La Mareta signed to Odyssey Books!

What an incredible start to 2018! I have just signed a publishing deal with Odyssey Books for La Mareta, a cosy mystery crime novel set on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. La Mareta is the sequel to The Drago Tree and continues my literary love affair with the islands that captured my heart long ago.

Big thanks to Michelle Lovi, publisher at Odyssey Books, for believing in my work and for travelling to the island with me in 2016 to assist me with the research. We had a fascinating time and we both adored the gorgeous farmhouse we rented in Maguez. The front door opened onto a volcano! That house is one of the primary settings in La Mareta. Many thanks to the owners for restoring it so beautifully.

La Mareta will be out in April. Plenty of time to catch on its predecessor, The Drago Tree, if you haven’t already. Available at  –

 

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The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

I am delighted to share my review of Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s debut novel, The Tides Between.

“In 1841, on the eve of her departure from London, Bride’s mother demands she forget her dead father and prepare for a sensible, adult life in Port Phillip. Desperate to save her childhood, fifteen-year-old Bridie is determined to smuggle a notebook filled with her father’s fairy tales to the far side of the world.

When Rhys Bevan, a soft-voiced young storyteller and fellow traveller realises Bridie is hiding something, a magical friendship is born. But Rhys has his own secrets and the words written in Bridie’s notebook carry a dark double meaning.

As they inch towards their destination, Rhys’s past returns to haunt him. Bridie grapples with the implications of her dad’s final message. The pair take refuge in fairy tales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.”

My Review

Told from three viewpoints, Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s debut novel is a fearless yet endearing exploration of the day-to-day existence of a small cast of characters, each with their troubles, who are incarcerated along with numerous families in the steerage deck of a ship bound for Australia. The Tides Between is an ironic tale in some ways, for the duration of a voyage that spans half the globe, the epic journey that unfolds is one situated at the hearth of human existence.

Corbett writes with a deft pen. The author is unafraid to expose the reality of life for working class migrants making the treacherous voyage to Australia. In true literary fashion, the narrative presses forward through the unfolding realisations of its characters, the backstory interwoven in fragments.

The Tides Between opens with fifteen-year old Bridie clutching a notebook of fairy stories she was forbidden to keep as she boards a ship bound for Port Phillip. What unfolds is in part a coming of age story, as Bridie learns to handle the grief she feels at the loss of her father, and accept the benevolent affections of her stepfather, Alf. Yet The Tides Between is less a story of one girl’s entry into adulthood and more a meditation on trauma and its consequences, and on identity and the power of myth.

These themes are strikingly played out through Rhys, a young Welshman and miner’s son crippled by claustrophobia.  His wife, Sian, is pregnant, as is Bridie’s mother. Will either woman manage to safely birth her child before the ship pulls in at its destination? Will Rhys transcend his anguish? Will Bridie shake off her adolescent ill humour? Can Alf, a man strangled by his sense of duty and obedience, find the courage to confront the ship’s surgeon?

Corbett carries her plot forward with intricate attention to emotional detail. The heaving waters of the various oceans traversed a powerful metaphor for those heaving in the hearts of protagonists Bridie, Rhys and Alf.

Corbett’s writing is visual, metaphoric and intelligent.

“The night air fell like a chill shawl on her shoulders. Turning back towards the hatchway, she heard an eerie drawn out sound from beyond the deckhouse. She halted, nerves feathering her spine.”

It is in this fashion that dramatic tension is maintained, the reader treated page after page to Corbett’s elegant prose.

The theme of fairy tales is prominent, but these are not the stories of children’s books. They are powerful myths rich with significance. Bridie strives to make sense of the world and relationships through the lens of fairy tales, questioning, comparing, speculating. Corbett juxtaposes Bridie’s musings with the reality of her situation, conveyed through the harsh, albeit sensible worlds of her mother.    Meanwhile, Rhys grapples with his own demons. The only time he can cope with being in steerage is when he is on stage, telling Welsh fairy tales to a captive audience. Through the friendship that grows between Bridie and Rhys, Corbett explores the healing power of fairy tales, a release as much for the teller as the listener.

