I haven't written here for a while. Life has been super busy.
Recently I made a decision to quit working full time and return to study. The last time I studied was eight years ago, when I studied English and History.
I chose that option because I love writing and I wanted to help focus that.
And then a year ago Prey was published which was one of the greatest achievements of my life.
But as life went by and I didn't become the next J.K Rowling, I realised that I wasn't about to become a millionaire overnight, so after realising that I've been volunteering with animals for four years, I knew then that I needed another change in my life., so I decided to go back to school to become a vet nurse.
And that is what I have been doing since February.
It has been a tough road, with juggling school, assignments, exams, work, volunteering and work placements, there never seems to be any time for writing and I really miss that, but I am enjoying hanging out with all the animals.
And this is my life.
And I don't regret any of it.
I can't tell you how excited I am to share my new novel with you.
It is the first in a planned four series, but knowing me that will probably turn into fifty-three.
I definitely won't go over four and there is a possibility that will reduce to three. It just depends on whether I run out of ideas or not.
You can find a digital copy, a paperback copy and a hardback copy on Amazon. Just click on the picture under the Books tab and it will take you right there. Or you can click the link on the front page!
There's also a small excerpt under the Books tab too, so you can see if you want to read it.
Many moons ago (several months in fact) I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer on Codfish Island (also known as Whenua Hou) a small island off the coast of Stewart Island.
It is where a lot of our native species live, away from predators such as stoats, ferrets, weasels, rats, possums, pigs and mice and of course, humans.
I worked with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to help with the Kakapo Supplementary Feeding, which is designed to assist new mothers in keeping an ideal body weight (i.e get enough food) so they can help their chicks fledge.
It is a beautiful island and every morning (and night) I was blessed with the sounds of wildlife. I saw one kakapo, but as they are nocturnal birds, this was not a surprise.
The island is strictly off limits to visitors. Access is only allowed through DOC and I had to go through a very strict quarantine process to make sure I wasn't bringing any unwanted visitors with me.
I only got lost once. Due to my own stupidity I might add. I read the map around the wrong way, headed downhill and wondered cheerily to myself why I was walking down hill when I needed to go uphill. Instead of stopping and turning around, like any sane person would, I kept walking, even after crossing a river that was clearly not marked on the map. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stupid when I finally reached the bottom (after doing a two hour ‘shortcut’ through thick bush, with no track in sight) and found that yes, I had indeed walked the incorrect way and now I needed to backtrack.
So after walking down a mountain, up a mountain and then down again, I had to turn around, walk up a mountain, down a mountain and then back up again, a little bit like a rollercoaster, just less fun.
But aside from that little sidetrack, which ultimately equated to climbing 104 flights of stairs and walking over 25,000 steps, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I am an author.
I can appreciate how much hard work goes into making a novel but I must say I'm pretty sick of the cliches.
Let's start shall we?
-girl and boy get together. Boy's brother comes along and girl falls in love with second brother (oh and while we're at it, let's make girl pregnant with first brother's baby so the baby can grow up with Uncle-Daddy and Daddy-Uncle.) I'm sorry but really? I for starters would never hook up with someone who had been with my sister and most definitely not if he had got her pregnant!
-love triangles of any sort are just an excuse for more angst in a novel. Does it improve the novel in any way? Let me think. Um, no. (Oh poor me I can't choose which one I want more and it's so exciting that they both want me!) Which brings me back to point one. I really loathe sibling love triangles
-romance with other characters other than the main ones. I get it, no romance is a fairy tale but let's be honest we're not talking about real life here. It's fiction!! And I want the two main characters to be together and that's it. I don't mind there being other obstacles otherwise it would be a pretty boring story, but I really don't care about Bob from the coffee shop or Bob the co-worker. Or the I need to make him/her jealous, let's sleep with the neighbour so he/she realises on what she's/he's missing out on. Okay whatever.
-rape as a plot device. This is one thing I hate the most. Rape is one of the most horrific hate crimes there is and the use of it in books just for shock value seems to me like it's being made to sound insignificant and irrelevant. Someone that has never experienced rape really has no idea of the consequences or what the victim has to live with. And when the ending is wrapped up and tied up with a pretty red bow and the character lives happily ever after, conveniently forgetting the rape actually occurred really grinds my gears. It doesn't take twenty seconds to get over something as horrific as this. So unless you actually know what you're talking about and you can deal with it appropriately, then stay away from this as a plot device!!
-heroes or heroines that knock up or get knocked up two seconds before meeting the main character and then of course they're lucky enough to get their happy ending with the main character and not the father/mother of the child who is ALWAYS a loser (insert rolling eyes here). So original!
