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Socially Aware

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  1. Drag over coals

    Last month I found myself on a fast train from Edinburgh to London. Too tired to read, I spent the whole journey gazing out the window. Recollecting that journey, one memory stands out: the number of wind farms, none of them that far from residential areas. I mentioned this to the couple seated by me, and they said that people are used to them. They realise the necessity. I have no idea if that is true, but their comment had me thinking how absurdly precious Australia can be.



    Also, we passed a solar farm, tucked beside the railway tracks. Obviously someone decided those panels would generate enough power, despite cloud.
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  2. Long gone the old ways …

    As any anthropologist will tell you, the old ways of indigenous cultures the world over are always tramped on in the name of progress. Some are decimated, wiped from the earth like unwanted crumbs. Others allowed to exist on the fringes, tolerated, ignored and oppressed all at once. Then there are smaller cultures absorbed into a larger dominant culture, seeping into language and custom. And then there are those wiped away by the dishrag of colonisation, only to be resurrected as curiosities for the edification of tourism.


    view of Los Helechos through our front door


    Here on Lanzarote, the indigenous people, the Conojeros,
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  3. Shifting perspectives

    Day 6 and my awe and delight at having returned are replaced by an acute awareness. Here are some of my observations.

    Lanzarote is an island of contrasts. The everyday lives of the locals, with their tight knit family networks, their lives lived behind closed doors, and the tourists. Like almost all tourist destinations where the industry has planted itself in amongst a local culture and boomed, the people and their traditions, their culture, seems squeezed aside. At times tourism manifests like a sycamore in a foreign land, a eucalypt in Africa, a cane toad, a feral cat. Tourism, in essence temporary migration, fostered and serviced by a corporate edifice with no conscience.

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  4. Hanging out in Oxford

    This trip to Lanzarote wouldn’t have been complete without a detour to Oxford to catch up with my oldest friends! Sue Raikes and Adrian Moyes still live in the quaint village of Eynsham, six miles west of Oxford, where I lived back in 84. Introducing them to my travelling companion and publisher, Michelle Lovi was a delight.



    The highlight of the flight was the refuel stopover in Dubai. Just two hours filled with queuing and shuffling about withe the carry on luggage, but it did prove just enough for Michelle to purchase a tin of Chocodates. I had no idea why she was on a mission to buy them until offered a free sample. An almond
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  5. Crowdfunding Eco-crime novel La Mareta

    It is true that when I meet someone I find a little curious for whatever reason, I study them, absorb them, listen to their stories with avid ears knowing full well a version of them will end up in one of my books. I feel like a vulture picking over others’ characteristics. Still, that makes me no different from any other author. I’m currently casting for La Mareta, so watch out!!



    I’m also crowdfunding to help bring La Mareta to fruition. Your pledge will help me fund the research side of the project. Like its predecessor, the acclaimed novel The Drago Tree, this new novel is set on the volcanic island of Lanzarote. That’s over
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    Updated 21st December 2015 at 01:17 PM by Mick Pacholli

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    Toorak Times - Socially Aware , Authors and Contributors , Socially Aware , isobelblackthorn
  6. After the fanfare



    So, I’ve published a book. That’s fantastic news! All those years of slavish labour coming to a glorious culmination – the release. The Drago Tree is my second novel published by Odyssey Books in this auspicious year of 2015. My year! I’ve made it. Crossed that line that feels like the Grand Canyon. There’s the endorsement. There’s the kudos. There’s the fanfare of the press releases, the radio shows, the launches. Fans grab their signed copies. Friends congratulate me on my success. It’s such a high. Then…

    You wait…and nothing happens.

    No Google alerts. Nothing on Goodreads. Or Amazon. You run an eye
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  7. Narrative as Navigation Through the Self: Isobel Blackthorn’s Asylum

    (‘Narrative as Navigation Through the Self: Isobel Blackthorn’s Asylum by Ness Mercieca wasoriginally published in the October 2015 edition of The Tertangala)



    They say the mind does not create, and that it only cuts and pastes the stimulus it receives from the outside world.

