Going Down Swinging #38

My short story ‘A quiet afternoon on the bay’ is part of this year’s collection in Going Down Swinging #38.

I remember the first copy of GDS I bought back when I was young, wide-eyed and recently moved away for university. I thought it was the absolute beez-kneez and – a bit like a wanker – was so inspired I filled in all the blank spaces around the poems and stories with words of my own. Then I clutched it to my chest, much like Gollum or a cast member from The never-ending story, and whispered, dramatically, ‘one day, you will be miiiiii-iiine.’

It took 13 years, but I got there. So when my copy arrives in the mail next week I suppose the only thing to do is to extract it carefully, pull it to my bosom, and whisper, dramatically, ‘I told you, you will be miiiii-iiiine’, then lurch-scurry back into my eery cave-dungeon for another decade or so.

haiku book reviews – part 10

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Mesmerising and
confronting: about how we
know without knowing.

Shrill by Lindy West
A funny, angry,
compassionate call to treat
each other better.

Naked by David Sedaris
Of all the laughs laughed,
the Sedaris laugh is the
best laugh of them all.

Daughters of Castellorizo by Zeny Giles
A story of what
keeps family together
and tears it apart.

Fathers from the Edge (edited) by Helen Nickas
I glimpsed my papou
in bits of every story,
thus crying through it.

Fighting Hislam by Susan Carland
Muslim women speak
from the heart, the head and core
of this vital book.

Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover
A story well told
by a masterful, watchful
crafter of stories.

Depends What Your Mean By Extremist by John Safran
As frightening as
it is funny, another
gripping Safran book.

Daily Rituals by Mason Curry
Your arty process?
Comparatively normal
alongside these ones.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Masterful stories
from the master of telling
a damn go(o)d story.

A Writing Life: Helen Garner & Her Work by Bernadette Brennan
Sharp and involving,
a well fitted tribute to
the master herself.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Stirring, consuming,
lyrical, darkly funny,
expertly crafted.

a world before podcasts?

I’m not quite sure what I did before podcasts. I’m certain there was something, but I can’t quite recall what. Now I can’t imagine life without them. I’m the person walking down the street seemingly chuckling to myself because you can’t see I’ve actually got ear buds in. Guffawing and tittering like a stylised movie sanatorium escapee as I pound the pavements and hover merrily at the traffic lights.

I’ve found podcasts to be refreshingly helpful for writing too. Once upon a time when I hit a creative roadblock I would go for a walk hoping to find inspiration. More often than not this involved a glum little internal monologue about how I would never write anything decent again, or else end in me listening to the same glum little song on repeat because I was certain it would provide some coded message that would spur me into literary action. [Roll your eyes quietly – we writers are both dramatic and sensitive].

Now when I hit play on a podcast, I forget for a while that I’m meant to be a dreary scribbler schlepping around my cold lonesome garrett, and inevitably return to said garrett ready to take up the metaphorical pen/literal laptop. It’s like those video games where you leech power from your opponents – drawing strength from the creative energy of others. Ba-ba-ba-baaaaaa [that is the sound of Super Mario after he eats the Mega Mushroom and becomes bigger. If you didn’t read it like that or have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sorry. Let’s all just move into the next paragraph and forget this ever happened.]

At the moment I’m loving these podcasts:

  • The Garrett – Australia’s best writers talking about writing and creativity
  •  Chat 10 looks 3 – Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales talk books, TV, food and pretty much everything else, while I pretend I’m sitting in the room topping up their Pinot Grigio and helping myself to the dips because we are all friends.
  • The Dollop – An American history podcast in which comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds share interesting/weird/incredible stories from America’s past.

