Meet Jewelene Barrile

Airey's 1I was lucky enough to spend last weekend down the coast with award winning writer, Jewelene Barrile. Her beach shack is at Airey’s Inlet, an area of great natural beauty. Jewelene and I first met at Varuna – The Writer’s House during a residency overseen by the legendary Peter Bishop. I fell in love with her writing way back then, and the love affair continues. We are now cross-over members of two writing groups, the talented Little Lonsdale Group and also the Darklings, a group formed at that original Varuna residency.



JeweleneJewelene is a bookseller and bibliophile. Her fiction is distinguished by its passionate love for books themselves, for the truths they hold, and for their beauty as objets d’art. Her writing is highly original, featuring rich, sensual imagery that transforms our mundane world into one of exquisite and often heartbreaking beauty. Little wonder she has won the prestigious Josephine Ulrick Prize for Literature, as well as the Marion Eldridge award. Here, for example, Jewelene writes of a father reading his child a bed time story.

‘He settled in his chair, smoothing the book open with his palm. His long fingers traced the edges of the covers as the text drew him in. From the floor where I sat to watch him read, I saw stray columns of books rise like a forest all around us and grow, and grow. When he sighed, I imagined leaves dropping from the pages of his book and falling on his lap. If he frowned, I saw tangles of roots and deep, dark shadows. I heard the rustle of paper as he turned the page.’

(The geometry lesson

From Griffith REVIEW Edition 30: The Annual Fiction Edition © Copyright Griffith University & the author.

The link is here if you want to read the whole story. )

Jewelene and I spent our time reading, writing and talking about the editing process. I’ve just finished the edits for Currawong Creek, and Jewelene is in the throes of a structural edit for her award winning manuscript, The Cartography Lesson. The subject of editing is, of course, close to both our hearts. There’s nothing quite like talking writing with other writers. No yawns, no glazed eyes, no amused smiles. Instead, a genuine connection over a shared passion. Thanks for the weekend Jewelene. We must do it again soon …

Author Bio:

Jewelene Barrile is the buyer for Coventry bookstore in Melbourne. She was awarded fellowships from Varuna and Olvar Wood writers′ centres in 2010, and in 2009 received the Marian Eldridge award. Her short story The Geometry Lesson won the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize, and was published in Griffith Review 30, additionally short listing for 2010 New Australian Stories and the 2011 The Best Australian Stories. Her completed manuscript, The Cartography Lesson, was shortlisted for the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award 2011, and has since won a 2011 HarperCollins Varuna Award for Manuscript Development. Close is her second manuscript in-progress.

A New Owl Identified

Southern Boobook

Southern Boobook

I am a great owl lover. These elusive birds have held a special fascination for humans throughout the centuries.  Countless lore, myths and superstitions are associated with owls, and it’s easy to see why. They appear mysteriously from the darkness. Legend  endows them with supernatural knowledge, and their large eyes and bespectacled appearance enhances this belief. A group of owls is known as a parliament, a wisdom or a study. The Greeks for example, considered owls as a symbol of good fortune and associated them with Athene, the goddess of wisdom. However the Romans thought they were evil. They believed owls were omens of disaster. Their hoot was considered to be the call of death. Even today, the standard metaphor for danger in film is their eerie call, or the glimpse of an owl near the scene of the crime.

Powerful Owl

Powerful Owl

Several types of owl live here at Pilyara. I am often lulled to sleep by the rhythmic call of the little Southern Boobook. We have even spotted the rare and magnificent Powerful Owl. Everything to do with owls gives me a thrill. So imagine my delight to hear that a brand new species has been identified to the north of Australia, on the small island of Lombok, Indonesia.



Rinjani Scops Owl

Rinjani Scops Owl

This photo, taken by independent researcher Philippe Verbelen, shows a pair of Rinjani Scops owls. They were discovered by accident when scientists looking for another bird, noticed their distinct whistling song. The small owls, with brown and white feathers and big golden eyes, had been confused with a similar-looking species for more than a century. Their new English name comes from Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano that looms over Lombok.

We live in a time when the extinction rate is gathering frightening speed. The identification of this gorgeous little owl comes as a welcome contrast to so much tragic news. Long may the Rinjani Scops Owl prosper!


Kermit, the Superb Parrot

I finished my edits for Currawong Creek (June release) this week, and was too busy for my usual Sunday post. So here it is, better late than never!

