Lighthouse Girl by author Dianne Wolfer and illustrator Brian Simmonds has been short listed for a New South Wales Premier's History Award worth $15,000. It was one of four books to make the short list for the Young People's History Prize.
Lighthouse Girl was chosen from some 182 nominations covering topics that ranged from WW1 veterans to the story of Australian surfing. She said she was honoured to be short listed for such a prestigious award.
"As a regional writer it's exciting that my work is recognised beyond Western Australia where I am reasonably well known.
"We can learn so much from history and stories provide a vehicle to share our past with children," said Wolfer.
Lighthouse Girl is the true story of Fay Catherine Howe, the lighthouse keeper's daughter, who was the last Australian point of contact for many soldiers on their way to the battlefields of WW1. Howe used semaphore flags to communicate with the departing AIF troops off the coast of Albany, Western Australia.
"The image of Fay Catherine Howe signalling to the departing AIF troops from the old Breaksea Island Lighthouse was so evocative.
"I felt a strong sense of connection and wanted to explore this story further," said Wolfer.
Wolfer is short listed for the Young People's History Prize alongside Allan Baillie, Krakatoa Lighthouse, Anthony Hill, Captain Cook's Apprentice and Carole Wilkinson, The Night We Made the Flag.
The winners of the 13th NSW History Awards will be announced at a presentation dinner on Tuesday, 27 October.
Past winners have included K.S. Inglis, Patricia Jalland, Inga Clendinnen, Bruce Scates and Raelene Frances, Trevor Graham, Christopher Clark, Nadia Wheatley, and Grace Karskens.
Story by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, available at http://www.fremantlepress.com.au/news/96
Welcome to my first bloggish news entry, in anticipation of my new book, which is about to hit the shelves soon
The new book is called Lighthouse Girl and it's due out in early March. It has a lovely tactile cover and the 115 pages are filled with archival photos, newspaper articles, sketches and Brian Simmonds evocative charcoal illustrations. Fremantle Press have taken such care with the presentation, especially Editor Cate Sutherland and Designer Tracey Gibbs. After 4 years of work (beginning April 2005) I'm really happy with the final product.
Here's the blurb:
It's 1914. Fay can shoot a rabbit and make a mean nettle stew. She understands Morse code and the semaphoric alphabet. She knows where penguins nest and when humpback whales migrate. But until she starts writing to a soldier named Charlie, she's never known friendship — and she's never had a friend to lose.
Based on the true story of Faye Howe, this gentle tale brings to life the hardships of those left at home during the war — waiting, wondering, hoping. Drawing on fascinating archival material, and interweaving fact with fiction, award-winning author Dianne Wolfer deftly recreates this period in Australian history from the perspective of a young girl.
Last Monday I was in Perth for meetings. I stayed overnight at Frané Lessac & Mark Greenwood's place. Frané had her camera...
Lighthouse Girl my new story is in production with Fremantle Press and will be released early 2009. This book crosses genres; it's not a picture book or a chapter book, but something in-between. The story is set in Albany in 1914 on Breaksea Island and is based on an incident in the life of Fay Catherine Howe, the Breaksea Island Lighthouse Keeper's daughter. It's fiction with a factual core!
Artist, Brian Simmonds is currently creating a series of fabulous charcoal illustrations (about 35 artworks) for the story and the book will also feature archival photos. It's a hybrid of many things! Here's a sneak peak of the artwork...
Other projects I've been working on include editing and facilitating Albany Memories - recollections by Albany seniors, plus rewriting a semi-fantasy novel, The Shark Caller and also a sequel to The Kid Whose Mum kept Possums in her Bra. The latter involves joeys and jocks!
My role as Assistant Regional Advisor for the West Australian branch of SCBWI (the international Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has also been keeping me busy. A team of dedicated committee members helped me organise the first ever Western Australian SCBWI Conference. Five publishers; local, interstate and international joined illustrators and writers for a day of networking and learning. It was great.
Since then I've been fortunate to receive Artflight Funding from the Department of Culture and Arts WA to travel to the 37th annual SCBWI Summer Conference in LA in August. Five and a half days of talking children's books, writing and illustrating with fellow SCBWIies from around the world. I can't wait! I'll be travelling via Japan to meet with peace workers with the aim of translating Photographs in the Mud into Japanese. Hopefully more news on that soon...
In addition to my writing commitments I'm working 1 day a week in a job-share role as Morning Show Producer at ABC radio in Albany. It's challenging and interesting working in a new field and I'm learning a lot. Plus, my daughter Sophie is doing TEE. So there's plenty on...
Best wishes till next time. Dianne
After visiting family over east for a couple of weeks...
I'm taking time out from other jobs to write an historical picture book (thank you ArtsWA!). The story is set in Albany, mainly on Breaksea Island during World War One. I've spent hours sorting through the Albany Library’s interesting Historical Collection and have now almost completed a first draft. I’ve had the idea for this story in my head for almost two years, so it's great to get it onto paper at last! The working title is: The Girl on Breaksea Island, but that may change.
Once that draft is completed, I'll put the story aside for a couple of weeks, and go back to my fantasy novel, The Shark Caller. Although I've 'completed' the story, I sense that it's not quite finished. It's been fizzing about in the back of my head over summer, so maybe soon I'll know what needs to happen. Maybe!
My new role as Assistant Regional Advisor, Western Australia for SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is keeping me busy. I'm enjoying networking with local authors and illustrators and international children's book lovers. See the links page to find out more about SCBWI.
Another exciting event happened at the end of 2006. The Southern Forest Sculpture Walk opened in Northcliffe, WA on November 25th. My five linked stories, Voices in the Forest can be heard on MP3 player as you walk through the magnificent forest. More info at www.southernforestarts.com.au.
And, one of my resolutions for 2007 is to update this News section more often, so hopefully you'll visit again soon. Best wishes till then, Dianne.
The past few months have been busy. In April my daughter was involved in an international music conference in Turin. After 10 days in Italy (eating lots of gelati), we visited relations in Munich (and ate lots of pretzels and Auntie Ingrid's strudel). Then we travelled on to Prague. It was a great trip. The gondola looks daggy but it was really fun!
As soon as we returned, we moved house! In between the moving and traveling, I've been working on 5 linked stories for the Southern Forest Sculpture Walk in Northcliffe (www.southernforestarts.com.au). Artists, musicians and authors are working together on this exciting project. My children's stories will be linked to boulders etched by talented Albany based artist, Kati Thamo. Children will be able to search for animals from the stories featured on audio guides. The trail will open on November 25th and it should be amazing.
After I finish these stories I want to finish my fantasy novel, then rewrite a (hopefully) final draft of Shadows Walking (the Kokoda novel I’ve been working on since 2002!) by the end of the year.
Photographs in the Mud, my first picture book with illustrator, Brian Harrison-Lever was released on 31st March, with launches in Perth and Albany.
Working collaboratively with an illustrator has been a new experience for me - watching the development of Brian's artwork and making text adjustments to weave both strands more closely was exciting and sometimes challenging. Photographs in the Mud, like Jungle Trek, was a surprise by-product of my research trip to Kokoda in 2002. The story tells of the experiences of two men (one Japanese, one Australian) on the Kokoda Track during WW2. After several years of drafting, it's wonderful to now see the final product.
Meanwhile the story I was researching in 2002 is going through (another!) final draft. At 75,000 words Shadows Walking will probably appeal to older YA readers. More about that next time...
Also in the pipeline are two books for younger readers. Horse-Mad will be released by FACP in August and The Kid whose Mum kept Possums in her Bra is due for release in early 2006. I'm also writing a fantasy novel for readers aged about 8-12. The story is roughed out and I'm now busy working to complete a first draft.
Besides all that, I'm teaching Vocational English at the Denmark Ag College and enjoying the warm weather - taking Lulu to the beach and snorkelling at Greens Pool. Autumn is the best time of the year in Denmark.
At the end of March I'll be at the All Saints Kids' Lit Festival. In May I'll be doing workshops at the HeartLines Festival in Mundaring. September is the Sprung Festival in Albany. After that I'll be involved in the Northcliffe ArtTrail Project: www.southernforestarts.com.au
This time of year is wet and stormy on the south coast and the forest is full of amazing fungi. When I'm not working, I love pulling on gumboots and sloshing through puddles with Lulu, or going to the beach.
The wild weather is also conducive to staying inside and writing. I'm hoping to spend the school holidays at my desk reworking the new YA novel I've been working on for the past two years. I'm impatient to finish it as another idea (for a fantasy novel) is rattling around inside my head.
There are some other exciting projects on the go:
August and September I'll be out and about in schools and libraries. In August I'm in Rockingham for a week, and then Bunbury for another week. September 17-19 is the Albany SPRUNG Writers' Festival and then I'm on a short tour of schools in the south-west. Hope to see you along the way!
Just before heading north for Easter I have received the first copy of Ironkid, my second book for younger readers. It looks great and I'm really pleased with it. It's loosely based on a race my daughter did a few years ago when she was a Nipper. You can see the cover and find out more in the Books section.
I've also just received the colour proofs for Being Billy the next book (due out in September). 'Being Billy' is about a boy with Down’s syndrome so I was a little nervous about the sensitivity of the artwork. But Meredith Thomas has done a great job. So now I'm looking forward to receiving my copies when it's published later in the year.
Two other books, Scuba Kid and Village Rules! have been accepted by Nelson Thomson Learning for their 2004 lists. Seems a long way away, but nice to have them out there in production!
Closer to home, my first picture book, Photographs in the Mud has just been accepted by Fremantle Press. Photographs is a story I wrote after walking the Kokoda Track last July. Although it's a picture book, it's probably more for middle primary up.
I went to Kokoda to research a longer book, a novel for young adults. The story is set partly in the present and partly (via diary extracts) during World War Two. I'm up to 35,900 words on this novel, but hope to get to around 70,000. Keep posted!
If you'd like to see photos from my trip to Kokoda, visit the Kokoda Track photo gallery.
There is another young readers story in progress, and a couple of other manuscripts sitting on desks, but no news of their fate yet.
Besides writing, I've been doing workshops at Mount Barker SHS and 'Blokes Reading' at Denmark Primary. In July I'll be visiting Nedlands Library and then be based at Victoria Park library for a week. In October I'll be heading to Tasmania to speak at the CBC/ASLA conference.
Well, that's it for now. Dustin Stuart, my fifteen year old webmaster, has just redone this site, so send us a message if you have time and let us know what you think.Send Dustin E-Mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I've just returned from a research trip to Papua New Guinea, where I walked The Kokoda Track with eight fellows and our porters.Kokoda Track Photo Gallery
Butterfly Notes, my first book with Nelson Thomson publishing will be released in September. Two more titles, Ironkid and Being Billy will be released next year. This is the first time I've liaised with an illustrator, which I'm really enjoying.
After visiting Katanning, Busselton and Albany for the Nestle WriteAround Australia competition, I'll be working at Denmark High School. Then at the end of the month, I'm at Santa Maria College and Nedlands Library in Perth. If you live in the Goldfields region or along CY O'Connor's pipeline, look out for the 'Pipe Dreams' writers' tour in October.
2001 is drawing to a close and we are about to fly to Queensland to spend summer with friends and family.
I've just signed a contract with Nelson Thomson Learning for a story Butterfly Notes to become part of their new PM Plus Chapter Books series. Butterfly Notes is about a girl who gets butterflies in her tummy at the thought of playing her violin in the upcoming concert. Her grannie tries to help her deal with the butterflies. The story will be part of the series' Emerald level, aimed at Grade Four/Five readers.
I'm finishing an exciting project with three talented young women from North Albany Senior High School. Their teacher, Andrew Harrison, contacted me earlier in the year after they began taking notes and writing a novel together. I met them and have helped steer the project until now when we’re almost ready to send their manuscript to a local publisher. The story is looking good, so six sets of toes and fingers will be crossed during summer. (An article about this should appear on this site soon)
2002 looks like being busy. If all goes according to plan, in Term One I will be involved in.
As for my own writing, I am working on a novel for adults as part of a Masters in Creative Writing at UWA. The story is set in PNG and Cairns. I'm up to 9,200 words of my first draft!
I'm also developing several story ideas for younger readers. They are in various stages of completion on paper and in my head and I'm looking forward to playing around with them during our holiday.
Have a safe and peaceful festive season!
DENMARK writer Dianne Wolfer recently provided creative writing tips for senior primary school students at local schools and libraries. Author of books Dolphin Song and Borderline, Ms Wolfer travelled from Augusta to Karridale and Margaret River as one of 50 authors conducting workshops across Australia. She also ran workshops for finalists in the Nestle Write Around Australia competition, who came from as far away as Albany and Mandurah. Ms Wolfer said she enjoyed 'meeting the coalface' and found it inspiring for her work. 'It's been good to get the kids involved,' she said. Margaret River Shire Library Manager Heather Auld said it was a privilege to host Ms Wolfer and hoped her workshops would inspire budding young writers in the region.
In July I spent a week in Margaret River meeting kids and giving workshops as part of the Nestle WriteAround Australia project. The winners will be announced soon and you can find details about the competition at www.writearound.com.au. This photo shows me with some of the kids from Margaret River Primary. One girl wanted me to sign her jumper! Hope her mum didn't mind. Since then I've been Writer-in-Residence at Albany Primary and also visited Yakamia Primary (Albany). Peter Cowan Writers Centre have been running youth workshops on the theme 'Peace'. They invited me to do a session with them and soon I'll be back there for a three week Established Writer-in-Residency. I have lots of projects to finish/work on, so October should be a productive month. On November 18th I'll be in Fremantle speaking on a panel as part of the Word of Mouth festival.
American journal Something About the Author have commissioned me to write a 10,000 word autobiography. It will appear in issue 117 (Sept/Oct). I can't wait to receive my copy and see which photos they chose.
November - A short story Starry, Starry Night will be published in SWW's Decades anthology. It's about the night astronaut John Glen looked down on Perth (the city of lights) in 1962.
I've just sent off the final draft (I hope!) of Choices, my third YA novel which will be published by Fremantle Press in April 2001.
Lulu is chomping bones in the spring sunshine and Edmund & Caspian (the guinea pigs) have survived the winter storms.
The bush is beautiful with wattle, happy wanderer, crowea, boronia... The first donkey orchids are appearing, soon to be followed by spider, enamel, cowslip.., and the red-capped parrots have brought their new family members to the bird feeder. I love spring.