Tag Archives: HarperCollins

Innocent desire clashes with the wider world – My review of ‘Deeper Water’ by Jessie Cole

27 Jul

cov_deeperwater (1)‘They say every hero has to leave home, but what those first steps are like I’m yet to know,’ reads the first line of Jessie Cole’s second novel, ‘Deeper Water’.  Jessie draws us at once into the distinct and unusual world of her protagonist, Mema. Already we can intuit that this is a novel about awakening.

Mema lives with her mother in an isolated valley in northern New South Wales – a place of green hills and flooding creeks. Home schooled and naive for her age, Mema has an almost pagan attachment to her land, to the creek that runs through it and the animals –native, feral and domestic – which it supports.

Men are always passing through Mema’s world, only the women stay. Her four brothers and various fathers are long since gone, swallowed up by the wider world. But when she rescues a stranger whose car has been washed off a bridge, just like that everything changes. Even though the stranger, Hamish, is the most ‘passing through’ of men he captures Mema’s interest. A tentative longing builds for Hamish and what he represents – the outside world.

Despite the beauty of Mema’s creek-side home, it is no rural idyll. Their local town has an ugly side and the ‘knowns and the unknowns’ in Mema’s past form a darker undercurrent to the story. Mema’s relationship with Anja, a wild girl who grew up sleeping in a tree hollow, also adds tension. Threatened by the addition of Hamish to their tight friendship, Anja creates ripples that spread in unpredictable directions.

Like Jessie’s first book, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, this novel is distinctive for its careful observations that bring us into Mema’s world. Mema listens to the chickens’ ‘morning clucks’ and imagines her siblings’ fathers ‘washed up like survivors of a shipwreck, lost and beaten by the waves.’

The writing is candid about the pain of first love and longing. But this is not only a story about sexual awakening; ‘Deeper Water’ also explores environmental themes with a light-handed touch. Hamish, an environmental consultant, clashes with Mema over his views on cats and cane toads. Gender relationships are also questioned – when seeing Anja, Hamish comments on her beauty. But Anja is many things, Mema thinks, and beautiful is only one of them.

‘Deeper Water’ is a sensuous portrayal of what happens when innocent desire clashes with the hardened edges of the wider world. Mema will linger in your mind for some time after you close the pages.

 

‘Deeper Water’ will be launched at the Byron Bay Writers Festival this Friday. Read more about Jessie here. 

This is my third post for the Australian Women Writers Challenge
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The Books for Snowy River – what happens when your book goes out of stock just before a writers festival

24 Mar

 

sex lies snowy river

This week I had the simultaneously delightful and alarming news that ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ is temporarily out of stock. Delightful, because yay, I’ve sold out! Alarming because I am booked to do a session called ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ at the Snowy Mountains Writers Festival next weekend. And a session like that with no books is a little like a pub with no beer.

 

I have been moved to capture the ensuing events in verse…

 

 The Books for Snowy River

(with apologies to Banjo Patterson)

 

There was dismay

 at HarperCollins for the word had passed around

That Sex, Lies and Bonsai had run out.

And an urgent order had come in – 50 books must soon be found

So all the sales team gathered at the shout.

 

All the tried and trusted sales reps from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the office, after a bite

For the team there love a challenge

And as all in publishing know, a re-print cannot happen overnight.

 

There was Anna who had bought the book and brought it to the land

No finer editor ever held a pen

For ne’er a text could throw her or a manuscript at hand

As a publisher she knows the art of zen.

 

Lisa’s off to Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side

And the readers there are twice as keen and twice as tough

And an author’s books don’t linger in the bookshops overnight

No, a tale that holds its own is good enough.

The Snowy Mountains Festival is on one week today

And Sex, Lies and Bonsai’s on the bill

We must find some unsold copies or else perish in the chase

Because our writer’s heading for the hills.

 

So they went – they got one copy from the old Big W clump

Then they raced away across the city crush

And Anna gave her orders, ‘team, go at em from the jump’

No use to try for fancy buying – rush!

