Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Gift Guide

Books make the best Christmas gifts – everyone knows that. We’ve published some wonderful titles this year that are just perfect for the book worm, political junkie or history buff in your family.

And remember – support your local bookshop this Christmas! Don’t have a bookshop nearby? Then buy online from a great Australian bookseller such as Readings (free shipping and gift wrapping!)

Here are our gift ideas (for more Black Inc. books, visit our website):

Monday, November 7, 2011

An interview with the editors of The Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems 2011

Each year the Best Australian collections – essays, stories and poems – bring together the best and brightest that has been written across the country. We talk to the current editors about the 2011 editions.

Ramona Koval is the editor of The Best Australian Essays 2011

What was the selection process like for The Best Australians Essays?

My kitchen table was covered with journals, magazines, newspapers and submissions and I moved these around to the yes, no and maybe piles. Then I would redistribute these and some maybes would go to the yes pile and vice versa. When a new essay was being considered, the rubic's cube process began again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Myths About Language

Robert Lane Greene, author of You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws and the Power of Words, reveals 10 myths about language.

1. In English, there are always clear rules; violate them and you’re wrong.

Who says? English has no committee that sets the rules; it never has. (France does, by contrast. More on them below.) The “rules” are frequently laid down in books intended to be authoritative; such books have often perpetuated non-rules that have been violated by great writers and speakers throughout history. The test of whether a rule is a Rule is not whether your English teacher told you so. It’s whether the body of speakers and writers observe it, establishing it as the de facto spoken and written standard by their use of English, not by their proclamations about rules.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An interview with Robert Lane Greene

We interview Robert Lane Greene, author of You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws and the Power of Words

Robert is an international correspondent for the Economist and his writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Slate, the New Republic, the Daily Beast and other publications. He speaks nine languages.

What's your new book You Are What You Speak about?

One reviewer put it well: it’s about language, but it’s also in large part about what we say and think about language. Why is every generation of parents worried the teenagers are ruining the language? Why do we think that some languages are more sophisticated, logical or powerful than others? Why do some countries ban or restrict the use of foreign or even native minority languages?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our picks for Father's Day

The best present you can give your Dad this Father’s Day is a book! Here are some of our suggestions:

'A first-class piece of historical writing. Boyce is a graceful and robust stylist and a fine storyteller.' – Sunday Age

Acclaimed historian James Boyce brings the founding of Melbourne to life. In 1835 an illegal squatter camp was established on the banks of the Yarra River. In defiance of authorities in London and Sydney, Tasmanian speculators began sending men and sheep across Bass Strait – and so changed the shape of Australian history.

Read more.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An interview with Alice Pung

Alice Pung is the author of the bestselling memoir Unpolished Gem and the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia. Her new memoir, Her Father's Daughter, is available now in all good bookstores.

Can you tell us a little about your new book Her Father’s Daughter?
My new book is an unspoken conversation between a father and a daughter, about growing up and growing old. In writing it I was not searching for easy epiphanies but an understanding of what it means to risk love again when you have lost almost everything.

The story started to emerge when I was living overseas for the first time, in Beijing. My father would call me up and give me updates about the Victorian bushfires which were raging through our state at the time. He couldn’t believe that the government allowed people to stay and defend their houses.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Great bookshop moments in film

In honour of National Bookshop Day this Saturday 20 August, we’ve put together a collection of some of our favourite bookshop moments from the movies.

The Never Ending Story

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interview with TV writer and novelist Steve Hely

Steve Hely is the author of How I Became a Famous Novelist and a writer for The Office, 30 Rock and American Dad.

How did you get into writing for TV?

I'd always been interested in writing stories and plays. When I was in fourth grade I tried to produce a play at my elementary school about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but some wise teachers put a stop to it. Then when I got to Harvard University, I became a member of the Harvard Lampoon magazine. It's the oldest continuously published humor magazine in the world, and many graduates from there have gone into TV writing. So I learned for the first time that TV writing was really a job you could get. And that doing it was basically just like sitting around with your funny friends. So after I graduated I wrote samples for several shows I liked. I ended up getting my first job writing jokes for The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City.

Steve Hely's Five Tips For Writers

1.  Only writing is writing. Talking about writing isn't writing. Reading isn't writing. Thinking up ideas isn't writing. Only sitting down and writing words counts. There's a quote I've heard attributed to Kingsley Amis that summarizes this nicely: The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one's trousers to the seat of one's chair.

An interview with author Tim Richards

Can you tell us a little about your new book Thought Crimes?

This book is a collection of twenty stories; they're comic in the main, but seldom funny ha-ha. It's pitch black, bizarre comedy... Where my previous books, Letters to Francesca (1996), The Prince (1997), and Duckness (1998) had a strong autobiographical component, these are less immediately so. There are still plenty of personal elements, but the main focus here is on thought and perspective, most particularly the imagination. The stories tend to exist in the space where the creative imagination tips into the red zone and becomes destructive and endangering. Some of these characters may be guilty of spending too much time entertaining dead-end ideas, to the extent that it not only harms their thinking, but also their perception. They're often incapable of seeing the world around them for what it is.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Alice Pung: Reflections on writing

When I was living in the States I befriended a rare and generous soul, a poet and professor named Robert Cording, who had this to say about writing poetry:
The poem has to feel, I think, as if there’s a real person struggling with real experiences that will not yield some handy lesson, but nevertheless are not entirely without meaning. The voice that convinces will always be the voice of the individual, not as a spokesperson for this or that idea.”
When I came to write my second book, Her Father’s Daughter, I had to remember this to get me through the darker parts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What we’re reading

What do publishers read in their spare time?

