It’s that time of year when I feel I must attend to this poor neglected blog. I’m terrible at updating- I know that, but at the risk of whingeing (though this is my blog and I do believe the perfect forum for it) I have been so damn busy! I’m not only a writer, but also a teacher and a mother- so when that time is divided up there leaves very little for self promotion. I know- I really should sit down and get my priorities in order!
Anyway, where to begin? in ecstasy has been doing the rounds and so far has been met with mostly favourable reviews. Phew! The anxiety associated with having a new book out there is almost indescrible- you await the reaction (and having had previous experience you know ‘you can’t please all the people all the time’!!) But here is the most exciting news of all. in ecstasy was bought by a Canadian publisher (yep- that means North American rights!!) and is now in the process of being edited for the North American market. What does that mean? Don’t they speak English too? Of course they do, but the publisher wants to make changes to suit the target audience over there.
What that means is this… when I write my books they are distinctly Australian- nay, West Australian. Why? Because I love WA. I think it is a great place to live. I love writing about its beaches and lifestyle. I remember as a teenager reading Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and revelling in the recognition of places like Subiaco- landscapes I knew and could readily identify. Given that so much of the work I read as a kid was American, or British it was liberating to see home in the pages of a beautiful book. (NOTE: to date Cloudstreet still remains in my Top Ten). So I wanted to pay it forward. Give new teenagers a chance to connect with their own environment. After all Young Adult fiction often serves to provide a mirror for these kids- with regards to issues they face, and choices they make and an identifiable environment often makes that even more accessible.
So, both Destroying Avalon and in ecstasy are set in Western Australia, but for both of them the environment doesn’t contribute to the challenges these kids face, as much as provide a backdrop against which this plays out. The themes in both books I believe are universal- cyber bullying is a world wide phenomenon- and alarmingly, still on the rise. Experimentation with drugs, peer pressure and social acceptance has been around since, well, since forever, and will continue as young adults seek to find their place in the world.
What’s this got to do with North American publishing rights? Glad you asked. What it means is the Canadian publisher wishes to locate the action somewhere in North America- so their audience will readily identify with it. I guess I was lucky, I didn’t have to even think about it because of my own thoughts on the subject (see paragraph 3). So now I will be working with my Canadian editor to make the changes for this. I don’t know what else will be adapted or changed- we will see as it goes along. But it’s an exciting time for in ecstasy– a reinvention of self, already!
There has been work afoot to take Destroying Avalon into another market- with an offer being made to publish it in another country. But as I don’t have official confirmation (and this one involves a translation!) I’ll update when the contract arrives.
The babies are entering the big wide world. All I can do is kiss them and wish them luck with their new audiences!
The Melbourne Sydney jaunt was excellent fun! In particular the Penguin teacher evening- where I got to meet a lot of teachers and librarians who use Destroying Avalon in schools and who were interested in the new book in ecstasy; also the Classnet interview and the segment for Channel 31- where I was interviewed by some great kids; the Radio National interview with Richard Aedy was a lot of laughs and then I flew back to Melbourne to speak to Michael Carr-Gregg’s cyber-psychologists- they were a terrific bunch!
The second week (of the school holidays) was spent down south holidaying with friends (read- drinking, eating, water-skiing and singstar!!) We returned back to Perth only to start the new school term the next day!! I feel like a need a holiday!
So what’s coming up then…. This Thursday I’m participating in the launch of the MS Readathon at St Stephen’s School Carramar. Following that I’m back in Sydney on the 19th and 20th of May for a presentation at the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft and then a few school visits. When I return to Perth on the 21st May, that evening, I have the Rosalie Writer’s Festival where I’m presenting to parents Destroying Avalon.
Did I say I need to get to work on the third book? Oh, that old thing… yeah… right I might be able to write again! Soon- I promise!
I am so sorry. I am really terrible at this job! Call me commitment-phobic- I knew when I emabarked upon being a blogger I’d never hold a candle to those true devout bloggers- Matilda and Justine Larabalestier come to mind immediately. It’s official! I am crap at this!
