Primary Instinct
 
the newsletter of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

 
 

Director's Welcome

DR_Photo

It's amazing the difference a few months can make! Last issue, Brisbane was still in the grip of drought, but now our dams are half full, so there's reason to feel upbeat – even if the economy is on life-support!

They say that books become more popular during financial downturns, so IP is more than happy to keep you company on your reading table. Kim showcases a number of exciting titles we have coming up, for all age groups, so do some online shopping and keep our authors in the black!

Thanks to Jeremy, you can now follow us between newsletters on Facebook and Twitter, so please drop by, or follow us, whatever the catch word is for keeping in touch.

We're about to release six new titles in our upcoming tours down south and in New Zealand, and are about to go to press with four more, including two new IP Kidz titles, and interesting artbook called Mum: Speaking Latin with a Singlet Tan, by artist Dale Kentwell, which will also have a film version (more on that next issue) and a poetry book, towards a grammar of being, by Julie Waugh, a Sydneysider living temporarily in Ireland.

IP is no stranger to controversy, as you'll see in my Editorial about Primary Instinct, and we have several interesting interviews for you to read over a cuppa.

Finally, we have to bid a sad farewell to Kim Chandler, who served as a work experience editor for six months, and impressed everyone she came in contact with. She certainly left her mark on your newsletter! Kim has assumed full-time employment elsewhere, but has assured us that her indiction to IP will continue, as we hope it will.

We welcome Jo Brennan to the fold as her replacement. Jo comes to us from the University of Queensland, where she's majoring in politics and philosophy, subjects that will certainly hold her in good stead in the politically charge atmosphere of an independent publishing house. She's hit the ground running, is already making a dent in the slushpile and helping out with our contact with the schools. Librarians be warned: she doesn't take no for an answer!

Other new staff include Assistant Editors Kieran Davey and Laura Simpson. Kieran has a strong background on the editorial side, while Laura will be working in promotions and media liaison. Check back on our Contacts page in about a week for a more detailed profile on them.

And don't forget the bargains in Your Deal, which we guarantee will keep you warm between now and the next newsletter.

Cheers!
David

Editor's Welcome

KimC

Welcome to the Autumn edition of our newsletter. I hope that everyone had an enjoyable and safe Easter weekend and that you’re all keeping healthy as we move into the colder months.

Personally, Autumn is my favourite season. I find that reading becomes a lot more enjoyable when you’re wrapped in a comfortable blanket with a nice hot cup of coffee/tea/chocolate sitting next to you. I’m sure that some of you out there will feel the same way and luckily we have some great reading to keep you company!

We have six excellent titles coming out in May and you’ll find interviews with four of those authors in our Focus section. There’s a great new kids title from Juliet Williams called The Giggle Gum Tree, a collection of stories from the hitchhikers of Australasia in Tom and Simon Sykes’ new book The Hitchers of Oz, L R Saul’s second novel, Sacrifice, is also on its way and last but not least World Cup Baby by Euan McCabe, the perfect book for all you World Cup fans! Along with those four titles we also have two new poetry titles: Liquefaction by New Zealand author Iain Britton and an anthology of science fiction poetry by New Zealand authors called Voyagers, edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones.

We catch up with some of our other authors to see what they’re up to. David will be coming down to Melbourne in May to launch The Giggle Gum Tree with Juliet Williams and Paul Jennings, more details about that can be found in the Out & About section. A tour of North Queensland with Ann Jones and Eugenie Navarre is also in the works, dates to be confirmed. So keep your eyes open because something could be happening in your area.

As always this issue of eNews is jam-packed with information, updates, feature articles, reviews and a great ‘How-to’ for the budding writers out there.

Unfortunately this will be the last newsletter that I will be sending out for IP. It’s a shame to be leaving but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and am thankful for the wonderful editors and writers that I have been able to work with and meet. I’d like to thank David for the great opportunity, I have learnt so much. It’s great to see independent publishers out there and giving writers opportunities to have their work shown.

Stay safe, keep warm and keep reading!

Enjoy!
- Kimberly

 

FEATURED ARTISTS

IainB

Iain Britton's latest poetry collection Liquefaction will be released on 15 May
read more >

EuanM

If you're a World Cup fan then you will love Euan McCabe's new book World Cup Baby being released on 15 May
read more >

JulietW

Juliet Williams brings conservation to the forefront with her new kids title The Giggle Gum Tree
read more >

LRSaul

L R Saul is back and releasing Sacrifice, her second fantasy novel with Interactive Publications
read more >

MarkP

Mark Pirie (pictured) and Tim Jones are the editors behind Voyagers, a poetry anthology of science fiction poetry from New Zealand authors
read more >

T&SSykes

Tom and Simon Sykes have a chat about their new book The Hitchers of Oz being released on 15 May
read more >

 

 

 

 

 

LibIdol

"Librarian Idol" performs @ the Somerset Conference, where David gave a talk on
Digital Futures in Publishing.
Note the healthy finger food!

 

GoldieA

Goldie Alexander wows the kids at Garden City Library (Brisbane) during the Lame Duck Protest tour. The obligatory child model is Alexander Reiter

 

      
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Editorial

Education Queensland Fears Primary Instinct!

