Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Competition Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the Chester Lewis fan fiction competition:

Tammy McDonald

As the winner, Tammy will receive the $2000 first prize.


The Life and Times of Chester Lewis

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Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Competition Top 3

Congratulations to the following writers, who have made the top 3 for the Chester Lewis fan fiction competition (in no particular order):

Tammy McDonald
Stephen Ormsby
C.L. Hannigan

The winner will be announced on December 10th.


The Life and Times of Chester Lewis

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Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Competition Top 10

Congratulations to the following writers, who have made the top 10 for the Chester Lewis fan fiction competition (in no particular order):

Patricia Granton

Jennie D’Ambra

Brendan Lockett

Marianne Astra

Phil Cottle

Tammy McDonald

Jo Eastley

Stephen Ormsby

Mary Lonsdale

C.L. Hannigan

This top 10 will be reduced to the top 3 on December 6th and the winner will be announced on December 10th.


The Life and Times of Chester Lewis

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Book Signing In Mackay, by Kelly Inglis

Mackay book signing 1SM (Sharon) Johnston and I, in conjunction with Collins Booksellers Mackay, recently hosted a book signing of The Life and Times of Chester Lewis.

The event was well-attended and we were thrilled to sell out all the stock for the event.

One family bought three copies as Christmas gifts, which was wonderful to see.

As a spin-off from the Chester Lewis story, its publisher, The Australian Literature Review, is running a fan fiction competition that will land the winning writer the $2000 first prize for a story based on Chester’s life.

Several of the people who purchased copies of The Life and Times of Chester Lewis at the Mackay book signing expressed interest in submitting their short story to the fan fiction competition.

Mackay book signing 2Entry to the competition for $10 provides writers with access to the Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Group Facebook page, where they will receive tips on fiction writing throughout 2013, and be able to have regular online chats with the Chester Lewis authors. Entrants will have until August 31st 2013 to submit their story.

The Life and Times of Chester Lewis includes numerous award-winning and internationally renowned authors. The book can be purchased online through in both print and e-book versions.


Author Interviews, Articles, and other Coverage

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Steve Rossiter – Author/Editor Interview (interviewed by Kerry Brown)

Steve Rossiter interviewed by Kerry Brown as part of the Post-Launch Blog Tour for The Life and Times of Chester LewisKerry is a children’s book author from the Gold Coast with 3 books published and also has a story in The Life and Times of Chester Lewis.

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As publisher, editor and a contributing author for The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, you have successfully created a novel-length short story collection using contributions from eleven different authors. How difficult was it for you, as the creator of this concept, to allow the story to take its own creative path?

While I created the book concept, as an integrated short story collection charting the approximately 100 year lifespan of the main character, I decided to let the authors take the story in their own directions with minimal requirements from me. So the story very much took its own creative path with each authors addition to the story. I selected authors throughout the writing process who I believed would do a good job of writing the next story.

Typically, I would approach an author while the story before theirs was being written. They then read all the stories except the one before theirs, plus a brief note about the likely story direction from the author currently writing the latest story. Once the next author read the latest story, the sent me a brief note about the likely story direction and started writing their story.

I was there to make sure the story kept progressing well and to work with each author to amend their story if necessary. Thankfully, the contributing authors did a great job and no major amendments were needed.

How much information was given to each of the authors involved in the writing of this book? Were there any specific guidelines given to them? If so, what were they?

The guidelines for the first story were minimal. I asked Michael White, who I knew had a lot of knowledge and interest in areas of history and science as well as being the author of thirty something novels and non-fiction books, to write a story of around 5000 words leading up to the birth of the main character, whose approximately 100 year life story would be told in the other stories. With that mission, Michael created the first story about Chester’s British parents in Shanghai in 1931, bookended by a scene of Chester in Perth just before his 100th birthday. This story foreshadowed some details about the course of Chester’s life and served as a great source of inspiration for the authors to follow. With each story, the authors picked up on details from the preceding stories and built on them to fill in Chester’s life from the 1930s to the 2030s.

