It seems appropriate to update this blog with the biggest news of late- my fourth novel Crashing Down was launched last night at Sacred Heart College Sorrento. It was a fantastic night, a turn out of about 140 people ranging from students, teachers, parents through to industry folk- oh, and of course, family and friends. Catherine Kolomyjec did an awesome job organising the event, aided by Emma Killian and supported by some of my Year 10 Lit kids- who were absolute standouts both in front of, and behind, the camera. News from my publisher is that the first print run of Crashing Down is already 3/4 sold! Not bad news to hear on the night of the launch.
Jan Nichols, in top form, dressed as a midwife to “birth” the new baby (the theme of the book being teen pregnancy). The celebrity guest in Norman Jorgensson (Jack’s Island and The Last Viking- to be launched in September at the State Library) was a true crowd pleaser.
The reviews are coming in- the latest can be accessed via this link
And so, a good night was had by all!!
Pics : Kate Mac, Jane Mac & Jon Doust Kate Mac, Liz Byrski & Jon Doust
Returned from Kununurra this week. I was flown up there to be a guest of the Kimberley Writer’s Festival. First impressions of Kununurra- man it’s hot! It might seem like stating the bleeding obvious- but for a city girl (whose furthest trip north was Monkey Mia, back in the 80s) I left hail storms in Perth to 37 degrees on my arrival!!! The other thing I noticed quickly- was unlike Monkey Mia, where they have dolphins, Kununurra has crocodiles!!! Several crazy authors dived from the boat and swam in the Ord- I wanted to scream, “People there are crocs in there!” But apparently the ‘freshies’ only take a small bite- unlike the “salties” who have a palate for humans. Either way I wasn’t taking any chances!!!
Writer’s Festivals are great in so many ways. Firstly you travel to exotic and remote locations (meet the locals and get eaten by them), you have an opportunity to discuss literature (and often yourself) to communities that often miss out and you get to meet other writers and illustrators. It’s like professional development for the Arts World. This trip was brilliant- I met some fantastic people. Here, let me list them:
Jon Doust- my favourite Perth author. Jon is the greatest ‘people person’ I have ever met. He was like the Pied Piper of Hamelin- with his trail of school kids who followed him everywhere.
Liz Byrski- my other favourite Perth author. Jane and I shared a place with Liz and it was wonderful- a girls’ weekend away, much laughter and merriment. Liz is a highly successful writer and shared a lot of advice.
Jeff Raglus and Vicki Phillip- musos and performers- what a fantastic team. Crazy cats!
Bruce Whatley and Rosie- they are lovely people and we shared some lovely moments.
Phil Kettle a most prolific writer of children’s books- somewhere in the vicinity of 5 million copies sold. I know, hold onto your hat!!!
Neil Murray- songwriter and poet (a lovely poem about step daughters), Anna Jarrett (story teller), Ambrose Chalarimeri (autobiographical writer).
We worked hard! Lots of functions, school sessions and public workshops, big thanks to Emma, Marie and Jo- for shuttling us around and catering to our strict dietry requirements (Jon and I are both vegetarians and gluten intolerant! Yes, we are those people! The caterer’s nightmare. But in my own defence at least I’m not lactose intolerant too!! Jon!!)
Then back to the real world- teaching, editing (my latest work) and spending time with my children! That’s the hardest thing about tours and festivals- leaving the kids. But they were pleased with the mosiac geckos and crocodiles in eggs I brought back!
What now? Book Week is coming up, I have a couple of visits to the Morley library. In October I have the Singapore Writer’s Festival and maybe a trip to Sydney. Did I mention that ‘in ecstasy’ won the Australian Family Therapists’ Book Award? I was so pleased- finally a gold sticker- it lives in Destroying Avalon’s shadow!!
I was on ‘the couch’- a Perth TV show aired on Aurora channel.
It’s actually quite horrible to watch yourself talk!
I know I should– but it’s shallow and empty now, isn’t it? I leave this blog for lengths of time and then breeze in when I seem to have nothing better to do. So I will not insult you with another apology. Instead I’ll try and justify my absence by bringing you all up to date with the latest happenings.
I handed over the manuscript ‘Murder Within’ in January- just before school started– then was inundated with the trials and tribulations of teaching! I flew off quickly to Melbourne- for Booktalkers at the State Library of Vic, with none other than the legendery John Marsden– I pulled my 12 year old daughter out of school to attend with me. Unfortunately John’s farm fell within the bush fire zone and he was unable to get a car out to attend the night. Twas still great– with Kirsty Murray, Sue Saliba, Tim Pelger and Don Henderson in fine form commenting on what influences our writing.
