Coffee with a Leprechaun.

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Hi all,

It’s been rather a long time between posts, but the taxes and other horrible “stuff of life” things are behind me. This will be my last Virtual Coffee interview because I’m moving on to Virtual Business lunches. Not all writers write within the creative realm – in Cairns alone there are many writers who utilise the written word in graphic design, web content, promotional leaflets, etc. Heck putting together a restaurant menu requires well chosen words to tempt the palate. So, in thinking of making the transition from Coffee to Lunch I had to put my grey matter to work. Which local wordsmith would help me make the move?

I’m delighted to bring to you my Virtual Coffee interview with Cairns’ own leprechaun – Denise Carter. I know leprechauns are typically naughty little men who run around Ireland causing havoc, but Denise Carter is Irish and has been known to cause havoc! So I use a little artistic licence?

Doesn’t she look gorgeous in this photograph?

In keeping with the theme of this blog I asked Denise to meet me at the bottom of the rainbow. The invite stated – Next time you see a rainbow in Freshwater Valley make your way out. So, the opportunity presented and we found ourselves standing beside a pot of gold, I brought take-away coffees with the lids firmly fixed because rainbow rides can be very bumpy.

We dug a well in the centre of the gold coins – big enough for two bodies; climbed in, shouted the magic word (only Denise and I knew that), and set off. We rose slowly above the cane fields, getting a little damp from the soft rain but the view was stunning. I had to make sure I didn’t run out of rainbow before the end of the interview.  

I asked Denise what she’s working on.

“Currently, with my journalism hat on, I’m working on stories for Hit (our entertainment section) and the arts pages, and for Cairns Eye magazine. My most recent work is on Tim Ellis, an artist who worked in the film industry in the UK for twenty years, before hightailing it to far north Queensland to Port Douglas. In the past year he has turned his passion to painting and has his first exhibition at Cairns Regional Gallery which opens on 14th September 2013. I’m also writing a feature on ex-Cairns fashion student Mia Zielinski, who works cross media, using film and theatre as a platform for her fashion designs. It’s great working on stories on the arts end of the spectrum as I get to meet such interesting and inspirational people all the time.”

“I am happily procrastinating writing two book manuscripts; one, a YA novel about a contemporary Nancy Drew – type investigating a murder and the second one is about a girl, who waits, a lot.”

I laughed because Denise has such a delightful way of delivering her “funnies”. She continued without pausing for breath.

“I am also procrastinating my second semester of English honours at James Cook University  – I have deferred the semester – but I am researching for my thesis, which basically means I’m just reading about writing, because it’s going to be something about reading and how it leads to writing, or authors and how they write about other authors – I think I am driving my supervisor to drink – and I might join him.”

I then asked Denise what recent successes she had enjoyed.

She smiles that enigmatic smile and went on to say,

“A couple of years ago I was nominated as a finalist for the Romance Writer’s media award for a feature I wrote on romance author Barbara Hannay. It was a big surprise and a thrill to get the nomination. I didn’t win but had such a fun night in Melbourne at the awards with the romance writers, who really are such nice people. It was also great to be there at Helene Young’s table when she took out the Ruby Award along with Barbara Hannay. Then…” Denise pauses to gather her thoughts on yet more successes.

“In 2010 I was a finalist in the Queensland Media awards for my very cheerful feature on global climate change called, Mankind’s Last Chance. It was a very important feature to me because I felt very passionate about the issue, and had the chance to interview scientists from all over the world, and learn the truth – which wasn’t very pleasant, and yes, a tad inconvenient. But the Tableland will do well, so we can always climb a mountain.”

Denise went on to describe her best moments as a writer.

“I’ve had great moments as a writer if you count everything as being a writer from songwriting to journalism and beyond. ” (Which I do).  “When I was eighteen, I came third in a national songwriting competition in Ireland, which was a great thrill; mixing with the people I knew only from the radio and TV and being named as a composer. Not bad.”  She squirms a little as she recalls a memory from school. “In school, it was a bit embarrassing to have a teacher read out my composition in class but I do remember writing it and how it had actually scared me while I was writing, so it kind of stuck in my head. It stuck in other people’s heads too because a fellow student used the essay in her leaving exam.” Well they do say it’s the highest form of flattery!

