News 2006

NEWS 2006

December 22

Summer Solstice/ Yule to Northern Hemisphere Blessing

May your coming year be of bountiful harvest

May her grace extirpate all obstacles blocking your true path

God to Goddess – Sol to Gaia

Moon to Goddess – Moon to Earth

Blessings from Josephine, David and Daisy

December 9

Today was a perfect day, one of my favourite days this year. December 9th is a significant date as David and I are both 9s. We saw the ballet Raymonda – I’m still floating. It was like a glorious, delicate dream, so ethereal and pastel haunting. The music was divine. The costumes – I could have just looked at the costumes on stage with no bodies in them.

Raymonda was my favourite ballet this year. I always get a thrill out of going to Sydney Opera House. I love to mingle with the tourists, see the colourful cheerful ferries, the fierce Disney-blue sky spiked by the sails of the glorious Opera House. we had great seats and sipped wine at interval watching the harbour. And best of all, caught a train home with a minute to spare!

Had a brilliant time in Melbourne at the Scarlet Stiletto Awards. I didn’t win any major awards but I did get two Highly Commendeds. The ceremony was in a beautiful, historic RSL club in St Kilda. It was a truly hilarious night; Kerry Greenwood is a jolly, entertaining speaker.

A strange experience while travelling to Melbourne; I found myself sitting opposite Joanne Lees. I say strange because I had just finished her book and there she was! Stranger still was the encounter my friend & webmistress Rhondda had in a hospital waiting room. Reading a book set in medieval times, she looked up to see two knights in armour, brought in injured from a jousting re-enactment!

I had to be up at 4am to fly back to Sydney for my agent’s seminar & awards day. This year it really knocked me! After nearly two years of no sleep you’d think I’d be used to it but I was knackered. Luckily the talks were brilliant, one of the best years for author talks I can recall. The night was a grand affair but all I can say is thank Goddess for Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – I should have shares in that product!

The edit of the first 20 chapters of The Witches of Paris has returned from Selwa’s assistant Selena. Very exciting to see it sporting Selena’s post-it notes with their insightful comments. It makes me feel as if it’s really going to happen, that all these years of tapping into a computer and letting the characters work through me is finally going to produce a real book.

I’m still busy editing. I’ve now hit chapter 24, plus I’ve been getting stronger images and ideas for the next book, and beyond. I’m so happy. I have that beautiful ballet tulle and music flowing through me. I can’t wait for Yule and Daisy can’t wait for Sucker (her baby word for Santa) to come!

This year has had few happy moments, so to have an entire day of happiness was so special we took a photo to commemorate it. I’ll post more photos soon, including our happy family day shot.

Life is glorious. Life is good.

November 5

A Belated happy Beltane/All Hallows Eve.

Despite the beginning of deplorable daylight savings, I love October as it’s my birthday month and All Hallows always feels dark and special. I went out to celebrate All Hallows with Tim Hartridge’s coven. I’m becoming a regular at their little soirees. I drew the line at travelling on public transport dressed as a ghost or ghoul, however. It was amusing to see one of the coven arrive in her street clothes, run to the bathroom and emerge as a cute little witch. She told me she hadn’t wanted to walk through Redfern dressed like that. Quite.

It was a fun night; for me the highlight was the coven forming a big circle in front of the jazz band, joining hands to chant the Witches’ Rune. A couple of innocent drinkers at the bar who had just wandered in for a quiet cocktail were suddenly in a witches’ circle and totally cool and happy about it!

I also attended the last cocktail evening for the coven featuring an inspiring talk by Carole Chapman, an Alexandrian High Priestess who studied with Alex and Maxine Sanders in England. We were all quite enthralled by the talk she gave on those very exciting times in the UK. I could have listened to her all night. I adore Maxine Sanders!

