IN THE KITCHEN WITH PIP!

peach with blue cheese

peach with blue cheese

I’ve been visiting over at my friend Phillipa Fiortetti’s blog, where she’s doing a series on writers talking about cooking.
I did Peaches with Blue cheese and Honey. Sounds a bit weird but tastes divine!

Phillipa and I met in 2008 at the Hachette/QWC manuscript development program. Pip then published The Book of Love and Fragment of Dreams and now her latest For One Night Only.

Favel Parrett was part of our group too. She’s published the beautiful Past The Shallows with the second book due any moment now.

Last night I went to the launch of another of our alumni, Azra Alagic. Her book Not Like My Mother is a creative non-fiction retelling of the horrors her family endured living through the Balkan wars and how this trauma has been passed down through the generations.

And that’s just a few of our number.
So proud of them all!

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!

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

moomins dancing

2012 was a huge year for me with the long-awaited release of Thrill Seekers. Finally, after ten years of full-time writing I had a book out in the world to prove I hadn’t just been sitting at home watching Oprah the whole time.

And yet, I still feel only at the very start of my career as a writer, a beginner. When, in 2002 I picked up a pen and wrote my first short story since high school, I’d known what an arduous road lay ahead of me, perhaps I would never have tried. But I’m glad I did, and would do it all again.

Writing is a wonderful profession. Your comrades are sensitive, intelligent,  thoughtful creators and I have been lucky to share my journey with good writing friends who have cheered and supported, and cried and commiserated, with me as together we have made steps towards seeing our dreams of books on shelves become reality. Baby steps and then suddenly this year, some giant leaps.

And the writing itself still never fails to excite me, infuriate, confound, besot and delight me. Each new project is greeted with enthusiasm, each draft a challenge to surmount. I’ve learned to love rewriting, perhaps even more than the initial draft. I’ve lost that true beginners’ enchantment with the first draft, knowing as I write it that most will end up trashed. But still, it is thrilling, the places stories will take you, the characters that take over and demand to be given their say. I love it.

This year too, I’ve learned the business side of writing. Every writer runs their own small business whether they like it or not. Marketing your work is essential, from targeting the right publisher to entering competitions, to applying for grants. These skills too, need to be mastered. Can’t say I love this part of the business quite as much, but I’m getting a little better at it.

My heart is filled with gratitude at the turn of events in 2012, and especially for those who have championed my work, like my dear uncle, Jonathan Shaw, who has just released his own book of poetry, Veny Armanno, Julianne Schultz, Favel Parrett, Helena Pastor, Katherine Howell and Stephen Romei.

Who knows what 2013 will bring. I wish you all much love and luck and good fortune.

Onwards and upwards, dear friends. Onwards and upwards!

moomin_valley_nye

STILL GRINNING

Favel Parrett and Edwina Shaw at NSW Literary awards

Moment of award being announced

Well I didn’t take out the big prize, that honour went to the deserving Rohan Wilson for The Roving Party, but I’m still grinning.

The awards dinner was in the incredible Mitchell Reading Room , that had been turned into a banqueting hall for the evening. I got frocked up (a very rare occurrence) and, as I never attended any of my graduations – banned from the high school event and not fussed by the uni ones – it felt very much like a graduation ceremony for writing.

The Mitchell Reading Room, State Library of NSW

The Mitchell Reading Room, State Library of NSW

I was very happy to be sitting between my lovely friend Favel Parrett (hint on pronunciation: Fave as in favourite) and my wonderful uncle, Jonathan Shaw, who has long been a staunch supporter of my writing and me in general.

Favel, whose book Past the Shallows is a must read, had come along with two editors from her publisher, Hachette, who were as normal and down to earth as budding writers never expect them to be. Across from us was Peggy Frew, another shortlistee whose book House of Sticks is next on my list.

Our places had gilt name tags and official booklets with the judges’ comments on all the shortlisted titles. The feedback on Thrill Seekers was so beautiful it made me cry. I particularly liked “so real is hurts” and “whip-like prose”. You can read the whole review here

Our category was one of the last to be announced, and our nerves grew and grew to the point where, after watching the winners have to get up from their tables and make the thousand-mile trip up to the stage accompanied by the worst musak you can imagine, the urge to run from the room became very real. I did enjoy seeing the winners’ looks of surprise and joy, their happiness was contagious. Rohan, the winner of our category was in Japan and hadn’t even prepared a speech for his agent to read because he’d thought it so unlikely he’d win!

And even though I didn’t take the prize, I still feel like a winner. A “graduated” writer, and on my way at last.

Read more about the awards and who won what on Uncle Jonny’s blog

COMPETITIONS

The results are in for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and it looks like my dreams of standing with the hummingbirds in Seattle will have to wait a while. Three men have taken out the honours with interesting looking titles. The winner is decided by readers, so read their excerpts and cast your vote. I’m thrilled to have made it to the semifinals and on the strength of the feedback I received, will be fishing for a North American agent and a publisher there, as well as in Australia too of course.

In other news, the QWC/ Hachette Programme is once again open for submissions. I won a spot in their 2008 Bribie Island manuscript development retreat and had a wonderful time, and learnt a lot. It’s really worth a go. Favel Parrett, Past the Shallows, Phillipa Fioretti Book of Love and Fragments of Dreams, and Chris Currie, The Ottoman Motel, were all in my group and have gone on to publishing successes. Who knows? The next one could be you! The rest of us are still out there trying, and we’re getting closer all the time.

THRILL SEEKERS

Cover of Thrill Seekers
Thrill Seekers

Favel Parrett, acclaimed author of Past the Shallows recently read Thrill Seekers.  This is what she had to say.

Sometimes I know a book is going to be special just by the feeling of the first line. The characters are already talking to me – already pulling me into their world and it’s too late for me to turn back, even if I want to.  I’m in until the end.

 Thrill Seekers is so real – so very true that you can’t help but be moved. Simple, beautiful writing with a massive heart – I just love this book.

 Favel Parrett

THE REST CURE

“Find the time to write. Protect the time to write. Be inventive: get gorgons. Forget email. Whatever it takes. Because you still need more time than there is, also it’s important to leave enough time to waste.”
Ann Beattie.

The truth of this quote was just brought home to me in a conversation with my fabulous writer friend Favel Parrett. She’s recently signed a two book deal with Hachette Livre Australia and they’re wanting her second book fast! She’s been working so long and hard on the first story that ideas for the second haven’t entered the picture. That’s where Ann’s “time to waste” comes in.

As creative artists we can’t keep pumping ideas out without stopping sometimes to refill the tank. Time to waste is actually some of the most important work we can do as writers.

Fuddling around, seeing movies, cleaning the house, sorting through old photographs, catching up with friends, going for long walks, travelling, visiting people or the art gallery or museum, reading all sorts of books, catching buses and talking to strangers, focusing on our real world and seeing what’s in front of us, spending lots of time in LaLa Land, dreaming up ideas and following them to see where they go, Steven King’s “essential afternoon nap”. This is where story ideas come from.

As writers we simply can’t afford to spend all our time writing! We need to go out and live and stockpile images and ideas then sit around doing nothing but day dreaming about them.

For a writer rest is as important as work.

Sometime, however, you are going to have to sit down, face the blank page, and turn those daydreams into words!