Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards

This year I have been looking into arts grants, fellowships, mentorships, opportunities and all the rest, to help my own work and give myself the best possible chance to really move forward with my writing.

I recently entered the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards (SOYA) - an initiative that has "been the leading grants program for emerging creative talent for over seven years ... SOYA is a creative melting pot spanning 11 key creative disciplines including interactive gaming, music, writing, film-making, fashion, architecture and more."

You can read more about the SOYA awards here: website

And for those interested, you can read my submission, including examples of my work, here: Samantha-Ellen.

Regardless of the outcome, it's been really great to have that supportive platform and creative environment for my own work.

SOYA is a great initiative - if you're an emerging, practicing artist, do apply.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sleepers Almanac No 7 Reviews

Some great reviews are coming in for Sleepers Almanac No 7, the collection of short stories in which one of mine, 'Rough Weather Expected', is published. I have been reading a story here and there myself and there is some beautiful writing happening in this collection and lots of engaging sentiment and observation without any of the melodrama. I love short stories, I really do, and when I read a good one it just reminds me of how much power they can have.

Here are some snippets from a few reviews:

"The baseline is some version of realism, colloquial and unpurple, as might be expected from writers who want to get the walking bit right before trying to fly, but there is a lot of skill and finish here: Samantha-Ellen Bound’s ‘Rough Weather Expected’ and Kate Ryan’s ‘The Leaves’ are quietly observant. Rosanna Stevens’ ‘The Silences’, on the other hand, handles its lyricism without strain."
- published in the Age, Dec 3 2011

"What's so thrilling about this collection is the level of
craft they bring to their work and the quiet, unfussy
insights they offer into birth, death and everything in
between. If there is one metaphor that sums up this
collection, it's that of gentle, still waters that run very,
very deep."
-published in the Canberra Times, Dec 17 2011

"Everyday triumphs and tragedies are briefly illuminated, the secret places of relationships laid bare. Melancholy or mischievous, elegant or experimental - together these tales showcase the variety and vibrancy of the modern short story."
-published in The West Australian, Jan 17 2012

"These works are guided by a mortal urgency, themes of mortality and efforts to remain vital ... Each possesses a voice you’ve never encountered before, an almost wilful evasion of the tropes and postures expected. There are names here to note for future reference."
-published in Onya Magazine, Jan 23 2012

Once again, here are the links if you want to find out more about Sleepers Almanac No 7, including places to buy it: Sleepers website

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Upcoming Anticipated Reads

Talina in the Tower
By Michelle Lovric
I adored her previous two for children and this sounds more of the same gorgeous characters, vivid writing and engrossing story. And once again, the cover is just gorgeous.

By Elizabeth Miles

The bad reviews make me want to read it even more than the good ones. I find the concept intriging, and just because it has raised such strong reactions, I want to see what all the fuss is about.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
By David Sedaris

Sedaris has such astute observations. I love the idea of this book. After hearing it described numerous times as darkly witty and disturbing, I have to check this one out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Videos

I know everybody has probably already seen this: The Joy of Books; but it is so very lovely and whimsical. I always imagine the same thing happening with my toys.

Here is another book-related vid worth the watch:
Bookmans Book Dominos

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

First published in 2011 by Viking

I kind of missed the whole ‘Colin Meloy of the Decemberists has written a kid’s book’ hype – I was excited about Wildwood because it was in all our indie book catalogues, had some great feedback in store, and looked gorgeous. It wasn’t until I picked up the book and actually read about the author that I realised who he was. So in no way does that have any influence on my reading of the book. In fact, I think it could stand alone on its own strengths.

Wildwood kind of has all the elements I think this type of middle-grade book should have. The writing is not dumbed down – there were a few sentences and word usages where I was a bit ‘really? You had to use that word?’; but it is straightforward and accessible to kids while still having that appeal that hooks in older readers. There is lots of adventure and an imaginative world that is fully immersive. There is that fantastic concept of kids being swept into the kind of world they’ve only ever dreamed about – populated by derring-do and talking animals and heroes and villains and all the weird and wacky stuff that lives in our heads. It is, really, a classic adventure story, well done and engaging. Where it didn’t quite get me was with the emotional resonance. I didn’t care so much for Prue as everything that was happening around her, and my emotions weren’t pulled into the story the way I wanted them to be. But I liked Wildwood. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Of course, the book looks gorgeous and its design and illustrations are perfectly suited to the text. Design actually plays a big part in the way I read and enjoy books, and Wildwood is one of the best. And yes, it’s long, but I really don’t think that should deter anyone. My experience is that kids don’t mind reading long books – in fact I think they rather like having a world that they can keep coming back to.

I loved the world of Wildwood, or ‘The Impassable Wilderness’; it was a joy to travel through it with Prue and Curtis and see what would be discovered next. The maps that were included were also great. The actual forest has a lot of atmosphere but both the ‘city’ feel of Southwood and the quaint rustic feel of Northwood were written with a lot of charm.

Prue and Curtis were okay as characters, but as I said, I really wasn’t so much interested in them as in the strange world they entered into. This really is a case of secondary characters stealing the book away from the mains. And the main villains and heroes are really nothing we haven’t seen before, but Meloy does enough with them that I still found them interesting. It was the animals where characterisation really stood out.

The bulk of the story is set in the actual Wildwood, and so I didn’t care much for the ‘normal’ scenes back in Portland, especially the last six or so pages. The Wildwood scenes actually feel more ‘real’ than Prue’s normal reality, and so I don’t want to be pulled back into the mundane.

I liked it. There is a great sense of wild childhood adventure. My pick for a good Summer read.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Movie Picks for 2012

So I love films almost as much as books, and although I enjoy a good indie or drama, the films that I really love are those made for the cinematic experience - epic, action-packed, fantasy or supernatural-based, lots to look at, lots to be blown away by. So the below are my picks for 2012. Actually, most of them are based on books and fairytales. Can't wait to see how they come up on screen.


Can't wait to see how all the big superheroes play together - and it helps that their individual movies have been the pick of the Marvel lot as well.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Any film based on fairytales, I'm going to check out. Good cast - I love Charlize, and have always thought Kristen Stewart is a great little actress ever since I saw her in the gorgeous Speak. Really looking forward to this.


The book has been huge so am interested to see what they do with it. Goods like lovely, good old-fashioned fun.

The Hunger Games

One of the biggest YA books shaping up to be one of the biggest movies in 2012. I think the trailer is very intriguing, and love Jennifer Lawrence.


It looks epic and creepy and action-packed and full of thrills. Loving the cast too.


I actually really enjoyed the first one, and this looks more of the same. Lots of beasties and mythology and battles - my kind of thing.


Good cast and once again, anything based on a fairytale I'm inclined to check out.


Lord of the Rings is one of my absolute favourite books and movies, but I always loved The Hobbit just a little bit more because it had a great sense of adventure and fun. Can't wait to visit Middle Earth again and see what PJ comes up with this time around. Love when they start singing in the trailer.

I'm also quite curious about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, but cannot find a trailer anywhere.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Picks for 2011

My picks for 2011’s best reads – as always, because at least two thirds of my reading is backlist, the books are selected from everything I read this year, not just released in 2011. You can find reviews for all these books in the ‘Books I’ve Reviewed’ list to the left of screen.

Best wishes for all in 2012. I hope the importance of books continues to be celebrated, and I hope you all read a book that just worms its way into your heart. I also hope to shortly have good news of my own. Here’s to 2012 – Australia’s National Year of Reading.
The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende & The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Neverending Story is a children’s classic, which once you’ve read it, you know why it’s so. There is such imagination here, magic that never ends and is constantly surprising, a moral tale that’s never overdone, and lastly, a fabulous message about the importance of books. The Night Fairy, a few years old now, looks and reads like a new children’s classic and has a wonderfully spunky central character and loads of charm.

Good Oil, by Laura Buzo & Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley

When contemporary Aussie YA gets it right, it really gets it right. Both books were funny and true, with memorable main characters and great writing. Good Oil is a straightforward contemporary YA story, with dialogue and scenes as real as they come, while Graffiti Moon has a lovely touch of whimsy that perfectly captures the kind of night it describes. But where these books really get you is
with the emotional punch.

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy & Tales from the Tower, edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab

Wildwood was, I feel, just everything a middle grade kids adventure book should be. Tales from the Tower (Wilful Eye and Wicked Wood) was just a great idea well executed, and showcased some of Australia’s best YA and children’s writers.

Tantony, by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Her books may not be for everyone, and they may not be easy, but the beauty she can create with words is outstanding – the weird, unusual and other becomes just gorgeous in Braxton-Smith’s hands. The Mourning Emporium too, just for the sheer joy Michelle Lovric takes in story and words and dialect.

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett
Not YA, but this little story set on Tasmania’s coast really got to me in the best kind of way.

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
I was wary of the hype but this book was a delight to read, and told with such affection and power.

 The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley & Tantony by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Martha in Me and Mr Booker by Cory Taylor.  She is a walking wisecrack and I love it.

The Mourning Emporium, by Michelle Lovric & Tales from the Tower (both books)

Night Beach, by Kirsty Eagar & Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric