30 September 2009

Wonders of a Godless World

This just in from The Mothership:

Isn't it beautiful? It has such a strong mood and it's very intriguing. We are all intrigued.

The animation is by James Gulliver Hancock, who also designed the gorgeous book jacket and composed the music in the clip. Clever fellow.

Wonders of A Godless World by Andrew McGahan is out in the world in October.
And well... would you look at that... October is tomorrow! Hurrah!

Good work, Sydney Onions!

28 September 2009

And the eagerly awaited* finale to our Introductions Series is...

Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett, with Five Wounds, in stores May 2010! Woo hoo!

Sometimes it's an editor’s job to enthuse the team and show them just why a book is so special, so intense, so wonderful. But often, the closer we are to a book, the more we love it, the more convinced we are by its genius, the harder that is to do. There must be some kind of Law to explain this – not quite Murphy’s, but in that ballpark.

Anyway, with this in mind, we present to you Five Wounds: A Dialogue

Rights: So, Five Wounds. It's very beautiful. What's it about?
Editor: Um. Well, funny you should ask.
Rights: That's what this meeting is about...
Editor: Oh, yes, that's right. Well, it's difficult to say exactly what it's about.
Rights: Haven't you read it?
Editor: Many times. There are so many different ways to read it, you see. And they're all incredible.
Rights: Riiight.
Editor: Oh, look over there! A squirrel!
Rights: We're in Australia. That's not an apt diversionary tactic. You were saying?
Editor: Yes. Um. Look, there's simply nothing like it. It's inspired by many sources, from Jeanette Winterson to the Uncanny X-Men, with a bit of Buffy thrown in. It possesses layers upon layers. Like an onion, as Donkey in Shrek would have it. Like an Onion.
Rights: Okaaay. But what's it about?
Editor: It's postmodern, biblical, dark and beautiful. It's an Illuminated Novel.
Rights: Yesss. So it is.
Editor: Are you into heraldry, by any chance?
Rights: No, I'm not.
Editor: Oh, well, never mind. Well, it's about these five characters. They're all orphans of one sort or another. And each has a metaphysical wound. Sort of.
Rights: A metaphysical wound.
Editor: Yes. So this one character, his face is so malleable that he can look like anyone he chooses. But who is he himself? Another character used to have wings, but her father had them hacked off. Another was raised by a sect of dogs. And the thing is, all these wounds have significance. It's all about signs. There are clues, and riddles.
Rights: Now we're getting somewhere. I think.
Editor [on a roll now]: ...and it's possibly set in Venice or somewhere similar in a non-specific time. Sort of then, sort of now, like a fabulous fable. Magical realism as an oblique means of tackling trauma. It even has two endings!
Rights: Er...
Editor [frothing slightly]: And the artwork's amaaazing. There's Goya in there. Blake. Playing with perspectives like Escher. References to GK Chesterton, Egyptian hieroglyphics and mediaeval palmistry treatises.
Rights: Why are your fingers glued together?
Editor: Oh. Look, here's a dummy I prepared earlier with lots of spray adhesive whichmakesmetalkreallyfast. Take this and show the world.
Rights: Right. Yes, I'll do that, shall I? [exit stage right en route to Frankfurt, staggering slightly under enormous and spectacular dummy]

Jonathan grew up in England and now lives in Sydney. He began writing Five Wounds way back in 1994, when he was living in an attic on Venice's Lido. His interests include:
card games,
comic books,
and contemporary music.

And have a look at his gorgeous website.

Dan lives and works in Spain, and we're not sure what his interests are. [Mental note: schedule meeting in Spain to find out.]

So… Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett – welcome to the House of Onion. We couldn’t be more pleased to be publishing this feast for the eyes, the mind and the soul.

*Confessions of the Cake-maker in Chief:
I confess it was all my fault that last week's steady serving of introductions was disrupted on Friday. But I managed to appease the blog goddesses with Torta alla Gianduia.

Tardy authors should note that with a little cake they can get away with anything short of murder around here. (It should also be noted that the weekend seemed to leave the blogesses in an unaccountably good mood.)


Bomber Thompson: "To St Kilda, footy sucks sometimes ... we were very, very lucky and we're very proud of what we've done."

Go cats.

25 September 2009

A glitch in the matrix...

So. Here. We. Are. All atremble. So much so we have to interrupt our regular programming (again).