In one respect, The Tides Between is a vivid portrayal of life in steerage. The reader is there with the stench and the lice and the privy buckets. Just as she is unflinching when it comes to portraying the physical hardships onboard, Corbett casts a microscopic eye over the complexities of grief and shame, taboos and social rejection.

Despite its heartrending moments, The Tides Between is ultimately a story of redemption, transformation and hope.

“She had begun to treasure their moments together, like bright beads, slipping through her fingers and puddling at the bottom of memory’s purse.”

The Tides Between pulls the reader in two directions, the desire to continue turning the pages at odds with an equally a strong wish to pause and reflect on its various intricacies, its depth. The only difficulty faced in reviewing a book of this quality is putting it down long enough to scribe reflections. A work I would describe as literary historical fiction, The Tides Between, is a captivating and immersive read.

 

About the author

When Elizabeth Jane Corbett isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Melbourne Celtic Club, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novel Society and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. An early draft of her debut novel, The Tides Between, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award. Elizabeth lives with her husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north. She likes red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far, far away.

BUY your copy here

El árbol de Drago

Estoy encantado de revelar la portada de la edición española de mi novela, El árbol de Drago.

 

Ella quería olvidar, permitir a este ambiente de tremendo aislamiento consumirla.

Perseguida por los demonios del pasado y el presente, la geóloga Ann Salter busca refugio en la exótica isla de Lanzarote. Allí conoce al carismático escritor Richard Parry y al alfarero nativo Domingo y juntos explorar la isla. Ann se encuentra con tesoros ocultos de la isla que caen en un viaje profundo dentro de ella misma, se esfuerza para comprender quién fue ella, quién es ella, y quién ella quiere ser. El árbol de Drago es una anécdota intrigante de traición, conquista y amor en todas sus formas, establecida en contraste al panorama dramático de la isla y la historia colonial española.

Photo of La Corona by JF Olivares

“Esta novela está construida maravillosamente y en ella se muestra la complejidad de nuestras vidas, especialmente cuando abrimos nuestros corazones a la pasión” —Robert Hillman, La Miel Ladrona

“El árbol de Drago es una novela hermosamente elaborada, escrita exquisitamente rebosante de pena y sinceridad, dolor y alegría. Es tan excitante desde el principio que no se consigue dejar hasta terminar de leerlo. El árbol de Drago tomará tu corazón”- Jasmina Brankovich, escritora

 

La edición inglés fue publicado por Odyssey Books en 2015. Ahora, están publicando la version español. Estoy muy agradecida, especialmente a Inelda Lovi por su traducción.

¡Ahora, tengo que aprendiendo más español! Han pasado muchos años desde que viví en Lanzarote.

Despues de 26 septiembre 2017, usted puede comprar este libro en Amazon

Estoy en Facebook 

Twitter @IBlackthorn

Goodreads

Si desea escribir una reseña de este libro, póngase en contacto conmigo a través de este sitio web.

Puedes leer más sobre El árbol de Drago en inglés aquí

The Drago Tree – review by Juliet Butler

It’s getting on for two years since The Drago Tree was released by Odyssey Books. Reviews still trickle in and feedback is always warm, sometimes glowing. My publisher is so passionate about the story they have arranged for it to be translated into Spanish, and are releasing it themselves in Australia and worldwide in August. Bucking the trend to release translations using the same cover, Odyssey Books are also investing in a brand new cover which I’m itching to see. I feel privileged and can’t wait to hold the Spanish version in my hands.

 

Meanwhile, this short and sweet review came in via NetGalley and I thought I would share it here for all to see.

“A beautifully written book. The author managed to capture the essence of Lanzarote, its cafes, markets, and rugged landscape. I thought the characters were well developed and their stories pulled you into the narrative. An engaging and thoughtful read.” – Juliet Butler, NetGalley

Thank you Juliet!

