An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Join the pride!

It's out! Yes, my first non-fiction book, in which I've co-written the biography of South African Lion man Kevin Richardson is hitting the shelves as we speak.

Above is the Australian cover of Kevin's book, "Part of the Pride - My Life Among Africa's Big Cats" and below is a video in which Kevin talks about the book and teaches me a thing or two about shameless self-promotion. Enjoy!



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Someone else vil ask zee qvestions

I love it when someone interviews me. It allows me to direct you to new and interesting websites and it makes it look like I'm contributing to my blog, without actually having to do anything.

So, if you can be bothered reading more about me and my life, or if you just want to check out two really cool websites, you can find my thoughts on all matters writerly at the Writers' Resource Centre, and my thoughts on living your dream (well, my dream) on travel writer Annabel Candy's funky blog here.

Just had a great night at Lane Cove Library (my local) with a fun crowd who asked lots of questions. Thanks, Karen, for having me over again, and to the good people from Moirs Bookshop in Lane Cove.

Come see the three amigos at North Sydney

Can't think of what to buy dad for father's day? If you live or work in the North Sydney area (or if you don't but would like a free chocolate) then I urge you to come and meet me, along with two excellent Aussie authors Grant Hyde and David Rollins this Friday, August 28.

Grant, David and I will be hounding unsuspecting commuters and bribing them into buying our books from 8am to 9.30am on Friday, outside Dymocks in the Mount Street pedestrian mall.

Free chocolates and bookmarks will be on offer and for a gold coin donation to charity you can even have your father's day present gift wrapped.

Grant's first book is LORDS OF THE PACIFIC, a ripper yarn set in the olden days on the high seas, while David reveals his version of what happened to Korean Airlines Flight 007 in his latest spy-action blockbuster THE ZERO OPTION.

Myself, I will be spruiking IVORY.

Oh, yes, and winner of the caption competition, as judged by Alex the Pirate the Wench (who does not know about family connections on the blog) is.... Ali G. I have no idea which of his 17 captions she liked best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Urgent: The Rhinos need YOU!

Achtung, Achtung, Sydney-based readers... We interrupt the normal drivel to bring you something worthy...

The good people at the SAVE Foundation (NSW) still have some vacancies for their annual black tie ball and fundraiser, which will be held at the Hunters Hill Sailing Club on Saturday September 5 from 7pm.

I will be speaking and there will be an auction of various goodies to raise money for the repopulation of Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve with rhinos from South Africa.

I'll also be auctioning off a character name or two in my next book.

There are still tickets available and I urge you, neigh, beseech you to support this exceptionally worthy cause. Cost is $90 per head, but that includes dinner, plus South African beers and wines, a donation to a good cause, dancing, and, of course, me. I will be selling signed books on the night and all profits go to SAVE.

You MUST join me at this event and you MUST email theafricanqueen@bigpond.com immediately to book and pay for your tickets.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A brief pause

I have a few days leave from the round (bits of) Australia tour promoting my new book IVORY, Legion of Fans (LOF) so thought I would check in and update you all on the progress so far.

My, my. I'd forgotten how much y'all love the free stuff. I think it's going to take Alex the Pirate Wench (my assistant publicist) about a week to read through and decipher all those comments on the last post. She is a principled young lady of a conservative and proper disposition, so don't expect extra points for fart jokes and other smut (although I was impressed by these).

Had me a fine 'ol time in the golden west (Australia) and attended some excellent functions. At least I think they were excellent. I was rating them according to the scale of my hangover and numbers of books sold, and in this respect the Painted Dog Conservation Inc cocktail party at the Hyatt in Perth deserves an honourable mention. (Though I love every single function I attend and every person who attends.... especially the ones who buy books).

As with the dinner I attended last year for the highly efficient and exceedingly nice John and Ange, who run this worthy charity, we auctioned off two character names in my next book to raise money for the stinky but loveable painted doggies. And my oh my, did we get a couple of top names for next year's book. You'll just have to wait until next year to find out who they are.

