Archive for Brown Skin Blue

Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards

Posted in Authors and books with tags , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by belindajeffrey

Yes, still from the old website and waiting for the transfer…

This morning I was fortunate enough to attend the announcement of the Premier’s Literary Awards at the State Library of Queensland. Click on the link to see all the short-listed books and authors. I’m delighted to see that Nam Lee’s, The Boat, was nominated in both the Fiction award and the Short Story collection category. Truly masterful writing and one of my favorite covers of all time.

Amy Barker, last year’s winner of the Emerging Author Manuscript category, this morning launched her book, Omega Park, and read from her published novel. She talked about how writing is her serious work and her job supports her writing. That writing is something she has no choice about. It must be done. I completely relate. Writing is so deeply important and essential to me, I cannot not do it. Perhaps thats why, as writers, awards are so important. Amy says that, although it sounds cliche, this award – and the publication that resulted from it – really has changed her life. Amy’s book will be launched at Avid Reader on the 3rd of September.

Brown Skin Blue is eligible for next year’s awards. (Gulping and crossing fingers in advance.)

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Brown skin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 13, 2009 by belindajeffrey

great nannaFor those of you who’ve read Brown Skin Blue you’ll know that my main character, Barry, has dark skin. His mother is white and, not knowing the identity of his father, wonders where he comes from.

Barry and I share this mystery of our cultural origins. I have dark skin, my son’s skin is even darker, and I have only stories passed down from my father and aunties about where our dark blood comes from. But today I received this photograph from my grandmother on my mother’s side. She is the baby in the picture, sitting on her mother’s knee. Is it just me or does this woman look dark, too! My grandmother said she had always suspected, but growing up under the White Australia policy makes you tune out to those suspicions.

I’ve always had a nagging, burning question deep inside me. I’ve been the one in my family to wonder and ask and scratch at the surface about where we’ve come from. I’m beginning to think I should dig a little deeper, push a little harder.

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Five Stars

Posted in Authors and books with tags , , on August 12, 2009 by belindajeffrey

Delighted to find a 5 star review for Brown Skin Blue in this month’s Goodreading Magazine. Happy little writer.

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Terrifying

Posted in soapbox with tags , , , , on August 5, 2009 by belindajeffrey

As a debut author, the thought that the Australian Government might scrap parallel Importation protection fills me with dread. There’s been quite a bit of response to this issue from prominent authors like Tim Winton, and they’ve quite rightly many issues, but I want to raise another few points. These are things that I feel will directly affect authors like myself, or writers who are still trying to get their manuscripts published.

To get a book published at all is no easy task. Ask any writer trying to crack the market place. It’s likened to winning the lottery. Sure there are the manuscripts that really might never see the light of day and just don’t meet publishing standards, but there are many, many manuscripts that are excellent and just have to find the right place, the right publisher, the right editor, the right time. Getting published can be a fine alchemy. If parallel importation is scrapped, then australian publishers will find it very difficult to compete in the market. The books they publish will have fight for space in bookshops against books that will be cheaper to buy. They will take on fewer books and getting published will be harder. How is this good for the cultural industry? It isn’t.

Ok, so let’s suppose you’ve broken into the publishing industry. You’ve got a book published here in Australia. It now has to be sold into international markets  – and this is no guarantee. Australian books have to compete with a large international market. So those authors who already have an international name will still have a market – even if their profit margins have reduced – but for an author like me who does not yet (fingers still very crossed here) have international publishing rights, my chances of competing in my own home market are going to be considerably smaller. Publishing houses have to work hard to get their books into bookstores. They have to spend money, invest time and personnel to promote and distribute books. Not all bookstores take on new Australian books. And the smaller the publishing house, the harder it is to see books in the bigger chains like Angus and Robertson Target, Big W, etc. You probably won’t find Brown Skin Blue in those places.

