I’d love to take all the credit for creating my books but the truth is that no author works alone. Everyone knows that TV and movies are a collaborative artform but creating a book is often credited solely to the author. It’s true that writers toil away for months, years, alone writing, but there’s much more to book-making than those hours of bliss and torture at the laptop / notepad / typewriter.
So, here’s to all the fine humans who have helped in large and small ways in the creation of my new book, Detention. Sometimes it’s just one conversation in an illustrated bus on the way to a school visit, one email, a phone call, a comment, that can push you to the next epiphany on your story.
I’m particularly thankful for the guidance and advice of Jasmina Bajraktarevic and Hassan Rezayee from STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors), who took time to meet with me and answer my questions via email and to introduce me to other key people. Thanks to Sarah Dale from Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS), for guidance on the legal feasibility of Sima’s story. Thank you to Shukufa Tahiri, policy officer at the Refugee Council of Australia, and former refugee, for advice and encouragement. Thanks to Room to Read’s Jennie Orchard for reading the manuscript, giving valuable feedback and for introducing me to Jane Scott from the Asylum Seekers Centre, who made key introductions. Thank you to Lee Bruynius, super-dynamic literacy teacher, for sharing insights and Shaun Nemorrin for your help with the teacher resources.
Jeanne Ryckmans, Anthony Blair and Lisa Fagan at Cameron’s are incredibly supportive agents and I appreciate their belief, encouragement and everything they do to get my books out in the world. And to my speaking agents Sandie Fraser, Lauris Pandolfini, Erinna Skiotis and Beth and Paul MacDonald as well as the Byron Writers Fest StoryBoard team, who put me in front of thousands of readers every year, having conversations, reading excerpts and trying out works-in-progress.
The team at Penguin Random House Australia has, as always, been supportive, enthusiastic and insightful, giving me space to create and then tapping the DNA of the story in the editing process. For this I’m particularly thankful to publisher Zoe Walton, who I have been working with for twelve years now, and editor Kimberley Bennett, who also edited Two Wolves and The Fall. I’m super appreciative of the energy, generosity and creativity invested by the PRH team from Julie Burland to Laura Harris, Dorothy Tonkin, Zoe Bechara, Tina Gumnior, Angela Duke, Kate Sheahan, Michael Windle, Jennifer Harris, Nerrilee Weir, Eleanor Shorne-Holden and the rest of the editorial, marketing, publicity, production, sales and rights teams for believing in my writing.
Thanks to the authors and editors of the following books for giving me deep insight into life in an Australian immigration detention centre, the headspace of detainees and stateless people and the multitude of challenges faced when your home is too dangerous to return to but a new home has not accepted you yet.
- They Cannot Take the Sky, edited by Michael Green, André Dao, Angelica Neville, Dana Affleck and Sienna Merope
- The Power of Hope, Kon Karapanagiotidis
- No Friend But the Mountains, Behrouz Boochani
- Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Thanks to Marianne Bragge for a chat in the Byron Writers Festival StoryBoard bus that got me unstuck on draft three. The third draft is always the lowest point of my writing journey, the time when I wonder why I started writing something so challenging in the first place.Thanks to Brisbane Grammar School Year 7 boys for brainstorming the bus station scene and giving me insight into the transit centre.
To a group of amazing writers and friends – Jesse Blackadder, Zanni Louise, Sarah Armstrong, Sam Turnbull and Siboney Duff – for listening to early chapters and giving sage advice.
And to my beautiful, funny, supportive wife and dynamic sons, thanks for inspiring, entertaining and challenging me. Without them, this writing journey would be lonely and have far less meaning and purpose.
Thanks to the children’s and young adult writing community, too, for support and camaraderie (this is a fine group of humans), to the teachers and teacher- librarians who share our stories with readers, and to the booksellers who work so hard to get the right book into the right hands.
And to all the friends, family and colleagues I may not have mentioned who get behind my books and provoke me to think more deeply or consider a story from a perspective I might not have considered, thanks a million.
You can preorder the book through your local bookshop or you can preorder through online booksellers here.
There are currently signed books available through Booktopia, The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft, Pegi Williams Adelaide, The Younger Sun in Melbourne, Dymocks Camberwell and, by Thursday 27 June, Harry Hartog Woden.
You can read the first three chapters free here.