Q&A With Author Bram Connolly!

Today’s Q&A post features Bram Connolly, author of the newly released novel Off Reservation, published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

Firstly, congratulations on the release of Off Reservation. Is Matt Rix’s character going to be part of a continuing book series?

Yes, The Fighting Season was designed to introduce the character, his background and some of his back story. I wanted Off Reservation to show the reader that he could operate outside of the military context. My plan into the future is to slowly unravel his life and have him operating further outside of a legal framework. He might not always realise that he is breaking the law, as the premise is that he is fallible and therefore manipulated by different government agendas and people with money and power.

You mentioned previously that Steph’s character was a challenge when writing The Fighting Season. In your latest novel, Off Reservation, which character was the most challenging to write?

This time the hardest character to write was Glyn, the Welsh SBS Officer. The SBS have a different culture to that of Australian Special Forces, so the danger was that Glyn and Matt would seem like the same person to the reader if I didn’t capture and convey their culture correctly. I have worked with Royal Marines and the SBS before, and I wanted to make sure that they were still seen as the highly credible force that they are. Glyn’s personality is also a little foreign to me. My default is to be self effacing, where an Alpha male like Glyn is always on the attack, so that took a lot of observation of people like that.

How did you brainstorm for writing Off Reservation?

To start with, there were a few scenes I just wanted to write. The ship under way scene at the start, Matt being released from 2nd Commando Regiment and the fight scene in Istanbul. I already had an idea that I wanted to write these. However, I think what you are asking is how do I structure the plot? Well, I sit in a cafe and just start day dreaming about a movie I’d like to see. I come up with a plot, then some twists, a setting and then I write a start and finish point and then the chapter descriptions in between. In this way I can start to imagine different scenes and interactions. For Off Reservation I actually went and walked the ground too. London, Istanbul, Sydney – all the locations except Iran, where I had to rely on lonely planet – I’m not sure the Iranians would love to have me poking around there cities looking for inspiration. Not yet anyway.

What book has grabbed your attention lately and why?

I have just finished Tribes, by Seth Godin. I’m in the middle of designing an online mentor business for people looking to join the Australian Defence Force. It’s called WarriorU and I wanted to make sure that I understood the most contemporary way to reach the people that matter, my tribe, so to speak. I highly recommend it. I have also just finished Chris Allen’s Defender. I don’t read other authors fiction while I am writing, so that I can be sure there is no crossover of thought or ideas. I’ve been waiting to read this for so long and I wasn’t disappointed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Chris writes a James Bond in the future, he’s that good.

What can readers expect next in your writing endeavours?

I am currently writing a non-fiction book. We haven’t gone firm on a title yet; however, the premise of the book is a lifestyle engineering manual based on the principles of Special Forces. Each chapter starts with a military story from my career and is then broken down to its component parts, so that the reader can gain some insight and perhaps adopt the techniques, skills or attitudes that are conveyed. The chapters range from time management, mental resilience, nutrition, physical training and life planning. I’m writing the parenting chapter at the moment, and while I‘m not a parenting expert it has been interesting researching the principles behind what I do naturally, based on special forces training.

 

About Off Reservation by Bram Connolly

Australian Special Forces commander Matt Rix in another action packed adventure.

Ultra-tough and ultra-lethal, Australian Commando Captain Matt Rix is one of Special Forces’ most lethal operators. But when a training exercise goes horribly wrong, he is given an ultimatum that brings his world crashing down. There is only one choice left to him and that’s to go ‘off reservation’.

What follows is the frantic pursuit of escaped Taliban commander Faisal Khan. Chasing Khan across Turkey would be easy; stopping a nuclear weapon he has received from falling into the hands of the world’s most feared terrorist organisation, that’s going to be the hard part.

Rix might be disgraced and discarded, but he should never be underestimated. Nothing is ever as it seems…

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin  *  Google Play  *  Amazon Australia  *  Booktopia

 

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Q&A With Author Kerry McGinnis!

Today’s feature Q&A post is with author Kerry McGinnis! Secrets Of The Springs by Ms McGinnis releases in paperback format on July 17, and is also available on Ebook. Secrets Of The Springs is published by Penguin Random House, RRP $32.99.

What was the hardest scene to write?

I think the accident where Mark is trapped in the vehicle. I had trouble visualizing the inside of the cab and in the end got a box to represent the vehicle and tipped it on its side, then lay on the floor looking at it figuring out where everything was and what Orla would be able to see and reach. Sounds crazy but I’m not good with spatial stuff.

Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the finished story for Secrets Of The Springs?

I can’t think of a particular scene that was cut. There were lots of adjustments and rewrites and unnecessary bits deleted but they weren’t scenes. It is hard to remember after so many rereads and rewrites, but basically the story is pretty much as it came to me when I sat down to work it out.

What is the first book you read that made you cry?

A novel called There Is No Armour. Howard Springs wrote it, the title comes from a line of poetry: There is no armour against Fate. It’s about the futility and cost of war, not to nations or economies but to ordinary people, the ones who are never asked before their lives are given over to it. It was poignant and beautiful and unbearably sad (and I was about sixteen!) He wrote a lot of books, old Howard but that was the one I liked most and read least because of its powerful effect on me.

How many hours a day do you write?

It varies. I go by output rather than time. If the writing is difficult I stay at my desk until I’ve produced two pages. Otherwise I just write until the rest of life – household or garden matters, or social stuff, overtakes me. I greatly enjoy the creative process and feel no pressure to finish anything quickly. The enjoyment is in the creation of my fictional world, and I feel quite lost when I finish a work.

What can readers expect next from you writing?

My next book which, like Wildhorse Creek and Tracking North is set in the Gulf Country and revolves around the lives of the family that own the pub in a tiny railhead ghost town, where twenty odd years before the drovers brought their mobs to truck to the coastal meat-works. I have just finished it and am now casting around for another story to keep me writing.

About Secrets Of The Springs by Kerry McGinnis

When Orla Macrae receives a letter asking her to return to the family cattle property where she grew up, she does so grudgingly. Her estranged uncle Palmer may be dying, but he is the last person she wants to see, not when she’s made a new life far away from where she lost so much. But on his deathbed he utters a few enigmatic words about a secret locked away and a clue as to its whereabouts.

Intrigued, Orla decides to stay, reconnecting with old friends and taking a chance on a long-time dream of opening the homestead to tourists. Continuing the search for her uncle’s elusive secret, she discovers far more than she bargained for – a shocking truth about her parents’ marriage, and the confession of a chilling murder.

Set in the stunning countryside north of the Barrier Ranges near Broken Hill, this is an authentic tale of life on the land and a gripping mystery about old family secrets and finding love in the harsh Australian bush.

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House  *  Amazon Australia  *  iBooks Australia  *  Booktopia

 

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Q&A With Author Nicole Alexander!

Today’s feature Q&A post is with author Nicole Alexander. Ms Alexander’s newest novel An Uncommon Woman is available now and is published by Penguin Random House, RRP $32.99.

On average, how long does it take for you to write a novel?

For the last eight years I’ve been contracted to write a book a year. Fitting in my rural responsibilities  as well, means I actually only have about seven to eight months to write a book. I have weeks where I may only write for two days and others where I can do a lot more. A rule of thumb for me is to try and attempt at least 5,000 words a week. Some of that will undoubtedly be deleted, but consistency helps the narrative to flow.

Can you tell us a scene that did not make it into the final print for your latest novel An Uncommon Woman?

With An Uncommon Woman I actually added a chapter during the editing process to ensure clarity and to show a particular characters reaction to a major historical event. In the case of An Uncommon Woman, this was the October 1929 stock market crash in New York that impacted the western world at the time and eventually led to Australia’s Great Depression.

Have you read anything that has changed the way you view fiction novels?

D’Arcy Francis Niland was an Australian author who wrote prolifically during his lifetime. He is well-known for his classic novel The Shiralee, a best-selling book which has never been out of print since its first publication in 1955. The Shiralee captivates me. I’ve read it a number of times. A shiralee is a swag, a burden, and in D’Arcy Niland’s novel, the lead character, Macauley’s is Buster, his four year old daughter. The narrative illuminates the bush in all its beauty and roughness. The bush that I know through my own family’s tenure on the land. The simple arc of the narrative combines with a sense of time and place which you rarely see in works of rural literature today. The Shiralee is simply a wonderful bush yarn.

My second would be Gone With The Wind. This is a feisty woman, determined, opinionated and living life on her own terms. Her greatest love is the family plantation, Tara. History and strong female characters. What a combination. Unfortunately for Rhett, for most of the time Scarlett didn’t give a damn either.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To be patient. Writing is all about redrafting, redrafting, redrafting, ensuring the finished manuscript is the best it possibly can be.

What research do you do when you are brainstorming a story?

As all my works include Australia’s pastoral history, research is a major component of my work. Once I’ve decided on a time period and location I then read widely on the subject. Once I start writing I utilize archives from state libraries and where possible my own families records. It’s easy to become caught up in research so once I’ve begun the narrative I only look research particular things when the narrative calls for it.

What can readers expect next in your writing?

Something big and bold. Thank you for having me to visit. N x

 

About An Uncommon Woman by Nicole Alexander

A new world is waiting for her …

It’s 1929, and the world is changing. Cars are no longer the privilege of the rich. Hemlines are rising. Movies are talking. And more and more women are entering the workforce.

For Edwina Baker, however, life on her family’s farm in Western Queensland offers little opportunity to be anything other than daughter, sister and, perhaps soon, wife.

But Edwina wants more. She wants to see the world, meet new people, achieve things. For while she has more business sense than her younger brother, it will be Aiden who one day inherits the farm.

Then the circus comes to town. Banned from attending by her father, Hamilton, Edwina defiantly rides to the showground dressed as a boy. There she encounters two men who will both inadvertently alter the course of her life: pastoralist Mason with his modern city friends; and Will, a labourer who also dreams of escape.

And when the night ends in near-disaster, this one act of rebellion strikes at the heart of the Baker family. Yet it also offers Edwina the rare chance to prove herself in a man’s world. The question is, how far is she prepared to go, and how much is she prepared to risk?

 

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House  *  iBooks  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon Australia

 

 

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Q&A With Author Emily Brewin!

Today’s Q&A post features Emily Brewin, author of the newly released novel Hello, Goodbye, published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

In your words can you tell us a bit about your new book.

Hello, Goodbye is a coming-of-age novel set in 1968. Seventeen-year-old, May Callaghan, a country girl from a strict Catholic family follows her boyfriend, Sam, to Melbourne where she discovers a more liberal way of life.

In Carlton, she meets bohemian students, Clancy and Ruby, and finds herself swept up in the anti-Vietnam War movement. For a while she thinks she has shed her stifling past until something happens that drags her backwards, threatening the future she’s worked so hard for.

Hello, Goodbye explores the issues of forced adoption and the anti-Vietnam War movement in Melbourne. The 1960s were a time of incredible social change. The women’s liberation movement was building, the sexual revolution was in full swing and people were protesting in the streets. Yet, many young people still fell victim to archaic beliefs that saw unmarried mothers secreted away to homes and young men conscripted into war. Hello, Goodbye is based on their stories.

Which character was the most challenging to write about?

I found Sam, May’s boyfriend, quite difficult to write as he was so conflicted. He was hard to pin down, and for a while there was pretty one-dimensional. It took me a good few drafts to get to know and understand him.

In the end, I realised this internal conflict stems from the fact that he is very young and impressionable, and is struggling to make sense of the world and the expectations placed on him.

What are you favourite stand out reads and why?

There are so many! The books I’ve read recently that have stayed with me are Josephine Rowe’s A Loving, Faithful Animal, Zoe Morrison’s Music and Freedom and Anne Enright’s The Green Road. The characters in these books are incredibly vivid and alive, in all their strength and fragility.

Also, A Loving, Faithful Animal deals with the intergenerational impacts of the Vietnam War, which is a subject I am particularly interested in.

What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, and have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I studied journalism because I believe words have the power to change the world. I still believe this and tend to write around social issues.

I started writing fiction again while going through a particularly tough period in my life. A very wise woman asked me what made my heart sing. When I said writing, she told me to go ahead and do it then… I did, and I haven’t looked back since.

Doing what you love isn’t always easy. Spending hours alone at a computer often makes my head spin and pursuing writing, as a career, is such a gamble. But when it goes right it is immensely satisfying, and I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have a second novel coming out mid next year with Allen and Unwin. It is contemporary, but also set in Carlton (My subconscious seems to be particularly interested in this location. It must be the coffee!). It follows the lives of two very different women who find themselves bound together by a tragic incident.

Apart from this, I am working hard to finish the first draft of a third novel, which explores the links between homelessness and mental illness.

 

About Hello, Goodbye by Emily Brewin

It’s 1968 and free-thinking country girl May Callaghan’s world is turned upside down when she finds out she’s pregnant to her boyfriend Sam, who is awaiting draft orders. A profoundly moving story of love during a time of great social change, with an ending that will leave you cheering.

May Callaghan is seventeen years old and on her own. At least that’s how it feels.

Her devoutly religious mother and her gentle but damaged father are fighting, and May’s boyfriend, Sam, has left their rural hometown for Melbourne without so much as a backward glance.

