Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

Title: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club)

Author: Monique Mulligan

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Pilyara Press

Published: 18th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 340

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A life-shattering tragedy threatens to tear apart chef Amy Bennet’s marriage. Desperate to save it, she moves with her husband Matt to Blackwood, a country town where no one knows who they are.

Forced to deal with her crumbling marriage and the crippling grief that follows her wherever she goes, Amy turns to what she knows best: cooking. She opens a café showcasing regional seasonal produce, and forms the Around the World Supper Club, serving mouth-watering feasts to new friends. As her passion for food returns, she finds a place for herself in Blackwood. But when a Pandora’s Box of shame and blame is unlocked, Matt gives Amy an ultimatum that takes their marriage to the edge.

Rich with unexpected characters and extraordinary insight, Wherever You Go is a powerful and ultimately uplifting tale of heartbreaking loss, recovery, and redemption.

~*~

Amy and Matt have moved to Blackwood to escape the vicious whispers and rumours that have plagued them for the past three years. They’re hoping Blackwood will be a new start as they try to reconnect. Yet their marriage is crumbling as Amy tries to navigate her fears, her grief, and her new café, Brewed to Taste. Here, she starts to make friends: Devi, Nick, Bonnie, Irene, and Irene’s great-granddaughter, Ashlee, June, Frank and several others. They form the Around the World Supper Club, and for a while, things seem okay.

Until local gossips, Una and her daughter Sharon, unleash Pandora’s Box – and humiliate Amy, undoing all the hard work. Despite the support everyone else gives Amy, allowing her to talk about what happened when she is ready, Matt threatens to leave. Three years ago, Amy had been in a car accident in Germany, where her daughter, Pandora, died. Amy has run from the secrets and innuendo, the accusations, and finds herself facing them head on in Blackwood.

Most books revolving around a relationship are about the couple getting together, the first delightful sparks of a new romance. The ups and downs, the magic of the first kiss. Usually, these books end with a happily ever after, fading to black as readers imagine the couple together forever. Very rarely do we find out what happens after. The what happens after, and what leads to a family or friends fracturing is sometimes more interesting. A tragedy, perhaps, has created a rift.

This is the premise of Monique Mulligan’s debut novel, Wherever You Go, the first in the Around the World Supper Club series. Wherever You Go introduces the key characters, but mainly revolves around Amy and Matt settling into life in Blackwood and finding a way back to each other and their lives together. It is a touching look at friendship, family, grief and loss, and how people recover and work towards redemption, even if this redemption is insular, and something they need to do for themselves, not for society or legal reasons.

Monique has created a powerful and touching story that gives hope, makes you shed tears and sends readers on a roller coaster of emotions as they go on Amy and Matt’s journey. The book is told in three perspectives: Irene, Matt and Amy. We see the world through their eyes, experience their emotions and their reactions. It doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of depression and anxiety, or the frustrations that some people feel when faced with this. It allows for all characters to express themselves and slowly, come to terms with what is going on in a powerful, emotive and significant way that acknowledges that grief affects everyone differently.

This debut novel is beautiful in its execution, raw and powerful. It allows readers to acknowledge their own anxieties and worries, and centres female experiences, characters and autonomy whilst at the same time, allowing Irene, Bonnie and Amy to who they are within what they want in their lives and society.

Books and Bites Book Bingo Wherever You Go

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

One of the squares in Books and Bites book bingo with Monique Mulligan was Wherever You Go, her debut novel in the Around the World Supper Club series. Monique kindly sent me a copy to review, and it is linked here. When I first saw this bingo card, I wondered what this square could mean, and it turned out to be a specific book, but the topic had me wondering if it meant something else and was open to interpretation.

This powerful story of grief and redemption is beautifully written, very evocative and delves into themes that people don’t often talk about, or sometimes, want to talk about. It is about a marriage after the happily ever after – and how tragedy can alter someone’s life, and moving past this, if they can. My review for the 18th of September goes into more depth.  

I have now completed three rows in this challenge and have five books left to read – with a couple chosen, but I still need to read them.

Books and Bites Bingo

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)  

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

Eco-themes: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

A Neil Gaiman book:

Short story collection: Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen app

Published the year you were born:

Makes you blush: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn            

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Scary: The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love

Someone you love’s fave book:

Made into a TV Series:

A title longer than five words: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Fave childhood book:

August 2020 Wrap Up

In August, I read twenty-one books. Thirteen were written by Australian Women Writers, and all contributed to my challenges across the board. Several were part of series, and many were review books. Some I had been looking forward to, and one from Scholastic Australia, by comedian Rove McManus was a surprise arrival, and one that I found enthralling and engaging. Some challenges are almost finished, and I am hoping I will be able to complete them by the end of the year.

Notable posts:

Isolation Publicity with Tanya Heaslip

Isolation Publicity with Caz Goodwin

Isolation Publicity with Angela Savage

Isolation Publicity with Jacqueline Harvey

Isolation Publicity with Candice Lemon-Scott

Isolation Publicity with Zana Fraillon

Literary Tourism: Travel in the time of COVID

I read a few diverse books this month as well. It’s always hard to choose favourites, but I really loved The Wolves of Greycoat Hall by Lucinda Gifford, The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner and The Firestar: A Maven and Reeve Mystery by A.L. Tait – these were ones that really stuck with me and that I wanted to read again immediately. Looking forward to another productive month in September!

The Modern Mrs Darcy 11/12
AWW2020 – 91/25
Book Bingo – 12/12
The Nerd Daily Challenge 48/52
Dymocks Reading Challenge 23/25
Books and Bites Bingo 19/25
STFU Reading Challenge: 10/12
General Goal –150/165

August – 21

Book Author Challenge
Lapse Sarah Thornton Reading Challenge, AWW2020
A Monstrous Heart

 

Claire McKenna Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar

 

