Kim Kelly

Australian Author

Month: April, 2018

Millthorpe pop up flowers

MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

PAMELA COOK

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Pamela, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?

My novels are all set in rural Australia. Spending a lot of time in the country as a kid (even though I lived in the suburbs of Sydney) had a huge impact on me. I developed a great love of open spaces, the coast and country towns which has stayed with me into adulthood. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to lots of areas in rural New South Wales with my daughters attending horse events, and have had a lifelong love affair with the south coast. Now we live on a property just south of Sydney and I get to sit on my veranda and be inspired by the bush, birds and the occasional goanna while I write.

If you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?

Funny you should ask! My current manuscript is set in a fictional town ‘very similar’ to Millthorpe. I wanted somewhere not too far from Sydney but far enough to be a bit of a chore to get to for a quick getaway. Also, somewhere with gorgeous heritage buildings and a thriving arts community. It’s the story of a woman has to confront a disturbing part of her past when she becomes foster mother to her childhood friend’s ten-year-old daughter.

That sounds fascinating – you’ll have to come back and launch it here! But for now, please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

My novels all feature strong women dealing with difficult family relationships, a 9780733636851confronting issue from their past and a complicated problem in their present. The first three, Blackwattle Lake, Essie’s Way and Close To Home are all set in fictional towns on the south coast of New South Wales, while the fourth, The Crossroads, is set in outback Queensland. I love immersing myself in the settings I choose and my stories usually include some reference to horses. There’s also a thread of romance woven through the pages and a hopeful ending to leave my readers smiling (although you may need a few tissues along the way).

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

Too hard to stick to just one! The Man From Snowy River is the first one that comes to mind – the whole horse thing, the courage, the setting and the rollicking rhythm of Banjo Paterson’s ballad never gets old. My all time favourite Australian novel is Cloudstreet. Winton’s depiction of the Lamb and Pickles families is total genius. That scene where Quick is out in the boat fishing and looking at the stars gives me goosebumps every time. The characters, the setting, the language are all pure magic!

Lovely! Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

I’m looking out at the peeling trunks of gumtrees, a patchy grass paddock where our horses are picking and a cheeky magpie I nicknamed Buddy when he kept turning up every day after we moved in. Our dogs, Spencer and Luna, the groodles, and Bridie, an old staffy, are lazing on the veranda. Koda the crazy cat (who thinks she’s a dog) is lurking nearby and our goats Sven and Elsa are patiently waiting for dinner.

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

Right here in my own backyard.

Of course! Must be time for cuppa, hmm? Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

The café for morning tea, pub for lunch and the hatted restaurant for dinner. It all sounds too good to pass up! We are so spoilt for choice when it comes to wonderful Aussie authors. My writing idol is Tim Winton but I’d be far too nervous to eat if he were at the table so I think I’d invite a bunch of my favourite author buddies so we could talk about our favourite books and compare notes on our writing journeys.

Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Pamela.

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 Find out more about Pamela Cook here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

LINDA VISMAN

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Linda, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?

I was born in England and came to Australia in 1954 at age five with my parents and three siblings; another brother was born here. For me looking back, it was the best thing my parents could have done for us kids. We lived in a rural area too, which was great. My mother hadn’t wanted to leave her home, her mother, and the things she was familiar with, but Dad was an adventurer in many ways. Poverty and three cases of polio in the family made life quite difficult during my high school years.

I have always loved reading, and Mum often bewailed how often I’d be absorbed in a book when I was supposed to be doing my jobs. Until high school, my book reading was almost entirely England based, and my fumbling attempts at writing mimicked Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. However, in my Catholic primary school, we received the School Magazine every month, and I developed an interest in Aussie stories. Added to that were the Australian poems we learned by heart, which stirred in me an appreciation for the country itself; I began to identify more with Dorothea McKellar’s “sunburnt country” than with the “field and coppice” of my birth.

I loved the Illawarra region where we lived, the mountains to the west, the lake at our back fence, but going to teach in the Central West of NSW gave me new versions of the country to appreciate. The many places I have lived and the many miles I have travelled over this land over the past sixty-five years have taught me much about this land and the effect it has on people and their outlook, both Indigenous and immigrant.

For over fifty of those years I didn’t write – apart from essays for my mature-age BA and Grad Dip, and official educational submissions and reports – although Mum always said my letters were like novels. Then as I turned fifty-seven, with a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from and a supportive husband to encourage me, the creative writing floodgates opened.

Many of my poems and short stories are grounded in this wonderfully varied country. My so-far-unpublished chapter books are set in the Central Australian outback, my novels in the dairying country and bush of 1950s and 60s eastern NSW, and my life stories are fully engaged with this country, especially those that deal with my time teaching in remote indigenous communities of the Northern Territory.

As they are for visual arts, the light and colour, the openness and variety of this continent are an amazing stimulus for writing.

If you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?

When I lived and worked in Dubbo, I was made welcome among the Wiradjuri adults from whom I learned such a lot as I taught them General Skills at TAFE. The stories of their childhoods and growth into adults created in me an interest in Indigenous culture and their history after European settlement. I would love to tell a story from a hundred or so years ago about a friendship between youngsters from both cultures.

What a beautiful idea, Linda. Now, please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

My second, recently released Australian young adult novel, Thursday’s Child, “brilliantly written” according to its first reviewer, is set in 1960-61 Australia. It is the linda coverstory of a young teenage girl, Tori, who struggles to achieve her ambitions in a male-dominated society. She faces difficulties that seem insurmountable, but is determined to do whatever is necessary to achieve her goal.

My first young adult novel, Ben’s Challenge, set in the late 1950s, is about a boy’s struggle to come to terms with the loss of his father and to find the person responsible for his death. The book tells a story of tolerance and mateship, discovery and adventure.

I also have many other tales to tell, short stories and poems based on my years in remote Northern Territory communities.

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

I love many Australian authors and books, from the twentieth century through to present days. As a young teenager, I loved the books by Ivan Southall and Colin Thiele. For some reason, I missed out on Norman Lindsay, Ethel Turner, May Gibbs and many other well-known Aussie children’s authors – probably because, given my background, I read a lot of books by English authors. In high school I read several Aussie books like Patrick White’s Tree of Man, Frank Dalby Davison’s Man Shy, and Vance Palmer’s The Passage, because they were part of the English curriculum.

In my twenties and thirties, I read Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia, Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of His Natural Life, Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory, CJ Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously, Thomas Kenneally’s The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life and others, but It’s really only in my later life that I have caught up with Miles Franklin, Ruth Park, Robert Drewe, Tim Winton and Peter Carey.

I love Ruth Park’s time-travelling Playing Beatie-Bow, a great novel for kids that blends history and the present (1970s). It seems that my love of history, and for children’s and young adults’ books has followed me through life. I am also now reading and enjoying contemporary authors like Jackie French, Kaz Delaney and Kim Kelly.

A big favourite of mine is Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, and also the story behind the writing of it, Searching for the Secret River. Grenville tells the story of settlement along the Hawkesbury River, partly based on her ancestor after whom Wiseman’s Ferry was named. She deals honestly with the associated killings and destruction of Aboriginal life – unwelcome facts of history that many prefer to gloss over. The story is real and well told, the characters, their moral choices and the outcomes of those choices clearly defined.

Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

I have often written my rough drafts away from home – in parks, by the lake or even in cafes – just to get away from the distractions of life, household tasks and the internet. But these days I am writing at the desk in my study more frequently than I once did.

I need only turn my head sideways a little to see through the big picture window into our side yard and the street that runs up the hill. Through the trees, I see several houses, a couple of boats on trailers, and the cars and trucks that occasionally pass by in our fairly quiet neighbourhood.

It’s the trees I love most, and we have lots of them on our block. They are mostly spotted gums that rise straight and tall above a few shrubs, the native garden and the lawn. It has been dry for far too long, and dead leaves litter the browned-off grass. Our struggling jacaranda and the neighbour’s Japanese maple add a softer green to the palette. Patches of shade, sunshine-dappled, reduce the intensity of the sun’s heat. Beyond the nearby houses are more trees, and I am thankful that not everyone wants to make this lovely community into the bare city suburb from which they came.

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

I would just begin to write and hope it would be good enough.

I’m sure it would be, Linda. And cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe.

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Find out more about Linda here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

NATALIE LOVETT

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian storytelling, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post.

Welcome, Natalie! Now, if you were to create a story of Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what might you tell us about the place?

I really enjoy historical fiction. I like a story being interwoven among the history of a place as the backdrop. I’d most likely want to write about the establishment of the town, the early settlers and developing a potato farming industry in the area. I’d focus on two primary families. I’d have one succeeding and one struggling to survive and who knows, I might even throw a little romance between the families and their eldest children?

Please tell us about the wonderful book you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up.

Lexie’s Village – A New Kind of Family came about after I’d had my egg and sperm donor child, Alexis, at age forty-seven. When she was turning one and I’d been unsuccessful giving her a sibling myself, I still had so many embryos remaining – LexiesVillage_Cover_HighRestwenty-four to be exact. I decided I’d donate them to other struggling Australians but would stipulate they stay in touch to ensure my daughter would know her siblings, as she grew up.

