Young Adult Messages

Posted by on Nov 28, 2013 in Archive | No Comments

Here are all the Young Adult Message Board postings, along with my replies, from my old website.


Thursday, October 31

Q I’m a Brazilian child, but I have English lessons…But I can mistake…I read your book The Genius Wars and it all 2 more books of the collection and I think you’re one of the best authors of the world…I don’t now if you are going to understand that message…And I don’t know if you are going to see that message.

Posted by Vinicius, Brazil

A Thank you so much, Vinicius. It’s wonderful to hear from Brazil! And let me tell you – your English is a lot better than my Portuguese!


Friday, October 11

Q I was re-reading the Genius trilogy for perhaps the eighth time when something caught my eye: On page 31 of my edition of Evil Genius, while discussing Cadel’s childhood room, you say that “Cadel had never sailed a boat in his life [and] he never wanted to, either.” This clicked in my head with the boat scene at the ending of The Genius Wars. I have to say, I’m pretty curious at this point. . . . Was that just a coincidence? Or was it something more, perhaps a harmless bit of foreshadowing? This leads into my bigger question: When you first wrote and published Evil Genius, how much of the trilogy’s eventual outcome did you plan? Did you originally plan for three books, or did you just get into the mode and keep going

Posted by Matthew, Houston, Texas

A I’d love to say that I was clever enough to be foreshadowing the end of the series as early as Evil Genius, but the sad truth is that it was a complete coincidence. When I wrote Evil Genius, I wasn’t really contemplating a series; I didn’t even know if I’d be able to get the first book published, let alone a second one. And although I did leave Cadel in limbo at the end of the first book, it wasn’t because I was planning a sequel. I used to wonder wistfully if I’d ever be able to bring him back into a stable family life, but it wasn’t until my American publisher asked me about writing book number two that I felt safe enough to continue with the story.


Thursday, October 3

Q I bought The Reformed Vampire Support Group years ago. I’ve read it multiple times and enjoyed it every time. I wasn’t expecting Dave to be the way he was because of Nina, so it was a surprise when I got to the end. And I love the fact it’s set in Australia because I haven’t seen many books that have Aussie characters or settings. Now I just need to find out where in the world I can buy The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group because I live overseas and the book stores here have everything except what I want. Also would ever consider writing a Zadia Bloodstone novel?

Posted by Chelsea, Brisbane

A I’m so glad you enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Chelsea, but I’m surprised you can’t find the sequel. If you live in Brisbane, Queensland, you should be able to buy The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by asking any bookshop to order it in - the Australian publisher is Allen and Unwin. If you’re in a Brisbane somewhere else in the world, try ordering it online – unless you’re in America, where it’s published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and should be available by ordering through any bookshop.

As for your last question – you know, I never considered writing a Zadia Bloodstone novel. Thinking about it now, it’s not a bad idea. I’ll have to mull it over.

Q I had to comment on what a coincidence this is! I was given Evil Genius as a gift from my aunt because my name is Sydney Piggott. I couldn’t get over that not only does the main character have the same last name as me (which is pretty uncommon where I am from), but he also lives in a city that shares my first name. I really enjoyed the book aside from the personal connection and picked up the other ones in the series for my own reading pleasure. I just wanted to let you know that it was unreal for me to have found your book!

Posted by Sydney, Montreal

A Thanks for taking the trouble to post a message, Sydney – I can’t recall the last time I heard from a reader in Montreal. It is a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it? Sydney, Australia, was named after someone called Lord Sydney (as was Sydney, Nova Scotia) and I got the name ‘Piggott’ from this old drawing I have by someone called ‘E.M.Piggott’.  So there you go!


Saturday, August 10

Q I discovered Pagan’s Crusade when I was 16 and worked through the series as Pagan and I grew up. What specifically would convince you to continue the saga? My request: how about writing the first few months or years after Pagan and Isidore settle in Montpellier? You have mentioned that the heart of the series revolves around the characters seeking love, and that each book changes and deepens the central relationship. The bond between Father and scribe at the end of Book 4 appears similar to, yet more fragile than the one between lord and squire at the end of Book 2, yet somehow by Book 5 it reaches the level of its predecessor. Can we see how it changes and deepens to get there? This is the gap in the character lifespans, perfect for Book 6, that would provide the bridge from second generation to third just as Book 3 took us from the first generation to the second. Also, if Pagan and Isidore grew so close, why would Isidore go so far away to live and teach? To all the fans of the Pagan Chronicles: I suggest petitioning your local libraries until they carry the series–this raises the popularity of these outstanding books. So far I have persuaded three libraries to purchase some or all volumes of the series and I will continue the crusade until The Pagan Chronicles become young adult classics. I close with abiding gratitude – I may be the only person in the world to take the Camino de Santiago just because Pagan did it, but that’s only because I haven’t gotten enough libraries to stock the books yet. :) .

Posted by Andromeda, Ann Arbor, Michigan

A What a wonderful message, Andromeda. Quite humbling, as a matter of fact; I certainly haven’t done the Camino del Santiago! You know, it’s twenty-five years since I wrote the first Pagan book, and these days it almost doesn’t feel as if I wrote them at all – so it seems weird to take credit for Pagan, who practically wrote himself anyway. (Maybe next year someone will publish a 25th anniversary edition, but I doubt it; the series just isn’t popular enough. I’m extremely lucky that they’re still in print.) That’s one of the problems I have with writing another book; I’m just not the person I used to be. I was young then and I’m (almost) fifty now. I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to do it. Maybe if I managed to get the Australia Council writer’s flat in Rome or Paris for six months, I might be inspired by the all the history to go back to Pagan, but at present the thought of it is almost too much for me to contemplate, with my rapidly failing energy levels. For one thing, the Sydney University Library stacks, where I spent so many happy hours pottering around, researching those books, has been gutted. They threw out something like half a million books, and put most of the rest in a warehouse thirty kilometres away. I went there a few months ago, and roamed around the old undergraduate library, and there weren’t any books. I kid you not. The only books in five floors of the undergrad library were either in the rare books section (which was guarded like Guantanamo Bay) or in the office of the librarians (which you couldn’t get to at all) or in the ‘two-hour borrowing’ section, behind a set-up that looked like an airport security checkpoint. So I went to the stacks, which used to be nine floors of musty-smelling books. Now there are lots of computer stations, couches, a fancy marble bathroom, a kitchen, little video nooks … everything but books on the first couple of floors. And they were renovating the rest. I don’t know if they’ve moved some books back in, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back there to find out. It was heartbreaking. That library used to have the best collection of medieval stuff in Australia, but sitting around ordering books and waiting TWO DAYS for them to be delivered from the warehouse … the mind boggles.

However, I digress. Your idea about Montpellier makes sense – if I felt up to researching Montpellier in the 12th century! Plus Isidore would probably still be JUST young enough to write about; one of the problems with following through on these characters is that at least one of them always has to be 16 or 17, which precludes a lot of their lifespan. But it would be book five, not book six – ie. it would have to slot between ‘Pagan’s Scribe’ and what’s known in America as ‘Babylonne’ (because ‘Pagan’s Daughter’, the Australian title, wasn’ t felt to be alluring enough – you see what I’m up against?)

Thank you so very much for harassing those libraries to buy my books. And be grateful that they still have books! (I honestly believe that in 50 years time, people are going to look back on what Sydney University Library did in horror and disgust, the way they do about the bombing of Monte Cassino, or similar acts of barbarism).


Sunday, July 7

Q I am a novel writer and I recently read you book The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and I have some ideas I would like to sure with you about a sequel. Please give this some thought.

Posted by Max, Lancaster, NY

A Interesting message, Max! To be honest, I was turning over an idea for a sequel – involving zombies – but scrapped it because I didn’t know if I’d be able to sell the idea to a publisher, especially in light of all the zombie stuff flooding the market these days. I was ever so slightly ahead of the curve with these books, but I’m not any more, so … I dunno. Maybe if they make a movie out of one of them, I might be able to sell a third book!

Q Hello again! Sorry to be a bother, but I read on an earlier post that you once had a sequel planned to Babylonne (Pagan’s Daughter) but didn’t end up writing it because it didn’t seem as popular, so I just wanted to tell you that I loved Babylonne’s story every bit as much as Pagan’s. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know what happens to Babylonne and Isidore next, so please consider continuing their adventure!

Posted by Emma

A Thanks, Emma – I’m glad you liked Babylonne, and I know she has a few fans out there. Maybe one day I’ll conclude her adventures. I must admit I got bogged down a bit with her because she was going to be moving to Bologna, with Isidore, to enter a convent (you can imagine how much she’d like that) but the information available about Bologna at that time was pretty tricky to get access to – partly because there wasn’t much of it available, and partly because what I could find was mostly in Italian. My Italian’s not to great, so I kind of ended up following other ideas. But who knows? Where there’s’ life, there’s hope.


Monday, May 29

Q I picked up one of your books for English class and know can’t get enough - you are an amazing author.

Posted by Kaylyn, Rossville

A Well, thanks so much, Kaylyn! I’m glad I’ve made your English class just a bit more enjoyable, too!


Monday, April 30

Q Have you ever thought of making a Genius 4? It’s an amazing series and I would love to read what happens with Cadel’s new knowledge and what happened with his father.

Posted by Joseph, Hollywood

A I’ve got to tell you, Joseph, I can’t imagine writing a fourth ‘Genius’ book. The relationship between Cadel and Prosper is central to those books, and with Prosper out of the way … well, it wouldn’t quite work.

Q I just felt moved to tell you that I’ve been reading your Pagan series, and I am absolutely in love with it. It’s hard to decide what to compliment first, since everything is so perfect! Pagan and Isidore are such relatable heroes (and quite hilarious as well, as Pagan’s creativity when it comes to insults is paralleled by none). I’ve literally laughed and cried out loud while reading these books. Your writing style is so unique and engaging, as is the subject matter itself: I’ve always been fascinated by medieval times, and they are truly brought to life here. I can’t imagine what I’ll read when I finally finish the series! Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for writing such amazing books and creating such amazing characters, and for being a great inspiration to me in my own writing.

I have a few questions (hope you don’t mind). 1. I remember Pagan telling Isidore that his time spent at the cathedral school in Carcassonne was “another story.” Will we by any chance ever get to read that other story? I dearly love adult Pagan (and how “diplomatic” he is, I must say …), but I miss young Pagan too. And it would be fun to hear about the trouble he got into at school! I feel like that part of his life is sort of missing. 2. How hard is it to get a book published? I’m currently working on a historical/fantasy novel of my own (actually I was in a major slump before I was so brilliantly inspired by Pagan), and everyone keeps telling me I should self-publish online to get a start. Yet I feel like that would be “cheating” in a way; I’d rather send in my work to a real publishing company. How did you go about getting noticed by publishers when you started as a writer? 3. A bit random: was it a genuine medieval tradition for a son to be given the hart’s right foot after a hunt (like with Roland and Lord Galhard)? Just wondering. Pagan’s reaction to this had me in stitches. 4. How did you gather all the information required for the books? I read that you majored in medieval history in college (I plan on doing the same, mostly because of Pagan!), but the level of detail given about Pagan’s world is incredible. I’m having an awful hard time researching my own story, so I was wondering if you had any advice. 5. Lastly (sorry this is turning out to be so long), if I were to, say, do an artistic rendition of Pagan and company, would I send it to you through the care of your publishing company? I feel like I should give back in some way for how amazingly epic these books were (I still haven’t read Babylonne, but I own it, and it’s taking an enormous effort not to start reading it at the same time as Pagan’s Scribe.) Phew … I think that’s it. Thank you for your time, and for bringing dear Pagan into the world!

Posted by Emma

A Thanks so much, Emma – I really appreciate your enthusiasm. And if I’ve encouraged you to do medieval history at university … well, that’s certainly my good deed for the day!

Here are my answers to your questions: (1) The reason I’ve never written about Pagan’s time in Carcassonne is because it happened without Roland – and the Roland/Pagan relationship is crucial in those books. (2) I don’t think self-publishing online is ‘cheating’ – in fact I included one of my books on this website, which is self-publishing online, I guess! As for how I got publishers to notice me – well, it was a long time ago (long before the internet) and I was lucky: I sent my first publishable manuscript to a literary agent who was a friend of a friend, and she liked it enough to get a publisher interested. (3) It’s been so long since I wrote that book that I honestly can’t remember if the ‘hart’s foot’ tradition was real or not; my instinct tells me it probably was, though, because I’ve always been very careful to get my historical facts straight. (4) The Pagan books were written before the internet age; nowadays, I’d probably find it easier to research them, though I’m not entirely sure; though some subjects – i.e., Victorian London – are easy to research on the internet, twelfth-century Languedoc might be more difficult. You might still have to do what I had to do, which was spend days and days in a really good library that specialises in medieval history. The two libraries I had access to were the University of Sydney (in Sydney, Australia) and Acadia University (Wolfville, Nova Scotia). My advice, if you can’t find the right stuff online, is to go to a university library – though these days a lot of them aren’t what they used to be because you can’t just browse through the stacks any more. (Sydney University is a sad example – there are hardly any actual BOOKS in the undergraduate library any more.)  (5) Please feel free to send your artwork to my publisher, especially if you’re living in America – though you might find it reaches me more quickly if you send it to my agent, Margaret Connolly, P.O. Box 945 Wahroonga, NSW, 2076, AUSTRALIA.


Thursday, April 11

Q I have read a lot of books, and my favorite keeps switching but Evil Genius will always be my favorite. I don’t know why but whenever I read them I get a strange feeling that I don’t get from other books. I really love your books is I guess what I am trying to say. Anyway on to my question. I am trying to become a writer kind of. I am really good at the beginning, but I can’t end my stories. The end is really lame so can you help with some good endings?

Posted by Cassondra, Longmont

A Well, thanks, Cassondra! I really appreciate that. As for ending your stories, I would advise doing what I have learned to do, over the last twenty years: don’t even start your stories until you know, at least approximately, where they’re going to end. This means a lot of planning, but it’s worth the effort. I always write big synopses of my books, and start by asking myself: where are these characters beginning, and where do I want them to end up? In a new family situation? With a good friend? Dead? Alive?In a different country? Back where they started? It’s almost as if you have to start with the end: you pin down the story at both ends, THEN fill in the middle by figuring out how to move your characters from one point to the other. I hope that doesn’t sound too vague. One thing to remember is that the story will kind of end itself if you know where you want to leave your character at its close. If all the boxes are ticked (ie. they’re safe, in love, free, or with a major goal achieved) then there will be nowhere else to go.

The other thing to remember is that you should try to work in some kind of climax shortly before the end. And the end should contain some sort of resolution to that climax.

Q I just stayed up quite late last night to finish The Genius Wars. I’d picked up Evil Genius at a used bookstore a while back and really enjoyed it. Didn’t realize that it was part of a trilogy, so when I came across the other two earlier this week, I had to snag them right away and spend the rest of the week devouring them. I must say – I’m kind of sad that I’ve finished. They were very good. I’d be interested in seeing where the narrative goes from here. As happens with any well told story, my mind now is bouncing from possibility to possibility. I would hope that Cadel would be able to find some sense of closure since he is trying so hard to shake off the inclinations that had developed from his initial upbringing. Otherwise, I could easily see his paranoia taking over and causing him to become an overly intelligent Don Quixote – creating monsters and demons where there are none. Someone with his level of genius having a break from reality such as that could wreak havoc while trying to ‘fix’ problems that aren’t there. That would probably be a follow-up geared for an entirely different demographic. Anyhow – just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the series. Thanks for keeping my brain entertained!

Posted by Billy, Brooklyn

A Boy, that’s an interesting take on things; a psychological-meltdown thriller sequel. A bit different from the more action-oriented tone of the books I wrote, though there was always a heavy streak of paronoia and conspiracy theory in those. Actually, something like that would probably work, though you’re right; you’d end up with a different kind of animal, appealing to a different demographic. And I’m wondering if you’d do it from someone else’s point of view – i.e., not Cadel’s. Actually, you’d probably have to use another ‘narrator’ character because it would explain the shift in tone. But then you’d open a whole new can of worms because Cadel’s life wouldn’t have reached any kind of resolution after all – in fact he would have to be the ‘baddie’, kind of.

I’ve got to admit, I feel a bit exhausted just thinking about it. You’ve obviously got a younger brain than mine. But I’m glad I’ve been keeping it entertained!

By the way, if you like brain-entertaining books, you might like my new book Saving Thanehaven, which is being published in America in July. It’s a bit of a brain-twister, because it takes place inside a computer, and is all about a computer-game hero battling with a computer virus.


Friday, March 8

Q I am doing a character monologue on Cadel from Evil Genius. What would you say about Cadel? How does he feel about the people around him?

Posted by Alvin, Chino Hills

A Well, Alvin, it depends on when the monologue is set. His feelings at the beginning of the book are different from his feelings at the end. At the beginning of the book he feels very isolated, Thaddeus seems to be the only person who understands him, and he prefers systems to people. By the end of the book, he’s found someone who truly understands him without requiring anything in return (Sonya), he’s rejected Thaddeus’s notion that ‘superior’ people like him should rule the world, and he’s lost in a kind of limbo, without family or a place in the world.


Wednesday, February 13
Q I don’t even know where to start… Your books changed my life. I am a writer (or will be, as I am only thirteen), and I was amazed by the whole thing. The ideas, the characters, the words, everything. My favorite character was Prosper English… I don’t know why I’m so attached to him. I hate him with a burning passion that I can’t put into words, but I feel like I understand him. Yet I don’t. There is a word out there, I’m sure of it, that can summarize him, but I don’t think it exists yet. Now, my question for you. How were you able to make Prosper and his evil and coldness and soullessness seem so real? Was it the words? The things he did? I am curious to see what made me like and hate a figment of someone else’s imagination.

Posted by Grace, Chicago

A That’s an interesting question, Grace. I suppose one thing you’ve got to look at is context. I write a lot of what’s called, for want of a better word, ‘fantasy’, but I always make sure that I root the element of fantasy very deeply in reality. Every element of fantasy is encased in layer upon layer of reality – like medicine encased in candy-coated chocolate. It makes it easier to swallow. So perhaps Prosper seems ‘real’ because I’ve given him a fairly realistic backstory, a fairly realistic (if twisted) world view, a whole slew of tastes and detailed characteristics ….

Plus, of course, he was very bright and solid in my own head. I always felt that I could sit down and have a conversation with Prosper; he’s one of those characters who almost took over his own development. Not all of my characters are like that by any means, but when I luck into them, they always have a big impact on people – because in a funny sort of way, it’s almost as if they start existing independently of me.

Q Have you ever thought of making a book about Reuben and his life story, I would love to read a book about him?

Posted by Luka, Hurst, Texas

A Thanks for saying so, Luka, but I don’t know if that would be possible. You see, I think Reuben’s life story, prior to The Reformed Vampire Support Group and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, must have been so EXTREMELY grim that I couldn’t include it in that series – which is supposed to be at least mildly humorous. In fact I don’t even know if it would be suitable for young adults (though I have to admit, young adult books are getting more and more confronting, these days).
Q The characters and plot content was addictive, but how your research is evident in the Evil Genius trilogy made the stories impactful to me. There were real and cutting edge references to video-photo editing and to novel security concerns for federal agencies (particularly that of power grids and traffic systems)-so I hear from SpyCast. Seeing the hologram Tupac on youtube made me think of the Full Body Scans in the last book. Podcasting ‘phone phreaks’ prove social engineering to still be a major source of concern (and P.English uses it heavily). The immersion of concepts from complexity science and social network analysis, through Cadel, has fired my interests towards hopefully what I see as an emerging career path for myself. You effectively extrapolated a plot that was hypothetical yet tantalizing, unlike similar stories that treat genius like the end-all reason for everything. In one popular book series, the teenage genius ‘hacked’ Google on accident! Your story also avoids pseudoscience and flim-flam that sometimes story writers use for plot-hole filling, easy character development or personal reasons. Do you have any book recommendations? I don’t read much (and never fiction!), but would in a heartbeat if more stories were somehow like the Evil Genius trilogy. I read that you do more research than less to immerse yourself, but is there something else? I’ve heard this advice for writing in-general but I find independent research useful outside of writing too. An alias called Fravia, of the website ‘searchlores,’ provided me with foundation as a highschool freshman or sophomore that I hope to have actually improved upon since. I am always seeking to learn how others do their research. In terms of exploring a new field or subject, I often try to rush into it with dozens of browser tabs, research papers I don’t yet fully understand, introductory educational resources, and youtube videos. To help me in the longer term I maintain an online bookmark manager, follow relevant facebook/twitter/G+ feeds, and build a sync-d OneNote notebook (which used to be on paper in folders & binders). To what extent do you use online resources? Could you offer any insights to your research method (even if it’s nothing like what I mentioned)? Do you have any book recommendations (including yours)? I apologize if I am asking too much, rambling too long, or making presumptions (if so, I hope you take them as compliments) and thanks for the consideration! I do hope you see my message but noting how the ‘previous Young Adult Message Board entries’ go up to December 2010, I completely understand if I don’t ever get a response.

Posted by Maxim, Boston

A I don’t know why you couldn’t see any message board answers after December 2010, Maxim – I last posted answers just a couple of weeks ago. But anyway – let’s hope you see this one.

As far as research goes, I wrote Evil Genius mostly with the aid of library books – but that was at least eight or nine years ago. Now I do my research almost entirely on the internet, and also with the help of a computer-whiz friend of mine named Richard Buckland (who appears as a character in The Genius Wars). I even watched a YouTube video of a toilet cleaner bomb, at one point. And like you, I often dip into online research papers that I don’t really understand! But things like online bookmark managers and things are simply beyond me; believe it or not, I’m practically computer illiterate, and I actually do things like take notes on paper when I’m reading. In other words, I’m still at the folders-and-binders stage.

But I think with research, the important thing is to take your time and browse. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as ‘wasting time’ on research. The more widely you range, the better the results.


Monday, January 7

Q Currently re-reading Pagan’s Scribe it’s amazing how seemingly new bits leap out at me and I devour them! Still my favourite books!

Posted by Greg, London

A Thanks, Greg. So nice to hear from an old friend and fan. Hope you’re well, and that your life is full of great books.

Q I’ve got to say, I really love your Genius books. I finished rereading them the other night, but I was left with a couple of nagging questions. Prosper always seems to recoil when he sees Cadel dressed as a girl, and it made me wonder about the relationship between Elspeth and him. Did Prosper ever love her, or was he just using her? Does he feel guilty about killing her? Why does he hate her? Another thing I was wondering was if Cadel would ever accept Prosper’s death. Would he be able to look at it and find the good in being raised by Prosper (meeting Sonja, and eventually Saul and Fiona)? Or would Cadel always feel broken when he thought about him?

Posted by Alyssa, Tennessee

A Personally, I think Prosper is too narcissistic to have a decent relationship with anyone who isn’t brilliant and beautiful, because (a) he looks down on people who aren’t his equals and (b) he would tend to view a wife or child as an extension of himself. He doesn’t have much patience for human weakness, and any failings that Elspeth might have displayed (including disloyalty of any kind) would have triggered his wrath. Also, he would have regarded her as disposable – at least compared to himself. She would have been sacrified to ensure his own safety – though that isn’t to say he wouldn’t have felt a twinge of guilt, occasionally. But he would have rationalised his actions, arguing that ‘the end justifies the means’.

Cadel’s in a slightly different position to his mother because Prosper thought Cadel shared some of his own DNA, and was therefore more valuable than Elspeth. As for Cadel’s view of Prosper, I think it was always divided. Cadel had to reject Prosper’s actions and worldview, while at the same time recognising that Prosper’s affection for him, though heartfelt, was also toxic. It was a tricky thing for a kid to pull off, and he hadn’t quite achieved it by the end of The Genius Wars. But he was on the right road, and there’s no question in my mind that he would have sorted it all out eventually.

Q Would you ever consider making movies out of your books? And I’m not talking about the half-done Beastly movie, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Warm Bodies quality movies. I know I’d probably be the first in line to see The Reformed Vampire Support Group or The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group if they ever were put up on the big screen.

Posted by Sara, Queensland

A I’d love to see one of my books made into a movie, but unfortunately it’s not up to me. If someone in the movie business takes out an option on one of my titles, then we may see it on the big screen one of these days. Until then, however, there’s not much I can do!

Q Just finished your Evil Genius trilogy and loved them all. I’m a 65 year old grandmother who just picked up the first two at a sale. Left them lay for awhile and then decided to try one. That was it. Read the first two then I couldn’t find the third so I downloaded it on my iPad. Now I don’t know what to read, what will be as good. :) Just watched an old rerun of Hawaii Five O and as soon as I saw Jack Lord I thought of Saul. This is what you have done to me. Thanks for your wonderful work. I can only hope you add more to the story, there are so many questions I would like answered.

Posted by Shirley, Latrobe, Pennsylvania

A Wow! What an amazing message! Sometimes I wonder if my books appeal to people because most of my readers are so young that they haven’t been exposed to many good books, and have low standards as a consequence – but you’re even older than I am (could it be possible?) and must have read a lot of great books in your time. I’m very chuffed that my Genius trilogy should have such a broad appeal. Thanks so much for telling me!



Friday, December 7

Q When you have published a book, and then re-read it, did you ever edit it in your head or wish you had done something different in a specific situation to change the outcome? Or have you been pleased with your finished products?

Posted by Eric, Lake County

A I almost never read my books again after they’ve been published. When I first get a new, printed book, I do tend to flick through it and read excerpts to see if there’s anything I should be wincing about (and sure enough, I do sometimes find mistakes and typos that somehow slipped through the proofing process). And if I’m writing a sequel, I have to consult the earlier book, or books, to check details and descriptions. On the whole, however, I’ve read through the book so many times before it’s published that I’m sick to death of it by the time it hits the bookshops, and have no wish to read it again. I can hardly remember anything about some of my older books, which just don’t interest me any more.

For me, once a book has been published, that’s it. That’s the finished product. It’s the best that I could manage, even if it’s not perfect, and I guess I’m ‘pleased’ with it in that sense. I’ve certainly never had the urge to fiddle around with it. Once a book’s published, it’s kind of ‘dead’ to me – unless it’s part of a series, and then it’s dead when the series is finished. It’s like a wooden carving – attractive and interesting, but lifeless.

I guess it only springs to life again for my readers.

Q Do you think Prosper could have ever been a good dad?

Posted by Nolan, Auckland

A No, I don’t. I think he had such an elevated opinion of himself that he would have accepted no advice on fathering, and I also think that, in the end, he would have regarded any child as simply an extension of himself, rather than an indivual human being with different needs, skills and strengths. For the same reason, I think that if the child had failed to make him look good, he would have been quite horrible to it – psychologically (though not physically) abusive. There was something lacking in Prosper that didn’t allow him to love anyone in a healthy, unselfish way, though he did get halfway there in Cadel’s case. But he regarded Cadel as his own ‘ finest achievement’, not as a remarkable person in his own right.

Q Do you draw at all? I’d really love to see how the author views a few characters! Prosper, Cadel, Dot and Vadi. I’ve seen Heath Mckenzie’s work, but it’s so sparse!

Posted by Nikolas

A I do draw, and I have actually illustrated three of my books for younger readers, but I’ve always felt that it’s probably best to let people form their own ideas of what my more complex characters look like. The descriptive passages in the text usually lay down the basics (hair colour, build, etc), but when it comes to nose, ears, length of fingers, eye teeth and so forth … well, I like to give people a bit of creative freedom, so they can exercise their imaginations. Otherwise it’s just another example of having everything spelled out, made easy, explained and dissected, and it takes all the mystery out of life. I mean to say, so many readers get so much pleasure out of drawing my characters; if I provided my own drawings, which would be regarded as ‘canon’, where would that leave those people? It would leave them lacking in room to move …

Q So I know “Cadel” and “Phineas” each have a certain intentional meaning, but I was wondering if Prosper had a special significance (besides meaning “fortune”)? From my point of view it’s a pretty unusual name so I was just curious.

Posted by Emily, Houston, Texas

A To be honest, Emily, I chose the name because it sounded portentous and powerful – probably because of its association with the great warlock Prospero, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.


Saturday, November 24

Q Did you know all those years ago when you wrote Evil Genius and particularly Cadel’s computer phone about this oncoming wave of smart phones? Evil Genius remains my favourite book from when I was 11! It’s been read well over 50 times, as well as the sequels.

Posted by Rory, Moama

A I have to confess that the neurological phone notion was largely due to my friend Richard Buckland, computer genius extraordinaire. He pointed me in the right direction. And I’m so glad you love the Genius trilogy so much – do you know there’s a boxed set in the US now? My first ever boxed set! It’s very exciting.
Q You may have already answered this, but I was wondering if you have ever had writers block. If so, for how long? And how did you get rid of it?

Posted by Eric, Lake County

A I once had writer’s block many, many years ago. I was writing my third book and I never finished it because I couldn’t work out how to. So ever since, I’ve written synopses.

I plan out the whole book before I write it. My synopses can run to 40 single-spaced pages. This is the way screenwriters do it, and this is the way I do it now, and I never get writer’s block. Sometimes in the middle of actually writing a book (as opposed to plotting it) I realise a plot point isn’t going to work after all (because of slightly sloppy planning) and I have to do a bit of hard-core cogitating for a few days, but I always know that my brain will solve the problem, given enough hot showers and long walks, and I’m right: it always does. I just have to remember not to panic, because my brain is really quite clever when it comes to plotting. (Not when it comes to maths, or computers, but definitely when it comes to characterisation and plotting.) I also use music when I’m plotting – I choose theme music for books, characters, scenes etc – and then refer to that music repeatedly when I’m writing, to reinvigorate me.

So those are my tips: plan, use music, and don’t panic – have faith in your brain.


Monday, November 12

Q I’d love to do a graphic novel on a younger Prosper! haha. Though that brings me to some questions! For one, has he always been so ‘suave’ and calm? Was he raised in such a way? I read before that he probably wasn’t upperclass, but had access to it. Two, what age do you think he decided to begin using his talents for darker ideals? Three, What kind of teenager do you think he was in school? Outcast, top of the class, etc? And four! Would he have ever hurt Cadel, considering he wasn’t Cadel’s father? Or, did he love him too much after all that time?

Posted by Leon, Molalla

A Okay. Question one: I don’t think he was ‘suave’ and ‘calm’ at three weeks old – babies never are – but I figure he was probably a very quiet and watchful child – especially if his home life wasn’t ideal, as I suspect it wasn’t. He definitely wasn’t upper class, but would have been aspiring to it from an early age, and exposed to it from an early age too – possibly because (a) a relative was ‘in service’, and (b) because he got a job at a fancy restaurant in London when he was a teenager. Question two: Using his talents for darker ideals wouldn’t have been a conscious decision on his part. He would have looked at the crooks dining in the fancy restaurant and thought: That’s a fast way to wealth and I’m smarter than all of them. (He’s an autodidact, for sure – a self-educator, in other words). Question three: I think he was one of those teenagers who needed to support himself as soon as possible, had no patience with teachers or a lot of other students, was obviously bright but ‘refused to apply himseld’ except on isolated occasions, and left school as soon as possible. I honestly doubt that his psychology degree would be entirely genuine. Question four: He would never have hurt Cadel.


Saturday, November 3

Q It’s been three years since I picked up Evil Genius. I remember reading it over and over, and then Genius Squad. I was so excited for The Genius Wars, I had it ordered from Australia! Prosper English is still one of the best written characters I’ve ever seen, and his overall demeanor has definitely inspired some villains of my own! I’m an aspiring artist, and who knows? Maybe one day I could have the honour of publishing a graphic novel with you of your amazing books. Keep writing, because even though Evil Genius is over, it will always hold a place in my heart. I look forward to your future books!

Posted by Leon, Molalla

A Thanks so much, Leon. Actually, I’d love to do a graphic novel, though I think I’d find it hard. It’s more like writing for film (which I’d like to do also). But traditional books take so long to write that I never seem to get time to dabble in other forms of story-telling. And since I get paid for traditional books, they always take precedence.

Perhaps one day …

Q Me again! I think I’ve mastered a broad Australian accent pretty well, although variations in poshness are difficult. As is switching to Gazo’s cockney, as you said! But my question this time is more specific: what was meant by “sotadics” in the e-mail that Cadel found in Hazel’s inbox? The one with acrostic that seems to lead to Com. All I seem to find is references to the poet Sotades from antiquity. But I can’t figure out his link to puzzles and games . . .

Posted by Nathaa, Phoenix, Arizona

A Oh, it’s a bit of a stretch but I needed something slightly ‘tricky’ that started with an ‘s’. A sotadic verse is one that reads backwards and forwards the same: ie, “I live well, well live I” – so Sotades more or less invented the palindrome. It is difficult to know why someone would want a list of palindromes, but … oh, well.

Q You should seriously write a short story or a spin off book for Prosper. He was such a brilliant character. A lot of us fans are craving more, I’m sure!

Posted by Nikolas, Berlin

A You know what would be better? A graphic novel featuring Prosper, in a different context (ie, earlier life) – as suggested by Leon, above. But he couldn’t really be the main character, because we know what happens to him and it ain’t good – maybe he’d be the sidekick who goes bad.

I guess if enough of my loyal and faithful readers write to the publisher, they might even ask me to do a prequel . . .


Monday, October 15

Q I am currently enjoying reading Evil Genius out loud. My favorite thing is always to do the accents, and I was just wondering, should I assume all characters are Australian (except when told otherwise (Thaddeus is English; Max is from New Jersey, etc.)? Any character accent tips? Thanks so much. Loving the book!

Posted by Nathan, Phoenix, Arizona

A All the characters in Evil Genius have Australian accents except, as you say, when you’re told otherwise. Mind you, some Australian accents are broader than others; people from urban, middle-class backgrounds tend to have more pinched, less sprawling and exaggerated vowels – especially if they went to private schools. (Steve Irwin had a fairly broad accent, though not as broad as some.) So someone like Art would have quite a refined, English-sounding Australian accent, compared to the twins, say.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the book. And good luck on those Australian accents, because for some reason people generally find the old Aussie accent extremely hard to master. It usually comes out sounding cockney. Even Jude Law didn’t really have it quite pinned down in Contagion; he kept tipping over into cockney vowels. So why didn’t they get an Australian to play the part? I do not know …


Monday, October 1

Q I was wondering if you are going to make another book from the series of The Reformed Vampire Support Group and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. I really like them and I think it would be cool if you make another.

Posted by Barbara, Hamption

A Thanks for your vote of confidence, Barbara! I’ve been toying with the idea of making it a trilogy – finishing up with something along the lines of a zombie rehab group – but I’m not sure how my publishers would feel about that. Also, I haven’t found quite the right idea yet. But I’ll keep turning it over in my head …


Sunday, August 26

Q I’ve just read your answer to someone’s question and you said that there might not be any more Pagan books! No! Please do not say that! I adore Pagan and all the wonderful characters you created in this series. They are the best and I don’t know what I’ll do without more stories (there are only so many times you can re-read the series!). Please can we have more? I’d even settle for back stories on Roland or Isidore!

Posted by Geralidin, Belfast, Northern Ireland

A I’m so sorry, Geralidin, I wish I could help. The trouble is, I just don’t know if I could pull it off, any more. I was actually planning to write one last book, about Babylonne in Bologna, running away from a convent and then eventually having a little baby boy, but I couldn’t seem to pull it together. Also, I don’t know if anyone would publish it … Pagan’s Daughter (or Babylonne, if you’re American) didn’t do as well as the others – perhaps because it didn’t have Pagan in it. Also, of course, the Pagan books aren’t about Pagan – they’re about Pagan and Roland. And that relationship has pretty much been covered.

Maybe one day, when I’m retired, ‘ll write a story about their trip back to Europe, and post it on my website …

Q Hey! You came to my school earlier in the year. Our class just finished Pagan’s Crusade and I really liked it :D ***** out of *****

Posted by Monique, Burnie, Tasmania

A I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, Monique. And I’m sorry I couldn’t stay in Burnie as long as I intended – a family crisis meant that I had to rush home. It was a real shame, because I was enjoying my trip to Tasmania very much. What a beautiful part of the world – and what a fabulous view from the front of your school! I hope you realise how lucky you are!

Maybe if you liked Pagan’s Crusade, you’ll also like the other books in the series: Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows, Pagan’s Scribe, and Pagan’s Daughter. I’m pretty sure you’ll find them in the school library.

Q I just finished reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group. I just adored this book, it was so jam packed with intense action I had to make sure I didn’t let my mind wander for even a moment as I wouldn’t want any sentence to past un-absorbed. it was such an enjoyable read, thank you so much!

Posted by Kristi, Auckland

A Thank you very much, Kristi! I don’t often get messages from New Zealand, so it’s nice to hear from a reader over there. Have you managed to get hold of the sequel yet? It’s called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and it has some of the same characters in it, though the narrator is a newbie.

There’s also an Australian director who’s interested in making a movie out of The Reformed Vampire Support Group, but I don’t know if she ever will. It seems to be awfully hard to raise the money for such projects, nowadays.


Sunday, August 12

Q Just out of curiosity, if the Evil Genius trilogy was hypothetically going to be made into a movie, what actors would you pick for the main characters? It occurred to me the other day that Julian Richings would make a good Prosper as far as I picture him, so I was wondering who you would pick.

Posted by Emily, Old Lyme, Connecticut

A To be honest, Emily, I’m not really familiar with Julian Richings’s work – and when I had a look at some pictures, he looked a bit cadaverous and unusual for Prosper. And although there are a lot of actors out there who could probably play Prosper quite convincingly, I have such a strong picture in my head of what the guy looks like that it’s hard to reconcile it with any real person.

Q First let me say I’m 38 years old but I love to read anything on vampires and werewolves so long as they are well written, so no I’m definitely not into the Twilight series though I love how they took werewolves and Native Americian legend and combined them, but that’s it. I’m on chapter 5 of The Reformed Vampire Support Group and I absolutely love it. It’s so fresh and new. I also got The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group from the same seller and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it as well. When I’m done I’ll write back and tell you what I fully thought of them and probably beg for another sequel. Till then keep writing the good stuff.

Posted by Donald, Summerfield, Florida

A I know what you mean about the werewolf/Native American idea – it was clever. And it’s nice to know that a few people like my books better than the Twilight series – though not enough to make them runaway bestsellers! However, since you’re only on chapter five, I guess I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch. I’ll be interested to know if you enjoy the rest of the book as much as you enjoyed the first bit ….


Monday, July 16

Before answering the following messages, I would like to apologise to readers who may have posted messages between March and June. Unfortunately, owing to technical difficulties, all those messages were lost; I never received them, and for a long time never knew there was even a problem. Then it began to dawn on me that I hadn’t been seeing any activity on my boards for a very long time, and realised that something must have gone wrong. What’s more, no sooner had the fault been fixed than I went off to North America for a month, and didn’t have access to my website.

But now I’m back, with a functioning website. So if you asked me a question that never got answered – please try again!

Q I loved the Pagan Chronicles, it basically was the series which got me into reading. I just wanted to say thank you for transporting me to a extraordinary place which for a long time has stayed in my mind.

Posted by Alicia, Sydney

A Well, Alicia, all I can say is that you couldn’t pay a greater compliment to any author. To hear the words ‘my daughter started reading because of your book’ makes me feel as if I am contributing to the good of society, even though I’m not a doctor or a scientist or an eco-warrior and feel pretty useless most of the time (especially when it comes to computers). I’m so glad you enjoyed those books. Some of my books are as dead as dodos, but not the Pagan series, thanks to people like you. So thank you for keeping Pagan alive!

Q My friend and I are big fans of the Genius trilogy, The Reformed Vampire Support Group and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, and we were wondering if there is a sequel to The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group (we live in America and may not have gotten it yet) or if you’re planning to write one. They are two of my favorite books, and if there is another on the way, I really want to know!!

Posted by Lily, New York

A Thanks so much, Lily! How nice to know that you’re so keen about more than one of my books! To be honest, I’m not sure what my publishers would say if I presented them with a sequel to The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. Sometimes sequels don’t sell very well, especially if they’re written a longish time after the first or second books. I was toying with the idea of a trilogy, with the third book being about zombies (as you may have deduced, though I won’t say any more in case I spoil the second book for someone who hasn’t read it yet), and if my publishers came to me and said, ‘we want a sequel NOW’ I’d probably oblige. I love zombies. But I don’t think they will. The trouble is, there’s so much paranormal stuff around, a lot of publishers are running shy right now. But we’ll see. If I have a brilliant idea I may feel compelled to write one even if I’m not sure it will find a home.

Incidentally, I’ve written an historical series that you may like, simply because you liked my other books. It’s called ‘The Pagan Chronicles’, and comprises Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows, Pagan’s Scribe, and Babylonne. They’re published by Candlewick.

Q The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group was AWESOME and I was so excited to relate to the different places described and drive past them and imagining the book in real life. I did a report on this book and I received an A. That was because I enjoyed the book so much and was very much excited to write about it. My teacher was very impressed with my choice and that it was quite a modern AUSTRALIAN book. The report was writing a report on an Australian novel and when you suggested this book, I read it, enjoyed it and wrote about it. Again, thank you for writing a book that I could enjoy and also relate to in many ways. Please don’t stop to writing books like this.

Posted by Alannah, Blacktown, NSW

A Boy, am I pleased to hear from you, Alannah. It’s SO nice to know that people in Blacktown are reading that book and liking it – when you set a book somewhere, and you don’t actually live in that place, you worry that you might have got something wrong or that the people who do live there are going to find fault with what you’ve said about their home. I really, really tried to get it right, though, and I can’t have made a complete hash of things! I suppose it’s partly because I enjoyed wandering about that park; it’s very beautiful, and you’re lucky to live near it.

Congratulations on your ‘A’. I feel good about helping you to get it! And I’d like to write more paranormal stuff set in Australia, though it’s sometimes a bit hard to find a publisher who’s interested. (Maybe you should try your hand. You seem to express yourself very well, and you know the western suburbs a lot better than I do …)

Q I loved all of your books, I am a big fan. The books you write are almost made for me, especially The Paradise Trap. I loved it and I would love to meet you.=D

Posted by Betul, Clifton

A Thank you for your kind words, Betul – especially about The Paradise Trap, which hasn’t received as much attention as some of my other books. I’m not sure where ‘Clifton’ is (ie. Australia or America or Canada or New Zealand … is it the Clifton in Queensland?) so I don’t know how likely it is we’ll ever meet. However I do make the odd appearance, here and there, so you never know. And you can always reach me here on my message board – it wasn’t working for a while, but I’m receiving messages again now, and try to answer all of them.

Q I very much enjoyed your books, and both Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group are very good. I am in high school and love to write, but I decided to ask all of my favorite authors a few questions on writing. I doubt they will all respond, but I will try anyway. If you could answer a few of these questions below, I would be overjoyed (you don’t have to answer all). 1. How do you begin writing a book? 2. When did you think of using vampires and werewolves in a different way than normal? 3. How long does it take you to write a book? 4. Do you brainstorm a book before you start, or do you have the whole series laid out? 5. What made you decide to write young adult books? 6. How do you improve the quality of your writing? 7. Do famous authors ever hang out? (for some reason I always have a picture of authors around a table in a coffee shop discussing books) 8. Will there be another book after The Abused Werewolf Support Group? 9. Do you get any inspiration from other authors and if so who? 10. What is your basic writing process? 11. Do you consider yourself a better author than others (don’t be modest)? 12. What percent of your books sales price do you get (and does it vary with popularity of the book, or how many sold)? 13. What age does an author retire? 14. Do you think one of your books will ever become a movie? 15. Do you base any characters in books off of people in your life (children, spouse, friends)? Thanks sooooo much for answering even one. You are an awesome author and your writing is very adaptable and you have very good character development.

Posted by Ian, Concord, NSW

A Okay, Ian. Here goes:

1. I begin writing a book when I have an idea that fits nicely with another idea. Usually when that happens, the ideas start to divide and multiply, like cells.

2. I thought about slacker vampires long before I ever heard of Stephanie Meyer. It was when writing about vampires wasn’t fashionable – though by the time the book was published, things had changed.

3. It depends how long the book is. For something like Evil Genius, it would take me the best part of a year – at least nine months. For The Paradise Trap, it was closer to four months.

4. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘brainstorm’, in the context of a series. I’ve never once set out to write a whole series. The sequels have simply emerged later.

5. I didn’t really ‘decide’ to write young adult books; it was simply that the ideas I had were more suited to that readership. Sometimes I’ve had ideas more suited to a younger or an older audience.

6. I improve the quality of my writing by writing a lot (practice makes perfect) and by reviewing what I’ve written over and over and over and over and over again, smoothing and rearranging.

7. I have a few very good friends who are writers (I don’t know if they’re famous or not). Occasionally I get together with a bunch of writers who really ARE famous (like Scott Westerfield and Garth Nix), though I wouldn’t say we hang out, exactly.

8. As I’ve been telling some of my other correspondents (see above), I’d kind of like to write a sequel to The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, all about zombies, but I’m not sure how well it would be received by my publishers.

9. When it comes to inspiration, I tend to get my ideas and creative impetus more from films and newspapers and real life than I do from other books. But reading good prose has always helped me to keep my game up.

10. My basic writing process is: get an idea, think about it, plot it, write a very thorough synopsis, start the book at chapter one and keep writing until the end, then read over it and correct the text about a million billion times.

11. Yes.

12. Normally I get 10 per cent of print book sales and 25 per cent of e-book sales. Sometimes that can rise if you sell very well (ie. 12 per cent over 100,000 copies) but I don’t know if I’ve ever sold well enough.

13. I don’t think authors ever really retire, partly because writing is often more than what an author does; it’s what he or she is. Writing is how a lot of writers actually cope with the world.

14. Maybe. I’ve had three Hollywood producers interested, and at least two Australian directors, but no one has yet been able to raise the money.

15. Yes!

Q I’m just about done reading The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, and already I’m dreading it ending. I felt like fate intervened when I bought that book, I’ve been struggling to find something new and good to read, and then your book jumped out at me. It’s everything I was looking for, action packed, funny, with that perfect dark dread of Toby’s “new” life. And all the fun stuff in between. Its captured me, I can’t get enough of it. I must ask, will you be writing more about Toby? I already have The Reformed Vampire Support Group lined up for my next read. :D

Posted by Kyrie, Oshawa, Ontario

A Guess what, Kyrie? I was in Ontario about three days ago, visiting friends near Toronto! What a coincidence, hey? And here you are, reading The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group! It’s a small world …

How wonderful it is that you enjoyed it so much even though it’s actually a sequel; I do try to make sure that my sequels work as stand-alones, and judging from your reaction, I seem to have succeeded with that one. I wonder how you’ll find it, reading the first book after the second one? Let’s hope it doesn’t ruin any surprises. It shouldn’t, I don’t think.

Unfortunately, Toby isn’t in The Reformed Vampire Support Group. (Reuben is, though, and plays quite a prominent part.) If I was to write a sequel Toby would almost certainly be in it, though not as the main character. However, I don’t know if I will. As I told Lily from New York (see above), I’m not sure how a third book about zombies would be received by my publishers.


Tuesday, March 20

Q You may remember me from 2 years ago on the kids’ message board but anyways. I’m in year 8 and we have to bring in a book set in Australia for English. I chose The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group as you recommended it to me as it was set where I live and to the point, I have read the first 4 pages of the book and I already know it is going to be an awesome book. I can’t wait to finish it and I can’t wait to start reading it again. Thank you for suggesting it. It really helped!!!! :)

Posted by Alannah, Blacktown, NSW

A Thanks so much, Alannah! I’m glad you’re enjoying that book, and I hope you keep enjoying it until the last page.

Q Just wanted to say what a HUGE fan I am of the Pagan Chronicles. I’m in awe of your skill in bringing your characters to life, and at letting us readers feel like we’re part of the journey they are on. I dabble at writing myself, nothing too serious, though I’m currently working on a novel that was begun for NaNo WriMo (2010!) and I would like to bring it to a point that could be considered publishable. My story is seemingly historical, but it’s based on life a 1,000 yrs after apocalyptic events. Therefore I can be reasonably flexible with what I include of both medieval living and modern accomplishments. But it leaves me over-explaining some things, and under-explaining other things. My question is this: How do you know when you’ve given enough information to the reader? For instance, when in Bram, Pagan mentions using bread at the first meal with Roland’s family. It’s never implicitly stated that it’s being used like a plate, though I’ve come to that conclusion from my own research in medieval life. So at what point do you decide that there is enough information for the reader to pick up the meaning and the feeling of what you are describing without being compelled to spell it out for them in black and white? Also, I haven’t found any information on the process you went through to become a published author. Is it the usual story of countless rejections that you had to steel your courage, steady your hand and fight back from? Do you have any suggestions or counsel for those looking to be published? Again, big, BIG fan of your writing. Love Pagan – he is a gift to the world.

Posted by Melissa, Perth

A Interesting question, Melissa. How do I decide how much is enough? Hmmm …

I have to admit, it’s very, very instinctive, though these days I do try to remember that less is more – providing, of course, that you cherry-pick exactly the right details. One thing that I tend to do, when I’m writing about an historical period, is research the period well enough to feel that I’ve immersed myself in that world and know my way around it. Because if you’ve got a clear picture in your head of what you’re writing about, you don’t need to be making lists of everything in the scene. You just take a mental survey and select those things that are worth mentioning. And they are only worth mentioning if they further the plot, the character development, the texture or the theme of the story. More and more, these last few years, I’ve been taking on board lessons learned from screen writers and fine essayists, the most important of which is: cut, cut, cut.

My experience with breaking into publishing was slightly unusual, in that I went through the whole repeated rejection period at a very young age. I had my first ‘novel’ turned down at the age of twelve and the next turned down at the age of 19 or 20. After that, I became a journalist, knocked off a lot of the rough edges, and finally wrote a publishable book at the age of 24. Then I happened to have a friend who knew an agent, and the agent liked the book – which came out when I was 26. But let me tell you something, Melissa: I’m still having books turned down. Seriously. In the last ten years, I’ve had two (adult) books rejected and one teenage book semi-rejected (I had to rewrite the second half.) So the most important thing about being a novelist is the ability to climb back up after a knock-out punch.

Q I have read both Evil Genius and Genius Squad and am currently in the middle of reading The Genius Wars. I just wanted to say that I love the books and am actually writing something myself! But my question is why did you create Sonja to be disabled? Did you have ideas for her in the situation she is in in the books? Or did you just think it would make the books more interesting having a new kind of character that is somewhat rare in literature?

Posted by Eric, Lake County, Delaware

A To be honest, I can’t really remember what prompted me to give Sonja cerebral palsy, but I can take a stab at guessing. Evil Genius was all about people wearing masks of various kinds – it was about disguise and concealed motives and false identities. So in that regard, Sonja wasn’t very different from Alias, or Prosper, or Cadel’s ‘parents’. But in Sonja’s case, her mask was justified and understandable, given what she was up against. And when Cadel learned to love the real Sonja, then he kind of learned to love truth itself, rather than surface appearances. It was all part of his moral development.

Also, to lure Cadel away from the dark side, Sonja had to offer a pretty amazing combination of intelligence and vulnerability – or apparent vulnerability. I’m not saying disabled people are vulnerable; one of my disabled friends is literally the toughest person I know. But Sonja’s physical vulnerabilities were instrumental in rousing Cadel’s dormant conscience.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would have had reasons for the choices I made when it came to Sonja. On the other hand, a lot of these choices wouldn’t have been made consciously. I just would have done what felt right. It’s only now that I can step back and analyse them.


Tuesday, March 6

Q I am a long time fan of your Pagan Chronicles! I’ve re-read the books countless times and they are still among my absolute favorites! I even recently loaned my copies to a friend and you gained another avid fan, as she loved them straight away. I am currently at Uni studying illustration, and have come across small pictures of the lovely first edition covers of the Pagan books in my internet travels, but never held a copy myself. I was wondering who illustrated the first Pagan books published? I’ve searched high and low, sadly to no avail. Also, I absolutely adore your Evil Genius and other series as well, but should we Pagan fans expect any more Pagan related adventures in the future? Particularly delving back into his own timeline? I know you get asked this periodically, but we’ll never give up hope! ;) Thank you for bringing such brilliant reads to life! Work like yours and characters as strong and vivid as Pagan are among the things that inspired me to be an illustrator!

Posted by Georgia, Portland, Oregon

A The first Pagan book published in Australia was Pagan’s Crusade; it came out in 1992, as a hardback, and the cover illustration was by Kate Linton. But then Oxford University Press (Australia) sold its children’s list, and the series went to Omnibus Books (Australia) , which published the next three Pagan books, plus the first, in paperback. Those cover illustrations were by Anne Spudvilas.

However, you might be referring to the first American hardcover versions, published by Candlewick. Those covers were drawn by Peter de Seve.

I’ve been very lucky with a lot of my illustrators. And I’m absolutely delighted that Pagan inspired you to be an illustrator yourself. I’ve had Pagan inspire people to be writers, to learn Latin, and on one occasion to work in the Middle East, but I’ve never heard of anyone inspired to be an illustrator before. (I once wanted to be an animator, so I knowjust how you feel. For me, it’s all about capturing those people/places/events/movements, in words or pictures, it doesn’t matter – just as long as I’ve somehow got them.)

Once again, I’m afraid I have to say that I’ve no plans to revisit Pagan in the near future. But while there’s life, there’s hope, I suppose.

Q I am asking that you might answer this soon as I need to interview an author for a school assignment and recently I have read your first book of the Evil Genius series. If you would please respond to this soon I have 15 questions worked out for you to answer and if you have the time I would love to ask them. Please respond soon as my time is dwindling close to the dead line.

Posted by Jeremy, Simi Valley, California

A Oh dear, Jeremy, sorry about the delay in replying. By all means send me your questions, ASAP.


Monday, February 20

Q Why is math so important in Evil Genius? Why do you like to use it?

Posted by Dillan, Delaware

A I needed to use a lot of math in Evil Genius because Cadel had to be a computer whiz, and people who are brilliant with computers need to be good at math. Also, I wanted Cadel to be really, really clever, and I always think that people who are good at math are really, really clever – perhaps because I’m so hopeless at it myself!

Q I am doing a school report on you and I need to know more. I’m not the best light in my grade – actually I’m the worst and I cannot find the names of your wonderful books anywhere. I have been reading the Horrible Holiday. I really liked it. So if you had a chance could you send me a list of names .. I love your books. So does my mum and brother.

Posted by Caitie, Australia

A I’ve written more than forty books, Caitie – for adults and children – so the best thing for you to do is to go to the section on my wesbite called ‘Kids Books’ and then to the ‘books’ page – you’ll find a list of all my junior novels there. Then if you go to the ‘Young Adult’ section, and look under ‘books’, you’ll find all my teeage fiction. If you want the adult books as well, go to ‘Adult fiction’ and do the same thing. That way you’ll get every book. (If I try to list them all here, I’m bound to forget some of them.)

Q I just wanna say that I really love your Cadel books (they are called Teuflisches Genie, Teuflisches Team and Teuflischer Held here). Even my younger brother (who isn’t reading very much) loves these books! I have a question about the ending of The Genius Wars: I think it ended pretty … hmm, “ominously”. In a movie there would be dark clouds rising at the horizon, Iguess ;) So I hoped that there would maaaaaybe be another book? *.* That would be so fantastic!

Posted by Hanna, Dresden, Germany

A I’m sorry, Hanna, but there isn’t going to be another book. I thought the ending wasn’t so much ominous as … sad. The fact is, Cadel needed to get on with his life, and he couldn’t with Prosper hanging around. He had to enter a new phase, and that meant being a bit ruthless.

I’m sorry if that’s disappointing for you – but I’m glad you liked the series so much!


Saturday, January 21

Q Let me say that Evil Genius was by far, my favourite. I love Cadel’s character and I find that the very ending of the series was not only a twist, but it just made everything click into my head. I highly admire your work and I am also anticipating on any of your upcoming novels. Please write more novels like Evil Genius or any young adult fiction please! I absolutely love it to bits!

Posted by Ariel, Sydney

A I don’t know when my next young adult novel will be coming out, Ariel. The Paradise Trap was my last published book, and that’s more for children (9 to 12). My next will also be for the same age group. But if you’re really desperate, I’ve got a pretty big backlist of books that you might like. There are the five books in ‘The Pagan Chronicles’ (historical, with a really captivating hero), or the science fiction book Living Hell, or The Reformed Vampire Support Group … maybe you should have a poke around in your local library?

Q Me again! Now I know you didn’t mean it this way, but now that I’m thinking about Sherlock Holmes and the Evil Genius trilogy I can’t help but see some parallels. For example, take Cadel and Sonja as Holmes and Watson. Sonja, being Cadel’s moral compass so to speak, brings out the caring, friendly side of Cadel, just as Watson does for Holmes. And then if you take Cadel and Prosper as Holmes and Moriarty, there are more interesting ideas. When Prosper is around (at least in the last two books), Cadel can really apply himself and use his extraordinary talents to try to get to the bottom of things. In some respects, he enjoys the challenge presented by Prosper’s presence. At the same time, he would prefer if Prosper wasn’t around him at all, even if it meant Cadel would have to live a normal and perhaps relatively boring life. This is similar with Holmes and Moriarty: Holmes obviously enjoys his work, and without Moriarty there will certainly be a drop in interesting crimes. But at the same time, he would be willing to give up his work if he could only get rid of Moriarty. You can even think of the end of Genius Wars as a sort of Reichenbach Falls. Of course, the dynamic is not exactly the same (Moriarty and Holmes clearly don’t t have the same relationship as Prosper and Cadel), but I thought it was kind of an interesting way to interpret the books. Maybe we are influenced more than we think by the things we read.

