Black Inc Books: September releases ...

Black Inc. Books
22.08.17 3:23 pm


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Invitation to the launch of Mountain Stories ...

Lucinda Sharp Director, FORTY SOUTH PUBLISHING Pty Ltd
22.08.17 3:14 pm


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Tasmanian Writers’ Centre: Happy Book Week ...

Chris Gallagher, Director, Tasmanian Writers' Centre
22.08.17 2:59 pm


Dear Writers and Readers,

Happy BOOK WEEK! Congratulations to the CBCA Book of the Year 2017 award winners, and Tasmanian author and illustrator Jennifer Cossins for A-Z of Endangered Animals, an Honour Book for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

We will continue these celebrations at the festival with two special sessions for children and a Book Nook. The family sessions will be on Sunday morning with Bradley Trevor Greive, Nicole Gill and Christina Booth. Two wonderfully interactive sessions with drawing, music and lots of laughter guaranteed. Everyone is invited to dress up as their favourite creature or sheep!

Bookings: and

Festival tickets are selling fast and our Masterclass with Bradley Trevor Greive has already BOOKED OUT! If you’re thinking of coming along NOW is the time - we don’t want you to miss out.

Here are three more sessions to whet your appetite - this time we have included our festival guests in action. This week’s festival competition prize has tickets to the State Cinema.

Happy Festival planning!

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Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes 2017: congratulations to Forty South authors

Lucinda Sharp
17.08.17 5:14 pm

Left to right: Margaretta Pos, Tony Fenton, Anne Blythe-Cooper, Lucinda Sharp

When the longlists for the Premier’s Literary Prizes 2017 were revealed at a glittering function last Friday night, the name Forty South Publishing was read out three times. Three out of ten is pretty pleasing. </b>

Congratulations to three authors who were long-listed for the Margaret Scott Prize (for best book by a Tasmanian writer) - Anne Blythe-Cooper (“The Shape of Water”), Tony Fenton (“A History of Port Davey, South West Tasmania, Volume One: Fleeting Hopes”) and Margaretta Pos (“Shadows in Suriname”). And thanks to the editors and designers who contributed to these publications including Chris Champion, Kent Whitmore, Hannah Gamble, Imogen Brown, Nick Gross, Sheila Allison.

Congratulations to all the other authors who made the longlists. As the judges noted, the longlists demonstrate the rich diversity of current Tasmanian writing and reading culture.

Over 100 books were entered and 10 made the longlist in each category, as follows:

Margaret Scott Prize – 2017 longlist for best book by a Tasmanian writer – $5 000
• The Shape of Water by Anne Blythe-Cooper, published by Forty South Publishing
• In Brazil by Fran Bryson, published by Scribe Publications
• Woven Landscape: Connections in the Tasmanian Midlands, written and published by Peter E Davies
• A History of Port Davey, South West Tasmania, Volume One: Fleeting Hopes by Tony Fenton, published by Forty South Publishing
• The White Room Poems by Anne Kellas, published by Walleah Press
• South Pole: Nature and Culture by Elizabeth Leane, published by Realktion Books
• Shadows in Suriname by Margaretta Pos, published by Forty South Publishing
• The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, published by Allen & Unwin
• Down the Dirt Roads by Rachael Treasure, published by Penguin Random House
• Crocoite by Margaret Woodward, published by A Published Event.

Tasmania Book Prize – 2017 longlist for the best book with Tasmanian content in any genre – $25 000
• Losing Streak: How Tasmania was Gamed by the Gambling Industry by James Boyce, published by Black Inc
• The Diemenois: Being the Correct and True Account of the Sensational Escape, Seclusion and Cruel Demise of a Most Infamous Man by J W Clennett, published by Hunter Publishers
• Archipelago of Souls by Gregory Day, published by Pan Macmillan Australia
• Solomon’s Noose: The True Story of Her Majesty’s Hangman of Hobart by Steve Harris, published by Melbourne Books
• Physick by Pete Hay, published by Shoestring Press
• The Better Son by Katherine Johnson, published by Ventura Press
• Wild Island by Jennifer Livett, published by Allen & Unwin.
• Fall of the Derwent by Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward, published by A Published Event
• Musquito: Brutality and Exile by Michael Powell, published by Fullers Publishing
• Into the Heart of Tasmania by Rebe Taylor, published by Melbourne University Publishing.

The shortlists will be announced at a reception on the mainstage at the Theatre Royal on Thursday, 14 September 2017 as part of the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival.

