Posts Tagged ‘Melina Marchetta’

Daily checklist:
Dacks of track on and slightly soiled? Check.
Face devoid of makeup? Check.
Hair lank and unloved? Check.
Clearly it’s a writing day.

And just as I happily tap in the 44,999th word of the w-i-p, the call comes in.

Could you do a 15-minute interview on bookish matters on 612 ABC Drive with Tim Cox?

Why, soitenly, I reply without a moment’s hesitation. When?

Ah… today. Is that OK?

Sure, why not?

After all, it’s radio, no-one cares about bad hair days.

So in I drive to the ABC’s salubrious new quarters next to the Wheel of Brisbane at Southbank, and chat happily for fifteen minutes on Drive with Tim Cox (a man who never has a bad hair day).

We talk about YA literature in general, and a number of books I’ve loved from classics like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë through to Favel Parrett’s stunning debut Past the Shallows on to one of my all-time favourite authors, Melina Marchetta.

Then, just as I’m about to take my bad hair day home, Tom the friendly Drive producer, takes a photo to mark the occasion.

Oh dear, radio is no longer the safe haven it used to be…

Click here, if you’d like to hear an excerpt from the interview I Rate the Book – ABC Queensland.

And please, try not to focus on the hair.

So, I’ve done it again. Agreed to be a Clayton’s judge for Qld in the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

I’ve gorged on books: eighty-odd were entered in the Older Readers category this year.  The REAL CBCA Shortlist and Notables will be announced nationally on 3 April.

My Clayton’s Notable Books for Older Readers for 2012 is being announced right here, right now (Shortlist to follow… well, shortly).

Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel by Michael Gerard Bauer

Hilarious third and final book in the Ishmael series where our cast of lovable larrikins finish Year 12 at St Daniels. A must for every kid’s library.

Votive (Curse of the Bond Rider #2) by Karen Brooks

Compulsively readable second installment in Karen Brooks’s fantasy trilogy. The gentle candlemaker Tallow has been suborned by the corrupt Maleovellis and transformed into courtesan and assassin Tarlo. The machiavellian intrigues of this beautifully realised world will have you on tenderhooks for the final installment. Bring on Illumination!

Silvermay by James Moloney

The first in James Moloney’s brlliant new fantasy series where a young village girl battles the Wyrdborn, a race of corrupt wizards, to save a baby prophesied to lay waste to the world.

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

Gritty yet sensitive tale of a troubled boy apprenticed to a kindly undertaker. A celebration of life in the face of death.

All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

A difficult-to-put-down, warm and gritty novel about a girl from a rough neighbourhood who is desperate to escape her small-time crim roots. The engaging storyline and characters, fluid narrative and evocative writing make for a fantastic debut novel.

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson

Deliciously fun geek-girl detective story set in a museum with bonus gross-out natural history trivia wrapped up in a treasury of mystery genre references. Something to nurture your inner nerd. Highly recommended.

The Extinction Gambit (The Extraordinaires, #1) by Michael Pryor

Entertaining romp through a richly re-imagined 1908 London, where magic flourishes, an enclave of Neanderthals survives in hiding, and a wolfish young man and a beautiful albino are all that stand between a trio of Immortal magicians and their plans for world domination. Wry and witty, for those who love their steam punk.

Being Here by Barry Jonsberg

Beautifully told story about the power of imagination. An unlikely friendship develops when an elderly woman relates the grim story of her childhood to a teenage girl for a school assignment. Keep tissues handy for the ending when the ghosts of the past come to claim their own.

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Life and happiness can turn on the toss of a coin. A lovely, affirming story by a writer who keeps coming up with the goods. If you liked Herrick’s last YA novel “Slice”, you’ll love this.

Crow Country by Kate Constable

A time-slip novel exploring black/white relations over three generations in rural Victoria. Deftly weaves Aboriginal spirituality into a magical realist framework. Highly recommended as a class novel for early high school.

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

Exquisitely written story about the mysterious disappearance of a teacher from a 1960s girls’ school in Sydney. Haunting and lyrical, with shades of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan

All the hallmarks of a swash-buckling classic from Miles Franklin award-winning author Andrew McGahan. The first instalment in the Ship Kings series brims with adventure, heroism and secrets.

