Saturday, July 24, 2010

There must be a kind of, Houston, we have a problem... and then you make it worse for everyone

As per my comments about the changes in some of the key details I'd intended to use as a backdrop for Birthright actually no longer working, I've stumbled across a massive conflict for our boy. OMG. Even my eldest and her boyfriend were excited (and neither of them have read the first book even though they say they've lived the whole story - believe me, they are probably right and so I can forgive them - but they are both very passionate about the characters.

The idea came to me minutes before we had to leave for the movies but it's doing this manic mutation in my brain and I think it might...actually if would be feckn amazing if it WORKED. SQUEEEEEE

Have called for a meeting of my trusty students (aka The Babes). They will tell me if I'm on to a good thing or not.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reviews of Banquo's Son

I have been requested to provide some reviews of Banquo’s Son. Below are exacts from the many reviews I’ve received since the book was published. I have NOT included the bits where the reviewer has summarized the story, comment on their own knowledge of Shakespeare or how the book came to be. I’ve just selected the comments which relate directly to the quality of the story. I have NOT removed anything negative. I haven’t included any online reviews cos, if you are keen, you can google them. *grin*

the LIANZA judges' report for the 2010 Children's Book Awards:

At a times when Shakespeare is in danger of disappearing from our school curriculum, Banquo's Son can be credited with doing more to keep his books alive than many other efforts to do so.

Tania Roxborogh takes us through historic Scotland and her story picks up where Macbeth left off. The judges were pleasantly surprised at how readable this historic work proved to be. While it introduced new characters, there were some recognisable ones - it was like coming across an old friend when characters from Macbeth appeared. Tania can be commended on her attention to historic detail and adventurous writing.
“…I do not really enjoy Shakespeare for many reasons but this is not like Shakespeare…This book is really good. Sure at times I was confused as to what they were saying but I got the drift after a while, Once I started reading it was hard to stop. The characters are loveable and believable. This story seems so well thought out that I even forgot it was based on Shakespeare. When it ended, I wished it was longer so that I could read more. It was amazing. I have never before been so close to tears while reading a book. Banquo’s Son should definitely be introduced into the Shakespearian section of the school curriculum. What can I say? It’s one of the best books I’ve read.” Annie Hawker, Tearaway magazine, October 2009.

“…This novel draws readers in from the first page and will have readers eagerly awaiting the second instalment.” Stephen Clark, editor, Tomorrow’s Schools Today

“While Roxborogh, a high school English teacher, has made an effort to give the book a ‘Shakespearean’ feel names like Flea, Keavy, Rosie and Rachel, sound more appropriate in New Zealand high schools than in seventeenth –century England. The novel doesn’t uncover much regarding either Scotland or Shakespeare’s stories. Instead, the main focus is the teenage love story, and Flea’s struggles with grief over his father’s death. But perhaps this is irrelevant. Roxborogh is an author who understands her readers well, and her readers will feel completely comfortable throughout the whole sotry. While it may not help teenagers understand the finer details of Shakespeare’s work, at least Roxborogh is giving her students and other teenagers throughout the country literature that will captivate them and encourage them to read.” Sarah Gumbly, NZ Lawyer, October 2009.

“…It’s a great read – fast paced with real characters and plenty of action. It’s good to know the second book isn’t too far away…” Ingrid Tiriana, feature for Associated Press, National, April 2010

“Tania Roxborogh has excelled herself with this ambitious and absorbing tale…and has woven a fascinating story of love and honour set in 11th century Scotland…This crossover novel should be enjoyed by older teenagers and adults who like a gripping historical novel.” Maria Gill, Feb 2010

‘Thereafter followed regular meetings with eight of the 15 year-old- girls as the manuscript unfolded; the students provided feedback on the story and influenced Ms Roxborogh’s storytelling. It is this influence, perhaps, that makes it a books most suitable for this age group. The media release notes that ‘top literary agency’ has picked up this book and its agent Josh Getzler is quoted raving about, it… which perhaps raised my expectations too high – consequently, I was disappointed. But persistence paid off and the second half of the story began to gel and make more sense. The story tightened up, the writing seemed to mature and the behaviour of the characters become more believable than the first chapters, making it much more enjoyable to read in the end.” Vicki Price, Daily News, Jan 2010

"...I enjoyed the twists and turns in the tale, mildly distracted by occasional typos. There’s been some debate about whether the book is aimed at the adult or YA market but really it’s a good read for anyone with an appetite for a historical tale." Chrissi Blair, The School Library, Summer 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

What teenagers like reading...