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The Vandemonian War ... a review

The Saturday Paper
16.08.17 7:40 am


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Monash University Publishing: The Free Aboriginal Inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land ...

Monash University Publishing
15.08.17 2:46 pm


‘Me Write Myself’ The Free Aboriginal Inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land at Wybalenna, 1832–47

By Leonie Stevens*

‘This beautifully written and detailed history of Wybalenna on Flinders Island and its colonial contexts, is told through the rich records left by and about the First Tasmanians resident there. It privileges Aboriginal testimony in a way rarely achieved before and will become a classic of Tasmanian history.’ Richard Broome, Emeritus Professor of History, FAHA, FRHSV

Exiles, lost souls, remnants of a dying race ... The fate of the First Nations peoples of Van Diemen’s Land is one of the most infamous chapters in Australian, and world, history. The men, women and children exiled to Flinders Island in the 1830s and 40s have often been written about, but never allowed to speak for themselves. This book aims to change that.

Penned by the exiles during their fifteen years at the settlement called Wybalenna, items in the Flinders Island Chronicle, sermons, letters and petitions offer a compelling corrective to traditional portrayals of a hopeless, dispossessed, illiterate people’s final days. The exiles did not see themselves as prisoners, but as a Free People. Seen through their own writing, the community at Wybalenna was vibrant, complex and evolving. Rather than a depressed people simply waiting for death, their own words reveal a politically astute community engaged in a fifteen year campaign for their own freedom: one which was ultimately successful.

‘Me Write Myself’ is a compelling story that will profoundly affect understandings of Tasmanian and Australian history.

*Dr Leonie Stevens researches and lectures in History. Previous to working with true stories, she had an extensive background as a fiction writer and editor. She is the author of six novels, a variety of short fiction, and is addicted to B-grade disaster films.

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Outback Australia Rises Up in Red Dust Dreams

Aurora House
15.08.17 12:24 pm


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First published June 27

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Chris Gallagher, Director, Tasmanian Writers' Centre
14.08.17 7:09 pm


First published August 7

Dear Writers and Readers,

As we gear up for the Centre’s largest event, our TASMANIAN WRITERS AND READERS FESTIVAL 2017 the Centre goes into festival mode. Between now and October our standard Writas and This Writing Month newsletters will be replaced by these weekly Festival Update E-Bulletins - you can expect to receive this every Monday! We do know there is a need to keep up with other industry news and opportunities, so during this time we reccomend you keep an eye on the Tasmanain Writers Centre Events page where we will upload events and opportunities coming up:

Our Festival Marketing team has been busy and on the weekend we launched the first of our weekly Facebook Prizes, have you seen it yet? Head to our Facebook page to enter before August 13th for your chance to win a Golden Ticket - this will give you a free pass to all Saturday and Sunday sessions at the Festival!

Our full festival program will go live and be on sale on 11th August and a printed program will be inserted in the Mercury’s Tas Weekend on 12th August. There are still lots of opportunities to get involved by volunteering at the Festival. The call-out and sign up for volunteering is open on our Festival Volunteer page. If you enoy receiving the latest Festival updates encourage your friends to sign up for our festival free newsletters via our website now.

The countdown is on, we can’t wait to tell you on Friday about all the sessions we have planned!


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Announcement of 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes longlists

Elise Archer, Speaker of the House of Assembly Liberal Member for Denison
12.08.17 6:56 am

Today I was delighted to announce the longlists for the Tasmania Book Prize and the Margaret Scott Prize as part of the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes on behalf of the Premier.

These longlists are a fascinating and diverse collection of high calibre writing and a great starting point for people who want to read Tasmanian stories or work written by Tasmanian authors.

They include literary fiction, writing about politics and society, travel writing, poetry, histories and graphic novels. The judges noted that the longlists demonstrate the rich diversity of Tasmanian writing and reading culture at this point in time.

The prizes are judged by an independent panel from the literary sector, chaired by Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart.

Longlist for the Tasmania Book Prize for the best book with Tasmanian content in any genre - $25 000

· Losing Streak: How Tasmania was Gamed by the Gambling Industry by James Boyce, published by Black Inc;

· The Diemenois: Being the Correct and True Account of the Sensational Escape,Seclusion and Cruel Demise of a Most Infamous Man by J W Clennett, published by Hunter Publishers;

· Archipelago of Souls by Gregory Day, published by Pan Macmillan Australia;

· Solomon’s Noose: The True Story of Her Majesty’s Hangman of Hobart by Steve Harris,published by Melbourne Books;

· Physick by Pete Hay, published by Shoestring Press;

· The Better Son by Katherine Johnson, published by Ventura Press;

· Wild Island by Jennifer Livett, published by Allen & Unwin;

· Fall of the Derwent by Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward, published by A Published Event;

· Musquito: Brutality and Exile by Michael Powell, published by Fullers Publishing;

· Into the Heart of Tasmania by Rebe Taylor, published by Melbourne University Publishing.

