Anne Marshall gives readers a “glimpse behind the curtain” in
her interviews with Andrew, Joel and Michael, and Geoffrey tells us
all about his travel and writing experiences.
David has been out and about across the nation in promotion of the
spring season. Regional areas featured prominently in the launch events
in Queensland and New South Wales. There were also events in all the
capital cities along the East Coast and in Canberra. This was the most
ambitious tour to date with a very positive response to IP titles from
the 23 libraries visited across the country, particularly for our digital
Despite all this frenetic activity, he still found time to participate
as a ‘guest publisher’ in the Queensland Writers’ Centre
Roadshow in Rockhampton, and he writes of the positive relationship
developing between IP and QWC. The same cannot be said of our relationship
with Arts Queensland. His editorial blasts the organisation for its
continuing indifference to the company.
Finally, Tilly Brasch, author of the award-winning No
Middle Name continues
to break ground in raising awareness nationally to the problem of youth
suicide. A speech by Senator for Brisbane, Arch Bevis, prompted by
her book, is reprinted here.
This season continues the tradition of fine publishing at IP. After
eight years with the company, I have an unshaken belief in the integrity
of this independent house, where merit counts for all in the quality
works released and distributed. I can be forgiven for waxing lyrical
as this is my final newsletter. After a happy time as IP’s first
Assistant Editor and then its Poetry and Newsletter Editor I’ve
decided it’s time to move on. I’ll leave with many good
memories and will continue to be a lifelong friend of IP. In the future,
be dedicating more time and energy to my own writing, to the creative
arts collective I co-founded with my partner Shane and to my political
interests and activities.
So, for one last time, I will encourage you to check Your Deal before
you leave, pick up a book or two and have a very Happy New Year!
the Director's Desk
I speak to you, my bags are literally only half unpacked between
our most successful Southern tour to date and my trip to Canada
and the USA.
We’ve now launched five new titles in this Season – at
the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney – to excellent
crowds and encouraging sales.
I invite you to have a look at the
interviews with three of our
Spring Season authors below, plus a feature on the interplay between
travel and fiction by Geoffrey Gates,
winner of the IP Picks 2005 Best Fiction Award.
In a first, we had three separate events in support of Geoff’s A
Ticket for Perpetual Locomotion in Sydney – at the school
where he teaches, at a local bookshop, and finally with our friends
at the NSW Writers Centre – and
the strategy worked because we were appealing to different audiences.
A special thanks to The Hills Grammar School, Banjo Books and the
Writers Centre for all their help and support – not to mention
Geoff’s charming wife Estelle and his hard-working family.
If IP could afford a full-time Promotions Manager, I would be telling
And a good time was had by all at the launch of Joel Deane’s
Subterranean Radio Songs at the Victorian Writers Centre as well
as for the launch of Michael O’Sullivan’s Secret
Writing at Old Canberra House at the Australian National University.
My trip to North America will be only partly for business. I do have
meetings planned with distributors and libraries and guest readings
at some venues, but I will also relish some time off at my mother’s
place, including a proper Thanksgiving dinner!
We’re very pleased by the response to IP Picks
06 so far. A
record number of people have registered interest by email, post,
hits on our new Picks Page, and we’re anticipating a record
number of entries, up from the 50% increase we had last year. Picks
06 closes on 1 December.
2006 is shaping up to be our busiest to date – a mixed blessing,
that. On the strength of demos I gave in several regional centres
over the past few months on digital composing and publishing, I expect
that a number of in-depth workshops will be arranged over the year.
Check out Out & About for details at hand to date, and keep reading
As you’ve already noted from Sara’s intro, she has resigned
from her positions of Newsletter Editor and Poetry Editor at IP.
known Sara for more than 10 years, first as a student in a Master
Class I offered for the Queensland Writers Centre, then as a hopeful
author with a manuscript in hand, A
Deep Fear of Trains, which became
the first in our trend-setting Emerging Authors Series, then as a
colleague in her capacity as a volunteer editor for IP. She’s
witnessed a lot of changes at IP over the years, especially our evolution
a viable commercial enterprise and has grown with the company. I
have always valued her opinion and advice, and, more than that, her
with her future projects and thank her for her invaluable support
of me and several IP poets along the way.
Since this is our last issue of the year, on behalf of all the staff
at IP, I want to wish you and yours a healthy and safe holiday season.
It’s been a dreadful year for disasters – natural and
otherwise – and we can all use an extended time of peace and
goodwill! Here’s hoping for a better New Year!
Dr David Reiter
Organisation Is Important To Us”
My wife is reading a book entitled Your Call Is Important to
which blasts all the sources of bullshit found in politics and
business in America these days. Needless to say, for anyone put
On Hold or trying to get satisfaction from Government these days,
the book travels well.
The arts scarcely get a mention in Queensland of late, with
all the bushfires the Beattie Government is tending these days.
There’s certainly less money around for glossy brochures
telling us, in glowing terms, how much the Government is doing
Given the push to apply user fees in our public hospitals, I don’t
imagine the arts can expect much of an increase in the next budget.
