Characters manifesting on secret beaches

A busy month filled with activity. In Australia we bid farewell to Summer and welcomed Autumn.

In Germany my Currawong Manor was released. It’s German title is Sturmtochter which translates most poetically to Daughters of the Storm. I hope that my world of Currawong Manor is enjoyed as much as Poet’s Cottage was received there.
In the mail I not only had the delightful pleasure of my receiving my beautiful copies of Sturmtochter, but also Poet’s Cottage (Dornen Tochter) in another edition with its SPIEGEL Bestseller tag.
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We spent quite a lot of time at the beach this summer as we discovered a secret beach which is not as frequented.
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Just yesterday at the seaside after my daughter’s netball, I spotted a gentleman who sparked a character and an entire addition to a book I have been mulling over for years came to me. Luckily I had my notebook and I began sketching and writing ideas that came to me as I studied him. My husband walking past this unsuspecting man engaged in a brief conversation which was reported back. Strangely enough, notes I had taken regarding his culture, his appearance etc were proven accurate. Plus, he said a most intriguing sentence to David which I can definitely use in the book. I was surprised by the speed of the information triggered by this gentleman that came to me. You must always carry a notebook! More on notebooks in another post.

And here is a shot of my Currawong Manor edit for the Australian version.

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And my stunningly beautiful Australian cover for Currawong Manor has now been revealed. I love it so much as it really conveys the darkness and mystery in the books. So happy with my Australian covers for both my mysteries from Pan Macmillan.

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Currawong Manor will be released in Australia in June. You can read a synopsis HERE.

In July on the 26th at 3pm, I am going to be at Better Read than Dead in Newtown for a High Tea to discuss murder, mystery, and creativity over cupcakes and tea. If you live locally I would love to see you there.

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Don’t forget if you wish to follow my adventures, I am on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Please share this post with friends if you feel they would enjoy my work.
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In Love and Light
Josephine xx

Tasmania My Muse.

Author Neil Gaiman called Hobart one of ‘the fine secret places of the earth’.
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Back in the 1920’s Agatha Christie on her world tour similarly declared Hobart to be incredibly beautiful with its deep blue sea and harbour and expressed her hopes she would return to live there one day.

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It always takes me ages to recover from my trips home to Tasmania as predictably, I always want to stay. This January I visited to research material for my next mystery novel which is once again set in Tasmania.

It’s early days. But I have a title, opening and closing scenes, an idea that has been brewing away for a few years, and a palette of colours I want to work with. A few characters are stirring and introducing themselves. Once again, I find myself scribbling notes furiously in a notebook in a charming Tasmanian cottage. Here I am at the front of the aptly named Bridge Cottage at Richmond, where we spent a few days recently as I soaked up the atmosphere of this pretty, historic village. The light and shadows in Richmond were perfect for my book.

Josephine Pennicott at Bridge Cottage Richmond

Josephine Pennicott at Bridge Cottage Richmond

When I wasn’t at Bridge Cottage, I was lying in the shade of a tree by the river, sharing the shade with the river geese, ducks and Tasmanian native hens. (Tasmania was in a heatwave which was fortunate as this book is set in a sizzling Tasmanian summer). I spent pleasurable hours staring up at this perfect blue and canopy of greenery as scenes unravelled themselves.

And the characters appear

And the characters appear

Another photo of Bridge Cottage

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I was reminded of our last visit to Richmond, when we were thrilled to spot author Christopher Koch in a local cafe. Koch, as you are probably aware, died September 2013.

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Richmond is perfect for a writer with its peaceful atmosphere and plethora of Georgian buildings. It reminds me a lot of Oatlands, the midlands village where I spent a lot of my childhood. Oatlands has more Georgian buildings, but Richmond is nearer to Hobart, only a 20 minute drive from the city centre. You can read more on Richmond Village HERE.

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We toured Richmond Gaol, always a poignant experience. You have to spend some time alone in a darkened cell to imagine the hellish conditions the prisoners were subject to.

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Some of the inmate’s stories are most Dickensian. Isaac (Ikey) Solomon, a Javelin Man in Richmond Gaol 1831-1834, was believed to have inspired the character of Fagin in Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. Ikey came from Bell Lane, Spitafields, where along with his wife Ann, he set up a jewellers’ shop, receiving stolen goods. He was known as The Prince of Thieves. Ann was sentenced to transportation to Australia for 14 years and became the mistress of ex-convict George Madden. Ann was never reconciled with Ikey. You can read more about Ikey’s flamboyant life HERE.

