Kim Kelly

Australian Author

Month: May, 2018

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

ADELE OGIER JONES

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. Please tell us, Adele, 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?

In the novel The Coffee Palace, there is significant section including the Blind Music Students Concert Company (from Melbourne, but also travelling to all states across 20 years, as well as to New Zealand and the US). They performed widely in New South Wales including the Goulburn area, Riverina, and in Millthorpe itself in 1895, 1903 and Bathurst in 1900. Travelling concert troupes were a highlight of Australia’s rural towns, including Millthorpe and its neighbours. The stories of some of these, with their romance, excitement, and perhaps things better left forgotten, would be the tale I would research and tell for Millthorpe.

That sounds fascinating. Tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

My focus will be on Coffee Palaces (and Temperance Inns), including those at coffeeMillthorpe’s neighbouring Blayney, Bathurst, and Cowra Coffee Palaces, and on a Riverina Coffee Palace and the family who built and ran it until 1914 when it burnt down. My story takes us to chapters set in Ireland in the mid-1800s, to Tasmania, and into Victoria and NSW. There are many stories within The Coffee Palace which tell stories now found only in old newspapers, with long-forgotten memories. My other stories (apart from The Coffee Palace) and poetry collections have been written and collected across many years when I lived and worked in the South Pacific, Afghanistan, and the Balkans, especially Kosovo. However, it is The Coffee Palace which I will share principally, hoping visitors and guests are as keen as the Berrigan and Riverina people were recently.

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

One of my favourite books is My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. The book speaks to young (and oldish) women of any era I think, and still inspires me for the life of a woman with few role models like the life chosen in the book. I love this book – it is a classic. One reader of over 70 recently wrote of The Coffee Palace – “this book, will in time, go down as a classic”. I can only dream of this, but in the meantime, I continue to enjoy My Brilliant Career anew.

Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

I have two storytelling windows because I live and write in two countries. In Freiburg, in Germany, I look out onto a meadow where a local farmer runs his fourteen sheep each day – a far cry from the Riverina but in fact it was as I watched sheep being brought down from the higher hills near the Black Forest before winter some years ago, that I wrote Chapter 3 in The Coffee Palace. It was the sheep dog which spurred me on. My other windows have been in Cork, in Ireland, and various different locations in Australia. I seem to be able to make my surroundings take on a character to fit my writing.

How beautiful. Now, Adele, if you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

Australia has so many wonderful novels, but I would start with Louisa Lawson (1848-1920),  Henry Lawson’s mother – a woman who wrote and promoted women labour and pay rights. Louisa will have seen so many changes for women and men in this important time, and finishing in 1920 would leave the way open for a sequel – the next 100 years. Her words finish my novel The Coffee Palace.

What a magnificent woman Louisa Lawson was. And now, it time for a cup of tea, I think. 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 would like to invite Les Murray to dinner. I heard him speak some years ago at the Freiburg Literatur Haus – a modest man, with such wisdom and insight. I love his poetry and have read his book The Quality of Sprawl several times – as relevant as when it was first written for our constantly changing Australian society and environment.

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

Adele choice for Pop Up

 

 

 

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

LISA WALKER

 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, Lisa, 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?

I love writing about small towns. Liar Bird and Sex, Lies and Bonsai are both set in small north coast towns. I’ve branched out a bit since. Paris Syndrome is set in Brisbane and Melt in Antarctica, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have too much trouble setting a story in Millthorpe. I think I’d like to write a cosy mystery with a young girl as the investigator. She would be snooping around Millthorpe to discover who has it in for the chocolate shop owner whose quality chocolates have created a wave of food poisoning. (I’m sure that doesn’t really happen in Millthorpe, by the way!)

Ha! You never know… Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

2018 is a big year for me, as I have two books coming out.

