AWW2012 Wrap-up

When I signed up for the Australian Women Writers challenge, I opted for “Franklin-fantastic” level: read 10 books and review four.

My reading selections weighed heavily in favour of literary works and crime, so I’m more of a “Dabbler” than an “Devoted Eclectic”, despite the name of this review blog, but I did manage to include some other genres, including historical fiction/romance, children’s fiction and contemporary women’s fiction.

The first three books are ones I discussed in depth. With Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy, I gave a personal response, rather than a review. The remainder are books I either wrote a (sometimes very brief) review on Good Reads, or didn’t review.

  1. Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (Literary fiction)
  2. “What’s all the fuss about?” Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing (Historical fiction/romance)
  3. “Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy and the challenge to moral thinking; or Towards a Systems’ Theory view of Subjectivity” (Young Adult/literary fiction):
  4. PM Newton, The Old School (Literary crime fiction; debut author)
  5. Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sea Castle (Children’s fiction)
  6. Angela Savage, The Half-Child (Crime fiction)
  7. Melanie Joosten, Berlin Syndrome (Literary crime fiction; debut author)
  8. Favel Parrett, Past the Shallows (Literary fiction; debut author)
  9. Rosalie Ham, Summer at Mount Hope (Historical fiction)
  10. Lisa Heidke, Stella Makes Good (Contemporary women’s fiction)

For this challenge I went out of my comfort zone. Apart from readings books by friends, it’s years since I read literary fiction, children’s stories, historical romance or contemporary women’s fiction. My preferred genre is psychological suspense.

What surprised me was how much I enjoyed the books for which I’m clearly not the target audience. I could easily become a fan of Lisa Heidke, for example, and I’d like to read some adult fantasy by Tansy Rayner Roberts. One book I was very excited to discover and which has remained with me was PM Newton’s debut novel, The Old School, which blends literary fiction and crime. But the stand out for me was Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy. I’ll let my review/discussion reveal why.

I intend to continue reading books by Australian women writers throughout 2012 and to coordinate the AWW blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page, but for now I plan to take a break and concentrate on my own writing. (This post has been cross-posted with my personal blog.)

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28 Comments

  1. All your hard work with AWW challenge is appreciate, Elizabeth. Enjoy your writing time – you deserve it!

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  2. Great reference. Best wishes for your own writing!

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  3. Well done, Elizabeth! You’ve put so much energy into the AWW challenge, with the organising as well as reading and reviewing. I saw you got a mention in Saturday’s Herald! Good luck with your writing.

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  4. Well done completing the challenge Elizabeth! You’ve been tireless working hard to promote it everywhere and I hope you enjoy taking some time to spend on your own writing. Best of luck with that!

    Bree x

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    • Thanks, Bree. I’m looking forward to getting back into my own story world – even though I still have lots of AWW books I still want to read. It’s great to have them tucked away, waiting for another break.

      One thing I’ve noticed after reading so many wonderful writers is that I have a long way to go with my own writing! They set a fantastic example.

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  5. I thought Dog Boy was an amazing feat of imagination too, and so well realised. Thanks for all your AWW efforts,
    Cheers
    Lisa

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  6. Well done! You´ve done a great work with the AWW challenge. It´s so fun to take part in it. I take it a bit slow, I´ll plan to let it last all year. Enjoy your writing. I´m looking forward to read it you know! Lots of love from Sweden! Ann-Marie

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    • Thanks, Ann-Marie. I’ll continue throughout the year, too, when I need a break from my own writing. But it’s great to have reached that 10-book goal. Lots of love from Katoomba!

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  7. Congrats. I’m 7 books read and 7 reviewed but have a big pile of review copies to read and they are slanted in favour of male authors. I will keep going for the rest of the year as its been a rewarding challenge anyway.

    I made the commitment last year to try and get as close to a 50:50 gender split in my reviewing last year > ended up with 40: 60.

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    • Thanks, Sean. It’ll be interesting to see how the gender balance pans out for you this year. I saw your post on speaking as a feminist. It’s so tricky, isn’t it? Thanks for being one of the few male readers/reviewers to join in the challenge. Your own contribution is much appreciated.

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  8. I am still yet to run across that poorer quality fiction that certain people say might creep in when you implement quotas :). All the women I have read this year have been top flight.

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  9. Hi Elizabeth, as a result of your challenge I’ve been sure to post on Goodreads many of the female Australian writers who I’ve read to date and really enjoyed. And I’m not done yet! I’m making a point of reading as many books by female Australian writers as I can. Thanks so much for taking the initiative to bring Australian women writers to the public’s attention. Cheers! 🙂

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    • That’s great, Christine. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the challenge. I knew nothing about Good Reads before creqting the challenge and it’s been great to see so many books reviewed there. I’m still coming across names of Aussie authors I’ve never heard of (just today on Twitter I learned of two new ones). I hope the challenge has some positive impact on the problem of gender bias. At the very least, by the end of the year, I think quite a few of us will know our authors a whole lot better than we do now.

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  10. Congratulations on finishing the challenge so soon Elizabeth! I’m really enjoying this challenge, it’s been lovely to discover new Aussie talent and share thoughts on books by local authors.
    Jayne

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    • Thanks, Jayne. I’ve really been enjoying it, too. And I’ve met a few authors along the way as well.

      You haven’t seen the last of me, by the way, but it’s great to achieve a milestone and take time out for my own writing. I’ll also try to get round to read a few more reviews.

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  11. Well done Elizabeth. I was astonished to see how many had completed the challenge. I’ve now read 4 of my planned 10, in 3 “genres”, but it will be a little while before I complete it. I do have all year, right!!?

    Anyhow, thanks for getting this going. This is the first challenge I’ve taken part in in nearly three years of blogging. Challenges aren’t my thing – except this one of course!

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    • Thanks, Sue. I’m very glad you’ve joined in.

      Yes, the challenge goes all year, so there’s plenty of time to post reviews. Some people had time off work in January and devoted themselves to the task. Others are just amazingly quick readers. Some (like me) wanted to complete in order to refocus on other commitments – like writing – but I doubt any of those who have finished will stop at ten!

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  12. sally906

     /  April 25, 2012

    I have finished the challenge but like you I am continuing to read Australian Women authors – was blown away how many there actually are.

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    • Isn’t it amazing, Sally? I’m still coming across amazing, prize-winning authors. I could read for years and still not get through them all. I’m glad you’ll be continuing to read AWW – and please feel free to keep adding your reviews to the challenge page.

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    • I’m so thrilled that this challenge is introducing people to the wealth of Australian women writers. It’s astonishing what breadth and depth we have — women have played a significant role in the development of Aussie lit. Just think Miles Franklin at the turn of the century and her impact AND then in the 1920s and 30s women played leading roles in the development of the Fellowship of Australian writers and in negotiating with government to provide support for literature and writers.

      This is a wonderful initiative Elizabeth.

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  1. Aussie Author Challenge 2012 « Devoted Eclectic

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