Introducing the FitzOsbornes . . . and me
Hello! I'm Michelle Cooper, and I'm your new Writer in Residence, taking over the job from the lovely Isobelle Carmody. And I'm not just pretending that Isobelle Carmody is lovely – she really, truly is, and I know this because I met her a few years ago at Reading Matters. It was my first big writers' conference so I was terribly nervous and tongue-tied, but she went out of her way to be kind and generous to me, and even said nice things about my first novel. She posted such beautiful photos last month, didn't she? Now I want to win Lotto so I can visit Europe and walk through all those glorious, snow-frosted landscapes.
Anyway, I'd better explain who I am, because I'm nowhere near as famous as Isobelle. I live in Sydney, I read a lot and I've written four YA novels. The first was called The Rage of Sheep, which, according to the cover, was 'a hilarious story about girls, gossip, growing up and God'. Hardly anyone read it (apart from Isobelle Carmody), possibly because it had the word 'God' on the front . Or maybe potential readers were scared off by the notion of enraged sheep.
After that, I wrote a book called A Brief History of Montmaray, which was about the FitzOsbornes, a royal family who reigned over a tiny windswept island in the Bay of Biscay. The story was told in the form of Sophie FitzOsborne's journals and it featured orphans, pirates, aviators, shipwrecks, ghosts, lost treasures, secret caves, sea monsters and Nazis. It won a literary award called the Ethel Turner Prize, was shortlisted for the Gold Inky and was published in North America, all of which was very exciting for me.
Then I wrote a sequel, The FitzOsbornes in Exile. It was about Sophie’s family struggling to adjust to their new life in England in the tumultuous years before the Second World War. It included lots of political intrigue and international diplomacy, a Crazed Assassin, stately English houses, a bit of romance, some ferocious Girl Guides and a pig called Estella. Also, Sophie got to wear some fabulous ballgowns in that book.
The final novel in the Montmaray Journals trilogy is called The FitzOsbornes at War and it is released TOMORROW in Australia and New Zealand. If you've been desperate to find out what happens to Sophie, Veronica, Toby, Simon and Henry during the war, your wait is almost over.
(Note to any Americans or Canadians reading this: I'm very, very sorry, but you'll have to wait till October. It's to do with publishing schedules and other things that are outside my control. But don't despair! Read on to find out how you can win a copy of the book.)
This month at Inside a Dog, I'm going to be blogging about the process of writing The FitzOsbornes at War. I'll also talk about some interesting facts I learned about wartime England. For instance, did you know that street lights and car headlights were blacked out to deter Nazi bombers, so pedestrians were advised to carry 'a small white dog, such as a Pekinese' at night? (I still don't understand how that would be helpful, unless you'd dipped your Pekinese in fluorescent paint.) And did you know that the British government even had laws about how many buttons, pleats and pockets that clothes could have? All this and more will be discussed this month.
I'll also be running a competition during April, with the prize being a signed book. The winner can choose a copy of either A Brief History of Montmaray (if you want to start reading the Montmaray Journals series from the beginning) or The FitzOsbornes at War (if you've read the first two Montmaray Journals books already). All you have to do to enter the competition is comment on one of my posts. I'll choose one commenter at random at the end of the month and announce the winner on the 30th of April. (As you have probably already worked out, the more comments you post, the more chances you have of winning. My publishers also told me I have to say this: 'This contest and/or promotion is not sponsored or authorised by Random House Australia. Random House Australia bears no legal liability in connection with this contest and/or promotion.' However, I, Michelle Cooper, do faithfully promise to send a signed book to you if you win.)
To comment on a post, just click on the blog post title (for example, this post's title is 'Introducing the FitzOsbornes . . . and me'), then scroll down to the end of the post and use the comment box to have your say or ask me a question. Anyone can comment. You don't have to log in or start an account (although you can if you want). However, if you're not logged in, your comment will appear to be written by 'anonymous', so you might like to add an initial or a nickname to the end of your comment.
Okay, then! Read on tomorrow to find out How To Write a Historical Novel in Seven Easy Steps.