Post Script: Phantom Instinct – Meg Gardiner

For lovers of the fast paced story with breakneck action where you hang your disbelief on the hook at the door before you purchase your ticket for this rollercoaster ride.

Phantom Instinct

A Novel

Meg Gardiner

Penguin Books Australia

Penguin

ISBN: 9781405918817

 

Description:

When shots ring out in a crowded L.A. club, bartender Harper Flynn watches helplessly as her boyfriend, Drew, is gunned down in the cross fire. Then somebody throws a Molotov cocktail, and the club is quickly engulfed in flames. L.A. Sheriff Deputy Aiden Garrison sees a gunman in a hoodie and gas mask taking aim at Harper, but before he can help her a wall collapses, bringing the building down and badly injuring him.

 

A year later, Harper is trying to rebuild her life. She has quit her job and gone back to college. Meanwhile, the investigation into the shoot-out has been closed. The two gunmen were killed when the building collapsed.

 

Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting the survivors, Harper enlists the help of Aiden Garrison, the only person willing to listen. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered has cut his career short and left him with Fregoli syndrome, a rare type of face blindness that causes the delusion that random people are actually a single person changing disguises.

 

As Harper and Aiden delve into the case, Harper realizes that her presence during the attack was no coincidence—and that her only ally is unstable, mistrustful of her, and seeing the same enemy everywhere he looks.

My View:

This is a novel that grips from the first page to the last. I don’t think I have ever come across so much action, corruption, deceit, manipulation and tension in one novel before; the pages are coated in the sticky membranes of fear and anticipation; nowhere is safe.

And so begins this narrative, the pace relentless, there is no stopping for breath.

 

I think the strength of the novel is in the empathetic lead characters, the riotous pace and the potential for elements of this thriller to actually occur – we are all concerned about electronic media and privacy issues, identity theft, manipulation of electronic records, being tracked and traced by our ordinary everyday actions that leave an electronic footprint…and the good old basic understanding and loathing of bullies and being bullied; there are elements in this novel that we can all relate to and that is what work so well in this narrative – we can all appreciate some of the elements in it and if we suspend our disbelief that one person can attract so many negative incidents and just read without analysing you are in for a treat; a story that explodes on the page with a hint of romance and redemption for past actions.

 

Post Script – Being Jade – Kate Belle

This is the perfect book club read – elegantly written, contemporary issues including the universal question about how do we define love and the perimeters of that love.

Being Jade

Being Jade

Kate Belle

Simon& Schuster

A CBS Company

ISBN: 9781925030044

 

 

Description:

 

A tragic death. A family divided. Only truth can set them free.

 

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally walks away from his wife, Jade, after twenty-five years of her adultery. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, and in despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

 

Lissy is tortured by the mystery surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? And why won’t Jade talk about what happened? Despite their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to have been enduring, but sensible

 

Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketchbook chronicling Jade’s affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

 

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers. And watching from afar, Banjo aches as he discovers what these men meant to Jade – until Lissy’s quest reveals an explosive truth …

 

One that will finally set their family free.

 

 

My View:

This is such an eloquent, sensual and visually stunning read…Kate Belle where is the art to go with the book? You described the works so passionately and richly I could see the images in my own minds eye – this is a joy to experience. Kate Belle plays the devil’s advocate in this novel when she creates our protagonist, Jade, who leads an unconventional life, has unconventional relationships, creates unconventional art and challenges the role of and image of women in modern society. This novel is rich with ideas and provides so many challenges to the stereotypical notion of contemporary woman that it is sure to bring fervour and excitement to any book reading community.

 

I think the most thought provoking question presented in this narrative is about the capacity to love and to love more than one person at a time, a behaviour taboo in most of today’s modern world. If I love you does that diminish or enhance my ability to love others and should we put restrictions on our capacity to love? What a great debate to be had here!

 

A fantastic read on so many levels; complex, engaging, intriguing, mesmerising. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Conversation With Anna George

 An Interview With Anna George.

George, Anna credit Say Heidi Photography (cropped)

 Image  – Say Heidi Photography.

Hi Anna

Loved, loved, loved your book!

What Came Before Cover

Can you tell me a bit about how the book came about, the inspiration for it?

 

Hi Carol

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm for the book and for inviting me onto your blog.

I was inspired to write the book after reading a news article about a woman who’d been murdered  by her boyfriend. She was quoted as having said of her boyfriend that he’d been changing, no one  understood him as she had, and he wasn’t so bad. Reading those words I’d been shocked as I’d said  similar things myself about a previous partner with whom I’d had an unhappy and volatile  relationship. I did some research and realised what I’d experienced was emotional abuse.  And  emotional abuse in most cases precedes physical abuse and always accompanies it. So what I’d  gone through was on the same continuum of abuse as what this woman had endured. It made me wonder how much further along that continuum had been the violence she’d suffered. At the same time I read others in the media questioning why women stayed with abusive men. I began exploring those questions and that story, using my own experience as a spring board into it. As I wrote the book, I found the story moved far away from my own and became a richer, cautionary tale.

 

I note you have a screen writing background, how does this affect your writing process? Do you plan out all the important events, or just write and see where it takes you? Do you write a “bible”, or something similar to what is commonly used in screenwriting for profiling and establishing the identity of your characters?

 

Studying screenwriting and working on a couple of film scripts really helped my prose writing. So much of screenwriting is about structure and I learned to apply those principles to the craft of novel writing. I read a lot about screenwriting and found many more books on it than I had when I was first studying novel writing.

