Wednesday, July 14, 2010

heroism in animals

Some people think of animals as 'dumb brutes' without thought or obligation. My experiences seem to prove this is not true, and my sense of having so many animals come through my little house has proven it to me, if not to you. I never looked for it. I just loved animals since I was tiny, felt them to be my friends, my best friends really, the ones I'd tell everything to and who knew when I hurt. I have a kelpie who knows when I have panic attacks and leaps onto the bed, where i usually fall when such an event occurs and sits with me, often wraps his arms around me and calms me down. His breath becomes mine. I settle and relax, his care makes me feel foolish but no longer alone. And he is brave. The other evening I wheeled out two enormous avairies so the birds could enjoy the sunshine - we'd been having weeks of cold and rain. they sat and warmed their feathers, then enjoyed a light summer rain, stretching their wings and sqwaking protectively as sparrows and pigeons, ducks and our chickens came to enjoy the same. I covered them up with blankets and two tarps to keep them dry if it rained - and went to bed.
in the middle of hte night, Marshall, my Kelpie licked my face, padded at my arms, and finally stood over me. i had ear plugs in to block the interresting sounds my partner Stuart sometimes makes, and I love the incredible silence it provicdes, allowing me to lie and imagine scenes for my books as i drift into sleep. but this evening there was no chance of a quiet night, because as i pulled my ear plugs out, I could hear the rain hurtling against the tiny house, the thunder and lightening. And I ran outside.
Both avairies had tipped over and neither were attached to their bases. Birds could have easily escaped, or been crushed. I was in a pani but trying to stay calm because there was much to do - and prepare for. I ran back to get my spectacles and woke up Stuart and we both ran out into the rain and hail, expecting the worst, but it had only just happpened, the avairies were intact, no one had escaped, We stood them up and dragged them under cover, changed their blanket covers and checked each bird. The only injury was a budgie with a sore foot, who was fine the next day. marshall had saved their lives, these birds he harrassed sometimes in the sunshine, leapt up and occassionally barked at. He'd been determined to wake me up when I hadn't heard the danger - and I will never risk it again.
thank you Marshall

another act of bravery came from another, much smaler source and had a totally diffeerent result. When i adopted six handicapped finches, Barney would often fall into his water bowl, his wings were broken and I made a sort of ramp and cushion environemnt for him. I set his avairy next to my deska nd checked him constantly. Too often i had to rescue him, roll him over, put him back up top, take him out of water he'd drown in, but our contact made me love him all the more, because the more I did this, the less he'd fight it. he knew i was tryign to help him, i guess.
He showed such courage I guess, that he won the heart of the best girl in the place, and the beautiful white finch, Polly, became his girlfriend, occassionally rolling him over, feeding him, sitting with him, fighting off bullies and generally making his life so much more excellent than i ever could.
Then we moved house, and we had more room for birds in my study, so i kept three avairies in there (eventually featured on ABC Radio) some months later i bought some tiny reed woven nests for the finches, who had grown in number when people knew I'd take them in - i loved their song, industry, and sweetness. One morning I went to get Barney from his nest, and he'd died in the night. But still cuddled next to him was his forever girlfriend, Polly, the prettiest finch in the whole avairy, who had always stuck with him. Even in death she had stayed to keep him warm.
Listening to: meditation CDs
Eating: Jelly cakes
Thinking About: Love
Watching: Masterchef - which is the weirdest thing - I hate tv, cooking, sometimes even food. I've even been cooking...
Reading: 'Redbird' by Rick Bragg
Wearing: All my clothes at once - it's freezing...
Writing:My YA series and loving it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stories I can't change because I never had a hand in writing them

Mark Twain said: 'Courage is not the lack of fear it is acting in spite of it.'
So many things that I do now are to fill the gaps of what I didn't do before. To replace a memory over one I'm ashamed of, to do something I didn't do before, only still to lie in bed, horrified by what I did - or did not do one day, someday long ago or yesterday. My errors might look small to some, but they loom like bolders on the road to me. they may seem insignificant because the ones that keep me up at night, and soak my loyal dog's coat with tears on days when the sun just never seems to make it through my window and creep along the pillow to me - are usually, almost exclusively, related to animals.
People might have thought me foolish, or weak or softhearted or just too easily brought to tears, I know i've been told to many times to count that I'm just 'too sensitive' or 'too busy thinking of the past, and not the future,' but it's life that swings a club at my sense of dignity and life - and why we're here and if I fail in small steps, then the larger ones are not strong enough to get me where I want to go, and that's to know I did right, when I could, and didn't fear being foolish in the process of it.
So I get parking tickets when I jump the curb to leave my car and guide baby ducks across a main road because one day I follwed a mother duck and her ducklings down lanes and through gardens, not knowing how to help them, and not realising I was - no doubt - scaring the crap out of them and leading them somewhere they'd never escape. I've rescued ducklings from courtyards and pried them from prickle bucshes, only to have them die on the way home because I forgot to bring a hot water bottle, or food. Regrets are many and about as prickly as those damn bushes, and yet, unlike those scratches, I still feel the pinch on days like these lately when it's cold and wet and I wonder what the hell all the animals do, when my own chickens huddle by my back door and wrestle with each otherr to try to get inside and the tree in my window is waving like a child at an airplane just landed.
So I don't mind making a fool of myself because I know i'm lucky, to be warm, to have the chance to help, even one animals if not any that cross my crooked path, and that the misery that so often lands in my mind and stops me from doing anything more than remembering the worst of myself and the world, isn't going to do anyone any good, but still makes it hard for me to swing my legs over the bed and get to it. Because sometimes it is hard to be the only one singing the song, alone, out of key, and so often missing the right notes, so that animals die as often as they live, and my huge back yard is a mass of tiny graves, but I still try to make it pretty anyway. But just because trying to help is so often embarrassing or hurtful or hard or pointless or the beginning of a hardship I'd not expected, doesn't mean I let myself ignore what i see anymore. I can't keep driving past the dog that looks lost, or the corpse of the animals that is drawing birds to the middle of the road where they're getting a meal for a minute only to get crushed and add to the attraction.

