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Monthly Archives

June 2019

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June 2019 Newsletter

By | Newsletter, Newsletters

Live Readings

 

microphone

New time, new space

Cash Prizes – $50, $100

We are thrilled to present our monthly live readings from July to November

at Newcastle Art Gallery

Join us July 2nd from 3pm

share your stories, poems, songs, scripts in response to James Drinkwater’s exhibition 

the sea calls me by name

 

HWC Workshops

July

Speculative Fiction Writing with Marianne de Pierres

Saturday 6th July, Wickham

de Pierres - author

Self Publishing – an online course
Nigel George is offering a half-price special to all HWC members for his new self-publishing course.
Visit the Indie Publishing Machine course page, select the Australian Version, and enter the code HWCJULY50 at the checkout to save yourself nearly $100.
You’d better hurry though – the discount is only available until the end of July!
 

person's hand holding an iphone showing rows of books

HWC Blog

Susan Francis , blogger, member of HWC

 

Thank you to our members who have blogged for us through March, April and May.

Read the following Literary topics

Speculative Fiction
- Our Spec Fic writers
Australian Literature 
- Susan Francis
Writing History 
- Christine Bramble
Crime Fiction 
- Megan Buxton

Graham Davidson, author

Christine Bramble - staff member and blogger

HWC Member News

 

HWC Member – Gail Hennessy

Gail’s book ‘The M Word’ is published by Girls on Key Press. It is available from the Poetry Portal Bookshop  

The M Word’ is a book of poetry that recalls my experience of postnatal psychosis and recovery. It was written to help break down the stigma associated with mental illness and provide hope for recovery.  It is available through the Poetry Portal of Girls on Key along with ‘Written on Water’.- Hennessy

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The M Word - memoir by Gail Hennessy

 

HWC Member and Board Chair – Adrienne Lindsay

Adrienne Lindsay is the chair of Hunter Writers Centre. She has recently launched her business Cloudberry Writing

She provides fundraising advice, editing services and professional writing services.

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Adrienne Lindsay, chair of HWC

 

HWC & Board Member, Wendy Haynes

Wendy was a founding member of Port Writers Inc. as both Treasurer and President. She is a copywriter and her website outlines the various services and advice she offers

Wendy Haynes - HWC Board member

Heart Open

Hunter Writers Centre funds the artists of Heart Open – literature, dance, fashion, art

The Heart Open Event 2019 at the Hunter Innovation Festival was a great success

Writing Opportunities and Events

 

HWC Facebook Groups

Exclusive facebook writing groups:

Hunter Writers Centre – celebrating literature in the Hunter

The Story Hunters – our Spec Fic writers keeping in touch between meet ups

HWC Poets – where our poetry groups gather online

HWC Writing Groups

Attendance is free as part of your HWC Membership

Newcastle, Belmont, Teralba and more…

See the whole list in the Members Area

Applications Open for KSP’s 2020 Residency Program

The KSP Writers’ Centre in the beautiful Perth Hills region of Western Australia is calling for Australian and international writers to apply to its 2020 residency program. The program offers paid annual positions to Established, Emerging and Next Gen (under 25 years) writers. The residencies include a two-week block to develop a manuscript at the inspiring KSP property, which is the former home of notable Australian author, Katharine Susannah Prichard.

In addition to the salary and space to write, writers receive a welcome platter to share with co-resident writers, transport assistance, breakfast supplies, networking opportunities, promotion, CV credit, complimentary writing group sessions and access to a thriving literary community, library services, mentoring, social events, and heritage walking trails. As part of the residency, writers are asked to present a workshop on a topic of their specialty and perform readings at a literary dinner hosted in their honour. Deadlines are 30 June, 28 July, 25 August for the various categories. Visit the KSP website for eligibility, selection criteria and more details about the program: https://www.kspwriterscentre.com/residency-program

2019 Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program

CBCA NSW Branch is pleased to announce that entries are open for the 2019 Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program (AWMP), sponsored by Scholastic Australia. The aim of this national award is to foster the talent of an unpublished author of children’s literature.  In 2019 the AWMP is open to picture book and junior fiction manuscripts. The Winner of the AWMP will receive the Charlotte Waring Barton Award and a mentorship with Scholastic Australia, to include two three-hour mentoring sessions with an author selected by Scholastic Australia, and a one-hour mentoring session with each of the following Scholastic Australia employees: an editor, a marketing communications manager and a publisher.

Entries close on Wednesday 31 July 2019.

Authors whose careers have been launched by this award include the best-selling/award winning Michelle Cooper, Kirsty Eager, Jacqueline Harvey and Oliver Phommavanh

drawing of a house for crime writing blog post

Dark and Loving It – Crime Writing Part 3

By | Crime Fiction, News

Home Sweet Home . . . or is it?

Crime Writing with Megan Buxton

 

Carly scrambled from bed, stumbling and snatching at the darkness, caught between fight and flight.

Where? Where was he?

Listening, straining for sounds, she heard the thump of her heart, the dry gasp of her breath. No taps, no knocks, no bumps.

That didn’t mean a fucking thing.

Her mobile was in her hand. She didn’t remember picking it up. It took three tries to dial the numbers. She wanted to shout, managed to pull it down to a hiss. ‘There’s someone in my apartment.

So begins Darkest Place, Jaye Ford’s chilling novel of suspense. Week after week, in the dead of night, Carly wakes to find a man standing by her bed, silently watching her. And no-one believes her.

It is concepts like these that make domestic noir so very scary. When I read detective stories I enjoy them in the knowledge that I’m safe in my own home. Domestic noir rips that comfort away – in this offshoot of crime fiction the home is no longer the safest place to be. The troubles with which the female protagonists – and they most often are females – find themselves afflicted, take place primarily in the home or the workplace. Those familiar places become, for the protagonists, dark and alien. Marriages and families become untrustworthy; relationships are corrupted by lies, lives ruined. The normality of the settings – suburban homes, offices, schools – heightens the tension.

And, unlike murder mysteries, the victim of the horrors taking place is alive though her life is very much under threat. Readers get very close to the protagonist. We are allowed under her skin as she battles to untangle the lies and deceits around her and we are made to realise the fundamental unknowability of the others in our lives. These stories, often told in first person by an unreliable narrator even make us question how well we know ourselves and what we might do when pushed to the limit.

Just about everybody has heard of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel, Gone Girl even if they haven’t read it or seen the movie. While it was the novel that began the explosion of domestic noir it wasn’t the first – beginning in the 1940’s writers like Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson and Mary Higgins-Clark wrote stories of the dark underside of the domestic scene.

It’s no surprise that the majority of authors of this genre are women – or that the few men who do write use their initials ( S.J Watson, Before I Go to Sleep) or a female pen-name ( J.P Delaney,  The Girl Before, is really Tony Strong.)

It seems to me that the rise of domestic noir coincides with the rise of such movements as #Metoo, that their popularity (Paula Hawkins’ Girl on a Train sold over 11 million copies and made the author $10 million in the first eighteen months) is because they so often deal with the issues that women discuss in real life; exploitation, abuse, both physical and psychological, lies, secrets, cover-ups. The prevalence of unreliable narrators, often with amnesia (S.J Watson, Before I Go to Sleep,) or a head wound that affects their ability to recall (Ruth Ware’s  In a Dark  Dark Wood) or even a narrator in a coma (Alice Feeney’s  Sometimes I Lie) echo the real- life frustrations of women who are told that their accounts of their own experiences are unreliable.

Crime fiction, in all its manifestations, is deliciously dark and I love reading it. But I also love the darkness of the horror genre – the subject of my last entry.

Megan Buxton is a writer, retired English teacher and an avid reader of crime fiction. She is also the president of HWC board and hosts a creative writing gathering once a month at Maitland.

Do you have a topic you would like to blog about? Write to us at info@hunterwriterscentre.org (this paid writing opportunity is open to HWC members only)

Megan Buxton, board member HWC
female lying on oversized book for women and crime article

Dark and Loving It – Crime Writing Part 2

By | Crime Fiction, News

Women and Crime

Crime Writing with Megan Buxton

Crime, mystery and thriller are the most popular genres in Australia – a large percentage of book sales come from this category and I’ve made a substantial contribution to that statistic. There’s an ever-increasing TBR pile on my bedside table and I have to confess that most of it is crime fiction of one sort or another. For a tragic like me there is almost too much choice in bookshops and libraries but I’ve found, over the course of many years of reading crime fiction, that many of my favourite authors of this genre are Australian.

Australian men are well-represented on my pile. Barry Maitland has long been one of my favourite authors; in particular, his latest series, The Belltree Trilogy, much of it set locally, is a riveting read. Garry Disher, Adrian McKinty, Robert Gott, and Peter Temple are all Australian writers who are masters at keeping the reader on the edge of the seat.

Lately, however, I’ve found that the stories I’ve loved reading have been by women. I’m not alone there – Sophie Gilbert, writing in The Atlantic in 2017 says that 80% of a new female author’s readership is likely to be female. Why are women writers so appealing to me? What makes them such outstanding writers of crime fiction?

It could be that women understand the concept of fear in our very cores – we grow up with the threat of being a victim ever-present in our lives.  And, it has been suggested, women are more attuned to thinking about people’s motivations, that they have greater insight. I’m not sure I agree with that – the male authors I read show just as much understanding of human nature and the things that motivate someone to take a life.

Whatever the reason, there can be no denying that women have always been in the forefront of crime writing – think of Agatha Christie, P.D James, Ruth Rendell and Elizabeth George. There isn’t space here to list them all.

In my case, not only have the authors I’ve loved been women – many of them have been Australian. Australian women have long excelled at exploring the dark side of society.

The very first mystery novel in Australia was Force and Fraud: A Tale of the Bush written by Ellen Davitt in 1865 (Australia’s crime writing award for women, the Davitt Award is named in her honour). Mary Fortune followed with her series The Detectives Album (1868-1909). It was an Australian woman, Charlotte Jay, Beat Not the Bones, who won the very first Edgar award in 1954.

