Saturday 30 December 2017

The Invisible Made Visible

I've been thinking about this year and what a strange experience it has been. And one of the things that strikes me is how immensely grateful I am for the internet. Specifically, to every blogger who, whether they liked my book or not, took the time to read it and write a review. To the bloggers who hosted me for interviews, Q&As, guest posts and excerpts. To every Goodreads user who read and reviewed or rated it.

Before This Is Over was published internationally this year. I didn't expect it to be published at all - writing it was a bit of a perverse obsession, like working really, really hard at hand crafting a lottery ticket - let alone in the US and the UK as well. I keep having to stop and remind myself that wasn't an elaborate hoax, it happened. Along the way I've discovered something that I'd read about but didn't grasp until I'd lived it. A writer works on writing a book for (in my case) years and the publication process takes another few years, and finally it's out. And then it's like the book takes off on a voyage of its own and only occasionally thinks to send a postcard.

When it was published in Oz back in 2015, I got to go around to bookshops, talk to the bookshop staff, see copies on shelves, and it felt real. Twice this year my book has landed on foreign shelves and half way around the world, while I've slept, people have bought it and read it. So now I realise that unlike, say, the theatre where an audience is right there expressing a reaction, for a writer most of their audience is forever invisible to them. The book comes out and we just have to trust that someone, somewhere is silently reading it.

I'm battling with a story that I think will be good if I can ever work out how to tell it, and when it's getting the better of me and I wonder why I thought I could do this, I can tell myself that I wrote a story once before and there were people who I've never met who enjoyed it and engaged with the ideas. And I know that because they wrote about it on their blog. Nothing prepared me for how it felt to read a review and know that someone really got something I put in there even though I thought no one else would pick it up.

I've said it before but it bears saying again. I'm also grateful to MidnightSun and Anna Solding for picking it off the slush pile. To Dan Lazar and Writers House for believing it could go further. To Asya Muchnick and Little, Brown and to Marion Donaldson and Headline for bringing it to a wider world. And to them all for taking me on a wild and unexpected ride.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Writing Is Not A Spectator Sport

I have a piece up today on WeHeartWriting - 'Writing is Not a Spectator Sport'. It's something I feel strongly about. We seem to have lost the assumption that we are creators and have settled for being consumers.

"The arts have become spectator sports. We read, we watch, we peruse, we listen. And if we ‘do’, its value is measured in money or clicks or fame. And I think that’s wrong. [...] The act of creating is an end in itself, whether you are ‘good’ at it or not. It should be done for its own sake."

Friday 3 November 2017

UK Blog Tour Wrap

To wrap up the UK Blog Tour, I'm over at The Book Inspector discussing how living in Canada during SARS gave me both a novel and a love of pantries.

Thursday 2 November 2017

UK Blog Tour - Excerpt

UK Blog Tour and it's Launch Day! Today's stop is Keeper of Pages where you'll find the whole first chapter of Before This Is Over.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

UK Blog Tour Wednesday.

I'm over at The Quiet Geordie discussing what inspires me about pandemics and us. Spoiler – it's mostly us. 

Tuesday 31 October 2017

UK Blog Tour Day 2 - Five Apocalypse Novels

Especially for Halloween, an inappropriately zombie free list of my five favourite End Of the World novels at Short Book & Scribes.  

Monday 30 October 2017

Q&A My Reading Corner

UK Blog Tour Day One. In which Karen of My Reading Corner forces me to pick only three books. Such cruelty!

Tuesday 10 October 2017

The ‘Wake in Fright’ weekend

When they were all very young my father's little sister Patricia, who he adored, married his best friend Ken Cook. They were all involved in the Sydney theatre scene and then the early years of television. Ken wrote a book called Wake in Fright, which more than fifty years later has just become a TV miniseries. 

