Death at the Rectory

October 1, 2019 at 8:01 pm (I get paid for this, Interactive Fiction, My Novels, Well written)

It’s been a long, long time but I finally have another ChoiceScript interactive story.

DEATH AT THE RECTORY (iOS, Google Play, Amazon, etc) is a cozy crime mystery (with magic) which was very much inspired by the real-life rectory of St John’s Anglican in Gundagai. Here are some pics from the actual rectory:

 

And here’s a bit of the church, made of the same beautiful local slate:

IMG_4261

I’m no professional photographer, though, so here’s the real cover (and an unrelated church):

landscape.480.320.DeathattheRectory

Want those shiny links again? Here they are!

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Antipodean Queen 1: HEART OF BRASS

October 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm (I get paid for this, My Novels, Steampunk, Steampunk Australia Stories, Steampunk Series, Well written)

HEART OF BRASS is my first published novel; the beginning of all my (mostly Australian) steampunk fantasy stories.

You can buy it here, and in all the usual book places (online and offline).

You can also buy the full Steam & Sorcery pack here (all three novels plus Magic in the Mail: Emmeline’s Empire).

Book 2 is SILVER AND STONE.

Book 3 is IRON LIGHTS.

The book trailer is here.

 

HEARTOFBRASSCover

Like to read the back cover? Here it is:


Emmeline Muchamore is a well-bred young lady hiding explosive family secrets. She needs to marry well, and quickly, in order to keep her family respectable. But when her brass heart malfunctions, she makes a desperate choice to steal the parts she needs to repair it and survive.

She is unable to explain her actions without revealing she has a steam-powered heart, so she is arrested for theft and transported to Victoria, Australia – right in the midst of the Gold Rush.

Now that she’s escaped the bounds of high society, iron manacles cannot hold her for long.

The only metal that really matters is gold.


 

The ISBN is 978-1-922200-58-7 (pbk) | 978-1-922200-59-4 (ebook)

You can use that number to quickly and easily order it into any bookshop you like. Most Australian bookshops and libraries should stock it already. If you’re in Canberra, Harry Hartog’s in Woden does a good job of keeping it in stock.

HEART OF BRASS can be bought in physical form directly through the publisher (who will post it to you—Odyssey is linked to printers in Australia, the US, and the UK, so if you’re in one of those nations the postage cost will be domestic).

You can also buy either print or digital copies from Amazon US, Amazon Australia (kindle only at the time of writing), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Abe Books, The Book Depository, etc.

It is extremely helpful to me for readers to leave reviews at Amazon and/or Goodreads. The more you say why you like/dislike it, the more other readers will know if it suits them or not. I do read reviews but I’m not bothered by negative ones (sometimes I even learn something), so go ahead and be honest!

Like a sample?

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 8.15.35 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 8.15.55 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 8.16.07 PM

 


Full disclosure: I screenshotted the beginning of my book from Amazon (where there’s a longer sample) because I don’t know how to take the final editing marks out of the copy I have. Sad but true.

Antipodean Queen 2: SILVER AND STONE will be released on October 10 2017 (you can pre-order through OdysseyBooks.com.au) and the third book in the trilogy will be released in 2018 (probably August).

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HEART OF BRASS cover reveal

July 21, 2016 at 1:12 pm (Advanced/Publication, All Steampunk Fiction, Daily Awesomeness, I get paid for this, My Novels, Steampunk, Steampunk Australia Stories, Steampunk Series, Well written)

Here it is…

concept-1-antipodeanqueen-type1_FINAL

On the publisher’s website it has an official release date less than a week away!

If you’re in Canberra and you want your copy signed, email me at fellissimo@hotmail.com and I’ll see what I can do.

I’ll also be at certain conferences this year, including:

Brimbank Writers and Readers Festival

1-11 September (I’ll be there on Saturday 10th only), Melbourne

Including a 2-hour panel on Interactive Fiction, and a get-together for IF lovers at the cafe around the corner (at 11am). Plus a possible spontaneous game.

 

Conflux 12

September 30-October 3, Canberra

Including a workshop on how to write profitable IF, plus a panel or two.

Conflux always includes one-on-one pitching opportunities, which happens to be how “Heart of Brass” found its home at Odyssey Books Australia.

 

Book Expo

8-9 October, Sydney

Including a panel or two, probably (to be advised).

 

Goulburn Waterworks Steampunk and Victoriana Fair

Saturday 15 October, Goulburn

Including hanging out with several other authors (including Tara Moss), free horse and carriage rides, dancing, makers, and other marvels of the steampunk world!