Posted by Emily, Old Lyme, Connecticut

A Ve-e-ery interesting, my dear Emily. Maybe you ought to consider doing literary criticism for a living; you’ve drawn some pretty convincing comparisons, there. Of course, you could say that the Holmes/Watson relationship is archetypal, and goes all the way back to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and that lots of similar pairings are just variations on a theme – but only if you were writing an English essay!

Q I just wanted to say I love your writing and would like to know if you have any more books coming out?

Posted by Liz

A Well, Liz, it depends where you live. If you live in America, The Paradise Trap will be coming out in April or May. If you live in Australia, my next book, The Go-Devil Girl, might be coming out at the end of this year – I’m not quite sure. But thanks so much for being so supportive! Some people don’t seem to like my books so much (see below).

Q Your book, Living Hell, was way too set into the basic story telling. Very cliche. I successfully predicted most of what was going to happen, except the end. Next you write a book, try to be a little more unpredictable

Posted by Ally, Fallschurch

A What can I say?

Q My 14-year-old daughter Daisy is a HUGE fan of yours. We’re from the U.S. and are living in Australia for a year. She was wondering if you will be doing any book signings or appearances in Melbourne in 2012?

Posted by Jeff, Balnarring, Victoria

A Gosh, Jeff, I wish I was. My last visit to Melbourne was in October 2011, when I made a brief appearance at the ‘Sisters in Crime’ conference; I don’t have any visits planned for this year, though occasionally I do pop down there to visit my publishers … I might be visiting the U.S. this June, but I’m not sure about that yet, either.

If anything does transpire, I’ll post it on my ‘upcoming events’ page.

Q Generic Pagan-related message (very few on here these days!) and hello Catherine message.

Posted by Greg, London

A Generic ‘Hi, Greg, nice to see you’re still chugging along!’ message. I think you must be my only English fan.


Wednesday, January 4

Q I just wanted to let you know that Prosper English is my absolute favorite villain out of all the villains I’ve read. I actually look forward to him showing up in the books. To me, he’s everything a villain should be: classy, scheming, manipulative, unpredictable, and menacing. And best of all, he was very multi-faceted. And I did like the ending to The Genius Wars, as long as I can pretend Prosper is still alive somewhere. Where did you get your inspiration for such a fantastic character? I can see a lot of Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in him, actually, which makes sense because Holmes is my favorite protagonist. Anyway, thank you for such an intriguing villain!

Posted by Emily, Old Lyme, Connecticut

A Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan? So am I! I have been since I was ten years old! Gosh, how very interesting! I never would have thought that I’d been influenced by Sherlock and Moriarty but … maybe I was! Along with a lot of other suave, villainous good guys and attractive villains – like the duke from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, and Toby from Callan (a British TV series that you never would have heard of), and Francis Urqhart from House of Cards (another fab British TV series) and even Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka (because he was a little sinister in that original movie, don’t you think?).

But I have to admit that Prosper sprang into my head fully formed, and that’s always the sign of a really good character for me. I’m just glad so many other people admire him so fervently!



Wednesday, December 21

Q I am a big fan of your Evil Genius series. But I have a question for you. What songs did you listen to when you wrote the series?

Posted by Lanie, Evansville, Indiana

A Good question! (Have you read somewhere that I use music all the time?) I listened to an Australian band called Powderfinger a lot for the second book, and ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley a lot for the first book, and for the third book I listened to a Crowded House/Dixie Chicks co-written tune called ‘Silent House’.

Q I don’t have a question but I really liked the Evil Genius series but I haven’t read all the books yet so as I was going through the message forum I noticed that some of the things said gave away stuff about how the books end and I was just wondering if you could put something up to remind people that not everyone has read all the books and really don’t want to have the ending spoiled by someone posting a “give away”.

Posted by David, West Paris, Maine

A Good idea! Okay, everybody – COULD YOU PLEASE NOT INCLUDE SPOILERS – and if you have to include spoilers COULD YOU PLEASE ANNOUNCE THAT THERE ARE SPOLERS COMING. And I shall try to remember to alert readers myself. Sorry I haven’t done it before.

Q Wow! I just read your book The Paradise Trap and I loved it! It’s so suspenseful and exciting and I just wanted to let you know that I really loved it.

Posted by Aine, Melbourne

A Well, thank you Aine – you’re one of my first Paradise Trap fans (that I know about). Maybe even the first. I’m hoping to get a few more messages coming in about that book – it seems to be selling well, but no one’s written to me about it, so far – except you! (It’ll be published in the U.S. in April or May, so maybe I’ll get a few more messages then.)
Saturday, November 12

Q We have recently started to do a book study at school, and have chosen to use it on your book Evil Genius, which I am currently reading. I am enjoying this book a lot, and it’s one of the few that I have wanted to read through to the end, and not want to put down when I am told. At school we have a 25 minute reading session and you have made it a enjoyable time for me. I recommended to me by two of my friends who enjoyed it heaps. After I finish this book I hope to find any of your other books and read them (I hope you have written more books.) I really like the surprise about Kay-Lee being Sonja. For another part of my study I am going to write the rules of a good disguise that was explained earlier in the book I am currently up to page 257. I think that Evil Genius is an AWESOME book!!!

Posted by Olivia

A Thanks for your kind words, Olivia, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long to reply to them – I’ve had a few techical problems with the website. But I’m certainly glad my book has improved school for you. I always feel quite proud when that happens. And the good news is that I have written more books – in fact I’ve written two sequels to Evil Genius! They’re called Genius Squad and The Genius Wars. I hope you enjoy them as much as you enjoyed the first book.

Q I know you’re really busy but I would like to say I love your writing!! I’m a writer writing for my fellow teens. But it seems that (and I get not many of us get published) no one and I mean no one will even look at my writing if I say I’m a teen. But when I read it to my family and update my blog, everyone loves it. But it is what my heart loves to do and I know I have to hold on and not let go of my dream. I just hope to find a good publisher. My friends have been helping me but I’m getting nowhere there. I write comedy, heart, heroes, etc. (a little horror, vampires, everything really). Do you think you could help me out?? In the publisher way?

Posted by Elya

A Elya, if a book is good enough, it won’t matter if you’re a teenager or not – though you might be advised to keep quiet about it in your covering letter, just in case it puts editors off. There are also a few things to remember about publishing: it’s a business, and that can be quite restricting. Sometimes publishers won’t accept manuscripts because they don’t have a ‘space’ on their list for that kind of book; i.e., they might already have, say, enough teen romance and are only looking for middle-grade adventure stories for boys. In cases like this, you shouldn’t take the rejection personally. You might have written a decent enough book, but if the publisher already has enough decent books of that type in their schedule, they won’t need another one. Also, a common problem is that publishers need to be able to sell a certain number of copies, and if they don’t think a particular book will appeal to a wide enough audience, they won’t accept it – even if it’s a very good piece of work. It’s as if books these days have to be different but not too different – original but not too original.

There’s something else you should realise, too; your presentation has to be flawless. It’s no good sending publishers manuscripts that aren’t laid out properly, that are full of spelling mistakes, that haven’t been proofread over and over again to make sure that all the grammar and syntax and continuity are one-hundred-per-cent correct (or at least ninety-five per cent). Your message to me had spelling mistakes in it; have your manuscripts been properly checked for mistakes like that? Because I’m telling you, when publishers see lots of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, they’ll soon stop reading. They’ll think ‘amateur’ and they won’t want to go on unless the book is exceptional in other ways.

I’m telling you all this because if you’re really keen about publishing, you have to take it seriously. I was really keen about publishing too, at your age, but I wasn’t good enough. I had to work and work and work – I spent a lot of my spare time writing – and even then, I didn’t get published until I was twenty-six, after spending four years as a a journalist and honing my style in the job. If you really want to write books, then you have to decide that you’re in it for the long haul, and keep plugging away. It’s like becoming a pianist or a ballet dancer. It takes years of practice and effort.

As far as helping you with publishers, all I can really do is tell you to look at the books on sale, work out which publishers produce the kind of book you’ve written, and direct your efforts at them. You can also use the Internet to identify possible literary agents or writing competitions – especially teen writing competitions. But don’t even think about approaching a publisher unless you have a completed product. As an unpublished author, it’s no good thinking you can pitch ideas. That won’t work at all.

Q I would like to interview you as soon as I can I have 10 questions for my senior project that I would like you to answer for me if you have the time. And with this said, I would also need your signature for the project. I read your book and I liked it and I thought “Why not interview her as well?”

Posted by Jose, Reading, Pennsylvania

A I hope I’ve got back to you in time about this, Jose; as I mentioned above, I’ve had technical problems with my website. By all means send me 10 questions, though if you want a signature – well, perhaps you’d better send details to my agent’s PO Box number (Margaret Connolly, PO Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW, 2076, Australia). Unfortunately, the mail between Australia and the U.S.A. can also be slow – it can take up to two weeks for a letter to get from here to there. So I don’t know if that’s going to spoil your timing as well. Sorry.

Q I have read your wonderful Evil Genius series many a time. I simply love it. The best thing about the series is that Cadel is a genius. And Prosper of course! What would we do without him? Like Xan, I think about Prosper all the time. But I have a question, are there any good websites for fans? I can’t seem to find any! Please help if you can! I’m in desperate need for a companion that loves these books as much as I do!

Posted by Millie, Lansing, Michigan

A Gosh, Millie, I’m pleased you’re so keen! A few years ago my U.S. publishers created a site called, which people have posted messages on, but it doesn’t seem to be super-active. I’m not sure if there’s a facebook page anywhere because – I have to admit – I’m not on facebook. The only other fansite I’ve ever found relates to my Pagan series, rather than to the Genius series. (Maybe you’ll have to start one yourself!)


Sunday, October 23

Q What is some more information about the book The Reformed Vampire Support Group? What kind of things inspire you to write books? Is there any helpful tips you can give to new book writers?

Posted by Spring, Baltimore, Maryland

A Sorry about the delay in replying, Spring – computer problems. Okay. I had the idea for RVSP long before I’d ever heard of Twilight, so it wasn’t written as an answer to that – I just recall thinking about vampires being a bit like drug addicts, and then I thought about how drug addicts are often rather sick and, as a result, have to sit around watching TV a lot … and then I thought of slacker vampires. At the same time, I’d been watching a more typical vampire film of the old school (might have been 30 Days of Night, or something similar) and was struck by the notion of how horrible it would be, if you were a decent kind of vampire, watching all those terrible films where the vampires are subhuman. So you see, I often get my ideas from watching films, or reading news, or listening to gossip. Pretty much anything can be an inspiration.

Helpful tips for new book writers? Write a plan or synopsis before you start. Find some good ‘theme’ music. Start at the beginning and keep going until the end – don’t start writing in the middle, then jump back or forward, because you’ll lose your continuity for sure, especially when it comes to character development. If your characters start changing the direction of the story slightly, that’s a GOOD thing – it means they’re vital, three-dimensional characters. However, don’t forget who the main character is – don’t let the secondary characters overwhelm the story.

Q I was wondering if you could tell me where I could find a good publisher. I’m writing for my fellow teens and it seems that you are the only one I agree with among the contents in the books. I mean I don’t want the romance stuff; I want heart like Babylonne. That was a great book. So if you do know of one could you tell me? I’m having nothing but problems on this end.

Posted by Elya

A It’s unusual for a person your age to get published, but not unheard-of. It happens. What you need is a finished novel that doesn’t need enormous amounts of editing. The presentation has to be excellent, with proper punctuation, spelling, page numbering, paragraphs etc. There has to be a certain amount of originality to the idea (though I sometimes think that publishers generally don’t want anything TOO original or the marketing people don’t know how to pitch it). The characters have to be strong, the plot has to be coherent, and the language can’t be too demanding. If you genuinely think you’ve got all that, and you’re still having trouble, then you should do the following: check out the books in the shops and see which publishers are publishing your style of book; look for competitions that ask for manuscript entries, because sometimes that’s how first-time authors get published; think about less traditional types of publishing, such as some of the online companies.


Monday, October 3

Q First of all I am the biggest fan of the Evil Genius series! I’ve read it at least 5 times! But I have a few questions. Now Prosper was a very interesting character that I have thought about for hours straight. What kind of childhood did he have? Was he abused or did he have a rather nice childhood but a damaged mind? Also on Prosper, how old was he supposed to be by the end? If you could answer these questions, I’d be super grateful.

Posted by Xan, Redmond, Washington

A I’m very flattered that you like the books so much, Xan. Prosper was close to fifty in the last book (which, interestingly enough, is about my age), and as you may remember, he was at one time a wine waiter in London. Before that, I suspect he did have a rather tough childhood in somewhat straitened circumstances. Though I don’t think he came from the upper classes, I suspect he might have had ready access to them – perhaps he started his career as a footman or chauffeur, or his mother was a lady’s maid, or something like that. I also feel very strongly that he spent some time in a boy’s home, not necessarily because he was orphaned but because one or both parents were unable, for a few years, to take care of him.

Q I was just wondering if you were going to add another story to the Support/Rescue Group series. I really enjoyed them, though I wish we got to see more of Dave. Anyway happy writings!

Posted by Alexandra, Tinton Falls

A One of these days I’d like to write a sequel to The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, but I’m not sure if it would get published. Sometimes if you take too long to write a third or fourth book in a series, the publisher seems to think it’s run out of steam, and won’t find an audience. You never know, though. I definitely think a zombie book would round off a nice trilogy. (Maybe you should write to my publishers asking for one!)

If I did write a zombie book, I’d definitely put Dave in it.

Q I was wondering if there will be a second Babylonne or will it be made into a movie. The plot is awesome it would make a good one… sad to find out not many liked it. But my mother and I love it!! And will there be more to The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group? Awesome books!!!!! Love them, will always read them!

Posted by Elya

A As a matter of fact, Elya, Babylonne is actually the fifth book in a series called The Pagan Chronicles; before it comes Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows and Pagan’s Scribe. They’re all about Babylonne’s dad – whose name (as you might have worked out) is Pagan. Isidore is the narrator of Pagan’s Scribe, but he’s very young in the book. You should be able to find all these books without too much trouble, since there were published in America by Candlewick – and if you liked Babylonne, you should like the earlier books as well. Sadly, no one’s ever wanted to make a movie out of Babylonne, and no one ever will. I can guarantee it. Historical novels are way too expensive to film, and people only seem to like them when they’re full of swashbuckling male gladiators/Templar knights/Spartans.

As for my vampire/werewolf series – well, please refer to the answer I gave to Alexandra, above!


Sunday, September 25

Q I love your book Babylonne. It was one of your first that I got:-) I would like to know what it’s like to be a writer. For I am one writing for my fellow teens but sadly have not been published. Can you give me some info?

Posted by Elya

A I’m awfully glad that you like Babylonne, Elya – not many people seem to know about that book, and the ones who do tend not to like it simply because they’re huge Pagan fans and it hasn’t got Pagan in it. But I happen to think it’s a very good book on its own merits, and I’m pleased to think that you do to.

As far as being a writer goes, here’s my experience (though everybody’s different); I didn’t start off with the idea that I’d ever make a living as writer of fiction. I started off as a journalist, on a corporate magazine, and wrote in my spare time. I published four books while I was in that job. Then I got married and my husband was able to support me for a couple of years while I practised and practised and got better and published more books. But I wasn’t really supporting myself properly till I had about ten books under my belt, and even then it wasn’t easy – not in Australia. Once I started selling in America, things were different, because America has a much bigger reading public.

As far as what I do every day, it takes a lot of self-discipline. I have to sit at the computer every day first thing in the morning and keep working for as long as I can. I also have to read what I’ve written over and over and over again, with a fresh eye, so I can correct it. I work whenever I can, though sometimes real life intrudes. I don’t really have weekends off unless I have other things I have to do – housework, visits, etc. Being a writer is wonderful – don’t get me wrong – but there’s a lot of work involved. Like being a concert pianist or a ballet dancer.

Q I am an older reader but I enjoyed reading your Genius books. I definitely see a TV series as a possible outlet, but it would probably have to be loosely based. More balanced between the superpowers, cyber, tech and plots within plots. You do have a lot of sources to draw from if one day if you do make another book. I don’t see Prosper ever giving up on controlling Cadel’s life. It had been alluded to in the second book that with the genetic research being done they could fix Sonja’s affliction. What if during Sonja’s head injury and stay at the hospital might have been a second plot. One where Prosper sneaks in a cure, but a cure Prosper could take away if certain parties don’t live up to his expectations. It’s easy to say “No” when there is nothing to lose.

Posted by John, Adamstown, Maryland

A Thanks, John – it’s so nice to know those books have ‘older readers’, though I’m sure you’re not that old. (Not by my standards, anyway! I’m nearly fifty!) It’s funny how people keep suggesting ideas for a fourth book in the series when I can’t bear to think about writing another one – they’re so hard. I think there should be an online club for fanfic that takes up where I left off. Maybe I should give a prize for the best first chapter, though it would have to be a pretty feeble prize; some of my other books, perhaps. And a ‘Reformed Vampire’ t-shirt. I wouldn’t mind seeing someone else take up the baton if it was done well, though it would have to be done well. I’m very picky about my syntax and pacing.


Sunday, September 11

Q I loved the Genius series, but just had a few questions. Did Prosper love Cadel? And did you like Prosper?

Posted by Jeannot

A Yes and yes! And I’m so glad you like the series!

Q I know I just wrote a message to you, and I hope you’re not too annoyed by me, but I have a second question. Every time I see a picture of Cadel from the Genius series, I can’t help but think of Dexter from Dexter Laboratory (a children’s cartoon; do they have that in Australia?). Would you have anything to do with that resemblance? Also, I have noticed that your style of writing is very unique and not as stereotypical as other authors, and I really appreciate that in your books. You are a one-of-a-kind author and I hope you write more books!

Posted by Fred, Monticello, Wisconsin

A To be honest, Fred, I’ve never heard of Dexter – and it’s not just because I’m an old fuddy duddy. My 14-year-old daughter hasn’t heard of that cartoon either. So, no: I wasn’t thinking of it when I wrote about Cadel! But thanks so much for your praise of my style, because I’m trying to cling to it in the face of some pretty stiff opposition. It stemmed from all the reading of Victorian, Edwardian and between-wars English novels that I did when I was quite young, so it can be a little elaborate compared to most contemporary YA (especially American YA) writing. My rhythm’s a little different too, I think, and my tone is … perhaps not as fraught as some. Various people are worried that this might put off youngish American readers such as yourself. (I assume you’re youngish!) It’s reassuring for me to know that this isn’t the case, and I can stick to writing the way I want without losing all my readers!


Sunday, August 28

Q I’ve read the Genius series twice now. I can’t help feeling a strong attatchment even though I’m nothing like Cadel Piggot. I think it would be neat if you wrote a fourth book. I can just imagine Niobe and Vee hiding out in New Zealand as a teacher at an ordinary school. Please please please can you write another book. Or maybe start making a movie of the first book. Make it come to life, sorta like Anthony Horowitz’s Stormbreaker book.

Posted by Danny, Auckland, New Zealand

A I wish I could make a movie out of the books, Danny. Trouble is, I’m not a movie producer. And so far, the movie producers who’ve become interested in the series haven’t been able to scare up any money – or interest – from the big Hollywood studios. This might be partly because that first book would be very hard to turn into a viable movie script. Or it might be because the industry is in pretty desperate straits and seems to spend all its time turning Marvel comics into films. Whatever the reason, I’ve had no luck thus far.

I’ve also no plans to write another book at present. I keep telling people that it’s just too hard, but they don’t seem to believe me! Maybe if I was paid a million dollars … but even then, I don’t know if I could do it. You see, I’m computer-illiterate. And they’re really, really, really long books.

Q I am a big fan of the Evil Genius series, and I was wondering if you have ever wanted to make a movie of the series, or at least the first movie. I’m sure a lot of people, including I, would be overjoyed to see the series adapted to the silver screen. Also, I think that a spinoff of the Evil Genius series would be a good idea, or an origin story following Phineas Darkkon’s slow decline into insanity. You could name the book “Original Genius”.

Posted by Fred, Monticello, Wisconsin

A I think a book about Phineas might be interesting, though perhaps not as interesting as a book about Prosper’s early years – which someone once suggested on this message board, wa-a-a-ay back. I told them at the time: it’s a good idea. Maybe you could even combine the two somehow – except that Prosper grew up in England and Phineas grew up in America. That would be a problem. What’s more, though I think ‘Original Genius’ is a great title, a book like that, by its very nature, wouldn’t really be a ‘genius-type’ book. Because Prosper is in his early fifties, and Phineas was even older when he died, and they come from what amounts to a ‘pre-computer’ generation. So all the techy stuff would be absent, which would kind of … well, not work for a Genius book, I don’t think. I mean, it would be tricky.

As for the movie suggestion – see above!


Sunday, August 7

Q I was wondering are you going to write a 4th book in the great Genius series? Please do; I really love your books!!!! I have the whole series and I keep reading them over and over!! If you don’t I won’t have anything to read. Thanks!

Posted by Tim, Atlanta, Georgia

A Gosh, Tim, I’m sorry, but I’m busy with some other stories now. Writing that series was very exhausting and I haven’t recovered yet. Surely you can find something else to read? If you don’t fancy my Pagan Chronicles, or my vampire/werewolf series, what about someone ele’s books? Like the Cherub series, or Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond books?


Wednesday, August 3

Q I have read all you have written in the Genius series. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to know if you are going to write another book in this series? Or simply leaving it at three books?

Posted by Owen, Bunbury

A I’m sorry, Owen, but I have no immediate plans to write another Genius book – unless someone wants to pay me millions of dollars! And even then I’d find it very hard.

QThe books Evil Genius and Genius Squad are great! There is a forecast of The Genius Wars was released in Brazil? His books are great!

Posted by Victor, Joao Monlevade, Brazil

A Yes, Victor, The Genius Wars is scheduled for publication in Brazil soon, but I’m not absolutely sure of the date! I’m sorry; aren’t I hopeless? You might be able to find out from the publisher’s website (Farol Literario).

Q I have a great idea for a fourth book regarding Cadel and everybody else: Prosper is dead and Saul announces that the entire group (Gazo, Hamish, Cadel, etc.) is going with him on a police assignment to New Zealand, where Vee and Niobe are hiding out. Everybody is having too much fun (and Saul has too much work) to notice that Cadel has been missing for a while. He has been kidnapped and held captive with a threat of death if he doesn’t consider helping Vee and Niobe with a little project. The search is on, but it’s much harder as no one has any ideas about where Cadel could have gone or where he may possibly be. Will they find him in time, or if they do, will it have been too late? Hopefully, you will like this.

Posted by Simmone, Baltimore, Maryland

A Actually, Simmone, you’ve got a good instinct for story-telling; if I was going to write another sequel, Vee and Niobe would definitely play quite important parts. So, I think, would some of the other slightly ignored characters from previous books – some of Prosper’s off-siders, for instance. But I can’t face writing another Genius book right now. They’re very draining. Maybe in another ten years, or if someone pays me enough.


Friday, June 17

Q Hi! I just wanted to say, I am reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group for the 3rd time, and it never gets old! It’s still funny, thrilling, and shocking! How do you do that?

Posted by Riley, California

A To be honest, Riley, I just have a lot of fun thinking up the idea and then not very much fun putting words on a page. That needs a lot of self-discipline. But more than anything else, I like a good laugh – so I use humour to make the grinding part of the job more interesting. I’m glad that other people (like you) share the same sense of humour!

Q I’m one of your many rabid fans, haha. I just finished Living Hell and enjoyed it thoroughly. I know that I enjoyed it because I read it in two hours … yay! In any case, I adore your books, having read the Genius series, the Reformed … books that you’ve written so far. I got a kindle for my birthday, and my question to you was if any other books of yours were going to be, ah, kindle-ized? I have little access to the bookstore or library due to circumstances out of my control, but I am a rabid reader and would love to read some of your older books and your adult fiction … I’m not sure how much control you have over that sort of thing … but yeah, ‘tis my question.

Posted by Sarah, North Carolina

A I fear that I have no control over that sort of thing whatsoever, at the moment. And I share your annoyance at not being able to get certain things on Kindle, because I’ve just purchased one myself and can’t download everything I want to download. However I feel quite sure that things are going to change quite dramatically in the next five years or so, to the point where I might very well end up with a lot more control over my e-book backlist – especially if the rights have reverted to me. There might come a time when a lot of authors can post their old e-books themselves, without publishers becoming involved. Who knows? We’re about to enter a very interesting time, I think …

Q Will there be another book coming out after The Genius Wars?

Posted by Guest, Los Angeles

A I’m afraid not – at least, not in the next few years. Put it this way – I don’t have any plans for another sequel. On the other hand, if someone was to give me a HUGE ENORMOUS stack of money for another book (you know, a million bucks, or something) I guess I’d have to think about it …

Don’t hold your breath, though!


Saturday, June 4

Q My 10-year-old son and I just finished Evil Genius and LOVED it. We ordered the next two. Can this be made into a movie?

Posted by Dennis, Toronto

A I’m very glad you both enjoyed the first book so much, Dennis. (And I sure hope the next two don’t disappoint.) As far as movies go – well, a couple of producers have pitched Evil Genius to various studios, but to no avail, I fear. I think the studio executives must be put off by its complexity, or something.

Wednesday, May 18

Q I love these books! I play games a lot but in other times I read books. I read the The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and now I’m hitched reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group. I just really wanted to know when the third one comes out cause Dr Paslow and Danny Ruiz left me wanting more cause I wanna figure out what happens.

Posted by Leeton, Sydney

A Unfortunately, Leeton, I haven’t got another sequel in the pipeline at the moment, though I’ve been thinking about a possible third book lately and might have a stab at writing one more in the series at a later date – maybe the end of next year, or something, when I’ve finished all the other books I have to write! (I’m writing one now and I’m under contract to write another after that). I only wish I wrote more quickly – I have all these ideas but the process of actually putting them to paper takes so long that it drives me mad. And as for the long, drawn-out process of editing, sub-editing, proof-reading and finally publishing … don’t even get me started.

Q About The Reformed Vampire Support Group: will you be releasing a sequel to this book?

Posted by Justin, Auckland, New Zealand

A Haven’t you seen the sequel around New Zealand, Justin? Oh dear. There certainly is one – as you can see from the question above, it’s called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. You should be able to get it directly from my publishers, Allen and Unwin, if you can’t find it at your local bookshop …

Q Any more books forthcoming in The Secret Familiar vein?

Posted by Trinda, Millumbimby, NSW

A Not in the immediate future, Trinda, because I’m afraid my adult medieval murder mysteries never did sell all that well – not in Australia, anyway (though they’ve been fairly popular in Europe). Still, I’m extremely glad to hear that there’s at least one Secret Familiar reader out there in regional New South Wales, since I figured that poor old book was pretty much dead and gone. (Incidentally, you do know it’s the third in a kind of series about the Inquisition, don’t you? The first two were The Inquisitor and The Notary, both of which can sometimes be found in libraries and second-hand bookshops.)


Wednesday, May 4

Q Kristy, one of our fine local librarians in Panama City, suggested The Reformed Vampire Support Group to me and my 12 year old daughter Sierra. Sierra has a learning disability (reading), so we borrow lots and lots of audio books! We listened to it in March and when we returned it we requested the library get the companion The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. It came into the library quickly (in book format only) and I just finished reading it to Sierra this week. We both enjoyed it tremendously! (Though I’m sure Sierra prefers the audio book because I have very little skill at doing an Australian accent, though I have nearly mastered the words “mum” and “Nina.”) Sierra is ready for book 3 and wants to know more about Danny. You write so well, it was as if we were there in the outback. Personally, I just wanted to shoot some of those rascals, get some supper, grab a shower, and get some much needed (and deserved) sleep. Your characters are much more “humane” than I would have been under those circumstances. Lastly, I enjoy watching Sierra’s vocabulary grow; she is learning to toss in “bloody” in everyday conversation. She has also informed her peers that Australians (and the English, in general) say “mum” for the American “mom” and say they are “going to hospital” instead of the American “going to THE hospital.” Listening to audio books, such as yours, helps her to compensate for her LD in reading.

Sierra was wondering if you had any idea of when a follow up to Reformed Vampire/Abused Werewolf might be out.

PS: Kristy checked out The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group the day we returned it. She couldn’t wait to read it!

Posted by Christine and Sierra, Panama City, Florida

A Oh dear, Christine, have I taught Sierra to say ‘bloody’? Not that it’s a very strong curse – probably not even as strong as ‘damned’, but …well, let’s just say I’m very sorry. (I hope she’s not flinging it around too much!) However, I’m awfully glad that you enjoyed the books and that they’ve increased Sierra’s interest in language. It’s funny how different the English language can be in different countries. I’ve had to wrestle with this fact myself over and over again when editing my books for America; it’s amazing what I can’t say. Nature strip, terrace house, come a cropper, gobsmacked, fairy floss, dodgem cars, caravans . . . the list goes on and on. And don’t even get me started on the spelling!

I’m afraid I haven’t even written a sequel to Reformed and Abused yet, and I’m not going to for at least a year, so you won’t see it any time soon. I’m sorry. I wish I could tackle these things more quickly, but books take so long to write! It’s very annoying. I wish I was like some of those Renaissance artists, who had studios full of subordinate artists to paint the background details while the artists themselves painted face and hands. But I have to do everything – background details included.

Q I read your book Evil Genius only last year and I completed the series last year. I loved all the characters (especially Prosper, Cadel and Mace) and the plot and also how much thought was put into your book. Computers always fascinated me, I love the idea of a network, social or mechanical with connections and variables etc, have had a bit of a go with Python programming and cryptanalysis, but I have never really entertained the idea that it’ s where I would end up. But anyway, I started writing down the obscure references from your books (like stack frames, buffer overflows, Bayesian theory, the solitaire cipher etc.) so I could look them up and understand them. Well, I didn’t always understand fully, but i was intrigued. On a whim, I downloaded one of Richard Buckland’s lectures on computing from 2008. He did “Hello world” in C and explained the storage of one-bit memory and I could not pull away! I did some more research. Long story short, I am changing my degree at university. I am doing anthropology/science. I’m going to do computer science (or engineering, I’m still looking into it) and maybe do the double degree with science. I start next year. So, yeah, thank you. Thanks to the obscure techno-babble and Richard Buckland’s brilliant lectures, I have found my passion. I will definitely be going in as an ‘A student’ (see Richard Buckland for reference), but hopefully, I will not be coming out as one. You are a fantastic writer and I’ m looking forward to reading more of your titles (even if it doesn’ t have techno-babble, haha)!! Also, sorry if my English is wrong, it is not my first language.

Posted by Danielle, Sydney, NSW

A What a wonderful message, Danielle – it’s so nice to know that my books (and Richard’s lectures) have had such a profound and exciting effect on your life path! Richard’s a great teacher, isn’t he? And such a nice person. Needless to say, I called him about your message and he was chuffed, and said that if you’d like to consult him about the courses you want to do, or anything like that, feel free to contact him at the University of New South Wales.

Good luck in your university career! I hope it all goes really well!

Q My friend gave me Evil Genius two months ago and told me that I reminded her of the main character…except I’m 17. Good or bad thing? Lol! Anyway, fantastic books, absolutely inspiring! You are an amazing author!!!

Posted by Rachel, Newcastle, NSW

A Since your name is Rachel, I’m assuming you’re a girl … so I wonder how on earth you resemble a teenage boy? Very pretty? Very smart? (Not very isolated, obviously, since you’ve got at least one friend!) Maybe you’ve got big blue eyes and chestnut curls …

Incidentally, I was in Newcastle a couple of weeks ago. I love the very centre, on all those steep little hills. And I love some of the really loopy shops you’ve got there, like all the comic stores and second-hand bookshops and the ‘Odditorium’, which was full of bones and anatomical drawings. (You don’t get crazy shops like that in Sydney any more because the rents are so high. And you don’t get them in the Blue Mountains, either … I’m not sure why.) But anyway, thanks so much for your message of support!

Q I LOVE your Evil Genius books!! Woah, they are my favourite books and my guilty pleasure (I’m actually 21 now, well into university). I study music and when I read a book, I tend to associate songs with books, by lyrics (which usually fit the story if you tweak it a bit) or beat or whatever. Anyhoo, for your series, I have matched “Numb” (Linkin Park), “How Far We’ve Come” (Matchbox 20), “This Is How You Remind Me” (Nickelback) and most importantly “Dare You to Move” (Switchfoot). Thanks for the great read! I am currently reading the Pagan Chronicles too, haven’t found songs for them yet though!

Posted by j3nn1, Victoria, Australia

A It’s really interesting that you match books with music, because I do that too when I’m writing them. Every book has to have a soundtrack, which I use to immerse myself in the correct atmosphere. For the ‘Genius’ Series I used a lot of Powderfinger, a tiny bit of Jet, plus ‘The Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley and ‘Silent House’ by Crowded House. But I’ll have to check out your suggestions! (At the moment I’m using the Dandy Warhols and Regina Spektor.)


Friday, April 22

Q Are you going to make a fourth book after The Genius Wars?

Posted by Seth, Olympia, Washington

A Alas, no, Seth – I just don’t have another one in me. As I get older, I have less energy, and those books need an enormous amount of energy to write because they’re so big and complicated and full of tech-speak!

Q I have read both Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group and their sequels and I have to say I enjoyed them very much (Gazo and Reuben are my all time favorites!). I’m a bit older than your target readers but the stories, character arcs and the amount of detail appealed to me, I didn’ t feel I was reading young adult books. Your Vampires and Werewolf are far more convincing then the popular glittery ones, and I really felt Cadel’s stress and anguish trying to be a normal kid. To say the least I’m keeping a close eye for any hints to sequel for The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group.

Posted by Elizabeth, Denver, Colorado

A Thanks so much, Elizabeth – my mantra for writing fantasy/paranormal fiction is ‘realistic, realistic, realistic’. I try to tie the air-fairy fantastical elements down very, very firmly with as much ‘feet-on-the-ground’ everyday detail as I can. So I’m glad it’s been working for you! As for a sequel to Abused … well, it’s not completely out of the question, I suppose, but even if it does happen, you’ll be waiting a few years. These things take ages to write, and even longer to get through the publication process. And while I do have a few ideas on the subject, the story doesn’t have enough legs to commit to paper, at this point. I need to let it ferment in the back of my head for a while.

Q I look for this info in some sites, but I didn’t find it. When will the book The Genius Wars be released in Brazil?

Posted by Cecilia, Uberlandia

A I’m terribly sorry, Cecilia, but I’m having a hard time finding that out myself – you’ll have to bear with me. I’ll have to chase down my Brazilian publisher and then post the results on my ‘news’ page, I think.


Monday, April 10

Q I just finished The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and wanted to say that I loved it. Especially how Toby’s Mom continues to keep the blinders on. I was wanting to know if you are going to do another book to help explain some of the issues with some of the characters. I don’t want to say too much in case someone else hasn’t read it, but….hmmm….Danny. Thanks

Posted by Jenna, British Columbia, Canada

A I may write another book to resolve some of those ‘issues’ (as you so delicately put it!) but probably not for a little while. It needs a lot of thinking about. Thanks SO much for your compliments, though – I’ve been wondering how well Abused Werewolf was going to be received, and it’s nice to know that someone likes it, even if a few of my reviewers seem a bit underwhelmed!

Q I really enjoyed the Genius trilogy. Could you please write some more books about Cadel and his friends? It would be cool if you turned it into a series. You could call it Hack Squad and it could be about Cadel and his friends from Genius Squad teaming up with the police to catch cybercriminals. But please don’t change any of the characters.

Posted by Jalonte, Benton Harbor

A I’m so very, very sorry, Jalonte, but I’ve got no plans to write any more Genius books. They’re so hard to write, you see, and I don’t quite know where I’d go with them, now that Prosper is out of the picture. Probably the only way I’d ever get involved in something like you suggested is if that storyline became a series of comics or graphic novels. But I’m very glad you liked the Genius books enough to want more of them!


Wednesday, March 30

Q I finished The Genius Wars a few days ago and I must say I was absolutely thrilled with the way it ended. The characters were so wonderful and unique. I especially liked Prosper, because… Well, actually, I’m not sure why exactly I liked him but I do have a tendency to favourite the antagonists in stories. His reappearance in the car during Genius Squad was completely brilliant. I realized about halfway through the third book that he would have to die because he’d just keep returning otherwise and there would be little closure. But the way his death was handled worked; the ambiguity of it all made perfect sense for the man who was the master of uncertainty. And the last paragraph or so where Cadel realizes that Prosper loved him… That just crushed me. It was so beautiful. And so I must ask, did you intend for Prosper to be a character that was sympathized with from the very beginning, or was he originally just a manipulative, unfeeling villain? As the series progressed he gained more human qualities and I understand that this is often how characters are but I was wondering if his redemption at the end was the original goal. And, in the first book, did you figure that people would immediately hate him or that he would gather the fanbase that he now seems to have? Thank you. :) (On a side note, I was absolutely POSITIVE that Kale in The Genius Wars was just Prosper in disguise. I had to go back and re-read a few chapters to make more sense of it when it was revealed that it was indeed Kale.)

Posted by Deanna, Canada

A Thanks so much, Deanna, I’m glad that someone likes the ending to The Genius Wars! (It seems to be too unresolved for a lot of people, but as you say, Prosper was a master of uncertainty …) To answer your questions about Prosper, I always meant him to have this appealing Achilles’ heel (i.e., his love for Cadel), because in a sense Prosper was the one who taught Cadel how to become attached to somebody, though of course it was Sonja who really educated Cadel in the full range of human emotions. As for Prosper’s fan base … well, the response to this series in general has been a little unexpected. I never imagined that it would take off the way it has. In fact I thought I was going to have a hard time getting it published, because it’s so big and unwieldy and full of techno-babble. But since Prosper’s certainly my favourite character, I’m not really surprised that other people find him so appealing too.

Sorry I got you all tied up in knots about Kale. It never crossed my mind that anyone would think he was Prosper. Sometimes I get the feeling that my readers are way ahead of me.

Q I loved The Genius Wars. Although, I find it unwise to conslude the trilogy with Prosper drowning and still on the lookout for Vee and Niobe. I possible, why not make a fourth book about Saul, Cadel, Fiona, and the rest of the group going on a “vacation” to New Zealand where Vee is. There could be a plot, like Cadel being kidnapped by Vee via the Internet on some kind of chatroom like Facebook. Niobe could be Vee’s apprentice, and they threaten the loved ones of Cadel that if they try to get him, or if he tries to contact anyone, then Cadel would be killed. That would make a great book. It could have the same ending that Prosper had, instead of drowning, just being contained and locked away from computers with no device of any sort. If Niobe were to get away somehow, don’t bother making another book; it would just be about trailing Niobe, and that would be boring. Thank you for understanding, and I especially loved the conclusion of the Cadel Piggott/Darkkon/English/Greeniaus trilogy. Please consider my idea.

Posted by Simmone, Baltimore, Maryland

A But don’t you think an ending like that would be an awful comedown for Prosper? It would be like putting a lion in a zoo and watching him get all mangy and depressed and toothless. The guy deserves a more elemental, mysterious end, surely? Plus Cadel would always be fretting away, worrying about him …

I don’t think your idea is a bad one; I just don’t think I could pull it off with any conviction. But as I’ve said to some of the other (slightly disgruntled) readers who’ve expressed reservations about the ending to The Genius Wars – feel free to play with possible sequel ideas! Just because I’ve finished with the series doesn’t mean that you have to be! I used to imagine my own variations to a lot of other people’s books (i.e., Sherlock Holmes, Kidnapped), so I can sympathise with the desire to rewrite an ending. In my head, I’ve done it dozens of times.

Q I have read The Reformed Vampire Support Group about five times now andIi love it! I was wondering if it would be continued in another book or if it is the end of Nina’s tale.

Posted by Jenna, Levittown

A As a matter of fact, Jenna, there’s a sequel being published in the United States in April, called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, though I have to admit that Nina only makes a brief appearance at the end of the book. The main character is a teenager called Toby, who happens to be a werewolf and who does meet some of the vampires from RVSG. If you liked Reuben then you might like this sequel, because Reuben plays quite a big part in it.

Thanks for your support!


Sunday, March 6

Q Kia Ora Catherine! I’m almost 19 and with securing grades for varsity, I haven’t had much time to enjoy reading, like I used to in high school. I’ve since started up again – with Pagan’s Scribe. “Uh-oh, here we go again,” I can just hear you say haha; I followed the message board. I think it’s almost 20 years now, so congratulations! I feel a bit delayed though, tsk. To be honest, in this one book I too grew to love this character Pagan, so the book’s ending left me feeling lost for a few days. I didn’t cry (as I’ve noticed is mentioned a few times) but the sense of loss was quite surprising, especially when resulting from a story in a “children’s” book. The epilogue though was AWESOME. Like the ending to a great movie. It sure left a lasting impression. I’ve recently found out about Jordan and Pagan so LMBO-ing at that right now. On another note, a Fourth Form Eng teacher told me Shakespeare is so popular because his central themes are understood by all peoples and cultures. More importantly, across all of time, too. I like to think the same of your work. God Bless :) PS Wish me well, it’s going to be a bit weird getting to know Pagan, back to front almost, because I can’t wait to read up on the rest of the series :) (please feel free to shorten my post/correct as you feel appropriate :) )

Posted by Julian, Auckland

A Thanks for getting in contact, Julian – I’m very glad you liked Pagan’s Scribe so much, though it is going to be a bit odd for you, reading the series back to front! I would strongly suggest that you go straight to the first one now, and read them in order, because the whole point of the series is the emotional arc formed by the relationship between Roland and Pagan. (Alternatively, you could always go straight to Pagan’s Daughter, because Isidore’s in that.) I guess it just depends which book you manage to find first!

Q I just read the Evil Genius trilogy, and I have two of the three books at home. (The third will have to wait until it comes out in paperback, or it won’t fit in and might feel bad.) I really liked the books, even the somewhat depressing ending of the last one. I have to say though, for future reference, Americans don’t use the word “meant” in sentences like “you’re not meant to do that”. We’d say “supposed” instead. When the FBI agent used “meant” in that way it dragged me out of the book. Not much you can do about it now, but it’s good to know for the future. (I know, that’s random, but if I didn’t say it it’d bother me for weeks. It’s a character flaw.)

Posted by Connie, New York City

A Actually, I’m glad you told me that, Connie, because the book I’m writing now is set in New York (100 years in the future, though) so tips about American syntax are really useful. Thanks!

Q I figure I should start this off with a little about myself. I do read a fair amount, and plan on getting a degree in teaching for English/Literature over here in the States. I’m currently going through a large list of classics. Moving on, I’d like to say that I enjoyed the Evil Genius series very much, and I love how you executed the ending. Pointing in a direction but leaving it open for a few twists is very satisfying to see after reading so much. Sort of like a breath of fresh air. But you know all that – you wrote the books after all. I suppose I should get to my main point now. I was going to ask for any input on what you think are good steps to getting work published? I apologize if you already answered this question, but I couldn’t find it on the more recent pages and just decided a message here would be simpler (for me, that is). I already have a large notebook full of ideas (I had a goal to get a minimum of 32 short story ideas together before I give publishing any thought) and as I am nearing that number, I realized I don’t have a clue on where to start! So just a few little pointers on where to look would be very appreciated. As an after thought, are you going to making any appearances here in the states? I just thought it would be interesting to meet you, and perhaps get you to sign the Evil Genius trilogy. I found a copy of Genius Squad in a used bookstore, which had your signature in it. I can’t verify if it’s legitimate, but it’s nice to think so. And, sorry for adding on so much, but I’d just like to say how I found it interesting that the Hunger Games series got a movie contract (so I hear) while Evil Genius has not. I truly hope you get one eventually.

Posted by Mr. Seeker, Maryland

A I’m delighted that you like the ending to the Genius series, because a lot of people don’t seem to! (I think that they prefer to have everything nailed down, rather than left a little bit ‘open’.) On the subject of getting published, I’m not sure if I’m reading this right, but I got the impression from your message that you’ve written down 32 short-story ideas, rather than 32 short stories. If that’s true, then the first step is certainly to write those stories, because ideas alone won’t get you anywhere until you’re a big name in publishing – and probably not even then! (In these tough times, a publisher is rarely going to sign up even a well-respected author on the strength of an idea, or even a detailed synopsis.) When you’re starting out, you have to have a finished product.

Q I really love the Pagan Chronicles, it’s one of my favourite books of all time! I was reading Pagan’s Crusade again when Pagan talks to Saladin and Saladin says that Pagan looks familiar – is there any background story to this?

I would like to say that the Pagan books are absolutely incredible. The way you wrote the characters are so life-like and I can really relate to Pagan even though the story is set so long ago. Pagan is a strong, loving character but flawed which makes him so human. I first stumbled across Pagan’s Crusade when I started intermediate (I was 11 years old) and I immediately fell in love with the wittiness, freshness and absolutely riveting story about the life of Pagan and Roland. I’m 21 now (how time flies!) but I still pick up Pagan when I’m looking for a good read. Anyway I don’t want to bore you by writing too much but I really believe Pagan helped me through a lot of tough times in my life, just by being who he is. Especially his strength and belief in himself gave me courage when I felt so different and alone when I was made aware that I’m not like everyone else- my family and I immigrated to NZ when I was young. He also helped me resist peer pressure and realise that acting dumb to be part of the ‘cool group’ wasn’t being true to myself. So for bringing Pagan into my life, I want to say thank you.

Posted by Jinnie, New Zealand

Well, Jinnie, you couldn’t have thanked me more effectively than by telling me that Pagan helped you to cope with life. As I’ve said before on this message board, the idea that my work has actually done some good in the world makes me feel that I’ve made a difference, however small, and that I’m not a dead weight on society. (I often feel like a dead weight when I look at my friends, many of whom are doctors and social workers and ambulance drivers and so forth – really useful people!) So thanks again; you’ve just given me as much support as I might have given you.

And to answer your question about Saladin – my original idea was to make Pagan the illegitimate son of one of Saladin’s courtiers, but I found that I couldn’t really swing it after I sent Pagan and Roland off to France. So I had to scrap that plotline, unfortunately. (It’s aroused quite a lot of interest, over the years.)


Monday, February 21

Q I have been a major fan of yours and was wondering if I could send a letter to you explaining more about how you inspired me to write books. I would greatly appreciate, if you would please e-mail me your address because I am doing a letter for my English class. Thank you for your time.

Posted by James, Valley Springs

A I’m afraid it might be a bit too late for this, James – sorry about the delay in replying. The fact is, I don’t give out my address to the general public, just to be on the safe side. I’m not saying you’re unsafe, but it’s a rule I follow. However, if it’s still not too late to send a letter, you can either send it to my publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 222 Berkeley Street, Boston MA 02116) or my agent (Margaret Connolly, PO Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW, 2076 AUSTRALIA) and they will forward it on to me.

Q I just listened to all three of your ‘Genius’ series of books. I liked them quite a lot, but I’m rather perplexed by your reasoning for making Proper English not Cadel’s father. One of the best things about the series is the relationship between Cadel and Prosper and the conflict between the two. Prosper being Cadel’s father added all sorts of nuances to their relationship and both their characters. I especially loved the ambiguity of whether Prosper was capable of actually caring about Cadel. Taking their familial relationship away didn’t seem to add anything at all to their dynamic. What was your reasoning for making a very minor character like Chester Cramp Cadel’s father? I’d love to hear your thought processes about that decision.

Posted by Kasey, West Portsmouth, Ohio

A There were two reasons. One was that I needed a twist at the end of the second book comparable to the twist at the end of the first – so that was the structural reason. More importantly, however, I needed to put Cadel firmly on the path away from the dark side. And that was much more easily done without Prosper’s actual genes dragging him back the other way. Nurture was bad enough, but nature would have been to hard to shrug off. It’s almost impossible to renounce your father, no matter how much you might abhor him. I just didn’t want Cadel to bear that burden.

Q First off, let me say that I am a huge fan of the Evil Genius series. I’ve read the first two numerous times and just finished the third. Your writing style is genius as well as your obvious knowledge of computer jargon. I was a little disappointed at the end of Genius Wars however to discover that there was no ending. At first I thought I must be missing pages, I was so shocked. I searched the Internet vainly hoping that I was incorrect remembering having read that this was the “thrilling conclusion” to the trilogy. I ask, as a humble fan, will we ever see peace for Cadel? Or is this really the end? Where’s the denoument? I don’t know how many people have finished the book, but you might have an uprising on your hands. If I am missing something, I would like to be enlightened. Thank you!!

Posted by Jasmin, Orem

A There does seem to be a bit of an ‘uprising’, and I think it’s all to do with Prosper. Sometimes I feel a bit like Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes – people don’t want Prosper dead. They want him alive again. But how could Cadel ever get on with his life in the sun if Prosper was hanging darkly around his neck like the Ancient Mariner’s albatross? Prosper had to go. For Cadel’s sake. And I didn’t deliver up the corpse because (a) this was a teen novel and (b) Prosper deserves a little more dignity and mystery, I think.

Q You may not remember me, but I was telling you awhile ago I not only adore your books in the Genius series, but was also looking forward to reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Well it took me a little bit of time to get at it, but I finally read it. It was VERY good! Fun yet intriguing, and I was so happy I read it. thanks for writing such a cool book!

Posted by Riley, California

A Of course I remember you, Riley! How could I forget one of my regulars? And I’m so glad you enjoyed RVSG. There’s a sequel coming out soon, so with any luck you’ll enjoy that as well.

Q Generic “more Pagan please” message.

Posted by Greg, London

A Generic “maybe one day, but don’t hold your breath” reply! (Nevertheless, it’s nice to know you’re still hanging in there, Greg.)

Q I’ve written to you before, and I’m not sure if you recall it. In fact, I bet you’re quite irritated with me. However, as a fan that was obsessed for months after reading the Evil Genius trilogy, I do have one or two questions. The first is if Prosper is dead, which I believe he is, but of course I doubt you’d answer that. So I’ve come armed with another question: is there a reason the last book didn’t include Prosper’s reaction to Cadel’s “death” (after Cadel hacks into the hospital files, after the bus, just before… Eh. You know what I mean)? I know the book’s not in Prosper’s point of view, but it would have been nice to know. I suppose you might have just left that out on purpose, to leave more of a mystery at the end. If you don’t want to answer, it’s okay – the fanfiction I’ve written will become my own law. Nonetheless, thank you for writing them. They were amazing. I’ve said this before.

Posted by Gwid, Queensland

A To be honest, it’s up to the reader to decide whether Prosper’s dead or not. I think he is. (See my answer to Jasmin, above.) That doesn’t mean he can’t live on, though – I’ve given everyone that ‘out’ if they’d prefer to think otherwise. Seriously, just because I’ve washed my hands of these books doesn’t mean someone else can’t pick them up and run with them because the Genius world is still alive and vital in that reader’s mind. As you said, ‘the fanfiction I’ve written will become my own law’.

As far as Prosper’s reaction goes, these books are written from Cadel’s point of view, and there was so much happening in that last section where Prosper and Cadel discuss what’s been going on that I couldn’t cram in Prosper’s reaction as well. But the thing is, I don’t think Prosper would really have believed that Cadel was dead. One thing Prosper never did was underestimate Cadel, and I think he’d have been quite sure that Cadel was equal to almost anything that he, Prosper, could throw at him. In fact that’s why Prosper was so attached to Cadel – because Cadel was the ultimate winner. Only superhuman abilities would have won Prosper’s respect.

By the end of the trilogy, Prosper had this kind of mad love-hate thing going on with Cadel, and was getting so close to the edge that he probably wouldn’t have been able to imagine a world without Cadel. So he never would have grieved over the ‘death’ because he would have assumed it was a trick. That’s my take on the whole issue, anyhow.


Tuesday, February 1

Q I sent you a previous message and you replied so I am just sending this to say OK I know what you mean and I suppose it’s not that there isnt another book that bothers me it’s that I don’t know if Prosper is dead or alive. And while we are on the subject WHY DID YOU MAKE CHESTER CRAMP CADEL’S DAD? Cadel’s life was soooo much more interesting when we thought Prosper was his dad. So just writing to say I see your point about another book.

Posted by Rachel, Perth

A I made Chester Cramp Cadel’s dad to (a) make it a little easier for Cadel to reject Prosper emotionally and (b) to add an extra twist to the end of Genius Squad!

Q I LUV The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Anyways,I wanted to know, if Horace is already a vampire, then whenever Sanford snaps at him, Horace says, “Bite me,Sanford,”?? P.S. love your book!

Posted by Eleanor, Killeen, Texas

A Are you asking me why Horace says “Bite me?” when he’s already a vampire? I guess it was meant to be a joke – I’ve heard or read of people saying ‘bite me’ as I kind of retort and I thought it would be even funnier if a vampire said it to another vampire. That’s all!


Tuesday, January 18

Q I read Babylonne then went back and read all the Pagan Chronicles. Now I really want to know what happened after the chronicles ended for Pagan and Isadore? How did Pagan get his daugher? It must be an interesting love story? Will you write this book and fill in the gaps for us? I really enjoyed all the books. I especially enjoyed Pagan’s wit and humor in the books. So many books lack this kind of comic relief. Even with the wonderful humor the stories are historically accurate and serious in telling the stories of the times, which were not at all funny. Great work. By the way, I am a school librarian and read a lot of books.

Posted by Donna, Greensburg, Indiana

A Well, Donna, I kind of summed up that romance in Babylonne – Isadore gave Babylonne a short version of the story, so I’m not sure I could write a whole book about it, especially since readers now know that the story ended very, very badly. Also, I don’t know if all that extra-marital activity would be suitable for a young adult book. But I’m certainly glad you liked it enough to want more! Especially since you’re obviously extremely well read in my area of expertise …

Q I was wondering if you would ever have these books turned into movies? P.S. Big Fan of the books.

Posted by Kyle, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A I’ve got to admit, if anyone wanted to make ANY of my books into movies, I’d jump at the chance. But so far, no one’s stepped up with the money required!

Q I love your books I’ve read the Genius series and loved them. The first book I ever read of yours was Genius Squad, then Evil Genius. I am currently reading the Pagan books (Pagan in Exile at the moment). I want to write my own book but I can’t think of anything. I have been reading since I was 2 and a half (before my sister, who is two years older than me). But the point here is, How did you start? Do you write or type your books? And what do you do when you can’t think of anything. I can think of large story-lines but can’t put them into words. Anywho, love your books just wish there was more Genius books.

Posted by Scott, Darwin, Northern Territory

A Okay – first of all, I type my books straight onto my computer. But before I do that, I make pages and pages of notes (by hand) and type up a synopsis, or plan, of what I’m going to write. And when I’m making the plan, I listen to a lot of music to help me imagine various scenes and people.

However, the most important thing that happens before I start a book is that I get an idea. If you’re already getting ideas, then I suggest to jot them down and start putting the ideas together roughly before even thinking of starting chapter one. You should have everything in your head, or on the page in the form of notes, before you start writing the actual text. That way you’ll find that the story has enough impetus to get you off the starting block.

Q I just reread Evil Genius (I don’t have the other 2 books yet, unfortunately) and I’ve been ripping my hair out over what Sonja’s last email to Cadel translates to. Do you think you could clue me in or am I going to have to keep guessing? Oh and I love your books :) Keep writing!

Posted by John, Houston, Texas

A I have something very, very shameful to admit, John. I can’t remember. That’s right – I can’t remember what that message means. And decoding it would mean dragging out my elements chart and spending ages dickering over it and it’s the school holidays in Australia and I’m a mother with piles of things to do so I’m going to be ABSOLUTELY AWFUL and ask you to see if someone’s translated the answer on WikiAnswers or something – I’m pretty sure I saw a discussion about it somewhere like that. So sorry – you take time to write and I can’t answer properly! Thanks very much for your message, though. (Incidentally, I seem to recall the message wasn’t terribly important – just a kind of loving sign-off, I think.)


Sunday, January 9

Q You may not remember me, so, as a refresher I will tell you what I last wrote to you. I asked if Cadel would fall in love in his life (and I was very excitedly happy about the answer.) What I wanted to tell you in this message was that I appreciate your books so very much. I have still only read Evil Genius and Genius Squad (I’m getting The Genius Wars for Christmas), but they have made such an impact on my life. Reading your books really contributed to my love of reading and writing. You are definitely one of my most favorite authors. I hope that one day I will be able to lure people into my books, evoke emotions from my readers, or make them fall in love with the main character just as easily as you seem to. It is my dream to become a very successful author when I am older. Please continue writing amazing books, such as the Genius series.

Posted by Jessica, Modesto

A Sorry about the delay in replying! The Christmas season got in my way. You may actually have read The Genius Wars by now, Jessica, and I only hope you enjoyed it – some people seem to find the ending hard to take. I don’t blame them, mind you – I always get far more attached to other people’s characters than I do to my own, and often get traumatised when bad things happen to them. It’s different when you create the characters yourself, for some reason. I don’t know why.

Anyway, thanks again for your very kind message, which I probably don’t deserve after making you wait so long for a reply. But I really appreciate the way you’ve taken the time to write me a word of encouragement. It means a lot.

Q I was wondering if The Genius Wars was the last we will see of Cadel. To be honest, that was one of the least satisfying endings I have ever read, and I read fanfiction. Very little was wrapped up, and there is so much more that could be done. It was a brilliant ending, if there was a sequel to wrap it up. Cadel is too interesting to be left like that, and so is Prosper. Thank you so much for writing and gifting us with your stories, but we want more please. Its not finished yet. Please continue it. Sorry for the negativity, I just finished The Genius Wars so I am a little miffed.