“It was great writing my first theatre reviews for a magazine in Dublin, and even more wonderful when I was finally paid, and attended opening nights of the best shows in town and mix – or at least watch, the famous. It’s always great when you finish any article and you know it’s finished because there’s not a word you want to change and there’s a certain satisfaction in that. Of course, if you read it the next day, you will want to change it but thankfully it’s gone to print and it’s too late.” Denise laughs, “You have to learn to let your babies go.”

By this time we were high in the sky almost at the top of the rainbow – looking out towards the Coral Sea and Green Island on the horizon. The rain slowed but thankfully hung around long enough to prevent a rough landing. Denise had even more best moments to tell me about.

“It was great to find my first job in journalism, and to spend ages on my first news story and then to see it in print. My flatmate at the time had it framed – I think I since used the frame for something more worthwhile; a photo of my mam and dad.”

We move onto worst moments. Denise’s cheerful demeanour is not dented too much – she takes it in her stride.

“The worst moments as a journalist come when the person you are writing about doesn’t like how they have been portrayed. It certainly doesn’t happen often from the arts and feature writing perspective as much as it would happen in news, but it still happens. When it does it’s pretty deflating because you really are trying to be honest and give the best representation possible. Naturally, you’re not trying to hurt someone’s feelings. Mostly it happens because the person has told you things they didn’t mean to but only realise it when they see it in print, and then they can take their frustrations on you.  I think sometimes people forget you’re a journalist and they’re being interviewed. Then, sometimes, even though it’s no fault of the journalist an error can creep in through a mismatched headline or during the subbing process, but you can’t take it too much to heart or be too vain about it.” She shrugs her shoulders and says, “You have to swallow your pride and get on with the job.”

Having had such an interesting writing career I wondered what advice Denise would give to an aspiring writer.

“A writer is something you are already, rather than something you do for a living. I was always a writer in the sense that even when I was very young, I kept a journal. On holidays when my friends were reading books I would go and buy a note book so I could write. It has always been an essential part of me. Over time, I have written poems, songs, essays, reviews, news, features, a column, a blog, academic essays and now a thesis (hopefully) and maybe one day I will finish a book manuscript. Writing is a continual learning process, and it can be very fulfilling. I guess the advice there is to take heed of old adages like keep a journal and one day the journal may keep you.

Writing for work and to a deadline can take the fun out of the creative process but you learn to live with deadlines and it makes your writing better, faster and less self conscious. It can even, weirdly, help with creativity. My features editor told me my best features have been written in two hours bashed up against a deadline.”

Maybe the take-away from that is set deadlines for yourself – even if no one else is setting them for you. It brings some discipline.

After finding ourselves somewhere over the rainbow – on the descent, Denise says,

“The flip-side is if you work at writing, the last thing you want to do is to write for fun. It helps me if I change the way I write – from a computer at work to a notepad and pen at night. Writing is personal as much as public, so you choose what you want it to be and to what degree. There are some things I would never give up to the public eye as they are too personal. And nobody can actually stop you writing.”

Finally as the rainbow faded from the sky, Denise told me why she writes.

“I write for a newspaper, so it’s my job, and it’s a privilege because sometimes it doesn’t feel like real work at all. Other times it most certainly does and is very tiring. But it’s better by a long chalk than any other work I’ve done. When I was a PA and bored most of the time, I wrote to amuse myself, little poems here and there, and for self-expression. It comes naturally and it also helps to get all of the madness out of my head. So, I guess I write for all of these reasons; for work, therapy, pleasure, and to try and put my world into some kind of context.”

The rainbow disappeared and so did the gold – I watched one of Cairns’ most delightful and engaging personalities disappear down the road and felt very privileged to have spent time with Denise Carter.

 

 

 

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Wandering off piste but I’ve still got time for coffee or schnapps or both!

