Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sue Parritt on Being a Migrant & Her Writing Inspiration @OdysseyBooks #AmReading #Dystopian #Goodreads

at 7:00 AM 0 comments
What inspired me to write my book?

Anger, abhorrence and disbelief motivated me to write Sannah and the Pilgrim. I was and remain appalled by past and present governments’ policy on refugees and asylum seekers. News bulletins and current affairs programmes helped fuel my deep concerns about the direction our country is heading. From a country that welcomed scores of displaced people after the Second World War, we are becoming xenophobic, rejecting those that have fled what for most of us are inconceivable terrors. As a migrant myself, I tried to imagine how I would have felt, if instead of paying my ten pounds and travelling here on an ocean liner, I had been forced to flee my homeland, hand over my life’s savings to greedy people smugglers and risk my life by boarding a leaky overcrowded boat.

My thoughts then turned to a different category of refugees, those we can expect in the not so distant future. Low-lying Pacific islands are already under threat from accelerating climate change, about which wealthy first-world countries have so far failed to act. Soon there will be a flood of environmental refugees seeking a safe haven in our sparsely populated and prosperous nation. How will our government react then, when turning back the boats won’t be an option?

I felt my option as a fiction writer was to draw on contemporary government policies regarding refugees and climate change to create a portrait of a future Australia that is, to my mind, entirely possible. The idea to divide the country into zones according to race of origin came from a thinly veiled proposal made by an ultra-conservative politician some years ago. Research into climate change led me to place my characters in the most inhospitable part of twenty-fourth century Australia, the extremely hot, humid and disease-ridden north. Confined to the Brown Zone (formerly Queensland) the people, descendants of Pacific environmental refugees, are forced to cultivate the remaining fertile coastal strip to produce food for White Southerners, whose zone, although more suitable for human habitation, is too arid to support agriculture.

I was inspired to create the role of storyteller for my protagonist, Sannah, by the manner in which information is often distorted by both the media and government in order to provoke certain reactions. For instance, fears of being swamped by refugees are intensified by using terms such as ‘illegals’ and concerns over rising utility costs assuaged by promises to repeal the Carbon Tax. Sannah’s people are kept in ignorance through a steady diet of Tales (a weird blend of historical fact and fiction) delivered by government-trained storytellers. In similar fashion, we are fed only what governments and multinational companies want us to hear and it takes a great deal of effort to uncover the truth. Lies ensure compliance in both twenty-first and twenty-fourth century Australia.

Sue Parritt author pic

About the Author:
Sue Parritt is an Australian writer, originally from England. Her poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, Britain and the USA. After graduating BA University of Queensland 1982 (majors: English Literature, Drama and French), Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to pursue her long-held dream of becoming a professional writer.  Since then she has written Sannah and the Pilgrim, numerous short stories and poems andFeed Thy Enemy, a feature film script set in Naples in 1944 and 1974 and based on a true story (Sue is currently seeking a producer). She recently completed a second novel Safety Zone and is now writing a sequel to Sannah and the Pilgrim  the working title is Pia and the Skyman.

Sannah and the Pilgrim by Sure Parritt

When Sannah the Storyteller, a descendant of environmental refugees from drowned Pacific islands, finds a White stranger on her domestep, she presumes he’s a political prisoner on the run seeking safe passage to egalitarian Aotearoa. However, Kaire’s unusual appearance, bizarre behaviour, and insistence he’s a pilgrim suggest otherwise.

Appalled by apartheid Australia, Kaire uses his White privileges to procure vital information for Sannah and her group of activists regarding new desert prisons that are to be built to house all political prisoners. The group plans sabotage but needs help, and Kaire is a willing accomplice. But when Sannah turns Truthteller and threatens to reveal the country’s true history, even Kaire’s White privilege and advanced technology cannot save Sannah and her daughter from retribution.

About Sannah and the Pilgrim:

Sannah and the Pilgrim is a tale of courage, defiance and deceit that asks the reader, ‘Would you risk death by telling the truth about your country, or would you play it safe and spend your life as a storyteller?’

Are you concerned about our governments’ (both past and present) failure to act on climate change and the detention and inhumane treatment of refugees? I am, so I have drawn on contemporary conservative attitudes to present a dystopian view of a future Australia in my speculative fiction novel Sannah and the Pilgrim. Read it and discover what could happen to our‘lucky’ country.

