The Tamar Valley Writers Festival

Anne Committee Member for the TVWF
02.08.15 6:23 am


Hi Everyone.

It was called Festival of Golden Words last year, and held in Beaconsfield during March.

Next year it will still be held in March, at Beaconsfield, but has been renamed The Tamar Valley Writers Festival.!about/c1et

The official launch will be happening in a few weeks, but the website and Facebook ...

... pages are now up and running, so please make a note of the dates, bookmark the website address, and feel free to share the FB page so as much advertising and support as possible is given to this event.

Content will be added regularly as planning progresses and more writers commit.

And for those who work in schools – the schools programme is hoped to be available in early September also. We already have some excellent writers confirmed as coming . . .

Committee Member for the TVWF

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Alfies Anxiety Abated by Acquarium

Paula Xiberras
01.08.15 6:38 am


Davina Bell has been to Tasmania once and ‘absolutely loved it’, at that time she drove on the east coast marvelling at the seaside coves which to her resembled exactly what a place at the furthest ends of the world would resemble.

I am chatting to Davina about her new book ‘The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade’, an illustrative and collaborative effort (with Allison Colpoys), which refreshingly pitches to children that it’s okay to be scared.

Davina’s protagonist Alfie whose name means ‘elf’ or ‘magic counsel’ is in fact of afraid of the very magical process of dressing up and performing in the school play. The play is based on the theme of the sea, the vastness of which, perfectly acts as a metaphor for the vastness of Alfie’s burden of being afraid.

Alfie is taken by his Mum to a more contained version of the sea in the form of an aquarium where he observes the clown fish pop out and look around and then go hide again. This experience allows him to realise it’s okay to be fearful. To her credit Davina doesn’t end the novel on Alfie being completely cured of his anxiety. Instead there is the possibility rather than the promise of Alfie taking part in next year’s school play.

The book also celebrates holding on to the openness of childhood and Davina quotes an artist who was asked when he would stop drawing and he answered , when will you start drawing?

The book has hit a nerve with anxious children, of whom Davina was once one herself. Davina tells me of how she was often anxious as a child when travelling on the bus to pull the cord or press the button for the next stop because she didn’t like the idea of people looking at her. This anxious action often saw her miss her bus stop!

Davina did some research on what triggers cause the most anxiety in children. From which she found that spiders are children’s worst fears!.

‘The Underwater Fancydress Parade’ is out now published by Scribe.

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From the Man Booker to the Oscars, Australian artists are turning culture upside down

Gillian Orr, The Independent. First pub: July 30
31.07.15 6:48 am

Richard Flanagan by Matt Newton,

If there was still a myth that antipodean artists lacked culture, then the latest Man Booker win for Richard Flanagan has put paid to that. And about time, too, says Gillian Orr

“What’s the difference between Australia and yoghurt?” goes a much-loved joke among Brits. “After 200 years, Australia still doesn’t have any culture.”

Zing! Of course, anyone who has actually been to the land of Oz would know that that’s not true. The daughter of an Australian, I lived there for a little while, and all anybody seemed to do was put on a comedy event/art show/dreaded poetry night. Yet while Australians are celebrated for their sporting achievements, they fail to be taken seriously culturally on the world stage. But is that finally changing?

Lovers of xenophobic gags were certainly dealt a blow this week when Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, the third Aussie to do so. He insisted that it was a “golden time for Australian writing”. But even he is the first to admit that it has not always been this way. Appearing on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the morning after his win, the 53-year-old agreed that Australian culture has been lacking in the past. “Peter Carey is the greatest Australian writer,” said Flanagan. “He, like me, grew up in a country that was a colony of the mind, where we didn’t have our own culture. Australian publishing really is only about 40 years old. Australian film, Australian television, Australian music, all these things are younger than I am.”

Sure enough, a documentary shown on BBC4 this summer looked at influential Australians in the 1960s who felt that they had to head for London to progress in their chosen fields. Brilliant Creatures: Rebels of Oz profiled four key arrivals – Clive James, Germaine Greer, Barry Humphries and Robert Hughes – and their search for British “sophistication”. They came to “beat us at our own game”, as the show’s presenter Howard Jacobson (who missed out to Flanagan in this year’s Booker race) put it.

But, today, while it might be true that plenty of Australians still come over in a bid for success and fame, the view of Australia being a cultural backwater is simply out of date.

“The Australian literary scene has always had an incredible richness – though I do think that there has been increasing international attention in recent years,” says Jemma Birrell, the artistic director of Sydney Writers’ Festival. “Prizes shed light on particular writers and consequently Australian writing more generally. Then there are writers such as David Malouf, Tim Winton, Alexis Wright, Helen Garner, Michelle de Kretser and Steve Toltz who have gained a wide readership throughout the world. But, generally, I do think that there is a long way to go in terms of recognition.”

Read more here

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Fearless Fantasy Fiction

Paula Xiberras
31.07.15 6:44 am


The name ‘Curley’ means ‘strong man’ but in this case the name refers to a strong woman and to borrow the title of her most recent novel a ‘fearless’ one at that.

Marianne Curley has never been to Tasmania but her family has and Marianne would love to.

We are having a chat about Marianne’s new novel ‘Fearless’. The third in the Avena series detailing the romance between angels Nathaneal and Ebony.

Marianne says the inspiration behind the books was to bring to the supernatural genre a different kind of angelic experience. Marianne was alarmed at all the dark supernatural stories with attacking angels and wanted something more positive that portrayed ‘angels as beautiful beings’.

How does Marianne explain the popularity of the supernatural genre? Marianne believes that young people sometimes feel they are on the outer and just want to be accepted. Nowadays there are further problems for young people, like bullying to deal with. Paranormal fiction richly populated with an array of fantastic creatures that show individuality, uniqueness and difference are acceptable and can be celebrated, as often these characters have amazing super powers. It is these fantastical, superhero features that allows Marianne to give readers some escapism without limits, even worldly ones! And a romance involving a strong heroine.

Marianne is well known for her very visual writing and who can argue when reading her imaginative description of a gate in the sky composed of a human body, or so accurately describes the doubling over pain that an angel goes through as her wings come in. Marianne is an avid science reader and subscriber to scientific journals and says that the descriptions in her books are always scientifically based. Marianne’s writing about angels, too, is informed by their biblical realisation.

Marianne says she can be inspired in her writing at any time, even while brushing her teeth! She keeps pen and notepads near her bed as she is known to wake her husband from slumber, sometimes by both literally and metaphorically, having a light bulb moment at 2 am!

As to her heroines pain on getting those angel wings, she says from her own experience of experiencing treatment for a medical condition that sometimes we need to know pain to be able to appreciate the good things.

When she was in her previous life as an adult TAFE teacher Marianne started thinking if she could be a success at writing and realised after doing some creative writing courses that she could actually write!
Next for Marianne are two contemporary stand-alone young adult novels and then she says she will be back to the paranormal genre that she loves

The ability of Marianne’s fantasy novels to reach reader’s reality is indicated by an Instagram name and a pet dog that assume the name Arkarian, one of her most popular characters (from the Guardian’s of Time series).

Fearless is out now published by Bloomsbury.

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Sun Shines Through

Paula Xiberras
30.07.15 6:15 am


Mary Oxley Griffiths says she loves Tasmania, calling it ‘a nice little place’ and specifically singling out cottages. Mary is the wife of Jeremey Oxley the SunnyBoys’ musician.

I’m talking to this dynamic partnership about their aptly titled dual biography ‘Here Comes the Sun’, aptly named not just because it is a reference to the SunnyBoys band but because its title heralds a metaphorical ‘sun’ that has arrived since the Mary and Jeremy met up and influenced each other’s lives.

But back to the beginning, when Jeremy was growing up as a sensational surfer who loved music and went on to form bands, culminating in the SunnyBoys before he encountered the condition of schizophrenia which saw him disappear from public life until he was thrown a rainbow in the form of nurse and extraordinary individual Mary.

Their coming together is made of fairytale stuff as Mary’s boys located Jeremy on the internet one evening remembering their mum had been a fan of the Sunnyboys, when she had watched them on Countdown when she was a teenager.

Between her teenage years and the present day Mary had become a nurse, married and had twin boys and lost a beloved husband to illness. Her twin boys were the catalyst of Mary meeting Jeremy. After locating Jeremy on the Internet Mary and the boys decided to go see Jeremy and from that point on a new world opened up for them all.  Immediately clicking and connecting, Jeremy, Mary and the boys began building a life together as a family and saw the re-formation of the SunnyBoys in the late 80s and early 90s, this wonderful life story was picked up and made into a documentary by Kaye Harrison called ‘SunnyBoy’.

Something that Jeremy and Mary had in common was a love of art and both initially were art students which possibly attests to their sensitive and creative natures and as Mary says they give themselves permission to display these sensitive emotions even if they are unashamedly’ lovely dovey.’

Mary represents a pharmaceutical company and travels around the country speaking on mental health reform. Mary has done many of these talks in Victoria but would love to do some talks in Tasmania.

The name Oxley means ‘a clearing in a wood’ or ‘an enclosure’ and aptly, after years of being enclosed and away from his music, Jeremy and Mary have supported each other to find a path or a clearing through that wood!

‘Here Comes the Sun’ is out now published by Allen and Unwin.

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Gracie-ful Anne’s Novel Nuptials

Paula Xiberras
29.07.15 6:31 am


I recently spoke to Anne Gracie, writer of Regency romances about the latest novel in her ‘bride’ series ‘The Spring Bride’. Tasmania has a special place in Annie’s heart as it was in Tasmania, she had her first experience of independent travel. Nowadays Anne gets down to Tassie at least one a year.

Anne growing up as she did in a house of books found it difficult to believe there could be an existence without books!

It was while Anne was again travelling, in her 30s, that she started writing free hand stories in notebooks, these spanned a number of genres including children’s stories, short stories and novels.

Anne says that her dialogue comes to mind while she is doing housework or shopping and in one particular case while she was on the highway and she had to pull up to record her thoughts. Anne says in cases like this dialogue has to be written down in automatic pilot!

Anne keeps a notebook by her bed as scenes sometimes come to her in dreams! Anne’s notebook is filled with scribbles which later will be typed and edited.

Each of Anne’s novels in the bride series concentrates on one bride. Anne’s latest book ‘The Spring Bride’ has the character of Abby as the main protagonist and also includes guest appearances of ‘brides’ from the previous novels in the series.

Anne says that the romance writers in Australia are very supportive and consult each other on plot advice but as Anne says all the authors have a particular style of their own and so there is no concern that another author might borrow another’s ideas. So distinct are the authors’ individual styles that they are referred to in the individual author’s name such in Anne’s case ‘Anne Gracie novels’. Anne’s novels are set in the English Regency period from 1811 to 1820 and inevitably having happy endings.

Spring Bride is out now published by Penguin Australia.

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Hobart Bookshop: Talk Under Water

Hobart Bookshop
28.07.15 2:48 pm


We are excited to host the launch, by Anne Morgan, of Kathryn Lomer’s latest novel, Talk Under Water.

Please join us and help us celebrate!

Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship based on coincidence. Summer lives in Will’s old hometown, Kettering, a small Tasmanian coastal community. Both Will and Summer are missing a parent and needing a friend.

Summer isn’t telling the whole truth about herself, but figures it doesn’t matter if they never see each other in person, right? When Will returns to Kettering, the two finally meet and Summer can no longer hide her secret. Can Summer and Will still find a way to be friends?

Set against a picturesque Tasmanian backdrop, Talk Under Water is about following your dreams, finding true friends and stepping up to meet life’s challenges.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop
When: 5.30pm, Thursday 13th August

Free event, all welcome.

The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Sons and Moon Shine on Mountain

Paula Xiberras
28.07.15 6:12 am


Brian Panowich is the author of ‘Bull Mountain’, and with the name Brian of Celtic origin meaning ‘high’ or ‘noble’ it seems fitting that his first novel is about the politics of power with a pinch of family feuding befitting even the Celtic High Kings. As I talk to Brian from his home town of Georgia I am greeted by a generous individual, full of humour and humility and one that can’t quite believe his success as an author.

So down to earth is Brian, he still works his job as a fireman and makes use of his time in between shifts for writing.

Brian tells me he knows nothing about Australia but would love to visit and he is well used to travelling, when he left school he formed a band and music played a significant part in his life until he married and realised he didn’t want to be on the road anymore. Brian followed this career with a stint in journalism. He had always wanted to be a storyteller and so after what he calls a 20 year detour he arrived at Bull Mountain where he wrote the family drama, an epic story of what he describes as ‘Kane and Abel proportions’. The area detailed in the novel is not where he grew up but is in fact an area where his wife has roots and the people of the foothills of these mountains are her ‘own people’.

In an early part of the book we hear the protagonists talking about a bear they captured and how they let no part of it go to waste. This resourcefulness is echoed throughout the novel.

Like all authors Brian believes in Morris Gleitzman’s ‘magic spaces’ where author and reader meet. The reader bringing their own rich life experiences to their understanding of the story. Brian says sometimes his readers surprise him with their insights, for example one reader asked if his calling a character ‘Ryley’ was a nod to the ‘rye’ whiskey that features in the book. Brian thinks it’s fantastic that readers can connect in this way, calling it ‘awesome’.

I offer one of my own insights, enquiring whether the novel is called Bull Mountain in reference to the unshakeable nature of the main protagonists. Brian tells me the novels name came about when he travelled through some mountainous terrain and saw a sign with the name ‘Bull Mountain’ on the trail.

One of the features of the novel is the strong female characters including the capable Kate who Brian tells me will headline her own spin off novel.

The mountain machinations come full circle by the conclusion of the novel but on the way there are many twists and turns, more than on a twisty, turning mountain road. While the novel begins with a life lost, the ending sees a life regained and a determination to maintain the family presence on the mountain.

Bull Mountain is out now published by Harper Collins

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Posie, Physics, Fairies and Folklore

Paula Xiberras. First published July 18
27.07.15 6:06 pm


I recently had the opportunity to talk to Posie Graeme-Evans about her new book ‘Wild Wood’ and her continuing career in TV production.

Posie is based in Tasmania these days, but even before she settled here Posie had a long standing connection to the state with her dad living in Launceston and meeting Posie’s mum in England when he was a fighter pilot in the war flying spitfires. In the 60’s the family returned to Tasmania for a third time.

Posie is a very visual person and has been involved in creating TV shows like McLeod’s Daughters. In the program, which was made in South Australia Posie explored the myth of the country landscape. Posie says Tasmania, with its landscape and light, lends itself to comparisons with Scotland.

No longer is there is any tyranny of distance in working from Australia or for that matter Tasmania. Posie believes if you are adapt with technology, which she is, you can work from anywhere and in demonstrating this Posie is returning to her other career as a TV creator and is working on a New Zealand TV series, a co-production with the Huon Valley, all from her home in Tasmania! Including participating in development and creative meetings without leaving her home. Posie is positive and delighted with Tasmania’s artistic agility such as Screen Tasmania’s success with the ‘Kettering Incident’ and the spill over effect for Tassie from MONA.

Posie’s second book about Scotland (the first was ‘The Island House’), ‘Wild Wood’ explores a legend of a different family of McLeod’s.

The novel deals with amnesia, reincarnation, family drama, fairy tale and folklore with ‘a liberal sprinkling of quantum physics! Posie sets the action of her novel around a modern day fairy tale, Britain during the lead up to the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana. Into this exuberant, celebratory London comes our protagonist, a young Australian girl looking for her birth mother. History interweaves with the supernatural to tell a parallel story of a fairy queen and her marriage to a nobleman.

The two worlds converge when our protagonist falls in the street while navigating her way through the throngs gathering in London for the royal wedding. A case of amnesia leaves her with incredible abilities of astounding artistic skills in her sketches of ancient castles.

Posie has employed her considerable research skills in investigating the clan McLeod’s legend of the ‘fairy flag’ and ‘fairy woman’. The story tells of a chief who fell in love with a fairy woman all the while knowing that love could not prevail between a human and immortal, however, they marry if only for a little while, long enough to have a son. The time comes for the fairy lady to return to her family however, she does so on the proviso her son is never allowed to cry. It happens that at a grand occasion the child does cry and his mother from her fairy home rushes back to comfort her child enfolding him in a fairy flag. The clan McLeod believe the special fabric to be protective and it exists today in a castle on the island of Skye.

Posie’s new novel is intriguing and thoughtful, a mixture of modern and ancient history, of legend and fairy tale and most of all the story of a young woman who finds that both the ancient and modern past impact on her present and future.

Wild Wood is out now published by Simon and Schuster.

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Ralf, to the’ Manner’ Born!

Paula Xiberras
27.07.15 12:22 am


Anne Crawford the author of ‘Ralf’ has spent a fair bit of time in Tasmania. She admits she hasn’t been everywhere in the state but lists the south west as a place she has visited a few times and loves it, favourite experiences include Wine Glass Bay , MONA (which she has been to twice with girlfriends) and camping with friends in Tasmania.
Oh and Anne is also a landowner in Flinders Island and considers it ‘one of the most beautiful places on earth’.

Anne tells me that when Ralf, himself a Tassie born, therapy dog was working at Trinity Manor residential home she remembers one couple, who perhaps had difficulties with memory, did hold one memory firm and that was that Ralf visited every Wednesday morning.

Ralf has the incredible ability to switch into working mode when required and his love and affection for children is well known and was one of the things I discussed with his owner Caroline. Anne who has written books on the relationship between animals and humans tells me that the relationship between people and animals including horses, who people with anger issues have been responsive to.

Anne says that Caroline, Ralf’s owner doesn’t view Ralf and his daughter Ivy as like her children but instead calls them her ‘besties’.

Anne says that Ralf is cheerful, smart and not easily overly excited, good attributes for a therapy dog. You can read more about Ralf and how he was trained to be a therapy dog in my chat with his owner Caroline

An example of Ralf’s therapeutic ability is how he helped Zeke Harrison, a patient at the Royal Children’s Hospital. The photo of Zeke walking around the children’s hospital halls with Ralf made international news.

‘Ralf’ published by Allen and Unwin is out now.

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Sweet Caroline and Counciller!

Paula Xiberras
26.07.15 10:05 am


I recently spoke to the lovely Caroline Lovick, owner of Ralf the dog. Caroline is a woman, with a hearty laugh, emphasis on the ‘hearty’ because Caroline is all heart in the work she does as a volunteer with the aptly named Ralf. Ralf means ‘Wolf Counsel’ and Ralf is as large and commanding as a wolf that in his role of therapy dog, provides counsel to all.

I feel as if I am in the presence of greatness, as Caroline tells me that Ralf the giant schnauzer, famed Royal Children’s Hospital therapy dog is in the room with her. Caroline his owner and loyal companion in Ralf’s therapy visits tells me she hasn’t been to Tasmania as yet but her children have enjoyed kayaking here and tell her the sushi was ‘the best ever’.

Caroline informs me that Ralf has appeared on the past Friday’s episode of ‘Homes and Gardens’ and that he announced his soon to be retirement which Caroline suggests might indicate a tree change for the family to a country environment. It won’t be easy for Ralf to retire but Caroline believes he has earned it and Caroline assures me her work as a volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital will continue.

Right from his birth in Tasmania, Ralf was different to the other dogs in his litter, he was subdued, quiet, thoughtful and calm, as much as his brothers and sisters were loud and playful. It seemed as if Ralf was born for the discipline required for the role he would later assume.

Before he worked at the children’s hospital Ralf worked at Trinity Manor, a residential home. In those early days Ralf already showed the features that would single him out as a therapy dog. Ralf would know when to drop his head and lower himself to the floor to engage with someone in a wheelchair.

Ralf was so good at his work at Trinity Manor in his engagement with the residents it was almost a foregone conclusion Ralf would make a career of being a therapy dog. Caroline had noticed how attentive Ralf was when he accompanied her with the children to school and how he would lay down at the school gate and would wait until all the children were in school before wanting to head home. Naturally his work as a therapy dog would see him train to work with children.

