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.
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
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.
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.
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 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
It takes me ages to adjust back to the different rhythm of Sydney and I am always glum at having to return from Tasmania.
We enjoyed our time in Bicheno, a sea-fishing village on the east coast of Tasmania. A highlight was the fairy penguin tour where the penguins are so accustomed to their human audience they cross between legs to reach their burrows. It had to be the best fairy penguin tour we’ve done.
I had ideas for a future book set in Tasmania and yes, I fell in love with another house, this time in Cygnet.
We ate too much from Mures Lower Deck. Screamed at Swansea over a huntsman loose in the car (except of course for David who doesn’t share my spider phobia). Saw Neil Gaiman produce ‘old magic in the air’ at the glamorous State Theatre in Hobart and David Byrne perform his brand of hip magic to an enthusiastic 5000-plus crowd at the too-cool-for-school Mona Foma.
I bought a ton of books from the always wonderful Imperial Bookshop in the city. I love browsing for hours in this secondhand shop where many treasures lurk. It’s the only bookshop I’ve encountered where the owner says a couple of the selected books were over-priced and he would have to reduce them.
I signed copies of the B-format of Poet’s Cottage in Dymocks and Fullers. Both stores were packed and the registers were constantly in action, I’m delighted to report. It’s always lovely to meet the staff in these stores and get to know faces behind names. If you are in Hobart and would like a signed copy both stores now have ample stock. It really was so great to hear how enthusiastic the staff were not only over how beautiful the cover is but also how pleased they were to see it was set in a Tasmanian sea-fishing village.
It was also a thrill to see the airport in Sydney is also well stocked with the B-format of Poet’s Cottage. I always feel a rush of excitement when I see it on the shelf.
I loved hearing shop assistants in Tasmania call me darling, and was enthralled as always by pink-eye potatoes, fresh fish, the silver-grey light, and the spectacular scenery. It was a wrench to leave the land of my ancestors.
But for now I have to shake off our too-brief Tasmanian break. My daughter has an operation due. I have a new book to plan and the school year is about to resume.
Returning was made a little easier by seeing Mike Scott and The Waterboys play at the beautiful art-deco State Theatre in Sydney. It was a great concert with a mix of their new darkly poetical material paying tribute to Yeats and some of their old classics. which bought the audience to their feet.
But for me, all roads always lead to Tasmanian seas.
It’s the shortest space of time I’ve ever written a book, it took on its own life and is double the size of Poet’s Cottage. Some days I can make myself write to a word count. If I know I have a 5000 word limit I put that figure in my head, I seem to naturally break just before I hit it. Currawong Manor however, lured me along its strange, twisty and winding corridors to a far bigger book than I had envisaged when I began.
David who has read, made corrections and suggestions for me says its the best book I’ve ever written (If he had said anything else I wouldn’t record it here of course).
I do like this photograph as to me it reveals the reality of the everyday life of a writer. The screen’s illumination, the characters, the isolation when creating (apart from a friendly cat friend who is willing to purr away the long hours by your side). It’s not glamorous but it’s intense, challenging, deflating and amazing all at once.
And so the story is told. The characters have blessed me with their insights, their deceptions, their dreams and their stories yet again. Now the book goes to Selwa Anthony, my agent and then onto the publishers. Eventually it will make its way to the public.
But for this moment in the early quiet hours of my small home, it’s just the story, the cat and me. I do find it hard to say goodbye to the characters at times.
I am flying to Tasmania to spend a few days with my family in yet another Tasmanian sea-fishing village. I will be seeing Neil Gaiman talk down there which I’m looking forward to. We will have a bottle of champagne by the Tasmanian sea to celebrate the book’s conclusion on this stage of its creation.
I have my notebook packed as already the next book (which has been waiting patiently its turn for years) is eager to come through. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Thanks for visiting me and keep creative. xx
Halloa Below There and Happy New Year!
I have to be one of the few people in the world who doesn’t enjoy going out on New Year’s Eve. I’m not a fan of fireworks and not being a believer of chronological time, New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean a lot. My idea of a terrific New Year’s Eve is to drink champagne and watch a good BBC ghost story, which is what I did this year – Charles Dickens’ The Signal Man, which I can highly recommend. That’s where the ‘Halloa Below There!’ come from. The Signal Man is the highlight of a BBC Ghost Stories For Christmas DVD. The remaining two are weaker 70s ghosties that contain all the worst elements of that particular era.
