Archives 2011/2012

7th June, 2012: What I’ve Been Doing

  • Finishing second draft of Quintana of Charyn and just about to go into edit. I tried very hard not to introduce new characters, but in saying that, if a character so much as sneezed in Froi of the Exiles, they’re back again in Quintana with a crucial role. Once again, it’s mostly told from Froi’s point of view, but this is how the novel begins (obviously not Froi’s point of view):

There’s a babe in my belly that whispers the valley …

  • Writing a short story for Review of Australian Fiction called Ferragost.  It features Lady Celie of the Flatlands and it’s set in a castle on the isle of Ferragost in Belegonia where Celie is stranded with the Castellan of the castle and four other characters. So obviously there is a murder, as tends to happen in an isolated castle on tiny isles in Belegonia, and Celie finds herself investigating the murder and making a bit of a nuisance of herself in the eyes of Banyon, who happens to be the mysterious Castellan of the castle, who of course is harbouring a secret or two himself and is also co-harbouring a bit of a crush. Ferragost will be online at http://www.reviewofaustralianfiction.com    sometime in July with a Kirsty Eagar short story (who I’ll be conversing with some time soon here about point of view and curses).
  • Writing an episode for Season 3 of Dance Academy. I love working with these people.
  • Working on a pitch document for a 10 part TV series with Cathy Randall and our producers. A pitch document has to convince a network that they will invest money in the development of our idea and it takes weeks and days and hours to put together because you have to establish a story arc, as well as characters, as well as the setting, and convey how this is different to anything else out there, and it all has to be done in a couple of pages.
  • Finally, always always always putting final touches on the Jellicoe Script to make it everything it should be.

2nd May, 2012

I’m a bit up to my neck with deadlines at the moment so trying to stay focused.

I’m currently working on a draft of Quintana before it goes to edit later this month. I can say in all honesty that the end of the trilogy is everything I want it to be. Plus there’s not a cliff hanger in sight. My wonderful editor Amy Thomas had this to say about Quintana of Charyn in her notes (with her permission)

Froi has developed over the course of the three books into such a brave, brave character, so devoted in his drive….he really is someone we can’t help but fall in love with. The themes of redemption and the complexity of personal and political conflict are all here; satisfyingly playing out the recurring idea that there is no completely irredeemable person or group of people (except for Bestiano and Donashe, perhaps); and the truth that realisations about others are often wrong or incomplete to begin with, and inevitably shift over time as characters surprise each other with their bravery, empathy and humour in the face of tragedy and hardship, and above all, with their common humanity.

Just a few other quick things with regards to updating events.

– I will in all probability be doing a Perth talk in September. Won’t be sure of a date until late July.

– Apart from San Diego in July, there’s a chance I’ll be part of an event at LA Public library later that month and there’s talk of an event on the East Coast. Fingers crossed.

2nd April 2012: SPEAKING EVENTS THIS YEAR IN AUSTRALIA AND USA

Hobart

Tasmanian State Conference for English Teachers28th April

(I’m presuming this is for English teachers only)

http://www.tate.neat.tas.edu.au/pdf/REGISTRATION_BOOKLET.pdf

Sydney

ALIA- 8.30-11am12July

http://conferences.alia.org.au/alia2012/program.html

Balmain Library -2pm12July

San Diego, USA

16th  July – Details to be confirmed

Melbourne

Melbourne Writer’s Festival25-29th August

Western Australia

Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival Geraldton  14-16September

(I may also have a small bookstore event  in Perth with Perth YA Fans Unite if there’s enough interest)

Canberra

Canberra Readers Festival22 September

Sydney

Bookstore event in Sydney for the release of Quintana in October.

28th March 2012: INTRODUCING PIP HARRY YA AUTHOR OF I’LL TELL YOU MINE

Okay, I’m a bit sick of myself so I thought once in a while I’d introduce you to someone new.  I met Pip last year when she was putting the finishing touches on her novel I’ll Tell You Mine and of course the  moment she mentioned the word ‘boarding school’ I was intrigued and that’s my blurb on the front cover.

I asked her a bunch of questions, especially about what the big difference between an emo and a goth was and also about the character of Kate and where she came from. Below is the synopsis as well as an extract, and a few answers to my questions.  It’s out next week (although when I was in Melbourne last Friday Simmone Howell said she saw it in a bookstore)

***

Kate Elliot isn’t trying to fit in – that’s the whole point of being a goth, isn’t it?

Everything about her – from her hair to her clothes – screams different and the girls at her school give her a wide berth. How can Kate be herself, really herself, when she’s hiding her big secret? The one that landed her in boarding school in the first place. She’s buried it down deep but it always seems to surface.

But then sometimes your soul mates sneak up on you in the most unlikely of places. Like Norris Grammar Boarding School for Girls, where’s she’s serving a life sentence, no parole…

Here’s the thing. I’ve been kicked out of home. After the last thing I did I ran out of chances. Tipped all my parents’ patience out on the floor like the last bit of milk in the container. They just lost it. Fair enough, I suppose. I did do something pretty bad. So bad I can’t even say it out loud. Neither can Mum. We both just: Don’t. Talk. About. It

***

http://www.pipharry.com

“The voice of Kate was really strong and clear to me from the first sentences – she was angry and confused, but also funny and self-depreciating. I liked her right away. Maybe she reminded me a bit of myself at 15, too, although we probably wouldn’t have been friends. I was a jock and Kate hates the gym!

In the first draft Kate was actually an emo, but later, when my publisher urged me to do a bit more research into emos vs goths, I decided she was definitely a goth. I really dived into gothic culture from that point – finding out how they dress, what they believe in and especially, what music they lik

7th June, 2012: What I’ve Been Doing

  • Finishing second draft of Quintana of Charyn and just about to go into edit. I tried very hard not to introduce new characters, but in saying that, if a character so much as sneezed in Froi of the Exiles, they’re back again in Quintana with a crucial role. Once again, it’s mostly told from Froi’s point of view, but this is how the novel begins (obviously not Froi’s point of view):

There’s a babe in my belly that whispers the valley …

  • Writing a short story for Review of Australian Fiction called Ferragost.  It features Lady Celie of the Flatlands and it’s set in a castle on the isle of Ferragost in Belegonia where Celie is stranded with the Castellan of the castle and four other characters. So obviously there is a murder, as tends to happen in an isolated castle on tiny isles in Belegonia, and Celie finds herself investigating the murder and making a bit of a nuisance of herself in the eyes of Banyon, who happens to be the mysterious Castellan of the castle, who of course is harbouring a secret or two himself and is also co-harbouring a bit of a crush. Ferragost will be online at http://www.reviewofaustralianfiction.com    sometime in July with a Kirsty Eagar short story (who I’ll be conversing with some time soon here about point of view and curses).
  • Writing an episode for Season 3 of Dance Academy. I love working with these people.
  • Working on a pitch document for a 10 part TV series with Cathy Randall and our producers. A pitch document has to convince a network that they will invest money in the development of our idea and it takes weeks and days and hours to put together because you have to establish a story arc, as well as characters, as well as the setting, and convey how this is different to anything else out there, and it all has to be done in a couple of pages.
  • Finally, always always always putting final touches on the Jellicoe Script to make it everything it should be.

2nd May, 2012

I’m a bit up to my neck with deadlines at the moment so trying to stay focused.

I’m currently working on a draft of Quintana before it goes to edit later this month. I can say in all honesty that the end of the trilogy is everything I want it to be. Plus there’s not a cliff hanger in sight. My wonderful editor Amy Thomas had this to say about Quintana of Charyn in her notes (with her permission)

Froi has developed over the course of the three books into such a brave, brave character, so devoted in his drive….he really is someone we can’t help but fall in love with. The themes of redemption and the complexity of personal and political conflict are all here; satisfyingly playing out the recurring idea that there is no completely irredeemable person or group of people (except for Bestiano and Donashe, perhaps); and the truth that realisations about others are often wrong or incomplete to begin with, and inevitably shift over time as characters surprise each other with their bravery, empathy and humour in the face of tragedy and hardship, and above all, with their common humanity.

Just a few other quick things with regards to updating events.

– I will in all probability be doing a Perth talk in September. Won’t be sure of a date until late July.

– Apart from San Diego in July, there’s a chance I’ll be part of an event at LA Public library later that month and there’s talk of an event on the East Coast. Fingers crossed.

2nd April 2012: SPEAKING EVENTS THIS YEAR IN AUSTRALIA AND USA

Hobart

Tasmanian State Conference for English Teachers28th April

(I’m presuming this is for English teachers only)

http://www.tate.neat.tas.edu.au/pdf/REGISTRATION_BOOKLET.pdf

Sydney

ALIA- 8.30-11am12July

http://conferences.alia.org.au/alia2012/program.html

Balmain Library -2pm12July

San Diego, USA

16th  July – Details to be confirmed

Melbourne

Melbourne Writer’s Festival25-29th August

Western Australia

Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival Geraldton  14-16September

(I may also have a small bookstore event  in Perth with Perth YA Fans Unite if there’s enough interest)

Canberra

Canberra Readers Festival22 September

Sydney

Bookstore event in Sydney for the release of Quintana in October.

28th March 2012: INTRODUCING PIP HARRY YA AUTHOR OF I’LL TELL YOU MINE

Okay, I’m a bit sick of myself so I thought once in a while I’d introduce you to someone new.  I met Pip last year when she was putting the finishing touches on her novel I’ll Tell You Mine and of course the  moment she mentioned the word ‘boarding school’ I was intrigued and that’s my blurb on the front cover.

I asked her a bunch of questions, especially about what the big difference between an emo and a goth was and also about the character of Kate and where she came from. Below is the synopsis as well as an extract, and a few answers to my questions.  It’s out next week (although when I was in Melbourne last Friday Simmone Howell said she saw it in a bookstore)

***

Kate Elliot isn’t trying to fit in – that’s the whole point of being a goth, isn’t it?

Everything about her – from her hair to her clothes – screams different and the girls at her school give her a wide berth. How can Kate be herself, really herself, when she’s hiding her big secret? The one that landed her in boarding school in the first place. She’s buried it down deep but it always seems to surface.

But then sometimes your soul mates sneak up on you in the most unlikely of places. Like Norris Grammar Boarding School for Girls, where’s she’s serving a life sentence, no parole…

Here’s the thing. I’ve been kicked out of home. After the last thing I did I ran out of chances. Tipped all my parents’ patience out on the floor like the last bit of milk in the container. They just lost it. Fair enough, I suppose. I did do something pretty bad. So bad I can’t even say it out loud. Neither can Mum. We both just: Don’t. Talk. About. It

***

http://www.pipharry.com

“The voice of Kate was really strong and clear to me from the first sentences – she was angry and confused, but also funny and self-depreciating. I liked her right away. Maybe she reminded me a bit of myself at 15, too, although we probably wouldn’t have been friends. I was a jock and Kate hates the gym!

