Category Archives: The next wave

The next wave updated (part 3): Amanda Gardiner, Louise Allan and Kim Coull

This is the last of three posts featuring the group of Western Australian women writers who were my guests two years ago under the banner ‘The Next Wave’. It’s been a great pleasure to watch their development as writers since then, and to know them individually as the lovely women they are.

Here are Amanda Gardiner, Louise Allan and Kim Coull reviewing what these last two years have brought to their creative lives.

You can also read about Emily Paull and Michelle Michau-Crawford here; and Karen Overman and Rashida Murphy here.

Amanda Gardiner

dsc_0571

Photograph by Sarah Mills

There have been a lot of changes in my life since I was featured as one of Amanda’s WA women writers to watch out for.

In 2015 I began work as a post-doctoral research fellow at the South West campus of Edith Cowan University. I love my job and it has given me the opportunity to pursue ideas that had been bubbling away in my imagination for years.

The work I am most proud of is an interdisciplinary research project called The Spaces Between Us that is based on my doctoral research into women who committed child murder in colonial Western Australia. As part of the project I invited six artists (including a composer) to engage with the 55 cases I had uncovered.

One of the results of the project is an exhibition that is being held at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery throughout December 2016 and January 2017.

It is hard to do the type of work that I do. There is a lot of pain, and suffering and death. There is a lot of injustice and shame. It is a heavy weight to bear. So it is important to me to share what I do in ways that embody empathy, respect and compassion. Ways that invite questioning and a deep and nuanced understanding of context—of why people behave in the ways that they do.

And this is the intent of The Spaces Between Us, and the idea behind working with this group of artists.

spaces-between-us-catalogue-front-page

For me, the resultant work has beome a form of bearing witness. Of not turning away. The exhibition allows us all to carry and hold the mothers and babies; to let them know they have not been forgotten and that we seek to find and evoke wisdom, compassion and social change through their trauma and suffering.

This past year working on the project has been a rewarding experience for me, and I have learned a lot from this talented group of people.

dsc_0613

Serving It Up by Sarah Mills. Mixed media installation, 100 x 100 cm

birds-eye-view-of-tea-set

Bird’s-eye view of the above

You can listen to me talking about the project on the ABC’s Books and Arts program.

Another achievement I am proud of is being a member of Westerly’s 2016 Writers’ Development Program. One of the most exciting things about being part of the program is that Susan Midalia is my writing mentor. I have had a literary crush on Susan for many years, and working with her on my Westerly piece has been such a rewarding experience—she always asks just the right questions.

Also:

I was the winner of the 2014 Magdalena Prize for Feminist Research.

In 2015 I received the second place award in the National 5RP (5 minute research pitch) Competition for my presentation ‘Sex, death and desperation: Infanticide in colonial Western Australia (1829–1901).’ You can watch it here.

I was also featured on Radio National’s The Science Show. You can listen here.

My PhD thesis was shortlisted for the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) PhD Award in 2016.

And in 2016 I was Highly Commended in Shorelines (Bunbury’s writing for performance festival).

The cover of the catalogue for The Spaces Between Us features Helen Seiver’s adding absence. Photo by Lloyd-Smith Photographics
Watch a documentary on The Spaces Between Us (by Peacock Visuals) here

Louise Allan

DSC_7041 - Version 2

Well, much has happened since the first series of ‘Next Wave’ blog posts two years ago.

Since then, the biggest development has been that Allen & Unwin will publish my novel in September 2017. I still have to pinch myself every day—I can’t imagine seeing my book on a shelf in a store, or in someone’s hands.

Going back to December 2014, and the news that my novel had been shortlisted for the 2014 City of Fremantle TAG Hungerford Award: it didn’t win, and although I was disappointed, it didn’t hurt as much or for as long as I thought it would. I took a lot of encouragement from the shortlisting—it meant that a group of independent and experienced authors had read my manuscript and decided it had merit. It meant I was on the right track.

I’m also quite philosophical about these things—I’ve had my share of disappointments, and I know that things happen when the time and place are right. So I told myself something even better was waiting in the wings.