Longlist for the 2017 Margaret Scott Prize for best book by a Tasmanian writer - $5 000

· The Shape of Water by Anne Blythe-Cooper, published by Forty South Publishing;

· In Brazil by Fran Bryson, published by Scribe Publications;

· Woven Landscape: Connections in the Tasmanian Midlands, written and published by Peter E Davies;

· A History of Port Davey, South West Tasmania, Volume One: Fleeting Hopes by Tony Fenton, published by Forty South Publishing;

· The White Room Poems by Anne Kellas, published by Walleah Press;

· South Pole: Nature and Culture by Elizabeth Leane, published by Realktion Books;

· Shadows in Suriname by Margaretta Pos, published by Forty South Publishing;

· The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, published by Allen & Unwin;

· Down the Dirt Roads by Rachael Treasure, published by Penguin Random House;

· Crocoite by Margaret Woodward, published by A Published Event.

The judges will now move on to the challenging task of selecting the final shortlists for the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes from these longlisted titles.

The shortlists will be announced at a reception on the mainstage at the Theatre Royal on Thursday, 14 September 2017 as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ and Readers’ Festival.

The shortlists announcement will also include the $5 000 University of Tasmania Prize for the best new unpublished literary work by an emerging Tasmanian writer and the $5 000 Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship.

The winners of all the prizes will be announced at an event at Government House in late 2017.

For more information about the Premier’s Literary Prizes visit

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Fortune Favours Favourite Son

Paula Xiberras
05.08.17 6:04 am


Environmental romance author Jennifer Scoullar has set her latest novel in historical Tasmania.  When we chat, Jennifer tells me ‘it’s a project she has been keen on for a long time’. She adds ‘there is something iconic about Tasmania and its strong investment in the wilderness’. During the writing of the book she made several trips down to Tassie, a trip she always enjoys.

An interesting aspect of this book is Jennifer letting us inside the thoughts of a Tasmanian tiger called Coorina. We see events from Coorina’s point of view. In fact animals are given a strong presence in the book as a whole and in some cases have more humane characteristics than some of the human characters.

The books main protagonist Luke Tyler, a young man with a seemingly dream future which falls to pieces when he attempts to avenge his sister’s honour by confronting her assaulter, a well - respected man of the community. For his intervention Luke is sent to a prison farm in the highlands of Tasmania for over a decade.

Not willing to spend such a long time in gaol he escapes and is able to find safety and protection from Daniel Campbell, an environmentalist. Jennifer says Daniel’s character is based on the life of, Rev Henry Dresser Atkinson one of the first Tasmanian environmentalists in the early days of the colony. Luke begins a romance with Campbell’s daughter before the authorities find him again and he must run. This time he goes further afield to South Africa where he continues his interest in animal conservation and starts an animal reserve. Achieving fame in his field he has an opportunity to revisit his Tasmanian homeland as a respected conservationist and in doing so reacquaints himself with both old friends and also confronts old enemies.

Fortune’s son is out now published by Penguin Books.

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Award-winning actor Noeline Brown shares the colourful social history of the 1960s in new book

NLA Publishing
03.08.17 2:18 pm

Award-winning actor Noeline Brown shares the colourful social history of the 1960s in new book!

The sixties was a decade of safari suits, shift dresses, capri pants and droopy moustaches. Of French onion soup, junket, tripe and Bloody Marys. Of success on the world’s sporting stage and of social and political stirrings at home, as Baby Boomers and their parents began to see the world differently.

In the new book Living the 1960s (NLA Publishing, 1 October, $39.99), award-winning and much loved actor Noeline Brown provides a colourful social history on what life was really like in 1960s Australia. Told with her trademark dry sense of humour and storyteller’s gift, Noeline explores the politics, sport, arts, social tribes, music, fashion, women and family, and city life that defined the era. Her personal stories complement the well-researched historical narrative.

Containing more than 160 images, and combining entertaining social history, fact boxes and lively anecdotes, Living the 1960s paints a picture of a decade that didn’t just swing—it twisted, stomped and screamed. For Noeline, as for a generation of Australians, it was the most important decade of her life. Living the 1960s is a trip down memory lane for Australians who experienced the sixties and an entertaining social history for those who want to know what it was like to live it.

Noeline Brown is an award-winning actor and doyenne of Australian show business. She came to national prominence on the set of the satirical The Mavis Bramston Show in 1964, building a career as both a comedian and a renowned dramatic actor in sitcoms, films, radio shows and plays. She has twice stood as a candidate in New South Wales state elections and was appointed Australia’s first Ambassador for Ageing.

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Reviewed! The Memory of genocide in Tasmania ...

Paige Turner (aka Rachel Edwards)
03.08.17 6:45 am


The Memory of genocide in Tasmania, 1803 – 2013,
Scars on the Archive
Jesse Shipway
RRP $135

The Memory of Genocide in Tasmania is a daunting, exhausting and devastating book that examines genocide and modernity and the attempt to desecrate Aboriginal culture in Tasmania. It looks at the delusions that have led generations of Tasmanians to consider that the palawa people were extinct and sharply interrogates how Tasmanians interpret the island and its myriad cultures.

The only thing this review can do though, is to skim the surface and to over-simply the hard wrought arguments. This book, as a result of the dense academic language, is destined for a small readership. Despite that, it is an incredibly important book. It includes a consideration of Tasmania as a collective noun, a challenge to “imaginary imputations of islandness,’ and a thorough exploration of the theories of genocide. There are moments of deliciously acerbic turns of phrase and it is shot through with profoundly detailed analysis. It is often the most difficult books that afford us the most change.

Shipway questions why we believe we should have a history that we should feel good about, he names Tasmanians as having an “exorbitant frontier privilege,” an “unjustified belief in our own innocence,” and a “a schmaltzy fondness for cozy smallness”. There are close readings of Richard Flanagan’s novel Gould’s Book of Fish, which he slices through a Freudian filter, explaining how the novel echoes a move towards modernity. He challenges the notion of modernity as being endemic to larger, progressive cities and he closely examines the 1978 film, The Last Tasmanian. This is a film whose offense has rightly endured, as its conveys the archaic belief that there was no living aboriginal culture in Tasmania.

There is a rigorous intellectual debate around whether genocide occurred in Tasmania and much of this is around semantics and technical definitions. It is also the site of what appears to be an academic stoush, where Shipway takes on Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements and their interpretation of the history of this island and their claims that it was not genocide. While the extent of Reynold’s work is considered and lauded, there are some fairly acute barbs.

It is lamentable that we must have the conversations this book forces on us, though it is necessary. Tasmanians must face the past to move on, and face it with a fearless and honest desire to probe and question. I also lament that this book is so densely theoretical and at times, difficult to read, as it is seminal. While it may be an insult to the author, I sincerely hope he can bring these deeply considered and researched notions to a more general readership, with the same succulent writing that often shines through.

Tasmanians still have a long journey ahead in terms of true reconciliation, especially with the incumbent generations of leaders having grown up being fed misinformation by the education department, heirs to a lazy acceptance of the 18th century historians who presented the traditional owners as past, whereas the reality is they have been present on this island for around 2000 generations.

The latest reviews ... Paige loves books HERE

Rachel reviewed Seven Stories (and Australia Day) - in The Weekend Australian’s Review last weekend ...

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Black Inc Books: October new releases ...

Black Inc. Books
01.08.17 10:24 am


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Australia’s Assault on Norfolk Island ...

Chris Nobbs
31.07.17 6:54 pm

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Get set for the 2017 Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival, 6 – 17 September

Chris Gallagher, Tasmanian Writers' Centre
28.07.17 1:21 pm


I’m thrilled to bring you the first details of our TASMANIAN WRITERS AND READERS FESTIVAL with our international guest and our masterclass program!

Professor A. C. Grayling from the UK will deliver the Festival Opening Address on Thursday evening, 14th September at the Theatre Royal. His address, titled The Challenge of Freedom, will add an international context to the Festival theme Other Worlds in Words. A. C. will appear with Tasmanian philosopher and Distinguished Professor, Jeff Malpas and award-winning author, Heather Rose …

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Black Inc Books: August releases ...

Black Inc. Books
28.07.17 6:55 am


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Recreating the authentic dialogue of the time

Paula Xiberras
21.07.17 6:41 am


Recently I spoke to Mark Eyles, the author of ‘Marys Ireland’, the first in a trilogy about Mary Cannon, a young woman working in a pub in nineteenth century Ireland when she meets and falls in love with a Polish sailor Walenty or ‘Nikodo’.

