Welcome to my website. I'm a Papuan-born novelist and writer of both short fiction and non-fiction, with a strong focus on writing that is evocative of time and place. That comes from half a lifetime spent working for international organisations and travelling around Europe, Asia and the Americas - and from a mixed Scots, English and Nordic ancestry. Despite 35 years in the space industry I don't only (or even principally) write Sci-fi but have an equally strong interest in the absurdities and sometime obscenities of corporate life.
They say that anyone who knows two cultures lives two lives. One of the oddities of being an Anglo-Australian family is living with the constant awareness of what’s happening on the opposite side of the world – which is opposite in so many ways.
The most obvious contrast right now is the weather, where Britain is revelling in “Snowmaggedon” while Oz is suffering the most extreme heatwave ever recorded. January stayed above 30 degrees every day in NSW and there have been temperatures in the mid-40s for days on end, as a hellish culmination of years of drought (unless you are in north Queensland, in which case you’re probably under water).
As if this needed emphasising, we held an Australia Day party on 26th January where the inside of our house was filled with reminders of the heat and sunshine Down Under, while outside it was pissing down with rain and freezing cold.
I’ve also just finished reading Jane Harper’s great debut novel, “The Dry”, which perfectly captures the feeling of the heat and drought in rural, inland Australia over the last few years.
Probably as a result of all this, we started going through old photographs and found some from this time of year a dozen years back, when a bunch of us went to the races in rural Australia. That trip inspired the story “Last Race at Dederang”, which you can find under the “Awards” tab above. If you want to know what the current heat wave feels like, the picture I’ve posted there gives a taste of it.
So, which do I prefer – England or Oz, too hot or too cold? It’s an impossible choice: each has it’s own upsides and downsides and they are both equal and different. The only good answer is that it’s a wonderful blessing, to be able to keep going back and forth and living two different lives.
Why is publication day like New Year’s Day? Because after all the anticipation, nothing much happens. Both are arbitrary dates that we try to instil with a significance that they don’t really have. We throw parties to celebrate them precisely because there would otherwise be nothing to distinguish them from the days on either side.
Except, of course, that publication day does provide us with something tangible to show. Granted, many of the sales are now virtual sales of eBooks; and online bookshops like Amazon enable pre-orders; but still, after long gestation the author’s baby has finally emerged into the world. Pregnancy is a good analogy for the long drawn out effort to create a book, so perhaps publication day can best be thought of as childbirth without the pain.
This time around I decided to dispense with the book launch party (or rather, to merge it into an Australia Day party, when everyone has got over the post-Christmas blues and the self-flagellation of “Dry January” and is gagging for some fun). Between then and now I have three weeks to grapple with one of the two great disadvantages of being born British: an inhibition when it comes to self-promotion. So, excuse me while I skip between three leading manifestations of the Anglo-Saxon psyche: the Brit, the American and the Aussie. I think I just might enjoy this..
In keeping with my new American persona, if you have trouble finding the paperback version of Searching for Satu on Amazon and can only see the eBook, just click on the author link to Alan Brunstrom that is shown under the eBook title. It will take you to a page where you can find the paperback and place an order. Just saying.
It’s always exciting to receive the first proofs of your new book: and I’ve just received them for the paperback version of Searching for Satu. She has been out of print for 18 years, so this is pretty special. I actually have two versions sitting on my desk: one from Amazon and the other from IngramSpark. The production characteristics are slightly different, in ways that only interest the author; but I’m very happy with both of them.
I particularly like the cover, designed by Jessica Bell of IPA, which manages to capture the spirit of the book and to provide a link to the original Citron Press edition, in the form of the hands reaching for each other across a lake.
Satu is also available as an eBook with both IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing. Pre-orders are already open, in advance of the official publication day on 5th January. Between then and now my I’m focused on a promotional campaign that involves a lot of things that I haven’t done for years. It’s lovely to get back into the groove of being a published author; and although this will be a soft launch for a 2nd edition, rather than a big bang for a first publication, it’s great preparation for the next two books that I aim to publish by 2020.