30 November 2011

In the Publisher's Letterbox Illustrated Envelope Competition - Winner!

We received many wonderful submissions for our In the Publisher's Letterbox Illustrated Envelope Competition and we think now's about the right time to choose a winner. Thank you to all the illustrators who took the time to create actual, real-life drawings and go to the trouble of finding a stamp (a stamp!) and a red letterbox (a letterbox?!) in order to enter.

And the winner is ... Gay McKinnon! We love your wombat (partial to wombats as we are here on the Omnibus) and your humorous style. Congratulations! We'll be in touch to discuss your prize.

G. McKinnon

G. McKinnon

G. McKinnon

G. McKinnon

M. Podgorski

C.B. Smith

C.B. Smith

C.B. Smith

C.B. Smith

K. Fleming

K. West
You can see the other entries in the competition here, and the original post here.

28 November 2011

Unpacking the fantasy

Often preoccupied as we are on the bus with reading and editing fantasy for young readers, it's been interesting and inspiring to read two great pieces on what it is exactly about fantasy, the genre, that so appeals to both children and adults. China Meiville here, and Lev Grossman here.

And so while we're on the topic, this is our latest fantasy offering which has picked up a four-star review in the latest Bookseller and Publisher, from new author Peter Cooper. Following in a fine tradition of genre fiction. Out in February 2012.

26 September 2011

The Octogenarian Wild Thing

'You mustn’t scare parents.' Says Maurice Sendak here

But it's okay to scare children, so long as their supper is waiting for them when they get home, and it's still hot.

New from Maurice Sendak

The Three Doors Trilogy: The Golden Door

The Editors had a brush with awesomeness last week while attending a talk given by Emily Rodda right here in Adelaide. Emily's latest book, the first in a new trilogy, is The Golden Door and after taking many, many questions from her audience of thoughtful, clever and perceptive children, Emily signed books like a warrior for each and every child who had the courage to approach The Signing Table. There was certainly a buzz in the air. This is the book, out this month, currently being devoured by legions of Emily Rodda fans all over.

And this from Emily Rodda herself about this new trilogy:

'I have always been fascinated by the idea that our choices lead us along different paths in life. Whenever we make a choice, even if it’s as simple as deciding between two tracks on a bushwalk, we may be changing our future. The left-hand track might have the hidden rock that is going to trip us and cause an injury that will affect us for years to come. The right hand track might give us the chance to meet someone who is going to be our friend for life. Obviously many other people have felt the same, because many old legends and fairy tales are based on the theme of choice. I decided to use three doors as my central theme in this trilogy because, firstly, whenever I see a closed door I want to see behind it, and secondly because I have always thought of books as ‘doors’—ways into other places, other worlds. The idea for the trilogy also gave me the opportunity to further explore the magic of the ocean in which Deltora lies—and that is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.'

18 September 2011

Three cheers for kids' books bloggers

Book Scout is back! The lovely Andrea is never wrong with her recommendations for fantastic children's books and YA reads. It sure is nice to see her back.

07 September 2011

Congratulations, MGB!

Our travelling editor reports that a fine time was had by all at the 2011 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Particularly happy was our very own Michael Gerard Bauer who picked up the Mary Ryan's Award ($15,000) for Just a Dog. And we're happy for him. From the judges: 'Children will understand and appreciate patience and hope more deeply after reading this fine book and discover that "a story doesn’t stop being true just because you stop telling it".' We couldn't agree more.

01 September 2011

The Hunger Games THE MOVIE!

Ooooooh! A girl with a long plait, bad attitude, and a really big bow - we like this, we like this a lot ...

22 August 2011

In the publisher's letterbox

A while back we invited submissions of envelope illustrations. You can see the original post here and the inspiration here. The best illustrated envelope wins not only five hardback picture books but also a serious look at the artist's portfolio. We thought it's about time to show some of the beautiful work we've received*. Thank you, so much, all you artists! And the competition is still open, so don't dawdle, doodle!

