Sports, Tricks, and Action Scenes

Yesterday, internets, my hair was a mass of funky ringlets, each one sitting self-contained and perfectly layered over the others in a sexy mass around my head. Today, my hair looked like an oversized dandelion had been dipped in blood and then blow-dried. Guess which day I was obliged to leave the house.

Catching up on Inside a Dog:

1) I Once Read Through An International Rugby Match, a post about how I love sporty books even though I do not love sports.

My mother was a netball and basketball rep and regularly coaches school teams to victory, my dad coached and played club rugby for years, my brothers and sister all played basketball and rugby, my oldest brother and his wife are sports teachers, my sister was president of the Phys Ed school student union, and right now she is guiding hiking parties through the Routeburn and Greenstone tracks. Parties that include people like former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

And I got a lot of medals for speech and drama.

2) On All The Other Days, a post on the many ways I trick myself into writing.

Some days, I wake up alive with the need to write, ideas pulsing at the ends of my fingertips, determined to sit down and push out the words until my hands turn red and my vision blurs.

Those days happen about once a year.

3) Writing Process: Action Scenes, where I – yes! – go into my process for writing action scenes.

Oh, boy. Action scenes are the devil.

Personally, I would be perfectly comfortable writing a book where characters just talked their way to the ending. That would be lovely! I like dialogue!

I suppose I’m stuck with you again.

Bic Runga! How much do I love Bic Runga? A big much.

Her song “Suddenly Strange” titles Chapter Two:

Bonus Bic Runga – my favourite song, Get Some Sleep.

In this chapter, Ellie has her second encounter of the strange kind.

Minor Spoilers Ahead.

I was alone, in the growing darkness, when the red-haired woman walked out of the fog.

I ducked my head nervously, but though she surveyed me from my sneakers to the collar of my coat, she didn’t meet my eyes. I gained the impression that, my heavy body being of no interest, my face could hold nothing more, and flushed, half-furious, half-ashamed. Of her, I saw white skin, red hair, piled and pinned, and a tight, short-waisted jacket.

As she came closer her beauty struck me, almost physically – a weird, ageless beauty that lifted the hairs on the back of my neck. I felt like an alley cat, bristling at the sudden appearance of a Siamese.

Oh, Reka, you’re such a nasty piece of work.

Why Does Love Do This To Me?

Eagle-eyed New Zealand readers of Guardian of the Dead are probably going to notice something about the chapter headings.

Anyone else… probably won’t.

Because they’re all New Zealand song titles, and apart from “How Bizarre” and “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, New Zealand hits do not necessarily make it big internationally, even when they are awesome. And neither of those are in the book.

But it is FIFTEEN SLEEPS until (official) Debut Day, and I intend to use them wisely. With the power of YouTube! And the power of COOKIES! Text cookies, that is, from the book.

Since the book is set in Christchurch, let’s start with the Christchurchiest of bands, The Exponents, and their eternal question, “Why Does Love Do This To Me?”

(How much do New Zealanders love that song? This much. Or maybe this much.)

That is the title of Chapter Sixteen, where love is about to do some nasty things to Ellie.


“You twist the truth,” I said. My head was pounding.

“You seem such a nice girl,” he confided, reaching to pat my arm, smiling when I shied away. “I thought I would warn you.”

“You twist it into knots.”

“I certainly do, my sweet. But I never lie.” He looked over my shoulder. “Do I, dearest Mark?”

I whirled. Mark’s eyes met mine through the smoky air, their vibrant green dulled. But if there was guilt there, or even sorrow, I couldn’t see it.

“No,” he said. “You don’t lie.”

When The Morning Comes

Internets, I am sorry, all I seem to be doing in this space right now is talk about the things I am doing in other spaces. Sadly, since I tend to regularly sign myself up for about two and a half fulltime jobs worth of stuff, something’s gotta give.

Glimpse of my fascinating life: a couple of days ago I made homemade Baileys Irish Cream. Except I made it with Scottish whisky, so it’s probably Scottish Cream. It was verra verra successful.

