Monthly Archives

January 2010

17 January 2010


Megumi has only one wish. For the bear to come back.

Published by Walker Books, Megumi and the Bear is a heartwarming story about friendship. Written by Irma Gold and illustrated by Craig Phillips, Megumi and the Bear is for children aged 3+. For more information visit Walker Books.

Praise for Megumi and the Bear
Gold’s understated text is beautifully crafted, while Phillips’ muted illustrations are endearing…There is a wonderful mix of warmth and pathos, heartache and joy in this delightful book.  The Canberra Times

A moving story of sadness and healing.  Bookseller+Publisher

This is a divinely sweet story about friendship and the power of hope. Gold’s text is warmly and beautifully written.  Kids Book Review  (read full review here)

Charming and whimsical…a book that adults as well as kids will enjoy.  HerCanberra

A beautiful story about friendship and a child‘s longing written with warmth and care, and with wonderful illustrations.  New Kidz Books in Oz

Megumi and the Bear is a gorgeous book…about friendship, loss, time and memory.  Whispering Gums (read full review here)

An utterly charming love story.  Barbie Robinson, ArtSound FM

A tenderly portrayed tale of friendship and an opportunity to talk about feelings of loss and partingRed Reading Hub

The snowy setting in this picture book for young children is refreshing…The depiction of snow naturally creates white space on the page that allows gaps in explicit content and encourages imaginations to open…Irma Gold’s text is as thoughtful as Craig Phillips’ illustrations. The language is sensory, daisies wound around themselves, and at times metaphorical, a star falls towards her like a flower…This tale of friendship could also be a possible resource when considering the Australian curriculum’s focus on Asia.  Magpies magazine

Selected links
Download classroom ideas for Megumi and the Bear here.
Read an interview with Irma about Megumi and the Bear’s strange journey to publication in the Age here.
Read about Megumi’s Canberra launch here and Sydney launch here.
Read about the importance of picture books (including the story of Megumi and the Bear) in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Listen to ABC Radio’s Alex Sloan interview Irma about Megumi and the Bear:

1 January 2010


Listen to Irma on ABC South East, interviewed by Paul West. They talk about making the cross from short fiction to writing novels, how working as an editor impacts the writing process, where the seed for the novel The Breaking came from, the  research process in Thailand, how travelling as a writer is different, and the shift from the isolation of writing to the intense publicity process.


Listen to Irma on the So You Want to Be a Writer podcast, interviewed by Allison Tait. They talk about writing short fiction, how Irma came to be a writer, the drawbacks of being a ‘panster’, how she tricked herself into writing The Breaking, the way working as an editor impacts on writing as an author, how to maximise book publicity, and a whole lot more.

Listen to Irma on the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival podcast, interviewed by Jen Bowden. They talk about why Irma is obsessed with elephants, where her characters came from, the whirlwind of emotions on releasing a debut novel, her work with rescued elephants for the Save Elephant Foundation, the lust for travel in COVID times, the issue of likability in fiction, and the hashtag they want to start trending!

 Listen to Irma on the Words and Nerds podcast with Dani Vee. They talk about how fiction can change the world, the ethics of volunteering abroad, on writing landscape and Thailand, the gift of her first draft experience, what it’s like to work with rescued elephants, how tourists can interact with animals ethically, and a whole lot more.

Winner, Canberra Critics Circle Award 2021

Shortlisted, then Highly Commended, ACT Notable Awards for Fiction

Hannah Bird has just arrived in Thailand. Disoriented and out of her depth, she meets Deven, a fierce and gutsy Australian expat who sweeps her into thrilling adventures rescuing elephants.

As they head deeper and deeper into the fraught world of elephant tourism, their lives become tangled in ways Hannah never imagined. But how far will they go to save a life?

Hannah is about to make a critical decision from which there will be no turning back, with shattering consequences.

The Breaking is an extraordinary debut. Sharply observed and richly vivid, it is an intensely moving story about the magnetic bond between two young women and the enduring cost of animal exploitation. It is at once devastating and exhilarating, and ultimately transformative.