Melt is my fourth adult novel. It’s a romantic comedy about climate change set in Antarctica – yes, you heard it right! It’s the story of Summer, a TV production melt coverassistant who is shanghaied into impersonating a science superstar in Antarctica. Her liaison officer in Antarctica, climate scientist Lucas Nilsson, isn’t at all happy about playing babysitter. Baffled by Lucas’s explanations of ice monitoring, glacial retreat and sea temperatures, Summer must attempt to master the science to keep her job. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, she relies on soap opera plotlines to help her through. The novel features a killer seal, a crazed politician and a sultry night in a snow cave. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Paris Syndrome is my first Young Adult novel. It is the story of Happy, a seventeen-year-old girl, who has just moved to Brisbane. She dreams about living in Paris with her best friend Rosie after they finish Year Twelve. But Rosie hasn’t been terribly reliable lately. When Happy wins a French essay competition, her social life starts looking up. She meets the eccentric Professor Tanaka and her gardener Alex who recruit Happy in their fight against Paris Syndrome. This is an ailment that can afflict over-zealous and idealistic fans of Paris. ‘Paris Syndrome’ is a coming of age story about finding your place in the world, dealing with grief and falling in love with someone unexpected.

In addition to these two, my previous novels Liar Bird, Sex, Lies and Bonsai and Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing will also be making their way to Millthorpe.

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

It’s hard to choose just one, but Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko springs to mind. As the name suggests, it is set in my local area.  It’s about an Aboriginal woman who uses her divorce settlement to buy a block of farmland. She sees this as her own way of reclaiming Bundjalung country and returning it to health.

I love the book for its cheeky humour and its insights into Aboriginal culture. Melissa uses Bundjalung words throughout the novel and this adds richness to the story. The difficulty of maintaining culture and links to land is a central theme.

Mullumbimby can be enjoyed simply as a well-told yarn, but it offers a window into the living Bundjalung culture and meaning of Country which I found both moving and enlightening. It’s also a page turner – highly recommended.

Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

Today I have just moved offices as my son, who has been living at home, set sail for Sydney. My new desk has a view past some bangalow palms to the sea and Broken Head. There has been some nice wildlife action today. A water dragon jumped off the roof onto the deck outside my door and the noisy mynas and blue-faced honeyeaters are splashing around in the birdbath. Luckily, I have learnt to focus on the task at hand and not be too distracted by attention-seeking wildlife. Except for the butcher bird. The butcher bird is particularly charismatic.

Wonderful! Now, if you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

Oh dear, that sounds like a lot of pressure. I think I’d begin by having a cup of tea. I’d then decide to write a Perfectly Enjoyable Australian Novel instead.

Nice answer. And since this Q&A has been all rather exhausting, too, time for a cup of tea immediately. 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?

There’s nothing that makes me feel more festive than champagne and cheese. I’m sure Millthorpe can deliver on that beautifully. And I’d like to share that with you, Kim Kelly, because you’ve so kindly brought my books to Millthorpe and you’d be sure to fill me in on all the juicy local gossip.

Awww. And cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Lisa.

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Find out more about Lisa Walker here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

AD LONG

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. So Ad, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your creative explorations?

Seafurrers is the third history book I’ve illustrated (after Girt and True Girt, David Hunt’s ‘unauthorised’ histories of Australia). My grandfather Gavin Long was Australia’s official war historian for WW2… so I’m sorta following in his footsteps, in a slap-dash, unofficial way. That’s pretty Oz, to my way of thinking.

Indeedy it is – and she’ll be right, mate. Now, if you were to create a story of Millthorpe through images, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what might your sketches tell us?

The style I use for my ‘historical illustrations’ involves sourcing old photos and illustrations, then cobbling them together with other elements (including my own cartoon drawings) to create an image that documents a moment that has otherwise escaped illustration. The pictures are whimsical, and very clearly ‘fake’.  I would be looking for a comical or intriguing story about Millthorpe, and looking to commemorate it… with an extra flourish.

I want to see that Millthorpe ‘history’. Maybe you could take some inspiration from the Central West’s famous roadside haybale art – we’re pretty good at comedy out here. In the meantime, please tell us about the wonderful book you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up.

Oz coverSeafurrers has just been published (by the Experiment, in the US, and Affirm Press in Australia). As the book blurb says, it’s a cat’s-eye view of maritime history. With words by Phillippa Sandal, we remember the bold seafarers of yore—from Magellan to Shackleton—for their extraordinary exploits: new lands discovered, storms weathered, and battles won. But somehow history has neglected the stalwart, hardworking species who made it all possible . . . yes, the noble cat! That’s what I’m looking to share with the world… but I’ll probably bring a few copies of the Girt books too.

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

The ridiculous legend of Lassiter’s Reef lives on, and invites comical reinterpretation.

Oh yes, please! And please, describe the view from your studio window today.

