3 December 2004
How hot has it been? It’s raining today, but when the temperatures in Sydney went up to 40 a few days ago, I thought I would melt. I spent most of the day lying on the bed trying to write longhand, the cat next to me. The fan on, and a lavender dipped frozen chux on my head – not a good look! I’ve always found it difficult to write in the heat. My best writing weather is rain, storms, winter. The chapter I was working on today was a difficult, fiddly one as I had to keep going back to my research books.
The annual Sassy Seminar has been and gone. It was a great day and night. Some very interesting speakers. Belinda Alexandra gave an inspiring talk on visualising success and the work she is doing rescuing wild possums. A polygraph expert gave a fascinating talk on how criminals give themselves away. It was the best Sassy for talks I could remember.
I always love the night with everybody glammed up. Selwa looked super stunning as always. If my photos turn out okay, I’ll put them up on my website. It’s always lovely to catch up with all the Sassy authors; we normally only talk by email as everybody lives in different states.
Found out this week I’ve shortlisted again for the Scarlet Stiletto Award which is a real honour. The short story I wrote is called “Tadpole.” I don’t think I’ll be able to make the awards ceremony this year which is a shame as it’s always a good night to see my sisters in crime and have a weekend in Melbourne. I’ll let you know how the story goes.
I’ve been swimming a lot lately, now up to 20 laps. We also went to the beach on that blistering Sunday; it was just heavenly to be in the water, even with the jellyfish. I even got sunburnt walking to my yoga class the other morning. I really don’t know how I’m going to survive Summer!
14 November 2004
Today we had a nice Sunday lunch, compliments of Brian Walpole. He invited David and myself, Selwa and her partner Brian, and Steve (who taught Brian how to use a computer) as a celebration for his book. It was a beautiful sunny day and the restaurant was great with the most spectacular harbour views. I think Sydney Harbour is so beautiful and I just don’t get to see it enough. It was really lovely to have time with Selwa. Having her as my agent was a dream come true and throughout the years I become more and more impressed by her as a strong woman and businesswoman. She’s been a great rock for David and myself.
Next weekend is the annual Sassy weekend and I shall put a post up about that. I’m really looking forward to catching up with the Sassy authors and making new friends there.
I’m moving slowly through chapter six at the moment on a hunting scene. It’s amazing how this chapter altered dramatically from my original plot, which I think was through the filter of my views on hunting rather than those of my characters. It’s been another slow week for writing due to some health problems. I have to go for an operation at RPA tomorrow morning at 6am. I’m trying not to be hard on myself however. As long as the book is moving forward.
This week I also had a great idea for a non-fiction book which I am going to co-write with a good friend of mine. Yes folks, I have plenty of ideas, it’s just time. I’m meant to be fasting from now in preparation for the knife, so to bed.
31 October 2004
Happy All Hallows Eve. This has to be my favourite festival of them all.
Witchcraft magazine (November-December issue, out now) has a feature article with yours truly. I was quite excited when they approached me about doing the article as I’ve collected every copy of the mag for the last decade bar issue 1. It’s surreal to suddenly find myself in the pages. In the article I talk about my latest book, my views on Witchcraft, my love of Paris and other topics. Plus you get to see my new dark hair!
The panel talk at UTS (Sydney) went very well. I always enjoy catching up with Kate Forsyth and listening to her passionate talks. Christian Read (our other panel member) was also interesting. It was gratifying to see the amount of people that turned up. We were also given bottles of wine and chocolates from the organisers which was a nice touch.
David is reading through Witches of Paris for me at the moment to give his opinion before I send it to Selwa. This is a difficult time when other eyes first see the work and I cringe in anticipation of their judgement!
We were invited to the launch for Wild Lavender, Belinda Alexandra’s latest book. I had been very excited about going, had my outfit ready (a 20s French Flapper outfit). Then I was rushed to hospital with a dramatic illness and missed the whole event. Damn! I heard Belinda even danced a tango so I was very disappointed to miss that!
I finally managed to get out in the garden and plant some herbs. I didn’t do any ritual such as a creativity ritual, which I normally like to do when I’m sowing seeds. Just plonked them in.