A week later I was off to Somerset Writer’s Festival in Queensland. What a fantastic week that was. Andrew Stark– organiser of the library conference performed magical acts to pull the event together and then the Writer’s Festival itself followed. I was in the company of some brilliant people, terrific authors and illustrators– Lee Fox, Tobhy Riddle, Suzanne Gervay, Kate Forsyth, Garth Nix,Debora Abela, Tristan Bancks, Shamini Flint, Rob Newton, and Matt Ottley. Just on Matt, for a second, not only was I impressed with his sandgroper status– yes he also crossed the spinifex curtain to attend Somerset– but the man is an all out genuis. I tell you- how can anyone not read Requium for a Beast and not see genuis at work?? Not only are his illustrations brilliant– but Matt composes his own music! I’m not being parochial when I say that Matt deserves all the credit and kudos he is receiveing (especially with his latest nod from the CBC!!)
Following that– teaching, marking, reporting and a few visits to schools. School holidays- which is a laugh, isn’t it– whose holiday is this??? Not mine!! I’d received word from the publisher that I needed to re-write a part of the latest book– oh, only about 20, 000 words!!! Hello! So first week of my delightful holiday was spent doing such. Second week– marking 4 classes of work– delightful!! And now I’ve just teed up the latest gig guide with my publicist– so I’ll let you have it:
16 May- ETA panel- at Perth College- discussing female vs male protagonists (I think!!)
23-27 July Kununurra Writer’s Festival (I’ve never been to the Kimberley– I’m really looking forward to it)
25 & 27 August- Morley library– for CBC Book Week (PS Aug 25 is my birthday!!!)
2 October– breakfast at Frasers for ASLA Conference. Later that day I’m sure I’m on a panel!!
That’s it so far. Will keep you posted on other happenings.
Oh, by the way– Hungary has bought rights to Destroying Avalon– now I can boast I share JK Rowlings publisher!! (if only it was her bank balance!!!) That’s me– up to date i think. Will try and be a better blogger!!!
It’s time for me to tend to this rather neglected blogsite and dust away the cobwebs and up date the latest happenings. Where to begin?
Saw out the end of ’08 down south in the most magnificient part of WA the Margaret River Region. It is a debauched writer’s heaven what with winery after winery! And also one of the longest water ski areas in the West too. I did plenty of skiing and also tried to master the wakeboard too! But though the holiday home I have presents as a writer’s haven up until the 11th of January no writing was done!
Panicking– I promised my publisher the latest book in January, I had no choice but to push through the writer’s block and turn those 28 000 words into a 56 000 word manuscript! Is it good? Time will tell- but for now it’s a draft- albeit a rather rough one. Which is good because on the 27th I returned to teaching– taking on a much bigger load than ever before!
So– I’m hoping that ’09 will see me juggling all those balls very nicely! Teaching, writing/editing and being a contributing member of society– did I forget family? My eldest daughter has sailed into Year 8 and my youngest into Year 3– so there’s another ball to throw up into the mix!
This week has been inundated with radio interviews on ‘sexting’– most ABC stations have asked me to talk about this phenomenon as well as the cyber bullying one too!
On March 3rd I appear at the Centre for Youth Literature in Melbourne with the likes of John Marsden– my 12 year old daughter is coming to, excited to meet a ‘real’ Australian writer!
On March 5th I’ll be at WA’s Night of Stars– with my great friends at Westbooks!
From March14th – 21st I will be soaking up the sunny rays of Queensland at the Somerset Festival for Literature– attending both the Librarian and Writer’s components of their festival. And then after that there are more appearances on the cards.
Oh– and here is the ‘book trailer’ for the American release of in ecstasy— I thought it was pretty cool. Tell me what you think. Now if only the North Americans like it– there could be an overseas tour in the pipeline!
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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!!)
A thousand apologies Constant Reader (thanks Stephen King)! I’ve committed a blogger’s cardinal sin- to create a blog and then fail to diligently post! It’s been weeks since my last blog (sounds like a confession- doesn’t it) but though I appear lazy- it’s been a lack of time that’s been the enemy.
After the whirlwind Sydney trip and the excitement of the TV appearance and the Notable mention from the Children’s Book Council of Australia- a thousand other things required attention.
I had a meeting with my editor- over the next stage of my latest work (currently titled) In Ecstasy. She is full of fabulous ideas- an editor sees the words, direction, psychology from a completely different perspective than a writer! It’s an amazing relationship.
I came away (from a lovely lunch) with a head brimming full of ideas, and still no time to formulate them!! So much to do, so much to do. But now I’ve gestated them I will formulate them today and tomorrow and indulge a much needed manic writing frenzy over the next couple of weeks. The plan is to hand it over by the end of May.
Which reminds me!
On the 21st May I fly to Melbourne to workshop Destroying Avalon at Ivanhoe Grammar and participate in the launch of their cyber bullying policy- (I’m sure that means anti-cyber bullying!!)
When I return- the 24th May I’m back at school (remember I teach too!) and then participating in an AISWA (Association of Independent Schools WA) cyber bullying Professional Development Day.
Ohhh, yeah ther’s more news too- but I think that needs a post of it’s own….
So read on!!!
On Monday I flew to Sydney to participate as a panellist on the ABC’s show “Difference of Opinion” hosted by Jeff McMullen. It was a fantastic opportunity to become involved in a discussion that was going to touch on the topic of cyber bullying. For those of you who’ve read my posts you’ll know that one of my motivations behind Destroying Avalon was to raise public awareness (particularly with regard to parents) about this issue. The topics up for discussion were incredibly broad:
‘How has the digital age shaped Generation Y?’
‘Is Generation Y desensitised, is there are growing culture of cruelty, are we normalising unacceptable behaviour?’
‘What is the future? What type of adults will Generation Y become?’
The discussion (as we said after the show) could have gone on for hours- but the show is only one hour. Anyone of the issues could have had an entire show based around it- the issues were far more involved and in-depth than the time allocated. But what it did do was generate opinion about a lot of issues that perhaps need further discussion.
The panel was made up of David Chalke- a statistican and social researcher, Kath Albury- an academic and researcher of sexuality in media and popular culture, Tim Brunero- a Sydney journalist and Big Brother constant, and me- listed as author and high school teacher.
Even though there was an overlapping of ideas, there were still differences of opinion stated. I did feel that perhaps a younger person was required to sit on the panel, Tim being the youngest and member of Generation Y- was still at the older end of that generation. And maybe the discussion might have benefitted from a younger perspective- someone who perhaps doesn’t work, is at school and is immersed in the digital technology.
There was a lot of participation from the audience- and a lot of them were definitely Generation Y. In fact the last guy to speak, a young guy (either still teens or early twenties would be my guess) made a really pertinent point about the lack of morality in a lot of images on the net. And how there is no one older there to advise and put it in perspective.
The show offers a message board for comments about the issues and the discussion, where the viewing public is invited to air their own opinion. When I first visited the message board I was surprised by the range of topics that were under discussion- including the ‘quality’ of the ‘experts’ on the panel. I guess (and this is naive of me) that the postings would be about the topics not a personal attack on the panellists! You can see the message board and ‘highlights’ from the show here at:
Here is my opportunity to redress some of the points that were made:
There was never any claim made that anyone of us was an expert in the field of “Generation Y”, in fact our “claims to fame” were stated by Jeff in his introduction. I certainly didn’t appear on the show purporting to be an expert on social constructs nor developing technology, I come from a background of teaching- with first hand experiences of what I see on a daily basis, coupled with the research I did for my novel and my experiences and fears as a parent of two Generation Yers.
What bothered me in the postings on the message board were the disdainful and scorning comments made about my qualifications. The angle I was coming from was that a generation gap exists between the older generations and Generation Y. This is typical of any new generation and the preceding ones, but my position is that this gap is the widest (and has the potential to widen at a fast rate because of the increasing technology). I do not blame Generation Y for this, in fact I blame the older generations for putting in place the scaffold of technology, handing it over without any rules or regulations, and then throwing their hands in despair when the “darker side” is revealed.
On the message board I have been taken to task over a gaffe I made. I was discussing how the older generation is disconnected from generation Y because we fail to understand the technology. My point being that we must learn to understand what it is the kids are doing. To illustrate this point I said “parents don’t know the difference between an Ipod and a USB driver,” duh-da (that’s the negative sound from Family Feud). What I should have said is “USB drive”. What this led to (on the message board) was how “ignorant” and “hopeless” I was. The mistake I made, yep, I got it wrong- it is a drive, not a driver, I can handle that (and won’t make the mistake again) what surprised me was the vitriol with which the comments were made. I wasn’t the only one under attack, in fact the other panellists copped a couple of sharp ones too.
It goes to illustrate how the anonymity of the net allows people to be demeaning and insulting without any regard for the feelings of the other person. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I think the way we deliver it is what’s important.
What my mistake (unintentionally) shows, is actually the point I was making. We, the older generations, don’t have the same understanding of the technology that the kids do. we need to be better connected, we need to learn the technology in order to connect with our kids.
And that surprised me too. How ‘under attack’ the tone of the message board postings were. Like ‘get a clue’, which interestingly enough was what I was saying. I don’t hold Gen Y responsible for what negativity we are seeing- I hold the older generations responsible and think it is us that needs to take action.
Another interesting theme that emerged from the message board was the denial and rejection that there was any negative aspect to digital technology. In particular cyber bullying. The ideas were that because they (the person posting the message)had never had a first hand experience, or didn’t know of anyone who had it therefore didn’t exist. I was surprised by the close- minded and proprietorial approach to digital technology! A debate- or voicing of opinion- only achieves success if you are willing to listen. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your viewpoint and assume another but it means you should be open to other ideas.
Having said that, all negativity aside, I enjoyed the experience (apart from two flights in twenty four hours!!) I really hope that the discussion can generate more ideas about the issues (and not the panellists) and solutions to the problems that so obviously exist.