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PaulienPiazzaNovonaRomaPauleins workPauleins work2
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Hi all
I’m wandering off piste so to speak because Paulien isn’t a writer – she’s a very talented illustrator (among other things). You may recall in June Perkins’ interview I introduced you to some of Paulien’s work. She is illustrating one of June’s books – the black and white illustration above. Paulien and June are dear friends and I first met Paulien at a Book Creators Circle meeting (www.bookcreatorscircle.com.au), where she talked about her work. We were very fortunate to meet her as she lives in the Netherlands and was on holiday in Cairns at the time.

Paulien was very keen to join me in a virtual coffee interview so here we are.

She had this to say, “I like my coffee black, hot and sweet, espresso or long black, never with milk!”

I’m sure she’ll have it with Schnapps though. It’s been stinking hot in Europe so I scoured the internet to discover the best place to ski and we’re actually in Queenstown, New Zealand – where else? Paulien can cool down. I’m not anticipating a great deal of skiing will occur as it’s very hard to talk, drink coffee, schnapps and hold onto those pole things. Then there’s the business of staying upright on skis and wearing all those clothes.

Sooooo to cut a long story short we are pretending to ski and have found our way into a wonderful little coffee shop to do the après ski thing and I am very confident about my ability to see it through. Paulien nods her approval – she can’t speak at the moment because the schnapps has gone up her nose and her eyes are watering.

Paulien eventually signals her ability to speak and I ask about her latest project.

“I am working on a very ad hoc basis, since Multiple Sclerosis sometimes gets in the way of my daily routine. I had been working in advertising since the early 1990’s – which was little young me in a macho world of mad men with an overdose of testosterone, inferiority complexes muddled into superiority complexes. It was then and there that I vowed I would never let myself be pushed into being scared of anyone and anything. Never! But the MS made that impossible, too many deadlines and too much stress, so I am on a disability pension now.”

We’ve moved onto the coffee and apple strudel now Paulien continues.

“I was having MS relapses four or five times a year, with periods of being into hospital. This was wreaking havoc on my body. So it was considered best that I stop working. Maybe it was good for the old body, but not so for the mind. I was getting bored silly, doing nothing, sitting around…”

Paulien hasn’t let the problems of managing chronic disease like Multiple Sclerosis get in the way she just looked at how should could make her life different, less stressful and still be productive, creative and feel good about herself.

“It was then I decided I would go to the art shop, buy myself some paints, brushes and really nice paper.” She smiles and says, “Never be cheap on your materials! I started with watercolour, which was a great choice. I think I have grown rather well into it, and will be a learning experience for a lifetime. Watercolour will always surprise the artist, which is one of the attractions of the medium. I don’t have the patience to do oils but I’d love to be the next Van Gogh.”

 Paulien’s face lights up as she smiles.

“I can forget about the world when I do watercolours. Time flies and for me, it’s true ‘Zen Meditation’ – I can get lost for hours or days even. I also like to sketch. I am so fortunate that I can draw what I see; perspective and dimensions came naturally to me, without being educated. Art school of course did the polishing of the raw edges, but I think I am blessed to have such a talent. But watercolour and all the mystifying qualities are mesmerizing and I keep coming back to them.”

 The coffee schnapps and apple strudel all went down so easily we decide to move onto round two. This après ski stuff is much more fun than skiing! Paulien is one feisty woman. I ask her about recent successes.

“Ever since I was declared ‘disabled’ – I still hate the word – I have been trying to find things to keep me busy. However I was thankful to meet people who were disgusted with the easy manner in which society deals with those of us who are who are ‘blemished’ in some way. The upshot of one meeting was to be invited to illustrate a book for publication. I ended up making the whole thing, page layout and all, and it was my personal victory that it worked well. Years of experience as a graphic designer in the advertising world made me an expert in the work and it was a very nice book that came out at the end.”

Check out the illustrations and book ‘Tien’ on Paulien’s website www.colourproof.nl

 We’re both very relaxed now.

