Reading in isolation

I’m back in obsessive reading mode which is always a relief. I’ve been writing without a break for years and sometimes I feel as if I’ve forgotten how to get lost in a book. The pile, much like my own writing, is a mishmash of genres.

Two Australian novels released this month are The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks and The F Team by Rawah Arja. I loved them both. Not only can I imagine readers of all ages relating to them, but I know that if I was still in the classroom, I would order a class set. Cultural diversity, family dynamics, strong girls, decent boys, grief, humour, gorgeous authentic dialogue, beautiful writing. All of that and more.

The F Team by Rawah Arja

Meet Tariq Nader, leader of ‘The Wolf Pack’ at Punchbowl High, who has been commanded by the new principal to join a football competition with his mates in order to rehabilitate the public image of their school. When the team is formed, Tariq learns there’s a major catch – half of the team is made up of white boys from Cronulla, aka enemy territory – and he must compete with their strongest player for captaincy of the team.

At school Tariq thinks he has life all figured out until he falls for a new girl called Jamila, who challenges everything he thought he knew. At home, his outspoken ways have brought him into conflict with his family. Now, with complications on all fronts, he has to dig deep to control his anger, and find what it takes to be a leader.

In confronting and often hilarious situations, Tariq’s relationships with his extended Lebanese family and his friends are tested like never before, and he comes to learn that his choices can have serious consequences.

The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Sorrento, Victoria, 1999. Fred’s family is a mess. Her mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop’s had to go away, and Luca’s girlfriend Anika and her son have moved in. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.

Even as things feel like they’re spinning out of control for Fred, a crisis from the other side of the world comes crashing in. When a group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees are brought to a government ‘safe haven’ not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family in ways that no one could have expected.

Quarantine

I’ve been meaning to put these on my website for ages. For those who enjoyed The Lumatere Chronicles and never got around to finding the short story, “Ferragost”…

…and “When Rosie Met Jim” which ended up being the first chapter of Jimmy Hailler’s book, (The Place on Dalhousie), here they are.

It’s a quarantine gift from me.

How have you been spending your quarantine? I’ve gone back to reading every night; watching Schitt’s Creek and understanding what the big fuss is about; plotting a TV series via video conferencing, and writing a film script. I have to believe that little stories about the universal experience have a place in our world. I handed in the fourth of my Zola series and am cheered up every time I see Deb Hudson’s illustrations.

I’ve been going for walks with my daughter and our dog; organising a Zoom talent quest for 8 year olds; watching Amy Schumer videos of New Yorkers cheering from their apartments for their health workers; trying very hard not to let home schooling drive me to drink while being reminded that school and her teacher mean so much to B. Most of all, feeling grateful for so many things and knowing that this has brought out the best in us.

The Zola Series

This year I started writing the Zola Series. They’re chapter books for 5-7 year olds and What Zola Did on Monday comes out next June 2020. Here’s the blurb from Penguin Random House’s website.

Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her nonna. Every day of the week is an adventure. But Zola has a problem. No matter how much she tries, she can’t keep out of trouble!


Seven stories in the series – one for every day of the week. From the bestselling author of Looking for Alibrandi.

What’s happening in the months of August and September

Firstly, this Friday the 16th at 2pm Mosman Library, I will be interviewing debut writer Nina Kenwood about her new novel It Sounded Better in My Head. Loved. Loved. Loved it. I have so many novels to read at the moment and all I do is look at the pile, but this morning I woke up at 5 and didn’t get out of bed until after 9. It’s funny and smart and it’s recharged my reading inertia (only because I’m tired and not because of the novels).

https://events.mosman.nsw.gov.au/events/3753/nina-kenwood-in-conversation-with-melina-marchetta

Below are three of the festivals I’ll be attending this month and next. Click onto the links and it will take you to my page.

The Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival

The Melbourne Writers’ Festival

https://mwf.com.au/artist/melina-marchetta/

The Brisbane Writers Festival

https://bwf.org.au/artists/melina-marchetta

On another note, discussing my writing on the Better Reading podcast with Cheryl Arkle was a highlight for me this year. I was asked to come back for “Better Reading On Writing”. It’s a 6 part series and I get to speak about Dialogue. We all focus on a different aspect of the craft. The other writers are: Trent Dalton (The writer); Belinda Alexander (character builiding); Candice Fox (research and setting) ; Dervla McTiernan (story and plot development) and Penguin Random House Publisher, Nikki Christer (she published Dalhousie and discusses the publishing side of things)

If you’re interested in writing then I think you’ll find it very helpful.

https://www.betterreading.com.au/podcast/new-6-part-podcast-series-better-reading-on-writing-you-asked-for-it/

Sydney Writers’s Festival Schedule and Warringah Library, Brookvale

Tuesday 30th April, 11am – Narellan Library

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2019/melina-marchetta-the-place-on-dalhousie/

***

Wednesday, 1st May: 11.15-12pm

Carriageworks, Bay 24, 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh

Student Session: Write What You Know – In conversation with Sarah Ayoub

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Thursday 2nd May: 4.30-5.30pm

Carriageworks, Bay 12, 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh

Homecomings: Panel with Rosalie Ham and facilitated by Melanie Kembrey

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2019/homecomings/

***

Friday 3rd May: 11.30-12.30

Carriageworks, Bay 24, 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh

An irrevocable Condition: Facilitator: Christos Tsiolkas, panel with Melanie Cheng and Moreno Giovannoni

https://admin.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2019/an-irrevocable-condition/

***

Tuesday 7th May: 6.30pm

Warringah Mall Library, 145 Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/melina-marchetta-author-talk-tickets-57359789675

Dalhousie: 8th April 2019

I’m going to try not to use the word “overwhelmed” too many times, but I have been overwhelmed indeed this week. So much love. I always knew that my readership would take this novel out into the world and I have loved every moment of talking about it with them.

