Talking to Tom Keneally

A couple of weeks ago I went to Sydney, partly to do a talk about From the Wreck at the Thomas Keneally Centre. The Centre, at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, is a wonderful little retreat from the lunacy of the Sydney CBD, and they’re perfectly happy for you to pop in and browse Tom’s library, or just hang out quietly on the couches. They also host regular lunchtime talks with authors. If the line for a slice of Black Star strawberry watermelon cake is just too long at Kinokuniya Books, maybe go hang out at the TKC instead?

Tom was in residence on the day I visited. He’s so great! If you run into him at an event or the shops or whatever, have a chat with him. He’s a really good bloke. His daughter and fellow-novelist Meg was also there, and she’s great too! She teaches SCUBA and she has seen lots of octopuses and we talked a lot about octopuses.

Anyway, their volunteer video bloke, Phil, thought it would be a good idea if Tom interviewed me on camera for a few minutes after my talk. He asked me the best questions. Here it is:

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August & September appearances

I’m doing a few appearances in NSW and the NSW-enclave of Canberra, as well as in Melbourne, over the next month or so.

  • Canberra Writers Festival – Saturday 26 August You’ll never guess who I’m appearing with at Canberra Writers Festival… James Bradley and I will be talking with Dr Martha Sear, Head Curator at the National Museum, about writing in the age of humans. “Human beings are changing our environment on a global scale. How can writing help us imagine, and influence, our impact on the future?” Book tickets here.
  • Melbourne Writers Festival – Saturday 2 September Sally Abbott and I will be chatting about awful imaginary Australia, in this session on dystopian fiction. It’s free, and there’s more info here.

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  • Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney – Tuesday 26 September I’ll be doing a lunchtime session about From the Wreck, “an engaging talk about writing family history, and why speculative fiction might be the best way to tell a factual story”. It’s free, but they would like you to book.
  • Newtown Library – Tuesday 26 September Newtown Library, the City of Sydney and Better Read than Dead bookshop are running a series of panels on current issues called ‘Speak your mind’. I’ll be chairing this panel on climate change, featuring shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler, and novellists Harriet McKnight and Daniel Findlay. Tickets are free and you can get one here.

From the Wreck in the papers

What a big weekend my small book had over Easter, with reviews in the Fairfax papers (SMH/Age/Canberra Times) and the Weekend Australian.

Adam Rivett at Fairfax said “[the limits of genre] make Jane Rawson’s new novel all the more striking – two paths are likewise drawn, yet the fences that might divide them do not hold. Instead, the paths meld and melt, producing something truly unique and disquieting.” You can read the whole thing here.

Ed Wright at the Australian said “In less capable hands these narrative facts would accumulate to preposterousness and tempt the reader to abandon the ship of the book. Rawson, however, has the rare talent of stretching our capacity to believe, while at the same time making us feel genuinely for the characters.” You can read this review here.

And this past weekend the Adelaide Advertiser also ran a review, which my South Australian uncle was kind enough to scan and send to me. Katharine England talks about “the magical delicacy of Rawson’s concept, the lightness of the writing, the resonant humanity and gentle humour”; the whole review is here..