“So, now that I was being more confident I started doing the odd design jobs for friends and various people who cared for me, to do their design work. It was totally enjoyable, and every one knew my situation, and understood that I might need a little extra time because I wasn’t always up to working when my energy levels dropped or when I had to go to hospital. I don’t ignore the fact that I have MS, but I tend not to let it rule my daily life, I like to do whatever I still am capable of and make the very most of it … after all, life is worth living, and quite nice most of the time! Celebrate every day like it could be your last and it will never make for regrets…”

You’ll have realised by now Paulien does not let her illness get in the way of her plans and ambitions. She goes on to tell me of a wonderful serendipity.

“In 2011 I bumped into an old friend who had moved abroad to get into business with a marketing tycoon. She came back to the Netherlands, very successful but cheated out of the business scheme and had to start all over again. I told her she could make use of my design skills when needed; I’d be helping her to get back to her feet in the marketing business. It was the best thing – we turned out to be a golden duo! And together we have been making some really successful communication and design plans. We have some plans for the future, but we need to wait for the economy to make a kick start in Europe!”

Watch this space!

“Of course I had been doing some illustrating work with my college childhood friend June, from the time I had been living in Australia, which was lovely – it was such a nice constant in my life.”

 I ask Paulien about her best moments as an artist?

“I think I have had many great moments in my life as a designer/illustrator/artist… There have been many highlights, but I cannot really pick one. In the Netherlands there is no such thing as an award culture; actually, it is rather frowned upon. It seems like the Dutch think it is not wise to say that you might be better than someone else.  Which I think is sad, because having been part of the Australian culture for a while I think it fine to have people excel in things and praise them for it.”

I’ll digress for a moment. A point to ponder. Why would anyone want to ski when you can sit in a cosy cafe with an inspirational woman like Paulien, drinking coffee and schnapps, and eating apple strudel ’til it comes out of your ears!  Just a thought.

“By the way,” sighs Paulien, “I miss Australia to bits, but I am also a very European girl, and the simple fact that I know I can get into my car and be in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, by nightfall is just so very appealing… all the culture and history around me is so very stimulating! I have become a strange mixture of Australia and Europe and really miss one or the other when I am visiting any place, either in Europe or Australia … I am both and yet I am neither.”

Now for the biggy – what have been your worst moments?

“I don’t think I have had so many worst moments as an artist/illustrator. I always find things to do, I am such a creative soul, and unfortunately my days are often too short to do all the things I want to do in them.”

I think that is something we all feel.

“I had to give up clay modelling and sculpting because that is physically too hard but I can still draw and paint and even make some jewellery if I feel the urge. Once I thought my worst moment was when I was declared disabled, and I couldn’t work any more, but then I discovered a whole new world out there and I have been starting some fantastic projects, with June Perkins, and Matilda Elliott, Eleanor Bennet and Wendy MacKenzie and Dianne Baines through Book Creators Circle. I am proud of some book covers – Ever Essence from David Hollands Curran, and Temptress reclined at rest for Letizia De Rosa and the newest: Pursuit, by Jim Murdoch.”

“I probably don’t need to ask but why do you do what you do?”

“I need to create; it is in my blood…. I feel the urge to do so, even if there is no one to make it for; I make it because it is in my head and needs to come out, it can be triggered by a word or a smell or something I see around me in town, or in my house, or on the TV. It has to come out, it has to grow, it has to be born. I often ‘make’, create something in my head, and then it sits there until I find the time to come out. It feels like some kind of pressure that builds up and might explode, and I carry a notebook to make notes and sketches as to release the pressure. I need to create to be…. to breathe, to feel alive.”

Not so different from a writer – it’s simply the urge to get something down on paper. The first step in turning an idea into a piece of artwork whether it’s a book, a painting, a sculpture, a film – the process is the same.

Paulien has some final details she wishes to share.

“Here’s my website and some other online destinations which might interest you.”

 Website www.colourproof.nl

Pursuit: https://www.createspace.com/4129884?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

Ever essence: http://everessenceworld.com/

 And, if you contact me on Facebook, there are some albums I can share: ‘practicing’, ‘thoughts on ms’ (illustrations), and ‘illustrations 2009’ (exhibit of photo collages).