I have recently joined Instagram. Not sure if I’ll be posting on there a lot. I am not the world’s biggest techo when it comes to mobiles (I hid my last antique one deliberately and lost it). I’ve only ever had one mobile which was the size of a brick and all the letters had worn away. But I shall give the new spaceship I-phone a rather dubious go as I do love Instagram. You can find me HERE. I have yet to figure out how to attach the badge to this page. One day I might master my computer but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
At the time of writing this we are facing heat-wave conditions. Tasmania, my home state, has been battling bushfires for days. So many stories of courage coming out of the state. They do breed them tough in Tasmania but this one in particular really caught at my heart. You can see the video HERE of the amazing Walker family in Dunalley who really embody fortitude and pluck. Grandparents Tim and Tammy Holmes really inspired me as did all the Walker children. I can’t imagine how agonising it must have been for the mother of the small children, Bonnie, who was trapped on the other side of the flames not knowing her children’s and parents’ fate. All the firemen and volunteers who selflessly put their lives on the line every summer to protect the homes and lives of total strangers are heroes. I’ve been involved in bushfires years ago in the Blue Mountains and I remember how terrifying it was and how everyone would cheer when they saw the fire trucks for quite awhile afterwards.
And another of my personal heroines is the Pakinstani young girl, Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban when she campaigned for girls’ education. Malala is the manifestation of strength, grace and power for women around the world.
I have so much news but no time at the present and so I’m heading back to the humid, garden writing shed as my deadline is next Tuesday.
Where have all the lovely garden orb spiders gone this year? Last year the graceful orbs were everywhere in our garden. This year they have been replaced by larger huntsman spiders.
My resolution or my word for the year is Serenity. I’m going to be working with Serenity all year in different aspects of my life. In my serenity pursuits this year I plan to curtail some of my internet activities as much as I can. I crave for things such as:
hand-written letters, stamps and cord-cursive writing,
the smell of book shops
the glossy sheen to a new fashion magazine,
silence, mystery, absence
the weight of paper and pens scratching on paper
ink, pencil, paints
Happy New Year to you all. xx
Regular readers may recall I was fortunate enough to win a photo shoot in Sydney with one of my long-time favourite photographers, Cara Coulson, who ran a competition for a private shoot with her in either Sydney or Paris. I was excited to win the Sydney shoot because I’ve followed Carla’s blog from the beginning, and also a major character in my forthcoming mystery novel Currawong Manor is a photographer.
This week the much anticipated meeting took place and I can finally reveal the location – Woollahra House, a magical, shabby, bohemian terrace which you can read more about HERE and HERE and where the interior shots for this post came from. It was a perfect location for me. And described as ‘Alice in Wonderland meets the Addams family.’
Not only could I easily visualise Tim Burton and Johnny Depp sitting together working out a scene for their next movie, or Helena Bonham Carter lying back on the sofa; but I’d fallen in love with this striking old lady terrace a couple of years ago when she was featured in a newspaper. I had never imagined I would one day be photographed within her glorious shabby walls by Carla. Life really does work in some twisty beautiful ways sometimes!
It was a real delight to meet Carla, and an honour to be photographed by her. Thanks to the power of the internet I felt I already knew her as her blog posts are so warm and engaging. She is a rock star with a camera. A funky, tender magician. There is a certain sensuality, an intimacy to working with her but it’s not a soft energy. Despite Carla’s tenderness and caring she has a strength and power which comes from a long apprenticeship of her work, and a spiritual perception and insight of people.
Despite my initial wariness, Carla with her box of magical techniques helped me to move into the moment and to lose my ego and ‘shrinking Josephine’ outside the door. It was a very inspiring creative collaboration for me and a perfect chance to research for my book. I realised how much you have to relinquish control and surrender sometimes which isn’t easy for writers to do as we are used to being in total control of our creative projects. You have to be able to trust and to allow the muses to merge between two people when being photographed. I love the still above from my favourite movie The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Woollahra house wove its patina spell through all of my veins. Debra Cronin is the genius behind this magical house which she rents out for photo shoots and dinner parties. I wish somebody would commission this talented lady to do a book on her interior talents.
