Hi guys, today on the blog we have the wonderful Aussie author – drum roll please! – Tara Eglington. If you’ve read my reviews for How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You and How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You, then you would know that I really liked the Aurora Skye series. The series is not just humourous, but has many relevant messages for its readers. I wish I had a copy of these books back in high school. Reading about drama is always better than living it!
Tara has kindly taken the time out to answer a few questions and is offering up a copy of both her Aurora Skye books to three lucky winners! If you’re looking for a cute summer read at the beach, definitely enter this giveaway.
Interview with Tara Eglington
1. Where did you get the inspiration for the Aurora Skye series? Are the books based on real life events?
Looking back, the inspiration for the series came from many different things – however when I read through my teenage diaries the genesis of the first book is DEFINITELY there – quite a few of Auroras Rules of Attraction were my own scribbled down findings aged 16 or 17! Like Aurora, I thought I knew everything about love and dating and was always giving out advice to my besties – despite never having had a boyfriend myself. I had hugely high standards about waiting for my ‘prince’ and strict criteria that he was supposed to meet. I recently found the list of ideal qualities and its eight pages front and back, which gave me a good giggle!!! The series really sums up the gorgeous faith and idealism that you have about love during your early teen years – and which I still try to hold onto now that I’m older and a little more practical.
In terms of being based on real life events, there is admittedly quite a few crossovers – I DID fall out of a car and into a puddle, just like Aurora. However my incident didn’t come about via a Stop Kiss manoeuvre, it was due to my pulling down the passenger side flip-down mirror and finding a saucer sized spider on it. Being severely spider-phobic, I literally threw open my door whilst the car was pulling into our driveway and launched myself out the door and into the puddle just below, cutting my palm open on the driveway rocks. The whole situation was so embarrassing and ridiculous that I just had to adapt it into an Aurora sequence. Other based-on-real-life moments from the series include Aurora’s general clumsiness (I seem plagued by spills and falls in my day to day life), the interpretive dance teacher (yes, teachers that crazy really do exist!), Operation Stop Kiss, and a boy as gorgeous, talented, smart and cheeky as Hayden Paris (I’ll never reveal who)!
Basically, I was a teenager obsessed with love and romance (to the point where I once used a statistics class to sneakily conduct surveys of what my classmates found attractive in the opposite sex) and its not highly surprising that I wound up creating a character who wanted to be a matchmaker!
Thoughts: Gaaah, who’s this boy as “gorgeous, talented, smart and cheeky as Hayden Paris”?! I hope Tara’s snatched him up! 😉
2. Do you remember where you were exactly when the idea for the series popped into your head?
I do actually! The series began simply as an image in my head as I was daydreaming one afternoon – I saw a girl with this golden blonde hair sitting on her front steps waiting and waiting for someone, looking more and more disappointed. I remember thinking ‘Who is she waiting for?’ and my next thought was ‘her mother.’ This story started forming as I asked ‘Why is she waiting for her mother? Why hasn’t her mum shown up?’ and alongside this, I saw a neighbour – a boy her age – wandering out and teasing her from the property fence. She thinks he’s just giving her a hard time as per usual, but really, he’s trying to make her laugh and to distract her from the fact that her mum is not showing up. Interestingly enough, this particular scene never became part of the novel (there is a version of something similar in How to Keep, when Aurora’s waiting for her mother post-performance of Much Ado About Nothing) but the image of Aurora, and what she looked like, along with Hayden’s particular personality that popped into my mind at that time, was strong enough to generate an entire novel (and a sequel!). Once I began writing the story, Aurora’s voice simply leapt off the page, and she created all sorts of crazy, funny, dramatic scenes for herself.
3. Who are your writing muses?
In terms of muses, it’s pretty wide. I find so many things inspiring –music, art, poetry, conversations – it might not necessarily be certain authors or creators – sometimes it’s simply the mood of a song or a look of a painting will set my brain spinning with ideas that I just have to express. Sometimes a line of poetry will seem to shout out a title or a concept for a whole new story that might explore a different facet of the concept expressed in the poem itself. I find film hugely influential – being predominantly visual, the mode of storytelling is quite different to that of a novel. I find that really great writers have the ability to create scenes like a screenwriter does – so vivid and visual in its storytelling, it’s as if you can see everything happening in right front of you. I’ve had certain completely visual scenes from films trigger whole new ideas for novels.
4. Can you explain the premise of the series in one sentence?
One girl on a mission to save her first kiss for the boy who’s truly worthy of it – and that means a prince, not a toad!
5. What are your favourite books? What authors did you grow up reading?
My favourite books when I was growing up were those by L.M Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables books, her stories are just so beautiful, funny, romantic and full of heart. I adore humorous YA – so the novels of Susan Juby (The Alice I Think series), Jaclyn Moriarty (Feeling Sorry for Celia is one of my top teen novels and recommendations) and Catherine Jinks (the Pagan series) were all huge influences. I also grew up reading a lot of books on the science of attraction and compatibility, as well as psychology and sociology, all of which contributed to Aurora’s Theories of Attraction (such as the Red Lipstick theory). Shakespeare is another obsession, which is why Much Ado About Nothing became the school production in How to Keep – I love showing people just how engaging, funny and relevant the Bard’s work still is.
In terms of recent reading, I so enjoyed ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – it’s a romance/adventure/mystery set in space and its absolutely fantastic fun!