 Maybe you’d like to take your magic carpet to the city of Groningen; here’s the wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groningen

Remember I said I was getting back in the driving seat – well here’s what happened!

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camp crazy coverTrudie Trewin

Okay we are off. I’m very firmly in the driving seat – absolutely no room for growth when you put your butt into the driving seat of a Lamborghini Gallardo – a very sporty little number. Which I don’t own – I’m hiring. I’m on my way to pick up Trudie Trewin. Won’t she get a surprise? We are travelling in style.  Our trip will take us along the coast from Cairns to Port Douglas and to the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple resort and spa. Try saying that after a few drinks!

As we cruise along the coast road, Coral Sea glittering in the sunlight, towards Port Douglas I ask Trudie what she’s working on at present.

“At the moment I have about three picture book texts in varying stages of completeness and a young adult novel which is still brewing in my mind. I need to clear some points with the Federal Police before I get too much further into the plotting for that one. Now that sounds intriguing doesn’t it?  And how boring am I going to be, because I don’t really like to talk too much about what I’m working on at the moment – I’ve had too many people comment, ‘Are you STILL working on that one!’ So now I like to just surprise them with a completed book!”

Anyone not in the book business has absolutely no idea how long the writing, editing, publishing process can be. There are exceptions but most suffer this frustration. Trudie has just interrupted with, “Are we there yet?” How childish. We’re not and she still doesn’t know exactly what I have in store for her.

Trudie goes on to tell me some of her recent successes. “I have a short novel with Walker Books coming out mid year – one of their ‘Lightning Strikes’ series. It involves the same characters as my first Lightning Strike book, Camp Croc. This one is called Camp Crazy and is another humorous mis-adventure of boys in the bush.  Also coming out early next year is a picture book with Windy Hollow Books. It’s called Calpepper’s Place and is about a camel looking for a more exciting place to live than the desert. The illustration roughs that I’ve seen have me very excited to see the finished product – some of the expressions on Calpepper’s face are so funny!”

I am constantly amazed at the talent of illustrators to bring a story to life and how often the illustrator sees something in the story that the author hasn’t ever thought of. I know Trudie received a surprise like that with her book, I’ve lost my Kisses.

We pull into the car park, Trudie and I endeavour to extricate ourselves from the low seats. She’s infinitely more graceful; swinging her legs sideways using the door and seat back as support. I, on the other hand, adopt the fall sideways onto the ground method. I’ll let your imaginations fill in that picture. Giggling we check into the spa. We are having the works. Total body massage, sauna, facial, manicure, pedicure; finishing with an invigorating swim in the resort pool before booking into our rooms. We’re staying overnight because I have a lot of champagne to drink and I’m not driving back until tomorrow! During all of this pampering we will be fed delicious titbits of smoked salmon, oysters, prawns; washed down of course with the icy cold champagne. The staff will then bring strong coffee for me and cleansing green tea for Trudie.

As we relax under the skilled hands of our respective masseuse Trudie tells me about her best moments so far as a writer? “

“Best moment is a tie between getting my first picture book acceptance for I’ve Lost My Kisses, with Scholastic Press, and the day the package containing the author copies arrived. I carried a book around with me everywhere that day, popped it in front of me while I ate, read it on the toilet, shoved it in everybody’s face, and made my family listen to me read it until I fell asleep with it on my pillow!”

I’m aching for the day I can do just that.

Now we are quite relaxed I feel brave enough to ask Trudie about her worst moment. She sighs, gives me her cheeky grin and spills the beans. It also involves her first book.

