Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

April 14, 2012

Dancing to the Flute

Manisha Jolie Amin

Yet another UTS alumna has achieved success in the world of fiction. Allen & Unwin have just released  Dancing to the Flute, by Manisha Jolie Amin. It’s in the bookshops now. I’ve already ordered my copy from the Co-op Bookshop.

Abandoned as a young child, Kalu, a cheeky street kid, has against all odds carved out a life for himself in rural India. In the quiet village of Hastinapore, Kalu makes friends: Bal, the solitary buffalo boy, and Malti, a gentle servant girl, who, with her mistress, Ganga Ba, has watched out for Kalu from the first day.

 Perched high in the branches of a banyan tree, Kalu chooses a leaf, rolls it tightly and, doing what he’s done for as long as he can remember, blows through it. His pure simple notes dance through the air attracting a travelling healer whose interest will change Kalu’s life forever, setting him on a path he would never have dreamed possible, testing his self-belief and his friendships.

With all the energy and colour of India and its people, Dancing to the Flute is a magical, heart-warming story of this community’s joys and sorrows, the nature of friendship and the astonishing transformative powers of music.

Manisha Jolie Amin was born in Kenya and moved to Australia with her family when she was five. Sydney is her home, although she travels frequently to both India and England to visit family. Manisha lives with her husband, son and cat. When not writing, she works for a children’s welfare charity. In 2011 Manisha received a PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney. Dancing to the Flute is her first novel. More…

Manisha Jolie Amin Blog:

Dancing to the Flute … Description and Reviews

Buy from the Co-op Bookshop and receive your member discount.

Paperback – AUD $29.99 inc. GST

ISBN: 9781742378572
Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN

September 30, 2011

Australian Writers Guild award winning script.

Huge congratulations to Roanna Gonsalves and her collaborators, Damien Millar, Raimondo Cortese, Görkem Acaroğlu, and the company of actors. Their script for the play Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime, which was produced by Melbourne Workers Theatre and performed in Melbourne in November 2010, won a prestigious Australian Writers Guild award for best script in the Community and Youth Theatre category. Award Winners were announced at a glittering ceremony on Friday September 23, 2011

Roanna Gonsalves

Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime was mainly constructed using the actual words of many Indian students who were attacked in Melbourne, education agents, counsellors, other Indian Australians, even a couple of young men who hold white supremacist views. Using humour, music and a bit of Bollywood dancing, the play presents a nuanced view of the attacks, and provides a space in which the actual words of the victims can be heard. The play had audiences laughing loudly as well as sobbing throughout the performance, and was a sell-out last year.

Roanna dedicated the award to the Indian students who were killed, namely Nitin Garg and Tosha Thakkar, and all Indian students who have experienced physical and verbal attacks in Australia. Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime has been invited to perform at Mumbai’s renowned Kala Ghoda festival in 2012. They are looking for sponsors to help them get to Mumbai.

Roanna is a graduate of the UTS Writing program, is currently doing a PhD at UNSW, and is also working on a television documentary with director Ana Tiwary of indiVisual films about Indian students in Australia, a play for Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye Initiative with director Susanna Dowling, and a novel set in India.

Roanna is also an advocate for a better representation of cultural diversity in the arts in Australia, and recently had an academic journal article published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the European Association of Studies on Australia. The article is entitled Multiculturalism and Mainstage Australian Theatre, and examines ways in which multiculturalism is governed on the Australian stage, and possible ways in which it may move towards becoming a better mirror of contemporary Australian society.”

 Canterbury-Bankstown Express article

YouTube trailer

The Australian Review of Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime

Roanna is also featured in the Spring issue of UTS Writers Alumni Writers Connect.

Please also see Roanna’s radio documentary Doosra,the Life and Times of an Indian student in Australia which was broadcast on ABC Radio National in February and Curry Muncher, a short story, published in Eureka Street.

