Rhiza Press Blog

Rhiza Press blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Australian books for Adult and Young Adult readers.

Amanda Deed Talks Fairy Tales and Superman

DeedAmandaWhat was your inspiration for adapting the Cinderella story? What aspects of her story were you most drawn to?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and Cinderella is one of my favourites. What drew me to rewrite it is that Cinderella is basically bullied by those horrible stepsisters and stepmother. This kind of treatment affects a person’s self-esteem, and self-esteem is something I struggled with a lot in my teens. I can’t say I was bullied precisely, but I was teased often, leaving me feeling worthless and unloved.

When I grew up I realised that the very things other kids teased me for were actually my strengths. What a way to destroy a person’s potential. Thankfully I worked through those issues and now have more self-confidence. But, it did leave me wanting to encourage others about their self-worth, and so I decided to weave that theme into my Cinderella story – Unnoticed.


How do you think Price Moreland compares to Prince Charming?

Well, he’s handsome, charming (in a good way), and he is the heir to a large fortune/estate. His father is a ‘king’ in the booming railway and shipping industry in America. And, of course, he is able to look past Jane’s apparent servitude and poverty.

Jane is often self-conscious about her appearance and tries to go unnoticed (a very apt title). Do you think a lot of teenagers would relate to this?

Absolutely. When the target of teasing, it would be so much easier to disappear. You’d rather be unnoticed altogether, than noticed and made fun of for your perceived faults. I found that for myself.

I have also witnessed it in teenagers recently. Watching a sixteen-year-old girl walk across the room with her head down—looking uncomfortable to say the least—I asked her, ‘Why are you feeling so awkward walking over here?’

She told me: ‘I feel like everyone’s looking at me.’

I smiled at her. ‘You know they’re actually not. They’re all too busy in their own little world to be taking much notice of you.’

‘Well they should be!’ was her bold reply.

‘So walk like they should be. You are absolutely worth looking at and worth noticing. You are beautiful.’

There’s a kind of confused mixture of wanting to be noticed and accepted, and not wanting to be noticed in case we are rejected.


If you could be any fairy tale heroine, who would it be?

I can’t say I’ve ever aspired to be one of the fairy tale heroines, although I do love the way Rapunzel wielded that frying pan in Tangled. I’d more likely aspire to Lois Lane just because she got to fly with Superman. I love Superman. In fact, every time I see a kid in a Superman costume, I ask them if they will take me flying. Unfortunately, no-one has said yes yet.


What can we expect in the next instalment Unhinged?

Unhinged will be a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – another of my favourite fairy tales. However, instead of the beast being a monster, or a physical deformity in a man, the beast will be mentally-ill.

It is very challenging to write. But again, mental health is such a big subject these days, even with teens. I just heard of a Year Twelve student being put on anti-depressants to deal with anxiety. It makes me sad that people so young have to struggle with such deep issues. Hopefully Unhinged, amidst an entertaining story, will give encouragement to people who deal with this kind of illness.

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An interview with Adele Jones

An interview with Adele Jones

Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and her broad ranging imagination. She has had a variety of poems, short stories, magazine articles, devotions and meditations published. Her first novels are due for release in 2014.

Adele is the author of Integrate to be released in September 2014.

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?
If I remember correctly, the first novel length story I wrote as an adult was about a lottery winner who swiftly discovered that money truly can't buy the best things in life. It has never been published (and that's probably a good thing).

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?
Those moments when the ideas all come together and a story just pours itself out on the page. Oh, and going to conferences and meeting other authors. It's great sharing the journey with those familiar with the path and learning from their collective wisdom.

Question 3: What is the hardest part about being an author?
When life gets busy and I get hardly any writing (or anything else) done. It's like the ideas build up in my head and I get a bit antsy because it's like keeping track of all these thoughts in my head at once. (Always important to have a note pad on hand to jot them down before they run wild! ☺) I also find those writing sessions when it's just plain hard work writing anything half decent really frustrating. That said, I'm a great believer in "something is better than nothing" and know that eventually the ideas will start coming if I persist.

Question 4: What do you do for fun?
Lots! In addition to writing, I'm a mummy and wife, a musician, a science geek, a people person, and I like sports, so I've got plenty of things to choose from.

Question 5: What was your favourite children's book when you were a kid?
I was an avid reader as a child, so there are too many favourites to choose from. As an animal lover who was horse mad, I LOVED stories like 'The Silver Brumbies' series by Elyne Mitchell. I also loved historical fiction and non-fiction; classic titles by May Gibbs (Snugglepot and Cuddlepie); Anne of Green Gables and other stories by L.M. Montgomery. Lots and lots!

Question 6: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?
Famous? LOL! Only my daughter thinks I'm famous, so that leaves every other famous person I've ever met to choose from. I have had opportunities to "meet" (i.e. goofy two second conversation) a couple of my favourite musicians, which was pretty cool, but I've not met very many famous people. Not really. That said, a work related event last year did include a brief introduction and shake of hands with Professor Ian Chubb, Australia's Chief Scientist. (He came across as a very pleasant, well informed man.) I've also been at a conference keynote address by Nobel Prize winner Professor Barry J. Marshall. Okay, so that's not meeting him, but I was so excited I couldn't wipe the smile off my face! (By some miracle I did manage to refrain from waving from the audience – just.)

