Emerging writer and arts professional Bianca Breen reports from the annual Fremantle Press event programmer’s breakfast
After opening their newly-refurbished doors earlier this year, Fremantle Library at the new Wayalup Koort played host to Fremantle Press’ annual event programmers’ breakfast where Press authors pitched their latest literary works to other industry professionals. Joined by members of the Emerging Writers Program, everyone was keen to hear what Fremantle Press has in store for readers this year.
Our bookshelves are in for a treat. From picture books to poetry, true crime to anthologies, there was a book for every kind of reader. The event started with three First Nations writers and illustrators. Jayden Boundry, author of the upcoming Noongar Boodja Waangkan – a book of Noongar first words, Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, author of the new picture book, Ninni Yabini and Tyrown Waigana, who used his artistic talents to illustrate both titles. Both books are written in the Noongar language with English translations.
Several writers were first-time pitchers, but you would never know – each author delivered clear and often entertaining reasons for picking up their book. What struck me about the pitches was how confident and qualified the authors sounded. Whether it was lived experience or the product of extensive research, each author managed to convey in under two minutes why they were the ones to write this book and what unique insights they can offer to events, workshops and schools.
While some of the pitches were brimming with humour, no author had us laughing harder than Patrick Marlborough, a neurodivergent (a term they think sounds like an STD from Blade Runner) writer and comedian whose manuscript was shortlisted for the 2021 Fogarty Award (which means all they received was a certificate, Patrick grumbled). They have a short story in the upcoming Don’t Think About a Pink Elephant: Stories About Living with OCD, and their dry wit and deadpan delivery was enough to make me want to read anything Patrick produces, even if they write it the night before, as they claim happened with their OCD essay.
Speaking of anthologies, Unlimited Futures is one that has been on my radar for a few months now. Edited by Rafeif Ismail and Ellen van Neerven – who we heard from during the event – Unlimited Futures is a collection of Blak and Black speculative fiction featuring stories of horror, magical realism, superheroes, and more across both poetry and prose.
The dedication and honesty of these authors is astounding. During her research for Only Birds Above, Portland Jones lived on a Japanese POW’s rations and was chased by an orangutan. Sharron Booth, over the ten years it took her to complete The Silence of Water, went through library archives in London and Edinburgh, snuck through people’s gardens, and transported bits of UK roads in her pockets. Andrew Sutherland’s poetry collection, Paradise: Point of Transmission, explores his own experiences with queerness and HIV. And Nadia Rhook, in her poetry collection, Second Fleet Baby, writes about her IVF journey and becoming a mother during a global pandemic.
My ‘to be read’ list of new releases doubled after this event, and I’m excited to read and learn from this slate of incredible local WA authors. As Jayden Boundry said, ‘What better way than through books?’
About Bianca Breen
Bianca Breen is a volunteer at Fremantle Press and an emerging Children’s and YA fantasy writer with a passion for Australian authors and stories. She is the creator of YA for WA (yaforwa.wixsite.com/yaforwa) and Communications Co-Director at #LoveOzYA. She holds a BA of Creative Arts from La Trobe University and is one of the winners of the 2021 ASA/CA Award Mentorship Program.