I'm back from holidays and the coffee chats are lined up ready to go. Thanks for waiting while I soaked up the sun.
Let's continue with the coffee chats highlighting Aussie authors. It's my pleasure today to have Belinda Crawford in my virtual café. Belinda is a self-confessed geek who loves Star Wars and Doctor Who
DL: Firstly, since this a virtual coffee chat, how do you have your coffee? Are you a morning or afternoon person?
Belinda: Actually, I’m a tea drinker and I like it when it comes in a pot, preferably Lady Grey with plenty of milk on the side. Or, if it’s on offer, a nice flavoursome chai brewed the traditional way (in milk on the stove).
I am definitely not a morning person, at least not for the first hour. By the time I’ve thrown the cats outside (pity those poor beasts), fed horses and had breakfast, the neural pathways that facilitate speech have warmed up and I’m usually capable of communicating in more than grunts and growls.
The family knows not to expect a great deal of sense out of me until then.
DL: The first book in the series is Hero. It's a YA story without any of the usual love story trope, which is hugely refreshing. Did you find any pressure to add romance into the story, and can you explain why you opted out of romance?
Belinda: Frankly, I got sick of reading YA books where the heroine met a boy and obsessed over it to the point where she starts doing really stupid things, because, apparently, she lost her brains the moment she saw him. Invariably, the boy in question appears just in time to save her and from that moment on she’s stuck in a ‘sweet, innocent, fragile, not-to-bright female’ role.
It’s not a particularly flattering or accurate depiction, and it's incredibly disempowering for female readers. For one, it implies that the defining aspect and singular goal of a girl’s life should be to find herself a romantic relationship, and that she's weird if she doesn't (and comes doubly packaged with the idea that being weird is bad, which is horse poo. Embrace your weird, I say). There's also the implication that a girl can't kick butt, follow her dreams and change the world just fine on her own, which is what I find most offensive and why I wrote Hero the way I did.
What's really awesome is that, along the way, people only had good things to say about my decision to forego the romance angle. I think, if anyone had been inclined to say otherwise they lost their nerve as soon as I told them why I did (I’m quite passionate about the subject), or at the very least, realised that their opinion wouldn't have swayed me and saved their breath.
DL: Riven is Book 2 of the series. Is there still the illegal street racing? And does any of Wombat's - your horse - personality make it into the book?
Belinda: Yes, we have street racing and many other illegal things including blackmail, theft and err…can't tell you that bit, but it's awesome. Trust me.
A little bit of Wombat does make it into the book. Riven takes place a year after Hero and Fink isn't quite the ruc-pard we all know and love. He's become really grumpy (which is Wombat all over) and he and Hero tend to argue a lot, but they trust each other when it counts.
DL: I saw you at Oz Comic Con and at Conflux signing "Hero" and meeting readers. Is promotion a necessary evil or is it something you enjoy?
Belinda: I love meeting readers, and after the actual writing it's my favourite part of the whole author gig. It's both gratifying and humbling to meet people who enjoy the world of Hero as much, if not more than I do.
Some parts of promotion are more scary than fun, like going on panels at conferences such as Conflux, but that I’m slowly coming to like.
The promotional activities that I find tedious tend to be the ones I don't do, my view being that I only have so much time and many, many books to write.
DL: And last question, what is your favourite biscuit and/or cake at the moment?
Belinda: Well, I'm honour-bound to eat any sweet, deserty thing called ‘Death By Chocolate’ (it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull), but I’m pretty happy with anything chocolate, and if it has mounds of gooey icing on top, all the better.
Now to showcase these amazing YA books
"Hero" Book 1
I bought the print copy at Conflux in Canberra.
I enjoyed reading Hero. It was well written, the description was lovely, and I was quickly pulled into this off-planet world. Loads of action, great technological contraptions, cute names for the genetically engineered animals which, as an adult reader I had to remind myself at this that this is aimed at young adults, so yeah, Hero is going to be feisty and cheeky. She's meant to be!
I have to admit that I loved Fink. He's a six-hundred kilogram genetically engineered ruc-pard. He's Hero's best friend, and they share thoughts. I want my own Fink, though I doubt my mini fox terrier will agree to this. Fink is one of those side-kick characters who steal the show - like Hans Solo.
There was suspense, intrigue, and I kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened. As with all series, I didn't find out what happened. Very clever. Now I have to buy Riven to see what happens, and see if those loose threads whose foundations are laid in book one are tied up in the next two instalments.
4 stars from me.
"Riven" Book 2
Published by Odyssey Books
Belinda is currently writing Book 3. If you'd like to stay in touch with Belinda about this YA sci-fi series, you can connect/contact via the below links:
THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!!