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River Stone – the process

Guest Post by Rachel Hennessy, author of River Stone

I started writing River Stone in 2015 because, as I talked about at the launch, it helped me re-find joy in writing. I had been living in Melbourne since 2009 but I had lost track of myself as a writer. Writing had slipped into that region of the tedious, the thing I was supposed to do, not what I wanted to do. I’d got caught up in judging everything I wrote against possible publication prospects, rather than enjoying the process itself.

Then came a tutorial with my creative writing first year students. I remember talking to them about what they were reading. One of them said Divergent by Veronica Roth and another The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Because I wanted to get a greater sense of what my students were “into” I read these novels – I missed them mostly when they came out because I was in small baby land – and became caught up in the dystopian worlds they imagined, and their kick-arse heroines. I couldn’t recall a whole bunch of strong female leads in my teenage readings: back then, Young Adult didn’t actually exist, so much of my reading was confined to the classics. (I do think Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice is quite kick-arse, but obviously in a very different way from Katniss Everdeen.) What struck me, though, with both Roth and Collins, was the lack of what I would call “realistic” vulnerability. So, in a rather arrogant burst of self-belief – and these only come rarely to me as a writer – I decided I wanted to write a Young Adult dystopia with a bit of bumbling, confused heroine who, nonetheless, falls in love.

Like most of my writing projects, I didn’t talk about this one for quite some time. I wrote when I was able – often after my two year old had been soothed to sleep, with her hand held, drifting off under the blue glow of my laptop – and only “came out” when I mentioned I was trying to write a dystopian trilogy to Anna Solding, director of MidnightSun Publishing. And just after Christmas in 2018 I got the phone call us writers love to take: Anna had read the manuscript and wanted to publish River Stone.

So far the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. Shaye Wardrop at Kids’ Book Reviews writes:

River Stone will send chills down your spine and have you reading just one more chapter late into the night. It’s thought provoking and imaginative and filled to the brim with amazing and varied characters that see the world differently, providing readers with many different perspectives on the topics explored through the novel.

Joe Murray at ReadingsKids:

River Stone is a gripping Young Adult dystopia with a unique flavour, filling the genre’s bones with its vibrant characters, relentless storytelling and a phenomenal world. This is the future, but it feels more like the prehistoric past, and as the characters journey towards the city of Melney, they are shadowed by a violent history, one that the author uses to comment on present-day issues of environmentalism and war.

Recently I was contacted by the mother of a fourteen year old who’d been given the book for her birthday and had ‘devoured it’. She wanted to know when the next book in the series would be out. I’m busy re-drafting Book 2 (Mountain Arrow) right now. We’re aiming for release in May next year so Pandora will definitely be continuing her story, and I hope readers will continue to find her, and her friends, compelling.

More reviews at:

Reading Time – review website of the Children’s Book Council of Australia

Sarah Says – LoveOzYA reviewer


Here are some photos from the Melbourne launch:

Rachel, Gay and Anna

Launching The Day We Built the Bridge

The Month (or more) We Launched the Bridge Book!

Guest blog post by Samantha Tidy, author of The Day We Built the Bridge

 What a book birthday! This year, I have launched The Day We Built the Bridge in no less than 5 cities! Now that the dust has settled, and the second shipment of the book has arrived (gosh – 4500 copies sold in 3 days – and in reprint already!) I thought I’d share the joy and gratitude that ‘the bridge book’ (The Day We Built the Bridge, written by Samantha Tidy, illustrated by Fiona Burrows) has brought into our lives.

Anna Solding, publisher at MidnightSun and I started the fanfare in Adelaide on 2 February. It only seemed fitting to begin in MidnightSun’s home state, and celebrate the wonderful work that has gone in to creating this beautiful book.

Adelaide launch
Adelaide launch

South Australian author Mike Dumbleton shared some lovely words to send the book out into the world – fittingly celebrating the social history of a national icon, and of what the Sydney Harbour Bridge means to people here and around the world.

Then it was off to Sydney on 9 February – to the Children’s Bookshop, where Paul Macdonald regularly celebrates the best of children’s literature in his fine and book-brimming, independent bookstore in Beecroft.

