At the beginning of last year I signed up for the 2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge. This fantastic challenge began in 2012, and was devised by Elizabeth Lhuede to focus attention on literary works by Australian women. You can read all about the background here. I entered at the middle level – Miles – which asks you to read 6 titles, and I was aware that, considering the year ahead, even this might prove a challenge. Nevertheless, I made a strong start, and I had read three titles by February – Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and Searching for the Secret River, and Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper.
In February I entered an intense researching and drafting period for my new book, which is set in the Lake District, and so my reading veered away from Australian literature for a few months as I focused on Northern England. However, during this time I also read and enjoyed The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I stopped writing in July, and I had a lovely period of reading, adding The Good Wife by Emma Chapman, and Elemental by Amanda Curtin to my tally. I was absolutely engrossed in both these books. Emma’s novel is a hugely impressive debut which absolutely deserves the praise it received in the New York Times recently! Elemental was the second Amanda Curtin novel I had read (The Sinkings was the first), and I was swept up in the story of Scottish Meggie. If you’re looking for beautiful, poised and poignant writing, and unique stories, go no further than Amanda.
So, by the end of July I had read all the titles I needed to complete the challenge. Surely I would read lots more by the end of the year.
Then, this happened:
END. OF. READING!
Yep, since August reading has been very restricted. My two girls have kept me extremely busy in the latter half of 2013. If I had the chance to sit down with a book the chances were that I’d be asleep within five minutes.
However… I also work occasionally as a freelance book editor, and I have been on Bronwyn Parry’s editorial team for a while now. During 2013 I worked with her on Darkening Skies, and editing Bronwyn’s books is always a pleasure. I also worked on Jenny Bond’s Perfect North (Hachette), a beautifully written epic tale about a doomed hot-air balloon expedition to the North Pole, and Jenny Valentish’s fabulous and hilarious debut My Life in Reviews, which will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.
So that takes my final tally to 9. Hurray!
My reading wish list for this year includes anything I haven’t read that’s on the AWW wrap-up list or the impressive inaugural 2013 Stella Prize long list. That’s before I even look at the new releases. So it’s a no-brainer to sign up again for the AWW challenge in 2014. Care to join me?