It's a whole hell of a lot better than the sting of regret, and the soaking wet coat of my dog when I finish crying, knowing it doesn't make a pinch of difference to regret it now unless I do something to make it up. so i do a lot of weird things that I don't tell anyone about, and hope that they wallpaper over the hurt and regret and grief of what i did or did not do before. A lifetime ago or just yesterday. Because mistakes are so easy to make, and effort is so hard when you know you're the only one thinking this way - or so it feels some days.
So i bundle up courage, and arm myself with the knowledge that if I fail, it's not without trying, and that's almost as good as succeeding, somehow, sometimes. Pity it doesn't feel that way in my heart.
So if anyone saw me raging at my finches in their aviary a couple days ago, swaying with the beginnings of the flu and misery, you'd think i was nuts. And I guess i am a lot of the time, because it's nuts to think you can ever make up for the past, for not having any courage, or for caring about what people think. I'm way past that point now, so the raging at finches as small as an eyeball made sense to me then and still does now.
Because as is often the case, I had a box of broken finches that the bird shop gave me. They do this sometimes, and once they even held a family of beautiful yellow budgerigars because the owner couldn't care for them and she wanted them to go to a 'good home'. That was one of the really shiny days I felt maybe I really had made a home, rather than an animal's halfway house, or hospice and that i was doing some good, even if it was for a couple yellow budgerigars who hopped into that aviary and seemed to think they were in a kissing booth. I know I sound sorry for myself, because I am - today. It's a black day and I have them sometimes, months of them, once, a couple years of them and never when I expect them and always when I'm weak and sore and unprepared, and it's like a car-napping, I'm caught suspended, and I just fold up and gasp at the thought that once I was able to work a whole day. Just changing the case on the pillow is exhausting on a black day. How did I write stories, whole books? A series of them? and plan others? Apply for grants, go to lectures, teach lectures? it seemed like an impossible dream, my real life, when it fell into those black days.
Lately, the black days were blown away by the spring breeze of hope and good writing and great books, love, and weather. But it still creeps up on me on days like this and I fear for what's not being done - what I'm missing on this one precious day - just as much as i fear that it's the beginning of a couple years worth of blackness and shame, regret, pain and misery. But I don't think so. Not today. Not for me. I've got a story to write anyway, and I can't write when I'm black I can barely think beyond the horror of what I'd drawn to me. How will my animals survive if I can't even leave my room? How will I tell everyone I can't do what I planned? All those plans ... they seem extraordinary. made by someone else. Who thought I was someone else entirely. How did I make them? Why? It seems impossible to consider doing anything other than lying here, on those black days. and there were so many of them, I don't want anymore, it's a waste of a life. My life, creeping by, sweeping by me, waving slightly as it passes. It's black depression and I am relieved every morning when I can't smell it sitting on my heart so heavy it hurts to carry around. Each day it's not here I smile, relieved. And so i do what I know it hates, what will surely drive it away forever - something that will at least try to make up for the images and memories and things i did that slide over me like sweat when I'm black. I try to banish depression by doing the opposite of everything it feeds off. And embarrassing myself by being 'too sensitive' is no punishment at all. I'll make a fool of myself all over town if it does one aniamls some good and stomps on the crystal clear memory that tears my heart out when I'm black at night, with the smell of my dog's patient, kind, ever waiting coat in my face as if that had been his job since he was born and abandoned somewhereup in the hills of south australia. He sits on the bed covering my feet, toes, or just leaning against me, and if he hears me cry, he just moves himself closer, and presses on in.
I swear on mornings after nights like that that I'll get better but it's like asking someone to sew their own fingers back on.Iit takes more than your own head to fix itself. I swear to myself I won't let myself self lose this story like I lost a couple back in those black days three years ago, when nothing felt like me, nothing came in, or went out, I was just like a girl made of wood, with yellow hair she didn't even have the strength to wash. Bad days indeed and not just for those had to look at me.
Ii know sometimes, lots of times, I do a good thing, but it's the times i don't, that I fail, that shines brighter in my mind, and is so often the reason I'm 'just too sensitive', so I try hard not to think about them, which is about as helpful as not looking at doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme stand as you go through Melbourne airport.
I can look out my window and see them now, splashing in the water bowls and picking each other over, preening and making friends with the bird in the mirror, swinging on little plastic swings and always, always gossiping.
There's always room in my aviary for another couple birds, especially ones as big as an eyeball, right? but I didn't know one of these birds would make me cry at nights for a week, just because no bird would sit with him.
And if you've seen a bunch of finches you'll know they sit up close, snuggle up, especially in the cold. and it's been cold enough not to be able to sleep sometimes this past week or two.
But despite this one, black with a red beak, meaning he was a male charcoal I called little dude, because he was couldn't fly too well, but spent his days jump/flying from branch to swing to another branch and another swing (this is why, mum, my aviaries are so full of stuff, it's not because I don't want them to fly, to be free, I dream of it often enough I think half the time they are, in a way. At least they're not in a box, and they're outside and they're as free as i can make them until one day I have an aviary I dreamt of once, that covered the whole garden and yet let the little ones without legs, or a wing or an eye, still stay safe. That would sure be an good aviary then and I'd no doubt fill it about as much as they are now...but that stuff is there because they can't fly, mum, and they need these steps. I swear. I tell you every visit but you still shake your head and tell me there's too much 'crap' in those aviaries for a poor bird to fly' one day I hope you'll understand at last) then he'd get a fright about something and fall all the way down. i coated the bottom of the cage with soft baby blankets from the opp shop but they got wet so often I spent more time changing them. He hopped out the door once when I was changing the seed and water and I just picked him up and put him back in, but for a moment he saw the world without those bars and I wish now i'd just let him sit a while longer. I forget what it is to be always behind something when I'm not sick or sorry about something and shoved up inside my house without need to leave. At least the choice is my own.
So after a weekend of migraine so bad i had the doc come give me a shot in my behind I can still feel five days later, like a muscle I never had, I went out to change water and seed, feeling frail and cranky and regretful of a weekend spent with frozen peas on my head and the sense of my brains being squeezed to tight to work anymore. I once sliced my forehead deep on each side to let out the pressure, I'd lost my mind so much with the pain. I know slightly better now.

and little dude was splayed out, half frozen in a bowl of water as deep as my first knuckle. So my little dude didn't live with me longer than a week, and despite thinking i should put him in a cage, bring him inside, I knew finches loved company. Most finches anyway. No one more than this finch. I couldn't bring him in alone. But this one, despite his efforts, despite courage and strength and determination I would watch with open mouthed admiration from my desk as he jumped and flew ever higher each day, trying to get to the top where the pretty white finches hung out, like a four year old kid crashing his way through the back of the bus, hoping to sit with the cool kids. Despite everything I tried to do, he never had a friend to cuddle up with, never had anyone to press against when it blew so hard all the loose buckets and brooms and dog toys in the yard flew up against the shed and for the first time, the butterfly chairs really did get a chance to fly. I wrote in another blog about a finch who had a friend so loyal she stayed with him as he died, as his body went cold in the nest beside her.
I thought that was a sad story and I guess it really is, but there's always something worse. That's why the black days are worse than any I've had with fever or flu or post ops when I'd lie on the floor to change the dressings so i cwouldn't hit my head on the bath as i fainted, or migraines so sharp they make me slice into my temple with a half blunt kitchen knife until I could feel pain somewhere other than behind my right eye, because my brain just never shuts up when it's got something to say, and most days it just seems to want to tell me sad stories.
I wish one day it would shut the hell up, but I know then I'll not have another day to try to make up for those stories I hate so damn much. I think it's better to let my brain slowly edge them out, wallpaper over them with the good ones I try to crack open and look at, on those black days.
So if you see me raging at birds who won't make friends with a little crippled guy who spent his days trying to get high enough to sit with the prettiest ones in their nests, or stomping out of shops because they sell glue traps that leave mice to die of wretchedness and starvation while we watch, or fight for the right to be able to park in a clearway when it's the only way I can get to the ducklings raining down from the trees in the footpath, or any of the other stuff I do that makes my family wonder whether that fall from a hammock really did knock something loose in my mind. I wish I didn't care so damn much either way. I wish I could just drive by the hurt like i've seen people drive by a scared dog loose on the road.
Listening to: 'Rain, birds, and the whine of my dog urging me to take him to the dog park despite the rain
Eating: cup o' soup and Darrell Lea rocky road - it's so good without the glace cherries
Thinking About: see above
Watching: You tube videos that make me laugh
Reading: 'A world of baby names' for my current book
Wearing: Enough clothes to make my arms stick straight out from my shoulders
Writing: My YA series, still looking forward to writing it more than anything, even chocolate. I love this stage.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Ideas on writing #1