Patricia between pre-beard Dad and Ken
Dad's extended family used to get together at significant dates – Christmas, Easter and fireworks night. I remember being very small, visiting my cousins one Christmas and hiding from uncle Ken behind my mum's legs. He was a terrifying bear, large in stature, personality and voice, but all the while I was desperately hoping he would ruffle my hair and call me 'kiddo'. I idolised Ken and was terrified of him. I wanted to be him, and when I learnt about genetics at school, I was heartbroken to realise I couldn't have inherited his writing ability.
Even before those early Christmases, I suspect, Dad and Ken drifted apart. When I finally realised how close they'd once been, I couldn’t make it make sense - they were polar opposites, if you discounted the beards. Even there, I remember Ken’s as a wild shaggy bush while my dad's was meticulously maintained. 
The stories Dad told about his and Ken's young years were hard to reconcile with my urbane, cautious and reserved father. What could possibly have persuaded my law abiding dad, who wouldn't go within metres of anything that looked like a drop, to walk home late at night across the arch of the Harbour Bridge after visiting girls on the North Shore? Nothing but the influence of Ken's large personality.
Dad also mentioned once that he'd taken blood soaked clothes to a laundry in Kings Cross and the proprietor hadn't batted an eyelid. You could never be sure if Dad was just trying to get a rise. At any rate, I didn't take the bait, so although I had every reason to believe it was true, I didn't know why.
Sometime after Ken died, a print of the film of Wake in Fright was found. All of us - my mum and dad, Ken's kids and my sister and I - turned up to the Chauvel to see it. Maybe it was there that Dad mentioned the weekend or so he spent with Ken in Broken Hill.
Dad abhorred violence, and if he explained why they decided to go roo shooting I don't remember. At any rate, they'd been told there was good shooting on a particular farm, but when they got to the farmhouse, the farmer was at the pub. Not to worry, the pub was on the farm too. Once tracked down, the farmer had just one question for them: 'Do you know what a sheep looks like?' 'Yes,' replied the two city boys. 'Well, don't shoot them.'
After an unsuccessful day, Dad and Ken returned to the pub to look for a lift back to town. A couple of locals would take them, but they still had some shooting to do. The ute only had three seats so Dad had to sit in the tray. The locals bagged animal after animal, cutting off the tails, leaving the rest of the carcass, and tossing the tails on top of those already bouncing around in the back … and Dad.
Finally, the shooters were ready to turn for home, after a drink of course. If you didn't drink with a man, there must be something wrong with you. The four of them stopped at every pub between the farm and Broken Hill, and pubs weren’t in short supply. And of course at every pub, they each shouted a round. In the wee hours of the morning the shooters dropped them on the main street. They were both well and truly worse for wear and Dad was soaked in roo blood. And for being good sports, they were handed a roo tail. Carrying it betweeen them, Dad and Ken weaved their way in the direction of Ken's lodgings.
But the local cop recognised drunk and disorderly when he saw it. For sure, they were spending the rest of the night in the lockup. He looked them up and down. 'That's a very nice roo tail you've got there, boys.' Even in their inebriated state, they knew the right answer. 'Why officer, would you like it?' And they were allowed to stumble home.
Then there was the breakfast barbecue at which all the other guests turned up with a slab of beer or a bottle of whisky and when that was finished, discussed who could get what from home, itemising their stash with ‘that'll have to be drunk, too.' One of the women had come for a couple of weeks' holiday but during the several years that had passed had never been sober enough to get herself on a train – a real life John Grant. And there might have been a story about the local cop offering directions to the two-up school, but I didn't write it down and can no longer be sure if I remember it or read it.
By the time I got around to asking for more, the fragments were mixed up and unreliable. Disease white-anted Dad's studied civilisation and grasp on the past and present. On his lucid days, he often thought we were in his childhood home, and while he seemed to recognise me, I suspect I was his sister. And that was okay. I know how much he loved her. 

More about my dad - Diversity at heart of design success

Friday 29 September 2017

Review - Keeper of Pages

Always nice to find a new review: "The events portrayed in this novel are so realistic, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was based on true events." Needless to say, I haven't lived through a devastating pandemic.

Sunday 20 August 2017

Interview - Carolineleavittville

In which I talk to the wonderful Caroline Leavitt about teenagers, lyrical earworms and being mean to your characters.

Read full interview here.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Review - I Read, Therefore I Blog

"Amanda Hickie’s debut literary novels mixes pandemic apocalypse with domestic drama to solid effect, creating a suffocating sense of claustrophobia and fear as Hannah is forced into impossible decisions, creating emotional conflict with the people she’s trying to protect at the same time as she searches desperately for information and hope from the outside world."

Read more here.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Review - Got books, babe?

"Before This Is Over ... is a novel full of heart, warmth and soul, despite the dangerous and unpredictable circumstances in which it is set. Hard-hitting and incredibly thought-provoking..."

Read full review here.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Bite Sized Reviews

I came across this the other day and feel very conflicted! While I'm chuffed to have created a world that felt real to someone, I hate to think that it could have caused them harm. Please, reader, if you see this, remember it's fiction.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Review - If In Doubt Read
"What it isn’t is action packed, what it isn’t is pacey- what it is, is a very interesting , thought provoking fly on the wall look at the experience of an everyday surburban family of four, as they struggle to ‘wait out’ the pandemic of ‘ Manba’ that is sweeping the globe.
I would encourage fellow readers to pick up ‘ Before this is over’, for a gentle, intriguing and thought provoking read."

Read review here.

Monday 31 July 2017

Sitting down with Clues and Reviews

In which we discuss being in Canada during SARS, stocking an apocalypse pantry and one star reviews.

Monday 24 July 2017

Review -

"Hannah’s point of view is so encompassing, I found myself worrying that I hadn’t sanitized the hand rail of the treadmill I was reading on, and I didn’t have enough food at home if we got trapped there.

We also don’t have a generator."

Neither do I.

Read review here.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Essay -

"For the purposes of telling a story in a reasonable time frame, I cheated on the odd detail. To take a vaccine from identification of microbe to ready for mass usage requires years, not weeks or months. SARS was contained not by a medical miracle pulled out of the hat but by eliminating animal hosts, isolating infected patients and waiting."

Read more here.

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Review -

"What is scary to think, and I think many readers will consider this, is whether something similar to this scenario could possibly one day become a reality. This isn’t your zombie apocalypse kind of stuff, this is actually a more terrifying prospect!"
Read review here.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Newsweek, March 28

"There are many books about what happens once the world falls apart - but there are far fewer that focus on the questions of morality and ethics that are raised when it all goes down. "

Sunday 2 July 2017

Review - bookbarblog

Nice way to end a weekend -

"Like many, Hannah’s motivation is in protecting those closest to her and Hickie does an amazing job of bringing that need through in her writing. Hannah’s love and fear are so palpable that it pulls the reader through the story, making it a truly intense reading experience."

Read full review here.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Review - Clues and Reviews

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 9.08.01 PM
A Canadian perspective!

Review on Clues and Reviews -

"This is not a zombie book or a sci-fi novel; in fact, the entire time I was reading, I was filled with anxiety as my mind raced with the probability of this scenario. This book was so much than a novel of realistic horror; this novel is a character study in human survival, the nature of people in crisis and the lengths people go to in order to protect their own. If nothing else, this novel will leave you thinking."

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Two Giveaways

For those in the US, Little, Brown is giving away copies of BEFORE THIS IS OVER on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday 6 March 2017

A big box of books in the mail! These should be in stores in the US/Canada by the end of the month.

Friday 27 January 2017

New Clothes for Zoe

A gorgeous new cover for AfterZoe from my friend, the very talented Tanis Dennis! Rolling out into online stores over the next few days. Evocative and beautiful. I'm looking forward to holding a paper copy in my hands. Thanks Tanis.
(Also in the next few days on Amazon as a paperback and orderable in bookstores.)