Praise for The Breaking
‘A heart-stopping, unforgettable read. The Breaking will blow your mind.’  Angela Savage, author of Mother of Pearl

‘Evocative and urgent, The Breaking shows Gold’s talent and heart.’  Kate Mildenhall, author of The Mother Fault

‘Bold, passionate and fierce. A plea against powerlessness and indifference. I loved every minute.’  Karen Viggers, author of The Orchardist’s Daughter

‘Sensual and hyper-dangerous, Gold’s take on human love and animal cruelty is a real tour de force.’  John Clanchy, author of In Whom We Trust

‘I just inhaled The Breaking. So beautifully, clearly written — such skill. I never felt as if I was being ‘delivered’ information, yet by the end I’d learned so much. To write like this — to end up with something that feels effortless and complete, and moves with its own energy, like real life — it’s a bloody hard thing to do. An extraordinary achievement.’  Peggy Frew, author of Hope Farm and Islands

The Breaking is a brilliant novel. Tautly paced and immersive. Deeply emotional. A book that will be remembered.’  Fiona Robertson, author of If You’re Happy

‘So compelling, haunting and completely addictive. Irma’s writing style manages to feel literary yet easy reading all at once. I’m so keen to read whatever she does next.’  Liz Ledden, author and co-host of One More Page

‘An assured and powerful debut … gripping and moving … the novel unfolds in three sections, each leading seamlessly into the next … Gold has a real talent for dialogue … Hardly a word is wasted throughout the book, and Gold spins a narrative web around the reader, without being noticed, that is artful, without being too arty … Some of the passages in The Breaking will stay with the reader for a very long time after the book is finished. Gold has produced a rich and thought-provoking novel, written in lucid and engaged prose. I hope The Breaking proves to be her breakout novel, with many more to come.’  The Canberra Times, read the full review

‘Irma Gold’s vivid, dramatic debut The Breaking hurtles into a magnetic attraction between two young Australian women who meet in Chiang Mai, Thailand … The Breaking grabs you from the outset, with sharp dialogue, taut storytelling, a convincing relationship dynamic, and an atmospheric portrayal of Thailand, enriched, one suspects, by first-hand experience.’  Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, read the full review

‘The severe mistreatment of elephants makes this, at times, a harrowing read … Gold’s lyricism works, and the writing serves to illuminate, and not distract from, the scenes … An atmospheric novel that delicately educates as it entertains.’  The Weekend Australian

‘Writer and editor Irma Gold’s debut novel has a propulsive energy and a visceral sense of place that’s informed by Gold’s own experience of working with rescued elephants in Thailand … The Breaking doesn’t shy away from the complexity of its themes, acknowledging the imperfection of love and the complicated ramifications of following your convictions all the way to the end. It’s an unusual book, tackling both the messiness of human desire and the flawed nature of our relationships with animals, and may appeal to readers who enjoy the work of writers like Laura Jean McKay, Jessie Tu and Laura McPhee-Browne.’  Bookseller + Publisher magazine

‘Gold’s taut, precise prose captures the atmosphere [of Thailand] … Whereas the media often treats young adulthood as a frivolous and self-indulgent stage of life, Gold astutely captures its agonies. In particular, she takes youthful idealism seriously, legitimising the quest of the two protagonists to find a way to live that does not simply capitulate to the status quo.’  Newtown Review of Books, read the full review

‘I absolutely loved The Breaking. It had me with the opening sentence. After finishing I had to sit awhile, holding the book, and thinking it all through. I didn’t anticipate the end. At all. It’s a terrific novel. So much to get and learn from the story. Deven and Hannah will stay with me. And I’ve not been to Thailand but I had a real sense of place. Bravo!’  Deb Stevens, retired A&U sales agent

‘Wow! This is a book that makes you think and feel, and stays with you long after the heart-pumping ending. Golds characters are believable, her Thailand setting is evocative (you can almost feel and smell it) and the important (and devastating) issue of animal cruelty, endemic in elephant tourism is shown through a compelling narrative of two young women navigating the world and their place in it, as well as their feelings for each other. My copy of The Breaking came in the mail on Friday, and I thought Id have a quick peek inside … and I was hooked! I finished it on Saturday afternoon — it was that compelling! … A compelling, immersive, thought-provoking read.’  Deborah Tidball, author of The Scared Book

