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Thursday, August 30, 2018

An Evening With... At Ford Street Publishing

Ford Street Publishing does these occasionally. They aren't too expensive and you get wine, soft drink and nibbles as well as listening to children's and YA writers. It's very much like the Booktalkers sessions which used to be held at the State Library of Victoria's Centre for Youth Literature. Those were great, but they were cancelled a few years ago, as being too expensive. A pity, but if you live in Melbourne, these sessions are worth attending, especially if you miss Booktalkers.

Last night's guest speakers were George Ivanoff, an old friend of mine through SF fandom, who is one of the few people I know making a living out of writing in this country, and Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood,  the three wonderful authors of Take Three Girls, which has just won this year's CBCA Award for Older Readers. Here is my interview with Simmone Howell about this book. I've met all three of them at one conference or book launch or another.

George speaks!

George spoke first, saying he had decided to do things differently this time, as it was for adults, not the kids he usually speaks to. He went through an entire history of his writing career(one which I know fairly well, having been friends with him). George is a jobbing writer who will have a go at whatever type of writing he is offered, so can make a living from it. Many of his 100-odd books are for the education industry, but he has been doing trade books as well in recent years. I'd like to add that it's George I have to thank for helping me get my current gig with Pearson!

George talked about his very popular "You Choose" books(basically, Choose Your Own Adventure, which he loved as a child) and read a snippet from one, inviting audience members to choose the direction they went. Of course, it ended abruptly, something I've noticed in the four "You Choose "books I've read! He showed how he plots them out on a whiteboard. I have to say, this kind of book is not easy to write. One of our teachers had a go at creating Choose Your Own Adventure books with her Year 7 class and admitted the experiment was a failure. George deserves the popularity!

Cath, Fiona and Simmone spoke about how they wrote their award-winning book. Not much I didn't know, because of having interviewed Simmone, but some things I hadn't known, such as how long it took, because of their other writing commitments. They pitched their idea to the publisher they all shared, then spent six years working on it! I'm thinking of the lovely Anna Ciddor, who spent about that much time on her short children's novel The Family With Two Front Doors, which was about her grandmother's family in 1920s Poland. The difference was that she didn't have a go-ahead from any publisher, she just did it because it was important to her, and then had several rejections till Allen and Unwin took it. 

Simmone(left), Cath and Fiona speak!

At one point, they asked if there were any secondary teachers in the audience and I was the only one to put up my hand(surprising, because a number of people bought multiple copies afterwards - perhaps they were only librarians, not teacher librarians). I didn't think any of them would see me, because where I was sitting, I couldn't see them(I had to stand up to take the above photo), but Fiona said, "Oh! It's Sue!"

After the talk, people were buying books from the small Ford Street stand, which also had some books by the guests published by others. I had already bought two of the Ford Street titles, and am looking forward to reading them. One was the Ford Street reprint of Isobelle Carmody's Alyzon Whitestar, the other was Time Catcher, a book by Cherie Peters, who was there. I had already read books by all four guests, long ago, so didn't stick around for the signing, but went out into the other room, where I nibbled and drank and chatted with people I knew, and some I didn't know. I spotted a man with an Irish accent talking to some people and realised he was the amazing artist Marc McBride, who has done quite a few Ford Street book covers, as well as some covers for anthologies I've been in.

Poet Jackie Hosking, who runs the Pass It On author newsletter, was there and said hi.  I chatted with a guy who had come all the way from Sydney for a writing mentorship and this session was part of the deal. There was a lady who told me she writes historical fiction for Pegasus publishers, and we got chatting about research.

I saw Emily Gale, an author I follow on Twitter, who apparently lives nearby and had been wondering what went on at Ford Street. I discovered she's British! Never knew this, but the accent was unmistakable.

Cath,  Fiona and Simmone had to leave fairly soon after they had finished their signing, but Fiona and Simmone stopped for a chat with me on their way out(Cath had to get to Avoca by a certain time). We talked shop. Simmone told me, to my surprise, that she had never received royalties. It must be something to do with the advance, which I suspect is larger than mine, but I haven't had much in the way of royalties since the GST came in and book prices went up, not even when every last copy of a 6000 copy run sold out(most of the books were sold through Scholastic Book Club, for which authors are paid peanuts). 

A little while later, George told me he was ready to go, so we went out to his car and he dropped me at home, as it was on his way. 

A very enjoyable evening!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - it does sound like it was a lovely evening ... and what fun to know so many people there. Great many of them bought books too ... lovely post - thank you - Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Hilary! Yes, the book sales went very well. I saw people lining up as I went out into the other room. I was tempted to buy Take Three Girls, which I don’t have any more - I donated my print copy to the school library and the publisher only sent me a “library” ebook for the interview, which disappeared after 60 days, much to my annoyance. (Next time, they will send me a print copy!)But the queue was long and all the copies sold out. I’ll buy the ebook again. The writing community here is small, as is the school library community you’re likely to meet at these events, so we know each other,

Glad you enjoyed the post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - sorry I'm not good at putting links in to the #WATWB ... We Are The World Blogfest - here is the link ...

Most of those commenting on mine - will have the links ... usually I fail there!! Sorry!!

I hope you join - that'll be excellent ... it's the last Friday of the month or weekend - so no worries if you want to chime in this month - even as an introduction ..

Take care and thanks for your comment - Hilary

AJ Blythe said...

Sounds like it was a really fun time. I found your comment about one of the few you know making a living in Oz from writing. You need to mix with romance writers. I know heaps who are making their living that way.

Sue Bursztynski said...

A friend of mine in England used to make a living from writing Mills and Boon, she complained and complained about them so I asked her why she kept doing it. “Because,” she said,”eventually, it pays.” Then she told me what she got paid for one of her books... I haven’t made as much in my entire writing career as she made from each Mills and Boon title! Not a skill of mine, alas! And children’s writers have to do other things to survive, even those who aren’t working at day jobs - workshops, school visits, etc. SF and fantasy writers usually can’t make a living from it either unless they sell overseas.

AJ Blythe said...

Not a skill of mine either, sadly.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Pardon me for stopping by to share a little info about the call for Cybils judges with you and your readers....

Are you a reader who loves children's and young adult books? This call is for you. We need some wonderful book bloggers who are interested in reading a lot of children's or young adult books, reviewing them, and choosing the best of the best for the 2018 Cybils Awards.

We’d love it if you could pass on the word. Applications are open through September 9th.

Apply today!

Take care,
Deb Nance
Cybils Fiction Picture Book and Board Book Chair

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Nance! This sounds good, though right now I personally have enough of a TBR pile of my own, not to mention my own writing. Next time, though, email me about this sort of thing and I’ll give it a proper plug.