The butt end of a few buildings that are about to be demolished and replaced with towering flats.  It won’t be sticking around to enjoy that new view!

Noice. If you were to write the Great Australian Novel – or draw it! – where might you begin?

Elsewhere. In Asia. I have a new novel under consideration by a publisher that features an Australian protagonist but starts in India. And that’s just the beginning. Australia’s future is very much as a part of Asia, and it surprises me that we reflect that so little in our art and storytelling.

Good point. Now, that was all very exhausting, wasn’t it? 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 or artist would you like to invite to your table?

All of the above, thanks.

Can I choose a dead artist and author? Emily Kame Kngwarreye was Australia’s only truly great artist, on an international playing field, and a genuine visionary. Applying the same rules to writers, I guess Colleen McCullough was our most successful international writer… and something makes me think those two old girls would be interesting to sit down to lunch with.

My goodness, there’d probably be a lot of sharp chat and laughter at that table. And cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Ad.

 Ad Portrait

Find out more about Ad Long and Seafurrers here.

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It’s the sweetest treat to welcome Alissa Callen as guest blogger here today. Alissa’s latest novel, The Red Dirt Road, will feature in the Millthorpe Pop-Up stables of authors gathering in town May 24-27. Here, Alissa shares the inspiration she finds living in this rolling countryside…

FLAVOURS OF THE CENTRAL WEST

Real life has a way of wriggling into my words much like how our Jack Russell squeezes through the half-open kitchen door. My new release, The Red Dirt Road, is very much woven from the scents, sights and sounds of my everyday rural life in central western New South Wales. So while Woodlea, the town of windmills, is fictitious, the landscape surrounding the town and the experiences of the local community are grounded in reality.

The plot for The Red Dirt Road owes its genesis to a past Central West spring when all it did was rain. Paddocks were saturated, mushrooms grew on lawns, water tanks overflowed and long-necked turtles were a common sight on the back road from Dubbo to Cumnock. There really was a tractor and a ute bogged at a front farm gate for weeks and a large round hay bale that bobbed along in the flooded river that submerged our pumps. The idea for the bluestone homestead and stables where Dr Fliss runs to when in search of a sanctuary came from a friend’s farm at Molong. I also visited the Cumnock and Molong cemeteries, and the Molong hospital, in the name of research.

The inspiration behind The Long Paddock stemmed from the mobs of cattle grazing on the roadside verges between Molong and Yeoval one parched summer. Yarn bombers had decorated the trees in Dubbo’s main street and the colours and textures soon found their way into my story. After attending the Orange rodeo and Molong Campdraft, not only did I find myself with a bull-rider hero, but also a misunderstood bull who was determined to take centre stage. The karst caves at Borenore provided me with a real-life cave for my plot, while the mini-tornado that ripped through the outskirts of Dubbo gave me a natural disaster. The Macquarie Matrons ball in a cotton gin inspired Woodlea’s own charity ball and the 2828 dinner at Gulargambone contributed to the idea for a fund-raising dinner.

In The Round Yard (out February 2019) the old alpaca café at Narromine features, along with the excitement of a local picnic race day, as well as the small hall festival held at Toongi Hall. I also enjoyed adding a historical element. The aviation museum at Narromine contains a fascinating snapshot of Central Western history. During the Second World War there was a secret squadron who trained here for a mission that couldn’t be talked about until after the Official Secrets Act was lifted in 1975.

For the books Beneath Outback Skies and Down Outback Roads, even though the fictitious town of Glenalla lies further west, elements of the Central West again feature. The Molong Cobb & Co station appears as well as the murals at Eugowra. The flame-bright poplars of the Central West in autumn also colour the pages along with the air-brushed blue of the skies over Mount Canobolas.

It isn’t only physical aspects of the Central West that sneak into my stories. I also like to thread in local issues that may also affect other rural communities. From the threat of feral dogs, to the importance of rural mental health, to the regeneration of small town streetscapes and to the dwindling lack of services, all are touched upon in my fiction. Concern has also grown over the management and future of the travelling stock routes and this became an issue I wanted to explore along with the prevalence of rural crime and illegal trespassing and hunting.

Every drive around the Central West brings with it more inspiration, curiosity and questions. I hope the beauty and uniqueness of where we are lucky enough to live continues to flavour my fiction for many more books to come.