Thursday, July 16, 2009

Maerad as a red head!

And now, Portugal! I thought I had mixed up Spain and Portugal (for which neither nation would ever forgive me). But no, the Pellinor books are coming out in both places. Thanks to the Google ego alert, I stumbled across the cover for the Portuguese edition of The Gift - which translates into O Dom - and it looks pretty groovy. In one of the mysteries of cover art, Maerad has transformed into a rather pretty redhead, but she certainly has a Bardic eye.

Babelfish translating service also serves up some wondrous translatorese. "The Bertrand goes to edit “the Dom”, of Alison Croggon, Australian writer who already gained diverse prémios with its poetical workmanship, beyond being finalista of two Aurealis Awards," says the web page. "The first book of Alison Croggon published in Portugal, intitled the Dom, counts the history of a child who loses the parents in the war of Pellinor. Maerad, the child, comes to discover that it has one I astonish Dom, but does not know what to make with it. When it is only discovered by Cadvan, one of the great bards of lirigion, the truth of its inheritance is disclosed and Maerad will know that it has to survive to the forces of the darknesses. On this book it wrote the Bookseller that is “… a magical history that in remembers Tolkien to them. It is a full adventure of passion, cativantes personages and scenes of enormous beauty. The Dom is a powerful history and marks the beginning of a magnificent Saga fantástica."

I also does not know what to make with it, but those cativantes personages are Go!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh my - time to do some catching up

I've been bad on this blog. This is partly because I've been so busy on my other blog, Theatre Notes (for which I recently won a big prize, the biggest - and in fact, the only - prize for critical writing in Australia). But a side effect is that I've dropped the ball on my own writing lately. Ridiculous, I hear you cry! And I agree with you. So this is an attempt to catch up on some things.

Anyway, I do have some news. One is that The Gift (The Naming for any Americans reading) has just been bought by Poland. I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like in Polish! And yesterday I received copies of the Spanish edition, El Don, which is published by Ediciones Ambar. It is a gorgeously designed book - a hardback, in fact - with an eyecatching cover that is, for anyone who knows the story, rather mystifying - Maerad in woad? bows and arrows? ...and isn't that wolf from The Riddle? But no matter, the book really is very beautiful and lovely to hold, and I hope it entices a lot of Spanish readers to pick it up and read it!

And now, a bunch of YouTube Pellinor stuff. One of the great (and for me, wholly unexpected) pleasures of writing this series has been the creativity it sparks, not only among book designers, but among its fans. I've just spent a little time on YouTube, where to my astonishment I have found some fans have set some of my poems to music.

Here you can listen to Passionblack's version of the poem at the beginning of The Riddle, which is not exactly simple to set to music: I think it's glorious.

And behind this link is her lovely setting of a verse from my poem on Ardina and Ardhor.

Meanwhile, Littlelyric has made an exquisite song from The Lay of Adomian and Beruldh, which features in a charged moment at the beginning of The Gift. What can I say? I'm knocked out.

And if that's too much beauty for you, you can always contemplate Irc singing Evanescance's song Lithium. Which is a trailer for something called Pellinor The Musical. My goodness!!!

And with a merry disregard for copyright, here is another hopeful trailer for the upcoming (fictional) movie: I rather liked the pace of this.

And I also discovered ME, talking about the books. This was something I did for Penguin Books Australia a while back, and had forgotten about:

Sorry again for so neglecting this blog. I am, you will be glad to know, halfway through my next book: its working title is The River and the Book, a short (and very different) book with a heroine called Sim whom I am already very fond of. And a very opinionated cat called Mely whom I can't seem to prevent from wanting to take over the story. The bad news is that I've been stuck for the past three months. But fingers crossed, it will begin to move again soon.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Parallel importation: a disaster for Australian writers

Update: The Australian Publishers Association, the Printing Industry Association of Australia, the Australian Literary Agents’ Association and the Australian Society of Authors have banded together to form Australians for Australian Books. Those concerned at the proposed changes can sign their petition online, which is a counter to Dymock's aggressive campaign which misleadingly claims to be about cheaper books for consumers. I urge everyone interested in Australian literature to do so, and before this Friday, the deadline for responses to the Draft Proposal.

Below is a slightly extended version of my submission to the Productivity Commission, which is presently
conducting a study on the copyright restrictions on the parallel importation of books. Parallel importation is the practice of importing overseas editions of books which are already available here through Australian publishers. The recommendation in the present draft report is that copyright restrictions are dropped after 12 months. The commission claims, on its own admission on slender or non-existent evidence, that this will make books cheaper for consumers.

By effectively removing ownership of the copyright of a book in a writer's home country, this would have a devastating effect on Australian publishers. And also on Australian writers. Publishers, agents, authors, unions, many readers and most booksellers are overwhelmingly against changing the present situation (their submissions can be read online here and here).

I would like to register my opposition to the proposal to lift restrictions on the parallel importation of books. Such a move would have a significant impact on my ability to earn an income as a writer.