6. How do you prepare yourself for an average writing day?
To be honest, it often starts with a great deal of procrastination – putting washing out, making coffee, doing ‘research’ (surfing the net!) – however I tend to see this as a positive thing, as more of a ‘preparation for writing’ – as its often while I am doing really boring tasks like vacuuming, that I brainstorm scenes – I’ll hear characters talking, or I’ll be wrestling with character motivation and how the action of the sequence I’m working on will lead on to the next chapter. Going for a walk or a run is another way that I get myself into ‘writer mode.’ So by the time I’ve gone through my routine and sat down at my computer, I’m much more comfortable and feeling motivated to write. That’s not to say that the terror of the blank page doesn’t hold me hostage – I think most writers, much as they love what they do, are secretly terrified most of the time that they sit down to work. I try to keep the fear at bay by reading over the previous day’s writing, and then forcing myself to put down sentences, no matter how awful they seem. It usually takes me about an hour to stop writing ‘crap’ before I feel like I’m in the mode and writing smoothly. By the time I’m three hours in, the words are flying onto the page and I’m desperately trying to type as fast as the thoughts appear in my mind. My favourite scenes to write are those featuring Aurora and her friends, as its basically like I’m hanging out with a bunch of my girlfriends – I can literally hear the girls talking and laughing in my head. I seem to know instinctively just what Cass or Jelena or Aurora will say in any given moment – their highly individual reactions have become automatic because I know their personalities inside out now!
7. What other books can your fans expect from you in the future? More Aurora Skye?
At this stage, I would say that you could expect a few stand alone books, in the same funny, romantic genre as the Aurora Skye series. It’s likely the new stories will be set at Aurora’s school, but feature new characters that I hope my readers will love as much as Aurora and co. I’m hoping to announce a new project very soon, the details of which will be announced on https://www.facebook.com/#!/findaprince
That said, I would never outrule a return to Aurora’s world – I would love to do a spin off or a book from the point of view of a few of the characters – my readers have loved any ‘through Hayden’s eyes’ sequences that I have written for the Aurora Skye Facebook page.
8. Would you delve into a different genre? Is there a genre you really want to try writing in?
I would actually love to write something within the action-adventure genre – not losing the romance or humour that my readers expect from my books. Some of my favourite films are the Indiana Jones series and I think it would be great fun to feature some exotic locales, historical elements and heart-pumping scary scenes in my future work, matched with an awesome teen narrator. I love writing for Young Adults, so I can’t see myself moving to Adult Fiction for a while yet.
Thoughts: Let me be the first to say, man I cannot WAIT, to read it!
9. Who are your top 5 most kick-ass heroines?
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables – if you thought Aurora Skye was feisty when it came to Hayden Paris – wait till you see Anne break a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head after he calls her ‘carrots’ (because of her red hair). She’s over the top idealistic and bursting with imagination – which leads to the most ridiculous situations such as her re-enactment of the Tennyson poem ‘Lady of Shallot’ – which results in her nearly drowning and clinging desperately to a barge pole, just in time for Gilbert Blythe to come rowing down the river to witness it. Anne and Gilbert were definite influences upon Aurora and Hayden, so please give Anne of Green Gables a read if it’s not already a favourite.
Cher from Clueless (not technically a heroine from a book, but she has to make this list as Clueless was one of my most fave films ever as a teenager and her character IS based upon Jane Austen’s Emma) – she’s just as dedicated to her match-making as Aurora, loves to make the world a more beautiful place (not just via conducting makeovers!) and is just all round awesome! She’s not afraid to be true to herself and wait for the right guy, which I think is a big challenge for any teen girl navigating popularity and high school politics.
Alice MacLeod from the Alice I Think series – Alice is the completely brilliant creation of author Susan Juby, and her takes on small town Smithers, (a town in British Columbia) her insane family and her councillor Death Lord Bob (her first councillor had a breakdown!) are priceless. I read this as a teen and it remains one of my most re-read books of this genre. Alice’s attempts at being a ‘normal teen’ are anything but normal – but she’s totally adorable with all of her precociousness, cynicism and insecurity. The series is a must read.
Kira Beaumont from Thunderfish
I grew up reading author Simon Higgins (he actually lives in the same region that I hail from) and saw him speak at the Byron Bay writers festival a few times. He creates really intelligent, brave, and resourceful YA heroines. Kira Beaumont in Thunderfish is heir to a shipping fortune, and a female vigilante – manning an ex-combat submarine. Talk about tough! Very exciting story and there’s also a romance that plays out in this book and its sequel Under No Flag. I can also recommend the Jane Draper series by the same author (Doctor Id, Cybercage and the Stalking Zone) which features another formidable heroine.
Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
I don’t think there’s anything to explain about this one – I think if I was forcibly thrown into an arena to kill other people I’d just crumple into a ball and cry – whereas Katniss simply takes it all in her stride.
10. Your favourite quote?
‘Love is my religion’ from John Keats – like Aurora, I was once tempted to get this tattoed on my wrist – but I think I’ll settle for an engraved bangle!
About the Author
Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, NSW. Like Aurora, she was brought up by a real-life NAD, though thankfully, he never dated her interpretive dance teacher.
Tara was inspired to write ‘How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You’ after she stumbled upon an old teenage diary and realised just how many ‘rules’ of attraction she had noted down at age 17. Like Aurora, she had gone the distance with her field research, once using her Year 11 Statistics Class to conduct a sneaky survey of what her 40 classmates found attractive in the opposite sex, before creating colour coded graphs of their preferences.
She spent many years ducking her own way out of unwanted kisses and now has her ‘evasive manoeuvre’ down pat. ‘How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You’ is her second novel.
Giveaway! (AU & NZ only)
– Entrants must be 13 years or older
– Winner(s) will be contacted by email 48 hours after the giveaway ends. If you do not reply within 48 hours of receiving the email, a new winner will be picked
– Abide by the rules, winner(s) found cheating will be disqualified and a new winner(s) will be chosen
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