eyE[before]Adina West

AdinaWest300dpiThis week’s eyE is on the talented Adina West. I had the pleasure of seeing Adina speak in a panel at ‘Forest for the Trees’ as part of the Sydney Writer’s Festival last fortnight. Adina is an up-and-coming author who’s debut novel, ‘Dark Child’ is being released in a revolutionary serialised format by Momentum Books (a digital branch of Pan Macmillan). The episodic release of Adina’s exciting new paranormal fantasy series (which reached #1 in the iTunes book store in Australia and NZ on May 1st) has the potential to change the face of e-publishing as we know it. Luckily for us, Adina has been gracious enough to grace us with her presence.

An interview no independent or mainstream author should miss; the lovely, lively, and lexicological Adina West.


What first made you want to become a writer?

“I was bitten by the bug when I was too young to remember or pinpoint a reason. I’ve dallied with writing since I was in primary school, and I think I still have a hand-typed draft, with pictures, of a children’s book I wrote called ‘Maura goes shopping’. Yummy afternoon teas seemed to be a focus in my writing at that age. Very Enid Blyton!

“More to the point is what first made me finally make the mental leap to thinking seriously about seeking publication. And I can certainly identify that! It came from me reading Stephenie Meyer’s website, which at the time contained, and perhaps still does, a long account of the process she went through in writing Twilight in only a few months, and then sending it to a publisher on the urging of her sister. She mentioned fitting writing in around normal mothering duties like taking her kids to swimming lessons, and as I’d recently had my first child and was both sleep deprived and time poor, her story really resonated. It’s not a unique scenario by any means, but it came at the right time and spurred me on to take the next step. Self belief and persistence are enormously important to writers. I realised all sorts of things are possible if you want them badly enough.”

Your paranormal fantasy novel, ‘Dark Child’, has recently been released in a serialised format. Do you believe that serialisation of e-books and novels could become a standardised, or even more commonplace, form of release for e-books?

“It’s hard to say whether it’s a trend that will endure. It’s certainly very popular at the moment, particularly for self-published erotic fiction. It allows a first instalment to be offered cheaply or for free, and the ‘loss leader’ idea is a great marketing strategy in this electronic age when discoverability of product has become the single biggest sales barrier. Perhaps when the marketplace is flooded with serialised fiction this choice by authors and publishers will drop in popularity as it’ll no longer be a point of difference.

“But right now we’re seeing a resurgence not just of serialised e-books, where each instalment is often 20,000 words or less, but also anything written in a series. Series certainly aren’t new, particularly in fantasy where for years it’s probably fair to say they’ve been the dominant form. But in YA and NA fiction, and in both contemporary and traditional romance, it’s becoming more and more common to see authors writing books that are interlinked. One of the very newest trends I’ve noticed is where an author writes an interlinked pair of books, with both covering the same events but from opposing viewpoints (usually male and female protagonists). A recent example is author Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster duology.”

How do you envision the evolution of the paranormal fantasy genre in a ‘post-Twilight’ world?

“I’m not sure that should be phrased as a speculative question on what the future will hold because I think we’ve already seen very significant evolution in this genre since Twilight. An entire generation of teenagers has had their reading experience informed by its presence. The single biggest contribution Twilight’s success made was to move paranormal and urban fantasy fiction out of the shadowy realms of genre niche and into the mainstream market. Literally millions of new readers tried Twilight as their first ever foray into the genre, and have since become fans of paranormal fiction. YA fiction is certainly rife with paranormal offerings!

“With a vast increase in potential readership for the genre, so much more experimentation and genre blending is possible, and certainly people have realised the huge amount the genre offers to readers who love romance! Pre-Twilight, mainstream readers hadn’t heard of PNR (paranormal romance) at all, and the word ‘vampire’ would make them instantly anticipate a story steeped in horror and gothic elements. Times – and reader expectations – have certainly changed.”

As a writer of paranormal urban fantasy, how do you feel the advent of e-books, the internet, and the inevitability of globalisation have affected the narrative mechanics of the genre, particularly in regards to world culture?

“I think the directness of an author’s response to these changes is commensurate with their understanding and acceptance of such realities. The world can change all it wants, but some writers, and their readers, will continue on much as they always have. There are, and will always be, traditionalists. But within the genre as a whole, I think we’re already seeing big shifts, particularly from writers outside the U.S.. Hmmm, wonder why that is?

“Distribution of fiction has become international and I personally think the opportunity to cater for a much more diverse audience than ever before is a wonderful challenge. I think one author who is doing some very interesting things in this regard is New Zealand PNR/UF author Nalini Singh, who sets her work in a fictionalised near-future. She has stories that span the globe and include characters of every ethnicity and skin hue imaginable.

“Personally, I’m a bit of a magpie in this regard, and I’ve always liked the possibility of being able to pick and choose elements I’d like to include from as broad a range of options as possible! An international canvas suits me just fine. That said, I have my traditional leanings too. Having grown up with a vampire mythology rooted in Eastern Europe (where my mother was born, incidentally!) I have found it hard to discount this. But immortal or near immortal beings with plenty of time on their hands would logically have travelled the world, and there’s plenty of scope for narrative diversity in that.”

