the newsletter of Interactive Publications Pty Ltd
Home   ||   Store   ||   Orders   ||   Contacts


Director's Welcome


Welcome to our fiftieth issue! IP eNews has been in business almost as long as IP, and we're pleased at how many faithful subscribers we have in Australia, New Zealand and across the globe.

This is a good excuse to reflect on how far we've come as a publisher and to celebrate our continuing survival. In an era of rapid change, the race will be won not by the slow and steady but by those who take a few risks and adapt to the new landscape.

Despite our modest resources, IP continues to lead the way on several fronts. We are publishing our new titles in print, print on demand, and eBook versions and providing access to our content 24/7 via several global partners including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Overdrive and Goggle. Some of our titles have been translated into Spanish and German, and French versions are under way. Thanks to our partnership with mobile platform distributor SmarteBooks, many of our titles are now available as iPhone and Android apps in languages like Mandarin!

We are particularly keen to explore "transmedia" opportunities where we publish work composed by textual, visual and audio artists.

Despite our wish to stay at the cutting edge of publishing, we still believe in the physical book, and will continue to publish them, albeit in smaller print runs that minimise waste in keeping with our commitment to green principles.

Rather than wring our hands over the demise of certain chain bookshops, IP will seek new marketing channels by thinking laterally about the potential audiences for our work, and promoting to them directly. We decided two years ago to abandon the conventional model of distribution in favour of internet based marketing coupled with personal contact by phone. At a time when you're more likely to speak to someone in a call centre or work your way through speech recognition mazes before you get to speak to a real person, our staff still pick up the phone to speak to our contacts directly, and that personal approach is paying off.

It's our willingness to embrace change without demanding that our audiences accept what we think they should have that is the IP difference and why we're still here nearly 15 years on. And I hope that you'll still be with us when we hit Issue 100!


Highlights from IP's Summer Gala 2011 (above)

Also see trailers featuring Chris Mansell reading from Schadenvale Road, Barry Levy reading from Shades of Exodus, Peter Allert demonstrating his art for Long Live Us! and Lyn Reeves on tour in Tasmania with her latest poetry book Designs on the Body.

Thanks to Neridah McHenry, Assistant Editor, Media Projects, for her invaluable production assistance!


The next six months will be crucial for the book industry in Australia. And many things happening here could well be reflected in overseas markets.

Rupert Murdock said, some years ago, of the emerging markets that the big would not necessarily win out over the small, and we're seeing that play out in the bookselling industry. With the impending demise of mega chains like Red Group Retail, and many of their Angus & Robertson, Borders and Whitcoulis stores, booksellers are scrambling to find new models that will help them survive.

A joint venture between independent chain Readings Bookshops, Inventive Labs and the Small Press Underground Network saw the recent launch of Booki.sh, an online eBook store that promises to showcase local content, but the last word we had was that they were listing only hundreds of titles rather than the hundreds of thousands or even millions offered by online shops like Kindle, Kobo, Apple and Sony. Was it a mistake for Booki.sh to launch until they'd reached a critical mass of titles? Only time will tell. Internet shoppers are impatient and seldom give online shops more than one chance to impress.

More promising is online shop Booku, a spin-off from Boomerang Books, which has been online for some time. Much better resources than Booki.sh, and sporting content from global suppliers like Overdrive, Booku has hit the ground running. Yet even Booku faces the challenge of establishing a distinctive brand in the marketplace. Can they offer anything that the global online shops can't? Or offer it in a better way?

One thing that Booki.sh may have going for it is that their content is "cloud-based", that is, you don't have to download it, as long as you're willing to read it on your computer. This could give them a technological edge over other suppliers in the emerging rental or borrowing market. But that will only be in the short-term since Amazon, Apple, Google and others are already piloting similar channels.

The rental/borrowing approach may be good for online distributors, but publishers and authors are nervous about it – and for good reason. Already facing revenue shortfalls where digital sales eat into physical sales, many publishers want to apply the brakes until clearer compensation models emerge. One American publisher has already applied strict limits on borrowing privileges for its e-content.

A week is a very short time in this business!


<title>IP eNews/<title>

IP Digital Buzz

We're very pleased to have Nerida McHenry on staff as an intern from QUT at present. Nerida has excellent skills in film editing and animation, and we're certainly putting them to good use on several projects. Nerida whipped off an excellent trailer for David Reiter's latest film Nullarbor Song Cycle, as well as a slideshow for our recent Tasmania tour, featuring Lyn Reeves and Anne Morgan, and trailers for our Summer Season titles captured from the Gala Launch held recently in Brisbane (see it below).

David will be working closely with her on his film memoir, My Planets, which has been on the back burner for some time, waiting for production assistance. Welcome, indeed, Neridah!

David was pleased to complete Nullarbor Song Cycle at long last, and the process reminded him of all the joys (?) involved with authoring film in Final Cut Studio. While the analogy about always remembering how to ride a bike once you've learned has some bearing on working with digital media software, there are always a few things you forget and have to relearn.

NullarborNullarbor combines spoken word, video and animated text and stills in juxtaposed refraining sequences that work musically – hence the notion of a song cycle. It times out at 28 minutes, which would fit quite well into a half hour time slot, so we're hopeful it will be picked up by the ABC, SBS, or… If it gets up on the ABC, we promise you won't have to watch the trailer every 30 minutes for the weeks leading up to the broadcast, as we've had to endure the ones for Paper Giants!

<title>IP eNews/<title>

As mentioned above, he past few months saw the launch of Booki.sh and Booku, two online eBookstores located in Australia. IP titles are available on Booku due to our partnership with Overdrive (ContentReserve) but not as yet with Booki-sh, though we have offered the latter content. We only hope that these new Australian sites will list our titles with accurate recommended retail prices, learning a lesson from the A&R and Borders sites, which seemed to pick prices out of mid air, and almost always inflated by 30-50%!

<title>IP eNews/<title>

One of our major POD partners, Lightning Source, will open a plant in Melbourne in June to cover the Asia-Pacific region. This will enable retailers and wholesalers to access our titles 24/7 and for us to print short runs for much less and much quicker than was possible when we had to order from their USA plants. The beauty of the system is that orders are filled from the plant closest to the buyer. Since IP has been working with Lightning Source for some time, we're in an excellent position to provide services to other independent publishers who are too IT or time-challenged to do it themselves. IP has just signed a new agreement with Lightning Source to allow for printing and distribution from Australia, so we'll be up and running with them in June.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

As discussed in more detail under IP Sales, we've now re-launched our online Store with not just a new look but also prices for our digital editions. We hope this will encourage you to try a few – or many – eBooks for that new Kindle or iPad 2 you just bought!

Check out our new look Store here:

<title>IP eNews/<title>

IP Kidz Update

Our six new children’s titles have now been released, so we’ve been keeping busy with launches and promotion. In press at the moment is Robert Moore’s About Face (illustrated by animation company Monkeystack), a picture book about About Facea young boy who dreams that his eyes, ears, nose and lips jump off his face one night and go adventuring through the house. See the Focus interviews with Robert and Shane Bevin of Monkeystack for more on the joys of collaboration and looking ahead to the animated film version.

On the translation front, our Spanish and German translations of Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) are now available for purchase, joining the Spanish and German translations of Real Guns. French translations of Lyli Meets the Stone-Muncher and The Sky Dreamer are also underway.

Looking ahead, the illustrations for Mark Carthew’s Witches’ Britches, Itches and Twitches are nearing completion, and we’re in the process of finding an illustrator for Janet Reid’s The Ruby Bottle, winner of the IP Picks 2011 Best Junior/Young Adult Prose category. Our children’s and YA list is now being represented by the Australian Licensing Corporation, so we look forward to more news on that front, following ALC's representation of our list at Bologna and the London Book Fair.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Out & About

David had a very pleasant time down in Tasmania for a week that saw him offering his Retool and Remix: Get a Digital Life and Digital Projects Bootcamp workshops on concurrent weekends for the Tasmanian Writers Centre to veryeBook Kitappreciative crowds. The Bootcamp workshop added several more people to the stayers from Retool & Remix, which certainly suggests that his teaching struck a chord. His new eBook, Your eBook Survival Kit, was also much in demand from participants wanting to take away much of the detail offered in the workshops.

WIth the generous support of the Writers Centre, David was housed for the week in the historic Writers' Cottage, just above Salamanca Place. He did his best to commune with the ghosts reputed to be in residence, but they must have been somewhat intimidated by the presence of a digital guru, preferring to haunt authors of musty tomes.

As the video on her site shows, Lyn Reeves had a very Designs on Bodysuccessful launch of Designs on the Body at The Lark in Hobart. David spoke briefly about developments at IP, and Anne Morgan had a chance to introduce her IP picture book, The Sky Dreamer, illustrated by Swiss artist Céline Einmann.

David, Lyn and Anne ventured down to Margate on a blustery Sunday to give a reading to a hardy crew of kids and adults, hosted by the Freight Train Bookshop. It was so blustery in fact that the event, which was Sky Dreamerto be held outside under a marque, had to be transferred to the shelter of a neighbouring carpet showroom – definitely a first for IP events!

On the Tuesday we headed up north to Devonport for an evening event hosted by the Devonport Regional Art Gallery, again to a very large crowd.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

IP's Summer Gala was a roaring success, with both events solidly booked out. The Friday night Soirée attracted 70 people to Paddington's Kookaburra Café for drinks and savory snacks, and of course a chance to rub shoulders with a number of Summer Season authors, including Chris Mansell, illustratorPeter Allert, the poet/painter duo of Glenise Clelland and Mocco Wollert, novelist Barry Levy, Anna Bartlett, and well-known children's author Libby Hathorn. David was also happy to talk brieflyShades of Exodus about the third novel in his Project Earth-mend Series, Tiger Tames the Min Min.

Bookings were so heavy for the Sunday Gala at 4MBS Classic FM's Performance Studio that we had to wait-list people and organise an initial session for the children's titles and a later one for the adults. Approximately 120 people attended. You can view some of the highlights here, as well as longer trailers on the individual mini-sites.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

David travelled south to host the launch of Chris Mansell's Schadenvale Road at the Tea Club in Nowra on the New SouthSchadenvale RoadWales South Coast. We were competing for attention on Election Day for the State Parliament, but a good crowd came out before or after casting their votes. Many people there were less familiar with Chris' prose than her poetry, but all enjoyed her reading.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Most recently, David travelled up to Maroochydore to attend the launch of a new war memoir, Saved by the Bomb, by digger Eric Leadbetter, who was a POW after the Fall of Singapore, and wrote about his experiences in forced labour on the Burma Railway and in coal mines near Nagasaki just before the atomSaved by Bomb bomb was dropped. The book was published under our Digital Publishing Centre imprint as a tribute not only to Eric by his wife Margaret and daughter Lesley but also to the memory of all those who gave theirlives during the Japanese occupation. The launch was generously hosted by the Maroochydore Branch of the RSL.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

IP Sales

We've negotiated sub rights sales for three books recently. The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling by David P Reiter sold to Leadstart, a Mumbai based publisher that distributes throughout India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.Global CoolingAt the end of the third novel in the Series, Tiger Tames the Min Min, Tiger and his crew contemplate taking Project Earth-mend offshore (in fact, they do travel to the Gulf of Mexico to help a pod of whales seal off the BP oil spill – a fact shrouded in secrecy following their audience with President Obama and Madonna). So a sequel in India could make sense, especially since the new member of the crew, Number 12, is a retired racing camel who would feel very much at home spreading the Word to communities of elephants and the odd snow leopard!) Stay tuned!