    Author Isobel Blackthorn has a talent for this, in fact, I often get the feeling with her that she is cataloguing my idiosyncrasies. I suspect I am not the only one to suspect this, and that she has an arsenal of our traits and habits to be appropriated for the right character at the right time. It’s the literary skill that brought us Plath’s
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  8. Colonisation in Reverse


    Louise Bennett (1919-2006)


    I’m sharing a poem I first came across in the 80s when I was studying a course with the Open University, UK, called, ‘Third World Studies.’ It was a brilliant multidisciplinary introduction to the North South divide. Hats off to the OU for that seminal moment in my life.

    The 80s seem a distant memory but so much of what we see happening and complain about today has its roots in that time of transition, from widespread social democracy in the North, with Keynesian influenced economies holding Capital in check, to Neoliberalised economies in Northern nations, whose citizenry find themselves going
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  9. Silencing the lambs: Asylum seekers are a metaphor for our times



    On Line Opinion have just published my latest piece on asylum seekers, for which I am very grateful. The photo here sums up my belief in what Australians are capable of. If this many can gather behind a banner in a tiny village in the middle of a wilderness, then we can only imagine the swell of people standing up, standing for, standing behind this one banner, a banner that represents solidarity with those at the pinnacle of all that is wrong with the world today – asylum seekers.

    Here’s the article. Please share far and wide –
    Silencing the lambs: Asylum seekers are a metaphor for our times ...
  10. Launching Asylum on World Refugee Day

    Just got home from the launch of my novel, Asylum, at Well Thumbed Books, Cobargo NSW, as part of local activities for World Refugee Day. We raised $1,000!!! Big thank you to all who came and made it happen. I’m so proud to live in this warm-hearted and generous community. We showed the world that refugees matter!



    Standing room only!!! What a turnout!




    Asylum is a rewarding read, rather like a meal when you savour every
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  11. Are we a world at war?


    Head with broken pot, Georgia O’Keeffe


    Are we a world at war?

    Surely for a world to be at war there should be some cohesion behind geographical lines.

    There should be advancing fronts. There should be a war office and sirens in the streets.

    ‘Where are the bomb shelters?’ we in Western nations cry. Go away and leave us be! We are at peace, not war!

    But that doesn’t account for all of us. Maybe less than 1% is small, too small to care about, but not when it translates into 60 million.

    60 million refugees. That’s according to the UNHCR; nearly 60 million people
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  12. Getting acclimatised to horror


    PHOTO: For a country that values its commitment to human rights as does Australia, the silence in the face of Rohingya suffering is a humiliating moment. (AFP: Christophe Archambault)


    Still, it’s easier to shut my ears and eyes to Eurovision and not be affected by it. Whereas hearing the latest spin on those asylum seekers languishing in South Asian waters is something I can’t disengage from. Julie Bishop has been told by Indonesian officials that the Bangladeshis on those boats are all illegal labourers, or ‘economic migrants’ and not refugees at all. I dare say there will be much debate and speculation about the validity
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  13. Asylum seekers are not a problem: they’re people



    With thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in the Straits of Malacca, crammed into boats without food and water, rejected by country after country and towed back out to sea, the desperation of vast numbers of people scrambling to reach safer shores could not be starker. They may be fleeing terror. They may be fleeing destitution. And we must strive to understand the circumstances of such flights in their entirety before we dare to point an accusatory finger.

    The blame game will only succeed for so long. A hugely successful propaganda technique is to isolate the ‘fall guy’ and blame to the hilt. When it comes to asylum seekers, we
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  14. Asylum to be released on 20th May!!!

    I am delighted to announce that Odyssey Books will be releasing a paperback edition of my first novel, Asylum, on 20 May 2015.

    I’ll be signing copies at Belgrave Book Barn on 6th June.



    Exciting times ahead!
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