Nikki McWatters

Avalon Market Day

On Sunday, 20th November, I will be going along to the Avalon Market Day. Beachside Bookshop is hosting a wonderful day of bookishness with an Abundance of Australian Author Awesomeness. There will be writing workshops and author signings all day.

Authors appearing include – Kirsty Eagar, Will Kostakis, Sophie Hardcastle, Tara Eglington, Lesley Gibbes, Belinda Murrell, Alice Campion, Cameron Bloom, Helen Thurloe, Harriet Cumming, Jen Trusswell, Helen Chebatte and Louise Park and of course, myself.

I am really looking forward to this. Avalon Beach is a beautiful spot and I look forward to buying up some great Australian literature to fill up my own Christmas present lists.

If you can come along that would be lovely, if not you can contact the Beachside Bookstore (02 99189918) and you can order books (minumum of two) by any of the above authors and still get them personally signed. The bookstore will then ship them to you for free anywhere in Australia. What a mighty good deal that is!

Signed books for Christmas! Won’t the kids love it!!?

Nik x

 

Hexenhaus – countdown

We are coming into the home stretch. I can now reveal the front cover of my new novel to you. Thank-you so very much to Kate Forsyth for her lovely endorsement. Nicole Hayes (One True Thing) also has some great words of support for the back cover…but for that, you must wait.

Here’s a little taste of what Hexenhaus is all about –

“A powerful historical novel about three young women caught in the hysteria of their own times.”

In 1628, Veronica Junius flees to the woods of Bamberg, Germany, with her small brother after their parents are condemned as witches by the notoriously sadistic Hexenbischof, and are burnt at the stake.

At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Katherine Campbell, a Scottish maid, is drawn into political dissidence with the Jacobites. She is falsely accused of causing the demonic possession of the eleven-year-old daughter of the manor house. Will Katherine pay the ultimate price for her beliefs?

In the present day, Paisley Muller-McLeod, a senior student in an Australian town, lives with her single mother, a practicing Wiccan who runs a New Age shop. When hateful gossip begins to singe her mother, Paisley must navigate her way through the burning torches of small-town prejudice.

Three women, separated by a span of 400 years, find themselves weathering similar crises, all linked to the hysteria that fans an accusation of ‘witch-craft’. Has anything really changed?

The paperback will be available in Australian bookstores on October 31st, published by UQP (University of Queensland Press). It will also be available in e-book format.

Details of the various book launches will be finalised shortly.

Put Hexenhaus on your Christmas shopping list! Everyone knows someone who will love this book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literary Gestational Blues

There is nothing more exciting for a writer than getting that call that tells you a manuscript has made it through the treacherous fertilization process – the acquisitions meeting at a publishing house. Before that time your dream of a book is just that – a dream. You may have the words down and you may have an interested editor but they have to come together and get the endorsement, the fusion, that only a positive vote in the boardroom can provide. The development and arrival of a new book are often likened to the human birth process. While defying all odds to get there, books keep arriving on the shelves. It seems like a smooth factory, a literary conveyor belt, seamless and ceaseless. But if you were to go deep within the body of the publishing industry you would see just how difficult it is for an embryonic seed of story to become a full-blown book with a cover, spine and lots of leaves. For every one that succeeds, thousands fall by the way side, forgotten, discarded, delegated to that cavernous bottom drawer or Amazon kindle.

When I got that call about my upcoming novel ‘Hexenhaus’ I swore and cried, almost like when I’d found out I’d been pregnant in real life. I was full of hope, great expectations and fear. Would it all be okay, would I like the cover, would anyone read it? Because some books, like kids, become disappointments. I jest. No kid, of course, ever becomes a disappointment. Every single one is adorable in their own way. Adolph Hitler’s mother probably liked him. Charles Manson probably made sweet gurgling noises as he suckled from his beloved mother….Not disappointments so much as …some books just don’t make a lot of friends. You know what I’m saying? But when I got the call that I was going to have a new book, I was ecstatic, relieved and overjoyed.