Clara Vulliamy Reading Challenge
Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar on TV Clara Vulliamy Reading Challenge
The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence Katrina Nannestad Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne Katrina Nannestad Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Moonflower Murders Anthony Horowitz Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge
Piranesi Susanna Clarke Reading Challenge
Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie Fin J Ross Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Rocky Lobstar: Time Travel Tangle Rove McManus Reading Challenge,
House of Dragons Jessica Cluess Reading Challenge
The Firestar (A Maven and Reeve Mystery) A.L. Tait Reading Challenge, AWW2020
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea Maggie Tokuda-Hall Reading Challenge
The Wolves of Greycoat Hall Lucinda Gifford Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Daughter of Victory Lights Kerri Turner Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Jinxed! The Curious Curse of Cora Bell Rebecca McRitchie Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell Rebecca McRitchie Reading Challenge, AWW2020
When the Ground is Hard Malla Nunn Reading Challenge, AWW2020, STFU Reading Society – Victorian Premier’s Literary Award –
Winner Best Young Adult Literature, Los Angeles Times Book Prize 2020 US; Shortlisted Best Book for Older Readers, CBCA Awards 2020 AU; Highly Commended Best Young Adult Novel, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2020 AU

 

Aussie Kids: Meet Dooley on the Farm Sally Odgers and Christina Booth Reading Challenge, AWW2020
Aussie Kids: Meet Matilda at the Festival Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern and Tania McCartney Reading Challenge, AWW2020
A Girl Made of Air Nydia Hetherington Reading Challenge, The Nerd Daily Challenge

Aussie Kids: Meet Dooley on the Farm by Sally Odgers and Christina Booth

meet dooley on the farmTitle: Aussie Kids: Meet Dooley on the Farm

Author: Sally Odgers and Christina Booth

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 1st September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: Aussie Kids is an exciting new series for emerging readers 6-8 years.

From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state and territory in Australia.8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states and territories!

Come on an adventure with Aussie Kids and meet Dooley from Tasmania.

Hi! I’m Dooley! My cousin is visiting our farm.

We’ll swim in the river, feed the calves and collect berries. But best of all, we’re going to sleep out in the barn!

~*~

Dooley is excited that his cousin, Sienna, is coming to his farm in Tasmania. He can’t wait to show her everything he loves, but when she arrives, she keeps saying the everything pongs! How will Dooley convince her that the farm isn’t as pongy as she thinks?

AWW2020

This is the seventh in the Aussie Kids series, and I’ve read six of them so far. They celebrate the diversity of Australia, from each state and territory, across gender, race and communities, as well as the environs that the characters live in. These short stories are delightful, and Dooley’s story brings farm life in Tasmania to life, and the adventures of sleeping in the barn and renegade animals from neighbouring farms.

Where the previous stories have taken place over one day this one takes place overnight, evoking a sense of fun and unease in a gentle way that kids will relate to and enjoy. The beauty of these books is in the simple way they evoke emotion and setting for younger readers who are starting to learn to read or reading independently. Whilst we only see a small portion of each state or territory, it is a relevant section to the character and what the setting means to them, which fits in with the theme of the series and what it is aiming to achieve for readers.

A great addition to this series!

Aussie Kids: Meet Matilda at the Festival by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern, and Tania McCartney

meet matildaTitle: Aussie Kids: Meet Matilda at the Festival

Author: Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern, and Tania McCartney

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 1st September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: Aussie Kids is an exciting new series for emerging readers 6-8 years.

From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state and territory in Australia.

8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states and territories!

Come on an adventure with Aussie Kids and meet Matilda from the ACT.

Hi! I’m Matilda!

Today there’s a festival at the Japanese Embassy. That’s where my friend Hansuke lives. We’ll have lots of fun. But Hansuke is going back to Japan soon. How will I be able to say goodbye?

~*~

The final book in this series takes us to Canberra, and the world of embassies and Parliament, seen through the eyes of a child. Matilda is friends with the son of the Japanese Ambassador. But Hansuke is about to move back to Japan, and Matilda must say goodbye to her friend at a special Japanese festival at the embassy. She will miss him forever, and wonders if she can say goodbye.

AWW2020Most of the other books in this series are told in first person, but this one is told in third person, and has a few days with relevant time jumps to make the passing of time and major plot points work well for kids, and the characters. Like many of the other books in the series, Meet Matilda at the Festival is filled with diverse characters, and celebrates different nationalities and cultures, and the power of friendship. It evokes the same emotions we all had as kids when we had to say goodbye to friends, and the realistic way Matilda reacts will give comfort to kids that they are not alone when they farewell friends or go through changes in their lives.

With this book, the breadth of Australia and its diversity has been represented, and hopefully, all kids will have found something they can relate to in these books, whether its location, culture, race, or the activities the characters enjoy, and the universal feelings we all have linked to friendship and family.

The beauty of these books is in the simple way they evoke emotion and setting for younger readers who are starting to learn to read or reading independently. Whilst we only see a small portion of each state or territory, it is a relevant section to the character and what the setting means to them, which fits in with the theme of the series and what it is aiming to achieve for readers.

A great addition to this series!

 

Isolation Publicity with Candice Lemon-Scott

 

Due to recent events, many Australian authors have had to cancel book launches and festival appearances. For some, this means new novels, series continuations and debut novels are heading into this scary, strange world without much publicity or attention. The good news is, you can still buy books – online or get your local bookstore to deliver if they’re offering that service. Buying these books, talking about them, sharing them, reading them, reviewing them – are all ways that for the next six months at least, we can ensure that these books don’t fall by the wayside.

EcoRangers1_email signature[3]

Over the next few months, a lot of us will be consuming some form of art – entertainment, movies, TV, radio, music, books – the list goes on. It is something we will be turning to take our minds off things and to occupy vast swathes of free time. One of the things I will be doing to support the arts, and specifically, Australian Authors, will be reading and reviewing as many books as possible, conducting interviews like this where possible, and participating in virtual book tours for authors.

 

In my final Isolation Publicity interview, wrapping up five months of work, I speak to Candice Lemon-Scott, author of the Eco-Rangers books, was lucky enough to release the third Eco-Rangers book pre-pandemic lockdown, but had other events and appearances cancelled or put on hold. Candice’s series focuses on eco themes for children in an accessible way. I first came to know her books through my job as a quiz writer and have planned to go back and read them all. Candice appears here to discuss her books, her writing and what she hopes Eco-Rangers teaches kids.

Hi Candice, and welcome to The Book Muse

  1. The first time I heard of your books was when I was sent one of the Eco-Rangers books – Microbat Mayhem – to write a quiz on for work with Scholastic Australia – what is the basic premise of Eco-Rangers for those who don’t know it, and where did the idea come from?

