Announcing Magical Tales from French Camelot!

More lovely book news, and another gorgeous cover reveal: this time for my forthcoming book with Lorena Carrington, Magical Tales from French Camelot, which will be out late this year, with Serenity Press. Like French Fairy Tales, our previous title together, it focusses on stories from the French tradition, this time from the Middle Ages, and the extraordinary work of the great Arthurian writers of the twelfth century in France. My new translations and retellings of some of my favourites of these stories are accompanied by Lorena’s glorious, enchanting and atmospheric illustrations, like the beautiful one on the cover below. It has been an unalloyed joy and pleasure to work with Lorena again and we are both delighted to be published again by the fantastic team at Serenity Press.

Here’s a bit more about the book:

The legend of King Arthur began in Britain. But it is in twelfth-century France that the stories really took off, with gifted writers creating a panoply of vivid new characters and elements such as Lancelot, Perceval, the Grail and the doomed love between Lancelot and Guinevere, within a richly imagined, action-packed world of adventure, magic, romance and mystery. Women as much as men are important characters in the French stories, there’s an intriguing take on shapeshifters and other supernatural beings, and fascinating glimpses of the patterns and customs of medieval life as well as explorations of conscience and the true nature of courage. In the process these extraordinary medieval writers, such as Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, created a whole new immensely popular genre of literature whose appeal and influence endures to this day.

This beautiful new collection of stories translated and retold by Sophie Masson and illustrated by Lorena Carrington will introduce you to some of the most striking tales and extraordinary characters and places from the French Arthurian tradition, transporting you into a gripping, magical world like no other.

And here is the glorious cover!

Cover reveal for my forthcoming chapter book

I’m really delighted to reveal the fantastic cover of Four All at Sea, my forthcoming chapterbook with the fabulous illustrator Cheryl Orsini, to be published by Christmas Press in September. It’s a sequel to our 2020 chapterbook, Four on the Run. Isn’t it the most gorgeous cover! Four all at Sea was such a fun book to write, like Four on the Run–I just love writing about these four friends who just happen to be machines, and their crazy adventures!

To give you a little taste of what the book’s about, here’s a short outline:

After the adventures of Four on the Run, Maxie, Lady, Flash and Fergie are set for a new life as film stars and a luxury cruise overseas. But when they are washed overboard in a storm and land on a desert island, it seems their troubles are only just beginning! Because somebody else is there–someone who is not very friendly—a rusty old tank that thinks there’s still a war on! They need to escape from the island and get back to their ship and very worried Mrs Brown. …but how?

Some great news for my audio novel!

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve signed an audio production contract for A Hundred Words for Butterfly, with the fabulous independent publisher, Spineless Wonders Audio.

Spineless Wonders Audio, which was launched in late 2020, is an enterprise of the innovative, award-winning digital publisher Spineless Wonders who, with founder Bronwyn Mehan at the helm, for the last ten years have not only consistently supported and promoted great short fiction, poetry, memoir and creative non-fiction, but found new and interesting ways to publish and showcase them. And Spineless Wonders Audio grew naturally out of that experience.

I am absolutely delighted to be working with Bronwyn and her fantastic team, and in the next few weeks will be telling you more about the novel’s journey to becoming an audio book. In the meantime, I’d better finish that last chapter 🙂

Looking both ways…

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.

Lovely trailer for album inspired by French Fairy Tales

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.

The Ghost Squad is out today!

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.

New blog series: Writing an audio novel, part 1

Introduction

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.

A street in Saint Jean Pied de Port (Donibane Garazi): photo by Sophie Masson

A new project for the new year..

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.

Podcast interview about French Fairy Tales

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.