Moana = Happy Sigh

I (finally) went to see Moana at the cinemas on Thursday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. Honestly – it was sheer brilliance. I laughed, I cried, I felt like being one of “those people” at the end and clapping my heart out. Above all, I remember sitting in my car afterwards, preparing to drive home, and thinking two thoughts.

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My Newest Obsession – The Shannara Chronicles

Around this time last year I posted a blog about my first Supanova tour and I mentioned that on the way back to the airport, I shared a car with the actor, Manu Bennett – photo attached here again, just because… :-)

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We were probably in the car for 30-40 mins (ish) and during that time he told me about his most recent role as a druid on a new, upcoming MTV show called The Shannara Chronicles. He explained that it was based off Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara and what he told me about it sounded ridiculously awesome and right up my alley. I’ve been waiting all year for it to come out so I could see for myself if it was as good as it sounded.

Now, about a week ago I learned that I’m speaking on three panels over the Easter weekend at Contact 2016, and one of those panels is called “Everyday magic: from Harry Potter to Shannara“. I don’t think words can describe just how excited I am to be on this panel, not just because I’ll have a legitimate excuse to gush about Harry Potter, but also because both Kate Forsyth and Juliet Marillier will be on it with me—both of whom I had the honour of meeting last November for the Adelaide/Brisbane Supanova tours. Kate and Juliet are brilliant authors, so I’m stoked that I get to spend time with them again (AND talk about Harry Potter!!!!!!) – and given the title of the panel, I figured it was the perfect time to learn more about The Shannara Chronicles in order to at least bring something other than Harry to the stage.

So! Given that the launch of Raelia is coming up in less than a fortnight and between now and then (and definitely afterwards), life is a little hectic, I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to read the books before the Easter weekend, so I decided to hit a friend up to borrow the series. Turns out it was perfect timing because season one literally just finished and she was able to give me all 10 episodes.

That was last Sunday, and I had every intention of watching an episode here or there over the next fortnight and slowly but surely making my way through it enough to have at least some basic knowledge in time for the panel.

What I didn’t plan on was sitting down and watching the first episode, then the second, then the third, then the…. well, okay, time for an honesty moment: I literally binge-watched the entire 10-episode season in one sitting last Sunday. (Despite having deadlines that I really should have been working on.)

Shannara was THAT good.

It was literally like watching 10 episodes of The Lord of the Rings. From the setting (soooooo Middle Earth) to the characters (elves, humans, trolls, “demons” – which just reminded me of orcs with dark magic)… to the epic scope of the story and character arcs. I seriously LOVED it. It was like a fantasy TV show dream come true!!!

The casting was beyond brilliant – Manu’s character (the druid, Allanon) was AMAZING, but so too were the three young leads, the elven princess Amberle, the human “Rover” Eretria—both seriously kickass female leads—and the half-human-half-elf “Chosen One” Wil.

Then there was the elven king, Eventine, played by the always wonderful John Rhys-Davies (*cough* Gimli *cough*,and both the elven princes Ander and Arion were absolutely brilliant!

The special effects and cinematography were way better than I would have imagined – like, movie quality awesome. And so too was the music, etc. I mean, I’m totally fangirling here, but I just really, really enjoyed it.

BUT. I will state for the record that there is quite a lot of heavy fantasy violence in it. Kinda like the messy, icky battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings, but sometimes a bit more than that, too. Nose-scrunching yuck at times. So I wouldn’t recommend this for younger people. But for those who love fantasy, great characters, an intriguing world and an epic story, then all I can say is, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?!?!? Go grab a physical copy or download it from the Apple store or Amazon RIGHT NOW!!!

Supanova Part 2: Brisbane

If anyone had told me that the Brisbane leg of the Supanova tour would be one of the best events of the year for me, I would have had a hard time believing them. And that’s because I’ve been to some pretty incredible events in 2015. The first round of Supanova back in March/April, for example, between Melbourne/Gold Coast was amazing to the point that I didn’t think anything could top it. But I have to admit, the Adelaide/Brisbane tour blows that experience out of the park. It was Just. That. Good.

I’ve already written about everything that happened at Adelaide last week, so if you missed that post, you can can read all about it by clicking here. As for Brisbane… Well, here we go.

