Books, Monsters, Myths & Mayhem, Writing

Raising the Stakes – More Vampires in YA Fiction?

Whenever I had visited the local bookshop these past few months (okay, Big W, I admit I’m cheap), I would be dismayed at the sight of so many paranormal romances within the Young Adult section. Back in July, after reading the discussion post on Wonderous Reads Are You Over Paranormal YA? it made me consider my options as a writer of the paranormal. Here’s some of what people had to say:-

  • Young adults are becoming tired of paranormal romances.
  • Young adults might want paranormal, but no more vampires, werewolves, fairies. (Note to self: what other paranormal is there?)
  • Young adults would like to see paranormal from the viewpoint of different countries.
  • Young adults want strong female protagonists (think Hunger Games).
  • Fantasy and horror genres may be the next big ‘thing’.

Now, admittedly this is just a handful of people’s opinions (with some handy information for a writer), however, it made me wonder that perhaps my very own YA vampire novel would have to remain in the bottom drawer for many years yet. Then came the announcement of a teenage writer landing a six-figure deal for a vampire story. Was it right or wrong in believing that readers were ‘over’ vampire stories?

Considering the positives of this announcement it is good news for writers in the paranormal/horror genre.  It gives new writers the opportunity to get published.  As writers, we need to come up with new ideas, as clearly evidenced by the reader’s comments.  With genres becoming more and more intertwined, the possibilities are becoming limitless.

When Harry Potter was released, there was a surge in the popularity of fantasy fiction, which was good news for fantasy writers.  Like everything else, trends come and go, and when it is the time for our chosen genre we just have to ride it out, until it is some other genre’s turn.  We write in our chosen genres because we love it, not because we want to write whatever is popular and this passion will come through in our writing.  Ever since the publication of Dracula back in 1897, vampires have stayed in the public’s imaginations, so they will always be a part of our psyche. They have evolved over the years because there were writers who were willing to do that for them.

I’m prepared to raise the stakes and breathe life in my vampire novel once again – are you?

Are you over paranormal for young adults? Do you see this announcement as good news for the future of the horror/paranormal genre? What do you see as being the next ‘trend’ in young adult fiction?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

Books, Writing

Reading – A Writer’s Dilemma.

This week, I’m going to talk about my reading addiction.  As I’ve mentioned before, with 2012 being the National Year of Reading in Australia, it’s a great incentive to encourage more to take it up. I’ve been encouraged to discover new authors, read books from authors I’ve wanted to try for some time and re-read old favourites until they begin to fall apart in my hands.  Being on Goodreads, I’ve taken up the challenge of reading fifty books this year alone.  Maybe a tad ambitious as I’m starting to get behind, but like any true addict, I just can’t help myself!

Now as a writer, we are told to read, study our genres and learn what’s out there.  It’s one of the ways we can help perfect our craft.  However, if you’re anything like me, one tends to out-weigh the other and therein lays the problem.

In her book, The Writer’s Workout, Christina Katz says to write more than you read.  Like everything else, balance is the key; be choosy about what you read.  That really hit home for me, because the trouble is there are so many books out there.  Admittedly not all of them are great and I prefer not to waste my time trudging through a book that doesn’t ‘do it’ for me.  As writers, it is best to know what genre/s we like and stick with them in order for us to write them well ourselves.  Writing our own stories should be our main priority if we want to make it in this business.  Perhaps reading should be seen as one of our rewards for a job well done.

I need to ease off on my reading addiction in order to make writing my No.1 priority.  Maybe then I can also reward myself with my other addiction – chocolate!

Are you addicted to reading? Do you read more than you write? Have you read any good books this year? Are you on Goodreads? How many books do you read a year? What is your favourite genre/s?

Free image by Anusorn P nachol courtesy of

Books, Movies/Television

From Book to Screen.

These school holidays I became one of many to see the screen version of The Hunger Games.  Although a bit lengthy, I did enjoy it, and having read the book made me understand it better.  Someone did mention that it didn’t go into much detail about the situation with the Capital, but due to time constraints, not everything can be covered within a film adaptation.  This led me to ponder the success and failure of some film adaptations.

