24 December 2005
Happy Yule to all. Hope the Solstice brought new energy and healing to your lives. The last couple of weeks have been a total blur of celebrations, preparing for Christmas and wrapping up the year.
One highlight was seeing the Sydney Ballet Company at the Opera House, performing Sleeping Beauty. So magical.
I am incredibly frustrated at the moment because I haven’t been able to write for a couple of weeks. I get very ratty when I can’t write for more than a couple of days. The madness of this time of year has well and truly taken over. I’m exhausted, weeping over everything. I read the papers and I sit and cry. I describe a story to David and I’m crying before I finish it. My own tears are annoying me. I’ve been fleshing my book out in my head but I’m longing to have the space and the time to merge with it fully. Longing for it.
David had some unexpected good news right at the end of the year. He has sold a book to New Holland Publishers about escaped convicts and so we’ll be celebrating that when we get a chance.
I’m flying to Tasmania next week to visit my sick grandmother. I’ll take my research books down and keep the story moving in my mind.
I’ve updated my photo section if you’re interested in having a look at our Sassy night.
May this special season bring you new light, new joy and creativity. May she touch your life and give you strength to deal with the trivial. May this year be the year you follow your bliss.
Happy Yule. Happy New Year.
Catherine, who vanished into the night like a character from a fairy tale, please get in touch with us if you’re reading this. We want you back in our lives. We long for you to come home to us. Life is far too precious to not reconcile.
06 December 2005
On Saturday 03 December 1894, Robert Louis Stevenson died.
Here he lies where he longed to be.
Home is the sailor, home from sea.
And the hunter home from the hill
– from Requiem by RLS
Melbourne was fun. I came third for my story Butterfly Crusher – not the shoe alas, but I was very glad I went as I was the only interstate person present to collect their prize. Seeing as the majority of the awards were won by interstate writers, it made for a very speedy ceremony.
Leigh Redhead the crime writer/stripper was a bonzer mistress of ceremonies. A very sassy lady. It’s always great to catch up with my Sisters in Crime. l’ll post some pics soon.
I was most amused to learn that my other story entered earned the wrath of one of the judges, who said that whoever wrote it had severe mental problems and should seek help !!! This judge went on to say that if it was based in any way on my own life (!!!) then I should see a psychiatrist! I admit it was the darkest story I’ve ever written, but it was based on a couple of true stories from the papers.
It’s funny how people can’t seem to separate the writer from the material. The judges are trying to talk me into writing a comedic piece for next year, as police procedural, comedy and verse are the categories I haven’t won. They said my writing was just too dark and gruelling. But I cannot write the chick crime lit or chick dick lit, or whatever the hell those things are. Murder to me is intense and has ripple effects and it’s the ripples that I’m interested in. I’m a true Scorpion when it comes to crime writing.
I had to be up at 3.30am to fly back to Sydney for the Sassy Seminar, which is my agent’s annual motivational day and night for her stable of writers. I was babysitting for the day, although Daisy did make a guest appearance at lunchtime along with Selwa’s granddaughter, Charli.
That night at the Sassy Awards I was overjoyed that David won a Sassy for being a “Quiet Achiever”. It was really well deserved as he has worked so hard, not only on his own writing, but on the books he edited and co-wrote for Brian Walpole and Ron Stevenson. Just that week I had thanked him for taking so much time off his own work to read through Witches of Paris and give his comments, so it was really lovely to see Selwa publicly give him a pat on the back. As I have said many times, I couldn’t write without David’s support and energy.
Everybody looked very glam for the awards. I wore a black vintage dress with a tiara from the Medieval Babes in the UK. It’s a gorgeous thing with red pressed flowers in it. I’ll keep it for Daisy to wear and I’ll wear it on special writing days. There were all the usual celebs that Selwa’s agency attracts and writers whom I don’t get to see a lot of, but it’s always brilliant to catch up. This year I made a new friend, who has written a book on Intuitive Parenting. Daisy just fell in love with her and that’s how we started talking! I’ll post some pics of the Sassy do when I get a chance.
Apart from that, I’m plodding on with the book. I’m up to the fairy tales segment still. I’m enjoying writing nasty fairy stories.
It’s been a slow process this week as there have been a few upsets. My much beloved grandmother is very sick in hospital and Austin Steele (David’s colleague from his television production days) died this week. Austin wrote and produced comedy in the 60s and 70s, including a lot of scripts for Dave Allen. A far from complete list of his credits is on this BBC Comedy website. We will miss Austin’s Christmas card. He had a wonderful tradition of recycling cards by adding his name to a card he received and sending it on to someone else! I also loved his tradition of reading The Wind in the Willows every Christmas. A brilliantly funny, fascinating man.
