Thursday, 1 December 2016


30 days, a massive sleep deficit, large quantities of rum balls, small quantities of creme de cacao, 17 chapters, at least one scene that was only there to get me over the word count, and 50,037 words. I did it!

Not only did I win NaNoWriMo, but I've completed a full novella this time. Being YA means the word count can be a little shorter than your average novel, though I might well expand it significantly when I come to edit it. I'm not touching it again until January, to give it a good long simmering time first.

I think some parts of it are actually quite good. Several people want to see it and/or the drafted bits and pieces of The Damn Novel, but I'm still a little scared to set them free. Maybe next year ;)

I think I'm going to go compose music and do Christmassy things for a few weeks, then I might just start working on The Damn Novel again.

Monday, 4 July 2016


Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to be in Power. He had some Power but it wasn't the one he wanted. His friend from school had the Power he wanted, so he was jealous and sad.

One day, the man came across a peaceful field in which a cart and a team of horses had been left. The horses were wearing labels, which read xenophobia, poverty, disengagement and class propaganda. The man looked at the horses and thought:
"I could drive these all the way to Power!"

So he gathered up his friends, and they stuck new labels on the horses, so they all said the same thing: LEAVE. It had to be in capitals, you see. Then they painted some lies on the side of the cart and set off towards Power.

The cart went slowly at first, but the horses were strong, and soon it was rattling along at an alarming speed. Up ahead, the gates of Power loomed.
"Are we sure about this?" asked a few small voices.
"Of course! We're nearly there!" cried the others.

In the middle of the night, with a startling crash, the man and his cart broke through the beautiful gates and into Power. The horses shook themselves free of the reins and started running around, trampling everything in their path. As they did so, the man and his friends looked around in dismay. Not even counting the damage that the horses had done, Power was not the luxurious land they had imagined. I fact, it was a miserable wasteland.

"What's happened here?" the man demanded of the only person he could see. It was his old school friend, who shrugged and climbed off his mouldering throne.
"It was fine until you lot got here," he said, and he wandered off out of the gates.

The man looked at the throne, but it didn't look quite so good any more, while the land outside the gates looked as green and pleasant as ever. With a resigned sigh, the man turned and walked back out of the gates again. Behind him, the throne cowered as his friends crowded around it, pushing and shoving each other and occasionally shouting at the horses.

As the man vanished back into the countryside, one last person got out of the cart. He patted the lie painted on the side affectionately, spent some time glancing between the throne and the green land, then made up his mind.
"I'm going too!" he shouted, but no one cared.

Monday, 6 June 2016


Recently, I've been treating myself to a re-watch of Babylon 5. I missed this iconic 1990s Sci Fi series on its first run, and was only introduced to it a decade after it first aired; this is the first time I've watched it since.

One of the things that struck me on this viewing was how much the colours and soundtrack reflect the ambience of the 1990s. Pan flutes and orchestral bell glissandi fill the background; the walls are a mottling of blues, purples and pinks; the technology is built around crystals.

It feels like being 16 again.

The New Age tenor of the 1990s was one that drew me in as a teenager. I remember the scent of incense in the air, whale song and pan flute relaxation music in the background, cheesecloth and stretch velveteen, crystal pendants, blue-purple paintings of fairies touching noses with dolphins under a mystic moon. Sun-drenched days when my friends and I would take the train to Fremantle, eat ice cream from waffle cones in South Terrace Piazza, and lose ourselves in the (often unattainably expensive) mixture of cute, eclectic, romantic, spiritual and mystic wares in The Pickled Fairy, Ark of Joan and Into Camelot. Back then, every shopping centre had its "crystal shop" packed with geodes and prisms, slices of dyed agate, figurines of every mystic tradition from Ireland to Peru and back again, candles and oil burners, books and CDs, and cheap silver jewellery. I bought it, too... I had candles galore, crystals at every window, Tony O'Connor cassettes, glittery posters, cheesecloth outfits. Perhaps mercifully, I don't have any pictures handy to prove it. Have a very 90s fairy figurine instead:

Given to me at Christmas 1992. Her name is Lilia. I
shouldn't really still know that, right?
Photo: CSF
It's easy enough to create a sensory experience when you have the senses to play with, but it's more challenging when all you have is words. In fantasy, it's so easy to fall into the sensory shortcuts that the reader recognises - the pseudo-Europe of cold stone castles and oak trees. The Kingdom of the Sunset Sea is no such place. It's a sun-drenched land of red gravel and eucalyptus, of hot thunderstorms and dust, of cubic plaster houses and domed turrets replete with geometric designs. Every time I edit, I see more places where I can hint at the palette that paints the ten-towered world.