I had the creepiest dream the other night. It has haunted me all week. I was in this child’s dormitory, which looked like something from Dickens. There was the presence of a spirit very strongly in the room. I could hear a child giggling, and from behind a curtain the sound of someone urinating. When I threw back the curtain there was no-one there. Then I saw the spirit, a little boy with wild hair. I asked him what kept him anchored to this plane, and he replied CHAOS. It was a very scary moment. I began shouting at him, “You’ve done something, you killed your mother or your brother, you’ve stolen, lied, or cheated. I’m not real and neither are you. But you’re the past and I’m the future and we’ve connected. ” Then he began biting my arm with sharp little teeth and the pain woke me up. I’m sure there’s a book or story idea in this dream.
Brian Walpole, the undercover WWII commando who wrote his life story with David, was interviewed on A Current Affair the other night. They flew him back to Malaysia to revisit where he fought the Japanese all those years ago. He’s such a great character, and we were so proud that he even managed to get a plug in for My War!
Happy Mischief Night, whatever you are doing. May your ancestors stir quietly through your bones and dreams and the Feast of the Dead bring you splendid visions.
22 September 2004
I’ll be appearing this Saturday afternoon 4pm at the UTS (Sydney) Writers’ Festival, on the fantasy panel. Full details in the appearances section.
The book that David edited for Brian is now on the shelf – My War by Brian Walpole. Fingers crossed it will do well. If you know anyone who would like a fast-paced, action-filled story about an Australian soldier living with and fighting alongside the headhunters of Borneo behind Japanese lines in World War 2, please pick it up. It was totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Brian is a real character, think James Bond crossed with Paul Hogan and more than a touch of Russell Crowe and you get the picture.
Saw the movie The Village the other day which I loved, much more than The Sixth Sense. There’s so much garbage at the films these days such as Catwoman that a subtle movie like The Village was a welcome relief.
I’m still sick which is driving me nuts. It is very hard to write when all I want to do is lie in bed and die. I have managed to do five chapters of The Witches of Paris which I’m polishing at the moment to send to Selwa to look over. With all this gorgeous balmy weather I just want to get out in the garden and plant some herbs but I have no energy. I’ll update the website soon and put some more recent photos up.
18 August 2004
By now you probably know about the horrific flooding in Boscastle, Cornwall. I wept watching the news this morning because it was less than two years ago that David and I enjoyed one of the best holidays of our life in this atmospheric, friendly village. We’ve been frantically trying to find out what state our dear friends are in who live in Cornwall. Also gutting is the fact that the Museum of Witchcraft has been flooded and has lost many priceless artefacts. Thankfully nobody in the Museum lost their life, and the research material on the top floor is okay. The Children of Artemis website has set up an emergency donation fund through Paypal and 100 per cent of the money goes to the Museum. Please if you can donate anything, however small. The more we all as a community help, the quicker it will be to get this vital museum up and running. I’ll keep more updates as I hear things. Please remember Boscastle and its people in your prayers and magickal workings. It is a very special town with the most friendly people I have ever met. Boscastle brings out a sense of community in your spirit. It was devastating to see some familar faces on the news this morning talking about their losses. Here is a link to the Children of Artemis site if you would like to help.
10 August 2004
It seems centuries since I last updated this site. I’m going to have to make a list of everything I’ve been up to:
1. Fighting off the flu and the gastric bug going around. It seems all of Sydney is fighting the flu.
2. Discovered a new band I love called The Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence. They are a really fun band who play punky/heavy covers of Downtown, Solitary Man and others. Their original stuff is great too. It’s now often you see an entire pub singing and dancing along to bands, but this has happened on the two occasions I’ve seen Pubert play. They play at the KB hotel in Surry Hills. Check ’em out if you’re in Sydney.
3. Finally, miles behind everyone as usual, I caught up with the latest Harry Potter film which I loved. Boy, could I relate to those Dementors.
4. A musical documentary called European Experience which I did the voiceover for several years ago was shown on Ovation. If it’s repeated again and you’re interested, I’m reading the script!
5. Saw the most brilliant theatre show, Vanishing Point by the French illusionist Philippe Genty. It is a total mind spin, very surreal. Mind-achingly beautiful, creepy and haunting.
6. Also caught up with the exhibition of Australian Surrealists at the SH Ervin Gallery. We saw it on closing day and were treated to a wonderful performance poetry piece where poets gave their impressions of their favourite paintings. It was a very inspiring day and I began getting ideas for another book (after this series I’m working on).
7. Have discovered the sensory bliss of gelati! There seems to be a few gelati places opening up in my area. Passionfruit and coconut remains my favourite so far.
