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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

While I’m cogitating on the next ‘How-to’ book review post…

I wanted to quickly list the books that I have on my shelves that I have found (variously) helpful in improving my writing skills but thought I'd also write a bit about my beliefs for revising work. Editing Knowing and clearly understanding what the different types of revision are is a first step and this [...]