HELLO 2018

I'm having some trouble with my website here. A wonderful wonderful designer is doing things with it to make it better but I managed to muck it up a bit by fiddling. So bear with me/us as I/we get it how I want it.   But for now. A list: I am reading Bruce Pascoe's [...]

Plans for 2016

As I said before, this is my Year of Reading India. The rules are I don't buy any new local or overseas fiction, with the following exceptions: my friend's book, coming out this year some time books that fit into my written by an Indian author/set in India/about India books that are necessary for my reading [...]

Reading plans for 2016 – the Year of Reading India

While I was in Ubud recently, I decided that next year will be my Year of Reading India. I plan for 2016 to be the beginning of a new type of reading approach for me. Why India? Because I have a bunch of books written by Indian authors already, including a few of Salman Rushdie's [...]

2, 2 and 2 at Amanda Curtin’s blog

The lovely Amanda Curtin (who I met at the recent Ubud Writers Festival) asked me if I'd participate in a series she runs on her blog, looking up looking down. The idea is you write about 2 things that inspired your book, 2 places connected with the book (geographical or metaphysical) and 2 favourite 'anythings' somehow connected [...]

Back from my fishing trip aka The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2015

It was really good and while the added six days were kind of not good, they were also good. Good. Here are some photos from my launch, which was held at the divine Sri Ratih Cottages in Ubud, which was also where I stayed. It was really fun doing a launch with a different format. First, [...]

The Secret Son, review in The Australian newspaper

Was very happy to see this review of The Secret Son (alongside Leah Kaminsky's first novel The Waiting Room) in the paper over the weekend. An author dreams of reviews, and they don't always happen, small or big, positive or negative. They don't always happen quickly, and they don't always happen at all. With 400 new [...]

How good is this?

Am catching up with an old school friend on Monday (she lives in Sydney, me in Melbourne). She texted confirmation for our coffee and then included a link to an article in which she shared her response to my book with her readers. She also tweeted about it. She didn't have to do any of this, and [...]

Sunday reading catch up including PURITY by Jonathan Franzen

But first, looky here: This is what I saw in The Age Sunday Life magazine this morning. Nice! This is what I cooked last night. I don't think anyone can make a better spaghetti marinara than me. Romeo's in Toorak? I think not. TIAMO in Carlton? Pffft. * Yesterday I spent a lot of the day [...]

Chigozie Obioma and the case for ‘audacious prose’

This week, Chigozie Obioma's debut novel The Fishermen was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Obioma was already on my radar, first because I'd been hearing about the book, and then because I booked into a workshop he's running at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival next month. I booked into it so fast, it was like [...]

Happening

My book is in all good book shops. My book is quite comfortable, in a stack, as a pillow. My book is very beautiful and quite nice to read too. My book wants to be in your house, in your bookcase. My book has the most beautiful cover. Did I say that? My book is [...]

Wuthering Heights. It’s a love-hate thing.

Thursday was Emily Brontë's birthday and she would have turned 197. Her pièce de résistance Wuthering Heights was probably the first (and only?) piece of classic literature that I connected to with such visceral, anguished, teenagery love, and now regard with no less admiration, but it's tempered with a more mature writerly and readerly respect. As a teenager I wrong-loved [...]

What I’ve been reading, what I stopped reading, what I want to be reading

But first, congratulations to Sofie Laguna for her Miles Franklin win, for THE EYE OF THE SHEEP. You can read more about that here at Allen & Unwin's website. I found out that Sofie had no idea she was going to win, in fact had been told not to expect a win, so what a triumph, and [...]

Saturday links

Melbourne's evening skies at the moment are so gorgeous. I think that what are lot of us are doing with the internet, with twitter, blogs etc, is curating. We are collecting links to articles of interest, stories, pictures, as well as trying to collect people of like mind, making connections with people. It really is a [...]

Wednesday catch-up

Well, I can barely catch my own breath at the moment. It's all things proofing at my house, and looking at blurbs. My wonderful editor has sent me the proofed pages, and while they are quite 'clean' (dig the lingo, baby), I want to go through carefully. It's the last chance. My reading continues apace. That never [...]

FALLEN

Today's post is dedicated to the 22nd book I've read this year, Fallen, a memoir, by Rochelle Siemienowicz (HURRAH, that is the first time I've been able to spell Rochelle's surname, without looking. And funnily enough, my spell check has offered 'Microeconomics' instead.) I was always going to read this book, because: DISCLOSURE, I know Rochelle in [...]