In the first draft Kate was actually an emo, but later, when my publisher urged me to do a bit more research into emos vs goths, I decided she was definitely a goth. I really dived into gothic culture from that point – finding out how they dress, what they believe in and especially, what music they like. I often found myself writing along to a hard core goth song to get into Kate’s mood!

So what are the differences between emos and goths? It’s a standing joke between Kate and her friend Maddy because Maddy thinks they are the same thing. But they’re absolutely not

Goths

Music: Goth music developed in the late 70s as a post-punk movement. Goths followed this kind of music and a sub-culture developed.

Dress: Victorian or medieval inspired (think velvet and lace, corsets) which is how Kate dresses too. But there are lots of other styles including chokers, large boots, fishnet and mesh clothing, leather, rubber, latex or vinyl or punk inspired (think leather jackets, spiked or studded jewellery).

Do goths always wear black? Yes, mostly! But sometimes they throw in some white or red, and have their hair dyed, usually purple or black. They can use pale foundation, and usually have striking dark lips and eyes. Boys also wear make-up if they like.

Thought bubble: Some people think all goths are scary or depressed, but in fact they are usually creative, original and lovely. Normal people who drink cups of tea, read and hang out with their friends like the rest of us.

Emos

Music: Emo is a shortened nickname for a type of music called Emotional Hardcore, which had melodic and expressive lyrics. The term evolved into describing the fans of the music, who were often very, er, emotional!

Dress: Skinny jeans, band tee shirts, jagged fringes that cover one side of the face, thick horn rimmed glasses.

Thought bubble: Emos get a bad rap for being whiny and down in the dumps (“cheer up, emo kid” has become a popular saying for someone having a bad day) but in fact they are usually just sensitive, shy music lovers.

*If you are emo or goth and I’ve made a mistake in this list, please feel free to correct me. It’s a confusing and controversial topc.”

17th March 2012

I managed to squeeze in a few Q and As and blog posts this month in between the writing and deadlines. The first went up yesterday:

http://whatchyareading.net/2012/03/16/interview-with-melina-marchetta/

And there’ll be two next week to look out for about landscape and photos in Froi of the Exiles as well as the problems that can arise with sequels and companion novels, focusing mostly on The Piper’s Son and Froi of the Exiles

http://chachic.wordpress.com/

http://engage.reading.org/Home/

27th February, 2012

I love this cover for the E book bundle of Finnikin and Froi which will soon be available at online stores.  The designer of every one of my Australian novels since Francesca has been Marina Messiha at Penguin and I’m always so excited to see what she does next.  On my wall in front of me at the moment is the Quintana cover (stuck between US Froi and Australian Froi covers- it’s almost a warped love triangle).

I think I’ve also mentioned before that the photographer/model of the Australian Froi shot is American, Zach Ahern and he features below again. In case I haven’t mentioned him, here’s an interview he did with the lovely British, Jo.  I just love all this multiculturalism.

http://www.weartheoldcoat.com/2012/01/interview-with-zack-ahern-photographer.html

14th February, 2012

Yesterday I finished first draft of Quintana of Charyn (118,000 words for the record. It will be longer than Finnikin and shorter than Froi).  First draft for me is the hardest part of the job. Writing actually hurts during those months.

I calculated yesterday that since beginning Finnikin back in 2007, I’ve been writing for almost five years straight, back to back. 5 novels, a film script and 1 TV script (Dance Academy, Season 2 begins on the ABC in March) And I’m a bit on the tired side. And last night I slept for 8 hours straight which is like a coma for me. And for the next few weeks before I begin second draft, I’m going to keep away from Froi and that beautiful crazy girl of his and I’m going to watch DVD box sets and read, and engage in witty conversation. Don’t get me wrong. My world doesn’t stop when I’m writing because the people in my life won’t let me be that indulgent, but in a way, it feels as if my mind doesn’t belong completely to me because I’m always worried about a deadline, or sorting out the relationship problems of at least sixty or so characters (my fault for the cast of thousands in every novel).

So here’s to The Good Wife Season 2 (I have the biggest girl crush on every woman on that show) and Downton Abbey Season 2 and FNL Seasons 4.

Also, I promise I’ll only do this once in a while, but in celebration of handing in first draft and leading up to Froi’s release in the US, I’ve chosen a few links to some wonderful US blog and industry reviews that have popped up over the week.

http://oopswrongcookie.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

http://paperblogprincess.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

http://www.mountainsofinstead.com

http://bloggers-heart-books.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

 

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2012/01/19/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-serie

http://publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-4759-9  

And these two belong to Finnikin of the Rock

http://www.candacesbookblog.com/

http://www.justinsbookblog.com/2012/02/book-review-finnikin-of-rock-by-melina.html

28th January, 2012 – Quintana – The Travels – Part 1

I don’t think there are any spoilers here, but I’d say the post is mostly for Finnikin/Froi and future Quintana readers and anyone interested in how travel shapes a novel.

A friend asked me before I left for Europe why I couldn’t write the novel by looking at pictures. It was a fair enough question. This is the best way I can explain it.

At St Pancras International station in London, the young girl who serves me coffee asks me if I’m Spanish, (Spagnola?) and there’s such excitement in her eyes when she speaks that one word. It’s heart breaking to tell her I’m not.  And then, in Provins, an hour out of Paris,  (pronounced Provar) I buy a bottle of wine and offer a glass to the owner of the B and B who says yes and we stand smiling at each other for a while and then she speaks French to me and I speak English to her and we pretend we understand what we’re both saying. I try to explain I’m a writer and in a fit of egotistical I-don’t-know-who-else-to-use-as-an-example, I mention Victor Hugo and point to books on her table. But regardless of everything, we still drink a glass of wine together.

And that’s the type of stuff that goes into novel without you realising. A foreigners yearning for their homeland. The communication between two people who don’t share a language. The smell of one thousand year old houses made of stone.  A tip to go see a mosaic miniture church in Guernsey that we joke about the whole day because we’re imagining how gaudy it is. Untill I see it and realize that parts of it will be the inner walls of an underground city, and other parts of it will be a hiding place in a valley. They are things that I didn’t know I’d write before I left for my research trip, things that can’t be found in a photograph. I have to work hard at world building and when I travel, I feel as if I’m a step closer to realising my setting. So the photos below will make up bits and pieces of Quintana of Charyn.

 

The back entrance of the ceramic church which is going to be the front entrance of a hideout in the valley.  (Guernsey)

The Ceramic walls (Guernsey Island)  which will describe the inner walls of a chamber in the underground city of Sebastabol.

Below, a view from one of the windows cut out of the cave church.

I imagine that the Provincaro of Sebastabol lives in a fortress overlooking the ocean and surrounded by rocks

 

And that Sebastabol has town steps that lead down to the port. Froi and his companions stay high up in the town and have a view of the ocean. I make sure they almost have strokes just like I did everytime I had to get back to our B and B.

Below, my friend, Barb, found this written on a front door in Guernsey so we called it Lucian’s House.

 

I came across this little river below and imagined that this is how it runs through the back of Beatriss’ village and it’s where her first child is buried. (Provins, France)

 

Below is a well in Orvieto Italy.  My photos are crap, but Kristin who was with me in Italy has some great ones on her blog which will give you a better look inside the well.

http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/2012/01/some-photos-from-rome-and-orvieto.html  

I’m using part of the inside of the well for the physical layout of a fortress where Froi hides with an army, but I’m adding chambers to some of the floors.

I don’t usually include personal photographs but here are two of my travelling companions.  Barbara, below, with the Guernsey (Sebastabol) landscape behind her. She’s a very dear friend who lives in Ireland.  The beauty of my travel is that we get to go on mini adventures every year or so and she’s as much a history freak as I am.

Kristin (below with me) edited parts of Bitterblue in my home last year when I was writing Froi, so we talk about the essence of both those novels finding themselves in the ether. We’re in Rome here and behind us of course is the famous Dolce Vita scene.

Answers to some FAQ about the Lumatere Chronicles dates

Froi of the Exiles is being released in the US in March 2012

Quintana of Charyn is being released in Australian in October 2012 (very powerful cover)

Quintana of Charyn is being released in the US in March 2013

QofC will end the current story. There is no new Lumatere Chronicles in the works, but I think I may write a short story or two about the secondary characters.

And then if I let my imagination wander, I think of Jehr in Yutlind Sud. And whether the Osterians are really as boring as the Lumaterans and Charynites think they are. And if one day the whole land of Skuldenore has to band together because they’ll be attacked by offlanders. And of course those bare headed novices in Sendecane.

12th December, 2011:  Travels for Quintana and Froi Q and A

Below is one of the underground caves of Provins that I’m hoping to see in January.  My Froi and Arjuro scenes in the caves outside Sebastabol look like this.

In January I’ll be travelling to Europe to fine tune the Quintana landscape and then hand in the manuscript. I’m visiting London (shopping); Kent (Rochester castle); St Peter Port Guernsey (because it’s what I imagine Sebastabol looking like); a town outside Paris called Provins (see above); Paris (do I need a reason); Orvieto and Civita in Italy (more underground tunnels and caves); Rome, (more shopping) and Amsterdam (Van Gough Gallery and Anne Frank House).  And yes I know it’s going to be freezing cold but I need to be freezing cold because my characters are freezing cold and I want to know how they feel. After my Game of Thrones addiction I started listening to the novel and G R R Martin knows how to write cold weather.

It’s a lot to pack in two and half weeks but a good way to begin the year.

I’m ending the year with a Q and A on Lorraine Marwood’s blog.

http://lorrainemarwoodwordsintowriting.blogspot.com/2011/12/guest-author-interview-fabulous-melina.html

This one focuses mostly on Froi and fantasy writing and I tried not to give away too much, but please read with care because I may have inadvertently revealed something about the Finnikin and Froi novels for those who may want to read them.

Lorraine Marwood, by the way, is a writer herself.  Her verse novel “Star Jumps” won last year’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award and I met her this year in regional Victoria when I was travelling around with Adele Walsh and Elizabeth Honey. When she asked if I’d do a Q and A for her blog, it was an emphatic yes (plus she’s planning to write fantasy and plus she read the Attolia series because I told her to).

I loved how in each session she’d begin with a poem (below) based on her son when he was a teenager, living at home.  She was a bit of a joy-personified person. She charmed me and I do love to be charmed.

Note on the Door

This is just to tell you

that your room

rotted away

at 9.15am

this morning.

