Sunday, December 9, 2012

Darn, it's December again

1. Months have passed with no blogging, but lots of day-job, writing gigs and general rushing about. It was with some surprise that I noted the arrival of December: it's been an awfully long time since I've had such a dramatic, intense year. I've learned how to shoot a gun and handle a python (thanks Tam and Kitty!); drank cocktails in Singapore (thanks SCBWI and ArtsWA!); managed difficulties of a magnitude I had not previously imagined; and seen new parts of this remarkable state. Writing? Not so much. Sometimes life demands what writing needs.

2. In other recent news, I've been learning to keep my balance ...

3. Had encounters with Hugh Jackman...
4. Been here ...
5. With these people ...
6. Tried to make the most of those champagne-and-caviar moments, when they happened ...
7. And in between times, I've been trying not to let the lizards and snakes in.
8. May your 2013 bring you peace, love and grooviness. And for you to keep zen if peace, love and grooviness are elusive, unpredictable, or intermittent.  Warmest wishes to you all.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Eight in October

1. October was the eighth month in the Roman calendar, which seems about right, as it does not seem possible that we're heading toward the round-up of 2012.  Mind you, so much has changed this year, for better and for worse, that it seems more like the work of eight years, not ten months.  So much crammed into a dizzyingly short time.

2. October is the month of this.

3.  I've been doing gigs all over the place recently, fitted around the day job: for Wanneroo and Cockburn libraries for Book Week, at Hampton High, St Mary's, Wesley (my first ever boy's school, incidentally).  I also had the delight of going to Melbourne for two days for the Melbourne Writers Festival, which was wonderfully captured here by the wonderful Danielle. I also got to meet with my fabulous publisher and Losing It editor at Penguin before I succumbed to a virus and became filled with mucus and self-pity.

4. I have half-moved house (I know, long story), and recently planted herbs in pots in my new place. It gives me great pleasure to gaze out on them morning and evening, to stir them into sauces, and watch the new growth push upward and outward.

5.  Last year, my birthday resolution was this.  This year, my intention is to become more Zen, in the sixties sense of the word.  Or, to put it another way, less this:

And more this:

I'll let you know how I go.

6. Even without a telly, I've been enjoying Rake, Scott and Bailey, Puberty Blues (what a script! what a brilliant set of performances!) and Call the Midwife, post series one and two of the highly addictive Game of Thrones.  I'm a bit less organised with my reading: if anyone's got a good book they reckon I should read, do let me know.  (Beside Dianne Touchell's Creepy and Maude, which I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this week.)

7.  Dog. Does. Not. Like. Dogwash.
8. I've properly started a new project, at long last. It features ABBA, the Olympics and Countdown. I'd forgotten how much effort, aside from creative effort, is necessary for historical fiction.  It's delightful to be at the plotting stage, where everything is possible, and hardly anything committed to paper.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Arise, August!

1.  So many people launched fabulous books in July.  I went to the launch of  Meg McKinlay and Kyle Odgers'  new book Ten Tiny Things, which I'd been tantalised by in Rottnest, and James Foley's In the Lion, which I'd been tantalised by in Singapore.  I adored them both.  I didn't end up at the launch of Jon Doust's To The Highlands, which I also can't wait to read and have heard some hysterically funny parts of, but I have every confidence it will live up to the anticipation it is generating.

2. Also, AJ Betts won the Text prize for Children and Young Adult Writing.  I've heard some of the early draft of this book, and I assure you, it is ten types of wonderful (and ten types of moving).  I don't know if it's our splendid isolation, but Western Australia is coming into its own this year.

3.  I am delighted to be going to the Melbourne Writers Festival.  I need Melbourne like oxygen, and its writers festival is full of ideas and perspectives that are good for the soul.  I also can't wait to appear with Vikki Wakefield, who I already feel kinship with.

4.  I am scribbling bits and pieces.  I have no expectations about what they will end up as, but the process is deeply pleasurable.

5.  Cheers!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

No More Beer and Skittles

Oh, I know, it's been ever such a long time.  But I've been busy.

Dianne Wolfer, Naomi Kojima, Yoko Yoshizawa, Leonard S. Marcus, me, James Foley and Norman Jorgensen at Ku  De Ta, Singapore

* At the end of May I was lucky enough to visit Singapore to present at the Asian Festival of Children's Content.  My first session was with the dynamic Cynthia Liu on realism and imagination; the other was with fellow Western Australians Dianne Wolfer and Norman Jorgensen on Light Touch, Gritty Themes.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect: given that most delegates were from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and China, as well as a few from the States, the UK and Canada, I wondered how we would communicate across cultures, with our vastly different assumptions about and experiences in the world.  It was therefore fascinating to see how love of reading and books united us.  The fact that most of us grew up on the same diet of English language books (Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, even the Little House series) provided a shared language; passion for getting kids reading did the rest.  

We often whinge in Australia about how hard it is to make space in the curriculum for reading and particularly reading for pleasure; compared to what some of our Asian colleagues are up against, in highly competitive cultures that put a high value academic, maths-based achievement at the expense of what we call humanities, we have nothing to complain of.  Despite their difficulties, I met scores of teachers and others determined to make space for literature in Asian schools.  I salute them.

Just out of interest, the gritty themes session - which I was the most concerned about re cultural divides - was standing room only: we had 120 people attend. I talked about Bye, Beautiful and Losing It: I did note the shock on some people's faces as I explained what Schoolies Week is.  That's one tradition I'm sure the audience was pleased not to share with us!
The only quokka-free zone on Rotto

* In June we had our annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators retreat at Rottnest.  I started playing with a couple of projects, including one with Patricia McMahon.  After feeling creatively exhausted for a while, in part as a result of Real Life events, it was deeply satisfying to be among my people, and to actually feel inspired, rather than tired.

