I am absolutely thrilled to announce that my first picture book is being released by UK-based publisher Books To Treasure this year.
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This middle grade trilogy is set in the early 1800's and is and is very much Jane Austen-esk with it's emphasis on etiquette, propriety and high society.
Book one Kat, Incorrigible, brings us in on a ...
“So wrong for each other ... AND YET SO RIGHT.
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even ...
Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally you can get the series in either paperback or e-book from Amazon.com
You can buy Burn Bright in paperback or ebook on Amazon right here.
You can buy Angel Arias in paperback or ebook ...
Author, speaker, consultant and media expert, Sarah’s expertise is working with gifted and talented young people who have the capacity to become high achievers. She has an ability to raise expectations and aspirations of all young ...
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed ...
I was given the opportunity to read a book last week that I wasn’t overly sure about. I am not usually one for reading books in e-book format as I like to have a physical product in my hand to make a proper judgment on. It was a pleasant surprise to be blown away by an incredible tale of survival and political intrigue. It impressed me so much that the format blended into the background and ended up not making one ounce of difference to my opinion of the story.
Moon thought he was the last of his kind. To avoid terminal loneliness he hides his second form and lives with groundlings in his own version of a groundling shape. He is constantly being found out and shunned by the tribes he adopts. It isn’t until he is discovered in his winged form once again, and is chained for the dreaded Fell to eat alive, that he is rescued by a stranger. Stone is his savior and offers him a place amongst his colony. Moon, being the suspicious creature he is, waits for the truth to come out and for this new community to continue the trend and shun him. The truth however, is not what Moon was expecting.
Martha Wells weaves this tale with threads of gold. The character dynamics are meaty and believable. I liked the natural humor that pops up in the most unsuspecting places. The political intrigue is not overdone or tasteless; an you can’t even really fault the ethical angle of the Fell. If I had to pick one fault with the story, I would have liked to feel more ingrained in some of the settings. Though most of the description was magnificent and rich, I still felt like one or two scenes needed a smidge more description to have me completely hooked.
This is one of the most entertaining explorations of Darwin’s theory I have read for a really long time. Thank you, Martha, for proving me wrong; books in electronic format can read just as well as a paperback.
From the towering floating metropolis of Arcadia to the lone backwater station of Reema’s End, Mole Hunt is going to keep you glued to your chair hungering for more with every turn of the page. This is Paul Collins’ latest book, the first part of a trilogy in the sci fi/speculative fiction genre.
Maximus Black is the story’s central figure, though he’s far from a hero. Though a genius, this eighteen year old RIM cadet is a ruthless, manipulative psycopath bent on total domination of the whole galaxy. And through his ingenuity and with the help of a mysterious alien creature known as the Envoy, he just might get what he wants.
However all is not lost. There is another star agent in RIM hot on his tail in the pursuit of revenge and justice. She is none other than Anneke Longshadow, Black’s moral opposite and equal genius. It’s not often that one encounters a female hero just as complex and driven as the antagonist. Once RIM (Regis Imperium Mentatis) detected a traitor in their midst, Anneke is dispatched to bring this enemy to justice.
The way Collins brings this story into focus with such creativity and imagination is breathtaking. The universe these characters live, breathe and fight in is so convincing that you see yourself in the middle of the action ready to jump into the battle. The most intriguing part of this story is the way it develops: the events unfold from one character’s point of view and then the other’s in the following chapter, giving the reader the full scope of what transpired and how.
What I like the most about this story is the author’s inventiveness. The imaginary technology is detailed and explained so clearly you forget it’s not real. And it saves the skin of these two a few times as well!
I had a lot of fun reading this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh approach to the sci fi genre. The trilogy is pitched to a 12+ male audience, though I’m sure the real readership of this story is much, much wider. Be sure to add this story and Book 2: Dyson’s Drop to your “to read” list! I guarantee you won’t put it down.
I originally picked this book up off the shelf simply because it has a cover quote from Cassandra Clare (author of The Mortal Instruments), but after a quick look at the blurb I knew I had to read it. The return of Jack the Ripper! What more could one crime loving girl want?
Rory Deveraux finds herself leaving her small, eccentric Louisiana town and heading off to London to finish High School. An adventure in itself- what with getting her head around all the English slang and trying to conquer hockey before it conquers her. The last thing Rory imagined was finding herself the only witness in the new Ripper case. Not that everyone believes her – not even CCTV has captured his image. It certainly seems the most feared and elusive serial killer in British history is prowling the streets of London again. And Rory is in his sights. So is it a copycat out for attention, or something far more sinister- or even a mix of both?