Posted by Jared, Perth

A Oh dear, Jared. Well, the thing about a lot of my stories is that the people DO go on, because they’re fairly strongly realised, but not in a way that would fit into the same kind of book. I mean, Cadel couldn’t live a normal life with Prosper hanging over his shoulder all the time, so I had to get rid of Prosper. If I hadn’t, the whole thing would have gone on and on and on in the same old way. Now Cadel CAN live a normal life, of sorts (I mean, I don’t think he’s going to be stacking supermarket shelves, at least in the long term), but that wouldn’t be a story for one of the ‘Genius’ books. It would be something else. You see? But I’m sorry if you felt dissatisfied – that wasn’t my intention.

Q I think you should write another Evil Genius book. It can be all about how Cadel keeps seeing Prosper everywhere and nobody really knows whether he is dead or alive. It can end by turning out Prosper is still alive and is found in Mexico or something like that and he ends up in a Mental Institution and Cadel visits him sometimes. That would be a great book and a really good finish to the series.

Posted by Rachel, Perth

A I see what you mean, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t be too different from The Genius Wars – Prosper kept ‘popping up’ in that too and he ended up locked in his own private mental institution (if you know what I mean). I have a feeling it might be a bit repetitive. I’d certainly get rapped over the knuckles by critics if I didn’t do something a bit different. And to be honest, the whole thought of another ‘Genius’ book tires me out. They are SO HARD TO WRITE!

Q Did Proper English die in the end? Is there why he won’t be coming back for Cadel again? (Hence the end of the triology.) Did he drown? His interaction with Cadel was my favourite parts of the books, and it very frustrating not knowing.

Posted by Arissa, New York

A Personally, I think Prosper’s dead. But he’s such a powerful and beloved character, with such an ‘escape artist’ reputation, that I knew there had to be a bit of ambiguity – as there is when it comes to his relationship with Cadel. The ambiguity is what makes the relationship so fascinating.



Monday, December 20

Q I am reading your book Evil Genius and it just makes me feel like I am there when I am reading. The way you describe it makes me feel like I am there. Like whenever Cadel enters a room, like Hardware Heaven, I can just picture it so clearly. Also it when ever I read about someone being poisoned or dying or something along those lines it gives me a thrill just thinking about who is going to be next for the Institute’s fury. So far it has taken two of the teachers out and all of the first-year students except for Gazo and Cadel. When Cadel realized that his father was manipulating him I was so shocked that I had to put the book down and think about if there were any clues to prove it like Cadel said. After that I had to read and reread the chapter again just to make sure I didn’t imagine it. Then I just had to keep reading to see what happened next. I couldn’t stop reading it was just so good. One reason I like your book is because I think it is interesting how some of Cadel’s age is so smart. Also it is interesting that how there is a twist around every corner. For example when Cadel gave his homework to his teacher and how he was paralyzed basically because of it. Plus when you said that Gazo has a super power because of his stink I couldn’t help but laugh. When you come up with the names they are very interesting and keep me reading to learn more about them.

A few suggestions I have is that you put a little more action in the book. I mean the most action that has happened is when Cadel is running or something along those lines. Also you might want to put a few more characters in the book. Mostly because everyone that Cadel meets is somehow taken out. Plus you might want to describe the characters a little better because when ever you mention the Virus I have trouble picturing what he looks like. Also you may want to tell what the weather is like, for example when Terry or any other teacher or student it could rain. You may also want to try writing in first person because, in my opinion any way, it is much easier to connect to a character if we get everything from their point of view. Plus you might want to make it so like after so far in the book you might want to make it so Cadel’s real dad escapes from prison. It would probably add a lot more drama. You could also add a picture or something on the front of the book. I mean think about it, the title is catchy yes, but the way almost everyone picks out a book is by its cover. You may want to add more romance. I mean you have to be honest there are several girls out there that won’t even look at a book if it doesn’t have very much romance. You may want to also add more drama. Lots of people love drama. As for Cadel’s dad you might want to bring him in some more. Mostly because the entire time I was reading I was asking questions such as why is his dad in jail, or why is Thaddeus Roth so nice to him when the teachers aren’t. Also I don’t understand why everyone is being taken out. I mean so far the students and most of the teachers have been taken out of the picture one by one. Also why does Cadel keep miscalculating. I thought he was like the smartest person alive.

Posted by Grant, Fountain City

A Well, you’ve got a lot of suggestions there, Grant. I guess in response to the suggestion about the Virus, I would have to say that you’re not meant to know what the Virus looks like because he’s a master of disguise, with peculiarly unmemorable features. And I didn’t write the book in the first person because Cadel’s appearance is so important, and it’s hard to convey that when you’re writing first person. Also, I have very little say in what my covers look like – almost none at all. The publishers make that decision. And what you say about romance is true, but no matter how much publishers might want you to appeal to everyone, it’s practically impossible; so if I’d put too much romance in the Genius books, I would have put off my main readership demographic, which seems to be boys aged 11 to 16. I also mentioned why Phineas Darkkon was in gaol early on in the book (you might have missed it) and although Cadel is very bright, he’s certainly not the smartest person alive!

Q I am a huge fan of your Genius series. I am currently devouring The Genius Wars, but as I read I noticed that on page 311 of the hardcover 1st US edition, the Poptarts found in Rex Austin’s kitchen were raspberry and that Cadel used that same flavor Poptart to start a fire in a ploy to stop Prosper. However in the hardcover First US edition of Genius Squad the Poptarts were cherry- flavored. I’m hoping that this was an error in switching from Oxford to Webster’s English or something similar and that it will be resolved in future editions of the series. Sorry that I am such an OCD nitpicker.

Posted by Ian, Gallup, New Mexico

A To be honest, Ian, I think you might have picked up a continuity error – so well done! You ought to be a copyeditor or maybe a proof-reader, since those are the kinds of jobs where OCD nitpickers come into their own. (We possibly could have used someone a little OCD for the Genius edits!)

Q You are my favorite author, but I really want to know the answer to this question: What inspired you to write the Evil Genius series? I am obsessed with those books.

Posted by Drake, Greer

A I wrote Evil Genius because of an action figure my nephew used to have. It was called Professor Gangrene and when my husband saw it, he said “What I want to know is, where do these people get their degrees from?” Whereupon my brother said, “From the University of Evil, of course.” And that’s when the idea for the Axis Institute took root.


Sunday, November 14

Q I was just wondering if you had any specific notes on The Genius Wars because I’m doing my book review at school on it :) ? Certain things like what you enjoyed most, what wasn’t so enjoyable, or even if the research on the events was difficult? Also with Evil Genius, the day at school when Cadel shows up but no one else does, how did he manage that? And what made you decide for him to be doing things like stopping the train network with a bomb threat and doing other things like breaking into SCATS and making the traffic clog up? Thanks. Once again they are truly great books… XD

Posted by Ben, Geelong, Victoria

A Okay, let’s see now: I most enjoyed writing the scenes with Thaddeus/Prosper in them. Some of the plotting was really, really hard and not very enjoyable. The research into maths and computer-related subjects was very difficult for me, because I’m practically innumerate. I have to confess that I have no idea how Cadel managed to get everyone to stay away from school that day – my inventiveness failed me, though I suspect some kind of forged ‘note’ went home. As for all the system-related glitches that he engineered, I wanted to do that to show what an interest he had in very complicated systems, so that the reader could get an idea of how his weird little mind worked, and how clever he was.

Q Have been enjoying the Pagan Chronicles. The epilogue is tantalizing – it feels like a factual reference. Are these fictional characters or historical people and you’ve created stories for them? What is fact and what is fiction? I haven’t found an online source for that. I have ordered Babylonne to read. Will that explain? Thanks for your imagination.

Posted by Kari, Blue Island, USA

A The characters in that series tend to be weighted towards the fictional, though there are some real characters. Most of the nobility are real, in both Jerusalem and Languedoc, though I completely made up Roland’s family. (Bram never had a castle.) The monastery in Pagan’s Vows never existed, so I made everyone up there, but a lot of the people in Pagan’s Scribe were real – including the Viscount and pretty much everyone on the side of the ‘crusaders’. Most of the people in Babylonne are also real, except Babylonne herself. Even her family are in some of the historical records.

Q You’re kind of amazing.

Posted by Isaac, Los Angeles

A Well, thanks!

Q I just finished The Genius Wars, and it was great. The ending was perfect (though, I was nearly in tears). I’ve been a fan of the Genius series for a while, and was quite sad to see it end. So thanks for writing such a great book! I don’t have much of a question to ask. Though I’d like to say, your books are getting quite popular! When I first read Evil Genius there were only a few reviews (on Amazon… not sure about other sites) and now there are over thirty! And I saw The Reformed Vampire Support Group at Wal-Mart a few days ago (according to google, there are no Wal-Marts in Australia, so if you don’t know what it is… it’s just a big supermarket thing. Its book section is seriously lacking and only keeps the most popular). Anyway… I suppose this was a little useless to write. But again, I just wanted to thank you.

Posted by Madeline, West Virginia

A That’s great to hear about Wal-Mart, Madeline – thanks. As you say, we don’t have it here (just Kmart) but I do know what it is because they’re all over the place in Canada, where my husband’s family lives, so I’ve been to a fair number of Wal-Marts!

Q Well first of all, I would like to say that you are the best writer I have ever read from! And I have read the whole Twilight series (and the last two books twice), and nothing matches up to what I have read from you! I haven’t read any of your other books besides the Evil Genius series, but I am well looking forward to! You inspire everything I do, and when I come across a tough decision, I just think “Hmmmm… What would Cadel do?” and that has already made my life so much better! Even though I am only twelve, I hope that we could become good friends. If that were to happen, I would be the happiest girl in the world! I know I wanted to be and author before I discovered you, but your books are one of the reasons my life is worth living. You inspire me everyday, and I never go a minute without thinking of your unspeakably remarkable talent! It truly is such an honor just to be typing you this message!

I also wanted to say that because of you, I am writing my first book which I don’t know what to name. It is about… Well I don’t want anyone to steal the idea, so maybe you could contact me at my E-mail? The form had me put down my E-mail, but if you don’t know it just say the word! I would really like your opinion in which to title my book, which I hope will put in me in the Hall of Amazing Authors like you! Please take your time in answering me, I know how busy a successful author like you must be! I am very much looking forward to reading your other books! Sincerely, Ri P.S.S- I AM SO EXCITED TO BE TALKING TO MY ROLE MODEL! TOTALLY A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!!! ; )

Posted by Riley, Santa Clarita

A Goodness, Riley, this is all a bit overwhelming! Thank you so much for being so enthusiastic, though I don’t know if Cadel is always a great role model – he certainly doesn’t do enough exercise, for one thing, and he has a tendency to resort to rather nasty little booby-traps. I mean, you can’t exactly blame him for it, but he can be a tiny bit screwed up sometimes!

I make it a policy not to freely distribute my private e-mail address. I’m sorry, but it’s just something I’ve decided to put a limit on. If you really want to send me a private communication, you can do it care of my agent, Margaret Connolly, whose mailing address is P.O. Box 945 Wahroongah, NSW, 2076, Australia. I should tell you, though, that the chances of my being able to help you with a title are pretty slim; if I don’t think of a title when I’m still plotting a book – when it doesn’t leap into my mind like that – dreaming up a title is an endless, agonising process for me. I’m not naturally good at them. (I wish I was.) I’ve spent weeks racking my brain for some titles.

I’m so glad my work has inspired you. Knowing that makes me feel as if I’m doing something useful in the world, instead of just sitting hunched in front of a computer all day!


Sunday, October 31

Q Kay, this is maybe my fourth time writing, and I promise this will be my last. I just had a niggling annoyance … Were the poptarts raspberry or cherry? I swear they were cherry. My friend and I had been eating cherry poptarts since the publication of the 2nd book in the Genius trilogy, but I’m just curious, really. I will cry if I’ve been eating the wrong food.

Posted by A-too-often-writing-fan, North Carolina

A No idea! I think both fillings have equally combustible qualities.

Q I have written you a letter as a school project and my teacher wants me to mail it to you. Is there a mailing address where I might send this letter to you?

Posted by Daniel, Mechanicsville, Virginia

A Send it c/o Margaret Connolly, P.O. Box 945 Wahroonga NSW 2076 Australia.

Q I am so glad you responded to a comment I have left in 2009, I couldn’t believe it. I have just finished reading The Genius Wars. (The fastest I’ve ever read a book, page turner) . Once again, unbelievable. (1) How did you find out all these facts about virtual doubles and everything for the series? (If really not really facts and just fictional science, please assure me.) I have to say, even though it’s weird, even though you told a post from someone named Kyra from Utah that even ‘you’ believe Prosper is likely dead (99.9%), but have doubts since he’s still missing (which in a way sort of relieved me since Prosper is also one of my favorite characters), I can’t help but make doubts in my mind. To be honest in spite of his deeds I don’t want Prosper dead since there’s really a (seriously hidden) caring sad person inside him that loves Cadel and couldn’t bring himself to kill him. I still have my doubts because of Cadel’s facts, Prosper making it to shore, sharks being unlikely since there’s no blood, Wilfreda still out there (in the book), and Prosper has escaped so many shocking everyone with the impossible. Again body not found, and I’ve seen bad guys get shot point blank and still return. Also since these responses you’ve made seeming as if you’re not sure yourself seem to have a (To be continued ‘?’ ) vibe. The question of Cadel being right again with his facts or in denial drives me crazy. It’s too bad I read a post with you saying that there might not be a fourth, I’d love it to go on. P.S- When you reply, are we supposed to get an e-mail saying you did reply because I didn’t last time. I’d love it if you respond to all three topics.

Posted by Cienna, Northbridge, California

A No, I don’t send an email, Cienna, I just post – and I try to post at least once a week unless I’m away or undergoing surgery or something! As far as the virtual double technology goes, I got it all from Andrew Hellen, my friend the computer animator who’s also a character in the book, as you know. It’s not quite possible to do this stuff yet, but I bet you it soon will be. And with regards to Prosper being dead or not – you know, since he’s actually a fictional character, he can’t really be dead as long as people around the world are still visualising him – effectively, still bringing him to life in their imaginations. I’m serious. My character Roland (from the Pagan series) is dead, but he’s still alive to me because when I think of him, he appears in my mind, alive and well.

Q I never really liked to read before, but now I love it! I’ve had a pretty crappy home life and by reading I can escape into another world and at least feel like everything will be ok (even if it’s a false sense of hope). I absolutely love the Genius series I’m working on book 2 now :-) thank you so much for writing you’re amazing!

Posted by Megyn, Abingdon

A I’m really, really sorry to hear about your life at home, Megyn – that’s sad. And I know what you mean about escaping. Even though I had a good home life when I was young, I wasn’t entirely comfortable in the world, and used reading to escape too – though I also used writing. Creating and writing about your own imaginary world is even better than reading, because you control everything. Maybe that’s something you should think about. (And thanks so much for your kind praise; it means a lot to me.)

Q I really enjoyed reading Evil Genius, it was probably the best book I’ve ever read! I’m currently reading it for a second time, and I have a question: is there actually more than one Evil Genius book? I’ve seen people talk about there being a sequel and whatnot. Thanks, and again, I love your book.

Posted by Will, Baltimore

A Yes, Will, there are in fact two sequels to Evil Genius – Genius Squad and The Genius Wars. Happy reading!

Friday, October 22

Q I just wanted to say that I have been a huge fan of the Evil Genius series since junior high and have waited four years to read all three books. Thank you for putting Evil Genius into the world!!! I just finished reading The Genius Wars five minutes ago; I couldn’t ask any questions within the first five minutes of finishing because I was freaking out too much. I don’t know how to feel. Can I ask, how do you feel about the ending? In your mind, what happened definitely? I completely understand if you don’t want to answer or anything at all. Thank you for reading this! Also, I love your other books. The Pagan series and The Reformed Vampire Support Group are amazing. :) Thank you for putting Evil Genius and all of its amazing characters into the world!!

Posted by Chase, Los Angeles

A How do I feel about the ending? It was the only ending possible. Cadel could not have led a normal life with a certain person drifting around the world, so I had to be cruel to be kind. (Only not too cruel, because a dead body is too final.) Thanks for being so supportive, though – I really appreciate hearing from you!

Q I just finished reading The Genius Wars, and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!! I LOVED the ending. You are a really good author, and I almost wish there was another book in the Evil Genius series so I could find out about Cadel, how he does, and all that stuff. I live in the U.S. so I had to wait forever for The Genius Wars to come out, but it was definitely well worth the wait. This is definitely my favorite series ever!!!

Posted by Carlin, Texas

A You’re so kind, Carlin – thank you very much. It’s interesting that you live in Texas. You weren’t by any chance at the Austin Teen Book Fair, were you? Because I was there myself a few weeks ago and it would be cool if you turned out to be one of the people in the audience!

Q All of your books starting from Evil Genius to Genius Squad is awesome! It’s amazing how you put a demented genius mixed with a bunch of other stories together. I want to read The Genuis Wars but the problem is that it’s not out in Korea. I am a fan and I wish I could own a copy with your signature. Can you maybe send me a copy of The Genius Wars to me signed? I would love it and my friends I suggested to love it! They will be so jealous! I want to be an author and I want to send you my story so you can read it. Please, if you read this message reply quickly! PPS:I have a website I am working on to write about my personal life. Please see it! at

Posted by Pallas, Seoul, South Korea

A I’m very sorry, Pallas, but I only send copies of my books overseas for confirmed charitable purposes – partly because the postage costs so much and partly because if I send out one, I might get a hundred more requests and where would I draw the line? I have to draw it somewhere. I also like to keep my email address private, rather than having it posted all over the net, because privacy is a very precious thing nowadays. That’s why I’m not posting your full name and address, even though you gave it to me; you must try to be careful about things like that. But you can always reach me here as often as you like – and I’ll be sure to read your website.

Q Is there a book summary for the book The Reformed Vampire Support Group that I could use as a guide?

Posted by Joey, Pittsburgh

A Not that I can think of, Joey; you might find something helpful if you check out some of the Internet reviews (on various blogs or on Amazon) or I guess the blurb is a good starting point.


Monday, October 11

Q First of all, I could like to say that I absolutely ADORED the last addition to the ‘Genius’ series. It is kind of funny – I had been excited for the conclusion ever since I finished Genius Squad … and then I forgot the release date for The Genius Wars. I suppose I was so caught up with my life — it was not until I waltzed into the local Borders to buy some music that it dawned on me that The Genius Wars had come out. Haha, I don’t think I’ve read a book that fast in awhile. Since the last Harry Potter book, I suppose … But I am not really messaging you to talk about Genius Wars … (mainly because I know I’d accidentally spoil something in my questions). What I did come here to do is ask if there was any book that you could suggest I read of yours. I have read and enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and the Genius series. Any other books of yours will have to be purchased online since my bookstore obviously has a bad taste in books … BUT ANYWAYS. What do you suggest I read? xD

Posted by Sarah, North Carolina

A Thanks so much, Sarah! I wish I had a whole raft of books for you to read, but a lot of them haven’t been published in the States. One book that has is Living Hell, which is also available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s a science fiction story about a spaceship that becomes a living creature – but I know that a lot of people don’t like science fiction. If you don’t, then you could try my Pagan series – Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows, Pagan’s Scribe -which is a bit hard to find at the moment, though I know that a few bookshops in the U.S. still hold stock.

Q I absolutely LOVE the Pagan Chronicles so far and I’ve only read the first three. I’m actually really surprised that you take the time out of your day to reply and honestly that just makes my day. So my question is are there any other Pagan books after Pagan’s Daughter?? Because if there aren’t I’ll just have to go back to Stephanie Meyers and J.K. Rowling (sigh.) Also, if you could give me some suggestions on other books similiar to the Pagan Chronicles, I’d be more than ecstatic, and you would officially be my favorite author in the world. =)

Posted by Ajha, Arlington

A You know what, Ajha? I’m probably not the best person to ask about other young-adult historical fiction, since I don’t read a whole lot of it. Your best bet is to go to your local library, or a good independent bookstore (preferably an independent children’s bookstore, like The Children’s Book Shop in Beecroft, Australia, or The Flying Pig in Vermont, U.S.A), where the librarian or bookseller will probably have a whole stack of recommendations. You could even email some of those shops, I’m sure. And I’m pretty convinced they’d give you better advice than I would!

Q OMG I was sooooo psyched when I checked the message board today and saw that you had responded!!!! But I totally understand that you were in America, I expected it would take a bit for you to respond to my message. But yes, yes, a thousand times yes, I want to know what happened to Prosper, because here’s the thing: the ending you wrote was perfect, but perfect only if prosper had died. If he hadn’t, it leaves… I dunno, SOMETHING wanting. So you see, if you could tell me if he DID die (or even just if its more than likely that he died) I would be satisfied, yet if he didn’t, I would just like to know if it would be in Prosper to some way still want to make contact with Cadel. Thank you, thank you a thousand times over for your response– I was having a truly bad day today, no joke, but this just turned it around– you are my favorite author ever!

Posted by Kyra, Utah

A Well, I’m so glad I improved your day, Kyra – that’s the sort of thing I love to hear; it makes my job truly worthwhile. And although I don’t particularly want to spoil the end of The Genius Wars for other people, I guess I’d better say … yes. I think Prosper died, though I’m only 99.9 per cent sure that he did. There’s still a tiny, niggling doubt in my mind, because his body didn’t show up …

Q I just finished The Genuis Wars and thought it was wonderful! Evil Genuis and Genuis Squad are some of my favorite books, and The Genuis Wars did not disappoint! I cried at the ending, and am hoping you’ll write a fourth one, but I know you said you probably wont. :) Cadel is such a great character, you are really an amazing writer. Thank you for writing such amazing books, and keep up the great work!

Posted by Mae, Massachusetts

A Thank you so much, Mae – it’s so kind of you to pat me on the back like this! I really appreciate hearing from you (especially since I was just recently in Boston).
Sunday, October 10

Q Hey! I just wanted to say I love the Evil Genius series and just finished The Genius Wars. I would also like to know, what happened to Alias? He is my favorite character and I missed him in The Genius Wars!

Posted by Clare

A I’m afraid I don’t know exactly what happened to Alias, though I very much suspect he fell on his feet, being such a wily fellow. Maybe he’s tutoring private students in the art of disguise, somewhere, under an assumed name …

Q First, I’d like to say that I’m quite impressed that you actually write back to all of these comments. You’re the only author that I know of who takes time to answer all of your fan mail. In response to an earlier answer you wrote me, no, I didn’t think The Genius Wars would be boring due to the cover. In fact, I rather liked the cover; sometimes simplicity is a good thing. I wasn’t intrigued by The Genius Wars at first because before now, I’ve never really read Sci-Fi. I’ve really always been more of a fantasy kind of girl, due to the fact that really good sci-fis for my age are hard to come by. The Genius Wars showed me that they are most definitely NOT non-existant. Anyways, I was wondering if you have friendships with other authors. Is there like a novelist book club? I’d once again like to compliment – no, extravigantly praise you, for The Genius Wars. Having just reread it, it is still the best book I’ve ever read. The form of the plot, the highly developed characters, the twists and turns, and the many times that I gasped and viciously read on, like a starving person at an all-you-can-eat buffet are just a few aspects of this amazing literary work. “Incredible” is not a high enough praise for it. Eagerly awaiting the chance to read Genius Squad!

One more thing, I was wondering about your method for developing your characters. Do you plan them out, or let them grow and blossom as you go along with the plot? Do you use a storyboard when laying out the plot, or allow it to unfold as you write? The characters in Evil Genius were marvelously complex. As Evil Genius is a novel that focuses a lot on the concepts of good and evil, you laid out the characters’ traits nicely. Prosper wasn’t purely evil, and Cadel most certainly wasn’t purely good. I think that the terms “good” and “evil” are somewhat soul-less. Those of us who are human aren’t either good or evil. We have both constantly battling inside of us. Everyone is both good and evil. The thing that classifies us is the one that dominates the outside of us. So even though some people choose to help “evil” win the battle, “good” is still inside of them. And they’re still human, so good can still shine through.Therefore, we can never classify anyone as “good” or “evil”, because nobody is either, and everyone is both.

Posted by Hailey, Delaware, Ohio

A Very true, Hailey – when I’m writing a ‘baddie’ in a book, I always make sure that their motive for ‘doing evil’ makes perfect sense, from a certain point of view, because people almost never set out to commit an evil act. Mostly they think they’re doing the right thing, or that the end justifies the means, or that they know better than other people.

To answer your question about other authors: as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a well-known novelists’ book club. But I am friends with various other authors, simply because they’re such nice people. I’m good friends with the Australian authors Ursula Dubosarsky and Phillip Gwynne, and with American authors Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. I’m also acquainted with quite a lot of other authors – Kate Jennings, Susan Johnson, Garth Nix, Melina Marchetta and Scott Westerfield, to name a few. But we don’t seem to have a formal club or anything like that.

As far as my writing technique goes, I’m very much a planner; I always write synopses before I start a book, and sometime these can be 20 or 30 pages long. I also think about my characters a lot before starting, though not necessarily the minor ones. (They’re more like cartoon characters, distinguished by a few, simple characteristics.) And despite all my planning, the characters themselves can sometimes take over a little as I write, developing so strongly in one direction that I have to rework the plot slightly.

Q I have been wanting to contact you ever since I finished reading The Genius Wars – which was two days ago, I am so psyched I found this message board! I would be so thrilled if you replied, but you must get loads of fan mail so its ok if you don’t. Anyway, I just have one burning question on my mind, and after reading the other messages, you told a girl named Ingrid you couldn’t answer it until The Genius Wars came out in America – which they have! So I’m hoping for an answer to my question, and here it is: Did Prosper survive? I have gone over and over in my mind the events of the boat crash, and have come to this conclusion on my own, but it is all based on the assumption he saved Cadel. (Oh, how could he NOT have saved Cadel? PLEASE tell me he did!) and I have deduced he could not have been eaten and sharks could not have gotten him, because sharks don’t go after prey unless they smell blood usually. But I wanted reassurance from you – because of course, the author is always the expert and veritable god of their creations! One more thing: you mentioned Prosper as “stir-crazy” from his confinement. Now if he survived, he’s out of confinement and presumed dead, which will probably give him some freedom for a little while. I have one last inquiry: do you think, if that situation came to pass, he would search out Cadel again? If only to say goodbye, or to tell him he saved him? I don’t know; the ending you wrote had me sobbing my eyes out,all of a sudden I couldn’t take it anymore: I KNEW, all along, Prosper really cared about Cadel! He raised him! He went after him! He was JEALOUS of SAUL, for heavens sake! I picked up your series as an after thought one day at Barnes and Noble. I read Evil Genius in three days, and Cadel and Thaddeus never left my mind for a day until two months of torturous waiting led me to the final, long awaited day of The Genius Wars’ release. I just wanted to say, you do me an honor by reading this message. And – thank you. Thank you for this series. I will never forget it.

Another question someone else asked, though I couldn’t find an answer to, was about the poptarts in Rex Austin’s pantry. Were they Rex’s, or were they Prosper’s? Or was the fact that they were cherry flavored just sort of a no-correllation-coincidence-type thing? Another Prosper-related question, (I’m one of the Prosper fans, very dedicated and proud of it) was in Genius Squad, Prosper mentioned in the car on the way to Judith’s plane that they would have to “rethink the second leg” of the journey. I couldn’t help wondering, what WAS Prosper planning to do with Cadel after the plane reached its destination? I realize that the answer might be in the book and that if it was I’d have to reread it closely to find out or something, but if it’s not, I’d really like to know. That’s all I have to say that I didn’t say before! Normally I don’t read books just because they were written by a particular author, but since (and it breaks my heart to know it) you won’t be writing any more Cadel/Prosper books, I might even pick up the Pagan books or the Reformed Vampire Rescued Group. Keep up the great work and awesome books, please!

Posted by Kyra, Utah

A What a wonderful message, Kyra, and I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner; I’ve been away in America, unable to attend to my website. As you say, I can now respond to that all-important question, because The Genius Wars is out in the States – but do you really, really want me to reply? Because I’ve got to tell you, while I’m fairly sure Prosper did do something to save Cadel, I’m not at all convinced that he was able to save himself. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the question up in the air?

To answer your other questions: the poptarts in the pantry weren’t Rex Austin’s – the house itself belonged to Judith, so they were hers. And when the plane landed, I’m fairlysure there would have been some kind of people-smuggling boat to meet it. (Mostly people are smuggled into Australia by boat, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do the opposite).

Q I would like to marry Cadel Piggot, with your blessing perhaps? Haha, kidding. But I really do love your Genius trilogy, they were all absolutely amazing reads. I was wondering if there is any merchandise available for the novels? Wall posters maybe?

Posted by Emma, Sydney

A I’m afraid there are no posters that I know of, and though the American publishers once produced some merchandising t-shirts, that was a long time ago. (I’m jealously holding onto mine!) My only advice is that maybe you should draw your own poster. Or you could keep an eye on the ‘Evil Genius books’ website that my American publishers runs – it once featured an ‘Evil Genius’ bag competition, so something like that might happen again (though I haven’t been notified of it).

Maybe I should scrape together some of the postcards and badges and things that have come my way over the years and set up my own competition!

Q I was just wondering who does the illustrations in most of your books, like Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group? Or is it you that illustrated them both? Thanks.

Posted by Nik

A The guy responsible for the illustrations on my Genius, Reformed Vampire Support Group and Allie’s Ghost Hunter books is an Australian artist called Hrath McKenzie. He’s good, isn’t he?

Q I just finished reading your Genius series, and I can’t tell how much I love it. I personally like computers and stuff, but in the end it wasn’t the “hacking” that caught me. My favorite character was Prosper English, though he was a criminal and did many awful things, he still loved Cadel in a way no one else understood, and Cadel also kind of loved him. Their love-hate realationship was just very emotional and sad (damn, I can’t put it into words in English!) I couldn’t believe that it should have ended this way. Cadel’s words at the end of The Genius Wars brought tears to my eyes, and it takes a lot for a book to make me cry. Are you going to write anything similar to these books? I can’t get it out of my head! Maybe I’m going to read the series again, in English. I apologise for any mistakes – as you can see, I’m from Germany =)

Posted by Sabrina, Cologne, Germany

A Please don’t apologise for your English when I can’t (shamefully) either speak or write a word of German! I’m hugely impressed that you managed to post such a nice message on this English-speaking website at all – and thank you very much for taking the time. It’s not often that I receive a message from Germany, and this one was particularly heart-warming.

Q I’ve written in here once before to offer my embarrassingly adulatory praise for your writing, but this time I have some more serious questions to ask. I’m doing a pre-International Baccalaureate course at school, and for my history class’s next assessment we’re to write an investigation on a topic that we’re really passionate about inspired by a source. Since I read Pagan’s Daughter for the first time in 2007 I’ve had a huge interest in the curusades and especially the history of the Cathars, and I’m interested in looking at the Albigensian Crusade for the investigation through the Pagan Chronicles’ representation of Cathars. Unfortunately though it seems to be a pretty obscure topic and sources are scarce, and so I wondered if you could give me some background on the historical content of the series. Were Babylonne and the other Cathar characters (throughout the series, not just Pagan’s Daughter) real people and if so what happened to them? Where did you find your sources on their theology and history – do you have any suggestions for books/documentaries/artworks/general documents I could use to assist my investigation? I really appreciate it, and thanks again for your wonderful historical fiction!

Posted by History Student, Brisbane

A A lot of the Cathar characters in the Pagan series were, in fact, real people, though some of them weren’t. And the little we do know about them tends to be derived from the inquisitorial records of the time. Therefore Henry Charles Lea’s famous work A History of the Inquisition is an important source, as is Joseph’s Strayer’s The Albigensian Crusades and Micahel Costen’s The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade. Any book on the Albigensian Crusade would prove useful; you might even find something in the spin-off stuff from The Da Vinci Code. And Wakefield & Evans’ book Heresies of the High Middle Ages is a terrific collection of original theological sources. But I have to admit, some of the material I picked up about Babylonne’s family (most of whom were real people) came from quite obscure sources, like translations of chronicles by former university lectures for course texts.

Friday, September 17

Q I loved your book (The Reformed Vampire Support Group). I was hoping if you had a movie deal on the book, if so I would love to see it.

Posted by Tim, Groves

A Well, Tim, there’s a Hollywood producer trying to get a studio interested in Evil Genius at the moment, but no one’s paid much attention to The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Don’t worry, though – if anyone ever decides to make a film out of it, I’ll post the good news on this website as soon as I can!

Q I’m a Children’s Librarian and I’ve read several of your books. I just finished listening to Genius Squad and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I really like your characters and admire your portrayal of Sonia and Cadel’s relationship with her. All of your characters seem very real, never two dimensional or stereotypical. I look forward to buying more of your books for the library!

Posted by Sandy, Coventry, Connecticut

A Thanks so much, Sandy! I guess I’d better alert you to the fact that the sequel to Genius Squad, The Genius Wars, will be hitting bookshops in the U.S. next week – and I’ll be on the east coast promoting it! Check out my ‘Upcoming Events’ page for the dates and places: unfortunately, I won’t be in Conneticut, though I will be in Boston, New York and Burlington, Vermont.

Wednesday, September 1

Q I have just finished Pagan’s Exile, and I was floored by the depth of emotion that you packed into this novel. I can see a common theme with the Genius books: how difficult it is for a young person trapped in a world where adults are behaving very, very badly. Pagan’s Exile was breathtaking. Congratulations on creating such a powerful and believable historical fiction.

Posted by Clyde, Irvine, California

A I guess you must mean Pagan in Exile, Clyde? (It’s confusing, I know.) But whatever book you meant, I’m so very glad you liked it. I’m also very pleased that you moved from the Genius series to the Pagan series; usually it’s the other way round, and I don’t think a lot of Genius readers have even heard of Pagan!

Nice to know someone else jumps from historical to sci-fi and back, the way I do.


Tuesday, August 30

Q I’m so sorry to bother you again but I’ve started re-reading the Pagan Chronicles (enjoying it *immensely*!) and I was wondering why Roland never learned to read, even after he joined the monastery? Pagan mentions it to Isidore in Pagan’s Scribe and seemed really surprised. Thank you!

Posted by Joanna, Perth

A I guess I never thought that Roland had a very bookish or academic kind of brain, and in those days, when reading wasn’t taught with as much sensitivity as it is now … well, let’s just say that having missed out as a child, Roland would have had a hard time mastering the skill as an adult – especially if he was dyslexic, or something. (There were lots of lay brothers in monasteries who never learned to read.)

Q You simply cannot imagine my delight when I discovered I could contact you here on the young adult forum! I’m a 24-year-old PhD student of Criminology, and have been an avid fan of your work ever since my mother brought home Pagans Crusade when I was about 15. The entire ‘Pagan’ series went on to delight me to no end, and continues to do so whenever I prise them from my bookshelf for some lazy fireside (or hammock-side!) reading. My two other all-time favourites are Eye to Eye (an absolute joy) and Piggy in the Middle, and I have a question regarding the latter. I was completely drawn in by the characters, especially Felix and Dallas, but I finished the book feeling like I wanted to uncover more, that there were unearthed secrets still waiting to be told. Did you ever intend for a sequel? Or was the slightly inconclusive ending designed to contribute to the realism/plausibility of the story? Please accept my gushing praise of your work, Catherine!! Your writing has brought me an unprecedented amount of happiness, and I truly hope my (future/possible/one-day) kiddies will experience the same. In fact I’ve collected your entire repertoire of YA books for that very reason. :)

Posted by Felicity, Cockatoo,Victoria

A Wow! A criminology PhD! Now that’s exciting! (Are you planning to write your own detective novels one day? I hope so.) I must say I’m interested in what kind of jobs you get channelled towards with a criminology PhD – police? Probation officer? Correctional centre administration? Corrective services policy?

I would have thought the background reading for that kind of degree would be a hundred times better than my humble backlist, but – hey! I’m so glad you’re still enjoying those books (several of which are out of print). And to answer your question about Piggy in the Middle: no, I was never planning a sequel to that. Not that I ever plan a sequel to any of my books when I first start writing them, but in that case it never even crossed my mind.


Friday, August 20

Q I am a big fan of your books. I love reading the Evil Genius series. I love writing and am having a bit of a problem getting published since I am only sixteen years old. Do you have any advice for me?? Thanks!!!!

Posted by Krea, Battle Ground

A I’m not surprised you’re having a bit of a problem getting published, Krea – everyone’s having a bit of a problem nowadays, because books sales are way down and publishers are tightening their belts.Many of them don’t take unsolicited manuscripts any more and literary agents are just as swamped: my own agent gets as many as 20 unsolicited e-mailed manuscripts a week. And though it’s not unheard-of for people as young as you to get published by an actual publisher, it’s very, very unusual.

If I were you, I’d google ‘teen writing’ and perhas ‘magazine’ or ‘competition’ and see what comes up that’s local to you. There seem to be a fair number of online and print journals that publish writing by young people, plus a few newspaper competitions etc. Even if you’re a novelist rather than a short story writer, you may be able to send in a chapter or two that’s worth printing. And a long list of journal credits – or even a well-read, well-written blog – is good to have under your belt when you’re trying to impress a publisher.


Friday, August 6

Q Hey I love your books. I like writing fictional stories and would like to do something on a larger scale. That needs more planning than I am doing now . How do you plan your books? Thank you!

Posted by Kate, Batesville

A I plan my books by spending quite a lot of time up front just sitting and thinking and taking notes. Sometimes I have to do research, and when that happens I take a lot of notes – pages and pages. I also listen to a lot of music, because it helps me to visualise various characters and scenes while I’m plotting my story. Do you know what a synopsis is? It’s a summary of a book, and it can be short or long: my synopses are usually very, very long – up to 30 pages – and contain the entire structure of the book that I’m planning to write, including some of the most important conversations. Basically, I know exactly where I’m going before I write chapter one – and even if the book veers a little off course while I’m writing it, I never stray too far from my chosen path because I’ve worked it out already.

I do this to prevent writer’s block – and it works. Careful planning and a good choice of theme music mean that I never, ever get writer’s block.

Q I finished The Reformed Vampire Support Group about a month ago, and I loved it. I clicked with Nina instantly. She reminds me so much of a person I once knew. The character, all the way down to her aches and pains and bleak outlook are nearly identical to my friend. It was like a reunion of sorts. I fell in love with Nina’s sharp wit and quiet character. It makes me feel like a young adult again! My question is this: Any plans for another RVSG? I crave this Meyer-antithesis like Nina craves a squigglywiggly furry guinea pig in the upstairs bathroom!

Posted by James, Ontario, Canada

A As a matter of fact, I’m currently editing the RVSG sequel, which is called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. I have to warn you, though, that it’s not written from Nina’s point of view; the narrator is a boy called Toby, and Reuben plays a bigger part in it than Nina does. However, I’m quite proud of Toby – I think he’s a very realistic, likeable kind of kid – so with any luck he’ll appeal to you as much as Nina did. I sure hope so.

I’m not absolutely sure when the book’s going to be available in the United States, but I think the publication date is somewhere around Spring 2011.

Q I just finished reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group and I love it. It was a change from most supernatural books and it was a pleasent suprise for me. I loved reading it and enjoyed the story very much, it made me laugh so much. My favorite part had to be after Dermid had let go of the gun and Nefley, and they finally found out that the gun wasn’t loaded then Nina yelled her head off at Nelfley. I’ve got to admit that was funny. The thing I like most about this book was the ending. I read a lot of books and sometimes the endings suck because the author just stops in the middle of a part and doesn’t say anything else about it. I really like the way you ended this book because it gave me a sense of true ending.

Posted by Reem, Indianapolis, Indiana

A I’m so glad you enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Reem – and I especially appreciate your comments about the ending! Endings are actually quite hard to write (almost as hard as beginnings) so it’s good to know I pulled it off on this occasion. I also found it interesting that you appreciated the humour so much, because I’ve come to realise that people only enjoy that book if they’re on the same comedy wavelength. People who don’t have my sense of humour just can’t seem to ‘get it’ at all. But obviously you and I find the same things funny!


Monday, July 26

Q I just wanted to say a big (and belated!) thank you for continuing the Pagan series with Pagan’s Daughter. I read the first four books many years ago when I was in school and kind of lost touch with them, and YA fiction in general, over time. But it all came rushing back when I noticed that my local library had a copy of a new Pagan book in the series. It was wonderful to pick it up and be re-immersed in the series and I was really surprised at how much I remembered of the series! :) I’m sure that’s due to your excellent writing which is so vivid and compelling. The first three books are probably my favourites but also I really like how you’ve continued the series with new characters. Isidore and Babylonne are both so interesting and I really hope we’ll see as much of their adventures as we did of Pagan’s and Roland’s. I’ve been inspired to track down copies of the earlier books to buy so I can go back and re-read them. Thanks again for a wonderful series!

Posted by Joanna, Perth

A I’m so glad you’re keeping up with that series, Joanna – even though it does make me feel incredibly ancient, when grown men and women announce that they started the series when they were at school! (Contrary to popular belief, writing children’s literature doesn’t keep you feeling young at all.) A lot of Pagan fans seemed hugely disappointed that Pagan himself wasn’t in Pagan’s Daughter (or Babylonne, as it’s called in the U.S.), so it’s a great relief that some people, at least, appreciate the way I’ve handled the transition. Thanks for such a welcome pat on the back!

Q I just finished The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and really enjoyed it. I’m a teacher, and appalled at some of the things that pass as literature there (Nina, you’re a hundred times better than that Meyers woman). Now I have something fun to suggest that is well written and uses my students brains.

Posted by Paige, Culloden

A Boy, do I love it when I reel in a teacher! Seriously, though, I’m very pleased by your comment about using students’ brains, because it reinforces the suspicion that’s been growing in me lately, thanks largely to messages like yours: the suspicion that my audience out there is chiefly composed of intelligent people who find intelligence attractive and interesting. I’ve always felt that way myself, so I guess it’s not surprising that my readers should feel the same, but now I’ve decided to embrace the fact that I’m queen of the geeks and glory in it, rather than worrying about appealing to a mass audience. Besides, geeks are taking over the world, now, and a good thing too!

Anyway, thanks so much for your vote of confidence.


Tuesday, July 13

Q I just wanted to tell you that I started with your Pagan series of books, then Babylonne, then Living Hell. The Pagan series was really good (I love anything crusades and a girl pretending to be a guy is beyond cool to me) and then I picked up Living Hell on a whim and it just slammed me how ingenious it all was!! I am a complete biology nerd (though my degree ended up being in Dental Hygiene) so that book had me riveted from the start. Intrigued, I chose Genius Squad next and it floored me too (though computers and mathematics are a little beyond me). I am anxiously waiting to get my hands on The Genius Wars now, but I wanted to tell you that you are now my new favorite author of all time. Haha. I am also convinced that you yourself should belong to a genius squad. :) I feel rather inspired after reading your books to do….I don’t know…something intelligent? You don’t meet too many books made with nerds in mind. Thank you so much for all your fantastic writing!!!

May I suggest that you shorten your response page and have it on different pages (with the first displaying a limited number of posts)? My computer can’t handle that many responses and I’d like to read them. :(

Posted by Courtney, Richmond, Virginia

A I’m going to start by apologising for my delay in replying; I’ve been on holidays for two weeks, with only fleeting access to the internet. So – sorry about that! And while I’m at it, I might as well apologise for the limitations of the website pages, which are completely beyond me because I’m practically computer illiterate (yes, I know; so much for belonging to a genius squad), but I’ll ask my poor husband to see what he can do. Finally, thanks so much for your high praise, which rather inspired me, because it’s true – I do write with nerds in mind! I’m the nerd queen, and I never even realised it! And I’m not ashamed of it, either; I find intelligence very interesting and attractive. Obviously you do too. I only wish there were more of us in the world.

Q I just have to say that I really liked The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It was a really great book that made me smile. The only thing that kinda bugged me was how Dave just like kisses Nina then it’s like pretty much the end. It left me sitting there like ….well, I guess they live happily ever after then… But it just didn’t seem like it was enough to finish off the story. Still, it was like a really great book.

Posted by Lottie, Orlando, Florida

A I’m so glad my book made you smile, Lottie. That’s just what it’s meant to do, and the people who don’t like it invariably don’t find it funny. I guess the comedy aspect is one reason why I didn’t dig deeper into the romance, because combining the two is very, very hard. (Not impossible; just much harder than most people realise, I think.) Also, I’ve read a lot of Victorian novels, and Victorian novels always end on the kiss – exactly where most modern novels start!

But thanks so much for sending me such a kind message, even though I did leave you hanging. It shows a surprisingly rare spirit of generosity.

Q The main reason I am contacting you this time (yes, I’ve done it before) is because I realised that last time, I didn’t impose how great I thought your style of writing was. Yes; this is one of THOSE messages. You are one of the best authors I’ve ever read, second only to… Hm. No-one. Okay, so you ARE the best author I’ve ever read. What really struck me was your Genius trilogy; it was… quite awesome? More than ‘awesome’, but… still, awesome. I absolutely love your style of writing and often enough I’ve walked into bookshops and bought your books without knowing what they’re about, because I can trust that you wouldn’t write anything stupid. Your writing amazes, intrigues, inspires, and involves me; so, congratulations, since only one other author has done that before, and not nearly as well. Have a nice day, week, year, decade, century, and if you live past a century, millennium?

Posted by Gwid

A Gosh, Gwid, I’m really not that good. Second only to no one? I can’t agree. But I’m really, really grateful that you should think so, because there are lots of people out there who don’t share your opinion, unfortunately! And it’s nice to know that my style has an appreciative audience. I work very hard on my style, you see.

You too have a nice day, week, year, decade, century and millenium!


Friday, June 18

Q I just want to say how great Evil Genius and Genius Wars are. (I am yet to read Genius Squad). I normally despise all reading and just literacy in general but your book has left me hooked with all the twists and logic to it all. The fact that it involves a child/teenager that has a gift for programming and computers keeps me thrilled because I feel I can relate to that. So once again THANK YOU for your brilliant work. (I am shattered there isn’t going to be another novel though :( )

Posted by Ben, Geelong, Victoria

A Thanks, Ben; appealing to people who don’t normally read is what most authors dream of doing, so I’m glad I seem to have done it in your case. I have to admit, I don’t have a computer-whiz mind myself, but I admire people who do, and very much enjoy their company; maybe that’s why my books have appealed to you so much!

Q Hello again. I just got a copy of The Genius Wars from a friend (it was an ebook). I’ve only read a couple of chapters, but I’ve decided to wait until the actual book comes out in October! It’s just not the same as reading an actual book. I just want to tell you though about how much I missed your characters especially Cadel. When I started reading the first chapter I kept swaying back and forth in the seat with excitement. Also I’ve read in some other post that you might be visiting ny in October; if you are I’ll definitely be there! Also I don’t know if were allowed to post links to other websites because my last post was deleted, but I have another drawing of Cadel here. I just hope it was better than my last drawing (which I looked at today and realized how horrible it was!)

Posted by Elisha, New York

A I have to say, I’m really interested in the fact that you didn’t like reading the ebook – even though you’re a young person! It kind of makes me wonder why so many people are saying that old-fashioned paper books are on their way out. And your last drawing wasn’t horrible, Elisha, though I have to say this one’s awfully good. As for my visit in October, I was very much hoping to run into you; I’m not sure where I’ll be just yet (not having been given a schedule), but as soon as I do know, I’ll post it on ‘News’ and ‘Upcoming Events’ and you’ll know where to be at what time. So stay tuned!

Q Your books are wonderful. I like the Genius series a lot, but when is The Genius Wars going to be in New Zealand?

Posted by Tony, New Zealand

A Gosh, Tony, isn’t it available there? It should be; generally Australian and New Zealand editions are published at the same time – often by the same people. Maybe it’s just that the book hasn’t been put on shelves in a lot of places over there. Have you tried to order a copy from your local bookshop? I’d be very, very surprised if you can’t. If you’re having trouble, however, just post another message and I’ll check with my publishers in Melbourne to find out what’s happened.

I’m glad you like the first two so much, though; thanks for telling me!


Tuesday, June 15

Q I’d like to know more about Joscelin too!

Posted by Greg, Leeds, UK

A Sorry, Greg – I wrote Pagan’s Vows so long ago that I’ve lost all my notes – so your guess is as good as mine!

Q My name’s Lauren and I’m eleven years old. I adore your books! I would like to be an author when I am older. I have some good ideas for books. Anyway my questions are: How do you think up characters’ looks and personalities? What types of books did you read when you were eleven or twelve? Horror (like me), fantasy (also like me)? Fairy books (NOT like me)? I’m doing a report about you for school and it’ll be AWESOME!

Posted by Lauren, Geelong, Victoria

A When I was your age, Lauren, I didn’t have anything like the choice that you have today; however, there were some children’s writers around, and my favourites were C.S. Lewis (the Narnia books), Patricia Wrightson (especially The Nargun and the Stars – I highly recommend that book) and Ivan Southall. I also liked Georgette Heyer romance novels and Mary Stewart’s books about Merlin – The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills.

As for how I think up my characters’ looks and personalities – well, that’s quite a complicated job, though if you’re looking for a way to do it I would advise that you listen to music. I often use music to visualise my characters; different kinds of songs, for instance, give me their different moods. While writing Pagan’s Daughter, for instance, I used to listen to Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and that gave me Isidore’s character perfectly.


Wednesday, June 2

Q Of course, considering the thousands of fan messages that you “try to reply to”, I don’t expect a reply anytime soon. So. Hi! I’m Ingrid, you can call me Gwid. First off, I’m a -really- big fan of yours, but then, anyone in the right mind would be, so I’m not going to ramble on about that. Secondly, I have read all of The Genius Trilogy (loved it) and The Reformed Vampire Support Group (No, I am not a fan of Twilight, like many others that post… The books were okay, but quite frankly, the movie was bad, and turned on way too many people who only like it because Robert Pattinson (who was better as Cedric) is ‘hot’)… I also plan to read your other two in young-adult-fiction, just as soon as they appear in my local bookstore. Oh, and, another thing about me – from my reading of young-adult-fiction, I bet you’ve already guessed this, but I’m a young-adult. Okay, I’ve finished rambling about how great you are, because, being you, you have to already know, from the rest of your fans… So, I do have some questions, but they’re probably going to annoy you. In fact, you’ve probably been asked them before, but I read through every page of information on your website and I couldn’t find any answers to them. So, here goes: 1. Did Prosper English survive (Please don’t just tell me to re-read to book and ask me what I think… Give me a “I don’t know, I’m not telling you,” if you’re not sure) 2. Will there be a sequel trilogy to The Genius trilogy? (Someone’s already asked you about a sequel book, but I thought I’d ask about a sequel series, because they were so awesome) 3. Do you plan on writing more young-adult fiction soon, or are you busy with other books? 4. Did you mind listening to my thoughts, which I’m sure are thought of mindless ramblings? 5. Did you know you’re awesome? Okay… I think those are all my questions. I do have a few more, but I think those are just going to annoy you, so I won’t put them in. So; Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (plus a few more, but then I’d take up your time reading them, when you could be writing) for writing. In general. Because you are really the best author I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I can now recite the last 2 chapters of The Genius Wars word-for-word, so I’m very thankful for that book. So, thanks so much (once again), and you’re a great author!

Posted by Ingrid, Australia

A Ingrid, I can’t answer your first question because The Genius Wars isn’t hitting the U.S. until September, and I don’t want to spoil it for everyone there. However I can answer question number two: no way! I’m too old and tired, and those books were so hard to write! The very thought of having to do another one makes me feel like having a cup of tea and a good lie down. (Sequels get more and more difficult, because you have to keep summing up the books that came beforehand in an elegant and unobtrusive way.) Question number three is easy: yes! I’m writing another young adult book right now. And number four is also easy: no, of course I don’t. Feel free to ramble – I’m a fast reader! As for number five – well, it’s very, very kind of you to say so, but I don’t think awesome is the word. Really; if you met me, you’d agree. And while I know I’m extremely good at my job, I wouldn’t claim to be writing deathless classics of enormous stature. I think I write very high-class entertainment (which is fine, of course, but not in the same league as … oh, I don’t know … discovering a vaccine against breast cancer, or something.) Thanks anyway, though; it’s lovely to receive messages like yours. Really bucks me up.

Q I am simply writing to you to alert you to the fact that I am a huge fan of your ‘Genius’ books. Your writing style is so elegant and sleek, I savour every phrase. I’m aware of the fact I probably sound like a stalker, but I am an aspiring author and I am slightly in awe of your phenomenal way of writing. I am fourteen and I just want to let you know what an inspiration you are to me and, I assume, countless other children.

Posted by Scandi, Hornsby, NSW

A Well, Scandi, I can pretty much tell that you’re an aspiring writer because of the elegant way in which you express yourself. Thank you so much. I have to admit, I put a lot of time and effort into perfecting my style – probably more than most people understand, because I’m trying to make it so ferociously readable that they don’t even realise how smooth it is – and it’s nice to know that someone’s actually noticed! Sometimes I think to myself, “Why bother making sure the vowel sounds aren’t too repetitive, and I don’t use ‘said’ too often, and I don’t end too many sentences in a row with words of the same syllable length …” Messages like yours encourage me not to let my standards slip!

Q I have to admit the first time I came in contact with one of your books was when I picked up the audio book of The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It looked like a refreshing change from all the Twilight hype and vampire books poping up left and right everywhere I looked in Barnes & Noble. After listening to The Reformed Vampire Support Group (which by the way is great, I love how the woman said “Bite me Sandford”; it did Horace justice) and buying the book (which is also as great as the audio version,) the next book of yours I sunk my claws into was Evil Genius, which I also listened to on audio. I love this book even more, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m in love with Prosper along with the majority of people who read the book. Listening to the audio book gave me extra time to draw doodles of what I thought he might look like which I have in a box under my bed for safe keeping. I also have to admit that hearing the woman giving him an English accent was the first reason I jumped on the “I love Prosper” train, though he was Thaddeus then. I often wish you would write a book about him although I don’t think it would that easy, he seems like the toughest and funnest character to write. The book of Prosper. Hmm, almost sounds like a religious book. So forgive the ramblings of a Prosper obsessed fourteen year old and have a nice day.

Posted by Jessica, Duluth, Minnesota

A Do you really do lots of drawings of your favourite characters? I used to do that, all the time. I used to draw Sherlock Holmes, and Merlin from Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave, and a whole lot of other characters. Interesting.

Your idea about a junior Prosper is also interesting. Trouble is, he’s English and I’m not – I would find it tricky (though probably not utterly impossible) to write from inside a culture I’m not one-hundred-per-cent familiar with. Usually I can only do that when it’s historical fiction, because no one can really point a finger at me and say ‘It wasn’t like that!’ Still, you never know …

I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my books. Let’s hope you like the next couple of sequels (The Genius Wars and The Absued Werewolf Rescue Group) just as much!


Friday, May 21

Q Hey, I really love all of your books. The Evil Genius Series is absolutely amazing! I really love how you use all the science-fiction mixed with some fantasy. My question is, where did you get the computer information for the Evil Genius series? It’s really descriptive, and even though I barely understand any of it, it sounded pretty in-depth. Thank you!

Posted by Sierra, Cheshire, Connecticut

A Well, Sierra, I got most of my computer information from a friend called Richard Buckland, who teaches computer engineering and cryptography at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. (You can watch some of his lectures online, as a matter of fact – they’re posted on YouTube.) I’m so glad you like the Genius series; do you know the third (and last) book will be published in the U.S. in late September?

Q Are you thinking about making a movie series out of the Evil Genius series, or any others?

Posted by Colin, Euless, Texas

A So far, none of the producers who’ve contacted me about making films out of my books has been able to raise the money to do it. But if anyone ever succeeds in putting together a movie, I’ll be only too delighted to help in any way I can!


Sunday, May 9

Q Do you plan to make a movie for any of your books (preferably the Evil Genius series)?

Posted by Colin, Euless, Texas

A Funny you should ask that, Colin. I keep getting inquiries from Hollywood producers, but no one has yet crossed the line when it comes to putting up the money for such an expensive undertaking. Be assured, however, that if anyone ever does want to make a film with Cadel in it, I’ll be only too delighted. (I can’t make it myself, though; I don’t have what it takes!)

Q Hey, just a quick comment on how much I’ve enjoyed the Evil Genius series over the years. Ever since I picked up the first book in Year 8, Cadel has always been someone I can identify with – even though I insist on pronouncing it ‘kay-del’ – and all of the other characters and the myriad of plot twists have been amazing. The ending of The Genius Wars was indescribably awesome, and also makes me… kind of sad that there won’t be another book. Perhaps the main reason I like the series so much is that Cadel and his friends (and enemies) seem like real people, in the real world. They’re smart, but they can also make mistakes, or be afraid. And any book which uses the phrase ‘High Dynamic Range Rendering’ in normal conversation is okay with me. On two completely unrelated notes: I also really enjoyed the Pagan Chronicles, and was wondering if you’d ever done any writing workshops. A series of them for were held at my school for ‘talented’ English students (with various different authors) that were really helpful, though I imagine that it’s a bit of a hassle to drive out to a school for a day and try and get a bunch of 16-year-olds to write something.

