• Wild Colonial Girl

  • A blog for lovers. Of reading and writing. With a dash of pop culture.

  • Wild Colonial Girl Blog
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    About Me
    Bendigo Writers' Festival: girls, grief, guts
    Author interviews + guest blogs
    For good, not profit: Kirsten Alexander, editor, Open Field magazine
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    Writing Mothers: Annabel Smith
    Shyness is nice: the beauty of inarticulation
    Pushing your own cart: marketing, social media and author platforms

Bendigo Writers’ Festival: girls, grief, guts

Kirsten Krauth + Jenny Valentish, Radio National's Life Matters, Bendigo Writers Festival

On the radio oh oh The Bendigo Writers’ Festival kicked off with ABC Radio National’s live broadcast from the Banquet Room in the Capital theatre. Fellow Castlemaine writer, editor and troublemaker Jenny Valentish joined me to talk with Natasha Mitchell (Life Matters), Michael Cathcart (Books and Arts Daily) and Fiona Parker (ABC Central Victoria) about girls growing up too fast and what it’s like to be a regional writer. Both of us have ended up in Castlemaine via circuitous routes but she wins — Jenny’s from Slough, UK. (I vaguely remember The Office being set in Slough. Great claim to fame there.) Our novels Cherry Bomb and just_a_girl are quite eerie in their shared sensibility: teen girls moving through the world with irony, detachment and the desire for sexual conquest. You can listen to…

For good, not profit: Kirsten Alexander, editor, Open Field magazine

Issue 3 of Open Field is out now

I first came across Open Field magazine when I was browsing through literary apps on iTunes, looking for inspiration. A philanthropic exercise, the magazine is digital-only, sources articles and art from world-renowned authors and artists, and all funds from downloads go to charity. I spoke to editor Kirsten Alexander about starting a digital magazine. What gave you the inspiration to put together Open Field magazine? This is a shameful story, but the truth isn’t always flattering. In September 2010, The New Yorker released a tablet version of their magazine using Adobe software. That was a big deal. Wired magazine had released their tablet version in May 2010, but it was a tricked-up and complex object, one that required an interest not only in the content but…

Shyness is nice: the beauty of inarticulation

Shy is the first book by Sian Prior

At the recent Sydney Writers’ Festival, David Marr did a wonderfully incisive interview with Christos Tsiolkas, author of Dead Europe, The Slap and, most recently, Barracuda. Throughout the session, in response to Marr’s questions, Tsiolkas took many minutes to speak, occasionally with his head in his hands as if trying to squeeze out the answers. The loud silence filled the room. But when he finally was able to seize the words, his ideas were rich in detail, nuanced, worth waiting for. Marr quipped that ‘he writes loudly and speaks quietly’. As I waited patiently for Tsiolkas to frame himself, I realised how rare this was: the chance to see a writer composing, having the courage to be uncertain, to not reach for the quick answer,…

Pushing your own cart: marketing, social media and author platforms

Kirsten Krauth, Darrell Pitt + Kate Forsyth, Forest for the Trees seminar, Sydney Writers' Festival

The second session I did at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (after Here and Now) was part of the NSW Writers’ Centre’s Forest for the Trees day-long seminar, where I spoke about being a published author with a small press, and how I’ve marketed just_a_girl since its release. The audience was diverse: from those who had never used Twitter to those creating their own films for YouTube. You can hear the entire session here (and many others from the day including an interview with Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Eimear McBride). Nicola O’Shea from ebookedit.com.au did a great summary of the session I did with renowned author Kate Forsyth and indie-turned-book-deal star Darrell Pitt. MARKETING + PROMOTION STRATEGIES FOR INDIE AUTHORS On 22 May, I attended NSW Writers’…

Renovating and housekeeping

I'm your number one fan: getting Frog Music signed by Emma Donogue - LOVED Room.