Apologies to all those looking forward to the final installment of our current Introducing... series. But who doesn't love a good dose of antici...


Stay tuned next week for our final (for now) welcome to the House of Onion.

Instead join us on a nostalgic* trip down memory lane (made in a desperate attempt to distract ourselves from the BIG GAME).

As Steph Bowe so eloquently puts it, sometimes: It sucks to be a teenager.

Sure, I remember times when I was all, "Be still my heart and cease thy frenzied beating..." because the Object of My Desire tossed five syllables (yes, I was a syllable-counter) in my general direction. And yes, I am fortunate enough to be able to recall occasional triumph on the sports field and the odd quiet moment of academic pride (as long as nobody else found out). And, it's true, I was soothed by the obsessive satisfaction of songs on repeat in my mind.

But I also still have in my heart the memory of that terrible, terrible despair, the loneliness, the fear, the almost incapacitating self-loathing and the red rage that found its way to my very fingertips.

And yes, I kept a diary. And I'm sure many of the entries would have had the same feel and tone as these heart-achingly raw diary entries extracted from Cringe: Toe-Curlingly Embarrassing Teenage Diaries, Letters and Bad Poetry (Sarah Brown, ed).

I'll never know though. And not because I destroyed it, which many people do once they surface and find themselves on a more even keel. No. I'll never know because I wrote in CODE and I am now completely unable to decipher it.

And I was so excited when, during the clean-up before the sale of my family home, I found my fat, well-thumbed, red-and-white diary with a broken lock. Pages and pages of cramped writing squashed into every line. I was insatiably curious to revisit that time of my life, even though I knew so much of it would be excruciating. But when I opened it, I was devastated to discover my heartfelt outpourings were lost to me. Impenetrable.

It's hardly the matrix, in fact there are no numbers at all. It's all coded-abbreviations and made-up words. And recognisable cross-references and cross-outs. Lots of cross-outs. And it seems to be in the third person. Sigh.

And, I wonder if this inaccessible code is actually an appropriate representation of my teenage years because, often, that's what it felt like - that there was a code to life, and everybody else seemed to be in on it, and I just couldn't quite decipher it. Or if I did have moments of clarity, they were fleeting and then the code would slip suddenly from my reach again.

Oh, I am so glad I never have to re-live those years, and I'm also glad I can remember with empathy. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why this Onion landed in a world where YA is celebrated.

* Ha! The power of nostalgia, hey? The best days of our lives? Sure.

24 September 2009

Introducing... Rebecca James

We who work in publishing are supposed to be good at words. People expect us to win at scrabble, and excel at the quick crossword, and be able to dredge up a good synonym when one is needed. We are supposed to be fluent, articulate, maybe even erudite.

Sometimes, however, when passion overtakes us, eloquence flies out the window.

Case in point:

Editor: 'Hey, you know how we're introducing Rebecca James on the blog? Well is there anything you particularly want to say about Beautiful Malice?
Publisher 'I love it'
Editor: 'Yes. I see. Anything else?'
Publisher: 'I love it. I love it. I love it.'
Editor: "..."
Publisher: "I love it."

What's more, it appears that publishers all over the world are being rendered just as speechless by Rebecca's novel Beautiful Malice. It's already been sold to the UK, and in Germany people are using very exciting words like bidding and war. We are happy happy happy to be publishing Beautiful Malice here in Australia in May 2010.

And the reason for that is that the novel is freaking awesome.

We know words like 'unputdownable' and 'page turner' are overused by us supposedly fluent, articulate and erudite publishing types. But what do you say when you are so swept along by a story that you genuinely feel unable to stop reading, when to stop turning the pages causes you physical pain? What are you supposed to say then??

Well one good idea is to let the book speak for itself:

'Truth or dare?' she asks me.
'Truth.' I laugh. 'Definitely. I can imagine one of your dares, and I don't fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.'
'Truth.' Alice says, slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she's savouring the word. 'Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?'
'I think so. Try me.'
'Okay.' And then she looks at me curiously. 'So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?'

And therein lies the proof that writers should be the ones living with the pressure to be good at Scrabble - because they, specifically Rebecca James, have all the good words. Rebecca has stolen all the good words and woven them together into a completely gripping story about murder, love, loyalty and betrayal. Bring on May 2010!

Here are some things about Rebecca:

1. She has designed kitchens for a living.
2. She keeps an excellent blog.
3. At one point she was the mother of four boys under four.*
4. Her sister, Wendy, is also a writer.
5. Despite having four boys and being a self-confessed procrastinator, she is already writing her next book.

So... Rebecca James - welcome to the House of Onion. We are deadset thrilled to have you in the family.

If we weren't speechless before, we certainly would be now!

23 September 2009

Introducing... Pat van Beirs and Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem

Vandaag willen we Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem en Pat van Beirs harte welkom heten in onze club!

Today we are absolutely delighted to introduce Pat van Beirs and Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem - all the way from Belgium!

What can't this pair do? Sometimes separately, sometimes together, they write and produce films, they translate screenplays, they write books and they win awards - loads of awards. For instance, their novel Jonkvrouw has won six (6!) major European awards for Young Adult fiction. Jonkvrouw is the reason that we are welcoming Pat and Jean-Claude to the House of Onion.

Only we aren’t calling it Jonkvrouw, which, according to Pat, is an untranslatable word that in Dutch means ‘maiden, noblewoman, virgin, lady of free spirit and fiery spinster.’ (That may very well be the best word ever.) In April next year we are publishing our edition, which is called With A Sword in My Hand.

Of course, the text is in Dutch too, not just the title (I know, who would ever have guessed?) so it is being translated into English by the esteemed John Nieuwenhuizen, who has himself won many awards.

So, With A Sword in My Hand is being brought to you by the letters M, A, W & T, or what Hollywood might call a multi award-winning team. John has long been a valued member of the Onion family – and we’re so pleased that he’s opening this window for us into the utterly believable world created by Jean-Claude and Pat. It is the world of Marguerite van Male – only daughter of the Count of Flanders.

And you know what? We don't even need full sentences to convey how awesome this world is. Behold:

Middle Ages
based on a true story

See? That is one exciting collection of words.

However, if you are a stickler who does insist on full sentences and maybe even a paragraph, we can’t do better than the author’s own description:

'During the Middle Ages, troubadours told their ballads by the blaze of the fire and by the light of many far too expensive candles. They gave colour to grey winter nights and brought romance into the monotonous lives of castle folk. Our With Sword in my Hand is such a ballad.

So… Jean-Claude and Pat – welkom, bienvenue, welcome to the House of Onion. We feel very privileged to be your Australian home!

*Dank je Bruno, for the Dutch lesson.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you this public service announcement

Go Cats!

Regular programming will resume shortly.

NB This message was not approved by everyone in the House of Onion, but there are times when the only right thing to do is railroad all opposition. This is one of those times.

22 September 2009

Introducing... Karen Healey

If we could play the trumpet we'd be tootin'.
If we had bells, they'd be ringin'.
If there was music, we'd be jivin'.
And if we were Slash from Guns N' Roses* we'd be rockin' a 10 minute wailing guitar solo... because Karen Healey is in the House.

Which, my friends, is a fine thing indeed.

Here are some items of interest about Karen:
1. She grew up in a town which is famous for penguins.
2. She runs the feminist comics organisation girl-wonder.org.
3. As well as writing a novel and appearing regularly at an internet near you, she is also writing a PhD on superhero comics. (Hello, people - a PhD on superhero comics!) If you want to know more about that you'll have to ask Karen, because the whole thing about PhDs is that you have to know more than anyone else does about what it is that you know a lot about. (You can see why it's best if we don't explain these things.)
4. For a while she worked in a bookshop to support her books-comics-and-Diet Coke habit.
5. She is from New Zealand, which is also the home of many other cool things, like the chilly bin.

We have been so excited to have Karen in the House of Onion that we haven't been able to resist mentioning her already. But now it's time for her book to step into the spotlight: because Guardian of the Dead is a ludicrously good read, and we are publishing it in April** 2010. w00t!

So... what if we told you about a novel that has a main character called Ellie, who is smart and strong and courageous and funny?
And what if she is also a black-belt in taekwondo?
And what if she has interesting friends, and mortally scary enemies, and maybe a few other things in her life that are half-way in between?

If you are anything like us, you would say, 'Holy freakin' sweet, the only thing that could make this book any better is if it contained myth, magic, Māori and Pākehā , conflicting and complementary truths, the collision of the ancient and the modern, and different ways to view the world... oh and a love interest.'

