Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reporting from the Sydney Writers’ Festival

USA author George Friedman attended the Sydney Writers’ Festival to talk about his book The Next 100 Years – A Forecast for the 21st Century. George’s sessions were booked out, with hundreds of people in attendance. The questions George was most commonly asked were about China (“Is it the next global superpower?” – George says no), Australia’s role in the world (George says we are a trading country that relies on being able to use shipping routes across oceans that we have no control over – a potentially dangerous position), and also which countries will emerge as great powers (George thinks Turkey, Poland and Mexico – if you want to know why, you’ll need to read the book.)

Nicolas Rothwell’s The Red Highway was launched at the festival on the Saturday night. The launch venue was packed and David Marr officially launched the book, speaking glowingly about Nicolas and his work.

Don Walker had three sessions at the writers’ festival. In his in-conversation session on Saturday, he spoke about his memoir Shots and his early years with Cold Chisel, including some fascinating insights on what it was like to play gigs in a jail. Don also performed with guitarist Charlie Owen to a sold out session at Glebe Library.

Amanda Lohrey traced the shifting line of truth in fiction in the session 'The Truth in Fiction and Non-Fiction', recalling the bushfire she lived through in north-east Tasmania in 2004 that influenced her novella Vertigo. Amanda also spoke about her childhood immersed in a fiercely political family, and her feisty grandmother who would talk to Amanda about politics as Amanda sat drawing at the kitchen table at the age of four.

A lot of Black Inc.’s author's events were filmed by SlowTV. You will be able to watch them, and many other sessions from the festival, on the SlowTV website soon…

Diary of a Publicist

A day in the life of a book publicist at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

1.30am – Awaken in Sydney hotel room to the sound of dripping water. Hotel room roof is leaking.

1.40am – Discuss the issue with the night manager (try to look both dignified and outraged whilst wearing brightly patterned pajamas)

1.43am – Due to the number of authors and publishers staying in hotel, there are no spare rooms available. Make do with a bucket and towels to stem the flooding.

6.15am – Alarm goes off.

7.25am – Meet author in hotel lobby for his first session, a breakfast event.

7.35am – The pre-booked car transfer from hotel to the venue is held up in airport traffic. Rush to find a cab.

7.45am – Cab circles the same block several times whilst we all peer out the windows, trying to read building numbers and find the venue. (I’m not a Sydney local, needless to say.)

7.50am – Safely deliver author to session.

9.50am – Session has ended and author still signing books for audience members. Call the producer of a TV interview we have lined up. Let him know we might be delayed.

9.55am – Rush to find a cab.

10.20am – Arrive at studios for pre-recorded TV interview.

11.00am – Interview successfully filmed. Find a cab and rush back to hotel for interview with a journalist from newspaper.

11.20am – We are ahead of schedule. So is the journalist. Interview begins.

12.10pm – Interview ends and photographer from the newspaper takes author “across the road” for a photo shoot. Whilst my back is turned (chatting to journalist) the author and photographer disappear.

12.20pm – Author and photographer still missing. Wander up and down road looking for them.

12.30pm – Author reappears. Says he was taken to what appeared to be some kind of cave. Is nervous about the photo.

12.45pm – Head back to the hotel to move out of my flooded room.

1.30pm – Eat lunch, check emails, make calls. Set up several more interviews for the author. Watch a few minutes of Days of our Lives.

3.15pm – Meet author in hotel foyer

3.30pm – Travel to ABC studios for a radio and a television interview.

5.45pm – Interviews both successful. Detour by the make-up room at the author’s wife’s request to remove all the heavy foundation applied to his face for TV interview.

6.00pm – Cab back to the hotel

6.30pm –Time for dinner with another publicist to debrief and gear up for the next day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writers' Festivals

Some of the Black Inc. staff are preparing to head up to Sydney for the Sydney Writers' Festival this week. Funny things can happen at writers festivals. Just ask Sandy Mackinnon (also known as AJ Mackinnon, which is the name he published his book under.)

Sandy recently returned from the Williamstown Writers' Festival. He told us the following story about his adventures in Williamstown, which he has kindly allowed us to publish here:

I stayed in the most superb Bed and Breakfast right by the sea in the centre of Williamstown, a boutique outfit called Captain's Retreat, beautifully restored and furnished and, as it turned out, run by the sister of a teacher colleague of mine from the Corio campus. She was marvellous and ran the B&B superbly, with home-made cakes and everything just perfect. I was put in the Captain's Suite where, Hal Porter, the famous Australian writer writing in the 60's, had written much of his stuff. After a slightly dreary afternoon, I settled down to some much needed relaxation, finishing up in a very deep hot bath in the en-suite spa. To really relax, I lit the three little tea-candles, turned out all the lights, switched on the bubbly jet things and lay back to relax in the candlelit darkness. As I lay there, I felt all the tension in my shoulders easing away and my body slumping lower, lower, lower in the water. Then the place exploded and everything went pitch-dark.