“Firstly was the excellent news that Scholastic in the US were going to publish I’ve lost my Kisses, then the even better news that they were using it as their lead book for the Spring catalogue and printing 30,000 copies (usual print run for a non-US pic book is about 8000). When the author copies arrived, I grabbed one of the books and read through – only to discover that the resolution line “I’m filling up with kisses,” gasped Matilda. “Just exactly when I need them.” was missing. I checked my proofs – the line was included in the proofs I signed off on…. so it MUST be in the books, right? I reached for another copy… same thing. I was still in denial – it wasn’t until I was reading the third copy that the realisation slowly dawned on me that of course if the line was missing in one book, it would be missing in all thirty thousand books. Bad day in the Trewin house that day. Scholastic US apologised profusely and sent me a box of Hershey’s Kisses.  I shouldn’t complain as it still sold reasonably well in the States, but I can’t help thinking it would have done so much better if it hadn’t had the printing mistake in it!”

I don’t know about you but I felt my heart sink as Trudie told me that. She’d done everything right and yet…

My manicure is progressing nicely; Trudie is being pedicured as she imparts advice for aspiring writers.

“Read widely, in your genre, and in others. Persevere. Don’t listen to your family’s praise of your work (remember, your mother used to stick your squiggles of crayon and blobs of paint on the fridge and declare them to be masterpieces!)  People who love you have unreliable opinions of your work! Get critiques from manuscript assessors, enter competitions.”

With some difficulty we continue the conversation swathed in warm towels. We’re about to have facials so just before I drop off I ask Trudie why she writes.

“Unlike some writers, I don’t have a need or compunction to write. I’ve heard other writers say they can’t not write. And I’ve always felt like a bit of an impostor because I don’t have that same drive! Don’t get me wrong, I like writing, even love writing, but I don’t need to write.  In fact I’ve been very successful at not writing for months at a time when life gets too busy! In the end, I guess I really enjoy playing with an ordinary sentence or paragraph, and turning it into something that makes me smile, laugh or cry.”

Can someone remind me why I said we’d finish off with an invigorating swim? I’m far too relaxed and Trudie is fighting to keep her eyes open. I think we’ll finish off with a restorative snooze instead.

News hot off the press: Camp Crazy appears in the shops tomorrow; published by Walker Books as part of their Lightening Strikes series. Wooohoooo!

A memory jogger and a very strong coffee

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http://www.amazon.com/author/dianefinlay

Hi all,

Like a butterfly I’m emerging from a cocoon. Unlike a butterfly I didn’t cocoon instinctively it just sort of happened!

A wonderful holiday – then something left field, followed by Tax time (and it is taxing on my brain sometimes) then the coming of the Great Snot – there’s a story in that … I was poleaxed. I’m not often ill and rarely badly affected when I am – maybe it’s my age and I get it big and bad now.

This brings me to the point of this post. I’m putting myself back into the driving seat and reminding myself of the reason for my Virtual Coffee series of interviews. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted and there are authors out there who are wondering if I’ve forgotten them. I haven’t. I’m pinning myself down on this one – there will be a new Virtual coffee interview next week. There now I’ve said it – it’s in print so I must hold myself accountable and produce the work.

I think another reason for posting the front cover of my e-book apart from the obvious Shameless Plug – the marketing arm of Find Publishing Pty Ltd. is to remind myself that I am able to set goals work steadily towards them and achieve a good result. This is something I have to draw very heavily on when working on my children’s novels. Why don’t the publishers want them? I just haven’t found the right publisher yet. If only NSW School magazine published children’s novels – the editorial team there totally get where I’m coming from and have published several of my children’s short stories and poems. So … if I can do it there I can and will do it somewhere else. I’m not a terribly patient person and maybe this is the lesson I’m being taught in this part of my journey as  writer. I have to have some sort of take-away other wise what’s the point?

I’m never too sick to read.

But he’s wonderful around the house.

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Had a magnificent walk with this critter this morning. We are into perfect winter weather now. I am soooooo lucky to have the most wonderful park on my doorstep. Buddy runs away from me while I charge around the park like an eegit with a bag of tasty morsels to tempt him back to me.

Does it work?

NO.

I am now the proud owner of a dicky shoulder, sore neck, very painful sacro iliac joint and a ripped deltoid muscle (and I don’t mean I’m ripped with bulging muscles). The dog tore it when he decided to leap off in a different direction to me. You know those wonderful “Halti” creations which will train your dog not to pull? Well as he leapt and ripped my deltoid he also ripped the “Halti”

I’ve counted four very large bruises on my shins from when he has barrelled into me.