This week I’ve sent my agent Selwa chapters 1-20 of The Witches of Paris. Only 15 chapters to edit and I’m done! The tale will be told. I really can’t believe that after four years I’m close to finishing. Selwa is really pleased with it and excited which is great. I’ll have to start doing more regular updates as I get nearer the finish mark.

This week I heard the welcome news I’ve shortlisted for the seventh year running in the annual Sisters in Crime writing competition. I didn’t expect to place – not that I ever really do – so I’m extremely chuffed to have made the final cut. It’s a nice year to be in the shortlist as Kerry Greenwood is giving a talk at the awards ceremony. We have a heap of bills at the moment, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can attend.

I’m extremely proud that both my stories – The Childrens’ Hour and Love me Tender – made the shortlist. One reason I didn’t expect to place was that the stories were both so dark AGAIN, and involve violence against children. The awards are on the day before my agent’s annual writing awards and talk day (the Sassy Day I call it). It will be a tight squeeze for me if I go.

We’ve finally decided not to do a major renovation on our house (as in add a storey). It will be totally overcapitalising for this street. Instead, we’ll do a smaller renovation and wait until the market improves and then sell. I’m a bit sad about that as I’m quite fond of our house despite its tiny size.

My father’s chemotherapy is now drawing to a close. He’s looking marvellous despite feeling terribly sick and losing all his hair. The good news is that he has managed to shrink the tumour and the doctors are hinting he could have years instead of the initial grim prognosis of months.

My sisters and I had to be tested for the H-Pylori bacteria that might be a link to this form of aggressive stomach cancer. A positive result of the H-Pylori is 200 and I had something like 9000, which required very strong antibiotics to kill them and I need another test in about a month. I dreamed I was holding a snake, and I said to a healer I knew many years ago, “I am now resigned to the fact that my father might die.” I truly don’t think that I am, however. Such a possibility is too awful to contemplate and I have to cross myself and make a little horned sign as I write this to ensure my words don’t make it true.

David spent a lovely few days on the Murray River in a luxury houseboat for a journalism job. I was incredibly envious of his descriptions of kayaking on the river at dawn, with only swans, hawks, cormorants and pelicans for company.

I had some lovely gifts for my birthday but my favourite things were two cards. One was from David with a photo of Daisy and me in the Botanical Gardens at the Spring Equinox. I’m showing her the lovely Diana statue and the look of wonder on her face is magic. In the other one my dad writes about how proud he is of my writing (I make the horned sign and the cross again).

I’m currently reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s a joy to read such an engrossing, classic tale. Very Daphne (my highest praise).

Did I mention we’re seeing The Wiggles in December? We read the distressing news this week that the ‘Yellow Wiggle’ has fallen ill and is fainting everywhere. Hopefully he will be up and wiggling again by December. I can hardly wait!

Fifteen chapters to go. The countdown begins…

September 10

The rain we’ve enjoyed in Sydney recently has been bliss. However this week was shadowed by the death of Steve Irwin. Only last weekend we were watching his TV show, laughing as he wore sunglasses to protect himself from a spitting cobra.

He was such an original soul – what a loss for the planet and wildlife, not to mention his family. I’ve felt terrible for Bindi, Bob and Terri. Since hearing of his death I’ve had an image in my head of a large stingray, gracefully gliding through a peaceful eternity. Steve just seemed too alive to die. Safe journey, Steve.

Last Tuesday night I went to a witches’ cocktail evening at L’adore in Darlinghurst (Sydney). Nuit’s Veil is a coven run by Tim Hartridge, a well-known Sydney witch, and the night is a get-together they organise for folk interested in witchy topics. They were a pretty interesting bunch – I always love hearing about people’s experiences of witchcraft. Speaking of witchy things, the full moon Friday night was divine. I did a ritual for my two Pisces and danced my little heart out in our courtyard under her.

Daisy and I travelled to Tasmania to visit Dad again. We were sent home after one night as he was too sick from the more intense chemotherapy he’s now on. His last scan results were good; the tumour was beginning to break up although the doctor was quick to point out it is not a cure. I haven’t given up on a miracle.