Saturday catch up

It's been a while since I posted. I have just finished a full-on week of teaching, as well as getting my edited manuscript back to Allen & Unwin. Am tidying my work space and getting things under control after a three-week frenzy with lots of teaching and lots of editing. Celebrating tonight with some French bubbly, [...]

Well, hello 2015

It's a massive understatement to say I'm looking forward to 2015, but I am because: 1. Something is happening with my book and I'll be able share I hope soon. It's coming, I promise. I PROMISE. 2. but not too soonish because I'm going travelling in a couple of weeks, and it looks something like this: London, Budapest, [...]

Not a review: books of strange, new things

For my final book post for the year, I have chosen recent local fiction (plus one non-local interloper) to present. These are all VERY exciting novels, especially for this reader who usually sticks to The Real. Annabel Smith's THE ARK Paddy O'Reilly's THE WONDERS Jane Rawson's A WRONG TURN AT THE OFFICE OF UNMADE LISTS [...]

Not a review, on How to Be Both by Ali Smith

This year I've tested out a couple of book clubs, run by local bookshops. I have a fairly non-existent history with book groups. I went along once to a friend's meeting. I hadn't finished the book, and felt incredibly inarticulate. I don't know whether finishing the book would have made any difference, to be honest. One [...]

I do not pretend that I have led a blameless life

Ned Kelly It's always interested me that Ned Kelly was executed on this day, just an hour before the official time of remembrance for all those who died or suffered in war. As Remembrance Day marks the end of World War I (which came 38 years after Kelly was hung) it could be coincidence; it probably is. We have come to [...]

Interview with author Annabel Smith about her new book THE ARK (and some other stuff)

Let me tell you a bit about writer Annabel Smith. I first 'met' her on twitter, and then I met her for real earlier this year when I went to Perth for the writers festival. I think I went galloping down to her in one of the tiered venues, after she was on a panel, [...]

Salman ‘Let’s drop the Sir shit’ Rushdie, at MWF 2014 (28 August)

Rushdie, sans zoom   Almost done with my catch-up posts. I went to see Salman Rushdie speak at what I call Dallas Brooks Hall but which I think now has another name. I can't move with the times which is why it's always 'Spencer Street Station', 'Telstra Dome' and 'Kardinia Park'. I had a good [...]

‘Hemingway Keeper’ Michael Katakis talks to Laura Jean McKay

The Wheeler Centre has a fabulous program of events throughout the year, including the occasional 'lunch time treat' such as yesterday's chat with writer and photographer Michael Katakis, and author Laura Jean McKay. The name of the event was 'Hemingway's Keeper' and it caught my eye, bien sur. I have a love for Hemingway that [...]

Helen Garner’s opening at the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival

  I went along to the Melbourne Town Hall to see Helen Garner talking to Romana Koval. it was a buzzy night, lots of people, and I'd booked my ticket using the 'select seat yourself' button, instead of the 'best available.' This meant I got a ticket in the first row and as I walked [...]

MWF14 catch-up post MORNING READ W/ THUY ON, & Philip Hensher

Thuy On with novelist Mark Henshaw I first met Thuy when The Big Issue published my story 'Dead Man's Cake' last year. I perched awkwardly at the team's table in the Optic bar after the launch. To be fair, they called me over, and I was introduced to everyone else. Thuy said she really liked [...]

Melbourne Writers Festival 2014, let’s call it an Early Friday wrap, with lettuce

Well it's upon us, and has been for a week now. But it really cranks up for me tomorrow. Thus far the highlights have been Meg Wolitzer (last Saturday), Joan London (last night) and Salman Rushdie (tonight). I'm not going to be able to do what I did last year, which was post long recounts [...]

Qaisra Shahraz @ Readings Hawthorn PEN event

My friend Athi and I went along to see my twitter friend Qaisra earlier this month, to hear her speak about her work. Qaisra has been very warm and friendly on twitter, and when I read last year that she was Australia-bound for the Byron Bay Writers Festival, I thought I might make the trip [...]

The Writer as Editor, with Christina Thompson, Alice Pung & blow-in Gideon Haigh

Chris Wallace-Crabbe moderated this panel, and the first note I have written was something he said: Editing is almost everything. He introduced the panel, saying they'd asked Gideon along even though he wasn't on the program. Christina spoke for a while, giving her background. She worked for Peter Craven on Scripsi, the lit mag he [...]

