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

Activate Interview By Book

Cross-Post from Just Write for Kids!

December last year I got to share details of my new book Activate on the ‘Just Write for Kids’ #InterviewByBook blog. This was such a fun interview. I thought I’d repost it on my site so those of you who missed it could enjoy it too. For all those who write for children and young adults, make sure you pop over to the ‘Just Write for Kids’ site for some great resources on kids lit.

#InterviewByBook with Adele Jones
Posted on December 28, 2016 by Just Write For Kids
Title: Activate
Author: Adele Jones
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: Rhiza Press (YA/Adult imprint of Aussie children’s publisher Wombat Books)
Genre: Techno-crime thriller
Age Group: Young adult (13+)

Please tell us a bit of what your book is about.
Activate is the final book in the Blaine Colton trilogy. The teenage hero, Blaine, is a survivor of a genetic disorder, thanks to some pretty cool gene therapy. Activate begins with Blaine living a secret life to protect him from enemies he’s made in the previous two novels. He’s lonely, unwell, and over being isolated from his friends and family, so he decides to ‘bend’ the rules … just a little. Things rapidly tumble out of control, leaving Blaine in a desperate situation. Will he survive? Will justice be served? Well, you’ll have to read the novel to find out. 😉

What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?
The underpinning theme of the trilogy is ‘What determines the measure of a person’s worth?’ These novels perhaps ask more questions than they answer, but by experiencing the world through Blaine’s eyes, readers are encouraged to consider issues relating to bioethics and intellectual property, disability, adoption, faith, values, self-worth, loss and relationships (family, friends and romantic).

How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?
Although Blaine’s background may be different to ours, in life we all face personal challenges that require us to decide many of these issues for ourselves. These themes are interconnected, and I think the significance of this becomes clearer as Blaine tackles obstacles from corrupt medical researchers, members of an international crime syndicate, to his own failing body. Previously, he’s been unable to decide most things for himself, his illness forcing him to be entirely reliant on the choices, actions and opinions of others. Finally he can choose for himself, but with that choosing comes the weight of responsibility and the realisation that even if life isn’t perfect, you’ve got to make the most of the opportunities you have.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?
The premise ‘what if science could’ was sparked by a discussion with a friend about the illness of a member of their family. When every question was answered with ‘it’s complicated’ I couldn’t help investigating the disease for myself. With a background in science, my mind kept tumbling around the information I’d learned about mitochondrial disease (and there’s always more being discovered), until the outline for Integrate came together. I wasn’t writing the story about the young man who sparked the initial conversation, and had invented a fictional ‘different from what’s been seen before’ scenario for Blaine, but I also wanted to acknowledge his contribution. With the blessing of his family I placed an acknowledgement in the front of the first novel, from which the trilogy grew.

What is your favourite part of the book?
Oh, that’s hard! Blaine’s such a cool character to write. He’s got a healthy dose of teenage attitude and independence, and a good sense of humour, even though life hasn’t been easy for him. In such a fast-paced story with so many facets, I don’t know if can narrow down a very favourite part of the story, sorry.

How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?
Rhiza Press have been wonderful throughout the publication process. Given this was the third in the trilogy with a definite release date one year after Replicate, the process was a little different to the first two novels. I had a clear timeline of when each stage needed to be completed, and Rhiza’s very reliable when it comes to dates. I did have a little ‘oh my goodness’ moment when I realised the publisher’s key assistant-cum-internal editor was going away to Europe smack bang during the finalisation of the manuscript, but we got there—well ahead of schedule, in fact.

What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator?
Juicy gossip, please! Given I don’t have illustrations, I’m going to defer to cover design. I was very fortunate to have a handsome young man (who happened to fit Blaine’s features fantastically) model for the cover. The photo shoot team are a great bunch and we had lots of fun getting the images. Rhiza browsed the photos from the shoot, selecting the one they felt best suited their requirements, before doing the graphics work on it. (All the pretty bits.)

