Following publication of her latest book, A Hospital Bed At Home which attracting praise from author Helen Garner, .Janene hopes to take on the enjoyable yet daunting challenge of collating the stories behind the region’s greatest writers.
The new project will be in collaboration with the New England Writer’s Centre, and aims to showcase writers who have portrayed the region and its people, as well as writers nurtured here who have achieved fame elsewhere.
“It’s not going to be a scholarly book, it’s for a general audience,”Janene said. “So there will be anecdotes and snippets of [interviews] and hopefully [it] will be written in a colourful, engaging way.” From my viewpoint that's a good thing, for it will help give us the back story to the writing itself.
This is the way that Janene wrote of her contact with Helen Garner on her blog. I have taken the liberty of quoting the piece in full:
Last week I went to a couple of public events connected with the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference at the University of New England. Iconic Australian writer Helen Garner was a special guest. I spoke to her after a lecture on Judith Wright, and gave her a copy of A Hospital Bed at Home. As homage, really. I love her writing, especially The Spare Room.
The next day, I went along to the other public ASAL event, Helen Garner in conversation with literary critic Susan Lever. When I arrived for the pre-talk refreshments, Anne Pender from UNE was chatting to Susan Lever, and she introduced us. Susan’s first words to me were, “Oh, are you the Janene who gave Helen a book? She’s been telling me all about it; she’s been reading it all day!”
When I spoke to Helen before her talk my head was spinning so much that I can’t even remember exactly what her compliments were. She said something about the clarity and directness of my writing, and the way the emotion was handled. I suggested that she’d had a strong influence on my style and she laughed and said, “That might be why I like it!”
Anyway, this week I plucked up the courage to contact her through her publisher and ask if she would consider giving me a quote for the cover. I thought it quite likely that she would refuse as she must be asked so often. But she emailed it to me within a couple of hours of receiving the request. Actually, I have two – what she sent would fit on a back cover, but I was keen to have it on the front, so she allowed me to trim it.
So the front cover now says: “An articulate, practical account of the work of love in the face of death.” – HELEN GARNER.
The longer version that has gone online is:
“A quietly articulate, intensely practical account of the work of love in the face of death: a guide for the timid and a challenge for the confident.” – HELEN GARNER (Author of The Spare Room)
You can see why Janene was chuffed. By the way, if you want to buy A Hospital Bed At Home you can find out how here. I haven't bought my copy yet, but will do so next pay.
I want to write a little more about the reasons why I think that Janene's new project is important, why we all hope that she gets grants to complete the work, but that will have to wait to a later post.