And we're dotting the i's and crossing the t's on a deal with a Korean publisher for rights to Libby Hathorn's latest IP Kidz title, I Love You Book, illustrated by Heath McKenzie. Libby hasbeen vigorously promoting the book in Sydney to libraries and schools, and she has a major event coming up shortly at theLove Book Powerhouse Discovery Centre. After a feature article in The Brisbane News, she was also interviewed on Radio National's Life Matters program about how the book fits into the current debate about the future of the book, being a celebration of the physical book and the joys of reading between family members.

Lateral thinking has also been assisting in the promotion of another of our new titles, Christina's Matilda by Edel Wignell, illustrated by Elizabeth Botté. Edel and Liz organised a launch by the Premier of Victoria, Ted Ballieu, who had more than a passing interest in the book, since one of his relations was involved in the story of how Christina Macpherson helped Banjo Paterson bring "Waltzing Matilda" to fruition. Edel alsoChristina Matildamade contact with the Victorian Macpherson Clan and attended a recent Highland Games, where she sold a stack of books, as well as reportedly doing a fling or two! Word has gone out to the Macpherson Clan worldwide – and hopefully not just about Edel's dancing. Edel and IP have been working together to organise an event at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland some time in July, which promises to be another major promotional boost for the book.Defence of Hawaiian Shirts

We sold a poem by BN Oakman to the ABC for a new CD featuring ex-Gardening Show presenter Peter Cundall. Listen for Track 14, "Chalk Dust", from his IP title In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts.

Finally, our own Children's Editor Anna Bartlett has been spreading the word about her new book A Penny in Time by getting the Perth and Canberra Mints involved in stocking and promoting the book.

In short, in the current climate, publishers need to promote their titles creatively by seeking non-traditional outlets and events to reach new markets, and IP and our authors are doing just that.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

In Review

[We had a bumper crop of reviews since our last issue. The ones that follow are snippets from the full reviews, which you can find by clicking on the thumbnail for the title.]

Céline Einmann - Lyli Meets the Stone-Muncher

LyliThis gentle story is about inquisitiveness, adventure and friendship.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Celine has given this story a real fable feel; even though it is brand new it seems like something you might have read as a child.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Edel Wignell / Elizabeth Botté - Christina's Matilda

Edel Wignell has successfully told the story of a modest woman who made a very significant contribution to Australia. The young and not so young reader will find it a most worthwhile read.

– Jim Low, Simply Australia

Reading the story of Christina's Matilda is like looking through an old scrapbook, faded with time with sepia coloured pages with beautiful borders; pages that are filled with personal memorabilia that tell a fascinating story and shed light on the origins of 'Waltzing Matilda'.

– Margaret Warner, Buzzwords

Christina's Matilda would certainly be a great resource for a Christina Matildaschool project and a great discussion piece for the classroom.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Though the old Scottish tune and the lyrics are remembered, Christina's part in the story was forgotten until the 1970s. Christina's Matilda, written by Edel Wignell and illustrated by Elizabeth Botte brings Christina's story to life.

– Dee White, Buzz Words

This is a fascinating story where the use of historical photographs brings the story of the swagman to life. Australia has a wonderful and colourful history and Christina’s Matilda is a great book to read, to look at, and to learn from.

The Reading Stack

Libby Hathorn / Heath McKenzie – I Love You Book

I love I Love You Book!

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Love BookThis delightful book will deliver something special for readers and writers of all ages.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

This is a book that readers can dive into and be taken into a world of imagination. It allows adults to reflect on the books we have loved – the ones that stand out and mean the most to us, that have taken us in.

– Dee White, Kids Book Capers

Edel Wignell / Peter Allert – Long Live Us!

Primary students who are already familiar with all the characters in the book will thoroughly enjoy their new and unexpected adventures.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Where would our fairy tales be without baddies? Edel Wignellhas taken a different tack on fairy tales with Long Live USthis very good point. 

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

it’s always inspiring for me to hear about small independent publishers in Australia willing to team first time picture book illustrators and established authors to produce books that readers will enjoy and that give Australian creators an opportunity to showcase their unique talents.

– Dee White, Kids Book Capers

David P Reiter – Tiger Tames the Min Min

Tiger Tames MinWell done, David Reiter for creating imaginative junior novels about deeper issues without being dictating or losing the fun and adventure.  The cover and chapter illustrations are gorgeous too.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

The underlying messages about sustainability and saving the planet are artfully integrated into an entertaining sci-fi storyline with a hint of suspense. The humour is quirky and contemporary and often quite sophisticated and will really appeal to readers who ‘get it’.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Anna Bartlett – A Penny in Time

Anna Bartlett has captured the everyday adventures of a century of young Australians in vivid prose. The vignettes in A Penny in Time provide windows into the lives of ordinary children whose experiences are part of the rich tapestry of Australian history.

– Kirsty Murray

Well written, entertaining and full of facts. A Penny in Time is a great book for pure enjoyment and the classroom.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

If only learning history had been this much fun in myPenny in Timeschooldays.

– Deborah Lisson

This book would suit students in upper primary and is a great way to make history more personal and engaging.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Juliet Blair – Arlo and the Vortex Voyage

Power, greed, adventure, friendship and a whole lot of other juicy contributions really make this book a gem. Get your hands on it!

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

ArloThis fast-paced story explores many issues associated with authority, survival, relationships and independence and will keep the reader intrigued to the last page as dramatic events unfold. 

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Anne Morgan / Céline Einmann – The Sky Dreamer

This beautiful book very gently explores the process of loss and healing and would be very comforting to share with a child going through this process.