What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?
I’ve been holding my breath since the novel’s release. Replicate was very well received, but it also had a cliff hanger ending. (Cue ‘hurry up and get the next book out’ mail.) I even had some readers who wouldn’t read Replicate until they knew Activate was available. Given how popular Replicate had been, I felt a little anxious over how Activate would be received, especially as the story has quite a different feel for very plausible reasons relating to the plot. Thus far the reviews have been very positive. (Phew!)

What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?
Integrate has found its way into a few high schools as a class novel, and it has quite inclusive teaching notes supporting it. I’m still working on the notes for Replicate and will begin Activate’s once these are done. A lot of the exercises in the Integrate notes relate to the themes and values (ethics, IP, disability, self-worth etc) presented through the novel, particularly Blaine’s situation and the motivation of those vying for ownership over his ultimate outcome. Given the common themes across the books, many activities in the Integrate notes could relate to all three novels.
I’ve pasted an activity from the notes below. This one’s often used in psychology applications and I sometimes include a variation of this as part of my characterisation workshops.
At the top of a fresh page ask students to write the heading, ‘I am …’ In one or two minutes have them write down as many things as they can in response to this prompt. At the end have students: – Mark each statement as positive, negative or neutral.
– Ask, ‘If I [teacher] were to collect and read these lists, what would it tell me about you?’ (self-esteem, body image, relationships, etc)
– Ask, ‘If the lists were to be read aloud, is there anything you would change?’
– Ask students to consider their ratings (+ve, -ve, neutral) and reflect on why they’ve assigned them to the respective statements.
– Can they identify any overarching themes?

Do you have a book trailer for your book?
Please share. Only for Integrate, unfortunately. (I’ll put the link here, but am hoping to have ones for Replicate and Activate in the near future.)

Any details on your book launch you’d like to tell us about?
The book launch was held at our local library and was lots of fun. It involved questions about bedpans, kissing people with beards and making a face on a balloon using the hands of someone else (who couldn’t see what they were doing). All relevant activities. (Truly, they were.) Oh, and we had readings, some Q&A about the novel, book signings and a hearty morning tea brought together by my amazing ‘Quirky Quills’ writing group.

Please let us know where we can find more on you and your book.
My website is:
Rhiza’s website is:
Activate on Goodreads:
And don’t forget good ol’ Dr Google ‘Adele Jones Blaine Colton’

Thanks for sharing your story, Activate, with us, Adele!

Adele Jones is a Queensland based, award winning author. She writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fiction short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and a ‘real job’ in the field of science. Her first YA novel ‘Integrate’ was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit or contact[@]



Blood Crystal Blog Tour

How exciting to be a part of the blog tour for new release Blood Crystal by Jeanette O’Hagan. I trust you’ve been following along and collecting your scavenger hunt clues (check below for details and today’s clue), along with prizes offered by host authors along the way.

Following on from David Rawling’s tour blog, today I have the privilege of interviewing secondary character from Blood Crystal, Lady Zara. Let’s make her feel welcome.

Lady Zara, thank you for agreeing to speak about the recent events below the mountain. It must be difficult living under the rule of Overseer Havilah, as the daughter of the conquered former leader, Uzza. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask some questions. I’ll take your haughty nod as permission. No need to glare.

Question one. Overseer Havilah seems to have some ‘interesting’ family dynamics to manage with her sons. What do you think of her as a leader? Does she have the best intentions for the Earthbiter people, or is she swayed too much by the opinions of her boys, especially Putarn?

What do you mean ‘Earthbiter’? Such a strange and rude term. And don’t talk to me about Havilah, a common toolwun with ideas above her station and capabilities. Though you are right about those sons of hers, especially that Putarn – such an unimpressive fellow with a scrappy beard and unpleasant manner, always with an angry scowl. His ideas are simply ludicrous.

Apologies for seeming rude. I’d heard the Forest Folk use this term and thought … well … perhaps we’d best move onto question two. Scrybe Barekia, who repaired the Crystal Heart during your father’s … ah … strategic retreat, seems to have doubts about the crystal’s continued function. Now there are rumours of a sacrifice being required of the ‘true seed’. What do you make of this?

