It’s been a busy time since the publication of The Geography of Friendship eight weeks ago, but it’s also been a great time. I’ve travelled to Sydney and Melbourne, visited numerous bookshops while there, and I’ve had some terrific in-conversations, safe in the hands (and minds) of stellar writers Emily Maguire, Toni Jordan and Cass Moriarty. I’ve chatted with several radio stations and podcasters, from east coast to west (a number of those interviews are on the Books page of my website) and I’ve been part of the Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence Author Talk series at Brisbane libraries. And now I’ve started to eat cake, courtesy of the book clubs I’m visiting, one of my favourite things to do in this writing life because I finally get to hear how readers connect with the story. So far so good!
The kindness and interest my book is being shown has been humbling, but also a relief. Because as any writer will tell you, putting your work out there feels a little like perching your confidence and heart on a cliff edge and hoping a gale doesn’t come along and blow them off. So thank you to all the readers, booksellers and reviewers for your kind words of support.
Here are a few pics from the past eight weeks.
I had an absolute ball at the Celebration of Books Maleny over the weekend. This beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland community of artists and book lovers bring such enthusiasm and support to this annual event organised by Claire Booth and her indomitable team, now in its seventh year.
This is my third year attending this friendly festival, but this year I had the privilege of being invited onto the Sunday morning panel 'Talking Writing' chaired by the wonderful Kate Evans, presenter of ABC Radio National 'The Bookshelf'. My fellow panelists where the genre-diverse writer and Stella Prize-shortlisted Mirandi Riwoe (The Fish Girl, Seizure) and Walkley award-winning journalist and all round funny man Trent Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe, HarperCollins).
Other literary treats across the weekend included Kate in conversation with Bri Lee about her confronting, call-to-action memoir Eggshull Skull (Allen & Unwin) on Friday evening and the 'Poetry on the Precinct' readings on Saturday morning under Maleny's glorious blue skies. There was also the Big Book Club event on Saturday afternoon, where more than 70 people came together to chat about Sarah Krasnostein's non-fiction book The Trauma Cleaner (Text Publishing), plus many other writing activities and workshops for children throughout the day.
I can't wait to go back for my fourth year in 2019!
I couldn't think of a better team at my side to help welcome The Geography of Friendship to readers at Avid Reader Bookshop on Friday evening than these gals - my wonderful editor Jacqueline Blanchard, friend, writer and book launcher extraordinaire Kris Olsson and bookseller and friend to all authors Fiona Stager. Thank you everyone who came along and made it such a rowdy and fun celebration.
I lived in the UK from 1997-2005 and it was during this time that I first started writing. I had some early publication successes with a couple of short stories while there and I flirted with writing novels, not publishable ones but they were all part of the long apprenticeship that writing is and seems to remain. University of Queensland Press announced last week that they have sold both of my Australian novels – The Geography of Friendship, released last week, and Grace’s Table (2014) – to UK publisher Legend Press, to be published in the UK and Ireland in 2019. To have my writing returned to the site of where I had my earliest naïve and clumsy aspirations to be a novelist feels all the sweeter.
I'm thrilled beyond belief that Australia's most iconic magazine has selected The Geography of Friendship as its 'Great Read' for July. The honour comes with a bit of book cover bling.
It must be real...the launch of The Geography of Friendship (UQP) is now up on the Avid Reader Bookshop events page. I'm thrilled to have friend and book launcher extraordinaire Kris Olsson sending it on its path to readers. It's a free event but you will need to book your place through Avid if you'd like to come along and join in the celebration. I hope to see you there!
Date: 6 July 2018
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Venue: Avid Reader Bookshop, 193 Boundary Road, West End, QLD 4101
Wasted: A story of alcohol, grief and a death in Brisbane by Elspeth Muir
Reading Wasted: A story of alcohol, grief and a death in Brisbane (Text Publishing 2016) by Elspeth Muir took me back thirty-five years to a smell I’ve never forgotten. I was a trainee nurse at the time, doing a Saturday night shift in the operating theatres of a large teaching hospital in Melbourne. It was about 2am and I was prepping a girl around my age for surgery.
The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo
I came to The Light on the Water (Allen & Unwin 2016) by Olga Lorenzo because of the novel’s setting on Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. Not long before I’d gone on a 5-day solo hike through the region so knew something of the rigours of hiking in this area and the impenetrability and ruggedness of parts of the terrain. I was interested in Lorenzo’s recreation of place as much as I was the story line. I wasn’t disappointed with either.
A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay
The characters’ memories in A Hundred Small Lessons (Allen & Unwin 2017) by Ashley Hay eddy and meander through time just as the Brisbane River that features often in the story, meanders from mountain range to coast. The minutiae of lives are put under the microscope in this gently told story highlighting how the small acts required to build a family and a life, are often undervalued or overlooked for their importance.
Le Chateau by Sarah Ridout
Le Chateau (Echo Publishing 2016), a debut novel by Sarah Ridout, is an unforgettable story about a woman forgetting. Charlotte doesn’t remember her husband, Henri, or their five-year-old daughter, Ada. She doesn’t remember the century’s old chateau where she lives in the south of France, or its surrounding vineyard. And neither does she remember her imperious mother-in-law, Madame de Castanet, who occupies one wing of the chateau. Charlotte is amnesic after a mysterious accident that left her in a coma. Just like Dorothy in Ada’s favourite story The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte must find her way home to the family she is told is hers but is one she neither knows nor trusts.
Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett
Sleeping Dogs (Penguin 1995) by Sonya Hartnett is a young adult novel that explores the destructiveness of misguided and obsessive family loyalties. It marked the start of Hartnett’s award-winning career as a writer when it won the 1996 Kathleen Mitchell Award and the 1996 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award – Writing for Young Adults.
Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest and The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter
Brand New Ancients (Picador Poetry 2013) is by Kate Tempest, a UK rapper, spoken-word poet, novelist and playwright. The Monkey’s Mask (Hyland House 1994) is by the late Australian poet, novelist, lyricist and librettist Dorothy Porter.
The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna and Leaving Elvis And Other Stories by Michelle Michau-Crawford
The Eye of the Sheep (Allen & Unwin 2014) by Sofie Laguna won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Leaving Elvis And Other Stories (UWA Publishing 2016) by Michelle Michau-Crawford is a debut collection of connected short stories. The eponymously named story in Michau-Crawford’s collection won the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.
Christie Nieman is an award-nominated author, editor, researcher and playwright. Her debut YA novel As Stars Fall was published by Pan Macmillan in 2014. Her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in journals and magazines including Meanjin, Overland, TEXT and The Guardian. She has been a contributing editor on the anthologies Just Between Us, (Pan Macmillan 2013) and Mothers and Others (Pan Macmillan 2015). Her critically acclaimed play, Call Me Komachi, received a Green-Room Award nomination, multiple productions, and publication by the Australian Script Centre. I interviewed Christie about her writing and current doctoral studies in ecocritcism, which she is undertaking at La Trobe University in Victoria.
Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple
India has an ancient, diverse and complex culture of which most visitors can only hope to scratch the surface. William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (Bloomsbury 2009) takes readers beyond the surface and into the skin of nine different people seeking moksha or spiritual liberation. Dalrymple reveals the extraordinary commitment of these people in maintaining their faith and the often extreme rituals they perform in order to demonstrate their devotion. Nine Lives is a must-read for any traveller intending to visit India who would like to better understand this country’s exotic religious practices.