It was a strict process that was required to equip Ralf with the skills necessary to take the new position. Dogs doing the course had to acquire the ability to navigate themselves around obstacles without touching or disturbing them because if they were to work with children in hospitals they would encounter wheelchairs and other medical equipment and aids. The dogs also had to stay unaffected and calm when there was a lot of background noise such as in a hospital. Ralph passed all these tests and more with flying colours.

So began Ralf’s work at the Royal Children’s Hospital where he again demonstrated his uncanny ability of connecting with children and the cover of the book which displays the famous photo of Ralf and Royal Children’s Hospital patient young Zeke Harrison enjoying a moment of closeness as Zeke walks around the hospital corridors with Ralf, that flashed across the world making the giant schnauzer an international celebrity.

The Lovick family’s profits from the book go to:

The Royal Children’s Hospital


The Lort Smith Animal Hospital

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Alissa’s Australian/American Affair of the ‘Art’

Paula Xiberras
25.07.15 5:24 am


Alissa Callen author of ‘Heart of the Country’ and ‘Down Outback Roads’ loves Tasmania and has visited twice. Once was on a family holiday when she and her family visited the national parks, admired rainforests and our beautiful buildings. One pleasing thing about Tasmania, Alissa says, is the short distances to travel from place to place and quite a climate change from the hot dry environment of her home in Dubbo.

When we chat I ask Alissa why she thinks the rural romance genre is such a burgeoning success. Alissa tells me one theory is that the global financial turmoil gave rise to people not wanting to read the regular chic lit, with characters living the high life, instead they craved real characters, strong earthy heros and heroines facing realistic situations. Alissa reminds me that the rural romance genre itself has its own diversity including sub categories such as rural medical romance and rural historical romance.

Time spent attending school in America informed Alissa’s writing and in her most recent novel ‘Down Outback Roads’ her heroine has the unique name Kree, a native American name. Kree was the name of a girl Alissa attended school with and was brought into her thoughts again when she viewed an episode of American idol and saw a girl called Kree as a contestant.

I mention to Alissa, author Morris Gleitzman’s idea of ‘the magic spaces’ that is, the place where author and reader meet and the reader brings their own interpretation to a work, coloured by their life experiences, Alissa tells me she has written levels of meaning into her novel for readers to decipher in these magic spaces. Alissa employs what she has learned from her sons work in audiology as one of these clues for readers to pick up on. Not only is a young child in the novel having hearing problems of a physical nature but the male hero Ewen has been badly damaged by a tragic accident that he blames himself for. Kree who has also suffered her own tragedies, tries to make Ewen ‘hear’ in a metaphorical sense that the accident was not his fault and he needs to move on with his life.

Alissa draws on real life again by making Kree a wonderful artist and painter of murals, which is a direct link to being impacted by the amazing murals of Sheffield in Tasmania. Additionally Alissa’s daughter is also a talented art student.

Further connections with Tasmania include catching up with what’s happening with Tassie local rural romance author Rachel Treasure when she is in Alissa’s part of the world.

Alissa has been able, in her own words, to cross pollinate her novels from her experiences in the US and international experiences closer to home like the stories of back packers visiting rural towns like her own such as the Irish girl who married a local farmer.  Alissa Cullen demonstrated that while small town life might seem insular and small it encompasses a much wider world view.

‘Down outback roads’ is out now published by Random House.

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Heather ‘Rose’ to creative collaboration about Tuesday

Paula Xiberras
24.07.15 5:47 am


I recently had the pleasure of chatting to one half of the delightful Angelica Banks writing partnership made up of Heather Rose and Danielle Wood. In this instance that half was Heather Rose …

Heather tells me that how she and Danielle got together to become Anjelica Banks is a bit of serendipity in itself.

Danielle called Heather to come see her (the ladies live near to each other) as she had an idea for a children’s story.

As soon as Heather arrived at Danielle’s place and was told about Danielle’s idea of the character of Tuesday McGillicuddy, an aspiring author and adventurer, Heather realised she already ‘knew’ Tuesday. In addition to the symbiotic relationship between Danielle and Heather in their writing about Tuesday is that they also share a closeness in their birthdays. It seems literary destiny that these ladies would collaborate.

On the craft of writing Heather tells me she finds the process of saying goodbye to a character once a book is finished a difficult process, but has a system for handling the situation. Heather will pack away the photos and other paraphernalia relating to the character and write the character a letter to say goodbye. This, however, doesn’t stop Heather from occasionally sensing their presence in her kitchen and asking them if they want a cup of tea!

Heather has a history of creating solid characters that are hard to say goodbye to and not just for her; it can be a definite weaning process from her readers evidenced by people coming up to her in the street and asking in particular about a much loved character called Charlie from her book ‘The Butterfly Man’. Heather tells me they will often enquire from her how Charlie is doing as if he were a member of Heather’s family …

This kind of confirmation of clever creativity is what Heather wants to encourage in children and says she doesn’t agree with supposed pleas of boredom by children, an offshoot of our technological age where Heather says, children become impatient with anything that does not give immediate results.

Heather wants to encourage children to create their own play.  Unfortunately, it is often we adults who admonish children who are exceptionally creative, thoughtful or reflective, saying they ‘are off with the fairies’ giving such creativity a negative connotation.

This new adventure of Tuesday’s gives us a glimpse of a girl with a genius grasp of imagination. Readers familiar with Tuesday from the first book, will see Tuesday cope with the sudden sickness of her father and having the weight of the world’s worries on her shoulders as well as she and her famous Mum contemplating a world without writing.

‘A Week Without Tuesday’ by Heather Rose and Danielle Wood is out now published by Allen and Unwin.

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Fullers Bookshop, 5.30pm, Sept 24: Only The Empty Sky

Russell Kelly. Image: Tim Squires,
22.07.15 5:06 am



A new novel by


Fullers Bookshop, 131 Collins Street, Hobart,
on Thursday, September 24 at 5.30pm.

Precis for Only The Empty Sky ...

1918: Lord Howe Island, off Australia’s eastern coast. An ­American, Paul De Martinet, arrives to paint the sub-tropical outpost’s ­vanishing birds. Home to an insular community, jealousy and suspicion lurk not far below the surface of what appears to be an otherwise carefree community. On expeditions into the island’s mysterious and beautiful kentia palm forests he is accompanied by Margaret Sleap, a gifted local gardener. Re-animating vanished birds in paint, they find each specimen resonates with its own deeper story of loss and belonging. Together they map out the aching territory of love until one day, as tensions surface, they are the victims of a savage attack that sets in motion their own choices of survival.

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Kate Harrison, Festival Marketing
21.07.15 5:53 pm


Women of Letters, Now Hear This,

Cate Kennedy and Kathryn Lomer at the 2015 Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival.

Tickets on sale: Monday 27 July 2015

Please note: The last Press Release stated that Helen Garner was to be a headliner for the festival. Unfortunately Helen will no longer be able to attend due to ill health.

