She gave me a lifelong love of reading, writing, Cornwall, mysteries. Her books were loved over thirty years later by my own daughter who wanted stories (not to be lectured to on worthy topics). So bored with all the Cancel puritans judging artists from a previous time on current thinking and mores. My own Poet’s Cottage book was inspired by Enid Blyton’s two daughters having varying accounts of their childhood.
I recently began re-reading Five On A Treasure Island and was instantly transported back to Kirrin Island, shipwrecks, secret maps and castle ruins. Thrilling stuff!
I love our new life in the Blue Mountains. Waking to a heavy veil of silence, the air so crispy-fresh that I can feel my lungs celebrate when I inhale, desperate after years of inner-city living to consume the sparkling prana. I love the school run where strangers smile hello and artistic-looking parents in paint-smeared jeans drop artistic-looking children.
Birdsong permeates the village and in one day several seasons can pass and I love them all. I walk everywhere marvelling over big kookaburras and the sound of lawn mowers instead of aeroplanes overhead. The smell of freshly cut grass.
After so many years of talking about moving to the country, we fled Sydney. Developers taking over our street and the towering apartment blocks were squashing us. I felt sadness watching a lot of the working artists’ studios closing as the apartments mushroomed. An ongoing bullying case at my daughter’s school – too many toxic environmental pollutants in the air and toxic situations. Life is too fragile to keep trying to make the intolerable work. We fled hurriedly, like characters in a fairytale, leaving behind my roses, writing shed, our good friends, but knowing it was time.
I wanted my daughter to enjoy the childhood I had been privileged to have: a small village with chimney smoke fire and ethereal mist. A village where the trees stand guard and healthy-looking children are surrounded by the changing seasons and a caring community. I wanted her to run free in the woods and not become part of the concrete dragon we had escaped. Without my Tasmanian midlands childhood, I could never have written Poet’s Cottage.
I wanted Daisy at ten to have that depth of life experience. I was weary of smog and bringing in washing streaked black from plane fuel. The air felt as if it was choking our family and our life.
On the Taurus Scorpio Full Moon, we settled the sale of our house. The date was my birthday, 27 October, which was a mystical synchronicity to my family and rounded our city time perfectly, for the day we settled the purchase, all those years ago, was also 27 October. I see our current home in the mountains as a gift from the universe.
I know this velvet silence will bring my current book to life. I delight in sitting on my new deck, listening to the sound of birds and watching ladybirds and butterflies as I write.
Blackheath Rhododendron Festival Queen for 2015 Eleni Vergotis
Being among the trees and gazing upon the panoramic mountain views feels like returning home. We now live in a village I have been escaping to for years and which I used as inspiration for my mystery novel, Currawong Manor.
On my last visit here, I literally felt roots from my feet grow deep into the soil and spread outwards. I knew the time must be approaching that we would find our mountain home . Shortly afterwards, we did find her. She is a grand old mountains lady, a 1920s character weatherboard and I feel a deep joy every day to have finally, after so many years of yearning, to have become a part of this village and country life.
Normally never a summer lover, I hanker for misty mornings, gloomy rainy days and snow. But this year I cast aside my Scorpionic affinities for winter and embraced Summer. Throughout the holiday break we didn’t leave Sydney and although I sighed wistfully when viewing friends’ social media accounts of their holidays abroad, I enjoyed the hush in the streets surrounding our inner-city home – a break from the constant jackhammering on the building site next door. Instead we embraced more peaceful streets that looked like they belonged in the 1950s, and a half-empty shopping mall. Throughout the lethargic summer days there was time to plan the year ahead and explore Sydney’s breathtaking beaches. A new favourite this year was Bundeena and also Cronulla. I loved this area where a vibrant mix of cultures gathered to escape the heat wave and enjoy the spectacular views of the popular surfing beaches.
The school year is now well under way and my life is filled with notices, appointments, homework and in the midst of the whirl – writing my new book. I’m really enjoying crafting this mystery which once again examines the ripple effect of murder across three different time periods in a Tasmanian village. My agent is happy with the early chapters she has read.
Daisy writing at Cronulla
Mercury Retrograde has ended and with its departure heralded welcome news from Spain. I adore Poet’s Cottage’s poetic and Cocteau sounding Spanish translation – La Casa del Poeta. The cover is one of my favourite interpretations – so atmospheric and really conveys the story. I hope La Casa del Poeta is enjoyed in Spain. It’s always a joy to think of my Tasmanian murder mystery being read in different countries.