 

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ARR ME HEARTIES!!!

March 12, 2016 at 9:23 am (Advanced/Publication, I get paid for this, Interactive Fiction, My Novels, Pirates, Rahana Stories, Well written)

The long weeks at sea have dragged by as the scuttlebutt is whispered from captain to cabin boy… there’s going to be a post-comp release of SCARLET SAILS… it’s twice as long… there are new chapters… there are even more chances to stab, shoot, or magically murder people that annoy you…

It turns out that (just this once) the rumours are true.

The beginning is free, and the rest is $2-$4.

You can buy it as an app through iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, or Google Chrome…. or on your computer.

splash.landscape2048x1536

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“Worst one I’ve played”: Reviewing the Reviewers

November 8, 2015 at 12:16 am (Advanced/Publication, Daily Awesomeness, funny, I get paid for this, Interactive Fiction, My Novels, Reviews, Steampunk, Steampunk Australia Stories, Well written, Writing Advice)

It’s finally happened: my first interactive (that is, Choose Your Own Adventure-ish) Australian steampunk novel is wandering unsupervised in the great big world, gathering reviews near and far (and scaring its mother half to death).
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My very first review was the hilarious comment “Worst one I’ve played”, accompanied by one star. I’m genuinely delighted by such a start to proceedings, and could only be happier if a major lobby called for it to be banned.
Moments ago, the very clever and well-respected Emily Short published her review, and said, “All in all, then, this is both the biggest and the best of the Felicity Banks games I’ve tried so far; the worldbuilding is more extensive and the plot better structured.”
She also said the beginning was nicely paced while the end was rushed… which is funny since another reviewer said the beginning was boring but don’t worry because it gets better once you get into it.
People say, “Don’t read your reviews” but with material like this, how could I resist?
It’s on Amazon (after 20 reviews – positive or negative – Amazon will start promoting the book for me for free!!), Apple itunesGoogle, and Google Chrome.
 
Or you can play directly through the publisher’s web site, here. That’s the simplest if you’re not tech savvy (although you’ll need a credit/debit card there).

On most sites, it LOOKS like the game is free, and has in-app purchases. This is just a backwards way of saying, “You can read the first bit before you pay for the rest.” It’s a one-off $5 payment.

I’ve started up a facebook page just for this specific gamebook (discussion, reviews and steampunk/Victorian-era fun), at https://www.facebook.com/attackoftheclockworkarmy/

And of course the Sydney Launch is at the Freecon at 11am today/Sunday (Garry’s even promised me wine, and I know there are lollies because I brought a huge pile). If you’re in Sydney, you can just show up:
O.E.S. Amenities centre, 190 William Street EARLWOOD, Clemton Park shops, next to the ‘Thai-in-a-box’ shop, about half way between the Bexley Rd. / William St. intersection and Main St., Clemton Park.
Bus routes M41, 400, 412, 423, and 473 all pass near the Freecon venue, Campsie (Bankstown Line) and Bexley North (East Hills line) stations are nearby.
I’ve been working non-stop to get the rumbling engine of promotion moving, and I now have a weird feeling that I’ve managed to start something I can’t stop. That’s the entire point of the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary to see the train suddenly belch fire and clatter off beyond my control.
Good luck, little e-baby. I know your friends are out there.

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Interactive Fiction: My Shiny New Obsession

June 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm (Advanced/Publication, Interactive Fiction, My Novels, Rahana Stories, Slow Writing, Well written)

If you’ve set eyes on me for more than thirty seconds at any point this year, you know all about my shiny new obsession: interactive fiction. It’s the digital form of “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels.

As of seven minutes ago, my first publicly-available interactive fiction story is live (and also free… for now) right here – scroll down to the bottom of the linked page and click on this:

 

DownTheWombatHole

You don’t need anything more specialised than a computer, and you’ll read the book within a Firefox browser.

This particular story (which takes about twenty minutes to read) is about what happens when a two perpetual students fall through a portal into the magical, tropical world of Rahana. It’s a place where a pregnant queen’s island is under siege, and where a handshake can kill.

You, dear reader, are one of those perpetual students. You choose whether you’re male or female, happily single or crushing on your best friend (who just happens to fall through the portal with you – you also choose their gender). You decide whether you’re a natural fighter or a master manipulator; a doctor or a jack of all trades. When the battle begins, you can choose to kill or heal, to strategise or inspire. Even if you’re completely useless as a character, you get a good story out of it – and you can be someone completely different the next time you read it, too.

How does it work?

Funny you should ask.

