The Sultan’s Eyes: out now in US

I’m delighted to announce that The Sultan’s Eyes is out in the US in December 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

I wish I could send every book out into the world with the Preface from Act of Faith, and I suppose in some ways I do:

Dear Reader,

This book you hold is a treasure, of sorts, as is every book I have ever known.

I have made it for you – especially you – for reasons you will understand as my words unfurl before your eyes.

Turn these pages tenderly.

You hold my life in your hands.

Isabella Hawkins



Image of book cover

Praise for The Sultan’s Eyes:

“Through the eyes of the books’ impulsive and curious heroine … readers experience everyday life in the seventeenth century first in Venice, then in the capital of the Ottoman Empire. In addition to being an amusing and gripping adventure story, this ambitious novel also discusses questions of gender inequality, religion, philosophy, and politics.”

– International Youth Library, White Ravens 2014

Lists: on book awards

Well, that was a rather dramatic day.

There is one day of the year when Australian writers and illustrators of children’s and young adult books wake up tense and keep one eye – or possibly two – on social media and mobiles all morning.

It’s the day that the Children’s Book Council of Australia announces first its lists of Notable Books for the year, and later its shortlists for Book of the Year. (The NZ Post Book Awards finalists were released today too!)

Even if you don’t have a book out in that year, you still watch on behalf of friends, publishers, books you loved, and cheer or mope accordingly.

There’s no moping in this house.

The Sultan’s Eyes, like Act of Faith before it, was on the CBCA Notables list for Older Readers.


Image of book cover

I was about to give a lecture when the news finally came through and felt totally distracted for the rest of the morning.

Until, totally out of the blue, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlists were also announced halfway through the afternoon.  Turns out The Sultan’s Eyes is on the shortlist for the Ethel Turner Prize as well.

What a day.

And I have to say that both lists (and the CBCA shortlists) are crammed full of wonderful books – and there are many more that could have just as easily been included. I don’t envy those judges.

So congratulations to all the authors and illustrators, and our publishers, for getting through the roller coaster day and for creating books worth celebrating.


Lately I’ve been…

… too busy to blog. Sorry.

A crazy month or so. It started with the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in late August which was great but pretty intense. Or maybe it started the week before that – Book Week! That was when I went back to my childhood public library in Nunawading, and talked to a lovely group of women of all ages about reading and writing. And then after the Festival, I spent a couple of exhilarating days as Writer in Residence at Kilvington Grammar School.

Since then I’ve been making final revisions to the manuscript of  Tragédie, the novel I’ve been working on as part of my PhD. It’s to be published by Fourth Estate in the middle of next year under the new title Goddess. It’s in the kind hands of my editors now.

I’ve also been teaching Writing Fiction this semester at La Trobe University which is stacks of fun – but a lot of work.

And as you may have noticed, The Sultan’s Eyes has come out recently too.

So I can’t report on all the fabulous books I’ve read lately because I haven’t had a moment spare for reading.

But it’s a great deal better than being bored.


Happy new year

Thanks to all of you who’ve followed the blog, been in touch on Facebook or Twitter, posted reviews on Goodreads or elsewhere, and (or) read Act of Faith.

For my next trick, I’ll be doing edits on the sequel over the next few weeks, but we’ll have to wait a while to see it in print. Should be out around August.

In the meantime, have a great summer holiday (or winter reading spell, if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and I look forward to another busy year ahead.

2013. Already? Didn’t see that coming.



Lately I’ve been…

Rather quiet, haven’t I?

That’s because I’ve being going through the living hell that is moving house.

But now we’re in, if not unpacked, and still edging our way through rooms crowded with boxes – mostly containing books (I don’t know where they all came from and I still don’t understand how they’re all going to fit in the new house).

I’m in Sydney this morning, having come up for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, in which Act of Faith was shortlisted for the aptly named Ethel Turner prize for young adult fiction.

And what a shortlist. The other books on it were:

  • Bill Condon, A Straight Line to My Heart (Allen & Unwin)
  • Ursula Dubosarsky, The Golden Day (Allen & Unwin)
  • Scot Gardner, The Dead I Know (Allen & Unwin)
  • Penni Russon, Only Ever Always (Allen & Unwin)
  • Vikki Wakefield, All I Ever Wanted (Text).

I was thrilled and a little amazed to see my book listed alongside those titles. The beautiful Only Ever Always won the Award, and we all dined and felt terribly glamorous in the beautiful Mitchell Reading Room at the State Library of NSW.

Editing has begun on The Sultan’s Eyes, work on the cover design is quite advanced, and I should have the manuscript back to look over the edits in a couple of weeks. What happens then is that I check and recheck, then the changes are made and the editors check it all again, it gets typeset, then we all check it again. And possibly again. By which point we’re all thoroughly sick of the thing and don’t want to see it until it arrives in a box with a picture on the front.

In the meantime, it’s back to focusing on La Maupin and academic conference papers, and a hectic time at work, before taking a summer break in which I intend to read a whole lot of books that have nothing to do with the seventeenth century.

Except I can’t help wondering what would happen if Isabella Hawkins returned to Cromwell’s London…


Coming up

I’m reading work in progress at Bespoken this week: Thursday 25 October at 7.30 at Hares and Hyenas bookshop in Johnston St, Fitzroy.

I’ll read a couple of chapters from Tragédie. Tom Cho and Daniel G Taylor are also reading from their work. Should be a great night.

More info and bookings  here.

After that I’m laying low for a few weeks so I can move house and recover from all this month’s major deadlines and get ready for next month’s deadlines.

I’ve finished writing the sequel to Act of Faith – it’s called The Sultan’s Eyes and it’s with the publisher. I’ve even seen a few rough designs for covers, so things are rocketing along.

Rather quickly.

Coming up

I’m heading off today to present a couple of workshops, as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, on social media for writers and readers. Looking forward to it, too, because it combines the two distinct parts of my life: my day job, which is all about online learning and training people in the web; and my writing self.

Late next week I return to Brisbane for the second part of my May Gibbs Children’s Literature Foundation fellowship, to start work on the redraft of The Sultan’s Eyes and also to run workshops as a writer in residence at the State Library of Queensland. Most of the workshops are for schools, but there are a couple of public sessions for younger readers/writers on Words that changed the world – subversive books and the forces that tried to stop them.

I can talk about that stuff for hours. And no doubt will.