Archive for May, 2011

A weekend off

May 29, 2011

It’s been non-stop school visits for the last week, from Eden to Gippsland to Melbourne. I’ve managed to cop a cold, which I can’t shift by gargling brandy. So long as I don’t lose my voice or develop an unstoppable cough. Between school visits I’ve been zooming round bookshops as fast as I can.

Friday was a real pain in the bum. After a school visit in Hawthorn, I parked at Tooronga station, and took the train in to the city bookshops. Coming back, there was an announcement – ‘due to a level crossing accident, buses will replace trains between Burnley and Darling’. So we all got out, all headed to the wrong street on the wrong side of the station because no one was giving directions. Then, when we moved across to the right side, there were no buses … And there kept on being no buses for an hour. An hour, for crying out loud!

Meanwhile, more and more trains were terminating and distorting their passengers. When a single bus turned up – one bus for a couple of hundred people! – it stopped in the wrong place so that only those who’d arrived in the last train or two got on. Another ten-fifteen minutes wait, and the announcement came that the train on platform four would take us on – they’d cleared the track.

It was well after nine when I reached Apollo Bay, found the unmarked car park and squelched through rain and mud to my motel. Today was much better – I slept in, did nothing much at all for a couple of hours, then drove to the Twelve Apostles – or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as the service station lady has renamed them, since several have collapsed into the sea. But they’re still very very impressive.


May 25, 2011

I forgot to mention my night of he’ll in Eden. Maybe I’m trying to repress the memory. I stayed in a motel I’d booked, curled up in the sheets and dropped off. Half an hour later, I woke up itching around the ankles and wrists, later on the forehead too. It felt like mosquito bites, but no sound of mosquitoes. So I snuggled down deeper, but the itching got worse. It was in my bloodstream, somehow, and I couldn’t fall asleep. When I looked at myself in the mirror in the middle of the night, there was a great welt on my forehead, another on my wrist.

Is that the symptom for bedbugs? You’re supposed to get a line of orchids, but I didn’t have that. Maybe some sort of sandfly. There was nothing I could see in the sheets.

In the end I moved across to the second bed, and wrapped myself up in the quilt on top of the blankets. Didn’t trust the sheets! I knocked myself out with sleeping pills and managed a couple of hours sleep before I had to get up for my Eden school visit.

It spoiled my associations for Eden, which is a lovely place really, a traditional fishing port, and the school was great too. Must go back and appreciate it some other time.

Travellin’ Man

May 25, 2011

I’m in Gippsland in the south-east of Victoria – staying in the same motel for three nights, which has to be a record. I have to drive fifty-sixty kilometers in different directions to reach my schools … Still, it’s pleasant not to be forever loading and unloading the car. Especially since the weather here is stop-start showers a dozen times a day.

I’m gargling brandy like mad – medical purposes, for the good of my throat. Doing so many talks, my throat gets sore, so I need to anaesthetize it with alcohol!

Melbourne has become the disappointing part of this trip – only three schools, and often only part of the day. Whereas, outside of Melbourne, I’m visiting eight schools and almost always filling up the whole day. Very interesting- I’ve always said that regional schools appreciate an author visit more.

I won’t be short of things to do in Melbourne, though. I’ll need to spend every spare part of every day visiting bookshops, plus I’ve got a lunch with my publisher tomorrow week. Important discussion coming up!

Aurealis Award – lucky me!

May 21, 2011

Wow! Total surprise at the Aurealis Awards last night. It’s the first time it’s been held in Sydney, and I got to present the YA awards. Anyway, I ran into Nyssa Pascoe on the way to the venue, and she told me she’d been one of the Horror Awards judges, which I hadn’t known. I said something like ‘So you know if I won?’, and she said something like ‘I can’t reveal anything.’ The way she said it, I was sure I hadn’t won! I’d thought I maybe had a chance, but I gave up hope there and then.

Thanks, Nyssa! Because it was all the more amazing when I did win after all!! Wow! And over such competition. My story, “The Fear” is one of the best I’ve ever written, but the shortlist was full of great stories. (Including one by Rob Hood – I’m not giving my Aurealis away, but I really wish Rob would win one. He so much deserves too, he must have come within a whisker dozens and dozens of times).

“The Fear” came out in MACABRE and it’s just been reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s US anthology, BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR # 3. The antho cover looks like this –

Congrats to all the other winners! Especially including the members of our ROR critique group – Tansy won Best Fantasy Novel, Marianne won best SF novel, and Margo won best YA Short Story. Not bad for a gang of eight!