1) Write as often as you can. this might not be every day for some but every week for others, but write enough so that you feel proud and not guilty. Once you reply to someone's frankly rather rude question 'What do you do?' and at least one of your replies is 'I love writing, I write, I'm writing something', etc then you've just nailed the lid onto your coffin of free time. And opened a tiny - untraceable - bottle of guilt that will waft its scent about your house car, person for the rest of your days. Unless you write enough to feel satisfied, then the stink will dissipate - a little. Write as much as you can each time you have free time. Your family may break apart, you never have the sex anymore, your animals are fed only every second day, your garden looks like a dump, you lose weight, gain weight, get pimples and wrinkles at the same time, your house looks like the caravan salvaged from that self-same dump and balanced on an old fridge that houses rats, and your clothes are so rank people take a step back when you open the door, but you are, now, a writer.

2) If you weren't enough for yourself, others, your heart, your church, your soul, your friends, or your lover before you got published, you won't be enough for any of them after you get published. it's nice it's fun, it's a soft little secret you can carry around with you for the rest of your life like being able to carry your teddy or blanky or invisible friend around with you in your purse and not be chided or kicked to the ground and beaten, but you do pay David Beckham's ransom for it in a plethora of unexpected and freakish ways.

3) By writing enough to feel slightly more satisfaction than guilt, you will hopefully have several dozen manuscripts and be about to find the Holy Grail of writers - Your Voice. Treasure it. It's what editors and agents are looking for. but Your Voice does not have to be something that is so determinedly distinctive anyone could pick you out of a lineup with the greatest of writers just by seeing you write one word. One sentence - maybe. You might write in such a lean spare style, or you might like the odd adjective (but you shouldn't, they're like Two-Dollar Shop chocolate easter eggs) or you might have a smear of uncontrollable whimsy, but if it's what comes after having written so much, let it be, keep writing, it's yours, gaze at it like your bright red screaming wrinkly baby covered in your own blood and smile like a simpleton, you've done it. It might not be quite what you hoped for, but you did it. Be grateful for small mercies - and remember, no one else but another writer will understand and they'll probably smile sarcastically at your anyway or ring and laugh about you to your other best friend. Try to ignore it.

4) Reward yourself on accomplishing goals. Whether you wrote one sentence, or one chapter or half the book, if you had trouble sliding yourself along the cold concrete floor of your home/24 hour car-repair shop to your desk and shake at every touch of the keyboard, and can't lift your eyes to look at what you've written (which is no doubt in All Caps or separated into two thousand sections of the 'To' line of your email program) and your neck is cramped between the clutching muscles of your pinched shoulder blades and your eyes burn with tears and your one weirdly long pinkie finger nail keeps hitting the delete button and you're sweating so much the keyboard is starting o send up smoke signals to the local tech shop, then you must give yourself some reward for writing instead of killing yourself or eating your body weight in easter eggs. Be it big or small, live yourself a tiny smile, be your own best friend, as they say. Today you may eat fresh food, or unspoiled milk, or wear clean underwear. you are a clever clogs, the bees knees. Treat yourself like it.

Listening to: The Sea Thieves
Eating: Muesli from Spoon in Port Fairy
Thinking About: How nice Rain is
Watching: The Rain and Spicks and Specks from last night
Reading: The Road by Cormack McCarthy
Wearing: White Chiffon Dressing Gown which i now notice is a teensy bit see-through and I just chatted with the neighbours while letting out my two remaining chickens (one died over the weekend) and I was trying to chat while weeping and pulling my hair because she was an excellent chicken (and apparently, the only layer). Can't wait to have the neighbours over for drinks soon. Want to adopt more ex-battery hens to give them some decent life but am now aware of how they are less farm animals for produce and more familiars/dearly loved pets. Damn it all to hell.
Writing: Essay on panic attacks. chapter for The Tequila Bikini. Very long shopping list.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Teenage Hoon Boys in Cars - Not what you'd expect

Boys in Cars
There are a few more hoons in my area than I used to find in St Peters and the city and Malvern and Norwood and Stirling and North AdelaIde - all the places I've lived in before in Adelaide. Some of them are perceived as 'fancy' but they still have boys in cars. I prefer where I'm living by far, mostly because there's a great neighbourhood feel here, there's no snobbism at all, even fewer topiaries (a personal dislike) and ladies who think they're better than other people because they have big hair and huge (often fake glitzy designer sunglasses. I often (sometimes accidentally) have big hair and big sunglasses but I think I'm a dork so i hope I don't get mistaken for these obnoxious types. Who knows? Knowing yourself, let alone seeing how people see you from the outside, is tricky. I can't imagine, it's usual a good start to try to be humble before nature and not people, good natured before people and nature, and treat with both with respect.

I have changed my mind about Boys in Cars. I have three incident where they have been extremely helpful to the point of saving my mum's life and helping me find lost dogs.

1) My mum fell down a steeply inclined driveway and really messed up her face, flaps of skin, thirty stitches were needed, two black eyes, she was a sight. But a couple Boys In Cars came and sat with her while my dad ran off to get help. Lucky they did because a huge 4WD pulled out of the driveway where she was lying almost unconcious and the boys stopped the car just in time before they ran over my mum. seeing as she's been fighting the good fight against Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for about five years now - and so far winning, being run over by a Camden Tractor would have been a serious bummer.

2) Christmas Day my partner and i parked our car in a pub carpark with a roller door. after hijinks and excellent lunch and fun with my mum's side of the family we went to dgo home, only to find the carpark locked. Everyone knows it's impossible to get a cab on Christmas Day unless you order it on boxing Day the year before so we were bummed. Then I found a way in, and figured out how to use the manual override on the door to get us out. Only problme was, on pulling the door down after the car came out, the pieces of metal closed over to form one straight flat piece of door after being coiled up into a roll on the roof - and cruched the tips of all my fingers as it went. After pulling them out and screaming I apparently ran onto the road and then fainted. A Car of Boys took the corner on two wheels, stopped, jumped out and helped me - thinking I'd been hit by a car. They and my partner helped me to go down to the beach where I soaked my crushed fingers in the icy water as i sobbed pathetically. A month later I had a bunch of fingernails removed.