Wren, the founder of the Witches Voice site, lost her beautiful daughter to brain cancer. Then of course, Van Nguyen was hanged in Singapore. What can you say? It was deeply sad. I found it impossible to concentrate that day.
I still remember my depression over the Barlow and Chambers execution. It’s the mother’s pain I cannot bear.
It was just a sad, senseless, heavy week.
20 November 2005
Today is declared National Needles day. Or Pain Monday. I had a visit to my lovely dentist and had a cavity so he had to drill. To cheer myself up I went and got another tattoo done.
It’s a girly one – a daisy (of course) with her birth date swirling around it. David designed it. I’m pretty happy with it but I had forgotten how much those things hurt. Still, a good pain. I quite enjoy the pain of flesh being cut for a ritual marking. I don’t enjoy a drill in the mouth.
I already know the tattoo I’m going to get when The Witches of Paris gets picked up. I hope when I’m 100 I’ll still treat myself to the occasional tattoo.
18 November 2005
Happy Belated Birthday to Mr Robert Louis Stevenson. What a gorgeous man: writer, explorer and kindred spirit.
Yesterday I sent sample chapters from The Witches of Paris to my agent. It was thrilling when I dropped the manila folder into the postbox. I was far more excited than normal – you’d think I was posting a finished MS to her.
I spent the remainder of the day alternating between two vivid fantasies.
# In the first one she rings up screaming, “It’s gone to auction! Prepare for blast off!”
# In the alternate version she hisses, ‘Are you serious, Pennicott? I wouldn’t let my cat piss on that!”
Both scenarios seem equally real.
I cannot bear it that the Japanese are going into our waters to kill whales. They’ve upped their target slaughter to 900-plus. This includes 10 of the highly endangered Fin whales.
Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew seem to be the only people on earth prepared to do something about it. What are Greenpeace doing apart from petitions and fact sheets on their website? I salute the Captain and his work. Go Paul Watson and ram those boats! May the gods and goddess sail with you! If you’re in Melbourne, you can even welcome his ship ‘Farley Mowat’ into harbour. Shame on Hobart for allowing the Japanese ships to dock and refuel so they can continue their killing spree. The Japanese are not only violating the International Whaling Commission moratorium on whaling, they are violating Australian laws protecting the whale sanctuary within Australian Antarctic territorial waters.
On the Sea Shepherd website they have sample letters you can use to write to the Australian and Japanese governments. I urge the people reading who care about the whales to write and also donate to Sea Shepherd. Captain Watson has stated their objective in the ‘Farley Mowat’ is to harass, block, and intervene the Japanese whalers. I wish I could go to sea with them and hunt down the killing ships.
I spent all week writing two grisly fairy stories that are part of my book – a much harder task than it might seem.
12 November 2005
Hope your All Hallows Eve was rich in beauty, darkness and you connected to your dead. I love Mischief Night. Due to baby exhaustion I did a very simple meditation, reflecting on my dead ancestors and friends. Simple’s often best and I was very surprised by who did pop up in my visions that night.
It’s such a sweet, melancholy time of year and my thoughts always turn to Boscastle in Cornwall where we celebrated one of our more memorable All Hallows. I can see the white stone cottages against the dramatic Cornish sea and the lit pumpkins in the tiny cottages. What a lush memory.
Good news. I have made the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto shortlist for the sixth year. I’m very proud to shortlist again as they had over 100 entries, all anonymous, with different judges every year.
The book David edited for the late Ron Stephenson is on the shelf. Called Murder Of A Hero, it’s about the police investigation of the killing of Victor Chang, the famous Sydney heart surgeon.
I went out with the Drinklings writers group recently. Kate Forsyth found a very cool cafe in Oxford Street (Sydney) called ‘Gertrude and Alice’. We were in a basement filled with secondhand books and candles. It was like a scene from Dead Poets Society. It was great to catch up with folk like Kate, Cat Sparks and Richard & Aileen Harland.
A reminder to me recently to take everything I read in the media with a crater of salt. The very talented Caroline Tully who writes so profoundly on the Craft was shockingly misinterpreted in a newspaper interview. Anybody familiar with Caroline’s writings would know how perceptive she is and how well researched her pieces are. The article was heavily edited and sounded nothing like her.
A frustrating couple of weeks with The Witches of Paris. I’m getting a segment of the book ready for my agent to look over and spent a week researching Versailles, checking dates of rooms built, when and where statues were placed etc. A pagan inspired book set in modern Sydney would have been easier, but I firmly believe you have to write the book you’re obsessed with. Otherwise you become a hack.
