If you love historical fiction…

historical-novel-society-ustraliaYou can’t miss the 2017 Historical Novel Society Australasia’s conference, which will be on in Melbourne on September 8-10! I have the honour of being 2017 Conference Patron and will also be a speaker there, joining a fantastic list including  Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Robert Gott, Sulari Gentill, Juliet Marillier, Felicity Pulman, Arnold Zable, Hanifa Deen, Meg Keneally, Ngahuia te Awekotuku, Pamela Rushby, Kim Kelly, Gary Crew, Gabrielle Wang, Pamela Hart, Wendy Orr, and many more!

The theme of the Conference is Identity: Origins and Diaspora and the program is packed with thought-provoking and lively discussions, super sessions, manuscript assessments and an academic program. Social events include an opening reception and conference dinner. There’s also two fabulous contests: the HNSA Short Story Contest, sponsored by Eagle Books and HNSA, boasting a $500 prize; and the First Pages Pitch Contest.

Early bird registrations are now open, and the full program is available here.

A double launch for me!

 

I am delighted and excited to announce that two of my upcoming books will be launched in Sydney on Saturday March 18, 2 pm, at the gorgeous Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft!

The two books are my novel for older readers, Jack of Spades, whose lovely cover and internal illustrations are by Yvonne Low, published by Eagle Books; and Once Upon An ABC, my picture-book with the fabulous illustrator Christopher Nielsen, published by Little Hare. Both books are released in April, but we’re doing a pre-release celebratory launch! Jack of Spades will be launched by fellow author Pamela Freeman while bookseller extraordinaire Paul Macdonald will do the honours for Once Upon An ABC. Yvonne and Christopher will also be there to talk and sign books with me, it’s going to be a fantastic event. Come join us for the celebration, all very welcome!

launch-jack-and-once-upon

 

A great opportunity for emerging authors

Christmas Press has a great opportunity for emerging authors open at the moment: a call for submissions to the 2017 anthology, A Christmas Menagerie, which will feature stories for children 6-9 years old, set at Christmas, around the theme of animals. But watch out, there’s only a short time left–you have to get in your story by midnight on January 6! You can get all details including where to submit to, here: https://christmaspresspicturebooks.com/2016/12/26/a-fabulous-opportunity-for-emerging-authors-in-our-2017-christmas-anthology/

 

Established writers and creative writing doctorates/PHDs

I’m delighted to announce that my academic research paper, Breaking the pattern: established writers undertaking creative writing doctorates in Australia, has just been published in the latest(October) issue of the prestigious journal TEXT. Here’s the abstract:

The focus of this article is an examination of the experiences of established writers who have recently completed, or are currently undertaking, a creative writing doctorate, against a background of change within the publishing industry. Is it primarily financial/career or creative control concerns that are influencing established writers to undertake creative doctorates in recent times? And how do these writers fare within the degree program? To explore these issues through individual stories, interviews were conducted, by email and phone, with six established professional writers who had recently completed, or were still undertaking, a creative doctorate as well as with four established creative writing academics, most of whom are authors themselves. Questions of motivation and experience, as well as outcome, are canvassed in this piece of original research, which provides an interesting snapshot of the current situation for established writers in Australia undertaking creative writing doctorates.

The full paper is available for reading here.

Third Night published in Swinburne University journal

A creative non-fiction piece of mine, Third Night, which I presented as a reading at the Australasian Association of Writing Programs’ conference last year, has just been published, along with other conference presenters’ pieces, in a special edition, ‘Hauntings’,  of Swinburne University’s journal, Bukker Tillibul. I’m reproducing Third Night below, but you can also read it and all the other pieces here.

 

Third Night

By Sophie Masson

The first night, far from home, and a dream: a woman writing, at a desk in an old weatherboard cottage. The screen door creaks, and something hurtles into the room. A glimpse of a face, vivid in its sheer ferocity: a tiny thing, but deadly. The dreamer awakes in fright, to silence and friendly darkness, thinks on the dream, but does not understand.

Now it’s the second night, another dream. Two travellers, a woman and a man,  arrive at a lakeshore. The man strips, goes into the lake, and as he does so, the water turns his skin to bronze, he is becoming alien but doesn’t seem to notice, while his companion cries out in fear. The dreamer wakes, heart pounding, into the friendly darkness, and still does not understand.

It is the third night, in a Sydney suburb this time. The dreamer is asleep. All at once, dogs bark. The staccato sound that tells you their hackles are rising, that  something unexpected is out there. It is this that wakes the dreamer and gets her up to look out the window.