3) Three little teacup poodles got out on the street near the dog park where I take Marshall for his afternoon blitz/nutter session. Their owner was frantic and I parked the car askew and ran up to ask what was wrong, we saw the dogs up on a side street and raced after them, but by then they'd disappeared, several streets later, - and me totally lost in an area I only knew of because each street is named after a car (i.e. holden, corolla, Fiesta, etc) I hit a cross roads and a car full of boys rolled to a stop before they ran me down.
I signaled without thinking, squaring my hands off to indicate something small, and then held up three fingers. The car stopped, the radio turned down and they pointed in the right direction, askedover the only slightly deafening rap music if I wanted help. it was only as I was running off where they'd pointed that I realised I'd done it all without considering they looked like they were about to do a drive-by, Monster truck wheels, tattoos visible on hands heads, fingers, sunnnies over hooded eyes and behind that - expressions of deep mental disturbance, music louder than a baby's scream, but they were more helpful than a half dozen people I ran into on the way to find these dogs in a garden, lazily eating some slower dog's dinner a half hour later, exactly where they'd pointed me to.

Listening to: Juno soundtrack
Eating: tofu green curry
Thinking About: if budgies mate for life
Watching: budgies mating
Reading: The Age and The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald from a couple weeks back - there's a late pile on my couch
Wearing: stacked black boots, short dresses my mum says show my undercarriage. Thus also Bike shorts that make me look like I'm wearing a full body slenderiser that's just failed it's job
Writing: this, I guess.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Danger At Safe distance - and How animals set a high standard of life

Kirsty Brooks on crime fiction and other things both anecdotal and animal related - what we learn from animals and how we can make life better by just thinking each chore/job/moment through a little more. Our lives are far far too short to waste doing things we hate.

Crime has always been wildly attractive to me. Being a middle-class private school teenager who spent my time mooning over Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street and dancing in my bedroom, I also learned that reading a book a day didn’t create the basis for a full and exciting social life. I was, clearly, a criminal in the making.

Nicking a pack of Burger Rings, being late returning library books, and learning to smoke (only to accept a ‘jazzed’ cigarette and ending up at the local beach, trying to ‘return all the seaweed to the ocean’) merged to create a foundation of ‘fine line’ mistakes that saw me unemployed, at twenty three, with only my vast collection of books and a maxed out credit card to distinguish me from the other bewildered over-educated kids in Adelaide. Or the nearest street kid.

Until one night…

It was the most boring party I’d ever been to. Fifteen drug-addled Goths sitting around a fire staring at the visions within. A girl with a white rat on her shoulder was talking monotonously about her crappy life. And I was sinking into an emotional funereal dirge.

And then something happened to change it all.

The mix of tequila, raspberry cordial and Savoury Shapes began to have an unexpected effect on me. While everyone else was slumped in personal torment, I got lively. And a little chatty…

I told the pink-haired smell-bomb on my left about the day I broke into Leyland Brothers World (a theme park wedged inside a fake Uluru in New South Wales) and had my photo taken with my head stuck through dozens of celebrity cardboard cut-outs before the cops arrived. She smiled (tightly, but it was something).

Spurred on, I told the tiny shrunken child/man on my other side about the sad day I drank the bong water. He seemed unsurprised, but at least he was looking at me.

And so was the spunky guy in a dented top hat. I moved seamlessly on to the time I drove my friend to her gigs as a sex-worker before she abruptly left town owing me a thousand bucks. Now even the shaky host was watching. Someone laughed.

Drunk on popularity and not a little Stone’s Ginger Wine that Edward Clammyhands thrust at me, I scrabbled around in my brain - which suddenly felt large and unnaturally shiny – for more stories.

I told them about buying drugs in a motel, only to have to climb out the window as the local drug lord kicked in the door to eliminate the competition (either that or he was just keen to buy some speed so heavily cut with Ajax I had a nose bleed for two weeks).

And soon, every single red-stained, black-rimmed eye in the room was focussed on…Me.

And then the funereal dirge girl opened some chips. The spunk changed the music. A tall bloke looked like he might start dancing but he was just adjusting his hair.

However, a strange thing was happening in the world’s most negative of places - there was merriment at a Goth party. Okay, so this was mostly because I was happy to reveal myself as a gormless simpleton but I realised something else. Sure, I’d done a lot of totally stupid things in my life, but somehow in the retelling they seemed less sad and directionless and more - if I was very, very careful - entertaining.

And, just so you know this wasn’t in any way an epiphany or pivotal moment, five years later I used some of these stories in my first novel. And then, not the next month, or even the next year, Wakefield Press published it as Lady Luck.

And thus encouraged, I wrote another one. And it got picked up by another publisher. So I wrote another. And another.

And since then, I have been asked if there is a secret to getting published.

Mostly I tell people that there is no secret. If you write a book that’s good enough to make people want to read the next page then you’re doing well. And if most pages in the manuscript do this, then the manuscript will be published.

Writing is not just self-expression. It’s the skill of communicating to someone else; of touching someone (not in a rude way) through your words. And my awareness of the (rather large) gap between what I liked reading, and what I’d previously been writing, helped me immeasurably.

Article Interval

Here's my one-eyed Galah - Bernie 'Boo' who, to me, defines the determination, endless hope and love of what you do - somehow despite the setbacks - that you need to become a successful writer. He was given to me after several potential carers didn't like his one-eyed-ness.

As it turned out, it was their loss as he's the perfect writing bird - sitting on my shoulder and shouting out words if I get forgetful or tired. Telling me who's left messages on my answering machine (I hate the phone and struggle the check messages each day ) and just defines affection, devotion and fun. so I've put him in here, no connection with this article except that my intention, always is to but to make you think about all the animals who might need your help and to think of how tough life is for an animal who has much to give - and never get the chance to give it - who can't find the right person - or is stuck in a cage with no one to talk to. He's so good he came to my TAFE lecture last night to prove this point of determination and hope to my wonderful students in the Write Fiction - The Novel class.

End of Interval

The night at the crap party changed my life. And not just because I pashed the spunky guy.

Because I did have a secret to getting my writing published.

And it was this.

I learned to consider who I was telling stories to. I learned to think of what I would like someone to talk to me about at a suicide-inducing party. I would want to be distracted, I’d want to learn stuff, (even if it’s just ‘Don’t throw Leyland Brothers merchandise at the police’) and with some careful editing, a story becomes more than an anecdote. It became entertainment.

And this insight became a window into things that my somewhat sharper readers might not be as crazy or brave or careless or stupid enough to get involved in. It’s danger at a safe distance. And, with a nod to the Goth party, it’s also not entirely unlike The Smiths’ lyric – ‘I can laugh about it now but at the time it was terrible’.

And terrible things intrigue people, not just because they are engaging, but because we are glad we aren’t there, and so we can (hopefully) also laugh, or cry or empathise, but because for a lot of people, danger is limited to leaving their bike helmet unclipped or putting their recycling in someone else’s bin. Crime fiction is alluring for the very reason it’s fiction, readers can escape into it, or away from it. The very nature of crime - the uncontrollable threat - is now in the reader’s hands. It has been tamed.

See, here’s the thing. Editors want to buy your manuscript. They want you to get published as much as you do. But this will only happen when you write something that other people want to read just as much as you want to write it.