Bookings for Don Watson and Bob Brown are rolling in and we are now ready to announce even more engaging sessions for the festival in September.

Short story expert, poet and all around prolific writer, Cate Kennedy and Tasmanian YA novelist, poet and short story writer, Kathryn Lomer will be discussing ‘The Story Behind the Story’ at Fullers Bookshop from 7.30pm on Thursday 10 September. This session will give the audience the ins and outs on what it takes to complete a book – from touring and travelling to reading and inspiration.

Cate will also be hosting a full-day masterclass on Friday 11 September, to be announced shortly.

Saturday night’s Now Hear This session will offer audiences a chance to revel in stories close to home. Radio National’s Melanie Tait will be hosting the night in front of a live audience. Stories can be funny, moving or silly, and must be told in a few spellbinding minutes. The Tasmanian theme is ‘The First Time’ and the listener’s imaginations will run wild trying to work out which stories are true and which are imagined.

Now Hear This:

On Sunday afternoon, the festival will play host to the internationally renowned Women of Letters. Co-curated by celebrated writer Marieke Hardy and newly appointed Festival Director of the Emerging Writers Festival, Michaela McGuire. Tasmanian women have been asked to celebrate a love for letter writing as they respond to the theme of ‘Trading Places. Letter writers confirmed so far are: Cassy O’Connor, Pip Stafford, Kirsha Kaechele, Heather Rose and Claire Sullivan.

Women of Letters:

These sessions are expecting to sell out so audiences are encouraged to book early.

Tickets will be on sale from from 27 July 2015. 

Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival
11 - 13 September 2015
Hadley’s Orient Hotel, 34 Murray St, Hobart

TWRF Social Media:
Twitter: @TasWritersFest
Facebook: /taswritersfest
Instagram: @TasWriters
Hashtag: #TWRF2015

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Keen to hear some left-of-centre new voices and the emerging writing talent of Hobart?

Amber Wilson, Tasmanian Writers’ Centre Communications Officer
20.07.15 1:47 pm


Free event. All welcome.

Keen to hear some left-of-centre new voices and the emerging writing talent of Hobart?

Join the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre and the University of Tasmania for a night of weird and wonderful prose from the writing students of Tasmania’s own Danielle Wood.

It’s bound to be an interesting night. You’ll hear about a toothbrush tree, a teenage girl trying to run her way out of Huonville, an abandoned cat, a mysterious death in Paradise Cove, a pair of West Coast kids stalking a local legend, and a French hitchhiker on the East Coast.

A nip of whisky and some good old-fashioned storytelling on a cold winter night is sure to warm those cockles…

The Line-Up

Josh Beechey

Travis Deverell

Shaun Eastwood

Amy Fiddaman

Holly Flude

Alexander Hoysted

Adrien Le Louarn

Marion Thomas

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New ‘Handbook’ provides a practical guide to surviving and living with climate change

Scott Eathorne Quikmark Media
20.07.15 12:33 pm

New ‘Handbook’ provides a practical guide to surviving and living with climate change, foreword by Clive Hamilton

Climate change has arrived, and it’s not going away. In the absence of effective world action, global warming is certain to continue. The Handbook (Transit Lounge, September 2015 $29.95) is not another book about climate change science or politics. Rather it is an intelligent guide, and a potential ground breaker, for all of us who feel helpless in the face of government disagreement, and want to know in a practical way what we can do now.

Not only will The Handbook help you prepare for increased droughts, floods, fires and heatwaves, it will provide you with stories and advice from individuals who are already quietly doing amazing things. Jane Rawson and James Whitmore, previously Environment editors for The Conversation, look at how to establish your risk and face your fears; where to live and with whom; and how to survive heat, fire and flood. They investigate ways to provide your own food, power and water, make sure you can still get around, and get rid of your waste and sewage. They talk about new ways to think about home and possessions, the sadness of living through climate change, and how, for both individual and common good, we might positively change the way we live.

The Handbook is both practical and philosophical. It can be read cover-to-cover, or dipped into when you need specific advice. It can help you plan and execute a strategy to deal with the effects of climate change. It might change your life. But it should also make you ask, does it really have to be this way?

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Hobart Bookshop: Peter Boyce launches Recollections of an Indian Official 1928-1949

Hobart Bookshop
18.07.15 2:05 pm

We are delighted to host the launch, by Peter Boyce, of Roger Bell’s Recollections of an Indian Official 1928-1949

Roger Bell was a civil servant in British India during the most tumultuous period in its history, and was directly involved in not only the fascinating workings of the administration, but also its eventual transfer of power upon Indian Independence in 1947. Bell’s handwritten memoirs lay forgotten for decades in a trunk in his family home in Tasmania until rediscovered by his daughter, Alexandra. They have finally been published 56 years after his death and they provide a fascinating insight into this pivotal period of India’s history. Anybody with an interest in this time, the history of the British Empire, or simply good old-fashioned adventure, will certainly enjoy reading this engaging first-hand account.

5.30 pm Thursday July 30th , free event all welcome

The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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June’s Family Photos Inspire Spiritual Stories

Paula Xiberras
17.07.15 6:58 am


June Duffy tells me she is very excited about the two Australian candidates for the Dublin writing prize the Tasmanian Richard Flanagan and the Australian Hannah Kent. Although she hasn’t been to Australia or Tasmania yet June and her husband travel widely, last year they visited China and this year they will visit Japan and South Korea. June hopes to visit Australia one day soon, because she has discovered that a relative had immigrated here.

June was a Manchester native and has worked as a teacher both in England and Ireland. After meeting her husband she moved with him to Ballyhaunis in Mayo Ireland. Moving from a city to a rural environment she says was easier than if she had done the other way around and moved from the country to the city and has happily lived in rural Ireland for 17 years. It is rural Ireland that is the setting for her two books that hope among other things to educate children on the Irish way of life.

The name June means young and recently June suitably started writing children’s books, a consequence of her relief teaching when she would make up stories for the students which would filter through to the parents, who would encourage her to write the stories down. June’s stories which are aimed at 4 to 8 year olds are unique in a couple of ways, one is that they are written in the form of rhyme which allows them to more readily imprint themselves in children’s minds. June’s stories are also unique in that they have a spiritual theme.

In the first book ‘I Saw Grandad’ a young boy called Sean returns home to tell his mother he has been speaking to his late grandad. Sean’s mum and sisters are not impressed but when they notice dad outside talking to a man time seems to stand still as if suspended between the two worlds, physical and spiritual. The supernatural stillness passes and things return to normal as mum calls the family to dinner.

In the second book ‘You know Who’ Sean is more cautious in sharing his observations. The book recounts Sean’s play with an unnamed red haired boy. In the first story Sean’s dad seemed to have a spiritual openness in being seen speaking to grandad and it is dad who engages Sean in conversation regarding his mysterious playmate known as ‘You Know Who’.

