Saturday, 30 March 2013

Until Thy Wrath Be Past

I’m kicking into Swedish crime right now, and it’s all been inspired by Asa Larsson, whose name is actually pronounced something like ‘Ursa Lawson’, and whom I met at the Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards last year.

Asa is a really lovely woman and she completely amazed me by answering all the interview questions in English with great knowledge and candour, which I found incredible as I sometimes struggle to put two words together while speaking in my native language in public, and she did it all in her second (or maybe her third – I think she speaks Finnish) language.   She just came across as being really honest and charming and genuine, and also quite erudite.

She explained that her hometown of Kiruna in north Sweden is in the process of being totally demolished and re-located, as the ore that forms the backbone of the town’s economy and existence was discovered to run directly under the town.  So the mining company is relocating every person and building to another site – which seems quite cold and unreal, but everyone depends on it for their livelihood.  She spoke quite movingly about all the beautiful places in the town that she loved, and how the next time she returned to Kiruna they just wouldn’t be there anymore – the whole place where she grew up will be in a completely different location.

So I just had the chance to read her most-recently translated book Until Thy Wrath Be Past and I loved it – it’s another in a series of books about lawyer Rebecka Martinsson, and a fantastic murder mystery, with quite lyrical spiritual elements that kind of curl through and around the story, and give the characters a distinctly beating heart.  If you have a chance, look it up.

And if you can rec any good Swedish crime, hit me upI'm really enjoying the change from most contemporary urban crime, which is usually all gritty noir-ish streets, whereas Swedish crime has this stark contrast with the environment - so clean and white and bright.  I read Let The Right One In by John Lindqvist some time ago, and was struck by the different feel of the writing (although the genre was quite different), and the effect the environment had on the whole tone and style of the story.  It reminded me of a another story I love, the film Fargo - that is an awesome film, not the least because the protag is a very heavily pregnant woman.

Now I’m off to read The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver and The Selection by Kiera Cass – I said I’d use my down-time to pig-out on other people’s books, didn’t I?  Yep, I’m totally indulging myself.

Have a lovely chocolatey Easter, and if you have the chance, curl up on the couch with a good book and a big Easter bunny and a glass of wine…

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


D’you know what’s fun?

What’s fun is sitting upstairs in one of the offices of Allen & Unwin with my copyeditor, the amazing Hilary, and cups of tea and a plate of snickerdoodles, going through the manuscript line by line, and talking about the characters like they’re real people.

Because I don’t get to indulge in that very often - the character-talk, not the snickerdoodles – and it’s fantastic.

Although snickerdoodles are good too, and I’d never had them before.  Kind of a doughy flat cinnamon biscuit with sugar on top.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Earworms, and Freedom

Earworms: we all get them, and I don’t think there’s an immediate cure for them.

I have been listening to Rihanna’s song ‘Stay’ – over and over on the computer, and also (conveniently or not) in my head.  Probably because it puts me in the mood for re-reading and editing Book 2.  The sequel to Every Breath is a bit more angsty, so it’s very appropriate.

My brain has decided to focus on the sequel now that Every Breath is so near completion.  And also – hey, that’s my job now, to be thinking about a new book every year (omg, I can’t believe I get to say that!)

But it got me thinking that my music choices have become very eclectic in the last few years.  I was not a pop girl in high school – the complete opposite.  I was into Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon (god) and also my dad’s old records, so I listened to a lot of Santana and Eric Clapton and Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder and blues.  Later I got into the Beatles and Joplin and Aretha.  But never any top-40 stuff – I just wasn’t really up with it.

But I think the influence of my son’s iPod selection is creeping in, in a big way.  My current favourites include LMFAO and Adele and Taylor Swift (actually I found that one on my own), and it’s kind of freaking me out that as I’m getting older, my music taste seems to be getting younger and younger.  At this rate I’ll be listening to the Wiggles in my sixties.

One of the benefits of living in a rural area is that no one can hear you play the same crazy song over…and over…and over…

But anyway.  Peoples - I am free!  Yes, the copyedits are done.  Well, mostly.  Well, for the time being.

I mean, I’m sure there will be another pass, wherein queries are cleared up and suggestions are taken, and finally there will be a document without any of those annoying Track Changes bubbles in the margin.  But at the moment the bulk of the work is done.  All that’s left are the fiddly bits.

So basically…I’m tired.  Copyedits wore me out.  I have a new and infinitely greater respect for Hilary, my copyeditor – that chick is ama-zing.

In celebration of the fact that WE MADE IT, and that is pretty much all that’s left to do before the book goes to the printers, and my brain is kind of limping, saying Oh-god-please-no-not-another-line-of-dialogue…  I am thinking of launching into a TEXT-FREE WEEK.

Cath Crowley introduced me to the concept – it’s kind of writer’s recovery mode for your head.  So, no writing, no emails, no Facebook, no (gasp) reading.  Just talking to people (omg!  I still have friends!  And a family!), and walking, and exercising, and watching tv, and looking at stuff.  Experiential stuff.  Art galleries and nice food and conversation, and spending time with my kids.

When I first heard of it I was kind of horrified (not at the idea of spending time with my kids – I like to do that), but now I totally see the sense in it. Because I've been outputting for a long time, and I think I really need some inputs.  Nice food, talk, visuals, hugs - yeah, I could really handle some of those inputs right now.

Of course, I may just use the time to pig-out on other people's books - that's inputs, right?  And a week without books is kind of torturous for me.  But I could do with some writing down-time.  So if I go dark for a few days, don't worry - I'll be back, with lots of weird stuff to blog about.

Speaking of Cath Crowley - she is a fantastic writer, and I'm so incredibly excited that she's offered to blurb Every Breath!  Yes, that is amazing, and I can't believe one of my favourite Australian writers has actually read my book, and enjoyed it enough to blurb it.  I am over the moon! (the Graffiti Moon, heh)

And I can't believe that Every Breath is going to be have a cover, and a blurb, and be out on an actual bookshelf somewhere, in just a few months...


Friday, 15 March 2013

Rack Off, Bunnies of Doom!!

Rabbits are destroying our fruit trees.  No, seriously, rabbits are all over the place at the moment, because it has been so hot and dry and all the creeks have dried up.  So they’re hopping into our place, searching for something tasty, and they see our beautiful young fruit tree saplings and decide they’re onto a groovy thing.

All our fruit trees have been nearly completely ring-barked, all the way up to the lower branches.  Leaves and fruit on the under-storey of the trees have been eaten.  And the trees are starting to look like tiny gnomes with whittling knives have been working on them

Rack off, Bunnies of Doom!!

It’s very frustrating, watching something you’ve planted and watered and mulched and fertilised and fussed over get attacked like this.  Of course we’ve put up mesh and wire barriers, but the rabbits seem to be really good at getting through these.

Our dog is hopeless.  She’s a herder, not a hunter, so she just stands there, tongue hanging out, watching the bunnies hop all over the place, and then she looks up at you with this expression of ‘Hey, aren’t you going to do something about this?’

  The only way to really deal with it might be to have a cull.  Yes, I know it sounds cruel, but there are literally thousands of rabbits, plague-proportion-level rabbits (listen to someone who lived on a farm in the 40’s, they’ll tell you about it), and the viruses that used to deal with the rabbit population has lost a lot of effectiveness in the dry weather.

So you have to be mean sometimes, and grow a thicker skin, is what I’m saying in my Clumsy-Metaphor way.  Which is a bit of theme at the moment, as I’m dealing with the nail-biting process of US submission, and also copyediting.

I’m not dealing with US submission – actually my agent, the amazing Catherine, is dealing with US submission (thank god, it would take 10 years if I did it).  She is good at breaking bad news to me gracefully, and I’m learning to stay upbeat about not being accepted for publication by the first US publisher who sees my Glorious Manuscript Made of Gold (‘What, you don’t want my work?  What could possibly be wrong with you?’).

I really hope Every Breath goes to the US, for so many reasons, but I will just have to wait and see (not my forte).  As Catherine pointed out, don’t get too depressed about the passes, and it only takes one publisher to like it and you’re on a winner.

I’m also doing copyedits, as I mentioned.  Argh!!  Hilary, you are a great copyeditor, but I am weak, and kind of pathetic.

All my lovely lyrical turns of phrase!!  All my sweet passages of unnecessary description!!  All my pretensions to literary wankery!!  All down the plughole!!!

I keep repeating that the book will be better and tighter, and in fact I can see that it will be.  But…*sigh*…some things I just want to keep.  The ones I’m really attached to in a serious way I will fight for (what ho!  with swords!).  But a lot of changes I will be happy to make, if it means that you the readers won’t be subjected to lines of dull description and awful metaphors (see the bunny one above, for an example).

I just didn’t realise, once I got through the editing stage, that copyediting would be so challenging.  But there you go – you live and learn.

