Author Archives: Robin

About Robin

I am a neurodiverse writer from sunny Sydney Australia. My debut paperback, Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks, was released in December 2016. Henrietta Dodgson's Asylum for Damaged Women is due out end of 2017. Will work for money.

I Need to Share This With You

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Today I went and bought an emergency pack of tampons. My period came two days early. I was caught out, in the wilderness of metropolitan Sydney. I rushed into a pharmacy, grabbed a pack of tampons, went to the counter where a young male scanned my tampons. At the end of the transaction he asked me if I wanted a bag. I had my own bag and so responded with, “no thanks, I’m just going to stick them straight in.” That’s right. I said, about tampons, I’M JUST GOING TO STICK THEM STRAIGHT IN!!!!

The guy’s eyes widened in a disbelieving horror that you could see unfolding over and over again in his mind as the visuals became more and more graphic. I finally cottoned on and said, “in my own bag.” But it was too late, we all know it was too late. I will forever be the woman who overshared with the checkout guy at Chemist Works.
For the record, I meant STICK THEM IN MY BAG NOT RAM A WHOLE PACKET UP MY VAJAYJAY…. but I did indeed run straight to the toilet and stick one, SINGULAR tampon in.
I just needed to get that off my chest.

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Book Club ABC Season 11, Episode 7: #bookclubabc

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I’m just going to subtly post this now and nobody will notice that it’s super late. Smooth as silk. No complaints, people will just assume it has been here the whole time and not question it at all…..

Hooray. It’s the highlight of the year. My two great loves together as they should be, Sydney Writers’ Festival (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help) and THE Book Club ABC with the incandescent JByrne. All is right in the world…. well, except for the fact regular co-hosts Marieke and Ace have been cast aside like last year’s hottest new author that is now being crucified for their follow-up novel having too many POVs…. but apart from that, it’s just dandy.

The title of this episode is Books That Changed My Life. Let’s find out if that means for the better or for the worse, like when Anne McCaffrey suddenly killed off Moreta right when you thought the day was saved leaving a generation of fans emotionally obliterated because we thought somehow she’d sneakily survive but NO. Firstpublishedin1983outsideofspoilerwhinezone!!!

The guests are George Saunders. See his debut full length novel get book clubbed here. Also the much esteemed Anne Enright and OMG she has chosen The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, one of my fav books EVER. You and me Anne, all the way, love your work, love your taste. OMG×2 Anne Enright studied under ANGELA CARTER. I am so excited that I am about to pass out! Next guest is Mikhail Zygar. He is clutching Confession by Tolstoy. A less well known Tolstoy about his spiritual awakening. JByrne breaks her own rule of starting to discuss the book before its turn. She’s not happy, apparently the book describes Anna Karenina as an ABOMINATION. I’m sure we’ll hear more about that later. And finally, Brit Bennett, who is the most spectacular speaker. If you ever get the chance to hear her, do go. She has chosen Beloved by Toni Morrison. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s a book about a woman who kills her own child to prevent her from going back into slavery…. I might cry during this episode. It’s such an amazing book. Very powerful.

Now it’s time for our first guest to present their book for discussion. George has chosen The Coast of Chicago, a short story collection by Stuart Dyvek. He loved it. It was about his city. He got to see the work necessary to change a reality into fiction. Prior to that, he felt that all good books were from the past, this book showed him how amazing contemporary literature can be. It changed his whole approach to writing. Now if this was a regular episode this kind of heartwarming attachment would be blown apart by either Marieke or Ace savaging it. Let’s see how the SWF guests go.

Anne Enright says that Stuart Dyvek is endlessly writing about lightbulbs, but he writes about them fantastically. He apparently also digs precipitation, and Anne likes that. JByrne points out he also likes to write about lonely people.

Nobody has hated it. JByrne realising her sassy compadres are missing has to bring in conflict on her own. She askes George what would he do if someone hated it. George says he taught it recently and half the kids didn’t love it. He didn’t flunk them. He accepted that Dyvek was doing something bold so would leave some people behind. Burn.