* If you happen to be a young Queensland writer, you might want to enter this.  Good to see that state is still doing something to support writing, although it's still heinous that it cut out its Literary Awards.  I sincerely hope the government has a good re-think about that one.  

* I am doing dry July for the first time: my team is Drinks Paused for a Cause, and you are most welcome to donate.  So there'll be none of this:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Losing It unleashed

Having a book launch involves as much organisation, angst and 'why-am-I-doing-this-again?' fretting as your average wedding.  Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but really, a launch is not for the faint of heart. Once upon a time publishers used to organise launches: in these uncertain times, those days have gone the way of three-book contracts.  A launch is the author's business.

So the first thing I did when organising the launch of Losing It was to say, 'Help!'  

Help came in the form of the superlative Patricia McMahon, who did everything from script her four teenage co-launchers to coordinate the platters to supply her very own husband for security and clean-up duties.  

Help also came from the team of The Literature Centre, who provided the venue, books, glasses, moral support and wine-toting (thanks Mailee!).  The Literature Centre is second home to many of us writers, and first choice for book launches (of which mine was one of four for May: the author-organised nature of these things is clearly not putting many of us off!) 

I am waiting for some more photos of the four gorgeous girls who played my four characters: in the meantime,  see below.  And if you want to know why you should never have sex in a Yaris, watch this.

And if you want to know why I wrote Losing It, read this, which also features my daughter's first published photograph.  I'm not sure why it got a mention on the Australian Christian Lobby site, but hey, I hope all their readers buy a copy.  I'm sure they'll find it worthy of, er, discussion.

Lots of Losing Its.

Lesley Reece, still luminous from her BHP Billiton partnership launch that same morning.

Patricia McMahon: 'Take the shot, then put that camera down.'

My wonderful supporters #1.

My wonderful supporters #2.  There was a lot of love in the room that night, in both directions.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bye, Beautiful and places in the sun

Writing can seem like a lot of effort for little reward.  Your books (if you're lucky enough to get published in the first place) might be ignored, go out of print, drop off the radar (or never be picked up by the beacon in the first place), or date too quickly (I believe I mentioned a phone box in my first novel, just as one example).  Now there is a whole new level of uncertainty with the demise (they say) of the bookshop and the unknown quantity of the ebook.

I am therefore more than usually gratified that Bye, Beautiful, six years after its release, is still getting attention like this.

Also, I spoke at John Curtin College of the Arts last week, and was presented with a range of remarkable interpretations of Bye, Beautiful, like these:

In other news, I recently drove 2000kms with an old school friend to visit another old school friend on her mango farm.  It reminded me of how important high school is, despite its limitations or otherwise - and regular readers of this blog will know I haven't always been inclined to speak fondly of my alma mater - and particularly the importance of those formative friendships.

I also learned that I'm a pretty good shot with one of these:

And that fanging around on one of these in the dunes is about as much fun as there is:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

From the mouths of others

Today, this week, I have no words: ironic, perhaps, given that Losing It was officially released on Wednesday.  So instead I am gathering the words for you, that you might find a pattern you like among them.

1.  since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves;
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom ...
e e cummings

2.  I am over-run, jungled in my bed, I am infested with a menagerie of desires: my heart is eaten by a dove, a cat scrambles in the cave of my sex, hounds in my head obey a whipmaster who cries nothing but havoc as the hours test my endurance with an accumulation of tortures.  Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders?

How can I be kind?  How can I find bird-relief in the nest-building of day-to-day?  Necessity supplies no velvet wing with which to escape.
Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

3.  chaos, n: The wrongs are always more visible, the threats always closing in when in truth the world opens and opens and opens.
David Levithan, The Lover's Dictionary

4,  Neither she nor James had ever uttered the word 'love'.  Both were too shy.  Both were troubled by what might dissolve if they dared to name it.  Neither wished to alarm the other, or to reach and find their hands empty.
Gail Jones, Five Bells

5.  But no one succumbs to a temptation they find unattractive.  What is it, this compulsion to scrawl things on blank pages?  Why this boundless outflowing of words?  What drives us to it? Is writing some sort of disease, or - being speech in visual form - is it simply a manifestation of being human?
Margaret Atwood, Curious Pursuits

Saturday, February 4, 2012

S*x and speaking

1.  I am chairing two sessions at the Perth Writers Festival: one about the Mickelberg brothers with Tony Buti, and Tapping into the Zeitgeist, with David Levithan, James Roy, and Indian rock star writer Chetan Bhagat.  I scored the latter because the fabulous AJ Betts is engaged spreading her fabulousness in a workshop at that time.  I can't wait.  I'm also speaking at Spearwood Library for the National Year of Reading on Valentine's Day.

It's a good way to start the year.

2.  I have just sent off the final proof of Losing It, with not a moment to spare.  It's the cumulation of lots of discussions and deep thought about sex and sexuality, and I'm proud of it.  I'm not the only one thinking about sex, though.  Tracy Clark-Flory says here that 'Sex is one of the most profound ways that we have to connect with other human beings, to transcend our physical separation'; Faramerz Dabholwala gives us a history lesson in case we thought sex was invented in the sixties; and Michelle Griffin recommends here that teenagers read (not watch, read) porn and raunchy books.

Something tells me Michelle will approve of Losing It.

3.  For Perth people who might have missed this, it's true: I'm totally moving to Melbourne.