However I am happy and I believe he is too. You don’t know what you are letting yourself in for when you take on a rescue dog – just as well really. Ignorance is bliss.

But he truly is wonderful around the house.It’s just he’s a Jekyll and Hyde dog. I just haven’t worked out where he keeps the potion!

In truth it is puppy madness – he’s not quite 2 years old and filled with pure joi de vivre. I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me as I tear up and down the grassy slopes, yelling my head off. I’m proud I have the fitness level and the stamina to do all of this exercise because we have to go out and do it all again after he’s had his dinner. Then he has to go out again with Stuart when he gets home from work. That mission is to find the next BIG thing; usually a tree branch which he lovingly carries home in his mouth and is so proud of himself.

Just like kids and the terrible two’s you think will never end – before you know it your kids are grown and leaving home. So as with my kids I cherish the mad and happy times with my dog.

Eight males

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I’m still rehashing blog posts – what with the yucky stuff and block exams for my youngest son David I’ve not been in the head space to write. Also I’ve just received word from a literary agent  – she doesn’t want me. I am so sick of not being wanted by anyone. I have one shot left that I know of. Penguin do an open slather thing in October – so I can pitch my Star Makers Trilogy to them.

Anyway this post was originally written in March 2013 and concerns my son Adam – who lives in Brisbane. Since then David has been moving ahead in leaps and bounds with his band In Embers. Much of what I say below about Adam and Sevenskies applies to David and In Embers. Anyone who wants to listen to In Embers can do so on this link – I warn you it’ll blow your ears off!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBJeNiIGVHg&feature=youtu.be

So back in time to March 2013…

I’m late with my blog post on account of having eight; yes EIGHT males in my house on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’m not complaining it was lovely because one of the eight was my son Adam – remember Buddy the rescue dog came into our lives to fill the gap when Adam moved to Brisbane.

 As I write five of the eight are safely back in Brisbane. My son’s band Sevenskies was on tour with three other bands all travelling around the country. They met up with a local band, so Cairns received a massive injection of Death Metal/ Heavy Metal. It had been a long time since any shows had been played in Cairns. All the bands have moved south because Cairns is so out of the way – but the thing is with Cairns – the kids  are so starved of this type of underground stuff the reception was mind blowing. The headline band travelled from Melbourne and Cairns kids welcomed them with open arms. Their gigs continue down the coast.

There are a lot of these types of gigs – All ages, drug and alcohol free – but none happening in Cairns at the moment for followers of this type of music. My other son, David, had one of the best weekends – he had his brother to stay – he met yet more metal heads, had a gig to go to and was able to ‘MOSH’ (I’ll explain in a minute) interrupted only by the need to turn up at work on Sunday – which he did albeit a bit sore.

Moshing is a verb used to describe the action of going berserk to the music. The Mosh pit is the area where one is allowed to mosh. No moshing is allowed outside this area. The remainder of the room is to be used for only for sitting and standing and appreciating the music and the moshing. It’s very much like the stuff I used to do with the punk bands back in the early ‘80’s but I’m not allowed to say that. I’m too old and it’s absolutely inconceivable that I could ever have stood in area close to a band and gone berserk!

David summed it all up and said, “Moshing is the best way to deal with shit.” I do know what he means. To dance like you have never danced before, to put yourself into a trance-like state where only you and nothing else exists, to transport yourself out of the everyday, out of the mundane to transcend into an elevated state of conscious awareness – I know what he means.

The same thing happens all over the world in many cultures where the beat of the drums stirs something deep within us, as human beings. It is visceral, elemental and powerful.

So having five young men to stay in my house who were going to help transport a bunch of local kids into a state of ecstasy all without drugs and alcohol has got to be a good thing. Those five young men were all so appreciate of having a room to sleep in with beds instead of the hard floors they had endured on the drive up the coast. A couple of home cooked meals thrown in instead of Macca’s were a welcome bonus.