What ensued was a rollercoaster ride that was surreal at times and I knew I had to document it. I’d been offered TV media coverage and when I saw the response from people to our very special story, I knew I had to write about it in more detail than what had been conveyed in the ‘Australian Story’ and ‘The Project’ episodes.

There was a lot of interest in what happened afterwards: who were the people that became recipients and who had been successful and how many babies were in Lexie’s Village now. There was also a fair bit of misunderstanding around exactly what I was doing, with quite a bit of judgement without all the facts. I wanted to get the full story out there for people to read before judging. I also wanted to build awareness for embryo donation and to help break down any barriers or potential future discrimination associated with donor children.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Through love, hope and determination, through joyous successes and agonising setbacks, we have formed a close‑knit community that is choosing to make that village a new kind of family. We share all of this in the book and the sequel, Lexie’s Village – The Family Tree, which will be coming out in late 2018.

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? Or even an inspirational person?

A B Facey’s A Fortunate Life. It’s is an autobiography, chronicling Facey’s early life, his experiences in the Gallipoli campaign of World War One and his return to civilian life. He talks of his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love and is the type of story that inspires me, an everyday Australian, being extraordinary.

Describe the view from your writing window today.

I’m actually not in my home office today. I’m sitting at the dining table, as landscapers have taken over the back half of the house. They are frantically trying to finish off the work before Lexie’s fourth birthday this weekend. There is hammering, dirt and crap everywhere and I’m trying to concentrate on work and not freak out about how much I still have to do to for the party. No-one wants to disappoint a bunch of four-year-olds!

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel where might you begin?

I think any great novel, be it Australian or any nationality, needs to start from a meaningful and sincere place. If you’re passionate and believe in what you’re writing, I find it writes itself, versus taking on something that you think might be a best seller but you’re not connected to it or passionate about it. Being true to yourself and not worrying about what people will think is pivotal.

Hear, hear! And now it must be time for tea. Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

I’m looking forward to the chance to enjoy many of the amazing wares Millthorpe has to offer, however, if pushed to pick just one, I always love a good Devonshire tea when I get out of the city.

In terms of Australian authors, I’m pretty psyched to be working on a pop-up book store with some wonderful Australian Authors, such as Kim Kelly. The chance to get to spend some quality time with them over the weekend, is just one of the appeals to doing this.

Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Natalie.

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Find out more about Natalie and Lexie’s Village here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

LORENA CARRINGTON

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Lorena, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your illustration explorations?

My local landscape (around Castlemaine, Victoria) has been vital to my illustration process. I’ve written more extensively about it here, but essentially, details of the landscape are what make every one of my illustrations. I photograph leaves, sticks, feathers, bones that I find in my garden and the surrounding bush, and piece them together in Photoshop to build up montaged photographic illustrations.

I mostly illustrate fairy tales, myths and folktales, and these are predominantly European; but my local landscape makes up every single one. In Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, our collection of tales retold and illustrated by two Australian women and published by an Australian publisher, I felt it important to let the Australian landscape be a strong part of the illustrations. I didn’t hide the fact that the deep-dark forests were populated by Eucalyptus and native ferns and fungi.

Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

VASILISA THE WISE AND OTHER TALES OF BRAVE YOUNG WOMEN v2 (1)Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women is a powerful collection of fairy tales where girls and women set out on their own adventures, fight their own fights, and rescue a handsome prince or two along the way. Retold by Kate Forsyth, they are tales that have long existed, but were silenced and pushed to the wayside to make room for the more popular “Disney” tales. We’re bringing them back.

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

I can’t resist Australian children’s books – some from my youth, some from my daughters’: The Enchanted Forest, Possum Magic, The Eleventh Hour, Where is the Green Sheep, Diary of a Wombat, The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek… They’ll always be a comfort to read, especially to somebody else.

What a beautiful thought, Lorena. Now, describe the view from your storytelling window today.

Not glamourous, I’m afraid. I have a high window above my computer that looks up into a cobwebbed veranda. Hanging from a beam is a bird cage we bought years ago for a fancy dress party – with the bottom cut out of it, so it could be worn like a helmet!

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

From an illustrator’s point of view I would love to see more illustrated novels! Once popular, but now virtually never heard of. So if anyone has a great Australian novel they’d like illustrated, I’m your gal.

Fabulous! I might have to give that some thought. In the meantime, let’s take a tasty break. Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

Cold champagne and a fiery curry for me please. I was lucky enough to have Kate Forsyth, Cate Kennedy, Carmel Bird, Martine Murray and Juliet O’Conor around our dinner table about a year ago. I don’t think I could ask for more. And yes, there was plenty of champagne!