Bronwyn Esteban, Ferny Hills, Qld
Matthew Podgorski, Eden Hills, SA
'The Ghost Hunters', Nottingham, England
Marjory Gardner, Balwyn, Vic
Martin McKenna, UK

* At least one of these envelopes is from one of our wonderful friends and long-established illustrators who is not eligible for the competition. Sorry Martin, but we love your envelope!

16 August 2011

Q&A with John Heffernan

As promised, we bring you an interview with John Heffernan, author of Harry's War, out this month, and already being reviewed here. Teachers' notes available here.

What gave you the idea for the story of Harry and his grandpa? 
Harry's War is based around the stories that an old man tells his grandson about his time in the second world war. He makes the stories so exciting and fantastic that the boy dreams about being a soldier himself. I realised how easy it is to impress young minds and fill them with romantic ideas about war which is a horrible experience in reality. I also realised how people often embellish the stories they tell about things they do such as fighting in a war. There can be a fine line between telling a good story and telling lies. Harry's War is partly (but only partly) about that. It's also about the secrets families keep and how they will often tell lies to guard those secrets from being discovered. And it's about how knowing the truth will in the end make you stronger than all the lies in the world.

Harry thinks a lot about exciting things that happen in war. Do you think that going to war is an adventure? 
War could be one of the most exciting adventures ever, I imagine. In fact that is exactly why so many young men rushed off to the first and second world wars - for the adventure and excitement. Of course the reality proved to be something else entirely, far worse than any of them could ever have imagined. But that's another story.

Grandpa tells great stories about what he did in the war. Are they based on true stories? Did you read a lot of war stories before you wrote the book? 
Yes, Grandpa's war stories are based on factual accounts of war experiences by real soldiers. I read quite a few such accounts before I wrote the book.

At the end of the story, Harry does not seem to be very forgiving. Do you see Harry and Grandpa ever being close again after the things that happen in the book? 
I do think that Harry will forgive his grandfather for what he did, but it will take time, possibly years. Harry's other experiences, especially with Will in the boat, but also his talk with Grandpa's mate Jock, will help him mature and in some ways understand why Grandpa did what he did. It will also help him understand that Grandpa is also suffering, even though he may not show it on the surface. And finally, Harry might come to realise that he is quite like Grandpa himself in many ways.

You have written books with boys and girls as main characters. What do you admire in your characters? 
I'm not sure that ‘admire’ is quite the right word for how I feel about my characters. In some cases, yes, I do admire them - such as Rachael in Rachael's Forest for her courage and strength of characters, and Luke in Where There's Smoke for his loyalty and courage. But mostly it is empathy I feel for them, and an urge to go with them on their journeys through life. I feel that in some ways I am Marty in Marty's Shadow, struggling to understand the chaos of his life. Or I am Matt in A Horse Called Elvis, feeling that overwhelming love of a beautiful animal. And in Harry's War, I especially feel for Harry in the trust he places in his grandfather, and the great yearning he has to find out the truth about his father.

In Harry's War and in your last book, Where There's Smoke, you show families in very difficult situations. Do you think that people need to be in a crisis before they can show their best qualities? 
Not necessarily. Some people are able to show their strengths without being put under any strain. But most of my characters are quite ordinary people, often with flaws. They're not automatic heroes, that's for sure, just people. And yet they are capable of great acts of courage when put to the test. And I think that is true of many people in real life; they need to be tested to really show their strengths.

You live on a farm, and your books are often set in the country. Are country people different from city people? 
I actually do believe that country people are different from city people. I mean this particularly in regard to small country towns where people know each other and often care about each other. Cities are such impersonal places where anonymity is the norm and it's much harder to feel for others.