‘What I noticed as soon as I opened the first page was how beautifully written it was. It gives us plenty to think about of what we do when we go overseas to other countries, and what we do to try and change the world … I think its going to be a really popular read. Its something a little bit different — beautifully written with amazing characters.’  Dani Vee, Words and Nerds podcast

‘From the moment I picked this one up I was completely drawn into Hannah’s story and absolutely flew through it … The writing has a really vivid and dynamic feel … The perspective puts the reader firmly in Hannah’s shoes in a way that is perfect for building intimacy … the reader has their eyes opened to the issues around elephant tourism at the same time as Hannah does … Gold did a brilliant job of conveying the issues around this without feeling preachy … My favourite thing was seeing the relationship between Hannah and Deven … I don’t want to spoil anything, but I really wanted to mention how well I think this was written. If you’re after a fun and moving story that will leave you thinking long after the last page I’d encourage you to take Hannah’s hand and let her and Deven show you around Thailand!’  Bookish Bron, read the full review

‘The Breaking packs an emotional punch in a bittersweet plot about friendship, loyalty and morality.  HerCanberra

‘The Breaking has broad appeal and has an urgency to its narrative style that matches the gravity of the eco themes it deals with … Irma captures the right beat with her two female characters, twenty somethings, young and fiercely passionate about animal rights and the state of the planet, poised for action right now, consequences be damned. I love how Irma traversed this; the consequences of taking extreme action were laid out in a clear ripple like effect and Hannah’s realisation of this in the moments of ensuing chaos was a powerful narrative force. Australian literature has an exciting new voice on the scene and I look forward to reading more from Irma Gold.’  Theresa Smith, read the full review

‘An intimate and textured debut … thrilling and tense and urgent … The Breaking will remind you that good intentions aren’t always enough, and that real problems never have easy solutions.’  Keeping Up With the Penguins, read full review here

The Breaking is a confronting, heartbreaking, visceral, bold and unforgettable story of the link between animal tourism and horrific cruelty … Alongside the narrative of the elephants is the story of self-identity, coming-of-age and female friendship between Hannah and Deven, also explored with compassion, humour and understanding … Some books you read because of the information they impart. The Breaking is one of those books – I felt deeply affected by the insight I gained into an industry I realised I knew little about. And that is what sets this apart from other novels about Australian travellers experiencing a foreign country: the deep and lasting impression of connection and feeling for animal welfare and what might be done to ensure boundaries are not crossed while still ensuring cultural integrity and basic human needs are met.’  Cass Moriarty, read full review

The Breaking is a visceral account that stimulates all the senses. Cultural sensitivities are observed, alongside the tricky balance of portraying both the beauty and violence of the country … Gold’s own experiences of volunteering on various rescue missions in Thailand lend the book an imprimatur of authenticity.’  The Saturday Paper, read the full review

‘A compassionate work … This book will have you burning the late-night candles and will reward you with much to consider.’  The Riot ACT, read the full review

‘Best book that I’ve read this year … this book really changed my life.’ Sarah Cole, blogger and secondary teacher

‘Gold is a skilled writer, in full control of pace and plot, the growth of her characters and the cultural backdrop of her story … Her observation of human behaviour is ever astute and non-judgmental … The educative purpose in this writing is never allowed to take over the sheer storytelling magic which Irma Gold delivers. Here is a tale told with intensity by a writer whose love and control of words is always in evidence. Irma has spent much of her working life as a book editor refining others’ words, and she is acutely aware of the need for economy, for precision, for graphic picture painting and for hooking the reader on every page. The Breaking does all of this, engaging our hearts and minds, demanding that we question what we may have thought and that we consider a different way of experiencing the culture of ‘the other’.’  Barbie Robinson, Living Arts, read the full review

‘This is such a gutsy novel: Gold is not afraid of exploring difficult terrain, including the intricate connection between culture, economic survival, and the treatment of animals. The narrative, which simply (or not so simply) refuses to take the easy road, also explores the way love can be, yes, surprising, but also frustrating, hard work, and, ultimately, life-changing. As to the elephants? Well, this reader will never look at them the same way again. Courageous, wonderfully written, wise, and unforgettable.’  Nigel Featherstone, author of Bodies of Men

1 January 2010


Buy the English edition.

