Tuesday Writing Tips With Josie Montano

I hope you enjoyed the cyber bubbles. Feel free to help yourself to another piece of cyber cake.

Josie Montano is here now to share some fabulous writing tips based on how she wrote her novel, Sunlight.


  1. Write for your audience;

Research the lingo for the age group you are writing for, i.e.: early teens speak differently to teens in their later years, so if your character is 14, make her a regular natural 14 year old. There’s a big difference between a twelve, fourteen and a sixteen year old, primarily hormones:-)

I research by eavesdropping on the bus, but don’t make it creepy stalky like, or they’ll just think you’re some crazy cat person! Also if possible and if mutually acceptable and appropriate, befriend teens on facebook so you can read how they communicate with one another. You can straight out ask a teen for help with lingo for your book if you feel you are not getting ‘it’. If you have teens in the house, perfect … just make them sit down to dinner with you and listen to the silence …. 🙂

  1. How to hit the US market?

Sunlight is my fifteenth fiction book but the first to be published outside Australia.

Sunlight visited six Australian publishers over four years and none of them were interested in publishing it, I always wondered whether it was because it was a touchy subject, cancer? I never gave up on having it published, never let those rejections get to me and even considered self-publishing when I noticed an add in ‘Buzz Words’ where Solstice Publications were looking for paranormal manuscripts. What the heck I thought, maybe my story borders this genre as the main character travels from one world to another. So I sent it to them and here we are today!

If you have an agent then they may be able to help you get your author tentacles in. Or if you are persistent, and vigilant then keep a keen eye out for opportunities – they are always there.

  1. What is speculative fiction?;

The definition is really hard to wrangle but here are a few dot points that helped me get my head around it!

    • It’s the majorly ‘what if?’ fantastic genre;
    • It is ‘Speculative’ i.e.: fiction that allows you to speculate and ask questions.
    • Over a dozen genres fit under the spec-fiction umbrella that encompass sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal, steam-punk, fairy-tales etc.
  1. Can spec-fiction and YA work?;

Of course! Look at the latest works of Hunger Games and Twilight for example, YA and fantasy/paranormal combined. You can have teen angst, coming of age stories mixed with a spec-fiction sub-genre.

  1. Method write;

Sunlight was part of my university Masters and I wrote the novel and also am researching the exegesis (essay). I chose to research how the tools of method acting can assist with method writing. I won’t say much more as I’d like you all to wait for my paper to be published.

  1. Example of method writing;

OK you twisted my arm, here’s one example of how I utilised method writing into the manuscript. I used memories from my own cancer journey of nearly ten years ago and wrote them directly into the emotions of my teen character in Sunlight.

  1. How to write a real character?;

I always become my character, a little like I allow my character’s ‘soul’ to slip into/takeover my body. I was known to dress like a teen while writing Wogaluccis – around the house of course!

I get to know my character from the inside and out. So not only their physical features, but their emotional needs, concerns, angst, what triggers their emotions, what was their past like, what is their future going to look like. I have a questionnaire that I like to fill out initially that brings out the character onto paper.

  1. How did I come up with the idea for Sunlight?;

Rewind back a few years before my own cancer experience, I was asked by a teacher of a hospital school to visit one of their students as she had read Wogaluccis and loved it, the teacher thought it would be a lovely surprise for her student while she was a patient going through chemotherapy. This visit to a very special young adult lying in her bed wearing her best wig and make-up left me feeling very humbled, and I knew I had to honour this experience, but a story evaded me for years – and I know now why, because I had to experience this myself.

It was then a few years after my own cancer journey that I wanted to get life insurance – which was a frustrating exercise because as soon as the insurance company found out I had cancer (even though now in remission) they didn’t want a bar of me. So I compared that with an ex-prisoner who even though they have done their time and have been rehabilitated, finds it hard to get a passport, enter another country, get a job, gain respect etc because they have this prison sentence over their head.

Click! The idea began to formulate in my head, what if my story is about a young girl diagnosed with cancer, how does this affect her family life, social life, school etc? Will her boyfriend support or dump her? What kind of strength does she need to go through the therapy? How does she cope with that? And I answered my own question with …. She goes into a fantasy prison world which parallels her true world to cope with her diagnosis, pain and therapies.

  1. How did you know you were writing spec-fiction?;

Um I didn’t. My story just fell into that genre. So don’t get caught up in the genre, get caught up in the story … ooh I like that one, copyrighted!!! Write your story with meaning, heart, passion and I always throw in a little humour, yes even with a serious topic like cancer, then work out what genre it fits into. And make your writing mean something, from a picture book to an adult novel, even the simplest story will mean something to someone, somewhere.

  1. Do you have to like spec-fiction to write it?;

I’m not ashamed to say that I didn’t even know what the term spec-fiction meant until I started my university masters. I recognised the genres that huddle under the spec-fic umbrella but didn’t know they had were part of a spectrum.

I also don’t particularly like full-on fantasy stories such as dragons, elves etc, I prefer science fiction and specifically stories with robots, artificial intelligence etc – I seem to be attracted to Phillip K Dick’s writing style.

I also don’t find myself attracted to vampires or the paranormal, have not read any of the Twilight books and yet find it very surprising that I am dabbling with a sequel to Sunlight that may incorporate vampires in a fantasy world that my character will delve in. So that will be interesting!

If you have a question for Josie about her writing, feel free to leave it in the comments section of this blog.


You can win an e-book version of Josie’s new YA novel, Sunlight by sharing a funny or positive cancer experience in the comments section of this post.


You can buy Sunlight at the following locations:

for print version in Australia www.booksbyjosie.com.au

Happy writing:)


P.S. See you back here in half an hour for a review of Josie’s book.


10 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tips With Josie Montano

  1. i love these insights into an authors ‘way’ of doing stuff. This book sounds really good, and im so glad that Josie found a way to get it out there! Well done!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed the launch, review and this inspiring interview Dee. I have funny and not so funny cancer tales aplenty but alas no e-Reader yet. This is another one on my list to read however! Thanks to you Josie and Dee. Dimity

  3. Really? Well, in the interests of sharing…Once upon a time there was a bloke, to whom I’d been married to for just 3 months. Whether it was marriage to me or other external forces, he developed a cancerous brain stem tumour. Apparently inoperable due to location, a craniotomy was promptly performed nevertheless. It was his and mine’s first experience with 5 hour long surgery sessions and ICUs. The op went well abeit unsuccessful in removing the tumour, but what they feared most was loss of brain function. I was invited in to witness his recovery and pushed my way through a tight circle of white coated interns, nurses, and surgeons to stand by his bedside in the ICU. ‘Wake up Marty!’ one of them beckoned. ‘Your wife is here.’ Puffy eyes split open and the first words he uttered were, ‘That’s not my wife. I married a blonde.’ (take a moment to study my profile pic here) Silence thicker than hospital porridge ensued. Worried looks were exchanged. Anxiety instantly vanished, replaced with relief and laughter. As least they hadn’t removed his sense of humour bits. I knew then, everything would be alright. And it just about is; thirteen years later, and he still prefers brunettes. 🙂

  4. My pleasure Dee and Josie. It’s exactly as they say; what doesn’t kill you right?… Humour is my elixir in life. Dimity

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