Candle Iron, by Sally Odgers

Allyso of Torm is nearly fourteen, but doesn’t look older than eleven. Even those who know her have trouble remembering her age. Yet Allyso is the heir to Torm, and knows she will one day have to lead as Merritt, her uncle, does now.

Merritt is known for his generosity and good nature, but this generosity is pushed too far when a stranger comes to their home. Soon the castle is under siege and Merritt is dying, cursed by the very stranger he so generously gave lodging.

Only the Gem of Time can save Torm and its inhabitants, but Allyso is the only one with opportunity to leave the castle and find the gem, and the sorcerer who can use it, The Master of Time. Does this slip of a girl have the courage and the strength to survive this dangerous quest and save Merritt and her inheritance?

Candle Iron is an outstanding fantasy novel, combining the best elements of the genre – a quest, an adventure, strange and unknown lands, and a satisfying ending. It is little wonder that author Sally Odgers was the recent recipient of the Aurealis Award for Best Long Fiction (Children’s) for this novel.

Although not a sequel, Candle Iron is set in the same reality as two of Ms Odgers earlier books, Amy Amaryllis and Shadowdancers. Though billed as a young adult title, the book will appeal to fantasy lovers of all ages.

Candle Iron, by Sally Odgers
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), 2001.

Knightfall by Sally Odgers

When Simon’s stepmother gives him three choices for the holidays, none of them appeal very much. She says he can find a useful job, take up a creative activity or join his stepsister Reba’s swimming club. At first there seems little option but the third, but Simon dreads going to the pool with Reba and the girls.

So when a stranger offers him another choice – the chance to do something useful by exercising his pony – Simon jumps at the chance. After all, how difficult can it be.

Simon soon learns just how difficult the task he is given can be. From the time he gets on to the horse, things turn weird. One minute he’s a boy riding a horse, the next he’s been transported to the land of Bravena, a land of dragons and damsels knights and kings.

The residents of this strange land believe Simon is a brave knight, sent to be their champion and defeat the dragons. The dragons in turn think he is there to help them. And all Simon wants is to get home safely.

Knightfall is the first in a new humorous trilogy by talented Australian author Sally Odgers. Part of the Tadpole label from Koala Books, Knightfall is suitable for independent readers aged 9 and over.

Sally Odgers is an award winning writer of numerous books for readers of all ages. She lives in Tasmania. Other Koala books by Ms Odgers include Guess My Friends, The Ringmaster and The Case of the Disappearing Dog. The second book in the reluctant Knight trilogy, Knight Errand will be released in late 2002.

LINKS
Visit Koala Books at www.koalabooks.com
Visit Sally Odgers at www.sallyodgers.com

The Australian Guide to the Internet, by Tony Stevenson

If you are reading this review, then you probably already have basic internet skills – you have, after all, connected to the ‘net, opened a browser and typed in the URL, http://www.aussiereviews.com (or, alternately, clicked on a link from an email or other website). Having these skills, however, does not mean that The Australian Guide to the Internet is not for you. This book is packed full of useful information for internet users of all abilities and experience levels.

Expert Tony Stevenson provides a concise explanation of the many facets of the internet in easy to follow language, suitable for even the least tech-savvy reader. The first part of the book is geared towards the novice internet user, providing a basic history of the internet, and going to explain how to connect to, and use, the net, including finding an ISP and setting up . Part Two continues in this vein, introducing novices to using a browser, communicating via email, and using newsgroups and mailing lists.

With the essentials covered, parts three and four of the book delve a little deeper into the wonders of the web, dealing with effective searching, downloading files and software, and using the net for entertainment. For those wary of using the internet for shopping, there is a whole chapter devoted to the hows and whys of online shopping, including security issues.

The final two parts of the book deal with creating a web presence, through starting your own web site, and avoiding net nasties such as viruses. For parents the chapter about protecting your kids online will be invaluable.

Throughout the book, Stevenson’s clear explanations are aided by screen shots, simple exercises and web references to get more out of the internet experience. The book is a must for all Australian internet users and would make a great gift idea for a computer novice.