How lovely, it’s always wonderful to hear how people get to know my books.  The Eco Rangers books are about two adventurous, nature-loving friends, Ebony and Jay, who help rescue and look after sick and injured wildlife, with a little help from the local wildlife hospital vets. They also get involved in solving environmental mysteries. The idea came from my own love of nature and wildlife, and the Eco Rangers are based on my own kids who love animals too. The idea of kids who help rescue wildlife stemmed from my own experience rescuing a koala from my backyard. I’ve always loved mystery stories, so it seemed only natural to tie it in with an environmental adventure.

  1. What do you hope Eco-Rangers teaches, or inspires readers to do?

I hope the Eco Rangers books teach kids about some of our amazing animals and inspires readers to care for and love nature and wildlife, as well as enjoy the adventures.

  1. Eco-Rangers is aimed at junior to middle grade readers – what is the appeal to this age group, and do any of your other books target this readership?

I love writing for this age group because it’s the age I was most connected with my own imagination as a child. It’s also a time of discovery, curiosity and learning to become more independent, which is a wonderful base for storytelling. Most of my books fit within this readership range, from my Little Rockets titles at the junior end to Eco Rangers and Jake in Space in the middle, and Stinky Ferret & the JJs at the upper end.

  1. Have any new books in the series, another series or stand-alone books been released in recent months, and what have they been?

The third in this series, ‘Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue’ was released in January this year.

  1. Have you had to cancel any appearances, events or launches due to the COVID-10 pandemic, and which of these were you most looking forward to?

Thankfully, I’d already launched my third Eco Rangers book, but a lot of my other appearances and events around the promotion of the series have been either cancelled or postponed, which is sad and disappointing when books have a short shelf life. I look forward to all events where I have the opportunity to connect with my readers, but I will really miss the school visits and Romancing the Stars event, as that one is usually held here in my home city at the Gold Coast.

  1. Following on from the last question, have you adapted any of these events or workshops to an online form for the time being?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve already done one online author visit with a school and there are other upcoming workshops and presentations that will also be conducted online. It’s not the same as being there in person, but the teachers and parents have been very grateful for the technology to keep their kids connected while at home, which is so rewarding.

  1. What genres and styles do you mostly like to combine and use in your writing for children?

I write in quite a range of genres including magic, science fiction, environmental and realistic fiction, but the commonality is a mystery element. I can’t help myself – I grew up on mysteries, so I just love including elements of surprise and adventure.

  1. Do you find that writing different styles and genres, and for different age groups keeps your writing process fresh?

For sure, I’m not someone who enjoys writing the same style and genre, or age group all the time because I like change and variety. To me, it’s also about the idea first, and the rest stems from that, so naturally the type of story varies.

  1. When it comes to research, how in-depth do you go, and how much never makes it into the books?

I always start out thinking not much research will be involved, but inevitably I need to do quite a lot to make the stories authentic and plausible, which is important in even the most magical tales. For example, in my Jake in Space series I went so far as to interview an astrophysicist about living on other planets. I had to learn soccer rules for Hubert and the Magic Glasses and about skateboarding moves for Stinky Ferret & the JJs. The most in-depth research has been for the Eco Rangers though, and I did my wildlife carer course to learn more about how sick and injured wildlife are rescued, rehabilitated and released. It was very hands on – I even held a python, eek!

  1. How many Eco-Rangers books do you have planned, and does the most recent one draw on the recent bushfire crisis that Australia faced?

Wildfire Rescue is the third book in the three-book series. Ironically, I’d written the story about a year and a half before the bushfire crisis, and the book’s release coincidentally tied in with the tragedy. It was a strange time, having my book come out then, but I hope it offers additional opportunity to help younger readers dealing with their feelings associated with the bushfires by reading an educative but positive story.

  1. Eco and environmental themes seem to be big in books at the moment – how does Eco-Rangers differ, for you, from all the other options out there?

I actually wrote the first Eco Rangers book about four years ago, so there wasn’t much else out there on these themes at the time. Again, it’s coincidental that the books have come out as these themes have begun to be explored more fully. From the others out there, I guess the Eco Rangers differs in that I first wrote them purely because of my love of animals, so they were mystery/adventures first. To me, it’s more of a bonus that kids can learn a little bit about taking care of the environment while being entertained. At least, that’s my hope.

  1. Do you think the Eco-Rangers would head overseas for a safari adventure?

That would be a lot of fun to write – the books are being published in the UK and US, so I can’t see why Ebony and Jay couldn’t go on their own overseas adventure.

  1. How long have you been writing for, and when did you decide to begin your writing career?

I’ve been writing professionally for about 12 years now. I decided to begin my writing career a few years before my first book was published when I began my Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing. I then went on and completed my Bachelor of Communication and the book was published around the same time.

  1. Knowing some of your books have been chosen as Lexile readers, and working with Books in Home which empowers childhood literacy, do you feel like you’re helping children with their literacy at home and at school?

I certainly hope that I do, especially because mine are mostly chapter books, which are aimed specifically at fostering a love of reading in children, and developing independent readers.

  1. You also run the Young Authors Academy – what is that about, and where did it start?

I run a lot of in-person writing workshops but they’re usually time limited to around an hour, so there’s only so much that can be achieved in that time. My goal with the Young Authors Academy was to create a more comprehensive course for young writers where they could create an entire story in their own time, in their own space, and at their own pace because that’s how I write as an author myself.

  1. Do you find the Young Authors Academy and Books in Homes have any overlap at all in terms of reading, writing and childhood literacy?

Though they’re quite different programs I think the overlap is that both are designed to give children access to resources and support to develop literacy, which also comes from developing a love of reading and writing.

  1. Working in the arts, and in childhood literacy, what do you find the most rewarding about these industries and sectors?

Seeing children express themselves and gain confidence during their literacy journey is the greatest reward of all for me.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite local bookseller you always head back to?

There are so many wonderful booksellers who support authors and who are doing an amazing job providing a fantastic range of books for readers. I adore Under the Greenwood Tree at Mount Tamborine and a little further afield Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop, The Mad Hatters Bookshop, and Books@Stones.

  1. Do you have a favourite furry writing companion or are there many?

There have always been furry writing companions in my life, and also feathery and scaly ones. At the moment, my dog Tiny and bearded dragon Toffee (who belongs to my eldest daughter) keep me company while I write.

 

  1. Finally, what do you have planned next for your writing?

I’m currently doing my Masters, focusing on middle grade fantasy, so that’s what I’m writing at the moment. It’s heaps of fun!