It all started for me last Friday when I travelled to the city and checked into the hotel (and while I waited in line for aaaaages thanks to some unhappy tourists, I had a good, long chat with Stef Dawson who plays Annie Cresta in The Hunger Games—she’s seriously lovely! I only saw the final part of Mockingjay last week, so it was fun to talk about her role in it with Finnick and stuff!). I was then ushered to the venue in an earlier vehicle separate to all the other ‘supa-stars’, since I was scheduled to give a masterclass that afternoon. I didn’t realise I’d have company in the car, but I ended up sharing the trip with actors Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz) and Christopher Judge (Stargate). After chatting casually with them for the whole trip, when we arrived at the venue and went our separate ways, the literary manager of Supanova, Ineke, who also shared the car with us, asked me how I was so ‘normal’ around them (she’s well aware of my bubbly excitement and foot-in-mouth tendencies, haha). All I could do was answer honestly and admit that I knew Nick was a huge deal, but I’ve never seen anything he’s in, so to me he’s just another person. And as for Christopher, I am a big Stargate fan, but he was just so nice that it wasn’t like I was going to go all crazy fangirl on him. Turns out I do have some self respect. (Not to mention, professionalism!)

So that was a memorable experience to kick off the tour! And it just became even more awesome starting with my masterclass on world building—which began with the most hilariously mortifying experience of my life, when I was being ‘mic-ed up’… Something which we will never speak of… But suffice it to say, Ineke had tears of laughter while witnessing the, uh, experience, and she took great delight in sharing the story with others later. Thankfully, there aren’t any pictures of those seemingly unending minutes (okay, it really wasn’t that bad—it was waaaaaay more funny than anything else!), but there are pictures of the masterclass that I can share

Here’s me at the beginning-ish:

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Here’s where I broke the whiteboard (don’t ask):

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And here’s a couple of the masterclass attendees who hung around for a photo afterwards:

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After all that, I was ushered down to the floor because, unlike in Adelaide, the Friday in Brisbane was a signing day as well as Saturday and Sunday. I was actually surprised by how many people were there, given that it’s mostly a weekend thing! But I was more surprised by the SERIOUSLY COOL life-sized Akarnae student ID card that my publishers had organised for photo ops! How awesome is this!! It has the academy’s motto and everything! Kailas en freydell. Vayla en karsis. Leali en nexar. (Strength in Weakness. Victory in Surrender. Life in Death.)

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What happened next? Lots of signing stuff, and I had the chance to properly meet Juliet Marillier, an author whose books I love, so that was really cool. Then we all trundled off to the auditorium area to give our elevator pitches to the massive crowd (well, all of us but Sarah J. Maas, who was off playing with koalas that day).

Here’s us waiting to go on stage (L-R: Juliet, me, Trudi Canavan, Mel Casey and Isobelle Carmody):

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Once we were all done, we headed back to the hotel and met up with Sarah, Sonia and Stephanie (Sonia being the Bloomsbury publicist, Stephanie being Sarah’s cousin from the States who joined us for the weekend—she’s sooooo cool!!). Together the whole, rather large group of us went out to a late dinner before calling it a night. I was stoked at that stage to discover that my room overlooked St. George Square, because Brisbane City’s Christmas tree was officially lit up that night, and I had a view of all the prettiness right from my bed!

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The next day dawned bright and clear and it was, in a word, epic. Go, go, go from the minute we jumped on the bus. There were people everywhere at the venue, and the cosplayers were fantastic. Here are just a few of the amazing costumes I saw over the weekend: 

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As you can see, their creativity knows no bounds!

Other than being transfixed by all the people-watching, on the Saturday I spoke on a panel with Isobelle and Juliet regarding ‘Impossible Quests’. It turned out to be a really great talk, and I had a great time rubbing shoulders with these two incredible storytellers!

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I also received my first ever gifts from fans! That totally blew my mind!! And I absolutely love how they were both Harry Potter related presents, haha. One I’ve already posted on Instagram (so go follow my account @lynettenoni for more pics there!), and the other was this lovely surprise!

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Speaking of Harry Potter, later on the Saturday night there was the VIP party, and the coolest of all cool things happened when Mel, who is apparently boundless in courage, pulled me over for us to chat with Matthew Lewis, aka Neville Longbottom. He was so nice! And he was even  kind enough to take a photo with us, too!

