flotsam and jetsam
After finishing the most brilliant Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, I have thoughts – I know, doesn't happen often but it does happen. 1. Love her voice. More and more I want to be TOLD a story, rather than being SHOWN everything – opposite of what we're told to do on the writing front but I don't care. 2. This book could easily be classified as Young Adult. It spans years, but there's an immediacy to the experience (*not my test – I read my agent Catherine Drayton talking about this in an interview once). 3. As a lead in to the next book in the trilogy, the ending is perfect. 4. I was pissed off at the New Yorker as I read it, because as it turned out James Wood managed to spoiler most of the major plot points. Photo above is from a Vogue article – much better as an intro because it doesn't give everything away. 5. Everyone keeps saying it's about female friendship. It's equally about AMBITION. Really interested in what you guys think – so hit me! #greatladymonday #elenaferrante #mybrilliantfriend #amreading #igreads #greatbooks #greatauthors #bibliophile #bookworm #literaryfiction #textpublishing #bookclub #bookclubreads
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This is my new Author pic and bio. Miss 7 did it. It pinched my heart because right now she is at the stage where she leaves love notes for me everywhere and I know it can't last, but, man, I am going to miss it when it's gone. In case this is getting too soppy I should balance things by saying that this is the same child who typed 'deth' into the search section of the National Geographic Kids site. One of her current interests, along with 'merder'. And both my kids have been home sick all week, so that's been tremendous fun, and my writing is going amazing, thank you. (Gave the 'ly' to Potts, @kristenbecknutrition)
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Thank you to all who entered the recent Summer Skin giveaway (organised as part of Booked Out’s Australia Day Giveaway).
Without further ado, the winner is: Catherine McLean, who was commenter number 3. You can see a snap of the excel spreadsheet I used to randomly generate a winner, just in case you get excited by that sort of thing. Catherine, I’ll email you directly.
Check out her post at the link above to see full details of all the other participants.
But for now what you need to know is that I’m giving away one copy of my upcoming release, Summer Skin, to Australian Residents (meaning I’m happy to post within Australia).
To enter, please leave a comment and I’ll draw the winner randomly and announce the winner back here (and I’ll also get in touch with the winner). Entries close at midnight on 27th January, 2016 AEST (which, incidentally, is the day Summer Skin is published). I will announce the winner within 7 days.
Okay! Best of luck to you, and don’t forget to check Booked Out for the details of the other great giveaways on offer.
Entries are now CLOSED.
Thanks to all who entered – I’ll be announcing the winner very soon.
Hello. Happy New Year! Soon to be, Happy Year of the Monkey! Did you have a nice break? According to this blog, I had a two-month one – don’t know how that happened. But does it really matter? Who even reads blogs anymore, anyway? For some perverse reason, though, I actually like maintaining one. It’s like an online journal of sorts.
So. I have been in Capricornia. Whenever I mention Capricornia, I am saying that I have gone back to my roots, and also saying that I have been visiting the heartland of Molasses (current work in progress). Ahhh … Molasses … you are so hard. For those of you who are in the writing way this story is unlike any other thing I’ve ever worked on. (Which in itself isn’t unusual – they have all been unique experiences in terms of the writing.) This one is different because I basically know the story. It is a BIG story and therefore difficult in itself. But where I seem to keep chopping and changing is the structure. The way best to tell the story.
Anyway, enough of that, here are some Capricornia pics – some from where I grew up, some from Great Keppel Island, which I visited while I was there. Great Keppel Island is indeed great. I’ve been there many times. This time was unique because the big resort is currently out of action, but there are other accommodation options, as there have always been – people don’t always know that, though. As a result it’s pretty deliciously low key right at the moment. In case you’re wondering – in that pic where the jet ski is speeding away, it was actually speeding away to help rescue a boat that was sinking. So that was exciting. And for overseas visitors – the lizard creature is a gecko. And don’t be alarmed by all the fire – it was hazard reduction burning. Also, I have no idea what I’m doing on the family steps either. Hard to know if that’s a stop sign or a wave. But I used to sit on top of those steps and read myself silly as a kid and a teen, and I still like sitting there to read as an adult, so, you know, history.