Fiction really can be stranger than real life! If you’re a bureaucrat already stinging from revelations from the OECD that sees Australia near the bottom of the heap in educational standards, it’s no wonder you’re a bit gun-shy about a book that provides an inside view of local schools.

That book is Primary Instinct, by yours truly.

Our spies tell us that Education Queensland has launched a secret investigation into the novel. A hit squad from their Ethical Standards Committee have been interrogating teachers, past and present, from a local school, which some people believe served as the inspiration for the novel.

Since bureaucrats are not renown for their ability to deal with the subtleties of satire, I became a bit concerned. No, very concerned. Why the Star Chamber approach? If they had a gripe about the themes addressed in the book, why didn’t they come over for a chat at morning tea? (We have enough Tim-Tams to go around…)

The first I knew about it was a call we received from two former teachers at the school, who complained about the heavy-handed tactics of the chair of the Committee and basically told him to take a hike.

Primary Instinct Apparently the investigation has been going on for weeks, and shows no signs of wrapping up soon.

Naturally, I have sought answers from EQ, and who better to address my questions than the Director-General (or, in this case, the Acting Director-General — we have had an election in Queensland lately, and a few heads have rolled.)

No doubt a graduate of the Sir Humphrey Appleby School of Information Spin, the A/D-G had little to say but managed to spread it over two pages. Yes, she could confirm that an investigation into the book was under way. But, no, she could not reveal:

• the terms of reference
• who had been questioned
• what questions had been asked
• when the investigation would conclude

If appropriate, I might be invited to address the Committee at a future date. Which could mean that I might not.

And that, at length, was all she could say. To have said anything of substance would have shown, in Sir Humphrey’s words, “great courage”.

Those of you who have visited the book’s mini-site may well wonder what all the fuss is about, if the book delivers on its mission to promote discussion about important social issues, as well as being an entertaining insight into the lives of teachers. Early reviews from teachers and people outside the education system have been uniformly positive. Readers interstate and overseas have often commented that the depiction of characters in the novel “reminds them of teachers they have known” or even of themselves, if they have had the dubious fortune to teach in a public school. Which is, of course, the object of satire.

If the A/D-G or her Ethical Standards Committee are reading this, I can assure them that this novel was inspired by fact and people I have known, but from a variety of sources rather than a single school. I taught university for 15 years—a teacher is a teacher is a teacher. I had a stint as Publishing Manager at the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies, which was overrun by teachers, all of whom had stories they planned to put into a book one day. I was Publishing Manager at the Criminal Justice Commission, which handled many complaints against EQ and its employees. I know of what I speak—and 17 titles on, I’m very capable of fictionalising it!

Where satire gets bogged down in local issues and does not call to mind universal themes, it fails. From all evidence at hand Primary Instinct has succeeded as satire – to the extent that EQ is considering it as a candidate for a Brisbane re-enactment of Fahrenheit 451.

Word is getting around. Libraries in South-east Queensland can’t keep copies of Primary Instinct on the shelves. Neither can the bookshops. If you’re curious about this latest attack on creative expression — or you simply want a good gossip about the not-so-secret lives of teachers—go down to your local bookshop and demand a copy. And, if they are still not in stock, email us with Send Me Primary Instinct as your Subject, and we’ll send it to you postage-free. With a money-back guarantee. Love it, or return it, for a full refund.

Sir Humphrey will doubtlessly admire your great courage.

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Focus

[Anna Bartlett interviewed Juliet Williams about her upcoming kids picture book The Giggle Gum Tree.]

AB: The Giggle Gum Tree is the first picture book you’ve had published, which must be very exciting for you. How long have you been interested in writing?

JW: I was interested in reading before writing. I read a lot as a child, and loved adventure stories by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl that are still popular today. I wrote lots of poetry and kept a journal for many years, with all sorts of writing in it. Journals are a great place to experiment with writing and test different genres.

AB: What do you think is the best part about writing for children?

JW: I don’t feel restricted by anything when I first think about a story idea or concept. I can literally let Julietmy imagination go wherever it likes and this is such a fun process to go through. Things only become restrictive when the writing starts, but then I enjoy the technical challenges involved. The process of creating a picture book is a great mix of these skills and of course reaching that ultimate goal of watching a child read the story, enjoy it and read it again.

AB: The Giggle Gum Tree is a sweet, imaginative story about two sisters who work together to save their favourite neighbourhood tree from destruction. Where did your inspiration for this story come from?

JW: My daughters and I would go for long walks around our neighbourhood and we came across lots of giggle gum trees. The girls would walk underneath it (or be pushed under in the pram) and the leaves would tickle them. It was the highlight of our walks and they giggled like crazy. Trees were also significant in my childhood – a place for adventures and fun.

AB: One of the themes in The Giggle Gum Tree is community – working together as a community, and the impact that one action or decision can have on the rest of the community. For example, the decision to cut down the giggle gum affects everyone from the adults to the children to the cockatoo that lives in the tree’s branches. How important do you think it is for people to be aware of the impact their actions can have on those around them?

JW: It’s very important of course, and ideally everyone would think a lot more carefully about the impact of their decisions and actions if they were informed or aware of what these might be. Sometimes the damage is inadvertent because it was really hard to foresee, or was unexpected. I do believe people should think about the potential impact of their decisions/ actions and act responsibly, especially when it involves the environment and wildlife.

AB: You’re actively involved in an organisation called Community Connections, and are donating your royalties from the first print run of The Giggle Gum Tree to this organisation. What does Community Connections do, and how has your involvement with them influenced your writing?

JW: I have worked at Community Connections for about 15 years in various roles. It is a not for profit community organisation based in The Barwon – South West region of Victoria. It provides many different services to families, children and communities in the area, ranging from free legal advice to drought counselling. It has a focus on early intervention methods to support families and has developed some great early childhood and literacy programs in recent years. My work in the out of home care (foster care) programs showed me just how resilient children can be, with or without parents. But they all need the best support possible in order to thrive, and this can be done a whole lot better for foster kids, through adequate funding and an appropriate, caring protection system.

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[Anna also managed to catch up with Elizabeth Botte, illustrator for The Giggle Gum Tree.]

AB: How did you first get involved in illustrating? Have you always been interested in art?

EB: It was certainly the most passionately relished subject throughout my schooling. I was rather rebellious in most of my classes, yet morphed into the ultimate teacher’s pet during art and graphics. I remember drawing people’s portraits when I was 7, most of them hideous I’m sure, but it just felt so satisfying to focus my attention like that.

AB: You’re a painter as well as an illustrator, and have had several exhibits over the years. How is illustrating picture books different from creating your other artworks?

EB: Actually, I haven’t painted much lately. I seem to find so much more excitement with a story or brief and a deadline, far more than losing my mind staring at a blank canvas till the wee hours of the morning. It’s also tremendously satisfying collaborating with others to produce something useful.

AB: Do you stick to a set routine as an illustrator, or work more flexibly? Where do you like to work?

EB: I do a lot of work on my laptop, which of course could be taken anywhere. But usually I’m in my studio, which indeed is where I am now. It’s just so peaceful here. And the world is even quieter at night, so I often find myself focussed and working till 4am, and up again at 7am to get my son to school.

AB: How would you describe the style of the illustrations in The Giggle Gum Tree? Why did you decide to use this style?

EB: I was given a lot of freedom with The Giggle Gum Tree. Naturally I went straight for my favourite style. IBotte love those sweet picture books from the 60s and 70s. Though I’ve been doing a lot of work digitally lately, I felt some scenes, like the chickens in the farmyard, definitely had to be painted. So the whole thing is old fashioned paint and ink… okay maybe with just a couple of digital touch-ups.

AB: You’ve illustrated a number of other books besides The Giggle Gum Tree. What’s special to you about this one?

EB: The Giggle Gum Tree is such a lovely story. I look forward to reading what Juliet writes next. It’s empowering and inspiring reading about two productive little girls, thinking clearly and finding a solution. It’s probably the youngest audience I’ve illustrated for. I keep getting work for teens and adults – great too, but I love the cuteness that one has permission to delve into when aiming for a younger crowd.

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[Lauren Daniels was recently able to have a chat withm Tom and Simon Sykes about their upcoming book The Hitchers of Oz.]

LD: The Hitchers of Oz: Hitchhiking Stories and Observations from Australasia and Beyond is a true labour of love. It can be seen as an intimate, honest collection of stories and experiences from the point of view of the hitchhiker. Though the book is notably born from a passion for travel, what else inspired you both to compile this collection?

T&SS: Between us we have travelled and hitched extensively in Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East and came away with great personal experiences as well as many second-hand tales from fellow travellers. We couldn't believe our eyes when, after researching the topic, we discovered that, while there have been plenty of collections of travellers' stories, a definitive anthology specifically about hitchhiking had never been published. We thought it criminal that this cultural phenomenon had been so overlooked and thought we were fairly well qualified to rectify things!

LD: The Hitchers of Oz is loaded with big names who have hitchhiked Australasia and across the rest of the globe over the last several decades. How did you approach these celebrities, musicians, and high profile contributors in the first place? How did you woo them to contribute to this work? Are there any responses from any of them that really stand out?

T&SS: Essentially we prepared an invite letter/email and targeted those well-known figures we thought might have some experience of hitchhiking. This isn't difficult in a country like Australia where the pursuit is T&SSso popular and widespread. Luckily these days many celebrities have websites or fan mail addresses you can contact them through, which certainly made things a lot easier from our end. We also advertised for people to send us their stories or thoughts through hitchhiking groups, travel websites and our website. Wooing has never been necessary because people are usually so interested in what, even after three books, is still quite an original project that they commit pretty quickly. Amongst our favourite responses are Chuck D's who, in a short and sweet epigram, sums up the joys of hitchhiking and David Lovejoy's whose dramatic tale of being stranded in Indonesia is quite excellent.

LD: What are some of the common themes of The Hitchers of Oz? Without giving too much away, what do these themes communicate to the audience? How are readers enticed?

T&SS: The Hitchers of Oz is first and foremost an entertaining read, full of ripping yarns and hilarious observations but there are, we suppose, deeper human themes. Our book explores the way people behave when they pick people up or get a ride, the power (im)balance between patron and passenger as well as the notion of trust, which of course is vitally important as stepping into a car with a total stranger carries certain risks. But if you don't take the risk (which is actually statistically very small) then you might not be exploring all that life has to offer. This is why hitching has a risqué, alternative, bohemian reputation which is also analysed in the book through references to the vast amount of music, literature, film and fine art inspired by it. Think of Marvin Gaye or Jack Kerouac or Jim Morrison or Douglas Adams.

LD: In these recent times marked by terrorism, suspicion and occasional bouts of xenophobia, with the media rife with fear-mongering, disasters and travel bans, what is your collection hoping to inspire? Might it be considered as a kind of reality check? Have you had any responses from readers yet which share in a kind of optimism? 

T&SS: It's interesting that since we published our first book in the UK, No Such Thing As A Free Ride?, car sharing schemes have become the vogue as governments and individuals try to reduce carbon emissions and avert environmental disaster. In most developed countries people agree that there are just too many vehicles on the road causing too much pollution. Our book implicitly suggests that, because hitchhiking can be fun and adventurous, people should probably do it more and thus make travel more carbon efficient. Of course trust is a big issue, as already mentioned, and since the 1980s there has definitely been more fear and loathing towards hitching, partly due to a few high-profile but actually very rare incidents when passengers were murdered by patrons or vice versa. Our book sort of says that there are risks inherent in all forms of transport but no one stops getting on boats after a ferry capsizes or rants against the evils of air travel because crashes have occurred in the past.

In hitching, the good generally outweighs the bad, but we haven't been afraid to include negative views in the collection such as that of Rabbi Apple. We have been so impressed by the positive worldwide response to our books that we have to assume that there is still a wellspring of trust and compassion out there with people being prepared to help each other broaden their experience without money changing hands. Some readers have informed us of an international hitchhiking conference that takes place in Vilnius each year. Others have told us that they believe themselves to be the world's oldest active hitcher.

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[Jeremy Green managed to catch up with Euan McCabe about his book World Cup Baby.]

JG: World Cup Baby is a story of obsession, detailing all your many observations and experiences relating to the global phenomenon that is the FIFA World Cup™. What is it about this sport, and in particular this event, that so captures your attention?

EM: I first became aware of the football World Cup when I read about a Dutch football fan who threw his television set out of his lounge window when Holland lost the 1974 final to West Germany. Being 10-years-old at the time and having recently become interested in sport, I found this extreme over-reaction utterly fascinating. What could possibly move somebody to act in this way?

Essentially, what I love most about the World Cup is this constant battle between what is truly beautiful about life - great football, global participation and unity, the way it fills people with joy and hope - and what is so dastard about life - terrible football; division, conflict, despair and anger; cheating and colluson; even political bullying. Football is the world game, a global movement with a presence in every country and amongst almost every ethnic group. With 214 nations competing from the start, it's bigger than the Olympics.

JG: This event has the ability to capture the complexities of human nature, perhaps more so than any other. What are some of the characteristics of human nature that have revealed themselves to you through observing the World Cup?
 
EM: The World Cup reflects life on this planet, especially the extreme differences, and this manifests itself both in the behaviour between players on the pitch and the supporters off it. It is, quite simply, the most colourful and diverse and complex showcase of human behaviour that you will see anywhere.  
The extremes of fanaticism seen outside the tournament itself also helps set it apart from anything else.

It produces power surges, brings down telephone EuanMexchanges and websites, induces strike and riots, produces record TV viewing figures and often provokes political fallout between governments...it even produced a war once - between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969. It's this bizarre effect on people that makes it unique. 
 
On more thing - 5,000,000 South Koreans watched their 2002 semi-final match in public areas, while 14,000,000 people watched part of Germany 2006 in public places in that country. This ability to 'mobilise' people is extraordinary.

JG: World Cup Baby is clearly a product of a significant input of time, travel, and observation. How has your appreciation developed through these experiences? Do you feel that you have grown personally as a result of observing and collating these ideas?

EM: I don't whether I have grown personally in some respects - watching TV for an entire month represents little in terms of maturity, contribution or output - but the one thing the World Cup has taught me right from the outset is this - despite humankind's obvious shortcomings, this is one great planet we all share. Especially when the World Cup is on. It has also encouraged me to travel and see this world up close and - although this sounds as corney as a Miss World contestant, but it's true - it has taught me to respect and enjoy other cultures. Especially at football matches, where different nationalities collectively express themselves like nowhere else.

JG: The book deals with the raw fanaticism that can occur in relation to the sport and event. What advice do you have for those who are not currently fans themselves, but have partners, family or friends that are obsessed?

EM: Be quiet in June 2010. And if you can't be quiet, shift out.

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[Jeremy also got to have a chat with L R Saul about her second fantasy novel with IP, Sacrifice.]

