Behind the mike – Mr Mahoney interviews Lucy Treloar and Tony Birch #BookWeek

As part of Book Week this year, we had novelists Lucy Treloar and Tony Birch visit to talk to the Year 11s. Tony made the long list for this year’s Miles Franklin Award for his new novel Ghost River and Lucy is the on the shortlist for her debut novel, Salt Creek, with the winner announced on Friday. Tony made the shortlist with his previous novel, Blood.
When asked about the importance of prizes Lucy said she was a bit conflicted and tried not to attach too much importance to them, saying the winner was often a bit of a lottery. Tony, who pointed out he had been on shortlists for eight different prizes, agreed, saying he thought novels that were far superior sometimes weren’t even nominated for prizes.

Both writers talked about their paths to becoming writers, which took some time, with both raising families and working in other jobs before publishing their first works. The students were interested in Tony’s account of being expelled from two different schools and finishing his education at night school years later before going on to complete a PhD and becoming an academic.

They discussed the importance of telling the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian fiction and Lucy talked about her concern to get that right in Salt Creek in particular. Tony is of Koori heritage himself and says he often thinks of characters as Aboriginal but doesn’t necessarily identify them as such in his novels.

Both writers were engaging and generous with their replies, giving the students plenty to think about.

– Mr Blair Mahoney

Reading Ambassador #8 – Long Vu Tran

National Year of Reading – Reading Ambassador #8 – Long VU TRAN



What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading the Raymond E. Feist  series at the moment – I’m up to the Krondor part, which is the fourth series. It’s set in a land called Midkemia. Fantasy & adventure are the genres that I prefer to read. I really like the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan and the Artemis Fowl  [Eoin Colfer] series. In primary school I was recommended Agatha Christie – I liked Ten Little Indians and Death on the Nile. I like books with medieval warfare – Raymond E. Feist writes in this way but he includes magic as well. A lot of authors will take elements of that time period – like the feudal system, for example, – but put them into their own worlds or realms.

Where’s the most unusual place that you’ve ever read a book?
At the start of Year Seven I spent a lot of time reading, but I didn’t go to the library. I used to spend a lot of time reading, standing in this corner outside my lockers. Then eventually I started reading & walking & eating at the same time – but just at school. I don’t do it on the street in case I trip or walk into things. When I read on the train there’s a whistling sound in the tunnel just before Flinders Street Station, but sometimes I’m so immersed in what I’m reading that I hear it but there’s no recognition. I don’t miss my stop on the way home because most of my friends get off at the stop before me.

What book / story has made a lasting impression upon you?
I would have to say the Ranger’s Apprentice [John Flanagan] series because I’ve read the series about five times – this is the kind of book/series that I enjoy the most. It’s set in medieval times & the main character is Will. Will wasn’t born a hero. He was an orphan & he wanted to become a warrior but he was too skinny, so then he became a ranger’s apprentice. Rangers are a kind of spy for the kingdom, they wear cloaks & walk around the forest like scouts. The people believe that the rangers have magical powers – but they don’t, they have just been thoroughly trained to protect the people.

Thank you, Long, for sharing your reading preferences with us, and thanks, as always to Denise for the interview and photo.

Reading Ambassador #7 – Michael Tran

Michael TRAN – NYOR12 Ambassador #7

What are you reading at the moment?

Currently I’m  reading Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets [J.K. Rowling] for about the thousandth time (I’ve read them all before). I haven’t had the time to read much recently, so it’s good to pick up a book that I’ve read before (and one that I like) to get back into the reading routine. When I’m able to read more, I prefer the fantasy / adventure genres. In class – for wider reading – we’ve been reading classics. Recently we read The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare – we read it out aloud as a class. I’m also reading Thursday’s Child by Sonya Hartnett.

Where’s the most enjoyable place that you read? 

When I’m reading I like to get into the atmosphere of the book as well, so I like to go to the park to read – somewhere where there’s nature. Otherwise – when the weather’s not so good – I like to read in bed, with a dimly lit lamp, a cup of hot chocolate and my iPod.

Where’s the most unusual place that you’ve ever read a book? 

As I mentioned before, I like to get into the atmosphere of the book that I’m reading, so when I first read Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone I took it to my auntie’s house. She actually has a cupboard under the stairs. So I thought how – in Harry’s perspective  – would he feel, so I went into the cupboard to read a few chapters of the book. I didn’t stay there for much longer though, I couldn’t handle all the dust!

Thanks to Denise for the interview and photo, and a big thank you to Michael for sharing his reading habits with us!

Reading Ambassador #5 – Sai Ponnaganti

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve started The Hunger Games – I’ve read the first one & the third one [Mockingjay] & I’m reading the second one at the moment [Catching Fire] – it’s not really confusing reading them this way, it makes sense – for me. The first one was really involving & engaging; the third one is better, but darker. I’ve also started reading Shiver  [Maggie Stiefvater], it’s about vampires & a bit chick lit, but I like it.

What was you first reading memory?

It  would probably be reading TinTin & Asterix  – I read them all. They’re really funny – I didn’t actually pick up on all the puns in Asterix at the time, but I looked through them again when I was older – all the way through, they’re all puns. They’re so good. I also read Star Wars books & Aussie Bite stuff, too. I remember in kindergarten correcting the teacher for skipping out parts of the stories that were being read to us – that really annoyed me.

Where’s the most unusual place that you’ve ever read a book?

That would probably be while walking – in Year 3 I got into trouble from my parents & teachers because I was walking upstairs reading – I literally was reading while I walked everywhere. I never fell or tripped – you get used to it.

What book / story has made a lasting impression upon you?

The story that has made a really great impression on me because I didn’t like the character was probably Perfume [Patrick Suskind] – it was horrible & I couldn’t get it out of my head. He was a totally psychotic character & his actions were disgusting. I don’t really want to remember it but can’t help it.
There are a few books that I remember in a positive way – Harry Potter, for example, & The Hunger Games will stay with me because it’s so realistic – the third one in particular – and I can really empathize with the characters, especially the main character even though I found her really annoying at the same time. I felt the same with His Dark Materials [Philip Pullman] – I felt a great deal of empathy with the characters & felt quite depressed at the end.

Thanks, Sai, for sharing your reading background with us, and to Denise for the interview and photo.