Speaking of bold, Bloody Chamber time. Brilliant retake in fairy tales. Lush, decadent, violent, and deeply sexual. Anne says, ‘it’s so good, it’s wrong.’ JByrne said she didn’t get how transgressive it was when she first read it. Anne said she told one of the stories to her two year old daughter to cure the pink problem. One can imagine it was edited slightly for a two year old?

Brit particularly liked Puss in Boots. JByrne says it was very Antonio Banderas in Shrek. Hmmmm, maybe Shrek needs to pay some royalties. Brit points out that the princess also becomes the ogre…. Did the makers of Shrek pay???

Anne loved the freedom to turn something on it’s head. She liked that you could work with opposites and reclassify. When Anne wrote The Green Road she thought, ‘I’ll do a female King Lear.’ Angela Carter had given her that freedom and flexibility in thinking and creativity. 

Time for Mikhail and Confession. JByrne calls it a spiritual midlife crisis. Mikhail says it’s more politics. Fight, fight, fight. Mikhail says it was more end-life, not mid-life. Tolstoy had stopped writing fiction and started becoming political and a leader of alternate Russia. A beacon for those wanting freedom. 

JByrne feels like it was metaphorical self-flagellation. He was lamenting his wild youth and him popularising Anna Karenina. Anne points out it is also a humble brag. He points out his huge achievements whilst seemingly undercutting them.

Mikhail says that the book is important to him because for him Tolstoy’s Russia is greater than Putin’s Russia. That there is the alternative that seeks freedom and expression, and Tolstoy is the symbol of that. Okay, Mikhail has won me over. I shall re-read Confession with new eyes.

Time for Brit’s choice, Beloved by Toni Morrison. A book that looks at how does a country deal with its past traumas. It is about a woman who escapes slavery and when she is about to be captured she makes the heartbreaking decision to kill her children rather than see them tortured, humiliated and brutalised beyond belief back in slavery. She is then haunted by the ghost Beloved, the child she had killed. The ghost eventually takes on bodily form and returns to her life. I am just going to go grab a million box of tissues. I personally have only read this book once but it is incredibly powerful and stays with you. George looks like he is going to cry too.

Brit says this isn’t her favourite Toni Morrison novel but it is one that she has read countless times because it does what she wants her own work to do. It is beautiful, it is brutal, it is important. The book does all three things and it centres around the black community. And it is highly nuanced. Brit says that Toni Morrison was not interested in looking at white people at all, what white people did was horrific and there can be no question about that, but what Toni Morrison looked at was the black community and their own responses to give insight and a voice to individual and community trauma.

Anne praises Beloved on how it is so perfectly structured in a traditional sense and yet does such amazing and innovative things. JByrne also praises the innovation. Anne calls it political writing at its finest.

JByrne asks how important is timing for when you read a book. George says it is crucial. Often great advice only has a two week window for being effective. Anne says we read in a searching way so timing is everything. Mikhail agrees, he says reading is 50% the writer and 50% who the reader is. So each time you read you’re a different person and get a different message. 

JByrne asks will books always be a force for change. Brit says yes. For example Beloved tackles what is still the most important question in American politics today, what do we do with the ghosts of slavery, and nobody knows what to do about it. I wish we could get to this point with the Stolen Generation and the White Australia Policy, but unfortunately we’re still denying that it was really that bad and not even up to wondering how to help.
And that’s a wrap. What an emotional episode. Loved it.

Find last episodes recap here.

View this episode or previous episodes here.

Find the Book Club ABC on Twitter here.

Find the Book Club ABC on Facebook here.

Find the Book Club ABC Drinking Game here.

By George Saunders books here

Buy Anne Enright books here.

Buy Mikhail Zygar books here.

Buy Brit Bennet’s book here.

Buy my book here

Read up on the Australian book industry in Robinpedia.

Love me herehere, and here.

Congratulate Marieke on becoming the festival director for MELBOURNE WRITERS’ FESTIVAL here. WOOOOOOOOOT.

This is my friend, I like her, follow her here.

This is also my friend. She’s a hotshot writer like you see in the movies. You should follow her here.

I have other friends, I really do. Find some here…. here… AND here…. and also very importantly HERE!

Find my idol here.

Find my guru here. Sharon also follows him, she can tell you about that here.