JG: Sacrifice is a fantasy title unlike most we've seen before. Although it contains a journey to an alien world, so often seen in the genre, it also holds deadly magic-wielding priests, cunning street rats and sinister rituals. How do these elements and more make Sacrifice really stand out?
 
LS: I think what makes Sacrifice stand out from other fantasies is that it is set in a world that fights with politics, and not with weapons. There are many fantasy novels that are journeys and adventures, with battles and monsters - Bloodline included. In Sacrifice, you can expect a whole new game. It is a game where the players fight with political intrigues and laws. For this reason, all the elements of it seem quite unusual. You don’t have magic-wielding priests who go on a long journey with the protagonist and use their magic to fight off predators. You have magic-wielding priests who are as scheming and political as every other player in this civilised world.
 
And then, in comes Emme. Feisty, fist-fighting, and utterly courageous, Emme is used to the drunken brawls of her village, the beatings of her mother, the cruel tricks of the villagers who hate her, and the desperate need to learn wilderness survival skills in the forest of her homeland. And she lands in this amazing political mess that has been going on for twenty years. And somehow, she is so important to that political mess, that she finds herself a fugitive with a price on her head.
 
And the clash of the two worlds will turn the games of this alien city on its head.

JG: It is, of course, the start to a new series, moving in a different direction to that of your previous IP title, Bloodline: Alliance. It also has a decidedly darker feel. Why start this new series, and how do the themes differ between it and Bloodline?
 
LS: Because I have many ideas for future novels, I sometimes have the luxury of choosing the order of my books practically rather than passionately. So I wrote Bloodline: Alliance as my 'break-in book', and I would write the planned sequel if the first ever sold. Then I moved on to Sacrifice. I thought it better to have two novels circulating (and you don't circulate a sequel). I deliberately chose Sacrifice next because it was very different to Bloodline: Alliance. I was trying to show the reader the diversity of what I write, and that the only things they will find in every book are the two m's: mystery and message. My books will always have a mystery, and will be a way for me to explore the issues that haunt me. Everything else might be completely different, unexpected, if the mystery and message demands it.
 
I loved Sacrifice and its characters so much, I felt utterly compelled to write its sequel, Redemption, next. The characters seriously would not let me go until I finished their story. By the time I finished Redemption, Bloodline: Alliance was getting a great deal of attention from both readers and people in the publishing industry, so I turned my attentions to its sequel, Bloodline: Covenant. And I've been slogging away at it ever since.
 
So I finished Sacrifice and its sequel a long time ago, and I then went back to Bloodline's sequel. It’s complicated, I know, but I tried to move in an order that made the most sense in terms of building a readership.
 
I chose Bloodline first because it's not too different to most tolkein-esque fantasies out there. It’s a grand scale novel about prejudice, injustice, forgiveness, and fate. It’s a vast look at history and society and cosmic events.
 
Sacrifice is a much more intimate story. And it is set in a world that fights with politics, not weapons. It is, essentially, one person’s story: the main character, Emme, really does carry the weight of the book. It explores social classes, courage, poverty and the measures we use for valuing a human being. And I can say this: it is definitely setting up some absolutely astounding themes that I know will blow you away in Redemption.
 
JG: Both of your novels (and series) feature female characters put in tough situations, who nonetheless find strength through their experiences. What parallels can you draw between Shenna (Bloodline) and Emme (Sacrifice)? In what ways do they differ?
 
LS: I have always wished that there were more female characters in fantasy novels. There was this mistaken idea that the vast majority of fantasy readers were men and therefore we needed male-driven plots. I think we’re starting to see the error of that way of thinking, and more female protagonists are starting to appear. So now I get to write female protagonists and add to a growing collection.
 
Though Shenna and Emme get dragged through the mud, one of the big differences between them is that Shenna has to dramatically change, whereas Emme thankfully stays the same. Emme is a fireball of a woman with an astounding amount of courage, who is thrown into a world where she is snubbed and disliked. It is a world of social classes, and Emme is the lowest of the low, and yet she refuses to be anyone but herself. And you really come to cheer her for that. Emme just needs to find a place where she can fit. She has lots of passion and courage, and nowhere productive for it to go.
 
Shenna, on the other hand, has had her life stunted by a tragedy from her childhood, and Shenna must totally transform in order to truly find life and freedom. Shenna must grow and move on, and find a different purpose and path in life. Shenna has to discover who she really is.

[continued next column]

 

 

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L R Saul Interview [continues...]

JG: You have written in a previous IP newsletter about your difficulties in getting your fantasy novels accepted. With your second title about to be released, and the promise of two continuing series, do you feel that readers and fans now have more access to your work? What would you say to speculative fiction writers still looking for their work to be accepted?
 
LS: I’m very excited about Sacrifice because I feel that it’s setting the direction I always wanted to set. Firstly, yes it is darker, as you said earlier. And I am hoping that readers can see now why my books are marketed to adults. It's also showing readers that I'm not going to cookie-cutter my worlds and characters. Even my style is subject to change without notice. The Bloodline series is far more detached and almost poetic - like a legend being told - compared to Sacrifice's earthy and detailed style where we sit very snugly within Emme's thoughts. 
 
