Book Review: The North Water by Ian McGuire

North Water is another book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016. Set in 1857, the story is about a whaling expedition which goes horribly wrong. There is conflict between two main characters, Drax, a disgusting and violent man and Sumner, a doctor.

The opening line “Behold the man” sparked my interest. The next paragraph led me down a path of the grotesque. The ensuing pages unfolded such violence, savagery and cruelty that I was tempted not to read on.

Drax and Sumner have dubious and contrasted pasts but we only learn about Sumner. I wondered what must have happened, for a man to become like Drax, who in the end, like the rest of the characters, I cared nothing for.

This book without formal warning is not for the faint hearted. I wondered if it was necessary to describe the killing of baby seals in such horrific detail. For me, this sort of violence was unnecessarily graphic and added little to the plot. Toning down the violence would have enhanced the book. The reader gets that it’s a tough life and harsh conditions without it being rammed constantly down our throats. The only thing that compelled me forward was the fact that there was another purpose for the expedition which becomes clear half-way through. Getting past this point, the story becomes one of survival which gripped me until the end. I wanted good to overcome evil and was rewarded for my patience, but what a journey I had to take to get there. Well written with evocative language, the fact that I shivered with the men in the freezing conditions, is a testament to where the author wanted me to be.

Read it if you dare.

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Where did June go?

I mean the month of June, of course. Apart from the plunge in temperature in Melbourne, a lot’s happened. My book of short stories, Out of Nowhere was published. My webpage had a makeover. I held my first radio interview. My book was officially launched and I’ve made a further dent into my current novel. Whew!

Publishing a book means getting it out there to let readers know. I shot off a bunch of emails to libraries, distributors, and book stores. The two book stores who have my first book happily agreed to stock my second. Goodreads held a giveaway for five copies and 853 people from around the world entered; 300 put it on their book shelf to read. I did a couple of ads on Facebook with mixed results but overall got some good exposure. How that translates into sales is too early to say.

The radio interview was done a few weeks ago on 3SER 97.7 Casey community radio on a show called Viewpoints. I chose to pre-record it and was surprised how easy it was to talk about my work. Of course the host, Henry Grossek was the consummate professional and made it very easy by asking all the right questions.

Soon after I held my book launch on June 24th at the Wheelers Hill library with a good crowd in attendance. Book sales helped to defray the costs of publication. Award winning YA author, Nicole Hayes launched my collection with a wonderful speech. The support and encouragement I received from everyone was nothing short of phenomenal and the reviews so far have been very complimentary.

Amongst this feverish activity, I finally worked out the ending of my next novel, A Perfect Stone. Now on to finish my second draft then constant rework for the next few months.
Yes, it’s been busy.

So now there are two.

 

Joining the publication of Climbing the Coconut Tree is Out of Nowhere which was released 31 May 2017.

Unlike my first book which is an historical fiction, Out of Nowhere  is a collection of short stories written over the last eighteen months.

Everyone has a story to tell and I was often inspired by other peoples stories or the things that just happen. So a theme began developing about how the unexpected can take us by surprise.

There are sixteen short stories. The Surprise follows a mother and son’s life changing journey; in The River, a woman sees something she wishes she hadn’t. In the title story, a man tries to understand his wife – too late.

Feel free to take a peek at the book trailer or the book.
https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/book-trailer-out-of-nowherehttps://

Amazon

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Book Trailer: Out of Nowhere

Presenting my book trailer for Out of Nowhere: A collection of short stories.

A huge thank you to the very talented Jonny Lynch who put the trailer together; to Anthony Guardabascio  from Continue.com.au and to Con Karakaltsas for the  watercolour painting from which the cover art work has been adapted.

Hope you love it as much as I do.

Cover Unveiling Coming Soon

I’ve done this before.

So you’d think I could decide on a cover fairly quickly. It should be an easy process. But it’s not. Anthony, my cover designer has the patience of a saint.

I chew on my fingernails and ponder. Is the art work right? Is the font the right size; is it in the right spot? Does the blurb make any sense to anyone else but me? Is the layout good enough? Is it eye catching enough? Then finally I think it’s nailed and I stuff up the dimensions of the book. And I find out that size really does matter. So many things to think about.
Yes, getting the book cover right is time consuming.

So where is the cover for ‘Out of Nowhere’, you ask? Coming out soon.

How do you take your books?

The other day someone asked, “How do you take your books?”
“With a cup of tea or a gin and tonic depending on the time of the day,” I replied with a grin.
But it got me thinking.

With bulging bookcases and little space, some years ago, I began reading my books electronically saving space and weight particularly when on holiday or travelling. Reading on my iPad meant I didn’t have to search for the best lighting – I could just take it with me. Simple and easy. The cost of electronic books was also very affordable which meant I could buy more. With so many advantages to reading on a device, why don’t more people buy and read their books that way?

Perhaps it was a fad but I find myself now reverting back to the good old paperback. I like to hold it and flip the pages back and forwards. To read the blurb on the back cover, inside cover, to look at the artwork. Sure I can do that electronically, but I like the feel of it in my hands. Sometimes I just don’t want to look at another screen.

 I like to read in bed – a paperback doesn’t hurt as much as a dropped iPad on the face. Yes, that has happened to me. I bought a new book shelf and I actually love to look at my books – I don’t get that same feeling with the books on my device. Sometimes, I scan the shelf, pick a book I’ve already read, open it anywhere and start reading. I’m also fussy when I buy a paperback not just because it’s more expensive but it has to earn its place on the tight real estate space of my book shelf.

I haven’t totally given up electronic books- I still get them occasionally. Now I’m thinking about audio books. I can listen while I’m out walking or driving and I like that idea.

Thinking about that question again, I’d say, I take my books in a variety of forms but I prefer the paperback.

What about you?

It’s my anniversary.

Twelve months ago I launched my debut novel, ‘Climbing the Coconut Tree.’ Three years ago I commenced my writing journey, made a heap of mistakes and learnt a lot along the way.  How time flies.

So how’s it been going?

Here’s my report card on Climbing the Coconut Tree-:

  • It received 23 reviews across various sites.
  • It’s available to buy across UK, Europe, USA, Australia and NZ in print format and across more than 70 worldwide digital platforms including Amazon, Kobo and Apple.
  • E-book sales are 12.6% of my total sales.
  • It’s available in seven libraries and two independent book stores in Melbourne.
  • Three book groups have included it on their list.
  • It’s travelled the length and breadth of Australia, across the Pacific to the US and  Europe in the hands of multiple readers, many of whom have embraced the beach lifestyle and drink of choice, gin and tonic.
  • It’s been spotted with a number of celebrities, including past Presidents, sportspeople and movie stars although they may have been in a wax museum . . . see my earlier post on that one https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/whos-reading-my-book/

What else is coming?

My collection of short stories, ‘Out of Nowhere’ is completed and once the cover is finalised will be released shortly.

A short story, On the Side of a Hill was recently published in the Monash Writers Anthology. Another called, ‘The Surprise’ was short listed in the Lane Cove Literary Awards in 2016. Both stories will be available in my collection.

I’m also working on another historical novel called, ‘The Perfect Stone’  set during the Greek Civil War in 1948. Hopefully it will be out in 2018.

Whew! I guess I have been just a little bit busy.