Review: Jodi Picoult – The Storyteller

Late last year I was lucky enough to receive from Allen and Unwin, an advance copy of The Story Teller, by Jodi Picoult, to review.

I devoured the book in a day or two, it was brilliant.

Here’s my review:

Jodi Picoult never fails to deliver. In “The Storyteller” she succeeds, as always, in capturing the truth of the human condition, in delving deep in human emotions and laying them bare for all to see and feel alongside her characters. Sage is a young woman, hiding from the world so as not to face her scars – both emotional and physical, who befriends an elderly gentleman by the name of Josef, known for his good work in the community. He too has scars, terrible things in his past he has hidden for far too long, and now he wants only two things – death and forgiveness. Both of which he asks of Sage.

Through his request Sage learns of the terrible parts of her own history, and her grandmother’s past.

“What is the point in trying to put down on paper emotions that are too complex, too huge, too overwhelming to be confined by an alphabet… If you lived through it you know there are no words that will ever come close to describing it. And if you didn’t, you will never understand.”

Perhaps these words, spoken by Minka, grandmother of Sage and survivor of the holocaust, are true. No words can describe the true horror of such an experience, and yet Jodi’s words still manage to convey enough of a sense of what happened to have me reaching for the tissues, my children asking what was wrong.

The Storyteller is, as to be expected, a brilliant novel, I couldn’t put it down.

And now, I am really excited because my review was picked among many others as part of the promotion of the book! How exciting is that!! And even better – Allen and Unwin are giving readers the chance to win an advance copy on their Facebook page: https://apps.facebook.com/allenandunwinbooks/giveaways/Enter/6382

Good luck!! 😀

Advertisements

Writing from the Vacuum

Recently my father-in-law asked me about my writing. Specifically, how I write about things that I don’t know about. He said ‘obviously you don’t write from a vacuum, it has to come from somewhere’.

And I agreed. I talked about research, and how I could do a little research, and get an idea about something, but that someone who knew better would see the problems in my writing, would know I didn’t really know what I was writing about. (Unless of course I’d done heaps of research and then hopefully I would be able to express myself properly, in a way that would show that I did know my topic as best as I was able, without experiencing it myself).

But then I came away and thought about it. And I think, really, that my best writing comes when I am writing from a vacuum. Though I tend not to think of it in quite those terms.

For me, it’s being in the zone, totally focused, unaware of my surroundings, even the keyboard I”m typing on. Everything is the story. When I have those moments, I can easily write 2500 words in half an hour. Easily. Getting into that zone can be hard work though. Trying to get my children to pester my partner for drinks/snacks/general conversation while I’m writing can be extremely difficult. The other day my dearest daughter took my writing time as a personal offence and kept interrupting me to bring me artwork and cards with “I love you Mum”, and a paper bracelet she’d made just for me, just in case I was angry at her for something. It was so precious and I told her so, and of course reassured her that I loved her too, and was not angry at her, but I really just needed the time to write.

After an hour I had only written about 500 words. The next half hour wasn’t much better, but after forcing myself through the painful process of forcefully extracting words from my head, something clicked and suddenly I was there. In the next half hour I had written well over 1000 words.

I have seen research about this ‘zone’. A TED talk I do believe, and possibly a post on the Office of Letter’s and Light blog (actually I think the link to the TED talk was in the blog… ) If anyone knows what I’m talking about, I’d love the link again, because I cannot find it anywhere!

Anyway, the general gist of the talk was that creative people use a different part of their brain when creating, and when they are in the zone, other parts of their brain do shut down, and amazing things happen.

For me, the story writes itself. The characters do things I had never expected, they reveal aspects of themselves that were never in my outlines and planning. The story veers off track and reveals new exciting paths, paths that usually much better than the one I had planned to follow.

Are you creative in any way? Have you experienced this ‘zone’? Have any thoughts about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts! And don’t forget, I have two more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program, and Homeschooling…

My son’s picture of his character, and the castle he lives in.

 

I want to start by saying that I am not a homeschooler. I have certainly thought about it in the past, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying at some point in the future, but for now my son goes to a great school, (and my daughter is VERY excited to be starting next year!) and lets face it, I get more writing done without them at home 😉

But doing the YWP with my son had shown me how useful it could be, on so many levels for homeschoolers. Maths, as we work out the overall word count, and how many words need to be written each day. More maths, as DS counts his words-so-far each day, and works out how many more he has to write. There’s spelling as he tries to write new words, and synonyms as we discuss using different words to mean the same thing. Come December there’ll be grammer too, when we go over his story for a proper edit. There’s art and drawing, as he draws pictures of his characters and their home (see above picture). 🙂

We could start in October – using the YWP Workbooks that are downloadable from the site. These guide YWP participants in what makes a novel, and how to develop and plot out their own.  We could start the month by reading a novel, noting the characters, the points of conflict, and resolve, then work on his own book, the planning for that. It could involve research of another topic, which in turn leads to more literacy and numeracy as he encounters new words.

On the other hand, trying to keep my son focused for more than 20 mins is proving difficult, and I wonder how I would deal with that on a daily basis.

DS will be away over the weekend, so he wrote 157 words today, in various stints and with various incentives (the one that worked – money – he wants to take his pocket money with him on the weekend, and I said he had to reach 150 words!)

Total word count DS: 507,

Me: 16,395

Are there any other homeschoolers reading this, who are doing the YWP with your children? I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget, I have three more copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)

And the winner is…

The first winner of a copy of The Secret Keeper by Kater Morton is:

 

Laura!! YAY!! I’ll send you an email shortly to let you know you’ve won and get some details from you!! 🙂

Don’t forget there are 3 more copies to give away, over the next 3 weeks. Keep commenting!! 😀

And for those of you who’ve only just stumbled across the blog – check out this post to see the great book that’s up for grabs!!

Book Giveaway!! – Kate Morton “The Secret Keeper”

 

In a bucolic English summer at the end of the 1960s, a young girl witnesses a shocking crime. Fifty years later, she sets out to find out the truth, uncovering layers of mystery and deception. Moving from London during the Blitz to the present day, this is classic Kate Morton: a compulsively-readable, entrancing mystery with a long held secret to be uncovered at its heart.

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.
2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Doesn’t it sound fascinating!!

The Secret Keeper is published by Allen & Unwin and is due for release in Australia and New Zealand in November, but is already available in the UK and US.

And click the link below to see Kate Morton’s take on finishing The Secret Keeper!

http://www.katemorton.com/blog/2012/7/26/the-secret-keeper-is-coming.html

 

For a chance to win one of 4 copies of this brilliant book, be sure to comment on my blog over the coming weeks.  During the next month I’ll be sharing my experiences as I take part in my 5th Nanowrimo, (my 7th if you count Camp Nano!!), novelling alongside my son who is taking part in the Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program. I’ll be giving away 1 book each week to a random commenter from that week. So come say hello, and tell me all about your own writing and/or reading experiences.