The novel is set when Poland is under Russian occupation which is juxtaposed with Ireland under British rule. Life is difficult for Mary and her family losing two sisters, one in infancy and another in early adulthood, the latter along with her mother, passing away from common illnesses of the time. There is the constant panic to keep everything spotlessly clean to prevent the spread of germs leading to illness.

The family has little materially but there is plenty of fun and sparring in their home. As is to be expected in an Irish family the characters are colourful, including the neighbour Mrs Shannon who like the river is able to seep into the very fabric of the family.

A mixture of Catholicism married well with superstition co exists in Mary’s Ireland. The family are staunch church goers which helps them through their difficult times, as Mark says during our chat ‘illness and faith’ often go together. Even in this religious environment Mary still holds belief in curses such as that perceived from the local police officer Griffin.

Although political themes run through the book it is ultimately a love story, of love for family and country and for Mary love for her Polish beau.

There are some lovely expressions from Mary describing her reaction to the sailor such as ‘’you have given me a tummy full of bumble bees and dragons’. An expression suggesting both lightness and fiery passion.

We some slightly politically incorrect humour from one of Mary’s brothers when he attempts to describe Mary’s beaus steadfastness and nationality to Mrs Shannon.

When he says “Nikoda will not be rushin’ anywhere because he is standing still, …because he is a Pole”.

This is a novel of both tragedy and joy and the triumph of faith and love. Mark Eyles has done a fantastic job also in recreating the authentic dialogue of the time.

Mary’s Ireland is out now published by Aurora House

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Sunday, 30 July 2017, 2pm: Luke Agati’s Strutting the Stage launch

Lucinda Sharp Director, FORTY SOUTH PUBLISHING Pty Ltd
20.07.17 1:42 pm


Samson and Cordelia Cameron (husband and wife actors from Britain) are credited as the founders of theatrical entertainment in Tasmania. In 1833 the couple performed a series of “dramatic amusements” for Hobart’s most “respectable citizens” at the Freemasons Hotel (the site now occupied by the Welcome Stranger Hotel) in Hobart.

And so we’re returning to the WELCOME STRANGER HOTEL for the launch of Luke Agati’s Strutting the Stage (a ground-breaking history of the first 25 years of Tasmanian theatre). 

LAUNCH: Sunday, 30 July 2017, 2.00pm (for 2.30pm) - hosted by the Friends of the Theatre Royal

TO BE LAUNCHED BY the delightful and talented Jane Longhurst, award-winning Tasmanian actor, broadcaster, voice artist and presenter.

So if you’re a “respectable citizen” (or better still, if you’re disreputable citizen or a stage-door Johnny), please come along and join us - no need to RSVP.



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Love’s Labour’s Lost and Found

Paula Xiberras
19.07.17 8:07 am


I spoke to author Glenn Dixon recently about his book ‘Juliet’s Answer’. Glenn was jaded by love and even though he had specialised in teaching the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to students for many years, he didn’t believe in a love dictated by fate. In his musings in ‘Juliet’s Answer’ he dissects love to a scientific process rather than an emotional one.

Perhaps in the hopes he will be proved wrong and real love does exist he visits Verona, the city which arguably gave us the purest example of love in fiction, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Ironically, in Glenn’s travels in that city he discovers that what he thought was fiction was in instead based on historical fact.

Glenn learns from one of Juliet’s ‘secretaries’ (the people that reply to letters sent to Juliet) that 300 years before Shakespeare’s play Dante mentions the story of the tragic lovers in his ‘Divine Comedy’ canto 106-108.

Each year the lovelorn send their letters to Juliet for advice on what they should do in matters of the heart. The letters to Juliet first began arriving at the monastery of Church of San Francesco al Corso, the place reportedly, where Romeo and Juliet married and where Juliet’s sarcophagus rests. At the beginning of the arrival of the letters the ground keeper took care of the mail but eventually an actual office was set up, where a core number of ‘secretaries’ replied on Juliet’s behalf under the auspices of the lovely Giovanna, whose father formed the Juliet society. Glenn joins this band of volunteers, hoping along the way to get his own answer. When he meets Desiree who is also unsure about love he may be on the way to discovering Juliet’s Answer.

‘Juliet’s Answer’ is out now published by Affirm Press.

