Special Launches in Sydney

We’ve hosted many special book launches in our time, celebrating authors from all over Australia. But one in particular is a little more special…

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Special, by Melanie Dimmitt is the curious, casual and conversational companion for parents in the early stages of navigating a child’s disability. When Melanie and her partner Rohan found out their six-month old son Arlo was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they thought their lives had turned upside down. And beneath the pages of Special, you’ll come to know that they did – for the better.

Mel writes: ‘When Arlo was younger, as we traipsed the footpaths of our suburb, I used to look at other mothers pushing prams and feel bit­ter. What could they possibly have to worry about? I would inter­nally grumble. Nowadays, I look at them and wonder, what is their private struggle? And marvel at how, from across the street, I too am just another mother pushing a pram.’

Special was launched at Better Read Than Dead in Newtown last week. Led by journalist and author Amy Molloy, Melanie spoke with Joanna Avramides, mother to Tilly, who has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, and Jaynie Johnson, mother of Dare, who has down syndrome, and founder of the Lucky Mama Network.

The three mothers spoke of what it was like to find out the diagnosis (speechless), to their thoughts on the future (uplifting, inspiring and full of opportunities), and the importance of storytelling (to heal, to change ideas, and to facilitate connections).

They spoke of the taboos around disabilities, and dealing with other peoples’ expectations and reactions. In short, not caring is the best option, and changing the conversation around disability and inclusivity is one important (but challenging) task.

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Amy closed the night with a reading from the end of Special, which sums up a lot learnt from the evening.

“The week of my writing this conclusion we trialed a modified pram for Arlo – a double, so that his sister can come along for the ride – that’s about as inconspicuous as a drag queen in a monas­tery. Our path continues to diverge off the main road and, in many ways, our challenges are only just beginning. I’m very aware that the ‘cute’ baby and toddler stage of parenting a child with disability is golden, and am grateful that this coincides with early years, at a time when we are most emotionally volatile. Yes, invasive surger­ies, wheelchair discussions, schooling decisions and conversations with Arlo (and Odette) about his disability are coming. But I know I will handle them. I know I will be okay when things aren’t okay. I know I will be happy when things aren’t okay, because I am. I truly am – and not just during the big, breakthrough moments, but in all the non-moments, too. When Arlo laughs at Odette after she’s swiped her dinner clear off the table. When Rowan reads them both Goodnight, Mice!, as they nestle into the crooks of his arms. When Arlo gives me that look that only he and I share, and as I watch him thoughtfully taking in the world with boundless curiosity.

None of us are immune to life’s curve balls. Things will happen, and I’ve chosen to accept those terms. I’ve chosen to follow my son’s lead, look to our future with curiosity, not fear, and take comfort in knowing we will cope. We will freaking flourish.

And so will you.”

You can find out more about Special here.

The launch of Storytime

August marked a time to celebrate children’s literature – from the much-loved Book Week, to the launch of Jane Sullivan’s Storytime. And what a time to talk about a love of literature and the impact it has on our lives – both young and old.

Earlier in the month, Readings Carlton hosted the Melbourne launch of Storytime, featuring an enthralling and engaging conversation between Jane and literary editor of The Age, Jason Steger.

This week, Newtown’s Better Read Than Dead hosted a conversation with Jane and deputy editor of Spectrum, Melanie Kembrey. 

The rooms were filled with book lovers and authors of all genres including Andy Griffiths, Angela Savage, Angela Meyer, Leah Kaminsky, Lee Kofman, Emily Bitto and more.  

Jane spoke of her childhood with her head buried in books, reading stories late into the night. She spoke of her parents’ love of literature and art, which they undoubtedly passed on to her. Jane even mentioned how words enthralled her so much that she even took time to read the cornflake cereal packet – just to have something to read. And she spoke of how her love for literature has guided her career as a journalist and as an author.

Jump into Storytime with Jane, and find yourself lost in a world of adventure, nostalgia, and unique voices that will guide you through the years to come.

Jane Sullivan with Melanie Kembrey at Better Read Than Dead

Jane Sullivan with Melanie Kembrey at Better Read Than Dead

Lee Kofman's latest book, Split, launches in Melbourne and Sydney

June saw the launch of Lee Kofman’s latest work, Split - an anthology of work featuring stories of leaving, loss and new beginnings from some of Australia’s most admired authors. After being in the works for a couple of years, Split has finally come to life.

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Lee summed up the beginnings of this book on endings…

“Two years ago, a writer’s dream came true for me. Jane Curry of Ventura Press suggested I edit an anthology of personal essays about endings. We’ll call it Split, she said. I was thrilled. Split is the kind of ending that makes me think of wounds, pain, blood, bile. It’s an ending where the stakes are just as high as the suffering endured. Death, exile, the leaving of a beloved, the passing of youth. The kind of ending from where a lot of great literature springs: Antigone, The Tempest, The Cherry Orchard

On a personal level, too, the theme felt urgent to me, having done by now two migrations and three marriages. What mattered to me was that this anthology, as a whole, wouldn’t sit in the realm of so-called inspirational self-help. I wanted real life, not a fantasy, on Split pages, and, luckily, contributors delivered just that.”

The Melbourne launch was held at The Avenue Bookstore, launched by award-winning novelist Sofie Laguna in conversation with Dmetri Kakmi and Kate Goldsworthy. The room was filled with friends, family, writers and readers, and everyone left in stitches of laughter.

The Sydney launch, held upstairs at Better Read Than Dead, was launched by accomplished journalist Tracey Spicer, in conversation with Peter Bishop, Sunil Badami and Kerri Sackville, who discussed their writing process and the emotional aftermath of each of their ‘splits’.

Of the writing process, Peter Bishop said “Lee has enabled us to become more of ourselves than we knew we could be.” And Lee, speaking of editing such complex tales, said she witnessed how emotionally and artistically taxing the essays were for many of the authors.

“I saw the discomfort, doubt and feelings of vulnerability that were their companions during the writing process. Yet it was these difficult companions who also made the resulting works real, deep, and exciting.”

With words of wisdom from all involved, and many signed copies leaving the bookstores, the launch of Split proved to be a success.

You can find out more about Split and Lee Kofman here