The Blogging, the Book Launch and the Cool Stuff Happening Soon

I hate doing ‘update’ blogs and yet some­times they are a nec­es­sary part of every blogger’s blog feed. I will attempt to demu­n­dane the expe­ri­ence by using head­ings. Let’s see how I go at the whole demu­n­daneifi­ca­tion. (Ooh, I should go patent that word).

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THE BLOGGING

It’s a while since I’ve been on this blog. Some­times writ­ers must take time off writ­ing so they can con­cen­trate on their writ­ing. Y’know? As well as work­ing on Book Num­ber Two I was also blog­ging over at the Inside A Dog web­site last month. Among other things I did dur­ing my month-long blog­ging res­i­dency over there, were inter­views with all the authors who have been short­listed for the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Read­ers award. Here are all of the blog posts I did:

The Blog Post with the Bor­ing Intro­duc­tions
The Blog Post with the Cereal Boxes as Book Cov­ers
The Blog Post about how CBCA Short­listed Authors are the Rock Stars of YA
The Blog Post with Penny Tangey, author of Lov­ing Richard Feyn­man
The Blog Post about Bad Book Ideas
The Blog Post inter­view­ing Jus­tine Lar­balestier, author of Liar
The Blog Post about the Girl With The Dragon Book Tat­toos
The Vlog Post where Lucy Christo­pher talks about her books Stolen & Flyaway

The Blog Post with My Guide to the ‘Other’ Graphic Nov­els By Well-Known Graphic Nov­el­ists
The Blog Post inter­view­ing Glenda Mil­lard, author of A Small Free Kiss In The Dark
The Blog Post about That One Book You Did at School and Actu­ally Loved
The Blog Post ‘doing cof­fee’ with David Met­zen­then, author of Jarvis 24
The Blog Post inter­view­ing Judith Clarke, author of The Winds of Heaven
The Blog Post about Mid­dle Grade Fic­tion and its Place in the World (Which Seems Obvi­ous, But Isn’t)

THE BOOK LAUNCH

In other news I attended the launch of fel­low writer Kim Kane’s pic­ture book Fam­ily For­est last week. Fam­ily For­est is a real charmer — a pic­ture book about a mod­ern fam­ily that is more like a fam­ily for­est than a fam­ily tree.

You might have heard of Kim before because she wrote the excel­lent YA novel Pip: The Story of Olive a cou­ple of years ago. Fam­ily For­est is her first and only pic­ture book, although that won’t be the case for long as her sec­ond — The Veg­etable Ark: A Tale of Two Brothers — comes out in August. She’s a pic­ture book machine right now.

That’s Kim and the illus­tra­tor of Fam­ily For­est Lucia Mas­ci­ullo above at the book launch at Read­ings Port Mel­bourne. Lucia was raised in Tus­cany, now lives in Bris­bane and is also the illus­tra­tor of (name drop alert) Sonya Hartnett’s new pic­ture book The Boy and the Toy.

THE COOL STUFF HAPPENING SOON

And I’m appear­ing at the Dog’s Bar in St Kilda, Mel­bourne next Thurs­day night as part of the Dog’s Bar’s ongoing Sto­ry­telling nights, which have been get­ting a bit of press lately. I’ll be ‘spin­ning yarns’ as the warm-up act for another great YA author — Kathy Charles — from 8pm. Kathy’s cool book Hol­ly­wood Ending was pub­lished here last year (which has since been short­listed for two NSW Premier’s Lit­er­ary Awards) and is being pub­lished in the US in August as John Belushi is Dead.

Oh and the Emerg­ing Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val is on later in May in Mel­bourne too. The full pro­gram can be seen here and as part of one the festival’s From Here to There ses­sions I’ll be chat­ting to Mel­bourne artist Stephanie Brotchie about a project she ran last year called A Nov­elty, which was a lit­er­ary trea­sure hunt/interactive novel that took place in and around Melbourne.

