Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brisbane Writers Festival:

What a busy festival! My workshop "So you want to be an author" went very well and the feedback suggests that those attending are better prepared for a writing career now. That's always a pleasing result for me.
On Thursday, I chaired a very interesting conversation between Rod Morrison, publisher of Picador, and Judith Lanigan, who received an ASA Mentorship in 2007. Judith's book will be published by Picador next year. This was a really useful session for those who attended. They were able to gain an insight into the evolution of a book and the processes that go into its writing.
On the Saturday, Dr Anita Heiss, chair of the ASA and author of Avoiding Mr Right (Random House -- it's a funny, entertaining read) presented a compelling case for what is Australian literature in a debate chaired by Kerry Kilner of AustLit and featuring Madonna Duffy of UQP, author Matt Condon, and Rosemary Sorenson of the Australian. A great debate which you can follow on Anita's blog.
I was also pleased to catch up with Libby Gleeson (her new book is Mahtab's Story from Allen & Unwin and in its fourth reprint), the wonderful Kate Grenville who was launching her new book The Lieutenant (Text), Terri-ann White, publisher at University of Western Australia Press, as well as many aother ASA members, including the winner of the Prime Minister's Prize for Fiction, Stephen Conte. I was able to congratulate him again in person. His book The Zookeeper's War (HarperCollins) is in the pile on my bedside table and I'm looking forward to getting to it. I'm a little overwhelmed by non-fiction at present though as I'm a judge for the Walkley non-fiction book award.
One book I have got to is Narrelle M. Harris's The Opposite of Life (Pulp Fiction Press), which is a fabulous (literally!) vampire mystery set in Melbourne. Yes, it all works together to make a terrific read if you like contemporary vampire books set in Melbourne -- and who doesn't? Pulp Fiction Press is a new Brisbane publisher and its first two books set very high standards. Good luck to Ron Serdiuk and Diane Waters and their team!
The relocation of the BWF to the State Library of Queensland was a good one. And hats off to the State Library of Queensland Bookshop, which did a great job offering the books of the writers at the festival to the attending crowds. I hope for their sake that sales were robust.

Power to the People: The legacies of 1968

I am excited to be featured at this conference sponsored by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Wollongong, the Gramsci Society (Asia-Pacific), the Illawarra Branch of the Australian Labour History Society, Wollongong University Undergraduate Students’ Association, the South Coast Labour Council on Thursday and Friday, October 2-3, 2008.
Venue: Room 5, Communications Centre (opposite Library and Coffee Shop) University of Wollongong. I am speaking on Thursday 2 October:
The Student Movement: Peter Cockcroft, Ron Witton, Tim Dobson, Jeremy Fisher. I'm specifically speaking about Gay Liberation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to tell your father to drop dead: Southerly 68.2 (October)

Southerly will be publishing my short story "How to tell your father to drop dead" in volume 68, no. 2, due out in October. The issue is edited by Debra Adelaide and John Dale, and has a focus on the short story as narrative form. I was humbled to be selected in this collection, which also includes works by, just as examples, Kathryn Heyman, Paddy O'Reilly, Derek Motion, Michael Wilding and Mandy Sayer.
Southerly is available from all good bookshops as well as by subscription.
I was very saddened to hear that editorial assitant to Southerly, Pat Skinner, died suddenly while this issue was in production. One of her stories is also included in the issue.
I've only seen the proofs so far, but there's great reading in this issue so don't miss it.

UTS Writers network at the Hughenden Hotel: Blood Shall Have Blood (Picador India)