After speaking with author and writing teacher Natasha Lester, I decided to seek an agent before looking for a publisher. I sent my manuscript to Lyn Tranter at Australian Literary Management, and a few weeks later, Lyn telephoned. She had a lot to say, most of it negative. My book needed a lot of work, not just a few tweaks here and there, but a major rewrite.

I was up for it. I stripped my book right back—if it were a tree, I’d say I took to it with a chainsaw, cutting not just the leaves and twigs, but the hefty branches, too, until all that remained was the trunk. Many paragraphs and even whole chapters were assigned to the trash and will never be seen on a page again. Indeed, the excerpt that I included in the December 2014 post here no longer lives! Then I added scenes back in, one by one. Some of them are nearly the same, with an added line or two that changes the emphasis, but many are totally new. I also rewrote the ending, and right up until the last few pages I had no idea how it would turn out. Hopefully, it will be a surprise for readers, too!

I believe my story is much better, much truer to my themes. There were parts of previous versions that even I didn’t like, but I didn’t know how to fix them. I needed someone with experienced eyes to tell me, and I’ll be forever grateful for Lyn’s feedback. I can’t overstate how helpful feedback from the right person is, and how important it is to heed that advice, especially for someone like me, a first-time novelist without a creative writing degree who was learning on the job.

Lyn accepted my rewritten novel and the first publisher she sent it to, Annette Barlow at Allen & Unwin, accepted it. I’m now waiting for the structural edits—I have no idea how extensive they’ll be or how long they’ll take, but, once again, I’m up for it.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to write Novel #2. My first few attempts were in third-person point of view, but they were abysmal. So I returned to my tried and true first person POV, and the words are flowing. It seems I write best when wearing the shoes of my protagonist.

One other thing: my novel is no longer called ‘Ida’s Children’ and I have no idea what the new title will be, so I can’t tell you what to look out for. Stay tuned…

Thanks, Amanda, for following up on this series. It’s only been two years—a short time, really—and look what’s happened in between. I hope the next two years are just as productive.

You can find Louise on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram or on Pinterest

Kim Coull

kim-coull-pic-for-amandas-blog-1

It is very still here this morning as I write this. Summer is creeping in. But I do love this last hurrah as the jacarandas break out. It’s about 11 am. The horse across the road is neighing. I never see this horse, although it keeps me company on the days I have time to sit and write. Like this morning.

In the last two years there has been a lot of space and in that space the heart of the game has deepened for me. Words have morphed into vibrations and back again. There’s been a great deal of silence and in that silence (paradoxically) I’ve found another well to plumb, or rather it has been like falling into an ocean and eventually finding myself washed up on a distant but vaguely remembered shore.

I’ve been time-travelling back into my music and writing songs. I made a harp recently. On it I carved the primal sound (although I’ve heard that may be only a secondary vibration to the initial ping). I have been interested in the healing value of Sanskrit and Gurmukhi and also language that creates soundscapes and vibrations, and I am applying this to the writing process. Over the past year, especially, from this intersection of sound, words, vibration and silence, I’ve written an album of songs that I plan to record in 2017.

kim-coull-dream-harp

I am also working on my book about art, narrative therapy and archetypes and hope to publish that next year as well as my poetry manuscript.

Some writing I have put away, understanding that it has served its purpose. Other writing is continuing to find voice in these varied ways. Perhaps getting older also makes you value silence and the nectar in the pause.

You can find Kim on her website

10 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave updated (part 2): Rashida Murphy and Karen Overman

In this post, Rashida Murphy and Karen Overman, part of the wonderful group of Western Australian women writers I featured here two years ago in the series ‘The Next Wave’, talk about what has happened in their creative lives since then.

Rashida Murphy

Version 2

In 2014, when I was featured in the ‘Next Wave’ series, I had a manuscript entitled ‘The Historian’s Daughter’. I also had a year to go before I submitted that manuscript as part of a PhD in Writing from Edith Cowan University. In August 2016, The Historian’s Daughter was published by UWA Publishing. Since then, my life has traversed uncharted waters. As a novelist I have appeared at two regional writers festivals and been invited to the Perth Writers Festival in 2017. I have judged writing competitions and just finished a stint as a guest editor of the journal Westerly (‘New Creative’ issue). I am to be a Writer-In-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre next year. All of these events seem designed to make me pinch myself (which I do, frequently, and my husband no longer appears concerned when I yell, Ouch!).