August 31, 2011




(c) Abdul Hekmat Karim

Abdul is a University of Technology Sydney Graduate and a member of the UTS Writers’ Alumni. Originally from Afghanistan, he is now an Australian and volunteers at Villawood where he is an active advocate for refugees.

 The Australian government insists that many Afghan asylum seekers are not in need of protection, and can be forced to return. Most Afghans seeking refuge in Australia are from Hazara communities.

What is life like for Hazaras in Afghanistan – is it a safe haven?

 Abdul Karim Hekmat, a UTS graduate and former refugee from Afghanistan, documents his journey to the Hazara regions in 2010.

His pictures of daily life and continuing persecution, offer a profound insight into the humanity and the personal suffering of the Afghan people.


A Conference will be held on the final day of the Unsafe Haven Exhibition



 UTS Tower Foyer, Level 4

15 Broadway, Ultimo NSW 2007

 Be sure to drop in and view Abdul’s photographic exhibition.


June 17, 2011

UTS 25th Anthology and Queen’s Birthday Honours awards

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) 25th Anthology Celebration.

Angelo Loukakis and John Dale

The Chancellery was full of warmth from the large crowd attending the celebration of 25 years of anthologies of stories by UTS writers.

Such luminaries as Rachel Ward, Beth Yahp, Susanne Gervay, Angelo Loukakis mingled with other well known, established and emerging writers, as well as academics and alumni staff.

We learnt the history of the UTS writing courses and anthologies which have showcased the early work of writers including Mireille Juchau, Bernard Cohen, David Astle and Mark Dapin

We were treated to a lively performance of  “Mollycoddled” by Georgie Symons, one of the pieces included in the anthology, which added to the buzz in the room.

John Dale introduced Nichola Garvey and me to the writers in the room, so that those who hadn’t already found us could talk to us about joining the UTS Alumni Writers’ Network and Facebook page. Nichola and I are delighted at the response with a huge rise in membership.

I caught up with Ross Milbourne, Vice-Chancellor, and Angel Lin took this photo of us with Susanne Gervay.

UTS Vice Chanceller, Ross Milbourne, Susanne Gervay and Sharon Rundle

Well done to the organisers, Jane Miller, Liz Wood, Angel Lin and all at the Alumni office.

The life you chose and that chose you the 25th UTS anthology of stories can be purchased at all good bookstores, including Gleebooks and the UTS Co-op Bookshop, for $26.99.

More at

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2011

Also celebrating are Susanne Gervay and Peter FitzSimons who were honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2011.

Susanne  received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia. Susanne Gervay was appointed an OAM for service to children’s literature, and to professional organisations.   More on Susanne’s Blog

Peter FitzSimons has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia  ”for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator, and to the community through contributions to conservation, disability care, social welfare and sporting organisations”.

Read more

I was a friend of Peter’s mother, Helen, who was herself an OAM and I’m positive she would have been very proud of him. I wish she could be here to see him with his AM.

Congratulations, well done and well deserved to two of the most generous and hard working authors I know.

(photos at UTS supplied by Susanne Gervay)

April 17, 2011

New books to put on your reading list

New books:

We’re all set for some great reading  judging by the latest releases by friends and colleagues.  Congratulations to you all and I hope they all prove to be best sellers. Here’s a selection of fiction, non-fiction for adults and a children’s book:

Freedom from Toxic Relationships

Avril Carruthers

Available from May 2nd, 2011 in all good bookshops. Published by Allen & Unwin.

Avril is a Transpersonal psychotherapist  with over twenty years’ experience. She also reviews films. Avril is a regular Season of Inspiration writer and all at SOI send our congratulations to Avril on the publication of her latest book.

Good friend and colleague, Susanne Gervay has a picture book for children to add to her extensive list of books and stories, including her story ‘Days of Thailand’ in Fear Factor Terror Incognito.

