Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Podcast: Cameron Hindrum talking about this year's Tasmanian Poetry Festival

Remember 'Shaddup You Face' by Joe Dolce? - well, the man's a poet - and he will be at this weekend's Tasmanian Poetry Festival in Launceston. And no, it is not a gimmick.
    The Tasmanian Poetry Festival is about to celebrate its 25th consecutive festival. It is a unique event happening over one weekend in the Launceston (this year 1-3 of October) - and is about the art of poetry and celebrates its form in many guises. There are poets from the North and the South of the state, the mainland and overseas - reading their work at venues around Launceston - and, of course, there is the pinnacle of poetry blood sport, the "hotly contested and bitterly fought out" contest on Saturday.
   Listen to Cameron Hindrum the festival organiser and a poet in his own right talk about the contest and provide some hints on wrangling poets - as well as the details of this weekend's events.

PS It seems that a gamut of poets is the collective noun.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Podcast - click here: Chris Womersley talks about his latest novel 'Bereft,' his reading life and being on the writers festival circuit

by Chris Womersley
Scribe 2010
ISBN 9781921640605 

I can't say too much about Bereft because I could be gushy - but -
This is a wonderful story, gorgeous writing - there's magic, lucidity and pain. It's reminiscent of Murray Bail with its Australian echoes - though it is a universal story.

Quinn Walker returns home after World War One. Home is Flint, a small town in NSW. He fled home as a child, unjustly accused of his little sister's murder. His family believe he was killed in the war.
Sadie Fox is a young orphan waiting for her brother to return from the war, she is persecuted by powerful, yet malevolent people of Flint. She is magical and an innocent with powers.
It is about story telling, siblings, family love that endures  - as well as its dissolution. It tells of the time following World War One - the flu epidemic, resentment against soldiers who lived to tell their tales -
Bereft is being hailed as a gothic novel, though I've not read enough in that genre to label it so.
In the podcast Chris talks about writing the book, his influences and spiritualism (amongst other things).
Have a listen - and I'd love to read your comments.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Book Is Dead. Long Live the book

This article was first published in The Apple, Spring 2010

Like everything else in the entire universe, the book industry is undergoing change.
Right now, these changes are affecting everyone from writers to readers to publishers, designers, PR people and booksellers – and it is possibly the most monumental change in this industry since the Gutenberg press was invented. The latest change, unsurprisingly, has involved the digital world; the internet, social media, E-publishing and the ebook readers that many of us now own.
Amazon recently released some possibly dodgy figures which may or may not show that they are selling more E books than hard covers – and regardless of the veracity of those figures –we are living in a time when we can believe that the ebook is surpassing the solid, tactile, page scented, perfect weighted, nostalgia creating, good old book in sales.
Inside the publishing industry over recent months there have been gargantuan conflicts. Macmillan, one of the world’s biggest publishing houses, pulled all their titles from Amazon during a recent ebook pricing ‘negotiation’ (read: war). Amazon eventually capitulated to the prices demanded by Macmillan. More recently Andrew ‘The Jackal’ Wylie, possibly the world’s best known representative of writers and their estates, has entered the fracas. His stable includes Salman Rushdie, John Updike, Nabokov, and Philip Roth. He created the aptly named company Odyssey Editions to work with Amazon, cut out the publishers and sell ebooks directly to the public. Random House (another large publisher) responded by stating they will no longer do business with Wylie.
Many a reader is left, hands in the air, wondering where our next fix of words could come from, and how we are to administer it. Are we still using eye droppers or is it time to mainline? Amazon and Apple are the main competitors in the Beta versus VHS style battle that is happening with ebook readers. The main sparring partners are Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s Ipad though Sony and even Angus and Robertson with their cheaper ebook reader, the Kobo, are popping up for the odd skirmish on that battlefield. The one thing that seems to be established is the format in which ebooks will be published – Epub.
Supporting the entire industry on their backs with Atlantean poise, are the writers. With the onset of the ebook and reduction in printing and shipping costs, there is a hope that they will be able to take a bigger share of the profits. Writers are also being pushed towards dancing the cyber dance – tweeting, facebooking, maintaining a website and blogging. Ebooks may also change they way they write.
Many writers are embracing these tools, entering into the world of product promotion, the product being themselves, not necessarily their words. There are lots of authors in the twitosphere, John Birmingham, perhaps, being the most prolific. Straddling various genres, David Mitchell, Stephen Fry, PM Newton, and Young Adult writers, Kate Gordon and Penni Russon are some of the others that are actively embracing social networking – and they seem to enjoy it.