The Australian Guide to the Internet
, by Tony Stevenson
Prentice Hall, 2000

Interview With Beverly Paine, Author of The Chimaera Conspiracy

Aussiereviews spoke to new author Beverly Paine about her new novel The Chimaera Conspiracy This is what she had to say.

AUSSIE REVIEWS: How does it feel to see your first novel in print?

BEVERLY PAINE: I am trying not to get over-excited and to take it in my stride, but every one around me, all my friends and family are over the moon. It’s a relief, after all the hard work, to finally hold the novel in my hand, but I haven’t read more than a few pages yet myself. The cover illustration by Perry Mallet is beautiful, just what I imagined. My lifelong ambition was to write science fiction novels and now it’s realised. I like that.

AR: The Chimarea Conspiracy has both an interesting setting and a controversial topic. Where did the idea come from?

BP: My interest in genetic engineering and cloning stems from my adolescent years. I was an avid science fiction writer, but over the last ten years I have followed the scientific developments with interest. The actual idea to set the story underwater came from encouraging my children to enter a short story competition staged by Lego as a promotion of their new Aquazone sets several years ago. As a child one of my favourite television shows was Marineboy, about a boy who could breathe underwater. The Chimaera Conspiracy is a blend of many ideas, nurtured over a lifetime.

AR: Tell us the story of The Chimarea Conspiracy ‘s creation – the process from first idea to publishing. Was it easy?

I began writing in 1995 and worked on the story off and on. Initially I wrote it using a third person and past tense and spent a lot of time working out the back story and the history of the characters. As the story grew I thought I had a trilogy on my hands. I rewrote and polished the first manuscript endlessly, and changed to first person, then finally sent it out to publishers in 1999. It was rejected by one publisher because they didn’t do series, but Jill Morris from Greater Glider Productions read it and offered a contract. Jill suggested a few changes, including a change of tense. Reworking the first chapter in present tense tightened up the story, and brought the main action in the second novel, already written, into the first in a way that surprised and delighted me.

I have learned a great deal about the craft of writing during the process of writing this novel. I think it is the hardest thing I have ever done, the most frustrating and the most exhilarating. I’ve plunged into the depths of depression, doubting myself as a writer, when faced with rewriting major sections; glided on wings of excitement and joy when it all worked well and new ideas or ‘perfect’ sentences appeared on the page; and impatiently waited out writer’s blocks – one went for six months after a major character unexpectedly wrote himself into the story! Greater Glider have worked patiently with me for over two years to produce the best story we could.

AR: As an experienced home school educator, do you have suggestions about how The Chimarea Conspiracy could be used for lessons in literature or other curriculum areas?

BP: I’d like to see young people explore where Katya, Coen and Edan go next – do they keep their heritage a secret and hide from the world, or do they declare their uniqueness and use their extraordinary abilities to help society? What would be the consequences of either action? There is great scope to explore the moral and ethical implications involved with human genetic engineering in the classroom. If my book excites young people to write stories of their own I would be very happy.

AR: Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers of young adult fiction?

Don’t spend too much time worrying about publishing during the writing process. Barbara Kingsolver said close the door and write with no one looking over your shoulder. Resist the temptation to put the work ‘out there’, even for feedback from family and friends, until you’re finished the first draft. Don’t even talk about the main ideas or characters unless you really need to – keep the energy bottled up for the fingers to use when playing on the keyboard or on the page.

The Chimaera Conspiracy, by Beverly Paine

My back aches and my body is numb from the vibration of the shuttle’s engines. I lock my right calf muscle, stretch my cramped legs and wince, flexing my foot to alleviate the pain. I’m hurting inside and out. It’s not fair. I don’t want to live on Aquadome.

Katya has never felt as if she belongs – not even in her own family. But at least living on the farm with her Aunt she has known some peace.

Now everything is about to change – she and her siblings are joining her parents in the Aquadome, an underwater research colony. Although she loves her parents, Katya does not want to go, without really understanding why. It has something to do with the dreams she often has – dreams so real she wonders if they are memories. She also hears voices in her head, voices she doesn’t understand.

