The Secret Battle longlisted for ARA Historical Novel Prize!

We’re excited to announce that Pamela Rushby’s fabulous middle-grade novel The Secret Battle, which we published last year, has been longlisted by the Historical Novel Society of Australasia for the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize in the CYA (Children’s and Young Adult) category.

This year’s Longlists explore a diverse range of powerful themes, from reinvention and the meaning of truth, through to mischievous, fast-paced fables and the recasting of literary classics. The Longlists demonstrate the power of historical fiction to bring the past vividly to life, explore often unspoken truths, and illuminate the challenges faced by humankind throughout the centuries.

The Prize is a true celebration of historical fiction, and a real opportunity to foster the genre on a grander scale, and we are very proud that The Secret Battle is part of it. And we offer big congratulations to Pamela!

https://hnsa.org.au/2022-ara-historical-novel-prize-longlists-announced/

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Interview with Victor Kelleher in Buzz Words

There’s a great interview with Victor Kelleher in the latest issue of the digital magazine Buzz Words, and with their kind permission, we are republishing it here. Enjoy! And do consider subscribing to Buzz Words, it’s a great mag, filled with news, views and reviews from the Australian children’s book world!

INTERVIEW

With Victor Kelleher

My life began in a poor part of London where I had, at best, a scanty education. In my mid-teens, I went to Central Africa. At sixteen I was working on the mines in Zambia, on the old Congo border. At twenty I was at university, and there I stayed (at various unis in fact) for most of my twenties. I accumulated five degrees, including a doctorate in English Literature, and finished up as a uni lecturer.

In my mid-thirties my wife and I left Africa – reluctantly – mainly to protect our young son from war and violence. I took up an academic post in New Zealand, then moved to Australia, where I taught for some years at the University of New England. It was in New Zealand that I began to write, motivated at first by home sickness for Africa. In my mid- forties I gave up my associate professorship and devoted myself full time to writing fiction.

That decision left me free to live and travel wherever I pleased, and although my wife and I kept a base here in Oz, we roamed all over the place. (As a former uni teacher, and sculptor/painter, my wife was as free as I was.) I must admit that our kids (we’d adopted a baby girl by then) tagged along and took their chances. As they’ve both gone on to get multiple degrees and make successful careers, I don’t think we did them any great harm!

In my mid-sixties my life changed again. I gave up writing and went back to my very first love, which was the study of philosophy. I concentrated on the philosophy of science. The gypsy life continued, of course, but with the addition of a Kindle full of technical books!

Then, early in my eighties, I was hit by a yearning to write fiction again. My upcoming novel, Wanderer, (Eagle Books) is the very first fruit of this shift. Inevitably, other books must follow, because I suddenly find myself beset by a wealth of things I simply MUST write about. Now, settled (kind of!) in Battery Point in old Hobart, my wife and I work on. We do so very happily.

How many books have you published during your writing career?

Which was the best-selling for you? How many book awards did you pick up?

More than a dozen adult novels, over 20 YA novels, two novellas, a few picture books, and 15 books for littlies. These last really tested me but were great fun. (I’d still like to write a concluding story for my Gibblewort series, for instance.) There are also many books I contributed stories to.

My bestselling book here in Australia is Taronga (Penguin). Other books, like Master of the Grove (Penguin) and Del-Del (Walker Books/Random House) may have outsold it worldwide.

I’m not sure because I don’t keep count.

I’ve picked up lots of awards over the years: Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award, two Australian Children’s Honour Awards, the Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award, the Australian Peace Prize, and so on; plus, plenty of state awards, especially from Western Australia, where they’ve been very kind to me; some children’s choice awards; and then there are all the short listings, including one for the Carnegie Medal. Again, I just don’t keep a record of these things.

Were all your books published by the same company? Did you have a particular editor who was very helpful?

I’ve been published by many companies, but by Penguin/Random most of all. Others include Faber and Faber, Heinemann, Walker Books, University of Queensland Press, Hachette, Allen and Unwin, Harper Collins, Lothian Books, Word Weavers Press, etc. Again, I don’t keep records of these things.

Yes, I do have a favourite editor: Rosie Fitzgibbon at UQP. She was great at her job, and a truly lovely person. She’s dead now, alas, and I miss her still.

It seems a long time since you last had a YA or children’s book published: what was that book? Why has there been such a delay in publication?

I’m not sure about my last publication. It was either a long short story-cum-novella published in Tales from the Tower (Allen and Unwin), or an adult novel, The Other (Harper Collins). As I explained earlier, I took a long break from writing to concentrate on other important aspects of my life.

Your latest book will be published by Christmas Press in 2022: can you tell us about it?

At its simplest, Wanderer involves two young people, Dane, and Lana, who wander the sea world in a kayak. Their quest is to save books from extinction. The world they travel through is my version of how the future might look once our planet starts the slow process of healing itself. It’s a place where the animal kingdom has finally turned against us, following generations of maltreatment; where the worst kinds of human beings persist, despite all that’s happened; where books and the power of story have been horribly devalued; and where goodness and truth remain in peril. There is an upside to all of this though: my two young heroes demonstrate how trust, honesty, and courage are still amongst our greatest treasures; and the novel holds true to the idea that the world itself, in its re-emerging beauty, is still worth fighting for.

