Melbourne Launch of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean

Whip out your diaries and pencil this in! The first Australian event celebrating the launch of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean. There will be food, festivities and great story-telling from five of the contributors. We had such fantastic audiences in India, I’m really hoping that Oz can match the enthusiasm. All welcome but bookings are essential – 9439 8700!!!! Please come along!

ELTHAMbookshop, Eltham High School, Asialink  and Allen and Unwin
invite you to
a stellar launch

EAT THE SKY,DRINK THE OCEAN, is a unique collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing, including six graphic stories, showcasing twenty stellar writers and artists from India and Australia:

Isobelle Carmody, Prabha Mallya, Penni Russon, Payal Dhar, Justine Larbalestier, Anita Roy, Margo Lanagan, Kuzhali Manickavel, Lily Mae Martin, Manjula Padmanabhan, Kate Constable, Priya Kuriyan, Mandy Ord, Annie Zaidi, Samhita Arni, Vandana Singh, Alyssa Brugman, Kirsty Murray, Amruta Patil, Nicki Greenberg transport you into dystopian cities and other worldly societies with stylish stories, poems, playscripts, fractured fairy tales and futuristic TV cooking shows.

The tapestry of Eat The Sky, Drink The Ocean weaves in issues of food security, environmental destruction, class barriers, social justice and human rights to create lustrous narratives…. this anthology stands out for plucky writing and bold imagery”

Co-editor Kirsty Murray, author of over twenty books and anthologies including India Dark, The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie and the Year It All Ended, will chair an audio visual presentation by a selection of contributing authors and graphic artists

Mandy Ord

Penni Russon

Nicki Greenberg

Kate Constable 

UNMISSABLE for avid readers 14 plus looking for the next best sci-fi, fantasy read.

Date: Sunday Feb 22nd

Time: 4.00pm for 4.30pm-6.00pm

Venue: Eltham High School, Withers Way, Eltham

Cost: $20.00 includes a signed copy of the book or a $15.00gift voucher, authors’s presentations and Aussie Indian treats.

Prepaid, early bookings are essential: 94398700


The Bookwallah’s babies and beyond

In many ways, Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is the baby of The Bookwallah Although the themes and inspirations for the anthology were the fruit of conversations with Anita Roy and Payal Dhar, but for The Bookwallah, we probably wouldn’t have seen the possibilities for this sort of crazy cross-cultural collaboration. One adventurous idea often leads to another.

There’s a website dedicated to The Bookwallah where you can find out more about The Bookwallah project but briefly, it began in November 2012 when two Australian writers – Benjamin Law and I – toured India by train with three Indian writers – Chandrahas Choudhury, Annie Zaidi and Sudeep Sen. The Australian creators of The Bookwallah initiative, Nic Low and Catriona Mitchell, plus designer Georgia Hutchison and our Indian PR troubleshooter, Mikhail Sen, also journeyed with us for over 2,000 kilometres. While we travelled and talked, Catriona produced a documentary of the trip which is definitely worth watching for anyone interested in innovative ways of thinking about books, writers, readers and cross-cultural adventure.

The Bookwallah crew in Goa waiting for the train to Bangalore in October 2012.


Annie Zaidi and me on the Writiers’ Walk at Circular Quay in Sydney, September 2013

We travelled from Mumbai to Podicherry with a portable library of hundreds of Australian books and it was at the very end of that time in India that I caught up with Anita Roy in Delhi and began conjuring the idea for Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean. But it was during the many conversations on board trains across India that the glaring necessity of creating cross-cultural books really struck me. Annie, Chandrahas and Sudeep are superb story tellers and we spent hours talking about our lives, the books we love as well as our work.  It made me think about the fact that the things we have in common with India are so much greater than our differences.

By the time Chandrahas and Annie came to Melbourne in August 2013 for the Australian leg of The Bookwallah, the anthology was already underway and Annie had been commissioned to create a story with Australia comic book artist and graphic novelist, Mandy Ord.

A human baby only takes only nine months to grow inside their mother but stories often take years to gestate, to grow in the minds of their authors before they can reach the page and then, finally, with the help of many midwifes/editors, come into the world ready to meet their readers. It will be interesting to see, in the years to come, how many other literary brothers, sisters and cousins of The Bookwallah Project come into being.

The Bookwallahs in Pondicherry in 2012– from left to right – Chandrahas Choudhury, Nicolas Low, Sudeep Sen, Georgia Hutchison, Annie Zaidi, Mikhail Sen and in the foregroound, me and Benjamin Law


Swallow the Moon

One of the ground-breaking aspects of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is the fact that so many of the stories are collaborations between people from different countries who but for this anthology, would never have met nor had the chance to work together. 


Priya Kuriyan is the Indian artist responsible for the cover illustration of the anthology. When we were trying to choose which image to use from the many beautiful ones produced by the six graphic artists featured in the book, Priya’s drawing of a group of girls standing on a cliff overlooking a raging ocean just seemed to be the one that perfectly captured our themes. Allen & Unwin’s designer, Sandra Nobes, took the image from the first story in the anthology, Swallow the Moon, and added colour, the title and authors’ names to transform it into the stunning cover.

Swallow the Moon is a sixteen page graphically illustrated tale set in a future world written by the Australian fantasy author, Kate Constable. Kate’s original story was long and dark, set in an environmentally damaged future world. But once Priya began working on the illustrations the story began to transform into something quite different. Together they shaped a rites of passage story that was so beautiful and full of hope that all the editors felt a shiver of excitement when the pages arrived in our email inboxes.

In India, Priya is a much loved illustrator, comic book artist, animator, filmmaker and presenter at children’s literary festivals. To get an idea of how much she’s loved in India, check out Kareena N. Gianani’s interview with her on the Duckbill Blog. It’s crazy that we don’t have access to her work here in Australia. Priya will be visiting Australia in May to participate in the Centre for Youth Literature’s ‘Reading Matters’ conference thanks to the Creative Partnerships with Asia grant that made Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean possible.


Kate Constable’s work has won and been shortlisted for many awards. Her time travel novels Crow Country and Cicada Summer perfectly capture the sort of speculative mood we were looking to feature in the anthology.

Kate and Priya grew up in very different worlds but that doesn’t mean they can’t share an understanding of what it means to be young and facing an uncertain future.

Some people think that cross-collaboration between different cultures is a difficult process but if you have imagination and think creatively there are very few barriers.


One of Priya Kuriyan’s illustrations from Swallow the Moon


The sunken city - one of Priya's illustrations that we also considered for the cover of the book

The sunken city – one of Priya’s illustrations that we also considered for the cover of the book

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never completely disappears.”

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@kirstymurray on Twitter