A Scorpion in the Corner and Publicity for Poet’s Cottage

February has been a blur as publicity for Poet’s Cottage begins, ahead of its release in Australia.

My garden writing shed

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

 

Tattoos

Looking at this wonderful photo of Johnny Depp, which as usual I’ve swiped from the fab site Depp Impact, I’m very taken with not only his dapper vest (love a man in a vest) but his body art. I already have two tattoos – a Caduceus on my upper left back representing writing, printing, healing and on my left leg a daisy for when my flower was born. Since my father’s death, I’ve been toying with the idea of engraving a blue butterfly on my left writing arm as a symbol of transmutation, transformation, celebration, death and new life. Enjoy your weekend. I hope it is filled with blessings and beauty and thank you for visiting me. Here’s some lovely Handel, a piece my father always loved.

Comfort Television

With all the sad news in the media this week, it’s been good to have some quality ‘comfort television’ to retreat to.

In Australia, we’ve just had the new series of Midsomer Murders featuring Neil Dudgeon as cousin Barnaby. I watched the first show, Death In The Slow Lane, with some trepidation, not knowing if I’d like the character. So far, I have to say he is very good and appealing and in particular I love the scenes with his dog Sykes.

Here’s some more information on the little dog here.

David said, ‘oh the dog’s just the smoother for people like you who can’t bear to see Tom leave.’  Probably true but it worked! I also liked the schoolgirl characters (the scholarship girls) who were fun. The script was very confused and a bit muddling and I didn’t really get to understand why the murderer killed certain people but logic always has to be left behind when viewing Midsomer.

The other show I’m really enjoying is on ABC and is a British show called Marshlands.

This eerie tale with three different time periods (1960s, 80s and the present) woven together to show how a house absorbs the energy of its inhabitants in a lovely big house in Yorkshire, is my cup of tea, totally. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as the story unfolds. Highly recommended for those who love past/present, mysteries and a good supernatural thriller. It also has a link to Midsomer Murders with the casting of Daniel Casey (Sergeant Troy) who plays Scott Maynard. What is your idea of comfort television? Leave me a note, I’d love to know. 

 Enjoy your weekend. I’m going to celebrate the Spring with my Spiritual Women’s group, attend a lingerie party (my first) and hope to do some more work in my garden writing shed.

And here’s a photo of Johnny Depp just because it’s Friday. xx

johnny depp image source

marshlands image source

midsomer murders image source

sykes image source

 

 

Cosy Winter Reading

 

How I love books and winter. A perfect combination. I adore going to bed early these days reading and re-reading some of my winter favourite cosy reads. Here’s a few below that I’ve read recently. 

Ransom and We Need To Talk About Kevin were both my Magic Hat bookclub choices. I highly recommend them. Ransom is poetic, powerful and a clever retelling of the Greek myth of the Iliad. Not that I’ve read the Illiad, I confess, but at least I’ve now read Ransom. 

We Need To Talk About Kevin is gripping, intense and has a killer of a twist. It provoked a wonderful bookclub discussion for our glam hatters. 

I’ve also been re-reading some old Agatha Christies, starting with the Miss Marples as the shows are beginning to take over a bit in my head so I needed to go back to the source. J’adore Miss Marple! My favourite heroine of all time. I’ve re-read A Murder At The Vicarage and The Body In The Library. Both wonderful reads and terrific to see an early Miss Marple forming.   

And of course, the witty and sly Love In A Cold Climate is perfect bedtime fodder. 

Cathy Kelly’s Once In A Lifetime is another book as cosy as a hot-water bottle and cocoa.  

Another book I’ve loved reading to Daisy is this one from Enid Blyton. Gorgeous illustrations and timeless stories we can enjoy together.  

I hope you enjoy seeing my bedtime books for winter. What books have you been enjoying or can recommend to me? 

Happy snug reading over the weekend. xx       

 johnny depp reading image source

SNOWBALLS ON FIRE

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball — the further I am rolled the more I gain.

– Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906), American civil rights leader

I just love this quote from the fabulous Blog No Country for Young Women.
 
It made me think of some of the older women I think have just got better and better with age. Here’s a few of my favourites

Beatrice, Mirka, Agatha, Brigitte

 
And I couldn’t resist sneaking a Johnny Depp photo in as he’s also improved with age. 

King Snowball Johnny Depp

Who do you think is an older inspiration? 
Hats off to all smoking hot snowballs! 
beatrice wood image source 
mirka mora image source
agatha christie image source
brigitte bardot image source
johnny depp image source

Hats off to a great broad

 

 

I’m totally shocked. Last night I dreamt about Elizabeth Taylor. We were seated next to each other on a train. She was incredibly beautiful and reading a fashion magazine featuring her on the cover  We were having a conversation about something and I remember saying how honoured I was to be sitting next to her which she brushed aside and continued talking to me. In the dream she was incredibly sassy and down to earth.

I woke to the sad news that she has died at 79.

Dreams are such strange and puzzling things. I’ve often dreamt lines and scenes from my books. But never have I dreamt about Elizabeth Taylor.

I remember Johnny Depp in an interview saying he had become good friends with Elizabeth Taylor and how down-to-earth and what a terrific broad she was.

They don’t make them like Taylor much anymore, alas.

RIP Elizabeth. Hats off to a great iconic dame. xx

I’ve been through it all, baby, I’m mother courage.
Elizabeth Taylor
image of young Elizabeth link
image of older Elizabeth link

The Nigella Effect

Yesterday I took an impulsive break from my edit and attended the very packed Nigella Lawson book signing at David Jones.


