New year, new book, new projects


t’s the 6th of January, Twelfth Night in old tradition, and I thought it would be a good day to post something about what’s coming up for me, book-wise, in 2021, both new releases coming out and new projects I’ll be working on this year.

So first of all, I’m soon going to be celebrating the release of my first YA novel in three years. This is The Ghost Squad, which is coming out with MidnightSun Publishing on 1st of February. I am so excited about the publication of this novel, which already got a fantastic advance review before Christmas! Over the next few weeks, leading up to the book’s release and beyond, I’ll be posting some things about the book, its story and characters, but for the moment, you can check out the little introductory video I made about it.

I also have another book coming out this year, a chapterbook for young readers called Four All At Sea, a sequel to my 2020 chapterbook, Four on the Run. Like the earlier chapterbook, it will be illustrated by the wonderful Cheryl Orsini, and will be published by Christmas Press in September this year. Cover reveal coming up in next few months!

And I’ll be working on several new projects this year. This includes a wonderful new mystery project cooked up in collaboration with the fabulous Lorena Carrington which will follow up on our French Fairy Tales book: watch this space for details! And a short audio novel for adults, A Turn off the Path, whose writing has been funded by a generous grant from Create NSW, and which I’m starting work on this week. I’ll be documenting the writing of the novel on this blog: watch this space too for more details! As well, I have ideas for a couple of picture book texts, and the glimmerings of an idea for a possible sequel to The Ghost Squad…I don’t think I’m going to get bored 🙂

Lovely review for Four on the Run at ReadPlus — Christmas Press

There’s a lovely review of Four on the Run on ReadPlus, review is by Kathyrn Beilby. Here’s a short extract: This is a perfect read aloud for Junior Primary students as it is short and will appeal to children who could easily imagine that vehicles may be able to talk. Those younger readers who are […]

Lovely review for Four on the Run at ReadPlus — Christmas Press

The five tales…

A post introducing the five tales from French Fairy Tales. Reposted from my Fairytale Country site.

Sophie Masson's Fairytale Country

In this post today I’m listing the five tales which you’ll discover in French Fairy Tales, with a brief introduction to each. I’ll tell you more about sources and inspirations and settings as time goes on, and in the future I’ll also be making an illustrated video talk which will delve more into the background of each individual tale, but this is just by way of a short introduction.

I chose to translate and retell these particular five tales because each of them means something important to me–whether because of my French heritage and memories, my family connections, my cultural and literary interests, or everything together! A couple of them are well-known classic fairy tales which I’ve translated and retold in a fresh new way;  the other three are regional fairy tales, not known in English-speaking countries, but which I hope might become much better-known through French Fairy Tales

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Nice hardcover copy of my thesis!

I graduated officially as a PhD at a ceremony at the University of New England last Saturday, and yesterday I picked up from the univesity printery another official mark of my PhD study: a hard-cover copy of my thesis, both novel and exegesis, elegantly bound in a wibalin finish, in an ‘Oxford Leaf Green’ colour, with silver lettering. It cost a bit so it was something of an indulgence, I suppose 🙂 but worth it to me as a permanent reminder of a wonderful three years.

My thesis by the way is not available to access officially as I’m exploring publication options but if you are interested, you can read online articles I wrote which are based on chapters in the exegesis, see below:

Mapping the Undiscovered Country: a brief introduction to contemporary afterlife fiction for young adults, published in The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature, Vol 20, no 1, 2017.

Angel Time in the Undiscovered Country: The Cultural and Philosophical Context of Contemporary Afterlife Fiction for Young Adults, published conference paper I presented at the 2018 Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion and Philosophy in Kobe, Japan.

No traveller returns: the liminal world as ordeal and quest in contemporary young adult afterlife fiction, published in Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature, Vol 26.1, 2018.


Lovely article in Le Courier Australien!

Really nice this week to talk to an excellent journalist from the French-Australian newspaper, Le Courier Australien(which, originally founded in 1892, is by the way the oldest foreign-language newspaper in Australia, though it is solely online these days, not in print format any more). Valentine Sabouraud, the journalist who did the interview, is herself an author, with her lively guidebook to Melbourne through its people published within an acclaimed series of French travel guides.

If you read French, check it out here.

Something different: cold soup recipes to fuel writing in hot weather :-)

Today I thought I’d do something really different and share a couple of recipes for cold soup which I’ve been making quite a bit in the recent heatwave we’ve been having and which have helped to fuel my writing!  They’re made quickly using the pressure cooker(thus not heating up the house too much) and they are so refreshing, nutritious and delicious well-chilled, either for a main for lunch or for a dinner entree.

The first one is of course gazpacho, probably my favourite cold soup and one my mother used to make to perfection. This is my version, super quick and easy, with a Basque touch to it in honour of my ancestry, and which never seems to fail 🙂 Make it the day before to eat the following day.

