Kangaroo Island book publisher Stombird Press wins gold among Kangaroo Island bushfire ashes

STORMBIRD HQ: Margi Prideaux in the door to the remaining shed on their farm, now the temporary HQ for Stormbird Press. Photo by Geoff Prideaux
STORMBIRD HQ: Margi Prideaux in the door to the remaining shed on their farm, now the temporary HQ for Stormbird Press. Photo by Geoff Prideaux

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the award-winning author Amy Barker and her publisher, Kangaroo Island's own Stormbird Press, predicted this year's events with amazing prescience when they planned the publication of Paradise Earth.

Barker's latest books presents the Port Arthur massacre not only as a national tragedy but poignantly as a personal trial for individuals and communities learning to survive after an unprecedented and life-altering event.

As they approached the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, neither author nor publisher could have known their worlds would be suddenly thrown into turmoil.

On January 3, the Stormbird Press office, home and farm of its co-founders, Geoff and Margi Prideaux, were lost to the fires.

Then COVID-19 swept across the world.

Like most islanders, the Prideaux's have experienced both the personal and the collective trauma of our island community in a state of shock.

"The fires gave us a new perspective about the Tasman Peninsula community's process in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre" Margi Prideaux said.

"We spent a lot of time talking about if psyches are remade by trauma or revealed by it.

"These are the themes of Paradise Earth. The more we discussed it the more convinced we became that Paradise Earth would be the first book we released in the wake of the fires.

"It seemed right. It felt like an important book for the world right now."

Margi and Geoff Prideaux in their temporary accommodation pod supplied by the Minderoo Foundation at their property at Gosse on Kangaroo Island.

Margi and Geoff Prideaux in their temporary accommodation pod supplied by the Minderoo Foundation at their property at Gosse on Kangaroo Island.

The Prideaux's have been stunned by the reception of the book by Amy Barker.

Reviewers and readers have been high in their praise about the books delivery on the complexities of human nature - why some people surrender to fate, others disregard what is dealt them, and some find the strength to survive and see potential for a better world.

The Prideaux's instincts was right.

This week Stormbird Press won Gold for Best Regional Fiction (Australia/New Zealand) in the coveted International Independent Publisher Awards for Paradise Earth.

"It's a huge honour, for us and for Amy Barker, and a great confirmation about our intuition," Margi said. "Paradise Earth has huge value. It's amazing what you can achieve from a shed!"

Margi meanwhile has started on the path to write her own book based on the experiences of those who survived the Kangaroo Island's summer of bushfires.

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, launched in 1996 in the USA, are designed to bring recognition to titles published by independent publishers.

It is one of the oldest, most established independent book awards in operation and is well known and respected within the book industry.

Paradise Earth was released on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, on the anniversary of the Port Arthur Massacre.

It can be purchased directly from Stormbird Press (www.stormbirdpress.com) or the Island's own booksellers.

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