THRILL SEEKERS REBORN!

 

thrill seekers raven books

I’m super excited to announce that Thrill Seekers has just been released as a new imprint through Raven Books UK. I love the new cover – it looks like a best seller!

Best of all is the fact that at last it is going into bookstores! YES!! When it was first released, I had to distribute it to bookstores myself and managed to have it stocked by a handful of wonderful independents, but now Thrill Seekers is going mainstream – and in time for Christmas!! WOW!

I may be just a little bit happy about this.

our lady of extreme happinesssharing my love and spreading joy

 

I think I’m somewhere between the serene goddess and the camel.

So, if you’d like to buy a copy of Thrill Seekers for yourself, or someone else, for Christmas, it’s now available in all good bookstores throughout the UK and even here in Australia. Angus and Robertson have it reduced at the moment so go for it! See HERE for more information and to purchase.

Never give up on your book babies people. I fought to get Thrill Seekers published many years ago and I thought it had had its run.

But here it is with a second chance at life, going out into the world, not as a baby anymore but as a wild teen – like the characters it portrays. Go forth and conquer little book!

IMG_3198

I’ll leave you with a quote from Brian, one of the main characters in Thrill Seekers

“Feeling ten feet tall with a chest as wide and strong as a bear’s, I roll with the movement of the boat. Salty water sprays my face and my cheeks stretch into a mighty grin.”

What second chances have you been given? Have any of your stories had a second chance at life? I’d love to hear from you.

Lots of love,

Edwina xx

Advertisements

LET THE GRAND RUMPUS BEGIN!

 

the fool

Yes, like the fool I’m about to head off on grand adventures, butterflies fluttering around my head and a precipice beyond. Not really. But the next week is pretty crazy!

On Wednesday, 10 October,  I’m honoured to be a part of UNLEASH THE BEAST – Writing and Wellness Symposium in Toowoomba as a part of World  Mental Health Day celebrations. This year’s theme is the mental health of young people – a topic which is dear to my heart because of my brother’s battle with adolescent onset schizophrenia, which I wrote about in Thrill Seekers. I’ll be facilitating a workshop on Writing for Trauma in the morning, and in the afternoon I’m on a panel moderated by the fabulous Mandy Nolan about Early Intervention Strategies for Young People. Tickets for both are available HERE.

unleash the beast headshot

Then it will be a speedy drive back down from the range to Brisbane where I’m doing a reading at my fabulous local independent bookseller and community institution Avid Reader

cloudland

I’ll be reading an excerpt from my story Cloudland to help launch Within/Without These Walls by AndAlso Books – an anthology of  short pieces, both fiction and non-fiction, about Brisbane landmarks. Cloudland was a Brisbane icon where many parents and grandparents courted and kissed, but my story is about it’s end days, one of the last concerts it hosted before it was demolished in the middle of the night by the infamous Dean Brothers. It’s a FREE event but you need to register HERE.

WWTW front cover design

The following day I’m off to Calamvale Community College for a full day of workshops with keen high-school writers. Then on the weekend, I’m flying up to Ayr in North Queensland for the Burdekin Readers and Writers Festival

I’m very excited to be travelling north as my father’s family lived in Innisfail for generations and I spent a lot of time among the cane fields in my childhood.

CSIRO_ScienceImage_1559_Fire_in_sugar_cane.jpg

 

I’ll be facilitating a memoir workshop and moderating a panel of local authors discussing their pathways to publication and beyond. The workshop is FREE if you’re near enough to Ayr to come along 🙂 Book in to both events HERE

As soon as I’m home, I’m off again – this time to Gympie as judge of their annual Literary Awards. as part of the Rush Festival. I was truly impressed by the depth of talent I found reading the stories and poetry,  and I’m looking forward to seeing the joy on the lucky, and skillful, writers faces when the winners are announced. I’m also running a memoir workshop while I’m there, but it’s at capacity I’m afraid.

Then I’ll have a day at home to pack before I fly out to the UK for a trip to finally walk on the earth of my ancestors, and to visit my UK publishers RANSOM who are releasing a new imprint of Thrill Seekers later this year. More on that later!

Phew! Hope I haven’t exhausted you just reading about it all. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at the events.

It’s a busy but wonderful life. See you on the other side!

With lots of love,

Edwina xx

REWARDS!

Treasure chest with gold coins by Garry Gay

Treasure chest with gold coins by Garry Gay

Oh yes, rewards! How we all crave them. Awards, prizes, contracts etc, they’re all pretty grand. Gold coins are not to be sneezed at either, but the other day I received a reward that was worth even more than all of these – words of connection and thanks from a reader. To know that Thrill Seekers is still out there connecting with people and even, most wonderfully of all, reflecting their own experiences is more valuable than gold (though of course that would be nice too!)

Here’s what Harry had to say.

