Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

small BW promo logoIt’s coming at me … Faster than a Matthew Reilly plot! More powerful than an idea whose time has come! Able to leap from primary to high schools in a single bound!

Look, up in my calendar – It’s an event, it’s a tradition, it’s …. Book Week!

Yes, it’s Book Week (which this year is super-sized for me – eight weeks long, with back-to-back school visits and festivals from mid-July to mid-September).

20150820_140518

With Will Kostakis jump-starting our Book Week at St Aidans Literature Festival

It’s a gorgeous time when everyone who loves books comes together to celebrate: teachers, librarians, booksellers, writers, illustrators, and of course, our wonderful readers.

Festivities officially kicked off last Friday with the CBCA’s Book of the Year Announcements.

I was so proud and grateful to have Intruder shortlisted this year and offer my warmest congratulations to all Winners and Honour Books for 2015. especially author Claire Zorn for her beautiful Book of the Year for Older Readers, The Protected, and illustrator Freya Blackwood for her extraordinary achievement in taking out three Book of the Year Awards for Picture Book, Early Childhood and Younger Readers.

Have a super Book Week. I know I will. 🙂

short-stories_wide-73921f5063a3379ef3d99ecbae0cf06da5af3adc-s6-c30 (1)

One of my nine sisters-in-law once rang on a Sunday night, to share a snippet she’d found in the Weekend Shopper classifieds. It read:

‘For Sale: Size 22 wedding dress. Never worn.’

Just eight little words and an entire story ballooned out . . . But what that story meant depended on the reader.

For her, the main character was overweight, jilted before her big day, perhaps consoling herself with great slabs of wedding cake, while an over-sized gown hung unworn on the cupboard door behind her.

For me, there was an alternative, more optimistic, reading. In my version of the story, the protagonist had lost 36 kilos before her big day – the dress no longer fitted!

My point is that readers complete stories that writers begin – whether our stories are novel-length, with months if not years, separating writer and reader, or short, like the one I finished today (which hopefully makes the cut for an anthology coming out later in the year).

Stories are needy things – they demand to be written and they demand to be read. Only then are they truly finished.

So, wish me luck finishing today’s short story. It has been written. It has been flensed. Now it needs first readers, and all going well, a publisher, editor and proof reader. When it finally makes it into the hands of its readers, it will be ready. When they finish reading it and decide what it means to them, my story will be complete.

rock climbing1You know that feeling when you’re about to step backwards off the edge of a cliff?

The terrifying thrill of adrenalin? The not-knowing what’s going to happen next?

That’s how I feel whenever I walk into the spotlight, when I start writing a new scene, or send off a story that hasn’t been seen by any eyes but my own.

And it’s how I feel right now, packing for Melbourne and the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English State Conference.

I’m giving my final workshop of the year – Making Reading and Writing Dangerous for Kids – and I’m equal parts excited (because I love talking to teachers) and nervous (because hey, they’re teachers, what if they give me a bad grade?)

And as soon as that thought popped into my head, I heard the ghost of Mr Rainie, my Grade Eight English teacher repeating the words he said to me when I was twelve: ‘Why don’t you just try being the best that you can be, Christine, and see where that takes you?’

Well Mr Rainie, I am trying, but you didn’t warn me how dangerous that journey would be. Or how brave I’d need to be. Reporting from plane crashes, reading the ABC TV News in a borrowed shirt and half-slip, and walking naked (with all my talents and limits clearly on display), every time I publish a new book.

But I want you to know that I am still trying, Mr Rainie. And I’ll keep a special place for you at tomorrow’s workshop, just in case you’d like to come along and check on my progress. 🙂

 

 

 

Books for Xmas

I’m good (or at least not on the naughty list yet), how are you? Snowed under, I bet. So I thought you’d appreciate my wish list before this year buries us all under an avalanche of to-dos, not-dones, and oh-well-maybe-next-years.

Normally I like to keep it simple: something I want, something I need, something to eat and something to read. This year, I just want and need to eat up some great reads. Specifically these…

Big Little Lies by Liane MoriartyBig Little LiesSuburban noir meets brilliantly wicked take on ex-husbands and second wives – sounds like me. Also gotta love a Sydney girl making the New York Times bestseller list (and if you’re handing out any of those treats this Christmas, Santa, count me in!)