Tomorrow we will spend five days on the Great Barrier Reef. With no technology for distraction I’m taking only a notebook, books to embrace the endless blue sky and sea. I can’t wait to feel sand beneath my feet and see some baby turtles being born. I’m packing here a massive amount of flowers for my hair, tarot and Angel cards – all the essentials!
Thank you for visiting and I wish you creative and magical days.
‘Though a great deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.’
– Thomas Hardy
As I write this on a sunny day in Sydney with dappled light showering our inner-city street, cicadas competing with the traffic noise and overhead planes, gum trees a wash of green against a brilliant blue sky, Angelina Jolie has just finished directing a scene near our house for her new movie Unbroken.
Regular readers will know my fascination with comparative religions. The reason I’m so excited that Hollywood has come to our area is that Angelina is directing a scene in my local church. This church is a big part of our family and has formed the fabric of our lives here for the last decade. My daughter was baptised there and before my father died, he flew over to give me away in my Alice in Wonderland meets Carnaby Street wedding.
Unbroken being filmed at our local church
In an area bursting with the politically correct/hipster crowd, the church has been a sanctuary to me for years. I’ve seen it go through many changes and several priests, but the current priest has been my favourite for many reasons. The reason I mention Angelina is that it’s proof of how life can bring unexpected twists and miracles in ways you can’t imagine. And how ‘real life’ can be stranger than fiction and any movie. For years we’ve battled with church costs (the roof fell in a few years ago) and in one swoop – thanks to Angelina – those costs have been considerably bumped down. But I could never have expected that’s who would have fixed our church roof. Not even my imagination would have dreamt that scenario.
Extras in period costume cross the street for Unbroken
My daughter went to school yesterday morning with a little piece of paper in her pocket, for an autograph in the unlikely event she bumped into Angelina. She walked past crowds of extras dressed in period costume and the big movie lights trying to spot one person. (She loves her because she has tattoos.) We are relieved that this small brush of celebrity is with a person as inspiring as Angelina. It is heartening to point out photographs of Angelina and Brad dressed up for movie premieres, but then also be able to talk about her humanitarian work and how she has used celebrity and her beauty and talent as a force of good in the world. Everyone that had contact with her raved about how unpretentious, down-to-earth and friendly she was. I was also very delighted to see on the weekend in Sydney she went shopping with her children and bought books from local bookshops – a reminder to all to buy BOOKS this Christmas. As Christopher Marley said: ‘When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink and glue. You give him the possibility of a whole new life.’
And so Angelina Jolie is our little Christmas miracle and if you see Unbroken, know that the church in it has been my oasis of quiet contemplation for the last decade of my inner-city life.
The beautiful and inspiring Angelina Jolie
I have finished my edit of Currawong Manor.
On Monday, 2nd December at 12.30 am I pressed the send button and Currawong Manor went across the city back to Pan Macmillan. I felt enormously depleted, emotional and empty. I’ve loved working with my artists for so long and it’ s always hard to let go of my characters. I’ve spent years in their company. I feel so empty without them all and wonder if anyone will care for them. Where do these characters come from? They come. Sometimes quickly, but sometimes they are furtive and hide themselves behind other characters. Or they are too coy to appear at once, and you know they will come another time and book.
You spend years with the ones that do appear. You grow to know them more intimately than you do most of your neighbours, and friends.
And then they are gone. Released with the SEND button to a waiting editor and publisher in an office across the city and you are left alone, crying with exhaustion and wondering why you push yourself through so much for so many years to meet a being who is as real as a dream.
Divine madness has descended for years – if you are lucky – and then it moves on and you are left feeling abandoned by your own creation.
You sit and wait and hope the muse will bring you another story. You wait and ache and start to spin the web.
I’ve now begun work on my new web. and loving feeling the new characters appear.
Poet’s Cottage continues its tour around Europe and here is the beautiful cover from Dutch publishers HERE Fingers crossed that the Dutch will enjoy my Tasmanian sea-fishing murder mystery. It never fails to excite me to think that our family holiday inspired a book that is now selling internationally.
I also attended the New South Wales SWITCH Library Awards dinner at the Star Room in Darling Harbour, sponsored by Bolinda Audio alongside some of my agent’s authors. Here is a photo of writing friends Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis.
Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis
I travelled to Melbourne for the Sisters in Crime annual Scarlet Stiletto Awards. I can’t enter anymore as I’ve won two shoes (the legal limit!) so this was my first year as a judge. Congratulations to all shortlisted entries and to the winners. You can find a full list of winners HERE.
