Saturday, May 22, 2010

The NZ Post Children's Book Awards

It was a wonderful occasion.

Go here to read Fifi Colston's account

Congratualations to the winners and especially to Kyle and Rachel

Below is theJudges’ Comments on Banquo's Son: great praise indeed:

When Banquo is murdered in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, he calls to his son Fleance to seek revenge. T.K. Roxborogh ensures he does in her cleverly constructed sequel, where vengeance, power struggles, mysteries, love and betrayal all merge tantalisingly into a page-turning blockbuster, the first of a planned trilogy. Her novel interpretation of Banquo’s brief cry to his young son, coupled with the three witches’ prophecy that sons of Banquo would rule Scotland, is the basis for this dramatic answer to the question: What happened to Banquo’s son?

Fleance is a very likeable character – honest, humble, with a strong sense of fair play, but he’s plagued by nightmares of his past and visions of his father’s ghost. Having kept his real identity a secret from the family who have looked after him for 10 years, now that he is 21 he feels he must return to Scotland and discover the answers.

Roxborogh’s book remains faithful to Shakespeare’s play, particularly to the prophecy, which she cleverly twists into her own plot and reveals in a brilliant climax. She uses contemporary language in the text, which will appeal to young adult readers, but her characters’ direct speech is Elizabethan English has Shakespeare wrote. The scene is well set, giving the reader a fascinating view of Scottish court life as well as learning how poor people fared, making this novel especially useful for students studying Macbeth.

The striking front cover features a handsome, brooding young man who will appeal particularly to young women (and older ones!). The addition of a map and family trees are very helpful in navigation these treacherous Highlands.

Editing is like house work.....

How so, you ask? glad you did.

Firstly, I love a clean kitchen. I like a clear bench. I like my pantry organsied and I despise finding old, rotting food in my refrigerator. Why people put the almost empty milk bottle back in there, I do not understand.

In the house we built in Auckland, I have a wonderfully large kitchen. It is my dream kitchen. Here, in Dunedin, our house is over 100 years old and the kitchen has little storage or bench area. Before I begin cooking, I need my kitchen cleaned and all the ingredients to hand.

I like vacuuming. I have a new machine and I love how it scoops up all the dust and fur from the dogs.

I hate cleaning the shower, the toilets, the bathrooms, dusting, folding washing, mowing the lawns, weeding, making the bed, tidying my room but my bookshelves are in perfect alphabetical order.

I'm a clean and neat freak and I hate mess and I feel so much better when my house is clean (usually because of the hubby - bless him!)

I don't have a house cleaner - have had in the past but I figure if I've got two able bodied teenagers, I can pass on some of the work. Thankfully, they hate unstacking the dishwasher and keeping the kitchen clean.

Now, applying the above to editing....

The kitchen, for me, is the engine room. It's the main part of family life. Where I write and the environs are essential for me to get stuck into the hard bitzy work of editing: I need to have dealt with all the small stuff (emails, blogs, facebook *grin*) and I need to have all my books and notes and printouts to hand. I am distracted if I don't start with a 'clean bench'. The business of keeping the kitchen up to scratch (and the cupboards filled with food) is my job – just as the actual task of making the story be the best, is my responsibility. I think I’m good at both.

However, I'm not methodical when it comes to the cleaning up of my manuscript. I might come across a tricky question by the editor. One that requires a bit of thought and maybe some research. I tend to leave those bits and go looking for edits I know I will enjoy fixing.

Then there are the annoying overwritten parts (like dusting, the weeds in my garden and the lawns which always need mowing). I HATE that part of the editing process. It's like, you get through the entire manuscript and come back to the start and you find more to do - more words which clang; more typos (how did you miss those?); more continuity problems.

However, I do have a great agent, a great publisher (with her keen team) and a couple of readers who pick away at the parts I miss. Although, with this latest feedback, it felt like Josh, Vicki and Kate had gone around my house with white gloves on and came back to me with filthy evidence of my poor skills.

They were impressed with my kitchen, but.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bloodlines - the cover and a summary

Fleance, the newly crowned king of Scotland, is given little opportunity to enjoy peace after his coronation: a princess is captured, the rebels are causing trouble all too soon and he has to quickly find his feet in his new role while the curse of witchcraft, sedition and gossip cast doubt over the security of his position as king.

And, dealing with their own personal struggles against the brutality of a world controlled by men, the two key women in his life force Fleance toward actions which may just bring down the fragile political state of the country.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An exhausted touring author comes home

Well. Touring. Even to one city. Only an hour's flight from home. Still. It is exhausting: talking, smiling, signing, chatting, trying to impart some wisdom to the keen bunnies who truck on up to see you.

Then there are the teachers and the librarians. Shout out to Bronwyn, Kathleen, Claire, Paula, Kathy, Jude, Johnann, Nicola and the others whose names I forget (they are tucked away in my suitcase still) but whose faces and smiles I remember warmly.

Shout out to: Lincoln High, Hornby, Riccarton and Upper Riccarton, St Thomases, St Bedes, Avonside Girls, Linwood High, Linwood Intermediate, Rangi Ruru, St Bedes, Patea and Burnside.

Thanks for turning up and asking all those great questions. Thanks for putting up with me being teacher sometimes (you know who you are). Thank you to the lit up faces of those who have loved Banquo's Son and are passionate about the story. You made my day.

I stayed at the Windsor Hotel. The NZ Book Council arranged this. How did they know? This was the Hotel my husband and I spent the first few days of our honeymoon. I cannot recommend this place enough. It's a bed and breakfast. It's warm. The beds are great and so are the showers. This should be your first stop in Christchurch.

Tomorrow I'm back to school (missed you girls!!) but I have no voice and I'm knackered. Next week it's up to Auckland for the awards ceremony. During this tour, being in the company of librarians and booksellers, I've been exposed to some very strong opinions. (word to the wise: never cross a librarian - they are so knowledgeable)

‘Why do you do it?’ asked an astute young man.

Answer: I am plagued with stories which cram into my head.