The combination of olds socks,

overdue library books,

homework papers

lolly wraps

was too much.

Natural combustion

ocurred and the combust

that remains

will be great on the garden.

Meanwhile,

I’ve pitched a tent

in the backyard

and paid your library fines.

(From Note on the Door anthology published by Walker Books)

5 December, 2011: The Map of the Jellioce Road

My very talented friend, Anna sketched the above map of Jellicoe and it’s surrounds. This is attached to the film script for a bit of clarity. The details are stunning especially the school buildings.

1 November, 2011: The Jellicoe script and other things

I finally handed in my Jellicoe script and I think (hope) that it’s pretty much all there. Next week we have a read-through with actors (by no means a film casting exercise) which is the final step to the Screen NSW Aurora Workshop we were invited to be part of earlier this year.

On that day there will be nine actors in total who’ll have to read multiple roles (there are 28 speaking parts – the longest monologue belongs to Jonah Griggs and the shortest belongs to a townie skater who calls out “Incoming” to herald the arrival of the cadets in Jellicoe).

For a scriptwriter, hearing your script read out loud is exhilarating and confronting. I’m a tiny bit frightened that I’m going to cry during some of the scenes and I don’t want to lose my credibility in front of professional actors.

On that day the actors and industry execs will give feedback. Then I go off and fiddle around with the script one more time before it’s “taken to market”.  I’m writing Quintana of Charyn at the moment so whenever I hear that term, I always imagine a medieval market town where people are trading fleece for gold coins. We’re going to need a couple of million gold coins.

I’m proud of this script.  It’s been technically three years in the making but untechnically it’s been longer than that. It’s taught me a lot about patience and the importance of less is more. I’ve worked with incredible mentors who didn’t care whether people loved the novel. I was never allowed to ride on the coat tails of Jellicoe fan appreciation.  What’s important to all of us (Cathy Randall, the director and Sue Taylor, the Producer) is that the script stands on its own. Next week, when nine fresh ears hear it spoken out loud, we’ll know if I truly succeeded.

Handing in the script has made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being a writer as much as I do at the moment. I’m kind of where I want to be writing wise and I’m enjoying the process although I find the novels harder and harder to write – especially the fantasies. But the early Froi feedback has been so totally amazing that it’s really overwhelming at times.  It makes me want to get Quintana of Charyn so right. And as much as I’m moved by what readers have to say about my work, what I think I appreciate even more are their expectations. They compete well with mine and force me to lift my game.

PS. And I can’t reinforce enough how I would love to visit and hug every single person who has shown FotE love through letters and blogs and especially on goodreads. Sometimes it’s the only way you know people are reading your work and it’s always the early feedback that means the most.

Now I’m off to wager a bet on The Melbourne Cup.

02 October: 2012:  Froi, Finnikin and point of view (don’t read any further if you haven’t read Finnikin)

FoTR was the first time I used third person narrative and I didn’t realize until then that it was almost as limiting as first person. I had to stick to the one character’s point of view until either a paragraph or chapter break took place.

Most of it was from Finnikin’s pov but he does share chapters or part of a chapter with Trevanion, Lord August, Froi and even Sir Topher.

I was much more decisive about point of view in Froi and chose carefully. Once again I left out Isaboe’s point of view (in FoTR it’s pretty obvious why she doesn’t get a p.o.v) but she’ll get the opening chapter of Quintana of Charyn.

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Froi was giving Lady Beatriss of the Flatlands a voice.  The chapters seen through her eyes were some of my favourites.

(Extract from Froi of the Exiles)

During the early days when the kingdom was reunited, they

had danced a strange dance around each other that spoke of

never being able to return to the lovers they had been. Ten years

apart was too long and the events that had taken place during

that time could not be forgotten. But during the spring this year,

things had changed.

It was on the night of the Harvest Moon Dance when Beatriss

felt his eyes on her from the moment she had crossed the bridge

into the palace village. Vestie, as usual, had run for him, throwing

herself into his arms. Who would have known that Trevanion

and her daughter would share such a bond, but it was a joy to

watch. That night at the celebrations the Queen’s Guard were

impeccably dressed for the occasion with their boots polished

and purple sashes around their waists to match the colours of

the Queen, wearing short coats that looked stylish and much

too attractive to every woman in their presence. And Beatriss

noticed. That’s how she knew that things had changed within

her. Because now she noticed every single woman who looked

at the Captain of the Guard. But that night, he seemed to have

eyes for no one but her and the days of denial were long gone,

for she met his stare with her own. When he offered to escort her

and Vestie to Sennington, it was there in the hallway of Beatriss’s

home as she took her daughter out of his arms that he bent down

and kissed her for the first time in thirteen years, and if it wasn’t

for the child that was pressed between them, she could imagine

where that kiss would have gone.

Since then, he had found any opportunity to stop by for

supper or a ride around the village. They spoke of fallow fields

and his son’s family in the palace and this brave new Lumatere,

and although she was desperate to speak of the past, Trevanion

refused.

‘The past is not important, Beatriss. We don’t look back.’

In the palace village she heard the whispers and suspected

that he would ask her to be his wife soon, and she had practised

her response. Yes. And then a Yes again.

But something had changed in the last few weeks.

21 Sepember, 2011: Sounds , Names and more stuff on Froi

There is a method to the madness of my world and language building in Finnikin and Froi. It’s mostly Italian inspired.  I’ve always been fascinated with the distinct differences between the language/dialects, customs, names and sensibility of the southern and northern Italians.  Sometimes, I imagine in the world of Skuldenore that most of the kingdoms are speaking a different dialect of the same language. There has never been any indication that the languages are completely different, only that Evanjalin and Finnikin were able to speak them all and that some are harsher sounding, more gutteral than others.  One has to only look at Italy to hear the difference a dialect makes.  If a Sicilian was to speak pure dialect to a Milanese, the Italian from Milan would have little idea what the Sicilian was saying.  When I was in primary school, my best friend’s family was from way up in Northern Italy, and I could never understand what her mother was saying because their dialect had a Slavic element to it. So in these novels, I tried to convey a sense that there are hybrids upon hybrids of language.

Here are some other sound and language choices I made and sometimes why.

Most characters from the Lumateran river have names such as Finnikin, Trevananion, Abian, Cibrian, Emmian, Aldron.

Those from the forest and the rock have Italian sounding names (Tesadora, Seranonna,  Celestina, Bartolina (my full name is Carmelina – it’s a very southern Italian thing to add –“ina”  to girls’ names)

Those from the flatlands have traditional English sounding names: Beatriss, August, Celie, Kristopher

The title Yata came from growing up in an Italian, Greek and Lebanese neighbourhood of Sydney.  The greek word for grandmother is yaya and the Lebanese word for grandmother is Tata. So I combined it to pen Yata, the  matriarch/grandmother of the Monts.

For Seranonna, the matriarch of the forest dwellers, I combined sera (night) with nonna (grandmother)

Lagrami comes from the Italian (which comes from Latin of course) lacrime.  I pronounce it Lar-gra-mee.  Sagrami comes from the Italian word sangue for blood. Lagrami/Sagrami is the Goddess of blood and tears in the novel.

The town of  Speranza in Finnikin comes from the Italian word for hope which is ironic because the town is anything but hopeful for anyone except those wanting to disappear.

Blessed Barakah , the term for the Priestking, comes from the Arabic to do with the beneficent force from God (it’s a lot more complicated than that but you can imagine it has to do with light and gifts and spirituality).

And to take the mystique away from it all, Evanjalin comes from watching 5 seasons of Lost and liking the name Evanjaline Lily. I also  have a character named Tippideaux in Froi of the Exiles which was inspired when I signed a novel in the US from someone who hailed from Thibodaux (  /ˈ TIB-ə-doh) Louisiana.

For me, it all comes down to liking the sound of words. Some may notice that I’m a bit obsessed with the “J” sound (Josie, John, Jacob, Jimmy, Jonah, Jude, Evanjalin, Georgie, Arjuro).  I blame it on the Italians for taking the letter “J” out of their alphabet. Perhaps I grew up yearning for it.

Another important aspect of writing for me is not just what I’m saying in a sentence, but what it sounds like.  If I want to write a scene with force and power and I need it to bounce off the walls of the reader’s ears, I make sure I use a repetition of hard consonant sounds (f, d,  p, st, d,  b, t,  c, g etc).  This is from Froi of the Exiles:

And in that confined space where Priestlings once prayed and studied and died, he used fists and palms, smashed heads against stone walls, broke bones, bit flesh and spat it out. ‘You’re a weapon, Froi. The best we’ve ever created,’ Trevanion had told him once. And when De Lancey’s men were writhing in pain at his feet, Froi’s blood cried for more, his breath ragged, his feet dancing around them, wanting them back on their feet. He wanted to do it again. But Arjuro was there blocking his path. ‘Leash it,’ Arjuro hissed. ‘Leash it.’

16 September 2011:

Penguin’s Between the Lines is having a week of me talking about all of the novels.  Here is the first link that was posted on 13 September.

http://penguinbtl.blogspot.com/2011/09/marchetta-madness-week.html

1 September 2011: Prologues and angst

I received my first copy of Froi today. It’s big and it’s beautiful and any pdf I saw of the cover didn’t do it justice. It comes out on the 1st of October and I can honestly say I feel the same excitement and fear that I felt when my first novel was being released back in 1992.

Below I’ve included the prologue and first page of Chapter 1.

I’ve been angsting about prologues a lot lately probably because last week on a regional tour of Victoria with Elizabeth Honey and Adele Walsh I read the first few pages of Finnikin out loud . Or perhaps because I’m writing one at the moment for the last novel in the triology.

Out of seven novels, I’ve used a prologue four times, all for different reasons. In Finnikin it was to provide back-story. In Jellicoe I wanted to introduce a parallel story line. In the Piper’s Son I wanted to convey Tom’s drug and alcohol stupored state of mind. In Froi, the prologue is used to introduce Quintana because she won’t come back into the story for another seven chapters.  It was like a message to the reader: remember this character. She’s going to turn Froi’s life upside down.

Prologues are sometimes the trickiest part of the novel to write because the tone can be different to the rest of the novel and you have to get it right. The prologues in Froi, Piper’s Son and Jellicoe were written once with a few tweaks.  Finnikin’s prologue was re-written so many times that I was beginning to despair.  But reading it aloud last week felt liberating because I loved the way the words felt on my tongue and I especially loved

21 September 2011: Sounds, Names and more Stuff on Froi.

There is a method to the madness of my world and language building in Finnikin and Froi. It’s mostly Italian inspired.  I’ve always been fascinated with the distinct differences between the language/dialects, customs, names and sensibility of the southern and northern Italians.  Sometimes, I imagine in the world of Skuldenore that most of the kingdoms are speaking a different dialect of the same language. There has never been any indication that the languages are completely different, only that Evanjalin and Finnikin were able to speak them all and that some are harsher sounding than others.  One has to only look at Italy to hear the difference a dialect makes.  If someone was to speak pure Sicilian to a Milanese, the Italian from Milan would have little idea what the Sicilian was saying.  When I was in primary school, my best friend’s family was from way up in Northern Italy, and I could never understand what her mother was saying because their dialect had a Slavic element to it. So in these novels, I tried to convey a sense that there are hybrids upon hybrids of langauge.

