It almost feels like we’re back to normal with events again, and it was so lovely to recently head over to gorgeous Western Australia for the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. I took a week beforehand to travel the coast from Bremer Bay to Margaret River and, my goodness, it is stunning! I knew that the beaches were all white sand and turquoise water but I didn’t realise that they were next-level stunning. World class, in fact. If anyone wants to hand me the job of WA publicist, I’m up for it! The weather was warm and we swam and hiked and explored and generally had the most glorious time.
I finished up with a weekend at the festival where I interviewed a bunch of lovely people for my Secrets from the Green Room podcast as part of a special partnership with the festival. It was so great to be hanging with my literary tribe again! The first ep with Claire G. Coleman is up now and – like all our guests – she speaks with brutal honesty about the writing and publishing process.
Following her will be an ep with brother and sister duo Brooke Davis, of the international smash Lost and Found, and Rhett Davis, who won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for Hovering. It was such a delight being around these two lovely and very funny humans and witnessing their sibling bond. They both rated the green room soup as the best ever, and they weren’t the only ones to rave about it on the podcast. (Frankly, you may begin to think we have all gone a bit mad on soup, of all things.)
Third in line will be New York Times bestselling author Natasha Lester who I finally met after many years of online chat. We got very silly on the blue velvet couch in the green room and generally had a grand time. She is gorgeous inside and out, and I loved chatting with her both on and off the podcast.
Finally, I spoke with Australian literary royalty Craig Silvey of Jasper Jones and Honeybee fame. Because of a mix-up, we had to change the time of the interview to after the festival close on the final day. This meant we were the last ones left inside the locked building, bar the janitor. It felt like the beginning of a crime novel, but thankfully Craig did not murder me in the green room with a microphone stand. Stay tuned for these eps!
There have been more events since I’ve returned to Canberra. I had the absolute pleasure of being in-conversation with Ashley Goldberg about his debut novel, Abomination, at The Book Cow. Ashley took my editing course at the University of Canberra many years ago, so it is especially wonderful to see him publish his first book, and for it to be garnering such great reviews.
Ashley’s novel explores new territory for me as a reader. Abomination delves into the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Melbourne through the lives of two friends – atheist and secular Ezra and rabbi Yonatan – who are reunited by the sexual abuse trial of a former teacher. Neither of the students were violated by this teacher, and along the book pivots around this case, it is really about the crises of identity that these two men are experiencing in different ways. The book explores identity, faith, family, love, belonging and what it means to be a good person. It’s such a thought-provoking and beautifully written book. I recommend you get yourself a copy!
During our chat Ashley revealed that he originally submitted his manuscript to the Penguin Literary Prize but it was not even longlisted. But guess who ended up publishing it? Penguin, of course, after his agent sent it through the usual channels. Publishing is full of weird stories like this – timing and luck is just as crucial as talent.
Last month I was also delighted to launch the beautiful new Harry Hartog store in Tuggeranong with crime author extraordinaire Chris Hammer and bookselling legends Robert and David Berkelouw. This bookshop is now my local – hurrah for that! A couple of weeks later, as part of their grand opening celebrations, I did a storytime event with my two latest picture books, Seree’s Story and Where the Heart Is. Meeting young readers has to be one of the best parts of this job, and I must give a special shout out to Yusuf from Bonython Primary who is on his way to becoming a published author.
A week later I passed the store and literally found my story. My novel, The Breaking, featured in a particularly gorgeous window display. Always a thrill! #findyourstory
Coming up I’ll be at the Canberra Writers Festival on 13 August. It’s great to be back out in the world talking books!