-characters who are too stupid to live. Like seriously, why do all the characters have no idea about the world? Why are they so naive, or so gullible. Or why are they a doormat? Someone write a character with an actual backbone that doesn't make stupid decisions that wind up getting other people killed.
So if there is anyone that can recommend me a book without the above cliches let me know!!
On the 1st May, I flew from New Zealand to South America. I landed in Chile after an long 10+ hour flight. After ingesting some really disgusting airplane food, I proceed to lie on my bed in my hotel moaning in agony and wishing I'd brought my own food with me.
The following morning, the 2nd May, I left Santiago, after a run in with an airport employee who asked to take me into town which I promptly refused, after all my mama and papa always taught me to never climb into cars with strangers. He then took me back to the airport, after requesting a decent sized tip. Well that put a nail in my plans. After all, I had only budgeted for my time in Bolivia, not my time in Chile.
With a total of $30 in my bank account, this wasn't enough for him. Um excuse me, this is more than I would get per hour back home and he only assisted me for ten freaking minutes! But then I advised I had forgotten my PIN for my other card. After multiple attempts to connect to the airport wifi, I sadly informed Sebastian that I would be unable to provide him with a tip as I did not have any funds. Sebastian was rather good about it and wished me well on my trip as I vanished into the throngs of gringos and Spaniards. (Chileans?)
After many more hours of flying and one stopover in a tiny town in a desert, called Iquique, I finally arrived in La Paz. After exiting my cramped and fumigated plane, I entered into a world of high altitudes and the ongoing struggle to breathe. Just a few steps through the airport and I was gasping for air like a fish drowning in oxygen.
I was picked up from the airport by a lovely man named Jesús. He had a sign with my name on it, which was quite exciting, I've never been picked up by someone holding a sign before and then we began the four hour journey to La Senda Verde.
La Senda Verde is an animal sanctuary located near a small town called Coroico, near the Death Road, also known as the world's most dangerous road, where on average around two hundred people lose their lives every year.
La Senda Verde is located across a river, on 12-15 hectares of land, owned by Vicki & Marcelo.
After travelling nearly 7,000 miles, I had finally arrived at the sanctuary. I met some great people from all over the world. There were volunteers from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Australia and of course New Zealand (I was the only Kiwi there). I was then shown to my house which was shaped like an umbrella, right in the middle of monkey territory. There were human cages around the sanctuary, as the animals roamed free.
I met some truly amazing animals, some I had no idea even existed.
We worked a three day rotation system, so three days with birds, three days with bears and tortoises and three days with the specials which included monkeys, a capybara, margays, a kinkajou and a paca.
After just a few days of volunteering, I had a bit of a run-in with a rather aggressive spider monkey named Tinto. I don't blame him, after all, most of these animals did have a terrible start to life, most the result of the illegal pet trade, but in some ways, he was a danger not only to people, but to other monkeys.
So I was feeding an owl monkey when Tinto decided to jump on my head, like literally sat on my head and then he wrapped his tail around my neck and hung his entire body weight off me and let me tell you, those things are not light.
Unable to breathe and getting slightly panicky, I ended up having a panic attack, which he made worse by biting me on the top of my head. The bite did not draw blood and he didn't sink his teeth in, I guess it was more of a nibble than anything
To be honest, I got away lightly. It could have been worse, but the experience shook me and I was unable to continue up in the area for quite some time. It was because of this, I decided not to take on the rare opportunity of heading to the capuchin area. After all, capuchins are notorious for not particularly liking females very much, but I don't regret it. After all, my response to Tinto showed that I would have been very uneasy in the capuchin area and they probably would have picked up on that.
But, I got to work with my beautiful Spectacle Bears, Aruma and Tipnis and that was worth it. They were my favourite part of La Senda Verde.
As new people came in and other people went, there was opportunity to make new friends but it also say goodbye to old ones which was sometimes sad.
I can honestly say I had one of the best experiences of my life here at La Senda Verde. The people I worked with were great, who shared a common interest with me and the animals were simply incredible, some with such sad tales that brought me to tears.
If you are like me, a keen volunteer with a love for all animals, then maybe you might like to visit a place like Bolivia.
And if you are unsure if monkeys are the animals you want to work with then there are other volunteering opportunities around the world, thanks to the Great Projects.
The link for the Great Projects can be found here: www.thegreatprojects.com
Anyway - that's it from me.
How hard is it to say goodbye?
A month ago, I didn't know the answer to that, I really didn't. Not having lost any member of my family since I was 8, I didn't really understand grief.