Saw an interesting discussion on a writing message board about labels and the perception of horror and genre writers. All labels, whether to do with spirituality, or creativity make me uncomfortable. Because I write in a variety of areas, I hate to be pinned down to a label. I think it becomes harder to hear, follow and obey the muse if you feel hemmed in by your own boundaries. Stephen King says in Bare Bones how he doesn’t believe anybody can write just one type of fiction all the time and when you live in your imagination constantly, it can take you anywhere. I want to go everywhere!
Creativity to me is fluid and filled with shadows, not black and white. My current project would fit crime, supernatural or historical labels. How do you harness and name the force that drives and inspires our imaginations? I know publishers and marketing people need to, so they can get books placed in bookstores. But in a perfect world, it would be nice if I could simply call myself a writer and be done with the little tags.
18 October 2005
October is my fave month of the year. Not only do Smuchie and I share a birthday, it’s also nearing the night of All Hallows; Mischief night.
I’ve been involved in the Fourteen Days Of Halloween, a California-based writing project. They’ve recorded several Australian horror and dark fantasy writers reading from their work (via phone) and they’re broadcasting one writer a day leading up to Halloween.
The following link below takes you to the programme at The Writing Show website. I’m reading third, so my piece is scheduled for Thursday October 20, Californian time (a day behind Australian time).
I’m pretty flat out at the moment editing the first chapters of TWOP, making it as tight as I possibly can before my agent sees it.
7th October 2005
Finished the battle scene finally!! Yes, oh yes! Actually it’s rough and I still have to put in town and river names, but it is down. I have a battle scene. As usually happens with me, there was a death I wasn’t expecting. Bit sad about that character actually, as I thought they were going to be useful later on.
Gorgeous rainy, windy Saturday in Sydney. Would love to work on WOP, but have to meet a girlfriend to go house hunting. She’s the best, so I don’t mind and it will be great to have her near me.
I’m doing my big sex scene at the moment which is fun, but proving a challenge. Normally I find s.s easy, but a steamy scene against the court of Versailles has its own challenge, if you don’t want it to sound like an Angelique book: bosoms heaving beneath the bodice whilst the randy King perves type of thing. My book is starting to come together more, and I can see it really isn’t about some of the things I thought it was about.
Time for a gush – Kate Bush has her new double CD album Aerial, out in November and I can’t wait. I still remember the first time I saw her dancing Wuthering Heights in her red dress on the moors, looking so fey, witchy and beautiful. The CDs are called A Sky of Honey and A Sea of Honey. As much as I like Tori Amos, I could never hear her without feeling a melancholy longing for my first love, Kate. Now she’s back. The Observer describes it as ‘vintage Bush. A melodic, organic sprawl of wind, sea, seasons, time passing, dreams, secrecy and revelation. She’s still seething with strangeness and brilliance.’
Can’t wait for that one. I love the fact she loves her son Bertie so much that she used his drawing for the cover. And the quote from the Observer: that since becoming a mother, nothing much has changed in Kate’s world, except everything. Can really relate to that one.
30th September 2005
I’m roughly halfway through the battle scene. Had to take a few days off this week to look at my timeline again, which looks as if I’ve done the entire history of France. This chapter, this entire book is a big stretch for me as a writer but I think it’s important I challenge myself with each work.
This week I listened to an audio interview with Anne Rice where she said every book she wrote was different, but it was the book she had to tell at the time, even if her legion of fans didn’t want that book. It would have been so easy for me to have done another pagan inspired Circle of Nine series. But I can only listen for the Muse and obey. If I don’t do that, every word is a hollow word.
Speaking of Anne Rice and the horrible events in New Orleans, on her website there is the address of a Catholic priest she is involved with if you care to donate money for the New Orleans Relief Appeal.
Last Saturday I did a reading from A Fire in the Shell to an American writers’ website via phone. It was organised through the Australian Horror Writers Association. Several Australian writers did ten-minute readings, which will be broadcast leading up to Halloween.
I’ll post when I have more information closer to the time. I read the scene where my dead child Rachel is hovering over the members of Light Vision, longing for incarnation. Charmonzhla, the angoli, is attempting to keep her in the realm of the dead. This piece was chosen because although there were a lot more graphic pieces in my work, I like the dialogue between the pair. I also wrote it prior to conceiving my daughter, so it makes it more special for me.
Back to the battle scene. I’ve actually, believe it or not, finally reached the battle.
