Category Archives: Book

Paperback edition of Thicker Than Water

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I love the new paperback covers. Available from 23 February, 2017.

I’ll also be appearing alongside the historian Jim Hunter at the Aye Write! book festival in Glasgow, at the Mitchell Library on Wednesday 15th March at 6.30pm. We’ll be discussing the impact of the Highland Clearances – in Scotland and beyond. Hope to see you there. Tickets.

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TTW picked as one of The Times’ Books of the Year

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I somehow managed to miss this when it first came out, but a friend has very kindly drawn my attention to Thicker Than Water‘s inclusion among The Times’ Books of the Year 2016.

It was picked by reviewer and columnist Melanie Reid, who also wrote the lovely  review that will feature on the new paperback cover (out February 23rd). I’m delighted and extremely grateful.

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Australian coverage of McMillan name change

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-20-49-11Australia’s national public broadcasting network SBS ran a segment about the ongoing campaign to change the name of the McMillan Electorate in Victoria, now that McMillan’s role in the brutal massacres of the Gippsland ‘black war’ has become more widely known and accepted. Historian Peter Gardner, Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, Koorie heritage consultant (and Gunaikurnai man) Russell Mullett and myself were all interviewed by SBS reporter Sacha Payne. Watch it and read the accompanying article here.

 

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Thicker Than Water: dates for the diary

Cam Cope:Steaphan Paton's Wallung Githa Unsettled series4

Since I last wrote, Thicker Than Water has made a few more appearances in the media. I was ecstatic to see it featured in the Guardian’s ‘Best books of summer 2016’, selected by the brilliant writer Reni Eddo-Lodge. It has also appeared in The Economist and The Week, as well as being chosen as BBC Radio nan Gaidheal’s book of the month (Leugh an Leabhar). Short extracts have also run in the Scotland on Sunday and the Metro.

Over the coming, I’ll be doing some more book-related events, which I detail below. Maybe I’ll see you there!

  • 4th August, 7.30pm: Skye Festival, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (Sleat, Isle of Skye). Tickets.
  • 16th August, 2.15pm: Edinburgh Book Festival (with Candace Savage). Tickets.
  • 27th August, 3pm: solo event. Canberra Writers Festival (National Library). Free tickets can be reserved here.
  • 28th August, 11.30am: Unveiling Hidden History with Cal Flyn, Bruce Pascoe and Tom Dusevic. Canberra Writers Festival (Museum of Australian Democracy). Tickets.
  • 29th/30th August: Sydney, currently only private events – I’ll post an update if that changes.
  • 31st August, 7pm: Collins Bookshop, Sale, Gippsland. Full details to follow.
  • 1 September, time TBC: book event, Yarram. Details to follow
  • 22nd September, 7pm: Edinburgh Bookshop, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh.
  • 25th September, 10.30am: Wigtown Book Festival (County Buildings). Tickets.

 

Further coverage of Thicker Than Water

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I thought I’d pull together briefly some of the coverage of Thicker Than Water over the last few weeks:

  • Full page review, by Elizabeth Lowry, in The Guardian.

    Flyn deftly captures the looking-glass world of the antipodean landscape, so alien to European eyes… Her account is vivid with a sense of its strangeness; lyrically responsive to the odd local fauna and flora…
    The urgent question, “How can things be fixed?” infuses every page. To her credit, Flyn is aware of the ugly likelihood that they can’t.

  • Review, by Allan Massie, in The Scotsman, who took issue with the “fashionable” concept of ‘inherited guilt’, but otherwise found the book

    full of interest and intelligently and evocatively written. [Flyn] gives a vivid picture of the landscape and way of life, and explores the complexities and silences of Australian history… Her book is not only continuously interesting, and the author’s character as pleasing and sympathetic as her eye for detail and oddity is sharp, it also offers a salutory lesson.

  • Review in The Economist:

    Tracing McMillan’s footsteps, she conjures up the landscape of Gippsland, plaiting together travelogue, history, diaries and reflections… McMillan has come to symbolise some of the very worst excesses of Australia’s violent colonial past. So it is a tribute to Ms Flyn’s empathy for his “moral ambivalence” that when she comes to write of his death—possibly suicide—aged 54, the reader feels pity as well as relief.

  • A drawing together of reviews, in The Week
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  • Interview on Radio 4’s Midweek: full episode of Libby Purves’ Wednesday arts show is available to listen to here.
  • Interview on BBC Scotland’s Culture Show with Janice Forsyth: available to listen to here.

Continue reading

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Thicker Than Water reviewed in The Times of London

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I was delighted to find a lovely review of Thicker Than Water in The Times’ Saturday Review section this weekend – I was especially pleased to find it was written by Melanie Reid, whose Spinal Column in The Times Magazine (about her recovery from a terrible riding accident, which left her tetraplegic) I have often admired for its bravery and emotional acuity.