Ships in the Field

by Susanne Gervay and illustrated by Anna Pignataro

In a unique collaboration, award-winning author Susanne Gervay and award-winning illustrator Anna Pignataro have created a moving and significant picture book, Ships in the Field. It crosses boundaries in a universal recognition that children are part of the journey of war, migration, loss and healing. Through warmth, humour, pathos and story within story, it breaks the silence engaging children, families and community. Susanne’s parents were post war Hungarian refugees who migrated to Australia. Anna’s parents were post war Italian refugees who migrated to Australia. They are a part of the many immigrant and refugee stories that make up Australia.

ISBN: 978-1-876462-87-1

Publication date: October 2011

Price: AUD$26.95

Age guide: 7+

Nichola Garvey, UTS Alumna and current editor of UTS “Writers Connect”, has just released her biography of Alan Tripp.

Beating the Odds, Nichola Garvey


Beating the Odds: Alan Tripp’s rise from illegal SP bookmaker to gambling kingpin

by Nichola Garvey

Alan Tripp, a man some call a genius and others call a criminal, became the world’s most successful private bookmaker. He was Australia’s most convicted SP bookmaker and was the prime target of gaming and vice squads around the country in the 1980s. Yet he would eventually sell his businesses for hundreds of millions of dollars. This is his story.

Starting-price bookies, although illegal, were long a feature of Australian life, giving punters the opportunity to have a bet away from the track. But with the rise of the TAB, police were ordered to stamp out all other off-course bookmaking in order to protect the state governments’ monopoly.

 Alan Tripp, the biggest SP bookie in Australia, was their number-one target. His punting clientele ranged from the high society of Sydney to the underbelly of Melbourne, and included Prime Minister Bob Hawke, media baron Kerry Packer, gangsters Lewis Moran and Alphonse Gangitano, and underworld figure Mick Gatto — as well as many leading trainers and jockeys of the day. Tripp’s life quickly became a rollercoaster of high-stakes gambling, with the dual threats of bankruptcy and prison never far behind.

 In a fearless and thrilling narrative, Nichola Garvey recounts the drama and intrigue of the life of Alan Tripp, the billion-dollar bookie who beat the odds.

ISBN: 9780732290979

Publication date: March 2011



In the Shadow of Legends

My dear friend and colleague in Delhi, India, Sujata Sankranti is about to release her latest book ‘In the Shadow of Legends’, published by Rupa, Delhi, India.

Sujata has joined us in a previous Season of Inspiration forum too. She is the author of “The Warp and the Weft”, Shristi, India. Sujata was overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 1998. Her story ‘An Eye for an Eye’ appeared in Fear Factor Terror Incognito, Pan Macmillan Picador India and Picador Australia.

May 1, 2010

Season of Inspiration and Book Reviews

The Season of Inspiration Online Writing Course

is in full swing with a great group of writers sharing stories, comments and experiences. It is always fascinating to read the varied responses to the activities and to meet new writers as well as re-connect with writers who have been with us for previous Seasons of Inspiration. It is stimulating and a lot of fun as well as some serious discussion and writing.

Reviews have come in for Fear Factor Terror Incognito

and we hear more may be forthcoming. Here are some snippets from the reviews so far:

“… a kind of two-nation project that seems timely …  Nagarkar’s brilliant tale of a man out to murder Rushdie being immediately followed, to devastating effect, by Rushdie’s contribution. Other standout pieces are by David Malouf, Rosie Scott, Denise Leith and Neelum Saran Gour.”

In Short: Fiction. Weekend Spectrum: Books. The Sydney Morning Herald 29 April

Three big names — Salman Rushdie, David Malouf and Thomas Keneally — are deservedly here by virtue of republished material, but there are plenty of stories from lesser-known writers from both India and Australia, many of which have been written specially for this book… Preceding Salman Rushdie’s contribution is Kiran Nagarkar’s darkly amusing In Search of Essar about a man determined to carry out the fatwa on Rushdie.”

Age, The (Melbourne, Australia) – Saturday, March 27, 2010.  Author: Reviewer Lorien Kaye.