To which we would reply... 'It's all there, INCLUDING THE HOT LOVE INTEREST.'

And then we would all relax and stop yelling and wait patiently with our hands clasped.

Our cover design isn't quite ready yet - so instead here is a picture of Karen herself:

I'm sorry, you may not take her home. But in April 2010, you may take home Guardian of the Dead.

So... Karen Healey - welcome to the House of Onion! We're delighted to have you, and we hope you'll put your feet up on the coffee table and make yourself at home.

* Don't even get us started on the missing apostrophe before the N
**It's entirely possible that if you read this post in the first 16 hours it was up you might have made note of a different pub date. Apologies for that. Editor-fail.

21 September 2009

Introducing... Libba Bray!

Stamp your feet, swish your tail, chew your cud in an excited fashion because we are welcoming Libba Bray to the House of Onion! Mooooo!*

Why are we behaving like barnyard animals?
Because in February 2010 we will be unleashing Libba's wonderful book Going Bovine on an unsuspecting Australian public.

Here are some things about Libba:
1. She is related to Davy Crockett (on her mum's side.)
2. She names her computers.
3. She is the New York Times bestselling author of A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing.
4. She lives in New York City, where she can often be found not eating doughnuts (although she spells them differently).
5. Her latest book is Going Bovine, which we are publishing in Feb 2010. (Did we mention that?)
We're not quite sure how to define Going Bovine - it's a bit of a boundary-buster. What we do know is that we love it. In an attempt to be more specific we will ask ourselves some questions about it and then, helpfully, we will answer them.

Q) Who is Going Bovine for?
A) Teenagers. Oh and definitely adults. And certainly garden gnomes. Also probably some Norse gods would like it. And very possibly Miguel de Cervantes. But maybe cows should steer (ha!) clear.

Q) What is it like?
A) It's the funniest thing we've ever read. No wait, it's really sad and moving. And it certainly makes you think. But also it's a strange road-trip that just sweeps you along.

Q) Is there any romance in it?
A) Yes!

Q) Does it contain any penetrating philosophical questions?
A) Why, yes, Grasshopper.

Q) What about the main character, Cameron, will I like him?
A) You will love him! And then you will want to shake him by the shoulders and give him a good talking to, and then you will love him some more.

Go here to find Libba's official website.
Go here for her blog.
Go here to see a cow chewing its cud in an excited fashion.

We're desperately hoping that Libba will make it to Australia at some stage, and that when she does she will bring her cow suit to the House of Onion.

What cow suit? you ask.
THIS ONE... Behold the wonder...

If that video didn't move you (What are you, made of stone?), you can read other people's raves here, here and, well, all over the web really.

So... Libba Bray - welcome to the House of Onion! We're very pleased and proud to be publishing Going Bovine.

*Anyone who's read Margaret Mahy's The Tricksters will remember that moooo means good and grunt means bad. It's all mooooo round here this morning.

18 September 2009

Friday good stuff and excellent items

Next week will be Trumpets, Bells and Drums week at Alien Onion.

We've got a swag of new authors on our 2010 list and we are particularly pleased and proud to welcome them to the House of Onion, so we're throwing a parade - par-ump-upum-pa!

We'll be introducing one a day all next week.

Some of these authors are new to us but well-known in the wider world, and some are publishing their very first novels.

So bring your tickertape, your confetti, your rice (or is that just weddings?) and get ready to throw things in celebration. (Hats in the air? Yes. Shoes at people's heads? No.)

We are doing the dance of love all through the corridors of the House of Onion, past the (winsome, well-behaved) photocopier*, up and down the stairs, round the recycling bins and out onto the fire escape. Because look what has landed:

It's The Tango Collection, edited by the extraordinary and ever-effervescent Bernard Caleo.

And it's stuffed to the gills with clever, funny, moving, abrasive, rude, charming and delightful work, by creators who can take their pick as to which combination of those adjectives fits them best. It's a celebration of love in all its guises. Huzzah!

Wait, wait! (What key is it in?) It's not quite ready for you yet. But December will be upon us any moment. We can hardly wait to see it out there in the wild, glowing brightly in its beautiful red jacket. Tempting you... Teasing you... Seducing you ... Dancing away with you...

