Thanks, Ian St James Awards

Ian St James Awards

In their heyday, the Ian St James Awards offered the biggest fiction prize in the UK and Ireland for unpublished writers. I submitted several short stories to the awards from 1992 to 1995. None were finalists, let alone winners, but the critiques provided by the judges inspired me to keep writing! Continue ReadingThanks, Ian St James Awards

An Editor’s Magic Touch

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It’s little wonder many writers thank their editors in forewords, dedications and acknowledgements. As I’ve found writing book reviews for Writing NSW, editors have a magic touch when it comes to reviewing a writer’s work and suggestings edits. Whether there “aren’t many edits” or there are “structural” problems with the writing! Continue ReadingAn Editor’s Magic Touch

Do You Reread Books?

Penguin Books Australia on Facebook

In a Facebook post last year Penguin Books Australia asked, Do You Reread Books?  And if so, What book have you reread the most? I’ve kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, it becomes a favourite and is added to my bookcase to read again … one day! However, there are three books I have reread, at least once. Continue ReadingDo You Reread Books?

The Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

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As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening, and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers (though unlike some of my precocious school friends, I can’t claim to have read beyond the headlines). Continue ReadingThe Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

Writing First Sentences

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To help overcome writer’s block and make a start on writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Continue ReadingWriting First Sentences

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

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In May of 1992, the local literary news in Australia was all about Tim Winton and his novel, Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years old and I was thirty. He’d grown up in Western Australia and so had I. He’d just won his second Miles Franklin Award and I was about to have a second crack at being a writer!  Continue ReadingCloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

Queens Park Dog Walkers

One day in 2001, I saw Amy the yellow lab in Queens Park with her owner, “The bloke with a beard”. He told me that ‘John had died’ and ‘Amy was missing him’. It took a few moments to realise he was talking about one of my fellow dog walkers, “The old bloke who walked Amy the lab for his neighbour”. Continue ReadingQueens Park Dog Walkers

English Pubs and Last Orders

I loved pubs when I lived in England in 1980s & ’90s! Unlike Australian pubs of the day (which thankfully have improved since then!), the English pubs I frequented were social meeting places, for men & women, not just somewhere for blokes to get plastered & start fights (though those pubs did exist!). Continue ReadingEnglish Pubs and Last Orders

32 Years of Diaries

In a loft cupboard at home is a cardboard box containing all the daily diaries and travel journals I’ve kept since I set off backpacking from Australia in 1987. The travel journals are typically student exercise books, with each day’s sights and highlights recorded over two or more pages. By their nature, daily diaries of work and everyday life are less exciting than travel journals and it took me many years to settle on a format which gave me room to jot down the day’s main events without feeling like it was a chore to do so. Continue Reading32 Years of Diaries

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

As the idiom says, you should never judge a book by its cover (though this book’s cover with the dog would catch my eye in a bookshop). But I’ve found the first sentence to be a fair judge of whether or not I’ll enjoy a novel:  “I could smell him – or rather the booze on his breath – before he even opened the door, but my sense of smell is pretty good, probably better than yours.” Continue ReadingDog On It by Spencer Quinn