Australian's first novel sparks bidding war

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It has been quite an interesting few years for Rebecca James. In the blink of an eye, James went from helping out with her partner's kitchen business to an internationally acclaimed author and the subject of a bidding fury for the publication of her first book Beautiful Malice.

Her debut novel is the story of Catherine -- a girl who moves from Melbourne to Sydney in order to escape her past and along the way befriends an outgoing party girl named Alice.

"As the story goes along, Alice's nasty side comes out and you see that Alice is a little bit not that great of a friend after all and that there's something sinister about her," says James.

When she started writing Beautiful Malice, James hadn't planned for it to be a book for young adults. It started as a hobby and the idea of classifying her novel and trying to market it came after she wrote it.

"I wasn't thinking about that when I wrote it and I didn't really think about what general category it would be in until I started looking for an agent," says James. "Thinking about the audience would make it too hard [to write] because you can become very self-conscious. I think thinking too much about your audience could be a little bit paralyzing."

James is currently in the process of finishing up her second book Cooper Bartholomew is Dead. She started writing it so soon after Beautiful Malice because of encouragement from her publisher and a desire to keep herself busy.

The sale of Beautiful Malice resulted in a bidding frenzy -- an offer of $600,000 was made by Bantam USA for the U.S. rights to James' first two books, the second of which she is currently writing, though James now feels more pressure.

"It's been harder just in the sense that I feel like there's expectations now so I'm much more conscious of that," says James. "Before with Beautiful Malice it was a fun hobby but this feels much more like work."

James only started writing after she had kids. It was a way for her to take some time for herself while staying at home and looking after her four sons, though that has obviously changed.

"Having children taught me how to be much more patient. In my twenties I wouldn't have had the patience to sit down with something for a whole year and then wait for months and months for other people to read it and all the other things that go along with writing," says James. "Before that I was very restless and in my twenties I moved around a lot and changed jobs and traveled a lot so I couldn't do that when I had four children."

In her youth James attended university for a couple of years and left early to waitress, travel and teach English in Indonesia and Japan.

"I just think I was very reckless and indecisive, I didn't know what I wanted to do," says James. "I stayed like two years in Indonesia and a year in Japan so it wasn't like I moved every month, but I would enjoy something while I was doing thinking, 'Yep this is what I want to do.' And then I would change my mind."

At the end of her twenties, James settled down in Australia when she found a partner and decided to have children. James hadn't left Australia for 10 years when she started traveling again to meet with publishers and do book tours.

"I'm getting used to it again," says James. "I haven't seen Canada at all. People have been saying that the autumn is so beautiful so I'm very much looking forward to seeing it."