Which of your books is your favourite, and why? 
I don't have any one favourite. Most of my books are very important to me. They're sort of like my children because I've spent a lot of time creating them. Having said that, several books stand out and have a special place in my mind for various reasons. Spud was my first novel and will always be special for that reason. A Horse Called Elvis is about a very, very special animal in my life. My Dog says something I feel strongly about war and human suffering, seen through the eyes of a young boy. Marty's Shadow is possibly the most emotional book I've ever written. Where There's Smoke is an attempt to grasp human bravery. And Harry's War is very special because I've never felt quite so close to all the characters, young Harry in particular.

09 August 2011

New books in August

Out this month, featuring a swishy new cover in honour of its 25th anniversary, is the Australian classic Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein. Space Demons was first published by Omnibus Books in 1986. In that year I was in grade six at a primary school in an iron-dust-covered city in South Australia. My dad was the deputy principal of my school and as a result of that misfortune I spent a lot of time in the library, waiting for a lift home. This book was one that crossed my path in that year, and to say that it made an impression is definitely an understatement. After reading this book, playing 'Boulder Dash' on our Commodore 64 always felt just a little bit disappointing.


Coming up very soon on this blog is an interview with John Heffernan, author of Harry's War, also out this month. John Heffernan says: 'I realised how easy it is to impress young minds and fill them with romantic ideas about things like war which is a horrible experience in reality. I also realised how people often embellish the stories they tell about things they did such as fighting in a war. There can be a fine line between telling a good story and telling lies. Harry's War is partly (but only partly) about that.' Stay tuned for more on this fantastic new book.

21 July 2011

July books from Omnibus

There's been a little bit of jooshing on the old Omnibus lately. A new cushion on a comfy chair, some indoor plants, some dusting and some rearranging. And we're delighted to announce that Michael Gerard Bauer's new book Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, the last in this wonderful school yard trilogy, fits in beautifully with the new colour scheme.

And now we have a cosy place (the aforementioned new cushion) for Baby Bilby to sleep. Dear little bilby, you can sleep on my velveteen cushion whenever you like.

Also out in paperback this month is the enduringly lovely Bush Concert, written and illustrated by Helga Visser.

Unwelcome on the bus, any time, are redback spiders, but we've cleared off a special shelf so we don't get a nasty surprise reaching for Redback on the Toilet Seat, out in paperback.

When it comes to kicking goals, it's all about the quality, not the quantity, as we find out in our new Mates! out this month, Losers! by Pauline Deeves and Adam Carruthers.

04 July 2011

A Prize of One's Own

From one bus full o' ladies to another one hundred per cent ladies' writing prize, we salute you, Sophie Cunningham et al.

The redoubtable Virginia Woolf, via Google images.

30 June 2011

A very special guest: L.S. Lawrence

A special treat today. The mysterious L.S. Lawrence has granted us an audience. Imagine you're sitting in a book-lined study with a view of a back yard. Sitting opposite you is a professorial type with half-glasses, a hound's-tooth jacket and a bow tie. He is blinking, with mild astonishment, at the rainbow lorikeets in the lemon-scented gum outside. This is what you ask him and this is what he tells you:

Why were you drawn to the King Arthur story?
Because there's nothing like a mystery, and that's a mystery. Nobody knows anything much. Everything was in chaos in Britain, no government, no law. The towns were mostly in ruins, with bandits and invading barbarians everywhere. But there is just one story written at the time that tells of a British war-leader named Ambrosius Aurelianus, who won a great victory against the invaders somewhere in the west of the country. And that's just about all we have. Centuries later, people began to tell stories about a king called Arthur, who beat the barbarians and established a kingdom called Camelot where, for a time, there was law and justice.

Is there any truth to these stories? Nobody knows. Are they possible at all? Some aren't, but what if the others are at least partly true?

And that is the beginning of all story-telling. The beginning is always a question, and the question always starts with the words ‘What if ...?’

