Friday, September 04, 2015

Interview with Miles Wright

Geoff Wright, writing as Miles Wright,
lives in a small seaside village on the beautiful far south coast of Australia, with his wife and children (and his fish.) Right from an early age he fell in love with the outdoors; especially the sea. When he was very young he lived on a small farm, and spent many happy hours searching the creek for small fishes, tortoises and other make-believe creatures. He learned to ride a horse at the age of four, and sometimes rode his horse to school. When he was eight years old his family went to live on a river. There were no roads or cars down by the river, making it a very secluded and idyllic place to live. After school he spent many happy hours fishing, and sometimes hiked with friends up the river to exciting and unexplored places. These magical experiences and places have helped form the backdrop for some of the settings in his books.
He began reading books at an early age, and started writing short fantasy and science fiction stories, which his teacher would read to the class. His favourite subject all through school was English, and he won a Commonwealth Scholarship before going on to university to study English Literature and Marine Biology. He also has spent time studying at Moore Theological College. He is also a member of YALITCHAT, an organization for those who write Young Adult books. He is a keen environmentalist, and supports the local zoo for endangered species. He owned a Christian bookstore for several years, and would like to use the sales from his own books to support the Salvation Army, and help those less fortunate in society.
Wright's current books are The Angel Tree and Dragon Fly, and both address the issues of youths with mental illnesses. In this interview, Miles tells us a little more about where he got the inspiration for his novels.
1. Your first book The Angel Tree and your second book Dragon Fly both address youths with mental disorders. Where did you get the inspiration to write about the feelings and lives of people dealing with mental illness?

Wright: Way back in the 80's I had a friend with schizophrenia. It was a rollercoaster ride to say the least. Unfortunately she had tried smoking marijuana in her teens, and it had brought out in her a terrible psychosis. There were days when she knew who I was, and other days when she thought I was someone else. She could not hold down a job, and frequently went missing. Just like Joshua and Michael in my books, she constantly had voices in her head telling her to do bad things to herself and running her down. She, like Joshua, had an unhealthy dose of paranoia, to the point where she refused to take her medication, and often spat it out or hid it. On the positive side of things, she was a very creative person, and often spent hours composing beautiful music and drawings. Some of her drawings were displayed in exhibitions. Unfortunately her voices in her head had a say in what she drew, and a lot of it was sinister and demonic. She made me laugh one time when a group of us went out to dinner. She arrived at the restaurant with her entire face painted in intricate drawings, which amused the other restaurant patrons.

The reason I included mentally ill teenagers in my two books was to show the reader that these people are valuable and important, even in their broken state. There is a high teenage suicide rate in Australia due to teenage mental illness, so I believe the more we can get this topic out in the open, the more people who are suffering can reach out for help without feeling bad about it.
The other reason is that although schizophrenia is a terrible illness, it takes the friends of the patients into another world, and gives them a unique vision of a completely different world, and can be at times fascinating and inspiring. We should never look down on these people or feel superior to them.

2. Both of your books also mention this Angel Tree. Can you tell readers a little bit more about the concept behind this tree, and how it came to be?

Wright: The Angel Tree came into being when my friend with schizophrenia started drawing pictures of trees with demonic faces in them. It was her way of expressing the trauma she was going through. I'm sure we have all seen a twisted old gnarled tree with knots in it that looked like a face.

The Angel Tree also represents the fears which we all harbour in our lives. It is a great paradox in life that the only way for us to grow is to face our fears and challenges and conquer them. Imagine then you are Joshua, bedridden and staring at the thing that scared him the most all day. Thus the opening to my first book. His older sister sees the problem and changes his focus on the tree. Now another one of life's paradoxes comes into play; the things that scare us the most can sometimes be the way for us to go ahead in life. Just think of the first time you had to do an exam or go for your driver's license.
The third paradox in the Angel Tree is that it is Joshua's desire to go to the tree which leads him to freedom from the hard times he faces at home. Not only that, but because he faces his fear of the tree it leads him on an adventure, and finds him the best friend he has ever had.

3. Anything else you would like readers to know about your books?

Wright: My books are a great adventure from start to finish, but are not suitable for teens under about 13 years, as they deal with themes such as teen suicide and mental illness. The proceeds from my books are being donated to charity.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How to Navigate a Publishers Website

Last week we gave you a quick guide on how to navigate an unfamiliar bookstore, so this week we will go into how to find your way in an online publisher's website. We all love ebooks right? So at some point or another you have probably wandered onto a publisher's e-store and wondered how in the world you were going to find the book you wanted. The good news: you have already completed the easiest step by making it to the publisher's home page. The bad news: the next few steps can be a little tricky. Looking at three different e-stores; eTreasures Publishing, Entangled Publishing, and Black Lyon Publishing; we will go through how to find your way through the store and to the checkout, and hopefully provide some insight into the ever-changing world of e-publishing. 

1. Take a look around.
This seems similar to last week! It should because looking around is always important folks. How on earth are you going to know what to do if you haven't even had a proper look at anything? 

On this publisher's webpage you will probably see some sort of menu either at the top or down the left side. This will be your most important tool later. On the eTreasures website you can see the menu on the left. Entangled's menu is at the top, and Black Lyon's is on both the top and the left. 

2. Locate the search box.
If you have a book in mind that you are really wanting, you might not want to search through the website to find it. Luckily, most publishers know this and have included a search box somewhere on their website. eTreasures has theirs at the top left of the page, and Entangled's is on the top right. Black Lyon's is a little difficult to find on the far right, and halfway down the page. 

Type the title of the book you want to find in the search box and click search/press enter. Your book will appear on the next page, and all you have to do is select "Add to Cart". If this is all you want, skip the next few steps and go to the section on checking out.

3. Keep looking.
If you like one book from this publisher, chances are that you will like more. Why not stick around a little longer and see what else you can add to your reading device or bookshelf. Keep in mind, for some reason some publishers have decided to sell mainly through other vendors versus their own store. You may have to go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or another website to buy the book, but you can still get ideas for your booklist from the publisher's website. 

This is where that menu comes in handy. Often, a publisher will sort their book by genre. This is usually the easiest way to search because you only need to select your favorite. A list of books will pop up and you can scroll through to find something interesting. For now, if you like a book, add it to your cart. Worry about if you will buy it or not later. This will help you avoid that horrible moment where you knew you wanted to read a book but you can't remember what it was or where you saw it. Click on all of your favorite genres, or if you have a favorite author, you can find them as well.

Publishers will list their authors and the books they currently have with them. You can usually find this list somewhere in the menu or nearby. Just click on the name of your favorite author, and all of their books will be right in front of your eyes. 

4. Time for checkout!
You have your books, you've found more than you thought, and now you want to buy just a few. Good news is that you won't forget the books you want to buy later. Now you have them right there to write on your to-be-read list. Once you have written them down, you can delete them from your cart. For a publisher who has chosen to only sell through other vendors this maybe be easy, all you have to do is go to that vendor's website, which will more than likely be one of the big names that you have bought a few (*cough* hundred *cough*) from before. Others, like eTreasures, will have you check out through them. 

Find the link in their menu that says something about a cart, or whatever the website you are on calls it, and click it. This is your cart. From here you can checkout and receive your brand new book. 

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