Tag Archives: Text Publishing

On John Greens, Will Graysons and Dorothy Dixers

Speaking of publishing phenomenons, YA uber author John Green (@realjohngreen to his one million+ Twitter followers) has done a turn as Dorothy Dix in his latest vlog.

I’m embedding it here not just because the advice on campus culture and romance should be tattooed on all arms, but because John also speaks the truth on novel (re-)writing. I trust General John’s army of nerdfighters take heed of their fearless leader.

I’m a fan of John’s work and looking forward to reading his collaboration with another YA luminary, David Levithan. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is out now and both authors are on the publicity trail, judging by this report in the LA Times.

The new novel tells of two characters with the name Will Grayson – and reminds me of the time when I worked for another John Green, a sheep farmer with a property about an hour’s drive north of Melbourne.

I have many memories of working with Farmer John, who was a generous if eccentric and tough employer. One story involves his aversion to rocks. I assume every farmer aspires to improve their paddocks by digging out and disposing of the surface stone but Farmer John took it to extremes. On some of the days I worked for him our main task was to lift rocks onto the back of a flat bed truck, drive them to a cliff and throw them into the creek below. Then start again. The thing about digging up rocks is you tend to find … more rocks.

As we dumped each truckload, Farmer John’s catch-phrase used to be, “Don’t straighten your back, boy, there should be two rocks in the air at all times”.

During winter, when the paddocks got too wet for stone-hunting, Farmer John’s wife asked me to construct a rock garden around her beloved rose bushes. I spent a couple of days doing so before returning to university. When I ventured back to the farm the following week, the garden border had gone. The man with the rock allergy had dug up all the carefully placed stones and thrown them in the creek.

I offered to start again. His wife just rolled her eyes.

Snapshot from a novel #2

Extracts from the excellent The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills (Text Publishing 2009).

From a scene describing a funeral wake:

Dad’s not far away, leaning into the lounge room wall like it’s the only thing that will hold him up, his suit all corrugated with grief. (p5)

From a scene describing the bustle on the State Library steps:

It’s hot, hot on my face, on my chest, and the warmth feels good; it’s evaporating something that doesn’t belong. I find a spot on the steps out of the traffic but still in the sun. Below me, there are some emos huddled in as much shade as they can manage, a flock of them all in black like suicidal crows. (p29)

And sleep disruption:

Jigsaw night made up of pieces of sleep. The dawn of my first exam. (p199)

And here’s a quote Lia brought to our attention during her month at insideadog:

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” – Nietzsche

Turning the page on Book Week

Book Week has been and gone and authors everywhere are … self-medicating. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic fun and a real privilege to be spruiking the pleasures of reading and writing but hey, I’m not teacher-trained and soon learned I lack stamina. After four consecutive days of workshops, I was totally Jatz Crackered. I’ve got to say I have the utmost respect for educators who are committed, clever and energetic at what they do, day-in, day-out.

I also feel for those struggling with the enormity of their daily duties. Flicking back through the diary I’m reminded of one educator who looked to have lost control of their class. It reminded me of a scene I witnessed in India, a pack of vultures tearing apart an injured lamb. The daily stress for that teacher must be nigh-on unbearable.

The Melbourne Writers’ Festival has also wound up for 2009. I didn’t get to any sessions this year because I was workshopping in schools. I did score an invite to the launch party hosted by Text Publishing – because I’m teaming up with Text for my next novel! It was a top night, a good chance to meet the Text team and to introduce myself to some great wordsmiths. Hopefully I kept the faux pas to a minimum. Hopefully.

I was also chuffed to attend the YA Muster – a delicious dumpling dinner with some of Australia’s gun authors for young adults. It was reassuring to hear that we’re all on the same page, if you’ll pardon the pun, when it comes to issues such as book signing tables, school visits and juggling author time with other duties.

Other recent highlights included selecting prizewinners for writing workshop activities at Overnewton Anglican Community College (and seeing their eyes light up) and a reader-to-writer-to-journo-to-author talk to Year 10 at Aitken College, where they actually laughed at some of my gags.

This week I helped relaunch a library at Kilvington Girls’ Grammar, which was a first for me. On Friday, I’ll be be workshopping out west with young storytellers.

I’m also filling in again as Younger Readers’ book reviewer for the Sunday Age. And, in another first, some of the books on my desk are by authors I have met. Will that influence my reviews? I don’t think so. As I have written previously, 150 words doesn’t leave much room for bias.

On top of all this I have 10 days left to get in sufficiently good nick to survive a 120 km bike ride through the Kinglake hills, four weeks to help my wife set up her new business and four months to edit/redraft what will become my second novel. Not that I’m counting… or freaking out. Much.

For the record, I’m also jumping on the Bulldogs bandwagon for the footy finals. Personally, I reckon my team, the Kangas, should merge with the Dogs as they have similar histories, colours and cultures and traditionally struggle for cash. I say solve the money and membership issues and create a western suburbs superteam. Unlikely, I know. So, this September, go Scraggers!