I’m both relieved and delighted to announce the publication of Perspectives with its innovative approach of offering a hybrid collection of story and memoir – and which, of all my books so far, might just have something for everyone.
Sad, happy, funny, true, the stories are told from a multitude of different viewpoints or perspectives that turn the spotlight on some of the major issues of our time. A schoolteacher steels himself against a pupil’s attempt at seduction; the life of a young mother changes due to an impulsive but, as it turns out, opportune purchase; an out-of-work artist finds that all is not lost after all; a boy and his dog fight the system; and a lost and lonely young man finds an unexpected friend – but is it too late? There’s even a cricketing story – although sadly, given our current cricket shame in Australia, that might not be seen as a plus at this moment in time.
In the memoir component of the volume, I examine the largely unrecognised dis-ease of homesickness in the light of my mother’s struggle with chronic longing for Africa, investigate my own emotions on discovering my Jewish background, relate the inspirational story of an elderly friend who found romance in her nineties, and in a series of three short pieces, Once Were Immigrants, once again underscore the essential human need for connection.
As a postscript, I decided to take the unusual step of including a story written by my late father, Ken Coton, who in his earlier years was a short story writer and, a little later, a journalist working for Keith Murdoch on the Melbourne Herald. Then Came Fury tells another story of connection in its portrayal of the mutual love and trust of a young jockey and a racehorse.
Perspectives stands as an example of real teamwork that starts with the unwavering support and encouragement from my husband Richard and my family and continues with thanks to a number of people including my terrific South African editor Camilla Singh. In particular, I would like to express my thanks and deep appreciation to Professor Dennis Haskell, AM, for taking the time to read these stories and for his endorsement on the back cover of this edition. But Perspectives underwent yet another serendipitous moment in its gestation after my cover designer Su Halfwerk rejected a couple of archive photos I had suggested. I was on a time-consuming search of the archives for possible alternatives when my inbox pinged with a photo from my son Viv Tansley taken during his latest four-wheel-drive expedition the weekend before. When I opened the attachment, quite apart from its obvious quality, to me the photo quite clearly signalled ‘perspective’. I shot it off to Su who gave it a big tick on both quality and suitability (with the proviso that Viv agreed to its reproduction) — and we were away. I hope you love it, too, and that this is a book that really lives up to its cover! So thanks to Viv for letting us use it — and to Su for not being satisfied first-up.
A number of pieces in this collection — both fiction and non-fiction and including my father’s story — have won awards in national competitions, been published in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies, and broadcast both nationally and internationally. The paperback edition of Perspectives: Story & Memoir will be released in Australia and the rest of the world from April 24 and can be pre-ordered/purchased via Amazon, Booktopia et al.
I know it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find the time to comment on separate blogs these days, but if you find the time to read Perspectives, I would greatly appreciate feedback as to whether the story/memoir mix works for you. And if there’s a particular piece you find thought-provoking, I’d love to hear that too.
Meanwhile, just a reminder that PEN is once again starting up in Perth. Perth PEN is a branch of a non-profit national and international network that seeks to protect the rights of writers and works to safeguard freedom of expression. The upcoming meeting at Centre for Stories in Aberdeen Street, Perth, this Thursday, April 5, promises to be a thoroughly interesting evening. For further details, check out Centre for Stories at http://www.centreforstories.com and hope to see you there.
Photo credit: Viv Tansley