When the Ghosts Dance

Toot! Toot!
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Lately I feel like Toad from Wind In The Willows. I’ve recently moved over  from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and being a total Toot, Toot  Technophobic, I’m finding it a challenge. I feel as if I’ve swapped my  comfortable cruisy car that I’ve tooted along in over the years for a  spaceship where I can barely fathom the controls. Hopefully I’m going to  be able to work out how to even post this journal. Despite all the  stimulation to be discovered online, I must confess I do yearn for the  time when writers could just write and not have to fathom the mysterious  intricacies of our  technological age. I know WordPress.org claim Code is  Poetry, but give me Mary Oliver or Keats any day.
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I’ve had my daughter home for a fortnight’s holidays and we’ve enjoyed a  few jaunts around Sydney and into the mountains to see the Autumn leaves  fall. Staying home on holidays is always a good chance to rediscover  Sydney. I feel very fortunate to live in an urban inner-city area  surrounded by so much bush land. We’ve enjoyed exploring islands around  the harbour where we’ve escaped the crowds and enjoyed panoramic views of  the cityscape amongst pine and oak trees surrounding silver-grey Sydney  Harbour. Such bliss to read a good book with million dollar views to  reflect upon. You can hear the echo of long-ago and lost-to-time picnics  and imagine the cries of children as they explored the leafy island. I  could sense the deep sigh of relief as dusk falls and the ferry arrives to  collect the few tourists and the ghosts begin to dance.

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Life is filled with change and I feel that Autumn, a transitional time, is  heralding a new season for me as well.  
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Watch this space for future changes.  The Autumn light has been golden and mellow. I love this season as we bid  farewell to Sydney’s humidity. I am busy planning my new mystery novel which I am very excited about as it’s been coming together wonderfully well. I also have ideas for a crime series I am very, very excited about. I’ve been mulling this one over for a few years.
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The date for my High Tea at Better Read than Dead in Newtown has been brought forward to the 21st June 3pm.
If you live locally I’d love to see you come along to discuss murder, mystery and creativity over cup  cakes.
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Counting down the days now until Currawong Manor is released in Australia.  Soon I’ll be releasing here and on my Facebook Author page some inspiration images from my Pinterest board for  Currawong Manor (which in true Scorpio style is locked at the moment). I will also be organising a giveaway and so please pop back before publication which is officially June 1st. Currawong Manor is available for pre-order through the Award Winning Online bookstore Booktopia HERE. Or please support your local bookstore and request they order a copy.
I hope to spend more time on Tale Peddler reviewing books I’ve read and  interviewing inspirational people I know, so please keep returning and  remember you can find me also on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
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In Autumn Love and Light,  Josephine “Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and  you are out of your old life and into the new!”  ― Kenneth Grahame

 

Facing Fears – Into the desert with Robyn Davidson

You are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be.’ Robyn Davidson

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Sometimes I play that game where I’m asked the five books that changed my life. Although my choices might change (and really every book has left a small thumbprint on my soul) one work did have an influence on my life when I first read it as a young girl in Tasmania – Robyn Davidson’s Tracks. The descriptions of the Australian outback were so powerful and beautiful. I’d never thought of my own country in quite the same way.

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I felt fearful of so many things and it was perfectly obvious that here was some sort of Athena warrior goddess who feared very little, a young woman who in 1977 trekked 1700 miles across the desert from Alice Springs to Western Australia. Of course there are all sorts of symbolic meanings attached to entering a vast, seemingly empty wilderness. The old prophets entered them for clarification and transcendence. Jesus went to fast in a desert. A desert cuts out all the sensory overload. The vastness of the landscape encourages meditation.

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But it wasn’t just Robyn’s ballsy guts/madness in choosing to enter the desert with only her camels, her dog, the intermittent visits of National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan and the indigenous Australians she met along her way. It was the authentic raw power of her writing that inspired me.

