An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coming to a library or bar near you

And so I emerge, Legion of Fans (LOF), blinking in the unaccustomed glare of daylight, achingly straightening my back and flexing my tired fingers after the penultimate round of edits on my manuscript for the impressively-titled, 'Book 6'. One more run-through and that will be it.

Mrs Blog, Mother Blog and Mother-in-Law blog have all read it and given it the thumbs up, but the true test comes in a week or two when my incredibly talented, well-read, brainy, charming publisher, C, who happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to the young (alive) Grace Kelly returns from important business abroad and gets to read it.

This is always a time of mixed emotions for me, LOF - delicate, sensitive soul that I am. It's quite a nice sense of achievement to get to a stage in a manuscript where it's ready to be submitted (ie: to get rid of the bloody thing for a while); but it also marks the onset of long periods of nervousness, self-doubt, minor-league depression and bouts of moody introspection.

These somewhat dark emotions also usually coincide with my return to the land of the living and a resumption of my day job. My day job is writing stuff other than novels, for anyone who will pay me. Not having a major creative endeavour on the boil (ie an excuse not to do proper work) means that I have to get back to getting up early, putting on clothes, shaving, brushing my teeth and generally acting like a civilised human being.

But not this year.

No, LOF, I am hitting the hustings, pounding the pavements, riding the rails and clocking up those frequent flyer points for the next month or so on the inaugural Mr Blog SILENT PREDATOR promotional tour.

This brings more nerves and self doubt, though of a different kind to the symptoms I will inevitably suffer while I wait for attractive, witty, single C to deliver her verdict on Book 6 (don't you just love the catchy African title?).

Don't think I'm nervous about public speaking - far from it. I, LOF, could talk underwater about my favourite subjects (Africa, writing, me...). What remains slightly worrying, of course, is whether anyone will show up to listen to me.

If you're reading this and debating whether or not to attend your local library on a darkened night in the middle of winter to hear a virtual-unknown talk about Africa and himself let me say just two things to land you (since your are now wriggling on my virtual hook if you've got this far)...

1. Free booze, and

2. Luxury five-star all-expenses paid safari holiday to South Africa.

It's been my (limited) experience so far that talks by authors at libraries (even obscure writers like me) tend to be accompanied by free wine and nibblies. Budget a bit stressed this week? Buckling under the pressure of interest rate rises and ridiculous fuel prices? Well, get down to your local biblioteque and LOAD UP.

Re the luxury holiday - here's a tip for (cheapskate) young players. To enter the competition being run in conjunction with the Australian release of SILENT PREDATOR you need to read my book, but you don't, technically have to buy it. OK, skinflints, I would prefer you bought it, but if you borrow it from your local library you can still enter the competition.

I like libraries - particularly those that give me free alcohol and cheese and biscuits. The other reason I like them - and even you cheapster library junkies out there - is that the Australian Federal Government pays writers a royalty based on the estimated number of people who have borrowed their books. I won't say it's enough to retire on, but it's not to be sneezed at.

So, whether you're a battler or a silvertail (poor or rich for the foreigners among us), I hope to see you down at your local library or bookstore.

Remember, I have an African family that I sponsor (that's my Land Rover mechanic's family, by the way, who rely on me as their principal source of income) and I have a wife who would like to be the pampered, idle, bejewelled wife of a rich novellist. So, I need your attendance and I need you to get out your cash, plastic and library card.

Coming events...

To get the ball rolling if you live in Victoria you may wish to come and say hi to me at Wodonga Library at 11am on Tuesday, June 3. For residents of southern New South Wales you might prefer to report to Albury Library at 5.30pm on the same day.

Rest assured LOF that there are many more events on the horizon. (These are the only two I can remember off the top of my head as I don't have the full itinerary in front of me. I will post more once I get my act together. As a teaser, I will be in and around Melbourne and Brisbane from June 16-20 and in West Australia the following week. More to come.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BIG NEWS AT LAST! NEW WEBSITE, NEW BOOK!

Here it is, Legion of Fans (LOF)... at last we bring some actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness news to the blog. A new book AND a new-look website, which you can access by clicking right here
The new book, SILENT PREDATOR is officially due for release on June 1 but you may just be able to find it in selected book stores already. You can read all about it on the new-look website (did I mention the website has been revamped?).
BUT WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL....
If you buy (or borrow from your local library) a copy of SILENT PREDATOR (I know, we are going CRAZY with capitals in this post) YOU CAN WIN A LUXURY SAFARI FOR TWO TO SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So get over to that website, head down to that book store and start reading and clicking and WINNING!!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vítáme Vás...



...which means, according to Mr Google's translation, "welcome" in Czech. So a big warm Vitame Vas to all you readers of the recently released Czech language edition of the book formerly known at FAR HORIZON (or Vzdleny Horizont, as we say in Czech).

It's a nice surprise receiving a foreign translation of one of my books. To see an old yarn reborn with a new cover and (often) a new name is always exciting. It's also interesting to see how different people in different lands interpret the same story, via the cover.




Full marks go to my very good friends at TEA, my Italian publishers, for their design of the cover for Sotto il Cielo dell' Africa, (above) which means "Under an African Sky" (originally called African Sky). Is Italian the language of romance or what? Is this not a beautiful cover?

Stefano, the publisher at TEA, is a great guy who keeps me up to date with how things are going in Italy. He says they're in the process of deciding which book to release next and he's already said he's keen to read the soon-to-be-released SILENT PREDATOR. Is it any wonder, Legion of Fans (LOF) that Italy is one of my most favourite non-African countries in the world?

And speaking of SILENT PREDATOR, LOF, the release is imminent - as is your chance to scam some free wine and nibblies at a library near you, and your chance to win the HUMUNGOUSLY ENORMOUS LUXURY SAFARI FOR TWO TO AFRICA!!!!! (more details soon, so stay blogged).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Chick lit or hairy chest? You be the judge


Warning: This entire post is an elaborate subterfuge to cover what is essentially a piece of shameless self-promotion (like the rest of this blog) aimed at highlighting the fact that my fourth book, SAFARI is now available in the small handbag-friendly A-format paperback size (RRP AUD$19.95 available at all good booksellers)

“You’re writing chick books,” a mate of mine said to me in the latter stages of a boozy lunch at Circular Quay recently.

“Am not,” I burped.

“Are too.”

And so it went on for a while, like that, until I asked my friend, Jimbob, to explain his remark.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like the books, but they’re essentially chick books.”

“Please explain further.” I was more than a little intrigued.

“Well, let me put it this way… (burp). None of your lead male characters would ever kill a dog, would they?”

I sat back in my chair and took another long sip of beer, savouring what was turning out to be one of those classic half-drunk pub debates. Interesting way to define whether a particular book, if not genre, is aimed principally at one half of the population, don’t you think? But it got me thinking.

Jimbob’s premise was that a woman (or chick in the case of this discussion) would not read a book in which the hero was prone to, say, kicking or shooting dogs. Therefore, by a process of elimination, he had determined that a book that featured animal cruelty (though certainly he was not condoning this, as he owns a cute little dog called Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi) would be a ‘boy’ book.

A couple of my characters in past books – all of them villains – have hunted big cats, though to the best of my recollection none has ever killed or even injured a dog.

“Your books have happy endings and strong lead female characters,” Jimbob continued.

Hmm. Maybe he had something.

My incredibly attractive, witty, well-read publisher, C, who looks like Grace Kelly (when Grace was alive and young) has informed me in the past that the majority of people who buy my books are women. This could be because the majority of all books are bought by women (which, I believe, is a fact) but until my recent lunch I was still labouring under the misapprehension that these women were buying my books in the main for husbands, brothers, fathers, boyfriends etc.

Then I got to thinking some more (it was a very long lunch)…

I estimate that about 70 per cent of the people who email me after reading one of my books are women. Does this mean that 70 per cent of my readers are female, or just that chicks are more likely to email strange (as in unknown, not weird) male authors than men? I relayed this observation to Jimbob.

“There you go,” he said, downing another expensive beer (he was paying, on his corporate card). “Seventy per cent. Chick lit.”

My fourth book, SAFARI, has just been released in A-format paperback, which is the little handbag-friendly size, as opposed to the big clunky trade paperback first release.

“Aha!” said Jimbob. “And who buys those little books?”

I nodded, resignedly. “Chicks.”

“Bet you sell a lot of them.”

More nodding. “Especially at the airport. All those chicks reading on the planes while their husbands watch Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice on the in-flight movie, but with the volume turned down so you don’t need to listen to the Jane Austen crap,” I said.

“OH? So you do that too?” Jimbob said.

I nodded.

“That’s it, my friend,” said Jimbob, who can sound a bit like George Costanza at times. “Chick books.”