Seeing the book develop one chapter at a time, without knowing what direction each chapter was going to take must have been an exciting process to watch. How long did the process take from initial idea to completion? How did you remain patient?

From conceiving the book idea and first contacting Michael White until the release of the book took 2 years. Each author had about 4-6 weeks to write their story. There were some authors who had to pull out and that extended the overall time period to produce the book, time was spent editing and formatting the book, etc.

How did you come up with the title/main character, Chester Lewis? Is this a character name that has personal meaning to you or was it a result of Michael White ‘giving birth’ to the character through the writing of the first chapter?

The name Chester Lewis came from Michael White’s story. The name worked for me, so Chester Lewis is what we went with. As for the character of Chester Lewis, he was introduced in Michael’s story but built up collaboratively as the story progressed.

I’m not sure if the name Chester Lewis has any special significance for Michael.

In conjunction with the release of The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, you have implemented a fan fiction competition. This competition is for short stories of 2000 – 4000 words and is open to writers worldwide. Can you tell us a little more about this competition and what opportunities it provides for emerging authors?

The fan fiction competition runs until August 31st 2013. It gives 10 writers official recognition as Top 10 Finalists, helps 3 writers find readers through having their story featured in full on as Top 3 Finalists and 1 writer $2000 and the title of Winner.

The fan fiction competition is not just about the top ten stories. There is a private Facebook group for entrants. People can join the Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Group upon signing up ($10 until March 31st, $15 between April 1st and August 31st) and have until August 31st to submit their story. The group is a place where entrants can meet one another, discuss story ideas and their writing, and receive fiction writing tips. Contributing authors from the book and some of their publishing industry friends will also drop by from time to time to leave comments or interact with writers.

Your current work as founder and editor of The Australian Literature Review, Writing Teen Novels (expanding January 1st), Writing Historical Novels (coming January 1st), Writing Novels in Australia (relaunching January 1st with a new line-up of novelists), as well as the fan fiction competitions for The Life and Times of Chester Lewis and Possessing Freedom obviously keeps you very busy. Does your exposure to differing authors and writing styles through these projects impact on your own writing voice?

Exposure to many authors and many writing styles helps develop an understanding of various ways stories are told and allows me to decide on things I like and things I don’t like so much.

However, much of my writing style depends on the story I’m telling and the narrator I’m using to tell the story.

If you were able to place your ten most favourite authors from around the world (dead or alive) into a pot and mix them together to create another novel-length short story collection who would you choose?

Off the top of my head, here are ten authors who might feature on the list:

Stephen King
Robert Louis Stevenson
William Shakespeare
Jodi Picoult
Mark Twain
Michael Crichton
Cynthia Voigt
Isaac Asimov
Carl Sagan
EB White

Where do you see Australian literature in ten years time? What are your hopes and aspirations for your own writing in this time frame?

Lots of things could happen in ten years. Also, I like to focus on individual writers rather than generalising about a category of writers, Australian writers interact with people outside Australia, people move from one country to another, and many major publishers are multi-national.

The majority of people I have met outside the context of The Australian Literature Review who I have asked about their favourite Australian novels have responded that they don’t read many or don’t like many Australian novels they have read, but will typically discuss some of their favourite novels from the US, the UK or somewhere else in depth and with enthusiasm. On a national level, what I’d like to see happen is for great new novelists to emerge whose work will appeal to Australians who don’t currently read many, or any, Australian novels. However, I prefer to think in terms of writers and readers regardless of the nationality of each.

I am currently writing a novel set in 1939 Poland, featuring a teenage main character, with the intention of publishing in 2014. It would be good to follow this up with six more novels, each corresponding to a year of WW2, which would mean a novel released each year from 2014 to 2020. I’d also like to do something with a contemporary setting, maybe with intelligent characters and a scientific and philosophical edge to the subject matter.

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Post-Launch Blog Tour with Steve Rossiter

Steve Rossiter discusses the writing, editing and publishing of The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, as well as the fan fiction competition.