My editing is moving along; I’m roughly half way. Through all the upheaval of this year I still managed to send off my annual short story entries for the Scarlet Stiletto.

July 14 (Happy Bastille Day)

I’ve completed the first draft of The Witches of Paris. I’m already a third of the way through the edit, so it’s not too daunting. A little bit more research, then – voila! I’m very proud of myself for getting this far with so much happening.

Tasmania was beautiful. We stayed with my parents in Oatlands, which is at its best in winter. Frosty mornings; the village looking like the Bronte’s Haworth with its stone cottages and street-lamps; the lake superb with abundant birdlife. Very, very hard to see my father suffering from chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Awful. To watch somebody you love wasting in front of you… he has never looked more handsome, however – like an immaculate, loved old teddy bear as my sister described him.

I visited my grandmother’s grave at night – a bit spooky with mist around the old, isolated cemetery. There were sheep and lambs everywhere amidst the tombstones. Not exactly the most peaceful place with all the baaing! I could feel a presence – not malevolent, but I didn’t linger. I walked quickly back to lights and David. We read and ate heaps. My grandfather is the best cook in the world and loves to make delicious Skippy patties and Skippy stew (kangaroo).

It was very difficult to say goodbye to my father. Both of us wept and even my mother cried. My father and I are both very emotional people but it’s rare for my mother to show her emotions in public.

Daisy’s godmother returned from a trip to China with a life-size baby doll called ‘Bobbie’. It is the creepiest thing with this giggly cackle that goes off by itself. We took its batteries out because it was beginning to freak us out (not Daisy, who seems to regard it as her baby brother!).

Saw The Woman in Black at Sydney’s Theatre Royal. Didn’t expect it to match the long-running West End version but the acting was terrific. John Waters was excellent (and very handsome). The staging was a little better in the UK but still, very haunting. I couldn’t sleep that night for thinking about it.

David and I attended the Sydney launch of Kate Morton’s novel The Shifting Fog, braving a sea of grey-clad peak hour city workers with me resplendent in a mauve flapper dress and chook feather erect on head.

Upon arriving at the Maritime Museum, the first people we bumped into were Ian Irvine and his wife Anne. Kate Forsyth soon joined us, and Anna Romer and her brother-in-law. There was a little streak in a suit darting everywhere, too fast for me to get a good look, but I was told it was Kate’s adorable son, Oliver.

The venue was awash with serious glamour, 20s style. Kate’s publicist was stunning in white. Selena – Selwa’s assistant and fellow writer – was a glam flapper. Bessie Bardot looked divinely slinky. One woman from Allen & Unwin dressed in a man’s suit – loved her outfit. Belinda Alexandra looked very ’20s in a cute pink hat and outfit (but Belinda IS the 20s!). She can’t go wrong. Selwa – what can you say? She’s always chic (tonight in a long red tunic).

Kate looked feminine and beautiful in a black halter-necked Spanish-looking outfit. Tara Moss launched the book, saying it was great to see such classic stories written in Australia and sold overseas.

Kate spoke next, sharing her road to publication and the pressure she was under to finish the manuscript quickly.

Leigh Redhead showed up as I was in the signing queue clasping my new audio CD of The Shifting Fog. Happy timing – the launch was beginning to wind down and we decided to keep drinking. An expedition journeyed to a nearby winebar: me, David, Kate Forsyth, Leigh, Kate Morton, Davin and four of their friends from Brisbane. Everyone else wisely bailed out.

Looking at my two favourite Kates, I made a mental note to rub their bellies to get some luck. But I forgot – damn! Instead David and Kate F became engrossed in a philosophical rave about writing whilst Leigh and I became similiarly engrossed in a conversation about stiptease, burlusque, lap-dancing, Bunny’s Honeys, etc. I dimly remember mixing red wine and champagne in the same glass, thinking what a lovely colour it made.

