life in outer space

Life in Outer Space – the US blog tour

LiOS US coverLife in Outer Space is on the road! Check out these blogs for reviews and other LiOS hijinks…

Monday

Blue Owl Reviews

Tuesday
Maestra Amanda’s Bookshelf
Boys to Books

Wednesday
Gidget’s Bookworms

Thursday
A Word’s Worth

Friday
Check back right here for a chance to win a copy!

Monday (Oct. 21)
Random Chalk Talk

Tuesday (Oct. 22)
Dear Teen Me

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Writerly gatherings

I feel like I’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking incessantly – I did my first ever radio interview, and then chatted to high school students for Book Week. I buzzed around at Melbourne Writers Festival, and shot up to Queensland for a whirlwind two days at Brisbane Writers Festival.

I’ve been meaning to write a wrap-up of the festivals ­– some words on the awesome writers I met, and the great panel discussions of all things YA, and on signing books for some fabulous young fans, and the giant crushes I’ve developed on, like, half a dozen brilliant authors who I shared the stage with (Randa Abdel-Fattah, I’m looking at you), and the weirdness of sitting in the hotel restaurant while reading a copy of Avengers Assemble, before realizing that its author, Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, was sitting at the table next to me. I don’t know what the etiquette is for fangirling while someone is trying to eat their breakfast. Potentially not awkwardly shoving their book into your bag and hurrying away before they catch sight of you reading it.

But truth be told, I’m sort of tired of talking about myself. I’ve had a blast over the past few weeks, but I am also really looking forward to curling up in my jammies with my manuscript. I’ve missed my characters. I can’t wait to be in their world again.

Oh, and also, during MWF week, this happened:

 LIFE IN OUTER SPACE IS ON THE INKY AWARDS SHORTLIST!

Needless to say, I was gobsmacked. And speechless. And so completely chuffed to be part of a list selected by young readers themselves. If you’re aged between 12 and 20, you can cast your vote here. Make sure to check out the rest of the shortlist as well. I’m honoured to be among such wonderful writers.

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After a brief intermission…

Wonder Woman

I seemed to have blinked and lost a few months of my life. I am not totally sure what happened. I suspect it may have something to do with sending my first novel out into the universe, and then starting my second novel with barely a pause in between. Apart from my poor, neglected blog, it’s actually been a productive few months. Granted, I may have abandoned my family, any hint of a social life, and occasionally, personal hygiene – but book two is taking shape! In that weird, capricious way that first drafts often do. Getting to know a cast of characters is probably my favourite part of the process – reading the books they read and listening to the music they love, and the long hours of browsing the net for the perfect bits of junk that they would have in their bedrooms. Apart from being a more useful procrastination task than checking Buzzfeed, this kind of character mining is sometimes the only thing that can drag me out of a writing funk. Which explains why, after staring at my computer for hours on Saturday night, I was struck with the overwhelming need to rush out at 9.30 p.m. to buy this Wonder Woman bobble head I’d seen in the window of my local video shop. Strangely enough, having her on my desk did help the creative energy, just a little.

Since the launch of Life in Outer Space, a couple of randomly exciting things have happened in my world:

Life in Outer Space is on the Inky Awards longlist! I’m not sure if there are rules about being excited by awards. Maybe authors are supposed to be nonchalant or whatever, but, this is a particularly cool award as it’s judged by young readers themselves. Check out the rest of the awesome list here. I’m so honoured to be in such great company.

And – LiOS, the US edition, is a few days away from hitting the shelves. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the States. For a couple of amazing months when I was younger, I lived in a tiny town in northern Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior. This town was basically just a few streets and a handful of stores; but it did have a beautiful old bookstore which was my second home while I was there. I’m not sure if that bookstore still exists. I like to think that – if it hasn’t been turned into a donut shop or something – perhaps a copy or two of my book might make it onto its shelves. 

You can find the gorgeous full dust jacket, plus a sneaky look at the first chapter here.

If you’re in the vicinity of northern Minnesota – or indeed, anywhere else in North America or Canada – hello, and welcome! Feel free to swing past the comment button and say hello…

LiOS US cover

Welcome to the world, Life in Outer Space

421520_421771737911012_143146688_nThursday evening, a bunch of lovely people gathered in a very Melbourne laneway in front of the awesome Little Bookroom for the launch party of Life in Outer Space. There was Champaign! And cupcakes! And a badge-making machine with quotes from the book, possibly the most exciting thing I have seen since – well, let’s just say I was slightly over-excited by the badges.

