Flying through Clouds Blog Tour

I don’t think there’s anything quite like the camaraderie of the children’s book industry. Sure, we all have our genres and preferences, but at the end of the day, from picture book to YA (unintentional rhyme!), we stand together.

I’ve made many friends through writing, scattered across the nation and all over the world. Only a few are not far away. Like Michelle.

I met Michelle years ago at the Illawarra South Coast CBCA Children’s Literary Lunch, an annual event where authors and illustrators volunteer to spend their time with school groups. Which gives you a clue to the type of person Michelle is. Always happy to pitch in and help a good children’s literature cause.

Historical fiction is a reading favourite for me and Michelle’s first book, Racing the Moon, set in the 1930s  depression, already has a hard-to-get because-there’s-never-enough-space spot in my bookshelves. I’m pleased to be the first stop on the blog tour for her new YA release, Flying through Clouds, set in the same historical period. It’s a heart-warming coming of age  story about Joe, who lives in working class Glebe and wants to fly.

I’ll admit I’m always a little biased towards a book with a local history scenario, and I wanted to cheer when Smithy landed the Southern Cross on Seven Mile Beach. But any biases aside, this is an entertaining story served up on a thoroughly researched, authentic slice of Australian history.

Over to Michelle, in the captain’s seat…

My new historical YA novel, Flying through Clouds, was published on 2 April 2017.

Flying through Clouds has a compelling blend of humour, drama and adventure. It immerses the reader in the world of Joe Riley, a teenage boy growing up in Sydney in the 1930s, who dreams of becoming an aviator. Joe has many obstacles to overcome and a flawed plan. His adventures and well-meaning but bad choices will resonate with teenagers today.

I spent months researching before I started writing Flying through Clouds. I wanted to understand how people lived in the 1930s – the food, clothing, housing, schools, work opportunities, social conditions, transport, how they communicated with each other, and what they did on the weekends. I needed to become familiar with that world before developing my characters and narrative. The most difficult research was learning how to fly a 1930 de Havilland Gypsy Moth. I needed to understand the steps involved and the terminology that was used. I read books about famous aviators and their flying adventures, and watched technical videos on how to fly a Gypsy Moth. I interrogated everyone I knew who had ever flown vintage planes.

5 things I learnt when I was doing my research:

1.  Just over 1.2 million people lived in Sydney in 1932, almost half the population of Australia. It was the height of the Depression and nearly 32% of Australians were unemployed.

2.  People started climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge even before it was opened in March 1932, and they’re still climbing it. But now you have to pay for the privilege and wear safety gear

3.  In 1932, it cost around one shilling (10 cents) to go to the movies. Some cinemas included a cobber (a chocolate covered toffee) in the admission price.

4.  Wireless (Radio) was the new technology of the 1920s and 1930s, but not all families could afford to own one. Those who did, would sit around the radio / wireless listening to the news, sport, their favourite serials, comedy shows and music.

5.  Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed his famous plane, Southern Cross, on Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa in January 1933, and took off again early the next morning on the first commercial flight to New Zealand.

I’ve woven this historical detail and more into the narrative of the novel.

I hope you enjoy Flying through Clouds!

AUTHOR: Michelle Morgan

TITLE: Flying through Clouds

ISBN: 978-0-9953865-0-1

AGES: 12+

RRP: $18.99 Pbk

Flying through Clouds is available now at bookshops, educational and library suppliers, and can be ordered on Michelle’s website.

Find out more about Michelle and her books on her website.

Check out Di Bates’ blog tomorrow for Day 2 of the Flying through Clouds Blog tour.

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