Are you following Tania? You should. She’s here.

And don’t forget Emma. You gotsta find Emma here. She’s rad. And she teaches me new words… such as blowie. Rachel can attest to that, find her here.

Find out something different you can do for #RUOKDAY here.

#RUOK 2017: I Challenge You To Do More

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R  U Ok Day is upon us soon. It’s a day that has people divided. Some say it’s fantastic and saves lives, others say it reminds them just how much people really don’t care about them because they only ask on R U OK Day as if it is some glib game. I’ve asked, I’ve done my bit, I’m a good person, give me cookies.

Love it or hate it, I challenge you to open yourself up and learn more about different mental illnesses this R U OK Day. Go to the library, or a bookstore, or online, and get a memoir that focuses on a mental illness. Really engage with lived experience, find out what real people went through, what they are still going through. And then when it comes to ask R U OK you might have something more specific and meaningful to say to a friend than a  simple catchphrase.

Here are some recommendations:

Madness: a Memoir by Kate Richards

This is a memoir about living with depression and acute psychosis. In the memoir Dr Kate Richards also includes notes that she wrote during episodes which puts you directly into the mind at the time of turmoil. A compelling read.

Eyes too Dry by Alice Chipkin and Jessica Tavassoli

This is an innovative, dual person, graphic-novel memoir. It explores depression and suicideal ideation. It is essentially the conversation between someone in deep depression and their friend as they try to navigate through depression together. Very unique.

Bloodletting by Victoria Leatham

Cutting has recently been much covered in the media, but often sensationally and with little understanding gained. Victoria Leatham talks about her own experiences with self harm and how it is related to anorexia and bulimia. A truly eye opening read.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

When it comes to bipolar few people have more experience than Kar Redfield Jamison. She both treats it as a psychiatrist and faces it personally. This book looks at bipolar from both the side of the doctor / patient equation.

The Good Greek Girl by Maria Katsonis 

This is the memoir of the brilliant Maria Katsonis. Havard  graduate, world renowned theatre producer, obedient daughter and sometimes rebel. It explores how this incredible woman found herself in a psych ward fighting for her life.


My Life as a Side Effect by Milissa Deitz

A memoir that helps demystify depression. It gives details from Milissa Deitz’s journey, including self harm, relationship breakdowns, medication and therapy. 
The Green Bell by Paula Keogh

A memoir about Paula Keogh’s own experience with schizophrenia. It has been described as a coming of age story that takes a lifetime. 


Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deverson

This has become a classic text to read on gaining some understanding around schizophrenia. It is written by Anne Deverson and explores her relationship with her son and her efforts to get him appropriate treatment and the horrors they both endured. It does not hold back on catastrophic episodes. 


Under Siege by Belinda Neil

Belinda Neil is a former police negotiator and homicide detective. Under Siege explores PTSD and its effect on not only work but also on her personal life. It is a very generous sharing of living with trauma.

Me and Her: a Memoir of Madness by Karen Tyrrell 

This memoir appealed to me greatly because it looks at how a teacher was brought to the brink and how she managed to come back. As a former teacher who has witnessed and been on the receiving end of workplace bullying this really hit home for me. This book is very thought provoking into our own actions and what we dismiss and turn our backs on.

Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish

The nature of substance abuse and addiction is explored in this compelling memoir/investigation by Jenny Valentish. From underage drinking to adult use of hard drugs, Jenny Valentish uses her own story and others to explore the nature of addiction, who is most susceptible, and what both treatment and mistreatment look like.  Her skills as an investigative journalism are on display in this book as she draws information from experts and sufferers alike.

Well Done Those Men by Barry Heard

Australian Vietnam Veteran Barry Heard shares his life before and after the Vietnam War. It explores how young mean were sent off to war inadequately prepared psychologicaly. It also gives an earnest and gut-wrenching look at his post-war breakdown.

Crying into the Saucepan by Nikki Hayes

The incredible memoir of someone who had battled with mental illness for most of their life only to be repeatedly ignored or misdiagnosed. Nikki Hayes had received many diagnoses such as depression, postnatal depression and anorexia before being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This memoir delved particularly close to my heart, because even though I don’t have BPD, I also had begged for help from various professional only to be fobbed off.

Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright 

This is a collection of ten essays about Fiona Wright’s experience with an eating disorder. The essays cover different phases of her illness including life threatening anorexia nervosa. Heartbreak and humour are combined in this moving memoir from a well known and respected Australian poet.

Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann

This is a collection of essays about Jessica Friedmann’s experience with postnatal depression after the birth of her first child. Jessica Friedmann has achieved honours in creative writing and it shows. The prose is beautiful to the point of poetic. Fans of Fiona Wright will LOVE this.

And of course there is always little old me.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks by Robin Elizabeth

A direct, not holds barred, earnest telling of my time in a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression four months after the birth of my second and third children, twins. It is conversational, injected with humour, and includes practical tips.

So, on this R U OK Day, the 14th of September, I challenge you to go further than repeating a preprepared question. I challenge you to use the day to truly engage. Grab a memoir, bunker down, and find out what lived experience is like without interrupting. 
Add your favourite memoirs about mental illness in the comment section.

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au

Head Space https://headspace.org.au

Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au

National LGBTI  Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au

The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers


Some postnatal depression specific sites are:

Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/

PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/

PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

Jessica Stewart: #Robinpedia

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Jessica Stewart isn’t a Grammar Nazi, she’s a Grammar Amazonian Warrior. A Grammazon if you will. She’s the editor who is willing to slice off excessive descriptives with her chakram and high kick your scenes into a more effective order. Oh, and she has a black belt in Taekwondo.

Words are an addiction for this Sydney based editor and writer. Jessica Stewart is a member of Editors NSW, part of the Black Pheonix Publishing Collective (which sounds like something from a Xena episode), is in the Institute of Professional Editors directory, and not sated with her qualification in Editing and Publishing she has gone on to study for her Masters. On top of this, so committed to the Australian writing scene is Jessica Stewart that she volunteers for the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Jessica Stewart’s services through Your Second Draft include, but are not limited to:

  • Structural editing
  • Copy editing
  • Proofing
  • Business writing and editing
  • Ghostwriting
  • Technical and operational writing 
  • Coporate writing
  • Complex submissions

In the end, the choice is yours. If you want some rigid, grump, nay saying your work, by all means hire a Grammar Nazi, but if you want someone who has many skills and will literally whip your manuscript into shape, then go with the Xena of the Australian editing scene, Jessica Stewart.

Find Jessica Stewart’s Your Second Draft editing services here.

Get a face full of Jessica Stewart here.

Tweet with Jessica Stewart here.
FYI: No she did not edit this. This entry is in no way a reflection on Jessica’s capabilities. This entry maintains the same ethos of sharing my thoughts in their wild and untamed form, complete in my dyslexic glory. Check out my About here.

Read more about Robinpedia here

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author branding here.

Buy my shit at Booktopia or here.

Helen Thurloe: #Robinpedia

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Helen Thurloe is a writer in the purest sense of the word, she’ll write anything. She has been known to write poems, essays, text messages, shopping list, and a novel. She’s even made legit postcards! Her text messages and shopping lists have thus far been cruelly ignored by awards and scholarships but her other stuff seems to be going alright…

… And by alright I mean her poetry has won prizes including- ACU Literature Prize, Banjo Patterson Writing Award, The Age of Reinvention, Ethel Webb Bundell Literary Award and has been shortlisted and commended in many others. Her debut novel Promising Azra through Allen & Unwin has been similarly well received with manuscript development prizes such as Varuna Writers’ House Fellowship, NSW Writers’ Centre Fellowship, Children’s Book Council Frustrated Writers Mentorship, Charlotte Warring Barton Award and the completed, published novel was shortlisted for prestigious awards such as the New South Wales Premiere Literary Awards. Vanessa Bond does much of the media on that award and is a babe. We all love Vanessa. Send lots of love to the State Library of New South Wales because they deserve it.

On seeing this cover my twins drew all over themselves with a SHARPIE, do not show to under 3s.