It goes without saying that Governments now change policy
only when they are forced to by the Courts or by overwhelming public
opinion. Individuals can expect to get no more than a “your
call is important to us” when arguing for change. IP has
been treated similarly in our ongoing dispute with Arts Queensland
about their discriminatory policy
that excludes us and other for-profit companies from applying for
Even when the Ministers change deck chairs, we get the same reply
to our letters. They must defer to the same bureaucrat
at Arts Queensland rather than actually considering the merits
our case. Arts Queensland still must believe that we will take
consolation from being told that, at some time in the distant future,
might review the policy. Which of course they won’t. Or that
I am eligible to apply for grants, even though IP isn’t.
should make me feel better about their discrimination against IP.
Even if I chose to apply for a personal grant
and was successful, how would that help IP? If I used the money
to further IP's interests I would violate the grant conditions – surely
AQ would not want to encourage that. Or would they?
It seems the rationale is contagious. Recently I emailed all members
of Parliament, asking them to lobby the Government to change the
policy. Not surprisingly, I heard nothing from the ALP side other
than a recycled form letter from the new Minister. The Coalition
did not reply, either; obviously they have better ammunition against
the ALP without our issue.
I did, however, hear back from Liz Cunningham, Independent for
Gladstone, who actually went to the trouble of writing to the Minister.
They simply sent
her the same form letter as they had to me, with the same lame
excuses for inaction, and the same offer of consolation to me.
Liz passed on the letter, just in case the offer was news to me.
Thanks, Liz. We need more Independents like you
in Parliament next time. Then the Government might be less likely
to send you a “your letter is important to us”. If
enough people feel like I do at present toward this Government,
In the meantime, I’m setting aside spare dollars for the next
time we have to queue up at a public hospital.
[In this issue, Assistant Editor Anne Marshall
interviews three of our Spring Season authors: Andrew Lansdown, Michael
O’Sullivan and Joel Deane.]
Andrew Lansdown is perhaps best known for his award-winning
poetry collections, but he’s also written some fine fiction, including
his Highly Commended IP Picks 2005 title The
AM: You’re a well-published
author in both prose and poetry. Do you find you can work on a poetry manuscript
at the same time as a prose manuscript, and can you borrow from each technique
or must they remain a separate entity?
AL: I usually have a number of writing projects underway at any one time.
This is more by necessity than by choice, because new ideas come before old
I do not find it difficult to shift from poetry to prose and back again.
In fact, writing in different genres helps to overcome writer’s block.
If, on a given day, I lack the impetus and/or insight to work in one genre,
I can usually do something in the other.
Of course, poetry and fiction are significantly different from one another
in intent and intensity. So there is a sense in which they require separate
approaches and remain separate entities. Yet both are writing, after all.
So skills developed in one genre are potentially useful in the other.
I think that being a poet has helped me to become a better prose writer.
Poetry has instilled in me a love for the English language itself, and I
have brought that love to my prose. Language in poetry is often (almost)
an end in itself, while in prose it is often (almost) a means to an end.
Poetry is sitting in a garden to enjoy the moment, while prose is riding
on a train to get somewhere. Thanks to poetry, I find that I want every sentence
in a story to be balanced and pleasing to the ear. I want my prose to have
some of the qualities of poetry.
AM: What made you decide to write a collection of short stories about these
themes, such as cross-cultural and social interactions and how individuals
and family members see one another? Was it from personal experience, or musings
of an imagination?
AL: I did not decide to write a story collection, as such. Rather, I set
out to write this story—then this one. The subject, theme and mood
of each story reflect particular interests or preoccupations that I had at
of writing. When at last I began to gather the stories into a collection,
I was surprised and pleased to discover the recurrence of certain concerns.
Some stories sprang from chance ideas, others from fragments of information,
and still others from my own experience.
The events described in “The Dispossessed”, for example, are
not far from reality. I did go to the local park with my family and I did
encounter and help an Aboriginal couple. When I later reflected on the actual
persons and events, I decided to transform them into fiction. And as I worked
on the story, a certain mood took hold and a particular theme began to emerge.
Other stories are not so strongly grounded in experience—and some,
such as “The Lepers”, are quite outside my experience. But many
are a mixture of personal experience and imaginative musings.
AM: The points of view in these stories change quite rapidly between each
one. In some there are third person, others are first person and some are
letters. What made you decide to use these narrative points of view and techniques?
AL: In literature, how a thing is said is as important as what is said. Indeed,
what is said gains (or fails to gain) power on the basis of how it is said.
For this reason—along with a sheer love of language—I have always
been interested in form and technique.
I like to experiment with different styles. However, it would be wrong to
view the stories in The Dispossessed as experimental. The stories do not
vary in point-of-view and technique because I wanted to experiment for the
sake of it. The variations arise from the demands of the stories themselves.
The forms in which they presently exist are the only forms in which I could
get them to exist.
Soon after I began writing short stories, I realised that a story can fail
simply because the writer has chosen the wrong point-of-view. I originally
wrote “The Leper”, for example, in the third person—and
the story did not work. But when I changed to the first person, the story
AM: When compiling a short story collection, there are often many short stories
too choose from. How did you decide on these particular stories, or were
they all written with the collection in mind?
