Thursday, April 23, 2009

AJ “Sandy” Mackinnon

Author AJ “Sandy” Mackinnon is the kind of person who has adventures. Not jumping-off-a-cliff extreme sport type adventures but proper, old-fashioned adventures.

When he was nineteen, he decided to travel to Iona, a tiny isle lying off the west coast of Mull, which in turn lies off the west coast of Scotland. He went in search of the Well of Eternal Youth.

At age thirty-five, Sandy decided to leave his job as a teacher in England and row his dinghy down the River Severn. He ended up still rowing, in Romania, a year later. Along the way he crossed the English Channel; was arrested by the River Police; tear-gassed in the Budapest Metro; trapped without funds in Serbia under threat of bombardment; and captured by Balkan river pirates.

Currently Sandy is a teacher at Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus. His interests include conjuring and home-made fireworks.

Here’s a great clip of Sandy talking about his life and book, if you want to know more. (His book, by the way, is The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Submission guidelines for Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems

Head over to the Black Inc. website to download the submission guidelines for the Best Australian Stories 2009, Best Australian Essays 2009 and Best Australian Poems 2009. (The link to the pdf is in the news section at the top of our homepage, if you’re lost.)

All three anthologies accept unsolicited, previously unpublished work. The deadline is 1 August 2009.

We’ve got two new editors this year – Robyn Davidson will be selecting the pieces for Best Australian Essays 2009 and Robert Adamson will be selecting the poems for Best Australian Poems 2009. Delia Falconer will be editing Best Australian Stories for her second year.

Want to get to know the editors a little better?

Read a transcript of Robyn Davidson’s appearance on ABC TV’s Talking Heads, an essay by Delia Falconer, or listen to an interview with Robert Adamson on ABC Radio National's Book Show.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Page 99 Test

English novelist, poet, critic and editor Ford Madox Ford once said "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

We’ve applied this test to our new crime fiction release The Shanghai Murders by David Rotenberg. Here’s page 99 (the main character Detective Zhong Fong and his colleagues are at a gruesome crime scene in an alleyway in Shanghai):

Over and over again, Fong was approached with “What are you looking for?” And over and over again, he said, “I’ll know when I see it.” So they brought him everything they found. A small handful of one-fen coins, half a well-leafed-through Hong Kong porno magazine, bits of several different kinds of food in various degrees of decay, a sole from the toe of a lady’s shoe, and many more things—none of which pleased Fong. He had already found the piece of heart and the strip from the JAL airsickness bag, where he thought they would be. The Chinese driver informed the police that his Zairian charge never carried a wallet, that he, the driver, always went in after his client was finished and paid the bills. So that accounted for the wallet’s whereabouts.
As the driver headed downtown with a police officer
to make a full statement, Wang Jun approached Fong.
“One hand points to the guy’s ID.”

“The other to the second part of the message,” replied
“Which is?” asked Wang Jun.

“Which is what we are looking for. No! What we’ll keep looking for until we find.”
Wang Jun slipped a cigarette into his mouth. “Did you notice that the body pieces weren’t put together very well this time?”
“I noticed that.”

“Could it be that our guy is slipping? Maybe he made
a mistake.”

You’ll find more books being put to the test at the Page 99 Test Blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What we're reading

Non-work books that Black Inc. staff are reading right now:

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins (publicist)
The Vivisector by Patrick White (web content coordinator)
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (office coordinator)
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek (marketing and publicity manager)
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (editor #1)
Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse (editor #2)
The Baader Meinhof Complex by Stefan Aust (publisher)
Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (general manager)
England’s Dreaming – Sex Pistols and Punk Rock by Jon Savage (designer)