So until next week, folks, it's goodbye from me and it's goodbye from him.

No wait - that's someone else's sign off...

Good night, Australia?
Good night and good luck?
And that's the way it is?
Peter Harvey, Canberra?
Say hi to your mum for me?

Anon, anon! Come, let's away.

* Our photocopier has been a little obstreperous of late, so perhaps if we bestow it with our love and affection it will respond in kind...

17 September 2009

I will tell you the truth. Trust me. - Liar!

We are so excited that Justine Larbalestier's brilliant new book Liar has almost hit the shelves. We've had so many lies to keep track of, and keep under our hats, so as soon as October rolls around, finally we'll be able to talk about them outside the House. Hooray!

And oh my, aren't we proud of our Bruno and his genius cover. It shouts to be picked up. It makes you want to run your hands over it, to caress that pooling blood (or is that just us and our fetish for embossing and spot gloss?).

We warn you, though, Liar is incredibly addictive. Once you pick it up and start reading, we suspect you'll find it pretty tricky to stop turning those pages.

We are also tickled pink that it's been attracting some very pleasing attention out in the world.*

Over here, the fabulous Lou Swinn & Zoe Dattner of Sleepers Publishing discuss it on their Twenty-first Century Bookshow - a terrifically refreshing, friendly and warm approach to talking about books. Pop on over and check out what they've been reading and recommending.

And look! We haz a trailer!

Oh, hello New York City. Colour us wanting to visit you immediately. If only there were some kind of portal linking Melbourne to NYC? Some kind of Magic door perhaps? Or would that be Madness?

*Okay, so some of the attention the original US cover attracted recently was not of the pleasing variety, but the outcome was. If you didn't see it splashed all over the internets at the time, you can catch up on the cover issue and the very interesting debate it sparked via the Publisher's Weekly articles and Justine's blog posts pre- and post- the decision to change the US jacket.

16 September 2009

What is YA? II - or the boogeyman in the basement (UPDATED*)

Young Adult. As a category. It does tend to mystify certain people. Not us. We're not mystified. We're won over. But some [old adults?] are all furrowed brow and shrugged shoulders."What exactly is a young adult?" they ask. "Is it a teenager? Is it a twenty-something?"

Way back on the other side of Autumn we contemplated this very question. And, well, because it's one of the things we love most in the whole wide world, we do keep returning to it as a topic.

So how delighted are we that Karen Healey's first column for Strange Horizons was inspired by a contentiously named YA session - featuring Isobelle Carmody, Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld and chaired by the indomitable Agnes Nieuwenhuizen - at the recent Melbourne Writers Festival?

Just in case you are still wondering, we are very delighted. Taking Over the Grown-ups table indeed. Boogeymen in the basement my eye.

So scoot on over to Where the Popular Kids are Sitting and check out Karen's column. She has many clever and astute things to say, such as:
Young adult fiction and speculative fiction, to me, tend to ask the same eternally fascinating questions about identity and ethics, and often present their researches into those central questions in entertaining packages. It's not that adult literary fiction can't do the same, but my hit rate tends to be higher in those parts of the bookstore.

"Science fiction's what they used to call the YA section before there was a YA section," Westerfeld said, and effortlessly articulated the feeling I'd had for years.
And the best bit is that it's a regular column. Yes! We can bookmark it. We can keep coming back for more. Oh hooray. Hooray for Healey!

*UPDATE Ooh look! It's not just us and Karen Healey feeling the need to talk about what YA is - so is Mary Pearson, author of the very fine The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Check out her post, What YA Lit is and isn't, over at tor.com.

15 September 2009

The Pointy End

In November we're publishing a BIG bind-up of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom Chronicles (Sabriel, Lirael & Abhorsen). Over 1400 pages of epic fantasy goodness.

The bind-up will be completely awesome, but 1400 typeset A4 pages do tend to clog up one's desk. When you're checking corrections, that's 2800 pages right there - pretty soon the piles are out of control, then the spine width is off the charts and you have to send it to the printer in a cardboard box.

Happily, as well as having desks full of paper, we've also had heads full of swords, and bells, and the Dead, and Charter Marks (and, you know, the ever-alluring URST between Sabriel and Touchstone and then Lirael and Nick. *swoons*)

This much more pleasurable kind of clogging got us thinking about swords in general. So we listed the famous swords we knew - just, you know, for fun. (This House gets nerdier by the moment. Hurrah!)

