A Wrinkle in Time at Bundaberg

A Wrinkle in Time 1Bundabergians wrinkled in style when they gathered at BRAG (our local regional arts gallery) on Wednesday night to discover how multimedia developer & artist Neil Jenkins created an online-based installation that paid homage to Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 children’s sci fi classic, A Wrinkle in Time.A Wrinkle in Time

The gallery was transformed into a cosy lounge room and the fascinating Mr Jenkins told how he was inspired by early computers at a young age, which has ultimately led to a lifetime working with them, in both commercial and art spheres. Mr Jenkins’ installation is on display in BRAG’s The Vault and features text from the novel, captured against a dark and stormy background.

I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a young 12-year-old and, although I had forgotten the characters, I’d never forgotten this book’s magic, including Mrs Whosit’s endearing voice and the many concepts (at the top of the list: Tesseract wormholes and the fascinating new dimension of time) it embedded in my mind.

Cheryse Durrant, Neil Jenkins and Kallee BuchananLEFT: Here I am with artist Neil Jenkins and my old friend Kallee Buchanan (right) on the night. I wore a witch’s hat to pay tribute to one of the book’s characters, Mrs Which (Yes, that’s how her name is spelt!).

A Wrinkle in Time was the first of the Literary Notions series, spearheaded by exhibitions officer Trudie Leigo, which brings together some of Australia’s premiere contemporary installation artists, inspired by literature. In conjunction with the series, Bundy residents are able to read the associated work of literature that inspired each artist’s installation.

Upcoming Literary Notions events, running on a Wednesday night from 5.30pm unliterary notionstil 7pm,  include:

  • March 5: The Day of the Triffids & Alison McDonald
  • May 14: Long  Long Way & Fintan Magee
  • June 25: When The Rain Stops Falling & Hossein Valamanesh
  • August 20: Confessions of  Zeno & William Kentridge
  • October 20: Brothers Grimm fairytale (TBC) & Simone Eisler

For more information or to get involved, visit the Bundaberg Regional Arts Gallery (BRAG) in Barolin Street or telephone 4130 4750.

You can find out more about Mr Jenkins’ artwork HERE.

De Pierres’ riveting stories Burn Bright

Shine LightENTER the dark, intoxicating world of Ixion and Marianne de Pierres’ Night Creatures trilogy will horrify and enchant at every shocking turn. There’s a magic to MDP’s work, whether it’s her evocative YA fantasies, her fast-paced Tara Sharp crime series or her Parrish Plessis spec-fic adventures. I was ecstatic to learn she’ll be speaking at the Bundaberg Regional Library on May 17 and Bundaberg WriteFest on May 19 and couldn’t wait to pepper her with questions…

Cheryse: What inspired you to write the Night Creatures trilogy?

Marianne: Night Creatures was the intersection of a number of ideas and experiences: my life at boarding school, my interest in nocturnal lifestyles, my fascination with architecture and attraction to the gothic sub culture. These things coincided and became a story. It’s funny how writers do that; like potters at a wheel, re-shaping clay.

C: Have you always been fascinated by the dark and when did you start writing?

M: Yes, the dark distorts, scares and masks things. There is so much room for imagination. I began writing at the age of eight or nine – an Enid Blyton rip off, in fact. After that it was just bits and pieces for a long while; poetry and always adventure stories. I love adventures and used to inhabit the persona of my favourite characters in books and TV for a long time after I’d done with the text. When I was done with writing Aussie outback adventures, I moved on to space adventures.

C: Please share your fav authors and TV shows, and what inspired you when you were young?Marianne de Pierres

M: Books that inspired me when I was young were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also read a TON of boarding school books and horse books. Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby series ranks among my all-time favourites. Current fav authors: I’m having a bit of a crime binge at the moment and am loving Tana French, Michael Connelly (still!) and Stuart MacBride (tho’ his last one was odd). Fav TV series (I could really go on here – I love my TV!): Saving Grace, Scott and Bailey, The Closer, True Blood, Leverage, Spooks, The Wire, Burn Notice, BattleStar Galactica, Farscape, Firefly. OK I’ll stop there ….

C: Were you a bookworm or a party girl when you were younger? Do you have a fav band?

