hardcastle-breathing under water coverSophie is interviewed by Belinda Hamilton

You’ve been writing Breathing Under Water since you were in high school, bouncing ideas off friends for ages. Was there a moment when they told you to shut up and write the story already?

I wrote a version of Breathing Under Water in high school; it was called, Horizons. I started writing it and would write before and after school, and even during class! Once I had a few chapters, I started showing it to a three friends and they’d take turns reading the latest instalments. Sometimes, I’d bounce ideas off them but they never told me to shut up and write because I was writing everyday. Horizons was sidelined when I got sick and no one really questioned that. The focus was on me getting better.

When I suspended uni to start writing Running Like China, a few friends asked, ‘what about that book with the twins?’ I told them I would go back to it but that my memoir was something I needed to write now.

I had a break for about a month between finishing the structural edit for Running Like China and starting Breathing Under Water. Once I started, I was quite proactive and wrote the first quarter in two months. I had a depressive episode and took three months off. When I came back to it, I wrote the rest of the novel in just over three months. When I’m in the flow of writing, there isn’t much talk. In fact, I tend to talk more to my characters than I do to real people, ha!


What’s the difference between writing non-fiction, (Running Like China) and Fiction, (Breathing Under Water)?

 The difference was that Breathing Under Water wrote itself. Even though they were my fingers punching away on the keyboard, the plot twists were just as new and exciting for me as they were for anyone else reading it. My characters came to life in the second or third chapter and I had the privilege of watching them grow and breathe. I cried for Grace when her heart broke and I ached inside when Mia couldn’t sleep.

Writing non-fiction, I was able to make sense of pain felt in the real world. I was able to tell a story in my own voice. Writing fiction, I could step into someone else’s shoes, into someone else’s world and be surprised by what I found.

hardcastle_running like china picYou travel quite a bit; are we going to see future stories set in other parts of the world?

I love university and I love writing essays, but I know there are things I will never fully understand or appreciate in a classroom. Knowledge is learnt, but experience is felt in the body. I believe travel changes you at the core. You embody memories. I have been very fortunate in the last few years to travel to some incredible places where I drank tea in houses built differently to mine and walked on earth beneath different constellations. These places, languages, customs and FOODS will no doubt make it into future books.

I’ve just started writing my second YA novel and am going to embark on a few research trips. I can’t say much, but I will say this…

Grace learns to read the swells on the sea.

My new character will learn to read the wind on Open Ocean.

I’m so excited because research is going to take me to Far North Queensland and Antarctica!


Which of your fictional characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why?

It would have to be Jake. I love him because he makes out as if he doesn’t have a care in the world, but we all know cares an awful lot about his friends. He’ll never admit it, but he wears his heart on his sleeve.


Maria RamosMaria Violet anticipates the final episode of the Divergent series.


For months now, fans of the Divergent YA novel series have been anxiously lying in wait for the release of the first of two final instalments of the blockbuster films, Allegiant. While we’re sure to witness plenty of explosive action scenes and other elements of dystopian suspense, it remains to be seen whether or not film-makers will stay true to Veronica Roth’s fictional narrative or stray into unknown territory a la the previous trilogy release, Insurgent. Let’s take a closer look at what audiences might be in for, but be warned: spoilers ahead.

AllegiantParts12Maintaining the precedent set by other popular literature-based motion picture franchises (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games) the Divergent finale is split into two films. In Allegiant: Part 1 we pick up right in the midst of Insurgent’s inferno. Tris, and all the other residents of Chicago have been part of a social experiment conducted by the government, which is trying to produce more “Divergents.” Tris and Four, played by series stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, decide that in order to bring peace to their city they must travel outside its walls. Out beyond ‘safety’, they’re forced to confront the stark reality of their situation and test both their mental and physical strength in battle.

Entering here, we can assume that, at least to begin, the first Allegiant movie will stay true to Roth’s 2013 Allegiant novel. It’s also been made clear by director Robert Schwentke, who directed Insurgent, that Allegiant will be clearly based on the first half of the novel of the same name.

Knowing this, there’s still one key detail from the end of that book that probably won’t make it into the first Allegiant movie: the death of Tris. The final part of the film series, Ascendant, is set to premiere on June 9, 2017. If the franchise’s main protagonist is killed off before the (final) finale hits theatres, fans will be horrified and confused — how can the next movie work without Tris in the picture? If she does meet her end in Allegiant, then the character of Tris will certainly be incorporated into the plot line of Ascendant via dream sequences, flashbacks or another form of cinematic trickery.

Allegiant-Movie-PostersIt’s more likely that Tris will live to see the end of the first finale instalment. There’s already some proof of this in other details that have been leaked about the film – for example, there is said to be a heavy focus on the leaders behind the Bureau of Genetic Testing. It seems that David and Matthew will be significant characters in this movie and will take up quite a bit of screen time, leaving less room for a build up to Tris making the ultimate sacrifice. Also, if the part of the Allegiant story where Tris and Four temporarily split makes it into the movie, this romantic hiccough will probably be dramatized more than it was in the novel. This would also take up too much time to allow for such a devastating event as the death of Tris.

Aside from this, the clips of Allegiant that have been released so far, show that many elements of the book don’t appear to be in the movie. For instance, there’s no sight of Four’s parents, which is a major oversight as they play a major part in the narrative of the literary series. It’s hard to believe that they won’t appear at all in Allegiant, but it would make sense for them to have a diminished role in the first finale instalment and then become more prominent in Ascendant. After all, there’s only so much drama and action that can be packed into a 121 minute film.

Carrying the weight of a collapsing world on their shoulders, the teens in this series share many of the hopes and dreams with today’s young people. The first Divergent series films (check here for local listings) are worth a revisit before heading to theatres to check out Allegiant Part 1. From everything that’s been revealed about the newest instalment in the franchise, it’s clear that Allegiant will be every bit as entertaining as its predecessors and set the stage perfectly for next year’s dramatic conclusion.

Maria RamosMaria Violet ponders the possibilities of the four waves.

yancey_the-5th-waveIn a sea of YA dystopian novels, it’s difficult to stand out. So many of the stories that gained popularity around the same time as The Hunger Games have followed the basic formula of taking a teen who has grown up in this post-apocalyptic world and pitting them against the authority. The 5th Wave sets itself apart in a number of ways, most notably by having the main character witness the event that drives the Earth into chaos, and showing her having to adapt to a world that has changed overnight but is still recognisably sexist and racist.

The story follows Cassie, a fairly regular girl who witnesses the beginning of an alien attack that leads to invasion. During the upheaval, perpetuated in five “waves,” Cassie loses track of her brother and is determined to find him and save him from the aliens. She meets and befriends Evan who trains her to fight and the two must work together to try and survive.

This all raises the question, though: Could this really happen? Is it possible that the various “waves” might actually be problems we could face, either from aliens or just natural causes? While we are not made aware at the beginning of the film what the titular “5th Wave” is, we can look at the other four.

1st Wave – The first of the alien attacks is an electromagnetic surge that knocks out all power on the planet. This is probably the most logical first step to an invasion. In fact, the first plans the US drew up for aerial attacks back in 1941 involved trying to knock out German power plants. Without power, nothing else works in the modern world. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the US power grid ranks a D+ and is susceptible to weather, physical attack, and even animals. There is very little financial incentive for companies to upgrade, so the whole system continues to deteriorate. While a global attack is unlikely, cascading regional attacks could be accomplished here on Earth with enough planning.

2nd Wave – The aliens use steel beams launched from space into Earth’s fault lines, creating massive tsunamis and earthquakes. This is somewhat fanciful, both in terms of steel not being able to handle reentry at that speed and the sheer scale of the devastation. That being said, extreme weather conditions are not only a possibility – they are a reality. From more severe hot and cold temperatures to enormous events like Superstorm Sandy, global climate change and overpopulation has increased the intensity of many of our weather patterns, making them capable of untold destruction.