Historian_s_Daughter_Cover_grande

Life as a published writer has unexpected moments of grace. Like the time I walked into a bookshop in Fremantle and the wonderful manager recognised me and told me my book was ‘selling well.’ And the time, in a library, a woman came up and said her friend had recommended she buy my book. Friends and strangers have posted positive reviews of The Historian’s Daughter, and it has been sighted and photographed in India, America, England and Canada, in addition to various cities in Australia. And I find myself answering questions about writing as if I know something. In truth, I’m terrified. Proud of my novel, yes, but terrified that I’ll find out it’s been a big mistake and this will all go away in a puff of smoke. This feeling is sometimes referred to as The Imposter Syndrome, a malaise many writers suffer from, apparently.

unknown-2

Interviewed by Charlotte Guest at the New Norcia Writers Festival, 2016

unknown

unknown-4

With fellow guest editors of the Westerly ‘New Creative’ issue

So where to, next? I’ve started writing my next novel and I expect it to change so many times that I won’t try to describe it in a sentence. Yes, it has women with foreign names who wear flowing skirts and have completely non-exotic childhoods. (I write fiction, after all).

Next year, I expect to wander around, lost for days, waiting for someone to find me and take me home. We are moving south of the river. As a northerner, this thought flummoxes me and feeds into my directional dyslexia. They say change is good for the soul, don’t they? I’m hoping ‘they’ are right. At the very least, expect some entertaining stories about those strange people who live south of the river, eat bananas and keep goannas as pets. Now I really must ring my kids (all of whom live south) and assure them it’s an advantage to live close to us again. It doesn’t matter how far they run, we’ll find them.

Rashida’s blog rashidawritenow
UWA Publishing

 

Karen Overman

Kav 4-9-14 041_2

So what have I been up to since last we met?

‘The Blue Moment’ manuscript sits percolating in a drawer with its sisters (I shall return soon to this manuscript to ‘prune’ and feed anon), and work upon another manuscript has been embarked upon. This most recent will form part of a trilogy.

In the interim I have been travelling lots—Finland, Norway, Ireland and soon a return to Russia and China. On these travels my mind becomes a net scooping up little bits of shimmer-and-gravity along the way.

Oh, and I have been blogging. Some pieces of shimmer make it into these blogs. On one occasion a piece of gravity did, too, in a blog addressing the hysteria (and unkindness?) being displayed towards the Muslim community in Australia. I say Australia, but its argument could be applied to the wider world.

I think I poked a bit of a hornet’s nest. Apart from being kindly informed that I was ‘a piece of s**t’, and then hearing from another dear reader, ‘I hope you die in a terrorist bomb blast’ (I’m hoping I don’t get one of these readers in the Christmas Kringle…)—it gained an audience from all over the world. At last count it had attracted almost 23,000 shares. It also confirmed my deep-seated feeling that if my larger work ever attracts a substantial readership, I hope this doesn’t occur until at least three minutes after I’ve popped my clogs!

unknown

Did this brief moment of notoriety make me want to crawl back into my shell?

No.

Did it make me want to court greater notoriety?

No.

Did it make me want to moderate my opinions?

Not really. (Well, perhaps momentarily after the first few death threats, but when the hundreds of messages of affirmation began streaming into my Facebook Messenger in-box from all over the world…no, no rescinding of opinions at all.)

Most importantly, it reaffirmed my belief in the power of the word. And, especially for someone like me who eschews public speaking, the power of the written word.

The effect of the blog drove home to me how important—in my life, and perhaps in yours—it is to think deeply about what is occurring in the world that surrounds us: the beautiful things, the ugly things, the unfairnesses and the actions that make us as fine as we can aspire to be. These are all worth applying the best of one’s mind to, and perhaps even to take the further step of writing down the fruits of such thought.

On 19 November 1863, Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address said, The world will little note, nor long remember what is said here—and he couldn’t have been more wrong. The world remembers every word of his address, firstly, because what he said was fine; he stated his nation shall have a government of the people, by the people, for the people. But, most significantly, his thoughts live on because he Wrote. Them. Down.