We were liarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart: What the… a big break-out YA-novel-of -the-year and I haven’t read it yet – how could this have happened?? (And Santa, if you happen to be passing before December 25, my stocking is ready and waiting for you on the floor of the hall cupboard next to the flippers).

favel parrett when the night comesWhen the Night Comes by Favel Parrett: I just loved her powerful and moving debut novel Past the Shallows and am dying to read this next one.

Which is also pretty much how I feel about The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil.

The incredible adventures of Cinnamon Girl

Her last offering, Life in Outer Space, was one of my favourite YA reads last year, and I am expecting incredible things from her new heroine, the comic-loving Cinnamon Girl (which ticks all my boxes given my comic obsessed past).

And seriously Santa, wouldn’t everyone be wanting one of these on their shelves for the cover art alone?

So tell me, what’s on everyone else’s wish list this Christmas?

 

 

With just a month to go before the Children’s Book Council of Australia releases its Notable Books for 2014, my bedside reading pile is toppling under the weight of must-reads.

So far, three fantastic Australian YA novels have claimed slots in my Clayton’s shortlist:

Life in Outer Spacewildlifegirl defective

What are your hot tips for best Aussie YA reads published last year?

Revolving bookshelfGoodbye teetering stacks of bedside books, hello early Chrissie present – my very own revolving bookshelf!

There’s still some room left on the shelves that I’m hoping to fill this Xmas.  And if like me, you’ve left your shopping run a bit late, here’s my hot tips for great book buys for the holidays.

books xmasFor the pampered pooch or pet lover in your life, it’s hard to go past pet photographer Seth Casteel’s Underwater Dogs. (Next year’s edition needs a photo of Huggy dive-bombing water dragons in our pool!)

For historical fiction buffs, look no further than Hilary Mantell’s Bring Up The Bodies, the superb follow-up to one of my favourite reads of last year, Wolf Hall.

My YA pick-of-the-year is Vikki Wakefield’s mesmerising Friday Brown and for the slightly older new adults in your life, Laura Buzo’s Holier Than Thou is an invigorating shot of life after school, after Uni, when growing up becomes grown up.

Brigid Kemmerer’s Elementals series (Book One Storm and Book Two Spark) are the hottest thing in paranormal romance for teens.  Trust me, your  teenage miss will loooove them…

xmas booksFantasy freaks should treat themselves to the complete three volume set of Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles: starting with Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles and finishing with the heart-stopping Quintana of Charyn.

Toddlers won’t be able to resist Brave Squish Rabbit by Brisbane author-illustrator Kath Battersby. An adorable read with a glow-in-the-dark cover which has proven admirably resilient after being test-driven by my nineteen-month-old nephew over the past two days.

He’s just driven off to spend Christmas with Nana up in Yeppoon, and the next round of family will hit our place tomorrow.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe festive season. surrounded by those you love. 🙂

Ah yes, the CBCA gongs have sounded for another year, and let me say that this year’s choices all resonated with me.

Winner of the Book of the Year for Older Readers is Scot Gardner’s The Dead I Know, a gritty, yet sensitive tale about a troubled boy apprenticed to a kindly undertaker. A celebration of life in the face of death.

Honour books include two of my favourite reads for the year: Bill Condon’s poignant and funny story of first love, first job, A Straight Line to My Heartand Robert Newton’s moving story of two brothers marching off to the Great War, When We Were Two.

Book of the Year for Younger Readers was Kate Constable’s time-slip novel exploring black-white relations, Crow Country, with Jackie French’s excellent Nanberry: Black Brother White and Susan Green’s The Truth about Verity Sparks taking out Honour Books.

Early Childhood Book of the Year goes to Nicholas Bland and Freya Blackwood’s The Runaway Hug, and Picture Book of the Year to Bob Graham’s A BUS CALLED HEAVEN.

For a complete list of all Winning and Honour Books, please click here and congratulations to all Book of the Year, Honour Book, and Short-listed authors. 🙂