Yes, I know, I know, I am still keeping up the conceit of having a reading alter ego. I can’t believe me either. But it’s the visuals, you see. I love those photos.
Anyway, this will be fast and furious and filled with bad grammar (writer, I am) but I am solidly of the opinion, sometimes, that it’s better just to post than to wait until I have more time. Basically, better to have posted and sounded inarticulate than never to have posted at all.
Here is a smidgen of the books I’ve been reading lately. If they have anything in common, they all offer the reader multi-faceted perspectives. I am going to deliver this in a style that I’m calling stream-of-consciousness response (see points made in previous para):
Del, the main character, is so beautifully drawn, and even when she’s in the wrong you’ve already forgiven her, because who hasn’t said awful things to their friends sometimes when everything is arse about. The conversations between Del and her good friend Charlie are so funny and ring so true – ah, the luxury of lying around with your best friend talking shite! And there is such a sense of fun – after economics I never wanted to see another graph again for as long as I lived, but I really enjoyed their addition to this narrative. What I love, too, is the way sexuality and exploration are dealt with as integral to life. Del is figuring everything else out, but as far as her own sexuality is concerned, she knows firmly who she is, which is a nice counterpoint to some of the other characters and where they’re at with things. Anyway, go read it. It’s warm, funny, and will make you feel good.
I rushed out and bought this, and then, when I held it for the first time, thought, What a shame we don’t get to have more hardcovers in Oz. This one is especially well designed, with special little bits of play in terms of what’s behind those cut outs. But I digress! Ooh, shiny. Okay. I can still run with the perspectives thing on this one, because for the first half of this book you see the same events play out from the perspective of different characters as they enter into a mind fuqqing version of a haunted house. That’s all I can really say without giving too much away. Of course David is brilliant, blah blah, but it struck me reading this book that where he’s brilliant is in vertically integrating his stories. I’m not sure that even makes sense but I’m running with it. What also struck me, though – and this applies to everybody’s gothic and horror novels, including my own (Night Beach), is that the set up and scary stuff is always more fun before it’s explained. What I want to try one day is writing something where you just don’t bother to explain it (yes, critics, I know; I’ll say it for you: You already have! :))
Okay, I read this as an ARC (advanced reading copy). Guess what? It’s the first official ARC I have ever read, or even held for that matter (apart from my own, which I didn’t read). So, you know, things are looking up! But that’s more digression. This. Book. I badly want to talk to someone about this book. SOOOOO many talking points. Which should tell you that Justine has been hugely ambitious with this story, and she has NAILED IT. Rosa is a ten-year-old psychopath. Che, the main character, has to deal with that, daily, because he’s her seventeen-year-old brother. But it’s also about many, many other things – religion, race, ambition, to name a few. I want to say so much more but I can’t because I also don’t want to commit the cardinal sin of spoilering. Put it this way – you’ll be thinking about it for a long time after you put it down.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. I thought I should mention this because it’s quite unusual for me to read many thrillers, but I have been on a Robotham rampage these last few months. I think I’ve now read all of his work. I read somewhere recently that he’d discovered that JK Rowling was a fan (just before he met her face to face, I think) and I wasn’t at all surprised that she was a fan of his. They share similarities in their ability to plot an incredibly good story. Anyway, that sounds under baked. If you’ve read her, and you’ve read him, you’ll know what I mean.
This has nothing to do with perspectives. I put it in here because some of you who are writing as well will find it interesting. Or, more to the point, interesting in that I bought it because I was completely and utterly stuck on my current work in progress, hoping for something that would unstick me. (Also, I have loved E Gilbert’s podcasts and TED talks on creativity, so I knew at the very least it wouldn’t hurt). I’m actually only up to the third chapter. BUT! I am happy to say I am no longer stuck. What worked for me was 10 minutes (daily) of sitting on the floor of my office, with no music going, keeping my eyes closed, concentrating on my breathing and not following the thoughts that arose. If you think that sounds like meditating, you would be right. I’m not sure I can call it that, though, because I’m not that great at it, and, as evidenced above, easily distracted (who knew there were soooo many thoughts?). But it has helped tremendously for some reason. PS The meditating has absolutely nothing to do with me buying BIG MAGIC other than me trying to become unstuck. Either might work for you.