14 June 2004
Today was a pretty exciting day for me. Helped along with half a bottle of Scotch, I got my first tattoo. Those of you with tattoos will no doubt be rolling your eyes, but it felt like a very important ritual marking for me. Steve, who performed the act in Skin Deep Tattoo, Newtown, said he loved to do a virgin. I haven’t been called that for many years, so there’s another first. Over the years I’ve often talked about getting one, but I have a horror of needles and thought I might not appreciate having them when I’m 100. However, I’ve had some very significant life changes recently. I’ve changed day jobs, I now have black hair and my attitude to life has changed. It felt right to celebrate that with a tattoo. For those of you who are curious, I had a Caduceus on my left shoulder. This ancient symbol of the white and black serpents entwined around a staff and wings represents a whole heap of things: literature which is immortal (hah!), healing, the dual nature of good and black witchcraft, male and female energies combined, kundalini energy, and also the messenger leading people to the underworld. It’s a very powerful symbol. I knew that I wanted snakes, but the Caduceus was the only symbol that spoke to me. Spookily enough, Steve was actually Gemini and knew the symbol very well.
If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, I would say do it. Yes, it is painful, but bearable pain. Believe me, I’ve had much worse pain at the dentist. It was actually a lot of fun and the pain was part of the experience. I’m sure I will be back for another one. Steve said to send people to him, so if you want a tattoo and you’re in Sydney, Steve is your man. He was very gentle and talked me through it all the way.
David is also setting himself a little challenge and that is to go diving with sharks. I’m trying to talk him into getting a shark tattoo to celebrate that event, but he’s not interested. This week on A Current Affair, they are going to have Brian Walpole’s story. I shall update my website when he comes on.
Writing-wise, it’s been a slow but steady progress. I have really felt that I need to balance myself lately by having a bit of fun in the “real world” not just sitting at a computer. I’ve been going to see some bands and letting off a bit of steam. I’m about 22,000 words into a very rough first draft, but the story is there. I really don’t want to be cranking out books like a tired old sausage machine. I like to write about places and scenes I know. So this, is really a time of experience and fun for me. We all need fun.
25 May 2004
Yesterday was a brilliant effort for my writing – I did over 4,000 words, which bumped my word count up a bit! I’ve got nearly three chapters now of a very rough first draft. Today was frustrating – I did 1,000 words, felt very fired up and fully immersed in the world I was creating… and then I had to stop to go to yet another work training day.
This week we finally got to see the cover art of the book David worked on for Brian Walpole called My War: Life is for Living. It comes out in August, which is very exciting. The cover is great, a nice portrait of a younger Brian and some Sea Dyak headhunters. Brian is returning to Sarawak this week with A Current Affair filming him, so hopefully he will mention his book!
There was a depressing article in the weekend papers about Australian publishing companies closing their doors to new talent and relying on imported American and British titles. Some publishers are only taking on authors they believe will sell 7000 copies. Harper Collins is publishing 40 per cent fewer books.
It’s a pretty precarious, fragile web we spin when we write. You really have to love the work, the process of shutting yourself away from the world, taking the risk it may or may not sell. If I didn’t write, I could always paint. But writing is easier.
11 May 2004
The good news is I’ve finally started the draft for The Witches of Paris and it’s flowing extremely well. I did
over 5,000 words in two days, which is good going for
me. I think because I’ve been thinking about this book and researching for nearly a year, I’ve come to really know the characters. They have emerged very quickly, I love them already and there’s some interesting conflicts emerging.
I’m really enjoying the process of this book and it’s a nice feeling not to have to work to a deadline.
To help with the mood of the book, I’ve been looking at some art books that feature some great early witchcraft paintings and a beautiful book of photographs mainly portrait shots from the carnival in Venice.
Saw a couple of very good films since I last wrote. Secret Window with Johnny Depp – that man just gets better and better! Today I finally caught up with The Passion of the Christ. This has to be the most gruelling, emotional, terrible, beautiful film I have ever sat through. As an old Catholic
I thought I knew the story, but I was shocked by how much I had forgotten, and also by how Gibson made me see very familiar events in a totally different way.
There were so many great moments. Satan was fantastic. The scene where Mary the Mother runs to Jesus when he falls is one of the most beautiful I have seen. I thought my heart would break when she finally got him down from the cross. Mary Magdalene when she crawls to him like a dog after he prevents them stoning her; I could go on and on.
Yes, the violence is graphic. The scourging scene is awful.