Any new podcast suggestions?

a tale of two Irans

Kill Your Darlings was the first literary journal I ever read. I found out about it at the Emerging Writers Festival, early 20s and still constantly dazzled by the big city lights of Melbourne. I remember being delightfully scandalised by the name – so EDGY, so FRESH, so MELBOURNE – and scribbled it in my notebook alongside Going Down Swinging and a couple of others. I remember someone (embarrassingly, the bit I remember is not who) saying that their greatest advice was for emerging writers to be brave enough to call themselves writers – in the present tense and not in terms of something they would one day somehow become – so I made a pledge to call myself a writer from that point forward, and to pitch to every single one of those journals. Kill Your Darlings, by dint of its name, was my goal post, and boy did I miss those posts. Off the left boot and into the bleachers type misses…

But eventually, around the time my first book was published and after years of wonky kicks, I made it, and I was about as proud as you’d imagine of someone with my level of goal-oriented anxiety. Which makes it very bittersweet to see my name once more on the contents page, this time in KYD’s final print edition as it moves onto bigger and better things online.

My piece ‘A Tale of Two Irans’ was written in the process of researching manuscript 2 (which I promise to one day finish writing. One magical faraway day…) It’s about the expectations and assumptions we bring with us when we travel, and how these are inevitably smashed into a thousand pieces as we are reminded once more that humans are humans are humans, and that people are not their governments and governments aren’t always their people.

Thank you print-version KYD for being such a stellar publication and for fostering so many new and wonderful Australian voices. See you on the interwebs.


things I’ve been inspired by

It’s been ages since I did anything that resembled an actual blog post. What can I say, life gets busy – I’ve been working, I’ve been writing, I got a melodica, you know how it is.

But I did want to emerge from the [seemingly never-ending] bubble of writing book 2 to share a couple of novels that have thrown me off axis and left me breathless.

John Lanchester’s Capital is tremendous piece of writing, bringing together an assortment of characters all connected by the one residential street in London. I adored every line of Lanchester’s sharp, droll book and couldn’t bear it to end. I finished the book completely in awe of his ability to produce a coherent single book with so many interwoven characters, and of the perfection of his turn of phrase.

I also read and adored Vendela Vida’s The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, which I picked up by chance in The Paperback Bookshop. I’d heard her interviewed on the A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment podcast and was utterly sceptical of how well a literary book written in second person would work. As usual, I was staggeringly wrong. If you’ve not read it, I utterly recommend it. Again, I was completely in awe of her talent.

Now I’m off to read in the bath whilst drinking a beer, because Thursday night is my Friday night and Friday day is my writing day. Salute!

Haiku Book Reviews – part 9

Capital by John Lanchester
Funny, insightful,
one of those great books other
authors love-envy.

The Secret Son by Jenny Ackland
A curious and
sprawling story of secrets,
history and what ifs.

The Mule’s Foal by Fotini Epanomitis
Myth and legend wound
around family memory,
a stark village tale.

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
A one-night-can’t-put-

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
on motherhood, family,
gender and being.

My Place by Sally Morgan
This is the book that
everyone should reflect on
at ‘Australia’ day.

Something Fresh by P.G Wodehouse
Oh! PG Wodehouse,
where have you been all my life?
Could not put this down.

Antarctica by Gabrielle Walker
An intimate mix
of science, history, epic,
and discovery.

Mawson by Peter Fitzsimons
A long hard slog of
a journey into madness,
ice and history.

In Bed with Douglas Mawson by Craig Cormick
I came for Mawson
and stayed for Cormick’s insight,
portraits and funnies.

When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett
I mean, it’s like an
iceberg, right? So much happening
below the surface.

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida
Unassuming and rare,
this book delighted
and devastated me.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Her short stories are
whole and perfect, each one a
novel of its own

Shiver by Nikki Gemmell
A vibrant aching
story of ice and love and
vast immensity.

Ida by Alison Evans
Pulling you in page
by page, a clever take on
the pathways of life.

More than this by Patrick Ness
I walked into a
streetlamp because I couldn’t
stop reading this book.

The First Year by Gen Gannon
Clever and witty,
a stay-awake-late-reading
brilliant kind of book.