Lovely review of Once Upon An ABC

Delighted to see a lovely review of Once Upon an ABC, my picture book with illustrator Christopher Nielsen, on the Awfully Big Blog Adventures blog. The review is by my friend and fellow writer Adele Geras, who not only writes fabulous books but fabulous reviews too! The review is here.

I write because…

I’ve just uploaded a very brief video on You Tube which gives a small insight into why I write..It’s part of a project called #Iwritebecause, an initiative of Reedsy for the benefit of the fabulous charity Room to Read, for which I’m a Writer Ambassador.

It will be on the Reedsy blog too.

 

Five Favourites 7: Felicity Pulman

Today Felicity Pulman is sharing her five favourites with us.

It’s interesting looking back with an adult eye to the stories you loved as a child. Growing up in Africa a long time ago, as I did, the choice was limited. With the exception of the Just So stories, the books I read in primary school were all by British authors and published in England. Thus I was imbued with a love of all things English, but I realise that those books also reflected many of the themes that now inspire me as a writer, along with the desire to write my own riveting and page-turning stories!

#1  The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton kept me on the edge of my chair, wishing that just for once the children would make it safely back to the tree instead of being swept away to a new (and usually awful) magical land. These books taught me about the power of fantasy and magic, the desire for adventure and independence from grownups, about friendship and also the quest to find a safe return home.

#2  I loved the magical series about Pookie, the rabbit with wings, by Ivy L. Wallace. When Pookie is taken in and cared for by Belinda the woodcutter’s daughter, his wings grow, enabling him to have lots of exciting adventures with the woodland creatures. But when things go wrong and he’s sad and frightened, as in Pookie and the Gypsies in which he’s captured and put into a circus, his wings shrink and he becomes just an ordinary rabbit once more. From these books I learned about the redemptive power of love and friendship and of belonging somewhere, and at the same time discovered the delights of rural England.

#3 I loved the stories of Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin by A.A. Milne, and am still able to recite numerous rhymes from When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six – my first introduction to poetry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4  The hilarious boarding school stories featuring Jennings and his klutzy friend Darbishire by Anthony Buckeridge kept me laughing all the way through each ridiculous scenario. They taught me about the power of humour in story-telling – something I wish I could duplicate in my own work!

#5  I also enjoyed the boarding school series by Enid Blyton – St Clare’s and Malory Towers. I enjoyed reading about the midnight feasts and the friendship and support shown each other by the girls, and by their understanding teachers. By then I was writing my own stories, including my own versions of boarding school novels. But when I went off to boarding school, aged 12, I discovered that Enid Blyton had lied. My boarding school experience was horrific in every way. While I still kept on reading, I stopped writing stories for years after that – something I still regret to this day. I realise now that the lesson I learned is that while you can let your imagination run wild when writing fantasy, reality involves the warts and all of life. And so now I try to be honest in my own work; not gloss over the worst aspects of the human condition but tell the truth as I see it.

 

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.