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.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Are the age of characters really an issue?

Interesting things I'm hearing from New York responses to Banquo's Son: some have expressed concern that Duncan and Fleance are too old for the YA market (being, of course, the eldery age of 21. One house has alreay passed the opportunity to read the manuscript with the explanation that "... no matter how well the novel reads, it just won’t work for us if he is that old and adult things happen to him."


Personally, I can't see the problem. He's a young man and he will age 10 years over the course of the trilogy but Keavy and Bree will also become teenagers during this time and be important players as well.

Here in New Zealand, The 10PM Question,a novel aimed at YA with a 12 year old main character won not only the award for YA but for the whole lot and has just been selected for our national book awards (not children).Read what Mary Mcullum has to say about this here

It always amuses me what people think teenagers will read esp if they aren't around teenagers. The girls in my class (and my own children) read books with young protagonists and adult - it's the story and the characters they care about.

I told my editor and agent about the conversation between Nicola and Angela from my Y9 English class - these 13 year olds are looking forward to reading what I've written of Bloodlines.

Anyway, I'd be interested, girls, if you posted your comments about what you think about the age of characters so that those NYC houses hear it from the 'horse's mouth' so to speak - not that I'm saying you are nags.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

updating the blog

This is not an excuse and, I'm really glad to have this blog. But, I guess, all those months ago it was for Mum and my friends and the babes to keep them up to play with the progress of Banquo's Son. What do you do then, when the book is, um actually finished and the author is awaiting the final product? What do you do when said book is now doing the rounds of New York publishing houses and the author turns on her phone at 3am in the hope there's an encouraging email from her agent?

You go: get a life Tania and damn well keep writing cos we want to know what happens next!

This blog was started as a playground for Banquo's Son. When we did create it, I didn't know that my concept would turn into a trilogy.

However, I do enjoy knowing people from all over pop by and I'm happy to say that Jessica Napper (Y13 at Columba College) is creating my very own website in anticipation that this concept will go global.

As to the rest? My life consists of: Anytime between 4 and 5 am: getting up and letting the two cats out. Turning on the jug while I start up my computer; having a cup of tea while I check out blogs and respond to emails. Then, I make the lunches for my two children. Then I put on a load of washing (or unstack the dishwasher or any other domestic chore you can think of).

At 7am EXACTLY, I collect the newspaper (we are the last street to be delivered - torture!) and I pour myself another cup of tea, wake the children (yeah right) and read the paper, do the code cracker and attempt the Sudoku but only if it's medium or hard (hey, I have standards!)

At 7;30, I yell at all - get out of bed. And, often, I go get the dogs up and leave them to their sniffing and woofing while I continue to bang on the shower door: it's been 20 minutes!!!

Hopefully, by 8am, I'm dressed, the other two are dressed, and all things necessary for a successful school day is in place (Tui ad here peoples).

All who are wiser and more experienced than me say – this too shall pass.

I say. Praise the lord and can those houses in NYC make me an offer that will pay for kids’ education – please.