Crime fiction could be called the ultimate voyeurism because it deals characters a bad hand and then lets us watch while they try to make the best of things. And if the basic premise of good fiction applies (that characters prove themselves in situations of conflict, both internal and external) then crime fiction offers up some amazing opportunities.

But this tag of voyeurism applies to most genres of fiction. Reading books, from biographies to SF, is a form of nosiness. We’re poking ourselves into other people’s lives; peering into their lounge-room, bedroom, coffin or headspace.

And in making the most of my (more apparent in hindsight) total disregard for personal safety I found a great basis for my writing that helped a lot in creating my ‘screwball’ crime novels and I have since written five, with three more under contract.

I love writing characters who struggle with the concept of good and evil, who have unusual lives, and with this mix I’ve slid neatly into a sub-genre that sees my books categorised under Chick lit, Humour, Crime, Popular and Romance Fiction.

In fact, every bookstore seems to shelve my books differently, but as long as they’re there, I’m very lucky, and happy. Because this is the best job in the world. It’s not just about sharing what’s in your heart, or mind, it’s about connecting with readers through the pages of a book. And knowing who my reader is has helped me reach her (and increasingly, to my surprise, him).

Crime fiction is created to divert, entertain, and go somewhere we’ve not been before, whether that’s into the mind of a killer, the house of a victim or the dressing room of the local Peek-a-boo cubicle.

And I can promise you that it’s a hell of a lot more fun than doing that stuff for real.

End of article - beginning of small aside.

Here are three of my birds - finches who started out with problems - Almondine (black and red finch) only had one half leg but adapted by being an amazing flier. The Dude (black and grey) couldn't fly and was always falling off his perch, so he made an excellent nest from where he ruled over the aviary. Tiny tiny (Firetail red and grey finch) escaped in and out of the bars of my aviary and eventually took longer and longer trips, Now he leaves for weeks and then comes back, has a feed and sits with the other finches and seems to tell them all his adventures. They all figured out ways to make their lives better.

I try to take a tip from them every day, look at my life, how I write, what my unconscious routine is, and try to find ways to make it easier, more pleasant, more efficient - usually so i have more time to do the things I love - play with my animals, read, write, etc. So now I wash my dishes with a book propped up on the window sill in one of those recipe holders made of clear plastic and have my meditation music playing - because I hate washing dishes. I used to let them stack up until I was using plastic cutlery. Now I do it every day because it gives me a chance to read and relax. (p.s Am also getting a small dishwasher to fit into my camper sized kitchen will also make that process easier...Soon I hope, as soon as I pay for my clear hanging bubble chair for the front verandah)


This article (without the asides or pictures) was first published in the VIC Writers’ Centre newsletter and then the Sisters in Crime newsletter - Stiletto.

Listening to: having just returned from Port Fairy (a wonderful relaxing, quiet and warm hearted town in victoria for a sisters in crime panel at the terrific Blarney books I listened to the audio book of A.M. Homes' novel 'This Book will Change Your Life'

Eating: Argh, ye gods... Honestly it's just far far too much traveling makes me eat sweets. 'Lady' week makes me eat sweets. Being happy makes me eat sweets (and both the holiday - possibly first holiday I was actually relaxed in for years, and returning to my excellent cuddling animals did this - Pedro the white rabbit hopped up into my lap this morning and got snuggled so much there's rabbit hair all over the place. Lucky that Shannon, my favourite cleaner is coming tomorrow) - I got addicted to the muesli at Spoons, a wonderful Port Fairy cafe and even got some to take home. am not usually a muesli person but this was heaven.

Also 'Frantic Whisk' biscuits bought at the car wash before returning 4WD Kluger - terrific fun to drive long distance) to my mum. Especially good are the Nougat Rounds. Getting excited about easter and accompanying chocolate, also worried about not fitting into clothes. which emotion shall will? Only time - and quality of chocolate - will tell. Personally, despite living in town with both excellent Bracegrindles and Haighs chocolate and a weakness created twenty years ago for Swiss Gloary white truffles, I'm a sucker for the Red Tulip Elegant Rabbit. they're just so... damn elegant.

Thinking About: How lucky I am to love going on holidays and look forward to coming home too. I missed Marshall starting at the end of the bed and ending up in my arms. I missed Bernie boo cuddling and commenting on everything. I missed the constant song and chatter and tweet and whistle of my canaries, finches and cockatiels outside my writing window. I'm looking forward to three or more baby finches emerging from a nest up top of my aviary.

Unlike my canaries (who sometimes just toss the babies if there's something wrong with them - and I try to save them with mixed results - they're usually right). The finches are great parents and Hamster is always there as baby sitter/surrogate mum if anythign goes wrong - I posted a film I made onto Youtube of her doing her thing feeding adopted baby finches - quite a remarkable sight) I missed Monty trying to Woo Opie and Opie doing the equivalent of swatting him over the head by sort of batting him with a wing and going to the next branch, where he continues to serenade her for hours. He's a great singer but he needs a new song.

I missed cuddling my rabbit Pedro and having her make little happy noises and then leap about, bum high in the air, ready for chasing and hide and seek games. I didn't miss the mess of a backyard as we're in the baby steps of getting the whole thing redone - with my design that I have to finish and clear with the landscaper.

Watching: Nothing on TV except Animal Rescue show - usually on Wednesday, but it's been off the last couple of weeks so I must restrain myself. Old eps of Ned and Stacy that I found in perfect plastic wrap condition in the opshop for $2. Finches outside my window making nests with such industry and ingenuity.

Wearing: The KB Innovative Nightie/Dress(TM). I bought a bunch of excellent/almost flattering/soft dresses a couple months ago. As a gormless aside I also hate socks and wearing shoes at home (something Radio National caught in a picture they took during their Writers' Rooms' series - who knew they'd take pics for a radio interview?)

The first thing my mum said was: 'Why aren't you wearing shoes! You look like a bum!'- Anyway, I was constantly getting caught out in the nick by a handy man when our house was getting work done on it (an old, gorgeous, beachy looking flat/triangle roofed ranch house) as I don't like wearing nighties - I get all caught up in them, but these were different, maybe dresses are the key! So now in colder weather I can get out of bed and 'Be Dressed Already' - Hair and make up aside - this lazy approach to fashion also helps me work and write more efficiently and I can shower when I want to - which is often after I've got my work done for the day and can do less essential stuff (like this), etc.

The joys of working from home.

And believe me because I have asked - I do not stink. Clean your teeth, wear deodorant, drench yourself in perfume, you might get away with it. The teeth thing is essential, especially after a meal. and make your hair not stand up and your eye shadow and lipstick should be wiped from out of your ears and nose or wherever it goes during the night if you're not a good face washing person before you go to bed. If you do, as I do, often crash face first into bed, sometimes not in The KB Innovative Nightie/Dress(TM) but a glitter mini-dress with stacked party shoes still on.