The power of the written word cannot be underestimated. So, as a mantra to myself, and as an exhortation and encouragement to my fellow writers on Amanda’s generous-spirited blog, keep writing.

Keep thinking, deeply.

And, keep writing!

Karen’s blog: hvalsang
Karen’s novel: The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity

15 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave updated (part 1): Michelle Michau-Crawford and Emily Paull

Two years ago, looking up/looking down presented a series on Western Australian women writers to watch out for. As I wrote then:

There’s so much creative energy among writers on the western edge—some of it being nurtured in university writing programs, some finding inspiration and support through writers centres, some brewing entirely independently. This four-part series features eight WA women who are part of that creative flurry. All of them have a manuscript ready, or nearly ready, to submit to agents and publishers, and I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.

It’s a true pleasure to observe the evolution of a creative life, and I’m delighted to present an update on what some of them have been doing. Here’s how Michelle Michau-Crawford and Emily Paull responded to an invitation to review their last two years of writing…

Michelle Michau-Crawford

MichelleLR-2

When I was invited in November 2014 to be one of the featured writers on The Next Wave series, I had just returned from one month in Paris. While there I worked on a manuscript with a working title I had completely forgotten existed until revisiting Amanda’s blog series earlier this week. I spent much of the summer of 2014–15 locked away, further developing that manuscript, and in the early months of 2015, while it wasn’t quite complete, I felt ready to commit to signing a contract with my preferred publishing house, UWA Publishing.

12218707_10153761607677079_2142340854_o (1)Leaving Elvis and Other Stories was published just under twelve months later, in February 2016, in time for the Perth Writers Festival. That introduction to the reality of being a published author in contemporary times was far removed from my imagined writing life: living on a secluded island, quietly sending my writing out via boat or seaplane.

I decided early that I would be open to all the experiences that arose as a result of my first full-length publication. After all, as I noted when the fabulous Julia Lawrinson launched my book, I had served a 20-plus-years writing apprenticeship before I felt ready to share my stories. The six-month period post-publication whirled by, challenging and invigorating me.

As well as participating on the two panels at the Perth Writers Festival, I spoke at a literary high tea, at writers’ centres and in various bookshops and libraries. I travelled to several country writers’ festivals, facilitated workshops and was interviewed in those venues, and for various newspaper and online features. I had an on-camera interview in a television studio, something that I never envisioned as I worked at writing, but after the first few awkward minutes (where I forgot what my book was about), I managed to almost enjoy the experience.

I was fortunate enough to have my work reviewed favourably locally and nationally in the mainstream media, judged a writing competition, and overall had a hectic but stimulating publication year. I met many readers and connected with a number of writers I hadn’t known prior to publication, and discovered that no matter how established Australian writers are, they are by and large incredibly generous and supportive of fellow authors.

My biggest thrill throughout the year came after receiving the first letter penned (or typed, in this case) by a reader: a man who’d driven a long way to hear me talk, had bought the book and read it and then taken time to send me a personal letter saying the book had resonated deeply with him. It affirmed what I already knew: that as satisfying as the other attention and experiences may be, I write to communicate via the written word with readers, not to be known as a public figure. Talking to people who’ve taken the time to engage with my writing remains the most rewarding gift to flow from publication of my first book.

In August I organised an event-free month and took the opportunity to refocus on writing. I had been chipping away at some other writing while completing and promoting my book but hadn’t felt I had sufficient headspace to truly engage with it. So I waved goodbye to Elvis and went away for two weeks to Varuna, the National Writers’ House, in the Blue Mountains, where I managed to make significant progress towards my next project. On my return I had several more public events culminating in a brilliant weekend at the inaugural Australian Short Story Festival held in Perth in October. I am now back at work on my current writing project, one I cannot speak about at this stage for fear of jinxing further development!

Other than that, some of the things I spoke of in that initial Next Wave feature remain the same. I had hoped to return about now to spend time in Paris, for I choose to believe that regular time in Paris helps me write more effectively. However, life’s circumstances conspired to keep me closer to home. If I’d been there at the time I had intended, then Leonard Cohen—the great artist I’ve adored since childhood; the man who’d unknowingly led me to Paris in the first place—would have died while I was far from home. Between dealing with that and processing the result of the long and ugly US election, curled up at home under a blanket was really the only place to be last week. On a brighter note, I have resumed attempting to learn to speak and read French, and stubbornly refuse to concede defeat. One day I will read more, though probably not all, of those French texts I have collected over the years!

