29 June 2012

Adventures Between the Lines

Editing. Such a quiet task. We sit calmly at our desks, poring over manuscripts, checking proofs, writing cover briefs and wrangling general book-making tasks. But sometimes, just sometimes, we are required to venture out into the real world.

And sometimes even the surreal world...

Rose Chong is a Melbourne institution. Have a desperate need to dress like a French Revolutionary? Want to take a turn about a party as a large fluffy rabbit? Not quite sure what to wear to a super-hero-themed function? Rose Chong is your place.

So why were we there? What could we possibly need in the way of costumery?

For magical reasons.
For fairy tale reasons.
For reasons of great excitement and delight.

*trumpet fanfare*
*hush descending*

Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer will be arriving on our fair shores next month for a whirlwind Between the Lines book tour all across our wide brown land.

And for one of their Melbourne events - there is a theme. A theme! Everyone loves a theme! *cue theme music*
Enter the magical realm of a Fairy Tale . . . Come dressed as an imaginary magical/fairy tale character and slip 'Between the Lines'.
But Jodi and Sammy can't possibly cart costumes around the world in their hand-luggage. So we were on a mission, a mission to find the perfect Fairy Tale costumes for Jodi and Sammy to wear.

They needed to be fairy-tale related...

But not petrify the audience. Wolf - off the table.


They needed to be eye-catching...

But appropriate for a Melbourne winter. Frilled-neck siren - regretfully no.


They needed to not be too serious...

But we try to be fair-minded, so no wolf = no pig.


They needed to be regal and iconic...

 Just no.


Do Jodi and Sammy need a familiar?


Maybe...? No.


Things were looking grim.

And then we spied them. The perfect costumes. Just waiting for us.

So, what did we choose?

No spoilers here, people. If you want to know in what fabulous fairytale gear Jodi and Sammy will be appearing, you'll just have to go to their event. IN YOUR OWN COSTUME!


But like all good fairy tales, we didn't reach our happily ever after without a little trial and tribulation. First there was the Dramatic Reveal where, as if by magic, a skirt disappeared. And *pouffe* an Onion was revealed in all her... glory... standing in a pile of satin in the middle of Rose Chong.*

And as if that wasn't enough, an evil zip conspired to entrap our heroine in a neverending embrace of white lace. Just when it looked as though the enchantment would never be broken, a knight rode up,** her vorpal blade went snicker-snack,*** and the damsel was free to don her own clothes and what was left of her dignity.

All in all, it was a very fine afternoon. 

*Don't worry, Jodi, Sammy, we figured 'staying on' was an important part of the job description, so we immediately relegated the offending item to the NO pile.
**A very lovely lady came out from behind the counter.
*** She really was very handy with a pair of scissors.

21 June 2012

The Shortest Day

Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day. This year it might also take a prize for the wettest.

Melbourne is doing its thing. Not its variable, four-seasons-in-one-day thing. Its grey thing. Its Rainy City thing.

We need a little injection of sunshine, a little reminder that winters in Melbourne don't last forever ... and a little bit of excitement.

So here is a wee sneak preview of Maureen McCarthy's new novel The Convent, which will be out in October.

Set in and around the Abbotsford Convent over four generations, The Convent is definitely a Melbourne book. But it's bigger than that. It makes me cry just thinking about it. It's full of everything you love about Maureen's writing: big gutsy love, identity, faith, family, friendship, sex, motherhood. It's funny and it's heart-aching and it makes me wish I could mail a reading copy to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

But for the moment you'll just have to settle for this extract. Think summer thoughts. And enjoy!

I love the Fitzroy Swimming Pool and so let me count the ways. It's Olympic size, so the laps you do are proper ones. It's open all year around. The water is virtually cold, with just the chill taken off. And best of all it's outside. Indoor pools make me feel like I'm swimming in soup.

The sky has darkened again by the time I get there, purple black with dramatic streaks of white light breaking through all over, and the crowd is leaving in droves. Suits me. I head into the women's change rooms. Around me there are women in varying stages of undress. Any body size or shape fits in here. I tell Stella this but she doesn't believe me. I'm changing into my black Speedos right next to a large muscly woman in her sixties with grey hair and tats on both forearms. She is having an animated conversation with a really old skinny woman - must be about eighty - about hip-replacement operations. They're cackling about how bits of their bodies have begun dropping off. Other people are listening and smiling. The really old one has plastic daisies hanging from her ears. Her bathers look plastic too.