Here are some other sound and language choices I made and sometimes an explanation why.

Most people from the Lumateran flatlands have similar sounding names: Finnikin, Trevananion, Abian, Cibrian.

Those from the forest and the rock have Italian sounding names (Tesadora, Seranonna,  Celestina, Bartolina (my full name is Carmelina – it’s a very southern Italian thing to add –“ina”  to girls’ names)

Those from the flatlands have traditional English sounding names: Beatriss, August, Celie, Kristopher

The title Yata came from growing up in an Italian, Greek and Lebanese neighbourhood of Sydney.  The greek word for grandmother is yaya and the Lebanese word for grandmother is tata. So I combined it to pen Yata, the  matriarch/grandmother of the Monts.

For Seranonna, the matriarch of the forest dwellers, I combined sera (night) with nonna (grandmother)

Lagrami comes from the Italian (which comes from Latin of course) lacrime.  I pronounce it Lar-gra-mee.  Sagrami comes from the Italian word sangue ( blood). Lagrami/Sagrami is the Goddess of blood and tears in the novel.

The town of Speranza in Finnikin comes from the Italian word for hope which is ironic because the town is anything but hopeful for anyone except those wanting to disappear.

Blessed Barakah , the term for the Priestking, comes from the Arabic to do with the beneficent force from God (it’s a lot more complicated than that but you can imagine it has to do with light and gifts and spirituality).

And to take the mystique away from it all, Evanjalin comes from watching 5 seasons of Lost and liking the name Evanjaline Lily. I also  have a character named Tippideaux in Froi of the Exiles which was inspired when I signed a novel in the US from someone who hailed from Thibodaux (  /ˈ TIB-ə-doh) Louisiana.

For me, it all comes down to liking the sound of words. Some may notice that I’m a bit obsessed with the “J” sound (Josie,

how engrossed the kids were.

Prologue

They call her Quintana the cursemaker. The last female born to Charyn,

eighteen years past.

Reginita, she claims to be. The little Queen. Recipient of the words

writ on her chamber wall, whispered by the gods themselves. That

those born last will make the first, and blessed be the newborn king, for

Charyn will be barren no more.

And so it comes to be that each autumn since the fifteenth day of

weeping, a lastborn son of Charyn visits the palace in a bid to fulfil the

prophecy. But fails each time.

They weep for fear of hurting her. But she has no tears for herself.

‘Come along,’ she says briskly. ‘Be quick. I’ll try to think of other

things, but if your mouth touches mine, I will cut it out.’

Most nights she concentrates on the contours of the ceiling, where

light from the Oracle’s godshouse across the gravina shines into her

chamber. She holds up a hand and makes shapes in the shadows. And

inside of her, in the only place she can hide, Quintana sings her song.

And somewhere beyond the stone that is Charyn, the blood of a

lastborn sings back to her.

Chapter 1

Froi’s head was ringing.

A fist against his jaw, an elbow to his nose, a knee to

his face and they kept on coming and coming, these old

men, he had called them. They came for him one after the other,

and there was no mercy to be had this day. But Froi of the Exiles

wasn’t born for mercy. Not to receive, nor deliver it.

Behind his attackers was a sycamore tree waiting to die,

its limbs half-dragging on the dry ground beneath it, and Froi

took his chance, diving high between two of the men, his hands

reaching for one of the branches, his body swinging, legs jutting

out. Aboot to a face, one man down, then he pounded into

another before the branch collapsed under his weight. He pulled

it free from the tree, swinging the limb high over his head. A

third man down and then the fourth. He heard a curse and a

muttered threat before the flat of his palm smashed the next man

who came forward. Smashed him on the bridge of the nose, and

Froi danced with glee.

Until he was left facing Finnikin of Lumatere and Froi felt the

feralness of his nature rise to the surface. ‘No rules,’ they had

declared, and the dark Goddess knew that Froi loved to play

games with no rules. And so with eyes locked, they circled each

other, hands out, waiting to pounce in the way the wolves in the

Forest of Lumatere fought for their prey. Froi saw a bead of sweat

appear on the brow of the man they called the Queen’s Consort,

saw the quick fist come his way, and so he ducked, his own fist

connecting with precision. But all it took was the thought of the

Queen, her head shaking with bemusement and a smile entering

her eyes, to make Froi think again about where to land his second

blow. In that moment’s hesitation, his legs were kicked out

from under him and he felt his face pressed into the earth.

‘You let me win,’ Finnikin growled, and Froi heard anger in

his voice.

‘Only because she’ll kill me if I bruise that lily-white skin,’

Froi mocked through gasps.

Finnikin pressed harder, but after a moment Froi could feel

that he was shaking from laughter.

20 August 2011 – The Froi fact file

It has a prologue which is only half a page, (but could still upset prologue haters)

It has two maps (which could upset map haters)

It’s has more than one point of view  (which could upset multiple-point-of-view haters)

It’s seen mostly through Froi’s p.o.v (as well as that of Lucian, Finnikin, Beatriss and Phaedra – Lucian’s estranged wife)

The main female character is named Quintana.

It’s mostly set in Charyn, but Lumatere still plays an important part in the story.

It was inspired by the landscape of Matera Italy and Cappadocia Turkey

It has some pretty intense relationships

It’s written in third person, past tense

It has three parts

It has a cliff hanger ending

It’s 590 pages long

It has a family relationship that makes the Finch-Mackees look like the Brady Bunch

10 August 2011

Froi of the Exiles is about to go to print and I’m not really allowed to touch it anymore (Thank you Amy my editor, for being so patient).  I was relieved to still have a bit of a tear in my eye when reading the last couple of chapters and although I have to jump back into the re-write of the Jellicoe script, I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the land of Froi for the final novel.

As part of my one day break from writing I thought I’d make a list of 15 things a reader may not have known about my novels (and stuff that I’ve almost forgotten).

1.Will’s tattoo in The Piper’s Son is a hawk inspired by the feature film Lady Hawke (hawks and wolves mate for life according to Rutger Hauer)

2.Isaboe’s name in Finnikin of the Rock is inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Lady Hawke. (I originally spelt it Ysaboe)

3.When Taylor Markham (Jellicoe) first came to me in 1993 her love interest was Jasper and there were no cadets and no townies and the war was between the Houses of her school. Years later when I picked it up again, I had a dog named Jasper and it killed the romance for me. So Jonah was born (and I still have the dog)

4.The original On the Jellicoe Road title back in 1993 was Taylor and the Jazzman (it would never have won the Printz with this title).

5.The original title of Looking For Alibrandi was The Emancipation of Alibrandi and it was changed just before we went to print.

6.Although I don’t give much of a physical description to my characters, the most traditionally beautiful is Francesca Spinelli.

7.The physical look of Evanjalin from Finnikin was inspired by the French British actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

8.Finnikin and Evanjalin are the medieval fantasy versions of Francesca and Will (the pragmatist versus the dreamer) and Froi and Quintana are the medieval fantasy versions of Jonah and Taylor (broken people who find each other despite the distrust and heartbreak between them). Lucian of the Monts is the medieval fantasy version of Tom Mackee and Chaz Santangelo (strong relationships with their fathers and constantly saying and doing the wrong thing, but their hearts are in the right places).

9.My mum’s favourite novel of mine is Looking For Alibrandi and she was disappointed about the swearing in The Piper’s Son.

10.Danny Griggs from The Gorgon in the Gully is Jonah’s Griggs’ younger brother and his story takes place while Jonah is on some camp out bush.

11.Danny Griggs is named after one of my nephews and Luca Spinelli is named after another.

12.When Tom Mackee’s father, Dominic goes jogging he’s listening to David Gray’s This Year’s Love and thinking of his wife.

13.In The Piper’s Son Ben the violinist is Ben Cassidy from Jellicoe and his band is made up of the Mullet Brothers and Anson Choi.

14.Francesca’s name was originally Anna Carina but I changed it after three chapters because it didn’t ring true.

15.I cry every time in the Fitz-in-the-tree chapter of Jellicoe and will probably have to leave the movie theatre during that scene if it ever makes it to the big screen.

29 July 2011

In a week’s time Froi of the Exiles goes to print which means I can’t touch it anymore.  It clocks in at 585 pages . I’ve seen the US cover (which I can’t show off until the end of the year) and it’s as stunning as the Australian one. I think they’re two of my favourites.

5 June 2011

First up is  German Finnikin.  They decided to focus on Evanjalin and it’s called Winter light (my translation anyway)

The second image is of US paperback Finnikin of the Rock which is coming out in August.  I love it because it’s .a combination of the Australian and the US cover.

Rumour has it that Froi is coming out in the US around March 2012.

30 May 2011 – Email problems

Due to a computer malfunction I managed to lose most emails sent to me this past year up until two weeks ago.  I’ve changed the email address to a gmail one so I’ll be able to retrieve them on any computer, but if I promised anything to you or if you would like to re-send an email, please do.

30 May 2011- Froi of the Exiles first peep coming out October 2010

(I promise there’s a reason why he’s not wearing a shirt)

21 April 2011 – The Jellicoe script.  Where it’s at

Adaptations are strange animals.  I’ve spoken about this before at festivals. It’s like smashing your novel on the ground and sorting through the pieces needed to tell the same story but in a different way.

One of the big issues with a screenplay is length.  Australian films (for funding reasons) can’t really be more than 110 minutes long – most are about 90 minutes.  At this stage the script is still at around 115 pages, which is about a minute a page

The first thing that gets removed in a filmscript is the narrative voice of the novel.  That means that Taylor Markham’s internal voice is gone.  I chose not to replace it with voice over because it’s  a tricky thing.  Some of my favourite films have voice over, but I wanted to find a way of telling this story without it.

Another aspect of writing a screenplay is that most times (but not all) the story follows a 3 act structure which means that in the first act something big has to happen to change the character’s path. It’s called the inciting incident. What I’ve been asked the most from script editors and advisers is the question of what makes Taylor go on this journey at this time in her life? In the novel, Taylor being chosen as leader and Hannah disappearing could be seen as an inciting incident, but in the filmscript it has to be stronger.