M: Bookworm always! Managed to be a party girl as well, tho’ later, when I hit my twenties. Fav band? Hmmm, hard one. More recently I’ve really embraced hip hop and The Hilltop Hoods are one of my current faves. But I’ve loved everyone from U2 through to Regurgitator and then artists solo like Seal.

C: Does writing YA fantasy alongside your crime or sci fi novels strengthen your writing?

M: I think it keeps me fresh and challenged. I hate getting stuck in a groove. Meeting my writing goals in each genre is about respecting and understanding the genre itself. I read as much as I can – that is the key, I believe. I work mornings from 8am -1pm, then it’s back to being a mum!

C: Seriously, are you an Edward, Jacob, Damon or Stefan-type girl? Or would you prefer Lenior or Markes?

M: Lenoir any day of the week! The man has style and secrets. Irresistible.Angel Arias

C: Are you a Retra, Naif, Ruzalia or Suki?

M: All of them, I think, at least in part. Or they have been part of me at some stage.

C: How well have Angel Arias and Burn Bright been received in Australia?

M: The YA readers in Australia have been amazing – I love them for their enthusiasm and willingness to share their love for books. They’ve embraced the fact that the series is only available here so far and are trying hard to share it with readers all over the world through their own giveaways and blog tours. I’m so glad I started writing YA or I would never have met some of these marvellous young people.

C: Yunya’s music is amazing. How did you connect?

M: Actually, through friends at Supanova Pop Expo a few years ago. After I watched her song trailer for Lenore’s Song, I fell in love with her work. I love Yunyu as a person too, she has a great sense of humour and a brilliantly twisted mind (in a good way). I was delighted to get a chance to work with her. We had fun!

C: Do you have a trailer for Shine Light (the third book in the Night Creatures trilogy) yet?

M: I’m not sure there will be one but I’m hoping there will be a song because I love Yunyu’s work so much. I think Shine Light will be released in November 2012, but I haven’t had a final word on that yet

C: Finally, congratulations on your recent Ditmar nomination! Did you expect it?

M: Dark Space was nominated for a Ditmar a few years ago which was lovely, but this nomination for Burn Bright really took me by surprise because it’s a teen novel on a shortlist amongst adult fiction nominees, I’m really thrilled that it inspired some votes.

C: What will you be talking about at your free Author Talk at the Bundaberg Library?Stage Fright

M: It will be a general chat about my journey as a writer and I’ll be offering tips for anyone embarking on the same path. I hope I can save some emerging writers some heartache.

C: Have you visited Bundaberg before?

M: On holidays when my kids were little – camping at Bargara. It’s the first time I really understood the significance of cane farming to Queensland (being a native West Aussie). Bundy is cool.

Marianne’s visit to Bundaberg was made possible thanks to the support of the Bundaberg Regional Library and the Queensland Writers Centre. Find out more about her free Bundaberg Library talk here or register for WriteFest here.

Character Magic Cusack-style – With a Seachange

It’s impDestiny of the Light coverossible to constrain the magic of Louise Cusack to her stirring fantasy novels, and I should know – I’ve been under her spell for 14 years. I was a young, passionate journalist when I heard Louise speak at my first writers conference back in ’98 and this was the advice she shared:

  • Writer’s instinct will stop you sending off many a lame story
  • The only way to publication standard is lots of practice – practice makes perfect
  • Follow your heart – don’t be trapped by rules
  • Most women like a wicked hero, but not a callous one
  • Let the characters tell you when they want to do something

So I was delighted when this award-winning author left the big smoke for our region’s golden beaches, just in time for the relaunch of her Shadow Through Time fantasy romance trilogy (through Pan Macmillan’s Momentum).

A renowned Queensland writing tutor/mentor and manuscript assessor, Louise is presenting the MasterClass, run in conjunction with this year’s WriteFest. If you have a manuscript you’re working on and want to take it to the next level, this workshop is for you. Louise rules supreme when it comes to creating character and character emotions. I was keen to know what inspired her Shadow series characters and this is what a cup of cyber coffee revealed…

Cheryse: How did rural/regional Queensland inspire your Shadow Through Time characters?

