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The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt longlisted for 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award

April 8, 2014

Tracy Farr

Last Thursday, the longlist for the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award was announced. Heading the list — only because it was announced alphabetically by author — was my novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt. Here’s the longlist: Tracy Farr, The Life And Loves Of Lena Gaunt Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North Ashley Hay, The Railwayman’s Wife Melissa Lucashenko, Mullumbimby Fiona McFarlane, The Night Guest Nicolas Rothwell, Belomor Trevor Shearston, Game Cory Taylor, My Beautiful Enemy Tim Winton, Eyrie Alexis Wright, The Swan Book Evie Wyld, All The Birds, Singing The Miles Franklin has been called Australia’s most prestigious literary award. It was established through the will of ...
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The intriguing theremin

March 27, 2014

Tracy Farr

Some of the most interesting responses I’ve had to my novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, have been to do with the musical instrument that Lena plays: the theremin. Readers have thought I made it up, that it couldn’t possibly be real. I’ve written a few posts about the theremin: here and here, for example. But I thought that I’d try to semi-regularly post a little something about the theremin. I’ll tag these posts Theremin Thursday. Sometimes they might be just a link to audio or video, to someone else’s post, pic, or website. Occasionally I’ll gabble on myself. To kick off, here’s a ...
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New Zealand Writers Week round-up

March 23, 2014

Tracy Farr

Two writers festivals in two countries within three weeks, and I was a guest at both: heaven. Perth Writers Festival ran from 20 to 23 February — I’ve written about it here. After Perth, I was home in Wellington for just eight days before New Zealand Writers Week kicked off on 7 March. Writers Week ran from 7 to12 March, as part of the New Zealand Festival. The programme’s main venue is the lovely old (refurbished) Embassy Theatre.  Whenever I could, I scurried down to my favoured audience pozzie: down the wind-y steps and into the third and last row of the ...
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The festival is over, baby

March 2, 2014

Tracy Farr

I’m home in Wellington, nearly a week after Perth Writers Festival finished, and still coming down from the experience: my first writers festival as an invited guest. It was everything you want a writers festival to be — the venue with its tents and pavilions put the ‘festive’ into festival; the high flyers, both established (Martin Amis, Margaret Drabble,Richard Flanagan, Lionel Shriver, Tom Kenneally) and freshly minted (Eleanor Catton), were there; and best of all I discovered writers whose work I didn’t know, but I think I’m going to love (Jeet Thayil, Evie Wyld, D.W. Wilson, Hannah Kent, Amanda Curtin, Nandi Chinna, ...
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Perth Writers Festival 2014

February 21, 2014

Tracy Farr

Finally, the news I’ve been itching to share: I’m thrilled to be part of the Perth Writers Festival program for 2014, launched this week. The festival runs from 20–23 February, with most of the events held at the very beautiful campus of University of Western Australia, where I studied and worked, many years ago. The lineup of writers includes Eleanor Catton, Martin Amis, Margaret Drabble, Anne Summers, Kim Scott, Richard Flanagan, Carrie Tiffany, Lionel Shriver, David Marr — browse by author here. As well as international visitors, there are a host of Australian and local West Australian writers I’m particularly looking forward ...
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Theremin in the (a)ether(wave)

January 21, 2014

Tracy Farr

Okay, what the hell is going on? Everywhere I look it’s theremin (TV), theremin (film), theremin (novel). Is theremin the new ukelele? The new black? Or is it just out there in the (a)ether(wave), morphically resonating?   Theremin on television All over Twitter this last week was the episode of American Horror Story: Coven titled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”. Yes, Stevie Nicks made an appearance. (That’s up there in a sort of alternate universe way with Kim Gordon‘s recent (non-singing) appearance in the season 3 premier of Girls. These viewing treasures still await those of us not in North America.) I’ve not ...
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The year that was – a whole lotta love

January 5, 2014

Tracy Farr

At this time of year it is, as we all know, traditional to sum up the best and worst of the year just gone, and/or make plans, resolutions or predictions for the year to come. I’m feeling a bit sandblasted by the thought of doing that (maybe it’s just the Wellington wind). But I’ll give it a bit of a go at the end of this post. I’m chuffed that my own novel made it onto a few “best” lists for 2013, and I’d like to shout proudly about those those; but if I’m doing that, it’s only fair to ...
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A room of my own (for three weeks) – inaugural RAK Mason Writers Fellowship

January 2, 2014

Tracy Farr

A week or so before Christmas, I was delighted to find out that I’ve been awarded the inaugural R.A.K. Mason Writer’s Fellowship. This’ll give me a room to live and write in for three weeks in April 2014. The new fellowship is offered by New Zealand Pacific Studio, Mt Bruce, Wairarapa. The call-out stated “the purpose of this Fellowship is to explore different literary forms or genres and their potential”, and invited applications from “writers working in, or across, literary genres in interesting ways”. New Zealand Pacific Studio is a nonprofit organisation that offers residencies to creative practitioners and researchers at its ...
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Underrated and overlooked?

