Sunday, December 27, 2009

The writing process part three - phew

A short update: I have been brave and I have been pleased with my bravery. I've thrown out the over-writing and put in some explanations and I'm very pleased to report that Fleance and Rachel and Rosie are doing fine.

Thank God!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The writing process - painful part two

I have been a teacher for over twenty years. I love being a teacher. But, I am used to strict deadlines ("junior reports to form teachers by 9am on the 5th", "NCEA results loaded into ClassRoom Manager no later than the 17th" - kinda stuff).

So, I have a deadline: manuscript to publishers on or before the 1st of March. Oh, and 120,000 words.

The problem is, I'm writing to a word count and deadline even though I know that a lot of what I'm writing is cringingly over-written because I dread deleting a word because it will reduce my word count.

Today, I read the first 45,000 words of Bloodlines. It's trucking along with some really good bits but my-oh-my- my some of what I've written is puke.

I needed to find his voice. Fleance that is so I picked up Banquo's Son and flicked it open. I just began to read.


Thank goodness for that boy. The message to me? Shut up Tania and just tell the story. In other words, I have felt the burden of trying to write a sequel so that I've anxiously written a stuff which actually is overwritten. There’s great intelligence in there but, please, author, go away.

Note to self: day after Boxing day - cut the crap. Get the boy into battle; deal with the rebels; deal with the abductors; deal with the love problem. Don't worry about whether they sat in a carriage or a wagon at this stage - just that they were moving!

I am a novice when it comes to writing historical fiction (despite the many hours I have spent researching this period) So, I will (as my hubby exhorts) tells the bloddy story and then come back and fill in the historical details. I agree with him that the story is timeless so let’s get the boy dealing with his issues…

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The writing process

Actually, there isn't a set formula. One has to work it out on ones own. Before Banquo's Son, I'd never written: a historical fiction, more than 60,000 per book, a series.

So, here I am. Writing book two in the Banquo's Son trilogy and, unlike the lovely Diana Gabaldon, I don't have three years but three months to go from 42,000 words to 120,000.

As I said in my previous post, each of the key players is about to head into some pretty crappy stuff so I have taken stock and decided to go back to the beginning and do some serious editing. This will enable me to send the first third to my editor, agent and the babes for their response.

I've spent today doing a lot of work for the trilogy and no writing. Finding out such things as the rise of the plow and the three year cycle of agriculture and the attitude of the church and the movement of peoples around Britain and Europe. I don't know why we keep thinking these guys were backward (well, you may not have but I kinda did). They were amazing in their water mills and weaving and technology and community spirit and organisation of the people and education.

Okay, no flush toilets and not very good medicial understanding but, hey, my friend who had his leg amputated on Tuesday still suffered misdiagnosis on Thursday when, eventually, it was discovered he had collapsed lower lungs. Even in this advanced time, medical people get it wrong. It is not an exact science. Therefore, I give myself permission to give Rachel special understanding of the way the body works. Perhaps she is a healer (in the biblical sense). I can live with that.

I will endeavour, in the next few weeks, to upload some snippets from Book Two.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bloodlines: setting the story straight

I've finished Echo in the Bone and loved it (and spent too many small hours reading it) and did notice that there was a lot of padding from past history and story - to remind us(?) or to fill in time. Anyway, I was left wanting more cos there is always more but, for Bloodlines, I'm not doing what I call a JK or a Diana.

I want my story to tell a story and be complete in itself. Bloodlines should satisfy you without you having to know the before but if you want more I can give you more.

History is a tenacious beast and open to interpretation. So, if I don't satisfy your particular fetish about 11th Century goings on, I'm sorry. But, I'd be mighty pleased if you flew to Dunedin so that we could chew the fat a while *grin*

I am writing a story about the power of hearts which strive to do the right thing and, at the same time, try to avoid the pain of life. 11th C or 21st C - duh - it's pretty much the same thing.

My problem is satisfying the purists who want history to be as it and those who wonder about how they think it might in the current way we look at history.

My argument is: Be kind. Embrace difference. Do not be so quick to judge something you may not understand.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bloodlines - reading and writing

I am thoroughly enjoying having the time to [what's the word?] just wallow in Diana Gabaldon's latest. (Have chest infection so up since 1am to keep from coughing up my intestines). What is she doing that I think so great? She says in her acknowledgments about her editors putting up with the bits but the bits have come together nicely. They are the stories of: Claire, Jamie, Ian, Bree, Roger, William (and other minor but not insignificant characters). Well done her.

Gabaldon (like Claire) loves each and every character and I delight in Claire's delight or Ian's or William’s or Brianna's when a less than perfect man (it's usually a man) has had a story of woe and is then on the road to better things. Such is her strength as a story teller. Even the mad bastard and his wife who tried to kill William and the Hunters during the night.

This author is incredibly gifted and I am in awe and aspire to be as good.

The medical stuff interests me highly because of Rachel's calling but the sex stuff between Jamie and Claire (I shade my eyes - I dinna wanna ken - see?)

As to Bloodlines, these are the stories I am writing: Rachel, Fleance, Rosie, the stranger (aoooohhhh), Scotland actually. And, maybe I'll add Jethro and Blair in the mix.

While Gabaldon has lots of information available in terms of healing, I have very little so that I can only say such things like 'She placed a steaming poultice on the wound' whereas the former would provide us with all the names of the herbs and spices.

Also, three of the characters come from the 20th century so have foreknowledge. None of my characters have this and so I am shackled.

As to the weather, I enjoy reading her description of fog and swamp and storm and rain. She's great at it and I'm glad I live in Dunedin which gives me 'four seasons in one day'.

Anyway, I'm a happy camper (despite my chest infection - I think both Claire and Rachel would subscribe to the same prescription as to my treatment: drink water, keep cool, don't cough over anyone!) reading brilliant writing and writing, every paragraph or so, good stuff.

By the way, Vanda Symon, is also skilled with her characterisation. Every person who featured was fully drawn and credible.

Note to the writer self: this is important. A man (any character) comes to your door and this man becomes your neigbour (in the biblical sense). Give him home and hearth.


Now, I am back to the soggy ruins of outcrops and heart-broken youngins. (sigh)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Banquo's Son Trilogy - digging in the seeds

I've had a wonderful few days writing and enjoying getting acquainted with characters I used to know well (Rosie) and characters whom I didn't know so well. Also enjoying thinking about the hard questions about life, love and the way the world works.

What I've written is 'Shitty First Draft' stuff but the bones are there and I'm currently happy with the trajectory.

On Monday, I went into Marbecks here in Dunedin (a new store: cafe, music, books, dvds) and remarked to the manager I was pleased to see Banquo's Son on the Best Sellers table. He blanched and then said, 'You live here? You're the author?'

'Yes,' I said. 'That's me.'

'I thought you were just another international author. Should I shift the books to the New Zealand section?'

'No,' I said. 'Leave it as it is. The publishers clearly got it right in not pigeonholing me.

Now, if we could just get the rest of the world to stop trying to put me and the books in a cubby hole, we might get traction.

Highlight for Tuesday: wandering through Farmers Dept store and one of my ex students beaming: I'm at chapter nine and loving it. It's sooooo good.

I did good with this one and am thankful to my publisher (Vicki) and my agent (Josh) and my students and Fleur for helping me to make the whole thing better.

But, part of me just wishes that it could have been (could be) easier.

All the readers say this is a great story. Here, the blog review of a librian from Central Districts:

'I reviewed this book a little while ago and now put it in my top 10 because it is a brilliant read for people from ages 12 to ...whenever. It was entertaining, well written and inspired me to go looking for more information about the history of Scotland. Tania Roxborogh has written a masterpiece.'

I came across this comment from a librarian’s blog (she read over 400 books this year and had been asked to name her top ten. Ours was number 7.)

I think her comments pretty much sum up what people are feeling about the book.

So, I am not Witi and I'm not Joy or Margaret but I'm getting lovely emails from people around the world wanting more of my books.

I think I'm doing okay.

Now, back to the rain and burned out remains of a wee village in Scotland (11th Century of course - go Blair and Rosie)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wise words

Today, I got post from the NZSA and, at the back (of a very worthy newsletter) was a collection of quotes. This one struck me as being incredibly relevant to my 'writing attitude' at the moment:

"I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well." Agatha Christie 1977

I was a school today (with no students) being taught in the first part of the morning about the language of the new curriculum and later my school's plan to make information available to students 24/7 (more helpful for parents, I suspect, whose kids don't let them know what is going on at school) and then, while others went off to the staff lunch (which I did not attend for very understandable reasons) I went to Rhubarb and pondered the following:

In Bloodlines, what will be Rosie's story? What motivates her to stay single? Is there pressure from her parents to marry? Is she given knowledge which comes from beyond the corporal?