Posted by Justin, Harvey, Western Australia

A You’re right, Justin, it would be a bit of a hassle to drive out to a school in Western Australia from the Blue Mountains! Seriously, though, I used to do a lot of school workshops when I was young, childless, energetic, and poor. Now I’m none of those things, so the motivation – and energy – isn’t really there, especially since I’ve had rather stringent writing deadlines to meet over the past few years. But I do make the odd appearance occasionally, at festivals and things, so you never know … (As a matter of fact, no one in WA has ever asked me to do a talk, so there you are. It’s probably got something to do with the air fares.)

I’m so glad you like my books, though. And it sounds as if you might know what ‘High Dynamic Range Rendering’ actually means!


Monday, April 26

Q Another message from me not that you may recall but I’ve left a few haha xD. Your US fans are always clamouring for more! Anyways I was recently looking up another author and in her biography section instead of listing her likes dislikes etc. she wrote her characters giving an evaluation of her and her tastes. I was wondering, if this same idea was applied to you from Cadel and Prosper’s p.o.v. how do you think you’d come off? I read prior that you’d love to have dinner with Prosper sometime (guess I need to take a number) and figured it might be something you’ve already thought of…maybe. Thanks for any reply, you’re really one of the best and most contactable authors I’ve come across. Also what new book(s?) are you working on, either adult or young adult, and will you be planning any book tours within Australia soon?

Posted by April, Townsville, Queensland

A Interesting question, April; I used to think about meeting my characters quite a lot when I was younger, but not so much any more – maybe because I’m a middle-aged mother now and who’s interested in meeting middle-aged mothers? (No one.) The fact is, I never imagined that ANY of my characters would react well to being told that they came out of my head – would you? I mean, can you imagine what Prosper would say to news like that? (Total scorn, is how I would imagine it.) So I never envisaged telling any of them as part of the process and therefore, these days, I’d be stuck with rolling up as a middle-aged mother and … well, I don’t bother thinking about it much because I’m sure it wouldn’t be pretty.

Anyway, I’m just finishing up a ‘younger reader’ fantasy at the moment (what the Americans call ‘middle school’) before tackling a brand new young adult that it isn’t (thank God) a sequel. Sequels can really take it out of you: the continuity alone adds an extra layer of work, and keeping interested is a lot harder …

I’m not planning any talks around Australia in the near future. (I’ve got too much to write!)


Monday, April 19

Q I have a compliment I don’t think you’ll have seen before… See, I can’t read any of your books in one sitting like I can others. I have to stop every couple of chapters and get up, walk around, do something else for a few minutes while I digest what happened. It’s like a memory trick – I have to make sure I have every word clear in my head before I go on. I just don’t want to miss anything. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you’re my favourite author and have been for a long time. (Since my first year of high school actually, so about ten years.) It’s only just now that I’ve gotten up the guts to send you a message to tell you that.

Posted by Riley, Brisbane

A Sorry about the delay in replying – I’ve been away on holiday! But it was so nice to read your message when I got back home; thanks very much for your long-term support. I can’t believe you’re still reading my books – unless perhaps you’ve graduated from the young adult to the adult titles?

Q I’m 11 years old and live in the U.S. I just finished reading Evil Genius. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read! My dad got it for me a couple of months ago and I thought it would be boring, so I didn’t pick it up until yesterday. I couldn’t put it down! Now I’m scouting around for Genius Squad. As your books are more difficult to find in the States, what’s the most foolproof way to get them? Evil Genius is like my new favorite book. It was touching, dark, humorous, clever, and had great surprises here and there. I won’t be able to rest until I find Genius Squad!

Posted by Hailey, Delaware, Ohio

A I don’t know if you have any independent bookstores in Delaware, Hailey, but I’ve always found that independent bookstores are only too happy to order books in for you – and at no extra cost! Even the big chain stores might do it, though I can’t be sure about the situation over there in America. Otherwise you could try Amazon, or even the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt website. And if all else fails, there’s always your local library!

I’m so glad that you ended up loving Evil Genius – though it kind of worries me that you originally thought it would be boring. It wasn’t anything to do with the cover, was it?

Q Evil Genius is my favorite book! I have friends who have read the book over twenty times! Genuis Squad was just as great and I can’t wait to read The Genuis Wars. Every book in the series so far has been amazing and very imaginative. There are so many twists that I can’t predict what is going to happen one page ahead. I just wanted to say keep up the amazing work and say hi to Cadel for me (how do you pronounce his name?).

Posted by Jaime, Brookline, Massachusetts

A I only wish I could say ‘hi’ to Cadel; the dream of my life has always been to some day meet my characters in the flesh, though of course I never will. (I’d love to have a meal with Prosper.) I guess that’s why it would be so great if someone made a movie from one of my books – it would mean that I’d get to shake hands with Cadel, or Prosper, or Pagan, or Reuben … somebody, at least!

Cadel is pronounced with the emphasis on the ‘del’; you don’t rhyme it with ‘ladle’. And don’t fret; The Genius Wars will be published over there in late September, so you haven’t much longer to wait.


Sunday, April 4

Q I read your Pagan series about 15 years ago and have just put my 14 year old daughter on to them. She, like me is finding that they are ushering her into an immersive world. Thanks for a brilliantly evocative character and a wonderful window into another time.

Posted by Lisa, Winmalee, New Ssouth Wales

A Goodness, this makes me feel so old – but happy too, of course. I wish my daughter would pay attention to my reading recommendations, but so far she hasn’t touched Ivan Southall or many of my other childhood and teenage favourites. (Sigh.) Oh, well.

So you’re from Winmalee? I’m just up the road from you, in Leura. Maybe we’ve run into each other at the Winter Magic Festival, or on the main drag in Springwood!


Thursday, March 25

Q I was wondering if there was going to be another book about Nina and The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Its one of the best books I ever read.

Posted by JD, Hickory Tavern, South Carolina

A Thanks so much for your ringing endorsement! The good news is that there will be a sequel – The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. The bad news is that it won’t be published in the U.S. until 2011 (though you should be able to order the Australian edition online from around the middle of this year).


Monday, March 15

Q I am probably not entitled to write anymore messages, but one can always try. I was wondering about several things, including: ‘I wonder what age Catherine started uni?’ and ‘What age did Catherine start high school? Was it the same age as everyone else (13)?’ Also: Can you please explain to me what kind of job you had at Westpac B.C. (the internet is so confusing!). The amount of messages I’ve asked is probably illegal, but then again, you are my favourite author…

Posted by Emili, Adelaide

A Sorry about the delay in replying, Emili – I’ve been ill. To answer your questions: I started high school when I was 12 (my birthday’s in November) and I started uni when I was 18. At Westpac, I worked on the staff magazine as a journalist. (I hope you didn’t need this for a project with a deadline …)

Q I adore the Pagan Chronicles! The characters are so rich and full, and you’ve done so well in allowing us to relate to them. Were you planning on writing any more? I would love to see a prequel from Roland’s perspective! Thank you, and keep up the amazing work!

Posted by Emmie, Ipswich, Queensland

A Thanks so much, Emmie – it’s nice to know people are still reading Pagan after all these years! I have to admit, I keep getting asked about a Roland prequel – and though I have no plans to write one in the forseeable future, I can’t rule it out; I mean, who knows what might happen, right? For now, though, I have other books scheduled

Q I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but there appears to be an error in your coded message from Cadel to Sonja (through atomic weights and numbers). In the decoded text you had, “I know how Prospr thinks, he won’t ever”, while in reality, the message was, “i know how prospr thinks, be won’t ever”. You mistook Berylium for Helium. Or wrote the code wrong. I just thought you would like to know. :D

Posted by Azrael, Brisbane

A I just checked that, Azrael, and I think you might be getting a bit muddled yourself. The ‘16’ is the atomic number for sulphur, so the one that follows is the atomic weight – 4 – which is helium (He). Then comes the number again – 74 – which is tungsten . I am, however, very impressed that you went to the trouble of decoding it yourself!


Sunday, February 28

Q I’m sitting here in the school computer room, typing this message, with a load of ruckass, loud boys yelling in the background. Probably irrelevant, but I just thought you might like a look at my situation today. :) I’ve asked the teacher if talking to Catherine Jinks about my project is cheating, and she said no (thankfully). I’m so sorry that I keep on bothering you, but I’ve got two more questions, if you could please answer them! BTW: I’m soooo sorry if these questions have been asked before, I’ve had a look but knowing me, I’ve probably forgotten!! Q1: Do you do charities? Q2: Do you go to schools and talk about your books? And do you know how many book tours you’ve been to? Your no.1 fan, Emili P.S. I’m so sorry if I sound like a stalker…I’m not, honest! :)

Posted by Emili, Adelaide

A Do you mean do I donate to charities? Yes, I do occasionally, though not as much as I should. I used to go to schools and talk about my books quite a lot, but I find I’m losing energy as I get older, and can’t keep up with my book deadlines if I do school talks as well; school talks eat up a lot of energy, because so many of the kids aren’t interested and don’t want to be there. (I’m sure you wouldn’t be like that, though!) I don’t know that I’ve ever really gone on an honest-to-goodness book tour (ie. to publicise the release of a new book), though I have spoken at various festivals and on TV and radio because of a particular book.

Q I finished the Evil Genius books. The ending of The Genius Wars made me sad. REALLY SAD. It makes me even sadder that you won’t write another! But oh well. I still love Prosper, too. He’s a great villain. Anyways, I came to tell you I tried reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I really loved it! I’m going to read more of your books for sure! And I believe you said something about a sequel to the book somewhere? When would that be published in the US?

Posted by Nikolas, Molalla

A The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group is going to be published in Australia in the second half of 2010 (I’m not sure of the exact month) and in the U.S. some time next year – again, I’m not sure of the exact month. (Sorry to be so useless.) And I’m so glad you made the switch from the Genius books to the Vampire book without any kind of problem! My books can be so different that I worry, sometimes, about keeping my readers happy.


Friday, February 26

Q I’m a Korean girl, fan of your Evil Genius series!! I don’t know if there is any Korea-published Evil Genius books, however, as staying in New Zealand (just beside Australia!) I had the opportunity to read your books. I am just absolutely in love with Prosper; now my sister is sick of me talking about Prosper-Prosper-Prosper, haha. Well, now I’m just going to cry because I was really hoping that the sequel to The Genius Wars might come out, but well, sadly I read your answer below about it.

I absolutely thank you for great writing, and [spoiler removed]….Ok, sorry for writing um, meaningless talks. I just want you to know that I really love your writing, and hope I could see more of your books!!

Posted by Lowell, South Korea

A Sorry I had to take out a little bit of your message, Lowell, but The Genius Wars hasn’t been published in America yet and I don’t want my U.S. readers to know what happens at the end! Thanks for your words of support, though, I really appreciate them. And it’s very exciting to know I have a fan in South Korea!

Q Hey it’s me again…You probably won’t remember me, but I asked you the question about which superpower you would have the most…Because my class is doing a project on a famous person, I’ve chosen you, and when I showed them your answer, every one was like; “Omigod, Emili just spoke with a famous person!!!” haha. Anyway, I was wondering if you could help on my next question? What do you do to contribute to society? I still love your books!!! Btw: These are just coincidences, but listen to this: My favourite name is Hannah (your daughter’s.) I was born in 1997 (like your daughter). My hobbies are snuggling up with mum and watching DVDs, reading and probably singing!! What a coincidence!!! P.S: It’s kind of a stupid question because you contribute awesome books!

Posted by Emili, Adelaide

A I certainly do remember you, Emili, though I’m not sure you could describe me as ‘famous’ – most people in the world have never heard of me! However, the answer to your question is actually buried on these message boards of mine; if you look back, you’ll see that a few readers have thanked me for brightening up their tougher days with my books. I can get pretty down myself, sometimes, so I know how important it is to find things that will lift your mood and make a lousy day better. If my work has managed to cheer up even one or two people, then I feel as if I’ve made a contribution to society.

I gather that a few of my readers (fans of the Pagan series, specifically) have also gone on to pursue studies in medieval history, so I feel pretty happy about alerting them to the wonders of the Middle Ages. And I just had a letter from a teacher of dyslexic children who uses one of my old picture books all the time; how good is that?


Saturday, February 19

Q I am 11 years old, just in middle school. I have read The Reformed Vampire Support Group only last summer to pass my vacation. That is one of the most beautiful books that I have read in years. When people say they love your writing style, they know it. Thanks a lot.

Posted by Diane, New York City

A Wow, Diane, you’re eleven? And you’re reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group? That’s pretty advanced – you must be quite a reader (not to mention incredibly bright, of course, because you like my work – but that goes without saying, eh?). As a matter of fact, I’m hoping I might be able to come to New York around October and maybe do a few talks at bookshops and stuff, so … who knows? I may very well see you there!


Tuesday, February 16

Q I was recommended Evil Genius by someone on the internet, and so I borrowed it from the library and it was just… so addicting and amazing. I couldn’t put it down! Now I’m up to the last book of the series which I bought with my Christmas money. I just wanted to say you are an amazing writer and the Evil Genius books have the most fantastic plots! I’m going to buy The Reformed Vampire Support Group books soon. I like how in Evil Genius you set lots of things in Sydney, so Cadel seems a whole lot realer. I hope one day I could write as well as you.

Posted by Liliane, Sydney

A Thanks, Liliane – that’s quite a vote of confidence, spending your precious Christmas money on my books! I very much appreciate your support. And I know what you mean about Sydney – I always like reading about the Blue Mountains (where I live now) and Sydney (where I used to live).

Q Firstly, my compliments to you on your site. I have yet to find another author who is prepared to write individual responses to guestbook comments, let alone with the patience and understanding you display in your posts. More to the point, though, I am another person who has just finished reading Evil Genius, and I loved it. It’s fascinating to see that a book like that can work just as well when it’s set in Australia. Even some Australian authors who write books with a lot of action in them (Matthew Reilley, for example) often seem to set their stories in other countries, for whatever reason. Just out of curiosity, what sort of research did you do prior to writing the parts of Evil Genius which require fluency in geek-speak to understand? Was the real-world viability of what Cadel was doing important, or was that something you were happy to allow his genius to explain? To start with, most of what you said seemed plausible and well written, if extraordinarily difficult, but when Cadel ‘bought’ an “old Photoshop program” I started to wonder. To start with, no-one who’s that good actually pays for their software, (as downloading is quicker, easier, cheaper, and harder to trace) unless they care about giving the companies their due, which is not something Cadel would have thought twice about, (at that stage in the book) and then there’s the fact that he only had access to his computer-phone with any unsupervised regularity at that point, which, due to its screen-size, would have made Photoshopping pictures next to impossible, especially without peripheral devices. There’s also the fact that the presence of DNA wiring, while explaining quite a lot of his phone’s extraordinary capabilities, doesn’t cover how the amount of data required for the creation and maintenance of Partner Post would have been stored. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the book, and think you’re one of the better authors in the world for writing characters with whom it is easy to identify, but the technological side interests me. In any case, thank you for writing such an entertaining story. I will be reading the other books in the ‘Genius’ set as soon as possible, and I hope your writing career continues with success for as long as you feel like putting pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard, really, I suppose).

Posted by Kate, Rowan, Melbourne

A Well-spotted, Kate; I am, in fact, almost completely computer-illiterate, and made huge, clunking error after huge, clunking error in Evil Genius. Only while writing Genius Squad and The Genius Wars did I have access to my brilliant maths-whiz/computer-geek friend Richard, whom I was able to consult while coming up with the more bizarre technical twists in my plots.

Thanks for being so understanding, though, and liking the books anyway!


Wednesday, February 10

Q I love The RVSG! That was the first book of yours I have read and fell completely in love with it. I am eagerly awaiting The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group! I was sad to hear that it will not be coming out until 2011 and hope that maybe it might end up coming out before then? I have just recently dove into Evil Genius and I am pleased to say that I love it! I am also excited for Living Hell to be coming out! Thanks for the great books!

Posted by Kate, Limington, Maine

A Well thank you so much, Kate! I’m glad you’re enjoying a whole range of my books! Sad to say, you won’t be seeing The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group in America any time soon – not until after The Genius Wars comes out there in September this year – but I suppose if you’re desperate, you can always buy the Australian edition from Allen and Unwin.

Nice to hear from someone in Maine. My husband comes from Nova Scotia, and I’ve been to New Brunswick, so I feel as if I almost know your neck of the woods.

Q Your books are awesome, just wanted to know when the next Reformed Vampire Support Group is coming out in Melbourne and also what it is going to be called. PS the Genius series was great too!!

Posted by Jez, Melbourne

A The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group is the sequel to RVSG, and it’s being published in Australia this October. (Since the publishers are actually based in Melbourne, you’ll definitely be seeing the book on shelves over there pretty quickly!) It’s nice to know that people are liking both series; I was wondering if they would appeal to the same audience.

Q I have read all the Genius books and find then quite interesting. In Genius Squad you mentioned a type of cipher called the solitary cipher which got my attention. My question is: Where did you hear about this type of cipher and where can I find it? Thanks a lot!!

Posted by Santi, North Carolina

A I actually heard about the solitary cipher from my friend Richard Buckland, who teaches cryptography and computer programming at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and who also makes several appearances in the third book of the Genius series, The Genius Wars (which will be out in America late September this year). You can watch a series of Richard’s lectures on YouTube, though I’m not sure if he mentions that particular cipher during any of his recorded talks; alternatively, what about doing an Internet search for the solitary cipher?

I wish I could be of more help, but it’s not really my field of expertise; whatever I once knew (and have pretty much forgotten), I heard from Richard.


Sunday, January 31

Q I went to my local book store and picked up Evil Genius. Only on the second chapter; so far it is good. I was wondering how may books are in the Genius series. I would like to read them all.

Posted by Juliana, Mineapolis, Minnesota

A So far, so good, eh? Well, at this point in the U.S., only two books have been published: Evil Genius and Genius Squad. But the third (and final) instalment, The Genius Wars, will be published in late September this year.


Monday, January 25

Q I have just finished reading the Evil Genius trilogy. They were brilliant books, I had trouble putting them down! Firstly I wanted to ask … [Question withheld because of spoiler content!] Ever since I was very young I wanted to be an author, but my friends and family have always discouraged this idea. Many of them are under the impression that it will lead me nowhere except being poor. But writing is something I’ve always loved to do! This is my last year at school so I have been looking at ideas for my future. Do you have any advice for a keen writer like me? Should I do a certain course at Uni or TAFE? How do I begin to get my work published? If you could give me any advice on writing and publishing I’d be really grateful, thank you.

Posted by April, Melbourne

A Okay, April – to start with, I couldn’t post that first question of yours because I have fans in the U.S. who won’t be getting The Genius Wars until October, and I didn’t want to ruin it for them! Let’s just say that it’s up to you to decide what happened …

On the subject of writing as a career, I can only advise you from my own experience, which is this: I too was warned in my youth that I’d never make much of a living as a writer – so I made sure I had a day job. In the end, my day job was writing (journalism, to be exact) and it was instrumental in improving my style and research skills. It was an excellent day job for someone wanting to be a writer, even though it wasn’t in a particularly exciting field. (Your task, in that situation, is to make it exciting.) I wrote novels in my spare time, and didn’t make much money from that activity for years and years.

I’m doing well now, after twenty years in the business. But there are many writers – especially in Australia – who don’t make a good living out of it, even after devoting most of their lives to writing. Because the thing about writing novels is this: it’s not really a career. It’s a vocation, or obsession. I wouldn’t try to dissuade anybody from writing, because I know that, in my own case, I couldn’t survive if I didn’t write. However, I didn’t set out with the expectation that I’d make a living out of it – just the hope that I would.

My advice to you is what I’d tell anyone planning a career in the arts: always have a fallback position. Don’t set out thinking you’ll have a job writing books. Instead, tell yourself that whatever else you’re doing to make money is going to be good subject matter for the books you’ll eventually write. And maybe, if you’re skilled enough, the books you end up writing will eventually allow you to give up your day job.


Saturday, January 16

Q He descubierto su obra hace muy poco (en concreto “el escribano”) y ha sido una grata sorpresa. Solo darle las gracias por hacerme pasar unas horas deliciosas leyendo su libro y es seguro que seguira leyendo otros tÃtulos. Un abrazo. [I have discovered your work a little while ago (in short The Notary) and it was a pleasant surprise. Only to thank you for enabling me to pass some delightful hours reading your book, and the second is that I will continue reading your other titles. A hug.]

Posted by Luis, Sevilla, Spain

A Me da verguenza al no poder hablar en castellano, pero un amigo me tradujio tu lindo mensaje . Muchas gracias – y un gran abrazo tambien! [I’m ashamed to say that I can’t speak Spanish, but a friend translated your kind message for me. Thank you very much – and a big hug to you too!]

Q Hmmm, you are right about borrow books from friends and second hand stores. I could try seeing if I can find it some where, but I doubt I can find it, and my friends aren’t the kind to buy books, lol, they are like me. Free is better. I’ll see if I can go to an old second-hand book store this weekend ^_^

Posted by Lucifer, PC, Florida

A Okay – good luck! It’s also worth looking at opportunity shops, like those run by St Vincent de Paul (if you have any of those in Florida).

Q I really enjoyed your series “Pagan Chronicles” (Or maybe, “The Pagan Chronicles”). Soon I’m going to be starting Pagan’s Vows, and so far the series has been perfect. I’ve always been interested in Medieval history, especially Templar Knights. I was curious as to whether or not you’ll be writing any more books directly in the series or accompanying them anytime in the future. This is probably one of my favorite series of novels that I have read so far in my life, so I’d be thrilled if you were planning anything. I believe one of the previous questions had something regarding Roland’s younger years, and I think that would be absolutely brilliant! Thanks for reading.

Posted by Scott, Hartford, Connecticut

A I’m pleased that you’re enjoying The Pagan Chronicles, Scott – let’s hope you find the end of the series as enjoyable as the beginning. (A lot of people prefer the first three books to the last two, I’ve noticed, because Pagan isn’t the narrator in the last two.) As I get older, the prospect of researching medieval novels becomes less and less appealing, because I haven’t as much energy as I used to have – though this may change once my daughter grows up and leaves home. So at present I haven’t any desire to continue the series (especially since the last book hasn’t been exactly a bestseller). This isn’t to say, however, that I’ll never write another sequel; just that I’ve no immediate plans to.

Q I’m here to tell you how much I’m loving The Reformed Vampire Support Group, the Evil Genius series, and the Pagan series. All are very well written, I must say. : ) Can you help clear a dispute real quick? Which characters are shown on the cover of Genius Squad? My friends and I (sadly) argue over it. Anyways, The Reformed Vampire Support Group really intrigued me. Where in the world did you get such an interesting idea? I mean, all we see nowadays are perfectly perfect vampires, or the Twilight stuff; which I detest. Did you want to be unique with the vampires? Or do you prefer them like this over the perfectly made ones?

Posted by Jhon, Adelaide
A The idea of slacker, couch-potato vampires in therapy popped into my head many years ago – long before I’d heard of Stephenie Meyer. (In fact she might not have published Twilight at that stage.) What I’ve always hated in books are ‘special’ people with ‘special’ powers; I’ve always liked to read about loser types with major problems (health-related if possible). However, when I was plotting The Reformed Vampire Support Group, I did take time to search the Net and make sure that no one else had played with this kind of idea. (Only after the book had been written did I stumble across the vampire slob in True Blood, but even he has powers rather than problems.) So the answer to both your questions is yes: I did want to be unique with my vampires, but I also prefer the losers over the super-dudes.

As for your Genius Squad question, the answer to that is, from left to right: Lexi, Hamish, Cadel, Devin and Sonja.

Q I love the Genius series, with all my heart. The characters are amazingly written out! I love Prosper English the most, though. He’s so devilish and suave at the same time! I love it. Every time I read Genius Squad or The Genius Wars I’d get giddy when his name was mentioned, and of course, at the parts he was in I was ESPECIALLY giddy with delight. Am I weird? I just adore him, he’s … adorable! In an evil way. The perfect villain, in my eyes at least. And I LOVE Cadel and Prosper’s love/hate relationship,I think it’s sweet when Cadel gets over-emotional, or when Prosper falters a little because of Cadel. That TOO is adorable.

Posted by Nami, Perth

A You’re not alone – from the feedback I’ve had, it’s become obvious to me that Prosper English is the favourite character of about ninety per cent of Genius readers. He’s certainly my favourite character in the series; I enjoy writing him more than any other character. Maybe that’s why everyone likes him so much – because my enjoyment shines through. Or maybe we all love a suave, intelligent villain. (Look at what a fan club Hannibal Lecter has.)

Anyway, thanks for your vote! I have to confess, I’d love to have dinner with Prosper – though I woudn’t trust him as far as I could spit. (I bet it would be a really nice dinner, too; he’s sure to be a real gourmet. Though not like Hannibal Lecter, of course.)

Q Do you think that The Reformed Vampire Support Group will become a series? I really liked it.

Posted by Lili, Wheaton

A Well, Lili, it so happens that I have written a sequel – called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group – but I don’t know if I’ll be writing any more. The sequel should be published in Australia this year and in America next year. (I’m not sure about the publication dates for Britain or Germany.)


Tuesday, January 12

Q I am a 13 year old boy from Queensland. I used to strongly dislike reading and English and often received bad marks in the subject. My teacher suggested that I try to read more, which at the time I did none at all. My teacher gave me a libary book, which he thought I would enjoy. It was your book Evil Genius. At first I avoided the book, but once I sat down to read it I created a strong connection with the characters, and I started to enjoy reading. Over the last six months or so I have been reading the Evil Genius series and I am about to finish the third and hopefully not final book. After the six months my English teacher had noticed that my work and my approch to English had changed. I went from being bottom of the clas, to one of the top English students in my class. I would like to thank you for bringing the joy of reading to me. I would like to ask if The Genius Wars is the last book in the Evil Genius series, which I have enjoyed very much? If not are any of your other books similar or books you have had great success with? Thank you very much.

Posted by Aiden, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

A Wow, Aiden. What an incredibly moving and humbling message – I can’t tell you how amazed I was when I read it. My books did that? Really? I don’t know why, but it’s hard for me to believe. I’m grateful that you enjoyed my books so much.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any plans to write another book in the Genius series. But if you liked the technology and the action, you might also enjoy a science fiction book of mine called Living Hell (which is a little bit gory, I have to warn you), and if you liked the relationships in the Genius books, you might enjoy The Pagan Chronicles: ie Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows … (Though again I have to warn you, they’re historical novels set in medieval times.) There’s also a science fiction novel called Eye to Eye that you might like, though it was published a while ago, and may be hard to find.

Thanks for your vote of confidence. And I’m so glad that you’ve become hooked on reading, because it’s the best thing ever. No matter where I go, I always have a book with me; that way, I can never get bored.


Sunday, January 10

Q I think about over a year ago, I sent you a message. I believe I told you something about writing about vampires, I THINK. lol I couldn’t find my message on the message board. Anywho, I plan to read your new vampire book. :) Too bad I don’t have enough to buy it, maybe if I ever go to the library again, I will check out your book. You may want to contact your publisher or someone about the prices of your books. They are EXTREMELY good, but a little over priced and I can never buy them and I only go to the library about twice a year (one day to check out books, one day to return books). Keep writing books! :3 I’ll find some way to read them!

Okay, I found my thingy-ma-jig. I said “I can’t wait to see the vampire book”. I feel stupid now >.> Anyway, also ,if I published a book, would you read it? And have you read Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke? (It’s one of my favorites.) Ooooooooohhhhh, I really want to read your vampire book but I can’t because it’s not in my haaannnddssss >:( Sorry, I’m a little..not sane.]

Posted by Lucifer, PC Florida

A I’m afraid I haven’t read any of Cornelia Funke’s work, though my daughter has. (Maybe I should.) And I’m sorry you’re finding it so hard to get hold of a copy of The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no say over the price of books in America – I wish I did! It’s a pity you can’t borrow books from your friends, or pick a few titles up cheap at secondhand bookshops (the way we do over here in Oz, where our books are nearly twice the cost of books in the U.S.). As for the cost of postage … well, don’t even ask! Let’s just say it would cost more than the price of the book …
Q I read The Reformed Vampire Support Group and loved it! It is the second time I have used it for a school project. By the way I’m in 7th grade.I had a couple of questions if you don’t mind answering them. Do you have a fan mail address? If so, can I have it? Also, will there be a sequel? I hope there will be. It might be hard to write a book under pressure huh? If there will be a sequel is there a way to get it really fast i n the U.S.? That’s all for now. Thanks!

Posted by Sophia, Rootstown, Ohio

A Sorry it’s taken a while to respond, Sophia, but I was away for a week (it’s the summer holidays over here) and didn’t have access to a computer. My mailing address is c/o Margaret Connolly, P.O. Box 945 Wahroonga, NSW, 2076, Australia. Or are you looking for an email address? I prefer not to publish my email address on the Net, but you can always email my agent at And yes – there certainly will be a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It’s called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, and it will be out in the U.S. some time next year – but you can always order it from my Australian publisher, Allen and Unwin, when it’s published over here this October.

Q Could you please tell me if there will be another book in the Genius series after The Genius Wars???

Posted by Bobbie, Adelaide

A Absolutely not. Those books were so hard to write, and I’ve tied up all the loose ends that I needed to tie up, and I’m all worn out when it comes to Cadel. Sorry!

Q I just finished The Genius Wars, and might I say, it was very VERY well written! I really enjoyed the plot, a lot. : ) Your characters are so well written, it’s impossible not to love them all. Though I am very tempted to get down on my knees and beg for a fourth book! I really am. This series is just amazing, the story really pulls you in. The characters, the plot, everything. It’s certainly something pleasing to read, from Cadel’s mischievous antics in Evil Genius, to his life and it’s difficulty in The Genius Wars. A masterpiece! I simply can’t express enough praise for these books.

Posted by Samantha, Brisbane

A Thank you, Samantha, for taking the time to send me such a lovely message. I’m glad you liked the Genius series so much – but as I just said to Bobbie in Adelaide, there’s no chance of a fourth one, I’m afraid. They’re just too much hard work, and I’ve run out of technological inspiration – for the moment, anyway.


Saturday, January 2

Q I didn’t really know what is the right decision to write a letter or better an e-mail to you or to stay in silence. Now I thought it’s better to write because maybe it can encourage you even if it’s just a little mail from a foreigner person of another country. Maybe you can smile or laugh about it but I just hope I did the right thing. I want to give some hope and some courage back which you gave me through your books. I like them really much but it’s kind a sad that the story of Cadel and his weird life ends so quickly. The Evil Genius and the Genius Squad were so amazing! I was speechless. My life is also a little weird so I caught a little hope after your books. I read them over and over again. Perhaps now 9 or 10 times? And I am such a little freak that I bought the CD of it to hear it many times. I hope that in the future there would be many more books like that because it’s fascinating. really! You are the first writer I know that have combined so many categories! Crime … thriller… romance … and also pc! Cadel is such a nice person. Yeah, many times he’s a little brat but he’s lovely. I like the way you write. A little irony and a bit of sarcasm. It’s so nice. I wish I could have an autograph like a trophy but this would be still a dream but it’s okay. I like to write too and I also write little stories but I don’t have the courage to show them to someone … but have you any tips how to write a book? Maybe I can learn to write amazing things like you! It would be an honour!

Posted by Streifchen, Germany

A Thank you very much, Streifchen – it was good of you to write. You’re absolutely correct; messages like yours do encourage me. It’s hard to believe that I’ve made such an impact on other people’s lives with my books, even though my own life was profoundly affected by Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis and Nancy Mitford and George Orwell. (I mean, let’s face it – I’m hardly in their league!) Sitting all alone at my desk for days at a time, I forget that what I’m doing has any impact on the outside world at all. So it’s great to receive reminders that I’m doing a reasonable sort of job!

The good news is that there’s going to be a third Genius book and that it should be published in Germany next year some time. (I’m still not sure of the exact date; sorry.) As far as my writing tips go, the two most important things that I’ve learned are: always write a thorough synopsis or plan of your book before you start chapter one (the more thorough, the better) and keep practising. Practising is the single most important thing you can do. Just because your first (or second or third) effort isn’t good enough for publication doesn’t mean that your eighth or ninth effort won’t be. The more you do something, the better you get at it. This seems like a simple enough lesson, but many people seem to believe that there’s such a thing as inborn talent that doesn’t require constant exercising. But let me assure you, experience makes all the difference.



Monday, December 28

Q Merry (late) Christmas and Happy New Years! Though Christmas passed already. I don’t know if you remember me, but I posted a message before and said I would post a drawing of Cadel. Here it is art/Cadel-Piggot-148060248. It’s not that good though xP. It’s more like a sketch than a drawing; when I learn how to use photoshop I’ll color it or make a full body drawing! I have more sketches, but somehow the website I’m using is not letting me post them xP .

Posted by Elisha, New York

A It might only be a sketch, Elisha, but it’s still pretty impressive; I never even thought about what Cadel might look like as an anime character, but of course it’s a form of visual representation that’s tailor-made for him, what with his huge eyes and little mouth and heart-shaped face …

I’ve posted the address here so that other fans can check out your work. Well done!

Q Hi, I just read Pagan’s Daughter. I’ve waited for years for it to be published in Germany. And this Christmas my little sister gave it to me as a present. I’ve been a fan of your Pagan series for years; I love it. You write so lovely, sometimes I really cried, because things were so sad, or I just laughed out loud at the funny passages. I love how you drag your readers into the story. It feels like you’re standing right next to the protagonist. Are you planning to continue this series of books? (Please do so!!) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! Johanna PS: I’d like to read your books in English. I think, some day I’ll do so.

Posted by Johanna, Eschwege, Germany

A I think you probably will be able to read my books in English, Johanna, if this message is anything to go by; your English is incredibly good. And I’m glad you feel as if you’re standing right next to the protagonist, because that was my intention when I wrote the Pagan series – as a matter of fact, I was hoping my readers would feel as if they were inside the protagonist’s head, watching things as they happened.

I have to admit that I haven’t any immediate plans to write any more Pagan books. Sorry. But this doesn’t mean I never will; maybe fifteen years from now I might feel like dabbling in Pagan again. (It’s an awful lot of work, you see – all that research really takes it out of you – and I’m getting old and lazy.)

Thursday, December 24

Q I’m very keen to buy The Reformed Vampire Support Group for my 12 year old daughter for Christmas – it was recommended to me by a shop assistant – the humour being the attractive element (hopefully from both our points of view). She is a great bookworm and has already devoured the twilight series. Is your book a suitable gift for her? Don’t want to freak her out! Many thanks.

Posted by Mark, London

A Sorry for the slight delay, Mark – I’m probably too late to advise you on this one, but my own daughter (who’s twelve) read the book and was not at all freaked out, so I’d probably say it was age-appropriate.

Q First off I’d like to say you are definitely one of my favorite authors. Even though I’ve only read Evil Genius and Genius Squad, I still love your writing. I was extremely happy at the end of Genius Squad and I can barely wait for next October. But I pose a query to one of my favorite authors. Does Cadel ever fall in love?

Posted by Jessica, Modesto

A I think Cadel probably will fall in love once he has calm seas ahead of him and doesn’t have to worry about his own survival (among other things), but I’ve a suspicion he might fall for a slightly flashy, morally equivocal girl because of his upbringing. (Let’s face it: he’s ever so slightly equivocal himself.) I mean, he might get sucked in by a girl who – while being clever and gorgeous – also has a bit of a dark side. And it might take him a while to decide that this dark side is not for him.

That’s my take on things, anyway!


Tuesday, December 16

Q Does the fairytale in Eglantine have a parallel meaning or message to the storyline of the book? If so could you explain that briefly?

Posted by Jaime, Batemans Bay, NSW

A Sorry about the delay in replying – what with the run-up to Christmas, and everything, I got a little behind! To answer your question: to be honest, I didn’t draw any huge parallels between the story and the story-within-the-story – I just thought that the latter was melodramatic and fraught, just like Eglantine.

Q Well, I had a book report due in Novels class and I chose The Reformed Vampire Support Group and I immediately fell in love. I am going to request that our librarian acquire more of your books. Thank you for writing so wonderfully!

I just read more on your comments people have left you and your answers to them and I see that you will be publishing The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and it should be coming to the U.S. in 2011 or so. Well that is the year I graduate. I have read many vampiric series, but none of them have held me in the book the way this one has. After finishing this book, I found myself a little depressed that I had to wait so long for the next one. And I can promise you that by the time that the sequel is released, I will have read most, if not all of, your young adult and adult fiction books! Thank you for being such a genius. I have always been keen to writing. I have written many things but never have tried to publish them. Someday I know I shall try and hope to succeed. And I would love to hear more of your personal story. I was a HUGE fan of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer but now I am an even HUGER fan of your books. And I would love to be in contact with you and ask some questions and things for I work at a radio station and would love to be able to tell my listeners about you and your upcoming writings!

Posted by Stephanie, Ava, Missouri

A Well, thanks so much, Stephanie (I see you spell your name the right way); I’m really pleased that my book had such a powerful effect on you! That kind of response always surprises me, for some reason – maybe because I’ve lived with the books for so long that they’ve ceased to have any impact. Anyway, I guess if you’re really desperate to read the sequel, you can always order it from Australia online, some time around the middle of next year – as long as you can stand the different spelling (and occasional Australian phrase).

I’d be happy to answer any questions you want to ask me for your radio program. Would you like me to forward your details on to my publishers and we can arrange an interview through them? It always seems more professional that way and it’s also advantageous to you. Publishers are always very supportive of grass-roots media.

Good luck with the writing – and with finding some of my books in the U.S.! I haven’t published all that many over there.


Sunday, December 6

Q I just finished reading The Genius Wars. Fantastic book! But I can’t help wondering if there is going to be another addition to the series. It would be a crime to finish Cadel’s story here!

Posted by Sam, Perth

A Sorry, Sam. Although I’m terribly pleased that you like the series enough to want another installment, I just don’t have one in me. I’m sucked dry. (They’re awfully hard to write, you know!

Q I’m very curious as to who draws the pictures for your Evil Genius series covers?? I really love the style, as an artist myself.. Anywho, can’t wait for The Genius Wars! Unfortunatly I’m stuck in Amercia, where it won’t be released for another year

Posted by Nikolas, Molalla

A Yes, they’re fantastic covers, aren’t they? The artist is another Aussie; his name’s Heath McKenzie, and he tends to illustrate all of my covers these days. I’m really grateful to have someone so talented making my books look so good.

And don’t complain about being ‘stuck in America’, Nikolas – you don’t know the meaning of the words ‘stuck in’ unless you’ve been to Australia, where we tend to get movies and TV series months, if not years, later than Americans! Not to mention the length of time it takes to fly anywhere from here …


Friday, December 4

Q Hey, I don’t know if you’re taking any book suggestions but maybe you could write the Bloodstone Chronicles. I think it would be pretty cool. I sure would read it. It’s just a suggestion.

Also I forgot to say……I read The Reformed Vampire Support Group (No dah? How could I have known about The Bloodstone Chronicles?) But that’s not the point….the point is that The Reformed Vampire Support Group (man that was a mouthful) is a realllllly good book. It actually is my favorite vampire book. Is there going to be a sequel? And when will it be out? In The Reformed Vampire Support Group why is there, instead of letters, upside down letters for some chapters? Like for chapter seventeen instead of a s there was an upside down 5. Also if there is going to be a sequel for The Reformed Vampire Support Group (man I hope there will be!!!!) what is it going to be about? And were could I get an early copy? (Like from Australia?) Thanks so much for writing awesome books!!!!!

Posted by Jamie

A I don’t know if I’d be able to write the Bloodstone Chronicles because it’s obviously a traditional, glamorous-type vampire series, and that’s not what I do! (Maybe another writer could manage it.) But there is definitely going to be a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group – in fact I’ve just finished it. It’s called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, and it’s about a young guy called Toby who falls in with the vampires and werewolf from the first book – but I won’t give you too many details, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. (Even in Australia the sequel won’t be published until at least the second half of 2010, but after that you’ll probably be able to buy it online from the publisher, Allen and Unwin.)

As for the typeface used in the American chapter headings – well, I’m not sure why some of the letters are numbers! It’s just a quirky style, I guess!

Q Is there going to be a fourth book in the Cadel series (The Genius Wars)? I was hoping there was another one as they were all excellent books.

Posted by Dominic, Melbourne

A I’m really sorry, but I’m not planning to write another book in the Genius series. They were really, really hard books to write, and I don’t think I have another one in me. I’m so glad you liked them, though!


Friday, November 27

Q I feel tragedy! My mom made me box up all my books and not buy any more, even with my own money; has this happened to you before? But this is not why I am writing to you. I was wondering three things: 1. When will The Genius Wars come out in Australia? 2. Will it be sold in Athens? 3. Can I buy it online?

Posted by Kate, Batesville

A No, I can’t say my mum ever deprived me of my books, thankfully – but she’s a mad reader herself, so it probably wouldn’t have crossed her mind. To answer your questions: The Genius Wars is out in Australia right now; it’s available from my Australian publishers, Allen and Unwin, and from various Australian online booksellers (like Boomerang Books); and I’m pretty sure it’s not available in Athens, Greece – though I suspect that’s not the Athens you’re talking about? (If you’re referring to an American Athens, then no – it hasn’t been published in America yet.)

Q I’m Hailey and I am a 14-year-old girl. Lately I’ve been really into vampires and stuff and I read your book The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Well I’m just wondering if you are planning to make a sequel to it; I really really liked it. I am in the USA and have contacted a friend in Austrailia and he hasn’t heard of it. I recomended it to him but I wasn’t sure how much of a difference there would be between the books. I was also wondering how in the world did you come up with this? It sounds like you are telling it from experience or something, expecially at the end. You seem like a good mind and I’d like to talk – um – thank you for writing these WONDERFUL books!

I do enjoy the glamorous type thing somewhat but I have to say at the time I first read the Twilight series it was awesome. I have to say I very much prefer this book over the Twilight series right now and I am very much looking forward to the sequel. I have to say that my favorite character was Reuben and Dave. I’m a little confused: right before the last chapter Nina said then he kissed me – as in who was “he” –

Posted by Hailey, Delphi

A Thanks, Hailey – I’m really pleased you liked The Reformed Vampire Support Group so much, especially since you’re also a Twilight fan! And thanks very much, too, for promoting it in my own country, where it doesn’t seem to have as much of a profile as it does in the U.S.

I’m sorry if the second-last chapter was confusing. I meant to convey that Dave was kissing Nina.

You’ll be pleased to know that I just finished the sequel (yesterday, in fact) and that Reuben features prominently in this book, which is called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. Unfortunately, however, you probably won’t see it in America until 2011 some time!


Tuesday, November 24

Q I am so entranced from the books Genius Evil and Genius Squad, although it does not resemble completely my other reading. However, the tension has tied me to the books and I have read them with big interest. Now I wait on The Genius Wars. When is publication in Germany? Thank you for the first-class reading.

Posted by Anita, Frankfurt

A Thanks so much for your message, Anita; I don’t often hear from Germany because of the language barrier. However I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not absolutely sure when The Genius Wars is scheduled for publication in Germany; the publisher has had my manuscript for some time now, so I suspect the book has already been translated. My guess would be that you’ll see it on the shelves over there some time early next year – but I’ll check and see if I can firm up the date, which I’ll post on my ‘news’ page for you.

Q I read the other posts in here before, during the summer, and I think I found somewhere where you mentioned that Cadel had a music theme song. I just wanted to know what it was and if the other characters like Prosper have their own theme songs as well. I also wanted to ask, does Cadel like Sonja? If he does then do you think that they’ll get together when they get older or something? (I just love them together and I’m a big romance fan). I can’t wait for The Genius Wars too, it really sucks that the American version comes out next year, but not to worry! I forced my friend into buying me the Australian version for Christmas. Now I have to get him a really good Christmas gift to return the favor. Also I made a drawing of Cadel and Ariel, his disguise. I was wondering if you can look at them sometime. I can post it on deviant art and give you the link! But first I have to color it and make it pretty looking. Also, I really love the Evil Genius series. My favorite character would either be Prosper or Cadel. I also think that the only thing that makes Evil Genius better than Genius Squad was the fact that Prosper appears throughout Evil Genius whereas Prosper only starts to appear in part four of Genius Squad. I really really love Evil Genius, and it takes up more than 80% of my mind every day, which is bad because then I end up not listening to my English teacher, but then again, we were supposed to be talking about To Kill a Mocking Bird, but somehow he ended up discussing Global Warming and scientists all because someone mentioned the movie 2012. Anyways, I’m really thankful that you wrote the Evil Genius series. I read it every time I’m stressed about something. And reading a great book is just the thing to relieve stress, it really calms me down.

Posted by Elisha, New York

A I think I might have mentioned before that when I hear about people who use my books to feel better, because they’re stressed or upset, it makes me feel fantastic. I feel as if I’m actually doing something useful in the world, like a doctor or a volunteer firefighter. So thank you very much for that warm fuzzy, Elisha! I’m not surprised that you’re a bit stressed, mind you; though I ADORE New York, and hope to go there again soon, it sure is a full-on, energetic kind of place. If I had to live there for any length of time I’d start to get pretty twitchy; where I live it’s very slow and green and peaceful.

The whole romance question is an interesting one; I’m not sure about that myself. Personally, I’ve got a bad feeling that Cadel might be led astray one day by some vibrant kind of girl (because he’s such a catch, let’s face it), but would possibly wander back to Sonja in the end. It’s a tricky one. I’d have to give it a good deal of thought.

By all means send me a link to your drawings; I’ll not only look at it, I’ll post it as well, for all those other fans!


Sunday, November 15

Q I really like the Cadel series; I just finished the first two. I really wish the third book would come out sooner, though!

Posted by Carlin, Texas

A Yes, I’m sorry the wait for the U.S. edition of The Genius Wars is going to be so long. I suppose if you’re really desperate, and don’t mind a few Australianisms, you could always buy the Australian version directly from my Oz publisher, Allen & Unwin, which has an online service. I just hope you like number three as much as you enjoyed the first two!

Q I’ve seen other posts on this message board, so I know that you get this all the time, but I just wanted to tell you that you’re my absolute hero! I’m 14, and in 2007 I saw a review in a magazine for Pagan’s Daughter – it gave it 3 stars and claimed the characters were ‘not that lovable’ and the details ‘a bit gory’ – that sparked my interest, so I bought the book and I fell completely in love. Your characters are always so compelling, even the less than perfect ones (I think my favourite is Felix from Piggy In The Middle . . . or maybe Pagan, I think Pagan’s Crusade was the book that convinced me you were to become my new hero), and your books actually inspired my love of medieval history to the point that I’m aiming to study it in university. Also, your books are so *smart*, hahah. That sounds dumb, but I can’t think of another way to put it – so smart and so human, and such a diverse range of topics. Augh I don’t know, my life would be made if I ever got to shake your hand and say “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU” to your face! Oh, a question since this is a Q&A board – do you ever visit schools to talk about your books, or anything? I’m from Brisbane – Indooroopilly – and I’d *adore* for you to come visit my school!

Posted by Phoebe, Brisbane

A Wow, Phoebe! I didn’t know that people were reading Piggy in The Middle any more! You really are an avid fan!

Thanks so much – I don’t know how to respond to such lavish praise. It’s kind of embarrassing. (I mean, they’re just books. It’s not like I’ve rescued a whole city from certain destruction.) I’m afraid I don’t really get out to schools any more, unless they’re very close by – it’s being a mother that does it. I have to be around home a lot. Sometimes I make it to the odd literary festval, and if Brisbane Festival would ever invite me again, I’d probably go. But here’s the odd thing: I accepted an invitation from the Brisbane Festival once, and had to cancel because of a family wedding, and they’ve never asked me back. I’ve heard a rumour that I was asked twice and cancelled, but it only happened once – I don’t know how that rumour started. So now I seem to be persona non grata over there. It’s a great pity, since I was born in Brisbane.

Q I’m all the way in America and I’m really happy my history teacher made me pick someone to be from Australia. I picked you and I was really excited to learn about someone with so many great and notable books. I am going to get your books tomorrow and I can’t wait to read them. Im especially excited to read The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It seems interesting. I love reading vampire books. A series you might be interested in reading yourself is Cirque du freak by Darre Shan. They are such good books. Anyway onto my question. I love writing and hope to be as successful as you. What tips do you have for me and what other books of yours would you suggest to me or books from other Australian or any other countries authors. I’m so excited to be you for my project. You are someone I would look up to for help in reaching my writing goals. Please write back.

Posted by Grace, Jacksonville, Florida

A Well, Grace, I’m not sure exactly what books to recommend, since I don’t know how old you are, but I haven’t had a whole lot of teenage books published in America in any case. Apart from The Reformed Vampire Support Group, there’s only the Genius series (Evil Genius and Genius Squad) as well as the Pagan series (Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows, Pagan’s Scribe, and Babylonne). There’s also a younger readers series called Allie’s Ghost Hunters (Eglantine, Eustace, Eloise and Elysium), but I don’t think they’re widely available in the U.S, and you might have trouble finding them.

My one piece of advice to you, if you want to write, is to improve your punctuation. Your message to me read like a text message – I had to capitalise a lot of words and correct your punctuation before I could post it because I was worried that some people might not bother reading it otherwise. Contractions and so forth are all very well on text messages, but if you’re really, really serious about writing, you should avoid them like the plague. You have to get your grammar and syntax and punctuation right before anyone’s going to take you seriously in the world of professional publishing!

Q Just thought I would add my thoughts in with the rest of the good words about your books. Here is my little story: I was just out one day and thought “I want a book to read” (because I don’t actually read a lot) and I was searching through the book store and found The Reformed Vampire Support Group and thought yeah this sounds good. I was amazed at what a different light it puts on the whole ‘typical’ vampire look. I just loved the book a lot and cuz I live in little old New Zealand I was happy when I realised it was set in Sydney! And then NZ being mentioned – it made me laugh! So I read the other comments left about the book and was happy to know that a 2nd book was being released and wanted to know if it was out in NZ yet or when is it out? Thanks for being a good writer and keeping me glued to the book. :]

Posted by Amanda, Auckland

A To tell you the truth, Amanda, I’m still just finishing the sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group now – though my Australian publisher is so keen to release it that even though the manuscript hasn’t been submitted yet, there’s talk about bringing it out mid-to-late 2010. The good news is that you’ll see it in the shops over there just as soon as it hits the shelves over there, because the Australian and New Zealand publishing industries share the same rights and distibution networks; my agent talks about ‘ANZ rights’ when I sell a book.

Thanks for your message: I don’t seem to get many comments from New Zealand, and that’s a shame, because I’m a big fan of NZ, what with Peter Jackson and Neil Finn and Jane Campion and The Whale Rider – I mean, what’s not to like?


Sunday, November 8

Q I just finished Evil Genius and Genius Squad and I have to say…they are pure genius. Haha. Bet you’ve never heard that one before! I can’t wait for the next book to be released, already have it marked on my calendar. Now I just have to wait a whole year! Darn! I have to say I think you are one of the best young adult writers in the business – your characters are wonderfully realistic. I can’t imagine many writers would be brave enough to include a character like Sonja, who is not your typical female lead – but such a great character because of the honesty and realism you used in creating her. Thanks for so many GREAT reads!

Posted by Jammie, North Carolina

A And thank you for support, Jammie. I’m so glad you liked the books. But I should warn you that the message below this one is full of Genius Wars spoilers from an Australian fan: please don’t read it, or you might regret you ever did. (It’s such a shame that the novel couldn’t have come out at the same time in different countries, the way The Reformed Vampire Support Group did. I feel really guilty now and it’s not even my fault!)

Q So I just finished The Genius Wars. And it was worth every pain stakingly slow day of waiting! I loved it, though Evil Genius first and foremost will always be my fave. I almost cried at the end. (A rare feat for me since not even HP mad me flinch.) I think my only qualm with it is that it is the inevitable end of something wonderful. I’ve adored your characters for so long now and now they’ll never be anything new to divulge! “Thrilling conclusion” is such a final phrase. Admittedly I wish a certain someone beginning with P had had more of a part, it being the end and all, but I guess you can’t do much on the run from the law, even when you are a criminal mastermind. Which reminds me, the pop tarts: Prosper’s or Rex’s? I haven’t looked at cherry pop tarts in the same way since Genius Squad. One thing I did love was the scene with the cement. I could barely stop my heart beating so fast! It was so suspenseful, you’re an amazing writer. I loved how you pointed out how Prosper like Cadel was acting, I’d noticed it earlier but for someone to finally point it out to Cadel was exactly what I’d been waiting for. Poor Gazo, he’s treated a bit like Cadel’s own hired goon in this one isn’t he? Finally, I’ve got to ask, do you plan to maybe write a spin off one day? I really do wish it didn’t have to end here and even a book featuring some of the minor characters would be a tantalizing read. Like…what was happening between Niobe and Zapp? Or more on what Lexi had been up to. It’s probably not going to happen but I can wish. Of course while I’m wishing I can always add that the story never did directly say “And then everyone lived happily ever after.” In my mind there can’t be a world in which Prosper doesn’t (fictionally) exist. I’ve grown too attached for such a hasty farewell in those final chapters. Anyways, thanks for writing such a superb series. I shall be watching the shelves for your name from now on. I hope I haven’t written any obvious spoilers to those yet to read the third instalment, please take them out if I have as I’d hate to ruin this for anyone!

Posted by April, Brisbane

A I had the choice of eviscerating your message or warning the uninitiated that they shouldn’t read it – and I took the latter course. I hope it was the right one! But I liked your comments so much that I felt they deserved an airing …

I was in Dymocks today and saw my first ‘Genius’ series dump bin (they’re the big cardboard stands that you put important books in), so I’m feeling very chuffed – and your message is the icing on the cake.

Q You are my idol. Reading what you have so far on the Evil Genius series, I feel like our ideas of genre and choice of actions are a lot alike. Not only is the story excellent beyond belief, but the way you wrote it is perfect through my eyes, and I want to write my stories just like yours. My creative writing teacher doesn’t really like how I tell my stories using similes and stretching the dialogue, but I think you’d understand that it’s the essence of the story that really count. I can’t wait until I read the third part of the series, the suspense is killing me. Hopefully one day I’ll be as good as you or that one day I’d actually get to meet you. P.S. Are the books sold in Australia in English?

Posted by Cienna, Northridge, California

A Yes, the Australian editions certainly are in English, and are perfectly intelligible to your average English-speaking American reader, though Australian and American English is slightly different: you say sidewalk, we say pavement; you say pick-up truck, we say ute … etc, etc.

I’m very flattered that you like my style so much. I do work hard over it, and put a lot of effort into things like avoiding repetition, especially when it comes to repetitive vowel sounds. People normally don’t pay attention to things like that, which is good because I’ve always thought nice style is one which readers don’t actually notice because they’re so busy following the story. However, it’s pleasing when the odd reader does appreciate it! Thanks!


Saturday, October 31

Q I’m 14. I recently read some of your books like Genius Squad and sequel and Pagan’s Crusade. I like all of them (although addmitedly the latter was my favorite). I love the way you know how a native of Jerusalem thinks (being from Israel myself) about the pilgrims and such ( btw did you know they now sell cans filled with “air of the holy land” –). And where did you find all the details about the city (many of which had not changed)? I’d also like to know how you manage to get into your characters’ heads – do you have a degree in psychology or somthing like it? And lastly will you be doing any visits to Hartford CT anytime? It’s right between NYC and Boston, MA ps: when is The Genius Wars coming out in the U.S.?

Posted by Erez, West Hartford, Connecticut

A Gosh, Erez, that’s quite a compliment; I’ve never been to Israel, so I’m awfully pleased that I’ve somehow managed to imagine it properly! (‘Air of the Holy Land’, eh? Yep – that sounds like something out of Pagan’s Crusade, all right.) I’ve never done a psychology degree either- only history – but I guess you don’t need a psychology degree to understand people, right? And I’m hoping that I might be in the United States next October, when The Genius Wars is released there, but I don’t know whether I’ll be coming to Hartford at all. It depends on what my publisher thinks I should do. It’s possible that I will get to Connecticut, though, since I’ll certainly visit New York if I do go to the States. And I hear that Connecticut is an awfully pretty place …

Q I’d just like to tell you that my Monday this week was made a little bit better because of you. It was shaping up to be a typical Monday (I’m assuming you know the feeling) when I remembered it was the 26th, the day that The Genius Wars came out. After that, I felt happier, and my day got better. And now when I need to go to my “happy place” during school, it usually involves a lot of mental fanfiction for The Genius Wars. You have definitely made an impact. :D

Posted by Many, Lake Forest, California

A Now this is the kind of message I like to get, because it makes me feel as if I’m doing some good in the world. Since I’m not a heart surgeon or a brilliant environmental engineer or a social worker or anything really useful like that, I have to comfort myself with the thought that every so often, somewhere in the world, I enable some very stressed person to escape into their imagination for a little while. Thanks so much for telling me!

Q Would you be willing to autograph one of your books for the Ted Hipple Special Collection of Autographed First-Edition and Out-of-Print YA Books that is housed at my university? I have a first edition of Pagan’s Vows that I’d like to donate to this very special collection. Please let me know. Thanks.

Posted by Joan, Tampa, Florida

A Certainly; if you need to send me any mail, the address is Catherine Jinks, c/o Margaret Connolly and Associates, P.O. Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW 2076, Australia.


Monday, October 26

Q I have found some of my favorite books by skimming titles at my local book store. If the title’s good enough, I usually can tell I’ll buy the book before I even read the description, because titles tell you a lot about how an author writes. So you can imagine that when I found The Reformed Vampire Support Group, well, it was pretty much a done deal. I had given up on the idea of an original vampire novel, something really different that would make me love the genre. You completely delivered just that. I loved The Reformed Vampire Support Group. I loved Nina, who was whiney enough to be real and in such a tough spot all around. I loved – well, all of the other characters. Rueben, and how you made him being a werewolf take a back seat in his character to him being a severely abused kid. I loved how you ended it, with them all sort of critiquing their portrayal in the novel…the whole thing was great. I admit that as I came to the last pages I desperately wished there was more. I will be reading your other books – all of which also have great titles -and recommending this book to all of my friends. Thanks for a great read!

Posted by Jammie, North Carolina

A What a great endorsement! Thank you so much. I hope my other books meet with your approval; The Reformed Vampire Support Group is one of my funnier efforts, but I do try to insert a bit of humour into most of my stories, so with any luck you’ll find something else of mine to enjoy. (I’m afraid the sequel to Reformed Vampire won’t be out in the U.S. for at least eighteen months.)


Saturday, October 24

Q More on Roland’s early years would be good. Perhaps it could be taken from the book Pagan eventually writes about his life? Roland says he has been killing men since he was 12; that’s something I’d like to read more about.

PS I was in Carcassonne in August :o

Posted by Greg, Andover, UK

A Well I envy you, Greg, because I’ve never been to Carcassonne. Can you believe it? The closest I ever got was Avignon. But maybe one of these days …

You know, a book about teenage Roland might just work. It’s a very good idea. Maybe one of these days, when I’ve got the energy for that kind of research (I’m getting so ancient now) …

Q I was walking by Barnes and Noble on Saturday when I saw your book, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, in the window display. I loved the cover art and was instantly intrigued by the title! I went inside and had to find a copy. Since I had never read one of your books, I did not know where to look for The Reformed Vampire Support Group. So I asked and was referred to Teen Fiction. Yet, when I looked through the stacks, I could not find the book. Once again I had to ask an employee, but he couldn’t find it either so he got yet another employee – the official window display person. Together, we exited the store to look at the display. I pointed to the copy I wanted and watched as the third employee went back into the store and climbed through the display in order to fetch it for me. It was quite the adventure. I have since named the episode as The Day of The Store Wide Barnes and Noble Book Hunt. I must say, after having just finished the book, it was certainly worth the effort! I wanted to thank you for writing this book. It was wonderful to witness your re-imagining of the vampire genre. I found the book refreshing, charming, and hilarious. I couldn’t put it down and read the whole book in one sitting! I plan to start re-reading it tomorrow so I can catch all the details I may have missed in my initial read through. It was snarky, it was fresh, and I LOVED it. I intend to tell all my friends to read it ASAP. I especially enjoyed Dave’s character and was soooooo happy that he “got the girl.” He’s the hero in the blue hatchback. I enjoyed the rest of the vampires as well, Nina obviously, but Bridget too. The idea of an elderly vampire nun with hip problems was sheer genius. However I especially loved Nina’s mother. She was formidable, but supportive and strong. Truly a great character, particularly when armed with a Guiness! Please, please tell me you are writing a sequel! And then, please please please tell me when I might expect to buy it! I need more reformed vampires in my life!

Posted by Jenna, Valparaiso, Indiana

A Thank you SO much, Jenna – what a lovely message. And what a relief that you liked the book, after all that trouble! I am in fact writing the penultimate chapter of the sequel, which is to be called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group; the reformed vampires do appear again, several times, but most of the action involves werewolves (namely Reuben and a few brand-new characters). However, I’m afraid it probably won’t appear in America until 2011 some time, because next year I’m publishing two other books in the U.S.! (Living Hell and The Genius Wars.) I suppose if you’re really desperate, you can always get hold of the Australian edition, which should be out in the second half of 2010.

Incidentally, you’re a pretty good writer yourself.

Q I am 10 years old, and I am a BIG fan of the Evil Genius books. I think that the books are pure genius! They are absolutely my favorite books. I think my favorite character is Lexi, from Genius Squad. I like her because she is spunky, and still manages to annoy people, even when there is a dire situation going on. I am not the biggest techy, but the Evil Genius books were fairly easy to comprehend. For an assignment, my teacher told me to write to one of my favorite authors, and of course, you were my first choice. I am waiting in suspense for The Genius Wars to come out in the U.S. By the way, are you coming to Chicago any time soon? That would be great if you were! Also, is Catherine Jinks your real name? When I heard about the Evil Genius books, I begged my parents to go to the bookstore and get the Evil Genius books. I know that you are busy, but it would mean a lot to me if you replied to this letter. Please keep writing!

Posted by Cecila, Chicago

A Do you know what, Cecila? The Genius Wars will be delivered to Australian bookshops the day after tomorrow – October 26th. So if you’re super, super desperate, you might be able to order a copy over the Internet (though it might be a little expensive for you, with the American dollar the way it is). If you’re interested, though, you should go to the website of my Australian publisher, Allen and Unwin. Oh – and you’ll be pleased to know that Lexi makes an appearance in the book, though she doesn’t play as big a role as she did in Genius Squad.

As far as coming to Chicago goes, I’m in the very early stages of looking into a possible American visit in October 2010, when The Genius Wars is released in the U.S. But I don’t know if it will actually happen, and even if it does, I don’t know if my publishers will be sending me to Chicago. I sure hope so, because I’d love to meet you!


Saturday, October 3

Q Would like your autograph for Pagan’s Vows to add to a Special Collection at USF’s Library.

Posted by Joan, Tampa, Florida

A I’d have to mail it, Joan – can you send me a full address, please?

Q I’m Heather Grigsby and I’m 13 years old. I’m in the 8th grade and I go to Jennings County Middle School. I just read The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I have some questions about the book itself and about the writing process. The Reformed Vampire Support Group, I thought it was a very interesting book and that it was a modern, down to earth fairytale (if that makes any sense at all). Because it was very descriptive, it made me think logically and it was just awesome in general (probably because I love vampire books, but that’s beside the point). Here are some questions about the book, Why were there so many vampires in the support group? Why did you make the characters without super powers? Why didn’t the support group just kill Casimir Kucynski themselves? I love how you used your dialogue and description to its full extent, I felt like I was in the book myself. Here are some questions regarding the writing process you used, Would you have wanted to put in more dialogue if you could’ve? How many rough drafts did you make? Approximately, how many steps were there in your writing process? Did you research anything before you wrote the book? How long did it take, from beginning to end, to finish and publish the book? Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Posted by Heather, North Vernon, indiana

A To answer your questions, Heather:

(1) There aren’t really so many vampires in the group when you consider that Casimir was at large for a little while when he first arrived in Australia, and the people he bit could have gone out and bit loads of other people. In fact I was a bit worried that there weren’t enough vampires!

(2) I didn’t give the vampires any super powers because I wanted to make a point about media stereotypes, and about the demonizing of chronic illness, and about how certain people are never as superhumanly glamorous as they might look from a distance (like actresses, for example).

(3) The group didn’t kill Casimir because they’re not monsters – they’re mostly decent, normal people who are struggling to live life as best they can, and people like that don’t deliberately plan to go out and kill other people (as a rule). If they do kill other people, it’s in highly stressful and exceptional circumstances. Besides, they’re against violence. That’s why they’re reformed.

(4) To be honest, I would have loved to include more dialogue from the group meetings, but there’s really too much dialogue in this book already, because that’s what these vampires are like: they sit around and yak-yak-yak instead of getting off their backsides and actually doing something.

(5) It’s usually my third draft that I give to the publishers as a finished manuscript, but in this case it was my fourth, because I started the whole book again after writing the first six chapters.

(6) I usually have the idea, then do a bit of research, then write out a synopsis of the plot, then write the first draft, then read it through and fix it up into the second draft, then read that through and correct whatever mistakes are still in there.

(7) I researched quite a bit about werewolves, and checked the Internet to see if anyone else had come up with the idea of sickly, slacker vampires.

(8) It generally takes between one and two years to get a book published from the time you give it to the publishers to the time it hits the bookshops. Add to that the time it takes to write the book (in this case, I think it was about nine months), and you’ve got about a two to three year process.


Monday, September 28

Q I loved your book Evil Genius and it’s sequel. I was wondering what made you start writing, and how you write for so many age groups.

Posted by Kate, Batesville

A Thanks, Kate. I guess I started writing because I wanted to escape from the real world, into another world where I was in charge (typical geek loner behaviour, I’m afraid.) And I suppose I write for so many age groups because that’s the way ideas come to me: I have an idea, and then I have to work out which age group it suits. Most of my ideas seem to suit teenagers, though; for that reason, I can’t help thinking that I’ve never quite grown up.
Q I want to know If there is a sequel to Genius Squad because I loved it. It was terrific and I want to read more.

Posted by Dominic, Dexter, Michigan

A There will be a sequel, Dexter – The Genius Wars – but it won’t be published in the U.S. until late next year. (Sorry about that!) It will, however, be available in Australia at the end of this year, from publishers Allen and Unwin.


Monday, September 21

Q Wow! You probably hear this all the time but your Genius series is amazing! Evil Genius is my favourite book! It was so powerful that it even got my dad into reading again! Myself and my friends dream of November (the apparent release of The Genius Wars)! I could go on all day how great it is and how awesome it is to see kids around the world apreciate it. But I have just one question (currently) on page 137 of Evil Genius, Vee mentions a computer wiz by the name of Sally, who is she? Have you planned her for The Genius Wars?

Posted by Ashleigh, Maryborough, Queensland

A To be honest, Ashleigh, I just included Sally after I realised that I didn’t have any female computer whizzes in the class – and this was before I dreamed up Lexi or Dot, from Genius Squad. So I just slung the name in without thinking about it much, and haven’t mentioned her since. She’s not a character you’ll be encountering in The Genius Wars.

Thanks for being such an enthuiastic reader, though, and I hope The Genius Wars lives up to your expecations. (It’s kind of scary, when people are looking forward to something so much – makes me nervous that I won’t deliver!)

Q I just read Genius Squad and it was the greatest book I’ve ever read. Really. I was so fascinated by Cadel and the other guys in the team. Unfortunately, I’ve started with the second part, but I’m going to read the first book very soon. As I said it already, your book is great! The book was my motivation to start to learn computer application (and I’m very glad I have started it, because I love it). So, I’m very interested in the third book! :)

Posted by Lena, Germany

A Well that’s great news, Lena! I’m going to tell my friend Richard Buckland that I’ve got someone interested in computer applications, because he teaches computer security and cryptography at university, here in Australia, and he’ll be delighted to know that I’m spreading the word. Richard, in fact, will be making a couple of appearances in the final Genius book – The Genius Wars – which will soon be published in Germany, though I’m not sure exactly when. So if you read that, you’ll see why Richard is going to be so pleased to hear about you.


Monday, September 14

Q I was wondering where you got the idea for this book? I can NOT wait for your next book – they are really well written.

Posted by Adele, Victoria

A I’m not sure which book you’re talking about, Adele. But if it’s Evil Genius, I got the idea from my nephew’s Professor Gangrene action figure; my husband picked it up and said, “Where do these baddies get their degrees from?” And my brother replied, “From the University of Evil, where else?”

I’ve written a lot of books, though, so if you’re interested in one of the others, you’d better tell me

Q I feel the need to thank you for the wonderful stories that you have written which me and my fellow teens can read. I have read only two of your books, Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Evil Genius was a true work of art, it took me a while to read but that was only because it was so well written. It was a absolutely fantastic book, better than Stephen Kings rubbish! TRVG wasn’t bad but I did like the other one more. Thought the ending was a little dull but other than that the book was great. And that’s all I really have time to say. Hopefully I will hear back from you.

Posted by Kaitlin, Townsville, Queensland

A Thanks, Kaitlin. A work of art! Wow! Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Evil Genius has a sequel called Genius Squad, and that the third (and final) book in the trilogy, The Genius Wars, will be published in Australia at the end of this year. So you can keeping reading about Cadel for a little while yet.

Q Well, thanks for the advice. I guess that’s something I have to beat myself into doing XD. Indeed I am talking about MBTI. To make a long story a less long story, the four-letter code is only shorthand and a way of identifying personality types, while the actual type has do with thinking functions. The reason I mentioned INTJ in particular was that Cadel stood out clearly in my mind when I read different stuff about it. Typing fictional characters is typically frowned upon, as typing real people is hard enough. In fact, I’d never seen such a someone match real or fictional match up to an mbti as well as Cadel. There is a correlation between asperger’s and INTJ/INTP (though the specifics are still unresolved). That combined with how well Cadel matches the INTJ description and the fact that Prosper is a psychologist (there’s a number of reasons why HE would want that profession, but regardless it’s a common pattern I’ve observed in writers to give their own interests to their characters) is what made me suspect that. Anyway, I ramble on about this but I do have to control myself so that this post doesn’t end up three pages long, so instead I’ll give you a couple of links you can check out if you’re really interested and you have the time:

Posted by Colby, Central, LA

A Gosh, Colby, you sound like a bit of an expert. I might look up that link sometime; thanks. And thanks for taking the time to explain in more detail. (I just wish I could remember what my letters were …!)


Friday, September 4

Q I have enjoyed reading Evil Genius and look forward to reading your next book. I’m a eight grader and have been assigned a project on Evil Genius. My project requires me to write a song about this book. Can you lend me any ideas?

Posted by Bailey, Brandon, Mississippi

A Gosh, Bailey, that’s a hard one! If there’s one thing I couldn’t do to save my life, it’s write a song! I guess the only thing I can tell you is that I always use other people’s music to imagine scenes when I’m writing, and that when I was writing Evil Genius I listened to Boys of Summer, by Don Henley, quite a lot because it was slightly ominous and lonely-sounding at the same time. That was Cadel’s theme, if you will. (Maybe you should write something that incorporates the Table of Elements code …?)

Q I read the Genius series over the Summer, and I was very impressed (especially by the first book). There was ample evidence in Evil Genius that you were well-researched in Psychology, though I do wonder how much of it was researched and how much of it came purely from your ability to build a character. Are you familiar with the term “INTJ”? (yes, I have INTJ preference myself). Also, do you have any advice for an aspiring young writer?

Posted by Colby, Central, LA

A Are you talking about those Myers-Briggs personality type things? I once did an assessment when I was working for a bank, and I came back extremely introverted – probably because I was brand new on the job (and to the workforce). But apart from that, I’ve not done any psychology. I guess I just have an intuitive sense of how it is to be in other people’s shoes (which makes it kind of hard to have a firm opinion on anything.)

My advice to asiring young writers is to practise, practise, practise – the way you would if you were learning the piano. It’s what I did (especially when I was working as a journalist) and it’s the only way

Q My first question is why does it take so long to publish the book in America (it gets published almost a year later then Aus. I think)? My second question is: Do you stop at schools ever? And if you do (not meant to be a joke, I live there ) will you ever go to China?

Posted by Daniel, Shanghai

A Genius Wars is going to be released by a different publisher in each country, and these publishers have different publishing schedules. (Also, American publishers prefer a longer pre-publication lead time, probably because they have to publicise the book in a much larger market.)

Unfortunately, I’ve never had any schools or publishers offer to pay my way to China on a promotional tour, or I would certainly consider visiting your school!


Wednesday, August 26

Q I was totally amazed about Evil Genius and Genius Squad, and I am desperate to read The Genuis Wars. About when will it come into US stores?

Posted by David, Munich

A I’m flattered that you’re so keen to read The Genius Wars! As far as I know, it’s slated to appear in the U.S. during Fall of 2010, which will probably mean September or October.

Q I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’ve replied so quickly. I’ve been looking around for art competitions and so far I haven’t had much luck. If I find any interesting art competitions, I’ll post it on this board. I’m not sure if most contests allow 3-d models. Thank you! :) By the way I just finished my copy of The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I loved it. I’m looking forward to its sequel!

Posted by Jun X., Albany, NY

A Okay, well, keep me posted on your efforts. I’ll be interested to see what happens. And I’ll try to finish the sequel as quickly as I can!


Thursday, August 14

Q I absolutely L O V E the Genius series!! They’re spectacular! And I know the Australian version of The Genius Wars will hopefully come out in November of this year, and the USA version in 2010. I can’t wait until 2010, is there a way for me to order a copy in Australia when it comes out?

Posted by Andrea, Los Angeles

A I Thanks very much for your thumbs-up! And I’m sure that you’ll be able to order from Australia – either through my publisher, Allen & Unwin, or through an Australian online bookseller such as Booktopia.


Monday, August 10

Q I just got home last Friday, and my showed my mom the model of Thaddeus Roth. She liked it so much she wanted me to possibly send it to some competitions. I liked the idea, but since I don’t own Prosper English or any of your wonderful characters, I want to ask for permission. I had other pictures too like the profile and the full-body one with a supposed tweed jacket on him on the web before, but if you do allow me to send this in for any kind of art competition, I thought it would be good idea to have as few people see it as possible. As for the picture, you can’t quite see it with the picture I’ve sent you, but his beak-like nose is my favorite thing to model in Maya. I didn’t have enough time to uv and texture him, but I hope you like my interpretation even if he’s colorless. I don’t think Prosper would mind.

Posted by Jun X., Albany, NY

A I agree with your mum – it’s a very good model. And noses were always my favourite starting point, when I was drawing cartoons; somehow a nose seems to hold the face together. Personally, I always imagined Thaddeus/Prosper with a little more hair – a kind of modest lion’s mane – but the face is very impressive.

I’ve asked my agent about giving permission, and she wants to know a little more about the competitions you’re planning to enter it for. Can you give me a few details?

Q Really enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group, are you planning to write a sequel or spin-off with the werewolves? Would there be any plans to make a film?

Posted by Kelly, Dundee, Scotland

A I’m writing a sequel at the moment – called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group – but no one’s optioned the books for a film, just yet!


Tuesday, August 4

Q I know I’ve written in before but I looked back at the front cover of Genius Squad and was wondering if my predictions of who the characters were was correct or not, so my question for you is who are the characters on the cover of Genius Squad, thanks. ^^ p.s. I can’t wait to read The Genius Wars! I know it’s going to be awesome!

Posted by Mandi, Centennial

A Well, I sure hope it doesn’t disappoint, Mandi – and to answer your question: from left to right, the characters on the cover of Genius Squad are Lexi, Hamish, Cadel, Devin and Sonja.


Sunday, August 2

Q I love your novels Genius Squad, Evil Genius and The Reformed Vampire Support Group. They were both AMAZING! I noticed earlier in the FAQ message boards someone mentioned getting an Evil Genius section and I was wondering, if I wrote something…if you ever got the time, would you read it and let me know if it’s true at all to characters? That’s one thing I really hate about fanfics and it’d be great if you could skim and give me any tips…I also wanted to see if I could draw mini comics for said fanfic and was wondering if you have access to clearer pics of your characters? Or at least if I could get more detailed descriptions. Mostly of Prosper, Cadel, Gazo ( without his suit ) and Gemini. I’ve looked at the Australian covers but the art style ( while good ) doesn’t show very accurate or to proportion images which makes it kind of hard ^^;; Not to mention most of the characters I’m looking for aren’t there. ^^;;

Posted by Sarah, Florida

A To be honest with you, Sarah, I tend not to read fanfic because it interferes with my own mental projections of the characters and plots. Not that I mind other people doing their own thing with my characters on the Net (as long as they aren’t making money off something that I put a lot of work into creating); I just want to keep my inner vision clear, if you know what I mean. Writing novels isn’t like writing screenplays – it’s not a cooperative venture. Even though your work might end up being read by thousands of people, it’s not written with those people in mind. When I create a world, I do it for me, and I have to be careful of outside influences affecting what I do. So I prefer to work in a vacuum, not knowing what my characters are doing on a dozen different blogs around the world. The whole idea kind of gives me vertigo.

It’s different when people draw pictures, though – because none of my books are graphic novels. I always get a kick out of seeing different pictorial representations of my characters, since I’ve never tried to draw them myself. And though I have a fairly clear idea of what most of them look like, it’s not always a very detailed view. So I’m not super-particular when it comes to appearances – especially when I haven’t provided thorough descriptions in the books.

What I’m trying to say is – I’d love to check out your comic strip, just to see what my characters look like. But I’m not keen to read any fanfic; it’s going to be hard enough coping if someone decides to make a film out of one of my books, since that film is bound to affect my view of the book from that point on.

Q I luv these books! I cant wait to get the next book in the Evil Genius series. :) i might even order the next one from Australia!!! :)

Posted by Kyle, Carmel

A By all means order The Genius Wars from Australia, Kyle; just make sure it doesn’t affect your spelling (because Australian and American spelling can be quite different, and I don’t want to mess up your English homework!) I only hope you enjoy the last book as much as you seem to have enjoyed the first two. Thanks!

Q I just read The Reformed Vampire Support Group and first of all, I thought it was a very refreshing break from the insane Twilight mania, thanks. I’d like to know if you plan to write more stories about Nina and the support group. I thank you again for the experience! I plan to pick up more of your books at the library ASAP.

Posted by Riley, Franklin, TN

A Thank you for your encouraging message, Riley! As a matter of fact, I am writing a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group, though I have to admit Nina won’t be the main character in the next book; she’ll be one of the support players, and the narrator will be a young werewolf called Toby. (You haven’t met him yet.) However, Reuben and Estelle and Father Ramon and Sanford and the rest will all pop up in The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, so you’ll be able to catch up on their activities –when the book is finally published.


Monday, July 27

Q I just finished The Reformed Vampire Support Group & I fell in love with it!! & I was wondering if there’s any chance that there might be a Reformed Vampire Support Group movie? Your an amazing writer!! :}

Posted by Allie, Pelham

A I only wish there was going to be a movie, Allie, but no one’s shown any interest in making one yet! Fingers crossed, though. And I’m glad you enjoyed my book so much.

Q I have a question about the Axis Institute in Evil Genius. On the first page of chapter fourteen (page 129 in my copy), it says that the university was “founded by Dr. Phineas Darkkon, five years ago, because he had a vision.” However, on page 431, it says that the dormitory wing “had been shoved onto the back of the seminary building sometime in the nineteen sixties.” My assumption was that the book took place during more recent years, the book having been originally published in 2005 and the technology reflecting that. It is stated several times that Axis was created specifically for Cadel, so was the 1960s reference an error, or is there something I’ve missed here? I have the American edition, so something might have been edited for it.

Posted by Stephanie, Tennessee

A The Axis Institute was originally a nineteenth-century seminary, which was then turned into a college of some sort and renovated (with additions) during the nineteen-sixties. Phineas Darkkon only took it over after the dormitory wing had already been built. (Sorry if this wasn’t made clear enough in the book.)

Q I’m a huge fan of all your books, especially the Evil Genius series. Like a lot of people, I’m also a fan of Prosper English. For a 3-d modeling camp, I actually decided to model Thaddeus Roth. If it turns out well I might even use it as part of my portfolio for college. I was wondering if you had the time, could I show you the model after I’m done? I could post it on the web and give you the url. I would love it for you to see it when I’m done.

Posted by Jun X., Albany, NY

A I would LOVE to see a computer model of Prosper; apart from anything else, I’m very interested in computer graphics, thanks to a friend of mine who owns a CG company. He’ll actually be making an appearance in The Genius Wars, which has a computer-graphics sub-plot in it. So stay tuned!

Q Two questions. 1. When is The Genius Wars coming out? 2. Is there going to be a movie made for all three books? Thankx.

Posted by Abdul, Oxon Hill

A Alas, no one has yet optioned the film rights to any of the Genius books – I guess I can only hope. But The Genius Wars will be published soon; in Australia it’s due out at the end of this year, and in the U.S. it will hit the shops in the Fall of 2010.


Wednesday, July 15

Q Any updates on when The Genius Wars is going to be published? Sorry, you’ve probably been hearing this question a lot lately. Oh, and thanks so much for your last response! A lot of writers have some kind of FAQ/etc. page on their website, but most of the questions submitted go unanswered. So, thanks!

Posted by Riina, Louisville

A Well, I have to admit I’ve taken a while to answer you this time, but I’m away from home at the moment, and it’s hard to get to a computer. With regards to The Genius Wars, it’s still due to be published in America during fall 2010, but I’m not sure which month. In Australia, it will be out later this year – probably in November.

Q When is The Genius Wars coming out? I read the first two already and enjoyed them and am waiting anxiously. Thank You.

Posted by Gayle, Mission Hills, California

A I really think I should get off my butt and post the latest reported publication dates under my ‘news’ section, because your Genius Wars question is the one people always ask! The answer is that in Australia it will be out later this year, but in the U.S. it probably won’t be available until fall next year. (Sorry – not my fault!)

Q Are you planning on writing a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group?? I finished reading it yesterday and I LOVED it. I’m a fairly big Twilight fan, and I swear this book is almost as (if not as good as) Twilight. You’re a superb writer! Please continue the story…! (p.s. I kept thinking there was a chance Reuben and Nina were gonna get together.)

Posted by Melinda, Canberra

A Thanks so much, Melinda. Yep, I’m writing a sequel at the moment – it’s going to be called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, and I hope you’ll end up enjoying it as much as the first one. But it will be the only sequel; I’m not planning to write a trilogy, or anything. As for Nina and Reuben . . . I dunno if werewolves and vampires are really very compatible, all things considered . . .

Q I love you! I know I might be coming on a bit strong but seriously, you are my favorite author! Up until I started to read Evil Genius I barely ever read but after only a year I’ve read Evil Genius, Genius Squad, and The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Also, I’ve started to write something of my own, thanks for the inspiration, though it probably won’t be as good as any of your books. Oh yeah, I don’t mean to rush you but I wanted to ask when The Genius Wars was going to be released in the U.S.

Posted by Mandi, Centennial

A Wow, Mandi, that’s such a compliment! To know that you’ve got someone interested in reading – it’s the best news a writer can get. Writers like me don’t normally do socially useful things like curing diseases or rescuing people, so when I receive a message like yours I feel as if I’m finally making a concrete and practical contibution to the wellbeing of the global community. Thanks or that! (P.S. The Genius Wars will be published in Australia at the end of the year, and in the U.S sometime during fall 2010.)

Q I really liked the way you wrote The Reformed Vampire Support Group. I am writing a book and I would like some tips on how you keep a plot so tantalizing going for 362 pages. Is there some trick to it? Also, when you create your characters, I noticed they all have such a mysterious history to them, yet you feel like they are right in front of your face, saying, “If that’s what the killer’s mind is like, then we are in trouble.” I can never do that. I have a great plot, but I can never quite fit the right character with the right history. I have always gotten strait A’s in Literature Theory, English Literature, Reading, and Writing, but I always have so many things bopping around in my head, I can never quite get the right things to fit together. P.S I know you most likely get this a lot, but you rock!

Posted by Lilly, Salem

A One thing you should always remember about your characters is that, while it’s important to know all about them yourself, it’s not necessary to include every background detail in the book. When I write historical novels, although I do a lot of research about the period and place in which I’m setting a story, I don’t mention even half of that background material when I’m writing. The main thing is that YOU feel comfortable and in control; if you do, then that will translate into what you’re putting on paper. So when you prepare your characters, you should probably do the same amount of ‘research’ – I always take copious notes on the appearance, history and motivations of my characters, so that I can tell instinctively how they’ll respond to any event, both physically and emotionally. You really have to spend a bit of time with them before you start writing. And you’ll know that your character is fully rounded and ready to stand on its own two feet when it starts hijacking the story a little. (Not a lot; just a little. Sometimes you come to a pre-planned scene and realise that your character isn’t going to act in a certain way after all, because he’s just not that sort of person.)

As for the whole pace of a story – well, that’s more difficult to master. Pace is something you learn with experience. I have to admit, there were parts of The Reformed Vampire Support Group that I worried about, because they involved lots of sitting around and talking (which is what vampires do, of course). That’s why the characters and humour were so important – and why people who aren’t on the same comic wavelength don’t seem to like the book. They probably felt a bit of sag during those long conversations, because they weren’t laughing.
I suppose my advice is that if you have a great plot, don’t try to stretch it out. Just tell it as it falls, and remember that readers don’t always like a breathless, headlong narrative; you have to give them a bit of breathing-room, occasionally.


Thursday, July 2

Q Your Genius books are most definitely the greatest books of all time. I wanted to know if I buy The Genius Wars from Australia, will the differences between it and the American version be really big? I’m worried it’ll be like reading a foeriegn language?

Posted by John, San Mateo

A No, I wouldn’t worry about that, John – American and Australian versions of English are VERY similar; the differences are in the spelling of some words (but not many) and a few dozen words like ‘jumper’ for ‘sweater’ and ‘ute’ for ‘pick-up truck’ – stuff like that. Believe me, whenever I’m in America, no one ever has trouble understanding me, despite my accent!

Q Will there be any more books after Genius Squad and Evil Genius because I have really enjoyed your books and I want to know more about Prosper English and Cadel and all the other characters?

Posted by Jed, Dubbo, NSW

A Good news, Jed; there’s going to be one more book in the series – called The Genius Wars – and it will be published in Australia towards the end of the year (probably November).

Q I was wondering . . . So, the main characters in Babylonne aren’t speaking French or English right? You said they speak lang d’oc. Can you tell me more about that language? Were there other dialects in medieval Europe that have now died out?

Posted by Morgan, Sacramento, California

A I’m afraid it’s a very long time since I did any research into langue d’oc, so I can’t remember much of what I once knew about it; I think it might have a Catalan and even Basque elements to it, but you’d be better off doing a bit of research on the Internet. As far as I know, though, it’s not completely extinct (I believe there are people around the Pyrenees who still employ the odd word). And there are lots of European dialects or languages around – like Basque and Gaelic and Flemish and all kinds of Italian dialects – which, though not widely known, are still being used. I guess Latin was certainly a language that isn’t spoken any more! But as for the more obscure, ancient languages, I’m not a good person to ask about them (though I have to say, it’s a very good question). Maybe if you Google ‘extinct European languages’, or something …?

Q Just wondering because you’re quite a prolific author: do you ever write more than one book at a time? e.g. writing a longer YA novel at the same time as writing a shorter children’s book?

Posted by V, Melbourne

A No, I can’t say I’ve ever actually written two books at once, though I’ve certainly found myself thinking about the next book and turning the plot over in my mind while I’m writing another one. I’ve even produced a synopsis for an unwritten book while writing another one. But I couldn’t keep two books going at once; it would be too hard for me.
Wednesday, June 24

Q Will there be a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group?

Posted by Cat, Nelson

A There certainly will! I’m about halfway through it right now – it’s going to be called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group.

Q That was one of the more unique and certainly enjoyable reads I’ve had in a while. Sometimes I feel kinda silly poking around in the teens section (I’m 24) but It’s so worth it sometimes! Thanks for the read I thought it was great.

Posted by Alex, Toronto

A Thanks, Alex – I just wish I knew what book you were talking about! But I don’t suppose it matters, really; I’ll take all the compliments I can get for anything I’ve written!


Monday, June 15

Q I just got The Reformed Vampire Support Group as a present and I LOVED it. I’m really into Twilight (by Stephenie Meyer) at the moment and reading about a different type of vampires. Thanks so much for writing a great book!

Posted by Gaby, Hobart

A My pleasure, Gaby; how could it not be a pleasure when I get messages like yours to cheer me up? I have to admit, I’m very encouraged by the number of people who like both Twilight and The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It just goes to show how open-minded young readers can be. I had a feeling that Twilight fanicers would object to my book because it debunks the whole ‘glamour-vampire’ genre, but clearly I was wrong. Often the Twilight fanciers enjoy my book even more because they get all the jokes!
Q You are officially one of my all time favourite authors! – and you have probably heard that millions of times, am I right? After reading Evil Genius, Genius Squad and The Reformed Vampire Support Group (which is a perfect refreshment from all the romance vampire novels I’ve read) I have just got to say it myself; you are an oustanding writer! I’m proud that Australia has a writer like yourself. Why, just the other day my friend was saying how there is no Australian writer who was good at writing books – I strongly believe that if he read any of your books, he’d change his view on Australian writers completely :) . Because of those three books, I am now trying to get my hands on any other books of yours – starting with the Pagan Chronicles. ;) Keep up the fantastic work!!

Posted by Vanessa, Brisbane

A Gosh, Vanessa, you have to sit that boy down and give him a good talking-to! No good Australian writers? There are heaps of good Australian writers! It just depends on what he likes, I guess; maybe he’s being steered in the wrong direction. Maybe he just doesn’t like Melina Marchetta or Ursula Dubosarsky because they’re a bit too ‘girly’ for him. But there’s John Marsden and Garth Nix and Emily Rodda and Phillip Gwynne and Marcus Zusack … all of them are becoming famous overseas because they’re so good! And they’re all different too, so there’s bound to be someone in there he’ll like.

But I’m glad that you know better, and I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my books so much. I just hope the Pagan Chronicles live up to your expectations; they’re very different from the other three books, though they have a lot of humour in them too.

Q At the moment I am reading Evil Genius and I want to implore you on your amazing book. It may be big, but us geeks love big novels like this. Good job!!

Posted by Taiya, Oregon

A Yes, thankfully Harry Potter has opened up a whole new world for young adult writers. Once upon a time we were told, “kids won’t read big books”. But now kids have demonstrated, beyond all doubt, that they do read big books – as long as those books are interesting enough. So the publishing world is now ready for Evil Genius and its sequels. (Though I have to admit, number three will be the shortest of the lot; reading big books might be a cinch, but writing them isn’t!)

I’m pleased that you’re a geek, Taiya; I love geeks. I’m a bit geeky myself, though I have next to no computer skills (believe it or not). Thanks so much for your kind words!


Friday, June 12

Q Though it may not be the greatest or most insightful question about your book, I’m interested in knowing which character is which on the cover of your book (aside from Nina and Gladys). Something about knowing the character’s identities gives me an idea as to why they are viewed the way they are. Thanks for your time, and I loved the book. Two thumbs up!

Posted by Miguel, New York City

A The hairy guy crouching on the ground is Reuben, the hairy guy standing behind Nina is Dave, the vampiric-looking character with slicked-back hair is Horace, and the guy with the guinea-pig on his shoulder is Sanford. The little old lady is Bridget and the girl in the middle is Nina – Gladys and George don’t appear on the cover because we couldn’t fit everyone in, and they’re the two most minor players in the book.

I’m so glad you liked the story, because it doesn’t appeal to everyone. The people who like it seem to have an extremely well developed sense of humour – so I guess that includes you!

Q Thank you for writing The Reformed Vampire Support Group! Thank you so much! I love vampires and werewolves and that stuff but I absolutely hate all the disgusting romance stories out there. Your book was just really creative. I couldn’t put it down, even thought I was dead tired this morning! It’s just addicting, and I have a whole list of new books to read from you. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for more books like that? If that’s not too confusing!

Posted by Kaitlin, Loveland

A Thank you so much for being so enthusiastic! I’m afraid I haven’t written any other vampire/werewolf stories (though I’m writing a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group right now), but if you’re looking for another humorous-type vampire book, I’ve heard there’s one called Life Sucks (I think) which is supposed to be pretty good. As you say, a lot of vampire novels are fairly serious – maybe what you should do is see what Amazon recommends to people who enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Or maybe google “vampire”, “humorous”, and “young adult fiction”.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

Q I’ve been a fan of your Pagan books for years, and I just finished reading Babylonne. I love how your books accurately portray medieval life. They also provide a glamourless portrayal of warfare and fighting that is hard to find in fiction. Thank you for being such an entertaining, didactic author!

Posted by Morgan, Sacramento, California

A I’ve certainly tried to be as accurate as possible, over the years, because of my history training – so I’m glad someone appreciates what an effort it can be! It certainly isn’t easy, finding medieval reference material all the way out here in Australia, I can tell you. As for glamourless – well, let’s face it: glamourless is my specialty. I’ve written about glamourless vampires, glamourless witches, glamourless ghosts… in fact somebody once called me the great debunker. I can’t even impose any glamour onto my everyday life, I’m afraid. (You only have to look at me to see that!)

Thanks, Morgan; it’s nice to know that Babylonne’s finding an audience out there, even though it isn’t as flashy as some of my other books.


Saturday, June 6

Q I just finished The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It was very funny; it was the first book of yours I have read. I got it at Borders and my mom said “Why don’t you just stay here and read it – it will only take you an hour or two!” But I said, “Mom I like to reread stuff “. And she said, “I can’t see how fast you read!” So wait – what was I talking about? Oh yeah – after reading the reformed vamps book I said: hey, I am going to look at the website. So the next time I go to the library I am getting Evil Genius!!! P.S. Sorry for grammar and capitalization and stuff; I am just not really good at typing – it messes me up….

Posted by Lilly, Roxbury

A Never mind, Lilly – I fixed it up for you! And I’m glad you enjoyed The Reformed Vampire Support Group enough to want to read Evil Genius. (I’m sorry it took so long to reply, by the way; I’ve been frantic over here, because I’m getting ready for a visit to Canada and the U.S.)


Saturday, May 30

Q I wrote after reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group to tell you how much I enjoyed it – now I need to let you know that I loved Evil Genius. I feel sort of silly though – I am an educator so I feel justified in reading young adult fiction but at the same time I struggle with the need to explain WHY I read it instead of just enjoying it. I have a hard time with the distinction between young adult and regular adult fiction. How do you distinguish between the two?

Posted by Catherine, St. Louis

A Good question. I suppose what distinguishes young adult from adult fiction is that most young adult fiction has a youthful main character and a brisk plot. What’s more, young adult fiction can’t be too depressing; there has to be a modicum of hope in a kids’ book, because it’s not fair to deprive kids of hope. And the style can’t be too complex or tortuous, with too many really long or obscure words.

Personally, I’ve written for both adults and young adults, and I’ve found that while you can get away with almost any farfetched idea in a kids’ book (adults are much more cautious about accepting strange or fantastical set-ups), what you can’t get away with is a sluggish or gently drifting kind of pace. Kids like plot-driven stories, no matter how interesting the characters might be. I also tend to avoid too much sex or violence in my kids’ books – and when I do portray violence, I try to ensure that it has deeply unpleasant, emotionally traumatic consequences; that it’s serious and not fun. I can’t speak for other authors, but I often wonder if the popularity of young adult fiction among many adults stems from these general features – that many adults aren’t finding such qualities in adult fiction, and are looking for them elsewhere.

Q I attend the “Marian College” high school. Every year they give you the option of entering a competition where you read as many books as you can in a certain period of time (Premiers Reading Challenge). Well I decided to give it a go and the first book I read was Pagan’s Crusade; I absolutely loved it, in fact I ended up reading the rest of the series and loved it even more! I was pretty sad when I finished Pagan’s Daughter (which had a perfect end) because I wanted to see more, so instead I started to read some of your other books. Only today I was given the full cassette of your book Eye to Eye; I was also given a bag with the title of another of your books, The Reformed Vampire Support Group. All this came from the nice ladies from my school Library because I seem to be the one who reads your books one after another. Well anyway, I should thank you for writing such terrific books and I hope to be seeing some more too. By the way, I think you should write an epilogue to the first Pagan book, except base it on Roland’s life at Castle Bram before he joined the Templars.

Posted by Rhys, Sydney

A Aha! So you got one of my publisher’s special ‘Reformed Vampire’ bags! Excellent! I’m glad it went to a true fan. I’m also glad that you’re enjoying my books; you might find that you also like Living Hell and the Genius series, if they happen to be in your school library.

I think a story about Roland’s early life might be a prologue rather than an epilogue, since it happened before Pagan’s Crusade. The trouble is, it would also be before Pagan entered Roland’s life, and I’m not sure if I could write about Roland without Pagan. Maybe someone else could, but I couldn’t. They’re just indelibly connected in my mind.

Still, I’m glad you like the books so much that you actually want more of them!

Q So, I just finished reading The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I LOVED IT! It was SO much better than the ridiculous Twilight series! Thank you so much for tackling a new and delightful side of fantasy! I cannot wait to make everyone read this book! So much better than Stephenie Meyer! It was wonderful! Thanks for writing it!!!

Posted by KMurphy, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

A And thank you so much for your enthusiastic endorsement! It’s nice to know that someone prefers my book to the Twilight series; I figure Stephenie Meyer has so many fans, she could probably spare me one or two!


Friday, May 22

Q I’m just going to start by saying I finished The Reformed Vampire Support Group and found it a refreshing break from the constant push of beautiful and superhuman vampire romance stories which have recently swamped the shelves, thanks so much for such a new take on an age old legend. I’d also like to take the chance to say good on ya for showing the world you don’t need an American or European setting to get a good story! Kudos for being such a recognisable Australian writer, I find it unimaginably inspirational. Anyways like many I’m a fan of Evil Genius and Genius Squad, I haven’t enjoyed books that good for a while now and I’m glad I finally picked yours up! I’m thinking of doing my own writing and was wondering if you could give me a little advice on character development. Yours seem to mature and interact so well within their worlds and relationships. How did you manage to create such memorable personas? Is there a process? A profile? Or was it just instinct and thought that made you sit down and go ‘Hmm well such and such would obviously say this and then that person would do this and from that he/she would form this opinion.’

Posted by April, Townsville, Queensland

A Hmmm. Character development. To be honest, April, it’s become second nature to me, and I find it a bit hard to analyse exactly what I do, but I guess the point to remember about characters is that they don’t live in isolation; no man is an island, and all that. Though your story might deal with your character’s future, he or she also has a past, and the more you think about that past, the better your character will be. Because a character’s past, to a great extent, dictates behaviours and emotional responses.

What’s more, you have to consider your character in relation to the other two (or three or four or five) characters that he or she spends the most time with. It’s the interraction between them that actually moulds your character throughout the story. And the more different they all are, the more exciting their exchanges will be, because it will be a continuous tug-of-war. That’s ESPECIALLY important if you have a lot of characters, the way I do sometimes. Wherever you’re writing about a whole crowd of people, there needs to be a great deal of character contrast, right down to their immensely different physical characteristics. Otherwise they become all muddled up in the reader’s mind.

My last piece of advice is to take copious notes before you start writing. Make sure you know your characer back to front, even though you’re not necessarily going to include all his likes and dislikes and hobbies and school records etc etc in the book. You’ll feel more confident if you know the person really well, and that will mean you can fall easily into imagining how he would respond to things.

Q Evil Genius and Genius Squad are my two favourite books of all time and I’m wondering if you can please recommend any other books that are in the same sort of category as the Genius series. Also I’m wondering when the release date will be for Australia! Thanks and keep up the good writing!

Posted by Chris, Melbourne

A Gee, Chris, that’s quite a compliment. Favourite books of all time! Thanks very much! I’m afraid I’m not a very good person to ask for reading advice (you’d be better off asking a children’s librarian) but I guess I can point you in the same direction as online bookstores like Amazon; you might want to try the Artemis Fowl series (if you haven’t already, which seems unlikely) and the book H.I.V.E, by Mark Walden. As for the Australian release date for The Genius Wars, I think it’s going to be November or December, but that will kind of depend on my publishers.

Q Firstly let me just so I’m just GIDDY with excitement at the prospect of getting a possible reply to you. I love your Evil Genius series and am counting down the days until The Genius Wars. I’ve got to say I almost cried when I found out that Prosper wasn’t Cadel’s father. I came up with about 1000 theories as to why it might be false…heh heh I suppose you can’t at the moment confirm if any would be true or not because if they were it’d be a major spoiler. Though I have to ask, will Prosper have the same sort of feelings for Cadel or will it be simply an ‘out to kill the kid who knows too much’ attitude from everyone’s favorite villain? Anyways Prosper/Thad is my favorite character. I’ve noticed he has a rather large fanbase, did his popularity surprise you at all? I wonder how he’d react to all the admirers/fans/support he has…Lastly I’ve heard you, like me, live in Brisbane and was wondering if you have any plans for book signings or such around these parts. Have you ever heard of the supernova pop culture festival or the recent Gencon? Both have large turn outs and, while aimed at a more gaming/comics/anime & manga community your addition to a panel would be wonderful! Once again I adore your books, can’t wait until November!

Posted by Alice, Brisbane

A To tell the truth, Alice, though I was certainly born in Brisbane, I haven’t lived there since I was a toddler. Sorry. Nowadays I live in the Blue Mountains, outside Sydney. As for the Prosper/Thaddeus situation … well, I can’t talk about paternity at all, but let me just say that the feelings between Cadel and Prosper are way too complicated to be reduced to a mere ‘kill the kid who knows too much’ attitude. And I wasn’t really thinking about other people’s reactions when I first wrote Evil Genius – I created Prosper for me, not for anyone else – but I’m not entirely surprised that he’s developed a fanbase. Because he’s certainly my favourite character. (At least, he’s the most fun to write about.) What’s more, it’s my opinion that he’d have the same attitude as me: he wouldn’t be at all surprised at his own fanbase, since I don’t think he suffers from low self-esteem.

It’s funny you should have mentioned those big pop-culture gatherings like Gencon because the one thing I’d really, really like to do is go to Comicon, in the U.S. I reckon that would be fantastic. Maybe one day I will …

Q If The Genius Wars comes out in November 2009 in Australia can we still get it in America? And will the Australian “version” be different in some way?

Posted by David, Boston

A As far as buying it goes, I feel sure that you’d be able to order it over the Internet, either from my Australian publisher – Allen and Unwin – or from an Australian-based online bookstore, like Booktopia. But it will be slightly different from the eventual American version, though I’m not sure how different because I haven’t done my American edit just yet. Certainly the spelling will be Australian, and some of the words will be Australian: you don’t seem to have things like terrace houses or nature strips in the U.S.; you have parking lots instead of carparks, garbage cans instead of rubbish bins … that kind of thing. I would, however, be quite surprised if there were any big structural changes.


Tuesday, May 19

Q I’ve already said this, but I’m going to say it again. You Rock at writing! =] I love the Genius series and am patiently, as in banging my head against an invisible wall, awaiting The Genius Wars. Just one more year!! Ok, this message thing isn’t completely pointless. -haha- I was actually seeking writing advice. Or in other terms constructive criticism. I know you are probably really busy and all, but it would be so wonderful if you could check out my book-in-progress (cross my fingers). If not, then that’s completely ok! I will just put the link below this message. Once again, You Rock!! Keep up your writing!!

Posted by Nicole, Brooklyn, IA

A Well, Nicole, I checked out the link you posted, and was very impressed by your writing style. You have a terrific flow to your sentences, and an almost perfect grasp of punctuation – almost. If I were you, though, I’d proof-read the text a little more carefully; for instance, you should always refer to a person (ie. the mother) as ‘who’, not ‘that’.

Since you’re not finished the book, it’s hard to say any more; I certainly found it a surprising read, because I was well on the way to expecting some kind of creepy horror story and then suddenly it turned into a kind of fantasy Marvel-comic-type plot. I’m not sure how old you are (a teenager?), but my honest opinion is this: I think you’re a born writer who needs to mature a little more. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the time you finish this book, you might have matured so much that you want to go back and rework it a little. And if you don’t end up finishing it, that’s nothing to be ashamed of either – because not finishing stories is a part of growing up. When you are maturing, the process is often so rapid that you grow out of a story before you complete it. I was like that myself.

The title, by the way, is brilliant. I do think you’ve got an enormous amount of talent, but it’s still a bit raw. You just need a touch more practice.

Q I love The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I was wondering if you were planning to turn that into a book series?

Posted by Dustin, Elsinore, California

A As a matter of fact, Dustin, I am planning a series! But only a very short one. I’m currently writing a sequel called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, which will probably be published in Australia some time next year. (I’m not sure when it will appear in the U.S., England or Germany.) There’s only going to be one sequel, however.

Q I just finished reading your book The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and I wanted to know if you planned on making a sequel to it? Thanks!

Posted by Alexis, Chicago

A I’m very glad there’s already so much interest in a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group! It’s most encouraging! As you can see from the above reply, Alexis, I am writing a sequel, called The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. And once I have some idea of the U.S. publication date, I’ll certainly post it.


Tuesday, May 12

Q Can you tell me when your new book The Genius Wars is going to come out? I’m in love with the series and I would love to know when it comes out! I really would like to know, so please reply to this message even if you can’t tell me when exactly.

Posted by Tristan, Orem, Utah

A Well, Tristan, I’m afraid it’s not going to come out in the U.S. until 2010 some time, though in Australia it may be published towards the end of this year. So I guess you’ll have a long wait uless you get hold of an Australian copy, somehow. I’m sorry about that, but I’m glad you like the series so much.

Q I am a 40 year-old mom who works with at risk kids in urban youth programs and I just discovered The Reformed Vampire Support Group. What an awesome book! I have been troubled by the Twilight books and the message they may send to young women, and your book is the perfect response!!! It is smart, funny, well written….I am just loving it! I am not opposed to Ms. Meyer’s work – I just think that you offer a perfect alternative. I look forward to reading your other books.

Posted by Catherine, St. Louis

A Well, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it, Catherine, and that you appreciate what it’s about. I’ve noticed that some people love the book and some don’t, and the ones who love it always talk about how funny it is, and the ones who don’t never mention humour at all. Which suggests to me that my fans are people with a certain comedic sensibility; unless you laugh at certain things, you’re not going to get this one.

Never mind. As you say, the important thing is that there’s a whole spectrum of vampire experiences out there – including a book for an audience comprised (as one blog has put it) of readers who spend all night playing computer games with leg-warmers on their arms.

Q I just read The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Why??? are your vampires so unlike the strong and glamourous Anne Rice vampires, or Christopher Moore’s somewhat goofy but still super-human undead? I am intrigued but disturbed.

Posted by Mari, Ukiah, California

A I guess the simple answer is that I was sick of reading about people with special powers. I think it’s much more interesting when people overcome serious problems, rather than starting out with superhuman abilities. Mind you, I hadn’t even heard of Stephanie Meyer when I first had the idea of a miserable group of couch-potato vampires in therapy; her name was only added to the book when I was proof-reading it, so the book wasn’t written in response to Twilight. It was just written as a response to the genre

Also, I’ve found that inverting stereotypes can be very funny. And this book is meant to be funny. (For a fuller discussion of my motivations, there’s an interview I did with the Australian website Booktopia – you can view it here.)


Friday, May 8

Q I love your books. Evil Genius and Genius Squad are my two favorite books and I am dying to read The Genius Wars! I live in Peru and I want to know when it will be available in Peru, but I would like to read it in the English version and I want to know when I can buy it. Thanks, keep writing and make The Genius Wars exciting.

Posted by Juan, Lima, Peru

A Wow, Juan! Peru! I sure don’t get many messages from your part of the world – thanks for making contact!

Well, at this point I believe that The Genius Wars will be published in Australia towards the end of this year, and in the U.S. around the middle of next year. I’m not sure where your English-language books generally come from, in Peru, but my guess would be the U.S. So you may have a bit of a wait. (Sorry.)

Q I must say that Evil Genius and Genius Squad are some very good books. I am currently re-reading Genius Squad and finished Evil Genius about two weeks ago. The plot is brillant and the characters are AWESOME. I am counting down the days until The Genius Wars comes out! I hoping it will be just as good as your first two!

Posted by Brett, Missouri

A It’s good to hear from you, Brett, and I’m so glad you enjoyed my books. I’m afraid you’ll have a bit of a wait for The Genius Wars (unless you order it from Australia), but I’ve got another book that’s just come out in the U.S. called The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It’s not terrifically techno, but it’s got a large cast of peculiar characters, just like the Genius books so . . . who knows? You might like it. (Only thing is, the main character’s a girl . . . )


Sunday, April 26

Q I LOVE Evil Genius and Genius Squad. This question has been bugging me for weeks: Will we be seeing more of Com and/or Dot in The Genius Wars? I can’t wait for the book to come out!

Posted by Riina, Louisville

A The good news is that both Dot and Com play a big role in The Genius Wars, but that’s all I’m going to say about them because I don’t want to spoil things for anyone! Thanks very much for your interest, though; I’m sorry the book won’t be out in America until next year.

Q I was interested to know, as a professor of education who specializes in image literacies (and a fan of Jinks’ works), if she has ever considered having her young adult novels adapted into graphic novel format??? Thanks so much! :)

Posted by Kate, Jacksonville, Florida

A I’ve never considered this because no one’s ever asked me if they can do it. My Australian publisher knows what it takes to get a graphic novel into print and when I mentioned your question to her she kind of rolled her eyes. “I suppose if someone had about twelve years to spare …” she said. But she was talking about the ‘Genius’ books, which are all very big. I think something like Living Hell (which will be published in America towards the end of the year and which is pretty much all hard action) might be an easier candidate for a graphic novel.


Sunday, April 19

Q I’m a fan of the Genius series and a writer myself, but I was wondering why you made Cadel so indecisive. I love his character but those moments of indecisiveness only cause him pain and, not trying to sound conceited, pain me (or whoever else caught this, I repeat not trying to sound conceited). So I was just wondering.

Posted by Jeremy, Fayetteville, Georgia

A I don’t know if I make many conscious decisions regarding a character’s emotional reactions while I’m writing; I just try to think myself into the character’s head, then respond appropriately. So I guess that means Cadel is indecisive because I am!

Q My name is Perla and I work at a library in San Diego and I’m a huge fan of The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Once read it I immediately fell in love with your amazing story and it’s compelling characters. I want my teens to get better acquainted with you and this fantastic book.

Posted by Perla, Imperial Beach, California

A Thanks so much, Perla. It’s nice to know that my vampire book is getting out to the public libraries already!

Q I finished Genius Squad today and I have to say I loved the ending. Very happy! I’m glad the sequel won’t take as long as Genius Squad did! I just saw the book trailer for America, I didn’t like it much. My question is will there be a movie? If so, you should make Cadel look younger than he is.

Posted by Art, Launceston, Tasmania

A I’m so glad you enjoyed Genius Squad, Art. At present no one seems inclined to make a movie out of it, and if they ever do I’m sure to have zero input into the casting. But I agree; Cadel should be made to look younger than he is (and not as tall as the kid in the trailer).

Q When can I read The Genius Wars at Germany?? I can’t live without it! Please!

Posted by Marie, Manchen, Germany

A Oh dear. You sound a bit desperate. The problem is that my publishers in Australia have only just begun to edit The Genius Wars, and my German publishers will only get the book to translate when that edit is finished. So the text won’t reach Germany until mid-year, and then it has to be translated into German.

Realistically, I don’t think you’ll get The Genius Wars over there until at least mid-2010, though you might be lucky. Sorry, Marie! I wish the news was better.


Wednesday, April 1

Q I know this isn’t a question, but Evil Genius made it into ( Just thought you might want to know. It was only added a few days ago, and is rather empty.

Posted by Madeline, USA

A Wow! Thanks for telling me, Madeline. And I hope everyone reading this will immediately go and remedy the ‘emptiness’ situation over there. Otherwise I might have to do something really crass, like fill it up myself (under pseudonyms).

Q Why do you like to write?

Posted by Olivia, Maryland

A The sad truth is, I like to write because my life isn’t enough for me. I want to be other people, and escape the real world. You’ll find that a lot of writers are like that. If they were happy being themselves, they wouldn’t be writers.

Q Call me clueless, but I just realized that Luther is also the name of one of the villains in some cartoon book. Was that an intentional pun, or totally accidental?

Posted by Mandy, Lake Forest

A Totally accidental, I assure you – though it’s possible I was subconsciously aware of Luther being a villain’s name. But it’s also rather similar in sound to ‘ruthless’, and that may also have influenced me.

Q I am your BIGGEST FAN!!! I am TOTALLY obsessed with Evil Genius and Genius Squad! I don’t think I can wait until November! Do you think you could give us Genius series lovers a hint of what’s going to happen in Genius Wars! I’m dying to know! Even just the blurb? Before I start to hyperventilate I better talk about something else! I’m writing a book (which obviously won’t be as good as yours . . . but still) and I was wondering if you could give me a peice of advice about characters or writing styles or . . . I don’t know, anything! I LOVE writing, it’s my favourite thing to do (besides reading your books) and I would love nothing more than to grow up like you (I’m 13)! Please reply!!!

Posted by Claudia, Hobart

A As far as my tips on writing go, you might want to check out some of the other pages on my website – there are sections for school projects and teachers that might help you. But probably my most important tip for preventing writer’s block is to find some music that will serve as theme music for your story; that way, whenever you hear the music, you will receive a mood kickstart – and it will also help you to visualise certain important scenes. (My other tip for preventing writer’s block is to write out a plan, or synopsis, before you start the book. I always do.)

But I can’t tell you too much about The Genius Wars, Claudia! It will spoil things for everyone else! All I can say is that Prosper/Thaddeus will be back, and so will Gazo and Saul and Judith and Sonja and some other old favourites. Also – and here’s a hot piece of gossip – there’ll be a trip to America! That’s all I’m going to reveal, though.

Q Your books are fantastic! The dialogues between Cadel and Thaddeus are brilliant! I hope Thaddeus won’t die in The Genius Wars. You said that it will be released in Australia in November 2009. Do you know how I can order it from Germany? Is there something like Amazon which will ship it to Germany?

Posted by Tanja, Heilbronn

A Thanks so much, Tanja – it’s wonderful to hear from someone in Germany. And I’m pretty sure Amazon would be able to ship an English-language book to Germany, once it’s available at all. (I’m not sure how soon after publication a book becomes available from Amazon.) Judging from your letter, I guess you won’t have much trouble reading the Australian version!

Q Can you please write some books about Roland and his childhood? As much as I love Pagan as a character, I also love Roland and would love to hear more about his life, family and brothers. Do you plan to write any books about Roland? You are the best author ever! Keep up the great work!