Dad tells Sean through an explanation of the photos on the wall about a child born before him called Seamus that became ill and was taken from the family too early.

The pictures accompanying the text are both beautifully realised and heartbreaking ... a door open featuring a suitcase with Seamus’s name written on it, a teddy bear and a path leading from the door into the distance. June who is a very spiritual person believes writing about spiritual issues resonates and helps those who have experienced situations of loss in their own lives.

June says when she is invited into schools to talk about her books the imagination of the children takes over as they interpret the stories in a totally different way to her own but she welcomes their imaginative storytelling and how the excellent illustrations encourage their creativity.

June tells me there has been a buzz in reaction to the books which is understandable considering their uniqueness, both in telling their story in rhyme and in touching on the spiritual dimensions in life.

June’s book ‘I’ve Seen Grandad’ is available on Amazon at

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Live Peace - Joy Balazo and Young Ambassadors for Peace

Paul Arnott Acorn Press
17.07.15 6:38 am

Download to read all about it ...



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Seven Young Writers to Take Over Hobart

Amber Wilson, Tasmanian Writers’ Centre Communications Officer
14.07.15 5:41 pm

Claire Jansen

Seven young writers aged under 30 will soon take to Hobart’s streets, using the nooks and crannies of their city to spark inspiration for what are sure to be some fabulous literary accomplishments.

The inaugural Young Writers in the City program, run in partnership between the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre and the City of Hobart, will see these seven young people exploring a range of spaces, setting up their chairs, laptops and notepads in the midst of shoppers and surrounds. Between now and August 15, these talented aspiring writers will look at their familiar surrounds in a new way to compose an essay between 1500 to 5000 words. Their pieces will be written in an observational or experimental style inspired by the space they choose.

The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre chose the successful applicants from a very strong field of young writers working in vastly different styles. TWC Director Chris Gallagher said she was pleased to see such a strong and passionate pool of talent among young Hobart writers.

“It was fantastic to see such interesting approaches – from our Aquatic Centre resident who described the fascinating world of underwater hockey, to another writer who was fascinated by the many and varied sounds that make up Hobart’s market and cultural spaces ,” she said.

“Based on the applications, we’re certainly in for a treat with the essays these writers will produce.”

Quotes from the writers’ work will be displayed on the “Soapbox” billboards in Mathers Place during and after the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival in September.

The essays will also be available online and through social media, and each of the writers will be asked to read their work during September’s festival.

Follow these young writers on their journeys through the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre new website or via the Hobart Young Writers in the City Facebook page:
Young Writers in the City 2015

Hannah Grey: Hadley’s Orient Hotel
Michael Blake: Aquatic Centre
Claire Jansen: Mathers House
Cassandra Wunsch: Elizabeth Street Mall
Ben Armstrong: Elizabeth Street Mall
Hannah Warwarek: Hadley’s Orient Hotel
Britta Jorgensen: Venue TBC

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Helene’s Heated Romance

Paula Xiberras
09.07.15 7:21 am


The name Helen means ‘bright shining light’ and Helene Young’s bright shining light is flying high both literally and metaphorically.

In her day job Helene is a pilot but during her off time she writes. She finds the two careers complement each other while being very different. In her role as a pilot Helen says she needs to adhere to a strict checklist but when she comes down to earth she can switch off and fly in a different sense in her writing, as Helene says ‘if you can dream it you can write it. There are no boundaries.’

Helene’s novels and her latest, ‘Northern Heat’ are not your conventional romance.  In fact they are properly known as ‘romantic suspense’, or as she calls them ‘two for the price of one.’  At the moment there are a few exponents of the genre, one being Bronwyn Parry.  Often the suspenseful matter will be topical. The key element of these books is that neither element, the romance and the suspense works alone that they complement each other, just as Helene’s dual careers do.

In the case of ‘Northern Heat’ the topical suspense is created by the subject of domestic violence. Helene intelligently weaves the situation of domestic violence in a storyline we often don’t associate with such violence that is a very affluent household.

In a separate situation of such violence is a central character named Freya who will says Helene, appear in another novel which will explore her life after her experiences in this book.

Helene tells me her books resonate with male readers as well as female because they have strong storylines quite apart from romance.  Helene also has a strong desire to appeal to female readers by giving her female characters non-specific careers, this is in the hope her female readers, especially the younger ones, will see that many of these careers are open to them and to chase their dreams. In her latest novel her protagonist Kristy is a doctor with the surname ‘Dark’ Helene has subconsciously created a character that is in a dark place but by making her character a doctor and in that respect a healer she is a mender of broken lives including her own.

Kristy gets caught up in some investigative work while she is struggling with the tragedy in her own life and meets Conor, a man that is also coming to terms with his own tragic past.

‘Northern Heat’ by Helene Young is out now published by Penguin Books.

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Kate Harrison, Festival Marketing, Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival
07.07.15 1:58 pm


Australia’s top writers converge on Hobart for a three-day festival at Hadley’s Orient Hotel

Tickets on sale for Don Watson, Helen Garner and Bob Brown
from 13 July 2015.

Theme: Truth and Imagination

In September 2015, the newly refurbished Hadley’s Orient Hotel will play host to some of Australia’s greatest poets, novelists, historians, thinkers, educators and cartoonists at the third biennial Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival.

Over the course of three days, the nooks and crannies of this historic building will be filled with stirring interviews, poetry performances, writing workshops, book launches, and a heated discussion or two during a night of Tasmanian whisky tasting.

In every corner of the hotel, vivid stories will unfold, new worlds will be brought to life, and the people behind the great works will share their experiences, secrets, and stories…both true and imagined.

The festival opens on Friday 11 September with a day of workshops before swinging straight into a program full of entertainment.  One of Australia’s finest writers, Don Watson will shares his meanderings and thoughts on the Australian landscape and character with Tasmanian author, Heather Rose.

On Saturday 12 September, one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers, Helen Garner, will lead the audience through the ups and down of her life and artistic work. She will be joined by award winning poet, Sarah Day who will invite the audience to ask those questions they have always wanted to ask of this great Australian artist.

The Festival will come to a close late on Sunday afternoon with Tasmania’s own Bob Brown delivering the closing address. Founder of the Australian Green movement, Bob is a champion of conservation, individual liberty, and human compassion. He is able to inspire people from all walks of life into positive action. In these times of rapid change and trenchant opposition to reason, Bob’s message of optimism is more relevant now than ever before.

Don Watson, Helen Garner, and Bob Brown are three of the many celebrated writers and thinkers joining us in September, and tickets for their sessions go on sale Tuesday 13 July. These sessions will sell-out quick so audiences are encouraged to book early.

Tickets will be on sale from from 13 July 2015. 

11 - 13 September 2015

Hadley’s Orient Hotel, 34 Murray St, Hobart

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What Days are For ...