In terms of the process of this whole story, Fleance came first and then Rosie. After, came Duncan and then Rachel but, because of what I'm writing, Rachel is more my best friend than Rosie (though I love Rosie). Rachel my best friend cos she’s so calm and wise. Attributes so necessary in this world.

I feel like I've been away from a friend for a while and need a catch up so I've written these questions (and more) to get me thinking about the next step.

I have a daughter the same age as Rosie. On the one hand, she is still a child in that I have to remind her to brush her teeth and not answer back to her father but on the other hand, she is the most amazing adult. Last night she sang two solos at the Dunedin Town Hall. She is more world travelled than me but she still can't keep her room clean.

Like Rosie, she loves a boy (and we love him too) but both sets of parents wring their hands at such young and intense love. (BTW she has given me permission to say such things - such is her nature and maturity)

So, to Rosie who is beautiful and kind and caring but merchant class. Versus Fleance, um, King of Scotland?

Houston, we have a problem.

Ya think?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I'm going to spend the summer blogging more about Bloodlines than Banquo's Son although I will still update with news and reviews.

This time last year, I'd written about 9,000 words of Banquo's Son and had just signed my contract with Penguin. Today, I've already written 37,000 words of Bloodlines and I'm not marking national exams so I am hopeful I will be able to devote more time to writing.

Banquo's Son had, as its main focus, the individual concerns of Fleance. Bloodlines takes into account more of the political landscape of the time - fictionalised, of course but I still need to ensure that it is credible so there's still a lot of reading and research needed.

Today, I'm about to head into battle once more and, once we see where that leads, I'll take a break and go to the movies to see A Time Traveller's Wife.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

recent reviews from two different folk

My friend, mentor and fellow writer gave me honest feedback after reading Banquo' Son. This is what she said:

My honest –to-goodness opinion of Banquo’s son is

1) a page turner (I know other people have said that, but.. I wanted to know what happened to the characters –

2) I liked seeing the story from the view points of the different characters. I liked the comparisons and contrasts of Rosie and Rachel ( great character questions there)

3) A lot happens – nice and racy and eventful

4) Ties in so well with the Banquo story – so clever, although probably no need to know the Macbeth story.

5) The prophecies – again, so cleverly interwoven into the story so that all came across realistically (if that’s the right word)

6) And at the end I still wanted to know more – so just as well there is a sequel or two!

7) I couldn’t see why one of the reviewers said the language wasn’t right. I thought it fitted it fine – no jarring moments, no clangers, no out-of-character words at all.

8) The events and characterisation of the ‘known’ Macbeth characters and what happened to them after Macbeth – were all so plausible!
The teenage angst stuff –will he/won’t he…. Also very realistic

9) I felt ‘informed ‘ about the historical context – nicely woven into the ‘love’ story and the history surrounding Fleance’s predicament

10) And [deleted to avoid spoiler!]’s death – (someone had to die) was quite fitting. Didn’t upset me at all – and so nicely done.

11) If I had a constructive criticism (which I don’t) … make the sequel darker!
And if it is any indication we have 2 copies at school and both have been out from the day they arrived and there is a waiting list!

Jeannie was a secondary school English teacher and HOD for many years plus time as deputy principal, is the mother of two daughters and a fantastic crime writer herself. Jeannie is a youthful women in her fifties.

The other review came toward me with a huge grin on her face. Ellen is 13 and an avid reader and very good writer herself. 'Mrs Roxborogh,' she said, beaming. 'I've just finished Banquo's Son and I think it was the most amazing book I've ever read.'

How many authors are lucky enough to have their readers milling about them and coming up with gems like this?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Banquo's Son: writing a trilogy and story structure

So here's the thing: I need to make you keep turning the pages. I need to make you slap your head and say - Of Course! Why didn't I see that coming? I need you to believe that if you were Fleance or Rachel or Rosie, you'd have done exactly as they decide to do.

And, I need you to trust that though I have your heart in my hands, I will, in the end, not make you cry so much you hate me but know that what I've written is as it should be. Tears and cheers all.

The last few days has all been about research and looking carefully behind the facade to ensure that the engineering is tickety boo.

My big question now is, the person who has to die in Bloodlines, does the death happen before or after the big moment? And, perhaps, is this death actually THE big moment? Which I kinda suspect might be but I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Banquo's son - what are my readers interested in?

As I've posted before, some who come across this site are new to the whole 'Banquo's Son Trilogy' thing; others have been with me from the beginning (early Jan 2009).

The first of the trilogy is only five weeks old so we've got a whole new world of readers but me, and the few faithful who have been with me since the beginning, want more than sound bites about Banquo's Son.

So, Banquo's Son is a hit! Great reviews; great sales. It's a great novel.

Now, the next one. Well, it's been an exciting few days for me (see previous post) and today, while I supervised an exam, I charted out the point by point events of our dear Flea, our lovely Rachel, and a number of other key characters. That as well as serious study of some serious history of early medieval Scotland/England/Europe.

The problem is, the basics are very thin on the ground. The big picture i.e. the politics (who is in power and who isn't and who was working to disturb both) is there for the world to see.

I don't want to be drawn into that history but I do want the end of the trilogy to aline itself with the real deal.

My minor was history but not this far back. Hmm.

The story is in good heart, dear reader. Just give me time to ensure that the king of scotland is not checking his emails or flying to Europe. *grin*

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fleance and Rachel

I've now got myself in a spot of bother by being mean to these two. Um, think dramatic filmic moment here. Think, who do I save first? Think, no, authors don't save their characters - they make them deal with it.

Trouble is, er, it's me that's going to have to figure out what to do with both these situations. That's a massive ask: research into military manoeuvres, shipping schedules, the weather!

Crap. I've got marking and junior reports ahead of me but now I have to deal with imminent warfare and ruthless torture. Why do I spend so much time reading blogs and forums and FaceBook when I should be writing?

I don't made things easy for myself. (Though I loved spending the most part of yesterday and early this morning reading Vanda Symon's latest: Containment. Joy.

Still, the dusting has been ignored for another week

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Banquo's Son, historical accuracy and plagerism

Dianne Brown, in her Here Comes Another Vital Moment, says something along of the lines of this (and I'm too lazy to go find her book and find the passage) 'Such is our predatory nature...we are word thieves; scene stealers' or something like that. Our job as writers is to turn it inside out and filter it back to the world through our own unique lens.

This whole situation with Witi has given me much pause for thought because right now I'm having to do a shite lot of reading about really tedious things to do with 11th Century shipping and battles and religious ceremonies.

On the one hand, I don't want people criticising me for being historically wrong. (A few have already tried but they are wrong, not me, so I'm nonplussed about their erroneous assumptions) but that I might INADVERTENTLY incorporate someone else's phrase into my narrative without realising that it had become part of my psyche, is a huge stress.

People criticise me for using words not used in 11th C even though I said I was using 17th C words. They said some of the phrases are ‘too modern’ yet the ones they’ve quoted have come directly from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and 12th Night.

What I’m saying here, I think, and as I said on Beattie’s Blog, I am disinclined to join the others who have so quickly rallied to throw stones at a man who’s novel Whanau was the first ever non children’s book I read as a child. (My step-brother won it as a school prize). Here was a narrative which told my story with all it’s glory and heartache and laughter and tears and violence.

Sad for him. And sad that people have been so horrible and unforgiving. Whoops – stuff up. Could happen to any of us. All writers of historical fiction could get caught out. Me. Or Jones. Or Alterio. Could. Shouldn’t but it might so we all have to be careful.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Translating a book to film - the ups and downs

Having just listened to Elizabeth Knox's response to Nikki Caro's production of her novel Vintner's Luck raises some interesting questions. Especially in the area of how much input an author has in the final product if ones novel is translated from prose to film. As an English teacher and (in a past life) a media studies teacher, I recognise the different demands of each genre.

Still, a story is a story and I can appreciate Knox's dismay that, for her, the essential love story was ignored to the 'fourth level' Knox says. For her, the lack of information about what had happened was the disconcerting.

So, everyone who reads Banquo's Son and contacts me says the cinematic potential is clear. That there are currently three American producers currently reading the novel makes me take a time to pause.