Posted by Geraldine, Northern Ireland

A Gosh! Northern Ireland! I didn’t know anyone was reading the Pagan books over there! I’m so glad you like them, Geraldine, and I’m sorry I don’t have any immediate plans to write any more – especially about Roland. Maybe one day if I celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of Pagan’s Crusade (come to think of it, that’s only about six or seven years away), I might do a short story featuing the three brothers, but I can’t help thinking it might be a bit depressing. Since they obviously had such lousy childhoods . . .

Q I really love your Evil Genius series. I can’t wait until the third one comes out, though it will be in 2010. Bummer! Anyway, I would like to ask the question have you ever thought of Cadel being a Christian? Are you a Christian? You don’t have to answer those questions if you don’t want to, no offence to me if it’s too personal. :)

Posted by Ali, Gainsville

A I honestly don’t know if Cadel is Christian or not – since there are a lot of ways of being Christian, and some of them don’t involve much more than going to church at Christmas and Easter. Personally, I’m an agnostic (though I’m very, very interested in the history of the Catholic church.) I don’t think I know enough to know anything, one way or another.

Q I just wanted to let you know that your books Evil Genius and Genius Squad are phenomenal. Like many others they are my favorite books. Thanks so much for doing everyone a huge favor and coming up with an actually good teen read.

Posted by Anna, Ithaca

A Thanks so much, Anna – I really appreciate your good wishes. Messages like yours (and most of the other ones on this website) are hands-down the best part of being an author.

Q I tried to read through the message board to see if this question had already been asked but there were just too many questions! XD (Mrs Jinks you have a very strong fan base, you should be proud.) Anyway my question is if you will have another Babylonne book – she is one of my favorite characters ever! I also love Pagan and Roland. I was so sad when he died =(. The way I think is very much like the way Babylonne does, and I was adopted so I don’t know my birth parents either just like her. Not knowing your parents seems to be a repeating theme, were you adopted too? Thanks for answering my questions; you are one of my favorite authors! P.S. I think Isidore, Pagan, and Roland make great adoptive dads.

Posted by Sarah, St. Johns, Michigan

A You know, there is a possibility that I might write one more book about Babylonne; not immediately, but some time in the future. I feel as if her story hasn’t come to an end, yet. And I’m glad that you feel she’s a convincing character, because I wasn’t adopted, myself; I guess the reason so many of my characters don’t know their birth parents is because a lot of my books have the theme of looking for love/a home. It’s an important theme in life, I think.

I agree with you about Isidore, Pagan and Roland. I too think they make great adoptive dads.

Q I was just doing a reread of your Pagan books the other day and I remembered something that I have wondered about each time I read them and so I thought I would finally see if I could get an answer! Sorry if this has been asked before, by the way – I had a quick look through the older messages but wasn’t brave enough to take them all on. So, my question: At the end of Pagan’s Crusade Saladin says something to the effect of Pagan looking familiar, but nothing was ever mentioned about it again. To my mind, this sounded like the kind of leading statement that authors use to link to a later work – is it? Or was it just something that you thought about but didn’t end up taking anywhere? I guess it must be the latter, as none of the later books mention anything about it, but if you had followed up on that kind of idea (Pagan being known to Saladin), what do you think you would have done with it?

Posted by Bridget, Canberra

A I have a confession to make, Bridget; I was going to do something with that idea about Pagan’s parentage, but circumstances prevented me. You see, I was going to make Pagan the son of one of Saladin’s favourite offsiders, but then when Pagan and Roland went off to France, the whole thing became too hard. Though there were some medieval legends about Saladin coming to Europe in disguise, and I could have built on those . . . well, I just thought it would be too much of a distraction. So I let it all slide.

Q You seem to be very well informed about the middle ages and the Cathars. I have a symbol that is attached to my family which I would like you to comment on – it is a jpg file so if you send me a return email I can attach it.

Posted by Jan, Hobart

A If you think it might be a Cathar or medieval symbol, Jan, I doubt I’ll be able to help you. I’m not an expert on medieval symbols, and it’s been so long since I did any research into medieval times that most of what I once knew has slipped my mind anyway. (I was recently in Europe, and was appalled at how much I’d forgotten about the symbols used to identify various saints – I couldn’t tell one from the other, because I couldn’t remember who held the book and who held the wheel.) You’d be better off doing some research on the Internet. Maybe google ‘medieval religious symbols’ or ‘Cathar symbolism’ or ‘medieval heraldry’ or even ‘medieval astrological symbols’. Something like that.

Q I am currently in the process of reading, no devouring, Evil Genius and I noticed an inconsistency that should be remedied for future editions. On page 89 of the hard cover version of the book, Stuart makes references to “Football,” “Soccer” and “Rugby.” However when they are first discussing college choices for Cadel, it is mentioned that he should stay in Sydney. As you are from Australia I feel that it is safe to assume that it is none other than the famous Australian city that you are referring to so would it not be more correct to have references to “American football,” “Football” and “Rugby”? I am no expert when it comes to any culture other than my own, but this possible inconsistency warrants, I believe, the possibility of making a fool of myself for the sake of Academia.

Posted by Ian, Gallup, New Mexico

A Yes, the book is set in Australia, and I guess that the whole football thing should have been clarified for a North American audience. Basically, in Australia, ‘football’ can refer to soccer, rugby and Australian Rules football (as well as American gridiron, though almost no one over here has anything to do with American football, and rarely makes reference to it). Stuart is speaking as an Australian would – referring to football, then clarifying the word by offering up various options. It might be a bit confusing for an American audience, though.

Q I love your Evil Genius series. I finished the first two books in two weeks (you caused me a lot of sleep loss). I was just wondering if you could tell me what The Genius Wars is about (the plot).

Posted by Jarrad, Brisbane

A Dear me – there are a lot of people who want to know the plot of The Genius Wars! All I can tell you, Jarrad, is what I told Claudia, just a few questions up. (If I went into any more detail, it would spoil the things for everyone else.) And I’m very sorry to hear that you’ve lost sleep because of my books. I have to say, as the mother of a 12-year-old, it makes me feel a bit guilty – though as an author, it’s hugely gratifying. I have to admit, I’m torn between pleasure and pain.


Monday, March 9

Q Was Hitchcock’s North by Northwest an influence on the Genius books at all?

Posted by V, Melbourne

A No, not at all – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen that film all the way through. Interesting question, though. Maybe I’ll have a look at it again.


Tuesday, February 17

Q I love your books Catherine, quite frankly. I’m only 12 years old and I can’t wait for the third Cadel book to come out and same with the Vampire book. When will they be published?

Posted by Mitchell, Freeport

A Thanks, Mitchell! The Reformed Vampire Support Group will be published in Australia and the U.S.A in April, but publication dates for The Genius Wars are more problematic. That book may be out in Australia this November, but it certainly won’t be available in the U.S.A until 2010.


Sunday, February 15

Q I am lucky enough to work for my local public library and got to look at an advanced copy of The Reformed Vampire Support Group. But I don’t understand the reference you make to Boris Karloff when describing Horace. Bela Lugosi played Dracula – Karloff was Frankenstien’s monster. Or is Horace supposed to be tall and blocky like Karloff and dressed like Lugosi’s Dracula?

Posted by Marti, Rapid City, South Dakota

A Well, Marti, this is a classic example of why writers need very, very good proof readers and copy-editors. (You’d probably make a good one yourself.) Someone should have picked that up, and questioned me on it, because you’re right; Bela Lugosi would probably have made more sense, since Bela Lugosi was so notoriously addicted to wearing Gothic clothes in real life. But I think what I was trying to do was combine a classic old horror-film name (which has all kinds of vaguely creepy connotations) with the images that spring to mind when you think of The Rocky Horror Show. I was referring to Horace’s outfit, rather than his physical appearance; he was wearing an outfit that an old-time horror star would have worn if he’d joined the cast of The Rocky Horror Show.

Q I have written a poem based on Evil Genius. I would like to send it to you. Is that possible?

Posted by Caleb, Kannapolis

A I would love to read your poem, Caleb; in fact I’d love to see it posted on this message board. Would you like to do that? Because it would be nice if other people could read it.


Saturday, February 7

Q I just noticed something. In Evil Genius Vee mentions Sally. Was this just filler or something you wanted to or are going add more too? I assume she was a student who died or something or his girlfriend?

Posted by Madeline, USA

A Yes, it was just filler – I wanted to show that there were a reasonable number of students without showing the students themselves (since there were already more than enough characters in that book).


Wednesday, February 4

Q I was just creeping along the net, and decided to google my favorite book series. Evil Genius, of course! I really enjoyed reading your books, because I can relate to them, besides the age gap. Thanks for writing them! Can’t wait for The Genius Wars in 2010!

Posted by Joel, Fredericksburg

A Thanks, Joel! Much obliged! And I hope The Genius Wars measures up; it’s always a bit nerve-racking when readers are really looking forward to a sequel – you get scared that you’re going to disappoint them.

Q Hey, just wondering, are any of the Axis Insitute people (besides Prosper English, of course) going to be in The Genius Wars? The title seems very ominous. To me, at least. I have two questions. 1)When is The Genius Wars coming out in Australia? 2)How can I order an Australian copy before it comes out in America? By the way, I’m sitting at my computer with Babylonne in front of me, and I keep periodically stopping, picking it up, and reading it. I will most likely stay up way too late tonight in order to finish it. Very good so far, just like all the Pagan books. I’ve recommended them to my mom, who’s a seventh grade history teacher, but she has yet to read them. I’ll bug her more the next time we have a vacation from school. I can’t wait to see if I can get my hands on The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It sounds hilarious!

Posted by Mandy, Lake Forest

A I appreciate your devotion to my output as a whole, Mandy; it’s nice to know I have readers out there who can skip from fantasy to historical fiction without any trouble. As far as your questions are concerned: well, the new book does feature several people from the Institute (apart from Prosper) – primarily Gazo. I can’t be absolutely sure, but the latest I’ve heard is that The Genius Wars will be out in Australia this November. (Whether or not this will happen, however, remains to be seen.) I guess that, to order it, your best bet will be to go to the Allen and Unwin website, and take it from there; alternatively, it might be available from Amazon or various other online book-ordering sites soon after publication.

I do hope you enjoy The Reformed Vampire Support Group.


Friday, January 30

Q Just wondering when The Reformed Vampire Support Group will be released in Australia?

Posted by V, Melbourne

A Not long now, I’m pleased to say; the publication date is April 2009.

Q So after Evil Genius it goes on to Genius Squad?? Because I’m almost done with Evil Genius.

Posted by Marlon, Las Vegas

A Yup! Genius Squad is available in the stores right now, but the third (and last) book in the series, The Genius Wars, won’t be published in America until 2010.


Tuesday, January 27

Q I just picked up Babylonne and it prompted me to write to say how much I have enjoyed your books, which I just discovered this year. I’m pretty much your reader slave, actually. You write it, I will read it. Can’t wait to jump into Babylonne (momentarily) and I’m so eagerly awaiting the third Cadel book. Happy writing!

Posted by Sarah, Iowa City, Iowa

A And happy reading to you, Sarah; I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed my books so far. Hope Babylonne lives up to your expectations! The Reformed Vampire Support Group will be out soon in America, too – either April or May. So guess that’ll have to tide you over until The Genius Wars is published there next year.

Q Thank you for your reply. I was just wondering, does Cadel turn 18 in The Genuis Wars? And does he still live with Detective Saul and Fiona?

Posted by Dominic, Melbourne

A No, Cadel hasn’t quite turned sixteen when The Genius Wars opens, so he’s still living with Saul and Fiona Greeniaus.

Q I love the Genius books. I can’t wait until The Genius Wars comes out! Hopefully soon? :)

Posted by Steph, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A Well, it depends what you mean by ‘soon’. There are plans afoot to publish it in Australia in November, but the U.S. edition won’t be available until next year. (Sorry about that.)

Q I just read your post that said that Cadel will be fighting pretty much alone. Oh no!!! Please, please, tell me none of the good characters die. PLEASE!!! Oh, could you just say if anyone dies, not who or how? Please? (I think I will have to order an Australian copy, ‘cause I sure can’t wait till 2010.) Hmmm. Maybe for a graduation (from middle school) present.

Posted by Mandy, Lake Forest

A I didn’t say anyone would die, I just said Cadel would be fighting pretty much alone. Doesn’t mean that anyone’s going to die; it just means various events conspire to isolate him. (I won’t say what, though – especially since I haven’t edited the book yet, and things can change during the editing process.)


Wednesday, January 21

Q I’m currently in a film college in Florida called Full Sail University. I’m reading your book Evil Genius which I love. I’m so in love with it I want to shoot a portion of the book for a school project. Of course I cannot do so without permission of the author. We have to pitch the story idea to our school producers at the end of Feburary. I would love to try and bring the image to life as best as I can and present you with the finished project to see how you feel about it. And if you desire to put in input or stop by the school, your more than welcome to. I completely look forward to hearing from you.

I really, really do want to do this short for you. If you actually like it enough we can get a producer in this and make it for real. But everything’s up to you. I’m right now writing the script if you want to see it or see previous things I have done, then please feel free to ask. I really look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Jesani, Winter Park, Florida

A You’re very welcome to shoot a portion of Evil Genius, Jesani; the only stipulation that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has made is that you don’t make any money out of it at all. Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, but I had to check with my publisher. And you don’t have to send me anything, either. I’m just glad you like the book so much.

Q I love your books Evil Genius and Genius Squad. I was hoping could you please please please tell me a little about ‘The Genius Wars? I’m so excited, just a little bit!!!!!! Is there going to be a fourth book?!!

Posted by Dominic, Melbourne

A Sorry to say, there isn’t going to be a fourth book, since I did what I had to do in the third one. As for the content of The Genius Wars . . . well, I don’t think I really want to give too much away. Let’s just say that Prosper rears his ugly head again, and Cadel finds himself fighting the good fight pretty much alone, after a series of dramatic attacks on his friends and supporters.

Q I love your books; I read them all the time. I can’t wait for The Genius Wars. How long does it take after you write a book to publish it??

Posted by Joseph, New York, New York

A Well, it kind of depends. I just finished writing The Genius Wars, and in Australia the publishers want to try to publish it in November this year, if they can, but in the U.S.A. it generally takes a bit longer because of the big American marketing plans. I don’t think you’ll be seeing it in America before spring 2010 – maybe even autumn. Sorry about that! I’m glad you like the series so much, though.


Thursday, January 15

Q I’m a huge fan of your work. I’ve read Evil Genius and Genius Squad; I can’t wait for your next book. Also can you send me an unpublished version of The Genius Wars please?

Posted by Seth, Providence, Rhode Island

A I wish I could, Seth, but it hasnt been edited yet, and that’s going to take quite a while – months and months. If you’re really, really desperate to see it, my Australian publishers are talking about releasing it this November. So maybe you can order an Australian copy before the American version comes out in 2010.


Sunday, January 11

Q I’ve been reading Evil Genius for the billionth time (I think it’s Fantastic!) and I saw that in the letter “Jorge Heimstadt” sent to Partner Post. When Cadel was deciphering the letter, it said “… and even if I was sixty four, or older . . . “ but when Cadel is figuring out the clues it says “. . . seventy-four was the atomic number …” and that kind of confused me. I think your books are the best, and even though I’ve read them time and time again I can just never put them down! Keep up the great work! I can’t wait ‘till The Genius Wars!

Posted by Serena, Chatswood, NSW

A Oops! You know what? That was a mistake, which I fixed up in the American edition but which needs to be repaired when the next Australian reprint occurs. Thanks very much for pointing it out! It should, as you say, read ‘seventy-four’.

Q I am a huge fan of Evil Genius and Genius Squad! I was wondering when you will release The Genius Wars. It will be a highly anticipated calendar-marking date.

Posted by Jonathan, Menlo Park, California

A Well, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve just finished writing The Genius Wars! So it’s up to the publishers, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be seeing it before early 2010 – sorry.

Q Evil Genius and Genius Squad are books that are at the top of my list of favorite books,and that’s saying something – it’s a very long list! When I got Evil Genius, I didn’t have clue what it was about. However, as soon as I opened it, it was like there was special tape inside it so strong I couldn’t take my nose out of it! I read it in the car, at home . . . I basically didn’t turn on the TV or computer till I was through! On the way home, I finished it, and was so excited to get the next one we went straight to the bookstore! Also, when do you think The Genius Wars will be out? Thanks so much for writing such great books! P.S. I don’t think it should be made into a movie – they’d definitely do it wrong!

Posted by Connor, San Antonio

A Thanks so much, Connor. I’m so glad I made it to the top of your list! As mentioned above (it’s a popular question!), The Genius Wars should be out early in 2010 – I just finished writing it today, after a full year’s work. And I hope it meets all the high expectations people seem to have of it; it’s always very nerve-wracking when readers are waiting with baited breath for a book. I get scared that I’ll disappoint somebody.

Q I was only wondering what happened to the Axis Website?! The link takes me to the blog. -sigh-

Posted by Madeline, USA

A Sorry, Madeline, but it looks as if Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (my U.S. publisher) has replaced the Axis Institute website with that Evil Genius Books blog page. And there’s nothing I can do about that, I’m afraid; I don’t have a whole lot of input into their marketing strategies, because I don’t possess much expertise in marketing.


Saturday, January 3

Q Hello, favourite author! I am just writing to wish you the best of the season. Happy holidays.

Posted by Greg, Leeds, UK

A Thanks, Greg – and a very belated season’s greetings to you, too. Sorry about the delay in responding; Xmas intervened, I fear.

Q I just finished reading Babylonne and I loved it. But the ending was little disappointing. I would have loved to know what happened with Isidore and Babylonne in the Epilogue. But if you are planning to write another book with Babylonne and Isidore as the main characters, then never mind about the disappoint. I’m just one of those readers who HAS to know what happens in the character’s future. Thanks so much and I love your work.

Posted by Sarah, Villa Rica, Georgia

A Sorry to disappoint, but I was intending to pursue both characters to Bologna in a final book, some time in the future. It’s not at the top of my list, right now, but it may still happen.

In the meantime, thanks for your kind words!



Tuesday, December 23

Q I just wanted to say you are a wonderful author! Evil Genius is now my favorite book, and I’ve read a lot of books. I wish I had half the talent you did. My poor characters are lacking . . . well everything. Anyway I am so glad your writing is awesome, and I have managed to get my aunt and best friend to read Evil Genius as well. Also one more thing, have you listened to the CD recording of it? The narrator is amazing in my opinion. Some narrators don’t give books half the credit they deserve.

Posted by Madeline

A Not only have I heard it – I’ve met a person who knows the narrator, who lives in L.A.! So I hope your recommendation filters back there, somehow!

Thanks very much for getting your aunt and best friend to read my book – the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned.

Q Oh dang it! Oh well, that happens somethimes. Am I correct in assuming that gaol is the same as jail? I live in the United States. Sorry, I’m pretty sure it is, but it’s been bugging me for a while. No offense. I’m very impressed at how quickly you wrote back. That’s so cool. I guess I really have to reread the 1st book, because I’ve completely forgotten who Kale Platz is. But Gazo comes back? Yay! He seems so nice, and reminds me of one of my friends, in the best way possible.

Posted by Mandy, Lake Forest

A Yep, gaol is the same as jail. Sorry. Sometimes I forget these differences, though I should be used to them by now, after changing the Australian spelling to American for at least seven books.


Sunday, December 21

Q I was so thrilled when I found Genius Squad in the library. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Evil Genius, but I think the sequel was better. I don’t know, I just lke the action scenes, and it seemed like there were more of them in the second book. I’m honestly not a very techy person, but was pleasantly surprised that I could follow along with Evil Genius just fine. I have a confession to make. I forgot to have a book in my backpack, so I had to run to the library before school to get one. I saw the shiny silver cover of Evil Genius and picked it up. Then I read it, and loved it. I think it was fate. When I found the second one, I started jumping up and down in the library. People looked at me like I was crazy. But I sooo didn’t care. Ha!! I reread the ending of Genius Squad so many times, because the first time I was hyperventilating. Anyway, I can’t wait for The Genius Wars to come out. Is Alias going to come back? I really, really hope so. I could never really see him as a villain. Really, couldn’t he turn good? I’m sure some time will come that Cadel could use a master of disguise helping him. I hope that Saul gets to punch Prosper in the face. Please don’t think I’m violent for saying that. Anyway, I hope to get my hand on The Genius Wars ASAP, and will just have to reread the first books in the meantime.

Posted by Mandy, Lake Forest

A I have to say, it’s always a bonus when people like the sequel better than the first book – it means that I’m getting better instead of worse (which is an excellent goal to have in life). And believe me: I’m not a techy person either. I couldn’t send a text message to save my life; that’s probably why you could follow all the computer-geek stuff!

Unfortunately, I’ve got a bit of bad news. Alias does not come back, because he’s in gaol. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t swing it, though I would have liked to. But all kinds of other people come back, including Kale Platz and Gazo (big-time). So maybe that will make up for your loss!

Q I just read Genius Squad, it was awesome! First I read Evil Genius and
I had to get Genius Squad, so I did. Now I can’t wait for The Genius Wars to come out! I’m bummed that it doesn’t come out until next year though. :( Well, keep writing your awesome books! :)

Sorry I forgot to ask this question: Who are the kids on Genius Squad’s cover (the green book)? My guess (from left to right) is Lexi, I don’t know who that is, Cadel, Devin and Hamish?

Posted by Alexis, Las Vegas

A The kids on the cover are (from left to right): Lexi, Hamish, Cadel, Devin and Sonja. If you look at the spine of the U.S. edition of Genius Squad, and squint a bit, you’ll see that Sonja is sitting down, and has skinny legs.

Thanks for your encouragement! You’ll be pleased to know I’m just a couple of weeks away from finishing The Genius Wars – after that, it’ll be all up to publishers.


Wednesday, December 17

Q I’m always a bit hesitant about writing to the authors of my favourite books, because I usually lose control and stampede over the keyboard and jam the CapsLock button, but I decided to risk it. I’m an avid fan of Pagan (a mad, rabid, obsessive, frothing-at-the-mouth kind of fan) and I just finished re-reading them for about the seventeenth time – and I’ve got some questions chewing at the corners of my brain. I’ll number them.

1) Kidrouk – was that Pagan’s mother’s surname, or did the monastery give it to him?

2) If you were to continue along the thread of giving us the identity of Pagan’s father, how were you going to go about it? How would Pagan have found out?

3) Why did Eleanor marry Lord Galhard? Was it an arranged marriage? Was Galhard always like that, or did he change? (I’m sorry if you wrote this so long ago you can’t remember, or never considered it)

4) Could you tell me a little about Ademar? I was very curious about him in Pagan’s Vows, but you never really gave us much background. (ditto as with the last question)

5) What’s the age difference between Roland and Jordan?

6) Did you use references for Saladin’s character, or is his person and personality your own creation?

7) Did Isidore ever fall in love with anyone?

8) Did Babylonne stay with Isidore and did he give her an education? Did she stay a Cathar? If you feel the holy and charitable urge to bestow upon your faithful fans a sixth Pagan book, feel free to ignore question 8).

9) Do you have any idea how hard it is to find good, witty historical fiction? Of the knights and squires variety? The Pagan Chronicles are an oasis in the desert, I tell you. If you have any recommendations…?

10) What is your preferred writing style? For children, teenagers, or adults? First or third person? Present tense or past? Humorous or serious? Archaic or contempory? Historical or sci-fi? You write for a startling number of genres – how easy is it to bounce between them?

11) Who are your three favourite authors? I really, really love Isidore. I just want to pick him up and cuddle him and take him home with me. I enjoyed his narration as much as I did Pagan’s, to be honest. I adored him in Pagan’s Daughter. He grew up to be such a gentle, kind, lovely man. I know you probably get these requests so much your ears are bleeding, but if you were to write another Pagan book I would – I would – I don’t know what I would. I would do something very loud and piercing that you would probably be able to hear from NSW. Seriously. I don’t care what it is. It could be a novel with Foucard as the narrator for all I mind. But if you were to to write something that, say, perhaps, maybe, filled in a few of the missing years of dear Pagan’s existence . . . on either side of the Pagan’s Scribe time slot, I’m not fussed . . . well. Think how many people you would make immensely, unbelievably happy. Keep up the good stuff! :)

Posted by Katherine, Melbourne

A Wow! Okay. Here goes.

1) The monastery gave it to him.

2) I’m not sure how Pagan would have found out – that’s why I didn’t pursue it, in the end. Pagan would have had to go back to the Holy Land, and that just didn’t fit in. (Though there are old stories of Saladin coming to Italy, with a small entourage in tow, but they’re just fairy tales.)

3) Oh, it would have been an arranged marriage. They were all arranged marriages. And I doubt very much that Galhard was ever any different – except perhaps when he was two or three years old.

4) Ademar’s a pretty minor character – I doubt I would have given him much of a background, and if I did, I don’t remember what it was!

5) You know, that’s a good question. I wouldn’t have thought that much – probably no more than about three or four years.

6) Everybody loved Saladin – even the Europeans. That’s why they later made up stories about Saladin coming to Europe. He was the parfait gentil knight, and he really did set all those captives free. He really was chivalrous – i.e. holding off on bombarding a particular castle for one night because there were newlyweds in it. There are even good, reliable physical descriptions of him. So I didn’t rely too much on my imagination, there: I just built on all the adoring medieval accounts of him.

7) The Isidore questions . . . well, if I ever do another book, it will be on that very subject. So I’d rather keep it a surprise.

8) Same as (7).

9) You’ve got me there. All I can think of is Blackadder – and my own adult books like The Inquisitor or The Secret Familiar! But I’m often a bit slow off the mark when it comes to the latest literary trends. I’m probably not the best person to ask.

10) Look – to be honest, what I love is the story, or idea. And whatever that story happens to be, it will dictate the style: for example, whether it’s going to be adult fiction or children’s, first or third person, etc. And my tastes change according to my need for change; I like the challenge of an adult historical novel (like The Dark Mountain, which was a huge challenge), but then I like to bounce back to teenage fiction and have some fun. Not that the Genius books haven’t been a challenge, with all the computer-geek stuff I had to master. That was tough. But I find that the only way I can keep interested is by switching about a lot.

Of course, now that I’m making some actual money out of teenage fiction, that might change a bit . . .

11) My three favourite authors are probably . . . hmm. Let’s see. They’re probably Jane Austen, Nick Hornby and . . . um . . . Evelyn Waugh? George Orwell? Something like that.

Q I just finished Genius Squad and can not find The Genius Wars??? It said that was the next book?

Posted by Joey, Indian Trail, North Carolina

A I’m so sorry, Joey – The Genius Wars hasn’t been published yet! I’m just finishing it now; it should be out in 2010, some time.

Q I haven’t written before and to be honest I didn’t know you even existed Catherine! But I was skimming through the comments and I didn’t see many about To Die For! It’s SOOOO amazing! (What I have read so far – I haven’t finished it yet.) It’s clever the way it is all one big conversation! What gave you the idea of To Die For? It’s very clever! Love your work! Please write back!!

Posted by Alexandra, Hexam

A Thanks so much! As you said, there aren’t many comments about that book on this message board, partly because it was only called To Die For in England (in Australia it was called What’s Hector McKerrow Doing These Days?) and partly because it was never even published in America. And the funny thing is, my Genius books have never been published in the UK! But you will be getting The Reformed Vampire Support Group, some time next May or June. So I guess you can look out for that – although it’s not much like To Die For, which is probably the most unusual book I’ve written.

The idea for the book actually came from my husband, who said something one day about online obsessives trying to chase down an old TV star. He really was the motivator, which is why the book is dedicated to him. He also knows a lot more about computers than I do, so I made use of his expertise, as well.

I’m really, really glad people are still reading that book, because I’m very proud of it.

Q I just finished reading Pagan’s Crusade. I can’t wait to read more! I loved the story, and I was impressed with how realistic it sounds. I’ve been interested in the Middle Ages for a long time, but it’s hard to know where to get good information about it. What do you recommend for researching the 12th century? And also, I don’t understand the prayers that they say; I’ve gotten the idea that they said prayers (nones, etc.) every “hour.” Is that right? And was everyone required to say the prayers at the designated times? Did they have hours like we do? Thank you for a wonderful book and your time!

Posted by Rebekah, Utah

A The Middle Ages is a very broad subject, so my advice about researching it would depend on what you were interested in. If you’re interested in the Crusades, Steven Runciman’s work A History of the Crusades is a kind of standard text, though it’s quite old, now; it is however, a good starting point. What I’ve found is that, if you really want good stuff on the middle ages, the Net isn’t where you’ll find it. Not yet, anyway. Libraries – especially university libraries – are the best place to go. Do you know what I’ve always done, when researching medieval times? I’ve got a few Dewey reference numbers for texts like Runciman’s, or Henry Charles Lea’s A History of the Inquisition, and then I’ve gone to the shelves at Sydney University library, and I’ve had a look at all the other books clustered around the books I’m looking for. Books about history are usually a 900 number, books about religion (like the history of Catholic monasticism, for instance) are usually a 200 number . . . it depends, as I said, on what you want to look at. I think historical fashions are in the 300s, but I’m not sure . . .

Of course, there are some more general reference books on the Middle Ages in Europe, or the kings and queens of England – you can always start with them, and work your way down to specifics. Personally, I’d look for reference books published by universities – like the Oxford or Cambridge university press. They’re bound to be solid and trustworthy! On the other hand, if you just want a good read, you should try a novel like The Name of The Rose; it isn’t about the 12th century, but it is terrific.

As far as the ‘hours’ go . . . well, medieval ‘hours’ weren’t quite like modern hours. People didn’t have proper clocks, for one thing. And it varied according to whether it was winter or summer, or the early or late Middle Ages. But generally speaking, Matins was between 2.30 and 3.00 in the morning; Lauds ended at dawn; Prime started around 7.30; Terce at around 9 a.m.; Sext was noon; Nones was between 2 and 3 in the afternoon; Vespers was at sunset and Compline around 6 pm. So they weren’t actual 60-minute hours, as such, but a more precise way of measuring out the day than, say, dawn, noon and sunset. The timing was also partly worked out by how long it took to recite the prayers – mostly standard psalms, from the Bible.

Good luck with your research!

Q There are very few books these days that will keep me reading until the early hours of the morning, but your book Genius Squad is a proud owner of that title! It is a FANTASTIC book and a brilliant sequel! I can’t actually tell you how much I loved (or am loving) the Genius Series. :) I am pretty much counting down to the last one Genius Wars. One awesome thing about the books is that you live in Australia! So all the places that you mention I actually know where they are. :) (Oh yeah, I live in Australia too.) It’s a nice change from the American geography I’m so used to in stories (‘cause I’m not real good at it). You mention in one of your previous responses that Hollywood has not so far expressed interest in your Genius series. Frankly, I hope it stays that way. Not that the books wouldn’t make great movies, but they only would if they did it
. . . right. So many books are so easily ruined by remakes when they go to the big screen and it would be sooo bad if the movie just ruined your books. It would be hard to find people to suit the characters anyway. Anyway, I’m a little off topic. I just wanted to say that you are a great author and I can’t wait to read your last Genius installment. : )

Posted by Georgia, Berkeley Vale

A Yeah, I know what you mean about movies, though there are some movie versions that are so good that I enjoy them just as much as the book (i.e. Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence). However, I have to admit (with a squirming sense of shame) that the money would be really, really useful . . . oh, and I can’t help wanting to see my characters on screen, if they’re done right. I mean, I love my characters, and to actually see them in the flesh would be such a bonus!

But I appreciate your desire to save my books from commercial vulgarity. It’s very noble and correct and pure, and a good example to me when I’m starting to feel a bit money-grubbing and publicity-hungry!

Q I’m 14 and live in Australia and I absolutely love the life of Cadel, Sonja, Fiona and Saul in the Genius books . . . please tell me you are writing a third book! I could not live without them. Please?

Posted by Gabrielle

A Your wish is my command! Yep – as I’ve said before, I’m finishing the third (and final) book now, and it should be published in Australia in late 2009 or early 2010.


Sunday, December 7

Q I’m a big fan of the Pagan Chronicles and I can’t express myself enough about how much I loved the books. I am yet to read Pagan’s Daughter but I’m sure it will be great judging from how I’ve like the rest of the series and I can’t say which book I love the most because they’re all great. Now I actually don’t like reading – I have never been able to get into a book or series. I have tried the Harry Potter books and got bored by the second book and also two Mathew Reilly books but I also didn’t finish either of them because I just got bored – guess I didn’t know the characters or something but I would say this series is the only one I have ever liked and wanted to read and I was really sad when I realized I was on the last book. But I would just like to say that the reason I liked this book was the characters were really believable and I also love history as well. So well done – I just can’t say how much I liked the books. P.S try writing more books on that time line and see if you can extend the Pagan series.

Posted by Aidan, Adelaide

A I’m so glad you enjoyed the Pagan books – and I’m very flattered that they’re the only books you do seem to like. Wow! That’s a real compliment!

I’m afraid I’ve no immediate plans to write more of the Pagan series, because I’m contracted to write a couple of other books, and that’s going to keep me pretty busy for the next year or so. But you never know: I’m periodically overcome with the desire to write something medieval again, and I do have a few ideas for one more Pagan book. Just don’t hold your breath, that’s all!

Q Can I be expecting any movies of your books any time soon? It is one of my favourite pastimes thinking of the settings and characters (and who would play them) in a movie.

Posted by Caitlin, Australia

A Though Hollywood does continue to make small, interested noises, no one’s optioned the Genius series yet. Believe me, if it does happen I’ll trumpet the fact all over my ‘news’ page! But even if some studio does option the books, it’s no guarantee that a movie will ever be made. So much money goes into the movie-making process that it takes a long, long time to get any kind of project ‘greenlit’, I’m afraid.

Q When is Genius Wars going to be out? P.S I love your work.

Posted by Henry, Terrace

A Thanks very much, Henry! I believe that The Genius Wars is due out mid- to late-2010; sorry you’ll have to wait that long, but books take an awfully long time to produce, and I’m only just finishing the first draft now.


Friday, November 28

Q I have an assignment due 5th december and I need to know how you express the characters’ emotions and feelings throught the book Eye to Eye.

Posted by Julian, Bathurst, NSW

A The trouble is, Julian, that I don’t quite know what you mean – and even if I did, I wrote that book so long ago that I don’t remember much about it. All I can say is that I probably expressed the characters’ emotions the way I always do – by using all sorts of techniques that are fundamental to the writing of fiction. In Eye to Eye, I showed Jansi from the inside and the outside, so the reader could both see his expressions and hear his thoughts. I used exclamation marks and italics, swear words and question marks, to convey feelings of excitement, anger and confusion. With the computer, which didn’t have much in the way of emotion (at the beginning, anyway), I think that actions spoke louder than words. It was more what PIM did than what he said that revealed a certain amount of emotion

Q I’m writing because I LOVE Evil Genius and Genius Squad and I can’t wait for Genius Wars to be released!!! I’m also writing because I was curious if Catherine would be interested in coming to a book club meeting of ours, it’s called Teens Know Best and it’s a YA galley book club that reviews books before they come out. We are also known for our reviews of SLJ teen. We would love to see the woman behind the story and show you what is running through our heads when we are reading books. We would love to see you there!

Posted by Mollie, St. Paul

A And I would love to be there, Mollie, except that I live in Australia and you – by the look of it – live in Minnesota, U.S.A. Is that right? Because if it is, it would cost . . . oh, upward of $3000 to cover my air fare and accommodation. Also, it would be a three-day trip at least because the flight from Australia to California takes 13 hours, and then you have to add the next leg, to St. Paul, on top of that. So the whole thing would be a major, major undertaking!

Thanks for the invitation, though – I really appreciate it, and would be honoured to attend if I wasn’t living on the other side of the world. It’s so nice to know that people over your side enjoy my books so much

Q You know some songs I’ve been listening to remind me of Evil Genius and Genius Squad because of the covers and the awesome drawings. I think “Quote Unquoted” by Mr. Bungle goes well for an odd reason. Mainly because of the background music. Oh, and I’m looking forward to that Vampire book!! And it comes out around my birthday! YAY! Also, I probably didn’t notice that before last time I mailed you. Oh well, what’s done is done – you can’t go back to the past.

Sorry for ONCE AGAIN emailing you but I like to talk to awesome people. Do you draw the drawings? If you do, can you draw the characters showing their FULL body? If not, that’s okay. Also, is Thaddeus that guy above Cadel’s head on the spine of Evil Genius?

Posted by Mew, Panama City, Florida

A I’m afraid I didn’t draw the fantastic pictures on the covers of the two Genius books, but they were drawn by an Australian – his name is Heath McKenzie, and he draws most of my Australian and American book covers these days. (He’s good, isn’t he?) So I can’t oblige you with a full-body drawing, though if you look at the covers on my Australian books (see the ‘books’ section under the ‘Young Adult’ portion of this website), you’ll see that they feature a lot more of the drawing than the American edition does. And yes – that is Thaddeus above Cadel’s head. The big question is: who do the hands belong to?


Friday, November 21

Q I wrote before. Thanks for replying. :) I had another idea about who sould play Prosper. Steve Valentine. He’s so cool and after watching Estate of Panic, I thought he was more Prosper-ish. XD Anyway, I’m working on a couple stories but with ADD and the fact I get very bored in a short time, it’s hard to work on them. Do you have any advice for someone like me? :)

Posted by Kelly Ann, Bear, DE

A I see what you mean about Steve Valentine … if he was a little older. At the moment he seems a bit too young (though I guess they do amazing things with makeup these days).

As far as advice about writing goes: well, funnily enough, I just finished telling someone on the kids’ message board that it’s quite natural for people under the age of about 18 to lose interest in something they’ve started writing because they’re growing and maturing so fast that by the time they’re halfway through it, they might be slightly different people to what they were when they began. It was certainly like that for me; I very rarely finished my stories before I turned 18. (I assume you’re not an adult yet?)

However, two things I do to stop writers’ block are: 1) write a full plan, or synopsis, of the book before I actually start it, so I know exactly where I’m going and where I’ll end up, and (2) use special theme music to get me into the mood of the story, so that, whenever I play those songs, I’m plunged back into the world I’m writing about.


Friday, November 14

Q You might recall I’ve written before. Must say that it’s extremely refreshing to see how you take the time to answer individual questions and comments, it’s really unusual to find a successful author that does that! So kudos to you. Anyhow, I’m still a Pagan fan and was just on here foraging among the comments to see if there was anything new of interest. You talk about the possibility you might write another Pagan book and it’s on this glimmer of hope (!) I write – can you elaborate further? I think it’s a really good idea obviously!

Posted by Greg, Leeds, UK

A T’hanks so much, Greg! Of course I remember you, and I wish I had better news, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a long time before I write a (final) Pagan book, largely because I’m contracted to finish a bunch of other ones first (ie. the sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group). But when eventually I get around to it, I want to set it in Bologna, where Isidore will be teaching and Babylonne will keep getting chucked out of the various convents he tries to put her in. There was a bit of civic upheaval in Bologna at the time, so it would be tied into that. But it’s all still very vague …

I know people keep wanting me to do ‘fill-in’ books (ie. Pagan at university), but I don’t know if I can. Somehow I doubt it, though anything’s possible, I suppose.

Q There’s no question, but I really liked Genius Squad. I found it a very inspiring book. I guess you could say I would get away from the world to read it…. I do have another idea for another sequel to Genius Squad… that’s if you are going to make another one.

Posted by Josh, Brisbane

A I appreciate the thumbs-up, Josh – thanks. As far as sequels go, I’m currently writing The Genius Wars, which should be out in 2010, and I was planning to make that the lucky last, if only because these Genius books are so hard to write, boy! (I guess I find them such a strain because I’m not a genius myself.) But if you have an idea, I’d be interested to hear it – though of course it would have to fit in with what I’m writing now.


Sunday, November 9

Q I am doing a book report. Meanwhile I also have to do research on the author, which is you. So here are my questions. How is your work related to your life? How long it take you to write one book, for example Evil Genius? What were you doing other then writing the book Evil Genius? And what made Cadel the way he was in Evil Genius? So here is what I am requesting: can you please send a video or sound clip to me. I am not writing about you, except making a 6-7 minute movie about you for a book review and author style, and in that it would be nice if you can send me some information that’s recorded… thank you. P.S. Can you inform me how you use literary terms when you write.

Posted by Maqsood

A I’m afraid I don’t have the technology to send you a recording, Maqsood; for someone who writes about hackers, I’m sadly lacking in computer gadgetry. But I can answer your questions here, in writing, and maybe you can get someone to do a voiceover, reading out my replies over relevant pictures.

I’m not like a lot of authors, who draw most of their inspiration from everyday life; for one thing, I write historical novels – as well as fantasy – and neither genre is heavily reliant on the world around us. I do, however, use genuine settings for the Genius books (except, of course, in the case of the Axis Institute), because I like my fantasy to have a veneer of realism.

It took me about a year to write Evil Genius, and during that time I was a normal suburban mum taking care of my daughter, doing housework, gardening, watching DVDs, etc, etc. (Nothing very exciting, I’m afraid.) As for the question about literary terms, I’m not exactly sure what you mean: it’s a very vague phrase, and I don’t actually think in literary terms – I try to make my prose sound nice, and I try not to repeat words too often, and I try to make sure the pace is exactly right. When it comes to themes and symbolism and things like that, I don’t pay much attention. I’m more interested in the story, and my characters’ emotional arcs.


Sunday, November 2

Q I am a sophomore in college, and I am doing a research papers for my history class on the time of the crusades. Our last paper is on a novel, and I chose to read Pagan’s Crusade. Our professor has some questions for us to answer in the paper, and one is to what extent the writer was trying to be historically accurate. I am wondering if your story dictates what you put in from history or if you insert history when you can in the story that you have developed. Was the historical account or the story of your character more important in your book? Did you alter the historical account, and if so, how? If you could help me out in understanding that, it would be really helpful.

Posted by Rebecca, Muscatine, IA

A I always try to be as historically accurate as possible in my novels, perhaps because I majored in history at university. My greatest admiration is reserved for historical fiction that weaves the story around the established facts – and I make a point of doing that myself, whether I’m writing for adults or children. Normally my period and setting dictate, to a large extent, the actions of my characters, since good historical fiction requires that the characters spring from the circumstances in which they find themselves, and aren’t modern people in fancy dress. (In my adult historical fiction I use language that reflects the contemporary style, though with the Pagan books it was different; because Pagan’s Crusade was my first attempt to write historical fiction for children, I was afraid that a medievalist style would turn them off.)

However, though the historical setting is crucial, and the timeline can’t be broken or falsified in any way, once I’ve marinated myself in period details and sorted out my plot, the main character does take over. You can’t write a novel unless that happens. So while the historical background is hugely important when I’m planning the novel, the character becomes more important once I’ve started writing.

Personally, I think making a distinction between the historical account and the story of a character is kind of beside the point. It’s a very holistic process, if you’re serious about writing good historical fiction.

Q I am just starting to do a school research project on Catharism, and I while I was looking for information, I remembered reading Pagan’s Daughter (which I really, really enjoyed) and how Babylonne was a Cathar. I was wondering where you got most of your information from, or if you had any useful facts you could pass on.

Posted by Milly, Melbourne

A I did most of my research into Catharism before the The Da Vinci Code triggered a flood of new material on Catharism. But if you’re interested in the old stuff that I was using, here are some of the texts I found very useful: Heresies of the High Middle Ages by Walter Wakefield and Austin Evans (a classic, which contains translations of many contemporary accounts of the Cathars – basically, primary texts); The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade by Michael Costen; The Albigensian Crusade by Joseph Strayer. Another good primary text is The Song of the Crusade Against the Albigensians by William Tudela – if you can find a translation of that, it’s amazing. Last, but not least, I would recommend Montaillou – that’s a book about late medieval Catharism, when it was all but stamped out.


Sunday, October 19

Q Hey, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the Genius series! It’s taught me how to think in many different ways, as well as understand situations from another person’s viewpoint. I’ve also picked up a new personal interest because of this series (cryptology). I can’t wait for the third book to come out and justify some of the predictions I have made! Thanks! Oh yeah: 32-58/693-92-32/065-21-183/84-85-126/90-16-72/61-28-238/03-16!

Posted by Will, Snellville

A Can you give me a clue? It’s obviously not my periodic table code, and I’m no cryptographer: even if you do point me in the right direction, I’ll probably have to pass it on to my friend Richard, who is a cryptographer, and who’ll be appearing in the third book. (Bet you didn’t predict that!)

I’m extremely pleased my series has taught you to think in different ways – that is a real compliment! I love it when something blows through my stale old brain like a breath of fresh air, and changes the way I look at the world. I can’t believe I’ve had that effect on somebody else!

Q I think (to answer your question) that when people create a character, they put a little of themselves in to it. Whether it be a characteristic or a physical trait. And when you kill that character off, it doesn’t upset you that much. That may be caused by the fact that you may not feel the attraction to that characer. Unless you really enjoy that aspect of that character that is you. Now fans, on the other hand, may have an immediate attraction to a character. It may personify what that person wishes to be or what attracts that person. Hope this answers your question.

Posted by A.J., Las Vegas

A I think it does. It certainly makes a lot of sense. Also, I suppose the writer is more conscious that his or her character isn’t actually real; that might have something to do with it, too.

Q I like your books very much, they’re great. But I’m from Germany and it’s quite difficult for me to understand the English texts. Could you make a German website? That would be very nice and I could use more information for my school project.

Posted by Esther, Peine, Germany

A I am so very sorry, Esther – I wish I could help you, but as you must see from this English response to your kind message, I don’t know any German at all. I wish I did. If you need more material for a school project, maybe you should contact my German publisher, Droemer. The people at Droemer might be able to provide you with some German-language information.

I’ll also talk to Droemer about getting some German language information to post on this website, but it might take a while to organise.


Friday, October 10

Q I must say that I am absolutely in love with your books. I read one of your responses in which you said that you write because you prefer a reality of your own, I completely agree, that is the reason I read. I am not much of a fan of writing as a concept, but I love telling stories. I was wondering, when is the next book in the Genius series coming out? My friend told me that there will be another one, and I will be really mad if you don’t write another one. The moment I picked up the first book I was hooked, I tried to take the second book out of the library, but whenever I went there it was already checked out. My sister finally found the book and checked it out for me. I just finished it and I hate you for finishing it where you did. Although from the very middle of the book I knew what would happen in the end (I won’t say it in order not to spoil for others that will read this review.) P.S. Thank you for writing such a wonderful series.

Posted by Luna, CT, USA

A Oh dear. You knew what was going to happen? That’s bad. But as long as you still enjoyed it, I suppose …

The Genius Wars isn’t going to be published until 2010 some time, because I’m still writing it now. (But I’m going as fast as I can!) But I’ve written another book called The Reformed Vampire Support Group which will be published in the U.S. in May next year, so you might enjoy that in the meantime. I must say, I hugely enjoyed writing it.

Q Okay then. If you wrote the second one because you felt you left it unfinished, why the 3rd book? Not that I mind =) but surely you left him fairly solid?

Posted by Alex, Hagley

A I decided to write The Genius Wars simply because I hadn’t resolved the Prosper English situation. At this point Prosper’s still out there, rampaging around like a rogue elephant. I knew I had to sort something out when my agent’s husband read Genius Squad and said quite spontaneously, when he’d finished: “Oh good – you can do another one.” That’s when I realised that there were still a few threads I had to tie up.

Rest assured, however, that it will be the last book in the series.


Monday, October 6

Q I must admit I have only read one of your books, and only becuase something else brought it to my attention. But I read Genius Squad and I loved it! Really it was completly different and way better =) than I expected. Meaning no offence to you, but a lot of the books I read lately are just terrible! You’ve got me hooked, I’m going out to buy Evil Genius as soon as I can (which might be a while). I was looking through your books, I feel as if I’ll have to buy a couple of the others as well =) Anyway there wasn’t a question in there so here it is: What made you become a writer? And how did you even think of the Evil books???

Posted by Alex, Hagley

A I’ve come to the conclusion that I became a writer because I didn’t like reality, very much, and preferred my own version in which I could control everything. That’s the sad truth, I fear; most writers aren’t exactly happy, well-balanced individuals, or they wouldn’t be writing books. As for the Genius series, I wrote the second book because I’d left Cadel in limbo, and needed to give him a proper place in the world – and I wrote the first book because of an idea I got from my brother, one day. I was looking at my nephew’s ‘Professor Gangrene’ action figure, and my husband said “I wonder where all these arch-criminals get their degrees from?” And my brother said, “From the University of Evil.” That’s where the whole idea for the Axis Institute came from. And after seeing Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings, I decided to write a story about a kid who looked as angelic as Frodo did, but who was actually a nasty piece of work.

By putting the two ideas together, I came up with Evil Genius.

Q Thanks again for another great read! My brother was really intigued by the cover art (because he is an artist.) If you (or Hollywood) were in the process of making a movie, will please make sure it wasn’t as bad as Eragon. They completely ruined the storyline, and I hope that if you make a movie, you will not allow them to make it into a high octane thrill. It is great how it is! p.s-You have done a perfect job at creating your books, and don’t let ANYONE change them! (This is for emphasis.)

Posted by A.J., Las Vegas

A Thanks for your confidence in my abilities, which is very empowering. But when it comes to Hollywood (if it ever does come to Hollywood), the book writer doesn’t usually have much of a say – unless she’s J.K. Rowling, of course. A studio options the book and that’s that. As far as I can see, the only way of avoiding travesties is not to option your books at all – and I’m not that pure or noble. I’d love to option one of my books. I’d love to see my characters come to life, even if the storyline did change. But then again, I don’t seem to care about my books quite as much as some of my fans do. For instance, I don’t mind killing off characters like Roland Roucy de Bram – whereas a lot of readers got upset about that. I know how they feel, too; I get upset when other writers kill off their characters. I just don’t worry so much about the ones that I create.

I wonder why that is?


Saturday, September 27

Q Just wondering: on average, how many books do you write in a year (I know the Genius series is particularly involved, but before that?) and what processes do you usually go through in terms of planning, researching, writing and editing? In answering questions about so-and-so characters reappearing in later novels, you’ve said there may be room to slot them in somewhere – does this mean you start writing without a scene by scene break down of the story, or are you flexible with the way it evolves?

Posted by V, Melbourne

A Interesting questions. Okay. At the moment, the Genius novels are taking close to a year each, though before that it would depend: I once spent 18 months writing an adult novel because my daughter was only a baby, and I didn’t have much time to write. Normally, however, it would take me perhaps 10 months to write an adult novel, and up to six months to write a young adult book – though The Reformed Vampire Support Group only took me five months because it was so much fun. Some of my books for younger readers (like the Allie’s Ghost Hunter series) take me about two to three months, max.

My process is that I have a couple of ideas, start putting them together, make a lot of notes, then do some research. Once I have a bit of research under my belt, I sit down and write a very thorough synopsis that can be up to 40 single-spaced pages. After that, I generally have to do a bit more research, to fill in the holes. Then I sit down to write, going from the beginning to the end, using my synopsis as the framework. Sometimes things change a bit – especially in the middle of the story – but I always know where I’m going, because of that synopsis. (Tip to young writers: always do a synopsis, if you want to avoid major writer’s block.)

When I mentioned slotting Niobe in somewhere (earlier in this message board), it was because I knew there was a little space later on that could be filled by her – and then, when I looked back at my synopsis, I saw that she was there already! So in terms of ‘slotting people in’ it would only be a minor inclusion, with very little rearrangement involved.

Q Aww, thanks so much for the quick reply! I’d have replied to your reply sooner if I had more access to the computer (like Cadel, it seems I’m always doomed to a lack of computer time). Oh, and in my case, seriously don’t worry about the late-night thing, everyone on both sides of my family are up very late quite often, including my grandparents. In fact, now my little sister (just turned 12) is up reading Evil Genius (she always wants to read what I read, and I told her she wouldn’t be disappointed – she’s on chapter 6 now and loving it so far! …of course, she’s only allowed up late on weekends and summer break, so please don’t worry!!). Anyways, enough of my life story, I re-read Evil Genius and Genius Squad again, and upon re-reading I must have either read too fast, or the detail went over my head, because I can definitely picture a lot of the characters a lot better now. :D I’ve started a few concept sketches, though I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to show them to you or how long they will take, but hopefully not too long. Depends on how much work I decided to put in them (whether it’s just pencil sketches, inking, coloring, etc.) I might even do some comic bits of my favorite parts, heh. When I really, really get into something I sometimes get carried away. When my sister gets done reading she may draw some stuff too! :3 Hopefully you won’t mind the barrage of art work I’ll be sending your way sometime in the future. :0 Yay for more Gazo! (And yay for knowing how to say it now!) I am totally psyched for the new book more than ever, I hope the writing goes smoothly for you. …Though I am sad to have read it won’t be coming out ‘til sometime in 2010. But I’ll try to amuse myself somehow, and will most likely be able to pick up on your other series (I work at a library after all!), which I’m sure me and my little sister will enjoy. Plus, I know it’ll be worth the wait. Thanks again, take care, and good luck with the writing. You’ll be hearing from me again sometime soon!

Posted by Nicole, Chicago

A Thanks, Nicole. If you want to send me that artwork, send it to my agent: Margaret Connolly and Associates, P.O. Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW, 2076. (I don’t like giving my address out on the net: like Cadel, I’m very wary of who might be lurking.)


Sunday, September 21

Q What inspired you to create a sequel to Evil Genius?

Posted by Dylan, Lexington

A I was always planning to write a sequel because I left Cadel in limbo, without a home or a family, and I needed to correct that. I needed to bring him back to the situation he was in originally, at the beginning of Evil Genius, when he had both a home and a family (only of course they weren’t genuine).


Monday, September 15

Q For a school asssignment I am doing a book review on What’s Hector Mckerrow Doing These Days? I would just like to ask you the following questions: 1) What inspired you to write it? 2) Is there any ‘good story’ behind the dedication? 3) How did you think of the characters Mercy, Britt, Adamina and Neville?

Posted by Caitlin, Canberra

A Much Sorry about the delay, Caitlin – I’ve been away. Now let’s see. Unfortunately I wrote that book a long, long time ago, and have forgotten a lot about it. However, it’s lovely to know that someone out there is still reading it, so here goes …

1) Umm … what inspired me? I think it was more the 60s TV show than anything else, though I did like the idea of having someone hunted down and driven mad over the Internet (which was my husband’s idea, long before such things became commonplace in literature.) It’s possible that some particular incident might have inspired me, but I just can’t remember anymore.

2) I dedicated the book to my husband, not only because his idea triggered it, but because I am a complete computer moron, and he is the exact opposite. In fact as I was writing this message I did something weird to the program, in my usual way, and he was like, ‘What did you do?’ and I was like, ‘Nothing! I didn’t do anything! I just looked at it!’ So of course he had to fix things up, for the umpteenth time, because I have a black thumb when it comes to computers. That’s why I so desperately needed his input when I came to write this book. And that’s why I dedicated it to him.

3) I’m afraid Britt’s a bit of a California-girl caricature, in many ways; it didn’t take much imagination to come up with Britt. Adamina stemmed from a set of songs by Alannis Morrisette, at the beginning of the album Jagged Little Pill; if Adamina had a voice, she would sing songs like Alannis Morrisette, so she popped into my head when I heard that album. Mercy’s like a lot of the really nice, bright, soft-hearted fan-girls I’ve met at schools (and on this message board) over the years; the fact that she’s Canadian stems from the fact that I married a Canadian, and spent 18 months in Nova Scotia once. As for Neville, well, I don’t know where he came from, really. I guess I’ve seen a lot of quiet, decent English characters on TV, or read about them in books, so I just drew on that.

I hope that’s okay. Not very illuminating, I know, but I’ve got the lousiest memory – you wouldn’t believe. With a lot of my older books, I don’t even remember the plots or the character names or anything.

Q Here I am again! I’m very faithful. I have another question that has been itching and bothering me about the Genius Squad. How old are Hamish, Devin, and Lexi? Are they out of school? I mean, they are teenagers, and are in some accelerated program, like Cadel? Wouldn’t police get suspicious if a bunch of teenagers in a house didn’t attend some sort of school? -blinks- xD I’m most certainly going to read more of your books, if I can decide which one. I have so much work – I’m taking three of the highest courses available for a freshmen. Plus marching band. Plus flute lessons. I have zippo freetime. xP!

Posted by Sarah, North Carolina

AYou sound like a bit of an overachiever, just like Cadel – please don’t overdo it! As a matter of fact, though teenagers in Australia have always been encouraged to stay on at school until they’re eighteen, they’ve also been allowed to leave at sixteen to get a job or become apprentices, and that’s definitely what Devin and Lexi have done. Hamish was probably on an accelerated program, too, but when he got in trouble and became difficult to live with, his parents put him in Clearview House, probably hoping that he’d go back to school eventually. I think I’ve said in the book (or if I didn’t, I should have) that all three of those kids are sixteen; that’s why they have to live in a supervised environment.

