• Author Profiles – Jude Aquilina

    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.

    Jude AquilinaCan 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!).

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  • Author Profiles – Sharon Kernot

    Sharon Kernot worked as a community support worker in a child protection agency in the northern suburbs of Adelaide for eleven years. She has a masters in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide and a PhD from Flinders University. Underground Road is Sharon Kernot’s first novel. It was shortlisted in the Unpublished Manuscript category of the Adelaide Festival Awards in 2010. Sharon is also the author of a collection of short stories, In the Shadows of the Garden, and one of poetry, Washday Pockets. You can find her website at www.sharonkernot.com.au.

    We asked Sharon a few questions about Underground Road.

    Sharon KernotWould you be able to identify a high point during the writing of Underground Road? And a low point?

    When I was writing the Underground Road I had no idea how it was going to end because I’m not a plotter or planner and my writing practice is a bit chaotic so I don’t always write scenes (or chapters) in chronological order. I didn’t know if all the threads from each character would tie together. This wasn’t a low point as such but it did provide quite a bit of anxiety along the way. The high point came in the end when everything fit together neatly despite my concerns. I’ve just finished a draft of a new novel and while I was writing I had to keep reminding myself to keep writing because even though I had no idea where it was going, it’d all work out in the end.

    Can you tell us about what you’re working on next?
    As mentioned above, I’ve just finished the draft of another novel; it’s tentatively called Remembering Faith. The story revolves around Faith who has issues with her memory due to a serious accident when she was younger. Throughout the course of the novel she tries to uncover her past and discovers that her life was nothing like she thought. The story is set in two different time periods – the mid-2000s and the 1960s – the 1960s scenes are written from a child’s perspective. It’s really quite different from Underground Road but there’s still a lot of tension and suspense.

    Who is your favourite Australian author?
    I don’t have a favourite as such but I do love Tim Winton’s books and I’m currently reading his latest, Eyrie. I went to listen to him read at Elder Hall recently along with about 600 others. I love the fact that he’s so down to earth and unpretentious. Chris Tsiolkas’ new novel, Barracuda, is next in line. I enjoyed The Slap particularly for its multiple viewpoints and structure, so I thought I give this one a go too.
    I admire Helen Garner’s writing for her brevity and precision, and her courage to write about difficult issues as in The Spare Room and Joe Cinque’s Consolation. I also love Sonya Hartnett’s novels – Sleeping Dogs, Of a Boy and Butterfly; the late Dorothy Porter’s verse novels particularly The Monkey’s Mask and What a Piece of Work, and Cate Kennedy’s short stories.

    If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
    When I was in my early twenties I lived on the Greek island Hydra for a short time. I loved it and have always wanted to go back. It’s quite a famous island in the sense that a lot of writers, artists and musicians have lived there over the years – George Johnson, Charmian Clift, Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley to name a few. I think Leonard Cohen still has a house there. Ironically, at the time of staying, I had no idea who might have been living there. It clearly had a vibrant artistic community but what I loved most, apart from the stunning views, was the fact that there were no cars only donkeys, bicycles and boats for transport. I’d love to go back and live there for a while, perhaps a year … and if Leonard Cohen’s there – all the better!

    What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
    I’ve just finished reading Margaret Merrilees The First Week which I really enjoyed. I could empathise with the main character, Marian, as she struggled to understand why her son has done something horrific. Mothers, I think, tend to blame themselves when things go wrong for their children, and Mag captured this beautifully. She also writes evocatively of the Western Australian landscape and how it has been ruined by farming. Jude Aquilina and Louise Nicholas’s poetry collection Woman Speak is an old favourite – it’s funny and rude and obviously quite different from The First Week but I love these two talented South Australian poets. I also have a copy of the Tadpoles anthology of poetry which was edited by Jude; it’s full of wonderful children’s poems by South Australian poets including the late Max Fatchen. I’d recommend it to teachers or anyone who has children or grandchildren

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  • Author Profiles – Rodney Fox

    In the summer of 1963, Rodney Fox became famous when he survived a brutal shark attack off a suburban beach. Gathering his courage he returned to the sea, determined to make his living there. He fished for abalone and built the first shark cage. Hollywood came calling. Over five decades Rodney Fox has led hundreds of expeditions to introduce filmmakers, scientists, shark researchers and tourists to one of the world’s great adventures — each endeavour adding grand stories to an exciting life.

