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It was a great turn out on Tuesday night- despite the wet weather and the Census Epic Fail. About 150 guests turned up to greet Saving Jazz as she enters the world!
My thanks to Catherine Kolomyjec and her team at Sacred Heart for all their work. Peter Bothe ( and Trevor Lynch) for so graciously allowing Sacred Heart to host it. Justin Whitt for an amazing job as the official launcher. Bianca, Zoe, Anthony for their contributions on the night. All of my students who had an input and interest in the development of the novel. Fremantle Press, in particular Cate – for her ongoing support and Naama for her meticulous editing and appreciation of who Jazz is.
And Jasmine Lovely is officially here…
Kris Williams and Norman Jorgensen
The book launch is nearly upon us and the reviews are starting to come out… so far, so good…
Writing WA: Love to Read Local
In Saving Jazz, the lives of Jasmine Lovely and her friends are destroyed after a sexual assault at a party goes viral. The narrative takes us beyond the immediate aftermath of the assault and shows its long-term consequences, as well as the complicated moral landscape Jazz finds herself traversing. The novel deals with gender relations, the power of the internet, and personal responsibility in a comprehensive and compelling way; this is a book that will keep you up all night and keep you thinking for weeks afterwards. Saving Jazz is McCaffrey’s most powerful book yet, and it deserves to be widely read and discussed.
Here it is, my latest novel, and to date, my favourite yet. The novel is written as a blog, from the point of view of Jasmine…
Post 1: In the beginning
My name is Jasmine Lovely, Jazz usually (unlessI’m in trouble), and I’m a rapist. In fact, I’m guilty
of more than just rape but, as my lawyer says, in the interests of judicial fairness, we can’t be prejudicial. It’s hard enough to admit to rape. As a girl, it’s exceptionally hard. People look at you blankly. Not that it’s something I admit to in company, like I just did to you. I don’t normally preface my introductions with that abrupt statement, and I’m not part of a self-help group, where you hold your hand up, state your name, then your addiction, affliction, crime.
But this is the truth. I’m sixteen now, but twelve months ago that is what I did, I raped a girl. Her name was Annie Townshend. I could sound all David Copperfield and say, ‘To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday,’ but I’m not recording this as an act of prosperity. In fact, I’m really just creating this blog to address everything. This platform is where things began, so I guess this is where I set the record straight.
The novel is Jazz looking back on an event that went viral, one that shaped her existence…
This is what Fragments of Life had to say about it…
Jazzmine was a flawed and lovable character. At the beginning of her blog posts, I was able to see a Jazzmine who was determined to fit in well with her peers, at her school and in her community. She tried to be as pleasing as she could be, with her pretty face, her pleasing personality and her high grades. She ran with the popular crowd. She partied hard like the rest of the Greenheads. However, unlike her meaner friends, Jazz actually had a heart. She was really bothered by the way boys viewed girls, like they were objects. She was also bothered by the slut-shaming going on in her school, as manifested in social media platforms Facebook and Snapchat.
Jazzmine’s involvement in the Greenhead party, the night that changed everything, would be an integral albeit painful part of her life. I liked her growth and transformation throughout the book. After the whole thing blew up, Jazzmine’s parents kept her isolated in their home. Jazz felt the distance between her and her parents, as if they couldn’t quite look at her. She also lost her two closest friends, Annie, the victim, and Jack, her longtime best friend. She felt alone in all of the chaos and the roller coaster of emotions. I liked how Jazz took the long but difficult road after the incident. She tried to fix her life and get back on track, even if the road itself was already crumbling to dust. Through it all, she has matured and could then look at the world from a different perspective.
I liked how friendship was discussed and dissected in Saving Jazz, especially between Jazz and Jack and between Jazz and Annie. Jazz and Jack have been friends for years, since the first day of Jazzmine at her new school. Jack has been with her through the good times and the bad times. He held her hand during her first period. He defended her when someone picked on her. Jack was a constant in her life, always there by her side. As Jack and Jazz grew up, things started to change. I really loved how the author dissected Jazz and Jack’s friendship through all the things they have been through.
Frank was one of the reasons why I liked this book so much. He was a cheerful, charming and handsome barista. He was the love interest. Although he was just found in small scenes, I found his presence in the book to be overwhelmingly inspiring. He worked at Chicco, the best coffee shop in the area. As a coffee lover myself, who has spent hours and hours in cafes, I enjoyed the sections with Frank and Jazz in the coffee shop. It was a breather from all the heavy emotional, guilt-stricken plot. The author balanced out the good and the bad with enough charm and humor.
In the end, I gave Saving Jazz 4.5 cupids because I was beginning to forget some of the small details of the book a few days after reading the novel. Saving Jazz is a gritty, suspenseful contemporary that delves into the side of humanity that is linked and almost always submerged in the waters of social media. Although I knew what was supposed to happen, as Jazzmine took us back to the past with her blog posts, the author managed to keep me sitting at the edge of my seat, with goosebumps on my arms and my heart accelerating. It was a quick read that had me immersed and lost into Jazzmine’s world. The writing was hypnotic and the plot was fluid. There was never a dull moment. I felt like I was riding an almost never ending roller coaster of emotions, zooming through the feeling of being betrayed, guilt, love, loss and the sense of being broken. I highly recommend it to readers of contemporary (particularly Australian contemporary), readers who are looking for pop culture references and a more modern take on realistic stories, and readers who are looking for books that tackle relationships.
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!!)
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!
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????
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.