FAQ

When are your books coming out?

These Broken Stars and This Shattered World are out now! Their Fractured Light (Starbound Book 3) is out on 1 December 2015, and Illuminae is out on 20 October 2015. My new series with Meagan Spooner will start in 2017 with Unearthed! (Yup, that’s a lot of books. Check out the books page for more on all of them.)

Are the same characters in all three books for each of your series?

Not exactly! Both my series are made up of ‘companion novels’. This means each series is set in one universe, but although an overarching story weaves through all three of them, the main characters are different. In These Broken Stars you’ll meet Lilac and Tarver, and in This Shattered World you’ll meet Flynn and Jubilee (who would prefer you called her Lee). That said, you never know who might show up for a cameo! In Illuminae, you’ll meet Kady and Ezra–and you’ll have to wait to find out more about the sequels!

Where can I get an autographed copy of your books?

If you’re in Australia, my local bookshop is Beaumaris Books — just put a note in when you hit the checkout, and they’ll ask me to drop by and sign it for you. You can also order over the phone, and they have free shipping inside Australia. If you’re in the US, you can order copies signed by my co-author Meagan at Malaprops.

What’s your advice for co-authoring a book?

I could write an essay on this! My main advice would be that if you don’t really, REALLY click, it’ll end badly. Make sure you have the same expectations about as much as possible. Plot, who writes what, how quickly you turn around your sections or chapters, what you’ll do if one of you doesn’t want to continue, whose agent would represent what, the works. Everybody has a different idea about how co-authoring should work, so it’s worth making sure you don’t end up with half a book and your partner bailing. I have a brilliant time working with both of my co-authors, and there’s nothing like knowing somebody’s got your back.

How did you meet your co-authors and come to write with them?

I met Meg online, and we wrote together for many years just for fun. We actually played around with the characters from These Broken Stars for a full year before we realised they’d make a good book! I met Jay here in Melbourne–to be honest, when I asked him to help me with my US tax forms, as they were completely baffling, and I knew he’d done them before. One catch up turned into many, and eventually we started tossing around ideas for a story we might write.

Are you working on any solo projects?

Maaaaaaaaaybe! Perhaps I’ll have news on that soon. Perrrrrhaps. Watch this space!

Time management… how do you write all those books at once?

Believe it or not, I used to be disorganised! These days, I just can’t afford to be. I have strictly organised to-do lists, and I start with my final deadline and work backwards to make sure I know exactly when everything needs to be done. Then I break down the tasks into components, so that each day or week I can focus on what needs to be done. It’s so much more manageable when you look at a small chunk, rather than the whole task. Of course, sometimes you just have to acknowledge that the words aren’t flowing–on those days, I turn to my running list of to-do tasks, and pick something else. Finding time to write does involve making writing a priority, but that has to be balanced with time with family and friends, reading and getting outside and having fun.

What’s your favourite book?

Oh, I could give you a list! I’ll stick to my absolute favourite, though — it’s The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. My school librarian, Mrs. Amiet, recommended it to me when I was in grade six as her ‘desert island book’, and I used my very first ever gift card to buy it at my local bookshop. It’s my desert island book too, and I re-read it every Christmas.

How do I get an agent?

Once your novel is as ready as it can possibly be, you’ll want to write a query letter. I recommend checking out these amazing resources from Elana Johnson, queen of the query letter. I learned to write a pitch from her free eBook, From The Query To The Call. There are heaps of online resources to help you research agents in your chosen genre, and another option is to check out the acknowledgements of books like yours to see who represents the writer. Agencies have submission guidelines set out on their websites — make sure you follow them!

Who is your agent?

My agent is Tracey Adams of Adams Literary, though I do a lot of work with the equally awesome Josh Adams as well, as he represents my co-author Meagan Spooner. Tracey is an actual black belt who also feeds me salted caramel brownies and lets me cuddle with her dogs. She is the very best.

Will you introduce me to your agent?

Unfortunately I can’t recommend a book to Tracey unless I’m familiar with you or your writing — and she does check with me when somebody mentions my name. You definitely don’t need an introduction, though, and the vast majority of writers find their agents through a query letter.

Will you critique my manuscript?

I’m sorry, I can’t! I’m super busy with writing, and I simply don’t have the time. Sometimes I’ll offer up a query or chapter critique in a charity auction. There are lots of places online to find a critique partner — you might start at the Absolute Write forums, or on the Verla Kay Blue Boards. I always suggest swapping a chapter or two first, to see if your styles match.

Where do you live?

I live in Melbourne, Australia, right near the beach. If you drive in one direction you hit the city, which is amazing. Melbourne’s full of wonderful street art, food, music, bookshops and culture. If you drive in the other direction from our house you reach beautiful wineries along the coast. It’s a pretty awesome place to live.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I eat a lot (my husband is a ridiculously good cook, and I’m a dedicated taste tester), I try to go for a lot of walks (because of the eating), I nap, I read like crazy, I play with my dog and see my friends. I used to be a mediator, and I still occasionally teach it, because I love it so much. And as often as I can, I pack a suitcase and go explore a new country!

Did you study writing at school or university?

I did not. I studied Irish history and wrote a thesis on the amazing Irish women who migrated to the US, New Zealand and Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were kickass and unique, and if you buy me a hot chocolate I’ll tell you all about them. I also studied English literature, and wrote essays about Shakespeare and Bond girls and Johnson and Boswell. Then I did a law degree, and wrote about human rights law and a lawsuit involving a stampeding elephant, as well as a thesis on expert evidence. Finally I did a Masters in Conflict Resolution, and learned about different styles of mediation and communication. It’s super useful in my writing, and my everyday life!

What’s your writing routine like?

If I can, I love to write late at night. Of course, I can’t always manage that, and I’ll write wherever and whenever I get the chance. With my laptop on the train, in a notebook while I’m waiting to meet a friend for coffee, at the laundromat when our washing machine broke down, you name it. My writing is pretty evenly split between short scribbling sessions when I can fit them in, and long bursts of several hours at a time. My advice to aspiring writers is to worry less about your routine — because it doesn’t really matter what it is — and more about finding time to write whenever and however you can. If you wait for a perfect stretch of several hours, your peppermint tea by your side and your scented candle burning, you may never get there! Never underestimate what you can do if you just work whenever you can.

I want to write a book! Do you have any advice for me?

READ. I can’t say it enough. Read the genre you want to write, read genres you don’t want to write. Read high up and low down, because you’re building your writing muscles every time you do it. Other people suggest you write every day — I don’t, but I do think about what I’m working on every day, and I write very consistently. Writing a book is a huge thing to do, and it involves making some hard choices — turning down that TV show you love, sitting down at your desk when you’d rather be doing something else. Of course, make sure you get outside, too — you have to live life to write about it!