Anything I may have missed?

For any teachers or librarians interested, I’m currently doing virtual author visits through Speakers Ink and ALIA.

Thanks Candice!

Thank you for the wonderful interview.

 

Isolation Publicity with Zana Fraillon

Due to recent events, many Australian authors have had to cancel book launches and festival appearances. For some, this means new novels, series continuations and debut novels are heading into this scary, strange world without much publicity or attention. The good news is, you can still buy books – online or get your local bookstore to deliver if they’re offering that service. Buying these books, talking about them, sharing them, reading them, reviewing them – are all ways that for the next six months at least, we can ensure that these books don’t fall by the wayside.

Over the next few months, a lot of us will be consuming some form of art – entertainment, movies, TV, radio, music, books – the list goes on. It is something we will be turning to take our minds off things and to occupy vast swathes of free time. One of the things I will be doing to support the arts, and specifically, Australian Authors, will be reading and reviewing as many books as possible, conducting interviews like this where possible, and participating in virtual book tours for authors.

Zana Fraillon is a middle grade author, best known for The Bone Sparrow, and has a new book – The Lost Soul Atlas coming out in July.  Like many authors, she has had events and launches cancelled due to the pandemic. Where other authors have had releases pushed to later in the year, or next year, Zana has not had this happen (at the time of writing this post). She has used her platform as an author for activism, and has explored themes in her books that might not always be spoken about, or seen in ways that are more complex, and more human than we see on the news. Zana appears below to discuss her books and writing with me.

 

Hi Zana, and welcome to The Book Muse

 

  1. Where did your love for reading and writing come from?

 

I have always been an avid reader. I would – and still do – retreat into a book at any and every chance I got. I have very poor eyesight, and can’t focus on anything more than five centimetres away, however no one realised until I was seven. I suspect that one of the reasons I turned to books so readily was that they were the only part of my world that I could see! When you read a lot, it feels natural to write a lot as well. I had all those voices from all those books and stories in my head, and I guess they just had to come out. I also came from a family that loves and values books. My favourite place in my childhood home was an entire room filled with books and comfy chairs. Bookshelves lined the walls from floor to ceiling, and there was a kind of silent awe that would come over you when you entered that room – as if all the books on the shelves were just waiting for you to pick them and enter their world.

 

  1. Prior to being a writer – you studied history, and primary school teaching – what made you take the leap into writing?

 

I never thought of myself as becoming a writer – I’m not sure why – my mother had written a book and my uncle is quite a prolific author. But it wasn’t until I was at home with my first born that I even thought about writing as a professional possibility. I would quite often write picture books with and for my son, and a friend of mine saw one of these and suggested that I send it in to a publisher. At that moment the world seemed to stop spinning for a moment – I remember the realisation dawning on me that I could possibly become an author and spend my days writing, and it was like everything was suddenly clear. I was very lucky that the picture book was picked up from the slush pile and published.

 

  1. Do these previous careers inform how you write and research?

 

Definitely. I suspect teaching is where my love of writing for young people comes from. I have such respect for young people and enthusiasm for the way they think about the world – when I am creating my own worlds, the world of a young person, the mind of a young person, is where I want to be spending time. I also really enjoy doing research, and my background in history is hugely helpful. I am quite at home trawling through databases and texts and analysing what small seemingly insignificant pieces of information might be able to tell us. The hardest part is actually in putting the facts aside to let the story take over.

 

  1. What books have you released, and what are they about?

 

I have released ten books so far, and my eleventh is coming out in July. They vary greatly from pre-school books about the secret lives of animals, to young adult fiction about modern day child slavery. Perhaps the best known of them all is The Bone Sparrow which is about a young boy born inside an immigration detention centre. Lots of schools have picked this up now, which is thrilling for me, because it means that more people are engaging with the issue of asylum seekers and talking about our role in the way refugees and asylum seekers are treated. Similarly, my picture book Wisp, which is also about refugees, is being used in a lot of primary schools, especially in the UK.

 

  1. The Lost Soul Atlas is coming out in July – have you had to cancel any events or launches around this book?

 

I’ve had to cancel everything! Of course, we are all very adaptable and are moving to online events, but it is always hard not to be with people to celebrate and discuss in person. There was a beautiful proof copy that had been planned and that I was going to hand deliver to as many bookshops as I could; there were launches and panels; and I had a book tour to the UK all locked in and ready to go.

 

  1. Are there any other literary events that were cancelled or postponed that you were excited about – either as a guest or an author?

 

The wonderful Danielle Binks and I had planned an author Q&A session to discuss our new books and I was really looking forward to this. I also had a number of school visits and workshops lined up – but hopefully these will move online as well.

I love going to all things literary – Clunes Book festival is one of my favourites – as well as all the other festivals and author events that happen throughout the year. Thankfully, some of these have moved online so we can still get our bookish fix!

 

  1. Have any of your events moved online since they were cancelled?

 

Most of them have. I am currently working with my publishers to work out just what we can do online, and how we can best live event things while in lockdown.

 

  1. Each book is a stand-alone novel – was this a conscious choice, and do you think you’d ever write a series?

 

My first novels for middle grade were part of a series called Monstrum House. There were four books in the series and it was great fun to write. I don’t really think about the choice of series or stand alone when I start writing a book – I tend to let the story set the audience, length, genre etc and go from there.

 

  1. Your books are primarily for upper middle grade to young adult readers – what made you choose this readership?

 

I love the way kids’ minds work. They see the world so differently from adults. I especially like writing for this readership because they are at that moment in their lives – which I remember so clearly – of trying to work out the kind of person they want to become, and the kind of world they want to live in. They question everything. They wonder about everything. The world is so full of possibility. They are standing right on the cusp. It’s an exciting time of life.

 

  1. When writing, what kind of research do you undertake, and how do you begin this research?

 

I do a lot of research before I start writing. Partly this helps me get inside the world of my characters, and partly because I am trying to work out exactly what my story is about and where it will take me. I write to find things out and explore, and research is all part of that. The majority of research is done online, but libraries are a gold mine of information and I often go to libraries to see what I can find. Also, if there is any hands on activity I can do that will help with some aspect of the story, then I will do that too. I am also very moved by other forms of creative expression, and quite often ideas are sparked by looking at a painting, or a sculpture, or – as was the case in The Lost Soul Atlas – street art. Almost all of the Afterlife scenes were inspired by street art.