Great read! I had more than a few knock-about friends growing up and the language and the descriptions, the play, the drink, the smoke, the drugs, the sex – you write just as it was – just as it is. Thanks, Harry

It really made my day, especially as it was one of the first messages I received after my return from overseas. Thanks Harry.

As an emerging writer the financial rewards may not be great, which makes messages from readers even more precious. I find rewards in other ways too – writing the end of that scene that’s been bugging me, writing something unexpected, and beautiful, so beautiful it doesn’t feel like it’s come from me. The satisfaction of writing the last few words of a long work and in that split second feeling that it is great (until the morning anyway!).

What do you find rewarding about your art or writing practice? What, besides money, keeps you going?

BACKTRACK!

Backtrack lads

Backtrack lads


Recently, I travelled to Armidale on the New England Tablelands of New South Wales to visit the Backtrack school for kids who don’t fit the system.

Backtrack is an organisation that does more than its fair share empowering young people who will otherwise end up on the wrong side of the law. I first learnt of this organisation through my friend Helena Pastor’s work with them as she wrote her forthcoming memoir. She had turned up at their shed every Sunday with a tray of home-baked brownies to help young men complete welding projects as part of the Iron Men Welders scheme.

Since these small beginnings, Backtrack has gone on to host a number of other projects including Paws Up, an award-winning dog jumping squad, Imagine This incorporating the Backtrack school, and Aglads, a farming based initiative. Backtrack’s main mover and shaker, the unstoppable Bernie Shakeshaft, is now at the head of a large group of youth workers, artists in residence (including Helena who is writer in residence) and others, providing employment for a number of ex-clients who have learned to shine under his tutelage.

It was an honour to be invited to their classroom and meet the teachers, Simmo and Helena, and their students. Trey, otherwise known as Ducky, jumped up and shook my hand with a warm smile so I felt welcomed straight away. Freddie, Brady, Hayden, Norm, and Marshall, known as Sheriff for obvious reasons, all introduced themselves and Fred even got up and did some yoga with me. Although he wouldn’t attempt the splits – my ultimate party trick.

We gathered in the office where it was warmer and the couches were comfier and I read “Voices” from Thrill Seekers to them. At first, I was nervous. Only the week before these guys had told their teachers they didn’t like being read to like babies, so I was worried I wouldn’t hold their attention. However, a minute into my reading, I looked up and saw that the phones had been put away, the fidgeting had stopped, and all eyes were on me.

I hadn’t read “Voices” aloud for a long time and was caught off guard by the power of the emotional ending, especially as this story is so closely based on my own experiences. My voice broke and I thought I was going to cry in front of these tough guys. But you know what? They were right there with me. They KNEW how I’d felt. After I’d finished, we all had a chat about ganja and booze and other drugs and freaking out – what to do if someone you know is losing it, or you’re losing it yourself. They’d lived a lot, these young men, and had some great ideas on how to turn things around.

I’d brought along books and signed a copy for each of them. Never was I so glad to give books away, they were so warmly received. I was even happier when some of them sat down straight away and started reading. It was hugely gratifying to see my book being read by the boys who had lived similar stories – who really knew what it was about.

But that wasn’t the highlight of my visit. That came later when we were all helping Sally cook up a delicious lunch of minestrone and chicken fried rice. As we sat in the office chopping veggies, Simmo got out his guitar and we all sang along to Lean on Me by Bill Withers. “Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend; I’ll help you carry on.”And bugger me but I almost cried again, it was so beautiful. My brother Matty would have been right at home with that bunch of talented young men. Just like I was. Thank you boys! Thank you Backtrack for being there for them.

Edwina and Sheriff

Edwina and Sheriff


Thrill Seekers

Thrill Seekers

DRUGS AND PSYCHOSIS with Dr. Dawn Barker

Dr. Dawn Barker

Dr. Dawn Barker

Dr. Dawn Barker is a child and adolescent psychiatric expert. She’s also a writer and a friend of mine. We’re both intrigued by the workings of the mind and feel deeply for those who suffer from mental illness and those who love them. Dawn’s new book Fractured weaves a suspenseful tale about a young woman suffering post-natal depression. It’s just been released by Hachette Australia and I can’t wait to read it.

I’ve done some research about the link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, but I’m no expert, so I asked Dawn to write an article detailing the most recent findings. Please use the comments section to ask Dawn any questions you may have. I will be!

 

Thrill Seekers

Thrill Seekers

 

Drug Abuse and Psychosis

Dr. Dawn Barker, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. MBChB, FRANZCP, Cert C&A Psychiatry

 

In Thrill Seekers, we meet a group of adolescents who – like many teenagers − use drugs recreationally. One of the main characters, Douggie, then becomes psychotic and develops schizophrenia. Many of us know a friend or family member who’s had a similar illness after drug use and are left wondering: what is the relationship between drug use and psychosis?

 

What is psychosis?

