Back To Tremaris?

This is turning into a funny old year, writing-wise. Because I finished working on New Guinea Moon more quickly than I'd expected, I hadn't really lined up my next project (something I usually do well in advance). So now I find myself casting about with two or three or four half-baked ideas, but no compelling urge to tackle any of them.

Maybe I just need a break! I've produced ten books in the last twelve years, which isn't bad going.

But I also find myself thinking about the place I was in, funnily enough, about twelve years ago, when I'd been chipping away for years at an adult novel that just wasn't quite working. The solution then was to put it away and write something for fun, something just for my own pleasure. That 'something' turned into The Singer of All Songs, the first book in the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy.

And I also find myself thinking about the last book in that series, the sort-of sequel The Taste of Lightning, which ended with an open door to another installment in the story.

Maybe it's time to go back to Tremaris and finish Calwyn's journey. Even if it never gets published. Even if I have to self-publish it on the internet or something. You can do that these days, right?


Pupppies Puppies Puppies!

Evie and I walked to the library at the weekend, and we borrowed heaps of books. Hm, guess what Evie likes to read about? She told me afterwards she went along the shelves and picked out every book with a dog on the cover; it certainly took her a very long time to choose.

Sadly, I don't think there are enough puppy books in the world to satisfy her appetite. She read her way through this lot in a couple of days.


Holiday Reading

Thank you so much Penni for putting us onto Ivy and Bean!

In our house, for read-aloud popularity, this is the new Ramona, and I don't say that lightly. Even though Ivy and Bean are only seven, both Alice and Evie have responded with delight to their adventures. In fact, some of the nicest days of our holidays were those spent inside, with me reading an Ivy & Bean book while Alice painted or built a treehouse for her Sylvanian families, and Evie messed around on the computer. The books are just short enough to finish in a single session (though the days when the girls demanded multiple readings were a bit hard on my throat!)

These books are absolutely charming, but not at all saccharine. Bean is energetic, untidy, bursting with enthusiasm, a little bit naughty. Ivy is quieter, a reader of big books; she is practising to be a witch when she grows up, and is full of good ideas. Together they make an irresistible team. These books are small scale and suburban, bounded by the backyards of Pancake Court, the school and the local park. But the girls' schemes are anything but dull. They tackle global warming, Great Women of History, digging for dinosaurs, and bravely exorcise a ghost in the school toilets (not Moaning Myrtle). And they are funny - not try-hard funny, not gross-out funny, just gently, believably, real-life funny.

The stories (written by Annie Barrows) are perfect and the illustrations are gorgeous too (I was chuffed to discover that the illustrator, Sophie Blackall, is an Australian living in New York).

Our only complaint is that there are only nine books in the series (so far) and we've already read them all.

As Evie would say, 'Sad face.'



I don't want to jinx it, but Alice is reading...

These holidays, she's been locked in her room, reading the first three books of Harry Potter. Now she's about 90 pages into Goblet of Fire. A couple of times I've thought, should I drag her out of her room and into the sunshine? Then I thought, no way!

Thank you, JK Rowling.


Cloud Atlas In The Clouds

A stranger recommended this book to me a few months ago, when I was on tour in the Wimmera. But it wasn't until I went to Perth that I got around to buying it on the Kindle (on the Kindle? for the Kindle?) to read on the plane.

As it turned out, I ended up watching TV on the plane, but I read half the book while I was in WA. And it's every bit as extraordinary as the kind stranger in St Arnaud had said. It's actually six stories cleverly spliced together, spiralling outward and then in again to finish where it began, but threading common themes and recurring images to reinforce the idea that we are all woven together across time and space. The stories range from a nineteenth century traveller's diary in the Pacific Islands; to the letters of a dissolute young composer in the 1930s; to a 1970s political thriller with a feisty heroine; to the travails in our own time of an elderly publisher trapped against his will in an old people's home that's more like a gulag; to a chilling but recognisable future of corporate dictatorship and genetic manipulation; to a post-apocalyptic adventure where civilization as we know it has all but broken down into chaos and despair, but where courage and intelligence can still win a victory of sorts. David Mitchell has written each portion of the book in a different, totally distinctive voice, the languages of past and future brilliantly playful.

There is, of course, a movie of this book out at the moment, and I ended up watching that movie on the way home, even though I was only halfway through the book. Spoilers everywhere, and the film didn't quite pull off the dazzling virtuosity of the novel, though I enjoyed the conceit of having the same group of actors play different roles in each section of the story. Also, Ben Wishaw was in it! So that was a bonus. But the film differed quite a bit from the book in the way it resolved the storylines, so it wasn't completely spoilery.

It wasn't until I was reading the reviews at the back of the book that I realised that in print form, Cloud Atlas is 500 pages long!! Bloody Kindle. It tells you what percentage of the book you've read, but it completely disguises the ACTUAL length of what you're reading. No wonder it took me nearly two weeks to finish.