What if the stories are sort-of true? Not all true, because for that you need magic, and knights and dragons and giants and the Holy Grail, and all sorts of stuff that was added in later. But what if there was a boy who grew up to be a great leader? What if he had, well, sort-of knights – armoured horsemen, anyway? Where would he get them? Where would he get the horses for them?

And then I tripped over an odd fact. Archeologists dig up all sorts of things, including the teeth and bones of horses. In a ‘dig’ in the west of Britain, near a place called Cadbury Rings, they found some. Now, most horses in ancient Britain were just ponies – very small. But these were big horses. And more; there's a way of testing the teeth that tells scientists where the horse was born. Two or three of these horses came from northern Spain.

Imagine that! Somebody had fetched some of the famous Andalusian horses, and had brought them back to Britain. Who did that? And how did they do it?

And there was the start of the story.

What do you admire about Alexa in Horses for King Arthur and Sara in Escape by Sea?  
Well, first of all, courage. It's not that they're never afraid, it's that they don't allow their fear to beat them. That's what courage is, you know.

Then, decency. The idea that there is an underlying law, no matter what other people think or do. Sara won't allow her father to kill the man who cheated him, because it wouldn't be right. Alexa does her best to care for the warriors wounded after the battle because it's right to do that. They do what is right, just because it's right, not because it's convenient or easy. That's what I mean by decency.

And lastly, independence. They grew up in a place and a time where women had few rights and little freedom, in theory anyway. But in all times and all places, there have been women who made their own way, no matter what. I can only guess at what they had to go through. But I can write about them, and admire them for what they did.

Do you like all kinds of history, or do you have a favourite era/people that you like to write about?
Can I answer, One of each, please?

Yes, I like all kinds of history. As soon as you look under the names and dates and places – which are boring, if you look at them alone – you find stories. Stories everywhere. And stories are fun.

But I especially like history that's a long way away from us, in time or space or ideas. Ideas are the most interesting things of all, and in history you can find some really strange ones. Some of those ideas are horrible, and some of them are brilliant, and all of them make you think about our ideas of the world.

For instance, did you know that an inventor showed a Roman Emperor a machine that could make roads, all in one go, and didn't need a huge crew of slaves to work it. The Emperor ordered the machine to be destroyed and the inventor strangled, of course. Why? Well, look at it from the Emperor's point of view. If all the slaves who built roads were set free, what would they do? Probably start a rebellion, that's what.

That same way of thinking happened when a settler found a large gold nugget among the roots of a tree he was digging up in New South Wales, in the 1830s. He showed it to the Governor, who told him to hide it away and not tell anyone. Why? Look at it from the Governor's point of view. He was in charge of a prison, basically. The last thing he wanted was a gold rush, and all the convicts escaping to dig up gold.

We tend to think that anything new and different is good. But most people in the past thought that things should stay the same.

Weird, isn't it? But weird is fun, too. And history is full of stuff like that. That's why I like it.

What do you admire about people of that era?  
Mostly, it's not so much that I admire them – I'd rather live here and now, thank you very much. Most people in Rome were slaves, you know. Most people in Britain in the year 475 were farm workers, doing stoop labour on land they didn't own twelve hours a day, just to get enough to eat – and sometimes not even getting that. In fact, that's true of practically anywhere at any time up to about a hundred and fifty years ago.

They were tough and enduring, that's true. They had to be. And it's true that this modern world was built on what they did. But I don't want to live like them. Is it admiring them to say that much?

You seem to know a lot about sailing, and war, and horses, and medicine, and even about cooking. Do you do a lot of research?

Um, well, yes and no. See, I've been reading history – mostly, whatever I fancied – for, oh, about fifty years now. Is it research when you know pretty much the shape of how history happened, and you trip over a detail like the horses in Cadbury, and you think, how cool is that?