Okay! Over and out.
Weird way to start this, but Tyler Wright just won the Roxy Pro in France. Why is this important? Because she’s Australian, she’s superbly talented, she’s down to earth, her career is predicated on athleticism not arse shots (seriously, I feel for some of the top women surfers, because I can’t even remember what their faces look like. That dig is aimed at the brands, by the way. Don’t show me my fave surfer looking swaybacked: show me her fuqqing surfing).
But I also took note because Tyler said some interesting things in her acceptance speech (I’ve cued it):
I think that point she makes about caring is everything. At times, I reckon all of us have wished we didn’t care so much about whatever it is that we’re investing ourselves in: whether it be parenting, working a job you love, working a job you loathe, the stupid pressing need to make stories in the hope that they connect with other people … whatever it is.
But then it’s some kind of double-edged sword, isn’t it? You don’t get the ups without the downs. I think where it gets painful is when you look the downs right in the eye, but don’t even allow yourself to feel the wins. You can’t be in the moment because you’re always looking ahead. And there’s that constant gnawing feeling that you haven’t done enough: you can’t really be working unless you’re absolutely flogging yourself. Hell, you don’t even know if you’re on the right path; if there will ever be another win.
This morning, someone did me the absolute kindness of saying, “Yeah, I know what that feels like. I was there a couple of years ago. It’s hard. It will take time. Be kind to yourself. You won’t care less, but you’ll care differently.” (Krissy B, if you ever happen by, it’s YOU I’m talking about, you excellent human being.)
And I got to thinking about how you always hear people saying they went through this AFTERWARDS. (I’m not referring to Tyler here – she’s been vocal about it the whole way – or the mysterious Krissy B – we didn’t know each other back then). Or, if you happen to drift onto social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that NOBODY else ever gets down. EVER. Everything is all happy-lah-lah, win after win.
I think it’s a societal thing. Like you can’t just say things are shit. We’re not allowed to express that – not really. We have to say, ‘Well, things were shit, but now they’re looking up.’ Or, ‘Things are shit, but I’m actually really grateful for all the non-shit things in my life.’ Or, more often than not, you don’t vocalise it at all, because you’re well-mannered, and you don’t want the other person to feel like they have to solve it for you.
Then, when I came home, I found my mum had sent this through in a group email. It seemed timely. And like information that must be shared: https://mindspot.org.au/
If you’re feeling anxious and/or depressed, and you need some help, check it out. In brief, this is what it is about:
I’ve been wanting to write about this book for a while now. But every time I went to do it, I felt like I hadn’t articulated my response strongly enough. So what I’m going to do instead is offer you an edited version of the email I sent to Vikki:
Apropos nothing – here are three things I’ve viewed lately.
First: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Got to see this courtesy of Allen & Unwin’s advanced screening. It’s a lovely film. The icing was the parents – Connie Britton! – and the real-boyness of the main character. I haven’t read Jesse Andrews’ novel, but I will, and I greatly admired his screenplay. Thumbs up. It made me achey over the fact that we really do deserve films made for an audience who enjoy YA stories in Australia (you can understand why that sentence was a bit longwinded if you analyse it properly!).
And then two flashbacks:
Tonight, I watched: Sixteen Candles
Probably my favourite John Hughes’ movie, but watching it now, years later, some of the humour is definitely OFF, and not in a good way (all that stuff about taking advantage of Jake’s comatose girlfriend. Jesus.) One thing that struck me, though – Anthony Michael Hall – what a gem. And, of course, that penultimate scene when Jake and Samantha finally connect. Perfection:
And then, earlier this week, I found this on SBS On-Demand: Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Sarah Jessica Parker fidgeting like she’s never fidgeted before. Helen Hunt doing that adorable diagonal-eyebrow smile thing she does. And the lead guy dancing like Kevin Bacon did in Footloose, right down to the gamer shoulders. Controlling fathers, evil rich girls, and a Solid Gold rip off show.
Anyone else catch any of these three?