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Beth’s Blood ties that Bind

Paula Xiberras
15.07.17 5:50 am


I recently spoke to Nicole Sinclair about her novel Bloodlines. Nicole tells me she has never been to Tasmania but she does have friends here including author Robin Mundy. Nicole also includes a Tasmanian character in the novel, that of her Beth’s ex-husband Sam.

Bloodlines, as the name suggests, is the story of the familial ties that bind. Beth our protagonist, has a secret hurt in her past that sees her leave her family home that she shares with her father and move to Papua New Guinea to live a completely different life as a teacher. Ironically, it is Beth that is taught some lessons about life.

The post-colonial setting in New Guinea is juxtaposed with Beth’s separation from her post childhood home of Western Australia. As the new colony is let go to stand alone so Beth lets go of her past and its hidden hurt.

One defining relationship is a fleeting romance she has with a character known as ‘the pirate’ who is a regular visitor to the island. He plunders his way through life, giving love without commitment or complication. This romance shows her, ironically, that bloodlines real or created cannot promise or guarantee a happy ending and that having the courage to form those connections knowing the possible consequences of disappointment is more courageous than leading an uncomplicated life.

‘Bloodlines’ by Nicole Sinclair is out now published by Margaret River Press

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Rainforest Revelations

Paula Xiberras
14.07.17 6:38 am


Elise McCune tells me she has been to Tasmania at least five times and loves the feel of the old buildings and of course MONA.

Earlier this year I spoke to Elise about her first novel ‘Castle of Dreams’ and how its idea originated in the discovery of a real castle in the Queensland rain forests by Elise’s actor daughter, when she was filming there.

The castle was built by Jose Paronella from Catalonia. For a time he worked in the Queensland rainforests and the castle covered in tropical rainforest helped heal his homesickness reminding him of his childhood home. Nowadays the castle is open to the public and a venue for events like weddings.

When the novel starts, the castle is a ruin that is visited by the granddaughter of Rose, one of the sisters who were the original inhabitants of the castle. The other sister was Vivian. The sisters were very close but grew apart after they both fell in love with the same man, a Second World War American soldier.

One of the wonderful features of the book is its subtle clues to the solving of a great mystery involving the sisters as well as seemingly ordinary events that carry great import. An example is an early scene when the sisters enter the bell tower and one of girls falls sustaining non-threatening injuries. This event long forgotten when reading the book details an event that has long reaching repercussions.

There are also beautiful descriptions that in hindsight can be seen as metaphorical such as the anecdote of the egg that is ‘clean and empty’. This again could be easily read over, yet is one of the subtle clues that demonstrates lives fractured like fragile egg shells

With the castle setting and family secrets the novel fits into the gothic genre, but ironically sans the cold and dark of the customary gothic, swapping it instead for tropical rain forest setting. Elise has given us a novel of rare beauty that matches that of the exquisite forest setting.

‘Castle of Dreams’ is out now published by Allen and Unwin

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One woman’s experience of sexual violence ...

Transit Lounge
13.07.17 5:37 pm

New novel sensitively explores one woman’s experience of sexual violence and the silencing of those who feel compelled to speak out.

What happens when a young woman enters a city apartment early morning, with two footballers? Jordi Spence is sixteen years old and lives in outer Melbourne. By daybreak, her world has shifted. Max Carlisle, a troubled AFL star, can’t stop what comes next. And Ruby, a single woman from the apartment block, is left with questions when she sees Jordi leave.

In the remarkable novel Siren (Transit Lounge $29.95), author Rachel Matthews captures the characters of Jordi and her family, the players, and the often loveable inhabitants of a big city with a deceptive lightness of touch that seduces the reader. Siren reveals the often unnoticed life of a city while simultaneously drawing us deep into a dark and troubling world. What happens has an unexpected effect on all those who are both directly and indirectly involved. The result is a powerful and haunting novel about cultural stereotypes and expectations, love, loneliness, family and our struggle to connect. In so many ways, Matthews subtly sounds the siren on sexual violence and its prevalence in our culture.

Melbourne-based author Rachel Matthews works as a VCE English teacher at the Distance Education Centre Vic and as a lecturer at RMIT. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Vinyl Inside (Transit Lounge), a novel set in a caravan park, and a contributor to news media. Her PhD in creative writing (Victoria University) featured an earlier version of Siren.

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Boland from Bega to an even Bigger world

Paula Xiberras
13.07.17 7:19 am


When I catch up with Katherine Boland she is getting into her car after a giving a presentation at Bega Valley local library. This is familiar territory for the Aussie girl whose artistic talent allowed her to explore the world.

Katherine and her family migrated to Australia from England setting up home in Gippsland Victoria but were constantly on the move and living periods overseas including time in a Spanish convent for Katherine.

While Katherine has many international connections, those to Tasmania are strong. Katherine’s ex-husband John Boland now lives at Swansea where he is involved in the sustainable use of the noxious weed gorse in producing briquettes for fuel and removing it from Tasmanian paddocks.

Sustainable living hasn’t been far from Katherine or John’s lives right from when they began their married lives as idealistic hippies the story of these happy halcyon days is covered in Katherine’s autobiography “Hippy Days, Arabian Nights”.

The second phase of Katherine’s life is also covered in the book ... when Katherine is accepted for a number of overseas scholarships and residencies - including one offered by the Egyptian government to complete an art project there.

It was in Egypt that Katherine met her soulmate an Egyptian translator; together they realised no translation is necessary in the language of love. It seems appropriate that at one emotive moment Katherine sang to her love the theme song from the musical West Side Story and is called ‘There’s A Place For Us’.

Katherine’s book is a beautiful one and she ‘exhibits’, pardon the pun, a wonderful talent for writing. So much has she enjoyed this project of writing her memoir that she admits to me she might rate writing in front of the visual arts as her favourite mode of creative expression.

“Hippy Days, Arabian Nights” is out now published by Wild Dingo Press

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times, an extract from Hippy Days, Arabian Nights ...

Wattle and Daub ...

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Deeply distracted

Paula Xiberras
13.07.17 7:17 am


Harlequin novels have certainly adapted over the years. From the early days of tamer romances with an innocent female protagonist seeking a romance with a suave hero or prince, to the very contemporary take with the heroine having her own agenda that might or might not include the hero.

The modern heroine doesn’t mind a little of the inevitable sparring along the way. So it is in Penelope Janu’s novel’ In At The Deep End’ two likeable protagonists are in at the deep end when they become deeply distracted by each other. We are presented with some very heated scenes as the two converge.
Harriet is also in at the deep end of sadness after her parents, celebrated environmental activists are lost in a tragic accident.  Harriet is sailing alone on her ship when it flounders in the Antarctic and a nifty Norwegian sailor named Per rescues her giving her an ultimatum of financing her a new boat if she learns to swim again, under his guidance!  The situation is made even more harrowing as Harriet suffered the loss of her parents at sea and she is psychologically unprepared to swim again.

In spite of Harriet’s sadness the book contains plenty of humour. Penelope tells me she has been teaching young adults until her recent retirement and she is optimistic about the new generation. This optimism is very evident in the story of the talented and intelligent albeit argumentative and occasionally frustrating, Harriet and Per. Penelope loves storytelling because she says within it you can do anything. With her storytelling gift and the discipline and writing skills from her academic career, writing fiction that started as a hobby now becomes a new career path for Penelope.

“In at the deep end” is out now published by Harlequin

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Fears Fade in Festive Florence

Paula Xiberras
12.07.17 6:23 am


Ironically just before I chatted with author Vanessa Carnevale she was holidaying in my home state of Tasmania. Vanessa tells me it was her first trip to Tassie and.that everyone, including the kids enjoyed the lovely drive in Launceston, the Tamar Valley, Vanessa and her family had such a wonderful experience she was disappointed the stay was only five nights! Vanessa has however informed me she has taken some excellent photos and who knows perhaps a book will eventuate sometime in the future.

Interestingly, historically, the Carnevale name might be given to a person who was born around the time of a carnival or had a ‘carnival’ or ‘celebratory spirit’. A name ironically, well suited to the topic of the novel, that of celebrating life.  Vanessa tells me ‘The Florentine Bridge’ was written on Saturday afternoons over a six week period.

Vanessa’s novel is about Mia, a young artist who is recovering from cancer, still feeling very fragile and afraid of the possible return of her illness. Her life, so long on hold, she tentatively resumes, by taking a visit to Italy to kick-start her artistic career.

Mia meets mechanic Luca, perhaps symbolically he is the man who can mend her spirit and put her back on the road of life again. He helps Mia see that she cannot live in fear for what might happen especially when she suddenly feels poorly and fears she is ailing once again. These feelings prove unfounded and just when Mia is beginning to flourish without fear an event occurs that once again shows Mia the fragility of life.

The novel focuses on some deep themes but also includes some light hearted moments such as the Italian cure for toothache … garlic!

‘The Florentine Bridge’ is out now published by Harlequin.