Diverting from Robinpedia for a moment: As a former English teacher, I taught for a little over a decade before leaving to pursue writing, I would personally highly recommend Promising Azra to any English teacher. It would work particularly well for year 10 because it is a very easy read. The novel is set in an Australian high school with the main characters being from a south Asian background. The book focuses on Azra, who is smart, doing incredibly well in school and thinking about going to university when it is revealed that her parents have arranged a marriage to someone she has never met in Pakistan. As Azra struggles her friend Layla is looking forward to her arranged marriage as a chance to get out of school early. The book is highly nuanced with examination of how we are of our families but also our own people and how that conflict plays out. The stakes are incredibly high, Azra’s future, but also realistic.

 

Back to Robinpedia

Helen Thurloe has set aside a dynamic workspace for herself in her home. It has a computer, an exercise bike, and a laundry basket. As an owner of an ergonomic furniture business she also ensures that she works in a manner that is healthy for her body with equipment that is easily adjusted for sitting and standing.

This is how I picture her working

Find Helen Thurloe’s Website here.

Love Helen Thurloe on twitter here.

Follow Helen Thurloe on Facebook here.

If there is any information that you feel would enhance this entry please feel free to leave it in the comment section. 

Read more about Robinpedia here

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author branding here.

Buy my shit at Booktopia or here.

Evi O: #Robinpedia

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Evi O is a Sydney based designer and one half of the team at OetomoNew. She started her artistic journey drawing stickfigures in primary school, then progressed to completing a design degree at university and now designs award winnning books. Evi O is devoted to designing beautiful books and formerly worked for Lantern Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
As a child Evi O found herself obsessed with a pop-up book of Snow White. Not so much for the story (seriously what a snoozer, living in the forest with 7 dudes whilst you’re escaping from your evil stepmother, happens all the time, amirightoramiright) but for all the design features and how they all interacted. She studied the book so that she too could make book art.

Her love of beautiful books was nearly disrupted when she got into a Business degree at university. Fortunately she swapped to a design degree and ended up studying Visual Communications at UTS. Her mother was a tad devo as she felt business was a more secure field than the arts.

In her career Evi O has taken on many high profile books such as the gorgeous book for T2, Matt Moran’s Dinner at Matt’s (Special Edition), and the multi-award winning Things I Love.
Evi O says thatif you want to get into the book design industry you need to be pushy, bang on the door and jam your foot in there once it’s open and to get to know people. The Australian Book Design association is a great way to get to know people.

Find Evi O’s website here.

Find Evi O on Twitter here.

Find OetomoNew here.

If there is any information that you believe would enhance this entry please feel free to leave it in the comment section. 

Read more about Robinpedia here

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author branding here.

Buy my shit here.

YA Discourse: Witch vs Vulture

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Some great insights into diversity and representation in literature.

“There is, I feel, a tension on the left about bigots who cross the floor and recant: we want it to happen, but we don’t want to give people cookies for finally meeting the most basic standards of human decency, because – we argue – they should just be doing that anyway. But the difficult, prickly truth is this: if accepting the humanity of people you’ve been raised to hate, fear and devalue was really as simple as flicking a mental switch, the world would be a damn sight better than it is. Personal change is a messy, imperfect process. From an emotional remove, it’s easy to laugh at that guy who thinks he’s a hero for loving his wife’s curves, but for a lot of people, that’s exactly what their first forays into better personhood look like. I’m starting to feel like we need to apply that xkcd strip about not making fun of people not knowing basic things to the pro-diversity movement: yes, it’s often frustrating to have repeat runthroughs of Diversity 101, but without the basics, how is anyone going to progress?”

Read the whole thing at its source https://fozmeadows.wordpress.com

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

For days now, social media has been abuzz over Kat Rosenfield’s recent Vulture essay, The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter, which focuses almost exclusively on reactions to Laurie Forest’s debut novel, The Black Witch. Overwhelmingly, the responses I’ve seen are binary: either Rosenfield is a terrible, malicious person who doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or she’s the only person brave enough to speak truth to power. Not having read The Black Witch, a book I can’t recall hearing about before this week, it was news to me that its reception was news at all. Now that I’m all caught up, however, I feel rather like the doomed bowl of petunias falling through space in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: oh no, not again.

The recent history of online SFF, fandom and genre discourse rejoices in an abundance of brilliant trashfires, but even in…

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