With so many ideas in my head for other novels, I am able to be a bit flexible with my choices if a publisher demands it, but I also know when to stand my ground, and I think that's an important thing for aspiring writers to learn. I wrote a novel a long time ago and received the comment from most agents and publishers, “too different”. At that time, publishers just wanted sausage-factory fantasy novels. That's okay, I thought. I had a book up my sleeve that was a little more like other fantasy novels on the market. So I wrote Bloodline: Alliance. But that didn't mean I suddenly broke into publishing. I showed one agent Bloodline, and she said, “Too similar”. And then when I showed her Sacrifice, she said, “Too different”. Where do you go from there except to believe in yourself and try somewhere else? She also said about Sacrifice: “It isn’t strong enough.” I found that response quite bewildering because in the first two chapters alone we have fist fights, child abuse, a severe beating, a corpse, several chase scenes, stealing, verbal abuse, a betrayal, lies, an abduction, and a rather graphic description of a human sacrifice.
 
Having said all that, you also need to be absolutely sure that your belief in yourself is justified. I used to write rubbish novels and think that they were great. I now know better thanks to lots of writer’s guidebooks, lots of practise, accessing some very honest, fussy readers, and learning the very important art of editing. 

When you start reading the same things over and over in each new writer’s guidebook, and find yourself saying, “Yes, I’ve done that”, then Bloodlineyou’re probably ready to send your book away. And when you can look at past novels and realise that they truly are rubbish, then you can be confident that the ones you still really love are the ones you should believe in.
 
Most importantly, don’t ever give up. If you stop sending in your manuscripts, it’s a definite, inescapable ‘no’. But if you keep sending them in, then it’s a ‘maybe’, and that’s everything to a writer with a dream.

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Slushkiller: It's Not Personal

[Daniel O'Regan, a Creative Writing student at QUT, analyses an article on the rejection of manuscripts, giving authors an insight on what happens during the slushpile process.]

In the grand conflict that is the act of getting published, public opinion always seems to fall heavily in the favour of artists. Hence the existence of Rejectioncollection.com, a place for a slighted audience to publicly despair at the folly of publishers in failing to recognise brilliance. Will no-one take the editors’ side and see that “writers” are, often as not, belligerent morons?
Well, someone has. 

“Slushkiller”, an article written for just such a purpose, stands as a rebuttal to some of the more ludicrous responses to the apparent heartlessness of publishers who send their unsolicited entrants a letter such as this:

Thanks so much for sending the complete manuscript of Your Beloved Novel. It’s a wonderful novel, with a memorable central character and details of setting which are remarkably authentic, but ultimately we are unable to offer you publication. Primarily, this is because we are a small press and only publish about seven titles each year, and this year we have had an abundance of first-class submissions. I feel certain your novel will be published in the near future, and look forward to seeing it in print.

Designed to explain that editors do not spend their time attempting to make personal stabs at the hearts of authors, Slushkiller needs hardly prove its point that authors can be overtly attached to their work further than just showcasing some breathtaking aggression, such as this response to the above letter:
 
How did this letter make you feel?
Frustrated. Angry. Sceptical.

What bothered you the most about this letter?
She looked forward to seeing it in print?! Yeah, well, me too, baby! And if it’s such a wonderful #!#@#! novel, then why did you reject it? Hey, I’ve been dumped before — I can handle it.

Together with the explanations that editors sometimes reject manuscripts, Slushkiller’s crowning glory is the aside discussing the 13 principle reasons why a book is rejected. Numbers 1-7 deal with about 75% of all submissions: involving the author failing to understand the basic principals of written communication. For example:

4. Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language. Parts of speech are not what they should be. Confusion-of-motion problems inadvertently generate hideous images. Words are supplanted by their similar-sounding cousins: towed the line, deep-seeded, dire straights, nearly penultimate, incentiary, reeking havoc, hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, viscous/vicious, causal/casual, clamoured to her feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera.

Revel in the glow of someone who understands, and be sure to witness the whole story here.

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Espresso Book Machine

A machine that can print off a book for you in minutes? I must be dreaming, right? Apparently not. The Espresso Book Machine has just launched in London. It's a revolutionary machine that looks more like a photocopier than anything else but can print any of 500,000 titles for you while you wait.

Currently the titles that can be printed are out-of-copyright works, but the creator is working with publishers to allow access to in-copyright works. This machine could change the bookselling industry in a very big way for large and independent publishers. It will be very interesting to see exactly where the Espresso Book Machine will take us.

Check out the full article on the Guardian’s website for more information

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IP Kidz Update

IP has obtained rights from Hachette Australia for David Reiter’s junior novel The Greenhouse Effect, which was originally published by Lothian before Hachette bought them out. While IP still has limited stock of Greenhouse, Hachette regarded the title as out-of-print which was causing confusion in the marketplace. Booksellers take note! We have already prepared a second edition of the title, which is currently being marketed in North America and Europe and is available for order on Amazon. Our hope is that sales will skyrocket once we sign the Project Earthmend Series up for film production (see this issue’s IP Digital Buzz).

