Bruny is shortlisted for Fiction Book of the Year in the 2020 Australian Book Industry Awards. It’s in excellent company. A shortlist will be announced on April 28th. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 13 May in a virtual event. More details to come here.
Bruny – Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
Silver – Chris Hammer (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
During this long period of isolation I am keenly aware of what it will take to be a parent to young children. For many years, I’ve been going into schools and reading the Tuesday McGillycuddy series to primary school children. I also dress up as one of the main characters – Serendipity Smith.
So, to make a small contribution at this time, I’m going to read a chapter of Finding Serendipity at 4pm Australian Eastern Standard time on Facebook beginning Monday April 6th.
If readers want more, I’ll keep going. (In Australia there’s a long winter ahead.)
The series has been published in Australia, the USA and Germany. It has twice been shortlisted for Best Children’s Fantasy Novel in the Aurealis Awards. The books are fantasy but they’re also about creativity and family, love and courage. We also wrote them to encourage and support young writers.
If you have younger readers aged 8 – 12, I’d love them to join me. I’ll also suggest some creative exercises they can do beyond the reading to keep them entertained a little longer.
There may even be dressing up.
If you’re in a different time zone, I’ll be posting the readings to YouTube here. Subscribe if you enjoy.
Delighted to have Bruny make the Indie Book Awards shortlist for Best Fiction Book of the Year – in amazing company with my fellow authors Charlotte Wood, Favel Parrett and Christian White. Here’s what the Indies website has to say about this year’s shortlists across all categories:
Australian independent booksellers, members of Leading Edge Books, are thrilled to announce their SHORTLIST for the Indie Book Awards 2020 for the best Australian books published in 2019!
The Category Winners and the Overall Book of the Year Winner will be announced at the Leading Edge Books Annual Conference Awards Dinner to be held on Monday 23 March 2020 in Brisbane, QLD.
Established in 2008, the Indie Book Awards recognise and celebrate this country’s incredible talent and the role independent booksellers play in supporting and nurturing Australian writing.
Who will win in each category in 2020?
Who will take out the overall ‘Book of the Year’ Award?!
Without further ado…
Without further ado…
The Shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2020:
There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett (Hachette Australia)
Bruny by Heather Rose (Allen and Unwin)
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White (Affirm Press)
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood (Allen and Unwin)
Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch (Allen and Unwin)
488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct by Kitty Flanagan (Allen and Unwin)
Tell Me Why by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta (Text Publishing)
Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden (Macmillan Australia)
Allegra in Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel (Macmillan Australia)
The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean (Fourth Estate Australia)
Heart of the Grass Tree by Molly Murn (Vintage Australia)
The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes (Affirm Press)
Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant Books)
The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant Books)
In an Australian Light edited by Jo Turner (Thames & Hudson Australia)
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals by Sami Bayly (Lothian Children’s Books)
Into the Wild: Wolf Girl, Book 1 by Anh Do, illustrated by Jeremy Ley (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
The Tiny Star by Mem Fox & Freya Blackwood (Puffin Australia)
Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
Aurora Rising: The Aurora Cycle 1 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen and Unwin Children’s)
It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood (Text Publishing)
Monuments by Will Kostakis (Lothian Children’s Books)
This is how it works. The twenty-four shortlisted books, the best titles of the year as nominated by Australian independent booksellers themselves, will be vying for the top spot as the Overall Indie ‘Book of the Year’. Panels of expert judges (all indie booksellers and avid readers) will choose the winners in the six book categories – Fiction, Debut Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustrated Non-Fiction, Children’s books (up to 12yo) and Young Adult (12+). Independent booksellers from around the country will then vote to select their favourite book of the year from the six category winners.
Since the Awards inception in 2008, the Indies have a well-deserved reputation for picking the best of the best in Australian writing. Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards. Previous winners include: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton; Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, The Dry by Jane Harper; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; The Bush by Don Watson; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; All That I Am by Anna Funder; The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and Breath by Tim Winton.
The Awards recognise and celebrate the indie booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors. What makes our Indies uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year to their customers and readers, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of the Australian reading public by recommending books beyond the big brands, and their love of quality writing.
The Indie Book Awards would like to gratefully acknowledge the 2020 Awards Sponsors: Simon & Schuster Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia, Affirm Press, Thames & Hudson Australia, Allen & Unwin, Text Publishing and Awards partner: Books+Publishing.
My first book tour is over. Bruny has been launched across Australia. Thank you to all the bookstores that so graciously and delightfully welcomed me and Bruny to author events across the country. It was such a pleasure to meet readers everywhere, brilliant booksellers, and to discover so many beautiful bookstores! Apart from the events below, there were also so many signings at independent bookstores and Dymocks stores in every city. Thank you all!
My thanks to the very dedicated and brilliant publicist from Allen & Unwin – Christine Farmer – who made all this happen … and visited endless shopping centres with me for signings. Also to Ange Stannard and Maria Tsiakopoulos in WA and Victoria who chaperoned me in those states. Also to the awesome Allen & Unwin team who designed all the Bruny collateral that decks windows and bookstores across Australia. So wonderful to have this kind of support for a novel.
Events were held at:
Hobart Sunday Sept 29 3.30pm Fullers Bookshop In Conversation with Literary Editor of the Australian, Stephen Romei
HobartTuesday Oct 1 6pm Official Bruny Launch Hobart RACV Hotel 6pm with Premier Will Hodgman and supported by Dymocks – SOLD OUT
Sydney Wednesday Oct 2nd 6.30pm Better Read than Dead In Conversation with Editor of The Guardian, Lenore Taylor
In November 2018 The Museum of Modern Love was published by Algonquin in the USA. It was launched where much of the novel is set – in the atrium at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Heather was in conversation with esteemed Australian writer, feminist, editor and publisher Anne Summers AO. This is their conversation at the launch event.
Not long ago I was asked to judge the Jean Yates Writing Prize for 2016 for year 11 & 12 students at Hobart’s Friends School. Along with the awarding of the prize, I was asked to give a speech about why reading matters. It caused a bit of a stir – so here it is in full.
WHY READING GREAT LITERATURE MATTERS
I know that about half of you, when you heard the word ‘speech’, drifted off. I’m inviting you to drift back and be present. Great. Thank you.
So, you’re in year 11 & 12 – at one of the most elite schools in Tasmania – and no doubt all your schooling life you’ve been told that reading and writing matters.
But let’s say you gave it up. You decided that you were only going to read Facebook or Twitter feeds – your texts and your emails.
You might read a bit of Buzzfeed and check in with John Oliver from time to time … maybe you’d click on a few links that take you here and there …laugh at the day’s Ninegag jokes – but basically you stop reading.
And when you wrote things you only posted comments on Facebook – or YouTube. You sent a few emails and a fair few texts. Slowly you used emojis more and more. Wrote another thousand texts, another thousand emails, and another thousand posts.
And really … would life be so much worse?
But pretty soon, if everyone did that, we’d be back to hieroglyphs. And somewhere on that trajectory, we’d have gotten pretty limited in our thinking. In a world currently threatened by people who have limited thinking, that seems a very unwise route to take. Ignorance is a cancer we do have a cure for. But it has to be treated every day.
Still maybe books have gotten old. Maybe they’ve gone out of date. I mean real books are kind of bulky and they don’t have a built in torch or a Spotify app.
But if we stopped reading, how would our stories be remembered? We are, after all, storytelling animals. And if we lost the craft of good writing, who would write the great speeches that change our society? Who would write the great characters that teach us to empathise with other people and other lives? Who would debate the bigger things in life – our innate sense of loneliness, our underlying lack of connection? Where would all the stories for the movies come from?
When I talk to primary school children I tell them it doesn’t matter what they read – comic books, graphic novels, poetry, picture books, children’s novels – it just matters that they read. Getting in the habit of reading – and then I can only hope that they get the reading bug – that will take them on into better and bigger and bolder books.
But at your age it does matter what you read.
For three reasons. Firstly, you are Tasmanians – you live at the bottom of the world and everyone – when you head out there – across Bass Strait and beyond to study or work – everyone will think you had a lesser education – no matter what school you went to.
And secondly – the reason it matters what you are reading – is because everyone else out there isn’t reading. It’s likely that the people sitting on either side of you today are not reading. Our devices have replaced our books as our travelling and life companions. But if you want one thing – just one thing – to set you apart when you enter the world of employment and find yourself up against the five hundred other kids with your same degree and your same good looks, your same service record and your same sense of entitlement – because they too are from good homes – the one thing that will set you apart – is the life experience you have gained within the pages of the hundred great classic novels – and that’s just a starting point.
By the time you’re 25, if you start now, and you read a novel a week approximately, you could have read 400 great novels – and not long after that – you’ll have read 1000. Every one of them is a step out of being like everyone else – to being uniquely you. Because reading is a deeply creative process. It helps you to know yourself. And getting to know ourselves is the real job we humans have.
When you know yourself, employers see that – future partners see that. Bank managers see that. They may not be able to put their finger on it. Elsewhere they might put it down to the fact you’re a Tasmanian – after all, everyone knows we’re a bit different. But really it will be that you have honed not simply your mind – and also your heart and your soul.
