Tag Archives: Norman Jorgensen

Serendipity & Black Jack’s Mill

black jackThere are many places I could have stayed in Harefield, indeed I originally booked somewhere other than Black Jack’s Mill, but something about the B&B on the canal called me. Imagine my surprise, when today I found out, that after donating their manor house for the use of convalescent soldiers in 1914, the Australian Billyard-Leake family moved into Black Jack’s Mill!

I love serendipity and have enjoyed sharing interesting conversations with other children’s authors about strange coincidences linked to their work. Synchronicity seems especially common to authors who write historical fiction (looking at you Mark Greenwood and Norm Jorgensen). To research In the Lamplight, I thought I’d read all the books about Harefield Hospital in WWI, but discovering this small snippet in Tanya Britton’s, The ANZAC Hospital No. 1 at Harefield and the Australians who died there and elsewhere but who are buried at Harefield 1914-1918 has made my day, and started me thinking about serendipity all over  again. It’s also made me keen to find out more about both the Billyard-Leake’s and Black Jack. So far no one has been able to confirm whether the latter was a horse or a man. Hopefully more details to follow…

 

What’s in a Name?

media2   If it’s a book title, a lot!

For a year or so, I’ve been struggling with finding the right title for my almost completed manuscript, a companion title for Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy. For continuity reasons I wanted the word ‘light’ somewhere in the title. We aren’t meant to judge a book by it’s cover, but research indicates that many of us do.

This story has been on the back-burner since 2011 when I visited the Anzac cemetery in the UK village of Harefield to research another idea (more about that journey in future posts). Ideas bubbled away as I completed other projects and then last year, at last, I was able to give this story dedicated time (thank you Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries). While the manuscript was a work-in-progress I initially referred to it as Quarantine Rose; a shocker of a title which I knew would never be the one. I couldn’t change my central character’s name because Rose is an overlap character with Light Horse Boy. For a while the title shifted to Rose on No Man’s Land, linking the story to a popular WWI song. However Rose works in a hospital not on the battlefield.

As the manuscript took shape I knew I needed a better title. At the annual SCBWI Rottnest retreat, fellow author Norman Jorgensen came up with the evocative Light from a Broken Lantern, however as the story progressed, there was more hope than brokenness. Sorry Norm!

Sometimes the right title appears at the same time as the first story idea. Other titles involve weeks of compiling lists and thesaurus trawling. Lighthouse Girl for a long while was Postcards from Breaksea, or simply Postcards. Then about two years into the four year writing process, the current tile settled. For Light Horse Boy, the final title was always the one.

With my going-to-print deadline quickly approaching, this month I sent out a cry for help. Thank you friends and family, writer group peers, bookgroupies and others who answered my call. You offered so many great suggestions. Even the cheeky suggestions from family were useful, as they sparked other ideas using the words light, shadow and darkness.

Meanwhile Fremantle Press have been market-testing one of the options on our short-list of title choices and I am pleased to finally announce that the title has been decided. The book will be called In the Lamplight. Tentative release date is April 2018. I hope readers will enjoy this new addition to the ‘light’ series. Thanks again to all the wonderful title-hunters for your kind suggestions…

The Importance of Festivals and Retreats

Festivals: Summer in WA (and probably elsewhere) is the time of festivals. Warm evenings and writer gatherings under the stars make for a lovely combination. Perth Writers Festival and its Albany offshoot are both a whirl of inspiration; hearing other authors talk, catching up with friends, exchanging ideas and the nervous energy of presenting sessions. This year was even more exciting for me because of my link to The Giants (see previous posts).

Elaine Forrestal and Cate Sutherland helping me with a presentation at Perth Writers Festival

Elaine Forrestal and Cate Sutherland helping me with a presentation at Perth Writers Festival

After the Perth and Albany festivals, I presented at the All Saints writers Festival with WA peers as well as Jessica Watson, Isobelle Carmody and Felice Arena. It was a great mix of people – large enough to provide plenty of interesting sessions but small enough to be friendly. Staying in the heart of Fremantle at The Esplanade was also inspiring.

Some of the presenters at All Saints 2015

Some of the presenters at All Saints 2015

Before these WA based festivals, I was fortunate to be on the program of the inaugural Book an Adventure Festival on Tasmania’s Bruny Island. Fellow WA creators, Norm Jorgensen and James Foley were the headline act and the festival had a Viking theme tied to their wonderful Last Viking books. There’s something very special about a festival devoted solely to Children’s Literature and the wild beauty (and weather) of Bruny Island made this an exciting few days. A highlight was meeting Tasmanian and east coast authors whose books I’d read, but who I hadn’t met.

Retreats: For me Easter signals the change of season. The air has a different feel and days are shorter. Circadian rhythms shift and after the busy and inspirational summer season of festivals it seems a natural time to retreat.

IMG_1950 I’m fortunate to have access to a beach shack with no Internet or phone range. It’s an ideal place to write and walk and think… So, with a self-inflicted deadline looming, it was time to leave town…

The retreat worked. I was able to think through and implement a major shift in my WW2 ‘dog’ novel, as well as add several thousand words (hurrah) to the manuscript.

I was also deeply inspired by the forest drive to get to our shack. A couple of months after the terrifying Northcliffe fires, the tree regeneration is so beautiful, it’s worth a drive south just for that. Here are some of the images:

IMG_1975  IMG_1984  ss

IMG_2004  IMG_1936    IMG_1951  ww

IMG_2001      FullSizeRender     IMG_1943

IMG_1997  fff  o

More Retreating: Not long also until my favourite retreat; the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) annual Rottnest Island Retreat. This getaway has inspired rich collaborations between illustrators and authors and is a time to combine the inspiration of a festival (catching up with peers, exchanging ideas, sharing a red wine) with the free time and space needed to create.

Festivals and Retreats – I love them both