After that, the stuff you need to know sort of happens as you go along; and it's strange how the details often seem to fall into place. For instance, I needed to know who was ruling in southern France about this time. A bit of reading told me it was a Visigoth chieftain named Euric. And what do you know? It turns out that he also ruled northern Spain. Where the horses came from. And it also turns out that Euric was the first ruler in the old Western Roman Empire to declare himself an independent king, and make it stick. Oh, cool, I said to myself, and when did that happen?

475 CE, the same year as I was setting my story.

See what I mean about things falling into place? It's almost spooky the way it seems to happen.

Sailing, well, I sail small boats, and went as crew once or twice on ocean-going yachts. It's not the same, but it gives you a feel for it. War – well, I play tabletop war games. Horses – if you look at the dedication of Horses for King Arthur you'll see the name of Elizabeth Moon, who really does know about horses, and whose brain I picked. Medicine – my wife comes from a whole family of doctors. Cooking – I have a copy of an actual ancient Roman cookbook. Fact. Fellow named Apicius wrote it two thousand years ago, and somehow it was preserved. Funny what things people will keep. Most of the works of great writers and historians and playwrights and poets from ancient times have been lost, but a cookbook survives. Weird. I said it was weird, didn't I?

That's history. It's weird. I like it because it's weird. Quite likely, most people would, if only they knew.

Out this month, L.S. Lawrence's latest novel.

27 June 2011

Play School turns 45

I always knew that Play School is fully scripted (no autocue) but I didn't know that it's filmed in one episode, as if it's live to tape. Parents, prepare for some new presenters as well as all the not-so-old favourites.

Happy 45th anniversary, Play School!

Pic via ABC TV blog

23 June 2011

June books

We're a wee bit late with our June books post this month. The old bus runs a little slower and takes longer to warm up in the cold weather. We have to supplement our biofuel with liquid chocolate to keep us all running smoothly.

So, this month we have some old favourites popping up. The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay is a CBCA Award short-listed book by the amazingly talented Narelle Oliver. It's lovely to see this classic back in paperback. Also out in paperback is Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees, the classic Australian song illustrated by the young and talented Ben Wood. This is a favourite at my house where sometimes singing the bedtime story is actually easier than reading it.

And as mentioned in our previous post, the first two books in Michael Gerard-Bauer's trilogy have been re-jacketed to be all matchy and beautiful next to the third and final book, Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, due out in July -- stay tuned!

It's all about finales this month because next off the bus is the much-anticipated Calamitous Queen, the last in the awesome Grim and Grimmer series by Ian Irvine. Delivering on everything that has been promised, and much more, this is a worthy end to an epic journey for poor old awkward Ike and his prickly side-kick Melly. And don't forget to pop in on Ian Irvine's Facebook page regularly, he's just a crazy competition and give-away machine!

We're always excited to see a new manuscript thump on our desks* from the mysterious L.S. Lawrence, historical fiction author extraordinaire. Out this month is Horses for Arthur, set in the Arthurian period (7th century England). You need to be sitting up straight and paying attention to fully appreciate the historical context, but Alexa, the heroine of this story, demands no such effort. She is a feisty and independently minded woman who refuses an arranged marriage and instead follows her own passion. If you'd like to read more about the rich history and culture of this period, please follow this link to our Teachers' notes.

And if you love this kind of historical fiction, definitely hunt down the previous two L.S. Lawrence novels, Eagle of the East and Escape by Sea. And watch out for an interview with Mr Lawrence, coming soon!

* In actual fact, arrive with a polite 'ping!' in our inboxes, but that doesn't sound very romantic, does it?

20 June 2011

Q&A with Michael Gerard Bauer

With the re-release of the first two books in Michael Gerard Bauer's wonderful trilogy due out this month and the final book out in July, we're very excited to hear from this award-winning author about the process of writing not one, but three awesome Australian novels.

How long did it take you to write the Ishmael series? 
I didn’t actually realise it was going to be a series when I started writing Don’t Call Me Ishmael! in 2004 but I liked the characters too much to stop writing and I wanted to find out what would happen to them. The third and final book Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel comes out very soon so it has taken a while to complete the trilogy but I’ve also written Dinosaur Knights and Just a Dog in the meantime.