This novel is just pure gold. It is so enthralling you will fight with yourself over putting it down. The plot is fresh and fast, the scenes written so vividly you feel like you’re walking the streets of Whitechapel or freezing your butt off on the hockey field. The cast of leads are all realistic and even our heroes are brought down a peg or two with the spotlight shone on their flaws and secrets.
Even if you have never heard of Jack before, the history of the original murders is interwoven with our current storyline, so there is no chance of being lost. The scenes can become a little harrowing and disturbing at times, but considering the subject matter this is to be expected. It isn’t overly graphic, but it certainly falls within the more mature end of the YA bracket. The paranormal aspect does go some way to softening the blow and adds a few extra giggles along the way.
This is the first in a new series “Shades of London” and I am certainly eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Paul Collins is a prominent figure in the Australian speculative fiction community. Co-editor of the highly successful Quentaris Chronicles, Collins is also a multi-award winning author and publisher. Mole Hunt is his latest book, the first of a trilogy centring on compelling anti-hero, Maximus Black. Eighteen-year-old Maximus is a star cadet with RIM (Regis Imperium Mentatis)—a galactic law agency. Ruthless, manipulative, and conniving, he is the ‘perfect psychopath’, slipping undetected through the treacherous streets and alleyways of Zetalon 6, hell-bent on revenge and galactic control.
The dystopian universe that Maximus inhabits is totally convincing and so deftly constructed by Collins that the reader might feel that it’s somewhere they’ve actually been—albeit an often unsavoury somewhere. Zetalon 6 has ‘four seasons: murky and clearing, twice a year’. Opportunists trade information, vicious mercenaries lurk in dingy bars, alleyways are infested with shady figures, and high-tech law enforcement procedures are implemented in a sometimes futile attempt to maintain law and order.
Just when you think things can’t become any more complicated, enter Anneke Longshadow: a real match for Collins’s anti-hero. Fiercely intelligent; physically powerful; damaged, but morally upright, Anneke acts as Maximus’s binary opposite. How refreshing to encounter a central female character who’s every bit as complex and resourceful as her male counterpart. Word has spread among RIM operatives that a mole has infiltrated the agency and Anneke is determined to root out the traitor. Max, filled with secrets and motivations of his own, finds himself inextricably connected to Anneke in a page-turning, pulse-quickening battle of wits, physical dominance, and exhilarating daring.
I just love spending time with these characters—it’s a rush to be caught on the precipice of their perilous situations, only to be rescued at the last minute by their ingenuity and lightning-fast reflexes. Thrilling plot aside, what I love most about Mole Hunt is the sheer joy of Collins’s inventiveness; the imaginary technology is amazing. And not all authors can pull this off. I’ve read many a book that overdoes this sort of thing until it becomes a distraction. Some sci-fi writers sacrifice characterisation in favour of technology; it’s to Collins’s credit that Mole Hunt has both. In spades! Directional locator bands, attractor field generators, anti-static suits, astrogation charts, hover cars, e-paper—I couldn’t get enough of it.
It’s so much fun watching the tale unfold from the perspectives of these charismatic characters as they use every reserve of cunning and practicality to outmanoeuvre one another. Traps are set, tracks are traced, wits are sharpened, and bodies are pushed to the limit. And in this epic struggle, Collins asks us to consider questions of loyalty, morality, identity, and life choices.
There’s plenty to recommend about Mole Hunt. The trilogy is being pitched at a 12+ male audience, though I think its actual readership is far wider. Anyone who enjoys an action-packed sci-fi, with imaginative environments and gadgetry, an absorbing plot, and memorable characters will love this. Simply put, it’s enormously entertaining. Put Mole Hunt at the top of your reading list and be on the look out for book 2: Dyson’s Drop. I sure will be.
Paul Collins was born in England, raised in New Zealand and immigrated to Australia in 1972. He lives in a historic bluestone home built in 1851 with his partner, fellow author, Meredith Costain, and a menagerie of pets including a kelpie called Jack and Molly, a red heeler.His many books for young people include The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler and series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest book is Mole Hunt, book one in The Maximus Black Files. He is also the author of over 140 short stories. Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.