    We asked Rodney a few questions about this extraordinary life, and his experiences with the great beasts of the deep.

    Do you have a favourite memory from your years of interacting with sharks?
    My favourite memory would be when I scratched the back of a 10m whale shark and watched it wobble and shake in pleasure.

    Can you share any bizarre or little known facts about sharks?
    When I witnessed two young adult dolphins harass a 4.5m great white shark whilst other dolphins in the family group ushered their baby dolphins away.

    Who’s the most famous person your work has led you to meet?
    I’ve spent a few hours in a shark cage with a Miss Universe and made films with Jean Michel Cousteau and also Fred Gwynn from The Addams Family.

    If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
    I would be a tall, elegant and colourful giraffe.

    Can you tell us about some of your favourite books, and why you like them so much?
    Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey series, starting with Master and Commander, is a favourite of mine because of the books’ sense of adventure and camaraderie, as well as the way that O’Brian brings early history to life.

    Rodney Fox

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  • Author Profiles – Derek Pedley

    Derek Pedley is a journalist with more than 25 years’ experience at Australian newspapers. He is now engaged in the dark art of daily news production at the Advertiser and adelaidenow.com.au. His work has been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime twice, with Australian Outlaw – The True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott shortlisted in 2007, and Dead by Friday shortlisted in 2013. Pedley lives in Adelaide’s far northern suburbs, on the wrong side of the Mullet-Proof Fence.

    We asked Derek a few questions about his career as a crime writer, and the fascinating story behind his latest book, Dead by Friday.

    Derek PedleyWhat was it that drew you to write about this particular crime?

    Michelle Burgess and her thoroughly deranged behaviour and personality. She is a remorseless sexual predator and I wanted to find out what made her tick. There was also the fact that the hitman ate one of the murder contracts in a sandwich. For me, that really summed up the bizarre nature of this case.

    As a journalist with more than 25 years of experience, can you tell us what the most interesting story you’ve worked on is?
    The exploits of bank robber and fugitive Brenden Abbott were sufficiently fascinating – and elusive – to keep me occupied for ten years and two books.

    What will you be looking at in your next book?
    I have an idea for another book involving unsolved major crimes. But I’m taking an extended break because since 1998, I’ve been constantly planning, researching or writing a book. It’s time to recharge the batteries and I’m enjoying spending a lot more time with my family.

    Which living person do you most admire?
    That’s a dead heat between American writer David Simon and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen

    What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
    It’s hard to narrow it down. What I like most about the Wakefield catalogue is the amazing breadth of Australian stories, whether it’s landscapes, histories, people, or infrastructure. It is absolutely essential that readers support a publisher like Wakefield, because no one else in SA – and perhaps even Australia – gives a voice to Australian stories the way Wakefield does. Their motto is “We love good stories and publish beautiful books” and I think that’s exactly what readers want.

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  • Author Profiles – Mag Merrilees

    Margaret Merrilees was born and bred in Western Australia but now lives in Adelaide. Her idiosyncratic essays, which combine fiction, history and social commentary, have appeared in Meanjin, Island, Wet Ink and Griffith Review. Margaret is also author of the online serial ‘Adelaide Days’. The First Week won the SA Festival Award for an Unpublished Manuscript at Adelaide Writers’ Week in 2012. Her website is at www.margaretmerrilees.com.

    We asked Mag a few questions about her new book, The First Week.

    Margaret Merrilees by Kate StropinWhat’s been the best reaction you’ve had so far to the book? And the worst?

    Best reaction from my sister who immediately set out to try and sell the book in country WA. No bad reactions – though one woman said very cheerfully that she wasn’t going to buy it because she never reads books. Fair enough!

    The First Week deals with some large and occasionally uncomfortable topics – was it difficult to write?
    Writing The First Week certainly brought me up against some painful memories of my own. Telling them as someone else’s story, distancing them, is one way of making sense of things.

    Who is your favourite author?
    I have many favourite authors but if I had to name a single one it would be Jane Austen, my first and enduring love.

    What’s the greatest trip you’ve been on?
    Going alone to the Stirling Range in WA and climbing Toolbrunup (it’s in the book).

    What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
    My all-time Wakefield favourites are Miriel Lenore’s In the Garden (not to mention Drums and Bonnets and The Dog Rock) and Jill Golden’s Inventing Beatrice. Jill and Miriel are writing buddies of mine so I’ve watched the process from first rough idea to final polished work. That’s satisfying and inspiring.

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  • Author Profiles – Janis Sheldrick

    Janis Sheldrick is a lifelong resident of Melbourne who has always been strongly attracted to the landscapes of South Australia. She studied philosophy at the University of Melbourne, has a Graduate Diploma in Librarianship, and was awarded a PhD by Deakin University in 2000 for work on George Goyder and Goyder’s Line. Working as an independent scholar, she completed the rest of Goyder’s biography in the years that followed. Nature’s Line: George Goyder, surveyor, environmentalist, visionary is due for release from Wakefield Press this month.

    We asked Janis a few questions about Goyder and the process of writing the book.

    Janis SheldrickCan you tell us a little known fact about George Goyder?

    Just about everyone who knows of him would be aware of his reputation for hard work, determination, and mental and physical toughness, but few would now know that according to those who knew him, in private life he was a different person. He had a wide circle of friends and was described as charming and as entertaining company – the ideal person to have as a companion on a long and tiresome journey – and as possessing a ‘magnetic’ personality. He also had a pleasant speaking voice and liked to sing Italian arias (when travelling), so he probably had a better than average singing voice as well. This large personal presence must have been a useful compensation for a diminutive physical one – he was only about 160 centimetres tall (a bit less than five feet four inches, according to a descendant).

    What prompted you to write Nature’s Line?
    I’ve been an intermittent visitor to South Australia from childhood and the ruined houses beyond the Mid-North made a powerful early impression on me, but I had no idea of the story behind them. When I finally heard about Goyder’s Line I was literally enthralled – I was full of questions and couldn’t wait to learn more. At the outset it struck me as an important story, and the more I investigated, the more certain of this I became. It was clearly not just about where not to grow wheat in South Australia, but about European settlers encountering a climate, the key characteristic of which – rainfall variability – they were entirely unprepared even to recognise and name, let alone to adapt to. What impressed me so much about Goyder was his unblinkered ability to see what was going on around him in the natural environment, to pay close attention to the natural world and to learn.

    Do you know what project you would like to take on next?
    At the moment I am working on something very different, although it is still about human awareness and perception of the natural world (among other things), with the working title Here and Hereabouts.

    There are also two small things that I am working on. One of the characters in Goyder’s story is Eustace Reveley Mitford, a great-grand uncle of the Mitford sisters. The family resemblances, in literary style, social and political outlook, and physical appearance, are startling, especially given that the relationship is not that close, and I think he merits making a tiny contribution to the Mitford Industry. I have also been investigating Victoria’s Chinese dragons, the oldest of which go back to the nineteenth century.

    After that, I’d like to return to a bigger project.

    What’s your favourite type of ice cream?
    Green tea – but I haven’t had any since the Japanese store that sold it closed. Perhaps Christmas pudding ice cream (my sister’s or from Fritz Gelato) is a more realistic choice – at least there’s an opportunity to enjoy it once a year.

    What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
    Philip Jones’s Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and encounters on Australian frontiers is the first that comes to mind. Its approach to the telling of history, working from particular objects, sidesteps the usual frameworks. And the book is a lovely object itself: good to look at and to handle.

    The other two are about the work of Australian painters and both are connected to exhibitions at Tarrawarra Museum of Art (in Victoria). The first is Master of Stillness: Jeffrey Smart paintings 1940-2011 by Barry Pearce. I particularly liked the inclusion of his early work in Adelaide.

    The second, Russell Drysdale: defining the modern Australian landscape, by Christopher Heathcote, isn’t a favourite – I haven’t read it yet – but I am looking forward to doing so. The exhibition started as Tarrawarra in October and will be on until February 2014. I haven’t been yet, and I want to see the paintings before I read the book.

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  • Divine Vegan De…frosting!

