Author Archives

Karen Downing

Raise a glass to our debut author

If you are in Melbourne on 11 December, please join us for the launch of debut author Sarah Madden’s magic realist memoir Blue in the Red House. We are very excited to mark this special occasion with Writers Victoria, where Sarah was a Write-ability Fellow. Sarah will be in conversation with writer and director Fiona Tuomy, who was also Write-ability’s founding Mentor-in-Residence. And there will be champagne of course! RSVP at the Writers Victoria website.

If you can’t join us Blue in the Red Houseis out now and available through the Obiter online store.

Just in time for Christmas

‘This collection,’ says Imelda Whelehan, ‘is for everyone who wants their Christmas stories to mirror their Christmas location – with the heat on their backs, perhaps wondering if lowering clouds presage a storm or more extreme weather event. They will be best savoured as the barbecue sizzles or while dipping a toe in the water, enjoying fresh raspberries, cherries or apricots, or during lunch at the cricket.’

‘It might be a tonic, too,’ she points out, ‘for those travellers who find themselves in the northern hemisphere longing for the characteristic smells and sounds of an Australian summer holiday.’

Professor Whelehan is a scholar of women’s writing, feminism, popular culture and literary adaptations and the current Dean of Higher Research at the Australian National University. She and her family moved to Australia from England eight years ago where Christmas was shaped by Dickensian images of Victorian English celebrations recycled on chocolate boxes and biscuit tins and Christmas Day was accompanied by adaptations of A Christmas Carol on television. Like all migrants, she says, ‘we gradually acclimatised and adjusted our family traditions to make the most of a beautiful Australian summer.’

Imelda has written the introduction to our collection of ‘lost’ nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Australian Christmas stories that have not been previously published beyond their original serialisation in newspapers. We are delighted with the gorgeous cover from the talented team at Giraffe, using a perfect image by photographer Jane Worner at Austockphoto.

The book is available for pre-order in our online store.

 

To Be Continued – you can get involved!

We are working on some more exciting collections of nineteenth-century fiction in our ‘To Be Continued’ series – details soon! – but in the meantime, you can get involved in the project by editing texts and adding your own discoveries to the 21,000 works already uncovered.

Associate Professor Katherine Bode’s amazing Australian Newspaper Fiction Database has analysed the mass-digitised newspaper archive, and national treasure, called Trove to bring to light a vast new collection of fiction that is providing new insights in the development of Australian literary, publishing and reading culture.

You can explore the database, but you can also help correct the text and add instalments and new stories – many tens of thousands of stories remain undiscovered in the newspaper pages.

Correcting text will make searching the database more reliable and will also improve the quality of the newspaper text in Trove. Adding newly discovered instalments and publications will grow our knowledge of what fiction was published and available to read.

How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories is the first title in Obiter’s ‘To Be Continued’ series. Kath Bode’s introduction to this collection gives us a greater appreciation of the work of Catherine Martin and a taste of the deeper understanding of Australia’s literary history that the Australian Newspaper Fiction Database is opening up to us.

A little more TLC for YWCA Canberra

Sales of Tears, Laughter, Champagne to date has meant nearly $5000 worth of donations to YWCA Canberra. The Singed Sisters were delighted to be able to make a second donation in April to YWCA Canberra that will support the YWCA’s work on addressing the shortage of affordable housing options for women in Canberra. Read the full story in the Canberra Times.

And Obiter spread some TLC further in sending books to the community in Tathra following their devastating bushfires in March. Copies have been distributed to the Recovery Centre in Bega, the Bega Library, the Red Cross for emergency volunteers, Candelo Books for fundraising, and directly to some of the fire-affected families.

Photo: Singed Sisters Karen Downing, Chandani Prammer, Liz Tilley and Julie Pham, donate the proceeds of their book to the YWCA through executive director Frances Crimmins. Photographer: Elesa Kurtz.

National coverage for How I Pawned My Opals

The first title in our ‘To Be Continued’ series was launched at the beginning of this month at a public lecture by Associate Professor Katherine Bode at the Australian National University. Both the lecture and the book were warmly received – and Kath became a media star for 48 hours with pieces in the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and interviews and coverage on radio (you can listen to the ABC’s PM with Linda Mottram). The excitement has us all fired up to keep moving with further titles!

We will be especially looking at stories that are uniquely Australian whether they are about the early days of Botany Bay or bushrangers or cricket! The stories that have stood out for Kath – and which the Obiter team are particularly looking forward to reading – are the ones that represent Aboriginal characters in complex ways. Kath says that literary historians have long thought that Australian fiction followed the legal lie of ‘terra nullius’ in obscuring the presence of Australia’s original inhabitants, but much of the local writing about bush life is characterised by consistent depiction of Aboriginal characters.

Stay tuned as we dig more ‘lost’ stories out of Kath’s literary treasure trove of a database!

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Announcing the launch of How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories

We are delighted to announce that the first title in our To Be Continued series will be launched at the Australian National University on Thursday 1 March. This project is a collaboration between Obiter and Associate Professor Katherine Bode who has written the introduction to this collection of Catherine Martin’s nineteenth-century tales of manners. The book will be launched at a public lecture – Uncovering the true history of Australian literature – at the Australian National University in which Kath will explore the broader implications of her research. We’ll celebrate the book with a glass of champagne after the lecture and books will be available for sale.

We hope you can join us! Event registration.

 

Book signings

Tears, Laughter, Champagne author Karen Downing and the Singed Sisters who shared their stories for the book will be signing copies at book stores to mark the 15th anniversary of the Canberra 2003 bushfires.

  • Saturday 13 January, 10am-12pm at The Markets, Wanniassa
  • Thursday 18 January, 12-2pm at Dymocks, City
  • Thursday 18 January, 3-5pm at The Markets, Wanniassa
  • Thursday 18 January, 6-8pm at Beyond Q, Weston

Stop by for a chat!

Annabel Crabb launches Obiter’s first book

Yes, there were tears, laughter and champagne – and huge amounts of cake – at the launch of Obiter’s first title off the press on Saturday 9 December. And some of the tearing up was from Annabel Crabb who graciously did the official honours.

Annabel said she ‘wasn’t quite ready for how powerful the opening chapter was going to be’ and that it was ‘an extraordinary piece of writing’ that wove together the stories of all the women to produce ‘something rather wonderful and beautiful … stories of friendship and generosity and sharing, and building something that is bigger than the constituent parts of the people involved.’ ‘And that is what I love,’ she said, ‘about food and cooking for others, and I think that this book absolutely nails that sense and that spirit.’

Tears, Laughter, Champagne could not have happened without some very special people: the amazing Annabel Crabb who launched the book so warmly; all the Sisters who baked cakes and slices to enjoy with the champagne; the 160 people who attended the launch and bought 117 copies of the book; the 128 Pozible supporters who pre-ordered copies to the tune of $8385; and the Obiter elves Daniel, Dan and Ric who spent hours stuffing envelopes.

The book is now available at selected outlets in Canberra and online in the Obiter shop.

Singed Sisters in the spotlight

Local Canberra media has been quick to respond to the launch of Obiter’s Pozible campaign for Tears, Laughter, Champagne. The story of friendships forged through food and fire resonates with Canberrans who can all tell you where they were and what happened on 18 January 2003.

Kathryn Vukovljak discussed the book with Karen Downing for City News and Elias Hallaj has given it a plug on RiotACT.

Some 40 wonderful people have pledged to the project already. With 22 days to go we need some more supporters to reach our target!

 

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