You can visit the other blog tour stops here.
Okay, Steve …
How did some of Melbourne’s best authors gather for this short story collection, Possessing Freedom?
Thanks for your kind words about the caliber of the contributing authors. I conceived the book as a writer-development initiative and put a message out via The Australian Literature Review (www.auslit.net) calling for interested writers in Melbourne. Belinda and Beau emerged from that process and are the core contributing authors with four stories each. Then there is me with two stories and Rhiannon Hart, who I emailed about a month after her first novel (YA fantasy novel, Blood Song) was released by Random House. With no immediate deadlines looming in relation to her novels, Rhiannon was happy to come onboard with two stories.
As a Charmed fan and also a hard-core fan of crime TV shows, the idea of a Supernatural Thriller told in 12 stories for this collection sounds crazy good. What made you fall in love with this idea and what the other authors had contributed?
The idea was built up in a collaborative process. I wanted to set the book in Melbourne so all the writers would be familiar with the setting, and early in the development process the most obvious common interest amongst the writers was Young Adult paranormal/fantasy. We liked the idea of the paranormal/fantasy element as something being newly uncovered in the story-world, rather than having a story-world where the paranormal/fantasy element had been around and known to the characters long before the story began. Yet there was also interest in having some artistic license in how the story-world worked, so we decided on a near-future setting. With that as the starting point, it was unanimous that things like vampires and werewolves had been done to death in recent years, and when ghosts were suggested everyone liked that direction. So we soon had the general idea of a ghost premise, featuring teenage characters, in a fictional near-future Melbourne. The following week, Belinda brought along a rough draft scene about a teenage girl, called Alice, in a psychiatric ward who sees ghosts. Beau had also developed a character called Mark and we made him Alice’s brother. Ideas were bounced around and drafts were shared and revised until the characters and storylines were more fully developed.
Belinda and Beau worked really well together and this helped create a richness of detail about the characters, their relationships, and the story-world. Along the way, we discussed what we liked about different characters and storylines and built on the things we liked best. To Belinda and Beau’s credit, they were both willing to drop aspects of their own ideas when they thought another idea would work better. Beau also gave up a character he had been developing, because Belinda was fonder of the character than Beau was. Belinda grew the character beyond Beau’s initial conception and this became Belinda’s Faye character. The three of us worked out details of how the psychiatric ward and hospital would operate in the opening stories, how the relationships would work in Alice and Mark’s family, how the ghostly realm would work and how interactions between the ghosts and the physical world would work, how the 12 separate stories would fit together to make up the larger novel-length story. The characters and story framework largely built up by the collaborative efforts of Beau and Belinda provided the structure around which Rhiannon and I wrote our stories.
I love hearing an “X meets Y” description of a story to help me connect, i.e. Jaws meets The Beach. How would you describe Possessing Freedom?
Possessing Freedom is set in the future – 2026 in Melbourne to be exact. How did you approach this facet of storytelling?
Part of the book is set in the psychiatry ward of a hospital, and we used the near-future setting to change the way the psychiatric ward would operate. That was the biggest liberty we took with making the near-future different from the present. There are a few other notable differences but that is the big one in terms of the impact on the main elements of the story.
There is so much Young Adult (YA) fiction out there, but I love that this collection is about ghosts. It’s something that hasn’t been overdone. What do you think readers will respond best to in Possessing Freedom?
That will be different for different readers. There are six point of view characters. Which character a reader connects to most strongly or which combination of characters and aspects of the overall story a reader identifies with will affect how they respond to the book.
Perhaps the “X meets Y” comparisons above, especially in combination with reading the book, shed some light on what I respond to in Possessing Freedom.
Tell Novel Girl readers more about the Possessing Freedom fan fiction competition. With the top prize at $2,000, I’m sure many are dying to hear the deets!
In keeping with the spirit of the book as a writer-development initiative, the fan fiction competition aims to attract writers to attempt and complete a piece of writing of manageable length which they can then turn their minds to and consider how they crafted that piece of writing and how they can improve it.
The writers of the top 10 stories will be listed on PossessingFreedom.net as Top 10 Finalists, the top 3 stories will be featured in full on the site as Top 3 Finalists, and the writer of be top story will gain the title of Winner and receive AU$2000.
There is a private Facebook group for entrants, so writers can meet one another, discuss story ideas, and maybe critique each other’s writing. The AU$10 fan fiction competition entry fee gets a writer access to the private Facebook group, for discussion and writing tips up until submissions close on August 31st 2013. Possessing Freedom contributing authors and some of our publishing industry friends may also drop by from time to time to leave comments and interact with writers.
By having a range of entrants basing stories on the same book, all the writers have a common setting, range of characters, and story framework as the basis for informed discussion. This encourages in-depth analysis of the use of various storytelling elements in a real context, whereas a writing course or article a writer reads may cover storytelling elements in an abstract sense or using examples with which a writer is not fully familiarised.
The competition is open to writers worldwide. Australian teenagers and writers in their early 20s have the bonus of being around the ages of the major characters and the primary intended readership, and of the book being set in Melbourne, but writers of any age from any place have a shot at winning.
There are interviews with the contributing authors available at PossessingFreedom.net with discussion of characters and idea-starters for fan fiction stories.
The top prize is good, and the runner-up prizes provide good forms of recognition and publicity, but I’m hoping many more than the top 10 writers will come away from the experience with new friends and better fiction writing skills – which can be a greater reward than the top prize.
What are you up to at the moment and what can readers expect to see in stores and online from you?
I’m currently working on a novel, set in 1939 Poland with a teenage main character, with the aim of publishing in 2014.
I also have Writing Teen Novels expanding from Jan 1st and Writing Historical Novels launching from Jan 1st to each include a multi-national mix of established novelists, including numerous New York Times bestselling novelists on each site.
Buy Possessing Freedom in paperback, eBook formats here.
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