Things are ripping along over here at Wakefield Press HQ. We all know that the lead up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year, but this year we decided to challenge ourselves by bringing out a bunch of new books at the same time. Johnny in the warehouse is getting a workout!
First things first: you’ve all had a peek at Janis Sheldrick’s superb Nature’s Line: George Goyder, Surveyor, Environmentalist, Visionary by now, and bought a few copies for Christmas presents (not yet? Don’t worry, let us help you out with that). This one has been flying off the shelves since it arrived late last month.
Then, of course, you’ve all seen Rodney Fox’s joy at the final version of Sharks, the Sea and Me, an extraordinary autobiography about his extraordinary life. This one will be launched at our book fair extravaganza, which is only three sleeps from now.
In the last few days, we’ve also welcomed in stock of Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island: The Story of Robe, which details the history of the Limestone Coast town alongside beautiful images (see the gorgeous cover to the left). There have been a lot of people eagerly awaiting the arrival of this title, with Harfull’s Blue Ribbon Cookbook one of Wakefield’s most popular titles from the last few years, and Australian winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, in the Best Easy Recipes category.
Last but certainly not least, there’s also Don Loffler’s Holden Days, the hardback reprint of the latest Holden title from Loffler’s extremely popular series. Something to flick through and think about while the productivity commission rolls on.
One of the best things about working for a publishing house is getting to see an author’s face when they see the first boxful of books:
… So much joy, right? And this is a guy who survived a shark attack! It’s a fascinating story, and you can read all about it in his book, available here, or see the man himself at the book launch:
Lisa Fabry‘s two great passions in life – food and yoga – led her to the ‘divine vegan’ concept, a way of combining practical food choices with ethical, moral and spiritual awareness. Born in London, Lisa now lives in Adelaide. She has worked as a film and television producer, writer, editor, barista, chef, and yoga teacher. In between times, she home educated her two daughters, and ran a vegan, organic cafe. You can visit Lisa Fabry at www.divinevegan.com to drool over her desserts, and then you can head to our website to drool over the book, Divine Vegan Desserts!
The passage below is an excerpt on De Bolhoed, a vegetarian restaurant in Amsterdam:
It had been a struggle to find vegan food when travelling for three weeks in France and Italy. My two daughters and I had been living, on the whole, on crusty bread and ripe, knobbly tomatoes. The bread and tomatoes in France and Italy are undoubtedly among the best in the world, but one can overdo it. We were desperate to get to Amsterdam and the myriad vegan eats to be had there. De Bolhoed was our destination for brunch on our first morning. De Bolhoed means ‘The Bowler Hat’ in Dutch. Contrary to internet rumour it was not built on the site of an old hat shop but started about 25 years ago as a health food store and is now a well-known vegetarian restaurant. The owner just thought the name sounded nice! De Bolhoed sits on the edge of one of Amsterdam’s grandest and most beautiful canals, the Prinsengracht, about five minutes walk from the Anne Frank House. You can sit outside by the canal and watch the bikes whizz past, or choose one of the tables inside the cafe where the walls are decorated with painted pumpkin vines and eclectic artworks. It was busy when we arrived and all the outdoor and window tables were occupied, so we sat at a cosy corner table on bench seats below shelves covered with ornaments. We wondered why a big, fat ginger and white cat was looking at us strangely, but when he leaped up and installed himself in the corner of the bench seat we noticed the indentation in the cushion and the cat hairs that told us this was his place. He deigned to share it with us for the morning. The food at De Bolhoed is organic, all vegetarian and mostly vegan, with generous portions at a fair price for expensive Amsterdam. The menu is a mix of world cuisines – Mexican, Asian, African, Mediterranean – with an amazing array of salads which are prepared fresh daily. Each day there is a mixed vegan plate on offer, which contains seven or eight different dishes, both hot and cold. And joy of joys, after three weeks of dessert fasting, there was a tall fridge stuffed full of pies, cheesecakes and cakes, many of them vegan. We had a delicious meal, and although we looked at the other restaurants on my list, we came back to De Bolhoed every day for the rest of our stay in Amsterdam.
Decorations for the 2013 Christmas Book Fair are looking mighty fine, if we do say so ourselves.
We’ve got pretty pinwheels for the kids:
Some amazing quote boards (wise words, JW Eagan, wise words indeed):
And these bad boys have been working on their fierce faces:
Aren’t they adorable?
All thanks to the creative genius of Liz Nicholson! Only two and half weeks to go!