When We Were Two by Robert Newton

Beautiful, funny and deeply moving story set at the start of World War One about runaway brothers marching towards their future. Deftly deals with the best and worst that men can teach boys as they conquer mountains, prejudice and the pain of their shared past.

The Shadow Girl by John Larkin

Thoughtful and edgy story about teenage homelessness. Recommended for upper secondary due to mature themes.

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon

Claire’s world is commonplace and familiar; Clara’s, post-apocalyptic and dangerous. A music box provides the key to their worlds colliding in a shared dreamscape. Fascinating and adventurous in its writing, “Only Ever Always” is for those who love reading to be both challenging and mesmerising.

Shift by Em Bailey

Is the new girl at school a parasite or something far worse? Is she imitating other girls or cannibalizing their lives? A genre-busting, riveting gallop of a read that examines toxic friendship through a more sinister lens.

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2) by Melina Marchetta

In this mesmerising sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, loyalties are tested and dark bonds of kinship revealed as Lumatere strikes back at the heart of its enemy. Richly imagined, powerful story telling, with characters that will steal your heart.

Pig Boy by J.C. Burke

A confronting and compelling read that confounds expectations. An unlikeable outsider teams up with a Bosnian pig shooter so that he can learn to shoot. But the Wake in Fright elements mask author JC Brennan’s real and more subtle intentions. Impressive story telling.

A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon

“Gungee is an ancient word meaning: this place is a hole.” Join Tiff from Gungee Creek in her funny, poignant and heartfelt tussles with life, death, first love, first job. From one of Australia’s finest writers for young people.

Eona (Eon, #2) by Alison Goodman

Stunning conclusion to the Dragoneye fantasy duology that started with Eon (also published as The Two Pearls of Wisdom). Eastern fantasy with spirit. Highly recommended.

Dangerously Placed by Nansi Kunze

Alex’s dream work experience placement becomes a nightmare when a co-worker is murdered and Alex becomes the prime suspect. A virtual reality thriller for high schoolers.

Just a Girl by Jane Caro

Atmospheric first person account of the young Elizabeth I on the eve of her coronation. A compelling fictionalisation and fascinating glimpse into the life of a great queen when she was just a girl.

Whisper by Chrissie Keighery

A fascinating story of a teenager who becomes profoundly deaf after contracting meningitis. Her attempts to reconcile her hearing and non-hearing worlds make for riveting reading.

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

Lanagan’s latest short story collection is beautifully written, mesmerisingly strange, yet oddly familiar. She tilts the world on its axis, we lose our balance and topple into the bizarre. An original and unique voice in Australian literature.

If, like me, you plan to end the year skidding in sideways with a book in each hand, then read on for this year’s hot Xmas pressie ideas for family and friends…

For the Teen Miss, it would be hard to go past Shift by Em BaileyA genre-busting, riveting gallop of a read that examines toxic friendship through a more sinister lens. For me, this is the Young Adult psychological thriller of the year, with a doozy of a cover that booksellers tell me is walking off the shelves.

For tastes that run more to funny and poignant, first job, first love, then get Bill Condon’s A Straight Line to My Heart. All Aussie humour and heart, with cracker dialogue and characters you can’t bear to say goodbye to when the last page is turned.

For the young fella in the house, you can’t go wrong with The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings 1This new series has all the hallmarks of a swash-buckling classic from Miles Franklin award-winning author Andrew McGahan.  Brimming with adventure, heroism and secrets. A must-buy for boys 12+ this Christmas.

Michael Gerard Bauer’s Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel is a corker of a read for anyone aged 12 and over. In this hilarious third and final novel in the Ishmael series, our cast of lovable larrikins finishes Year 12 at St Daniels. The colourful rejacketed full set will make a terrific addition to any kid’s library.

For the knee-highs, Katherine Battersby’s adorable picture book Squish Rabbit is a winner with a squishy cover as sweet as the gelati palette used in its collaged pages. I have a very special three year old in mind for this one…

Lovers of fantasy are spoilt for choice with wonderful offerings from award-winning authors Melina Marchetta, Karen Brooks, Alison Goodman and James Moloney.

