We have passed from Autumn into Winter and it saddens me that I hardly noticed the transition. Living in the city can dull you to the changes of nature. Seasons are marked by fashion and dietary changes rather than by nature itself. Still, grey rainy days, hot soup and curries. Mugs of hot chocolate. Watching Smuchi stretched out in front of the radiator, and Alfie handsome in his winter woolly coat. I love Winter and I welcome the chill in the air that inspires my writing so much. To me, there is no better way to spend my days than snug inside our cozy terrace, the rooms perfumed with essential oils and scented candles and experiencing the Muse’s kiss as I return to Eronth, the Web-Kondoell and Earth. I am on the first draft of the third book A Fire in the Shell. In another couple of weeks, I shall reach the 100,000 word mark. A little bit behind schedule, but that’s okay.
It seems no matter how meticulously I plan the book it still becomes an organic process, developing its own life and rhythms. Some days I can’t wait to find out what is going to happen next! Writing like this can be scary at times, but also tremendously exciting because it is as fresh to me as the reader.
I’ve also been trying to catch up on the enormous tower of books waiting patiently for me to read. Some favourites I have read recently are Billy by Pamela Stephenson, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell, Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King and re-reading The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I’m just about to start on A Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper.
Haven’t been going out, or going to the cinema due to my writing schedule. However, I did manage to sneak in to see The Mothman Prophecies, which was fabulous. The movie is quite different to the true accounts that I have read about the sightings at Mt Pleasant, but it is still food for thought and beautifully filmed. I shall be giving my first ever writers talk on July 6th at the Popular Writer’s Centre, Rozelle. The website with all the details is www.nswwriterscentre.org.au. You can find a full programme there with details of all the speakers. If you are in Sydney and interested in writing, please come along and say hello. My talk is on Sunday at 10 am. I am talking with Traci Harding and Caiseal Mor.
Hope wherever you are reading this, the winter season brings you valuable reflection and prolific creative pursuits. Bright Blessings, Josephine
I am enormously overjoyed to report I won the 2001 Scarlet Stiletto Award for Crime Writing. Yes, that much coveted sexy red stiletto trophy is mine, plus a cheque from Harpers and Collins! The check-in and security staff at the airport were understandably pretty nervous about letting me on a flight with a huge dagger trophy in my sweaty hand. Not to mention the poor guy who sat next to us! I’ve put some photos up of the night to share with you. I had an excellent time in Melbourne, and spent a day signing copies of Circle of Nine for the bookstores. I’ve never won a trophy before! I was a bit of a shocker at sport at school, and they tended to be the only thing that they gave trophies for. It was a surreal experience to hear my name called out as the winner. I floated all night and nobody could get a coherent word out of me. It was fun to catch up again with my Melbourne Sisters in Crime at Leo’s, the famous St Kilda spaghetti bar. My winning entry was called Birthing the Demons. Be warned, it is very dark!
My other big news is that there has been a new addition to the tribe, a tiny black kitten. She is adorable with the sweetest disposition. Her full name is Smuchi Trim Pennicatt Levell, otherwise fondly known as Demon Mouse. Smuchi, because she loves a smooch and kisses and Demon Mouse because she’s a tiny fluff of mayhem. She loves to demolish everything in the house and garden! As I’m writing this, she’s sleeping in a clothes drawer which has become a favourite spot. You can see by her photo how gorgeous the Demon Mouse is.
I have now finished Bride of the Stone, the second book in the Circle of Nine trilogy. As it wings its way to the publisher I’m beginning research for book three, A Fire in the Shell, and I’m really looking forward to writing this journey. Hecate is a fascinating goddess, and I can feel this book “singing” to me already. I’m already getting ideas for at least three more books after my trilogy; it seems as if the more I write, the more energy and inspiration I receive!
It has been a wonderful time for me. Some of the feedback I have got from emails has been very uplifting. I’ve greatly enjoyed sharing ideas with kindred spirits and hearing your comments on the book. Thank you very much for those concerned for taking the time to share your thoughts. It’s lovely to get such enthusiastic writers and makes my job even more fun than it already is.
Until next time – May Your Dreamers Hold You Tightly, Josephine
26 November 2001
Attended my first ever Sassy Awards which was a lot of fun and very inspirational. It was great to catch up with writing friends like Ian Irvine, Graeme Hague, Traci Harding, Kim Wilkins, Kate Morton. It’s always wonderful to see my publisher Jody Lee! There were some fabulous talks from authors such as Gail Bell, (The Poison Principle) Diane Armstrong (The Voyage of their Lives) Belinda Alexandra (The White Gardenia). Father Chris Riley also delivered a moving talk. The only thing I love more than reading and writing, is listening to authors talk about writing. The night was beautiful. The gowns were glamorous, the men looked sharp and the wine was complimentary. I was thrilled to be the lucky receiver of the entire set of autographed Traci Harding books. I finally got to meet my writing tutor, Marg McAlister who started the ball rolling for me. Took a heap of photos which I’ll put up on my site soon. When I got home I had the excitement of a message on my answering machine telling me I have been shortlisted for the Scarlet Stiletto Award again. So I’ll be flying to Melbourne in the next couple of weeks for the ceremony. Oh dear, somewhere in all this I have to get Circle of Nine finished. Wish me luck!
