Small Publisher Spotlight: Odyssey Books

Latest in my series of posts for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge

Odyssey Books was founded in 2009 by Michelle Lovi, who fell in love with publishing whilst working for the public service in Canberra. Through her volunteer work for a magazine, she began to consider the different types of independent publishing available. Print-on-demand, self-publishing, and independent publishing, in both print and eBook formats, became the model…

via Small Publisher Spotlight: Odyssey Books — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

 

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Small Press – The Author People, originally posted on Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

The latest in my series on small presses, including a little taste of my chat with Lou Johnson at the book launch for A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls. I hope my review of Kelly’s book will follow soon.

Lou Johnson founded The Author People and is located in the same offices as Murdoch Books and Allen and Unwin. She is currently in the role of Publishing Director at Murdoch Books as well as running The Author People – so Lou has a lot on her plate! With a long career in publishing that…

via Small Publisher Spotlight: The Author People — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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The Pacific Room by Michael Fitzgerald

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Title: The Pacific Room

Author: Michael Fitzgerald

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Transit Lounge

Published: 1st July 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $29.95

Synopsis: ‘A wonderfully stylistic novel, dreamlike and mesmeric. It moves with ekphrastic cadences, from painting to writing and back again, between the present and the past, both muted and full of nuance, like a watercolour of archived time. Fitzgerald skilfully employs a controlled language of concealment and careful observation through which character is translated. All the while, there are subliminal disturbances below, indicating fatal and fateful meetings between culture and history.’

—Brian Castro, Winner of  the Patrick White Award for Literature

This remarkable debut novel tells of the last days of Tusitala, ‘the teller of tales’, as Robert Louis Stevenson became known in Samoa where he chose to die. In 1892 Girolamo Nerli travels from Sydney by steamer to Apia, with the intention of capturing something of Jekyll and Hyde in his portrait of the famous author. Nerli’s presence sets in train a disturbing sequence of events. More than a century later, art historian Lewis Wakefield comes to Samoa to research the painting of Tusitala’s portrait by the long-forgotten Italian artist. On hiatus from his bipolar medication, Lewis is freed to confront the powerful reality of all the desires and demons that R. L. Stevenson couldn’t control. Lewis’s personal journey is shadowed by the story of the lovable Teuila, a so-called fa‘afafine (‘in the manner of a woman’), and the spirit of Stevenson’s servant boy, Sosimo. Set in an evocative tropical landscape haunted by the lives and spirits which drift across it, The Pacific Room is both a love letter to Samoa and a lush and tender exploration of artistic creation, of secret passions and merging dualities.

‘Absolutely fascinating. The Pacific Room stays true to the Treasure Island life of Robert Louis Stevenson, yet frames it within a meta-narrative that moves seamlessly between contemporary Australia and nineteenth-century Samoa – with hauntingly curious twists in the tale.’

—Peter Hill, award-winning author of Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper

~*~

The Pacific Room cleverly weaves past and present together in a dual yet seamless story that tells the story of Robert Louis Stevenson, and his time in Samoa, where he was known as Tusitala, the teller of tales, in the place where he chose to live out his final days. Crossing between Stevenson and the people who make up his life, and the modern day art historian, Lewis Wakefield, and a woman, Teuila, as well as the sprit of Stevenson’s servant boy, Sosimo, the story slowly unfolds as the characters and their stories begin quite separately but eventually start to weave together, and form a story that has an interesting premise written in an intriguing style.

Throughout, Stevenson is referred to as “the Scottish writer” in prose, and when he is spoken to or about in his times, as Tusitala, and this suits the mysterious mood of the novel, and thought it took some getting used to, as well as double checking the back a few times, it is an effective way of giving the well-known author a new identity – a descriptive one, and one that I had not known about until this book, and possibly one that not many people may know about. The Pacific Room deals with the fall out of Lewis’s bi-polar and the aftermath of an episode, and how he dealt with losing his entire family in one go, and how that has affected the rest of his life. However, I did not feel that this defined Lewis wholly – it is a part of who he is, and the flashbacks that slowly emerged throughout the novel, and finally answered the questions that had been lingering since page one. Though i found not all my questions where answered – if Lewis and his brother were twins, I wondered why they’d both not stayed for their final exams, or why only one had gone on holiday with their parents?