A dyslexic vampyre-slayer, a syphilitic succubus, and a werebadger with alopecia engage in violent combat to see who gets the last slice of birthday cake. Who is the obvious winner, and why?

“I don’t want to be the one to tell him, but that balding werebadger should see his GP ASAP. Alopecia is a symptom of second stage syphilis, so him and the succubus? Well, I don’t want to point fingers…but when she finds out what he’s ‘passed on’ (and a succubus always finds out – they’ll suck the answers right out of your mind at a moment of weakness) the two of them will be too busy fighting to notice the vampyre-slayer nipping in and scoffing that cake…”


DarkChild_OMNIBUS_Adina_WestAdina’s premiere paranormal fantasy book ‘Dark Child’ is out now. Episode 1 can be purchased here, or it can be bought as a collected Omnibus edition here. Also, be sure to check out Adina’s website – AdinaWest.com

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Ani-Maybe

Not everyone is as big a fan of cartoons as I am, of this I am aware.

Culturally, the idea of adult-oriented cartoons is still relatively new to the west and has only really begun to gain momentum in the last 10 years. As with all art-forms however, animation is ever gaining greater and greater degrees of refinement. Where we once were drawing boxy farm-houses with smiley faced suns, ready to be stuck on our parents’ refrigerators, we now paint broad spanning murals and Sistine-Chapel-esque visual epics which elevate the heart and expand the mind. And the development of this modern art form is prevalent nowhere more so than in Japan.

Though it’s sometimes graphic, often lewd, and almost always requires a heightened suspension of disbelief, Japanese anime plumbs the conceptual depths of what animators and animated-story-tellers are capable of getting away with. Still, perhaps the most inaccessible thing about Eastern cartoon culture isn’t the adult themes it perpetuates so much as the ‘culture-shock’ factor. There is no mistaking that there are some very distinct cultural differences between the post-imperialistic Western world and historically isolationist East Asia. Did you know that Japan actually only consented to open its harbours to the world at large a little over 100 years ago (under threat of bombardment by the U.S. naval fleet)? That may sound like a long time to we mortal specks of dust, but from a broader historical and anthropological perspective it really isn’t.

In the interest of mending this ancient cultural rift between intercontinental demographics, I have composed a list of my top 5 recommended anime titles. If you’re uncertain about getting into anime, here’s your jumping on point. Open yourself up to the idea of a potentially perpendicular cultural outlook and check some of them out.

And remember, maturity isn’t the same thing as getting old.

death-note

  1. Death Note – I can’t say enough good things about Death Note. A dark, adult themed anime series which takes the focus away from the usual anime tropes of action and sex. Death Note is about a teenager named Light who finds a notebook which has the ability to kill anybody in the world when he writes their name it. Light takes on the power of a death god and begins punishing the wicked with his newfound power in a misguided attempt to make the world a better place. But the real battle begins when an investigator named L discovers Light’s existence behind the scenes, and a battle of wits commences…
  2. Princess Mononoke – Part of princess-mononokethe ‘Studio Ghibli’ collection of movies, Studio Ghibli have time and time again proven that they are capable of making enchanting epics which capture the hearts of adults and children alike. Princess Mononoke follows a young boy who is poisoned by a strange corruption. His journey leads him to discover the imbalance between the manmade and natural worlds, and teaches us all the value of respecting both the earth and ourselves. Once you’ve watched this, pick up any other Studio Ghibli film and drink it in. Think Japanese Disney.
  3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Not to be fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhoodconfused with ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’, FMA:B is a reboot of an older series and is vastly superior to the original. It follows the story of the Elrich brothers, two young Alchemists who learn at a young age that you can’t make something from nothing. A thoughtful story with a heavy basis on medieval mysticism and religion, FMA:B is a well-made, well-rounded anime series I can happily recommend.
  4. Redline – A more recent movie, but no less deserving as a place-holder. Redline is set in a future where land-based transport has become all but redlineextinct, and the last of the land-racers compete in a race called the Redline; a winner-takes-all, turbo-charged, nitro-wracked dash to the finish. The eye-bleeding animation in this movie takes the genre to a new level. The solid plot and kick-ass action sequences help also. 🙂
  5. Ghost in the Shell – A cult classic that helped define the cyberpunk genre. Ghost in the Shell takes place in a dystopian future, and examines the evolution of technology and the moral implications cybernetics might have on the existence of a human soul. As good today as it was twenty years ago. Fun fact – the architecture in GitS is based on Kowloon Walled City, a tightly compressed architectural nightmare with so many sky-rises squashed in that the landmass was incapable of supporting it. As a result, the city had to be demolished. Great movie, with a stunningly designed backdrop.ghost-in-the-shell

Before I sign off, a couple of quick shout outs. E[b]E friend Dionne Lister is having a sale on her first book, Shadows of the Realm, which is down to $1.99 for the next week. The sequel, A Time of Darkness, came out last month making this a great jumping on point for any fantasy fans out there.

Also, our other friend (yes, all two of them :)) Charity Parkerson is having a sale of her book, The Society of Sinners (first book in the Sinners Series), which is down to $0.99. It’s a good time to own a Kindle, guys. 🙂