Question 7: What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I like writing generally and perhaps one of my faults as an author is my propensity for writing across a variety of genres. But it is fun. I find historical fiction particularly satisfying due to the amount of research involved and the challenge of putting together all the puzzle pieces to form a whole, then knitting them into a story. That said, science fiction can also be like that, and being a science geek is kind of handy when writing in that genre.

Question 8: What do you consider your biggest achievement?
That's a really hard question. When I was a child I used to think it was pretty momentous when I'd gain the trust of a wild kitten or manage not to get thrown when my pony would get in a strop and pull a swift move on me! (I did mention that I was an animal lover...) As an adult it's harder to pinpoint a particular "biggest" moment. I suppose it's probably those occasions when I've stepped out of my comfort zone or taken up a challenging task and it all comes off. This is something that never gets old, whether it be a parenting experience; a successful result for a large project; or a performance that just works! I think if we stop doing things that are a little bit scary, then we miss something in life. The best moments often turn out to be the ones that are shared and the most satisfying journeys usually start with a leap of faith.

Question 9: Where do you see the future of children's books (ebooks/apps/print)
Hey, I'm still getting my head around iPads/tablets, let alone apps! (Oops, am I not supposed to admit that in public?) Having had a little play with an app, I think it's cool what can be done, but I also love the feel of a book in my hand and being able to flip back to favourite places as required, which you can't do with an e-book. (Although my daughter did demonstrate the "go to" function on my Kindle when I was bumbling around the other day trying to go back a few chapters. She's only used it a couple of times...)

Question 10: What book are you reading right now?
I'm a repeat multi-book reading offender. As such, I'm currently reading (or trying to read...) 'Parentless Parenting' by Allison Gilbert (it looked interesting); Creative writing by Adele Ramet (how could you go wrong with a name like that?); 'The seven habits of highly effective people' by Stephen R. Covey (I'm beginning to suspect that effective people don't try to read five books at once...); 'He still moves stones' by Max Lucado; and another book I've downloaded onto my kindle, the name of which currently escapes me (clearly life altering...).

Worse, since beginning these books I've started and completed several others, including 'The Self Leadership of the One Minute Manager' by Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkins; and 'Persuaded by the Evidence' by Doug Sharp and Jerry Bergman (great book – do read it if you haven't yet). Let's face it; I'm walking evidence for the time management fallacy we refer to as effective multi-tasking!


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An interview with Rosanne Hawke

An interview with Rosanne Hawke

Hi, I'm Rosanne Hawke from rural South Australia; I write books for young people from 6 – 18 years, but adults read them too. I tend to use themes of relationships, culture, identity and place, but I also like writing about cats and music. I'm interested in Cornish culture, as I am a fourth-generation Cornish descendant, and also in the culture of the Middle East, especially Pakistan, as I and my family worked there as aid workers for ten years.

Rosanne is the author of Zenna Dare, set for re-release in July 2014.

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?
I have loved writing since I was little. It began with reading by the light under the door, or by moonlight, hanging out my window. My mother knew a jotter and pencil would keep me happy for hours. I wrote snippets of stories and buried them in tins. My first published story – in the school magazine – was called 'Bushed' set in the South American jungle.

Question 2: How did you start writing books?
I told my children stories; they gave me characters' names, settings, even a problem and I told the story with lots of their interjections. One night when we lived in Pakistan I told my eldest daughter a story she wanted about a kidnapping in Afghanistan as one of our colleagues had been abducted by freedom fighters. She thought how exciting that would be. She liked the story so much she begged me to write it for her to read, then to type it, then to send it to a publisher. She wanted to be able to buy a book that her mother wrote just for her. This became my second book, Jihad.

Question 3: What was your first book published?
Re-entry: The story of an Australian girl who had grown up in Pakistan and returned to Australia for high school. It explores one's own culture from the outside and culture shock.

Question 4: What is your favourite part about being an author?
Writing the stories and seeing how they affect readers. One mother told me reading one of my books (Zenna Dare) got her daughter off drugs. Another girl said she didn't know a book could change her opinions like Soraya the Storyteller did for her.

Question 5: What was your favourite children's book when you were a kid?
I had many but reread The Prince and the Pauper many times (probably a retelling) and loved all the fairy stories & folktales like The Arabian Nights.

Question 6: What is your favourite children's book now?
There are too many great books to mention just one. I love Glenda Millard's The Naming of Tishkin Silk and Kate DiCamillo's Because of Wynne Dixie. Christine Harris' Audrey of the Outback; Janeen Brian's Where does Thursday Go? Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall. The list is never ending.

Question 7: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?
Yes, I was asked to speak at the Cornish Studies Centre in Redruth, Cornwall about Cornish children's literature in Australia, and also to speak in schools. I have spoken in an American school but that was arranged while I was holidaying with friends.

Question 8: What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I often write realism, but have written historical (Mustara and Taj and the Great Camel Trek), an historical fantasy (Wolfchild), and fantasy (Across the Creek).

Question 9: Where do you see the future of children's books (ebooks/apps/print)?
I think the future is exciting. Stories or books will never die but they will change shape. Print books will become a special event as children gradually lose the art of writing by hand.

Question 10: What books are you reading right now?
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I am Malala by Malala Yousefzai with Christina Lamb.

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