As a player, it’s a simple matter of clicking your mouse (or in some cases your finger, since most interactive fiction can be read on smart phones) on the choice that looks best to you, then on the “Next” button to go to the next page. Your choices make a difference in various ways. Usually, choices change your statistics (for better or worse) – recording your personal traits, your relationships with others, and the skill/s you practise along the way. Later on in the game, those choices change your ability to succeed or fail in certain endeavours. You can check up on your stats along the way (there’s a button at the top of the screen), or ignore them and choose with your heart every time (that’s what I do, especially on the first read-through). I also like having “Achievements” listed as a tantalising hint of some of the story’s possibilities. There’s a button for achievements, too, but it’s not possible to gain all of them in a single play-through.

I really like the American company Choice of Games (yes, that’s why my spelling is suddenly non-patriotic) because they’re fun, non-graphic, and determined not to discriminate. In their games, it’s always possible (when relevant) to pick both your gender and orientation.

The lack of strong female characters in fiction magically disappears when a player chooses his/her own gender – and I love that!

So, that’s a lightning-fast preview of the big news I’ve been hinting at all year. “Down the Wombat Hole” isn’t even my first interactive novel…. but the details of the others will have to wait for another post! Let’s just say my days of steampunk and piracy are just beginning.

Oh, and by the way? It just so happens that “Down the Wombat Hole” is set in the same world as my print novel (coming out in 2016) “Stormhunter”. So if you’ve ever read a fantasy book and wished with all your heart you could visit it yourself, now is your chance.

Edited to add: “Down the Wombat Hole” is now part of a full-length collaborative game called LOST IN THE PAGES (with the new chapter title THE QUEEN’S CHILD, and no wombat).

And the small press Satalyte that was going to publish STORMHUNTER has stopped running, but Odyssey Books has just (as of October 2017) taken on the middle-grade pirate trilogy set in the same world, which suggests STORMHUNTER will sail again (it’s young adult, and set hundreds of years after the middle-grade trilogy, so it makes sense to publish the middle-grade trilogy first).

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Do Pirates Squee?

May 28, 2015 at 10:03 am (Advanced/Publication, Daily Awesomeness, I get paid for this, My Novels, STORMHUNTER novel, Well written)

This one does.

Fifteen – yes, fifteen – years ago I invented a fantasy world called Rahana based on Indonesia (I was sitting on a folding chair in a concreted Indonesian room attempting to listen to a sermon at the time). My idea was that if I had a rich and complicated world I could base a whole lot of books inside that world.

I was sick of white men dominating. . . everything. . . so I wanted a fantasy world that, to me, felt female. And non-white (much as my own heritage is Omo-white for generations). So I created a tropical world where there was enough magic that physical strength wasn’t necessarily important to gain power, and where art and storytelling was considered to be the most valuable (and best-paid) type of skill. People looked Indonesian, and people and place names were based on Indonesian words.

Soon after that, I began writing a young adult trilogy set in that world. Then I wrote a middle-grade trilogy set in the same world. Altogether so far I’ve written around half a million words and received seventy rejections just for this series.

Every time a book was rejected I asked myself, “Why was it rejected? How can it be better?”

The first book of the young adult trilogy has been edited so dramatically and so often it barely resembles the original draft (which I wrote in three weeks). Eventually, gradually, it became a good book. The simplest way to describe it is in three words:

Narnia with pirates.

A few days ago I received an offer of publication for that book – my paper baby – STORMHUNTER.

It’s really happening. My first book is going to be published. I can’t believe it. . . this is so great. . . I’m going to tell EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. . . pirates are so cool. . . this book helped me meet my husband. . . I’m going to sign books, and do conferences, and schmooze reviewers!. . . What the. . . has it really taken FIFTEEN YEARS!?!?!?!?

I won’t actually publish this blog entry until I have the green light to do so, but I thought I’d better write it now (Easter Sunday 2015). At the very beginning. [Observant readers will notice that I accidentally posted it at the time, then deleted the content. . . but left the tags, which are pretty awesome clues.]

Anything could happen from here. Ninety percent of published books flop. . . but I’ve come this far, and I intend to keep going. Ninety-nine percent of books don’t get published at all, so I’m doing pretty well 🙂

This is a picture of some of my pirate research – aboard the Young Endeavour sail training vessel at the tender age of twenty-three. That was ten years ago, and I was doing research specifically for STORMHUNTER. I guess it paid off, huh?

Some of my main audience wasn’t born when I came up with the idea for the world of Rahana. In fact, the middle grade readers weren’t born when this picture was taken five years later. What were YOU doing in the year 2000?

tallship1_0002

STORMHUNTER will be released in both print and digital formats in 2016, by Satalyte.