Ingredients for 2 or 4(if for 2, it gives two helpings; if for 4, 1 helping each): Three largeish ripe tomatoes or seven small ones; 1 good-sized capiscum, either green or red(the green one adds a subtle kick, the red a mild sweetness); 1 large cucumber or 2 smaller ones; 5 garlic cloves; one medium sized onion; handful basil, parsley, and garlic chives(or other mix of herbs as you like–though not rosemary as overwhelms other things too much); olive oil; salt, pepper, one and a half tablespoons vinegar, one tablespoon brown sugar, teaspoon piment d’Espelette(beautiful fruity and slightly spicy Basque pepper powder which you can get from specialist online stores like The Essential Ingredient–if unavailable you can use paprika instead, with a tiny bit of chilli added); and finally, tomato juice.

Chop all ingredients. In pressure cooker, heat some olive oil. Add all the ingredients except the tomato juice, stir for about a minute or so. Add the tomato juice so that it covers everything(but no more than that) and close the pressure cooker. Cook for 15 minutes at full pressure, then let cool till you can open the cooker(or run cold water over it to hasten the process). Then either blend the contents of the cooker, or crush with a potato masher and put through a sieve, crushing well to get every last bit of goodness out! Let cool, then put in fridge overnight.

Serve decorated with chopped basil and/or slices of cucumber.

In contrast to the deep red of gazpacho, the second cold soup recipe I want to share is for a green soup. This versatile soup can have many variations, depending on the ingredients, and you can experiment as you wish. Here are a couple of variations I’ve tried.

Version 1:  Ingredients: 1 large cucumber, 1 large potato, garlic, onions, handful herbs-I used mint, thyme and tarragon—salt, pepper, stock(vegetable or chicken, depending on your preference), butter or sunflower oil.

Chop all ingredients. Heat butter/oil in pressure cooker, add all ingredients except stock, stir. After a couple of minutes, add stock. Close up pressure cooker, cook for 15 mins, and then do the same as for gazpacho, including leaving in fridge overnight. Serve with a dab of sour cream and chopped mint.

Version 2: Ingredients: 1 large cucumber, 3 or 4 zucchini (green or yellow), 1 stick cucumber, salt, pepper, garlic, onions, chopped herbs(a mix of of three or four leaves of sorrel, plus some thyme, is good, or your preferred mix), stock, butter or sunflower oil.

To prepare and cook, proceed exactly as for the other soups!

Bon appétit–and happy writing!


Results of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing

This year, I’ve had the honour of being the co-ordinator for the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, which in just six years has become one of Australia’s most prestigious awards in the genre, and has launched the careers of several writers, most notably Emma Viskic, multiple award winning author, who was the first winner of the Fiction category in the inaugural(2013) Thunderbolt Prize.

The results of the 2018 Prize have been announced today(Nov 30) and I’m delighted to also be able to publish that announcement here. A full list of winners, highly commended and commended citations, as well as judges’ comments and reports, is available on the New England Writers’ Centre website.

Congratulations to all, and thank you to our wonderful judges and sponsors!

The New England Writers’ Centre is delighted to announce the results of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing.

The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing is a national award for unpublished short-form crime writing in three main categories: Fiction, sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, University of New England; Non-Fiction, sponsored by Moin and Associates, Lawyers; and Poetry, sponsored by the New England Writers’ Centre. There are also three special awards: the New England Award for a writer resident in New England, sponsored by Readers’ Companion Bookshop; the Emerging Author Award, for an unpublished writer over 18, and the Youth Award, for writers under 18, sponsored by Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, children’s publishers based in Armidale.

In its sixth year in 2018, the Prize attracted a strong field of entries from all over Australia, by writers both published and unpublished. New England writers also made a strong showing this year, with several receiving high commendations and commendations, including the winner of the New England Award, Phillipa Trelford, who received a Highly Commended citation in the Poetry category. Other New England writers represented include Linda Brandon, who received a Highly Commended citation in Fiction, Lynne Newberry, who received a Commended citation in Fiction, and Annie Worthing, who received a Highly Commended citation in the Youth Award.

The winners of the 2018 New England Thunderbolt Prize are as follows:

Poetry: Ivy Ireland (NSW), for Grey is not your colour.

Fiction: Nic Lesley (NSW) for Bottom of the harbour scheme.

Non-Fiction: Christopher Ryan(NSW) for Sins of the Fathers.

New England Award: Philippa Trelford(Armidale)for Chiaroscuro, Madgwick. Also Highly Commended, Poetry category.

Emerging Author Award: Nic Lesley(NSW) for Bottom of the harbour scheme. Also Winner, Fiction category.

Youth Award: Eva Mustapic, age 14 (WA) for Laundry Day.

The New England Writers’ Centre warmly congratulates all the winners, as well as all those who received Highly Commended and Commended citations. A full list of winners, as well as those highly commended and commended, plus judges’ comments, is attached.

All entries were blind-read by the judges, with all identifying marks removed, other than title and an assigned number. Judges this year were Jean Kent, Poetry; Sulari Gentill, Fiction; Pip Cummings, Non-Fiction; and Beattie Alvarez. The New England Award and Emerging Author Award were chosen based on judges’ recommendations.  The winning entries will be published on the New England Writers’ Centre website in December.

The New England Writers’ Centre wishes to thank the hard-working and thoughtful judges and all the generous sponsors of the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing for helping to make 2018 another successful year for the Prize. And a big thank you to all entrants!