This evening was the 20th Anniversary of Sisters in Crime at the boho glam Thornbury Theatre and so I was delighted to be a part of the celebrations. Angela Savage wrote a lovely article on the history of the red shoe, A Dagger With A Difference, which you can read HERE.
image via Sisters in Crime
The beautiful and talented Essie Davis was the host and guest speaker. You may know her as Phryne Fisher in Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, or from many other wonderful parts she has played. I remember Essie from our Hobart days at Rosny College together and so it was a joy to be able to connect with her again. In the photo below you can see her hugging me.
Sisters in Crime with Essie Davis on far right
When Tasmanian girls reunite
Essie was always a person you knew would be Someone. She claims she was a dag at Rosny but I can vouch she was always super-cool and super-talented. I was also pleased to have the chance to hand her a copy of Poet’s Cottage as when Pearl Tatlow came to me, I often daydreamed over the years if Poet’s Cottage was ever made into a movie, Essie would be perfect to play Pearl. Yes, I know that seems like big dreams, but if Angelina Jolie can pay for our church roof, I can believe in big dreams and miracles. And on that note – I wish for you all the big dreams, miracles and surprising twists in your life that you could NEVER have imagined in the season of light ahead.
And it wouldn’t be a Christmas blog post on Tale Peddler without a gratuitous Johnny Depp photograph.
Thank you for visiting me. Here is the divine Mediaeval Baebes with the glorious We Three Kings.
Love, Light and Peace. May you find the best of the Holy Season within your own heart.
I love September, as in the Southern Hemisphere, we are in Spring. The Sydney air seems to pulsate joy and magical possibilities. I’m on another editing deadline for Currawong Manor, and so updating my blog before I lose myself too much into the threads of my Blue Mountains artists. The rose ladies in my courtyard garden are putting on a colourful, flashy display and creative ideas for more projects are also flowering within me.
I attended the Davitt Awards in Melbourne this month, for which Poet’s Cottage shortlisted. Although I didn’t collect an award, I had an excellent night with my Sisters in Crime and was thrilled to be a part of the audience when Kerry Greenwood received her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to all Sisters in Crime below who took out major awards.
Lifetime Achievement Award Kerry Greenwood
Adult Fiction Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
True Crime The Waterlow Killings (Pamela Burton, Victory)
Children’s and Young Adult Fiction The Tunnels of Tarcoola (Jennifer Walsh, Allen & Unwin)
Best Debut Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
Reader’s Choice Award Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man (Kerry Greenwood, NewSouth).
Josephine Pennicott and David Levell
Ian Irvine and Traci Harding
Traci Harding and Josephine Pennicott
I also attended my agent Selwa Anthony’s annual Sassy Awards, always an interesting event. Here are a few snaps from the evening. Unfortunately, I had an infected eye which kept me from rocking the dance floor, but it was fun to catch up with long-time writing friends such as Belinda Alexandra, Ian Irvine, Traci Harding, Stephen Irvine, Anna Romer, Richard Harland. Writing in isolation, the Sassies are a reminder that you’re not working alone, and you are in fact, connected to a larger industry web. Along with an infected eye, Scorpio in Saturn wasn’t benevolent to me. After a few wines with friends, I managed to drop a cup of tea on my laptop. Disaster! Here is a shot of my beloved, covered in rice in a vain attempt to absorb the moisture.
Polka dot posers at Luna Park
View from Luna Park
If you are ever suffering from the blues and live in Sydney, I recommend an outing to Luna Park. Take your real child, or your inner-child, and inhale all the exuberant energy and joy that to me represents Sydney. The location by the sparkling harbour ensures your senses are constantly assailed by gaiety and brilliant scenic blue views.
The adrenaline rush you get from the rides ensures you don’t have time to waste worrying over trivia – you are only concerned with surviving the next ten minutes.
I have to concede that if you have a fear of heights like yours truly, braving the Ferris Wheel in gale winds is probably not perfect timing to teach your daughter about facing fears.
I made the trek to Luna Park (and risked my spine on the Tango Dancer and Spider) as I have a brief scene in Currawong Manor featuring the iconic Sydney location.
Back to my edit for Currawong Manor. And if you are around for the Newtown Festival, I am appearing with Kate Forsyth in the Writers Tent. More information on that event HERE. Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative and keep sparkling. xx
I was delighted, astounded and totally gobsmacked to discover yesterday that Poet’s Cottage has made the shortlist for the annual Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards.
