With four successfully published novels already tucked under her belt, including her newly released Halo with the addition of two more novels in the series still to come, is there nothing that can stop this Aussie teenage whiz? & (Well, let\’s hope not!)
How do you balance being a normal teenager, and being a published author?
It\’s not easy! Being a writer comes with a lot more commitments than you\’d think. I do tours, signings, media events and conferences as well as the actual writing/editing process. Sometimes it\’s hard to explain to my friends why I can\’t go to a party with them, because I have to stay home and work. I love hanging out with friends, but writing became my career when I was thirteen and I had to learn to juggle and prioritise. By now, all the people I\’m close to understand my commitments and we work around them.
Do you have any other aspirations outside of writing? Are you still involved in any sort of productions or performing arts?
Besides writing, my only other aspiration is to act. I get an amazing thrill out of performing. It\’s similar to the writing process because it\’s all about getting inside the head of a character and understanding their thought-processes and motives. Both are about telling a story, only one is about visually bringing it to life and the other is about scripting it. I also love singing/performing in general. In the future, I\’d love to have a chance to pursue that.
What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
Go hard or go home! It\’s just about not doing things by halves. In order to achieve personal satisfaction you should always give 110% to whatever you\’re doing. It works for writers, because the idea is to throw yourself into your writing project, give it everything you\’ve got, try to improve it in any way you can and do your best to create something that you can be truly proud of. When you do that, you have a much better chance of getting others to see it\’s potential.
What did you find to be the most difficult part of the publishing process?
There comes a time when you\’ve finished writing a book and you\’re sitting back, relieved that the final word is written, when you have to go back and do a massive edit to get everything into shape. It\’s about tightening up the dialogue and ironing out any plot flaws. It\’s like when you make a cake and you\’ve put all the ingredients in, but you still have to beat it smooth! It\’s hard because all you want to do is celebrate, but the work isn\’t over yet!
Have your friends and family always been supportive of your writing pursuits? And who is your biggest supporter?
My mum is definitely my biggest supporter. Being an English teacher makes her look at language with a very critical eye which makes her great to bounce ideas off. She\’s not the sort of mum who tells you what you want to hear. If she doesn\’t like something she\’ll be like: “Honey that\’s rubbish!” But she\’s been there every step of the way. She\’s taking time off to come with me on my US book tour in two weeks and she\’s the best advisor I could ask for. My friends have also been very supportive. They come along to events and cheer me on and generally make a spectacle of themselves!
Have you ever had writers block? And how do you cope with or get through it?
I try to treat writing as a job like any other. If I worked in an office, I couldn\’t say to my boss: “I\’m not in the mood to work today. I\’m just not feelin\’ it!” We all have times when we wake up in the morning and think, “Urgh, I don\’t feel inspired today,” but regardless of that, it\’s important to write anyway. True inspiration hits infrequently and at inconvenient times! Alternatively, I sometimes listen to music to get me in the right frame of mind. Sometimes it helps to have little exercises or a routine that helps you relax and frees up your thoughts.
Is there some advice you would like to offer to other young aspiring authors?
Don\’t ever feel like your age is a disadvantage. Young people have so much to offer and they are being welcomed in the publishing industry. It\’s important to take as much constructive criticism on board as possible and learn from those around you. Try not to be too protective about your work â€“ everybody is a reader and it\’s them you want to engage.
When did you first come up with the idea for Halo? And how long has the process been, from coming up with the idea to being published?
The idea for Halo actually came about in 2008, after I studied religion in high-school. It got me thinking about the idea of basing a novel on what I was learning and I thought of angel were such fascinating creatures. I knew if I wrote the book, it would primarily be a love story. I didn\’t think my publishers would like the idea, so I didn\’t tell them. I finally mentioned it to my publisher and got an email back saying: “Drop everything â€“ we\’re running with this idea!” The book was then written in 2009, when I was doing my final year of high-school. My writing was interspersed with studying and exams so it took a whole year to get the manuscript finished and the editing process continued right up until a few weeks before the book went to print in July of 2010.
I love the cover of Halo! (It really does capture your attention.) How much say did you get over what your book cover would be? And are you happy with the result?
I love the Halo cover! I was actually sent a whole range of cover ideas and asked to choose which ones I liked best. We had some that were iconic (a single feather) and some featured photographs and various illustrations, but the cover that was chosen had such a brilliant background with the sunset and the wings against it. Originally, Xavier looked a little bit different, but I explained to the designer how I wanted him to look and he totally nailed it!
Why angels? Was there something that you found particularly intriguing about angels?
I am a huge fan of the paranormal genre, but I didn\’t want to write about vampires or werewolves! I realised that most of the novels out there were featuring dark supernatural creatures and I thought it would be cool to write characters that are genuinely good. Angels are terrifyingly powerful â€“ in the Bible they reduced a whole city to rubble and ash. They\’re messengers of God and they bring destruction in the name of righteousness. They are so removed from humanity and I was totally intrigued by them.
Do you find that you relate a lot of your own personal experiences, and the experiences of those around you with the characters and events that happen in your novel?
Absolutely. Almost all of Bethany\’s interactions with Xavier, family and friends are based on my own life experiences. When I was describing the angelic-world it was a based on biblical references and my own imagination, but when I was talking about the world of teenagers, that was drawn directly from my own life. I\’m writing for my own age group and so it makes sense to use real-life events and conversations in order to help readers relate to the story. I only wish there was a real-life Xavier!!
With your first book in the Halo trilogy now hitting the shelves, readers are going to want to know, what\’s up next for Bethany and Xavier? Any hints into what\’s to come in the next two novels?
Book III, Heaven is still a work in progress but I can give you a few hints about Book II, Hades!
- Jake is back with a vengeance and he\’s out to get Xavier
- Bethany is torn away from her life and her family
- Part of the novel is set in Hell
- The action and the drama really ramps-up
- The demons play dirty!
I also believe you\’re going on tour in the US soon. Is this your first time to the US? And do you have any â€˜must-do/must-see\’ goals for while you\’re there?
I have been to the US twice now, once to meet my agent and publishers and then again to do a pre-publicity buzz tour for Halo. This tour will be different because I\’ll be on the road for a month and I will get to check out a whole lot of cities in the US. Unfortunately, I don\’t get much time for sight-seeing because we don\’t stay in a city for more than two days or so, but I am really excited to go to a fashion show in Memphis, Tennessee and visit Austin and Nashville (the homes of country music!)
And finally, if you could pick any song to be the theme of Halo, what song would you pick?
Oh that\’s tricky! There are so many songs that remind me of Halo. I\’ll go with Last Day On Earth by Kate-Miller Heidke. “Between, the dust and the debris. There\’s a light, surrounding you and me.”
Well, a big thank-you to Alexandra Adornetto for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions, and we wish her every luck in the future.
As for everyone who hasn\’t read Halo yet, it has hit the shelves! (Just look for the gorgeous sunset cover and angel wings. *sigh*)
Available now: HarperCollins RRP$24.99