Beautiful Thing

I knew that the shortlists for APA Book Design Awards had been released, but I didn't realise until the weekend that Josh Durham had been nominated for Crow Country in the category of Best Designed Children's Fiction. Ngarra Murray drew the powerful crow on the cover, but Josh is responsible for the rest.

I reckon it's at least partly because of the crows that perch on the chapter numbers inside - clever Josh!

But I mean, come on -- isn't it just the most beautiful cover ever? (Okay, I may be slightly biased...)


Completely Sherlocked

Sherlock Holmes was my first literary crush (I'm not counting Captain Cook (who was, after all, real) and his disturbing attractive white breeches in my Ladybird book of the same name).

At first glance there's not a lot to recommend Mr Holmes as an object of desire. There's the casual drug use, the total lack of interest in women (or anyone, really), the constant smoking, the insufferable ego, the chronic untidiness - he must have been a pain in the neck as a housemate.

Ah, but the searing brilliance of his mind makes up for everything. And we all know that the cold, distant types merely present a challenge - because if they give even the slightest hint that they care, that hint is worth infinitely more than some soppy emotional type declaring their undying love and throwing roses at you. As Dr Watson says,
It was worth a wound; it was worth many wounds; to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
Swoon! I shudder to think of the effect that this must have had on my later romantic life. Indeed, my first real world sort-of relationship was with a boy who bore quite the resemblance to Holmes -- super-smart, but cold and distant. Which is why it was only a sort-of relationship. But ah, the arguments were fantastic.

In recent years I've enjoyed Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books, featuring Holmes as Mary's partner in crime-solving, and later, life. But fun as these books are, somehow I could never quite accept Sherlock as a married man, demonstrating ordinary marital passion. Also he is, you know, old. And Sherlock Holmes for me is like a Time Lord; he never ages.

But now I've been seduced by Sherlock Holmes all over again. Sherlock, the new adaptation by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, is as genius as Sherlock himself. I've come to this much later than everyone else, I know, and I've only seen one episode so far, but that was enough for me to fall, and fall hard. Irresistible.


16th February

2012 (aged 45)
Noticed that the producer of Outland is Andrea Denholm, who I think I went to school with in Goroka. If it's the same one. There could be millions of them. Outland reminds me of living with B in Budd St -- loving science fiction and being queer. It seems like a long time ago.
2008 (aged 41)
Evie: Alice is a genius. (pause) And I am a genius too.
2007 (aged 40)
Alice: I like the baddies best. Because sometimes I feel like I'm a baddy.
2001 (aged 34)
This time next week we will know if Sachin is Charlie or Alice. I'm sure it's Alice and Mikey is convinced it's Charlie. WE SHALL SEE.
1997 (aged 30)
Have to break it off with AS but how? J thinks I should sink the knife in immediately. B & L think arranging a short date (drink/coffee) then breaking it to him. D isn't interested. B thinks I should see him in the company of others to ease tension. C thinks I should count my blessings and not be so ungrateful and anyway he'll probably lose interest because I'm not so great!! No chance of getting a big head while she's around, that's for sure...
1996 (aged 29)
Sony classical guy raving about the latest signing: "For an unknown kid from Melbourne, events have certainly gathered an inertia all of their own in the last 18 months."
1994 (aged 27)
As G. becomes more of a loser, he gets more interesting.
1993 (aged 26)
C, looking at a picture of Andrea Dworkin: I don't think this means I'm a victim of the patriarchy or anything, but I just think people should take a bit more pride in their appearance.
1986 (aged 19)
One week till college!!!
1985 (aged 18)
Ginned to the max. Watched cricket all day. Greg Matthews got three wickets. The Ds came; joined them for dinner, drinks and deep conversation, most surprisingly, on sex.
1983 (aged 16)
Prepare a little chat on the beginnings of drama
Do a wee bit o' maths maybe p'raps
1981 (aged 14)
I am writing this, very romantically, by the glow of a candle. Actually there's a power blackout but who wants boring trivialities like that? I am a refugee in a strange land, writing a journal no-one will ever see...the heiress to the throne of our deposed country. Everyone in my family was killed, and I only just managed to escape... Ah, who would give that up for Monday morning tomorrow?
1978 (aged 11)
Goroka. We were burgaled last night. A man shone a torch in Mummy's face, and she chased him down the hall! He took beer, money, and our radio. He got in our spare room window. I'm very glad Daddy's back! Andrea lent me a book.
1977 (aged 10)
Mt Hagen. Leanne and Lyn had a fight. We wrote stories. Oh, Mary, it's a funny world! See you tomorrow.
1976 (aged 9)
Mt Hagen. First day at school. Mrs Jordan said I'm a marvoulaous girl. We played dressing up. I was a mouse.


