Wednesday 22 July 2020, 6.30-7.30PM, I’m greatly looking forward to talking online about Mother of Pearl as part of the Yarra Valley Writers Festival Book Club. Book club hosts Michael Veitch & YVWF Director Brook Powell invite you to join in a conversation in two parts. First, they have a chat about the book among themselves–you can listen in and send questions and comments via the chat function on zoom; then they invite me in to talk to them a little more about my process, answer questions and join in the conversation. These evenings are inclusive, accessible and about readers indulging in talking books for an hour a month. And it’s free. Details here and you can sign up to be part of the Book Club here.
Recently I was interviewed by Justine the Librarian (aka Justine Hanna) for her wonderful podcast Literary Elixirs, which works like this: ‘Matching books to food and drink! Justine is a librarian who loves good food and drink and can’t stop talking about what book she’s read which would pair perfectly with that delicious cheese, wine, coffee, beer, chocolate … you get the idea! She is on a mission to chat with purveyors of delicious elixirs and suggest some literature which would be a perfect match because books go with pretty much anything!’ In the podcast, I chat with Justine about Mother of Pearl, then talk about what I food I would pair with two books I’ve recently read and loved: Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe (2019), and Swallow the Air by Tara June Winch (2006), both published by UQP. One of my matches is literal, the other lateral! Be warned: once you start listening to Justine’s podcast, you’ll find yourself mentally pairing every book you read with food and/or drink. You can read more and listen to our conversation here.
I feel truly fortunate that despite the cascade of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I still get to participate in this kind of literary activity.
One of my recent online festival sessions is also available to view for free online (click on the title): Tapping the Zeitgeist, part of Willy Lit Fest Vision 2020, was a conversation between me and Alice Robinson, chaired by Kate Mildenhall, about writing ‘issues novels’: why do it, how to make it work, and the value of fiction in exploring contemporary life. As an added incentive, Alice’s wonderful novel, The Glad Shout, has just been longlisted for the 2020 Colin Roderick Literary Award, which is awarded to the best original book, in the judges’ opinion, that is published in Australia in the previous calendar year.
Finally, a large segue: after a decline in COVID-19 cases and an easing of restrictions on 25 May, my home town of Melbourne has experienced a surge in new infections. We are still fortunate to be experiencing very low numbers overall compared with other countries, but the trend is worrying. Residents in 12 suburban postcodes have gone back into lockdown (my place is only a few blocks from one of these locked down suburbs). Also locked down, as of yesterday and with no notice, are nine, high-rise public housing residencies in inner Melbourne. A fundraising page has been set up by the Victorian trade union movement to support these vulnerable communities. You can donate here. The Victorian union movement will work with community groups, residents and the Victorian Government to ensure every dollar raised goes to residents.