AL: Although in their collected form some of the stories exhibit certain similarities
in theme and tone, none of them were written with the collection in mind.
Rather, they were chosen from a pool of about forty stories that I have had
published over the years in various literary magazines, newspapers and anthologies.
While sorting through these stories, I came to feel that certain ones
were not strong enough to go into the collection. I wanted to include only
However, after IP had accepted the collection for publication, IP director/editor
David Reiter expressed reservations about several stories.
After reconsidering these in the light of David’s concerns, I decided
to withdraw them from the collection. The end result is a shorter but stronger
AM: Many of the stories are set in rural situations. Do you think the themes
of your stories work better in these settings rather than in an urban setting,
or are the themes universal, regardless of the setting?
AL: I believe the themes are universal, regardless of setting. Yet a particular
setting can facilitate the exploration of a particular theme and/or enhance
the theme itself.
AM: Was any research needed for some of the details that are included in
your stories, such as salt gathering in “Salt” and wheat harvesting
such as “The Story”?
AL: The stories set in the early 1900s contain bits and pieces that I gleaned
from discussions with elderly people. My grandfather, for example, helped
me with the technical information about horse-drawn harvesters in “The
An elderly farmer in Burracoppin, a town in the eastern wheatbelt of WA,
told me about collecting salt for his sheep, and I used that snippet of information
to form both the plot and the emotional metaphor of the story “Salt”.
Also, on his farm he actually had an old stone well of the sort I describe
in the story (although it had never been the scene of the sort of catastrophe
that I have imagined). I also thumbed through some archives of the Road Board
in the area—and it was in these that I learned about the bounty paid
on emus at that time, which also figures in the story. And so on…
Michael O’Sullivan, who lives and
writes in Yass, a regional town north of Canberra sets his third novel, Secret
Writing, in Australia’s Red Centre.
AM: Could you tell us a little about your research into
the Red Centre as a metaphor for the quest and how you related this to Namatjira’s
MO: I wanted to write a work about non-indigenous Australians’ relationships
to our landscape. As most Australians are urban dwellers, I decided to lead
the two central characters into a remote and unfamiliar landscape. The Red
Centre became an obvious choice for the setting, particularly its association
with the works of Albert Namatjira. Maps and photographs were useful, but Namatjira’s
paintings provided not only the colours and contours of the landscape, but
its spiritual essence.
AM: Was making Luis Spanish a conscious decision and, if so, does the fact
that he’s Spanish have significance to the novel?
MO: In choosing the characters I reflected on contemporary
multicultural Australia, and decided one of the protagonists should be an immigrant,
who had no direct
ties with the landscape. Luis could have come from any ethnic background, so
the fact that he’s Spanish has no particular significance. It is
more important that he grew up in two different cultures, but felt alienated
AM: How did you structure your story to deal with the different threads of
the two main characters lives? Did you plan them out beforehand or compose
as you wrote?
MO: Originally I planned Secret Writing as a novella, with what is now Part
One of the novel. I often write first drafts in the third person, and then
revisions employ first person narratives.
This introduced the character of
Pearl into the work, as someone reading Luis’ letters and journal. But
when I thought the work was complete as a novella I was dissatisfied that I’d
told only half the story, and there was more to it.
So in Part Two I followed
Pearl into Central Australia, ostensibly in search of Luis, but as the story
evolved it became her journey of discovery, just as it had for Luis.
AM: Why did you choose Namatjira’s paintings to have the secret writing
that Luis is looking for, instead of paintings by other Aboriginal artists?
MO: I’ve been an admirer of Namatjira’s paintings for many years,
and so it was natural for me to choose his work as a catalyst for Luis and
quests. In addition Namatjira was in many ways caught between two worlds- the
traditions of the Arrernte people and Western culture. This dichotomy both
made and broke him. Similarly Luis is confused about his identity; and Pearl
has been a captive of her marriage for most of her life.
AM: Landscape, myth and art are closely related in Secret
Writing. Do you think
this interrelation is a natural one, or is it simply a literary device?
MO: Both. Most landscape painters, from numerous cultures, attempt to do more
than simply present a pictorial scene. Australian landscape artists have, I
been particularly attracted to presenting indefinable elements in the landscape,
its essence, at times its hostility, and its appeal to us as Australians. Having
said that, the connections between landscape, myth and art was a convenient
literary device in a story about personal identity in relation to a sense of
AM: The plot of Secret Writing deals a lot with the inner thoughts and beliefs
of the two main characters. How did you put yourself into the mindset of both
Luis and Pearl?
MO: One of the things I’ve learned about myself through writing is that
interested in spirituality. It’s never my intention to preach a particular
code of belief, but I think it is easy for our spiritual selves to be shunted
aside in the hurly-burly of contemporary life. Often it is only when confronted
with the unexpected or tragic, that we consider the issue, think about what
we believe and why, what’s important and what’s not. So frequently
characters in my work find themselves in a position where they need to examine
these questions about themselves.