What had happened was that I had accidentally dislodged the bath plug so the water was slowly draining out - hence the feeling of slumping lower and lower. This wouldn't have been a problem except that when the water level dropped below the air-jet pipes still going at full-force, they sent all the water rocketing straight up in great fountains of spray
like power-sprinklers, extinguishing the candles and hitting the ceiling, the mirrored walls, the window sill and curtains, and hissing like a nest of angry cobras. It was like suddenly turning on ten fire hydrants all at once. Of course in the darkness I couldn't find any of the controls to turn the damn things off or replace the plug or turn the taps on to refill the bath so I wallowed and blundered around getting sprayed in the face before I finally managed to hit the right button and everything went quiet, except for the steady drip-drip of half a ton of water as it descended from the ceiling to the floor again.

After that the mood was lost somewhat, so I called it a night and went to bed, helping myself to half a bottle of port that had been thoughtfully put by the bedside.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Best spots to read in Melbourne

What are the best spots to read in Melbourne? We asked a few of our Melbourne authors to name their favourite spots. Here’s what they had to say:

Alice Pung:
Recently, I have been reading, standing up, on the Number 19 Tram when I head to and from work. Reading on public transport is like being in a mobile pedestrian library - you get to see what other people are reading too, particularly during peak hour. And you actually get to watch people read, which is usually quite a private matter. You get see the pace at which they turn their pages, how engrossed, embarrassed or distracted they look. It is the best way to find out about interesting books to read.
Catherine Deveny:
My favorite place to read? Public toilets. It's not a book I am reading but the graffitti. Sex is ace. Sex is olden. Sex is best in the back of Holden. Reservoir Station 1981 (I wrote that). Also this. If God didn't want us to have cleaners he wouldn't have invented people who didn't go to university. Brunswick East Primary School 2009, cubicle three, prep room (I wrote that too). Also the dunnies at Mario's in Brunswick Street - Catherine Deveny Is HOT!!! (yep me again). Also love lying under a tree on a blanky with my kids at Heidi drinking hot chocolate. Love the kids book room at Readings. Great on a winter's day followed by a slab o cake at Trotters. It'd be cheaper than the movies if I didn't end up spending $100 on books every time.
Ann Blainey:
I like to read in the Fitzroy gardens - either in a seat near the Clarendon Street entrance, under a tall pine tree, or in a seat near the Conservatory, looking across at the elms along the main path.
A quick survey of Black Inc. staff revealed a few other favourite reading spots – Systems Garden at Melbourne University, Illia Cafe on William Street in the CBD, the 109 tram to Richmond, CERES cafe in East Brunswick, and, of course, in bed, in an armchair or on the couch.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Red Highway launch

We launched The Red Highway by Nicolas Rothwell in Melbourne on Tuesday 12 May. It was launched by Marcia Langton. You can watch a video of the launch below

The Sydney launch of The Red Highway will be at the Sydney Writers' Festival on Saturday 23 May 23 at 6pm, Bangarra Mezzanine, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay. David Marr is the official launcher. This is a free event, and all are welcome. You can find out more details on the Sydney Writers' Festival website.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mother's Day gift suggestions

A typical Mother’s Day gift guide tends to promote either cookbooks or chick lit when it comes to books. If your mother’s reading tastes are a little broader than that, here are some alternatives suggestions:

For the environmentally conscientious:

Now or Never
By Tim Flannery
RRP $22.00

For lovers of blood and gore:

The Shanghai Murders
By David Rotenberg
RRP $22.95

For the arty (if you’re generous, because it’s pricey):

Performances 1971 - 2008
By Mike Parr
RRP $199.00

For the armchair traveller:

The Red Highway
By Nicolas Rothwell
RRP $32.95

For the muso:

By Don Walker
RRP $27.95

For the devoted Age reader (who doesn’t drive a 4WD or watch The Footy Show):

Say When
By Catherine Deveny
RRP $24.95

For the lover of literary fiction:

By Amanda Lohrey
RRP $19.95

The above books are available at all good bookstores (although Performances 1971 - 2008 is a specialty art title, so it could be a little harder to find.)

And here are some other, non-book options that we like:

- Her very own vegie garden
- A family of ducks from Oxfam
- Quarterly Essay gift subscription
- Mad Men Season 1

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Our favourite bookshelves

Here are some of our favourite bookshelves

The Opus Bookshelf
Inspired by the Romans. Designed by Sean Yoo.

The Bookworm Bookshelf
Flexible and able to assume any desired shape. Designed by Ron Arad.

The Staircase Bookshelf
A 'library staircase' in which English oak stair treads and shelves are both completely lined with books. Designed by Levitate Architects.

The Infinity Bookshelf
The shape of the bookcase is a lemniscate—a figure 8 and the mathematical symbol of infinity. Created by Job Koelewijn.

The Annotation Bookshelf
Created by Lau Design.

The See-Saw Bookshelf
To balance out your books. Created by Generate Design.


Check out more great bookshelf designs here, here and here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Author Tours

We have two national author tours coming up in May that we are really excited about. Nicolas Rothwell is going to be discussing his new book The Red Highway at events in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. And USA author George Friedman will be touring Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Byron Bay to discuss his book The Next 100 Years.

Both authors are guests of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. You can find out more detail about their events on the Black Inc. website. (You can read about their books there too.)

Here's an interview with George Friedman from the Business Spectator website, and a lecture by Nicolas Rothwell on SlowTV.