Personally, I prefer to have read the book before watching the film version.  For example, the day before I was due to watch Gone with the Wind for the first time, I was up until 3am that morning to finish the book.  Having done so helped me appreciate Scarlett better and therefore reducing me to tears at the end.

Some years ago I read The Power of One and having enjoyed the book, I then decided to get it out on video.  I’m so glad that I never paid the money to see it at the pictures, as I may well have demanded my money back.  The film seemed to have followed the book for about half of it and was then turned into something that was nothing like the book I had just finished reading.  I was bitterly disappointed and have been wary of film adaptations ever since.  According to Wikipedia, this particular film adaptation was based ‘though loosely’ upon the book, further going on to list the numerous differences from the novel.

The film adaptations of The Harry Potter series have worked quite well, although perhaps if they didn’t come up to scratch, there well may have been a major outcry!  It seems remarkable how Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, being the longest book in the series, managed to become the shortest of the film adaptations.

From what I understand Suzanne Collins wrote the script for The Hunger Games and although J. K. Rowling did not write the script for all the Harry Potter films, she did have a large input and specified that the scriptwriter be faithful to the books.  Perhaps that’s a lesson for all scriptwriters.

Do you prefer to read a book before it is adapted to the big screen or after?  Has there ever been a movie adaptation that you didn’t like?


2012 – Australia’s National Year of Reading.

In Australia, 2012 is the National Year of Reading.  It’s a joint initiative of government, local libraries, writers, booksellers, schools and many other interested parties to get the nation reading.  It is estimated that a staggering 46% of Australians can’t read.  As a writer, reader, and concerned parent, this leaves me wondering what has happened.  It would seem that the days when we used to call ourselves the ‘clever country’ are long gone!

Personally, I think every year should be a year of reading.  In a household surrounded by computer games, game consoles and i-pads, it would seem I am a bit of a lone voice in preferring to have my nose more securely in a book, traditional or otherwise.  I spent the entire year of 2011 reading to my daughter the entire Harry Potter series – probably the last time I would actually get to sit reading to one of my children.  Just by taking that tiny initiative, she is more interested in reading books than her reluctant thirteen year old brother (and she’s probably read more than him, too).  All I can say is bless you J.K. Rowling!

I’m looking forward to reading books by authors I have never read before.  I’m also looking forward to watching my ever-increasing ‘to read’ pile get lower (yeah I know – that will probably never happen)! 🙂

Will you be reading more this year?  Read any good books lately?

Free image by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of


Controversial Issues in YA Novels.

There has been a fair amount of controversy within recent times regarding the subject matter in young adult novels.  Being both a writer and a reader of young adult fiction, I tend to find myself giving it quite a bit of thought.

I was probably about eleven when I read the controversial book Go Ask Alice.  Of-course at that age, I had no idea that it was controversial, but I remember it to this day.  Did I want to go out and try drugs after reading the book?  No.  In high school I was fortunate to be with a group of friends that never did drugs and in all honesty, we weren’t interested.  Did reading the book help prevent me from doing drugs?  I can’t be certain, but after having read the book twice, it certainly stuck in my eleven year old mind to stay away from them.  Mind you, my parents were completely unaware that I was reading this book, after having sneaked it out of my older sisters’ bedroom!  Lucky for them, I’d like to think that I had my head screwed on.

Recently I read Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Yes, I found it disturbing, but at the same time I felt for Lia, as in my teenage years I was slowly working my own way towards anorexia.  The author evokes the reader’s sympathy; we don’t want Lia to slowly kill herself, nor does the young reader have to endure such pain themselves.  Without preaching, books can do what they do best – educate and entertain.

Way back in June, I read one of Lisa Mcmann’s posts regarding this issue and I completely agree with her.  Having two children of my own, it’s only natural I want to protect them, yet there comes a time when a parent has to learn to let their children find their own way in life.  It’s one of the hardest things a parent has to do, but it is necessary in order for their children to learn and experience the world around them.  Personally, I would much rather have my children deal with some of the realities of what life has to offer them through the world of books than face the alternatives.

What are your thoughts regarding young adult novels lately?  Have you ever read a controversial book that helped you make certain decisions?


The Book Lives On.

