These were the facts:
I?d been in Yarrindi for six days.
In that time, I?d met a boy.
I didn?t know who he was, or why a shadow hung over him, but everywhere he went, there was trouble.
When I ignored him, everything was fine.
When I smiled at him, a girl had a violent seizure.
That girl had tried to warn me - she had tried to frighten me into listening, but I had let him breathe on my neck and brush against my hand and glass had shattered.
Sophie Morgan is the new girl at school. Brody Meine is the local loner with a dangerous reputation. The connection between them is intense - explosive. As darkness engulfs Sophie?s world, a fire is being lit within her. And when she and Brody are together, there?s no predicting who will be burned.
Pan Macmillan is delighted to be publishing Burnt Snow, a home-grownparanormal romance series for teens.
Seventeen-year-old Sophie is a Western-suburbs nerd recruited to the ranks of thepopular girls at her new high school. While she tries to navigate the complex protocols ofher new popularity, a series of charged encounters with Brody Meine, the untouchableschool bad boy, propels her into a dark world of witchcraft, curses, ancient magic anddangerous loyalties.
Burnt Snow is generating enormous buzz at Pan Macmillan:
From the moment Sophie catches Brody's shining green eyes in the Yarrindi ice-creamshop all I've thought is, I want that. I'm hooked. When is the next book ready?
- Cate Paterson, Publishing Director
How awesome is Burnt Snow? Let me count the ways. Burnt Snow is engrossing andelectric. The story starts with lovely but lonely Sophie starting at a new school and fallingin love with a mysterious boy. And from there it grows and grows! It is like Mean Girlsmeets The Craft. The author deals subtly with magic, craftily with school clique politicsand sensually with first love. This is one of those books I am going to recommend to all ofmy girlfriends - I've been raving for weeks already about how much I loved it!Samantha Bok, Editorial Assistant
Eat your heart out Edward Cullen. - Jessica Weir, Marketing Assistant
*White Rain, the second title in ?The Book of the Witch? trilogy, will be publishedin 2011.*
Van Badham is an award-winning playwright, critic and screenwriter. She has writtenmore than 30 internationally produced plays and her theatre plays have had seasons atthe Sydney Opera House, the Wharf studio, the Seymour Centre, the Victorian ArtsCentre, Perth?s Blue Room and the Adelaide Festival. She has had plays or musical theatrestaged at the last six Edinburgh Festivals as well as in London, the US, Iceland and inGermany. Her scripts for radio have been broadcast by the BBC World Service and Radio4. In 2007 Van?s play The Gabriels became the first Australian play to be selected for NewYork?s Summer Play Festival.
Van is also a regular guest on 666 ABC Canberra.
Born in Sydney, Van lived in Wollongong for many years and now resides in London withher boyfriend, a spathiphyllum plant and an extensive collection of arty films on DVD.
Pan Macmillan Australia
From award-winning Australian playwright Van Badham
Question: How did you come up with the idea for Burnt Snow?
Van Badham: If you had've asked me two years ago if I ever thought I'd write a book, let alone this kind of book, the answer would have been a polite but flat "no". I've been a playwright for many years, and I'd upped sticks to the UK in 2001 to devote myself to my playwrighting career. Things were going really well, life was glamorous and international, but by 2007 I was in a relationship with an Australian guy who had commitments in Sydney so I moved home for what was only supposed be six months. Cue several disasters including losing my job, being screwed out of money by an employer, the parlous state of the Australian theatre industry, some family stuff and the progressive collapse of said relationship. I found myself broke, miserable and virtually back in the family home and the six month stay became an 18-month purgatory as I didn't have the dollars to get myself back to London.
It was interesting, because I was essentially returned to a state of being I hadn't been in since I was 17 or 18 - back home, stuck in the suburbs while I tried to sort myself out, my parents freaking out about my lack of means and my relationship going wrong... and to complete the experience, I was hanging out with my teenage best friend a lot, and finding myself in the malls and other places that were littered over my adolescence... and I had a few run ins with people from school who I hadn't seen in millions of years. I guess school was on my brain a lot, and then being around family so much I had this weird experience of learning that one of my relations had developed some crazy latent "psychic" ability - and everyone I knew was revealing that they also had a relative who could divine water or talk to dead people or levitate spoons with their mind powers... So that was on my mind, too.