Michelle’s website
Facebook page

Emily Paull

iphone-july-2016-108

What a difference two years makes.

iphone-july-2016-086Since I was featured as one of Amanda’s WA women writers to watch out for, a lot of things have changed. Some of them were good changes—such as, for example, having short stories published in two anthologies. My story ‘A Thousand Words’ was published in the UK in a collection called [Re]Sisters, and I was lucky enough to have a story called ‘The Sea Also Waits’ selected by editor Laurie Steed to be a part of the Margaret River Press anthology Shibboleth and Other Stories.

When I last wrote for this blog, I was about to begin my time as one of three Young Writers in Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre—those ten days were probably some of the most productive of my life, and I managed to revise a whopping 40,000 words of Between the Sleepers, a historical novel set in Fremantle between 1937 and 1945. Part of this residency was a consultation with Amanda Curtin on the first 50 pages of my book, and her guidance on some of the early issues in the novel has really helped me clarify its direction as a whole.

In early 2016 I began sending the novel to agents, and started work on another project: finishing my Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Publishing, which I took online at Deakin University.

I currently have two writing projects on the go. One is another historical novel, which I have tentatively titled The Turing Project. It is the story of Clementine, a university student who throws herself into researching the wartime cryptanalyst Alan Turing after the suicide of her childhood best friend. The novel alternates between Clementine’s story, set in the early 2000s, and Alan Turing’s story, which many people may be familiar with now due to the film The Imitation Game. This novel began its life as a NaNoWriMo project back in 2009 (National Novel Writing Month, where you challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Writing about people who existed and whose stories are well known presents a challenge in itself, but I am enjoying throwing myself into this world and learning about my new characters.

iphone-july-2016-144My other writing project is a collection of short stories, which is currently titled Well-Behaved Women. It so far consists of ‘The Sea Also Waits’ (from Shibboleth and Other Stories), ‘Dora’ (Highly Commended in the 2016 Hadow/Stuart Award for Fiction) and ‘Miss Lovegrove’, which was shortlisted for the John Marsden/Hachette Australia Award for Young Writers at the end of 2015. I’ve been a fan of short story collections for a long time, and I hope that my collection can find a place in the incredibly high standard of collections currently being published in Australia.

I mentioned that while some of the changes were good, some were not so good. For those readers who live in Perth, you may already know that my beloved Bookcaffe closed its doors at the end of June 2016. While we’ve been seeing for a long time that the bookselling industry is changing, and that people are tending to buy more and more of their books at cheap online retailers, I never wanted to experience this downturn firsthand…but there I was, clearing shelves and adopting as many of the unsold books as I could so that I knew they would be going to a home where they would be read (eventually) and loved. I still work in a bookish job—I am a sales representative at Westbooks, where I visit public libraries and make sure they have all the best new releases, and I am also doing freelance work such as teaching seminars at this year’s All Saints College Storylines Festival.

In general, despite some of the bizarre and depressing things that have happened this year, it seems like 2016 has been a year of progress for me, and one in which I have learned a lot about myself as a writer. I think the most important thing is that I have finally taken on board a piece of advice that was given to me by Craig Silvey a number of years ago, something which has taken this long to become innate. When I asked Craig what advice he had for someone who wanted to become a writer, his answer was something like this: You don’t become a writer, you are a writer, every day, and in everything that you do. That feels truer to me now than it ever has before, and I am just grateful to be putting my words on pages, never knowing if anyone will ever read them or not.

Emily’s blog: The Incredible Rambling Elimy

 

12 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave: update

Congratulations to two writers featured last year in my series The Next Wave. MichelleLR-2 Michelle Michau-Crawford has signed a contract with UWA Publishing, and her short story collection ‘Leaving Elvis and other stories’ will be published early in 2016. DSC00729 Rashida Murphy’s unpublished novel ‘The Historian’s Daughter’ has been shortlisted along with nine other manuscripts for the Dundee International Book Prize. The winner will be announced in October. I couldn’t be more thrilled for Rashida and Michelle!