And of course, getting off a plane and seeing the image below was pretty impressive.

If you are in Canberra tomorrow (Tuesday) I’ll be speaking at Muse with the very funny and talented Sean Costello at 5.30, so come down for a drink.

I’ve also been part of smart podcasts and interviews, so I’ll add them here when I have the time.

Today I spoke with Claire Nichols on Radio National’s Book Show and loved it. Here it is.

30th March: Dalhousie Misc

So The Place on Dalhousie is coming out in two days, and this is what you need to know if you are in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane this week and next. Please check my events page for further details because I think they all need bookings

Sydney: Better Read Than Dead event at Erskineville on Tuesday the 2nd April, 6.30pm

Sydney: The Bathers Pavillion LIterary Luncheon on Wednesday the 3rd April

Melbourne: Readings Carlton event on Thursday the 4th April, 6.30pm

Canberra: Muse Tuesday 9th April, 5.30pm

Brisbane: Thursday 11th – Brisbane City Library 12pm and Avid Reader 6.30pm

Hornsby: Library event Tuesday 16th April, 6pm

Also, here are a few early blog reviews (no spoilers, and I promise I won’t do this every week).

There’s nothing quite like that moment in a Melina Marchetta book when all the threads of the story come together in a series of almost magical coincidences. Whether she is writing young adult fiction, adult fiction or fantasy, you will usually encounter a few unexpected connections and long buried secrets woven through the plotlines of Marchetta’s books. Some might call it a recurring theme of destiny and/or coincidence. Others might call it a very faint hint of magical realism. I prefer to call it perfect storytelling. Every time you come to the end of a Melina Marchetta book, there is a feeling of pitch-perfect rightness.

(Sarah McDuling, Booktopia)

I can think of no higher praise for Melina, than saying that she writes young female characters who don’t give a shit if you like them or not – they’ve been through enough in their life, and trying to be “likeable” and “nice” is low on their list of priorities, and not nearly as important as learning to trust themselves and who to let into their complicated lives. Their flaws make these characters more interesting – not less likeable. Melina makes you work to really know these women, and to love them – but once you do, there’s no going back (as true for readers as other characters). 

(Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader)

This is a book with so much heart, and traverses such a rich emotional landscape, with a deftness rarely displayed. Hard to put down, impossible to forget, The House on Dalhousie is one of those precious books you don’t want to end. I would’ve happily spent another 300 pages with Rosie, Jimmy, Martha, Ewan and co.

(Simon McDonald, Bookseller)

With The Place on Dalhousie, Marchetta proves she is one of our best writers of contemporary human drama and one of Australia’s finest crafters of character and dialogue. Her characters are smart, tough and vulnerable. They have that lived-in feeling where they seem to exist in this world even after you close the pages of the book. To some extent, that is because this is a sequel of sorts. Those familiar with Marchetta’s previous novels Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son will recognise Jimmy and his high-school friends, whose easy friendship and mid-twenties growing pains will thrill and delight fans of those books.

(Jackie Tang, Readings Bookseller)

2019 Events So far

In case this doesn’t appear on a site page:

SYDNEY –  TUESDAY 2nd APRIL

Better Read Than Dead  – In conversation

St Stephens Erskineville

6.30pm

https://www.betterreadevents.com/events/melina-marchettas-the-place-on-dalhousie

SYDNEY – WED 3RD APRIL

Pages & Pages Literary Event

The Bather’s Pavillion

4 The EsplanadeBalmoral Beach

12pm Lunch

https://www.pagesandpages.com.au/melina-marchetta-a-bathers-lunch

MELBOURNE – THURS 4TH APRIL

 Readings Carlton Event

Church of All Nations

180 Palmerston StreetCarlton VIC

6.30pm 

https://www.readings.com.au/event/melina-marchetta-on-the-place-on-dalhousie

CANBERRA – TUESDAY 9TH APRIL

 MUSE

60 Canberra Avenue

KINGSTON ACT 

6.pm

 Booking details to come www.musecanberra.com.au  

BRISBANE – THURS 11TH APRIL

Brisbane City Library

266 George StreetBrisbane

12-1pm 

AND

 Avid Reader Bookshop

193 Boundary Street

West End, 4101

6pm-8pm 

https://avidreader.com.au/events/melina-marchetta-the-place-on-dalhousie 

HORNSBY – TUESDAY 16TH APRIL

Hornsby Library

28-44 George Street

Hornsby

6pm 

https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=473801