Greenhouse EffectThe other big news here is that we now have a producer for the animated film of The Greenhouse Effect. Essential Crew here in Brisbane will apply for funding from Screen Australia, with the support of MonkeyStack (Adelaide), who will be doing the animation, and Cutting Edge (Brisbane), who are interested in post-producing the film.

Our latest Kidz titles, Aussie Kid Heroes (Dianne Bates / Marjory Gardner) and the picture book Lame Duck Protest (Goldie Alexander / Michele Gaudion) were launched this month, with a gruelling South-east Queensland tour for Goldie kicking off the promotional campaign. Dianne was unable to come north for this phase, so Aussie Kid HeroesBuzzwords devotee Anne Hamilton and David read selections from the book at six libraries from the Logan and Moreton Bay Councils, plus an event at Garden City Library here in Brisbane. Goldie has events scheduled with schools back in Melbourne, while we are working with Dianne on events in New South Wales, particularly around her hometown of Wollongong.

In May, we’ll be launching a new picture book, The Giggle Gum Tree by Juliet Williams and Elizabeth Botté, which also has a strong environmental message. We’re pleased to announce that the book will be launched at Warrnambool Library by well-known children’s author Paul Jennings on Friday, 22 May, followed by a signing at Collins, Warrnambool on Saturday morning. A Geelong event is being finalised and there is a Sunday morning event planned at Readings Port Melbourne, where Goldie will join Juliet and Elizabeth.

About to go to press are two new titles: a much awaited picture book by Libby Hathorn entitled Zahara’s Rose, delightfully illustrated by Doris Unger, and the first junior mystery novel in the A~Z PIs Series, Hedgeburners, by Goldie Alexander, with engaging line drawings by Marjory Gardner.

Next issue we hope to have announcements about upcoming titles from Hazel Edwards and Matt Ottley.

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IP Digital Buzz

Collaboration and partnerships continue to be the name of the game for IP Digital. We’re close to signing a three-way contract with author Robert Moore and animation company MonkeyStack (Adelaide) that will see us publish a picture book by the author with 3D figures that will serve as the basis for an animated film produced by MonkeyStack.

We have three other projects we’re talking about with MonkeyStack, most notably the Project Earthmend Series, junior novels by David Reiter that so far consist of The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling. A third novel is blanned for development starting later this year, hopefully with support from Arts Queensland. The aim is to produce full-length animated films that feature Tiger, a talking cat, and his crew who set out to spread the word about The Great Danger and the need for human and animal species alike to look after Mother Earth.

Currently in production in-house is Mum: Speaking Latin with a Singlet Tan, based on a series of brilliant paintings by Sydney artist Dale Kentwell from her 18-month stint in the Outback. Phase 1 will see a print book going to press for release in August, with a short film composed by David to follow shortly thereafter. Dale’s young son provides some engaging voice-overs, with film footage and music also to be integrated. The paintings are so striking that we are thinking of publishing them as gift cards!

Put Billy OnAnother collaboration that has struck gold is that with the Queensland Narrating Service. QNS is a not-for-profit organisation that produces high quality, unabridged audio recordings of books for people with print disabilities. In a pilot project, QNS recorded Ann Jones’ memoir Put the Billy On, with voiceover by Brisbane actor Kaye Stevenson. The result was so stunning that IP and QNS are talking about more projects at the moment, and extending the reach of the QNS series with the publication of mp4 versions that IP will distribute via its North American audio partners, CD Baby and CreateSpace, who in turn upload content to various audio online sites such as the iTunes Store and Amazon.

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IP Sales

With a decision due soon from the Productivity Commission on parallel importation, IP isn’t letting the grass grow under our feet. We’re gearing up for a push on export that will hopefully see us selling rights into other markets. Most recently, with the support of Austrade and Trade Queensland we are making contact with some publishers and distributors in India. We’re talking with one publisher already about four of our recent titles and hope to extend the discussion to other titles. Success breeds success, so we hope that rights sales in India will lead to deals in other markets.

David was recently interviewed by our partner ReadHowYouWant for inclusion in their next e-newsletter. RHYW produces multiple versions of our print titles for audiences requiring large print. They now have offices in North America, and, through their association with Amazon, we expect to access new markets.

Getting the word out to schools about IP Kidz is of course crucial to the health of our newest imprint, so our staff, ably led by our Promotions Editor Brooke Butler, are making contact with regional and national distributors of children’s titles. If you work at a school or a school library and are interested in sampling our Kidz titles, you needn’t wait for us to call—email us, and we’ll be happy to send you copies of your choice of books on approval!

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Out & About

Following his appearance at Carindale Library for readings of The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling to an appreciative audience, David was a featured speaker at the Somerset International Conference for librarians and teachers at the Gold Coast.

Aside from showcasing some of IP's latest digital projects, David acted as a futurist, painting of picture of what could be possible for our libraries and schools if they embrace the digital revolution rather than being suspicious about it. He talked about developments in POD (print-on-demand) for distributing work abroad, and the implications of new e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle, for providing a vehicle for educational as well as creative work. He also talked about the changing role of libraries, which he foresees as becoming digital hubs for content as well as a repository for print titles.

