Today was one of those teacher’s days off. I played Lego with my daughter all day. I am not a Lego lover in any way shape or form. I’ve just reached the final chapter of the first draft of my Currawong mystery and so intensely frustrating to have to stop AGAIN. But my lovely writing mate, Nathan Burrage cheered me up when he sent through this picture of Poet’s Cottage at the airport. How divine to see it presented and looking so grand whilst I sit at home constructing Lego cars. Thank you, Nathan! xx
Another busy week doing publicity for Poet’s Cottage and still trying to finish the first draft of the Currawong book.
This has to be my favourite graffiti in Newtown yet. My friend snapped this photo for me today and no – I didn’t do it.
I’ve so enjoyed meeting journalists like Blanche Clark (Herald Sun, Melbourne) and Steve Meacham (Herald, Sydney). One of the biggest surprises of the publicity part of writing was the pleasure of meeting people whose names I’ve seen in print for years. Not that I met Blanche in person – but I know what my tired brain is trying to say. I am still being woken nightly by my daughter who has developed a terror of her school-hat at night.
For my Tasmanian readers, the Sunday Tasmanian will be running a piece on Poet’s Cottage and the Tasmanian influences behind it this Sunday.
Tonight I am off to see the ever beautiful Jane Birkin sing. I’ve always been partial to this duet, Je Taime… Mon Non Plus she did with Serge Gainsbourg and have thought I would like it played at my funeral just for a change of pace. My god they both look so beautiful in this video. I read that it was rumoured by the media that Serge had sex with Jane (and his previous girlfriend Brigitte Bardot) when he recorded it. He apparently quipped to Birkin, ‘Thank goodness I didn’t or it would have been a long playing record.’
Enjoy your weekend. May it be filled with amorous creativity, passion, beauty, and adventures. xx
I’m not the world’s biggest Marilyn Monroe fan but for some reason I seem to own five rather large coffee-table MM books which I can never bring myself to cull because I love looking at her jewellery, gowns and make-up. I caught the movie My Week With Marilyn with Art School Annie last week and thought Michelle Williams did a very good job portraying such an iconic figure.
I admire Marilyn because she came from a humble background (like moi) but was always trying to improve herself. Unlike the stars today who often brag about being dumb, Marilyn desperately wanted to be taken seriously. She sought out the company of intellectuals and writers. I feel so dispirited at times with the ‘skank’ culture of today.
I love Marilyn for her book collection of over 400 books and because books were such a refuge and joy to her.
I admire her strength, her insecurity, her tenacity and her love of animals as well. There’s a blog HERE that covers Marilyn’s love of books better than I have time to do.
This weekend displayed to me how much can change in a year. Last year my daughter’s party was about tulle, tiaras and pink princesses. This year we had Goth-painted nails, monsters, black balloons, ghouls and creepy Monster High dolls.
I have a busy week of doing interviews for Poet’s Cottage and trying to nail the first draft of Currawong Manor. Here is a link to another early review HERE which I loved for Poet’s Cottage. It still seems so surreal that people are actually reading the book I spent so many years upon. I shall have to organise myself to add a review section to my tatty, scatty website.
Enjoy your week and happy reading. xx
February has been a blur as publicity for Poet’s Cottage begins, ahead of its release in Australia.
I’m sitting in my courtyard garden now and the weather is so sunny for a change in Sydney.
I had plenty of chances to use my Mary Poppins umbrella this rainy summer. Of course, I’ve loved the rain.
This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed at home by Mr Steve Meacham for the Sun Herald newspaper. I say it was a pleasure because this gentleman wrote one of my favourite pieces recently,Writer’s Craft is now a Ghost in the Machine. You can find a link to this article here.
I find the whole interview process very daunting as I often get so tongue-tied and a shambling, rambling mess when talking about myself. I take heart from Arthur Boyd who was reputed to be woeful for the journalist to follow in interviews. I found that one of the most endearing traits of Arthur’s.
I was delighted to start off the publicity for Poet’s Cottage with a phone interview for the Tasmanian papers. I shall let you know when they are coming out.
I cannot wait for the Kerry Greenwood TV series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, starring my favourite, Essie Davis. You may recall I have bragged often about Essie and I being at the same College of Creative Arts in Hobart. I think she’s perfect casting for Phryne and I love Kerry Greenwood. I’ve won The Malice Domestic Award twice (okay, that’s a little brag again, but forgive me, another thing that I could have said to Steve and forgot). And because Essie is a Tasmanian girl (go Tasmanian girls!) I had her in mind for my character of Pearl Tatlow when I was writing Pearl.
Except now she looks just like my Pearl from Poet’s Cottage (I love her with the dark bob) but she’s Phryne. This show looks wonderful and I can’t wait to see it.