 

Psychosis refers to a group of symptoms mainly characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are abnormal sensory perceptions: hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling or smelling something that isn’t actually there. The sufferer might hear voices talking about them, feel insects crawling on their skin, or see faces on the wall. Delusions are abnormal, false beliefs that are held with unshakeable conviction. A deluded person may believe that they are someone special, that they are being followed, or are guilty of something terrible. A psychotic person’s speech can be difficult to follow as their thoughts are disordered, and they lose insight, that is, they are not aware that their beliefs or sensations are abnormal. This can make it very difficult to persuade a patient to seek help and accept treatment.

 

Most people think of schizophrenia when they think of psychosis, but that’s not necessarily the case: psychotic symptoms can occur briefly and transiently (when using drugs, or when medically unwell), or can occur as part of another psychiatric illness such as depression or bipolar disorder. If the symptoms aren’t secondary to anything and become chronic and disabling, the diagnosis changes to schizophrenia.

 

Drug use and psychosis

 

There is no doubt that drugs can cause psychosis. Some drugs – the hallucinogens like LSD and ‘magic mushrooms’ – are used to deliberately alter sensory perceptions. However, psychosis is often an unwanted reaction. As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen hundreds of patients brought into emergency departments − often by the police − with distressing, acute psychosis after abusing drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine or cannabis. Thankfully, most of these patients recover when the drug is out of their system after a few hours or days – we call this a substance-induced psychosis.

What is more worrying is the patient whose psychosis persists even after the acute effects of the drug have worn off. Some of these patients are eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Are drugs responsible for this?

 

The relationship between illicit drug use – particularly cannabis – and schizophrenia is a controversial one. Many patients with schizophrenia have used drugs, but many have not. And of course, the majority of people who use cannabis don’t develop schizophrenia. We know that people with a psychotic illness have a higher rate of cannabis use than the general population, but this could be explained by them being drawn to drug use as a way to cope with their symptoms.

 

As more long-term studies are analyzed, the links are becoming clearer and the most recent evidence is this:

  • If you have a psychotic illness and used cannabis in adolescence, you develop the illness 2-3 years earlier than those who didn’t use cannabis. This is significant, as we know that an earlier age of onset is associated with a poorer outcome. Using cannabis in adolescence makes you up to twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia in adulthood, and this is a dose effect: the more you use, the more likely the diagnosis is.
  • Using the drug at a younger age is most risky: cannabis use at the age of 15, but not age 18, is associated with the higher rates of schizophrenia. It’s possible that one of the chemicals released in the brain when using cannabis, dopamine, is the culprit. We use drugs that block dopamine to treat schizophrenia.
  • Cannabis use comes before psychotic symptoms appear, rather than the illness leading to more drug use.

 

Some people have a gene that, if present, appears to interact with adolescent cannabis use to cause psychosis. Thankfully, schizophrenia is rare, occurring in approximately 1% of the population. Cannabis use in adolescence is just one of several factors that interact to cause the illness, but it’s a significant factor that, if taken out of the equation, could reduce the rates of schizophrenia by 8%.

 

It’s unrealistic to expect young people to stop using cannabis completely. But we need to understand that its use in the teenage years does increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and we have no way of knowing which young person will be affected. As anyone who has suffered from – or watched someone go through − this illness will agree with, preventing even one case would make a huge difference to many lives.

 

For more information or if you, or a love one, need help, please contact:

 

1. Your local doctor or emergency department

  1. 2.  Lifeline: 131114
  2. 3.  Kids Helpline: www.kidshelpline.com.au 1800 551800
  3. 4.  Headspace: www.headspace.org.au

 

 References

Large M et al. Cannabis use and earlier onset of psychosis: a systematic meta-analysis. (2011). Arch Gen Psychiatry 68(6):555-61.

 

Arseneault et al. Causal association between cannabis and psychosis:

examination of the evidence. (2004).  British Journal of Psychiatry 184:110-117

 

http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/Publishing.nsf/content/C22A31B6C742DFE5CA25767E00122541/$File/m684.pdf Accessed 22/01/2013

 

FRACTURED by Dawn Barker

FRACTURED by Dawn Barker

NEW THRILL SEEKERS INTERVIEW

Thrill Seekers

Thrill Seekers

 

I’ve just done an interesting new Interview about Thrill Seekers with Dr Dawn Barker –  child psychiatrist and author of Fractured . After Fractured is released in late February, Dawn will be doing a guest post here about the link between psychosis and recreational drugs, a must read, especially for parents of young teens.

Like me and my friends Favel Parrett, Chris Currie, Monique McDonell, Azra Alagic, Simon Groth and Phillipa Fioretti, Dawn won a place in a Queensland Writers Centre/Hachette manuscript development program, though a couple of years after the rest of us. She was fortunate enough to get a contract and Fractured is the result. I’m really looking forward to reading it. It tells the story of a young woman suffering post-natal depression and the ramifications of that illness. Right up my dark and twisted alley!