3rd Wave – A deadly flu is unleashed on humanity, spreading quickly among the population and severely whittling down the number of living people. Disease is no joke, and health organizations around the world are constantly scrambling to try to keep it under control. This is especially true with the rise of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, eliminating the primary way that we combat those types of diseases. Viruses like the flu are already very difficult to keep under control, so while it would take some time to decimate the population, it would be nearly impossible to keep from eventually doing just that eventually.

4th Wave – At this point, the aliens are taking over the bodies of human beings, subsuming their personalities and walking among us in secret. While there is no credible basis for this sort of physical thing actually happening, the idea has been explored in science fiction as metaphor for quite some time, most notably in Invasion of the Body Snatchers which used the alien replacements to represent Communists hiding among us.

While unlikely to happen exactly as it does in the film, the various attacks in The 5th Wave are not only plausible in certain instances, they are already happening around us and many don’t even realize it. It seems many places in the world are likely susceptible to energy failure in addition to the dwindling natural resources we already have. Environmental disasters happen all the time and in most instances, unpredictably. Just a few months ago, Japan was struck with tsunami waves caused by an earthquake in Chile. Disease and epidemics are also in full throttle with the zika virus, causing flu symptoms and birth defects. And while aliens seem farfetched, there’s no telling who is out to get you.


aguirre-queenBelinda’s Top 5 reads of 2015

~ Angel of Storms by Trudi Canavan. (Millennium’s Rule book 2)

~ Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Anne Aguirre

~ Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

~ Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

~ Running Like China by Sophie Hardcastle

Jamieson_Day Boy CoverBelinda’s Most Anticipated Reads of 2016 (no particular order)

~ Glass Sword (Red Queen Book 2) by Victoria Aveyard  – February

~ Stars Above (the inbetween books of the Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer – February

~ Marked in Flesh (Book 4 in The Others Series) by Anne Bishop – March

~ Firstlife (Everlife book 1) by Gena Showalter – February

~ The Flame Never Dies (The Stars Never Rise Book 2) by Rachel Vincent – August


Top Reads

black -Darkest part of the forestDarkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

An isolated town, a boy asleep for centuries in a glass coffin, a monster that emerges at the reciting of a children’s rhyme. This is just perfection.

Icebreaker – Lian Tanner

I’ve loved every book I’ve read by Lian Tanner, and this was no exception. She takes the risks that other authors shy away from, and puts morals first in her writing without beating readers over the head with them.

Ash – Malinda Lo

One I’ve been meaning to read for far too long. Ash is sweet and enchanting. A much more innocent novel than I had expected.

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

This one was a bit of a surprise. A wonderful rep from Pan Macmillan gave me a copy, and I’m delighted she did. It’s a wonderful, lyrical recounting of an old tale, and I would never have picked it up myself.

Girl of Nightmares – Kendare Blake

It took a different turn to what I’d anticipated, but overall a wonderful conclusion to Anna Dressed in Blood.

tanner_Icebreaker_coverMost Anticipated

Trial by Fire – Josephine Angelini

Sounds like a crossed-worlds situation and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Tell the Wind and Fire – Sarah Rees Brennan

Something that looks a bit different to the other things Brennan has written. None-the-less intriguing.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This has been recommended to me so many times by people that I trust that I finally bought it. I haven’t even read the blurb. Am just going to throw myself in and hopefully be pleasantly surprised.

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

So behind on this one. Have seen the movie and still not read it. 2016 is the year!

Every Word – Ellie Marney

Again, so behind. I’ve read the first book in this series and enjoyed it. Am looking forward to the second and third.

Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Google+
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Tumblr
  • Follow on LinkedIn
  • Follow on Keek
  • Follow on YouTube
  • Subscribe