There is nothing like your imagination – your very own imagination – left to explore itself through the pages of great books – to craft you into the person you glimpse that you would like to be.
You’ve learned the first and most vital trick to creativity thanks to life in a Quaker school. Sitting in silence. So beyond here, apply it. Practice sitting in silence and avoiding the desire to reach for a device. The magic won’t take long to happen. Your imagination will begin to entertain you. Watch it flourish.
And here is the third reason why reading good literature matters.
As a person who has also spent thirty years in advertising, let me tell you that self-aware, imaginative and happy isn’t what the economy needs you to be. The economy needs you to be fearful, unhappy and ignorant. Because fearful, unhappy and ignorant people buy things. They buy things every day. They fill up their homes, they fill up the landfill, they fill up the planet. And that makes the current economic model work.
Happy people simply don’t need to fill up their lives with things. They fill up their lives with ideas.
Every new gadget you feel you need, every new piece of clothing, every new status symbol you yearn for and every dumbed down news report you consume, every hour you spend in unproductive social media, TV shows, HBO and Netflix, is an hour you are not creating anything.
And what happens when you don’t create anything? You get unhappy. And what happens when you get unhappy? You get fearful. And then you buy things. It’s very simple. We are rats on a wheel of emotional starvation. Emotion, want, buy, consume – and round it goes. So there you have it. The perfect consumer cycle.
Unhappiness is a nasty thing to live with. I’m sure some of you already know that. Creativity can lift you away from all that.
It is like the difference between cleverness and intelligence.
As the philosopher Eckhardt Tolle says – ‘Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connected.’
And reading literature – reading great literature – is the fastest way to see how all things are connected.
Your school education is almost at an end. Beyond here you’re on your own. So get educated – but stay educated. Get creative – but stay creative. Wake up. But stay awake.
Books are your short cut. Books may take time – but you will become a faster reader. They may not be simple – but your mind will become more complex. They may not be easy to carry – but audio books are. They may not be contemporary. That’s ok, you won’t be either in a few years time.
If you have any sense that you want to live a big life, then get off the rat’s wheel of social media and fast food tv, consumption and mindlessness and get engaged in literature. The surprising outcome will be that you get satisfied.
You’ll find your sense of isolation, your underlying loneliness diminishes. What you read and write on social media, in texts and emails, is not what will take you there. But I assure you, reading the great novels will.
Every year, in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, a most remarkable celebration of children’s literature takes place – the Somerset Celebration of Literature – at the Somerset College. Angelica Banks was lucky enough to be one of the thirty authors for 2016. It’s hard to express the scale of this festival. There are literally thousands of children streaming in from across Queensland to listen to authors and engage in sessions about books and words and writing.
One group of primary school students travelled 12 hours from Rockhampton by train for one day at the festival. Another had travelled 6 hours by bus.
From the extraordinary students who provide individual valets for each writer to ensure we can navigate the large campus and find our marquees, to the book shop team, the catering team, the green room team, the people who set up and put away everything it takes to create this festival, right through to the brilliant drivers who chauffeur us to various destinations, the school staff, and the teachers who make everything possible – bringing their students to experience and explore the love of literature – this is a festival that is full of heart.
Here we are about to start a workshop session wearing our Angelica Banks summer garb – having traded our long blue velvet coats etc for hats – given the 30 degree heat and 90% humidity.
Ok this is pretty exciting. Elizabeth Gilbert will be here in 10 days.
If you haven’t read Big Magic yet, please do. It’s a brilliant book on creativity. If you are an artist of any sort, or if you have friends who are trying to write their first novel, or are anywhere along the journey of the creative life, (or if you secretly think you might be more creative than you’ve ever allowed yourself to be) this is a boon companion.
I’ll have the pleasure of being in conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert at the Theatre Royal on February 18th. Apart from the wonderful Big Magic, we’ll be talking about The Signature of All Things – one of my favourite novels of all time (yes, I do mean that). And we might touch on that other (international mega-hit) book she wrote Eat, Pray, Love – and possibly the fascinating The Last American Man. We may even get to Stern Men. In short, Elizabeth Gilbert is a diverse and immensely talented writer who has so much to share about writing, commitment, creativity, productivity and courage. And if you want to hear her, it’s a one-night-only-in-Hobart opportunity. Bless the Tasmanian Writers centre for making it happen.
For all Australian media and event enquiries please contact Christine Farmer at Allen & Unwin, Australia – ChristineF (@) allenandunwin.com. For all other enquiries please contact Heather’s agent, Gaby Naher at Left Bank Literary. Follow Heather on her Twitter, Instagram and You Tube accounts below.