Author Interview: Blaine Colton trilogy

For the next couple of posts I thought I’d follow up my latest blog by sharing some more interviews. But this time it’s me being interviewed!

In the interview linked below I’m talking to Wombat Books/Rhiza Press Director, Rochelle Manners, about the Blaine Colton trilogy. This brief chat is a nice prelude to what’s coming next time … but more about that then. 😉

For now, I’ll hand you over to Rochelle.

Author interview: Blaine Colton trilogy & writing with Rochelle Manners

Fit Out

It’s that time of year when many of us are indulging in Christmas feasts and high sugar treats, but for the health conscious amongst the population, like our guest today, good nutrition and fitness is a year-round discipline. In keeping with the health focus of Dr Eddie Jonick and Jett Faraday, two characters from the Blaine Colton trilogy, this post we have something a bit different to previous blogs.

I’m chatting to Matt Betts about nutrition, fitness and bodybuilding. You see, Matt is the Manager of ASN and a Training and Nutrition Coach. This means he makes a living from helping others achieve their fitness goals in life. He’s also a bodybuilder.

So pour yourself a cuppa (or should I say, ‘Get on that treadmill?’), click play on the media link below, and listen up for a bit of fitness fun.

If, after listening to the interview, you’d like to find out more about Matt, you can contact him on his MOB: 0423010300 or via email: allbettsofftraining[at]gmail.com

Thanks, Matt!

A Long Way Home

Did you know that recent statistics reported over 105,000 people as homeless in Australia? Alarmingly, 27% of those people are under 18 years of age, with 16% under 10. (Yes, ten!) Australia isn’t alone in these stats, with many countries seeing staggering numbers of homeless people sleeping on the streets or in non-permanent sleeping arrangements.

Homelessness is confronting, and was on my radar well before I wrote the scenes in Integrate where Blaine, the teenage hero of the novel, finds himself sleeping rough on the streets. Sometimes homelessness can seem an overwhelming issue. Perhaps this is because of its prevalence and the complexity of circumstances that can lead to someone becoming homeless. And the reality is it can happen easier than one might imagine.

Many cases of homelessness slip under the radar, especially couch surfers who may technically have a roof over their head most nights, but have no permanent residence. The impact on those living in transient housing is significant: socially, economically, mentally, physically and more. Consider this for children, who are supposed to go to school and learn, but they don’t even know if they have a bed each night, or even food.

For this reason it’s been great to see so many incentives raising funds and awareness of this issue. This Saturday just gone, our local city held their ‘Hike for the Homeless‘, which is a fundraising opportunity that exists in a number of communities about Australia. Other opportunities that people can get onboard with include ‘Hangout for the homeless‘, ‘Homeless for a Week‘ and ‘Vinnies Community Sleepout‘. Even professionals, like social workers, have taken up similar efforts to bring positive change to this situation. It’s also been great seeing a number of churches about Australia, such as those in the Yarra ranges, opening their doors to the homeless to provide food, shelter, bathroom facilities and hope.

As great as these programs are, when we start thinking of homelessness on a more personal level it can be a little more confronting. It’s one thing to join a collective effort, it’s another thing to look a homeless person in the face and offer them … Well, what can we offer? A coffee, either in person or by paying it forward? A meal? A hug? A donation to ‘Swags for Homeless‘? Or even a room in our home?

As we approach Christmas, the awful reality is a whole bunch of people will be spending it alone, hungry, in old clothes, and with no ready bathroom facilities.

What do you think we can do? Is joining a worthy cause and fundraising enough? Or can we go beyond general kindness to practical steps, like befriending a needy stranger, and bring a little brightness into someone else’s world? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Risky Business

Is there a risk in being loved?

No matter what relationship’s under the microscope, friendship, romance or family, to truly connect we need to become vulnerable. And vulnerability’s risky business.
Anyone who’s read my novels knows relationships are a big theme. Recently I received a review for the first novel in the Blaine Colton trilogy, that perfectly surmised the underpinning issue:

Blaine can’t stop thinking about one night of near heavenly bliss spent with his best friends Sophie and her brother Jett. More time with Sophie tops Blaine’s priorities … and yet … if he is an illegal GMO, will he ever have the right to love and be loved? [Emphasis mine]

I have a theory that self-worth and healthy connection are intimately linked. To clarify, I’m not talking so much about self-esteem, but self-worth, and Dr Christina Hibbert defines this perfectly in her blog ‘the psychologist, the mom & me’:

Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.

One of Blaine’s greatest struggles is believing he’s worthy of love, even of life. This doubt undermines him time and again, at times, tricking him into believing the world and those he cares for might be better off without him. On one hand, he has his adoptive parents telling him he’s been created with great love and care, wonderfully wrought, even before anyone knew of his existence. On the other hand, he’s confronted by the abandonment and rejection of his birth parents, who for a long time he believes dropped him like a steaming potato because of his overwhelming health challenges. (Like anything, it’s more complicated than that.) He longs to have friends, to love and be loved, but his physical imperfections and disabilities often seem an insurmountable obstacle.

What makes him valuable, lovable, in a world that glorifies perfection?

This is gritty stuff. No matter how many times Blaine’s family and friends tell him otherwise, it’s a matter he has to settle for himself. Especially when facing a reality where all he can do is ‘be’.

Although our circumstances may differ from Blaine’s, I suspect this grapple with self-worth is a struggle we all face at one time or another. When self-worth is a pivotal factor for achieving healthy, relationship-appropriate levels of intimacy, it can become a vicious cycle of yearning to let people near then hiding our flaws, or pushing them away so they can’t see how imperfect, unworthy and unlovable we really are.

Perhaps a cultural ideology that focusses so much on self-pride and feeling good about ourselves is a poor exchange for an inherent knowledge of our worth. The fact is, there are times we all mess up, make dumb choices, act out and do stuff that’s just plain unhealthy. It’s pretty hard to feel good then. And then there’s phase two: beating ourselves up because of these mistakes. But does this make us less valuable?

In our head we can tell ourselves it’s not what we do, say, earn, wear or how we look that determines our worth. It’s much harder telling our heart. It’s even harder to risk what someone else might think. Any relationship that goes beyond superficial acquaintance brings a risk of rejection and hurt. But when I think of those I do life with(every bumpy, emotionally warty, physically imperfect one of them 🙂 ) I recognise those who are willing to see beyond my many flaws and journey with me, are the ones who make it their business to remind me of my intrinsic worth.

Are relationships risky business? For sure. But with great risk can come great gain.

Confessions of a Science Geek

Did you know I’m a self-confessed science geek? If you’ve met me, I’m pretty sure you do. In fact, it becomes a little obvious when you read my near-science fiction trilogy (science-based speculative fiction that feels like it could happen now in our modern world) and my current WIP, which is a science fantasy time-slip parallel narrative. What may surprise you is that there have been times I’ve been at reader-writer events and felt like a fish out of water.

What may also surprise you is that science fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. (I know, right?) At some events I not only have to explain what my techno-thriller novels are about, I find myself talking a lot about the genre and where my novels fit. But not this weekend just gone!

Have you heard of Oz Comic-Con? I had, but until science-fiction author friend, Lynne Stringer, and fantasy/science fiction author friend, Jeanette O’Hagan, contacted me, I didn’t realise the event had anything to do with books. How wrong I was—and it’s been a blast.

My enjoyment of this event was for multiple reasons. It was my first Oz Comic-Con and I was there with friends. Writers, if you’re ever going to a new event as an exhibitor, consider sharing your stall (if possible) with an author friend or two in a suitable genre. Not only could we take breaks and cover for each other (we even got to meet & greet with other stall exhibitors), we found if one of us didn’t have the type of story a reader was interested in, the other might, and usually did. The other fantastic factor was the attendees spoke our language!

Now, I’ve been to signings or events where there are heaps of booklovers in attendance, but rarely have I spoken to so many people with an interest in science at a single event, let alone science fiction. In fact, if the attendees who visited our stall weren’t into science fiction, they were into fantasy—or both! Sure, I still had to tell people about my stories, but it was amazing having them so familiar with a genre they’d break in partway to clarify exactly where the novels fit. Some knew just the sort of books they liked and were happy to try a new author like me (or Jeanette or Lynne). (Happy author heart … Love sharing stories with people who are excited about reading them. <3 <3)

The other fantastic factor, and the one that remains the highlight whatever event I’m attending, were the people. SO many new faces and stories (life-stories, that is) and some seriously cool names. And then there were the amazing costumes. Like, wow!

Folks, I think I’ve found my literary tribe. Don’t worry readers, I won’t neglect my other author connections, but honestly, this was serious fun. Next time you’ll have to come along for the ride!