At the dome, Katya comes into contact with some unusual people – first there’s the head of security, Jerome, who Katya doesn’t trust. Then there’s Coen, the strange boy who can swim with the dolphins.

Between them, these two sweep Katya up into a startling chain of events. As Katya fights for her own life and that of her new friends, she also embarks on a journey of discovery, learning secrets about her past she could never have guessed at.

The Chimaera Conspiracy is an outstanding new young adult novel by Australian author Beverly Paine. Ms Paine hails from South Australia and has previously published books and pamphlets on home schooling.

The Chimaera Conspiracy is part of the successful Storm Glider series of young adult fiction published by Greater Glider Productions.

The Chimaera Conspiracy, by Beverly Paine
Greater Glider, 2002, rrp (AUD) $14.30
ISBN 0947304525

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, by Martine Murray

Cedar avoids the main swell of action in her street, and drifts instead towards the puddles. In Cedar’s puddle there’s Cedar, who’d really like to be called Lana Munroe since it has a famous kind of ring to it, her friend Caramella Zito, who lives opposite and Ricci, a fifty year old Yugoslavian lady.

But suddenly, things seem to change. Maybe it’s because her dog Stinky disappears, or maybe it started back when her brother Barnaby ran away. Either way, things change. Cedar meets a boy called Kite, who swings from trees and does hand springs.

Now her puddle is bigger and more complicated. As well as Kite, there’s his father Ruben, who used to be in the circus, his friend Oscar, who wobbles, and his mother, who has run off with a man called Howard.

There are also new experiences – learning balances and tumbles with Kite, attending Oscar’s birthday party, trying to run away. And, when Ricci’s dog needs an operation, Cedar finds herself organising a circus to raise the money needed.

Told in the delightful first-person narrative of Cedar herself, The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life) is an outstanding debut novel from Australian author Martine Murray. Young Cedar’s take on life provides both humour and insight.

Martine Murray is the talented author and illustrator of the acclaimed picture books A Moose Called Mouse and A Dog Called Bear. She has studied art, writing, acrobatics and dance and live sin Melbourne. She says that this book is “about belonging exactly as you are, without having to tone down or change.”

The Slightly True Story of Cedar Blue Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life), by Martine Murray.
Allen and Unwin, 2002.

Kookaburra School, by Jill Morris

There was a great chuckling and chortling, gurgling and cackling, as all the kookaburras of the tribe gathered together in a little forest at the top of a hill for Kookaburra school.

The kookaburra parents are all bringing their children to be tutored by Wise Old Bird in the ways of the kookaburra – take offs, landing, hunting for food and all manner of other important skills. BigEye isn’t so sure that he needs to go to kookaburra school, but his sister and parents convince him it is necessary, so off he goes.

At kookaburra school Big Eyes, his friends Blue Tail and Stripe and the other fledglings learn Pecking up Worms, Fast, Straight and Low Flying, Calls and Sitting still. They also learn to huddle together on a high branch before sunset, to be safe from danger.

But one afternoon, just before sunset, BigEyes chases a snake into the shed. The snake disappears, and BigEyes finds himself trapped behind cold hard glass. He has to spend the night trapped alone in the shed. How will he get out?

Kookaburra School, by Jill Morris, is a fictional story based on a real event at Jill’s home. One morning she found a kookaburra trapped in her studio, and rescued it. Later she watched a large group of kookaburras meeting in the forest near her home.

The delightful illustrations of Heather Gall make an excellent complement to this story, suitable for reading aloud to preschoolers and independent reading by six to eight year olds.

Kookaburra School, by Jill Morris
Greater Glider Productions, 2002. rrp $14.30

Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck

Emma remembers when the farm was full of thick, green grass and fat, happy sheep. But now there’s a drought and there’s just dust and dead or dying sheep. She knows she has three choices – she can make it rain, she can invent a stock feed that doesn’t need water, or she can make money.