2nd September 2005
The sodding battle scene I’m working on is taking forever. From the earliest planning stages of this book, I knew I wanted a battle scene. I had my heart set on trenches, cannonballs, drummers and bloody war. It’s actually quite difficult to write historical battles – all the checking and cross-checking can really disrupt the flow. I’ve been researching for a month now on one short chapter. I have filled an entire thick notebook full of facts which I will never use, but at the time seemed endlessly fascinating. In 17th Century France you could be literally pulled out of your bed and sent to war if needed. There’s something incredibly fascinating about reading journal accounts of combat in a time that didn’t involve pushing a button or walking into a crowded area with a bomb strapped to you. I really, really, really want to do this scene, but I’m finding it so hard. I have the opening for it now. I can see the scene and I have the taste of the battle in my mouth, but I’m so held back by dates, by research, by facts. How I hate facts when my imagination just wants to go wild. Once I get through this block, I know the book is more under control. I always knew this chapter would be the challenge. I should be writing it now, instead of talking about writing it.
Also I sent my two entries off for Scarlet Stiletto. I ended up doing three stories this year and had to hold one back. I had written my two, and then I began to get the idea for a third including the opening words, so I had to write it. It came out quickly, a nice strapping 5000 word story and the words were dictated. That’s always a gift when it happens.
Hope it happens with the battle scene.
I’ve lit a candle and I’m praying for the mothers and fathers of Beslan. Hard to believe it’s been a year. Evil cannot expel with a more ferocious breath than it did at Beslan.
17 July 2005
‘WHERE’S THE REST OF ME?’
– Ronald Reagan, King’s Row
This has to be one of the most horrible lines I’ve heard in a film. We saw King’s Row on a wet, cold Sunday afternoon; it’s a really great rainy day film. Ronald Reagan is pretty good, and it’s quite a surreal movie for its day (1942). Think black-and-white Blue Velvet. The scene where Ronald utters this line is pure horror. I don’t want to say any more in case I ruin it for anyone. Apparently Reagan’s autobiography (written before he was US president) was called “Where’s the Rest of Me?”
Hurrah! I’m beginning to find more time to write. I can’t tell you how brilliant it feels. I’m now 50,000 words in The Witches of Paris, plus I’ve done heaps of editing. I’ve also written two short crime stories. This is my annual attempt at winning a second shoe with the Sisters in Crime. I really enjoy the challenge each year of coming up with stories that don’t cover themes I’ve already done, and that the judges can’t pick as mine! The Scarlet Stiletto Award has been very good to me. Since I’ve been entering, I’ve won First Prize, Second Prize, A Highly Commended and two Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic Awards. If I win another shoe, I am no longer eligible to enter. I’m sure all my Sisters are praying I hurry up and bloody win it so they can see the back of me! It does get harder every year to write the short stories as I go through a lot of themes that are important to me. I also really try to write from a space of true passion, rather than it being just a calculated exercise in attempting the shoe again. But how I would love a pair of shoes! (The trophy is a red stiletto shoe with a dagger in it). I love writing crime; The Witches of Paris has a crime thread running through it.
The news is so, so, depressing with the recent bombings in London. I love London, and have stayed in the area where one of the bombs was detonated. I feel so much for the innocent people going about their business who got caught up in the actions of these subhuman morons. And what’s with Japan wanting to kill and eat critically endangered whale species? On Friday morning David interviewed Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Since I first saw a documentary on this courageous ‘good pirate’ of the sea, I’ve been fascinated by his life and work. He was a founder of Greenpeace, but left them because he was dissatisfied with their ‘Avon Lady techniques’. Captain Watson is a true pirate of the ocean and has literally sunk many whaling ships. They are making a movie about his life at the moment with Christian Bale tipped to play him. If you want to learn more about this incredible guy I’ve linked to his website.
David also interviewed Tania Zaetta, the Australian actress/TV presenter who has now become a huge Bollywood star in India. She reminded David of moi, as her impressions of India were exactly mine (the women are beautiful, the spirituality, the craziness of it all etc…) She’s also Scorpio, like me. She wouldn’t have reminded him of me in appearance. She’s a doe-eyed beauty with very long legs. I’ve still got a stone to lose in weight after giving birth. I’m beginning to think it’s a myth that breastfeeding helps you to lose the weight. The boob nazis have spread this lie; despite 90-minute walks with screaming baby in pram, the weight is still not shifting!
We went to Tasmania for a week to introduce Daisy to her Tasmanian relatives. We travelled by the Spirit of Tasmania ship which was beautiful. It was like stepping back in time to a more refined, less hectic world, and made us long to do a cruise. David wants to go to Antarctica, but I want to do some tropical islands. I felt as if we were in an Agatha Christie novel.