Froi of the Exiles is the riveting sequel to Finnikin of the Rock  and once again proves that Melina Marchetta is gifted with the grace of writing characters who steal your heart. Powerful story telling coupled with a nuanced understanding of human nature creates a richly imagined tale peopled with unforgettable characters. Froi of the Exiles is compulsive reading that will leave you clamouring for the final book in the series.

In Karen Brooks’ Votive, the second in her Curse of the Bond Riders trilogy, the gentle candlemaker Tallow has been suborned by the corrupt Maleovellis and transformed into courtesan and assassin Tarlo. The machiavellian intrigues of this beautifully realised world will have you on tenderhooks for the final installment. Bring on Illumination!

Alison Goodman’s Eona is a stunning conclusion to the Dragoneye fantasy duology that started with Eon (also published as The Two Pearls of Wisdom).

And finally, James Moloney’s new fantasy Silvermay is guaranteed to please his myriad fans with Wyrdborn and common folk fighting over a child destined to destroy the world.

PS I’ve just realised this list is top-heavy with speculative fiction and kids, so next time I’ll post some recommendations for Nana and other significant adults in your lives. 😉

So tell me, what books are on your must-buy list this Christmas?

Here’s some last-minute recommendations from chez Bongers for gifts for the family this festive season.

Hubba Hubby recommends Melina Marchetta’s The Piper’s Son (also one of my picks for 2010). Despite him being a non-fiction kind of guy, I packed it into his bag when he went surfing in the Maldives and was delighted to get this email from Singapore Airport on his way home:

‘Absolutely loved MMs Piper’s Son. I never read those sort of books. Reminded me of Somerset Maugham The Razors Edge. I found the book really moving, warm, believable. The characters were wonderful. Best part of my holiday!’

Our eleven-year-old was whisked away by his namesake, Tall Jake, the sinister Master of Ceremonies, into the horrifying comic book world of Malice. After reading the first volume of Chris Wooding’s part-novel, part-comic duology, he has put the sequel Havoc on the top of his Christmas list this year. Recommended for 10-13 year old boys.

Series fiction is always a winner for keeping kids occupied over the long hot summer holidays, but mine have already consumed the mega-hit trilogies for 2010, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series.

We had to go back in time to find something ‘new’ for Miss Thirteen, who happily discovered Uglies, Scott Westerfield’s dystopian series where everyone is compulsorily operated on and made beautiful on their sixteenth birthday and radical politics is opting to keep your own face.  She is hoping to find Pretties in her Xmas stocking, and with two more in the series, Specials and Extras, she’ll have beach reading well into the New Year.

For the Nanas, it’s hard to go past Kate Morton’s latest romantic thriller  The Distant Hours and Malla Nunn’s stylish crime thriller set in South Africa, A Beautiful Place to Die.

Our eighteen year old has decided she wants to read Caroline Overington’s compulsive page-turner I came to say goodbye. An engaging read that draws the reader into the other Australia where family triumphs over the adversity of poverty, mental illness, abuse, and abandonment.

For those hard-to-buy-for twenty-something young men in your life, get a copy of Simon Groth and Sean Sennett’s Off the Record: 25 years of Music Street Press. This must-have Indie anthology features best-of band interviews over the past quarter century.

That’s my Xmas shopping done – so, what books are you ordering from Santa this Christmas?

Writers love the aha moment, the shriek of eureka, the epiphany-producing breakthrough, the gravity of the apocryphal apple falling on one’s head.

The exquisite flash of revelation and insight afforded by a creative leap, the illumination of a new connection that is so bright and shiny and real that it has the power to bridge a divide and pull your protagonist through.

It can bubble up like a what-about-a-water-bottle in the bath, shock you into wakefulness at three in the morning, spring fully formed into your mind on a run or while pushing a trolley down an aisle.

But it can not and does not come out of the blue. The flash of creative inspiration is not randomly bestowed by a capricious muse.

It is the result of the thousands of hours of deliberate practice that you devote to your calling. Not just the writing, but the related pursuits of reading, day-dreaming and thinking critically about your work.

Melina Marchetta says she listens to her characters, sometimes for months, before putting pen to paper. Markus Zusak says that it’s hard to believe that when he spends half the day staring into space, he’s actually working. Kate Morton calls it the ‘cauldron’ phase – when you are working, but not actually writing.

The headlong rush to publish makes some writers afraid to marinate their work and let the ingredients meld and simmer in the creative juices.

