Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's almost summer (well it's almost the end of winter).

I don't do winter well. It's probably no coincidence that the rather long silence on the blog roughly corresponds to this Sydney winter, which has been extra cold, extra wet and extra miserable.

So it's probably also not a coincidence that having had my first outdoor swim of the new season at North Sydney Olympic Pool today in glorious mid-twenties temperature, I find myself back at the blog and doing a bit of an update.

Much too much to catch up on.

There was a lovely writing residency up at Varuna in the late autumn.

There were log fires, red wine, delicious food, quiet times writing in Eleanor Dark's studio

and long walks, that always seemed to end up somewhere that served good coffee and homemade chocolates.

Then there was the Sydney Writers' Festival where I had a marvellous opportunity to talk about crime with Shamini Flint and Nicole Watson, moderated by Mark Dapin in front of a knowledgable crowd. It was also the opportunity to experience first hand the "Oh my, that other writer's autograph queue is looooong" moment that all writers must face.

In our case, we were up against one of the SWFestival's BIG stars, Michael Cunningham. As our little crime panel wandered in and sat down we saw a long queue, a very long queue. It went out the door and down the stairs of the Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. A few hardy souls of the the criminally minded found their way in and we signed, with delight.

Then as we scurried left the room, past that long, long line, we were waylaid by some delightful audience members clutching our books, unknowingly caught at the back of Mr Cunningham's queue (and possibly thinking to themselves, "Wow, these crime writers are coining it!")

Since then, I've been lucky to have shared microphones with Kirsten Tranter, James Bradley, Georgia Blain and Mardi McConnochie, at a series of "When Genres Attack" events with Shearers Bookshop. These events are an ongoing project that will be growing, and spreading, to many indie bookshops. It's a chance for writers to provide some of that extra je ne sais quoi that customers can get at a bricks and mortar bookshop, that the online experience just can't deliver. And that is, a good night out, in good company, taking part in a good conversation about books, writing, reading, and storytelling in all its forms.

There are more events coming - and I'll be updating the events page in the next day or so.

Then of course there is Book 2, which has been preoccupying my mind as I work through the editorial feedback from my thoughtful and insightful editor Jo Rosenberg. I say pre-occupied, as the winter blues have had me riddled with good old fashioned old self doubt.

Amazing what a difference one afternoon sitting in the warmth of the outdoor office, listening to the churn of the pool with the manuscript on the knees, can make.

Pages were struck through boldly, new bits added, structure starting to take a bit of a hopeful shape. Roll on spring and summer.

One of the many distractions to working on novel structure 24/7 has been my new role as Writer-in-Residence at North Sydney Council.

This has given me a space to work in, at the beautiful Don Bank Museum - a mid 1800s wooden house in North Sydney's CBD, surrounded by high-rise.

It has also given me a project - My Place at The Pool. As part of the North Sydney Olympic Pool's 75th Anniversary, I'm working on a way of collecting words and images about it from the people who love it. Drop in at the blog and add yours.

There is more news, a short story in the works, and an online writing course that's got me rather excited and adding to the deadlinitis, some future teaching news, and more.

But I'll save that for the next blog.

At this stage I'll close with some rather lovely news that arrived this week.

The Old School has been shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award along side two very fine books Line of Sight by David Whish-Wilson, and Prime Cut by Alan Carter (both Western Australian stories and writers!)

Congratulations to both David and Alan, two very fine books. If you haven't read them, go, do it now.

I'm also thrilled that my mate Angela Savage has made it two out of two with her second book, The Half Child, being shortlisted for the main Ned Kelly award. She's side by side with Chris Wormsely's Bereft anGeoffrey McGeachin's  The Diggers Rest Hotel. Angela has written a fabulous book, handling issues of culture and society in Thailand, doing what crime fiction does best.

That's it for now, more soon.