I may be a bit more proactive in looking at my contract should a film maker come knocking.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Banquo's Son YA or Adult Fiction?

In a list called 'our pick of perfect books for someone you care about this christmas', the reviewer says this: A dark and mysterious hero, tortured romance, a choice between love and honour... all the ingredients for a rollicking teen read feature in Banquo's Son, in which author Tania Roxborogh (rebranded "T.K. Roxborogh") imagines the fate of Fleance, the son of the murdered Scottish thane in Banquo in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Both my publisher are I are bemused that reviewers seek to pigeon hole the book in a category. I assume it's because I am mostly known as a children's/YA writer and that some of the characters are in their late teens, that they see this as a YA book.

It's not. It's just a great story which I know thousands of people, all ages, both male and female, have read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Below is an extract I received recently from a law professor in his sixties:

I have wanted to let you know how much I and Jan have enjoyed reading your book. I could not withhold from Jan my continuous expressions of delight and enjoyment as I read it... and, for being pulled in a different dramatic direction, less intimately with Macbeath among Shakespeare's plays.

As I read your book, I was reminded, over and over again, of T. H. White's Once and Future King, but I think I respect your work more for the strongly structured form it takes - a playwright's presentation, I would think, and so a testament to Shakespeare as is apt, rather than a story or history, since however much I love your love story, it is as you say not only so, but also about duty and honour. So what excites me is the architecture of your book, its width and depth and promise of continued extension.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why I avoid writing

I think I'm afraid. After nearly a month now of such positive feedback regarding Banquo's Son, I'm nervous I won't be able to do it again - that is, write a stunning second novel as good as the first.

Writing is such a fearful thing. One is constantly doubting oneself and I have to battle daily to convince my doubting inner protester that this is a BIG story. It's epic. It needs three books to tell it.

I turn on my computer every morning and spend far too long reading other people's blog, checking out what everyone's up to on FaceBook and sending email.

Everytime I have a break from the writing, I have to spend about an hour catching up with where I am. Sometimes, this brings pleasure (when I've read a particularly good passage) and sometimes, it can cause me to mutter: crap. crap. crap.

But, I've made a promise to myself that I will write 1000 words today. I will put a post script to this post updating my progress.

Post Script: well, I did manage 1000 words but not sure if I can really count [blah blah blah] and [more here] as real words.

It occured to me that I best follow my own advice: if you are suffering writer's block then there a few things likely to be done. For me, I need to map this next section of the novel clearly for it is coming to the first climax. The second, I need some fodder for the brain. This morning, I dusted off my brother-in-law's copy of Scottish Battles and opened up my large map of Scotland to get a sense of distance.

I need to get the bones together as soon as I can so that I have a sense of the whole trajectory of the story - then I can go back and colour in.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Banquo's Son - book two

I've finally found a bit of traction. My senior students have all but disappeared off on study leave giving me some breathing space from their anxious tutorials. Just three times 25 kids less a day makes a HUGE difference to the emotion tank. This means, by the time I get home (and after I've been domestic goddess - Vanda, I join you) I actually have enough head space to go back to the 11th Century and deal with the subterfuge and nasty happenings in Scotland.

I got a bit stuck because I couldn't seem to get the damn boy outta the castle. The girl was on her way on her adventures (no, not telling what type) but I needed to kick some serious butt to get Fleance on the move. What he doesn't know but what I'll tell you is: I've got some really nasty surprises in store for him. Heh Heh. A boy's gotta really grow into a man if he's to be a manly man and, what I'm starting to feel again is the exposure to this world which I dip my feet into.

The more I'm there, the more I see and understand. Unlike this time last year, I have oh, one extra month up my sleeve but also the pressure of the deadline.

I want what I've learned from writing the first of this trilogy (in terms of skill and quality of writing) to be cranked up for the second. I want people to say: OMG this is even better than the first book. Really, really, want this.

At this stage, it is still Fleance who drives the narrative and Rosie is there and, as I've posted recently, Rachel. But, lurking in the background is a dark figure. A nasty piece of knitting. Someone who has the potential to do a great evil. Mwahhhh hahah.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Banquo's Son still on best seller's list

Number four shared with Witi Ihimaera Trowenna Sea this week but the Christmas advertising is now in full swing with television and print promos via Whitcoulls. Got lots of excited txts from students, friends and family last night as the ads came on. Haven't seen it yet.

Today, two people came up to me at school to say how much they loved reading the book: One was 13 years old; the other was 49 years old. I think it says a lot about the story that it can appeal to such a wide range of ages.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Straddling two books

So, my head is almost 100% into Book Two (Bloodlines). I'm tweaking and shaping and creating the first few chapters until I'm ready to move on as I try to get inside the head of a new character. She's not new to the trilogy: Rachel is a key player in Banquo's Son but now I'm intending to spend as much time with her in this book as I did with Duncan in the first book. It's fun. I'm in the honeymoon/first flush of love stage with this book.

Then, a number of times a day, I receive wonderfully excited emails from people who have or are read/ing Banquo's Son. There appears to be a need to 'discuss' the ending and the choices Fleance makes; to work through, I guess, the joy and sorrow the ending brings. I want to tell everyone what happens to everyone but I can't. I have to hold that information in so that the reader discovers it for themselves.

And, of course, daily, the kids where I teach react to the book.
Today, for example:
8:30 Mrs Roxborogh, I finished the book! And, not happy.
But did you like it. Did you cry?
Yes. But how could you. How could you do that?

Interval: I've bought another book to give as a gift. Can you sign it please.
This is the third one, isn't it?
Yes, but what a perfect gift.

3:30 Same student as 8:30: You tricked me. I was worried and Mum said what's the matter and I said no it's okay and then you went and did that!

6pm, local supermarket: I finished the book.
Her mother: Now I can read it.
Me, to student: so are you a Rachel or a Rosie fan.
Cue: discussion as to the merits of both

Then there are the reviews or interviews which come in every few days like this one from the very impressive(according to this English teacher)blog called 'We love YA'Go here to read the interview about Banquo's Son.

This weekend past has shown me what I really need when I am writing seriously: quiet - for myself (ie no tv or radio or dogs or phones or kids) and for the family (I tend to talk aloud a lot). So, this afternoon, after school, I pushed open the door to the sleep out (my study) and surveyed the mess. This is not a representative photo. This was taken earlier in the year. Anyway, what confronted me, after a long, dark and cold winter, was a mess where papers and books and bills and bits and pieces had been dumped.

Right, I said, pushing up my sleeves. Time to sort you lot out. And sort out I did. What a wonderful feeling. A few more touches and I will be back writing in my special writing space and the family can do as they want. So dear reader, this will be my view for the next months:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What I've been doing this weekend

I am applying for a writer's award.

This is hard because you have to:

a) tell the judges how wonderful you are (and we all know that NZers are terrible at self-promotion)

and b) provide no more than ten pages of writing.

Arrghhh. What I've written is serious SFD stuff but I've spent the last two days trying to take the SFD to a higher level so as to impress the judges. Actually, that was kinda fun. Nothing like a deadline to MAKE YOU WRITE.

Don't know if it will help but ya gotta be in to win.

This award will mean so much so fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Naseby, Central Otago

How wonderful to get away for a few days. Already read two books today and spent some time writing Bloodlines. After an hour in 11th Century Scotland, I popped down to the local dairy and walked straight into the sound of a thick Scottish accent. The dairy owner is from the highlands and he had heard of Banquo's Son.

Thanks to Matthew and Tracey of Larchview Holiday Park who have kindly allowed me to access the internet (the only place of know of in Naseby which gets reception). Last year, I spend some time in their wonderful park writing Banquo's Son. If you're ever thinking of a holiday in Central Otago, NZ, come here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Banquo's Son reviewed on National Radio

What a fantastic review by John McIntyre from the Children's Book Shop in Wellington. Go here to listen to the pod cast. Wonderful stuff also about Mandy Hager's new book The Crossing. I totally agree with his comments.