Bits & pieces

READING At the moment I have a lot of books partially read, and plenty unread, but that doesn't stop me bringing more into the house. I bought Wild Things by Brigid Delaney earlier this week, one of those 'how has she done this?' purchases, as well as Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad [...]

Going Global, ASA Seminar held Wed 14 May, Melbourne

Anne Beilby, Rights Manager at Text Publishing.I went along to this not quite sure what it was about (my fault, no one else's.) But I knew two things:1. Anne Beilby from Text Publishing was the speaker and 2. she is a guru when it comes to all things to do with publishing rights.Actually I knew [...]

PWF catch-up: Saints & Sinners: Faith, Abuse & George Pell, with David Marr

Continuing my series of catch-up posts on the recent (and getting not-so-recent) Perth Writers Festival in March, this session was pretty amazing and anyone who's seen David Marr in full swing will know what I mean. Although I did once meet a man in a second-hand bookshop in Euroa who said he didn't like Marr. [...]

PWF14 catch-up post, Intelligent Design with Margaret Drabble, Eleanor Catton and Jeet Thayil

INSERT NOTE HERE: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENT SECTION NOW, ABOUT THE LUMINARIES. JUST SAYING.   The first note I have written here is: 'Margaret Drabble's pearls.' They were beautiful. I'm noticing pearls, and wearing them a bit more this year. A writerly friend and I have decided 2014 is 'the year of the [...]

PWF14 catch-up: Intelligent Design with Eleanor Catton, Margaret Drabble and Jeet Thayil

The first note I have written here is: 'Margaret Drabble's pearls.' They were beautiful. I'm noticing pearls, and wearing them a bit more this year. A writerly friend and I have decided 2014 is 'the year of the pearls.' We are trying to bring them back, and it was good to see Drabble is on [...]

PWF14 catch-up: Fallen Women with Hannah Kent, Evie Wyld & Annabel Smith

What a line-up! This session started with Annabel-tech-guru-Smith encouraging the audience to live tweet, and gives us the panel members twitter handles. (@HannahFKent and @eviewyld if you're interested. Annabel's is @AnnabelSmithAUS.) Hannah spoke first about Agnes, the protagonist in her dark, evocative Burial Rites. Hannah said she wrestled with the idea of whether Agnes was [...]

PWF2014 catch-up: The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton speaks with Susan Wyndham

On the Saturday (22 Feb) I went to listen to Eleanor Catton talk with Susan Wyndham about The Luminaries. I think this was the day I wore my new navy skirt I had bought in the op-shop at Freo the day before, when we went to find the Eyrie building. This is a skirt which [...]

Monuments to Love, PWF session w/ Andrea Goldsmith & Aviva Tuffield

Novelist Andrea Goldsmith spoke with publisher and editor Aviva Tuffield (Affirm Press.) First up, Andrea gave a great explanation of her recent novel The Memory Trap. She introduced the characters and told the audience something about them. Andrea is a skilled presenter, no, really, she goes beyond skill into gift territory. She clearly enjoys it [...]

PWF Day 1, Publishers Seminar, Session 5. THE PITCH.

What we've all been waiting for, and on the day, the Pitch session was mentioned throughout, with info about how it would work. This is how it worked:People were invited to put their names into a box and we were told they'd be pulled at random, and possibly up to ten or so would be [...]

PWF Day 1, Sessions 3 & 4

SESSION 3, THE COMPETITIVE EDGEThis was a session with a panel as follows: Rose Michael, commissioning editor at Hardie-Grant; Robert Watkins, commissioning editor at Hachette Australia; Penny Hueston, senior editor at Text Publishing and Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg and Hachette/QWC Manuscript Development Program alumna.)The questions to spark this session's conversations were: What are today’s [...]

PWF catch-up, Day 1, Session 2, LOST in the AMAZON

This was the blurb for this session: Given the range of print and digital publication options available today, which is the best medium for your book? With Aviva Tuffield (publisher, Affirm Press), Michael Heyward (publisher, Text Publishing), Chris Allen (author, Momentum Books) and Terri-ann White (director, UWA Publishing). My notes: Terri-ann started by saying that 'we need more readers.' She asked for a [...]

PWF14 – Publishing Seminar Day 1, Session 1 (Thurs 20 Feb)

This was a great day. I've been to 'meet the publisher/editor/agent' before but this all-in-one session, featuring the DELIGHTFUL and COHESIVE and FUN team at Fremantle Press, was a joy to watch and listen to. MEET THE PRESS 'Narrated' by author Deb Fitzpatrick, we ran through the stages of publication, from manuscript submission to sales [...]