I had my eyes shut, as I did when they hammer him to the cross. However, personally I find directors like Tarantino more offensive. Mel Gibson made The Passion from the very depth of his beliefs and passion. He didn’t make it for effect, or to be smart or cynical. There are no scenes of intestines being hosed out from cars and so forth.
When you create from the heart, you touch the heart. I know of some pretty tough guys who have seen the film
and ended up going to Mass to find out what it’s all about. There’s been stories in the media of murderers confessing after watching the film to murders they got away with in the past. I didn’t feel like racing off to Mass; the movie made me feel in places as if I hated humanity. When you look at the mess the Middle East is in today, it doesn’t seem that much different from the events in the first century. It’s almost as if we’ve learnt nothing. The question I was asking myself was – did Jesus die for nothing? Are we really worth his sacrifice? It did make me feel like re-reading the Testaments and some Biblical history. It’s really worth seeing for the cinematography alone. You feel as if you’re entering into a Caravaggio painting. Even if you’re not Catholic or interested in the message, it’s a brilliant piece
of historical cinema.
If you’re waiting on an email from me, I apologise. Life has been very frantic lately with all the training for my new job, but I am slowly beginning to clear my very full in-tray.
Tomorrow is the birthday of one of my favourite artists, Gabriel Rossetti. So to pay him tribute, here are a few lines from one of his poems. When I visited his grave in England
I took him flowers and wept as if I had known him. My mother thought I was quite mad to go miles out of my
way to visit the grave of a long dead poet and cry! Happy Birthday Gabriel.
From The Kiss
I was a child beneath her touch, – a man
When breast to breast we clung, even I and she, –
A spirit when her spirit looked through me, –
A god when all our life-breath met to fan
Our life-blood, till love’s emulous ardours ran,
Fire within fire, desire in deity.
03 May 2004
Strange days. As usual, the peace of Sunday morning was disturbed by the very elderly Greek couple next door fighting. This time they were more passionate than ever; I heard a thwack followed by screaming. Then the old man, who can barely speak English, knocked on our door and asked us to phone the police. His wife had physically attacked him and thrown him out of their house. I have to add, he is very frail and can hardly stand, let alone walk. The police arrived to find David and very old man sitting together and naturally assumed David was the villain of the domestic violence. When David explained the old man had been attacked by his wife, the policeman did a total double take. His expression was, ‘Now I’ve seen everything!’
Much to the disappointment of both Smuchie and myself (we were glued to the drama from the door), they didn’t arrest the old lady, just gave her a warning. Language difficulties made it hard to work out what happened. From what we could gather she thought her husband had stolen something. She also thinks David and I are thieves who sneak into her house to steal things. Aah, the joys of neighbours. At least it explains all her filthy stares and curses muttered at us over the years!
Spent the day working on a short story. I’m nearly ready to begin writing draft for The Witches of Paris. Still organizing my notes. The research period for this book seems to have gone on forever, but I can feel the story forming inside me and becoming part of my bones and blood.
Watched a very good film last night, The Brotherhood of the Wolf. David thought it was silly but I loved it. It was the most bizarre mix of 18th Century Pre-Revolutionary France, martial arts, and American Indians, with stunning shots of the French countryside.
This week I had the most beautiful letter from a reader which really touched my heart. Without going into details, she had been going through a rough patch in her life and said my books had helped her. I cannot tell you how much that letter meant to me. It’s an incredible boost to hear from readers who have enjoyed the books, but to hear that your words have made such an impact on another human beings life under stress is a true honour.
Hope you enjoy your Beltane/Samhain celebrations.
18 April 2004
Change – you either thrive on it or you hate it. I’m one of those people who like to hang onto the known. At heart I’m Bilbo Baggins. I enjoy my routine and the familiar. So this last fortnight has been a pretty intense rollercoaster ride for me. After eight years of working for my “day job” I’ve transferred to another company, which is a great French (yay!) company and a promotion for me. However with all this upheaval my writing routine has really suffered, but once I settle in I’ll be able to push myself harder. I can see my characters now when I’m going about my daily business. Courtiers, wolves, witches, ghosts and French salon fairy tale tellers keep me company as I immerse myself in a corporate world.
I’ve also had a dramatic change and dyed my hair dark which I’m very happy with. When I get a more recent photo, I’ll put it on the website so you can have a look.
There is a short interview with me on the Antipodean SF site at http://www.antisf.com/feature.htm.
