Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cambodian street shooting rig

After the launch of Salt Story (normal service will be resumed soon, I promise, I've just got to bang on about this book a bit longer) I took off to the bush to finish off another writing project; using a solar powered laptop, my lovely shack, red wine and roasted almonds to sustain me.

While I was out there, mobile range was pretty dodgey. I could get text messages but had to drive into town every day or so to check my emails. Here is a really good one from Shark, aka Mark Roy:

Congrats on a fabulous opening night. I picked up a copy of your book at the bookshop and its just excellent. The writing is earthy and evocative but still that eensy bit elusive. Little eddies of mystery ... Anyways here are some photos. (They) are pretty gritty as I only had my Cambodian street shooting rig. So they're rough, wide and grainy. I was pushing shit uphill with the proverbial twig to register any light at all with only an f4 lens in that room."

That's me; always a crooked pirate lass.

While everyone else gathered inside to listen to speeches, one soul had more sense. This picture reminds me of Jonathon Seagull, for some reason.

Vern, who did the Welcome to Country. Doust, who spoke impromptu and beautifully too. Harley who launched Salt Story and Soraya from the Albany Library. There may be a bookseller lurking in the background.

My true salt sister Aussie, and me.

D'you like the waves? They were made of rock salt, courtesy of Jo.

 Aren't they beautiful?

But more beautiful and fitting is that Shark flew in from Cambodia, caught a bus to Albany, arrived totally, randomly at my book launch; and his shambolic appearance that I love so well reminded me of how Salt Story began. It began on his blog Electric Nerve. I guested on an Electric Nerve in 2008 with a piece that became the first chapter of what is now Salt Story. Here it is, right here. Click. Go on.. Very soon after that post, A WineDark Sea was spawned, because I was hooked. Shark had showed me how to get my writing 'out there' in a daily practice kinda way, putting it out to the blogging community to read, rather than stashing it in a drawer or sending it to a slush pile somewhere. His input helped me form the idea for A WineDark Sea and out of that emerged Salt Story.

All photographs, except the top one of course, by Mark Roy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A day of random

A few days before what has been described by friends as my wedding day sans man, I received a parcel in the mail. The stamps and post mark said Germany but when I opened it the first thing I found was a post card from the Louvre.

On the back was written:
Best wishes on your "Book" release.
The only way is Up!!
Thought of you when I saw this original at the Louvre.
Kindest regards to you and your family.

There was no return address and I couldn't decipher the single letter signature. It's been driving me nuts. They also sent me a photograph of a highland cow whose horns look like they've been twisted as a sideshow lark. Then there was the tea towel, bought from the Scotland Tourism Centre.

I don't know who sent me this beautiful package of goodies from Europe. Someone who has moved between Scotland and Germany, who was in Skye in mid September, who still prints photographs and writes words with quotation marks around them ... that is all I have.

The same day I received an email from Elizabeth Drummond. Apparently she is my 42nd cousin (Or maybe 52nd.) She detailed the history of my forefathers (foremothers being absent, as is the way unless they are birthing someone important) as being salmon fishers, mariners and light house keepers off the Scottish coast of Appin. She'd happened to run into 007 with whom I play scrabble every week. 007 has been in New Zealand to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the NZ Herald and being an ex journo from that rag, felt he simply must attend that raucous party and forgo his best mate's book launch. Elizabeth Drummond heard him talking about my book and her ears pricked up. He gave her a copy. And so she sent me an email.

Then Jan from Centrelink rang me. "We are doing random reviews and you've been chosen to participate! All you need to do is be present when I come down from the city to interview you."
"Oh joy! But I won't be here unfortunately. I'll be in the city."
(This whole conversation is too convoluted to detail here. Suffice it to say that I went into the office and spent 90 minutes on the phone to Jan, the day before my book launch, answering her questions, waiting for her to send faxes through to Albany folk who were too busy schmoozing or dealing with client's crying babies to print them off, and long periods of playing Word With Friends on my mobile phone, while I deeply suspect she went out to lunch.)

And then ... I drove home and had a shower. Washed the day from me. Stepped out into the hallway, towards the front door. On the thresh hold sat a stunned and dehydrated mutton bird chick, its feathers all sooty and fluffy.
I picked it up and felt its bleating heart against my palms. It didn't bite me. A sea bird it was and its webbed feet paddled against my forearms.

A moonbird on my doorstep, it's internal barometer thrown, miles from home, blown over from Sandpatch in a year when the Easterlies have roared in early. Starving for whitebait and water. I'm just glad I found it before the dog did.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dirty Knees

The night after my book launch, my friends presented me with Dirty Knees by Suzie Kettle. The story of a fisherwoman, it is now hanging in my room alongside Weed Child and The Gap, by Cathy Gordon and Michelle Frantom.

Snippets from Thursday

Me: "It's only five oclock. They're already coming in the door. Shit! I'm not changed yet! Quick, come with me to the toilets. I'll get changed and we can run over our speeches."

Me: "How does this look?"
Menang Elder: "Don't do the red dress with black stockings, darling. But I do like those shoes."

Stormboy: "What else do you want me to do, Mum?"

Aussie: "What are you thinking?" as we sat together by the stage, listening to a board member from Fremantle Press read a speech from my editor.
"I'm thinking that the editor has just said that she reads my blog. Agghh!" I whisper back.

Me: "Here's my phone. Can you take some photos for me?"

Me: "Where are the rest of you fisheries blokes? I thought you were all coming."
Fisheries Officer: "(The impossibly handsome) Brad sends his apologies. He's out tagging Great White sharks at the moment."
"Phwoar. Great Whites. Really? Well, that's a halfway decent excuse. So, there's only you here tonight?"
"Yeah, sorry. I'm not in Compliance. I just count herring gonads."
"Oh, well."

Librarian: "We are running out of white wine, Sarah."

Irish: "Did you buy those red shoes especially? Don't think I've ever seen you in heels before."

Bookseller: "They've drunk all the beer. D'you reckon you find me a beer?"

Ba' Hi Elder: "Can you sign my book?"
"Ahh. You are the beekeeper. I've heard about your bees."

Menang Elder: "I welcome you. Kaya. Kaya. Hello, yes, and welcome to this country."

Librarian: "Do you want us to tick off names or just count heads from now on? Two hundred so far."

Dad: "Do you want me to get some more boxes of wine?"
"Dad. You are a legend."

The book-launcher's ex wife: "That was me who stole his copy of Salt Story. I saw it on his kitchen bench when I was picking up our boy a month ago. I saw your name and it reminded me of when you and me were neighbours all those years back ... so I took it. Hope you don't mind."

Me: "Wow. What are you doing here!"
Donna: "I flew in from Melbourne to come to your book launch Sarah!"

Me: "Wow. What are you doing here!"
Shark: "I flew in from Phnom Penh and caught a bus down to Albany to come to your book launch Sarah!"

Random womanchild: "I've read your book. I love it. I want to write. I'd like to write a book."

Bookseller: "Sold a heap of books tonight. Well done."

Librarian: "On closing, Sarah has suggested the front bar of the Royal George Hotel as the next venue for tonight."

Publican: "Sarah, how many people are you expecting to come to the pub tonight? Reason is, I need to know whether to put another barmaid on. Also, I hope your folk won't feel too intimated by the bikies. About forty Coffin Cheaters have just rocked up."

Me: "Guys! Please don't stack the chairs. I'll do it in the morning. We're going to the pub."

Coffin Cheater: "Hey, Woolly!"
Another Coffin Cheater: "Hello Woolly Girl! What's yer book about?"

Me: "I need food."
Barmaid: "Here's something, love." (Breaks a pack of crisps into a basket and pushes it over the bar.)

"Who's on the pool table?"

"Where can we get some food?"

"Hey! Woolly!"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Salt Story launch, Albany Boatshed

Last night's launch of Salt Story was a beautiful affair. I came home buzzing and didn't sleep very well, still seeing all of those faces of people from out of the woodwork, from my past lives and future friendships, folk and family whom I love dearly, all looking back at me, with me, in the moment of cracking a bottle of bubbly against the bow of a book.

Tomorrow when I am less tired and more lucid, I shall recount some stories from the night ... the toothless bikie, the book thief, the queen of my heart and the quickening crowd ... for now, here are some photos.

  Right before we began. Oh my.

 The boys strummed Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on uke and mandolin while we read short pieces from Salt Story.

 Preparing ... freaking ... actually kind of okay ...

 Publisher and poet

 Badass booksellers

 Me, some boats, Old Salt and Our Nicole

Welcome to Country

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The spine of a whale and my favourite bookshop

Here is today's window at Paperbark Merchants, York Street Albany.

Friday, November 8, 2013

No better bilge pump than a frightened deckie

Chris Pash, writing for Business Insider, has interpreted some of Salt's wily business advice in a brilliant article. Who woulda thought a review of my book would make it into an online business mag? Because apparently Salt is a consummate businessman as well as a grumpy old fisherman and his wisdom should be heeded!
Here are some quotes and images from The Wisdom of Salt: Grumpy Fisherman's 10 Secrets of Motivation and Leadership.
"It is on the official record that, according to Salt, I was carrying out my duty as a lightning rod." Salt Story, p. 161.

 "SECRET 8: Care for your staff. They have many uses. Being the highest point in a metal boat during an electrical storm is one of them."

 Moby Dick. Warner Bros.

Here's another one: "There's no better bilge pump than a frightened deckie." (Salt Story. p.28)

"SECRET 1: Productivity is simple. The art of managing people is knowing when to do push and when to do nothing. If you are in an open boat in a storm, nothing you say or do will make your deckhand bail out the water any faster. Best to sit back, hand on the tiller and enjoy watching the deckhand’s frantic efforts. Very entertaining. The fear of death creates a sharp rise in productivity."

 Kon-Tiki, The Weinstein Company

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unruly and Sandy

That's the measuring stick

That's the black bream with their eyes turned down
when we are packing them
into icy boxes for the city markets.

That's Unruly.

That's Sandy on his nets.

That's Sandy after the last buoy's gone into the water. He's smiling. He's set a good net and he's about to go home.

Monday, November 4, 2013


1 Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
2 Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
3 Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
4 And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
5 Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
6 But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
7 Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
8 Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

9 Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
10 Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
11 But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
12 And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
13 Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
14 As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

15 In all my dreams before my helpless sight
16 He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

17 If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
18 Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
19 And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
20 His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
21 If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
22 Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
23 Bitter as the cud
24 Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
25 My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
26 To children ardent for some desperate glory,
27 The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
28 Pro patria mori. 

Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen (18/3/1893 – 4/11/1918)

Media Tarts

Photograph by Tracey Armstrong ABC South Coast 
(See? Look at us. Ain't he just the same tribe as me.)

If you follow this link to the South Coast ABC website, you can listen to me talking to John Cecil about my book Salt Story, of sea-dogs and fisherwomen. Part of the way through the interview comes the really interesting bit - where the star of the book 'Salt' is outed. Actually I think I may have just done that via this image. Oh anyway, look, have a listen. It's a nice interview.

Almost as good as chatting to Salt and Mr Cecil was getting a review in the Qantas inflight magazine for November. What a coup. That's because the Fremantle Press publicist is a bit genius.
"Catch of the Day," said Paul Robinson. (Whoo!)
Bloody brilliant, and I'm in good company too.