Posted in Book WInd, drugs, friendship, In Ecstasy, international rights, reviews

North American Review of In Ecstasy

Drugs: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 People hear about hard-core drug addicts, maybe see them in movies or even know a few in or from their school. But what if that junkie was your best friend of fifteen years, and suddenly you didn’t know that person anymore?

In the book In Ecstasy by Kate McCaffrey, this is what happens between best friends, Sophie and Mia. Sophie is the popular one, while Mia is more reserved and shy. So one night at a party when Sophie decides to try ecstasy, Mia follows her lead. Sophie enjoys the high and has fun, but for Mia it’s a completely different world. Ecstasy gives her the courage and self-esteem she lacks on her own. She is able to socialize with the crowd and even finds herself talking to one of the most popular boys in school. Mia has the time of her life. The girls attend a few more parties together, and each time Mia is determined to take ecstasy as a way to become this new, improved person. Yet as the time goes on, Mia doesn’t need Sophie anymore. She becomes attached to her new boyfriend, Lewis, and even more attached to this other person she has started to become. Sophie tries rekindling their friendship but discovers the duo no longer has anything in common.

Mia begins taking more and more drugs in order to successfully be this happy, popular, carefree girl. Her grades slip, she continually loses weight, fights with her parents and convinces herself Sophie is simply jealous of her new life. One night at a party at her boyfriend’s house, Mia is brutally awakened to not only the dangers of drugs but to the type of person her boyfriend truly is. Yet at this point Mia is so addicted that she will stop at nothing to get her fix. Meanwhile Sophie and Mia’s family are forced to watch Mia destroy her life.

To listen to various real-life drug addicts who discuss similar situations and emotions seen in In Ecstasy, check out this video. I really enjoyed this book a lot. One aspect that really stuck out for me was simply that McCaffrey does not lie about drugs. Through Mia, the reader sees that yes, drugs can make a person feel incredible. They can give them that extra courage or help they think they need to become popular and even make people believe their lives are better. Yet at the same time McCaffrey shows the true effects of drugs.

 Mia doesn’t become a cool, popular kid; she becomes an addict who potentially loses everything important in her life. I also enjoyed this book because it is told from both Sophie’s and Mia’s point of view. It is interesting to see both characters and their personal situations through each others’ eyes. It gives the reader a deeper perspective into the characters. I think this is an excellent learning book for students but I do not know if there is any way that parents and/or administrators would allow this to be taught.

 Obviously this book is primarily about drug abuse, but along with that there are issues of sexual assault, teenage sex, peer pressure, and theft. Because of these serious issues and fairly graphic details, I would recommend this book for older students who are mature enough to handle them. Additionally I might recommend this book to parents. Not everyone knows the signs to look for if their child is doing drugs, and I think this book is especially informative and honest about drug abuse.

Since this is told from two female’s perspectives, I also think girls might get more enjoyment out of this book than boys, although regardless of the gender, this is still a very informative book on drug addiction. As a whole, this book is entertaining, interesting, sad and extremely realistic. Mia and Sophie really come alive for readers, and I empathized with them throughout the book. These characters remind me that being an impressionable teenager is not easy, something that as an adult, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Posted by Amy

Book Wind

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Posted in Angelina Jolie, Animus Publisher, Annick Press, Australian fiction, Books, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, Duan Publisher, In Ecstasy, international rights

International Rights

Destroying Avalon

SO here they are, my little international babies- a Hungarian, a Korean and a North American- watch out Angelina Jolie I can have a rainbow family too!

Posted in ASLA Conference, Books, Booktalkers, CBC, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, ETA, In Ecstasy, international rights, Kununurra's Wrtiter's Festival, literary appearances, Literary Awards, Matt Ottley, Media Appearances, Somerset Writer's Festival

Why I Can’t Say Sorry

I know I should– but it’s shallow and empty now, isn’t it? I leave this blog for lengths of time and then breeze in when I seem to have nothing better to do. So I will not insult you with another apology. Instead I’ll try and justify my absence by bringing you all up to date with the latest happenings.

I handed over the manuscript ‘Murder Within’ in January- just before school started– then was inundated with the trials and tribulations of teaching! I flew off quickly to Melbourne- for Booktalkers at the State Library of Vic, with none other than the legendery John Marsden– I pulled my 12 year old daughter out of school to attend with me. Unfortunately John’s farm fell within the bush fire zone and he was unable to get a car out to attend the night. Twas still great– with Kirsty Murray, Sue Saliba, Tim Pelger and Don Henderson in fine form commenting on what influences our writing.

