Tomorrow, together with renowned artist Angus Nivison, I will be leading a workshop for Arts North West called ‘Looking Both Ways’ which will be pairing artists and writers to produce jointly-inspired works: image to text, and text to image.
It’s come out of a fabulous Arts North West project in 2019 called Art Word Place, which similarly paired artists and writers. That though was about artists creating works inspired by writers’ words: in my and Angus’ case, I wrote a poem called Sky Dramas, New England, and Angus created a painting inspired by it called But in the Dry (based on the second stanza of the poem, which was fuelled by the terrible drought we were in the midst of at the time. )
This new project however is indeed ‘looking both ways’ as writers will create writing based on artists’ work and artists will create works based on writers’ words. Aside from Angus and I, eleven professional local writers and eleven professional local artists will be taking part in it. It’s a two-part workshop, with tomorrow’s concentrating on setting everything up and beginning paired projects and a final one on April 17 where completed works will be presented to the group. It’s going to be an amazing experience!
Photos below are of me and Angus at Art Word Place; my poem from that project; and Angus’ painting inspired by it.
It’s always wonderful when fellow creators working in other art forms are inspired by your work, so I was delighted when French Fairy Tales, my book with the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington (Serenity Press 2020), became the inspiration for talented musician and composer Reilly McCarron’s new album, Il était une fois (once upon a time in French). The album will be released in April by Serenity Press, and it features Reilly’s haunting compositions and soundscapes, brief readings in French translation by Cathy Abadie of snippets from my own retellings of the stories, and evocative singing by Cathy of the beautiful old song, A la claire fontaine. It’s amazing, actually, to hear Cathy’s translation of my retellings of the tales, because I created the English translations directly from the French originals, and now they’ve cycled back into French, but using my words!
You can read more about the album in this post by fellow fairy tale aficionado Louisa John-Krol, and watch a gorgeous trailer for the album below.
I am thrilled to announce that today is the official release of my new book, The Ghost Squad, published by MidnightSun Publishing and now available in bookshops all over Australia. Hurrah!
As readers of this blog know, the novel, a young adult speculative fiction thriller set in a disconcerting world, was first written as the creative part of my PhD at the University of New England (I was awarded the PhD in 2019) and subsequently acquired by MidnightSun Publishing. It is immensely exciting to see the novel out there in beautiful book form and for that I wish to greatly thank Anna Solding of MidnightSun Publishing, who so warmly and thoughtfully responded to The Ghost Squad from the start, and many thanks to all her great team as well. I am absolutely delighted that the novel has found its perfect home with such a wonderful publisher. Many thanks to my fantastic agent Margaret Connolly, who always sees the potential in my work, no matter how ‘left-field’, and without whose unfailing support my career would never have been as fortunate and enduring as it has been. And thank you to UNE and my supervisors, especially Dr Yvonne Griggs, whose unfailing support, encouragement and thoughtful readings throughout the PhD helped so much in the development of the novel.
I hope many, many readers will enjoy The Ghost Squad, as this lovely early reader did in a wonderful advance review in Books+Publishing. If you’d like to know more about the book, have a look at the dedicated page to it on this blog. You can also read a short interview with me about the book on the international writing blog, Writer Unboxed. And if you’d like to get a taste of the novel’s atmosphere, do check out the fabulous trailer here.
Readers of this blog may remember that just before Christmas I got some very welcome news: I was awarded a grant by Create NSW, the NSW Government’s arts-funding body, to create the ms of A Turn off the Path, a short novel for adults which I’m writing specifically for the audio format. This will be then submitted by my agent to Audible for consideration for their Audible Originals list.
It’s an exciting new challenge for me and I’m so delighted to be able to work on over the next few months, thanks to the generous Create NSW grant. I’ve been doing a bit of background research for it since early this month but have now started work on it, with the draft of the first chapter begun yesterday. Over the next few months, as I write it, I’m also going to post regularly about the book and what it’s like to write a novel with an eye(or rather an ear!) to the audio format: thought that might be of interest to other writers contemplating the possibility of doing the same. This post introduces that series with a bit about what A Turn off the Path is about, and in future posts I’ll write about the background to it, why I wanted to write it, and how or indeed if the writing of an audio novel differs from one that you intend for print.
