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The audience gasped and it was because of something I said, or, at least, had written in a humble novella called I’m Ready Now. I didn’t think much of it, because I had to keep reading, engaging the crowd as much as humanly possible (especially when your hands are shaking and your legs feel as though stuffed with porridge). It wasn’t until I finished and stepped off the stage that Greg Gould from Blemish Books said to me with a cheeky glint in the eye, ‘Some may have found the reference to X a shock to the system.’ Of course, Greg didn’t say ‘X’; he told me exactly what some may have found a shock to the system. But I didn’t mind, not at all, because it’s better for an audience to have a strong reaction than to have no reaction.
Now it’s time to focus on the next public-speaking gig: the 2013 Southern Highland Writers’ Festival, which runs from Friday 12 July to Sunday 14 July in Bowral, New South Wales. Shit – next weekend! Check out the festival’s website for the program. As mentioned before around these parts, my session, which is with Wollongong-based novelist Christine Howe, is at 4pm on Saturday. Not only am I looking forward to participating in this amazing festival and gratuitously rubbing shoulders with eminent writers like Anne Summers, Mark Tredinnick, and Ursula Dubosarsky, I have a few familial connections to the region.
My father worked in the local hospital, my parents lived on neighbouring Mt Gibraltar, my maternal grandparents lived opposite the town oval (now named Bradman Oval, which is apparently a reference to some cricketer or other), and family lore has it that in the late 1700s, after immigrating in a boat – yes, Australian politicians, IN A BOAT – my forebears, convicts the lot of them, were granted land just south of Bowral. These days, my kin are all over the joint, but I’m just an hour down the road, in bloody-boiling-one-day-and-fucking-freezing-the-next Goulburn, which is, quite frankly, where I’m happiest.
But I’m getting carried away.
If you’re not doing anything next weekend, why not head for the Highlands? It’ll be great to see you. I might even tell you about X.
About a launch
Somehow it’s all happening at once, so to keep track of everything that’s happening, and to share some of the goodies, here’s a very rare mid-week Under the counter post. Firstly, just a reminder that my second novella with Blemish Books, I’m Ready Now, is being launched tomorrow (Thursday) night, at 5.30pm at Electric Shadows Bookshop, Mort Street, Braddon, ACT; it’s a thrill to have journalist and biographer Christine Wallace cutting the metaphorical ribbon. Cue sleepless nights and trembling hands.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been leaking bits and pieces about I’m Ready Now, so to keep the tradition going for a little while longer, this novella manages to meander its way between Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney, and northern Vietnam and south-west Ireland also get a mention. And ‘Sail On’ by The Commodores features, and this is a band that can apparently walk on clouds – make of that what you will.
Relating to I’m Ready Now, the increasingly influential literary blog Whispering Gums recently asked me for a guest-post. I wrote about novellas (no surprises there), raising children (yes, you read that right), and how family-life is the raison d’etre of the contemporary Australian novel (I really believe that). Oh, I also mention zombies. Massive thanks to Sue Terry for the opportunity.
An anthology of giants
More broadly, I’ve mentioned before that a story of mine, ‘Severance’, which was first published in the Canberra Times in 2003 and republished in Island in 2004, has been included in The Invisible Thread: one hundred years of words (Halstead Press), which celebrates the Centenary of Canberra in 2013. Creative Director of the Centenary – and singer, writer, and arts-luminary-in-general – Robyn Archer says in her introduction: ‘The anthology includes names such as Roger McDonald, David Campbell, Blanche d’Alpuget, Barbara Blackman, Rhyll McMaster, Alan Gould and Jackie French; but there are also equally beautiful emerging voices such as those of Omar Musa, Nigel Featherstone, Sarah St Vincent Welch and Melinda Smith. That so much good writing, past and present, should emerge from this region is a powerful challenge to the silly cliché of Canberra as a city without a soul.’ Needless to say, it’s a real treat to have work included in these pages.
Oh look, I’m now on YouTube
The tireless editor and project-manager of The Invisible Thread, Irma Gold, who is a very fine author in her own right, has video-interviewed seventeen of the writers involved, including yours truly. You can watch the interview here. Mostly I talk about how ‘Severance’ (which, perhaps, has turned out to be my biggest hit) was written, the benefits of living in Canberra and now Goulburn, and juggling everything that life throws at us. The Invisible Thread is being launched in Canberra on Thursday 29 November.
I hope you enjoy the links, but it’d be great to cross paths with you in person at the I’m Ready Now launch tomorrow night, or The Invisible Thread launch next week.