And that’s all I have. Hope I man­aged to demu­n­danel­ize the com­mon ‘update’ blog post. And now I’m off to patent every demu­n­dane suf­fix I can think of.

Blogging at Inside A Dog throughout April

Hi all. Just a quick post to let you know that for the month of April I am the Res­i­dent Blog­ger over at www.insideadog.com.

For those not in the know, Inside A Dog is a web­site for young peo­ple that is all about books and read­ing. It is run by the Cen­tre for Youth Lit­er­a­ture — out of the State Library of Vic­to­ria — which is the most promi­nent organ­i­sa­tion in Aus­tralia to focus soley on young adult books, read­ing and writ­ing with lots of cool pro­grams and YA events every year.

Inside A Dog fea­tures a new res­i­dent author blog­ging every month. Some of the more recent authors to have done the res­i­dency include Garth Nix, Lia Hills and Richard Har­land. And now me. I’ll be back on my ‘home blog’ in May, but for now fol­low me at Inside A Dog or sub­scribe to their RSS feed. Oh and I’ll be blog­ging a lot more than usual over there too. They made me sign a con­tract wherein I promised not to be a ‘lazy-good-for-nothing-blogger’.

On Flying: Why Getting High Wouldn’t Be So Dope After All


Begin­ning of discussion.

It is only nat­ural for humans to want to fly. The human desire to move beyond the laws of grav­ity and take to the skies is the busi­ness of all pilots, astro­nauts and moti­va­tional speak­ers who talk in metaphors. And there are many more of us who would like to make it our busi­ness. Most of us have, at point or another, wished for the abil­ity to fly with­out the use of planes, rock­ets or super-strength spider-webbing. As chil­dren you may have actu­ally tried to fly, run­ning around the back­yard and attempt­ing to ‘take off’. And, unless you were Peter Parker, you would have frus­trat­ingly remained grounded. Nev­er­the­less, many of us con­tinue to dream about fly­ing and still wish for the power to zoom about in the air.

But I don’t believe that fly­ing would be such a fan­tas­tic thing. Sure, you would get that instant feel­ing of free­dom as your feet left the ground and you watched the world shrink under your shoes; but things would get bad pretty quickly after that.

For one, it would be cold. Really cold. The first layer of the Earth’s atmos­phere is called the Tro­pos­phere and it stretches from the ground up to around ten kilo­me­tres above sea level. So assum­ing you did sud­denly one day acquire the abil­ity to fly, you would find your­self soar­ing around in the Tro­pos­phere – which might sound like a mid-air amuse­ment park, but is actu­ally a place that gets 6.5° Cel­sius colder for every kilo­me­tre higher you go. Plus the faster you flew the more the wind chill fac­tor would increase and you’d prob­a­bly have to put a wind­cheater on. And you would soon encounter clouds, which are the bitu­men of heaven in car­toons but in real­ity would prob­a­bly be more like walk­ing into a meat locker wear­ing noth­ing but eat­able ice-cream undies. You would very soon be miss­ing your warm bed blan­kets. And pos­si­bly your toes, should frost­bite set in.

Then there would be the issue of fly­ing posi­tions. Fly­ing in itself is a glam­orous thing and you could expect to gain extra ‘cool’ once air­borne (unless you are wear­ing that wind­cheater, of course). The fly­ing process would involve you shoot­ing up into the air ‘ele­va­tor style’ (i.e. head first) and then mov­ing your­self into the ‘super­man posi­tion’ (i.e. par­al­lel to the ground with fists out in front). Except that it prob­a­bly wouldn’t work out that way. You would still be bound by the laws of grav­ity in the Tro­pos­phere and get­ting into the ‘super­man posi­tion’ – let alone main­tain­ing it – would be almost impos­si­ble. Most likely you’d end up fly­ing in a posi­tion that resem­bled a child hang­ing over a fence on its stom­ach, except with­out the fence.

As I demon­strate here…

…this would not be a glam­orous way to fly.

How­ever, the most com­pelling rea­son not to go fly­ing is that it is – in fact – ille­gal for a per­son to go fly­ing.  All things that fly – planes, bal­loons, blimps, even hang glid­ers – need licences to do so. The Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Author­ity (CASA) rules the skies in Aus­tralia and they basi­cally ensure that no one goes up into the sky with­out the CASA know­ing about it. Since radars are already capa­ble of show­ing birds in flight, detect­ing a human in the sky would be sim­ple enough. Espe­cially if said human was fly­ing in the shape of a child hang­ing over a fence.

And so you see the dan­gers, dis­com­forts and fash­ion per­ils of human-only flight. It is not my inten­tion to ruin child­hood dreams, but we must let go of that desire to fly. Move on.There are other things that need now to be con­sid­ered. Like how can we make our­selves invis­i­ble? Or how can we imbue our­selves with X-Ray vision? And do peo­ple who sell trench coats on the black mar­ket keep their ille­gal trench coats on the insides of their trench coats?

End of dis­cus­sion (unless you would like to leave your own thoughts On Fly­ing below).

Deleted Scene from The Greatest Blogger in the World

Deleted Scenes. They’re bonus mate­r­ial used to pad out the spe­cial fea­tures of a DVD. We’re always very inter­ested to watch them and they almost always let us down. ‘Oh, I see why they didn’t use that,’ we say. ‘But it’s nice the pro­duc­ers put it on the DVD for us.’

Keep­ing this in mind I now present a deleted scene from my first, only and best­selling (in Per­sonal Best terms, any­way) novel The Great­est Blog­ger in the World. This ‘deleted scene’ was orig­i­nally a char­ac­ter sketch that I wrote dur­ing the writ­ing of Great­est Blog­ger to flesh out the rela­tion­ship between protagonist-blogger Char­lie and his best friend Phat­tius Beats.

I have given it a light copy edit for rea­sons of style and gram­mar, but it is oth­er­wise untouched since I first wrote it. It wouldn’t have worked in the con­text of the rest of the book, but I did end up using a cou­ple of lines in the final text.

So, enjoy. In an, ‘Oh, I see why he didn’t pub­lish that, but it’s nice he put it on his blog for us’ kind of way.

DELETED SCENE

Fea­tur­ing Char­lie Ridge and Phat­tius Beats

I looked down at the address that Phat­tius had writ­ten on the back of a busi­ness card. I was just around the cor­ner from the des­ti­na­tion – the Splishy Café. I flipped the card and realised that it was Phattius’s own busi­ness card. Phat­tius Beats – Busi­ness­man and Pro­fes­sional Opin­ion Con­sul­tant. So these were what Phat­tius had been mak­ing in art class that day when he said he’d ‘thought of noth­ing good to make’, despite work­ing hard for hours.

    I turned the cor­ner and there was the Splishy Café, right next to the Mr Sploshy’s Hair­dressers. Phat­tius was already seated at a metal­lic table in the sun out the front of the Splishy Café. I sat down oppo­site him and put my school­bag at my feet.‘Good morn­ing,’ I said.

    Phat­tius was sip­ping at a half-drunk cap­puc­cino. ‘Morn­ing, brother! I hope you don’t mind meet­ing me here before school?’

    ‘No, it’s fine.’

    ‘I would have met you at school but I just had a meet­ing with my accountant.’

    ‘Phat­tius, you have an accountant?’

    ‘Well, no. He was my dad’s accoun­tant. I was sell­ing him cal­cu­la­tors. I got a whole bunch cheap the other day. You want one? Half-price for friends. Plus you don’t have to buy bat­ter­ies because they work when you stand in the sun or near a microwave.’

    ‘No, no thanks. What did you want to talk about? I had to leave Joshua to feed Bar­code this morn­ing and to be hon­est I don’t know which of them will end up eat­ing the most duck food.’

    ‘Well, I appre­ci­ate you com­ing this morn­ing, brother. It’s not every bestie who would come to a meet­ing before school.’

    ‘Every bestie? You have others?’