In 1974 Bruce and Kristin Munday bought a farm in the Adelaide Hills where they raised sheep, cattle and three children, and planted many trees. When the kids left home Bruce established his own business as a communications consultant in natural resource management and discovered how much he enjoyed sharing stories with people living on the land – particularly those who love the land and want to conserve it. Those Dry-Stone Walls documents the beauty of South Australia’s dry-stone walls, many of which have defied gravity – without mortar – since early settlement.
We asked Bruce a few questions about his interest in dry-stone walls and the process of making the book.
When did you first become interested in dry-stone walls, and how?
I have always admired the stone architecture in SA and we have several old dry-stone walls near our property at Tungkillo. Some are in good condition while others are tumbling down, but they all said something about early settlement in the district. What really got me going was visiting Peru about 10 years ago and seeing the remarkable dry-stone structures about which so little is known as the Incas had no written language. That prompted me to investigate if there had been any research into the dry-stone walls in SA.
What was your favourite moment during the writing of the book?
Favourite was the comment from Marcus Beresford (Nat Trust SA) who, after reviewing the first draft wrote that ‘this is a compelling story, delightfully told. I will certainly buy the book’. At that moment I knew I had a book.
Those Dry-stone Walls has become very popular. Have you received any interesting feedback from readers?
I have been lucky. The book launch was a great success and that set the scene for a positive reaction to the book. I have received many favourable comments from people who took the time to write or email and several invitations to speak to local history groups, etc. Perhaps the most encouraging comments came from serious history buffs who expressed pleasure that someone had undertaken this work. The most moving came from a letter I received from Liz Mitchell, the widow of Kim to whom I dedicated the book. Liz wrote: The book was passed around the family, and inspired many discussions about stone walls and Kim. The children asked what it meant to ‘dedicate’ a book to someone, and grew prouder of their Dad as I explained as best I could. I found that, and indeed her whole letter, very moving.
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
My power would be to recover all the stone that has been pillaged from old stone walls, remove them from their present location in private gardens, etc, and return them to from whence they came. I would leave behind a note saying ‘shame on you’ signed ‘History Superhero’.
What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
Your Brick Oven – just what I needed to build my own
The Adelaide Parklands – there is nothing else like it
Another day, another profile of one of Wakefield Press’s amazing authors!
Valerie Volk is a former secondary teacher, tertiary lecturer, and director of an international education program. She has won awards for poetry and short fiction and has published widely in journals, anthologies and magazines. Her first book, In Due Season, won the Omega Writers CALEB Poetry Prize in 2010, and there have been enthusiastic reviews of both her verse novel A Promise of Peaches and her sardonic modern versions of Grimms’ Tales, Even Grimmer Tales. Her fourth book, Passion Play: The Oberammergau Tales, reflects both a love of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that was born during a Year 12 English course many decades ago and also her fascination with the infinite variety of human beings.
We caught up with Valerie to ask a few questions about Passion Play, which is a verse novel based around the Oberammergau Passion Play, performed every ten years in a tradition dating back to the 17th century.
Have you ever attended the Passion Play at Oberammergau?
Yes, three times, in 1990, 2000, 2010 – but I first discovered Oberammergau when driving through southern Germany in 1973 (a non-Passion Play year) and became fascinated by the place and the ten-yearly event.
How did you develop the structure and characters for your verse novel Passion Play?
I’ve always wanted to do a modern parallel to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, so this four day bus trip and its group of varied characters travelling to the Passion Play provided me with the perfect structure for such a creation. Except that these people do not copy Chaucer’s and tell stories to entertain each other; instead they reveal their own lives in monologues or discussions that are often painfully honest. As for the characters? Most of them are today’s equivalents of the Chaucerian group – even to Chaucer’s Cook becoming a modern TV cooking contest winner …
What is you favourite line or two of verse in the book?
This is so hard – it’s difficult to extract lines from a novel, which is basically a narrative. Perhaps the journalist, as she returns and sits in Changi airport, waiting her last stage flight home :
How that word sums it up.
I am in transit.
Around me all the buzz of airport lounge.
The crowds of travellers,
arrivals weary as they trudge
to baggage claims,
then out into the humid dark
of Singapore, its tropic night,
its frangipani air.
If you weren’t a poet, what do you think your occupation would be?
I’d be properly retired, sitting in the sun, reading a crime novel … instead of feeling compelled to write!
What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
A long way back favourite, Peter Goldsworthy’s Bleak Rooms, for its brilliant vignettes of life in a short story collection, and his amazing understanding of people.
Lolo Houbein’s One Magic Square, for its vision of sustainable life, which almost sent me out to plant my own small plot of ground.
John Neylon’s Robert Hannaford, for the insight it gave into this great South Australian artist, and the wonderful reproductions of his work – I’ll never be able to afford an original, but I can enjoy them in the book.