“As well as the depression and angst you might expect, there are also flashes of satire, shifts in perspective, some science fiction, and possibly even some optimism that we will get through it all. Hopefully readers will finish the book with fresh insights.” Jonathan Marshall, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University Technology Sydney.

UTS: Newsroom –  U:Read it


Edited by Meenakshi Bharat & Sharon Rundle

Picador Pan Macmillan Australia

this collection is significant. It deals with fear and terrorism, but

also the fear of fear. And this is timely …”

Review by Hazel Edwards in Buzz Words and PIO online newsletters; ABC Books Online.


It is a collaborative effort to understand whether the artist responds to these violent times any differently than the layman. The answer, the editors argue, is in the affirmative.”

The Telegraph, Calcutta, India Friday, December 25 , 2009


‘”Australians and Indians know very little about each other,” Picaodr India has launched an Indo-Australian anthology on terrorism… iconic writers from both nations…diplomacy at work?’

Whisper Words, Neha Tara Mehta. Mail Today, New Delhi 13 Dec 2009

Talking of Rushdie, I find myself sharing space with him in an interesting new anthology edited by Meenakshi Bharat and Sharon Rundle. Fear Factor: Terror Incognito contains a number of stories and some extracts from novels that set out to explore the aura of fear pervading the world today.”

Tabish Khair

The Reading Room

The Mint Lounge, Wall Street Journal Fri, Jan 1 2010


Apart from recording the accounts of victims, relatives of victims and witnesses of terrorist acts, the collection has stories written from the perspective of terrorists themselves. These include Kiran Nagarkar’s ‘God’s Little Soldier’ (an extract), a wonderfully written story; David Malouf’s ‘Child’s Play’, a kind of poetic and introspective account by a terrorist; and Devika Brendon’s Packing Heat, a chilling story about a suicide bomber . . . the social pertinence of the book is significant and some of the stories are beautifully written.”

First City (Monthly), New Delhi January 2010


Sujata’s short story ‘’An Eye for an Eye’’ is an excerpt from her forthcoming novel ‘’In the Shadow of Legends’’. Regarding the theme of her novel, Sujata said that an act of terror did not end with the act. Its consequences go beyond the act. She said that her story was about the consequences of terrorism.”

Express News Service First Published : 29 Nov 2009 02:32:29 AM IST



Fear Factor Terror Incognito is available in all good book shops and online bookstores. It is also available from

and Picador Australia


April 2, 2010

Gosford Preview, UTS Tfc Anthology Panel & Sydney Book launch

Photos from:

The Preview of Fear Factor Terror Incognito at the East Gosford Regional Gallery on Friday March 19. *****************************************************************************************************************

An intelligent and informed debate during the University of Technology Sydney Transforming Cultures Research Centre Writers’ Anthology Panel at the  UTS  Gallery on March 17. Chair, Devleena Ghost; Panellists: Andrew Y M Kwong, Rosie Scott, Sujata Sankranti, Meenakshi Bharat, Susanne Gervay. Event organised by UTS  TfC and Sharon Rundle.

With a passionate and intelligent speech, Melina Marchetta launches Fear Factor Terror Incognito at The Hughenden. Reliable sources say that nearly 200 people attended. Contributing authors spent a long time signing copies of the book. It was fantastic to see so many of the authors there, willing to sign books and chat to people who came along to the launch. Books and Beyond made very good sales on the day. The Hughenden was full to bursting, with many people arriving early and having lunch as well but all went smoothly for a stylish and exciting event.   I enjoyed catching up will lots of people there.

Thanks to everyone who helped to organise this fabulous book launch.

February 21, 2010

Fear Factor Terror Incognito – Book Preview and Launch

To return to Australia now, plans are underway for the Gosford Preview and Sydney Launch of Fear Factor Terror Incognito, due for release on March 1.

author Sujata Sankranti with her book 'The Warp and the Weft'

Meenakshi Bharat Co-editor of Fear Factor Terror Incognito, Picador India & Picador Australia

Co-editor, Meenakshi Bharat and contributing author, Sujata Sankranti will be here for the week during which the book will be launched. Susanne Gervay, Andrew Y M Kwong, Carol Mara and I are looking forward to showing them Sydney, the NSW Central Coast and the Hunter. I believe everyone is looking forward to the book Preview and Launch.

