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Books for adults

Events are back, baby!

9 March 2022

Yeeeeeees! How great is it that we’re getting out and about again — seeing our fellow literary peeps and drinking champagne and talking books. Oh, how I have missed it.

If you’re in need of a good literary dose, I’ve got events coming up for both adults and kids. I’ll be talking ‘Adulting and Other Catastrophes’ with Lucy Neave and Nigel Featherstone, and I’m certain this one is going to be heaps of fun.

Then I’m off on a trio of launches for my new picture book, Seree’s Story, illustrated by the incredible Wayne Harris. I’ll be in Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney, dishing out elephantine-sized fun. At all three there’ll be a book reading, craft activity, cupcakes and an awesome prize for the best elephant costume! Find details on my Events page.

 

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Then in May, I’m excited to be appearing at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. (Thank goodness Perth has finally opened its borders!) It will be my first time in Western Australia, and I’ve been hearing great things about this festival, so I can’t wait. Plus I’m going to be recording a series of episodes for my Secrets from the Green Room podcast, so look out for those.

And because I haven’t posted here for months I want to highlight a couple of past events that deserve a mention. I was thrilled to be in conversation with Omar Musa for his new book of poetry and wood cuts, Killernova. The event had everything, including both laughter and tears, and Omar’s artwork surrounding us, making it a truly memorable event. The book itself is a thing of beauty, and worth your dollars!

 

I also attended fellow publishing stablemate Michael Burge’s launch for Tank Water. He was in-conversation with Nigel Featherstone and it was a fascinating evening. The book is an absolute cracker and held me to the end. It’s rural crime fiction like I haven’t read before, set against the backdrop of gay hate crimes. Definitely also worth your dollars!

Oh, and one final lovely piece of news. It’s not an event but My latest picture book, Where the Heart Is, has just been released across South America. I cannot explain the thrill of seeing your book in another language. I’m not entirely sure why it’s so happy-making but let’s just say this is a definite highlight of my career to date. Plus it means that now our story can be read in the country that inspired it (Brazil). ¿Qué Bonito! (Perhaps this calls for an event in Brazil?!)

Here’s to lots more lovely events to bring us all together. And here’s to seeing you at one of them!

Zooming through lockdown

10 September 2021

Like half the country, the ACT is back in lockdown and this means that a bunch of my IRL bookish happenings shifted to Zoom. But one that was always intended for Zoom was F*CK COVID: An Online Literary Affair, organised by the dynamic team at the ACT Writers Centre.

 

When the event was first proposed I remember thinking that online probably wasn’t necessary. Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra weren’t in lockdown — oh, how those days seem like a distant dream! But clearly the organisers are fortune tellers and this event ended up being the highlight of my locked-down weekend. Plus every time I typed ‘F*CK COVID’ it was like a fist punch of defiance.

 

The event sold out in three days. Then more tickets were released, and it quickly sold out again. I was on a panel with Mark Brandi, moderated by Nigel Featherstone, called ‘Hard truths; Risky fiction’, and what an absolute delight it was. Nigel was his usual magnificent and thoughtful self, expertly guiding the conversation, and Mark and I found so many synergies in our work and writing process.

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My ‘set’ for F*CK COVID

Mark’s The Others is an absolute cracker of a book and kept me up until the early hours of the morning. Like The Breaking, which I was there to discuss, it’s tricky to talk about without giving away key plot points! But I found our conversation so rich and thought-provoking, and I hope the audience did too! It’s always difficult post-event to remember exactly what was said, which is why Sue Terry’s incredible write-up of the panel is invaluable! I will defer to her summary of everything, except to say that I work full-time as an editor, not part-time, which makes finding time to write extra challenging, especially when you combine that with being a single parent of three children. But there are cracks in life, and I seize on them whenever I can!

Jumping now to school visits, I wanted to mention the gorgeous kids at Dawul Remote Community School which is located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. This is where Zoom comes into its own, because how lucky was I to visit this school remotely! I shared the stage (or screen!) with DeadlyScience’s Corey Tutt. I was fortunate to edit Corey’s brilliant middle-grade book, The First Scientists (Hardie Grant, out 13 October 2021), so it was an absolute blast chatting to the kids with him. They had so many great questions about books and writing, and I came away enlivened, as I always do. My own kids are homeschooling during lockdown and were under strict instructions to keep out! Just one of the many challenges (as all parents know) of trying to simultaneously work and homeschool.

 

Next up was a pre-record for the inaugural Macgregor Primary Writers Festival — a whole week in which the school does nothing but celebrate books and writers. How blissful does that sound! They had an incredible line-up, including Andy Griffiths, Jackie French, Bronwyn Bancroft and yours truly, among others. If only I could travel back in time and be a kid at that school!