Nine months is a walk in the park. This gestation will take fifteen months from that phone call to delivery. You get the call, you pop the champagne and then the early boredom sets in while nothing, nothing, nothing seems to happen. It took about six weeks for the contracts to be finalised and signed because one person or another involved in the process went on leave, got sick or spent more time tending to more fertile writers’ needs. No bitterness, none. When I’m selling like J.K. Rowling I’m sure things will move more quickly. High hopes! Then I waited, no belly-swelling except for the endless chocolate biscuits and more champagne. Thumbs twirled until they nearly became unscrewed.

Then a month later I got structural edits….big sweeping changes like the order of stories. My book tells the stories of three young women’s adventures through real-life tortures at the hands of witch-hunters. This is, I am sure, much more painful and terrifying than being pulled apart by the hands of editors. At this point your characters put on more flesh and your words get snipped away so that the narrative doesn’t get lost in the detail. All good. Getting smoother. This is where you hear the words ‘story arc’ a lot.

Three or four months after that I started copy edits. This is a big book with a lot of subject matter (and torture and hedgehogs). It was a daunting copy edit made more difficult by my challenging relationship with technology. My new editor was patient and diligent with a wonderful eye for getting my baby into the best health possible for her upcoming ordeal (exposure to the harsh elements of readership). In many ways an editor is like a fairy godmother, turning bits of pumpkin into crystal.

A cover arrived fresh from the designer and with a tweak here and there, we had Hexenhaus looking good. This is like seeing a 3-D ultrasound photo of your baby. It’s very exciting.

Then came the first pages and the proof-reading. It’s amazing how inept an eye can be and even after multiple reads I would find something I’d missed. Done and dusted and ready for the type-setter….

That’s where I am at now. Awaiting a nice endorsement from a peer/literary idol…that doesn’t say….’what a load of codswollop’. Thinking about book launches (baby showers?) Getting invited to writer’s festivals for next year (that’s exciting…they are like those baby pagents where you parade your baby about in public….hmmm…not really). Starting to tell everyone and anyone that I am having a book…a book…a book….on October 31st. People are getting sick of hearing this but I DON”T CARE!

I am already thinking about her sibling and I already have a name. Victorieux. Instead of a book about three witches, this one will be about three warrior girls. You know you are impatient when you are planning your next child while still awaiting the one in your belly (publisher’s office).

I am bristling with excitement. Hexenhaus is wriggling and writhing and cannot wait to get into the fresh air of bookshops with the smell of lovely, woody untouched pages on her breath. I feel her pulsing with longing to be held by gentle, loving reader’s hands, who fall asleep at night with her resting on their chests.

It is a long, fretful, finicky time, this book-cooking caper. But it is labour of love, a magical and miraculous journey.

Write a book. Find the perfect publishing partner. It’s not easy but neither is true love. Nurture your baby and that moment when you hold her in your hands for the first time will be like no other feeling. I can’t wait to hold Hexenhaus. I feel like crying just thinking about it. Soon, my darling, soon.

THE RHYTHM AND PATTERN OF WORDS

At the end of the first panel of the very first ever Rock & Roll Writers Festival in Australia (Brisbane), the very wonderful author, Nicole Hayes, told us, from the audience, that she learned the pattern and rhythm of words as a young girl, by listening to the lyrics of Don Walker‘s songs. This pretty much summed up why we had all gathered, on this humid, sticky-frickin’ hot weekend at the Brightside in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. The audience and the speakers were all there to celebrate the primal, healing, exciting and passionate rhythm and pattern that we find in words; in novels, music memoirs, song lyrics and the critics’ examination of them. Words have power and my golly god we had some fun talking, lots and lots of talking; having blistering, hilarious and emotional conversations about the words that swirl in and about rock & roll – from the songs to the memoirs to the reviews and commentaries.

The inaugural Rock and Roll Writers Festival was in one word – a triumph (‘a’ doesn’t count as a word does it?) It was a glorious celebration and jollification of diversity in music and the literature which surrounds it. The two day festival buzzed and crackled with a vibrant and sexy energy, in true rock & roll form!

In the sultry hub of Fortitude Valley (a character in itself), tucked away in the the very chill, very funked-up Brightside Hotel, a collection of ragamuffin writers, musicians, performers and commentators joined together to create a weekend long party to revel in what we love most – the rhythm and pattern of words.

