Saturday, 29 May 2021

An Occasional book review


Iceberg

By Claire Saxby Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft




Iceberg by Claire Saxby illustrated by Jess Racklyeft  2021 Published by Allen and Unwin

 

I have been a fan and friend of Claire for a long time now and am just blown away by this non-fiction Picture Book.    The poetry in the text mirrors the splintery, cold and icy world of the Antarctic.

 

‘In the pale morning an iceberg calves- shears from a glacier 

and plunges to the ocean in a haze of sparkle-frost.

The iceberg is flat-topped, sharp and angular

and carries ancient weather in its layers of ice-clothing;

a coat for each year volcanoes blew

and black ash fell like snow.’

 

Claire uses repetition: ‘If this world looks empty,

Look closer.’  It forms a motif and a continuity for the narrative.

 

And as the narrative unfolds and the gorgeous blues, white and black of Jess Racklyeft’s artwork also unfolds.  Then the colour of summer delights with orange, smudged yellow and the most delectable squid and jellyfish are revealed in fold out flap pages.   We have a whole undersea panorama of movement reflecting shadow and filtered sunlight.

 

The world around the iceberg reverberates with squid, krill, birds, orca and short-tailed shearwaters.  It is fascinating to be drawn into this icy world and to recognise the importance of an iceberg calving!  Love that description!  I remember when Claire first shared her Iceberg poem and I pointed out that I found an iceberg calving strange (as an ex dairy farmer) She reassured me this was the correct terminology and what a visual and literary feast we have now in this book.  A precious gem to read, share and reread again.

 

Thanks Claire and Jess for a great book!

 

 

Thursday, 29 October 2020

At long last a reveal of the cover of my new verse novel due 2nd February 2021

 But who's counting...


It's been a big journey but the destination is so worth it- with input from great editors to rewrite, delete, reorganise and now the novel is back in the very original version of poems with titles.  A new format for a verse novel from me.  And a new setting- a high school, a new era 1969 and world shattering events.

Man on the moon and Australia's involvement with the Vietnam War.


I had mementos I'd kept from the 1960's... yes ancient I know.  This moon landing event has always fascinated me.  I was able to use some amazing facts that Lewis, Sharnie's cousin uses.





And on the Vietnam war front, first hand feedback and the privilege of having been young in the era of protest and our involvement.

So here is the cover.... drum roll... fireworks... Hurray!!!













Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Lately...

Well lately everything has changed, but once I've established a routine I can pick out the things that matter most to me and one of those 'things' is writing.

So my new verse novel 'Foot prints on the Moon' has been undergoing lots of re-writing, cuts with polish, until the main character Sharnie, is truly the focus.  This novel has a multitude of themes but now with some wonderful suggestions from my publisher and editor the story line is tighter.  A bit tricky with a verse novel as there is a fine balance between the poetry and the narrative.

But the subject matter and the time frame demand a poetic touch, an extra dimension as the story unfolds.


What else have I been doing?  Going through very, very old journals- my first writing journals as a teenager and scanning or feeding to the compost bin.

A surprise is that some themes then are the themes I still embrace now.  And look at the wonderful covers of my journals- I have saved them and will re-use maybe as junk journals which I am itching to try.





Writing still matters greatly to me and its the humming line, the breathing line, the joyous line through each day.

What matters to you at this Covid-19 time?

Thursday, 9 January 2020

A New Year and maybe rather than resolutions, an action plan

My grandson Louis has found a book connection with my dog Monti- "Look Monti a book about you!"

Precious moments.

On the writing front I have a new book scheduled for publication this year but it still has lots of work ahead, but love the main character Sharnie- a longer verse novel for an older age group with lots of subplots and issues.  This book began life many years ago and has been transforming- I think this is the way I tend to work- by the seat of my pants!  So a new pin board (reclaimed from the recycle tip) and covered by a fabric hessian scrap, may help me to navigate the rollicking waters of plot, character arcs, character growth and sub plots!!!!!



Meanwhile my garden begins to take shape and these are the first blueberries we have ever grown.

And our sadness at the terrible tragedy of our bushfires often results in helplessness at the plight of so many needing help- what can we do?  We can write, we can pray, we can donate and we can plant and carefully recycle and reuse.  As a writer my words are often recycled, my ideas often recycled until they reach a satisfactory outcome.  Little things, little works, little poems, little prayers all make a difference. What do you recycle?

Monday, 5 August 2019

A big week coming up...

It's August and book week looming has a special sweetness this year, but before that I am involved in my home ground production of the Bendigo Writers' festival- the schools session 'Text Marks the spot'.


I am talking with my friend Glenda Millard and hosted by a long time journalist friend Lauren Mitchell.  We will be talking writing legends- mainly those created by our words and it will be fun.

I am also talking in a session about judging and entering competitions, with Sarah Mayor Cox and Susan Green.  There are great opportunities out there for budding writers and we will look at universal suggestions when entering a competition.

But I was part of an interesting podcast by Tracey Grice for the shortlisted books in CBCA awards this year.  I am enjoying listening to other authors also- what a great initiative Tracey!

Enjoy your reading writing world this week!


Monday, 6 May 2019

Excitement plus in my writing world

The past two months have seen hyper activity with my book 'Leave Taking'.





The cover now sports two stickers, a shortlisted CBCA and a short listed NSWPLA.

I was able to go on the train to Melbourne for the announcement of the CBCA shortlisting.  I had to use a crutch as my knee was still in recovery mode.   But what a buzz to hear 'Leave Taking' read out as a shortlist in the junior fiction category and to be in such good company with other authors.



Then last Monday(29th 0f April) Kel drove us to Sydney for the announcement of the NSW Premier's literary awards- 'Leave Taking' was shortlisted in this.  A fabulous night of meeting authors, judges, friends and learning more about the current writing scene.

Then the announcement that Claire Saxby with her book "Dingo' was a joint winner of the Patricia Wrightson award for children's fiction with my book 'Leave taking'.  Of ouches I didn't have a speech prepared but delivered one of thanks to the team at UQP.  And oops forgot my family!

What a difference an award makes to all those years of writing!  And hopefully 'Leave Taking' will go on to help children and families riding the crest of grief.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

CBCA Awards, NSW Premiers literary awards

It's always a tension filled time waiting to see if your book has made it to the Notables list of the CBCA awards.  At 7 pm when the awards were announced on the website, the web page wouldn't load for awhile, then slowly it revealed 'Leave Taking' was nestled in the younger readers category.


Notables Book of the year 2019

Such relief, such excitement, such sweet joy for my publishers who had risked and had faith in my verse novel- not an easy genre to be published in.

Then two days later 'Leave Taking' became shortlisted in the NSW Premier's Literary awards.

State Library NSWPremiers Literary awards

So it has been exciting times and a boost to keep writing, keep writing.  And reading.  I am loving reading books listed in the same category as mine and have enjoyed Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt and Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl and of course celebrated with my good friend Claire Saxby with Dingo.  Exciting times in the world of Children's literature, I should say Australian children's literature.

And best of all there is a new verse novel in the wings for me!

Happy writing and reading.