I would classify this as a literary novel, more about character than plot, and Samoa was a character in itself, ensuring that the nation had a voice as much as the other characters did, and as a character, Samoa shines through the past and present, and acts as a soothing antidote to the stresses that Lewis and Stevenson go through in their respective lives and times, and it became clear to me why they chose Samoa as their respective resting places and convalescence places. It is a relaxed place, where life isn’t rushed – unlike the opening scene in The Mitchell Library of the University of Sydney, where I could feel the pressure and anxiety Lewis felt as things didn’t go the way he wanted them to.

Overall, it is a book that has an interesting premise, told in a way that I had not quite expected when I received it. It was a book I was not sure what to think or write about at first, and may not have been something I would have picked myself in a bookstore. It shows a new side to Robert Louis Stevenson and what people see in the world, and what they come to expect from people when they have prior knowledge of what they have been through. It is a story about growth and change for Lewis, and how a new place can help heal or find your way back to yourself.

I would recommend this book for fans of literary fiction and storylines that have a few secrets that will be held back, even at the ending. An insightful read into an aspect of the human condition and psyche, and the way we choose our identity amongst some people, but also who we choose to share things with.

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Small Publisher Spotlight: University of Western Australia Publishing — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

The following post by Ashleigh Meikle (co-authored by Elizabeth Lhuede) is the third in our occasional series highlighting small presses. It focuses on UWA Publishing. University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP) was established in 1935, 24 years after the founding of the university. In that time, it has published over 800 books over a range…

via Small Publisher Spotlight: University of Western Australia Publishing — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

 

The third in this series, with several more to come. Another small press that makes the effort to highlight lesser known authors that larger publisher’s might not take on.

 

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Small Publisher Spotlight: Transit Lounge — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Engaging with other cultures and ways of living beyond our own is perhaps the most powerful aspect of reading, and one reason I am doing the AWW challenge – not only to read more women writers but also to try and read more diversely. Although I often pick a book based on the plot, not…

via Small Publisher Spotlight: Transit Lounge — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

 

Another of my small publisher posts – this time on Transit Lounge. perhaps not one that has many women writer’s on their books, rather one that publishes the stories they feel will do well.

 

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Small Publisher Spotlight: Serenity Press

In 2012, Karen McDermott founded a vanity press called Inner Light Publishing which, in 2014, became Serenity Press, with Karen as its Creative Director. Current Editorial Director Monique Mulligan first worked on the Serenity Romance imprint, before joining the publisher full time in 2016 when it became a company. Serenity Press’s mission? To create “beautiful…

via Small Press Spotlight: Serenity Press — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

 

Another in the series I have been writing. Apologies for these next few appearing out of order, I forgot to share the last two or three. so this is the most recent, and will be followed by April and March. I am enjoying writing these posts and discovering new presses and also sometimes new books to try and track down to read. An enjoyable task.

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Small Publisher Spotlight: Magabala Books

As part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017, each month I will be writing a post highlighting a small publisher/press, and several of their books by women writers for challenge suggestions. Below is my first post on Magabala Books, a small, non-profit press that specialises in publishing fiction and non fiction by Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander authors. Next month I will be writing about Pantera Press.

Hi everyone. Over the next few months, I aim to write posts featuring a small press/publisher which highlight recent or upcoming books, or past titles yet to be reviewed for the challenge. My first post is on a press that focuses on Indigenous literature. ~ Apart from the large publishing houses – Penguin Random House, Hachette, Allen and…

via Small Publisher’s Spotlight: Magabala Books — Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog