I'm a novelist, poet, critic and sometimes writer for and about the theatre. Each of these things keeps interrupting the others. My poetry and criticism have won prizes. I'm the author of the popular and critically acclaimed fantasy quartet The Books of Pellinor, the Gothic fantasy Black Spring and The River and the Book, a forthcoming speculative fiction novel. In English, my novels are published with Walker Books (UK and Australia), Candlewick (US) and Penguin Books Australia. I have self-published two novels as Kindle ebooks: the literary memoir Navigatio and Jimmy Wonderspoon, a story that I wrote for my 10-year-old daughter. Presently I'm writing The Bone Queen, a prequel to the Books of Pellinor. You can find out more at alisoncroggon.com. And you can follow me on twitter at @alisoncroggon.

Why "Reimkennar"? It's an old word for sorceress that stems from old Germanic: literally "rhyme knower". Seems like a good title for a fantasy novelist slash poet slash whatever.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And my, how I've got behind...

It's been a busy few weeks in the Croggon household. As a result, I've let this blog lapse a bit, and find I have lots of Black Spring news to catch up on. I decided to close Theatre Notes, the blog that has occupied a great deal of my time and energy over the past eight years. I expected a bit of dolour and dudgeon, but the reaction completely blindsided me: I was swamped by comments on the blog and emails and tweets and Facebook messages. And then there has been lots of ancillary discussion about the state of theatre criticism in Australia, which has mostly been very interesting, and even the odd obituary.

The idea is that I have more time to write my own work, although I'm not sure, given various conversations I'm having, that it will work out in practice! I guess we'll see. I'm trying to be careful, but I have to say that Melbourne theatre is a very seductive mistress.

But back to business: recent reviews and upcoming events. Bear with me as I do the bullet point thing: there are quite a few links to share.

* Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland Journal (for which I am a columnist and poetry reviewer) named Black Spring as one of his top books for 2012, which surprised me and pleased me enormously: mainly because I know that he wouldn't have said it if he didn't mean it. "Her book’s marketed as young adult," he says, "but Croggon’s authorial intelligence and elegant prose produces a very adult novel, a mash-up of Wuthering Heights and magic that makes you rethink both Emily Bronte and the fantasy genre."

* The UK reviews are beginning to roll in, as the release in Britain approaches. On her Book Review Blog, Katy Moran writes an excellent review which discusses the relationships between Black Spring and Wuthering Heights. Of course it pleased me, as she says, after confessing her trepidation on reading a fantasy reworking of one of her favourite books: "It's beautiful".

* Over at the Centre for Youth Literature, at the State Library of Victoria, there's another great review: "this subtly-challenging and much-needed feminist perspective ... makes me want to staple Black Springs onto every copy of Wuthering Heights currently sitting in a bookshop." And over on their blog, Inside a Dog, they have 5 Reasons to Read Black Spring, which are all very good ones, although the final reason - the brilliant Australian cover - doesn't quite count for UK readers, who have an equally brilliant, but very different, version.

* Another early UK review from Lyndsey Rushby on Page After Page. "Black Spring was a wonderful, refreshing take on Wuthering Heights with unique and exciting additions to such a well-known story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and considering I hated Wuthering Heights, I wasn’t expecting to like it quite as much." 

* Over at Novels on the Run, an interview where I confess my major literary crush and a nice review

* The Centre for Youth Literature yesterday announced Reading Matters 2013, where I will be appearing with fellow YA authors Andrew McGahan, Libby Bray, Gayle Forman and Myke Bartlett in May. On twitter they labelled me "Walker's Renaissance woman", which makes me laugh.

* In January, in the run up to the UK release of Black Spring, I'm doing a blog tour.  The banner in the side column gives all the details: I'll be writing five, hopefully interesting posts about various aspects of fantasy and YA writing. Look out for the dates, although of course I'll remind you!

I've a nagging feeling I've forgotten something, but if I have I can always update later. Meanwhile, I'm taking a bit of time out for Christmas, before plunging into a very busy January. Which includes *cough* finishing that Cadvan book, which is still languishing at the half-way mark. Seasonal greetings to you all, and I'll probably see you - more frequently, I hope - in the New Year!

