Bloodline
 
the newsletter of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

 
 

Director's Welcome

DR_Photo

The dams are up to 40% in Brisbane and the sky is a lot clearer here than it is in Beijing, so things are Olympian at Treetop Studio, as I hope they are with you. That’s the end of the sports puns—I promise!

Our most ambitious year to date spurs on with our Autumn Season behind us and our first Winter Season about to begin with a Regional Queensland tour. From 30 August, Barry Levy (As If!) and I (reading from Primary Instinct and Global Cooling) will be joined along the way by new IP authors Hazel Menehira (Vocal Enrichment: Enlightenment Through Voice) in Cairns and Gloria Burley (Blood and Guts – a Nurse’s Story) in Proserpine and Mackay, followed by events in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Gladstone. Then I’ll join Tasmanian Erica Bell to tour her new book The Voyage of the Shuckenoor in Tassie and will join her and LR Saul (Bloodline) at Gleebooks in Sydney and Readings in Melbourne in late September and early October. Not to mention a launch for Duncan Richardson’s Jason and the Time Banana in Brisbane and Gloria’s Sydney launch in mid-September.

Other than that, we have almost nothing on. (Notice how I resisted characterising this as a marathon?)

We were pleased to hear from the Australia Council that they will be supporting two of our new poetry titles next year. Those authors given the nod were Lee Knowles and EA Gleeson. I’m sure you join with me in congratulating them. We appreciate the Council’s ongoing support of our publishing program.

On a sadder note, I’m sorry to report the death of Wendy Evans, author of The Diggings Are Silent, one of our first short story collections. Her title story inspired Alan Ferguson to compose IP Digital’s first music CD. My family and I met Wendy and her husband Col in Fremantle, where we launched her book with much fanfare, and they hosted us with generosity, even one night during a power outage when our children screamed after the lights went off! We wish Col and his family all the best.

I hope you enjoy our latest issue.

Cheers!

David

 

FEATURED ARTISTS

DarrenG

Darren Groth flew in from Canada to star in our Brisbane Autumn Season events and was featured in the Brisbane News.
read more >

EricaB

Erica Bell talks about making a departure from her job as a medical researcher to write a gripping historical novel about to be released by Glass House Books.
read more >

DavidG

A long-time nurturer of other poets, David Gilbey finally breaks into print with his own collection.
read more >

DR-AR

No rest for the wicked – David Reiter prepares to tour with other IP authors with two new titles of his own.
read more >

HazelM

Hazel Menehira will be one of three IP authors features at the Tropical Writers Festival in Cairns, 30-31 August.
read more >

 

 

 

 

 

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Check out the Slideshow!

 

      
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Editorial

Slouching Toward a Digital Future?

Has the digital revolution arrived in Australia? In terms of technology, undoubtably, yes. Telstra, Optus and 3 are facing off with their 3G technology, and, at long last, the iPhone arrived on 11 July at 8:03 a.m. (at least at Carindale!)

With the possible exception of computer games, Australia is technology-rich but native content poor, especially on the literary front. This has something to do with the bias against digital media for literary titles when it comes to funding by the Australia Council and our State arts funding bodies and compensation for borrowing in libraries by the Educational and Public Lending Rights (ELR/PLR) schemes, as well as the Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL), which makes payments to publishers and creators for copying of copyrighted material.

A year ago, when I spoke at the Publishing The Story of the Future seminar sponsored by OzCo and CAL, I challenged both organisations to get something happening on the digital front that would see more public money flowing to companies like IP to support the development of digital content and schemes to compensate us when our titles are borrowed or copied rather than purchased by library users. Over drinks after the seminar, the OzCo reps promised to set up a working group to explore the options—in itself a go-slow approach. I agreed to be part of this group, but I have yet to hear anything further about it.

This is not to say that OzCo has been inactive on the digital front. They have been fostering New Media composing on a number of fronts. The fact is that it doesn't do much good to develop content that non one is going to see. That's where publisher should come into the equation, Does the Literature Board believe that most publishers are too conservative to go down that path? Perhaps they do, and perhaps many of them are. But you'll never know where this could lead, until you start walking.

Creators and publishers stand to gain solid revenue streams if we can begin to deliver content to libraries and schools via dedicated portals. Digital content, with proper Digital Rights Management (DRM) security attached is potentially much easier to track for compensation than physical books. School, libraries and individuals will flock to digital content when it becomes available on the latest generation of ebook readers, which are much more reader-friendly. We only have to look at the vibrant ebook and multimedia markets elsewhere to see what we are missing out on NOW. So it's as much about delivery and availability of digital content as composing content that people will want to watch or interact with.

Overseas companies like Amazon and Sony have already developed these readers for content. Amazon has already loaded more than 145,000 titles for its Kindle reader, almost none of it from Australian sources.

IP is no longer prepared to wait for Australian agencies to get behind these innovations. We intend on meeting the market. If buyers here have to source Australian content overseas, it will be another lost opportunity for Australia. Already we upload our digital content to American and UK companies like Google Book Search, CD Baby, CreateSpace and now Amazon (see the full story in this issue’s IPS column).