How did you get it picked up by Sophie Masson?

My agent offered it to Sophie, and I’m glad to say she took it straight away.

Can you name five children’s books which you would recommend to Buzz Word readers? Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson. (An oldie, but a goodie)

Lord of the Flies, William Golding (Faber and Faber) (A wonderful book for all ages. Timeless.) The Mouse and His Child, Russell Hoban (Allen and Unwin) (An amazing book. Nothing else quite like it.) Red Shift, Alan Garner (Collins) (In my view, the best book yet on the mysterious disappearance of the ninth Roman Legion. Oh, and see if you can crack the code on the flyleaf.) The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Gallimard was the original French publisher. Don’t know who published the translation.) (I had to include this, because it was the first book I read in French, and it taught me more about the language than any other.)

You’ll have noticed that these are all fairly old titles. I’ve allowed them to squeeze out recent titles because these are some of the texts that inspired me when I started and was struggling to write well.

Can you tell us some interesting things about yourself?

Here are two things, one sad, one not so: When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a great long- distance runner. I duly trained and trained, but it didn’t happen. So, I upped my distances until I was running well over 100 kms a week. I thought that would make me super fit and strong, the way it has many other runners. Wrong! I just became super tired. The truth? I didn’t have the inbuilt strength and stamina and sheer talent for a great distance runner. A real sadness for me at the time.

On a happier note, (!), I enjoy playing blues harmonica. I even took lessons in it years ago, and there was a time when I practised hard. These days, one of my favourite things is to open YouTube and accompany some of the great blues musicians. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be famous to play with the best!

How can readers learn more about you?

Google me, I suppose. The horrid truth is, I’m quite a private person.

Cover reveal for Wanderer!

We are absolutely delighted to reveal the beautiful cover of Victor Kelleher’s magnificent middle-grade novel, Wanderer, which we are publishing in August. The cover was created by the brilliant photographic illustrator, Lorena Carrington: isn’t it just superb!

Wanderer is the first new middle-grade novel in over fifteen years by multi-award-winning author Victor Kelleher, one of Australia’s greatest storytellers. An exciting adventure set in a brilliantly-imagined world, it is also a lyrical love song to the power of books, and stories. We are so proud to be able to bring this wonderful book to the world!

You can read more about Wanderer here.

Exciting news for writers of children’s/YA historical fiction!

Here at Eagle Books, we love historical novels for young readers, and we’ve published quite a few in the last few years. And now we have some exciting news for writers: on Tuesday February 1 we will be opening for submissions of original unpublished historical novels for children and young adults! Historical fiction sub-genres such as historical fantasy, historical mystery, alternative history, timeslip etc, are also eligible.

Submissions will be open for the month of February only, and only for Australian and New Zealand writers(sorry, we can’t take submissions from other countries). Read all about it on our submissions page here: and remember, please follow the guidelines exactly, including not submitting till February 1 and checking your ms fits the definition of historical fiction as detailed on our submissions page.

Announcing the acquisition of Victor Kelleher’s brilliant new middle-grade novel

Christmas Press is excited to announce that we have acquired world rights in Wanderer, a brilliant new novel for upper middle-grade readers by eminent, multi-award-winning author Victor Kelleher. The novel will be published in August 2022 under the Eagle Books imprint and was acquired via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates.

Wanderer is Kelleher’s first middle-grade novel for over fifteen years, as the author has been concentrating on short fiction for younger readers in the interim. And it is a triumphant return to the powerful speculative fiction for older readers that saw him win many awards and gain legions of readers for novels such as Taronga, The Red King, The Green Piper, and Brother Night.

From the very beginning of Wanderer, the reader is plunged into the cold waters of an unusual post-catastrophe world where a secretly salvaged book is a source of comfort for a young boatman and where ravaging warriors hunt down any hint of the old knowledge. With its heady mix of lyrical description, gripping action scenes and philosophical reflection, this is a novel that makes you hold your breath, a novel which is not only an immediately engaging story but also a love song to books themselves.

Victor Kelleher explains the genesis of the novel: ‘I wrote Wanderer while living in the Channel Country of southern Tasmania. It grew out of the waterways and landscape I looked onto every day, and more or less demanded to be written. So like all my fantasies, it is grounded in a real place. Only the time has shifted, from the present to a not-too-distant future, when the world is learning to heal itself again.’

Wanderer is a tour de force, a masterpiece by a writer at the peak of his powers,’ said Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson. ‘We are really honoured that Victor has chosen to entrust his beautiful novel to us and excited to be publishing the first Victor Kelleher novel for older readers in over fifteen years. So many people, including us, grew up with and were inspired by his extraordinary speculative fiction from previous years and we are thrilled to be bringing his wonderful new work to a whole new generation of young readers. ‘

Victor Kelleher