I answer your questions about WHAT THE WOODS KEEP, writing, life, & everything (well, almost everything)

Today is exactly five-months-to-publication date of my debut WHAT THE WOODS KEEP

To celebrate this milestone, I thought I'd tell you a bit more about this book of mine and also use this chance to answer some questions I've been getting through various social media channels (I promise I'll do the proper FAQ section on this site - eventually!).

So here goes!

So what's the book about?

Oh, how I used to dread this question (how can I possibly summarize my complicated luminous monster of a book in only a few sentences?), but now I kind of welcome it, because I give a different "elevator pitch" every time I'm asked (LOL):  

It's a multimedia thriller...!

It's a story of a girl who has to come to terms with her heritage... !

It's about unbreakable female friendships...!

But how about you check out the book's official description here or here.

Or have a look at this shorter, snappier blurb:

This YA supernatural mystery features two girls alone in the woods as paranormal twists build into a terrifying reveal that threatens their reality.On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home — on the condition that she uncover the dark secrets in the Colorado woods that surround it.

Hayden’s tried to put her past behind her. She lives in a comfy Brooklyn apartment with her best friend Del. But it’s all coming back for Hayden: her mother’s inexplicable disappearance a decade before, her father’s crackpot theories, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange rituals in the woods.

Now Hayden and Del must confront the secrets of Hayden’s past in a house that holds all the mysteries of her childhood — and might be the last protection against the dark powers in the surrounding woods.This YA supernatural mystery with dark fantasy elements features a strong female friendship, a sizzling romance, and terrifying plot twists.

What kind of genre is this?

At its core, it's a dark (urban) fantasy with elements of mystery, thriller and science fiction! According to the Bookshelf Detective, the science bit is strong with this one!

Will this book be available in [insert country/language]

From the book's publication date (18 September, 2018) on, you can get it from whenever books are sold (or online). So far though, this date is for online and North American (US/Canada) release only, but... my publisher is working very hard on making WHAT THE WOODS KEEP available internationally.

If you're not US/Canada based, your best option at this stage is to pre-order/buy on Book Depository!

You can also pre-order now from any of these places (or check your local bookshop - support them by buying from them, if you can!): 

Amazon Australia (ebook only at this stage)

*but also check your country's Amazon site, if you're not USA based that is. (And yes, you can still pre-order/buy hard copies of my book on Amazon USA - the shipping cost will depend on your location).

Who is this book for?



Yes, YOU

But the official minimum age recommended for readers is 14. (There are some spooky themes and a bit of romance).

If there's one song that could be the anthem of this book, what would it be?

There are three songs, actually! Each corresponds to the different stage/aspect of the story:

Disparate Youth by SANTIGOLD 

What Else Is There by ROYKSOPP

Freak of Nature ft. Tove Lo by BROODS

... I also have a YouTube soundtrack available for you listening pleasure: 

What the Woods Keep Soundtrack

How long did it take you to write this book?

Unbearably long, and then lightningly fast! 

Check out these posts in which I "tell it all" about the process rather candidly: 

Who's your agent? How did you find your agent?

My agent is Amy Tipton (Signature Literary Agency).

Hey, check out Amy's new website: https://amy-tipton.com/

Amy is a tireless advocate for female and female-identifying voices as well as for marginalized voices. Among her authors are Courtney Summers (!), Amy Reed (!) and Kayla Ancrum (!). OMG, what? Yes, I know!

I have signed with Amy in April 2015 and it's been three years of AWESOME, with surely more to come!

More on this here: Literary representation NEWS

Will you go on book tour? Will you do signings? Will you come to [insert city] to sign books?

I'd love to! 

However, going on a book tour and such depends on how well the book is doing and whether there's enough interest, etc. At this point in time, the only way to get a book signed by me is to partake in one of the giveaways I run on social media once in a while and win it (which is determined by total randomness and how much good luck you've got in your pocket!). Having said that, things can change quickly, so who knows 😆 

I'm based in Melbourne (Australia), and as it gets closer and closer to my book's release date and definitely after it, it's a high chance you'll see me speaking at one of our many local events - or the interstate ones. So far, I'm planning my book launch party for September/October (stay tuned!) and have a tentative commitment as a speaker/panelist at 2019 Women's History Month event at Eltham Library

If you're a bookish event organizer, librarian, or a bookseller - please get in touch with me, that is, if you'd like me to come and speak to your audiences about book stuff. 

Number one advice to aspiring writers?

