My publisher sent me the edited version of my manuscript last week. It came as a pdf locked with a password and the formatting all as it will appear in the final version. It looks beautiful. I'm also glad that the endless knot image I chose as a section break has stayed in the print version. It looks a little blurred on my screen, but I'm sure it will be fine in full resolution. The next step is for me to review the book in its entirety, taking note of the changes made and questions asked by the editor. I received an early warning of the edits with a nice note that my writing was good enough that few changes were required. I wasn't sure how to take that - whether to be glad that not much would be changed or worried that the editor hadn't really looked carefully. I needn't have worried. The questions are all good ones that I'll need to address. One that I'm uncertain about involves my use of Australian terms. I envisioned that the book would be marketed in Australia at first and only further afield if it sold well. I've therefore included well-known words and concepts such as Drizabone, ute, Jim Craig's hut and bloke without any description of what these are. Do I need to change these for an international audience or do they add character? Would you reach for wikipedia or would you take them in stride?
Over the mid-semester break, we were asked to read The Tall Man in preparation for discussion on the treatment of Aborigines in the Australian judicial system. This book chronicles the investigation into the death of Cameron Doomadgee in the Palm Island police station and the subsequent trial of Senior Seargent Chris Hurley for physical violence that lead to Doomadgee's death. The events were significant because it was the first time a policeman had been tried for the death of an Aborigine in custody. Unfortunately, the class tended to get hung up on debating whether or not Hurley was guilty of manslaughter. That debate was possible is testament to the great writing of Chloe Hooper who, despite clearly believing him guilty, managed to present the case in all its complexity. Hurley was on Palm Island partly due to ambition, but partly to prove to himself that he wasn't racist. He spent much of his time arranging events to keep the Aboriginal kids active and just before Doomadgee's arrest, he had taken an Aboriginal woman to the hospital so she could get her medicine. Doomadgee died from a cleaved liver, but it was unclear what would have been capable of the force required for that to happen. Of more interest were the events leading up to and following the death. The Queensland police involved acted to protect their own rather than seriously consider the death as a crime. Hurley wasn't isolated before giving his statement - in fact he had dinner with the investigators - and the case was set aside many times despite the evidence of foul play. Much of this could have been avoided if the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in
The book isn't due out for months, but the controversy has already begun. I've heard that members of the Bhutanese community are unhappy about the book as described on Amazon. As the first book to portray Bhutan as more than a simple Shangri-La, I expect some backlash from officials, but I don't wish to upset my Bhutanese friends or the general population. Unfortunately, it took this news to make me put aside my excitement about having my book on Amazon, and when I looked properly, I realised that the description provided was purely negative. Let me take this chance to humbly apologise to the Bhutanese community for the description and promise that it will be updated to better reflect the balanced nature of the book.
I've just heard that Blacksmith Books has secured a distributor for Australia and NZ. This means that my book will be available in local bookshops later this year! Well done, Pete.
Calling all amateur photographers. Do you have high quality photos of Bhutan? My publisher is an independent and, while the production quality of the book is great, he doesn't have the funds to pay a professional photographer for the cover. I've got some great shots in my collection, but most of them were taken by others and I haven't got approval to use them. The designer has then used stock photos and I'm not really happy with the result - garbage in, garbage out. If you have photos of the local people or area that shows off a significant cultural aspect that you think would be suitable, please leave a short description as a comment. I'll get back to you by email.
It's time to decide on a title for my book and I'm looking for input. The publisher likes the title : subtitle format like 'River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze' so suggested 'Dragon Bones: Two Years Beneath the Skin of a Himalayan Kingdom'. It sounds a little clunky, but it could work. Dragon Bones is the working title, but I never bothered to explain what it means in the book - there never seemed to be a fit and I figured the publisher would want to change it. For me, it represents a number of things, such as: Druk Yul, the local name for Bhutan, means Land of the Thunder Dragon Marie and I both had trouble with bones / joints (knees and ankles) while in Bhutan, which coloured some of our experiences Getting to the bones of the dragon is like getting under the skin - uncovering the dragon to expose it right down to the bones Combined, the words Dragon Bones have an air of mysticism that is apparent in many aspects of daily life in Bhutan My mother rightly pointed out that the word 'Bhutan' would be the best choice to sell the book right now, so it should be a prominent word in the title. My flatmate suggested 'Hidden Bhutan' which I really liked because it suggests both the presence of a mystic side as well as the uncovering of hidden aspects. Unfortunately, that was used for a book of photographs of Bhutan. I liked 'Naked Bhutan' but the publisher thinks that sends the wrong message and prefers Dragon Bones. Other ideas are 'Bhutan Exposed', 'Bhutan Revealed', 'Intimate Bhutan', 'Bhutan Unveiled', 'Bhutan Uncovered', 'Concealed Bhutan', 'Pure Bhutan', 'Unseen Bhutan' and
It's done. It finally happened! I have a signed book contract. It will be a tough run until the release planned for October, but this is something I've been working towards since 2002. If all goes well, there will be others to follow, perhaps starting with a rewriting of Japanese Pond to focus on the the experiences of being an exchange student. Thanks to everyone who supported me and especially to those who planted the idea in the first place all those years ago.
I've recently lost interest in most of the music that I've listened to for years. It might be that in coming back to my roots, I'm missing the world of music I experienced for so many years. Now I enjoy African and Celtic music, but I'm having trouble finding it. I don't object to buying music online, but most of it is compressed with lossy codecs that reduces the listening pleasure, so I'm forced to buy it in physical format. I can get some of the more popular artists at local stores, but most of the CDs available are compilations. I'll then find a few standout tracks and want to hear more music by the same artists (eg Lhasa de Sela, Susheela Raman and Clannad). But I know there is other great music out there that doesn't make the compilations I pick up. Sydney radio doesn't seem to have much in the way of world music. Our record stores don't either. What is the best way to find and buy high quality recordings of world music?