Speaking of Agatha, since my school days when I discovered Ms Christie and the world of crime writing, I’ve been a fan of the English women crime writers. If you want to read a haunting, brilliantly written book with a dark tale that will rip you to pieces, you can’t go past Tokyo by Mo Hayder. It is one of those books you cannot put down and I sobbed for ages after reading it. Mind you, I cry when I read Greyfriars Bobby, so I am a big softie.
I’ll try to find time very soon to put some new photos up.
16 May 2005
Slowly, slowly, the world I’ve created progresses. The characters of The Witches of Paris are becoming more real, forming themselves. In my mind I see them, standing impatiently at a court ball, stalking the great wolf on a hunt; their desires, greed and nightmares trapping them to my mind. The spider and the web. In urgent cries they utter their next line. I see their expression, smell the fragrance they wear, the texture of their clothes, their hands resting on mine as they attempt to pull me to the computer. We dance a slow tango, each needing the other to complete the work, to tell the tale. But, alas! My world is on the pause button for great stretches of time whilst I tend to my other creation. A crying child has to be placated and put to sleep, nappies have to be changed. With one loud, lusty cry from my baby daughter, my characters can slip through my mind like mist.
I’m constantly frustrated by not being able to work on this canvas when I want to. My world seems so near, so far. Thank the goddess for imagination. When I hold my baby in my arms, heart to heart, skin to skin. My characters come tiptoeing, whispering their story…
On my writer’s messageboard this week we were discussing the topic of why we write. I thought I would share my reply:
I write because it’s easier and more portable than painting. It’s not like drama, you can do it on your own. It’s my little handprint on the cave wall of humanity. In the future, there will always be a book of mine in the Fisher library, or floating around in someone’s attic or a secondhand book shop. It’s my way of expressing: I was here. I thought. Dreamt. Felt. Feared. This is my print. Perhaps not outstanding, perhaps easily overlooked. But it’s there.
I was here.
01 April 2005
As I mentioned in my previous post, my waters broke a fortnight early, exactly one hour after I had left work on Mardi Gras night. I had been looking forward to a fortnight off to rest and try to get 50,000 words up on The Witches of Paris. But suddenly, there I was: a very pregnant, panicking woman, surrounded by lesbians and gays all dressed to party.
I was kept in RPA Hospital overnight and when I didn’t labour, they sent me home to wait. And wait. And wait. After three days, doctors were saying the risk to the baby was increasing and they wanted to induce. I was really upset because an inducement means a lot more painful labour and when I bought this up, they said most women asked for the epidural early on so not to worry. There went my natural birth plan of a water birth, with minimal pain relief.
One of the most awful moments was when we were waiting at labour ward and we heard the most ghastly screaming from some woman and we just looked at each other. Oh Jesus, I was so terrified. I had three midwives looking after me that day, and they were all brilliant.
I was applying my make-up at one stage when one came in and said, “Have you started contractions yet?” They have you on a drip to induce contractions. I replied, “Yes, I think so.” She laughed and said, “I don’t think so, darling.” The next time she entered I was mooing like a cow and she knew I had hit them. I endured seven hours of the contractions. The mooing was fascinating; the midwives said mooing is the best because it helps to push the baby whereas screaming just wastes energy. I can proudly say I never screamed, my make-up stayed on and I refrained from crying out to my mother (just).
David talked me through every contraction. He refused to rest and the midwives all loved him. Finally Enid Midwife said “This is ridiculous. My advice from someone who has had five children, two of which were inducements, is get an epidural and bypass the gas and pethidine.” I couldn’t wait. When the youthful looking Asian girl entered the room I proposed marriage to her and I was serious. That epidural entering my spine was like heaven.
It was horrible having the inducement. I wasn’t allowed to get into the bath. I had to have a catheter. All those tedious pre-natal classes where I had practised standing and squatting positions and suddenly I was confined to bed to deliver.
I still didn’t go into labour enough, despite them putting the drip up. My body just wasn’t ready to deliver. They started talking about doing a caesar which really broke my heart. Luckily Dr Antonia was called, and she said, “No, leave her awhile.”
The last bit was the worst. I hated everybody on earth who hadn’t warned me how bad the last bit when you have to push the baby out was. It was like a bulldozer was driving out of my anus. I know that’s gross, but it’s true!
A tiny part of me was thinking, I can use this for scenes for my book. But I have to admit it was a very tiny part. All I really wanted to do was die. At one stage I saw myself, one leg held up by David, one by Belinda Midwife, pulled apart like a wishbone whilst they tried to encourage me to push. Blood everywhere, me mooing like a whole herd of bulls and I thought what the hell happened to my natural nice birth plan? After two hours of pushing, I gave up. I said they were trying to kill me, I didn’t care and I was going to sleep. They sent for the Head Sister who started playing tough cop, telling me I was a naughty girl, didn’t I want to see my baby?