Friday, December 5, 2014

@MargaretWestlie on Anna Beaton's Murder & Writing Without an Outline #WriteTip #AmWriting #HistFic

at 8:00 AM 0 comments
When I was taking the Masters’ Degree in English at the University of Missouri at Kansas City I was taught the germ theory of writing.  You hear a story or read an article in a magazine and take a word or a phrase from it and create your own story around it.  It need only be a word or two, something that triggers your imagination and sends it off into the wilds of your creative mind.  As long as you take the idea and don’t repeat it word for word you can go where you will with it.  It really is only something to spark your creativity.  You can separate the idea completely from its source once you get going on your project because it will have no relationship to its origin anymore and is probably no longer even recognizable as coming from there.
I get my stories from my elders.  They’re all great story-tellers.  Anna’s Secret is a case in point.  The story is based on the story of Anne Beaton’s hollow where a murder took place 150 years ago that was blamed on an ancestor of mine.  He was subsequently cleared of the deed and left Prince Edward Island.  I took the fact of her murder and fictionalized it by changing her personality, the circumstances surrounding her life and death, and putting in characters who never existed outside of my imagination.  I asked myself questions like:  What if she had been someone entirely different than who she was purported to be?  Who was she really?  Who did she really go to see?  Was it an innocent visit or was it a clandestine affair as everyone thought?  Who really murdered her?  What were the motivations?  Questions of this nature lead to a well fleshed-out novel not based on the original story, which was probably based in truth.  Then I took the original question of who she really was and who I thought she should be and dug and explored all her fictional relationships which eventually led to the denouement.
I have never used an outline.  I tried it once because I was told it was the best way to work but it didn’t work for me.  It kept me too bound by the structure of the outline.  I felt I had to write by the rules when my characters wanted to do something different.  I had to let them be themselves.  They become living people in my mind and you have to let people do whatever it is they need to do.  They talk to me and argue with me and agree with me just like real people.  You can’t be too controlling or your story will become too rigid and awkward.  Let you characters tell the story.  Keep notes as to who is related to whom and when they did a certain thing and anything else you think you might get hazy on as the story moves along.  That way you don’t have to keep going back to look for it, should you need that information again.  So try writing without an outline, you never know where your characters will take you or why they want you to go there.

Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author
 Connect with Margaret Westlie on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Moxie Meets Count Gamel in MOXIE'S PROBLEM by Hank Quense @hanque99 #Excerpt AmReading #SciFi

at 9:30 AM 0 comments
Scene Background:  

Moxie is on her way to meet her betrothed Count Gamel. Three apprentice knights, Percivale, Bore and Gareth are escorting her there. 

Bors rode to the top of a hill and examined a flat, boulder-strewn summit. Beyond the boulders, a grassy knoll butted against a tall outcrop that would shelter them from the wind. Bors rode past the boulders, dismounted on the grass and removed the saddle from his horse, Escrow. He grunted in pleasure as a cool breeze wafted over him.

Percivale, Gareth and Moxie joined him on the knoll and they decided to camp there. Soon, all the mounts were unsaddled, hobbled and grazing nearby.

After tending to his horse, Escrow, Bors studied the boulders. Something about them seemed strange, almost unnatural. The rocks were in lines almost like the beads on his abacus. He ignored Moxie's latest outburst of whining and continued to examine the rocks. Dark gray boulders — dozens of them — covered the area in three lines with exactly twenty rocks in each line. A fourth rank, separate from the other three, contained five rocks.

"How dare you!" Moxie roared.

Bors grabbed his sword hilt and whirled towards the sound of her voice. Moxie stood ten feet away glaring at a boulder in the middle rank.

"What's goin' on?" Percival, also on foot, asked her. Gareth stood near Percivale, looking quizzically at Moxie.

"I'm a princess, you impudent rock. Apologize this instant or I'll break you into rubble."

Bors gawked at her. The memory of a story an old hunter once told him and his father flooded his brain and almost overwhelmed him with the danger they faced. His skin crawled.

Moxie picked up a fist-sized rock.

Bors gasped. Moxie was about to get them all killed.

Moxie bounced the rock off the boulder.

Bors ran to her and grabbed her arm before she could do more damage.

"The stone insulted me." Moxie frowned at Bors as if she suspected his motives.

"Why did you throw the rock?" Percivale asked.

"Moxie just attacked one of the rock-folk," Bors said in a quavering voice.

"I did what?"

"She did what?" Percivale said. "I'm confused."

Bors waved an arm around the boulder collection. "This is a rock-moot. I've heard about them. The rock-folk come together to settle problems and make new laws. And the stone Moxie threw was a rock-baby."