Being in a band is hard work, they all hold down jobs or are at Uni and have to fund this themselves which they do by designing their own t-shirts, Mosh pants and hoodies and selling the merchandise at gigs. They pay to record in studios, pay someone else to do production and someone else to do graphics and organise their own online sales outlets.

So I support these five, fine young men because I see them doing everything they can possibly do to fullfill their dreams. They absolutely deserve any and all the success that comes their way. There are so many lessons in life happening in this process (that many people would see as a waste of time because they haven’t got a, proper job).

What I see is a skill set being built, learning to deal with people, learning to organise time and resources, managing car and truck hire, venue hire, the list goes on. I’m proud to be the mother of the lead guitarist; I’m humbled by their energy, drive and determination. I’m glad I had the privilege of looking after them.

I now wish to add that my heart is full to bursting after watching In Embers at Redlynch Rocks on Friday 7th June. The energy these guys send out just blew me away. The same valuable lessons are being learned. In Embers pay at JCU Kaleidoscope on Saturday 22nd June – I’ll be there too cheering them on.

 

Surely it can’t get any worse…

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Story Bridge

Story Bridge – Brisbane.

Image credit – Eduardo MC.

 

I first had this blog published in the “500 word ABC open project. I thought I’d put it up here because I’m a bit behind with new stuff. Something came out of left field and it rather took the wind out of my sails so reading this reminded me of just how far I’ve come. It was not an auspicious start but I know my story is by no means unique – it’s just my story.

I’d come to Brisbane with my husband and fifteen month old baby; we arrived Saturday 17th October 1991 – it was 33 degrees Celsius, which was a bit of a shock to a Pom.

 We’d come to Australia to see if we liked it. My husband applied to work as a locum doctor – the first three months would involve night work as a mobile GP in Brisbane. After that he’d be offered daytime work in General Practice, then regional Queensland.

 It all sounded very nice…

 First disaster after getting over the shock of the heat and Brisbane Airport shed – the agency had forgotten us. Our planned pick-up didn’t happen. Imagine being jet-lagged, lost, forgotten – no mobile phones and when finally able to get through to the agency being put through to the answer machine. There was absolutely nothing we could do. We didn’t have any family or friends in Brisbane; we were relying on this agency to do what they had promised. It was the agency who booked the flights on our behalf so they knew when we were due to arrive.

 I learned the Aussie phrase, “She’ll be right,” meant nothing of the sort!

 Eventually we were picked up and taken to a car hire place near Breakfast Creek. I loved that name: it conjured up some wonderful images for me. However it was the only wonderful thing about that whole day. They hadn’t been told we would have a baby with us so were unable to provide a child safety seat! The reason we had to get a hire car was because all of the agency’s fleet cars were in use and ours was being repaired and wouldn’t be ready for a few more days.

 I hope you are beginning to feel the dread. I am actually suffering as I right this post – it is the first time I’ve told this story and as I write I am shaking and feeling tearful. Remember we had no one to help us – only the agency.

 The fear was growing exponentially. If any harm came to me it was okay – but not my baby.

 We had to drive with our baby and no car seat to our accommodation – given a map and pointed in the right direction. As we set off we realized the petrol gauge was low. At the garage the young pump attendant noticed we didn’t have a car seat. She was incredulous when we told her the tale. She directed us to the nearest mall.

 The only food the agency had provided for us when we got to our unit was a small jar of coffee, tea bags a small carton of milk, a loaf of bread and some margarine.

 By now it was Saturday afternoon and we had to go shopping – but can anyone remember what happened to the shops in Brisbane – indeed Queensland – in 1991 on a Saturday afternoon – THEY CLOSED. We eventually found a ‘Franklins’ store and persuaded management to let us run round quickly to stock up for a couple of days.

 After leaving Brisbane and working in regional Queensland things improved dramatically. This locum agency closed down or went out of business – I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do care about is eventually arriving in Cairns, meeting kind people who befriended us, took pity on us and helped. They helped so much we came back in 1995 and have been here ever since.