Not a review – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

I've been avoiding The Luminaries (I will get back to it, I will) by re-reading The Little Friend, and then I found myself avoiding that by reading The Virgin Suicides, which is an attractive slender thing, something tasty and distracting, but all too quickly over. Oh, how beautifully it's done. It's a book about death [...]

Och aye

So next is Perth Writers Festival. I've booked into lots of sessions. This is some of what I'm excited about: Lionel Shriver on literature and religion Martin Amis in conversation Richard Flanagan on love stories An all-day publishing thing on the novel, with a series of sessions. Can't wait for that one, including watching people [...]

Back into it

Am back from the beach and into the writing. Have a bit of urgency about it and today was stressful. I hate Word. I don't know how to drive it properly, with formatting and the editing feature, and I don't have time to work it out so I have to do it in a really [...]

2014

I've got a problem. You're going to think I'm crazy but let me explain. My agent has read and loved my second novel manuscript. This is great, really good. I'm waiting for her editorial notes and I'll do another revision and then she'll send it to the publishers, the same ones who saw the first [...]

Messages from 2004 – no one is taking a punt any more

I have several large ring binder folders that are stuffed with clipped newspaper articles, book reviews, my handwritten notes from courses and other printed material, mainly pieces on writing that I've found online. Sometimes when my mind is too buzzy to settle on fiction when I'm in bed at night, before sleeping, I pull out [...]

Tracing influence

It's almost the end of the year but I've still got stuff to do. Teaching finishes this week — my final session is Thursday. But there's writing, always writing. I'm not complaining. It is the thing I most love to do and I feel really lucky to be able to do it, not just as [...]

Monday musings

Here are some things I've come across in my internet wanderings this morning: 1. A wonderful piece on Hilary Mantel. It's from last year but it gives you a lot of info about her as a person and a writer. Lots of bits in it resonate for me, but when she's talking about taking a [...]

During the whilst

Over the next few days I'm really busy but was conscious I hadn't posted here for a week. So in the meantime, until I can get something else up, here are some snippets to keep you going. 1. I've just been browsing through Virginia Lloyd's website. Again. Yeah yeah, I know she's my agent but [...]

Ian McEwan: On making love work in fiction

If you watch one thing today, let it be this: On making love work in fiction Some quotations: novelists struggle constantly with trying to portray the concept of sustained happiness. There's always the danger that it will seem sentimental, or smug. Unreal. And I think only Tolstoy has truly achieved this "Anyway, literature loves difficulty, [...]

Anna Funder – The Dymphna Clark Lecture, University of Melbourne. Last night.

Last night I went to see Anna Funder talk and her topic was "Reading My Mind - and Yours. A celebration of the act of the human imagination that is writing, and the act of the human imagination that is reading." She was softly spoken and utterly gorgeous. As my thick curly-headed friend and I [...]

Words

Missing Persons WORDS. I want to talk about words. There are good ones (the solid old Anglo-Saxon ones, often single syllable, and very concrete, like rock, earth, tree, stone, bread, love, sky) and the 'bad ones',which for me are usually poly-syllabic, newer, or Latinate. Cerebral. Adverbial. Hemingway knew the worth of single words. His style [...]

A good week

Last week was a good one. On Tuesday I heard that a piece I submitted to Kill Your Darlings journal had been accepted. It's about a trip to Lake Eyre I made in 1989, and it's also about the sour-end of a one-way crush, flowing in the direction of me to him. Oh, unrequited crushing. [...]

First anniversary of this blog, and an interview with Iowa Writers’ Workshop teacher Marilynne Robinson

Well, apparently it's the first birthday of this blog. How nice. Some stats: Today, 16 views so far from 16 visitors. USA - 8 UK - 8 One each from Qatar, Germany, Italy, Austria and Netherlands. Total 63 followers, total 187 comments. Total of 3,936 views, best ever single day was 69 views (I think [...]

Colm Tóibín workshop – Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

UPDATE: It was announced yesterday that Tóibín's The Testament of Mary has been shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize. I haven't read it but it's 'on the list.'*It's a writing day today. I'm lucky to have taught my last session for term last Wednesday and so have been burrowing into my manuscript, wrangling with [...]

Workshop with MJ Hyland at the Melbourne Writers Festival

MJ Hyland has written three novels and I enjoyed all of them, particularly the second (Carry Me Down) and third (This is How). Her stripped-back prose and clever, clever management of points of view I find exciting. In an earlier writing course I did, in 2009, in between meetings every two months we read books [...]