 

I do plan my stories and important events but I also write and see where the story takes me. It’s a flexible process. When I’m working through a draft, I go back and apply what I’ve gleaned from script writing; for example, how can I make this scene more dramatic? Are the voices sufficiently distinct? Where are my turning points?!  I don’t write a ‘bible’ as such for my characters but I do write endless, more casual notes about my characters, which I am constantly adding to and revising.

 

I think you have great insight of the nuances of domestic violence,  how did you research this aspect of the book?

 

I read everything I could about domestic violence and in particular emotional abuse – from Australian government reports and domestic violence resource centre literature to text books, pop-psychology books and first person accounts. I also spoke with people, mainly friends and acquaintances, about their experiences with abusive partners. And, as I’ve said, I’ve had that experience myself.

 

Can you tell me something about your road to being published; how did you get the attention of publishers? How do you transition from screen writing to novel writing? Have we seen any of your work on the big or small screen? I think your writing is very visual and I can see this novel could easily be pitched as the basis for a feature film.

 

I began the book in 2002, wrote it for a few years then put it away to take stock and reproduce etc. I went back to it in 2008 and retained about ten% of that original draft. In 2011, I finished a draft and decided it was time to send it to publishers. I sent it to two, including Penguin. I received a standard pass from the other publisher but Penguin came back with a pass, coupled with encouragement and even some praise! They offered to reread the book if I rewrote it. Throughout 2012, I rewrote it and sent it off again. I also sent it to two other publishers. And then I got lucky. They all liked it and two of them, including Penguin, made me an offer. The book went through an auction process and I was torn. I ultimately chose to go with Penguin – because I was very grateful to them for having identified that the book had something in the first place.

I actually began studying Professional Writing and Editing, twenty years ago, and wrote prose. I studied first at Holmesglen TAFE in Melbourne and then at RMIT TAFE. While at RMIT, I dallied with screenwriting. But prose writing is my first love and I much prefer it. As a screenwriter, I was funded to write two feature film scripts. The script writing process can take years and many drafts and I ran out of stamina. One of the scripts was commissioned and the other was my own; but I didn’t feel attached enough to either of them to keep at it. I’m glad of that time though, as it has definitely helped my novel writing. And it absolutely crystallised my desire to write a novel and do my best to get it published.

 

Limerence is such a wonderfully encompassing word for all those feelings of romantic attraction and the desire to have those feelings reciprocated at any expense – a giddy emotional time  – I love how you wove this meaning into the book via the film being made by the protagonist, it is so poignant and so accurate a description of the relationship between David and Elle – did you have intend to discuss this emotion when you started writing What Came Before?

 

I stumbled across limerence when I was researching for the book – and as I was writing it!  I wanted Elle to be staying with David because she believed she loved him and that he loved her, and what they had was rare and would improve – despite increasing evidence to the contrary. When I discovered limerence it seemed to fit perfectly to explain Elle’s almost delusional perception of their relationship. It was an ‘Ah ha!’ moment for me. I found Dorothy Tennov’s book Love and Limerence fascinating. Tennov identified limerence as being an involuntary and often irrational state fuelled by uncertainty and imbalance. Limerence gave me another lens through which to look at my characters’ relationship.

 

Did you intend for this novel to be a vehicle to explore, start a dialogue about domestic violence?

 

Yes. Part of the motivation for writing the book was to shed more light on domestic violence and, in particular, on emotional abuse. A dialogue about domestic violence is well underway in Australia today and I hope my book can be in the mix. The more we talk about these issues the better, and perhaps the safer we will be.

 

What sort of novel are you writing now and when can we expect to see it in the bookstores?

My next novel is also a psychological thriller; it’s set on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, today. It is also framed around a crime and is concerned with class, parenting and judgement. But it’s early days so I can’t tell you too much more about it!  It could be in bookstores by late 2015 or early 2016!

 

 

Again congratulations on writing such a touching and intense novel.

Carol

 

 

A Question To All Who Read or Write Or Review Books And To All Book Bloggers

Do you think/know if reviewing a novel and posting that review on social media such as a blog or Facebook or the publishers website  etc has any impact on how well a novel is received or how well it sells?  I am really keen to hear your views. Are you influenced by online reviews? Why do you blog?

 

 

 

Post Script: Lost & Found – Brooke Davis

Tantalisingly honest and thought provoking. The voice of Just Millie is enchanting and engaging and will break and then mend your heart. 

Lost & Found

Brooke Davis

Hachette Australia

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632754

Description:

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house – or spoken to another human being – since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.

A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life.

 

My View:

What an incredible debut novel – this narrative is sad, sweet, funny, enchanting, engaging and tackles life’s big questions without fear, with honesty and store mannequin called Manny! The main characters in this story share so much about what makes them human – warts, strengths, wrinkles and all. In this book we discover that old age is not the same as death… that we are all going to die one day…why don’t we talk openly and honestly about the future, about life and death and how we cope with loss– these experiences are inevitable and will affect those around us and ourselves of course, one day…and yet these events/experiences are so much a mystery, a taboo, we could all do with a little Just Millie aka Captain Funeral inside us prompting us to ask the awkward or uncomfortable, seeking honesty not platitudes.

 

I loved this narrative. I loved the main characters; gum booted Just Millie, Agatha Pantha and Karl the Typist, such fun and outrageous personalities, I loved reading their coming of age stories.  The voice of Just Millie charmed and engaged me and made me shed a tear. This author writes with such wonderful insights, this is a charm to read.