In the morning I woke in my bed still in full evening dress and make-up. “Did you take off your shoes?” David asked. I had. I’d also carefully removed my feather and forgotten the rest.

To sum up, it was the most fun launch I’ve ever been to. Great people and atmosphere. You really felt you got to talk rather than just all that air-kiss stuff that can go on. As usual I took photos and we all looked fabbo and hot. I’ll post some in the website photo section soon.

After my usual hangover cure (lime-green milkshake – it never fails) I went back to the Maritime Museum for the Popular Writers Festival. Tara Moss and Leigh Redhead gave a hilarious talk. Highlights included Leigh’s assurance that after 300 Brazilian waxes, they no longer hurt. When researching characters, Leigh does a star sign analysis for them. Her baddies are always Geminis and Leos.

To get her minor characters, Tara does a Google Image search so she has a picture of them. Both work in a similar way to me in that they plot but then work organically.

Also saw Belinda Alexandra – always an inspiration. She spoke about keeping research focused (she uses a kitchen timer), and rewarding herself by pottering in the garden. Other advice: don’t discuss the work in progress too much or you will talk it totally away. When you finish writing for the day, spend 5-10 mins cleaning your office desk so you erect a barrier between the world of your imagination and your ‘real world’.

There’s nothing better than writing, reading or listening to other writers talk!

10 June

I’m 100 800 words in, so it’s in striking distance. I’ll post when I type “THE END”. It’s so near, I’m tasting it. Writing is a blessing in my life with everything happening. Solace. Communion.

We went to see the ballet Giselle at the opera house. It was so romantic, although sad.

I didn’t make it to some of the events I’d planned to see at The Sydney Writers’ Festival. With the shock of my dad’s cancer, some days I’m better than others. Neil Gaimain was witty, charming and very smooth. He said the cover of American Gods was designed before he’d written the book. It depicted a lightning bolt, so he thought he’d best stick one in the text! I also caught Elizabeth Kostova discussing The Historian and Naomi Wolf being interviewed by Caroline Baum.

In a lovely tweed mini, Elizabeth was slim, with good legs, and softer than she comes across in photos. She was very poised (I would be too if my first book sold for two million dollars!) and very eager to explain that The Historian was not a (gasp!) genre book but a serious literary work on the nature of historians rather than vampires. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural. It irks her when she turns up to signings and the bookstores are handing out fake fangs. One had a display of hundreds of garlic bulbs. She told an amusing story of a publisher who kept wanting to know if she believed in vampires despite her continued protests that she didn’t. When she went to the bathroom, she developed a nosebleed and it dripped on her collar. She had to spend the entire night trying to hide it from the publisher. EK did a beautiful reading of her first chapter. A very melodious voice. The Historian is in my must-read tower of books.

Naomi Wolf was ballsy, gutsy, articulate, high energy and dismissive of criticism. You get the impression she really believes totally in herself and her books and doesn’t care if other people don’t get her. She wore excellent shoes (man, great shoes) and had one of those curvy figures men love. Lovely eyes and skin. A great talk and interview about her various books and what has changed since she wrote them. For example, The Beauty Myth – things are worse now, she says, because the technology is worse and cosmetic treatments more available. Several women my age I’ve talked to recently have had botox and think nothing of it – and if they haven’t had it, they want it.

I love Naomi because she’s unafraid to say what is politically incorrect, eg her vision of Jesus. She had a great moment when she told the audience of mainly educated, well-heeled women that the work has been done, to stop whining and get on with it. The groundwork has been covered by the early feminists and it’s up to women themselves to just do it. It’s the Third World we need to concentrate on, where women are dying for lack of water. She’s just returned from India.

I attended another Drinklings event. A lot of fun. Kate Forsyth is a good drinking buddy and it was great to catch up with the other Drinklings like Stephanie and Richard. We met at Gertrude and Alive in Oxford Street, a lovely book-lined cellar/cafe. Great atmosphere.