Do you procrastinate? Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer? 
Me procrastinate? I’m not sure, although two weeks has passed since I wrote the answer to Question 1. Definitely an early morning writer though. I like to go for a walk first because it helps me get my thoughts in order and to come up with new ideas. I write throughout the day but I rarely do much writing at night. I’m probably on Facebook or watching some embarrassing reality TV program.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books? 
I found that inspiration can come from anywhere. Stories seem to find me rather than me going out looking for them. The Running Man started with childhood memories of looking for silkworms; the Ishmael stories all grew from the first line of the novel Moby Dick which is ‘Call me Ishmael ...’; Dinosaur Knights started when I was watching an old movie about knights and dragons and I had the thought that the dragons looked like dinosaurs; and Just a Dog started one day when I was walking (told you I got ideas doing that!) and the name Mister Mosely for a dog came into my head. I still have no idea where that name came from.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
A while back and too old! Or more accurately, I started writing it in 2000 and I was 45.

What does your family think of your writing?
Either they like it or they’re too polite to tell me the truth. My wife is always the first person to read my stories. My son Joe particularly likes the Ishmael series. He always reads the manuscripts and gives me lots of helpful suggestions as well as correcting my mistakes. Joes also created the original covers for the first two Ishmael books.

What are you reading at the moment?
That last question. Oh, I see what you mean. Books, right? Well, I’ve just been at the Voices on the Coast writers’ festival so I bought a few books by the authors who were there with me. At the moment I’m reading A Pocket Full of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson. The last book I read was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which I loved.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers a bit more now that I have a Facebook page and a blog. Thankfully they mostly say very nice things about my books or ask questions about the stories or about being a writer. Sometimes I get emails and letters from classes who have read one of my novels. Occasionally they ask me if I’ll do their homework for them. (Just in case you’re wondering –- the answer’s no!)

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Taller mainly. But apart from that when I was in primary school I wanted to be either a Samurai warrior or a Ninja because back then there was a really popular TV show on called The Samurai and the main character Shintaro was my hero. He still is. Later on I wanted to be a singer-songwriter or part of a rock band. I eventually became a teacher which was pretty close.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Annoy other people who are writing. Read. Listen to music. Play the guitar and try to sing and write songs. Go for walks. Watch TV. Go to the movies. Play tennis. Meet with my secret Ninja group. No wait, I’m not supposed to mention that … um, what I meant to say was – sleep.

When was the last time you were on a bus?
A hardly ever catch buses when I’m at home in Brisbane – they’re just too fast for me. But when I’m away doing school visits I often get around by train or taxi or bus. So the last time I bus-ed it probably would have been last year in Melbourne.

10 June 2011

We like it when ...

... characters climb out of books and start doing their own publicity! Over here.

Ike during the unfortunate bum-inflation incident, book 3, Grim and Grimmer by Ian Irvine.

07 June 2011

We like this

Carly Schwerdt is quite a lady. She runs amazing children's art classes, designs and prints the most beautiful textiles you've ever seen, has a gorgeous shop and now she's written a book. Little Artists Handmade celebrates children's art and shows how best to draw inspiration from it, re-use it and make sure it doesn't get filed away forever in a suitcase on top of a wardrobe (ahem). Congratulations, Carly! And thank you for training the next generation of artists and illustrators for us!

30 May 2011

Q&A with Ian Irvine

The Calamitous Queen by Ian Irvine, out in June 2011!

How long did it take you to write the Grim and Grimmer series?
I began the plan of the series, and the first book, in August 2008, and finished the final edits of the fourth book in March 2011, but most of that time I was writing other things. The total time to write each book was about a month. The Headless Highwayman and The Grasping Goblin took a bit over a month each, The Desperate Dwarf and The Calamitous Queen a bit less. But a lot of that work is planning. For instance I spent six days planning The Calamitous Queen in great detail, then another six and a half days writing the first draft. Curiously, I find that the faster I write, the less editing I have to do. I still do a lot of drafts, though.