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The party in general was such a fabulous event! By that stage, after Adelaide and everything, we were all friends, so it was just really nice to hang with everyone! Here’s a pic of Cat (C.S. Pacat), me, Sarah and Mel early on in the night before things got too crazy!

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… And when I say ‘crazy’, I mean, Sarah, Steph, Mel and I kind of danced the night away and we didn’t end up leaving the party until, like, midnight or something. We also had fun chats with people like Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and we did get a group photo with him, but it didn’t turn out in the funky club lighting. Actually, one of the most entertaining parts of the night would have to be when he did a reenactment of his Napoleon Dynamite dance. It was hilarious.

Thankfully we all pulled up okay the next morning, since it was straight back into it for the final day of the tour. And I have to say, of it all, Sunday was definitely the most intense for me! I feel as if from the moment I stepped out onto the floor until the day ended, I didn’t stop! It was amazing! The booksellers actually sold out of Akarnae (which is SO awesome), and my wonderful publicist, Susan, had to go and hunt down more copies—and we almost sold out of them, too!

Other than the fabulousness of that, I also had a great panel that morning with Mel, Sarah and another author called Kimberly Clark, where we spoke about ‘Creating Kick Ass Characters’. It was the only panel I had with Sarah for the whole of the tour, and it was hilarious seeing the difference in audience numbers. Here’s just a fraction of how packed out the room was:

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Here’s us during the panel:

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And here’s us afterwards:

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We took off straight to lunch directly after that, but while en route, Sarah’s ‘hot guy radar’ managed to spot the Captain America cosplayer that we were all told to keep an eye out for over the weekend. And he certainly didn’t disappoint! (L-R: Stephanie, Mel, Captain America, me, Sarah, Sonia):

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I wouldn’t normally now talk about something as boring as lunch, but I have to in this case, because Sunday’s lunch hour in the green room was hilarious. And that was mostly because Steph, Sarah and I became obsessed with what ended up being termed ‘Battlewinks’—a hardcore version of ‘Tiddlywinks’ where we had to hop the frogs into their pot. We were totally into it, naming them all and giving them backstories (we may have been somewhat delusional by this stage), and so our game was born! Sarah was red (Horatio and Mr. Withersby), Steph was green (Bruce and Bruiser), and I was blue (Sméagol and Bilbo). Then when other people joined in the fun, we kind of just went all-in for whatever frog we could get our hands on, though I think Sarah always stayed true to Horatio.

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I stole this pic from Sarah’s Instagram (@therealsjmaas) because it’s clearer than any of the ones stored on my phone:

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There was a slight incident when Zach Callison ended up breaking Mr. Withersby’s legs (RIP Mr. Withersby), but otherwise no frogs were harmed in the sixty-straight-minutes that we played Battlewinks. Non-stop. I meant what I said—we were obsessed! And the fervour grew as people realised how much fun it was and joined in with us!

We were eventually forced to stop playing and head back down to the floor, and no joke, I didn’t stop for the rest of the afternoon. It was amazing, in an insane kind of way! Looking back now, it’s all very much a blur, but I loved every minute of it! 

At the end we had a huge group photo taken of all the ‘stars’ who were invited to the expo; a photo that I’ll hopefully get my hands on soon and be able to share (I was literally being held up by Christopher Judge in it since we were right at the back and he was like, “You’re too short to be seen. Throw your arm around me and I’ll hold you up.” And that was super nice of him since they took a while taking the pics and he had to hold onto me for that whole time, keeping me up high so I could get in the photo!)

Once we were all done and back at the hotel, I spent the next few hours hanging out with Steph and Sarah and other people as they came and went while I waited for my lift to arrive. Most of that time we were joined by Olivia Olsen (Adventure Time) and her boyfriend, Cash, who were seriously awesome. Stef (Dawson) joined us for part of it as well, but she couldn’t stay for too long since she had two auditions scheduled for the next morning and needed to prep for them. Onwards and upwards from The Hunger Games for her!

All in all, I think I’ve touched on most of the highlights of the Brisbane leg of the tour now. Pretty epic, huh? And that’s not even all that happened—just a briefing of the main points! So I’m sure you can probably understand my claim about how incredible it was now!

I just want to wrap up this post by saying that, while it was fantastic to be considered a ‘supa-star’ at an event like this, and while I loved every single second of it, none of it would have been possible without the incredible staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event happen. In my mind, they’re the real ‘supa-stars’!! In particular, I’d like to thank Ineke, Paige, Casey-who-is-not-Linda, Linda-who-is-Linda, David-who-is-not-Barry, Barry-who-is-Barry (you can tell from this that I suck at remembering names!), Skye, Nicole, Juanita and Mark. There are a stack of others who also helped us over the weekends who I’m sure I’m forgetting right now, but please know that named or not, I’m so appreciative for everything you all did for us!! You guys rock!

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(Photo credit: Ineke P.)

And that’s the end of Supanova for 2015! It was an experience I will never, ever forget!

Supanova Part 2: Gold Coast

Here’s the second part of my incredible Supanova experience. The days in between Melbourne and Gold Coast I spent in Tasmania (and you can read about what I did there here) and I flew back to QLD after my library workshop in Hobart on Wednesday 15th April so that I could give another workshop in Helensvale (Gold Coast) on the Thursday. Both workshops were seriously awesome, by the way! And the Gold Coast one was even covered on page 4 of the Gold Coast Bulletin the next day!

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Everything Supanova-related began again on the Friday night, including another round of the elevator pitch – to an even larger audience this time! A few of us authors ended up back at the hotel bar afterwards which was really nice, since by this stage we’d all sufficiently bonded, and it was like old friends catching up after being away from each other for – gasp! – an entire four days!

Then Saturday came about and it was straight back into the crazy-crazy-craziness. The crowds were even more insane than at Melbourne! Just getting from the Booktopia stand (where we were signing) to the green room was stupidly claustrophobic and took forever in the bumper-to-bumper human traffic! Here’s a pic I took at about 11:30am on the Saturday:

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You can see from those pics that it really was hectic! And that was true for the book sales and signings all day (and over the whole weekend). I’m not kidding – at one stage I looked up and I had four people queuing for me to sign Akarnae for them. Four! That’s crazy talk, especially since my book has only been out since February! And actually, I mentioned in my last post that Akarnae was the bestselling individual title sold at Melbourne Supanova, but now I can officially amend that and say that it was the bestselling individual title at BOTH Melbourne AND Gold Coast – in fact, almost 25% more copies were sold at the Gold Coast! How seriously awesome is that! I have no words!

Some of the other cool stuff that happened on the Saturday included more green room shenanigans, like listening to Georgina and Sean (Elsa and Robin Hood from Once Upon A Time) along with Bob (Bellamy Blake from The 100) and Jason David Frank (the green Power Ranger) talk about BASE jumping, sky diving, wing walking, scuba diving, and all kinds of other crazy stuff that resulted in broken bones or reducing oneself to near tears. It was definitely amusing listening to them recount all the ways they were certain they were going to die! Sean in particular had a great (ie. horrific) wing walking story – poor guy!

I also had good, long chat with Kevin McNally in the afternoon (Mr Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean) who said he’d love to have a copy of Akarnae, which was so cool. After reading the blurb, he said something along the lines of, “When this becomes a movie, I think I should play the role of this Professor Marselle man.” – And strangely, I can actually imagine that! In the end, this is how I signed his book:

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While I was chatting with Kevin, Manu (Bennett – from Arrow and The Hobbit) turned up again (which was really cool since he was rarely seen over both weekends since he was so busy – again, another reason I still can’t believe I actually got to spend half an hour in a car ride to Melbourne airport with him!) and he asked me how my Tasmania trip went, which was so nice of him. Mostly because it meant he actually remembered me, haha, and also recalled what we’d chatted about during our car trip. Like I said in my last post, he’s one ridiculously lovely guy!

Otherwise, the Saturday was filled with more amazingly costumed fans, like Captain Jack Sparrow:

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And Elmo:

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And then there’s me, the crazy J.K. Rowling wannabe:

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(In my defence, all us authors wrote something on the back of our lanyards for when they flicked around, so I decided to go with J.K. Rowling – why not? Peter Hamilton had something like “Don’t you know who I am?” and John Scalzi I think had “I’m behind you” – or something like that. I can’t remember any of the others, but some were really great and witty!)

After the conference was over for the day, instead of taking the Supa-Star bus literally across the street to our hotel (which was much closer than the Melbourne one!), a few of us authors decided to walk. But we made that decision just as some of the waaaaay more famous people exited the building and they decided to walk back with us. I’m talking the big wigs like Manu Bennett, Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), Georgina Haig (Elsa), Barbara Dunkleman and a few others I can’t remember. Basically we were walking along with an all-star crew of awesomeness. I’m pretty sure Justin (Woolley) and myself were the only authors in the pack of Hollywood-ites. And then there was this really cool moment where Manu had us all stop around a giant koala statue to take a group photo (which I’m still waiting to appear somewhere on social media to prove that it did, in fact, happen!).

It was really cool walking back with everyone, but the sucky thing was, a few people must have noticed our motley crew (let’s face it, we weren’t overly stealthy), and Manu and Tyler both got absolutely swarmed by (female) fans when we reached the foyer of the hotel. It was actually really awful since we’d all just had massive days and all they would have wanted was to relax in the safety of the hotel, but instead they were being clobbered by people wanting photos and everything still. Very sucky, but I guess it’s just part of the life they deal with in order to do what they love.

Anyway… We had a few hours to ourselves and then it was time for the Gold Coast VIP party – which was, again, a bus ride away. I really enjoyed the Goldie party (just like I really enjoyed the Melb one!) and it helped that we all knew each other better by then and thus were also able to better hedge guesses as to who the actual VIP holders were (since no one had ID tags or anything yet again). I met some seriously lovely people (some of whom came and bought my book the next day simply because I’d been “nice” to them – awwwww!!). I also found out that the VIPs paid a whopping $800 to get VIP status for the weekend – how insano is that! I was like, “Okay, who are you here to see? For $800, we’ll make sure you get some quality time with them!”

So, yeah, the party was great, and afterwards our author-ly crew ended up back at the hotel bar along with my wonderful publicist, Susan Hando, Supanova’s amazing literary manager, Ineke Prochazka, and the delightful Alex Adsett, who is a literary agent ninja – and also happens to be the super-fantastic contract consultant who helped me get my head around all things legal at the beginning of my publishing journey (so it was so great to meet Alex in person!). That meant our drinks crew consisted of Peter F. Hamilton, Justin Woolley, Colin Taber (for a while), Alan Baxter, Susan, Ineke, Alex and myself. We had a wonderful time just chilling for a few hours after the event before packing off sometime around midnight, I think.

Here’s me with Peter F. Hamilton, who is seriously one of the nicest men I have ever met! For a ridiculously famous author, he’s just sooooooo lovely! (Even if he claims that my lack of pop culture knowledge makes him feel old! Eeek!)

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And here’s an author group selfie of Peter, Justin, Alan, Alex and myself:

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Then came the Sunday. The final day of Supanova. (Insert sad sigh here.)

I had my 6-foot high, two-dimensional knight in shining armour with me for the first time on the trip in, and he was somewhat… cumbersome to wrestle onto the bus. I’d missed the author transport somehow (I still have no idea how), so I was grabbing a lift with the TV/movie people (again, I have no idea how that happened, but I just did as I was told and went where I was directed and it all worked out well!). On the bus I was opposite Bob and he was like, “So, what’s with the knight?” And I think I just burst out laughing because by then I was delirious from sleep deprivation and also trying to figure out where I’d left my phone and if I’d lost my hotel key card (I’d had a rather stressful morning!). I did what any ‘normal’ person would do in that situation and officially introduced him to my knight, Sir Camden (who is a character in Akarnae). Pretty much any time I saw Bob over the rest of the day he asked me how Sir Camden was doing and I gave him status updates, which was fun. We also had Jason David Frank jump in on the convo since he was seated in front of me on the bus and turned around for a chat. Jeez, those guys (and everyone) are so nice!

The day continued much like the others (crazy costumes, amazing fans, everything!). And there were some seriously adorable cuties, too, like my publicist’s son and this sweetheart of a little girl both in Harry Potter costumes:

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Then there were the other weirdos, like me, deciding to try my hand at being a part of The Hunger Games:

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(Okay, not really, but it was still fun to hold a bow. I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I saw the positioning of my head in this photo, since I wondered if perhaps my publicist was so sick of me by the end of our 10 days that she was subconsciously imagining my gruesome death. I’m sure that’s not true, though! … Right, Susan?)

Sunday was also the day for my Gold Coast author panel, and this time I was on with Justin (again), along with Peter and also Kim Wilkins (who hadn’t been at Melbourne but I got to meet her at the Goldie and, like so many others, she’s lovely!). Our panel was on the topic of “Myths and Misconceptions” – which is seriously difficult to say fast, by the way – and despite having a few tongue-tied, tired-slurry moments from me, it was a really great discussion we had!

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There were more signings after the panel and then DONE! We were finished! Which meant it was time for another author group photo! This is us acting like goofs (ahem… I mean, acting like we’re typing on a typewriter) – and there’s Sir Camden in the background (who is possibly still there right now, since I was so spaced out that I forgot all about him and left him there! *Face palm*…)

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There was a really nice and casual author goodbye dinner that night followed by a penthouse apartment after party for all the stars and volunteers (in which Georgina (Elsa) actually came back to my room to pick up a copy of Akarnae for herself, which was soooo cool!)… and then a few other little bits and pieces, but that’s basically it! Supanova, done and dusted!

Before I finish this post, I just have to give a few shout-outs to some very special people. First up, to the incredible authors I met over the two events who, as mentioned copious amounts of times in both this post and my Melbourne one, took me in and shared all their wonderful knowledge with me. Peter Hamilton and Traci Harding in particular were constantly sharing their insights and teaching me their magical author-ly wonders, along with Alan Baxter and his martial-artsy-awesomeness. I’ll be forever grateful to them all for simply being so kind to naïve little me. And Justin Woolley, another ‘baby author’ like myself, was just a ridiculously awesome guy. We had a lot of fun together – especially on the Gold Coast when we were set up as signing buddies next to each other and he was pretty much stuck beside me for two days straight, haha. (Poor guy!) I haven’t read my copy of his book yet, but I’d definitely recommend him as a person, so if you like the idea of zombies in the Australian outback, go check out A Town Called Dust and support this great up-and-coming author!

Someone else who deserves huge amounts of gratitude is the wonderful Ineke, without whom I never would have been invited along to Supanova. As the literary manager, she’s the one who first read Akarnae and loved it enough to reach out and see if I wanted to come along as a guest. From hosting the panels to organising the craziness of the schedules and signings, Ineke and her amazing, incredible, wonderful team of volunteers took such great care of us every step of the way. I can’t wait for the next time I get to meet her again and give her a big, squishy hug.

Lastly, none of this would have happened without “My Susan”. Susan Hando (aka my out-of-this-world-amazing publicist) works tirelessly every single day to get me into events like Supanova, media appearances and school/library workshops etc. all in order to get me and Akarnae out there to the world. While I was sitting on my backside signing books and smiling at the cosplay people walking by, she was flitting about handing out flyers, visiting the Quidditch match (Melbourne exclusive), taking her adorable Harry-Potter-costumed son around the crowds with lollipops (and more flyers), and basically spreading word that I had a book available that people would hopefully love. To be honest, I’m exhausted just thinking about how much work she did – not only at the actual events, but also beforehand and afterwards. And you know what’s even crazier? I’m only one of a number of authors she looks after! I have a theory: she’s Wonder Woman in disguise. It’s the only thing that makes sense. So, thank you, My Susan, because without you I’d be twiddling my thumbs and wondering how to get someone other than my mum to read my book.

This is the only pic I have of us from the weekend, but in it is Alex Adsett, Susan’s son, Susan, myself, and Sir Camden. I figure it’s a great photo to end this post on!

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I Laughed… I Cried…

… And I clapped like a complete dork at the end.

What am I talking about, you ask? Why, Disney’s Maleficent, of course!This movie was beyond anything I could have expected! I’m such a happily-ever-after kind of girl, so I was quite apprehensive about it, especially since I’m also a huge Disney classics fan and I adore the animated version of Sleeping Beauty. But I have no words to describe just how stunning this movie was!

Angelina Jolie was incredible in it. She made it so easy to fall in love with her despite being the ‘villain’ of the story… And she made it easy to root for her, too! I won’t say any more on this since I don’t want to give anything away, but seriously…

THE FEELS.

It was also visually captivating with gorgeous fantasy elements that seemed to come to life and burst straight out of the screen (and I didn’t even see it in 3D!).

