How to make a zine

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:

2016-03-16 08.45.15Well, maybe with a bit more text on it.







Step 1: set up

Start with a 5-page document in MS Word or similar. Or start with 5 blank A4 pages if you want to go freehand.

  • Page 1 is the back cover
  • Page 2 is the front cover
  • Page 3-4 is the centre spread

All of these pages will end up being reduced to A6 size so use big font – 24 point for body text should be about right.

  • Page 5 is the fold out. It will stay at A4 size so this is a good place for a comic, a longer article or a photo-story.

Step 2: create content

Fill your 5 pages with brilliant ideas.

Step 3: resize

Reduce pages 1 to 4 to A6 size.

The easiest way I’ve found to resize in MS Word is to choose the ‘layout’ menu in printer settings then select ‘4 pages per sheet’ and print.

Step 4: layout

When opened out flat, the orientation of your first 4 pages should look like this:2016-03-16 08.43.34

So if you’ve resized in MS Word, you will need to cut the page in half along the short edge and flip the centre spread. I’ve tried making MS Word turn pages upside down but it won’t do it for me – if you figure out a way, I’d love to hear from you.

Step 5: publish

Print page 5 then photocopy it back-to-back with the covers and centre spread page. Fold in half along the short edge, keeping the front and back covers facing you. Now fold in half again, keeping the front cover facing you.

Congratulations, you have just made a zine!

By the way…

If you would like me to do a zine-making workshop at your school or arts organisation, you can book me through Creative Net Speakers Agency. For more information:

White Ravens

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 consideration of universally relevant topics.

Our work is guided by the conviction that children’s and young adult books are an essential part of the cultural life of a society and of a country, and as such must be preserved, documented and shared. We particularly care about the promotion of international cultural exchange and the cultural education of children and young adults.

Internationale Jugendbibliothek

Thirty-five of the books in this year’s catalogue are written in English but the catalogue includes books from many countries and more than thirty languages are represented in the collection. Most are European languages but Taka Ki Ro Wai, written in Maori by Keri Kaa and illustrated by Martin Page was one of three New Zealand entries. Tiger Stone was one of eight book from Australia included in the catalogue.

Approximately 10,000 new titles are received by the International Youth Library each year in goodness knows how many languages. The library’s experts in each language family read the books and whittle the catalogue down to 200 titles. What an undertaking!

So as November has ticked over to December and we have entered the season of the list, I’m pretty pleased to be included in this particular list and now my goal is to read as many of the other entries as I can. You can visit the catalogue online to read the judges comments and choose your own reading list.

Sulawesi Selatan

Students at Pinrang workshop

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited Indonesia, but this is my first time in Sulawesi. It’s the jigsaw-piece-shaped island that always seemed somehow remote, even though it’s only a two-hour flight from Jakarta. My visit here this time is the result of kebetulan. When I put in a grant application to the Australia-Indonesia Institute I gamely stated that I would visit a school in Makassar to do a writing workshop with the students. I had a vague plan to get the BRIDGE team at AEF on board and convinced myself not to worry, something would work out, it always does.

By the start of August, the BRIDGE team was on board and an itinerary for Java was starting to take shape but Sulawesi seemed as remote as ever. Then, kebetulan, I met Lily Farid at the Bendigo Writers Festival. Lily is the founder of the Makassar International Writers Festival, a talented writer and a true dynamo. Before I knew it, I had a MIWF t-shirt and bag and a spot on the line-up for a MIWF 2016 pre-event: a two-day workshop at SMAN 11 Unggulan Pinrang, a boarding school in a small (by Indonesian standards) town about four hours drive from Makassar.

I’m back in Makassar now, having just spent two wonderful days in Pinrang with two fellow writers (Aan Mansyur and Faisal Oddang), an inspiring Indonesian teacher (Baharuddin Iskandar) and twenty-nine enthusiastic senior high school students.

Senior High School students in South Sulawesi design zines on their laptops
Editorial teams at SMUN 11 Unggulan Pinrang prepare zines for Indonesian teachers in Australia to use as reading material in their classes

I shared my zine-making idea with the students and they were straight onto it, forming editorial teams and gathering material for zines about food, boarding school life, why everyone should read and dispute resolution Bugis-style. Within two days they had produced first editions for seven zines and one team was onto its second edition. I’ll get them onto a Wikispace to share with Indonesian teachers in Australia soon but now it’s time for me to go and explore Makassar.

Ash clouds and aeroplanes

Iceland coastline near Stykkisholmur

Stykkisholmur is a small fishing village in western Iceland. Ngurah Rai International Airport is in Indonesia, on the island of Bali. What’s the connection? Volcanic ash.

Right now, Ngurah Rai International Airport is a little quieter than usual; an ash cloud from Mount Raung, a volcano in East Java, has airlines so worried that they have cancelled flights out of the Denpasar airport. Stykkisholmur is home to the Eldfjallasafn Volcano Museum, where, along with amazing volcano-inspired art and a geological display, you can view an informative (read terrifying) video about the power of volcanoes. Watching this video last month was the first time I heard of ‘The Jakarta Incident’ – a narrowly averted air disaster in 1982 that showed the aviation industry just how dangerous an ash cloud is to aeroplanes.