What an excellent table – and cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe.

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Find out more about Lorena Carrington here

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

ALISSA CALLEN

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So, Alissa, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?

In my case its rural Australia that has shaped my storytelling. I’ve always lived in regional or remote areas so it was only natural my stories played themselves out against a bush backdrop. I now live near Dubbo, red earth country, and the physical and community landscape always finds its way into my books.

If you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?

Millthorpe is so multi-nuanced, a walk along Pym Street always brings with it curiosity and questions. My hypothetical tale would be a romance (of course) plus a story that would pay homage to the pioneering past. There is something inspirational and courageous about carving out a new life in an unknown land.

Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

9781489246738For my latest release, The Red Dirt Road, I’ve loved revisiting the small town community of Woodlea (the town of windmills) that features in The Long Paddock. Hewitt, the strong and silent pickup rider, proves the perfect match for no-nonsense Dr Fliss. Edna, the town gossip, as well as Reggie, the misunderstood carrot-obsessed bull, again make an appearance along with a cast of new and familiar characters and animals. Even though Woodlea is fictitious, the small close-knit town does bear a resemblance to the Central West town of Molong.

Lovely! Now, what’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell remain my all-time favourite Australian books. Iconic, evocative and magical, they still transport me to the secret valley in the Snowy Mountains no matter how many times I read them.

Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

Unfortunately the view in front of me is of a bookshelf (my desk is fixed to the wall) but behind me my home office door opens onto our country garden. I have three dogs asleep beyond the door, cockatoos dressing the branches of the jacaranda tree in white and a mini pony sleeping beneath the cedar trees.

How beautiful. And I think this means it’s time for a cup of tea, don’t you? Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

I can’t go past a pot of English breakfast tea and scones (which have to be gluten free these days) smothered in raspberry jam and cream. As for who would invite to my table, I couldn’t just invite one author. We are so lucky to have such a breadth of talent and depth of generosity amongst our Australian authors and I’m humbled to be part of such a community.

Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Alissa.

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Find out more about Alissa Callen here.

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It’s such a lovely pleasure to welcome author Lisa Walker onto the blog today. Lisa’s latest novel, Melt, will be released in May, a sparkling story of love, climate change and finding out who we truly are, set in glorious Antarctica – and I adored it. Here, Lisa gives us a glimpse of all that inspired her to take us there…

CONJURING ANTARCTICA

I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot, but I’ve never made it to Antarctica. It’s exerted a mysterious attraction, but has remained elusive. Sometimes I think that the places we don’t see are more powerful than the ones we do. They maintain an almost mythical status, like Narnia or Hobbiton.

In writing about Antarctica, I think it helped that I’ve spent a lot of time in snowy places. I could visualise the hardships and the beauty of living in that environment. I’ve done many different jobs in my life – bar tender, reef guide, ranger, but the one that always gets people’s attention is the igloo building instructor. Yes, it’s true. And what is more, I did this in Australia. I led snow survival courses in which we built – and slept in – igloos and snow caves. Igloo building is quite a job. A snow cave can be whipped up in a couple of hours, but an igloo takes more commitment and preferably a team of willing builders. Sleeping in one is warmer than you would expect, and rather lovely. At night, a candle will light up the whole igloo and during the day a beautiful blue glow comes through the snow. In Melt I set my protagonist, Summer, the job of building an igloo all by herself, which she finds extremely challenging.

Over the two years or so it took me to write Melt, I immersed myself in Antarctic experiences. I stood in a blizzard at the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch and visited the Antarctic Explorers exhibition at Christchurch Museum, as well as the one in Hobart. I studied up on penguins and seals. And I also listened to scientist Chris Turney talk about the history of Antarctica at the Brisbane Writers Festival.

Chris wrote an account of the 1912 season in Antarctica which saw no less than five expeditions set out on a journey of scientific discovery. Famously, of course, the Norwegian team led by Amundsen won the race to the South Pole, with the British expedition led by Scott getting there one month later and perishing on the return journey. Also on the move were a German team, a Japanese team and an Australian team, led by Mawson.

Antarctica, Chris told us, didn’t even begin to be explored until 1820. Before that, it was just shown as ‘unexplored territory’ on the map.  Venturing down there, then, was the equivalent of space travel – a voyage into the complete unknown. The explorers gnawed on huskies, they spent the winter on a ship bound by ice, they were blown off their feet in blizzards… And despite all that, they brought back data which changed the face of science.

