Workshops and Visits
I have many years experience talking to students and adults about researching and writing my novels, and also as a creative writing tutor conducting workshops in a wide variety of genres.
- Writing short stories - exploring the building blocks of writing a story, including creating believable characters and a compelling plot
- Writing fantasy - creating an 'otherworld' with strong, believable characters, fantastic creatures and magical objects in order to solve a quest
- Writing crime - whodunnit, and why? Crime is about careful plotting, believable characters and the seeding of clues to keep readers guessing until the end
- Writing history - weaving imaginary characters and events into real history to create a compelling story
- Writing from life - everyone has an interesting story to tell. How to craft fiction from real events and real emotions.
These hands-on workshops include the use of 'magical' (and other) objects, photographs and artefacts designed to stimulate the imagination and get those creative juices flowing!
My talks are based on researching and writing my various novels, and are tailored according to the age of the audience and also how the various topics tie in with the school curriculum. As many of my novels are based on historical events (eg early Australian history or medieval England) I am happy to talk to history students about the historical background to my novels - eg what life was like in medieval time + The Janna Mysteries. The Shalott trilogy is based on the legend of King Arthur. A focus of my talk could also be the development of the legend through the ages, with reference to music, art, theatre, TV and film interpretations as well as the changing text.
When talking about researching and writing The Janna Mysteries and/or The Shalott trilogy, my pp presentations include photos of sites visited in England, maps, seals and other depictions of historical or legendary characters. I also talk about the genesis of the story (where the idea comes from) and its development, as well as giving writing tips to budding authors.
My latest mss, Hearts in Chains, is a timeslip ghost story / romance set on Norfolk Island and invoking the harsh treatment of convicts during the Second Penal Settlement on the island. As above, my talk is accompanied by a powerpoint presentation to illustrate the past.
Arthur's Round Table in the Great Hall, Winchester
Ghost Boy (Random House Australia) is a timeslip adventure for readers aged 9+. It is set partly during the grisly past of the Quarantine Station in Sydney, and an outbreak of smallpox in 1881. Can 12-year-old Froggy overcome his fear of the sea and learn to trust both Cassie and the Ghost Boy in order to find out the secrets of the past? Themes in this novel include immigration, quarantine and the early treatment of disease, having the courage to face your fears, identity. NB There is a special Ghost Boy tour of the Quarantine Station in Sydney for schools studying the novel. For bookings phone the Education Co-ordinator on (02) 9466 1500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information go to their website: www.qstation.com.au.
The Ghost Boy talk is illustrated with maps, photographs, copies of the Royal Commission into the QS, an early mss, etc in powerpoint.
The Shalott Trilogy (RHA) is a timeslip fantasy for readers 11+. Five Australian teenagers go back to the court of King Arthur to rewrite the legend. They hope to save Camelot from doom, while also saving the life of 'The Lady of Shalott' - but they rewrite their own destiny instead. Themes include myths and legends, time travel, medieval history, magic, identity, courage, morality and honour,love, ambition and treachery. (Shalott won the biennial Society of Women Writers book award in the Young Adult category in 2001.)
Talks for younger children include: where ideas come from: using artefacts, pets, photographs and other techniques to generate ideas, plus a look at an early manuscript (complete with mistakes and rewriting) and its development to the printed page. These talks are based on Surfing the Future (Wendy Pye NZ) - a future-slip surfing adventure for readers aged 8+. Wally the Water Dragon (Blake Education) based on a family of water dragons resident in our garden. Turning the Page (National Museum of Australia) based on an artefact from the Springfield collection in the NMA.
The Shalott trilogy (see above)
The Janna Mysteries (Random House Australia) is a medieval crime series for teenagers. Janna is old enough to marry, but the death of her mother and the actions of the villagers force her to flee in search of her unknown father. Janna has made a vow: to avenge her mother's death and bring the man responsible to justice. These novels give a vivid portrayal of various aspects of life in medieval time and explore such themes as the journey, identity & belonging, courage, morality, faith, empowerment through knowledge, ambition, treachery, war, love and romance. Rosemary for Remembrance (#1) was on the 2006 Notable Book List. Lilies for Love won the Society of Women Writers biennial book of the year in the younger readers category, and Willows for Weeping was Highly Commended two years later. Sage for Sanctuary (Book 5) and Thyme for Trust (Book 6) become available through amazon.com either as e-books or paperbacks in September/October 2011.
For bookings please visit my bookings page.