Also, my spies tell me that Guardian is out in the US right now. You still have a chance to win a prize if you send me a picture of the book with a bookstore receipt!


1) New Strange Horizons column is up! “Writing From A Strange Land: The Imaginative Displacement of Margaret Mahy” is about how weird it is to have doubled vision writing about your homeland. I promise that after this I will stop writing about Margaret Mahy*!

Writing Aoteoroa/New Zealand, presenting it to New Zealanders and to others became something of an obsession for me as I moved from writing (unpublished) quasi-Scandinavian and Mediterranean high fantasy settings to urban fantasy set firmly at home. I worried about whether I was failing to provide enough context for outside readers, or too much for New Zealanders. And I pondered the strange double vision the process engendered; I was writing urban fantasy set in the place most solidly real to me. But I knew very well that to readers familiar with New Zealand only as the location of imagined worlds, the setting that was my touchstone of reality could come across as an exotic fantasyland, as mysterious as the truly fantastic events that made up the plot. I saw the book through strangers’ eyes, and it troubled me.

2) “Location, location, location” is about all the weird places I have written, and a tiny hint of my unsanitary road trip habits.

But on reflection, although I do most of my writing at the desk in my bedroom, with my Macbook propped up on my Alias and New X-Men omnibuses, I have strayed further afield. I think it is good, if you can, not to be too particular about where you have to be and what you need to have to write. Of course, you may genuinely be stifled by writing anywhere other than your kitchen table at 4 a.m. every morning. But you may find that this is just habit restricting your ability to get the words out. When I pushed it, I have been able to cope with discomfort and unfamiliar surroundings in order to write.

3) “YA Fantasy: Full of Miscreants” is about love interests (including my own) who do terrible things in YA urban fantasy. Sometimes you just gotta go there!

EXCELLENT SARAH: Oh, huzzah, people have nominated Alan (from The Demon’s Lexicon) for a fanciable boys competition!

Discussion ensued.

Internets, I have so many things to tell you! Especially as regards books. Gosh do I have a lot to tell you about books.

But for now, in case you are the last person to see it, here is the OK Go video for the song I have been playing nonstop for five days, “This Too Shall Pass”. And if you’ve seen it before, watch it again. Hypnotic, isn’t it?

* Lies.

Guardian Book Launch!

There’s a party for my book, at 6.30pm, Tuesday 13th April, and you’re all invited!

Y’all, I am so excited about this. Not LEAST because I am being introduced by the very lovely Penni Russon, who has written books I have raved about before such as Indigo Girls and Dear Swoosie. She’s an Australian treasure, and the way she writes wonderful, complex female friendships is something I especially envy.

ALSO my Mum is coming. From New Zealand. I am pretty excited about that, no lie.

I hope you will come too. Please do RSVP though, since I need to know how many drinks and such to prepare. I don’t want to leave you thirsty!

Allen & Unwin invite you to the launch of Karen Healey’s GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD

To be launched by Penni Russon

Tuesday 13th April, 6.30pm

Readings Carlton
309 Lygon St, Carlton, Vic

RSVP by Thursday 1st April

Playing Catch-Up

DELIGHTFUL ROBYN: KAREN, today we went to Target and I obtained some delightful items.
DELIGHTFUL ROBYN: Some of them were organizational/grownup in nature, such as an LED desklamp.
DELIGHTFUL ROBYN: But BEST OF ALL are new shoelaces AND some little plastic charms that go on them that blink when I walk.
DELIGHTFUL ROBYN: One is a skull and crossbones, and the other is a shooting star.
KAREN: I love you, Robyn.
KAREN: Be mine forever.

You can’t have her; she’s MY best friend.

Things I have done recently:

1) Written a post for Inside a Dog about Meat Loaf being awesome:

I mentioned that I had been listening to the Loaf non-stop for a week to writing friends, and one of them compacted her face into a black hole of distaste. “WHY?” she demanded, before revealing that she had spent the last week listening to the audiobook of Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. That is an incredible book, deserving of all the honours showered upon it, but it’s not exactly a cheering tale. If I had to listen to Tender Morsels right now, I think all the brain-hamsters would scrabble out of my ears and run run run for the sea.