 

  1. Can you explain a bit more about the themes in your books, and do you find that they appear in all books, or does each book explore different themes?

 

I guess the overriding theme in all of my books is the empowerment of young people. I want readers to go away and feel as though they can make a difference, whether this is to their own lives or other people’s. Young people have to be so courageous just to survive this world, and we too often forget that. I want young people to feel seen and heard and valued, no matter who they are, or what their circumstances.

 

  1. What authors made you feel like you could be an author when you were younger?

 

All of them. Anyone who ever set a story down on paper showed me what was possible. When I was a teenager, my favourite author was Isabelle Allende. I loved how she used magical realism to address serious political ideas and commentary. I also loved Cynthia Voigt and her Homecoming series. Her characters were so true and honest and really resonated with me.

 

  1. When you began writing, did you think it would take you on the adventures you’ve been on?

 

Absolutely! I knew the adventures that reading provided, and I equally knew that these same adventures could be taken by writing. The bonus is, that with writing, you have slightly more control over the adventure. Not a lot more, but a bit more…

 

  1. When you begin writing, how do you choose which character’s perspective to tell the story from?

 

I don’t really. I wait for the voice to come to me. All of my stories start with a character, so when that character emerges, I know it is their story I am telling. Very occasionally I have to make a deliberate change because the story isn’t working, but that has only happened once so far.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite writing or reading spot in your house?

 

I am fortunate enough to have a partner who knows how to build, and so I have a wonderful studio up the back of the garden where I go to write. It is perfectly set up to get me into the writing headspace. There are bits and pieces of collected inspiration and luck, there are cork boards and white boards and books to reference, and paper to doodle on, there is room for the dogs, and a wonderful outlook over our garden. Stepping through the door is like stepping inside my bookmind.

 

  1. When not writing, or reading, what do you enjoy doing when you have the time?

 

Spending time with my family – playing games, taking the dogs for long, long walks, going to museums. I have also become quite obsessed with making maps…

 

  1. Do you have a favourite writing companion?

 

I don’t just have one companion, I have a coven! The wonderful Penni Russon, Penny Harrison and Kate Mildenhall are wonderful friends and fantastic writing companions. We meet weekly and work our magic for each other. Writing is such a solitary experience, it is so helpful to have people in the industry who you trust to nut out ideas with, experiment with, discuss things and to support each other through all the ups and downs.

 

  1. Working in the arts is hard – how do you manage it, and for those who might not think the arts need support, what would you say to them?

 

I think people only work in the arts because they need to – it’s part of who they are. No one does it for the money, mostly because the money isn’t there. The average income for an Australian author is $12,500 a year. You can’t live on that. There are very few authors who are able to support themselves through writing alone. We find other ways to try and make money – school visits, author talks, other forms of writing – but it only takes a quick look at the ASA rates of pay to see how unsustainable that is. Without funding, people can’t create. And we will be a far poorer society because of it.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite local bookseller that you frequent?

 

I have many favourite booksellers! The ones I tend to go to most though are Readings and Readings Kids, Eltham Bookshop, The Little Bookroom and Fairfield Books.

 

  1. Finally, what is in the works at the moment?

 

I am working on a couple of things at the moment. I have another picture book and a middle-grade verse novel I am trying to find a home for, I’m playing around with a junior fiction novel, and I am currently co-writing a middle-grade book with the amazing Bren MacDibble. On top of that, I have also just started a PhD in Creative Writing at LaTrobe University.

 

Anything I may have missed?

 

Thanks Zana!

 

 

Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie by Fin J Ross

Billings front coverTitle: Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie
Author: Fin J Ross
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Published: 29th June 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 278
Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Young Fidelia Knight arrives in Melbourne in 1874, alone except for her treasured companion, Samuel Johnson; well, half of him. To escape servitude, Fidelia hides each night in Bourke-street’s renowned Coles Book Arcade. She loves words, you see, and wants to know them all.

What she overhears in Coles sets her on a path that will change the lives of everyone she meets, starting with Jasper Godwin, the hopelessly underqualified manager of the new Billings Better Bookstore.

Fidelia’s thirst for knowledge is contagious. She tutors two orphan boys and two illiterate women, inspiring them to unlock their creativity; and her exploration of colonial Melbourne takes her to some unusual places.

Nothing daunts this diminutive genius, except the mystery of what really happened to her parents on the voyage from England.

~*~

When Fidelia arrives in Melbourne, she is escorted of the SS Great Britain by a man named Mr Bartholomew and delivered to a local orphanage. She takes his warning to her about not speaking to everyone to heart, hiding away in gestures, and words when she stumbles upon Coles Book Arcade, and uses her nights to read, and learn. When she hears Jasper Godwin trying to come up with a window advertisement for Billings, she is inspired by Samuel Johnson and the words she knows, using these skills to create alliterative advertisements for each letter of the alphabet.

Once she is taken in by Jasper and his wife, and meets Secret and Joshua, two orphans taken in by Billings and his wife, her life begins to change.

This delightful story begins as a mystery, which is threaded throughout Fidelia’s journey. Small clues are dropped along the way – the missing volume of her dictionary, the lack of information about her parents, things she hears, and the whispers of some of the people around her, and the secrets they keep. These all help in building the light suspense that comes into being in the second half of the novel as Fidelia grows into a young adult.

AWW2020The novel moves slowly at first, a representation of Fidelia’s new life, and her adjustments to this new place. Yet when she overcomes a hurdle and finds a family with the Godwins, the pace picks up appropriately, and swiftly takes us through the next phase of Fidelia’s life as she makes friends, who are loyal to her and together, they explore the worlds of education, creativity and words.

The themes of family and friends – and the idea that family is what we make of it – are explored through Fidelia’s love of words and the role of creativity, literature and the power of education within our lives. It celebrates a love of words, which all books do, but on a new level and in a new way that brings the dictionary and lexicography to life for all readers who will be interested in this book, aged ten and over. It is for confident readers, and will instil a love of language, linguistics and words in all readers.

I loved this book, and would recommend it to all who love a good yarn, words and a story filled with hope, and girls and women who do not subscribe to the conventions of society, but work within them to change their circumstances and the circumstances of those they want to help. It sits well in its genre, reflects the sentiments and issues of colonial Melbourne, and allows the characters, who sit outside of societal norms, to be themselves, particularly in the second half of the novel, when Fidelia finds her voice and shares her knowledge, finding people who are willing to share this with her and encourage her.