A million times better than the ghastly Underbelly offering which I wrote about here. A small slice of Underbelly Razor.
Tonight I went to the movies with Art School Annie and saw The Artist which is as wonderful and lovely as the reviews said it was. How magnificent is the dog Uggie?
And the two leads, Berenice Bejo as Peppy and Jean Dujardin, are perfectly cast. Not to mention all those fabulous 20’s frocks and shoes…
And a favourite book I read in February: Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers.
I‘m in awe of this book. I prostrate before it. So beautiful, powerful and inspiring. Alice Hoffman brings the bones to life so eloquently in her account of four women at Masada in 70AD. I take my hat off to Hoffman for her reminder of how powerful words and tales can be. This is a book that will give you strength. It’s raw and graphic and some of the passages will nearly destroy you with how inhumane people can be – but then the doves are always there as a symbol of goodness and hope. And Hoffman is writing at the top of her powers. She creates a spell just as powerful as Shirah does in the story. A wonderful novel about women, women’s mysteries and women’s stories.
This reads like a channelled book that contains the prayers and devotions of a real group of four women who would have been lost to time. But it really does contain messages and symbols for modern women as well.
Hats off again to Alice Hoffman for opening a portal where I could glimpse a world where fortunes were divined by scattering dove bones, Lilith was feared for snatching babies at night, girls were given in arranged marriages at thirteen and a Scorpion in the corner is a sure sign a witch is present.
As for my current book, Currawong Manor, I’ve finally reached the 100 000 mark of my first draft. There’s still a bit to go and for reaching that important mark I treated myself to this lovely black telephone.
I feel as if Hercule Poirot is exercising his little grey cells as he chats to me on the other end
And of course, I can’t leave this post without one little peep at Johnny.
Thank you for visiting me. xx
Some sage writing words extracted from Cate Kennedy’s article in this month’s Country Style magazine.
‘Writing mirrors all of this – the disorder, the piercing together, the realisation that the distraction itself may actually turn out to be the inspiration. If there’s a mantra, it’s Let it go.’
‘So I’ve learned to go with the cobwebs, the giant huntsman spider on the bedroom ceiling, the skinks running across the living-room floor, the frog in the shower recess. I’m at home with the mess and disarray caused by kids making batches of cupcakes and elaborate cubbies, the dirty clothes that are proof of a day well- used.
I know that one day, trusting this process, I’m going to make something out of all of this; but for now, while the larger world is in full flight, I’m learning to put the dream of undisturbed, uninterrupted, artistic tranquillity in the corner, where it belongs.’
As the school holidays have just started, I really needed to hear those words as a reminder, Cate! Not to mention that yesterday I dropped my brand new laptop, smashed it to bits and lost a week of writing which wasn’t backed up. I’d love to return to the days of writing with pen and paper and no stress.
If over the holidays you are in dire need to read more inspiring words on writing and creativity here’s an article I wrote about some of my creative journey towards Poet’s Cottage for Ian Irvine on his writing blog, you can find it HERE.
Wishing you wherever you are in the world, a wonderful Solstice, Christmas and New Year. May it be filled with all the chaos, inspiration and distraction that your soul desires.
Merry Christmas. xx
An overcast Monday in Sydney. David carried the proofs back to Pan Macmillan for me this morning and now I’m free to return to my artists, all waiting patiently in the Blue Mountains in the Currawong book. I’m eager to lose myself again in their world as I’ve been out of their story for quite a few weeks.
At my daughter’s school assembly this morning the children sang the National Anthem as the flag was hoisted. Swooping over their angelic, Australian voices a flock of brightly coloured parrots dazzled.
Last night I curled up next to David and watched the wonderful David Suchet travel the Orient Express in a documentary. In the show, David Suchet travels to Venice on the Orient Express which is probably the most glamorous way I could imagine of entering that magical city. If I was a passenger, I’d start to be a bit unnerved by ‘Poirot’ suddenly appearing on the train. In one scene, David Suchet drives the Orient Express and my mind of course couldn’t help imagining the headlines if he had managed to crash the train and kill the passengers…
How fascinating that he stayed near the carriage where the fictional Hercule Poirot was described as being by Agatha Christie in her inventive novel, Murder on the Orient Express. When art and reality mesh and mingle in that twisty way I find it so surreal and oddly satisfying. Although ‘real life’ will always win for being the most surreal and twisty over any fiction.
My father died on the 4th of this November. By some strange coincidence a character in Poet’s Cottage dies at the same time. I’m not surprised because the creation of Poet’s Cottage and my father’s own journey with his cancer ran parallel lines at times. Even as I sat at his deathbed holding his hand, I was checking final proofs. My father, who supported my writing so much, would have approved.