Paula Xiberras
07.07.15 7:16 am


Robert Dessaix is a true gentleman. As soon as I call him he says he was expecting me and that I was the highlight of his day!  I guess it was a quiet day for Robert as I’d hardly call myself a highlight, however I do my best to not disappoint this celebrated author too much.

The name Robert means ‘bright fame’ and Robert definitely has a bright, enquiring mind evident in his new memoir ‘What Days Are For.’

Robert has made Tasmania his home for 4 years now and says the decision included a couple of factors, one being he was not wealthy enough to live on the mainland and of course a very positive force was the major attraction in Tasmania of the ‘natural wild and accessible landscape.’

We are chatting about Robert’s new book ‘What Days are for’ but detour and digress occasionally to talk about holidays in Malta and the fact it is heavily populated by German tourists and also about the similarities between Hindu and Catholic places of worship regarding their statutory!

Hinduism with its deities that in some ways bear similarities to Catholic saints with seemly incredible stories to tell. Robert tells me that that this contemplation of religions was the subject of his novel ‘Arabesque’.

The name of Robert’s most recent book comes from the title of Philip Larkin’s poem which ponders just that, ‘what are our days for? what do we fill them with?’;

Often these ponderings don’t fill our minds until we are faced with a defining moment such as Robert was when visiting Sydney to see his play performed and finding himself in hospital for three weeks experiencing the effects of a heart attack.

Robert cleverly juxtaposes the occasion of his visit to see his play being performed to himself becoming the object of observation as his situation quickly metaphors into the formula of a play. We read of friends visiting him in hospital ‘waiting in the wings’ (behind the curtains). Robert’s memoir contains the Shakespearean elements of drama, comedy and tragedy with Robert centre stage while an audience of medics, critics in their own way, surround and appraise him.

‘What Days are For’ is published by Random house

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Jennifer Scoullar, the Scholar

Paula Xiberras
05.07.15 8:15 am


Jennifer Scoullar recently had a chat with me about her latest book ‘Turtle Reef’. The novel is the story of zoologist Zoe and her new posting at a reef centre in the small town of Kiawa. There’s romantic interest in the form of a local and intrigue on the status of the reef centre’s animal charges.
Jennifer Scoullar’s surname may be of Scandinavian origin but it derives from the German word ‘Schule’ or the English ‘school’ and so ‘Scholar’. It was used as a nickname for a person with the ability to read and write at a time when such abilities were a rarity. One famous ‘Scoullar’ was William Scoullar, ironically a professor of geology, zoology and botany (

This is fitting reference as Jennifer says she herself lives and breathes animals and is an amateur naturalist, All of her novels include Australian flora and fauna so much so that she appears (after a brief flirtation with writing a thriller) to have cornered the Australian market in environmental romance, a sub section of the burgeoning rural romance genre. Jennifer says all the authors in this genre (which are mainly women) have formed a supportive group.

That passion for Australian flora and fauna extends to Tasmania which Jennifer has high praise for calling it ‘a magnificent place’, ‘the wildest place’ and tells me that she has two finished manuscripts set in Tasmania, one deals with the historical Tasmania 100 years ago and features the Tasmanian tiger in the Styx Valley. The second book will take up where the first let off and explore the story of Tasmanian devils!

Jennifer wasn’t always a novelist or even a naturalist, Due to her academic skill and to please her mother Jennifer entered law but always at the back of her mind was the little voice telling her not to abandon her desire to be a writer.

In this novel Jennifer ponders a tragic happening that needs to be overcome before a happy ending. Jennifer says her readers are familiar with her happy endings and may not like the inclusion of a tragedy. It’s a growing problem for an author who has established an audience to move away from expectation and create new challenges. The author has obligations to their audience and publishers to continue fitting their niche. If an author does veer off course they may have to resort to a pen name for these outings and such a situation may make the author feel they are being unfaithful to their established audience.

Not only do we get a good story when reading Jennifer’s books but we also learn without realising it, so well does she weave amazing bits of information into her story.

We learn via Zoe that dolphins need to remember to breathe! and that octopuses have been given a not so generous reputation by the famous octopus in ‘20,000 leagues under the sea ‘and Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’, when in fact they have amazing abilities such as being able to camouflage and shape shift and the females are devoted to their young to the point of their own sacrifice.

Turtle Reef is out now published by Penguin Australia.

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Plainly Great

Paula Xiberras
04.07.15 11:09 am


Nicole Alexander’s book ‘The Great Plains’ is as large and sprawling as the plains themselves. With a first name that means ‘people of victory’ and a last name that means ‘defender ’ or warrior. Nicole herself is a woman of the land victoriously defending her territory from whatever nature presents.

Although Nicole has never been to Tasmania her parents drove around the state in 1998. Nicole tells me of their visiting ‘the marvellous history’ and ‘the coastal areas’ and enjoying ‘the lavender farms’. Her last book tour saw Nicole visit Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia but next time she hopes to include Tasmania. That April Nicole spent three weeks visiting remote and rural areas on her book tour. She later declared herself non match fit when she injured her left arm requiring cortisone injections which halted her ease in driving around on tours.

Nicole likes taking an active part in getting herself around to her author events and this same independent spirit is seen in the strong female characters in The Great Plains including the tragic Flossie and the gothic tale of her jar.

Nicole’s story is an intergenerational one that traverses the great plains of Oklahoma to Australia and is peopled by historical characters like Apache chief Geronimo.

For her research Nicole took a trip to Oklahoma where she was able to study natural landmarks including the salt plains, ranges, waterways, green zone and the Apache centres for inclusion in her novel and she learnt how the Apache people ran their own newspapers, casinos, bowling alleys and museums. Nicole found being an Australian was quite a novelty. While in Oklahoma she observed the respect for nature in its twin roles as a source of sustenance both for the body in the food it provided and as a spiritual place that feeds the soul.

This respect for the dual nature of the land shown by the Apaches is also represented in many Indigenous cultures including Australia’s indigenous people and the comparison in well drawn by Nicole.

What may please readers is the fact Nicole says there is potential for a sequel.

‘The Great Plains’ is out now published by Random House.

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New crime fiction book

Scott Eathorne Quikmark Media
02.07.15 4:12 pm

New crime fiction book, ‘Leona: The Die is Cast’, written by real life criminologist, #1 best-seller in Sweden.

In Leona: The Die Is Cast (Echo Publishing $32.95) a young girl walks into a bank in central Stockholm in broad daylight and manages to get away with several million. The robbery, unique in the history of Swedish crime, attracts great attention from the media, and the outsider Leona Lindberg at the Violent Crimes Division agrees to work the case.