Antarctica has inspired some truly great lines. Who can forget these: ‘I am just going outside and may be some time,’ (Oates); ‘Food lies ahead, death stalks us from behind,’ (Shackleton); or ‘Great God! This is an awful place,’ (Scott).  And then there is my protagonist Summer, who channels these great explorers on her first broadcast from Antarctica. ‘Notwithstanding the potential for peril, we are launching into an adventure that seems likely to surpass all my former experiences…’ Antarctica brings out the orator in us all.

Writing Melt was an immersive experience. I’ve spent so much time thinking about Antarctica, it almost feels like I’ve been there. That pleasure, however, is still to come.

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Copies of Melt will be available at the Millthorpe Pop-Up, 24-27 May.

Find out more about Lisa Walker here.

LADY BIRD & THE FOX

 

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What happens when a hardworking farm girl and a spoilt rich-boy gambler are mistaken for bushrangers on the road to the goldrush? At a breakneck gallop through wild colonial Australia, Lady Bird & The Fox untangles a tale of true identity and blind bigotry, of two headstrong opposites thrown together by fate, their lives entwined by a quest to get back home – and the irresistible forces of love.

PAPERBACK

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Praise for Lady Bird & The Fox

Lady Bird & The Fox is a marvel of a novel…It’s a story that will stay with me forever.’ –  Wendy James, The Golden Child

Kelly is a masterful creator of character and voice. Reminiscent of Mark Twain’s dry humour…’ – Julian Leatherdale, Palace of Tears

Lady Bird & The Fox is a completely unique tale. It’s a fast-paced, deeply evocative story of life, love and adventure in early Australia. I read it in one sitting, loved every single word.’ Kelly Rimmer, Before I Let You Go

Lady Bird & The Fox is brilliant. Thought provoking, funny – as in, actually laugh out loud funny – historically accurate, meticulously researched, and crafted with impeccable inference.’ – Theresa Smith, Australian Women Writers

Praise for Kim Kelly

‘colourful, evocative and energetic’ – Sydney Morning Herald

‘impressive research’ – Daily Telegraph

‘Why can’t more people write like this?’ – The Age

F&L hi-res

 

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

KELLY RIMMER

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. Now, Kelly, if you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?

My book A Mother’s Confession is set in a fabulously quirky, fictional village called ‘Milton Falls’, which is located somewhere near both Orange and Bathurst…sound familiar? That particular story is an exploration of some pretty intense issues and the plot is driven by the blessings and complications of small-town living. For all of these reasons, it just didn’t feel right to name a real place for the setting, but in my mind as I was writing, ‘Milton Falls’ looked a lot like our lovely Millthorpe. So…I think I have already done this, although perhaps in a roundabout way!

Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

I’ll only be travelling from my home in Orange, but the story I’ll be bringing is set half a world away in Alabama in the US. Here’s a little taste of my new book, Before I Let You Go.

ANZ_BILYG-Cover_Final (002)As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

I have a very soft spot for the novel Playing Beatie Bow, by Ruth Park. I read it when I was a child and was so absorbed in the story it felt like I’d fallen back into the 1800’s myself. Perhaps that book even made a permanent connection in my mind between that setting and great storytelling, because I love to take a retreat to The Rocks when I’m working on a first draft. My novels are generally set in the modern era, and not always set here in Australia, but there’s just something inspiring about getting to work in a place steeped in so much history.

How lovely. And what’s the view from your storytelling window today?

In the real world, I’m looking out through my window towards some stunning gum trees in the distance and a cluster of wattles just behind my back fence. But right beside that window is the window I’ve been spending far more time staring at today, and that’s my current manuscript on my monitor – today it’s got me staring back 1938, to a tiny village in Lesser Poland…where the opening scenes to my 2019 novel are set.

Can’t wait to find out all about this new novel. Now, if you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

One of the wonderful things about this country is that you could traverse a dozen or more environs and still not capture the breadth of it. If I were to write the ‘Great Australian Novel’, it would have to be an epic saga that spanned the inner-city and the suburbs and grasslands and mountains and rainforest and beaches and…well, you get the idea! But now that I think about it, I’d probably start the story in The Rocks…

Of course! After all that travelling, it’s time for a cup of tea. Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

Well…this might seem an odd answer to this question, but I’d love to sit down with the madcap children’s fiction duo Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Firstly, because their books inspired my son’s love of reading so I’d love to buy them a drink and say a heartfelt thanks – and secondly, because I’ve been reading their crazy tales with my kids for a few years now and I just reckon they’d be great fun to chat to!

Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Kelly.

Kelly Rimmer official author photo - Bree Bain Photography photo credit (002) Find out more about Kelly Rimmer here.