I was described in a newspaper review once as a new entrant to the “hairy-chested-Africa-with-elephants” genre. Didn’t sound too girly too me, but what do reviewers know?

I was wondering who, then, were these men who were writing about dead dogs. Then last week, I picked up a book by Deon Meyer, a South African writer whose work I really like.

Imagine my surprise when about 20 pages into the book a lead character viciously kicks a German Shepherd (and its owner) in their respective faces. I was shocked, Legion of Fans (LOF)! Had I discovered, I wondered, a boy book?

The character responsible for the kicking was shaping up as a good guy up until that point, but then I started to wonder. Deon (and I do love your work), I wonder if you know that you have set yourself up for a big test here? If the man who kicks the dog is, indeed, a good guy (though I suspect he is not) then you are writing boy books. If not, according to the Jimbob index, then you, too, are writing chick books.

In late breaking news (I’m writing this post over two days), two relatives and one friend have called to say that the A-Format (chick edition) of SAFARI is featured in the Big W chainstore’s Mother’s Day catalogue here in Australia.

Interesting, because last year the big (presumably man-sized) paperback was in the father’s day catalogue.

I hope, of course, that all this means that I am actually writing books for the entire population, and not just 50 per cent of it.

Thank you, C (my witty, attractive publisher), for editing out all those dog-killing and Lesbian scenes from my early drafts. No doubt the women of Australia, Africa and Europe thank you, as well.

So, happy Mother’s Day to all you mums (or moms if you’re in South Africa) who get a copy of SAFARI on Sunday. You’ll find it contains medium level violence, coarse language, sex scenes, lots of gunplay, but absolutely no dog killing.

(note: no dogs were harmed or killed in the early drafts of any of my books – that was a joke. However, I cannot say the same thing about Lesbian scenes.)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Eat at Zebra's and save a wild dog


Attentive readers will recall that the African Wild Dog - or the Painted Dog as it is more politely known - is one of my favourite animals.


They sniff bums, drag aforementioned behinds on the ground, wee on Land Rover tyres, grin lopsidedly and sillily, and have a 90 per cent-plus success rate in bringing down prey. All in all an excellent animal to view in the wild.


However, on a very serious note, the wild/painted dog is Africa's most endangered mammal.


The Painted Dog Conservation (Inc) people in Perth, WA, are dedicated to the survival of this very cool predator and it is my very great pleasure to be involved in a fundraising event on June 24, 2008, to help raise some money for this very worthy cause.


I'll be in Perth at the time to launch/spruik my next book, SILENT PREDATOR and I urge you all, LOF, to come along to the Painted Dog event and support this worthy cause and eat good African food and consume find African beer and wine.


I will be talking about my recent travels in Africa and I promise not to talk (too much) about Land Rover clutch plates.


So, here are the details:


What? Painted Dog Fundraising function/shameless Tony Park self-promotion (for a good cause, though)

Where? Zebra's African Steakhouse - a legendary venue. 1 Point Walter Road, Bicton, WA

When? June 24, 7pm

How much? $60 for a three-course meal. Bargain, or what?


If you're up for it, contact Angela at lemonj@ozemail.com.au


Warning: There will be a good deal more promotion of this event and other engagements in the weeks to come.

OMG, more news that you can poke a stick at

From nothing to report, to too much to include in one post.

Where to start, LOF? I have no idea and it's too late at night to even start trying.

I'll throw in a few highlights to wet your communal appetite.

- Almost finished a workable draft of Book 6
- Been on a cargo ship to Lord Howe Island (note to African readers - small sub-tropical island off the coast of Australia famous for its former Miss Australia and palm seeds) in the name of research
- Finishing touches being put on a four-state, two-country book tour for release of book 5, SILENT PREDATOR. Readers in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, WA and NEW ZEALAND brace yourself for the Mr Blog Roadshow.
- SAFARI now available in A-format (little, handbag size paperback)
- DETAILS OF MEGA HUGE COMPETITION IN WHICH TWO LUCKY READERS CAN WIN A SERIOUSLY HUGE LUXURY SAFARI HOLIDAY TO AFRICA IMMINENT
- Mr Blog rubs shoulders with diplomats, expats, and the Canberra elite at recent South African Freedom Day celebration

You must bear with me Legion of Fans (LOF) as all four of you have a good chance of winning the luxury holiday and/or sharing free wine with me at one of dozens of library tours around Australia.

Phew.