The resulting book is stunning. Thicker than Water is a thrilling debut, a true story that reads like classy, compelling fiction… 

Thicker than Water combines memoir, history, travelogue and lyrical nature writing into a dramatic page-turner. It succeeds above all because of its two striking protagonists: the dishonourable, flawed McMillan, as brave and brutal and morally ambiguous as his century, and Flyn herself. Her ballsiness and likeability, as the narrator and the heroine of the travelogue, made her an irresistible companion

My book is available on pre-order from Waterstones and Amazon.co.uk.

The full review can be found on the Times website here (£) or after the fold. Continue reading

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Thicker Than Water: out now in Oz

Thicker Than Water is now available to buy in bookshops in Australia. I spoke to ABC Radio National’s Cassie McCullagh on Tuesday (Wednesday there) about the book, and what it felt like to learn and research these terrible events, which is available to listen to here.

The Weekend Australian published an extract of the book on Saturday, which is available online to subscribers here. An Australian friend was kind enough to send me a photo so I could see what it looked like in print (thanks Evie!).

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Covers for Thicker Than Water revealed

cover UK  Cover Aus

I’m so excited to be able to show you these: the covers (left – UK, right – Australia) of my first book, Thicker Than Water, which will be published next year by Harper Collins’ non-fiction strand William Collins. I hope you like them!

The book is currently available for pre-order at Waterstones and Amazon, with the following summary from the publisher:

A compelling and beautifully written memoir about dark and shameful family secrets, and one young Scottish woman’s pilgrimage to Australia to attempt to lay the past to rest. Cal Flyn was holidaying in her childhood home in the Scottish Highlands when she stumbled upon a dark family secret. To her horror, she discovered that her great-great-great uncle Angus McMillan, who had been mythologized as a great explorer and pioneer of early Australia, was in fact also the leader of a number of gruesome massacres of indigenous people.

In 1843 he led a loosely formed ‘Highland brigade’ which were responsible for a series of assaults so ferocious that the sites would ever after be synonymous with bloodshed: Butchers Creek, Boney Point, Skull Creek, Slaughterhouse Gully. Angus McMillan, she learns, is known by another name: the Butcher of Gippsland. Driven to piece together his story and to confront her own history, Flyn decided to retrace McMillan’s journey, looking for answers: How could a man lauded for his generosity and integrity commit such terrible acts? How could a man who had witnessed the misery of Highlanders cleared from their lands travel to the other side of the world to massacre and ‘clear’ the indigenous people he encountered? What have been the long-term consequences of his actions? And has today’s generation inherited a responsibility to atone for its ancestors’ sins?

THICKER THAN WATER, like THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES, is part family memoir, part travelogue, part history – and an intimate, revealing and fascinating journey into the past. Her book evokes the startlingly beautiful wilderness of the Highlands, the seemingly empty bush of Victoria and the echoes and reverberations on one from the other. Delving into a dark period in history with a novel’s immediate style, this book asks how whole societies can come to be overlooked, forgotten and shamed. Cal Flyn has written a wholly compelling and clear-eyed examination of the burden of intergenerational grief and inherited guilt that we all carry with us.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008126605

 

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Wallung Githa Unsettled: gallery opening

wallung githa unsettled

While travelling in Gippsland researching my book Thicker Than Water (to be published Spring 2016, by HarperCollins, plug plug), I fell in with the aboriginal artist Steaphan Paton and the photographer Cam Cope, both born and bred in the area.

Together we collaborated on a project riffing on the myth of the captive white woman of Gippsland, a strange and disturbing episode in Australian colonial history in which my relative Angus McMillan is inextricably tangled.

An exhibition of the series of photographs produced by us during a road trip through historically significant Gippsland sites – as well as a solo installation by Steaphan – is now on show at the Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran, Melbourne, on until 9 May 2015.

A glossy zine containing images from the project as well as writing on the subject of the white woman and the frontier violence of 1840s Gippsland has also been produced. It will be on sale at the art book fair at the National Gallery of Victoria; any remaining copies I imagine will soon appear for sale on Cam’s handy web-shop here.

Images from the project have been featured in Art Collector magazine in Australia.

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HarperCollins acquires Thicker Than Water

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I had some great news last month: HarperCollins’ non-fiction strand William Collins acquired the rights to my book, working title Thicker Than Water, and it is currently scheduled for publication in spring 2016.

For more information about the book, including an overview, please click here. Questions and queries about foreign rights/publication should be directed to my agent, Sophie Lambert of Conville & Walsh.

Bookbrunch, a magazine for the publishing industry, published a short piece about the acquisition, which you can read after the fold: Continue reading

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