Books that celebrate books and words like this one are favourites of mine. And I’m finding that these books are becoming popular. It is interesting to see how different authors approach this as well, and the role that words have on our daily lives, and where these words originally came from.

A powerful story about family, friends, words and books that will charm and enthral readers.

Isolation Publicity with Caz Goodwin

 

Due to recent events, many Australian authors have had to cancel book launches and festival appearances. For some, this means new novels, series continuations and debut novels are heading into this scary, strange world without much publicity or attention. The good news is, you can still buy books – online or get your local bookstore to deliver if they’re offering that service. Buying these books, talking about them, sharing them, reading them, reviewing them – are all ways that for the next six months at least, we can ensure that these books don’t fall by the wayside.
Over the next few months, a lot of us will be consuming some form of art – entertainment, movies, TV, radio, music, books – the list goes on. It is something we will be turning to take our minds off things and to occupy vast swathes of free time. One of the things I will be doing to support the arts, and specifically, Australian Authors, will be reading and reviewing as many books as possible, conducting interviews like this where possible, and participating in virtual book tours for authors.
Caz Goodwin writes picture books, short stories, poetry and junior fiction. Her latest book, part of a picture book series,Daisy Goes Wild, came out in the midst of the pandemic and lockdown. Whilst her physical events were cancelled, like other authors, she has moved to online launches and publicity to connect with readers and get the word about her books out there. She discusses all of this and her writing process below.

DAISY RUNS WILD front cover for on screen_RGB

Hi Caz, and welcome to The Book Muse!

1. To begin, can you tell my readers about what kind of books you write?

I write picture books, short stories, poetry and junior fiction.

2. The second book in your picture book series, Daisy Runs Wild, came out in March 2020. Did you have to cancel any events, launches or festival appearances linked to this book, or general appearances due to the pandemic?

Yes, I had to cancel over 10 events, including launches, festival appearances, bookshop events, school visits, library talks and so on. It was bad timing, but I’ve moved my focus to online events and opportunities.

3. Which events or appearances are the most fun for you, and why these ones in particular?

I love connecting with the audience I write for – children. I get a buzz from going to schools and getting kids excited about books and reading. It’s why I do what I do.

4. The Lazy Daisy books are rhyming picture books – what made you choose this style to tell the story?

I’ve always loved rhyming stories. As a child I devoured Dr Seuss, AA Milne and Roald Dahl’s work and was particularly drawn to their rhyming books. I still enjoy a good rollicking rhyming tale. I initially wrote Lazy Daisy and Daisy Runs Wild in prose, but felt the characters and the story were more appealing in rhyming form. The publisher agreed.

5. How did the idea of someone confusing a koala for a dog come to fruition?

The idea for Lazy Daisy came from my very lazy dog. He was always enthusiastic about going to the park, but once he got there, he never wanted to walk home. I’d often have to carry him home, which everyone thought was very amusing. I decided to write a book about my lazy dog, the title of which because Lazy Daisy. After discussing the concept with the publisher, we decided it would be funny if Jasper, who was desperate for his own puppy, confused a koala for a dog.

6. Animals seem to be one of the popular characteristics of children’s literature – as an author, why do you think this is?

Animals have always been popular subjects in children’s books. They have universal appeal, are delightful to illustrate and children often relate and respond well to animals.

7. Are koalas your favourite animal, and why?

Koalas, along with dogs, are my favourite animals. There are three dogs living in our house at the moment, but unfortunately no recent koala visitors. Koalas are cute, cuddly-looking creatures who, like me, enjoy eating and snoozing. There is something about their fluffy ears, soft fur and sweet faces that make them endearing and lovable.

8. One of your illustrators is also the illustrator of one of the Nim’s Island books – Kerry Millard. How were you paired with Kerry, and what process did the two of you go through when pairing the illustrations with the text?

Kerry Millard was chosen by the publisher to illustrate one of my rhyming stories. Although I didn’t have any say in the illustrator’s selection, I was delighted that Kerry was happy to illustrate my text and her illustrations still bring a smile to my face. (Check out my website to see some of Kerry’s illustrations of my story Running Away. http://www.cazgoodwin.com)

9. Your first book was Curse of the Viking Sword. What made you change from middle grade to picture books?

I enjoy writing in different genres and for different age groups. Several of my short stories and poems had been published before my first stand-alone book, Curse of the Viking Sword was published. Writing in a variety of styles helps to keep my work fresh and interesting.

10. You head SCWBI in Victoria, and also work with the YABBAs – what do each of these organisations do for children’s literature and books?

I love my role as head of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in Victoria. SCBWI is an international professional organisation that supports the creation and availability of quality children’s books in every region of the world. It provides opportunities for writers and illustrators to network, develop their craft and learn about the children’s book publishing industry.

I am also on the council of the Young Australian Best Book Awards (YABBA) as the Creator Support Director. YABBA is a not-for-profit volunteer run organisation working to bring Australian books alive for children. Our ultimate goal is to have children Recommend, Read, Rate and Reward their favourite Australian books. We also deliver a series of virtual author visits to Victorian Schools throughout the year, partnering with the Victorian Department of Education.

11. Are you involved in any other industry organisations?

I am also a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), Writers Victoria and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

12. When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing or reading?

In no particular order, I enjoy reading, movies, extended family get-togethers, walking my dogs, eating chocolate, drinking green tea, robust debates and laughing.

13. Have you found your background in psychology has helped your writing career?

I have always been interested in people and the motivations which drive their behaviour. I’m also intrigued by individual’s stories, and the stories behind the stories. I think having studied psychology and worked in organisational settings has only strengthened my interest human behaviour. Writing for young people enables me to explore issues and themes I find important through story. Themes that recur in my writing include acceptance and diversity, but no matter what I’m writing, humour always makes its way in.

14. What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working in the arts industry?

That’s easy. The most rewarding aspect of working in the children’s book industry is the people I’ve met along the way. I have found creative people, including writers and illustrators, to be fun, inspirational, resourceful and generous. Those who succeed are also hard-working, resilient and dedicated. I also love engaging with children when I visit schools and libraries. To see their eyes shining with joy after finding a book they love is wonderful.

