I'll be guest speaker at the
NATIONAL COUNCIL WOMEN WA BOOK CLUB lunch this Wednesday, 19 June 2013
at Rod Evans Community Centre, corner Hay and Plain Streets, Perth.
Last weekend I returned to my birthplace, the no-longer-little town of Donnybrook, to talk about my book, Finding Jasper. Much has changed and, not surprisingly, there were far more new faces at my talk than old.
While wandering around my host’s beautiful property the following day, I ran into a medley of butterflies milling around the garden. They were immediately recognisable, their black, white and orange patterned wings striking against the surrounding greenery. They were, of course, those fellow 'wanderers', the Monarchs, I had been reading about recently and they were playing hard-to-get. They couldn’t seem to make up their minds what they were supposed to be doing. Basking for a few seconds on a blossom or a leaf, then flitting here and there in all directions as if half-drunk. Perhaps they were confused, the sudden onset of winter being disguised by the warmth of the sun and the strong Autumn colours yet to fall.
At last one was captured, photographed and then duly freed. Always one for making connections, I was reminded of two great novels I had the privilege of reading this year. Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, which I wrote about in March, and Amanda Curtin’s recently released Elemental both feature live Monarchs as a subject of biological observation as well as a metaphor for human behaviour.
Whereas the Monarchs are, from the very first page, the dominating issue in Flight Behaviour, they appear only fleetingly as a motif in Elemental, with the author saving her focus until their final release at the end.
There are more parallels yet to come. Both novels revolve around impoverished young women who live in the confinement of small, uneducated communities where old customs, rituals and insularity prevail. Both protagonists are redheaded; both predictably are social outcasts. In the case of Curtin’s young fisher girl, Meggie Tulloch, just the colour of her hair is, by some weird local superstition, cause enough to have her cursed.
It is not just their red hair that distinguishes these young women in their grim and wretched lives; there is an inner fire and intelligence that energizes them in their daily struggle, fueling a desire to escape to a better world beyond.
I kiss the air. It spins around me with the rush of something new, something that is white and clean and so real that I can touch it with my fingertips, feel it on my lips, on the skin of my face. It gusts through my hair, pulling it at the roots, and I am breathing it into me, this wondrous something new. And suddenly I know that I will never be the same again because I have felt freedom in my lungs.
But as Ginger Meggie quickly discovers, this new world, the world of herring, is almost as confining and defining as the last.
Soon it is all I am: red, wet, salted gutted, blood in my eyes, scales on my skin. Fish hauled from water into air and struggling to find a way to breathe …
The more pages that we turn, the more our hearts go out to Meggie, feeling her pain, her unrelenting anguish and oppression; always urging her on.
The years pass and life continues to turn its innumerable cycles despite the changes in Meggie’s life. Even when she marries and lands safely on her feet in Fremantle on the other side of the world, still she finds that love and happiness are as elusive as any common butterfly.
The stories and settings of these two 'butterfly books' are vastly different but certain similarities can be noted when you place them spine-to-spine.
Amanda Curtin writes exquisitely. Now that Elemental is on the shelves, she will soon be up there with Kingsolver. Curtin’s strength lies in the power and music of her language, her various evocations of time and place. Just as rich and convincing is the author’s ability to create a character, and the unforgettable voice and resilience of Meggie Tulloch drawing in her family and the reader hook, line and sinker.
I will giving a talk in my hometown, Donnybrook, Western Australia.
Friday, 7 June 2013, 2 pm
Donnybrook Community Library
Looking forward to seeing old faces and new faces.
SMALL PUBLISHERS ARE AN AUTHOR'S BEST FRIEND
Saturday, 1 June, 3-4 PM at ABBOTSFORD CONVENT
I will be appearing in this event with Anna Solding, Kim Lock, and Caroline Wood from Margaret River Press.
Going with a small publisher to produce and promote your work can be an intimate affair– what are the benefits? This unique panel of authors and their small publishers will discuss how small publishers can often show a lot more care when it comes to their writers’ wellbeing and livelihoods.
My publisher, Caroline Wood, and I will be participating in 'A Day of Literary Feasting' organised by the Nedlands Library. This all day event celebrates writing with author talks, workshops and expert tips from professional publishers and writers. For more information and registration visit :http://www.nedlands.wa.gov.au/community-event/day-literary-feasting
Earlier this year Walter Mason wrote a very generous review of Finding Jasper on his blog. At the time he asked me to be a guest writer for his Universal Heart Book Club. It has taken me a while but here is the posting.
I am thrilled that my novel Finding Jasper has been long listed for the 2013 Dobbie Literary Award, a category of "The Kibble Awards" open to Australian women writers.
The long listed authors will be announced on Thursday 11 April at 9am.
The short listed authors will be contacted in the coming month and will be announced to the public on Wednesday 5 June. The winners of both the Kibble Literary Award and the Dobbie Literary Award will be announced on Wednesday 24 July.
Congratulations to all those long listed for "The Kibble Awards".
After writing a lovely review of Finding Jasper, Aussie expat and London journalist, Kim Forrester, very kindly asked me to be her "Triple Choice Tuesday" guest writer on her blog. This was to coincide with her focus on Australian literature for the month of April.
My "triple choice" involved writing about a "favourite" book, one that "changed my life", and one that "deserved a wider audience". Read on
Fact and Fiction
Saturday, 18 May 2013, 1.15pm
Chair: Terri-ann White
I'm looking forward to participating on a panel discussing fact, fiction and research with Stephen Daisley (author of Traitor) and Dawn Barker (author of Fractured). For details and festival programme, visit the Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival Facebook page.
A Time and a Place
Friday, 22nd of February
Woolnough Lecture Theatre, UWA
Place is intrinsically linked to the new stories created by Toni Jordan, Lynne Leonhardt and Zane Lovitt. They consider whether place has taken on the role of a character in their writing.
Chair: Delys Bird
A Postcard from Perth
Sunday, 24th of February
Dolphin Theatre, UWA
Have you ever wondered what early 20th century Perth and its surrounds looked and felt like? Novelists Lynne Leonhardt and Ian Reid, and historian Jenny Gregory bring the Perth of yesteryear vividly to life in their new books.
Chair: Jane Cornes