“No,” was my answer. ” I don’t care if I don’t.” Then I got crafty. In between the contractions I said if they gave me another epidural, I would have a caesar. Even better, if they helped me to stand up I would push her out. My plan was to make a bolt for the door.
Finally they called another doctor to vacuum her out. My poor mind at this time was totally shattered. I thought the baby had died inside me, because I refused to push. Everybody seemed so angry and serious and her heartbeat had stopped on the monitor. Then a whole team of crash trolleys entered the room and started setting up. I was trying to figure out whether I would be sued when a great gush came out of me. I believed my insides had fallen out. The staff threw something at me. It was dark and cold and had no movement. Everybody was yelling, “It’s your baby!” I was yelling “Baby! Baby!” But I really didn’t have a clue, I just thought they had thrown a dead baby on me. I looked over and David had become a doctor, he was cutting the cord of a baby and posing for photos with RPA staff.
Everybody said that when the baby is put on you, you forget the pain. When Daisy was bought back to me, I thought how pretty she was, and then I started asking for pain relief.
Enid Midwife had said to stop trying to control the birth, to let the birth control me, nobody controls birth and to go with the flow and take what happens whether it was a caesar or whatever…
David tells me my memories of that last stage are a bit distorted, and I was a lot calmer and more in control than I believed and he’s never seen me crack more jokes and be so calm even when I was mooing.
I know how very deeply Daisy has entered our hearts and not only ours, everybody around us. She must have a spirit that affects people. I’ve had friends who ring up crying about how they can’t stop thinking about her. The staff at RPA would come and get her all the time to give report and take her around the ward to show everybody. Patients came from other wards to see the beautiful little baby they were talking about.
I was quite an unmaternal girl. One of my friends said, “Jo, I thought you might be a shit mother, I was so worried.” It was an enormous shock to me how intensely I love her. I can spend hours crying, mourning the fact she’s not still inside me. The French have this great saying about the days after birth:”After birth everything comes out, milk, blood, tears. Let it flow.”
Breastfeeding her is an immense privilege – even if she does suck like a little vampire. She has bought such joy and fulfillment to my soul. She has inherited David’s mouth, eyes, hair. She has my nose.
I was talking to a midwife about how I hated everbody who hadn’t told me the truth about the final stage. She said the reason they hadn’t is they had forgotten. They can recall it was painful, but it’s a romantic, hazy pain. I said to David that I was glad I hadn’t had the caesar and I had experienced such a primal battle state of being. He said, “Don’t you see you’re already romanticising it?”
Mother Nature is a bitch.
I did send photos and card out to my mailing list. If you’re on the list and didn’t get one, you may have changed address, as I had a few that bounced. If you want one, give me a holler.
Here’s a link, anyway.
08 March 2005
We don’t have to follow the politicians, we can take over the world! Yeah! Let’s drive to the desert. Pick up some pretty chicks, take all our clothes off. Smoke some peyote man and Ride The Snake!!
Okay, we went to the Doors concert and I’ve been driving everyone mad since, telling total strangers to ride the snake. I loved the show and thought Ian Astbury was superbrilliant. He has great stage charisma and echoes my own sentiments totally that the pop and rock stars of today don’t have anything in their trousers.
We also had a good night at a Lebanese restaurant with the Drinklings in honour of Sean Williams coming to town.
Big news. Tomorrow I go into hospital to be induced for Daisy. My water broke in King Street on Mardi Gras night one hour after I left work. There I was surrounded by half-naked revellers – a pregnant woman, waters bursting, hands up in the air panicking. It’s a scene I should be able to use for my writing one day.
I should have expected it, as everybody said expect the unexpected. But I never dreamt that Daisy would arrive early. I still haven’t gone into labour, despite trying everything to bring her on and so tomorrow I have to be induced. There goes my lovely natural birthplan. There goes my fortnight’s break to get up to 50,000 words on The Witches of Paris before she arrived.
Amazing, but true – she is being born on David’s birthday. They are both Pisces and she will also share our numerology sign 9. I’ll post a photo of her on the web, and if you’re on my mailing list, I’ll email one to you.
Until my next post sweet children of the twilight, stay hard, be cool and hold fast to your dreams…
11 February 2005
David’s had some pretty exciting interviews lately for magazines. Last Thursday he interviewed Suzi Quatro by phone in London. Then on Saturday Robby Krieger from The Doors phoned him to be interviewed prior to their big concert. David and I are both big old Doors fans, so it was a buzz to have a Door phoning our house.