It’s high time that funding agencies stopped treating digital innovation in publishing like an exotic disease—to be quarantined until proven harmless. Let’s see some real money to support the rhetoric.

— DR

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Focus

[Lauren Daniels interviewed Melanesian-born writer Erica Bell about her book The Voyage of the Shuckenoor that recounts the tale of Australian ‘blackbirding’ voyages]

LD: What can you tell readers about the historical context of your novel, 'The Voyage of the Shuckenoor', and the significance of the ‘mary’s cabin’?

EB: The ‘mary’s cabin’ was that place aboard ‘backbirding’ tall ships where women were segregated during the late 19th Century. It’s a powerful image of female seclusion and imprisonment that has hardly figured in either the scholarly or the popular literature about the blood-stained Australian ‘recruiting’ voyages to the South Seas. I was intrigued by the idea of entering that male world of tall ships and recreating with as much factual detail as possible, a female voice from the mary’s cabin.

LD: A gentle love story emerges from this historical genre and ushers the protagonist to her fate. Can you give readers some insight on what’s in store for them?

EB: Hilda falls in love with the ship's brilliant, brooding doctor, Misima, a Melanesian man who, like other crew members, recognises her father from some long-ago horror. In The Voyage of the Shuckenoor, Hilda’s love for Misima compels her to help him do more than have melancholy daydreams as he reads Patrick Manson's great 19th Century treatise on tropical medicine. She believes he can become all he can be in a world where a black doctor is unthinkable. He must somehow rescue her from the hell of an early 20th Century lazaret—the infamous Peel Island in Moreton Bay—where she is incarcerated at the end of the voyage by a hysterical Queensland community, as the first white woman to suffer from the mysterious ‘toe disease’ of the islanders. They are lovers trapped by a complex web of circumstance and history which they must somehow escape.

LD: There are some rather poignant, current themes cradled in the narrative, despite the historical context. When did you start to work on The Voyage of the Shuckenoor and what inspired you?

EB: The book took ten years to write. I did the research in Queensland but wrote the book in a tiny stone cottage in Minnesota, U.S.A., just after September 11. The novel contains echoes of Guantanamo and Bush-Blair-Howard-speak, as it takes the reader on a journey into the dark heart of Australia’s crimes against its nearest neighbours. My experience as a foreigner on one of America’s most restrictive labour immigration visas—the H4 visa—inevitably leaked into the book.

LD: You were born and grew up in Melanesia. How has this shaped the book?

EB: I was born in Rabaul, on New Britain, and also lived for some years on Misima island, in the Louisiade Archipelago, which lies at the imaginative centre of this novel. As a child I understood two of the hundreds of languages of New Guinea and imagined myself to be New Guinean. In this book I was interested also in recreating a female character who doesn’t quite fit into her white skin.

LD: Also, which aspects of your study and professional experience as a health researcher contributed to the novel? And how did the novel begin for you?

EB: I work as a health sciences academic and so the novel is also in part a journey into the poetical, fantastical world of late 19th Century tropical medicine. The bizarre treatment of ‘lepers’ in Australia at a time when the consensus medical opinion was that ‘leprosy’ was not so contagious is stranger than fiction. For example, in the early 20th Century there was a young white woman with Hansen’s disease who was sent down the east coat of Australia to Peel Island in a wooden box carried by a ship. This book refers to that event, though it is not based on any person living or dead. In 'The Voyage of the Shuckenoor' I have woven together sources from medicine and biology, anthropology, history, literature, religion, and so on to try to make the past a living breathing thing.

The novel began for me one day when I was caught in a storm in a little sailing boat in Moreton Bay in Queensland. I anchored in a coral gutter just off uninhabited Peel Island and went ashore to find the ruins of the lazaret, including the graveyards of the ‘lepers’. Afterwards I discovered that Melanesians were buried there and so the whole island, with its eerie, wind-twisted trees seemed to unravel some alternative history of Australia and of me.

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[Lauren also interviewed David Reiter about his new novel, Primary Instinct, and his children's book Global Cooling]

LD: Although the setting pertains to teachers and a local Australian school system, your new novel Primary Instinct has been described as an ambitious social commentary on the workplace world, regardless of career paths or backgrounds. What was your inspiration for a book that has such a collective grasp on the politics and group dynamics of the workplace?

DR: Henry Kissinger was once quoted as saying that the reason why politics in teaching is so vicious is because so little is at stake. He was talking about politics in universities, where I taught for many years, and I can well understand what he was getting at besides being witty. The more overworked we are, the more likely we are to be consumed by things that don't really matter, losing sight of the reasons why we became academics, teachers, or public servants. Like nurses and other caring professions, teachers aren't in it for the money, and they certainly don't get a lot of respect in our society. We pay lip service to teachers and the need for a quality education system, but really, if it can't be justified with metaphors drawn from sport we quickly lose interest.