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There is also the amusing story of gaoler Randal Young who was once locked up in his own gaol as a debtor!
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Convict-built beautiful sandstone Richmond Bridge built between 1823-1825 also has a wonderfully Gothic tale. George Grover was an extremely cruel overseer and flagellator of the convict road crew working on the bridge. He was known for his harsh punishments and numerous floggings. Grover met his destiny in March 1832 when he had been drinking hard and passed out on the bridge. When some prisoners came upon him, they took the opportunity to heave him over. His ghost is said to walk the bridge and on dark nights if you glimpse only a shadow behind you, you would be well-pressed to leave the bridge quickly. Sometimes it’s only the cruel Flagellator’s footsteps that are heard in the silent village as you cross the bridge.

Ghost Child

Ghost Child

Grover’s dog is also said to haunt the bridge, although why the dog has been linked with Grover remains unclear. But several witnesses have claimed to see the spirit dog described as a big black dog, also prowling the bridge. Interestingly enough, mainly women and children see the spirit dog. Richmond Bridge was originally called Bigge’s Bridge and is Australia’s oldest bridge.
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I am slightly saddened to admit I did not see any ghosts apart from one Daisy photo ghost, but I did fill a notebook with loads of ideas, I took close to 400 photos for inspiration to refer to when I’m spending the next few years working on the book. Of course there’s always plenty of charming historic houses to fall in love with in the village streets.

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And I could see myself quite happily retiring to live in Grannie Rhode’s exquisite cottage where I could have my chickens, grow herbs and make friends with the garden fairies.

Granny Rhodes's Cottage

Grannie Rhodes’s Cottage

But it’s not all about the historic houses, Gothic ghost stories, and convict tales in the state. Culturally the State is really smoking with MONA which is always worth a mind-expanding trip. The Red Queen was the current show, but I’m always happy to simply wander around MONA and take in the stimulation of this amazing eclectic surreal wonderland. Here are a few photos from MONA of pieces I particularly liked on this visit.
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I really love the way David Walsh has installed his temple in the suburbs and his car parking space made me smile. His car was parked in the space allocated to God and there is another space for God’s Mistress (as David pointed out the God’s Mistress space was empty).

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Aside from MONA, you can be visually stimulated by the fabulous Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery near the picturesque wharf. I loved several of the displays here.

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The Wild Colonial Boy

The Wild Colonial Boy

We also had time to take in the Cygnet Folk Festival which is a wonderful day out.
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And enjoy a punnet of my favourite Tasmanian snack (with the exception of the Tasmanian pink-eye potato)

The scenery wherever you go is spectacular. Hobart seemed to shimmer and sparkle more than ever on this trip.

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Thank you for visiting me. There are more photographs on my personal and Author Facebook pages. Also on Instagram.

May 2014 bring to you all the creative joy and blessings you could wish for. It’s going to be a big year for me. My mystery novel Currawong Manor will be released here in June and earlier in Germany.

I am currently doing another draft on a historical crime manuscript I’ve been working on for years. Then I shall begin some more intensive character development for my Tasmanian mystery.

One final glimpse of the wild Tasmanian sea.

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Tasmania my Muse. Home. And if 2014 hasn’t got off to the start you, take heart and strength from the wonderful Gregory Peck. ‘Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.’

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BIG DREAMS, BRUSHES WITH FAME AND MIRACLES FOR CHRISTMAS

‘Though a great deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.’

– Thomas Hardy

As I write this on a sunny day in Sydney with dappled light showering our inner-city street, cicadas competing with the traffic noise and overhead planes, gum trees a wash of green against a brilliant blue sky, Angelina Jolie has just finished directing a scene near our house for her new movie Unbroken.
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Regular readers will know my fascination with comparative religions. The reason I’m so excited that Hollywood has come to our area is that Angelina is directing a scene in my local church. This church is a big part of our family and has formed the fabric of our lives here for the last decade. My daughter was baptised there and before my father died, he flew over to give me away in my Alice in Wonderland meets Carnaby Street wedding.

