Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Meet Australian YA Author Wendy Laharnar

Today we welcome YA author Wendy Laharnar to Carpinello's Writing Pages.

A bit about Wendy:

Wendy lives by the sea with her husband on the east coast of Australia. She looks forward to visits from her two adult children and her grandchildren. Most of her time is spent at the computer, and yet her writing output has fallen off dramatically since 2011-12 when her novel The Unhewn Stone and her short stories were published. Wendy decided that it’s now time to drop everything else and concentrate on new stories!

Why did you pick to write books for young adults?

I usually write for my own entertainment, but my stories tend to suit both young and old. However, with The Unhewn Stone, I had high school History students in mind. I wanted them to live in the Middle Ages by trapping them inside a medieval legend, with Stefan, to experience the conditions and culture first hand.

What types of books do you like to read?

I enjoy reading mainstream mysteries (Tami Hoag is a favourite author at the moment), historical Romances (Victoria Holt and Sharon Penman style) and old adventures like The Scarlet Pimpernel and A Tale of Two Cities. Having just seen Les Misérables at the movies, and loved it, I grabbed the free ebook copy from Kindle classics. Don’t know when I’ll get to read that. 

Okay hold everything! I rarely find another person who says they enjoy reading A Tale of Two Cities! Thank you, Wendy!

In nonfiction, I like conspiracy theories, (such as The Burmuda Triangle and Erich von Daniken’s Chariot’s of the Gods). I also enjoy royal biographies, mythology, astronomy and everything to do with the middle ages; I delve into that for research.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I think about writing. Talk about writing. Read about writing. Promote writers. Travel to find settings and situations to write about.

In the physical world, I like the beach and mountains, and training my mini Schnauzer. I’ve recently picked up my knitting needles again.

Tell us about The Unhewn Stone and how the story came to be.

The Unhewn Stone is a novel about a modern boy on the eve of his eighteenth birthday. He has a complex about his scarred face and gamy leg and hides behind masks and costumes, believing he can be his true self only when in disguise. He is a conjurer and clowns around, entertaining the locals who come to his father’s guesthouse (Gasthüüs) in Central Switzerland, Bürglen to be precise –birthplace of the legendary Wilhelm Tell.

The story came about because I wanted high school History students to learn about all aspects of the Middle Ages by actually living inside History, experiencing life with Stefan, rather than just reading about it in text books.  I also wanted them to discover something about themselves and question their values the way Stefan does; the way I did while writing the story. Like us, Stefan thinks it will be a breeze to cope in the 14th century, due to his superior knowledge compared to mere peasants, and his ability to perform ‘magic’. He couldn’t be more wrong.

The Unhewn Stone placed 3rd in the Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll Awards 2011 for YA Books.

A peek at The Unhewn Stone:

Fighting legends in the Middle Ages is a dangerous game, even for the modern young magician known as the Chosen One.

By means of a magic orb, an opportunity presents for Stefan to travel back to 1307, the era of the Tell legend. His grandfather urges him to go. He wants Stefan to restore family honour by preventing the events of the legend from happening. You see, in the very town where Wilhelm Tell is revered above all others, Stefan is an outsider. He is a Gessler, descended from the tyrant governor who forced Tell to shoot and arrow through the apple on his son’s head. Stefan’s family still bear the stigma after 700 years.

Stefan’s mission is to stop Tell from killing Governor Gessler and thus prevent Tell from becoming the Swiss National Hero of Liberty. After all, Tell is a killer, so is there really any difference between freedom fighters and terrorists? Stefan’s grandfather suggests that while Stefan is in medieval Switzerland he should try to discover the alchemist’s secret of changing metal into gold. If Stefan can do this, his grandfather promises, he’ll lose his complex and get his heart’s desire. For Stefan that means the love of the cool beauty Ursula. Pursued by a shape shifting sibyl and an evil knight, and mistrusted by his distant family, Stefan is trapped inside the legend with no hope of escape.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I’ve had three short stories published by MuseItUp:

Billy the Bonsai Bull is a true story told from Billy’s point of view. This story fits well as a short chapter book for Middle Graders as it deals with bullying, loneliness, and the difference between true and false friends, but it was written for my husband and me. It symbolizes life on our Australian grazing property, which we sold several years ago.

Happiness Guaranteed is mainstream Science Fiction but older teens would find it interesting as a futuristic psychological thriller.