My father’s chemotherapy went well; he’s now on radiotherapy. It’s a horrid time for all. My grandfather shows his caring by making him stews and taking them across for him. My mother continues to be the solid brick wall of support she always is.

If only five per cent of people survive this cancer, then he could be in that five per cent. Although he goes through enormous sadness at the thought of leaving us, he never feels sorry for himself. The ones he feels sorry for are the children who have cancer, the teenagers and the young mothers who fight this battle. I’ve been doing a lot of healing work, getting up at 4am etc. It’s very hard on him as he suffers from bipolar depression and has to combat that at the same time.

Suffering brings its own gifts. I’ve come to appreciate the small things that bring comfort. Rain. A warm drink. A good book. More intensely than ever before, I know how important the act of creation is to me. You find out who are your friends are and who are your good-time pals. Your eyes tear at the kindness from virtual strangers. Most of all, you are pushed violently into a more spiritual seeking. I had a very powerful Tarot reading by Kala Trobe in England which helped me enormously. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating. I know there will be enormous changes and growth for me on the spiritual planes soon.

So much has happened since I began The Witches of Paris. Hecate has been such a heavy presence in my life. I could never have predicted she would be so close to me. I’ve always loved Hecate, she’s one of my favourites but this year she has really put me through it. A priest said to me recently, ‘Don’t attempt to carry the cross. Carry a splinter of the cross.” Now, I break the cross into small pieces, and the days, the nights, the winter is more bearable.

12 May

I’m nearing the end of The Witches of Paris. All was good with my world. Social events lined up, a trip to Hamilton Island looming, my book almost wrapped up. Then an angel with a flaming sword walked into my house, stabbing me through the heart. No warning. No hello. Blazing everything from under me.

I knew when my sister phoned my mobile she wasn’t calling to tell me the miners were out. I knew it would be bad news, and it was indeed about as bad as it could be. My father was diagnosed, on a routine check-up, with a very aggressive stomach cancer. They have given him anything from months to a year.

Time has lost all meaning. There is no solace to be found in life anymore. The angel followed me all week, stabbing and burning and the pain and sadness is beyond anything I could have believed. I’m doing healing and prayer work till late at night, asking everybody I know to include my father in their magical rituals or in their prayers. I believe a miracle can happen if enough people pray. I sent my father vihbuti ash from India that I had here at home. David sent him tapes and books from the Ian Gawler Foundation.

Life has become miserable beyond words. I had no idea grief could be as painful and shattering. It’s like birth. Until you experience it, you can’t contemplate it. Nothing matters any more. Even if The Witches of Paris was the biggest seller in the world, it means sod all if my father is not there to witness it. It’s little consolation that the angel waits for us all, because I want my father to stay with us now. I want him to see Daisy grow up into the beautiful girl and woman she will become.

Before the fiery angel, David and I went on a rare night out to see the French singer Francoiz Breut at Newtown RSL. Francoiz was very cute in the way the French are. Petite, black mini skirt, charming broken English and big dark eyes. The audience loved her.

Warning: rant coming up! Gig pigs are alive and thriving. There has been some internet and radio debate about what happened at Francoiz’s show and whether a handful of selfish pigs were right to stand up in front of a seated audience and block their view. Well I don’t care how cool they clearly thought they were, they prevented a lot of people seeing and enjoying the show with their rudeness. I’ve been to many gigs where everybody gets up and bops to the music, but Francoiz’s music is soooo laid back, it’s turtle time, and 99% of the audience chose to enjoy it seated. None of the pigs were there to dance, anyway. They could have stood at the back, as many people politely pleaded with them to do. I was delighted when a giant guy (my hero) grabbed two pigs as if to bang their heads together, but unfortunately security stopped him.

