Winter Solstice in Sydney

A most frustrating week.

On the weekend I travelled again to the mountains, obeying the bush call to research and write. That was the high point.

My computer ate a bad frog and had to be rushed to the machine doctor AGAIN.

We had teacher’s day at my daughter’s school, athletics carnival and all the life interruptions that make it difficult for mothers who work from home.

We approached the Winter Solstice and I became overwhelmed with finding it difficult to live in the small brick house and became convinced I had to move right now and ran around househunting before facing the grim reality that the gentrification around us has left us stranded.

But I will plant a little offering in the garden and watch it grow. As Thomasina from Poet’s Cottage would snap at me, ‘Make Lemonade! ’

And in a most surreal night I attended a book club that was not my own and the book of course was Poet’s Cottage. It was a lovely night and the hostess not only lived in almost my dream family home (she had grown her own pumpkins and had proper sized rooms!) but she had named her chickens after characters from Poet’s Cottage!!  Here is an  atmospheric avante garde shot of the chickens.

And I was saddened to read about Johnny Depp’s split from his wife, Vanessa Paradis. Just at the Winter Solstice touched us.

It was a good week to remind myself of the following quotation which I posted on my Facebook Author page

The reward doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest, or the best. It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” —Dr. Robyn Silverman

, and here is a lovely photo that I took from the Facebook Vivien Leigh page of Vivien and Larry in 1940’s London. So much glamour and cool amongst the debris and chaos. So unflappable and as stylish as ever.

I loved the following quote taken from the same source that Noel Coward said about his friend Vivien. So tender and poignant really.

“Vivien, with deep sadness in her heart and for one fleeting moment tears in her eyes, behaved gaily and charmingly and never for one instant allowed her unhappiness to spill over. This quite remarkable exhibition of good manners touched me… very much. I have always been fond of her in spite of her former exigence and frequent tiresomeness but last night my fondness was fortified by profound admiration and respect for her strength of character. There is always hope for people with that amount of courage and consideration for others.” — Noel Coward

Thank you for visiting me. And in one final surreal moment of this Winter’s Solstice week, on a chilly and grey Friday I was contacted by the gardener of the real Poet’s Cottage in Stanley and he also helps out with Marguerite’s garden (who I partly based some of Birdie Pinkerton in the book). I was most impressed by Marguerite’s garden in real-life and so it was a thrill to meet the gardener behind that work of art. xx

Queens, Talking Books and Women in Black

Hello,

We’ve now entered winter in Australia which is my favourite season.

And we’re cycling into a long weekend for the Queen’s Birthday. I have taken the image below from the wonderful Rachel Van Asch’s blog HERE,

which I was browsing around today falling in love with all sorts of treasures that she makes. I’m a bit in love also with her skull and flower cushions and her Clara Bow cushion below.

I’ve been frantically busy editing for Currawong Manor and forgot to mention that these beautiful audio books compliments of Bolinda publishing arrived in the post a few weeks ago.

It’s a very surreal experience to hear Poet’s Cottage being read. The actress is the very fab Jennifer Vuletic and I’m so thrilled to have the lovely audio. Bolinda really do such a quality product and it’s even more special to me as my middle sister has retinitis pigmentosa and is battling blindness. My sister loved Poet’s Cottage which was a relief as she’s very plain-speaking (her favourite character was Thomasina, which was no surprise ). My youngest sister’s favourite character was Birdie. The week the book came out, my sister had her eyes scraped for cataracts and so was able to read the paper version. I was thrilled I was able to create a shadow play that she believed and a story she could fall into, as nobody knows you like your sister, but she allowed me to lead her down the streets of the sea-fishing village of Pencubitt and into Poet’s Cottage. She called it ‘my Tasmanian House of the Spirits’ which was so lovely as she’s a HUGE Isabel Allende fan and now my Poet’s Cottage is actually resting in her house against The House of the Spirits. Hopefully Isabel’s book will merge magical cells into Poet’s Cottage to help its sales!

My sister even rushed out and bought the perfume Shalimar after reading it and wanted to decorate her house in a 1930s style. I was very moved she loved the book to that extent.

I also went to see The Woman in Black this week on a very grim and rainy night. I was meant to be going with Artschool Annie but she pulled out at the last minute due to the weather and I was in the unfortunate position of being about to see a VERY scary movie on my own. Luckily, I ran into another friend who was with her husband on their date night and they let me tag along!

The movie was good, visually very beautiful but lacked the true creepiness of either the book by Susan Hill or the two stage versions I’ve seen in the West End and in Sydney. I can still remember years later the audience screaming in the West End at ‘that’ scene in the nursery.

Still it was an enjoyable movie for a rainy night in Sydney.