Do you procrastinate? Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer?
I don’t procrastinate because I really enjoy writing and want to do more of it. I usually start about 7.30 am and write until after lunch, have a break or a brief nap, then write through until dinner time. Sometimes, If I’m working to a very tight deadline, as with The Calamitous Queen, I’ll start at 5 am and go right through to dinner time, and even do a bit of writing late at night.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Everywhere. I’ve travelled a lot, and worked in a dozen countries, so I have plenty of experience to draw on. I also draw inspiration from my scientific background (I’ve been a marine scientist for 30 years) which perhaps is why I write differently to most other writers.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
In 1987, when I was 37. It was A Shadow on the Glass, and forms the first book of my epic fantasy quartet The View from the Mirror. The quartet is over 800,000 words and it took more than 10 years to get the series published, but it’s never been out of print in Australia since, and has been published in many other countries.

What does your family think of your writing?
Well, they all enjoy reading so I imagine they’re fairly pleased, though to be honest I’ve never asked them.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m re-reading my 20-book set of the Brother Cadfael medieval whodunits by Ellis Peters (AKA Edith Pargeter). And I’m about to start Jonathan Stroud’s The Ring of Solomon, the fourth in his Bartimaeus series about a sarcastic and cowardly djinni, which I’m very much looking forward to.

What are you writing next?
Now that I’ve done the Grim and Grimmer quartet, I’m working on a new epic fantasy series for older readers called The Tainted Realm. The first book, which I’ve just finished, is Vengeance. I’m also tossing around ideas for a new children’s series though I won’t start it until The Tainted Realm is finished next year.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I get email from a few hundred different people a year – readers can email me here. Now that I have a Facebook author page, I’m in touch with my readers daily and we have a great conversation going. The most common questions are: When is the next book coming out? Why did you kill off that character I really loved? Are your books available as eBooks? The answers to many FAQs can be found on my gigantic website.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Deep space explorer. Fighter pilot. Adventurer. Pretty much anything that didn’t involve real work.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Lie on the lounge reading a book. Wander around the garden. Daydream.

When was the last time you went on a bus?
Umm, years ago, since I live in the country and there’s no public transport at all here. I’ve a vague memory of getting a bus in Sydney some years back.

23 May 2011

Congratulations, Luke Edwards!

2011 APA Book Design Awards

Best Designed Children’s Cover of the Year The Staring Owl (Luke Edwards, Omnibus) cover designer Luke Edwards

Yay! Written, illustrated and designed by the one and only Luke Edwards. Well done, Luke and Owl.

20 May 2011

Movie review: Ramona and Beezus

We watched this movie on dvd recently after it slipped under my radar when it came out in cinemas last year. Based, of course, on the wonderful books by Beverley Cleary, the film remains true to the books' spirit. The Ramona books do that beautiful thing in truly good children's literature -- give an insight into the adult world from a child's perspective. As adults we can be reminded how mystifying, alarming and confusing the world can be for children. But also, that children can be full participants in family life and all the good and bad times. The children are quirky, the adults are not perfect (but they are unusually good looking) and the parenting is not straight out of the box. This film gets it all just right. And it ends with a wedding -- what's not to like?!

17 May 2011

The Friendship Matchmaker

Today some wonderful reviews of The Friendship Matchmaker appearing here and thereabouts on the interwebs.

Over here at Readings.

Here at The Younger Sun.

Here on the website of the NSW Association for Gifted and Talented Children.

And there's a wonderful discussion on Randa's own website about the book. So many happy readers!

And an interview with Randa here, talking about writing The Friendship Matchmaker.

And don't forget to leave us a comment to enter the Sean Williams competition, the prize being a signed set of The Fixers!