I am really over the rudeness of people. At the same gig, a lass on crutches asked to sit down and was turned away by another species of pig hogging lounge chairs. I offered her a seat next to us. Crutches! If we can’t help our wounded birds, what sort of society are we? We’ve become a city of rats gnawing at each other. These nasty rat-pigs are everywhere. Talking on their mobiles in cinemas, not giving pregnant women a seat on the bus. I could rant on and on.

At least the gig pigs gave us a good laugh later. They were so comically pathetic, bleating loudly about their right to be pigs and cowering when understandably frustrated people abused them. Some people fight to stand at a concert and ruin other people’s view. Other people fight to live.

14 April

Happy Eostre to all.

This week I attended a book launch for my friend Lyn. I went with my agent which was brilliant as it’s always good to see her and have a chat about what’s happening in the publishing world. You can become quite isolated when you’re at home everyday working on your book.

Lyn’s launch was at Balmoral – a harbourside suburb of Sydney I’d never been to before. It’s very beautiful and serene with grand historic houses by the water. The moon was nearly full. I was shocked to see most of the mansions didn’t have security windows and doors. After years of inner-city living you tend to forget some people don’t need to live in fortresses to protect themselves from junkies.

I know I keep saying this but I’ll be revamping my photos gallery soon and I’ll post a couple of pics of the launch. If you’re a mother, or need a gift for a mother, the book is Intuitive Mothering by Lyn McPherson. It’s a very spiritual book and an interesting read.

I had another research-intensive week, heading back to my notebooks to complete a scene. I’m just beginning to start wrapping up the characters; it’s tempting to race to get to the end. I’m trying to pace myself and feel the rhythm of the book. I’ll be working on it as much as I can this Eostre.

A gorgeous full moon tonight. I think I’ll definitely get off this computer and do one of my little rituals to her.

01 April

March was hectic with Daisy and David’s birthdays. I swear Louis XIV wouldn’t have had as much fuss as Daisy turning one! We had three celebrations for her, the highlight a combined party-barbecue for my two Ds on Shark Island. There were approx 25 adults plus small people; the planning for this bonanza equalled the Commonwealth Games. The night before I was up virtually all night making salads. Potato salad, cous-cous salad, carrot/peanut salad, Asian salad, Greek salad, rice salad, raw salad… I can’t bear to look a lettuce leaf in its face for awhile.

Some days exceed your hopes, dreams and visons – Shark Island was one of those days. If you live in Sydney, I beg you to visit this harbour island (20 minute ferry ride). Very atmospheric with million-dollar views of mansions and the spectacular city skyline. A massive bonus – we had the island to ourselves for most of the day. It was really lovely to watch the people we care about enthuse over a part of Sydney that nearly all of us had never been to. Glorious! I felt as if I was a character in an Enid Blyton book. Shark Island! It’s such an exciting image.

Daisy received so many presents that our terrace resembles a toyshop. However some of her favourite things are the label on a Disney toy, any fluff or dirt on the floor, the cat’s tail – and books. Any books or reading material, she’s not fussy. She will read a New Idea as happily as her baby books, or a newspaper or phone directory.

We’ve been trying to organise our cluttered terrace lately before the renovators arrive. One job we’ve put off for years is putting the prints up from our overseas trips. We just had a print of Dickens’ Dream framed and hung in the office, which is from the Charles Dickens house in London. (Just typing that makes me long to be back there.) You might know it: Dickens sits in a chair contemplating/dozing, while around him half-finished are a myriad of characters from his writings. I’ve always loved it. You could do worse than Dickens as your muse. He hangs between two prints of Jean Cocteau from Menton, France. Cocteau is one of my great loves, introduced to me by David. One of our earliest dates was to see the Cocteau film La Belle Et La Bete. As I sat watching that old black-and-white magical version of Beauty and the Beast which I’ve seen many times over the years now, I knew David and I had to be soulmates.

