Avid Bookshop will host author and Athens ex-pat Niki Tulk on Sunday, March 10, 2013, from 3pm to 4pm, to celebrate her debut novel, Shadows & Wings.Shadows & Wings is a novel of cyclic journeys between hemispheres, the connections between ourselves and those we can never know, and the haunting power of art, love and dreams.The story revolves around Tomas, a cellist and dreamer, who denies the devastating changes happening in 1930’s Germany—until he is drafted into Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Many years later, having emigrated to Australia, he raises his granddaughter Lara to love music and birds. He also chooses to hide from her a terrible secret.When her beloved Opa dies, 22 year-old Lara receives a shadow box of mysterious ornaments that force her to confront his past. Seeking to understand his years of silence, and to find a way through her own grief, she travels to Germany—the objects her only guide.BACKGROUND:Ms Tulk returns to Athens to present at the Georgia Children’s Literature Conference, and to launch Shadows & Wings in the place where, in her words, she was given the support and the “life friends” to see the project through.“The people here that I have connected with, including Janet at Avid, have been the ones who have given me the belief in the project that I needed. The novel has involved years of research, has a huge historical and geographical sweep, and has been an emotional roller coaster to write.“I could not have seen it through without the cheerleading, mentoring, hugs and humor of so many incredible Athenian folk. Avid is the perfect place to birth this book—they value literary integrity over the corporatizing of the literary world, and their heart is for communities and nurturing storytelling that will grow those communities. That is the planet I live on too, so it wouldn’t have made sense to me, to launch the book anywhere else.”And that community literally has fledged the novel, along with its new independent press. Ms Tulk was adamant, even though she had an agent, that the work was published because the community wanted it. She has felt a growing anathema to the corporatization of publishing—knowledge largely gained through her time at UGA.Enter Kickstarter. Ms Tulk explains:“The challenge was: If I prepared the project’s pitch well, allowing people to download samples and hear the journey and political context through a short video, would we get enough people on board to publish? It was scary, because I found it hard to believe that folks outside my immediate circle would be interested, but I really wanted to see if it were possible to find a core audience first, and then publish for them, rather than publishing the work and then finding a market.”And in the Kickstarter campaign, this sort of dialogue began to happen. Ms Tulk got messages and questions from others who were inspired by the idea, wanted to find out more about commercial vs. artistic interests in publishing—the debate of art vs. commodity raged!They burst through the funding goal, and Ms Tulk says, “We were ecstatic, because I knew that a huge reason why people funded this project was to support the idea of independent artists and author self- empowerment. In other words, this campaign was a much larger concern than just my book; which is what I wanted it to be. I hoped people would begin to think critically about the process by which work is brought to them, or kept from them, to ask questions and to celebrate the range of places from which new voices emerge.”PRAISE:* Shortlisted for the Australian CAL Scribe Fiction Prize.* Featured guest blogger and author on www.shewrites.com* “This is very beautiful and deeply sensitive writing. With characters affected by nameless forces, the text reads as fable and allegory, and at times evokes the nightmarish sense one gets from reading Kafka. Other sections have something of the quality, in written form, of Shaun Tan’s masterly graphic novel, The Arrival.”- Arnold Zable (award-winning author of Jewels and Ashes, Café Scheherazade, and Sea of Many Returns)ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Raised by an Australian farmer-turned-academic father, and a Marxist-feminist mother, Ms Tulk’s childhood was spent moving between an oppressive elementary school, a sheep farm and sabbaticals around the rest of the world. She was an English Lit and Theatre major, performed professionally as a cellist, and sang jazz n' folk music. She taught high school, worked as a bar manager, and confidante in a number of fascinating but unglamorous bars in inner-city Melbourne, married musician Mark Tulk and had four beautiful children, while also co-running Australia’s first independent, not-for-profit record label and recording studio that mentored, recorded and promoted musicians passionate about social justice.And then she moved with her family to Athens, GA. She spent three years in Athens, teaching theatre to at- risk teenagers, getting her Masters in Children's Literature and coming to terms with fire ants. A merit scholarship to the New School in NYC in fiction writing has since dragged her (and her family) away to the Big Apple.