Q Wow. Where do I start? I just took out Genius Squad from the library I work at yesterday, and finished it the same night, unable to put it down. I probably went to bed around 4 am (don’t worry, I’m a night owl!), satisfied, though very eager for the next (and I assume) final book in the series. I seriously love all the characters in the series, though I wish there was more descriptions of them. Cadel is really the only one I have a definite clear image of, and I’m a 19-year-old artist/writer wannabe (and obsessive compulsive… and a perfectionist LOL) so it drives me nuts when I read an amazing book and can’t see a clear picture of all the characters. Sure, the cover of Genius Squad has some of the characters from the Squad, which are very awesome illustrations by Heath McKenzie indeed (though Lexi was lacking the piercings, and his interesting inking style makes it a bit hard to distinguish details), I wish there were pictures of the other characters too (Darkkon, Prosper, Saul, Fiona, and even characters from the Axis Institute, like Alias, or my favorite after Cadel and Prosper – Gazo [how do you pronounce it though? it nags at me so]… I just think he’s darling, heheh.) Anyway, I guess my point is if I had more details, I’d be able to draw you some fanart (in my own style of course) and send them to you sometime!! I’m too in love with this book that I just couldn’t resist! Oh, I have a question that I just thought about, but in the next book I was wondering if in the next book there would be any new characters? Possibly a kick arse female character… who can’t smell… are you getting what I’m saying? LOL. I hope not. Alright, I better stop buggering or you might hate me, so I shall finish this by saying thanks for making such an interesting and fantastically well-written series with so many crazy twists and turns that it inspires me to work on my own novel thats been in the works for half a year now, though only 30 pages are done. LOL. PS. – more Gazo please. :D

Posted by Nicole, Chicago

A I’ve gotta say, I’m getting worried about all these people who are losing their sleep because of my books; it’s terribly flattering, but it’s supposed to be very, very bad for teenagers. However, I’m awfully pleased to hear from such a big fan, even if you do wish there were more character descriptions! Can you really not work out what Saul and Hamish look like? I thought it was so clear: Hamish has the glasses and the braces and the soft, crazy hair and knobbly fingers and pale skin, and Saul has the brown, sombre eyes and clear-cut face and greying dark hair and stiff, wiry frame … I never get down to nostril level (unless the nostrils are really distinctive), but I always figured a got enough of the framework in to allow people to fill in their own details. Ah, well.

You’ll be pleased to know that there’s a lot more of Gazo in the next book (personally, I’ve always pronounced it ‘Gahzo’, but that’s probably because I’m Australian, and we flatten all our As). Also, there are definitely some new characters including, several real-life ones. But I won’t spoil the surprise by elaborating.

Thanks for your enthusiastic message. And I’d love to see your drawings one day.


Wednesday, September 10

Q I nicked Evil Genius from my little brother’s bookshelf when reading materials were sparse a year ago, was utterly thrilled by it, and have spent a lot of time since telling him, ‘No, really, ditch the next book on your list and read this one next!’ I just finished Genius Squad last night, feeling guilty that I wasn’t leaving another day for it, if this was the last book, after all. I was really delighted to come onto this page and see there’s another story about Cadel in the works!

Posted by Annie, Brisbane

A Much obliged for the encouragement, which is always very welcome. Yep, there is going to be one more in the series, but it will be the lucky last. I just hope it’s as well recieved as the first two!


Saturday, September 6

Q Over the past year, I’ve been reading the four Pagan books to my son, Jared. (He was 11 when we started, now 12.) As we closed in on the end of the 4th book, Jared said to me: “Dad, we have to read the first book again now. Because now we know so much about Pagan and Roland, the first book will be really something to read again.” I entirely agreed. We’re now nearing the end of Pagan’s Crusade. Pagan just made his plea to Saladin to grant Lord Roland’s release, which Saladin just granted. Roland, furious with Pagan. Pagan in response: How many times have you save my life? Don’t you realize, you’re all I have? And like the first time I read that part, I again worked hard to hold back my tears. Thanks so much, Catherine. This has been a wonderful reading adventure for the two of us.

Posted by Alan, Pittsburgh, PA

A What a lovely, touching message. Thank you so much for taking the trouble. And if you’re interested in number five, Candlewick will be publishing it in November; it’s called Babylonne (in the U.S.), and while it doesn’t have Pagan or Roland in it, Isidore features prominently – as does Pagan’s 16-year-old daughter. How did he manage to acquire a daughter, you say? Read it and find out!

Q I loved Evil Genius and today I got Genius Squad! I was wondering, if Genius Squad was made into a movie, who would you want to play the different characters? (In my mind I kept thinking Tim Curry would make a good Prosper!) :D

Posted by Kelly Ann, Bear, DE

A What a completely brilliant idea. Tim Curry. I never thought of Tim Curry. I was thinking maybe someone like Geoffrey Rush (an Aussie!) or various people who are now probably too old, like Ian MacKellan (when he was much younger). But Tim Curry would be perfect.

As for the others … well, Elijah Wood is now too old to play Cadel, alas; if you ever see him in The Ice Storm, that’s Cadel. Trader would have to be played by a soap opera star with high cheekbones; someone who looks like a male model. I’m not sure who that would be, because I don’t watch soap operas. And the rest are a bit difficult, because most of them are so young. You’d have to be aware of all the emerging talent, and I’m not. However, if you check out the book trailer of Genius Squad, you’ll see that the girl who plays Sonja looks spot on; her name is Katherine Moore, and I met her when I was in L.A. a few months ago.

Q I’m 12 and the Evil Genius and Genius Squad are two of my favorite books. I can’t wait for The Genius Wars to come out. By the way will Niobe come back in The Genius Wars?

Posted by Mark, San Francisco

A Do you know, I’m not completely sure about Niobe. I’d like to bring her back, if only in an oblique fashion, and there is one place where I could slot her in … but don’t get too excited, because it might not work. She’s a fugitive from justice, you see, so she’d really have to be keeping her head down …


Monday, September 1

Q I’m more than delighted of reading your books specially the Evil Genius series. I’m anxiously waiting for The Genius Wars. I hope to be able to read it soon.

Posted by Gustavo, Pasedena, CA

A I’m afraid you won’t be able to read it very soon, because I’m still writing it! But thanks for your encouragement; I’ll try to finish it as quickly as I can.


Saturday, August 30

Q I don’t mean to ask such a trivial question, but at the beginning of chapter 55 of the Evil Genius book, Cadel says, “Elspeth? But you’re dead, I saw you–”. I am totally confused about this. Who Elspeth and how does this person help Cadel realize that Roth killed his mom? Any info would be extremely appreciative. Loved the book.

Posted by Joshua, Zwolle

A Elspeth was Cadel’s mother. So when Prosper says, “But you’re dead. I saw you–” and then stops guiltily because he realises he’s made a mistake (since this doesn’t gibe with what he’s told Cadel before), Cadel puts two and two together.

Q Evil Genius is so good, is there any news of a movie for it? Because it would be fantastic if there was! I really think it would be a shame if there wasn’t a fantastic movie to compliment your awesome book! Please Please please let there be a movie :D

Posted by Serena, Chatswood, Australia

A I totally agree with you! It would be a terrible shame if no one made an Evil Genius movie! Unfortunately, while a lot of Hollywood producers have asked about it, no one seems willing to stump up the cash to make the dream a reality.

Q I would just like to say I love your books. I’m re-reading the Pagan Chronicles for the something million time and it still moves me. I hardly ever cry in books but the fourth Pagan book makes me cry so hard. The love Roland and Pagan share is just amazing. I also love how Pagan’s daughter is like the young, sarcastic Pagan only in female form. I am in a mixed mind about if there should be another one, but I just have to know. Is there going to be another? Truly your books are the best and unlike the Harry Potter books, your books are well writen. Wow that sounds cheesey, but I do truly mean it. Thanks for such a good read.

Posted by Ellie, Adelaide

A Much obliged, Ellie. I’m not sure if there’s going to be another Pagan book; certainly not in the next few years, though I do think there may be room for one more, set in Bologna …. perhaps when I next feel the overwhelming urge to write something medieval!


Monday, August 25

Q What made you write about a computer genius when you are so interested in writing?

Posted by Shelby, Siloam Springs

A That’s a good question – though I don’t think being interested in writing actually precludes being interested in computers. I’ve got a friend who’s a bit of a computer genius, and he wants to write a book. The fact is, I’m fascinated by the whole concept of cyberspace, simply because it’s a virtual world (like the ones inside my head!). My problem has always been understanding such things. That’s where I really have to work hard.

Q Genius Squad is the best book I have ever read. I mean it. Mr. Greeniaus is one of my favorite characters. I am a big fan of your work and I can’t wait till The Genius Wars come out. Do you know when it’s coming out? Keep writing.

Posted by Brandi, Seattle, WA

A Many thanks for your support. I’m plugging away at The Genius Wars right now, so it’s going to be a long time coming – you probably won’t see it until 2010. (Sorry.)


Sunday, August 17

Q I’m a big fan of Evil Genius, which is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read! (And I’ve read plenty of books, my friends sometimes call me the “walking library” because my backpack is always stuffed with books.) I’m definitely going to try out some of your other books as well, because I’m sure they’ll be great! I was curious though, since Cadel is so talented with computers and hacking, if you also knew how to do things like that. Personally, I don’t know much about computers, but my best friend knows a lot in that field. Anyways, you’re doing an awesome job writing books, keep up the good work! :D

Posted by Rio, Lakeforest, California

A As a matter of fact, I too know very little about maths or computers, but I trained as a journalist, so I can absorb information and regurgitate it in a way that suggests I understand what I’m talking about. For Genius Squad I was also able to draw on the expertise of a friend who is a computer genius; he’s so smart that he teaches computer security and cryptography at university.

I’m glad you liked Evil Genius, and I hope you find my other books as much to your taste as that one.

Q Mostly as a gauge for my own writing, I was wondering how many words Evil Genius actually is.

Posted by Aviva, Melbourne

A Alas, I’m unable to provide you with that information; I’ve absolutely no idea how many words are in Evil Genius, because I wrote every chapter as a separate document, and haven’t put them all together anywhere. I suppose I could wordcount every chapter, and add it all up but …. ugh! You’d have to be Cadel to enjoy doing something like that!


Monday, August 1

Q LORD, Mrs. Jinks, you’ve done it again! Evil Genius was good, I thought the sequel would never compare to its greatness. I was wrong. So, so wrong. In fact, after I’d read Genius Squad, I went back and read the first book over again, and now am already about halfway through the second book. Guess how long that took me? The first book took me maybe three hours. I read Genius Squad (the first time through) in about a week’s time and was entralled by Cadel’s thought process and Prosper’s cunning. Cadel thought things though a bit more in this book, and got slightly less emotional as well. I’m not sure if anyone else caught this – but it appeared that, without trying, you made Cadel mature a bit more. Cadel was more selfless in the sequel to Evil Genius. What did I think of Prosper? He was cunning, and, just like I suspected, just as much fatherly as he was in Evil Genius. I feel stupid saying this, but I feel kinda sorry for Prosper. Yes, he was mean. Yes, he was evil. But deep down, there truly was a compassion and love for his ‘son,’ Cadel. I have to say, I’m going to miss Prosper’s fatherly attitude and love for Cadel once he figures out that he isn’t related to Cadel . . . in that way. The ending of Genius Squad made me very angry, in fact, I actually verbalized that anger while reading the book. ‘NO’ was all that could come out of my mouth, and I have to say, people looked at me pretty funny. I know that Prosper will still be affiliated with Cadel, but Prosper, once he finds out about Chester and Cadel being father and son, will transform into something I’m going to loathe. He will be one of those ‘normal’ villains, trying to murder somebody. I think you should’ve kept Cadel’s relationship with Prosper the same that it was.

1) Who was it that did the DNA test at Cadel’s birth? Was it super double crossing Chester, lying about who the child belonged to, and then Prosper lying to Phineas about who was the child’s father? I found this very vague in the books, perhaps it was my stupidity for not understanding. I recall in the first book that Prosper said that he had DNA tests done, then lied to Phineas about the results. Were you meaning that Prosper did the test himself, or he had Cramp do it? I thought Prosper conducted the DNA test himself, but when Saul (I believe) was questioning Prosper about this, I was confused.

2) What was Cadel’s mother like? I mean, Thad/Prosper mentioned at the end of the first book at she was sweet and kind, but I somehow remember a clashing personality Prosper mentioned in the next book.

3) I don’t remember anyone saying exactly that Darkkon had died in the first or second book. I mean, it wasn’t officially announced. Yeah, it mentioned something about Darkkon having cancer . . . buttttt . . . who knows what Darkkon can do. It seems rather silly that such a genius would be conquered by cancer, even though Darkkon was so old. Who tipped off Prosper about Darkkon’s death? I might have to go through the second book again, but I don’t really remember it mentioned anymore than once in the book – and the mention wasn’t even the subject of what Prosper was telling Cadel, I believe.

Cadel makes quite the genius. His thought process is so real . . . And, he is not a know-it-all. When knowing what to do, his reason is usually not just based on knowledge or some made-up formula – he has to needle and fiddle around with probability and reasoning – making him a good, realistic genius. Take this from someone who is placed in an advanced placement, in that I’m learning one year ahead of my grade, and I could’ve learned three or four more years ahead of my grade (the only reason that I didn’t was because I wanted to stay with my friends.) Since here in good ol’ NC, we don’t really ‘believe’ in actually forcing people to advance in grades. So . . . yeah. I hope that The Genius Wars comes out early 2010 . . . or late 2009. :D xD

Posted by Sarah, North Carolina

A Sorry I had to prune your message a bit, Sarah; when I get really, really long messages I tend to shorten them a little if I can, just so people don’t skip them – though I never take out any of the questions.

To answer yours:

1) Chester Cramp did the DNA test, because he was technically qualified for the job; after finding out that he was Cadel’s father, he gave Prosper a false result, telling Prosper that Cadel was his. Chester did this to save his own skin; he knew that Darkkon was a geneticist, and might want to see the actual results. Prosper, on the other hand, didn’t have the same scientific background, and Chester was hoping that – as well as taking Chester at his word – Prosper would try to save his own skin by convincing Darkkon that Cadel was his son. And the ploy worked.

2) I don’t think Cadel’s mother was a very combative personality. She was very young and beautiful and easily impressed – not to mention browbeaten. I’ve always felt very sorry for her. I think she got caught up in something more dangerous than she ever expected.

3) Darkkon died between books one and two, and his death would have been all over the papers: Prosper would have heard about it through the normal channels, I think.

Thank you kindly for your ringing endorsement of both books; it’s a relief to know that Cadel strikes you as a realistic sort of character, in light of your own accelerated progress through school. I sure hope the third book lives up to your expectations!

My son had a summer reading project and chose from a school provided list, Evil Genius to do it on. To say it very simply… I am appalled at the language that you have chosen to use in this, and I assume, your other books. Even Hollywood knows how to respect the age of the children they are targeting. Rest assured my children will never read one of your books again. That is unfortunate because it was actually a good book.

Posted by Melissa, Tampa

A Oh dear. I’m sorry it offended you. To be honest, I haven’t had any other complaints, and it’s been published in four countries so far. Possibly there’s a cultural gap when it comes to certain words (I’m not sure which); in Australia, this book was always deemed suitable for kids around the age of 13, which is its target audience.


Friday, July 25

Q I’ve read Genius Squad one month ago. I ordered it in English, because I didn’t want to wait until April ‘09. I think it’s quite a bit better than the first one, but I won’t bet on it :-D How long do you think will it take to finish The Genius Wars? Do you need a German pre-reader?

Posted by Jan, Speyer, Germany

A Thanks for the offer, Jan – I’ve no idea if I need a German pre-reader, but you could always contact my publisher – Droemer – and ask. The people there might be willing to send you an advanced reading copy: who knows?


Friday, July 18

Q Hi, I run Midnight Twilight’s book blog, and I was wondering if there was a way for me to receive an advanced reader copy of Babylonne to review for my blog.

Posted by Kayla, New York

A Sure, Kayla. The address is – just send through your request, and the people at Candlewick should be able to help you.

Q The Pagan series is absolutely fantastic! I read them initailly and loved them but it wasn’t until I had read other books and returned to yours did I realise how wonderful they are. Since then I have ventured to many of your other books (The Secret Familiar is terrific!). I just wanted to thank you for writing them! Even though I’m now 18 I will have to keep reading the Pagan series forever!

Posted by Alice, Melbourne

A Thank you so much, Alice; it’s nice to know that Pagan still has his fans, and will continue to have them for years to come.

Q As an entry requirement for Honors English 9, I need to read a book and write a 3-4 page essay on why the book is important to teens. I had already read Evil Genius and I had been meaning to read Genius Squad, so I decided to read that. I was just wondering to if you had any suggestions for my essay. I loved Genius Squad.

Posted by Austin, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

A Not being an Eng Lit graduate (I did my degree in history), this sort of question tends to stump me a bit, because I don’t write my books hoping they’ll be important to teens – my aim is that they’ll be enjoyable to teens. Is enjoyment important to teens? Is it important to provide a means of escaping the everyday world? Maybe. All I can say is that in most of my books for teens, the main character is looking for love, which is associated with finding some kind of place in the world. And I suppose that, in Genius Squad, Cadel is also trying to find his moral compass: working out what’s right and what’s wrong can be quite difficult for everybody – not just Cadel – so it’s a subject of universal importance.


Sunday, July 13

Q I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people who are impressed with your books. I’m 18, but Cadel’s stories are very fun for me, for very personal reasons. I started college when I was 12, so I’m kind of uniquely qualified to say that you articulate the social aspects of gifted children very, very well. You have a focus on character development that is well-played and an aspect of mystery that makes the book difficult to put down. Very, very nicely done. I’ll be anxiously awaiting The Genius Wars. :)

Posted by Sydney, Dallas, Texas

A Wow. That’s an amazing endorsement from an unexpected demographic! I never thought that I’d ever get a stamp of approval from a genuine genius; it’s a big relief to know that I haven’t put my foot in it, with regard to Cadel’s emotional journey. Thanks very much – I really appreciate the thumbs-up.

Q I just finished Genius Squad, and I can’t wait for The Genius Wars. I had a couple questions about the upcoming book(s) of the Evil Genius series. 1. Which of these followings will be in The Genius Wars: Saul, Fiona, Gazo, Trader, Kay-Lee (not Sonja), the Donkins? 2. How many more books are you planning to write as part of the Evil Genius series?

Posted by Tim, Vancouver, Canada

A I can tell you with absolute assurance that the Genius series is going to be a trilogy, finishing off with The Genius Wars. As for your question about the last book: you’ll certainly be encountering Saul, Fiona and Gazo again, though I have my doubts about the other characters. Trader, Kay-lee and the Donkins are unlikely to reappear; nevertheless, I wouldn’t totally rule them out, since I haven’t finished the book yet. Sometimes a story can take unexpected twists and turns when you’re still in the process of writing it.


Friday, July 11

Q Hallo, ich komme aus Deutschland und habe gerade Teuflisches Genie entdeckt und habe folgende Frage: Wann kommt die nochste deutsche Folge hier in Koln an?

Posted by Simon, Cologne, Germany

A Alas, I don’t speak German, but a friend of mine does and has kindly provided a translation: Hello, I come from Germany and have read Evil Genius. When is the sequel coming out here in Cologne?

My reply (as translated by the same friend) is: Vielen Dank fuer Ihre Frage. Teuflisches Team wird im April 2009 in Deutschland herauskommen. Ich hoffe es wird Ihnen auch gut gefallen. Alles Gute. (Thank you for your inquiry. Genius Squad will be in published in Germany in April 2009. I hope you will also enjoy it. All the best.)

Q OMG I love Evil Genius and Genius Squad! They are the best books I have ever read! My question is when is Genius Wars coming out?

Posted by Julie, Burlington, Canada

A Gosh! Best books you’ve ever read? Thanks for saying so. I don’t know when The Genius Wars will be coming out because I haven’t finished it yet, but I wouldn’t expect to see it published in Canada before 2010. (Sorry.)


Saturday, July 5

Q I was wondering if there is going to be a 3rd book in the genius series (with Cadel).

Posted by Tara, Perth

A There sure is! I’m writing it now; it’s going to be called The Genius Wars.


Friday, July 4

Q On the back of Evil Genius and on the back cover inside flap of Genius Squad, it gives the link When I pressed that link, it just took me to the Harcourt Trade Publishing website. Is it supposed to do that or will it be redirected soon?

Posted by Gaby, Boston

A My apologies for the mix-up. My publisher at Harcourt tells me the link for the Axis Institute was changed by accident and will be fixed shortly. In the meantime, you can visit the Axis Institute at

Q I’ve read all the “Genius” books and really liked them. I was wondering when the third book (The Genius Wars) was going to be available for us readers to read?!?

Posted by Alex, Wisconsin

A I’m afraid I’m still writing it, so it’s going to be a while – probably not until 2010.

Q I’ve I just finished reading Genius Squad last night and I wanted to tell you that I loved it. I didn’t stay up till 2 in the morning, though, only half past eleven. I was starting to think about putting it down and going to sleep but then Prosper showed up, so naturally I had to carry on. Prosper is my favourite character. I love how he’s so deliciously evil and twisted, but also very classy and intelligent. I’ve read some comments that people think he’s a posh Englishman, but I get the feeling he’s more French – although he obviously isn’t because of his very un-French name and lack of accent – because he’s so refined and elitist (not that I think French people are elitist, it’s more the refined class that he has, if anyone can do class, it’s the French). One thing I really liked about him in Genius Squad is how he’s very paternal towards Cadel, albeit in a bit of a warped way (what with the kidnapping of him and his best friend, holding a gun to his head and locking him in a plane etc). Some of my favourite scenes were when Prosper was being all sort of ‘fatherly’ towards Cadel. Especially when he ruefully admits that he can’t shoot Cadel, it’s almost like an admission of guilt. He seems like he’s ashamed that he’s let emotion get the better of him, but it also seems like he’s long since come to terms with this ‘weakness’ and had accepted it and is now just working around it. I also really liked the effect it had on Prosper when Cadel calls him ‘Dad,’ and Prosper became very uncertain and unsure of what to do. And also when Prosper didn’t kill Saul because he also cares about Cadel, and became slightly ashamed when Saul said he didn’t threaten Cadel to do stuff because he didn’t have to. I also find it amusing that Prosper is always telling Cadel off for apologising to people and calls it an ‘abominable’ habit. Normal parents tell their children off for not apologising, but with Prosper it’s the opposite. It’s quite funny.

And, for some reason, I also like that Prosper can cook. (Is it weird me liking such twisted evil character so much? Probably, but whatever, I just like ‘baddies’ so much.) But mainly I liked the paternal aspect of Prosper’s character; I think it gave him a very human side that contrasted well with his gloriously twisted side. And it’s because of this that I’m going to tell you the one thing that I’m not quite so sure I liked about Genius Squad. I hope it doesn’t offend you and it feels really weird me writing this, but here goes: I’m not sure I liked that Chester Cramp is Cadel’s father (his mother must have been extremely busy!). I think this is mainly because I liked that Prosper was his father, and I liked that this brought out the contrasting paternal side of his character. So, I don’t know. Will Prosper still be as interested in Cadel if he finds out that he’s not his? Not that I’m telling you how to write your own books, but I think I won’t mind that Prosper isn’t Cadel’s father as long as there is heaps of delicious Prospery-ness in Genius Wars. Also, I have a few questions, if you don’t mind answering them:

1) Are Com and Dot’s names a coincidence? Or is it meant to be a pun on .com the usual ending for most web addresses?

2) Do you like vegemite? (Random, I know.)

3) I can’t remember if there was a description of Chester Cramp or not, so I just wanted to know, is he ginger? With a name like Chester Cramp, to me he sounds like he has curly ginger hair and glasses.

4) Can you finish Genius Wars really really soon please? Because I really want to read it and 2010 is ages away.

5) Books can take years to write, as an author, do you mind that a book that you’ve slaved away over to write gets devoured in such a relatively short time by your readers, sometimes just a few days for the faster (and more obsessive) readers?

6) Will there be lots of Prosper in Genius Wars? If you hadn’t noticed, I like him a lot.

7) Is Jinks your real surname or is it a pseudonym? Because Jinks seems way too cool to be a proper surname.

8) Did Prosper realise that Chester lied about the paternity test? I doubt you’ll answer this one, but I think he figured something out, anyway.

9) What do you do if you get bored with parts of a story you are writing? It happens to me quite a lot (not long after the beginning, usually) and I just wondered if you had any advice for that sort of thing.

10) When he had finally worked it all out and gotten over his anger at Cadel’s plot with the pop tarts and the palm pilot, was Prosper secretly impressed with Cadel’s plan? I think he probably would be, but he’d be annoyed that Cadel used his genius amd ingenuity to do something ‘good’ rather than for evil uses.

I’d really like to now more about Prosper’s back story, will any of it be in Genius Wars? I hope your writing is all going well for you, keep it up, and thanks for writing such great books.

Posted by Aiden, New Zealand

A It’s interesting how much everyone seems to like Prosper; I can’t help thinking how much I loved the Duke of Avon in Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, when I was very young. He was the same kind of character (only not so evil) and I adored him. Maybe that’s why I wrote Prosper the way I did.

To answer your questions:

1) Yes, the whole ‘Dot’ and ‘Com’ thing was a completely deliberate pun.

2) I love Vegemite (but not spread too thickly).

3) I hadn’t given Chester much thought, to be honest (probably because I don’t really like him), but if Cadel has russet hair, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chester had a touch of ginger in his make-up, though only a touch; he wouldn’t be a full-on red-head, just a bit frizzy and pale. Also, he definitely does have glasses.

4) I’ll do my best, but these are hard books to write, because they’re so long and complicated.

5) Actually, it’s a real compliment when someone eats up your book in record time; I don’t mind it at all.

6) I’m afraid you’re not going to see any more of Prosper in The Genius Wars than you did in Genius Squad.

7) Jinks is definitely my real name, and I’ve never cared for it much; I always thought it was a better name for a cartoonist than a writer.

8) Not at first, no; not until news got back to him. It was a total surprise to Prosper.

9) I don’t get bored at the beginning of a book, but by the time I’m halfway through, it can get tough. That’s why I always (a) write out a very thorough synopsis of the story before I start chapter one (so I can keep ploughing through, step by step, even when it’s tough) and (b) I always choose theme music for my books and characters; when I listen to that, I often get back into the mood I was in when I first started to plot out my story.

10) Oh yes, Prosper definitely admires all Cadel’s little schemes, even if they’re aimed at him. I think Prosper sort of feels that he can take credit for Cadel’s cunning, because they’re related (only they’re not, of course).

I’ll definitely think about putting a bit of Prosper’s backstory into the next book, because people are starting to ask me for it.


Wednesday, July 2

Q I received your book as a birthday gift from a friend, and was the butt of all the jokes that night. Would this book help me become even more evil-er when I prank my brother? I was shocked to find how interesting it was. I read until 2 in the morning one night because I feared for Cadel. I would just like to know if Chester Cramp or Alias or Vadi (or even Dr. Vee) will appear in the 3rd book – The Genius Wars … do you know? Thank you so much!

Posted by Maria J., Seattle, Washington

A Dr Vee will certainly feature in the next book, but I don’t think Vadi or Alias will be breaking out of gaol. You will, however, be seeing a lot more of Sonja, Fiona, Saul, Hamish, Gazo …. and Prosper, of course!

It’s very flattering that you felt compelled to stay up until two in the morning to read about Cadel, but I don’t think you should make a habit of it. Late nights like that can’t be good for you.

Q You have so many series out there so I was wondering if you plan to start any new ones in ther near future?

Posted by Pagan, Minneapolis, USA

A Pagan, eh? Hmm. (Would this be another pseudonym, I wonder?) To answer your question: I really haven’t written that many series (three short ones, in total), and I never usually set out to write a series – I simply discover, when I finish a novel, that I haven’t quite finished the story, and have to continue. But I must admit that when I came to the end of my most recent book, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, I felt that there was a lot more life in the characters – so I’ll be writing a follow-up to that one, certainly.


Monday, June 30

Q I have read Evil Genius and Genius Squad and I am eagerly awaiting Genius Wars because I think you are one of the greatest writers and I just loved the twists in the books. I really could not put the book down ha-ha. Keep up the good work, and thanks for writing the books, they have become my most favorite of books.

Posted by Kelsey, Hagerstown

A I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Kelsey: messages like yours help me to write the third one, which is proving to be a bit of a struggle. It’s wonderful to receive encouragement from complete strangers!

Q I was wondering how long you plan to make Genius Wars??? (Hopefully very long!!)

Posted by Cadel, Baine

A To be honest, Cadel (is that a pseudonym, by any chance?), I don’t think The Genius Wars is going to be quite as long as the other two books, in terms of page numbers. But we’ll see.


Saturday, June 14

Q I saw Evil Genius at my school library and LOVED the cover. I decided to give it a read and LOVED it. I just bought Genuis Squad yesterday and finished it about 10 minutes ago. I personally live in Sydney and I just wanted to know how you got all the information about the local Australian settings.

Posted by Kent, Sydney

A Well, as a matter of fact I’ve spent most of my life in Sydney – first on the North Shore, then in Darlinghurst and then in Dulwich Hill, and I still visit Sydney all the time, because I have friends and family living there. So Sydney’s about the only city in the world that I do know really well!

I’m so glad you loved my books; sorry I took so long to get back to you.


Saturday, June 7

Q As said before, I love your Evil Genius series! I have taken a sudden interest in Solitaire Cipher (I think it’s otherwise known as Solitaire Encryption Algorithm) as I have just finished reading Genius Squad. I asked my math teacher if he knew how to do it, but to no avail. I was wondering if you knew how to do it, or if you might know a website where I could find out about it.

Also, when is the 3rd book in the series, The Genius Wars, coming out?

Posted by Gaby, New York, NY

A I’m afraid I only know about the Solitaire Encryption Algorithm because a friend of mine, who teaches Cryptography and Security at university, told me about it. He also showed it to me, but I was utterly unable to grasp its complexities at the time – possibly because we were sitting on a picnic rug in the middle of a festival. You can find out more at Bruce Schneier’s website and if you know anyone or can get hold of anyone who teaches advanced mathematics or cryptography at college level, you might be able to get further help.

As for The Genius Wars – I haven’t finished writing it yet, so you probably can’t expect to see it before 2010.


Tuesday, June 3

Q I am a film student and a huge fan of your Evil Genius series. I am eagerly awaiting for Genius Wars. I was wondering if it was at all possible if I could make a commercial for the Axis institute. I have a few ideas that I would like to try if you wouldn’t mind. Once again I would like to say that I am a huge fan of Evil Genius and I just finished Genius Squad, which also has made it to my favorites list.

Posted by Blake, Winter Park

A Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you, but I was awaiting a response from my publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, because the whole copyright thing is beyond me. Apparently it’s all right for you to make your commercial, as long as you don’t get paid for it! So go right ahead: I’m flattered you’ve chosen the Axis Institute as a subject – presumably for a school assignment? (Do you know my publisher has just produced a book trailer for Genius Squad? I’m going to attach it to this website, very shortly, so everyone can see it.)

Q Thank you so much for writing Evil Genius. It is surely one of the best books on my bookshelf. I’ll be looking forward to Genius Wars when it does come out, and if by some means you ever decide to continue the story past that, you’ll certainly have fans waiting for that book as well.

Posted by Brendan, Dothan

A Thank you so much for your encouraging words, but I fear that The Genius Wars will be the end of the line for Cadel. He’ll be getting too old for further young adult adventures, soon, and so will I – I simply don’t have the energy to keep up with him, these days! My brain isn’t elastic enough to absorb all the new technology that’s crashing over us like a tsunami!

Q Hey, there is a song called ‘I’m just a kid’ by Simple Plan. I think it’s a pretty good song to reflect Cadel. What do you think? Keep up the great work!

Posted by Serena, Chatswood, Australia

A I’m going to have to go away and listen to that song before passing judgement, but it’s interesting that you should mention music: I use music a lot when I’m writing, and was mostly listening to Powderfinger when I wrote Genius Squad.

Q I just finished reading Evil Genius, and im going to the library tommorow morning to get the sequel. I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO CADEL!! Lol. Anyway great work on the books, my question for you is, how do you get into the writing business? I would love to be a writer. I write a bit of poetry and I’ve written the odd story here and there. Short stories. But how do you get a book published? How do you get it into stores?

Posted by Pierre, Sydney, Australia

A Getting into the stores is a long and involved process. Writing the actual book is just a first step; the big challenge is to get a publisher to read it, and like it enough to publish it. Most people find this step the most difficult, and tackle the problem in a variety of ways: some enter writing competitions; some join organisations like the NSW Writers Centre, and attend special courses for would-be authors; some self-publish on the Internet, in the hope that a publisher might pick up their work. (It has happened.) Actually, there are more options these days than there used to be back when I started, though I was lucky: I sent my first book to a literary agent, who liked it so much that she was able to place it with a publisher.

My advice is to concentrate on the book, first. Because if it’s good enough, it will eventually find a publisher. Whereas if it isn’t, no amount of courses or podcasts or promotional efforts will get it into the stores.

Q I (Bob) just finished reading Genius Squad to my daughter (Karen). She could read it herself, but it’s more fun for us when I read good books like this to her. We both liked it very much and are very much looking forward to reading the conclusion of the series. I suppose we’ll have to check out the Pagan books…hope we can get ‘em over here.

Posted by Karen & Bob, Woodstock, Illinois

A The good news is – you certainly can get ‘em over there! The Pagan books are published by Candlewick Press in the U.S., and although they don’t seem to be on as many retail bookshelves as the Genius books, you can always order them in. They must be in quite a few libraries as well.

I’m glad you enjoyed Cadel’s adventures. Be assured, I’m working as hard as I can on the last installment.


Wednesday, May 21

Q I really love your books!!! I think you are doing a great job. So far I’ve only read Evil Genius and started Genius Squad. I just bought it a couple days ago and I’m near the end. I can’t wait to buy and read Genius Wars! Although, I was a little disappointed to hear that it won’t come out until 2010. Other than that, you are doing a great job. Keep it up! These books must be hard for you to write. It would drive me crazy to have to figure out the atomic weights and masses. I find myself looking in the dictionary at times when reading your books. I am 13 and a seventh grader. I really hope you can keep writing, and I will check out some of your other books. Keep up the great work!!!

Posted by Nicole, Brooklyn

A I’m extremely impressed that you’re looking in the dictionary. A lot of people don’t bother to do that. They think it’s hard work. But I’m always looking in the dictionary myself, when I’m writing, just to get exact definitions and spellings. So – keep it up! Dictionaries can do you nothing but good.

And thanks very much for your encouraging words. It’s so nice to get a pat on the back for what you do – that’s why I’m glad I started this message board. The feedback has been fantastic.


Friday, May 16

Q I love Evil Genius and Genius Squad but I haven’t finished it yet. I have decided to do my oral report on Genius Squad and was wondering what inspired you to write these series? What do you think the genre of this book is? How long do you think the series is going to go on for? (Please keep this series for as long as possible.) When is The Genius Wars coming out? I personally think that you should make a movie! You’re an awesome writer! Keep writing!!!!!!

Posted by Samira, Lake Tahoe, USA

A I was inspired to write the first book when my husband picked up my nephew’s Professor Gangrene doll and said, “Where do these bad guys get their degrees from, anyway?” Whereupon my brother said, “From the University of Evil, where else?” As for the second book, I had to write that because I’d left poor Cadel dangling, in limbo, at the end of the first.

I’m not sure what genre the series can be slotted into: it doesn’t seem fantastical enough to be fantasy, or futuristic enough to be sci-fi. And I’m afraid The Genius Wars (which should be out in 2010 some time, I hope) is definitely going to be the last book in the series; they’re such hard work that it would kill me to write any more.

Thanks for the thumbs-up; it’s much appreciated.


Wednesday, May 14

Q Thanks for all the great books!! I have to ask, though, will you be making a movie on this? I would be really interested in finding out!

Also, it was really cool how you fit all those computer jokes and references in Evil Genius, like Universal Cereal Bus. Do you actually have all the codes and passwords that Sonja and Cadel used to communicate memorized? If you did, that’s what I would call dedication!

Posted by A.J., Las Vegas

A Well, I certainly won’t be making a movie, because I don’t know anything about movie making! But although the books haven’t been optioned, at this point, there has been a teeny bit of interest in Hollywood, so you never know. It’s not absolutely impossible.

As for those codes and passwords: alas, no. I haven’t memorised them. My brain’s not big enough to have memorised the Table of the Elements, though I daresay there are lots of people in the world who have. (Like Cadel, for instance!)

Q I’m almost 15 and I really love your Pagan books. I finished Pagan’s Scribe only a few minutes ago. I rarely cry in books, or cry at all but I couldn’t hold back my tears. I really wanted to thank you for these books, because I love everything about them. Also, I was wondering if there was a chance of you re-writing Pagan’s Crusade, but from Roland’s view. I really love Roland, he’s an amazing character.

Posted by Mallory, Adelaide, Australia

A I’m so glad you liked the Pagan books; it’s wonderful that they’re still doing the job more than a decade after they were first published! Unfortunately, however, despite their enduring success, they’d have to get a whole lot more successful (ie. Harry-Potter successful) before any publisher that I know would contemplate publishing the same story from a different point of view. Honestly, it’s hard enough getting a story published the first time round!

Q Hello again!! I recently finished Genius Squad and it was terrific. Even better than I anticipated. What a great ending too! Though the part about Chester Cramp was quite a shocker. I’m trying to figure out how Prosper shall react to that. Your books are so well done that I actually jumped when Prosper came out of his hiding spot!It was great. I actually have a few questions (some of them are probly kind of unexpected) they’re just things that have popped into my head. 1) What happened to Wilfreda? 2)What kind of ice cream does Prosper like? 3) How old is Prosper? 4) When is his birthday? (sorry totally random) 5) Will Prosper be a huge part in Genius Wars (as opposed to just talking about him)? 6) Was Cadel really lying about all that stuff he said to Prosper before he left? Hope to hear from you soon!

Posted by Nina, Ontario, Canada

A To answer your questions: 1) Wilfreda got away, and I’m toying with the idea of having her pop up in The Genius Wars. 2) I have a feeling that Prosper would only eat gourmet ice-cream, and certainly nothing bubble-gum or pistachio flavoured. We’re talking gunpowder-strong 70 per cent cocoa chcolate flavoured, I would say. 3) Prosper is probably in his very early 50s by now. 4) His birthday would be around Christmas some time. 5) I really don’t want to spoil any surprises by answering this question. 6) He wasn’t lying about all the stuff; he certainly can’t hate Prosper, that’s for sure.

Q I just read Nina from Ontario’s post from May 7. Glad to know someone out there’s as obsessed as I am! My friends are sometimes quite frightened by my obsession. For instance, I’ve recently developed a great interest in Australia, particularly Sydney, because it’s where Cadel lives – so much so that when I found out another of my friends also loved Australia (for surfing – not quite the same thing), we both thought, well, let’s go visit, then! And we recruited four other friends, and the six of us are going to Australia in October/November of next year. Incidentally, in my research for the trip, I discovered that the North Shore of Sydney is the ‘old money’ area of the city, with all the posh houses. So now I finally understand Lana’s reference in Evil Genius to living on the North Shore. Incidentally, I’m making that friend of mine who wants to surf in Australia (I tell you, if he does that the whole time I’m going to desert the group and go off on my own) read Evil Genius, and he NEVER reads books. But he’s liking it a lot so far – two chapters in, he was convinced that Cadel was the result of genetic experimentation, but he may have been influenced slightly by me in that regard.

Before I go on to the rest of what will likely be another incredibly long post, I’ll just reply to your reply. First of all, your plots ARE fiendishly clever! There are a million twists and double-crossings and back-stabbings – that’s exactly why I like the books. They’re so much more intricate than most of the books out there. It doesn’t matter that you got the computer information from a friend, the story’s still yours, and it’s brilliant, I say. You don’t have to have a genius IQ to be a genius.

I thought it was especially suggestive that Prosper got so disproportionately angry when Cadel apologized to Sonja for Alias’s not being Judith. He may just have been frustrated that Cadel’s constant apologies were so contrary to how Prosper had tried to raise him, but on the other hand, I don’t think it was the first time that he complained about hearing Cadel express regret for something. So I was thinking, maybe Prosper was born to a rich English father (for some reason, I can’t imagine he ever knew his mother), which accounts for the posh, cultured accent, but that he demonstrated criminal tendencies from an early age, and his dad was constantly apologizing to others for his son’s actions or attitude or whatever. I think it was only Cadel’s apologizing which so infuriated Prosper – I don’t think he got angry at anyone else’s apologies – and besides, Prosper himself DOES apologize sometimes, and seems to mean it (at least where Cadel is involved). So maybe what he actually abhors are displays of Cadel’s conscience where they don’t involve Prosper. Maybe Cadel’s apologies activate Prosper’s conscience slightly, and that bothers him. Because I think Prosper DOES have a conscience.

And then I was also thinking, maybe Prosper’s father committed some petty criminal act (ie. non-homicidal), probably involving embezzlement or some other money-related crime, and got chucked in jail, and since Prosper was still underage, he was shipped off to his only relative, or closest relative, his uncle and aunt’s pig farm in Scotland (relatives on his mother’s side, because his father’s side is rich – unless his father married his mother for her money, then got rid of her). For someone like Prosper, that would be the absolute last straw. So he arranged to have his father killed (his first murder?), leaving Prosper with all his father’s money, and complete freedom to expand his criminal activities. I’ve always thought the idea of a ‘bad seed’ was fascinating (like in the old black-and-white movie, The Bad Seed) so I’m partly inclined to speculate that there was no major trauma in Prosper’s childhood (of the kind that Hannibal experienced), but that Prosper displayed anti-social, even murderous, tendencies from an early age, with no apparent trigger. On the other hand, I also think it would produce sympathy for Prosper if it were found that he had had some sort of horrific event happen in his childhood. So my personal belief is that something horrible MAY have happened to Prosper when he young, but we don’t know what it is, and it really seems from all evidence that it’s just Prosper’s nature to be heartless. It really does seem to me that Prosper has some background in psychology or medicine – he diagnosed Cadel’s foot problem towards the end of Evil Genius, he seemed to know how to tell if Cadel had suffered any real damage from Dr. Deal’s pounding, he knew all about stress manifesting itself in physical symptoms when Cadel was sick in Evil Genius! So I think he probably did study psychology at some point.

Speaking of the pounding by Dr. Deal, one of the questions I’ve always wanted an answer to is:

1) DID Thaddeus know who it was that punched Cadel? Were there cameras that the whole thing was caught on, or cameras that caught Dr. Deal coming out of the washroom after Cadel left it? And if so, how did Thaddeus restrain himself from slaughtering Dr. Deal?

2) And did Thaddeus ever find out or realize that Cadel wasn’t entirely responsible for the complete destruction of the Axis Institute, that he hadn’t meant to kill anyone?

3) And did Cadel actually get caught, that time when he was seven, and he was apparently instructed by the police to see a psychiatrist? Or was Thaddeus just having Vee monitor Cadel, and thought having Cadel think he’d been caught would be a good way to bring him in? Or was Cadel actually caught, and Thaddeus thought this was evidence that he’d better get involved, or Cadel might get caught again, and besides, it was a good excuse to get him to come in?

4) How did Chester Cramp KNOW Thaddeus was having an affair with Elspeth? As I mentioned before, it wouldn’t have made sense for him to tell Thaddeus that Cadel was Thaddeus’ kid unless there was some possibility of that being true. But I’ve been pondering that point, and I realized that if Thad suspected before he had the test done that Cadel was his kid, he would have had to supply some of his own DNA for Chester to compare Cadel’s to, and in that case, he would have had to explain that he might be Cadel’s father. Or could Thaddeus just have given a sample of his own DNA and claimed it was Darkkon’s? Would Chester have been able to tell it wasn’t?

5) Does Cadel have a middle name? Was Trader’s name meant to suggest ‘traitor’?

6) How did Dot know Cadel had killed half the Axis Institute?

7) What exactly was Max up to in Evil Genius, when he stopped at Cadel’s and Gazo’s lunch table and asked whether Darkkon was keeping an eye on Cadel? Was he contemplating kidnapping Cadel for ransom even before the Axis Institute went to hell?

8) The monitor that Niobe smashed over Jemima’s head – it can’t have been LCD. What was the Axis Institute doing with such an ancient piece of technology?

9) Did Thaddeus tell Darkkon that Cadel wasn’t his kid, before Darkkon died? I can so imagine him doing that – I bet he’s been dying to tell Darkkon for the last 15 years.

10) Didn’t Cadel feel any hesitation about agreeing to be adopted by Saul and Fiona? Isn’t he afraid that Prosper would kill them if he found out they were going to adopt Cadel? Or does Cadel actually think Prosper won’t care about him anymore once he finds out Cadel’s not his kid?

Speaking of Cadel not being his kid, you said in your reply to Aviva that Prosper would probably have had Cadel strangled at birth if he’d been like Sonja – I actually clapped my hands on reading that – that’s so Prosper. I always find the evil characters in books and movies to be so cute – Gollum in Lord of the Rings, Burnsie in The Simpsons, etc. Prosper’s pure viciousness is bloody adorable. Lucky Cadel he wasn’t born stupid or anything, or Prosper wouldn’t have had a chance to become so attached to him (but to Prosper’s own eventual destruction, I’m sure).

Oh, and I was wondering, does your daughter get first dibs on reading the Evil Genius books? Not fair. Okay, I’m sorry about the length of this post, I’ll stop now. Just tell me if I’m becoming annoying.

Posted by Chalotte, Ottawa, Canada

A Sorry I’ve had to shorten your post a bit, but it was a bit out of control. I did, however, like all your Prosper background. Sounds fair enough to me. I can imagine him being brought up in English boarding schools and country houses. Makes perfect sense.

My first answer is to the last question: no, my daughter doesn’t get first dibs. She hasn’t read any of them. Children of writers are rarely very impressed with their parents’ stuff, and she’s probably a bit young for the Genius books anyway.

1) Prosper didn’t know who it was initially, thoughg he probably would have worked it out in the end.

2) I don’t think so. He didn’t believe it when Cadel more or less said as much, and I don’t think he would have changed his mind. He enjoyed the idea too much, in my opinion.

3) Cadel was definitely caught, at around the time that Prosper thought he should be brought a bit more under his direct control.

4) I figured it like this: Chester knew from Elspeth about Prosper, and knew how Prosper and Darkkon would feel if they knew about Cadel being Chester’s. He also knew that Cadel couldn’t be Darkkon’s. So he said Cadel was Prosper’s to stay out of trouble, knowing that Prosper would take care of everything, in that case.

5) No and no.

6) Actually, it’s because she’s working for Prosper – though initially Cadel thinks there must be rumours going around, started by people like Com, and maybe the police.

7) Max was always paranoid about the Institute being a scheme to wipe out all Darkkon’s competitors, and he was suspicious that Cadel might be part of this underhanded plot.

8) Don’t forget – Evil Genius was written a fair few years ago, even though it was only published in North America last year.

9) I doubt it. I think Prosper would have tried to keep on the right side of Darkkon till the end, just to make sure he ended up as Cadel’s ‘guardian’, in charge of the empire.

10) Cadel didn’t hesitate because it felt absolutely right to him – and if there was any danger to them, he wouldn’t be living with them anyway for a while.

Whew! That was a lot of work. Maybe we could go easy on the questions for a little while, eh? Because I’ve got a big edit to do at the moment, and I’ll be in America for a week at the end of the month.


Saturday, May 10

Q OMG! Evil Genius and Genius Squad were some of the best books I’ve ever read. I just HAVE to know if there will be another sequel. I REALLY hope so, because your books are great! Keep up the fantastic work!

Posted by Serena, Chatswood, Australia

A Yes, there will definitely be a sequel – The Genius Wars. And thanks for your kind words; I’m so glad you like the series.


Friday, May 9

Q I read Evil Genius and Genius Squad and I couldn’t keep all of the characters straight. Could you put a list of characters and what they do in the back of the book or something in your next book? (By the way, everyone thought that Evil Genius was about me) :)

Could you make a Catherine Jinks book club or something? I know a lot of people love your books, and it could be really good for sales, and it could be really fun, too!

Posted by Carrie, Springfield, VA

A I will definitely pass both of your suggestions on to my publisher, though I’m not quite sure what you mean by a ‘book club’; do you mean something like a fan site, or what? Incidentally, if you want to start your own Genius book club with friends, feel free – especially since you’re obviously a bit of an evil genius yourself, from what you’ve told me!


Wednesday, May 7

Q OMG!!! I couldn’t wait for Genius Squad since I was completely infatuated by Evil Genius and especially its characters! So I just bought it and am at my happiest when I’m reading it, though I havent had much time to. Í just have to say that every little thing Charlotte from Ottawa says is exactly what Im going through, and Í agree with all she says. You have to know that without these genius books I dont think I’d be as happy as I am. I just get so exited when I’m reading them. I’ve never really even tried any of your other books, but if they’re anything like Evil Genius I sure will … or if they have any characters like Prosper English. I have introduced Evil Genius to my friends that read a lot and they’ve all enjoyed it immensely (though I don’t know anyone as obssesed as I am) My favorite character is definitely Prosper English. I have read several books with a large variety of characters, and I’ve never come across anyone as complex, fastidious and twisted as Prosper. Infatuated is definitely the word to use to describe my passion for Prosper’s character. He is hands down my favorite part of the books. I am so infatuated with him that when I received Genius Squad I rushed to find a section full of Prospers hýpnotic dialect. But I wasn’t worried about ruining the story because I knew I’d love it anyway! It is just as compelling as the first book so far. I’m never bored with your writing, it always keeps me at the edge of my seat. But I have this tiny problem where I can never stop thinking about the books… I read Evil Genius 8 times in a row and I never stop analyzing it!! Even in my dreams your book shows up!! I cant get away (not that I want to). Your genius books mean the world to me. I had to tell you. I hope this encourages you! It would be lovely if you wrote a book entirely about Prosper, from the time he grew up! If you did I don’t think I could ever have a bad day in my life!! Even if I came close, I could just read a page from the book and it would cheer me up!!And i know all your readers would love it! I hope you’re having fun writing Genius Wars and I’m dying for it to come out! Thanks so much for these books and for sharing your talent!

Posted by Nina, Ontario, Canada

A Wow. What an endorsement. All I can say is I’m so glad I’m making somebody else’s life so much happier. (Since I don’t exactly distinguish myself with things like volunteer work, or fund-raising, at least I’m providing this one, small service to the wider community). As a matter of fact, I kind of know how you feel, because I’ve had huge, enormous crushes on books and movies that have made my life happier (ie. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, when I was about twelve), though I’ve never felt quite the same way about my own books. Mind you, I generally write them to make myself happier (real life being what it is), and sometimes it works. And I have to admit, I’ve always enjoyed writing Prosper. He’s so much fun. (If you like him, you might find that you like Jordan, from Pagan in Exile and Pagan’s Scribe. He’s the only other character I’ve written who’s anything like Prosper.)

Incidentally, the heroine of my next young adult book – The Reformed Vampire Support Group (due out in May 2009) – is called Nina. Funny that, eh?


Tuesday, May 6

Q Do you think if Cadel had been of very average intelligence (or even plainly dim-witted), Prosper would have left him alone/not tried to abduct him, or simply wouldn’t have been as “fond” of him?

Posted by Aviva, Melbourne

A As my husband so rightly says, Prosper is a vicious elitist; if Cadel had turned out anything like Sonja, physically, he would probably have been strangled at birth (on Prosper’s orders). So … yeah. I think things would have been different if Cadel hadn’t been a genius.

Q Hey, quick question: When will Genius Wars come?

Posted by Brett, Carthage, MO

A I’m not absolutely sure, because I haven’t finished writing it yet, but I don’t think you’re going to see it for another two years – sorry!


Wednesday, April 30

Q I love Evil Genius. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. At the moment I orderd Genius Squad from When will Genius Squad be translated into German? I hope I’ve not wait too long.

Posted by Jan, Speyer, Germany

A Sorry it took me a while to get back to you, but I had to check with the German publishers of Genius Squad before I could answer your question. Teuflisches Team will be published in April 2009. And I really hope you like it as much as you seem to have liked the first one. Thanks for your generous praise!


Tuesday, April 22

Q I just finished Genius Squad and absolutly loved it, so thank you for a great read. I saw that you are planning to write a third in the series, Genius Wars, but haven’t been able to find out any more than that. Are you able to say what it is about? Or is that still super-dooper top secret stuff? Either way, I wanted to say that I really liked reading about Cadel, and in particular his emotional complexity regarding Prosper. And Saul! I loved Saul. Please write more about Saul!!??

Posted by Briget, Canberra, Australia

A I’m certainly writing more about Saul – don’t worry. In fact I’m writing about him right now. And I don’t know when I’ll be finished writing, but I suspect you probably won’t see The Genius Wars before the beginning of 2010, what with all the editing and marketing that has to go into a book. (I’ll be publishing something called The Reformed Vampire Support Group in 2009, and you might enjoy that.) But to tide you over, I can reveal that Prosper will make a final comeback, Cadel will be paying a visit to America, and you’re also going to see a lot more of Sonja, Hamish, Fiona and Gazo.

Q Do you give much thought as to why some of your books are more successful than others? What qualities do you think your more popular books share? How much drive do you have to write ‘popular’ books, anyway? Does being so prolific mean you can write whatever interests you, knowing that every book doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘successful’?

Posted by Mia, Campbelltown, Australia

A Man, I wish I could write about whatever interests me. Life would be a lot simpler. As it is, I still get books turned down, occasionally – and of the ones that have been published, some haven’t earned back their advances. Selling books isn’t easy, these days; that’s why publishers tend to look out for those so-called ‘popular’ books. But you can’t always pick ‘em – if you could, everyone in the publishing industry would be a millionaire. (Pagan’s Crusade was turned down four times, and it’s one of my most successful titles.)

I suppose there’s one thing you can be assured of, when it comes to picking a winner: if the first book was a success, then its publisher will certainly buy the sequel! But even that doesn’t guarantee that the public will.

Seriously? You can’t sit down to write a popular book. Because it’s very, very rare to have a sure-fire success in publishing.


Saturday, April 19

Q I just finished reading Genius Squad about twenty minutes ago, and was so eager to find out what I could about the next book that I came online immediately. Imagine my delight on straight away discovering the name Genius Wars and a tentative release date! I first read Evil Genius the year it came out (I’d read the Pagan books before that and loved them), when it became one of my favourite books. I hoped there would be a sequel, but couldn’t find out anything about one; what a wonderful surprise it was to come across Genius Squad on a bookstore shelf years later! Sequels so often disappoint, especially when the books they follow are favourites, so I was delighted with the way Genius Squad succeeded as a follow-up. I most looked forward to the return of Thaddeus, of course. He was my favourite character in Evil Genius, I think because of the way he – and his relationship with Cadel, which I loved to read about – seemed so real to me. It was the same with the Pagan books: the characterisation always made me feel as if Roland and Pagan were stepping off the page to talk to me, and watching the progression of their friendship was wonderful. Even in the absence of Thaddeus (beg pardon – Prosper), however, I enjoyed seeing Cadel’s growing father/son relationship with another character. Still, I enjoyed the almost tangible presence of Prosper when he did turn up! The point of this over-long tangent (sorry about the length) is basically to thank you for writing such immersing reads. I can’t wait for Genius Wars!

Posted by Deanne, Brisbane

A The fact that sequels so often disappoint is exactly why I’ve been on tenterhooks about Genius Squad; I was so scared that people were going to compare it unfavourably to Evil Genius. Thank God that doesn’t seem to be happening! Unfortunately, however, I’m still going to have to cross my fingers when it comes to The Genius Wars (which is one reason why it’s going to be the last in the series; I don’t think I could cope with the stress of yet another nail-biting countdown to publication). So thanks very much for the endorsement. Believe me, every single word of encouragement that I receive on this message board helps me to keep on plugging away at the third book in a series that was always a bit of a long shot.
Q What’s the fascination with fatherless teenagers? I’ve read thirteen of your young adult books, and all but one or two feature a main character with an absent biological father who forms a close relationship with a surrogate father-figure. I’ve read through some of your answers here, so I’ve deduced that you find the idea of a young person looking for family and emotional security appealing. Why are you so attracted to this idea? Do you deliberately choose to focus on this one sort of relationship, or is it more of an unconscious, instinctive thing? Is it a need you experienced personally as a teenager? Or do you think its more of a universal need experienced by all teenagers (or people of all ages, for that matter)? And why almost always an adult male figure? What does this sort of relationship offer that can’t be found in a relationship with a mother figure, sibling, friend, romantic partner?

Posted by Mia, Campbelltown, Australia

A I don’t know; I suppose I often (though not always) do the surrogate father thing in my young adult books because that emotional structure seems to be more successful, in terms of sales, than any other. The Pagan and Genius series, for example, are my most popular books, whereas books like Living Hell, Piggy in the Middle, and This Way Out (non-surrogate) haven’t been so successful. Possibly this says more about my readers than it does about me, since my own father wasn’t the least bit absent; on the contrary, being an academic, he had more ‘at-home’ time than most, and also did a lot of the cooking!

It’s definitely a characteristic of my young adult books, though, because the ‘filling-emotional-void’ relationships in my adult books tend to be romantic ones (except in the case of The Secret Familiar).

As to why there’s an emphasis on father figures, rather than mother figures … well, I guess there are two reasons for that. Firstly, a lot of these books are set in the middle ages, when women didn’t have much authority or glamour or ability to get about; and secondly, being a mother myself, I find the whole ‘motherhood’ topic a bit of a bore. Since I write to escape the pressures of everyday life, the last thing I want to explore is motherhood; I get enough of it already.

Q I have read Evil Genius and Genius Squad and absolutely loved them! Do you know when Genius Wars is coming out?

Posted by Alice, Forks

A Not specifically, because I still haven’t finished writing it. I know my American publisher would love to bring it out towards the end of 2009, but I’m not sure I’ll make that deadline. I will, however, try to keep Cadel’s many fans posted.

Q Just wanted to tell you I just finished reading Evil Genius (as it was published here in Germany a short time ago) and will now definitely look forward to the sequel. I’ll have to read it in English, though, as I think it might take another year until it is published in German.

Posted by Vanessa, Worms, Germany

A Gosh. Imagine being able to read something as big and complicated as Evil Genius in German and English. Believe me, I am very impressed. I have no second language whatsoever – just a sparse scattering of Italian; I’ve always regarded people like you with awe and envy. I’m also extremely pleased to welcome my first German correspondent to this message board. Thanks so much for your kind words, and I’m glad you liked the book!


Wednesday, April 16

Q It’s my friends birthday soon and after much deliberation my friend and I created an elaborate plan to get books signed by her two favourite authors – yourself and Jodi Picoult. Ms Picoult fell through, but we were hoping it would be possible to somehow get a message or a signature from you for our friend’s birthday present. Do you think you could help us out?

Posted by Michelle, Sydney

A If you like, you can send one of my books to my agent’s address – Margaret Connolly, PO Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW 2076 – and I can sign it and send it back to you. My advice is that you put it in the mail ASAP, because I’ll be seeing her on Tuesday 22nd, and can pick it up from her then.

Q I finished Evil Genius in 3 days – what a great book. Am buying Genius Squad tomorrow – it is already available at our local bookstore. I read that you are still writing Genius Wars – any idea when it will be available in the US? Can’t wait to find out how everything sorts out! Thanks for the great series.

Posted by Jessica, Glen Valley, Virginia

A I’m afraid it’s going to be a couple of years before you see Genius Squad, simply because I doubt I’ll be finished writing it until Christmas at the earliest, and then it always takes ages before the book actually hits the bookshops, what with all the editing, printing, and marketing that has to be done. But I’m glad you like what you’ve read so far!


Friday, April 11

Q I have just finished reading The Inquisitor, which I chose for my independent novel study in my grade 11 English class. I really enjoyed the way you incorporated biblical passages in your novel and you have sparked my interest in studying medieval history. I was wondering if you could explain to me the predominant theme of the novel and what your purpose was for writing the novel.

Posted by Arnold, Guelph, Ontario

A I always thought a medieval inquisitor would be a great character for a book, and I was annoyed at the way Umberto Ecco portrayed Bernard Gui in The Name of the Rose. By the standards of the time, Bernard was quite a straight-up fellow, but he’s portrayed in that book as a nasty piece of work. What I wanted to do is show how even a decent person can get involved in something like the inquisition, and find themselves doing questionable things, because of the times in which they’re living. (This is an issue which has just as much relevance today, of course.)

I don’t know about the ‘theme’ of the novel because I don’t spend much time thinking about themes. Most of my books are about people looking for some kind of love, but I don’t know if that counts as a theme or not. One thing I did enjoy was portraying a bureaucracy constructed around a really outrageous purpose. There’s always a weird kind of black humour associated with ‘evil’ bureaucracies.

Q What inspired you to write Genius Squad? Was it the same inspiration as Evil Genius or different?

Posted by Diego, San Diego, California

A The reason I wrote Genius Squad was because I left Cadel dangling at the end of Evil Genius. He was – almost literally – in limbo. He’d started off in what he thought was a fairly stable family environment, and I needed to bring him back to a stable family environment.

The Genius Wars is being written because I still have to do something about Prosper English! That hasn’t been resolved yet.

Q First off – your husband went to Carleton? That’s awesome, that’s where my sister goes. I just graduated from the U of Ottawa (I studied history). Incidentally, I can really identify with Cadel in that I look a lot younger than my age (I’m 23, and everyone thinks I’m 15), and nobody takes me seriously – the guards in the building I go to for my work are continually talking down to me. On to Genius Squad – I’ve just finished it, having read it very slowly and carefully, in order to drag it out as long as possible, since it’s going to be another year or two until the last book in the trilogy’s released, right? I’m so worried I might accidentally die before I get to read it. Ever since I got Genius Squad in the mail, it’s all I’ve been thinking about from morning till night, and I’m analyzing plot points even while I’m working. And now that I’ve reread Part Four more carefully, I’ve got more comments and questions. I’m afraid this is going to be a really long message.

…. (Part of message extracted because of spoilers …) I LOVE Thaddeus’ character, he’s got this amazing mix of evilness, brilliance, and unexpected humour. He reminds me a bit of Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes books, only Prosper’s better. Who was it that said that it’s the guy in the suit you’ve got to watch out for? I love how his character so easily flips between mild-mannered professor and criminal overlord, and his pompous attitude is almost endearing rather than repelling, if you know what I mean….

(Part of message extracted because of spoilers …) I know this has been incredibly long post, but like I said, I’m totally obsessed (did I mention I’ve got both the Australian and American versions of Evil Genius, and I’m going to get the American version of Genius Squad when it comes out, even though I’ve already got the Australian version? Also, I’m writing this at two in the morning). It’s a rare book that has enough depth to keep you analyzing it long after you’ve finished reading it. You really are a storytelling genius. You must know a lot about computers to write these books, or do a lot of research – it’s made me really interested in IPs and proxies and all that – and it’s made me really paranoid as well (but I suck too much at computers to do much about it). And I love that you really make Cadel’s formidable intelligence believable – Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl isn’t nearly so convincing. I also like that you avoided the genius stereotype – Cadel doesn’t wear glasses, and he’s beautiful and innocent-looking, not at all what you’d expect a profoundly gifted kid to look like. Even his attitude is convincing, because even though he’s a genius, he also seems really naive and childish about a lot of stuff. In short, you’ve written some of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read, and I cannot wait for the third! What am I supposed to do with myself till then?

Posted by Chalotte, Ottawa, Ontario

A I’m sorry I’ve had to take out so many of your questions – maybe if you want specific responses you should ask them again in May, when Genius Squad is out in America and I can answer them freely, knowing that I’m not being unfair! Also, I can’t answer all your Genius Wars questions yet, because I haven’t even finished writing the book. However, there are a few things I can tell you.

Firstly, I get the impression that you think I’m really, really smart – and I’m not. I’m not nearly as clever as you think I am! The computer stuff was sucked out of other people (like my computer genius friend, who’s actually going to appear in the next book), and my plots aren’t as fiendishly clever as you’re anticipating, I’m afraid. I wish they were – I wish I could pull off dazzling scenarios – but to tell you the truth, I’m having a hard enough time putting together the Genius books as it is: they’re so big and unwieldy, with so much back-story and so many characters … it’s driving me spare, as we say over here. To add even more layers of complication (with regards to DNA – you know what I mean) would be beyond my powers. Though perhaps not beyond yours, I might add: you seem to be a bit of a fiendish plot person.

Also, for some reason, Prosper’s background has never interested me very much. Now, I wonder why that is? In a way, he’d probably make a terrific main character in his own right (like Hannibal Lector), but I’ve never really given much thought to his early days, perhaps because I’ve been too busy with the rest of this enormous, complex edifice that is the Genius trilogy. However, it’s perhaps worth thinking about. And if you want to post your own thoughts on Prosper’s background, by all means go ahead. Though maybe wait until after the beginning of May.

Thanks so much for your encouragement, though. I really need it at this juncture, because when you’re writing something like The Genius Wars, you need all the help you can get.


Tuesday, April 8

Q I wanted to write to you to let you know how much I am enjoying reading your novel, Evil Genius. The characters fit the novel perfectly and my favorite character is Cadel because he is extremely bright and is way beyond his years in the the intelligence department. I wanted to ask you a quick question: what made you come up with the plot in this story? Thank you very much in advance for your reply. I will keep reading your book.

Posted by Zack, New City, NY

A Thanks very much, Zack – it’s good to here that you’re enjoying my book. The idea for Evil Genius came from a comment my husband made, about one of my nephew’s action figures – which was called ‘Professor Gangrene’. My husband said, “What I want to know is, where do these people get their degrees from?” And my brother (who’s a university lecturer) said, “They get them from the University of Evil.” He went on to speculate that a University of Evil would probably teach both Pure and Applied Evil, and there would be a lot of sniping between departments.

I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I used it as the premise of a book – after I’d seen Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings. I loved the notion of someone as innocent-looking as Frodo being a real little piece of work. Cadel’s appearance is therefore based on that of Elijah Wood in that movie.


Monday, March 31

Q What age group is The Reformed Vampire Support Group for?

Posted by V, Melbourne

A I would say, probably young adult to adult. The heroine was 15 when she was bitten (back in 1973) and she still looks fifteen, despite her advanced age.

Q I’m absolutely busting with emotion and I’ve got to write! I’m from Canada, but I wasn’t about to wait till May for the Americanized version so I ordered Genius Squad from Australia, and it finally got here. I must admit that I read about a hundred pages desperately trying not to resort to my usual spoil-the-ending read-ahead, but I ended up skipping ahead to where Prosper came in, and then reading to the end. But I’ll be going back to read the rest of it, of course, I just couldn’t wait for Prosper. [Text removed, by permission, because of spoilers!] … Even though Saul is Canadian, and I practically squealed when I found out he worked for the RCMP (no one ever mentions Canada in a book unless it’s written by a Canadian), I can’t help HATING him because he’s taking Prosper’s place. And even if Prosper’s cruel, I really do think he loves Cadel. I loved the parts where he’s almost pathologically obsessed with ensuring Cadel doesn’t come to even the slightest bit of harm … I really think the strongest element in this trilogy is the Prosper (who I continue to think of as Thaddeus)/Cadel relationship … And Saul kind of ticks me off with his self-righteous “I wouldn’t stick a gun in my kid’s face” talk. He doesn’t understand where Thaddeus is coming from, what Thaddeus’ background is. Not that I do, either, but I’m sure it must be interesting. So that’s all I’ve got to say right now, but there’ll no doubt be more once I’ve continued on from page 100-ish and caught up with the ending. I love these books, the Thaddeus/Cadel relationship gives me such inspiration for my own characters.

Posted by Chalotte, Ottawa, Canada

A I’m sorry I had to take so much of your message out, Chalotte (or was that supposed to be Charlotte?), but, as you said, there were too many spoilers in it – I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for other people. Let me just say that your comments were so insightful – many of them absolutely on the money – that I’m not surprised you write your own stuff. You have an obvious instinct for the emotional underpinnings of a novel; the reason that the Cadel/Prosper relationship is the strongest element of this book is that it was intended to be. Without it, there would have been no book. A lot of people never pick up on that, but you did.

I am not, however, going to confirm or deny any of your speculations – because I want you to buy the next book! (How else am I going to afford the ongoing fees for this website?) Thanks for your encouragement, though; writing The Genius Wars is proving to be a really hard slog, and comments like yours keep me going, energised by the fact that there are people out there who actually want to see the end product.

Incidentally, my husband used to live in Ottawa. He did his journalism degree there, at Carleton University. He has some very fond memories of the place.


Sunday, March 23

Q I just finished Genius Squad and I loved it! I also heard you were writing another book in the Evil Genius series called Genius Wars. Would you happen to know when that may be coming out?

Posted by Cassie, Sydney

A I’m so glad you loved Genius Squad – often sequels don’t pass muster, so it’s a relief to know that this one measured up! Unfortunately, I’m still in the process of writing The Genius Wars, and it’s going to be a long, slow process. You probably won’t see it until the end of 2009 at the very earliest – more likely 2010.


Wednesday, March 19

Q Ever since I first read Pagan in Year 8 I’ve wanted to write to you, but I’ve always tried to avoid clichés and wasn’t quite sure how clichéd contacting a favourite author would be. At this point in my life, however, it is most definitely time to write to you and thank you for Pagan and all the other books and characters I fell in love with nine years ago. I loved Pagan’s Crusade from the very first page, and had read the sequels by the end of the term. By Year 9, thanks to Pagan, Father Clement and Abbot Anselm, I was enrolled in Latin through Distance Education, because the bits of Latin in Pagan’s Vows were so tantalising that I had to find out more. When I reached Melbourne Uni and had access to the wonderful wonderful library, I remembered Pagan and in the first week I borrowed Boethius and Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium. I’m finishing my Arts Honours course at the moment and have kept up Latin to this very day. I’m a teacher myself now and am definitely planning on teaching Latin once I graduate from Honours as well. I’m also writing my thesis on the Albigensian Crusade, thanks to Pagan and Isidore, and am driving the waiters at my local creperie into hysterics at my terrible French (which I’m learning for my castle-in-the-clouds trip to Carcassonne). Also I have a similarly adoring message from some customers at my second job, in a local café – the elderly couple come for coffee and sit for hours reading, and one day I struck up a conversation with them. We discovered that we both love historical fiction and started a book-swap, and they fell in love with your novels as well, especially The Notary, and when I told them I wanted to write to you, asked me to pass on their compliments as well.

One thing more – if you don’t have time to reply that’s fine, but I’d love to know: have you ever been to Languedoc? Was your History thesis about the Crusades? What’s your favourite of all the novels you’ve written? Did you study Boethius and Cicero at uni or did you research all the Classical cross-references in Pagan’s Vows on your own? Can you speak any Occitan? Where did you learn Latin? How did you become interested in the medieval Languedoc? Was Helie in The Secret Familiar based on a real person?

I know this email is far too long but I don’t really care if it’s too big for any message board, I just want you to know that you have been probably the single biggest influence on my academic life and have invented characters I can’t and won’t ever forget. My early interest in good literature and history was cemented through your novels. I’m glad that your novels are published internationally and you don’t expect to stop writing [books] any time soon, because I’m as big a fan at the age of twenty-two as I was at thirteen. And if there isn’t a sequel to Pagan’s Daughter in the future I will be heartbroken. I would try to dream up a scarier threat but I have to go translate another two chapters of Caesar for tomorrow, and my tutor is a young female version of Father Clement. Thank you a million times over, please keep the books coming and do whatever it is you do that makes your stories so brilliant.

Posted by Laura, Melbourne

A Gosh, Laura. I honestly don’t know what to say. This has to be one of the most moving messages I’ve ever received in my life – and one of the scariest. You just don’t realise what kind of effect your books can have on people, until you’re actually told that they’ve influenced somebody’s career decisions. It’s a sobering thought.

I’m extremely pleased, however, that you’ve decided to teach Latin, because Latin teachers seem to be a rare breed, these days, and I had a great one, at school. (What’s more, my mother will be chuffed; she used to be a Latin teacher herself!)

To answer your questions: I’ve never been to Languedoc (though I have been to Avignon, briefly); I can’t speak Occitan; my history thesis was on ‘Sumptuary Legislation in 14th-century Florence’ (the most hilarious subject); I studied Cicero and Boethius in only the most cursory fashion at university, as part of my medieval history course, and did the rest of the research later, with the help of my old history tutor, John O. Ward; John was the one who first got me interested in medieval Languedoc through his ‘Heresy to Witchcraft’ course; I learned Latin at school, but have employed it very little since (John Ward, who’s a medieval Latinist, helped me with a lot of my Latin references in the Pagan books – as did my mother); Helie was not a real person, though most of the other people in The Secret Familiar were; and to be honest, my favourite novel is usually the one I’ve just written –which, in this case, is an unpublished book called The Reformed Vampire Support Group. But the Pagan books have always remained close to my heart, and are certainly way up there on my list.

Good luck on your Albigensian Crusade thesis. It seems to be such a popular topic, these days: once upon a time no one knew who the Cathars were (to my continual annoyance) but now, thanks largely to The Da Vinci Code, they’re everywhere! And thanks so very much for your incredibly generous tribute – messages like yours are the best part of being a writer.


Saturday, March 8

Q Finished Genius Squad last night, and though I feel bereaved of one of my favourite father/son combinations, I’m still anticipating the next book in the saga. As I recall you said something about concentrating hard this year on finishing Genius Wars, so best of luck with that.

Posted by V, Melbourne

A Hooray! Someone’s been reading Genius Squad! And hasn’t been turned off the very idea of the next one! Let’s hope that lots and lots of other people follow suit! (Thanks for leading the way!)


Monday, March 3

Q I luv Evil Genius and I’m dying to get my hands on Genius Squad. Will there be any Axis teachers in the second book? And can you tell me what happened to Doris? And you wrote that Kunio commited hara-kiri. What the heck is hara-kiri?! Keep up the writing!!

Posted by Rachel, Joplin

A I’m afraid there will only be a couple of Axis teachers in Genius Squad (I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you which ones), but rest assured there are other, new characters who share some of the same quirky and/or sinister qualities. To be honest with you, I’m not exactly sure what happened to Doris, though I’ve a suspicion she didn’t make it. And hari-kiri is that Japanese suicide ceremony, which is regarded as an honourable way to go if you’ve brought shame upon yourself and your family.


Tuesday, February 26

Q I recently picked up Evil Genius at a book store and I loved it!! It was really clever and original, so I’ve chosen you for my Author Study assignment in English class. However, part of the assignment is reading 2 books by the author that really shows their style. I was wondering if you could reccomend another book of yours that you think really gives a good idea of your style, or what you think your best work is. Also, for my project, where did you get started as a writer? Was it always something you were interested in? Or was there a certain event or book that really inspired you? Thanks, and I can’t wait for Genius Squad!

Posted by Davana, Cheshire, CT, USA

A Many thanks for your kind words – it’s always nice to hear from satisfied readers! Unfortunately, it won’t be easy for you to find many of my books in the USA, since few of them have been published there. Your only other option is one of the books from The Pagan Chronicles – either Pagan’s Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan’s Vows or Pagan’s Scribe. It has to be said that these books have a very distinctive style (first person, present tense) that you won’t find in any of my other novels. They are, however, some of my best work: if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have made it to America. So I suppose they’d be a good choice.

I got started as a writer in Australia, and I was pretty much always interested in writing books: from about the age of eight, as I recall. When you love books as much as I did (and still do), it’s inevitable that you should want to write them!

Q You are a genius. I love your writing and I loved the Pagan Chronicles. I cannot wait until I can get my hands on the next Pagan book. How you can get the inspiration to write those many books in diffrent age groups is really mind boggling.

Posted by BrookeLynn, Orem

A I wish I really was a genius, but thanks anyway! And I hope you like the next Pagan book as much as you obviously liked the others.


Sunday, February 3

Q Thank you for the prompt reply! I was also wondering if you thought Eglantine would be considered suitable for academic critique? I am using your book to suggest that children’s literature, despite its simplicity, is worthy of the same rigorous critical analysis as adult books. Many people have suggested that your book has a feminist approach to it (I agree). What are your comments on this? In my interpretation this is because your female characters are not traditional depictions of women, and have not necessarily conformed to social expectations that anorexia victims often suffer from. Perhaps Eglantine reflects the ideology that anorexia is still a relevant concern, as she has stuck around to finish her story.

Posted by Jaymie, Nowra, NSW

A Sorry about the delay in replying – I was away for a couple of days. To be honest with you, since I never studied English at university (just history and art), I’m not very good at answering these sorts of lit. crit. questions – especially since I don’t think about or approach writing in that kind of way. I fall in love with or become obsessed with something (or someone) and write about it. You could say that I focus on the technical, rather than the theoretical. As far as my characters not being traditional depictions of women, I suppose that’s possible – at least for main characters, because main characters have to be really interesting if you want to keep your audience reading, and any kind of stereotype is a bore. A reviewer said recently that I was a ‘debunker’ and I realised that it’s true: I do like undermining or playing with traditional concepts, genres etc. (Especially the ones that annoy me!) But it’s also true that I’m a feminist, in the purest sense; I was brought up to believe that women and men should be equal, and that I should only have to shoulder half of the housework responsibilities. I was also brought up to believe that all relationships are based on politics – that is, the sharing and distribution of power – which I suppose is a bit of a feminist perspective.

With regards to the anorexia question, I have to admit I was attracted to the idea of Victorian anorexia because it had a slightly Gothic quality to it – and because anorexia is such a desperate expression of rage against confinement of some sort. But just because I don’t consciously explore themes and theories in my books doesn’t mean they’re not there. As I’ve discovered over the years, a writer’s best work is often done unconsciously: things come together in a miraculous sort of way, as if hidden forces have been at work, without your conscious collaboration. (This sounds incredibly affected, but it’s true: sometimes I’ll suddenly go – “Wow! Look at that! It’s symbolic! How did I manage that?”)

Hope this helps.


Sunday, January 27

Q Evil Genius was one of the best books that I’ve read! For me it’s right up there with the book Ender’s Game and The Road to Damuscus. I may have spelled that last book wrong but it was a really good book and I think that you would really like it.

Posted by Ian, Woodinville

A Thanks for the recommendation! And I’m so glad that you enjoyed Evil Genius. Fingers crossed that you approve of the sequel, as well; I’m very nervous about how it’s going to be received.

Q I have just finished reading Eglantine. I enjoyed it very much! However I was wondering what the main purpose of the book was? I would suggest that it was written as an informit for Anorexia. However I am also inclined to believe it is about self awareness and discovery, to ensure you are aware of the typical characteristics of an Anorexic person, to avoid going down the same path. However if there was a more insightful purpose to this book I would love to hear it!!

Posted by Jaymie, Nowra, NSW

A To be honest, the reason I wrote Eglantine was because a friend of mine – Ursula – once spoke about how someone had written something strange and indecipherable on the outside wall of her house, and how disturbing she’d found it, because she didn’t know what it meant. I was also interested in exploring the idea that ghosts must hang around for a reason – that they are essentially a manifestation of some desperate need: in this case, the desperate need to finish a story (which I can understand very well). But the anorexia theme was also important; I wanted to remind people that it’s not a new, ‘faddy’ condition, but has been a recognisable illness for at least a hundred years. I don’t know if these are more insightful reasons, exactly, but they all motivated me.


Friday, January 11

Q Greetings from England (still no sign of Pagan #3 and #4 here – had to have mine rushed over from Australia!). Personal favourite bit – Pagan and Saladin and the aftermath. So touching. It’s great to see so many other beautiful comments from fans of Pagan on here! The sort of things I’d like to say to you have already been said (chiefly please write more!). What I wanted to suggest now is this – there are thousands of fan websites for Harry Potter – so what about setting an official one up for Pagan? Message Boards would be brilliant for people to discuss the finer points of the storyline, there could be a section for fan art and even fan fiction (if you can bear it!). Just a thought. If one were to appear I’d love to participate and I’m sure others would.

Posted by Greg, Leeds, UK

A Actually, there does already appear to be a fansite – if you google ‘pagansfandom’, you should find it – and I daresay it needs all the participants it can get, if you want to track it down. Sorry about the #3 and #4 non-appearance; because the first two didn’t sell well enough for Harper Collins in Britain, they decided not to publish the others after all. (Fortunately, Pagan’s been welcomed far more enthusiastically in America!) However, it’s nice to know that there are some people in the U.K. who appreciate the series enough to be importing books from Australia. Thanks very much for your staunch support!


Tuesday, January 8

Q I was wondering what happened in the end of Piggy in the Middle??? There was like a news paper article and that’s all. I really wanted to find out what happened. And who gave you inspiration for Slam in What’s Hector McKerrow Doing These Days? I really want to know! :-) I also think you are one of the greatest authors ever! P.S. I loved Living Hell!

Posted by S.O. Inoz, Brisbane

A To be honest, it’s such a long, long time since I wrote those books that I can’t really remember where my inspiration for Slam came from – though I suspect he may have emerged from a particular piece of music. (Adamina, for instance, sprang from a song by Alannis Morisset.) As for the ending of Piggy in the Middle, I have a strong feeling that none of the three main characters had very happy lives subsequent to the events described in the book – though I doubt that Dallas would have received a very heavy custodial sentence, all things considered.


Saturday, January 5

Q How much of your Pagan series is fact, and how much is fiction? Was there really a Lord Roland and Pagan?

Posted by Dawn, Melbourne

A Sorry about the delay in replying – I was away over Christmas. The answer to your question is that while Roland, Pagan, and Roland’s family are all fictional characters, many of the events and people in the series are historical: all the major figures in Jerusalem, Carcassonne and Toulouse were real, as were the various seiges depicted in the series. I also tried very hard to get my geography right.



Sunday, December 23

Q I’ve read a few of your books and every one of them seems better than the last! I think my favourite was Evil Genius which I read in 2005, and I thought it was excellent! I didn’t even know there was going to be a sequel but you find out new things every day! Anyway, I recently read Pagan’s Daughter without reading the other four but I still thought that was fantastic! I really loved Babylonne – she’s one of a kind, the way you depicted her! There was something I wanted to ask you – at the back of Pagan’s Daughter, it said you lived in the Blue Mountains NSW, which is actually fairly close to where I live. I was wondering – are you going to do any book tours? It’s not in your hands, I realise, but do you think you could in the release of Genius Squad? I’d certainly come! So please, do you think you could do something about that? Well, can’t wait for more of your novels! I love your writing and thank you for letting me do something on a Saturday afternoon.

Posted by Nadia, Sydney

A I’m flattered that you’d like to see me in person, because I’m not that interesting, really! The trouble is, I’ve just signed a contract to write the third book in the ‘Genius’ trilogy (it’s going to be called The Genius Wars), and I have to have the book finished by the end of 2008. Since it’s going to be a very big book, and a lot of work, I’ve decided to go easy on the public appearances for a while – unless it’s absolutely necessary. So I probably won’t be doing many scool visits next year. Maybe the year after, though!

Q I just wanted to say that your book Evil Genius was such a good book. The entire time I read it I could not put it down. At the back of the book it said Genius Squad was coming out soon. I was just wondering when is it coming out and also is it the sequel to Evil Genius?

Posted by Mackenzie, Castle Rock

A Genius Squad is indeed the sequel to Evil Genius, and it will be coming out in May 2008 – in America, at least. (In Australia it will be available in March.) I hope you end up enjoying the second book as much as you liked the first: it makes me very anxious, wondering how people are going to react to the sequel.

Q In Evil Genius, I was wondering if what Sonja wrote in code to Cadel in the last page of the book meant: “I have to see you”. PS: I really enjoyed your book.

Posted by Gabriel, Yonkers

A Well done! That’s exactly what it meant! And I’m glad you enjoyed Evil Genius.


Friday, December 21

Q I think Evil Genius is a heaps good story! At the back of the book it says Genius Squad is coming soon. Is that the book that continues after Evil Genius? And when is it out? Thank you.

Posted by Jess

A Yes, Genius Squad is book number two in the trilogy – and since you seem to be American (having obviously read the American edition), you’ll be seeing Genius Squad in the shops in May 2008. In Australia, it’s going to be out a little earlier: in March, to be precise!

Q Thank you so much for your detailed response to my comment, I really appreciate it. As a reader, Pagan’s devastation at losing Roland provokes my curiosity, as it makes me feel they must have worked together or faced more trials, during those twenty years, to have stayed such friends till the end. I also feel invested in Pagan’s journey independent of his bond with Roland. So, although you have many fictional worlds to nurture (and, fortunately, for me to explore), I will remain hoping fondly that you may write more of the adult Pagan’s life ‘one day’. No response needed, of course, just wished to say thank you.

Posted by Carol, UK

A You’re welcome!


Wednesday, December 19

Q Thank you very much for the privilege of being able to respond to your work via this website, which I have just discovered. I would like to thank you very heartily for the Pagan Books. I am one of your adult readers (I’ve been reading books for all ages since childhood, I’ve never obeyed any distinction) and these books occupy a special place in my affections. I read the first volume through an interest in historical novels of the period, but was instantly charmed by Pagan’s wit and courage. I felt that my journey with him was one of emotion as well as adventure, one that stayed with me long after I finished reading. The downside for the author of a beloved series must be that the audience is never satisfied! You must hear this constantly, but I am so disappointed that Pagan’s ‘account’ stops at Book Three. I must be one of millions of readers still curious about the ‘missing’ twenty years of Pagan’s existence. Oh, Pagan, how could you leave us so bereft! At some point, I would dearly love to see a novel or three about Pagan’s experiences, in his ‘own words’, at a medieval university, about the growth of his career and his relationship through the years with Roland which provokes such a tragic episode in Book Four. (Although readers of any age should never be underestimated, there is nothing that says books about an adult Pagan need be marketed only at teens. And of course the original audience of this series has grown up since the books were first published). And after Carcassonne, Pagan apparently found time to father a daughter, surely another novel in itself! Pagan’s voice makes the first three books a unified work. Book Four is, for me, the epilogue to that trilogy. By ‘slipping the baton’, first to Isidore, then to Babylonne, the cycle of mentor/student is repeated and readers are not privileged to witness the development of mature peer relationships ‘from the inside’. Some protagonists may be easy to farewell at this point in their journey, but not Pagan. Pagan is one of those fictional creations that come along very rarely, that burst alive from the page, full of humour, insight and humanity, that carve a permanent warm niche in the reader’s affections almost as vibrant as that of a living friend. He is a wonderful testament to his creator and will have his devoted followers for many generations to come. I do hope that your busy schedule and hard-working muse will one day allow you to revisit his life, to the delight of us all.

Posted by Carol, UK

A Oh dear – Pagan’s missing 20 years seems to be a sore point with just about everybody. I’m glad he’s so loved that demands are being made for an account of his early adulthood; it’s very flattering, really. The trouble is, there are all kinds of problems inherent in such a task. I suppose you’ve answered one of the objections: the fact that they wouldn’t be teen novels any more. Their hero would no longer be a teenager, and his interior voice would inevitably change: you’d end up with something a bit more like the narrator’s voice in my adult novel The Notary. The notary in question is a little like Pagan in some ways, though not quite as bright, and perhaps a bit wilder in his pursuits. Also, let’s face it – sex would play a very, VERY large part in Pagan’s university career, universities being what they were, back then (and now!). You might say: well, you can talk about sex in teen novels, but remember: a lot of 11-year-olds read these books, and Pagan’s Crusade has been part of the year-eight curriculum in some schools. So a kind of medieval Porky’s wouldn’t go down too well.

The other big problem is something I’ve discussed previously on this message board: the fact that the Pagan series is about the relationship between Pagan and Roland, with every book representing a big change in that relationship. Well, during those 20 missing years, I doubt that there would have been any big changes. Pagan would have seen very little of Roland, they would have been following successful career paths without much deviation, and their feelings for each other would have been constant, mutual and satisfactory. They say happy marriages are not the stuff of fiction, and I would add that happy long-distant friendships aren’t, either – especially when the importance of the Pagan/Roland relationship is not so much the individual characters themselves but the archetypal structure of the emotional link between a young person looking for love and a place of safety (emotionally speaking) and an older person who can provide the ‘home’ or ‘family’ needed by the younger. That’s what the Pagan series is all about. Hence the Isidore/Pagan set-up, and the Babylonne/Isidore set-up. Isidore and Babylonne have both found what they need because Roland gave Pagan a role model in the art of providing a safe haven for a lost soul. That’s Roland’s legacy, passed down from Roland to Pagan to Isidore.

(Incidentally, I couldn’t tell Pagan’s Scribe in Pagan’s voice for another very good reason: because the chapter on Roland’s death would have been a collection of blank pages. It would have been impossible to write a convincing interior monologue for someone in as much pain as Pagan would have been, at that point in time. He would have been incoherent. Lost for words.)

Another message board correspondent suggested that the focus be on the relationship between Pagan and Jordan, during those missing 20 years. I suppose it would be possible – I can just see Jordan trying to lead Pagan astray in some adult romp through the lower dens of Toulouse and Marseilles – but what you’d end up with would not be part of the Pagan Chronicles. It would be something else entirely, because it would have a slightly different interior voice and because it’s focus would no longer be the Pagan/Roland relationship. Maybe that’s all right – maybe a set of adult books on Pagan would work. And maybe I’ll write them, one day. But they won’t be the kind of Pagan books that so many people now and love.

Thanks very much for your input, though. It’s wonderful to know that these issues are actually important to someone!


Saturday, December 15

Q I really love your Pagan series, I have read all of them over and over. I really like how your style of writing really draws you into the story, and it’s like you’re actually there.

Posted by Dawn, Melbourne

A That’s awfully nice to hear – I’m also someone who reads my favourite books over and over again, so we’re obviously kindred spirits!


Monday, December 3

Q Thanks for your kind answer! And whatever needs shortening, fix it, I don’t care, it really helps me. I’m honored to have Catherine Jinks as my momentary English teacher. And oh: Pagan’s father is truly an Arabian lord! I really loved Lawrence of Arabia; I was very touched to read his autobiography. I can imagine the raven haired warrior. But I’d never thought of the Pagan series as teen fiction. Its style is no more childish than some adult bestsellers. And it’s very useful to an adult, saying Pagan’s vivid curses in silence. His way of laughing at the world really helps in dire situation. I think adults need these books more than teenagers. Our world is harsher than theirs. We need Pagan’s brave and lively spirit, smartness and humor too! And Crusaders against Cathars – that’s one of my interests in history. I know Count Raymond, Carcassonne, Monsegur and Languedoc, but don’t remember Bram. Yet I remember the terrible episode of the one-eyed man and the blind men. Yes, Bram is a real place too. And now many people remember this city as the hometown of Roland and Jordan.

Posted by Lee, Seoul, South Korea

A Sorry, Lee – I had to tweak your message again! Actually, Bram isn’t so much a city as a village or very small town – and it never did have a castle. (That was made up.) But I’m glad Pagan’s wisecracks and general attitude have helped you to get through tough times. For a writer, there can be no greater compliment than finding out that your story has made life easier for someone.


Monday, November 26

Q Hi, I’m fascinated by Pagan’s chronicle. Unfortunately, in my nation South Korea, it still isn’t published; I heard about this fiction from a Korean in Australia, and bought Candlewick Press books from an Internet bookstore. This fiction makes me joyful and heartbroken. Every book is perfect – the only flaw of this story is that it’s so short! Too short! I would gladly read ten books in the chronicle. Especially I wanted to know about Pagan’s father, and Pagan’s education. Where is Pagan’s study time? How did Pagan become a cleric? He thought himself not one for the church. How did Pagan and Jordan become good friends? The twenty years are missing. You leave me blind like illiterate Roland. The gap is so deep, vast, enormous, large. It bothers me greatly, like Pagan’s tonsure. I thought that maybe when he studied in Carcasonne, Jordan helped him; Jordan is a very dangerous man, but he can be a totally different man for Pagan, as Isidore saw.

I want to know about medieval universities where students duelled with words and swords; I like the Middle Ages – your vivid description is so brilliant. I really love Bram, and its family that discusses dung at dinner. Ha Ha Ha! It’s very hard to hate your characters, even if they are bog heads and wicked – they look so cute through Pagan’s cute words!! And I want to know about Jordan, your most spectacular character next to Pagan – how he lived, how he killed his brother, how he raised his son, how he loved Pagan for all his life, how he died as a captive. And I like the viscount too, the very poor and tragic knight. I want to see how Jordan and Pagan became his right and left hands. Their cooperation is perfect. Oops, I write for so long, but trust me, I tried to shorten it. Of course it’s just fan’s a wish – the decision is yours. I just want to tell my wish, and give my thanks and my love for you, wondrous author. And forgive my poor English; as you see, it’s not my mother tongue. Anyway your literary style makes me love English more. Be happy and healthy; I want you to be happy, for you make me happy with your very delightful and sad stories. How wondrous: happiness and sorrow can be a complete pair. So different, yet making each other more prominent.

Posted by Lee, Seoul, South Korea

A Thanks for your message, Lee – as you can see, I had to shorten it a little (because it was SO long!) and fix up the English just a bit, to make it easier for people to read; I hope you don’t mind, and I assure you that your English is way, way better than my Korean! (Since I can’t, in fact, speak or read Korean.) To be honest with you, I was going to write about Pagan’s father; he was going to be an Arab aristocrat (and friend of Saladin) who had raped Pagan’s mother. But when Pagan went off to France, I lost my opportunity to pursue that thread, and abandoned it. As for the twenty years that are missing, feel free to imagine whatever you like about them; the reason I never wrote about them myself was because Pagan would have been getting a bit old to be the hero of what’s generally marketed as teen fiction (even though a lot of adults read the books) and also because the Pagan books were always built around crises in the Pagan/Roland relationship. Since Roland and Pagan were separated for most of those twenty years, I just didn’t see any way of tackling them. But I’m so glad the books make you happy, and I offer my very best wishes to you, too.
Saturday, November 24

Q Hi, first I want to that you for the intensely enjoyable experience that was the Pagan books. I love historical fiction set in that era, and your series was probably the most original take on it I’ve seen. I wanted to ask if you could tell me about the origins of Pagan’s name? I remember there was a character with that name in Kevin Crossly-Hollands Arthur trilogy. It was mentioned there that it wa derived from “villager”, but I was wondering if you knew how it changed meaning and when it stopped being used as a common name? Also, how did you choose it and others names for your characters? Sorry for the long question and thank you again!

Posted by Angela, Victoria, British Columbia

A ‘Pagan’ is actually derived from the Latin word ‘paganus’, meaning a peasant, villager or countryman. When Christianity started to become the main European religion, it crept out of the cities into the country – but the last traces of the old Roman gods were found in rural areas. (Hence the word’s change of meaning.) However, the old meaning did linger, especially in France, so back in medieval times ‘Pagan’ didn’t have quite the same sinister sound as it does now. I suspect that the name stopped being used when the ‘peasant’ definition was superseded by the ‘non-Christian’ definition – though I’m not absolutely sure when that might have been.

As for choosing my names – well, I have a lot of medieval research material on hand, and I tend to collect medieval names whenever I find them in my reading. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much variety back then (most men in southern France were called Pierre, Bernard, Pons or Guillaume), so it’s always quite difficult to dig up something a little different!

Q Thanks for answering my question about Evil Genius! I was pretty sure of the answer, but when you devour a book you want to know EVERYTHING. As for your ‘obscure’ books, don’t forget that libraries everywhere still have lots of out-of-print material, even if the bookshops don’t. For example, my school library alone has a back catalogue of virtually all your books, even ‘This Way Out’! Anyway, I hope I’m not going into question-asking overkill here, but I have a few more about ‘EG’: Does Prosper/Thaddeus really have all those Psych degrees, or was posing as a psychologist just part of his alias? Also, I was wondering who named Cadel (eg his mother, Phineas etc)? I’d come across the name Cadel too, though I believe Cadel means “little battle” because ‘el’ is a diminutive suffix in Welsh. And I also remember during the Piggotts’ tour of the Axis Institute, Thaddeus takes Cadel down into the bowels of the library, and at one point Cadel thinks he sees something non-human out of the corner of his eye. Did this scene have any significance beyond building up a picture of Axis as a nasty and paranoid place, because I don’t remember anything about that scene coming up later in the book. And lastly, after finding out that the Piggotts were in the Darkkon Empire’s employ all along, I think most people would go back and read the beginning where Cadel and the Piggotts “first” meet Thaddues. I know the Chapter One is essentially giving a background to Cadel, but why are his adoptive parents talking to Thaddeus like he has no idea what’s going on? Was it for Cadel’s benefit, because he didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the adults’ conversation anyway. Thanks again for answering my previous post. This message board is great!

Posted by V, Melbourne

A Okay! Let’s see, now. I suspect that Thaddeus does have a few psych degrees (maybe via correspondence course), because manipulating people is what he likes to do and a bit of psychology wouldn’t hurt for that kind of thing. Cadel was definitely named by his father, because it’s a violent sort of name. The ‘first’ meeting between Thaddeus and the Piggotts was engineered for Cadel’s benefit, simply because they knew the kid was so bright, and therefore couldn’t take any risks. Finally, with regard to the library – it was once going to play a much bigger part, and there was going to be a very sinister librarian etc., but my publishers decided there were just too many peripheral names to master, so I cut out the library stuff – including the ‘thing’ living in the stacks.

I’m glad you like the message board. People kept on telling me to do a blog, but I think this is sufficient, don’t you?


Friday, November 23

Q I loved Living Hell, it was terrific! I’m doing a bio on Catherine Jinks and I need info!

Posted by Erin, Brisbane

A Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place – this website is a mine of info (you can even print out a bio from the About Catherine Jinks page, if you want). And I’m glad you liked Living Hell.


Monday, November 19

Q Love your stuff, and I’m looking forward to Genius Squad (only I saw that it was recommended for 12-16 year-olds and now I feel wizened at 17!). Anyway, this might be obvious and I’m just missing the point, but on page 464 of Evil Genius (Aus edition) I wasn’t exactly sure what ‘clicked inside Cadel’s head’. I also noticed that you really like the name ‘Prosper’ (though Mr English will always be Thadd to me): there’s also a Prosper in Hector McKerrow and a Prospero in The Stinking Great Lie. I hope you come to Melbourne soon so I can ambush you and get you to sign the second edition of Pagan’s Crusade that I salvaged from my school library :D Happy writing.

Posted by V, Melbourne

A Wow! I can’t believe how many obscure books of mine you’ve read! And speaking of obscure, I’m sorry if page 464 was a bit on the oblique side. What I actually meant was that Cadel realised Thaddeus probably wouldn’t kill him, because he was too attached to him – therefore ‘Cadel hadn’t been expecting’ a shot further down the page. But I do see that the gap’s perhaps a little too lengthy. Sorry about that.

I have to say, I’d completely forgotten about the Prosper in Hector McKerrow. I think you’re more of an authority on my books than I am. As for getting down to Melbourne … well, I haven’t any plans at present, but you never know. Keep an eye on the Upcoming Events page.

Saturday, November 3

Q I absolutely LLLLLOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEE the Pagan Series. I even suggested it to my mum and she thought they were awesome. I love the way they are so quick and nothing is never happening. My teacher told us we had to do a character study and she said mine was so good she would have to keep it for other years to come. Please don’t stop writing I’m begging you!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. I don’t really think you should write a sequel for Pagan’s Daughter. I like the finish how it is.

Posted by Mason, Melbourne

A Your character study was great, Mason – it was just a bit too long to put in here. But I loved it; I thought it was spot-on. And thanks for your kind words about the Pagan books. I suppose, in a way, the fact that you don’t want any more sequels is a compliment; I guess it means you think the series is perfect as it stands!

Q I love Eye to Eye, it’s such a great book. Will you ever write any sequels? Have you ever considered it?

Posted by Thomas, Adelaide, South Australia

A I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a sequel to Eye to Eye, largely because the book itself is out of print. But I very much appreciate the fact that you’ve written to me about it. I find it hugely encouraging that people are still reading some of my out-of-print books; it’s like finding out that somebody isn’t dead after all!


Monday, October 29

Q The back of Evil Genius had a page saying Genius Squad would be coming soon but I can’t find anything about it? Is it a sequel then to Evil Genius? I hope so because I just HAVE to know what happens to Cadel! I will be on pins and needles. Can you give a little hint for me? I almost wish he could have stayed with Thaddeus/Prosper b/c I think Thaddeus genuinely does love him despite his most questionable actions.

Posted by Tammy, Lynchburg, VA

A Yes, Genius Squad is the sequel to Evil Genius, and will be published in the United States in May 2008. I’m also going to be writing a third book in the series – The Genius Wars – and Thaddeus/Prosper is going to be in that one, as well as the second one. So don’t worry; you haven’t seen the last of him!


Sunday, October 21

Q I was wondering if there is another book that will follow your book Evil Genius because I am reading it at the moment and it would be really good. The book so far is really really good. I think other readers will want another book that will follow Evil Genius.

Posted by Lorna, Melbourne

A I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Evil Genius; you’ll be pleased to know that the sequel, Genius Squad, will be available in Australia in March 2008.


Sunday, October 14

Q I find Evil Genius promising . . . I place it in my reference section under the ‘fictional biography portfolios’ section. Cadel Piggott’ s fictional experiences are placed between Olaf Gundersson from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels and another non-publishable novel character. It would be entertaining to find a mix of both these two portfolios in your next book – VERY intriguing!

Posted by Florence, Vladivostok, Russia

A I am very, very excited to be getting a message from Russia! Thanks so much for making contact. And I hope you find Genius Squad as promising as Evil Genius.


Tuesday, October 9

Q I just finished reading Evil Genius and I absolutely loved it!!!!! Your writing is fantastic!!!! Now I heard there is a second book (Genius Squad) to be expected in May. I am so excited!!! I was wondering if you could tell me if Prosper plays a major part in Genius Squad? I personally think that he’s one of the main attractions of the book for myself and my friends. Can’t wait till May!!!!

Posted by Molly

A It depends what you mean by a ‘major part’. Prosper English does appear in Genius Squad, but I’m not going to tell you how important he is, or I might give too much away – in fact I think I’ve given too much away already! But I’m gld you like him so much, because I do too – even though he is a terrible arch-villain. There’s just something about him …


Tuesday, October 9

Q For my school report, I need to mail you a letter. I was wondering what adress I could use to send the letter since it was not on your site. Loved Evil Genius!

Posted by Cam, Natick

A I think your best bet would be to send it to my agent, Margaret Connolly, at P.O. Box 945, Wahroonga, NSW 2076 Australia.

Saturday, September 29

Q Hey Mrs. Catherine! I have finished Evil Genius recently, and so has my friend, Yasmine. We were really wondering when Genius Squad was going to be out in the market for the United States. Do you have any idea?

Posted by Whitney, Atlanta

A You can expect it in May 2008.

Monday, September 17

Q Thank you so much for Evil Genius! How do you pronounce Cadel’s name? Also, I’ve noticed that it’s more often spelled with two l’s. Why did you change it?

Posted by Rae

A I’ve never actually seen it spelled with two Ls, but then I’ve rarely seen it spelled out at all; I got the name out of a ‘names for your baby’ book, and it was spelled with one L there. For a very long time I didn’t encounter it again – and then I heard that there was a famous Australian cyclist called Cadel, and that his name was pronounced to rhyme with Adele, rather than ladle. So I guess that’s how Cadel Piggott’s name is pronounced, too!

Monday, September 17

Q The 4th book in the Pagan series was totally beautiful and unique. I never thought I would ever do this, but I had to go upstairs because I was crying so much. The fourth book gives so much depth to the series. I love it! i just wanted to ask something about the Pagan series. I finished it yesterday and it was amazing. Why did you kill off Roland? And why did Pagan die at the end? Do you regret doing that because you wanted to keep the world alive? I ask this because Pagan’s Daughter is coming out in 2008 in the US and I can’t wait! But, it will be sad without Pagan’s sarcasm there.

Posted by Caitlin, Chicago

A The reason I killed off Roland is rather a complicated one: it’s the same reason I didn’t bring Pagan back in Pagan’s Daughter, and it’s all about the emotional content of a Pagan book. Every book is a kind of love story (not a romance, you understand, but a love story) in which the main character finds the love that he/she so desperately needs – or, alternatively, reaches a new level of emotional understanding in his or her primary relationship. (I’m saying ‘her’ at this point because the main character in Pagan’s Daughter is a girl.) In other words, there has to be forward movement of some sort in the relationship; it can’t have reached a plateau, or there’s no emotional story to tell.

Furthermore, it’s the relationship between two people that’s important in a structure like this: two’s company, three’s a crowd. And in Pagan’s Scribe, the relationship between Isidore and Pagan is the important one, which has to take precedence over the Pagan/Roland relationship. Why? Because the Pagan/Roland relationship has reached a plateau. Pagan only makes the choice in favour of Isidore when he realises that he can’t live in the past, with his dead friend. As for having Pagan die in the end, I had to do that, as I soon realised, because you can only have one Pagan per book, and his daughter shares a lot of his characteristics.

But I’m glad you like the first four so much – and I hope you don’t find the fifth one too disappointing without Pagan! (Isidore, I assure you, grows up to be a lovely, lovely man.)

Thursday, September 13

Q I’ve been reading your book Witch Bank. I like the character Heather. The book is very exciting. I’m only half way through, but I am enjoying the book. I like it because it is interesting and full of twists. The character I hate is Heather’s dad, Mr Goth. I think he should be a lot nicer and not yell at his family as much. I think you could make your books better by putting pictures in them.

Posted by Phillip, Bordertown, South Australia

A I’m so glad you’re reading Witch Bank because it’s been out of print for years, and there’s nothing nicer than finding out somebody’s still reading a poor old book that no one’s been selling lately. And I absolutely agree with you about the pictures, but unfortunately I don’t get any kind of say in whether there are pictures or not. The publishers are the ones who decide if there are going to be pictures, and they always have the final word when it comes to covers, as well!

Q Our 5th grade “gifted” class is reading Evil Genius. WE LOVE IT!! Our teacher made us t-shirts using the template from the Axis Institute website. We took a picture with our t-shirts and books and would love to send it to you. Is there an address where we can send it?.

Posted by 5th grade class-NB School, Barrington, Illinois

A Thank you very much! I can’t wait to see the photo! You can send it to my agent Margaret Connolly through the e-mail address on the Contact page. Once I get it, I’ll try to post it here on the Message Board.

Thursday, September 6

Q I’m actually a very big fan of your books! Evil Genius is tops – you ROCK at science fiction! And I’m deathly excited that you are writing Genius Squad! Also, I’ve just finished reading Living Hell, and let me just say, I loved the idea of a giant, living space ship. I am a bit of a biology and chemistry nut, and so I thoroughly enjoyed the way you incoporated macrophages (now I’m scared of them!) and giant god-know-whats. My heart was beating all the way through!

Posted by Kim, Aussieland

A Glad to hear all that – especially about the macrophages. I have to admit, though, that the brutality of the human immune system came as an even bigger surprise than the scariness of parasites – I was gobsmacked to learn that we have cells in our body that are busily squirting nitric acid around. No wonder some of the world’s worst diseases are the result of malfunctioning immune systems!

Q I have recently read your book, Evil Genius, I think you’re an amazing author and an inspiration.

Posted by Jasmine M, Townsville, Queensland

A Thank you so much for saying so – I just hope I’m an inspiration for good and not evil!

Sunday, September 2

Q I just wanted to say how much I loved the Pagan books . . . and how freaking excited I am to find that there’s a fifth one! And even better, they’re releasing it here in the States! I can’t wait to buy it and read it. The only way I’d be more excited would be if you were to write a sixth one. ;)

Posted by Katie Labor, Austin, Texas

A Well, I sure hope number five lives up to your expectations! And I appreciate your flattering message – thanks. I have been toying with the idea of a number six, but it won’t be happening for a while yet – and it will definitely, unquestionably be the last one.

Saturday, September 1

Q Hey! I just want to leave a comment, because I just finished reading the fourth book of the Pagan Chronicles. I must say, at first when I started reading the series, I thought it kind of weird, I don’t know why. But now that I’ve read all four of the books, I have never really understood a lot of things until now. The story is so compelling in so many ways! I never thought I could cry over a book, but hear I am, tears streaming down my face, only minutes after I’ve read the book. I absolutely loved it! I love it because it is so funny, and it shows a lot of things I haven’t been able to see or understand. It shows the relationship between Pagan and Lord Roland and Isidore, which just brings tears to my eyes. It is very sad, but I know that times were hard in the Medieval era, yet when those times are expressed in the way you (Catherine Jinks) has, I’m just speechless. I found it such a different read to what I’m used to, but I am glad I read it. It is such a beautiful book and a well told story that I still don’t know what to say. Except to thank you for writing such a brilliant book and showing people other sides of things we don’t exactly understand, especially religion and emotion. It really touched me, more than anything else I’ve ever read in my life.

Posted by Whitney Bell, Brisbane

A What a lovely message – thank you so very much. I’m glad I’ve illuminated the medieval era for you, because it was such an interesting time, and deserves more attention. I only hope you enjoy Pagan’s Daughter as much as you seem to have enjoyed the first four books. (It has Isidore in it, but he’s grown up.) Nice to know I have some fans in Brisbane, since it’s where I was born!

Friday, August 31

Q I’ve read your book Evil Genius and am proud to say I’m obssesed with it. I’m especially fascinated by your character Prosper English. I was wondering if you could tell me what inspired you to create a character like Prosper? I’m very eager to know more about Prosper, Cadel and what happens in the second book. Is there going to be a third? I really love your writing and look foward to reading more.

Posted by Nina, LaSalle

A Many thanks for your kind words, and let me assure you that I am thinking of writing a third novel in the series. But at this stage, that’s all I’m doing: thinking. You probably won’t be seeing it for a while, because these Genius books are such doorstops that it always takes me ages to write them! As far as Prosper English goes, I suppose I’ve always been very fond of suave and super-bright arch-villains, like Cardinal Richelieu in the Musketeer books, and whenever I like something I always try to make up my own version because I’m very possessive. Finally, on the subject of the second book, I don’t want to give too much away, if I can help it; let’s just say that Prosper’s the sort of person who would be hard to keep in prison, if he really wanted out!

Monday, July 30

Q Can you please tell me the answer to the code (or at least a hint, please?) to solve the final sentence in your book Evil Genius? I am dying to fulfill the conclusion . . . thanks!

Posted by McKenzie, Lakeville

A It says I Hf Ta C U – I have to see you. And for any Australians who might be a bit confused by this, I’m afraid there isn’t a coded final sentence in the Australian edition. It was added for the US market.

Saturday, July 28

Q I’m in love with Evil Genius! It’s got all the elements that make up the best stories, in my opinion – the unusual, very smart kid, the adults who know more about him than he does about himself, the father-figure who cares about the kid though he doesn’t care about anyone else, and the kid’s personal battle between his good and evil sides. I love the style of writing – it’s never dull, and there are so many twists! Plus, it’s good and long, so it’s not over so quick. I can’t believe I have to wait until spring next year to read the next book, though! Please don’t end it with the second book! It deserves at least a trilogy! I just hope Cadel doesn’t become TOO good in the second book, and I hope there’s lots on the interesting relationship between Cadel and Thaddeus. I’d really like to know more about Thaddeus’ background, how he became the way he is. Oh, and I love that Cadel’s looks are inspired by Elijah Wood! Elijah Wood is so beautiful. Cadel even reminds me of a hobbit sometimes. Lastly, I do have a question – in Canada we (unfortunately) get the American editions of most books, the Harcourt version in this case, and I’m wondering if they changed more than just spelling. It seems like all Australianisms have been taken out. Did the American publisher change the language a bit? I hate it when they do that!

Posted by Chalotte, Ottawa, Canada

A Well spotted – American publishers do tend to change Australian slang, spelling and terminology, and it certainly happened in this case. (In Australia, for instance, we have ‘terrace houses’, not ‘row houses’.) However it doesn’t really bother me too much – I’m sorry it bothers you! And I’m very glad you’re in love with Evil Genius. The good news is that I am thinking about a third book (though it would have to be the absolute last). The bad news is that we don’t really learn much about Thaddeus’s background in the second book, unfortunately. But you know what? It’s a good idea, and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for book number three. Much appreciated!

Friday, July 20

Q I’m 9 years old and ‘Christ in a cream cheese sauce’ I love Pagan! (I had to check with my mum before I said that.) PLEASE TRY YOUR BEST TO WRITE MORE BOOKS!!! (By the way, in what bookshop could I find Pagan’s Daughter?)

Posted by Katherine, Sydney, Australia

A I will try my best to write more books – in fact I’m writing one now (only it’s not about Pagan)! You should be able to find Pagan’s Daughter in most large Australian bookshops, but if you can’t, you can always ask the bookshop to order you a copy: it won’t cost you any extra. Thanks for the message! I really appreciated it.

Sunday, July 15

Q I know lot’s of people probably say it and I know you’re probably tired of hearing it, but I really feel like I’m your biggest fan.

Posted by Ann-Rita, Sydney, Australia

A How could I ever get sick of people telling me they’re my number one fan? It’s so flattering! Thank you very, very much for saying so.

Sunday, July 15

Q I just wanted to tell you how much I loved the Pagan series!!!I read it so many times that I have lost count!!! I just wanted to ask you a few questions: Are there going to be any more books in the series? If yes, when can I expect to read them? Thanks for writing the series!!! From your number 1 fan.

Posted by Elizabeth Lim, Sydney, Australia

A I’m so glad you love the Pagan series. There might be a sequel to Pagan’s Daughter – I have some vague ideas about it – but you won’t be seeing it for a few years yet, I’m afraid. I just hope you’re still interested in the books by then!

Friday, July 6

Q The only book of yours that I’ve read is Evil Genius and I must say it has become one of my most favorite books!

Posted by Nina Laframboise, Lasalle, Ontario

A Thanks, Nina – I only hope that Genius Squad ends up on your favourite book list as well, when it’s published!

Sunday, July 1

Q I justed finished Evil Genius and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I was also wondering when Genius Squad was coming out. I loved the detail involved in your writing, and I enjoyed Cadel’s personality and way of thinking. I am eagerly awaiting to read more about him.

Posted by Nathaniel, Chambersburg, PA

A Thanks for the kind praise – it always bucks me up, and helps me to finish sequels. It’s especially nice to know that you appreciate the details in the book. Genius Squad should be available in hardback in May 2008, when Cadel will continue his search for a place to belong.

Wednesday, June 13

Q When is Genius Squad coming out?

Posted by Margie, Austin, TX

A Apparently, the publication date will be May 2008.

Thursday, June 7

Q Hey, I really liked Evil Genius, and I’m looking forward to Genius Squad. Can you tell me anything about when it’s going to come out, especially in the US and anything you can tell us about the content? I couldn’t find anything on Amazon or your site.

Posted by Ana, Ann Arbor

A Glad you liked Evil Genius. According to my US publisher, Harcourt, Genius Squad will be published over there in May 2008. As for the content – well, I don’t want to give too much away. Let’s just say that Cadel finds himself a whole group of teenaged computer geeks to have fun with, while Prosper, Sonja, Vadi, Alias and Niobe all return!

Sunday, June 3

Q Hello Catherine – I’m a big fan of the Pagan Chronicles. Thanks so much for writing them!

Posted by Greg

A Hey – thanks so much for reading them!

Sunday, April 29

Q Great website! I didn’t realise you had written so many books. Keep them coming.

Posted by Peter

A Thanks, I will!