A Summer Squall features a 10 year old boy, but again I wrote it for myself as a metaphor for the writing process. Young teens would enjoy the adventure but might not get the literary aspect, so I’d have to say this one is mainstream fiction...though much of this story is based on fact.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’ve written 1st drafts of two mysteries and a fantasy, but they need a lot of work before I can consider submitting them, even to a critique group. I’m sweating blood over these works in progress.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Learn your craft. Take criticism to head not to heart, and try to accept it doesn’t always come from reader ignorance. Sometimes the writer needs to clarify a problem in the manuscript.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Yes, I welcome everyone to my new Forum for Readers, Writers and Travellers, here.   You can join us by logging in via your Yahoo, Facebook or Twitter etc. Readers talk about reading, find books by new authors and ask questions or make suggestions. Authors do the same, as well as talk about writing and showcase their work. Travellers tell us about their trips. They can be most helpful to future travellers and answer writers who need information about places and people for their settings and characters.

Where can readers find you and your books?

 My books are available at

And all online ebook stores

My website with the book video trailer, Swiss widget and excerpt.
My blog
Facebook and Twitter


  1. Thank you for hosting me today, Cheryl. It's an honour to be among the talented authors you showcase here in your corner of the YA Readers' cyber world.

  2. Great post. Good questions Cheryl. Terrific to learn more about Wendy and her novel THE UNHEWN STONE. It is a great read, as are all of Wendy's books. :)
    I highly recommend each of them.

  3. Another great interview Cheryl. Wonderful to hear Wendy's publishing journey and we are so thrilled to have you as a permanent hostess on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheers Julie Grasso

  4. The Unhewn Stone is a wonderful book. I can recommend to everyone. Pursued by a shape-shifting sibyl and an evil knight, there is never a dull moment for Stefan in The Unhewn Stone. I look forward to your next book, Wendy. Laurel

  5. Great interview, Wendy and Cheryl. I'll quote your advice to take criticism to head and not to heart. Not always easy, but crucial.

    I've been a fan ever since reading. The Unhewn Stone and love the shorter stories as well. What a variety of genres and topics. Can't wait to read a mystery sprung from your creative mind.

  6. Delightful interview, ladies. Wendy, The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all-time favorite stories, one that truly entertains and inspires, with all its adventure and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed your Unhewn Stone as well. It really transported me to a new world packed with adventure. Keep sweating blood over those WIPs! Best of the best to you, and to you, Cheryl. Adventure on!

  7. What a diversity of books Wendy has written thus far. I also chuckled when I read that she enjoys reading A Tale of Two Cities. This in light of my on-going discussions with someone who keeps insisting that Captain Underpants is under-appreciated and under-valued as literature and art. Sigh...

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and we're thrilled to have you on board as a hostess! :)

  8. How lovely to wake up on the other side of the world and find you all here.

    Rosalie, Thanks for your support. I'm glad to find you here. It means a lot that you like my stories.

    Jambo, Lovely to meet you. I must ask Cheryl what is expected of a hostess. It sounds like fun.

    Laurel, Thank you. Due to your recent 'urging', I have been serious about the 2nd draft. Yesterday, mid story, it changed - for the better. I'll have to rewrite a couple of early chapters but there's meat in the story now.

    Edith, Thanks for stopping by. Re my advice, it ain't easy. Do as I say not what I do :)

    Pat, Hi! I wish I'd written 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'. It had everything, even humour, to keep the reader enthralled. Okay, the wip file is open before me...I'm back to it. :) Thanks for the push.

    Renee, I read A Tale of Two Cities as an adult, having ignored it at school. Now I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the French Revolution or good literature. I bought it for my teenage granddaughter, last year. She is still on the first sentence. hahaha. That is a turn off. I'm looking forward to the Kit Lit Blog Hop.

  9. Lovely and interesting post. A great way to get the tweens to delve into the different time periods. There used to be cliff notes, now we have Wendy in a much more entertaining way. Keep them coming.

  10. Hi Lorrie, thank you for dropping by. Cliff notes, they great weren't they/ Especially for deciphering Shakespeare.

  11. Great interview! :) I love historical fiction! :)

  12. Thanks for sharing this great interview! We're all thrilled to have you as a Kid Lit Blog Hop hostess!

  13. Hi Erin, Thank you for dropping by. Good to know others love historical fiction. It was hard for me to come back from 14th century Switzerland. I hope you'll take a look at TUS :)