Placing yourself into the mindset of characters is perhaps achieved by empathy
with their dilemmas. But so that this doesn’t sound too profound, I love
literary experiences such as in Flann O’Brien’s masterpiece, At
Swim-Two-Birds, where a succession of characters who are writers invent other
characters who are also writers, leading to a comic masterstroke where characters
who exist only while their creator is at work decide to rebel. Their answer – to
start writing about their creators..
< title>IP eNews </title>
Joel Deane found that lightning can strike
twice, when we told him that Subterranean
Radio Songs had won the IP Picks
Best Poetry award this year [his novel Another won
Best Fiction last year]. How does he find time to write and while serving
as Victorian Premier Steve Bracks
AM: Is poetry better suited
to capturing the essence of travel experiences than prose?
JD: Poetry is all about journeys of time, place, experience, language, faith
and imagination. You can see elements of that in the work of poets like Homer,
Chaucer, Blake and Dante. Prose can – and does – tackle journeys
as well, but in my opinion poetry did it first and best.
For instance, I originally
intended to write a short story about Havana, Cuba, where I stayed in 2001
at a time when I was reevaluating my life, but found a short story just couldn’t
do the subject justice. In the end, I sat down and wrote a long poem, “Romeo
y Julieta”, that captures the journey – physical, spiritual, political – that
I was going through better than a short story could have. To me it’s
one of the most important poems in the collection.
Overall, Subterranean Radio Songs can be read as a poetic travelogue, but there’s
another journey going on there, too. A more personal journey that relates to
a series of events that I struggled with: my partner becoming seriously ill,
discovering that my daughter, Sophie, had Down Syndrome, and losing three children
in childbirth. There is a fair degree of grief in the book. More than I’d
like, but that’s where I’ve come from – and the poems reflect
AM: Do you feel more comfortable writing poetry or prose?
JD: I am always writing a poem – even if I’m writing
a novel or a speech I’m writing a poem – because, for me, it’s
all about the sounds the words make when you bang them together. The music.
I feel fractionally more settled writing poetry, because I’ve
been working in that form longer.
The trouble with poetry is I can’t
turn it on or off like prose. It’s either coming or it isn’t. If
it is coming, I drop everything; if it isn’t, I start to wonder whether
I’ve done a Slessor and become an extinct volcano.
AM: Does your inspiration for poetry come from the same places as your inspiration
for prose, and, if so, how do you choose one genre over the other?
JD: My poetry and fiction are like two brothers:
poetry the introvert, fiction the extrovert. Generally, my poetry
has a strong basis in the autobiographical – it is what I write to cope
with the world. My fiction, on the other hand, is more about how I respond
to the world. It is much less autobiographical and more overtly political.
AM: Your poems in Subterranean Radio Songs shift
from childhood experiences to the traveling experiences. Was this a conscious
part of your planning process,
or did you simply write the poems and then collate them in this order?
JD: Subterranean Radio Songs reflects the journey I made in my twenties and
early thirties. A journey out of regional Victoria and into the city; a journey
of Australia and into the United States; a journey out of childhood into adulthood;
and a journey back to Australia.
Ultimately, the collection is not a collection I sat down and wrote – it
wrote me. It’s a selection of my work with an emphasis on the ones that
tell the story of, or relate to, my journey.
When it came time to collate the
collection, I decided the best way to group the poems was to split them into
two hemispheres, North and South. Doing that gave the collection a natural
symmetry. My editor at IP, Sara Moss, was a big help in this regard.
AM: How did you decide on the different poetry forms for Subterranean
Radio Songs? For example, while some poems are very linear in their layout like “Passage”,
others are staggered like “Conversation on the Midnight Stream”.
JD: For me, the poems dictate the form. I’m not an apostle of any particular
style. I admire poems written in all forms and believe every poem, if it’s
good enough, will find its own form, given enough time and work. That process
can take years.
London”, for instance, was first written in 1996,
but only finalized in 2005. One practice that helps me resolve a poem is giving
a reading. I might try out a raw poem to a roomful of strangers, record it
to hear how it sounds, or have my computer read it back to me. Hearing a work
read helps me visualize how it should look on the page.
AM: The poems based on travel experiences are interspersed with poems about
the inner human frailty. Do you think these two subjects go hand in hand, and
is the human experience changed or aided by traveling?
JD: The physical journey and personal journey go hand in hand for me because,
in my case, they were interrelated.
I didn’t travel to find myself. But I went through some life-changing
experiences during the six years I spent living, working, and travelling overseas.
During that time I was based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but bouncing all
over the United States. The Bay Area is my second home, but that didn’t
help much when things fell apart. When the trouble hit, I was alone. So was
By the time we returned to Melbourne – both arriving separately and weeks
apart, with a baby in tow – we were utterly different people. Different
to ourselves and each other. Part of that was growing older, part of that was
the experiences we had gone through, part of that was the miles we’d
We were a mess. We needed decompression chambers. And, for me, poetry was the
way I found my way back.