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I was fortunate to see Robyn Davidson speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival last year on a panel interviewed by Michaela Kalowski with Emile Sherman, the producer of the movie Tracks. Actress Mia Wasikowska, who plays Robyn in the movie, was also in the audience. I intended to write this post shortly after the festival I was so inspired and fired up by the three speakers I saw that year, but I was editing my own book at the time and the deadline was forever looming.

from the movie Tracks

from the movie Tracks

I’ve been thinking again about Robyn Davidson as the movie Tracks is shortly to hit the big screen. Robyn in person, decades after I read her book is every bit as striking as her younger self in the flesh. Elegant, warm and charming,she described herself as an ‘odd-ball’. And I sensed a kindred spirit when she spoke about how she hated being too connected and never carries her mobile phone and hates answering it. It’s always a relief to find someone as odd-ball as yourself. She talked about how she had offers before for Tracks to be made into a move, but she wanted it to be an Australian film. Could I love this woman any more? She spoke about how the journey she took would be impossible these days as social media would be covering every step. She also expressed her concerns for young people these days as the pressure from social media is so intense. And related a very touching story to do with a reunion with her camels in Western Australia many years later. I had no idea that camels were so intelligent, emotional and had memories like elephants.

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Robyn Davidson’s early life is gothic involving her mother’s suicide at 46. Robyn is currently writing a memoir about this period of her life. In a recent interview in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend magazine with journalist Amanda Hooton, she spoke about her mother’s death and her struggles over writing the period of her life to avoid the ‘poor pitiful me’ tone.

I now think of her as something incorporated into me. I’m very interested in neuroscience: the idea that we have these maps in the brain. I think she’s sort of mapped into me.’

Tracks is a book I would urge every mother to buy their young daughters (or sons) to read as it will hopefully give them a warrior shield in navigating their own desert. It is certainly one I will be encouraging my daughter to read. One aspect of Robyn’s desert trek I loved was that she didn’t do it for fame, or to become some sort of feminist symbol, she did it for the journey itself.

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In this fifteen minute interview below with Caroline Baum, Robyn expresses her concern about how the desert has been taken over by the buffel grass introduced from Africa has been drastically altering the herbage for native animals and changing the rich palette of the desert itself.

I never did have the courage to go into the desert alone. But Robyn Davidson’s book Tracks gave me the courage to travel to India on my own.

Travelling with an Australian girl I met in India. Here we are on the Holy Ganges.

Travelling with an Australian girl I met in India. Here we are on the Holy Ganges.

Prior to reading her book, I wouldn’t have been able to travel to Melbourne solo. My life became richer as a result of her own journey and her ability to express her desert walk with such eloquence. I became a writer – a different type of writer to Robyn Davidson, but one just as inspired by the tone and palette of my own country. It takes courage to embrace a creative life with all of its dips and heights.

with a Sadhu in India.

with a Sadhu in India.

I was most grateful I had the chance to say this personally to Robyn Davidson at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. In the next couple of months, I shall post my panels that I experienced with UK writer Kate Mosse and Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Both of these panels were excellent and filled with inspiration so I hope to share them with you.

With another friend I met in India. We are still in touch.

With another friend I met in India. We are still in touch.

Here is a link to Robyn’s panel from Sydney Writers’ Festival. My interaction with her comes towards the end.

http://www.swf.org.au/2013-video-podcasts/making-tracks.html

Having my karma washed away in the Holy Ganges

Having my karma washed away in the Holy Ganges

Yes, Robyn Davidson, you made me feel that I could do anything.

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‘Camel trips do not begin or end, they merely change form.’ Robyn Davidson

If you enjoyed this article and found some inspiration, please share with your online friends. Or leave me a comment to know if you’ve read Tracks. Is there a particular book that sparked some courage within you? I would love to hear from you.

Some links to articles on Robyn Davidson of interest:

http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2012/october/1349327288/robyn-davidson/leaving-tracks-behind

http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie-news/911113/tracks-mia-wasikowska-and-robyn-davidson-interview

http://www.smh.com.au/national/one-hell-of-a-life-born-of-claypan-and-coolabah-20120928-26qng.html

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/talkingheads/txt/s2345772.htm

Autumn Leaves

Hello,

Two months until my Talking Heads session at Newtown Library and there are now only 24 seats remaining. Thanks very much to all who have secured seats. If you are keen to come along please don’t dally – reserve your seat to avoid missing out. A group of my friends are organising a dinner in Newtown afterwards; if you’d like to join us please contact me either through my Blog  or via Facebook or Twitter. We haven’t decided on the location yet but it will be near the library.

And the link again if you would like to reserve a seat is HERE.