Unbroken being filmed at our local church

Unbroken being filmed at our local church

In an area bursting with the politically correct/hipster crowd, the church has been a sanctuary to me for years. I’ve seen it go through many changes and several priests, but the current priest has been my favourite for many reasons. The reason I mention Angelina is that it’s proof of how life can bring unexpected twists and miracles in ways you can’t imagine. And how ‘real life’ can be stranger than fiction and any movie. For years we’ve battled with church costs (the roof fell in a few years ago) and in one swoop – thanks to Angelina – those costs have been considerably bumped down. But I could never have expected that’s who would have fixed our church roof. Not even my imagination would have dreamt that scenario.

Extras in period costume cross the street for Unbroken

Extras in period costume cross the street for Unbroken

My daughter went to school yesterday morning with a little piece of paper in her pocket, for an autograph in the unlikely event she bumped into Angelina. She walked past crowds of extras dressed in period costume and the big movie lights trying to spot one person. (She loves her because she has tattoos.) We are relieved that this small brush of celebrity is with a person as inspiring as Angelina. It is heartening to point out photographs of Angelina and Brad dressed up for movie premieres, but then also be able to talk about her humanitarian work and how she has used celebrity and her beauty and talent as a force of good in the world. Everyone that had contact with her raved about how unpretentious, down-to-earth and friendly she was. I was also very delighted to see on the weekend in Sydney she went shopping with her children and bought books from local bookshops – a reminder to all to buy BOOKS this Christmas. As Christopher Marley said: ‘When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink and glue. You give him the possibility of a whole new life.’

And so Angelina Jolie is our little Christmas miracle and if you see Unbroken, know that the church in it has been my oasis of quiet contemplation for the last decade of my inner-city life.

The beautiful and inspiring Angelina Jolie

The beautiful and inspiring Angelina Jolie

I have finished my edit of Currawong Manor.
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On Monday, 2nd December at 12.30 am I pressed the send button and Currawong Manor went across the city back to Pan Macmillan. I felt enormously depleted, emotional and empty. I’ve loved working with my artists for so long and it’ s always hard to let go of my characters. I’ve spent years in their company. I feel so empty without them all and wonder if anyone will care for them. Where do these characters come from? They come. Sometimes quickly, but sometimes they are furtive and hide themselves behind other characters. Or they are too coy to appear at once, and you know they will come another time and book.

You spend years with the ones that do appear. You grow to know them more intimately than you do most of your neighbours, and friends.

And then they are gone. Released with the SEND button to a waiting editor and publisher in an office across the city and you are left alone, crying with exhaustion and wondering why you push yourself through so much for so many years to meet a being who is as real as a dream.

Divine madness has descended for years – if you are lucky – and then it moves on and you are left feeling abandoned by your own creation.

You sit and wait and hope the muse will bring you another story. You wait and ache and start to spin the web.

I’ve now begun work on my new web. and loving feeling the new characters appear.

Poet’s Cottage continues its tour around Europe and here is the beautiful cover from Dutch publishers HERE Fingers crossed that the Dutch will enjoy my Tasmanian sea-fishing murder mystery. It never fails to excite me to think that our family holiday inspired a book that is now selling internationally.
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In November I appeared at the Newtown Festival for Better Read than Dead in the Writer’s Tent with the always inspiring and dynamic Kate Forsyth.

Josephine Pennicott and Kate Forsyth

Josephine Pennicott and Kate Forsyth

I also attended the New South Wales SWITCH Library Awards dinner at the Star Room in Darling Harbour, sponsored by Bolinda Audio alongside some of my agent’s authors. Here is a photo of writing friends Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis.

Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis

Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis

I travelled to Melbourne for the Sisters in Crime annual Scarlet Stiletto Awards. I can’t enter anymore as I’ve won two shoes (the legal limit!) so this was my first year as a judge. Congratulations to all shortlisted entries and to the winners. You can find a full list of winners HERE.

This evening was the 20th Anniversary of Sisters in Crime at the boho glam Thornbury Theatre and so I was delighted to be a part of the celebrations. Angela Savage wrote a lovely article on the history of the red shoe, A Dagger With A Difference, which you can read HERE.

image via Sisters in Crime

image via Sisters in Crime

The beautiful and talented Essie Davis was the host and guest speaker. You may know her as Phryne Fisher in Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, or from many other wonderful parts she has played. I remember Essie from our Hobart days at Rosny College together and so it was a joy to be able to connect with her again. In the photo below you can see her hugging me.

Sisters in Crime with Essie Davis on far right

Sisters in Crime with Essie Davis on far right

When Tasmanian girls reunite

When Tasmanian girls reunite

Essie was always a person you knew would be Someone. She claims she was a dag at Rosny but I can vouch she was always super-cool and super-talented. I was also pleased to have the chance to hand her a copy of Poet’s Cottage as when Pearl Tatlow came to me, I often daydreamed over the years if Poet’s Cottage was ever made into a movie, Essie would be perfect to play Pearl. Yes, I know that seems like big dreams, but if Angelina Jolie can pay for our church roof, I can believe in big dreams and miracles. And on that note – I wish for you all the big dreams, miracles and surprising twists in your life that you could NEVER have imagined in the season of light ahead.
And it wouldn’t be a Christmas blog post on Tale Peddler without a gratuitous Johnny Depp photograph.
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Thank you for visiting me. Here is the divine Mediaeval Baebes with the glorious We Three Kings.

Love, Light and Peace. May you find the best of the Holy Season within your own heart.

Josephine xx

Flashy Spring Shows

Hello,
I love September, as in the Southern Hemisphere, we are in Spring. The Sydney air seems to pulsate joy and magical possibilities. I’m on another editing deadline for Currawong Manor, and so updating my blog before I lose myself too much into the threads of my Blue Mountains artists. The rose ladies in my courtyard garden are putting on a colourful, flashy display and creative ideas for more projects are also flowering within me.
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I attended the Davitt Awards in Melbourne this month, for which Poet’s Cottage shortlisted. Although I didn’t collect an award, I had an excellent night with my Sisters in Crime and was thrilled to be a part of the audience when Kerry Greenwood received her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to all Sisters in Crime below who took out major awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award Kerry Greenwood
Adult Fiction Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
True Crime The Waterlow Killings (Pamela Burton, Victory)
Children’s and Young Adult Fiction The Tunnels of Tarcoola (Jennifer Walsh, Allen & Unwin)
Best Debut Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
Reader’s Choice Award Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man (Kerry Greenwood, NewSouth).

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell

Ian Irvine and Traci Harding

Ian Irvine and Traci Harding

Traci Harding and Josephine Pennicott

Traci Harding and Josephine Pennicott

I also attended my agent Selwa Anthony’s annual Sassy Awards, always an interesting event. Here are a few snaps from the evening. Unfortunately, I had an infected eye which kept me from rocking the dance floor, but it was fun to catch up with long-time writing friends such as Belinda Alexandra, Ian Irvine, Traci Harding, Stephen Irvine, Anna Romer, Richard Harland. Writing in isolation, the Sassies are a reminder that you’re not working alone, and you are in fact, connected to a larger industry web. Along with an infected eye, Scorpio in Saturn wasn’t benevolent to me. After a few wines with friends, I managed to drop a cup of tea on my laptop. Disaster! Here is a shot of my beloved, covered in rice in a vain attempt to absorb the moisture.
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Polka dot posers at Luna Park

Polka dot posers at Luna Park


View from Luna Park

View from Luna Park

If you are ever suffering from the blues and live in Sydney, I recommend an outing to Luna Park. Take your real child, or your inner-child, and inhale all the exuberant energy and joy that to me represents Sydney. The location by the sparkling harbour ensures your senses are constantly assailed by gaiety and brilliant scenic blue views.
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The adrenaline rush you get from the rides ensures you don’t have time to waste worrying over trivia – you are only concerned with surviving the next ten minutes.
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I have to concede that if you have a fear of heights like yours truly, braving the Ferris Wheel in gale winds is probably not perfect timing to teach your daughter about facing fears.
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I made the trek to Luna Park (and risked my spine on the Tango Dancer and Spider) as I have a brief scene in Currawong Manor featuring the iconic Sydney location.
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Back to my edit for Currawong Manor. And if you are around for the Newtown Festival, I am appearing with Kate Forsyth in the Writers Tent. More information on that event HERE. Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative and keep sparkling. xx

