Tag Archives: Bon Iver

A new calendar cometh (Part 2)

2011 has been a tough year but not without highlights. Some of these include:

– Dawn over the wetlands at Kakadu
– Visiting Pascoe Vale Girls’ College for the Premiers’ Reading Challenge. Best crowd ever and I can proudly say all the library copies of my books had been stolen.
– Building friendships with other authors; I’m blessed to get to hang out with some truly fantastic people with wonderful, magical minds.
– Getting a short story published in The New Paper Trails
– Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France
– Lunchtime in the library at MacKillop College in Werribee, hanging out with the Book Clubbers and signing copies of Five Parts Dead for many more students than the teachers expected.
– A new bike
– Good friends and family
– Doing a masterclass in writing graphic novels and comics. (How cool is it that classes like this exist?)
– Clare Bowditch’s Eva Cassidy tribute show (made me cry)

Next year I’ll strive to avoid fulltime work and submerge myself in writing again.

Other favourites experienced during 2011:

TV: Deadwood; Friday Night Lights; season 5 of Skins; Bored to Death; 30 Rock reruns
Movies: Murundak: Songs of Freedom; Red Dog; Harry Potter finale; The Ides of March
Reading: Jeph Loeb’s Batman: Hush series; Glenda Millard’s beautiful The Naming of Tishkin Silk; Craig Thompson’s Habibi (Wow!); Derek Landy’s The Death Bringer; Scot Gardner’s The Dead I Know
Music: Wilco’s The Whole Love; Bon Iver’s trippy self titled album; vintage Springsteen; the Jezabels generally.

To everyone who has visited and engaged with this irregular blog, read my books, followed me on Twitter or supported me in other ways, you have my profuse thanks. May the new year bring you adventure, love and laughter.

Five Parts Dead dismembered

This set of images was prepared for Simmone Howell’s Anatomy of a Novel series, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Copyright was an issue with some of the images I wanted to include but this is still a pretty fair snapshot of the influences wafting through my mind while writing Five Parts Dead.

For the lowdown on each image and how it connects to Five Parts Dead, please pop on over to postteen trauma.

Leaking lists

Newspaper editors around Australia must be besides themselves with joy that the WikiLeaks story has broken during the silly season when news can be hard to come by. We do have the Poms belting us black and blue at cricket but that can only fill so many pages. Other perennial summer yarns include the road toll (tick) and wild weather (tick, tick, tick). In the bygone era of aggro industrial relations you could usually count on a beer and/or postal strike to liven up the pre-Christmas period, too.

Without such staples, newspapers, magazines and current affairs shows fill up with Top 10s and Best Ofs. Many blogs do, too.

Before I conducted my 2010 autopsy, I delved a little to see what influences have lingered. Here are the 2009 and 2008 entries. Hey, at least I can show I listened to Angus & Julia Stone before they became mainstream cool.

Ms Adele at Persnickety Snark suggested 11 Top 5s to countdown to 2011 but I’m going to have to settle for this mutated selection from her list, because I clearly haven’t read as quickly or widely:

5 Great Covers: Kirsty Murray’s India Dark, Leanne Hall’s This is Shyness, Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, Karen Tayleur’s Six and, dare I say, my Five Parts Dead (thanks to Chong at Text Publishing).

5 Great Series: Based on reading these with my son, Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant Series, Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kids series, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Based on my own reading of the first book in the series – Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and Joseph Delaney’s The Spook’s Apprentice.

5 Great Re-Reads (books you’ve LOVED so much you went back for more): These aren’t YA fiction but this year I found myself re-reading Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore, Neil Gaiman’s Instructions, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Dav Pilkey’s The Dumb Bunnies and lots of Dr Seuss with my daughter. I am planning to re-read Markus Zusak’s The Messenger real soon, though.

Most Anticipated (2011 titles): Sheesh, I’m still working my way through a backlog of titles. Books I can’t wait to consume come from 2010 and even further back and include Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Scot Gardner’s Happy As Larry, Kirsty Murray’s India Dark, Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Lian Hearn’s Heaven’s Net is Wide, Justin Cronin’s The Passage, Kate Constable & Penni Russon’s Dear Swoozie, Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things, Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy and Kevin Keefe’s Paddy’s Road: Life Stories of Patrick Dodson. Sally Rippin’s Angel Creek is a genuine 2011 title I’m keen to read.

But that’s just the tip of the bedside table stack. One of the apps on the iPad that makes me feel 11 all over again is the ComiXology store where I have already downloaded enough graphic novels to keep me going until next summer.

5 Great YA Bloggers
Authors – Cath Crowley, Kate Constable, Kirsty Murray, Penni Russon, Simmone Howell. Passionate book people – Book Gryffin, InkCrush, Miffy, Persnickety Snark, ReadPlus. There are countless others – but these snare me most frequently.

5 Books I Thoroughly Enjoyed in 2010 (but could have been published any time): Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Joel Deane’s The Norseman’s Song and Simmone Howell’s Everything Beautiful.

The funniest thing I’ve read all year was a chapter in Rene Goscinny’s Nicholas about a teacher doing yard duty at a boys’ school after several days of wet-day timetable. Absolute gold.

Favourite Films from 2010: Up In The Air, The Social Network, Animal Kingdom, Toy Story 3, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. (Runners up: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, The Hurt Locker, HP7, Inception.)

On Regular Rotation in 2010: Clare Bowditch, The Jezabels, Angus & Julia Stone, Arcade Fire, Whitley, Ben Folds and (still) Bon Iver.

On The Idiot Box: This year I bought a box set of The Wire and became a wirehead whenever free-to-air failed to grab me. Great stuff.

One show that entertained, upset, challenged and inspired me was The United States of Tara. The most recent series of Skins faltered somewhat but I’m still stunned it’s getting re-made in the US. Cue wail of anguish. Nooooooooo! Australian Story is consistently good. Channel 9 desecrated Top Gear.

Thanks list: In a year when I’ve had a new book released, I am acutely aware of the support I need from booksellers, reviewers, Text Publishing, speakers’ agency Booked Out, teachers, librarians, fellow authors, friends and family. Thank you all for being in my corner. I appreciate it.

Have a safe, jolly Christmas and may 2011 see your dreams come to fruition.

UPDATE: Whoops, I’ve added some titles that slipped my foggy mind first time around. And FYI, here’s the New York Times list of Notable Children’s Books of 2010.

In time, out of time and time out

Thanks to the filtering powers of Twitter, I enjoyed this post-Sydney Writers’ Festival piece from YA author Claire Zorn, as published in Overland recently.

I’d have responded to it earlier but … hey, not enough hours in the day and all that. I mean, as a parent, husband, author, freelancer, blogger, Twitterer, school councillor, cyclist, reader, writing workshopper… sigh. As someone wearing many hats, there’s a constant babble of demands, some more discretionary than others.

Ms Zorn reports on a SWF session entitled ‘Can Literature Survive the Digital Age?’, during which author Cate Kennedy re-spun the question as ‘Can writers survive the digital age despite all the tweeting distractions?’

It’s a valid question. I started blogging to promote my first book, then tweeting (initially) to plug my blog. Now Twitter helps me streamline my web-surfing. Rather than checking a long list of blogs and news sites, I can visit the big tree, see who is tweeting what, enter into the banter or move on. It’s a great way to ‘meet’ and interact with other authors, readers, reviewers and more.

So it can be a time-saver. But it can be a time-waster and, as it throbs with fresh tweets, a procrastinator’s worst enemy.

Ms Kennedy fleshes out her argument in Overland, suggesting that the constant distractions of social media such as Twitter and Facebook are an author’s enemy. She says the ideal mental state for writing involves welcoming emptiness and solitude and mastering your own restless boredom.

She’s right. It’s a constant battle for me. While it’s reassuring to know that other authors are struggling with edits, plot twists and finances (via Twitter, status updates and more,) my writing works best in silence.

I finished Game as Ned in a room above a friend’s garage without Internet, email or any distractions (apart from a table laden with Thomas the Tank Engine toys). Much of Five Parts Dead was written in another friend’s spare room, also disconnected from the wireless world.

I work better when I’ve had time to distance myself from the babble, savour the silence and let ideas grow. This is why I’m envious of the musician Bon Iver, who apparently went into the wilderness to heal himself and returned with an album that has won a cult following.

It’s also why my novels both germinated in periods of stillness and/or solitude – a summer landscaping at a Mt Macedon garden and a holiday at a remote lighthouse. Time slows down. The senses numbed by daily life are revitalised.

As I turn my mind back to Book 3, I’ll be seeking that silence once again.

Incidentally, Ms Zorn mentions catching a SWF session with author/cartoonist Josh Neufeld. Wish I’d got to that one. Mr Neufeld’s non-fiction comic A.D: New Orleans After the Deluge is a powerful, multimedia experience online. It hooked me, big-time and shows what a force cartooning can be.