Vladimir and Vera Nabokov in 1969.
Giuseppe Pino, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
A post by Camilla Nelson
It started when an American academic noticed how frequently the acknowledgements sections of weighty academic tomes featured a male author thanking his nameless wife for typing.
The academic, Bruce Holsigner, began sharing the screenshots on Twitter under the hashtag #ThanksforTyping.
And the response was stupendous. As the screenshots flooded in, a veritable army of unpaid women suddenly became visible. Not only were they typing, and retyping, but translating and editing and – um – doing the actual research.
Each year for the past three years we’ve taken a trip in a bookish time machine to take a look back what readers were devouring 30 years ago (see the bestseller lists from 1983, 1984 and 1985). In 1986, while Mikhail Gorbachev was introducing Perestroika and Glasnost. and the world was being shown a special version of “Australian culture” courtesy of Crocodile Dundee, these were the novels that American readers were enjoying.
David John Moore Cornwell published his first novel, Call for the Dead in 1961 under the pen name John le Carré. Cromwell served in the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service (AKA MI5 and MI6) in the 1950s and 1960s and the author admits that this is his most autobiographical novel, with a large part of the story being a thinly disguised account of his own early life. In A Perfect Spy British Intelligence Officer Magnus Pym mysteriously disappears after attending his father’s funeral. His colleagues soon discover that Pym was a double agent, working as a spy for the Czechoslovak secret service (though this wasn’t a personal experience that the author and Pym shared). le Carré reflected that “writing A Perfect Spy is probably what a very wise shrink would have advised”. Philip Roth described A Perfect Spy as “the best English novel since the war.”
Hollie Overton is a Chicago-born, Texas-raised writer who has worked on a number of television series including Cold Case, The Client List and Shadowhunters, the series based on Cassandra Clare’s international bestseller The Mortal Instruments.
Hollie’s debut novel, Baby Doll, is out this month. We contacted her to find out more about her experience writing both scripts and books.
You didn’t study creative writing or English Literature at college, but instead acting. Do you think this background as a performer impacts your approach to storytelling?
Acting was my first love and those skills I learned have been invaluable as both as a TV writer and now a novelist. I fell in love with performing in middle school and high school. I learned how to tell stories by analyzing plays, breaking down characters and studying structure. I spent years studying acting and all that knowledge informs everything I write. I visual things that I’m writing, how will it look, is it authentic. The same goes for dialogue. How would it sound if an actor were saying those words? Even though I didn’t continue my acting pursuits, I’m so grateful for the training and that it led me down this career path.
A review by Shu-Ling Chua
Image by Tess Follett Photography
Encouragement, at its heart, represents an attempt to make others feel that they have the strength, wisdom, courage, and ability to solve their problems themselves: it aims not to provide specific solutions but to make others believe that they can find those solutions on their own.
Alex Lickerman, The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self
Use Your Words is all about encouraging others to see themselves as writers and more importantly, to actually write. It doesn’t matter whether you show your writing to anyone; you just need to write. Those who already write may itch to skip ‘Part one: The truth about writing’ but it’s worth being reminded that even writers as prolific as Catherine Deveny – eight books, over 1000 newspaper columns, hundreds of stand-up comedy gigs and counting – share our struggles.
The actual writing is easier than you think. It’s dealing with the emotional stuff around the writing that’s tough. But I’ll give you some reality pills to help you handle it. I’ll bust the myths.
And bust the myths she does, with panache. Deveny knows her stuff and having taught Gunnas Writing Masterclasses for over two years, she addresses the obstacles you’re mostly likely to face.
We recently asked our Facebook followers which Australian writers they knew and liked. The responses included many familiar names – Peter Carey, Kate Grenville and Tim Winton and others. While these are all, of course, very fine writers, there are many more fantastic authors from our homeland that we would love for our readers to know about.
Here are just some of the great books published in Australia recently, all of which have won major prizes.
Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Winner of the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year
In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.
The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia by Don Watson
Winner of the Indie Book of the Year
A milestone work of memoir, travel writing and history, The Bush takes us on a profoundly revelatory and entertaining journey through the Australian landscape and character.