I wasn’t expecting to make the cut because the formidable 61-book longlist was filled with some amazing talent. But I’m so happy to see Poet’s Cottage shortlisted along with serial-Davitt winner/writing pal Katherine Howell, Sulari Gentill, Caroline Overington, Kathryn Fox, Norelle M Harris, Maggie Groff and Malla Nunn. I’m very thrilled to see my Tasmanian sea-fishing murder mystery alongside such talented Sisters in Crime. Including my old mate, Jen Storer with her Truly Tan book in the Young Adult/Children’s section. My eight year old, Daisy when I told her Truly Tan was nominated, said with a sympathetic expression, ‘Your book will NEVER beat her.’ You can always count on your tribe to cut you down to size. You can see the full shortlist HERE
When I first heard the news, I had to go for a run to calm down. A day later I’m still sitting with a grin wider than Luna Park.
I was transported back to Stanley, Tasmania, where the wild sea wind and spectacular scenery inspired the story of Poet’s Cottage. I still hear the faint sounds of Pearl’s gramophone playing, feel the cold sea breeze blow Birdie’s hair, and hear the stomp of the Bindi-Eye Man as he treads through Thomasina’s memory trailing damp, rotten seaweed in his wake.
I’m always happy that people have enjoyed reading the tale that whispered itself to me and has clung like the Tasmanian sea-mist for so many years. They were lovely characters to explore and I’m delighted they have made it to the Davitts.
I have included an image I love of Daphne du Maurier outside Menabilly, her sea-fishing ‘cottage’ that inspired Manderley from Rebecca (it’s from the book Daphne du Maurier At Home by Hilary Macaskill) and photos of my own trip to Stanley near the Tasmanian sea. It brings me such joy that local book clubs have gone to Stanley to discover the inspirations that inspired Poet’s Cottage.
Thank you for visiting me and may your story find you. xx
I’ve returned from the mountains after a blissful week with my family. I roughed out some early drafts for my current mystery novel, which is an idea I’ve nursed for a couple of years. I have a title for this one and some early images, so feel very optimistic. My agent was also keen on the idea, so that’s coming together nicely. The mountains was a haven of winter sunlight, air spiked with goodness and the beauty of peace. It’s shocking to experience how differently you feel when your senses aren’t bombarded by constant traffic and aircraft. We bushwalked, slept a lot, read in front of the stove fire, explored the antique shops and it was all heaven. I also caught up with a couple of friends in the mountains including Kim Wilkins aka Kimberley Freeman who was on a research trip for a forthcoming book. It was very difficult to return to the city and the abruptness of a new school term.
I’m currently working on a coming-of-age novel that I’ve been tinkering around with for several years. I am very much in love with this project.
I’ve been reading a lot and catching up on books I’ve had on my ‘to-read’ list. The Somnambulist, a truly wonderful Gothic Victorian mystery by Essie Fox. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, Citadel by Kate Mosse and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I do plan to do some proper reviews when I get a chance. I’m getting very behind with my reviews for Australian Women Writers.
I’m pleased to see Poet’s Cottage is on the long list for the Davitt Awards for mystery and crime writing. Even more thrilled to see the list had a record number of entries. 63 books have been nominated this year which is a statement that mystery and crime writing is booming in Australian publishing.
And I’m also thrilled to know that book clubs are enjoying Poet’s Cottage. When I get a chance I’m planning on creating a website with a book club section. I was contacted on my Author Facebook page this week by a lovely lady who is taking a walking tour to Stanley this weekend as her book club is reading the book in the nearby town of Wynyard. I couldn’t think of a more spectacular back drop for a book club meeting.
I love this recent Vogue cover featuring Sofia Coppola. Sofia was one of the inspirations behind my character Elizabeth, a photographer in the present-day thread of Currawong Manor. I needed somebody who was powerful, but in a gentle, soothing type of way. I’m a big fan of all of Sofia Coppola’s movies.
I finally caught up with The Great Gatsby (probably the last person in Sydney to see it). I saw it with Artschool Annie and we both relished the painterly interpretation that Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin brought to the book. It made me feel like re-reading The Great Gatsby.
And thank you to all who entered my Giveaway both here and on Facebook. It is now past the full moon and so as promised I have drawn a winner. Congratulations ROBYN JONES. Please PM me your address and I shall post your books to you.
Johnny Depp meeting Dr Gayle Dine’ Chacon from the Navajo nation while filming The Lone Ranger
Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative. I hope you enjoyed the full moon period. It’s a favourable time to rid yourself of everything holding you back from achieving your dreams.
Popping in quickly with my edit nearly due for Currawong Manor to show you the beautiful new cover Ullstein in Germany have designed for Dornentochter (Poet’s Cottage). Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve been incredibly blessed with three editions of Dornentochter. They all reveal a different dimension to the book and I love them all. I’m very grateful to all who have worked on the books and to everyone in Germany who has purchased a copy of my Tasmanian mystery.
I was overjoyed to see this in my email box – Dornentochter on the Spiegel list for Bestsellers. It doesn’t seem real to see my name so close to the other acclaimed authors! My reality is – racing towards this deadline, school-drop offs, a sick daughter, juggling activities etc.
Of course, I’m delighted because it shows people love to read books set in Australia by Australian authors.
The recent panel I did with Sisters in Crime in Melbourne attracted publicity in both papers in Tasmania – the Launceston Examiner and also the Hobart Mercury, which is featuring Poppy Gee, Livia Day and moi in this Saturday’s arts colour supplement. So happy to be in that supplement as I’ve read it for years. My mother collects them all for me and when I go home, I inevitably bring a mass of clippings back to Sydney. I love reading about people in the arts scene down there or mainlanders doing sea and tree-changes in Tasmania. Once I’m through the edit, I’ll try to organise jpegs of the interviews for this blog.
Thank you to all my gracious Facebook friends who have already commented about the Spiegel Bestseller list and also a gentle reminder about my giveaway – details below. I shall draw a lucky winner from my Magic Hat when I finish my deadline.
I hope the recent Super Moon brought to you all you truly need and desire from your life. My partner, David Levell is going diving with whales this week. I shall miss him very much. He is always such a great support and wonderful to bounce ideas around for different characters and their motivations. It is wonderful to live with another writer because they understand when you are abstracted or ‘off with the fairies.’
Thank you for visiting me. Back to my edit. xx
This was a fun night and it was so great to finally meet Poppy and Livia and to be reunited with the Sisters in Crime of Melbourne.
Sisters in Crime, Lindy Cameron, Carmel Shute and Josephine Pennicott
For the evening I read Poppy and Livia’s books and they are both excellent although different in style and setting. All three books are set in Tasmania which is what inspired our panel . Livia’s A Trifle Dead is set in urban and hip Hobart and is a really funny and gripping read. And Poppy’s book is set on the stunningly beautiful East Coast of Tasmania and describes the ripple effect amongst a small community when the body of a dead girl is washed ashore.
Josephine Pennicott with Amanda Wrangles and Leigh Redhead
We discussed Tasmania as Muse, our own childhoods in Tasmania, some well-known murder cases in Tasmania and how our books were inspired by the landscape. We also touched on motherhood and writing and how difficult it can be to produce work when you also want to be there for your children. Thank you to the audience who braved a chill winter’s evening to hear us speak and also to Sisters in Crime for inviting me to be part of the event. I have shared a few photographs taken at the night on my Instagram. There are two Sisters in Crime in particular the beautiful Leigh Redhead and Amanda Wrangles who always seem to bring out my inner trout pout. Amanda Wrangles is the talented artist behind the beautiful cards in the photo. They are not included in the giveaway but I couldn’t resist showing them off.
But – back to the giveaway. I’m sure you have guessed it by now…
One person will win a signed copy of our three books and so a complete set of Something Rotten in the Apple Isle books. This competition is open world wide and so if you’re overseas and have been longing for a print version of one of our books you now have a chance to win ALL THREE. It makes a unique and lovely gift for the crime and mystery reader in your life.
And it’s super easy to enter! To be eligible to win – either do one of the following:
leave a comment below this post to let me know you would like to be placed in my Magic Sorting Hat
leave a comment on my personal or Author Facebook page
leave a comment on my Twitter message regarding the giveaway
leave a comment on my Good Reads giveaway. (As soon as I figure out how to work a Good Reads giveaway.)
AND if you SHARE the competition on your social networking sites and let me know you have shared, you get an extra chance!
AND every week when I remind if you SHARE AGAIN you get an extra chance in my Magic Sorting Hat.
I have loads of things I want to blog about including my impressions of the Sydney Writers’ Festival but for now back to the edit.
Wishing you all a Happy Easter Season. I will be in my garden writing shed for most of it as I have a tight deadline to meet with Currawong Manor.
But before I turn off my computer I wanted to share with you the beautifully dark and dramatic paperback version of Dornen Tochter (Poet’s Cottage) in Germany. I love it so much. I’ve been most fortunate with all my covers because I couldn’t be more thrilled with all of them.
I plan on cutting back my blogging to once a month unless really huge news happens or for my book reviews as I really need to submerge myself fully into the world of my books.
So roughly around the time of the full moon I shall be updating.
Thank you for visiting me.