Standout line about Banquo's Son from John: it's Shakespeare meets Dianna Gabaldon. Score!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Banquo's Son still on best seller's list

it's a huge deal for me that my book has hit the list once again. NZ only includes the top five fiction in it's weekly list. It would be nice if they had the top ten. Getting daily emails and FB messages and messages via people how much they love Banquo's Son. The comments overwhelmingly contain references to how cinamatic the novel is and how the readers are so looking forward to Bloodlines. Still a 50/50 split as to who they prefer for Fleance: Rosie or Rachel.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Re-writing Shakespeare

I have just discovered yet another intriguing novel which is described as the prequel to Hamlet based on the sonnets. Go here to visit Merlin Hermes site which showcases her new novel The Lunatic, the lover and the poet. It looks amazing and I love the YouTube promo. I think this will be a significant addition to the wonderful novels using Shakespeare's plays and sonnets as sources.

John Marsdon published 'Hamlet, the novel' last year and it was a wonderful read.

Of course, there's Mal Peet's Exposure which just won the Guardian's Children's Prize. It's a modern version of Othello.

And, just published (the same time as Banquo's Son) is Lisa Klien's Lady Macbeth's daughter.

What fun! (now, back to the marking)

Banquo's Son - another great review

Writing a sequel to one of Shakespeare’s tragedies is no mean feat, but to carry it out with the eloquence and passion displayed by T. K. Roxborogh in her recent novel Banquo’s Son demonstrates pure genius.

Banquo’s Son, the first in an upcoming trilogy, tells the story of Fleance, the son of Thane Banquo in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, ten years after the events of the play. It weaves an intricate pattern of politics, honour, corruption and love that skilfully echoes Macbeth and satisfies the Shakespearean fan who craves an answer to the play’s greatest unanswered question: Will the witches’ prophecy about Banquo be fulfilled?

Shakespeare may have left us little legacy regarding the character and personality of Fleance, but Ms. Roxborogh does not disappoint us. Courageous, honourable, intelligent and chivalrous, he takes his place among some of the playwright’s greatest protagonists. The reader is taken on an epic journey with Fleance as he comes to terms with his past and his heritage, and wrestles with his love for Rosie. Along the way we encounter Scottish nobles, political dissent, hidden agendas, true friendship, and the three witches, who once again attempt to corrupt the throne of Scotland through deception and the poisoning of the mind.

The style of the novel is crafted cleverly; the narrative is composed in modern day English, whereas the speech is Elizabethan in manner. Writes Ms. Roxborogh inside the front cover of Banquo’s Son, “I imagined myself sitting at Shakespeare’s desk penning this sequel.” This has visibly proven itself throughout the text, as the reader feels as though he is treading Fleance’s journey in the shoes of a 16th century English citizen.

Ms. Roxborogh draws on complex Shakespearean themes in her novel with expertise and dexterity, displaying tremendous talent and brilliance. Fleance’s love for Rosie is challenged by the need to revenge his father’s death, similar to the predicament that Shakespeare’s Hamlet finds himself in in the eponymous play. Also, both men struggle with their upper class status preventing them from marrying their lower class love interest. Banquo’s Son is a treasure trove of Shakespearean issues, knitted together in an adroit fashion, that have been deliberated for centuries.

Banquo’s Son is a fresh, innovative story that is a delight for modern readers yet does not sacrifice the multifarious nature and complexity of its Shakespearean prequel. Ms. Roxborogh has balanced canon with originality and forged an extraordinary masterpiece, worthy of its predecessor. William Shakespeare would be proud.

Banquo's Son is a novel written by Dunedin author Tania Roxborogh, the first in a trilogy, penned as a sequel to Shakespeare's Macbeth. It was published by Penguin Books in 2009.

Matthew Schep October 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Authors must never respond to a review but...

.... it's wonderful when your fans do. Go here to read Matthews response to a review which was part of NZ Book Month. Hamlet and Ophelia - spot on! And, the comments about the similarities between Hamlet and Fleance - wow! I hadn't even thought about that. That's one of the things I love about writing: when other people see things in your work and you were too busy writing to notice. Score, Matthew!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Banquo's Son - on line and on the airways presence

Today, my interview with Vanda Symon on the Write On Radio Show aired and you can check out their archived podcasts within the next few days.

Also, check out the National Radio pod cast - very cool to get a Scottish accent reading parts of the book. Scroll down till you get to the link but be quick cos they only hold them for a short time.

Today was Dunedin Diary with Dougal Stevenson on Channel 9.

Tomorrow, Easy Mix interview with my husband's nephew Tim Roxborogh

And, my reality is teaching, marking mock exams and sorting out the mess which is my class room. In four more weeks, I will have time in the evenings and weekends to continue the journey.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Banquo's Son - Auckland Launch, 10th October

Tania's sister Sharon, Tania, and, mother Joy.

Most of us, writers and readers, think that a writer’s lot is a solitary one; however TK Roxborogh’s latest novel, ‘Banquo’s Son’, launched by Belynda Smith, Children’s Librarian at Takapuna Library on 10 October, we were enlightened. For this novel to be in bookstores now, the relationship between the publisher (Vicki Marsden from Penguin Group), the writer and her critique circle – a group of astute students from Columba College, was a crucial one in the writing process. From the time that Tania sent an email to Vicki in November 08, with ‘What I’m working on’ in the tag line, to Vicki picking it up in December 08 and saying to Tania, ‘120,000 words by March 2009’, an intense, exciting and challenging 3-way bond developed and the outcome is ‘Banquo’s Son.” Tania was also grateful for the input from Fleur Beale, another well-known New Zealand writer who helped with the final editing.

Tania, a writer of over 20 books and teacher of Shakespeare for over 20 years has come up with an interesting angle – what happened to Fleance, the son of Banquo? Remember – the witches prophesised that Banquo would not be king, but his lineage would.
As always, Tania, a gifted speaker as well as a wonderful writer, entertained a select audience of over 50, including ex- students, teaching colleagues, publishing personnel, family and friends, with how the novel came about and left us all wanting to hear more – about the novel, about its planned sequels and about the writer.
One to watch, I prophesise.
Jeannie McLean

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coup de Main

I have just discovered this amazing online magazine ( two months ago). Now they have me and Banquo's Son as a feature. Go. Go on. It will be good.

Best Seller

Just learned Banquo's Son is third on the best seller list. Wahoo.

Great interviews today. Lots of signings. Loving the warmth of Auckland. Hating that my house needs a crap load of work but pleased to see friends and family and delight in the smell that is Auckland. Tsunami warnings taken seriously this time - very concerned with the extreme low tide and yes, higher waves than normal happened.

It's been a long day but very enjoyable.

News flash: two hours in Auckland Central Library and discovered the real Banquo and his son Fleance. OMG. So excited. They were REAL.

Being famous author person in Auckland

Working on someone else's computer can be hazardous. I just spent half an hour inserting links into my message and clicked on something which deleted the whole post.

Arrghh. Anyway, I'll try to remember what I wrote:

This morning I spoke to my eldest daughter who is in Wellington for the New Zealand Secondary Students choir. 'Why are you in Auckland?' she asked. 'Being famous-author-person,' I replied. She snorted. Children are so hard to impressed. But it's true. I'm here for signings and interviews and author events and to catch up with friends and family and offically launch Banquo's Son here in Auckland.

Yesterday, I signed books and talked to booksellers. I finally caught up with (in real time and space) with the delightful Melinda Syzmanik as well as Michele Powles, the 2010 Burns Fellow along with my dear friend, writer Jeannie Mclean (who is hosting me while I'm here).

Today it's a bit of a fun time with my husband's nephew, radio star Tim Roxborogh on Easy Mix and later an interview for the Arts of Sunday programme for National Radio.
Later in the week there are few more events planned but I'll blog about those after the events.

It's kinda strange being pulled back into the world of Banquo's Son and listening to people discuss it when I'm now so far (in my brain more than the word count) of Bloodlines.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is this a sequel I see before me? Extracts from Listener review

This is the best so far and to be in the Listener, no less:
Banquo’s son is a gripping, ripping adventure and, like Shakespeare himself, Roxborogh is a riveting story-teller… the slightly mannered style and quasi-formal dialogue are very readable and evoke a plausible enough 11th-century Scotland. Particularly affecting are the acts of treachery on the brutal and bloody battlefields…Banquo’s Son certainly has elements reminiscent of Meyer’s Twilight series – tortured adolescents, honour versus love, supernatural influences – but thankfully it also has strong female characters and a likeable, principled hero. Who know whether thanes and kings will become the new vampires, but it’s certainly an appealing thought. Reviewed by Catriona Ferguson

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Snippets of reviews coming in since the launch

From FaceBook (I've removed last names for their privacy:
Jessica: i finished Banquos son and absolutely loved it. Its amazing! i can't wait ofr blood lines
Janine: Finished Banquo's Son and LOVED IT!!!!!
Jessica: i started reading it the night of the book launch, and i hate you because i have done no work since!
Anne: After touching THE book at the airport Whitcoulls... I now have the library copy in my bag to take home & read... finally!

