Mysterious Mysteries

This month, my brain has been over-loaded and turned to mush. I have been to both the CYA and SCBWI conference and have more advice than my little brain cells can handle. I’ve attended more book launches in the last few weeks than I’ve ever attended in my life and I’m transitioning from one work-in-progress to another.

But despite all of that, I know that this teensy story is true.

I found a USB in the back of my car this weekend that I’ve never seen before. I’m the second-owner of my car and I’ve had it for years now. There’s hardly ever anyone in the back seat and I just can’t figure out how the USB got there or who’s it could be. That’s the dull back-story.

What freaked me out was the name on the USB.

Mira is the lead character in my mermaid book and I had only recently finished writing the first draft. I’m quite secretive with my writing projects, so there are only a few people in the entire world who would know that.

Weird, huh?

I’ve had a few people ask what’s on the USB, but I don’t want to know. If I leave it a mystery then the magic stays alive with it and I prefer that to whatever the truth may be. In my experience, magic tends to be better than the truth…

SO, I’M IN LOVE WITH RON MUECK…

I’m not much of an art gallery kind of girl, although I love visiting the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane (GOMA).

Looking at paint splodges on canvas doesn’t do much for me. In fact, the last time I walked about looking at paintings I set off the alarms and had security guards charging for me. (Yeah, it was just a little embarrassing explaining that I’m short-sighted, not a thief.)

However, sculpture is something that I get really excited about. I can’t explain it but sculpture makes more sense to me. I love walking around it and looking at the details. I love imagining the piece out in the world; just appearing in a park or in the city streets and I love watching other people’s reactions. (Have you noticed how awkward people are in art galleries? They always want to come across more knowledgeable than they really are. It’s the same in intermission at the theatre. Truly awesome places for people-watching!)

At the moment GOMA has an exhibit of Ron Mueck’s work which I saw last month. I absolutely adored it and if you have the chance you should definitely go. What makes his work so captivating is the exact same thing that you need in your writing to draw people in – it’s detail. Here’s a few photos of his work to show you what I mean:

NAME CALLING

I have to tell you of this fear I have everytime I’m in a new class or in a waiting room or at the chemist.

It’s about my last name. For a surname of four letters people seem to have a lot of trouble with it.

Every time I’m in a situation where I know someone is going to say my full name I shrink with anticipation. I remember all the times someone has stood before me sitting with a group of strangers and called out in that painfully confident voice, ‘Kathleen Nude’.

I remember the tight-lipped smile I get when everyone looks at me as I stand up and I can hear them thinking, ‘Gosh, what an unfortunate surname. Wouldn’t you change it if that was your surname?’ I correct the pronunciation under my breath and pretend it never happened. (When I was little I used to say, ‘Noud rhymes with cloud’.)

Some days I giggle and other days I strut forward like I’m a burlesque star, but most of the time I’m sitting in the corner chair hoping I can give ten points to the person that says my name right.

KISSING SCENES

Last year I realised that I had never written a kissing scene and I panicked.

I stared at the blinking cursor on my screen wondering how I was going to write this moment without sounding like a total idiot. For some reason, I thought it might help to remember my first kiss so I could find the words.

My first kiss was at a school dance. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, so any contact with boys (especially a dance) was hot news. For those that don’t know, school dances are not about dancing. They’re about the dark corners behind the neat stack of plastic chairs, tallying who gets the most attention and coy walks to the water bubblers to see if the boy-of-the-minute is still cute under the fluorescent lighting.

The night had worn on and my friends and I were working on our sexiest moves when I was asked to dance by a mumbling boy in a black cap. Dancing in high school is easy; just hugging and two-stepping until you’re ready ‘for a walk’ or until you desperately signal a friend to save you from the boy’s sweaty grip.

Three or four whole songs may have played while I was dancing with Black Cap Boy (and I bet one of them was Salt-n-Pepa’s Push It). I looked up at him, thinking that I was getting tired of two-stepping when he leaned in close to me with his eyes closed. I thought, ‘This is it. I’m finally going to hit first base. I’m a woman.’

His lips were soft but then his teeth bumped against mine and I knew that this was no Hollywood kiss. His tongue swept inside my mouth, rolling and exploring until I began to worry about the saliva build-up between us. If his tongue didn’t retreat soon, we were going to need serviettes.

I pulled back, hoping that this was how other girl’s finished a kiss and finally swallowed. I didn’t meet his eye. Instead I saw a friend of mine looking at me with her thumbs up. I reached past the boy, grabbed her and wove through the crowd to the other side of the room to tell her about it. I never looked back and I never heard his name; he was just Black Cap Boy.

‘Aha,’ You say. ‘I bet Kathleen learned so much from dredging up such awkward memories.’ Nope. Unfortunately, I wanted to write a beautiful, intimate scene not an awkward one. Though I promise that writing my first kissing wasn’t nearly as awkward as my first kiss at the school dance.

Hope everyone has a fun Valentine’s day this weekend.

MOMENTS OF SERENDIPITY

I’ve been planning my next novel, editing another and researching for a short story. It’s a little chaotic but I’m enjoying switching between editing and researching depending on my mood. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’m not making as much progress as I want but little moments of serendipity make me stop and realise that everything is as it should be.

My next book takes place in Crete, which I’ve briefly talked about researching here. Every few months, I get emails from the American Institute of Archaeology magazine to vote on which cover I prefer for the next issue. The best part about voting is that I get to see the headlines early. So when I looked at the first cover and read, “First Minoan Shipwreck”, I jumped out of my seat and started dancing. It’s exactly the kind of information that I’m researching.

I’ve also been trying to talk myself in to getting my divers licence early next year. The next two books I want to write have a number of underwater scenes and I have no physical or emotional understanding of the deep sea. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered a friend I used to take acting classes with is going for their rescue divers licence. Not only that, but two other friends that I have known for a few months are also divers. It sounds crazy, but I think I’m meant to go diving.

Also, the short story I’m researching for is set in Brisbane after World War One. I have only started playing with the idea but then a friend’s mum had a collection of embroidered postcards sent home during the war sitting on the kitchen table. I wondered what it would have been like to get one of these postcards; a sign that the person you love is alive but without had any suggestion as to where they were or what they were doing. It made me curious to continue working on the story.

Somedays everything just seems to fall in to place.