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Launching ‘The Trivia Man’

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What a great time we had launching ‘The Trivia Man’ at Hurstville City Library on Friday, 5 June. Thank you to everyone who attended, and special thanks to those who sent or brought flowers. A big thank you to the lovely Sue, head of adult collections at the library, and events coordinator Julieanne for their hospitality and all the work that went into organising things, including the yummy morning tea. I’m also grateful to the delightful Janet Grundy, who has supplied and sold books so graciously at all three of my Hurstville events.

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On the eve of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and amid an outbreak of flu that has hit so many people, it was wonderful to see such a big crowd. I was thrilled to catch up with singer, songwriter and life coach, Lindsay Drummond, whom I first met when she performed a song she had written about Rose Scott at the eponymous Women Writers’ Festival last year. Lindsay came all the way from the Southern Highlands and here’s a quirky coincidence for you - she’s a much-in-demand trivia host in the Goulburn area.  It was also great to catch up with some colleagues from Sydney Tech High where I taught many years ago. And some of my lovely painting friends were present too (below).

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In my talk I discussed the inspirations for ‘The Trivia Man’, my dalliance with Kevin Dwyer which turned into a long-term relationship (four and a half years and counting) and my own connection with trivia and quizzes. I also threw in some trivia questions, all deftly answered by the audience. They, in turn, posed some interesting questions of me – What is it about this fascination our society seems to have with trivia?  Is Kevin based on anyone you know? (Yes, me! Or at least, the nerdy quiz kid side of my personality.) Was it cathartic to write the story? And many more.

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Literary Morning, Society of Women Writers NSW

11 February, 2015

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I was delighted to be guest speaker at the first Literary Morning Tea of the Society of Women Writers NSWheld in the Dixson Room in the Mitchell Wing of the State Library of NSW on Wednesday, 11 February, 2015.

In my talk I discussed the inspirations for 'Mr Chen's Emporium' and the 'Millbrooke Trilogy', and the process of blending of historical, mystery and romantic elements in my novels.

Thank you to President, Dr Maria Hill, Vice-President, Dr Wendy Michaels and the Committee for their hospitality. 

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Rose Scott Women Writers' Festival 2014

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Source: Wiki Commons; Photographer, August Ludwig, State Library of New South Wales

I was thrilled to be a guest speaker at this exciting event held on Saturday, August 16, 2o14 at the Women's Club overlooking Hyde Park in Sydney. The festival is named in honour of pioneering Sydney suffragette and social reformer, Rose Scott, who coincidentally makes a cameo appearance in my second novel, 'The Jade Widow'. The picture (above) shows her as she would have looked at the time of the book, which is set in the mid-1880s.

In the process of researching Rose Scott's life, I felt I came to know her very well and I have huge respect for her vision, courage, negotiating skills and achievements. I truly believe Australian women would not have gained the vote as early as they did (1902), were it not for the lobbying efforts of Rose Scott.

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With Blanche d'Alpuget

Fellow speakers on the Saturday were Blanche D'Alpuget, Judy Nunn and Susan Steggall.  Read more here.


Launching ‘A Place of Her Own’

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Completing the final draft of a manuscript is only the start of the publication process. It’s followed by months of revising, tweaking, polishing, editing and checking. After a final proofing, the book goes off to the printer. A month or two later, there's a courier at the author’s front door, delivering a box of advance copies. You tear open the box and smile with pride at the finished book. You run your fingers over the embossed lettering on the cover, only to realise that your name is bigger than the title! And you wonder if it shouldn’t be the other way around. With considerable trepidation you begin reading the text. On reaching the end you sigh with relief that you haven’t found a typo . . . or shudder at a mistake you missed and pray nobody will notice.

A couple of weeks pass and suddenly it’s launch day. You emerge from your writing cave, blinking into the bright sunlight, and head off to meet the people who make books come alive – the readers. Without a reader, a book is just a collection of printed pages bound together inside a cover, or a digital file hovering in cyberspace.  It is the reader who brings his or her own experiences and emotional agenda to the author’s story and adds dimensions that weren’t there in the first place.

Lunchtime, Thursday, May 1 and I’m at Hurstville City Library where I feel honoured that sixty people have gathered to listen to my launch talk.

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Naturally enough, I speak about ‘A Place of Her Own’ but I also outline my own journey towards becoming a novelist, with all its twists and turns. Afterwards members of the audience ask insightful questions about the writing process and I have to confess that I’m the kind of wayward author who doesn’t plan her work beyond an initial premise and some guideposts.

Launch audience 420I also discover that there are several enthusiastic members of the ‘Richard Scott fan club’ in the audience. Since I’ve always considered Richard the unlikeliest heart-throb of all time, I’m rather puzzled by this phenomenon.

The lovely library staff, including Sue, the ‘Adult Collections’ librarian (no, it’s not as racy as it sounds – it simply means books for adults as opposed to children) have organised everything meticulously, including a delicious array of nibbles and glasses of champers.

The next day I’m on my way to the country for Saturday’s book signing at the delightful Miss Ruby’s Bookshop in Braidwood.

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Housed in a row of Victorian-era shops with cast-iron lace verandahs, Miss Ruby’s exemplifies everything I love about small local bookshops – a cosy interior with comfortable armchairs, a mix of new and recycled books, and friendly owners who will do their best to track down obscure books for you. To complete the picture, there’s a rescue cat called Millie.

Saturday, May 3 also happes to be Braidwood’s heritage festival, celebrating 175 years since the town was founded. The Governor herself is in town for the occasion. She seems to be enjoying herself immensely. And no wonder – it’s a fabulous day with heaps of things to do – watching the street parade, visiting the Heritage Art Prize exhibition, buying bric-a-brac at the heritage markets, watching maypole dancing in the park and enjoying the random acts of art and music staged along the main street.


Deborah O’Brien

May 6. 2014



'The Jade Widow' Seminar

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As part of the 'Reclaim the Night' Exhibition by women artists of the Braidwood district, I ran a seminar/discussion about writing female characters in historical fiction, held at the Braidwood Community Arts Centre on Saturday 2nd November, 2013.
In an illustrated talk I shared my tips for creating strong female characters and weaving real historical figures into the narrative. I also described how I go about recreating the past, inspired by Victorian scrapbooks, newspapers, diaries, letters, posters, photographs and objects from museums.                                                                          
Finally we had fun exploring some of the perils and pitfalls of writing historical novels, including the issue of anachronisms and avoiding factual bloopers.

Thank you to the BRAG Committee for their great work in organising this seminar. And many thanks for the gorgeous cake. It was a lovely surprise.
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Scrapbook image courtesy of Jan N. from her family's heirloom scrapbook c. 1890