A series of public discussions, workshops and readings by Isobelle Carmody–Australia’s response to Great Britain’s Harry Potter series author JK Rowling–will open the 2009-2010 Lone Star College-North Harris’ Lyceum Speakers Series, which begins Nov. 4 and continues with five other speakers through the spring 2010 semester. Carmody is representing the college’s Languages and Communication Division.
Beginning work on her first book, Obernewtyn, at the young age of 14, Isobelle Carmody has become Australia’s most highly-acclaimed and recognized author of fantasy and science fiction titles for young and older readers, alike. Continuing to work on the Obernewtyn Chronicles, into her early 20s, Carmody simultaneously earned a bachelor of arts in literature and philosophy and completed a cadetship in journalism.
In a recent interview, Carmody was candid about the evolution of her career as a writer: “I am very fortunate in that I have spent pretty much my whole life being a writer, and before I was a writer, I was a storyteller,” she explained. ”By that, I mean I told stories to my seven younger brothers and sisters. My dad had died in a car crash when I was fourteen and my mum worked in the evenings, so I was left to look after all of these children for whose antics I would be ultimately responsible. I had no particular means of entertaining them because my family did not buy books and we had neither television nor radio. So I made up stories and the main point of the stories was to rivet my audience so that they would not even think of getting up to mischief. Naturally the stories always had a thrilling scary thread, as well as delving into some sort of moral or ethical question. I have never forgotten the almost mystical power over an audience a storyteller has, when the story is deep and links you.”
Carmody’s first effort, Obernewtyn, was accepted by the first publisher who read it and Book One of the Obernewtyn Chronicles was short listed for Children’s Book of the Year in the older readers category in Australia. Set in the future when most of the world is radioactive black wastelands, the book’s main character is a prickly young woman who is a loner with forbidden powers. Carmody said she wrote this first book, not because she wanted to escape the real world, but because she wanted to think about certain aspects of the real world that troubled her, as a teen.
Officially beginning the Lone Star College-North Harris 2009-2010 Lyceum Speaker Series at 10 a.m. on Nov. 4, Carmody will read to 3-6 year-olds from her “Little Fur” series, although older readers are also invited to attend the reading, which will be held in the college’s Community Education Building, room CMED-101.
As an introduction, the award-winning author commented, “In Little Fur, we see life through the eyes of a little elf troll who lives in a forest hidden in the heart of a great sprawling, decadent human city. Little Fur is also a delicious revisiting of my storyteller past because it began as a told story.”
”I was living in Prague, as I do part of the time, and there had been a terrible hundred-year flood. Most of the old town with its tiny labyrinthine cobbled streets and beautiful battered old buildings had been evacuated and immense piles of rubbish and hundred-year-old junk was piled head height outside most buildings. When you passed through the dense spicy darkness at night, you would be aware of street people picking over the piles.
“The city was like an egg that had been cracked open to reveal what lay behind and under it, and I was fascinated. One day I was walking with my little girl, and she saw a glimmer of dark greasy water through a ground-level window. ‘What lives down there, Mama?’ she asked in that delicious half fearful, half thrilled voice. And the slumbering fourteen-year-old storyteller roused and said in a sepulchral voice, ‘Trolls. Trolls live in the cracks and crannies of the city, and they only come out at night. . . .’ That was literally the beginning of Little Fur. It had been one of the sheerest pleasures of my life to write her story and illustrate it.”
Carmody’s Little Fur series includes The Legend Begins (2006), A Fox Called Sorrow (2007), Mystery of the Wolves (2008), Riddle of the Green (2009) and an omnibus of the Little Fur stories, also released in 2009.
Continuing her Lyceum Speakers appearance, Carmody will speak from 11 a.m. to 12 noon about her life, influences, how she began writing, overcame tragedy, and handled big breaks.
“I like talking to writers of any age–about the writing life and why I write fantasy and the various books I have authored through my career,” the Lyceum speaker said.
Her young adult fans of the Obernewtyn Chronicles are so devoted, they maintain a Web site, www.obernewtyn.com.au/ and many make their own films of her works, such as the one found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kspJGFVOuA.
Jennie Harrison, PhD, dean of languages and communications at LSC-North Harris, cited Carmody’s visit as a significant on-campus opportunity. “Ms. Carmody’s been extensively published and has written a wide range of novels,” Dr. Harrison said. “She’s particularly well-known in young adult-fiction as well as the science-fiction, fantasy area.”
“Our president, Dr. Steve Head, inaugurated the LSC-North Harris Lyceum Series in 2009 with a goal of bringing a wide range of speakers to our campus,” Harrison continued. “Being able to feature an author of this stature fulfills our ongoing mission of bringing opportunities to the community as well as to our students. Ms. Carmody will also be visiting some of our classes as well as her scheduled public presentations.”
After lunch in the LSC-North Harris private dining room, Carmody will present from 1-2:20 p.m., reading from her soon-to-be-published tales of vampires from Greece, “The Stranger,” followed by a question-and-answer period.
Carmody has authored more than a novel, The Gathering, was a joint winner of the 1993 Children's Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBC Book of the Year Award. Another of her novels, Greylands, was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction-Young Adult Division, and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children's Book Fair. She has also written many short stories for both children and adults.
Her seventh book in the Obernewtyn series is The Sending, and the eighth and final book is, The Red Queen, – to be published in May 2010.Her novels include: Scatterlings, The Gathering, Greylands, The Landlord, Dreamwalker, Firecat’s Dream, and Alyzon Whitestar.
Danel Olson, professor of LSC-North Harris’ Horror, Ghost, & Gothic Fiction course, describes her prose as “incantatory”: “Isobelle Carmody’s range as a storyteller is enormous, her view spiritual, and her characters surprising and involving—from an elfin troll’s puzzlement at human separation from the natural world, to a concentration camp survivor’s disturbing performance at a Gypsy circus, to an orphan girl’s searches for meaning in the post-Apocalypse, to a desperate filmmaker who can’t quit a demure vampire he meets in Greece.”
Prior to her visit to LSC-North Harris, Carmody will read at the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, CA, and be a featured guest at Austin’s 2009-2010 Texas Book Festival, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1. At the conclusion of her appearance as this year’s first Lyceum speaker, Carmody will fly to New York and then on to Prague in the Czech Republic, to be with her partner and her daughter, dividing their time between Prague and their home–and the Great Ocean Road in Australia.
For more information about LSC-North Harris’ 2009-2010 Lyceum Speaker Series, call 281.618.5425.
LSC-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. Registration for spring 2010 starts Nov. 9. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit: northharris.lonestar.edu.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Center, LSC-University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. With more than 58,000 students in credit classes this fall, LSCS is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and third largest community college system in Texas. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.
Oct. 23, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE