Posts

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BOOK LOVE: The Hunger Games trilogy

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

This mega-selling trilogy is down as YA fiction (as is Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, another of my Book Loves), but I definitely want to read more if this is where YA is at these days. I refrained from this series for a while as I thought the premise sounded pretty macabre. And it is, but after a few recommendations from trusted reader friends, I shook off my reservations and I’m glad I did. From the first chapter, I was completely absorbed in Katniss Everdeen’s journey. I’ve obviously got a thing for dystopian fiction – I love their vivid re-imagined worlds, the fast-paced action, and the exploration of control and subversion. I’m obviously not alone. Why do these stories appeal to so many people, and teenagers in particular? Perhaps it is because there is obvious and terrible injustice in the real world as to how powerful people control and manipulate others, and in these books there is an opportunity of redress by an everyday, ordinary person. The story of Katniss Everdeen might belong to a fantastical world, but I found one of its strongest themes was that there is hope to be found even in the most powerless, grotesque and overwhelming situations.

Beneath the Shadows hits stores in the US and Canada on June 5th

I’m getting more and more excited about the release of Beneath the Shadows in the US and Canada on June 5th, 2012. I’ve already seen some lovely reader reviews from those who have scored advance copies from the publisher, and I’m so happy to be working with a wonderful team at St Martin’s Press, who have done a wonderful job on the book – just check out the beautiful cover for starters. I’m also thrilled to have not one but two New York Times bestselling authors in Heather Gudenkauf and Julia Spencer-Fleming being quoted on the cover. I’ll be writing more in the countdown to release. Meanwhile, a big hello all the way from Western Australia to my American and Canadian readers!

 

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BOOK LOVE: The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

Lexie Sinclair’s life revolves around the Soho art scene of the 1950s, whereas in the present day Elina is struggling with the demands of motherhood. But despite living decades apart, these two women are connected in ways neither could ever have expected.

I have long been a fan of Maggie O’Farrell, as her first book, After You’d Gone, ranks as one of my all-time favourites. In this, her latest work, her writing is mesmeric, and I was captivated from start to finish. Such overt manipulation of narrative voice is difficult to achieve without losing the reader, but O’Farrell is fearless, and as a result The Hand that First Held Mine is a wonderful, unique piece of fiction.

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On pursuing publication

Book pages 1This blog also appeared on the Random House ‘Random Blogs’ website on 9th April 2010

I was recently asked advice on how to become a published writer.

Here’s my take on what it takes:

Originality
In general, the more original your concept, the better. But originality must still be able to be placed within the market. Sometimes what’s original to one person can be just a bit too way out to the next reader, so don’t go too far. Alternatively, you may want to follow a trend – vampires, anyone? – but you still need an original take on it. And you need to get the timing right, so the market isn’t oversaturated by the time you finish your book.

Determination
You have to really want to succeed, be prepared for knockbacks, not get bogged down in them but use them to make you stronger.

Stamina
First of all to finish the book. An enormous feat. Then to go over and over it yourself, figuring out how you can make it better. Then to allow other people to do the same.

Enthusiasm
To learn from those who have been there. Listen to published writers. They can give you so many ideas, and to hear them talk is often inspirational. No one begins life as a published writer, they were all once in unpublished shoes, without exception. Read lots of books. They all have something to inspire you – even if it’s only, ‘I could do better than this!’

Listening skills
Listen to critique. While it’s great to wholly believe in what you have written, it’s also good to remember that your readers might just have a point. Try to look dispassionately at your writing, and pay particular attention if you hear the same comment more than once, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

Insight
Put yourself in a busy publisher’s shoes. They have thirty manuscripts. Four meetings that morning. Which should they pick up? I can guarantee you that it will usually be the one sent with a bit of razzmatazz from an agent. So then perhaps you should find an agent. If you decide to go this route, put yourself in their shoes. They have thirty manuscripts. Four meetings that morning. Which should they pick up? The one that’s double-line spaced, interestingly presented, with a quick-to-grasp concept. And a covering letter that stands out. From someone who phoned or emailed first with a great, succinct pitch (although do check what type of contact each agent prefers before doing this)? Or the single-spaced scruffy sheaf of papers, appended to a meandering cover letter, from a person they’ve never heard of or from. I know which I would choose.

And finally: Passion
For the written word. For writing for writing’s sake, not just for publishing’s sake. Because that joy and commitment will be immediately recognisable to the reader, and there is little more compelling than that.

Pages

My Contribution To Other Blogs

I am sometimes lucky enough to be allowed to write on other people’s sites or blogs. You can check out some of my previous posts by following the links below:

On Writing (10 August 2011) on The Australian Bookshelf

Writer on Tour (14 April 2011) on Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

The literary/commercial fiction divide (14 Feb 2011) on Natasha Lester’s blog http://whilethekidsaresleeping.wordpress.com/

A shifting landscape, a perfect backdrop (13 Feb 2011) on www.lisaheidke.com

Inspiration (9 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Mothering and writing for a living (8 Feb 2011) on http://anjwritesabout.com/

Endings: Beginnings in disguise (4 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Stories within stories (3 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Losing the plot (2 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

The North Yorkshire moors, the perfect setting (1 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

At long last, meet Grace (31 Jan 2011) on The Random Blog

On writing and editing (31 Jan 2011) on http://www.ahthepossibilities.com/

Sara Foster is grateful for… (31  Jan 2011) on http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com/

Breathing Life into Landscapes (4 Nov 2010) on www.fleurmcdonald.com

On pursuing publication (9 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Finding the time to write (8 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Friends and family readers (7 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Your editor is on your side (6 April 2010) on The Random Blog

When characters get minds of their own (5 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Media

MEDIA

To see reviews of All That is Lost Between Us, click here.

To see reviews of Shallow Breath, click here.

To see reviews of Beneath the Shadowsclick here.

To see reviews of Come Back to Meclick here.

Links to author interviews and general articles:

The Wonders of Research, Write Note Reviews, Jan 2016

What Lies Beneath: Interview with Sara Foster, Rowena Holloway, Jan 2016

The Psychology of Georgia, Book Muster Down Under, Jan 2016

AusRom Today’s Must Read list 2016, Jan 2016

Teen’s Secret Anguish: The West Australian, Jan 2016

‘Deep Connections’: Interview with An Adventure in Reading, Mar 2013

Interview with The Musings of Monique, Mar 2013

Interview with The Australian Bookshelf, Feb 2013

Interview with The Reading Room, Feb 2013

Interview with 1Girl2ManyBooks, Feb 2013

Q&A with Book Muster Down Under, Feb 2013

‘Sara Foster visits deep, dark places for her third novel’, The Examiner/Skinny Cap with Two Sugars, Jan 2013

Interview with Book’d Out, Dec 2012

Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest ‘bales up’ Sara Foster, Dec 2012

Interview with Write Note Reviews, May 2012

Interview with The Examiner (WA), 2 May 2012 (and on Skinny Cap with Two Sugars)

Interview with Auslit’s Authors Compare site, October 2011 (on setting)

Interview with thereadingroom.com, October 2011

Interview with Monica Kade at Career Confessions, May 2011

Sydney Writers’ Centre podcast (Beneath the Shadows), April 2011

Recommendation on www.shesaid.com.au, April 2011

Interview with Colosoul (Independent Youth Magazine), April 2011

Interview with femail.com.au, April 2011

Interview with Aimee Burton at Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars (a Boomerang Books blog), March 2011

Interview with The Australian Literature Review, 16 February 2011

Interview with Claire Williams at Flourish online magazine, 11 February 2011

‘Online extras add to thriller’s mystery’, North Coast Times, 1st February 2011
(www.inmycommunity.com.au)

Sara Foster answers Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions

Sydney Writers’ Centre podcast (Come Back to Me), March 2010

Interview with www.chicklitclub.com, February 2010

‘Sara turns over a new page in Perth’, North Coast Times, 2 February 2010 (www.inmycommunity.com.au)

‘Perth helps to bring out the creativity in author’, West Australian, 2 February 2010

Links to my blogs elsewhere:

I am sometimes lucky enough to be invited to write on other people’s sites or blogs. You can check out my guest posts by following the links below:

New Year, New Beginnings (14 January 2013) on Fiona Palmer’s website

Researching Shallow Breath (29 November 2012) on Nicole Alexander’s website

On Writing (10 August 2011) on The Australian Bookshelf

Writer on Tour (14 April 2011) on Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

The literary/commercial fiction divide (14 Feb 2011) on Natasha Lester’s blog http://whilethekidsaresleeping.wordpress.com/

A shifting landscape, a perfect backdrop (13 Feb 2011) on www.lisaheidke.com

Inspiration (9 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Mothering and writing for a living (8 Feb 2011) on http://anjwritesabout.com/

Endings: Beginnings in disguise (4 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Stories within stories (3 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Losing the plot (2 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

The North Yorkshire moors, the perfect setting (1 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

At long last, meet Grace (31 Jan 2011) on The Random Blog

On writing and editing (31 Jan 2011) on http://www.ahthepossibilities.com/

Sara Foster is grateful for… (31  Jan 2011) on http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com/

Breathing Life into Landscapes (4 Nov 2010) on www.fleurmcdonald.com

On pursuing publication (9 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Finding the time to write (8 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Friends and family readers (7 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Your editor is on your side (6 April 2010) on The Random Blog

When characters get minds of their own (5 April 2010) on The Random Blog