustenance. I read a lot of historical romances – Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, Catherine Cookson, – these were a step up from M&B, (more developed, slightly less clichéd characters, often genuinely interesting historical contexts and interesting settings, but still formulaic (I suspect the less well-written vampire fiction today fills the same need for the erotic and the comfortably dangerous)). I read crime fiction – beginning (as girls often did then) with the Queens of Crime, Dorothy L Sayers, Christie, Ngaio Marsh)… and spy thrillers by men… whatever was in the school library or around the house… I read some science-fiction, loved John Wyndham and CS Lewis.
    I read and re-read a lot of children’s books, though I was in my teens – the ones on my bookcase (all the standard – and excellent – children’s writers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, American, British, Australian and some European). I read every young adult book I could get my hands on – the 70s (when I was at high school) was when the YA genre really began hitting its stride… writers like Paul Zindel, ME Kerr, Robert Cormier, John Townsend, John Christopher, Robert Westall, Jan Mark, Margaret Mahy… were all producing great stuff.

    In mid-high school I began reading adult literary fiction… I started by ‘doing’ my parents’ book case… they had handsome casebound collections of Dickens and Galsworthy and I read many of those… also, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Laurie Lee, EM Forster… There was a lot of history books on those shelves, too, and I read most of those – histories of the French Revolution, of the Second World War (I was obsessed with WWII), of Italy, of the Wars of the Roses, of the NZ gold rushes, biographies of Napoleon, of Louis 14th, of the English monarchs… We had the complete New Zealand Heritage (instalments of NZ history that made up several volumes… I loved those).

    Read more…


  • Horror, Interview, Simon

    Ryan. Chris Ryan.

    01.12.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Ryan. Chris Ryan.

    Some interesting facts about Chris Ryan, author of the Alpha Force series:

    8 The number of days Chris Ryan spent in the Iraqi desert with no food and little water after the Bravo Two Zero mission went wrong during the first Gulf War in 1991

    800,000 The number of copies sold of his book The One That Got Away, his account of the mission and his escape from enemy forces

    5 million The total number of books he has sold in several genres

    16 The age at which he unsuccessfully tried to join the Army

    10 The number of years he spent in the SAS, completing both covert and overt missions

    15 The number of spiders that crawled out of a wound he sustained during jungle training in Brunei

    (If only a single spider crawled out of a wound I sustained I probably wouldn’t be here today – but then I’m not in the SAS.) Read the rest of the article about Chris Ryan.


  • Interview, Simon, Writing

    Fluff, embellishments & reality TV: an interview with William Kostakis

    16.10.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Fluff, embellishments & reality TV: an interview with William Kostakis

    William Kostakis is an Australian writer, whose book Loathing Lola is in the library now. He very kindly agreed to be interviewed for the Teen Blog, and we asked a few probing questions about writing …

    1. At what age did you begin writing? How old were you when you first had something published?

    I guess I started in Year One. I always loved story-writing tasks. At the end of the year, I won the award for ‘excellence in creative writing’. How anyone can judge ‘excellence’ in a seven-year-old creative writer is beyond me, I’d call it ‘the ability to string four maybe five words together on a page coherently’, but hey, excellence or not, labelling it like that must have gone straight to my head. Early in Year Three, I first had something published, I was a finalist in a cinquain competition for a kids magazine called the Starfish Generation. I remember it off by heart:

    Dogs.
    Bite people.
    Stay away okay?
    Dogs are very vicious.
    Fluff.

    … It isn’t very good.

    2. Do you write professionally, or do you need to work a regular day-job? And does it interfere with your writing?

    I’m a full-time student at Sydney University studying Media and Communications, and I’m also a private suite attendant at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Sydney Football Stadium, so writing’s what I do when I have nothing to do. I guess I’m used to it, though. I grew up balancing writing with high school and a horrible job at McDonald’s… if I just wrote, I don’t think I’d know what to do with all that spare time.

    3. Where do you get your ideas for writing from?

    More often than not, I base my work on personal experiences. Obviously, I embellish and the stories end up completely different to what I based them off, but my personal experiences are my starting points, usually. Take Loathing Lola for instance. It’s about a teenage girl who stars in her own TV show… which has absolutely nothing to do with my life. But if you look at what it started as – a story about someone grieving the death of a loved one – you can see how my personal experience has marked the story (a close friend passed away as I was writing the book). When I’m not writing from personal experience, I’m usually writing to make fun of something (which is where the whole anti-reality TV message came from). For example, when I won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year in 2005, one of my stories, ‘Bing Me’, was written solely as a way to pay out a friend who was in an internet “relationship”.

    4. Who are your favourite authors?

    Hmmm… Terry Pratchett’s amazing – in one sentence, he can make you laugh at and care for the same character. Chuck Palahniuk’s good in small doses. But really, I’m not that big a reader. Like most teens, I’m more of a TV and movies kind of guy.

    5. We really like haiku – can you summarise Loathing Lola in haiku form?

    I’ve never written a haiku before, so don’t judge, but…

    Fun in funeral
    and the smart in smart-arses
    Loathing Lola rocks.



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