When I finished my PhD I was keen to publish it for a wider reading audience, not just as an academic monograph for my peers. I made a few attempts at academic publication, but they came to nought and to be honest, I was too exhausted to think much more about it. The idea of presenting my research to other readers, people keen to read what researchers are discovering, has never left me.
Finally, I put together Figurines, Slaves and Soldiers: The Iron Age Figurines from Tell Ahmar, and self-published it. I was excited to be chosen to launch it at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in 2013, but again, fatigue and a lack of knowledge about book promotion saw my book sink into oblivion. It’s possibly still available in print from Amazon, but I don’t recommend it…(If you're very keen, I still have a few paperback versions)...
Now, it’s time to resurrect the figurines under a new title and with brand new content. I realise now that the first edition was too dull, too dry and way too boring to excite anyone in the real world. It needed more work to fire the imagination, to actually tell a good story.
Having completed Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and a Tiny Home-On-Wheels and spent some years on the craft of narrative non-fiction – developing characters, dialogue, scenes, just like in fiction - my writing skills are, I think, stronger (though better writing is an ongoing project in itself) and I feel more confident in reworking the first figurine book into something much more interesting.
The new edition begins back in the mid-90s, when I first enrolled as a postgraduate in archaeology, and was excavating as a part of a team at the Iron Age site of Tell Ahmar, North Syria. It follows my research in Syria and Britain, then back in Australia. Years later I travelled to America for the first time, to attend a conference and present my findings. During that trip I visited many wonderful museums and got to thinking about how figurines are presented to the public…what stories are told about figurines in museum displays?
These reflections will bring the book up to date.
Read Ancient Figurines: How It All Began from the blog.