– Margaret Warner, Buzz Words

Dr. Anne Morgan has explored an important topic for anyone Sky Dreameraffected by the grief of losing a loved on.  For children in particular it is so much more confusing and hard to understand. 

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Hazel Edwards, Christine Anketell, Mini GossThe Duckstar Series

The font is large and a generous spread of illustrations make these books eminently readable for those who are not yet ready for the concentration that a full blown storyline demands.

– Debbie Mulligan, Magpies

DuckStarThe issues in these stories are gently raised, though the tales do respond to the contemporary world (workplace safety issues and the effects of technology on natural experiences). A fun experience with a character who might just stick around for a while.

Kevin Brophy, Reading Time Review

A barrel of fun and a welcome addition to any home or classroom collection.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

David P Reiter – Global Cooling

Global Cooling would make a great addition to the classroom. Global CoolingWith so many topics and issues to cover, it really creates the perfect opportunity for developing awareness.  An endless multitude of projects, activities and classroom displays could arise.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Libby Hathorn / Doris Unger – Zahara's Rose

Zahara's RoseWith descriptive scenes and visually suited illustrations by Doris Unger, the desert environment of Babylon and the hanging gardens of Zahara’s Rose become a trip to another land.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Hazel Edwards / John Petropoulos – Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time)

PlatoAs well as being a delightful story about a little platypus who plumbs, it also touches on subjects such as drought and environmental changes, pollution, platypus facts, conservation and feral animals.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Goldie Alexander / Marjory Gardner – Hedgeburners: an A~Z PI Mystery

Filled with an array of different characters Hedgeburners certainly isn’t lacking in variety, which is a good thing when you are trying to track down a couple of trouble makers that are destroying the neighbourhoods hedges.

– Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Anyone for the Organic Approach?

Take as many creative workshops as you like, but you'll still get the same advice: plan your work before you start writing. But is this the best advice?

The know-your-story-before-you-begin approach works fine for some authors – those who simply must know where they're heading before they get there. But the approach is fraught with danger for other authors. The ones who freeze up at the thought of having to outline before they get started.

The reality is that there are two basic writing temperaments. Top down, or deductive, authors are quite comfortable, even dependent on meticulous planning of their work before they begin. These are people for whom the invention of the GPS was a llfe-changing experience. For whom "going with the flow" translates into the real threat of drowning.

Organic authors, are, by their nature, free spirits. They look to their imagination as the source of content, while they act as mediators between their unconscious sphere and its expression in physical form, e.g. through text. Organic authors feel constrained, even inhibited by an approach that insists they need to know what they will write before theu start writing.

There's much to be said for the top down, systematic approach to composing. You know where to begin, and you know where you're heading before you get there. It's very efficient – so long as the author's mind cooperates by generating content to flesh out the skeleton hanging there. And it's a much easier approach to teach if you're earning your living as a creative writing instructor.

However, there IS another way. If you are organically inclined, if you simply HAVE to write to discover what your story will be about, then rejoice, your method is valid. It may take you more time to find your story, and much more time to reorganise and refine it once you've managed to draft it out, but your imagination will have led the way, rather than being servant to a more methodical approach that may be better suited to architects than authors.


<title>IP eNews/<title>

Top of Page





Jane Williams

City of Possibilities


Amelia Fielden

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Robert Moore

About Face


Libby Hathorn

I Love You Book


Anne Morgan

The Sky Dreamer


Chris Mansell

Schadenvale Road


Barry Levy

Shades of Exodus


Edel Wignell

Christina's Matilda


Celine Eimann

Lyli Meets the Stone-Muncher


David P Reiter

Your eBook Survival Kit

Nullarbor Song Cycle




The Focus Interviews

Focus 1: Amelia Fielden & Kathy Kituai

[Amelia Fielden and Kathy Kituai's latest collaboration is the tanka work Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. They were interviewed by Assistant Editor Léa Antigny.]