Our friends at Puncher & Wattman will be publishing two Sydney-focused anthologies of poetry this year, one of which is expected to Cafe Boogiefeature in the Sydney Writers Festival. Both anthologies have "Harbour City" in the title, so you won't go wrong if you google on that. Jenni Nixon has work from her IP title Café Boogie in both collections, including 'conversational brawl' and 'urban blight'.David Musgrave, the publisher at P&W, has an IP collection, too: On Reflection.

David recently attended a seminar sponsored by Austrade and Trade Queensland on exporting to India, which coincided nicely with talks we are having with an Indian publisher about rights on at least four of our titles. Austrade is helping with other contacts in the Indian market in anticipation of us achieving traction there. In early April, he also attended a workshop sponsored by Trade Queensland entitled "Strengthening Business"—certainly a topic that's important to us these days!

IP and QUT (Queensland University of Technology) work closely on several fronts, including the provision of work experience for students in their Creative Industries and Journalism faculties, and this year is no exception. David has been paired off with Katie Goss, who's majoring in journalism at QUT. She plans to get her feet wet with several journalism related projects at IP. David was also a guest at the latest event for Creative Enterprises Australia, a company associated with QUT that mentors developing creative enterprises, as their name might suggest!

IP Kidz author Goldie Alexander toured some local libraries with David in mid-April, including Garden City (Brisbane City Council Libraries), three libraries in the Moreton Bay Council and then three more in Logan City. The events wereGoldieAmostly storytimes for young kids, but the audience was impressed by Goldie's interactive approach (all those years as a teacher haven't gone to waste!) as well as Michele's Gaudion's stunning illustrations. Goldie isn't resting on her laurels: she had several school visits arranged back in Melbourne upon her return from the Queensland tour, and will join David and Juliet Williams (The Giggle Gum Tree) on 24 May for an event at Readings Port Melbourne.

Just recently, David spoke about his experience as author and publisher to the Emerging Authors' Group at Robina Library (Gold Coast). The Group plans to invite other IP authors to relate their experiences as inspiration for their members over the next several months.

Our Promotions Editor, Brooke Butler, is working hard at the moment to populate the itinerary for several upcoming tours. First up will be launch events for Juliet Williams' first picture book, The Giggle Gum Tree. The first launch, at Warrnambool Library in regional Victoria on Friday, 22 May, will feature Paul Jennings as launcher, followed by signings on Saturday morning at Collins Bookshop. The illustrations by Elizabeth Botté, who will join the tour in Melbourne for a morning Readings event on 24 May, are certain to be a hit with young readers. Between Warrnambool and Melbourne, we're finalising an event at Griffith's Bookshop in Geelong.

For a change of pace, David and Joel Deane (Subterranean Radio Songs) will be featured readers at an Australian Poetry Centre Salon Sunday afternoon on the 24th.

Still in the planning stage is a tour of Far North Queensland that will feature Eugenie Navarre (The Cane Barracks Story), Ann Jones (Put the Billy On) and David reading from Primary Instinct – to make up on the tour he missed out on the last time with Barry Levy (As If!).The tour will extend from Cairns to Gladstone, starting on 5 June, with readings, workshops and Inside Track Consultations on offer, so let us know if you or your group want to be included.

Also on the horizon is an IP Salon being organised at the NSW Writers Centre in mid-June, an event in the Southern Highlands featuring the fantasy novels of Lisa Saul (Bloodline and Sacrifice) as well as a major tour of New Zealand in July that will feature our anthology of New Zealand Science Fiction poetry, Voyagers, and a new sporting memoir, The World Cup Baby by New Zealand author Euan McCabe.

For the latest information, please subscribe to our Facebook site and follow us on Twitter. See you there!

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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 Dianne Bates' Aussie Kid Heroes:

Aussie Kid HeroesAussie Kid Heroes celebrates children. It highlights that children can make a difference in the world whether it be by utilising their gifts or acting in a time of crisis. Children of all ages (and adults) will be fascinated by the stories told within Aussie Kid Heroes. Some may be inspired to harness their abilities and follow their dreams.

- Vicki Stanton, Pass It On

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On Goldie Alexander's Lame Duck Protest:

This beautifully presented book serves to bring into focus strong environmental issues directed at educating children about the need to fight to Lame Duck Protestprotect our natural world. Youth awareness is the key to the survival of wild birds, animals and countless other species that are under constant threat of being decimated by the destruction of their natural habitats. This book has succeeded in passing on this message.

- Anastasia Gonis, The Reading Stack

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Your Deal

Pre-Holiday Specials!

Buy any IP title at full price for yourself, then take 20% off any additional title.

Order online, specifying YD40-1 in the Comments field. Individual orders only.

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Have a heap of family and friends to buy for? Give the gift of fine Australian writing! Choose any FIVE titles for $110, and we'll cover the freight charges anywhere in Australia (to one address).

Just specify YD40-2 in the Comments field of our order form. Individual orders only.

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