And because things around me were pretty rubbish, I was escaping into books for cheap thrills. I read Twilight and Hush, Hush and Evermore and whatever I could get my hands on... and while I was appreciating the escapism, my writer brain never switched off. I kept revising the characters' decisions and rewriting the sentences and all of this stuff was clearly churning around and then - bang - something reminded me of an incident that happened when I started a new school in Year 11. On the first day, one of the popular girls invited me to sit with them at lunch. I was tempted by the prospect of social inclusion for some seconds, but I knew my status as an arty weirdo was incompatible with the demands of high school popularity, so I made up some polite excuse and declined. When I remembered this, I wondered just how my life would have been different if I had've accepted the offer and tried to fit in with the popular girls. This was the premise of a story I knew would have to be a book, and from this point, 'Burnt Snow' started writing itself.
The world conspired to accommodate me thumping the first few chapters into the computer - I was desperately unemployed and then my relationship did end, which freed up a lot of my time - and then I magically won a grant I didn't think I would get and was able to get myself back to the UK. And returned to my comfort zone the story got bigger and bigger, and my agent was excited about it and passed it onto publishers, who were excited about it, too, and my energy and confidence grew with the story... and then I met this amazing boy, completely randomly, and fell in love all over again, which is just like being 17, and all of that new-relationship fear and thrill and madness went into the book, too. So the book is made up of all of these things.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Van Badham: Okay, yes. A lot of them are amalgamations of people from high school (or, more correctly, amalgamations of the way I remember people from high school), and people I've met or worked with since. Because I've spent years writing for the theatre, I'm in the habit of mentally "casting" characters from actors I know before I even start writing, and there's more than one actor who makes an appearance in this book - not necessarily as themselves, but with the voice and physicality they'd bring to performing the character. Nikki Cipri is completely based on a close friend who's an actor, and in my favourite daydreams Susie Porter plays Taika in the film adaptation. As I'm so used to the process of working with actors, to work out what my characters looked like in the absence of real people, I went through magazines and cut out pictures and made a scrapbook of what I thought all of the major characters would look like, and how they'd dress and what their posture was.
Most people who ask this question seem actually to be asking if Brody Meine is a real person (for naughty, nefarious reasons!), and while Brody was initially based on my memories of a boy I loved with all my heart at high school, meeting my current boyfriend while writing the book means that his influence over Brody's behaviour is pretty significant, too - it just means that I can say to him "if you were a boy in this situation, what would you do?" and get the answer "I *was* a boy, and in that situation I would..." which helps. The only character who's a completely unknown quantity is Sophie - she really has a mind of her own and acts independently of my choices or experiences. Because the book's in first person, there's a temptation to think the author is also the main character, but if I'm any character in the book, as much as I'd want to be tough and kickass like Ashley, I'm probably more like Lauren. Without the high marks, legal aspirations or model-like looks, of course!
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Sophie?
Van Badham: The best thing about Sophie is that I just set her up and watch her go. I haven't had to sit down and work out a list of plot events that she has to trudge through to get to a pre-ordained conclusion. Because this imaginary person just manifests in my brain and controls the keyboard while I'm writing, her response to things is organic and unpredictable and events happen as a consequence of her actions. Reading more about the psychology of first-person narration and the writer is something I probably should do, but it's sorta scary to think about so I just let it happen - I tell you what, I completely understand what makes Stephen King's "The Dark Half" so freakin' frightening now. Working with Sophie is also exciting because she's a proactive, not passive, protagonist - she's always trying to think her way out of situations, not wait for someone else to do her thinking for her. It's an exciting time in literature for female heroines, and Sophie owes a great debt to characters like Lyra Belacqua from 'His Dark Materials' and Moira from 'The Handmaids Tale' who've been her antecedents and role models.
Question: Finish this sentence. The best thing about books is . . .?
Van Badham: The best thing about books is that wherever you are and whatever time of day it is - and whether it's made of paper or a CD or electrical bits - a book is a portal into another world of escape and adventure. The best thing about books is that they open doors into other dimensions of an infinite universe, and yourself. If I'm reading, don't disturb me - I'm far, far away and I'm not coming back until I wanna.