A week later I was off to Somerset Writer’s Festival in Queensland. What a fantastic week that was. Andrew Stark– organiser of the library conference performed magical acts to pull the event together and then the Writer’s Festival itself followed. I was in the company of some brilliant people, terrific authors and illustrators– Lee Fox, Tobhy Riddle, Suzanne Gervay, Kate Forsyth, Garth Nix,Debora Abela, Tristan Bancks, Shamini Flint, Rob Newton, and Matt Ottley. Just on Matt, for a second, not only was I impressed with his sandgroper status– yes he also crossed the spinifex curtain to attend Somerset– but the man is an all out genuis. I tell you- how can anyone not read Requium for a Beast and not see genuis at work?? Not only are his illustrations brilliant– but Matt composes his own music! I’m not being parochial when I say that Matt deserves all the credit and kudos he is receiveing (especially with his latest nod from the CBC!!)

Following that– teaching, marking, reporting and a few visits to schools. School holidays- which is a laugh, isn’t it– whose holiday is this??? Not mine!! I’d received word from the publisher that I needed to re-write a part of the latest book– oh, only about 20, 000 words!!! Hello! So first week of my delightful holiday was spent doing such. Second week– marking 4 classes of work– delightful!! And now I’ve just teed up the latest gig guide with my publicist– so I’ll let you have it:

16 May- ETA panel-  at Perth College- discussing female vs male protagonists (I think!!)

23-27 July Kununurra Writer’s Festival (I’ve never been to the Kimberley– I’m really looking forward to it)

25 & 27 August- Morley library– for CBC Book Week (PS Aug 25 is my birthday!!!)

2 October– breakfast at Frasers for ASLA Conference. Later that day I’m sure I’m on a panel!!

That’s it so far. Will keep you posted on other happenings.

 

Oh, by the way– Hungary has bought rights to Destroying Avalon– now I can boast I share JK Rowlings publisher!! (if only it was her bank balance!!!) That’s me– up to date i think. Will try and be a better blogger!!!

Posted in Australian fiction, Books, CBC, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, In Ecstasy, international rights, literary appearances, Media Appearances, teacher librarians, teachers, writing

What’s Up?

It’s time for me to tend to this rather neglected blogsite and dust away the cobwebs and up date the latest happenings. Where to begin?

Saw out the end of ’08 down south in the most magnificient part of WA the Margaret River Region. It is a debauched writer’s heaven what with winery after winery! And also one of the longest water ski areas in the West too. I did plenty of skiing and also tried to master the wakeboard too! But though the holiday home I have presents as a writer’s haven up until the 11th of January no writing was done!

Panicking– I promised my publisher the latest book in January, I had no choice but to push through the writer’s block and turn those 28 000 words into a 56 000 word manuscript! Is it good? Time will tell- but for now it’s a draft- albeit a rather rough one. Which is good because on the 27th I returned to teaching– taking on a much bigger load than ever before!

So– I’m hoping that ’09 will see me juggling all those balls very nicely! Teaching, writing/editing and being a contributing member of society– did I forget family? My eldest daughter has sailed into Year 8 and my youngest into Year 3– so there’s another ball to throw up into the mix!

This week has been inundated with radio interviews on ‘sexting’– most ABC stations have asked me to talk about this phenomenon as well as the cyber bullying one too!

Upcoming Appearances

On March 3rd I appear at the Centre for Youth Literature in Melbourne with the likes of John Marsden– my 12 year old daughter is coming to, excited to meet a ‘real’ Australian writer!

On March 5th I’ll be at WA’s Night of Stars– with my great friends at Westbooks!

From March14th – 21st I will be soaking up the sunny rays of Queensland at the Somerset Festival for Literature– attending both the Librarian and Writer’s components of their festival. And then after that there are more appearances on the cards.

Oh– and here is the ‘book trailer’ for the American release of in ecstasy— I thought it was pretty cool. Tell me what you think. Now if only the North Americans like it– there could be an overseas tour in the pipeline!

<embed src=”http://blip.tv/play/AemIBZD+ZQ” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”320″ height=”270″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed>

Posted in Australian fiction, Books, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, In Ecstasy, international rights, peer pressure, writing

It’s Time!

It’s that time of year when I feel I must attend to this poor neglected blog. I’m terrible at updating- I know that, but at the risk of whingeing (though this is my blog and I do believe the perfect forum for it) I have been so damn busy! I’m not only a writer, but also a teacher and a mother- so when that time is divided up there leaves very little for self promotion. I know- I really should sit down and get my priorities in order!

Anyway, where to begin? in ecstasy has been doing the rounds and so far has been met with mostly favourable reviews. Phew! The anxiety associated with having a new book out there is almost indescrible- you await the reaction (and having had previous experience you know ‘you can’t please all the people all the time’!!) But here is the most exciting news of all. in ecstasy was bought by a Canadian publisher (yep- that means North American rights!!) and is now in the process of being edited for the North American market. What does that mean? Don’t they speak English too? Of course they do, but the publisher wants to make changes to suit the target audience over there.

