Ariella Van Luyn: Debut Book Launch Event & Giveaway!

Published On June 16, 2016 | By Samantha Mant | Artgaze, Books, Events

Artgaze Lab Inc. love being able to collaborate with and promote the amazing talents we have here in North Queensland. One such artist is local author Ariella Van Luyn, who is set to launch her debut novel at Mary Who? Bookshop in Townsville on July 1st 2016.

Ariella lectures in writing at James Cook University and has already garnered a buzz of interest as an author due to her highly recognised short stories.

We are also extremely excited to announce that we have three copies of her debut novel, Treading Air to give away to our magazine readers! All you have to do is purchase a copy of our digital magazine when it is relaunched in late August and you will be entered into the draw to win one!

To keep up to date with when the magazine will be relaunched and the winners will be announced, make sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter!

Read on for the event details and an exhilarating excerpt from the book, we hope to see you at the launch!

Sami~ EIC

Many thanks to Ariella Van Luyn.


Treading Air book cover

Treading Air Book Launch

Celebrate the launch of a novel about Townsville’s dark underbelly in the 1920s, Treading Air by Ariella Van Luyn 

When: Friday 1 July 2016, 6pm

Where: Mary Who? Bookshop, 414 Flinders Street, Townsville.

Free entry.

Please RSVP to Mary Who? Bookstore:


 About Treading Air

It’s Townsville, 1922. Lizzie has fallen for war-scarred Joseph O’Dea, and they’ve escaped Brisbane to start a life in Townsville. But, in this scene in the novel, Joe has promised Lizzie a honeymoon first:

‘Where are we going?’ Lizzie asks. 

Joe doesn’t answer, screws his eyes half-shut against the glare. He speeds up, drags them to a fruit stall, decked out with a striped awning and bright with swollen watermelons and mangoes. A sign above it, written in curling caps: ‘The Fruit Orchard’. Joe says something to the man behind the counter that she doesn’t catch. The man nods, ducks underneath the lip of the counter and comes out with a paper bag rolled over at the top. Joe passes up money. The man pockets it. Joe hands her the bag. 

She takes it between thumb and finger, and screws up her nose. ‘Hell’s this?’ 

Joe grins at her. 

She feels like slapping him. ‘Got me hopes up, you bastard.’ 

‘Wait, wait.’ He brings her round the corner, and the beach comes on them unexpectedly, the waves small and quiet. 

‘Water’s brown,’ she says. The bite of disappointment. 

He leads her down to the beach, a fringe of palm trees at their backs. Lizzie sits with the bag on her lap and waits for him to settle himself. She unrolls the top of the paper. A red apple nestles in the bag’s creased bottom. She pulls it up by its stalk and makes to throw it at Joe, but he grabs it from her hand. She sits with her arms crossed, staring out to sea and the blue-purple outline of Magnetic Island hovering on the horizon. 

Joe pierces the apple’s dotted skin with his pocketknife, cuts it in half. One side falls open, exposes the flesh, curved and pale like skin left too long in the dark. The star of seeds on the inside is missing. Instead, a paper twist of white powder. 

‘For my snow queen,’ Joe says, presenting it to her. 

‘Golly! That’s not –?’

He grins at her again. ‘’Tis.’ 

‘Where’d you find it?’ 

He shrugs. ‘Man on the train told me. Put your hand out.’ 

She obeys, palm down, and Joe turns it up to him. He taps the snow onto her wrist. She hesitates. Doesn’t want to make a fool of herself. The powder stirs in the wind. 

‘Don’t let it blow away.’ He cups his hand over her wrist. ‘Here, I’ll show you.’ He blocks off one nostril, put his nose to her wrist and snorts. She giggles at his cold inhalation on her skin. He taps more snow out for her and lifts her wrist to her nose. ‘Sniff.’ 

She sucks it up, laughing, thinking that there will be no one to stop her, to make her feel small. She’s free with Joe up here, where nobody knows them.

This is the beginning of Lizzie’s exploration of her own identity and sexuality in Treading Air. Based on the true story of Lizzie O’Dea, who was a petty thief and sex worker in 1920’s Townsville, the novel tells the story of Lizzie’s life on the fringes of society.

Ariella Van Luyn uncovered Lizzie’s story in newspaper archives while researching Townsville’s empty places; much of the story takes place at the back of the old Causeway Hotel, now demolished, which used to be next to the Officeworks at the corner of Carters Towers Road and Boundary Street.

You can watch this video for more about how Ariella discovered Lizzie’s story.

The launch will feature readings from Ariella Van Luyn, Nicole Crowe and Jennifer Barrett.  The novel will be available to buy on the night, or you can pre-order it from Affirm Press.

van luyn small

Ariella is a writer, researcher and teacher. She currently works at James Cook University, lecturing in writing. Her stories have appeared in Southerly, Overland, Voiceworks, Lip Magazine and The Lifted Brow. Treading Air is her debut novel. Check out her website for more information.

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About The Author

Samantha Mant is the Editor in Chief for Artgaze magazine. She is also a naturopath. More of Samantha's work can be found at her website The Holistic Branch.

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