 

And finally there was my Editing Essentials presentation for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) which covered editing the full gamut of kids books, from picture books through to YA. The SCBWI crew organised a stellar line-up and there was a lovely big crowd who had great questions. When asked which was my favourite children’s genre to edit I had to say ALL OF THEM!

These events have brightened my lockdown immeasurably. Massive thanks to all the organisers who are making sure adults and kids alike have plenty of literary goodness to sustain them in these crazy times.

Behind the book tour

8 April 2021

My debut novel, The Breaking, has now been out in the world for five weeks. That sounds like such a long time but it has zipped by in an absolute blur. I’m aware that the crucial first six weeks of a book’s life are almost over, and yet I feel like I haven’t had time to really process any of it yet. Every day brings a new email or tweet or Instagram post from a reader saying such beautiful things about my book that I almost can’t believe they are true. Did I really do this? I think. It’s all a bit surreal.

A few days ago I woke to an MP tweeting about my novel, followed by an email from one of Australia’s finest writers who said all the beautiful things about The Breaking and then concluded that she was ‘a little bit envious’ of what I’d achieved. That just blows my mind. Imposter syndrome has a way of making none of it truly stick. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

 

Then there was the two-week book tour which was insanely wonderful and insanely exhausting. I flew into Brisbane (yes, I got on a plane!) where I collected my trusted hire car (aka Booktourmobile) and did an event at the gorgeous Avid Reader before spending the next two weeks travelling down the east coast. I visited 60 bookshops, had the most glorious conversations with booksellers and signed a gazillion books. Okay, maybe not a gazillion, but my signing pen certainly got a workout. I ended in Melbourne with an event for the equally gorgeous Readings.

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As I posted on the socials and people commented how exciting and glamorous it all looked, I made a point of recording the reality. I don’t sleep well in hotels, and there was a new one every night. Some days I was in four different locations. People would always ask me, ‘Where are you headed tomorrow?’ And I would smile apologetically and say, ‘I don’t know! I have to check my schedule.’ Which I did every night, because I could only hold one day at a time in my head.

I love a solo road trip. I listen to audiobooks, I blast music and sing till my lungs feel like they might tear. But I ate way too much chocolate and chips to keep myself alert. And I missed my long daily walks – my body felt jumpy. In one hotel, there were no knives so I used my finger to spread my breakfast toast with peanut butter. (I am not proud.) In the evenings I caught up with friends in various cities (wonderful) or worked till late catching up on emails (necessary), but both left me without time to pause. I often felt like my head was in 10 places at once. One day on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland I woke to a friend messaging me to say that a big fat rave review had appeared in the paper, but my schedule was so tight that I didn’t have time to even read it until 3 pm that day, in Lismore, NSW.

 

When my publisher organised the tour, I imagined hours off spent on the beach. Gold Coast, here I come! I packed three bikinis, which was foolishly optimistic. As it turned out I wore only one, on a perfect day in Coffs Harbour. I had a Sunday afternoon off and I walked for three delicious hours along the coastline, thinking that surely there were more days like this to come. But then the floods hit and I was just one step ahead of the worst of it, pulling the rain behind me as I headed south, watching all that destruction on the news, in places where I had just stood.

 

But all of that is incidental because oh, the booksellers! That’s what this trip was really about. And I met so many of them and had so many wonderful conversations about books and writing and reading. They made gorgeous displays of my books in windows, on front counters, display stands and at the very front of the shop (I had a tendency to walk straight past them, oblivious). Their support of The Breaking was humbling and just plain bloody wonderful. Booksellers are truly the best people in all of the world.

I’m going to finish this post with what was the beginning, my book launch at The Street Theatre in Canberra, because it was the moment when I got to send The Breaking out into the world. Karen Viggers launched the book so eloquently and said all the gorgeous things about me and the book. I am so glad that she handed me her speech notes afterwards, otherwise I would recall nothing of what she said. These events are always like that. But I do remember standing on that stage, looking out to my friends, family and fellow writers, and just feeling so grateful. It was a moment of joy, plain and simple.

I have used far too many adjectives in this post and the editor in me wants to strike them all out. But I have left them in because they actually aren’t enough to express how much happiness I feel. So let me finish by saying a massive, heartfelt thank you to every person who has bought The Breaking, or recommended it to a friend, or posted something lovely about it. To see it hit some bookshop bestseller lists has been a thrill (among many thrills), and that wouldn’t have happened without readers deciding to spend their dollars on my little novel. So, again, THANK YOU!