Sydney launch
Sydney launch

Anna and I were so honoured to have Roslin Joslin OAM launch the book. As the granddaughter of JJC Bradfield, she shared with us stories of the chief engineer, and what this great contribution has meant not only to Sydney, NSW and Australia, but her own personal story and her family’s journey. She even brought along a rivet, and explained the process behind those 6 million rivets on the bridge.

In Canberra, where I live, celebrating the book with friends and family was fabulous, at Harry Hartog in Woden on 16 February.

Canberra launch
Canberra launch

Local author Tania McCartney gracefully and beautifully celebrated the book, and reminded the audience of the great value of historical fiction for young people – a sentiment with which I couldn’t agree more!

Over to Perth – to my original home state and the home of the book’s very talented illustrator, Fiona Burrows. It was a real joy to have both author and illustrator in the same city to launch the book.

What a day we had, in the rear courtyard of Paperbird Books and Art in Fremantle on 24 February. As a fourth generation Fremantle lass (who has strayed Eastwards!) it was my greatest joy to be surrounded not only by my own family – aunts, uncles, cousins, bubs, friends and old school chums, but to also see Fiona’s family, fill that courtyard with pride and West Australian fervour.

Fionas cupcakes at Perth launch
Fionas cupcakes at Perth launch

Fiona made the best ever cupcakes, and the kids played happily in an old tree, on ropes and in the sandpit, like the kids of the 1930s depicted in the book. No devices, just good ol’ risk taking and sharing in the wonder of childhood.

Perth kids
Perth kids





Local and launching author Norman Jorgensen told us some of his own family history, which was so fitting a story, prompting us to each celebrate the contributions of our ancestors, in shaping the land and the history on which we stand. He even planted some theatrics in the crowd.

Perth launch Charles de Groot
Perth launch Charles de Groot

In launching the book in style, a young Charles de Groot leaped up with his sword and cut the ribbon too early!

The launch in Melbourne on 7 April, was a wonderful reminder of the power of booksellers, to promote and nurture a strong, creative writing industry. Jaye Chin-Dusting from Mary Martin Bookshop in Port Melbourne (who recently won ABIA Independent Book Retailer of the Year) demonstrated how it is that she came to be titled the best bookseller in the land. Check out this cake:

Melbourne launch
Melbourne launch

Check out the joy on my face. This is the face of an author so satisfied with her book tour, that it may never be trumped. Author Kirsty Murray launched the book by having the kids do some yoga pose bridges, and a brilliant reading of Puddle Hunters (featuring another bridge!) The kids made popstick bridges (and ate cake).  Thanks Kirsty, Jaye, staff and family for a brilliant launch.

A month of being celebrated by talented launching authors, a passionate descendant, a brilliant publisher, fabulous booksellers, and supportive family and friends, is the environment that authors and illustrators need in order to feel encouraged, nurtured and rewarded, in their creative endeavours.

Thank you to everyone who made this book birthday such a success (and a wonderfully long one) and to helping this book become a bestseller so quickly.

Samantha Tidy

Sydney bridges
Sydney bridges

New Year – New Books

The year is planned out for MidnightSun and it’s full of exciting titles including a book for 8-12 year olds called Cryptosight. It’s written by Nean McKenzie and it’s her first book so we are extra excited to see it come to life. The cover design by Jenna Vincent is stunning and we are sure that it’ll capture the imagination of lots of kids around Australia.


It’s fabulous to have so many wonderful books coming up this year! Keep an eye here on the website and on our Facebook page for more info as the months pass.

New Submission Guidelines

We have recently updated our submission policy!

MidnightSun Books
MidnightSun Books

MidnightSun is always accepting submissions.

Please send a digital copy of your manuscript to Please include a subject line stating your name, the title of your manuscript, and its genre (eg: Jane Doe, ‘High Tea’, Picture Book). Please attach your manuscript as a Word document titled, ‘Name: Manuscript Title’ (eg. Jane Doe: High Tea).

Send the first 20 pages only! If we are compelled to read more, we’ll ask for the rest. We want digital manuscripts with 1.5 or double line spacing. Choose Times New Roman or another easy-to-read font.

Please proof-read thoroughly and always Continue reading New Submission Guidelines

Another Guest Post by Fern

Hi all, it’s Fern again, MidnightSun’s favourite intern. Also their only intern, but I digress. In my brief time at the company I’ve mostly worked with Heaven Sent, the YA novel by S.J. Morgan. My tasks have been to find reviewers and speaking with writers’ festivals to invite Sue along. But that cannot begin to compare to the work Sue has spent writing the novel, and the time Anna and Lauren have spent refining and preparing it for its debut. The moment of truth finally arrived and MidnightSun was proud to launch Heaven Sent this past Sunday.

Heaven Sent
Heaven Sent

The hall the launch was held in was deftly transformed from what looked like an office into a cosy reading room, made even better by the inclusion of wine and nibbles.

Continue reading Another Guest Post by Fern

Guest Post by Our Intern Fern

I’m Fern, the second intern to grace the halls of MidnightSun. I’m in my final year of studying Creative Writing at Adelaide University, and I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to look inside the world of publishing. I’m the sort of oddball who researches as much as they can about any given situation before heading into it, but the internet can only prepare you so much. Luckily, Anna has been a wise and gentle support in guiding me through this busy new world.

Beneath the Mother Tree
Beneath the Mother Tree
Continue reading Guest Post by Our Intern Fern

Exciting new acquisition

MidnightSun acquires debut novel Beneath the Mother Tree

MidnightSun has acquired world rights to playwright and radio dramatist D M Cameron’s debut novel Beneath the Mother Tree for publication in 2018.

D M Cameron
D M Cameron

Beneath the Mother Tree is a ‘fast-paced’ mystery and love story set in an Australian town similar to the one in which Cameron grew up, and uses Indigenous and Irish mythology to create a spiritual subtext.

‘We are thrilled to have won the rights to this exciting novel, which generated a great deal of interest as a manuscript,’ said MidnightSun publishing director Anna Solding. ‘There were several other publishing contracts on the table, and we had to fight for this book!’

Solding said she sees ‘potential’ for the novel in the international market. ‘We anticipate Beneath the Mother Tree will garner interest overseas, with its Australian setting, contemporary love story and universal themes,’ said Solding. ‘We will be taking it to both London and Frankfurt Book Fairs.’

Meet the Authors of Crush: Katherine Arguile

We’ve reached the end of our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush! In our final installment, get to know Katherine Arguile and read an excerpt of her story ‘Utaki’.

Katherine Arguile, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

I’m half-Japanese, half-English, born and raised in Tokyo. I’m Australian now too, after moving here from London nine years ago. I recently finished a novel called The Things She Owned as part of a PhD, a major milestone marking a lifetime of writing stories. I loved books as soon as I could read them, and they made me want to write. So I started writing while I was still very young. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Katherine Arguile

Meet the Authors of Crush: Lauren Foley

The latest in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush is Lauren Foley. Read on to find out more about her writing process and to read an exceprt of her story ‘This One Time…’

Lauren Foley, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

I’m Irish, and until recently, lived in Adelaide for five years. Well, I’m such a cliché, like most writers I was an English teacher.

Writing has always been there. I was a painfully quiet child who read all the time. I used to walk home from school reading, holding my book and turning pages with one hand. I’d glance up to cross the road, but in fairness there weren’t many cars about at that time of day, just tractors. A complete hopeless case who daydreamed constantly. The best thing my mother ever did for me was send me to acting classes in our local Millbank Theatre. Theatre is reading and daydreaming come to life. My love of writing comes from reading and drama and being involved in the process of taking a text and making it tangible over months and months of hard work. It is a great discipline. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Lauren Foley

Meet the Authors of Crush: Elaine Cain

The latest in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush is Elaine Cain. Read on to hear more about her writing and to read an excerpt of her story ‘Glitch’.