I’ve been in bed all day and only managed to drag myself out to collect my daughter from school, walking the city streets filled with golden autumn leaves. I’ve ripped my shoulder on the computer and so had to rest after a night of pain. It was a good opportunity for me to listen to Jack Canfield’s Momentum talk which was very inspiring and motivating. We’re now halfway through the year and so a welcome moment of reflection today on what I want to achieve in the second half of 2012.

from the blog Advanced Style

I spent years working in nursing homes and psych/geriatric units and I’ve always had a penchant for older people. I  felt very close to the character of Birdie Pinkerton in her later years in Poet’s Cottage. You can learn so much from the elderly and that’s why I’m a big fan of the blog Advanced Style. Look look at the character, wisdom and beauty in this woman’s face.

You just know she would be the coolest person ever and have an amazing life. At the other end of the spectrum you have this beautiful image that I swiped from Glow

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Just a few pretty images to go into the weekend with. Faces as individual and beautiful as the leaves in my street. ‘Where does your inspiration come from?’ A mother asked me at the school pick-up. I smiled because there isn’t a space, a leaf, a face from which I don’t receive some inspiration bounty.

There’s a storm brewing in Sydney. A heavy dark sky is pressing down as I write. I hope you have a beautiful and productive weekend, wherever you are. Thank you for visiting me. And look at Larry King’s beautiful purple braces.

Thank you to my friend Liz for supplying me with the link to Johnny being interviewed by Larry in his office. I do love a man in braces. xx

Dark Shadows

Hello,

On Tuesday, 31st July 6-7pm at Newtown Library I shall be talking with the lovely Gayle Donaldson. The event is called Talking Heads and is a combined Better Read Than Dead bookshop and Newtown Library event.

If you would like to come along please reserve a seat HERE.

Some topics I imagine we’ll be covering: mysteries, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, fantasy writing, crime writing, publishing, Tasmania, sea-fishing villages, families, bohemians, secrets, Johnny Depp. If you’re interested in any of these – or you feel like a free chat and a warm place to sit – don’t make yourself a stranger.

There are limited seats so please reserve as early as you can. Would love to meet you!

Here’s my reply to a question the Hoopla asked me regarding a heated discussion at the Sydney Writers Festival on literary awards going to books that readers can’t or don’t read due to inaccessible content. This came about as a comment from a panel Stella Rimington hosted where literary critics became worked up when she said literary awards should be given to books which are readable.

I’m paraphrasing the debate as I didn’t go to the Sydney Writer’s Festival because I was too busy writing. But I did add my piece to the Hoopla which you can find HERE.

Last night Art School Annie dragged me away from my edit to see Dark Shadows. Wow!! This move was so much better than I expected. Let’s not mention the last 15 minutes which really sort of sucked huge-time. But the rest of it was Tim Burton in fine form. The scene with Johnny and the hippies is sooo good and worth the price of the movie. I love that combination of horror and comedy and it really brought to mind the Manson family with the innocence of the late 60s, early 70s era when you could break bread with a vampire in the woods and not realise that of course he’s going to kill you. And I’m so in love with Michelle Pfeiffer (who gets better with age) in her 70s gear and jewellery. Michelle said in an interview that her sister-in-law made the jewellery for the movie.

I’ve never really come out of the 70s. It’s one of my favourite eras and so this movie was heaven for me. Tim Burton, 70s fashion, hippies, vampires, sea-fishing villages, Helena Bonham Carter, Alice Cooper and of course, Johnny Depp.

A perfect movie. Here’s a track from Dark Shadows to glide up all feeling groovy into the weekend. Thank you for visiting me. xx

Angels Walking with Swans

Some cheering news this week: Poet’s Cottage is now being reprinted – extremely gratifying to know it’s kicking its legs up out there. Thank you to all who have bought a copy, asked your bookseller to get in copies – or have been kind enough to drop me a line to say you enjoyed it. You are all appreciated so much every day.

 

Here’s my daughter on her way to NIDA for Drama on the weekend. She loves her fake furs and swiping my vintage bags to walk around the streets pretending she’s a big girl.

And the postman delivered two special letters this week. One from an English teacher from Oatlands District High who was delighted to see my book and bought a copy. She was lovely enough to enclose in her letter a photograph from when I was at school. The world seemed such a different place then. No computers, endless time and a million paths to decide upon.