Kids have been ‘empowered’ by the rhetoric of the 'politically correct' to the degree that even they often show little thanks for what their teachers are doing. This is where many teachers abandon ship in hopes of doing anything but teaching. For those who stay on due to a sense of dedication or desperation, the only way of coping is to embrace the absurdity of their situation and try to make the best of it, with humour, if possible.

LD: As someone who has worked in different countries and settings in private, public and educational sectors, what elements from your experience were synthesized into your novel to make these characters step from the page with so much familiarity?

DR: People who work for reasons other than money do share a common ground with workers in other professions, and national boundaries really make little difference. There are countries where education is more highly regarded than it is in Australia, but only a minority of teachers benefit from this. I was influenced by a recent BBC TV series, Teachers, which follows the lives of teachers in a typical English public school, doing their best to ignore the antics of their power-hungry Principal. These are people who no longer think of teaching as being a ‘higher’ calling: it's a means of paying the bills.

The humour in that series arises from the relationships between the teachers who regard students and administrators as an inconvenience, a distraction from their social lives. But their situation, and their strategies for staying sane, are no different from those of people in any other line of work, where their contribution goes unrewarded and seldom acknowledged.

LD: Primary Instinct is acutely funny, emphasizing the point that laughter is the best medicine when confronted with the slippery nature of workplace politics. Can you name some of your favourite satirists and humourists who caught your eye during your evolution as an author?

DR: I'm originally from North America, where there's a long tradition of satiric fiction, dating back to Ambrose Bierce, Washington Irving and HL Mencken up to more recent authors like Philip Roth and John Updike. I've also been influenced by cinema, with directors like Woody Allen and the Coen brothers, and serials like Yes, Prime Minister, South Park and The Simpsons.

PrimaryInstinctAustralia, too, is fertile ground for satire as seen in Frontline, Kath & Kim, The Chaser and most recently The Hollowmen. My hope is that some jaded producer out there will recognize the potential of Primary Instinct to add a new dimension to Australian satire and offer me six figures for the TV rights.

LD: Judging by your earlier works, and by the gutsy roll call of books published by IP, you’re not afraid of confronting the big issues. What was it that called you to tackle the underlying issues in Primary Instinct? What responses have you gotten from readers so far?

DR: Even as I write this, my wife is ducking for cover, for fear that her colleagues at school will see themselves in this book and, out of revenge, not share their Tim-Tams with her at morning tea. Of course I will deny that any of them served as inspiration for the characters here, or that my wife furnished me with CCTV footage. Instead, I'll insist that their seeing themselves in the book is evidence of the book's universality, and the failure of the education system to train teachers to dispassionately analyse prose. Those who protest too much at the pub may find themselves edited out of the sequel as surely as John Howard was voted out of office for taking satire far too seriously.

[On Global Cooling]

LD: There is so much press about global warming these days, it's tough for kids to feel positive about the future. How does your novel, Global Cooling, inspire kids not only towards optimism, but also towards participation in today's environmental issues?

DR: Bruno Bettleheim, the great psychologist, once wrote a seminal essay called ‘The Uses of Enchantment’, in which he argued that kids should be encouraged to read fairy tales, despite their violence and threatening elements. Kids need a way to engage the issues of our day in a way that gives them the chance to find hope in adversity.

Too many adults think that children need to be DR_MKCsheltered from things that might harm them. But kids are much more robust and insightful than we think and being sheltered from issues like Global Warming only makes them feel anxious and all the more powerless. Dealing with these issues on their level is the first step to understanding and a change in attitude. They can identify with the positive steps the characters in the novel take to spread the word about Project Earthmend, and hopefully adopt those attitudes and actions in their own lives.

LD: Global Cooling follows the classic buddy story/journey motif found in so many beloved children's works. What attracted you to this particular motif? Were there any other similar stories that inspired you as a child?

DR: The journey motif is key in most fiction, and children's lit is no exception. I suppose my starting point was AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh books, which are entertaining but also laden with social meaning and morality. Children often disregard the advice of their parents, but certain children's books have a credibility that invites children in as a respected participant in the discovery of meaning. I hope Global Cooling, and its prequel The Greenhouse Effect work in that tradition of story-telling, which converses with kids rather than talking down to them.

I also was influenced by a book I read more recently by the Canadian novelist Timothy Findley called Not wanted on the Voyage, which is a retelling of the Noah and the Ark story from the perspective of a cat. I think it's a good idea to change the filters of our realities now and then to see things from the perspective of others. Given that animals have even less power to change the direction of things, giving them a voice here makes sense, at least to me.

LD: As a parent yourself, and with your wife Cherie, a teacher, you trialled the book with groups of children and teachers. Tell us about that process.

DR: I've read The Greenhouse Effect to many groupsGlobalCooling of children, teachers and parents since it came out four years ago, and I've been pleased at how little direction kids need to discuss the themes of the work. With little help they are able to analyse without realising that they're doing it, and few teachers have had to rely on teacher's notes to lead discussions. More often than not the kids direct the discussion, effortlessly relating what's going on in the book to what's happening in their world, and what we need to do to make things better.

