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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

All of the entries for 2010

November 3, 2010
I have finished all the trimming of text, the polishing of words, the honing of discourse, and I have attended to all of the dreary administrivia of photography and art work. Writing is fun, but there's always hack work to do. Still, Australian Backyard Naturalist is near as can be to done. Two hours before I signed off on the text, with 24 hours of picture-shovelling to go, I had the go-ahead on a new book.
That, however, stays under wraps for now. Suffice it to say that it bears some relationship to other books I have done, and it's for adults—though some of the sorts of children I write for would enjoy it as well. More later. 

October 27, 2010
The long gap means I have been busy. Australian Backyard Naturalist turned out to be twice as long as I had planned, so I have just done major surgery on it. Now I am listening to machine-generated MP3 files of the chapters as the final stage in the process, so I can have it out of the way before The Monster Maintenance Manual comes out next Monday. I listen to all my books as one of the final stages, because listening makes most of the editing slips that I have made show up. Then I get Chris to read it. 

The next book? Two possibilities at this stage, one for older readers, one for younger readers. I will do them both, Real Soon Now, but which comes first? Even I don't know. And there are several possible dark horses that may leap out of the shadows and seize the lead.

August 21, 2010
I am back from New Zealand, coming back via Brisbane, where I was lucky enough to pick up the Children's Book Council of Australia 2010 Eve Pownall award for Information Book of the Year! Next up, catching up on stuff before I head for the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre. I managed to almost tie up the loose ends in Backyard Naturalist while I was in New Zealand, and I gathered some excellent material on gold in New Zealand, but the next book is still a matter for some thought. The South Australian trip may decide it for me. 

Who's that with the GG?  Can't be Macinnis—he's wearing a tie. AND a suit!

Note that I said "lucky enough". That wasn't false modesty, that was an honest assessment. I was very lucky with the editor, designer and other support staff at the National Library of Australia. It was a good book, I always knew it would be, but you need a publisher with vision to come up with the idea, and then you need a support team. 

July 31, 2010
Well, it's been a while between drinks, as they say. I'm just back from seven weeks in Britain and Italy, gathering material for several possible books, and I am into a major recasting of Australian Backyard Naturalist, splitting most of the chapters and getting the wording just right. August will see me in New Zealand, Brisbane and the Flinders Ranges, so I'm afraid my carbon footprint this year is a big one. I still haven't decided which book will come next, but I am making progress on several of them. 

 I managed to pick up a copy of the German '100 Discoveries' while passing through Zurich. We got on the Eurostar in cool London, emerged into a heat wave in Paris, changed trains after two hours, got to Zurich with half an hour to go and I got lost with the wheels falling apart on our cases, but we made it to the hotel, scurried to the bookshop and made it with 10 minutes to spare.

March 30, 2010
I was present today at a function in Sydney when the short list was announced, and my Australian Backyard Explorer is in the 2010 Eve Pownall short list. Results will be announced on August 20. 

The large gap since my last post reflects a busy time. I have been working through drafts 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Australian Backyard Naturalist, as well as checking the page proofs of the Monster Maintenance Manual. I am now doing background reading for a history of gold: it appears that I will need to read or dip into some 300 books and probably read twice that number of research articles, some of them going back into the 17th century. 
Hydraulic miners in California used nozzles like this to direct water and bring hills down so they could extract gold from the wash.
This will be a social history of gold and its effects, as filtered through the mind of a science writer. Our friends Theta and Gerry Brentnall took Chris and I to see the damage done by alluvial miners in northern California in the 19th century, and made me aware that this damage led, in the end to the world's first environmental legislation. I'm going to take my time with this one, but given that gold has been taking on a more key role in the plot lines of the Cornish Boy project, I expect to either start work on that again, in parallel, or launch straight into it when Gold (that's a working title only) is done. 

Coming soon: news of a publication date for the Monster Maintenance Manual.

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