Reading: Just finished '61 Hours' - the latest Lee Child Book. I am most frustrated by the 'to be continued' tag. Hate it on TV, hate it in books. Still, he promises another book later in the year so I'll have to not get too cranky when I go hear him talk in April. Also some real crime books on importing exporting illegal drugs in Australia for writing' The Tequila Bikini'. At the writers' panel on Sunday in Port Fairy I fessed up to trying to do my own research - especially the fun stuff - but this import/export bit is out of my league, sadly. I read a chapter this morning where there was a Glut of Cocaine in 1992, i.e. They couldn't get rid of it... Cripes. Just that sentence was a heart-starter.

Oh, and I forgot, another thing...

Rabbits and baby chicks at easter

And don't buy a rabbit or baby chicken for Easter unless you are prepared to care for them like your own children. And if you regret buying it because you realise this rabbit is too good for you and you made a Bad Decision, admit to it (and don't do what people I've seen do - which is a myriad of things but these are the kinder ones - if you can believe it - they drown them, leave them to live out their sad lives in the bathtub with crappy pellets, leave them out in the hutch and expect them to live on the dry dead grass and rain that falls in their feed bowl, leave the hutch open hoping they'll escape, kill them and eat them for dinner. etc) Yes, this is true and worse. Sometimes you might understand why I like animals more than many people, but I persist in trying to believe that the world, and humans are essentially good. I try, I really do. I have chickens and a rabbit and they are cool, but you need to be cooler. Being cool means knowing yourself and being able to reach inside your heart and understand if you really can care for a fully grown chicken or rabbit for the rest of their lives.

And if you still decide to get a Rabbit, desex it. And if you really think you don't want it anymore - take it to a proper shelter, or email me... Yes, you might incur my wrath but then I'll give you some advice or take it off your hands. Remember, most rabbits don't like being picked up and played with. chocolate is much better for you than my disapproval. BUT, if you sincerely want a rabbit. Go to the Small Animals Rescue Sites that dot the internet, there are loads of excellent rabbits who are desperate for homes.

Here is a picture of Pedro, who is great. She (Yes, I thought she was a boy until I got her desexed) sleeps during the day and is lively just when I am lively - i.e. night time. But I carried her around and and watched her and tested her out and made sure she was the kind of rabbit I wanted - which was a house rabbit (i.e small hutch inside, but roams the house, has kitty litter trays where she needs them (in three small corners of the house) and fresh leaves, thistles, and special hay each day, corn on the cob and her fancy pellets.

She rewards me by running towards me, cuddling up to me, and licking my arms and playing with me. I clean out her litter trays, water and feed bowls each day and clean her area, make her new cardboard box houses to destroy and hide in (they must have two doors or they won't use them) and like any animal, they involve work as well as fun, but she is also very funny, loving and kind. I crouch down to hug her and if I have to carry her, I use both hands to hold her tight to my body so she knows she's safe.

Well, Ciao, my little rays of sunshine, my lovely pals. Go do something good today. One good thing for you, one for someone else. you'll be amazed how much better you feel about the latter than the former. Trust me.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Interview with Matilda

The following is an interview I did earlier in the year with the excellent Matilda lit blog website ( It's chock full of good things (despite having me visit occasionally)

March 04, 2008

Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot: Kirsty Brooks

1. Your books have been described as "Romantic comedy meets noir crime". Does living in Adelaide - sometimes described as the weird crime capital of Australia - have anything to do with your choice of genres? Or is it just the quality of the wine that makes the difference?

Ah, yes. The crime weirdness. I think it's just distilled (check excellent relevant wine reference...) by population and our hysterical tabloid newspaper. I am a keen reader of interstate papers to get some perspective, but yes, if you only read The Advertiser you'd think we were the kinky crime capital of the world (very exciting in theory but not so in real life). In fact, one of the reason the publishers at Hachette (Livre - Hodder headline) were so quick to sign my first three books was because they thought I did a good job of making Adelaide "seem exciting", which is a glimpse at the other side of the opinion coin, that Adelaide is all church spires and hedges. Being a private school girl with a doctor, lawyer and school teacher in the family, I get to explore a lot of the seedy underbelly of our fine city without losing the boring beige posh sensibilities I've been brought up with... It's an interesting parallel to why I think crime fiction makes for such interesting reading - it's danger at a safe distance. So, reading about danger is exhilarating, but I get to do all the dodgy things late at night, but still (hopefully) duck home and drink good red wine until my heart stops leaping about in my chest. As someone who runs like toddler on acid and is prone to a good thumping faint, I am the very model of a crap sleuth, so I base a lot of Cassidy's misadventures on (sadly) real life.

2. What do you have planned for your next publication?

I'm writing the next in the series, The Tequila Bikini, but publication dates are up in the air at the moment. I get a lot of emails from fans asking where it is, which is very encouraging. I'm glad they have so much faith in me (and my characters). I'm a "seat of the pants" kind of writer, so I tend to paint my characters into a corner and then get hot and cold and have to go lie down when I realise I have to now try to get them out again (and without a deux ex machina or magic wand I have to do it with characters who have very little experience, or skills of any kind. It stretches my imagination at times... I'm also sketching out a YA series, and writing bits of that when I get a chance (I've just bought my first home after decades of share housing, flats, apartments and co-ops - all of which have delivered in terms of storylines - a wonderfully kitsch seventies house with room dividers and excellent drop lamps in classy gold and brown so I'm finally able to build built-in bookshelves and I can finally get a dog (or three) and chickens, to go with the eleven birds I already live with (all but two are "rescue animals" and it's only after they get home that I realise why it's possible no one wanted them... But I love them so much for being, well really badly behaved. Six are reasonably benign handicapped finches who are remarkably brilliant and resourceful, as well as five Machiavellian parrots who all think they are my sidekick and protector and spend much of the days warning me about various Holden Blimps and stray balloons in the sky, and marching about checking down drains and under doors for intruders). My time is pretty limited but I find if I don't write every day I go nuts (the stories just play out in my head until I get them down). I have what my doctor refers to as "an unquiet mind..." I'm totally sure it's a compliment.

3. Do you read much Australian crime fiction? Can you give us a few standouts that you've read recently? What do you think of the current state of the Australian crime fiction scene?

Australian crime fiction is fit right now. Totally spunky and looking great. I'm always jealous of Melbourne based writers who get to attend the excellent Sisters in Crime meetings at Leo's spaghetti bar on a regular basis. I've been invited there a few times and been refreshed and happy for months afterwards, enjoying the company of other writers and readers (although one night when I spoke with the glorious Tara Moss, I had a woman fast asleep in the seats about two feet in front of me, which was off putting until I realised if anyone can sleep in the presence of Ms. Moss, she must be really exhausted and deserve the nap - or be mashed on drugs). I love reading local crime fiction, but I must confess my faves are American - Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton mostly. I even wrote Ms. Grafton a fan letter, and got a reply. It's still in my purse, I was so excited (getting older just can't stop someone being a nerd). I am also a fan of Shane Maloney (who I travelled around Victoria with for a libraries tour, we had a great time, persuading our very patient libraries PR dude to stop at oppshops and various crap historic sites). And Peter Corris, Leigh Redhead and Tara Moss. I find I'm a fan of their work as well as the writers themselves. We are very fortunate to have such great, supportive communities like this. It's the same in SF, I've found. Genre writers are lucky to be able to have little cliques, but also be well received in the general community. (Hmm, that sounds a little like we're on the "special bus"). I probably meant to say that commercial/popular fiction embraces our genres very kindly and we're lucky for it, while still have a little niche of support too.