LD: Your children's books often tackle difficult, pertinent themes while reintroducing them to your young audience in a palatable, intuitive way. Tell us about your other books and how kids have responded to them.

DR: Another book is Real Guns, a picture book I did with Patrick J Murphy, an accomplished artist living in Belfast. It's been interesting to watch the reception to that book. Some teachers and librarians worry about exposing kids to issues surrounding guns—again, there's that misplaced impulse to protect by treating certain subjects as taboo. Kids, on the other hand, RealGunslove Real Guns. Boys, especially. There's too much ‘nice’ fiction out there for kids, books that create an imaginative world at odds with the real world. Real Guns and the Project Earthmend Series hopefully meet kids on an imaginative ground that helps prepare them to deal with problems lying ahead with confidence rather than a position of ignorance.

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[Assistant Editor, Children's Titles, Anna Bartlett interviewed Duncan Richardson about his book Jason Chen and the Time Banana]

AB: You've had collections of your poetry published, but you also write children's stories. What interests you most in writing for children?

DR: Firstly, it’s a lot of fun and through experience with my own kids and the children that I teach, I find most of the ideas I get these days are children’s stories. It’s an area of writing where good plots still count and you can have fun with characters even if the topic verges on the serious.

AB: As a teacher, you must have had a lot of experience with kids. Does this help you when it comes to creating child characters?

DR: I think so. It keeps me in touch with authentic child voices and perspectives on life without having to think about it consciously.

AB: Where did the idea for Jason Chen and the Time Banana come from, and how long did it take to write?

JasonChenDR: Jason came from different directions. The character is based on kids I’ve taught, but the story evolved from reading local history and discovering the anti-Chinese riot in Brisbane, and rumours about a fire being started to discredit the local Chinese. The parallels between that and the backwash of One Nation and other spreaders of racist ideas were interesting, and I wanted a way to bring them together.

AB: In the book, Jason goes back in time to Brisbane of the 1860s. You live in Brisbane; do you have a particular interest in the history of the area?

DR: The history of any place that I go is always interesting to me and having spent most of my life in Brisbane, it’s something I can’t get enough of. We also have a lot of hidden history, including some great stories that should get far more attention; for example, I’ve found very few locals know about the Fire of Brisbane in 1864, and yet they know about the Fire of London.

AB: What sort of research did you have to do to make sure all the historical details in Jason were correct?

DR: I found old maps at the State Archives, read magazines and papers from the day plus diaries and histories. Visiting the places as they are now was also useful and whenever I pass Hungry Jacks on Queens St, I imagine the fire that destroyed the whole block.

AB: Jason himself has Chinese-Vietnamese parents, and in the story he faces racism both in his own time and in the past. How important do you think it is to give children an awareness of issues such as racism?

DR: In our society, because racism still exists, it’s important for everyone to be aware of it and of course we have more chance of reducing it if kids grow up rejecting it. However, I hope the story doesn’t preach. It is an adventure story first of all and hopefully the message isn’t dominant.

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[David Reiter interviewed Barry Levy about his research material in composing the hard-hitting novel As If! in preparation for their discussion of issues like this in their upcoming tour to Regional Queensland]

DR: Your book features Ipswich, a regional town not far from Brisbane. Is that because the events depicted are based on experiences or knowledge you have about Ipswich? Or do you feel that Ipswich is sufficiently representative of the Australian character for people to relate to it as a locale?

BL: Both of the above. I used Ipswich as the backdrop because it is the town I know best; it is where I spent most of my time as a working journalist in Australia. However, a lot of the initial interviews and my first knowledge of youth homelessness came in Rockhampton, where I wrote a series of articles on the problem. The reality: the two towns were no different. Just as, from reading and personal observation, I have seen Brisbane, at any rate some suburbs (I was a teacher for a while in Inala, for example), is no different, and so essentially the book could have been written backgrounded against Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for that matter.

It is a reality anyway, as I have found and youth shelter workers well know, that kids in this situation move around, interstate and intrastate for various reasons. It is part of the reason the book is set in Ipswich, takes in Brisbane and ends in Sydney. On a literary level, I like working with backgrounds I know first hand – but was appreciative that Ipswich had the name Ipswich – which correlates with the first-named town in England. I think the book is that universal - in terms of youth homelessness in the First World.

DR: The novel is confronting in its depiction of youth homelessness and violence. Do you feel that fiction is a better medium than non-fiction to encourage your readers to be informed about social issues of the day?

BarryLBL: Both fiction and non-fiction are equally relevant in informing people about social issues. However, for me, the fictional approach is best because it allows for greater audience participation and ‘enjoyment’, and leads to insights into the human mind and ‘soul’ that would appear as no more than speculation in the documentary form. It is a matter of how you dress the clothes around the facts that will determine fiction’s ultimate relevance, poignancy and social influence.

DR: Your style is lyrical, almost poetic. What made you choose this kind of style to render your subject matter?

BL: For me it is not a choice. I saw myself as a poet as I was growing up and for many years it was my favourite writing form (most thrown away now). From there, with the exception of a biographical book, I went on to short story writing only to find the best short stories, to my mind, are like expanded poems. Novel writing for me is like an expansion of this. The sounds of words are very important. And the way they are presented have to underpin meaning.