Robby wrote some of the Doors’ biggest hits – Light My Fire, Touch Me, Love Her Madly, Love Me Two Times. David said he was a really cool guy to talk to, very friendly and happy to share stories about Jim Morrison. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in concert when they get to Sydney.
Working on Chapter Six of Witches of Paris; wrote an abortion scene which I had been dreading, but it was a lot easier to get into than I thought it would be, seeing as I’m now 33 weeks pregnant.
One thing that did get to me recently was seeing a crime scene photo of the actress Sharon Tate, who was butchered by the Manson gang on a killing rampage. She had been two weeks away from giving birth. I’ve read a lot about Manson and his gang of killers over the years, but I’ve never seen a crime scene photo before. Susan Atkins, one of the worst killers, is up for parole on 1 June 2005. If you feel to write to the parole board to urge them not to release her, the address is:
Board of Prison Terms
Ms. Margarita E. Perez, Chairperson
1515 K Street, Suite 600
Sacramento, CA 95814
You also need to quote her full name (Susan Atkins-Whitehouse) and her prisoner ID (W08304). Don’t delay if you intend writing because submissions won’t be read at the last minute.
Most of the Manson murderers became born-again Christians after they were arrested and are now virtual celebrities in the USA. I’m a believer of an eye for an eye and I find it hard to fathom the entire concept of a Christian forgiveness. They can all rot in jail as far as I’m concerned.
After I had accidentally seen the photo of a very pregnant slain Sharon, I was upset for days and I finally forced myself to look at it again. I’m glad that I was morbid enough to do so, because I could see that her poor body was really a shell and she had gone. I had that experience many times when I was nursing. Recently I was talking to a woman who works in the Forensic Department of the Police Force, dealing with firearms. She goes to murders a lot and I asked her how she coped with seeing young children murdered. She said they don’t seem like bodies to her, they’re the shells and what was there is gone. To her it was far worse to cope with the grieving families.
Call me an unforgiving Scorpio, but any small thing I can do to keep the killer Susan Atkins inside, I’ll do. Let her study her Bible within prison walls, this woman who can ignore a pregnant woman’s desperate pleas to stay alive – at least long enough to deliver her baby – and laugh at her and taunt her as she kills her in cold blood. A bitch like that does not deserve a second chance. I despise the people who are attracted to the feeble creep Manson and his cult. That includes musicians like Marilyn Manson and the local Sydney bands who call themselves after him and his ‘family’.
Had the most brilliant time in Brisbane at the Aurealis Awards. I hadn’t been to Brisbane for quite a few years and it was so different to how I remembered it. The amount of goths and punks – I now know where all the goths have disappeared to from inner city Sydney! With its mangroves along the rivers, paddle boat steamers and large mansions,
I thought it was a lot like New Orleans. David, who has been to New Orleans, said it was nothing like it.
The Award ceremony was impressive. A very glam affair, with everybody taking it seriously which was nice to see. My book didn’t win – Mr Harland scooped all the awards on the night. I had predicted to him that this year would be the Year of the Harland and I was proved right. I was nearly beside myself with excitement for him. Sean Williams, accepting his award for Best Fantasy Novel, gave a very nice speech on the sense of community and how important it is for SF writers. Ditto to that.
The following day I went to the Ellen Datlow seminar. This is like an informal talk between writers and important folk in publishing which is apparently common in the States. The whole session was great, very inspiring and helpful. In the afternoon David and I went to a massive book sale of secondhand books, which is for us like going to heaven. You never know what gems are going to turn up. I had a strange dream where Daisy poked a little nail out of my stomach. I read her an Emily Bronte poem before I went to bed and she kicked. Hopefully that meant she liked it, and not begging me to stop.
On our last day, we went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was peaceful. We did all the touristy stuff, like feed the kangaroos by hand and have our photo taken with a koala named David! There were photos in the Hall of Fame Gallery of Marilyn Manson and the Pope with a koala (not together!), so we were in exalted company.
Last night I had another creepy type dream which involved two ghosts in a Victorian style mansion. One was a nursemaid, and one was a little girl. I was pregnant in the mansion, and the ghosts eventually got rid of me.
I’ve added some more recent photos to the site. Also a heap of links and took down the Book Club section. I never had time to update it.
How I hate this humidity.
15 January 2005
I’ve finally got around to putting up some more recent photos on my site. They’re of the Sassy awards, an annual event my agent Selwa Anthony holds for authors to come together and be inspired. If you want to have a look at some very cute flappers check out the Sassy Awards 2004 in the photo gallery. I plan to make this part of the gallery rotating, so there will be more frequent updates. Please don’t forget: I’m not fat, I’m six months preggers.
There’s also a more recent photo of David and myself in the General Photo section.