Another issue for anyone reading the script who hasn’t read the novel is the many timelines set up in the first 20 minutes.  There’s the present day, there are the kids from eighteen years ago and there’s Taylor’s past. Taylor’s past includes the incident with her mother dumping her in Jellicoe, the Hermit whispering in her ear and Jonah betraying her on the train. If you thought the novel was confusing, the first 20 pages of the script could be a nightmare to read if you’re not familiar with the story.

So at the Aurora workshop last month (amazing experience) one of the advisers suggested something quite audacious.  What if I moved an incident from the past to the present? That way  it would remove a pesky timeline and provide an inciting incident. So I started asking myself the question, what happens if Taylor is drawn to a Hermit who has just set up camp in the bush around the school? What happens if one of the only things he says to her is “Forgive me Taylor Markham”? What if she has no one to ask how he can possibly know her name, especially when Hannah her guardian has mysteriously left town? What happens if two days later, she finds out he’s taken his life? What if she finds pages in his hovel that tell a story of five teens who lived in Jellicoe 18 years ago? What if she discovers those pages have been torn out of her Book of War.

Structurally, this film script is different from the novel.  What stays, however, is Taylor’s need to find answers about why her mother left her in Jellicoe; her intense relationship with Jonah Griggs; their colloboration with Chaz and Raffaela; the territory wars; and the story of five kids in the past who decide to start a war. So it’s kind of all there, but the way I tell the story is different.

That’s where I am at the moment. It’s all pretty exciting and I’m hoping I’ll get it right in the next couple of months. We never think any further ahead than that. There are too many set backs in the film industry so the goal has always been to get the script perfectly right so we can attract the best people to the project.

With regards to the novels, On the Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock have been picked up by a Spanish publisher and the Finnikin Trilogy, known as the Chronicles of Lumatere series  has been picked up by a Turkish publisher.

24 March 2011 – Froi of the Exiles

Here is my first attempt of a synopsis for Froi.  It’s coming out in Australia this October.

Three years after Lumatere is united, Froi has adopted the ways of his new homeland, dividing his days between rebuilding the kingdom and training with the Queen’s Guard. Until a mysterious man arrives with a promise that he can grant a young assassin access into the palace of Lumatere’s enemy: to kill the King of Charyn.

But once inside the secretive kingdom of stone, Froi is forced to protect the half mad Princess Quintana and her unborn child who will be the first babe born to Charyn in eighteen years.  And in breaking his bond to his beloved Queen Isaboe and Finnikin, Froi may just be the one to bring peace between two kingdoms and find out the truth to his past.

22nd February 2011 – Aurora Workshop for Jellicoe and New York

The link below is great news about the Jellicoe fimscript. It’s at least a year or so away from being anything other than a filmscript, but it was the break we were looking for. Take note that they spelt my name wrong!

http://if.com.au/2011/02/22/article/Screen-NSW-selects-five-film-projects-for-Aurora-script-workshop/KIPQCVWTUI.html

 

22nd January 2011 Writers on Rafts

In January 2009 I travelled up and down the Brisbane river all day, hopping on and off and jotting down the different stops in preparation for a scene I was writing forThe Piper’s Son.  The characters of Tom and his beloved little sister Anabel are reuinited on that river after a year of living apart and it’s become one of my favourite scenes in the novel.

During the floods these last few weeks I recognised so many of those river stops and the Queensland towns I’ve visited or driven through over the years. When you’re watching it on television from afar, there is always a sense  of helplessness.

Supporting Writers on Rafts is a simple way you can help raise money and perhaps win something in return for your school, your kids’ school, your bookclub or yourself. Some of the prizes include a writer’s workshop or book packs or a writer using your name in their next novel (Bec Sparrow and Nick Earls once used Emma Marchetta in their book, Joel and Cat and I was giddy for days) If you are a budding writer yourself you can win a manuscript assessment all for a $5.00 ticket.

Below is information sent to me by the QWC.

Writers on Rafts is an initiative of Queensland Writers Centre and author Rebecca Sparrow to raise money for the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal. More than 150 Australian have pledged prizes.

·         To enter Writers on Rafts go to http://www.writersonrafts.com

·         Purchase as many tickets as you like in as many categories as you want!

·         Every ticket is one chance to win for a lucky person in every state and           territory.

·         Every dollar goes directly to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal to           help victims of the Queensland floods.

·         QWC’s goal is to raise $10,000 through Writers On Rafts.

·         We will be conducting the draw on Friday, 25 February.

28th December, 2010

I have a feeling I’m not going to be good at “news and stuff” but I shall try to update at least once a month. Sometimes I may get carried away or be avoiding work and will update more than that.

My major focus for the last four months has been working on Froi of the Exiles which is the sequel to Finnikin. I handed in first draft just before Christmas. Unavoidably, it has one of those cliff hanger endings that people either love or hate, but it will be followed soon after by Quintana of Charyn.   Inspired by those lads in Lumatere,  I’ve pledged in blood that there will be no more than a year between the release of both novels. For those who have read Finnikin,  Froi’s story picks up three years later. There’s a batch of new characters but the world of Lumatere is still important to the story, especially Lucian of the Monts.

Meanwhile, The Piper’s Son will be released on the 8th of March in the US.  I’ll be in New York from the 10th and may be speaking somewhere around town during that time but won’t know details until February. I’ll answer two FAQ about the novel here.  Yes, it is that Ben and No, there isn’t a Jimmy Hailler story in the planning.

Below are photographs of Cappadocia in Turkey.  I was there in September doing research because it’s what I wanted the kingdom of Charyn to look like in the Froi books. It’s a truly amazing place.

e. I often found myself writing along to a hard core goth song to get into Kate’s mood!

So what are the differences between emos and goths? It’s a standing joke between Kate and her friend Maddy because Maddy thinks they are the same thing. But they’re absolutely not

Goths

Music: Goth music developed in the late 70s as a post-punk movement. Goths followed this kind of music and a sub-culture developed.

Dress: Victorian or medieval inspired (think velvet and lace, corsets) which is how Kate dresses too. But there are lots of other styles including chokers, large boots, fishnet and mesh clothing, leather, rubber, latex or vinyl or punk inspired (think leather jackets, spiked or studded jewellery).

Do goths always wear black? Yes, mostly! But sometimes they throw in some white or red, and have their hair dyed, usually purple or black. They can use pale foundation, and usually have striking dark lips and eyes. Boys also wear make-up if they like.

Thought bubble: Some people think all goths are scary or depressed, but in fact they are usually creative, original and lovely. Normal people who drink cups of tea, read and hang out with their friends like the rest of us.

Emos

Music: Emo is a shortened nickname for a type of music called Emotional Hardcore, which had melodic and expressive lyrics. The term evolved into describing the fans of the music, who were often very, er, emotional!

Dress: Skinny jeans, band tee shirts, jagged fringes that cover one side of the face, thick horn rimmed glasses.

Thought bubble: Emos get a bad rap for being whiny and down in the dumps (“cheer up, emo kid” has become a popular saying for someone having a bad day) but in fact they are usually just sensitive, shy music lovers.

*If you are emo or goth and I’ve made a mistake in this list, please feel free to correct me. It’s a confusing and controversial topc.”

17th March 2012

I managed to squeeze in a few Q and As and blog posts this month in between the writing and deadlines. The first went up yesterday:

http://whatchyareading.net/2012/03/16/interview-with-melina-marchetta/

And there’ll be two next week to look out for about landscape and photos in Froi of the Exiles as well as the problems that can arise with sequels and companion novels, focusing mostly on The Piper’s Son and Froi of the Exiles

http://chachic.wordpress.com/

http://engage.reading.org/Home/

27th February, 2012

I love this cover for the E book bundle of Finnikin and Froi which will soon be available at online stores.  The designer of every one of my Australian novels since Francesca has been Marina Messiha at Penguin and I’m always so excited to see what she does next.  On my wall in front of me at the moment is the Quintana cover (stuck between US Froi and Australian Froi covers- it’s almost a warped love triangle).

I think I’ve also mentioned before that the photographer/model of the Australian Froi shot is American, Zach Ahern and he features below again. In case I haven’t mentioned him, here’s an interview he did with the lovely British, Jo.  I just love all this multiculturalism.

http://www.weartheoldcoat.com/2012/01/interview-with-zack-ahern-photographer.html

14th February, 2012

Yesterday I finished first draft of Quintana of Charyn (118,000 words for the record. It will be longer than Finnikin and shorter than Froi).  First draft for me is the hardest part of the job. Writing actually hurts during those months.

I calculated yesterday that since beginning Finnikin back in 2007, I’ve been writing for almost five years straight, back to back. 5 novels, a film script and 1 TV script (Dance Academy, Season 2 begins on the ABC in March) And I’m a bit on the tired side. And last night I slept for 8 hours straight which is like a coma for me. And for the next few weeks before I begin second draft, I’m going to keep away from Froi and that beautiful crazy girl of his and I’m going to watch DVD box sets and read, and engage in witty conversation. Don’t get me wrong. My world doesn’t stop when I’m writing because the people in my life won’t let me be that indulgent, but in a way, it feels as if my mind doesn’t belong completely to me because I’m always worried about a deadline, or sorting out the relationship problems of at least sixty or so characters (my fault for the cast of thousands in every novel).

So here’s to The Good Wife Season 2 (I have the biggest girl crush on every woman on that show) and Downton Abbey Season 2 and FNL Seasons 4.

Also, I promise I’ll only do this once in a while, but in celebration of handing in first draft and leading up to Froi’s release in the US, I’ve chosen a few links to some wonderful US blog and industry reviews that have popped up over the week.

http://oopswrongcookie.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

http://paperblogprincess.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

http://www.mountainsofinstead.com

http://bloggers-heart-books.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/froi-of-exiles-by-melina-marchetta.html

 

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2012/01/19/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-serie

http://publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-4759-9  

And these two belong to Finnikin of the Rock

http://www.candacesbookblog.com/

http://www.justinsbookblog.com/2012/02/book-review-finnikin-of-rock-by-melina.html

28th January, 2012 – Quintana – The Travels – Part 1

I don’t think there are any spoilers here, but I’d say the post is mostly for Finnikin/Froi and future Quintana readers and anyone interested in how travel shapes a novel.

A friend asked me before I left for Europe why I couldn’t write the novel by looking at pictures. It was a fair enough question. This is the best way I can explain it.