The last week has been a quieter writing week than usual. I spent some of it looking at my plot for the last section of the book, and re-read my notebooks to study 17th-century medical techniques. David was reworking Tour To Hell, his convict escape mythology book. I re-read a few chapters for him. I also started reading the proof copy of fellow Selwa author Kate Morton’s new book, The Shifting Fog, which is wonderful. If you like evocative, elegant storytelling (think Brideshead Revisted crossed with Daphne du Maurier), I recommend Kate’s book. I’m loving it. I have several books wailing to be read but I’m saving them up for our holidays. Treasure Islands by Pamela Stephenson is for Hamilton Island, along with letters of Daphne du Maurier . I seem to be mad about islands at the moment! Pig Island by Mo Hayder and an Ian Rankin will be later in the year on another break. One of the great joys of holidays to me is planning my books. I always have to take two in case I finish the first one or it disappoints. I’m such a bookworm.

It’s now 6am and the birds are singing on a Saturday morning. I was up at 5am to try to get some writing done before Miss Daisy awoke but have become distracted with my journal. Wishing you all many happy reading and writng hours. Happy April. A pinch and a punch to you all.

March 5

Sitting here with sopping wet hair before going out to look at yet another house we can’t afford. At least I know I’m not alone in my housing woes. The part of Sydney where I live has recently been declared as having the most depressed people in Australia!

The Tate Gallery in London has the most brilliant exhibition on until 1 May – Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination. Oh, it would be so wonderful to catch this! We saw a lovely Pre-Raphaelite show there years ago which was lush, but this one is gorgeous. The Tate website has the details and Fortean Times published a feature article about it in their March Issue. We are planning a trip to Hamilton Island but I’d love to divert to London to catch these works!

We saw the Pissarro show last week. I’m a fool to forget what last days are like at the AGNSW. Imagine a sardine in a can complete with pram and squealing baby and and that was me. Some lovely paintings, mostly obscured by backs of heads. The rural scenes took me back to France. I miss France so much – at least I get to revisit her through The Witches of Paris.

Everything is different with this book. I’ve decided books are like births. You have your birth plan but in the finish you just to go with the flow of the labour. I used to work very fast, belting out the first draft in a few months then editing for about a year. This time I work very slowly, editing as I go. I’m nibbling my way through this book with such finesse compared to my lusty feasting on my other books. I interrogate my characters more. I used to trust them to know what they were doing. Now I need to know that anything they do or say has a purpose, a meaning. I’m more strict as mother/creator. This is a different labour; a very different child. Once again, though, like all books, it’s about surrender. Once the process starts, you can’t go back. You have to trust.

February 17th

I’m so exhausted but relieved to an indecent degree. FINALLY I have got my edit off to Selwa. I was only editing seven chapters but it seemed like the most mammoth edit I’ve ever done. Those seven teeny chapters took one month exactly. Editing with an eleven-month-old baby is a bit more of a challenge than BD days. I was lucky to get to bed before 1am most nights and Daisy has recently decided 3am is a good time to party.

Editing is an intense journey; you have to click your brain into a different space than when you’re creating. I find it difficult to discipline myself to wringing out every word, examining it, trying to spot lazy writing. I tend to get so excited with all my ideas I just want to get them down and move onto the next book. David has quite a good image which helped me a lot and that’s to imagine each piece I’m editing as brushstrokes and what mood/overall canvas I’m trying to create.

Selwa now holds that part of my life known as Chapters Six to Twelve in her hands. I now have to throw myself back into the rest of the book. I’m coming up to the 100,000 mark. This is one of the hardest places for me when writing – the end is near, but not quite near enough. I just have to keep myself as focused as I can through all the chaos of doctor appointments, party-planning, house-hunting, builders.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. I love Saturdays when we have some family time together. We are taking Daisy to the Pissarro exhabition at the AGNSW. David is going to see Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd talk tomorrow night which should be exciting.