You can read more reviews here.  And you can purchase a copy here on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Drago-Tree-Isobel-Blackthorn/dp/1922200360

The Drago Tree for a travelling book junkie

The world of book blogging is an amazing place sometimes. You just never know what might be happening in that vast tribe of dedicated book lovers, who give hours of every day to supporting authors and readers alike. Where would we be if we had to rely exclusively on print media and high end literary reviews? Only the select few works, those tipped for prizes maybe, would get attention.

So it was amazing to receive a message on Facebook this morning from a dedicated book blogging soul, informing me that my novel, The Drago Tree, appears in a list of works set in the Canary Islands.

9781922200365-Cover (1)

“Sometimes, even the fictional works which loosely base a storyline on a location can inspire wanderlust in a person far more than any editorial piece could.  Perhaps it is the in-depth descriptions that entice people to book a flight – I know for a fact, that I have been known to book a trip off the back of a book I have read. ” – http://www.travellingbookjunkie.com/14-fictional-works-canary-islands/

Thank you so much for thinking of my book!!!

You can buy a copy of The Drago Tree on Amazon

An interview with Martin Rodoreda, author of SALVAGE

I’m delighted to welcome to my blog, Sydney author Martin Rodoreda, whose debut novel, Salvage, is set to take the speculative fiction scene by storm. Salvage is a work of climate fiction utterly relevant to our time, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Read on, for a fabulous interview.

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Tell me a little about yourself, Martin.

I was born and raised in Liverpool, in the south-west suburbs of Sydney. I was blessed with a very stable childhood, if a somewhat sedentary one. Being one of four children in a single income family we didn’t holiday or move around much. My parents still live in the family home I grew up in, and there is something nice about having that consistency.

I had a great childhood though; I enjoyed school, was very active, and found adventure in books. Our Christmas stocking would always have at least one new book in it, and Mum would take us on frequent visits to the library to find new material to read.

After school, I did a communications degree at UTS where I met my beautiful wife, Cara. We got married in 2007 and now live in the Macarthur region with our three boys. So with family, writing and work, life is busy!

At what age did you realise your fascination with books? 

As I mentioned, from an early age I found books to be a source of adventure. Reading was encouraged in our household and all my siblings read a lot. We used to read books together as a family, sitting around the dinner table taking turns reading out loud. Roald Dahl was my favourite author whilst in primary school and I would read and re-read his books every time the annual MS Read-a-thon came about at school.

In year six at school, our teacher got the entire class to enter into a short story writing competition. I and one other student in the grade made it through to the finals group and a two-day workshop. I didn’t go on to win the final prize, but it was a good experience.

Perhaps discouraged for not taking out the ultimate prize in the competition, or perhaps just busy with other things, it would be another twelve or thirteen years before I started writing again. But I remained both active and creative through this time, with a fairly eclectic mix of hobbies, from role-playing games to playing AFL, from miniature painting and table-top gaming, to listening to grunge and alternate music. I think my nerdy pursuits were counter-balanced enough to earn the label of cool nerd.

I never properly considered writing as a career option. Sitting through my careers class at high school, trying to pick a degree to do at university, looking for jobs post study; I could never quite pin down what I wanted to do. Even five or six years into the workforce and a career I still had that feeling. I think I had this trouble because deep down, I knew what I wanted to do, but did not see writing as a legitimate career option. I think this is probably shared by many authors.

So back to the question – when did I start writing? I started writing seriously when my work and home resulted in a lengthy commute to and from the city each day. For those of you that have experienced it, Sydney traffic is something to be avoided at all costs, so the train became my friend. I wanted to use this time productively and, as much as I love reading, I didn’t want to spend it all reading. So I started writing my first book. That was about nine or ten years ago now. I have done virtually all my writing since then on the train. While a long commute can be frustrating, it has afforded me regular time to write, and so rather than eating into my day, it has enhanced my day.

Who inspires you in your writing?