So I’ll bring you up to date on the latest in this world- cause if you’re reading this, then you’re prolly interested! Friday night (4th April 2008) saw the launch of my new book ‘in ecstasy’. A grand time was had by all- except me, who basically sat at table and signed over 80 copies of aforementioned book. All my friends had turned up, as well as industry and teaching/librarian type people. But could I enjoy their company? No! I had to sit at the table and relish in my JK Rowlings moment. Ahh- but to have just one in a lifetime is a pleasure indeed!
The launch was a success. With engaging words from Dr Bill Saunders who was a real treat to have on the night! And my deepest gratitude to Joscelyn Leatt-Hyatt and her husband Geoff (or Greg, or Andrew- jokes!!)
Saturday the 12th I fly to Melbourne to promote ‘in ecstasy’ on radio, in print and hopefully on TV, I’m also doing some State library gigs and other PD stuff for teachers. Then I fly to Sydney- for more of the same and back to Melbourne to workshop with the much admired Dr Michael Carr-Gregg- Australia’s Dr Phil!
Then, later in May (19th) I’m back in Sydney workshopping ‘Destroying Avalon’ and ‘in ecstasy’ to a lirariarian workshop!~ It’s mad I tell you!
Someday I’ll get back to writing. Someday- soon- I promise Cate (she’s my publisher!!)
I have an advance copy of in ecstasy and like all proud parents I think it is the most beautiful book in the world! That’s not to say I love it more than Destroying Avalon– just differently!! It has turned out really well- and the cover (thanks Tracey) is receiving lots of compliments. Like I say ‘I always judge a book by its cover!! It’s reminiscent of The Collector (an old favourite), smacks of Silence of the Lambs and has been compared to A Cage of Butterflies and Papillion– all great comparisons to my mind.
Review copies have been sent out and the feedback has, so far, been encouraging. Which is very reassuring when facing ‘second book syndrome’!!! April is the launch date- and there are plenty of things happening around that time!
I have been invited back to the All Saints’ Literature Festival in Bullcreek WA, where I will discuss Destroying Avalon and in ecstasy, and writing for young adults, yada yada yada…. Those dates are 2nd April- 4th April 2008. I’ve also been invited to be part of a panel on the evening of the 3rd April, organised by the ETA and Kris Williams (co-ordinator of the All Saints Festival) to discuss writing for the classroom and the influences of school etc… its a PD with teachers as the target audience (more on that when details come to hand).
My publisher (with Penguin Books) is hoping to put together an east coast tour, (Melbourne and Sydney) to coincide with the release of in ecstasy– but more about that when details are confirmed!
The MS Readathon is booked in for the 1st May- I’ve agreed to read a passage from my books to a school (not sure which one yet) as part of its launch.
And later in May there is the Rosalie Writer’s Festival- I’ve agreed to attend a parent workship to discuss both Destroying Avalon and in ecstasty.
This is only the beginning- let’s get the party started!
Wow- you know you’ve made it when you appear in the New Idea!
Well, not me personally but Destroying Avalon. In this week’s New Idea Rachel Friend has written an article on Cyber Kids – outlining the dangers, to parents, of unmonitored internet use. My friend Michael Carr-Gregg is the source interviewed.
He says, “If you had a seven year year old would you dump him or her in Amsterdam in the red light district?” It’s an article for parents who are unaware of what exactly goes on when their child is “studiously working for 5 hours in their bedroom”.
Michael’s book Real Wired Child and Destroying Avalon are both listed as recommended reading. Michael’s book gives parents tips on how to manage their child’s internet use and explains blogs, sms, chat rooms etc. Destroying Avalon “explores the problem of cyber bullying…written for teenagers… with strong messages for parents too.”
This week in New Idea – New Idea
For those of you interested in teaching Destroying Avalon and have not found anything useful in my teaching package I’d like to direct you to Penguin’s Puffin Website:
Click on Teachers- then go to Teachers’ Notes
Then go to Units for the Secondary Classroom, pull down the menu and click on Destroying Avalon.
That’s the link (kinda long and scary looking isn’t it!!) But what you will end up with is a different angle for teaching Destroying Avalon. This focuses more on the text as a tool for combating bullying than as a ‘literary analysis’ of text- so I guess it depends on your aim.
But there you go two to choose from!
Teaching packages galore!
What could be better????
