Give Australian books for Christmas!

Here's a Xmas Book list covering most categories

This is a great list covering fiction, non fiction, YA, poetry etc. All by Australian women and all with links to purchase! I hope it makes the mad scramble easier. Only six weeks to go... I know right ...

Thanks to fellow authors Claire Halliday (who started the ball rolling) and Rachel Watts (who wrote this blog post of our names and books):



My journey to publication interview with Natasha Lester, author

Journey to Publication: Le Chateau

I was pleased to talk about my publication journey with Natasha Lester. Every author has a different story and this is mine. The journey is often long and windy but with persistence you can get there. Keep faith writers!

Image of the interview with Natasha Lester, author of many books including 'Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald'. Please follow the link to read the full article.

The Duke and the Prince: Queensland Poetry Festival 2016

We gathered in the foyer for the music and chatted to the DJ. He asked me what I wanted him to play but didn't have the ‘Station to Station’,  album so couldn't play my absolute favs, but did a good job regardless. It was great to see the LPs and turntables out and playing centre stage.

DJ Zaziz spinning tracks in the foyer bar from 8:30pm
JWC Shopfront

 Mixing board

It was billed as: "No ordinary tribute night". This special Queensland Poetry Festival event will see the work of the two late greats, Prince and Bowie, remixed and responded to in the form of music, spoken word, hip-hop and dance by 'The Stress of Leisure' (duo mode), Zenobia Frost, Eleanor Jackson, jiveswallow, Toby Fitch, Hannah Makk (MKO Sun), Dylan Hoskins, Amrita Hepi, Janet Rogers (Canada), Ben Brown (NZ), and Jeet Thayi (India), hosted by Meg Bartholomew (Ruckus Slam).

Setting the Scene: the poster

Power artwork perfect for the night ahead

We didn't realise at the time but we were mingling with the performers of the evening and would identify people later as they made their way to the stage. The woman with the great purple hued 70s form-hugging dress with two hands attached to the front echoing one of Bowie's Ziggy period costumes was from 'The Stress of Leisure' and the woman with the Ziggy Third eye makeup and tight corset was the feature dancer for their rendition of Sound and Vision.

Meg Bartholomew MC'd the event, resplendent in a sequinned two piece she announced as scratchy. She started with a deliberately squeaky rendition of the ending of ‘Purple Rain’ and announced her allegiance to Prince and did a quick audience survey for bias: "Say ‘Hot thing’ for Prince and 'Let's Dance’ for Bowie,”  and found it was predominantly dancers there. She took this disappointment calmly but asked each performer which 'side' they were placed on the night. I confess my devotion to Bowie but also appreciation of Prince. They both had a huge impact which continues and both deserve celebration as often as possible.

All the performances were interesting, personal and clever, but these were my favourites for various reasons and are skewed towards the musical as that was what I was more in the mood for that night.

Dylan Hoskins launched into a rousing A Cappella version of 'When Doves Cry' . He started in a slow conversational spoken voice highlighting the poetry and identity introspection of the song and built to a stirring and emotional rendition of the famous chorus.

Hannah Makk played an emotive and soulful version of Prince's 'How come U don't call me anymore?' made famous by Alicia Keys. Using keyboard and her soaring and powerful voice to give the lament its full meaning.

The Stress of Leisure (duo mode) played Bowie's 'Sound and Vision' backed up by Jeet Thayi (writer, poet, musician) and the aforementioned dancer who by now had grown some black organza wings to go with her third eye and corset, echoing Bowie's Kansai Yamamoto costumes.

Eleanor Jackson's powerful poem talked about Prince's impact on her childhood, especially seeing his film Purple Rain for the first time on TV in the nineties. How his virtuoso control and group of artists empowered her as a child growing up on the outskirts of Brisbane 'where the newcomers are sent'.

After rejecting all Meg's attempts at intro banter Jiveswallow did an impassioned version of Bowie's 'Looking for Water'. It was an interesting selection showing an appreciation of the breadth of Bowie's oeuvre. 'Looking for Water' is another Bowie song that shows how ahead he was of everyone else, not just in music and cultural trends, but in environmental awareness and an understanding of the issues facing the planet and humanity.

Toby Fitch read his poem about the impact of Bowie and Prince using their famous lyrics interspersed with his own words.

Introducing their second appearance of the night, Ian Powne of The Stress of Leisure, said, "We could have chosen 1999, Changes – anything – but we chose ... well, just listen," and started the thoughtful, reflective, and moving 'Where Are We Now' from Bowie's penultimate album 'The Next Day'.

The evening finished with a full screen viewing of David Bowie's outback and Sydney set
'Let's Dance' video, still some twenty years later, a powerful indictment on Australia's treatment of its First Nation Peoples.

Festival logo projected on the screen awaiting performers for The Duke and the Prince

Thus endeth 'The Prince and The Duke'. A celebration of two musical geniuses who passed away much too soon leaving millions of fans around the world, adrift, bereft and asunder. Collectively we need these events to gather, remember and marvel at their incredible works, output and influence. Because there's sure as hell no one else like them out there any more.