The Sydney launch at The Hughenden Boutique Hotel promises to be a stellar night with distinguished guests ,  almost all the authors, as well as members of Australian-Indian associations planning to attend. Award winning author, Melina Marchetta will launch the book.

The Gosford Preview at the Gosford Regional Gallery is shaping up to be another exciting night with authors, local identities, members of the Australian-Indian communities, medics from the medical community, media, local organisations and more. Professor Sturmberg, A/Prof of General Practice at Monash University and The University of Newcastle, will launch the book at the Gosford Preview.

Invitations and a Press release have been sent out by Picador Australia to both these events.


An article in the Commonwealth Foundation Journal features Meenakshi, Sujata and me.  Read the online version of Short Story competition winners forge international links.

For more information on the Commonwealth Short Story Competition

Fear Factor Terror Incognito is also mentioned in a news item on the Asian Australian Studies Research Network website.

Meenakshi Bharat

Meenakshi and Sujata will be keynote speakers at the University of Technology Sydney, TransForming Culture Research Centre & Round Table Writing Anthology Panel, where they will discuss terrorism as it affects our day to day life and in relation to the newly released book Fear Factor Terror Incognito. Invited panellists are contributing authors: Meenakshi Bharat, Sujata Sankranti, Rosie Scott, Susanne Gervay, Andrew Y M Kwong and Tom Keneally. Chair is Devleena Ghosh.

The Anthology Panel will be held on Monday 15th March – 6pm for refreshments – 6:30 – 7:30 pm Anthology Panel at the UTS Gallery. UTS TFC will send out invitations for the Anthology Panel shortly.
For more information contact: Transforming Cultures at

Meenakshi Bharat is an Indian translator, reviewer and critic. Her special interests include children’s literature, women’s fiction and English studies – areas which she has researched extensively. Her published books are The Ultimate Colony (2003), Desert in Bloom: Indian Women Writers of Fiction in English (2004),  Filming The Line of Control and the recently published Salman Rushdie the Novelist, and an annotated edition of George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss. She was recently keynote speaker at the Modern Languages Association (MLA) in San Francisco. Currently she is engaged in translating a volume of Hindi short stories. She is also preparing a volume of short fiction  for publication. She is Associate Professor at Department of English Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi

Sujata Sankranti

Sujata Sankranti is author of The Warp and The Weft and has recently completed her novel In the Shadow of Legends. Sujata was overall winner of a Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She is retired Associate Professor at Department of English Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi. She is currently working on a new novel. She edits a Youth Journal. Sujata is of the Mavelikara Royal Family, all of whom are famous in one or another field of life. Recent media report about Sujata.

It will be a real rare treat to have Meenakshi and Sujata with us for a few days and it is shaping up to be an exciting and fun time.

Today’s Writing Tip

Polish a short short story suitable for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Your story should be around 600 words or 4:30 mins long.

The story should be written for broadcast on radio, so make sure it is auditory – read it aloud and tape it. Sound is the most important feature when writing for radio – the narrative voice and tone needs to be just right, the prose must have a pleasing rhythm when read.

It is a challenge to write a story contained in 600 words or less but a great joy when it works. Winning a Commonwealth Short Story Prize is a huge honour, achievement and a great buzz.

November 13, 2009

FRIDAY 13 & News about Books & Writing

Friday 13th

So much has happened lately that there has been little time for recording it. The Picador India book Fear Factor Terror Incognito is out and on its way to me, which is exciting news and I can hardly wait to see it.

The Picador Australia edition is progressing and will be released in March.

This week I’ll give a Poster Presentation about Fear Factor Terror Incognito at University of Technology Sydney to discuss the Indo-Aus anthology. Sincere thanks to Rod Morrison at Picador Australia for his enthusiasm for publishing an Australian edition of this exciting and unique volume of stories. Thanks also to Louise Bourke. Jane and Jeannine at Picador Australia have been wonderful with helping me with the UTS Poster Presentation on Tuesday; and Corey has created the poster for it. It is enormously encouraging to receive this kind of support. I’m also grateful to Shruti Debi our publisher at Picador India for delivery of copies of the anthology for the presentation.

Shruti is a consummate professional, meticulous yet enthusiastic about the publishing ventures she takes on. She is a joy to work with. She is to be commended for her faith in us in taking a risk to publish this anthology as well as for her dedication in producing a prestigious and quality edition of Fear Factor Terror Incognito.

me with Shruti Debi and Meenakshi Bharat at Picador India office in Delhi, India.

Me with Shruti and Meenakshi at Picador India office in Delhi, India.

Sincere thanks to co-editor Meenakshi Bharat for suggesting this project and for sticking with me to see it through to our ultimate aim of a 50/50 collaborative volume of Indo-Aus stories published in India and Australia.

My thanks also to my dear friend Sujata who introduced me to Meenakshi when she asked me to contribute to Meenakshi’s book Desert in Bloom – Contemporary Indian Women’s Fiction in English. Sujata and I have been friends and colleagues for over ten years now.

In March, 2010, Meenakshi Bharat and author Sujata Sankranti will visit Sydney, where they will speak and read from Fear Factor Terror Incognito at several venues; including the UTS  TransForming Culture Research Centre, The NSW Writers Centre and the Sydney launch of the anthology.

The contributing authors who were, of course, central to and essential for the anthology deserve congratulations and sincere thanks, too. I am glad to say that their contractual copies of the book are on their way.

Meanwhile plans are going ahead for me and some of our authors to attend the IASA Goa 2010 Conference. I acknowledge and sincerely appreciate the support of Professor Sareen, Professor Gopal, the Australia-India Council Travel Grant to attend the conference and the Creative Industries’ Career Fund of Copyright Australia limited Cultural Fund Award. These organisations have made the visit to Goa possible. Congratulations to all the authors and academics who have been accepted for the Conference.

last week I stayed at The Hughenden with my sister and enjoyed the warm and superb hospitality of Susanne Gervay. We had the best time and I wholeheartedly recommend The Hughenden Boutique Hotel. My sister and I were pampered with delicious meals and the softest beds—my mattress felt like feather down; I had the best night’s sleep and it was difficult to leave it in the morning. The scrumptious Hughenden breakfast was well worth getting up for though.

Susanne has a photo of the three of us at The Hughenden on her blog

Susanne, Bernie and I also went to the Books: Bridges and Beyond, Room to Read Literary Event, with special guest Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. The event was held in the Tea Room at the Queen Victoria Building and was so well attended, there was quite a crush.

Room to Read is a global not-for-profit foundation that brings books and builds libraries for children in developing countries in Asia and Africa. It is well worth supporting.

The Sydney writers’ group Company of Writers is publishing their fourth anthology of stories, titled Secret Cows in early December. The group first started in 1990 under the direction of Stephanie Dowrick and continues to meet regularly each month. It also continues to evolve with a mix of members who formed the original group and others who have since joined.

Congratulations to Jeremy Fisher on his new academic appointment as Senior Lecturer in Writing at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW. He has now resigned from the Australian Society of Authors and will be greatly missed. Jeremy spent his time as Executive Director tirelessly assisting authors, promoting authors’ rights and championing causes such as Parallel Importation of Books, among many others. His story “The Liberation Centre” published in Fear Factor Terror Incognito is memorable, haunting and timeless. Wishing you all the best, Jeremy.

Today’s Writing Tip:
It’s Friday 13th, are you the suspicious type? A Friday 13th falling a week after Hallowe’en? Surely, it must be a night for writing a gothic novel or at least a creepy story. Think of Mary Shelley creating Dr Frankenstein and his monster…think of The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Create your own Friday 13th mystery.

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