PS I did forget something - the German translation, the ominously titled Land des Todes! That is out now, and you can see the cover in the side bar.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

And a rave review!

Sonia Nair at the arts website Artshub has given Black Spring the kind of review that makes an author's head swell in an unseemly fashion. Needless to say, I am hugely pleased. This is how it begins:

Every so often one chances upon a novel so uplifting, enthralling and immersive that it becomes a struggle to put it down. Alison Croggon’s latest fantasy tale is just such a book. 

You can read the rest at ArtsHub.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How I wrote Black Spring

I have a guest post at the website for Readings, Melbourne's iconic independent bookshop, part of a regular and interesting series in which Readings asks writers about how their books were written. I really enjoyed writing this one, and it ended up rather longer than planned, with bonus photographs. The story of the story of Black Spring begins:

It’s hard to know when a book begins. Perhaps Black Spring began when I was six years old and running over the bone-strewn turf of the Cornish moors with my sisters. I remember the boundless feeling of freedom: I loved the wind rushing over the bare hills, the granite tors that thrust out of the ground. The moors were my favourite place in the world then. Or maybe it began when I first read Wuthering Heights in my early 20s, and thought idly: I’d like to write a book like that one day. Or maybe it was in my early teens, when I first read Emily Brontë’s poetry.

Maybe a novel begins when you write the first words. I am good at starting novels: I have around five unfinished works on my computer, some quite substantial. Some of them end up being written, some of them don’t. They always begin with an image, or a feeling, or a voice or a thought. I follow this along for as long as it seems to last, and then I usually run out of ideas. I put it aside and wait to see if it is actually alive.
Black Spring began like that. 

Read the rest at Readings. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Black Spring: Sneak preview, twitter chat

So Black Spring is now out in Australia with my lovely publisher, Walker Books Australia. Which is an enormous relief: in a weird way, I can now stop thinking about it. The rest is up to you.

First things first: if you go to Walker's Facebook page - which presently is topped with groovy Black Spring graphics - you can download a sneak preview of the first chapter. As you'll see, Black Spring concerns a rather different world from that of the Pellinor books, but this is a different kind of book.

For those of you on twitter, Walker is running a twitter chat on October 15, 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. I haven't done one of these before, but I rather think that will be like me on twitter as usual - you can find me at @alisoncroggon, chatting about whatever in between all the Serious Work I'm supposed to be doing - except with the hashtag #blackspring. Hope to see some of you then!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yes, a new blog

Since Black Spring, my new novel - you can see the Australian cover on the right - is about to hit the bookshelves in Australia on October 1, I decided it was about time that I rethought my web pages. So welcome to Reimkennar, which replaces my occasional Books of Pellinor blog. Even though I am presently writing a Pellinor book - the story of Cadvan - my other novels just aren't Pellinor books. (Yes, there's another one, which I recently finished, called Simbala's Book. More on that as news comes through.)

It's difficult to describe your own books, so here's the Black Spring blurb from Walker Australia: "Lina is enchanting, vibrant but wilful. And her eyes betray her for what she truly is: a witch. With her childhood companion, Damek, she has grown up privileged and spoilt and the pair are devoted to each other to the point of obsession. But times are changing. Vendetta is coming. And tragedy is stalking the halls of the Red House. A stunning new novel by Alison Croggon, inspired by the Gothic classic Wuthering Heights."

I hope that sends a shiver up your spine. Black Spring will come out in the UK, again with Walker, early next year. And Candlewick Books will be publishing it later in 2013.  I can't wait until everybody else can read it. It will mean that I can forget about it at last!

Meanwhile, Walker Books UK has just re-released the entire Pellinor series, with some stunning new covers. Again, you can see the new cover for The Gift to the right. I am completely thrilled with these books, and they make a gorgeous set. I wrote new introductions for them, which was enormously fun. This is what they look this all together:

 I'm doing various interviews in the lead-up to the Australian release, so I'll be linking them here. Au revoir!