There's SO MUCH writing/publishing advice out there already, so all I'll say here is this: for the sake of all the things that matter, READ A LOT, especially the types of books you'd like to be writing, but also different kinds of books - don't limit yourself! And be open to criticism and rejection - though keep in mind that a lot of it is subjective and you just need to keep writing, keep improving your craft, and don't give up!

Will you read my book/short story and  provide critique?

Nope! Sorry, can't do that😎 

For the reasons of: I barely have time to write my own stuff and maintain this blog, and run my social media accounts, and answer hundreds of emails daily, and etc. etc. etc. But, don't give up - you just need to find your space, find your people! There are so many writers' groups out there already. Get on Twitter, Goodreads... Get yourself a Critique Partner you trust - if that kind of stuff works for you (I don't have a CP myself but that's just me!). Check out your local writers' association - chances are, they're offering many services and run cool events! And listen to any feedback you can get from industry professionals and use it to improve.   

Why did you go the traditional publisher/agent way rather than self-publishing way?

Because it seemed less daunting to go the traditional publishing way! And it still does - seems less daunting, that is. Going the indie way could be rewarding, I suppose, but it has to be done right to work, and that means you either have to be (or become) an expert in all things editing, marketing, cover design, layout, etc., or you need to hire all these experts and invest a lot of your own money into it. And I simply don't have time or resources to manage all these things at once! I'd rather be writing😄 

You're also an anthropologist?! What does that mean? How does that affect your book writing stuff?

Yes, I have a PhD in Cultural Anthropology, and since 2014, I've been holding a tenured academic job at an Australian university. I also teach a postgraduate subject called Scholarly Teaching which is a boutique offering at an international Graduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching program - it's open for everyone interested in using evidence-based pedagogical research to improve their teaching technique! 

As an academic, I have published widely on a variety of topics in educational anthropology, technology-enhanced teaching and lately have been expanding my research interests to include literary criticism and feminist media studies! (My academic career is under a different name because I don't want to confuse the heck out of everybody, but it's not like it's a huge secret or anything😄)

Also, check out this guest post/essay I wrote for Tale Out Loud answering exactly this question: The Anthropology Behind WHAT THE WOODS KEEP

Who designed the book cover? Did you have any say in the design?

Jeff Miller from Faceout Studio designed the amazing cover!

I LOVE my cover!

As it is customary in the traditional publishing world, I was asked for feedback once the cover art was designed. I provided said feedback (it was mostly high-pitch screaming of joy - but via email), and then the cover became final. 

And I love love LOVE it. 

What about the title? Did you pick this title?

Yep, I picked the title! I'm actually REALLY good with titles. At least, I think, I am - it's one of my superpowers!

How can I help you/debut authors succeed?

Thanks for asking! You can pre-order my book - see the links above in this post. 

You can say nice things about my book on social media. I'll be super grateful, if you do, and we'll be friends for life! 

I've also written this post answering exactly this question:

How did you celebrate when you got your agent representation/book deal?

It's all a complete blur in my memory - I might've blacked out when I heard the news! 

But knowing how we normally celebrate things in my house/family - I probably had a glass of sparkling wine, or two. 

How does revisions process work with traditionally published books?

There's a lot of revision. A LOT... There are many stages to the revisions process, but it varies from book to book and publisher to publisher. If you're going the traditional publishing way, be prepared to revise a lot!

What are your favorite books, authors...


Leigh Bardugo is THE QUEEN! 

Nova Ren Suma! 

Courtney Summers! 

I've also written about this: 

How did you pitch WHAT THE WOODS KEEP in your query?

I can't share my original query here or anywhere - EVER - as it'll just give away pretty much everything. 

But... I can show the very beginning and the ending of the original query I sent to Amy in March 2015: 

Dear Ms Tipton,

Ten years ago Hayden's spiritualist mother vanished into the woods near Promise, Colorado. She left nothing behind but a splatter of blood (hers) and a cut-off finger (not hers).


WHAT THE WOODS KEEP is a young adult urban fantasy with science fiction elements, complete at 69000 words. Told from Hayden’s point of view, the narrative incorporates scientific journal entries of Hayden’s father, eyewitness reports recording strange phenomena in and around Promise and session notes of Hayden’s treating therapist, among other documents.

What's your book like? What other books does it compare it?

Not sure about other books, but I've been influenced by the vibe of Twin Peaks, Labyrinth, X-Files and Spirited Away (I dare to think WHAT THE WOODS KEEP has got that Miyazaki magic).

If I didn't answer a question you really wanted to ask - please ask away in the comments! I'll reply, I promise!


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