Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Worksheet #63: where infrequent posting is not OK

Went to New Plymouth over the weekend and had a fab time. Definitely a liveable place. The only disconcerting thing was the billboards everywhere saying: "Taranaki, where family violence is not OK." These campaigns are as good as admissions that somethings wrong. It might as well say, "Taranaki: where family violence is a major problem." Or, perhaps it's actually saying, "If you want to abuse your family, move to Wanganui."



By November 2010 I'd resigned myself to the gentle slide back to anonymity. I'd received my pile of media clippings from Random House and I was relatively happy with how things had gone. Some good reviews, some slightly better than good, no stinkers. I didn't expect things to take off again in 2011, but since 31 December I've been named a "hot writer", had a glowing review in the NZ Herald and now A Man Melting has been short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize South East Asia and Pacific First Book Award. Long title, eh? It basicially means I'm one of six first-time authors from Commonwealth nations in SE Asia (eg Malaysia) and the Pacific (eg NZ and Australia) with a chance of winning the best first book in our region. Winners of the four Commonwealth regions (the others are Europe and South Asia, Candada and Caribbean, and Africa) duke it out for title of best first book in the Commonwealth. So it's pretty much the Commonwealth Games of literature (ie Americans have no idea it exists; NZers win a lot of silvers…). There's also an award for non-first books, but no one cares about them has-beens, right?

Anyway, it's pretty cool to be short-listed. Not many Kiwis ever win their region, so moving to the next stage is a big ask. Then there's the fact the press release from the Commonwealth Writers Prize features a comment by the chair of this region's judges, Dr Paul Sharrad, had this to say about the first book short-list:
"The first entries are notable for their fresh ideas. They include a comic treatment of the Rapture in the US, a story of Aborigines, a detective thriller involving an historical right-wing militia culminating in the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge, an obsessive cartographer and her twin sister living down trauma from the collapse of Yugoslavia, and the laconic lives of casual grape pickers in rural Australia."
Yup, that's right: no mention of anything from A Man Melting. Oh well.


Brisbane has to be the all-time leader in government-funded campaigns for social change. When I lived there the buses were plastered with ads preaching the virtues of proper hand-washing, decrying school bullying, asking people to keep a vigilant eye for terrorists (the classic being the TV ad with the line: "It's not my bag, Dad," … Bagdad, gettit?). The city was so saturated with good advice I doubt any campaign made a dent in the problem it set out to rectify, it just reminded people that things were messed up (and made advertising agencies rich).

Sadly, New Zealand is not much better.

From Under the Overcoat*

I'm going to the launch of Sue Orr's second collection of short stories, From Under the Overcoat, tomorrow here in Wellington. Sue's already had a fair amount of coverage, but I'm pleased to say I kicked it off way back in August when I interviewed Sue on this blog.


I should really interview more writers…


This Fluid Thrill: where promises are made...

No comments: