close up of Remington typewriter hammers

A pattern is emerging. It’s a new year, it must be time to check in with that website that I haven’t done anything to for…um…12 months. And then I slip into the vortex of choosing a new theme, tweaking my ‘about’ page, adding a site icon … and before I know it, three hours have passed. Why doesn’t time pass that quickly when I’m writing? or teaching? or on yard duty? Especially when I’m on yard duty. But it’s a whole week before I have…Continue Reading “Back again?”

I convinced my Beringharjo guide to speak to me in Indonesian. His aunties thought they were speaking to me in Indonesian too but I thought they were speaking Javanese. It didn’t matter much as we were soon speaking the language of cloth. Their second-hand fabric was mostly old kain, hemmed lengths of cloth that Javanese women traditionally wear wrapped around the body (in English we’d call it a sarong but in Indonesia a sarong is a tube of cloth with a seam on the short edge and is…Continue Reading “Butterfly Batik (2)”

I changed my website theme today and in the process I revisited a journey I made over twenty years ago. I was looking for something suitable to use as a background for my header image when I came across my old batik shirt. The fabric was so worn that it ripped every time I put it on but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out because it reminded me of the boy at Beringharjo Market, his aunts and the fastidious tailor. So for many years it has been…Continue Reading “Butterfly batik”

I’m feeling guilty. The sequel to Tiger Stone has taken longer than expected. I’m working on it though, I promise. In the meantime, I thought I’d try to answer a question I get asked a lot: who is Kitchen Boy really? The short answer is that I don’t really know. He just appeared one day and wormed his way into my story. Of course, there is a longer answer… When I was researching Tiger Stone, I found a folk tale from Kerinci, a part of Sumatra where people have always…Continue Reading “The truth about Kitchen Boy”

Today, I spent a bit of time in a pondok. Not literally. Literally, I spent my time at the kitchen table staring at a computer screen. But in my imagination, I was walking through a forest and rice fields towards a pondok where I was looking forward to having a bit of a lie down. Oh, and it’s the end of the sixteenth century. You’re probably wondering what a pondok is. You might be wondering what I’m doing in the sixteenth century too, but that’s a conversation for another day. A pondok is a small shelter…Continue Reading “Pondok procrastination”

I was speaking at a teachers’ conference recently about the IndonesiaZine project and there were a lot of questions from teachers about how to make a zine. So, I thought I’d post a ‘how to’. First up – this is not the only way to make a zine! It’s just what I found worked in the workshops I’ve run in schools. you’ll end up with a zine that looks something like this: Well, maybe with a bit more text on it.          …Continue Reading “How to make a zine”

After reading Tiger Stone, my friend Helen gave me a biography of Nyi Njatatjarita, a female dalang (puppeteer) who was born in Java in 1909. Helen saw something of Kancil’s spirit in the dalang, who had a difficult childhood but through determination and charm became a highly sought after performer. As a child, the future dalang Nyi Njatatjarita was known as Sudiyem. She suffered from a debilitating skin condition and couldn’t walk. A sickly child did not fit into the busy performance schedule of her parents (her father was a…Continue Reading “Farming, puppeteers and treating children like plants”

Getting into the Christmas spirit and also as an antidote to the news of Australian politicians being undiplomatic in the West Bank, I thought I’d talk about something garden-y and good that’s happening in Gaza for Gardening at Night this week. (This week’s episode is brought to you by the letter ‘G’.) Anyway…back in 2004, Moira Kelly was in Gaza organising a medical rescue mission. Moira Kelly is an Australian humanitarian who is best known for bringing Trishna and Krishna the Bangladeshi conjoined twins to Australia…Continue Reading “Global Gardens of Peace”

“What’s the worst thing about being a writer?” “What’s the best thing about being a writer?” “Are we going to find out what happened to Kancil’s brother in the next book?” “What’s the deal with Kitchen Boy and the tiger?” “Have you started writing the next book yet?” These are just some of the questions I’ve been asked in the past week on visits to Ringwood North Primary School and Serpell Primary School. Both schools have Grade 6 reading groups that have read Tiger Stone so it…Continue Reading “Book Talks”

I admit that before Tiger Stone was included in its 2015 catalogue, I had never heard of the White Ravens. But it only took a little bit of research to realise what an honour being included in the catalogue is. The White Ravens is an annual catalogue of 200 books released by the International Youth Library (Internationale Jugendbibliothek) in Munich. The judges select books based on “their potential interest for an international audience, whether due to their innovative literary or illustrative quality, or due to their…Continue Reading “White Ravens”