I make my living from the sales of my popular fantasy books, and am now - for the first time in two decades of writing - earning an independent income. This means I no longer apply for grants from the Australia Council to support the production of my poetry and prose. The income from my fantasy books subsidises my poetry (I am a prize-winning and internationally published poet) and the theatre criticism I write on my blog Theatre Notes, both time-consuming activities I pursue for reasons other than financial reward.

My fantasy books are published first in Australia, by Penguin Books Australia, and overseas publication follows in the UK, the US and Europe. This means that there are at least two English language editions of my books sold overseas, as well as the Penguin editions.

There is a small but significant fact that is being glossed by booksellers’ blithe claims that authors “still earn their royalties”. I earn a significantly higher percentage of royalties from books sold in Australia than from those sold overseas. Books that are published and sold here earn me the full 10 per cent royalty of the cover price. Books that are sold in overseas markets often have a smaller royalty – ranging from 6 to 8 per cent – and after that, under the agreements from my original publisher, I lose from 25 to 50 per cent of the gross royalty to the original publisher. This is a standard agreement which publishers all over the world use to ensure that their initial investment in an author is financially recognised.

This means that for every book sold in Australia that is NOT published by Penguin, I could lose up to half – or more – of the income I would earn if it were published by the local publisher. Worse, if a foreign publisher decided to dump remaindered copies on the Australian market, I would earn precisely nothing.

The Australian market is a significant proportion of the income that I generate as an author. And this is why territorial copyright is important to my financial independence.

Territorial copyright is a right for all authors in the United Kingdom and America. Neither of those countries, for good reason, is considering abolishing this protection for their own authors. Under the Productivity Commission’s suggested changes to the copyright law, Australian writers will no longer be able to compete on the same terms with writers in these countries.

My books are selling much more strongly now, seven years after they were first released, than when they were first published. The 12 month rule would only punish their further success, and would provide no protection for years of hard labour to writers like myself, who depend on a book’s steady longevity rather than a burst of sales.

The argument as presented by those who seek to lift restrictions is that it would make books cheaper for the consumer, and that those who oppose it are greedy corporate publishers. This is a populist argument with little regard for facts: the relative expensiveness of Australian books is far from proven, and it is less than certain that removing restrictions of parallel importation would make books any cheaper. And it certainly ignores the potential impact on authors.

The best way to make books cheaper for consumers would be to make them exempt from the GST. It was always a scandal that books were included in the first place.

This proposal would have a devastating impact on the local publishing industry – it certainly had negative effects when it was introduced in New Zealand, where the publishing industry now struggles to survive – which, on top of cutting my income, would have indirect effects as well on my ability to continue to write and publish in this country.

The only benefits that seem likely are increased profits for some retailers, from being able to import cheap or remaindered copies of books. This limited benefit would come at a heavy price to our presently healthy and competitive publishing culture, and would significantly affect the diversity of the books available to consumers.

My situation is far from singular. Artists are routinely urged to become self-sufficient, but parallel importation would make this goal even more difficult than it already is. If the Rudd Government claims to be backing a Creative Australia, why is it entertaining a proposal which would make it much harder for authors to earn a living, in a profession in which earning a decent living is already a rarity?

April 9, 2009

Alison Croggon is a poet, novelist and theatre critic based in Melbourne. As a poet, she won the Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore Prizes, and has been shortlisted for several Premier’s Poetry Awards. Her critically acclaimed fantasy quartet The Books of Pellinor is a popular success in Europe, England and the US and was shortlisted in three categories in the Aurealis Awards, as well as being a Children’s Book Council recommended book. She is Melbourne theatre critic for the Australian newspaper and runs the theatre blog, Theatre Notes.


Friday, March 13, 2009


We all love a competition, don't we? And now there's a special Pellinor comp, to celebrate the US release of The Singing, in which you can win a copy of the rather smart galleys Candlewick distributes before the books are printed in their final form. All you have to do is to visit the updated (and rather beautiful) Candlewick website for the books. (Afternote: Actually, they've done alot to the website, and there are all sorts of unexpected goodies there - it's well worth a browse!)

Not to mention - which I only just noticed - the chance to download an exclusive short story, The Friendship, in which you can get a glimpse of what happened when Cadvan met Saliman.

So here goes, hot off the press from Candlewick Books:

You can win an advance reader's copy of The Singing!

Please visit the newly updated series website, The first ten people to respond correctly to the following Pellinor trivia question based on new content on the website will receive one galley each, courtesy of Candlewick Press. The publisher will contact you individually via the email address you supply for your mailing/shipping information if you are a winner. Post your answers in the comments below - and don't forget to include an email address so Candlewick can contact you.

QUESTION: How many times does author Alison Croggon say she drafted the final book in the series?

Please note: No purchase necessary. All entrants must be at least 14 years of age. Entries must be posted/received no later than April 1, 2009. Galleys will be shipped to the winners no later than April 15, 2009.