Now I am both a writer and a reader and I understand the desire to purchase cheeper books – and sometimes I do. But at the moment at least there is a choice. What consumers may not fully appreciate is that if the laws are changed, this will effect the breadth of books they have access to. It won’t be something noticeable. It will change over time.

Brown Skin Blue is very Australian. It does not just have references – like vegemite (which it actually doesn’t) that an American author might change, it is about Australia. The idioms, the landscape, the characters. I have been reviewed by nearly every major paper in the country and, with the exception of a line here and there, they’ve all been favorable (yes I’m thanking the reviewing Gods). My point is that a book like mine, that’s been well received in Australia, still has to find a market overseas. It is not a popular fiction title, it is not a thriller, it is not romance, it is not Mills and Boon – all of which are more marketable and likely to be found in bigger book selling chains. Yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for a book like mine, it’s just that the markets for books like mine are threatened by the proposed changes to parallel importation laws. The Australian Booksellers Association does not support lifting of parallel importation restrictions.

The hidden effects of these laws changing, in my opinion, are about what will happen to publishing choices over time. Publishers may not be so ready to take risks on edgier, experimental books. Or, indeed, books they think are sensational but have niche markets. This is not good for anyone. Even Mrs Jones who only reads Mills And Boon does not benefit from a shrinking culture.

I was selling my book at my children’s school fete on the weekend and an elderly lady came over to have a look. She looked at the cover, read the blurb. Smiled. And tottled over to the second hand Mills and Boon section to grab a handful for $1. Now I think that’s fine. But imagine if it were a different section of the market that was under threat. Imagine if it were category romance books that were threatened by this legislation and a different genre and style of books was going to dominate the market. Then she would not have access and choice to the books she would like.

This is an insidious attack on cultural expression. It may not be a public burning of books, but the effect over time might be the gradual erosion of something important, something valuable, something that should not be lost. We should be spending our time and resources looking at ways to protect and expand the book industry from all angles. Everyone benefits from great literature – even Big Bookselling chains. I am so disappointed that in this day an age – when we think we are such an enlightened people – we would even contemplate such an action. The only people thinking this is a good decision are those set to make an immediate profit in the short-term. It would be interesting to ask them what books they read and if they’ve looked at a broader future through the lense of their proposal. The money they may find in their pockets might buy them a shinier new car, or more stores. But it won’t, in the long term, be able to buy back what may be lost along the way.

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Sneak Peak

Posted in Uncategorized, What I'm writing now with tags , , on August 3, 2009 by belindajeffrey

Here’s the opening paragraph of my new book.

When Tom was grown he would say he had been born three times.

Once to his mother, once to his Pa, and last to the river.

Like he couldn’t make it in life until he’d earnt each piece of himself.

One letter at a time.

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Crocodile story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 30, 2009 by belindajeffrey

I’ve got a new section on my website called VODPOD where I’ll be posting any interesting snippets of video I find. I’m collecting crocodile stories for the sequel to Brown SKin Blue, so if you find any good links, send them my way. Oh, and you can also click on the share buttons at the end of my posts and link the content to your twitter, facebook, diggit, delicious – or any other strange brand of social media you have. And if you belong to any of these networks, hook me up!

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Radio National

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 12, 2009 by belindajeffrey

It’s been a strange and wonderful month. My book is out there in the world – selling, I hope – and I’ve had some great reviews. I’m re-writing another manuscript at the moment and glimpsing the possiblity of a complete story, the way it was meant to be told. Quite the most enjoyable sensation. Ideas are great endorphins.

I’m doing a radio interview on Radio National’s Life Matters Tomorrow morning. Monday 13th July at 9:30am. If you’re free, tune in and listen as I try to be interesting and coherent (yes, I’m a little nervous).

And finally, some pictures of my book launch. If you were there, thanks so much for braving the cold and being a part of it. I managed to break the Avid Reader sales record for this year which is not a bad way to kick of the journey of Brown Skin Blue. Thanks to the fabulous team at Avid Reader and, especially, Krissy Kneen and the fabulous Nick Earls.

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