Tag Archives: anthropomorphism

World Octopus Day & Entangled Ideas

There is alchemy in the business of writing. Authors are often asked where their ideas come from. Divine inspiration, shells on a beach, talk-back radio … Sometimes I can pinpoint a moment, more often a story grows from linked moments of wonder or interest.  As ideas come together and bubble, a manuscript grows, and sometimes, with luck, this mash turns into a book. Some moments that sparked The Shark Caller involved diving on reefs in PNG’s New Britain area as well as snorkeling in Marovo Lagoon (Solomon Islands) and WA’s Greens Pool.

Greens Pool was especially significant as it became (in my mind) the fictitious ‘Abalone Cove’.

In the opening scene of The Shark Caller a teenage boy dies in mysterious circumstances at Abalone Cove. A blue-ringed octopus is involved. I once saw a blue-ring in Greens Pool; just a surprised flash before it turned sandy brown and crept away. Greens Pool is a magical place to swim. When I lived in Denmark my regular loop involved a long lap, from a rock that sometimes hid a wobbegong to the far end where a Gloomy Octopus lived under a large rock. Her garden of shells gave away the entrance. These shark and octopus encounters swirled around in my imagination, along with the evocative rocks that guard Greens Pool. I added PNG diving experiences,  environmental worries and my own sense of communities being linked by oceans. This all gave me a strong sense of setting to draw on during the long writing process.

Greens Pool, WA

If you’d like to read more about The Shark Caller, here is a post from last World Octopus Day.

Year of the Earth Dog

Happy Chinese New Year.

For me celebrating the Year of the Earth Dog is timely as I have been hunkered down this week, completing a final (I hope) edit of The Dog with Seven Names. It’s a young YA novel set in the Pilbara during 1942 told from the POV of a dog. Yes, I can’t seem to get enough anthropomorphism!

While I’m a boring old buffalo, those lucky people born in dog years are honest and loyal with a strong sense of duty, just like my main character; Flynn/Princess/Gengi + 4 other names.

Welcome to Dianne Wolfer's Website

The research for this book has been fascinating and I’ve learnt so many things about WW2 Australian history. My dog character is a terrier cross, smaller than Harry (pictured above) and writing a story using dog senses has been both fun and challenging.

The Dog with Seven Names will be published by Penguin Random House in August 2018 (assuming I finish this draft!) and I’ll post more news and a sneak peek of the gorgeous cover in a few months. In the meantime, may your Earth Dog celebrations be joyous.

An Alternative to Red Hearts

Junior school teachers are probably helping their students make heart cards this week. As I walked past a mass of commercial ‘Made Somewhere Else’ heart stuff that may end up in landfill, I thought that a wonderful alternative present for a loved one, is a book celebrating love, not just romantic love… And that got me thinking about picture books with themes of love. Two favourites came to mind immediately; Old Pig (Margaret Wild & Ron Brooks) and Samsara Dog (Helen Manos & Julie Vivas).

I love both of these books. Both honour selfless love (perhaps that’s the best kind) and loss. Both are also anthropomorphic. I love animal stories too. Animal characters cross gender and racial boundaries. For me, they strip away the ‘trimmings’ and help young readers find the core of a story.

Love. There are so many other wonderful picture books on my shelves celebrating love; in glorious shades and forms. Great picture books like Old Pig and Samsara Dog can be read on many levels. Perhaps it would be fun to discuss different kinds of picture book love while the sticky heart card glue is drying…

Happy Valentines Day 🙂

* keep the tissues handy for these titles

New Book: The Shark Caller

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On a day when various media report the findings of Matt Waller that sharks really like ACDC , it seems timely to announce my own good news, that my YA manuscript The Shark Caller has been accepted for publication with Random House in 2016!

The idea for this story began many years ago (Dec 2001), during a family holiday on a dive resort island near Kavieng in Papua New Guinea. My sister, Karen and her partner, Owen worked in PNG and were friends with the owners. I’d been to other PNG islands and The Marovo Lagoon (Solomon Islands) with them. Karen and Owen introduced me to the joy of diving on stunning reefs and WW2 shipwrecks. I loved watching ocean creatures and I also became interested in Pacific Island culture…

The actual Shark Caller story began a few years after that trip, but the draft  went into the ‘revise one day’ drawer. That day didn’t arrive until 2012 when I began my PhD at UWA.

I was fortunate to receive a scholarship for a PhD based on creative writing. I needed to write a linked Creative Work of 70,000 words and a research exegesis on a linked topic (in my case its Anthropomorphism in Australian Children’s Literature). Because I wanted to write for YA readers (around 11-14), I negotiated writing 2 titles for the Creative Works.

Initially these two Creative Works were to be linked dog stories set in WA; one during WW2, the other in the 60s. As my research continued I thought that to show anthropomorphic range it would be really interesting to write from a different species POV and perhaps also in a different genre.

I remembered The Shark Caller, went to the ‘revise one day’ file and have been working on it ever since. Weeks, hours, month and years. The story is semi-fantasy and this genre is totally new to me – and very challenging.

The Shark Caller is due for publication in August 2016. There are many people to thank and they will be acknowledged in the book, including: my UWA supervisors Van Ikin and Tess Williams; my family for reading endless drafts over the past three years and SCBWI WA for inviting Zoe Walton to our Rottnest Retreat and thus enabling me to connect with the wonderful team at Random House.

di in tank

I will post another Shark Caller update early in the New Year…