Book duo

My first book, The Woman on the Mountain (2007) is sold out, but my publishers, Exisle, have the last 30 copies, returned from shops, so deemed ‘shopsoiled’.

I bought ten such myself, as gifts, and I actually couldn’t see anything wrong with them.

I have just found out that Exisle are currently offering a special double deal — one of these plus a new copy of my second book, Mountain Tails (2009).

So you get the two books for the price of Mountain Tails ($24.99), a collection of short tales about the critters with whom I live — and whom I photograph for these web posts.

I’m telling you in case any reader wants to get in while there are still some copies of The Woman on the Mountain left.

Here’s what the ABC’s Gardening Australia magazine said about Mountain Tails (although it’s not a novel!):

‘This delightful novel gives a lively and personal account of the animals that share the author’s wildlife refuge. The book is clearly written and is illustrated with the author’s own whimsical drawings.  Read about romping joeys, quolls in the kitchen and marsupial mice in the bedding pile. It would be enjoyed by anyone with even a passing interest in the natural world and is the sort of book to while away a winter afternoon.’

or as The Adelaide Advertiser Magazine said:

‘You may think your neighbours are eccentric, but Munro’s are animals: spotted quolls, possums, wallabies, koalas, snakes, frogs and echidnas to name a few. She describes them in short, often humorous vignettes of her life on the edge of a national park, 90 minutes from the nearest town.

‘Her style is engaging and informal as if telling stories over a cuppa, and her enthusiasm and concern for the creatures are infectious. The stories are illustrated with her own sketches. Munro ends with a restrained but passionate call for action to protect wildlife. As a reminder she includes a list of species already driven to extinction.

‘A good read.’

Visit Exisle here for this offer.

The Cattleman’s Daughter

rachael-coverI have just read Tasmanian writer Rachael Treasure’s new book, The Cattleman’s Daughter. To my mind it’s her best book yet, with clear signs of the maturing writer as well as woman.

Like all Rachael’s very popular books, it has a central developing love story and lots of horses, but of equal importance here is the surrounding drama — the forced ending of traditional grazing in the Victorian high country. Rachael knows the High Plains and these people well and draws a sympathetic and vividly realistic portrait of the country, their history there and love of it, and their ways and attitudes.

She is not so kind to the bureaucrats who make such decisions without any connection to that land, or consultation with those who do have it, regarding the solution to a perceived problem. She puts clearly the graziers’ concern for who then cares for such land regarding fire hazard reduction and weed control, when the new ‘owners’, the government, provide little or no extra funding for staff to replace them.

At first, as both a farmer’s daughter and an environmentalist, I worried that the two sides would be stereoptyped into goodies and baddies, as I met extremists like the inner-city greenie, Cassie, and the ignorant and power-drunk bureaucrat, Kelvin. But Rachael also gives us Bob, a reluctant cattleman who does not care for his land at all. In between we have the commonsense types like the heroine Emily and her love interest, Luke, who has just taken a job with the opposing side, a government department with a very long name, but equivalent to what used to be in charge of national parks.

Read moreThe Cattleman’s Daughter

Rate Mountain Tails

g-onlineThe online environmental magazine G-Online is worth a visit — it’s full of information about sustainable living, including gardening, cooking, health, travel and family matters, with useful hints and ‘Ask G’ links for your questions. G-Online’s Kate Arneman has posted a review of Mountain Tails read it here — and you can also give the book a rating.

From the back porch…

owner-builder As many of you know, I regularly contribute articles and photos to The Owner Builder magazine. They also stock my books in their online bookshop.

Their last page is for readers to send in their musings, from the back porch, so to speak. In fact it was one such gratis contribution, over 10 years ago, that led the then Editor, sadly now the late Russell Andrews, to commission me to write professionally for the magazine.

In their current issue (153) editor Lynda Wilson has used the Back Porch page for an extract she chose from my new book, Mountain Tails, and for her kind review:—

I am very familiar with Sharyn’s style of writing, having edited her articles for The Owner Builder over the past five years and listened to her short pieces on ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph.

I was less familiar with her home life — that was until I read her first book, The Woman on the Mountain. Sharyn’s wonderfully descriptive language brings the whole mountain to life, along with the joys and sorrows of her mostly solitary life.

In her latest book, Mountain Tails, Sharyn shares the lives, loves and losses of her animal neighbours with us.

With rich descriptions and personal humour, from ‘A quoll in the kitchen’ through ‘Jacky dragon’ and on to ‘Petrified birds,’ you will feel yourself standing right alongside Sharyn, sharing her wonder and amazement of the natural world around her.

The Owner Builder has a special offer: you can buy both The Woman on the Mountain and Mountain Tails for $50 plus postage. The offer runs until September 30.

Visit The Owner Builder’s website.

Red Dust — sheep rustlers and strong women

Have just read the first novel of my fellow writer and rural blogger, Fleur McDonald. Fleur and her husband run a cattle station in Western Australia, but this novel, Red Dust, is set on a sheep station in South Australia.

I’ve never been to a sheep station but I feel as if I could almost run one after reading Red Dust, as the settings and daily operations are so vividly and clearly described. Fleur knows what she’s writing about and it gives real credibility to the whole work.

But that’s only incidental to the rattling good yarn of sheep rustling and stock squad detective work. This story is interwoven with the difficulties and discoveries of the widowed Gemma as she keeps the sheep station running despite all predictions, following her husband’s death in a light plane crash — right before her eyes.

Yes, there’s romance, but it’s suitably subtle in its development in Gemma’s case — although for her best friend Jess, the riotous redhead, there’s no holds barred! Fleur’s ear for dialogue and idiom is spot on, and adds much to the characterisation.

It’s great to see a story of contemporary rural Australia by a female writer who can write equally well about the practical and the emotional sides of the business, of living well out of town and of running a farm. And who can use that grounding to spin a tale of intrigue where you don’t know who dunnit until she chooses to tell you!

I’m betting this will be a film or a TV special in the not-too-distant future. Bravo Fleur!

Red Dust is published by Allen & Unwin and will be in bookshops from 4th May.

A great review

Thanks to Margie Jenkin for her review of The Woman on the Mountain in the latest edition of Island, Tasmania’s justly famous magazine of arts and literature.

A good review is always gratifying, but this is the best of the lot by a long way and it makes the hard work of writing worthwhile.

Margie Jenkin is another mountain woman: she lives on Mount Wellington, the huge, brooding dolerite massif that dominates the landscape around Hobart. And she works as a ranger on the Maria Island National Park off the south-east coast of Tasmania.

There couldn’t have been a better choice of reviewer: her studies at the University of Tasmania’s School of Geography and Environmental Studies included an Honours thesis exploring sense of place through the stories of Tasmanian lighthouse-keepers and their families — so she was very much in tune with my own feelings about the the importance of place in our physical and emotional lives.

I can’t resist a couple of quotes from her sensitive and beautifully written review:

“Munro’s writing emanates strength and courage, and thoughtfulness for tomorrow. Reading her words, you are urged to reconnect with home to nurture a sense of care…”

“A complete treat, this book is daring and heroic. Munro’s narrative provides the habitat to re-visit your own ideologies and unfulfilled dreams. She reminds you that it is never too late, but warns that you must plant your seedlings soon to see them grow in your lifetime.”

You can read the full review in Island No. 113, out now, and I urge you to subscribe if you can — our literary magazines deserve everyone’s support, so visit the Island website now.

Or you can download the review as a PDF here,

My thanks to Margie once again and to Island’s editor Gina Mercer for permission to re-publish the review.