I will not waste my speck: my Manchester + first glimpse of my novel as an Actual Fucking Book

As more details emerge it’s growing increasingly clear Monday night was, as Slate has called it, ‘an attack on girls and women…on girlhood…a massive act of gender-based violence’. (http://www.slate.com/…/the_bombing_at_a_manchester_ariana_g…)
‘Terrorism works by making people afraid to go about their daily lives, doing the things that make them feel human and whole: going to work, shopping at the mall, traveling by plane, dancing to Latin music at a gay club, singing along to a fun pop tune that lets young women envision themselves as powerful, sexual beings.’

I am a woman, who bought a one-way ticket to Manchester in 2009, to envision who I might be if I didn’t live in fear. Who might I be if I stepped into my own power? What might happen if, in this city symbolised by the worker bee, I threw everything I had into working hard for my lifelong dream of becoming a published writer? I didn’t know a soul here. I’d never been to the UK. I arrived utterly alone, clinging to my dream. And beautiful, gritty, glorious, big-hearted Manchester has given, and given, and given. On my fourth day here I met the love of my life. I wrote the first draft of my first novel in the home we’ve made here together, looking out to silver birch trees, blackbirds and robin red breasts in our garden; in cafes, libraries, pubs, and my favourite local park that centres around a heart-shaped lake. I’ve had the unique opportunity to volunteer with people who have come here from all over the world, to share our stories, promote international friendship and cultural diversity; to create space and understanding for relationships with each other we otherwise wouldn’t have the same chance to experience. Because that’s what this place and its people gives us: the chance to find together our home away from home. Manchester is a diverse city, united.

Yesterday, amidst darkness and horror, I received something beautiful in my email Inbox. And I’ve been sitting on it. Not wanting to share it. Not wanting to disrespect the unfathomable grief here. As I’ve watched people’s courage and kindness and compassion sweep over the city, I’ve remembered: amongst so many other things, Manchester is where women have fought with their minds, hearts, bodies, and lives against being made small, shrunken, and hidden away. This morning I’ve woken and realised that in my tiny, tiny speck of existence, to not share something I’ve worked so hard for is to waste my speck, and make myself small in the face of terror and senseless violence. I will not do that. I am a woman, lucky enough to have the life I have; living my dream freely in Manchester, a city that has taken me in with open arms.

So, here it is. With deep gratitude, I share the first visual incarnation of my novel as an Actual Fucking Book: the outer and inner front and back covers of the advance reading copies that have gone to print in Australia, not for sale, but for circulation amongst booksellers and bookshops, and the publishing industry. Final covers are still to come, but for now I am so grateful, and proud, to share this next milestone with you, dear friends, who have cheered me on all this way. Thank you, as ever.

Please take care of yourselves and each other today.

* Wailing gratitude-gibberish and hugs to my team at Zeitgeist Media Group AGENCY and HarperCollins Books Australia.


 

 

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