When I say ‘impulsive’ I mean very last-minute decision to go. I literally shut the laptop and ran for the train wearing my comfortable writing clothes (read ‘scruffy’). I arrived at David Jones just as the signing was starting and thought I had found the end of the queue until the frazzled-looking security guard kindly showed me the end of the queue was way, way, way, way, way back snaking around the shopfloor.

Ever the optimist, I jumped right on the end and began making new friends as we waited patiently in line for the domestic goddess herself.

It was a lot of fun to observe normally too-cool-for-school Sydneysiders going slightly crazy over Nigella. She is obviously well-loved in Sydney.

In our house alone, David loves her, as does my Daisy and I have all her cookbooks. Well, I have now that I bought Express yesterday. My middle-sister who has been going blind for years is also potty over Nigella and has been following her movements from her country house in Tasmania since she arrived.  I think she admires her for her tenacity in tough times as well as her domestic artistry when it comes to the kitchen.

Amongst the madness and fun, the ever-game and smiling piano player played on in David Jones You can see a better post HERE where more shots were taken including of the smiley piano man .

A sales consultant had fainted. Whether from the excitement of Nigella or from the crowd, I’m not sure.

All good things come to those who wait. It was my turn to meet Nigella when the woman in charge realised I didn’t have my book purchased for her to sign. Total chaos! I quickly had to buy one from a valiant sales consultant.

And in the above image you see Nigella smiling at a scruffy looking writer as I threw myself at her like an excited puppy-dog. Note that big smile even though she has been smiling and signing for close to an hour by this stage.  

And for those who are curious of what she was really like, I can divulge she has beautiful, pale skin, intelligent, kind eyes, and a very down-to-earth and warm persona. I was thrilled. Too often, I’ve met famous people who disappoint in real life but Nigella is the genuine article. She may adopt a character for the screen but her charm was sparkling through as she interacted with the people who had queued patiently to have their moment with her. 

As I left the store, I was intrigued to see the staff member still lying on the floor nearly an hour later obviously waiting for the ambulance. Hopefully that woman is okay.

I remember when I saw Jerry Hall in the street once. I do love the very Sassy Jerry Hall and I was so impressed by her strut and the way she worked the gawking crowd. There were a bunch of workmen to who she waved and they began singing out to her. She was incredible. Being a person who tends to prefer to observe others, I’m often impressed by those who court fame. That Jerry Hall moment worked its way into my book when my bohemian writer, Pearl in the 1930s thread, struts her way down the main street of my Tasmanian sea-fishing village. Pearl may be clothed in the fashion of the 1930s but I was also seeing Jerry Hall as I wrote, long blonde hair swaying, high heels clicking as she sashayed through a modern-day Sydney street.

Who would you wait in queue for to grab a moment with? When it comes to celebrities it’s obvious I’d wait days for Johnny Depp, Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.

But I was very glad I got a chance to finally meet the sensational Nigella!

Returning back to my edit, I submerged myself back into the world of Pencubitt in the 1930s and was surprised to have a call from the school. Was my daughter sick? No, she was waiting with the Office Reception as I had totally forgotten to collect her.

 Such is the effect of the brush with fame for us mortals. I’ve never forgotten to collect my daughter and so that’s what I call the Nigella Effect.  

 

NO FANS – SORRY

We survived the Sydney heat wave with record-breaking temperatures in the forties for endless days. During this uncomfortable time, we couldn’t eat or sleep. I never handle humidity.
To prove the Gods have a twisted sense of humour our much loved retro style fan died. And it proved impossible to get another as Sydney ran out of fans. People were frantically buying six at a time and shop assistants had signs around their necks saying NO FANS SORRY. We don’t have air con so that was a pretty interesting few days. Plus, my daughter became very ill with a urinary tract infection.
Throughout the high fever, heatwave and NO FAN, I still had to keep plodding along with my edit which is on deadline.
Some days I only had an hour to spend on it so that’s what I had to take.
Throughout the long, humid, steaming hell I thought many times of our recent holiday when I walked for hours on the Nut in Stanley feeling the cool, pure winds from Antarctica whip my lungs. And although I wanted to lounge around the house looking sultry in a sweat-stained slip like Elizabeth Taylor. I really just looked and felt like a dying little weed.   
 
One beautiful magical moment in the madness of the heatwave. A title for the book following Poets Cottage ‘came’ to me. The working title is Currawong House but the title that came to me was stronger. It slid into my heat-fatigued brain as I sat at the computer one day fantasising over Country Homes in England.
The edit for Poets Cottage has reached a new stage. I’ve realised how strengthened the book and characters have become.It’s the difference between a loved picture book and a 3D pop out version. The edit has bought more of the book to life and tightened it in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
 
And a couple of family pics outside the Captain’s Cottage. We looked relaxed and happy because we were.
 
 
 
 
 
And speaking of fans and cool, I picked up Vanity Fair which has Johnny Depp interviewed by Patti Smith. Yes, I know it’s a couple of months old but in Australia I have to wait for the ship copies as the plane magazines are so expensive. Another wonderful Depp interview with lots of insights into this complex, talented and very likeable actor.
We finally bought a fan, a tiny, white little girl who alas, lacks the power of our old Mad Men fan. Probably, the last little fan left in Sydney. But she is most loved and welcome and is fanning me now as I write.