5 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave: exciting news!

This morning I attended the announcement of the 2014 City of Fremantle TAG Hungerford Award shortlist, a biennial award given to a manuscript by a Western Australian author previously unpublished in book form. The winner will receive a cash prize of $12,000 and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press.

The award has launched the writing careers of eleven previous recipients, some of whom have gone on to receive national and international recognition with their published work. The previous winners are: Brenda Walker (1990), Gail Jones (1991), Simone Lazaroo (1993), Bruce Russell (1995), Christopher Murray (2000), Nathan Hobby (2002), Donna Mazza (2004), Alice Nelson (2006), Natasha Lester (2008), Jacqueline Wright (2010) and Robert Edeson (2012).

I was thrilled to see Louise Allan on the shortlist, for her novel Ida’s Children, recently featured in the looking up/looking down series The next wave: you can read the post here. Congratulations, Louise!

DSC_7041 - Version 3

Of course, my congratulations extend to all five shortlisted authors. It’s a significant, meaningful achievement, and I look forward to picking up all these titles off a bookshop shelf in the future.

2014 shortlisted authors and manuscripts

Louise Allan, Ida’s Children
Madelaine Dickie, Troppo
Portland Jones, Seeing the Elephant
Mihaela Nicolescu, Other Place
Nicole Sinclair, All That’s Gone Before

Portland Jones, Mihaela Nicolescu, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, Louise Allan, Nicole Sinclair, Fremantle Press fiction publisher Georgia Richter

Portland Jones, Mihaela Nicolescu, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, Louise Allan, Nicole Sinclair, Fremantle Press fiction publisher Georgia Richter

The winner will be announced early in 2015. Good luck to you all!

21 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave (part 4): WA women writers to look out for

picisto-20141127082720-542876

 

The next wave is a four-part series featuring exciting Western Australian women writers with manuscripts ready for submission or nearly there. I hope you’ll remember their names and watch out for their published work.

My final two guests are Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan.

 

MichelleLR-2Michelle Michau-Crawford

Michelle and I share a love of short stories—and Paris. Michelle recently spent a month there, collects French literature and is currently attempting to learn French so she can read her collection. ‘Despite it being the so-called City of Love,’ she says, ‘it is my favourite place to visit alone.’ Her love affair with the city began by accident on a trip in 2008. Having been a huge Leonard Cohen fan all her life, she discovered he was performing in Lyon two weeks after a conference she was attending in Dublin. ‘I extended my trip, bought a scalped ticket and went to Lyon via Paris. I was thinking I was just going to Paris to kill time, but I fell for the city.’

Her current writing focus is short fiction, although she has also written and published poetry, articles, scripts and plays. Her story ‘Leaving Elvis’ won the prestigious ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize in 2013, and ‘Happy Haven Holiday Park’ has just been published in the current issue of Westerly. She has also won the Fortescue Poetry Prize, been commended or shortlisted for fiction and poetry in several national competitions, and been awarded an ASA mentorship.

Michelle’s manuscript—working title Elvis, and Other Losses—is ‘a collection of linked stories exploring, in part, how the the secrets and unspoken experiences that shape the lives of individuals can have intergenerational impact on family members. The stories focus on three generations from the one Australian family. By unpeeling some of the layers of various family secrets, and delving into characters’ memories, in particular, the stories make visible some of that which is often largely hidden, and explore ways in which some people, when faced with adversity, develop the capacity to cope and grow stronger, while others—at least on the surface—are apparently not so successful.’

Here is a brief extract from one story:

‘I said, what do you dream about?’

He’s still thinking of her mother when she asks that. Had him wrapped around her little finger from the outset. He sort of knew back then that he’d always take her side, even though he loved her mum more than life itself.

She shifts from foot to foot. Scraggly yellow hair tumbling free from its ribbons. Hands on bony hips. Chin jutted forwards. Just like her mum used to.

He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. Feed her a lie? Spin something sugar and spice? Tell her the truth, that something that he thought was fixed has broken again? Confess that he’s as weak as piss?

In the nick of time Evie saves him. Comes to the door and calls the kid out of the bedroom. Looks at him. Disappointment all over her face. Like he’s the one thing standing between her and happiness.