Of course we began with Lirael's sword Nehima, then we thought of:




and The Elder Wand (Controversial, not strictly a 'sword', clearly, but surely it takes the place a sword would occupy in another sort of fantasy?)

And if we're having the Elder Wand then surely we can justify Mr Pointy.

With the exception of Nehima and Mr Pointy, these swords are all wielded by men.

Most feisty and excellent of heroines, Wynter Moorehawke sure knows how to use a sharp and pointy object, but we don't think she names her dagger. (Right, Celine?) And Susan Pevensie is a mean archer - but it's only Peter's sword that has a name.

Does anyone know of other famous pointy objects, especially swords belonging to women?

Also, doesn't all this talk about swords just make you want to watch this...?

Ahhh that's better. Carry on.

11 September 2009

A Writer's Melbourne

In her new book A Writer’s Britain, Margaret Drabble says,

‘I am one of many who read the landscape through those who wrote about it. Walking in the footsteps of great writers, and seeing landscapes and buildings through their eyes is one of the most enjoyable and sustaining of pleasures.'
We know what she means. We Onions are some of the many.

In Britain you can't walk more than a couple of paces without tripping over the stomping ground of a famous writer: ‘Oh look, it’s Toad Hall; it’s Beatrix Potter’s house; it’s Wordsworth’s daffodil garden; we’re in Baker Street; that's the 100 Acre Wood. But you don’t have to go halfway round the world for literary landscapes. Melbourne is brimming with them.

Here are some of our favourites:

1. Aqua profonda. The beautifully misspelled warning at the deep end of the Fitzroy pool is now heritage listed. The Victorian Heritage Database explains succinctly, if a little clinically: ‘The sign achieved iconic status through its appearance in the 1977 Helen Garner novel Monkey Grip and the subsequent film where the “Aqua Profonda” sign served as a metaphor for the tempestuous relationship of the main protagonists.’ Who among us can walk past a certain ‘old brown house on the corner’ in North Fitzroy without whispering to our companion, ‘That’s the Monkey Grip house’? (Although, who knows if it really is the right one.)

2. St Kilda and the Windsor Hotel. The intrepid, the indefatigable, the elegant, the ideal Phryne Fisher is ever just around the corner about to stride by wearing a cloche hat or roar past in her red Hispano Suiza. Who can stroll down The Esplanade without keeping half an eye out for number 221B, or walk past The Windsor without wondering if Phryne is taking tea.

3. Walkerville. Alison Lester’s Magic Beach is about to celebrate a milestone birthday. For nearly 20 years kids and families have been playing in the sand at Walkerville beach and thinking to themselves, ‘At our beach, at our magic beach we search in the clear warm pools, peering at starfish, limpets and crabs, and tiny fish darting in schools.’

Where are your favourite literary landscapes?

09 September 2009

Brown paper packages tied up with string...

Or in this case a small free kiss, wrapped up in a fiery heart.

Hurrah for Glenda Millard who won the Young Adult Book Award for A Small Free Kiss in the Dark at the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards last night.

The judges said: Poetic and lyrical, with a poignant understatement that avoids cliche or sentimentality, the narrative is imbued with a sense of spiritual value, compassion, redemption and the possibility that even the most damaged of us can be heroic. This inspiring novel holds together flawlessly and would appeal to readers of 12 to old age.

Congratulations to all the other winners, too.

And what's that you say? A dictionary for the bewildered? Clever.
These are a few of our new favourite things...

emphasimia (noun) Exhaustion caused by reading texts with too many exclamation marks.

librido (noun) Specific form of sublimated sexual tension found only in libraries.

pedistriumph (noun) The look of righteous supremacy you direct at the driver of a car you forced to stop at a zebra crossing.

07 September 2009

Oh, the possibilities!

Someone came to this blog by searching for wolves chase sleigh.

Isn't there a whole world conjured up in just those three words?

We want to read that story.

Quick, somebody write it.

03 September 2009

Do you remember where you were when...

1) In 1982 one young Onion could often be found snuggled up under a doona on the top bunk in a girls boarding house in regional Victoria. The pile beside the bunk included The Racketty Street Gang by Leonard Herbert Evers, The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, The Time Machine by H G Wells and a cache of Sweet Dreams books. An interesting mix indeed.