What that means is this… when I write my books they are distinctly Australian- nay, West Australian. Why? Because I love WA. I think it is a great place to live. I love writing about its beaches and lifestyle. I remember as a teenager reading Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and revelling in the recognition of places like Subiaco- landscapes I knew and could readily identify. Given that so much of the work I read as a kid was American, or British it was liberating to see home in the pages of a beautiful book. (NOTE: to date Cloudstreet still remains in my Top Ten). So I wanted to pay it forward. Give new teenagers a chance to connect with their own environment.  After all Young Adult fiction often serves to provide a mirror for these kids- with regards to issues they face, and choices they make and an identifiable environment often makes that even more accessible.

So, both Destroying Avalon and in ecstasy are set in Western Australia, but for both of them the environment doesn’t contribute to the challenges these kids face, as much as provide a backdrop against which this plays out. The themes in both books I believe are universal- cyber bullying is a world wide phenomenon- and alarmingly, still on the rise. Experimentation with drugs, peer pressure and social acceptance has been around since, well, since forever, and will continue as young adults seek to find their place in the world.

What’s this got to do with North American publishing rights? Glad you asked. What it means is the Canadian publisher wishes to locate the action somewhere in North America- so their audience will readily identify with it. I guess I was lucky, I didn’t have to even think about it because of my own thoughts on the subject (see paragraph 3). So now I will be working with my Canadian editor to make the changes for this. I don’t know what else will be adapted or changed- we will see as it goes along. But it’s an exciting time for in ecstasy– a reinvention of self, already!

There has been work afoot to take Destroying Avalon into another market- with an offer being made to publish it in another country. But as I don’t have official confirmation (and this one involves a translation!) I’ll update when the contract arrives.

The babies are entering the big wide world. All I can do is kiss them and wish them luck with their new audiences!

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, friendship, In Ecstasy, literary appearances, Media Appearances, Michael Carr-Gregg, MS Readathon, Penguin Books, Radion National- Life Matters, teacher librarians, teachers, The Childrens' Bookshop Sydney, The Rosalie Writer's Festival, writing

No Rest For the Wicked

The Melbourne Sydney jaunt was excellent fun! In particular the Penguin teacher evening- where I got to meet a lot of teachers and librarians who use Destroying Avalon in schools and who were interested in the new book in ecstasy; also the Classnet interview and the segment for Channel 31- where I was interviewed by some great kids; the Radio National interview with Richard Aedy was a lot of laughs and then I flew back to Melbourne to speak to Michael Carr-Gregg’s cyber-psychologists- they were a terrific bunch!

The second week (of the school holidays) was spent down south holidaying with friends (read- drinking, eating, water-skiing and singstar!!) We returned back to Perth only to start the new school term the next day!! I feel like a need a holiday!

So what’s coming up then…. This Thursday I’m participating in the launch of the MS Readathon at St Stephen’s School Carramar. Following that I’m back in Sydney on the 19th and 20th of May for a presentation at the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft and then a few school visits. When I return to Perth on the 21st May, that evening, I have the Rosalie Writer’s Festival where I’m presenting to parents Destroying Avalon.

Did I say I need to get to work on the third book? Oh, that old thing… yeah… right I might be able to write again! Soon- I promise!

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, Cyber Cop, Destroying Avalon, drugs, friendship, In Ecstasy, literary appearances, Media Appearances, Michael Carr-Gregg, Penguin Books, Real Wired Child, teacher librarians, teachers, writing

From the Bad, Bad Blogger

I am so sorry. I am really terrible at this job! Call me commitment-phobic- I knew when I emabarked upon being a blogger I’d never hold a candle to those true devout bloggers- Matilda and Justine Larabalestier come to mind immediately. It’s official! I am crap at this!

So I’ll bring you up to date on the latest in this world- cause if you’re reading this, then you’re prolly interested! Friday night (4th April 2008) saw the launch of my new book ‘in ecstasy’. A grand time was had by all- except me, who basically sat at table and signed over 80 copies of aforementioned book. All my friends had turned up, as well as industry and teaching/librarian type people. But could I enjoy their company? No! I had to sit at the table and relish in my JK Rowlings moment. Ahh- but to have just one in a lifetime is a pleasure indeed!

The launch was a success. With engaging words from Dr Bill Saunders who was a real treat to have on the night! And my deepest gratitude to Joscelyn Leatt-Hyatt and her husband Geoff (or Greg, or Andrew- jokes!!)

Saturday the 12th I fly to Melbourne to promote ‘in ecstasy’ on radio, in print and hopefully on TV, I’m also doing some State library gigs and other PD stuff for teachers. Then I fly to Sydney- for more of the same and back to Melbourne to workshop with the much admired Dr Michael Carr-Gregg- Australia’s Dr Phil!

