Coming soon: February & March 2020

The past couple of months has been both hectic and diverting. I had a couple of weeks in the UK, attending the Herstory Reimagined conference and researching a couple of projects.

Then I had an actual holiday – a couple of weeks off in my second home, New Zealand. What a relief. I hadn’t had a break for such a long time.  There was lots of ocean staring and eating fish and chips on the beach (it’s summer here, in case you’re wondering), swimming and even fishing. I also bought a little dinghy, which is the cutest thing ever.

small yellow boat

And I, like everyone, was stunned by the impact of the bushfires, so pitched in to help support the amazing #AuthorsForFireys fundraiser, which raised over half a million dollars for firefighters and recovery.

Then it was back to business, finishing Vigil, book three of The Firewatcher Chronicles.

I feel a bit odd, bringing the series to a close. Book 2, Phoenix, comes out in February (so, like, soon!) and Vigil is slated for July. Can’t wait to get the books into young readers’ hands.

Three new book covers

Stay tuned for more on Phoenix as we get closer to release day.

In the meantime, here are my next appearances in Melbourne and Auckland. If you’re around, I’d love to see you there.

4 February: Josephine’s Garden

In conversation with the lovely Stephanie Parkyn to celebrate the release of her new book, Josephine’s Garden. It’s a historical novel, set in France, with Napoleon and gardening and even an emu. What’s not to like?

Details: The evening is at Earthbound Café, 5/266 Bolton St, Eltham, and hosted by my friends at the Eltham Bookshop. 6.30pm until 8.00pm, Tickets $40.00 which includes a copy of the book and refreshments. Prepaid bookings are essential – phone 9439 8700.

(That’s Eltham in Victoria, not Eltham in Taranaki.)

14 & 15 February – Same Same but Different Festival

I’m delighted to be participating in this year’s Same Same But Different festival in Auckland – the brainchild of the dear, departed Peter Wells. This year’s theme is Writing Queer Worlds.

I’ll be one of the speakers in the Opening Night Gala on Friday 14 February, so come spend Valentine’s Day with us. Starts at 7.30pm.

Then the next morning (10.30am), I’m on a panel about writing queer-themed books for kids and young adults.

The other guests in these events, and throughout the programme, are absolutely brilliant, so we’re in for a treat.

Here’s the programme and all the details.

21 February – Sisters in Crime: The past is never dead

I’m hosting a panel of crime writers whose books are set in the past: Sulari Gentill, Kirsten Alexander and Kirsty Manning.

Looking forward to discussing research, plotting, mysteries, crimes of many kinds, character, and writing practice with this stellar line-up.

Sisters in Crime nights are always good value and this will be a cracker, if I do say so myself. (I’m also a Sisters in Crime convenor this year.)

It’s at the The Rising Sun Hotel , South Melbourne, 8pm – 10pm, and we usually get there a bit early for dinner upstairs from 6.30pm. Tickets are $10 – $22, and you can book online here.

10 March – Suffragettes and philanthropists

So pleased to be part of this panel at the gorgeous State Library of Victoria alongside Celeste Liddle, Dr Carolyn Rasmussen and Carolyn Fraser hosted by Santilla Chingaipe.

Here’s what we’ll discuss: At the turn of the 20th century, Australia was an international exemplar of progressive welfare reform. Philanthropists like Janet Lady Clarke built a strong foundation for social welfare; suffragettes like Fanny Finch, Vida Goldstein and Doris Blackburn ardently fought for equality for women.

But the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act only granted white Australian women full and universal suffrage. As Clare Wright says in You daughters of freedom, ‘This racial qualifier takes a good deal of the gloss off patriotic gloating.’

My Creative Fellowship at the Library in 2017 was  focused on my project Sisterhood, on that generation of suffragettes around Vida Goldstein (and my great-grandmother, Edith) and then later in the 1980s. I’m still working on that, and will be for some time. So I am keen to hear these amazing women’s perspectives on the issues.

Starts at 6pm in the brand spanking new Conversation Quarter in the Quad – all revamped and ready to go.

Free but book here.

21 March –  Learn how to write historical fiction with me

People often ask about my classes, and there’s one coming up. I’m teaching one of my full-day workshops on writing historical fiction for the good folk at Writers Victoria. We’ll cover:

  • Expectations of readers and writers of historical fiction
  • Practical approaches to voices and dialogue
  • Research tips, sources and tools
  • How to integrate research and imagination
  • Writing about real people from the past.

Writers Victoria, all day from 10am. Details and bookings here.

That ought to keep me out of mischief for a bit. (I know what you’re thinking – I always say that, and it never does.)

 

Vida Goldstein

Suffragette and anti-conscription campaigner Vida Goldstein (Photo: State Library of Victoria)

 

Coming up

We’re hunkered down for winter here in Melbourne. Especially me, as I’ve managed to come down with a boring cold and my head’s too thick even to read.

But the good thing about winter in this neck of the woods is that it’s writers festival time.

So here are a few of the events and classes I’ve got coming up.

Woodend Winter Arts Festival: June 10

A panel with Robert Gott,  Eliza Henry-Jones and Mark Brandi, hosted by Kate Cuthbert. We’ll read a bit and talk a bit and answer your questions.  It’s help to celebrate 30 years of Writers Victoria, our wonderful state-wide writers’ organisation.

Details here.

Emerging Writers Festival: June 29

One of my favourite writers’ festivals, because it is for writers, and it’s always innovative and so helpful to people who are starting out. So I’m delighted to be part of it again this year, with a workshop on how to write historical fiction.

And it’s free!  Details here.

Bendigo Writers Festival:  11 August

Bendigo Writers Festival 2019 logo

Another of my favourite festivals, in one of the most interesting areas of Victoria. This time, I’m chairing a session with two lovely writers: Kate Forsyth and Ilka Tampke. We’ll talk about researching the past, and knowing the three of us and our enthusiasm for the topic, they’ll have to drag us off stage with a shepherd’s crook. Details here.

I’ll also be quizzing the editor and some contributors of Kindred, a new anthology of YA queer stories, just out last month. I haven’t read Kindred yet, but I’m very much looking for to it, and to talking to Michael Earp, Claire G Coleman, Erin Gough and Nevo Zisin about their work. Details here.

Gender and Love conference: 25-27 September

In Spring, I’ll be back in South Africa for the Gender and Love conference and  doing more research for my YA novel, Roar, which is set in the late 1980s in London and Apartheid-era South Africa.

HNSA conference: 25-27 October

By October, the sun will be out again, and I’ll be in Sydney for the Historical Novel Society of Australasia conference at historic Parramatta. I’m teaching writers how to use Scrivener in a craft workshop  on the Friday, and then in the weekend program will be chatting with Sophie Masson about our approaches to writing for different age groups. And I’m co-convening the academic stream on the Sunday.

In between, I’ll be recording podcasts, teaching, attending some other writers festivals and events, moving house, releasing the new editions of  the Firewatcher Chronicles … oh, and finishing Vigil, book three of the series.

If I can just shake off this cold!

Three new book covers

 

Historical fiction podcast series

Had a fabulous time recording this series of interviews with authors of historical fiction, as part of the lead-up to our big historical novel conference in September.

Imagining the Past is presented by the Historical Novel Society of Australasia,  and produced by the good folk at Swinburne University (thanks team – they even composed the music!).

You can hear me chat to:

Here’s the conversation with the lovely Kate Forsyth:

 

The conference runs from 8-10 September,  at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, with these great writers and many, many others – you can see the full programme here.

For anyone interested in learning to use Scrivener, I’m running a workshop on the Sunday (10/9) to introduce people to this wonderful software for writers – and there are a whole lot of other workshops too, on topics from research to armour (how cool is that?).

There’s also an academic stream, including a panel on biofictions.

Hope to see you at the conference.

The Writer’s Toolkit

I’ve posted quite a lot about different tools that writers can use to make the most of the web and their own time.

And now there’s a course: The Writer’s Toolkit, at Writers Victoria from 5 June.

In it we’ll cover:

  • Productivity tools to help you manage time
  • Finding and managing information and resources
  • Note taking and research
  • Drafting and plotting tools
  • Networking and promotions online.

The course runs for four weeks, one night a week. More details and bookings here, but be quick! Booking deadline looms.

Coming up in July

After two residencies and many weeks away, I’m back in Melbourne and settling in for winter. I’m working on the redraft of Tragédie and waking up at 6am remembering things I still need to fix in The Sultan’s Eyes.

A couple of appearances:

On Saturday July 7, I’m part of a panel called ‘What’s fit to print? Issues in youth literature’. It’s part of the Bayside Literary Festival: Art of Words, and it’s a revival of a panel discussion with Hazel Edwards, Adele Walsh and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli at the Midsumma Festival. We had so much fun we’re doing it all over again, this time with the addition of George Ivanoff. Moderated by Crusader Hillis.

2 pm in Brighton: details here.

Then on Wednesday 18 July I’m at Boroondara Library. The session is designed especially for boys 10 and over – I reckon we might be talking a bit about pirates. (The lovely Rebecca Lim presented a session especially for girls this week. Lucky things.)

7pm, Hawthorn Library: details here.