Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paris and tiddas with Anita Heiss


I chatted with Anita Heiss today, before she arrives in Hobart this weekend to launch her new book. Admittedly, as I dialled her number for the interview - which you can listen to in full here - I felt a little in awe of everything this high achieving, high profile, intelligent lecturer in Indigenous literature and Wiradjuri woman could bring to the interview - and she was gorgeous, down to earth, garrulous (in a good way) and generous with her thoughts and opinions. Ostensibly we were to talk about her new book - a Koori chick-lit novel called Paris Dreaming.
  In reality our conversation roved from writing methods - she is a method writer - "I had to go to Paris, I had to stroll along the Champs Elysses and I had to eat a lot of macaroons," to Aunty Patsy Cameron, whose new book Grease and Ochre (Fullers Publishing) she will launch in a double celebration this Sunday at Fullers Bookshop at 1pm -as Patsy launches Paris Dreaming. "Grease and Ochre will contribute to a growing core of Indigenous literature coming out of Tasmania," Anita said as we chatted about the Indigenous Literacy Project, for which she is an ambassador.
  Paris Dreaming is published by Bantam and tells the story of Libby, who has a high powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra and who is on a "man-fast," only to  find herself working at the Musee du Quai Branly en Paris (excuse my accent) and faced with the vissicitudes of flirtatious baristas and smooth-tongued lotharios. Yep, it's chick-lit through and through - it's a tested and proved formula and it's good fun to read. Chick-lit attracts the vast majority of female readers between the ages of 18-45, and, as Anita says "32% of indigenous people live in urban centres, but there is no one that looks like me on the page."
  We also talked about tiddas, which is an Aboriginal word that crosses state and in some cases language lines and it's my favourite new word. It's used in Victoria and NSW and it means friends, and in Paris Dreaming, it's Libby's tiddas who are there for her. It made me think of my tiddas with appreciation
- and it was also was the name of this gorgeous group of female singers who came out of Victoria in the nineties.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Old news and new

Dear blog,
    it has been so long since I last wrote in you. A lot has been going on and I'm not really sure where to start, but you are not a diary and I will be methodical. I had a gorgeous, gorgeous Summer with my adorable friends and (mostly) adorable family. I have read some good, some bad and some downright ugly books (a paradox of working with one of the things I love most in the world).
Christmas was crazy (job numero uno involves selling books - and pre-Christmas retail from the 'other' side of the counter is not the most desirous of pastimes). My sister was here from the UK - she works in a museum which sounds amazing. She also, I have discovered, does some guest blogging at the London Happiness Project usng the name Pippalippa, which is not her real name but it is very close.
  I have a new job as Emerging Editor of Islet an online journal of micro fiction and visual art which is part of Island magazine. I'm enthused, excited and inspired - and will blog about the process here.
  In Hobart, my (non possessive) amazing city perched on the edge of the earth, a grand and curatorially mindblowing museum opened -it's MONA and I'm embarrassed to say that the closest I've got to it so far was the cattleclass shenanigans of the opening party and while I may have accidentally crashed the VIP area I am yet to wade through the bowels of the museum proper. MONAFOMA rocked my mid January world - seeing and hearing Neil Gaiman reading a story was the highlight.
I sat, entranced, as if I were on the mat in grade two being read to by the teacher- though this time it was in a huge shed, with a beer in my hand and surrounded by grown ups - and he was accompanied by Four Play, a sexy string quartet and there were large images from Eddie Campbell projected as a captivating backdrop.

    I have conversed with some gorgeous, informed and inspiring people on The Book Show on Edge Radio - last year the show ended up with a grand turntabley bang - when Dale and Michael from Arcade Publications interviewed me. Others who I've chatted with on the radio so far this year include Anjum Hasan, Maris Morton, Posie Graeme-Evans, Ivy Alvarez and Danielle Wood . Accordingly, I am way behind with podcast uploads. Stay tantalised crew, the podcasts will cyber-fest (like manifest though in cyberspace) any day now.
Over Summer I also read the Edith Grossman translation of Don Quixote - though that's a whole 'nother post. I also did a digital publishing course and learnt some new things. 

  It was a fantastic summer. I even got the flu and scored three whole days in bed (I rarely get sick and even more rarely afford myself the opportunity to stay in bed for three whole days - watching DVDs and drinking orange juice, better still).

Excellent things are still going on - and here is what is coming up over the next week alone -
We are full-flight into Ten Days On the Island - Tasmania's biennial arts festival Next weekend, as part of Ten Days, is the Home Truths Literary festival - lots of discussions about books, about writing and about ideas - something that I hope will make all of our heads hurt just a little bit and in a good way as we have our minds stretched and entertained.
  In the lead up to the announcement of the weirdly organised Tasmanian Book Prizes, Fullers Bookshop is hosting all of the nominated authors and publishers reading over three nights later this week - here's a link to the full details. Also at Fullers on Sunday, April 3 at 1pm is the launch of both Patsy Cameron's Grease and Ochre  and Anita Heiss' new Koori Chck-lit Paris Dreaming. Next Sunday is also the day of the launch of the latest edition of Islet and I will be there celebrating with the incumbent Emerging Editor, the capable Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, whose patience and wit is making the job handover entertaining AND informative. That's at the Town Hall at midday and will also be the launch of the latest edition of Island
  Next Friday, April 1 at 5.30 at the Hobart Bookshop is the launch of David Owen's latest Detective Pufferfish novels How The Dead See. One of my earliest ever blog posts was a review of an earlier Pufferfish No Weather For a Burial.
Phew. I hope to see you round the traps- and I'd love to hear what you're reading or if you know of any other exciting book or word related events.

A short piece on publishing in Tasmania

A long time ago I picked up a copy of Christopher Koch’s award winning novel The Doubleman from my parent’s shelves. It was the first time...