An Australian author living in Norway

Tag: amaranth

Open mic night

A couple of times a year, Oslo’s Litteraturhuset (House of Literature) holds an open mic night for new writers of all kinds to come and share their work. Last week, I participated for the first time, reading the opening of my novel, Amaranth. I was lucky enough to have an entourage with me (fellow members of the Oslo International Writers’ Group) who not only cheered me on, but offered to take a video of my reading as well. Here is the result:

I was proud to participate in such a fun evening, and to receive such great support, not only from my friends, but from all who listened. The other participants read poetry, stories and novel fragments in both Norwegian and English, and were impressive in their range, skill and enthusiasm. Some were funny, others dramatic, but all were heartfelt and brave. I look forward to the next one in September.

Brought to you by…

I am very pleased and excited to announce that Amaranth and I are now represented by Michelle Johnson of The Corvisiero Agency. Michelle is a published author, professional editor and is now working under Marisa Corvisiero who launched her own agency earlier this year. They’re a great team and I’m really looking forward to working with them.

The next part of the journey is likely to be slow and, at times, painful, but I’ve been so motivated by Michelle’s enthusiasm for and confidence in Amaranth’s potential, that I’m feeling positive about the road ahead. Of course it helps that I’m busy working on the next book in the series, Sweet Alyssum, and have mapped out the plot for the third and final book, Bella Donna.

As we progress, I will post news and developments here and on my Facebook Page.

For those authors who are on the hunt for an agent, you have my sympathy and good wishes; it’s not an easy process and there were times I almost gave up. Indeed, I had a plan to publish under a small, indie imprint by the end of the year if I found no success in the big leagues. However, persistence pays (as well as having a strong product to sell and a very strong query letter). By the time I signed with Michelle, I had submitted over 50 queries in both the UK and United States and received something like four requests for the full or partial manuscript.

It’s a tough time in the industry and you do need to have a thick skin to get through the process unscathed. I read that something like 3% of all queried books are taken up by agents, and still only half or less than those go on to get a publishing contract, then of that tiny percentage, many will sell less than 100 copies. Sobering statistics for the aspiring author. But, as most writers will tell you, very few people are in this line of work for money. Most of us do it for the joy of writing – and I’m definitely one of those.

Next steps

Things became interesting this week when I received not one, but two requests from New York literary agencies who want to read more of Amaranth. It’s both exciting and terrifying to come so close: it could be the start of something huge, or it could just give me further to fall. But what I want to be able to take away from this development is the knowledge that there are at least two agents out there who think my work is worth their time. That is HUGE.

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A Sequel to Amaranth

I’ve just begun work on a sequel to Amaranth, and although I won’t share too much about the actual story just yet, I can tell you how it came about. Originally, Amaranth was quite a different story; it was still based on a girl who committed suicide, but I had a completely different story planned for her than the one she ended up with. I had planned for Amaranth to have two very distinct parts, the first where Eva discovers her new existence and meets young Nicky and Elliot, the second would take place around ten years later when Nicky was eighteen and Elliot into his twenties. By the time I was halfway through the plan for what Amaranth eventually became, I realised I was never going to fit all of it into one book, especially since there are quite strict word limits for first-time authors as a rule. I’d also had real trouble with how to manage such a significant time jump without having to spend a long time describing what had happened in the interim and boring readers to sleep.

The best way I could think to tackle this problem was to further develop what I had in mind for Amaranth and split the whole idea into two books. But then the book took on a life of its own, and Timothy asserted himself into a main character in a way I hadn’t intended. He became key to the whole story and made it so that the second book could never really be about Eva.

The result is that though Book Two will essentially have the same plot I’d always intended, it won’t be a linear follow-on to Eva’s story. There will be new characters, and the ones we already met in Amaranth will have ten more years under their belts and will have changed in ways even I hadn’t anticipated.


In ancient Greece the peerless beauty, Amaranth, walks into the Alcyonian Lake and drowns, becoming the first immortal eidolon, cursed to forever wander amongst the living, unseen and unheard. Thousands of years later in the modern-day city of Lennox, nineteen-year-old Eva Hamilton throws herself off a cliff and awakens unharmed on the rocks below. With no memory of why she jumped and unaware she is bound by an ancient curse, she must find a way to either accept or escape her fate.

Back in 2009 I awoke one morning from a dream that I had started writing a novel about a girl called Eva. The name of the book in the dream is way too embarrassing to share with you, but it did plant the seed of an idea in my mind.

When I was a child, I used to write little books, complete with (terrible) illustrations, staple them together and give them away as gifts. Even back then I would brag about how I was going to be an author when I grew up.

The problem was that I never had any truly good ideas. Even when I decided to study professional writing in my 20s, I had a horrible time coming up with ideas to complete the assignments. I’m fairly sure most of what I wrote was complete rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, the writing itself was quite sound, at least if my grades were anything to go by, but it was the fact that it was based on almost nothing that brought it down.

So anyway, after I had the Eva dream I started to think about writing again for the first time in years. Walking home from work one day I looked around at the other people going about their business and thought to myself, “I really don’t pay attention to any of these people. They could be the walking dead, and I would never know.” And the idea for Amaranth was born.

Once I made a start, the ideas, for once, came thick and fast. I just sat down one evening and started to write, and the more I wrote, the more the story formed in my mind. I badgered my partner constantly about whether he thought this or that idea was good and, though he would claim otherwise, he helped me shape the idea into something I could apply a story to.

Not long afterwards, I fell pregnant with my daughter and the whole project was more or less shelved. I did write bits and pieces while I was traveling for work in Japan and the US, but there was something about the plot-line I had in mind that just didn’t sit right. I decided to leave it alone for a while and concentrate 100% on motherhood.

Throughout my daughter’s first year, Amaranth would pop up and swim about in my head now and then, the idea would morph and change, and then slink back into my subconscious. It wasn’t until she started in kindergarten and I had a few moments to myself that I felt ready to think about it seriously again. I cringed as I took out what I had written nearly two years before, ready to throw out the lot and start again.

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