But one book shone brighter than all the others that year: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park. It was love at first read. I gobbled it up. And I was ever after hopeful that I could find my own Little Furry Girl to follow. To this day, whenever I stray into the streets of The Rocks in Sydney they immediately evoke Abigail's world and the time-slip adventure of a life time.

2) Who knew that a darkened cinema in St Kilda in 1994 would be the site of the discovery of a revolution in storytelling? Not this Onion. I wasn't at all prepared for the genius that is Pulp Fiction. A non-linear, out-of-sequence circular narrative with three intertwining storylines, the resurrection of John Travolta's career, Jack Rabbit Slims, soundtrack-cool, dialogue to die for, and production values out the wahzoo. Watching Pulp Fiction for the first time I felt I had found the perfect storm of cinema and storytelling.

3) In early 1999 in a classroom in inner-city Melbourne a young eglantine's cake commandeered the attention of her Professional Writing & Editing classmates and insisted that the book she held in her hand was one of the best examples of kids fantasy she'd read.
'It's cool. It's based around magic and a boarding school for wizards,' she said. 'It's utterly compelling. I reckon it's going to be big.'
The cynical Onion-to-be in the room respected her opinion, but remained doubtful for a good thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone. I was even haughty about the typesetting. And then, as if by magic, I was simply swept away, into the world of witchcraft and wizardry, wands and Weasleys, nearly headless Nick, house-elves and Quidditch, telepathic sorting hats and invisibility cloaks. Oh, hooray. Hooray for Harry!

4) In 2003 a couple of Onions were keeping an eye out for interesting book covers to brief a designer on a new project. As soon as we saw the cover of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time in The Bookseller we were smitten. We wanted it in our hands, poste haste. I downed tools; I was straight out the door to the nearest book store.

Unexpectedly it was a hardback. With dust jacket (ooh la la!). It felt good. It looked good. It was GOOD. And it had what is perhaps the best blurb ever. A triumph of less is more: 5 red cars mean that it is going to be a Super Good Day.

Beaming with the thrill of discovery I whisked it to the counter.

Bookseller: "It's a great cover isn't it."
Onion: "Yes! And a brilliant blurb."
Bookseller: (Shakes head, raises eyebrows and pulls mouth down with grudging agreement.) "But I guess you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover."
Onion: "Oh, but I am. I have no idea what this book is about. I haven't even opened it. I am buying it purely because I love this cover. It's fantastic. The boldness of the white, the matt finish, the spot gloss on the car and the dog's blood. The wonderful simplicity of the blurb. It is a beautiful package. Superb. Courageous."

Bookseller backs away from Onion to indicate he doesn't want to engage with the weird book-fetish person any more.

Don't you just love the shock of the new.

02 September 2009

In sickness...

Some of the Onions have been feeling rather poorly lately, and have had to take to their beds. While we are sad for them, and wish them speedy recovery, it put us in mind of a list - and you all know how we love a list.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
What with her sweetness, her kindness, her quiet shyness and her tirelessly charitable nature, Beth was definitely the GOOD girl; some might say uber-good - and look what happened to her!

Dignity in death is all very well, but this Onion found that the clear lesson to be learned here was: be bold girls - rage, rage against the dying of the light - and any other confinements that might confront you.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
'When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another.'
And then there's cousin Colin, incurable invalid and destined to die young...
Didn't we all secretly hope that we too could find our own version of that miraculously reviving garden of delights?

Perhaps the lesson here could be: nature can triumph over nurture.

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
Katy Carr's hair is always a mess, and often there are tears in her dress, and she doesn't care at all for being GOOD. But then, when she wilfully disobeys an instruction not to use the swing, she is paralysed and forced to spend FOUR YEARS confined to her room. Katy must find the courage to look inside herself, cultivate her daydreams and practice patience and responsibility if she is to recover and do something grand...

While a favourite for many, this 'classic' proved far too much of an unwelcome morality tale for some young Onions - and was unceremoniously cast across the room and abandoned. Abandoned, I say. For good.

Oh, must there always be a lesson to be learned? Surely there's an uplifting item for our list of confinement books. Oh wait - here's one we prepared earlier:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Grandson: A book?

That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father, and today, I'm gonna read it to you.

Does it got any sports in it?

Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, miracles....

Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try and stay awake.