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”

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”

“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”

Kancil at Museum Gajah

I finally got to see the Wonoboyo Hoard at the National Museum of Indonesia today. It’s an incredible collection but  photos are not allowed, unfortunately, so you’ll have to come and see it for yourself. On my way into the museum I picked up a Flat Traveler all the way from the 14th century (the out of focus, ghostly look is intentional). Kancil has agreed to come to Sulawesi with me and share her thoughts about the 21st century along the way. BTW – the elephant…Continue Reading “Jakarta: Museum Gajah”

Readers at Castlemaine Launch. Photo by Peter Mansell

I’ve had three book launches in the past three months. There are probably some really productive authors out there who could launch three different books in three months, but not me. I launched the same book three times. Is that excessive? In my defence, the launches were in three different places – Castlemaine, Ubud and Melbourne. The Castlemaine launch was the original first time new book new author never done this before launch. It was at the Castlemaine library on a chilly Saturday afternoon in August. To…Continue Reading “Launch”

  I grew up with Radio Australia. When I was little, my family tuned in to hear the news from ‘home’ on the radio in our lounge room in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Back in Australia, as a teenager I did work experience in the Indonesian section of Radio Australia at its headquarters in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood. That’s me at the desk in the photo. I can’t remember the name of the gentleman with me but I remember him being very patient and speaking Indonesian really slowly for…Continue Reading “Radio Australia”

It has been almost three weeks since Tiger Stone was launched at Castlemaine Library and questions have been asked in certain circles about the absence of a post launch post. My excuse(es)? Life got busy, my eyes hurt, the VLine commute is killing me and the dog ate my homework. Hmmm. Last week I visited a high school – primarily to convince anyone who would listen that 14th century Java is really really fascinating, but also to help the Year 12s prepare for their upcoming Indonesian oral exam. Unlike me,…Continue Reading “The dog ate my homework”

Dictionaries

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…Continue Reading “Translation”

Kancil (detail) by Dina Indrasufitri

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…Continue Reading “Meet Kancil”