What Inspired The Avena Series

Q. What inspired you to write your new series about angels?

The Avena Series, with the titles Hidden, Broken and Fearless, began as a thought in my head many years ago and developed over a series of events that happened to me during 2004 and 2005.

In 2004 I had just finished writing The Key, the third book of The Guardians of Time Trilogy. The Key was at the copy edit stage and almost ready to send to the printer for publishing. I had started to think ahead to what I would write next and one thing I knew was that it would be about an angel. Then I became ill. I was feeling run down and becoming short of breath. But I was a mother of three teenagers and didn’t think much of this until I found it difficult to climb the stairs at the front of my house.

It wasn’t long after seeing my doctor that I was diagnosed with aggressive Myeliofibrosis (bone marrow cancer). My body was not making blood anymore and what blood I had in my system was turning into scar tissue and enlarging my liver and spleen. I found out later that I had only a few weeks to live, but a stem-cell bone marrow transplant using my sister’s cells saved my life.

I spent twenty weeks in hospital in an isolation ward where I endured some very dark and seemingly endless days and nights. A few weeks into my recovery from the transplant I suffered a setback in the form of a fall, and because the chemotherapy had weakened my bone structure, I fractured five vertebrae in my low back and over the course of the next few months, my spine (and my height) crushed down by seven inches. I had a lot to deal with and my pain medication had the side effect of making me drowsy.

But when I returned home I felt that I had been given a second chance at life, and my experience in the hospital had me thinking about the wonderful people, the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pain specialists, and all my family and friends, my fans who wrote to me, and people I had never met wishing me well, and everyone who had been praying for me. They seemed like angels, and indeed to me they were.

My illness was the catalyst for writing The Avena Series. I took my thought of a story about an angel, gave it the theme of second chances, and developed my plan for three books. It took time to write due to the adjustments I had to make, the follow-up treatments, and my determination to build up my concentration levels again.

I am proud of my new series, and grateful to Bloomsbury Publishing for their wonderful support and belief in me. The Avena Series tells the story of an angel named Ebrielle who was abducted at birth, stripped of her name, hidden in a secluded valley on Earth, and raised to believe she is an average girl. But in her heart she knows she is different. How different puts her on a course of discovery, catapulted into action when she meets a troubled boy named Jordan. Their bond alerts the heavens, specifically her eternal soul-mate Nathaneal, a prince in the world of angels who has never given up searching for her, and unfortunately also the dark angel Lucien, whose obsession for Ebrielle brings the young loves and all the worlds of Earth to the brink of devastation.

Fearless Book 3 of The Avena Series

Fearless Book 3 of The Avena Series

Hidden, Book 1 of The Avena Series   Broken, Book 2 of The Avena Series

Questions and Answers – The Perfect Title

Arina asked me the following question in a tweet this morning – 21st of June, 2014.

How do you come up with a title?


A title is important. After all, along with the cover, it’s the first image a reader is going to have of your book. So you want that title to grasp the main content of your story, reflect your writing style and the novel’s genre. And you want to do this in as few words as possible.

So how did I come up with my titles? My first, Old Magic, had a literal sense to the essence of the story. Kate uses the words ‘old magic’ in dialogue. It was the vehicle used to solve Jarrod’s ancient family curse. Old Magic was essentially perfect and my editor agreed.

My second book was The Named. This was a nightmare and in the end I didn’t pick it. I had a working title that was, according to my editor in an email exchange I wasn’t supposed to read, absolutely hideous and needed changing immediately.  On reflection I can see now how bad my original title was. It didn’t say anything about what the book was about. It didn’t tell the reader it was a young adult paranormal fantasy with time travel. It didn’t say it was about a special group of people with paranormal powers who were chosen to keep the world safe.

I got better at picking titles with The Dark and The Key and I believe that was because these two were the second and third books that followed The Named and I knew the titles were perfect when they came into my head while I was writing them.

My fifth book Hidden wasn’t so easy and my editor picked the title. It was on my short list anyway, so I was happy to give my approval. I had three different working titles for Broken, but by the time I finished the manuscript I had selected Broken and knew it was right.

Coming up with a title is a different experience with every novel. Some titles just pop into your head as you write them. These are the easy ones. It’s as if your sub-conscious is selecting them, and you know right away that they’re going to work. While other titles you have to think a lot about, brainstorm possibilities, seek advice from colleagues, family and friends. After your readers have read your manuscript, ask them to come up with three titles for you. I’ve done this, and it can prove to be a great help because sometimes you’re just too close to the story to see the perfect title.  

I want to say that in the end it’s your choice, but that’s not necessarily so, unless you self-publish. I trust my publisher because they have the marketing skills and they know what’s selling out there in the big world.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your novel, and good luck in coming up with the perfect title.



A Little About Myself

I have been fortunate to live in beautiful areas almost all of my life. Born in the Hawkesbury Valley of New South Wales in May, 1959, my family home was a timber house on a hundred-acre farm growing potatoes, pumpkins and corn right on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. My mother and father worked the farm while raising four children. The eldest were two boys, a year apart, then my sister a year later, and finally me, the youngest by almost four years. I have fond memories of the house on the farm, the outside laundry at the end of a veranda with timber slats, my big brothers catching wildlife in buckets to scare ‘the girls’ half to death. I remember frosty mornings in winter, swimming in summer, and catching a minibus to school at St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Richmond.

But half-way through Kindergarten a massive flood washed our house away and all of our belongings. It was the first major move in my life. My parents found a small property they liked at Plumpton, on the outskirts of Sydney where there were still open green spaces at the time. On a dirt road called Glendening they had a brick house built where I shared a room with my sister. I attended Marayong Primary and Infants School, and then Rooty Hill High School. I remember both schools quite vividly – the layout of the buildings and classrooms, the assemblies, standing on the asphalt for ages while the sun burned down on our heads (before hats were compulsory). I remember my friends, especially my best friend Denise Chemmello. I was sad and lonely for years after she moved to Freemantle, WA. And I remember the teachers, some more so than others.

My next major move occurred after I had married John Curley at 21, and had three children. We decided to raise our young family in Coffs Harbour, a tourist area on the mid north coast of New South Wales. It was the perfect place to venture into writing. Well known for its stunning beauty and diverse landscape, Coffs Harbour is where the Blue Mountains almost meet the Pacific Ocean, creating a unique environment of beaches, mountains, rainforests, waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lush green valleys and even its own mild and breezy weather.

Today I live on Mount Tamborine in Queensland’s Gold Coast Hinterland. It wasn’t easy finding another area as conducive to writing my paranormal books as Coffs Harbour, where I had written my first four. But there came a time when I felt that I had to move. In 2004 I became seriously ill with bone marrow cancer and a back crush fracture of several vertebra of my low back during a fall immediately after my stem-cell transplant. The memories of being so close to death and in significant pain seemed to close in around me. Coffs Harbour now held memories I found difficult to deal with on a daily basis. I yearned for a fresh new start. And my daughter Amanda and son-in-law Chris were married by now and had moved to Brisbane. They were expecting their first child and I didn’t want to be living in a different state, seven hundred kilometres away, when I became a grandmother for the first time. I now have two amazing grandchildren.

Here, on this beautiful mountain there are still rainforests, crystal clear creeks, waterfalls and views across the Border Ranges or Surfer’s Paradise and Brisbane. And on top of that, artists of all different kinds live here. This is where I write now. With my rainforest backyard to look at for inspiration. It’s where I wrote my new trilogy, The Avena Series – Hidden, Broken and Fearless. And it’s where my next writing adventure is about to begin.