Author Hayley Lawrence launches Inside The Tiger at BookFace, Port Macquarie

The launch: Port Macquarie author Hayley Lawrence, seated, signing books during the launch of Inside The Tiger on Saturday. Photo: supplied

The launch: Port Macquarie author Hayley Lawrence, seated, signing books during the launch of Inside The Tiger on Saturday. Photo: supplied

The debate over the death penalty has been piqued with the launch of Hayley Lawrence’s novel Inside The Tiger on Saturday.

The event was held at BookFace and the book sold out.

The Port Macquarie-based author says she was determined to write another novel before the birth of her fifth daughter.

"I wrote furiously, and the result was a completed first draft of Inside The Tiger in 2015," she added.

Coincidentally, her draft was finished the night before the executions of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. 

"I think the executions of Chan and Sukumaran are still very much in the Australian psyche. Even though we don't have the death penalty here, it showed us how we can still be affected by it.

"It was also eerie considering Inside the Tiger is about a girl who writes to a death row prisoner."

The launch attracted teachers from high schools - including MacKillop College and Regional, along with teachers from primary schools.

"A number of aspiring authors turned up, along with family, friends and literature lovers," she said.

The Q and A with BookFace manager Cathy Hunt covered the author’s initial interest in writing and the process of writing a novel.

"Inside The Tiger is my second manuscript. After receiving publisher interest with my first manuscript, Penguin Random House asked me to send them my next novel,” she said.

There were a number of questions from the audience, including how characters develop during the writing of a novel.

I think the executions of Chan and Sukumaran are still very much in the Australian psyche.

Hayley Lawrence

"And the truth is, I didn't know my characters very well when I start writing my first draft of my novel. By the end of it, I knew them much better, and then as I went through the editing process, they evolved into very distinct people. 

"Sometimes though, a character surprises me and walks onto the page when I'm least expecting it, and is so interesting that he or she commands attention and needs to be explored further. 

"This happened with Inside The Tiger and a character I never planned to have in my story ended up becoming the quiet hero of the entire novel.

"At the book launch, we also spoke about dealing sensitively with heavy themes like the death penalty in Young Adult fiction. Teens are exposed to so much online now that they don't enjoy being sheltered in literature. 

"You're not pulling the wool over anybody's eyes by keeping to safe topics for young people, and they want to explore their ideas on tough concepts like grief and loss and well as the more beautiful universal themes like love and friendship. 

"These are the common threads of humanity and we're all likely to experience these things at some point during our lives."

The author said Inside The Tiger doesn't shy away from discussions about grief, the death penalty and inhumane prison conditions, however it's not a depressing novel by any stretch as it's imbued with hope and youthfulness. 

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