Via email:
From Joanna Orwin - a very gifted writer whose honest review was appreciated:
I was fully caught up in the story once you introduced Duncan at Glamis castle - from there on I thought your writing lifted to a higher level and maintained that throughout the book, showing an assurance and pace that wasn't quite there for me in the first 60 pages. Partly this reflects of course the usual reader's need to be convinced - beginnings are always so difficult! But I really liked the developing relationship between the two young men and found that more convincing than the early scenes between Fleance and Rosie (the later ones worked better for me, once they were separated and meeting only occasionally, with all that irresolution, lack of understanding and tension, and the added complication of Rachel). I do think you've handled a complex story with aplomb, and it's definitely a page-turner once you hit your stride. When you take into account the speed with which you had to write this book and the time pressure you were under, it's a remarkable achievement, Tania.

Ruth McInytre, The Children's Bookshop,Wellington: Yes I have finished Banquo's Son. I loved it and I did cry! (I can't post anymore of her email cos it will give away the story)

Belynda Smith, Children's and Teenage Services Librarian, Takapuna Library:
I loved it! I often struggle with historical fiction but loved Banquo’s son. I feel a real fondness for the characters and keep thinking about them all long after finishing the book. I can’t wait to join them all again in Bloodlines.

From the web:
Storytime Books:
The characters are wonderfully real, the story beautifully told, and the ambitious plan to write a sequel to Macbeth is carried off with great style and many references to events in the original play. I look forward to the next volume.

Snippets from the Print Media:Nicolas Reid, Sunday Star Times: ...She gives us quite an enjoyable yarn of what could have happened to Fleance once his father was murdered...Banquo's Son does the business as a page turner

Otago Daily Times. Reviewed by Gillian Vine: Banquo's Son is a good read.

NB: the above two reviews mainly just tell the story so I've pulled out the positive gush cos that's what we like to read.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My new website is almost ready to meet the world

Go here to have a play with the links. Not everything's up but it's pretty fun.

bloggers! Do you know your neighbours?

At the top of your blog, you will find the button 'next blog'. Have you clicked it? Do you know who follows next in the great list of blogs? I've just popped over to my neighbour to say hi. Why don't you too? Of course, as blogging goes, and it's a bit like travelling in the tardis, your neighbour changes so who knows who you will be shuffled with each time

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

and the great reviews just keep coming in...

From Gordon Nicol of Abacus Books: am part way through Banquo, and am really enjoying the read…. I think it is a handsome production that Penguin have put together as well.
Got to the irrepressible Graham Beattie's blog

Not to mention the Face Book chatter about the book. There is now a very clear divide: Team Rosie vs Team Rachel.

Was in Queenstown last night for a speaking engagment for the National Reading Association Conference and a whole scene came to me as well as the beginning of Bloodlines. I've really been struggling with the start of Bloodlines and now I've nailed it. Thanks Diana Gabaldon, for the start of your An Echo in the Bone. Yusss.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Penny's write up of the Banquo's Son launch

Well, a year and a half after reading the first draft of Banquo’s Son, the night of the launch finally arrived. About three hundred other guests and I made our individual ways to the Sir Clifford Skeggs Gallery, part of the municipal chambers of Dunedin’s Town Hall.

I was first wowed by the fact the sheer number of people Mrs Roxborogh knew to invite. But it became clear from how excited we are all we that the newly-born T. K. Roxborogh has a strong army of supporters as Banquo’s Son takes flight.
We were lucky enough to hear a bagpiper as most of the guests arrived, a clear reminder of the book’s Scottish setting.

Members of Project Macbeth also circulated the room, advertising their current production of a take on a twisted Macbeth, in which the man himself found Shakespeare’s play, portraying him as a tyrant – and he’s not happy about it! Guests saw a snippet of this play, in a short scene between Macbeth and Banquo – the latter is of course the father of Fleance, Roxborogh’s protagonist in her book.

With introductions by a staff member from Dunedin Public Libraries, we heard speeches from Vicki Marsdon, the publisher of young adult books released by Penguin Books. Vicki highlighted something all the Babes and I have felt: from the earliest reading of Banquo’s Son, we knew it had the ‘wow’ factor and were lining up to champion the epic novel from SFD to what’s out on the bookshelves of all good bookstores today!

Fleur Beale, a long-standing writing friend of Mrs. Roxborogh, was also in attendance and was the one to formally launch Banquo’s Son. She spoke in what would have been code to those not “in the know” – and her hints at something “terrible” happening have probably convinced most people to buy a copy as soon as possible. She may even have convinced some people to purchase a copy on the night of launch.
Mrs Roxborogh was certainly in high demand, taking a seat to sign her books as they were sold and remaining there, still in high demand for a large portion of the night.

When she did take to the microphone to give her own speech, directly after Fleur Beale’s ended, Mrs. Roxborogh was fittingly proud to produce yet another book of great quality.

But the launch was a night of celebration, and that included a little bit of public humiliation for that group known as “The Babes”, of which I am a member. We were called up by Mrs. Roxborogh during her speech, in the kind of voice that will make any pupil quiver if it comes from their teacher’s mouth. But instead of what might have been a detention, we were awarded our free, signed copies of the book and beautiful New Zealand pounamu necklaces, a gift given because of our contribution to Banquo’s Son.

Mrs. Roxborogh also referenced back to an incident just that day, when a group of The Babes stormed on her classroom, brandishing copies of the first fifty-seven pages of Bloodlines, the sequel that had been inked all over in red, we said simply, “We need to talk.”

And talk we will, as the sequel progresses. But the rest of the world will have to wait until 2010 for that!

Banquo's Son Dunedin Book Launch

A full report to come, hopefully by one of the babes as I spent most of my time before and after speeches signing books. The photo above is of girls from my Y13 class last year.Below is the crowd.

The skeggs gallery was packed with over 260 guest - at least 100 or them secondary school students from Columba College where I teach.

Fleur Beale launched the event. It was lovely. Look forward to Penny's detailed account - she'll do a better job than me

Saturday, September 19, 2009

no more procrastination

The kitchen is tidy, the house is quiet: hubby and doggos napping. Eldest organising her study plan and youngest spending a day with the horses.

Though it is a beautiful spring day, my mate Fleance has sent me urgent txts, twitters, FaceBook messages and the occasional MSN. The tenent of these messages? Get back here now and help me sort out this mess. I've been standing in front of the Earls and Thanes for nearly two months and they want answers.

Here I come, good lad, with some solutions to your immediate problems. Unfortunately, I also bring a bag more of difficulties for you to face in the coming months.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The books have arrived

oh so pretty. So nice to see them in the final form. Desire them peoples. Ask for them. Seek them out. They look damn good and, I'm told, are pretty amazingly written, so you should desire a copy.

1st of October, NZ and Oz. US and the rest of the world will have to wait.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book launches and international publication

People keep asking: when is the film out? when will the book be published internationally? How much do I have to pay for the book?

Good questions.
Answers: film? Well, these things, seriously, take time. I have been involved with the film industry: if you have been given funding then one goes about filming the content but, it takes time because someone (ie who has money - ie production house) has to pick it up. As to the US Film rights, we have to tread carefully because the publishing rights come first....

International publication? Those in the know say that this book should not be 'pigeoned- holed' at any genre. That, there is the rub (ta - Will Shakespeare).

The interest we are getting from a wide range of houses is exciting and looks to mean serious competition for the 'priviledge' of publishing this trilogy.

In the short term, we enjoy the excitment of the impending launch of Banquo's Son here in NZ and OZ and look forward to later publications in other parts of the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pressure from the fans

So, quite a few people now have read Banquo's Son. And, the opinion is divided as to who should be the life partner for Fleance.

What is an author to do? Keep true to my story or be swayed by the people who have strong opinions?

Part of me is pleased that there is developing a Rosie vs Rachel situation - it means I've got it right in terms of these gals who both love Fleance with passion and devotion.

I think I will push on with my original dream because that's what I know is right and, perhaps, some people will be cross (but understand!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The finished look of the Home Page

If you double click on the photo, you will be able to have a better look at the image

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The creation of my new website

Jessica Napper, Y13 at Columba College is designing and creating my new website. Here's a sneak peak at the start of the home page. Lots of details still to be added but I like.