< title>IP eNews </title>
We’ve all been watching with great
sadness the unfolding tragedy in earthquake-ravaged Pakistan.
is pleased to announce that we are now distributing a very fine poetry book,
Distant Horizons, by ex-pat Queenslander Jocelyn Ortt-Saeed, who
has lived in Pakistan for many years. The book provides an in-depth view
of a rich culture with which most of us are unfamiliar.
Further details will appear on our website shortly, but here’s a taste
of Jocelyn’s work, which will hopefully bring you back for more.
I go into silence
beyond time space—
asking each day, how can we show
peace is the way?
A blurb from Judith Wright says it all:
Having once stayed with Jocelyn for a week in Lahore,
I appreciate the way her poetry mediates between languages and cultures.
She makes moving poems
about the heart’s desire and about the joy and sorrow of being a woman.
You can order this book
in either hard or soft cover for $39.95 and $23 respectively. Some of the
proceeds go in aid of Jocelyn’s humanitarian
work in Pakistan. A nice idea for the holiday season!
In past issues we’ve spoken about
the prospects for closer relations between IP and Queensland’s peak
writing organisation, the Queensland Writers Centre.
We’re pleased to confirm that David has been confirmed as a guest speaker
at one of the first QWC events in the New Year: Meet the Publisher.
And we are working with QWC to inject an IP focus to the 2006 Wordpool events,
with plans to have Cate Kennedy, Geoff Gates and David reading from their work
to the theme of the night.
We also expect greater IP involvement in the QWC’s regional Roadshow
for 2006, building on the success of the Rockhampton session this year, and
responding to interest expressed by groups in Far North and North Queensland.
On that note, we were saddened to hear of Martin Buzacott’s recent resignation
as QWC CEO. In the short time Martin was at the helm, a new energy was evident
at QWC, and certainly the priority he placed on getting things happening in
the regions was welcome.
IP looks forward to working with the new CEO in keeping the flame of renewal
alive—in the Southeast corner as well as elsewhere in Queensland.
Many manuscripts “spin their wheels” in
the first few pages and are quickly discarded by editors minding
Few authors would disagree – in theory – that the opening
of a book is very important, but far too many look critically at
how well the first few pages work in conveying an accurate sense
of what the manuscript will be about.
The harsh reality is that few editors have the time to read beyond
the opening of a manuscript if it doesn’t captivate them from
the first few lines. If the beginning waffles or is awkwardly written,
the editor will generally conclude that the rest of the book will
be like that. Editors are not paid to be patient. Your opening needs
to act as your agent for the rest of the work.
Think of the opening as a kind of trailer,
in a cinematic sense, for the work as a whole. This is your chance, in a few scant paragraphs
or stanzas, to hook your reader and to excite them to read on.
This is not to say that the opening needs to answer all the key journalistic
questions of who, what, where, when and why – but it should
certainly start the process. Perhaps you will be offering up an intriguing
situation, or a character in immediate danger, or a mysterious setting
that sends shivers up our spine. Above all, the first few pages will
exude direction, a sense that this is a manuscript that knows what
it’s about, rather than one that is discovering its purpose
as it moves along.
Just as a movie trailer gives prospective viewers a reason to put
money on the counter, your opening should be compelling, so that
the reader has no choice but to read on.
If your manuscript does pass the attention test, the editor will
refer back to it often to see if the rest of the work is true to
the environment created in the first few pages. So it’s not
enough to write a brilliant opening and then revert into so-so writing
thereafter. You should anticipate the pathway followed by your reader
and test the rest of the work against the opening to see if it fulfills
the initials expectations.
One way to do this is to ask a few trusted
people to read the opening and then tell you what kind of story they
think will follow. If they are confused about the nature of the story,
who the main character is, where the story is set, warning bells
should go off for you.
First impressions do last, in writing as well
as relationships. A
strong opening will put you well in front of the field, and that’s
what it’s all about, isn’t it?
David participated as guest
publisher in the Queensland Writers Centre Roadshow to Rockhampton
writers his three best tips, reprinted from Writing
1. Remember that getting
published is a PROCESS. It doesn’t end once your book has been
accepted by a publisher. The more you can convey to a prospective
that you know enough about the industry to be keen to promote the
title as much as possible when it comes out, the better. And you
have an important role before the book goes to the printer and after,
in ensuring it's in the best possible shape. That means keeping an
open mind during the content and copy editing process and going the
extra kilometers while proofreading.
2. “Practice, practice: put your faith in that!” The
poet WS Merwin was right. Very few manuscripts are ready for publication
after the first few drafts, so why submit them then? Give them time
to simmer, get them professionally assessed or workshopped, and PAY
ATTENTION to the advice you're given, even when it’s free.
Convey the sense that you’ve gone the distance to prospective
publishers by listing where you’ve published individual works
or books up till
then, and by all means include review clips written by anyone who
is not easily identified as a family member or spouse.