If you’re interested in writerly stuff, stick around and/or like my facebook page. TJ turns one in less than ten days, and after that this blog will be much more about writing (and piracy, and reading) than it has been for a long time.

If you want to know major announcements only (but reliably – unlike facebook), send me an email at fellissimo[at]Hotmail.com and I’ll add you to the official mailing list, which will average less than an email a month (including info on conferences I’m attending and book signings etc).

Squee!

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Do pirates squee?

April 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm (Advanced/Publication, Daily Awesomeness, My Novels, Well written)

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Best Playgrounds in Canberra

February 11, 2015 at 6:59 pm (Daily Awesomeness, I get paid for this, MegaList of Awesomeness, Top Ten, Well written)

Earlier this year (and adding to previous experience) I set out to become the world expert on Canberra playgrounds. I think I succeeded, and I have the travel articles to prove it. First, a not-very-plausible Tour of Canberra (seriously, all of it) through playgrounds. It really does work for seeing all Canberra’s best bits in a single day, and it involves art, science, culture, history, and music! pic12   Secondly, the best ten playgrounds rated – by imaginative fun, parental seating, safety, toilet facilities, fatal flaws, likelihood of crowding, and more! I write a LOT of travel articles. These two are the best by far, hence being put on the blog. Louisette’s godmother saw the Epic Tour and said she’d like to attempt it! I’ll let you know how far we get before Louisette begs to go home 🙂   pic8

NB These picture are the property of WeekendNotes.

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Open Letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

January 7, 2015 at 11:33 pm (Entries that matter, Well written)

Felicity Banks

fellissimo@hotmail.com

 

Dear Mr Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection:

I was a teenager when I first realised there was something wrong with Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. A case was being discussed on the radio of a gay man in danger due to his homosexuality. When I heard the story, he had already been returned to his country of origin on the basis that he was faking homosexuality in order to gain entry to Australia – despite the fact that he was in a relationship with another asylum seeker at the time.

I’m in my thirties now with two children of my own that I would protect with my life – but I still fear for the children and adults who have come to Australia for help only to face an immigration system that is designed to send away as many asylum seekers as possible. It seems asylum seekers are presumed to be guilty of “faking it” – but statistics indicate the majority are genuine refugees1.

I know that as a police officer you have seen the best and the worst of humanity, and have protected and defended the most vulnerable people in our community. You have also seen first-hand that justice requires an open flow of information.

Thanks to the recent Migration Bill, your job includes the power to hide Australia’s legal processes regarding our asylum seekers. You even have the power to knowingly send genuine refugees back to likely torture and death without ever letting the Australian media or the UN find out2.

I do not believe that is the kind of person you are.

There are three things I think you and I both believe in:

1. Transparency.

The Australian government must be 100% transparent about exactly what is happening to asylum seekers who attempt to find a home in Australia (except of course for hiding names and faces of asylum seekers who feel they or their loved ones may be in danger if revealed).

2. Freedom.

No innocent person (particularly a child) should be imprisoned.

a. We urgently need to get kids (and adults) out of detention and into Australia (not Papua New Guinea or Nauru, where they are in immediate physical danger from locals when released into the community3). The Uniting Church has volunteered to find safe homes for all the unaccompanied minors, and there are many other organisations falling over themselves to volunteer to help more people – at zero cost to the taxpayer4.

If sorting out aid organisations is too complex, ask the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to do it for you.

b. Our legal process is appallingly slow5 and the lack of a firm release date from detention is causing enormous harm6. It is not right to treat asylum seekers as badly as we do7, even in an effort to discourage people smuggling. The “stop the boats” policy looks good on paper, but only because the horrors are happening out of sight8.Our legal process should be weighted accordingly. The purpose of law is to protect the vulnerable – punishing the guilty is a secondary concern.

The fast-track-style legal process would be a good thing if it was used to get genuine refugees out of detention fast. It is not a good thing when it results in genuine refugees getting deported due to a lack of adequate examination of their case.

The needs of the incarcerated children are paramount, and their innocence is clear. But the majority of adults in detention don’t deserve to be there either1.

3. Humanity.

Please formally reaffirm Australia’s commitment to international human rights law, including the Refugee Convention that we helped to write9. Until now, we had a good human rights record. You have the power to make us a human rights leader once again.

Yours Sincerely,

Felicity Banks

Please note this is an open letter that, excluding my contact details, will be shared online.