Hey finally, I have to give a couple of plugs:

1)      The new website will be up soon.  The Amazing Jane from Blue Vapours is slaving away over it, and it will be ready once I stop being so persnicketty about stupid details.  It’s like a wedding dress or something (which I never had, so maybe this is a substitute), you suddenly want to get all fussy about the trim and the fabric and the beading around the neckline.  Jane is being very patient with me.
2)      I’m going to be appearing alongside the amazing Simmone Howell (fangirl squee!) and the incredibly talented Kirsten Krauth (who is a debut author like me) at the Castlemaine Word Mine on April 10 at 8pm.  We’ll be doing readings and talking a lot about the process of writing for teenagers.  So come along, even if you’re a teenager and hate listening to people talk about you in the third person (actually, we are kind of grown-up teenagers ourselves, so it won’t be that bad).
3)      3) I’m also going to read at the Newstead Short Story Tattoo in May, with OMG-Cate Kennedy.  Cate is wonderful, and gave me some lovely encouragement when I first started writing.  I’m really looking forward to seeing her again, and meeting with the other gorgeous writers on the day.

I’ll put up more details about the events when I have them, so stay tuned. And have a good weekend!!

Friday, 1 March 2013


Okay, I went to Melbourne today.  Omg, Melburnians are so grim!  See them, standing there or sitting in their seats on the train, or walking down the street in all their black clothes…  Crikey.  It’s like nobody has the energy to have a little smile.  Maybe it’s because of the weather.  It’s been so hot – that can’t be comfortable, for black-wearing people, let’s face it.  But seriously, I got a coffee from one of the uber-trendy new places in Gertrude Street, and the barista looked like he would have been equally happy pouring snake bile into my cup.
Anyway, enough about the weirdness of Melbourne, I wanted to talk about something more interesting – Literary Crushes.  I’m not talking about the author who you loved so much after reading their book you wanted to marry them.  I’m talking about book characters you have a crush on.  Whose motivations and backstory you contemplate.  Who you find yourself re-reading the book for.
I love the feeling of being in love with a character, especially a character who’s built so perfectly it makes me wish I could hug him/her and take them home.  Actually, I think I know I’m seriously crushing on a character when I don’t want to drag them out of the world they inhabit – rather, I’d like to visit them in their world.
Anyway, ahem.  Characters Whom I Love.  I have several, but here is the current Top Ten:
1) Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle) – Always occupies the top of this list, because repressed super-brains hit my kink right there.  I have been smitten with Sherlock since I was a teenager, and the love has not yet faded.
2) Homer Yannos (Tomorrow series – John Marsden) – Because hot Greek boys with wicked grins and a talent for leadership are hot?  Why are we even justifying this?
3) Wolfboy (This is Shyness – Leanne Hall) – He howls at the moon!  He wears a pair of jeans perfectly!  He has a Wolverine quiff!  His name is Jethro!  Say no more.
4) Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris) – Okay, I’m a little bit gay for Clarice Starling.  She’s young, vulnerable but strong, and she’s intelligent.  She relies on conviction and instinct as much as procedure and logic.  I have to agree with Lecter’s assessment: ‘I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.’
5) Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee) – Because he is Atticus Finch.  Actually, I think Atticus might have been one of my first crushes.
6) Jonah Griggs (On the Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta) – In uniform!  Meaty and muscular! Angst-ridden!  Kisses to die for!  Wow.  What I love most about Jonah is how solid he is – in both a literal and literary sense.  Marchetta rules.
7) Cassel Sharpe (The Curseworkers series – Holly Black) – Cassel is an awesome character – neither a black hat nor a white, he is a perfectly grey chess piece.  He understands the skill and temptation of the con, but is always torn because at heart he is a basically good person.  I could read this guy’s story forever.
8) Will Herondale (Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare) – Oh wow, I fell so hard for this guy.  So gorgeous, so full of angst!  And he’s kind of the Shadowhunter-Who-Doesn’t-Give-A-Shit, which warms the cockles of my heart.  I very much want Will to get the girl and have a happy ending when the next book finally comes out…but I will be equally happy if he doesn’t.   Bwahahahaha!!!  The Pain!!
9) Jack Irish (Bad Debts – Peter Temple) – This man has the kind of wit I love.  He won me over with his wit.  I think the football obsession might do my head in though.
10) Norah (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – David Levithan/Rachel Cohn) – Because she has great musical taste, and she could really steam up a room, and I’m interested to learn about that thing she does with her tongue.
Okay, that’s it.  I’m sure it will change again in a week, although Sherlock will still be my number one, because I’ve been in love with him for at least twenty-five years, and love that like that will never die.