He is currently the publisher at Ford Street Publishing.
1. Paul, it’s fascinating that you didn’t read books as a kid. How do you think your early diet of comics and movies has shaped your writing career? For instance, do you think it contributes to your very visual writing style and what Buzz Words described as ‘pace (that) would give Matthew Reilly a nosebleed’?
Apart from the fast-paced action many reviewers allude to, many also refer to my fiction as being “filmic”. Both of these are attributes of comics. Mix all this with my owning bookshops for many years during which I did novels, and I suspect we have a good mix there. We all have our little niche and not everyone wants to read “literature”. Hopefully my fiction is above a “hack’s” work.
2. A number of more recent YA novels deal with dystopian societies, including your new release, Mole Hunt. To what do you attribute this appetite for dystopia? When you reflect on our global current state of affairs, do you personally feel optimistic or pessimistic?
I’ve written dystopian fiction in the past with The Earthborn Wars published by Tor in the US (The Earthborn, The Skyborn and The Hiveborn). Fifteen years before The Hunger Games, I also wrote a virtual reality dystopian novel with a remarkably similar plot called Cyberskin. Characters get killed live combatting others for the audience. So it’s a genre that I feel comfortable with. I think dystopian fiction also lends itself to my style of writing. Sometimes it’s best to stay with what we know and love. My own favourite authors are Ioin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) and Philip Reeves (Mortal Engines). I can just as easily see these books as films, as I can Mole Hunt. To be honest, I have a bleak view of the world up ahead. We haven’t got it right after all the years we’ve been here — why would 100 years or more be any different?
3. Paul, you’re a master world builder. With Mole Hunt, you’ve once again created a complex, credible universe. How do you go about designing these imaginary environments? Is it difficult to keep the geography of a fictitious place in your head? Do you draw up maps, or even base some of the terrain on real places? What are some of your favourite imaginary worlds from literature and film?
It’s reasonably easy creating a universe. Using jump-gates characters can travel anywhere in the blink of an eye. It’s much, much harder creating a fantasy world such as Quentaris, Grrym or Q’zar. These have landscapes, whereas a universe scenario doesn’t. Most, if not all, fantasy writers draw a map of their world first. It’s too difficult to draw one from a book because it’s easy to say characters took two days to reach here, and six days to get there, etc; then when you decide you need mountain ranges (at the very least to provide water for those lakes, etc), you come to realise your novel doesn’t make sense. It’s much easier to have your map in front of you and see how long it will take to get through the pre-existing mountain range.
As an aside, Isobelle Carmody sold her first Obernewtyn book when she was 21 or so. Penguin contracted it and then asked for the map. There wasn’t one. If ever you interview her, ask her how hard it was to draw a map from the book! lol
Re my own tastes, I liked the Lord of the Rings films. They’re simply epic. From literature I loved Philip Reeves’s Mortal Engines series. So very easy to see his world of cities trundling over the desolate countryside swallowing up smaller towns.
4. Before you entered the publishing world, you had a number of jobs dealing with the public: you were once a waiter at the Brekky Creek in Brisbane; you were a club bouncer; you ran a clothes store; you were even a commando for a time! Have these work experiences provided you with writing material?
Most of my more substantial novels have action, and this comes from my martial arts experience. If I were writing contemporary fiction, such as Raymond Carver or Charles Bukowski-style, then of course my experiences in shops, being a waiter, etc, would help create characters and situations. However, my writing style isn’t character-based, it’s more plot- and action-based; filmic, some say.
5. Mole Hunt’s main character, Maximus Black, has been described as Artemis Fowl’s evil twin. Can you tell us a bit about the way you developed Maximus and how he evolved over time? When did he first creep into your consciousness?
I thought the time was nigh for an anti-hero. I’ve been asked if I wrote a dystopian novel because of this genre’s popularity, but truth be known, The Maximus Black Files have been around for over four years. It just so happens that at last I had something on hand when a particular genre became popular. Writing something after a genre’s popular can often be too late. Most books take at least a year to appear once they’ve been contracted.
6. You’ve been in the publishing business for many years now and have therefore witnessed some major shifts in the industry. How do you feel about modern publication models and what are your predictions for the future of the industry?