LA: In 2010 you published Weaver Birds, a bilingual tanka collaboration with Saeko Ogi. Does the creative process differ strongly when you work with different poets, or do the rules of tanka lend themselves to a smooth collaboration regardless?
AmeliaFAF: Tanka is fixed form poetry: 5 short lines in a fundamental rhythm of short/long/short/long/long lines, to a total syllable count of between 19 and 31 (English) syllables. Therefore the shape of my tanka is always much the same, no matter the poet to whom I am writing a response. What varies is the content of the response. Kathy and I have very different personalities and lifestyles .But we have some basic things in common: we were brought up by Australian parents in Australia, and we have spent many years living in Canberra. Saeko Ogi is ethnically Japanese, and did not come to live in Australia until she was 40 years old. I am a Japanese translator by profession, and I need to 'switch on' that side of my mind when I am collaborating with Saeko,for example. The creative process does not really change when I work with different poets; I still write in my own way, but the focus and content of my tanka can vary significantly, according to my poet partner's background and thinking.
LA: Over the course of your year-long collaboration with Kathy, you spent some months in America. Did place and physical space have a great impact on your writing, and if so how?
AF: Yes, place always has a major impact on my writing. While my tanka are not strictly autobiographical - not every detail is absolutely 'true' - I don't write fantasy or highly imaginative poetry. For example, a Canadian colleague who has had no children writes tanka about her 'daughter'. I only base my work on real experience; being an only child, I would never write as if I had had siblings. By the same token, where I am living, even temporarily, such as the home of my daughter and grandchildren in Seattle, USA , is a source of material and inspiration for my poems. Moreover, I have been closely involved with Japan for half a century, and much of my poetry is either set in Japan or influenced by my long periods of residing and working there.
LA: What are the challenges and the rewards of collaborative poetry?
AF: The challenge of responsive poetry - I prefer the term 'responsive' to 'collaborative', because in Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow each tanka is completely written by one poet and then responded to by the other - is to get inside the partner's head and try to comprehend the full meaning, and all the implications, of what she has presented for response. The rewards are the enormous stimulation one receives, and the stretching of one's own mind.
LA: Why are you drawn to such a traditional Japanese form?
AF: I first learned of tanka, (which was called waka in Japan until the beginning of the 20th century), when I was studying classical Japanese literature in my 4th,'Honours', year of a Bachelor of Asian Studies' degree majoring in Japanese at the Australian National University in 1962. I fell in love with the form then, charmed by a style of poetry which could say so much in so few words. Fast forward to 1999 when I was askedYesterday Today to translate a book of contemporary tanka by the great poet Kawano Yuko. It was such a fascinating challenge trying to transfer the sense and beauty of Kawano's Japanese tanka into English that I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to compose original Japanese-style tanka in my own native language, English. The rest, as they say, is history; to date I have had 6 volumes of my original tanka published, plus 3 books of responsive tanka (2 with Kathy and 1 with Saeko Ogi) and 16 books of Japanese tanka which I have translated or co-translated.
LA: Do you believe tanka has wide-ranging appeal?
AF: Yes, I do. Many people have read my/our books and then made comments such as "I don't usually like, or understand, poetry, but I do like tanka." Tanka are concise and direct. They are not long-winded, pretentious, or obscure, and they can go straight to the heart of the reader.
LA: Some of the tanka in this collection were inspired by specific moments, for example a sister falling ill. Did you find it difficult or restrictive responding to something more personal? Or were the challenges inspirational in a new way?
AF: Not restrictive, no. All human lives have similarities ; from birth to death we all go through similar experiences. Besides which, tanka responses do not need to be mirrors. A lot of the responses in Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow move into a different arena/or onto a different subject from the tanka to which the poet is responding. Occasionally it can be a little difficult to think of a suitable response, or way to respond and keep the dialogue going forward. But that is the challenge and stimulation of 'rensaku' (= connected tanka).
LA: Writing and responding to another individual for a year must have forged a special relationship. How has the process influenced your writing style or methods?
AF: That is true. It certainly deepens one's knowledge and understanding of the partner poet.
However, I don't believe that the process of creating a body of responsive tanka - in the case of Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, in the form of a year-long diary - has influenced my writing style or methods. What it has done, hopefully, is to improve my writing technique. In practical terms I have had not just a partner, but an informed critic reading and discussing every single tanka I produced for the joint book, and making objective suggestions. Which assists me greatly in writing more clearly, and in some instances more 'cleverly'.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

LA: Kathy, you have been widely rewarded for your free verse poetry as well as tanka. Does your creative process or writing style differ strongly between the two?
KathyKKK: Yes and no. Where I’ll use the short-long-short-long-long form when writing Modern English tanka and tend to slip into form as the idea arrives, I’m more inclined to explore ideas for free-verse in prose, which is nothing but a mess of words, before deciding what form is best and base that decision on the content. Images inspire tanka more than ideas and the process is more direct. I’ve always penned short poetry and apart from a few exceptions of longer poems like Head Turned Just So To The East’ short-listed in 2011 Broadway Poetry Prize, I prefer to express myself in as few words as possible.  
LA: You have been noted as a diarist and a long time journal keeper. How does keeping a journal help as a writer?
KK: A journal is written for an audience of one, you, and is a ‘do-anything-book’ in which to write for expression not perfection.  In the process, a poem can fall onto the page quite naturally and needs little editing to prepare it for publication. Regular, sometimes daily journal writing, fines up a writer’s skills. We are limited only by imagination and as well as recording life events creatively, learn the art of writing at our own pace.  Straggling into Winter was the first journal I wrote for publication and in tanka.  
LA: What are the challenges and the rewards of collaborative poetry?
KK: This is a BIG question with more answers than I could possibly give in an interview. However, one of the most important discoveries collaboration has taught me, is that no matter the type of genre through which ‘the other’ expresses themselves, most art practices are the same. They manifest differently that’s all. One of the tanka sequences in Pots and Poetry, a work in progress from a cross-art, cross cultural collaboration (thank you Arts ACT) I took part in with a Scottish ceramacist, Fergus Stewart, focuses on this point.  We discovered that the only difference between ‘Poetry and Pottery’ is an extra ‘T’. And yet you could easily presume these two art forms have little in common because everything about ceramics is labour intensive. And it’s heavy work, especially if you use a wood-fired kiln, as Fergus did. Writing requires redrafting and editing if the outcome is to be perfect which is time consuming but it doesn’t require writers to chop a ton of wood, of wedge air out of clay before art can commence. Instead pen and paper can be bought in a newsagent. The greatest challenge is to find another artist who knows that each of you are half of the whole equation and the work that arises out of collaboration could not have come into being without both. The reward is in the trust you share as well as a more intimate knowledge of their art form, yours and yourself as artist. 
LA: Why are you drawn to such a traditional Japanese form?
KK: I’ve been attracted to Japanese forms intuitively more than by logic.  And it’s hard to explain totally. However, what satisfies the most is that here is less of the poet in Japanese than western forms and more of the present moment.  I’m often asked what’s the difference between a five-line poem and a tanka. One of the answers is the ‘aha! factor’ in a tanka.  Western poetry works too hard for the reader by spelling it all out on the page.  I’ve also found that clever language is praised and focused on and thereby draws attention to the poet, often at the expense of the poem’s meaning.
LA: Do you believe tanka has wide-ranging appeal?
KK: During the last six years in which I have specializing in tanka, I have noticed an increased interest among Australian poets in the form and it is spreading. Australian poet and editor, Beverley George, and Amelia Fielden’s translations of Japanese poets have laid a firm foundation for tanka in Australia. I’m facilitating ‘The Limestone Tanka Poets’ in the ACT in order to bring attention to the form and further its popularity. Its appeal? … this varies from, poet to poet. For me the charm of tanka is the way in
which it can parallel internal and external landscape and invites readers to make leap between the two, thus bringing about a more holistic, deeper understanding. My love of tanka has not overshadowed free-verse.  I write both with as much passion these days.
LA: Some of the tanka in this collection were inspired by specific moments, for example a sister falling ill. Did you find it difficult or restrictive responding to something more personal? Or were the challenges inspirational in a new way?
KK: On the contrary I find tanka all embracing when it comes to expressing personal moments and without sentimentality. The wholeness and balance it offers is perfect for this. What inspires me about tanka is the fact that you say just enough to infer what is felt. This is so characteristic of the adage: ‘less is more”. It’s exhilarating if one masters this, even in just one tanka.  LA: Writing and responding to another individual for a year must have forged a special relationship. How has the process influenced your writing style or methods
Amelia and I are also writing buddies and have been friends for several years. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is the second responsive tanka book we have written together, and the personal nature of writing a shared diary brought us closer. Maintaining our individuality is not a problem. I’d go as far as to say that the more differences between ‘the other’ and yourself when collaborating, the more dynamic the writing.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Focus 2: Chris Mansell

