Five Years On, Still Seen

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AYSM - Cover With Quote 2

It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the fifth anniversary of Are You Seeing Me? coming into the world.

The little novel about Justine and Perry’s last glorious vacation together was released August 2014 and things would never quite be the same for its grateful author.

It managed to do amazing things, including this.

And this.

And even this.

Perhaps most impressively, it has managed to stick around, still getting read here, still being discussed there.

To celebrate AYSM’s continuing journey, I thought I’d share a little bit of the behind-the-scenes that shaped the novel we know today. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about AYSM.

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Participation Ribbons (Part 3)

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Good Job

2015 was, without doubt, the year of Are You Seeing Me?. By November, it had achieved nine big-time recognitions on three continents, including five major prize shortlistings. Then the year ended with a nod in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Over twelve months, I’d pinched myself so much I took out a self-restraining order.

The ticking over of the calendar to 2016 felt like the end of AYSM‘s dream run, especially with my focus now firmly set on the draft of the follow-up novel, Where You Are Now. The little book with the car and the cracks and the marauding monster on the cover, though, was not yet prepared to shed its sneakers.

In fact, it was saving up a finishing kick of epic proportions.

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Participation Ribbons (Part 2)

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Good Job

Back in April, I posted about how 2015 had already achieved ‘house on fire’ status in the Are You Seeing Me? chase for literati glory. Given we’re now in November, I figured I should update you on the six months that have passed.

What a caper.

While still coming down from the CBCA shortlist clouds (it rightfully took several months), I discovered that AYSM was a finalist for the Griffith University YA Book Award in the QLA’s. To receive this nod from my state of origin was very gratifying and took me back to my very first brush with literary acknowledgement: a shortlisting in the 2004 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards’ young adult category for Most Valuable Potential.

Next came two very cool pats on the back.

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Words Gone, Words Returned

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Journal

11.00am, July 21st 2001. In the too-familiar confines of Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital, my daughter is born. Three minutes later, my son follows.

How to properly mark the arrival of my children into the world? What can I do to let them know they are loved from the first second forward?

I will write them a journal. One each. Until their fifth birthdays. It makes sense; I have so few skills, but seeing lives, conjuring thoughts, assembling words – these are my staples.

I write. Moments of hilarity, of poignancy. I fill small pages with tiny details and big imagination. Flickers of a technicolour film in its formative months. I write fast for ten months.

Then I am slow.

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The Google Map Of The AYSM Road Trip

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Are You Seeing Me? has conquered Australia and will soon be starting its journey to find readers in Canada and the US of A. Prior to the August 18 release with Orca Book Publishers, it’s worth noting that the stars of AYSM – Justine and Perry – had to travel a few hard yards of their own.

Want proof?

Below is the Google map of the twins’ two week road trip in the story (click to enlarge), taking in a good chunk of the mighty Pacific Northwest including Vancouver, Seattle, Whistler and Ogopogo’s home, Okanagan Lake.

In all, Justine and Perry covered almost 1,500 kilometres and occupied their rented Chevy Cobalt for just over seventeen hours!

And for those wondering about their Aussie driving tendencies, they did so entirely on the right (and right) side of the road.

AYSM - Trip Google Map 4

Participation Ribbons

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Good Job

2015 is the Aussie awards season for Are You Seeing Me? and, if the first four months is any guide, it’s a year that’s going straight to the pool room.

It started off with a delightful nod from those very fine fans at Booktopia. As an added bonus, they included a faker with the movers and shakers on their annual ‘Australia’s Favourite Novelist‘ poll. Like a qualifier facing Roger Federer at Wimbledon, I was disposed of quickly and efficiently in the first round…But, man, was it good to play Centre Court.

In March came a recognition that is a source of particular pride. The International Board on Books for Young Adults (IBBY) compiled their 2015 list of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities and Are You Seeing Me? was among the 50 chosen. AYSM was one of two successful Australian entries in a worldwide submission involving 159 books and 27 countries and was a part of IBBY’s catalogue that did the rounds at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Those successes were humbling.

Then came April.

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The ‘Are You Seeing Me?’ Chapter No One Is Seeing

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Mind Blown

Mind Blown

Australian literary legend (and good friend), Nick Earls, recently blogged a section of his marvellous 2014 novel, Analogue Men, that was binned during editing. Whilst enjoying this tasty morsel trimmed from the published main meal, I thought: “Let’s cook up some leftovers, too!” In Are You Seeing Me?, I had one I’d prepared earlier.

Much earlier.

Pasted below is a long-removed, never-read, never-seen-apart-from-a-select-few section of AYSM. It wasn’t surrendered during the publisher’s edit or the final draft. It wasn’t canned as a condition of the book’s contract.

It was cut from the ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT!

And, although I liked the original very much, the cut wasn’t unkind. Quite the opposite.

It helped turn a homeless tale into a Random House resident and, ultimately, a Booktopia 2014 Book of the Year.

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