January 11th, 2007
It’s almost unheard of for a Hollywood studio to spontaneously approach a publisher for a first-time author’s book. Usually, it’s the other way around, with publishers and agents begging the studios to even take a glance.
But within a month of its release, two major movie studios have shown interest in Magdalena Ball’s debut novel and are studying the manuscript: 20th Century Fox and Anonymous Content, who did the Brad Pitt blockbuster Babel and other huge box office hits.
Then again, Sleep Before Evening is no ordinary novel. The critically acclaimed book, which Magdalena wrote by midnight oil at her home in Lake Macquarie, has received unanimous 5-star reviews for its linguistic beauty and the intensity of its plot.
Set in and about New York, Sleep Before Evening tells the story of a teenager’s struggle against a self-centred artist mother, a succession of drive-by stepfathers, her desperate escape into a nightmare of drugs and sexual degradation … and her struggle not to sleep before evening.
Award winning author and poet Magdalena Ball left behind the concrete canyons of New York and the sleepy spires of Oxford, England to find her voice in the rural mountains of Australia 18 years ago. And with wombats and kangaroos for neighbours, she’s producing the best work of her life.
With work underway on two other books 43-year old Magdalena even finds time to run her bustling review site, CompulsiveReader.com – and look after her three young children.
Magdalena opened her popular Compulsive Reader website (www.compulsivereader.com) seven years ago to provide the kind of in-depth serious reviews found in top review sources like The Observer and SMH, but online and for a mixture of books including small presses and new authors, primarily literary fiction, and it has since become a benchmark for high quality online literary criticism.
Her gritty Sleep Before Evening unfolds with the same cool detachment that motivates the central character to peel back the layers of her life and expose the painful scalding within. There are lonely vigils in city parks and subway journeys to oblivion. In the city she meets Miles, a hip musician busking the streets and playing seedy venues with a rock band. Her new, exciting, dissolute world challenges Marianne’s preconceptions about art and life. Here, in contrast to her prescribed upbringing, she finds anarchic squalor, home grown music and poetry, substance abuse, sex and crushing disappointment and fear; but above all, exhilarating personal freedom. Addictions — of all kinds — and the redemptive power of art and music, love, loss and beauty are all explored in a young girl’s difficult journey from sleep to awakening. The book draws on Magdalena’s own rich life experience as a daughter and a mother to bring Marianne startlingly to life.
Some review excerpts:
“…the drug scenes are written with an intensity that I have rarely experienced in literature, or any other medium for that matter. The words and sentences beautifully drift through this melancholy, but never hopeless, foggy reality of drug abuse and self-searching and beauty and longing. The change and growth the protagonist goes through from the beginning to the end is nothing short of extraordinary, rendered almost impeccably, and the dialogue throughout feels as real as those dark shadows that hang out on that whiskey corner just down the street from my place, street-talking their way to the next hit, the next kiss, the next anything…kudos to Magdalena ball , “Sleep Before Evening” is a beautiful book. quite the accomplishment…” Tony Nesca, author of “The Do-Nothing Boys” and “About A Girl”
“The writing is deep and memorable making the novel a true page-turner. The words are chosen masterly; the narrative and the imagery are excellent. The book sounds like the music Marianne wants to compose.” Maressa Zahra, Moondance
“This is a beautifully written novel. While the subject matter is dark and unflinching (namely grief, depression and drug addiction) Magdalena Ball’s prose is always smooth and lyrical. Her characters are well drawn and memorable, set against a series of contrasting backdrops – suburban America; high school; the wild freedom of the coast and the seedy underside of New York life lurking just beneath the cosmopolitan coffee-bar surface. A joy to read.” J Moore, Writelink
“what we have here is a full-on rush of ambitious literary fiction. Gerald Everett Jones, Boychiklit
A full media kit for the book, including Reading Group notes can be found at http://www.compulsivereader.com/html/images/MediaRoom.htm
For review copies contact Cait Myers at BeWrite Books, email@example.com
To arrange an interview, contact Magdalena Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org
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