On the other side of me are three glamorous young mums trying to deal with babies and tired preschoolers who don't want to put their clothes on after their shower. Then there is the pack of teenage girls gossiping and preening in front of the mirrors in their skimpy underwear. And next to the showers are two tall, brown-skinned women dressed in bright purple and orange with cloth wound around their heads. They're laughing as they muster about half a dozen little kids who don't want to go home.

I pick up my towel, walk out, pick the fast lane and hit the water.

One lap, two, four, eight. I surge through the water, the frustration rushing through my arms and legs, making them strong. Before I know it I've done fourteen laps and it feels like I've just started.

I could swim forever.

19 June 2012

A Two Cake Day

Like finding an acorn in your tea-leaves,

like spotting (and then deftly not killing) an albatross,

or like seeing five red cars in a row,

discovering two cakes in the kitchen means it's going to be a Super Good Day.*

*Or it could mean Super Long Meeting Day. But at least there was cake. Two cakes. Two Super Good Cakes. Phew.

14 June 2012

Inky Awards Long Lists

Melbourne in winter. The sky is grey. The temperature has risen three whole degrees since the overnight low. There is rain on the radar.* 

So, inside the House, the winter woollies are getting a good work out and we are huddled around our heaters. But do not despair, we Onions are not nearly as gloomy as the weather. We are positively glowing with delight because the Inky Long List has been announced and we have NEWS to TRUMPET!

Long-listed for the Gold Inky (Australian titles)

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan 

Long Listed for the Silver Inky (International titles)

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Many HOORAYS for Margo!
Many HOORAYS for Andrew!
Many HOORAYS for Brigid!

We congratulate all the authors on the Gold & Silver Long Lists, and now we shall quietly cross all of our fingers and all of our toes for the Short List announcement on 27 August.

*We even saw one of Inky's relatives all rugged up when we braved the cold outdoors to fetch some hot coffee.

08 June 2012

Friday Stuff and items

1) If you've ever met her, you'll know that that Lili Wilkinson is certainly FUN and FEARLESS and now her fun, fearless spirit has been recognised by the good people at Cosmopolitan magazine who have nominated her in the Author category of their Fun, Fearless, Female awards. It's a competition, people! Go forth and VOTE!

2) And speaking of FUN and FEARLESS, if you've ever been to one of his launches, you'll know that that Bernard Caleo is clever and funny and larger-than-life and REALLY knows how to put on an EVENT. If you haven't had the pleasure, you're in LUCK - because, not only is he making a documentary with filmaker Daniel Hayward he's presenting a Graphic Novels! Melbourne! benefit event at the Westgarth Cinema in Northcote on Wednesday 20 June at 6.30pm. Graphic Novels! Melbourne! is a film about, let's see, well, graphic novels. And, you guessed it, Melbourne. Book here for the benefit event, people, book here.

Herewith a trailer for the film - and it features two of our very own Onions. Enjoy!

3) And speaking of clever people AND trailers AND competitions AND magazines, did you know that that very clever Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, her very clever teenage daughter, have written a young adult novel together. It's true! It's true! It's called Between the Lines and it's a wonderful story about Delilah - who hates school as much as she loves books - AND an unexpectedly real Prince Charming. It's chock full of romance, humour, fantasy and action and it will cast its spell over you. HOORAY!

Herewith, Dolly magazine are offering a chance to win tickets to Jodi and Sammy's events when they visit Australia next month. Hurry, hurry, hurry, people! Competition closes at midnight on 12 June.

Further herewith: a gorgeous trailer!

06 June 2012

The Transit of Venus

As viewed from East Melbourne.

Don't worry, we didn't look directly at it.

We rigged up a a telescope with a solar filter.

The results were better than we could have anticipated.*


*The role of the sun in today's transit was played by a Pear and Chocolate Tart made by The Cake-maker Virtuoso.