Way back in July, I was shortlisted for the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. I’m immensely pleased to share that my novella was selected as one of the award finalists and is now an e-book! It has a new title and a snazzy cover.
A thriller set in 1980s Sydney and drawn from true events, including a series of international terrorist attacks, My Name is Revenge is the story of a young man seeking justice.
My Name is Revenge is available from Booktopia and Amazon, as well as iBooks and wherever ebooks are sold.
You might like to read it, particularly if you like thrillers, new insights into 20th-century history, or fiction set in Australia. It’s a novella, which means it’s short as. Plus there’s an essay at the end that delves into the story’s historical context. And I heard you saying just the other day how much you love essays!
You might like to tell your friends about it, since word of mouth is still one of the main ways people find out about new books. You could send them the link right now.
If you read it, you might like to leave a review on Booktopia or Amazon, since the number of reviews a book receives is a key factor in its success on these platforms, thanks to the magic of algorithms. Plus you’d totally be my hero.
Before visiting Melbourne in September, I read Sophie Cunningham’s Melbourne. It’s one of the City Series from NewSouth, ‘travel books where no-one leaves home’. I’ve spent several years working my way around Australia while reading my way through this series. Melbourne has been my favourite yet.
There’s a moment in the book where Cunningham is learning letterpress at a workshop downtown while listening to AFL (Aussie-style rugby) on the radio and taking soup breaks to stay warm. ‘I realised,’ she writes, ‘that I felt about as Melbourne as it’s possible to feel. It was a good sensation, one akin to (but colder than) waking up and taking an early morning dip at Bondi Beach and consequently feeling very Sydney.‘
This is my favourite description of both Melbourne and Sydney.
The letterpress workshop took place in the Nicholas Building. I was keen to visit it because of Cunningham’s description of the three ‘lift operators’ that work the building’s elevators. ‘Joan has been spending her days in the lift for thirty-five years, and its walls are covered with newspaper clippings and photos of children, grandchildren and animals. Some of the animals are her pets, others belong to building tenants.’
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to ride in a lift like that? It seemed too good to be true, and it was. Melbourne was published in 2011. Sometime since then, the lift operators have vanished. There were no newspaper clippings or photos, and I had to push the lift buttons myself.
Still, I was already inside and decided to wander around the Nicholas Building, which had the vibe of a curious relic. I was immediately rewarded with this sign on a seventh-floor door:
What is the Royal Over-Seas League? I’ve entertained myself by tossing around possibilities for days, and I’ve come to hope they’re the Avengers of the Commonwealth, like the Justice League but British, knighted by the Queen maybe – and I had stumbled on their Australian headquarters!
I was also rewarded when I reached the top floor.
Amid the mess of graffiti, I found a real gem:
So now I know what I’ll carve on my tombstone. I’m even toying with the idea of having my skeleton put on a pole, like one you’d find in a science lab, and positioned beside my tombstone, perhaps holding a sign inviting photos. Could be a real tourism opportunity for whatever lucky city I’m buried in!
Being sick, I wasn’t able to do a lot in Melbourne. In my wanderings through the Nicholas Building, I went through the wrong door, got trapped in the stairwell, and had to walk down several flights to exit on the ground floor. The exertion of walking down stairs made me nauseous. And when stairs make you nauseous, that’s when you know it’s time to return to your hotel and go to bed at 4:17 pm.
Still, it was a treat to wander along different streets, sit in different cafes, and catch up with some the many friends who’ve moved to Melbourne. The theme of this catching up was definitely Let Me Tell You About How My Body Has Turned On Me, but that’s fine. I’d much rather people ask about my crazy illness than pretend everything is normal. And I’m slowly slowly slowly (like a sloth through tar) getting better, so I feel optimistic. I know I’ll eventually visit Brisbane and Adelaide and even Alice Springs, and read those books. Who knows what unexpected wonders I’ll stumble upon. ~
You should definitely buy ten copies of @thebigissue this month, not only because it’s always great, but also because my creepy Tasmanian time travel trip is in there. Here’s a sneak peek:
This article is excerpted from my current manuscript-in-progress, a memoir called How to Be Australian. It explores the experience of becoming Australian citizens and the complex process of developing an Australian identity through travel, socialising and wild curiosity.
Your passport contains the distilled essence of Australia. Study its images carefully during the interminable minutes in line at Immigration. Each image is a puzzle piece. Fit them together, and you will know what it is to be Australian.
Australian passport images, in order of appearance
Parliament, featuring the largest free-standing stainless steel structure in the southern hemisphere
A kookaburra who really wants you to know about travel insurance
A Tasmanian devil suffering lockjaw
Surf lifesaving chicks about to launch floaty things into the water
A camel caravan
A thorny devil
A depressed wombat
A water tank, windmill-thing and what might be a station house
People sitting on car bonnets observing a horserace
An even more depressed platypus
A man being cruel to a herd of cattle
An open-mouthed saltie
A smarmy koala
A noble dingo who definitely hasn’t eaten any babies this week
Two scuba divers checking out coral
A page translated into French, Australia’s unofficial second language
A pointy-nosed chipmunk?
A highway leading to distant hills, with trees
A love-struck emu
An RV hitched to a ute, maybe Uluru in the background?
A bearded dragon who’s ready to party
A kangaroo whose grandfather was a horse
Two ladies in togs holding a rope in knee-deep water staring down a big wave
A lone surfer
A patriotic eagle, the eternal symbol of Australian freedom
Just a regular echidna
A rural town hotel that definitely has a pub
A semi-truck (the designers must have been getting desperate at this point)
A sulphur-crested cockatoo who just came out of the dryer
Maybe a bilby?
Girls playing rugby in skirts because females play sport too
Another lizard-type thing – wait, is that a goanna?
Sailboats on a harbour
A man in an overcoat and fedora staring off towards some power lines or possibly a fence with a definite serial killer vibe
Also a lot of plants. Give me a break, I’m not a botanist.