Time to celebrate a New Book, the Old Post and Telegraphy Office, and Newcastle, New South Wales.
As the long journey to the publication of my first novel draws to a close, and my book is being prepared for printing, it is time to reflect back on the good things that being here in Newcastle has provided me with over the past years, leading to this last year as a publisher.
For a start there is my house, the old post office, after which the publishing house is named, Postmistress Press. This was by chance, we found out through seeing an article in the local history section of the Newcastle Herald, way back in the mid 1990s, when we first started living here (my ex, now grown up children and myself) that the cottage we had moved into was the first post and telegraphy office in Adamstown, an inner city area of Newcastle.
The house had not been built as a post office, it is a humble weatherboard cottage, of the style of a miner’s cottage, with a verandah on the street, a front door in the centre and two windows on either side, if you are looking at it from the street. When we arrived it was very bare and unprepossessing from the street. We planted three ‘street trees’ that the council was giving to residents then to green the city. They are now tall trees, which provide shade and foliage on the street, three Echinaceas which have vibrant yellow blossoms. Our neighbours opposite also planted Echinacea trees, with red blossom, and next door have Echinaceas outside the house with red and yellow blossoms, so we have coordinated quite well.
The street which when we moved here was treeless is now an arbour.
I also planted a fern garden on the street level outside the house, with a few red flowering geraniums, and with the strip of grass under the trees, it gives the street more of a garden feel.
I found out by chance, or rather through the Lost Newcastle facebook site, that there was a postmistress here at the old post office for many years. I have photographs of her, and her husband and daughter, and a line up of locals on the front verandah from over one hundred years ago, which I will scan and post – or at least include in a publication soon.
That is the inspiration for the name of the publishing house, or one of them. I was attracted to the concept of ‘postmistress’ as women who worked in telecommunication, post and telegraphy offices in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were able to work on a more or less equal level with men, especially during times of crisis such as wartime. So telecommunications and telegraphy offices signify an opportunity for women to play a vital role, at least that was how it eventuated in new forms of communication. There are further resonances of female emancipation- from the mistress- and also the resonance of equality in education, a post grad is a Master, why not a Mistress. All these resonances will chime with the themes of the books I publish.
Which brings me to the new publishing house I have set up here. I am using the newest form of publishing, online publishing, to publish my books as both print books, available in shops and on global platforms such as Amazon, Kobo and more, and as eBooks.
I have now spent the last year (and prior to that another year in research) researching and working in the production of the first books.
There have been trials and tribulations that I have recorded here on this blog, and in social media, which I won’t reiterate now.
However the first year, and the worst of the trials seem to have almost been passed, and my first novel Australian Fugue: The Antipode Room, has been published and sent to supporters of my crowdfunding campaign, as a Special Collector’s Edition PDF eBook.
Now the printed book is in the final stages of production. It will be available on Amazon in the coming two weeks, I hope.
I am also in the process of producing my PhD book, The Writers Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity (Thesis 2006) as a printed book, to be available via Amazon and other platforms, as a print book, and as an eBook very soon.
The first Postmistress Press Anthology, with contributions from writers around the world, is in production.
So despite the trouble, trials and tribulations, no less the grinding lack of money (though we hate to mention it) in the past year, and most especially in the past six months, since April when things began to get rather tough, it will soon all be worth it.
This is certainly not for the faint-hearted I have found out. But I hope that it will all come to fruition soon, and may prove to be a sustainable business.
So, despite the difficulties I feel I owe my thanks to the Old Post and Telegraph Office, and to Newcastle, and to the New Enterprise Initiative Scheme, which is designed to help new enterprises start in Australia, for the chance to do this. Even if at times it has felt like being in a grueling and impossibly challenging reality TV show. It was always my strong wish to publish a print book, and that is about to happen, so it will all be worthwhile.
Publisher and author
The Old Post and Telegraph Office