Archive for June, 2011

Off again!

June 19, 2011

Off today on more school visits, one for every day off this week. But this time they’re around the Sydney area, so I get to come home at the end of the day. I have a new tyre to replace the one that blew out last week, I have a new load of Worldshakers arrived for selling, and I think my throat is recovered and ready for the next bout of talks.

I really enjoyed visiting Wadalba Community School, Kariong Mountains High School and Henry Kendall High School last week. I was fascinated by the new security gadgets they have at schools nowadays – students who arrive late have to sign in on a fingerprint machine!

End of Continuum, and after

June 16, 2011

I never finished my blog on Continuum. What I remember is a panel on steampunk where I got savaged by Catherynne Valente, Dave Cake and Stephanie Lai – I wasn’t ready for all three of them to gang up on me and attack steampunk! it didn’t help that I was meant to be the moderator and therefore giving everyone a fair chance to speak. Oh well, it was lively I guess, but I could have wished the sides had been more equal. Much of the time, it felt as though we were talking about totally different books. I probably should’ve asked everyone to name the books they were arguing on at the start.

Monday was dominated by the Chilean volcano that had sent up it’s ash cloud, closed off all flights from Melbourne on the previous day and looked likely to do the same for Monday. With travel for school visits starting on Tuesday, I was really worried – a worry that overhung the rest of the con, even though I enjoyed some great panels and some great chats with friends over food and coffee. But then came the latest status update, that my evening flight had been cleared, though an hour delayed – I headed out to Avalon on the shuttle bus, and yippee, it wasn’t even delayed. So I arrived in Sydney in time to catch the train and get back home just after midnight.

Then it was unpack, re-pack, and parcel up books for schools. I managed to get it all done in time, drove off and spent the night in Sydney at my sister-in-law’s. I managed to forget my watch, then my Navman died on me, and as I was on my way to my first school on the Central Coast, I got a flat tyre. Luckily, it was in a lull in the drenching rain, and I had time to spare. So I arrived at Wyong with a changed tyre and all was well.

Today I’m at a B & B in Gosford – actually more like staying with a family – a great little place called Wombats. I did another school visit today, and I drive back after a third tomorrow. Keeping busy!

Continuum, Ssturday

June 16, 2011

Saturday was the day of going out eating and drinking with people. First,out for coffee in the morning, then a cheapy Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, then with Jack and Janeen and a gang of friends for dinner at a Greek restaurant. The banquets at the Greek restaurant was amazing – course after course after course – must’ve been at least twelve courses. We were all falling by the wayside before we got through them all. Plus good wine, good conversation … I’ve decided that going out eating and drinking with friends is one of the things I like best about cons. (At Swancon in Perth, I did way too much eating in my room – very convenient but not very sociable)

I had a string of three panels in the afternoon, one after the other. First was the best, because it had a large audience. The second had a tiny audience mainly because the time had been shifted and nobody knew it was on – including one of the panelists. The last had a small audience, but then it ran from 6.00 to 7.00, not a good timeslot. Good debate in all … I suppose I expect panels to be lively and fun with audience interaction, so it no longer surprises me when they are.

Going to the Greek restaurant meant I missed most of the maskoballo – but then I didn’t have a costume anyway. I got back in time for three quarter of an hour’s dancing before the midnight shutdown. Didn’t go to a room party after – I must be getting old!

Continuum Friday

June 16, 2011

I’m back in Melbourne, not for school visits but the Continuum convention. The weather is dry and sunny here, whereas it’s rainy and cold and miserable back in Wollongong.

First night of the con was hectic, because my plane was an hour late and I had to rush out, find a supermarket and buy things for the launch of Liberator. I had the smart idea of using my wheely suitcase to transport all the bottles of sparkling apple cider (non-alcoholic, because the hotel wouldn’t allow alcohol brought in), which turned out not a totally smart idea, when wheeling the suitcase over the pavement shook up the fizz! I had a disaster with the first bottle opened – after that I unscrewed the caps just a little and let the fizz escape gradually. Still made a bit of a mess but not so bad.

The launch was an uphill battle – so many people gathered in the foyer, but not for a launch. Luckily I had Jack Dann to do the launching – the one person who can rise out above a hubbub and focus a crowd’s attention. So he got everyone listening, said some great things about Liberator, then we did a short reading, Jack and Janeen and myself. We had a big stuffed toy dog to represent Murgatrude, and a doll with hair cut off labelled Antrobus to represent Col’s baby brother. Plus a wastepaper bin to represent Murgatrude’s basket – as Mr Gibber, I had to sit in it. I think everyone enjoyed it, though we had to really raise our voices when a new surge of people talking came into the foyer.

What wasn’t so good was when we had to cut short prematurely. Confusion among the organisers, because we’d been told we could run over time, but then one organizer started giving wind-up signals exactly on the hour. Jack reckoned he didn’t have the chance to follow through properly, that is, convert people’s interest into actual book buying. I was disappointed with the sales – not as many Liberators as I’d expected, though more Worldshakers. Perhaps because Justin offered a discount on both books, but not on Liberator alone. Maybe my expectations were too high, because Justin seemed satisfied enough.

Later the same evening was the Great Debate, on whether immortality would be a good thing. I proved scientifically – with the aid of a graph – that it wasn’t, but we lost anyway. All good fun and humorous, of course.

Later again, a steampunk panel, with Janeen Webb and Dave Freer and myself. We wandered off into other subjects at times, like the increase of fishing stocks during wartime – but hey, that’s interesting too!

More panels tomorrow.

On a French Roll!

June 6, 2011

Another award in France! Yippee! Hot on the heels of the Tam-Tam, this time it’s the Prix Lucioles, decided by a jury of eight readers! I don’t know any more than that as yet.

Meanwhile, the Tam-Tam Je Bouquine has been formally conferred, and my French publisher, Sophie Giraud of Hélium was there to accept it. Here’s the webpage –

That probably won’t be very readable, but in the bottom panel, the jury members say things like:
Pauline, 12: “Amazing, lots of suspense, we go into another universe and then forget to go to school!”
Valérie, 15: “An unforgettable kiss!” [that’s Col and Riff in Chapter 12]
Paul, (7th grade): “Beautiful story, beautiful writing … we are immediately hooked!”
Michael, 13: “[I voted for this novel] because I do not like science-fiction, but I loved this novel, half science-fiction, half adventure, with a love story stuck in the middle!”
Louise, 13: “Worldshaker moved me because these two characters should never have met one another. And Col is really brave to confront his family to defend other people’s freedom. Amazing also to settle a whole world on a boat! I can’t wait to read the sequel.”

Tam Tam Award

June 5, 2011

Yay! WORLDSHAKER has been out a year in France, and it’s just picked up a very important award – THE most important award for YA fiction, according to the Allen & Unwin agent in Paris. The Tam Tam award is voted on by a jury of young readers, and they picked Worldshaker! Formidable!

Here’s the link –

The Moment!

June 5, 2011

29-30 May. You know those special moments when everything just comes together perfectly? Happened for me driving back from Apollo Bay – when the cloud at the start of the day evaporated and the sun came out. I stopped in at Lorne, a lovely little seaside town on the coast – beaches and a pier, white combers on a blue sea, backed up by green hills. I called in at a bookshop that had copies of Liberator, and Lindy and Brenda recommended a place to go for coffee near the sea. It was down a dirt track – a sort of kiosk cafe with the sea on one side, lagoon on the other, right by one end of a wooden suspension bridge across the mouth of the river. just magic to sit there at a table under an umbrella, drinking coffee and eating a yummy carrot cake muffin. A little bit of heaven on earth!

Today – Monday – I overcame a tickle in the throat and managed not to cough while giving 3 talks at two schools in Geelong. Aileen rang me tonight to tell me I’ve won a Tam Tam award (not sue if that’s how it’s written) for YA readers – the top French award decided by young readers themselves. Wow! My French publishers are reprinting immediately, so that says something about what it means. Cant wait to get WiFi access so I can read the details myself.

At the moment, I’m typing this up but I can’t send it.