Outside, in the vacant lot next door, there is a man, standing in the moonlight, hair of black and silver, dressed in plain pale clothes—but exactly what colour are they?  He looks quite solid, there is no translucence about him, and yet..He has one hand on his hip, the other held out with fingers parted, a silent message. Otherwise, he is still, more still than ever any human can be: and his glance—what a cold, direct gaze!—is fixed at the wide-awake dreamer, standing transfixed at the window.

There is no fear. Don’t think that. Only an  eternal moment, suspended, the cold direct gaze, the silver glimmer, the silent calling.

Now the waking mind is rebelling, seeking to explain. There is an intruder! Something must be done. The dreamer rouses the household which stands there in its pyjamas staring bleary-eyed out at the night. The household shouts at the dogs, hoping to chase away the intruder. Then rubs its eyes, says, ‘But he’s not there! Look..’ And in the place where the man stood in the vacant lot, the dreamer sees…a tree. A small, stunted grey eucalypt. The dogs have stopped barking. The household goes back to bed, shrugging.

But the dreamer stands at the window and stares out at the tree. I’ve heard the dogs barking before, gone to the window to shout at them, and seen that tree. But not this night. The dogs barked, and I saw something else, which the first two nights had prepared me for. Not a dream.

For yes, this was my own story. What happened was real: but I may never be able to understand it. It does not matter. For all of us move in the world’s mystery as fish swim in water, because it is our natural element. Yet often without understanding, for fish are the last to know they live in water.

Off to SCBWI Conference!

scbwiTomorrow, I’m off to the SCBWI Conference in Sydney, which I’m much looking forward to. In a bit of a turn up for the books, as it were, I’ve been invited to present not as an author, but as a publisher–representing Christmas Press, of course!

On Monday I’ll be viewing the Illustrator Showcase, looking at the work of new ad more established illustrators; conducting a manuscript critique; and appearing on a panel on building a brand while maintaining your passion, with some fabulous other panellists: author and former publisher Margaret Hamilton; managing editor of Australian Standing Orders, Belinda Bolliger; author and festival director Sandy Fussell; Harper Collins publicity manager, Holly Frendo, and brand creator, journalist and author Valerie Khoo. Should be a great session!

In other literary events this coming week, and still with my publishing hat on, I’m going to be supporting Christmas Press author John Heffernan at a talk he’s giving on Tuesday 6 about his book with us, Two Tales of Brothers from Ancient Mesopotamia, at Leichhardt Town Library; and also at a SCBWI event on Wednesday 7th, at the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft when John will be part of a stellar list of authors presenting their books to readers.

And finally, on the Thursday, it’s back to popping my author hat on, as I’ll be having lunch with two lovely Scholastic publishers: Clare Hallifax and Ana Vivas!

 

Lovely Book-by-book interview with me at Jon Appleton’s blog

My friend and fellow author Jon Appleton has a great interview series going at the moment on his blog. Called Book by Book, the series focuses on particular books–such as the first one you ever wrote, the one you wish you’d written, the one you know you’ll never write…and more! So far, Jon has interviewed Laurie Graham, Linda Newbery, Joanne Harris and Adele Geras. And now, it’s my turn to be interviewed!

Here’s an extract:

  1. What was the first book you wrote?

It depends which way you look at it! The very first ‘book’ I created was at the age of seven when I wrote and illustrated The Adventures of Princess Alicia, which I stapled up so you could turn the pages – sadly, no copies survive! Then, the next big milestone was the first book I actually completed as an adult (after several false starts with novels I started and then abandoned). This was a big historical novel called The Canadian, based on some of the history of my father’s side of the family, in 19th century Quebec, against a background of rebellion. I was around 23 or so. I sent it around everywhere but it got nowhere though I got some nice comments about it from publishers who nevertheless rejected it! That was the case also with The Witch from Crow River, another historical novel set in Quebec, this time in the 17th century (when my ancestors had arrived there from western France). I had not even been to Canada at the time and I think that might perhaps have shown.

Anyway, just a few years later, when I was 27 and had just had my second child (in fact just a week later), I picked up a short story I’d written back when I was 16, which was set on the far north coast of NSW (which I thought terribly exotic but had in fact visited!) and thought, I could turn this into a novel. I did – and the result was my first published novel, The House in the Rainforest, an adult novel set partly in the ‘90s (when it was published) and partly in the ‘70s (when I’d first gone to the north coast). It was not autobiographical, it was just the setting I knew well. While I was waiting to hear back from the University of Queensland Press (to whom I’d sent the novel – they took more than a year to get back to me!) I wrote a children’s novel, a timeslip story set partly in country NSW, partly in medieval France. That was Fire in the Sky, my first published children’s novel. It was published the same year as The House in the Rainforest.

You can read the whole interview here.