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Posts Tagged ‘novels about Brisbane’

I saw this photo some years ago. The caption underneath read: George was 22 when he started writing his novel. The implication was that he was still writing it. I could relate to that. I was still writing Those Brisbane Romantics fifty years later. On and off, admittedly, but still writing it. I wrote the 1st draft in 1963-5. In 1967, this was placed 2nd to published author Hugh Atkinson’s manuscript The Rabbit. In those days, Australia had no Vogel Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under thirty-five.

(Bear with me, WordPress changed its formatting when my back was turned and, despite many attempts, I have NO IDEA how to get the text to run beside the photo. I tried. I tried ….)

To resume: in 1969, Brian Clouston of The Jacaranda Press offered me publication of the work, then in the 3rd person, if I cut it to 100,000 words (about one-third of its horrifying length). At that time, I had no idea how to do this. Life took me up. The savings from my first job were gone. I put the novel away and crawled up the steps of the State Library. They gave me a job in the John Oxley, the historical section. Later, I moved to the Department of Primary Industries. While working as a cataloguer for the second, I met Queensland poet Michael Sariban. Two children later, my hands, and my life, were full.

I resumed writing in 1990, very much behind the eight ball. By now, I was a single parent. I hunted competitions and high-paying mags the way lions once hunted springboks on the veldt, and was lucky to win a number of awards for my short stories, and/or have them appear in such wildly different publications as Penthouse and the Australian Women’s Weekly. I never aimed for the literary mags (big mistake as it turned out). Lit mags didn’t pay well, and the family needed the money.

Around 1993, I decided to resuscitate the novel. I edited Romantics to 115,000 words, mostly by condensing dialogue. Still needing lucre, I put it away and wrote Found: One Lover with Louise Forster, which won the Emma Darcy Award for Romance Manuscript of the Year 2000.

In 2005, Susan Geason https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Geason suggested I rewrite Romantics in the 1st person point-of-view. It took me some time to figure out how to do this. Eventually I succeeded in producing a manuscript of 108,000 words written from the 1st person POV as a fictional memoir. Susan took one look at it and said, “Nice try. But it’s not going to work.”

I went away and wrote the feel-good animal fantasy MagnifiCat, which was picked up by Sydney agent Rose Creswell. When she retired with the manuscript unplaced, in 2013, I put M’Cat up as an e and POD book on the web: https://books2read/u/3n8k6K It was at this point I discovered that publishing your book on the web is an appallingly dreadful experience. (The Amazon algorithm had a ball with the title MagnifiCat. All my Also Boughts were religious. 😊

A tiger for punishment, I then put my short stories together in a linked short collection entitled Dropping Out: a tree-change novel in stories, and put that on the web. I was still licking my wounds when it was shortlisted for the Woollahra Digital Literary Award in 2016: https://goo.gl/FtL0zz

Then I went back to Romantics.

With Susan holding my hand long distance through four more drafts, finally, at the end of 2017, I had a 98,300 word draft written in the 3rd person. Then, in 2018, I moved to Brisbane. This set me back two years.

When I recovered, I returned to the novel. (This is beginning to sound like “The Bricklayer’s Accident Report” by Gerard Hoffnung.) At the proof stage, I took out three more scenes, (you shouldn’t do this), and the finished work is now around 95,000 words.

It’s a very young book; everyone in the novel is under twenty-five and single. Technically, it’s an upper-end YA novel, which is how it came to grief. Traditional publishers held up crucifixes when they saw this marketing nightmare coming, even though, by this point in the saga, the manuscript had been shortlisted nationally for the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival and internationally for the University of Exeter’s Impress Prize.

Such is life, as Ned Kelly is claimed by some to have said.

Because of delays with the US cover designer, Romantics won’t see the light of day until early November. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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