Feb 18, 2010

Author Interview: Chrissie Michaels (Aussie Month Post)

(from internationalpubmarket.com):
Chrissie Michaels is a tree-changer who has happily settled into a country lifestyle. Her favourite pastimes are growing enough vegies for family and friends to share, and going for long strolls on the nearby beaches. She spends the rest of her time as a freelance writer, as well as teaching part time at the local secondary school. Born in Lancashire, England, she arrived in Australia aged six and grew up in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Her published work includes short stories, poetry, children’s fiction and educational texts. In Lonnie’s Shadow is her first young adult novel.

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1. When and how did you start writing?

I’ve been writing for about fifteen years now. First up I started writing short stories as a hobby. I guess over the years my interest in history has won out. In Lonnie’s Shadow is my second ‘historical’ novel, although it is my first novel for young adults.
My other historical novel is for children based on the French explorer, Lapérouse and his tragic voyage in 1788. This is part of the Australian My Story series by Scholastic Australia called On Board the Boussole, the diary of Julienne Fulbert (written as Christine Edwards). I love the researching aspect of writing historical pieces. I also enjoy writing across of a range of genres and structures – sci fi and history being the main genres – in the forms of short story, poetry, news articles, some teacher texts and two novels on the go at the moment. I also enjoy writing picture storybook texts. Keeps me busy.

2. Could you tell me a bit about your novel?

In Lonnie’s Shadow is due out in May 2010, published by Ford Street Publishing (Australia). It’s been a long novel in the making, written over six years, but it has been a labour of love. The inspiration for this novel first came from several archaelogical digs on a site in Melbourne, Australia, called Little Lon. There followed a wonderful display of artefacts in Museum Victoria. Those items insisted on telling their own stories. Little Lon was known in the 19th century for its vice and criminality, except the digs had uncovered something that hadn’t been known before about this area – that it had a real community of ordinary working families and it had been settled by a range of newly arrived immigrants. The characters and plot grew from there.

Set in 1891, Lonnie, Pearl, Daisy and Carlo are four teenagers who are trying to make a fair go of life, although many things are conspiring to make their life difficult. Who can they rely on? How hard is it to keep a secret? Or a promise? There’s plenty of action as the characters find themselves facing many hot spots – theft and kidnap, gang warfare and murder - and they have to make some pretty serious choices. It’s a pacy book with lots of action.

3. What inspires your writing? Are there any authors who particularly influence your work?

History as you can plainly see is my first love. But I do try to read widely. Because I’ve just been on holiday, I’ve been relaxing with Margaret Atwood (her story about the Mulvaneys), as well as rediscovering Fay Weldon whose satire I find terrifically funny. Last week I read a disturbing biography about a Chinese/Australian woman’s fight for freedom because of her beliefs in Falun Gong. I’m also reading around my interest in family history at the moment as I’ve been mapping our family tree.

4. What are you working on now? (if you're working on something).

One of the novels I am working on at the moment is related to the work I have been doing on the family tree. There are characters appearing who seem to be stepping out very boldly, particularly a twelve-year-old boy who seems pretty mischievous. My working title is Uphill, both sides. I have a feeling it is going to turn into an epic!

a. Do you write with music on or off? Have you ever made a "writing playlist"? (a playlist you listened to while writing certain book) If so, share it!

Right now I’m listening to Melody Gardot. I’m also partial to Eva Cassidy, Diana Krall and Norah Jones. A bit of slow jazz…

5. Name 3 (they can be more or less) books from last year that you loved/really liked.

Three YA books that have lingered in my mind this past year are: Justin D’Ath’s Pool (also by Ford Street Publishing) because it was a great read; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas because it was a tragic holocaust story that touched me deeply; Shaun Tan’s The Arrivals because he creates such wonderful wordscapes through his visual imagery and I adore picture story books.

6. What Aussie YA author(s) do you think people should read more of? (Authors that most of us don't know, since we don't live in AU, and it's hard for us to get ahold of their books).

Sonya Hartnett stories are dark but so poetic. I like Catherine Jinks whose Pagan crusade stories are pretty good. Here comes the historical aspect yet again! I see she has just published a vampire story based on a ‘vampire therapy group’ and I plan to read it very soon. I always read Tim Winton’s stories but sometimes struggle with the dark motives of his characters. Nevertheless he is a national treasure and therefore a must read. Recently I also enjoyed Richard Flanagan’s Wanting and its mix of characters –the tragic story of an indigenous Australian girl and a storyline that took in Charles Dickens. Gail Jones is another author I enjoy who often mixes her characters in the same way, by intertextualising characters from literature or history. Seems I can’t escape from those historical characters.

The discovered artifacts from an archaeological dig in Melbourne become the backdrop for this story about a group of teenagers in 1891 who are struggling to make their way in a world that seems to be conspiring against them whichever way they turn.
Lonnie McGuinness knows only one thing for sure – there doesn’t seem to be any fairness in life for him or his mates. So he decides to take matters into his own hands. But when does a favour turn into a crime? And when should a secret no longer be kept?

Chrissie Michaels
In Lonnie’s Shadow
Published by Ford Street Publishing
Out May 2010

Pre-Order in Amazon

3 monkey thought (s):

Mary Ann DeBorde said...

Hi Ella :)

I'm just dropping by from vvb32 to wish you a Belated Happy Valentine's Day and to visit your blog!

That was a TERRIFIC interview, and now I'm adding Chrissie Michaels books to my TBR list (which is long enough to circle the globe LOL).

It is a pleasure to meet you and I'm going to add The Clock Monkey to my Google Friends =)

Tim Moon said...

Hey there! Great interview. Actually, I'd like to invite you to submit this to my blog carnival - The Compendium of Conversation.

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

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