Monthly Archives: August 2015

Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue 4

Just out, the new issue of of Review of Australian Fiction, no. 4 in the special volume edited by Laurie Steed, featuring writers from Western Australia.

The first of this issue’s two stories is by dual Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott, author of novels That Deadman Dance, Benang and True Country, and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project. Kim is paired with emerging writer Liz Hayden, currently a PhD creative writing candidate, whose work investigates the life of a Nyoongar woman’s experience living and growing up in a rural town in Western Australia

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Kim Scott’s story, entitled ‘Departure’, introduces a vulnerable teenage girl, Tilly, on her way home from private boarding school to the southern camp that is her home:

Central Bus Station was built upon the principle of a large shed and, except for the large windows on one wall, barely disguised as such. Inside, a vast grey plain of concrete was enlivened not only by the dancing dust motes and large, sparkling rectangles of sunlight on the floor, but also by firmly anchored patterns of bright plastic chairs. A schoolgirl entered the building and, veering widely around the chairs, paused at a vending machine. The machine accepted her money, gave nothing in return.
The woman behind a pane of glass marked Enquiries looked away. She touched her stiff hair, pursed her bright lips and tapped the keyboard before her. The skin at her cheekbones seemed to be flaking away.

Liz Hayden’s ‘Our Warrior, Our Brother’ shows the tragedy of one young man’s death rippling through a family and a community:

Rich is a quiet family man, a country boy who spent most of his life in the country. Going to school, playing with family and friends, growing up, having girlfriends, falling in love with Flo (who he later married) made up the fabric of Richard’s life.
He was a hardworking man, taking on his first job as a thirteen-year-old, helping his dad and brother Olman in the shearing shed. Shearing was a way of life for the family and when shearing season came round, they would follow the contracted shearing sheds from local farmers. On marrying his sweetheart Flo, children came into their lives. Two girls were born to Rich and Flo, and a boy by Traditional Nyoongar Adoption, ie, placing of a baby boy into the arms of a chosen family. In this case, our first cousin placed little Brad into the arms of Rich and his wife, giving up her rights as a mother.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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3, 3 and 3: Tony Durant, musician

542235_690145301014683_97668222_nIt’s been a while since I’ve posted in the 3, 3 and 3 series, which features creative people talking about the things they love. I’m delighted to break that drought by introducing Tony Durant, who I first met in the late 1970s when he came to Perth from the UK to produce an album for ‘suburban boy’ rocker Dave Warner—and ended up staying. Ric, my husband, recorded and mixed that album, Correct Weight, and we have been friends with Tony and his wife, Pauline, ever since.

Tony had a fascinating career in London before arriving in Australia. He describes how he abandoned the expectations that his upper middle-class family had for their privately educated boy, and instead plunged into the psychedelic London music scene of the late 1960s. His art psych bank Louise played alongside Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. ‘They went on to greatness. We missed it by that much, as Max Smart would say!’

1. Tony. Psychedelia verite 1968 !

In the early 1970s he recorded an album, Fuchsia (Pegasus/B&C Records), which he describes as ‘a weird art rock thing with string quartet’. At the time, he says, ‘it did nothing’.

Fuchsia face orig. Album cover

After a decade or so of making music in Perth and touring with Dave Warner, Tony moved to Sydney with his family in 1990, drawn there by a publishing deal with Polygram. He spent a number of years as a hands-on parent—something he describes as a ‘great privilege’—and made documentaries about vintage speedway motorcycle racing and the legends of the 1930s who had raced alongside his father, a top West Ham rider.

And it’s around this point in Tony’s career that we have to backtrack to that 1970s album, Fuchsia. It’s a story best told in his own words:

Life can present some surprises. About 10 years ago, Fuchsia became a cult album on the net, totally unknown to me. Mojo magazine ran a story, and an Italian label contacted me about a re-issue. A Melbourne film company did a short doco on the story. I tried writing in the same vein, and soon a new album was written, which received great reviews. A young Swedish band, Me and My Kites (a song title from Fuchsia I), contacted me. They’d grown up on Fuchsia music and had recorded one of my old songs. They asked me to sing on it, released it through a European label, and last July I toured UK, Holland and Scandinavia with them. Between gigs with the Australian Fuchsia band, I went back to Europe in July this year, having been invited to play at a couple of festivals in Denmark and Sweden. And I continue to work regularly with Dave Warner from the Suburbs. Life just could not be better!

Fuchsia II: From Psychedelia to a Distant Place (2013)

Fuchsia II: From Psychedelia to a Distant Place (2013)

And now, over to Tony again for his 3, 3 and 3 responses…

3 things I love about what I do

1. The satisfaction of taking a blank sheet of paper and creating something you, and hopefully others, see artistic value in. Fascination with the creative process, in both personal and universal terms, and in my case, with ideas which appear meaningless, coming from the subconscious, and are then forged into some meaning through the conscious thought process. Meaningless lyrics slowly metamorphosing into a song with purpose. And it’s interesting, going back on half-finished works from years ago, and finding all those years of experience have given you skills you never realised you had, to complete these abandoned works, sometimes with surprisingly good results.