Well! I have no idea what this nonsense is about the ‘true seed’, but both my honoured father and grandfather made it clear that sacrifices are needed to appease the Dark Ones and keep the Crystal Heart functioning. Unpleasant as the thought is, it is surely better than the whole realm dying? I’m not at all surprised these upstarts are having difficulties. When my father puts them in their place, he’ll get the Heart working again.

Oooookay … that seems somewhat … alarming, I mean … Question three. The Prentice twins, Delvina and Retza, often seem to find themselves in the middle of trouble. In fact, I understand Retza’s been quite the hero as far as you’re concerned. What do you think of the twins and their quest to find answers from the Forest Folk?

So they are twins are they? They do seem common and rather blunt, but Retza did defend me and my little brother Jesson against that horrid Javot’s treachery. Excuse me a moment. It was rather distressing incident. Yes, a sip of water would be welcome. Mind you, I was getting the best of Javot. I am quite capable of defending myself and my brother. Still, Retza’s intervention was timely. Some might find him nice-looking and strong for a common prentice.

That wasn’t quite the version I heard from—

As for seeking help from the Forest Folk, going outside the mountain tunnels is unheard of. Even if it’s possible, it seems foolish and perilous. My grandfather warned of the dangers of the outsiders and their covetous eyes on our wealth, which is why he closed off our realm many years ago and forbade all talk of the outside.

I see. Question four. You might remember Forest dweller, Zadeki, from his brief time under the mountain when he was brought there by the twins after being injured. How do you feel about Zadeki and his capacity to shape-shift? Do you think his people will be able to offer answers to help repair the heart? Is this something that worries you?

Is that what that freakish, silver-skinned stranger was called? Zadeki? An outlandish name and so tall, but no chin hairs to speak of. I do remember him transforming into a horrid, big, furry creature with giant paws and great big teeth in the Sunken Temple. Jaguar, my father called it. It gives me nightmares to think of it.

Frankly, I am a little worried. I doubt such savage people could help us and what if they decide to come back to eat us all and steal our treasures? But then, such a foolhardy mission to the outside will surely fail. And, any day now, my father will come back and restore everything to how it should be.

I see. Well, thanks for your time, Lady Zara. I’ll let you get back to … whatever it is you do now you’re a guarded prisoner of the new order.

You are welcome, I suppose. I look after my poor injured brother and think of ways we can escape to my father. I’m not at all concerned with these petty people, certainly not young prentices like Retza.

Blood Crystal Scavenger Hunt (clue #7 below!) will run throughout the Blood Crystal Blog Tour. Each blog will have a reflection or memory related to themes within Blood Crystal – and a related question. The first person to answer all NINE questions correctly will win a $50 Amazon voucher. The runner up will receive copies of both Heart of the Mountain and the sequel Blood Crystal. Follow each post on the blog tour to find the questions & list your answers in the comments on the final blog post of the tour on 28 July.

Next tour blog stop is Adam Collings (Adam does cool stuff like video interviews). Don’t forget there’s also opportunity to win prizes at each blogspot, including this one!

Scavenger Hunt Clue #7: My current work in progress is a YA slipstream sci-fi fantasy novel, parallelling the lives of two young people from different centuries through a peculiar connection. A significant portion of the historical story revolves around mining in Queensland. Mining ventures must entail management of toxic by-products, which historically has not always been done well. An Australian example of an undesirable mining legacy is the pollution of Dee River. What is the name of the mine associated with this environmental disaster?

Blog Post Prize Opportunity: Comment on this post for your chance to receive a copy of one of my YA techno-thriller Blaine Colton trilogy novels, either Integrate, Replicate or Activate – winner (one person who comments who will be randomly selected) gets to choose which novel they receive.

Bio: Jeanette O’Hagan has published fantasy novellas, including Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal, short stories and poems published in various Anthologies, including Tied in Pink Romance Anthology (profits from the anthology go towards Breast Cancer research); Poetica Christi’s Inner Child; Brio anthology, Another Time Another Place, Let the Sea Roar, Glimpses of Light and Plan Australia’s Like a Girl. She has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology. She cares for her Family, has a Masters of Arts (Writing) from Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad’s fantasy fiction series. You can read some of her short fiction here
connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or amazon or at or Jeanette O’Hagan Writes.