3. There are more options under the sun than
royalty publishing and vanity publishing. If a publisher suggests
a “partnership” deal
to you, don’t reject it out of hand — if you have the
resources to invest in your project. But do your homework on the
ensure they can deliver the goods. You could actually make more money
from such an arrangement than what you can expect from a traditional
10% royalty deal, especially if you're prepared to be an active ambassador
for your work. “Self-publishing” has its attractions,
but only if you’re an experienced editor, desktop publisher,
designer, proofreader, marketing professional and distributor. If
tick all of these, do a personal inventory of your strengths and
weaknesses, and then GET HELP for the other aspects. (Pssst: you
do get what you pay for!)
Twenty-three libraries can’t
be wrong — it’s time for you to take a closer
look at our digital titles!
On his recent tour to Victoria and New South Wales, David found
plenty of librarians in regional as well as metropolitan centres
keen to order some of our latest digital titles. Some of the libraries
such as David own interactive works like The
Gallery and Sharpened
Knife, and these have been encouraging.
Ordered in quantity were our Audio +
Text series CDs, which
work in portable CD players, as well as on computer CD-ROMs. With
the former, you get to listen to an anthology in music CD mode,
while the latter enables you to read the complete e-book while
you listen to readings.
popular was our latest Audio + Text work, I’ll
Howl Before You Bury Me, which is a collaboration in music
and words between poet Liam Guilar and musician composer Chen Yang.
It’s based on Liam’s poetry book of the same name. The
there in partnership with the text, rather than just an accompaniment.
David’s latest multimedia work, Paul
and Vincent, received rave
reviews at demonstrations held in Dubbo, Orange and Wagga Wagga. A
performed script, accompanied by period music and more than 50 paintings
by artists Gauguin and van Gogh, it inspired several viewers to think
about how their own projects could be adapted to multimedia, and how
such work could be applied in the classroom for drama and art students,
as well as students exploring the possibilities of New Media.
All of our CDs work on Windows and Mac computers, though you may have
to update some of your free players, such as Quicktime, Adobe Acrobat
So don’t take a backseat to the librarians — order in a
few of our CDs now!
Based on David’s demos of our
digital arsenal during the tour, several centres have lined up to
propose that he lead full workshops during 2006.
These have included Dubbo Library, Proserpine Library, Tamworth Library,
the Central-West Writers Centre, Northern Rivers Writers Centre (Byron
Bay) and the NSW Writers Centre.
The workshops are geared to students of New Media as well as authors
interested in seeing how their work might fare in the digital environment.
We suggest you register your interest now with the library or writers
centre closest to you, and we’ll keep you informed about developments
early in the New Year. Of course, we’re always happy to hear
from other libraries and writers groups wanting to be included in
author Geoffrey Gates made the front cover of the NewSOuth Wales
Writers Centre Newswrite for October for his article “Turning
Travel Into Fiction”. We’ve reprinted much
of it below, courtesy of the Writers Centre.
[After nine years overseas, fiction writer Geoffrey Gates returned
home to Sydney with a well-worn manuscript. A Ticket for Perpetual
won the 2005 IP Picks Award and will be published in October by IP,
with the support of the Australia Council. He
now teaches English in Sydney and has no more travel plans at present.]
I remember sitting on the plane waiting to fly out of Sydney on Boxing
Day, 1994, a nervous traveller and a hopeful writer-in-the-making.
My hand luggage consisted of spare pens and thirty-five pages of novel
ideas written in small print. I closed my eyes as the plane took off,
prayed for good air-pockets and told myself it was time to be bold,
brave and resolute.
I wrote the following sentence across the first page of my journal.
It was a call-to-arms for the Romantic Self, currently doing battle
the Cowardly Me. It was also a kind of wish-list for whatever was to
follow when I landed at Heathrow in the London wet:
The Travel Journal of Geoffrey Gates: Incorporating Perpetual Movement
and Stationary Existence; Physical Scenery, Cultural Observations and
Affairs of the Heart.
When I read over the first few months of my brown journal (a black
journal and a green one were to follow – I was away a long time)
I see that these were grand aspirations. I travelled on the London
underground and taught in an East End school. There was local colour,
but it was hardly the great Andes trail.
Soon, I did manage to begin a more adventurous life. I walked on a
wintry Glacier in Norway with an ice-pick, I rode a horse around the
Pyramids under the moon in Cairo.
None of these experiences made it into my novel. It is, as everyone
knows, notoriously hard to turn travel into fiction and make it as
interesting on the page as the experience lived in real times and real
places. The years were passing since I left home, and I had written
nothing. Apart from not being a novelist, I was in danger of not being
a young novelist. It was time to pack up stumps and leave London for
new horizons. I moved to Germany.
In Hamburg I joined a writers’ group made up of expatriates from
England and Ireland, who with a few lost souls from the fringes of
the city itself, met once a week and read their work.
In this stationary existence, I made a serious attempt to start writing
again. Just when I was beginning to think that my travelling had been
useless for my fiction, the tale of a boy leaving home (stealing away,
in fact) came to me strongly. I saw him picking up his backpack on
a sultry Sydney morning, pulling the door gently shut behind him, expatriating
himself in a permanent way.
The central idea for my novel came out of an emotional realisation,
rather than an exotic travel experience. It was an idea born of anxiety.
Writing had taken me away from Australia but it also brought me home.