There are some fundamental problems with the publishing industry, which, if addressed, would solve many problems. One being sale-or-return. Booksellers can take all the books they can accommodate and simply send back all those that don’t sell. This came about during the Great Depression. In a bid to get their industry back on its feet publishers offered this sale-or-return to help establish bookshops. Trouble is, the formula stayed long after the depression. You’d find bookshop staff would know their stock a lot better if they had to buy their books upfront and there was no return.
Some shops like Of Science and Swords does have this business model, and you’ll not find better qualified and more helpful staff. The other problem we have are high discount chain stores that sell their books as loss leaders cheaper than the independent stores can buy them at from the publishers. Two very silly situations that publishers have instigated.
I’ve also seen the library market shrink to a fraction of its former self. Once upon a time libraries were basically autonomous and would buy their own books. Then they formed clusters so that one library would lend their copy of a book to another library in its cluster so that only one copy need be purchased. It went on from there to inter-cluster lending, so that one system of eight libraries, for example, doesn’t need to purchase a particular book — they simply borrow it from another system of perhaps a similar size. So you have one book circulating among sixteen libraries. Of course, postage is such now that some libraries are charging a $10 postage and handling fee for this service, so I predict the loan system is about to get hit! Not before time, either, if we want our authors to write books and at least get food in their mouths for the effort. I bet you’re sorry you asked that question!
7. You’ve mentioned that contemporary writers need to be adept at social media in order to compete in today’s publishing environment. Writers have traditionally been viewed as somewhat solitary creatures. What are your thoughts on this new dimension to the writer’s life?
Oh, you can be the world’s greatest hermit and still participate in online chats via Skype, Facebook and Twitter. It’s more the upfront and personal side of publicity that most authors baulk at. I had to go to Toastmasters for two years to overcome the fear of public speaking. Some people can’t even face up to that. Public speaking is apparently number one in people’s fears.
8. Fitness is important to you and you have a background in martial arts. How do you maintain the balance between body and mind, and can you tell us a bit about the discipline you derive from your martial arts training and how that has enhanced other areas of your life?
You can’t put a price on health. Luckily for me I’ve always been sports-oriented so never had trouble keeping fit. I started martial arts in my twenties and that paid handsomely financially as well as health-wise. I now train in my gym (I’ve taken over the garage) four times a week. I also have a kelpie and a heeler — both working dogs. I jog with them every day. I also play tennis every couple of weeks. They’re things I enjoy doing so I don’t see them as being onerous.
9. I’ve heard that wading through the slush pile can be a pretty soul-destroying experience. When it’s time to start reading, how do you approach the new submissions and keep yourself from becoming jaded? What are a few tips you would offer newbies when it comes time to send their manuscripts out?
If I’m to be completely honest, my interns are the first readers of anything submitted to Ford Street. Most of them have studied publishing and editing at tertiary institutions such as RMIT, CAE, NMIT, etc. I get them to write assessments. Not only do I send these to the authors, which hopefully helps them revise their work), but I gauge whether or not to spend much of my own time reading the unsolicited MSS. Publishing up to a dozen books a year is more than one person can reasonably handle, so I do take short-cuts. Regardless, I don’t think I’ve let slip any great manuscripts so far. At least, I hope not!
Regarding tips for authors submitting MSS — simply go through the potential publisher’s website. See what they’re publishing. If it’s children’s, then don’t waste anyone’s time on submitting adults or non-fiction. Check the submission guidelines. You’ll be surprised how many people email me their MSS or send disks. Publishers aren’t made of money, and small presses actually lose. There’s no way they should print out authors’ manuscripts when cartridges are now $100 plus. Also, always provide return postage if you want the MS back.
10. Authors clearly derive inspiration from a huge range of sources. You’ve described using quirky newspaper stories as ‘jumping-off points’, for example. What else do you do to get the creative juices flowing? Are there particular places you like to travel to, for example, music you like to listen to, or people you like to spend time with?
I doubt there’s a magic formula, Bec. We all have our own methods. As you mention, anecdotal stories are the easiest to write because the plot is there from A to Z. The Glasshouse, illustrated by Jo Thompson, was perhaps the easiest book to write and it’s possibly one of my top three best-sellers. It came about from my telling another writer some home truths which she disagreed with. I was quite frustrated to have these truths dismissed, that I used the metaphor of a girl in a glasshouse oblivious to the world about her. It’s been chosen by international IBBY as an Outstanding Book (one of only four chosen from Australia) and has also been short-listed for the CBCA’s Crichton Award. But longer works aren’t so easy to write. Most times, I just sit myself down at the computer and start typing. Sometimes I write a lot, or even a very, very rough draft. I have no particular method.