My writing space doesn't usually look that tidy and there's usually toast crumbs and half drunk cups of cold coffee but Jessica wisely decided not to include these as they cluttered the look. You will be able to click on photos and get updated bio information; the paper weight with the Virgina Woolf's quote will lead you to a page of advice for writers from various people; the books will link through to my novels, my news and events etc. The pad you see is the writing pad I use to record ideas and thoughts about my current novel. Each new novel has a new spiral bound, brightly coloured, hard cover, exercise book. This one currently contains lots of scribbles and notes for Bloodlines. Banquo's Son's exercise book was lime green.

Here's what the inside will look like but, of course, there's no content yet. That's my hold up.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Penguin New Zealand have three titles that they are particularly pleased to be publishing later in the year and to generate excitement among booksellers they have published a 110 page book with excerpts from all three books. The book has been distributed to the trade.
The three titles are:
ACCESS ROAD - Maurice Gee - $37 - October
BANQUO'S SON - T.K.Roxborogh - $37 - October
THE TROWENNA SEA - Witi Ihimaera - $37 - November

this was my response:
I didn't know Penguin were doing this. What an absolute honour for me to be connected with such giants of literature.

The first NZ book I read as a child (not counting school journals) was Witi's 'Whanau' (my step-brother was given it as a school prize). I think I was 10 or 11. It had a huge impact on me.

Someone asked me once which author would be most like to be like and I said Maurice Gee. From Under the mountain (my 6th form year)to the Plumb Trilogy (uni days), I have just about every novel published by him.

I see Bookman, that I will share something else with Witi - people unfortunately spelling our last names incorrectly.

Reading your announcement has made my day.

I was brave and looked...

The book has hardly left my side. It sits on my desk. On Wednesday, at the end of class, a group of very eager students implored me to let them read the book. Six weeks to the launch, I told them, you will have to be patient. Go have your lunch.

Anyway, in a moment of bravery, I opened it at a random place and began reading. Suddenly, it seemed, the bell rang and lunchtime was over. Is it shameful to get carried away in a story you wrote yourself?

The reviews are beginning to come in unofficially as journalists make arrangements for interviews. Everyone’s lovin’ it! So far it’s evenly divided between Team Rachel and Team Rosie. How do you choose between Love and Honour? How to you choose between two very cool (but very different) young women?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It came!

The real book is now in my possession. I made hubby interrupt his plans to bring it to school. There were excited squeals and gasps and holding and oohing over and over as each class heard about its arrival. It has not left my side all day and sits beside me now, cooing and looking stunning.

It is one of the most beautiful books I've had published. I'm terrified to open it but I have looked at the first few pages and the acknowledgements have been eagerly read by the babes.

The title is embossed, the inside covers are gold. I am a very proud author and I keep thinking (as I did when each of my children were born), I made that!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I had to put this here cos I've had a hard day

From Siobhan (Penguin) in response to the blog:

We got the advances of the book in today and it looks wonderful - everything that we had imagined it would be. We're all getting very excited about the release of the book - we know it's going to be THE must have book for Xmas.
Can't wait to read the next installment - I'm in Rachel's corner!

Thanks Siobhan, a much needed injection of positive warmth for this ravaged writer/teacher/mother

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I should be writing but...

I just wanted to say how wonderful and frustrating it is being caught up in a mammoth story: this weekend, I read the first 25,000 words and was dismayed at some of the rubbish I'd written and then I was delighted at the absolutely fab and exciting stuff. I love Henri. Rachel is my new best friend. Rosie is such a trooper. Fleance is one lucky guy.

Now, I have to go back to my other self: teacher and mother. Bring on next weekend when I can do it all again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

why writers need their team

Today, it was just a sentence but it was a wonderful sentence from my publisher and it reminded me how much I need her to keep me on course. Sometimes, I feel I live so deeply in my head with these characters I forget there is at least one other who understands them as much as I do and can remind me of 'the way'. It was like realising that there are lovely men in the bright orange coats and walkie talkies just to the side and up ahead; like, I am not alone in my long journey to the end of this second story.

Thanks, Vicki. I've taken the next deep breath and pushed on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some more great feedback

Hi Tania,
Just thought I'd pass on some gorgeous feedback on Banquo's Son - the Penguin rep, Louise, has been in this afternoon and she told me that she was so deeply into the book on the plane from Chch to Queenstown that they had to tap her on the shoulder and tell her it was time to get off - when she looked around everyone else had gone -and when she stood up she felt ill - they told her there had been quite a bit of turbulence - her tummy had noticed but her head was completely with Fleance!
Regards, Bronwyn.

Bronwyn is the book buyer for The University Bookshop here in Dunedin, the place I spend most of my royalty money

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I can't resist popping in to say hi

Life is madness for me at the moment. (The babes understand where I'm coming from: reports, checking reports, re-printing reports, teaching non English specialists the difference between 'practice' and 'practise'.) Plus NCEA marking of internals. Plus the practicalities of two full time jobs: teaching teenagers and parenting teenagers! (Yes, feel sympathy, it will make me feel better!)

Anneeewayyy, Fleance and Rachel and Rosie and Duncan (and my new boy Henri - not to mention Dougal and Magness and Bree and Blair) are active and kicking and pulling me constantly into the turmoil of 11th Century Europe a few years before the biggest thing to happen since the crucifixion (When Great Britain begins to begin - aka William the conqueror wins the Battle of Hastings in 1066).

C'est excitement. (French courtesy of our French exchange student - and Henri (pronounced 'EnRee'))

Dare I say it but I think this book is going to be bigger (in terms of word count) than Banquo's Son. I never believed I could write so much in a book but then, when you write epic, epic happens.

Currently thinking and working through putting together a wonderful YouTube promo of the book. Need the babes for this and I am technology challenege (so PC).

K. Off to arrange domestic stuff including feeding dogs and humans an negotiating homework.

Oh, and dinner. A gal's gotta eat

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A treasure I found

This delightful book by Michael LoMonico is what is keeping me from using a weekend without teenagers to write some more of Bloodlines. If you or someone who know loves Shakespeare, this is a book to get them for their birthday or for Christmas. Thanks Micheal - you're going to be saving me hours scouring through my complete works. One of my favourite lists: the missing wives. *grin*

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the half blood prince

I saw it tonight and jumped out of my seat but, all the while, thought of who, of these actors, could be/play characters.

For instance: Snape is Old Preston. Come on. Is he good or bad? Yes, he's sleezy but is he for Scotland or agin?

The actor who plays Draco Malfoy: Callum people.OMG - so Callum. In a couple of years, this actor will be ready to play the part of a young son who ...... oh. Can't say anymore because it will give away the plot.

Then I look around my classes and see wonderful actors (female) who would fit the bill for any of the parts. Even Rosie. Rachel? Haven't found her yet. People ask: what about you, Tania. Do you want a part like Steph Meyer? I say: I'll be the extra in the tavern. I learned many years ago that, though I habour a desire to be an actress, I'm better being a director than an actor.

heh heh

[author slaps her hand: writing. Now. Stop procrastinating]

Tania waves as the weather decends.....

Friday, July 17, 2009

I think I can breath a bit better

or '100 more reasons why I adore my husband'.

He's worked out what's wrong and what he has to do. The computer is alive again and out of ICU but it is weak. We are now downloading all files to an extra hard drive (one we prepared earlier) but it's slow progress. The bottom line: I will not lose (I hope) any of my work. The upshot: time to get another memory card.

Now that the files are saved from a savaging, let me tell you the impact of our south Westland holiday:
After Greymouth (which we all wished we'd stayed another couple of days) we headed to Franz Joseph and then onto Fox Glacier. It occurred to us that there is real rivalry between the two glaciers.
Highlight for me (and my daughters) was a two hour trek around the Franz Joseph terrain with many metres of trotting and cantering along the way on the most beautiful appaloosa horses.
Most embarrassing moment: me sleeping through a major South Island earthquake.
The best bit: staying at Lake Roxburgh Lodge and enjoying the pampering I got from Kim and Phil. I’m coming back! Roxburgh is a place MOST like Scotland. I imbibed it all. Sigh.
We are back in Dunedin and it’s colder than our whole trip. Still, the fire roars, the border collies are submissive after a week with the dog whisperer and I’m calm knowing I’ve not lost a dot of my writing.

