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  • Writer's picturesamantha battams

November '19 update

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Harry Butler presentations

Lots has happened since my last blog in August.

It was a busy week this week of 10 November, with Wednesday night Les Parsons and I presenting on 'The Red Devil: The story of South Australian aviation pioneer Captain Harry Butler' at the City of Charles Sturt, Henley Beach Library. The next talk on Harry Butler I will be doing solo at the Adelaide Planetarium Supernova group, Mawson Lakes on the 18th December at 7.30pm. More details on the event can be found here.

Epic Flight Activities

Celebrations for the Epic Flight have really got underway! Last Thursday night I attended the screening of The Greatest Air Race at Wallis Cinema Mitcham, the documentary on the Smith Brothers and crew's first UK-Australia flight, with an introduction by NASA astronaut and South Australian Andy Thomas AO, and it was great. The documentary will air on SBS at 7.30pm on Sunday 8th December, so don't miss out on this inspiring story! It was interesting to hear that Andy Thomas brought up on his Endeavour space flight the 'wings' of the Smith brothers, whom he had been inspired by.

Last month I got to see the Smith Brothers VickersVimy up close at Adelaide airport - looks like a very clumsy machine and amazing that it travelled the distance it did with the four man crew in an open cockpit in all kinds of weather! They got a lot of support from locals from various countries along the way - like the people of Surabaya in Indonesia who pulled up their thatched house walls to make a runway so they could take off from the muddy field and make it back to Australia in time! Others held down the plane in a storm, so that it did not 'fly' away on its own accord. The story is really one of communities pulling together to enable the epic flight to succeed, and of other tragedies along the way, highlighting the precariousness of early air travel.

In August I read #LainieAnderson's creative account on the Smith brothers flight, which I highly recommend as an easy and entertaining read - I read it in less than a week! I now have another book on the epic flight to read as in October I attended the launch of #MichaelMonkentin's book on Sir Ross Smith 'Anzac and Aviator'. It also looks like a very interesting read on a very inspiring person.

We also had the spectacular Edinburgh Air Show the 9/10 November - with the 9th November happening to be SA pioneer aviator Harry Butler's birthday, a fitting date for the air show to commence!

Crime Writing, Reading and Networking

Another launch I attended in November was that of S.J.Morgan's first crime fiction book 'Hide' at the Mitcham library. The book was launched by Sonya Spreen Bates, who also has an exciting crime fiction book about to be published by Harper Collins in April 2020, which was the winner of Harper Collins's Banjo Prize.

Also related to the topic of crime writing, I instigated an initial meeting of a local SistersinCrime group in Adelaide. We had our inaugural networking drinks meeting on the 8th November at the Publishers Hotel, with 14 people attending, mostly crime writers. We also encourage avid readers of crime books to join. We will be holding informal regular writing networking groups as well as seminars/dinners with invited speakers and authors in 2020. Please email me if you are interested in joining.

Another network event I attended 15 November was the Chook Pen Publishing Support group, a newly established co-operative to assist women writers in Adelaide.

New Short Story and Current Writing Projects

I am well into my follow up book 'The Rhynie Poisoning Case,' on #MarthaNeedle's nephew Alexander Newland Lee, having written 20,000 words to date. Also in the last few months I researched the scandalous story of my great-great grandmother, who lived in three countries: England, New Zealand and Australia. It is largely set in 19thC Melbourne, which was full of charlatans who went unregulated - no one greater than her second husband, who was a regular feature in the Melbourne newspapers and whom she eventually left! I have just put this interesting story up on my website here, and plan to turn it into a book in the future. I have also commenced the story of my great great great grandfather, Johann Gramp (1819-1903). The working title is: Carte Blanche: The life of Johann Gramp, pioneer winemaker of the Barossa Valley.

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