It was Marele Day’s 1988 novel The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender that gave me my first taste of how well Australian women do crime. Since then I have enjoyed the historical crime fiction of Kerry Green wood’s Phryne Fisher series and Sulari Gentil’s suave Rowland Sinclair. Pam Newton (Beams Falling, The Old School) Yvette Erskine and Karen Davis’s police procedurals have kept me enthralled as well.

Holly Throsby (Goodwood,  Cedar Valley), Sarah Bailey (The Dark Lake, Into the Night) and Jane Harper(The Dry and Force of Nature) , Emily Maguire( An Isolated incident) and Candice Fox (Eden, Hades, Crimson Lake) are dark mysteries that grip the reader from the opening page – from opening lines, like these.

Caleb was still holding him when the paramedics arrived. Stupid to have called an ambulance – Gary was dead. Couldn’t breathe with his throat slit open like that. (Emma Viskic, Resurrection Bay.)

Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things. One: No-one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell. And two: Alice had a mean streak so sharp it could cut you. (Jane Harper, Force of Nature.)

As soon as the stranger set the bundle on the floor, Hades could tell it was the body of a child. It was curled on its side and wrapped in a worn blue sheet secured with duct tape around the neck, waist and knees. One tiny, pearl-coloured foot poked out from the hem, limp on his sticky linoleum. (Candice Fox, Hades.)

I feel as though I should apologise to all the wonderful crime writers, Australian and others, whose names I haven’t mentioned. They are all worth reading. If you haven’t read crime fiction you should Be Warned: it is addictive – especially the recent trend in novels of domestic mayhem which I’ll discuss next time.

Megan Buxton is a writer, retired English teacher and an avid reader of crime fiction. She is also the president of HWC board and hosts a creative writing gathering once a month at Maitland.

Do you have a topic you would like to blog about? Write to us at info@hunterwriterscentre.org (this paid writing opportunity is open to HWC members only)

Megan Buxton, board member HWC
hand against a window - crime fiction image

Dark and Loving It – Crime Writing Part 1

By | Crime Fiction, News

Dark and Loving it

Crime Writing with Megan Buxton

 

hand against a window - crime fiction image

I love a good murder.

Don’t be alarmed. I’ve never actually killed anyone; nor am I likely to (though my partner might debate that). I am also, I hope, unlikely to be the victim of a violent crime. But, according to the experts, one of the reasons I (and millions of others) read crime fiction is that it allows us the experience of this darker side of life from the comfort and safety of our armchairs. We can have the adrenaline rush, the edge-of-the-seat tension and suspense, the race to beat the ticking clock – and then put the book down and go on with our comfortable lives.

While I might never be a victim there is always that possibility. As I read there’s a small voice, way down deep, that says, ‘This could be you’. I know, when I’m reading fantasy or speculative fiction, that I will never encounter a goblin or pass through a portal to another world, but I could, on some dark, unfortunate night, encounter someone who means me harm. Perhaps reading crime fiction allows me to compare myself to the victim; I can tell myself that they are very different to me, that I wouldn’t ever do what they have done or go where they went, and reassure myself that it wouldn’t happen to me.

Or, perhaps I want to know what it’s like to be a killer – what it’s like to live with the darkness.

Tana French, one of my favourite crime writers, said, I write about murder because it’s one of the great mysteries of the human heart. How can one human being deliberately take away another’s life?

Perhaps, when we read crime fiction, we’re searching for an answer to that same question. It’s often been said that crime fiction provides us with a sense that order and justice are attainable when, so often in real life, the opposite seems true.

Lee Child says, It gratifies (the) desire for safety, security and the rule of law.

One of the joys of reading crime fiction comes from the interactive nature of the genre. Every crime fiction story is a puzzle and, like most readers of crime fiction I love the challenge of putting the pieces together, trying to interpret the ‘clues’, to work out what is misdirection or ‘red herring’ and unearth the perpetrator. I may not get it right – in fact it’s better if I don’t, if I have the rug pulled out from under me by a surprising but perfectly logical twist – but there is a satisfying intellectual element to reading a good crime fiction novel.

Critics of crime fiction (usually those who haven’t read any) claim that it is shallow, that it doesn’t offer the reader the depth of literary fiction. I’ll leave it to Michael Robotham (another of my very favourite writers) to refute that claim: A great literary novel can change your life and resonate through the ages. A great crime novel can shine a light upon the best and worst of human nature and into the darkest corners of society.

And, finally, good crime fiction (and, yes, there is a lot of bad crime fiction out there) is a great ‘read. It’s fast- paced, full of tension and suspense and peopled by characters who won’t let me put the book down till I find out their fate.

So crime fiction has, I think, a lot to offer me as a reader. I have a long list of ‘favourite’ authors and, increasingly, I’m finding that many of them are women – and Australians – and that is the subject of my next entry.

Megan Buxton is a writer, retired English teacher and an avid reader of crime fiction. She is also the president of HWC board and hosts a creative writing gathering once a month at Maitland.

Do you have a topic you would like to blog about? Write to us at info@hunterwriterscentre.org (this paid writing opportunity is open to HWC members only)

Megan Buxton, board member HWC