Heavy Mental

Hey there, web surfers (remember when that was a thing? What a bunch of dorks we all were. Or maybe just me.)

If you haven’t noticed, World Mental Health Day has been a thing this week. I don’t know exactly what day it is/was because I am on holidays and I don’t know what day it is in general. But it’s sometime around now. Anyway, bumbling aside, I did an interview with the Centre for Public Christianity about my mental health thing, my past life as an awkward teenager, the way pretend play set me up for becoming an author, and Jesus going on a fishing trip.

You may notice that I sound a bit doubtful when talking about Jesus and his fishing trip, this is because Anxiety was whispering in my ear ‘You’re getting this wrong. You’re always getting things wrong. You really should shut up’ despite the fact that I know the story very well. That’s the kind of crap Anxiety does. Thanks, Anxiety – ya nong.

You can listen to the podcast here. You can also download it and stuff

Cx

Your Book Week Costume Sorted

It’s that time of the year folks: time to wrangle some crepe paper, sticky tape and random things you put at the back of the cupboard thinking ‘I’ll use that for Book Week’ five years ago and forgot about. Sure, your kids might be at uni now, but what student doesn’t want to add a bit of colour to their tutorial and really make a bold statement about how much they love Australian children’s literature? If you’re looking for some inspiration – and lets face it, there’s only so many times you can send your kid in a panda onesie claiming that Kung Fu Panda is actually adapted from a book – look no further, because I have your costume sorted. Why not go with a One Would Think the Deep theme? There’s not even any need to dress your kid up as the Leviathan, you can simply pop them into this tidy costume design conceived by One Would Think the Deep‘s cover designer Astred Cherry.

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Happy Book Week everyone, it’s the only week that matters. And if you’re interested, I still have some slots available for Book Week school visits, just click on ‘School Visits’ at the top of the page. I might even wear my costume.

About

My latest novel, One Would Think the Deep (UQP) was awarded the 2017 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers, was shortlisted for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Readers, the 2016 Queensland Literary Award – Young Adult Literature, and the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The Protected  (UQP) won the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for young adult fiction, the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year (older readers), the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Award for young adult literature and has been shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award.

My first novel The Sky So Heavy (UQP) was published in 2013. It was awarded Honour Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and shortlisted for both the Gold Inky and the Aurealis Award (Young Adult).

 

I am foremost a writer of young adult fiction, but you don’t have to be a young adult to read my stuff; you could be a middle-aged uncle, or a nanna, or thirtyish professional water-skier with a passion for hot housed orchids.

I am available for school visits and festivals again!

IMG-0584Hey! I am available for school visits and festivals again! If you’d like to book for a school visit contact The Children’s Bookshop Speakers Agency on (02) 9481 8811 OR Booked Out (03) 9824 0177. If you are a festival organiser please contact my publisher, University of Queensland Press. PLEASE DON’T CONTACT ME DIRECTLY, I am terrible at organising things!

‘One Would Think the Deep’ to be published in the UK!

Here’s some thrilling news for your Wednesday: (Okay, probably more thrilling for me than you. Still.) If you couldn’t tell from the title of this blog, One Would Think the Deep is to be published in the UK by Ransom Publishing in August. August! That’s really soon in the publishing world and I know the people at Ransom have been staying up and working through the night for weeks to ensure its speedy delivery to UK readers. (This may be an exaggeration. I don’t know. I just imagine them working all night because they are very excited about the book.) You can read their write-up about One Would Think the Deep on their blog here.

If you are in the UK go and preorder it now, for goodness sake. You’ll bloody love it.

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2017 White Ravens

I’m absolutely thrilled that One Would Think the Deep has been included in the 2017 White Ravens catalogue. As explained in the catalogue:

The White Ravens catalogue is the most important annual publication of the International Youth Library. It aims to promote quality in children’s book publishing and has become increasingly useful tool for anyone interested in looking beyond national borders. This year, the White Ravens contain a selection of 200 notable children’s and young adult books from 56 countries published in 38 languages.

The other featured Australian titles are Somewhere Else by Gus Gordon, Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall, and The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard.

More information can be found at http://www.ijb.de/home.html

Prime Minister’s Literary Award!

IMG_20171119_095730_001Hey there readers, I am utterly thrilled to announce that One Would Think the Deep has been shortlisted for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Lit Award for Young Adult Fiction! The awards are announced at 10am, Friday 1st of December at Parliament House. Hopefully there will be scones. A huge congrats must go to my fellow shortlistees – it’s quite a formidable list and I am honoured to be in the company of such quality writers. Claire x

I’m very behind in this, BUT look! It’s the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year!

