Fictional blood and fun times

I think I’m a nice person, but show me a TV show where someone gets killed in the first five minutes and I’m hooked.

Alfred Hitchcock photo with bird on cigar

Image: from quoteswave.com

Murder mysteries are an obsession passed down from my mum, who educated me through English TV shows and movies about Miss Marple, Poirot, and – hell yes – Murder She Wrote. (Did you hear there’s a Murder She Wrote game? I hope it has the theme music.) And of course, there was not just Hitchcock’s films but Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Later in Primary School I chowed down battered copies of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books. (Which, honestly, is only the tiniest insight to how 50s and 60s my childhood culture upbringing was.)

Then to fossicking for my own crime books through a series called Point Crime, with titles written by various authors but all with horrific – and captivatingly creative – murders. (Someone got suffocated/buried in their own concrete driveway before it had set. Come on!)

Even now, if I’m having a particularly rough week, I’m probably watching my Wire in the Blood box set rather than Monty Python.

And yes, I realize how weird that is.

But it’s not the violence that interests me, it’s the psychology behind it. How someone like me or you can be driven to murder. What are the circumstances that make it a reasonable act? What could drive someone to hate another person so much that they could torture them? And how often the crime is committed by family or someone the victim loves.

So I’ve settled on a new book to write, and if you haven’t already guessed the theme let’s just say that I’m going to have some fictional blood on my hands over the next few months. I might even figure out why a kinda nice person like me becomes so obsessed with reading and watching murder mysteries.

When I have some inspirational pics for you, I’ll post them on the blog.

Wish me luck. As always, with every new story idea, I’m crazy excited about this one!

Christmas and creativity

December is my favourite time of year. It’s all Christmas baking (and yeah, eating), non-stop catch-ups with friends and driving past decorated houses that would make Clark Griswold proud. But what I love just as much is that sense of winding down and hope for a fresh, new year.

I spent most of today looking over old footage and photos of our growing puppy, Henry, as well as photos from our UK/Europe trip and I loved every second of it. I make a point of looking back at what I’ve done through the year (especially what I’ve enjoyed) before the New Year resolution fever grips me. If you’ve never done it, give it a go. Especially if you’re a writer. Jotting down your 2013 highlights and achievements is a great reminder of all the fun stuff that bubbled up from your hard work.

For me, December is about embracing fun and creativity. It’s for ‘filling the well’ before we get too serious and ambitious on 1 January. So get crafty with your Christmas wrapping, go to a Christmas concert, bake something ambitious, catch up with a group of friends and talk absolute nonsense, make a tower out of your to-be-read book pile, or (and I really want to do this again soon) go to the movies and see two films back-to-back. The next few weeks are for living it up and relaxing!

While it may not sound relaxing to everyone, I’m also looking forward to developing two new YA projects this Christmas. They’re both in their infancy – all random, scrappy notes with plot holes and fat question marks – and if this morning is anything to go by, this photo could sum up my Christmas/New Year (complete with snoozing pup).

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So that’s me signing off for 2013. I hope you have a fun and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Little Sister – A Halloween story

Yes I’m a day late, but happy Halloween to you all. I hope you battled monsters and ate lollies in awesome costumes. (If not, there’s always tonight.)

Here is my Halloween story, Little Sister, which was published by Tiny Owl Workshop on napkins and distributed around cafes this week. There’s lots of other stories to collect as well, so get on to the Tiny Owl Workshop website and find out where you can get a spooky story with your latte. Enjoy!

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Puppies are terrible writing buddies

Actually, over the last 7 weeks since we’ve had a furball at home, I’ve started to realise why so many writers have a cat instead of a dog.

Mostly because cats don’t care what you’re doing unless you’re feeding them. Which works well for the solitude and long bouts of thinky time.

It’s different with dogs.

Henry is in his ‘terrible two’ stage, so he’s understandably crazy. But I find my writing time at the moment is broken in to 5-10 minute fragments and I’m usually distracted by one of the following scenarios:

  • Henry has weed somewhere in the house
  • Henry has pooped somewhere in the house
  • Henry has disappeared from sight and is therefore, weeing or pooping somewhere in the house
  • Henry is barking and jumping on me like a mad thing
  • Henry is eating a shoe, book or handbag.

The only time I’ve been able to keep him in the study with me is when I’ve put him back in his crate where he promptly got bored and fell asleep.

I feel like I’m gaining an understanding of how new mothers feel when they’re trying to raise a young thing and get on with their life. It’s a total nightmare, but (99% of the time) I’d never consider giving Henry up.

The main pup-baby difference so far as I can tell is:

Negative: He can sprint waaaaaaay faster than me (and is occasionally impossible to catch without bribery), whereas human babies can’t move without you carrying them from room to room.

Positive: Human babies eventually learn to understand what you’re saying, but Henry will never understand when I’m swearing at him, especially if I keep my happy-face on.

New stories! Halloweenies! Puppies! Exclamation marks!

The last two months have been non-stop madness. Mostly because I travelled through the UK and Europe, cramming in more countries than my sanity could handle, before returning straight to my bat cave in Brisbane to finish editing my latest YA manuscript.

And amongst the madness, I received some exciting news to share:

What’s next? Well, I’m searching through old notes and playing with ideas to start a few new stories.

In the meantime, I’m also training our new Border Collie puppy, Henry. (Because sometimes I like to cram so much in to the space of 8 weeks to see exactly where my breaking point is. I have a feeling it could be toilet training this furball.)

Henry the Border Collie

Henry the Border Collie

Looking for a free read?

You can read my children’s short story, Neptune’s Postman, from the Celapene Press website for free.

Short stories and adventure

I’ve written before about how much Roald Dahl was part of my childhood, but I think it’s only recently that I’m realising how much his work has influenced who I am now – as a person and a writer.

There was one particular (and miserable) time as a child that I had a rash that no one could really explain. It had spread everywhere from my scalp to the soles of my feet, and it made me want to tear off my skin and curl up in a ball sobbing all at the same time.

I remember being naked in front of a group of strangers (doctors, obviously) for the first time. I was about ten years old and mortified. I felt like a science experiment, especially when the verdict was not far from ‘maybe it’s an allergy to something’.

During my recovery, I was loaded up on Roald Dahl books and my love for his stories grew. The Twits and The Witches were favourites of mine, but not long after that his short stories became a sort of magic to me. Their darkness and the hint of the unsaid always drew me closer.

So recently when I was trapped on a flight home (I’m quite cagey on planes), I chose to spend most of the time listening to the Roald Dahl short story collection, Kiss, Kiss. I remembered The Landlady who had a peculiar taste for taxidermy, the vicar in Georgy Porgy who is terrified of being close to a woman, and the wife in William and Mary who seizes her chance for revenge on her controlling husband.

In part, I love Roald Dahl’s work because I’ve have always been fascinated by the truth. When is the appropriate time for it and when it’s best to lie. After all, hiding the truth leads to secrets and secrets lead people to do the most extraordinary things. So now that I’m home and editing my current favourite manuscript (all writers have favourites), I’m not really surprised that it is about secrets and lies and morality.

I’ve always been fascinated by the things that people aren’t supposed to think or do, and how it can play out. But I’m also in love with the sheer joy and mischief that Roald Dahl’s writing brought to my life. 

These thoughts were what inspired me to write a blog post about why I love writing short stories for the Queensland Writers Centre. Something I will dive back in to after this current manuscript is polished and sent on it’s way.

If you want to know all of my short story secrets, then you’re in luck! I’m teaching a Short Story Workout for 14-19 year olds for the Queensland Writers Centre on 28 July. If you’re keen to come along, make sure you book as soon as possible by heading to their website. I’d love to see you there!

2013 SOYA Written Word shortlist

I’m so thrilled to be a finalist in this year’s Spirit of Youth Awards Written Word category.

I’ve had my head down for most of the year, developing my arts teaching business and going through a lot of upheaval in day job land, so I had entered in hope of receiving some encouragement for my writing.

Before I entered, I asked other writers about ‘being ready’ and ‘being good enough’ to submit for certain competitions and grants. We came to the conclusion that no one ever feels that confident and the best way to discover if you’re ready is to submit.

So, I’m glad I submitted to SOYA. (Despite looking through the other entries and deciding I didn’t have a chance.)  And being shortlisted has made me realise that I’m a harsh judge when it comes to my own writing.

It’s an honour to be listed alongside such talented and experienced writers and I’m enjoying reading their work on a rainy Friday afternoon.

Luckily, I have plenty of distraction from the rest of the judging process. I’ve started editing a YA manuscript that I love, I’m preparing for my first in-class show with my junior drama class and after that I’m heading for a few weeks of adventure in the UK and Europe.

You can read through my portfolio or view the other finalists on the SOYA website.