I can reveal that the auction of character names netted about half the total amount raised on the night, so thank you very much to all who bid. We also sold out of books (and took orders for many more) and I was so hungover the next morning I could barely speak.

However, cowboy-up I did, and speak I did at a simply beautiful shop called Raw By Nature at Guildford, Perth. Owner Leanne persuaded me to come and talk and sign books and, lured by the promise of a Bloody Mary in the pub across from the shop afterwards, I did plenty of both. If you live in Perth or visit there, make sure you check out both the shop and the pub. I managed to stay vertical, until making it to Perth Airport, where I collapsed into a comfy chair with a beer.

I don't want you to think I spend all my time on tour drinking, but this past weekend was proof that book signings and alcohol definitely do mix.

First up, on Friday night, it was my (serious) honour and pleasure to join with teachers, parents and students from John Paul College in Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid north coast to help them raise money for a school they support in Kawalazi village in Malawi.

All jokes aside, I was touched by the kindness and generosity of these people and the work they're doing to support kids and teachers with virtually nothing but a will to learn. (Also, they put the booze on after the function - in moderation and for adults only, of course). Doing good and drinkng red. I loved it. All profits from books sold on the night went to the Kawalazi school.

More good causes and a seriously irresponsible consumption of alcohol were the order of the next day, Saturday, when I addressed a gathering at the Maclean Services club at the invitation of my good mate and fellow Pan Macmillan writer, Peter Watt. Peter and I raffled off sets of our books and raised a tidy sum for the Maclean Hosptial auxilliary committee.

Where better to hold an event for writers and readers than a club with a deck overlooking the sun-flecked Clarence River in northern NSW, complete with gratis wine and a bar serving happy hour schooners for $3.60 a pop? I just about moved there on the spot.

Pete and the club have put together a couple of "Meet the Author" tallks so far and have earned the small but perfectly formed town of Maclean the richly deserved title of Literary Capital of the Lower Clarence, according to their local paper.

By the way, LOF, if you like my books then I INSIST that you go out and buy all of Peter Watt's books. They are ripping yarns and, besides, if you start reading them you can stop hassling me about writing more books.

Back home, and back to work now, as I have just received the first edits on my next book which is called..... Book 7. So, I'm busy again with no excuse for faffing.

Winner of the caption competition to be announced soon...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Yes We Can.... win a free book

The IVORY tour around (limited parts of) Australia is progressing well, thank you very much. I'm currently in Perth, WA, where I've met many exceptionally nice people. Some of them have even heard of me.

Here's a picture of me pontificating to the 254-strong crowd (this figure is offical) the other night at the Marion Cultural Centre in South Australia.

To celebrate the success (if I do say so myself) of the tour so far I am declaring a snap caption competition.

Come up with a caption for the above picture and post it in a comment. There's a free signed copy of ZAMBEZI in it for the winner. Competition closes Thursday, August 13, 6pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Newsflash... cheap books and Frank Coates

And now we bring you some late breaking news, which will be of interest to Trin (and probably no one else).

I spoke to Aussie author Frank Coates the other day. Frank also writes books set in Africa (though his are about east Africa rather than southern Africa). Frank is going on a P&O cruise (like I did recently) to talk at the on-board book club, and contacted me to have a chat about shipboard life.

He was a thoroughly nice chap and it was good to chat on the phone (for about an hour) to another Africa addict.

And on the subject of book prices and two-for-one deals, Trin, I would direct you to a certain chain of discount stores with a bold red and white circular logo where you can buy a copy of IVORY with a free copy of ZAMBEZI thrown in for a ridiculously good price.

That is all.

Elvis has entered the cultural centre



Day three of the round-Australia tour (except for Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory and ACT) dawns LOF and I am reposing in Adelaide international airport, reflecting on and recovering from drinking a good deal of heavily sedimented beer.

On Monday night I spoke at my biggest ever writerly gig - at the Marion Cultural Centre in the Adelaide suburb of Marion. I felt like my boyhood hero, Elvis Presley must have felt just before going on stage (except I didn't have any deep fried peanut butter sandwiches or barbiturates).

More than 200 people.

I sh*t you not, Legion of Fans (LOF). 200 plus.