At St Pancras International station in London, the young girl who serves me coffee asks me if I’m Spanish, (Spagnola?) and there’s such excitement in her eyes when she speaks that one word. It’s heart breaking to tell her I’m not.  And then, in Provins, an hour out of Paris,  (pronounced Provar) I buy a bottle of wine and offer a glass to the owner of the B and B who says yes and we stand smiling at each other for a while and then she speaks French to me and I speak English to her and we pretend we understand what we’re both saying. I try to explain I’m a writer and in a fit of egotistical I-don’t-know-who-else-to-use-as-an-example, I mention Victor Hugo and point to books on her table. But regardless of everything, we still drink a glass of wine together.

And that’s the type of stuff that goes into novel without you realising. A foreigners yearning for their homeland. The communication between two people who don’t share a language. The smell of one thousand year old houses made of stone.  A tip to go see a mosaic miniture church in Guernsey that we joke about the whole day because we’re imagining how gaudy it is. Untill I see it and realize that parts of it will be the inner walls of an underground city, and other parts of it will be a hiding place in a valley. They are things that I didn’t know I’d write before I left for my research trip, things that can’t be found in a photograph. I have to work hard at world building and when I travel, I feel as if I’m a step closer to realising my setting. So the photos below will make up bits and pieces of Quintana of Charyn.

 

The back entrance of the ceramic church which is going to be the front entrance of a hideout in the valley.  (Guernsey)

The Ceramic walls (Guernsey Island)  which will describe the inner walls of a chamber in the underground city of Sebastabol.

Below, a view from one of the windows cut out of the cave church.

I imagine that the Provincaro of Sebastabol lives in a fortress overlooking the ocean and surrounded by rocks

 

And that Sebastabol has town steps that lead down to the port. Froi and his companions stay high up in the town and have a view of the ocean. I make sure they almost have strokes just like I did everytime I had to get back to our B and B.

Below, my friend, Barb, found this written on a front door in Guernsey so we called it Lucian’s House.

 

I came across this little river below and imagined that this is how it runs through the back of Beatriss’ village and it’s where her first child is buried. (Provins, France)

 

Below is a well in Orvieto Italy.  My photos are crap, but Kristin who was with me in Italy has some great ones on her blog which will give you a better look inside the well.

http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/2012/01/some-photos-from-rome-and-orvieto.html  

I’m using part of the inside of the well for the physical layout of a fortress where Froi hides with an army, but I’m adding chambers to some of the floors.

I don’t usually include personal photographs but here are two of my travelling companions.  Barbara, below, with the Guernsey (Sebastabol) landscape behind her. She’s a very dear friend who lives in Ireland.  The beauty of my travel is that we get to go on mini adventures every year or so and she’s as much a history freak as I am.

Kristin (below with me) edited parts of Bitterblue in my home last year when I was writing Froi, so we talk about the essence of both those novels finding themselves in the ether. We’re in Rome here and behind us of course is the famous Dolce Vita scene.

Answers to some FAQ about the Lumatere Chronicles dates

Froi of the Exiles is being released in the US in March 2012

Quintana of Charyn is being released in Australian in October 2012 (very powerful cover)

Quintana of Charyn is being released in the US in March 2013

QofC will end the current story. There is no new Lumatere Chronicles in the works, but I think I may write a short story or two about the secondary characters.

And then if I let my imagination wander, I think of Jehr in Yutlind Sud. And whether the Osterians are really as boring as the Lumaterans and Charynites think they are. And if one day the whole land of Skuldenore has to band together because they’ll be attacked by offlanders. And of course those bare headed novices in Sendecane.

12th December, 2011:  Travels for Quintana and Froi Q and A

Below is one of the underground caves of Provins that I’m hoping to see in January.  My Froi and Arjuro scenes in the caves outside Sebastabol look like this.

In January I’ll be travelling to Europe to fine tune the Quintana landscape and then hand in the manuscript. I’m visiting London (shopping); Kent (Rochester castle); St Peter Port Guernsey (because it’s what I imagine Sebastabol looking like); a town outside Paris called Provins (see above); Paris (do I need a reason); Orvieto and Civita in Italy (more underground tunnels and caves); Rome, (more shopping) and Amsterdam (Van Gough Gallery and Anne Frank House).  And yes I know it’s going to be freezing cold but I need to be freezing cold because my characters are freezing cold and I want to know how they feel. After my Game of Thrones addiction I started listening to the novel and G R R Martin knows how to write cold weather.

It’s a lot to pack in two and half weeks but a good way to begin the year.

I’m ending the year with a Q and A on Lorraine Marwood’s blog.

http://lorrainemarwoodwordsintowriting.blogspot.com/2011/12/guest-author-interview-fabulous-melina.html

This one focuses mostly on Froi and fantasy writing and I tried not to give away too much, but please read with care because I may have inadvertently revealed something about the Finnikin and Froi novels for those who may want to read them.

Lorraine Marwood, by the way, is a writer herself.  Her verse novel “Star Jumps” won last year’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award and I met her this year in regional Victoria when I was travelling around with Adele Walsh and Elizabeth Honey. When she asked if I’d do a Q and A for her blog, it was an emphatic yes (plus she’s planning to write fantasy and plus she read the Attolia series because I told her to).

I loved how in each session she’d begin with a poem (below) based on her son when he was a teenager, living at home.  She was a bit of a joy-personified person. She charmed me and I do love to be charmed.

Note on the Door

This is just to tell you

that your room

rotted away

at 9.15am

this morning.

The combination of olds socks,

overdue library books,

homework papers

lolly wraps

was too much.

Natural combustion

ocurred and the combust

that remains

will be great on the garden.

Meanwhile,

I’ve pitched a tent

in the backyard

and paid your library fines.

(From Note on the Door anthology published by Walker Books)

5 December, 2011: The Map of the Jellioce Road

My very talented friend, Anna sketched the above map of Jellicoe and it’s surrounds. This is attached to the film script for a bit of clarity. The details are stunning especially the school buildings.

1 November, 2011: The Jellicoe script and other things

I finally handed in my Jellicoe script and I think (hope) that it’s pretty much all there. Next week we have a read-through with actors (by no means a film casting exercise) which is the final step to the Screen NSW Aurora Workshop we were invited to be part of earlier this year.

On that day there will be nine actors in total who’ll have to read multiple roles (there are 28 speaking parts – the longest monologue belongs to Jonah Griggs and the shortest belongs to a townie skater who calls out “Incoming” to herald the arrival of the cadets in Jellicoe).

For a scriptwriter, hearing your script read out loud is exhilarating and confronting. I’m a tiny bit frightened that I’m going to cry during some of the scenes and I don’t want to lose my credibility in front of professional actors.

On that day the actors and industry execs will give feedback. Then I go off and fiddle around with the script one more time before it’s “taken to market”.  I’m writing Quintana of Charyn at the moment so whenever I hear that term, I always imagine a medieval market town where people are trading fleece for gold coins. We’re going to need a couple of million gold coins.

I’m proud of this script.  It’s been technically three years in the making but untechnically it’s been longer than that. It’s taught me a lot about patience and the importance of less is more. I’ve worked with incredible mentors who didn’t care whether people loved the novel. I was never allowed to ride on the coat tails of Jellicoe fan appreciation.  What’s important to all of us (Cathy Randall, the director and Sue Taylor, the Producer) is that the script stands on its own. Next week, when nine fresh ears hear it spoken out loud, we’ll know if I truly succeeded.

Handing in the script has made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being a writer as much as I do at the moment. I’m kind of where I want to be writing wise and I’m enjoying the process although I find the novels harder and harder to write – especially the fantasies. But the early Froi feedback has been so totally amazing that it’s really overwhelming at times.  It makes me want to get Quintana of Charyn so right. And as much as I’m moved by what readers have to say about my work, what I think I appreciate even more are their expectations. They compete well with mine and force me to lift my game.

PS. And I can’t reinforce enough how I would love to visit and hug every single person who has shown FotE love through letters and blogs and especially on goodreads. Sometimes it’s the only way you know people are reading your work and it’s always the early feedback that means the most.

Now I’m off to wager a bet on The Melbourne Cup.

02 October: 2012:  Froi, Finnikin and point of view (don’t read any further if you haven’t read Finnikin)

FoTR was the first time I used third person narrative and I didn’t realize until then that it was almost as limiting as first person. I had to stick to the one character’s point of view until either a paragraph or chapter break took place.

Most of it was from Finnikin’s pov but he does share chapters or part of a chapter with Trevanion, Lord August, Froi and even Sir Topher.

I was much more decisive about point of view in Froi and chose carefully. Once again I left out Isaboe’s point of view (in FoTR it’s pretty obvious why she doesn’t get a p.o.v) but she’ll get the opening chapter of Quintana of Charyn.

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Froi was giving Lady Beatriss of the Flatlands a voice.  The chapters seen through her eyes were some of my favourites.

(Extract from Froi of the Exiles)

During the early days when the kingdom was reunited, they

had danced a strange dance around each other that spoke of

never being able to return to the lovers they had been. Ten years

apart was too long and the events that had taken place during

that time could not be forgotten. But during the spring this year,

things had changed.

It was on the night of the Harvest Moon Dance when Beatriss

felt his eyes on her from the moment she had crossed the bridge

into the palace village. Vestie, as usual, had run for him, throwing

herself into his arms. Who would have known that Trevanion

and her daughter would share such a bond, but it was a joy to

watch. That night at the celebrations the Queen’s Guard were

impeccably dressed for the occasion with their boots polished

and purple sashes around their waists to match the colours of

the Queen, wearing short coats that looked stylish and much

too attractive to every woman in their presence. And Beatriss

noticed. That’s how she knew that things had changed within

her. Because now she noticed every single woman who looked

at the Captain of the Guard. But that night, he seemed to have

eyes for no one but her and the days of denial were long gone,

for she met his stare with her own. When he offered to escort her

and Vestie to Sennington, it was there in the hallway of Beatriss’s

home as she took her daughter out of his arms that he bent down

and kissed her for the first time in thirteen years, and if it wasn’t

for the child that was pressed between them, she could imagine

where that kiss would have gone.

Since then, he had found any opportunity to stop by for

supper or a ride around the village. They spoke of fallow fields

and his son’s family in the palace and this brave new Lumatere,

and although she was desperate to speak of the past, Trevanion

refused.

‘The past is not important, Beatriss. We don’t look back.’

In the palace village she heard the whispers and suspected

that he would ask her to be his wife soon, and she had practised

her response. Yes. And then a Yes again.

But something had changed in the last few weeks.

21 Sepember, 2011: Sounds , Names and more stuff on Froi

There is a method to the madness of my world and language building in Finnikin and Froi. It’s mostly Italian inspired.  I’ve always been fascinated with the distinct differences between the language/dialects, customs, names and sensibility of the southern and northern Italians.  Sometimes, I imagine in the world of Skuldenore that most of the kingdoms are speaking a different dialect of the same language. There has never been any indication that the languages are completely different, only that Evanjalin and Finnikin were able to speak them all and that some are harsher sounding, more gutteral than others.  One has to only look at Italy to hear the difference a dialect makes.  If a Sicilian was to speak pure dialect to a Milanese, the Italian from Milan would have little idea what the Sicilian was saying.  When I was in primary school, my best friend’s family was from way up in Northern Italy, and I could never understand what her mother was saying because their dialect had a Slavic element to it. So in these novels, I tried to convey a sense that there are hybrids upon hybrids of language.

Here are some other sound and language choices I made and sometimes why.

Most characters from the Lumateran river have names such as Finnikin, Trevananion, Abian, Cibrian, Emmian, Aldron.

Those from the forest and the rock have Italian sounding names (Tesadora, Seranonna,  Celestina, Bartolina (my full name is Carmelina – it’s a very southern Italian thing to add –“ina”  to girls’ names)

Those from the flatlands have traditional English sounding names: Beatriss, August, Celie, Kristopher

The title Yata came from growing up in an Italian, Greek and Lebanese neighbourhood of Sydney.  The greek word for grandmother is yaya and the Lebanese word for grandmother is Tata. So I combined it to pen Yata, the  matriarch/grandmother of the Monts.

For Seranonna, the matriarch of the forest dwellers, I combined sera (night) with nonna (grandmother)

Lagrami comes from the Italian (which comes from Latin of course) lacrime.  I pronounce it Lar-gra-mee.  Sagrami comes from the Italian word sangue for blood. Lagrami/Sagrami is the Goddess of blood and tears in the novel.

The town of  Speranza in Finnikin comes from the Italian word for hope which is ironic because the town is anything but hopeful for anyone except those wanting to disappear.

Blessed Barakah , the term for the Priestking, comes from the Arabic to do with the beneficent force from God (it’s a lot more complicated than that but you can imagine it has to do with light and gifts and spirituality).

And to take the mystique away from it all, Evanjalin comes from watching 5 seasons of Lost and liking the name Evanjaline Lily. I also  have a character named Tippideaux in Froi of the Exiles which was inspired when I signed a novel in the US from someone who hailed from Thibodaux (  /ˈ TIB-ə-doh) Louisiana.

For me, it all comes down to liking the sound of words. Some may notice that I’m a bit obsessed with the “J” sound (Josie, John, Jacob, Jimmy, Jonah, Jude, Evanjalin, Georgie, Arjuro).  I blame it on the Italians for taking the letter “J” out of their alphabet. Perhaps I grew up yearning for it.

Another important aspect of writing for me is not just what I’m saying in a sentence, but what it sounds like.  If I want to write a scene with force and power and I need it to bounce off the walls of the reader’s ears, I make sure I use a repetition of hard consonant sounds (f, d,  p, st, d,  b, t,  c, g etc).  This is from Froi of the Exiles:

And in that confined space where Priestlings once prayed and studied and died, he used fists and palms, smashed heads against stone walls, broke bones, bit flesh and spat it out. ‘You’re a weapon, Froi. The best we’ve ever created,’ Trevanion had told him once. And when De Lancey’s men were writhing in pain at his feet, Froi’s blood cried for more, his breath ragged, his feet dancing around them, wanting them back on their feet. He wanted to do it again. But Arjuro was there blocking his path. ‘Leash it,’ Arjuro hissed. ‘Leash it.’

16 September 2011:

Penguin’s Between the Lines is having a week of me talking about all of the novels.  Here is the first link that was posted on 13 September.

http://penguinbtl.blogspot.com/2011/09/marchetta-madness-week.html

1 September 2011: Prologues and angst

I received my first copy of Froi today. It’s big and it’s beautiful and any pdf I saw of the cover didn’t do it justice. It comes out on the 1st of October and I can honestly say I feel the same excitement and fear that I felt when my first novel was being released back in 1992.

Below I’ve included the prologue and first page of Chapter 1.

I’ve been angsting about prologues a lot lately probably because last week on a regional tour of Victoria with Elizabeth Honey and Adele Walsh I read the first few pages of Finnikin out loud . Or perhaps because I’m writing one at the moment for the last novel in the triology.

Out of seven novels, I’ve used a prologue four times, all for different reasons. In Finnikin it was to provide back-story. In Jellicoe I wanted to introduce a parallel story line. In the Piper’s Son I wanted to convey Tom’s drug and alcohol stupored state of mind. In Froi, the prologue is used to introduce Quintana because she won’t come back into the story for another seven chapters.  It was like a message to the reader: remember this character. She’s going to turn Froi’s life upside down.

Prologues are sometimes the trickiest part of the novel to write because the tone can be different to the rest of the novel and you have to get it right. The prologues in Froi, Piper’s Son and Jellicoe were written once with a few tweaks.  Finnikin’s prologue was re-written so many times that I was beginning to despair.  But reading it aloud last week felt liberating because I loved the way the words felt on my tongue and I especially loved

21 September 2011: Sounds, Names and more Stuff on Froi.

There is a method to the madness of my world and language building in Finnikin and Froi. It’s mostly Italian inspired.  I’ve always been fascinated with the distinct differences between the language/dialects, customs, names and sensibility of the southern and northern Italians.  Sometimes, I imagine in the world of Skuldenore that most of the kingdoms are speaking a different dialect of the same language. There has never been any indication that the languages are completely different, only that Evanjalin and Finnikin were able to speak them all and that some are harsher sounding than others.  One has to only look at Italy to hear the difference a dialect makes.  If someone was to speak pure Sicilian to a Milanese, the Italian from Milan would have little idea what the Sicilian was saying.  When I was in primary school, my best friend’s family was from way up in Northern Italy, and I could never understand what her mother was saying because their dialect had a Slavic element to it. So in these novels, I tried to convey a sense that there are hybrids upon hybrids of langauge.

Here are some other sound and language choices I made and sometimes an explanation why.

Most people from the Lumateran flatlands have similar sounding names: Finnikin, Trevananion, Abian, Cibrian.

Those from the forest and the rock have Italian sounding names (Tesadora, Seranonna,  Celestina, Bartolina (my full name is Carmelina – it’s a very southern Italian thing to add –“ina”  to girls’ names)

Those from the flatlands have traditional English sounding names: Beatriss, August, Celie, Kristopher

The title Yata came from growing up in an Italian, Greek and Lebanese neighbourhood of Sydney.  The greek word for grandmother is yaya and the Lebanese word for grandmother is tata. So I combined it to pen Yata, the  matriarch/grandmother of the Monts.

For Seranonna, the matriarch of the forest dwellers, I combined sera (night) with nonna (grandmother)

Lagrami comes from the Italian (which comes from Latin of course) lacrime.  I pronounce it Lar-gra-mee.  Sagrami comes from the Italian word sangue ( blood). Lagrami/Sagrami is the Goddess of blood and tears in the novel.

The town of Speranza in Finnikin comes from the Italian word for hope which is ironic because the town is anything but hopeful for anyone except those wanting to disappear.

Blessed Barakah , the term for the Priestking, comes from the Arabic to do with the beneficent force from God (it’s a lot more complicated than that but you can imagine it has to do with light and gifts and spirituality).

And to take the mystique away from it all, Evanjalin comes from watching 5 seasons of Lost and liking the name Evanjaline Lily. I also  have a character named Tippideaux in Froi of the Exiles which was inspired when I signed a novel in the US from someone who hailed from Thibodaux (  /ˈ TIB-ə-doh) Louisiana.

For me, it all comes down to liking the sound of words. Some may notice that I’m a bit obsessed with the “J” sound (Josie,

how engrossed the kids were.

Prologue

They call her Quintana the cursemaker. The last female born to Charyn,

eighteen years past.

Reginita, she claims to be. The little Queen. Recipient of the words

writ on her chamber wall, whispered by the gods themselves. That

those born last will make the first, and blessed be the newborn king, for

Charyn will be barren no more.

And so it comes to be that each autumn since the fifteenth day of

weeping, a lastborn son of Charyn visits the palace in a bid to fulfil the

prophecy. But fails each time.

They weep for fear of hurting her. But she has no tears for herself.

‘Come along,’ she says briskly. ‘Be quick. I’ll try to think of other

things, but if your mouth touches mine, I will cut it out.’

Most nights she concentrates on the contours of the ceiling, where

light from the Oracle’s godshouse across the gravina shines into her

chamber. She holds up a hand and makes shapes in the shadows. And

inside of her, in the only place she can hide, Quintana sings her song.

And somewhere beyond the stone that is Charyn, the blood of a

lastborn sings back to her.

Chapter 1

Froi’s head was ringing.

A fist against his jaw, an elbow to his nose, a knee to

his face and they kept on coming and coming, these old

men, he had called them. They came for him one after the other,

and there was no mercy to be had this day. But Froi of the Exiles

wasn’t born for mercy. Not to receive, nor deliver it.

Behind his attackers was a sycamore tree waiting to die,

its limbs half-dragging on the dry ground beneath it, and Froi

took his chance, diving high between two of the men, his hands

reaching for one of the branches, his body swinging, legs jutting

out. Aboot to a face, one man down, then he pounded into

another before the branch collapsed under his weight. He pulled

it free from the tree, swinging the limb high over his head. A

third man down and then the fourth. He heard a curse and a

muttered threat before the flat of his palm smashed the next man

who came forward. Smashed him on the bridge of the nose, and

Froi danced with glee.

Until he was left facing Finnikin of Lumatere and Froi felt the

feralness of his nature rise to the surface. ‘No rules,’ they had

declared, and the dark Goddess knew that Froi loved to play

games with no rules. And so with eyes locked, they circled each

other, hands out, waiting to pounce in the way the wolves in the

Forest of Lumatere fought for their prey. Froi saw a bead of sweat

appear on the brow of the man they called the Queen’s Consort,

saw the quick fist come his way, and so he ducked, his own fist

connecting with precision. But all it took was the thought of the

Queen, her head shaking with bemusement and a smile entering

her eyes, to make Froi think again about where to land his second

blow. In that moment’s hesitation, his legs were kicked out

from under him and he felt his face pressed into the earth.

‘You let me win,’ Finnikin growled, and Froi heard anger in

his voice.

‘Only because she’ll kill me if I bruise that lily-white skin,’

Froi mocked through gasps.

Finnikin pressed harder, but after a moment Froi could feel

that he was shaking from laughter.

20 August 2011 – The Froi fact file

It has a prologue which is only half a page, (but could still upset prologue haters)

It has two maps (which could upset map haters)

It’s has more than one point of view  (which could upset multiple-point-of-view haters)

It’s seen mostly through Froi’s p.o.v (as well as that of Lucian, Finnikin, Beatriss and Phaedra – Lucian’s estranged wife)

The main female character is named Quintana.