Last Sunday it was a privilege to attend the CBC’s Celebrity Brunch where the short listed books were reviewed. This year three wonderful students from St Stephen’s School Carramar were invited to review the Older Reader’s Section. After they came to terms with the fact their all time favourite English teacher’s book wasn’t on the list (though we all were delighted it made Notables!!) they set about reviewing.
Well, wasn’t I the proud teacher! My students (who I share with the Head of Department- actually they’re really hers, but I like to claim them) were well spoken, intelligent and engaging, the three of them were wonderful ambassadors for the school. They opened the proceedings and then each celebrity reviewer stood up to make their contribution.
I had a light bulb moment. Now, this is going to seem patently obvious to most people- and it something I’ve paid lip service to myself (without really understanding) a review is just one opinion. I know- there is no great revelation here. But when you watch people stand up and deliver their review it puts into context the faceless reviewer. Reviewers are just people with their own likes and dislikes, their bad days, fights with their partners, annoying or delinquent children, they are normal, everyday people who have an opinion to express.
I guess I realised the scathing reviews (not that there’s been that many) but the ones I remember- before any of the praiseworthy -are just the opinion of someone who didn’t like something I wrote. Perhaps they’d been a victim of bullying as a child and thought I trivialised it, perhaps they expected something more of the book that I didn’t deliver, perhaps they just didn’t like the way I wrote. What I learnt was it didn’t really matter. I need to take on more of the praiseworthy reviews- because after all, these people obviously have more in common with me. Why should I disregard those reviews that praise my work in favour of the ones that diss it?
So, I have a new mind set with regard to reviews- one that I really hope I can embrace. From now on I will look at all reviews (good and bad- you never know there might be something to learn from the bad ones!!)and try my hardest to remember what the good ones say!
Annie Thomson the producer of the ABC’s Street Stories radio documentary into cyber bullying We Are Watching You just won a bronze world medal at the New York Festival Awards.
As the medal implies- it is a world wide award and in my opinion much deserved. Personally I think she should have received the gold- but hey, bronze is very impressive too!
To listen to her recording I hope the hyper link at the top of my blog still works. Otherwise visit ABC radio’s website for details. In the production Annie interviews an author of a fiction novel about cyber bullying (okay- yes it’s me), a teacher (not me), a parent of a victim, a victim and 2 bullies- caught by their school! It is a fantastic resource- for anyone teaching cyber bullying, for parent forums and general awareness into the issue.
Well, here’s more good news! I had a phone call the other day from my publisher to tell me Louis Braille Audio Books wish to turn Destroying Avalon into one!! Isn’t that exciting? It means for those who are vision impaired, or don’t like reading (the whole Year 9 cohort at my school!!!) or who are travelling long distances in the car will be able to hear the audio- unabridged version of Destroying Avalon.
I can’t wait to see what it looks like as a CD! (I’m thinking probably round and shiny- but what would I know!) My publisher said they go into production quite quickly- and they get professional actors to read the part- so don’t fear it isn’t me reading it!!!!
Well, here is more exciting news! A few weeks ago the winner of the Australian Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature (try saying that ten times really fast) was announced. My publisher contacted me to tell me that Destroying Avalon was highly commended in this award. It’s a terrific honour!
So I googled the Australian Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature to see who the winner was and found nothing. The website hasn’t been updated (last year it was won by JC Burke for The Story of Tom Brennan)- couldn’t find any information- anywhere.
So then I stumbled across Delwyne Stephens blog (she is an Australian author of YA fiction) and I found this: (I quote)
“WHEELS was listed as a recommended read in the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature. I was thrilled because WHEELS was one of ten ‘recommended reads’ from a strong field.
The winners in the older readers catergory were Sue Lawson for “Allie McGregor’s True Colours” (Black Dog Books) with highly commended going to “Destroying Avalon” (Kate McCaffrey, Fremantle Arts Centre Press) and “Ten Things I Hate About Me” by Randa Adel-Fattah published by Pan Macmillan.”
Wheels is Delwyne’s book and so I’d like to take the opportunity to say congratulations Delwyne for getting the listing as a “recommended read” and thanks for the information about the award! Also congrats to both Sue Lawson and Randa Adel-Fattah- (all books on my reading list)!!