After a pointed but warm welcome to country by Bob Weatherall (yes Australia – we can do better!) the festival opened with My Back Pages, led by Sean Sennett, which produced some fascinating banter between rock-writing veteran, Chris Salewicz, the absolute legend, Ritchie Yorke and musician Don Walker, who would later teach me about the Oxford comma. (I have clearly grown up because as a young groupie I’d be snorting cocaine and undressing rock-stars….now I’m having conversations with them about punctuation!)

The day was warm, the sky was blue but man oh man there were a lot of cool cats roaming the venue.

The highlight of Day One for me was the Freakin’ and Peakin’ panel which examined the cliche of drugs and alcohol in rock n roll. Do they help or hinder the creative process? Well jeeez…that was always gonna open a can of worms but who would have thought those worms would be so outrageously entertaining!?? Geoff Corbett led the discussion (some reviewer called him wizened…I would opt for wise in a super cool guru Yoda sort of way). On the panel we had spunky Jake Stone, who is now kick-boxing away his demons; the irrepressibly  hilarious wookie, BC Michaels ( BTW BC, I watched the punching bong clip last night and …well…I’m equal parts disturbed and impressed); Andrew McMillen who wrote a great book on the subject and looked eerily like my son (I actually did a double-take) and Jenny Valentish (I’m her greatest fan said in a really stalky, creepy voice). This panel took a delicate subject and rattled the crap out of it. It was everything a rock & roll panel should be. Awesome.

We all got a bit rowdy out the back in caravan/green room world, but please forgive us Joe and Leanne as we were all just…. well…extremely excited to be there. There were birthdays to sing about (the lovely Kate Hennessey and the above mentioned Chris), cake to eat, complimentary booze to drink and the occasional cigar to smoke. The vibe was electric and when the didgeridoo came out….well…there was no holding us back. It was there… backstage…..in the beer-soaked sunny afternoon of Day One, that some of the more unspeakable/not-for-public-consumption stories got told. But what happens at the Rock and Roll Writers Festival stays at the Rock and Roll Writers Festival. I traded some gems with Mandy Nolan, Don Walker, doco man, Justin, Jenny, Jake, BC and Geoff. Some of the greatest conversations I had were with the amazing volunteers.

We partied late into the night at the Black Bear Lodge where we were entertained by three of our amazingly talented panelists – Deborah Conway, Jess Ribeiro and Jackie Marshall. Just wow. Their performances were so powerful they made me wanna cry with joyous abandon. The champagne flowed. Kate Hennessey sampled some birthday Kraken. Sally Breen and I fell a bit in love. And then I also fell a bit in love with Jess R. And then Tammy Lee Rock and …..so on and so forth. By the end of Saturday night pretty much everyone loved everyone else and that, my friends, is a good thing!

My panel on Sunday explored the pleasure and pain that comes with the lust and sex that is wrapped up with music. Led by the one and only Bec Mac, we careened like mad people through our conversation, taking the mickey out of each other, sharing…well oversharing like nobody’s business, reading soft porn to the audience…stuff like that. My boobs seemed to try to steal the show…they do that….and Jackie Marshall owned the stage in the world’s sexiest MuMu, delivering the very strong and important message that ”everyone deserves a root!” Along with Nicole Hayes and Ben McLeay (aka Thomas Violence) we titillated the crowd with our bawdy silliness/deeply astute observations on human sexuality.

In History Never Repeats – Leanne Kelly deftly led a great conversation with Clinton Walker (who told me he thinks I’m a bit weird), Andrew Stafford (one of my new favourite people) and Chris Salewicz (who after a few Monkey’s Shoulders later in the afternoon, began to remind me of a young Robert de Niro). This panel looked at how music reacts to social change and upheaval. It was Sunday. I was sober. This sounded like the most intelligent and eloquent panel but that was probably because I was so focused and attentive and…sober. I also loved listening to Noel Mengel, Bernard Zuel, Kate Hennessy and Dave Faulkner and many others.

I am so grateful to have been invited to this special, unique and exciting festival and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength. I have made some wonderful new friends and laughed more than I have for a long time. My face hurts.

Being a writer is mostly a lonely business but the first weekend in April, 2016….made it all worth while.

LONG LIVE THE ROCK & ROLL WRITERS FESTIVAL. LEANNE AND JOE – I SALUTE YOU!!