Meeting about an exciting collaborative project with artist Angus Nivison

Today I met with the wonderful locally-based painter Angus Nivison, as well as Arts North West director Caroline Downer, New England Regional Art Museum Director Rachael Parsons and NERAM exhibition director Belinda Hungerford, to plan the final stages for a wonderful collaborative exhibition that Angus and I are creating. Called Angel Time, it will open on July 1 at NERAM and will go till August 28. It is something that grew out of an Arts North West workshop last year called Looking Both Ways, where artists and writers were paired together to create joint works. Angus and I led that workshop and part of it was that he and I would then create works for an exhibition this year. Angus had recently read my book The Ghost Squad and to my delight he loved it so much that he decided to use it as the basis for a series of paintings, based on certain elements of the book and its themes and allusions. Then, based on my seeing these paintings, in my turn I created some new pieces for several of his artworks: poems, prose, song lyrics and more…As well, for several of the paintings directly inspired by incidents or moments in the book, I’ve recorded short readings from The Ghost Squad.

It’s been such an inspiring and exciting process–and today, with both painting and word-based works created, it was all at the stage where we could sit down with the NERAM directors and talk about how it will all be shown in the physical space of the gallery. It’s going to be just amazing, I can’t wait!

First review for Inside Story!

And it’s a cracker! By Dianne Bates, it was published in Buzz Words magazine today, May 23 2022.

Here’s the full review:

Inside Story: The Wonderful World of Writing, Illustrating and Publishing Children’s Books compiled by Sophie Masson, Kathy Creamer, Beattie Alvarez, and Peter Creamer, edited by Jen Scanlan and Sharnee Rawson (United Publishers of Armidale) PB RRP $29.99 ISBN9780648815457

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is an invaluable resource and reference book for aspiring writers, illustrators, editors and designers or anyone interested in Australian children’s books. It is the first publication by the newly formed UPA, a collaboration between two independent publishing houses: Christmas Press and Little Pink Dogs, in association with the New England Writers’ Centre. And what a comprehensive and beautifully designed and presented book it is! Designed by Rae Ainsworth, the book covers all aspects of writing, illustrating, and publishing children’s books. It includes a section on what happens in the publishing process, how to pitch to publishers, alternative publishing models, useful organisations, and resources.

On each page there are coloured photographs and graphics, break-out boxes, and information (and advice) from a wide range of industry workers. Colourful double-page spreads introduce each topic, and there are also numerous lists of children’s books under headings such as picture books, illustrated storybooks, fiction anthologies, graphic novels, and more. Any inspiring author would benefit from the advice and tips offered by authors, agents, editors, publishers, and illustrators such as Stephen Axelsen, Pippa Masson, Ian Irvine, Jenny Blackford, and dozens more.

There is, as one would suspect, a clear bias towards books published by Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, but other publishers shine in the book, too. It’s gratifying to see that the compilers have included poetry collections and anthologies, with advice from editors and compilers. Ursula Dubosarsky, Richard Tulloch and Duncan Ball share information and tips for writing plays, with Ball sharing his discoveries as former editor of The School Magazine.

In the tail end of this very engaging book is a list of useful organisations and resources for everyone, including editors, designers, and publishers. Numerous publishers have granted permission to use images from their titles, and there is a page of acknowledgements to the many people who have contributed material (and crowdfunding income). Interestingly, there’s a double page spread at the end of the book with photographs and biographies of the compilers, editors, and book designers.

There are many hours of interesting reading in this comprehensive book. Highly recommended!

A Hundred Words for Butterfly in bookshops now

The print edition of A Hundred Words for Butterfly is now available through any bookshop, across Australia! Returning from my big five-week trip to Europe–including to the Basque country–I was delighted to receive copies from my lovely publisher, Bronwyn Mehan of Spineless Wonders, and to meet in person with her and SW team members Camilla Cripps and Bettina Kaiser, on a beautiful sunny day in Sydney!

Six weeks on a boat: a childhood ocean voyage

Something a bit different: a little video I made about an ocean voyage, from Australia to France, on a French ship, through the Pacific, Carribbean, Atlantic and then Mediterranean, a voyage which I went on as a child, with my family. It was an amazing trip whose memory still lingers in my mind, and which has inspired scenes in more than one of my books. My dad documented it all with his trusty super8 film camera, my brother-in-law recently converted the films to MP4 files, and I’ve made the video from screenshot stills captured from the films. I hope you might enjoy it!

A Hundred Words for Butterfly to be published in print!

I’m very pleased to announce that A Hundred Words for Butterfly, my adult audio-first novella published by Spineless Wonders Audio in September 2021, will now also be published in print! It will be released in the ES-Press imprint of Spineless Wonders in April, and distributed nationwide by NewSouth Books. Available in all good bookshops across the country, it has the same gorgeous cover as the audiobook, and the back cover also has lovely endorsements from the wonderful writers Wendy James, Nick Earls, and Carmel Bird. An ebook edition of the novella will also be available. So happy with Butterfly having new ways to reach readers!

Lovely first review for Sydney Under Attack

Just seen the first review of Sydney Under Attack, and it’s great! It’s by Ashleigh Meikle on the Book Muse blog. Here’s a short extract:

2022 marks the 80th anniversary of these attacks – which makes novels like this poignant and important. They remind us that everyone was touched by the war in some way – whether on the home front, on the battle fields, or through knowing someone affected by events far from where they lived, such as Mrs Stein being unable to help her family escape persecution in Europe. Sophie Masson not only touches on how Nick and his family are affected, but how Jewish people are affected, how people who have family stuck in other theatres of war were affected, and how assumptions about someone based on appearance can change when you get to know the person and understand them, and find out that they’re just a normal person, not a spy at all.

You can read the whole review here.

An article on community writing challenges in the pandemic

An article in which I was a joint contributor, wearing my hat as Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, has just been published in the international academic journal Reflections, which focuses on issues of community writing engagement. The article, written with Ariella van Luyn from the University of New England(who is also on the NEWC Board) and Lyn Aspey, current NEWC program manager, is about how NEWC had to move our program online during 2020 and the first covid lockdown, and is centred in particular around the online course in historical novel writing which Ariella ran that year. Each of us wrote our sections from a particular perspective; myself as Chair, Ariella as course facilitator/presenter, and Lyn as both a course participant and later program manager. Ariella also wrote the introduction and conclusion.

Thought it might be of interest to readers: check it out here.