Something about the story:
Set in the picturesque French Basque town of Saint Jean Pied de Port (Donibane Garazi in Basque) in May 2017, A Turn oﬀ the Path is centred around twin Australian sisters, Helen and Alex Dorian, who are in the town at the start of their planned walk on the famous Camino, the pilgrim route to Santiago del Compostella. It’s something they’ve wanted to do since they were very young, but it’s only now, as they approach their fiftieth birthday, that they’ve finally found the time to do it. But when Helen injures her leg on the very day of their arrival, she has to stay behind in the town while Alex proceeds with their plans, and a very diﬀerent experience to what they’d hoped for unfolds for the sisters. And when Helen unexpectedly meets an old schoolmate who is in Saint Jean to explore his Basque family roots, events really take ‘a turn oﬀ the path.’
This will be a lively, warm and thoughtful novel, exploring relationships, the past’s eﬀect on the present, and the dream and reality of the modern pilgrim experience. It also has a strong sense ofplace and culture: as my mother’s family is part-Basque and has always lived in the Basque country, and two of my own sisters now live there too, I know the area well and I’ve been to Saint Jean Pied de Port itself many times from my childhood onwards.
Delighted to say that I’ve just heard that I’ve been awarded a Small Project Quick Response Grant from Create NSW, to work in the new year on a fabulous project: the first draft of a short adult novel (around 30,000–35,000 words), intended for the audio format, which I will write over the first four months of the year. As I write it, I’m also going to be documenting its creation through a series of posts on this blog. More soon about the book itself!
It’s going to be such a fun project, an exciting challenge to try my hand at something different, and I am so looking forward to it! And I’m very grateful to Create NSW for their generous support.
Delighted to announce the release of my interview with Claudine Tinellis’ fabulous podcast, Talking Aussie Books, which has gone live today. It’s very much a discussion focussed around French Fairy Tales and the stories I retold within it. I really enjoyed chatting with Claudine about it all! Also talked about some of my other 2020 books later in the interview.
You can listen to the full podcast interview here.
I’m excited to be taking part in a fabulous event, Word.Play Presents the Jigsaw Cinema, which is a multi-arts production for children, with words, music and visuals. It’s based around children’s books, and one of my books, Join the Armidale Parade, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books), will be featured. The event will be held as part of Bellingen Shire Arts Week in both Dorrigo and Bellingen on January 11, 2021, and if you’re in the area, why not come along?
Here’s a description of the event:
Word.Play presents “The Jigsaw Cinema” – a storybook adventure! Live narration & music (composed & improvised) set to films of quirky peephole illustrations from our featured children’s books. Come & hear sound worlds collide, sonic textures, live projections, “jigsaw puzzle” films of our featured book’s illustrations – bringing an almost cinematic concert experience to life for audiences, young & old.Curiosity is awakened. What picture will be revealed next? Who is creeping in the moonlight? The instruments sound, another piece of the puzzle is revealed…
Author Sophie Masson brings your adventure to life as your live narrator. Sophie is joined on stage by director Maryanne Piper (clarinets, percussion, saxophone, whistles, electroacoustic sounds), Alana Blackburn (recorders, electroacoustic Sounds) & Damian Wright (Guitar – aka Bandaluzia Flamenco).
Thrilled to reveal the atmospheric cover of my upcoming YA novel, The Ghost Squad, to be released by the wonderful publisher, MidnightSun Publishing, in February 2021. Isn’t it gorgeous!
Here’s the blurb:
Imagine a world where all seems normal yet nothing is -a world very much like our own yet jarringly unlike. A world where two clandestine organisations, the Ghost Squad and the Base, are engaged in a secret battle for control of information so dangerous it could literally change life as humans
have always known it…
A bold, exciting novel with thrilling twists and turns, The Ghost Squad is a novel that will keep readers guessing – and keep them awake at night!
And here’s a little video I made for the publisher, introducing The Ghost Squad: