30 July 2010

Friday stuff and items

We have spoken before of our fondness for literary chickens. And it seems the Mothership (as well as HRH The Prince of Wales) also has a thing for chooks. May we present The Illustrated Guide to Chickens - get thee to a book store, chicken enthusiasts!

Some breeds of chicken have wonderfully eccentric names. For your pleasure, and ours, here are some that took our fancy:
Pencilled Hamburg
Plymouth Rock
Scots Dumpy
Marsh Daisy
Booted Bantam
Gold Laced Polish

A few recent arrivals in the House. So much to be excited about here.

'Poor grammar and spelling can lead to confusion... and threesomes.'
John Green talking about grammar and its importance to social discourse? Yes, please.

29 July 2010

Sisters in Crime

Murder! Mystery! Mayhem!

Perhaps not words traditionally associated with Children's and Young Adult fiction. But the shortlists for the Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women are up and we send Hoorays and Hurrahs to Catherine Jinks (twice - hip, hip) and Justine Larbalestier (hooray) who are short-listed in the Children's and Young Adult category for their books:
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
The Genius Wars by Catherine Jinks
Liar by Justine Larbalestier

You can see the complete shortlists over at the Readings blog, you can vote in the reader's choice awards and you can attend the gala dinner for the awards presentation at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Sing it, sister.

23 July 2010

Spotted in the House

I spy a lot of lovely things.


Is this not just the most beautiful, the most sumptuous, the most mesmerising thing? Yesterday's arrival of the advance copies of Nicky Greenberg's extraordinary graphic adaptation of Hamlet was the cause of celebration, weeping, cheering and, we believe, a spot of mild inebriation.*

Hamlet is not out in the world until October, which is a criminally long time to wait. We suggest making a bee-line for Nicki's events at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It could be well worth your while. *cough* advance copies *cough*

Noni the Pony** has galloped boldly into the House. We love Noni. She is so cute you just want to squeeze her.

So it's lucky we made a wee Noni toy, for petting and squeezing.

We know more about making books than making toys - so imagine our surprise when some of the production decisions that had to be made for the toy were quite familiar. Which leads us to write an uncomfortable letter:

Dear 806 pink, We still love you, but we have to confess that we have been dallying with another colour. PMS 158. PMS 158 is a beautiful orangey/brown. We hope you won't be too upset. You're still our go-to pink, but you just would have looked out of place on Noni's bum. With love and affection, Onions.


A lemon and blueberry birthday bundt cake. Highly delicious.


This is Mr Badger. Mr Badger ... on a badge.
But who is Mr Badger? Who is Mr Badger?

*Not actually in the House, that last one. There's never any mild inebriation in the House. *Double checks that the Friday wine is in the fridge.*
** FYI, it's rather fun to sing 'Noni the Pony' to the tune of 'Only the Lonely.' No really, try it.

21 July 2010

Lilian's Story

We - the Mothership and all who sail with her - are celebrating our 20th anniversary of independent publishing. Hurrah! Hooray! Woohoot! And one of the ways we are celebrating is by publishing very fine 20th anniversary collector's editions of a selection of our much-loved titles.
Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville
Journey to the Stone Country
by Alex Miller
The Slap by Christos Tsolkias
The White Earth
by Andrew McGahan

All wonderful books, but the one that's on my mind today is Lilian's Story. Have you read it? I first read it when I was a 21-year-old university student, and I was not certain who I would become. It was summer. I was at the beach staying in my grandmother's caravan with my boyfriend - a very lovely yet haunted boy. It was my first ever grown-up holiday, and it felt a little illicit.

On the first night, we invited friends over for Pictionary - always a raucous affair - and we discovered the next day that our animated game-playing had kept half the caravan park awake well into the sleeping hours. And later that night (morning) we went skinny dipping, leaving our clothes on the beach, an act that was to prove foolhardy when we emerged (exhilarated) from the ocean to find our clothes stolen and flashes from unknown cameras snapping at us. The naked dash back to the van was laughter-fuelled, no doubt further disturbing the sleep-deprived holidaymakers.

The next day I lay on the bottom bunk in the caravan in the afternoon heat reading Lilian's Story while my lovely friend plucked out melancholy tunes on his acoustic guitar. I felt a sadness descend. I so embraced Lilian's story that I feared I would follow her path. It was one of those reading experiences where you identify so strongly with the character, you find them hard to shake. And sometimes that's scary. Especially when you are young and the future you find yourself in (via the character) is not the one you envisage for yourself. While it is underpinned by unconventional triumph, Lilian's journey takes her on an extremely challenging path to difficult places. That day, on the bottom bunk in the stiflingly hot caravan with a boy-musician who was struggling with his own demons, I felt the crazy coming and I leaned into it.