"The big one degraded me." Moxie sniffed and pointed at the boulder. "It made lewd suggestions."

"Rocks can't talk," Gareth said. "Leastwise, not so we can hear them."

"I can hear them. I’m descendent from the Ancient Ones. Royal Ancient Ones, of course. And the Ancient Ones were descended from the fairies.”

"We have to get out of here," Bors said. "Fast."

"Why is the ground shaking?" Moxie looked alarmed. She grabbed Percival's arm to steady herself.

"It's the rock-folk," Bors said. "They're gettin' all worked up over Moxie's attack."

Their mounts whinnied in fear at the trembling ground. They jumped and stamped their hooves and strained at the hobbles until they broke free. The four horses ran down the hill and disappeared into the forest.

A worried Bors said, "We have to get out of here. Let's grab the saddle bags and put some distance between us and the rocks."

A boulder inched closer to Moxie's foot and she shrieked.

Percivale made a face at the sudden pain in his ear from Moxie's reaction, but didn't move, as if frozen in place.

"Someone has to get my horse," Moxie said.

"I ain't goin' through those rocks." Gareth pointed to a group of rocks rolling to form a line between them and the direction the horses went.

"We have to leave." Bors pushed Moxie in the back. "That way."

"Unhand me! And what about dinner? I'm hungry."

"Dinner will be very late tonight, Your Royal Feyness." Bors kept his hand on her back, nudging her away from the builders. He grabbed Moxie's saddle bag and handed it to her, then picked up his own.

"You expect me to carry that?"

Bors dropped her saddle bags. "If you don't carry it, it stays here and gets crushed by the rocks. I'm not carryin' yours, you are."

Bors looked at Percivale who stood without moving, his face drained of color. Bors grabbed an arm and yanked Percivale backward. Percivale blinked and gave Bors a strange look. "Come on, Perc," Bors yelled. "Snap out of it and let's get goin'."

Percivale picked up his saddlebags and trotted away from the boulders.

A few minutes later, they descended the hill.

"Moxie, look out!" Gareth yelled.

Bors turned and saw a boulder thundering down the hill. A bow wave of dirt sprayed out on both sides of its path.

Gareth dropped his saddle bags and pushed Moxie out of the way. Both landed in a heap a moment before the boulder sped past them.

"Get off me, you blundering lummox."

Gareth picked himself up and pointed to the boulder now at the bottom of the hill and rapidly losing speed. "Must have been sentry." He went over to his saddle bags, partially crushed by the boulder.

"Are these rocks stupid or something?" Moxie stood with her hands on her hips. "Commoners are supposed to ignore royal misunderstandings."

"I don't think rock-folk are impressed with your royal birth," Bors said. "Let's get movin'.

"When do you think the horses will come back?" Moxie asked. "I can't carry my saddle bags all the way to Count Gamel's."

"Those animals ain't comin' back," Percivale said. "Not after the way they got spooked. They're inna next county by now." The color had returned to his face.

"Can someone please carry my bags?" Moxie asked in a pleasant voice while fluttering her eyelids. "They have my wedding dress in it."

Bors slung his own bags over one shoulder and said, "It'll do you good to get some exercise." He turned his back on her and walked east.

"We gotta get a lotta miles from here before we can stop for me to cook the rabbits I caught." Gareth tied two hares to a saddle bag. "We better start pickin' nuts and berries if we see any."

Bors shook his head. He wished the adventure would go back to being boring again.

Moxie huffed, stamped her foot and picked up her saddle bags. She followed the three knights while raining insults and curses down on their collective heads.

Moxie had never thought that life outside the castle could be so difficult. Her escorts made her sleep on the ground with only two thin blankets: one under her and one on top of her. She had to sleep in her clothes. The men made her get up at dawn. She had to eat cold meals when it rained. They made her ride the horse all day long. The knights were disrespectful of her nobility. They often ignored her commands.

It was if she was a peasant not a princess. And now they didn’t have horses and had to walk and non one would carry her saddlebags.

Moxie dropped the saddlebags to wipe her tear-filled eyes. Gamel better be worth all this misery she thought.

Moxie's Problem

Do you enjoy untypical coming-of-age stories? Well, you won’t find one more untypical than Moxie’s Problem. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outsider her father’s castle. Until now. The real world is quite different and she struggles to come to grips with reality. The story takes place against a backdrop of Camelot. But it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe. So, all bets are off!

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy, Sci-fi
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Hank Quense through Facebook & Twitter

 

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