11. The last time we caught up with you, you were working on this very book and had another series, Broken Magic, on the go. Are you still working on that series? What’s next in line in your very busy schedule?
I was going to publish Broken Magic as a six part chapter series, one coming out every month. But I had to put that on hold because of Mole Hunt. And now it appears as though a French publisher wants to purchase rights, but needs book #2 for 2012. So I might need to find time to concentrate on Dyson’s Drop. I have the rough draft ready, so it shouldn’t take too long. Regardless, I can’t have Broken Magic coming out in the same year as Dyson’s Drop — that would make seven books in one year. The good thing about fantasy is that it’s not topical, so I think it’ll be fine even if it sees print in 2015.
Paul Collins has written over 130 books and 140 short stories. He is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles (The Spell of Undoing is Book #1 in the new series), which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis. Paul’s latest book is The Glasshouse, which Jo Thompson illustrated.
Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling, and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He has had two Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.
He has black belts in both ju jitsu and taekwondo – this experience comes through in both The Jelindel Chronicles and The Earthborn Wards.
1. Your latest novel, The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler, has received fantastic reviews. What was your inspiration for this novel and is Toby based on a real person?
Toby isn’t anyone I know. I’ve met several autistic kids, though. I sometimes wonder if kids I knew when growing up were autistic. Long before we had a name to account for certain behaviour, of course. I rarely write books with anyone in mind, although someone did inspire my current picture book, The Glasshouse.
2. Paul, you’re not only a prolific writer of books for both adults and children but you also run Ford Street Publishing. You must be incredibly busy! How do you maintain a balance between the two careers?
The fact is, I don’t. My writing has taken a backseat for some time now. I have Maximus Black, the first book in a trilogy, just waiting for final polishing touches, but I can’t get to it. I also have a six part chapter series called Broken Magic that is just sitting here, but I can’t devote the time to do anything with it. All I’ve managed this year are a few chapter books that I’ve been commissioned to write. I think gone are the days I could write on spec. Publishing books is one thing, but publishing successfully is a whole new ballgame. Major publishers have six plus departments to handle every facet of their business, from commissioning through to accounts, but a small press has to be all of those departments rolled into one. The publicity/marketing of books is a full-time job in itself. Having said that, I’m in my element publishing books. There’s less doubt in doing something where you’re in control than doing something where other people dictate whether you’re successful or not. The writer’s life is fraught with uncertainty.
3. You’ve packed so much into your career, including writing, publishing, editing, and running creative workshops. Along the way, you’ve also won a number of prestigious awards and received widespread critical acclaim. Which of your many professional achievements has given you the greatest satisfaction?
I published Australia’s first adult heroic/high fantasy novels back in the early eighties, long before the major publishers got in on the act. Not many people would know that David Lake, Keith Taylor, and Russell Blackford wrote Australia’s first fantasy novels. It was only lack of distribution that saw the demise of my publishing house in the mid eighties.
I think, too, that The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy was another milestone in my career. My contributors and I spent about eighteen months putting that book together, and it stands as a written history of this country’s spec fiction. Last but not least, I edited the country’s first fantasy collection, Dream Weavers (Penguin Books). I look back at the collection and pause to think that back then, I had to look very hard to find fantasy authors to fill it. That book came out less than 15 years ago, but look at the Australian fantasy authors that have sprung up since then. The encyclopaedia would double if anyone were to update it now.
4. Which of your fictional characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why?
I’d choose two, because they have similar characteristics. First I’d go for Sarah, from The Earthborn Wars; second I’d pick Jelindel from The Jelindel Chronicles.
Both of these characters were inspired by Peter O’Donnell’s crime fighter, Modesty Blaise. Both are indomitable, striving hard for justice in very hostile environments; they have their flaws, too, and aren’t adverse to bending the “rules” if needs be.
Like all main characters in fantasy, they start out quite naïve – especially Jelindel – and through trial and error, they finally triumph. During their rite-of-passage, they save their worlds from devastation, but at great cost to themselves and others. Both lose their families, and due to their circumstances they must either grow up really fast, or perish.
These characters fight on against seemingly insurmountable odds. Neither loses her integrity, nor do they take the easy options that are offered. I feel as though both of these characters are real and are people I’d like to know in real life.