A few weeks ago, in a discussion with my mother, she began talking about e-books.  Of-course she believed that the traditional book was ‘dead’, and since many people of her generation listen to talk-back radio, firmly believes that therefore, it must be true.  I should have known where this topic was heading; I’ve been there plenty of times before.  Never have I known my mother to be positive with any decision I make, so when she said ‘if the future of the book is dead, then we won’t need authors anymore’, I was speechless.  Here was a giant leap in logic.  E-books are still books; they are just in an electronic format, so surely, society would need authors to write these too?  They don’t just write themselves.

There has been plenty of discussion regarding e-books and the death of the traditional book.  I myself was a bit slow on the uptake in embracing this new technology, but since I now own a Kindle and have read some e-books, I don’t believe traditional books have ‘died’ at all.  When you think about it, have people completely stopped going to the movies because they can now watch them on DVD?  People still cook on stoves after all these years of having microwaves, just like they still hang their washing out instead of always using a clothes dryer.  Some of these points may seem a bit extreme, but you get my point.  Not everyone will always read e-books or buy a Kindle, so bookshops and libraries will still be popular.

We are fortunate that we live during a time where books have become more popular than ever.  Since the introduction of the Harry Potter series, children have become eager to read books, so too have teenagers become more willing to pick up a book due to the success of Twilight and therefore introducing them to some of the classics in literature.  The future of the book depends upon younger generations’ reading habits, whether it is in electronic or traditional format, and it is up to us as writers to create stories they will learn to love.

I know of no better way of reading to a child, other than by cuddling up with a book in its traditional format; it’s just not the same with an e-book.  If nothing else, that alone tells me that the future of the book is in safe hands.

Image by Debbie Johansson.


Lessons From the Library.

I remember when I was about four or five years old being introduced to my local library.  I’m eternally grateful because it was here, more than anywhere else that I was introduced to the world of books.  I fell in love with Miffy books and the entire collection of Beatrix Potter.  I think it was the size of these books, as well as the illustrations which won me over.

These days, I regard my local library as my second home.  Some years ago, I joined the Classic Book Club.  It was the perfect way to get out of the house and actually talk about books.  We have since covered Jane Austen, the Brontes and Australian classics.  People may have come and gone, yet there are a handful, like myself, that have stuck with it and we have all become friends.

It is also at my local library where my writers’ group gathers to meet others to discuss writing.  Through author talks, it is here that I have met well known children’s authors Andy Griffiths and John Flanagan.  It’s always a pleasure to meet other writers and hear them talk about the writing process.

Along with any good bookshop, I enjoy going to my local library to meet with other like minded people and talk about what’s important – books.


Kindle Surprise.

There has been a fair amount of talk about digital books.  I have always firmly planted myself in the ‘traditional books’ camp.  Before Christmas, my husband bought himself a Kindle, which aroused my curiosity in digital books.  I thought they would come in handy for rare books or out of print books, so I asked my husband if he could get me one.

When my Kindle arrived, my husband and I went through the Kindle store looking for books for me to buy.  My husband was beginning to lose his patience with me because I could not come to any quick decisions.  Like any good bookshop, I was inundated with too much choice.  He was beginning to question his decision on buying me a Kindle after all.  When I finally decided on something I couldn’t stop, so that my husband complained I was spending too much and it wasn’t ‘play’ money.  Clearly, I was damned either way!

I bought about six books and have so far finished reading one.  It has taken me a little while to get used to finding my way around and I’m still no expert, yet I would have to admit, I’m not so against digital books as I originally had been.  With the Kindle, there is no glare, you can change the font size, it’s environmentally friendly and it’s so handy to fit it in with your luggage rather than a couple of books taking up valuable space.  I can’t exactly put it on my bookshelf though, so I would need to know what books are on it.  My husband is currently buying books he already owns for the Kindle and I might resort to doing that myself one day.

I now have my feet firmly planted in both camps; however, I would have to admit you can’t go past the traditional book form.  Digital books certainly have its uses, yet they don’t have the same feel or smell of a traditional book.  It’s still early days for me yet.

If you own a Kindle, I’d like to know what you think.

Free image by Tina Phillips courtesy of