The Last Asbestos Town: not Wittenoom

While my novel has the word “asbestos” in the title and that the setting is Western Australia, it is not about Wittenoom. And it’s amazing how many people think that it is. Before writing the novel, I previously researched other works and found that the asbestos problem in Wittenoom had been extensively covered. My take on this subject is different. The novel poses the problem of “WHAT IF?” What if good government had to alleviate the public health risks, pass a law, and systematically remove all known asbestos from houses, buidlings, railways, fences, etc. On the subliminal level various themes in the book show that this removal by the government (ie the concerns that asbestos degrades over time) reveals fortitude, but in relation to my characters and the demolition of their home, no “one size fits all”. Something can go wrong and does!


WITTENOOM – There is obvious evidence that this town still holds the remarkable dangers of asbestos tailings left in this ghost town and in the humungous mine sites. It is still very, very dangerous to public health. In 2020, we have the Covid-19, but asbestos fibre that remains coated on the landscape is seeping into the Fortescue River catchment. Not far from “Mining Magnate” Gina Rinehart’s Mulga Downs.
In 2008, a “Wittenoom Asbestos Contaminated Area” of almost 470 square kilometres was declared and listed by the WA Health Department as “not suitable for any form of human occupation or land use”. It borders Mulga Downs station to the north and Karijini National Park to the west, south and east. The Youngaleena Banjima Aboriginal community lies 15 kilometres east.
Further reading – ‘The Blue Ghosts of Wittenoom’ by Cortlan Bennett.

The Wiles of Book Promotion

As a new fiction author it is hard to know how much promotion one has to do. Could it be too little or too much! Too little and no one knows how you’ve spent the last 30 years writing, firstly poetry then turning to fiction. Too little of banging your own drum and it’s like an old movie theatre slogan you’re “like an owl winking in the dark”. Too much and your audience, ie friends and followers may get sick of seeing your little placards of books (as above). One can only guess that while you’re promoting your little gems, someone might be totally interested, while others may just switch off. Nevertheless, I’ll plod on regardless of the two.
VarunaHelen
So with forethought firmly entrenched in my mind, I have set off to promote myself aka the new novel as much as I can. I was a recipient of a Varuna Macquarie/Longlines Poetry scholarship back in 2008 and have recently rejoined to promote The Last Asbestos Town. The good thing about being an Alumni is that they will advertise your book in their monthly newsletter and I guess other writers will see my achievement. A link on my pic will take you to my alumni profile and also the Varuna’s website that contains some great writing opportunities.

Continue reading

An Inspirational Setting


One of the best things about using a natural setting in a novel is that your portfolio of collected photographs are great for promotional purposes. Another advantage is that all the photos are your copyright material, you own them and you are not infringing on others or someone’s internet/pinterest pics. The above scenes, hopefully, aren’t recognisable as one of our interesting country towns in Western Australia. But it doesn’t matter if someone does. There is no copyright on environmental pictures. No one owns a river, a street, a landscape or a fictionally named workplace. In the book, I have been able to show the town’s river, lagoon/pool, some wildlife, a few main streets in (Farmbridge) and the old Girl Guide Hall. My character, Isaac, works in the plant (shown above) and so I’ve discovered without naming the origins of these photographs that they should remain incognito. I have so many from several visits to the area, taken over a period of 8 to 9 years and fortunately they have been very inspirational when writing the novel. They continue today to be very useful in promoting the book that I can’t wait to receive from America.

Networking as an Author


One thing I have learned over the years is that when your new book comes out (and I have several poetry books including self-published ones) you have to network. Networking at all costs means: organisations, the www, friends, colleagues and readers will hear about your book. It’s no good thinking that people will come to you and buy your little gem. They won’t. They won’t know about it, unless you join all the social media platforms, tell your writing/ewriting group, your writing group’s newsletter or join writing organisations. One such organisation in Western Australia is called writingWA. WritingWA is the peak literature body here in the West and whilst there are some very high profile writers as members this should not stop you from joining, being noticed and generally valuing your worth as a writer. I have just joined. After a few glitches, my profile is now up! @ https://www.writingwa.org/literati-directory/helen-hagemann/
One great new incentive by writingWA is called “Love to Read Local”.Scroll down to the bottom to see my book featured – um, my virtual book! The book is also featured by writingWA on instagram, too! 

My Novel: in its virtual world

HelensBook

MY BOOK ON HOLD

For any writer getting published in a world-wide pandemic year (March, April, May 2020) it’s kind of crazy. Things are on hold, at a standstill, yet as a new fiction writer you are itching to get out there and promote your little gem. I have been extremely lucky, however, with my US publisher Adelaide Books going ahead in such dire times. One has to be patient, but I can hear my two protagonists, May & Isaac, screaming for attention! They’re jiggling up and down in the background waiting for their story to get out into the world. I have to tell them, just wait, it will happen. There is a chance that you may get the book from Amazon or the publisher but this could take some time. Adelaide Books @ http://adelaidebooks.org/last_asbestos_town.html  Amazon shows a preview of the 1st Chapter – May. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1952570301/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Helen+Hagemann&qid=1588449784&s=books&sr=1-1

Here’s a snippet from the novel.
May jumped up and lifted her bag from a wall hook. She opened her zip purse and pulled out the yellow envelope from Annabelle. ‘Seven hundred dollars!’ she said, raising her wine glass.
‘We could play strip poker tonight, and no matter who wins, ha, it’s still ours,’ laughed Isaac.
They clicked glasses, guzzling the peach wine, and licking their lips. Both of them burst into uproarious giggles. At first they laughed together, until it grew louder and louder, Isaac holding his stomach in from his deep belly convulsions. May held her side in agony and slowly lowered and ceased her frenetic noise. ‘Isaac, why are we laughing?’ She rocked back on her chair, tilting it backwards.
Isaac wound down his loud snorting to a slow, controlled breath, although it sounded more like a bout of wind. ‘Hey?’ he asked, wiping his eyes with a paper napkin.
‘Why are we laughing?’ she repeated, rocking back and forth on her chair.
‘Sheesh, I don’t know. Something was bloody funny.’
‘We both had a good day. I paddled back to Biningyup Pool, and Joe, the kayak man, gave me a lift home. We have nearly a thousand dollars, but Isaac we have some serious things to discuss like the letter for instance.’
‘Yep, the letter,’ he said, blowing his nose with the napkin.
‘I haven’t got a clue where to go if this place comes down.’
‘Don’t worry, May. It ain’t coming down. I’m seeing Ross tomorrow and I’ll be getting some training.’
‘Do you think it might be worthwhile to call on Cheryl? You know. Suss out her involvement in all this. Like you said before, it’s her resting place in the afterlife.’
‘I’m amazed.’
‘What?’
‘You’re now convinced she’s here, aren’t you?’

PLEASE NOTE!  My pic with the book is photo-shopped.

Book Trailer

 

As I’m promoting my novel The Last Asbestos Town, I have designed my own book trailer. It’s very amateurish but I have to wait for copies of my book a very long time since we are in a pandemic and the books have to come from New York. God only knows when we will be back to normal. So in the meantime, I’m spreading the word about the book in anticipation of it reaching our West Australian shores.