Of course this speaks for more to the organising ability of Jenny from the Marion Cultural Centre and her strong support from the local community than it does to the pulling power of little old me (well, tall old me), but all the same I was flabbergasted when I was called on stage - from the Green Room (yes, the Green room) and saw all those people there.

Actually, I couldn't really see all the people, because there were lights - yes, lights - on the stage shining up on me.

If I'd had a hat it wouldn't have fit me anymore. I don't mind public speaking - quite like it as a matter of fact - but a good crowd for me is about 30 or 30, and my former personal best was about 100. 200. I am still shaking my head.

Perhaps they misread the invitation. "I'm Australia's Wilbur Smith, not the Wilbur," I told the assembled masses.

Even taking into account the presence of my friend Colonel G and his lovely wife, C, and my two beautiful baby cousins who I hadn't seen for some 32 years (and who are no longer babies, but have babies of their own), this was not my usual gathering of ring-ins and relatives.

And lots of people bought books!

South Australia, how could I have neglected you for all these years?

In other news of little consequence to anyone else but myself, I spoke to a capacity crowd at St Ives Library to kick off the tour (not 200, but still a full room). Again, this excellent turnout was due to the indefatigable efforts of Penny the local librarian who always goes to great lengths to decorate her room in an African theme. She also serves a mean scone.

What else...?

I met Redcap, a regular poster on this blog, in Adleaide. Redcap is a journo and book reviewer (just the sort of reader a chap like me needs) and she does, in fact, have a cap of red hair. Over a Coopers Pale Ale or three Redcap interviewed me for a forthcoming magazine feature while I devoured the best pie I have ever had in my life - Duck and Rabbit - at Adelaide's Exeter Hotel in Rundle Street.

Last night I had dinner with the Colonel and Mrs Colonel, and D, a fellow Africa addict who was one of the first people to ever email me after my first book, FAR HORIZON was published. Had an excellent African-themed meal of Cape Malay Curry and too much excellent South Australian red wine.

Of course, while I've been having a fine time in South Australia I have also been bombareded with emails and thinly veiled threats about my lack of appearances in Victoria and Tasmania.

Off to Perth, West(ern) Australia today for more functions, more drinking and more interviews. No doubt the Victorians and Tasmanians will not be amused.

And they call this working?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I-Day

Yes, Leigon of Fans (LOF), as all four of you may know, today (August 1) marks the official release of my sixth novel, IVORY. I know several of you eager beavers have already been down to your local Big W and bought a copy - and for that I thank you.

Not only is IVORY out in print, but it's also being released today as an audio book by my very good friends at Bolinda.

If you're housebound or one of our overseas legionnaires (or if you just can't tear yourself away from my blog for more than a few minutes) you might like to check out Aussie online bookseller Booktopia.com.au which is selling signed copies of IVORY over the 'net. I went to their offices and signed about a million books (just kidding - a sizeable number, but not that many) last week.

If you click on the cover picture of IVORY on the Booktopia site you'll also find your way to a short audio interview in which I talk about the book. It's like a mini version of one of my podcasts, minus the school boy humour.

Mrs Blog and I hosted the launch of IVORY for family and friends on Thursday night in the St James Hotel in Sydney. All I can say about that is that it is now Saturday afternoon and I am still feeling a touch seedy. I think a good night was had by all, but by the end of it I was too drunk to care anyway.

Mrs Blog and I crept into stately Park Towers (where we live) sometime after 2am and made as much noise as only drunk people who are trying to be quiet can. Mother Blog and Ali G (yes, they are an item) were trying to sleep in the spare room, having sensibly pulled stumps much earlier in the evening.

I bravely fronted for the first talk of my IVORY promotional tour at St Ives Library at 11am on Friday morning and, fortified by tea and scones, managed to mutter a few words without passing out.

I'm off on the road bright and early Monday morning, flying first to South Australia and Western Australia. I'll keep you posted on my travels, as I can't think of anything else worth writing.

If you buy a copy of IVORY I hope you enjoy it. And if you don't, remember that if you can't say something nice about someone then...