My father was a huge inspiration on my writing and shared my love of words and nature.
I know my father’s spirit survived his physical death. I will always look for signs from him and have had a couple already including the most remarkable dream of a blue butterfly the night following his passing.
On the 8th of November, four nights after my father’s death, I woke at 3.28 am and wrote the following lines in my journal.
Communion, time for communion, the moon is waxing. Full, round and glowing. Like bones or the eye of a benevolent god. All ships must come to port. I am not afraid. For you are here. The moon outside the window is whispering not the end of the tale but the beginning. Singing the ancient lullaby to ensure a smooth and sacred passage over uncharted waters to the land of the ancestors and the eye of the moon. I do not sleep. I think of all the great ships who must come to port, the first and last breath and the sweet moments in between. Between the bones, the rigging, lies sacred flesh, a will to live and a blackbird drinking in a birdbath. It is 3.28 am. My father at 4 am took his last breath and swallowed the luminous moon.
Thank you to all the kind people who sent me emails and love and my friends who realised where I had disappeared to. Thank you to Pan Macmillan for support and of course my wonderful agent, Selwa Anthony. It meant a lot to my family that my father was so happy with all the good news surrounding Poet’s Cottage and my other book being picked up before he died.
There are no goodbyes between my father and myself. At the same time, I feel shattered and grief-stricken and thankful that I am checking the proofs of Poet’s Cottage. Words, stories, books have always been my refuge. I will hide myself away in the writing shed and hope my heart will start to beat a little stronger as the days pass.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
But lately, there’s been a lot happening in my life and I find I don’t sleep well at night for the first time ever. So I hope running will help to soothe my jangled nerves and thoughts.
It’s heavenly in our local park. I thought I might be mugged or murdered before I set out, but it seriously looked as if half of Sydney had the same idea to get up before the dawn and run like a crazy thing. There were people running carrying tyres, people running carrying sticks, people running carrying mobiles. People boxing, doing Tai Chi, people walking dogs. People everywhere! And yet the park is so large that somehow we all seem to fit and it doesn’t feel intrusive.
Here’s a couple of shots of where I’ve been running. Can you imagine we have this much green beauty and marshlands on our doorstep? It goes for miles. I love seeing all the wildlife and birds very early in the morning. And it’s literally a five-minute walk from my front door.
I loved it so much on the first morning, that I had to run home and wake my husband up – yes, I’m that cruel – and insist he go running too. This created great excitement in our house with my daughter wanting to run as well instead of going to school. He came back glowing and more awake than I’ve seen him in months. We are now converts to dawn running.
Did you watch The Slap (if you’re in Australia) last week on the ABC? My book club didn’t love the book by Christos Tsiolkas. I was very disappointed in the novel as it had been so hyped and I couldn’t wait to read it – but I found the characters all so revolting and the sex scenes so unbelievable that I couldn’t enjoy it. It was a champion of an idea, however and I take my hat off to him for that.
For once, Ms Australian TV seems to have got it right. I loved the first episode, which didn’t have any quirky characters and in fact featured people that are just like some people I know. So fab to see Essie Davis (my favourite Australian actress) and yes, I know I’ve said it before – but she’s a Tasmanian girl – so there you are! Love Essie.
But also Melissa George was really good playing Rosie. I do know a woman who is exactly like Rosie. I think all the elements of the book which I disliked are all diluted on TV and that makes the whole thing work better in my opinion. I also love the idea (as Essie Davis said in an interview) that each character really gets slapped when Hugo is ‘disciplined’ by a fellow barbecue guest who is not his parent. And so I have to admit, that Ms Australia TV has redeemed herself after her last pitiful offering of Underbelly Razor and I shall be watching again tonight. There is a rather good website set up for The Slap here if you want to read more and see some cast videos.
My book, Poet’s Cottage has sold to Bolinda audio publishing which is wonderful as my sister has been slowly going blind for many years now. She has retinitis pigmentosa. Last year she was given a guide dog – and so it means a lot to have this particular sale, as you can imagine.
And I know this is more tease than a Dita show but this is my cover of Poet’s Cottage. All I can tell you is that it’s beautiful. I’m in love with it and have spent many happy moments gloating over how wonderful and perfect it is. My agent also loves it. The design team at Pan Macmillan are very clever, wonderful and masterly and I am very thrilled. When I am finally given the go-ahead, I shall post the official picture (the front of this piece of paper) of my new baby here.
And finally, I love this this wonderful badge designed by the very clever Neil Gaiman. Long live libraries and librarians everywhere!
Enjoy your week. Stay creative, happy and thanks for visiting me. xx
image of Essie and The Slap via google image