Saturday, 25 August 2012

Off to New Zealand

What I'm reading: Roddy Doyle, The Barrytown Trilogy (again); Pat Barker, Union Street (again), Frank Bongiorno, The Sex Lives of Australians: a history.

Right, I'm back from the RWA conference, which was, as usual, pretty good. For me, the full day workshop on screenwriting by Alexandra Sokoloff was one of the high points, as was Bronwyn Parry's lecture on Georgian and Regency fabrics. The hotel, the QT at Surfers Paradise, was excellent; lovely modern rooms, good food, and cheerful, helpful staff.
Tomorrow, I'm off to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, to speak at the Northwrite festival in Whangarei and to visit family, and I'm in the middle of packing. The baggage allowance on the plane is 23kg and I'm struggling. You might be thinking, who needs more than 23kgs of clothes just for a fortnight? But it isn't clothes, a lot of the weight is books. I also need to do a bit of work when I'm away - I have a deadline looming.
The first book in my Australian quartet has just come back from the printer, and I've almost finished the second. This is the one with the deadline, obviously.
Book one is called Behind the Sun, and will be out in New Zealand in November this year, and in December in Australia. The second book, Girl of Shadows, involving the same characters, will be coming out in 2013.
The series is inspired by, but not necessarily based on, a handful of my ancestors who were transported to Australia between 1789 and 1814, and another who was a marine on the First Fleet. My series starts later than that, though - in Newgate gaol in London in 1828.

Blurb: Irreverent and streetwise prostitute Friday Woolfe is in London’s notorious Newgate Gaol, awaiting transportation. There, she meets three other girls: intelligent and opportunistic thief Sarah Morgan, naive young Rachel Winter, and reliable and capable seamstress Harriet Clarke. On the voyage to New South Wales their friendship becomes an unbreakable bond — but there are others on board who will change their lives forever. Friday makes an implacable enemy of Bella Jackson, a vicious woman whose power seems undiminished by her arrest and transportation, while Harriet is taken under the wing of an idealistic doctor, James Downey. Rachel catches the eye of a sinister passenger with more than honour on his mind. When they finally arrive on the other side of the world, they are confined to the grim and overcrowded Parramatta Female Factory. But worse is to come as the threat of separation looms. In the land behind the sun, the only thing they have is each other ...' 

While I'm away I'll mostly edit, as obviously I can't take all my research material to New Zealand, which will leave about another 15k words to write when I get back to Newcastle. Then I'll do another edit, to take out the ugly and unfortunate bits I missed the first time round (and there are always ugly, unfortunate bits in a first draft) before I deliver Girl of Shadows to my publisher.
Watch this space. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Four days...

What I'm reading: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris; Abandoned Women: Scottish convicts exiled beyond the Seas, by Lucy Frost; Illness in Colonial Australia, by F.B. Smith; and Vintage Tattoos: a sourcebook for old-school designs and tattoo artists, by Carol Clerk.

Actually, the title of this blog, 'Four days', doesn't really work now, because I should have written it on Sunday, but I was busy. If I had done it then, it would have been four days until I fly to Surfers Paradise for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. Four days of sitting on my bum listening to other people tell me interesting and illuminating things about writing. Excellent.

I'm doing the A-Day on Thursday, which is a professional development day for published authors, followed by a full day workshop on screenwriting on Friday, facilitated by international novelist and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff. Apparently there was pre-workshop homework for that -participants were meant to come up with a list of ten films with storylines resembling that of their current wip (I think - I lost the email) - but unfortunately I haven't done it. I've been flat out working on my current wip.

On Saturday I'm doing workshops on 'Relentless Conflict - You Owe It To Your Characters' (timely - my conflict can sometimes run out of steam half way through a book); 'Revisions: Rewriting, Editing, Proof-reading' (can never learn enough about that); and a panel titled 'Love In The Face Of Danger'. Sounds like a book by one of the Mitford sisters. On Sunday I'm doing 'The Most Perfect Cloth: Dress Fabric for Georgian and Regency Characters' (call me a trainspotter but I think it'll be fascinating); 'Why TV Can Be A Writer's Best Friend'; and a panel on 'Dishing the Dirt: Erotic Romance (which no doubt will be packed, given the recent success of Fifty Shades of Grey).

Four days after that I'm going home to New Zealand to, among other things, speak at the Northwrite festival in Whangarei, from 7-9 September. On the Friday night I'll be on a panel with other authors talking about the business of writing, and on Saturday morning I'm taking a four-hour workshop on various aspects of researching and writing historical fiction. During that I'll look at things like the ethics of writing historical fiction (sounds boring but it isn't), using different types of sources when you're researching (with examples), how to blend fiction with fact in a non-lumpy way, and various other issues like dialogue, anachronisms, 21st century points of view, etc. And on Saturday night I'll be talking about my life as a writer and how I go about it my work. I'm looking forward to it. So, a big thank you to the Northland branch of the NZSA for inviting me.