I'm trying not to panic but

my laptop has crashed. It may be as a result of travelling around the country at very very low temps. It did start up when we got home and then died. I have not saved to another place the last 8,000 words I did on Bloodlines. I know! I know! I usually do it daily but this time I didn't. Am trying not to panic. Hubby is stumped (he of the computer whiz brigade) so I guess it will be going to a puter doctor to be saved.

When I'm not so pretending not to be anxious about the laptop, I'll post about a last couple of days of holiday (including the earthquake).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

a picture from Anna

Anna is one of my ex-students and sadly for all of us at Columba College, returned with her wonderful family back to Scotland. Anna was in my class last year when I began Banquo's Son and her dad lent me a great book about Scottish history. It's very useful when you are writing a book set in Scotland (a place I've yet to visit) and you have Scottish students and friends to fill in the gaps (and translate bits).

The castle behind Anna is called Dunnottar Castle and was the set for 'Hamlet' with Mel Gibson.

Thanks, Anna. Nice to see that weather in Scotland is not always wet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

What a wonderful three days we’ve spent in this alpine paradise: the youngest and her best friend riding every day (and dragging me along for one of them). Riding Arabs no less and cantering and galloping are a horse rider’s dream. We met Haggis, the Scottish Highland Bull – all shaggy and horned and heavy with drippy nose and attitude. Not sure if his type was around in the 11th Century. Will have to check that out because he deserves a story. There was a Willow the horse as well but she was much better tempered than our dear Banquo’s steed. As I rode through the hills, the weather came in and it was interesting that a Scottish couple were with us. The man declared the weather was ‘jast loike hoom.’

The eldest and our French exchange student just chillaxing (gotta love that word) and enjoying NZ fudge. 'Ve doo not haf thees on France' says our dear Ninon. Shot! (I've always detested Belgum chocolate anyway!). She tells us she's going to do a NZ bungi. I say: as your mother, I would say no! She says, my mother would say: ef I vas en yer place I vould.' What's a host mother to do but say yes. As well, I tell her: you are MAD but hey, Bungi is a New Zealand thing so she must!

It’s been cold here in Hanmer Springs which is not surprising considering it’s the middle of winter. There is snow on the hills and around the grounds but thankfully we’ve enjoyed the hot springs.

Going on holiday is made or marred by the place you stay and the quality of your sleep. In Christchurch, we stayed at a lovely motel which, unfortunately, was on the corner of a major intersection and Christchurch has a problem with ‘boy racers’. I had to use ear plugs it was so bad. I hate ear plugs.

But, here in Hanmer, we got to stay at the lovely Bella Vista Hanmer Springs Why this place was great: the proprietors are great people (and they .have the most gorgeous chocolate lab pup); they do extra stuff like fold our washing (the teens were a bit embarrassed by this but I was thankful). Great showers (omg so powerful) and great place. Highly recommended for stressed travellers and families and writers trying to write another 5,000 words!

I have been delighting in Alison Wong’s As the Earth Turns Silver. Love it. Love it and grieve. In Year 9 Social Studies, students learn about ‘Tau Iwi’ – Later Immigrants. They learn about why people came to NZ but also about our appalling treatment of the Chinese. Alison's book is a great book. Buy it. I shall be recommending it to high schools because it’s up there with The Handmaids Tale.

Greymouth and Denniston is next on the itinerary (I love Jenny Pattrick’s The Denniston Rose).

Back soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

all done

So, I have sent the dogs to bed; the washing for our holiday is done and dusted. I'm, frankly, exhausted. We are off on holiday around the south island. Hopefully there will not be issues. I'm taking the lap top in case the muse moves me.

Night night

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My first official newspaper interview for Banquo's Son

This afternoon, I spent a lovely hour with a reporter from the Otago Daily Times talking about Banquo's Son. She had been sent a bound copy of the book (uncorrected page proofs) and it was quite exciting because it is looking more and more like a real book.

The problem, you see, is that I came straight from Scotland, 1055 (aka writing Bloodlines) and when she began asking questions which will be answered in the next two books, I found I couldn't keep mum. I kept saying: of course, you can't say that in the story about this book but.... and she would nod understandably. Her main questions? Does Fleance marry Rachel? Will he end up with Rosie? Does he produce an heir? Will the witches appear in the next two books? What happens to Magness?

Such is the burden, I am coming to see, of producing a series. I am in no way suggesting I am in the same league as JK (that's Rowling not Kennedy) but, like her, I have the WHOLE story mapped out and it's tricky to ensure I do not give too much away.

One day, when I'm old (or much older than I am now which is nearly 44 ie very, very old according to my children) I may be asked for my advice on doing what I am doing now. And, I just may have something to say. Right now, it's a crash course.

Personally, I don't know how Philippa Gregory does it. Or Diana Gabaldon. Though, in saying that, the history they are writing in has a heap more information than I have for 11th Century Scotland.

Done my words for the day but wanna keep going. (could be something to do with the fact I'm trying to avoid the housework)

Monday, July 6, 2009

I had forgotten how cool Rosie is

Just written this really nice bit with Rosie. Now, I do love Rachel to bits. I want to be Rachel because she is beautiful, calm, wise, doesn't take crap, is unfazed by bad stuff but still feels. I guess you could say she's warrior queen. But man, Rosie. She's got guts! She's faithful. She's who you want to be on your side when a whole lots of things turn to custard. BTW really loving what I'm writing at the moment *grin*

On a roll

One of the wonderful things about school holidays is that I am under no rush in the mornings. Mornings are my time - I'm up early and it's glorious to know that hours are stretching out in front of me and I can stay in my pjs (yes, I have a THING about staying in my pjs!) and wallow like a pig in mud in my created world. Yesterday I wrote over 2000 words (the day before I wrote a 1000 but edited out a 1000 so not sure if that counted).

My only 'appointment' today is to take the youngest to an appointment at 1pm. Said child is out of the house for the day doing busy things with busy younger things so no one is going to utter the 'M' word to me (that's Muuummm!).

Very pleased to be getting to know Bree better and am starting to see more of her qualities and the complexity of her personality - especially what she has been through the past 18 months! Fleance is going to have his hands full!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

No Excuses

It's officially the school holidays. It's raining. I'm in my pjs still. The dogs are napping. The 13 year old is still in bed. The eldest is in Chch being famous singer person with the national secondary students choir. Hubby is bringing me cups of tea. The fire is roaring. No one else wants to use the lap top. I've read all the blogs I usually read. Scotland is waiting....waiting. Fleance is tapping his foot impatiently. So (she takes a deep breath and puts an imaginery hand to the heart) I, T.K. Roxborogh do hereby promise to write at least 1000 words a day for the next week with the aim of writing at least a total of 15,000 words before school goes back on the 20th of July. This takes into account a family road trip around parts of the Southland in the second week. There - it's out there.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I have a twitter account called Banquotrilogy. You may choose to 'follow' me. Though, beware, I sometimes go to strange and interesting places like: my eldest's bedroom or the dining hall at school or into the pile of Year 12 marking sitting smugly on my desk or Scotland, 11th Century, middle of winter (this means cold, wet, dark). Man, that so sounds like now in Dunedin 21st Century.

I think I've managed to connect a feed from my new posts to the twitter but I have no idea if and how it might work.

Suffice to say there is a long line of keen girls wanting to read Banquo's Son and are frustrated that they need to wait till the end of September.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

You impatient beings...

I know! I know! You want the most up to date happenings BUT girls - despite the technology publishing is ssssslllloooowwwww. In other words, it's another 10 weeks before we can get our mitts on the book.
Hang in there.
It's worth it.
I'm just happy for the upcoming holidays so that I can devote 10 days to Bloodlines.

The wave is mounting people; it is moving across continents and after many weeks will hit our shores but we will be ready!
Note to all of Mrs Roxborogh's students: note down the extended metaphor and be ready to discuss in term three.
Mrs R smiling.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Do I need to have read Macbeth?

Today I spent a lovely few hours at East Otago High School just 40 mins north of Dunedin. I spoke to a range of students from Years 7 to Years 10 and one girl asked the following:

'Do I have to have read Macbeth to understand Banquo's Son?' she asked.

'Nooo!' says I. 'Though, those who have read Shakespeare's Macbeth will be in the know more than Fleance.'

'Cool,' she says.

'It's a cool book,' I say.