Leona has an antisocial personality disorder, which severely limits her emotional life. She is incapable of experiencing real emotions (except for her two children), which often makes her act in a cold and inconsiderate manner. She has had enough of her stale middle-class life and wants to leave it all behind – for this she needs money and she has developed a gambling problem that pushes her into breaking the law. Because of her long career with the police department Leona has seen most of the mistakes criminals have made in the past. Combined with her knowledge of police work and the legal system, this makes her the perfect criminal. 

Written by criminologist Jenny Rogneby, Leona: The Die Is Cast is a thrilling crime novel with unexpected twists and turns. Jenny Rogneby began studying subjects such as criminology, sociology, law and psychology at Stockholm University where she later became a criminologist. For 7 years she has been working professionally as a criminal investigator at Stockholm City Police Department, investigating everything from thefts to robberies and murders. Her work inspired her to start writing and she formed the character LEONA, a criminal investigator with a dark past whose actions challenge social norms.

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Between Hope and Memory

Paula Xiberras
02.07.15 1:24 pm


In her book Michelle Crawford talks about the first whiff of cherry jam being ‘between hope and a memory’, a memory of fruit that was and a hope to turn it into successful jam.

It’s a beautiful phrase that could describe Michelle’s life and how she left behind the memory of a different career in the hope that her life in Tasmania would bear fruit.

Which it has done both metaphorically and literally. We recently chatted about Michelle’s book ‘A Table in the Orchard’ recounting her experiences in Tasmania so far.

Michelle always wanted a career in cooking which she had loved from an early age but in hindsight is glad she never went into the food industry straight away as she believes she wouldn’t have sustained the passion she now feels and maybe have burnt out!

When she did leave school Michelle worked in an administrative role for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra but found herself spending a great deal of time in the kitchen! Fast forward to one of the things she does now, chopping wood in Tasmania, Michelle says she finds tasks such as this far more satisfying because it is a means to an end and preferable to ‘bonding with budgets and spreadsheets’. Michelle’s still busy these days but it’s a different kind of busy.

Tasmania held many surprises for this mainland foodie among them the variety of potatoes ... she counted 11 varieties not to mention they cost a lot less than the 9 dollars a punnet for pink eyes in Sydney! and another positive the food tastes better in Tassie too!

Michelle’s book was born out of blogging but she admits it was quite a leap from a 200 word blog to a sixty thousand word book! The adaptations were worth it and Michelle compares getting the advance copy of the book akin to be handed a newborn.

Michelle’s book is a hauntingly beautiful tome with gorgeous photos. Unlike a traditional cookbook it is also part memoir and Michelle enjoyed the process so much she may write again as she is eager to take her table on travels from the orchard to other interesting surrounds.

Table in the Orchard is out now published by Random House.

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Colleen and Caulking

Paula Xiberras
01.07.15 7:15 am


I recently had a phone conversation with author Colleen Oakley from her home in Atlanta.

If you read Colleen Oakley’s book ‘Before I go’ you will notice that ‘caulking’ is oft referred to by her protagonist Daisy. For those that unfamiliar Wikipedia tells us that caulking is ‘the process and material of sealing joints or seams in various structures’, to seal. In Daisy’s case it is the windows of her house but in a deeper, perhaps subconscious sense it’s a task that never gets done, at least not by Daisy, it remains a job for her not so house handy husband. Daisy wasn’t able to seal herself and her husband in their happy and safe matrimonial bubble from the menacing forces of illness.

Colleen Oakley is yet to visit Australia but the former magazine editor now novelist’s best friend has visited and also she has Facebook friends here in Australia and so through these contacts she gets to experience Australia vicariously, although she tells me she would love to visit even if that might be quite a daunting process at the moment, considering Colleen has just added newborn twins to her family!.

Colleen basks in the possibilities of novel writing which she says allows her to write anything in comparison to the sometimes ‘paralysing parameters’ of magazine editing.

Collen demonstrates the solidity of her surname in the sober subject matter of her book ‘Before I go’. The book details the story of Daisy a young woman who is faced with a recurrence of cancer diagnosis.  What is heavy fair is infused by Colleen by a protagonist with both a questioning spirit and also one that refuses to be broken in spite of all the medical mayhem she must endure. In fact, in Daisy we have a protagonist who deals with her diagnosis with humour and its important derivative, humanity.

Colleen says the reason she decided to make Daisy, who is a college student and young deal with this diagnosis is that a young couple represent to us the ‘orthodox’ happy ever after story and it unnerves us when hurdles are put in its way. Colleen wanted to explore such a relationship in the context of not getting the happy ever after and in doing so wanted to avoid the Hollywood cliché and we do not see the demise of Daisy.

To create a true representation of what Daisy was going through Colleen spent time with a doctor in Atlanta who talked her through research on radiation, including cat and pet scans and the different diagnosis and treatments for Daisy’s condition.

As noted previously one of the recurrent images or allusions we get through the novel is Daisy’s mentions of messiness and indeed in the opening scene when Daisy’s doctor calls to inform her of her diagnosis the house is in a bit of a mess. We learn that Daisy is a great list make, a doer and achiever but in juxtaposition with this is the fact that ‘mess’ will always occur and just like the inability to seal out trouble, things will always have the potentiality to get messy, that life is messy and unpredictable and can’t be fixed by list making in an attempt to keep things organised and orderly.

Colleen says she didn’t notice these many references to mess until another reader mentioned it to her and suggests it was something that she may have subconsciously included in the novel.

Although the book deals with Daisy’s diagnosis it is not depressing, indeed some of Daisy’s imaginings are surrealistic and highly creative in nature and she never fails to engage and enfold us in her story. Colleen is to be congratulated on her fresh, life affirming and sensitive approach to a topic that might not have been so uplifting.

‘Before I Go’ is out now published by Allen and Unwin.

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Transportation Press, Tasmania’s newest publisher, is calling for short story submissions ...

Rachel Edwards
29.06.15 6:04 pm

... for its second book, The Third Script


The Third Script will include stories from Tasmania, the UK and Iran, and further Transportation Press’ aim to illuminate Tasmanian literature through inspired connections.

Transportation Press was pleased to see their first publication, Islands and Cities, a collection of new short stories from London and Tasmania, knock Richard Flanagan off the number one best seller for the first time since his Booker win.

Rachel Edwards, editor in chief says “I am delighted to be working again with Sean Preston as our UK editor and to welcome Shirindokht Nourmanesh, who will select and edit our Iranian writers.”

“We welcome the opportunity to publish excellent new literature from Tasmania and to open up our writers to more international collaborations,” she added.

Short stories of up to 5000 words will be considered and must be submitted before August 18. Selected writers will be paid $250 AUD and the book will be published in late 2015.

Submissions, accompanied by a 50 word bio, can be sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

For further information, contact Transportation Press’ Editor in chief, Rachel Edwards:

E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T: @transportlontas

Transportation: islands and cities is a collection of short stories from Tasmanians and Londoners to be published in book form in late 2014.

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T: @transportlontas

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