Category Archives: Friends on Friday

A focus on some of my literary friends.

Interview with Maggie O’Hara


Today I am privileged to be interviewing Margie O’Hara, author and illustrator of the children’s book “The Elly Rose Adventures”


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an architect or author.


When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

I wrote my first children’s chapter book at age 8 years old. I still have the old manuscript at home. It’s faded and barely readable now.


What is your favourite childhood book?

Anything from Enid Blyton and of course CS Lewis.


What do you think is the biggest misconception about your genre?

That authors make heaps of money or that writing a children’s book is easy.


What or who inspired you to write “The Elly Rose Adventures”?

I wanted to write a travel adventure aimed at children. There are heaps of travel books for adults, but not a lot for children. I want to inspire children to travel and experience different cultures. Travel and writing are my two passions and I wanted to combine both into a children’s story for my future grandchildren (one day). I have been lucky to have travelled to many different places around the world and have many photos to turn into illustrations.


Was it harder to write the story or illustrate it?

Most definitely harder to write it. I start back to front from most authors. I have the basic idea, the place and the setting in mind. I then take photos from different angles to use later in the illustrations. Often the illustrations start to take on their own life and shape the story accordingly. Then I fine tune the illustrations to fit the final story.


How long did it take to complete the project

12 months from the first idea. It took a couple of concepts before I settled on the final layout and feel.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have a go at something, don’t worry about what other people think. You will never reach your full potential if you listen to people who say it can’t be done.


Is the character Elly Rose based on a real person?

Loosely off my niece Azalea who has wild red hair and wants to travel the world one day. The artwork for the character was created by a US artist Rebecca McMeen. I was searching for a redheaded girl and came across her. I approached Rebecca and purchased the commercial rights to use her. I change her dresses and the things in her hair for each page.



What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to travel to unusual and varied places and take photographs. I love exploring different angles, textures and lines. Sometimes I think I should have studied photography.


The title suggests there will be more than one adventure for Elly Rose. Where will she travel to next?

Elly Rose has been invited to the Maranaoa district to do a country lifestyle, which will make great illustrations. I would love for Elly Rose to travel to many different places around Australia. Anywhere that has interesting places to photograph, which in turn will make beautiful illustrations. I am open to suggestions form the readers. I also have quite a few overseas destinations in mind.



How big a part does social media have in marketing your book?

Since many of the book shops are now closing, I think Social Media will take over and become very important in this series. She has a blog where she travels virtually and my hope is children will become mini ambassadors for where they live and send me images and 5 reasons why she should visit. I can then drop her into a photo and share on the blog page.


How can people “Follow” Elly Rose.

Facebook- The Elly Rose Adventures

Website- (follow the blog attached)


What other marketing strategies have you used to promote your book?

An exhibition of the illustrations at the Thuringowa Library was very successful and I sold several limited edition prints. The prints are 100 of each illustration, signed and numbered with certificates of authenticity. I will be developing an education pack for schools and day-care centres.


What merchandising if any will you have?

Books for two different age groups $19.95 each or one of each for $30

Postcards of the illustrations $4

Limited edition prints on watercolour paper from $35


How can people purchase “The Elly Rose Adventures”?

From the website or by emailing me at I still looking for stockists to stock the book. I can’t offer the full retail mark-up as I want to keep the price under $20 and to print small quantities is quite expensive.  I will be doing a market stall soon and will advertise on facebook where and when. I am in negotiation with a couple of cafes to stock the book at the moment.


How are the illustrations done?

I start with my own photo and digitally manipulate it in Photoshop with many layers, slowly adding and texture and depth to each piece. Some images have over 30 layers and take over two months to get just right.


Thank you so much for your time.

Interview with Benjamin Patterson


Today my interview is with Benjamin Patterson author of the Fantasy Novel “The Shadow of His Hand”. His book launch will at the Townsville Greek Community Centre on 13th of June 2017 at 7 pm. (RSVP

What is your favourite childhood book?

I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t like reading as a child. In fact, I don’t remember reading a novel for enjoyment’s sake until I was 19 – It was ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ by Terry Goodkind.  I remember seeing the map on the inside cover and knew I had to read it.


What were you good at English in school?

Yeah, I was a straight A student. I preferred speaking to writing, though.


What is your genre and what draws you to it?

I love fantasy, coming of age stories. I’m a bit cliché really and prefer the older fantasy tales. I love books about destiny, duty and love. I’m not really drawn to modern fantasy where the characters all seem to be fighting to see who can be the nastiest and most evil.


Do you have a special time/day to write?

I work full time and have four children.  I write whenever I can, usually that’s at night once the little ones are snoring.


How long did it take to write your book?

I started ten years before it’s publication. It took ages because I kept giving up – literally every time I went back and read what I had written.  It wasn’t until I turned 30 (4 years ago) that I decided I would put my head down and finish it.  My wife and friends were the ones who convinced me not to give up.


Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m not very good at planning. Instead, I have key scenes and finish points in my head that I’m always writing towards.


Did you proofread/edit your own book or did you get someone to do it for you? If someone else, how did you choose them?

I used a few people to help me proofread and edit. My wife, for one, and her mother who is a magazine proofreader.  I also paid for a professional assessment of my novel and a professional proofread just before publication.  I chose them based on how helpful their websites were.


Where did you get your information or ideas for your book?

