Thursday, May 31, 2012

Billie B Brown - Childhood Fears

Two new Billie books for June!

The ideas behind these two Billie stories came from some of my childhood fears. I love swimming now, but didn't learn to swim until I was almost at the end of primary school, which, for some reason, seemed to be long after everyone else. I still remember that moment of panic when my swimming teacher (who seemed brutally cruel at the time) insisted I jump in and doggie paddle to the other side. Hard to believe that something that comes so naturally now could have been so terrifying for me as a child.

And how about scary movies? I still hate them, but as a child was never brave enough to say so when all my friends wanted to watch them. In fact, I never really got that 'being scared for thrills' thing: rides at the show, horror movies, going fast downhill on your bike. I also remember a period of time at primary school when I was plagued by recurring nightmares and worries. I was a very big worrier as a child. Probably even more so than now. Now, I can think my way out of my fears and worries in a way I wasn't able to as a child.

Adults often forget what a scary place childhood can be, we usually prefer to think of it as a golden time, but you only need to sit with your memories for a while to know that this isn't the case. Remembering these things, and remembering them without trivialising them through an adult's perspective, helps me not only empathise and understand the children in my life, but also the young characters I write about.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Light In Winter

Here's something delightful to do on a wintery Saturday afternoon:

The Weekend Read
As part of The Light in Winter, Fed Square are holding a Weekend Read where together with special guests, you’ll group read the ripping Victorian tale – The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Written by English writer Fergus Hume in 1886 and set in Melbourne, the novel was Australia’s first international bestseller. 
Imagine a cold winter Saturday afternoon, in a friendly venue, a warm drink and a bunch of people happy to hand the book around and each read a few pages until the mystery is solved on the last weekend of the Light in Winter.
 Register at event

It starts this Saturday, June 2nd 2.30 - 5pm and runs until June 29th. I have been asked to "open the reading" on Saturday 16th June, so come along and share a good book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A new cover a new country

Here is the UK cover for Angel Creek. Isn't it gorgeous? Inspired by the wonderful cover by WH Chong  who recently won a couple of awards at the APA 60th Book Design Awards, but with a slightly younger feel. I love it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The ABIA awards or Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

It was party time in Sydney this week and, when sitting in the sunshine on the deck of the Sebel Pier One Hotel, looking across the water at the hub of the writers' festival, I suddenly, desperately wanted to live there. Provided I could have a house by the water, of course, which isn't going to happen any time soon on my royalties, so back to Melbourne I came. (But that's OK. I have the Merri Creek. A little smaller and browner than Sydney's spectacular harbour, but charming all the same.)
For those of you who don't know, The Big Book of Billie was shortlisted for an ABIA**. The awards were presented last night, and my wonderful publishers at Hardie Grant Egmont were kind enough to fly me up for the dinner. I have been telling friends that the ABIAs are a bit like the ARIAs only for books. And less glamourous. And with no rock stars. But with books! All the same, I am happy to report,  the ol' book industry can absolutely turn on the razzle dazzle. Gorgeous frocks and champagne a-plenty. There was even those Logie-style whirling spotlight things as people went up onto the stage to collect their awards, which was quite amusing. I didn't win the award, it was won by the wonderfully talented Emma Quay, but I did get to sit on a table with Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (two of my favourite picture book creators) and a whole lot of fabulous Hardie Grant gals. There were some great speeches (notably Michael Heyward's dedication to the late Diana Gribble) and a few exciting 'celebrity' appearances: Kathy Lette (looking glam), Roddy Doyle (author of one of my all time favourite books 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha') and even Tony Abbott (not quite sure why). Mostly I was impressed by how vibrant, innovative and passionate the Australian Book Industry is, particularly as everybody keeps predicting doom and gloom for the future of the book. If last night was any barometer as to how its future is looking in Australia, I would say it was as sunny as Sydney day by the harbour.

* In memory of the late, great Maurice Sendak.
** ABIA: Australian Book Industry Awards. Not to be confused with the Australian Bridal Industry Awards, or even Australian Battery Industry Association. It's amazing what comes up if you google ABIA.