Website here

 

DSC_7041 - Version 3Louise Allan

Louise has been working on her first novel for some time, with the kind of commitment she devoted to her former profession—medicine—and continues to devote to her role as the mother of four children. She says that at sixteen ‘if anyone had told me I would be a writer when I grew up, I would have choked on my Pepsi. At that time, I was very Maths/Science orientated, and although I loved reading and enjoyed English, I found it the most difficult of all my subjects.’

She has had two short stories published in the anthology Jukebox (Out of the Asylum Writing Group, 2013), and two short memoir pieces are forthcoming in another anthology. She observes: ‘Part of the reason for my lean pickings on the publishing side is that I don’t send anything out until I’ve sat on it for a couple of years’—which strikes me as a cautious, but wise, approach.

This year she won a Varuna Writing Fellowship—‘a magical two weeks’—to work on her manuscript, working title Ida’s Children, which is in the commercial literary genre and aimed primarily at women readers. ‘The novel is about two sisters growing up in rural Tasmania in the 1920s, and follows them through to the present day. They each have dreams, but life doesn’t give either of them what they yearn for. It’s about unfulfilled dreams and the beauty of children and music, and what happens when beauty is crushed.’

Here is a short sequence from Ida’s Children:

When I first opened the door and saw her standing there, I thought she was from a charity and collecting money. ‘Hold on a minute,’ I said. ‘I’ll get my purse.’

Before I could turn, she stepped closer, under the shade of the verandah, and slipped the sunglasses from her eyes. ‘My name is Penny Archer. I … um …’

I held the doorframe and took a few deep breaths. Settle down, Ida. I looked at her. Those eyes. A warm green. The colour of the bush, they were. So familiar it hurt. A few creases crept from the edges, but the rest of her face was smooth. She held her sunglasses in her hand, tall and elegant in a black dress that tied at the waist and fell loose about her calves.

‘Are you all right?’ she said.

I nodded, let go of the frame and stepped outside, then pulled the door behind me—I didn’t want Grace to hear.

Website here

 

You can also read
Part 1: Rashida Murphy and Kristen Levitzke
Part 2: Amanda Gardiner and Emily Paull
Part 3: Karen Overman and Kim Coull

32 Comments

Filed under The next wave

The next wave (part 3): WA women writers to look out for

picisto-20141127082720-542876

 

This is the third of a four-part series featuring Western Australian women writers who have a manuscript either ready, or almost ready, to submit. I’m sure you’re going to be hearing more from them in the future.

In this post, I welcome Karen Overman and Kim Coull.

 

Kav 4-9-14 041_2Karen Overman

Karen has published a collection of short stories, Night Flight from Marabar (1999), and her 2009 novel, The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity (a favourite of mine), won a Nautilus Award for Visionary Fiction, announced at the New York Book Fair in 2010. As a short story writer, she has won the Irish Famine Literary Award and the Australian-Irish Heritage Association Award, and as a playwright, the SWY Theatre Company Young Playwrights Award. Her plays have been performed at the Festival of Perth and the Octagon Theatre.

Karen’s manuscript—working title The Blue Moment—is a work of literary fiction in the crime/mystery pocket of that genre. The synopsis reads: ‘A murderer is on the loose in a fast food restaurant. But, given the fact she is a middle-aged cleaner, she is almost invisible as she goes about her deadly tidying. Kate is descending into the deeper darkness of her troubled world. Will she grasp the life-buoy thrown by Detective Inspector Knight? Or will they go under together—the killer and the sleuth made deadweight by the coils of an unlikely friendship?’

I asked Karen about the inspiration for this manuscript: ‘For years I’ve had the character Kate lurking in my mind. A middle-aged person, mentally fragile, working in a “service industry” position, a cleaner or waitress perhaps—all the markers that often represent unwarranted invisibility. But I wanted this individual to have a remarkable mind—not necessarily good or bad, but certainly remarkable. I wanted her to go about her terrible business unnoticed, unremarked-upon. I wanted all the behaviours that usually render someone in a lower paid job, and no longer young, invisible (or perhaps, more accurately, seen to be beneath notice) to be a force. I wanted this character to be able to use the way in which they are smudged or blurred out of view to their advantage. I also wanted the darkness that could have consumed this character to be shot through with some sort of redemptive light.’