Kinross Walleroi School.

May 20, 2011

Another beautiful day, though I don’t know I’d like to be out right now (8 p.m.). Today was a school visit to Kinross Walleroi (hope I spelled that right). Small groups, but the enthusiasm more than made up for that. I ran out of books to sell, though I’ll be doing delayed orders, posting signed books by mail.

Seems strange to think that the trip to Orange will be over after a morning visit to James Sheahan School early tomorrow. But then – brief interruption while I do a presentation at the Aurealis Awards – it’s on down the Princes Highway to Eden the Gippsland then Melbourne. My life is lived in cars and motel rooms. I only come alive for actually doing talks! Wish I could have some kind of automatic pilot take over the rest of the time!

Arrived in Orange

May 20, 2011

I arrived in Orange last night, ready for the next two schools. A later start this morning, so I’m writing this blog entry even though I can’t publish it. Last motel I had free WiFi, but this one I don’t, free or otherwise. So frustrating!

Today looks like being the same sort of day as yesterday – freezing cold to start with, then turning into blue sky and sunny day. There was a freezing fog at Bathurst yesterday morning (I didn’t get up to look out today), but it turned into perfect weather later on.

I visited Mary Mackillop College yesterday, and did four talks to years 7, 8, 9 and 10. About four hundred students, almost the whole school! The students were great and I really enjoyed myself. But I must work on my timing – I set my watch alarm to go off twelve minutes before the end of every period, and still managed to run out of time four times over.

No WiFi so I can’t check my email … And last night my other favourite technology let me down too. I planned to go to a restaurant, finishing up a bottle of wine that I opened for my cheese and salami dinner in last night’s motel room. (Such great wine that I went back to Dan Murphys and bought another 6 bottles after the school visit.) But my Navman didn’t recognize the part of the street where the street numbers of my 2 possible restaurants were … Even though it’s the main street of Orange, Summer Street! Oh, Karen, you fickle betraying voice in my Navman!

Even when I asked someone and got directions, I couldn’t see any numbers on the shop fronts (see, Karen is normally so good about knowing every number on every street!) so I gave up and got a pizza from Pizza Hut. They wouldn’t let me bring my own wine, so I had pizza and wine watching TV in my room.

Ah, the traveller’s life!

Mackillop College

May 19, 2011

Hi to all the students at Mackillop College! Really enjoyed my visit yesterday. Great shcool! I had a whole long message typed up on my iPad, but I don’t have WiFi, so I’m just typing this short message on a school computer. If you want to post a comment, it should be ok to do it as a comment on this message!

All the best

New Tour

May 17, 2011

Had to drag myself away from GarageBand – ever since I put the app on my iPad I can’t stop playing around with it. Totally addictive! My favourite thing at the moment is to set up a smart drums beat and then play the rocks roots guitar over and around it. But no, I,m blogging so I shall blog.

It’s the start of the next burst of tours and school visits. Today I did a talk – just the one – at St Columba’s in the Blue Mountajns (Springwood). It’s an amazing school, an old monastery, and entering it is like entering an old stone castle.

I barely got there itime because I lost my car in the Westfield car park at Penrith. I love my Navman, but I wish there was some device to navigate me when I’m out of my car back to where I parked it.

Anyway, talk was great fun – amazing how quickly I slip back into the groove – and by moving it over into questions from the Year 9 students – really good questions – I ran it ine for nearly an hour and a half.

Now I’m at my motel in Bathurst – a basic sort of room, with the great advantage of free wifi. I think the temperature tonight is forecast to drop to a couple of degrees below zero. Yikes! it’s like England all over again. There’ll be frost in the morning … Hopefully the shower will be good and hot.

Orange is the next stop after Bathurst, so probably even colder again there.

After this trip, the very next week I head south for Eden, then Warragul, then Sale, two Melbourne schools, then Geelong, then three more Melbourne schools, then Shepparton on the way back to Wollongong. I’ve got plans for the weekend in the middle – I’m going to drive west, stay at Apollo Bay, and finally get to see the Twelve Apostles before any more of them collapse into the sea.


May 1, 2011

It’s the day! First of May, and the official release date for LIBERATOR. There’s been so much interest in the WORLDSHAKER sequel! The Illawarra Mercury ran a wonderful feature on the book (and its author) yesterday – a two page spread with a heap of great photos – and another photo taking up the whole front cover!

Here’s the front cover image, taken by David Tease, master photographer at the Merc.