Woodcut of Mt Hekla eruption by Sebastian Munster
Woodcut of Mt Hekla in Cosmografia, 1551 by Sebastian Munster. Volcano Museum Stykkisholmur.

On 24 June 1982 British Airways Flight 9 from London to Auckland was flying at night over West Java with 248 passengers and 15 crew on board. The radar indicated a clear sky but the plane became enveloped in cloud and the cabin filled with smoke. Then, one by one, each of the four engines failed.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are all doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” Captain Eric Moody

The pilots tried to restart the engines but to no avail. As the plane lost altitude, gliding towards Java’s mountainous south coast, the crew made rapid calculations to determine where it would land. They were just about to change course to try an emergency landing at sea when miraculously the engines came back to life.

The crew was able to land safely in Jakarta, but not without incident; one of the engines failed again as the plane regained altitude and the pilots had to land ‘blind’ as the windscreen was mysteriously opaque and the plane’s landing lights weren’t working.

The cause of the Jakarta Incident was an ash cloud from Mount Galunggung in West Java. Radar detects cloud by measuring moisture, but ash clouds are dry so they don’t show up. While the instruments reported a clear sky, the windscreen, engines and landing lights were being ‘sandblasted’ by tiny particles of ash similar to shards of glass. The ash also melted onto the engines. Luckily, as the engines cooled the molten ash solidified and enough of it broke off to allow the engines to restart.

The Jakarta Incident was the subject of an episode of the Mayday television series, which features interviews with passengers and crew – it is well worth a look unless you are a nervous flyer.

So that is why planes don’t fly into ash clouds if they can possibly avoid doing so. Keep it in mind if you’re ever stuck in Bali because your airline’s risk management team have decided to be cautious. And if you are affected by the current delays – you have my sympathy, but spare a thought for the 5000 people of Papua New Guinea’s Manam Island who are still waiting for urgent assistance a week after a volcanic eruption destroyed their food gardens.



The last exam I sat was my NAATI exam. NAATI stands for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. There were hundreds of us all crammed into Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne, all different ages and different ethnic backgrounds scribbling away in I don’t know how many different languages. I’ve still got my official NAATI translator rubber stamp in a box somewhere but as I passed the exam a good 15 years ago and haven’t done any official translating for at least 10 years, I don’t think I could ethically use it now.

Recently I decided to test my translator’s brain to see just how rusty it is. I wanted to translate an article that was published in 1990 in Tempo Interaktif magazine because it is one of the few online sources of information about the Wonoboyo Hoard – the treasure that appears in Tiger Stone – and I thought readers who don’t speak Indonesian might be interested to find out a little more about the treasure and its discovery.

The exercise reminded me how much I love translating – it’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle with ideas. It’s also quite a balancing act – if you translate too literally then it sounds clunky in English but if you are too free with your translation you run the risk of stepping outside the translator’s role and becoming an editor.

You can read my translation of ‘The Legacy of Saragi Diah Bunga’ here. If you read Indonesian, have a look at the original here – what do you think of my translation? Would you have translated anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Meet Kancil

Kancil (detail) by Dina Indrasufitri
Kancil by Dina Indrasafitri

Tiger Stone (my first novel) will be published in Australia and New Zealand in two weeks (August 1) so I guess I should get used to talking about it. It’s all making me feel a bit like the rabbit in the spotlight so let’s talk about Dina’s drawing instead.

Dina is a Melbourne-based artist and journalist. She read a draft of Tiger Stone last year and a couple of weeks ago she sent me this drawing. I really like this image. Kancil looks wise but feisty and maybe just a teeny bit fed up. I’m guessing she’s reacting to something irritating that Kitchen Boy just said or did. You’ll have to read the book to put that in context.

Tiger Stone is historical fiction if you want to give it a label. It’s also children’s fiction, not YA fiction, if you want to get further into labelling. I like to think of it as a mystery adventure for all ages that happens to be set in the past.

Dina drew the image to illustrate the clothing that Kancil probably wore. I say ‘probably’ because Tiger Stone is set in fourteenth century Java. The climate in Java isn’t great for preserving cloth so historians mostly rely on carved stone temple friezes and statues to figure out what people looked like and what they wore seven centuries ago.

The problem with that evidence is that stone is quite hard to carve so nobody was going to waste time carving an accurate portrayal of the everyday life of a village girl. Dina has drawn Kancil wearing a kain and kemben. This matches what the temple friezes and statues tell us for ladies considered worthy of having their image recorded so let’s assume ordinary folk wore much the same style of clothing but of rougher cloth and with less jewellery.

You can have a sneak peek at a few chapters of Tiger Stone here. And if you want to see more of Dina’s artwork, visit