An Australian author living in Norway

Tag: anthology

Uncomfortable truths

In the flurry of stress and activity that has been the pulling together of the second Oslo Writers’ League anthology, I almost forgot to contribute a piece myself. In the end, I ran so short on time I had to dig through my short story stock and find something already written, then repurpose it. In this case, where the themes were “Identity” and “Crossroads”, I decided the best fit was a non-fiction piece I wrote under pressure from a former colleague who was fascinated by my discomfort with all things Australian. Being homeless—in the sense of never having really felt “at home” anywhere—is a sensitive subject for me, and writing the piece was both unsettling and revealing. Even when it was complete, I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t very well submit it to Australian journals, not when, to my mind at least, it was unpatriotic to the point of being insulting. But would foreign journals understand it? Or, more importantly, care what it was saying? I doubted it (as I often doubt myself—it’s a writer’s prerogative). So I put it away and tried not to think about it.

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Who is Selina Carr?

Amidst the flurry of activity that is NaNoWriMo, I am taking a moment to talk about the other project that has been keeping me busy in the last couple of months, and to introduce you to a writer friend of mine by the name of Selina Carr. Hi! She’s me. I’m her. And we’ve written a fairytale that is about to be published in a stunning hardback book at the end of November by Tenebris Books (if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know about my connection there). Willow, Weep No More is a book of traditionally-inspired fairytales and fables that aim to capture the magic of classic fairytales while exploring the themes of inner beauty, wisdom and strength.

Yesterday was the cover reveal, and as you can see, it’s a thing of beauty. As is the rest of the book—believe me, I’ve read it many times already, given that I am the editor. But why would I credit some non-existent person with writing the story I contributed? There are lots of reasons writers adopt a nom de plume, but my reasons were two-fold:

  1. I have some ideas floating around in my (very full) brain, and some of them are for readers much younger than those I currently write for under my own name. The Eidolon Cycle contains a lot of death, some fairly horrific violence, and as such I would never recommend it for anyone under the age of fifteen or sixteen. So, if I later wrote something intended for ten year olds, and a ten year old loved it and went looking online for something else Zoë Harris had written, he or she would find titles intended for a much older reader. If I ever do write something for younger readers, I will do it under the name “Selina Carr”, and the story in Willow, Weep No More under that name would be fine for someone of that age to read.
  2. The second reason is ego. No, not to promote it, to deemphasize it. This book is very important to me, and I want it to be viewed by potential readers for what it is, and that is not a platform for me to publish my own work. I was torn about whether to contribute anything at all for exactly this reason, but I love fairytales so much I just couldn’t not write something for it. So, while it is a great thing to put my name to something I’m incredibly proud of, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of the other authors and illustrators who have contributed so much wonderful work. It is my imprint’s first publication, and I want it to be taken seriously, and judged on the merit of its contents. It can’t be “The Zoë Book and other stories”.

So, if I don’t want to confuse my readers, and I’m not about ego, why am I telling everyone who reads my blog? For starters, anyone who knows me personally will crack my code in seconds (Selina is my middle name, and Carr is my partner’s surname). But really, it’s not a secret meant to be kept under lock and key. It’s a branding distinction in the first instance, and an exercise in humility in the second. I truly do want my friends, family, and anyone who is interested in what I do to know about this book, not only because I want to hear their thoughts on my own contribution, but because I want them to read the other stories in the book—stories that are beautiful, poignant, enchanting and full of all the wonder one would expect from a classic fairytale anthology.

North of the Sun…

If you’ve been wondering where the fairy tale posts have gone, it may appease you to know that they’ve taken a temporary backseat for a very good cause. I have been busy editing, proofreading and polishing fourteen great stories for the upcoming Oslo International Writers’ Group anthology, North of the Sun, South of the Moon: New Voices from Norway.

Today I’ve been working with fellow group member Chelsea Ranger to arrange our launch party. The e-book is set to launch on the 17th of May, to coincide with Norway’s grunnlovsdag (Constitution Day), with the paperback to follow in time for the party on the 7th of June. Profits from sales of the book will go to Utdanningshjelpen, a Norwegian charity which supports students in developing nations. The wonderful Anthony and Nicole from Cafe Fedora have offered to host the event at a steep discount, with the extra money raised from ticket sales to go directly to the charity.

The anthology has been written to two themes: Adaptation and North, and the pieces themselves range from short fiction to non-fiction to poetry. Some are uplifting, while others explore the darker side of human nature, but all together they make for a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

Book cover

The featured image on this post, The Wanderer, was painted by another talented OIWG member, Brian Talgo, and will grace the cover of the book, with the design by Ken Dawson. The book will be published by Holland House. And I can now reveal the actual cover:

I’m so excited to share these stories with you, and especially proud to be doing it for such a worthy cause.

I have two stories in this anthology, one a short fiction piece called The Social Animal, and the other a fictionalised account of real events, Far North, True North. These will appear alongside the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of seven of my talented fellow OIWG members:

Audrey Camp

Chelsea Ranger

Brian Talgo

Mauricio Ruiz

Evelinn Enoksen

Bree Switzer

Anna Maria Moore

If you’re in Oslo, you might like to join us at Café Fedora for the launch party on the 7th of June. Here are the details:

Date: 7th June 2013 at 7:00pm

Place: Café Fedora, Frognerveien 22, Oslo

Price: 200 NOK per person

Food and drinks are included in the ticket price, and you will also hear the authors give readings, have the opportunity to buy the book and/or donate directly to Utdanningshjelpen, as well as be in the running to win a signed copy of the book.

Tickets are limited, so please buy yours today! Café Fedora’s owners, Anthony and Nicole Juvera, have made it possible for all tickets sold for the launch event to support the charity, too. The Oslo International Writers’ Group is open to writers of all kinds in the Oslo area. We meet once a month. Find us on Facebook if you’re interested in joining. We are always happy to welcome new blood, and you don’t even have to bleed–I mean read–at your first meeting!

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