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: www.adelejonesauthor.com
Rhiza’s website is: http://rhizapress.com/activate
Activate on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31498997-activate
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 www.adelejonesauthor.com or contact[@]adelejonesauthor.com

#InterviewByBook

 

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 JennysThread.com or Jeanette O’Hagan Writes.

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.

(Dis)Ability Action Week QLD

Del signingSaturday I received copies of my new novel Activate hot off the press and had the pleasure of sharing it with attendees at the Omega Writers Book Fair 2016. Technically its release date is Nov 1, 2016, but with next week (Sept 11-17) being Disability Action Week 2016 in Queensland, I can’t think of more perfect timing.

You see, Blaine Colton, the hero of the Integrate trilogy, is a young man acutely aware of the stigma and challenges disability can represent. Having survived mitochondrial disease and received a gene-modifying cure, he has been given a second chance. But things aren’t perfect for the teenager, and he’s never forgotten where he’s come from – nor where he could very well end up. (But you’ll have to read the books to find out more … 😉 )

The motto of Disability Action Week celebrations is: ‘Inclusion: It’s a game changer’. And I love it. In fact, I’d love to apply it in every circumstance. I’ve seen how easily we (and I include myself in this) can disregard others because they don’t fit. Whether this be determined by a ‘click’ group, trends, or someone who simply doesn’t meet some predetermined criteria for abilities on the sports field or whatever activity is on the table, people get left out. Add what can be perceived as limitations, and it can be all too easy to discard people from our plans.

No one likes being excluded.

ActivatemedAs a parent I often find myself saying, ‘Ensure you’re being inclusive.’ In reality this has to be a purposeful decision and is largely influenced by the type of disability present. For example, if someone is mobility impaired, accessibility to venues, terrain and physical requirements of an event or activity need to be well considered. Some disabilities are not obvious, and might involve environmental or emotional triggers. Often a lot of little things are overlooked by well meaning people for sheer lack of awareness. (As I have done myself, at times.)

Many people I know living with a disability are fiercely independent and very capable. When it comes to solutions, they are brilliant for nutting things out. By communicating and working with people, instead of assuming the limitations of their capacity, inclusion becomes a way of thinking and truly can ‘change the game’.