[Chris Mansell is a well-published poet, but she's been publishing her stories in various magazines for some time. Schadenvale Road is her first published collection of short fiction. Assistant Editor Sarah Elliott interviews her.]

SE:The short stories in this collection are extraordinarily visual and capture 'moments' beautifully. Does this come from your experience as a poet? Do you find that poetry and prose are harmonious in this way?
ChrisMCM: Yes, I think short stories are much more similar to poems than they are to novels, for example. They capture a moment, a shift in the world, or the perception of the world, which changes everything. It's a small canvas, so you've got to make every bit work, just as you do in a poem. What I like about prose fiction is that you can get your characters to speak, and get inside their heads. I like writing script for the same reason. When I write the stories, the process is quite different to the process of writing a poem. Even though a poemcan be very sensual, there is a high level of abstraction, whereas with stories I imagine the thing whole, as events. I see it happening in front of me, around me, and I enjoy that process. 
SE: Do you find writing short stories more challenging than writing poetry? If so, why? 
CM: They're different tasks really. I enjoy letting my imagination roam free in either form, but the sorts of things thatI can do in short fiction are different to poetry. I like to be more playful in short stories and I use humour that is more observational. I also enjoy exploring characters and giving them room to talk and walk and extending and playing with an idea. With poetry the humour, and there is quite a bit, is language-based. Short fiction and poetry have their own, different, challenges, pleasures and technical demands.
SE: How does your rural location influence your work? And how does it affect your career as a writer?
CM: Very much. There is a rural/regional sensibility which is a little different to that of people accustomed to live in larger places. Almost all of these stories are set in a rural environment, most in a fictional 'valley'. Some had their germ in something I heard, some small thing I noticed. It's more difficult to be a writer outside of a city, I think. This is mostly because you don't have the interaction with other writers that you might otherwise have. I keep in touch online and I'm not so far away from the cities that I can't drive there in a few hours. People do tend to forget you exist though.
SE: In 'The First Fig' you deal with the nature of Schadenvale Roaddreams, and their ability to give us perspective and bring new meaning to our lives. Do your own dreams inspire your work? And what new perspectives have they given you?
CM: It's interesting that you chose this story. The actual first fig was real, the first fig I ever saw and it was given to me by an old man that I didn't know, but of course it begins to take on other meanings as the story progresses. Dreams are interesting in general, and here, like the fig, take on extra meanings as the story goes on. Personally I attend to my dreams: they're like your own internal short stories. I might use dreams as a trigger, though I can't imagine following the storyline of a dream. A story has to be crafted. It is an artifact, not an accident.
SE: You also talk about the importance of preserving skills and knowledge. What are the skills and knowledge that you feel need to be preserved today? How would you go about doing this?
CM: I think sometimes we get a little too far away from the essential things in life. I love modern gadgets and conveniences but it's important to know how to make things, how to be quiet with raw materials. Writing short fiction is, for me, a way of re-making the world from scratch out of the raw materials of experience. I love experts who work with their hands: carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, artisans. I think writers have affinity with people who make physical things.
SE: In 'The One In The Room With The Ceiling Of Stars' you make allusions to the rules of love that so called "sane" people abide by, and the true nature of love, which is seemingly displayed through the protagonist's ability to hear and empathise with the "languages of the world", i.e. the despair and suffering of others. This ability is understood to be a mental illness in the story. Do you believe that you have to be slightly crazy to understand the true nature of love in this way? Or is it possible to truly love following the 'rules'?
CM: Well, in this story the reader thinks that the main character is insane, the character seems to be in an institution, and they're treated as if they're insane, so at first the reader assumes that they are. In fact it's written about someone who is intensely sane. Those around them are uncomprehending and can't see what the character sees. The character sees everything; it's from the point of view of god. You see the character coming to terms with their own nature and what it means to embody love. It's a 'what if' story: what would it like to be god, how would a god seem to us, how would we treat god if (s)he turned up on earth.
SE: In 'Bright Tells The Truth About Paradise' you uncover the darkness behind our perceptions of paradise, and this seems to taint it. Do you believe that true paradise exists? Or is it something that will always elude us due to our imperfections?
CM: This story begins with something that someone said to me once, and I was struck with the sort of world view that this implied. It was a shocking thing to say, and an even more shocking thing to believe.
Where I live, we say – we understand – that we live in paradise. It's beautiful, lush, fruitful, temperate. You can't ask for better, but in this story, as in a few of the others, this paradise has its own agenda, just as nature has its own agenda: it's impervious to our ideas. Somehow the killerboy understood the threat implicit in such paradises. There's quite a bit of humour in this story, nevertheless. The imperfections are sad but awkwardly funny as well.  

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Focus 3: Robert Moore & MonkeyStack

[About Face is a first for IP, not as a picture book, but in the collaboration with Adelaide animation company MonkeyStack, who provided the illustrations in keeping with the animated film of the book they are working on. Children's Editor Anna Bartlett interviewed the author and animators.]

AB: In About Face, a young boy dreams that his eyes, ears, nose and lips jump off his face one night and go adventuring through the house. What inspired you to write this story?
RobertMRM: I have always loved to provoke children and adults into thinking and expressing themselves without boundaries and free of judgement. I am a master of my own ‘unfinished childhood’ and a former classroom and drama teacher who has taught junior primary through to tertiary level. When I was teaching young children back in the 1980s I looked for new ways to explore the five senses. I found that children loved being noses, eyes, lips and ears. To pretend to remove these organs for a short while and FEEL the freedom that these organs could experience was an amazing experience to watch and be part of. Of course time was taken to RETURN the organs safely and to their correct facial position. About Face was a result of remembering and then dreaming of a book that could express this freedom, enhance a healthy self-concept in the very young and on another level sow seeds of appreciation of what it might mean to be hearing or visually impaired. The possibilities of a play using human-sized puppets was considered as I fleshed out the original concept and this may happen at a later date.

AB: Before you approached IP Kidz with the manuscript, you’d already had some interest from animation company Monkeystack. How did this come about, and what led you to approach them?

RM: Initially publishers were reluctant to consider a book that featured a child with no facial parts. However, one publisher said that the book had a wonderful disturbing feel about it and I should try to have it published in America. It was the Taking Control programme run by the South Australian Film Corporation, The Australian Writers’ Guild and the South Australian Media Resource Centre that finally saw some progress being made. About Face was one of five projects chosen for development as a script.

I then approached Monkeystack after the first draft of About Facethe script was completed, believing a new emphasis was needed. However, after trying to fund an animation we decided that an approach to IP Kidz, who could see the many creative possibilities of today’s fast and ever changing technology, was the best way to embellish all this story offered.

AB: About Face is a fun, quirky story, but it also has the deeper theme of accepting those with different abilities. Why did you choose this theme?

RM: Subconsciously, I am driven to be inclusive of those who don’t fit into some defined mainstream norm. Creative mental fitness is as important as physical. Self expression must have a place in rivalling the narrow outcomes of competitive sports, for example. The dreadful pain I experienced having to be good at football and cricket and being ridiculed because I wasn’t, has fed a deep desire and determination to have an individual compete with himself/herself. So much damage can be done by expecting everybody to oblige ‘the one size fits all’ syndrome. There are no rules about pretending to be eyes, lips, noses or mouths. There is no judgement as to one’s ability. Difference is expected and applauded from the outset.

Initially I hadn’t considered how the theme of this book might apply to the hearing and visually impaired but this was something pointed out to me by a worker in the deaf community. Free of the confines of the face, the senses experiment with other sensory behaviours and feel the difficulty in having to compensate for loss during their brief escapade. While off the face, the senses attempt to ‘place themselves in other shoes’.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

AB: Shane, what first interested you in ‘About Face’, when Robert approached you with the manuscript?
SB: All of us at Monkeystack were really excited to see a manuscript that would allow us to flex our creative muscles. The manuscript was not full of descriptions of the characters, but was instead much more about the interplay between them and the situation they find themselves in. When the characters are not defined physically in the text, it allows for a wider level of stylisation... something that was very important to us. We wanted to keep the characters as abstract as possible. It was important that we didn’t end up with a nose with eyes and a mouth, for instance. We wanted to ensure that ‘Nose’ was just a nose, that ‘Eyes’ were just eyes etc. The story also lent itself to a level of ‘weirdness’ that we loved... at heart, we are pretty weird guys.
AB: Talk us through the process you used to produce the illustrations for the book. How time consuming was it?
SB: We used 3d software to illustrate the book, using similar software and process to any animated CGI film today. After a preproduction phase that involved a lot of brainstorming and pencil and paper concept work, we went on to ‘model’ the characters in a way that they could then be posed almost like virtual toys. We then built a scene around them and could add lighting and cameras as if we were in a virtual studio. This is exactly the same process we use to create animated pieces... it is like we are taking virtual photos, and gives us a lot of flexibility. All illustration, whatever medium, is time consuming. However, for us, the preproduction phase is where a lot of the time goes. Designing the characters, planning out the different shots and ensuring that everything is as flexible as possible allows us to have a smooth production period where we are bringing the concepts to life.
AB: The plan is for Monkeystack to produce an animated version of About Face, to go with the picture book. What’s the process from here, working towards that animation?
SB: Because of the way we have produced the characters, they are ready for animation. The animation process is, in many ways, more involved than purely posing the characters for stills, and there are many more factors we would need to lock down before production of an animated piece. Animation is very much about the way the characters ‘act’. Bringing these characters to life will be both a challenge and a thrill... each character will need to have their own personality, and animating without the added facial expressions that we would normally have on characters will be the most difficult aspect. Variables like sound, movement of environmental effects and the pacing of text to action will also add to the challenge, but we look forward to the success of the book allowing us to go into production of an animated short hopefully sometime in the near future.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Focus 4: Jane Williams

[City of Possibilities is Jane Williams' fourth book, supported with a grant from the Australia Council. Jane will be touring extensively with David Reiter to several centres to promote this excellent new work. Lea Antigny interviews her.]

LA: This title, along with the poem inside “On Entering the City of Possibilities”, could open a range of different meanings to different readers. What is the city of possibilities to you?
JaneWJW: I guess I see city of possibilities as a metaphor for the possibilities connected to what it means to be human and how we meet the challenge to live life humanely. I chose 'city' for its immediate association with a number of people living  in close proximity to one another. I'm interested in our capacity for self reflection, for compassion in relationships and as members of a wider community. In this poem I try to relate this to how we see 'home'; the confliction between it being a place of welcome on the one hand and of possession and potential segregation on the other. While the poem itself looks at society's more unwelcoming side, I wanted the title of the book to carry a sense of invitation and hope.
LA: Your poems are a moving reflection on the realities of everyday life, and at times observational such as your poem “Welfare”. Is it more difficult to find depth in unknown characters you observe, as opposed to reflecting on your own life or experiences?
JW: Yes, there are challenges and risks in writing these kinds of poems especially when they explore value judgements and social stereotypes.  To work the writing past rhetoric and arrive at some kind of emotional honesty that is interesting poetically can be difficult. I generally feel for common ground and use that as a starting point – something from my own experience or the experience of someone close to me allows me to relate. There's some kind of emotional connection from the beginning, providing the impetus for the writing and I have to trust in that.
LA: You moved to Tasmania some years ago, which has a growing reputation for fostering poetic culture. How does place affect your writing?
JW: My initial response to that would be to say place affects my writing in as much as it is peopled as I rarely write without a human factor. But that sounds dismissive of the intrinsic value of place. I know my writing is affected by place but I believe it's affected in ways that are not at first as obvious (even to me) as say someone who writes about the natural City Possibilitiesenvironment. Ways I'm still discovering. Writing is a solitary occupation, there is a certain, perhaps unavoidable loneliness and isolation associated with it. It is what it is. But it doesn't have to be a negative experience. I have wondered how living on an island (off an island) affects this. I imagine it feeds it, otherwise I wouldn't still be here and I wouldn't still be writing.

As a writer I need many still moments of aloneness but equally important is the time I spend in the company of others. I would say most of the stimulation for my writing comes from being a participant and a witness in life.  I think being geographically cut off also forces me to participate and witness even when I don't feel like it. To pay closer attention to maintaining relationships with friends and family, to taking time out for travel, to meet new people and to appreciate the natural and cultural environment in which I live.  It's a balancing act; I sometimes get right and sometimes not but it's always on my mind.  All these things impact on my writing to some extent.
LA: How does faith, a recurring theme in your poems, influence your work?
JW: The word 'faith' like the word 'blessed' comes with its own baggage doesn't it? I'm fond of both words and use them in my poetry and in my verbal communication but not necessarily as religious references. My faith is in humanity, in the human spirit and our commonalities. While  I admit I lean toward believing we are more than the sum of our parts, what exactly that 'more' is I couldn't say. My first book was influenced by my Catholic upbringing and I've retained an interest in Catholicism, religion in general and in people's (my own included) sense of the spiritual. How this influences my work I'm not sure, but I hope not in a way that is limiting. If anything I hope it opens the poetry up to   multiple interpretations.
LA: There is a great humorous and at the same time sad line, “googling my name still I can’t find myself”. Do you see modern technology and social networking affecting human nature negatively or positively?
JW: Both, I think. To what degree perhaps depends on the treatment we give this technology, whether for instance we treat it as  a complementary or even evolutionary form of learning, communication and creativity or simply as a social 'cop-out'. What are the risks?  The attraction of instant gratification?  A lack of emotional investment? In many ways the technology is the next logical step in our evolution as curious and creative beings. Some people argue that those who do not embrace it will be left behind. I'm not sure I hold to that but I would encourage writers who are reluctant to at least be aware of the technology, to explore a little. Dip a toe in and see what all the fuss is about. Whether we sink or swim is down to us, to the choices we make.
LA: Describe your interest in contemporary haibun. For the uninitiated, how does the form of haibun differ from descriptive free verse/prose?
JW: I've been reading haiku for many years and written some. And I'm a big fan of very short prose. When I discovered haibun, in particular the kind of western modern haibun being written I fell in love instantly with the form. Traditionally Japanese haibun was written as a type of daily travel diary. And it's this sense of journeying, of pilgrimage that interests me.  Being in transit, whether walking or taking other forms of transport has always been integral to my experience as a writer.

While I don't keep a journal as such I'm an avid note taker and haibun seems a natural extension for me. Maybe the simplest explanation for how haibun differs from free verse is to say it is short prose with a concluding haiku (or in its longer form a series of prose poems linked by haiku). Without the haiku the form isn't haibun so that's the most obvious difference, that it's a hybrid genre. Also the prose is traditionally haiku-like in its sparseness, using minimal words to convey meaning. I'm still discovering and developing my understanding of the form and how best it serves my writing. Critical study of contemporary haibun is fairly new and it's exciting being involved this early in its history, to read and learn, to experiment and to see where other writers take the form.

<title>IP eNews/<title>

Your Deal

VoyageDeal 1: Order ANY IP title and get a free eBook, The Voyage of the Shuckenoor by Erica Bell. It's a historical romance taking place on the high seas. A perfect gift for Mother's Day to load onto her Kindle or iPad. Total cost: $33, including postage.

Deal 2: Order David Reiter's irreverent satire Primary Primary InstinctInstinct and get his first novel, Liars and Lovers, for free. Total cost: $33, including postage.

Deal 3: Get the kids thinking Green! All three novels in the Series for those Greenhouse Effectsci-fi young readers (8-12 years) in your family for only $40, including the new release Tiger Tames the Min Min ($48 regular price). Free postage.


Order from sales@ipoz.biz with Deal 1, Deal 2 or Deal 3 as your subject. Include your postal address and whether you want to pay by EFT or PayPal.

Top of Page