1. https://www.facebook.com/australianwelfarenews/photos/a.1415143595422337.1073741828.1415019052101458/1505522853051077/?type=1

In 2009/2010, 80% of boat arrivals were deemed to be genuine refugees, and only 3% of asylum seekers arrived by boat (ie “boat people” are an incredibly minor part of the issue, and are usually genuine refugees).

2. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-fraser-savages-scott-morrisons-new-asylum-seeker-laws-and-senators-who-passed-them-20141210-124bp1.html

Former PM Malcolm Fraser is appalled at the recent Migration Bill and the powers it bestows upon the Immigration Minister (including secrecy and the ability to knowingly return people to a place where they are likely to be tortured).

3. http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/28/child-refugees-australia-sent-to-nauru-report-beatings-and-death-threats

Men and women granted refugee status and released into Nauru face persecution and threats, including police harassment when they ask for help. Women are afraid of being attacked and raped in their camps (both in and out of detention, but out of detention is more dangerous).

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/31/refugees-living-on-nauru-say-they-want-to-return-to-detention-to-flee-violence?CMP=share_btn_fb

Unaccompanied children granted refugee status and released into Nauru face persecution from locals including beatings and threats.

4. http://www.mdainc.org.au/sites/default/files/Assessing-the-economic-contribution-of-refugees-in-Australia-Final.pdfhttp://wbttaus.org/better-ways/

Although studies vary considerably in their estimates, all agree that in the long term refugees settled within Australia benefit the national economy.

http://wbttaus.org/better-ways/

Suggestions of better ways to process asylum seekers (especially children).

5. http://wbttaus.org/

At the time of writing (30 December 2014) 603 children are in immigration detention in Australia, 186 on Nauru, and the average time spent in detention is 413 days.

6. https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2014/12/13/taliban-targets-afghan-family-scott-morrison-stalls/14183892001364#.VKF0pfCcC (trigger warning)

A case study of a girl given asylum in Australia after her father refused to allow her to become the concubine of a Taliban chief. While she waited three years for paperwork to process so her family could also be given asylum, her father was killed. Her brother is missing and probably also dead.

7. http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2014/10/25/open-letter-living-the-hell-called-nauru/14141556001165#.VKF2EfCcC

An asylum seeker mother details the horrific and unsanitary conditions in Nauru, including a lack of adequate drinking water.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/23/immigration-policy-in-2014-reza-baratis-death-was-a-low-point-and-just-the-beginning

A summary of 2014 for asylum seekers in Australia: “Under Australia’s watchful eye, asylum seekers face an environment of intimidation, violence, self-harm and procedural uncertainty. “

http://theconversation.com/asylum-seeker-code-is-a-rhetorical-tool-with-severe-consequences-35083

The bizarre rules for refugee visas (eg not being allowed to swear in public or they may have their visas revoked) are designed to dehumanise legitimate immigrants and promote racism in the community.

8. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/11/scott-morrison-may-gloat-but-asylum-seekers-take-more-boats-than-ever?CMP=share_btn_fb

The “stop the boats” policy is putting more people in danger (the most vulnerable are ignored because they are forced to go and risk death elsewhere).

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/31/stopping-the-boats-a-fiction-as-australia-grows-ever-more-isolationist-on-asylum?CMP=soc_567

According to the UN, the reason there are less people arriving in Australia by boat is because the “stop the boats” policy is causing more to die at sea. A more effective method of reducing people smuggling and needless death would be to create better legal channels where possible (but for many of the most desperate asylum seekers, there IS no legal path to safety because their own government wants them dead).

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/29/australia-hands-over-37-intercepted-asylum-seekers-to-sri-lankan-navy?CMP=share_btn_fb

Sri Lankan asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka were immediately (and predictably) arrested.

“Less than two years ago, the Australian government’s own statistics showed that about 90% of boat arrivals, including those from Sri Lanka, were judged to be in need of protection. Yet suddenly, under a secret process on a boat on the high seas, with no legal oversight, only one of 38 is judged to need protection.”

http://www.smh.com.au/national/asylum-seekers-return-to-living-hell-20120723-22kq6.html

Tamil asylum seekers deported from Australia allege torture (sometimes to death) and imprisonment without trial. Their allegations fit into human rights abuses already documented against Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

 

9. http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/28/australian-asylum-seeker-policy-contravene-un-torture-convention

Australia is breaking international human rights law, and is therefore condemned by the UN.

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/australias-position-on-refugees-is-despicable-20141213-124abc.html

Australia is a safe, wealthy country that is not pulling its weight in terms of international responsibility to the poor, desperate, and endangered.

 

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