As the evening descended, my grandmother came knocking at an inopportune moment, and we had to scramble to compose ourselves. I don't believe for a moment that she didn't know what she had interrupted, but she had the grace to turn a blind eye, and we all settled into a quiet evening of cups of tea and familial conversation. Much to the relief of our neighbouring caravaners, I expect.

I swallowed my quiet resentment that my grown-up holiday was suddenly transformed into a family gathering where I was a good granddaughter - because my grandmother's untimely arrival that day reminded me of who I was. I wasn't on Lilian's path. Fortunately, Lilian's strength enables her to rally, to embrace her eccentricities, to take on the world, to say, 'I am ready for whatever comes next.' I wasn't Lilian and I wasn't quite ready to take on the world - but I realised I wasn't scared of it either - and I had plenty of paths ahead of me.

It's a rare thing for a character to truly seep into your soul, and despite almost being overwhelmed by it (or perhaps because of this), Lilian's Story has a special place in my heart and I am unreservedly proud to be in a position to champion Kate Grenville's wonderful novel in this very handsome new edition.

19 July 2010


The Cake-maker Virtuoso returned to us today.*
So to ease her transition from holiday mode, SB made the most exquisite Madeleines. Almost too pretty to eat.**

Also on display were the traveller's feet.

Notable for two reasons:
1) Look at those pretty new shoes. ***
2) Look at that foot tan! We are choosing to view it as a kind of companion to Noah's rainbow; that foot tan is a covenant that summer will return to Melbourne one day.

* Thank heavens. We were half-afraid she would abandon us for the sophisticated delights of Paris.
** Almost. Om nom nom.
*** Apparently the French lessons came into their own when enabling the traveller to say with confidence, 'Size 39, please'

16 July 2010

Friday stuff and items

This time last Friday we were flying up to Sydney for our PARTY (more photos on our facebook page). This time THIS Friday we are preparing a list of excellent stuff and interesting items:

1) The Mothership has a beautiful new website design. It's clean and spacious and easy to navigate and quick to load. www.allenandunwin.com We think you should go to there*, look around, put your feet up, make yourself at home. While you're there, you should check out the beeyotiful Alien Onion linky button right there in the left-hand sidebar. How cute is it? We are well pleased.

Big cheers for everyone involved in the remaking of the website. It is a Known Fact that cockies fly bettter with new plumage.

2) If you are a fan of either Lois Lowry or Scott O'Dell (Author of Island of the Blue Dolphins. See item number 1 on this list.), then you should go and read Lois's lovely letter on Amazon. (You'll need to scroll down the page a bit.)

3) There is MUCH excitement in the House as we eagerly anticipate the welcoming of Joss Whedon into our fair city as a keynote speaker at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

4) And speaking of our fair city and its festivals of genius... Quick, quick, snap up a ticket for Animation Shorts 1 at MIFF where you can see the short film of Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing. A thing of beauty it is.

5) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as told through lolcats. Entirely too too good. (via Bookshelves of Doom)

Speaking of cats. Look at this bookstore in Venice**...

*Unless, of course, you have just come from there. In which case, hello and welcome! Lovely to see you.
** Onion 1: 'Oh did I mention I was just in Yoorup? *carefree laugh* 'And there was--'
Onions 2-11: 'Dear colleague, enough now. Shhh. Ssshhhh.'

15 July 2010

A New Prime Minister

's Literary Award Shortlist!*

We were very pleased and excited when KRudd announced two new categories for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards: Children's and Young Adult.

But today we were even more pleased and excited and proud when Peter Garrett (for JGill) announced the shortlists, and they were well seasoned with Onion authors.

Young Adult Fiction

Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke

The judges said: 'The atmospheres and personalities Clarke poetically defines in The Winds of Heaven are haunting, the times richly evoked, and the plot beautifully developed to an optimistic, redemptive resolution.'

Children's Fiction

Cicada Summer by Kate Constable

The judges said: 'a time-slip fantasy written with the gentlest of touches... This is a beguiling treasure of a book; an old-fashioned 'secret garden' type of story, with fully realised characters, set in a beguiling dream landscape.'


Mr Chicken Goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs

The judges said: 'an anarchic and exuberant work... Wryly comical and steeped in literary allusions, a love of architecture, and stylistic joie de vivre, this is a work for a wide readership, by one of Australia's most inventively original artists.'


Mannie and the Long Brave Day by Martine Murray and Sally Rippin

The judges said: 'Martine Murray's style of writing is so astute, with each word adding to the rhythm and the playfulness, the details rippling with quirky imagination, and Sally Rippin's glorious illustrations making this a total joy.'


We say: Huge congratulations to Judith, Kate, Leigh, Martine and Sally. We are in complete agreement with the PM** and her judging panel. And well done to all the other authors and illustrators who make up a fine shortlist.

* See what we did there? Aren't we clever?
** One probably doesn't get many chances in life to say that.

The Full Report

Spotted at the A&U 20th Anniversary party:

  • Champagne
  • Large and billowy cockatoos
  • Views of the harbour bridge
  • Smashing frocks
  • Seafood
  • Champagne
  • Small bowls of tasty noms
  • Authors
  • Agents
  • Booksellers
  • Directors and CEOs
  • A Miles Franklin-winning author, an agent, a bookseller and a chairman each making an excellent speech.
  • Editors
  • Publicists
  • Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Printers
  • Typesetters
  • Publishers
  • IT dudes
  • Publishing assistants
  • Financial wranglers
  • Rights managers
  • Sales managers
  • Office managers
  • Media types
  • Literary mag types
  • Luminaries
  • Name tags*
  • Seafood
  • Champagne
  • A luminous white suit
  • Delicious little mushroom tart things
  • Champagne
  • A contortionist, a hoop twirler, a juggler
  • Floor-length gowns
  • An author showing everyone her Spanx**
  • A live band
  • Animated conversations
  • Beautifully be-suited gentlemens
  • Hordes of literati at play
  • Snappy moves on the dance floor
  • Seafood
  • Champagne***
  • A long queue at the cloakroom
  • Goodbye kisses

And photographers...

* And eyes angled furtively to enable reading of name tags without appearing to ogle bosoms.
** For the curious. (If you DARE.)
*** We believe there were other beverages available, but we chose to focus our attentions on the champagne.

08 July 2010

Happy 20th Anniversary, A&U!

I'm putting on my top hat,
Tying up my white tie,
Brushing off my tails.
I'm duding up my shirtfront,
Putting in the shirt studs,
Polishing my nails.

On Friday evening, Onions and Affiliates will be getting glad rags on, doing the hot-shoe shuffle, raising a glass and generally puttin' on the ritz to celebrate 20 years of independent publishing in Australia.

We expect it will be just like this:

Or maybe this*:

Or maybe even this:

Well, did you evah?
What a swell party, a swell party, a swellegant, elegant party this is!

We promise a full report afterwards, but in the meantime you may enjoy this:

*Sans the awful Mickey Rooney bits, obvs

02 July 2010

Friday stuff and items

It's Friday, so we had a little look around and this is what we found.

Kate Gordon is making a nice big long list of writers who changed her world.

Lili Wilkinson is wearing her inner romance writer on her sleeve (or more precisely - at The Wheeler Centre).

Celine Kiernan is preparing to announce the winners of her competition.

Penni Russon is wrestling with boys names.

Kirsty Murray is making a nice big long list of must-blog-about-items.

Kate Constable is musing about primal instincts.

Karen Healey is all about the hunger.

Joanne Horniman is offering thanks to Simone de Beauvoir.

And, Jonathan Walker is inviting you to consider his etchings (well, Goya's etchings actually, but let's not quibble).

And in other news, we've had loads of emails pouring in the House to congratulate us for our winning ways at the ABIA's. We were especially delighted with these celebratory offerings from Elizabeth Honey.
A bunch of flowers, some boats and a cake, To share.

Paper daffodils! Glowing boats! Smiling cakes! Our new favourite things. Thank you ever so, Ms Honey. We gratefully accept your fine gifts.

01 July 2010

Hoorays! Hurrahs!

So there was a swag of awards to be scooped up at the 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) in Sydney last night - including Publisher Of The Year (we won! we won!). Happily, there were plenty of Sydney Onions on hand to do a healthy dose of scooping up of all manner of awards. Hoorays! Colour us very pleased indeed. And more than quietly proud.

And congratulations to one of our very favourite book stores, Readings Carlton who not only won Independent Bookseller of the Year, but who have also handily compiled the complete list of winners and shortlistings on their blog. Hurrahs! to you, Readings! Hurrahs to all the winners (especially ours), hurrahs to all those on the shortlists and hurrahs to all the readers out there who, like us, remain inordinately fond of curling up with a good book. Many hurrahs!