It’s mostly set in Charyn, but Lumatere still plays an important part in the story.

It was inspired by the landscape of Matera Italy and Cappadocia Turkey

It has some pretty intense relationships

It’s written in third person, past tense

It has three parts

It has a cliff hanger ending

It’s 590 pages long

It has a family relationship that makes the Finch-Mackees look like the Brady Bunch

10 August 2011

Froi of the Exiles is about to go to print and I’m not really allowed to touch it anymore (Thank you Amy my editor, for being so patient).  I was relieved to still have a bit of a tear in my eye when reading the last couple of chapters and although I have to jump back into the re-write of the Jellicoe script, I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the land of Froi for the final novel.

As part of my one day break from writing I thought I’d make a list of 15 things a reader may not have known about my novels (and stuff that I’ve almost forgotten).

1.Will’s tattoo in The Piper’s Son is a hawk inspired by the feature film Lady Hawke (hawks and wolves mate for life according to Rutger Hauer)

2.Isaboe’s name in Finnikin of the Rock is inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Lady Hawke. (I originally spelt it Ysaboe)

3.When Taylor Markham (Jellicoe) first came to me in 1993 her love interest was Jasper and there were no cadets and no townies and the war was between the Houses of her school. Years later when I picked it up again, I had a dog named Jasper and it killed the romance for me. So Jonah was born (and I still have the dog)

4.The original On the Jellicoe Road title back in 1993 was Taylor and the Jazzman (it would never have won the Printz with this title).

5.The original title of Looking For Alibrandi was The Emancipation of Alibrandi and it was changed just before we went to print.

6.Although I don’t give much of a physical description to my characters, the most traditionally beautiful is Francesca Spinelli.

7.The physical look of Evanjalin from Finnikin was inspired by the French British actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

8.Finnikin and Evanjalin are the medieval fantasy versions of Francesca and Will (the pragmatist versus the dreamer) and Froi and Quintana are the medieval fantasy versions of Jonah and Taylor (broken people who find each other despite the distrust and heartbreak between them). Lucian of the Monts is the medieval fantasy version of Tom Mackee and Chaz Santangelo (strong relationships with their fathers and constantly saying and doing the wrong thing, but their hearts are in the right places).

9.My mum’s favourite novel of mine is Looking For Alibrandi and she was disappointed about the swearing in The Piper’s Son.

10.Danny Griggs from The Gorgon in the Gully is Jonah’s Griggs’ younger brother and his story takes place while Jonah is on some camp out bush.

11.Danny Griggs is named after one of my nephews and Luca Spinelli is named after another.

12.When Tom Mackee’s father, Dominic goes jogging he’s listening to David Gray’s This Year’s Love and thinking of his wife.

13.In The Piper’s Son Ben the violinist is Ben Cassidy from Jellicoe and his band is made up of the Mullet Brothers and Anson Choi.

14.Francesca’s name was originally Anna Carina but I changed it after three chapters because it didn’t ring true.

15.I cry every time in the Fitz-in-the-tree chapter of Jellicoe and will probably have to leave the movie theatre during that scene if it ever makes it to the big screen.

29 July 2011

In a week’s time Froi of the Exiles goes to print which means I can’t touch it anymore.  It clocks in at 585 pages . I’ve seen the US cover (which I can’t show off until the end of the year) and it’s as stunning as the Australian one. I think they’re two of my favourites.

5 June 2011

First up is  German Finnikin.  They decided to focus on Evanjalin and it’s called Winter light (my translation anyway)

The second image is of US paperback Finnikin of the Rock which is coming out in August.  I love it because it’s .a combination of the Australian and the US cover.

Rumour has it that Froi is coming out in the US around March 2012.

30 May 2011 – Email problems

Due to a computer malfunction I managed to lose most emails sent to me this past year up until two weeks ago.  I’ve changed the email address to a gmail one so I’ll be able to retrieve them on any computer, but if I promised anything to you or if you would like to re-send an email, please do.

30 May 2011- Froi of the Exiles first peep coming out October 2010

(I promise there’s a reason why he’s not wearing a shirt)

21 April 2011 – The Jellicoe script.  Where it’s at

Adaptations are strange animals.  I’ve spoken about this before at festivals. It’s like smashing your novel on the ground and sorting through the pieces needed to tell the same story but in a different way.

One of the big issues with a screenplay is length.  Australian films (for funding reasons) can’t really be more than 110 minutes long – most are about 90 minutes.  At this stage the script is still at around 115 pages, which is about a minute a page

The first thing that gets removed in a filmscript is the narrative voice of the novel.  That means that Taylor Markham’s internal voice is gone.  I chose not to replace it with voice over because it’s  a tricky thing.  Some of my favourite films have voice over, but I wanted to find a way of telling this story without it.

Another aspect of writing a screenplay is that most times (but not all) the story follows a 3 act structure which means that in the first act something big has to happen to change the character’s path. It’s called the inciting incident. What I’ve been asked the most from script editors and advisers is the question of what makes Taylor go on this journey at this time in her life? In the novel, Taylor being chosen as leader and Hannah disappearing could be seen as an inciting incident, but in the filmscript it has to be stronger.

Another issue for anyone reading the script who hasn’t read the novel is the many timelines set up in the first 20 minutes.  There’s the present day, there are the kids from eighteen years ago and there’s Taylor’s past. Taylor’s past includes the incident with her mother dumping her in Jellicoe, the Hermit whispering in her ear and Jonah betraying her on the train. If you thought the novel was confusing, the first 20 pages of the script could be a nightmare to read if you’re not familiar with the story.

So at the Aurora workshop last month (amazing experience) one of the advisers suggested something quite audacious.  What if I moved an incident from the past to the present? That way  it would remove a pesky timeline and provide an inciting incident. So I started asking myself the question, what happens if Taylor is drawn to a Hermit who has just set up camp in the bush around the school? What happens if one of the only things he says to her is “Forgive me Taylor Markham”? What if she has no one to ask how he can possibly know her name, especially when Hannah her guardian has mysteriously left town? What happens if two days later, she finds out he’s taken his life? What if she finds pages in his hovel that tell a story of five teens who lived in Jellicoe 18 years ago? What if she discovers those pages have been torn out of her Book of War.

Structurally, this film script is different from the novel.  What stays, however, is Taylor’s need to find answers about why her mother left her in Jellicoe; her intense relationship with Jonah Griggs; their colloboration with Chaz and Raffaela; the territory wars; and the story of five kids in the past who decide to start a war. So it’s kind of all there, but the way I tell the story is different.

That’s where I am at the moment. It’s all pretty exciting and I’m hoping I’ll get it right in the next couple of months. We never think any further ahead than that. There are too many set backs in the film industry so the goal has always been to get the script perfectly right so we can attract the best people to the project.

With regards to the novels, On the Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock have been picked up by a Spanish publisher and the Finnikin Trilogy, known as the Chronicles of Lumatere series  has been picked up by a Turkish publisher.

24 March 2011 – Froi of the Exiles

Here is my first attempt of a synopsis for Froi.  It’s coming out in Australia this October.

Three years after Lumatere is united, Froi has adopted the ways of his new homeland, dividing his days between rebuilding the kingdom and training with the Queen’s Guard. Until a mysterious man arrives with a promise that he can grant a young assassin access into the palace of Lumatere’s enemy: to kill the King of Charyn.

But once inside the secretive kingdom of stone, Froi is forced to protect the half mad Princess Quintana and her unborn child who will be the first babe born to Charyn in eighteen years.  And in breaking his bond to his beloved Queen Isaboe and Finnikin, Froi may just be the one to bring peace between two kingdoms and find out the truth to his past.

22nd February 2011 – Aurora Workshop for Jellicoe and New York

The link below is great news about the Jellicoe fimscript. It’s at least a year or so away from being anything other than a filmscript, but it was the break we were looking for. Take note that they spelt my name wrong!

http://if.com.au/2011/02/22/article/Screen-NSW-selects-five-film-projects-for-Aurora-script-workshop/KIPQCVWTUI.html

 

22nd January 2011 Writers on Rafts

In January 2009 I travelled up and down the Brisbane river all day, hopping on and off and jotting down the different stops in preparation for a scene I was writing forThe Piper’s Son.  The characters of Tom and his beloved little sister Anabel are reuinited on that river after a year of living apart and it’s become one of my favourite scenes in the novel.

During the floods these last few weeks I recognised so many of those river stops and the Queensland towns I’ve visited or driven through over the years. When you’re watching it on television from afar, there is always a sense  of helplessness.

Supporting Writers on Rafts is a simple way you can help raise money and perhaps win something in return for your school, your kids’ school, your bookclub or yourself. Some of the prizes include a writer’s workshop or book packs or a writer using your name in their next novel (Bec Sparrow and Nick Earls once used Emma Marchetta in their book, Joel and Cat and I was giddy for days) If you are a budding writer yourself you can win a manuscript assessment all for a $5.00 ticket.

Below is information sent to me by the QWC.

Writers on Rafts is an initiative of Queensland Writers Centre and author Rebecca Sparrow to raise money for the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal. More than 150 Australian have pledged prizes.

·         To enter Writers on Rafts go to http://www.writersonrafts.com

·         Purchase as many tickets as you like in as many categories as you want!

·         Every ticket is one chance to win for a lucky person in every state and           territory.

·         Every dollar goes directly to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal to           help victims of the Queensland floods.

·         QWC’s goal is to raise $10,000 through Writers On Rafts.

·         We will be conducting the draw on Friday, 25 February.

28th December, 2010

I have a feeling I’m not going to be good at “news and stuff” but I shall try to update at least once a month. Sometimes I may get carried away or be avoiding work and will update more than that.

My major focus for the last four months has been working on Froi of the Exiles which is the sequel to Finnikin. I handed in first draft just before Christmas. Unavoidably, it has one of those cliff hanger endings that people either love or hate, but it will be followed soon after by Quintana of Charyn.   Inspired by those lads in Lumatere,  I’ve pledged in blood that there will be no more than a year between the release of both novels. For those who have read Finnikin,  Froi’s story picks up three years later. There’s a batch of new characters but the world of Lumatere is still important to the story, especially Lucian of the Monts.

Meanwhile, The Piper’s Son will be released on the 8th of March in the US.  I’ll be in New York from the 10th and may be speaking somewhere around town during that time but won’t know details until February. I’ll answer two FAQ about the novel here.  Yes, it is that Ben and No, there isn’t a Jimmy Hailler story in the planning.

Below are photographs of Cappadocia in Turkey.  I was there in September doing research because it’s what I wanted the kingdom of Charyn to look like in the Froi books. It’s a truly amazing place.