When May lies to her parents and takes the train to visit Sam at his shared house in Carlton, her world opens wide in glorious complexity. She is introduced to his housemates, Clancy, an indigenous university student, and Ruby, a wild bohemian. With their liberal thinking and opposition to the war in Vietnam, they are everything that May’s strict Catholic upbringing should warn her against.

May knows too well the toll that war has taken on her father, and the peace movement in the city has a profound effect on her. For a while, May’s future burns bright. But then it begins to unravel, and something happens to her that will change her life forever.

Hello, Goodbye by Emily Brewin is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

Purchase Links

Allen & Unwin Australia * Booktopia * Amazon Australia * Google Play

 

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Q&A With Author Janette Paul!

Welcome today’s Q&A post featuring author Janette Paul. Ms Paul’s newest novel Amber And Alice is available now and is published by Penguin Random House, RRP $32.99.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just start writing. Don’t think about your stories, write them down. They’re not silly and getting published isn’t a pipedream. You can – and will – get there!

What research do you do when you are trying to brainstorm for writing a book?

The brainstorming part that comes before I start writing a new book is a kind of dreamy, kind of thought-filled process of moving ideas around in my head. I don’t do much focused research until I’ve worked out what I want to write about. Once I’m there, I start to collect ideas that I think will fit with each other. Sometimes I’ll jot down a thought or put aside an article I’ve read, but mostly it happens in my head. And yes, it gets a little crowded in there but it just doesn’t work for me on paper or a screen. The actual research – Googling, reading, asking and answering specific questions – doesn’t start until I’m ready to write. And most of that is done when I need to know something for the scene I’m writing. I’m a pantser, I don’t like to get ahead of myself or a story, and I find if I do a lot of research too early, my muse starts to panic about getting the facts right.

Can you tell us a scene that didn’t make the cut while writing Amber and Alice?

There was a lot that didn’t make it into the final version of Amber and Alice! I wrote the original version more than ten years ago. It was the first novel I finished and I thought it was great but it went nowhere so I tucked it away and wrote something else. Then a couple of years ago, with six novels under my belt (five thrillers writing as Jaye Ford and my first Janette Paul rom-com Just Breathe), I pulled the old manuscript out again, read the first couple of chapters and realised it was awful! But I remembered the trip I took into Central Australia that had inspired the story and I decided to rewrite it. What got chucked out? Terrible characters, themes that didn’t work, boring dialogue, bad jokes. Most of the scenes, in some way or another remained – worked over, reworded and injected with something fresh and funny. And the book on the shelves isn’t much different from the manuscript I handed over to my publisher.

What is the most difficult aspect of your artistic process?

The deadline. It tends to hold down my muse when it needs to be up and roaming around. I find writing is so often a balancing act between freeing up my creativity to find the joy in a story, and getting enough words down to hold off the panic that I won’t meet the deadline. I never know how many words it’s going to take to finish a story or how many months I’ll need to write it. Consequently, I’m always trying to stay ahead of my word count and telling myself not to panic through the weeks when the story isn’t playing well. Probably not surprising that I love editing.

How many hours a day do you write?

Writing is my job and I like to keep business hours. Usually, I start around 9am, work through the morning, take a lunch break, then work through the afternoon. It works out at somewhere between five to eight hours most days, five days a week. I’m my own boss, which is good and bad. I get time off to do other stuff but I’m also a bit of a slave driver (see answer above!) and have to remind myself to take a break.

What can readers expect next from your writing?

I’m working on another rom-com at the moment, a quirky story about a woman who loves rain, a town that believes she’s the reason for their claim to fame as the wettest place in Australia, and a man who gets stranded there and thinks they’re all nuts.

 

About Amber And Alice by Janette Paul

When Amber Jones wakes up in her sister Sage’s speeding car, with no idea how she got there (though the hangover is a clue), all she wants to do is go home. But Sage is convinced a road trip to Alice Springs will finally answer the burning question: who is Amber’s father? Because nine months before Amber’s birth, her late mother Goldie made the same trip . . .

Armed with just a name and Goldie’s diaries, Amber agrees to search for a man she’s never met in one of the world’s biggest deserts.

And that means spending two weeks in a convoy of four-wheel-driving tourists and camping in freezing desert nights. To make matters worse, her fellow travellers hate her and the handsome tour leader Tom thinks she’s an alcoholic.

But slowly the desert starts to reveal its secrets – and Amber must decide which horizon to follow . . .

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House Australia  *  Booktopia  *  Amazon Australia  *  Google Play

 

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