I mentioned Roald Dahl as an early favourite author of mine. I then migrated into Tolkien and the fantasy genre and read a lot of that through my teens. After discovering the Greek Historians in Ancient History at school, I found myself enjoying a lot of writing from this period; Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch. In mid to late high school I also started reading a lot of the late, great Terry Pratchett and have read a book or two of his every year since.

As I’ve gotten older, my reading has slowed a bit (on account of using what spare time I have to write!), but also diversified. I still enjoy the Speculative Fiction genre above others, and like many, I’m still waiting on George RR Martin to release the final book (books?) in the Game of Thrones series. But I enjoy books outside of the genre as well. A couple that stand out are Burial Rights by Hannah Kent and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Another book I had low expectations of but really enjoyed was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I read it for the first time just five years ago and, having been disappointed with a number of other classics, I didn’t have high hopes for it. But I loved the way the book blended intensely dark fantasy scenes with high period drama I would expect out of a Jane Austen book. It was an interesting and utterly enthralling read.

I seem to draw inspiration from most things I read or watch. I can’t help but finish a book or a movie and think of something I could draw from it in my writing, whether it be an alternate take on the themes in the book, character traits that I’d like to explore further or a mood or environment that really resonated with me. I have at least fifty book ideas that I have written a basic outline and plot for and then filed away. I have a strange feeling of excitement and apprehension every time I consider opening the file!

Tell me a little about Salvage.

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It is set in Sydney about one hundred years in the future. The world has been devastated by pollution, excessive mining and war, and a dome built over the city protects what is possibly the last bastion of human civilization from the caustic elements. Inside the dome, its citizens are ruled by the dictator Silmac, who holds a monopoly over the energy supply of the city. Outside, in what was once Greater Sydney, savage sub-human’s known as mutes scratch out a brutal existence in the unforgiving elements, posing a deadly threat to those what would venture beyond the protective barrier of the dome.

The main character, Silver, is a member of a Salvage crew; heading outside the dome in search of metals and other items of value. When she is abandoned in the Badlands one day by her crew, Silver faces a hike back to the dome on foot with very little chance of survival. On the way, she uncovers a relic from the past that holds the secret to break Silmac’s hold over the dome. The discovery ultimately leads her into direct conflict with the dictator.

In the early stages of the book, Silver’s primary motivation is personal survival; from dangers both outside and within the dome. Living in constant fear, she craves change but feels helpless to effect it. She must face these fears in order to realize that she is more powerful than she thinks, and not alone in her desire for change.

how long did it take you to write?

It took me roughly two years to write and edit Salvage, writing almost exclusively on the train on my commute to and from work. The story was constantly in my head over that time. Writing in fifty minute pockets on the train meant that I’d often have to stop part way through a scene and not be able to get back to it till that afternoon, or the next morning. While this could be frustrating, it afforded me the time to reflect on each scene as I wrote it, and helped maintain a clarity of purpose throughout the book.

Thank you Martin, for taking the time to chatting with me today!!

You can find Martin via Facebook

His website: martinrodoreda.com

And purchase a copy of Salvage via the publisher, Odyssey Books.

Book Review: A Perfect Square

Pleased to share this fine review by author Kathryn Gossow. 🙂

Kathryn Gossow

Purchase A Perfect Square from Odyssey Books 

Two women on either side of the world live almost parallel lives. Both artists with a preference for seclusion, Harriet in the Dandenong Ranges paints abstract scenes of Wessex and Judith in Dartmoor paints and yearns for the Australian landscape she has never seen. Both have daughters, returned home. Both are not sure what to do with their difficult and slightly broken daughters.

A Perfect Square is Isobel Blackthorn’s third novel. The layers within this book stem from her interest in the Western esotericism and conspiracy theories. It is one of those books you read the first time for the story, and then go back to for the second layer, the glittering bits that lift the story.

Harriet has Synaesthesia – she sees colours in music and considers this an inner knowing which she struggles to portray in her art. Ginny, her musically talented daughter in her paisley clothes…

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