Thursday, November 5, 2015

Canberra Sojourn, Lu Rees Archives & CBCA Dinner

On Tuesday 27th October I had lunch with the redoubtable Dr. Belle Alderman and her devoted volunteer staff at the University of Canberra. This is the home of an incredible collection of notable Australian authors and illustrators which was established in the 1970's by Lu Rees, and has been ably led by Belle Alderman. It was inspiring talking to her.

I had fun after lunch signing some of my own books as well as inspecting new and old additions to the collection.

CBCA Canberra

I also enjoyed giving a presentation to the CBCA members on my ANZAC novel Eventual Poppy Day (an ANZAC in the family PowerPoint) and giving preview glimpses of Phil Lesnie's astonishing artwork for my 2016 picture storybook A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy. This was over dinner at the Hellenic Club where I was lucky enough to catch up with members of my family, who share my love of literature.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pozieres Commemoration Service, Woollahra July 26th

I was really happy to be part of the 99th Commemoration Service at St Columba's with Rev Brian Jago presiding. Lt Gen Caligari, First Battalion Association, RSL representatives and representative from the French Consulate and Woollahra Council took part. I read from a chapter set at Pozieres from my novel, Eventual Poppy Day. As usual, the Scots College Pipe and Drum Band stopped traffic and performed so well as did the bugler for the echoing Last Post tribute. Next year 2016 will be the 100th year commemoration of the terrible battle that took so many British and Anzac lives in and around that small village in France. I have a book being published in March 2016 by Hachette, A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy- a curious and not entirely sad story from that same place, same era.

Rough from A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy (art by Phil Lesnie)

Randwick Historical Society Address

Last Sunday 18th July saw a crowd of history buffs gathered at the Bowen Library, Maroubra, for their monthly meeting. I was lucky enough to be able to present my Powerpoint, An Anzac in the Family, an explanation of the process of writing my historical Anzac novel, Eventual Poppy Day. What made it extra special was the presence of four women (will not say old girls) from my year at Sydney Girls High; and then an exploration of the Society's room at the Bowen, where I'll be doing some research for my next novel set in part in the Randwick area circa 1880's.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Writer-in-Residence, St Catherine's Waverley

I began my weekly one day writer-in-residence this week at St Catherine's in the Junior School. It was a pleasant experience to be welcomed so warmly by the Principal, Sara Guy, and assisted so ably by the librarian, Lizzy Martin.
Thus far I've talked to responsive Year 3 girls and taken two poetry master classes with equally responsive Year 5 girls.
I've been allocated a room  and time worked into the schedule for my own works, both novel and picture book in the making.
I'm looking forward to meeting more girls and their teachers in the coming 5 weeks.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another Great PETAA Gig, Parramatta

At PETAA's conference day, Developing Creative and Confident Writers, I was really pleased to be asked to give the closing plenary I called Literature, Libraries and Love to an audience of 200 teachers. Whilst I spoke of poetry, my Anzac novel Eventual Poppy Day and showed some roughs of my upcoming picture book for the 2016 Somme commemoration, A Soldier, A Dog and a Boy, and also asked the teacher audience whilst honouring the 2015 CBCA short-list not to forget the Notables. I must admit a not-so-hidden agenda for my notable, 2015 picture book with Ritva Voutila, Outside. I arrived early and was lucky enough to sit in on Catherine Oehlman's (below) fabulous poetry workshop. I look forward to further contact with this teacher after my own heart, with poetry.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A River of Poetry with Eastside Radio

Based on my collection, The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: A treasury of poems for young people (Harper Collins,with its gorgeous illustrations by Cassandra Allen), Margaux Dombkins is featuring my poetry series Australian Poetry, Old and New as part of her regular arts program. This features a poet a month with a background of life and times and a reading of a few selected poems. Poets include Henry Lawson, Dorothea Mackellar, Dame Mary Gilmore, Henry Kendall, Judith Wright and more. Our first session was Monday 8th June and streamed on Eastside FM Website.

PETAA Conference and State Library of NSW Professional Development Day

It was a pleasure to connect with PETAA folk and to give the closing plenary (below) at the Grace Hotel Friday 29th May on Literature, Libraries and Love. From Poetry to Historical Novels, to enthusiastic teachers.

As it happens, in the morning of the same day at the State Library of NSW Professional Day, I spoke of Eventual Poppy Day and my upcoming picture storybook set at the Somme, A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy, showing some of Phil Lesnie's amazing artwork. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


A wonderful week in Adelaide for me, comprised a rich brew of writers, both Australian and international; the discovery of Cate Kennedy's amazing Oz poetry; chats with some of the famous writers; a visit to give talks at Seymour, a gorgeous college for gals ; dinner with the Mary Gibbs Trust lot; and performing in the Red Tent on  Saturday 28th February and Sunday 1st March to families re new picture books; and an hour long interview on Monday 2nd March by Sandy Vershoor on West Stage on poetry and mostly my new Anzac novel of the gorgeous cover,  Eventual Poppy Day.   
 At Mary Wilson's place with May Gibbs Trust folk
 In the Green Room with Michel Faber and Kate Kennedy ( above)
 and being interviewed by Kate Vershoor  (below)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Marvelous Mudgee-Australia Day 2015

My Australia Day destination for 2015, guest of the Mid Western Regional Council was the beautiful town of Mudgee, surrounded by green paddocks and hills (yes green) and far blueish-green mountains.  The venue, centre of town, was Robertson Park where I read some of my picture books to babes and mothers and dads.  I loved being part of both the Australia Day Awards ceremony and the Citizenship ceremony always happy occasions. And cutting a very navy blue cake! At the end of my talk and a reading from my new Anzac novel Eventual Poppy Day which involved the Last Post being played, a man stepped out of the crowd  and unasked and unscripted  played the dying notes of the Last Post on his bugle. I have yet to find him and thank him! so unexpected and so moving a gesture.
A tour of the library next day demonstrated what can be done in a gracious old building, not to mention visiting a winery for a wonderful lunch. I will return! Especially to track down more of the life of the poet Henry Lawson who spent his formative years in this area.