Here is a taste:

I stand taut and alive in the empty car park, letting this moment wash over me, a moment that will never be repeated again in this format, in the entire history of time. I stand, a small figure looking up at the heavens. These stars, these planets, these constellations and clouds will never again assume this particular configuration. And, for one brief moment, I am epicentre. It is me that acknowledges this scene, my mind that records this series of patterns in the sky. My will, my longing, my effort that keeps these constellations nailed to these fragments of space. I’m keeping the trees about me at full stretch, the clouds in this state of buoyancy, the breeze at this gentle speed. My will is throwing out comets and asteroids and petals from the very flowers that surround me.

For one brief, aching moment I fly out and disappear in it all. A moment, held. Then, immediate contraction, it is done. I am spent.

And, once again, I am a figure standing solitary in a suburban car park, alone with my vastness tightly packed into a small frame, cloaked in a fast food uniform.

I am now feeling calmer, and I return to the dining area, to clean tables.

Website: hvalsang

 

FINAL Kim Coull STB Pic smallKim Coull

Kim is an artist, poet, and Late Discovery Adoptee and lives in the foothills of Perth. She teaches a self-development course that involves facilitating the formation of therapeutic personal narratives from Jungian archetypal and pictorial symbology, and also records oral histories as a consultant for SpillingtheBeans Pty Ltd. She used to busk for a living ‘a long time ago, in another city, in another life, pre-children, pre-discovery, and sometimes, in the quiet of my own space, I still sing some of the old songs, only in earshot of the birds, the constantly wind-worried trees, and the chirruping crickets…’

Kim’s poetry has been published in Blue Dog, Poetrix and Famous Reporter, and in 2005 she won the Talus Prize for Poetry and was runner-up in the prose section. She has a BA in Psychology and has just completed a PhD in Writing.

Her manuscript, a literary novel (fictionalised memoir) with the working title The Womb Artist, explores the psychological aftermath of relinquishment in the closed record adoption system. The synopsis reads: ‘Weena is a strange and anxious child. As she stumbles into adulthood, she doesn’t understand why the world constantly snakes up inside her head and heart to forever keep her sense of self distorted and disabled. Why she speaks in inconsolable tongues after love making and paints strange and disturbing pictures of vaginas and umbilicals. When she finally finds out, at the age of 42, that she was declared dead at birth and subsequently adopted, she must try to make sense of a life lived incarcerated in silence, grief and lies. The novel, set in Australia, India and New Zealand, paints Weena’s life-long struggle with the unconscious reverberations of her lost mother and the sublimated, ever-present “dead baby” within; how her life and art unknowingly record her haunting pre-verbal memories; how she eventually finds out and survives the truth.’

Here is a brief sample:

Mani and Weena take a taxi from Jagraon. The road is straight and the land flat and green in every direction. Soon she sees low walls and flat roofed houses the colour of dirt and sand, the colour of pale mud, faded and caked in the sun, hand hewn and rubbed smooth, as if the earth created the village itself, pushing it up from its loamy womb to sit low and still, almost camouflaged by the irregular line of trees around the outskirts. Black and grey house crows sit in ownership on roofs and walls. Later she learns that these birds are really spirits who are lost, who wander from house to house in pursuit of a soul. Guru Nanak, she learns, prefers swans and bids them gone…

I remember them packing the sky at dusk or sitting on the roof tops, cocking their heads arrogant and unafraid. Of course, they are invisible now as I look at the satellite picture. I can’t make out the buildings in Mani’s village either or the new room built for us back then. The satellite resolution does not permit such a fine perspective. I wonder what else has changed, how many times the Sutlej has flooded, how many rains came early and ruined the spring crops in these intervening years…Manjit’s house is one of only three labelled with the name of their owners, the father’s name, and rank—Subaltern. The focus is shot now. The blur increasingly watery. There is a river rising somewhere—perhaps I feel the start of the rains—the draught to be drunk…

Website here

 

You can also read
Part 1: Rashida Murphy and Kristen Levitzke
Part 2: Amanda Gardiner and Emily Paull
Coming up
Part 4: Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan

26 Comments

Filed under The next wave