Cate Kennedy, on the other hand, has spoken strongly against the need for authors to get their hands dirty in an online sense. Her concerns, while she is not a luddite, are that there is a very fine line between “the blog and the blah,” and that the dedicated time a writer needs to foment and compose their words is being eroded by the push to maintain an online presence. “Toxic,” is the word she used.

The circle then comes around to reviewers and online commentators about books and writing. The rise of the blogger is exponential and as daily circulation of newspapers lessens and literary pages are cut, the online commentary becomes more and more crucial for discussion and promotion of books and writing.

There is no denying that the book industry needs an online presence – and that writers need bloggers and reviewers to help them shift their product. Consumers of words and audiences at literary events seek information online and all of the major literary journals in Australia have blogs. Meanjin and Overland have recently launched a collaborative blog called Meanland, which is looking specifically at reading in an age of change – and it has been shown that participation in the arts online translates directly to increased audiences for arts in the ‘real world.

The Book is Dead. Long Live the Book.

Post Script: Since this article was first published, Andrew Wylie and Random House has declared a truce. Wylie has removed titles by authors including Nabokov, Orhan Pahmuk and John Updike from the Odyssey Editions publishing list, leaving him with just seven titles.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Have you published a book? Tasmanian? Member of the Tasmanian Writers' Centre?

The Tasmanian Writers' Centre is now calling for your books released in 2010 to be included in our major publicity tool for the year, the Tasmanian Writers' Centre Summer Reading Broadsheet.  

Last year's broadsheet was a huge success, promoting more than fifty new books by Tasmanian writers, at no charge to our members.  Around 2000 copies were distributed to the public through the Centre, bookshops, State Libraries, literary events, and major festivals including From France to Freycinet in Swansea and Junction 2010 National Regional Arts conference in Launceston.  

This is a key service for Writers' Centre members*, so if your book was (or will be) released this year, read our guidelines below, and send your information and a copy of your book to us by Thursday 7 October.  We look forward to featuring your work!

Chris Gallagher, 

* join up at http://www.tasmanianwriters.org


What will appear in the broadsheet?
Cover images will be black and white, and printed at a thumbnail size, about 3cm tall by 2 cm wide. Your book title and author's name will 30 words of text will appear beside it. Layout will be similar to last year's broadsheet, copies are still available from the office.

Can I have a larger cover image?
Yes, if you would like a larger cover image, about 5cm tall x 3cm wide, you can have this for $45 payable to the Writers' Centre. 

What if I had more than one book out in 2010?
You can submit a separate cover image and 30-word description for each 2010 book.

What if my book is not out yet?
We can accept material for books which will be released before 31 December.

What do I need to send?
Email to admin@tasmanianwriters.org:
  • Your cover image as a JPEG of 300 dpi, postcard size or larger;  or as a PDF.
  • The book title and author's name.  
  • Up to 30 words of text to promote the book. It can be good to include a short endorsement quote. Your 30 words must include the price and availability details, and exclude the book title and author's name.  
  • A copy of your book for promotional use in the Writers' Centre library, and to allow staff to see your new work. Mail books to the Centre at 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart Tas 7000.  
  • If you would like a larger cover image, specify this in your email and pay $45 to the Centre by Thursday 7 October.

When should I send my material?
Submissions close at 5pm on Thursday 7th October.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Click here: podcast of Ramona Koval chatting about her reading life - and her new book.

I host The Book Show - and Ramona Koval hosts The Book Show. That statement is not as strange as it first may seem. Ramona hosts a daily show on a national broadcaster and I host a weekly one on a local community radio station. She has been broadcasting for around twenty years, I have been broadcasting for three years. Ramona has interviewed the likes of A.S. Byatt, Judith Wright, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison and Mario Vargas Llosa. I have not.
  The authors above are some of the interviews featured in Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers (Scribe 2010). It is a collection of interviews that not only gave me insight into writers, their writing and their stories, it allowed me to slowly interrogate the practice of interviewing.
   I won't write much more - just to let you know that Ramona makes for a gorgeous interviewee. She talks about reading Kafka at age 12,  runs through some tricks for young players, stories from her reading life, her move from science to letters and the importance of curiosity. 
Have a listen - and I'd love to read your comments -

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hobart book related activites that you may like to attend

There are some good lookin' events happening in Hobart over the next week or so -
    Tonight (Wednesday 8th) Michael Veitch will be launching Wasted: the true story of Jim McNeil, violent criminal and brilliant playwright by Ross Honeywell at 5.30 at the Hobart Bookshop.