So make money it is, but somehow Emma’s money making schemes don’t seem to work out like she plans. When she tries carving sheep bones for scrimshaw, she ends up with a bag of maggots, and when she decides to make coats out of dead mice, she ends up with hundreds of mouldy mice.

Somehow, Emma is going to help pay the bills and stop her parents from sending her to boarding school, but things seem to be going from bad to worse. The final straw is when they get invaded by locusts. Something has to give. Strangely, it is the arrival of these locusts which provide a humorous, if surprising, change in fortune.

Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck, with illustrations by Dale Leach, will tickle the funny bone of eight to twelve year old readers, whilst also touching on the serious problems of the farming life.

Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck
Greater Glider Productions, 2002.

A Taste

My next idea came from TV. An animal sanctuary in the city which was about to go bust convinced local businesses to sponsor the animals. For their money a business got a sign wired onto a cage, saying how wonderful they were. I figured that if there were people in the city willing to pay for a wombat or a kangaroo, there were bound to be people willing to pay for a starving sheep.

I wanted to help people to see my vision, so I invented some satisfied customers. I needed them quickly…

The Australian Writer's Marketplace 2002

As if the writing process wasn’t difficult enough, once you have produced your brilliant novel, your outstanding script or your insightful article, you then need to find someone to publish it. For Australian writers, this process is made a little easier by The Australian Writer’s Marketplace. The 2002 edition is now available and, as always, is full of useful information for both aspiring and established writers.

Compiled by author, journalist and writing teacher Rhonda Whitton, the book’s subtitle is The Complete Guide to Being Published in Australia. As well as listing thousands of markets, the book contains useful advice from published writers on both the writing process and getting published. There are essays about writing for the web (Christine Davey), characterisation (Sydney Smith) , manuscript presentation (Rhonda Whitton) and more, including the winning entry in the 2002 Writer’s Marketplace Essay Competition.

Market information includes an extensive listing of magazine and journals, newspapers, script markets and publishers, with contact details, submission information, payment rates, editorial tips and so on. Web site addresses are given for those publishers who have a web presence. Of course, the publishing world is ever changing, so writers are always advised to check details before sending submissions

Other information given includes listings of agents and manuscript appraisal services, literary organisations, writing contests, literary courses and events.

The Marketplace is an excellent resource for the aspiring writer who, although possibly not ready to submit, can explore the many different markets to aim for, as well as making contact with useful organisations and perhaps trying their hand at some of the many literary contests available. For the more experienced writer, the book is a useful source for checking contact details of intended markets as well as finding new ones to explore.

The 2002 edition of The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is available direct from the publisher or from all good bookshops, for (AUD)$42.95.

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace, Compiled and Edited by Rhonda Whitton
Bookman, 2001.

Tev, by Brendan Murray

My parents call me Tev, usually, and Tevita when they’re annoyed with me. There’s been a lot of ‘Tevita’ lately. That’s the reason I’m being packed off to my mum’s family in Tonga, to ‘sort me out’, get rid of a few demons,’ as Dad put it.

Just before his fifteenth birthday, Tev finds himself on a plane bound for Tonga, to stay with his extended family, whom he hasn’t met before. His mother is Tongan and his father Australian, meaning that Tev often feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. In Australia he’s a ‘Choco’, but when he lands in Tonga he stands out as not being the same as other Tongans.

Despite this, his family are delighted to see him – his Uncle Maka, his grandfather Pita, and numerous cousins, all hug him and welcome him into their family life. He is also welcomed by Siale, a beautiful friend of the family who he admires from afar.

Yet, welcomes aside, life in Tonga is not always laid back and simple. He clashes with another family friend, Tui, and has to deal with the culture shock of a whole different way of life, not to mention the forces of a destructive cyclone, a death in the family, his growing feelings for Siale, and more.

Tev is an outstanding story of coming of age, of dealing with being different, and of adventure. It will appeal to both boys and girls of fourteen and over.

Bendan Murray is a Western Australian-born teacher of English, currently based on Christmas Island. Tev is his first novel.

Tev, by Brendan Murray
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002