Buy the Spanish edition.

Buy the Chinese edition.

Get the teachers’ notes.

Watch Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York read Where the Heart Is.

Listen to a review of Where the Heart Is on the popular Your Kid’s Next Read podcast (starts at 14:55), including suggestions on how to use the book for K–6.

Listen to Irma interviewed about Where the Heart Is on the One More Page podcast, starting at 3.05.

Listen to Irma Gold and Susannah Crispe interviewed about the process of creating the book.

Winner, ACT Notable Award for Children’s Fiction

Published in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Mexico, Central and South America, United Kingdom, Spain, China

In 2011, Dindim the Magellanic penguin washed up on an island beach near Rio de Janeiro. He was rescued by a man called Joao, who nursed him back to health, and created a lifelong bond. Since then, Dindim has spent most of every year with Joao, leaving only to travel 8000 miles to the Patagonia coasts of Argentina and Chile. Where the Heart Is was inspired by this extraordinary true story.

With beautiful prose and stunning illustrations, Dindim’s story will capture the hearts of young readers and adults alike. His journey across the ocean highlights both the little penguin’s intrepid nature and the variety of wildlife he meets along the way. From whales to albatross, children will discover the kaleidoscope of life that exists in the ocean.

Where the Heart Is also offers a window into discussing big issues with young readers, such as the oil spill that almost killed Dindim, and the effects of climate change on animal habitats. Magellanic penguins are a near threatened species, and it is vitally important to increase our awareness of the dangers faced by these beautiful birds.

Poignant, moving, funny and heartfelt, Dindim and Joao’s story is a celebration of friendship and nature. It explores the deep bond that can form between humans and animals, and encourages children to think more about the incredible animals who share our world.

Praise for Where the Heart Is

‘What a beautiful, beautiful book. Congratulations!’  Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Where the Heart Is offers insights into the comfort to be found in friendship, and the strong bonds that can form between humans and animals. Crispe’s illustrations are fresh but never overwhelming; her use of watercolour and digital collage conveying a tenderness that supports Gold’s eloquence. A rare bird of a book: light and deep in equal measure.’  South Sydney Herald

‘Gold’s engaging prose and strong storytelling cadences combine with Crispe’s endearing watercolour illustrations to bring the story to life. There is pathos, sentiment, adventure, danger and solace in this charming book about the strength of friendship and the power of kindness and caring.’  The Canberra Times

‘Gold pulls you right into the emotion of this true story with a retelling that tugs on heart strings and inspires bravery and caring for others … A beautiful story to share at home, and equally as perfect to explore as a class, Where the Heart Is is a powerful and joyful tale that proves friendship and love know no distance.’  Kids’ Book Review, read the full review

‘This book is a perfect example of the capacity of the picture book to both enchant and inform us … Evocatively illustrated by Susannah Crispe and skilfully told in words by Irma Gold, this story is indeed one that both touches our hearts and intrigues us … I hope that this author and artist will work together again as their combination does seem to be especially magical.’  Barbie Robinson on Living Arts, read the full review

‘It’s a really sweet, delightful story. And I really enjoyed the illustrations by Susannah Crispe. I loved the colour palette and the really cute little penguin character.’ One Page podcast, listen to the episode

‘I dare you to read this book and not close it with a smile on your face!’ Rebekah Gienapp, read the full review

‘Young readers will delight in its beautiful depiction of the intrepid penguin’s journey, and the wildlife he meets on the way. Heartfelt and educational, this is a celebration of nature and belonging.’ Australian Booksellers Association

‘This is a must have!’ Dream Reader Kids

‘This book will resonate with your entire primary school audience. It is an absolute delight. I highly recommend this book for your collection.’  Teacher librarian, The Surf Coast Bookshelf