15. How can the arts help us in these trying times, and in your case, what do you hope your books bring to children during the pandemic?

Books are like magic. They can transport you to different worlds, provide moments of joy and laughter when times are bleak, and give you hope, even when those around you are anxious and fearful. I love reading books to escape, and I hope that at the moment, children have opportunities to develop a love of reading and experience the thrill of recognising themselves in the pages of a book.

16. What local bookstores do you support, and how are you hoping to do that during the pandemic?

I love specialty children’s bookshops and two of my favourites are The Little Bookroom in Nicholson Street, Carlton and the new Escape Hatch Books in Kew East. Both Leesa and Fran are knowledgeable and passionate about children’s books and can provide recommendations to inspire a love of reading in children and young adults.
Many bookstores are now holding online author events, story times and book clubs, and being involved in these or helping to promote them is a great way to support authors and local booksellers during this difficult time.

17. Finally, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a video reading of my latest picture book, Daisy Runs Wild to use for virtual school visits and story times. It’s been fun to make and Daisy the giant koala makes an appearance to entertain the kids.

(See below a photo of Daisy and social media links.)

Picture 1 daISY

Website: www.cazgoodwin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolyn.goodwin.338
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cazgoodwin0/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cazgoodwin

Isolation Publicity with Tanya Heaslip

Due to recent events, many Australian authors have had to cancel book launches and festival appearances. For some, this means new novels, series continuations and debut novels are heading into this scary, strange world without much publicity or attention. The good news is, you can still buy books – online or get your local bookstore to deliver if they’re offering that service. Buying these books, talking about them, sharing them, reading them, reviewing them – are all ways that for the next six months at least, we can ensure that these books don’t fall by the wayside.

Over the next few months, a lot of us will be consuming some form of art – entertainment, movies, TV, radio, music, books – the list goes on. It is something we will be turning to take our minds off things and to occupy vast swathes of free time. One of the things I will be doing to support the arts, and specifically, Australian Authors, will be reading and reviewing as many books as possible, conducting interviews like this where possible, and participating in virtual book tours for authors.

an alice girl

Tanya Heaslip grew up in the Northern Territory and has lived in Prague during eighties and nineties following the fall of the Berlin Wall before coming back to Australia. Last year she released Alice to Prague, and this year, she has released the prequel in the midst of a pandemic – and like many authors, has had her publicity opportunities diminished due to the implications of lockdown and social distancing restrictions. One way she is getting word about her book out is through blogs and interviews such as this one.

Hi Tanya, and welcome to the Book Muse

  1. To begin, can you tell my readers who may not have read An Alice Girl or Alice to Prague a bit about each book?

 

Both books are memoirs. An Alice Girl is the prequel to Alice to Prague. An Alice Girl is set during the 1960s and 70s and explores my life as a young girl growing up in Central Australia on an isolated cattle station. Alice to Prague chronicles my journey to the Czech Republic in 1994, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

 

 

 

 

  1. You grew up in the remote Northern Territory – when you weren’t studying, or mustering cattle with your dad, what sort of games did you play with your siblings?

We played a game called “cattle duffers” on horseback. It was the most fun game, with goodies and baddies; the baddies were always trying to steal the cattle and the goodies trying to get the cattle back. We never actually had real cattle to play with – Dad would have hung us upside down if we’d messed with his precious cattle – but we didn’t need them as our imaginations were so vivid that we could gallop around on horseback and chase them in our mind’s eye.

 

 

 

  1. Do you all still live in Alice, and what is it about the area that drew you back there after exploring the world?

 

I’ve lived in many places but I now live back in Alice Springs. I think it’s mostly the land that’s drawn me back – the raw power of the red outback, the space, the huge blue skies and the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges that fill my heart with joy – it’s a place where I feel most centred, strengthened, grounded, and where I feel I most belong. Of course, I have family here as well so it’s a double calling.

 

 

 

  1. Many of my readers will have never experienced School of the Air or Correspondence School – how did these differ from your experiences at boarding school, and did you find they complemented each other in any way?

 

Correspondence School was done remotely, using written sets of lessons, overseen by a governess, and School of the Air was half an hour each day on the wireless with a real live teacher in the Alice Springs studio. We couldn’t see her or the other students but we could hear them all and put faces to their names. Every day we wore jeans and riding boots and relished the freedom and independence of the way we studied. If Dad needed cattle work done, he would pull us out and work would come first; we have to make up for it on the weekend.

This was incredibly different from boarding school, where I found myself locked away in an all girl’s school of 700 students, studying in traditional classrooms, wearing uniforms, and trying to learn the niceties of being one of many students, instead of one of three (the other two having been my younger siblings). There was certainly no getting out of school there!

It is difficult to see how I different types of education complemented one another as they were so different but there is no doubt my early studies set me up for “real school” as I was academically equivalent in almost every way once I got to boarding school. However what I lacked were art skills, sports skills and the capacity to ‘navigate’ a classroom with other students. That took a long (and often painful) time to learn.

 

 

  1. An Alice Girl is going to be/was released on the 19th of May. Did you have to cancel any events or festival appearances due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and what were they?

I had to cancel everything! I was launching at the NT writers festival in Darwin and the Margaret River readers and writers Festival in Margaret River and I had book events lined up in every state. Within three days, my four months worth of hard work in setting up these events and appearances vanished before my eyes. It was initially a very tough time. I had to learn to “pivot” as they say in Silicon Valley and find new ways to publicise my book!

 

 

  1. While growing up, you loved to read – which authors and books did you gravitate towards during the sixties and seventies, and what was so special about them for you?

 

The books I gravitated towards were the ones that were held by the Alice Springs School of the Air. Mum would go into Alice Springs once a month to get supplies and return with a box of books. They were mostly Enid Blyton with a dash of Heidi and Swallows and Amazons. I adored them all. They were all about children having adventures without parents, and set in incredibly beautiful places – green, soft, cool with lots of water. Every chapter was short and ended with a cliffhanger. They took me to other places and told me about other worlds “overseas”. I was a naturally curious child and this style of mystery book, filled with beautiful landscapes, drew me in. I couldn’t get enough of these books. I was an insatiable reader. It filled my imagination so that I felt like I was truly there when I read them. And of course, then we had our own stories – the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell, which we adored, and Colin Thiele, whose best book for me was February Dragon, because it was all about bushfires, which we understood from personal experience on the land.

