Finding North: December 2022
Issue No. 4: Sailing and Summer ⛵️🌊
Note: The recording above is a reading of this newsletter — there’s no different content, and it’s not produced, so you’ll hear the occasional stumble, or sounds of daily life in the background. If you’re someone who needs or prefers to hear their news, then I hope it’s helpful.
Hi, my friends.
I love December with my whole heart. I love putting up the Christmas tree, playing Bing Crosby carols around the house, picking and wrapping presents — I love everything about it. It’s the start of summer here in Australia, and I love the days warming up, the blue skies, the barbecues in the evenings and the late night walks in the warm air.
Often this is a time of year I’m winding down, but after spending much of the middle of the year living slowly as I recovered from covid, I’m still going strong — I’m writing, I’m planning, and I’m full of life. I’m finding time for lots of small pleasures, as well. the other day I was in the city, and I had a spare half hour, so I lay down in one of the public squares (there’s a lawn, you’re allowed!) with my book, and it was glorious.
What I’ve Been Up To
As many of you will know, I grew up sailing. I literally took my first steps on a boat, and every weekend of my childhood was spent splashing about, falling in and out of different boats. When I finish the draft of a book, the first thing I do is go down to the sea—I don’t know why. It’s some kind of instinct that drives me down to that horizon.
When I’m grieving, I go to the sea. When I’m tired in body or soul, or when I’m caught up in indecision, or when something wonderful has happened — every time, I go down to the sea. When I’m on a boat, I can outpace my worries. I can feel myself coming alive as I hear the shush-shush-shush of the waves beneath the hull, the sound growing faster as we pick up pace.
It took me until adulthood to realise that sailing has different connotations in different places — that in some places it’s an elite, privileged thing to do, signalling a sort of champagne lifestyle. Here in Australia, almost the whole population lives on the coast, and it’s not at all uncommon to have access to a dinghy. There are certainly cheaper things to do, but sailing is not the exclusive domain of the wealthy, that’s for sure. It’s always just been something I’ve done. A part of all my family’s life.
The last several years have been taken up by health issues, by pregnancy (and before that, by the many trials of trying to be pregnant), and then by having a small child, and then of course by lockdowns. I haven’t had much chance to be out on the water.
Then, a few months ago, I was sitting up at the kitchen counter at my friends’ place, and they told me they’d bought a boat. They were going to race her every Thursday, come October. I should come along.
A knot in my chest that I truly had not known was there suddenly came undone. I felt like I could breathe more easily. I started counting down the days. I needed new waterproof gear, and so my mum dug out my dad’s old things. He died eight years ago last month. He was the one who took me down to the water, who taught me how to sail, who put this salt water in my veins. He was only a few inches taller than me, and all his stuff fits. He’d be so happy, to see me out on the water wearing it. I feel like I’m taking him with me when I go.
Thursday evenings are my favourite time of the week, right now. And one of the great pleasures of writing The Isles of the Gods has been the chance to take you all out on the water with me — to share a little bit of what I love about it, and put a little salt water in your veins, too.
What I’m Writing
This month has been a bit of a mix — a little bit of my next book with Meg (we’ll call it Project LK for now… more to come!) and a little bit of Isles 2, and a little bit of academia. Last week I attended a fantastically interesting academic symposium for YA Studies, which is my field — I’m doing my Phd in Creative Writing, studying intersectional feminism in YA science fiction and fantasy texts. Some days I feel like my brain’s melting out through my ears, but then other days I give a reading of a creative work in progress at a symposium, and it goes down well!
The other big thing I’ve been doing this month is working on my pass pages for The Isles of the Gods. Pass pages are the first time you see the book typeset, in the form of a PDF — I still find it quite emotional, as it’s the first time the story looks like a real book, instead of a word file. The pass pages are the author and the publisher’s chance to go through the book one more time with a fine tooth comb, looking for typos, inconsistencies, or any small tweaks that need making. I’m a slow reader, so this is always a lengthy process for me, but having been away from Isles now for some months… it was also a pleasure.
It was the first time I’ve been able to read the book with a little distance under my belt. And though saying something like this doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to admit I loved it. I feel like it lands just the way I wanted to, and I found myself genuinely drawn into the finale, even though I wrote it! I can’t wait for you all to read it, and I’m beyond excited that next time I send you a newsletter, I’ll get to say it’s coming out this year. I think I should maybe share the first few pages as well? What say you?
What I’ve Loved Lately
I absolutely loved the new Knives Out film, Glass Onion. I’m not going to say much about it here, because I think it’s a film that’s best enjoyed when you know as little about it as possible — but I thought it was wonderfully clever, and that every single word, gesture, shot and moment served a purpose. It was such a pleasure, and I’ll be watching it a few times more, just to see how it was done.
If you’re in a bookish mood, and you’re a fan of Becky Chambers or Firefly, or both, then I’m currently in the middle of reading Frontier by Grace Curtis. It’s out next March from various international publishers (with various covers — I like this one the best, so I’m using it!) and it’s beautifully written, creates a deep and immediate sense of a ruined, lawless future Earth with endless stories braided together. Also, it’s short! I was really in the mood for a quicker read to see out the year, and I’m enjoying it a lot so far. It’s up for preorder now, wherever you get your books.
News and Updates
We’re starting to make plans properly for my overseas travel next year — I’m excited that I’ll have the chance to see so many of you for the first time in a long time, and I’ll share that here as soon as I can.
In the meantime, you’ll find a couple of new episodes of the podcast over at-- we've got one on how to support authors, where we discuss all the ways (including free ones) you can boost the authors you love reading, and why they work so well. We've also got an episode on maps -- how the maps in our books are made, how the landscapes were designed, and basically piles and piles of map geekery of the highest order. If you're one of us, then this will be one you love!
As I wrap up, I’ll remind you that you can preorder The Isles of the Gods, or you can add The Isles of the Gods on Goodreads, both of which will make me (and I promise, you too, come May!) very happy. I’ll see you all in 2023 — I hope the end of the year is good to you!
Thanks for reading Amie Kaufman: Finding North! You can subscribe here to receive every issue as it comes out.