2. Meeting and working with wonderful people who become part of your music world. As we grow older we have less baggage, less to prove, and music takes on a really fun aspect, as well as a quality to it (I like to think!). I get contacted by people from all over the world, telling me how much those idiosyncratic little songs I wrote all those years ago mean to them. Some of these people I have a drink with when they visit Sydney.

3. I love that unexpected things/coincidences continually happen. The unexpected seems to follow me. Finding myself in positions that scare me; challenges and situations that a few years back I would not believe I could have attempted. On stage, talking to an audience and leading a band again. I could never have imagined this would happen.

3 places you’d like to visit, or revisit

I have many beautiful memories of places such as Greece, Bali and South Africa, where I grew up. But I feel it’s probably best not to return, as many times places you love change for the worse, and those beautiful memories are jaded.

1. I loved the USA, which I visited for the first time about five ago. We had an amazing road trip: LA to Austin (Texas) to New Orleans and back. The history that I had read so much about came to life. There is so much there to see, and so yes, several return visits could be on the cards.

At the Grand Canyon with ‘the girls’

At the Grand Canyon with ‘the girls’

2. And of course Sweden, where a group of young people have made me feel so welcome, and have been instrumental (excuse the pun!) in the continuation of the amazing Fuchsia journey. Louis, my son, joined me on bass this trip, which has been a beautiful experience I will always treasure. Fano Island Festival, Denmark, was special, as I met and played with local musicians there for the first time.

Fano Island Festival, Denmark, 2015

Fano Island Festival, Denmark, 2015

3. We plan to visit Cuba and Alaska, which I’ve heard a lot about.

3 favourite things in life

1. Top of the list is family. My wife is a very special person, and I’ve loved being part of the process of our children’s growing up to be such different and loving individuals. And, with them, their cohort of friends has kept me in touch with my youth, an experience where I feel I can re-live every precious minute. We only grow old on the outside! Yes, to me, family is the basis of everything.

2. Playing songs I wrote and arranged 40 years ago—and that still work.

3. Coming home with full anticipation to see what Pompey the dog has destroyed in our absence this time!

 

More at the Fuchsia website and Facebook page

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Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue 3

Here’s issue 3 of the special volume of Review of Australian Fiction, edited by Laurie Steed, that features writers from Western Australia. This issue presents a story by one of Western Australia’s most celebrated novelists, Brenda Walker, paired with emerging writer Maria Papas—and two fascinating, and unsettling, stories they are.

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Brenda Walker’s story, ‘Mouse’, begins with a singular voice that leads us into a small hell:

Inside the building next to the car park there is a flight of stairs that leads to the floor where the mice live. If you want to work with mice you must put on special clothing, heavy white plastic boots, gloves and a mask. You must walk through a sequence of doors, you must not carry bacteria from the outside world with you. This is to protect the mice from contamination. The mice live in translucent boxes. Their eyes are pink bubbles in their short fur.

Maria Papas’s story, ‘Fish’, is characterised with a voice with an almost choral quality. Here is the first, portentous paragraph:

She was interstate when she heard about the dead fish. She was interstate and in her hotel room after a long and inhospitable day when her sister called to say that the twins’ father had brought a dead fish into the house.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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An invitation to writers…

As many of you will already know, UWA Publishing recently announced the establishment of the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The award, supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and 720 ABC Perth, offers a cash prize of $10,000 and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing. It’s open to established and emerging writers whose manuscript has a connection to Western Australia (landscape, people, history, residence/birth of the author). Submissions are open now and close on 4 September 2015.

To celebrate the inauguration of the award, UWA Publishing and 720 ABC Perth are hosting a Writers Forum on 13 August, 5.45 for a 6pm start, at the ABC Studios at 30 Fielder Street, East Perth. The forum will give writers the opportunity to gain greater insight into literary awards, the publishing process, and the Western Australian writing scene in general. Bookings are essential.

The panel will consist of Afternoons presenter Gillian O’Shaughnessy, UWA Publishing Director Terri-ann White, and me.

UWA Publishing will be live tweeting from the event, so if you’re not based in WA or can’t attend, tweet them in advance with any questions you’d like to ask—make sure you use the tag @uwapublishing.

This new award honours the life and spectacular career of the late Dorothy Hewett, one of Western Australia’s most prolific writers and best-known radical thinkers. To quote from UWA Publishing’s website:

Hewett (1923–2002) is considered one of Australia’s leading writers whose work captures and disrupts ideas of normalcy in twentieth-century Australian culture. As a staunch feminist and, for a long time, communist, Hewett gave voice to the marginalised. In 1986 Dorothy Hewett was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to literature. It is important to note that Hewett won the Western Australian Premier’s Poetry Award in 1994 and 1995 for her collections Peninsula and Collected Poems: 1940–1995.

I hope to see you there!

