Tag Archives: Leanne Hall

Interview with Leanne Hall

Today I’m excited to be joined by Leanne Hall, author of the incredible This is Shyness and a magical new book for younger readers, Iris and the Tiger.  I have loved all of Leanne’s books and I highly recommend them.  You can read my reviews of This is Shyness, Queen of the Night and Iris and the Tiger here on the blog.  Leanne joins me today to answer my questions about her new book, her inspirations, and writing for kids and teens.  Thanks Leanne!

9781925240795

  • What inspired you to write Iris and the Tiger?

The very beginning came about from joining two dots. I had a random, uninvited phrase running through my head – `Iris, spider, tiger’ – for months, and I didn’t know why! At the same time, I wanted to write a story where Surrealist paintings come to life. I mashed the two ideas together, and Iris was born. I really wanted to write a fun, adventurous, odd adventure for middle readers that focussed on art and friendship.

  • Iris’s Aunt Ursula lives on an estate in Spain. Why did you decide to set the story there?

I needed to send Iris far, far away from Australia. France and Spain both had very strong traditions of surrealism, but a lot of books are set in France! Spanish culture was more of a mystery to me, and I enjoyed researching it. After watching Pan’s Labyrinth I thought the Spanish woods looked truly magical, and slightly scary.

  • Your love of art shines through in the story.  What are your favourite pieces of art?

I do love art! Whenever I’m stuck for ideas I wander around galleries, daydreaming! I have a Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/lilymandarin/iris-and-the-tiger/) where I keep all my visual inspiration for Iris and the Tiger. If I had to pick a favourite, today I would go for `Creation of the Birds’ by Remedios Varo. Elna’s owl costume for the Surrealist Dinner Party came from that painting.

  • Can you paint like Ursula and James? 

Sadly, no! Oh, how I wish I could paint and draw, but I really cannot (trust me, I’ve tried).

  • What is one thing that you would like to inherit from your family (i.e. a piece of jewellery, a knick-knack, or a sprawling estate in Spain)? 

Of course, a grand country estate would be great! But I have actually inherited something lovely – the engagement ring box that my grandmother’s ring was in. It’s not worth anything, but it’s very precious to me. I’ve kept it since I was a child, it’s a little piece of history.

  • Your first two books were for young adults.  How did you find it writing for a younger audience?

A lot of fun and, much to my surprise, not very different than writing for young adults. I just had to hold the hormones and salty language!

  • What is it about writing for children and young adults that appeals to you?

I think stories for these age groups are simply more fun, more dramatic, more intense and less pretentious. I like the freedom and immediacy of writing for kids and teens, and I feel I have greater permission to give voice to my craziest thoughts.

  • How do you approach a story? Do you plan it out or just see where an idea takes you?

I never used to be a planner, but after writing three books in very circuitous ways, I am trying to plan a bit better, to save myself all the endless restructuring. I’d say I currently sit halfway between `plotter’ and `pantser’.

  • Who are your favourite authors?

Difficult question for someone who is both a writer and a bookseller! I have just discovered Hilary T Smith, and I adore her writing. I’ll stop there, because otherwise I’ll have to give you a list of my Top 100 favourite authors.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, mystery

Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall

To celebrate the release of Leanne Hall’s new book, Iris and the Tiger, I’m highlighting her previous YA novels, This is Shyness and Queen of the Night.  Leanne’s books are some of my all-time favourite books and I can’t rate them highly enough.  If you haven’t read these ones already go and grab a copy now.  Also, check out my review of Leanne’s latest book, Iris and the Tiger.

The Text Publishing Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing has introduced me to some of my favourite writers.  The first winner in 2008 was Richard Newsome, author of the brilliant Billionaire’s Curse Trilogy, and the second winner was Leanne Hall, author of one of my favourite books of 2010 called This is Shyness.  In This is Shyness, Leanne introduced us to the suburb of Shyness where it’s always dark because the sun never rises.  This mysterious suburb is home to all sorts of weird and wonderful people, including the Kidds who are hooked on sugar, the Dreamers, and Wolfboy.  The story is focused on one night in Shyness where Wildgirl meets Wolfboy, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since I read it.  Thankfully, Leanne wrote a sequel, which has just been released called Queen of the Night.

9781921758645For six months Nia has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she met in Shyness.  The boy who said he’d call but didn’t.