I review YA books for the Otago Daily Times. Lots of books come into their office. Today, I brought a box of books into school for my Y12s (16/17 year olds) to choose one book to review for the paper (a fantastic initiative). There were lots of books with vampires, demons, ghosts, angels and the supernatural. There were a few contempory novels (I nabbed two) and a number of historical and/or fastasy books.

After an excited scuffle, the dust settled. What was left: every single one of the novels with vampires, demons, angels, yaddie yaddie yaddie. They didn't want a bar of it.

Damn, now, if I have time, I'll have to feckn read them - so don't want to.

The lesson: silly publishers thinking to ride on the coat tails of Harry Potter and the Twightlight series. Kids and teens bore quickly and if the story ain't well written then they don't care.

Also, I put up a poster for Bloodlines and my classroom was swamped with kids wanting to know when they could get their hands of the next installment.

Yeah. I never did care for trends. I just write what I like and what I know my audience loves to read.

*Tania thrusts her hand high in the air*

Are you paying attention?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's so HARD!

So, I pretty much am excited about Birthright. (Yeah, sorry, I know - you haven't got to Bloodlines yet but I have to move on!). And, I KNOW the story and what happens and I'm feeling the anticipation butbutbut. Starting. Hm. Watched State of Play with off-spring's buddies last night and kept saying to one (who is in my writing group) "See, Anna. That's how you start a story. Straight into it."

Wish I could follow my own advice.

I'm also coming to the realisation that someone who we trust and love actually turns out to be bad. Nooooooooo (in the book, I mean, not real life!)

Why can't my characters behave?

And I hate it when people die. In real life as well as in my book. Sniff.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The ever changing nature of an epic historical trilogy

When I first realised Banquo's Son was going to turn into a trilogy, I thought I had figured out what was going to happen in Book Two (Bloodlines) and Book Three (Birthright). Well, now that Bloodlines is done and dusted and winging its way to the printers as I write, I have to re-think some things because the external plot line of Birthright has shifted.

I had anticipated that book three would have the Battle of Hastings (1066) as its backdrop and so ensured that we came to know some of the key players in that event in Bloodlines. I read a lot of stuff and did a lot of research.

However, something else crept into Bloodlines that I hadn't seen coming so now I am painting a different backdrop to the story which is all good.

I'm working on the synopsis now, fine tuning, thinking, listening to Fleance and Rachel and Rosie and a couple of new characters you'll get to meet soon.

At least I know how it ends - happily. Well, that's my intention but you never know what life (and fiction) throws up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's been one of those 'Excuse me but are you...' days

Dining room of the hotel. Teacher I met the day before: 'Looked at your display for your book. Most interesting.' Cue a few moments of me waxing lyrical about how hard it is to please everyone.

'Excuse me? Are you Tania Roxborogh?' This from one of the diners.

'Oh, I'm [...] and thanks for your input on the forum.'
'Thanks,' I say genuinely pleased because I have enjoyed a few backwards and forwards from this gentle woman from Kaikora.

Fast forward to morning tea at the conference.

'Hey, Tania.'
'Hey,' I say putting my tea cup down and staring at this stranger.
'Loved what you said this morning and my students love your books and I loved Banquo.'
'Thank you,' I say noting that my latest has been truncated so.

Lunch time. Just heard disappointing news and very frustrated. Sitting on the steps of the dining hall. An older man than myself makes his way to me and dips his head. 'Hello, Tania,' he says in a lilting Scottish accent.


He clears his throat.'I've just finished reading Banquo's Son and I liked it. Found it a struggle at the start what with me being Scottish and all...'

Another coversation.

And so it went on - all through the day and into the evening. English teachers getting wind of who I was and coming up and laying upon me some pretty cool feed back.

