Latest Book: The Secret of the Black Bushranger

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Snapshot of a day

Today I’ve:
- had 2,381 sticky hugs;
- 5 non-sticky hugs;
- 3 incredibly sticky hugs served with smears of apple crumble
- served 20 meals (apple crumble for dessert);
- read Too Many Pears and Hairy Charlie and the Frog and Christmas Wombat 9,822 times;
- explained the life cycle of golden skinks and why there are absolutely no crocodiles in Majors Creek;
- or boa constrictors or wolves;
- pulled on wolf gloves to be the big bad wolf and then was chased by the wolf  when my turn with the gloves was over;
- urged everyone to please eat more as both fridges and freezer are stuffed with leftovers;
- written 3,400 words of the next book in the Matilda series; and
think I am ready for nine hours deep sleep, wombats permitting. Which they should be. The grass is so lush they ignore the carrots even when they’re laid near the wombat holes. Carrots? Who wants carrots? Humans? I did meet some once, somewhere …
Wombats are the opposite of fair weather friends. They only want to know you when the grass withers or loses flavour in the frost.


Horace the Baker’s Horse won the ACT Children’s Book of the Year – many many thanks to the judges and to the brilliant illustrator Peter Gray and the team at the National Museum. A Waltz for Matilda also won the KROC Kid’s choice award … thank you to the wonderful NT librarians who organise the KROC awards and all the young people who vote. 

New books 

Barney and the Black Bushranger
Deeply researched, this is the third in the Secret History books about Barney Bean and Elsie No Name in the early NSW colony. This book tells the story of a black African convict, John Caesar, who became Australia’s first bushranger and was known as Black Caesar. Was he hero, slave or villain, or possibly all three? Did Mr Richard Johnson, the colony’s first chaplain, help him escape? And if he did, did he do wrong or right?

The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman 
For adults from 14 years and up.
Could the world’s most famous author stop writing when he retired? Part love story, part historical detective work, this is the story of the young Shakespeare told by the old one … and the book where I discovered evidence that … possibly, even probably, Shakespeare faked his own death. Read the book to find out why.

If Blood Should Stain the Wattle
The 6th in the Matilda series, written for adults from 12 upwards.
This is Australia from 1972-1975, with the Whitlam government sweeping away twenty-three years of Coalition tradition as seen through the eyes of a country town. It was a time of deep idealism throughout the nation – even if many of those ideals differed deeply.
In Gibbers Creek Jed must choose between old love, Nicholas, the new Labor Party MP, and Sam, from the Half Way to Eternity commune; Scarlett dreams of becoming a doctor, despite her wheelchair; Ra Zachariah waits for the end of the world – and the coming of a new one and is prepared to be ruthless to make sure it arrives.
And Matilda Thompson will see her father’s political dream from the 1890s made real; she will see mistakes, conspiracies, anguish and elation; and finally be proud that even as the nation is torn apart in the dismissal, no blood did stain the wattle.

Grandma Wombat (with Bruce Whatley)
Age range … everyone!
Our grandkids are always perfect. Even if you are a wombat. Especially if you are a wombat … and your grandson is as stroppy as you are.
Also look for:
Wombat Goes to School … perfect for kids about to start school or who need some extra enthusiasm for the years to come.

Holiday reading suggestions

Oracle: adventure, horses, ancient Greece, ages 10-16.
Pharaoh: ditto, but ancient Egypt.
They Came on Viking Ships: Vikings, a dog, love, adventure.
Let the Land Speak: How the land created the history of our nation. Adults.
Backyard Self-sufficiency: How to grow everything except chocolate in your backyard.

Books coming soon!

Millie Loves Ants, with the glorious Sue De Gennaro
This is a story we dreamed up three years ago watching her daughters explore the valley. You’ll need to wait for March for the rest.

Goodbye, Mr Hitler
The sequel to both Hitler’s Daughter and Pennies for Hitler and the hardest book I have ever written and, possibly, the best. And to the thousands who have written asking questions about both: this book will answer them and I hope give far more. To be published this April.

Third Witch
This is the next in the Shakespeare series. It is about ‘the Scottish play’, with absolutely no witchcraft and enough love to balance the evil and a woman’s voice to lessen the misogyny. And if you think you know the play, you may not expect this ending, which has everything Shakespeare put in it – and more.

The Roaring Days (tentative title)
The next in the Matilda saga, which did not end with Matilda’s death in the last book, not when ghosts can be heard as you pass by the billabong and when time can slip for Jed, Nicholas and Flinty … and sometimes others, too.



This doesn’t include many other non-public events – it’s just meant as a guide to where I may be if there is anything else possible while I’m nearby. For bookings check the terms on the website and/or contact Booked Out, Melbourne.
29 – 30 January - Melbourne Conference
18 –19 March - Keynote at the Wombat Protection Society Conference, Penrith. 
18 March - First public performance of Diary of a Wombat. Yay!
7 – 9 April - Newcastle Writer’s Festival and performance with the orchestra.
26 – 28 May - Townsville Literary Festival.
8 – 9 June - Adelaide SEATA
8 – 9 July- Sydney, launch of Goodbye, Mr Hitler and  talks at the Sydney Jewish Museum

The January Garden

Advice on keeping cool, making New Years Resolutions and understanding chooks in summer. Read all about the January Garden, here.

The Holiday Crumble
5 Spice Sticky Chicken Wings
Fried Bananas 
Fruit Crush
Caramel Tart
Passionfruit Tiramisu

Sweet Potato Rock Cakes

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