‘What makes this a gorgeous book is the way Gold tells the story… It encourages us to think about kindness, tenderness and loyalty, making it a feel-good read.’ Whispering Gums, read the full review

‘A must for every child’s bookshelf.’ Leanne Cramond

‘Touching and tender. A perfect rendition based on an extraordinary real life tale. Very classroom worthy.’ Dimity Powell, Managing Editor, Kids’ Book Review

‘This book is a stunner … Books like this show children that small actions make a difference, and help tell stories of friendship and the importance of the environment and conservation efforts.’  Sarah, Let Them be Small

1 January 2010


Winner, ACT Writing and Publishing Awards for Nonfiction, 2012
Winner, Canberra Critics Circle Award for Literature
, 2011

Miscarriage is so common and yet it is an unspeakable subject. Women often grieve alone, mourning a child they have never met but whose future they have already imagined. It is a private, hidden kind of grief. In The Sound of Silence twenty-two women speak out about their experiences of miscarriage. These are stories of loss and loneliness, hope and joy, strength and courage, and, most of all, overwhelming love. They are a reminder to all women who have experienced a miscarriage that they are not alone.

Featuring Enza Gandolfo (Stella Prize shortlisted author of The Bridge), Rebecca Freeborn (author of Hot Pursuit and Misconception), Choechoe Brereton (author of A House for Donfinkle), Melissa Ferguson (author of The Shining Wall), Karen Andrews (author of Crying in the Car and Trust the Process), and many more.

Buy The Sound of Silence here, or the ebook here.

Praise for The Sound of Silence
Penned by women who have experienced miscarriage, this collection of their stories is diverse and down-to-earth, and each account is beautifully written.  Child magazines

‘Extremely moving, eloquent and achingly beautiful  Parenting Express

Intimate stories that are sad, confronting and uplifting.  Birth Matters

This book is recommended for anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, but more importantly, for anyone working with childbearing families and others in society who have not experienced a miscarriage. No one can read this book and not gain a deeper understanding the impact an early pregnancy loss can have. It is seldom ‘just a miscarriage’…The Sound of Silence takes the reader through what can often be the shadow parts of this journey in a deeply moving and honest way. We all can benefit from the wisdom and experience of the stories captured and shared here. This book is a very good addition to the library of anyone drawn to the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology.  Birth Psychology, journal of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, USA  (read full review here)

Confronting, authentic and grounded, these stories provide practical help for others who share the loss.  Leanne Raven, CEO, SIDS and Kids Australia

A courageous, deeply moving, well written anthology of true stories. They will reach right into you and make an impact. This may be an essential resource for someone you know.  Gaytana Adorna, Southern FM

An open, honest and insightful book that offers hope and understanding.  Trudi Penrose-Starr, co-founder, TLC Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Australia

Rather than being a depressing, sad account of an almost taboo subject I found this ultimately uplifting…Irma Gold as editor deserves a special mention. Not only has she judiciously selected the contributions to ensure a good balance of stories and to ensure the reader is not weighed down by dismal spirit-sapping accounts, but she has clearly demonstrated a gift for careful, respectful editing. Her introduction shows that she has her own story to tell and so she is empathetic with and sympathetic to the contributors. She sets their stories in the statistical framework but does not allow that to detract from the harrowing tragedies that they have experienced. Importantly, she allows the individual voices to be heard, and not edited out through any polishing process. Irma Gold is the best kind of editor—sensitive, skilled, and unobtrusive. An inspirational book.  Kristen Alexander

The Sound of Silence was the stand-out winner on every level. This book proved to be compellingly readable, boasted good production design and evidenced careful, respectful editing. Although neither of the judges initially expected to be taken by this volume, both ultimately found it absorbing and uplifting. The writing was of the highest quality and deserves a readership well beyond its niche market. In short: an inspirational book and a clear winner.  Judges report, ACT Writing and Publishing Awards for Nonfiction

Selected links
Read an article Irma wrote about her own miscarriage for Overland literary journal here, and another for Mamamia here.
Discover what readers think about The Sound of Silence here.