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An August photo-reminder…

to look down, where the small worlds are…

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2, 2 and 2: Rebecca Lim talks about Afterlight

9781922182005Anyone who read the last issue of my newsletter will know that I loved Rebecca Lim’s YA novel The Astrologer’s Daughter (Text Publishing, 2014) and its fearless protagonist Avicenna Crowe. So I was delighted to find that Rebecca has recently released a new novel, Afterlight—and even more so when she agreed to answer some 2, 2 and 2 questions.

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Rebecca has been prolific since leaving her former profession as a commercial lawyer to write full time. She is the author of sixteen books for children and young adult readers, including the acclaimed Mercy series. Her work has been longlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award, the Gold Inky Award and the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers, and she has been an Aurealis Awards and Davitt Awards finalist. Her novels have been translated into German, French, Turkish, Portuguese and Polish.

Rebecca was born in Singapore and is now based in Melbourne.

Here is the blurb for Afterlight:

Since her parents died in a freak motorbike accident, Sophie Teague’s life has fallen apart.

But she’s just enrolled at a new high school, hoping for a fresh start.

That’s until Eve, a beautiful ghost in black, starts making terrifying nightly appearances, wanting Sophie to be her hands, eyes and go-to girl.

There are loose ends that Eve needs Sophie to tie up. But dealing with the dead might just involve the greatest sacrifice of all.

Dark, thrilling and unrelentingly eerie, Afterlight will take you deep into the heart of a dangerous love story, revealing the otherworldly—and deadly—pull of past wrongs that only the living can put right.

Over now to Rebecca…

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2 things that inspired the book

I write these slightly freaky books for children and young adults that feature empowered female characters living in a fictional world that—as much as possible—resembles the real world I live in and not the one depicted in, say, Neighbours. So if you pick up one of my stories—no matter if you’re a three-year-old or an eighteen-year-old—you’ll be met with young women from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds finding reserves of strength, ferocity, tenacity and adaptability in the face of great adversity. I’m not interested in presenting the lives of pretty people facing mildly perplexing personal conundrums, because I don’t know anyone like that. So as a starting point, the ‘real’ world will always inspire any fiction I create and you’ll find my characters will reflect you, me and the woman standing next to you at the bus stop. My fictional universe includes Chinese and Colombian kids, people who speak Italian, Spanish or Russian, homeless teens living in their cars and people who have to work as strippers, waitresses or clairvoyants, just to survive. Archangels, demons and Norman knights also exist in my universe because, damn it, they can. I always proceed on the basis that anything is possible.

We live in a dark and deeply complex world. The news is a potent trigger for a lot of my work. A few of my novels are fictional responses to some terrible abduction, cold case and imprisonment stories that were emerging around the time I was writing the books. The things people do to each other in real life are staggering, and I write to try and make sense of questions like: Why do bad things happen to good people? What happens to human energy, human consciousness, after death? Are we ruled by fate or by our own free will? How does one bad past act reverberate into the future?

Afterlight had its genesis in a terrible shooting that occurred early one weekday in the Melbourne CBD a few years ago. A bikie and a tabletop dancer were involved. Innocent people on their way to work, or just going about their business, were critically injured or killed. My outrage about violence against women is an underlying theme in most of my books for young adults.

2 places connected with the book

I live in Melbourne and have lived all over it geographically since we moved here from country Queensland when I was a pre-schooler. I’ve set my books in places like Paris and Milan, Macchu Picchu and small town USA, but nothing gives me more of a thrill than having my characters literally running for their lives through places I’ve known and loved for years.

My last book, The Astrologer’s Daughter, was set in and around Chinatown and North Melbourne. The action in Afterlight takes in the famous Greek Quarter in the CBD, but I also have Sophie ‘Storkie’ Teague (my main character) living in a rundown pub in North Fitzroy and running errands out to far flung Melbourne bayside and northern suburbs, at the behest of an insistent dead woman. The walking trail that runs alongside Merri Creek is pivotal to the last stages of the book.

2 favourite things

At heart, I’m a massive introvert, and sometimes going out into the world, or seeing what we as a species do to each other and our environment, can be a little disheartening or depleting.

Early music—particularly choral music by Palestrina, Allegri, Taverner and Monteverdi, and any recording, really, by Jordi Savall or Hespèrion XX—will have a quietening/recharging effect. I managed to sneak a choir or two and a few choral and classical music references into my series for young adults that began with Mercy (2010, featuring a fallen amnesiac archangel), which I was secretly chuffed about. Nobody else enjoyed those bits as much as me, possibly (!), but then again no one has probably ever quoted lyrics from Lakmé by Léo Delibes in a YA novel, so there you go.

The other thing I can’t do without is reading. I read all over the shop—YA, picture books, historical fiction, literary fiction, thrillers, mysteries, true crime, science, you name it—and I like to write across the spectrum, too. Why just write a contemporary YA novel when it can also be a mystery/thriller/paranormal book with touches of romance in it?

Afterlight is in bookshops now
Find out more at Text Publishing

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