To top it all off, the story itself was singularly unique and beautifully redemptive. All in all, it was breathtaking!

I cannot recommend this movie enough, so you’ll just have to go and experience it for yourselves! Here’s a link for the trailer just in case you haven’t seen it yet. It looks pretty ‘dark’ in this clip, but while there are definitely those elements in it, overall the movie itself is just beyond gorgeous. And like I said earlier, it’s beautifully redemptive. So, give it a go – you won’t regret it!

What’s In A Name?

This is so random, but does anyone else think that Markus Zusak has a seriously cool name? I haven’t read or watched The Book Thief, but it’s gathering a heap of social media attention at the moment – and every time I see his name, all I can think is how awesome it sounds. Do you agree? Or am I just weird?

I’ve always been fascinated by names. They can tell us so much about a person – especially in fiction. Take ‘Voldemort’, for example. No hero is going to be named Voldemort. It doesn’t say ‘good guy’, instead it practically screams ‘harbinger-of-death’. You know it’s true!

‘Maleficent’ is another one. It’s a totally awesome evil name, but it’s (hopefully) not something you would name your innocent newborn baby. (My apologies if anyone reading this is named Maleficent – I mean absolutely no offense! But seriously, if this is you, then you should probably have a stern chat with your parents…).

There’s also ‘Cruella de Vil’ – aka, ‘Cruel Devil’ – don’t even get me started on this one! The name says it all!

‘Hannibal Lecter’, ‘Count Dracula’, ‘Frankenstein’… None of these are names you would give a character who you want mentally stable people to fall in love with. Because they honestly sound like evil names!

But then you have characters like ‘Isabella Swan’, which translates into a beautiful (‘Bella’), graceful bird (‘Swan’). I’ve read a few criticisms regarding Stephenie Meyer’s ‘pretty’ name choice, but there’s no denying the fact that we would probably all imagine the protagonist differently if she was named something like… umm… let’s go with ‘Fanny Duck’. (Again, I mean absolutely no offense if this is your name! Eek!). Fanny Duck just doesn’t sound as pretty as Bella Swan. And I can’t imagine the Cullen crew (particularly Emmett) not having a bit of a laugh at her expense if she was named this. You can’t tell me you don’t agree!

‘Harry Potter’ is also an interesting one, because it’s such a nothing name. Harry. Potter. Both extremely common, everyday names, and together they’re about as normal and unassuming as ‘John Smith’ (who just happens to be the lead guy in Pocahontas, BTW).

And what about ‘Huckleberry Finn’? No one’s going to be afraid of a guy called Huckleberry. It’s just not a scary name! The same is true for ‘Pippi Longstocking’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’. In fact, I don’t even know what’s Anne’s surname is – unless it’s actually ‘Of Green Gables’ (which I doubt).

… *Runs off to check Google* …

It’s Anne Shirley, for future reference. But you know what? I probably won’t remember that because as soon as I’ve finished this post I’ll continue only knowing her as ‘Anne of Green Gables’. That’s just more evidence showing how much subliminal power names can have!

Wow. What am I writing about here? I’ve totally gone off on a super-weird tangent…

Umm… Names. Yeah, they’re interesting, huh? I always enjoy naming characters for my stories. I can get really attached to some names, or I can be halfway through a manuscript and decide to change ‘such-and-such’ to ‘so-and-so’. I’ll also sometimes do a heap of research scouring translation websites for relevant descriptions and meanings, but other times I might just pick names that I think sound cool. Case in point, the protagonist in my soon-to-be-published novel, Akarnae, is named ‘Alexandra’, which means ‘defender of mankind’ or ‘protector of mankind’. I also have another character who’s name translates to mean ‘upholder of good’. And as for my bad guy, his first name means ‘wickedness’ and his surname means ‘deceitful’.

So, clearly I did some brainstorming for the main characters in Akarnae. But then there’s another manuscript I’ve written and I did absolutely no name-related-research at all. I just went with names that I liked the sound of (like Markus Zusak!).

I’m going to wrap this up now since I could probably keep talking about this for ages. But let’s just end with this: names can be funny; they can also be interesting, weird, pretty, ugly, descriptive, bland… The list goes on. They just have so much potential! Do you agree, or am I just geeking out a little bit?