DR: What made you choose IP as the best publisher of this work?

BL: I have to admit here that I did try a couple of other publishers, who responded with some favourable comments (just getting a brief comment – other than sorry - from the large publishing houses is a big deal). On the other hand one small Melbourne publisher told me they thought they weren’t big enough for the book! Fortunately I have a friend in the book distribution industry and sent it to him to appraise and give advice. He said: ‘This is right up David – IP’s – alley.’ I hopped on to the website, was very impressed with what I saw and sent the ms to IP, who helped guide the novel to the even more powerful work that it is today.

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Articulate Conception

[Jane Scott recently interviewed Darren Groth for a feature in The Brisbane News. We thought the article was so insightful that we want to share it with you. Thanks to The Brisbane News for permission to reprint it here.]

They say it’s good to “talk” to your unborn child, for mum or dad to chat away through the tummy wall to the foetus, which can, apparently, hear its parents and will bond with their familiar voices. In Darren Groth’s latest novel, The Umbilical Word, this concept takes a giant leap forward when the protagonist, Adam, emails his child-to-be and is
somewhat freaked to get a reply – as you would be.
Father and child continue to exchange messages, and the reader learns that Adam and his wife Maddy have a history of failed pregnancies – a history that is making this current pregnancy very stressful indeed.

For Brisbane-born Darren (now based in Vancouver),
the story has its roots in personal experience. He and
his Canadian wife Wendy experienced fertility problems and now have six-year-old twins, Jared and Chloe, born following IVF-related processes.
“The nature of Adam and Maddy’s history was
deliberately different to ours,” the 38-year-old said on a recent visit to his home city. “I’m not the sort of writer who likes to throw my own life experience under the bus, as it were, but as a writer to really create strong work, you have to bring something of yourself to it.”

Certainly, The Umbilical Word brings a refreshingUmbilicalWord
male perspective to a subject men don’t necessarily think about, let alone talk about. Darren recalls his own shock at discovering that conception was not going to come easily. “I could never have imagined that we’d face such an elemental life challenge. It was all supposed to fall into place. For guys, especially, we don’t think of this stuff. It was nothing I ever thought I’d have to deal with.

“My intent with the story is always just to write a great story. In this particular circumstance, the tag for the story has been, ‘It’ll make dad laugh and mum cry’. I’d like to think it could be the other way round as well.”

More challenges came when their son was diagnosed as autistic. This prompted the family’s move to Canada.

“Just at pre-school age we started to run into some pretty significant challenges here in terms of providing support and help for Jared,” Darren says.

They learned that in Canada, autistic children are much better provided for by the education system, and in May last year the family upped sticks and left Brisbane behind.

“The motivation for going has been validated in a lot of different ways,” says Darren. “Our little guy’s doing great, Wendy’s reconnecting with her family, our little girl Chloe is having a ball over there. And for me, I sort of like being different – it’s nice being an Aussie over there.

“I’d like to get a writing career going over there too,
but that’s going to take time. I like to think the universal nature of my stories can have some wide-ranging appeal.”

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Fact into Fiction, Fiction into Fact

Fact can sometimes be even trickier than fiction when we’re trying to decide how much fact to inject into our fiction. The reverse is true when we’re writing “creative non-fiction”, that is, a book that is largely based on fact but employs fictional devices to keep the reader’s interest.

Think of it as making bread. In creative non-fiction, the facts are the flour providing the bulk of what eventually gets baked and eaten, but the fictional devices, especially style, are the yeast, without which the bread would not rise, ending up an impenetrable bulk.

The craft is in the balance, and recipes, like this piece of advice, can only be a guide. Originality comes with the risk of exotic ingredients that appeal to the senses and keep the reader...chewing.

It’s easier to operate in the purer forms. A scholarly book leaves no room for fiction. The only way of maintaining reader interest is by having an engaging topic or a flare for style—making a potentially dull topic come alive. We all know of scientists and historians who are good at it. David Suzuki, the Canadian geneticist, has a conversational style that conveys complex information with simplicity. David Attenborough’s documentaries are an example of scripts that communicate and entertain.

At the other extreme is pure fiction—if that ever exists—where fact is a construct of the writer’s imagination, to be manipulated for the purpose of telling a story. The reader may be invited to leave all preconceived notions of fact behind in a fictional environment where the rules are different. Rather than testing the work’s credibility against our sense of how things operate in the ‘real’ world, we have to learn a different set of rules against which the work can be judged.

Henry James once said that we have to allow the author his or her method, setting aside our preconceived notions of how things are, judging the effectiveness of the work by what it sets out to achieve within a particular conditional environment and then considering how well it meets those aims. So it’s a good idea for a writer to consider the rules by which his work will operate and then to follow through consistently in writing the work. For example, if an author suggests in the first chapter that the work will be based on verifiable information, e.g. personal profiles based on real people, then she would not want to introduce material from a third-hand source that she had not properly researched. But if you do plan to project certain views that have not or cannot be accurately researched, that needs to be suggested by the work early on.