 

The other beautifully wrapped gift is from Tasmanian artist Jacqueline Rodemann, who sent me the loveliest necklace and brooch from her fabulous Etsy store, Under the Shade of a Bonsai Tree which you can find HERE as a thank you for me sending a copy of Poet’s Cottage to her artist mother for Mother’s Day when the stores had run out. I feel I am wearing a very special blue rose part of Tasmania now.

 

image from Under the Shade of a Bonsai Tree

Thank you very much to both ladies. It is heaven to receive gifts in the mail rather than bills. The penny in my rather blurred photograph is a 1940s penny I have near me in my writing shed. Anything that helps me to channel a different time period I’ll use.

And I am editing away on Currawong Manor as the air in my courtyard garden slowly grows chillier. This morning in the park, the mist clung over the wetlands.

It was a beautiful way to start the day. Just before dawn the angels are walking with swans.

Possum in Autumn Light

Amongst all the beauty of the Sydney Autumn light, Daisy and I found a very large dead possum in the street outside her school.
Belinda Alexandra, my writer friend and best-selling author, tells me I should have turned the possum over and inspected her tummy as she may have had babies inside the pouch. That’s a tip for you if you ever find a dead possum in your street.
 
Belinda is a goldmine of information on such issues as what to do with your constipated goldfish. I’m in awe of not only her scribe skills but her knowledge of and affinity for our native wildlife. Belinda works with WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service).
 If you see a dead possum and she has babies, you will know because her pouch will be swollen and you will see them moving around. Wrap the whole body in a towel and take the possum to your local vet as soon as possible.
I’m reading Belinda’s beautiful book Golden Earrings at the moment (along with a host of other research books for my current mystery). Ghosts, flamenco, ballet, civil war, gypsies. As with all of Belinda’s books, you learn a lot about life you may not have known before.
I’ve written about Belinda before on my old Tale Peddler blog and you can read that post HERE.
I love Autumn – feeling winter beginning to slink towards Sydney. There’s something so magical about walking the streets and seeing all the old lady terraces glow and shimmer in the light.
These photographs were taken as I went to collect my daughter from school today.
It’s comforting to know that at night, possums are dancing on my roof.
Thanks to this week’s WHO magazine, who described Poet’s Cottage as ‘a perfect fireside read’.
My favourite kinds of books are cosy fireside reads.
But just as Pearl’s beauty masked darkness and rage, Poet’s Cottage harbours horror beneath its elegant facade.’ – From WHO
Enjoy your weekend, keep creative. Thank you for visiting me.
And my beautiful friend Liz ran into someone special in Sydney this week or so she tells me…
 xx

Better Read than Dead

A quick post before my daughter and I catch the train up the mountain. Thank you to both Gayle and the lovely Better Read Than Dead bookstore in Newtown for sending me the following images of Poet’s Cottage in their window display.

Poet's Cottage in the window of Better Read than Dead Newtown

If you would like a signed copy of Poet’s Cottage (with Mother’s Day approaching it would make a fab gift) from Better Read Than Dead, I will pop into their store and sign one for you – just ask them when you place the order.
xx

 

Doing the bed dance

carla - image by carla coulson

I’m so thrilled to announce that I won the photo shoot in Sydney with the amazing Carla Coulson. I’ve loved Carla’s work for years and so I cannot wait to meet her in person (and it’s also perfect timing for a scene in my current book that I’m writing). Although I’m nervous at the thought of being photographed by her – I’m overjoyed that I shall be able to work her work at such close range. Thank you, Carla for selecting me and if you don’t know her work – check out her beautiful new website HERE and I highly recommend all her books if you enjoy photography. xx

Poet’s Cottage in Good Reading

Hello,
The current edition of Good Reading magazine (April 2012) in Australia features an extract from my Reader’s Letter in Poet’s Cottage. It’s a two-page spread and features personal photographs taken at Stanley when I was first inspired by the sea-fishing village. It also has photos of some of the books I used for research.
Here is a link to the Good Reading magazine website HERE where you can purchase a copy online. It is a very lovely layout so thank you, Good Reading Magazine!
I’ve done another couple of radio interviews this week. On Thursday I’ll be speaking with Penny Terry from ABC Tasmania for the Statewide Afternoon programme. I’ll let you know when it will be aired.
On Monday I spoke with David Woods from ULTRA 106.5 – this one is meant to go to air this Saturday in Hobart at 9.20am, all going to plan.
And that is all for now my birds as I am very weary and going to curl up with my book. Thank you for visiting me. xx