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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.

The story behind the story

13 June 2013

Riding the publicity trail for a book can be surreal and lovely or exhausting and tedious. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once. It’s a strange experience to talk endlessly about the story behind your book, but fascinating to hear readers’ perceptions of the work. Many reviewers, for instance, have noted that Megumi and the Bear is about never giving up hope. They’re absolutely right, and yet this wasn’t consciously in my mind as I wrote it.

I’ve also realised that in recounting Megumi’s origins I’ve inadvertently given some readers a false impression. I’ve been talking about how this picture book is unusual because the illustrations came first. Craig Phillips emailed me a handful of drawings of a little girl and a bear playing in the snow, inspired by a trip to Japan, and I was in turn inspired to write the story that became Megumi and the Bear. However, it wasn’t until Alex Sloan interviewed me on ABC that I realised people have assumed that the story was all mapped out in pictures and I simply added the words. Not so. The illustrations were only the starting point, or the spring board, for the story. None of those original illustrations are in the finished book, though a couple of pages are variations on them. (Here’s an original so you can see why I fell madly in love with these two. Though you’ll notice how different the bear looks.)

Now what should we do

Sometimes in the publicity whirlwind it’s easy to lose the sheer pleasure of finally seeing your precious book getting out and about. As Craig Phillips wrote to me: ‘We should just be enjoying the fact that we have a book out. How many people have their own children’s book out on the stands?? Not many!’ A very good reminder.

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Come Saturday I intend to enjoy every second of our launch party at Paperchain. There’s nothing like a room full of kids to unleash joy and excitement. Bring it on!

(And if you missed my chat with Alex you can listen in below. It was possibly the most fun I’ve had on air.)