Wishing you a magical, wonderful, creative weekend and Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth. Thank you for visiting me. xx

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

A Story in my head buzzing hard

I spent a day lost in the magical light of Norman Lindsay’s home at Springwood.

Can you beat a drystone wall? I grew up loving them and they still have the power to charm.

Wandering into the bush with notebook in hand, it’s easy to believe Norman’s statues are luring you into another world.

A smaller magic outside my writing shed where my David Austin Prince rose proudly displayed its first bloom.

 

The  magical perfume so divine to savour. Hopefully a good omen for my current mystery novel.

 

And I must let you know of an event I will be taking place in for Better Read than Dead bookshop and Newtown  Library Tuesday 31st July . It’s Talking Heads with Josephine Pennicott. I know this is very advance notice and will update nearer to the time. Places will be limited but you can book through the library online or on  8512 4250. Would love to see all who could make it come along so we can chat murder, mystery, families, bohemians, secrets, Tasmanian sea-fishing villages, writing tips and a host of other fascinating topics. Here is the beautiful Newtown library I  shall be chatting in.
I’m really looking forward to seeing The Mousetrap in Sydney with the Sydney Theatre company performing Agatha Christie’s classic.
 I first saw The Mousetrap in St Martin’s Theatre with David in London’s West End and it remains one of my favourite theatre experiences. (Followed closely by The Woman in Black).
This week I also went to my bookclub at Better Read than Dead to discuss Craig Silvey’s feisty and wonderful mystery novel, Jasper Jones.

My daughter has just told me she has a story in her head and it’s buzzing hard. I know the feeling.
This weekend I am going to try to find some time to sit in the autumn sunshine with these two pink magazines I picked up today. I love the beautiful Christy Turlington’s feature in the gentlewoman (one of my favourite magazines).

This photograph of Johnny Depp was doing the rounds on Facebook and of course I cant’ resist ending this post with his sage and beautiful words. Thank you for visiting me. Stay creative. xx
Remember, murder lurks around every corner…

In Lockdown

Hello, I am away for a week in my mountain bolt-hole to finish the first draft of my current mystery book.

I will be taking my laptop but there’s no internet access so anything urgent will have to wait until I return.

David will be staying at home so we will be writing in different towns.

Last night I saw The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold with Artschool Annie. Critics mightn’t have warmed to this one but I loved it as it reminded me so much of my time in India.

When I am old (and beautiful) I want to stay at the Best Exotic Hotel Marigold for the old and beautiful. A very charming movie with some great depth to the characters.

And for those who missed it, here is the file of my interview with Blanche Clark which ran in the Melbourne Sunday Herald.

I shall add that to my slowly getting there media section. I am very slow with updating my website, But as the character Sonny, says in The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold, ‘ everything will be alright in the end. And so if it’s not all right. It’s not the end.’ Enjoy your week. Keep creative. Thank you for visiting me. xx

Rainbow on a rainy night

Hello,
the beautiful Belinda Alexandra is not only a wonderful storyteller but also happens to be an angel when it comes to helping out wildlife and animals. And so when she requested I help to try to place this very pretty rescue cat, Rainbow I couldn’t resist.
 I’d take her myself except my Smuchie cat would never speak to me again. If you live in Sydney and could provide a loving home for Rainbow, then all the information you need for her is HERE
I was sent this beautiful photo today of Poet’s Cottage at the airport. And friends have been kindly sending me photos of when they see my book out in the wild making her way.
Here’s a link also to a recent radio interview that I did with Penny Terry of ABC Tasmania if you would care to listen HERE.
And apart from that – it is school holidays. I have been busy with playdates, cinema and trying to finish the first draft of my latest mystery.
Tonight it is raining in Sydney. The weather has suddenly become crisp and cold and I’m heading to bed with Agatha Christie. xx
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – from The Lorax by Dr Seuss

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

Airport Grooviness

Today was one of those teacher’s days off. I played Lego with my daughter all day. I am not a Lego lover in any way shape or form. I’ve just reached the final chapter of the first draft of my Currawong mystery and so intensely frustrating to have to stop AGAIN. But my lovely writing mate, Nathan Burrage cheered me up when he sent through this picture of Poet’s Cottage at the airport. How divine to see it presented and looking so grand whilst I sit at home constructing Lego cars. Thank you, Nathan! xx

A House with a Tale to Tell

One day I will organise myself to do a proper media section for my Blog. But at the moment I’m still doing publicity for Poet’s Cottage and finishing off the first draft of my Currawong book. For now, here is a peek at the article that appeared on my in Sydney’s Sunday Herald.  If you press on this link HERE, you can read it. Thank you to my writing friend, Richard Harland who owns a scanner and knows what to do with it. xx

A House with a Tale to Tell Josephine Pennicott in Herald