Published: 28/10/2015
ISBN: 9781784624422
eISBN: 9781784626150
Format: Paperback/eBook



‘A fascinating, richly-composed look at life in Papua New Guinea. A Gold Medal Winner and highly recommended.’
The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

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About the author: Trish Nicholson is a writer of narrative (creative) non-fiction and prize-winning short stories. Her writing career spans thirty years as columnist, feature writer for national medi... read more

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Inside the Crocodile
The Papua New Guinea Journals
by Trish Nicholson

In the wilds of the most diverse nation on earth, while she copes with crocodiles under the blackboard and sorcery in the office, Trish Nicholson survives near-fatal malaria and mollifies irascible politicians and an ever-changing roster of bosses – realities of life for a development worker.

With a background in anthropology and a successful management career in Europe, five years on a development project in the remote West Sepik province of Papua New Guinea more than fulfils Trish Nicholson’s desire for a challenge. In extreme tropical conditions, with few only sometimes-passable roads, travel is by a balus – an alarmingly tiny plane, landing on airstrips cut with grass knives and squeezed between mountains. Students build their own schools, babies’ weights are recorded in rice bags and women walk for days, carrying their produce to market.

Physically tested by dense jungle and swaying vine bridges, Trish’s patience is stretched by nothing ever being what it seems and with ‘yes’ usually meaning ‘no’. Assignments in isolated outstations provide surreal moments, like the 80-year-old missionary in long friar’s robes revealing natty turquoise shorts as he tears away on an ancient motorbike. Adventures on nearby Pacific islands relieve the intensity of life in a close-knit community of nationals and a cosmopolitan mix of expat ‘characters’. Local women offer friendship, but their stories are often heart-breaking.

More chaos arrives with Frisbee, the dog she inherits when the project manager leaves, along with other project expats. Tensions increase between local factions supporting the project and those who feel threatened by it – and stuck in the middle is Trish. Her emotionally engaging memoir Inside the Crocodile is full of humour, adventure, iron determination and... Frisbee the dog. It is beautifully illustrated with colour photos of Trish’s time there.

Winner of the GOLD award in the Adult Non-Fiction category of the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2015!

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Review
Writing Your Non-Fiction Book – The Complete Guide To becoming An Author By Trish Nicholson

Reviewed by Anne Stormont, Words with JAM

An author who practises what she preaches.

Claiming to be the complete guide to anything is a bold claim indeed. The author promises in her introduction that she will lead you ‘a step at a time’ through the whole process of producing and selling your non-fiction book.

In my opinion, the author’s claim is valid and her promise holds true.

This guide book would work just as well for as fiction writing as it does for non-fiction. It is aimed at the complete beginner but there’s plenty that could be useful to the more experienced writer, most especially indie author-publishers.

The book is divided into three main sections – Planning, Writing and Editing, and Publishing and Marketing. At the end there is a comprehensive list of useful websites, books and a glossary.

The advice offered is both general and specific and, indeed, as you read the book you see the author putting her that into practice.

There is genre-specific guidance – for everything from travelogues to blogs. As Nicholson herself says there’s, ‘enough scope here whether you intend to write on particle physics or brewing parsnip wine’. And there is more general advice on editing, routes to publishing and how to sell and market your work.

The book takes you through planning, plotting, point of view – yes these three are just as important in non-fiction as in fiction. There’s advice on workspace and finding time to write. The author also covers how to carry out research, how to avoid plagiarism and explains about copyright. Again, all relevant to creators of fiction as well.

Personally speaking, I found the sections on blogging, having a website and the use of social media to be particularly useful, as was the section on routes to publishing. I also especially liked the sections on how to write blurbs of various lengths depending on their purpose, and on how to pitch your work both to publishers and readers.

Nicholson recommends that you read the book straight through and then re-read as you write. And she says that ‘If you have followed each step with me so far you have achieved by now a thoroughly prepared manuscript, a decision as to how you will pursue its publication and the beginnings of an author platform’.

As I said at the start of this review, whether you’re a novice or an old-hand, drawn to writing fact or made-up stuff, a prospective or actual traditionally or independently published author, you’re sure to find something of use here.

I hope to have shown that this book goes beyond the mission of its title. This is an essential ‘How To’ manual for writers of every sort.

Successful events in the UK and Netherlands in 2014:

Trish's tour of author talks and workshops - on creative writing, and starting a non-fiction book - held during September/October 2014 received an enthusiastic response from participants. She offered 8 presentations in bookshops and with writers' groups in Amsterdam, Nottingham, Manchester, Bolton, Bath and Worthing. You can read her blog posts about the workshops, and how to design your own, on her website.


www,trishnicholsonswordsinthetreehouse.com

Paradise Magazine

Pasifika Truthfully

Pasifika Truthfully

Sydney Morning Herald

This account of Dr Trish Nicholson's five and a half years in Papua New Guinea in the late eighties and early nineties is absolutely fascinating. Using her extensive diaries as the basis of her narrative, she takes us from a chilly wind-blown Scotland to her arrival and consequent culture shock in tropical, humid Papua New Guinea. Nothing daunted, however, she uses her great people skills plus the help and friendship of fellow expats such as Jim, PNG colleagues like the marvellous Clarkson, Vero and Martha, and Frisbee the Hound Dog to find her way in the maze of PNG life and bureaucracy. Her job was to reorganise, restructure and give training to the Department of Personnel Management in Sandaun as part of a project financed by the World Bank. However, this was not a challenge for the faint hearted. So many personnel lived in remote areas, and the records were such a mess, it even involved paying staff who were already dead!

In her task, I was often amazed at her ability to survive the mind-numbing procedural complexities combined with the sometimes petty and anarchic disregard for truth and transparency of those entrenched in the system. Fighting ongoing Malaria, dramas such as pay-back killings, vengeful jealousies and corrupt practices, it took more than Trish's strength to cope. Towards the end of her stay, she became dangerously ill with Malaria. Nevertheless, she builds wonderful friendships with her PNG colleagues and earns immense respect for her courage and pluck in tackling almost anything that comes her way. This includes a three day hike through dense and inhospitable bush that would have sent me scurrying for home about one hour into it, particularly the idea of crossing bridges made of rotting rope or vine over deep river gorges.

There are delightful side characters, such as Sebby, who gate-crashed seminars and scribbled on blackboards intended for training notes. Frisbee the fly-everywhere dog also adds a special canine touch to the story.

The book is quite long and very detailed, but this serves to underscore the chaotic situations Dr Nicholson, or rather 'Tris' had to unravel. I found it completely absorbing and was easily able to transport myself there into the time, period and place. I was also glad she provided a glossary of Pidgin terms at the end and enjoyed the photos that gave visual reality to some of the characters and situations. All in all, this is a wonderful journal, a great memoir and a riveting read.

by Valerie Poore


‘A thoroughly fascinating story. I have never visited that part of the world but now I’d love to. The writing style was perfect for a book of this nature: light with an excellent balance of pace and descriptive prose.’

by Female reader, aged 45


‘By far the best book in this year’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards. An intriguing look at life in Papua New Guinea from the POV of a development worker. The author’s love of the cultures and the characters she meets shows in her writing. I’d recommend this to anybody interested in travel and understanding life in a different and often difficult country.’

by Male reader. Aged 38


‘The book starts so well with the crocodile and talks of sorcery. And, from there on, it keeps getting better. I was sad at the end when she left but the last line of the book made me smile. A lovely read, warm and packed full of cultural richness.’

by Female reader, aged 57


 

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