Kermit 002We have a wide variety of beautiful parrots here at Pilyara: Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Rosellas, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots, Galahs, Little Corellas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, Gang-Gang Cockatoos and even the occasional Long-Billed Corella. These are the usual suspects. So I was very surprised at the arrival of a green parrot which I’d never seen here before.

kermit 2I identified her as a Superb Parrot hen. After a bit of research, I discovered this parrot lives in New South Wales and northern Victoria, on the inland slopes of the Great Divide and along adjacent river systems. In other words, she does not belong in the southern Victorian ranges. The parrot (who we promptly dubbed Kermit), was quite tame and on closer inspection, a band could be seen on her leg. Kermit was an escapee from captivity. I wish she could tell me her story!

After much ringing around, I got onto a lady from the Bayles Fauna Park. She convinced me that I should catch Kermit and take her to the park, as a domesticated bird would not last long in the wild. I managed this without too much trouble, and Kermit now lives in a spacious aviary with others of her kind.

prc_bannerWhile researching what to do about our unusual visitor, I came across a remarkable organisation called the Parrot Rescue Centre.

It is prc adoption 2dedicated to improving the lives of suffering, abused and unwanted pet parrots by providing an appropriate environment for their individual needs. Its main aim is to educate people about the correct diet, housing, enrichment and training of these highly intelligent and long-lived birds. It also runs a rescue and adoption program, as well as a lost and found service. It is fascinating to browse their website, and see the gorgeous birds available for rehoming, such as this lorikeet. Why don’t you go and like their Facebook page, or even give them a donation? They are an inspiration!


One Little White Lie – Loretta Hill

Loretta HillPlease welcome Loretta Hill to Pilyara. Loretta is a number one best-selling author of contemporary fiction set in unique Australian settings. Her books sell like hot cakes. In fact her new novella One Little White Lie is currently sitting at the top of the ITunes charts! Today she gives us an insight into her writing and hints about what’s coming next.

Good Morning Loretta. Tell us about the sort of stories that you write?

Broadly, I write commercial women’s fiction which incorporates some romance.  Specifically, I have written two big outback stories set on the Pilbara. They are called, “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” and “The Girl in the Hard Hat.” These stories are about strong woman trying to work in a male dominated environment against the glorious backdrop of Australia’s red north. I have also written two romantic comedies set in urban Sydney, “Kiss and Tell” and now just released this month by Random Romance, “One Little White Lie.”

So tell me about your latest release?

One Little White Lie CoverOne Little White Lie” is a romantic comedy novella that will be released as an e-book only.

 It’s about a girl called Kate who is the current project of the match maker from hell. She knows that her best friend is not going to stop fixing her up with strange men unless she tells her that she is happily dating someone. Who knew that one little white lie could so blatantly backfire?

The imaginary boyfriend she described to her friend suddenly walks into her life and starts making himself comfortable in it.  Trapped by her lie, poor Kate is powerless to stop him. But the real question is, does she really want to?

Where did this idea come from?

HardHat cover finalWhen I was much younger, I’m talking high school, my single girlfriends and I always used to get a giggle out of talking about our dream guys.  When you’re young and going through all that teenage angst, you always think you’re never going to meet anyone. I always thought, wouldn’t it be great if one day my fantasy guy just appeared in my life as if he’d always been there.  This is sort of what I did to Kate. It was such a fun story to write. I think everyone’s been in an embarrassing situation brought about by their own foolishness.  You know the feeling where you just wish the ground would open up and swallow you. I loved giving Kate exactly what she wanted in exactly the wrong way.

What are you working on next?

Steel caps coverAt the moment I’m working on the third and final instalment to my Fly in, Fly out Girls Series. The title is The Girl in the Yellow Vest. It will include some characters from my previous two books but also a lot of new ones. The job is now in Queensland at the Dalrymple Bay Coal terminal. I think this one is going to be heaps of fun. If readers haven’t tried one of my books before, I know Random House is offering a free e-sampler. (

Thanks Loretta, and I look forward to your next great read! For more information about Loretta and her books see


Book Giveaway Winners!

australiadaybloghopThank you to everybody who participated in last week’s Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. The winners drawn randomly are Tara Nikelis (Wasp Season) and Jess Fitz (Brumby’s Run).

I was very moved by the many thoughtful comments. It’s great to see so many people care about the plight of our native plants and animals. Any commenter who missed out can have a signed copy of Wasp Season for $10 or Brumby’s Run for $15 and I will pay the postage. Just drop me an email at

The Tassie Tiger and Tassie Devil were clear winners in the comment stakes! Obviously these unique marsupial carnivores hold a special place in Aussie hearts. Once again, thanks to everybody who participated in the blog hop. It was a lot of fun!BB2013_Nominee