Rhondda the clever girl has done a few little changes to the website. You’ll probably be able to spot them. In the next couple of weeks I will be putting up a new photo gallery for those interested.

Finally saw The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I think my expectations were too high as I loved the book so much. The witch was good. Lucy was cute as a button. Aslan was my problem. He was too effeminate for me – I couldn’t handle Liam’s voice in that lion!

January 21st

We buried my grandmother on Monday. It was like being at Princess Diana’s funeral. There had never been a funeral as big for any woman in the midlands Tasmanian town I grew up in. The church was full and there were speakers for all the people standing outside to listen, which was incredibly touching. She had so many flowers that her coffin looked like something from an ancient Queen’s fairytale wedding. She is buried in the old Catholic cemetery where I spent many a happy hour playing over the years. I met loads of relatives I didn’t know I had and some of them had even bought and read my books! I can remember Nanny tried to read my books before my mother took them off her because of the angel anal sex scenes. We had to look out for old Nanny, she was a true lady. Not like her grandchildren obviously.

I was hit with a double whammy this week as my long time friend didn’t have his heart transplant after all. He died, making a conscious choice to remove himself from his life support. This was a very sobering death for me. He was only 46 and left behind 4 beautiful children and an incredible wife. I’ve had the privilege of knowing this family for over 20 years and the last 16 were a battle for them with my friend’s illness. He fought the good fight but got sick of fighting in the end. Health is everything. It’s scary when you see terrible things happen to really good people and you can’t make sense of the movie.

I’m currently editing earlier chapters of The Witches of Paris. Selwa, my agent, phoned yesterday and loves what I’ve done! She was really enthusiastic about the first five chapters and wants to see more.

We’re househunting at the moment, so things are hectic as always. The Sydney real-estate prices are so expensive I could weep. We have found a possible with an office space that would probably enclose our entire house.

To my lovely reader who wrote from Austria. The deaths this week put me behind, but I haven’t forgotten you. It’s just the greatest to get letters from overseas when I’m not published overseas. It’s nice to know the books have made it abroad on their own steam.

The HorrorScope website has an interview up with me if you’re interested. They’ve been running weekly interviews with dark fiction writers and there’s been some fascinating reading.

Take Care. Appreciate your health and loved ones and keep writing x

January 13th

I’m so behind with my wordcount for TWOP. I am now doing in a week what I used to be able to do in a day! Frustration all the way.

I flew to Tasmania with Daisy to visit my grandmother on her deathbed. I still can’t believe she has gone. Life seems quite different without my pretty Nanny. She was a fighter and defied the doctors by refusing to go into that dark night. It gave me great solace that she got to see my cheeky daughter again. A large photo of Daisy was on her hospital wall and my aunts were kind enough to put it into her coffin. It helps me a lot to know Daisy is with her as she makes that final journey.

Another old friend is very sick and may have to have a heart transplant. It’s been a mad start to the year.

Trying to put all this aside and re-enter the skins of my characters is difficult. I’m writing very stilted dialogue and because I’m roughly three-quarters of the way through my book it’s a bit like being stuck in the birth canal. Writing can be so painful. Time is my constant enemy.

David and I saw the JB Priestley play An Inspector Calls last night which was pretty stunning. A great set and some very eerie, funny, poignant moments.

I’ll probably fly back to Tasmania this week for my Nanny’s funeral and then throw myself into the book and househunting. Writing, although painful at times, is also my great healer.

I cannot wait for the first draft to be down. Then I’ll relax.

How I love Tasmania. I miss her light, her historic houses. The food always tastes so yummy there. I found myself breathing from my diaphragm instead of the shallow breathing you automatically do in Sydney. The weather was gorgeously cold. They even had gale force winds one day and I just sat inside watching the winds whip the lake outside my parents’ house. I’m so glad I escaped the Sunday that was 46 degrees in Sydney.

Happy Friday the 13th. May the full moon tomorrow night bring you peace, good health and balance.