A very busy week. David my daredevil lover went scuba diving on Tuesday with sharks at Manly aquarium. I had to be up at the crack of dawn to go and watch him, but it was worth it to be on the Harbour in the very early pre-peak time. It’s something he’s wanted to do for ages, and it was actually quite emotional for me seeing him come swimming out surrounded by eight very large sharks. He did want me to go in with him, but I didn’t think they’d have a suit to fit me, plus I’d shit myself with fear if a shark came towards me.
On Sunday we went to the Drinklings soiree in honour of Charles Brown, the Locus editor, who is visiting Australia. This was a lot of fun. I’ve missed a few Drinklings through pregnancy sickness, but I always love catching up with good folk like Kate Forsyth, Richard & Aileen Harland and also making new friends.
I’m still reading through Tour to Hell for David, so I haven’t had a lot of time for my own writing. But he’s given up his writing for me so many times over the years, so it’s a real joy to reciprocate for him.
Tomorrow night we’re going to see the fab Wendy Rule. Monday night, we’re off to see Black Rider. Really looking forward to that one. On Saturday we fly to Brisbane for the Aurealis Awards. Oh, I did want to get a haircut, I’m so shaggy, but no time, no time. I’ll keep you posted!
1 January 2005
Happy Yule and New Year to all!
I had a pleasant, quiet Christmas. David gave me a surprise by having cover flats of the Circle of Nine series framed, along with a heap of other great presents such as a Joy Division CD, all of which are still under the tree. My parents gave me a gorgeous Chinese calligraphy set which is a work of art in itself. I bought David tickets to The Doors concert, and sponsored a turtle for him at Taronga Zoo, so he is an official Turtle parent.
My day job to support my writing is in retail so you can appreciate that this is the busiest time of year for me. I’ve been working 12-hour shifts, working my days off, seven days straight etc. Last night I had trouble staying awake until midnight. If you would like to experience a fingertouch from hell, try working the Boxing Day sale in a Sydney department store. Let me not go there…
Although I have had no time to do any writing, I have had some good news regarding my work which has given me a boost at a time I needed it. A crime short story called “Tadpole” has won the Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic Award at the annual Scarlet Stiletto Awards with Sisters in Crime. You may recall I won this award last year as well, so I was thrilled to claim it again.
A Fire in the Shell (my favourite book of the series), has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award in Horror along with my Sassy writing friends Kim and Richard. It’s just great to be up there alongside them, even if I do think I’m the longshot of the three. David and I are going to Brisbane for the awards, as the very respected Ellen Datlow, yep, that Ellen Datlow, is flying out from America to present the awards and to give a talk to all the nominees on the Sunday. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The ever-suffering David has read my first six chapters of The Witches of Paris and declared it to be better than Circle of Nine. I’ve been reading his book which he’s just finished. Tour To Hell is a non-fiction about an escape myth of the early convicts in Australia. It’s such a blessing to have a writer as a partner.
Here’s my very big news for the New Year, and I’ve just told my work so I can post it. I’m pregnant, actually six months pregnant. The little ragamuffin was unplanned, but very welcome now the initial shock has passed. Her name is Daisy, yes she is a girl and she is due on March 23. I had a pregnancy filled with nausea and vomiting which was sheer misery for me, and a few complications, there were many times where we didn’t think Daisy was going to make it.
She’s proven already to be as determined as her mother. David thinks I’m a bit like a cockroach, I survive anything.
I never considered myself a maternal girl. Animals have always been my passion. My agent Selwa, gave us some great advice and that is to not change our life to fit Daisy, to ensure instead Daisy fits into our lifestyle. In our cramped little terrace I cannot imagine how we are going to fit another little being. We will eventually have to renovate onto the f the house, build an attic and office upstairs.
Smuchie, I declare, has to be the most intelligent cat in the world. She has learnt how to open windows. Talk about a true cat burglar. She either busts out of them, by pushing the screen out with her head, or she lifts the heavy window up with her paws. We are in awe of her brilliance.
Finally, the Tsunami fills me with horror. I missed the breaking of the story because my long shifts meant I never saw the news. I cannot even begin to contemplate the scale of the tragedy. I can’t watch it on the news or read about it. Being pregnant doesn’t help; I’m way too emotional. David and I are sending money and I urge you all to send as little or much as you can spare. Didn’t I write about a similar event happening in New Baffin in A Fire in the Shell? Pablo Picasso, a fellow Scorpion, often predicted events through his art. Shambzhla, sending her wrath out onto the earth dwellers. Damn you bitch warrior Sea-Hag!
Also sad was to read about astrologer Athena Starwoman’s death from breast cancer. Fifty is too young. R.I.P. Starwoman.