Elaine Cain, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

I often had my head in a book, or in the clouds day dreaming, growing up in a country town.  I was creative as a kid, making up stories and playing music, but I had to make a choice for university and I ended up studying what I loved most then, music. I was a music teacher briefly then zigzagged my way along in adult education and writing roles. Fast forward years later, I now work in change management in a corporate environment. I get to be creative with strategies and communications to a certain extent. Over the years I really longed for another creative outlet so I returned to writing. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Elaine Cain

Meet the Authors of Crush: Michele Fairbairn

Next up in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush is Michele Fairbairn. Read on to get to know her and her writing process, and to see an excerpt from her story ‘Fettucancé’.

Michele Fairbairn, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

At the risk of sounding naff, it did not feel like I came to writing. Story is woven into the fabric of who I am. My first recollections as a child were feasting on stories oral and written, as well as the wordless stories that I could sense in the land I grew up on in the Barossa Valley. I have always felt the need to tell stories and had an intuitive sense of the transformative qualities of story in my work both in arts and health.

I crave and embrace adventure. Not the bungee jumping variety but the diving-without-safety-cord-into-learning-and-experience variety. As a result of this, I have studied and worked extensively in the health and arts sector including as a youth worker, counsellor, community health worker, art therapist, naturopath, remedial/manual therapist, transpersonal psychotherapist, playwright, performer, theatre devisor, visual artist and Psychology student. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Michele Fairbairn

Meet the Authors of Crush: Marian Matta

Next in our series of Crush author Q&As is Marian Matta. Read on to hear a bit about her writing process and for a sneak peak of her story ‘Close to the People’.

Marian Matta, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

Praise be to Annie Proulx! I’ve shaped the world with words for as long as I can recall. Ask me to come up with a medical article, an historical account, even a couple of film scripts, and I’ve happily done it. However, any fiction I wrote was strictly for my eyes only. After I saw the life-changing film Brokeback Mountain in 2006, I began writing fan fiction under a nom de plume. Readers liked it, and seven years ago I entered my first short story competition without the shield of anonymity. As well as writing, I’m a grandmother, an amateur local historian, and the oldest student in a circus school. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Marian Matta

Meet the Authors of Crush: Ryan Scott

The next in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush, an anthology of stories about love, is Ryan Scott. Get to know Ryan and read an excerpt from his story ‘The Castle, the Tower and the Other Castle’.

Ryan Scott, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

Since childhood I’ve always enjoyed inventing characters and imagining worlds and stories for them to inhabit. My earliest attempt to write a novel was when I was twelve. It was a fantasy novel. Fortunately, the manuscript no longer survives. Though my tastes have markedly changed, fiction and telling stories is one pursuit I still find, despite its frustrations, satisfying. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Ryan Scott

Meet the Authors of Crush: Susan Midalia

Crush, an anthology of stories about love, brings together the work of emerging and established writers from around the world. Get to know some of the fantastic authors featured in the collection in this series of Q&As. First we have Susan Midalia and an excerpt from her short story ‘Perspectives on Love’.

Susan Midalia, author.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?

I’d been an academic for decades, teaching literature, and I’ve always been a reader, but I didn’t start writing fiction until I was in my fifties. This was partly as a result of doing my PhD on contemporary Australian women’s fiction, when I discovered that I loved using language more than advancing an intellectual argument! I then started writing fiction more regularly because I wanted to make sense of some difficult personal experiences. Writing very quickly became a beautiful compulsion. Continue reading Meet the Authors of Crush: Susan Midalia

Happy Birthday to us!

MidnightSun is turning five!

Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!

From our humble beginnings, with Anna Solding’s The Hum of Concrete in 2012, we have grown to one of the largest publishers in South Australia, publishing everything from picture books to adult literary fiction. So many people have helped along the way: designers, writers, illustrators, editors and readers. 2017 looks to be an incredibly exciting year with at least seven books published. It’s our Year of Stories so three of them will be short story collections, beginning with Lucy Durneen’s exquisite Wild Gestures. To thank you all for your support, we are having our first ever sale. We’d like to offer all our books at 20% discount from 9-11 February 2017. Don’t hesitate. Just go to our web shop and put in the coupon code HappyBirthday.