November 23, 2013

Tracy Farr

Posting on the excellent Killings blog on the Kill Your Darlings journal website last week, S.A. Jones mused on why great Australian books are being overlooked. Writing in the wake of The Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Awards of 2013, Jones considered what it means to be ‘underrated’. She quoted MUBA 2013 nominee Ginger Briggs: it’s like winning the award for the prettiest girl who was never invited to the prom Jones mused on the often tenuous relationship between critical praise and book sales, marketing as ‘a beguiling distraction that eats into writing time’, and whether: for Gen X readers like myself, the ...
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Otago Daily Times reviews The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

November 23, 2013

Tracy Farr

The review by Ian Williams in the Otago Daily Times (Saturday 23 November 2013) of The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt grabbed me — and not in a good way — with its opening sentence: I meant to send this first novel back to the books editor, it seemed so obviously a “woman’s book”. I was poised to get all outraged and shouty, on so many levels. But I’m a shallow creature, amenable to praise, so what followed quickly soothed any rage away. I’m delighted to say that Williams took to my “woman’s book” with gusto: But it only took a few pages before The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt took ...
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A might, mighty night – New Zealand launch of The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

September 21, 2013

Tracy Farr

On Saturday 21 September, at Mighty Mighty in Wellington, Dame Fiona Kidman declared “The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, and your mysterious gorgeous character, well and truly launched”. Here’s a taste of how the evening progressed. You can find more photos online here. The velvet curtain backdrop of the Mighty matched the novel’s cover, displayed gloriously by Alex and Todd on the Unity Books table. Performances by Erika Grant on cello — Lena’s first love — and and Nell Thomas on theremin — the instrument Lena becomes famous for playing — provided a beautiful, fitting sonic ambience, and were the perfect illustration of what’s central ...
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Pavlova, Phar Lap, Crowded House and me

September 3, 2013

Tracy Farr

Phar Lap. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/2-203509-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22805634 Yesterday, my novel was released. As is the way with these things, though, the book has already been in bookshops for about a week or so (yes, I’ve been looking) , and has had its first few (very nice) reviews (here and here and here). I’m visiting Perth, Western Australia — where I grew up, and where my publisher is based — at the moment, visiting family and talking about the novel, and there’s one question that everyone (everyone) has asked me: So. Are you a New Zealander now, or are you Australian? I really don’t know ...
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Keeping it short and sweet

July 21, 2013

Tracy Farr

It’s been a week for (very) short fiction, for me — a nice change from the long slog of the novel. Back in May this year, as the deadline for 2013 National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) competition — for stories of 300 words or fewer — was approaching, the NFFD folks (in NZ Society of Authors Newsletter Friday 17/5/13) asked 2012 finalists “What’s so great about flash?”. Here’s what I said: My first fiction published in print, back at the tail end of last century, was flash fiction, so it’s a form I’m fond of. Not much more than a single page or screen of words, for the ...
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Crossing the ditch: guest review in Perth webzine The Starfish

June 19, 2013

Tracy Farr

It’s always bothered me how little known in Australia are even some of the best New Zealand writers. When I was asked to write a trio of mini-reviews for Perth webzine The Starfish, it seemed the perfect opportunity to rave about New Zealand writers; maybe I’d even be introducing them to a Perth audience. So I chose three novels that I’d read recently, that I’d loved reading, and that were by some of my favourite contemporary New Zealand writers — Stephanie Johnson, Emily Perkins, and Sarah Quigley. You can read what I had to say about their novels — and ...
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When I first held you

June 13, 2013

Tracy Farr

Fifteen years to the day since I first held my real-life baby, I held, for the first time, my brand new baby. Yes: the advance copy of my debut novel, posted last Friday from my publisher in Australia, arrived in today’s mail. Lena has landed in New Zealand. I’m feeling a lot less exhausted today than I did fifteen years ago, even though I’ve been carrying this bouncing baby book for a whole lot longer than nine months. There’s a similar sense of wonderment though, of astonishment — did I really produce this?! — and, yes, I’ve had a bit of ...
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