    The cold is well and truly here, so it’s time to shed your summer skin and step into your winter layers. I can think of no better way to weather the worst of it than with a good book (from Wakefield Press, naturally), your fuzziest socks, and an exaggerated portion of a hot dessert. Give your muffin top a proper welcome to winter with this (vegan!) bread and butter pudding, featured alongside heaps of other great recipes in Divine Vegan Desserts by Lisa Fabry, available here.

    250-300g good white bread, sliced thinly (about 6-8 slices)
    ¼c (50g) dairy-free spread
    ¼c (50g) sugar
    ½c (80g) raisins or sultanas
    ¼c chickpea (besan) flour
    2 tbsp cornflour
    2c (500mL) oat, rice or soy milk

    Oven 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4

    1. Grease a glass or ceramic baking dish, about 20cm x 20cm (8” x 8”)
    2. Spread each slice of bread thickly with dairy-free spread, reserving a little spread for the top. Cut each slice into four triangles.
    3. Place a layer of bread slices, spread side up, in the bottom of the dish, cutting pieces to fit in the gaps. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar and about half the raisins or sultanas.
    4. Cover with another layer of bread, another tablespoon of sugar and the rest of the dried fruit.
    5. Finish with a layer of bread, overlapping the slices so that the points of the triangles stick up a little – these corners should turn brown and crispy.
    6. Mix the chickpea flour and cornflour in a large jug or bowl. Gradually whisk in the milk. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread slices.
    7. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the bread to soak up some of the liquid.
    8. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top of the pudding and dot with the remaining dairy-free spread.
    9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

    And that’s it! Wait for it to cool to a safe temperature so as to not burn your tongue (I learned that one the hard way), then grab a spoon and kick back. Or share it with friends and family. You know, whichever.

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  • The Heaven I Swallowed launches

    I know, I know, we’ve been bad and have neglected this little blog for some time. But we have a good excuse, promise! Recently we launched our new title, The Heaven I Swallowed by Rachel Hennessy. Read all about the launch below, then head over here to purchase a copy yourself!

    Neighbourhood Warch News June 2013 PAGE 7-med[1]

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  • Behind the Veil – the Deutsch version!


    Hinter Dem Schleier_Lydia LaubeBehind the Veil cover.1a.indd

    A mysterious box arrived in our office this morning, post-stamped Leverkusen, Deutschland. We soon discovered its contents were none other than five beautifully wrapped books – German editions of the best-seller Behind the Veil by Lydia Laube, published as Hinter Dem Schleier by Drachemond Verlag.

    The Germans have certainly out-done themselves with their version (left) – a stark contrast to ours (right). Let us know which you like best!

    Not only do our German counterparts make lovely books like ours, they also explain the quality of their work in the same way that we do: ‘Machen Bücher glücklich? Wir sagen ja! Daher sind unsere Verlagstitel mit Herzblut erdacht und mit Liebe gemacht.’ (Translation: ‘Books make you happy? We say yes! Therefore our published titles are passionately conceived and made ​​with love. Enjoy your reading!’)


     Lydia Laube

    Above: a very excited Lydia Laube holding her copy of Hinter Dem Schleiner at the Wakefield HQ this morning.

    Click here for more information about Behind the Veil (and if you’re really keen, you can get a bundle of Laube’s armchair travel books for a very special price here.)


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  • So, you want to build a dry-stone wall?

    Those Dry-stone Walls 01

    Beautiful stone was nature’s gift to South Australia, and an irresistible building material for early settlers. Many stone walls, without mortar or with no more than mud as glue, have defied gravity and the elements all these years. Or did gravity combine with deft balance to sustain them?

    In Those Dry-stone Walls: Stories from South Australia’s stone age, author Bruce Munday takes us on a journey across the state, exploring the history of SA’s dry-stone walls, and giving an insight into rural life. Hot off the press, this book is not just for history and nature buffs – it contains a comprehensive chapter (‘So, you want to build a wall!’) on DIY dry-stone walling, for those who are keen to have a crack.

    Click here for further information, and to order your own copy!

    Those Dry-stone Walls

    Below, author Bruce is hard at work on his own dry-stone wall (picture by Kristin Munday).

    Bruce Munday_Those Dry-stone Walls

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