So, no. Not knowing or understanding William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth will in no way diminish your enjoyment of Banquo's Son. Promise!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My first review

Go HERE for an online review - very well written and a pleasure for this author to read.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Historical accuracy

Thanks to my writer friend Joanna Orwin who alerted me to the fact that there were no potatoes in Scotland in the 11th Century and to a sharp-eyed reader in the Penguin office who said matches were not invented until the mid-1800s. I knew about the matches and it was a slip of the keystrokes (I was thinking of tinder not a match but I used that word subconsciously).

As to the spuds, my researcher and I had thought we’d found them in the 11th Century due to a reference from the Doomsday book regarding tubular underground vegetables. I just translated that to mean potatoes. So, both historical inaccuracies have been amended.

As I say in a note at the start of the book:
Just as William Shakespeare used real history as the basis for the characters in his play, this novel draws on his created history contained within ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’. The vocabulary is a reflection of the Elizabethan era rather than from 11th-century Scotland.

I don’t want people getting picky about bloopers (meaning, I don’t want there to be any so that it distracts from the power of the story which, I believe, as does my agent, transcends 11th Century Scotland).

Now, back to Scotland and those damn rebels who are giving our boy migrains! (and, yes, I know they wouldn't have called them that back then but I'm talking to you from the 21st Century!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

writing the second book in a trilogy - I'm on a learning curve

So, I've written the first 11,000 words of Bloodlines and I was reasonably happy with how it was going (though it was slow) only to hear back from my agent challenging me as to my starting point.

I checked with the babes and they're with him.

Dani said: Mrs Roxborogh, you’ve got to put Banquo’s Son to bed, turn your back and start a new novel because this is a new story.

Imogen said: think of it like you did with Shakespeare’s Macbeth: some of the same characters but this has to have its own story.

Laura said: just as you fed in bits of Macbeth into Banquo’s Son, you can do this with Bloodlines – but, look forward not back.

Aren’t they clever? Aren’t I lucky?
They are absoultley right.

Years ago, I wrote a 'sequel' to my first novel but you didn't need that to read the first book to appreciate the next one. The story and the character telling the story was strong enough to not depend on anything that went before.

I get what all are saying: Fleance has moved onto another period in his life. What happens in this book is a 'story' of it's own. I should not treat it as an extension to the first book.

All good. I have the two books mapped out but I understand that, for each, there are separate stories to be told.

I look forward to reshaping what I've already done and going forward.

On another note: Book launches for Banquo's Son are booked for Dunedin (Thursday, Sept 24th) and Auckland (Saturday,10th of October)

More soon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jessica's review of Banquo's Son

I loved Banquo's Son because it had everything I look for in a novel: love, hot guys, battles and pretty girls who the guys fall in love with. My favourite thing about the book was the adorable accents, which, while reading it, I could literally hear. The book was so captivating. I couldn't put it down and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for what would happen next.

Jessica is a Y10 student at Columba College. She is 14 years old.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My prayers have been answered and I have enjoyed a day playing in the snow and sitting in front of the fire reading and writing and eating. This is one of my two dogs, Jackson, who is very happy to pose for the photo. The other dog is Bella.
This is my eldest (left) and her French exchange student (right) in our front garden just before we head off down the valley, picking up friends on the way and congregating at Krusty Korner for a hot chocolate.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm so lucky

I get to hang out with my reading audience. So, it's period one Monday. On Friday afternoon, I'd given Banquo's Son to a newbie (you are a newbie if you have or were not a) in one of my classes last year when the story came to me and then suffered as I enthused about the story b) not a babe (as in The Babes not being a babe cos you're good looking) or c) not yet read the story in 2009.

So, two newbies in the computer room next door to my classroom. I go in to collect from the printer a senior student's essay and this is what transpires:
'I read it! I finished it! Oh my god - it was fantastic and you are so mean. Can I have the next bit?' This, Chloe.

'Cool,' I say. 'And, not yet because I wrote up large over the weekend. I'll get back to you.'

Laura swivels on her chair.'Should I give Chloe the chapters you gave me?'

I shake my head. 'No, I've written more and changed a lot.'

I collect Hayley's essay and, as I go past, tap Jess on the shoulder. (Jess, whose uncle I had a crush on when I was a 14 year old - another time and another city but such is the small state of our country. Oh, and said uncle was 15 and not yet an uncle so there's no icky stuff going on). 'Have you finished?' I ask.
She grins. 'No, but I'm 3/4 of the way through. It is sooo cool!'
'Are you at the battle?' I ask (wanting to know if she's yet to cry)
'Not yet but they're about to go.' She grins. 'It's so good. I love it.'

The emotive responses are great for this writer's fragile ego. But, such is the nature of teenagers, I do know there's a bit of: oh, my English teacher is a writer. Therefore, it's a bit of an investment for them compared to the average (hah) Joanne Blogs author.

So,I'm juggling a bit: blooding the newbies with the first book and fighting off the seasoned readers with the SFD chapters of Bloodlines.

Apparently, it is about to snow heavily which means a snow day (read: day off school).Fingers crossed peoples cos I want a day to sit in front of the fire with dogs, teenagers, telly and my lap top. I can't wait to get back to 11th Century Scotland and those damn rebels.

On another note. Here has been my day:

6am alarm - damn! Go back to sleep.
6:05am wake cos bloddy cat wants in.
6:10am wake again cos other bloddy cat wants in.
7am- get up. Shower. Check emails while I boil the jug. Make lunches. Read the paper. Shower. Get dressed. Put makeup on (needed!). Oh, and in between, this: time to get up! Get up! We're running late! Get going.

Comfort youngest because eldest is taking toooo long to get ready.

8:15 am go out to car. Damn. Windscreen iced over. Deal with it.
8:20 am all teens in the car.Phew. Skies look meanacing.

8:30 assembly. Beautiful music from gifted girls.
Teach all day and enjoy such things as mentioned above.

4:00pm Home. Decide on vege soup for tea. Feed afternoon snacks to two daughters and French exchange student. Begin dinner.
5:00pm go to friend's house to feed cat. Note - Burmese cats are not easily shrugged off.
5:20pm Finally get free from the cat. Go to supermarket to buy panadol and other drugs for swine flu temps. Buy missing ingredients for dinner (including wine)
5:45pm arrive home and continue with soup.
In between check email and try to post on the blog.
6:03pm Tidy pantry.

I am hoping, before exhaustion sets in, I might write some more. Or, and please, please God, it will snow and we will have a day off.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I had a moment of panic...

....when, this morning, at 6am (note to self: turn off alarm in the weekends) I was thinking about my boy (Fleance) and, for the life of me, I couldn't remember the order of events for the ending of Banquo's Son. So engrossed am I at present with book two, I had forgotten and so got up (note to self: put wooly socks and jersey on BEFORE going into the living room) and checked the final ms. Okay. All good.

On another note, though I think the cover is striking, I don't look too closely at the image on the front because no one has ever been able to really capture the deliciousness of Fleance. I guess it's more about what he does, thinks and says than his looks.

Another question: how do I maintain your interest for the next 12 weeks while we wait for the book to turn up on the bookshelves?

Anyway, I'm grateful hubby has used up our 'allocation' of downloads because things are exceedingly slow. This means I have to write cos surfing takes too long.

Back to the castle (where Henry has a very interest thesis as to why there are random attacks on villages all over Scotland).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

a wee present from the publisher

In the mail yesterday was a poster from the marketing department - it is advertising Banquo's Son. It looks great. This morning, I put it up in the corridor at school and was delighted when I heard lots of squealing from the girls as they came in from assembly. Those who have read the books are beaming and those who know nothing about it are asking lots of questions. When can I read a copy? is now a common request. Each step in the process of publication is exciting but it's still hard waiting. Publication date is set for 28th of September and, as I'm up in Auckland for a literature festival on the 11th of October, I thought I might have the Auckland launch on the 10th.

However, I want to have a special launch here in Dunedin with the babes.

Still no news from NYC - sigh!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Being mean to your characters

My good friend Jeannie sent me an email to say that I was in the Sunday Star Times. The note about Writers House was tacked on to the end of an article about Nalini Singh a NZ writer I'd not heard off before. She writes romance fiction which isn't my cup of tea but she's doing really well - go her. I had a look around her website and came across her thoughts about being mean to characters. Take a look here because it's excellent advice. I particularly like the comments about internal conflict as that's what I'm writing about with Fleance at the moment. His struggles to cope with the huge changes in his circumstances as well as the massive responsibilities which weigh on his shoulders. I'm being deliberating vague because, though many of you know what happens at the end of Banquo's Son, I'm not letting the cat out of the bag.