For example, in my work Hemingway in Spain, much of the depiction of Hemingway is based on fact, what I knew of him from my reading and teaching of his works over several years. However, I had a post modern purpose in writing the work, bringing Hemingway back to life in the present day, to face his personal and artistic ghosts, so I establish that from the first page, where we see him at a modern day fountain, addressing the Spanish novelist Cervantes about his attitudes toward life.

The point is, you can add an imaginary twist to your non-fiction if the reader is clear about the rules governing your fictional environment.

In one of our most recent novels, As If!, author Barry Levy employs the knowledge he gained about youth culture, violence and homelessness from his research as a journalist. Doubtlessly the characters in the novel are based on people he knew or are composites of several people. But realistic fiction has to be more economical than real life, fusing characteristics drawn from real life to create representative characters without slowing down the action.

In my new novel Primary Instinct I began with an understanding of personalities at a local state school where my wife has worked for several years and used that as the starting point for the characters in the novel. Imagination comes into play in a fictional work in those departure points from what we know to be ‘true’ into what we convey as a truth in the fictional environment. While fictional characters may resemble the real people the author had in mind, it’s a mistake to create fictional characters as the equivalent of their real counterparts; otherwise we have documentary masquerading as fiction.

These issues and more will be the subject of workshops and conversations between me and our new crop of authors on our upcoming Winter Tour. See Out and About for further details, and attend if you can to learn more about the interplay between fiction and fact in the composing process.

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IP Kidz Update

As well the extended tour for David’s Global Cooling we will soon be releasing Duncan Richardson’s chapter book Jason and the Time Banana, with a launch scheduled at Corinda State School on 14 September. A Brisbane author andJasonChen teacher, Duncan is well-known in the local community and we’re hopeful that his new book will be well-received. Jason is an interesting mix of time-traveling, fantasy and multi-cultural themes set in part in historical Brisbane. Duncan is hard at work on a Teacher’s Guide.

We have now signed Libby Hathorn for Roksanna’s Rose and are talking to her about two more titles. Doris Unger will illustrate Roksanna, which is scheduled for release in the first half of 2009.

Elizabeth Botté has signed to illustrate Juliet Williams’ The Giggle Gum Tree, and work is progressing on the illustrations for Goldie Alexander’s Long Live Us and Edel Wignell’s Lame Duck Protest.

Di Bates’ Aussie Kid Heroes is being illustrated and permissions for her poetry anthology Our Home is Dirt by Sea are being arranged.

Anna Barlett, Assistant Editor, Children’s Titles, has been hard at work on these titles and more.

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IP Digital Buzz

We were pleased to learn that David’s short film A Simple Tale has been Highly Commended at the Queensland Poetry Festival’s Film Challenge. The film, which features the poetry of Stephen SimpleTaleOliver from his Text + Audio CD King Hit, the music of Matt Ottley and still images by Swiss doco film maker Christian Frei will be screened in a special session Sunday afternoon at the QPF. It is already available for previewing on YouTube.

IP will be giving away copies of the film at the QPF bookshop to people who buy Stephen’s King Hit or his recent poetry collection Harmonic. If you can’t make the Festival you can still get your free copy of the film by ordering these titles under Your Deal.

We expect to release podcasts of Stephen’s CD and A Simple Tale shortly, along with a vodcast of our Gala Autumn event at the Performance Studio, 4MBS.

We’ll be signing Kathy Kituai and Nitya Parker for a new Text + Audio CD based on Kathy’s book of tanka, Straggling into Winter. Nitya plays a variety of world instruments to suit Kathy’s poetic exploration of people coming to terms with terminal illness. We hope to sell the CD (and the book) in hospital and gift shops as well as traditional bookstores.

Google Book Search provides us with weekly reports on visits to our books, including click throughs to buy. Not surprisingly, our popular fiction titles under Glass House Books like Live by the Bottle and our new release fantasy novel by LR Saul, Bloodline, seem to be the most popular, but there are a few surprises like David Reiter’s Kiss and Tell. Just goes to show that even poetry will sell if it has a good title and an attractive cover!

Another first for IP is our partnership with Amazon.com to supply them with titles for their new Kindle ebook reader. Not available in Australia as yet, but a hot item in North America, the Kindle provides text that “looks and feels like paper”. Amazon claims to have more than 145,000 titles, including New York Times bestsellers and new releases. Content is delivered to the Kindle wirelessly, ‘in less than a minute’. A step up from other ebook readers, the Kindle can display pictures as well as text. IP is in testing mode with Kindle at present and we’ve so far uploaded recent titles As If! ,The Umbilical Word and the upcoming Primary Instinct. We expect to upload many other titles over the coming months. IP authors will receive normal royalties on revenue we receive from Kindle sales.

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IP Sales

We were pleased to hear that our distributor, the Australian Book Group, has now firmed up relationships with three agents in New Zealand. So we’re looking forward to expanded sales there, especially with at least two new New Zealand titles scheduled for release in 2009 (more on that next issue after the contracts are signed).