Core Strength

Redwood2_AdjA character’s quest lies at the heart of any story, with their journey of change driving the plot as they face obstacles to achieving their ultimate desire. One thing that will undermine any character we write is a lack of consistency and a lack of believability. But ever since a recent family holiday in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, there’s something else I’ve been considering relating to character development.

I think most of us are aware that people don’t behave in the way they do for no reason. We all have a history that predisposes us to certain behavioural patterns, deeply embedded in our thought processes and emotions. For example, children who’ve experienced trauma often, in turn, behave in ways that are unhealthy. Trauma makes as much of a wound on the brain as a physical injury. Even experiences that, to an adult, might seem inconsequential, can profoundly affected a child’s (and ultimately adult’s) behaviour and way of perceiving life. It stands to reason that these types of pain-based behaviours can be difficult to manage, but once identified, the brain can be ‘rewired’ over time by making different choices. Each positive choice makes a small change in the brain. And small changes, over time, make big ones.

Something I find frustrating as a reader is when a character whose entire life has been dictated by negative behaviours, suddenly changes, and then the story is resolved. Now, I’m not denying people can experience profound shifts in thinking over short periods of time, or even significant emotional healing, but more often than not, there’s a dogged grappling with pain-based patterns over time, before the positive choices outweigh the negative wiring of the past.

Just as a child can be damaged emotionally or mentally by being forced to grow up too fast, whether that be through exposure to adult concepts too early or, as mentioned above, through trauma, so our characters can come across as weak and untrustworthy if they change too fast, or without appropriate context and conditions justifying that change.Redwood

But how does this relate to our holiday in NZ? While touring, we visited a Redwood forest. The redwood seed had been brought over from America to grow trees to produce wood for use in construction and other such applications. Unfortunately, the NZ climate wasn’t the same as that from which the trees were brought. The trees grew too fast, leaving the inner core soft and unusable for the purpose it was intended.

Like those magnificent redwood trees, a character can be fleshed out to look every bit the part they’ve been developed to play in a story, but if they don’t go through challenge- or condition-appropriate growth, a reader won’t buy it. I think you’ll agree, there’s something about a character’s inner struggle that builds convincing inner strength, developing rapport with a reader. I do love stories where characters rise above overwhelming odds, but let’s ensure we give our literary heroes opportunity to develop sufficient core strength to make the distance.

And then there was …

ActivatemedOn November 1, ‘Activate’ final book in the Blaine Colton young adult techno-crime thriller trilogy, was released. Yay!!!! Celebration time for sure. But a thought has been edging into my mind that once the buzz of launches, signings and visits settles, I’ll be writing … Well, what will I be writing?!

Yes, I do have works in progress. I also have a quandary.

Somehow, after completing the trilogy, one of the characters in ‘Activate’ got a life all their own. So I’ve found myself halfway through a spin off story. But there’s also a story that’s been on the backburner for … well … a while. Originally penned for the general adult fiction market, I’m rewriting it as a YA. It really does seem to be working, but it’s also a challenging project. Meaning, it will take time to get it right.

Perhaps I need to admit to myself that there might be a teensy bit of laziness factoring into that equation. You see, project ‘old-made-new’ has historical elements I’ll have to squish back into whatever grey matter I have remaining in the crevices of my head. You know what that means? Lots of research i.e. lots of extra work. And well, the speculative SciFi angle the spin off is taking, doesn’t have quite so many restrictions.

My brain says something new. (Hang, my publisher probably does too. LOL.) But those characters have a way of sneaking into your mind and pulling on your heart strings.

There’s one group I haven’t asked yet. You! 🙂

What would you do? More of the same or something different. Or would you do the crazy juggle I used to, of writing multiple novels at once? Hit me with your thoughts! It would be great to hear your angle.