Louise: Some important characters from this series lived in little country towns. Being a city girl, I needed to experience the differences in country-born folk – and see them in action so I knew how they related to my character.  During one research trip, I visited a family-run funeral home outside Ispwich, to gather background info on my character Sarah McGuire who finds the Guardian Pagan when he comes through the portal from Ennae, surfacing in a billabong in her lawn cemetery.

Daughter of the Dark coverC: I love Sarah – and her whipper-snipper!

L: Readers say they find her very real, probably because she’s based partly on a real person. The funeral home was run by the mother. I’d expected formaldehyde bottles, bodies under sheets and echoing lily-lined chapels, so it was a surprise to find a modern set-up with freezer facilities for the bodies, stainless steel everywhere in the prep rooms and carnations in a carpeted chapel. The matriarch led me around and answered my questions, her no-nonsense manner already helping me imagine what she must have been like twenty years’ earlier, when she was Sarah’s age. There was a quiet integrity that impressed me, particularly when she told me her staff were instructed to imagine a member of the deceased’s family was looking over their shoulder while they prepped the bodies, so they would never be disrespectful. Later, when I was writing book two of my Shadow Through Time trilogy and Sarah was trying to decide whether or not to hide an alien (albeit gorgeous) young man and his infant charge, she does what she knows to be right. No nonsense. No drama. They need her help to survive.

C: Do you still love writing about Aussie characters?

L: I’ve just finished book one of a new series where the main character comes from outback Queensland but travels to a lost world discovered and conquered by Renaissance Italians. Dan’s a young shearer studying Engineering at UQ before being pulled into Florentia and embroiled in the Medici Court’s political intrigues when he tries to protect the young ambassador he’s fallen in love with.

There’s something about characters from country Australia that I find romantic. They have a toughness about them, an inner strength, but also a sentimentality that would surprise a lot of city dwellers I suspect! So it’s lovely to now be living around the sort of people who have inspired so many beloved characters for me. I’m looking forward to soaking up more of thGlimmer In The Maelstrom covereir fortitude and generosity of spirit while I’m here, and especially looking forward to being able to write more books!

C: Why did you make the seachange to a small beach outside Bundaberg?

L: I’ve always wanted to live by the ocean so last year I made the move and my productivity doubled. Part of that was leaving behind all the writing-related commitments in Brisbane (there’s always something you feel you should attend), and part was leaving my family behind. I’ve been racking up quite a phone bill and commuting to Brisbane regularly to keep in touch with the people who are important to me, but overall the move has been incredibly positive.

C: What do you love about the Bundaberg region?

L: Being near the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef is amazing. My tiny town is surrounded by fields of sugarcane, sweet potato, melons and strawberries that are always growing, being harvested or ploughed which means I never have the same drive through it twice. Even my afternoon ambles along the esplandes are different depending on the tide time, the wind, the cloud cover. So much of Brisbane was the same day after day. I find the constantly-changing environment is really stimulating my creativity. As a fantasy author that’s gold.

Initially I thought I’d miss the ‘culture’ of Brisbane but I’ve attended art gallery openings, art house movies and musical theatre up here, so I’m not feeling deprived in the slightest. My little beach is very tranquil, Bundaberg itself is a very relaxed town, and the arts community is an inclusive one. I haven’t been made to feel like an outsider, which is lovely.

C: What’s your best advice for writers?Louise at Bundaberg Dymocks

L: Just write. Talking about writing is fine, but you have to write heaps to improve your skills if you want to become published. Eighty percent of the work of creating published novels is in the editing so it’s important to learn that art – and also get professional feedback on your work. I know from my own development as a writer how important it was for me to work with published authors to make that leap across the line from unpublished to contract. As a teacher/mentor I’ve been thrilled to see four books I’ve worked on go through to become published, and see many more writers win competitions and fellowships, so I take a lot of pleasure from helping others realise their dreams. There’s a lot more tips at my writer’s blog, http://ifyoumustwrite.com.

Submissions to Louise’s MasterClass at Bundaberg, From character to plot: creating page-turning novels from the characters up, close this Friday, April 20. Visit www.bundywriters.com for submission guidelines.

Louise’s website, http://louisecusack.wordpress.com, is chock-full of advice for both published and aspiring authors and has just been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Award so check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Oh, and make sure you download her trilogy set at the same time. If you haven’t met the gorgeous guardian Talis yet, it’s time you did!