Le Chateau, Sydney Book Tour - Thurs 29 Sept 2016

9am – Gleebooks
49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

9:45am – Pages & Pages
878 Military Rd, Mosman

10:30am – Dymocks
424-430 George St, Sydney

12pm – Kinokuniya
The Galeries, Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George St, Sydney

12:30pm – State Library of NSW Shop
Macquarie St, Sydney

2pm – Constant Reader
27 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest

3:15pm – Abbey’s
131 York St, Sydney

I'll be at the above book stores signing books and meeting readers. If you're in Sydney come along. It's a busy schedule and punctuality will be traffic dependent so it would be best to check direct with the bookshops as they will be informed of delays.

Better Reading Interview

I'm looking forward to being interviewed by Cheryl Akle of Better Reading after the book signings.

See you in Sydney tomorrow!



Road to Publication 2: Or how all writing competitions are not created equal


I had only moved back to Australia a couple of months before after over twelve years as an expat in Europe. Our belongings hadn't even arrived via boat, we were living out of suitcases, but I had finished the draft of my novel, Le Chateau. I heard of the QWC / Hachette Manuscript Development Program. Applications were closing in a couple of days. I thought I had no chance, thinking preferred manuscripts would be set largely in Australia and mine was set in France. I entered because I had a first draft manuscript (a prerequisite). I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I had no contacts in publishing and I had been told endlessly in France, Ireland and Australia, that luck was a big part of gaining publication, and like many arts careers, knowing people was the key.


I followed the submission guidelines, sent off my fifty pages and then promptly put it out of my mind, returning to the essentials of negotiating the final logistics and constantly mounting paperwork of our move across hemispheres, including dealing with the movement of passport holding cat – who was born in France, had moved with us to Ireland – and was now enduring a 'short' one month quarantine in Sydney. Things like that, and settling the children in schools in a new country, all over again.


A month or so later in the middle of one of these tasks I took a call from the Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) saying I'd been shortlisted for the Manuscript Development Program.  I now had three days to submit the rest of my manuscript to ensure participation in the five-day program.
I quizzed them on how many people had applied. It was over 300. That number was a little daunting. I emailed the rest of the manuscript as instructed and waited to hear from the lovely folk at QWC again.

The State Library of Queensland: the home of the QWC

Detail of the stunning sub-tropical architecture of the Stale Library of Queensland, home of the Queensland Writers Centre and the QWC / Hachette Manuscript Development Program. Located right on the banks of the Brisbane River, adjacent to GOMA and the entire Cultural Centre Precinct.


A couple of weeks later they called again and I had made the final selection. Only eight of the 300 plus had been chosen. I was both excited and in shock.

In October I met the seven other selected writers, and the Hachette Australia and Queensland Writers Centre teams: our writer-mentor, Charlotte Nash; and agent, Sophie Hamley over 'getting to know you' drinks at the Queensland Writers Centre. Thus began one of the most expanding and rewarding five days of my life, and probably the best thing I have ever 'won'. The friends and contacts I made through the program have lasted and have grown into important bonds in my writing journey.

QWC / Hachette Program

It was a privilege to be selected for the Program and I thank Meg Vann, then CEO of QWC and Bernadette Foley, then-Publisher, Hachette Australia, for the defining opportunity.
The five-day program included individual meetings with our allocated Hachette publisher, who explained our manuscript's strengths and weaknesses, provided feedback and encouragement. We had individual meetings with our mentor Charlotte who also provided us with feedback on our manuscripts and advice. We had group sessions with Charlotte running us through the publishing landscape and different writing and editing issues. We had informative and useful guest lectures from publishers, agents, booksellers, marketers, festival programmers, and digital platform managers.
We ate all meals together and did a nerve-racking group reading under moonlight on the Maiwar Green in between the State Library of Queensland and GOMA, watched over by the 'toppled' elephant sculpture. It was through pressurised situations like the public readings that the eight of us bonded.
The Program finished with a 'where to from here?' session, which included all the options available and gave examples of choices made by participants from the years before us – one of which was 'stop writing'. We were all surprised by that choice but in fact one from our group did just that soon after completing the program and we lost all contact with her. The rest of us continue to write.

Elephant bests Writer?   Who came off second best with the Toppled Elephant of the Maiwar Green (in between State Library of Queensland and GOMA)?

Elephant bests Writer?

Who came off second best with the Toppled Elephant of the Maiwar Green (in between State Library of Queensland and GOMA)?

Afterward: empowerment and The Stella Prize Shadow Judging

Finding like-minded writers is liberating and empowering, I had benefited from it before both in France and Ireland. I missed me overseas writing friends terribly, our daily banter, support, encouragement and the opportunity for feedback on our work. After the QWC / Hachette Manuscript Development Program we stayed connected and are still tight several years later. Some of us participated as a group in The Stella Prize inaugural 'Shadow judges Program' as the 'Stellar 6', harnessing our bond, diverging backgrounds, locations and writing stages – some published, some with creative writing degrees, some working in the industry.
Although we were all rejected by Hachette across the year that followed, the selective program has currency within Australian publishing. It has meant our manuscripts were noticed, and now the majority of us have been published or have signed publication contracts or mentoring agreements. It is exciting to see our group’s novels take flight into the big wide world where they belong.


The QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development program is an important program that is entrenched now in the Australian publishing lexicon. I encourage any unpublished writer with a manuscript languishing in a desk drawer to apply for it. It just may change your writerly life.

My novel, Le Chateau, The manuscript selected for the QWC/ Hachette Program is published by Echo Publishing, 1 September 2016.