That’s a tough question. I did a fair bit of research about old-school sailing ships, just to make sure my terminology was correct. Other than that, I have no idea where my ideas come from.


What is your writing Kryptonite? Do you believe in writer’s block?

I’m a terrible procrastinator. Unless someone else gives me a deadline, I’m likely to take my time.  If writer’s block exists, I’m yet to experience it.


What did you edit out of this book?

I didn’t edit out any plot lines or characters, but I did cut a lot of over-explaining that I had in earlier drafts.


Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

My main character is reluctant prison guard called Fredrick. He doesn’t do anything special, which is the way I like it. He’s in way over his head, has a loose tongue, and loathes responsibility. His special power, if you could call it that, is that he’s the only person in the whole kingdom who can get a certain infant to stop screaming. (hint: the infant is a pretty important person)


How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t really think long about names. As I write, I usually pick the first name or two that comes to my head.


Who/What was your favourite character to write?

I really enjoy writing from Jaithe’s perspective. She’s quite cynical and not backward in coming forward. Her dialogue was fun.


What was your hardest scene to write?

Wow. Tough question. They were all pretty hard in some way or another.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

You don’t get any prizes for starting something. You have to finish it.


Do you think that giving books away free works and why? What other marketing strategies have you used?

I’m launching my novel next month (June 13) and am definitely going to be hosting some giveaways on goodreads.  Whilst I’d like to be a full-time writer one day, I’m happy to lose money on my first novel. I just want it to be read.


If your novel was turned into a movie, who would you like to be cast in the main roles?

Fredrick (Main Character) – Maybe a young Chris Pratt.  He has a bit of humour in him.

Princess Kathryn – Kate Beckinsale, maybe.  I don’t know.  I never really thought about it.


What scene would you most hate for them to cut from the movie?

That’s easy. I have a scene where the High King gets to choose his bride from among any willing woman in the Realm.  They come from all over the place and line up for him.  It doesn’t go to plan. It’s a favourite scene of mine and of those who’ve read the book so far.


How can people purchase your book?

It will be available on every digital and print platform known to man… but for the moment, pre-orders can be made here.

Thanks so much for your time.


Interview with Sarah Williams


Today I am interviewing Sarah Williams, author of “The Brothers of Brigadier Station. This romance novel is the first book Sarah has published and her up and coming book launch will at Riverway Arts Center (in Townsville) on the 9th of June at 6.30pm.

You can find her website at

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was 14 when I read my first adult book. It was an historical romance by Janet Dailey called “This Calder Range”. I was hooked by page 4. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

What is the first book that made you cry?

That same book as above. It was very emotional.

Were you good at English?

I was average. I’m still not good with grammar.

Which writers inspire you?

I read voraciously so it changes a lot! Barbara Hannay and Joanna Penn are my “mentors” One for writing and one for business.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Romance. I love a good love story.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when the muse is flowing?

I try to write at least 4 days a week. I can usually get 1000 words in an hour on a first draft. Editing takes a lot longer though.

Where do your ideas come from?

I have way too many ideas. I get them from talking to people, watching TV, reading magazines. I have an ideas book which is almost full.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? If someone else, how did you choose them?

I read my book several times while editing. I also read it aloud to myself. When I am happy with it I send it to my editors then beta readers.

 Tell us about the cover and how it came about? Who designed your book cover?

I looked at a lot of other rural romance covers and thought hard about what I wanted it to portray. The man in my story needs to remain a mystery so he is a darkened figure. My designer is also my formatter. Her name is Lana Pecherczyk and I met her through the Romance Writers of Australia. I have made a lot of contacts through this amazing organisation.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?

I made my own youtube trailer.  Was really easy and free.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Getting the language and voice right. My heros are all from the outback so there is their accent and slang. In the end, because my book is aimed for the US market (with US spelling) I had to take out most of the slang but still try to keep their Aussie voice.

Do you hide any family secrets or jokes in your books that only a few people will know about?

No, but everyone keeps asking me if this is a true story! No, it’s fiction.

How do you relax?

Netflix and Foxtel.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Nope. Butt in the chair, hands on the keyboard. You can’t edit a blank page.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I plan to publish 2 books a year, every year. I would love to see my stories on TV or movies. This is my career and I love it.

What, if any, literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

We went out to Julia Creek for research when I was still outlining. I also go to the annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference. This year it’s in Brisbane.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your genre?

That it’s trash. Romance is the biggest selling genre in the world and romance readers read heaps more than anyone else. The possibilities as a romance writer are endless and the community is so supportive.

How and when can people purchase “The Brothers of Brigadier Station?”

Print editions are out now. They can be found in the TWPC (Townsville Writers and Publishers Center) office for $15. They are also on Booktopia, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble etc.

I am going Kindle Unlimited for 3 months with the ebook, which means if you want the ebook you have to order it through Amazon, or wait until mid august! This is a marketing strategy.

If you could ask your favorite author one question, what would it be?

Hmm. Barbara Hannay is always a good read. I was lucky enough to be able to interview her last year with Jennifer from TWPC. It’s on the TWPC youtube channel. I just take her advice – Keep on writing.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

As well as writing and running the Townsville Writers and Publishers Center, I also own a business with my husband and have four young children. I’m very busy but manage to organise my time. If I can do it, so can you!

Thank you for your time.