 

 

 

  1. You grew up in isolation – a state that many of us are finding ourselves in at the moment – have the skills you learned as a child helped you cope with the current isolation, or is it too different to the isolation of the cattle station?

 

There is a difference in the two types of isolation, in that the Covid isolation is enforced and panic driven, whereas the isolation of my childhood meant freedom and space and endless opportunities for daydreaming and escapism. However that isolation trained me well so that I’m very self-disciplined and able to work on my own – after all that’s how I did my schooling – and so I guess in some ways it has helped me manage this time. Resilience, independence and discipline are woven deeply into my DNA and for that, at any time, I feel very thankful.

 

 

  1. Do you still have those first stories you wrote on your typewriter as a child, and what do you think they taught you about writing and storytelling?

 

Oh my goodness yes I do but I wouldn’t let anybody read them! They really are atrocious! They are all about children having adventures in English lands or English children having adventures in the bush and demand a great stretch of imagination! But I wrote so many stories that I think I became a writer and storyteller without realising it.

 

  1. You studied to be a lawyer after boarding school – what made you decide to go down this path, and has writing been a welcome break from this career?

 

I became a lawyer because I had the marks is to get into law school at University and the teachers therefore said I should do law. I didn’t know anything about law, what it was or what it meant. I fell into it and spent much of my life trying to escape it! Writing is a joy as it lets me go back into that space of imagination. However I’ve had to keep working to pay for that privilege of writing! So it’s not really a break from my career – I write and work simultaneously.

 

 

  1. What area of law did you/do you work in, and where did you practise law after graduating university?

 

I’ve worked in almost all areas of law but specialised in property and civil litigation. I’ve practised law in almost every part of Australia, except for Victoria, and even appeared in front of the High Court, which is the pinnacle of success for a young lawyer! I felt like I’d really made it that day!

 

 

  1. You’re living in Alice now, and you’re currently the Regional Vice President of the Northern Territory Writer’s Centre – first, what do you do in this role, and second, do you do it as well as practising law?

 

I was the regional Vice President for two years and now I am the President. It is a busy role as numerous issues constantly arise that require strategic management, plus I work closely with the executive to ensure that the NTWC delivers programs and benefits to writers as planned. It is not a paid role so I definitely do it as well as practising law! Work goes on, whether I’m in the President’s role or writing or doing anything else.

 

  1. How has the NT Writer’s Centre helped and supported you during your career as a writer?

 

There is nothing more fabulous than having a group of people to connect with when you’re writing, both for support and encouragement, and to bounce ideas around. I’ve also done a number of courses through the NTWC which helped me hone my skills and learn to become a better writer.

 

  1. Has the NT Writer’s Centre had to cancel or adapt any of its program’s due to the pandemic?

 

The NTWC had to cancel its Festival which was devastating but cross fingers it will be resurrected in October this year. The NTWC has also “pivoted” and put a lot of the events online, which has been marvellous, so that people haven’t missed out on everything that was planned. And the NTWC has just finalised and seamlessly delivered its Chief Minister’s Book Awards online, so it’s doing a fantastic job despite all the pressures it is under.

 

  1. What sort of support has the NT Writer’s Centre offered local authors at this time?

 

It offers courses that encourage and support, and the current NTWC online focus gives more people to engage when they are isolated.

 

  1. When buying books, which local booksellers do you frequently use?

 

I am passionate about supporting local book sellers, especially as we only have one indie bookshop in Alice “Red Kangaroo” and one in Darwin “the Bookshop Darwin”, so they are the only bookshops I use. I’ve launched both my books at them both and done events there and I have a wonderful cooperative relationship with both. To be honest, I can’t sing the praises of Red Kangaroo and the Bookshop Darwin enough, and feel so lucky that we have them. Despite the pandemic, both of them have also “pivoted” and done their best to provide books and opportunities to their customers, and are still keeping the doors open, which is a blessing, and in large part thanks to their hard work which has created its own loyal following. My mantra of late has been “Go indie bookshops!”

 

  1. What can people do during these hard times to support authors and their work?

 

Buy books. Buy books. Buy books. And buy them from your local bookshop. Or support your library. Do whatever you can to encourage authors to keep going!

 

  1. You’ve lived in Alice, Adelaide and Prague – have you lived anywhere else, and how did each of these places shape who you are?

 

I lived in so many places in addition to Alice, Adelaide and Prague – Darwin, Perth, Margaret River, Sydney, a short stint in Brisbane – and lots of short stints in different parts of WA. They have all shaped me in different ways but the best part has been the arts and writing groups that I found along the way so I’ve been able to do music, singing, acting and writing where ever I’ve lived, and I’ve learned so much more about life by living through the eyes of other places. I think each placement people I’ve met there have broadened my thinking and made me braver and more courageous, not to mention more grateful and optimistic. Travel is the best thing you can do in life, I think.

 

  1. Do you prefer to write by hand, typing on a computer or with a typewriter, or do you use a combination?

 

I write by hand and a computer – sadly I no longer have my typewriter – and I also use Dragon NaturallySpeaking from time to time, because nearly 20 years ago I gave myself carpal tunnel in both wrists from writing, and so have to juggle the way I write on a daily basis, so that I don’t overuse my hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and back.

 

  1. If you weren’t a writer or lawyer, what career do you think you would have embarked on?

 

I would have been a journalist. That was what I wanted to do before the teachers at school talked me into doing law. Being a travelling foreign correspondent was my dream. So I guess throughout my life I’ve been frustrated journalist and reluctant lawyer, combining both wherever I go – doing enough law to support my travels and the chance to write about other people places!

 

  1. Do you think you’d ever write a fiction book, and what age group do you think you’d write for?

 

That’s such a good question! I used to write mountains of fiction when I was a kid but law stripped that creative side from me, and really took my imagination, and I have struggled for years to get it back. I think it’s a process. First, memoir and non-fiction to try and recover my creativity and imagination. Once I’ve done that, hopefully I’ll be ready for fiction! I always thought I’d write children’s adventure stories, like the ones I loved growing up, but now – who knows – my main goal is just to unearth and bring back that sense of creativity and freedom I had when I was a child and could write unfettered. That’s my dream!

 

Anything I may have missed?

 

A wonderful chance to chat – thank you so much, Ashleigh!

 

Thank you Tanya