Screenshot_2017-11-23-10-08-16If you have wandered around this site a little, you might have come across a post from almost exactly a year ago which explains how I came to be hospitalised for some pretty darn serious mental health issues. The good news is that I’m doing a whole lot better and hopefully I will be able to resume school visits and festival appearances. I’m writing again and also working on another super exciting (and slightly terrifying) non-YA project due for publication late next year. Things are however, still a little up and down and I know I have been erratic when it comes to posting here. Anyway, in case you missed it, One Would Think the Deep was awarded the 2017 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year for Older Readers, way back in August. It was and still is this surreal, oddly shaped thing that I’m having trouble filing appropriately in my head after such a tumultuous and frankly traumatic year. But there you go. Cx

Little J & Big Cuz is the most important show on television

Kids are obsessive creatures. At the moment my five year-old is hooked on the ABC animation Little J & Big Cuz. If you don’t spend a lot of your time overhearing children’s television programs, let me explain: Little J & Big Cuz follows the adventures of the title characters, aged five and nine, in their outback community. Little J & Big Cuz live with Nana and Old Dog (who has caused debate amongst my kids as to whether he is actually talking out loud or the audience just happens to be privy to his musings). As described by its creators: ‘Little J and Big Cuz are busy with the ups and downs of playground and classroom. There’s always something surprising going on, whether it’s at school, in the backyard or beyond… With the help on Nanna and Ms Chen, Little J and Big Cuz are finding out all about culture, community and country.’  It is the first Australian animation aimed at an Indigenous audience with almost exclusively Indigenous characters. It was created by Indigenous director Tony Thorne and written by Indigenous writers from across the country. The cast features celebrated actors such as Deborah Mailman and Miranda Tapsell. actf_news_little_j_big_cuz_premiere

While the show may be aimed at a young Indigenous audience, it has picked up a significant number of non-Indigenous viewers like my son, who was introduced to it at preschool, where there has been a strong focus on Indigenous culture and history recently. For example, the kids recently experienced an Aboriginal smoking ceremony and now begin each day with an acknowledgement of country. My son doesn’t view Little J & Big Cuz as a show about Aboriginal people. He views it as a show about people. He doesn’t seem to have a partition between white and black cultures, instead he relates strongly to the character of Little J because they are both five and interact with the world the way five year-olds do. The show is important foremost because it gives Indigenous kids the opportunity to see themselves reflected in story, something intrinsically valuable to all children and young people, but its impact on non-Indigenous kids cannot be overstated.

Storytelling is vital to human experience because it gives the gift of empathy. It allows audiences to view the world through the eyes of someone else. It breaks down the barriers between ‘us and them’, barriers which cause unending amounts of suffering throughout the world and all human existence. It demolishes modes of dehuminisation.

While watching Little J & Big Cuz I cannot help but contrast my son’s childhood interaction and experience of Indigenous culture and history with my own. I, like many of us, was a kid in a time before welcome to country statements were introduced in a significant and widespread way. My first earliest memory of learning about Aboriginal culture is a lesson in year two about why there is an Aboriginal man on the two dollar coin, I don’t remember anything after that until year six when an Indigenous elder visited, showed us how to throw a boomerang and played the didgeridoo. He spoke about how men were allowed to play, but not women. Most of the student chatter afterwards was about how sexist he was.

Australian history was taught through the lens of white experience: Captain Cook founded our country, the ‘first settlers’ were a bunch of white blokes who arrived in boats and carried guns. In year eight  there was a brief module in history class about the suffering inflicted on the Indigenous population by the early settlers. It was an awkward, stilted chapter in our history textbook. (Fortunately it was my art teacher who gave the most powerful and vital insight into Indigenous history and experience. She did it through artworks, most significantly Gordon Bennet’s Outsider.)

By contrast, my son is taught about the impact of white settlement on Sorry Day, he is given the opportunity to be immersed in Indigenous stories and culture, he can recite the story of how birds got their colours whenever we see a rainbow lorikeet. He does not view Indigenous people as victims, instead he is educated in their history beyond the genocide which was suffered at the hands of white man. He sees Little J as like himself: a five year-old boy who likes adventures. He knows Little J’s life is a bit different to his own, but these differences bring curiosity rather than animosity in a way which can only be achieved through that most vital part of human experience: story.

The work in healing the wounds inflicted upon Indigenous people by white man is not done and probably never will be, but stories like that of Little J and Big Cuz are a vital ingredient to the process.

Little J & Big Cuz can be found on ABC2 and iView. More information can be found at https://www.littlejandbigcuz.com.au/

Thank You

Hey people,

I just wanted to thank you all for the amazing response I received after I wrote my previous blog post. The messages of support – including many from the amazing community of YA writers – have been overwhelming in a really really good way.

I’m currently doing okay. It’s up and down and the road to recovery isn’t quite as short as I would like it to be, but I am blessed with a beautiful, supportive family and amazing friends. At the moment I am focusing on my recovery so I’m a bit quiet on the social media front. I’m writing when I can, but I’ve found the most helpful thing for me at the moment is drawing and painting. Some of you may be aware I’m working on a picture book; it’s about octopuses, because they are frigging amazing and peculiar creatures. If you follow me on Instagram at claire_zorn you can catch the occasional glimpse of my work.

Claire x