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Fullers Bookshop: The Vandemonian War ...

Fullers Bookshop
11.07.17 9:07 am


3 August at 17:30–18:30

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Tasmanian Writers’ Centre: Q&A with James Dryburgh

Tasmanian Writers' Centre
11.07.17 7:14 am

James Dryburgh takes notes during a visit to South America

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Revolutionaries: Now on Kickstarter.

Rising Phoenix Studios Director, Nathan Tucker
08.07.17 6:36 am


Rising Phoenix Studios is pleased to announce it has partnered with Make Believe Games to bring on board several young Tasmanian emerging writers and artists to participate in the production of their latest game. Revolutionaries is an exciting new tabletop game set on the battlefields of the American Revolution on Kickstarter now.

Tabletop gaming is a hybrid art medium where creative writing, design and visual art collide, seamlessly combining narratives, oral storytelling, graphic art and acting into an unparalleled immersive and interactive collaborative experience. It is a thriving industry seeing incredible new innovation and growth.

Our artists have not only received their first paid opportunities in the gaming sector but also gained direct mentorship from the Make Believe Games team. Mark Rein-Hagen, CEO of Make Believe Games, is one of the industry’s greatest innovators. His contributions to publishing, tabletop game design, video games and film & tv offers a wealth of immeasurable experience that our artists can learn from.

Rising Phoenix Studios is proud to be involved in this exciting project and we look forward to seeing these artists develop their careers and thrive.

Rising Phoenix Studios Director, Nathan Tucker, has been awarded an Artsbridge travel grant from Arts Tasmania to attend GenCon, the premiere gaming convention in the USA to market the game and deliver a panel presentation to the gaming sector.

If you can support these young artists or spread the word, it would be greatly appreciated.

Find out more here

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Healing with Heart

Paula Xiberras
07.07.17 8:07 am


It’s lovely catching up with Fiona McArthur again this time to discuss her novel ‘Heart of the sky’. As is usually the case the title says it all, this is a novel with real heart, whether with the friendships between the majority female characters or through the care of Tess Daley for her patients.

The novel, Fiona tells me was inspired by the work of The McGrath Foundation and its breast care nurses that are located the breadth of Australia providing all patients no matter where they live with the best of care and support.

In a novel about healing in its many forms our protagonist Tess is seeking her own healing after losing her husband Victor and so she joins The Flying Doctors working out of Mica Ridge.

The novel is also the continuing story of the female protagonists we met in ‘The Homestead Girls’ although this novel can be read as a stand-alone book. Fiona has cleverly given us women of different stages of life each bringing with them the hopes and aspirations for love and happiness. Joining Tess as a new border at the homestead is Charlie, who as the resident male has his own connected story to play out.

Fiona is passionate about highlighting women’s health, whether it be as a midwife, tackling domestic violence or in this case the role of breast care nurses, Fiona tells me she wanted to show the patients in the novel as making informed choices for their treatment. For rural women there are additional difficult choices of whether they can leave their farm for a variety of different treatment options. Fiona doesn’t stress a right or wrong decision but wants to see the patients given control in a situation that can leave them feeling they don’t have any.

‘Heart of the Sky’ is out now published by Penguin

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Diving into Delicious Deception

Paula Xiberras
07.07.17 8:04 am


‘Twist’ is a stand-alone novel but also the next instalment in the Dive bar series by Kylie Scott.

I recently chatted to Kylie about ‘Twist’ and other things including her love for Tasmania. Kylie tells me she loves Tasmania and would love to move here. Over 20 years ago she fell in love with Hobart, its markets and the harbour.

Kylie says before settling on writing she had varied careers including, personal assistant, receptionist at an insurance brokerage, a nanny and a bartender in the Greek islands. Kylie also worked as a shop assistant and a florist in a country town.

It was in the latter job of florist in a small town that she found there was not a lot to do ‘once the buckets had been washed’ and so she began writing. She backed up her interest in writing with some courses at the Queensland writers centre from there she joined The Romance Writers of Australia

The latest novel, true to its name, has a definite twist. Our protagonist Alex Parks meets Joe, a bartender, whom she believes is her perfect match on line and decides to go and surprise him in the flesh. When she arrives at the bar she discovers Joe is not the man she has been emailing but instead it is his brother who has been corresponding with her. What follows is some first class sparring between the mistakenly matched couple. It takes many twists and turns with plenty of humour and a touch of tragedy before the novel reaches its conclusion.

Twist by Kylie Scott is out now published by Pan Macmillan

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