Sales via POD (print on demand) services from Lightning Source and BookSurge are increasing steadily, and we hope to increase these even more as we more actively promote to the North American and European markets. Our leading titles for POD sales in July were Sylvia Petter’s Back Burning, Darren Groth’s The Umbilical Word and Tilly Brasch’s No Middle Name.

Jack Drake’s bush poetry CDs still lead the sales of our audio products on CD Baby and David Reiter’s Hemingway in Spain film is selling well at CreateSpace, especially via Amazon’s Unbox program, where buyers download a digital rather than a physical copy of the film.

David Reiter attended his first Australian Book Group sales conference the day after ABG displayed our wares at the Australian VoyageShukenoorBooksellers’ Association book fair. ABG’s reps seemed to be upbeat about our upcoming Winter Season titles, especially David’s Primary Instinct and Erica Bell’s The Voyage of the Shuckenoor. We’re hopeful that this confidence will translate into strong sales.

On his recent trip to Western Australia, David visited Westbooks, a major supplier to libraries and schools, to promote our titles, as well as Acquisition staff at the State Library of WA, and Edwards Book Agencies, the agent for ABG in WA. All seemed impressed with our recent list.

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IP Picks Update

Do we hear the sound of keystrokes in the distance? They must belong to authors feverishly typing out the latest draft of their IP Picks entry!

Now entering its eighth successful year, the Picks competition is firmly on the national literary map, with entries coming to us from every State and Territory. The most recent competition recorded double the number of entries of the previous year. And six entrants over the four categories were offered royalty publication.

Up until now we have restricted entries to authors who are Australian citizens or residents, but, for the next competition, in recognition of our expanding list of New Zealand titles, we thought it only fair that we should invite entries from New Zealand authors, making this the first transtasman competition for unpublished manuscripts. The total number of categories – Best Fiction, Best Creative Non-fiction, Best Poetry and Best First Book – remain the same.

Entries open on 1 October and close with the last post mark on 1 December. Entry forms and conditions are now available on the Picks site.

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Out & About

Our Autumn Season kicked off at Collected Works Bookshop, Melbourne, with the launch of David Gilbey’s Death and the Motorway. David DeathMotorwayhas since kept up the momentum with appearances in Brisbane and regional New South Wales, including a well-attended launch at the Wagga Wagga City Library (he teaches at the Charles Sturt University in Wagga).

The Season continued in Brisbane with readings by Darren Groth (The Umbilical Word) and Barry Levy (As If!) at Mary Ryans Bookshop, Milton, and a sumptuous soirée at Sassafras Café in Paddington. We were a bit nervous about the soirée, given the informal outdoor venue, after The Drought broke long enough to dump copious AsIf!amounts of rain in Brisbane that morning and into the afternoon, but the gods were kind and let the stars come out that evening. In a sneak preview of the Gala slated for the Performance Studio at 4MBS, Darren Groth read from his novel The Umbilical Word, as did Barry Levy, from his As If!, joined by David Gilbey and David Reiter with short readings from their books.

We were especially pleased to have Darren with us. Though originally a Brisbane boy, he now lives in Canada with his Canadian wife and kids but he managed a return flight to lead workshops for the State Library of Queensland as well as for this launch.

A large crowd turned out for the Gala on the following Sunday, and the video recording for went without a hitch—now we just have to find the time to put the podcast up on the site!

David then headed off to Perth, where he was hosted by FAW WA at the Tom Collins House, which proved to be very cosy amidst the very chilly and rainy weather—but then he hadn’t gone all that way for the beaches, had he? He ran his popular Selling That Book workshop and met with several prospective authors in Inside Track Consultations. (We’re pleased to report that three of those authors now have works under serious consideration by IP for publication, so obviously the Inside Track Consultations work!

A main reason for David’s visit was to act as master of ceremonies for the launch of Coral Petkovich’s memoir/biography Ivan, from Adriatic to Pacific at her local Croatian club. It was Coral’s first public reading of her work, and, to her amazement, it all went well! Coral tells us that she and her partner Ned are off soon to Croatia for a visit, so we hope they have a stock of books along to keep them company!

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In what could well be a first for a Queensland state school, Grade 7 students organised and hosted a launch for Global Cooling. They had painted huge posters based on the front cover, one student gave an insightful launch speech, while another waxed on eloquently about David’s accomplishments. Sales and signings at the book table were brisk and the refreshments disappeared quickly. What more could you ask for in a successful launch? OK, media coverage. The South-East Advertiser had an article and the online Westender had an extensive feature. We’re hoping that Education Queensland will give us a plug in Education Views, since they should be proud of their students’ performance.

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Plans for our Winter Season Tour are already advanced, with David and Barry flying to Cairns on 30 August to participate in the Tropical Writers Festival on the Regional Queensland leg. Events have been confirmed in Ravenshoe, Airlie Beach, Hydeaway Bay, Mackay, Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Gladstone. Here’s the itinerary as it stands, and we’ll update it here as needed.