Jude Aquilina’s poetry, especially in the witty and sardonic WomanSpeak.
Here’s something fun for your Thursday reading pleasure:
The Huffington Post has put together a list of 11 untranslatable words from other cultures.
With such gems as culaccino (Italian), the mark left on a table by a cold glass, or komorebi (Japanese), the effect of sunlight filtering through trees, this list was made for poets!
May we suggest looking over the article, then settling in with a copy of Miriel Lenore’s In the Garden to capture that komorebi feeling?
In other news, it turns out that the Wakefield aim can be condensed into one word in the Urdu language: goya means ‘the transporting suspensions of disbelief that can occur in good storytelling’. Brilliant.
Jude Aquilina’s poetry and short stories have been published in newspapers, anthologies and literary journals in Australia and abroad. Jude has been a guest speaker at numerous writers’ festivals, including Adelaide Writers’ Week, Canberra Spring Poetry Festival and Penola Arts Festival. She has published two collections of her own poetry: Knifing the Ice (Friendly Street Poets/Wakefield Press 2000) and On a Moon Spiced Night (Wakefield Press 2004). She has also published one coauthored collection, WomanSpeak (Wakefield Press, 2009), co-written with Louise Nicholas, and one edited collection, Tadpoles in the Torrens (Wakefield Press, 2013). Many of her poems have won awards.
We asked Jude a few questions about being a poet, and Tadpoles in the Torrens.
Can you tell us a bit about the process for putting together Tadpoles in the Torrens? Did you have a favourite moment as editor?
A few years ago, I was looking for collections of poetry for children, by South Australian writers. I soon realized it was over 20 years since one had been published. When I told Michael Bollen, he said he’d be interested in such a book. I was excited and set about gathering the poems. It was a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but it didn’t matter if pieces of the sky ended up in the river – I just chose the pieces I liked the shape, feel or colour of! I had over 300 poems from children’s poets and authors to choose from. I called for submissions from the writing group ‘The Echidnas’ who are all published SA children’s writers, and I looked through past issues of The School Magazine (NSW Education Dept), to find SA poets who were being published at present. I was amazed to find so many wonderful poets and poems, hiding like frogs in the state’s backyard!
Some of the best moments, as editor, were talking on the phone to the late and great Max Fatchen. He was thrilled with the idea of Tadpoles in the Torrens and would call me from time to time; he was always full of encouragement and loved to talk about poetry and words. He told me he thought ‘Seagulls on the Oval’ was the best poem he’d ever written. I was thrilled to include it in Tadpoles in the Torrens, along with other Max Fatchen gems. I loved Max’s sense of humour and the way he wrote about everyday things, yet made them special – and he never said a bad word about anyone. He will always be my writing role-model.
Do you have a writing routine? Why/why not?
No, I do not have a routine and never have. As a freelance writer/mentor and TAFE teacher, my working hours are haphazard, so there is not much point in a strict routine. I prioritise. This means some projects on the back-burner take longer, but I believe writing and publishing books happens from a cumulative effect. Eventually everything you do comes in handy!
Is there one poem that has inspired you more than any other? If so, what is it and why?
Throughout my childhood, my father read poetry to me from little suede-covered books. I loved all the English poets, but the poem I thought about the most was a poem called ‘The Sands of Dee’ by Charles Kingsley. It was about Mary, who went to bring the cattle home, but a high tide came and drowned her. I’d lay awake in bed, thinking of Mary and all those bloated cows … And never home came she … for the cruel, foaming sea, the cruel, hungry sea, had taken her away! Later, I discovered contemporary women poets like Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright whose poetry inspired me to write my own poetry.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
If I die, I’d like to come back as a pelican … a large bird that other birds can’t pick on; liked by humans and not considered edible, that lives near water, fishes and flies around all day and fills its bill with nibblies for later on.
What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
An all-time favourite WP book is The River Kings by Max Fatchen. I think every South Australian should read this book. Max was a master story-teller and captures the SA landscape and its people so accurately. A recent favourite novel is Margaret Merrilees’ The First Week. I couldn’t put this beautifully-written book down. No wonder it won the WP Unpublished Manuscript Award. The story is told through the eyes of a country mum (like me) in such a way that the reader becomes that character as she finds out about a tragedy that will change her life. Another favourite is The Colour of Kerosene by Cameron Raynes. I’ve always loved reading short stories and this collection of stunning contemporary stories continues to resonate. And of course there are many poetry books I love, including Miriel Lenore’s In the Garden, and Mike Ladd’s Karrawirra Parri. It’s great to see WP supporting genres like poetry and short stories, when they are not considered fashionable (goodness knows why!).