I focused on not toppling over in my giant heels, and on not quaking in terror as I took to the mini stage to thank the many, many people who have helped make this book a reality. I won’t reiterate the list here – there are far too many of you to mention, and hopefully you all know who you are by now.

Thanks to everyone who came down, everyone who was there in spirit, and anyone I happened to have left out of my speech. Much love and hugs to you all.

Melissa

Yes, the amazing Hardie Grant Egmont even made 'Say Anything' badges!

Yes, the amazing Hardie Grant Egmont even made ‘Say Anything’ badges!

Launch party nail art, inspired by the beautiful Steph Spartels cover design

Launch party nail art, inspired by the beautiful Steph Spartels cover design

LiOS launch party

And thanks Melbourne sky for clearing just in time…

Ah, the Sharpie. No signing would be complete without one…

The housemates, being contemplative...

The housemates, being contemplative…

The lovely Marisa Pintado, editor extraordinaire

The lovely Marisa Pintado, editor extraordinaire

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The Barbara Stanwyck of nowhere at all

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** this is not me

In a distant, or perhaps parallel universe, there is another me who is inexorably cool; I imagine her as being pretty suave – leggy, of course, coiffed in a sharp black bob, possibly perched on a bar stool in red stilettos while sipping a martini.

I think it’s pretty telling that my only reference for cool and sophisticated seems to come from bad Film Noir.

In this universe, there is a me who has been sneaking into book stores to surreptitiously photograph her book on the shelves, suppressing a little squee with every copy she manages to find.

But look. It’s so pretty.

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Cool can be next year’s New Years resolution.

Happy New Year!

My LiOS advances. They may have pride of place on my mantelpiece...

My LiOS advances. They may have pride of place on my mantelpiece…

So it’s been a busy couple of months. I had yet another birthday (which, as is typical, I did my best to ignore). I moved house (always a fun, and not at all stressful thing to do over Christmas). I made New Years resolutions, which I have promptly forgotten about three weeks later. And oh, I finished the final, final, final copy edits and tweaks and last second panics, and I sent my book to press. It’s in stores tomorrow, which is something I haven’t quite managed to get my head around yet. I’ve been chatting with lots of very cool people over the past few weeks, doing interview-type things and answering questions about my book – the sort of questions that are forcing me to think back to when Life in Outer Space was but a couple of random paragraphs on my laptop. Surprisingly, thinking about the book this way – the actual process of writing, of forming and developing a world – is a weirdly difficult thing to do. As I wade through the initial research and drafting stage of my new novel – battling the empty page and the difficult slog of a first draft – I’m finding that I need to constantly remind myself that Life in Outer Space, and these fictional people who I feel like I know so well, weren’t always fully formed. There were many, many moments where the only whiny words that my writing buddy and I could share, were, ‘writing a novel is really hard…’ It may be a naff thing for an author to admit, but two years later, these characters – Sam and Camilla and Mike and Allison and Adrian – feel like old friends to me. I hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I did.

Now, here are some links to a few of those very cool people I mentioned above:

Book Probe

Where the Writer Comes to Write

Vegan YA Nerds

‘Is the author’s name supposed to be spelt like that…?’

Working in a publishing house, there’s a particular sort of geek-fest that occurs with the arrival of the first copies of a book. Shipped straight from the printer, it’s the very first time that anyone gets to see a project – that’s typically been underway for over a year – as something other than flat sheets or a file on a screen. It’s a little hard to describe just how exciting cracking open that first box of books is. Finally being able to hold the finished, physical object in your hand; blurring your eyes a little over the cover, just in case you’ve spelt the authors name wrong (hasn’t happened yet, but there is always the sick-making fear). Typically, a bunch of people will be ooh-ing and ah-ing over it, while the editor peers through splayed fingers shrieking ‘I can’t look!’

So my novel is not quite at that stage yet. But a mini geek-fest was had nonetheless, as an advanced bound proof copy of Life in Outer Space has made its way to my house (bonus points to the postie who managed to throw it over my locked fence and land a direct hit on my doorstep, not in my trees or my next-door-neighbour’s yard, as periodically happens).

It has a cover, and a spine. It has my name on it (spelling a-ok). It’s going out into the world, to the hands of the sort of people who receive advanced proof copies – if you’re one of them, hello, welcome, would love to hear from you.

Next step: final proof read, then to press for real.
Michael approves.