Overheard: Two Ten-Year-Olds Talk Politics

A: It's sad about Julia Gillard.
M: Yes, it's a shame, because she was the first woman. And she's been really mean to the Greens.
A: It's such a pity when someone isn't as good as you expect.
M: Labor and Liberal are exactly the same at the moment.
A: Like tea and coffee...
M: Except tea and coffee aren't...
A: ... they're like a tea shop and a coffee shop who hate each other. Then one gets muffins, then the other gets muffins...
M: (sighs) I know what you mean.


Some Happy News

Crow Country has been shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Yay!

The rest of the shortlists can be found here. Congratulations to everyone.


We're Ba-ack!

So, we had a holiday in Tasmania. It was brilliant. This is what we did:

Night Crossing

I take ginger pills, and no one is sick. No one sleeps, either, but that's okay, it feels like an adventure.
Best bit: Alice looks out at the night sky over Bass Strait at about 2am, totally covered in stars.

Day 1
 Stagger off the ferry at 6am. Drive to Launceston and stop at Cataract Gorge, a place of stunning beauty. Because we've arrived there so early, we have the place virtually to ourselves for two hours, and the girls splash like happy otters in the (unexpected) swimming pool.
Drive to Swansea, where we have lunch and visit their lovely little brand new museum. Drive on to Orford. Instantly go to the beach. Fabulous.
Best bit: Cataract Gorge.

Day 2
 Two visits to the beach. Play Jenga and Connect 4. Read books. Relax.
Best bit: the girls learn to body surf.

Day 3
 More beach. Evie and I sculpt a hippo out of sand. We're all sunburnt in different places, but we don't care. The weather is perfect, hot enough for swimming but not uncomfortable.
Best bit: trying to boogie board in the shallow, but quite fierce, waves.

Day 4

Say goodbye to Orford. Evie cries when we discover that yesterday's hippo has been washed away. We drive to Richmond, admire the cottages and the pretty bridge with ducks, and eat lunch there. Visit a nearby zoo where you can feed the animals from the back of a truck. Hands pecked by emus. Then on to Hobart. Our hotel has a swimming pool, and the girls have a long swim. Fish and chips with gravy for dinner! Amazing sunset.
Best bit: the cute marmosets at the zoo.

Day 5
 The girls spend the morning in the swimming pool (their swimming has improved out of sight). We explore Salamanca, and visit the Tasmanian Museum, and the Hobart Maritime Museum, which Mikey adores.
Best bit: we find some art we like and buy it.

Day 6
Port Arthur. The weather is perfect, the scenery stunning, the ruins impressive, the atmosphere melancholy. Last time I was here was two weeks before the shooting, which is hard to forget.
Best bit: the roofless church. I wish all churches were like this, open to the heavens.

Day 7
(Photo: Daniel Bowen, because we forgot to take any)
It's Saturday, so we dive into Salamanca Market. Best Market Ever. The girls happily spend their holiday money. Walk to Battery Point and stumble across the house that was on Who's Been Sleeping In My House? In the afternoon, have a lovely catch-up with an old friend who I haven't seen for about fifteen years, and his partner, who now live just outside Hobart.
Best bit: seafood dinner extravaganza!

Day 8

OMG, MONA. You have to go. You just have to. It is extraordinary. Mikey thought the girls might last an hour. Four hours later, we emerge, blinking and shellshocked, into the sunshine. Just - wow.
Drive to Devonport. The drive is lovely. But let us, in all charity, draw a veil over Devonport.
Best bit: a waterfall that makes words out of droplets of water

Day 9
Day crossing. It rains. It's a bit rough. It's the first day the weather hasn't been perfect. Alice throws up before the boat leaves the harbour (though after this, admittedly, she is completely fine). I feel queasy for nine and a half hours. The girls play happily in the cabin, making cubbies, and constructing pirate ships out of biscuit boxes, totally shunning all the shipboard activities provided.
Best bit: I fall asleep for a bit. Coming home.