Listen to Louise Maher from ABC Radio interview Irma about The Sound of Silence:

1 January 2010


Winner, Canberra Critics Circle Award for Literature, 2013
Winner, special one-off award at the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards for
‘Outstanding Service to Writing and Publishing in the ACT and Region, 2013
Official publication of the National Year of Reading 2012
Official publication of the Centenary of Canberra 2013

Featuring Judith Wright • Bill Gammage • Alex Miller • Marion Halligan • Les Murray • Jackie French • Omar Musa • CEW Bean • AD Hope • Kate Grenville • Roger McDonald • Jack Heath • Garth Nix and 62 others

Sparkling writing from some of Australia’s finest authors. But what’s the connection between Miles Franklin and Omar Musa? AD Hope and Blanche d’Alpuget? Manning Clark and Kate Grenville? — apart from their tie with Canberra and the high country around it? Edited by Irma Gold, this inspired anthology reveals the rich diversity of writing that has emerged from the foothills, boulevards and hidden corners of the Canberra region over the last 100 years. But more than that, together these works bring something deep and fascinating into view. Follow the interwoven threads through this remarkable and revealing journey of Australian storytelling. With its mix of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, The Invisible Thread promises to captivate and enthral all lovers of literature.

Buy The Invisible Thread from bookstores or online here.

Praise for The Invisible Thread
This book should be on every Australian bookshelf. 
Whispering Gums (read full review here)

As Editor, Gold inserts some clever, revealing juxtapositions…an anthology should comprise a ‘box where sweets compacted lie’. The Invisible Thread does. Anthologies are intended to make us think about the principles of selection as well as the inclusions. This one does that, too.  The Canberra Times

A captivating collection…testament not only to the quality of the writing, but also to the insights of the editor…There are many individual jewels, some of them familiar to me, some new. Many of the fragments were so absorbing that I was propelled off the couch and into my study, or down to the library, to find the whole from which it had been extracted, needing to read more.  Australian Book Review (read review here)

A shining achievement.  BMA magazine

While we’re acutely aware of Canberra’s political legacy, what perhaps doesn’t spring immediately to mind is a strong literary heritage — something The Invisible Thread is likely to change...Connecting writers like this is intriguing, asking how a sense of place affects our broader interpretation of the world.  The Sun-Herald (read full review here)

Canberra is the only one of our cities to have been anthologised in this way and that seems meet and just. Canberra is a city owned not by any state but by us, the people of Australia, as a symbolic city to represent and display us as a nation state…Anthologies are of unique value among all books because in their different ways they capture the landscape of our minds and feelings as Australians at a particular time or by a particular theme. In special ways, anthologies are the history of our writing, our thinking — and this is a very special anthology about a special city.  Frank Moorhouse

At a time of some unease about our literary future — not just in Canberra — it is good to have an anthology that reminds us of the excellence, variety and longevity of Australian writing set in or emanating from the national capital.  Peter Rose

The publication of The Invisible Thread is a watershed moment in ACT-region literature: it’s the moment when people realise the contribution this small part of the world has made.  Nigel Featherstone

Selected links
Go behind the scenes on set here.
Watch an animation of Judy Horacek’s Invisible Thread illustrations here.
Read extracts from the anthology by Alex Miller here, Peter Stanley here, and Lesley Lebkowicz here.
Read Angela Meyer’s LiteraryMinded interview with Irma here.
Read an article about The Invisible Thread in The Sydney Morning Herald here and Meanjin here.
Listen to the ‘Out of Place’ panel of Thread authors at the NonFictioNow conference, RMIT Melbourne here.
Watch Irma’s video interviews with some of The Invisible Thread authors, including Roger McDonald, Marion Halligan, Omar Musa, Jackie French and Bill Gammage here.
Read about Woven Words, the spectacular Invisible Thread event with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra here.

Watch The Invisible Thread trailer, by filmmaker James Hunter.

Watch Irma interview Marion Halligan as part of The Invisible Thread series.