Elaine Forrestal

To See the World — the music

Dr Georg Car­oll play­ing the harp­si­chord at the launch of To See the World

It is most unusual for me to write two blogs in one week, but I need to tell you about an excit­ing new spin-off from the Rose de Freycinet story, To See the World.

On Sun­day, in the Gov­ern­ment House Ball­room, a most extra­or­di­nary event took place. Dr Georg Car­oll, who played the harp­si­chord at the launch of the book a year ago, has been work­ing on his own orig­i­nal piece of music inspired by the story of Rose’s voy­age around the world between 1817 and 1820. Dur­ing his time as Artist-in-Residence at the State Library of West­ern Aus­tralia Dr Car­oll, or Jordi as he prefers to be called, set out to cap­ture the essence of the voy­age aboard the sail­ing ship Uranie in music. After more than a year of writ­ing, tri­alling, work­shop­ping and more writ­ing he per­formed the fin­ished Freycinet Suite for the first time, accom­pa­nied by the Perth Baroque Orches­tra. The Freycinet Suite is a stun­ning, orig­i­nal and immensely sat­is­fy­ing evo­ca­tion of a long sea voy­age, often through uncharted waters, encoun­ter­ing many haz­ards and hos­tile peo­ple as well as being highly acclaimed and treated like roy­alty, once the achieve­ments of the voy­age became known. Jordi has cap­tured the sway­ing motion, the fierce squalls of wind and the excite­ment of reach­ing land at last. He has also incor­po­rated a lit­tle tune, orig­i­nally sung by Abo­rig­i­nal women and writ­ten down by Louis de Freycinet while the ship was in port in Syd­ney. This sim­ple melody became part of an exchange of ‘Notes’ from the Colony of New South Wales. The ‘Notes’ were even­tu­ally trans­lated into Eng­lish by West Aus­tra­ian, Tom Cullotty.

After being prac­ti­cally unknown except by their fam­i­lies in France until a few years ago, the details of the remark­able voy­age of the Uranie, with Rose and Louis on board, have been cap­tured in paint­ings, books, and music. It is amaz­ing how a good story will expand and travel, devel­op­ing a momen­tum of its own and draw­ing in new audiences.

We are just wait­ing for the movie now.

Tim Winton Awards celebrate our young writers

Young writ­ers work­ing on their stories

As this years judg­ing of the Tim Win­ton Awards draws to a close I am con­scious of just how sophis­ti­cated some of our young writ­ers are, and of the vital role our remain­ing writ­ing com­pe­ti­tions play in fos­ter­ing this sophistication.

Tim Win­ton him­self has forged a path for these young writ­ers to fol­low. See­ing the drama, the humour and sense of adven­ture por­trayed in famil­iar set­tings, writ­ten down and shared with oth­ers by a world class author, brings a degree of con­fi­dence which allows oth­ers to give it a go. We would not have such a thriv­ing com­mu­nity of young writ­ers with­out him and other local writ­ers who have fol­lowed. How­ever, with­out the rewards, mon­e­tary and oth­er­wise, that writ­ing com­pe­ti­tions pro­vide some of the best books, movies, TV series, com­puter games and plays will not con­tinue to be writ­ten. Writ­ing is hard work. It is most often car­ried out in iso­la­tion, which makes it absolutely essen­tial to encour­age young writ­ers not to give up. Tim Winton’s suc­cess in bring­ing his own very West Aus­tralian sto­ries to a world audi­ence inspires us to tell our own sto­ries, in words and pic­tures, not only to make sense of the world we live in, but to keep our unique cul­ture alive.

While we mourn the absence of the WA News­pa­pers Young Writer’s Com­pe­ti­tion this year, we cel­e­brate the fact that more than twice as many stu­dents have entered the Tim Win­ton Awards. This extra load has really stretched the organ­is­ers at the Subi­aco Library and their team of vol­un­teer judges. But it is a load that I, for one, gladly shoul­der in order to encour­age young writ­ers to describe their world and to main­tain a sense of our shared cul­tural identity.

The more things change …

Stone Cir­cle, an Eden Glassie Mystery

In France they have a say­ing that has always intrigued me. It goes like this: plus s’change, plus s’meme - the more things change the more they stay the same. Putting Stone Cir­cle into eBook for­mat has brought home to me the essen­tial truth of this seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory idea.

Stone Cir­cle was pub­lished eleven years ago, and yet the fam­ily at Eden Glassie is already using email, com­puter games, and the inter­net as part of their daily lives. By the time Wild Wind, the final book in the Eden Glassie Mys­tery quar­tet, was pub­lished in Novem­ber 2005, Uncle Ian has a mobile phone which he takes with him when he dri­ves to the city on busi­ness. Eden Glassie is out of range as he gets closer to the city and, while he is away the power and phone lines in the dis­trict are all knocked out by the cyclone. But it is clear that the mobile phone rev­o­lu­tion was already hap­pen­ing at that time and was effect­ing every day sit­u­a­tions, even for coun­try fam­i­lies. Now, as well as the ubiq­ui­tous mobile phone, we have the iPad, mini or oth­er­wise, and a whole host of elec­tronic devices at our fingertips.

Even with the sweep­ing changes that have taken place since then, how­ever, some things have stayed the same. The cousins, Tori, Bronte, Mor­gan and Mad­die are still curi­ous, imag­i­na­tive, some­times adven­tur­ous, some­times scared, alter­nately sup­port­ive and car­ing or argu­ing and com­pet­ing with each other. Just like all kids. Per­haps they are lucky to live on Eden Glassie where they are expected to do their chores, but oth­er­wise have the run of the prop­erty with its adja­cent for­est and river, its dogs, horses and wild-life. There is plenty of free­dom and adven­tures just hap­pen naturally.

I grew up in sim­i­lar sur­round­ings myself and, when I travel to the coun­try to talk to kids today, I find that their love of adven­ture and their sense of humour are still very much alive and well in spite of their eas­ier access to tech­nol­ogy. Long may it con­tinue to be so.

While I wait …

The Eden Glassie Mysteries

While play­ing the wait­ing game that all authors expe­ri­ence when they send off a first draft to a pub­lisher, I have had two lovely let­ters from read­ers. They live on oppo­site sides of the coun­try and have, quite coin­ci­den­tally, just dis­cov­ered the Eden Glassie Mysteries.

I am, of course, delighted that they are both find­ing the sto­ries excit­ing, scary and rel­e­vant to their own lives. Such won­der­ful feed­back has spurred me on to add the last of the series to my list of eBook titles. This will not only com­plete the cir­cu­lar quar­tet once again, but will make the books acces­si­ble to a new gen­er­a­tion of read­ers through their school and com­mu­nity libraries and on their elec­tronic devices.

Thanks guys, and stay tuned.

A story can take you around the world

The inflat­able globe that car­ries both Elaine and Rose around the world these days.

At the moment I am being reminded of just how far around the world a story can take you.

So far this year, Rose de Freycinet’s story has taken me to Bologna (Italy), Sin­ga­pore, Balin­gup (WA) and will take me to Sin­ga­pore again in Sep­tem­ber. A week later I will travel with Rose again. This time to the Cocos (Keel­ing) Islands where I will do a stint as a Writer-in-Residence. The route Rose took on her voy­age around the world, from 1817 — 1820, on the sail­ing ship Uranie is marked on the inflat­able globe that I use in my work­shops, and her story is being told to adult and Young Adult audi­ences in all of these far-flung places.

Back here in Perth, the de Freycinet story is being told in a dif­fer­ent way. Georg (Jordi) Car­oll has com­posed a piece of music to cel­e­brate the State Library’s Freycinet Col­lec­tion which includes the first map of the lower reaches of the Swan River, sur­veyed and drawn by Rose’s hus­band, Louis, and writ­ten and pic­to­r­ial records of the first con­tact made with the Mal­gana Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple at Shark Bay; a momen­tous event at which both Rose and Louis were present. Georg will give the first ever pub­lic per­for­mance of his com­po­si­tion at the Gov­ern­ment House Ball­room at the end of August, and take this fas­ci­nat­ing story of courage and adven­ture out to a whole new audi­ence through his music.

Thanks you, Jordi.