Did you know (and I didn't!!) that Banquo's Son was a class set for some schools. How cool is that?

But, it's been a long term and a long week and a long day.

I'm about to switch off computer and lights and climb into bed.

Night night

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Could Cry about the day

So. I had it all organised: the washing, the notes, the stationery. Everything needed to enjoy the conference and ensure that I will be able to: a)read through the 2nd proofs for More English Basics, b) construct a great display for the trilogy, c) have a great, stressless time.

Yeah, Right.

First, I missed my plane. Surely though, when I told the taxi controller that my flight was at 2:50 she should have booked the cab for 1:30 not 2:30?

Never mind. Koru membership has its advantages and I was transferred to a later flight.

But, when I got the school, only the cleaners were there and my requested display needs were no where to be seen. Feck!

Oh, and then I realised I'd left on the plane all the pretty paper for the display. At the time of this post, the airline has not found the very obvious grey cylinder above 5B where I was sitting!

Then, I get to the hotel which I'd stayed at before. I had specifically!!!! asked not to be on a room beside the road - cos the road is, like the MAIN road!!!

I was put in a lovely room which faces the main road. ARRGHHH. But, and this is why I continue to stay at The Windsor Hotel, Amargh street in Christchurch. At 9:30 pm I was found a quiet room - no fuss, much sorries and much smiles. I love this place!!

Then I discovered I'd brought the brown envelop which I'd thought contained the proofs for More English Basics only to discover it was an old envelope of the final proofs of Banquo's Son. That's was, like, so last year. Sigh! No chance of doing any proper work on the night before conference, eh?

So, though I cannot work on the third proofs nor the display, I am happy to be here even though I miss my husband and doggies back in Dunedin, my eldest in Powell River, Canada and my youngest over the Port Hills, in Akaroa.

Me, this is too much for one day. I'm off to bed. The writing will happen later.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting into the groove for Book Three: Birthright

Read One day by David Nicholls - lost sleep. Tears. Writing time. House work time.

Watched Autumn Rush.

Lost time, tears and writing time

Off to English Conference tomorrow worried if my hands-on presentation will be of interest but also how to handle Flea's broken heart.

Wahhh. Think: Tess of the d'ubervilles. Think: Romeo and Juliet. Think; Wuthering Heights BUT BUT BUT I want a happy ending for my storing. Wahhhhh

Friday, July 2, 2010

Okay - I'm back again. Couldn't resist

Have been doing a lot thinking about this writing business. And, appreciating people like Maureen Crisp who trawls though cyberspace to bring us wonderful tidbits (many I pass onto my writing group).

I have been thinking about how hard it is being a writer. Oh, no: not the starving on the street writer. My accountant is well pleased with my royalty income this past financial year - it is way above the average NZ wage. (but, unlike some dodgy financial gurus, I'm not swanning it on a pacific island - my dosh got spent very quickly with the demands of a bad year filled with many 'raining days').

See, it's hard because, not only do we have to write the damn books, we have to market them, promote them, put lots of energies into getting our face and our work out there. Publishing houses have only so much time and money.

The wonderfully talented goddess who also writes great crime novels, Vanda Symon, is, I am very proud to say, a very dear friend. Last night, we were chewing the cud about the above. (it was because we've both finished! the latest project) Vanda is tireless (as am I, people might say) and generous. We both do it as do many many NZ writers, because we want to and want to make the world smile and laugh and cry and sigh and be a better place.

The reason I've been thinking about all of this is because I'm putting together a visual display of the journey of the trilogy for next weeks NZATE English conference in Christchurch. I offered the idea because I thought English teachers might find it a little bit interesting to see what goes into the development of what I'm doing. From that very first email sent to the most wonderful Vicki Marsdon of Penguin (sent in a bit of grump cos she's said no to something else) to choosing the covers (another bone of contention) to the piles and piles of research documents I went through.

Of course, it's all been happily ever after material: short listed for the NZ Post Childrens Book Awards and now the LIANZA, on the best sellers lists, me scooped up by a NYC literary agent.... and I'm not complaining. Just saying, any reward is hard earned. Very hard earned.