Sat Oct 20
Helene Young (interview)

Sun Oct 21
The Australian Literature Review (interviewed by Kelly Inglis)

Mon Oct 22
Fleur McDonald (guest blog post)

Tue Oct 23
The Graceful Doe (interview)

Wed Oct 24
Bernadette Kelly (interview)

Thu Oct 25
Down Under Wonderings (interview)

Fri Oct 26 (interviewed by Kerry Brown)

Sat Oct 27
Michael Grey (interview)

Sun Oct 28
Read in a Single Sitting (article based on an interview)

Author Interviews, Articles, and other Coverage

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Lia Weston – Author Interview

You wrote the 3rd story in The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, set in 1947 when Chester is 15 years old. Without giving plot spoilers, what can readers look forward to in your story?

It’s a rare teenager who doesn’t develop an infatuation with someone, or indulge in pursuits their parents would be horrified at. In 1947, Chester does both.

How would you describe the personality of Chester Lewis at 15 years old?

Wary, due to the circumstances of his early childhood, but clever. A little bit serious, a little bit lost, but there’s a strong character lurking in there, with a mild tendency towards obsession. I’m curious to see if this is a trait that was developed as his story went along!

How would you describe your Chester Lewis story in juxtaposition to your novel The Fortunes of Ruby White?

Less apples and oranges than prunes and dragonfruit; they have pretty much nothing in common except their author. My Chester Lewis chapter was the first time I had attempted a short story (come to think of it, The Fortunes of Ruby White was the first time I had attempted a novel; there you go – two things in common), and it was also fascinating to work with a character that someone else had invented. Writing a story set in a place I’ve never been (Perth) in a time I’m unfamiliar with (the 1940s) based around a person who I can’t really relate to (a teenage boy) was a challenge, but I’m really pleased with how he turned out. I also tried to write it relatively “straight”, so to speak; most of my fiction is comedic, but I loved being able to try a different tone of voice for this.

The Life and Times of Chester Lewis has a fan fiction competition, for stories 2000 – 4000 words, with a $2000 1st prize. What advice do you have for entrants?

That’s a tricky one, as fan fiction is new to me! I think it would be the same advice I have for any writer—try to find your authentic voice and let it permeate your work, even though in this case you’re working with an established character. Don’t write to be clever or to impress; write what comes truthfully to you. (That, and strip out all unnecessary words. Do you really need to say someone has ‘silky, flowing tresses’? No. You are not re-writing the Sweet Valley High series.)

In a previous interview, following the publication of your debut novel, you wrote about how you would approach the task of writing a novel differently in the future: “As far as things I would definitely do differently, I would highly recommend creating two spreadsheets: a timeline to keep track of the story’s days/weeks/months, and a character arc broken into scenes so you can check your protagonist’s progression at a glance.” For you, is that the key to getting everything to work together as a satisfying story – or do you have a different piece of advice for fiction writers looking to improve their writing?

I think the note about writing what works for you, as mentioned in the previous tip, is probably the best general advice I can give. However! For novel writing, yup, I stick by the timeline and scene notes—they’re not essential, but they can save you so much time and angst, particularly during re-writes. Anything that saves time and angst is gold, I think.

What is one of your favourite novels you have read in the past year, and why?

Sonya Hartnett’s Butterfly. Oh, it destroyed me—so beautifully written. It was an eye-opener in terms of how Hartnett uses language, the way she manipulates it to paint pictures. If anyone is thinking of exploring this side of their writing, I highly recommend it. Plus I got flashbacks to my own very awkward 80s adolescence. (Eek!)

If you could bring one fiction author back from the dead for one day for the sole purpose of discussing writing fiction, who would you choose, and why?

Jane Austen, because I think she was a lot funnier than people give her credit for. I love how she uses tiny signifiers to completely capture someone’s character, so I’d be dying to discuss the art of restraint in fiction, particularly how it works with satirical material.

What is next for your fiction writing?

I’m in the process of re-writing my second novel. I’ve been wrestling with it for a while now, but something seems to have clicked lately, so I’m pretty pleased about that. I’ll keep you posted… :-)


Lia Weston author site:


Author Interviews, Articles, and other Coverage

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