Nope. Gotta be Meat Loaf.

2) Written a post for Inside a Dog about being an adult writing a blog read by teenagers:

I spend a lot of my time thinking about teenagers, and how I want to portray them, and what I want to say to them through my books and my blog. “Don’t think about adult topics!” is NOT a thing I want to say. Young people frequently have to think about adult things because they are already happening when they are young. Often they want to think about them in advance of being adults, so that they can be prepared when they are adults, and ready to do them. Fiction is one way to encounter or mull over adult situations without having to be there in the flesh; blogs are another.

3) Written a post for Inside a Dog apologising for my part in Melbourne’s recent storm of the century.

At 2.45pm on Saturday afternoon I was heading home from a plotting-a-novel date with a friend at the State Library. I caught my train west from Flinders Street Station, making faces at the heavy stickiness of the air, and out of pique, tweeted the following just as we went into a tunnel:

kehealey: Come on Melbourne, stop being oppressive and humid and start with the rain!

4) Written a post for Inside a Dog musing on the weirdness of reviews, with samples from the L,B HipScouts:

Not only did these readers put a lot of effort into coming up with thoughtful, in-depth reviews, but they provided a wonderful reminder of something very important; someone can love something in my work that the next person will hate. The same thing, in the same work, can provoke wildly disparate reactions, and I have no control over that.

5) Oh, you know, stuff. But I have to save it, to have something to write about!

Print reviews!

Guardian of the Dead has been getting some really nice print reviews forwarded to me by my editors. Since I believe it is Not Done to post them in full, especially before they are actually published, I am going to tease you with extracts.

Kirkus says: “Fast-paced adventure and an unfamiliar, frightening enemy set a new scene for teen urban fantasy.”

Booklist says: “Healey’s prose is a notch above others writing in this genre … a breath of fresh air after all the vampires, demons, and fairies out there*.”

Bookseller + Publisher says: “an exotic and engaging world… enthusiastically recommended.”

Romantic Times doesn’t have easily extractable quotes but it does award the book 4 1/2 stars!

So, as you can imagine, I have not really stopped levitating this week.

* Personally, I am still very keen on vampires, demons, and fairies.

All About Me

Internets, I say, I am back!

Oh, it’s you, Karen, you say. Huh. Did you bring cake?

No, internets, I did not! I brought tidings of great joy, and also some ways for you to relentlessly cyberstalk me.

I realised I have been somewhat remiss in not telling people where I am to be found other than my livejournal or my website, so here are some things.

My Twitter is here. (@kehealey)

My Facebook account is here.

My MySpace account is here. (It will be sharing the same status updates as Facebook so if you are on one and not the other do not fret.)

My GoodReads account is here.

I do not yet have a Tumblr or a BeBo (my sister loves her BeBo) or any number of other things, but I feel quite securely connected to social media as it is, so there we go.

Okay, Karen, you say, idly clicking a few tabs, what about those tidings of great joy?

WELL, internets, I am currently the Writer in Residence at Inside a Dog! That is the site of the State Library of Victoria Centre for Youth Literature, and it is awesome, although I do have to increase the font size every time I visit. That is because there are so many wonderful thoughts on there they have to squeeze them all up to make them fit! Other Residential Writers have included Garth Nix, Maureen Johnson, and Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld, so I am all a-quiver at this.

My writing residency starts here. Teaser:

ME: Oh my goodness, what an opportunity! I can write my thoughts and put them on the internet!
SULLY MONSTER, MY FAITHFUL COMPANION: You have been doing that for nearly ten years.
ME: But never on Inside a Dog, Sully Monster. Let us have a moment to appreciate this honour. Perhaps I should write about lofty topics. The Nature of Youth. The Meaning of Art.

PLUS BONUS first pictures of the ANZ Guardian in ACTUAL BOOK FORM.

Yeeees, now you’re tempted, aren’t you, internets? Scoot over there and have a look. That is where I will be doing most of my blogging for the month, but I will keep you updated as I go.