Finally caught up with the Man Ray exhibition today. It was hellish crowds as the Archibald was also on, but an interesting show. I really liked his nudes and his mannequin photos. Speaking of Man Ray, last night I rewatched one of my favourite videos, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which has definite Man Ray influences. That film is such a beautiful melancholy piece on love and life. I love the casting of the three leads, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin and Daniel Day Lewis. It’s such a powerful film with stunning shots of Prague.
04 April 2004
I finally managed to see The Return of the King this week. I’ve left it for ages because I have a thing about crowded cinemas. I actually preferred the second film, but that’s okay. I still had a huge pain in my chest and was emotional at how beautiful some of the scenes were. I loved Sam, he was the true hero as far as I was concerned.
April Fool’s has come and gone and I played a pretty silly jape on David, but it was nowhere near as silly as the fuckers in England who painted the Rollright Stones with bright yellow gloss paint. It makes me really angry that some moron thinks it’s amusing to deface ancient stones which, apart from their incredible atmosphere, have important lichen samples on them. The cretins painted more than 70 of the stones and the damage is meant to be irreparable.
A few years back I was fortunate enough to stand in the witchy circle and it was an inspiration for Circle of Nine. It really breaks my heart that there are people out there who think that it’s clever or funny to deface ancient stone circles.
I guess I should really try to work up some sympathy for them seeing as they are obviously of very limited intelligence, and beauty of spirit. In my Scorpionic way however, I hope somewhere in their dreaming, they will pay, and pay heavily for the damage they’ve done to the Rollright Stones.
Mr Ian Tonkin, if you’re reading this, I’ve been trying to reply to your email and it keeps bouncing back to me. Could you contact me with an alternate address, or I’ll try to get your snail mail address from S&S. Many thanks.
28 March 2004
As a writer who is not a big name, I never really expect too much from book signings so it was brilliant to get a good reception at the Infinitas bookshop signing on Saturday. Some lovely people made the effort to travel there and I sold a lot of books. I had half-expected to arrive to an empty shop, so it was a nice way to end the week.
The ever-smiling, interesting Lyndy Super Spanger was there to give her much valued support. The only thing that ruined the illusion of the successful writer lolling on a couch at her signing was when I suddenly looked at my watch and yelled, “shit, is that the time. I have to get back to work, my managers will kill me!” Yes folks, the sad truth is I am a working writer and have to spend part of my time working to support my craft. I should really have said I had to leave to go to my publicity shoot on the harbour or something.
I’ve just finished reading Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub and enjoyed it. It’s been ages since I read a book set in this century. It was dark and horrid, but also so funny in places.
Alfie went to the vet this week for his check up and he has a lump. He has to go and have a $600 operation which is a bit of a blow. On the positive side, his heart is in good shape. Every time I look at him I see dollar bills with a tail.
Have been getting up at the crack of dawn to do my research for The Witches of Paris. I’m really ripping through it now. Nearly time to start writing draft. It’s near, I can smell those opening scenes.
For those who may have been concerned, I did manage to track down a CD of Johnny Cash’s with Ring of Fire and I have been bopping to it constantly, driving neighbours mad!
21 March 2004
Why is returning from holidays so hard? I’ve been very flat and depressed since coming back from Port Fairy. It was such a lovely break and the most beautiful little fishing village. I’m a sucker for a lighthouse, historic houses and deserted beaches. The public transport worked and came on time. There was no graffiti, rubbish or syringes everywhere; instead I saw hundreds of birds, wallabies, delicate shells and stars so clear they almost hurt your eyes.
There were also hundreds of old people everywhere, which was a bit strange until we got used to it. It felt as if the town had swallowed all the young people, but we gradually saw a few.
The cottage we stayed in was called Tara – here’s a link http://www.port-fairy.com/taracottage/ if you’re interested. She was as cute as a button and had loads of personality. There is meant to be a ghost in Tara; a visitor had recorded that they saw an old fisherman come in with his catch, grumbling about the poor spoils for the day. On my first night there I was a bit creeped out. It was dark and quiet, but if there were ghosts they could only be friendly.
We spent every sunny day doing nothing, which is a luxury for me. I spent hours collecting shells at the beach and wading in the water. We explored the graveyard (not bad, but seen better). Went out on a boat, as I am quite a sea dog at heart. Ogled the historic houses, working out which one we would buy and agreeing on Talara, a gothic stone mansion which is for sale at over a million dollars. It also has ghosts which are meant to look out the windows. I bought a pair of pinstriped trousers at the op shop and a lovely French print from 1835 at the antique shop. The lady there told me a very sad story connected to the print which had been owned by an elderly Frenchman who had lived in Wagga Wagga. There could be a book in that some day… at least his print went to a good home.
I would really recommend Port Fairy as a holiday destination, especially if you’re sick of Byron Bay. There are loads of interesting walks and beautiful cottage gardens. The peace is unbelievable. If you were going through a lot,
it would be a great place to sort yourself out for a few days.
I also love the Norfolk pines through the town. It reminded me at first of Copenhagen, a bit Nordic, but it really has its own energy and character. A very delicate, pretty energy, despite its earthy sea-fishing grounding side.
Every day we just pottered. David would sit on the beach and play his harmonica to appreciative seagulls, whilst I waded and wrote the first draft of a poem. We saw the mutton birds come into their nests. Stuffed ourselves with fish and chips (I vomited!) I read Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, which I’ve been enjoying and David read The Lamplighter by Anthony O’Neill, another book I’ve been longing to read. On our last walk we said goodbye to all my favourite beaches and houses and a curious little wallaby came and said goodbye.
I was in a very bad mood at having to return. Alfie didn’t improve things by his treacherous action of ignoring us totally and focusing on his carer. Smuchie, who is more dog than Alfie, was very pleased to see us, however. I’ll just have to throw myself back into my writing and try to shake Port Fairy off me.
Just a reminder: I’ll be at Infinitas Bookshop next Saturday. If you’re near, come along and say hi. The details are in the Appearances.
14 March 2004
I’m very excited. Tomorrow we are going away for a short break. As usual, I’ve left everything to the last minute and now I’m frantically sending emails, trying to pack and avoid Alfie’s eyes. He has been giving me “filthies” all day, sensing that we are going on an adventure without him. Even though we have good carers coming to live with him, he’s not a happy chap. I spent most of the day bopping around the house to some ancient records and CDs. I’ve had a Johnny Cash song in my head all day, (Ring of Fire) and do you think I can find it?
At Port Fairy we are going to look for birds, pirates, ghosts and relax. I am loaded up with poetry books, Victorian ghost books and fiction that is based in the 20th century, not 17th century France. I’ll take my notebook, but I’m not planning on writing. However, you never know…
If you write to me this week, I won’t be able to reply until I get back, but then I promise, I will.
I can’t wait to see the stars, and hear the night breathe, to feel sand beneath my feet, and hold the sea in my hands.
I fell into a burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down and the flame… damn. I’m going to have to buy that song.
I’ll tell you all about Port Fairy when I return. Must go and pack.
07 March 2004
Another Magic Casements is over and I think it was a huge success. Irina Dunn from the Writers’ Centre said the turnout for the panel sessions had increased from last year. I would really love for Magic Casements to become a permanent fixture like the Popular Writers’ Festival.
I’m not great at the social chit-chat and always feel a bit shy and awkward in these public events, but I’m getting better. For example, this was the first time I was public speaking when I didn’t dose myself up with Rescue Remedy beforehand.
I sat in on the Future Histories panel where Ian Irvine had graciously taken my place. Although I didn’t agree with the generalisations that were being freely taken about fantasy, it was an interesting panel. Not the least being the audience seemed to spookily know so much about the bloody Roman stirrup, or lack thereof. I was beginning to feel that David and I were the only two people in the room that were ignorant of stirrup development. It was like being in the midst of the Roman army appreciation society! Ian was a very dignified panel member and certainly gave far more than I could have done to that topic.
My panel went smoothly and I had some lovely audience feedback that they appreciated the work I had put into the talk and got a lot from it. As I said, I will be putting the transcript of the talk up on my site soon, so if you missed the books I mentioned you’ll be able to get it then. What can I say about the ever gracious, gorgeous Kate Forsyth? Her eloquence, her passion, her sincerity for the craft and for her fellow writers makes her a total joy to be on a panel with. I admire all mothers who write. Kate, very pregnant at the moment and with two small children plus a heavy workload, has my total respect.
The Artists panel was also very interesting. I feel very much for the artists at the moment with the heavy demand for photoshopped covers lowering their job opportunities. I don’t feel that photoshop can ever replace an artist of flesh and blood and the whole tactile experience of working as a collaborative team. I’ve had very good feedback from folk who love my covers, so there is a demand and appreciation for artists.
The most fun I had all day was judging the Flash Fiction which was a totally new experience for me, both the judging and the FF side of things. I felt powerful sitting up next to Van Ikin and Robert Stephenson determining the winner! From a field of mainly male entrants, it was interesting to see the three standouts were all women. The winner was Susan Wardle with a haunting, elegant short piece called Insomnia which involved a dwarf. Excellent to see what can be achieved in three minutes. However, all the contestants were great to just get up and have a go.
I signed and sold books, talked to some lovely people. One of those lovely people was none other than Lyndy SuperSpanger! Yes, I have met Lyndy in the flesh and she is gorgeous and sweet. What a little darling, and such a surprise because I was sitting right next to her and asked her name. Thank you Lyndy as always for all your support of my work. It’s great when you meet someone you’ve been communicating with for awhile and they turn out to be as nice as they come across on email.
So, if you’re a writer and you’re invited to Magic Casements III, I would urge you to go. If you’re a fan of the genre, please continue to support it next year. Even for introverts like myself, it’s a fun, stimulating day. You don’t have to agree with all the panelist comments to find it stimulating to hear different points of view.
The only thing I thought was missing was a panel on horror and Dark Fantasy, and I would have liked a publishing/marketing panel, so we could have heard their point of view. Hopefully next year.
03 March 2004
For the last ten days I’ve been on a detox for Autumn which was nowhere near as easy as I expected it to be. The first few days which were hell, were mainly fruit and vegetable juices. Not only have I began to resemble a carrot, I was incredibly weary and kept falling asleep when I was trying to research. Thank the goddess it’s over from tonight. Bring on the carbohydrates!
I’ve been getting some good feedback to A Fire in the Shell, thank you to the kind people who have written. Just a reminder, Lyndy has set up a message board for people who like the books to go and discuss them. The link is http://s4.invisionfree.com/Spangerpage
We saw some very interesting, funny films at the Art Gallery on Sunday. One in particular by Dali and Bunuel was a classic: L’Age d’ Or. The Surrealists can be so childish, with dogs being kicked, bugs being squashed, popes thrown out of windows, but it was hysterical in places.
If you live in Sydney and like theatre, I would also recommend the Jackie Weaver play The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. She is an amazing actress.
A reminder that if you would like a signed bookplate, just contact me and I’ll send you one out in the next post.
Hope to catch up with some of you at Magic Casements II on Saturday. For those who can’t make it, I’ll post a report.
Wasn’t it wonderful that fantasy was so acknowledged at the Academy Awards? I loved Peter Jackson’s speech when he thanked the academy for looking past the trolls and elves and recognising what the movie is really about.
Belle of the night had to be Mr Johnny Depp in his Armani tux. The women all looked boring and the same. They honestly look a bit cloned in Hollywood – tall, thin, blonde, plucked and waxed. Also, why is it the women always come across as irritating blubbering messes in their acceptance speeches, whilst the men like Sean Penn maintain some dignity and humility?
20 February 2004
My book is in the shop! This was a very big surprise as I discovered it while walking through a city bookstore today. I haven’t even seen an advance copy yet, and so to suddenly come across my book when I wasn’t expecting it was the strangest feeling. Like catching your Grandmother naked.
I felt like picking it up and screaming to the store,”I wrote this! This is mine!” Except, of course I had to restrain myself and pick it up as casually as if it was any other book, and not my darling, new and exposed to the cruel world. Very coolly I flicked through a few pages, dreading to see a dedication spelt wrong, an acknowledgment unacknowledged. But so far, it seems perfect. My only regret is I didn’t buy it so I could examine it all weekend. Hopefully my advance copies will arrive next week.
There has been a slight change to the Magic Casements II programme. Ian Irvine has graciously agreed to stand in for me on the Future Histories panel. I’m not a futuristic writer and my source of inspiration and interest is in the past. I think Ian will be great on that panel. However, I’m definitely still on in the afternoon with Kate Forsyth and Robert Stephenson. Hope to see you there. Fingers crossed, my new book will be at the festival.
I’ll be signing a few books at Infinitas bookshop in Parramatta on March 27. More details in the Appearances section.
Must go and walk Alfie. He’s panting to get out. Then I’ll do some more French, which I’ve been studying as part of my prepatory work for my new book. I’m pathetically bad at languages, but determined to master it!
If you live in Sydney, hasn’t the public transport been unbelievably awful? David has been walking home from work which takes an hour or so from the city, but is still quicker than training it.
We were walking home together last night and some girl got molested by a guy who has been stalking her. She ended up running after us screaming, in tears and we had to walk her part of the way home. It was a curious incident.