Ross will also be coming in to the Book Show on Edge Radio on Tuesday, 28th of September to chat about his book - and Jim McNeil.

    Next Monday night Fullers Bookshop's XYZ reading 'community' will be getting together in the Afterword Cafe at Fullers to talk about Raymond Chandler's book Cathedral. XYZ is a unique set up - it diverges from the traditional tea and scones/red wine 'book discussion group' with an invigorated examination of texts.
    Next Wednesday evening (15 September) you'll be ripped to shreds with choices - Warren Boyle is launching a great collection of craftyness - Stephen French's Handmade in Tasmania (published by http://www.fortysouth.com.au/drupal/), the Place and Experience poetry competition results will be announced at The Lark - as part of the Tasmanian Writers' Centre's event - Novelists on Place and Experience - Robyn Mundy and Danielle Wood will be in conversation - I would love to attend this though I can't teleport yet and I'll be in Magnificent Melbourne (yes, it deserves the capitals) - at the launch of Lisa Lang's novel Utopian Man. Lisa won the Vogel prize last year for her unpublished manuscript - and the book has been published by Allan and Unwin.
    The Writers' Centre have also just released their program of workshops for the rest of the year - with some excellent ones on the list - there's one on blogging - check their website for more details.
    On Friday 17th is an event that is garnering a lot of attention - Anna Krien will be in conversation with Amanda Lohrey. Both women have just had books published by Black Inc- Reading Madame Bovary by Amanda- and, the one that has particularly piqued my interest is Anna Krien's exploration of the situation in Tasmania's forests, Into The Woods. This is happening at Fullers Bookshop at 6pm. I will be speaking to Anna on Edge's Book Show on Tuesday 21st - and you'll also be able to listen to a podcast of that interview soon - right here.

    I think I may have missed Shane Crawford in Hobart - he's a footy player and is often referred to as Crawf. (I learn new things all the time) -and he had written a book. I am still, however, dedicated to Chris Judd, because he weaned the Carlton boys off yellow food and taught them how to eat a salad.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Podcast - Children's Book Week

Children's Book Week is an annual event that is celebrates, not very surprisingly, children's books. For me, it used to mean getting dressed up. Not in a sparkly dress kind of way, but getting dressed up as a character in a book.
Here's a photo of me dressed as the Queen of Hearts, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

Children's Book Week is organised by The Children's Book Council of Australia and this year was the 65th. That makes it the longest running children's festival in the entire country. Happy 65th, Children's Book Week.
    Prizes are awarded in various categories to authors of childen's books. I remember when Victor Kelleher won for Master of the Grove. That was in 1983, the same year that Pamela Allen's Who Sank The Boat won the award for Best Picture Book. It is hard not to get nostalgic when reading the lists of the winners from when I was little- the lists have made memories tumble back into view. Memories of the corner of the school library I liked to read in, the embossed golden stickers on the prize winning books, how reading made me feel then - and I feel warmed to write that reading still does the same thing.
    My Mum taught me how to read before I went to school - she is very proud of this - and I am so grateful to her for the time and energy spent. Thanks Mum - you set me on a career trajectory at age four.When I meet parents who talk about their child's love of reading I feel so relieved for the parents and excited for the child - so many worlds and so much learning awaits.
    When you listen to this post's podcast you will hear these young people talking about "all the secrets that you never find out til the end," "the words and the enjoyment of reading," "the exciting adventures" and "imagining things that usually don't happen - and "that you can get included in someone else's life" - they're talking about books and reading in their young lives.
They're reading Deltora Quest, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the perennial Harry Potter, Septimus Heap - new and exciting writing for young people that I've not read. They're also reading Christobel Mattingley, who I read and loved. It's glorious to think that the charts for their reading lives are created as they go - and that no two are the same, though there will be many similar passages - as well as some profound divergence.
oh - and here are this year's winners.
PS A massive thank you to Emma, Renee, Jess, Jess, Lilly, Hannah, Maggie and April - for being so generous with their reading lives - and for starring on Edge Radio's Book Show:

Paige Turner November

  Edging towards the end of the year and towards summer, towards Christmas and all it allows us to manifest. Good luck and good sleeps to ...