    ‘I have a new prod­uct that I think I can start sell­ing to the kids at school.’

    ‘Really? Is it more excit­ing than calculators?’

    ‘It is, but it’s a bit more abstract. I want to sell Childhood.’

    ‘Childhood?’

    ‘Childhood.’

    ‘Maybe you should stick to calculators?’

    ‘How often to do you hear adults say­ing, “Child­hood was the best time of my life” or “Youth is wasted on the young”?’

    ‘Well, Grandma does say that a lot. She’s for­ever curs­ing Joshua’s soft, soft skin.’

    ‘His face is like a rub­ber mask.’

    ‘So elasticy.’

    ‘The point is that us kids are being forced to grow up really fast these days.’

    It was true. Lots of kids from school already had jobs. Cathy Old­beck did a few hours every week behind the counter of her aunty’s car­pet shop, Brent Looter worked at the Trunk Fast Food Restau­rant and Rory Corey filled in for his dad some­times as a secu­rity guard at the Schlock Pub of Excel­lence. That place is the worst. Its slo­gan is Get Schlocked at the Schlock.

    Phat­tius con­tin­ued. ‘So how would you feel if I said to you, “Char­lie, I have the solu­tion to being a kid”?’

    ‘I would say, “I’m already a kid, I don’t have any­thing to worry about – least of all NOT being a kid.”’

    ‘Yes, but you’re more than just a kid. I mean, how often do your par­ents get you to wash the dishes, sweep the floors, take your lit­tle brother to kinder?’

    ‘All the time,’ I said, which wasn’t exactly true because some­times I tell Dad I don’t want to walk Joshua to kinder and he sends Bar­code off with Joshua instead. Bar­code doesn’t mind – in fact he loves going to kinder with Joshua. Bar­code is good at beak paint­ing, he loves going down the slide and he takes to the lawn sprin­kler like a duck takes to water.

    ‘You see,’ said Phat­tius, ‘apart from school a real kid’s time should be spent play­ing video games, drink­ing from the noz­zles of slurpee machines and rid­ing around on the biggest dogs in the dog park. You know – kid stuff.’

    ‘I hear you Phat­tius, but how exactly are you going to sell this Child­hood thing?’

    Phat­tius reached down to his school­bag and brought back a big pile of papers. He passed the bun­dle over to me. There were about 100 pages all sta­pled together. The first page read You Can’t Be Young At Heart If Your Aorta Is Old: 10 Steps for Kids to Reclaim Their Own Child­hoods by Phat­tius Beats. It was a book. Phat­tius had writ­ten some kind of self-help book for kids.

    ‘So what do you think, Char­lie?’ Phat­tius asked. ‘Do you think it’ll sell? I wrote it myself. Last night.’

    ‘I’m not sure if this will sell as well as red cor­dial,’ I said, leaf­ing through the pages.

    ‘You don’t think it’s a good idea?’

    ‘No, no, it’s a good idea,’ I said, and it was. But books are a has­sle to get printed and annoy­ing to get into bookshops.

    ‘But…?’

    ‘But maybe it’s not a book,’ I said, look­ing up and smil­ing at Phat­tius. ‘Maybe it would be bet­ter as a blog?’

Copy­right  Andrew McDon­ald 2009

My book reading at the Wheeler Centre

I had the great hon­our of being the sec­ond per­son EVA to speak at Melbourne’s Wheeler Cen­tre for Books, Writ­ing and Ideas in Feb­ru­ary this year. And whilst the highly-literate staff at the cen­tre were all very lovely to me on the night, who knows how they’d treat me now if they saw me using ‘words’ like EVA.

The night was suc­cess­ful, nobody heck­led me and a cou­ple of peo­ple even gig­gled. Or maybe they were sneez­ing. Any­way, you can decide for your­self — gig­gling or sneez­ing — by watch­ing the video of the ten-minute read­ing I did from The Great­est Blog­ger in the World below.

Wheeler Cen­tre 4 EVA!

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