Everything about the shoot was dreamlike. The pastel greys and apricot colours of the walls. The taxidermy, antique books, the young girl from Western Australia who was also having her portrait taken. A beautiful, willowy model, dressed in Vivienne Westwood with a bird on her head like an elegant Helena Bonham Carter. She matched the house perfectly.
The make-up artist looked a combination of Jane Birkin and Lou Doillon and was every bit as rock star as Carla and Jane and her daughter. She put less make up on me that I’d normally wear to the school pick up but I loved her work and her false eyelashes. She won my heart as soon as I walked in when she said that I looked great without make up. (Normally people ask me if I’m feeling okay). It was a joy to work along side her and also Carla’s beautiful friend, Athalee, who spent more time ironing my red dress than any normal mortal woman should have to undergo and looked after me so well.
We did a shot which was inspired from this photograph of Agatha Christie where we set up a vintage typewriter and books.
I am hoping to use some of the photos for publicity for Currawong Manor.
When my husband (dressed in his everyday wear of waistcoat vest, shirt and Akubra hat) came to collect me with Daisy, Carla was kind enough to shoot a few family shots. Not knowing Daisy she asked her to ‘act like a rock star’. My daughter who had been cautioned beforehand to do EVERYTHING Carla says immediately went into overdrive snarling at the camera, making wild moves and getting totally hyped as she lived the part. I was only relieved she stopped short at trashing the room.
It was an enchanting day. One particular moment stands out for me when Carla directed me to look away from her and when I looked into the big mirror I could see a wall of stuffed birds and a blue butterfly (the blue butterfly is always a special symbol to me since my father died) and also Carla shooting me in the reflection). It was one of those times that you wonder if you really are dreaming.
If you would like to join me in that wonderful dream experience and book a portrait shoot with Carla then all the details are on her website for shoots in both Sydney and Paris. I can highly recommend it for the experience alone. If even this introverted writer enjoyed it as much as I did you most certainly will too.
And if you don’t already, follow Carla’s blog for beautiful inspiration in both words and images. You will find her HERE.
In other exciting writing news, Poet’s Cottage will now be published in Holland as well. And so I am thrilled my Tasmanian sea-fishing murder mystery will be enjoyed by people in mysterious far away Holland. That is a lovely early Christmas gift for me. Thank you, Holland for buying my Tasmanian mystery. I would love to visit such an exotic fairy tale destination one day.
Christmas is just around the corner. If you wish to buy a signed copy of Poet’s Cottage then if you order through Better Read than Dead my local bookstore HERE, I can sign it for them if you request when you order.They do online ordering as well. The B-Format of Poet’s Cottage (the smaller size) comes out in Australia on December 29th so if you have been waiting for that format you can pick it up then. I can assure you the smaller version is just as beautiful as her big sister. Pan Macmillan Australia have done such a stunning job on Poet’s Cottage in all her versions and formats.
I am still working on Currawong Manor to reach the deadline. I have my Christmas tree up but with no decorations apart from one home made Christmas angel by my Daisy as everything has been so frantic. But this Christmas I have simplified it as much as I can. Although I still do my cards by snail mail, make a trek to the David Jones window and Santa Cave, Carols etc the more commercial side I have cut back on. I hope your Christmas is filled with blessings and the magic of this holy and joyous season.
Thank you to all who have lurked, commented, and given me your energy this year. Below is a video by Tara June Winch on a worthy cause to donate to. I’m off to give some money now. Please watch if you have a couple of minutes spare. The magic of books and words gave me such a template for life when I was little and any cause that promotes that miracle to children is worth our efforts.
Keep Creative, and look for the everyday miracles. May this season be a rebirth for you in your life and art
When I stop flying in the sky I shall write a proper report on the night it’s been thirteen years of me entering the Scarlet Stiletto. Now that I’ve won the two shoes I am no longer eligible. It’s an end of an era for Tale Peddler. But I am incredibly honoured to be one of the five women in Australia who have won two shoes. In 2001 I won for Birthing The Demons and on Friday night I won for Shadows, a short story inspired when my daughter ran off from a park and decided to walk home by herself.
Thank you for visiting me. There’s a lot I’d love to blog about – so much to share – but I’m right into the world of Currawong Manor at the moment. This book is intense to say the least. I don’t want to lose the beat and heart of it too much by spending time away from it.