Then, one night, her phone rings.  The things Wolfboy says draw her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate.  The Darkness is changing, and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble.

And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

Queen of the Night is just as strange, mysterious and wonderful as This is Shyness.  It’s one of those follow-up books where you find yourself right back in that place you loved as soon as you start reading.  I felt that same sense of fascination about Shyness and I wanted to know everything about this mysterious place.  Some of the questions I had from the previous book were answered, but Leanne also added to the mystery and I get the feeling we don’t quite know everything about Shyness and the weird things that happen under the cover of constant darkness.  There is still a lot we don’t know about Doctor Gregory and his strange experiments and I hope that we get to learn more about Diana. I loved being able to get inside Wolfboy and Wildgirl’s heads more in this book, and I really liked the ‘Inception’ vibe in the second part of the story.   Like Wildgirl in the story, I got quite disorientated by Shyness.  I would forget that just because it’s dark in Shyness, it could actually be mid-morning outside Shyness.   If you liked This is Shyness you’ll love Queen of the Night, and if you haven’t read Shyness you need to get your hands on a copy.  I hope that Leanne has more in mind for Wildgirl and Wolfboy because I’m certainly not ready to leave them behind.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, young adult, young adult fiction

Weird and wonderful world of Shyness

To celebrate the release of Leanne Hall’s new book, Iris and the Tiger, I’m highlighting her previous YA novels, This is Shyness and Queen of the Night.  Leanne’s books are some of my all-time favourite books and I can’t rate them highly enough.  If you haven’t read these ones already go and grab a copy now.  Also, check out my review of Leanne’s latest book, Iris and the Tiger.

Cover imageWelcome to Shyness, where the sun never rises and the darkness hides the dregs of humanity.  It’s in this strange place, in a bar called the Diabetic Hotel, that Wildgirl meets Wolfboy and they step out into a night that they’ll never forget.  Both Wildgirl and Wolfboy are hiding from a past they are desperate to forget, but as the story progresses we find out who they truly are.

This is Shyness, by the winner of the 2009 Text Prize, Leanne Hall is one of the most unique Young Adult books that I’ve read in a long time.  Leanne has created truly memorable characters that have so much depth.  You get drawn into both of their stories and can’t help but care about them.  The narrative alternates between the two characters so you see events from different perspectives and know how they feel about each other.

I also loved Leanne’s other creations, including the Kidds (dangerous children high on sugar and willing to mug anybody for a sugar fix), the Dreamers (teenagers who take drugs so that they can sleep and dream for longer), and the menacing Doctor Gregory.

The world of Shyness is terrifically weird but truly unique and once you get a taste of it, you’ll never want to leave.

1 Comment

Filed under books, young adult, young adult fiction

Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall

I’m a huge fan of Leanne Hall’s first two YA novels, This is Shyness and Queen of the Night.  They are weird and wonderful stories that have haunted me since I first read them.  When I heard that Leanne had a new novel coming out, aimed at younger readers I was very excited.  I knew she would bring the same magic to a story for younger readers as she did for teens.  Reading the blurb I got a tingle of excitement and when I started reading I knew it was going to be a very special story.  I got completely wrapped up in Iris and the Tiger and I know you will too.

9781925240795Twelve-year-old Iris has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents.

But from the moment Iris arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she realises something isn’t quite right. There is an odd feeling around the house, where time moves slowly and Iris’s eyes play tricks on her. While outside, in the wild and untamed forest, a mysterious animal moves through the shadows.

Just what is Aunt Ursula hiding?

But when Iris discovers a painting named Iris and the Tiger, she sets out to uncover the animal’s real identity–putting her life in terrible danger.

I absolutely loved Iris and the Tiger!  Leanne Hall enchanted me with her tale of magic and mystery.  It is a really unique and refreshing story with plenty of excitement to keep you reading.  There is something in this book for everyone – art, magic, mystery and wonderful characters.

Iris’s mission from her parents, to get in her aunt’s will, becomes her search to discover the mysteries of her aunt and her sprawling estate.  From the moment that Iris arrives Aunt Ursula’s estate in Spain, she knows that there are strange things going on. According to her parents her aunt is near death but she looks young and full of energy.  Iris sees things in her aunt’s mansion and out in the grounds that she can’t explain.  The mansion, Bosque de Nubes, is full of surreal paintings by Iris’s Uncle James, who died many years ago.  One of these paintings is called Iris and the Tiger but Iris can’t find it anywhere in the mansion.  She sets out to uncover the mystery of the painting and find the real tiger that she is sure is lurking somewhere on the estate.

