I had a great night at Readings Carlton Bookshop on 26 March for the First Book Club, presented by the lovely folk at Kill Your Darlings. Veronica Sullivan (also one of the Melbourne Writers Festival 2015’s 30 under 30) led a great discussion about the book, which was followed by questions from the audience. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and chatting about The Flywheel, why I wrote it, and where it came from. If you’re interested in reading more about my influences you can check out the piece I wrote for KYD prior to the event.
On 7 February The Flywheel was officially launched. It was awesome. Gleebooks hosted, Events Manager Elizabeth Allen gave a beautiful intro and Hilary Rogers of Hardie Grant Egmont did a splendid job of sending The Flywheel off into the wide world. Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a special day.
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the launch of The Flywheel! It will be held on Saturday 7 February 2015 at 3.00pm at Gleebooks, Glebe, in Sydney. For details and to book a spot click on this link.
Seventeen-year-old Delilah’s crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she’s been struggling to run the family’s café — The Flywheel— without him and survive high school. But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, she’s become the school punchline as well. With all that’s on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.
Only her best friend Charlie knows how she feels about Rosa, but he has romantic problems of his own. When his plan to win an older woman’s heart goes horribly wrong, Del is the only one who can help Charlie stay out of jail.
All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And – the big one – is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over?
I just returned from Istanbul where I was on a residency at Maumau Works, which is situated in the Beyoglu region of the city. I was there with Chicago-based writer Emily Robbins, Boston-based artist Bahar Yurukoglu, Capetown-based writer and artist Tazneem Mononoke Wentzel and Pau Cata, director of CeRRCa, an Artist in Residency program in Catalonia. I had an incredible time learning about Istanbul and Turkey and meeting artists working in different media in different parts of the world. If you are interested in undertaking an international residency, do apply. I found out about Maumau on Res Artis. Transartists is another site worth checking out.
The Reading Matters conference is a biennial youth literature conference that explores YA issues and trends and celebrates new as well as established young adult writers. The 2015 conference authors were announced today and I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of them.
The conference will be on 29-30 May at the Arts Centre in Melbourne (how good is Melbourne?). Thanks so much to the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria for the invite!
You can find the full list of Reading Matters 2015 authors here.
I recently spoke to the excellent Danielle Binks about LGBTQI characters in Australian young adult literature. You can read the article in the latest issue of Kill Your Darlings article here
I love a dinner party scene. It’s an author’s chance to get the whole cast together and have them interact. The characters perform their social graces with various amounts of charm and hypocrisy. Then, as the night wears on and the drinking increases, relations deteriorate. People get nasty, say rude things and attack each other with cutlery.
Today’s List: My Favourite Dinner Party Scenes in Fiction:
1. To The Lighthouse, Virgina Woolf
Hosts: The Ramsays
Guests: William Bankes, Lily Briscoe, Charles Tansley, Augustus Carmichael, Minta Doyle, Paul Rayley
Menu: Soup, Boeuf en Daube.
Highlights: Mrs Ramsay wears “her golden haze”; the Boeuf en Daube is a “perfect triumph”.
2. American Pastoral, Philip Roth
Hosts: Seymour “Swede” Levov and Dawn Levov
Guests: Bill and Jesse Orcutt, Shiela and Shelly Salzman, Marcia and Barry Umanoff, the senior Levovs.
Menu: Cold cucumber soup, steak, red onion, shucked corn, beefsteak tomatoes, baguettes, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Burgundy wine, lots of Scotch.
Highlights: Seymour Levov learns his wife is having an affair with their architect (“why, beneath the florid expanse of Hawaiian shirt, were his hips and buttocks moving like that?”); Jessie Orcutt stabs Seymour’s father with a fork.
3. There But For The, Ali Smith
Hosts: Gen and Eric (GenEric) Lee
Guests: Hugo and Caroline, Richard and Hannah, Miles Garth and Mark Palmer, Terence, Bernice and Brooke Bayoude.
Menu: Lamb tagine and couscous (omelette and couscous for Miles), brûlée, wine.
Highlights: Terence knows a great deal about musicals; Richard calls Terence a “fucking pansy”; Miles goes upstairs “between main course and the sweet”, locks himself in one of the bedrooms and stays there for months.
Hooray! This week Hardie Grant Egmont announced it will be publishing my novel for young adults, The Flywheel, as part of its Ampersand Project in 2014. Needless to say, I am very, very, very excited. I have had such a great time writing the novel and am so glad it has found a happy home.
In a victory for small-town science fiction nerds everywhere, my story Benny Wins Powerball has been chosen for inclusion in this year’s Best Australian Stories. Go Benny! (I should clarify that he’s the small-town science fiction nerd, not me, although I am reading Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War at the moment and kind of getting into it.) The Sydney Morning Herald has kind words to say about Benny and the collection, which is edited by Sonya Hartnett. Having now read the lot I especially recommend Sarah Holland-Batt’s So Far North, Sean Rabin’s I Can Hear the Ice Singing, Kate Simonian’s Scott, Meredei Ortega’s David Davis at Coldpigeon Dot Com, and the hilarious (in a disturbing but brilliant way) Yia Yia on Papou by Zoe Norton Lodge.
My father brought home a radio. “It’s got a sender and a receiver,” he said. “Now you can talk to people other than yourselves.” He fit the earphones over my head. And the first news I heard was that my friend Pelly Bay had drowned. Pelly had fallen through the ice while riding his unicycle. That was April 1959.
The Northern Lights, Howard Norman, 1987
I’ve been meaning to include The Northern Lights in FLF for ages because it has a cracker of an opening and has been one of my favourite reads of this year. It is the first novel of American writer, Howard Norman, and is about fourteen-year-old Noah Krainik growing up in the frozen wilderness of northern Manitoba and later in Toronto. This Recording calls it “the best book ever to take place in Toronto.” An attractive claim, although I’d best check my Margaret Atwood back catalogue before seconding that one.
Norman said that he wanted to create a melancholic atmosphere in the novel and so wrote the whole thing while listening to “Bach’s Unaccompanied Pieces for Cello” on loop and reading the novella, A Fool’s Life, by Ryunosuke, over and over. I reckon it did the trick:
I had tried to concentrate on the landscape – the wetlands, the spruce – but as we heard the muffled whine of Savoie’s plane, I felt a tightening inside. Hands in my pockets, shoulders hunched, I drew into myself. We saw the plan lower from a cloudbank, tilting, rebalancing, setting down, then leaving a widening rift of water as it circled back on Piwese Lake. About fifty yards from shore, Savoie anchored. He then rowed a pontoon to the rocks. “I am ready when you are,” he said.
I looked at Sam and Hettie. “Okay – goodbye,” I said. Hettie checked the rope securing my suitcase, adjusting it to no useful purpose except to show her affection for me. She turned away, took a few steps, stopped, and looked at the house. Sam, placing an arm around my shoulder but not looking at me, said, “yes, goodbye Noah. You’re doing the right thing. You thought hard, worked your options down to one – your family. And that takes courage.”
“I don’t feel courageous,” I said.
“No matter,” he said. “You’re acting as such.”
Sam pulled me close and said, “Don’t forget. We’re your second home.” He then joined Hettie, and they walked toward the house, not looking back.