Then, later in May (19th) I’m back in Sydney workshopping ‘Destroying Avalon’ and ‘in ecstasy’ to a lirariarian workshop!~ It’s mad I tell you!

Someday I’ll get back to writing. Someday- soon- I promise Cate (she’s my publisher!!)

 

Posted in awards, Books, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, drugs, In Ecstasy, literary appearances, Penguin Books, teacher librarians, teachers, Uncategorized, writing

(Sketchy)Upcoming Appearances and in ecstasy news

I have an advance copy of in ecstasy and like all proud parents I think it is the most beautiful book in the world! That’s not to say I love it more than Destroying Avalon– just differently!! It has turned out really well- and the cover (thanks Tracey) is receiving lots of compliments. Like I say ‘I always judge a book by its cover!! It’s reminiscent of The Collector (an old favourite), smacks of Silence of the Lambs and has been compared to A Cage of Butterflies and Papillion– all great comparisons to my mind.

Review copies have been sent out and the feedback has, so far, been encouraging. Which is very reassuring when facing ‘second book syndrome’!!! April is the launch date- and there are plenty of things happening around that time!

I have been invited back to the All Saints’ Literature Festival in Bullcreek WA, where I will discuss Destroying Avalon and in ecstasy, and writing for young adults, yada yada yada…. Those dates are 2nd April- 4th April 2008. I’ve also been invited to be part of a panel on the evening of the 3rd April, organised by the ETA and Kris Williams (co-ordinator of the All Saints Festival) to discuss writing for the classroom and the influences of school etc… its a PD with teachers as the target audience (more on that when details come to hand).

My publisher (with Penguin Books) is hoping to put together an east coast tour, (Melbourne and Sydney) to coincide with the release of in ecstasy– but more about that when details are confirmed!

The MS Readathon is booked in for the 1st May- I’ve agreed to read a passage from my books to a school (not sure which one yet) as part of its launch.

 And later in May there is the Rosalie Writer’s Festival- I’ve agreed to attend a parent workship to discuss both Destroying Avalon and in ecstasty.

This is only the beginning- let’s get the party started!

Posted in Books, drugs, friendship, Getting published, In Ecstasy, Uncategorized, writing

Humble Apologies

xtc-back-cover.jpgxtc-front-cover.jpg

Well here it is! What do you think? If you click on them I think they get bigger!!

And I’m so sorry it’s been two months since my last posting (that reads a lot like a confession doesn’t it?) but in all honesty I’ve been so immersed in writing things I haven’t had a chance to write anything else….

Let me bring you up to date in the World According to Kate….

In Ecstasy is done and dusted. Packaged, sealed and emailed to the printers this week! HOOORRRAAAYYY!!!!!

It’s been quite a long and arduous process and goes to show how different the birthing of each book can be. Of course things were always going to be different- but I guess once you’ve done something once, you have a set of expectations.

With In Ecstasy I had a choice- when it went to first edit- would I allow the editor to edit only the hardcopy or edit directly onto the computer screen? I said it was fine to change the digital copy… that was my first mistake. I had no idea how disconcerting it would be to read my book already edited- with all the changes hidden. When the editor works directly onto hard copy with both red pen and lead pencil the changes (and therefore the reason for change) is apparent. But this way it was like reading someone else’s book.

This process occured again with the copy editor- who also made invisble changes… I have learnt that I do not like the hidden change. That’s not to say I think I’m above editorial change- I’m not, I welcome it, it’s just I like to see where and why the change is being made. Then I can accept, reject or modify the alteration.

I must say there was a point there where I was totally fed up with the work, tired of reading it, or re-writing it… It had lost its shine. But then, it came back to me for final proof– after hours of sitting shoulder to shoulder with the publisher working through the final changes and I liked it! I really did. By the final edit, we’d managed to recapture all the best parts of my work and alter all the worst….

It was a very long process, but it made it there. And another thing I’ve learnt now, is how I like to have my books edited. And thankfully I have a great publisher who is not satisfied unless I’m happy with the words. So the final say always came back to me… which is a huge relief to know. You don’t relinquish control of your book when you sign on the dotted line.

But anyway, what do you think of the new cover and blurb?

Posted in Books, drugs, friendship, In Ecstasy, Uncategorized

In Ecstasy – the second book

It’s getting closer!

In Ecstasy is working it’s way towards the printers! I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s shaped up and I’m looking forward to galley proof stage.

For those of you who don’t know In Ecstasy is about teenage friendship and the destructive power of drug use. The story is told through the voices of Mia and Sophie, two fifteen year olds who, on a whim, take ecstasy at a party. We then follow their separate journeys. It was a tough book to write, for so many different reasons, but I’m feeling pleased with the shape Janet, Cate and I have so far knocked it into!

Watch this space for more updates!