The Misty Blue

Hello,
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I’ve returned from the mountains after a blissful week with my family. I roughed out some early drafts for my current mystery novel, which is an idea I’ve nursed for a couple of years. I have a title for this one and some early images, so feel very optimistic. My agent was also keen on the idea, so that’s coming together nicely. The mountains was a haven of winter sunlight, air spiked with goodness and the beauty of peace. It’s shocking to experience how differently you feel when your senses aren’t bombarded by constant traffic and aircraft. We bushwalked, slept a lot, read in front of the stove fire, explored the antique shops and it was all heaven. I also caught up with a couple of friends in the mountains including Kim Wilkins aka Kimberley Freeman who was on a research trip for a forthcoming book. It was very difficult to return to the city and the abruptness of a new school term.
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I’m currently working on a coming-of-age novel that I’ve been tinkering around with for several years. I am very much in love with this project.
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I’ve been reading a lot and catching up on books I’ve had on my ‘to-read’ list. The Somnambulist, a truly wonderful Gothic Victorian mystery by Essie Fox. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, Citadel by Kate Mosse and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I do plan to do some proper reviews when I get a chance. I’m getting very behind with my reviews for Australian Women Writers.

I’m pleased to see Poet’s Cottage is on the long list for the Davitt Awards for mystery and crime writing. Even more thrilled to see the list had a record number of entries. 63 books have been nominated this year which is a statement that mystery and crime writing is booming in Australian publishing.
And I’m also thrilled to know that book clubs are enjoying Poet’s Cottage. When I get a chance I’m planning on creating a website with a book club section. I was contacted on my Author Facebook page this week by a lovely lady who is taking a walking tour to Stanley this weekend as her book club is reading the book in the nearby town of Wynyard. I couldn’t think of a more spectacular back drop for a book club meeting.
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I love this recent Vogue cover featuring Sofia Coppola. Sofia was one of the inspirations behind my character Elizabeth, a photographer in the present-day thread of Currawong Manor. I needed somebody who was powerful, but in a gentle, soothing type of way. I’m a big fan of all of Sofia Coppola’s movies.
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I finally caught up with The Great Gatsby (probably the last person in Sydney to see it). I saw it with Artschool Annie and we both relished the painterly interpretation that Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin brought to the book. It made me feel like re-reading The Great Gatsby.
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And thank you to all who entered my Giveaway both here and on Facebook. It is now past the full moon and so as promised I have drawn a winner. Congratulations ROBYN JONES. Please PM me your address and I shall post your books to you.

Johnny Depp meeting Dr Gayle Dine’ Chacon from the Navajo nation while filming The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp meeting Dr Gayle Dine’ Chacon from the Navajo nation while filming The Lone Ranger

Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative. I hope you enjoyed the full moon period. It’s a favourable time to rid yourself of everything holding you back from achieving your dreams.
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xx

Out with the Old

Hello,
I’m filled with celebratory winter cheer this weekend in Sydney.
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Yesterday at 4.15 pm I pressed the SEND button and watched my Currawong Manor edit disappear to my patient editor.
David returned from his week of swimming under a blue and mysteriously sparkling world with the Minke whales.
My short story SHADOWS which won last year’s Scarlet Stiletto Award for Sisters in Crime is in an anthology for Melbourne Books with other award-winning stories. I’m very honoured to be included amongst such prestigious company. You can read the details of the anthology HERE.
The recent interview I did with Tim Martain for the Hobart Mercury Saturday Magazine came out last week. I was very chuffed to make the cover page with my Agatha Christie inspired shot. The spread featured Poppy Gee and Livia Day who I recently appeared in Melbourne with for a Sisters in Crime panel. I shall put the jpegs up when I get a chance to scan them.

Josephine Pennicott Life of Crime

Josephine Pennicott Life of Crime

And my favourite, Johnny Depp also made the cover of Rolling Stone this week looking a whole lot cooler than yours truly.
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The Super Moon brought some unexpected elements to my life in the form of releasing aspects of my life that no longer served my highest good.

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

I am off to my mountains hideaway to spend some time reading, relaxing, writing in a notebook for my current novel, and watching birds in mountain winter skies. I hope it is misty and we are longing for snow.
Enjoy the waning moon. xx

Super Moon brings Super Tidings

Hello,
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Popping in quickly with my edit nearly due for Currawong Manor to show you the beautiful new cover Ullstein in Germany have designed for Dornentochter (Poet’s Cottage). Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve been incredibly blessed with three editions of Dornentochter. They all reveal a different dimension to the book and I love them all. I’m very grateful to all who have worked on the books and to everyone in Germany who has purchased a copy of my Tasmanian mystery.
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I was overjoyed to see this in my email box – Dornentochter on the Spiegel list for Bestsellers. It doesn’t seem real to see my name so close to the other acclaimed authors! My reality is – racing towards this deadline, school-drop offs, a sick daughter, juggling activities etc.
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Of course, I’m delighted because it shows people love to read books set in Australia by Australian authors.