4. What do you think could be done to better promote Australian authors either at home or abroad (or both)?

We've had some great news stories of late, so we're lucky to have a lot of interest, both locally and abroad. I think it's always a good news story if writers are doing something different, or unusual, so I got a fair bit of publicity writing about Adelaide, although so many people said I should focus on Sydney (or Paris, London or New York) or I wouldn't get published in this genre. I figured, with all the research I was doing (i.e. Drinking in dodgy bars and strip joints, meeting strippers and trying my hand at pole dancing - I still have a scar on my leg from that. Well, from having to wear stilettos while practising anyway. It's true what they say about stiletto heels...), I would keep one thing true, which was the setting, but then I got all wish-fulfilment and put all the things I WANTED Adelaide to have in there as well, so there are bars where I think they should be (close to where I used to live in the city) and the style I liked, with familiar spots like universities and shops, and my sort of long slow bars tucked in there (a small bit of Melbourne moved to the Adelaide side streets). Oddly, much of those ideas are actually real now, so either I have the ear of the local Licensing and Alcohol Authority or I am just blessed with the many gifts of the psychic (as deeply opposed to psychiatric). Still, we have to compete on an international level, so we have to be as good, if not better than what's already out there. Publicity won't change anything other than maybe bringing some things to a publisher or reader's attention. A keen reader becomes a fan and then becomes someone who relates to you, and I've found writing is a wonderful way to learn that you're 1) not alone in your odd thoughts and 2) able to connect with other like minded people in a useful way.

5. If your fictional character could meet any fictional character who would you like it to be and why?

Oh, I think Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone could teach Cassidy Blair a thing or ten. At first glance I imagined them together at a shooting range, but actually, Cassidy would just get a lot more out of learning to be as neat and organised and responsible as Kinsey. And patience. Definitely our Cassidy could learn a little of that...

Kirsty Brooks is the author of the Cassidy Blair series of novels, which include The Happiness Punch, The Vodka Dialogue and The Millionaire Float.
Her website can be found here.

Posted by larrikin at March 4, 2008 01:52 PM

Friday, October 03, 2008


Kirsty Brooks

The metrosexual male is a fascinating beast, even if only to himself. No matter what gender, it's always going to be a bonus if you're slim, trim and good-looking. Some people just need to work harder at it than others. And the focus on beauty products and fashion for the male heterosexual has become a booming market.

But no matter what gender, a bloated self-interest will always eventually be irritating, no matter how pretty the package. I've successfully cocked up relationships with macho guys, suave young hipsters, sensitive snags and nerds, but no matter their choice in style, the essential issues is that whoever you’re having a relationship with, you don’t want to fight over who gets to wear the Saba jumper. You’ve got better things to do, like take off the jumper in order to have lots of the sex.

I know some girls who think the perfect man would be a gay guy who's still wildly attracted to them. I can see their point. On paper, gay men have all the qualities; style, humour, a great sense of fun, but ultimately, those attributes are clichés. If you buy into that you also get vanity and that struggle over the jumper

The poster boys for metrosexuality, David Beckham, Mark Wahlberg, Ian Thorpe, are just three guys in the limelight where there are millions struggling with similar pressures to be successful at work while cooking like Jamie Oliver, dressing like George Clooney and making love like Hugh Hefner, but are these realistic expectations? Probably not, but then most women don’t really expect all that (with the possible exception of Posh Spice) because they know how hard it is to maintain all of that and still look shaggable.

So are today’s single girls really looking for someone who can compete with them for the space in the cabinet as well as in the bathroom? Last Saturday night, in Adelaide’s ski lodge theme club complete with reindeer horns, I spoke to a handful of women who spent their time between drinks lamenting the lack of gentlemen in their lives. There was no mention of the lack of men who know how to be gentle to their follicles. If we’re throwing around terms, how about retrosexuality?

How to be suave, cool, respectful, strong and woo the ladies? I’d put my casino chips on retrosexuality. I’d bet that if you ran a poll, there would be more women out there who’d rate good manners over good skin care. Just look at Tony Bennett.

Mark Wahlberg can only dream of such celebrity longevity and respect. So when you’re jostling with your partner for the best spot in front of the mirror, remember this, vanity never looked good on anyone.


Well, I read a wonderful, gloaming, clever book about writers - stories of things not going well about anythign really, serious writers being funny, stoic writers being self effacing, funny writers being terrified in misery.

I understood this.

When I started going to writer's festivals writers seemed to me to be lighter beings - not gods - I didn't know them, but greater than good. the very best of men and women. And who was I? I just wanted to write the stories that bugged me day and night - almost to madness sometimes, now even still. So i tried and somehow, wonderfully, succeeded, for some times, perhaps.

Who knows for how long but how long is life/ I am grateful for every day since I wished I were dead.

And this day was not one of them.

Well, not as dark anyway.

So I wrote what i would have submitted had an kind soul asked me this terrible question. We maybe/might all have one or twelve responses. this is one of mine.

I have many more, of course...

Because without them, you have not lived - and died.

Kirsty Brooks - Mortification

They say that comedy is tragedy plus time. But as my mother would retort, ‘Who’s they? If they told you to jump off a building, would you do it?’

Possibly. More so now. Because I’ve realised there isn’t enough time to turn some humiliating memories into hilarious anecdotes. Even if science gets all that nanotechnology sorted out and we get the chance to wander the earth for longer than hygienically necessary. Not nearly enough time...

I’d say there are two types of mortification. There’s the one that will transform immediately into a sheepish story at the bar, that brings forth new friends, shared horrors, admiring glances, beer as food, free love and camaraderie. And the other: a brutality of sweaty, gimpish others chained in a foul smelling puddle in the corner of your brain. Let’s haul one out for an airing, a hose down.

So which to choose? My hands twitch in sad fascination at the thought. The signing where no one turned up, not even the bloke who organised it? The reading where I learnt that the humour of sexual misconduct isn’t shared by, well, anyone? The festival where I realised at the end of the day that my dress was transparent? The panel with Tara Moss where I felt like a overweight man?

How about the book launch? Oh, yes…

At the launch of my fourth book, The Vodka Dialogue, they served cocktails from the recipe in the book, the bookshop was full, there were point-of-sale coasters and huge foam glasses with the book title on them, and I’d be coming from a photo shoot where the stylist had promised I’d look like Veronica Lake. Brave words but I believed her. It was going to be cool.

The thing of it is, however. I’m not cool. Never have been. And that afternoon, straight off the plane, I was styled into the chick from Fleetwood Mac, with 80s rock star hair, more make-up than even I wear, and an outfit that promised sexual favours for a gold coin donation. I had ten minutes to try to flatten the hair down in a taxi but when I got to the bookshop, everything was marvellous. Things were looking up. Maybe I was cool after all.