18 November 2001
Last night we held the Unofficial Launch of Circle of Nine. “Unofficial” because I couldn’t get an official launch anywhere. Galaxy were too busy at this time of year, Dymocks wanted to charge an exorbitant rate to hold it, Grace Bros made their book buyer redundant and so they hadn’t ordered it…and so on…So we celebrated Circle at a private residence at Redfern. Lots of musicians, sausages for the carnivores and alcohol. Cover designer Nick Stathopoulos made an appearance. Also, there was Zoe, his model for the cover art. Bit of a surreal experience to see your cover in living flesh. Richard Harland added to the night with his delightful, exuberant presence. It was a great night and mix of people. I got home about 4am and collapsed happily feeling that Circle of Nine was now well and truly Unofficially Launched.
This coming weekend is also a big social event for my diary. It’s my first Sassy awards. This is a day when Selwa Anthony brings all her authors together to eat, drink and be merry. Looks like I’ll have to overdose on the rose essential oil again (very good for hangovers). Work-wise, I’m putting every spare moment into Circle of Nine as that deadline looms nearer. The story continues on from Book One, and introduces Maya, Fenn and The Tremite Scribes as well as continuing characters from Circle. The story moves from Australia to India, to the Web-Kondoell and Eronth. Phew! I’m exhausted thinking about it! Aphrodite is my featured goddess in this book. My vision of Aphrodite is quite different to the love spell books that are around everywhere. She is the Tomb Goddess, and this goddess is not known as the Man Slayer for nothing. After all, she was born from severed bloody genitals…how mind boggling is that! I’ll shortly be posting some very brief notes on Circle of Nine in the book section. Until next time, may YOUR dreamers hold you tightly.
12th November 2001
Yep, I’m long overdue for an update. Big new is, my baby has arrived! Hurrah! I had been stressing as to when I would get my hands on it. I even had a dream my agent was screaming at me to pull it off the shelves from all the bookstores because the pages were laced with Anthrax! I had to go into hospital for a minor op, and when I came around from the anesthetic, the very first thing I said to the nurse was, “my book is due out this week.” When I returned home – there it was. I love the map that Ian and Simon Irvine did for me. Quite an extraordinary feeling to hold the book in my hand and see my name on the cover. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Whatever happens now with regards to sales, etc nobody can take this moment away from me. It really is an incredible achievement ! Hopefully I’ll begin to appreciate it a bit more but I’m just flat out working on Circle of Nine, which is Book Two. Deadline is December, so I haven’t got a lot of time to sit and gaze at my book lovingly.
I have now finished two edits for Circle of Nine. The restructural edit was by far the hairiest. A lot of the characters names were changed by request of the publishers, and there was major rewriting needed of the first chapters. I finished on the morning I was booked to fly to Tasmania for a week’s break, so I was cutting it fine, but I did make my deadline. My parents have retired to the midlands of Tasmania and they live near a beautiful lake and an old cemetery. It was freezing cold, and I had an idyllic week, reading in front of my parents’ open fire, walking my dog Brownie (who has totally rejuvenated herself and cured herself of arthritis) and just relaxing. I read Birdman by Mo Hayder on a stormy, windy night and scared myself witless. Other books that I have really enjoyed recently are the Harry Potter books, the Lemony Snicket books, the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop and The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Passage by Connie Willis and The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton.
I have already started to get ideas for my fourth book (after the Trilogy) and I am hoping to go to Scotland as part of a research trip. I saw a couple of great art exhibitions recently including Frida Kahlo and the Mexican painters in Canberra, but my favourite was When Elephants Paint at the MCA in Sydney. It was just a great reminder of the joy of art and creativity. Those elephants were amazing!
14 May 2001
Finally the title for the first book in my trilogy has been decided. We have decided to drop the original title of Persephone Rising, and it has been renamed Circle of Nine. I’m happy with the change, because Nine is a number sacred to the Muses, and it also happens to be my number in numerology. Not that I’m a great believer of such things, but hey, why take any chances?
Hoping to take a short holiday soon. In the last couple of years, I’ve written two books, continued to work part time, and continued to study for my Aromatherapy Diploma. However it has definitely been worthwhile – I can’t wait to see Circle of Nine be delivered in November!