From my time overseas I have realised that you can travel the world
and have the time of your life, but this won’t help you to write
a novel. Well, it will help, but only to an extent. You must also sit
down at a desk and do little else but think and write, for hours and
hours on end. It will always be tempting to pick up the backpack and
go off on another trip, and procrastinate in putting the words down
on the page. I’m sure many a promising novel idea has lost its
legs this way, as aspiring writers have refused to tie themselves down
to just one story, when there is a whole world of adventures out there
just waiting to be had. After all, travelling is every bit as addictive
as the strange habit of putting words on a page.
was high on David’s list in August, with stops in Cairns,
Townsville, MacKay, and towns in between, building on
the success of the QWC's One-Stop Shop event in Rockhampton that
he participated in. In Cairns,
he met with Eve
Stafford (Arts Nexus) and Stephen
Torres (JCU - Cairns) to discuss future writing workshops.
He also met with library staff in Mossman and Atherton about
activities for their local writers.
David was pleased to catch up with the Writers
in Townsville group,
who were keen to hear about the latest developments at IP, especially
our digital publishing program.
Then it was back on the road for library sessions at Bowen and Proserpine.
Proserpine Library is is already working on having David back to
lead workshops at Airlie Beach next February, if funding can be arranged.
keep you posted.
Finally, David had a session with the MacKay's
Writers Group on publishing,
just before jetting back to Brisbane.
These sessions complimented QWC extensive series of One Stop Shop
in regional Queensland, and we’re looking forward to even closer
cooperation with the Centre in the future so that writers outside
Brisbane can gain better access to publishing information and opportunities.
Our Spring Season began a bit
early this year, with two events launching Liam Guilar’s Text
+ Audio CD on the Gold Coast and then in Brisbane.
Liam teaches at St Hilda's Girls School, and we were grateful to
the school for hosting an event attended by students, staff and
The I'll Howl Before You Bury Me CD is the result of a collaboration
between composer Chen Yang, who plays violin on the CD, as well as
providing synthesised music, and Liam, who plays guitar and lute.
The following Sunday, we had the Brisbane launch at 4MBS Classic-FM
in the intimate space of their Performance Studio.
In what must be our most
ambitious tour so far, David set off for Dubbo, New South
Wales in mid October. With typical humility, he claims to
be personally responsible for breaking the Big Dry, for it
from Brisbane to Dubbo, and he was grateful for the proactive
advice of his mechanic who’d advised him to buy new
tyres for the
fondness for hydroplaning.
Between Alice Hawkins, a staunch IP supporter at Dubbo, and the
library, David had a full house for his demo of IP’s recent
multimedia work. This included the Guilar/Yang CD, as well as David's
detective story Sharpened Knife, his theatrical work Paul
and Vincent and Phase 1 of his memoir My
Planets. The participants were keen
to learn more about the projects, so Dubbo Library is thinking
about organising a more in-depth workshop in the new year.
That same day, David drove to Orange for the first of our events,
which featured Michael O'Sullivan reading from Secret
David airing Paul and Vincent. The following day, the Central-West
Writers Centre, under the capable baton of new Director Penny
had organised a multimedia demo for three local high schools. With
the multimedia option under the NSW HSC, Grade 11 students are very
keen to learn as much about multimedia strategies and software as
they can, and David was able to give them a brief immersion into
several of our projects, which will hopefully give them some ideas
for their own.
Residents of Melbourne
are now confronting the possibility of drinking storm water
recycled from the Yarra, or consuming
knife and fork” as Wendy Harmer puts
it, so they were no doubt grateful when David brought the rain
with him, to hopefully
off the inevitable.
After touching base with several regional libraries, David
joined Joel Deane for the launch of his second book, Subterranean
Victorian Writers Centre on Friday, 21 October. Joel has the
distinction of being the first author to win an IP Picks award
two years in a
row. Last year, he won Best Fiction for Another.
The book was launched by Kris Hemensley,
a poet himself and also owner of the nearby Collected
Works Bookshop, generally the first
port-of-call for Melbournians looking for good poetry.
The next day, David drove up to Wagga Wagga to meet up with
Michael O’Sullivan and Geoffrey Gates for a reading
Gilbey, a lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University's
Wagga campus, gave an impromptu reflection on Paul
and Vincent’s use of
the paintings in different contexts to highlight themes in
the work. (Do we hear a review coming on?)
Then it was on to Canberra for the launch of Michael's Secret
Writing. Professor Ian Donaldson,
Head of the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National
University, had kindly arranged Old Canberra
House as the venue for the launch. Michael was a former student
of the professor, who retold the story of recognising Michael
at the back of one his lectures after he returned to Canberra
after a long absence and wondering if Michael was still working
degree after all that time! (He wasn't, but he couldn't resist
the temptation to sit in on one of his former mentor's classes
Michael and family hosted David for two nights at their place
in Yass, where David got close and personal with “the Kelpie”,
but only after a few well-timed nips at his heels as he walked
up the stairs to the house from his cosy retreat in Michael’s
Several libraries later, David found himself in Sydney for
the events heralding the launch of A
Ticket for Perpetual Locomotion. The first
was held on 20 October at The Hills Grammar School where Geoffrey
The school pulled out all the stops in promoting the event to
the local media and several articles appeared to coincide with
Hills event. We shared the venue with the people from Scholastic,
who were mounting a book fair, and it was attended by parents,
students and teachers, with lovely calorie-free cakes (!) for
Not content with one event, we pushed on the next day for a reading
Bookshop at Epping. There was some serious wine at the
event, which attracted many of Geoffrey’s teaching colleagues who
weren’t able to make the school event, as well as people
from Banjo’s invitation list.