I have a copy of The Breaking to give away, thanks to my publisher. To go in the draw sign up to my monthly newsletter full of bookishly good stuff (sign-up box on this page) before 15 April, 5 pm.

The debut release storm

27 February 2021

I have started trying to write this post so many times but pre-publicity for The Breaking has me feeling like I’m in the middle of a storm. A tropical storm, perhaps (I love the tropics), but a storm nevertheless.

I had the best of intentions. Over the Christmas holiday period I knew I would have a couple of manuscripts to edit but that there would be plenty of time to write a bunch of guest blog posts and Q&A interviews. My plan was to get ahead on everything so that come release day I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

There was one small problem that I hadn’t accounted for. Christmas slow mode. It happens every year, and yet every year I forget about it. My family came up from Melbourne (extra wonderful after all their months in lockdown) and I stopped working. I never stop working. One of the dangers of working freelance is that evenings and weekends are just extra work days, so I never really stop. And then when I do, it’s like someone switched my motor off. I didn’t want to go near my email, or even think about anything other than just being with friends and family and enjoying the summer. Then I took the kids north for a week (bliss), and then it was still school holidays. It took me a long while to get back into gear. And needless to say, instead of being ahead, I was then behind.

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I did manage to get some new author photos done. I’d been putting it off for so long because I loathe being in front of the camera, but I actually surprised myself by enjoying the shoot. All credit to the fabulous Karleen Minney who directed my awkward body into better photographic shapes. Well, except for this outake. I was at saturation point here and couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands (seriously, hands are the worst on a shoot).

Since then I’ve been doing interviews for print and podcast, writing more Q&As, signing stock that arrived early to some of my local bookstores, and working with my publicist to plan a book tour, which is super exciting. I was also on a panel with superstar combo Karen Viggers and Zoya Patel talking about the representation of women in contemporary writing, which was so much fun. And The Breaking was allowed to break its embargo for its first outing.

After launching in Canberra next Thursday 4 March I’ll be heading to Brisbane for an event at Avid Reader on Thursday 11 March and then spending two weeks visiting bookshops all down the east coast, ending in Melbourne with an event for Readings at The Collective on Tuesday 23 March. If you’re in one of these cities, I’d love to see you at these events!

It is a nerve-wracking thing releasing a book into the world. And although I’ve published a collection of short fiction and some children’s books, because this is my debut novel it almost feels like the first time again. Feedback from people who’ve read early copies of the book has filled me with such joy, especially from those I know whose opinions I respect enormously. And it is so happy-making to receive all the photos of readers’ pre-ordered copies arriving.

The book is officially in bookshops today, and on the weekend there was a lovely big spread in the paper ahead of its release. So this thing is on, the book’s out there, and I’m going to ride that wild storm to the end.

Secrets from the Green Room

22 October 2020

Mega exciting news! This year I’ve been busily planning a new writing podcast with my co-host Craig Cormick, called Secrets from the Green Room. Craig and I have known each other for more than 20 years. I first met him in my second year studying creative writing when he happened to be my tutor, and since then we’ve made books together, been in a writing group together, and now we’re hosting a podcast together. And boy is it a lot of work starting a podcast! I knew it would be, and yet…

Our tagline is ‘The author stories you won’t hear anywhere else’ because the podcast is taking green room chat live. When writers get together — be it in green rooms or bars or cafes — they talk frankly about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing and publishing in ways that they usually don’t when put on a stage at a festival. So Secrets from the Green Room is going to take you backstage, with thanks to our sponsor and supporter, the ACT Writers Centre.

Season 1 features James Bradley, Holden Sheppard, Karen Viggers, Chris Hammer, Anna Spargo-Ryan, and more. We talk about everything from rejected manuscripts that never made it to publication (Anna Spargo-Ryan), how the publisher you choose can have a big impact on sales — and no, it’s not necessarily about big versus small publishers (Chris Hammer), the perceived glamour of an author’s life versus the reality (Karen Viggers), being snubbed by literary big shots in the green room (Holden Sheppard) and so many other things besides.

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Ep 1 is now live! It features my interview with Anna Spargo-Ryan. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed talking to her about how she grew up with her own publishing house (sort of!), the manuscripts that never made it to publication, how she accidentally pitched a book on Twitter that led to a heated auction, what said heated auction involved (hint: a lot of emotional paralysis on the couch), the worst rejection of her writing life and a whole lot more.

You can find us on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen (obviously we’d love you to subscribe) and all the socials: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (obviously we’d love you to follow). And you can drop us a line via our website. Hope you can join us for the ride!