I’ve been having a few teething problems since moving Wild Colonial Girl blog to her new home. All the content was sorted and then subscribers got left behind! So, apologies, and hope you are with me now… If the blog is emailed to you, it might now be coming from the very official sounding KirstenKrauth.com rather than Wild Colonial Girl, but I need to get that worked out too. Just a quick update on what’s been happening the past couple of weeks. I was thrilled to be guest-blogger at the Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival and covered the following sessions: Richard Flanagan on my fave novel of past years, The Narrow Road to the Deep North Emma Donoghue on her novels Room and Frog Music Felicity Castagna and me on…

“Hell is a half-filled auditorium”: Richard Flanagan at Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival

Richard Flanagan + Geordie Williamson, Varuna/Sydney Writers' Festival

Richard Flanagan started his session quoting Robert Frost, while peering out to see the Carrington packed to the rafters. After watching him again down Sydney Theatre-way, I doubt he’ll ever have to worry about empty seats again. The Narrow Road to the Deep North is my favourite book of recent years. Its scope, its compassion, its use of poetry, its melding of the Australian/Japanese view, its horror and love, its strange and cyclical stucture: I have it by my bed to dip into, trying to learn its secrets, as it helps me start on my second novel. Taking part in writer sessions recently has helped me realise the importance of choosing a good interviewer. Geordie Williamson is always sensitive and assured, and I love how he challenges Flanagan with…

Black and Blue: Blue Mountains’ stories – Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival

Ron Pretty hosts Black and Blue panel, Varuna/Sydney Writers' Festival, photo: Bette Mifsud

Coming from Castlemaine, a small town in regional Victoria, I can see how certain rural areas of Australia are starting to thrive, attracting artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians. But even so, creatives can often feel they work in isolation, stuck in a studio or cave somewhere, coming out occasionally to see the light. The Black and Blue exhibition in Katoomba, launched by local resident Tara Moss as part of the Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival, draws on Blue Mountains’ stories, bringing together writers and illustrators who live in the mountains. The early stages of the project involved a call-out to locals to submit stories they’d heard: rumours; truths; dark mutterings. Once on the table, there was a selection process and writers and illustrators were paired up for particular tales, free to interpret…

Tough love: Sally Piper & Annah Faulkner – Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival

Sally Piper + Annah Faulkner, Varuna/Sydney Writers' Festival. Photo: Bette Mifsud.

Annah Faulkner has the kind of eyes so sharp they seem to penetrate you to the bone. When talking about her novel The Beloved, you can imagine she is as gusty as the characters she speaks of. Sally Piper, a former nurse, has just released her debut novel Grace’s Table, and this is her first appearance at a festival. Annah talks about how love seems to have changed over the generations, how in the past love could be fierce, so fierce it was like fighting for survival. There can be a point for mothers where they want something so badly (for their child), they’re so fearful about what’s going to happen (to their child), that their love tips at a point into something else, into…

Here and Now: Felicity Castagna and me – Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival

Kirsten Krauth, Felicity Castagna + Irina Dunn, Varuna/Sydney Writers' Festival. Photo:

When you go up on a stage to talk about your book, the harsh spotlight and the mics and the intense concentration and the nerves means the event can fly past you even as you’re experiencing it. Something like smoking too much pot. I was going to dredge up my disconnected and whimsical memories but — thank God — I discovered Lisa Fleetwood’s Welcome to My Library blog, which covers it so much more eloquently than I could. She’s kindly agreed to do the work for me, and let me reproduce it here… HERE AND NOW: DEBUT FICTION AT THE VARUNA/SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL: FELICITY CASTAGNA AND KIRSTEN KRAUTH BY LISA FLEETWOOD Wow, what a great start to the Sydney Writers’ Festival! I love the day up…

A room with a view + Emma Donoghue: Varuna/Sydney Writers’ Festival

Kate Fagan + Emma Donoghue at Varuna/Sydney Writers' Festival. Photo: Bette Mifsud.

Walking into Varuna (a residence for writers in Katoomba) from the road is like entering some kind of wonderland. It seems to be a place where you leave your baggage at the gate. I sleep in the Sewing Room, in a small wooden single bed with a patchwork quilt, and read and write here in the Green Room, with wall to wall library shelves, a huge desk, window views and a comfy chair to sit. Whenever I’m struggling for a metaphor to grab when describing writing and editing, I tend to go with the handicrafts. I do find my own method of putting a manuscript together works much like a hand-made patchwork quilt, writing the fragments and then piecing them together according to colour, texture, style….

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