 

And they found them, some in clusters and some they were alone

They chased them down like bloodhounds on their tracks

But there were only 49 when they turned their heads for home

And in boxes and in handbags brought them back.

 

But one was there, a stripling, with sore and blistered feet

She wouldn’t rest until she found the final prize

She was hard and tough and wiry, just the sort who won’t say die

There was courage in her quick impatient eye

And her bright gaze saw one loitering in a darkened bookshop aisle

And she snatched it up and held it to the sky

And she shouted to the heavens with the book above her head

We have not failed the festival, this book will now be read

 

So down by Kosciusko where the pine-clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high

Where the air is clear as crystal and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky

In  the Thredbo Alpine Schuss Bar where the readers come to stay

Those yellow stripes are shining with the best

And the HarperCollins sales team are a household word today

And the author tells the story of their quest

 

You can catch me and the captured books at the Snowy Mountains Writers Festival over the Easter weekend.  Top of nine degrees in Thredbo today so bring the woolies!

Sex, Lies and a Book Trailer

2 Nov

Opinion is divided about book trailers. Some think they work, some think they don’t. Some, like Jonathan Franzen, are fundamentally opposed to them, but do one anyway. See Franzen’s grouchy take on a book trailer for ‘Freedom’ here.

Me, I have no idea, but I’ve done one anyway. Why? Just because it’s fun. And maybe they work… Who knows?

I don’t have any high profile friends, like Gary Shteyngart, who called on James Franco, Jeffrey Eugenides and others to act in his video for ‘Super Sad True Love Story.’ But what I do have is… a talented teenage son. Lucky me.

So here’s my trailer for ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai.’ It’s thirty seconds long. It’s set in Lennox Head (as is the book). It’s got SEX. It’s got LIES and there’s even a BONSAI. Featuring me on the computer keyboard, me on vocals, with all cinematography by Tim. (here’s his YouTube site)

What do you think about book trailers? Do you reckon they work?

 

Down the plughole

2 Nov

It being November, there are now only eight weeks to go until Liar Bird hits the shelves. In celebration, I thought I would share a short extract.

Chapter One: Down the Plughole

If it wasn’t for the long-footed potoroo, I might never have heard of Beechville. But I suppose I can’t entirely lay the blame at the potoroo’s door – Warren Corbett must also take his share.

There have been many influential figures in my life, people who have opened doors at the right time, given words of advice, turned me on a path I might not have taken. Of all of these, Warren Corbett looms largest.

Wazza, as he’s widely known in PR circles, was my first boss. More than that, he was my mentor. Do what it takes, girl, but don’t let them catch you, was his favourite saying. Second was, When in doubt, deny, deny, deny.

He’s old school, Wazza. PR Ethics hadn’t been invented when he made his first million. It was my luck – some would say karma – that I ended up at Winning Edge Public Relations still wet from my communications degree. That was when the learning really started.

Wazza taught me everything I knew – how to set up ‘grassroots’ front groups which look and act just like the real thing; how to infiltrate real groups if need be and, most importantly, how not to let your conscience stand in the way of your career. He said it was important to look ethical; actually being ethical was optional and probably unwise.

He was the learned master and I the eager student. I sucked up his wisdom as thirstily as any magician’s apprentice. Good old Wazza, he’s still there, doing his thing. God knows there’s no shortage of clients ready to fork out for his golden touch.

Out of all the graduates who applied to his company; fifty or so, he picked me. Why?

“I trust my instincts, Cassandra.” He’d leant over his massive glass table, a whiff of cinnamon aftershave drifting towards me from his shiny cheeks. “In this game, you have to. And you… I can sense something. You’re smart, but they’re all smart. You look good, but they all look good. You’ve got something different though.” He’d placed his hand-rolled cigar in an ashtray and pointed his immaculately groomed, gold-ringed, finger at my chest. “You are hungry.”

He was right.

He told me later – only half joking – that he’d been worried I’d leap over the desk and sink my teeth into his jugular if he’d knocked me back. I’d laughed politely, showing just a hint of fang to keep him on his toes.

To be continued…

Is there anyone who doesn’t love to see a PR girl take a dive?