On Saturday 6 September, in atrocious Sydney weather, I made my way to that artistic oasis, the Hughenden Hotel, in Sydney's Woollahra to give a talk to the UTS Writers Network. I spoke to the group, which is a UTS alumni inititiative (and I am a UTS alumni myself) on professional issues I felt they needed to consider for the development of their careers as writers.
These days the need for authors to present and market themselves as "brand names" is crucial to their success and sustainability. The ASA's professional development program offers assistance in this area. One of the attendees at the Hughenden (in fact its gracious co-host) is my freind Suzanne Gervay, who was one of the presenters at a recent successful ASA professional development seminar titles "The author as brand name".
I also spoke about the need to authors to raise their profiles through websites and engagement in social networking sites.
The attendees, reduced in number because of the bad weather, listened very attentively and asked a number of pertinent and revealing questions afterwards.
The UTS Writers Alumni Network is run by Sharon Rundle, who also operates Round Table Writing from her home in the Hunter Valley. She's dedicated to the UTS group. Her four wheel drive had to be towed out of the mud so she could make it to Sydney.
Sharon is also dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness between writers in different countries, particularly India. With respected author and academic Meenakshi Bharat, Sharon has edited Blood Shall Have Blood, a collection of narrative fiction that looks at how terrorism impacts on normal life. Picador India is publishing it November 2008.
I'm delighted to have my contribution "The Liberation Centre" included in the book, which also includes works by far more significant authors including Sir Salmon Rushdie, Thomas Keneally, David Malouf and Susanne Gervay.
As I write, the book is still without an Australian publisher, despite the stellar list of contributors (oops -- this makes me think that maybe I'm the problem!).
Look out for the book anyway.
Suzanne, Sharon and I will be making a big fuss about it.
And if you are a UTS alumnus in Writing, check out the Network and do yourself some good!

Friday, September 5, 2008

ASA Donates $3078 to Indigenous Literacy Project

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) announced today it had donated $3078 – one dollar for each of its members – to the Indigenous Literacy Project.

“The lack of literacy in Indigenous communities is a major problem for Australia,” said Dr Jeremy Fisher, ASA Executive Director. “We are by no means a rich organisation, but we want help resolve this problem. We are fortunate to be the heir to the literary estates of Mouni Sadhu and Dal Stivens. We’re certain both these authors would appreciate their bequests being used in this manner. We want ALL Australian children to be equally literate so as they can live complete lives, inclusive of being able to read and enjoy the wonderful books created by our members.”

Individual members of the ASA have been key players in the Project. ASA Chair Dr Anita Heiss is an Ambassador for the project along with members Alexis Wright, Kate Grenville and Andy Griffiths. As well, many other members have been actively engaged with events organised around Indigenous Literacy Day.

The Committee of Management of the ASA voted unanimously to make the donation at its meeting of 9 August. The Indigenous Literacy Project is a joint initiative of the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Australian Booksellers Association and the Australian Publishers Association.

For more information about bequests to the ASA, see

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brisbane Writers festival: Judith Lanigan/ASA members workshop

I'll be chairing a session Judith Lanigan's True History of the Hula Hoop: From mentorship to publication at the Brisbane Writers' Festival at 10.30 am on 18 September 2008. Circus performer Judith Lanigan (Miss Judy) had written the first draft of her book intertwining the history of the hula hoop, the true story of the Great Clown Kidnapping of 1572 and her own adventures as a contemporary hula hoopist when she successfully applied for an Australian Society of Authors mentorship. I talk to Judith and her publisher, Rod Morrison of Picador, about how the mentorship led to publication. Includes a short performance by Miss Judy. The event is free and open to members and the public.

On Friday 19 September the ASA is presenting a seminar for members on Legal Matters. I'll be running the seminar. All you need to know about publishing contracts, copyright, defamation and other matters pertinent to earning your living as a professional author. Members need to book and register on the ASA website or by calling the ASA on 02 9318 0877. The seminar is $82.50 for members.

On Saturday 20 September I'll be presenting again my popular seminar "So you want to be an author" at the Brisbane Writers Festival at 2 pm. This event has sold out at the Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Byron Bay and Darwin Writers' Festivals. Do you have a work in progress and not much experience with the publishing world? This workshop will put your writing into a broader perspective and give you an insight into the issues that will affect you. My comprehensive overview covers: the economic background to being a professional writer in Australia, how the publishing industry in Australia works, copyright and contracts, knowing your market and tips for getting published. Come along to this vital workshop for up-to-date information on a range of matters of interest to authors. Maximum 24 participants. This is open to the public and ASA members. ASA members receive a discount of $10 off the full price of $60. Bookings (which are essential) should be made through the Brisbane Writers festival.