Finally, we climaxed with the formal launch at the NSW Writers
Centre on Saturday afternoon, and thanks to a sponsorship from Angove’s
Wines, the 60+ attendees were kept in good spirits. Crime
Cole launched the book at both The Hills and the Writers
Centre, and we were grateful for her kind words.
With the launches out of the way, David could concentrate on
the few remaining libraries on his way back to Brisbane. He
stopped in at Tamworth, Armidale and Coffs Harbour, making
a total of
libraries visited on this tour, and injecting a much appreciated
cash flow into IP’s balance sheet.
No rest for the wicked, though. David’s off to North
America on 10 November for speaking engagements and meetings
and potential distributors, with similar activities in the
planning stage for New Zealand in January.
Tilly Brasch, author of No
Middle Name, attended a national conference hosted by the
South Australian Schizophrenia Fellowship
as well as the CAPS conference in Brisbane. Her book is
the subject of an extensive interview in the online
newsletter of the International Center for Clubhouse
Development in New York City. Most recently, she was flown to Canberra
to address a Parliamentary
at reform to the Mental Health Act.
Even before that, her IP Picks
winning book had prompted this speech in
Parliament by Arch Bevis, Senator for Brisbane, reprinted with
his kind permission here:
Youth suicide is one of the most tragic issues in our society,
and its occurrence is all too common. Sadly, and for far too long,
youth suicide has been ignored by governments of all political
persuasions. It is time that the parliament, including all members
on both sides of the chamber, spoke up about this problem so that
we can start to address this tragic situation. In my home state
of Queensland the most recent figures, which are for 2003, indicate
that 53 young men took their own lives. Overwhelmingly the problem
affects more young men than young women. In 2003, nationally 250
young men and 39 women took their lives. Although I am happy to
say that the number of women who have taken their lives in the
last five years has reduced, the number of men who have taken their
lives has not.
In Queensland, every week one person takes their life. In Australia,
nationally, every working day one young man takes his life. The
statistics indicate that, while we are sitting here and working
in this place today, a young Australian male will take his life.
That is tragic. We cannot allow the situation to continue, nor
should we allow the parliament to ignore the issue. It is time
that we had an open debate. We quite rightly take a great deal
of interest in youth deaths on the roads; however, the statistics
indicate that youth suicides number more than half the total deaths
of young males in road accidents. The number of young men who take
their lives is more than half of those who lose their lives on
the road. Everyone talks about the incidence of road deaths; however,
we ignore youth suicides, which particularly affect young men,
and deaths from depression and other depressive illnesses. We need
to do something to fix it.
I want to acknowledge the efforts of two organisations that are
trying to combat this terrible problem, and I have to say that
they have had little or no support from this parliament or any
other parliament. The OzHelp Foundation operates here in Canberra
and is targeted to the apprentices and young men who work in the
building industry. The foundation is funded by the Master Builders
Association and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
The CFMEU, which is much maligned in this place on a regular basis
by the government, and the Master Builders Association deserve
great credit for the work they are doing to help young men in the
building industry in the ACT.
I also want to acknowledge the work of good friends of mine, Kev
and Tilly Brasch. I had the great honour of launching Tilly’s
book No Middle Name, which recounted the life of her son, Riley,
who, tragically, took his life in tragic circumstances. It is a
book that we should all read. Any parent who reads it and does
not have a tear in their eye needs to have their heart checked.
Youth suicide is a problem that all parliamentarians need to start
talking about. We can no longer ignore the fact that one young
man takes his life every working day of the year. That is a frightening
statistic, and there is a human life and a family tragedy behind
each statistic. We need to take action sooner rather than later.
I urge all members to speak with their colleagues in their party
room and elsewhere so we can start the work to correct this terrible
Michael has developed the warp and weft of the plot using the complex
literary device of telling the story through letters and flashbacks,
but he handles this well and carries the reader along with competence
and clarity. He maintains the interest on every page with challenging
insights and a taut use of language and imagery.
— Dr Kevin Baker
The entries are already coming
in for our fifth annual competition for unpublished manuscripts.
If you’re reading about it for the first time and are
interested, better get your skates on — it closes on 1 December!
Entry forms and conditions, along with further details about the
competition, including previous winners, can be found on our
special IP.Picks page.
Order any Audio + Text CD from the list below and we’ll
toss in the book (the paperback) for a mere extra $11 (a savings
of at least 50%!) You decide which one to keep and which to give
away at holiday time!!
Buy any of the following from the IP Shop via our orders
page to qualify.