Last week we saw Sylvia, the movie about Sylvia Plath.
It was beautiful, but so sad that she lost herself to him so much and not to the words more. He wasn’t a muse surely, she produced more when he left her and she didn’t have to worry about him all the time. What a waste. I remember about two hundred years ago when I was studying acting,
I chose to perform her poems. She is a dangerous writer.
The horror news of the week has to be the cancellation of Angel. Why they’ve taken this incredible show off is beyond human understanding. Does that leave us with only vacuous reality and lifestyle ‘improvement’ shows? I cannot bear the thought.
I’m so happy. My darling is out.
09 February 2004
There was a fascinating article in the Sydney Morning Herald recently on Aboriginal lore and the weather. An Aboriginal woman employed at the Mount Annan Botanical Gardens is a knowledge holder about weather and time. Her mother was from the D’harawal tribe. According to local Aboriginal lore, the weather is now in a dangerous collision. Any rain that will come will only be a result of storms. The hot dry season of the small annual cycle is matching up with the hot, dry season of the 12 year “Life” cycle and even worse, these are matching up with the hot, dry season of the longer 10,000 year “Dreaming” cycle.
The article went on to say that the concept of four seasons from the northern hemisphere doesn’t fit the Sydney experience at all. The original people of Sydney had a different way of viewing seasonal change. They saw six seasons in a cycle based on blossoming of plants and behaviour of insects and animals.
The article also describes rituals that would be celebrated. For example, the D’harawal calendar year begins with the flowering of waratah. The new year is celebrated with ceremonies and a drink made from its nectar.
That makes planning for seasonal rituals even more confusing when you’re in Australia. I hope that a lot of the old traditional ways are maintained and we don’t lose them totally.
Speaking of weather, I’m loathing it at the moment. The humidity of Sydney is turning me to slush. Where is the rain? Not these brief, violent storms, but days of concentrated rain to break this heat spell. Looks like the D’harawal tribe are spot on.
Counting the days now to see A Fire in the Shell. She’s nearly here. We have a special bottle of wine waiting to christen her.
Hope your harvest will be plentiful, wishing you all patience whilst your dreams manifest.
Big public thanks to Rhondda for the new website. You’re a genius Rhondda! FurryPurry is this talented girl’s new company, so if you need a website designed, give Rhondda a yell.
There are loads of new things for you to enjoy. Interviews, articles, a tribute site to Brownie plus a preview of the cover and synopsis of A Fire in the Shell in the Books section.
I’ve been so busy researching; spent a fortune on books on Amazon today. Books! How we are ever going to cram more books into this house I don’t know! We are surrounded by mountains of books now.
Keep writing, creating. Never give up. Never lose hope.
Here’s a little tune we can hum for Lammas:
Corn rigs, an’ barley rigs,
An’ corn rigs are bonnie;
I’ll ne’er forget that happy night,
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie
– It Was Upon a Lammas Night, Robert Burns
19 January 2004
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were – I have not seen
As others saw – I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov’d, I lov’d alone.
– From Alone by Edgar Allan Poe. Happy Birthday Mr Poe!
Been very busy researching for my historical supernatural. So far I’ve filled four notebooks, developed severe eye strain AGAIN, and have an ominous pain in my left arm from writing. Today was a breakthrough when I sat down to plot and it came pouring out in a coherent fashion. Now, I’ll go back and re-work the plot, make it more detailed. Then I’ll start writing and change the entire thing.
Saw Peter Pan at the cinema. I really enjoyed it, especially the scene where everybody was crying, “I do believe in fairies, I do! I do!” I had to restrain myself from jumping up in the middle of Hoyts and yelling along. Bit of a shame about Pan’s American accent however. I dragged David along to it, and he came out of it with a couple of very good short story ideas influenced by the film. So no experience is ever wasted. But my favourite film so far this year has to be Master and Commander. I loved that film so much and I thought Russell Crowe was superb. It was a brilliant piece of art from Peter Weir. I also saw Lost in Translation which was also great – Sofia Coppola is one of my favourite directors. Like Peter Weir, she brings such style to her work.
We are planning a short break away in the next couple of months. We’re renting a historic cottage at Port Fairy in Victoria and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this. I’m going to take a swag of books, look for shipwrecks, pretend I’m a pirate (I’m a really bad egg, yo ho!), bird-watch and just relax.
Well, it’s nearly the witching hour and I have to be up early tomorrow. Hope your muses are visiting you.