The new cool me had a few blue cocktails. Then, as I happily thanked my publisher, publicist and editor, a friend approached, exclaiming how it was great I’d lost weight but kept my ‘boobs’. How it was great I wasn’t fat any more. I had another drink. Then in my speech I apologised too long for my bad hair. Not shrewd but not a disaster, just sort of brainless. And so I had a few more drinks.

Then I started lurching about the room, engaging in conversation with strangers. Having a few more drinks. We, or possibly just I, talked about all sorts of things. Relationship breakdowns, failed books, dating, falling asleep in waffle-weave hotel robes and ending up covered with little squares, successful books, sex, incontinence, lovers, losing weight and keeping tits, wiping blue cocktails off the stock with your handbag. Everyone was my dearest friend.

And there were hours of this, we laughed, some cried, a select few danced, and then everyone started lining up in front of me. It was a bit weird until I realised they’d all bought my book and wanted it signed. Of course. I knew this. I was a professional. What I didn’t know was that a new gimp was waiting to join the brutality.

Because even before I’d drunk all the bright blue cocktails, I was incapable of retaining names. This is possibly due to years of the beer as food thing, although I (dimly) remember that my brain had to be recalled by the manufacturer even at school. I can’t trust it any longer. Socially, the problem can usually be sidestepped, however, and I force friends to introduce themselves, I call everyone by vague endearments, I stay home, writing, and try not to meet new people. Hopelessly transparent, of course, but I get by.

And here were all my new friends, kindly, with smiles of pleasure, lined up for their book to be signed, personally, to them. And one after the other, I had to grasp their book, smile dazzlingly at them, praying for a moment of clarity, a little nudge of memory. But instead the little gimp sat down, chained himself to the rest of the crew and settled in for the ride.

And so, agonisingly, I had to haltingly, apologetically, ask their name. Dozens and dozens of times. Soon I was giddy with it, and by the tenth signing also rapidly shooting through the five stages of sobriety, hitting remorse and self-loathing just as the last guests left.

As I thanked my publisher for an insightful editor, a terrific launch, a gorgeous book, I hit shame. Because there, with my big hair and my new book and my stupid ‘boobs’, I was the worst sort of arsehole. Not someone who just makes a fool of themselves, but someone who makes a fool of others.

For shame…

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Three things

1)It's impossibly Cruella De Ville for the Will Truman character on WILL & GRACE to be so well baked into a scrumptious man shaped snack. He is gay, (perfect, but maybe not so), but then, not so gay in real life - i.e. quanrdy/confusion/excitement. Dreadful business all over my tiny all mixed business shop specialising in snacks and GIFTABLES (Yes, it's a word, according to one of many mass market bridal salons on Payneham Road - one of the ones that make me laugh - the joy of weirdness never leaves me.)
2) Driving a 4WD makes you feel like you're at monster trucks. It is far too excellent for real life. My mum leant me her 4Wd so I could pick up an aviary and a couple birds who needed a home and I can't give it back. i've used it to move rocks, churn up grass, intimidate people who seem nice. It's like I'm Queen of the Road. I will have to give it back. It hurts to be just one of the people being intimidated by silly big monster trucks on the road again. I want my own truck. But I don/t. what do I want? Maybe not to have ever known the power and not to have driven into a Highbury Park'N'Shop and yelled 'Run, save yourselves tiny minions!'.
no wonder those Malvern/Burnside oldies are such bad drivers. I've always wondered what the crash rate is at the Burnside Village (i.e. inside mall with no lighting - Crappy suburban mall crammed with chain stores anyone?). village... I've never known a village to have so many shops selling outsized lady/man shirts with 'fancy' collars and cheese.
3) Well, maybe on the cheese issue I'm wrong.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reading, writing and finding you.

I have fingers sticky with glue because I've been putting buttons (I am a nerdy button collector) around my many pin-boards (I pin up ideas, images, character features, clothes ideas - for characters - story ideas, pictures of a dog who looks like Hound, a parrot who looks like Jock, nightclubs, all the stuff I rip and stick and have been doing since I was a teenager - there are four boxes in my shed filled with these ideas and images for future stories, characters, settings, scenes, etc - but despite sticky fingers, I wanted to post what has occurred to me in my thought times of the day (i.e in the bath/shower)
1) Everyone who responds to my blogs emails me directly. I don't know why, but I think I have shy readers. Anyway, thank you. I'm not making this up. It's a curiosity shop in my head.
2) I have been overwhelmed (actually not that hard to overwhelm me, as I'm so often underwhelmed by people, but still true) by people subscribing to my mailing list for the Cassidy Blair books and sending me nice emails about them. My last book was published over a year ago, and there's been very little publicity compared to the others, and yet suddenly, all these lovely people have let me know that they like Cassidy Blair, that they think her (mis)adventures are great, that they can relate to her and her friends and adventures and that despite now having to often order the books specially through their bookshops (my current favourite bookstore is Matilda's in Stirling. They have WONDERFUL stock - although not many of mine, which doesn't actually undermine previous praise), or on the internet, they tell me with many exclamation marks and smiley faces that they will still do so. I am so happy. You are nice people.
30 i dont know why I am so interested in my local bottle recycling place. I like taking my bottle s and cans there and getting my (spookily always between $8 -9) but I have realised some of it is because there are people there who take their ten cans there to get money to buy food. Also, there are huge containers full of empty bottle and cans and they look amazing. and the fellows there are so cheery even though they have a bit of a tricky job, going through bottles and cans all day, especially at the moment when it is so $%&*! cold here. I guess, however, that like New York (my comparison), it is nicer in winter than in summer. and smells nicer (still NY).
Does anyone know why only South australia pays 5 cents for their recycling cans. it keeps hte streets clean and poor people get money. It is wise.
Listening to: 'Lullaby for Cain' sung by Sinead O'Connor and my canaries. They are amazing! Everyone should have birds. If I was Queen of the World...
Eating: um... leftover MarsBar slice... And Frousse (strawberry)
Thinking About: why I have had a headache for a week. Sucky. Also about watching 'The Shawshank Redemption' again. Am in that sort of mood. and that now I have to take Marshall to Dog Training as Disco Stu is totally over it. I used to really like just sitting there talking to people about dogs and eating scones with Jam and cream for $1.50 on a Sunday morning. That's all fucked now. Still, Marshall is an excellent dog. But not worth giving up scones for. Am moody.
Watching: So you think you can Dance - only it's not nearly as great as when people auditioned with their truly original dance moves. Now it's all choreographed crap. i think I'll give it a miss as am most disappointed. I fell slightly in love with the dude who said that all he had was his friends and his dancing.
Wearing: Trackies, PETA T-shirt and hoody. I can't wear jumpers or socks no matter the weather, they make me feel weird, all bundled up too tight. So yes, cold, but not bundled at least.
Reading: Animal Liberation newsletter. Yes, I can be as square about how appallingly we treat animals in our lives as Mr Strong.