The recent panel I did with Sisters in Crime in Melbourne attracted publicity in both papers in Tasmania – the Launceston Examiner and also the Hobart Mercury, which is featuring Poppy Gee, Livia Day and moi in this Saturday’s arts colour supplement. So happy to be in that supplement as I’ve read it for years. My mother collects them all for me and when I go home, I inevitably bring a mass of clippings back to Sydney. I love reading about people in the arts scene down there or mainlanders doing sea and tree-changes in Tasmania. Once I’m through the edit, I’ll try to organise jpegs of the interviews for this blog.

Thank you to all my gracious Facebook friends who have already commented about the Spiegel Bestseller list and also a gentle reminder about my giveaway – details below. I shall draw a lucky winner from my Magic Hat when I finish my deadline.

I hope the recent Super Moon brought to you all you truly need and desire from your life. My partner, David Levell is going diving with whales this week. I shall miss him very much. He is always such a great support and wonderful to bounce ideas around for different characters and their motivations. It is wonderful to live with another writer because they understand when you are abstracted or ‘off with the fairies.’
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Thank you for visiting me. Back to my edit. xx

Autumn

The Autumn sunshine in Sydney has been glorious but I was in the writing shed watching the dappled mellow light in my backyard. I’m happy to say Currawong Manor has now been cut from a massive 170 000 to a much trimmer word length. The process wasn’t as horrendous as I had feared; I could feel sparks begin to fly in the manuscript as I worked. I lost several characters but I already know they will re-appear in later books. Two of them were most insistent they had to go together, which was creepy because of who those characters are – but I can’t say too much about them without creating spoilers.

The hardest part was only having a month for the edit with my daughter home on school holidays for half that time. Thankfully, I had wonderful friends who took my daughter to the cinema, on excursions, and – being a Unique Enfant (only child) – she enjoys holiday care at her school.

Somehow it all came together and I’m very happy with the end result. Fingers crossed my agent and publishers will be too.
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On completion I felt as if a brass band should be playing and an auditorium of people screaming their praises to a soundtrack of Gladiator. In reality I had the school-run, lunches and everyday life to contend with. I did steal one precious day from the edit to take Daisy to the mountains so we could enjoy the Autumn light together.

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I’ve been reading some fab books lately. Katherine Howell’s Silent Fear, Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, Thea Astley’s An Item on the Late News, Jo Wood’s autobiography of her life with the Rolling Stones and the terrifying Poppet by Mo Hayder. When I get a chance, I shall write some reviews for them and post here. I am longing to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and UK’s Louise Millar’s psychological suspense books. I’ve also just started Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell which I’m loving. A great read for cosy Autumn afternoons.

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My book club, The Magic Hat read Thea Astley’s An Item from the Late News in our last meeting. I have to admit I had never read any of Thea Astley’s books before and I was surprised by what a page-turner and how darkly powerful this literary novel is. My full review is on Good Reads if you are a member.

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This is a photo from my friend Mary’s wonderful Facebook page, My Love Affair With Newtown. It’s a new coffee shop opening down the south end of King Street near the Union Hotel. It looks like a little dolls’ house and with the small space, chandelier and books, it reminds me of my own lounge-room in Little Brick. I feel tempted to paint my lounge hot pink. I think that’s going to be my winter project. Our lounge room is very small like this, crammed with books and a chandelier. Hot pink might make it more cosy than the Antique White it is now.

We were fortunate to see John Bell’s wonderful Henry 4 at the Opera House recently. I just loved it as the words are brought to beautifully to life by the excellent actors. It was such a fab interpretation with more hip to it than a boxed set of Mad Men. From the moment it began with electric guitars being thrashed as the stage set was trashed, it was a wild, eloquent ride though age-old issues regarding power, self-responsibility and family. Issues as relevant today as when Shakespeare wrote it. Here’s a brief promo clip from YouTube where you can get a sense of the majestic power of the words. A most inspiring night of theatre. If you feel blocked with your writing; this two-minute clip will help you get your groove back.

If you are on my Facebook you will have seen I was deeply saddened by the news story that broke in Sydney this week when Madeleine Milne, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who loved drawing dragons, being creative and helping others became the youngest ever recorded suicide in NSW due to a bullying incident at her school. Her grieving father went public with the story in an appeal to everyone – parents and schools – to communicate more and take the time to listen to your children. The pressures on our young people are enormous these days. When I was growing up there was always bullying but somehow we had the resilience to endure it. This was however before the media began to promote the mean-girl attitudes that are so prominent today. We live in a society that cushions children so much from all hardships (and even not-so-hardships – I was shocked to discover everyone now gets a prize in pass-the-parcel!) We leave young children on technology that contains messages and images their undeveloped brains may not be able to compute. I don’t have any answers as I’m only on my L-plates with parenting, but I feel we are letting our young people down terribly when children this young are taking their own lives unable to see any light in winter’s dark embrace. And Madeleine is far from the only child who has suicided over bullying. A quick Google search will show you other horror stories.

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If you do have children – please take on board this plea from Madeleine’s father:

“We all let our busy lives get in the way. The school was busy and didn’t get back to us, we were busy. I’d just say make the time.”

Fight back against the sexualisation of children and the mean culture in the media. Ensure your school has a zero tolerance to bullying and cliques. Help your child develop resilience rather than cushioning them against the inevitable crap and hard times of life. This little girl’s story touched so many people as it could have been any one of us with children. As one of my Facebook friends, Dianne eloquently said:

‘13 is such a violable age. They are full of promise and act tough, but they are fragile like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon. Handle them with care.’

Enjoy your week. As I wait for the next stage of the edit to return, I’m planning and researching my next book and also writing my Young Adult book that I’ve been having fun with for years in-between my bigger books.

And a gentle reminder that I shall be appearing in Melbourne in June 14 along with Livia Day and Poppy Gee for Sisters in Crime on a panel called Something Rotten in the Apple Isle. You can find more details of the event HERE.

And a lovely photo of Johnny to end with. This one is via the Johnny C. Depp Facebook page
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Thank you for visiting me.

Love Josephine xx

Inside Carla Coulson’s Magic Camera

Hello,

Exciting news today that Poet’s Cottage continues its European tour with the rights being sold to Spain. So happy to know my Tasmanian mystery will now be available to Spanish readers.

Josephine Pennicott by Carla Coulson

Josephine Pennicott by Carla Coulson

And for regular readers, you may recall that I had a photo shoot last year with the very talented Carla Coulson, of which I posted about HERE in the post Life’s so Light.

Carla has released some of the images from that shoot on her beautiful blog which I’ve followed for years CARLA LOVES PHOTOGRAPHY

Josephine Pennicott and Daisy image by Carla Coulson

Josephine Pennicott and Daisy image by Carla Coulson

I am still pinching myself that not only did I get to meet Carla but I also had the honour of being photographed by her. We worked with a vision/mood board that must have raised Carla’s eyebrow when she first saw it. It included Agatha Christie/the Rolling Stones and a few other slightly different inspirations. Carla, bless her, had an image of Kate Moss with her daughter that she wanted to reproduce the look of.

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell image by Carla Coulson

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell image by Carla Coulson

I am delighted with how she represented our family as I wanted to show our creative and laid-back style. If you enjoy the photos please leave feedback for Carla. And Carla does do workshops and shoots in Sydney if you are interested. All the details can be found on her website.
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One of my inspiration images for the shoot

One of my inspiration images for the shoot

Josephine Pennicott by Carla Coulson

Josephine Pennicott by Carla Coulson

Finally some advance notice that I will be appearing in the following talk, Something Rotten in the Apple Isle in Melbourne in June for Sisters in Crime. It should be enormous fun and I’m thrilled it has a Tasmanian theme. You can read all about it on this link HERE. I know I have the fab Carmel Shute to thank for that title. Would love to see you there if you can make it. I am sure it will be a hoot.

I am planning and dreaming new books into existence this week. I have loads of ideas. I’m never short of a great idea it’s just making time to write them all out. And this year I have joined the Australian Women Writers Challenge HERE which I think is a great idea. I did join it in 2012 but was flat out with research reading. However I do think it’s a worthy cause and a wonderful idea to support other Australian Women writers across genres. I have committed myself to the Miles level and so no excuses for not tackling the tower of books in my bedroom now!

David and I in Irish Echo

David and I in Irish Echo

David and I made the Irish Echo last week to see Mike Scott and the Waterboys, one of our rare nights out. I’ve loved the Waterboys forever and so thrilled to have the moment immortalised.

Thanks for visiting me. Keep Creative and Inspired. xx