#LoveOzYA Author Q&A With Bronwyn Eley
Welcome to the LoveOzYA blog, we’re so happy to have you here!
Let’s go back to the beginning... have you been telling stories since you were a kid or was writing something you fell in love with as an adult?
Kind of both actually! I’ve been writing since before I can remember. As a child in primary school, one of my teachers told my parents that I was ‘too creative’ and I think it’s because I let my imagination run really, really wild with the stories I was creating for class.
In high school, the obsession continued. I was really into fan fiction (especially Harry Potter fan fiction) and a few select YA and fantasy books (again, also like Harry Potter). My friend and I would write stories in our little notebooks and share them. I wrote a YA fantasy book and started on a contemporary novel as well.
For years I barely wrote – just on and off when inspiration struck.
Then I started my job at Booktopia and I was surrounded by people who love to read, people who are passionate about books and people who supported my desire to become an author. It’s safe to say I fell in love with reading and writing all over again. In fact, I’ve never been so in love with it as I am now. For that reason alone, I will always be grateful for this job and the friends I’ve made here.
Tell us about your new book.
Relic is about a young blacksmith called Kaylan, who is selected to be the new personal servant to Lord Rennard, the powerful and menacing ruler of the city of Edriast. Rennard possesses a Relic, a dark and twisted magical stone that imbues the possessor with frightening powers. There are only five in existence, their origins unknown, their powers wholly unique.
Kaylan begins her new role as the Shadow – the colloquial term given to the unfortunate people selected – and knows she will soon be dead. Part of the Relic’s power is to defend its ‘owner’ from all threats. Anyone who is not part of Rennard’s bloodline is seen as a threat and slowly poisoned when in proximity to the stone. When one Shadow dies from the poisonous effects, a new Shadow is selected.
Things already seem bad enough but once Kaylan begins her new role in the castle, she discovers there is a plot to destroy all five Relics – and the bloodlines who posses them – underway. Kaylan has to decide where her loyalties lie and whether or not, being in a unique position, she will aid this rebellion to end magic. Of course, things are never that simple!
Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
Oooh good question. I have a pretty bad memory and am struggling to remember the books I read as a kid! I did really love John Marsden’s Tomorrow series – as many kids did – because it was the first book that made me feel such epic emotions.
Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
My mum is a huge reader and always has been. Dad hasn’t read a book ever. It’s hilarious. But they have both been the most supportive and encouraging parents when it comes to my desire to write. They are creative themselves – Mum is into acting, Dad into music – so the creative gene is within me.
What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?
That’s a good question and I’m not entirely sure what interests other people, but for me it’s partly got to do with our isolation. People are so used to stories set in America or England, but not so much in Australia. Watch any doomsday movie where the aliens are invading – it’s always America (or similar) that saves the day. If we hear anything at all about wee little Australia, it’s a quick two-second nod to our end of the world. Our stories are little gems waiting to be discovered, stories that show the rest of the world that ‘the land down under’ isn’t so different to the rest of the world.
There are so many other reasons but I think it just boils down to... we’ve got some talent here! In my position at Booktopia, I get to meet so many authors and most of them are Australian. We have an incredible group of writers in this country – from fantasy to crime, memoir to cooks – that absolutely need recognition.
Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?
It’s safe to say I have a little spot in my heart for Booktopia but apart from that not really! Any space that has books in it – bookshop, library, cafe, house – is fine by me! In saying that, I have been to the Shakespeare & Company bookshop and it was such a fun time. I stumbled across a book I’ve wanted to read for a very long time – The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – and I couldn’t believe I just happened to spot it in the mess that is that bookshop!
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
Monuments by Will Kostakis – an amazing Australian YA author who time and again proves why he is a powerhouse in the genre. Monuments was an unputdownable, wild ride and I highly recommend it for a fun read!
Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?
It’s been a while since I’ve done this but I love making videos. Sometimes I cut up clips from movies or shows (yes I’m that YouTuber) but more often than not I will put together photos and videos from my many holidays into a fun video.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
I’ve heard many great pieces of writing advice over the years working at Booktopia and meeting amazing authors. Jay Kristoff said that he writes multiple books at once, to keep one novel from ‘becoming his baby’. This can mean the importance of your novel builds up too much in your head. Writing multiple books at once also means you can switch between them if inspiration for one is lacking, effectively negating writer’s block.
Holly Ringland taught me to love what you do and do it for you.
Rachael Johns taught me that you are your own worst enemy, so get out of your own way. She said that if you write a book, then you’re an author. Don’t put yourself down just because you’re not published.
In terms of the worst writing advice, I wouldn’t say it was so much advice as it was examples of what I don’t want to be like as a writer. People who use excuses to justify why they’re not writing, basically. It’s totally fine if you can’t or don’t want to write at a certain point in your life – sometimes other things become more important or take up too much of your time – but I just say embrace and admit it! It’s easy to say you could finish your novel, if only you had the time – but if it’s your priority (and you’re in a position to do so), you just have to make the time. And it’s OK if it isn’t your priority all the time.
What do you love about OzYA?
I love that when I read Aussie YA, I realise how many amazing authors there are in this country and I feel connected to them – as both a reader and writer.
Bronwyn joined the military right out of high school, where she learnt (among other things) to disassemble and reassemble a rifle blindfolded. After that she spent a lot of her time travelling around the world. Her favourite places (so far) are Scotland, Mongolia, Iceland and Ireland.
Bronwyn finally found her natural habitat when she landed her first job in the publishing industry. While she has always been a writer, it was only when surrounding herself with books that she realised her life's dream was to become an author. Relic is her first novel.
Bronwyn lives in Sydney and spends her time eating chocolate, reading and practising her martial arts.