Well, when we’re not reading Black Inc. books like the amazing new Alice Pung memoir or the hilarious novel we’ve got coming out in August or James Boyce’s new book of history, we’re reading books by other publishers.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the books we’re currently reading:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A dozen things you didn’t know about Melbourne

James Boyce is the author of the new release 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia.

Here he shares with us a dozen things you may not have known about the founding of Melbourne:

#1 Melbourne’s mother island was not Britain but the notorious penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land.

#2 Melbourne was founded by unauthorised boat arrivals (or to use the contemporary term, ‘illegals’) who were breaking British law.

#3 The founding fathers (sadly there were few founding mothers) of Melbourne were not the cashed up squatters but their former convict workers. Very few of the famous Port Phillip Association members who sent sheep and shepherds across the strait were permanently resident in the Port Phillip District during the first year.

#4 The emancipist workers were experienced and environmentally attuned bushmen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our pets

In honour of Take Your Dog To Work Day, we are celebrating all of our pets. Get to know the dogs and cats behind Black Inc!

Belongs to: General Manager
Likes: Snoozing, swimming in Merri Creek
Dislikes: Being referred to as "the dog", forced cuddle time

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Interview with Benjamin Law

To celebrate the release of the new format of The Family Law, we talk to author Benjamin Law.

Can you tell us a little bit about the experience of having your first book published?

Getting a book out into the world is a very wonderful—albeit consistently odd—experience. During promotion, you find yourself in places you never imagined, like saying hello to Mel and Kochie in Channel 7’s studios, or drinking wine with Jenny Kee and Waleed Aly in the headquarters of SBS. Complete strangers come up to you, saying they’ve read your book and tell me how much they love my mother.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Interview with author Sonia Faleiro

We interview writer and journalist Sonia Faleiro about her fascinating new book Beautiful Thing: Portrait of a Bombay Bar Dancer.

Can you tell us a little about your book Beautiful Thing?

Beautiful Thing is a work of non-fiction. It’s the story of a young girl called Leela who runs away from home after being prostituted by her father and reaches Bombay determined to build a new life for herself. She’s only thirteen when she gets a job as a bar dancer but because of her beauty and vivacity very quickly becomes popular, earning plenty of money and living the lifestyle of her dreams. When I met Leela in 2005, she was nineteen and hopeful that her affair with her boss, a man who was already married and had children, would turn into something more permanent. But very soon after, the government cracked down on dance bars, banning them on the grounds that they encouraged immorality, corrupted the youth and encouraged crime, essentially forcing Leela and about 75,000 young women like her out of work and onto the streets.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kate Jennings on writing Snake

Kate Jennings
I wrote my novel Snake through two long winters at the beginning of the nineties out on Long Island. Low grey skies, the angry Atlantic. No distractions from re-imagining life on an Australian farm in the fifties.

When I began, I remember thinking “The world doesn’t need another dysfunctional family or coming-of age novel.” But most of those books were from the perspective of one person: the self-justifying writer-as-child. It was important for me to be even-handed, to present this family from the point of view of all the protagonists. It was also important to me not to write a feminist tract – this was a time when feminists were presenting mothers as nurturing and women in general as somehow innately morally superior. Arrant nonsense, of course. Some mothers are good, some middling, some appalling.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Girls in publishing review The Girls In Publishing

With a cover like that, we knew we needed to read it. Our industrious editor hunted down a copy of the book and it has been passed from desk to desk ever since.

What can we say? It lives up to the hype.

Things we learnt from reading The Girls in Publishing:

Cigarettes and whisky are acceptable during editorial meetings. Cover designers prefer hashish.

Every girl in publishing should own at least one pair of "mint-green lounging pyjamas".

If only we had husbands who were so supportive of our careers: "There was nothing about her, he thought with a deep flush of pride, that indicated she'd been working."

If you're a boy - sorry, man - in publishing, don't be afraid to turn on the charm. Say your associate editor appears at your cubicle. Why not ask her: "What can I do for you, Diana? Lunch, dinner, a moonlight picnic by the East River when your husband is conveniently not around?"

Age-appropriate dating is important: "Forty-six was hardly an age even the most liberated woman's handbook would consider ideal to attract a virile thirty-five-year-old man, much less be his wife."

It's the little things that keep the romance alive: "He noticed that she was wearing a gold pin he'd given her when they first started screwing."

In 1974, "cutting and pasting" involved real scissors and actual glue.

Agents ain't what they used to be: "Foster was a slimy, cigar-smelling, toupee-wearing man who would demand payment in bed for anything he did ... He was the best agent in the business."

Contracts were a lot messier back then too: “… the usual ten percent commission - plus one evening a week screwing until he got bored.”

Beware the notorious PUBLISHING BLACKLIST. Disgrace yourself too badly, girlie, and you'll never wield a blue pencil in this town again.

If you sleep with your boss and he dumps you, wearing a “tight lace bodysuit” to work is a sure way to regain his professional respect: “She wasn’t wearing a bra either, he noticed.”

Sure her publishing-executive husband sleeps around - but really, some women are so cold they have it coming: "'Why do kids love the zoo so much?' she complained. 'Nothing to see but animals.' She shuddered slightly."

If your colleague turns up to a party with a pretty blonde as his date, don’t be afraid to speak your mind - “‘I hear that Scandinavians are pretty sophisticated sexually,’ Kate said, in what she hoped was a cutting voice.”

The girls in publishing have a LOT of sex. But only with colleagues, agents, authors, failed authors and, at a stretch, copyright lawyers. No one outside the industry, ladies: publishing is a closed shop.