Aunt Ursula’s estate is brimming with a mysterious magic.  There are all sorts of weird and wonderful things that Iris and her friend Jordi discover while exploring her aunt’s estate.  There is a monster car, tennis-playing sunflowers, shoes with a mind of their own and a ghostly dog.

I love Leanne’s characters and there are plenty of interesting ones in this story.  Iris is my favourite because she knows there is magic out there and she goes in search of it.  She stands up for what she believes is right, especially when she knows that her parents are wrong.  Aunt Ursula is shrouded in mystery and you just know that there is something weird about the other people who live and work at Bosque de Nubes.

If I hadn’t read one of Leanne’s books before and knew that I loved them, the stunning cover would be enough to make me want to pick it up and read it.  Sandra Eterovic’s cover illustration is the perfect match for the book and really draws the reader in.  I love how each of the paintings on the cover relate to the story.

The ending of the book is so perfect and made me want to go right back to the start and read it again.  Grab a copy of Iris and the Tiger and get lost in Leanne’s magical story.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, magic, mystery

My Most Anticipated March New Releases

BZRK by Michael Grant

One megalomaniacal villain is bad enough. Two might succeed in turning mankind into a hive where individual identity is a thing of the past. With nanobots as their weapon of choice, conjoined twins Charles and Benjamin Armstrong will stop at nothing to evolve the human race in their own image.

Only BZRK can stop them.

Led by the anonymous Lear, the punk organization called BZRK battles the twins and their sinister Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation with genetically engineered creatures… biots.

Created by maverick scientist Grey McLure, biots are fused with human DNA and controlled through the mind. When biots are injured or killed, their host’s sanity disappears forever.

How far are you willing to go to save mankind?

Roll the dice. Take the risk. Go BZRK.

 

Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall

The dark is dangerous. So is the past. So are your dreams.

For six months Nia—Wildgirl—has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she spent one night with in Shyness—the boy who said he’d call but didn’t.

Then Wolfboy calls. The things he tells her pull her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate. There, Doctor Gregory has seemingly disappeared, the Darkness is changing and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble. And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

The sequel to the 2009 Text Prize-winning This Is Shyness is about the difficulty of recreating the past—about how the Darkness no longer sets Wolfboy and Wildgirl free.

 

Crypt: Traitor’s Revenge by Andrew Hammond 

‘We’re coming. The martyrs are awakening. Spirits are gathering. This will be our time…’ In York and London, strange shapes are taking form, emerging from the shadows. And who is the man who lies in a pitch-black room, listening to a voice that seems to speak from the darkness itself? Jud Lester knows that something evil is afoot. He also knows that it can’t be investigated by any normal brand of counter-intelligence…This is a case for CRYPT: a team of elite teenage agents who use their extra sensory perception and arsenal of high-tech gadgets to investigate crimes that the police can’t solve.

 

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to enact his vision – no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

 

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

2 Comments

Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, young adult, young adult fiction

Sequel to This is Shyness coming in 2012

One of my favourite books of 2010 was a Young Adult book called This is Shyness by Australian author, Leanne Hall (read my review here).  I’ve known for a while that Leanne has been writing a sequel and was excited to discover on the Text Publishing website yesterday that it’s called Queen of the Night and is being released in February 2012.  If you haven’t read it but love quirky YA books you really should rush out and get hold of a copy.  Leanne was the winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2009.

To whet your appetite, here’s the blurb for Queen of the Night:

“The dark is dangerous. So is the past. So are your dreams.

For six months Nia—Wildgirl—has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she spent one night with in Shyness—the boy who said he’d call but didn’t.

Then Wolfboy calls. The things he tells her pull her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate. There, Doctor Gregory has seemingly disappeared, the Darkness is changing and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble. And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

The sequel to the 2009 Text Prize-winning This Is Shyness is about the difficulty of recreating the past—about how the Darkness no longer sets Wolfboy and Wildgirl free.”

You can pre-order Queen of the Night on the Text Publishing website now.  Text are a Melbourne based publisher and are one of my favourites.  They always publish really interesting and original titles, especially for Young Adults.

1 Comment

Filed under authors, books, young adult, young adult fiction