June 1, 2011
May Gibbs Fellowship 1st June
In the last week of my fellowship, I had an issue with the blogger template which would not allow me to log on. I decided to stop playing with technology and concentrate on the writing. Good plan. When I logged on tonight, it was working again – oh bliss. My last ten days was crammed full of things I had to do, things I wanted to do, and things that surprised me.
My biggest surprise was that the Year 9 group of boys at Prince Alfred College that I presented to in Norwood were great. I decided to talk about Six and was ready for a range of reactions — these were Year 9 boys — but the boys were incredibly polite and if they were bored they hid it very well. Alle was my minder for the session and she gave me a lively intro, and then the boys asked some interesting questions at the end, so all in all, a fun session.
I met up with Katrina Germain, author of My Dad Thinks He’s Funny — if you haven’t seen this book yet, grab it, it’s loads of fun — and we had some quality author chat time, which was great after a long time of just knowing each other via email.
The last day I spent at Immanuel College in Novar Gardens and gave a presentation on writing non-fiction (using my Burke & Wills book from the Our Stories series from black dog books) with the Year 6 kids, who were again great fun and had loads of questions, the best one being, ‘So, how big is your laptop?’ Special mention to Oscar — sorry I missed out on reading to your class, buddy. Definitely next time.
Had a lovely dinner with the May Gibbs crew on my last night in Norwood. I could have spent hours more hanging out with them and chatting about the industry. Lovely to meet Nan Halliday finally and to get a chance to really talk to Janeen Brian— author of the fabulous award-winning Hoosh — who I had met online only in my previous life as an editor.
I finally took a photo of the Lord of the Rings art installation near the Burrow — a set of gigantic rings which lit up at night in different colours and helped me find my way home every day. The toll of the chimes rang out into the Norwood darkness with a satisfying dong, dong, dong (x 12) and heralded midnight one last time for me as I packed up my little house and turned it back into The Burrow. Then I got up early on my last day and wrote my minimum number of words required for the day, before closing the door one last time.
If you have the chance to apply for this Fellowship, I would urge you to do it. It is available to published authors. Hop on the May Gibbs Website and check it out. To sum it up, I have always fitted my writing in around my life. For the past month, I have fitted my life in around my writing. What an amazing experience.
December 6, 2010
The lovely people at Walker in the US have sent me the paperback version of Chasing Boys.
The parcel arrived at my front door with a nice fat thump.
I couldn’t answer the nice polite delivery man knock on the front door
as I realised I had turned into working from home person
who hadn’t even bothered to do her hair.
When I say do, I don’t necessarily mean brush
but at least rearrange out of bed hair do.
The front cover remains the same but the back cover is different from the original hard-back version — a lot lighter and includes a couple of review quotes.
Although I’ve had a few more babies since Chasing Boys
(Hostage, Burke & Wills and Six)
it’s always nice when the kids drop home and say hello.
June 15, 2010
I can empathise with the plight of Burke and Wills who strode off into the unmapped Australian interior never to return. I felt the same way the day I was awarded my driver’s licence (what were they thinking?) and let loose on the roads.
As a teen I was a a dreamer (I’m sorry, has something changed?) and never took notice of my journeys to and from, as the driver took care of that and it gave me a chance to read or just daydream to the sound of the radio.
When I did get my licence (finally, at the age of 19, because really what did I need one for, I had a boyfriend with a car, I know, am a feminist at heart, but it really was too much bother), one of my first journeys without a navigator was a quick dash across town to visit my Nan who had had a stroke. (She later went on to make a full recovery and go back to work, retiring ungracefully at the age of 74.) My co-pilot was my 15year old sister. We got there and back, but not without some anxious moments.
I would like to say my Melways became my greatest friend, but we had our moments. (Why is it legal to have more than one street with the same name?) The Sat Nav seemed to me an answer to my prayers, and it’s true we have had some wonderful moments together. (Although she does not have a sense of humour, especially when I hop on Eastlink which she hasn’t been updated for.) However, there have been times when we have argued. (At the next roundabout, take the second exit.) The other day in the city, she was so confused I turned her off so I could have some head space. (You have reached your destination. Umm, this is a carpark. You have reached your destination. Shut up!)
So the story of how Wills navigated his way from one end of Australia to the other — without a map or a Sat Nav — is extremely impressive and humbling to me. It’s a fascinating story of pride, stubbornness, vanity, ambition, integrity and adventure which has seared itself into the pages of the short history of white Australia.
As someone famous once said ‘It’s the journey, not the destination’ that counts.
Burke and Wills
Expedition Off the Map
Released June 2010, published by black dog books