A month ago today I lost my beloved gran Ngaire (my mother's mother). She was one of the most beautiful, selfless, amazing people I have been blessed to have known in my life. She was what every grandmother should be. I remember her making sure my manners were up to scratch (such as washing my hands before dinner, not interrupting people - which admittedly I am rather bad at - not talking while eating etc) and I am so thankful she took that time to correct that. I could imagine what terrible manners I might still have, not that my mum and dad weren't good at parenting, because they were, but she was just that little extra parenting.
She was so kind, so loving and so caring and didn't have a bad word to say about anyone. She lived to the ripe old age of 91 and I am so thankful she was around for my 27 years of life.
Then on Monday morning, the 20th October, exactly four weeks later, at approximately the same time. I lost my beloved granddad George. (On the opposite side of the family - my father's father). To lose another grandparent so soon after losing another was one of the most devastating things I have ever experienced. My granddad was one of the good guys, a lot like my gran, similar in character, just quite simply amazing. He was basically the only grandfather I had known because my poppa died when I was 8. He was always willing to help and still pottering around in his garden at 89 years of age. He and my nana had been married for 65 years when he passed.
So in the space of a month, I went from having three grandparents to having one.
I miss them both so much.
Rest in peace Granddad. Rest in peace Gran.
I love you both always.
So I heard there was this real fun thing to do, such as an interview with a character from a novel. I thought this was a novel idea, pardon the pun and decided to go ahead and do this with my favourite character from the novel, Ares, the king of Sorchkah.
Me: Hi Ares, I can call you that right? Or would you prefer your Majesty?
Ares: Ares is fine thank you.
Me: So thank you for coming along tonight for this interview.
Ares: You are welcome.
Me: So let's get straight to it. Can you give me some information about yourself?
Ares: Of course. My full name is Ares Draco Erestar, King of Sorchkah. I was born to Queen Indiana Erestar. The Draco in my name comes from my ancestor, Draco Erestar the first king of Sorchkah. He was also the first dragon shapeshifter. My father was prince regent, but he died when I was eight, I became the official ruler then.
Me: Draco like Draco Malfoy! This is pretty cool.
Ares: I am sorry, I do not know this person. Is he from Fawna?
Me: No. Never mind. Second question, this one is a bit more personal. Can you tell me one thing about me that you don't think anyone else knows?
Ares: I am a dragon.
Me: Like you turn into a dragon?
Ares: Exactly. I am the first dragon shapeshifter since King Draco himself.
Me: What are your plans for the future? Do they include marriage, kids, the whole package?
Ares: I want to rule my people with prosperity and leave a country in peace. Despite my reputation, I do not eagerly engage in warfare. I do prefer peace. I would one day love to have a queen by my side and a few children as well.
Me: What do you look for in an ideal partner?
Ares: Intelligence and courage. Beauty will only get you so far. I would look for someone with wisdom to lead the country when I am not around.
Me: Do you believe in true love?
Me: May I ask why?
Ares: I've seen enough of this so-called love. It brings down kingdoms. It kills people. It harms. Love is nothing more than poison.
Me: Oookay, anyway, next question, I hear you can perform magic. Is this true?
Ares: Every being in Fawna, apart from humans, carries magic in their veins. I have the Power of Earth and Fire.
Me: To carry two is rare isn't it?
Ares: I'm not sure. I haven't heard of any others recently, but that's not to say there aren't any others like me.
Me: What do you think of the news that the 'Child of the Prophecy' has been found?
Ares: If that is the case, I wish her all the best. Nobody should have to live like that.
Me: What do you mean?
Ares: Living in fear every day that this day is going to be your last. Troubled by a destiny that you cannot escape from.
Me: Do you believe in the prophecy?
Ares: That there is a man who will call himself a Dark Emperor? I believe that if this prophecy is true, he is a very sure of himself individual, especially if he has to term himself a Dark Emperor. If there is a man who thinks he can take over the world and destroy everyone, it will not just be the Child of the Prophecy standing in his way, there will be me as well.
Me: So you believe in justice and freedom?
Ares: Of course. It is all every king wants for his people and I am no different.
Me: Well thank you so much for taking the time out to come by today and give this interview. I would love to do this again some time.
Ares: I look forward to it.
Hello, my name is Imogene. I am a story-teller.
I might like to tell stories, but I am not very good at blogging. I've never really felt comfortable with that whole tell the world everything about you, but it is what it is.
I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and I have lived here my whole life. I come from a reasonably large family. When I was a child, there was no television in my house and as a result, I read. ALOT.
I guess you could say my love for books stems from my obsession with Enid Blyton's books. I devoured everything she wrote, from the Wishing Chair series to the Naughtiest Girl in School.
This is me.