Tour Dates for Regional Queensland

30 August (3:30 pm): Launch of Vocal Enrichment: Path to Enlightenment (Hazel Menehira); As If! (Barry Levy); Primary Instinct and Global Cooling (David Reiter); Cairns (Tropical Writers Festival

31 August (3 pm): Barry serves on a panel of Published Writers; Tropical Writers Festival

All day Inside Track Consultations with David (by appointment)

1 Sept (morning): Inside Track Consultations with David (appointment essential)

6pm Ravenshoe Writers Group hosts readings from Hazel, Barry and David’s books. The Mountain Institute, Moore Street, Ravenshoe

2 Sept Innisfail Writers Group, Innisfail Library, Innisfail Cultural Centre, TBC

3 Sept Launch of Gloria Burley’s Blood and Guts with readings from David and Barry’s books, Beach Library, Proserpine, from 6 pm

4 Sept Workshop on turning research material and personal experience into fiction with Barry, David and Gloria, Gordon White Library, Philip Street, Mackay, 7 pm

5 Sept Readings by Barry and David at CQU Bookshop, Rockhampton, 3:30 pm

6 Sept Launch of John Peach’s The Biggest-ever Mining Swindle in the Colonies, plus readings by Barry and David, Yeppoon Sailing Club, 5:30 pm p

7 Sept Readings by Barry and David at Gladstone Library, 144 Goondoon Street,,Gladstone, 1 pm

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David will tour Tasmania for a week from 21 September with Erica Bell (The Voyage of the Shuckenoor) with events at the Hobart Bookshop on Sunday 21, September from 4pm) and other stops along the way. David then flies back to Sydney to be featured at Poetry at the Pub in Newcastle from 7 pm on Monday, 29 September.

We also have confirmed dates for events at Gleebooks on Tuesday, 30 September, from 6:30 pm, featuring Erica Bell and LR Saul (Bloodline: Alliance) in conversation about their new books with David, who will also read from Primary Instinct and Global Cooling. The same crew will appear at Readings, Carlton on Thursday, 2 October from 6:30 pm.

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Congratulations to Michael O’Sullivan (Secret Writing and Easter at Tobruk), whose story “All the forgotten people”, was Commended in the 2008 Alan Marshall Short Story Award, judged by Cate Kennedy (Joyflight).

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On 29 July David was a guest speaker along with Linda Funnell of Harper-Collins at the Queensland University of Technology, talking about how emerging authors can build a profile. More than 50 people turned up, so there is certainly no drought in the number of authors keen on being published! Just before that session, he met with the Director of Creative Enterprises Australia to explore possible partnerships between CEA and IP, especially on the New Media front.

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David was recently elected on to the Australian Publishers Association expert panel on Professional Development and flew to Sydney for the inaugural 2008 meeting of that panel where he lobbied for the adoption of new media strategies like podcasting to disseminate information to APA members outside of Sydney and Melbourne as well as new courses on digital publishing and distribution.

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In Review

[These are snippets from full reviews. Click on the link to view the complete review for each title.]

On Jan Dean's With One Brush:

This versatility, ability to move from one perspective to another, building on memory and imagination, gives her collection a special WithOneBrushcoherence, held together by her deep understanding of the visual arts and how they may be integrated in poetry, bringing luminosity to her writing. What emerges is an intriguingly layered appreciation of life as seen by the artist, colouring memory of the past, showing light and shadow through sensation and perception, projecting hope for what is to come.

– John Sheppard, Five Bells (Poets Union)

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On Stephen Oliver's Harmonic

Oliver has often had a taste for weird and uniqueHarmonic stuff. He is an exuberant poet and has the smarts to go from intimacy to urgency. Oliver is the real deal, a grown-up poet who can convey sadness and snarkiness at once.

– Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

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on Sylvia Petter's Back Burning 

Every one of these stories demonstrates her skill and precision as a story-teller, her unerring BackBurningability to evoke lives in their various complexities. Some have been published before, either in her previous collection, The Past Present, (Iumix) or in various online and paper journals, others I've not seen before. The whole builds into a rich and varied collection which deserves its IP Picks 2007 Best Fiction Award.

– Zoé King, Cadenza

Although readers often describe a good book as one they couldn't put down or that they read in a single sitting, it is refreshing to encounter a book of stories that can't be consumed like popcorn... The book is short enough to be read in an afternoon, but the twenty-eight stories demand reflection and should be taken one at a time.

– Justus Humphrey, Antipodes

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Your Deal

Queensland Poetry Festival Special! Order either Stephen Oliver's King Hit or Harmonic and get a free copy of David Reiter's Highly Commended short film A Simple Tale.

King Hit

 

 

 

King Hit and Harmonic retail for $25. Order online, specifying YD39-1 in the Comments field Individual orders only.

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Celebrate the release of Global Cooling, the Global Coolingsecond book in the Project Earthmend Series and also get the first, The Greenhouse Effect, for just $10 ($5 off the RRP). Your kids will thank you for it!

Just specify YD39-2 in the Comments field of our order form.

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