Don’t be afraid.

Prepare your mind. Research and read widely, visit a gallery, listen to music, stare at the stars, and trust the unconscious to do its job. Make those new connections. You might be surprised at what bubbles to the surface.

‘Chance favours the prepared mind’ Louis Pasteur

Chris Bongers and Melina MarchettaQuick gush here…

Last night I was at Melina Marchetta’s Brisbane launch of her latest novel The Piper’s Son.

Melina is such a rock star; her launch at Riverbend Books would have needed bouncers but for the good behaviour of the crowd. Hearing her in conversation with CBCA National President, Marj Kirkland, was an absolute treat.

My autographed copy has been burning a hole in my pocket, but I’m not allowed to open it until I’ve finished Chapter Two of my new YA w-i-p, Intruder.

I can’t even look at The Piper’s Son or I’ll crack and spend the rest of the day on the couch with my legs in the air.  I’ve had the biggest literary crush on Melina since Looking for Alibrandi and have adored all her books, so my pitiful supply of willpower is being tested here folks; I’m hurting, believe me.

chris Bongers at Riverbend BooksBTW, I ♥ Riverbend Books. I had my own book launch there and have often admired their awesome book-covered verandah blinds. But it wasn’t until last night  that someone drew my attention to the little orange spine sandwiched in between Bram Stoker and Nick Earls…

Thank you to the lovely Lynn Priestley for not only pointing it out, but for capturing these Kodak moments on her trusty iPhone. Somerset Writers' Festival

In other news, I’m counting down the sleeps till Somerset Writers’ Festival at the Gold Coast from 17-19 March.

Melina will be there, along with an awesome lineup of literary talent including Markus Zusak, Patrick Ness, James Roy, Belinda Jeffrey, Derek Landy and Anthony Eaton.

If you click here you can book tickets to hundreds of sessions and dozens of authors, including little old me.  (I’ll be the one reading The Piper’s Son in an empty tent while fifteen thousand people stampede the rock stars of the YA literary world. If this pathetic image moves you, please come up and say hello. I’ll welcome you with open arms, I promise.)

SURF'S UPI’m like Tank the penguin in the movie Surf’s Up. Between action scenes, I’m holed up in my room, endlessly polishing my ladies.

It’s a guilty pleasure, which I have shelved (temporarily) after eavesdropping on other authors’ daily word counts on facebook.

There’s John Birmingham, working to deadline on his new thriller, with chest-thumping accounts of his daily tallies:

“Haaaaaar!!!!! Smashed thru the last eight hundred words & carried on for another three. Five thousand words for the day. This IS SPARTA!!!!!

He is Writer, hear him roar. Thank God I’m a girlie, or my goolies would have shriveled at the mere thought of trying to compete with all that writerly testosterone. Talk about inducing performance anxiety: his word count is sooo much bigger than mine.

I am Re-writer, hear me keep my word count to myself. Once I did manage to unwrite five thousands words of pure shite in a single day. But write – uh uh, no way.

No less impressive is the versatile and productive Kim Wilkins, who gets up before her two kids to knock off a couple thousand words before breakfast. Now that’s commitment. Which, incidentally, is also the key difference between the professional writer and the amateur.

The professional writer writes, even when it’s hard. The amateur waits for inspiration.

(That’s from “Confident vs delusional writers” in A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. It’s an entertaining post, well worth the visit.)

I’ll be honest. I struggle with the first draft. Its imperfections bug me and I’m constantly side-tracked by the need to fix them.  But as Hemingway said ‘All first drafts are shit’. Get over it.

So each day now, I tell myself, just concentrate on getting it out. Write first, then you can polish with impunity, later.

I’m not alone in my fixation on polishing. Kate Grenville did thirty-eight complete drafts of The Idea of Perfection – and won the Orange Prize for fiction.

Melina Marchetta says she must have rewritten the prologue for Finnikin of the Rock fifty times; it won an Aurealis Award and she’s been at the top of her game for more than a decade.

Marcus Zusak says he would have rewritten sections of the The Book Thief a hundred times – and he made it onto the New York Times Children’s Bestseller List.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that first, we must write. In my case, a thousand words a day till it’s done. And then, the exquisite pleasures of the rewrite. Polishing my ladies, without feeling guilty, until I am spent.